Rural round-up

05/08/2021

Policies undermining instead of promoting NZ farmers – Glenn Tyrrell:

A national tragedy is occurring and no-one seems aware it is destroying our farming communities and will ultimately do major damage to our economy.

The media have mostly accepted Government spin that farmers are damaging our environment, our planet and our international brand reputation.

It is no wonder consumers are confused and also believe farmers are responsible for global warming when, in New Zealand, nothing could be further from the truth.

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) produced a report that determined livestock and meat production contributed to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GGGE), the same amount as transport. . . 

Paper concludes cutting meat won’t reduce a person’s carbon footprint much – Catherine Harris;

A new paper by New Zealand and English scientists concludes that going meatless will only have a small impact on a person’s overall lifetime carbon footprint.

The paper, published in the Swiss-based Sustainability Journal, was written by researchers at Auckland, Massey, Victoria and Oxford universities, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

It found that giving up meat would only reduce the average person’s lifetime contribution to global warming by 2 per cent to 4 per cent.

That was because long-term, the benefits in not eating meat were largely offset by the carbon dioxide created to produce alternative foods and the relatively short life of methane, farming’s key greenhouse gas. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports close to $1 billion in June:

The New Zealand red meat sector continues to perform strongly with overall exports reaching $937 million in June, up 16% year-on-year, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat exports increased by 15% to $345 million compared with June 2020.

Beef exports rose 8% to $411 million and co-products rose by 40% to $181 million.

There was also an increase in the value of all categories of co-products, with the largest two categories – prepared meat products and edible offals – increasing by 88% and 30% respectively. . .

Huge Far North water verdict looms as avocados boom – Nita Blake-Persen:

Plans for a massive water take to grow more avocados in the Far North could get the green light in the coming weeks, but there are major concerns among some locals about what that will mean for the environment.

An application to take billions of litres from Te Aupouri aquifer, which sits right at the top of the country, is currently being considered by independent commissioners.

A decision is expected in August. While there has been opposition from the Department of Conservation and many in the community, those wanting the water say the environment is their primary concern too.

In recent years the view from State Highway 1 north of Kaitaia has changed extensively. Former paddocks are now covered with bright wind breaks, protecting tens of thousands of avocado trees, stretching as far as the eye can see. . . 

Livestock feed support available for flood-affected farmers in the South Island:

Flood-affected farmers in the South Island are being encouraged to make use of livestock feed support services funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Widespread flooding across the Canterbury, West Coast, Tasman, and Marlborough areas this winter has damaged pasture and caused losses to supplementary feed.

Since June, MPI has boosted feed support services and allocated more than $4.7 million for recovery grants, technical advice, and wellbeing support.

“Several of these regions had been battling long-term drought prior to the floods which have put further pressure on feed supplies heading into calving and lambing,” said MPI’s director of rural communities and farming support Nick Story. . . 

New charitable trust for New Zealand’s horticulture sector:

A new charitable trust has launched to support the horticulture industry.

The work of the MG Marketing Charitable Trust (MG Trust) is funded by New Zealand’s leading produce wholesaler, MG Marketing. The grower-owned cooperative provided a cash donation of $170,000. Ongoing funding will come from annual distributions generated by shares held by the MG Trust.

While the MG Trust will be supported by MG Marketing, it is run independently, with Trustees making key decisions about how funding is allocated.

Horowhenua grower and Chairperson, John Clarke, welcomed the launch of the trust and said that making a positive difference to the New Zealand horticulture sector is at the heart of the MG Charitable Trust (MG Trust). . . 


Rural round-up

26/06/2021

Farmer lobby groups defend teaching resource on climate change – Catherine Harris and Kate Green:

A teaching resource on climate change produced by meat and dairy interests is being criticised as targetting schools with a one-sided view on farm emissions.

The information focuses on the “important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population”.

Co-authored by Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, it explores “the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system”. . . 

Growing farming wellbeing awareness :

Working in the agri-nutrient sector, Calvin Ball says he has seen a significant change in farmers’ attitudes to health and safety in recent years.

Ball, the Northern 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, grew up on a Northland dairy farm, studied agriscience at Massey and began his career with an agri-nutrient company in 2013. After his OE in London, he returned to the company and is now Northern North Island regional sales manager, heading a team of nutrient specialists.

“Going out on farms, I have seen farmers’ attitudes change significantly since 2013,” Ball said.

“Back then, many could be pretty dismissive in their response to conversations about health and safety, but now they are much more on board with the requirements and attitudes are very different.” . .

Being green and profitable – Peter Burke:

A major, three-year research project is underway in Taranaki to see what can be done to practically reduce the environmental footprint of dairy farmers and, above all, ensure that farms remain profitable. Reporter Peter Burke looks at the initiative and how it’s progressing.

The project is led by Dairy Trust Taranaki in conjunction with Mark Laurence – DairyNZ’s regional leader in the province.

He heard about the trust working on a project called ‘Future Farming’, which was designed to see what farming might look like in the future with greenhouse gas and nitrate restrictions, as well as new animal welfare requirements, and still be profitable. . .

Icebreaker chief makes switch to carpet and wool company Cavalier :

The former chief executive of merino clothing company Icebreaker is heading to the strong wool sector.

Greg Smith will take up a new role as chief executive of the New Zealand carpet and wool company Cavalier in July.

The listed company last year announced it would stop producing synthetic carpets and would shift to wool-only.

Cavalier chair George Adams said Smith had extensive international business experience, running iconic New Zealand companies and helping them to scale on the world stage. . .

Focus turned to non-mānuka honeys at beekeepers’ conference :

Beekeepers from around the country have gathered in Rotorua to discuss challenges facing the industry.

The annual Apiculture Conference is being held over the next three days and is expected to attract about 900 people from the sector.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said one topic of discussion would be finding ways to add value for non-mānuka varieties – to solve the issue of low prices and an oversupply.

“The mānuka story has been very, very successful and has been a great platform to leverage New Zealand honey on the global market and what we’re saying is, it’s time for the other honeys to shine as well. . .

Defra unveils new green fund for farmers in National Parks:

Farmers in National Parks will receive more funding to help them make improvements to the environment, the government has today confirmed.

Land managers based in England’s National Parks or AONBs will also be able to use the funds to improve public access on their land.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers based in these areas.

The government, announcing the programme on Thursday (24 June), encouraged those interested to apply from 1 July. . . 


Rural round-up

19/12/2020

Open letter to Prime Minister Ardern re Immigration NZ border exemption confusion– Julie South:

Dear Prime Minister (and Minister Faafoi & Ms Standford)

Open Letter:  clarification sought on rationale used for border exemption denials for health care workers

I’m writing this Open Letter with the hope you’ll be able to answer my questions because it appears no one else in your government is able to.

There are quite a few questions in this letter, so to make it easy for you, I’ve highlighted them in blue.  I’ve also provided some background information to give you context.

I’m hoping you can help me because my colleagues and I are struggling to understand the rationale applied by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in recent border exemption denials for the health care workers I specialise in finding jobs for. . . 

Shares in a2 tumble as company slashes forecast – Catherine Harris:

Shares in dairy company a2 have plunged more than 20 per cent on Friday as the company slashed its forecast to reflect a longer than expected recovery in its some of its selling channels.

The glamour stock’s share price fell more than 23 per cent to $10.78 in late afternoon trading, after a2 downgraded its revenue forecast for the first half to $670 million, and between $1.40 billion to $1.55b for the full year.

That was well down on 2020’s stellar full year revenue of $1.73b, and its September guidance of $1.8b to $1.9b, with $725m to $775m for the first half. . . 

A new lease on life – Neal Wallace:

Torrid life experiences proved to be Lindsay Wright’s apprenticeship for work with the Rural Support Trust in Southland. Neal Wallace talks to the former Wendonside farmer about the scratches and bruises that life has served up to him.

Lindsay Wright agonised for months about what to do with his fourth-generation family farm.

The uncertainty was adding to his depression but in the end, the decision only took a few minutes to make once he started working with a counsellor to address his health issues.

She asked him three questions: Did he want to stay as he was? Did he want to sell it? Did he want to employ a manager? . . 

Alliance demonstrates agility in tough year:

Shareholders at the Alliance Group Annual Meeting this week were told the cooperative showed agility in an unprecedented year as a result of Covid-19 and adverse weather events.

Last month, Alliance Group announced an underlying profit of $27.4 million.

Adjusted for a one-off event of ‘donning and doffing’, the annual profit result was $7.5 million before tax.

The red meat co-operative achieved a record turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

Lawyers called in over 119 year old mistake – David Williams:

Officials want to exclude a reserve from a Crown pastoral lease, which might spark a court battle, David Williams reports

When Lukas Travnicek flew over Canterbury’s Mt White Station he’d done his research.

The Czech Republic native, and New Zealand resident, knew the average rainfall of the Crown pastoral lease property, which borders the Arthur’s Pass National Park, and factored its 40,000 hectares (about a quarter of Stewart Island) into his development plans, should he buy it.

“I saw it from the chopper, the very first time and they didn’t want me to land because they said that it would be disturbing for the manager and you’re not sure if you really want to buy it. But I made the pilot land.” . . 

Govt must listen to farmers on freshwater rules:

The Government must listen to feedback from farmers on its freshwater rules,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

Stuff reports that the Southland Advisory Group has recommended pugging rules and resowing dates be scrapped from the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

“ACT has said from the outset that the rules are impractical and will seriously impact on production.

Last week, an Economic Impact Report on Land and Water Management in the Ashburton District suggested the rules would reduce farm profitability by 83 percent a year. . . 

The mystery of Tekapo’s disappearing lupins: Who killed the social media star? – Brook Sabin:

It’s one of New Zealand’s most iconic shots: Lake Tekapo, the mountains and a bright glow of purple. You probably know what purple I’m talking about. Yes, the “L” word – “lupins”.

Mackenzie Country is known around the world for its lupins; before Covid-19 Lake Tekapo would often have traffic jams around lupin hotspots.

The trouble is, when some strike that perfect Instagram pose – little do they know they’re actually frolicking among weeds.

Lupinus polyphyllus (which to be fair, sounds like the plant equivalent of an STI) is commonly known as the russel lupin, or just “that purple Instagram flower”. It is the weed equivalent of 1080; opinions are bitterly divided. . . 


Rural round-up

31/01/2020

Iwi want greater freshwater say :

Waikato Tainui iwi say planned changes to the way lakes and rivers are managed under the Resource Management Act don’t reflect their status as co-managers of the Waikato River.

Proposed special freshwater hearing panels, to be overseen by a chief freshwater commissioner, will have one iwi representative among five panelists though the commissioner can appoint more members.

Waikato Tainui told a Parliamentary select committee they have not been consulted on the proposal and the panel make-up undermines the co-management principles that underpin their 2008 Treaty of Waitangi settlement. . . 

Waikato farmers ‘prepared’ for dry spell but some crops suffering:

Farmers in Waikato and South Auckland are increasingly worried by the drought-like conditions.

Waikato Primary Industry Adverse Event group has reported that milk production, forestry and water levels are down.

Ōhinewai Farmer and group chair Neil Bateup said farmers were prepared, but crunch time would be in a few weeks.

“They do have feed on hand and are into supplementary feeding animals now but I guess it’s a wait and see system from now on.” . . 

Farmers look for water as foresters seek workers – Benn Bathgate:

Turnips the size of radishes and wilting maize have got Waikato farmers concerned about the dry conditions and the forestry sector says a shortage of workers has put them at  greater danger of suffering from the heat too.

Waikato Regional Council said that a meeting of the Waikato Primary Industry Averse Event Cluster core group took place on Tuesday to review conditions and how farmers are coping, with group chair Neil Bateup​ warning “drought like conditions have been a feature of Waikato farming in recent summers”.

The group flagged falling milk production, and cited concerns for the forestry sector that plantings late last year might not survive the summer due to the small root base if there isn’t significant rain. . . 

Dry weather bodes well for Wairarapa wineries after previous frost-bitten harvest – Catherine Harris:

Sun-drenched Wairarapa is drying out, but what’s bad news for sheep farmers is great news for the region’s wineries.

Temperatures nearing the early 30s this week have complimented a gentle spring and warm summer nights.

Pip Goodwin, chief executive of Palliser Estate in Martinborough, said it would hopefully make up for the frosts which limited last year’s harvest. . . 

Dogs and horses at Rural Games:

The New Zealand Rural Games expects a few more four-legged visitors this year.

It supports animal welfare organisations Retired Working Dogs, Greyhounds as Pets, Life After Racing and Canine Friends Pet Therapy Dogs, which will be at the games in a bid to raise their profiles. 

Games founder Steve Hollander said they will bring a new dimension to the event.

“Dogs and horses are a huge part of many successful farms and families and have been for generations. I’m thrilled that we’ve had sponsors come on board to help each of these charities to raise their public profile during the games,” he said. . . 

Waikato Stud leading vendor at Karaka 2020:

Waikato Stud remains on top of the New Zealand breeding world after again bagging top honours at Karaka:

The Matamata farm was the leading vendor again at New Zealand Bloodstock’s Book 1 National Yearling Sale for the seventh consecutive year.

Waikato Stud consigned 71 yearlings, selling 59 at an aggregate of $9.9million.

Its top priced lot was the Savabeel colt out of Magic Dancer, Lot 79, which was purchased by Te Akau’s David Ellis for $800,000. . . 


Rural round-up

24/01/2020

Failure won’t be farmers’ fault – Arthur Tsitsiras:

Farmers, like any business people, always look to keep costs down and make a profit. 

Farming, however, is an industry with a unique set of variables. Droughts can severely affect crop and livestock growth, floods and storms damage crops and infrastructure, unexpected disease outbreaks and wavering demands in certain products can all have wide-ranging impacts completely out of farmers’ hands. 

In addition, farmers are now expected to be conscious about their environmental impact.  . . 

Primary Sector Council’s starry-eyed vision – Nigel Malthus:

Late last year, the Primary Sector Council (PSC) unveiled its vision for the future of New Zealand’s primary industries.

It centres on the Māori concept of Taiao, which emphasises respect for, and harmony with, the natural world.

The council was established by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April 2018 on a two-year mission to provide strategic advice on issues and to develop a sector-wide vision for the future. . . 

Here comes the sun . . . (flowers) – Sally Brooker:

One of North Otago’s favourite crops is making an impact again.

Sunflowers are maturing in paddocks on Thousand Acre Rd, between Oamaru and Kakanui, attracting photographers and adding a feel-good element to the landscape.

They are grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for their animal feeds company Topflite.

“You never get sick of them,” general manager Greg Webster said of the giant yellow flowers. . . 

Robot start-up Radius Robotics seeks to solve world’s soil depletion – Catherine Harris:

Farming by robot is no longer a fantasy, and it also could be a breakthrough for preserving our soil quality, a group of Kiwi entrepreneurs say.

Christchurch’s Radius Robotics is developing a wheel-based robotic system which would direct drill seeds with a minimal footprint, irrigate, weed and collect data.

Reducing the amount of land having to be tilled was one of its key aims, co-founder Henry Bersani said. . . 

Farmers encouraged to seek advice on farm succession planning – Sam Kilmister:

A series of workshops is designed to get farmers thinking about life after the farm.

Farm succession is a pressing topics among sheep and beef farmers, with more than 50 per cent of sheep and beef farms expected to change hands over the next decade.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership will hold a series of workshops educating Rangitīkei farmers on business transition and help them to navigate what can often be a difficult process. . . 

Fonterra leaves impression:

An internship at Fonterra proved to be just as valuable to Massey University science student Victoria-Jayne Reid as it was to the dairy co-operative with the development of a new testing regime.

The third-year science student spent her summer at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre across the road from Massey’s Manawatu campus helping to validate a new test for fat content in milk products that has proved to be robust and simple.

“The old reference method was highly laborious, it involved hazardous chemicals, manhandling and it took a long time,” Reid says. . . 


Rural round-up

12/01/2020

Dairy farm sales dry up as tighter bank lending, foreign investment take hold – Catherine Harris:

Commentators say dairy farm values are falling, as bank lending tightens and foreign investment becomes harder to get.

According to the Real Estate Institute (REINZ), sales of dairy farms nationally tumbled 55 per cent in the three months to November on the same period in 2018, and 83 per cent on 2017.

Dairy farm prices slid 22 per cent, from $50,964 per hectare to $39,678 per hectare.

Lincoln University farm management professor and commentator Keith Woodford told RNZ that while other types of farms such as grazing or horticulture were holding their own, dairying had suffered, despite improving milk prices. . . 

Border collie saves flock of sheep from wall of fire in Australia: –  Joe Roberts:

A hero border collie has saved a flock of sheep as a wall of fire destroyed farmland in Australia.

Patsy the six-year-old working dog rounded the sheep up with a farmer as the flames bore down on them in the rural town of Corryong in Victoria.

She brought them to the safest paddock on the farm as her owner fought the fire in a tractor with a tank of water.

Thanks to Patsy and her owner, almost all of the sheep were saved, along with the hay bales, silage, shearing shed, and farm houses. . .

‘Mycoplasma bovis’ challenges faced – Laura Smith:

‘‘One of the greatest biosecurity challenges we’ve ever faced’’ — Mycoplasma bovis continues to affect farmers but the Ministry for Primary Industries is confident eradication of the disease can be achieved.

Southland farm owners Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft had 1700 cattle culled in 2018 after Mycoplasma bovis was discovered on their farm.

Since then they were declared disease-free, but are now awaiting results after tests on cows at one of their three cattle farms.

The bovine disease Mycoplasma bovis can cause mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. More than 130,700 cattle have been culled nationwide because of it. . . 

Fonterra rationalises in Chile – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra is buying the minority interests in its Chilean processing partner, Prolesur, to streamline its businesses and give it more options for the future.

Among the options could be an exit from the dairy industry in Chile after several decades of New Zealand involvement, firstly by the Dairy Board in 1986.

Fonterra has agreed to buy 13.6% of Prolesur for NZ$29.3 million from Fundacion Isabel Aninat, a church-owned charity. . . 

Remote island farm on market – Richard Rennie:

A long-held family property on Great Barrier Island offers the chance to own the last piece of land before Chile.

It includes private beaches and an historic grave site for shipwreck victims.

The Mabey family has farmed the 195ha property at the island’s northern end for almost a century and has decided to put the farm on the market as a bare block. 

The land is farmed by Scott Mabey who said he anticipates a buyer will be most interested in building a dream home on one of the farm’s many elevated positions. . . 

The beef farmer eats a plant patty – Uptown Farms:

Well… we did it. We were in a hip little craft beer joint in Nashville, saw the Impossible burger on the menu, and ordered one.

Of course they wanted to send it out with a fresh baked bun, cheese and all the sauces.

But we passed on all of that so we could really get an idea what all the fuss was about. Here’s what we decided:

🌱 It is better with ranch. Matt jokes, “What vegetable isn’t?” (His jokes are getting worse the older he gets.) . . 


Rural round-up

04/01/2014

MP: Tractor protest well worth it – Sue O’Dowd:

The retiring politician who once drove a tractor up the steps of Parliament would do it all again.

Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern famously gunned the tractor called Myrtle up Parliament’s steps in a 2003 protest against the Labour Government’s proposed flatulence tax on ruminants. It was later described as the single most effective protest in scuttling what was deemed an idiotic proposal.

Today Ardern is still incensed the Government sacked eminent ruminant scientists conducting research into harnessing methane emission to improve production, even as it was proposing to tax those emissions.

“The scientists were working on something that would potentially overcome the problem, but the Labour Government sacked them because it wanted to introduce a tax on the productive sector that drives the economy of New Zealand.

“It was a lie and it still is a lie. [The proposed tax] was nothing to do with environmental problems. It was about getting extra revenue from the productive sector and it was about wealth redistribution. . .

Fonterra scare could have been prevented– Catherine Harris:

The botched Fonterra botulism scare in August last year might have been prevented if an independent food safety centre had existed, a top toxicologist says.

Professor Ian Shaw, of the University of Canterbury, is among those to welcome the idea of a $5 million food safety centre, which was recommended last month by a government inquiry into New Zealand’s food safety systems.

Shaw, who has chaired a food safety body in the UK, said the Government’s proposal was “a bloody good idea”.

If there had been a food safety centre in place when the Fonterra scare occurred, the test results might have been known more quickly and the false alarm possibly avoided, he said. . .

Sheep injures man:

A man has been airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital with serious chest injuries after being ‘‘rammed’’ by a sheep on a farm north of Hunterville.

Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter pilot Lance Burns said the man did not appear to have been trampled but had obviously been headbutted relatively hard by the sheep.

It was thought he was in a pen with the sheep at the time of the incident.

He stabilised by St John paramedics on board the rescue helicopter and arrived at Palmerston North Hospital in a serious condition. . .

DOC targets rats to help save struggling bats – Neil Ratley:

The Department of Conservation is going in to bat for a critically endangered mammal species in Fiordland.

A low count of long-tailed bats in the Kepler Mountains is prompting DOC to design and undertake rat control to protect the rare species.

The rat control will emulate that undertaken by DOC in the Eglington Valley, the only other known long-tailed bat habitat in Fiordland.

There was excitement surrounding the discovery of the long-tailed bat colony near the Kepler track in December 2011, with DOC staff estimating the population was close to 70. . .

The Myth About Seed Choice – Foodie Farmer:

I recently had a twitter conversation on a topic that seemed to perpetuate an urban myth – that farmers do not have a choice when it comes to planting seed or that seed companies “impose” their seeds on farmers, as if it is a dictatorship… Last time I checked, America was a pretty free country. Most people are able to make choices on what they buy at the store… So why would that be different for farmers?

As a family farm, we grow both GMO (we don’t actually use this term but for the sake of this blog, am using it for the reader for whom it may be a descriptor) and non-GMO crops and choose our seed produced from a variety of different seed companies, buying directly from our neighbors, which frankly, is the whole point of the fabric of rural America. We support one another. . .

Donkey meat contamination scare in China’s Walmart – Horsetalk:

Several Walmart outlets in China have withdrawn “five-spice donkey meat” after tests revealed the presence of fox meat.

The company is helping authorities in eastern Shandong province investigate the Chinese supplier.

Walmart confirmed it found traces of DNA from animals other than donkey after testing the product. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration had been reported as saying the product contained fox meat. . .


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