Rural round-up

11/05/2022

Leave rural water schemes alone – David Anderson:

Rural water schemes need to be exempted from the Government’s proposed Three Waters reforms.

That’s the belief of West Otago farmer and member on the Glenkenich rural water scheme Hugh Gardyne. In a submission to the Rural Water Supplies Technical Working Group on the impacts of the Three Waters reforms, Gardyne says, “the objectives of virtually every stratum of Three Waters reform are contrary to the achievements and intent of rural water schemes”.

He argues that because rural water schemes (RWS) vary so much, it is so impossible to get consensus and “one size does not fit all”. The working group was set up by Local Government Minister and architect of the reforms Nanaia Mahuta to work with officials from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Taumata Arowai to develop policy options and advice in respect of rural community schemes around the new water entities proposed in her Three Waters reforms.

It was expected to report back to DIA at the end of April. . . 

Feds: inflexible FPAs are a solution looking for a problem :

Federated Farmers is joining the fight against yet another case of politicians intruding with unnecessary, inflexible, one-size-fits-all legislation – this time over workers’ wages and conditions.

“There’s nothing fair about so-called Fair Pay Agreements,” Federated Farmers national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“They’re just a straightjacket that lock employers and employees into a national set of pay and conditions rules that might suit a minority but remove all ability of businesses and staff to agree on terms that suit their own needs and local conditions.”

The threshold for initiating an FPA is 10% of workers or 1000 workers in the identified group, whichever is less. Once an FPA is agreed, all employers and employees across an entire industry or occupation are locked into the conditions of that FPA. . .

Stop restricting food production – Peter Buckley:

Under the Paris Accord on climate change, Article 2 (b) states:

The aim of the agreement is to have a stronger response to the danger of climate change; it seeks to enhance the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change through:

(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; . . 

Concern draft code will hurt piglet welfare – Colin Williscroft:

The recently released draft welfare code for pigs will not only have a negative effect on farmers and piglet welfare, it will also affect the staff who look after them and consumers who want to buy fresh NZ pork, Manawatū pig farmer Andrew Managh says.

The recently released draft welfare code for pigs will not only have a negative effect on farmers and piglet welfare, it will also affect the staff who look after them and consumers who want to buy fresh NZ pork, Manawatū pig farmer Andrew Managh says.

Managh, who farms about 700 hectares near Halcombe, with about 6000 pigs on the property on any given day, says despite the draft code seeking to improve pig welfare, in a practical sense it means farmers are being asked to invest money into something that will not achieve that goal.

He says under the proposed changes, farrowing pens at his and his wife Geraldine’s Ratanui Farm property will need to increase from their current 4.5 square metres to 6.5m2 and he can’t see the benefit in that. . . .

Southland turns a corner as dry conditions ease in the region :

The drought conditions plaguing Southland farmers have eased, after some much-needed rain in the region.

NIWA’s latest hotspot watch shows dry conditions have lessened after rain in the region, though it is still dryer than usual for this time of year.

As of 3 May conditions were dry in parts of the upper South Island, much of Otago, eastern Southland, and Stewart Island, NIWA’s New Zealand Drought Index map showed.

Eastern Otago was also very dry, NIWA said. . .

A dog’s journey: my road to recovery – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I know I usually only write one column at the end of the year, but I’ve had a terrible time and just need to share.

It all started back in early February.

Steve, the boss and my mate, noticed I was a bit off. I’m usually full of beans but wasn’t feeling myself.

So, he rested me for the week. . .


Rural round-up

13/04/2022

How to keep feeding the world and fight climate change – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The latest IPCC report released last week was yet another “last warning” for humanity.

Yet again, the headlines have been designed to create immediate action. And yet again, different groups are pointing the finger at other groups to do something.

Whether or not you agree with the scientists who see positive evidence of anthropogenic global warming (Nasa puts the figure as high as 97%), is irrelevant in a globalised world.

The Glasgow Climate Pact 2021 was signed by 197 countries, including New Zealand. Our trade deals rely on us doing our part, and the success of New Zealand’s export economy is determined by the trade deals. . . 

Call for action over forestry slash in Tairawhiti – Matthew Rosenberg:

A former Gisborne district councillor hopes the council will step in to tighten forestry regulations after photos emerged showing logs clogging a river in Tairāwhiti during recent flooding.

Meanwhile, Gisborne District Council has not confirmed if prosecutions will be made over forestry slash following the recent rain events, but says it is possible.

Ruatoria-based Manu Caddie voiced concern about tonnes of logs and debris clogging waterways, after photos taken by media company Uawa Live showed a jam near Anaura Bay.

It comes after Eastland Wood Council – a collective voice for the forestry sector here – said it was encouraged by the “relatively small” amount of pine found in waterways and on beaches following the flooding two weeks ago. . . 

International workers will help address staff shortage:

Sustained advocacy from the dairy sector has helped secure 500 more international workers to help on dairy farms, however the Government’s border class exceptions still fall short of the sector’s 4,000 worker shortage.

DairyNZ is relieved the Government is allowing an extra 500 international dairy workers into the country through a border class exception. This means 800 international staff will be able to enter New Zealand to work on dairy farms.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says DairyNZ has been working hard to make sure the Government understands the huge pressure farmers are under, due to workforce shortages.

The organisation has pushed for 1500 international dairy workers into the country in time for the 2022 dairy season on 1 June. . . 

New Zealand meat processors and exporters welcome immigration boost :

The announcement by the Government that an additional 500 meat processing workers from overseas will be allowed into New Zealand will help ease the sector’s chronic labour shortages, says the Meat Industry Association.

“We are approximately 2,000 people short and this situation is being exacerbated by a number of our people isolating or having to stay at home to look after family members due to COVID-19,” says Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA.

“Right now, there simply aren’t enough people to process every part of the carcass to maximise its value so these additional workers will certainly help alleviate pressure in the industry.

“Without sufficient labour, companies cannot run their processing plants at the desired capacity. This means less opportunities for hard-working Kiwis, often in the regions to earn a good wage and longer waiting times for farmers to get their livestock processed. That can have a flow-on impact for animal welfare, farmer wellbeing and the regional economy. . .

Farmers urged to take up increased international worker opportunity  :

The government’s announcement today it will open up our borders to an additional 1,580 experienced primary sector workers is a shot in the arm for those struggling to recruit enough staff locally, Federated Farmers says.

“They say good things take time, and Feds has been ratcheting up the pressure for this necessary step for many, many months,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis said.

“Let’s hope the system is agile enough to get these people into New Zealand and out into workplaces by the time we need them – particularly for the super busy spring dairy calving season.”

The new settings include an increase in the current border exception for assistant dairy farm managers, 2ICs, dairy herd managers and dairy farm assistants by 500 to a total of 800 for those earning at least the median wage plus $1 per hour (currently equates to $28 per hour). . . 

NZ’s largest solar farm to be built near Taupo – Marc Daalder:

A solar farm larger than the Auckland and Christchurch CBDs combined could start construction near Taupō as soon as this summer, Marc Daalder reports 

A 400 megawatt solar farm planned for the Taupō region could produce 190 times more electricity than New Zealand’s current largest grid-connected solar facility, Newsroom can reveal.

Nova Energy, owned by the Todd Corporation, has applied for two resource consents from Taupō District Council to construct the project in three stages over six or seven years. When completed, it will involve more than 750,000 individual solar panels and could power 100,000 homes – more than one in every 20 houses across New Zealand.

“To meet the 2050 net carbon zero target, New Zealand needs more renewable energy, which Nova can provide,” the company’s CEO Babu Bahirathan said. . . 


Rural round-up

03/03/2022

IPCC report condemns forestry use planned by NZ – Dame Anne Salmond:

If ever there was doubt NZ had gone up a blind climate alley by moving towards large plantings of pine trees, the latest international scientists’ report has firmly laid that to rest, writes Dame Anne Salmond.

It is now beyond doubt that New Zealand’s primary strategy for tackling climate change – offsetting through the Emissions Trading Scheme, with the financial incentives it gives to the large-scale planting of monocultures of exotic pine trees – runs in the opposite direction to international scientific advice.

In the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR6) report, for instance, released yesterday, the practice of “planting large scale non-native monocultures, which would lead to loss of biodiversity and poor climate change resilience” was placed among the ‘Worst Practices and Negative Adaptation Trade-offs’ for temperate forests.

By way of contrast, to  “maintain or restore natural species and structural diversity, leading to more diverse and resilient systems” was placed among the ‘Best Practices and Adaptation Benefits’, with very high impacts. . . 

NZ’s economic outlook is given a lift as dairy prices rise again – Point of Order:

Dairy prices have  hit  a  new  peak at  Fonterra’s Global Dairy Trade  auction.  The GDT index shot up 5.1% to an average price of US$5,065 (NZ$7,509). Whole milk powder rose 5.7% to US$4,757 a tonne while cheddar rocketed up 10.9% to $6,394.

Butter prices gained 5.9% to an average US$7086/tonne, anhydrous milk fat 2.1% to US$7048/tonne and butter milk powder firmed 5.8% to US$4217/tonne. Skim milk  powder was  up 4.7% to US$4481/ tonne.

“This train isn’t slowing down,” said NZX dairy insights manager Stuart Davison.

Other  business-sector commentators  see  the  boom in the dairy  sector   injecting  new  strength into  the  economy at a  time  when it is badly  needed, with  other sectors  like international tourism  and  hospitality hard hit  by the Covid pandemic.

Bidding at  the  auction was  fierce, driven by the  tight supply   position,  as well  as  Russia’s war  on Ukraine. . . 

Good news to wake up to for farmers and growers :

The early morning signing of a free trade deal between the United Kingdom and New Zealand means farmers and growers can wake up with a smile this morning.

Federated Farmers national president and trade spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says with the world the way it is right now, this trade deal gives us reason to be reassured good things do still happen.

“With everything going on in Europe, in the hospitals and health centres, and even on the steps of our own Parliament, it’s reassuring to see this deal signed and sealed,” he says.

The free trade deal will result in the full liberalisation of all trade between New Zealand and the United Kingdom. . .

More international dairy farm workers available soon :

Federated Farmers is pleased to see more international dairy farm workers will be able to cross the border for the 2022 dairy season.

“Farms are short thousands of staff and with continued low domestic unemployment, workers from overseas are the only option to plug the gaps in many parts of New Zealand,” Federated Farmers National Board member and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Many dairy farms are desperate to get teams back up to strength prior to calving and today’s announcement will provide a measure of relief.”

The industry, farmers and the government have done all they can to attract and retain Kiwi workers in the industry, but the need for international labour remains. . . 

Cauliflower selling for nearly $15  :

Bad weather affecting crops has led to a shortage of cauliflower causing a spike in prices.

Some consumers have taken to social media expressing outrage at seeing cauliflower for nearly $15.

United Fresh president Jerry Prendergas said heavy rain in November saturated crops and affected new plantings. . . 

Clever Canterbury sheep smashing stereotypes by smashing smarts :

A sheep in suburban Christchurch is doing its bit to show just how smart a sheep can be.

Lucky, who is six years old, and originally from a farm in Burke’s Pass in South Canterbury, knows a few tricks.

In fact, he knows so many tricks that his owner Caroline Thomson needs a list to keep track of them all.

“He does sit, bow, turn, back, shake, stay, jump, pose, pose is his favourite, through, so that’s when he’ll go under something, wait, go to bed. Now go-to-bed he learnt by getting feijoas, feijoa is his most favourite food. If you give him a feijoa it’s instant,” Thomson said. . . 

Brazil’s beef industry starts to tackle methane emissions – Michael Pooler and Carolina Ingizza:

New farming practices could help the country achieve one of its COP26 promises.

On his ranch in the state of Mato Grosso, deep in Brazil’s agricultural belt, Raul Almeida Moraes Neto has spent the past six years breaking new ground in cattle farming. In the name of sustainable husbandry, the trained agronomist has been undertaking a series of measures to lessen his environmental impact. A small portion of his property near the municipality of Torixoréu has been dedicated to “intensification”, with 15 animals per hectare, instead of fewer than one. Slaughter takes place at 18 months, rather than at 30. Breeding happens at a younger age, too. “It takes less time to produce the same amount of meat, but it emits less methane,” explains the 52-year-old, who has been in the business since 2000.

In the name of sustainable husbandry, the trained agronomist has been undertaking a series of measures to lessen his environmental impact. . .


For want of workers . . .

19/01/2022

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The problem in New Zealand is not a shortage of horse shoe nails but a dire shortage of workers:

A critical lack of workers in New Zealand is pushing the meat industry to plead with the Government to urgently allow in more overseas staff.

Major meat processor and exporter Silver Fern Farms says it’s one of the most challenging years to date for accessing skilled labour. It says that the company’s plants are not fully manned and warns that livestock may not be able to be killed – especially if it gets dry – risking hard-fought international markets and valuable export revenue for the country.

“We are presently about 550 people short across our processing network. We have a number of initiatives underway to help address this, including raising our minimum productive rate by 10%,” SFF chief executive Simon Limmer told Rural News.

“However, we are constrained by the historic low unemployment rate here and the reality is that bringing in overseas workers is going to need to be part of the solution. In particular, we’ve been asking the Government to allow us to bring in AIP workers from the Pacific Islands. We’ve had this successful arrangement for 12 years, and it has increased production levels here as well as providing these workers and their family excellent earnings.” . . .

Staff shortages are delaying lamb processing. Feed covers have been good, lessening pressure to get stock away form farms, but recent dry weather could change that.

“The kill profile is late this season and any significant dry period from this point on, coupled with labour-related capacity reductions, will create livestock pressure on farm.”

Alliance Group’s general manager of manufacturing Willie Wiese told Rural News that NZ’s meat processing and exporting sector has a chronic labour shortage and this has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Without sufficient labour, we cannot run our plants at the desired capacity,” he says. “The border closure, as well as the limited managed isolation spots, have prevented us from employing seasonal workers from overseas to help make up the shortfall in numbers we can recruit locally.”

Wiese says Alliance Group is currently between 200-300 workers short during what is an extremely busy processing period, in particular for the Easter chilled programme for the UK and Europe.

“Importantly, we require additional halal butchers. Over 90% of animals are processed in the halal manner because that provides f greater flexibility to send different parts of the same carcass to various markets. That means fewer opportunities for hardworking Kiwis and fewer value-add products going to our markets.” . . 

Prices for red meat are reasonably good this season but that could easily change.

“Building valuable relationships with customers takes time and is underlined by consistently delivering on a commitment to supply product to customer specifications. These relationships are hard won but easily lost when customers have many global choices for supply, and when we don’t have the labour capacity to enable us to deliver to customers’ needs and return greater value to farmers.” . . 

The dairy industry is also short of staff:

Dairy farmers say they urgently need 1,500 overseas workers within the next six months.

While farmers are happy with changes announced last month to the existing class border exception for 200 dairy workers, they desperately need more skilled workers from overseas.

Farmers were happy with the announcement but like so many form this government, the announcement wasn’t followed by action.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says the dairy sector cannot afford another calving season without skilled staff.

“We urgently need reinforcements,” he told Rural News. “We have managed two calving seadons by cutting corners. Staff are burnt out, stress levels are very high and another calving season like the past two years will result in some sad statistics.”

Securing MIQ spots remains the biggest hurdle to get workers into the country. Of the 200 border exceptions for dairy workers issued last year, only a handful arrived in the country. . . 

Border exceptions were welcomed but that’s only the first step in getting workers into the country.

However, Lewis says border exceptions are useless unless the overseas workers can secure MIQ spots.

“I suspect the electric driverless tractor would make a appearance quicker than a MIQ outcome. Border exception is just the first part of the process of getting the overseas workers in,” says Lewis.

Employers and their workers are still faced with a complex and lengthy process to get employees into New Zealand and working on farms.

“Employers and their workers will need to work closely with their respective industry groups to sort MIQ, flights and all the associated paperwork.

“This is not an easy or cheap task for either party, but with unemployment at such low levels this is really the only option for much of the primary industries at the moment.” . . 

Rural contractors are similarly frustrated:

Despite rural contractors being told in mid-December they could bring in 200 skilled machinery operators into the country, not one has been given any MIQ space.

Rural Contractors NZ chief executive Andrew Olsen describes getting MIQ space as like peeling an onion.

“It’s layer after layer and it brings tears of frustration for our members who are already working impossibly long hours and as yet have not even been able to lodge Expressions of Interest for staff positions, which Ministers had approved to come in.”

Olsen says despite the best efforts of MPI staff to help find MIQ beds for the approved operators, the indications now are that few, if any, will be available until March at the earliest for rural contractors.

“This will mean many of them will pass on the option to bring workers in. It’s just too late, too hard and too stressful for contractors who are working their guts out trying to help farmers get in crops and ensure animals can be fed.” 

Olsen says RCNZ and Federated Farmers, supported by MPI, have done everything they could to help contractors meet a crushing labour shortage.

“We understand and respect that the resurgence of another Covid variant and border entry changes have put the squeeze on MIQ,” he adds. “That said, those risks would have been part of the assessment when we had Ministerial approval just on a month ago to bring in the desperately needed 200 machinery operators.”

Olsen says rural contractors whose work is essential to food production and our export economy, find themselves towards the back of the MIQ queue.

Olsen is now calling on the Ministers of Immigration and Agriculture and the Prime Minister’s Office to act.

“We received approval December 12 and now more than a month on we’re looking at another two months before the first arrivals,” he adds. . . 

Harvesting is well under way. Workers are needed now and the shortage will put pressure on existing staff which will increase the risk of accidents and crop wastage.

Primary industries have been one of few bright spots in the export sector.

When the other big export earner – tourism – is in the doldrums with little hope of a turn around in the short to medium term, the need for farming and horticulture to be operating at their peaks is even greater than normal.

The government has been warned about the worker shortage and the consequences of it and last month’s announcement of more MIQ spots gave employers hope.

But like so many other of its announcements it has failed to deliver and so for want of workers primary production and processing are under unsustainable stress.


Rural round-up

18/01/2022

2022 will be tumultuous for New Zealand’s primary industries – Keith Woodford:

This year is not going to be just any year for the food and fibre industries. On the prices front, things should go well for most products. However, on the policy front, it is the second year of the three-year political cycle, and that has implications.

This is the year when key implementation decisions must be made on multiple political issues. It is all about setting up the glide path for the next election.

For the food and fibre industries, and this includes carbon farming, these key decisions have potential to determine the path for the next decade. I reckon there is going to be quite some heat, and I am not referring here to the weather.

First of all, the good news. . . 

‘I’m where I’m meant to be’ farm life works out – Sally Rae:

Central Otago agronomist Jaimee Pemberton traded the city for country life and has not looked back. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae.

When Jaimee Pemberton was growing up in Timaru, she pondered three very different career paths — agriculture, marine biology and drama.

Those diverse options could have resulted in very different lifestyles, but the 28-year-old former city girl has no regrets about choosing a career in the rural sector.

“I just think I’m where I’m meant to be,” she said. . .

Stag fetches $135k at annual sale – Sally Rae:

The first stag on offer at Netherdale Red Deer Stud’s annual elite sale at Balfour this week lived up to its sale-opening billing, fetching a whopping $135,000.

The 3-year-old stag, which attracted a “huge” amount of interest before the sale, was sold by David and Lynley Stevens to a South Canterbury syndicate.

Mr Stevens described it as a big, quality animal with a “beautiful” head, and one that he would normally have kept as a stud sire if he had not had something else in the paddock.

It was a record price for the stud which was holding its 35th sale. . . 

Free lunchtime chats to boost farmer resilience :

Three of New Zealand’s foremost motivational speakers on resilience and mental wellbeing will offer tips for farmers and growers in a series of free online lunchtime talks.

Isolation and the sometimes stressful nature of agriculture, with severe weather and volatile trading conditions out of their control, puts pressure on rural families.

“The added restrictions, health risks and supply chain issues of COVID-19 have added another significant layer to that stress burden,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

That’s why Feds, along with the Dairy Women’s Network and DairyNZ, were delighted when a bid for funding from Worksafe’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund was successful. . .

Trev puts data squarely in the hands of the farmer with API :

Trev is excited to announce the release of its API, for the first time putting operational data squarely in the hands of the farmer.

The API development has been designed for farmers to build and control their Trev data, enabling Trev customers to automate data sharing within their own systems or to permission data to be shared with approved industry partners.

Trev customers have always enjoyed the benefit of building their own datasets and extracting insights directly from the Trev platform. This new API means farmers can now automatically transfer data to other platforms and services internally and externally, reducing their data burden.

Data can be taken directly from Trev’s platform and plugged into a farming business’ own internal systems and processes. Or should a customer choose, Trev has the ability to send farmer permissioned data to approved industry partner integrations. . .

Dairy farm gets $150G state grant to better manage cow manure:

Mecox Bay Dairy, a multigeneration family farm established in 1875, was a dairy until the 1950s, then a commodity potato grower before returning to cows in 2003. The farm, a rural expanse surrounded by multimillion dollar Hamptons homes, raises cows for beef and cheese and is one of a handful of Long Island operations offering sought-after raw cow’s milk.

The money will help Mecox Bay manage the excrement from its 23 milk-producing Jersey cows, a small and docile breed known for its high-fat milk, and more easily turn their manure into fertilizer.

A 1,000-pound dairy cow produces about 80 pounds of waste per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unmanaged manure contributes nutrients, disease-causing microorganisms and oxygen-demanding organics into the environment, the agency said. . .


Rural round-up

17/12/2021

Primary producers overcome big challenges (including govt regulations) to lift export revenue in latest forecasts – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s  primary  producers  deserve   a  Christmas bouquet – or a big hamper stuffed with goodies – as food  and  fibre  export revenue is projected  to top $50 billion for the  first  time   next  year.  They are achieving this despite  the challenges of regulatory compliance, increasing costs for inputs such as feed and fertiliser, Covid impacts on freight movements and constraints around labour availability.

Total export value is expected to rise 6% to $50.8bn in the year to June 30 2022, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report released today.

Ministers were quick to hop on the bandwagon, despite framing many of the  new regulatory constraints.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the healthy growth forecast across the majority of the primary industries showed the future of the food and fibre sector is bright. . . 

Science New Zealand 2021 Awards :

This year’s annual awards celebrated 24 awardees across three award categories – Early Career Researcher, Individual / Lifetime Achievement and Team. A Supreme Award winner was chosen from the 24 awardees. 

Supreme Award Winner

The AgResearch Breeding Low Methane-Emitting Sheep Team

AgResearch’s Breeding Low Methane-Emitting Sheep leads the world in breeding sheep that produce less methane. This innovation gives farmers practical tools to lower methane emissions on their farms. As methane is a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas, this could contribute significantly in helping to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions.

Gains made by using this technology in sheep flocks are permanent and cumulative. The team’s work is gaining momentum with other livestock industries, particularly cattle and deer. . . 

Student Jo Search helps fill vacancies in agriculture, fishing and forestry – Niva Chittock:

Student Job Search is coming to the rescue of farmers and growers crying out for skilled workers.

There’s been a 76 percent increase in the number of jobs it’s offering in agriculture, fishing and forestry.

At the same time, student earnings from these jobs have more than doubled, totalling just under $7 million in the last financial year.

Student Job Search places around 27,000 students into work every year. . . 

Rockit sees strongest year yet with 45% growth:

Innovative New Zealand apple company, Rockit Global Limited is celebrating its strongest season yet, with forecast turnover up 45 percent year on year in a tough economic environment.

Global demand for its snack sized apples is continuing to grow exponentially, with the high-performing business this year recording 33 percent growth in bin volume, resulting in over 75 million apples being packed and shipped to consumers around the world. Rockit is also forecasting orchard gate returns of around NZD $230,000 per hectare on mature orchards.

Rockit Global CEO Mark O’Donnell puts these impressive results down to a combination of the company ‘doing things differently’ on the global stage through innovation, backed by its disruptive new brand and great product.

“To see such a robust result among this year’s economic challenges is extremely exciting,” says Mark. “As global consumer demand increases – and more Rockit trees are planted to meet this – we’ve implemented leading edge automation and artificial intelligence to meet our strong growth trajectory and reduce reliance on manual labour across all parts of the supply chain– which is also creating higher value, and more innovative roles for our people.” . .

Hawke’s Bay pumpkin milk wins big in New York :

A Hawke’s Bay company making a pumpkin milk has been recognised at the World Plant-Based Awards in New York.

The product, known as Kabocha Milk, is produced by one of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers.

The company said squash is staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and the milk allows them to make use of crops which aren’t export grade due to cosmetic blemishes.

It’s milk is stocked in two high-end Japanese retail store chains which plans to extend to 5,000 stores across Japan, Korea and China in the next couple of years. . . 

Australian manuka industry hails UK trademark decision as a victory for common sense:

The Australian Manuka Honey Association is delighted that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has rejected an application by a group of New Zealand producers to trademark the words “Manuka honey”, recognising that it is a purely descriptive term for a type of honey. The decision will have widespread ramifications in jurisdictions beyond the United Kingdom.

In reaching its decision, the IPO accepted there was significant evidence that the general public understands manuka honey is not produced exclusively in New Zealand, but rather originates from a number of places including Australia.

Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) Chairman Paul Callander said: “This decision is the right decision and a fair decision. The term manuka has been used in Australia since the 1800s and the Australian industry has invested significantly for decades in manuka honey science, research and marketing. It would be deeply unfair – and financially devastating – to deny that reality.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/12/2021

Record milk price is holding – Sudesh Kissun:

Last week’s rise in global dairy prices has further boosted the chance of a record-breaking $9 milk price for the season.

Whole milk powder prices – the benchmark for Fonterra’s milk price – to its farmer suppliers – broke the US$4,000/metric tonne barrier for the first time in six months.

Westpac has lifted its 2021-22 farmgate milk price by 10c to $9/kgMS, at the top of Fonterra’s updated forecast range of $8.40 to $9.00/kgMS.

Senior agri economist Nathan Penny believes the lower NZ dollar is likely to prove a windfall gain for farmers. . .

Fert prices hurt – Sudesh Kissun:

Federated Farmers vice president Chris Lewis claims farmers won’t be making much money this year, despite a record forecast milk price.

He says fertiliser prices have jumped 100%, wage bills are up 20% and hiring tradesmen has become more expensive.

Lewis says “market forces” mean farmers must pay more to retain staff in a labour-squeezed market.

While the record forecast payout must be celebrated and provides a buffer against rising costs, he doesn’t expect too many farmers to end up with a large surplus this season. . .

SNAs are great if you have the space – Lois Williams:

Telling farmers to protect what they’ve been protecting for a hundred years was never going to go down well on the West Coast.

But having a Significant Natural Area (SNA) or even several on your land need not be an outrageous imposition – if you have scale.

That’s been the experience of one of the region’s biggest landholders, Ken Ferguson, of Waipuna Station.

The Grey Valley spread he farms with his brother Mark has been in the care of Ken’s family since the 1860s and has 60 hectares set aside in significant natural areas. . .

Croptide raises $1m to help fruit growers battle water scarcity :

 Agritech startup Croptide, which transmits plant water health to a farmer’s phone within seconds, has raised $1 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Icehouse Ventures with support from Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 and Masfen Group.

Croptide uses internet-enabled sensors to provide accurate and timely water measurement data to fruit and wine growers battling the impacts of water scarcity brought about by climate change. The sensors are clipped to the plant, sourcing accurate water and nutrient readings directly from its stem tissue, a new, more precise approach to measuring plant health.

The company aims to improve water use efficiency for fruit and wine growers by 30-50%.

Four global businesses are among the first to trial Croptide’s technology, with T&G Global, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Cloudy Bay New Zealand, and Indevin have signed up for the summer pilots; along with large kiwifruit grower, the Ngai Tukairangi Trust. . .

MPI funding for transition to future orchard planting systems:

A project to increase the successful adoption of a new growing system with the potential to double orchard productivity, improve environmental outcomes, and boost labour efficiency has received $1.65 million of Government funding.

Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS) is a scientifically proven fruit tree growing system. It has the potential to double yields and improve fruit quality by bringing orchard rows closer together and growing trees in a planar (two-dimensional) structure. This maximises the trees’ use of available light.

The Government support, which comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures), sits alongside the $1.1 million committed to the project by Plant & Food Research, and industry partners New Zealand Apples and Pears, Rockit Global, and Summerfruit New Zealand.

The five-year project, led by Dr Ben van Hooijdonk and Dr Jill Stanley from Plant & Food Research, is being delivered with AgFirst Consultants NZ and industry representatives. The project aims to investigate barriers in adopting new growing systems, validate and refine FOPS performance, and support uptake of emerging technologies. . . 

MPI assessment of the potential for a new primary industry based on industrial hemp :

The NZHIA congratulate MPI on the release of their 60 page “Facilitating growth in the New Zealand Hemp Industry” report.

The report was independently prepared by Sapere and recognises the industrial hemp industry is “rapidly developing internationally, driven by recent deregulation and increasing interest in and demand for its use in a range of products”.

The report identified a number of comparative advantages for hemp production in Aotearoa New Zealand. Based on our strong track record in plant and food science and innovation, strong agronomic fundamentals, our “clean and green” image and availability of water in potential growing regions.

“These advantages can be leveraged to create a new primary food and fibre industry in regional Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Richard Barge, Chair – NZ Hemp Industries Association Inc. . . 


Rural round-up

22/11/2021

Feds honours the life and work of John Luxton:

Federated Farmers wishes to pass on its condolences to the family and friends of former Minister of Agriculture and dairy industry leader John Luxton who passed away today.

“We pay our respects to acknowledge and praise the work John did for New Zealand agriculture, especially the dairy sector,” Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard says.

John was a Member of Parliament from 1987 to 2002 and his political contribution was significant across numerous ministerial roles, including his time as Minister of Agriculture.

“The dairy sector would not be the same if it weren’t for John’s work towards forming DairyNZ and then chairing the organisation between 2008 and 2015. . .

Farmers helping feed Auckland families this Christmas:

Farmers and growers are being asked to help put fresh food on the Christmas table for Aucklanders in need this year.

Federated Farmers has launched a “Farmers Feed Families” campaign aimed at raising funds for the Auckland City Mission.

Feds Gisborne President Toby Williams was dismayed to learn how many more Auckland families were struggling as a result of COVID-19 fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.

“It only costs $135 to provide a box of food for a family of four, with enough good ingredients for about four days’ worth of meals. We are asking fellow farmers to help families pay for good, fresh food for Christmas. . .

Rural connectivity not ready for Covid-19:

Rural New Zealand is facing a COVID crisis thanks to the Government’s failure to secure their digital future, says National’s Digital Economy & Communications and Rural Communities Spokespersons Melissa Lee and Joseph Mooney.

“Alongside the Government’s failure to provide New Zealanders with a plan to get our country back in business and end the MIQ Lottery of misery the Government continues to leave rural connectivity behind causing real fears that families across our regions will be unable to access critical health services and information when COVID strikes their towns.

“Rural New Zealanders have already had to do the hard yards during lockdowns of the past 18 months facing network congestion, poor connectivity options and data limits that have seen many of them having to choose between their child’s education or keeping their businesses afloat. This is morally bankrupt for those working in the primary sectors keeping our economy intact. . .

Crunch is coming for agricultural contractors :

Federated Farmers’ concerns about the serious shortage of experienced agricultural machinery operators is proving justified as summer approaches.

A shortage of experienced operators is being felt across rural New Zealand, and the pressure is building on both farmers and rural contractors, Feds immigration and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Unfortunately, we all saw this coming a long way out. Federated Farmers has repeatedly explained the implications of having no international seasonal rural workers to the Immigration, Primary Industries and Workplace Relations and Safety Ministers, the Primary Production Select Committee and the CEO of WorkSafe.

“The shortage is leaving both contractors and farmers in the lurch and we have serious concerns for the coming season. These are complex machines that require experienced operators,” Chris says. . .

IrrigationNZ makes big strides with plans to deliver more in 2022 :

IrrigationNZ has made great strides in the last 12 months, with a revitalised strategy put to work propelling the organisation to new heights.

The organisation held its annual general meeting (AGM) via Zoom yesterday, and revealed to members that for the first time in three years the organisation has ended the financial year in the black.

Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Vanessa Winning, who has been in the role for a year, is proud of her team’s performance, and is looking forward to continuing the good work into 2022.

“I joined IrrigationNZ just before last year’s AGM. We had just completed a restructure, decided to move the head office to Wellington, and were close to another annual loss,” says Ms Winning. . .

Producer prices increase :

Producer prices increased more in the year ended September 2021 than in any other year for more than a decade, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended September 2021, prices received by producers increased 6.2 percent, and prices paid by producers increased 7.0 percent.

“The increases in prices received and paid by producers in the year ended September 2021 are the largest increases since the years ended March 2009 and December 2008 respectively,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said. . .


Rural round-up

17/11/2021

Uncertain times ahead – Peter Burke:

NZ sheep and beef farmers will likely face different risks to their businesses in the coming years due to the Covid pandemic.

Beef+Lamb NZ’s chief economist Andrew Burt says there may be more volatility and risks that farmers will have to manage. He says these will be ones that they haven’t had to think about before or haven’t surfaced for over 20 years.

“It may be the case of unravelling the past and creating a new order.”

Burt confirms that while prices for meat are high at present, this is somewhat shielding significant rises in on-farm costs. He also warns that inflation could have a negative effect on farm profits. . . 

MIQ spots ‘bloody hard’ – Sudesh Kissun:

A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. Securing MIQ spots remain the biggest hurdle to getting overseas workers for the dairy sector.

Five months after the Government granted border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, just a handful of workers have arrived in the country.

Now in the dairy sector is pleading for 1500 overseas workers to be allowed into the country and self-quarantine on farms before the start of 2022 season to ease a severe staff shortage.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis says a lot of behind-the-scenes work is going with the Government. . . 

How Tomato Pete got lost and found again – Rachel Stewart:

This a story about Tomato Pete – a name given to him by a farmer amused by his vegetarianism.

Tomato Pete is the son of a friend I’ve known since primary school. She had two children to one man, who soon became largely absent from their lives. As a solo mother she worked hard to raise the kids on her own and, as is often the way, it wasn’t all beer and skittles. But it was okay.

I would show up in my truck every now and then, always with one canine or another in tow. Tomato Pete, a quiet town kid, was about seven when I noticed that he really came alive when he was around dogs.

At 13 he got his first puppy. Pip, a gentle-natured black mongrel, became his constant companion. (He’s still alive today, and enjoying his well-earned dotage). . . 

NZ wins big at World Steak Challenge :

Three New Zealand red meat producers won big at the World Steak Challenge in Dublin.

Anzco and First Light Foods won a gold medal each in the ribeye section, while Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef won three gold medals.

Hundreds of beef suppliers from around the world had their finest products judged by an independent panel of chefs and experts at the prestigious event.

Alliance general manager of sales Shane Kingston says the win reaffirmed the status of Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef as among the world’s best. . .

Gen Z it’s time to make your mark on New Zealand’s food and fibre sector :

Food and fibre sector leaders are counting on Generation Z (loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010) to take on the future of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and meet the challenges it faces.

The key to attracting Generation Z (Gen Z) to the sector will be making them aware of the scope of opportunities across the sector, says Madison Pannett, the Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar behind the report, Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

“I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join,” says Madison, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) as a Senior Adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team.

“From my research, I found that Gen Z mainly associates food and fibre sector careers with roles on-farm and not with the wider opportunities that are available,” Madison notes. She says that sector leaders need to tell the story of the scope of rewarding and diverse roles available for Gen Z to contribute and work in line with their values. . .

Western Station buy-up goes way beyond government promises

The acquisition of five western stations by NSW National Parks now totals almost 400,000 hectares in the last year. If you add on travelling stock routes, a large land ‘grab’ would appear to be underway.

Graziers and the community that need them for their economies in the western division are rightly asking questions.

Although some of the purchases were flagged by the government, they are wondering what now is the wash-out from these buy-outs, given the original buy-up was estimated at 200,000 hectares.

It’s estimated that each station in private hands, adds about $500,000 a year into local economies. It’s certain that the national park version will do nothing like that. . .


Rural round-up

02/11/2021

Farmers want clarity over vaccine mandates – Gerhard Uys:

Farmers and farm advocacy groups say they are not receiving clear guidelines from the Government on how to navigate vaccine mandates and subsequent staff management for farm businesses.

Chris Lewis, national board member and Covid-19 spokesman for Federated Farmers, said Covid guidelines seemed to be a moving target.

“We have had no indication from [Government] what exact guidelines farm employers should follow. Farm businesses are no different to other businesses operating during uncertain times and need clarity. Are we allowed to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, what is safe and not safe, we don’t know,” Lewis said.

Lewis believed that businesses would begin to take the lead in determining requirements, with the Government playing catch up. Corporations like Fonterra have already begun setting some guidelines for milk suppliers to follow. . .

Farmer protest group keen to meet Jacinda Ardern for answers on new rules –  Rachael Kelly:

The leaders behind one of the biggest farmer protest group in New Zealand are seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and say they are sick of being ignored.

Groundswell NZ galvanised thousands of farmers in July and protests were held in 50 towns nationwide, but since then the Prime Minister has never directly responded to their concerns about some Government freshwater rules not being practical to implement.

Groundswell NZ founder Bryce McKenzie will be in Wellington next week, and it’ll be the second time the group has tried to get a meeting with Ardern.

“We’re hoping she’ll meet with us this time, because the people of New Zealand that turned out for our last protest have essentially been ignored,’’ McKenzie said. . .

 

A rule of thirds – Neal Wallace:

It was not their original intent, but Central Otago’s Lake Hawea Station is at the sharp end of what some termed contentious innovation. Neal Wallace meets manager David O’Sullivan.

DAVID O’Sullivan admits he needed an open mind as he oversaw the transformation of the Otago high country fine wool property, Lake Hawea Station.

The station manager says a combination of the skills of the staff, input from consultants and the branding and business backgrounds of owners Geoff and Justine Ross, founders of vodka company 42 Below, created a powerful team that is not wedded to a particular farming system.

That diverse thinking reflects the station’s shift to regenerative farming but also a different approach to managing carbon emissions and sequestration.. . 

Sustainability sells: strong wools’ half billion dollar export opportunity:

New Zealand’s strong wool sector is sitting on at least a half a billion dollar opportunity thanks to a wave of eco-consumerism, coupled with innovative Kiwi businesses pushing the limits of wool.

Since the 1980s the export price of strong wool has tanked from a high of around $10 a kilogram, to now just over two dollars. But as eco-consumerism rises and plastic products lose their popularity, a group of New Zealand businesses are ready to drive strong wool’s resurgence.

Strong Wool Action Group executive officer Andy Caughey says for the first time in forty years the market conditions are optimistic for strong wool, a courser fibre than the likes of fine merino, which is exceptionally resilient and versatile in its use for homewares. . .

Ravensdown renews sponsorship of NZDIA :

Entries to the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continue to be accepted online until December 1st as national sponsors continue to commit to the programme.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to confirm that Ravensdown have renewed their sponsorship for the next two years.

“Ravensdown bring a particular style to their sponsorship. They care deeply about farmers and this is obvious through the Relief Milking Fund and that they want to be involved with education and development of farmers’ businesses and careers,” says Robin. . .

DJAARA’s new land acquisition protects country and culture – Annabelle Cleeland:

Culturally significant Buckrabanyule, in North Central Victoria, has been purchased by Traditional Owners and conservationists, in a bid to be protected from further land degradation and development.

Located between Boort and Wedderburn, the land covers 452 hectares, and was recently purchased by conservation group, Bush Heritage, to be jointly managed with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA).

The land is infested with the invasive wheel cactus, a thorny pest plant that classified as a weed of national significance. Djarrak rangers have spent recent months working at the site to control the weed, using mechanical chemical and bio-control methods. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/10/2021

Don’t be complacent about agriculture’s ability to rescue us – Gareth Kiernan:

The massive increase in tourist numbers coming to New Zealand between the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is well documented, lifting from under 2.5 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2019.

But it’s perhaps less well-known that agriculture and forestry exports held their own during this period, with their share of total exports increasing from 44 per cent to 49 per cent.

The drop in “other goods” in this chart implies that the squeeze was felt more by manufactured exports than the primary sector – a trend that is not unique to the last decade.

Since Covid-19 struck, a reliance on agriculture has been the defining feature of the best-performing regional economies. . . 

New visa some relief for rural communities :

The Government’s announcement of the 2021 Resident Visa will provide some welcome relief to rural communities, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Today’s announcement of the one-off 202 Resident Visa, which creates residence pathways for approximately 9,000 primary industry workers, is excellent news and will relieve some of the stress in our rural communities,” says RWNZ board member Sharron Davie-Martin.

Davie-Martin says that RWNZ understands the one-off visa will support workers elsewhere in New Zealand in retail, teaching, health care, construction and aged care which she says must be a great reassurance to all migrant workers and their families.

“However, RWNZ is acutely aware of the pressure on the health and well-being of rural communities caused by stressed migrant workers and staff shortages. . .

Sensible solution to desperate time keeping workers on farm :

Sighs of relief all round at Federated Farmers after the announcement of a clear and achievable residency process for international workers and their families.

“I am delighted. This gives 9000 of the workers who have stayed on to help run our farms some certainty about their future,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“And they deserve it. They’ve supported us through exceptionally difficult times on farm and we are going to need them even more in the future.

“There will be big smiles in cowsheds and tractors across the country after this announcement.” . . 

Alliance welcomes decarbonisation investment

Alliance Group says decarbonisation projects at three South Island processing plants is a major boost to its goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

Alliance Group and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will co-fund the projects at the co-operative’s Lorneville and Mataura plants in Southland and at Smithfield plant in Timaru. Together, the plants employ approximately 3,000 people at peak season.

As part of the decarbonisation project, Alliance will install an electrode boiler to reduce the use of existing coal fired boilers at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill, saving 11,739 tonnes of carbon per annum. . .

Soaring demand for beef drives 26 per cent increase in New Zealand red meat exports in August:

New Zealand’s red meat exports increased by more than a quarter in August compared to the previous year, according to an analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports for August 2021 reached $650 million with the 26 per cent increase largely driven by a growth in beef exports, up 39 per cent to $299m year on year.

Exports to the top three beef markets all increased, with China up 89 per cent to $117m, the United States by 31 per cent to $102m and Japan by 31 per cent to $15 million.

Sirma Karapeeva, MIA chief executive, said volumes of beef exported during August were also historically high. . . 

‘TRY A NEW CHEESE, NEW ZEALAND!’ October’s NZ Cheese Month encourages Kiwis to try a new cheese:

Kiwis are being encouraged to try a new cheese this month to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month.

A regular event on the country’s food calendar, New Zealand Cheese Month is an initiative created and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, to draw attention to the value of the local cheese industry. NZ Cheese Month occurs in October because it’s ‘spring flush’ the early days of spring, with warmth and soil moisture creating lush, green grass for animals to feast on. Sheep and goat milking resumes and there is plenty of fresh cheese available for cheese lovers.

NZSCA Chair, Catherine McNamara says the country’s cheesemaking industry is constantly evolving and she’s encouraging cheese lovers to take a fresh look and try something new.

“From its beginnings with the European settlers in the early 1800s, through to the present day; the art of cheesemaking has thrived in Aotearoa thanks to the environment producing some of the world’s best milk. This is reflected in the success small and large New Zealand cheese producers have enjoyed on the international stage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/10/2021

Carbon farming – what is the end goal? – Mike Firth:

Wairarapa farmer Mike Firth voices his concerns about the effects of carbon farming on sheep and beef land.

It’s a pretty sad day when you sit inside reading an article in a popular farming paper and it’s talking about carbon farming.

Who would have ever thought we could get paid for air?

I have never written about stuff like this before, but this is starting to piss me off. . . 

Leadership is needed as sheep and beef farming face fight – Anna Campbell:

In 1881, the first frozen shipment of red meat left New Zealand for the United Kingdom.

It’s hard to imagine the planning and risks involved in that shipment.

The Government’s New Zealand History website describes how the voyage was organised by William Davidson, who was the British-based manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company. The company sent Thomas Brydone to Britain to study refrigeration technology; he was then responsible for handling the ‘‘experiment’’ in New Zealand.

The passenger sailing ship Dunedin had a complete fit-out with a coal-powered Bell Coleman freezing plant. The first 5000 carcasses originated from the Totara Estate in Oamaru, where they were cooled and sent by rail to Port Chalmers, then frozen aboard Dunedin. When the shipment reached the tropics, the crew on board noticed the air wasn’t circulating properly, so Captain John Whitson crawled aboard to saw extra holes for air circulation, nearly freezing himself in the process. . . 

Forecast positive for farmers – Sally Rae:

Covid-19 uncertainty reinforces the need for stable and predictable domestic regulation, to avoid putting pressure on the red meat sector whose exports are critical to the economy, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief economist Andrew Burtt says.

B+LNZ’s new season outlook, released yesterday, showed the forecast for global sheepmeat and beef demand was positive for the 2021-22 season, supported by solid market fundamentals, strong demand and tight supply.

It forecast average farm profit before tax to lift 9%, reflecting a 4% lift in gross farm revenue and increasing sheep revenue, including a modest lift in wool prices.

However, the forecast for a stronger New Zealand dollar would offset some of the buoyancy and limit increases in farmgate prices. . . 

Feds gives thumbs up for cross-border and jab efforts :

Federated Farmers is giving a shout out to government agencies handling the movement of essential workers across alert level boundaries, and to those DHBs and medical centres reaching out to rural people over COVID vaccinations.

“With Auckland now at Alert level 3 and access to takeaways resumed, there are still essential workers having to cross alert level boundaries south and north of Auckland. Many of them work in or with the primary industries – farmers, vets, stock transporters and food processors to name a few,” Feds national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Quite rightly, essential workers are required to have proper documentation and it might all have been a big hassle.

“However, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with the Ministry for Primary Industries, have made the process seamless and sensible. Hats off to them,” Chris said. . . 

New elected director in the western North Island:

Taranaki farmer and former Ravensdown employee, Mike Davey is the co-operative’s newest shareholder-elected director, announced at yesterday’s 2021 annual meeting

Mike Davey has been elected as Director for Area 5, which stretches from New Plymouth to Wellington City and includes southern parts of Ruapehu and Taupō. Mike is a cropping farmer, elected member of the Taranaki Regional Council and has over 40 years’ experience in the fertiliser business.

Ravensdown Chair John Henderson says Mike’s knowledge of the co-operative will be an asset as the co-operative and its shareholders navigate an evolving regulatory environment. . . 

Let’s give thanks to the ‘grassetarians’ – Tom Marland:

It is World Meat-Free Week.

This is a concept thought up by a group of well-meaning, but misinformed, inner-city environmentalists in order to “save the planet”.

A few people skipping a steak this week won’t have a huge impact on our meat protein production industries.

But we must be aware of the growing trend among many Australians and overseas consumers who are going “meat free”. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

25/09/2021

Management thinking 100 years ahead

The couple behind one of New Zealand’s most sustainable farms are challenging other farmers to think three or four generations into the future when making decisions.

The call comes from Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter. The couple are the Ballance Farm National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing, and current Gordon Stephenson Trophy holders – so they know a thing or two about the environment.

The Potters bought their 566 hectare hill country sheep, beef and deer farm – Waipapa Station – in 1997. They describe it as “a blank canvas” when they arrived at the gat with nothing more than fencing gear and a team of dogs. . . 

Eight finalists announced for prestigious Trans-Tasman agricultural award:

Judges of the Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced eight finalists, and will crown not one but two winners for 2022 – one from each side of the Tasman.

Now in its eighth year, the prestigious award recognises future young leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around a tailored trans-Tasman mentoring programme. The eight talented finalists – four from Australia and four from New Zealand – have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making in the primary sector.

The four New Zealand finalists are Adam Thompson, 35, director of Restore Native Plant Nursery, beef farmer and mortgage broker from Cambridge; Katie Vickers, 28, Head of Sustainability and Land Use for Farmlands, from Christchurch; Olivia Weatherburn, 33, National Extension Programme Manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, from Mossburn Southland; and Rhys Roberts, 34, CEO of market garden and farm operation Align Farms, from mid-Canterbury. . . 

Fonterra moves on strategy and structure – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra pulls up the wagons to defend its territory, but is also hoping to sortie out with new nutritional endeavours

Fonterra’s release of its 2020/21 annual report has occurred in association with an additional big dump of information laying out the proposed future for Fonterra.  In essence, Fonterra is confirming that it is going to be a New Zealand company owned by farmers, with the first priority being to maximise returns to farmers.

That position should in itself come as no surprise. Fonterra has been talking that language for three years as it has divested itself of various overseas assets. However, this is the first time that there is a more comprehensive laying out of the long-term strategy, including consequent policy decisions. There are multiple headliners. . . 

Feds gives thumbs up for cross-border and jab efforts:

Federated Farmers is giving a shout out to government agencies handling the movement of essential workers across alert level boundaries, and to those DHBs and medical centres reaching out to rural people over COVID vaccinations.

“With Auckland now at Alert level 3 and access to takeaways resumed, there are still essential workers having to cross alert level boundaries south and north of Auckland. Many of them work in or with the primary industries – farmers, vets, stock transporters and food processors to name a few,” Feds national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Quite rightly, essential workers are required to have proper documentation and it might all have been a big hassle.

“However, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with the Ministry for Primary Industries, have made the process seamless and sensible. Hats off to them,” Chris said. . . 

Surprise win for rural internet pioneer :

Taranaki wireless broadband pioneer Matt Harrison has been elected to the board of TUANZ, the influential tech users industry group.

As one of two new regional members of the board of 10, Harrison says his “somewhat surprising election” reflects the new importance TUANZ is placing on making sure rural New Zealanders are included in its goal of making New Zealand one of the top 10 digital countries worldwide by 2030.

The election has come as a surprise for Harrison, the managing director of Primo. He says he was up against 15 other strong candidates from the telco industry, almost all of whom were from large companies in the main centres. He says being a regional internet provider and an advocate for rural users may have swung the vote his way.

“This shows me that there is strong support from the whole industry for what we are doing at Primo in providing connections to rural people who would otherwise miss out on having a quality internet link.” . . 

Lab grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The  science tells a different story – Joe Fassler:

Splashy headlines have long overshadowed inconvenient truths about biology and economics. Now, extensive new research suggests the industry may be on a billion-dollar crash course with reality.

Paul Wood didn’t buy it.

For years, the former pharmaceutical industry executive watched from the sidelines as biotech startups raked in venture capital, making bold pronouncements about the future of meat. He was fascinated by their central contention: the idea that one day, soon, humans will no longer need to raise livestock to enjoy animal protein. We’ll be able to grow meat in giant, stainless-steel bioreactors—and enough of it to feed the world. These advancements in technology, the pitch went, would fundamentally change the way human societies interact with the planet, making the care, slaughter, and processing of billions of farm animals the relic of a barbaric past.

It’s a digital-era narrative we’ve come to accept, even expect: Powerful new tools will allow companies to rethink everything, untethering us from systems we’d previously taken for granted. Countless news articles have suggested that a paradigm shift driven by cultured meat is inevitable, even imminent. But Wood wasn’t convinced. For him, the idea of growing animal protein was old news, no matter how science-fictional it sounded. Drug companies have used a similar process for decades, a fact Wood knew because he’d overseen that work himself. . .


Rural round-up

10/09/2021

Austrian company given consent to buy 2018ha farm for forestry conversion – Rebecca Ryan:

More farmland is set to be converted into forestry in the Waitaki.

An Austrian company has been given consent to buy a 2018ha sheep and beef farm at Mount Trotter, near Palmerston.

The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of the farm to 100% Austrian-owned company Cerberus Vermogensverwaltung GmbH, from Peter and Susan Lawson, as trustees of the Lawson Family Trust, for $8.5million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 1524ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees, and has received resource consent to do so. Planting is expected to start next year, and the trees would be harvested in 26 to 32 years. . . 

Flower farmers forced to bin or mulch harvest due to restrictions – Ella Stewart:

Under alert level 4 flower growers aren’t able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration.

“I’ve just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days’ harvest. It’s going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we’ve still got two more weeks of level 4 lockdown and we can’t sell them.

“Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in level 4. We’re one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can’t sell. All meat, fruit, veg – that can all be sold – but as for us, you know well, what do I do with this? This is all just going to go in the compost heap.” . . 

Hope tool can eliminate American Foulbrood –  Shawn McAvinue:

A new technology helping fight against a bee-killing disease is a “massive breakthrough”, an Otago apiarist says.

New Zealand Alpine Honey owner and Project CleanHive chairman Peter Ward, of Hawea, said he ran about 5000 hives across Otago, Southland and the West Coast.

The operation was one of the biggest in the South Island.

He had been beekeeping for nearly 45 years and the highly contagious American Foulbrood disease was a “constant concern”. . . 

Campaign for Wool reveals strategic direction:

Change is on the horizon and the future is bright.

That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.

Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”

The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.” . . 

Farmers urged to enable staff to get vaccinations :

Farmers should do all they can to enable and encourage their staff to get their COVID vaccinations, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I know dairy farms are flat tack with calving and workforce shortages have never been worse. But there’s nothing more important than your family’s health, and that of your staff and their families.”

It would certainly help if district health boards booked a hall in some smaller towns for well-advertised-in-advance day clinics.

“If it’s possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It’s part of being a good boss,” Chris said. . . 

Fall in dairy and forestry demand hits commodity prices :

Weakening demand for dairy and forestry exports saw commodity prices fall in August.

The ANZ Bank’s World Commodity Price Index dropped 1.6 percent last month, as dairy and wood products retreat from the extreme highs these hit earlier this year.

The dairy sub index fell 4 percent month on month, with whole milk powder, a key driver of farmer’s returns, falling 6.5 percent.

Forestry prices fell sharply, down 6.6 percent in August, as high overseas demand for logs started to ease. . . 


Rural round-up

28/08/2021

Feds: Be targeted, not revolutionary, about RMA change –  Simon Edwards:

Federated Farmers has called for “extreme caution” in repealing or re-writing the Resource Management Act.

Targeted and focused change, rather than wholesale replacement, would provide the ability to make changes to address problems with the RMA whilst minimising the disruption to 30 years’ of case law, to councils, resource users and communities, Feds said a submission to the Environment Select Committee.

An independent economic assessment of the proposed Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) warns of higher costs and more uncertainty.

Federated Farmers commissioned Douglas Birnie, Director of Enfocus to assess the economic implications of the NBA, the first of three new pieces of legislation planned to replace the RMA. His assessment is that the resource management approach proposed in the NBA risks: . . 

Pāmu reports a 29 million after tax profit:

A strong year for its dairy and forestry portfolios has seen the state owned farmer, Pāmu, report a $29 million after tax profit.

The company which owns about 200 farms said total revenue was $250 million – with the milk cheque accounting for half of all farm operating revenue.

Chief executive Steve Carden said the company was still hit with covid-19 disruptions such as lower prices for some red meat categories.

But as a diversified farming business, its capacity to offset any downsides in year on year returns with upsides across other aspects of its portfolio is growing. . . 

Food-derived opioids are a medical frontier – Keith Woodford:

In late 2020, I was invited to write a paper on food derived-opioids for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, with a focus including effects on microbiota.  Eight months later and the paper has been written, then refereed by three scientists chosen by the journal, then modified in response to the referees’ critiques and now published. The paper draws on and integrates evidence from 125 prior-published papers. It is available online via a link at the end of this post.

The key messages are that food-derived opioids from A1 beta-casein and also from gluten are a medical frontier, with clear evidence that they affect the microbiota in our digestive system, but also linking within a complex system to the brain and multiple internal organs.

Fundamental to this system is the widespread presence of opioid receptors to which the food-derived opioids attach. These opioid receptors are present in the brain, intestines, pancreas, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, adrenal glands and many other places.

The natural role of opioid receptors is as part of the internal messaging system between the gut, brain, internal organs and peripheral tissues. But when external opioids are consumed, either in the form of drugs or within food, then the internal messaging is disrupted. The body then reacts to this in multiple ways, including inflammation and autoimmune responses. . . 

Good Progress on intensive winter grazing rules:

The Government’s confirmation it is shelving the unworkable pugging and sowing date rules in its latest intensive winter grazing proposal is positive for farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says.

The controversial pugging and resowing date rules have been replaced with a practical management approach under the revised intensive winter grazing proposals, which have just been released for public consultation.

“We, and other industry groups, have for some time been calling on the Government to replace the pugging and sowing date rules with sensible and pragmatic alternatives,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“It is positive for farmers that we now have clarity on the proposed approach in this area, which aligns with the recommendations of the Southland Winter Grazing advisory group last December. . .

Mānuka honey sales in US and China drives profit for Comvita :

The listed honey producer Comvita is crediting strong growth in Mānuka sales to the US and China for helping drive a return to profit.

Reported net profit after tax was $9.5 million, compared to a loss of $9.7 million in the previous year.

Comvita said the 2021 financial year had been a crucial one for the company, as it looked to prove the businessess’ significant potential.

In 2020 the company completed a strategic review and chief executive David Banfield said the business had gone through significant change in order to arrive at this point. . . 

Non-urgent veterinary appointments on hold:

Non-urgent veterinary appointments on hold until COVID-19 levels reduce

While veterinarians are still providing care and treatment for animals during lockdown, it’s far from business as usual.

According to two of Aotearoa’s key veterinary organisations, the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), COVID-19 restrictions have changed how animals, as well as people, receive healthcare.

“Under Alert Level 4 restrictions, veterinarians can only provide care that can’t be postponed,” according to the Council’s Veterinary Advisor Dr Seton Butler. “As a result, non-urgent healthcare, routine vaccinations and regular checks need to be postponed until the situation changes.” . . 

Enviromark diamond certification for Silver Fern Farms:

Enviromark diamond certification reflects Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to sustainability best practice

Silver Fern Farms has achieved Toitū enviromark diamond certification, the highest New Zealand-based environmental certification. This represents another important step in Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to playing a leadership role in driving sustainability in the red meat sector.

Enviromark diamond is recognised internationally as equivalent to ISO 14001 accreditation, and to achieve enviromark diamond certification New Zealand companies in fact need to exceed some ISO requirements.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer said achieving enviromark diamond is a massive endorsement for the company’s systems and the ways it is managing environmental impacts and risk. . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/08/2021

Confusion around new docking rules – Coin Williscroft:

New docking rules that came into force in May are causing concern and confusion among some farmers.

MPI announced the new regulations, which aim to improve sheep welfare by clarifying how tail-docking should be done and who can carry it out, at the end of last year.

A sheep’s tail cannot be docked shorter than the distal end of the caudal fold. This means the tail needs to be long enough to cover the vulva in ewes and a similar length in rams.

Docking too short could result in a fine of $500, or $1500 for a business, and if multiple sheep are involved that could lead to court proceedings. . . 

In perspective:

More and more farmers around the country are doing the right things in regard to environmental management. Recent reports by a number of regional councils around NZ show positive results when it comes to managing effluent on farms.

Meanwhile, despite winter grazing practices across the country coming under the microscope, there have been few reports of major breaches of the regulations. This is even more remarkable considering the flooding experienced in some regions.

For years, governments, councils, environmentalists, activists et el have been pushing for the agricultural sector to lift its environmental game. The evidence shows that farmers are responding and responding well!

However, anyone reading, listening or viewing mainstream media in NZ could be forgiven for thinking that the opposite is occurring. Every sector has its slackers, those who are not doing the right things, and farming is no exception. The industry, including farmers themselves, must continue to come down hard on those who let the whole sector down. . . 

Farmers living the dream – Sudesh Kissun:

‘ToViewADream Farming’ was started 16 years ago by farmer Dion Kilmister and it’s been living up to its name ever since.

Today, the business comprises of four farming properties finishing 17,000 lambs and 600 cattle a year. The jewel in the crown – a butcher shop in Masterton – opened last year.

The journey has been one of hard work, calculated risks, tragedy and resilience. Dion’s wife, Ali Kilmister, told their story at the recent South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) in Ashburton.

In January 2005, he arrived in the Wairarapa with first wife Maria and two children – Maria’s daughter Aleshia and their son Jayden. All they had were 70 steers that they had had out grazing in the King Country, and a $30,000 overdraft. . .

Growing the workforce – vegetable producer offers bonus for turning up to work – Country Life:

One of New Zealand’s largest vegetable growers is paying people a bonus for turning up to work.

Gisborne-based LeaderBrand has rolled out a raft of benefits in order to secure a workforce.

“I think our job now is to make it easy for people to come to work,” says LeaderBrand chief executive Richard Burke.

LeaderBrand employs 400 people across New Zealand and another 150 during seasonal peaks. . . 

Potato industry shows resilience – Annette Scott:

The New Zealand potato industry remains a growing sector despite enduring a challenging year.

Ahead of the industry’s annual forums, Potatoes NZ (PNZ) chief executive Chris Claridge reports the total value of the industry sits at $1.16 billion, amidst a year of crises and disappointment.

This represents a 58% growth rate since industry targets were set in 2013.

“This result shows the immense value of our processing sector, with 55% of our locally-grown potatoes producing fries and another 12% producing crisps,” Claridge said. . .

Tasmanian farmer finds a “nutty” way of beating power regulations – Andrew Miller:

A northern Tasmanian prime lamb producer has found a novel way around TasNetworks regulations, which restricts power generated on-farm to use in only one piece of plant, home or shed.

TasNetworks insists on a separate meter, for each point on the property using power.

That means electricity for most of the farm has to be purchased from hundreds of kilometres away, rather than using on-property generated power.

Simon Hackett has circumvented the regulations by linking an aircraft hangar, houses and shearing shed on his 70 hectare farm by cable to his 100kw solar system. . . 


Rural round-up

15/07/2021

Howl of a protest on the way – Sally Rae:

“Farming could be a joy but really it’s a bloody nightmare.”

Jim Macdonald has been farming Mt Gowrie Station, at Clarks Junction, since 1970 and he has worked through difficult times.

What farmers were battling now had been “created by a government that does not understand and does not even want to understand,” he said.

On Friday, Mr Macdonald will take part in Howl of a Protest, a New Zealand-wide Groundswell NZ-organised event to show support for farmers and growers. . .

National MPs Out In Strong Support Of Farmers :

This Friday rural communities up and down New Zealand will stage a protest at the overbearing government interference in their businesses and lives, and National MPs will be right there supporting them, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

The protests are organised by Groundswell, a community based group formed as a result of the unworkable Freshwater reforms in Southland. It has expanded nationwide and the recent Ute Tax announcement has seen urban communities become involved as well.

“Our rural communities worked hard to get New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic, they are the backbone of our economy,” Mr Bennett says. . .

Concern over calving season amid labour shortage – Neal Wallace:

They may have had one of their highest ever milk payouts but dairy farmers are anxious about the human toll of the looming calving season, as the industry grapples with an estimated shortage of 4000 workers.

Federated Farmers board member Chris Lewis says the industry’s reliance on immigrant workers will remain, at least until the Government changes to vocational training is completed, which could be several years.

He believes the Government’s recently announced plans to curb migrant workers is shortsighted and will hinder the country’s ability to utilise high international product prices and demand to repay debt, which is growing at over $80 million a day. . .

NZ has reached ‘peak milk’ Fonterra CFO warns – Farrah Hancock:

We’ve reached “peak milk” and are entering the era of “flat milk”, Fonterra’s chief financial officer warns.

Marc Rivers said he couldn’t see the volume of milk New Zealand produces increasing again, “so, I guess we could go ahead and call that peak milk”.

Environmental restrictions were impacting how much more land the dairy industry could occupy.

“We don’t see any more land conversions going into dairy – that’s quite a change from before,” he said. . . 

Vets may choose Oz over NZ – Jesica Marshall:

Border restrictions are putting a roadblock in the way of getting more veterinarians to New Zealand and some are even choosing to go to Australia instead, a recruitment consultant says.

Julie South, talent acquisition consultant with VetStaff, told Rural News that while many overseas vets are keen to work in New Zealand, some don’t mind where they end up.

She says prior to the Government’s announcement that 50 vets would be granted border class exceptions, she’d been working with vets who were considering both Australia and New Zealand as potential places to work in. “However, because the Australian government made it super-easy for them to work in Australia, that’s where they opted to go,” she says. . . 

Farmers facing six-figure losses as salmonella-entertidis wrecks poultry industry:

The poultry industry is in a state of shock and companies are facing huge financial hits following the detection of Salmonella Enteritidis.

Poultry Industry Association and the Egg Producers Federation executive director Michael Brooks said it had been detected in three flocks of meat chickens and on three egg farms in the North Island with some linked to a hatchery in the Auckland area.

None of the affected eggs or meat had entered the market for human consumption, but it was a blow to the industry, he said.

“We’ve never had Salmonella Enteritidis before in this country in our poultry industry. This has been a real shock to the industry but we are meeting the concerns and we will be putting place through a mandated government scheme – which we agree with – to ensure testing is of the highest level and consumers are protected.” . . 

New Zealand tractor and equipment sales continue to grow:

The first half of 2021 has got off to a superb start for sales of farm equipment.

Tractor and Machinery Association of New Zealand (TAMA) president Kyle Baxter said there had been substantial sales increases across all tractor horsepower segments and equipment compared with the same time last year.

Mr Baxter said the big increases reflected a continuing catch up in on-farm vehicle investment as farmers looked again to the future.

“It’s fantastic to see the confidence continue across all of the sectors, and in turn this confidence flowing into wider economy. . .


Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Rural round-up

14/05/2021

Global food demand on fraught path – Anna Campbell:

My eldest son is flatting and when he comes to visit, one of the first things he does is open our fridge and moan about the price of cheese. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I remember doing the same to my parents.

What we eat and the quality of what we eat, is correlated with what we earn and this is a global phenomenon. All over the world, as wealth increases, so too does consumption of proteins, particularly meat and milk (and fancy cheeses).

We have seen this in China, as the country’s wealth has increased, so too has their consumption of dairy and meat products.

This has been hugely important for New Zealand’s economy and ongoing standard of living. This year, close to 50% of our meat production has been exported to China — no wonder our exporters shake in their boots when politicians start laying down principles. But that is another matter. . . 

Vet shortage nationa-wide pushing them to breaking point – Hugo Cameron:

Vets say a nationwide shortage of staff, drought and uncertainty due to Covid-19 is pushing them to a breaking point.

Veterinary Association (NZVA) chief officer Helen Beattie said the country is between 50 and 100 vets short, which is affecting the well-being of both people and animals.

“We know there’s a bunch of vets out there that are going well above and beyond and, as we know, that’s for a limited time only for all of us.”

Beattie said NZVA had talked to vets who had stood down temporarily due to work-life imbalance affecting the well-being of them and their families. . .

From MP to farmer politician – Sally Rae:

Mark Patterson has gone from farming to politics to farmer politics.

Mr Patterson, who served one term as a New Zealand First list MP, has been elected president of Federated Farmers Otago, taking over from Simon Davies who stepped down at the recent annual meeting in Tapanui.

With his previous experience in Parliament — which ended after last year’s general election when New Zealand First failed to make the 5% threshold — the Lawrence farmer said he felt an obligation to “give something back”. While not necessarily looking to take over as president, he was asked and agreed to take it on.

Asked what the transition had been like from Parliament to back on the farm, Mr Patterson said it did not take too long “to get back into the rhythm”, given he had been farming for 30 years before becoming an MP. . . 

Farms underway for NEew Zealand’s first solar farms – Business Desk:

A new company says it intends to build New Zealand’s first major industrial-scale solar farms at a cost of $300 million.

The five solar farms across the upper North Island would generate approximately 400 Gigawatt hours (GWh), with more than 500,000 solar panels over 500ha of land.

Lodestone Energy managing director Gary Holden says the development is the most ambitious solar venture in NZ to date, and will provide solar energy to Dargaville, Kaitaia, Whakatāne, Edgecumbe and Whitianga.

The first site planned for development is a 62 GWh solar plant in Kaitaia, it will have up to 80,000 panels and will supply electricity directly to a Top Energy substation. . . 

Demand up for New Zealand wool grease – Sally Murphy:

Global demand for wool grease is seeing big returns for a New Zealand exporter.

The grease which is a by-product of wool scouring is used in cosmetics, skincare and medicines.

New Zealand wool is high in cholesterol which can then be turned into vitamin D. The vitamin is in Covid-19 vaccines which is increasing demand for wool grease.

WoolWorks New Zealand is the only company in the country that produces and exports wool grease. . .

Victorian Rabbit Action Network says community action is key – Rebecca Nadge:

The Victorian Rabbit Action Network says ongoing community led action against rabbit numbers is having an impact, but managing the pest is a shared responsibility.

VRAN mentor Neil Devanny delivers training courses on rabbit control to communities around the state.

He said areas with the most success were communities that had a coordinated approach to control work.

A range of methods were required to tackle populations, he said, which included being aware of how many rabbits there were and ensuring all control work was carried out at the optimum time. . .


Rural round-up

11/05/2021

Primary sector exports defy challenges – Sudesh Kissun:

Primary sector exporters, take a bow.

Despite major challenges, New Zealand primary sector exports are holding up well. And it’s not just dairy products leaving our ports in droves – beef, apples, kiwifruit, wine and sheepmeat are also being shipped out.

According to BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap, NZ primary sector exports have been impressively resilient to the massive global economic shock over the past 12 months.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel points out that exporters have been facing considerable challenges – many of which are ongoing.

Critical worker shortage on dairy farmers will take a toll:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed the government’s exception announcement today shows it could not find a way to bring 500 desperately needed skilled dairy employees into the country.

Feds believes the pressure some farming families are now under, due to a severe lack of people to work on farms, is already taking a toll on stress levels, wellbeing and health.

“Farmers have been telling us for well over a year there is a real shortage of suitable dairy staff,” Federated Farmers employment and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I am getting daily calls about the labour situation and many farmers don’t know what to do for the coming season. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry welcomes Government’s decision to bring in more workers from the Pacific:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Government’s latest move to increase the flow of workers from the Pacific, in support of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. 

‘Pacific workers are an integral part of the horticulture industry’s seasonal workforce, particularly for harvest and winter pruning.  They make up the shortfall in New Zealanders while at the same time, enabling the horticulture industry to grow and employ more New Zealanders in permanent positions,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Indeed, over the past decade, the New Zealand horticulture industry has grown by 64% to $6.49 billion while in 2019, before Covid struck, more than $40 million was returned to Pacific economies through the RSE scheme.  . .

Silver Fern Farms creates opportunities for young people to succeed in the red meat industry :

Silver Fern Farms will launch their search for the future stars of the red meat industry in the coming weeks, with applications opening for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Silver Fern Farms Graduate Career Programme.

Since 2017 Silver Fern Farms has invested $130,000 to further the careers of young people through Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships, and has also placed nine young people in roles around the business in the Graduate Career Programme.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Graduate Career Programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers. . .

Alternative proteins industry has huge potential but lacks direction – report – Maja Burry:

New Zealand’s alternative proteins sector has huge potential, but is fragmented and lacks clear leadership, according to a new report.

The report was done by FoodHQ, a group which represents the country’s food innovation organisations, and was based on input from 185 people working in the broader sector. Products considered to be emerging proteins include plant-based foods and beverages, insect foods and lab-grown proteins.

FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson said while there was huge potential to meet global demand for emerging proteins, the industry faced significant challenges.

“New Zealand is currently missing a co-ordinated approach that is going to help drive some of addressing infrastructure gaps that is going to really help with the attraction and retention and development of talented scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who can really drive some of this stuff.” . .

New technology brings vegetables centre stage:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is enabling New Zealand to tap into the growing market for plant-based products, where vegetables feature as a ‘centre of the plate’ item.

A diverse range of new processed vegetable products is now available on the market, thanks to $147,000 investment from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund – and more innovation is under way.

The two-year project led by Food Nation, which kicked off in mid-2019, aimed to develop a range of plant-based ‘meat alternative’ foods using mushroom seconds and an array of other more novel plants.

One year on, it has made some exciting progress. . . 


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