Rural round-up

17/09/2021

Migrant exodus felt in Mid Canterbury – Adam Burns:

The departure of migrant workers thwarted by visa frustrations offshore is adding sting to mid Canterbury’s depleted rural sector.

Growing uncertainty amid stalled immigration settings for migrant workers was forcing New Zealand resident hopefuls to keep their options open with Australia’s agricultural sector dangling the carrot.

Ashburton immigration advisor Maria Jimenez said several Filipino workers had joined the worker exodus to Australia and many more had signalled an interest.

“There’s no pathway to residency,” she said. . .

Pacific corridor brings some relief to Otago orchards – Anuja Nadkarni:

But closed borders to travellers has still cut off supply to a third of the industry’s workforce.

Central Otago cherry farms have been some of the hardest-hit by the labour shortages. 

The region, like many in horticulture and agriculture, has relied on a workforce heavily dominated by foreign workers.

While last week’s announcement that one-way quarantine-free travel corridor for vaccinated workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme would commence from October brought some relief, growers in the region were continuing to face challenges with filling up roles. . . 

ORC pleased with grazing compliance – Hamish MacLean:

The bird’s-eye views that winter grazing monitoring flights give Otago Regional Council staff have revealed no major breaches on Otago farms this year.

The farm monitoring flights, over three months this year, resulted in 140 follow-ups scheduled by compliance staff, council compliance manager Tami Sargeant said.

But the majority of the potential breaches identified were not related to current rules, but to new winter grazing standards, which had not yet taken effect, she said.

“In those cases, our aim is to help educate landowners about the upcoming rules and ensure they will be compliant when the rules come into force,” she said.

Ms Sargeant said staff were pleased with the level of compliance. . . 

We managed to toilet train cows (and they learned faster than a toddler). It could help combat climate change -Douglas Elliffe & Lindsay Matthews:

Can we toilet train cattle? Would we want to?

The answer to both of these questions is yes — and doing so could help us address issues of water contamination and climate change. Cattle urine is high in nitrogen, and this contributes to a range of environmental problems.

When cows are kept mainly outdoors, as they are in New Zealand and Australia, the nitrogen from their urine breaks down in the soil. This produces two problematic substances: nitrate and nitrous oxide.

Nitrate from urine patches leaches into lakes, rivers and aquifers (underground pools of water contained by rock) where it pollutes the water and contributes to the excessive growth of weeds and algae. . . 

Wool farmers see potential salvation in new products for builders, architects – Bonnie Flaws:

The strong wool sector is setting its hopes on the development of new products that could be used in building and manufacturing to increase income for farmers.

While the merino wool market continued to perform, the strong wool sector was in crisis due to competition from synthetic fibres, said The Campaign for Wool New Zealand chairman Tom O’Sullivan​.

The price of strong wool was about $2.50 a kilogram. The cost of shearing sheep was now higher than the value of the wool, O’Sullivan​ said.

But his hope was that the price of strong wool could eventually be on par with merino, which sold for between $15 and $20 a kilogram. At the very least farmers needed to break even, he said. . . 

Kiwifruit companies to amalgamate :

Northland kiwifruit growers will be delivered a stronger service following the proposed amalgamation of Kerikeri-based Orangewood Limited with a wholly owned subsidiary of Seeka Limited.

In a conditional agreement announced 14 September 2021, Orangewood shareholders are being offered 0.6630 new Seeka shares and $1.35 in cash for every Orangewood share.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks says the deal will further expand Seeka’s operations in the key Northland growth region and deliver a great service to growers. . . 


Rural round-up

23/06/2021

Big break for Hawke’s Bay as Big Save buys farms, ups the ante in wool industry – Doug Laing:

Hawke’s Bay is set to play a major role in the revival of the New Zealand wool industry kick-started by wool-buying moves taken by Napier-based furnishing manufacturer and retailer Big Save Furniture.

Moving away from synthetics as much as possible, the company is paying farmers $4.50kg for strong wool in which Hawke’s Bay is the biggest regional producer in the World – more than double recent market lows which have seen farmers paying more for the shearing than they’re getting for the wool.

The property arm of the McMinn family operation has also bought four farms in Southern Hawke’s Bay in the last 12 months, about 3000 hectares of sheep and beef farming, under the Big Rural brand.

The crisis is highlighted by Campaign for Wool NZ Trust chairman Tom O’Sullivan, from Havelock North, the fourth generation of a Central Hawke’s Bay sheep-farming family, one of several people from Hawke’s Bay at the centre of moves to get the industry, and who says that at the height of the industry in the 1950s the farm could have been bought from “the one wool-cheque”. . . 

Stretching, balance helps improve health, wellbeing – Shawn McAvinue:

Physical therapist Hennie Pienaar opens his injury prevention workshops by asking meat industry staff if they want to live longer or die earlier.

Mr Pienaar began working for Alliance Group as its musculoskeletal injury prevention manager based in Invercargill about 15 months ago.

Alliance wanted to improve the ‘‘complete wellness’’ of its staff, improving their physical, mental and nutritional health, so they enjoyed their work, went home happy and maintained a healthy lifestyle, he said.

The meat processing industry had a ‘‘big struggle’’ to find staff so it was working to retain them. . . 

Southlanders pioneer real paneer making in New Zealand – Uma Ahmed:

Southlanders who found a niche in producing authentic paneer from raw milk are starting to expand their business.

Paneer is a type of acid-set cheese originating from the Indian subcontinent.

Southland couple Julie and Roger Guise, after chatting with Thiagarajan Rajoo at church, found out authentic paneer was not being made in New Zealand.

The bulk of paneer in New Zealand is made from powder or standardised milk, as opposed to being made with raw milk. . . 

Bremworth signs up to NZFAP:

Bremworth has signed up to the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP), signalling its support for and adoption of a national wool standard.

The NZFAP provides assurance to consumers about the integrity, traceability, biosecurity, environmental sustainability and animal health and welfare of NZ’s primary sector products.

Bremworth joins 20 other wool industry members to transition towards sourcing their wool from 6800 accredited sheep farms across NZ that meet the standards set by the NZFAP.

By signing up to NZFAP, Bremworth can prove its wool has met traceability, authentic origin and animal welfare standards. . . 

Farmer uses regenerative techniques to combat high nitrate levels – Conan Young:

A farmer in an area known as ground zero for high nitrate levels, is making fundamental changes to the way he farms in order to lessen his impact on water quality.

Levels in private drinking water bores in Mid-Canterbury were on average five to seven times higher than most towns and cities, and in some places exceeded the amount deemed safe by the World Health Organisation.

But a number of farmers were determined to do something about it.

David Birkett grows crops including wheat and vege seeds on 200 hectares near Leeston. . . 

Promising early results for Facial Eczema lab test:

Initial results from a pilot study investigating the potential for a laboratory test to determine Facial Eczema tolerance are positive, paving the way for more detailed investigation.

Dan Brier, B+LNZ’s General Manager Farming Excellence, says the ultimate aim of the study, which is being funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and conducted by AgResearch, is to produce a fully validated high through-put commercial test, which is readily available for breeders and commercial farmers.

“Initial results look promising with the establishment of a cell culture method, using sheep and cattle blood, to demonstrate sporidesmin (the toxin that causes Facial Eczema [FE]) toxicity. This indicates that animals could be tested for tolerance without needing to be exposed to the toxin.” . .


Rural round-up

23/01/2021

Stronger business investment by farmers too – is essential for New Zealand’s post-Covid recovery too – Point of Order:

In  its Thursday editorial  the NZ  Herald  speaks an important truth:  “Investment important to  stay  on  track”.  This  won’t  have  startled  its  more literate  readers but  in  its text  it notes  the  strong result  in the latest  Global Dairy Trade auction, which  prompted Westpac  to raise  its  forecast  for  dairy giant Fonterra’s payout  to its farmers to $7.50kg/MS  this season.

“If  this turns  out to be correct,  it will represent the highest  payout in  seven years for  a  sector of  the economy that is arguably still  NZ’s  most  important, even before international  tourism was effectively suspended by Covid-19”.

The  Herald editorial  goes on to make the case that despite the buoyant mood,  the  only  realistic  way for  NZ to remain   in such  solid shape in the  post-Covid era  is  through stronger  business  investment.

This  is  the theme  which  Point  of  Order  set  out  earlier  this  week when it  contended  Fonterra  should go hard  with this  seasons’s payout  to  encourage  investment  by its farmer-shareholders  in expanding  production. . . 

Drought conditions and fire: which regions have reason for concern? – Katie Doyle:

It was a hard summer for many last year, with widespread drought crippling some regions.

Fire bans and water restrictions were in place throughout the country, and with February coming up, there are worries that could happen again.

Northland principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor is already on high alert amid a region-wide fire ban.

“At the moment things are still quite dry, not as bad as they were last year,” Taylor said. . .

A different way of life – Tony Benny:

A North Canterbury family has embraced permaculture to feed themselves and teach others how to do the same. Angela Clifford and Nick Gill talked to Tony Benny.

New Zealander Angela Clifford and her Aussie partner Nick Gill were highfliers in the Australian wine industry when, 17 years ago, Nick was offered a job in New Zealand. They left corporate life behind in favour of getting their hands dirty and creating a different way of life.

“I thought the customs guy at the airport was going to give me a hug and high five. He literally said to Angela, ‘You’ve brought one back’,” laughs Nick, remembering the day they arrived in NZ. . . 

Growing demand for wool fibre – Annette Scott:

A big year is planned for the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust as it shifts its focus to drive the demand for wool fibre.

New chair Tom O’Sullivan says while the mandate of the trust is to promote the education and awareness of wool, the focus must go further to support the strong wool industry.

“I feel it goes further than education and awareness, we must be focused on supporting commercial entities to create and sell wool products to drive the demand for wool fibre in general,” O’Sullivan said. . .

Expat workers ready for New Zealand :

Dairy industry recruitment company Rural People Limited is seeing a huge increase in overseas interest to fill New Zealand farming roles.

Rural People director Paula Hems says these overseas workers will be key to keeping the economy in a healthy position. While there has been an increase in Kiwis applying for farming roles since Covid-19, Hems says they often do not have the experience or the right attitude to fill the many roles available. This has seen a need to expand and consider overseas workers.

Rural People hires, on average, 100 Kiwi and overseas workers annually to work on dairy farms throughout New Zealand, as more farmers face urgent labour needs. . . 

Les Everett’s epic quest to uncover Australia’s ‘lost’ cricket pitches – Toby Hussey:

West Australian amateur historian Les Everett is on a mission to document the relics of Australia’s cricketing past, no matter how many kilometres he has to cover.

So far, he has travelled thousands of kilometres and spent hundreds of hours poring over maps and newspaper archives to locate WA’s “lost” cricket pitches.

Mr Everett, 65, says each one has a unique story to tell.

Many of those he’s found are now overgrown or surrounded by fields of crops that have sprouted in the decades since they last heard the echo of willow striking leather. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/12/2019

Keeping the faith on a family tradition – Sally Rae:

Tom O’Sullivan’s grandfather paid off his Canterbury farm with a single wool cheque during the wool boom in the early 1950s.

His father used to say that he could not buy a second-hand car with the proceeds from his wool, while in the last financial year for Tom, wool — for the first time in his family’s sheep farming history — came at a cost to his business.

But the Hawke’s Bay agribusinessman-turned-farmer remained passionate about the fibre, and is the chairman of the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust, wanting to be part of the solution rather than complaining behind the farm gate. . . 

Helping to bridge the rural-urban divide – Pam Tipa:

The urban rural divide is not just a New Zealand issue.

So says Courtney Davies, the New Zealand representative to the Bayer Youth Ag Summit, in Brasília, Brazil, in early November.

Davies (23) says she comes face to face with this issue daily as an educator in environmental sustainability and the oceans with the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

She is quick to try to shift misconceptions about agriculture among young people, she says. . . 

Call goes out for ‘wool renaissance’ – Sally Rae:

“It’s time for a wool renaissance.”

So says Stephen McDougall, of Studio Pacific Architecture, who has been an ambassador for the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust since 2011.

Wool needed to get “back on the table — or the floor” and be part of the solution of the future as a groundswell of people consciously choosing what was best for the environment.

They wanted natural products, they believed in and valued wellness, and they wanted luxury. . . 

Early runs on board for Fonterra – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s first-quarter results for the 2020 financial year show its strategy reset and operational changes have begun to deliver more consistent outcomes, it says.

In the Q1 announcements it held the full-year earnings guidance of 15c to 25c a share and added 25c to the forecast farmgate milk price, now in a narrower range of $7-$7.60/kg milksolids.

If delivered at the $7.30 mid-point, on which the advance price schedule is now based, it will be the fourth-best milk price from Fonterra. . . 

LIC flying in supplies for flood-hit farmers :

The critical spring mating period is underway on most of the country’s dairy farms, but heavy rain, slips and floodwaters have closed key roads in the South Island, making it difficult to reach a number of flood-hit farms and get the cows in-calf.

Despite the tough conditions, agritech and herd improvement co-operative LIC, the largest supplier of artificial breeding (AB) services to New Zealand’s dairy farms, is using small planes and helicopters to make sure semen straws are still delivered to farmers on time.

Around three out of four dairy cows mated to AB in New Zealand are from LIC’s bull semen. . . 

New Zealand blueberry growers anticipate another record season:

New Zealanders ate a record seven million punnets of fresh locally-grown blueberries last season and are expected to eat even more this summer as the main season gets underway.

Latest supermarket sales data shows Kiwis bought an extra one million punnets of blueberries (18.3% more) last summer compared to the year before, with total sales now exceeding $25 million.

New Zealand Olympian Eliza McCartney has signed on to be Blueberries’ NZ ambassador for the fourth year running and the organisation’s Chairman, Dan Peach, credits this high-profile partnership and general health trends for the big rise in sales. . . 

CC releases final report on Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on its annual review of Fonterra’s farm gate Milk Price Manual for the 2019/20 dairy season (Manual). The final report builds on our previous reviews of the Manual.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s 2019/20 Manual remains largely consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

“This year we have taken a look at the amendments to the Manual made by Fonterra and matters carried forward from our previous reviews. In our view Fonterra’s amendments to defined terms in the Manual improve clarity or are minor corrections. . . 


Rural round-up

20/01/2018

Agriculture is not the villain when it comes to NZ’s emissions – Steve Cranston:

Now that we have heard that a climate change commission will be established, this makes 2018 an important year politically for farmers.

There is a real possibility that if the truth about agricultural emissions is not better circulated amongst farmers and the general public alike, the New Zealand agricultural industry may be forced into a highly damaging and completely unnecessary emissions reduction scheme if it is not set up correctly.

With the notable exception of Northland avocado farmer Robin Grieve, few people or organisations have been prepared to state this basic fact that in my opinion, New Zealand agriculture is not the problem it is made out to be. . .

Lives imperiled by cellphone blackspot – Sarah Harris:

Sited in one of New Zealand’s remotest regions, Haast township continues to lobby for life-saving cellphone reception. Sarah Harris reports.

Blair Farmer will never forget how a woman’s life slipped away as he tried to save her on the floor of the information centre in Haast.

Yi-Chieh Feng, from Taiwan, had been flung from the rental camper van when it crashed into a bank. She was not wearing a seatbelt.

Driver Yu-Hsiang Chen could not call 111 as there was no reception. So he bundled her into the van and drove 30 minutes to Haast at the bottom of the West Coast. . . .

Southern Rangitikei vet Kristina Dykes determined to keep vets in the job – Kate Taylor:

A southern Rangitikei vet is determined to improve retention numbers in the profession she loves. She spoke with Kate Taylor.

As one of five children growing up in Auckland, Kristina Dykes never pictured herself working as a rural vet in provincial New Zealand.

She did want to be a vet from an early age, but it was cats and dogs in her sights more than cattle and sheep. She went to vet school quite indifferent to the rural sector but soon realised the opportunities available to her. . . 

NZ crossbred wool ‘in a crisis’:

Low financial returns have pitched the New Zealand crossbred wool industry into a crisis, a leading grower says.

Sales of merino wool were doing fine, but these represented less than 15 per cent of our national wool clip, with most of the country not high and dry enough to run merino sheep.

In contrast, returns from coarser crossbred wool were so low, many farmers found it barely worth taking their quadbikes out of the shed.

Campaign for Wool NZ Trust chairperson Renata Apatu, in particular, paints a grim picture. . .

Hunter Downs good to go – Annette Scott:

A desperate plea to farmers and investors has finally pushed Hunter Downs Water across the start line.

Late last year the proposed multi-million dollar South Canterbury irrigation scheme was at risk of being abandoned but a last-ditch effort proved successful.

After a renewed push for investors, HDW chairman Andrew Fraser confirmed the company had the shareholders needed to proceed with the $110 million scheme. . . 

Snow levels as high as 12 inches across Scotland – Zoë Wilson:

TOWNS across Scotland have been affected by heavy snow since Monday evening, and, although some people have experienced chaotic situations, others are taking advantage of the glorious views, and even considered the impact snow can have on their current situation.

One lorry couldn’t access Scotstounbank Farm, in Blyth Bridge, West Linton, due to heavy snowfall, and instead of abandoning the job, the lorry driver waited in the village while the farmer, William Aitken, dropped 270 prime Blackface wedder lambs off using a Massey Ferguson tractor and trailer. . .


Rural round-up

13/11/2012

Fonterra shares in hot demand despite unknowns – Terry Hall:

Dairy farmers should be very, very happy. It seems heaps of Asians, Australians and Kiwis want to invest in their now highly desirable, fashionable industry, even if many haven’t a clue precisely what they are putting their money into.

Even well-tested professional investors are finding the prospectus and the concept behind the $525 million Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund tough to get their heads around. It is essentially an untried investment, the first of its type ever unleashed anywhere. Essentially, owners of the co-operative company will retain full control while opening an investment opportunity to outsiders. This is to provide additional finance to further expand a crucial part of their business, which the farmers seem reluctant to do themselves. . .

Fonterra is a price taker – Milking on the Moove:

Following on from my post about how New Zealand agriculture can learn from Apple, I thought I’d look at some New Zealand companies that are doing well overseas.

Geoff Ross is a former advertising executive who rose to prominence when he founded 42 Below, the Vodka company. He and his partners have gone on to invest and run other companies which they take public. The companies Geoff and co have invested in are Ecoya which makes candles and Moa Beer.
I think he is an interesting business person to study because he hasn’t invented anything new or created a unique product. He has simply taken products which are already common place, but he creates brands that enable him to sell these products at a premium price. . .

Scientists looking at smarter irrigation technology:

Lincoln University researchers are investigating the use of microwave technology to improve efficiency and reduce water wastage from farm irrigation.

The university’s research subsidiary, Lincoln Ventures, has won government funding of almost $850,000 over two years to put its smarter irrigation concept to the test. . .

Fernbaby marketing infant formula – Sally Rae:

When it comes to travelling, Tianxi Shao could be considered a frequent flyer.

The Chinese businessman and sporting enthusiast has visited 60 countries, yet fell in love with New Zealand, captivated by the “clean, green image”.

Mr Shao is now principal of Fernbaby, a company formed to provide a locally-made high-quality alternative to the Australian and Singaporean-made infant formulas, which it says dominate the New Zealand market. . .

Wool-Rich Innovations Take Centre Stage at Shear Brilliance:

Fill your living environments with wool and do it in style – that’s the message from the Campaign for Wool.

The Campaign is hosting HRH The Prince of Wales today at Shear Brilliance – a wool showcase at The Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auckland (1pm today).

“From a carpet couch to a wool peg necklace, from grass grown on wool dags to Tiki artwork on Merino, from Zambesi’s carpet bag to the loftiness of wool knops, Shear Brilliance will surprise and delight anyone who might have thought wool was passe,” says Stephen Fookes, Chair, Campaign for Wool New Zealand. . .

Shearing Showcase At The Cloud For Prince Charles

New Zealand’s shearers and wool handlers have welcomed the opportunity to join Prince Charles in Auckland today at Shear Brilliance, a showcase celebrating the Campaign for Wool.

As patron of the campaign Prince Charles supports the industry’s efforts to raise awareness of wool’s virtues and while In New Zealand for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations visits the Cloud in Auckland to inspect a wool showcase staged by the industry.

President of the New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association Barry Pullin says Royal patronage at Shear Brilliance is an opportunity for the industry to state it’s fundamental principle that more successful farmers will sustain a more successful wool industry.  . .

Farmers urged to take early action to prevent crop damage

Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game is urging farmers to make plans now for reducing the damage that can be caused by large flocks of Paradise shelduck, and other game birds.

Game Bird Manager David Klee says that with summer approaching, farmers will start to see large groups of birds moving into their newly-planted crops.

“We urge farmers to plan ahead to reduce the damage done by these flocks,” he says. “We encourage farmers to place bird-scaring equipment out before the new grass or crops start emerging and providing birds with an easy source of food.” . . .


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