Rural round-up

May 25, 2014

Wishing won’t make it happen – Allan Barber:

Southland Regional Council chair, Ali Timms, hopes the government will take on board her warning about the effect of the red meat sector’s continued decline on water quality and increased nitrogen levels.

It’s an understandable message from a regional councillor, given the impact on a region’s land uses and water resources. But it’s no different from the message being promoted by Meat Industry Excellence group and sheep and beef farmers in general, except for the focus on water quality.

Wringing the hands and wishing won’t make a blind bit of difference. Minister of Agriculture Nathan Guy has repeated his position which reflects exactly what the Prime Minister told the Red Meat Sector Conference last year: if the meat industry as a whole can agree on a restructuring plan, the government will support it. Otherwise it won’t interfere to provide a legislative remedy to a commercial problem, nor should it. . .

Creating value aim of deer industry strategy – Sally Rae:

After joining Deer Industry New Zealand eight months ago as its new chief executive, Dan Coup learnt ”pretty quickly” that confidence among producers was generally at a low ebb.

He arrived at a time when farmers were frustrated at the state of profitability, particularly in venison, and were determined that things needed to change.

Addressing the deer industry conference in Methven this week, Mr Coup said that was well understood by Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) which was taking up the challenge. . . .

 

Big grants for Kiwi animal to human disease scientists:

A group of scientists including some from Massey and Otago Universities has been given grants worth $8.8 million to study infectious diseases spread from animals to humans.

The coalition of researchers working in northern Tanzania has won three grants to study zoonotic infectious diseases among poor livestock keepers.
Professor John Crump, the McKinlay Professor of Global Health and co-director of the Otago University Centre for International Health, is involved in all three projects.Massey researchers who are internationally leading experts in food safety and meat production will play a key role in one that focuses on foodborne disease spread risk during the transition from subsistence to commercial livestock production.The overall programme, Zoonoses in Emerging Livestock Systems’ (ZELS), is funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and UK Department for International Development (DfID) and seeks to improve the health of poor farmers and their livestock through integrated human, animal and environmental health research, an approach often referred to as One Health. . . .

Irrigators mull options for upgrade – David Bruce:

Farmers between Duntroon and Kurow are considering plans to upgrade their irrigation schemes and preliminary estimates for the work range from almost $30 million to $53.6 million.

Two options for improving the schemes, potentially irrigating another 5597ha, have come out of a study undertaken by the Kurow-Duntroon Irrigation Co, Maerewhenua District Water Resource Co and Waitaki Independent Irrigators Inc, which collectively irrigate about 7700ha.

The Lower Waitaki south bank integrated irrigation study was prompted by requirements to upgrade schemes to renew resource consents, including conditions relating to the more efficient use of water. . .

Otago Highlanders help Fonterra:

Fonterra Milk for Schools celebrates one year in Otago today. To date, 8,135 school children from 100 schools across the region have participated in the programme.

The milestone is being marked with a celebration at Otago’s George Street Normal School where students were challenged to a ‘fastest folder competition’ by members of the Otago Highlanders Super Rugby team.

George Street Normal Principal, Rod Galloway, says the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme is providing nutrition that is beneficial to the children’s learning, and is also helping to teach them about the importance of recycling. . .

Milk for schools helps Asian children:

Kiwi kids drinking free school milk are helping Asian students learn by recycling the milk packs.

Fourteen million Fonterra Milk for Schools packs emptied by 170,000 New Zealand primary school children in the last year have been sent to Thailand and Malaysia where they are recycled into products including desks, paper, books and roof sheets.

At George Street Normal School in Dunedin yesterday children and Highlanders rugby team players took part in a fastest folder competition.

Principal Rod Galloway said as well as providing nutrition beneficial to the children’s learning the programme was teaching them about the importance of recycling. . .

 

 Think twice before bashing farmers and their practices – Lauren Purdy:

After offending farmers everywhere with their aggressive ad campaign claiming local-raised food is healthier and anything else is just plain bad, Chipotle is feeling the effects of what some would call Karma.

According to Gary Truitt, Chipotle has seen a shift downward in its stock shares recently, falling 7% to $495.92. The burrito giant also saw its proposed executive pay plan voted down by 77% of shareholders last Thursday. Since the plan was denied, the entire pay structure of higher level employees within the company will now be reviewed. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 23, 2014

Irrigator wins Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

IrrigationNZ congratulates Mark and Devon Slee on taking out the main prize at last night’s Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Mark is a board member of IrrigationNZ with an irrigated dairy farm in Ealing within Ashburton District employing 13 full time and two part time staff.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says Mark and Devon’s sustainable irrigation practices and investment in technology played a large part in their win.

“Mark and Devon are among our top performing irrigators because of their significant investment in technology and personal commitment to reducing their environmental footprint,” says Mr Curtis. . .

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of ‘No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw’,” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week. . .

Minister signs new conservation accord:

An accord between the newly established $100 million NEXT Foundation and the Government was signed in Nelson today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The NEXT Foundation is an incredible deed of generosity which has the potential to deliver huge steps forward for conservation in New Zealand. This Accord is about providing the right framework for DOC to partner with the Foundation and to ensure we maximise the conservation gains from this huge investment,” Dr Smith says.

“There are two key elements to the Accord. The first is in ensuring these funds go to new projects that are out and above the work the Government would have ordinarily done. The second is in providing a commitment that the conservation gains are maintained into the future. . . .

Ministers leading agribusiness delegation to South America:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are leading an agribusiness delegation to Chile and Colombia from 23-28 March.

“Latin America is a valued trading partner for New Zealand and a fast growing region,” says Mr Groser. 

“Our relationship with Chile is thriving with a high level of engagement in areas such as energy and environment, agriculture and education. They are encouraging New Zealand business to explore future investment opportunities and we hope to build on this.

“In Colombia we are aiming to build a greater understanding of the market, through a range of farm visits and meetings with local Ministers and authorities.” . . .

Arable research body sets strategy:

The Foundation for Arable Research has just launched its next three-year strategy, which aims to keep arable farming a good viable option for farmers.

Chief executive Nick Pyke says the key points include making sure they have the right people doing the research and having leading research that has the ability to make a difference for farmers.

He says arable farming is buoyant at the moment and they want that to continue. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 2): The Definition of a Family Farmer – Greg Peterson:

Chipotle’s videos depict today’s farmers as huge, industrial farmers, concerned not about ethics and animalwelfare, but motivated rather by greed and money. This could not be further from the truth!

There are over 2 million farmers in this country. Each of whom are working long hours, braving extreme weather, and tirelessly caring for land and livestock. How many of those farmers are family farmers? 96 percent of them, according to the USDA, including the farm I work on with my brothers, my parents and my sister. In fact, I’ve never actually met a farmer who isn’t a family farmer! Have you? I’m sure there are a few out there, but even then, do you really think a farm run by non-family members would operate any differently from those that are? . . .

Rural Women™ International Year of Family Farming Roadshow kicks off next week:

Four South Island towns will be celebrating the International Year of Family Farming next week, as the Rural Women NZ roadshow series gets underway. Three North Island events will follow in early April.

“Rural Women NZ has always backed families working on the land, and in the rural communities that surround them,” says Liz Evans, who is promoting the Rural Women NZ roadshow to be held in Marlborough’s Rai Valley on 30 March.

“For this reason, we were ‘first in’ to initiate a nationwide programme of events to support the UN International Year of Family Farming, a timely opportunity to celebrate the dedication and contribution of farming families, past, present and future.” . . .

Lick block increases lamb survival in triplet bearing ewes:

Significant improvements in lamb survival have been demonstrated by using Crystalyx blocks in a University of Auckland trial in Southland.

Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks were provided as a supplement to ewes from three weeks prior to lambing through to weaning and resulting in an 11% increase in lambs presented for docking, compared to the control flock.

Barry and Julie Crawford’s Rosebank Farm near Gore was the venue for the trial to determine the benefits of targeted supplementation on triplet bearing ewes. . . 

The Rosebank property is part of the FARMIQ programme. . .

Seed Industry Opens New Office in Templeton, Christchurch:

The New Zealand seed industry is pleased to announce the official opening of its new office in Templeton, Christchurch.

The opening on Wednesday was officiated by the Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, and attended by over 100 VIPs and guests including Kelvin Coe, the Mayor of Selwyn District.

“It’s a huge honour for our industry to have the Minister officiate and his acknowledgement of the vital importance of our sector to the wider primary industry,” says General Manager Thomas Chin. . .


Rural round-up

March 22, 2014

Chinese trade target sky-high – Hugh Stringleman:

Prime Minister John Key and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to aim for $30 billion of bi-lateral trade between New Zealand and China by 2020.

That would be an increase of 65% over the total of two-way trade last year, when NZ sold China almost $10b of exports, mostly from the primary sector, and imported $8.2b.

In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing they also agreed to modernise the free-trade agreement between the two countries.

“We have great confidence that the coming years will see trade between us increase at a very fast pace,” Key said. . .

No time to penny-pinch on TB – James Houghton:

Looking at the week that was, we have seen Fish & Game come out with a survey full of leading questions, three of our top agricultural science centers lose Government funding, and the Ministry for Primary Industries taking Fonterra to court. One might take that as a bad week, but this is a standard one for agriculture.

What is important to note is that we deal with a lot of negativity on a day-to-day basis and part of that is because we hold ourselves to a very high standard. However, looking at an average week you can get drowned in the negativity and lose sight of the bigger picture. All these things that are happening around us can seem like a blur of madness, some are but some things are for the big picture, for our children, and theirs.

Locally, we are dealing with the Waikato regional draft Annual Plan, which the council are looking to withdraw their direct funding from the national strategy of pest eradication. The National Pest Strategy, funded by the Animal Health Board, has been focusing on high-risk areas, such as Waikato, to rid the country of TB. The work is achieved by eradicating possums, with TB, from the province, and is spear headed by TB Free New Zealand and OSPRI. . .

The nitty gritty of the nitrate debate –   Lynda Murchison:

We are a part of the water quality discussion in some shape or form, and we get our information from many sources.  A major focus has been on nitrogen losses from farming. If nitrogen is one of the key ingredients in this national conversation, it ought to be explained beyond the notion that it is all about cows in streams.  The science can be complex and the explanations mind-boggling; here’s my simple geographer-farmer take on it.

Why should we care how nitrogen loss is managed? Farmers care because their future flexibility and thus viability is at stake, and like most New Zealanders they want a sustainable future that allows for agricultural growth whilst enjoying healthy waterways. The rest of the population should care because the flexibility and productivity of farming, our ability to feed the world, is what makes New Zealand tick.

Recently, the Ministry for Primary Industries revised their projections for earnings in the primary sector for the 2013-14 year, up another $4.9 billion to $36.5 billion. From that, the direct economic contribution farmers make to the Christchurch economy is estimated at $750 million per year, an impressive feat. One can only assume that contribution is even more significant in smaller provincial cities and towns. . .

Let’s Broadcast Rural New Zealand – Jamie Mackay:

It was the only option available but watching the excellent on-line live stream of the Golden Shears Open final was yet another salutary reminder of how  mainstream media in this country, most notably television, pays lip service to farming and rural New Zealand in general.

Country Calendar is an institution on New Zealand television, only bettered by Coronation Street for longevity. Heck, its most loved voice Frank Torley would probably give Ken Barlow a run for his money for length of tenure on the telly.  

I don’t wish to sound dismissive about the iconic Country Calendar because it is a rural flagship and rates well in its 7pm Saturday spot.  However, I would argue it’s a show designed more for townies than rural folk, as can be attested by the prevalence of quirky lifestyle stories it features.

But what Country Calendar does prove is there’s an appetite out there for television featuring rural New Zealand.  However, this message is not getting through the solid craniums (euphemism for thick skulls) of television programmers. . .

Homewood Run – Lashings of meat right way to eat -Alan Emmerson:

Those who have read my columns will know my philosophy of not getting to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

I can remember, as a relatively young journalist, of the panic over saturated fat, the health risks associated with eating meat and dairy products.

Back then the doomsayers were trying to convert the world to mung beans and the like, for the good of their health of course.

Fortunately few listened and we continued eating meat, butter, and cheese.

Now, according to an article in the New York Times, the myths have been dispelled. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)  – Greg Peterson:

Many have probably seen or heard about Chipotle’s commercial, “The Scarecrow” and their recent video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Chipotle claims these spots are shedding light on the “inhumane” and “unsustainable” nature of “industrial farming.” They try to use the videos to inform people of the perceived problems with the current food system, such as the difference between meat that is ethically raised and meat that isn’t. Their approach seems genuine and sincere at first and is attracting a lot of attention from consumers. I’m certain that Chipotle is doing a lot of positive things with their “food with integrity” approach and to be clear, I do agree with the general ideals Chipotle claims they are supporting:

  • The consumer does deserve healthy meat from humanely raised animals
  • The family farmer is who should be raising their food
  • Ethical behavior should be of greater concern than profit.

What I don’t agree with is Chipotle’s definitions of family farmers, humanely raised animals, and ethical behavior. . .


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