Rural round-up

July 23, 2020

Synthetic products ‘kick int he guts’ – Alice Scott:

When it comes to supporting the New Zealand wool industry, East Otago sheep and beef farmer Georgie McGregor reckons there needs to be a new hashtag started for synthetic apparel: #senditback.

“The big farm retailers not only stock synthetic clothing and hats but they also run these promotions and send what is essentially a plastic bush shirt to us for buying a certain product in bulk.

“It’s one thing to stock this cheap synthetic product, but to give it away to farmers who are out there every day trying to make part of their living out of wool, well it’s a kick in the guts really.

“I just think we should all start sending back this plastic stuff they give us and make it their problem. If we don’t say anything, nothing will change,” she said. . . 

No place for Tom, Dick or Harry :

Migrants are a critical and valued part of dairying in New Zealand, filling skills shortages on farms when there aren’t enough local workers available.

The sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas (18% of total sector employees) and another 1500 on resident visas (mostly employees but some employers).

The NZ Government, like other governments around the world, is facing a growing unemployment queue thanks to Covid-19. They are under pressure to employ locals. But it isn’t as simple.

All those out-of-work Queenstown baristas are hardly likely to give up and move sticks to the Waikato, don an apron and start milking cows.

Cost control the biggest influence for farmers in latest survey – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’s latest economic survey reveals that cost control continues to be a key driver for New Zealand dairy farmers as the industry faces ongoing challenges in both production and profitability.

The survey for the 2018-2019 year showed that operating profit per hectare for owner-operators was $2154. This is down on the previous year’s total of $2238, but above the average for the previous decade of $1696, DairyNZ principal economist Dr Graeme Doole said.

 Dr Doole says that volatility will remain a significant challenge for farmers to manage.

Feed continues to be a farmers largest expenditure area at 28.5% of total expenditure. It has been farmers’ expenses category since 2007-2008. . . 

Five southern farmers grade-free for 10 years – Yvonne O’Hara:

Five Fonterra suppliers have earned blocks of cheese and plaques as recognition for being grade free for 10 years or more, for the past season.

Thirty-four suppliers nationwide earned the plaque, five of whom are in Otago and Southland.

In addition to the Weir family, of Inch Clutha, there are the Chalmers family of Kaitangata, the Morrisons, of Kaitangata, the Rutter/Hannah families, of Kaka Point, and the Cricketts of Otautau. . . 

Bees to help elephants and tribes thrive in Africa: a powerful new partnership to help save the wild:

Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer of UMF Mānuka honey, has today announced a new multi-year partnership with wildlife charity Saving the Wild, which will see the two organisations work together on global projects to help protect ‘nature in need’.

As the major Sponsorship Partner of Saving the Wild, Comvita will be acting upon its founding values, with the mission to connect people to nature at the heart of the partnership.

Established in 1974, Comvita and came to life in a counter-culture movement built on respect for nature and humankind. Saving the Wild was founded in 2014 by Jamie Joseph, with a mission to protect endangered African wildlife and ultimately the priceless biodiversity of the planet. . . 

Livestock birth-management companies for sale provide fertile opportunities for new owners:

Two livestock birth-management firms enabling New Zealand farmers to be among the most productive primary producers in the world has been placed on the market for sale.

Cattle pregnancy testing company Ultra-Scan was established in 1994 to examine the fertility rate of pregnant cows. Ultra-Scan now has 20 franchises throughout New Zealand – with 14 in the North Island and six in the South Island. The majority of the company’s North Island franchise operations are located in the Greater Waikato and King Country districts.

While initially founded to deliver cow gestation scanning services, Ultra-Scan’s service offering has subsequently gone on to include similar pregnancy tests for sheep, deer and goats, as well as the de-horning of young calves aged between four days and 10 weeks of age – in a Ministry for Primary Industry-approved practice known as ‘disbudding’ on calves – as well as DNA sampling, electronic calf tagging for identification, and teat removal. . . 


Rural round-up

July 17, 2020

Government’s food and fibre reset lacks a core – Keith Woodford:

The Government’s new food and fibre reset document is PR aspirational fluff. The hard work remains to be done

On July 7 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern released the Government’s document “Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential”. The associated  press release  from the Beehive says that it provides a 10-year roadmap for the food and fibre industries’.

At the same function where this report was released, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor released a companion document from his Primary Sector Council of chosen industry leaders.  That document is also titled “Fit for a Better World” but lacks the title extension about ‘accelerating our economic potential’.   This second document is indeed a different document, singing from the same song-sheet, but with considerably different material. Very confusing indeed!

My focus here is on the Government’s version of the report because this is the one that has been signed off by Cabinet. Minsters in attendance at the release also included Stuart Nash and Shane Jones. . . 

Concerns for shearing as overseas workers can’t get in – Susan Murray:

New Zealand’s traditional shearing routines could be thrown into disarray this summer if overseas shearers can’t get into the country.

The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association said, nationally, at least two million sheep are shorn by international shearers.

The vice president, Carolyn Clegg, said farmers may have to re-design their shearing plans to avoid animal welfare issues, and it could have business implications too.

She said some lambs may not get shorn, or ewes may just get crutched, rather than fully shorn.

Taste Pure Nature one year on – Allan Barber:

A little over a year since the launch of the Taste Pure Nature country of origin brand in California, Beef + Lamb’s GM Market Development, Nick Beeby, is thrilled with the evolution of the programme. At the start a small number of meat exporters were supportive of what Beeby concedes was initially seen as a B+LNZ initiative, but 15 months later success in targeting specific consumer groups and expansion of the scheme into China have brought increased industry commitment. TPN is now viewed positively as a sector-led strategy and the meat exporters have injected huge momentum and drive in support.

Original participants included Lamb Company shareholders, Alliance, ANZCO and Silver Fern Farms, and Atkins Ranch and First Light, two exporters which stood to benefit from the tightly targeted digital strategy directed at the Conscious Foodie consumer segment in California. The initial strategy was to raise awareness and increase the preference for New Zealand grass fed, naturally raised and anti-biotic free red meat, and importantly to point consumers to where they can buy it. These strategic objectives remain the same. . . 

Craggy Range Winery staff celebrate being among World’s Best Vineyards – Shannon Johnstone:

Craggy Range Winery staff celebrated with, well, a glass of lunchtime wine, as they found they were sitting at number 17 among the World’s Best Vineyards.

This year, the winery placed among some of the world’s most respected wineries such as France’s Mouton Rothschild & Château Margaux, Italy’s Antinori, the United States Opus One and Australia’s Penfold.

It is one of two New Zealand wineries to make the list alongside Rippon in Central Otago.

Craggy Range director Mary-Jeanne Peabody said they were “thrilled” to have been recognised. Last year they placed 11th. . . 

HoneyLab does licensing deal with US company:–  Andrew McRae:

Health product company HoneyLab is to sell seven of its products in North America through a licensing agreement with American company Taro Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.

The agreement covers the sale of its kanuka honey products for the treatment of cold-sores, rosacea and acne, a bee venom-based cosmetic range and a product for joint and muscle pain.

Taro will be able to make and sell these licenced products in the US, Canada and Israel and they will be on shelves in stores sometime in 2021. . .

ASB appoints Ben Speedy as Rural General Manager:

ASB is pleased to announce that Ben Speedy has been appointed to the bank’s leadership team in the role of general manager, Rural.

Speedy joins ASB from his previous role as New Zealand Country Manager for Core Logic International.

Speedy grew up on a farm and started his career with BNZ after graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Farm Management and Rural Valuation, and Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (Marketing).

As an Agribusiness Graduate he worked his way up to become Senior Agribusiness Manager in Hawke’s Bay. . . 


Rural round-up

July 4, 2020

Farming key to NZ”s future – David Bennett:

National’s agriculture spokesman, David Bennett on how the sector is key to New Zealand’s economic rebuild.

It’s no secret that agriculture is key to New Zealand’s economic rebuild and is cementing itself as the most reliable contributor to our economy in a post-Covid world.

It’s the same old story – no matter what, people need to eat and we have a proud reputation as the producer of some of the best food in the world.

I am a farmer and I know the contribution our farmers and growers make to our communities. It’s great to see more people outside the farm gate realising what we’ve known all along about how important agriculture is to our country. However, we can’t rest on our laurels and must always be looking at ways to grow the industry for years to come. . . 

From farm life to aviation and back – Daniel BIrchfield:

Sven Thelning is just as comfortable on the farm as he is high in the clouds.

Farm manager at dairy farm Avon Glen at Enfield for about four years, the North Otago born father of three grew up on his parents’ sheep and beef farm at Herbert but gave up life on the farm to pursue his interest in aviation.

But, as he suspected might happen one day, the lure of farm work was too great to resist.

‘‘I had a bit of experience overseas when I left school, but after that I went into aviation for a bit before I got back into farming about 2014 and have been at the same place ever since.’’ . . 

Plant a Seed for Safety – Marina Shearer:

When Marina married her farmer some 25 years ago, she was unsure of how her corporate background would merge with farm life. Coming from a background in telecommunications to settle on a sheep and beef farm two hours north of the city seemed daunting, however within a few short years, she had a vision to build an online horticultural business – something she had little to no experience in. RhodoDirect was launched in 2000, and over a 20 year period both she and her husband Craig not only established a five acre show garden, but provided the leadership that saw the launch the Hurunui Garden Festival, an annual, springtime event that celebrates local gardens. In 2020, RhodoDirect was sold, allowing Marina to return to her original career in training and development. With a newly acquired Diploma of Professional Coaching, Marina has since launched a new business – Thrive13 – which focusses on the personal and professional development of young women. Now with 25 years’ experience in both corporate and rural sectors and with her own horticultural career behind her, Marina has a wide range of skills to offer her clients. 

When asked what concerned Marina about the health and safety of those in rural industries and communities, Marina spoke of the impact of depression on personal relationships within rural families. As a passionate facilitator of workshops for rural women, she said that members of rural families need invest energy into finding their voice and having the confidence and the courage to speak up not only for themselves, but for those around them.  . . 

Lack of consultation by government shows and public get behind tahr:

New Zealand Deerstalkers Association Inc (NZDA) are disappointed to receive a final Himalayan tahr control operational plan from the Department of Conservation (DOC) for the coming 2020/21 operational period that ignores any advice and input from NZDA as the voice of recreational hunters.

NZDA Chief Executive, Gwyn Thurlow says “I have received many calls and emails from hunters, not just our members, expressing their outrage and disbelief at the government’s decision to take a course of action that flies in the face of its overarching objective of listening, being compassionate, and caring about our people and communities.

“There is no doubt that New Zealand hunters, a minority group, are being brushed aside by government and treated with a complete lack of due process and consultation. . . 

Mass killing of tahr devastating for tourism industry:

Tourism industry operators are pleading for the government to halt DoC’s plan for a mass killing of Himalayan Tahr, saying the animals provide hundreds of jobs and a multi-million dollar benefit to the country.

Under a controversial 2020-21 plan which came into effect yesterday, DoC will significantly increase the number of tahr it kills, including exterminating all animals in national parks.

The Tahr Foundation has asked the High Court for an injunction to stop DoC going ahead with the mass slaughter. . . 

Air-borne weed detector helps map out weed control at Coonamble – Vernon Graham:

The Single family has developed a drone-based weed detection sensor to better manage herbicide resistance in their large-scale dryland cropping enterprise south east of Coonamble.

Developed over 10 years by family members headed by Ben Single, a mechanical engineer, along with the help of robotic experts, the air-borne weed sensor has been used commercially on their farm for the past 18 months.

It can map between 200 to 300 hectares an hour and is capable of picking up weeds the size of the top of a beer can. . . 


Rural round-up

May 29, 2020

Oxford research: Livestock emission calculations could be ‘unfair and inefficient’ – Sylvester Phelan:

The way that governments are setting targets for different greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could be “unfair, inefficient and dangerous”, according to researchers at Oxford University – referencing the calculations of livestock emissions such as methane in particular as inaccurate.

Researchers from the LEAP (Livestock, Environment and People) project, based at the Oxford Martin School, made the argument in a paper published in Environmental Research Letters last month.

In the paper, the scientists say the commonly-used GWP100 (Global Warming Potential) method “obscures how different emissions contribute to global temperature change”. . . 

Forestry reform bill ‘cumbersome and unworkable’ – industry– Eric Frykberg:

There has been scathing criticism of the government’s latest forestry reforms at a parliamentary select committee.

The reforms are part of the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on Budget night] and has already surfaced for consideration at a parliamentary select committee.

This law would require forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to join a register and agree to work on nationally agreed standards.

The aim was to reduce the number of logs being exported raw and to direct more towards New Zealand sawmills and create jobs as a result. . .

Farm Environment Plans come out on top for growers and the environment:

Farm Environment Plans have come out on top as the best way for vegetable and fruit growers to manage their environmental impact and at the same time, provide evidence to regulators. 

That’s the finding of independent research called Joining the Dots, conducted by Agrilink NZ and New Zealand Good Agricultural Practice (NZGAP) for the New Zealand horticulture industry.  (Farm Environment Plans are part of the horticulture industry’s GAP programmes.)   

Horticulture New Zealand Sustainability and Extension Manager, Ailsa Robertson says the research is exactly what the industry has needed to support the use of Farm Environment Plans. 

‘Joining the Dots shows what we knew all along, which is that Farm Environment Plans are the best tools for growers to use to understand their environmental impact and put in place actions to reduce that impact, where necessary.  . . 

Federated Farmers – Rabobank remuneration survey shows good growth in farmer pay:

Strong growth in pay packages in the last two years is another reason for New Zealanders to consider a career in agriculture, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. 

The 2020 Federated Farmers – Rabobank Farm Remuneration Report, released today, shows that between 2017/2018 and 2019/20, the mean total remuneration package (i.e. salary plus benefits such as accommodation, meat, firewood, Kiwisaver, etc) has increased significantly for farm employees across all sectors groups. 

Based on survey responses relating to nearly 3,000 on-farm positions, the report shows the mean farm employee remuneration package for dairy farm workers rose by 9.7% to $57,125, across sheep/beef farm roles it was up by 7.6% to $55,568, across grain farms it was up by 3.1% to $58,800 and in ‘other’ specialist farm roles outside standard position descriptions, it was up by 16% to $61,288.  . . 

After seven years Alison Gibb steps of Dairy Women’s Network board:

After seven years Alison Gibb will pull up her chair as a Trustee at next week’s Dairy Women’s Network board meeting for the last time.

“It’s time to step back and let fresh eyes and input take the organisation to the next level, and it’s also important for me that I move on to new challenges,” she said.

“I was on the appointments committee for the three replacements (for the Dairy Women’s Network Board) and believe that they will bring a different set of skills and provide an exciting freshness to the board.” . . 

Wine growers hope harvest fortunes will remain golden – Tracy Neal:

Marlborough winemakers are hoping the best harvest in a decade will help shore up exports and cellar door sales.

Covid-19 hit hardest as the harvest was in full-swing, forcing a rapid shift in how it was managed.

Now the grapes are in, some say the hard work is only just starting as they strive to maintain markets.

On a late autumn morning, as the fog was just lifting off the hills above the Wairau River, Huia Winery’s team of three – Claire Allan, husband Mike and daughter Sophie, were taking a break amid the tanks and wooden barrels in their organic winery. . .


Rural round-up

May 16, 2020

Frighteningly different priorities – Peter Burke:

In the cities people are clambering over each other to get the first Big Mac or piece of deep-fried chicken, not to mention a ‘real’ coffee.

So fanatical were some individuals for a fast-food fix that they were stupid enough to risk undoing the good work of the rest of the country by not sticking to the rules of physical distancing.

Having said that, a few idiot politicians and community leaders have yielded to temptation and broken lockdown rules, setting a poor example. Their actions are insulting to the rural community – farmer, growers, people who work in meat processing plants, packhouses and other facilities to provide food for these unthinking individuals.

And don’t let’s forget all the other essential workers that are the unsung heroes of this crisis.

Nothing for our most productive sector in Budget – National:

Budget 2020 hasn’t provided anything of note for the primary sector at a time when it is leading our nation’s rebuild, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

He says the Government’s claim of ‘rebuilding better’ is nothing but a meaningless slogan for the primary sector. Muller says costly Government proposals like Essential Freshwater are still on the way, there’s no large-scale water storage funding and not enough support to secure the 50,000 workers needed to stimulate the sector.

“Covid-19 has thrown our country into a deep economic hole and we’re now relying on our food and fibre sector to get out of it.

We should be encouraging this sector to grow and maximise its potential but funding has gone backwards. With farmers and growers across the country experiencing the worst drought in living memory this season, it’s disappointing to see no significant investment in water storage,” he says. . .

Farmers want new house rules – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy industry leaders have asked the Government to amend its covid-19 ban on landlords evicting tenants after reports of dairy staff exploiting the rules by refusing to leave supplied housing as the season draws to a close.

As a result, new staff moving onto the farms can’t move into the houses in time for the new milking season in June.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said the circumstances usually involve a staff member who was exiting dairying when the new rules became law. . .

High country – isolation goes with the territory – Kerrie Waterworth:

Adjusting to the isolation of Covid-19 restrictions has been difficult for many urban dwellers but for families on high country stations isolation goes with the territory.

Duncan and Allannah McRae run Alpha Burn Station, a 4519ha high country beef, sheep and deer farm at Glendhu Bay, 15 minutes drive west from Wanaka.

Before the Covid-19 crisis their two sons, Archie (15) and Riley (13), were at boarding school in Dunedin but they had returned home and were learning online.

Mrs McRae said both she and her daughter, Hazel (10), have had to adjust to having the two big boys back in the house. . . 

Taratahi might host short courses – Neal Wallace:

The Taratahi campus could again be training young people, albeit for short-term courses introducing prospective students to agricultural careers and proviing extra skills for existing workers.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Social Development are considering funding DairyNZ to develop and deliver three-week industry familiarisation programmes at the Wairarapa facility.

The future of the campus has been in limbo since the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was put in liquidation in December 2018. . .

Want safe affordable food? Reward those who produce it – Peter Mailler;

The world is certainly a paradise for anyone looking for an issue to express an opinion about this week, but I want to take a different approach.

Rather than trotting out my take on the barley tariffs issue and the complete insanity that is diplomacy with China by media, I thought I would try to foster a discussion on an earlier opinion published in The Gauge section and constructively contest some ideas around an issue that I think goes to the core of how the agricultural sector presents itself to the rest of the country. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 31, 2020

Resuscitating a virus-ravaged economy – the answer lies in the soil and the exports it generates – Point of Order:

Westpac is forecasting 200,000 jobs will be lost in NZ as a result of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Chief economist Dominick Stephens estimates economic activity during the four week lock-down would decline by a third, despite the government and the Reserve Bank having “done a lot to calm financial markets”.

Stephens said his feeling was that GDP in the three months to June would fall by more than 10%— “which is completely unprecedented in our lifetimes”.

The  Westpac  diagnosis  reinforces  the argument  advanced  by  Point of   Order   in  one of  its most intently  read  posts:  “After the lock-down the  economy’s  recovery  will be  dependent on dairy farmers and  their  milk”. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: It’s essential that agriculture does its bit – Chris Lewis:

To beat Covid-19 those working on the land must do their bit on-farm and off, writes Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis.

Just like our hard working medical and emergency services, communications and infrastructure teams, the next four weeks will see farmers and their supporting services continuing to work while most of the country is locked down.

Being away from the high populations of our urban centres is an advantage in a time when we need to limit people contact and for many, business on the farm will largely feel like usual.

But for all of us to beat this, those working on the land must do their bit on the farm and off. . . 

Protocols present harvest challenges – Richard Rennie:

As Covid-19 protocols for essential industry staff become clearer, the kiwifruit sector is facing some tough decisions on how realistic they will prove for this year’s harvest to be successful.

Growers have only one day to go for registration as an “essential business”, and all growers and contractors with over five staff will be required to be registered with Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). 

Businesses have until 5pm on Friday March 27 to be registered.

Doug Brown NZKGI chairman said he could not reiterate enough the importance of registering under Level 4 Covid-19 rules. . . 

 

Whanganui meat business Coastal Spring Lamb wins another food award – Laurel Stowell :

A second food award is a ray of sunshine amid a time of drought and pandemic for Turakina farmer Richard Redmayne.

He founded and, with farming partners, owns the Coastal Spring Lamb brand. Its lamb backstraps have won a gold medal in the Outstanding New Zealand Food Producers Awards, announced on March 24. Other gold winners in the category were beef and chicken products, and eggs.

The awards are judged 75 per cent on taste, 15 per cent on sustainability and 10 per cent on brand. Judges said the lamb backstraps were “a real class act”, with sustainability built in, consideration for animal welfare and care for the land. . . 

Raw milk rings alarm bells – Richard Rennie:

The increasingly popular and often controversial choice to drink raw milk has had alarm bells ringing among public health officials in recent years. Richard Rennie spoke to veterinarian and researcher Genevieve Davys about her work with Massey University disease experts on the link between raw milk and campylobacter.

Research has revealed children under 10 are most likely to contract campylobacter disease by drinking raw milk and account for 29% of the raw milk-related cases notified in the MidCentral Health district from 2012 to 2017.

The study collected data on all cases of campylobacter notified in that period. It then dug deeper into raw milk campylobacteriosis cases, comparing the demographics of them to other campylobacter cases where raw milk was not drunk.

Raw milk was linked to almost 8% of the notified cases.  . . 

New protocols to keep the shears clicking during the coronavirus emergency – Vernon Graham:

Shearers and shed hands should travel to work in separate vehicles, according to new wool harvesting protocols.

They should only travel together if the vehicle (eg, a bus) is big enough to allow the recommended 1.5 metres spacing between them.

The protocols have been developed in a collaboration between AWEX, WoolProducers Australia, Sheep Producers Australia, the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia and the WA Shearing Industry Association. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 25, 2020

Farmers urged to continue producing food:

New Zealand farmers are being urged to carry on producing food while respecting coronavirus guidelines issued by the Government.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says farming is classified as an essential service, so is milk and meat processing.

Lewis says that meat and dairy companies will continue to operate as the country moves into the highest level of alert for coronavirus from midnight Wednesday. . . 

Coronavirus: Farmers’ mental health important says Katie Milne -:

Farmers may be used to isolation but they still need to take care of their mental health says Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

As efforts to slow the Covid-19 outbreak escalate in New Zealand, people are being asked to stay home and keep their distance from others, while social gatherings and events have been also cancelled.

As a result, farmers may find themselves cut off from everyday rural events that afford them much-needed social interaction, such as rugby games and catch ups at the pub. . . 

Friendly solution to farm water issues – Richard Davison:

A farmer-led catchment monitoring group wants to expand its activities following a successful first year.

In 2014, the Pathway for the Pomahaka water quality improvement project was launched in West Otago, which led to the establishment of the Pomahaka Water Care Group.

Last February, the award-winning group launched the latest phase of its action plan, in the shape of a ‘‘Best Practice Team’’ of 12 volunteers, set up to provide ‘‘self-policing’’ of water quality compliance among the catchment’s about 600 farms.

Team co-ordinator Bryce McKenzie — who farms 700 cows on 320ha adjoining the Pomahaka River — said the concept had worked well during its inaugural year. . . 

Westland Milk unveils Covid-19 strategy:

Westland Milk Products says Covid-19 is causing “minimal disruption” to its supply chains, with the company working to meet rising demand from China.

The second-largest dairy enterprise in New Zealand says domestic demand for its product range is also remaining consistent.

To keep up with demand in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company this morning announced that it is issuing measures to keep staff well and the factory running. . . 

Research reveals fodder beet value – Annette Scott:

New research into fodder beet shows portion control is critical to ensure safe feeding to dairy cows.

Fodder beet is widely used on South Island dairy farms as a versatile, high-energy, high-yield crop that allows cows to put on body condition quickly, if transitioned correctly. 

“This makes it an attractive option for farmers but because of the high sugar content careful transitioning onto the crop is critical,” DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said.

The Sustainable Use of Fodder Beet research project confirms the crop can be a key part of dairy farm systems. . . 

 

Butchers run off their feet – and it’s not expected to ease – Shan Goodwin:

As butchers report they are now mincing higher value cuts like rump to keep up with astronomical demand, marketing experts and psychologists suggest empty red meat supermarket shelves are likely to be around for months.

It’s not that Australia will run out of beef. Export and food service orders are already being diverted to retail cabinets.

Rather, the unfolding dynamics of consumer behaviour amid the virus crisis indicates the inclination to fill freezers won’t fade. . . 


Rural round-up

March 18, 2020

Be quick for worker visas :

Dairy farmers relying on migrant labour for the new milking season should get their visa paperwork in early because of expected delays caused by coronavirus.

The disease continues to spread around the globe. In the Philippines, which the dairy industry relies on as a pool of labour, there were 33 confirmed cases the past week with president Rodrigo Duterte declaring a public health emergency on March 10.

Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis said while he appreciates it is an evolving issue, delays in processing visas have big implications for the workers’ families as well as the wider dairy industry heading into calving in July and August. . .

National Fieldays won’t be going ahead in June – Business Desk and Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand’s National Fieldays – billed as the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere – won’t be going ahead in June due to the covid-19 outbreak.

“As this is an unprecedented environment we request the time between now and March 31 to present our loyal and longstanding exhibitors and stakeholders with potential options for preserving this event,” Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation said in an email to stakeholders. . .

‘Mystical product’ casts a spell on Wine Master to be – Tracy Neal:

A Marlborough wine maker is about to become one of only a few hundred Masters of Wine in the world, and one of a handful in New Zealand.

Sophie Parker-Thomson, who is general manager of Blank Canvas Wines she co-owns with her husband Matt Thomson, has the finish line in sight on years of intensive study.

She is now just a few ticks away from joining a league of people fewer in number than have qualified to go into space. . .

Marlborough winery aiming to be herbicide-free by 2025 :

The technical director of a major Marlborough winery says the tide is turning on the use of herbicides in European viticulture and agriculture.

Jim White of Cloudy Bay Wines said the movement was not as strident here in New Zealand, but it was coming, and they wanted to be ahead of the game.

The company is now running trials in its aim to be herbicide-free by 2025, after Winepress reported its parent company Moet Hennessy said its Champagne would have no herbicide by the end of the year. . . 

2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners have found success through their ability to look at the ‘big picture’ and aim to be the employer of choice in the Hauraki district.

Brendan and Tessa Hopson were named the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Karaka Pavilion on Thursday night and won $11,470 in prizes and six merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Daniel Colgan, and the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Crystal Scown. . .

Winners of 2020 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards use past experiences to move forward:

The 2020 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners believe the strength of their fourth-generation pure Jersey herd is their biggest asset and believe it will create further value to their business in the coming years.

Simon and Natasha Wilkes were named the 2020 Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the TSB Hub in Hawera on Saturday night and won $11,746 in prizes and three merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year Branden Darlow, and the 2020 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Sam Dodd. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 6, 2020

Be a good boss and we’re unstoppable – Sudesh Kissun:

A dairy sector made up of good bosses would make us unstoppable, says Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Chris Lewis.

Good bosses would attract workers to dairy farms. “Therefore, the recruitment process would be more competitive and the calibre of those you employed would increase,” he says.

“Your staff would solve more problems, find more opportunities therefore you and your farm business would be more successful.” . . 

Where the big dry really hurts :

It was shaping up to be Bill Cashmore’s best year on the farm with record prices for beef and lamb, but the worst drought he’s ever known has put paid to that.

The deputy mayor of Auckland and his son Robert who runs the 1220-hectare sheep and beef farm in Clevedon, about an hour south east of Auckland’s CBD, will have to make some drastic decisions if no rain comes in the next couple of weeks.

It’s so dry old native trees growing next to a stream are dying and the brown summer grass has turned grey. Cashmore describes it as ‘fried”. . . 

The Golden Shears: Woolly sheep bring sheer excitement to competitors :

The country’s best shearers are gearing up for a busy day of finals today at The Golden Shears in Masterton.

Destiny Paikea, of Ngāti Whātua descent, has qualified for the Junior Shearing Final.

Paikea comes from a long line of shearers and grew up in the West Otago as a wool handler.

She eventually began competing in shearing competitions two years ago. . .

Average Canterbury farmer ‘just treading water’ – Nigel Malthus:

Half of Canterbury dairy farms aren’t operating profitably, says Ashburton farm consultant Jeremy Savage.

“The average Canterbury dairy farmer at the moment is just treading water: that would be the polite way of putting it,” he said.

“And that’s the average. If the average is just treading water there’s a number of dairy farmers . .

Sector comes together to support drought-hit farmers:

Northland Inc’s Extension 350 has combined with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ to provide a reference point for farmers battling to respond to the effects of the worst drought in years.

This is being done by bringing together a number of Northland farmers who will share their responses to the situation via the Northland Inc website, with weekly updates on their current focus and actions.

“This sector-wide collaboration creates an overview to help farmers prioritise their actions, focus on their farms and manage their wellbeing through this extremely stressful period,” said Luke Beehre, Project Lead of Extension 350 (E350), the award-winning farmer-led and farmer-focused programme. . .

Fonterra chairman confirms retirement in October:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) Chairman John Monaghan has confirmed that he will retire as a Director of the Co-operative when his current 3-year term ends at its Annual Meeting this November.

In a note to the Co-operative’s farmer-owners and unitholders, Mr Monaghan explained that his decision was the next step in the Fonterra Board’s development and succession planning.

“After 11 years as a Director, and having seen through the introduction of our new strategy, operating model, and with our debt reduction efforts well progressed, the timing is right for me and for the Co-op. . .

Pāmu welcomes major US investment in ag sector technology:

The investment by major United States company Merck and Co in FarmIQ, is an endorsement of the technology that Pāmu has been championing since the inception of the agri-tech company, Pāmu Chief Executive Steven Carden says.

“This latest investment from a global player in animal health and welfare confirms the vision we had when FarmIQ was started, which was to enable greater productivity by joining up the whole agriculture data ecosystem,” Mr Carden said.

Pāmu holds a 30% shareholding in FarmIQ and is one of its original shareholders and biggest customers. The company has actively championed changes such as the Health and Safety module widely used by FarmIQ customers. . . 

Key kiwifruit operator’s packing and coolstore property for sale while industry booms:

A medium-sized Takanini packhouse and coolstore used exclusively for post-harvest in the $2.9 billion New Zealand kiwifruit industry is on the market for sale and leaseback.

The 7,223 square metre Auckland Pack & Cool (Apac) facility on 1.1 hectares at 149 Phillip Road, Takanini packs and coolstores kiwifruit for export and distribution by the country’s single desk seller Zespri International.

It is one of the kiwifruit industry’s key post-harvest operators, with the resources to pack about 3.5 million trays each season, and a combined on-site and satellite cool storage capacity for 1.75 million trays. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 23, 2020

Farmers, wildlife and residents alike face water shortages as regions dry up fast – Tracy Neal:

Water cuts are looming in pockets of the country drying up fast. 

Councils in affected areas are assembling dry-weather crews, farmers are now giving extra feed to stock, and Northland kiwi birds are now struggling to feed on hard-baked soil, where the dry weather has lingered longer than usual.

Dairy farmer and kiwi conservationist Jane Hutchings said in her 30 years in the area, summer is either saturated by cyclones, or parched dry.

Right now it is the latter, and the kiwi population is struggling. . . 

Farmers’ green tinge growing – Tim Fulton:

Farmers are on a green binge recycling more waste and unwanted products through the Agrecovery scheme than ever before.

Now the Government and agri manufacturers are working on a plan to make industry hitchhikers pay their way.

Agrecovery’s waste collection rates rose 40% in the past couple of years, the animal health and agrichem lobby group Agcarm says.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross said the voluntary returns amount to about 437 tonnes of products, including 11 tonnes of chemicals. The total collected was about half the product in the New Zealand market at any time. . . 

Chinese palate has diverse tastes – Richard Rennie:

Shrink wrapped quail eggs, lifestyle choices and social media are all playing their parts in what and how Chinese will eat heading into the new decade.

Chinese media platform company Radii has analysed latest market trends in the country’s enormous food market as the middle class continues to grow and become a more sophisticated, discerning customer for food imports from the likes of New Zealand.

In its report food journalist Mayura Jain identifies takeout food delivery showing no signs of growth experienced in the past five years slowing down.  . . 

Project aims to give vineyard managers more information in a hail storm – Maja Burry:

Researchers are working to fill the information gap for winegrowers hit by extreme weather events.

The Blenhiem-based Bragato Research Institute has started a two-year project to work out how vineyard managers can best deal with hail storm damage to their vines.

The research follows severe hail in Hawke’s Bay in October last year, which damaged about 600 hectares of vines.

Hail in Central Otago and North Canterbury damaged vines during November. . . 

New market for sunflowers leads to big burst of colour near Timaru– Esther Ashby-Coventry:

It’s hard to miss the stunning burst of yellow in paddocks full of millions of sunflowers just south of Timaru.

They sunflowers may become a five yearly feature on owner Warren Darling’s 70 hectares of land as he takes advantage of a new market.

Usually he grows rape seed, which also produces a radiant yellow display when in flower, as well as wheat and barley, but is now considering sunflowers as part of his crop rotations. . .

Tickets on Sale for Women in Forestry conference:

Tickets are on sale for the Women in Forestry Conference, being held from 30 April – 2 May 2020 in Whangamata.

The Women in Forestry conference will bring together women in the NZ Forestry industry, to connect, learn and share experiences.

The third event of its kind, the conference is organised by the Women in Forestry Network, a grass-roots movement founded to support women in the industry.

Women in Forestry co-founder and General Manager Sarah Davidson says there is a need for more female support in the industry. . .


Rural round-up

January 4, 2020

Nature policies an eco disaster – Jamie McFadden:

When government policy goes wrong it can deliver disastrous consequences. Such is the case with the Government’s climate change policies.

North Canterbury is a stronghold of agriforestry and there are many benefits to having exotic forestry integrated on farms. 

However, like the rural lobby group 50 Shades of Green, we have major concerns about the Government’s climate change policies. If the policy direction continues we will see changes to our landscapes and rural communities of a scale not seen since the land clearance subsidy days pre-1980. . .

Agritech worker raising awareness of diverse careers – Jacob McSweeny:

Working in farming doesn’t always mean driving the tractor, herding the sheep or milking the cows, says Next Farm’s Sammi Stewart. She talks to business reporter Jacob McSweeny about her hopes to inspire younger generations to realise the types of futures available in the agritech sector.

Sammi Stewart wants to get kids back into farming but she does not mean chucking on the gumboots and getting up early to milk the cows.

‘‘I grew up on a farm in Southland so my parents had a sheep and beef farm and when you live in rural Southland you either milk cows or shear sheep,’’ said the brand manager of Dunedin start-up Next Farm. . . .

Top seven must dos for employment contracts – Chris Lewis:

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers employment spokesman, lists his top seven “must-do’s” for farmers when it comes to employment contracts.

Recent legal decisions on employment agreements have highlighted the need for farmers to get the fine print right. Here are my top seven considerations from a farmers’ perspective.

1. Get an agreement in place

The first priority is to get a written employment agreement in place to begin with for every employee, even for casual and part time workers. This should outline the terms and conditions of employment fully, be provided to the employee before they start work, and be agreed upon and signed by both parties. . .

Taranaki rural woman Margaret Vickers is a Member of Excellence – Ilona Hanne:

Margaret Vickers is excellent.

That’s official now, as she was formally enrolled as a Member of Excellence of Rural Women New Zealand last year.

Margaret’s years of service to the organisation were recognised when she was enrolled as a Member of Honour and presented with the Olive Craig Tray in recognition of her dedication and commitment.

Only two women received this honour in 2019, and Margaret says it is still only just sinking in as to quite how special the honour is. . . 

Oamaru Meats to resume operations next week – Jacob McSweeny:

Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) is set to open again a week into the new year, after a suspension in the China market forced its closure in September.

The factory will open its doors again on Monday.

The suspension came after some beef fat packaging was not up to standard.

The closure put 160 seasonal workers out of work and OML director, Richard Thorp, said it was likely most of them would return.

‘‘I think for this start-up period it won’t be a lot different. There’ll be about 140 to 150 people employed on the site come the sixth. . .

 

The EU’s absurd risk aversion stifles new ideas – Matt Ridley:

With tariffs announced against Brazil and Argentina, and a threat against France, Donald Trump is dragging the world deeper into a damaging trade war. Largely unnoticed, the European Union is also in trouble at the World Trade Organisation for its continuing and worsening record as a protectionist bloc.

Last month, at the WTO meeting in Geneva, India joined a list of countries including Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Malaysia that have lodged formal complaints against the EU over barriers to agricultural imports. Not only does the EU raise hefty tariffs against crops such as rice and oranges to protect subsidised European farmers; it also uses health and safety rules to block imports. The irony is that these are often dressed up as precautionary measures against health and environmental threats, when in fact they are sometimes preventing Europeans from gaining health and environmental benefits.

The WTO complaints accuse the EU of “unnecessarily and inappropriately” restricting trade through regulatory barriers on pesticide residues that violate international scientific standards and the “principle of evidence”. Worse, they say, “it appears that the EU is unilaterally attempting to impose its own domestic regulatory approach on to its trading partners”, disproportionately harming farmers in the developing nations whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. . . 


Rural round-up

December 19, 2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly – 2019 in review:

As we approach another year’s end we again highlight our annual review of 2019 in the primary sector as seen by Rural News’ editorial team.

THE GOOD

Good messaging award: Dairy Women’s Network’s new chief executive Jules Benton for her clear, confident and articulate communication of the network’s aims and aspirations, but in a real and down-to-earth manner.

Celebrating success: A lot of excellent events and conferences this year with a focus on celebrating the success of old and young people. The Massey Ag students’ dinner is a great example of this where some very smart future leaders come to the fore. The same for the Ahuwhenua Awards where Maori agri success is also celebrated in style. Feds, HortNZ and the dairy industry and others all did their bit to show NZ that the ag sector is well placed for the future.  . .

Phosphate vital, industry says – Brent Melville:

With the recent spotlight on importation of phosphate sourced in the Western Sahara into New Zealand, Brent Melville takes a closer look at the phosphate issue and why we rely on it for our food production.

Blocking  the importation of phosphate into New Zealand could have a $10 billion knock-on effect into the country’s food production and export sector, the fertiliser industry says.

The industry, dominated by the farmer co-operative duopoly of Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said without access to phosphate rock, rural production would fall by “at least” 50%.

Phosphate rock is the key ingredient in the country’s production of superphosphate, used primarily as a nutrient by sheep and beef and dairy farmers to boost phosphorus and sulphur levels in the soil. . . 

Land champion: it’s hard to find time to retire – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers high country champion Bob Douglas has contributed to the smooth running of South Island high country farming businesses for 25 years but next year his visits to the back of beyond will be as a tourist. He talked to Annette Scott about his high country office.

Endless dedication to Federated Farmers high country business will come to an end for Bob Douglas in the next few weeks.

By the end of January the South Canterbury Feds stalwart will be waking each morning to a new life.

“And it will be one that will now mean when I go to the high country it will be as a tourist,” Bob said. . . 

Migrant workers worth the effort :

Waikato farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says employing migrant workers isn’t always easy but is worth the investment.

Experience has shown me what works best. I could talk about this for hours but I will summarise some of the lessons here.

Employing migrants is not the cheap option for New Zealand dairy farmers. In fact, generally, it will cost you more but it is worth it in the long run.

Firstly, you might need some professional help dealing with Immigration NZ once you’ve found a migrant worker to employ. That will generally cost you $1600-$2000. Visa fees cost about $500 . . 

Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease:

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin. . . 

EPA’s Annual Report on aerial use of 1080 released:

The 2018 report on the aerial use of 1080 for pest control provides greater detail than previous years, giving more information on operations and research.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Annual Report on the aerial use of 1080 during 2018 shows a near halving of activity compared with the previous year, in terms of both the number of operations and total area treated.

There were 29 operations covering 441,000 hectares of land, compared with 50 operations across 877,000 hectares in 2017. This was due to the Department of Conservation (DOC) using less 1080, as there were no mast events in New Zealand’s forests. Heavy seed fall seasons (known as masts) drive rat populations up, threatening native species. . . 


Rural round-up

November 14, 2019

Saving us from ourselves – John Jackson:

The Government’s policy to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand is working directly against the goals of the Paris Accord.

NZ’s pastoral farming is a low emissions process.

Studies published in the NZ Crown Research Institute (CRI) assessment of agricultural production systems the world over show NZ is “head and shoulders” above its competitors.

This goes well beyond our on farm production. With regard to NZ lamb sold in the UK, ocean shipping made up 5% of the final product’s carbon cost – voiding the belief that meat produced on this side of the world is environmentally unsustainable.  . .

Action groups motivate farmers – Richard Rennie:

Working together to gain access to high-level agriculture and business expertise is already leading to efficiency gains for a group of Hawke’s Bay farmers, rural consultant Sean Bennett says.

Bennett facilitates two Red Meat Profit Partnership action groups and is working with farmers to set up several more. 

The RMPP action network supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses working together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help make positive on-farm changes. Kick-start funding of $4000 a farm is pooled to fund facilitation and expertise. . .

Independent dairy companies offer farmers an attractive option – Gerard Hutching:

Ask a New Zealander to name a dairy company and the one they are certain to come up with is Fonterra.

But beyond that, many would be stumped for an answer. There are in fact at least a score of independents, processing 18 per cent of New Zealand milk, a share that has steadily increased over the 18 years Fonterra has been in existence.

Open Country Dairy (OCD) farmer supplier Chris Lewis speaks for many when he says farmers opt for an independent over Fonterra because it’s an easier way to get ahead. . . 

He’s just mad about saffron – Nigel Malthus:

“I always reckoned you could make a living off 10 acres,” says Canterbury saffron grower Geoff Slater.

“I think if you get the right products you definitely can.”

For Slater and his wife Jude, their 10-acre (4ha) slice of paradise at Eyrewell, north of the Waimakariri River, is where they are building a multi-faceted business trading under the Canterbury Saffron banner. . .

Council role review a priority – Neal Wallace:

New Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman James Barron promises a review of the council’s role will be completed by the co-operative’s next annual meeting.

The council’s priority will be a review of its role while contributing to discussion on the co-operative’s capital structure and new strategy.

Barron is a fourth-generation farmer milking 450 cows on the 140ha dairy farm he grew up on, on the banks of the Waihou River south of Matamata.

He replaces Duncan Coull who has retired after four and a half years. . . 

Artisan cheesemakers unite – Catherine Donnelly:

An excerpt from ‘Ending the War on Artisan Cheese,’ a new book that exposes government actions that limit food choice under the guise of food safety.

Over the past 35 years, the US Food and Drug Administration has pushed for a mandatory requirement for the use of pasteurized milk in cheesemaking, claiming a public health risk for raw milk cheese. This scenario is playing out abroad as well, where creameries are collapsing because they can’t comply with EU health ordinances. In her new book, Ending the War on Artisan Cheese (Chelsea Green Publishing, November 2019), Catherine Donnelly defends traditional cheesemaking and exposes overreaching government actions that limit food choice under the guise of food safety. The following excerpt explains how the loss of artisan cheese is tantamount to the loss of culture. 

American artisan cheese has become mainstream, providing big business for retailers such as Whole Foods, Costco, Wegmans, Murray’s Cheese (now owned by Kroger), and others. Despite the success enjoyed by US artisan cheesemakers and the meteoric rise of artisan cheese production, the American artisan cheese industry faces an existential threat: regulatory overreach. . . 


Water woes not just rural

September 19, 2019

It’s not just farmers who are facing huge costs from the government’s proposed freshwater strategy.

. . .Rural residents are showing up in their hundreds to public meetings about the scheme, despite it being the busiest time of year for them. But on the whole townies don’t seem to be so aware of the proposals, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

“This package affects urban – our city cousins, as much as it does farmers. This is going to be huge, this is not just a farming package.

“The fact that it affects councils [means] everyone needs to understand that it’s a big undertaking and it’s going to cost a lot of money, so expect rates to go up.”

The package announced on 5 September includes plans to improve the health of waterways, such as national standards for managing stormwater and wastewater, and tighter controls on urban development. . . 

What will this do to the government’s purported aim of solving the housing shortage? Tighter controls on urban development will add costs to building and reduce the supply of new houses.

Engineer and clean water advocate Greg Carlyon has previously told RNZ the changes were likely to cost “many many billions”.

These costs include those from what has to be done to meet new standards and loss of production; the army of advisors who will be needed as well as more compliance officers and council staff.

Anti-farming activists have highlighted the impact animals and chemicals can have on rural waterways. There’s been very little attention paid to urban run-off . The more concrete and tar seal, the more people and pets, and the more vehicles there are, the more run-off there will be and the more detrimental the impact on water quality.

A lot of towns and cities also have inferior sewer and stormwater systems the upgrading of which to meet the proposed standards will be very, very expensive.

We all want clean water but the answers to the questions of how clean and at what cost won’t just impact farmers. They will add constraints and costs to urban activities and increase council rates for us all.

If any candidates for council elections are promising no rates increases, ask them have they taken into account the cost of meeting the requirements of the freshwater policy and if so what services will they be cutting to ensure rates don’t rise.


More immigration isn’t what they campaigned on

September 18, 2019

The government has announced changes to immigration policy with a streamlined temporary work visa.

It’s been greeted positively by Federated Farmers:

“Our message that workforce and related problems experienced by the big cities are not necessarily those experienced in the provinces has  been taken on board – we congratulate the government,” Feds employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“The changes will help ensure farmers and others can more easily employ migrants when they need them, and when the options for taking on and training suitable New Zealanders are exhausted.”

By ditching the ANZSCO skill level classifications, there is much greater scope for a migrant worker to achieve career progression on our farms.

“The changes incentivise farmers to invest in training and supporting migrant employees because there’s a greater chance of keeping them than currently exists.

It’s such a waste of time and effort to train people only to have them forced to leave the country when their visas run out.

“We also acknowledge the government for its compassionate and pragmatic approach in reinstating the family entitlement for lower skilled visa holders.  The migrant worker’s children can be educated here, and their partner can get an open work visa,” Lewis said.

“It’s a positive for rural communities to have settled and content families, not just single men who may well be sending all their money home to their family.”

It’s far better to have families together here, participating in the community, than to separate them with the worker isolated and sending money home.

The government has indicated the dairy industry is a likely early target group for one of the new sector agreements, containing specific terms and conditions for recruiting foreign workers.

“Federated Farmers looks forward to working with other Team Ag  partners and the government to help get this sector agreement right,” Lewis said.

DairyNZ and the tourism industry are among others who are pleased with the changes and I agree with them.

Unemployment levels are low throughout New Zealand and out of the main centres are down to the unemployable. It is at least difficult, and often impossible, to get locals who are capable of working on farms, orchards, hospitality and tourism in the regions.

But what do all the people who voted for the governing parties, Labour NZ First and the Green Party think?

All three parties criticised immigration levels when they were in opposition and campaigned on cutting it back.

We can be grateful that now the anti-immigration rhetoric has met the reality of worker shortages it’s the voters who believed the talk who are disappointed but businesses will find it easier to get the staff they need.


Rural round-up

September 13, 2019

Hey government let’s K.I.S.S. – Rowena Duncum:

The Essential Freshwater Package has Rowena Duncum wishing the Government would stick to the Keep It Simple Stupid method.

Look, I usually steer clear of voicing political opinions, but to be honest, I’ve lost a lot of sleep this past week.

Here we are one week on from the big water policy announcement and I don’t see that abating anytime soon.

In the last seven days, we’ve heard a range of opinions. Some good, balanced and considered. Some in the extreme for opposing sides of the spectrum. . .

Big processors pursuing staged transition – Brent Melville:

Weaning New Zealand’s primary sector off fossil fuels could cost the industry and the agri-sector hundreds of millions of dollars.

Alliance Group, the country’s second-largest meat exporter and largest lamb processor, confirmed it would be ending the use of coal at all of its seven plants within 10 years and was at present examining other fuel options across its network.

It had budgeted capital expenditure of $60 million-$70 million for the transition, it told a select committee hearing on the Zero Carbon Bill in Dunedin yesterday.

David Surveyor, chief executive of Alliance Group, said energy requirements were sourced across a range of fuels. “Levin and Dannevirke operate on natural gas, Nelson utilises diesel, while Smithfield in Timaru, Pukeuri in Oamaru and Mataura and Lorneville in Southland use coal.” . . .

They’re fishing for the future – Neal Wallace:

The desire to remove the ticket-clipping middlemen is not confined to dairy and meat farmers wanting to get closer to their markets and earn higher prices. It is a path being followed by Bluff fisherman Nate Smith but, he tells Neal Wallace, he has another motive for supplying fish direct to customers.

Did I want to go fishing, Nate Smith asked from the wheelhouse of his boat Gravity. 

He was catching only enough blue cod to fill a small order and the at-times turbulent Foveaux Strait was flat, he added reassuringly.

That brief exchange revealed plenty about Smith and his business, Gravity Fishing. . . 

New life-members for North Otago A&P – Sally Brooker:

The North Otago A&P Association has two new life members.

At its recent annual meeting, the association acknowledged the years of service given by John Dodd and Murray Isbister.

Mr Dodd, who farms at Tapui, has been involved with the organisation since the late 1980s. He was its president in 2000 and nowadays is convener of the sheep section.

He said there were still people who were willing to go along to judge the sheep at each A&P show. They seemed to enjoy the camaraderie that went with the role, often meeting up with sheep farming colleagues from across the country who also did the rounds of the shows. . .

 

New Zealand Wood Industry – Zero Carbon – And We Can Prove It:

If New Zealand’s ambition is to be a zero carbon economy by 2050 then it must nurture its wood industry. Many industries claim to be driving towards lower emissions but none have the low carbon profile of the wood sector. The WPMA Chair, Brian Stanley, says; “no other major industry in New Zealand can deliver carbon sequestration, carbon storage and emissions reduction like the wood industry”. Mr Stanley adds, “….and the industry now has independent, third-party certification extending right from the forest to the marketplace to prove that our wood-based packaging and construction products do the right thing by the environment. Our customers in New Zealand and overseas expect no less”.

Last night in Rotorua, WPMA highlighted that both major international certification programmes for forestry: Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification and Forest Stewardship Council guarantee that wood products from New Zealand come from sustainably-managed forests. In addition to this, WPMA has just launched its Environmental Product Declarations for wood products.  . . 

New fungicide approved for use on cereal crops

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved an application to import a new fungicide, Vimoy Iblon, into New Zealand, for use on cereal crops.

The applicant, Bayer, intends to market the fungicide to farmers as a means of controlling a range of diseases including scald and net blotch in barley, leaf rust in barley and wheat, stripe rust in wheat and wheat-rye hybrid triticale, speckled leaf blotch in wheat and stem rust in ryegrass crops.

New Zealand is the first country to approve the use of a new active ingredient contained in Vimoy Iblon – isoflucypram. . . 


Rural round-up

September 8, 2019

Who needs the Greens when Labour hates farmers this much? – Mike Hosking:

Here’s the irony of David Parker. Parker was once the Minister of Economic Development and is currently the Minister of Trade and Export Growth – and yet he has done more than anyone these past two weeks to achieve exactly the opposite.

It was Parker who stopped the hydro dam on the West Coast despite every council, three of them, iwi, the Department of Conservation and 90 per cent of Coasters all being for it.

And now he’s put out water regulations that may as well come with the headline ‘we hate farmers’.

Tim Mackle’s piece in the Herald on this subject is excellent. It basically starts with him wistfully remembering a time when farmers were liked. Well I have a message to rural New Zealand: you still are, at least by people like me, realists who understand the energy, effort, and risk required to do what you do. . . 

The waters are rising on farming – Kerry Worsnop:

The release of the Essential Freshwater Report, ‘Action for Healthy Waterways’ will undoubtable add further turbulence to an already stormy torrent of proposed Central Government policy effecting Regional Councils and land based industries.

The report’s stated intention is to ‘stop the further degradation of New Zealand’s Freshwater resources and start making immediate improvements so that water quality is materially improving within 5 years’.  The reference to immediacy is no idle threat, with Regional Councils being expected to comply with many of the proposals by June 2020.

No one can argue with the intent of the report, and few would negate the importance of prioritising our greatest natural resource, however the scope and likely implications of the report will be a topic of much discussion in the coming weeks and months. . .

Forgotten aspects of water – Mike Chapman . .

The Government released its consultation on freshwater this week (click here).  We are now busy analysing it in detail and it is really too early to reach a view about the ultimate impact, especially before the consultation. 

Two of the background documents also released make interesting reading and provide insight into the thinking behind these proposals.  Te Kāhui Wai’s recommendations are strident.  They go to the core of the water issues facing New Zealand including: iwi/hapu water rights, a moratorium on additional discharges for the next 10 years, establishing a Te Mana o te Wai Commission, and developing a new water allocation system that conforms with iwi/hapu rights and obligations. 

The Freshwater Leaders Group’s recommendations include: bringing our water resources to a healthy state within a generation, taking immediate steps to stop our water becoming worse, and achieving an efficient and fair allocation system.  They also recommend an immediate stop to poor agricultural and forestry practices, and a complete halt to the loss of wetlands.  In summary, the reports are very similar in the outcomes they are seeking – immediate action to stop further degradation.

In all I’ve read, missing is how much water New Zealand gets each year and how much use we make of that water.  NIWA figures show that 80% of our water flows out to sea, 18% evaporates and only 2% is used.  My point is that there is more than enough water for everyone.  The problem is we are not being smart in our use of water and we are not planning for the impact of climate change – long dry summers.  . . .

Time for change – Neal Wallace:

A one-size-fits-all approach to freshwater management will penalise farmers shrinking their environment footprint, Beef + Lamb chairman Andrew Morrison says.

Farmers, like everyone, want clean, fresh water but the blanket regulatory approach in the Government’s Action for Health Waterways discussion document lumps those who have cut their footprint with those who haven’t.

Federated Farmers’ reaction was scathing.

Water spokesman Chris Allan said proposed nitrogen reduction targets of 80% mean farming will cease in large parts of rural New Zealand. . .

Fonterra’s clean-out is overdue – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholder with the largest number of shares believes the co-operative’s house cleaning and write-downs are absolutely necessary and overdue.

Former director Colin Armer, who with his wife Dale has 10 million supply shares, says over-valued assets mean farmers sharing-up in the past four years paid too much.

He has made a formal complaint to the Financial Markets Authority over inconsistent valuations and executive performance payments. . .

Irrigating farmers record better enviro audit grades – Nigel Malthus:

Irrigating farmers in the Amuri district in North Canterbury are continuing to record improved environmental performance.

The latest round of Farm Environment Plan audits by the Amuri Irrigation Environmental Collective have given 97% of the farmers collective A or B grades, the remaining 3% a C grade and none a D.

That contrasts with 20% rated as C and 6% as D in the first round of collective audits four years ago. . .


Rural round-up

August 16, 2019

Climate experts flat out lying – Andrew Stewart:

An open letter to our Government and the farming leaders of New Zealand.

For the first time in my farming career, which spans 16 years as an owner and a lifetime on the same farm, I find myself doubting whether I would consider encouraging my two daughters into the agricultural profession. 

This negativity has been created by proposed regulations regarding climate change and how we as farmers will have to cope with it and ultimately pay for it. 

Luckily, my children are still young, at seven and four, and I can only hope I still have the time to help rectify this situation before it is too late.

I am writing this as a response to the bombardment of information that has spewed forth in the past couple of weeks regarding climate change obligations in agriculture.  . . 

Bankers circling? Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers are urging banks to take a long term view of their businesses, now under growing pressure to improve their balance sheets.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says some farmers feel they are facing “a banking crisis” because of relentless pressure from banks.

While ultimately farmers must ‘own’ their individual financial positions, Lewis says banks need to go easy.

“They must take the long term view that dairying is a profitable business,” he told Rural News. . . 

Kiwi Climatology: Land of the Long White Clods – Walter Starck:

The science, technology and economics relevant to the possibility of a catastrophic impact on global climate from use of fossil fuels is vast and complex. Vanishingly few persons can spend the time necessary to begin to appreciate the uncertainties, conflicting information and outright misinformation being promulgated.  Unfortunately, we are taught and expected to have an opinion on everything no matter how little we actually know about it and the climate change meme has proliferated into an epidemic conviction of which the chattering classes in particular appear to have little or no resistance.

As professional opinion leaders, politicians seem to be especially susceptible, to the point of engaging in what in effect have become competitive displays of ignorance about climate change. A current example is the recent initiative of the New Zealand government to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  For a start, NZ accounts for about 0.1 per cent (i.e. one-thousandth) of global emissions. Over 80 per cent of their electrical power comes from renewable energy, mainly hydro and geothermal. Their per capita CO2 emissions are among the lowest in the developed world and natural uptakes make them a net CO2 sink. . .

Tougher animal system rolled out after critical report

Changes to New Zealand’s animal tracking system are starting to be rolled out after a report released last year identified a raft of issues with the scheme.

Lax compliance with the National Animal Identification and Tracing, or NAIT, system by some farmers has been blamed for the spread of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Officials complained they sometimes could not find out which animals had been moved or which calves had been born to which cow. . .

Boffins race stink bug’s spread – Richard Rennie:

The spectacular, soaring peaks around Trento on the edge of the Dolomites in northern Italy shelter a glacial valley that has become the fruit bowl of Europe over the past 50 years. But the region is under siege from advancing hordes of brown marmorated stink bugs threatening growers’ futures. The bug’s speed in establishing and its effect on crops provide a chilling insight to what it could inflict in New Zealand should it ever become established here. Farmers Weekly journalist Richard Rennie visited the region to learn more about the bug’s effect and efforts to deal with it.

New Zealand and Italian researchers at the Foundazione Edmund Mach Research Centre near Trento in Italy are on the front line trying to halt the advance of the brown marmorated stink bug rapidly wreaking havoc on crops. 

“This year we have trapped 10 times the number of bugs we did last year and it was only identified here in 2016,” centre head Professor Claudio Ioriatti said.

“The first reports of crop damage came quickly the following year in 2017 and now growers are having to spray heavily to try and slow the bug’s advance.” . . .

More people to shun plant-based ‘milk’ thanks to campaign :

More than one in ten people will now shun plant-based ‘milk’ substitutes following a major dairy campaign highlighting the benefits of real milk.

11% more young parents are certain to buy dairy products according to research carried out after the second year of AHDB and Dairy UK’s campaign.

The study showed an 8% fall in the number of people cutting their dairy consumption now or in the future.

It also showed an 11% reduction in intentions to consume plant-based substitutes. . .

‘Farmers are being bullied over misplaced anti-meat focus of climate change debate’, union leader says – Ben Barnett:

Farmers are being made to feel “isolated” and “terrorised” because of a deeply flawed approach to tackling climate change, according to the industry’s union leader.

Minette Batters has accused a “metropolitan elite” of bullying farmers by focusing on meat-eating alone to tackle climate change.

The president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), posting on social media, said some sections of the media were “destroying lives” by their portrayal of farming’s contribution to climate change. . . 


Rural round-up

August 3, 2019

NZ Centre for Political Research: A sacrificial lamb – Dr Muriel Newman:

The PM’s plan is to put so much pressure on farmers that she will drive them out of business, just as occurred in the coal industry, and oil and gas.

In a speech to state sector workers and children in Melbourne, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described a period of economic turmoil in New Zealand: “Starting in 1984, through to the 1990s, we removed regulations that were said to hamper business, slashed subsidies, transformed the tax system, dramatically cut public spending … “

She questioned whether the reforms were really necessary, then added, “I was a child back then, but I remember clearly how society changed. I remember nothing of Rogernomics of course — I was five. But I do remember the human face.”. . .

Allan Barber challenges Shane Jones to consider the unintended consequences of his headlong rush into forestry, as well as to disclose where all these logs or added value timber will be sold – Allan Barber:

There’s an irony about the combination of the Provincial Growth Fund funded one billion trees programme, sheep and beef land being sold without needing Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval for conversion to forestry, the sharp fall in Chinese log prices, and Shane Jones ranting about log traders being intoxicated by high prices.

According to Jones, these log traders should have supported the domestic timber processing industry, although it’s not immediately obvious how domestic sales would have compensated for log exports to China which exceeded $3 billion over 12 months.

The history of tree planting, well before it was seen as essential for meeting greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) targets, is no different from any other commodity. After an exciting start too much of anything inevitably provokes indigestion; think oil, dairy, sheep meat, wool, angora, alpacas, logs – you name it, there is always a cycle; the world may even turn away from New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc one day. China features strongly as a market which has a habit of dominating purchasing patterns, driving prices up before turning the tap off, although this was more of an issue when the state rigidly controlled all purchasing. . . 

Growers slam ‘very clunky’ process for claiming fuel tax rebates – Maja Burry:

Some growers say they are being left out of pocket by Auckland’s regional fuel tax because there is no simple way to claim back for on-farm vehicles and machinery.

The 11.5 cents-a-litre regional fuel tax was introduced last July to fund transport projects around the region. It is expected to raise $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

A rebate system, overseen by the Transport Agency, is meant to help growers and farmers claim back for on-farm vehicles and machinery.

Brendan Balle of Pukekohe-based Balle Brothers helps run a family-owned market garden business which employs about 300 staff. . . 

Northland dairy farmers win top milk award for fifth year running –  Susan Botting:

Producing top-of-the-line milk from 6000-plus dairy herd milkings over five years has earned Far North dairy farmers Terrence and Suzanne Brocx a dairy industry acknowledgement.

The Puketi couple have this year won a Fonterra award acknowledging their top-of-the-line milk production — for a fifth consecutive year.

Milk from the 2018-19 dairy season on their Puketi and Ohaeawai farms has this winter been awarded a Fonterra gold standard “grade-free” quality award, adding to four previous annual awards of the same type. This means all of the milk produced on their two farms since 2014 has reached the dairy co-operative’s highest gold standard quality standards. . . 

Stink bug warning to importers:

Biosecurity New Zealand has sent a stark message to shippers, agents, and importers that imported cargo must meet new rules intended to keep brown marmorated stink bugs out of New Zealand.

“The importing industry needs to be aware that high-risk cargo that hasn’t been treated before arrival will not be allowed to come ashore in most instances,” says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Paul Hallett.

“The aim is to keep out a highly invasive pest that could devastate New Zealand’s horticulture industry if it established here.” 

Biosecurity New Zealand formally issued new import rules on 22 July. They require off-shore treatment of imported vehicles, machinery, and parts from 33 identified risk countries, and all sea containers from Italy during the stink bug season.

In the past, only uncontainerised vehicle cargo from risk countries required treatment before arriving in New Zealand. . . 

Hunters have their sites on a shareholding in a stunning high country shooting and fishing station:

Avid big-game hunters and trout anglers are being lined up as potential shareholders in a remote South Island high country partnership on the market for sale.

Shares are being sold in the land and buildings at the Miners Creek high-country station some 13 kilometres west of the Central Otago township of Ettrick.

The 513-hectare freehold property is located on the Mount Benger Range adjacent to the Department of Conservation’s Mount Benger Reserve. Combined, the two landholdings are home to red stags on its stark hills and brown trout in its pristine rivers. . . 


Milk comes from udders not nuts

August 1, 2019

Federated Farmers might ask the government to get tougher on the use of dairy and meat terms for plant-based products, if similar moves overseas are successful.

In Europe, legislation is being considered that would restrict the use of descriptions like pattie and steak to apply only to products containing meat and not to vegetarian alternatives.

The case for this, with those examples, isn’t clear-cut.

Pattie applies to a recipe that can be used for a variety of ingredients including whitebait and vegetables; and steak is a cut that applies to both meat and fish, though not traditionally vegetables.

Australian dairy farmers are also seeking to restrict the term to bovine dairy products.

Federated Farmers dairy spokesperson Chris Lewis said it was closely watching what was happening overseas.

“We’ll support our farmers worldwide in their efforts to bring [about] … fair labelling and if they get success we’ll have a chat with out Minister of Ag [agriculture] and engage with him,” Mr Lewis said.

While it was up to consumers to choose what they buy, the terms used to sell some plant-based products, such as almond milk, did not accurately represent what they were, he said.

“Be proud of what you’ve got and call it almond juice, it’s definitely not a milk under the definition in the Oxford Dictionary… so just clearly label what you’ve got,” Mr Lewis said.

“I just encourage other food producers if they’ve got a great story to tell, don’t piggy back off us.”

 The case for restricting the term milk to the liquid that comes from animal’s udders is stronger than the one for terms that apply to ways of cutting or cooking meat. Fruit mince, for example, has been an ingredient of pies for centuries.

But as one of our sharemilkers put it bluntly – milk comes from tits not nuts.

He’s right and what differentiates milk from animals from the plant based pretenders is that the former has only one ingredient, the liquid for which it is named. In contrast to that, the pretenders, with the exception of coconut milk, have multiple ingredients.

The pretenders are also highly processed and often have added sugar, two things which people promoting healthy diets advise should be avoided where possible.

Fonterra chief science and technology officer Jeremy Hill said the dairy company held a firm view that consumers had a right to chose what they ate.

“But that choice should be informed, and at the moment I think these plant-based milks have a positioning that says they’re milk and plant-based, unfortunately from a content basis they’re providing inferior nutrition to what you find in dairy products,” he said. . . 

Calling plant-based liquid with several other ingredients milk, could fool consumers into thinking it has the same nutritional value as the real thing when it doesn’t and that provides solid grounds for the call to restrict the name milk to milk.

There’s a precedence for this in ice cream. The Australia New Zealand Food Code states:

2.5.6—2               Definitions

Note           In this Code (see section 1.1.2—3):

                                      ice cream means a sweet frozen food that is made from cream or milk products or both, and other foods, and is generally aerated.

2.5.6—3               Requirement for food sold as ice cream

                            A food that is sold as ‘ice cream’ must:

                            (a)      be ice cream; and

                            (b)      contain no less than:       

                                      (i)       100 g/kg of milk fat; and

                                      (ii)      168 g/L of food solids.

If ice cream has to be made from cream or milk then it shouldn’t be hard to require milk to be just that – milk and not a highly processed plant based alternative with multiple ingredients and less nutritional value.


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