Rural round-up

February 14, 2018

Disease leaves pair with nothing – Annette Scott:

In early June last year all was looking rosy for South Canterbury contract milkers Mary and Sarel Potgieter.

By the end of July their lives had been turned upside down and their dairy business was on a rapid downward spiral because of their honesty over Mycoplasma bovis.

Now the self-described Mb founders are in two minds over the call they made to the Ministry for Primary Industries to report untreatable mastitis in their dairy herd.

“We first noticed a problem in early June. By the end of June we had 162 cows showing signs and the vet was flabbergasted,” Mary said.

“By mid-July we had tried everything. We had done tests and milk samples, nothing could be cultured – it was not normal mastitis. . . 

QEII National Trust defending protected land:

QEII National Trust are in the Supreme Court today defending the intentions of the original landowner to protect 400 ha of Coromandel forest land forever against someone who wishes to overturn covenant protection to develop a property for commercial purposes.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “covenants are protected for the benefit of current and future generations because of the vision of the original owner who loved the land and wanted to protect it. Individually and collectively covenants represent a huge legacy to the country.” 

Grumblings on the grapevine – are seasonal workers treated well in NZ? – Johnny Blades:

You see them in small groups, often two or three, walking along Blenheim’s roadsides to the big supermarkets.

Young men from the Pacific Island archipelago of Vanuatu, they stand out in a New Zealand region not known for its multi-culturalism.

But here in grape country, Marlborough, ni-Vanuatu are the driving force behind New Zealand’s growing wine industry.

There are over 4000 ni-Vanuatu, or ni-Vans as they’re known, doing seasonal work this year under New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme  . . .

Women’s group seeks new head – Annette Scott:

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers has called time on the organisation she has helped to grow over the past four years.

De Villiers had solidified the organisation’s systems, structures and reputation in the industry, chairwoman Cathy Brown said.

Her commercial and financial expertise had led the not-for-profit organisation into a strong position.

“We have also grown our membership significantly during her tenure. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Andy Fox – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five:  Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Proud Farmer Andy Fox.
How long have you been farming?

Having been brought up on a farm, I was keen from an early age to go farming. Besides working as a builder, a mechanic, a period on my OE and Uni I have farmed all my life.  Since about 2000, I have farmed only a proportion of the time which allows me time to sit on agricultural boards, contribute to other industry good activities and to undertake volunteer work.

   What sort of farming are you involved in?

I am the 4th generation on “Foxdown” in the Scargill Valley, North Canterbury. We are a sheep and beef protein producer on a dry-land hard hill property. We aim to produce the best base ingredient for a quality eating experience, while maintaining the farm in a way that makes this production sustainable and improves the state of the land for the future. We also have approximately 400 visitors a year to the farm museum and a walking track that is a 4 hour return walk to the top of the farm, Mt Alexander. . . 

Chattan Farm:

Chattan Farm is situated in an idyllic locale approximately 40 minutes south west of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand’s North Island.

Owners Tim and Jo Mackintosh, along with their children Alice and George, run a livestock operation along with a number of diverse businesses from their 680 hectare farm. Sheep and beef production is the cornerstone of the Chattan Farm operations, where they produce up to 5000 stock units a year of Romney, East Friesian and Texel sheep along with Angus cattle. Along with these stock numbers Tim says they also graze dairy heifers.

“We generally grow out around 400 head of heifer stock from the age of four months through to 18 months,” Tim said. . . 

New fund to help sustainable farming school at Waipaoa:

The trustees have established the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust (WSFCTT) Endowment Fund at the Sunrise Foundation to help build long term financial stability into the organisation.

Ken Shaw, WSFCTT Chair, says although they have been operating for ten years and are pleased with the progress they have made, a reliable ongoing source of revenue is their biggest challenge.

“We are lucky to have had the generous support of many individuals and organisations in the agricultural industry, which has helped us build Waipaoa into the success it now is. Even so we have to secure our sponsorship every year, and we know we can’t rely on the same people and organisations to keep giving year on year.” . . 

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Rural round-up

September 12, 2017

Every New Zealand has benefited from farming let’s not get divided – Alan Wills:

A couple of generations ago most New Zealanders had either come off a farm, had relations who were farming or knew people on the land.

We were a farming nation.

Everyone, including successive governments, understood this great country of ours was built on farming. Somehow this narrative has been lost over a relatively short period of time.

With diversification of our economy, urbanisation of our people, immigration and for a whole host of other reasons, farmers are now almost public enemy number one in the minds of some folk.

Certain political and environment groups are milking (no pun intended) that notion for all it’s worth. . . 

Rural-urban divide ‘encouraged’ by water tax policies – farmer – Alexa Cook:

Many political parties are using farmers as an easy target for emotive policies that appeal to urban people, a South Canterbury farmer says.

In the lead up to the election, RNZ Rural News is talking to farmers across New Zealand about what they think of the policies that have been put on the table.

Farming and environmental issues have been hot topics in the election lead up.

South Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Mark Adams, who is also the Federated Farmers president for the region, said farmers feel unfairly targeted. . .

Luddites are undermining society’s self confidence – Doug Edmeades:

 “Damn the dam,” I thought. This news from the Hawke’s Bay had me scurrying to my history books. Luddites, that’s what they are, these dam-stoppers. A bunch of thoughtless technophobes with an irrational fear of the future – “Stop the world I wanna get off.”

Luddites take their name from an early 19th century chap, probably mythical, called Ned Ludd. They were weavers whose skills were made redundant by the machines of the industrial revolution. They became activists and went on the rampage, smashing the new machinery that did their work better and at less cost.

From this experience an ideology has developed that believes progress is bad for society and probably the work of the devil. Today, Luddite simply means to be against technology. The Amish of the Midwest of America are Luddites when it comes to the internal combustion engine. . . 

Progress in high country issue: DOC – Sally Rae:

Progress is being made collectively to address the challenges in the high country, Department of Conservation partnerships manager Jeremy Severinsen says.

His comments followed a scathing attack on Doc by retired high country farmer Tim Scurr, now living in Wanaka, who said the high country had to be restored and replanted urgently.

Mr Scurr said he had grown up admiring the mountain tops of the high country “and all that they provide”, particularly water.

But management of those mountain tops had “fallen into the wrong people’s hands”.  They did not understand a balance of what was needed for sustainable land. Snow tussock  held snow back, shading and protecting, keeping the snow as long into the summer dry as conditions allowed, Mr Scurr said. . . 

2050 birdsong worth the wait – Mark Story:

It goes without saying that all that glitters, at this pre-election juncture, is not gold.

However, every time a public official suit mentions the initiative “Predator Free 2050” I get a warm feeling in the belly.

The traditional voter cornerstones of health, wealth and education seem to drift off into the ether when I sit and watch the kereru pair that this time each year feed silently in the plum tree at the dining room window.

The green-cloaked couple, dangerously oblivious to the threat my species poses, let me get to within a metre before branch hopping to a safer distance.

It’s true. The predator free goal is perhaps a tad aspirational. Many say it’s more about predator suppression than outright eradication. That could well be the reality. But I’m still excited by the push. . . 

Blame not all ours – farmers – Rebecca Nadge:

“It’s upsetting for farmers. We feel there’s a big divide between town and country – how did it get to this?” Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson lamented.

In response to Labour’s proposed water tax, Mr Paterson posted a video online challenging farmers around the country to test the water quality of streams on their properties. He said farmers were being unfairly blamed for poor water quality, but townspeople needed to take responsibility, too. . .

More offal to be processed:

Alliance Group is spending $1.7million at its Pukeuri and Lorneville plants in a bid to capture more value from its products.

The investment would improve the recovery of offal at Pukeuri,  with an upgrade of the beef pet food area and a new facility created to help boost the recovery of blood-based products for sale to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

The blood products were used in the development of vaccines, cancer treatments and drugs to treat neurodegenerative, haematological and endocrine disorders. . . 

Tea-strainers help fight ‘Battle for Banded Rail’ – Kate Guthrie:

Tracey Murray, Trapping Field Officer for ‘Battle for the Banded Rail’  recently bought 150 mesh tea-strainers online, importing them from a manufacturer in China. So what does anyone do with 150 mesh tea-strainers?

Tracey handed them out to her volunteer trappers at a recent ‘Trapping Workshop’ get-together – and not because her volunteers enjoy a good ‘cuppa’.

“You put the bait inside the tea-strainer,” Tracey explains. “We aren’t targeting mice but mice have been taking our bait and don’t set off the trap. The mesh stops the mice getting it so we don’t have to keep replenishing it as often Using the mesh strainers also prevents wasps eating the baits over the summer months when they are also a problem.” . . 

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year nominations open 11 September:

Dairy Women’s Network is putting the call out for the next inspiring industry leader. Nominations open for the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award on 11 September.

This is the seventh year for the prestigious award which celebrates the outstanding leadership of women in the business of dairy.

Dairy Women’s Network chair Cathy Brown says the network has a proud history of celebrating the success of women and leadership in the dairy industry. . .


Rural round-up

October 25, 2016

Golden harvest from Fiordland farm – Sally Rae:

Growing saffron and Fiordland might sound an unlikely combination.

But Te Anau couple Steve and Jo Daley have big plans for their fledgling organic operation with an ambitious goal of becoming world-renowned for the costly spice.

“It’s just so damn exciting, the product, and people are so interested in what we’re doing,” Mr Daley said.

Mr and Mrs Daley have 1.5million crocus corms on their property and their intention is to  increase that  to 50million, which would make them the biggest saffron producers in New Zealand.

With a day job as a fencing contractor, Mr Daley, while stationed behind the post driver, got thinking about other ways to make a living.  . . 

Sand and milk: Dairy farming in the desert – Sally Rae:

For Clayton Buckley, the past 12 years working for Almarai — the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company — have been quite an experience.

Suffice to say, it was ‘‘not like farming here’’, he said during a recent visit home. 

Mr Buckley (35) was brought up in North Canterbury, where his father Russ was a ‘‘part-time’’ deer farmer.

He used to head south during school holidays to stay with his aunt and uncle Gail and Trevor Meikle and help on their farm, near Oamaru.

He enjoyed it so much that when he was about nine, he announced to his parents he was going to buy Mr and Mrs Meikle’s farm, he recalled. . . 

Quad bike deaths at record high – Catherine Hutton:

The number of deaths from quad bike accidents has reached a record annual high of 14, and an agriculture expert says the rate is predicted to rise.

A quad bike accident in Taupō on Saturday night left one person dead and another with moderate injuries, bringing the number of deaths from quad bikes this year to 14, a record for a single year.

The former director of Lincoln University’s Telford campus, Charley Lamb, said the deaths were occurring as a result of crush injuries, which research showed roll bars would prevent.

“Very few bikes have roll over protection, which of course they should do. Whether people want to debate that and argue that, they can. But they used to do the same about safety frames on tractors and they did the same about seatbelts in cars.” . . 

DIRA changes don’t go far enough – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra has criticised proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act as not going far enough because they continue to impose constraints on the co-operative that help its competitors.  

The proposed changes to DIRA announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy provided a mixed bag for Fonterra which its Farm Source chief operating officer Miles Hurrell labelled a “lost opportunity to address artificial constraints”.  

While an end was in sight for the requirement to sell milk to its largest competitors, Hurrell said Fonterra was still obligated to accept and process all milk produced which meant shareholders having to invest in stainless steel. . . 

Age ousts three directors – Sally Rae:

Three directors, including founder and chairman Graham Cooney, have stepped down from the board of Blue Sky Meats due to an age-related clause in the company’s constitution.

A letter sent to suppliers of the Southland-based meat company this week, signed by chairman Scott O’Donnell and directors Peter Carnahan and Andy Lowe, said Mr Cooney, Peter Houlker and Malcolm McMillan were unable to continue as the constitution precluded any individual from being a director once they reached 65. . . 

Don’t blame staff – Annette Scott:

Agri businesses are bad at attracting the right staff rather than being victims of a shortage of skilled and experienced people, Synlait Milk chief executive John Penno says.  

“Effectively, I’m saying our primary industry business models are not strong enough to compete for the right people.  

“We need leaders growing up in our businesses and we need businesses growing these leaders.”  Penno focused on the challenges of knowledge and skills for land-based industries towards 2030, in a presentation to an Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum.  

“This really made me think,” Penno said. . . 

A changing of the guard for DWN:

Dairy Women’s Network has a new skipper at the helm after today’s AGM, with incumbent chair Justine Kidd stepping down and Cathy Brown of Pahoia being warmly welcomed into the role.

A crowd of about 60 DWN members, staff and sponsors gathered at Wintec in Hamilton today to celebrate another successful year for the 9000-strong not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting and inspiring women to succeed in the business of dairying.

Brown has been involved with DWN since the late 90s, first hearing about the organisation when she worked at CRV Ambreed. She quickly became a member of what was at that point a largely internet based network and attended the organisation’s first conference in 2001. . . 


Cathy Brown (left) with Justine Kidd.

‘Good dog’ makes dog training easier – Anna Holland:

Two words I find invaluable when training dogs are “good dog”.

The secret to their effectiveness is understanding, timing and correct usage; overuse them and their power is lost.

Not only do you need to understand when and how to use “good dog”, but the dog needs to understand the meaning. I once commented to someone, “You never say ‘good dog’.” And the next thing he was like a stuck record with the words; the trouble is he may as well have been speaking a foreign language because the words had no meaning for his dogs. . . 


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