Rural round-up

December 23, 2013

Positive steps to help mental health – Terry Tacon:

Like the mountain that dominates the skyline in Taranaki, the province’s farming industry has a dark side – the effect problems can have on farmers’ mental health.

Recognition of the issue prompted the region’s Rural Support Trust, with the assistance of Like Minds Taranaki, to get behind a publication called Feeling Down on the Farm – Mental Health in Rural Taranaki.

It’s a bid to give farmers somewhere to turn when they have problems and follows a similar publication in southern New Zealand in 2010. . .

Riding high on kindness – Tim Fulton:

A dairy family in Waikato has been part of a daisy chain of generosity that started with tanker drivers upgrading a young man’s trike.

Andrew Oliver, from Puketaha, had been rattling around on his trusty metal steed for a couple of decades.

So Fonterra’s tanker drivers rallied to give him something more modern, complete with a number plate proclaiming Andrew No.1 Fonterra Fan.

Andrew, who is almost 30, has a rare form of impaired brain development known as Fryns-Aftimos Syndrome.

He’s the only New Zealander with the condition and one of just 15 worldwide. He also has five types of epilepsy. . .

Andrew has spell-binding impact

Andrew Oliver inspired Andrew Lusty from the start.

As a Fonterra tanker driver, Andrew Lusty found quickly he would hear the other Andrew wheeling along on his trike before he could see him.

Drivers receive a message on their cab screens saying there is a disabled person on the Olivers’ farm to watch out for but Andrew usually races to the dairy shed like a whirlwind.

One night on the job driver Andrew gave his mate a new Fonterra hat. As he drove to the next property he did some thinking, then suggested to a colleague it would be a good idea to get Andrew a new trike. . .

Food security: an urban issue – Caspar van Vark:

According to the United Nations human settlements programme, UN Habitat, Africa is the fastest urbanising continent in the world. By 2050, 60% of all Africans will be living in cities.

But urbanisation in Africa is not going hand-in-hand with widespread economic growth: many cities are in fact seeing a proliferation of urban poverty. Food insecurity and undernutrition is therefore also increasingly an urban issue, and with urban people more dependent than rural populations on whatever food they can afford to buy, it’s tied closely to livelihoods.

A new project by the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC) is trying to address this by pulling together the issues of urban growth, migration, livelihoods and undernutrition, and drawing specific attention to the role of peri-urban ‘corridors’ of production outside cities. . .

Christmas wishes on-farm – Bruce Wills:

. . . Like farming the media isn’t immune from having its share of critics as it performs an invaluable role.  The term ‘fourth estate’ was coined for the media in the 17th Century to emphasise its importance but independence from Government.  While the traditional print media faces its challenges I agree with the journalist Rob Hosking; this is evolutionary pain as opposed to being an extinction event.  I believe that media quality will deliver readership quantity.

The shame perhaps being that quality can be somewhat uneven.  In the past couple of weeks there have been some major developments on the trade front but you wouldn’t know it from the scant attention it received from the broadcast media.  I was told one media person was scoffing over the newsworthiness of a tariff agreement with China-Taipei, which is worth $40 million to ‘NZ Inc’ in year one and over $70 million by year four.  Forget that.  They wanted to talk up the prospects of drought instead. . .

Fresh produce industry welcomes New Zealand Government’s recommendation to establish food safety centre:

The Produce Marketing Association Australia and New Zealand (PMA A-NZ), the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the fresh fruit, vegetable, and floral supply chain, has welcomed an in-principle acceptance by the New Zealand Government of a recommendation to establish a centre of food safety science and research in New Zealand.

The establishment of a food safety centre was one of 29 recommendations released on Wednesday in the Dairy Food Safety Regulatory System report commissioned on the back of investigations into the Fonterra food safety scare, which resulted in New Zealand dairy products being blocked from entering foreign countries.

“A food safety centre in New Zealand will draw attention to the important issue of food safety and traceability preparedness,” CEO of PMA Australia-New Zealand Michael Worthington said today. . .


Rural round-up

December 22, 2013

Meat industry looks interesting for 2014 – Allan Barber:

Next year will be an interesting one for the red meat sector with highlights predicted to include improved sheepmeat prices compared with last season, the probability of a procurement battle for fewer lambs and prime cattle, continuing work with research funding and the efforts of new MIE sympathetic directors on the boards of SFF and Alliance.

The big question will be whether the discussions about industry restructuring will actually achieve anything and how much impact the new cooperative boards can have on those efforts. So far we know SFF, Alliance and ANZCO have already talked to the government about introducing some form of tradable slaughter rights, but have been rejected.

There is support for a merger of the two cooperatives from a number of farmers, although retiring chairman, Eion Garden, stated at the AGM on 18th December that a merger wasn’t necessarily the right answer. He said there was no point in creating a bigger version of the same thing, but there was a need for an innovative structure to deliver a ‘great’ outcome. . .

Early Christmas present for sheep farmers:

Meat company Lean Meats has announced a bonus payment to its farmer supplier shareholders after a stronger company performance in 2013.

Lean Meats chief executive Richard Thorp today announced a return to its Atkins Ranch Producer Group (ARPG) providing shareholder farmer suppliers an average of 31 cents a kilogram or $5.74 a lamb.

This year’s payment is split with an average of $1.85 per head paid at six weeks after processing and the remaining $3.89 per head being paid in the last working week of December. . .

Beef in 2014: Demand bright, local supply tight:

New Zealand’s beef industry faces brighter prospects in 2014 with strong international demand, combined with tight local supply, according to a new report released by agribusiness banking specialist, Rabobank.

The report, Beef in 2014: Demand bright, local supply tight, says the decline in beef production, particularly in lean beef, in the United States – New Zealand’s largest beef export market – means New Zealand product will be in demand.

However, the Rabobank report cautions, in other less traditional markets – where cost is the primary determinant – growing competition from India should be expected, with increased local Indian supply available for export. . .

Proactive approach to land management – Anne Hardie:

One of the things Barbara Stuart loves most about her sustainable land management role is working with farming families who are trying hard to look after their environment.

As a regional co-ordinator for NZ Landcare Trust she works with community groups in the top of the South Island dealing with sustainability issues, including the award-winning Sherry River Catchment Group, which carried out research on cow crossings and water quality, leading to environmental plans for the landowners along the river.

Over the years she has also worked on projects to improve the water quality of Aorere River in Golden Bay, following concerns from mussel farmers beyond the river mouth, of Rai River, which leads to the Havelock estuary, and on erosion of Marlborough dryland farming with the Starborough Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Group. . .

Mr Weeds’ latest work has gained attention – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch weed scientist Trevor James’ latest literary efforts may not make the bestseller list but he and his colleagues are already receiving international praise.

Trevor has worked in a cross-sector team to compile a definitive guide to New Zealand weed seeds, the Illustrated Guide to Weed Seeds of New Zealand.

It includes high-resolution shots of every weed seed identified in the country. This includes unwelcome intruders that may not have germinated in this country but have been found as stowaways in biosecurity checks. . .

Small-scale agriculture holds big promise for Africa – Caspar van Vark:

Supporting smallholder irrigation through finance and technical assistance could significantly improve productivity and incomes.

The recent discovery of a large aquifer in Kenya is a reminder that far from being dry, Africa has abundant water resources. The problem for farmers is access: only around 6% of cultivated land is equipped for irrigation, leaving millions dependent on rain-fed agriculture. How might more of them be helped to access water that could raise their productivity?

Large-scale, government-funded irrigation systems have long attempted to address this, with varying degrees of success. Those systems have a place, but research by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has found that many smallholders are themselves taking the lead and investing in their own low-cost, small-scale irrigation systems. . . .

And from the Nutters Club NZ:
:) kindest, Boris


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