Rural round-up

27/09/2021

Access barrier for farmer mental health

A new initiative has been launched to improve access to counselling for farmers.

However, the founder of the charity behind it says accessibility is one of the main barriers for farmers seeking mental health assistance.

The Will to Live Charitable Trust’s ‘Rural- Change’ initiative will see farmers jump the sometimes eight-week queue to access three free private counselling sessions.

The initiative was launched in early September and Will to Live founder Elle Perriam told Rural News that they’d already had 15 farmers sign up. . . 

SWAG focused on the long game – Annette Scott:

The group tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool sector out of the doldrums is on track to deliver.

With a 12-month contract and a $3.5 million dollar budget, the Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) is working on leaving a legacy of a more connected and coordinated forward-looking, consumer-focused wool sector, embracing its place within the natural world.

The group is scheduled to sign-off at the end of this year and chair Rob Hewett is confident it is on track to deliver.

“We will make the grade, it’s a long game, but we are positioning sound opportunities to realise and commercialise several projects and who we are going to do this with,” Hewett said. . . 

Double-muscled sheep breed offers meaty gains -Country Life:

Beltex ram lambs are making farmers around the country lick their chops. Known for its heavy hindquarters and excellent kill weights, the breed is the sheep industry’s new kid on the butcher’s block.

A cross of Belgian and Texel sheep, the Beltex is used primarily for mating with ewes to produce lambs for meat.

Blair Gallagher and his son Hamish run New Zealand’s first Beltex stud at the family’s breeding and finishing property near Mount Somers.

Currently lambing’s in full swing on the scenic hill country farm. . . 

New Zealand red meat sector welcomes Chinese Taipei’s CPTPP membership application:

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) welcome Chinese Taipei’s formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ said the CPTPP was founded with a vision for regional agreement that provided for the accession of new members. Chinese Taipei’s application demonstrates the value of the agreement and its relevance to economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Chinese Taipei has been a longstanding and valuable market for New Zealand red meat products. Trade with Chinese Taipei was worth over $314 million in 2020, with trade in beef products worth over $170 million alone. This means that trade has almost doubled since the signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) in 2013.

“Like all other economies wishing to accede to the CPTPP, Chinese Taipei will need to demonstrate its commitment to the high standards contained in the CPTPP, and with a high-quality deal already in place with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei has demonstrated its commitment to trade liberalisation. . . 

Homegrown talent to tackle pesky pests :

Six of New Zealand’s young minds are setting out to revolutionise pest management, helping efforts to eradicate pests, possums, stoats and rats from New Zealand by 2050.

Supported by Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) and $2.4 million in Jobs for Nature funding, the post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers from University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, and University of Otago will be researching topics as diverse as genetics, biocontrol, audio lures, and social licence.

“Our work is certainly ambitious, but is a critical step to secure New Zealand’s biodiversity. Despite decades of valuable and dedicated conservation efforts, step-changes are needed to achieve our goals. And to achieve those step-changes, New Zealand needs new science talent to drive the cutting edge research needed,” says PF2050 Ltd science director Dan Tompkins.

Tompkins says the programme has garnered international attention with regards to whether its goal can be achieved. . .

The future of Fonterra in Australia – Marian Macdonald:

Australian milk might be some of the best in the world but, Fonterra Australia’s managing director says, it’s not New Zealand milk.

The result is that a chunk of the local business is being put up for sale, with strings attached.

In statements this morning, the giant NZ cooperative announced that it was placing “a greater focus on our New Zealand milk”.

Asked what that meant, Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker said Fonterra had made clear choices around New Zealand milk and would be directing capital towards leveraging its provenance. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/09/2021

How dairy farmers can look after their mental health during lockdown – Sam Owen:

Dairy farmers may be essential workers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “business as usual” when it comes to mental health during lockdown. Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen offers practical advice on how to look after family, friends, staff and yourself.

Murphy’s Law – after dodging a bit of a bullet in 2020, Covid has now reared its ugly head during one of the busiest times on farm.

Luckily, there are so many ways we can look after not only ourselves, but our staff and others in our rural communities as well.

We all know that keeping good mental health during the spring period is critical. But what does that actually look like in practice? . . 

Keep in contact with each other’ – Peter Burke:

Keep connecting. That’s the message to farmers from the chair of the Rural Support Trust, Neil Bateup.

He told Dairy News that since lockdown the trust probably haven’t had as many requests as they normally get, but the trust is still there to help.

He says because of the Covid lockdown they won’t go out to a farm unless it’s an emergency but people can still do things by phone.

An issue that has cropped up, and one that is hard to deal with, is when farm staff change jobs and problems arise. Bateup says the best they can do is refer individuals to MPI or Federated Farmers, who can help deal with contractual matters. . .

Escalating women leaders :

”To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why,’” says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Donna, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire.

Donna says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Lip Gloss and Gumboots:

While some people are attracted to the more solitary parts of a rural working life, many farming women seek out others going through the same experiences, according to Ravensdown shareholder Jo Hay.

“Farming can be a pretty lonely lifestyle. It’s important for women in agriculture to have a supportive group where they can discuss their experiences and bring their ideas to life.”

Jo Hay and husband Ross have operated a family sheep and beef farm in Herbert, 20 minutes south of Oamaru since 2006. Jo was a teacher in Oamaru for 6 years before returning to farm life after the birth of their first child.

That’s when she took part in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) “Understanding Your Farming Business” course. . .

Helping farmers find ‘aha’ moments – Alice Scott:

Helping farmers find their “aha moments” was Steven Nichol’s reason for choosing to step away from the day-to-day rigours of running his own farm and set up a farm consultancy business.

Mr Nichol grew up on the family farm at Clarks Junction and, in 2007, he was able to farm a portion of the family property as a stand-alone economic unit.

“I reflect back on those early years; all the things I wish I knew then that I know now. The thing that always used to bug me was finding ways to create a farming system that would produce consistently good results.”

A season could be impacted in many ways and Mr Nichol said it was learning how to measure those variables in order to make “proactive decisions” rather than “reactive moves”. . . 

‘It’s not the cow, it’s the how’: why a long-time vegetarian became beef’s biggest champion – Patrick Barkham:

Nicolette Hahn Niman was an environmental lawyer who became a cattle rancher, and didn’t eat meat for 33 years. For both the ecosystem and human health, she argues, it’s how animals are farmed that matters.

After refusing to eat meat for 33 years, Nicolette Hahn Niman bit tentatively into a beefburger two years ago. She had become a vegetarian because she was concerned about animal welfare and the environmental cost of meat. Unlike most vegetarians, she had experience of the dire conditions on factory farms during her career as an environmental lawyer campaigning against pollution caused by industrial meat production in the US. Then she married a farmer.

Hahn Niman’s journey from vegetarian activist to cattle rancher to writing a book called Defending Beef may be driven by love, but it is also informed by a lawyerly desire to stick up for small farmers besieged by the growing ethical and environmental clamour against meat. The burger turned out to be an unexpectedly delicious brief pleasure, but it was the 18 years working on the ranch alongside the man who grilled it – and raised the cow – her husband, Bill Niman, that inspired her. . . 


Rural round-up

19/08/2021

Howl organisers planning even bigger protest – Sally Rae:

Groundswell New Zealand says it is planning a “major nationwide protest event” in November, following a lack of response by the Government to its concerns.

Although a date was yet to be set and details of the event outlined, spokesman Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, said it would be “of a scale and impact that will be significant in New Zealand’s history”.

Last month, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what it says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, which was delivered at the protests, gave the Government a month to address the issues, or it would take further action. . . 

Farm dream from bullock wagon – Shawn McAvinue:

A dream to farm in North Otago began on a bullock wagon.

Ray Lawrence was a young boy when grandfather William began teaching him about stockmanship.

‘‘He was a natural — a great stockman.’’

As a teenager, William Lawrence ran bullock wagons between Dunedin and Oamaru and dreamed of farming in North Otago. . .

Southland farmer and his dog to represent NZ :

The trans-Tasman rivalry has reignited once again – this time in the search for the hardest working farm dog.

It’s the first time New Zealand has entered the Cobber Working Dog Challenge, which tracks how hard each canine works over the three-week competition using GPS collars.

One duo representing the country is Josh Tosh and Trix – from Dipton in Southland.

Tosh told Morning Report he has had Trix since she was just 8 weeks old and has trained her up to the hard working 3-and-a-half year old farm dog that she is now. . . 

 

Iwi, industry and government unified in stance to protect mānuka honey in Aotearoa New Zealand’s ‘Champagne Moment’

Iwi, Government and the Mānuka Honey Industry are unified in their stance to protect the term Mānuka for all New Zealanders following opposition to registration of the term MANUKA HONEY at a hearing at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on 18 August, 2021. “

The goal is to protect the term MANUKA HONEY internationally so that it may only be lawfully used on honey produced in Aotearoa. For Māori, this means that our reo is respected and a precious taonga (treasure) is being honoured and protected. For consumers, it means that they can trust they are getting genuine honey produced in New Zealand from our Mānuka trees. It also protects the industry, export earnings and jobs,” said Pita Tipene, Chair of the Mānuka Charitable Trust (MCT).

“There are some similarities to when wine producers everywhere started branding their sparkling wines as champagne, until the French took ownership. Now anything labelled Champagne must be from that region. For us it runs even deeper because Mānuka is our taonga (treasure) and our reo (language),” said Pita. . . 

Ravensdown invests in future as team focuses on farm environment planning:

Ravensdown is gearing up for the growing demand for farm environment planning and investing in future capabilities. This ongoing investment in future on-farm performance meant the co-operative was unable to meet the previous year’s record profit performance, however last year did end with a satisfying and strong profit of $53 million from continuing and discontinuing operations, before tax and rebate.

The co-operative returned a total of $33 million to its eligible farmer shareholders including $16 million paid as an early interim rebate in June.

“We were right to view 2020-21 with cautious optimism. Our strong result was based on great shareholder support, a hard-working team and an effective strategy,” said Ravensdown’s Chair John Henderson. “Our shipping joint venture and long-term relationships with reliable suppliers proved extremely valuable as the supply disruption resulting from the pandemic impacted so many other industries. Along with sustained focus on product availability, we will continue to invest in the science, technologies and services that can help the agsector thrive into the future,” added John. . . 

Local company secures rights for ground breaking fertiliser:

NZ Premium Health Ltd has been appointed the exclusive New Zealand distributor for Swift Grow, a 100% Australian Certified Organic fish-based fertiliser.

Swift Grow is produced in New South Wales by River Stone Fish Farms. The company’s founder, Genetics Engineer Joseph Ayoub, developed the product in response to what he saw as a diminished fertility of soils, both in domestic and commercial environments.

Ayoub has fond childhood memories of the delightful flavour and aroma of naturally-grown food. “But I noticed that this gradually diminished over time because of decades of intensive commercial farming practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


Rural round-up

02/12/2020

Talk is cheap:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered a ‘nice’ speech at last week’s Primary Industry Conference, organised and run by Federated Farmers.

Unfortunately, over the past term of government, the country has got used to the PM giving nice speeches, but not delivering much.

Housing, child poverty statistics and failing infrastructure are just three areas where Ardern talked a big game, but has delivered abysmally.

Let’s hope this stretch on the treasury benches is really her Government’s ‘term of delivery’. . . 

Low flow warning for La Niña summer :

For central and western parts of the lower South Island, a La Niña summer means drier conditions and a higher risk of drought.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) is encouraging irrigators and other water users to be mindful of these conditions as New Zealand enters a La Niña summer, characterised by warmer and drier conditions than usual.

ORC general manager regulatory Richard Saunders said people need to be responsible about their water use.

“Dry weather means less water in rivers and races, so anyone taking water needs to be mindful of their consent conditions and responsibilities and to actively monitor how much water they are taking. . . 

Making the primary sector sexy – Peter Burke:

There is a need to re-orientate New Zealanders into working in the primary sector, according to the director general of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Smith’s comments come as widespread concern is expressed, right across the agricultural sector – especially in horticulture, about the lack of people to harvest crops and work in various jobs.

He believes part of the problem is that the benefits of working in the primary sector haven’t been marketed as effectively as they could have been. Smith says while there are some tough-end jobs that don’t pay well, there are actually a huge number of highly-paid jobs in the sector and that will grow. . . 

Living Water – seven facts for seven years:In the seven years that Fonterra and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have been working together through Living Water, important advancements have been made to help regenerate New Zealand’s precious natural resources.

Launched in 2013, the 10-year partnership is focussed on finding game-changing and scalable solutions that will enable farming, freshwater and healthy ecosystems to thrive side-by-side.

What does that look like in practise? It means working alongside communities in five selected catchments to test different tools, approaches and ways of working that will help improve water quality and freshwater environments. . . 

Possum 1080 controls in Hawke’s Bay head to Māori land court:

The plaintiff in a court case – aiming block the use of 1080 to control possums blamed for the spread of Bovine tuberculosis in Hawke’s Bay – is denying science, the defence says.

Possums on the land, Tataraakina, have been blamed for the spread of Bovine tuberculosis into farms in the region.

Half of all New Zealand’s herds that have the disease are in this area.

Tataraakina is a 14,000-hectare block in inland Hawke’s Bay, near the highway between Napier and Taupō. . .. 

Grazing to improve soil health, producer profits – Kay Ledbetter:

Dr. Richard Teague might be considered a cowboy of a different kind. He’s not rounding up stray cattle, but rather wrangling the best management practices on ranches to help the cattle and their owners.

Teague, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research ecologist at Vernon, grew up on a farm and knows firsthand there are some unintended consequences from traditional long-standing agricultural practices that might not readily be seen.

“I’m an ecologist and know that for an adequately functioning ecosystem, you have to have good soil function,” Teague said. “Many things we do in industrial agriculture break down the function of soil. The ranchers and farmers we are working with have demonstrated how to increase productivity by improving soil health, manage for decreased inputs, improve the health of their cattle and increase profits.” . . 


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

12/08/2020

Leading by example – Gerald Piddock:

Being responsible to their land, animals, people and their community has earned a Hawke’s Bay couple the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. Gerald Piddock reports.

Being a responsible dairy farmer means more than just being industry role models to Nick and Nicky Dawson.

It involves working beyond the farm bubble in the wider community and nurturing the health of people, the environment and their animals.

“It’s all interconnected,” Nicky says. 

“It’s like a three-legged stool. You can’t have one without the other.” . . 

Time running out for ag contractors as spring approaches – Gerald Piddock:

October is looming as a crunch-month for agricultural contractors and dairy farmers as the scramble continues to find staff to drive machinery to plant summer feed crops and cut grass cut for silage.

Waikato Federated Farmers vice-president Ben Moore said there was huge concern that contractors would not have enough staff on the ground to meet demand from dairy farmers as border restrictions continue to prevent overseas farm machinery operators from entering the country to work this spring and summer.

The region was still recovering from last summer’s drought with feed reserves on many farms already low. 

Moore feared there could be a potential disaster if farmers are unable to get their summer supplementary feed supply organised and there was another very dry summer. . . 

Ag contractor training gearing up – Mark Daniel:

Agricultural contractors are warning about a severe shortage of skilled machinery operators for the upcoming harvest season.

The shortage is due to New Zealand’s closed borders, shutting out staff from overseas. In response, a number of training organisations are offering displaced local workers and jobseekers a basic grounding in the sector.

In the South Island, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is promoting its ‘An Introduction to Agricultural Contracting’ course – based at its Telford Campus, near Balclutha. This initiative was the result of SIT’s discussions with Rural Contractors NZ Ltd (RCNZ) and some key players in the contracting sector in Otago and Southland – who all wanted to do something positive to address the need for trained contracting staff. . .

Lake Hawea to host world ploughing championships

The world’s best exponents of the art of ploughing are coming to Lake Hawea, but not for quite a while.

An Upper Clutha group of ploughing enthusiasts announced on Saturday they had secured the 2028 world championships.

That means 60 of the best “ploughmen” from farming communities around world will load up their tractors and ploughs, ship them to New Zealand and carve out furrows across the flat paddocks south of the lake.

Organising committee chairman John Osborne said his committee had spent two years preparing Lake Hawea’s case for the event, “basically trying to prove to the New Zealand executive we have facilities up here to have all these world guys here”. . . 

Industry hunters step up for annual event  – Jared Morgan:

Ask hunters where exactly in Central Otago they shot their haul in the annual Manuherikia Boar, Buck and Stag Hunt and they are unlikely to tell you.

They want to protect their turf and believe the results speak for themselves.

Yesterday marked weigh-in day in the annual three-day fundraiser for the Alexandra Scout Group.

It was heartland rural New Zealand at its best if the atmosphere at the weigh-in and prize-giving was anything to go by. . . 

Matching beef yields and consumer expectations :

ENHANCING the red meat value chain through a greater understanding of efficient use of farm resources, better use of grazing mosaics, and the production of cattle that reach and exceed domestic and export ready standards is the aim of a new four-year partnership for the west.

The University of Western Australia and Meat & Livestock through the MLA Donor Company have joined forces to coordinate and drive an integrated research and practice change program for the West Australian beef Industry.

The partnership, BeefLinks, will provide better knowledge and a range of technologies to support the sustainability credentials of products and interconnectivity between producers, processors and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

08/08/2020

Expect increased rates costs from new government freshwater laws:

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

“We all want good water quality, that’s why farmers and growers have been spending time and money for decades doing all they can on-farm,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Millions of trees, hundreds of miles of fencing, sediment management, nitrogen controls … all these things are improving rural water quality.”

While there is still a good deal of detail Federated Farmers is working through to get a better understanding of to communicate to its members, “we do have concerns around the wording of the National Policy Statement. . . 

Red meat exports record seven percent increase year on year :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exported $9.4 billion of sheepmeat, beef and co-products for the year ending June 2020, according to the latest analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector saw an increase of $639 million – or seven per cent – compared to the year ending June 2019.

China remained the largest market for the year ending June 2020, accounting for $3.7 billion of New Zealand’s red meat exports. This was an increase of 24 per cent on the previous June year – and was partly driven by China’s demand for red meat protein as a result of the impact of African Swine Fever. . . 

More hands needed for milk processing – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has made a strong start to the dairy season and has more than 150 seasonal vacancies in its processing division spread throughout the country, director of manufacturing, Alan van der Nagel says.

The processing jobs at 30 manufacturing sites are among 770 current vacancies throughout Fonterra, including corporate roles, technicians, field staff and working in the Farm Source stores.

“We do gear up for the peak milk processing demand and we are looking for a wide range of skills and abilities,” van der Nagel said.

“We give the appropriate training and there are opportunities for re-skilling at a time when a lot of people are out of work.” . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s recognition of the importance of  vegetable growing in NZ in freshwater decisions:

Horticulture New Zealand is welcoming recognition of the importance of vegetable growing in the Government’s new national direction on freshwater management.

‘HortNZ has worked with growers in Pukekohe and Horowhenua to demonstrate to central and local government that modern vegetable growing techniques dramatically reduce environmental impact,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘Over the past decade, vegetable growers across New Zealand have been taking practical steps to reduce environmental impact through precision irrigation and fertilizer application, sediment traps and buffer zones, retiring land, and riparian planting. . . 

NZ apple industry on track to become a billion dollar export business :

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the representative industry body for the apple, pear and nashi industry, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hastings today, with members joining from around the country’s growing regions via Zoom.

With NZAPI’s financial year ending 31 March 2020, the published results were for the 2019 growing season and 2019/20 selling season, meaning that they reflect trading conditions pre- COVID-19.

Gross volume for the 2019/20 crop reached 566,200 metric tonnes (mT), similar to the previous year. The proportion of the crop that is exported rose 5 percent to 395,000 mT. . . 

Resilient Ravensdown responds with strong $69m profit – returning $68 million to farming:

After ensuring essential food-creating nutrients kept flowing during the pandemic, Ravensdown has recorded a profit from continuing operations and before tax, rebate and an earlier issue of bonus shares of $69 million (2019: $52m).

Returning a total of $68 million to its eligible farmer shareholders, the co-operative is confident in its financial strength and cautiously optimistic in the face of uncertainty around Covid-19 and emerging government policy.

“The resilience demonstrated was no accident, but deliberately built over five years of steadfast focus on fundamentals and performance. It meant that we could respond when shareholders needed us most and when New Zealand needed the agsector most,” said CEO Greg Campbell. . . 


Rural round-up

28/07/2020

Synthetics out in favour of natural fibres – Sally Rae:

Carpet-maker Cavalier is ditching synthetics in favour of wool and other natural fibres, citing “negative impacts on people’s health and the planet”.

The listed company yesterday unveiled a new transformational strategy, saying it would transition away from the manufacture and supply of synthetic fibre carpets over the next 12 months and existing synthetic stocks would be sold down.

In its strategy, the company said the long-term dangers posed by plastics were becoming clear. Plastic was a global problem and manufacturers needed to be part of the solution.

The impact that plastics had on human health was not yet fully understood, but early studies suggested that microplastics entering the body were a potential threat. The average Kiwi home with synthetic carpet was similar to having 22,000 plastic bags on the floor, by weight, it said. . . 

From lipstick to gum boots :

City girl becomes ‘Gumboot Girl’ and helps introduce sustainable practices on Northland dairy farm.

For years Jo Wood worked as a beauty therapist in Auckland. She was, in her words, “a city slicker”.

But then she “fell into” another job, one about as far removed from the glamour of make-up, manicures and pedicures as it’s possible to get.

Working in gumboots and a singlet, these days she walks the pastures of a 350ha dairy farm located on the coast between the Northland towns of Wellsford and Warkworth – and is known to one and all by her alter ego ‘Gumboot Girl‘. . .

 

Wools NZ elects new chairman – Annette Scott:

Former Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parson has been elected chairman of Wools NZ to lead the organisation in a new direction post covid-19.

The recognised industry leader, well known for his past chairmanship of Beef and Lamb NZ and the NZ Meat Board, Parsons was initially elected to the board by growers at the organisation’s annual meeting in November.    

The grower-owned strong wool marketing and export company has now embarked on a new era post covid-19 to re-orientate its strategic direction.

Parsons, a Northland sheep and beef farmer believes he well understands the industry challenges from a grassroots perspective. . . 

What’s next for the wool industry? – Annette Scott:

Step one of the wool industry’s Vision and Action report has connected the stakeholders now Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says the next step must lead to real purpose.

“It’s absolutely crucial the next step is real purpose, this report will most certainly not be sitting gathering dust,” O’Connor said.

“The project action group (PAG) has rounded up the situation, connected with industry players and provided some real guidance for the next step.

“With the absence of major initiatives from the industry I have to be responsible to put something up.”  . . 

Alliance to spend $3.2m on upgrade :

Alliance Group is to spend $3.2million on a further upgrade at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to help improve operational efficiency.

The plant’s engine room two, which provides key refrigeration for four cold stores, some blast freezers and several product chillers will receive upgraded safety features, equipment and building structure.

The programme would improve the company’s ability to control the refrigeration system remotely and provide a platform for further investment, Alliance said in a statement.

It would also give an opportunity to have more control points and sensors, improve the ability to provide automation control and result in ‘‘significant’’ savings through energy efficiency. . . 

Welsh unions highlight farmers’ role in fighting climate change :

Wales’ two farming unions have highlighted the vital role of agriculture in helping the UK to address the threat of climate change.

NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales held a virtual meeting with the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion, Nigel Topping, who was appointed by the prime minister in January.

In addition to wider discussions around climate change, the roundtable event provided a platform to discuss the ‘Race to Zero’ campaign.

The international campaign aims to strive for a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery, which was launched on World Environment Day and will run up to COP26 . . .


Rural round-up

15/07/2020

Dairy challenges the world over – Hugh Stringleman:

Labour shortages and tougher environmental requirements are the concerns of dairy farmers worldwide, an NZX Derivatives webinar has highlighted.

Three industry leaders were asked to speak on the challenges and opportunities in their countries and on their farms.

Irish dairy farmer Patrick Fenton, Molanna Farm, County Limerick, said there is a looming labour shortage as farms amalgamate, now freed from the shackles of European Union dairy quotas.

“We do have opportunities to grow and there is more land available but labour and environmental regulations have to be reckoned with,” he said. . . 

Gas targets might move – Gerard Hutching:

The targets for reducing methane have been set but the message from the Government is they could be changed next year. Gerard Hutching reports.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has conceded the 24-47% range for reducing methane by 2050 is unsatisfactory and has hinted it might change.

Primary sector groups such as the Meat Industry Association have argued the target, which will affect dairy farmers particularly, has been set too high and the reduction required is only 7%. 

Speaking to a webinar on a low-emissions future entitled Staying the Course, Shaw said the target will be looked at next year by the Climate Change Commission chaired by Rod Carr.  . .

Fonterra warning: Open Country, Miraka fear farmers locked in under new law – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand milk market giant Fonterra is about to get a legislative pass to throw its weight around even more, small dairy companies say.

Miraka and Open Country Dairy are concerned that amended dairy industry legislation is being rushed through that, in loosening the reins on Fonterra’s market power, could lead to milk supply drying up for new dairy processors or those wanting to set up in regions currently only served by Fonterra.

Their chief executives fear that a surprise clause introduced in the Dairy Industry Amendment Bill (No. 3) after lobbying by Fonterra will allow it to deny farmers a previous basic legislative right – to buy back into the big co-operative after exiting for whatever reason. . . 

Māori farming businesses flourish: ‘The world has to eat’ – Susan Edmunds:

Māori farming businesses are booming, and Covid-19 is unlikely to have taken off much of the shine.

Stats NZ data shows that profits for Māori authority farming businesses hit $97 million in 2018, almost double the year before. That is the most recent year for which the data is available.

The role of Māori authorities and their subsidiaries is to receive, manage, and/or administer assets held in common ownership by Māori.

More than 200, or around one-sixth, of Māori authorities are in agriculture. . . 

BVD stealing dairy herd profits:

While M. bovis and Covid-19 may be competing for farmers’ attention this winter, another equally infectious disease that has lurked in the background for years poses at least as big a threat to farm profitability and livestock health.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is estimated to be costing the New Zealand dairy industry at least $150 million a year in animal health costs and lost production, yet experts agree with a focused campaign it could potentially be eliminated in a matter of months, not years.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager has been working closely with vets and farmers this year to help raise the profile and understanding of BVD. . . 

Trio team up to trial innovative hemp based food products:

Greenfern Industries has partnered with two other New Zealand companies to commercialise an innovative new hemp meat substitute and hemp snack products.

Greenfern Industries, Sustainable Foods, and the Riddet Institute (Massey University) are working together on the initiative that will see them develop the hemp-based food products and ingredients for both the New Zealand and export markets.

While Greenfern’s primary focus is medical cannabis and wellness products, co-director Dan Casey said it made sense to partner with other relevant industry leaders to utilise the products of Greenfern’s hemp crops.

“We have an abundance of high-quality hemp from which we obtain seed, cake and oil so we partnered with the Riddet Institute to work on background research and hemp product development. We’ve spent 12 months working with Riddet Institute on the product and, after several iterations, we’ve produced some very valuable shared IP.” . . 


Rural round-up

27/07/2018

Renewed calls for essential rural healthcare:

A petition calling on the Government to deliver for rural New Zealanders and provide essential healthcare for 600,000 rural New Zealanders has been tabled in Parliament by Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger.

“Rural New Zealanders remain frustrated with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor’s failure to ensure vital health services are provided to rural New Zealand and are angry about the Government’s decision not to continue funding for the Rural Health Alliance. . .

’Best science since Rutherford split the atom’ – Sally Brooker:

New Zealand scientists are trialling genetically modified ryegrass they believe could revolutionise agriculture.

South Canterbury farmer, biotechnologist, and former Federated Farmers national president William Rolleston says it’s the best Kiwi science since Ernest Rutherford split the atom.

AgResearch has developed a ryegrass with high metabolisable energy (HME) that can grow up to 50% more quickly than conventional ryegrass, store more energy, be more drought-resistant, and produce up to 23% less methane. . .

Farmers keen to expand tech use – Toni Williams:

Electronic identification tags, scanning wands, weighing scales, farm business courses and drone use to check on animal welfare are all management tools used by Mt Somers deer farmers Duncan and Lorna Humm to improve, and add value, to their deer operation.

The young couple run a deer farm on a 43ha property, nestled near the foothills of the Southern Alps. Duncan isa fourth-generation farmer. The farm has been in his family since the mid-1960s, after his great grandparents moved from dairy farming near Kaikoura.

His parents, Christina and Bryan — now retired — ran sheep and cattle before diversifying a section of the property to deer in the 1990s. . . 

Making the leap from city to country:

Chloe Mackle was scared of the dark and anything that moved – but when she was challenged to try dairy farming, she decided to go for it.

Chloe Mackle After growing up in North Shore, Auckland, her first day on the job was a massive learning curve. “

All I knew was that my milk came in a bottle and my meat in a packet,” says Chloe. Now she is a farm manager and likes nothing better than working with cows and hanging out with her golden Labrador Nala . . .

Golden Shears on silver screen – Beckie Wilson:

Shearing a sheep is said to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, and that is what documentary director Jack Nicol hoped to prove in his new movie, She Shears.

Following the life of five female shearers gunning for glory at the Golden Shears, the portrayal of each woman is “quite delightful”, according to Masterton-based champion shearer Jills Angus Burney.

Angus Burney is one of the five whose story is told in the movie, produced by Miss Conception, which will be shown to the public for the first time next month at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

“Part of my role is the narrator, because I’m the old bag who retired,” she said. . .

Trade war chickens home to roost: Billions of pounds of meat fill US warehouses with nowhere to go:

More than 2.5 billion pounds of meat and poultry produced by US farmers have been stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses with the amount expected to grow further, according to the latest federal data.

Record production of beef, pork, poultry and turkey has become increasingly dependent on exports as US consumers cannot buy up the huge amount of meat. That would drive down prices for American consumers, restaurants and retailers. However, the recent import tariffs imposed by the country’s trade partners on the wide range of US goods, including agricultural produce, have slowed down sales of US meat and poultry abroad. . .


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