Rural round-up

11/01/2021

Tackling farmer health face to face :

Dr Tom Mulholland has made it his mission to look after the heart health of farmers for most of the past decade.

He has a 1988 retro V8 ambulance kitted out for doing blood pressure and cholesterol tests, but also, old fashioned house calls to be what you might call the ambulance at the top of the cliff for farmers under time and financial pressure.

Dr Tom has talked to thousands of people on farmers’ physical mental and social health, and saved and changed more than a few lives.  He’s also developed an app called KYND Wellness to help farmers track their own health. . . 

Orchardists counting costs of cherries ruined by downpours – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago fruitgrowers are still counting the costs of the New Year deluge that decimated this season’s cherry harvest.

Estimates sit at about 60% on average of cherry crop lost across the region, shaving millions of dollars in value off this season’s harvest.

Other fruit was also affected by four days of torrential rain punctuated by showers throughout the week and a week on from the rain starting growers were assessing how much fruit was still salvageable.

At Ripponvale, near Cromwell, Cheeki Cherries/Dam Good Fruit owner Martin Milne said his losses were a mixed bag. . . 

Filipino contract milker makes most of opportunities in Southland – Jamie Searle:

South Hillend contract milker Guillermo Tolentino is a survivor, but he shudders to think what would have happened to him without help from former Wreys Bush dairy farm owners Wayne and Angela Carpenter.

Tolentino remembers arriving in New Zealand in 2003, only to find out the details of the job promised to him on a Canterbury farm were different to what he agreed to and it didn’t work out.

Panic struck and Tolentino didn’t know what to do. The $1000 he had on him was to tide him over until his first pay packet. . .

Farewell to Sir Bob Elliott – Keith Woodford:

When I wrote the book ‘Devil in the Milk’ back in 2007, I introduced Bob Elliott in the very first paragraph. Bob was the Auckland paediatrician who first identified A1 beta-casein from milk as a big risk factor for Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is the form of the disease that often strikes in childhood and then requires daily insulin injections throughout life.

In the years since then I have often thought that history will in time regard Bob as one of the great heroes of modern medicine. He sowed the seeds on which others have continued to build, with a particular focus on A1 beta casein but with those findings also having relevance to other food-derived opioids. . .

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan shears champion wool handler’s hair for charity :

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan used a crank-powered handpiece to shave former England World championships wool handling representative Natalie Crisp’s head in Te Kuiti on Friday.

This charity event was held during the North Island Speedshear Shearing Championship and is the latest of several fundraising shearing events.

Fagan, who retired from competitive shearing in 2015 with 642 open-class wins, surprised even himself with how clean his job was on the head-shave. . . 

 

Flatulent cows no long on the nose with seaweed solution :

Australian scientists and entrepreneurs have begun rolling out a commercial solution to a major source of greenhouse gases with a seaweed feed to block gassy livestock burps, and promising results offering more than a whiff of global potential.

Two Australian companies, CH4 Global and Sea Forest, are kicking off world-first commercial trials with major dairy and beef companies of a feed supplement they say can enable the livestock to become carbon neutral.

They are using intellectual property licensed to FutureFeed, CSIRO’s commercial venture, for a feed additive made from the native asparagopsis seaweed species, which reduces livestock emissions by more than 80 per cent. . .


Rural round-up

31/12/2020

Tasman growers and farmers brace for lasting damage from hail storm – Tracy Neal:

Farmers and growers are counting the cost – thought to be in the tens of millions of dollars – of the Boxing Day hailstorm in Tasman.

It shredded vineyards, smashed greenhouses, dented and bruised apples, kiwifruit and hops and severely damaging buildings in Motueka.

Some say it was the worst hailstorm in living memory, in a region where recent summers have been marred by cyclones, floods, and fires. . .

Brexit: EU-UK deal hurts NZ exporters says  Beef + Lamb :

The meat industry is urging the government to fight new quotas for local exporters as part of new trade deal between the UK and European Union.

The post-Brexit agreement will mean access will be more controlled.

A new quota will force Kiwi sheep and beef exporters to split their product between the UK and EU, even if one of the markets is not going well.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said it was a major step back in trade. . . 

High season for rural theft – Mark Daniel:

Rural insurance company FMG claims data has shown that January is the time when thieves are out and about looking to relieve farmers and rural dwellers of their property.

Stephen Cantwell, FMG’s manager advice services, says theft is the leading cause of farm contents claims at that time of year.

“January appears to be the month when thieves are at their most active, resulting in a higher number of claims, but also with average values up by 23%,” he says.

The rural insurance specialist suggests there are actions people can take to help to deter thieves targeting your property. . . 

Concerns over ‘rural generalists’ as doctors in Greymouth – Lois WIlliams:

Is rural generalism best for the Coast?

In recent weeks, various medics and their union have – unusually for the profession – aired their views in this paper on the use of ‘rural generalists’, a new breed of doctor increasingly being employed on the West Coast to work both in hospitals and at GP clinics.

For the West Coast District Health Board, ‘rural generalists’ or rural health specialists, as they’re also known, are a godsend: the answer to the region’s perennial difficulties in attracting specialists and GPs. But the senior doctors union, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, has warned of their potential to displace more highly-trained doctors, and ultimately reduce West Coast residents’ access to that level of care. What is the community supposed to make of this? What exactly are rural generalists and how safe are people in their hands? . .

Conduit for growers, researchers – Colin Williscroft:

Late last month Kiwifruit Vine Health liaison adviser and technical specialist Linda Peacock received the Minister’s Award at the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, recognising more than 30 years of dedicated service to the industry. Colin Williscroft reports.

When Linda Peacock received her award from Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor she told the Wellington audience that a key part of her work involves providing a link between growers and researchers to ensure the collaboration the industry is renowned for continues.

“I talk to people,” Peacock said.

“I help people on the land understand what some of the big words mean and I tell scientists what those people want and have to know, so they can do what they do. . . 

Developing a Great Pyrenees into a poultry guardian – Uptown Farms:

When we first started raising working Great Pyrenees puppies, our dogs went almost exclusively to sheep and goat farms or occasionally to guard cattle herds. But initially, we fielded no requests at all for poultry dogs.

Fast forward to today, and sometimes as many as half the pups in a single Uptown Farms litter are being sent to farms to actively guard birds. Below are some considerations we share with our customers who are looking for poultry or small animal guardians. Please note, we do currently have birds at Uptown Farms, but this is a combination of advice and tips from our customers through the years who have successfully developed poultry dogs. For information on bringing home a livestock guardian, please refer here.

1. Start with a working dog. Starting with a working pup is the most important step for whatever type of working dog you are needing. . .


Rural round-up

05/12/2020

Government’s climate change emergency declaration: Government must shift its attention from offsetting emissions to reducing emissions from fossil fuel use:

With the New Zealand Government declaring a climate change emergency, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has renewed its call for the Government to put in place tangible measures that will lead to real reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use and limit the amount of pollution that can be offset through carbon farming.

“The science tells us that carbon dioxide emissions need to decrease significantly if the global community is to meet the temperature goals set in the Paris Agreement, yet carbon dioxide emissions have increased by nearly 40 per cent in New Zealand since the 1990s,” says Dylan Muggeridge, Environment Policy Manager at B+LNZ.

“The changes made to the emissions trading legislation earlier this year provide huge incentives for fossil fuel emitters to offset their emissions through large-scale planting of exotic trees, rather than incentives to change behaviour, reduce emissions and decarbonise the economy. . .

Regenerative agriculture is not redundant but can be misguided – Keith Woodford:

Arguments about regenerative agriculture illustrate the challenges of creating informed debate. More generally, democracies depend on voters understanding complex issues

The overarching title to this article, that regenerative agriculture is not redundant but can be misguided, contrasts with a recent Newshub article stating that “regenerative agriculture is a largely redundant concept for New Zealand” and hence “largely superfluous”.

According to the title of the Newshub article, “NZ farmers adopted regenerative agriculture years ago”. The supposed source of these claims was a retired university professor called Keith Woodford. That’s me!

The problem is that I don’t believe I have ever used the words ‘redundant’ or ‘superfluous’ in relation to regenerative agriculture. What I do say is that it has to be science-led and not simplistic dogma. Unfortunately, in many cases the dogma is not consistent with the science. . . .

Fonterra provides update on its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range and first quarter performance:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today narrowed its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range, reported a solid start to the 2021 financial year and reconfirmed its forecast earnings guidance. 

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says as a result of strong demand for New Zealand dairy, the Co-op has narrowed and lifted the bottom end of the forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from NZD $6.30 – $7.30 per kgMS to NZD $6.70 – $7.30 per kgMS.

“This means the midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $7.00 per kgMS.

“China is continuing to recover well from COVID-19 and this is reflected in recent Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions with strong demand from Chinese buyers, especially for Whole Milk Powder, which is a key driver of the milk price. . . 

CEO begins six-month notice period after giving intention to leave:

Greg Campbell, Chief Executive of Ravensdown has notified the Board that he will be leaving the role and has started his six-month notice period. This gives the Board time to search for a suitable replacement for Greg who has been CEO of the farmer-owned co-operative for eight years.

Greg explained that the time felt right to move on, but there was no specific role lined up. “I’m a director on several boards and that seems enough at this point. I’ve been a CEO for different organisations now continuously for over two decades so it will be good to pause, take stock and see what life holds in store.”

His pride in the Ravensdown team and all it has accomplished – especially coming through for the country as an essential service during Covid-19 – is undimmed. . . .

Silver Fern Farms helps Kiwis share the love with family and friends in the US this Christmas:

Silver Fern Farms is making it easy for Kiwis to share a taste of New Zealand with their US friends and family this Christmas. By ordering from its newly-launched US website us.silverfernfarms.com, Kiwis can still send Silver Fern Farms’ premium quality, grass-fed New Zealand lamb, beef and venison direct to the doorsteps of their US-based loved ones in time for Christmas dinner.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says thanks to the company’s US distribution centres, it’s a perfect option for people who’ve missed postal cut-off dates to the US, but want to send something special and memorable to Americans looking at a Christmas with restrictions on gatherings.

“Kiwis with friends and family over in the US are feeling farther away than ever this Christmas. We know that connecting over delicious food is a special part of the holidays, no matter what hemisphere you’re celebrating in, and while we can’t all get together just yet, we can help Kiwis share the love through a care package of Silver Fern Farms’ finest New Zealand pasture-raised red meat products.” . . 

Hannah – Hannah Marriott:

See the good in what you do and what you can contribute to society.

In January 2013, Hannah Marriott hit “send” on her Nuffield Australia report on individual animal management in commercial sheep production. Her report outlined the findings from her one-year scholarship, which took her to New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Kenya to complete her studies into using objective measurement to optimise production through to product.

Agriculture has always been a passion for Hannah, who through her Nuffield Scholarship, uncovered more about how objective measurement could deliver production benefits to commercial sheep producers.

As a second-generation sheep producer, Hannah grew up on her family’s property near Benalla in Victoria. . . 


Rural round-up

13/11/2020

MIA wary as second wave hits

New Zealand’s red meat trade continues to generate crucial export revenue but with the full economic impact of covid-19 yet to hit, the industry cannot afford to be complacent.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the red meat processing and exporting sector has been NZ’s success story during the covid-19 crisis but with further disruptions in the global markets expected, she urged caution. 

“The red meat processing and exporting sector has been a real success story during the covid-19 crisis and continues to generate crucial export revenue for the country when other sectors are facing significant headwinds,” she said. . . 

North Otago farmers call for more fire ponds  – Kayla Hodge:

A large fire has highlighted the need for a greater water supply in one of the “driest areas” in North Otago.

Last month, a blaze in a pine forestry block near Livingstone burnt through 611ha.

At a public meeting with officials last week, farmers asked if there was a plan to install more water in the area, to help fight fires.

One farmer, whose pond was used during the emergency, knew there was no water for the helicopters to use when the October 4 fire started. . . 

How are you dealing with change? :

Farming into the future is changing in New Zealand to meet consumer demand – but change can be scary.

 Sarah’s Country host Sarah Perriam has teamed up with Farmlands to bring you a thought-provoking seminar series at AgFest on November 13-14.

Join the conversation at the Farmlands site during AgFest dealing with change and advice on the season ahead from the Technical and Growth and Innovation teams.
You won’t want to miss these expert panel discussions covering topics specific to West Coast challenges, as well as dealing with national regulation changes. . . 

Car-racing farm manager artificially inseminates more than 25,000 dairy cows in 10-year career :

It is 3.15am on a calm spring morning as Dannevirke dairy farmer Tania Cresswell slides on her gumboots and heads outside.

The 29-year-old manages her parents’ 55-hectare dairy farm at Papatawa, milking 160 predominately Holstein Friesian cows.

Cresswell jumps on to a two-wheeler motorbike, giving it a kick-start. The engine roars to life, piercing the pre-dawn silence.

It is not long before the farm’s 14-aside milking shed starts to fill with cows gently jostling for position and eager to be milked. . . 

LIC invests in first of two start-ups to deliver more value to dairy farmers:

LIC has increased its level of investment in its AgCelerator™ Fund and announced its first two investments designed to deliver more value to New Zealand dairy farmers. The cooperative has confirmed investments in New Zealand-based TrackBack and Mastaplex.

Auckland-based TrackBack uses blockchain technology in the agriculture sector to provide trust and transparency through the supply chain for global confidence in quality, integrity and provenance. Fuelled by the pandemic, traceability is increasingly front of mind for consumers and the data LIC holds on animal health is an important contribution to providing quality assurances for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The other business LIC is investing in is Dunedin-based Mastaplex which has developed a proprietary mastitis testing device, Mastatest®.  . . 

New chief scientist Cathy Foley to get research out of the lab – Sally Whyte:

Australia’s incoming chief scientist wants to help Australia’s “fabulous” research move beyond the laboratory and “turn it into prosperity and impact”.

Dr Cathy Foley, currently the chief scientist at the CSIRO, will take over from Dr Alan Finkel at the start of next year, and she has a long to-do list, much of it continuing the work she has already been doing at the national science research agency.

The world-renowned physicist wants to continue increasing diversity in science, increasing work in national preparedness, and championing “research translation” – moving discoveries beyond the theoretical and into making a difference in people’s lives.

“We’ve got fabulous research in Australia, but everyone knows we haven’t necessarily been able to take that from the laboratory bench turn it into prosperity and impact in a whole range of ways,” Dr Foley said. . . 


Rural round-up

10/11/2020

RSE worker shortage ahead of cherry harvest – Neal Wallace:

The new season cherry harvest begins in Marlborough in three weeks and growers are still none the wiser whether they will have sufficient pickers.

Labour prospects are even more clouded when the main summerfruit picking season starts in January, requiring 7000 people at its peak.

The costs of leaving fruit on the trees is substantial, warns Summerfruit NZ chief executive Richard Palmer.

Harvesting of the country’s main export cherry crop in Central Otago starts in mid-December and he says if 30% is left unharvested that represents a loss of more than $20 million in export revenue. . . 

Fields of courgettes go to waste because growers can’t get workers – David Fisher:

Brett Heap is surrounded by food gone to waste – rows of courgettes he couldn’t get picked because his expert and specialised workforce can’t get into the country.

His story is a peek behind the curtains of a looming disaster everyone saw coming and – it appears – no one knows how to solve.

New Zealand is heading into peak harvest season and there aren’t enough workers to get fruit off trees or vegetables from the ground.

“This could be my last crop,” says Heap, who grows courgettes near Waipapa in Northland. “I’m at the point where I’m not going through it again. . . 

Why this nutritionist says we should eat more red meat :

Independent nutritionist Mikki Williden says Kiwis shouldn’t be afraid of eating red meat.

Recently the Heart Foundation suggested people should consume less than 350g of unprocessed red meat a week to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

This amount was “super low”, Williden told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“It would be a rare case where I would encourage people to have less than 160 grams cooked which might equate to about 200 grams raw – and then across the course of the week – that is well in excess of what the Heart Foundation is recommending.” . . 

 

Beef + Lamb NZ announces 2021 Ambassador Chefs and new ‘Young Chef’ award:

For twenty-five years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has been shaping the careers of chefs around the country. Each year the Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef programme selects those who are creating and serving incredible beef and lamb dishes in their restaurants. These chefs drive innovation and creativity within the foodservice sector.

With the challenges that Covid-19 has brought this year, Beef + Lamb New Zealand will be carrying over their four current Ambassador Chefs – Tejas Nikam, Paddock to Plate Waikato; Phil Clark, Phil’s Kitchen; Jack Crosti, Mela and Norka Mella Munoz, Mangapapa Hotel into 2021.

In addition to this, and to celebrate 25 years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are offering a one-off opportunity for a young emerging chef to be named as the Beef + Lamb Young Ambassador Chef 2021. . . 

The secret – shear determination – David Hill:

Peter Casserly has hung up his blades after adding his name to another world record.

The 72-year-old master blade shearer came out of retirement earlier this year to compete in the 60th Golden Shears in Masterton, before being invited to shear a special sheep at the Poverty Bay A&P Show last month for charity. And it was the charity aspect that appealed to him.

“I don’t think you ever retire, it’s like riding a bike. Somebody’s always got a pet to shear or a couple of sheep on their lifestyle block to be shorn. You just fade away in the finish,” Mr Casserly said.

“At the end of the day the anxiety and the tension of it all is getting too much. . . 

LIC enabling agricultural improvements in Ethiopia:

LIC is enabling agricultural improvements in a country more renowned for coffee than cows with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ethiopia has around 60 million cattle, one of the largest bovine populations in Africa. Its combined herd produces about 90% of the country’s milk with additional supply coming from camels, goats and sheep. With a population of more than 110 million people, Ethiopia has a growing demand for animal products including dairy, meat and hides but this is currently limited by a lack of decision making tools and the ability to provide insights from the livestock sector.

The collaborative initiative, Project aLIVE (A Livestock Information Vision for Ethiopia), is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and aims to provide timely insights intended to increase production on farms in Ethiopia and decision making at a government level. . .

The food standards debate has shown this Government must be closely watched – Joe Stanley:

The food standards debate has shown this Government must be closely watched if we are to protect our farming industry, says Leicestershire arable and beef farmer Joe Stanley.

So, in the end, Government blinked.

It wasn’t a very big blink, it must be said. Blink, indeed, and you might have missed it.

But, nevertheless, at the eleventh hour (plus fifty-nine minutes and fifty nine seconds), Ministers finally conceded – mere days before the final Commons vote on the Agriculture Bill – to placing the Trade and Agriculture Committee (TAC) on a statutory footing, giving it a formal role in advising Parliament on every future trade deal and its repercussions for British food and farming. . . 


Rural round-up

28/05/2020

Hauraki Plains farmers: ‘We just want some help‘ –  Maja Burry:

Farmers on the Hauraki Plains are banding together and holding socially-distanced shed meetings, as they fight the worst drought seen in the area in decades.

The Hauraki Plains, Coromandel Peninsula and eastern parts of South Auckland haven’t had had any meaningful rain in months. The dry conditions have become so dire in some parts of the Waikato region three district mayors have signed a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, calling for more support.

Ngatea farmers Megan and Michael Webster run 300 dairy cows and 900 diary goats, but this season due to the dry conditions they’ve had to take a financial hit and dry their stock off about a month earlier than usual.

Michael Webster said it had been a very challenging time, with average rainfall well down. . . 

Coronavirus: Kiwis more positive about farming after Covid-19 lockdown – Esther Taunton:

Kiwis are beginning to see farmers in a new light after lockdown, research shows.

Figures from UMR Research show 63 per cent of New Zealanders hold a positive view of sheep and beef farming, an increase of 9 per cent compared to just eight months ago.

Support for dairy farmers has also jumped, rising from 51 per cent to 60 per cent.

Horticulture tops the list with a positive rating of 65 per cent, while ratings for fisheries have clicked over into majority positive territory at 53 per cent, up from 47 per cent. . .

Fish & Game council embraces Feds, ungags boss -David Williams:

Fish & Game is extending an olive branch to Federated Farmers, against the advice of its chief executive. David Williams reports

The national Fish & Game council continues to try and cleanse itself of a tough stance against agricultural pollution, demanding a softer line from staff on public statements as it takes tentative steps to work with lobby group Federated Farmers.

Such a step would be a huge departure for the public body, which is funded by licence fees. It’s an environmental powerhouse which has successfully advocated for a dozen water conservation orders, and is well-known for taking a hard stance on the damage done by dairying.

That stance, pushed by long-time chief executive Bryce Johnson, has continued under successor Martin Taylor, who started in late 2017, just after the last general election. (In one of his first statements, he flayed dairy giant Fonterra’s environmental record, caused by, he said, its “single-minded focus on increased production at all costs, aided and abetted by weak regional councils”.) . . 

Project to explore turning waste into hand sanitiser – Maia Hart:

Turning waste into hand sanitiser is the next project for a research winery based in Marlborough.

The Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) has awarded $84,700 in funding to Bragato Research Institute (BRI) for a pilot study exploring turning grape marc into hand sanitiser.

Grape marc is the stems and seeds leftover after pressing – which in Marlborough can total as much as 46,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The study would look to turn winery waste into ethanol. Any sanitiser made in the initial eight-month study would be bottled and donated to Marlborough health workers and first responders. . . 

Farmers feeling less pressure from banks Feds’ survey finds:

Farmers are feeling slightly more satisfied and less under pressure from their banks, the Federated Farmers May 2020 Banking Survey shows.

Responses to Research First from nearly 1,400 farmers found that the number feeling ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their bank lifted slightly from 68% to 69% in the past six months, and those feeling ‘under pressure’ dropped from 23% to 19%.

“Satisfaction had slipped as a trend since we started this twice-yearly survey in August 2015 and this is the first positive change since then,” Federated Farmers Vice-President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry rewarded by outstanding survey result :

A survey showing that New Zealanders rate horticulture more highly than any other part of the primary industry sector is rewarding for fruit and vegetable growers across the country. 

UMR research released today shows that horticulture continues to receive the highest positive rating of 65%.

HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman says he sees the result as a reward for the way fruit and vegetables are grown in New Zealand.

‘Our growers are some if not the best in the world.  Over the years, the New Zealand horticulture industry has invested heavily in meeting consumer demand for fresh, tasty and nutritious food that is grown, harvested and transported in environmentally sustainable and ways.  . . 


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