Rural round-up

19/11/2020

RCEP good for New Zealand:

New Zealand’s benefits from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are wider than just tariff relief, says ExportNZ.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard has welcomed the signing of the RCEP trade deal which formalises New Zealand’s trading terms with 14 Asia-Pacific countries.

“Having nearly a third of the world signed up to better trading rules is a great achievement,” Catherine Beard says.

“It will make exporting within the RCEP bloc, easier, faster and more profitable. . . 

Ahead of the game – Tony Benny:

Embracing technology to get an accurate picture of soil moisture in the variable soils on his two farms has allowed Canterbury dairy farmer Peter Schouten to maximise production at the same time as minimising his environmental footprint.

Schouten milks about 2200 cows on the two farms near West Eyreton, North Canterbury, relying on irrigation to grow pasture and crop to feed them.

“We were a little bit ahead of the game installing moisture metering because we saw some potential benefits in having that for ourselves.” he says. . . 

Love what you do, do it with love – Cheyenne Nicholson:

As Mark Twain said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is particularly true for a Matamata dairy farmer whose life may be hectic, but says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ask anyone who knows Catherine Newland and they’ll tell you the same thing, she loves being busy. With several different caps to switch between, and another being added to the mix in November with the arrival of her first child, Catherine says the key to juggling it all is making sure you’re doing things you enjoy.

“A lot of people would call what I do work. I don’t think of it like that. On the weekends when I’m out with my husband Rhys doing farm jobs it’s not work, it’s just us out there getting things done and enjoying ourselves. It won’t feel like a juggle if you’re enjoying what you’re doing,” she says. . .

It’s time for Fonterra to define the new path ahead – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has spent nearly three years stabilising its finances. The focus now has to be on finding the path ahead

It is now approaching three years since Theo Spierings’ departure from Fonterra was announced. The focus ever since has been getting Fonterra back into a stable financial situation.  When Spierings left, Fonterra was in big trouble with lots of stranded and unprofitable assets.

That stabilisation process will essentially be completed over the next 12 months. In what direction does Fonterra then head? . . 

Beef + Lamb Genetics launches beef programme:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics is launching a future-focused beef programme designed to generate more income for beef producers and the economy while protecting the environment.

Dan Brier, B+LNZ Genetic’s General Manager, says modelling has shown that through this programme, farmers can increase the beef industry’s income by $460 million while improving the environmental and social outcomes for their farms and communities.

The programme, which builds on previous work by B+LNZ Genetics such as the Beef Progeny Test, is the industry’s response to increasing demand for high quality food produced with a lower environmental footprint. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ proud to partner with Peter Gordon’s Homeland:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand are delighted to announce a partnership with Homeland – world-renowned chef Peter Gordon and his partner Alastair Carruthers’ new venture.

Best described as a food embassy, Homeland is a dining room, film studio, cooking school, food innovation hub and community space; with the goal of connecting food and people – and boosting trade.

Peter Gordon, who returned full time to New Zealand after spending 30 years in the UK, said he was grateful that the focus of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s support was on the community work.

“Central to Homeland’s mission is its work with communities. By embracing the many cultures that call Aotearoa home, we can learn and grow from its diversity and share that unique food knowledge with others. Beef + Lamb New Zealand saw that vision and we are thrilled their support can help Homeland in our ambitious community work.” . . 


Rural round-up

26/10/2020

GE bogged down by ambiguous rules – Richard Rennie:

Over a year after the Royal Society Te Aparangi report on genetic engineering called for an overhaul on regulations, New Zealand continues to lack a framework that can accommodate the rapidly advancing technology.

Dr David Penman, who was co-chair on the society’s investigating panel, told delegates at this year’s gene editing forum there was too much focus on the processes behind gene engineering (GE), rather than taking an outcome-based approach to what it could deliver.

“The regulation needs to be proportionate to the risk. For example, mutagenesis, using radiation to find gene mutations is not genetic engineering, but targeted gene editing is,” he said.

He says there also remained an enormous diversity of acts that scientists and researchers have to pick through when contemplating such technology.  . . 

Farmers must lead regen ag debate – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers risk having regenerative agriculture defined for them if they do not take ownership of the debate around its meaning.

Alpha Food Labs founder and co-chief executive Mike Lee says that could lead to an unfavourable definition forced on them and farmers losing control of the narrative.

Speaking at an NZX-Beef + Lamb NZ webinar on what regenerative agriculture meant for New Zealand, the US-based food strategist says the debate over what regenerative agriculture is must be a producer-led movement.

He says rather than thinking about the term, people should think about their mental framework around leaving the earth in a better way than when they got here. . . 

Tradie farmer living her dream – Cheyenne Nicholson:

A Waikato farmer is thriving on the challenge of a new dairying career alongside a successful lighting business. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.

OKOROIRE dairy farmer Laura Mitchell is all about tackling a challenge. And, growing a successful business during a pandemic is definitely that. Throw in a new career path in dairying and raising her three-year-old daughter Amber, and you could say Laura has her hands full.

The idea of being a farmer herself was never really on her radar despite always being drawn to the land and growing up on her parents dairy farm. At 16, she decided school wasn’t for her anymore and opted to leave and gain qualifications in a trade. . . 

Tales of the land girls shared at Maungati – Simon Edwards:

Among the crowd of more than 120 who travelled to Maungati, near Timaru, on Sunday to remember the World War II ‘land girls’ were two particularly special guests – Sadie Lietze (nee Stuart) and Daphne Attfield (nee Williams).

Now in their late 90s, the pair represented the last of the ranks of the New Zealand Women’s Land Service (WLS).  Like Joan Butland of Auckland, whose health didn’t permit her to make the trip south, they were among the more than 2,700 young women aged 17 to their early 20s – many of them from the cities – who in the 1940s kept farms and orchards going when men were called up to fight.  Their efforts were crucial in an era when New Zealand was still the offshore farm of Britain and locals as well as tens of thousands of American servicemen in the Pacific needed to be fed. . . 

Made with Care: Great cheese needs great milk:

With one and a half decades of experience in cheese making, Cathy Lang knows her stuff when it comes to cheese and is excited to be involved in NZ Trade and Enterprise’s international “Made with Care” campaign.

The campaign is designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand food and beverage products by demonstrating the care we take when we produce them.

Now more than ever, amid a global health pandemic, consumers are looking for safe, nutritious and premium quality food and beverage that is ethically produced and tastes good too. New Zealand’s combination of exceptional natural resources and experienced food producers, like Cathy, sets us apart and perfectly positions us to meet the needs of consumers. . . 

Can cattle grazing be good for the environment? – Eric Tegethoff:

 The ancient plains of Montana once hosted herds of animals that grazed the land. Now, cattle and other domesticated animals do that work.

According to former environmental lawyer and author Nicolette Hahn Niman, the planet actually is grazed far less than it used to be. Her book “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” explores the benefits of raising cattle and the positive effects it can have on the land – when it’s done correctly.

“Rather than so much attention being paid to the negative impacts of cattle when they’re poorly managed,” she said, “we should be focusing on the tremendous benefits of well-managed grazing.”

Cattle ranching has been criticized by some as contributing to climate change. However, Hahn Niman said, well-managed grazing can improve soil health and even help sequester carbon dioxide. She said it also can help keep water in the soil. . . 


Rural round-up

15/09/2020

Fears for harvest as seasonal workers locked out by Covid-19

Hawke’s Bay growers are facing a serious seasonal labour shortage as the reality of Covid-19 sinks in.

The horticulture and viticulture sectors in Hawke’s Bay need about 10,000 seasonal workers to work across the region starting from next month.

They expect there will be a significant shortfall of people for the upcoming season – which will affect harvest time the most.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said if the fruit was not picked, thousands of permanent jobs would be at risk. . . 

Green Party’s agricultural policy ignores basic science:

The Green Party’s agriculture policy is based on a mistaken understanding about the environmental impact of livestock farming FARM spokesman Robin Grieve said today

James Shaw attempted to justify his Party’s policy to price livestock emissions on his belief that livestock produce half New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. The science and the facts about ruminant methane emissions do not support that.

FARM was set up to present the facts about ruminant methane and the Green Party policy demonstrates how much the facts and the science of ruminant methane emissions are missing from the political debate about global warming. . . 

Farming passion through a lens – Cheyenne Nicholson:

A love of capturing a moment in time through the lens is helping a Manawatu farmer reach her goal of 50:50 sharemilking. Cheyenne Nicholsonreports.

Six years ago Renae Flett combined her love of farming with her love of photography to create her photography business Renae Flett Agri and Events Photography.

Her photos feature in farming magazines and agricultural marketing campaigns, and she has shot several weddings, maternity shoots and everything in between.

“I love to take photos of anything farming. I love farming. It’s my passion just like photography, so being able to combine the two makes me pretty lucky, (and) it’s all grown pretty organically,” she says. . . 

 

Fonterra targets community support where it’s needed most:

Fonterra is taking a new approach to how it provides nutrition to communities, to better reach those most in need across New Zealand.

CEO Miles Hurrell says, as a New Zealand farmer owned co-op, with employees spread right across regional New Zealand, Fonterra is part of many communities.

“We’ve taken a good look at what the country is facing into, particularly in the context of COVID-19, and asked if our current way of doing things is supporting the people who need it most.

“We can see there’s a need for us to expand our thinking and take a more holistic approach that reaches more people – which is why we’re making these changes,” says Mr Hurrell. . . 

New Zealand hemp industry set to generate Hemp $2 billion per annum and create 20,000 jobs:

A new report says a fully enabled hemp industry could generate $2 billion in income for New Zealand by 2030, while also creating thousands of new jobs.

Written by industry strategist Dr Nick Marsh, the report has prompted calls from the New Zealand Hemp Industries Association (NZHIA) for the government to take the shackles off this burgeoning ‘wellness’ industry.

“We are well behind other countries in our attitude to hemp,” says NZHIA Chair, Richard Barge. “Although it is non-psychoactive, many of our current laws treat it as though it is. This report highlights just how short sighted those laws are in economic terms, and how out of step New Zealand is with the rest of the world.” . . 

Lower North Island butchers sharpen up for competition:

Butchers from across the lower North Island sharpened their knives and cut their way through a two-hour competition in the regional stages of the 2020 Alto Young Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year competition.

It was a close call, but after a fierce competition Braham Pink from Evans Bacon Company in Gisborne placed first in the Alto Young Butcher of the Year category and Jacob Wells from New World Foxton, claimed first spot in the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year category.

This was the first regional competition in a national series to find New Zealand’s top butchers to compete in a Grand Final showdown in November. The lower North Island contestants put their boning, trimming, slicing and dicing skills to the test as they broke down a size 20 chicken, a whole pork leg, and a beef short loin into a display of value-added products. . . 

 


Rural round-up

14/07/2020

Urban spread: farmer accuses councils of economic vandalism – Tom Kitchin:

A small group of Hawke’s Bay landowners are fighting to ensure what’s described as “a cancerous” spread of urban development doesn’t destroy quality crop lands on the Heretaunga Plains.

Councils agree that something must be done, but say it’s not an overnight fix.

Most days for the past 25 years, Richard Gaddum has gone up into the hills on his cattle farm above Havelock North to take in the view.

It captures the vast plains with the hills and mountains beyond. . . 

Wool report: on ‘cusp of renaissance‘ – Sally Rae:

A wool working group has finally released its long-awaited report, saying it believes natural fibres are “on the cusp of a renaissance” and a new approach is needed.

The Wool Industry Project Action Group was established in 2018 to look at opportunities to improve returns for the beleaguered crossbred wool sector.

New Zealand was one of the world’s most significant producers of strong wool; it produced around 10% of global wool of all micron types and around 20% of the 500 million kg of strong wool produced globally, the report said.

But increased competition from synthetic fibres had reduced demand for strong wool and led to a long-term contraction of the sector. . . 

Action now needed for wool say industry leaders – Sally Rae:

National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests chairman Craig Smith says the big thing missing from the wool working group’s report is an action plan to deliver the recommendations.

Mr Smith, who is general manager of Devold Wool Direct, was part of the working group in the early stages when it was set up in 2018.

“We all know the wool industry is in a bloody tough space but we didn’t want it to be just another report.”

But the report that had been produced reiterated the industry was in a bad place, and something needed to be done about it — “and here’s a few ideas”, he said. . . 

Night Shift – Milk Truck Driver – Andrea Vance:

Throughout the night, a fleet of tankers is on the road collecting milk from all over the country. Meet a man behind the wheel of one of them.

In the silent, starless night, Darren Mason’s enormous truck thunders off the state highway and onto a country lane, churning up a cloud of dust.

Sleepy cows rise onto their knees in fright, frozen breath suspended in the chill air. A lone dog starts to bark somewhere in the distance. 

The tanker rolls into the yard, its headlights illuminating two huge stainless steel milk vats. . . 

Courgette shortage sees record high prices:

Courgette prices jumped 74 percent to an all-time high of $21.42 per kilo in June 2020, as imports from Queensland continued to be barred, Stats NZ said today.

Overall vegetable prices were up 7.6 percent in June, also influenced by seasonally higher prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and courgettes. These rises were offset by typical falls for winter crops including potatoes, onions, and carrots.

Both tomatoes and courgettes are more expensive than usual at this time of the year. . . 

The art of Michelle Clarke – Cheyenne Nicholson :

A Canterbury farmer who is a self-confessed creative type says it hasn’t been the easiest of roads turning a passion for art into a fully-fledged business but she has done just that and is drawing inspiration from rural life. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.

CANTERBURY farmer Michelle Clarke has trod a rather wobbly career path and even when she settled on art it very nearly didn’t happen. 

But now she has forged a successful art career that has grown her business, The Art of Michelle Clarke, into a full-time job. Her photographs and artwork grace the pages of magazines and walls all around the country and more recently she has turned her hand to writing and illustrating a children’s book. 

Michelle and husband Stephen Tuck manage on a 224-hectare dairy farm at Hororata where they milk 750 cows. . . 


Rural round-up

19/05/2020

Water storage more important than ever as economy recovers from COVID-19 – Irrigation NZ – James Fyfe:

Strategic water storage in key regions could play an important role in helping the country recover from COVID-19, says Irrigation New Zealand.

Many in the farming community were disappointed that last week’s Budget did not allocate any money specifically for water-related projects.

Although the primary sector did get a cash injection of almost $500 million, a large part of which went to fighting Mycoplasma bovis, as well as considerable investment in various schemes aimed at creating jobs in the industry, many questioned the lack of money for water storage.

The Budget came as Hawke’s Bay continues to struggle with one of the worst droughts in living memory. . . 

The missing socks – Cheyenne Nicholson:

New Zealand is home to an extraordinary number of entrepreneurs changing the world, making life easier and pushing the boundaries. In this series we meet dairy women who, along with being top-notch farmers, are entrepreneurs and business owners. They share the triumphs and challenges of starting and running a business and a farm. Cheyenne Nicholson caught up with Eva Botting.

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. 

And it was Phillip Botting’s need for new socks at Christmas 2018 and his wife Eva’s willingness to take the plunge into the business world that led to the creation of The Sock Agent. . .

Thanking New Zealand beekeepers on World Bee Day:

New Zealand honey bees will be giving their beekeepers a buzz of thanks this World Bee Day on Wednesday 20th May.

World Bee Day was established by the United Nations to raise awareness of the critical importance of bees, and other pollinators to the health of our planet and its people. While in many countries, bee populations are in decline: impacted by disease, pests, climate change and intensive agricultural practices, in New Zealand our honey bee population is healthy and continuing to grow.

Recent international research, based on data from the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation, found that New Zealand rated seventh in the world for bee population growth over a decade. . .

New speaker series reveals the good, the bad, and the opportunity in regenerative agriculture:

six-part online speaker series for farmers and growers will explore the nuts and bolts of regenerative agriculture (regen ag), from international trade opportunities in the wake of Covid-19 to how often animals should be moved when grazing.

Hosted by think-tank Pure Advantage and the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, the series authored and hosted by Alina Siegfried will provide insights into the benefits and costs of regen ag and the practicalities of changing systems while maintaining production on a working farm.

The series features Kiwi farmers and international experts, including Gary Hirshberg, Co-founder and former Chief Executive of Stonyfield Organics, the second largest organic dairy company in the world. Soil scientists and business leaders will explore the role of market mechanisms, funding models, soil science, systems-thinking, and community mental health. . . 

Frustrated farmers living on the edge :

THE SEARLE family can’t do too much more to streamline its dairy operation without access to affordable irrigation water.

The family, parents Geoff and Tracey along with sons Michael, 29, and Matt, 35, who farm just outside Barham in NSW, are on its second year of zero allocation and it is decimating a once thriving business.

“We have a pretty good dairy set up and we are just watching it dwindle away to dust,” Matt said.

He said the family has tried to make things work with minimal water and for the last two years a zero allocation. . .

It’s back to business at Level 2 for Ecowool:

New Zealand took a proactive response to the coronavirus, COVID-19, which meant that for a time, many businesses had to close their doors. However, with the changing of the alert levels, it’s business as usual for online sales of quality New Zealand-made products.

The Ecowool team is proud to be able to offer a variety of beautiful sheepskin, wool, natural, and knitwear products for customers around the world from their online store. These are carefully packaged following government guidelines, and then sent on their way. . . 


Rural round-up

03/02/2020

Worst time for virus – Neal Wallace:

Coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for meat processors, analysts say.

With no one dining out, Chinese cold storage facilities are flooded with product, AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said.

“From a New Zealand perspective the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“Large-scale buying for the Chinese New Year festivities meant processors’ inventories were well-stocked going into the outbreak. 

“A large portion of the Chinese workforce remains on leave too, further slowing down the movement of product.” . . 

Fighter for free trade will be sorely missed – Federated Farmers

Many farmers will remember Mike Moore as a man who rolled up his sleeves to fight for global trade liberalisation and making things better for New Zealanders in general.

“He was brimming with talent and positivity and wasn’t afraid to stick his neck out,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said. “Who can forget his tireless efforts to promote the lamb burger? He took quite a bit of stick for that but was ahead of his time in terms of creating markets for our products.”

For his roles with the World Trade Organisation and as our ambassador to the United States he was away from the home shores he loved, but he continued to strive for the interests of Kiwis. . .

Farmers encouraged to open their gates to connect with urban New Zealand:

Greg and Rachel Hart are opening their Mangarara Station gates on Open Farms Day (Sunday 1 March), and inviting urban Kiwis to learn about their how they farm first-hand.

The Hart family are on a mission to connect New Zealanders with what they eat, how they live, and back to the farm where it all begins.

Greg Hart says, “When we learned about Open Farms Day, it was a no-brainer for us.”

“We love sharing Mangarara Station and offering the farm as a place where people can connect back to the land.” . . .

Walking a mile in her gumboots – Cheyenne Nicholson :

Matamata farmer Ella Wharmby feels more at home in the back paddocks than shopping in the high street. Farming was not her first choice but fate had different ideas. She tells Cheyenne Nicholson how she found her calling.

As the saying goes, you can’t fully understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And if you swapped the shoes for gumboots, Waikato farmer Ella Wharmby could tell you a thing or two about that.  

Looking at her now, it is hard to believe that she had barely stepped foot on a farm before embarking on a career that would see her combine her passion for food, animals and the outdoors. 

“Having not come from a farming background I now realise how far removed we’ve become from the food chain,” Ella says. . . 

Kiwigrowers to help pay for $18m Queensland fruit fly response:

Kiwifruit growers will fork out around a million dollars toward a year-long operation to eradicate the Queensland fruit fly.

An $18 million biosecurity response in Auckland finished on Friday, with New Zealand declared once again free of the pest.

The total cost will mostly be covered by the government, but industry groups will also have to chip in. . . 

Rothesay Deer operation grew to take over entire farm – Toni Williams:

Rothesay Deer owner Donald Greig has been building up the genetics of his English and composite deer operation for more than three decades.

The farm, near Methven, is spread over three sites but the home block has been in the family for two generations.

The land the stag block is on is an extension of the original farm secured by his father, Tom Greig, following World War 2.

That land was part of a rehabilitation block for ex-servicemen to use for farming after the war. . .

 

Site builds under way at Southern Field Days near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

As trucks roll into the Southern Field Days site at Waimumu to start setting up the South Island’s largest agricultural trade fair, the event secretary has a lot on her plate.

There’s phone calls from exhibitors, a third reprint of 4000 day passes to organise, and a gale warning from the Metservice which may have slowed down progress on putting marquees up.

It’s still two weeks until the crowds begin to flock to Field Days, but the site was a hive of activity already. . . 


Rural round-up

17/11/2019

Under the sacred mountain

East Cape farmers Rob and Mary Andrews appreciate the opportunities they have been given by people who they have worked for in the past and they enjoy returning the favour to others, as Colin Williscroft discovered.

As the first place in the world to see the sun as it rises every day Mount Hikurangi is on a few bucket lists.

But few people venture to Pakihiroa Farms, about 20km inland from Ruatoria, where Rob and Mary Andrews live and work and which includes the mountain in its boundaries.

The farm is in an isolated spot in a part of the country that does not attract a lot of passing traffic, given it’s not on the way for most New Zealanders.  . . 

Busy gets busier – Cheyenne Nicholson:

An artificial insemination run is just one of many things a West Coast farmer has up her sleeve to generate extra income for the farm. Cheyenne Nicholson reports. 

RUNNING an Airbnb, milking 140 cows and raising two small children keep Hokitika 50:50 sharemilkers Thomas and Hannah Oats busy.

And if that isn’t enough, Hannah, in a bid expand her skills, to benefit their own business and generate some extra income has trained and qualified to become an artificial insemination technician. . . 

Cherry on top for station’s returns :

Twelve hectares of cherry trees planted in September at Mt Pisa Station, Central Otago complete the first stage of a $15.5 million cherry project by the horticultural investment firm Hortinvest.

Mt Pisa Station’s landowners, the MacMillan family, are among the investors who underwrote the planting. The sheep and beef business has set aside 80ha of prime pastoral land for the venture as it diversifies into horticulture.

The orchard will produce cherries for export from the summer of 2021-2022. . . 

Hort export figures challenged – Pam Tipa:

Horticulture’s export revenue growth is likely to be about 10% in the current financial year – not the 3.8% forecast by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Horticulture NZ (HortNZ) chief executive Mike Chapman says he doesn’t know where MPI got its figure in the Situation and Outlook report for Primary Industries.

Growth for horticulture was 13.7% in the year ended June 2019 in the September updated report. But it is forecast to be down to 3.8% in the current year.

HortNZ has asked how MPI arrived at that forecast because the report doesn’t say. . . 

Growth, exports recognised – Luisa Girao:

An Invercargill Blue River Dairy manager believes the company is changing the face of the New Zealand dairy industry and recent recognition adds support to such a view.

Earlier this week, the Southland-based company received awards for fastest-growing manufacturing business and fastest-growing exporter at the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards, held in Auckland, which ranks the country’s fastest-growing businesses.

The company was also announced as the fifth-fastest-growing business overall. . . 

People keep stealing hemp from US farms, thinking it’s weed – Jason Nark:

People see the serrated leaves and the fuzzy buds from afar, but it’s the familiar smell wafting over the field that seals the deal.

They pack a not-so-brilliant idea into their heads and scramble to yank the hardy plants right from the soil. Back home, they light up and sit sober in the smoke, writing off their heist as a bunch of dank weed.

Hemp resembles marijuana, its much more psychoactive cousin, in just about every way except one: It probably won’t get you high. People in the US state of Pennsylvania caught stealing hemp still haven’t figured that out. . . 


Rural round-up

16/02/2019

How this tiny New Zealand company is producing the best beef in the world – Katie Chang:

With wellness on the tips of everyone’s lips, seeking the best ingredients available – turns out, there’s truth to the adage “you are what you eat” – has never been a greater priority. While picking plum produce is fairly straightforward, making educated decisions about beef, unfortunately, isn’t so cut and dry. And here in the United States – where the average American was expected to down over a record-breaking 222 pounds of meat (including beef) in 2018 – it can be downright confusing.

Need proof? Head to the produce aisle of your favorite grocery store, pick up any vegetable or fruit, and look for its sticker. . . 

Are social media influences hurting our Ag industry? – Cheyenne Nicholson:

My guilty pleasure in life is watching mummy vloggers on YouTube. I’m a big fan of mum hacks, cleaning hacks and watching strangers go on lavish holiday. In the days when I first met hubby I could also occasionally be snapped watching a makeup tutorial or two as well.

On Monday morning while the babe was asleep and I was enjoying my morning coffee I clicked onto the latest video of one of my favorite mummy vloggers. All was well. Until she said “I still give my daughter (who is 1) formula because I’ve heard cows milk has pus and blood in it and I’m not sure what to do.” . .

Close calls spur farmer into action – Sean Nugent:

The view from Roys Peak is something special, but it is becoming ”dangerous” for visitors to experience it, the landowner says.

The track’s 100-space car park, barely a year old since being upgraded in late 2017, is bursting at the seams.

Each day it bulges and spills out on to the narrow Mt Aspiring Rd, and even the neighbouring farmland.

Department of Conservation senior ranger Annette Grieve said 83,296 people used the track last year, including an average of 480 daily visitors in December.

While the obvious solution to the parking woes would be to expand, Ms Grieve said there was no public conservation land left next to the car park to do so.

At least not now. . . 

Retiring Young Farmer contest  board members leave impressive legacy :

Two long-serving members of the board overseeing the FMG Young Farmer of the Year are set to retire.

Cole Groves, 32, and Dean Rabbidge, 33, will step down from the NZ Young Farmers Contest Board in July.

The pair first joined the committee in 2014, and both have a long history with the national agri-business contest. . . .

 

America can’t move its cheese – Lauren Justice:

Cheese, which has a limited shelf-life, is less valuable once it spends weeks in cold-storage, and producers are concerned that the glut and price drop that has come with it could eat into profits. Spot market prices for 40-pound blocks of cheddar fell around 25% this year from 2014 prices, while 500-pound barrels typically used for processed cheese declined 28%.

Cheese exports have suffered since Mexico and China, major dairy buyers, instituted retaliatory tariffs on U.S. cheese and whey. Cheese shipments to Mexico in September were down more than 10% annually, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council trade group, and shipments to China were down 63% annually. . .

Rapid gene cloning technique to transform crop disease protection  :

Researchers have pioneered a new method which allows them to rapidly recruit disease resistance genes from wild plants and transfer them into domestic crops.

The technique called AgRenSeq or speed cloning has been developed by John Innes Centre researchers alongside colleagues in the United States and Australia to speed up the fight against pathogens that threaten food crops worldwide.

It enables researchers to search a genetic “library” of resistance genes discovered in wild relatives of modern crops so they can rapidly identify sequences associated with disease fighting capability. . .


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