Rural round-up

03/03/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Golden Shears cancelled for first time in 61-year history :

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled.

The decision was made at an emergency executive meeting this morning, following the overnight announcement of a return to Covid-19 alert level 2 across most of the country and the escalation to level 3 in Auckland.

Confirming the decision, Golden Shears said entry fees and tickets would be refunded.

Tickets purchased online through Eventfinda will be refunded, competitor entries done online will be refunded online through PayPal, and those having entered non-website are being asked to email competitor name and bank account details to office@goldenshears.co.nz. . . 

A woolly great idea – Sally Rae:

Phenomenal” is how South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie describes watching the processing of Bales4Blair wool at a Timaru scour — and seeing the piles of donations from around the country.

Bales4Blair was launched in memory of Winton man Blair Vining, whose petition to create a national cancer agency was signed by more than 140,000 New Zealanders.

The wool was given by farmers to be made into insulation for the new Southland Charity Hospital.

The initiative was started by Mrs Blaikie, who pitched the idea to a couple of friends, Eastern Southland farmers Brooke Cameron and Sarah Dooley. . . 

’Stormy fruit’ provides ray of sunshine from Motueka hailstorm – Tim Newman:

A Nelson apple company is hoping its new product will bring a ray of light out of the gloom brought on by the Boxing Day Hailstorm.

Over the weekend Golden Bay Fruit launched its new “Stormy Fruit” brand, comprised of apples which suffered cosmetic damage in the hailstorm but were otherwise unaffected.

Golden Bay Fruit chief executive Heath Wilkins said while the company had been mulling over the concept for several years – the hailstorm had significantly increased the amount of fruit that would fall into the new product line.

He said a significant portion of the fruit was severely damaged by the hail and had to be immediately picked and discarded, but there was another portion of fruit that just received small indentations on the surface. . .

Want to earn at least $22 an hour? Kiwifruit packhouses up rates – Carmen Hall:

Kiwifruit packhouses are offering workers more money and flexible shifts in a desperate effort to avoid a labour crisis as another record-breaking harvest looms.

The harvest is expected to kick off within the week with 23,000 seasonal workers needed nationally – including about 20,000 in the Bay of Plenty.

Packhouses spoken to by NZME are offering major incentives – including flexibility across shifts alongside roles that could lead to fulltime employment.

Starting rates will be $22.10 an hour compared with last year’s average hourly packhouse rates of $19 to $20. . . 

Avocados from Oaonui on your toast – Catherine Groenestein:

A tiny coastal Taranaki community known for dairy farms and a natural gas production station could one day become known for its avocados.

Oaonui, 8 kilometres north of Opunake, was identified in last year’s Taranaki Land and Climate Assessment as an area suitable for growing the fruit.

The report was part of the two-year Branching Out collaboration between economic development agency Venture Taranaki and the food and fibre sector to investigate new commercial opportunities for the region.

Next month, representatives from the avocado industry will be in New Plymouth for a seminar on growing the fruit commercially. . .

Beef demand volatile but there are green shoots – Shan Goodwin:

WITH many of Australian beef’s largest destinations still well in the grip of COVID, and tightening supply of cattle at home putting a hefty price tag on product, the demand outlook could not be described as anything other than volatile.

However, there are some solid fundamentals in place that suggest the outlook is not all doom and gloom.

Global beef consumption is still forecast to grow, Australia enjoys a reputation for safe, high quality, consistent beef and a key lesson from last year was that stable, well-established markets shine through in times of turbulence. . . .

 


Rural round-up

05/10/2020

Stop making decisions for farmers – Peter Buckley:

From my observations of general media reporting it seems that in today’s world no one wants to take responsibility for their actions.

And more often than not they seek to blame others for the results of their actions. This is the case for private persons, government and their departments, councils and social organisations in a large portion of reports.

The majority seem to want someone else to take responsibility for their actions or lack of action. Some in government want even more control because they believe the government can fix things through legislation.

The problem with the government growing bigger, passing more legislation (much of it being a form of social engineering) and enforcing that legislation is that it takes responsibility away from the people who should hold that responsibility. . . 

Vet’s best work stories Told in new book – Catherine Groenestein:

A Taranaki vet has documented 30 years’ working with cattle in a hefty 1.5kg book that’s part instruction manual, part work stories.

Hāwera vet Cathy Thompson always carried a camera in her kit and took photos of many of the interesting animals she dealt with on farms.

Since retiring in 2017, she has used many of them in two books.

“The first one was a practical guide for cattle vets, but I thought it should be made available for farmers too, so I rewrote it,” she said. . .

Potential second drought shows importance of dams in Northland, trust says – Denise Piper:

The potential for a second drought in Northland shows the vital importance of large-scale dams, according to Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust.

The trust was formed this year to help progress water storage projects, helped along with $70 million in Provincial Growth Funding.

Work is expected to start this month on a 750,000 cubic metre reservoir near Kaikohe – one of the towns so severely impacted by drought there was a real risk taps could run dry in February.

However, the reservoir will not be ready for use until the first half of 2021. . .

Meet the farming couple breeding leeches for New Zealand hospitals :

Maria Lupton has New Zealand’s only leech farm, with tens of thousands of the parasites in tanks on her Waikato property.

If it’s a nice fine spring weekend, then Maria and Robert Lupton know they’ll probably get a call from a hospital asking for their leeches.

The Waikato couple owns a leech farm supplying hospitals throughout the country to help in surgery to restore blood flow to severed fingers or for restorative surgery after cancer treatments.

“Men and skill saws are very good for business,” Maria says. . . 

B+LNZ and OSPRI to improve sheep traceability with electronic ASDs:

Introductions of pests and diseases onto farms can be devastating for businesses and rural communities.

COVID-19 and the response to Mycoplasma bovis has underscored the importance of tracing to find, contain and control infectious diseases.

For sheep, mob-based tracing is an efficient and effective method.  For a number of years, B+LNZ has been seeking to improve the traceability of mobs of sheep.

Current tracing of movements of sheep relies on Animal Status Declarations (ASDs). These are paper-based, which limits investigators’ ability to trace a rapidly moving disease because they must follow the ‘paper trail’. . . 

 

Coronavirus leads to food industry crisis in Europe – Gavin Lee:

Across Europe, much of the food and agriculture industry has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Half of the fishermen in the Netherlands have stopped going out to sea. That’s because the price of fresh fish has plummeted due to a lack of demand.

In France, 1,500 tonnes of high quality cheese went off last week, because farmers can’t sell it.

And many of the warehouses that store fresh food across Europe are now reaching capacity.

BBC Europe correspondent Gavin Lee takes a look at the impact. . .


Rural round-up

23/03/2020

Livestock are providing answers – Neal Wallace:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canterbury has tonnes of feed – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

28/02/2020

Farming needs policy certainty – SImon Bridges:

Our reputation as a producer of quality agricultural products is well known around the world and the sector contributes close to $48 billion in export revenue to our economy. The primary sector provides an economic shot in the arm to New Zealand, and we want to see it continue to grow.

If there’s one thing I’ve picked up from the many farmers I’ve spoken to over the past couple of years, it’s that they want certainty. Farmers and growers already have enough variables to deal with such as the weather, interest rates, disease and international markets. There needs to be a clearly sign-posted direction of travel from the Government that allows everyone to get on board without adverse effects. . .

Former National MP Shane Ardern builds New Zealand’s ‘fastest’ cow shed – Catherine

A former politician has built what could be New Zealand’s fastest dairy shed – able to milk 600 cows an hour.

Two 40-bail rotary platforms turn like giant clockwork dials side by side, and the cows choose the one they prefer to be milked on.

Shane Ardern, who farms at Te Kiri, South Taranaki, with his wife Cathy, is still remembered for driving a tractor named Myrtle up the steps of Parliament in 2003 to protest the Labour Government’s plans to impose a ‘fart tax’ on farmers.

Ardern returned to farming in 2014 after 16 years as National’s Taranaki King Country MP. . .

Southern peas please big producers  :

The Maw family, of Mid Canterbury, has been been farming at Barrhill for four generations, dating back to 1925.

They rotate a broad range of crops including cereals, grass and clovers for grazing and seed production, vegetable seed crops and peas, which are currently being harvested for produce giant, Wattie’s.

Colin Maw has been supplying Wattie’s for over 20 years.

Wattie’s farmers had vast experience in growing the very best peas with knowledge handed down and nurtured between generations, he said. . .

 

The importance of the humble blueberry – Dr David Chagné:

New Zealand is involved in a US$12.8 million USDA grant to improve the quality of blueberry and cranberry.

The four-year project, led by North Carolina State University, is part of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which funds multi-year, multi-institutional collaborative projects.

Genomics Aotearoa and Plant and Food Research Ltd have just become part of this project, and we’re very excited about what that offers – for blueberry producers here, for the New Zealand economy, the consumer and for other genomics researchers.

But what does this actually mean for us? . .

Robotics Plus a THRIVE Top 50 agtech company:

Robotics Plus, a world-leading robotics and automation company developing innovation to unlock new levels of productivity in agriculture, has been named in the THRIVE Top 50, an annual ranking of leading global AgTech companies exemplifying the best in agriculture innovation. Robotics Plus, the only New Zealand company to make the 2020 Top 50 ranking, was just one of five companies featured in the Robotics & Automation category.

Robotics Plus CEO Dr Matt Glenn says it’s a huge honour to receive a coveted spot on THRIVE’s Top 50 global list. “We’re thrilled to be showcased in such a prestigious list alongside exceptional AgTech companies from around the world who are pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation. . . 

Don’t mess with farmers – Peter Burke:

Policymakers in Ireland have learned the lesson about demonising farmers – just don’t do it.

That’s the word from a leading Irish scientist, Dr Karl Richards from Teagasc, that country’s semi-state organisation that is responsible for R&D, training and advisory services to farmers.

Richards told Rural News, at recent seminar at Massey University, that policy makers in Ireland have realised that farmers will react badly to being constantly demonised and are less likely to react positively to improving the environment. . .

 


Rural round-up

30/10/2019

Taranaki farmers fear new freshwater rules will drive them out of business – Catherine Groenestein:

Dairy farmer Ali Wicksteed is so confident of how good the water on his farm is, he scoops a glassful from a stream on his property and takes a long drink.

Yet he and his wife Nicola fear they could be unable to carry on farming their central Taranaki property under new rules proposed in the Government’s Action for Healthy Waterways discussion document.

The changes aim to improve water quality and reduce the amount of pollution entering waterways from cities and farms.  . . 

They grab every opportunity – Annette Scott:

Driving their business to grow and intensify while keeping true to their farming values for Mt Somers Station is a challenge for David and Kate Acland who are also heavily involved in both their local community and wider industry groups. They talked to Annette Scott.

Mt Somers Station is a 3800 hectare family property in the heart of the Mid Canterbury foothills. 

The Acland family has farmed the fully integrated property with proud traditions of caring for their land, environment and people for almost 40 years.

The philosophy has always been to farm with minimal impact, recognising that to farm sustainably they must farm profitably and remain open to change as they take a 100-year view on their farming business decisions. . .

Venison spreads it’s wings – Annette Scott:

Farm-raised venison is changing with New Zealand no longer having all its eggs in one basket, new Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat says.

With established markets evolving and new ones emerging some important new markets have been developed.

They are the result of active market development programmes by both individual venison companies and collectively by the five main venison exporters supported by DINZ.  . . .

Ngāi Tahu Farming strongly encourages sector to work together to progress five-year joint action plan:

Ngāi Tahu Farming chair Barry Bragg says the government’s announcement of their five-year joint action plan on agricultural emissions signals a step in the right direction, but that the sector must work collaboratively to implement urgent change.

Ngāi Tahu Farming is a large-scale agricultural presence in Te Waipounamu with interests in dairy, beef and forestry, and Bragg says that the business strives to balance economic priorities against reducing environmental impact.

“We are charged with running a farming business that contributes to the commercial outcomes of the iwi, as well as upholding Ngāi Tahu values. . .

Marlborough couple to downsize their Pine Valley ‘paradise’ after 50 years – Sophie Trigger:

Lloyd and Valerie Mapp are downsizing. 

After nearly 50 years in Pine Valley, in rural Marlborough, the Mapps are selling 50 hectares of land, including their home, flat paddocks and rolling hill blocks.

But they’re not moving far – just 2 kilometres in fact, to the front of the farm, where they will lose their sheep, but continue beef farming. . .

 

Scientist profile: Ross Monaghan:

My understanding of a meaningful life is having a sense of purpose and having a sense of struggle that’s attached to that, because you quickly get bored with yourself if those ingredients are missing,” says Ross Monaghan, Science Team Leader of the Environmental Sciences Team.

Ross was born and bred in the sleepy rural Southland town of Mataura, 13 kilometres south of Gore. This was where he spent quite a lot of his childhood growing up on family farms where his enjoyment for agriculture began to flourish.

“I quickly realised that to own a farm without a large backing of capital was quite a tough thing to do, so I drifted into agricultural science. I then specialised in soil science. I could see that obviously agriculture is important to New Zealand and that there are quite a lot of environmental pressures coming through due in part to agriculture, so that’s where I thought I could perhaps gain some expertise and try and make a difference to alleviate some of those pressures.” . . .


Rural round-up

29/07/2019

A united primary sector at last:

The united and unprecedented stand taken last week at Parliament was historic.

Read: Primary sector’s commitment to reducing emissions.

It brought together farmers, growers and other related sectors seeking to solve the vexing problem of agricultural emissions. 

Eleven different groups, including Maori, took a united position on climate change, even daring to challenge one recommendation by the Independent Climate Change Commission (ICCC) set up to advise the Government.

Faced with a hijacking of the climate change issue by greenies and others, the agri sector got its act together in style.  . .

Dutch methane blocker hits NZ roadblock:

A Dutch company trying to get its methane-slashing innovation into the hands of Kiwi farmers says it’s hit a roadblock with New Zealand’s regulations.

Methane emissions from livestock like sheep and dairy cows account for around a third of New Zealand’s emissions.

The animals themselves did not produce methane, but rather a group of microbes, called methanogens, that lived in the stomach (rumen), and produced methane, mainly from hydrogen and carbon dioxide when digesting feed. . .

Hawke’s Bay farm puts meat on the menu at some of New Zealand’s finest restaurants – Simon Farrell-Green:

You’ll find Pātangata on Google Maps if you look, though it’s barely a town, more of an intersection with a tavern beside the Tukituki River, not far from Havelock North where the vineyards and plains of Hawke’s Bay graduate to rolling hill country.

Here, the Smith family – Duncan Smith, Annabel Tapley-Smith and their children Tabatha and Rupert – farm several hundred hectares of rolling country and irrigated flat land, either side of the river, finishing Angus cattle and Suffolk-Texel lambs on grass rather than grain, and producing meat of uncommon quality. . .

Diversity aspect to next year’s A&P Show – Kerrie Waterworth:

Bee keepers, flower growers and other non-traditional farming types will be highlighted at next year’s Wanaka A&P Show.

Event manager Jane Stalker said this year’s marketing campaign focused on the people of the Upper Clutha and was incredibly successful.

She said she hoped to repeat that success, by focusing on diverse local agricultural businesses instead for next year . . .

Hāwera man’s life of music and farming – Catherine Groenestein:

Pat Powell’s neighbours used to listen to him practising Italian opera songs as he worked on his farm.

Powell, who recently turned 90, sang all the arias made popular by Pavarotti decades later and could have made a career as an international tenor, but instead chose to stay in South Taranaki.

“I was invited by Donald Munro to come to Auckland and join the New Zealand Opera Company, but I went to boarding school in Auckland and I hated every minute of it,” he said. . .

 

Montana ranchers can now get paid to sequester carbon using rotational grazing practices

CO2, or carbon, is a dirty word these days – and for good reason. Due to a number of causes including the burning of fossil fuels and widespread deforestation, there is far too much CO2 being returned to the atmosphere, resulting in climate change. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2017 the United States emitted 5.1 billion metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide, while the global emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide totaled 32.5 billion metric tons.

Despite the grim outlook, there are ways of reversing the abundance of CO2, including sequestration, which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. An entire marketplace has developed around CO2 mitigation that enables CO2-emitting industries to purchase carbon credits from businesses engaged in offsetting activities, such as the production of renewable energy through wind farms or biomass energy, as well as energy efficiency projects, the destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural by-products, reducing landfill methane, and forestry projects. . . 


Rural round-up

21/09/2018

2019 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced: 

Six young agriculture professionals from both sides of the Tasman have been announced for the prestigious badge of honour for the primary industry, the Zanda McDonald Award.

Now in its fifth year, the award recognises innovative young professionals in agriculture from across Australasia. Five Australians and one New Zealander have been selected as finalists for the 2019 award based on their passion for agriculture, strong leadership skills, and their vision for the primary industry.

The shortlist is made up by Australians Alice Mabin 32, owner of Alice Mabin Pty Ltd in Linthorpe Queensland, Harry Kelly, 26, Manager of Mooramook Pastoral Co. in Caramut Victoria, Luke Evans, 28, Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture in Tennant Creek Northern Territory, Nick Boshammer, 30, Director of NBG Holdings Pty Ltd in Chinchilla Queensland, and Shannon Landmark, 27, Co-ordinator of the Northern Genomics Project of the University of Queensland. Kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms in Oamaru, North Otago rounds off the six. . . 

Kiwi farmers take on growing South American super food – Catherine Groenestein:

Growing Taranaki’s first commercial crop of quinoa was challenge enough, but finding a combine harvester in a district devoted to dairying proved tougher.

Luckily for Hamish and Kate Dunlop of Hāwera, they found someone who owns the only suitable machine in the region living just down the road.

The couple’s journey into growing a crop native to South America on their sheep and beef farm began with a discussion about whether quinoa, a food the health-conscious family was already familiar with, would grow in South Taranaki, Kate said. . .

 The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers – Point of Order:

It  must have felt  like  salt being rubbed into  their  financial wounds   for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders, when Synlait  Milk this week  reported  its  net profit  soared  89%  to  $74.6m.   Fonterra’s  mob   saw  their  co-op  notch  up  a  loss of  $196m, and  with prices  at GDT auctions trending down,  they may also have to accept a trim  to the forecast milk price.

Where  Fonterra  talks of   slimming its  portfolio,  Synlait  is still investing  in expansion.

In the latest year Synlait has been working on new and expanded plants in Dunsandel, Auckland and Pokeno as well as a research and development centre in Palmerston North. . .

Much more mozzarella – Chris Tobin:

Cutting-edge technology used in Fonterra’s new mozzarella line at its Clandeboye plant is the first of its kind in the world, and being kept under wraps.

”It’s the result of years of investment into R&D and hard work at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre,” Clandeboye cheese plant manager Chris Turner said.

”The work has been supported in part by the Primary Growth Partnership between the Government, Fonterra and Dairy NZ.

”Other than that we can’t tell you too much more. . .

Fonterra steers clear of consultants after paying millions to McKinseys – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will not use external consultants for its newly-announced everything-on-the-table asset review, the dairy processor says. This follows allegations it paid up to $100 million a year between 2015 and 2017 to global consultancy giant McKinsey as part of its “Velocity” cost-cutting and restructuring programme.

It also forked out millions of dollars in CEO and other staff bonuses as part of its Velocity Leadership Incentive scheme. . .

Balle and Coull to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ shareholders have chosen Dacey Balle and Duncan Coull from an unprecedented field of 19 candidates to join the Co-operative’s Board, representing the North Island.

Murray Taggart, who retired by rotation this year, was unopposed in the South Island Ward and re-elected to the Board – while the decisions of Gray Baldwin to not seek re-election and Donna Smit to step down in the North Island Ward, opened a rare opportunity to secure a governance role with a leading rural business. . .


Rural round-up

11/07/2018

Prized stock castration frustrates farmer – Andrew Ashton:

After waking up to find someone had castrated two of his bulls, a Hawke’s Bay farmer expected the police to arrest and charge the culprit. Instead he says he was advised to sell up and move.

Pongaroa farmer David Vitsky said the incident was the latest in a litany of stock rustling and rural crime stretching back several years.

But Hawke’s Bay police say they are unable to gather firm evidence to charge anyone.

“We’ve been plagued by a continuous raid of stock rustling, thefts and the police fail to get prosecutions,” Vitsky told Hawke’s Bay Today. . . 

Pagan’s shear determination on screen – Sally Rae:

She might be the South’s latest film star but Pagan Karauria is no prima donna actress.

Left in charge of  father Dion Morrell’s shearing business while he is in Japan for several weeks, the Alexandra woman  has been up every morning between 4.15am and 4.30am.

Her day is full as her mobile phone rings constantly and she ensures the smooth running of seven gangs. But, as she puts it, “I’m just cruising along doing what I love.”

Mrs Karauria’s passion for the shearing industry is undeniable –  she is both a shearer and  woolhandler and had the remarkable distinction of competing in both disciplines in the All Nations competition at last year’s World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill. . .

PGG Wrightson says “no comment” on report of possible $600M buyout – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says it has no comment on Australian media reporting that ASX-listed agribusiness company Elders is looking to buy it for $600 million.

A column in The Australian says Elders may seek to raise A$300 million via a rights issue to help fund the purchase, with the remainder funded via debt. The PGG Wrightson board “met on Friday to discuss the sale of the business and speculation is building that Elders has already been told that it is the preferred bidder”, The Australian reported. . .

Decision made on fate of defunct Gore meat plant – Sally Rae:

Blue Sky Meats has decided to sell its Gore plant which has been non-operational since late 2016.

Last year, the company announced it was reviewing its options for the unprofitable plant. Options ranged from reinstatement of full operations to an asset sale.

When the plant was temporarily closed, Gore staff were offered secondment to the company’s Morton Mains plant.

In a statement, the company said the decision was not made lightly but the board felt it was the best course of action for the company’s ongoing financial performance.

Blue Sky Meats has released details of its annual report for the 2018 financial year which showed a much improved result with a net profit before tax of $3.7million, compared to a $2.5 million loss the previous year. . .

The science behind the Impossible Burger – Siouxsie Wiles:

Air New Zealand has just announced The Impossible Burger is now available to a minuscule number of their customers, a move described as an “existential threat” by New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson. So what is all the fuss is about?

This week, Air New Zealand announced that Business Premier “foodies” on their Los Angeles to Auckland flights would be able to try out the “plant-based goodness” that is the Impossible Burger. Lamb + Beef New Zealand, which represents sheep and beef farmers, is clearly peeved that our national carrier wouldn’t rather showcase some great Kiwi “grass-fed, free range, GMO free, naturally raised” beef and lamb instead. Mark Patterson, New Zealand First’s spokesperson for Primary Industries even went as far as to put out a press release calling the announcement an “existential threat to New Zealand’s second-biggest export earner”. Meanwhile, vegetarians on social media are left a bit puzzled as to why Patterson is so against them having a special vegetarian option for dinner. My guess is it’s because the Impossible Burger is no ordinary veggie burger. . . 

Sheepdog trialists gather for annual battle of wits against woolly opponents in Hāwera – Catherine Groenestein:

“Wallago, Dick! Wallago, Dick!”

Dick the sheepdog’s muzzle is greying but his eyes are still fixed on the sheep. He trots with purpose, rather than running flat out like his apprentice, a youngster called Jay.

After a lifetime of farm work and winning many trials, Dick, who’s 14,  can almost work the sheep around the obstacles on a course by himself. . . 

Whopping truffle from Waipara farm sets NZ record – Gerard Hutching:

Waipara’s Jax Lee has unearthed a New Zealand record of 1.36 kilograms for a black truffle, worth thousands of dollars when she exports it.

Truffle expert Dr Ian Hall said a similar sized black (or Perigord) truffle had been dug up in Gisborne in the 1990s, “but I’m sure Jax’s would be a New Zealand record.”

Truffles may not be quite black gold, but they are considered the world’s most expensive food. The equivalent weight in gold of Lee’s example is 43 ounces, worth $54,000. . . 

A tale of two expos – Post Veganism:

A couple years ago, I attended the Natural Food Expo West for the first time. The section of the main exhibit hall that I first wandered into was row after row of nutraceutical suppliers. These suppliers, including many from China, provided many of the vitamins, minerals, herbs used to supplement and fortify many of the “natural” and “healthy” foods and drinks I’d later see a plethora of elsewhere at this expo. What was less ubiquitous was real whole food, that is food that was minimally processed, well grown or raised  and that didn’t need to be fortified or supplemented to be nutrient dense.

So this past April, I returned to Anaheim once again to attend the Natural Food Expo West held at the convention center. This year the event was larger than ever, and I only had portions of two days so couldn’t cover the entire hall. Maybe I just missed it, but all the nutraceutical suppliers seemed to be organized more around the periphery rather than taking so much area on the floor this time. Though there still was plenty of “natural” and ‘healthy” junk food fortified with vitamins, minerals, herbs and- the new rage- probiotics. However, much to my surprise, there was a larger presence of real food with more fermented foods, minimally processed seaweed items, and vinegar as well as plenty of bone broth, jerkies and other grass finished meats . . 


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