Rural round-up

29/03/2021

 Reduced foreign Labour in New Zealand fields failed experiment – Kate MacNamara:

It’s time to call New Zealand’s experiment in reduced foreign labour this harvest season a failure.

One of the country’s largest berry farmers has abandoned growing after a season of chronic labour shortage. Apple growers say they’re so shorthanded that exports will drop some 14 per cent this year, a loss of $95-$100 million. The grape harvest has come off with the help of more machinery, a tradeoff that’s likely to result in less premium wine. And growers estimate they’re still 1400 hires shy of the 4000 workers needed for grape cane pruning in Marlborough next month, the country’s most valuable wine region.

Perhaps the Government’s original idea sounded good in theory: redeploy the rump of seasonal foreign workers who remained stranded in New Zealand from the previous season, update working conditions for the few remaining backpackers, and make up the rest of the workforce from local Kiwis.

But if you add a few numbers, that calculation was always heroic. The need for seasonal hands through New Zealand’s harvest and pruning work approaches 40,000 in the peak summer and early autumn months. Before Covid, Immigration NZ anticipated that 14,500 Pacific workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and some 50,000 backpackers with working holiday visas would help to make up the labour force. But New Zealand’s closed border changed that. . . 

Orchard work shortage bites – Jared Morgan:

Some workers sent to Central Otago’s orchards and vineyards are not up to standard and the lack of seasonal workers from the Pacific is beginning to bite, an industry leader says.

Continuing labour shortages across both sectors have affected planning for key phases in production cycles such as picking and pruning.

This has led to calls for the Government to open quarantine-free travel bubbles to allow seasonal workers from Covid-free countries to plug labour gaps before it is too late, if not for this season then the next.

Pipfruit industry pioneer Con van der Voort, who operates a major packing facility in Ettrick, said the “come and go” nature of this season’s workforce was affecting orchardists not just in Central Otago but nationally. . . 

NZ’s potato chip industry threatened by cheap European imports – Sally Blundell:

The impact of Covid-19 on the potato chip industry in the Northern Hemisphere is putting locally grown and processed hot potato chips at the local chippie under threat.

The problem is that quiet streets and empty bars in Covid-ridden Europe have resulted in an estimated 1.7 million tonne surplus of raw potato material.

“People can’t go out, have a beer and buy some chips,” Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge told Frank Film in a recent interview. “That means there’s a big lump of frozen fries that’s got to go somewhere. Our economy’s working, they are sending it here – it is as simple as that.”

Claridge is looking for government action to protect New Zealand potato farmers from the influx of frozen fries grown and processed in Europe undercutting their locally grown equivalent. . . 

‘Milking cows is the easy part now’ – Sally Rae:

South Otago dairy farmers Scott and Ann Henderson were last week crowned Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners. They talk to Sally Rae about a career they say is not just about milking cows. 

She was from a sheep and beef farm in Scotland, he was a qualified carpenter from Balclutha.

Scott and Ann Henderson might not have grown up in the dairy farming industry, but the pair have made their mark on the sector, winning the 2021 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year title.

Industry recognition was not new for Mrs Henderson, who won the dairy manager of the year in the Southland-Otago awards in 2017, having finished runner-up the year before. . . 

Happy to be farming hops – Country Life:

Harvesting is the busiest time of the year for Holmdale Farm’s Cameron Ealam and his extended family.

They work from dawn to dusk picking, cleaning and drying several varieties of aromatic hop cones that grow on long leafy hop vines.

“The machine starts at seven each morning. We’re doing 12-hour days picking at the moment. The drying kiln will run through the night as well, so big days but (it’s) a short window to get a valuable crop in,” Cameron says.

On the floor behind the kilns are large piles of Motueka and Riwaka hop cones, waiting to be pressed and baled. . . 

Call for long-time enemies cotton and wool to join forces to push enviro credentials – Chris McLennan:

Long-time market enemies, the wool and cotton industries are looking to join forces globally to take on synthetic fibres.

Wool and cotton believe they both have the same eco-friendly credentials to challenge for better environmental ratings in Europe.

They want to form an alliance to champion the benefits of natural fibres as offering many solutions to the world’s current environmental challenges.

A wool industry leader entered uncharted waters when invited to speak to an international cotton conference in Bremen last week. . . 


Rural round-up

24/11/2020

Trust Alliance primary industry consortium launches:

A new consortium working to enhance the reputation and competitiveness of New Zealand’s primary industry sector is launching at the Primary Industries Summit at Te Papa today. Trust Alliance New Zealand (TANZ) is New Zealand’s first national blockchain consortium focused on the primary sector. Its intent is to be a change agent for primary industries, connecting participants and providers across the entire primary sector value chain.

Trust Alliance had its beginnings late last year when a small group of organisations came together to establish a trusted digital platform for New Zealand producers, growers, exporters, retailers and consumers to easily share verified and trusted data. It now has 22 members and is growing monthly.

Chair of the Trust Alliance and Chief Executive of Potatoes New Zealand, Chris Claridge, says it provides a platform for sharing data, to prove provenance, authentication and food safety as well as biosecurity tracking and tracing. . . 

A2 Milk has last some of its share market gloss but has become a formidable dairy player with a bright outlook  – Point of Order:

Two  encouraging signals from the  dairy industry this week underlined  its strength  as  the backbone   of the  NZ  export  economy, all the  more vital since  the  Covid-driven collapse  of the international tourist  industry.

First  came  news that prices  strengthened  at the  latest  Fonterra  global dairy  trade  auction, with  the  average price reaching  $US3157  a  tonne. Prices for other products sold were mixed, with gains for butter and skim milk powder, but falls for cheese and other products.

Analysts  said  it  was  positive  to see  good, strong  demand  from   China. The  price  of  wholemilk powder  which  strongly  influences the  level of  payout to Fonterra’s  suppliers  moved  up  1.8% to $US3037  a tonne. . .

Providing a female take on farm training – Guy Williams:

The best way to succeed is to help others succeed.

That is the mantra of Laura Douglas, who has been instrumental in setting up New Zealand’s first women-only farm training school at Fairlight Station, near Garston.

Miss Douglas had already attracted national media attention after setting up her company, Real Country, about four years ago to give tourists an insight into farm life.

Then came Covid.

The bottom fell out of the tourism market, and her livelihood. . . 

Incredible life in Outback – Sally Rae:

Meet Liz Cook — wife, mother and bull catcher.

She works with her husband Willie to wrangle feral cattle in Australia’s remote Northern Territory, while raising the couple’s two young sons Charlie and Blake.

It is an extraordinary lifestyle for the couple, who hail from Central Otago, giving their children experiences that few others will ever have.

Home to spend time with family and give the boys a taste of a New Zealand upbringing, Mrs Cook outlined life on Bauhinia Downs Station, a 324,000ha property — small by the area’s standards — that the couple lease. . . 

Auckland butcher awarded inaugural Slow Food Snail –  Regina Wypch:

Fourteen Auckland region food businesses became New Zealand’s first to be awarded the Slow Food “Snail of Approval”, at an event held last Tuesday evening. A huge congratulations to A Lady Butcher – Hannah Miller who was amongst these inaugural and deserving recipients.

The Slow Food movement aims to change the world through food and celebrates the love of food cultures, rituals, and traditions. Slow Food Auckland Committee Member Anutosh Cusack says ‘The internationally recognised Snail of Approval programme promotes and celebrates locally grown and produced food that is good, clean and fair and the people who make it happen.

But what is good, clean fair food? – Good – seasonal, local, quality, flavoursome and healthy food. Clean – produced sustainably with low impact on the environment.  And Fair ensures accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers and staff.

“By recognising their intent, passion and effort rather than perfection, the Snail of Approval is intended to inspire all types of food businesses to embrace Slow Food principles,” says Ms Cusack. . . 

Growing a family legacy – Regina Wypch:

What started with planting some acacia trees 25 years ago has become a multi-generational passion for the Hunt family in Te Awamutu.

“Grandpa was against it at the time; Grandma claims she suggested it,” says Sophia Hunt, whose grandparents were the original owners of Orakau Dairy in Te Awamutu, Waikato. Sophia now helps farm Orakau – a 350-cow operation split into two herds – alongside her parents Rose and Vernon, and sister Margie. What grandma and grandpa were disputing was Rose and Vernon shutting up a 1.5ha paddock with some mature acacias about 25 years ago, allowing the self-seeded acacias to grow, instead of being nibbled off each time cows grazed the paddock. 

The farm had a few stands of mature macrocarpas at the time, planted for timber and used by cows for shade and shelter. But the macrocarpas needed to be milled, and there was concern about the trees causing slips. . . 

Recalling a pastoral saga – Stephen Burns:

It was not surprising Alastair Cox pursued a pastoral career.

The descendant of Merino pioneer William Cox who established the first land grant in the Bathurst district after crossing the Blue Mountains in 1814, he is very proud of his Merino heritage.

Subsequent generations of the Cox family established themselves as leading Merino breeders in the Mudgee region: and Alastair’s direct forbear James Cox made Tasmania his home at Clarendon, near Evandale.

Upon leaving school, Alastair started work in the Newmarket saleyards in Melbourne where he was employed by the agency Dal Adams and Co. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/02/2019

Oamaru chef makes the cut – Rebecca Ryan:

Cucina head chef Pablo Tacchini isn’t one to talk up his own reputation – but his food says it all.

Mr Tacchini’s exceptional culinary skills have seen him named a Beef + Lamb New Zealand ambassador chef for 2019.

He is one of five New Zealand chefs to have been selected, all recognised for driving innovation and creativity using New Zealand beef and lamb.

 

Fertigation: a new way of applying fertiliser:

A new guide has been released which will assist farmers and the irrigation industry to adopt the use of fertigation.

The method is a new way of applying fertiliser which is likely to reduce nitrogen leaching and save labour on farms.

Fertigation allows irrigators to be used to apply liquid fertiliser or liquid soluble fertiliser in small quantities at the same time as water. . . 

Potato sector looking chipper – Pam Tipa:

The opportunities for the potato industry lie in a planned series of sustainable developments, says Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge.

“We don’t see a boom and bust with potatoes, just a gradual improvement,” he says.

The sector is now close to a one billion dollar industry. . . 

NZ blackcurrant harvest improves:

Despite a difficult growing season, 2019 has delivered a high-quality blackcurrant harvest, signalling positive signs for the industry as research and international science point to the unique health boosting properties found naturally in New Zealand blackcurrants.

BCNZ chairman and grower, Geoff Heslop, says this season’s high-quality harvest has come at a good time for blackcurrant growers. . . 

NZ to take ownership of a new global agritech initiative:

New Zealand is going to take ownership of a new global agritech initiative, AgritechNZ chief executive Peter Wren-Hilton says.

Wren-Hilton has just returned from the US where he met a number of key AgritechNZ partners in Farm2050 which was set up to solve the global food challenge. By the year 2050, the global population will reach 10 billion people, requiring a 70 percent increase in food production. . . 

Lamb is meat of choice for environmentally conscious millennials, group says :

As the end of Veganuary comes close, sheep farmers are reminding consumers of the dietary and environmental benefits of locally produced lamb.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has reiterated the benefits of British lamb as the month-long vegan campaign, ‘Veganuary’, comes to an end. Lamb producers have spent much of January responding to queries and giving interviews on why sheep reared in Britain are beneficial for the environment and why consuming British sheepmeat is one of the most sustainable options for the country. . . 

Understanding the values behind farmer perceptions of trees on farms to increase adoption of agroforestry in Australia – Aysha Fleming, Anthony P O’Grady, Daniel Mendham, Jacqueline England, Patrick Mitchell, Martin Moroni, Arthur Lyons:

Agriculture faces increasing sustainability pressures. Land intensification and degradation, energy use and inputs, complex environmental management, social issues facing farming communities and climate change are just some of the headline sustainability concerns threatening the viability of farming. Simultaneously, there is a need to increase food and fibre production and resource use efficiency. For many of these sustainability issues, increasing the number of trees planted in agricultural systems, or agroforestry, can improve the productivity and sustainability of future rural agricultural landscapes. In many parts of the world, the benefits of agroforestry remain under-realised. To understand the reasons behind this, interviews were conducted with 44 predominantly mixed enterprise farmers and farm advisors in Tasmania, Australia.  . . 


Rural round-up

19/11/2015

Feds president leads by example – Amanda Vaisigano:

Bronwyn Muir’s measurement of success is that her influence moves the farming industry towards a more collaborative, sustainable, profitable, and optimistic future.

The Taranaki Provincial President, dairy farmer and Director of OnFarmSafety New Zealand has spent a lifetime in farming and is passionate about supporting the rural industry.

The success of her business OnFarmSafety NZ has seen her win and be nominated for a number of awards, including most recently at the 2015 Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. . .

Estimates for Fonterra’s farmer payout tumble amid weak dairy prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Forecasts for Fonterra Cooperative Group’s payout to New Zealand farmers this season have tumbled below the company’s estimate following the third consecutive decline in prices on the GlobalDairyTrade platform.

Four of six analysts surveyed by BusinessDesk pulled back their estimates for the payout today, after whole milk powder prices declined 11 percent at last night’s GDT auction, taking the total decline over the past three sessions to 22 percent. Estimates for the payout now range between $4.25-$4.60 per kilogram of milk solids, pulling the top end of the range down from $5.30/kgMS. Fonterra is set to review its current forecast of $4.60/kgMS in early December. . . 

Freedom Foods sells remaining stake in milk marketer a2 Milk for A$64 mln – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s cornerstone shareholder, Freedom Foods Group, has sold its remaining 10.4 percent stake in the milk marketing company for A$64 million, taking advantage of a surge in the share price.

Sydney-based Freedom Foods sold its remaining shares for 85 Australian cents apiece and will reinvest the proceeds in other investments including a buy-out of oat-based cereal and snack manufacturer Popina and construction of a new UHT processing facility. . . 

How now, New Zealand cow?:

New Zealand’s five million milking cows are doing a great job of efficiently producing milk, according to the latest 2014-15 dairy statistics  released today.

New Zealand cows are producing more milk with more milksolids than 10 years ago.

A cow’s annual average production contained 377 kilograms of milksolids (8.9%) in 2014-15, which is what New Zealand’s dairy farmers are paid for, compared to 308 kilograms (8.6%) in 2004-05.

Cows from North Canterbury are the highest producers. On average each produced 4,706 litres of milk in 2014-15 with 416 kilograms of milksolids. . .

Forestry crown research institute Scion first to apply for drone beyond-line-of-sight flying – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Scion, the forestry crown research institute, will become the first organisation in New Zealand to fly drones beyond line of sight when it seeks approval under new Civil Aviation Authority rules to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for forest monitoring.

Scion has been conducting publicly and privately funded trials of UAVs for the past three months, including flying along the edge of forests to evaluate tree harvesting and using a UAV with interchangeable remote sensing technology to transmit information on tree health and pests in North and South Island forests.

A Callaghan Innovation-commissioned report last year estimated flying drones out of the operator’s line of sight could provide economic gains of up to $190 million annually to New Zealand’s farming, forestry and energy sectors. More than 440 commercial UAV users are registered on New Zealand’s Airshare website while the consumer drone market is booming.  . .

Strengthening Spring Rural Market:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 12 more farm sales (+3.5%) for the three months ended October 2015 than for the three months ended October 2014. Overall, there were 358 farm sales in the three months ended October 2015, compared to 337 farm sales for the three months ended September 2015 (+6.2%), and 346 farm sales for the three months ended October 2014. 1,731 farms were sold in the year to October 2015, 9.9% fewer than were sold in the year to October 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to October 2015 was $27,579 compared to $27,547 recorded for three months ended October 2014 (+0.1%). The median price per hectare rose 6.0% compared to September. . . 

Potatoes New Zealand Inc. appoints new Chief Executive Officer:

Potatoes New Zealand has appointed Chris Claridge as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Potatoes New Zealand Inc. Chairman Stuart Wright said he was delighted to welcome Mr Claridge to the organisation, which has a target of doubling New Zealand fresh and processed potato exports by 2025.

“Chris brings a wealth of horticultural, business, leadership and marketing experience to the role,” said Mr Wright. “That will prove invaluable in building on the very good work that has already been done towards achieving our goals of boosting productivity in the sector for the benefit of growers and the New Zealand economy.” . . 


Rural round-up

06/10/2013

Moves to keep sheep and beef in the frame – Annette Scott:

One of the most important aspects of the AgResearch Future Footprint (FFP) proposal is the need to ramp up New Zealand efforts to confront new challenges faced by agriculture, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen says.

In his chairman’s update last week Petersen assured farmers B+LNZ was consulting AgResearch over its FFP restructure to ensure the needs of sheep and beef farmers were met.  

“B+LNZ has been working closely with AgResearch to ensure the needs of our sector are not compromised by these plans. . .

Advocate for improved farming – Annette Scott:

Lynda Murchison was born with farming in her blood but she grew up in Christchurch. Now a farmer and environmental planning consultant, she talks to Annette Scott for this first in the series of Women Stepping Up.

Lynda Murchison joined the Federated Farmers executive because she wanted to advocate for improved farming outcomes, in particular around land and water management and red meat and wool opportunities.

She identified a gap, she had the skills and she put her hand up for the challenge. . .

New proposal for screening PKE:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy is welcoming a proposal to bring in compulsory screening of palm kernel expeller (PKE) imported into New Zealand.

PKE is imported mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia and is used by the dairy industry as supplementary stock feed.

“The proposal from the Ministry for Primary Industries is that all PKE must be passed through a 4-6mm size screen on entry to New Zealand and before going on sale. There will also be added requirements for record keeping and traceability.

“It’s important to note there are already tough conditions in place for imports, including heat treatment, fumigation and inspection. On top of this new standards were introduced in June ensuring that in-market facilities are Government approved. . .

Chinese charm offence needed – exporter:

HIGH PROFILE media coverage is needed in China to get the message out that infant formula products are safe, says Chris Claridge from the NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association.

The New Zealand Government needs to take the lead and Prime Minister John Key should visit soon, with industry people, he says.

Claridge is highly frustrated that he cannot seem to get his message heard in New Zealand: our products are still at high risk because the Chinese consumer still thinks New Zealand infant formula is poisoned.

Meanwhile New Zealand’s competitors are cashing in. . .

Two more awards for Tru-Test – Hugh Stringleman:

Agri-technology manufacturer and exporter Tru-Test Group has added two prestigious awards to others won earlier this year, along with a major acquisition.

Tru-Test was named supreme winner in the New Zealand International Business Awards after winning the ANZ Best Business operating internationally, more than $50 million category.

Peter Chrisp, chief executive of award manager NZ Trade and Enterprise, said Tru-Test had forged strong relationships with its partners and developed a well-thought-out market entry strategy. . .

Looming large – Mark C O’Flaherty:

Hermès and Chanel have long chosen Scottish over Italian mills. Now a new generation of designers is following suit, inspired as much by technological innovation as matchless quality. Mark C O’Flaherty reports on a Scottish textile renaissance.

 

The archive library at Johnstons of Elgin in the Scottish Highlands resembles a lavishly produced fantasy film set. There are shelves full of bulging red-leather books with weathered pages, each tome greater in size than the Domesday Book. Collectively, they house the mill’s estate tweeds, each swatch exclusive to a single landowner, and each book marked in gilt across its giant spine with the year of production. The earliest is 1865. In the corner sits a roll of recently woven fabric, an intricately detailed marbled-grey cloth with flecks of red in it. “That’s Albert Tweed,” says James Sugden, a director at the company. “Prince Charles commissioned it from a sample he found in his archive. It was one of the most difficult things we’ve ever worked on. It took months to reproduce and to get precisely the right kind of red, reminiscent of the granite of Aberdeenshire and Balmoral. But that’s why people come to us, because we create things that are too difficult for anyone else to do.” . . .


Rural round-up

11/08/2013

Formula firms see orders cancelled – Christopher Adams:

Kiwi baby formula companies are having orders cancelled in China and contract negotiations with Chinese customers terminated as a result of Fonterra’s botulism contamination crisis, says an industry group.

Chris Claridge, chief administration officer of the New Zealand Infant Formula Exporters Association, said $40 million worth of the group’s products were immediately at risk.

“That’s product at the ports, on the ship and being manufactured,” Claridge said. “We’re seeing serious commercial issues arising.”

The association represents around 15 local baby milk exporters, none of whom used the 38 tonnes of potentially contaminated Fonterra whey protein in the making of their products. . .

Fonterra farmers keep the faith:

A week on from the revelation of contaminated Fonterra product, farmers “hang on” with confidence in their dairy co-operative.

As the list of questions about the company’s risk management strategies and public relations nous mounts, suppliers remain in support, but expect answers.

The media hype and sensationalism had likely done greater damage and posed a greater threat to the industry than one contaminated pipe, South Canterbury dairy farmer Ryan O’Sullivan suggested. . .

MPI removes illegal kiwifruit plants:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is today starting to remove and safely dispose of a small backyard kiwifruit orchard in an Auckland suburb that appears to have been grown from seed imported illegally.

MPI Manager Response Katherine Clift says the Ministry has been informed that the seeds were brought into New Zealand with a container of household goods when the owner moved to New Zealand in 1997. They were not declared and subsequently not detected at the border.

Dr Clift says testing of plant material from the property carried out by MPI ruled out the presence of any serious disease-causing viruses, bacteria or fungi, including Psa and MPI assessed the plants presented a low risk to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

“In addition, the plants are at a location geographically removed from key kiwifruit growing areas and the owner has stated that no plant material has been moved from the property.” . . .

Otago paramedic wins RWNZ/Acces scholarship:

Annabel Taylor is no stranger to rural medical emergencies and farm accidents, and now she’ll be even better equipped to deal with them, thanks to winning this year’s $3,000 Rural Women NZ/Access Scholarship.

As a St John paramedic based in Taieri, Annabel works for both the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter and the Dunedin ambulance service, responding to calls for help from the rural community.

The scholarship will help cover Annabel’s expenses as she studies for a year-long Postgraduate Certificate in Speciality Care, Advanced Paramedic Practice at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua, near Wellington.  The course includes distance learning and she’ll also be flying to Wellington six times a year for block courses. . .

Family feud nets $1.8m for farmer – Michael Field:

A small-town law firm has been ordered to pay $1.8 million compensation to a Waikato farmer after a family feud over the sale of his property.

Farmer Ross Blackwell, of Arohena, south of Te Awamutu, decided to sell his farm to his neighbour since he didn’t want his brothers to inherit it because of the way they had treated his wife, the High Court heard.

But the deal he made with neighbours Leith and Rosemary Chick meant they could buy the farm at less than half market value.

Blackwell’s brothers took the sale to court, throwing doubts on his intellectual ability after he suffered a brain tumour and strokes, and saying they were stunned the farm was being sold out of the family. . .

The New York analyst, the farm station and the advisory board – David Williams:

Back in the day it was unfashionable.

Anders Crofoot moved his family to New Zealand from New York 15 years ago to farm Castlepoint Station, in the Wairarapa, and immediately created an advisory board.

It’s not that that sort of thing wasn’t being done, he says, more that they were doing it because they wanted to – not because the bank told them to.

As reported in Friday’s National Business Review print edition, the country’s large, complex farms are more frequently appointing boards to oversee their governance as the agricultural sector grapples with high debt and the need for external capital. . .

Famous Five quins one in a million – Alison Harley:

Marlborough’s Waihopai Valley is the location of New Zealand’s spy base, but this week it has gained recognition for a completely different reason.

It has now become home to the “famous five” after a ewe on one station delivered more lambs than anyone expected.

Farmer Kelly Burmaz says it is not the first multiple birth for the mother.

“In the last four years she’s had four lambs each year,” says Mr Burmaz.

“This time she’s poked out five.” . . .

 


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