Rural round-up

August 27, 2018

Plenty of advice for Fonterra’s bosses – but are our expectations too high? – Point of Order:

Dairy farmers  should be pleased with the  advice  liberally and freely tendered to Fonterra in the wake of the co-op’s board deciding to halt its international  search for a  new  CEO and instead,  with an  interim CEO,  Miles Hurrell, “pause and  assess  the  way   ahead”.

Fran  O’Sullivan,  Head of Business at NZME,  which publishes the  NZ  Herald, says appointing an interim chief executive to run New Zealand’s largest company is an admission of failure that should force Fonterra’s board to look hard at its own performance.  And she  concludes: . . 

Brexit opportunity: just don’t call it another free trade agreement – Point of Order:

LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Does New Zealand’s government understand the opportunity which Brexit presents? Are they and their advisers working tirelessly to realise it?

OK, difficult questions, not least because there are no binding decisions on the shape or timing of Brexit and these are likely to come in a final rush. But the underlying position is so positive that it would be a tremendous shame if New Zealand’s policy was not being shaped to take advantage of it.

Given the scorn critics are pouring on Britain’s post-Brexit trade prospects, the UK really needs an eye-catching trade deal to kick in on leaving. It would be a political coup, more than an economic one. The partner which Britain’s politicians think will deliver this reliably and quickly should get the most attention and the best terms. . .

Let’s open the gate to our young people:

The Primary ITO is challenging schools, school leavers and farmers to open the farm, garden, or orchard gate as this year’s “Got a Trade? Got it Made!” week highlights the huge potential in industry training for a primary sector career.

The Primary ITO (industry training organisation) leads the training in New Zealand’s largest export sector. It is taking part in this year’s “Got A Trade? Got It Made!” week to showcase the advantages of tertiary on-the-job education and to connect young New Zealanders to real employers in the primary industries. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes Major Biocontrol Milestone:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision allowing the release of a tiny Samurai wasp into New Zealand, if ever there was an incursion of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).

BMSB Council Chair Alan Pollard applauded the outcome as a major milestone against one of the greatest threats to New Zealand’s horticultural industry and urban communities.

“The industry greatly appreciates the positive decision and acknowledges the consideration given by the EPA to the significant number of submissions made on the application. . . 

Horticulture levy votes successful:

Horticulture groups seeking levy renewals have all had votes of confidence from growers to continue the work of the industry good organisations Horticulture New Zealand, TomatoesNZ, Vegetables New Zealand, Process Vegetables New Zealand, and Onions New Zealand.

The individual groups’ levy referendums closed on 13 August and independent vote counting shows resounding support. The levy orders come up for renewal every six years. . . 

New programme to foster high value goat milk infant formula industry:

A new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme launched today has its sights on growing a sustainable, high value goat milk infant formula industry in New Zealand.

Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ) is a five-year, $29.65 million PGP programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd.

The end goals include improving the health and wellbeing of families, delivering a range of benefits such as growing research and farming capability, and increasing export revenue across the New Zealand dairy goat milk industry to $400 million per annum by 2023. . . 

Honey goes hi-tech: new tool has industry buzzing:

With New Zealand’s annual honey exports currently valued at $300 million and growing, a new web-based honey blending tool is set to save honey distributors significant amounts of time and money.

The Honey Blending Tool, developed by a team of scientists and data analysts at Hill Laboratories, allows honey distributors with large inventories to easily blend individual honeys to form a target blend to meet specific sales and export criteria.

New Zealand produces around 15,000 – 20,000 tonnes of honey each year. Most honey bought from a supermarket is blended honey. . . 

Decades of rural experience for new NZ Pork Chair:

NZ Pork has appointed former Southland MP Eric Roy as Chair of a new board of directors, as the industry-good body positions itself to face key challenges for New Zealand’s commercial pig farming industry.

Mr Roy, who has spent many decades working in the rural sector, was a six-term MP for the Awarua and Invercargill seats. During his time in Parliament, Mr Roy was a select committee chair of the Primary Production Select Committee, chairing the rewrite of New Zealand’s fisheries laws in what was a world first in sustainable management. . . 

Sheepmeat and beef levies to increase:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Board has decided to proceed with the proposed increase in the sheepmeat and beef levies following significant support from farmers.

From 1 October 2018 the levy for sheepmeat will increase 10 cents to 70 cents per head and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head. This is 0.4 per cent of the average slaughter value for prime steer/heifer, 0.7 per cent cull dairy cow, 0.7 per cent of lamb, and 1.1 per cent of mutton over the last three years. . . 

2018 Tonnellerie De Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year announced:

Marlborough’s Greg Lane was crowned the 2018 Tonnellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year in Auckland last night.

Lane, who is the brand winemaker for Grove Mill fought off some tough competition from three other young winemakers, representing both the North and South Island.

Runner up was Kelly Stuart, Assistant Winemaker for Cloudy Bay based in Marlborough.

Into its fourth year, the competition aims to promote the skills of the next generation of winemakers emerging in New Zealand. The four contestants had already battled it out in either the North or South Island regional finals, prior to taking part in yesterday’s final. . . 

10 things only a farmer’s wife would know – Emma Smith:

To some, being a farmer’s wife or partner sounds an idyllic lifestyle. A beautiful farmhouse to live in complete with Aga, rolling landscapes to admire and cute animals to nurture.

In today’s world women are at the forefront of managing farm enterprises and are sometimes doing so singlehandily.

The reality is a farmer’s other half needs to be patient, know the “lingo” and be the queen of multitasking. . . 


Rural round-up

August 25, 2018

Call for compo for farmers maintaining walkways – Maja Burry:

A high country farmer says there should be compensation for landholders affected by increasing visitor numbers.

A draft report published earlier this year by the Walking Access Commission found that a growing population, combined with record international tourist numbers is putting pressure on some access to the South Island High Country.

Andrew Simpson, who owns Balmoral Station at Lake Tekapo, said about 100,000 people use the Mt John Walkway on his farm each year.

Mr Simpson said he wanted people to enjoy his land, but he was having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on track maintenance this year, even with some support from the Department of Conservation. . .

Farmer leaders back off – Neal Wallace:

Farming sector leaders are unimpressed by the last-minute inclusion of far-reaching search and surveillance powers changes to the National Animal Identification and Tracking Act.

Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ leaders, who endorsed the changes a week ago, said they understand the need for the change but the late additions should have been open to public scrutiny instead of being pushed through Parliament under urgency.

The Farmers Weekly was told a drafting error omitted the search and surveillance powers from the original Nait Act.

Farming sector leaders have been criticised for supporting the changes but they now say they were unhappy at the rushed legislated process. . . 

NAIT still long way from meeting original objective – Allan Barber:

NAIT is like a long running soap opera which viewers can watch faithfully for a couple of years, go back to after a long absence and find nothing much has changed. It was first thought of back in 2004, took eight years of argument, design, business case preparation and readings in parliament and it was finally implemented in July 2012 with a three year lead-in for cattle.

In 2016 a review was started which was finally completed in May this year and presented to the present Minister for Primary Industries. When it finally saw the light of day, you could have been forgiven for thinking it would be a review of all the reasons NAIT doesn’t yet appear to be working properly, but I understand it was always intended to be a routine review of the programme after three years in operation. . . 

Exchange rate reset will breathe new life to agriculture – Keith Woodford:

The recent decline in the value of the New Zealand dollar is about to breathe new life into agriculture. It will take some months before the benefits flow through to farm level, but the macro signs are there to be seen.

The key question is whether we are seeing a strategic reset or is it just short term. My own thinking is that it is medium term through to around three years and maybe beyond, but with inevitable volatility. Beyond that I cannot see.

First let’s get the basic maths sorted out. A lower value of the New Zealand dollar means that we get more New Zealand dollars for exports. And in the New Zealand context, that largely relates to our primary industries, principally agriculture and horticulture, but also forestry and fishing. . . 

A new weapon will help in the Stink Bug battle:

The addition of another weapon to fight any incursion of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug on our shores is excellent news, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson Karen Wiliams says.

“We’re delighted to learn the Environmental Protection Authority will allow controlled release of the tiny Samurai Wasp if this stink bug were ever to get a foothold here.

“The BMSB is a scourge that could put a multi-billion dollar hit on our economy. For arable and horticulture farmers, a scenario where a breeding population could get established here is a nightmare,” Karen says. . .

Seeka 1H profit falls on further banana business writedown – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, posted a 6.5 percent decline in first-half profit despite revenue rising, as it wrote down the value of its banana-sourcing business further.

The Te Puke-based company reported profit of $10.4 million in the six months ended June 30, from $11 million in the same period a year earlier. Seeka said the bottom line included a $1.5 million writedown of goodwill to its tropical fruit business, Seeka Glassfields. Revenue rose 8.5 percent to $145.4 million, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation lifted 7 percent to $23.5 million. . . 

Federated Farmers keen to work with new Extension Service:

A new extension service intended to bring knowledge and resources to farmers struggling to keep up on production efficiency and environmental protection fronts is a “positive”, Federated Farmers board member and Arable chairperson Karen Williams says.

“Offering support so farmers can get up to speed is certainly preferable, and more likely to achieve progress, than wielding the big stick of fines and more regulations.

“The new extension service could prove helpful but we would urge MPI to continue to work with farming groups on the mechanics of it and how it is rolled out,” Karen said. . .

Apple and stonefruit group willing to engage in meaningful discussions with MPI following High Court judgment:

The group of five industry members who joined together to challenge MPI’s directive for nurseries and orchardists to contain and/or destroy tens of thousands of apple (Malus) and stonefruit (Prunus) plants has received the High Court judgment and is currently reviewing this in detail.

The judge found that the MPI directions, issued under s116 of the Biosecurity Act were unlawful and has directed MPI to reconsider.

The judgment encourages MPI to work with industry to develop and agree a more appropriate set of directions that address their key biosecurity concerns. . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2018

Hauraki Plains dairy farmer elected to oversee the creation of Auckland educational farm:

A respected Hauraki Plains dairy farmer will lead the board overseeing the development of a new educational farm in Auckland.

Julie Pirie has been elected to chair the five-member Donald Pearson Farm Board.

The 74-hectare dairy farm in South Auckland was gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson last year. . . 

Slim pickings: Worker shortage leaves apple farms frantic – Anusha Bradley:

Apple growers in Hawke’s Bay are preparing to work around the clock to cope with what’s being described as an extreme shortage of seasonal workers.

Orchardists said they have less have than half the workers they need, and despite a recruitment campaign, are failing to attract the usual hordes of backpackers they rely on.

Hastings-based Bostock is the largest producer of organic apples in the country.

Bostock human resources manager Vikki Garrett said usually they’d hire about a 100 or so backpackers, but had only managed to recruit 10. . . 

Bug’s impact on horticulture devastating, report says:

An economic report, released today, says if the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) establishes in New Zealand it would dramatically impact New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) as well as export revenues from horticulture.

Prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), Quantifying the economic impacts of a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug incursion in New Zealand, shows GDP falling between $1.8 billion and $3.6 billion by 2038, and horticulture export value falling between $2 billion and $4.2 billion by 2038. . . 

Agriculture exporters meet to discuss issues:

Key stakeholders in the agro-export market today gathered to discuss possible solutions to address pertinent issues faced by exporters in the export pathways.

While officially opening the Agriculture Exporters Symposium at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel this morning, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. David Kolitagane said the objective of the workshop was to address constraints in the agro-export pathway as the impact of the contribution of agricultural exporters was integral to economic development.

“The rationale for organizing today’s symposium is to address constraints in the export pathway, collate information and make appropriate and . . .

Farmers left in limbo as Mycoplasma Bovis takes hold:

With just one month to go until a decision will be made, farmers will understandably be left confused and anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate the crippling cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials appeared before the Primary Productions Select Committee at Parliament this morning to answer questions about how the Government plans to contain the spread, compensate farmers for their losses and ultimately to eradicate it. . . 

Tractors lead agricultural imports:

Tractor imports have remained at high levels in January 2018, continuing the trend for the last year, Stats NZ said today.

The value of imported tractors rose $27 million (191 percent) in January 2018 from January 2017. For the year ended January 2018, values were up 51 percent compared with the January 2017 year.

“Imports of tractors can be an indicator of confidence in the agriculture industry,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The last time we imported this many tractors was in 2014 when dairy prices were at their peak.” . . 

Deborah Marris joins Synlait leadership team:

Synlait will welcome Deborah Marris to the Executive Leadership Team in the role of General Counsel and Head of Commercial on Monday 5 March.

“Deborah’s outstanding legal and commercial background makes her the perfect person to join our team. Our rapid growth requires strong leadership in this area and Deborah has the skills, foresight and international experience to support us well,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.

Ms Marris’ role will encompass legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters, including customer and supplier contractual relationships. . . 

NZ King Salmon sees weaker second half on hot summer; 1st-half profit soars 81% – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon says the “extraordinarily hot summer” has cut survival rates at its fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds and it expects weaker second-half earnings after profit in the first half soared 81 percent.

Profit rose to $15.7 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $8.7 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales climbed to $87.7 million from $63.6 million. . . 

Seeka annual profit falls 44% on lower kiwifruit volumes, impaired banana business – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka posted a 44 percent decline in annual profit as Australasia’s biggest kiwifruit grower booked a $2 million charge on its banana sourcing unit while managing a decline in kiwifruit volumes.

Net profit fell to $5.8 million, or 34 cents per share in calendar 2017, from $10.4 million, or 62 cents a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. The year-earlier figure was bolstered by a $3.1 million gain on an insurance payment. Revenue fell 2 percent to $186.8 million. . .

Comvita swings to first-half profit, reiterates full-year guidance – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the mānuka honey company, swung to a first-half profit on strong sales growth and a recovery in the “grey” or informal sales channel into China and reiterated its full-year earnings guidance despite bad weather hitting the 2018 honey season.

The Te Puke-based company reported a net profit of $3.7 million, or 8.31 cents per share, in the six months to Dec. 31 versus a loss of $7.1 million, or 17.18 cents, in the prior period. In January the company said net profit would be more than $3 million. Sales reached $83.6 million versus $57.7 million in the prior year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $9.9 million versus an ebitda loss of $2.8 million in the same period a year earlier. . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2018

Southland eyes oats instead of dairy – Baz Macdonald:

Southland is looking into an alternative to dairy farming that taps into surging Asian demand, but uses less capital and water and produces less nitrates and greenhouse emissions. Baz Macdonald reports.

Agriculture represented 4% of NZ’s real GDP in the 2016 financial year, yet an OECD report released last year showed the sector produced half of our countries greenhouse emissions – making NZ the second highest creator of emissions per unit of GDP in the world. The recommendation from the OECD was that we develop “alternative measures to counter the pressures of farming”. . . 

Gita: Motueka orchards hit hard – Alexa Cook:

Orchards in the Motueka area have been hit hard by flooding from Cyclone Gita, prompting fears fruit will not make it to market.

The Nelson region grows a quarter of the country’s apples, and in the past week has started harvesting this year’s crop.

Apple and Pears Incorporated chief executive Alan Pollard said the flooding came at a bad time and was a big set back. . . 

Cyclone devastates ‘up to 50 percent’ maize crops – Alexa Cook:

The pressure is on for Taranaki farmers to harvest maize crops that have been flattened by Cyclone Gita, before the crop starts to die and rot.

The cyclone hit the region on Tuesday with wind gusts of up to 140km/h.

Southern and coastal Taranaki farmers have struggled with drought this summer, but conditions were just right for growing maize – and a bumper crop was expected.

However, Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntyre said the cyclone might have put an end to that. . . 

NZ’s largest pine-to-native forest regeneration project reaches major milestone:

The last pine trees have been felled in a major Hawke’s Bay conservation project that aims to convert a 4,000-hectare pine plantation back to regenerating native forest.

Over 3,500 hectares of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest have now been logged since 2006 and are now in the process of being re-converted back to native forest by land owner Simon Hall, Chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawkes Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest. . . 

Rural women need access to midwifery care:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned that Wanaka is soon to lose one of the community’s two midwives.

“Midwives practicing in rural communities have long battled the problems of geographical isolation in areas where the population continues to grow,” says Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Resourcing has been lacking for so long that rural families are suffering – it is absolutely unacceptable that expectant mothers and their families have been placed in the firing line. . . 

New Zealanders warned of stink bug risk to their own households:

Warnings are going out about the devastating impact the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug would have on New Zealand households and urban communities as the potential risk of an incursion escalates.

New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on high alert because the Stink Bug was not just a risk for orchardists.

The Stink Bug would also be devastating to urban communities where home gardens would be destroyed and houses would become safe havens for the invasive pest, he said.

Mr Pollard praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the work that they are doing to protect New Zealand’s borders against the Stink Bug, including four shipments of cars from Japan recently turned away from entering the country. He has also commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, for making biosecurity his number one priority. . . 

Dairy farming – the ancient history of producing milk – K. Kris Hirst:

Milk-producing mammals were an important part of early agriculture in the world. Goats were among our earliest domesticated animals, first adapted in western Asia from wild forms about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated in the eastern Sahara by no later than 9,000 years ago. We surmise that at least one primary reason for this process was to make a source of meat easier to get than by hunting.

But domestic animals also are good for milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt (part of what V.G. Childe and Andrew Sherratt once called the Secondary Products Revolution). So–when did dairying first start and how do we know that?

The earliest evidence to date for the processing of milk fats comes from the Early Neolithic of the seventh millennium BC in northwestern Anatolia; the sixth millennium BC in eastern Europe; the fifth millennium BC in Africa; and the fourth millennium BC in Britain and Northern Europe (Funnel Beaker culture). . . 

Forget sauvignon blanc, New Zealand’s new big thing is pinot noir Elin McCoy:

Actor Sam Neill just finished a six-part television documentary on the voyages of Captain Cook, but right now he’s focused on the role of proud farmer. I’m walking with him on a tour of his organic vineyard in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand as he shows off his prize pigs and pulls out bottles of his much-talked-about Two Paddocks pinot noirs.

“What do you think?” he asks.

Thumbs up, for sure. 

When it comes to wine, New Zealand is on a roll. According to a just-released Vinexpo study, it’s now the fastest-growing wine-exporting country to the U.S. By 2021, it’s predicted to become the No. 4 exporter to the U.S., right behind Italy, Australia, and France—which is pretty remarkable, considering that the country makes barely 1 percent of the world’s wines. . . 

Young leaders to drive conversations at agritech event:

New Zealand’s agritech community will be joined by some of the country’s best young leaders at MobileTECH 2018. One of the key highlights at the upcoming agritech event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel.

“In addition to unveiling the very latest agritech innovations, we have lined up three emerging leaders to share their visions on just where the technology is heading, what areas they see as the most beneficial to their businesses and how it will impact on the sector’s future,” says Ken Wilson, programme manager for the MobileTECH 2018 event. . . 


Rural round-up

February 18, 2018

Are you bogged mate? – Mary O’Brien Rural:

I spend a lot of time raising awareness about spray drift but recent events have compelled me to talk about something that disturbs me even more than spray drift.

I have spent my whole life working in rural and remote Australia and always around country blokes; working with them, for them, and beside them. My father was one, my brother is one, and most of my dearest friends are country blokes. I have always worked in male dominated occupations and that certainly doesn’t make me special but I believe it has given me a good understanding of rural men and it has definitely given me a deep and profound respect for them.

So when I see country blokes facing challenges like never before, I need to say something because I know none of them will. I’m talking about rural men’s mental health and more specifically, rural male suicide. Yes, that mongrel black dog that sneaks in when you least expect it, grabs all of your rational thoughts, buries them somewhere you can’t find them, and without you or those close to you noticing, it gradually pulls you into a hole, a bog hole. . . 

Taupo Beef and Lamb starts exporting its meat range to Japanese supermarkets – Gerald Piddock:

Taupo Beef and Lamb has begun exporting its meat range to Japan.

The company, established by farmers Mike and Sharon Barton, sent the first container load of product in December which went on sale at five high end supermarkets east of Tokyo in mid-January.

The response from shoppers so far had been great, said Mike Barton at a field day at Onetai Station.. . 

NZ Ireland collaboration confirmed – Nicole Sharp:

Similarities between Ireland and New Zealand are leading to collaborations on research and development in the dairy industry.

Southland dairy farmers Tim Driscoll and Tony Miles travelled to Ireland recently with DairyNZ research and development general manager David McCall and AgResearch scientist Jane Chrystal.

The aim of the visit, which had funding from the two organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries, was to cement the collaboration between the two countries.

Mr Driscoll said both countries were similar in climate which made them ideal for comparisons in research and development.

Mr Driscoll and Mr Miles, both trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, wanted to make sure the Southern Dairy Hub was a part of the ongoing collaboration. . . 

Climate work ramping up:

With climate change champions, partnership farms and greenhouse gas roadshows in the pipeline, the Dairy Action for Climate Change is accelerating its work in 2018. Here are some details from DairyNZ senior policy advisor Kara Lok and developer Nick Tait.

The aim of the Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC), launched in June last year, was for the dairy sector to proactively take action to mitigate against agricultural emissions. This initiative, by DairyNZ and Fonterra, has come at a time when it is increasingly imperative for the dairy sector to take leadership on such challenges.

At a climate conference in Germany late last year, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said New Zealand would be a world leader on climate change. The Government is looking to have the Zero Carbon Act in force by the middle of this year, which will enforce a net zero emissions target by 2050, and set up an independent Climate Change Commission that will decide whether agriculture should enter the Emissions Trading Scheme. Regardless of the outcome, it has never been more important for the dairy sector to take action on agricultural emissions. . . 

Plenty more lambing seasons in store – Yvonne O’Hara:

Even though he is 82, John Benington recently completed 57 consecutive lambing seasons. And he is intending to add to that number.

He still helps son Jamie on the family farm, Craigellachie Downs, near Beaumont, when needed, and he and wife Anne have their own smaller unit, near Lawrence.

Mr Benington is the third generation to live in the area.

”I was born and bred in Lawrence,” he said. . . 

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Put that baler twine back in your pocket son, this fence is beyond fixing, said no farmer ever.

Decisive action on Brown Marmorated Stink Bug necessary:

New Zealand Winegrowers applauds the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) decisive action in turning back three cargo vessels contaminated with Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB).

BMSB is one of the wine industry’s most significant biosecurity risks due to the insects’ potential to impact on both the production and quality of processed red wine.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says a BMSB incursion would significantly affect the wine industry’s ongoing export success. . .


Rural round-up

July 15, 2017

Wool needs red carpet treatment – Neal Wallace:

Wool growers need to put their hands in their pockets to fund the education of marketers and retailers on the merits of carpet wool, an industry veteran says.

Richard Bloemendal, a director of Tech ‘N’ Color, has worked in the New Zealand textile industry since 1980. He said key people in the retail chain today were ignorant of the merits of wool.

He was commenting on news that thousands of bales of short, strong crossbred wool were being placed in storage since the price collapsed because of a lack of demand from yarn manufacturers. . .

Young blood comes in from the cold –  Neal Wallace:

As the country shivered this week through its coldest period of winter so far, 28-year-old Nigel Woodhead conceded the timing wasn’t great.

For the past nine months or so the newly-crowned FMG Young Farmer of the Year confessed to most days making sure his stock was shifted, healthy and fed before returning home to study and prepare for the annual contest.

Now, as the mercury plummets, he has no such excuse. . .

Footrot result a boost for merino – Annette Scott:

A scientific breakthrough has put Kiwi farmers a step closer to breeding footrot-resistant flocks and increasing production of premium Merinos.

Scientists from the NZ Merino Company broke new ground using DNA sampling to accurately predict how resilient a sheep’s progeny would be to footrot.

The breakthrough was the result of four years research and studies using the world’s largest single-site central progeny test. . .

Stink Bug Agreement signed:

 The Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is one of the biggest threats facing New Zealand’s horticultural sector. It threatens the livelihoods of primary sector producers, and would impact on the quality of life of all New Zealanders if ever able to establish here.

An agreement to reduce the damaging impact of BMSB incursion was signed today by a number of horticultural sector groups and Government at the Horticulture NZ Conference in Tauranga. . .

Letters to a Young Farmer– Danielle Nierenberg:

Today, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture released Letters to a Young Farmer,  a book which compiles insight from some of the most influential farmers, writers, and leaders in the food system in an anthology of essays and letters.

The United States is on the cusp of the largest retirement of farmers in U.S. history, with more farmers over the age of 75 than between the ages of 35 and 44. Letters to a Young Farmer aims to help beginning farmers succeed through advice and encouragement, while inspiring all who work in or care about the food system. Among the 36 contributors to the book are thought leaders Barbara Kingsolver, Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, Dan Barber, Temple Grandin, Wendell Berry, Rick Bayless, and Marion Nestle. I was honored to contribute to the book as well! . . 

Barbara Kingsolver Cheers on Young Farmers:

Letters to a Young Farmer is full of good counsel for the next generation from the likes of Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, and the noted novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

Dear young farmer,

Let me speak to you as a familiar, because of all the years I’ve cherished members of your tribe. Of course, I also know you’re only yourself, just as I remember the uniqueness of every intern, WWOOFer, and summer weed-puller who has spent a season or two on our family’s farm. Some preferred to work without shoes. Some were captivated by the science of soils, botany, and pest management. Some listened to their iPods, or meditated, or even sang as they hoed and weeded, while others found no music among the bean bee­tles. A few confessed to finding this work too hard, but many have gone on to manage other farms or buy places of their own. In these exceptional souls I invest my hopes.

I don’t need to tell you what there is to love in this life; you’ve chosen it. Maybe you’ve even had to defend that choice already against family or academic advisers who don’t see the future in farming. . . 


Rural round-up

April 7, 2017

NZ could miss out on gene-editing revolution – Richard MacManus:

Is the gene editing revolution passing New Zealand by?

New Zealand is a proudly GE-free country, meaning it is illegal to produce or sell genetically engineered foods here. There are some exclusions for processed foods that have imported GE ingredients, like soy or corn flour, but they must be approved by a local authority and clearly labelled. However, there is zero tolerance for GE in fresh foods – including foods bound for export. Considering that New Zealand’s “clean green” brand is a key part of our export trade, it makes sense that GE foods are treated with caution here. But are we being too conservative, given that a new technology called CRISPR is opening up opportunities for both our economy and our environment.

CRISPR (pronounced crisper) has made gene editing nearly as simple as editing a website. Tools like CRISPR-Cas9 allow scientists to edit parts of a genome by removing, adding or altering sections of its DNA sequence. It is truly a brave new world. . . 

Objective carcase measurement – essential or just nice to have Allan Barber:

Objective carcase management (OCM) appears to be the holy grail for Meat and Livestock Australia judging by its plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to fund the installation of Dual Energy X-ray 3D carcase grading technology (DEXA) in up to 90 slaughterhouses, intended to roll out this year. The loan would be repaid from industry levies, although there are no firm details yet about how the costs would be shared.

When MLA announced Project 150 in November 2016, the Beef and Sheep Councils of Australia were both in favour, but the executive officer of the Australian Beef Association came out saying it shouldn’t be the producers but the processors who paid for it. More recently both the processor funded Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) and levy funded Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) have come out against rushing into such an expensive project without proper analysis and a robust business case. . .

Taking aim at Fish & Game over conflict of interests – Andrew McGiven:

I saw that Fish & Game held a national “take a kid out fishing day” a few weeks ago. While I applaud anyone who can encourage our children to ditch the video games and get outside to experience the great outdoors, it did raise several questions.

Why, for example, are we trying so hard to improve the health of our fresh waterways when the likes of Fish & Game are paid to protect invasive, predatory species such as trout and salmon, which actively decimate our native species such as koura (New Zealand freshwater cray)?

When sediment is such a major component of our water degradation, why is it that koi carp can pillage our river systems, collapsing river banks and stirring up soil, and yet this problem has been largely ignored by the organisation. 

It is discouraging when farmers work hard at establishing wetlands and native groves only to have them poisoned in a few short years by wildfowl E. coli. . . 

Rural women make a huge contribution to agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Fiona Gower is a true “Rural Woman” having lived and worked in the rural sector most of her life.

As the new president of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ), she has set herself several goals to accomplish during her term.

Her greatest aspiration is for RWNZ to be seen as the organisation of choice within the wider sector for all women, communities, organisations and decision makers. . . 

Heightened readiness for Stink Bug threat:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says activities to prevent the establishment of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) have ramped up over summer and helped raise public awareness of what is a serious biosecurity threat.

“This is a major agricultural pest worldwide, as well as a household nuisance. While it is found here from time to time, if it became established it would have significant economic and social impacts,” says Mr Guy.

“BMSB has been rapidly spreading across the world and there have been increasingly more finds detected at the New Zealand border. Three confirmed post border finds occurred during February, all reported by members of the public. . . 

Brazil intent on expanding beef markets in Asia, as Australian sector urged to differentiate itself – Lydia Burton:

A senior Rabobank economist says the Australian beef industry should continue to focus on differentiating its products as Brazil expands its markets in Asia.

Brazil took over from Australia as the largest exporter of beef to China in 2016, offering a cheaper protein, and has strong interest in South Korea and re-opening trade with Japan.

Japan suspended Brazilian beef imports in 2012 after it was found an animal had died of mad cow disease.

Indonesia has also been expressing interest for some years in opening up a live cattle trade with Brazil, with biosecurity protocols currently being discussed. . . 

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