Rural round-up

29/09/2021

Farmers grapple with ‘significant emotional stress’ and community pressure over forestry conversion sales – Bonnie Flaws:

A Wairarapa farmer Steve Thomson says selling his sheep and beef station to forestry three years ago was a difficult decision but he had struggled for two years to sell to other farmers.

Tensions around the issue of farms converting to forestry has been increasing because of the impact it could have on rural communities. But most see the problem as stemming from Government policy rather than greed, farmers say.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said there was no transparency about how much farm land was going to forestry because only the current land use is recorded at the time of the sale. . . 

Passion to serve rural New Zealand – Neal Wallace:

Wilson Mitchell is a young man on a mission. The University of Otago medical student is passionate about rural communities and the health and wellbeing of those who live there. He spoke to Neal Wallace.

Wilson Mitchell attributes the hours spent crutching and drenching sheep over weekends and school holidays for helping fuel his desire to work in rural health.

The satisfaction of an honest day’s physical toil is one reason for his infatuation but more so mixing with rural people and observing the dynamics of their communities.

He may just be 23 years old and five years through his studies, but Wilson’s commitment to rural health has already extended beyond good intentions. . . 

Daylight savings on the dairy farm: ‘The cows wonder why you’re an hour early’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland dairy farmer Bart Luton says his cows always notice something isn’t quite right when daylight savings hits.

“My cows will be wondering what I am doing in the paddock because I am an hour early or so. It takes them a couple of days to get used to it. They look around and think ‘you are too early’, and while you’re milking the cow flow will be a bit slower. They definitely need adjusting to it.”

Daylight saving time starts on Sunday when clocks will be turned forward one hour. Sunrise and sunset will be about an hour later than the day before and it will be lighter in the evening.

Canterbury farmer Alan Davie-Martin said cows were behavioural animals and knew when to gather at the gate. It usually took a few days for them to get used to the new timetable. . . 

Confident, not cocky: Uni student vows to run marathon in gumboots – Maia Hart:

A Marlborough teen who plans to run a marathon in her gumboots says the nerves are there, but she plans to “run it off”.

Emma Blom, who has moved to Christchurch to study at Lincoln University, is planning to run the Queenstown Marathon in November in her gumboots and overalls, to raise money for Outward Bound scholarships.

The scholarships would be aimed at people who work in the rural sector.

“I’m hoping to raise $10,000, so that four people can go on an 8-day discovery course,” Blom said.  . .

Deer industry to address emissions pricing – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers be warned, greenhouse gas (GHG) pricing is coming so get prepared, is the message from industry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is urging deer farmers to get up to speed with GHG pricing that will impact on the way they farm.

While Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ and DairyNZ are holding consultation meetings over the next two months, the deer industry as a sector will not be officially involved.

Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat says despite standing alone it’s important industry’s voice is heard and is not drowned out by views of other industries. . . 

LeaderBrand’s ambitious construction plans forge ahead despite ongoing lockdown interruptions :

LeaderBrand’s construction plans on their ambitious eleven hectare undercover farming project is forging ahead despite the ongoing interruption from lockdowns over the past couple of years.

In October 2019, Kānoa, Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, confirmed LeaderBrand was successful in securing a $15 million loan to help fund the construction of their undercover growing facility.

The project will accelerate crop growth all year round in a more sustainable manner, help to mitigate weather impacts, and create more consistent product which will secure more jobs across the year. The technology incorporated in the greenhouses is innovative and will revolutionise the way LeaderBrand will farm in the future. This includes significantly reducing fertiliser and water usage as well as protecting soil structure. . .

 


Rural round-up

11/09/2021

No sector agreement on new methane target – David Anderson:

Despite agreement among farm industry bodies that the current methane targets for the sector are excessive, not based on science and need to be changed, there is currently no plan in place to achieve this.

That’s the claim of agricultural consultant Steven Cranston, following a recent meeting of pan sector voices with Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

Cranston says one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, organised by North Otago farmer Jane Smith and held in Wellington last month, was the lack of a coherent strategy to get the methane emissions reduction target reduced (currently 24 to 47% by 2050). . . 

Visa frustrations push Timaru dairy worker towards Australia – Chris Tobin:

Ariel Ocon has been working on South Island dairy farms for 13 years, but visa frustrations have him seriously considering heading to Australia with his family.

“To stay here legally I had to apply for a work to residence visa. They (Immigration NZ) said you will wait for 16 months from the time you applied. I applied in 2019, and I’m still waiting,” Ocon, who works on a farmer near Timaru, said.

“I just received an email from them saying in two months they would allocate a case officer to process my application. I still haven’t got a case officer.”

Ocon’s frustration comes as Australia has provided financial incentives attempting to attract New Zealand immigrant dairy workers to relocate there. Ocon knows other Filipino workers who have already opted to leave. . . 

Animal welfare crisis looms as Minister butchers opportunity :

An animal welfare crisis is looming as Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor fails to pay attention to what’s going on around him, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Last year, during the first Covid lockdown, the Government spent $5.8 million buying 12,000 pig carcasses from overstocked farms and donating them to charity.

“If they hadn’t done this, we would have had an animal welfare problem of significant scale on our hands.

“Now the issue is looming again in this current lockdown and Minister O’Connor is missing in action.

“The Government’s stubborn refusal to allow butcher shops to open during all Covid levels is based on the reasoning that they are riskier than standing in a queue, or shopping at, supermarkets and dairies. . . 

Native trees to be planted on unusable forestry land to protect waterways – Bonnie Flaws:

One of the country’s largest forestry plantation owners, Aratu Forests, has signed a 90-year agreement with eLandNZ to plant native trees on unusable land, creating permanent buffers alongside waterways.

The partnership, brokered by law firm Anderson Lloyd, plans to stop forestry waste, such as logs, from being washed into waterways by planting native trees on otherwise unusable stretches of land across 33,000 hectares of forestry plantation, mostly in the Gisborne region, forestry law specialist Dan Williams​ said.

About 170 ha of riparian land would be planted this year, according to the eLandNZ website. . . 

Avocado exports face headwinds this year – Hugh Stringleman:

Avocado growers have been told to expect substantial falls in orchard gate returns (OGR) for their fruit harvested this spring and summer, mainly because of avocado oversupply in Australia.

The average price per 5.5kg tray across all sizes will be well down on the average OGRs for the past five years of $23 for fruit that was exported.

Last season was particularly good for growers, who received $26/tray and $42,000/ha OGR across slightly more than 4000ha in production, half of which is in Bay of Plenty.

Primor chief executive John Carroll says the new export season began on September 1, with some air freight to Asian markets and the first shipments to Australian supermarkets. Primor is a partner in the joint venture company Avoco, the majority exporter of avocados. .

No waster farm to plate – Rebecca Fox:

After his first visit to Queenstown, chef Ryan Henley said to himself  that is where he would retire to. But he has not had to wait that long, Rebecca Fox discovers.

Ryan Henley has his butcher’s knife out and is about to start cutting up a side of wagyu beef that has just arrived.

It is an unusual sight in a hotel kitchen to see a 400kg side of beef lying there.

But Henley would not have it any other way. His new job as executive chef at QT Queenstown means he can call the shots.

That means following his no-wastage, farm-to-plate ethos and dealing direct with producers, preferably as local as possible. . .

 

Farm alarm as more taxes spent launching another fake meat company – Chris McLennan:

Another big government authority has spent millions of taxpayer money to launch a fake meat company.

This time it is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has spent $5 million to support Sydney-based startup All G Foods through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

All G Foods plans to soon have plant-based and alternative proteins on the shelves of national supermarket chain IGA including mince, sausages, chicken, bacon and animal-free dairy products.

The new company won $16 million in seed funding. . .


Rural round-up

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


Rural round-up

15/08/2021

Farmer who supplies neighbours’ water says he’ll stop if forced to register  – Bonnie Flaws:

Tararua farmer Roger Barton​ supplies his lifestyle block neighbours with water when their rainwater tanks run low. He says it’s “neighbours being neighbours” and he doesn’t charge them.

“They’ve got two tanks and they manage that carefully and are generally fine. But if things get tight they run a hose pipe from our system overnight and over four or five nights the tank gets filled. They don’t have to get the water truck out.”

The water comes from a creek at the fringe of the Tararua ranges. Barton does not treat his water, but uses a filter. His neighbours had an ultraviolet treatment system because they were reliant on rainwater, and this would also treat Barton’s water.

“I think that is fine, sane and sensible. Why I should have to treat it before they receive it I do not know.” . .

200 exemptions for dairy workers took at best – Jason Herrick:

I have been working behind the scenes and in the media around staff shortages and reuniting families of our migrant staff in my sector.

I do this because I see it as part of my responsibility I choose to take on as sharemilker Chair for Southland Federated Farmers,  trying to get the government to see sense and allow staff to come to NZ to fill much-needed roles.

Alongside heaps of others, the government said yes to was the 200 exemptions for dairy workers and their families, I see this as token at best, a gesture to keep us quiet – because they put conditions on the exemptions that have kept the likes of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and MPI busy to negotiate better conditions. . .

Groundswell NZ presents petition on ‘unworkable’ regulations to parliament – Laura Hooper:

A Groundswell NZ co-founder has presented the group’s petition against what it calls “unworkable regulations’’ for farmers to the Government.

Last month, Groundswell NZ took to the streets alongside thousands of supporters in around 50 towns across New Zealand to protest against regulations, including compulsory sowing dates, winter grazing rules and the “ute tax”.

On Thursday, group co-founder Laurence Paterson and Rural Advocacy Network chairman Jamie McFadden presented a petition, calling for a review of some regulations, to the Environment select committee.

The petition originally began to call for a review of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which the group says applies a “one-size-fits-all” approach on sowing dates, winter grazing and best catchment practises. . .

 

Push for govt  incentives to producebio-fuel from local forestry waste – Jonathan Milne:

Warnings that existing ethanol-blended biofuels can’t be used in most storage tanks and pipelines – so new Sustainable Biofuel Mandate will come at a cost.

The clock is ticking at Marsden Point oil refinery. Chief executive Naomi James says they have mere months to reach agreement on converting the refinery to a biofuels production facility, for local forestry waste, before they are forced to begin laying off staff and decommissioning plant.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has expressed interest in the potential to convert the refinery to biofuel production, and James confirms they are in talks with government. But they need quick decisions because once they lose skilled engineers, they won’t be coming back; once they decommission big plant like the hydro-treater unit, there is no turning back.

James confirmed that in its submission on the planned Sustainable Biofuel Mandate, Refining NZ is arguing for government incentives for domestic biofuel production, like grants or Emissions Trading Scheme exemptions. . .

KiwiSaver provider Booster invests over $10m into avocado grower Darling Group – Tamsyn Parker:

The private equity investment arm of KiwiSaver provider Booster has invested more than $10 million into buying a 42 per cent stake in Katikati-based avocado grower and exporter Darling Group.

Booster, which has around $3 billion invested in its KiwiSaver scheme and is the 10th largest provider, is one of the few KiwiSaver schemes which invests in unlisted private companies through its Tahi LP fund.

Private company investment offers the potential for higher returns but are also a less liquid investment as their shares are not traded on a public market making it harder to sell out quickly.

Tahi already owns a number of wineries, as well as having stakes in Sunchaser Avocados, Dodson Motorsport and financial services company Lifetime. . . 

Livestock farm working dogs in Australia and New Zealand tested in Cobber Challenge – Chris McLennan and Daina Oliver:

The endurance athletes of Australia’s sprawling livestock farms are battling it out to claim the title of 2021 champion working dog.

Over three weeks, 12 loyal canines will run hundreds of kilometres in the course of their daily jobs herding sheep and cattle.

The Cobber Challenge celebrates and tests the endurance of working dogs and this year, for the first time, the Australians will be pitted against competitors working across the Tasman.

GPS collars will track their distance, working duration and speed over 21 days from Monday, August 16 and points will be awarded based on daily activity. . .


Rural round-up

14/04/2021

Time to listen – Rural News:

Now that submissions have formally closed on the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) draft recommendations, released in February, on reducing NZ’s emissions profile, will it actually listen and act on the advice it has received?

It is not hard to get cynical about so-called ‘consultation’. With this Government – more often than not – it is merely a box-ticking exercise, with little or no real changes made to its overall political objective.

One only has to look at its freshwater legislation and the negligible changes it made to this following ‘industry consultation’, for the country’s farmers to be rightfully nervouse about what regulations will be imposed upon them in the emissions reductions space.

The CCC’s draft advice recommended – among a plethora of changes across the economy – the Government should adopt measures that would hugely reduce livestock number on farms and see more good farmland planted in trees. . .

Hitting our target – Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace:

The Climate Change Commission is suggesting we need to reduce livestock numbers by up to 15% to enable agriculture to meet its methane emission targets. This week the Farmers Weekly begins a series looking at the implications of such a drop and what options are available.

A 15% reduction in livestock numbers may be the only way to meet tough new methane targets being recommended by the Climate Change Commission as there is no silver bullet yet available.

Researchers are working on breeding, farm systems and feed technology and the impact of new nitrogen limits will help, but the consensus is it will be tough to meet the commission’s 15.9% reduction by 2035 without some lowering of stock numbers. 

The commission claims that better feeding, breeding and land use change to horticulture, exotic and native forestry, will see farm livestock numbers fall 15% below 2018 levels by 2030, enabling biogenic methane targets to be met without new technology. . .

Local farmers grow quality wheat but most of us aren’t eating it. Here’s why – Bonnie Flaws:

Wheat farmers are some of most productive in the world but the vast majority of it is sold for animal feed while the bread we eat is made using imported Australian flour.

That was not always the case. Historically the country produced its own grain for baked products and not that long ago there were 30 or 40 mills across the country. Going back further there were hundreds of mills, according to the book, Flour Milling in New Zealand.

The country was self-sufficient in wheat production until government control of the industry under the Wheat Board ended in 1987, and led to imports by the mid-1990s.

The Foundation for Arable Research chief executive Alison Stewart said like many other industries, consolidation took its toll and big companies with economies of scale took over milling. . .

Spirit’s are up for makers of NZ’s first tequila – Country Life:

Golden Bay is a long way from home for the agave plant, a native of Latin America and most commonly found in Mexico.

Terry Knight is growing several thousand to produce top-shelf tequila at his Kiwi spirit distillery at Motupipi.

His plantation of Weber’s blue agave tequilana is the only plant stock and plantation in New Zealand.

Terry’s agave adventure started 20 years ago when he bought some seeds from a friend, who got them from a private collection in France. . .

Northland peanut farmers toast to Pic’s growth deal :

It’s crunch time in Northland for a pioneering peanut crop which government agencies hope could provide a viable product for the area.

Most people know the Kaipara region as kumara country, but things are changing. While in recent years there’s been a lot more dairy, things are now starting to look downright nutty.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has teamed up with the makers of Pic’s Peanut Butter to trial growing peanuts near Dargaville.

The hope is to create a totally homegrown peanut product – a perfect addition to toasts across the country. . .

New Countryside Code falls short on sheep worrying :

Sheep farmers have criticised the new Countryside Code for placing little recognition on the rising problem of irresponsible dog ownership and livestock worrying.

Changes in the guidance issued by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales include information on walking only on footpaths and not feeding livestock.

But the National Sheep Association (NSA) says not enough attention has been given to the issue of sheep worrying and out-of-control dogs.

Farmers have suffered an increase in attacks by dogs over the past year, as dog ownership has increased and walking in rural areas has become one of the few activities to be enjoyed during lockdown. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/03/2021

Border exemptions for The Lion King show Government is not listening, farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural businesses affected by the severe seasonal labour shortage say the Government is not listening to their concerns, after it was revealed that 126 people involved in The Lion King play had been granted visas under the “other critical worker” category.

Owner of farm work agency, Hanzon Jobs, Richard Houston, said he felt his industry had been “disregarded”.

Kiwifruit grower and packer, Seeka chief executive, Michael Franks, said labour was going to be “very tight” next month, which meant people were working long hours and he was concerned about possible health and safety implications.

“It’s clear that the Government is not listening to us. I predict it’s going to get tighter, particular after Easter when we open our night shifts and we get our processing business up to speed,” Franks said. . . 

Unity needed to tackle rules -Annette Scott:

While it is encouraging that the Government has listened to the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, it is also the trigger reiterating that farmers must keep being heard, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

The environmental reset facing the high country farming sector proved the underlying current in the presentations and discussions for more than 100 farmers and industry stakeholders who turned out for a field trip through the Lees Valley, North Canterbury, taking in Richon and McDonald Downs Stations.

The day followed the announcement by Environment Minister David Parker that the Government had accepted some of the group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led intensive winter grazing module to farm plans in the coming year, while also delaying implementation of the winter grazing rules.

In his presentation at the field day, Allen said the announcement was the result of farmers and industry front-footing action for farmer-led practical solutions that will achieve better results than arbitrary rules. . . 

Launching the New Zealand Dairy Story:

Our dairy story is one of Dairy Goodness for the World.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been developed in partnership with the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), with input from DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, and Dairy Women’s Network; with support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The development of the story established seven defining elements as part of the sector’s story:

Natural
New Zealand is favoured by nature when it comes to making milk, with a climate, soils and abundant water that create a perfect environment for growing grass. Our cows can access pasture year-round. Our geography means New Zealand is free from many pests and diseases, supporting healthy cows and allowing us to farm with a lighter hand. . . 

No more nail polish for woman who gave up life in accounts for organic farming – Lawrence Gullery:

Shannon Wright used to go to work wearing nail polish on her fingers but now she comes home with soil under her fingernails.

It has been almost five years since she swapped out her office job to start a business growing and supplying vegetables for farmers markets, organic food outlets and supermarkets in Hamilton and Cambridge.

“I used to work in accounts, payroll, HR, health and safety for a firm in Te Rapa but things started to change after I had Izabel, my third child.

“I went along to a permaculture course when she was nine months old and that really started the ball rolling. . . 

Farming families celebrate – Richard Davison:

Organisers of an annual celebration of rural history are crossing their fingers Covid-19 will not intervene again this year.

After having to postpone last year’s Century Farms event due to the Covid-19 lockdown, organisers said they were hoping a long list of patient participants would finally be able to celebrate in Lawrence this May.

The event, which celebrates families who have been farming their own land for 100 years or more, held its first and, until now, largest gathering in 2006, but was due to beat that record with 70 attending families spread over two weekends last year.

Century Farms chairwoman Karen Roughan said she was delighted only one family had dropped off that roster since, although it still left the three-day event vulnerable to a change in Covid-19 alert status. . . 

 

Sanatech Seed launches world’s first GE tomato – Maura Maxwell:

Sanatech Seed, the Japanese start-up behind the launch of the world’s first direct consumption genome-edited tomato, says the variety is the first of several it plans to develop with enhanced nutritional benefits.

The company’s Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato was developed using cutting edge CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. It contains high levels of Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA), an amino acid believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure.

According to Shimpei Takeshita, president of Sanatech Seed and chief innovation officer of Pioneer EcoScience, the exclusive distributor of the tomato, it contains four to five times more GABA than a regular tomato. . . 


Rural round-up

04/03/2021

Inexperienced farm machine operators ‘cause havoc’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Harvest is in full swing across the country, and while rural contractors have managed to get workers in the tractor driving seat, in many cases the work hasn’t been up to the necessary standard, industry commentators say.

Rural Contractors president David Kean said the organisation had done everything Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor had asked to fill the worker shortage left by border closures, but reports of inexperienced workers causing havoc were common.

“If you can imagine that you’ve got a guy on the tractor that doesn’t know how to work that tractor to its full potential, so he leaves it in the wrong gear and he over-revs it, which overheats the machine.

“There was an incident that cost a contractor $60,000 because something went through the bailer. There’s been quite a few issues like from what I’ve heard but contractors don’t want to speak out and run down the workers.” . . 

‘Pretty extraordinary’ – Fonterra on GDT results – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra’s reliable supply chain and strong demand from China and South East Asia are helping drive dairy prices up, says co-op chief executive Miles Hurrell.

In an email to farmer suppliers, Hurrell described the overnight Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction results as “pretty extraordinary”.

The GDT price index jumped 15% compared to the previous auction, its eight consecutive price rise. Whole milk powder prices, used by Fonterra to set its milk payout, rose a whopping 21% to US$4364/MT, a seven-year high. Hurrell says farmers would be keen to know what the latest result means for Fonterra’s farmgate milk price. . .

AgMatch grows wool range – Neal Wallace:

It’s niche and has strict specifications to be met, but a farmer collective buying and selling group is proving that consumers still love crossbred wool.

AgMatch is using member’s wool to make jerseys, socks, carpet and carpet underlay, which is then sold via the members and the AgMatch website, earning growers up to $40/kg net for the wool used.

The group’s newest venture is floor coverings, with suppliers recently taking delivery of 900 lineal metres of carpet manufactured in Australia, enough for more than 40 homes.

Most has already been sold for $300 a lineal metre. . .

Doing the unimaginable – Gerald Piddock:

Despite never having farmed, a Waikato couple who had successful careers in Australia, returned home to milk sheep on the family farm and have had to learn everything from scratch.

Imagine quitting your career to embark on a new profession that is the least likely and most unexpected thing one envisions themselves doing.

That’s exactly what Matthew and Katherine Spataro did when they ditched the city grind by shifting from Melbourne to the outskirts of Te Awamutu to milk sheep. . . 

Thousands enjoy terrier-ific day at show

From highland dancers to livestock competitions, the North Otago A&P Show in Oamaru had it all.

However, the most exciting event was the terrier race on Saturday when 20 or so specimens, of widely varying shapes and sizes, raced to catch a dead rabbit tethered to a four-wheeler.

Taking the win was Thomas, a speedy dog who won for the second year in a row.

His owner, Tomlyn Morrissey, of Southland, was happy to see his name on the cup again. Mrs Morrissey’s pooch was so fast the race had been restarted because he caught the rabbit before getting halfway to the finish. . .

Call goes out for kiwifruit pickers and packers:

The first kiwifruit will be picked off the vines this week and growers across the country anticipate needing around 23,000 workers for the harvest. The harvest runs through till June and is expected to produce even more than last year’s record of 157 million trays of Green and Gold.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says ongoing COVID-19 overseas travel restrictions mean growers will be looking to offer job opportunities to even more New Zealanders to provide most of the workforce – meeting the shortfall of people on the RSE scheme from the Pacific islands and working holiday visa-holders.

As in previous years, NZKGI has been working for several months to prepare for the season opening and the significant labour requirements. . . 

Farmers apply to Defra to grow genome-edited wheat:

Researchers are preparing an application to the government to run a field trial of a new genome edited wheat, the first such trial to be carried out in Europe.

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have used genome editing to reduce a cancer-causing compound commonly found in toast.

Acrylamide forms during bread baking and is further increased when bread is toasted: the darker the toast, the more of this carcinogenic compound it contains.

Now the team have used genome editing to develop a type of wheat that is less likely to produce acrylamide when baked. . . 


Rural round-up

16/12/2020

Agriculture minister warned of impact of Covid-19 on industry’s future – Eric Frykberg:

Minister of agriculture Damien O’Connor has been has warned that the primary sector faces strong headwinds as the impact of Covid-19 lingers on into coming years.

In its traditional briefing to the incoming minister, the Ministry for Primary Industries said the global economy was forecast to decline by 4.4 percent this year.

Although agriculture withstood the impact of Covid-19 better than most sectors and enjoyed growth of 4.6 percent annually between 2010 and 2020, it would be exposed to weak demand from a nervous world economy, and some sectors were likely to struggle financially.

This problem would be especially severe as governments around the world eased back on fiscal and monetary stimulation, thereby reducing the buffer between ordinary businesses and general economic conditions. . . 

Government warned about potential spread of wilding pines – Eric Frykberg:

The government has been warned that without controls, wilding pines could cover one fifth of all New Zealand’s land area by 2035.

The warning came in a briefing to the incoming minister of biosecurity, Damien O’Connor.

These briefings come after every election and alert an incoming minister to the main problems that must be dealt with.

The briefing from Biosecurity New Zealand, which is part of MPI, said some progress had been made in dealing with wilding pines. . . 

1980s downturn recorded in book – Linda Clarke:

Mid Canterbury farmers today are among the most productive on the planet, but 35 years ago they were angry and bitter about government policies that were driving some from their land.

The rural downturn of the 1980s had a big impact on the district’s farmers and their families. The businesses of Ashburton suffered, too.

Emotional and hard decisions made then continue to have ramifications for some families today, says first-time author Alison Argyle, who has published a book about the downturn and its resulting grief, stress and challenges.

She spent nearly three years interviewing 40 farmers, workers, farm consultants, bankers, social workers and others and has woven their stories into a 130-page book called The Half Banana Years. . .

Strawberry prices squished as exports drop :

Strawberry prices fell 43 percent in November 2020 as COVID-19 border restrictions reduced exports, Stats NZ said today.

Soaring air freight costs since COVID-19 border closures has made exporting products much more expensive, and a shortage of international workers in the fruit picking industry has meant that growers can’t pick their fields fast enough, meaning that many berries are too ripe for exporting.

“With less exports there is more supply available for domestic consumption, causing lower prices,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said.

Strawberry prices were an average price of $3.45 per 250g punnet in November, down from $6.04 in October. . . 

Lamb numbers up, despite a challenging year for farmers – Bonnie Flaws:

Despite tough droughts and meat processing restrictions as a result of Covid-19, farmers have achieved a near record number of lambs this season.

For every 100 ewes, an average of 130 lambs were born compared with an average of 124 over the prior 10 years, Beef and Lamb New Zealand says.

Its Lamb Crop Outlook report for 2020, which forecasts the next year’s exports, showed the total number of lambs born this year was only slightly less than in spring 2019 when 131 lambs were born for every 100 ewes. . .

What does resilience really mean? – Lorraine Gordon:

Story brought to you by THE REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE ALLIANCE and FARMING TOGETHER PROGRAM.

In November 2019, off the back of the toughest drought in Australian history, my family farm at Ebor was ‘smashed’ by the Ebor fire at one end of the property and the East Cattai fire at the other end.

This took out approximately 20kms of boundary fence and $700,000 in infrastructure. These catastrophic fires completely devastated our landscape in a few hours.

Come March, we had just re-opened our farm tourism and function centre, when COVID-19 hit. This shut down our tourism business for much of the remaining year.

This is a familiar 2020 story for many Australians. It initiated a deep dive on my behalf into what makes people and landscapes truly resilient. . . 


Rural round-up

15/11/2020

‘Frustration and desperation’ as harvest workers struggle to enter NZ – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural contractors and farmers are “beside themselves with frustration and desperation” at the log jam in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, despite 100 new rooms being made available on Monday.

Rural Contactors chief executive Roger Parton said in a statement that the industry was at crisis point trying to get sufficient labour into the country, after suffering a series of delays and setbacks already.

The Cabinet approved 210 border exemptions for rural contractors in September but many have not yet made it in.

Parton said that unless more managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities were made available urgently only one third of workers approved by the Cabinet would make itto New Zealand. . . 

Likely reduction in overseas travellers picking blueberries in Southland – Jamie Searle and Jo Mckenzie-Mclean:

A blueberry farm manager is hopeful he’ll get 100 workers needed to pick this summer’s crop but with borders being closed the usual tourists are scarce to hire.

Blueberry Country Southland general manager Simon Bardon said up to 100 extra staff could be needed during the six-week season, starting in early to mid-January, at the company’s farm near Otautau.

“We are facing challenges [to get workers] but every business in New Zealand is facing its own challenges.

“Covid-19 has made us all nervous, it’s changed the environment.” . . 

Challenges of new job ‘invigorating’ – Sally Rae:

Sirma Karapeeva began her new role as chief executive of the Meat Industry Association on April 9 this year — “slap bang in the middle of Covid”.

While the timing might have appeared a little unfortunate, there was no choice and she took it in her stride.

“To be honest, in crisis comes resilience and creativity and energy,” she said.

It was fortunate Ms Karapeeva had worked in the organisation for five years and knew its membership well. . . 

Genetic diagnosis life-changing – Yvonne O’Hara:

Allesha Ballard feels like her life is on hold as she waits for a date for surgery to have her stomach removed.

As she waits, life on a Southland dairy farm has become even more important.

The Dacre contract milker decided on the operation after she and her two siblings tested positive for the inherited cancer-causing gene CDH1.

She and her brother, Josh Ballard, and sister, Melissa Thompson, had watched a programme about singer Stan Walker, who had inherited the gene and later developed stomach cancer, then had his stomach removed.

Their father, Bryce Ballard, had died from stomach cancer nine years earlier. . . 

Applications open for 2021 Meat Industry Association scholarships:

Students considering a future career in New Zealand’s red meat sector are encouraged to apply for a Meat Industry Association Scholarship.

Six undergraduate scholarships providing $5,000 a year for each year of study and four post-graduate awards of $10,000 a year for each year of study are awarded to the successful applicants.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said the awards are aimed at scholars who are looking to contribute their skills to New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Our scholarships provide a great pathway for undergraduate or graduate students into what is a productive, innovative and progressive sector. There are significant and exciting opportunities for young people.” . . 

Lambpro ram sale becomes highest grossing single vendor Australian stud sale -Lucy Kinbacher:

The Lambpro prime lamb brand cemented itself in the seedstock record books last week as the highest grossing single vendor beef or sheep studstock sale in the country.

In a year when the supply of sires has struggled to keep up with buyer demand, Holbrook’s Tom Bull and his team didn’t struggle to clear just over 1200 ram lambs across two days for an overall average of $3295 and gross of $3.977 million.

On Thursday 304 of 327 terminal and Lambpro Tradie rams sold to average $1459 before auctioneer Paul Dooley and Elders agent Ross Milne raced through 903 Primeline Maternal rams in four hours on Friday to average $3913 and top at $15,000 to Buckley Farms, Mt Gambier, South Australia.

Sometimes it took them just 40 to 50 seconds to sell individual lots. . . 


Rural round-up

30/09/2020

Storm reminiscent of 2010 mega-storm that killed hundreds of thousands of lambs, say Fed Farmers – Bonnie Flaws & Rachael Kelly:

Farmers in the Otago and Southland regions of the South Island say any lambs born overnight on Monday could not have survived.

Federated Farmers Southland vice-president Bernadette Hunt said it was beginning to look a lot like 2010, when a nasty storm followed by days of rain left an estimated 250,000 to one million lambs dead.

“Before this event started, the province was already wet, now there’s this ongoing event with snow and wind, and there’s a wet forecast to follow.

“Farmers were well-prepared, but as this drags on, the sheltered areas are turning to mud, making conditions awful for lambs and ewes. Coupled with the windchill, this is tough even on lambs that are several days old, and on ewes whose milk production will be affected,” she said. . . 

Think rural mental health while drafting policies – Sudesh Kissun:

The effects of government policies on rural communities and farmer wellbeing must be considered when drafting them, says Federated Farmers dairy section chair Wayne Langford.

“As we move from a quantity to quality form of agriculture, having a clear mind is key and will result in amazing increases in productivity, profitability and passion for farming,” he told Dairy News.

Langford made the comments to mark the Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand last week. He joined other sector leaders in urging rural mental health to be a priority.

Langford, who farms in Golden Bay, says mental health support for farmers and others working in agriculture has improved immensely over the last ten years. However, he says there is an opportunity to increase training through inter-personal skills and personality profiling. . . 

Tough times called for tough decisions – Sudesh Kissun:

Retiring Fonterra chairman John Monaghan steps down from the cooperative’s board, satisfied at leaving behind a business in good stead.

Monaghan took over as chairman in July 2018, right in the middle of Fonterra’s financial struggles and just months before the departure of then-chief executive Theo Spierings.

After two years of financial losses, Fonterra this month announced a $659 million annual profit, turning around a $605m loss the previous year.

Regarded as a safe pair of hands, Monaghan –backed by a management team led by chief executive Miles Hurrell – steered the co-op back to profitability.

Complex family legacy – and name – continued on farm – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Scottish lairds and ladies, ancient deeds, unimaginable wealth, the slave trade.

The Glassford family history reads like an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, the British genealogy documentary series on the BBC.

Central Otago farmer Antony William Gordon Glassford chuckles at the suggestion that his descent from a Scottish tobacco lord could make him “Tony the Toff”. No silk frockcoats for this fifth-generation New Zealander, who farms near Omakau.

Tony Glassford’s family have farmed Dougalston, the name taken from his ancestors’ long vanished Scottish estate, at Drybread for 156 years. They have been recognised twice in the Century Farm Awards, which is given to properties in continuous ownership for 100 years, or in their case for more than 150 years. . . 

FarmIQ appoints chief executive officer:

FarmIQ is pleased to announce the appointment of Will Noble in the role of Chief Executive Officer, starting in late September 2020.

Mr Noble is an experienced strategic and operational leader. He is a strong all-rounder with a background in a range of areas such as digital, software-as-a-service, niche market, management consulting, advisory, and project management. His most recent role was as the Client Services Director at Fujitsu New Zealand.

FarmIQ’s Chairman John Quirk says, “Mr Noble is a customer-orientated New Zealand business leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and solutions-focused approach. Will has demonstrated he can transform organisations to achieve growth in complex environments through a focus on innovation, customers and his team. . . 

Farmers warned to check fuel tanks after driver seriously injured:

Farmers are being warned that poorly maintained tripod tanks are a serious health and safety risk to fuel users.

The safety alert from the Fuel Distributors Industry Safety Committee and WorkSafe New Zealand follows a recent incident where a fuel tanker driver was seriously injured on a farm where a tripod overhead tank collapsed while he was filling it.

The root cause of the collapse was significant rust corrosion on one of the tank legs. Farm implements close to the tank also contributed to the driver’s injuries.

“No farmer wants to be responsible for an incident like this happening on their farm,” says Al McCone, WorkSafe Agriculture Lead. . .


Rural round-up

18/09/2020

Dr Doug Edmeades responds to Green Party agriculture policy:

The Green Party’s plan to help Kiwi farmers transition from traditional agriculture to regenerative and organic practices is a bit redundant, according to Dr Doug Edmeades.

Most farmers are already using many regenerative agriculture practices, such as rotational grazing, and zero tillage, the soil scientist told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“Let’s not delude ourselves that if we follow RA, we will improve soil health, we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve water quality – that’s nonsense.”

Edmeades listened with interest to yesterday’s interview with Green Party co-leader James Shaw, where the Minister said regenerative agriculture would result in better profits for farmers. . . 

‘This just cannot happen’: $9.5 billion at risk as horticulture sector struggles to fill $25-an-hour jobs – Bonnie Flaws:

The shortage of horticultural workers due to Covid-19 border restrictions is putting $9.5 billion of the country’s economy at risk, says New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard.

About 10,000 seasonal workers would be needed starting from next month to prune and pick $1 billion worth of fruit across Hawke’s Bay alone, he said.

The shortage had the potential to cripple the region’s economic recovery.

“This just cannot happen.” . . 

Fonterra set to return to profit, but will it pay a dividend? – Jamie Gray:

Fonterra’s annual result this week is expected to show that the dairy giant is back in the black, but will it pay a final dividend?

The co-op last year posted a net loss of $605 million, driven mostly by writedowns of its overseas businesses, dwarfing the previous year’s shortfall of $196m, and sparking a major change in direction.

Fonterra did not pay a dividend in its previous financial year but in its latest earnings update, it said it would reassess a payout at the end of the latest year to July 31. . . 

The future of food – Greg Bruce:

Most of New Zealand’s lowland areas are now devoted to food production. How we produce food for consumption, sale and export continues to shape our landscape and lives, but the 90 per cent of New Zealanders who live in cities have little contact with those processes and the social and environmental considerations they create.

Can farmers improve yields and use resources more efficiently? Can consumers reconnect with the land and farm practices to make more informed choices and reduce waste? What is the future of our food?

THE LATE MAY EVENING my wife and I went to Coco’s Cantina for dinner, it was appallingly cold, probably the coldest night of the year. I wore a long black double-breasted wool coat, which I call ‘The Aucklander’ because it so obviously marks me as a stereotypical city person, which I am—lacking DIY skills, any sort of self-sufficiency, and any idea of what it takes to survive without a supermarket within easy driving distance. . .

Ewe’ll be seeing spots with quintuplets – Daisy Hudson:

You could be forgiven for thinking you were going dotty.

Sue Rissman certainly did when one of her ewes delivered five spotted black and white lambs on Sunday.

The quintuplets, four girls and a boy, seemed perfectly unaware of the interest in them yesterday as they trotted around after their mum on the 21ha lifestyle block Mrs Rissman and her husband, Grant, own inland from Palmerston.

The pair have 47 ewes, which have overwhelmingly delivered twins and triplets. . .

Two farming families form state of the art dairy business :

Two farming families from the Conwy Valley in Wales have gone into a partnership to run as a single state-of-the art dairy business.

The families decided to join together for a better work-life balance, more stock, less pressure and the prospect of new opportunities.

Young farmer Emyr Owen, 30, from Bodrach, near Pandy Tudur, farms in partnership with his parents on a 185-acre former beef and sheep farm.

He joined up with his next door neighbour Gwydion Jones, 38, whose family formerly farmed a herd of 150 dairy cattle at the neighbouring 95-acre Ty’n Ffynnon farm.. . 


Rural round-up

31/08/2020

Millions of tonnes of food at risk without foreign contractors farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers stand to lose $110 million if and 27 million tonnes of food could go to waste if the Government does not allow at least 200 skilled heavy machine operators into the country, a new survey from rural contractors shows.

Contracting firms were desperate to get border exemptions for hundreds of heavy machine operators from overseas to carry out harvesting, hay baling and slurry removal, Rural Contractors chief executive Roger Parton said.

“There are huge implications for the farmers concerned and resulting shortages of feed for animals, especially if climatic events occur,” Parton said.

The survey showed 8200 farmers and 57 contracting firms around the country relied on foreign seasonal labour between October and March. Workers were usually recruited from the Britan and Ireland. . . 

Meat industry continues to do superb job – Allan Barber:

The return of community transmission underlines the excellent performance of the whole meat industry since Covid 19 reached New Zealand nearly six months ago in March. Farmers, transport and logistics operators, sale yards, exporters and domestic processors have all combined to ensure the health and safety of participants, while meeting the demands of customers, with only a minimal number of temporary plant closures. This contrasts markedly with experience overseas in countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Germany with admittedly a much higher incidence of coronavirus outbreaks in the rest of the world than here.

In April seven major American meat facilities shut down with cold storage inventories of beef, pork and poultry equivalent to two weeks of total production and almost half of Canada’s beef processing capacity was halted after Cargill’s closure and a slowdown by JBS in Alberta. A feature of the interruption to processing in the USA was the great difficulty for farmers to get their stock processed, accompanied by a surge in retail pricing which reflected positively in processor margins, while livestock prices plummeted. . . 

A glimmer of hope for New Zealand strong wool – David Anderson:

A Lincoln-based wool products company believes it offers a glimmer of hope against the increasing negativity currently saturating New Zealand’s strong wool industry.

Keraplast Manufacturing processes strong wool into natural keratin proteins for the booming global nutraceuticals market. Keratin is an essential component of hair, finger and toenails, and skin. The company sells its keratin products as an ingredient for use in health (wound treatment), and skin, hair and nail beauty products world-wide.

Keraplast general manager Paul Sapsford says a recent innovation involves a bioactive keratin product that’s taken in tablet or drink form to “supercharge” the body’s production of collagen, promoting wrinkle reduction and supporting hair follicle and nail strength. . . 

RMPP Action Network extended:

The Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network programme has been extended until early next year.

The RMPP Action Network is an initiative to support farmers to develop the confidence to turn ideas into action on-farm. It’s made up of farmer action groups of seven to nine farm businesses. 

Action groups are farmer-led and supported by trained facilitators to guide a group and help identify experts who can share new knowledge and ideas needed to achieve their goals . .

Autogrow releases public API to empower growers:

Autogrow has released a public API (Application Programming Interface) allowing connectivity between their Folium sensor network and other farm sensor data.

“Growers currently feel frustrated by not having systems that speak to each other. And the truth is that, until other large industry players also provide public APIs, growers are always going to be constrained in what they can do with their data. But we’re leading the charge,” explains Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Morgan.

“We know that many growers use CSV exports like Microsoft Excel, which can be slow, labour-intensive and requires a lot of manipulation to get benefit. . . 

Biochar and zinc application can improve wheat grown in certain soils:

Researchers from The University of Western Australia’s Institute of Agriculture and Sultan Qaboos University in Oman have found that the combined application of biochar and zinc can mitigate stress in wheat caused by the heavy metal cadmium.

Cadmium reduces the growth, yield, and zinc concentration in wheat grain due to oxidative stress. Its accumulation in soil can cause significant health risks to humans if it is introduced into the food chain via crops. 

The study, published in Chemosphere, is the first to show that the combined application of biochar and zinc to cadmium-contaminated soil improved both yield and grain zinc concentration, and reduced cadmium concentrations in grain. . . 


Rural round-up

25/07/2020

Irrigation NZ restructures in response to sector’s needs:

Irrigation New Zealand is restructuring to put renewed focus on solving the tension between the fundamental need for irrigation in a post-COVID New Zealand, and the sector’s increasingly restricted licence to operate.

In addition, the loss of IrrigationNZ’s flagship conference due to lockdown meant the organisation experienced significant financial loss creating reason to review, reset and refocus.

As such, the Board of IrrigationNZ has restructured the organisation to reflect a new two-pronged approach to focus on advocacy at a national level, as well as deliver value ‘on the ground’ in the regions. The following changes have been made: . .

Rain fails to wash away problems – Colin Williscroft:

The drought might have been broken across most of Hawke’s Bay but many farmers are still dealing with its effects.

Jacqui Anderson, who with husband Wayne has farms at Waipukurau in Central Hawke’s Bay and Maraekakaho, west of Hastings, says the extended drought followed by plenty of rain over the past month has affected each property differently.

They couple have farmed at Waipukurau for 20 years, mainly trading bulls, and put plans in place early. They did a feed budget last year knowing the number of bulls they were likely to carry over winter so bought balage when it wasn’t too hard to get. . . 

From drought to deluge, farmer loses 30 hectares of grass – Amy WIlliams:

A Northland swamp farmer has lost hectares of grass to flooding just months after a drought dried up pastures.

Evan Smeath has farmed a dairy herd on his 190 hectare farm at the top end of the Hikurangi Swamp just north of Whangārei for 42 years.

“This was some of the most intense rainfall I’ve seen in all the time we’ve been here but they’re not the biggest floods,” Smeath said.

“This one came so quick, so fast, it’s done a bit of damage to the fencing and drains. . .

Māori tech business creates app to streamline job matching for seasonal workers – Bonnie Flaws:

A new app that connects seasonal workers with horticultural employers promises to streamline the hiring process.

It was notoriously difficult for horticulture businesses to find and keep skilled staff, Jobloads founder Candice Pardy said.

As a persimmon orchard owner who has struggled to find workers when needed, Pardy said she knew first-hand the frustration of employers. . . 

Want bacon but really prefer to eat lamb? Here’s the product for you – Bonnie Flaws:

Have you ever sat down to breakfast and thought: “I wish this bacon was really made of lamb?”

Auckland butcher Nadine Bates is stocking an unusual product on offer at her shop – lamb bacon. She says it’s a “mind-teasing” alternative to the traditional stuff.

And while you might think of bacon as something that solely comes from pigs, Bates says in fact it can be made from any meat. It’s the curing process that makes something bacon, not the fact that it’s pork, she says. . .

Cutting edge tech removing need for inspectors in meat plants – Shan Goodwin:

Beef and sheep meat processors are well down the road to removing the need for inspectors to come on-site to conduct audits, thanks to cutting-edge augmented reality smart glasses technology.

Australian immersive technology solution company Bondi Labs has been working for several years on wearable, artificial intelligence enabled hands-free technology that would allow for the remote seeing and assisting of tasks and operations within a meat processing facility in real-time.

The initial catalyst for the work was addressing supply chain transparency and quality assurance non-compliance issues in real time globally to build greater trust and confidence in those supply chains. . .


Rural round-up

21/07/2020

Coronavirus leads to uncertainty for slinkskin industry – Rachael Kelly:

Southland farmers may have to dispose of dead stock on their own farms this spring as the Covid-19 pandemic takes a toll on the slinkskin industry.

Usually dead stock is picked up by slinkskin companies, which process the skins for export, but Southland’s two processors were yet to decide whether they would collect dead lambs this spring.

And while company has implemented a charge for dead calf and cow collection, another has put their calf collection on hold.

Trevor Newton, of Newton Slinkskins at Mataura, said he had made the decision to put the calf collection on hold this season, and a decision on whether the company would collect dead lambs would be made ‘’in due course.’’ . . 

Mataura Valley Milk needs more money to stay afloat – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland milk company Mataura Valley Milk will require additional funding to stay afloat, after reporting a net loss of $47 million in the financial year ending December 2019.

The company, which earlier this year had been eyed up by a2 milk as a potential investment target, reported a projected funding deficit of $26 million by December 2020.

Financial statements were filed with Companies Office on July 14.

Shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group would provide financial support by helping to pay debts as well as offering possible cash injections and shareholder loans. The latter would not require principal or interest repayments if it would cause the company to default on debts. . . 

Rain in Bay helps but a long way to go – Peter Burke:

A Hawke’s Bay farm consultant is pleasantly surprised by what has happened in the region over the past few weeks, with rain falling in most places.

Lochie MacGillivray, who works for AgFirst and is also the chairperson of the Rural Advisory Group set up to help manage the drought recovery, says there has been an improvement in conditions. He says Hawkes Bay has had mild weather and soft rain, and the pasture response has been phenomenal.

“Typically, at this time of the year, farmers might think of having 9kg of dry matter growth, but right now they are getting between 12 and 14kg of dry matter,”

MacGillivray told Rural News. He says farmers will still have to conserve feed for their animals, but the good weather has enabled pastures to recover and shortened the time between now and the end of winter. . . 

Putting the fun back in farming – Andrew Hoggard:

 Federated Farmers’ new president Andrew Hoggard says farmers need more fun and less admin.

I have been involved with Federated Farmers leadership for 17 years now, starting out as the Young Farmers rep, then moving into the provincial Vice-Dairy role once I became an old fart at 31.

Now I have only three years left – or less if I really suck at my new job as national president.

Since taking on the role three weeks ago I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to what I would like to see achieved in my term

It’s certainly not lost on me the responsibilities that go with this privileged position within New Zealand’s agricultural scene. . . 

Keeping the lustre alive – Sally Round:

Despite the dire prices for wool, a couple in Kapiti are continuing a 130-year family tradition breeding sheep for their lustrous fleece.

Country Life producer Sally Round dropped in.

Ravenswood has a long history breeding the hardy English Leicester whose long curly wool has been likened to Bob Marley’s dreadlocks.

Its genetics contributed to the New Zealand Halfbred and Corriedale so it’s been a big player in the development of the country’s sheep industry.

Ravenswood is New Zealand’s oldest English Leicester stud, according to Fiona and John Robinson, who are continuing the family tradition and finding a niche market for their flock’s lustrous wool. . . 

Wandering steer Boris back after 13 years in the Canterbury wilderness :

A “crazy big” Angus steer who has wandered the mountainous Hurunui back country for nearly 13 years has returned home.

He turned up last week with a couple of Angus cows, and happily headed back to an easier life on the homestead paddocks of the 7000-hectare Island Hills Station, north-west of Culverden.

Station owner Dan Shand and his wife, Mandy, reckon the steer is at least 13 years old, and has been nicknamed Boris.

Boris still has the tag in his ear put there when he was weaned, but Dan says he will need his binoculars to read it, at least until the new arrival settles in with the bulls. . .


Rural round-up

29/06/2020

Agriculture emerges from lockdown relatively unscathed, but coming global recession will bite, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Agricultural incomes are expected to take a hit later this year as the effects of the global recession caused by coronavirus kicks in, says Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny.

The sector was likely to remain profitable, however.

Despite having come through the lockdown and its immediate effects relatively unscathed, due largely to agriculture’s classification as an essential service, the forecast 3 per cent hit to global growth over 2020, meant there would be less demand for the forseeable future.

As a country that exported over 90 per cent of its agricultural production, New Zealand would be heavily exposed, Penny said. . .

McBride optimistic about Fonterra’s future despite global uncertainty – Esther Taunton:

Fonterra will face “bumps in the road” as the global economy rebuilds after the coronavirusoutbreak, but chairman-elect Peter McBride is optimistic about the dairy co-op’s future.

“Businesses learn more from challenges than successes and there will be plenty learnt from this,” the South Waikato dairy farmer said.

And McBride should know.

As the chairman of the Zespri board from 2013-18, he led the kiwifruit marketer through a crippling outbreak of the vine disease Psa, estimated to have cost growers close to $1 billion . .

Few winter grazing issues found – Neal Wallace:

Soutland farmers are being given a pat on the back for their winter grazing management so far this year, which Environment Southland says is an improvement on last year.

An aerial inspection by regional council staff prompted chief executive Rob Phillips to conclude farmers have made positive improvements.

“I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen. Farmers appear to have made a real effort, which is exactly what we need.”

Phillips said it is early in the season so wet weather will change conditions. . . .

Outstanding vintage despite Covid-19 conditions:

While it will be forever remembered as the Covid-19 harvest, an excellent summer throughout most of the country has contributed to an outstanding vintage for New Zealand’s wine regions.

“Although Covid-19 restrictions did have a huge impact on the way the harvest was run, they will not affect the quality of the wine, and we are really looking forward to some exceptional wines coming from this year’s vintage” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The New Zealand wine industry had hoped for a larger harvest in 2020, after smaller than expected crops over the last three years. With 457,000 tonnes of grapes harvested, this year’s vintage will help the industry to meet the high demand for New Zealand wine.

With New Zealand moving into Alert Level 4 just as Vintage 2020 began, the industry was acutely aware that it was in an incredibly privileged position to be allowed to pick the grapes, says Gregan. . .

Tug-of-war fan desperate to keep sport alive – ‘It’s weightlifting lying down’ – Carol Stiles:

A Waikato farmer is building a museum on his farm to preserve memorabilia from New Zealand’s oldest introduced sport – tug-of-war.

Graham Smith has a dairy farm 50 minutes south of Hamilton.

He is also a passionate advocate for a sport which is dwindling. He’s preserving the memory of tug-of-war in case one day it sparks up again.

He is the president of the New Zealand Tug of War Association and has been involved for more than 40 years. . .

Record on-farm price for EC Angus – Hugh Stringleman:

An Angus bull from Turiroa Stud, Wairoa, has made $104,000 at auction, believed to be a New Zealand on-farm sale record.

Turiroa’s best-ever sales performance also featured a price of $86,000 and an average of $12,560 for a full clearance of 50 bulls.

Andrew Powdrell said there was good buying further into the catalogue and there was a bull for everyone.

The Powdrell family was humbled by the result and thrilled the bulls are going to good homes. . .


Rural round-up

25/05/2020

Rural life in lockdown: Farming women’s struggle with mental health and work – Bonnie Flaws:

South Island dairy farmer and company director Jessie Chan went to some pretty dark places during lockdown.

The experiences of rural women often go unheard, she said, and lockdown was particularly tough on them.

Between homeschooling her six-year old while juggling a toddler, farm and board commitments, there were often nights she was up at 11pm doing paper work.

Catching up with women in her local community in Dorie, after lockdown eased, Chan realised she was not alone as others expressed how much they had struggled. . . 

Easier without trampers, climbers, walkers, tourists – Kerrie Waterworth:

Running a high country farm next to a national park has been easier during the Covid-19 lockdown because there are no climbers, trampers, walkers and tourists on the road or property.

Fourth generation farmer Randall Aspinall and his wife, Allison, manage the 2300 ha beef and sheep property, 50km from Wanaka, at the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park.

It is estimated more than 100,000 people travel through the property each year which can present challenges, the most common of which is shifting stock.

‘‘Normally we would try to do it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and often it would be a two-person job to stop traffic at some of the choke points, whereas with no traffic you can just go and do it wherever you want to,’’ Mr Aspinall said. . . 

Coronavirus: Govt buying 2000 pigs a week as industry struggles with surplus – Esther Taunton:

With thousands of pigs unable to go to market during the coronavirus lockdown, the Government is stepping in.

Independent butchers were not allowed to open to the public while the country was at Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4, resulting in a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue.

To help clear the backlog, the Government has agreed to buy some of the surplus pork at cost, up to a maximum of 2000 pigs or 112 tonnes a week.

The meat will then be delivered to food banks by national food rescue network KiwiHarvest. . . 

Covid fails to stop moving day – Gerald Piddock:

Moving day is under way again for many dairy farm workers following several weeks of covid-19 lockdown disruption.

Level four reduced the time farmers had to move because it put on hold much of the shifting and preparation done in the lead-up to the move.

Federated Farmers sharemilkers spokesman Richard McIntyre said the resulting uncertainty caused some issues. 

Moving companies were also booked ahead months in advance and the lockdown did lead to stress, he said.

McIntyre’s sharemilking neighbours had bought a farm and were in the process of moving when the lockdown occurred. . . 

Forestry in blood of Dipton man – Yvonne O’Hara:

Many of Nic Melvin’s ancestors were in the forestry and sawmilling business in New Zealand from the 1860s and he knew from an early age he wanted a career in the sector.

From a dairy farm at Dipton, Mr Melvin (19) is in his second year of a four-year forestry science degree at the University of Canterbury.

He has been awarded this year’s Southern Wood Council’s Scholarship, worth $4500 over three years, which he’ll put towards student fees.

His father used to be a tree feller for whom he started working when aged about 13. . . 

Failed petition aims to spark more farming support – David Anderson:

Te Kuiti-based electrician Terry Waite’s demand that the Government apologise to farmers for the way it has treated them – especially over the last couple of years – has failed.

Waite was so sparked up by what he believes is the Government’s poor treatment of farmers that he started a petition, asking people to support it so it could be presented to parliament.

The petition needed to attract 100,000 signatures. He’d tried to get his petition to ask: ‘The NZ Govt to apologise to NZ farmers’. However, the bureaucrats wouldn’t allow that wording.  . .


Rural round-up

21/05/2020

“Geen tape’ policies should be put on hold – Simon Bridges :

National leader Simon Bridges wants the government to put off “green tape” policies in the farming and primary sector.

The comments were in response to a question asked during a presentation to the Otago Chamber of Commerce, on whether the government needed to change some of its policies it wanted to introduce in the primary sector.

Bridges said it was one thing to have certain policies in good times and another during a time of deep recession or depression.

“Some of the policies around climate change, water, a variety of other areas of green tape I think are going to be unhelpful at this time.

“I’m not suggesting these issues aren’t important, they are, but the facts have changed and we need to change what we do.” . . 

Prices drop for sheep and beef farmers:

Prices paid to sheep and beef cattle farmers and meat manufacturers both fell sharply in the March 2020 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

Sheep, beef, and grain farmers received 11.5 percent less for their products in the March quarter, reversing rises over most of 2019. In turn, prices paid to meat manufacturers were down 4.4 percent in the March quarter.

“The sharp fall in prices for sheep and beef farming in the first three months of 2020 coincided with dry conditions in many parts of New Zealand, with sheep and beef prices falling,” business prices acting manager Geoffrey Wong said. . . 

How to export your way out of a financial crisis – a 10 point plan for New Zealand – Charles Finny:

The hugely successful coronavirus response means New Zealand is well-placed for an export-led recovery, writes Charles Finny in this paper for the SSANSE Commission for a Post-Covid Future at the University of Canterbury.

New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 has come at an enormous economic cost. If we don’t move very fast that cost will increase greatly, and if we are not careful we will be left with a really perverse result. We will be even more dependent on one market, China, and on one sector, agriculture, than we were before going into this crisis.

Of course, China will continue to be an important market for New Zealand for many years to come and agriculture is critical to our future – but we don’t want all our eggs in a couple of baskets, particularly as China has in recent years shown a propensity to use trade dependency as a political lever.

In 2019 China took: . . 

Nine Van Leeuwen Group farms offered for sale :

Nine Van Leeuwen Group farms are up for sale, close to three years after cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was discovered on more than a dozen properties owned by the South Canterbury-based company.

Sixteen properties belonging to the group had restricted place notices imposed on them by the Ministry for Primary Industries in July 2017 after the outbreak of the bacterial cattle disease, in an effort to control the movement of stock.

At the time two dozen cows on one of the group’s farms tested positive for the disease, the first identified in New Zealand. . . 

Rain brings relief to Hawke’s Bay farmers over weekend – but the drought isn’t over yet – Bonnie Flaws:

For the first time since the drought began, Hawke’s Bay has had double digit rainfall over the weekend, bringing much needed relief to farmers in the region.

Farmers have been under extraordinary pressure in recent months as coronavirus compounded the issues brought about by the drought.

Rain fell all weekend on the farms of Hawke’s Bay, which saw sample measurements of rainfall for the week reach approximately 30 millimetres in the Southern Ranges, south coast and Tangoio as well as some northern coastal areas and ranges. . . 

Taranaki accounting specialist urges farmers to be proactive about their future finances :

The $500,000 government funding for drought recovery has been welcomed by the dairy industry. However, with the current global uncertainty limiting the ability to predict where the milk price will land and the negative implications of COVID-19 affecting contractors’ and farmers’ income, Dairy NZ and Baker Tilly Staples Rodway have teamed up to highlight the need for farmers to understand their finances.

Taranaki farm accounting specialist, Amanda Burling, of Baker Tilly Staples Rodway said: “It’s been a challenging time for the Dairy Industry. The drought, along with the impacts of Covid-19 are providing a lot of uncertainty. The sale yards in lockdown along with the works slowing down due to social distancing rules has had an impact on cashflow. Now we must work together to prepare for next spring.” . . 


Rural round-up

26/03/2020

COVID-19: Support rural businesses – Rural Women NZ – Pam Tipa:

We need to make sure that our rural businesses are well supported, says Fiona Gower, Rural Women NZ national president.

“With the lack of tourists coming through we need to ensure the small businesses can survive because without them we don’t have a community,” she told Rural News last week.

“Once they are gone it is really hard to get them back.

She says digital communication will also play an important part in the coronavirus response.  . . 

Rural businesses band together – Colin Williscroft:

Rural businesses Farmlands, PGG Wrightson and FarmSource have pledged to work together during the covid-19 response.

In an open letter, the companies’ chief executives said they will harness their collective supply chain to maintain productivity.

“It is time for us all to do what we can to try and continue to support you through these challenging times,” the letter says.

“We are working closely together to ensure that all farmers and growers across New Zealand have the necessary products and supplies to keep your businesses operating.  . . 

Rules driving farmers out – Sudesh Kissun:

New farming rules around sustainability are driving elderly farmers out of the dairy industry, says agri-economist Phil Journeaux.

He says over the past three years, there’s been an increase in farmers, in their 60s and 70s, looking at other options. Journeaux, AgFirst Waikato, spoke at a Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) seminar in Te Aroha last week.

Attended by about 50 farmers, the event went ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Maize volume okay but feed still tight – Richard Rennie:

The maize silage supply has shaped up better than might have been expected despite one of the driest summers on record stifling production.

Bill Webb of Bill Webb Feed Solutions near Te Puke said crops on lower, wetter country have performed better this year than last season when heavy rain washed out many crops on the same land.

“But on the higher, drier country the yields have proved to be quite variable. Average block yields would still be 22 tonnes a hectare but there are some on that lower country that would be up to 26t.”  . . 

2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals winners announced:

In a world that’s a little topsy-turvy it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate great New Zealand produce with the announcement of 2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medal winners.

Twenty-five judges and eight stewards worked in panels to assess a record 225 food and drink entries at AUT School of Hospitality & Tourism on Saturday 7 March 2020. Following the judges’ assessment of aroma, appearance, taste, texture and quality which accounted for 75% of marks, products were assessed for sustainability and brand story. Shoppers will recognise outstanding food and drink as they proudly wear Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards gold, silver and bronze medals—a guarantee of product quality. . . 

Maori orchardists capitalise on global demand for organic produce – Bonnie Flaws:

Māori orchardist Otama Marere has embraced organic kiwifruit production, converting a total of 7 hectares of its 45 hectare block into organic SunGold kiwifruit, with further conversions being considered.

The trust that manages the land has also held educational days on the land for other Maori kiwifruit growers interested in organic production, says orchard manager Homman Tapsell.

The land, near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty is a former Māori settlement on the banks of the Kaituna river, with the name coming from a nearby pa site that was occupied by Rangiiwaho and his whanau. Trust members are the descendants of Rangiiwaho, he said. . . 


Rural round-up

23/03/2020

Livestock are providing answers – Neal Wallace:

Livestock farmers already have answers to many of the accusations being levelled by critics, they just need to package their responses better, Michigan State University scientist Jason Rowntree says.

He and other speakers at the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown said claims a world without ruminant livestock and diets free of red meat will reverse climate change are scientifically wrong.

Managed properly, livestock on pasture can enhance and improve the environment by increasing organic matter, microbial activity and biodiversity while sequestering carbon in the soil. . . 

Coronavirus: Farming likely to recover fastest from Covid-19, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Farming is likely to be the quickest to rebound from the fallout from coronavirus, says ASB rural economist Nathan Penny.

When crises hit, food demand remains and that would be no different this time, he said.

Farmers might not get paid as much but there would be demand for food, with the exception of luxury foods like seafood, prime steak and wine, he said. . . 

Coronavirus: Rural isolation a good thing in face of pandemic, farmers say – Catherine Groenestein:

Rural isolation is helping farmers feel somewhat safer than their urban counterparts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases in New Zealand has risen to 20, it was announced today, and the Government is advising New Zealanders overseas to return as soon as possible.

North Taranaki farmer Katrina Knowles, who is North Island co-ordinator for the Rural Support initiative, said it was a good time to live rurally.

“We live in relative isolation anyway, we have the opportunity to carry on with our lives and our work and businesses,” she said. . . 

Canterbury has tonnes of feed – Annette Scott:

Ongoing North Island drought has created a serious feed shortage with many farmers looking further afield for supplies.

Arable Solutions director Simon Nitschke, of Marton, said despite the good harvest in the region there’s nothing left to buy on the spot market.

“What is around is under contract, sold. There’s nothing available.

“A lot of barley this season has gone malting and barley harvested for feed is taken up with no reserves looking likely coming into the maize harvest either with a lot chopped for silage due to poor grain quality.” . . 

 

Coronavirus and your workers – guidance for farm businesses – Julie Robinson:

Farms are not professional services firms where remote working may be an alternative to being physically present on site. Remote working does not get millions of daffodils picked, lambs delivered safely or the harvester moved from one field to the next. Farm managers need to be on hand, not at home or stranded in a hotel in lockdown.

That brings its own set of challenges during a period where self-isolation is the Government’s policy for dealing with a highly contagious virus, and where lockdowns are imposed at short notice across the globe, preventing people from travelling freely to their place of work.

The Q&A below describes some scenarios and gives some pointers about how to deal with them. . . 

A look into the future of UK agriculture – Tom Clarke:

It is March 20, 2040 exactly 20 years to the day since the Coronavirus pandemic forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson (remember him?) to acknowledge the Brexit transition period would have to be extended, says Cambridgeshire Fens farmer Tom Clarke. 

And thus it turned out that when it came down to it, what Brexit only ever really meant was… delay.

Our permanently stalled, semi-separation has left us more independent, it freed up our thinking, and the lack of security did make us sit up and sing for our suppers.

The two decades since the pandemic transformed the Commonwealth of Britain (the country formerly known as the UK) in ways that few predicted, and it is perhaps we farmers who have been at the front end of it, again in ways the previous generation could have hardly imagined. . . 


Rural round-up

17/03/2020

Federated Farmers calls for fiscal stimulus from government:

Federated Farmers congratulates the Reserve Bank on a decisive monetary policy stimulus in response to the worsening economic situation, cutting the OCR to 0.25%.

“We also strongly support its decision to delay implementation of its tougher requirements for bank capital to help the banking sector support the economy,” Feds President Katie Milne said.

One bank has already agreed to immediately pass on the lower OCR rate to borrowers.  Federated Farmers calls on other banks to follow suit. . .

Supermarket demands for perfection require pesticides – growers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Supermarkets demand perfectly formed fruit and vegetables, but perfection requires pesticides, growers say.

The biggest supermarkets – Countdown, Pak ‘n Save and New World – dictate the colour, shape and size that growers must adhere to in order to get their produce onto their shelves, a large grower says.

The grower, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that if farmers don’t grow to the specifications, the produce is rejected by supermarket inspectors and must be thrown out. . .

 

Global merino conference in Otago: president says industry better than ever – Sally Rae:

World Federation of Merino Breeders president Will Roberts reckons he has never seen the merino industry has never been so good as it is now.

Mr Roberts and his wife Nada have been in Otago attending the Merino Excellence 2020 Congress, and Mr Roberts also judged at the Wanaka A&P Show.

The couple farm a 13,000ha sheep and cattle property in Queensland, originally bought by Mr Roberts’ family in 1906. The Victoria Downs merino stud was established in 1911. . .

Cowpats, cabers and clouds of soot in showcase of country life – Harry Lock:

Thousands descended on Palmerston North over the weekend to witness cowpat throwing, hay bale stacking and sheep shearing.

While other events across the country were put off, the annual Rural Games went ahead as planned, with the city’s central square transformed into a farmer’s paradise.

Onlookers were treated to a premier experience, with some of the best in the world showcasing their skills. . .

NZ Champions of Cheese medal winners announced:

After judges smelled, crumbled and tasted their way through almost 300 New Zealand cheeses, the medal winners of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020 have been announced.

Run by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) for the 17th consecutive year, Australian Master Judge Russell Smith oversaw judging on Sunday 23rd February, working with a panel of 25 specialist judges.

NZSCA chair Neil Willman said the judges made special note of the quality and variety of cheese they assessed this year. . .

Grasslands as vital as trees for environment, sheep farmers say :

Livestock farmers have challenged the government’s focus on tree planting and peatland restoration as a means to help nature address climate change.

Wednesday’s budget committed £640 million to be spent on 30,000 hectares of trees, and 35,000 hectares of peatland restoration.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said both the restoration and tree planting are funded by a new Nature for Climate fund.

“This government intends to be the first in history to leave our natural environment in a better state than we found it,” said the chancellor. . .


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