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. . . 


Rural round-up

08/05/2021

Sheep and beef farms are getting squeezed – Keith Woodford:

The sheep and beef industry is getting squeezed from all sides, yet export returns exceed $7 billion.

I decided recently that it was time to take a closer look at what is happening on sheep and beef farms. The underlying motive is that I have been giving thought as to what the sheep and beef industry, which contributes around $7 billion of export income each year, might look like in another ten or twenty years. But before getting too immersed in that future, I needed to make sure I understood the present and how we got to where we are now.

When I left school a very long time ago, I had in mind that I wanted to be a sheep farmer myself. As a school boy, I used to peruse the advertisements each weekend in Saturday’s newspaper and figure out what a farm for 1000 ewes plus young stock and a few beef cows would cost. The land cost was around 20,000 New Zealand pounds, with this converting subsequently in 1967 to around $40,000. The figure now is about 30 times that, perhaps more, before taking into account that 1000 ewes would no longer be anywhere near enough for a living. . . 

Two big announcements awaited from Fonterra – one deals with dairy payout, the other with the co-op’s capital structure – Point of Order:

So what  are  the  chances Fonterra’s  payout  to its farmer-suppliers  could  top  $8kg/MS the  soon-to-end  current  season?

That would give a  timely  boost  to  the  rural economy  and give  farmers  the kind  of  surge  in incomes  which  would encourage them  to  step up the  pace  of  adapting their dairy farming practices as  the  country  moves  to meet its  climate  change goals.

In March, Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for this season to between $7.30 and $7.90kg/MS with a mid-point of $7.60. That was up from $7.14 last season.

But now, after several  good  results  from the fortnightly GDT auctions, and indications from futures contract prices, the  speculation  is that the payout  could go  higher. . . 

Farms hidden economic vulnerability revealed – Jonathan Milne:

A new stress test reveals just how exposed our farmers are to labour shortages, drought or a downturn in commodity prices.

Milk prices are high and times seem good for dairy farmers – but the Reserve Bank warns half of dairy farms face debt restructuring if milk solid prices drop back below $5.50/kg.

Dairy is just one of the primary production sectors where pockets of high debt create real economic exposure – for farming families, provincial communities and the economy.

While still relatively small, banks’ lending to horticulture producers has maintained a solid growth rate, increasing 11 percent in the year to March. Banks should continue to monitor associated risks, including the sector’s vulnerability to labour shortages and severe weather events, the Reserve Bank says in its first Financial Stability Report this year. . . 

Should rabbits be on the LIM report – Jill Herron:

It’s a dream lifestyle in a dream location, but owning property in Central Otago often comes with an expanding family of unwanted guests. Should real estate agents be telling prospective buyers about the rabbit problem?

World famous for its breathtaking landscape, skifields, wineries and pristine lakes, Central Otago is also fast becoming notorious for its pest population.

And those buying into the lifestyle dream need to be aware of what they are taking on, according to long-time real estate agent, Edwin Lewis.

The fact the costly, destructive and incredibly persistent pests accompany most purchases is proving a rude shock to many newcomers throughout the region. . . 

Minaret Station PLUS an amazing West Coast wilderness experienceJane Jeffries :

Arriving at the Alpine Helicopters hanger in Queenstown, I was full of anticipation for our three days at Minaret Station. I’d read about this property and have always had an inkling to go. Now three nights for the price of two, thanks to Covid, we are on our way. This much talked about Minaret luxury lodge, set in a glacial valley in the Southern Alps, is seriously remote. We had to chopper over some of New Zealand’s most inaccessible, jagged terrain to get there.

The well-known Wallis family are at the heart of this working farm. They are acknowledged in the Central Otago community for their contribution to aviation, farming, deer exporting and tourism. Sir Tim Wallis was one of the great deer farming pioneers. As a young man, his love of the land, aviation and adventure lured him into the helicopter business. He pioneered live deer capture from helicopters which lead to a significant industry in New Zealand. His nick-name, ‘Hurricane Tim,’ was well-earned for his daring flying and would not be approved by OSHA today!

As the helicopter fleet grew to support the commercial and agriculture arm of the family business, they decided to diversify into tourism. They started offering scenic flights and heli-skiing in the South Island in the 1980s. Then, in 2010 they opening the doors to the Minaret Alpine Lodge. The family wanted to share the beauty of the 50,000-acre working farm, home to some 12,000 deer, 1,300 cattle, and 1,000 sheep. . . 

Ravensdown appoints national agronomy manager:

Ravensdown has appointed Will Waddell as its new National Agronomy Manager. Will’s responsibility will be enhancing the co-operative’s service in seeds, agrichemicals and agronomic advice.

The new role leads a nationwide team of nine specialist agronomists supported by a product management team of four and benefits from Ravensdown’s partnership with Cropmark Seeds.

“I look forward to supporting and leading our talented team of agronomists to bring practical and innovative farm systems solutions to our shareholders as we respond to environmental and social needs,” says Waddell.

General Manager Customer Relationships Bryan Inch congratulated Will Waddell on his appointment to the newly created position. . . 


Rural round-up

31/03/2021

500 migrant staff needed to fill labour shortage – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ are requesting the Government allow 500 migrant dairy staff into New Zealand to avoid a worker shortage in the new milking season.

These staff would fill positions in the mid to high skilled employment category that New Zealanders new to the sector or in lower skilled dairy assistant roles would be unsuitable for in time for the 2021-22 season, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

The request comes after the two organisations commissioned a survey in March to gain a better understanding of the staffing issues facing dairy employers.

That survey drew 1150 responses in just one week. . . 

Money versus morals – Robert Carter:

The continued conversion of hill country farmland to forestry is a trend concerning Robert Carter.

The 50 Shades of Green has led a good informative campaign about the spread of pines onto good hill country farmland, however I too feel compelled to say something before I become relegated to the state of a ‘quaint curiosity’ folks will pay to visit to see how things used to be in the good old days.

I’m referring to the steady and seemingly unstoppable conversion of our hill country breeding farms to hectares of pine trees for carbon sequestration purposes.

Just recently another couple of local farms succumbed.

The carbon investors, buoyed by our government policy, which encourages conversion in this market, are buying properties as they come up for sale. . .

Guardians of the land – Fiona Terry:

Innovating to advance is something that runs in the blood of those at Caythorpe Family Estate in Marlborough. Fiona Terry spoke to the Bishell brothers managing the business they hope will thrive for many generations to come.

As fifth-generation guardians of the land first purchased by UK immigrant David Bishell, Simon and Scott Bishell are continuing a long-standing tradition of diversification and trend-bucking to future-proof.

Their great, great grandfather was a farm labourer who arrived in Nelson in 1876, with his wife Mary and three children. He leased some land to grow pumpkins, and following a successful crop, purchased 50ha west of Blenheim township in 1880.

Within two years, and despite the hard mahi converting the flax-covered swamp land into a productive area, he became the first farmer in the country to grow red clover as a seed crop, commissioning the build of an innovative thresher to harvest. . . 

Product check: how to find the good oil – Jacqueline Rowarth:

As the tsunami of mail arrives in the inbox, through rural delivery or the internet, there can be some confusion in sorting whether the products and suggestions will be useful or not. Are the fliers marketing or science? How do you know whether adoption will be positive – or whether not taking up the offer will mean you drop behind?

For people swimming in a flood of information and trying to find the good oil, consider asking the following questions:

Is there a time limit or quantity limit on the offer? Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) induces rash behaviour. The Auckland housing market makes the point…

What problem is the new thing solving? Do you actually have that problem? I was offered a product that would improve animal health on the farm. I replied that the farm owner is a vet. I was then told that the product would improve soil health. I replied that I am a soil scientist. At that point I was told that it would do other things as well…

Triple Whammy for 2021 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards:

The 2021 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year is no stranger to the programme, having won both the Farm Manager and Dairy Trainee categories in different regions previously.

John Wyatt won the 2009 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year category and was named the 2015 Manawatu Farm Manager of the Year.

On Saturday night, he completed the category trifecta by winning the 2021 Taranaki Share Farmer of the Year.

The region’s annual awards dinner was held at the TSB Hub in Hawera with Diego Raul Gomez Salinas named the 2021 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year and Sydney Porter the 2021 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners believe a good team with a can-do attitude is vital to the success of their business.

Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj were named the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards last night in Masterton. Other major winners were Leon McDonald, the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, and Tony Craig, the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The brothers are 50/50 sharemilkers on Andrew and Monika Arbuthnott, Geoff Arends and Ester Romp’s 285ha, 460-cow Eketahuna property. They won $7,882 in prizes and four merit awards.

Both Manoj and Sumit have entered the Awards previously, with Sumit placing third in the 2018 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager category. . . 


Rural round-up

29/03/2021

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

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

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

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

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

Orchard work shortage bites – Jared Morgan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy to be farming hops – Country Life:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

07/01/2021

Massive deluge ‘kick in teeth ‘ at start of year – Hamish MacLean:

The deluge that drowned crops, dug up roads, and overwhelmed water supplies in Otago to start the year was a “real kick in the teeth” for many.

In some places, localised downpours dumped up to a third of the annual average rainfall for an area on to land and into rivers that could not cope.

And while a cleanup that could take weeks or months was under way yesterday, the region’s mayors said Otago had weathered another major storm.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said things were slowly returning to normal yesterday but roads remained closed, bridges were damaged, and three towns were on boil-water notices. . . 

Few ATMs, unreliable internet – and now banks cheque-mate farmers – Nikki Mandow:

Banks are accused of discriminating against rural customers by phasing out cheques before the broadband rollout to farms is complete. A Rural Women survey shows one in four families have little or no bank or ATM access, and many still have no internet – but the banks are ripping up their cheques.

Farmers and rural households are being told to switch to internet banking when banks stop accepting cheques this year. Yet thousands still have no access to broadband. Go figure.

In August 2020, Rural Women NZ sent out a survey to members, a survey which garnered the highest response rate that government relations manager Angela McLeod can remember over the two years she’s been in the job. 

Her members weren’t getting hot under the collar about health or education, agriculture or the environment. It wasn’t even a survey about firearms – although that survey got the second highest response rate.  . . 

How the Canes make hay while the sun shines – The Country:

Malcolm Cane has always preferred to do it himself, from silage and haymaking to drilling and cultivating.

Looking back over 30 years of deer-farming, it’s probably been a big part of his success.

Cane and his wife Kathy farm 390ha at Reporoa, of which 146ha is leased to a dairy farmer.

The Canes run about 1000 stags and 500 hinds, plus about 500 mixed-sex weaners at any one time. . . 

Detectors help bat walks work – Richard Davison:

Visitors to the Catlins have a chance to catch one of the area’s more elusive residents on the wing this summer.

Owaka couple Annette and Murray Patterson are leading a pair of New Zealand long-tailed bat detection walks during the holidays, under the twin banners of South Otago Forest and Bird, and the Catlins Bats on the Map project.

The first, successful, outing took place on December 29, and aspiring chiropterologists (bat scientists) could sign up for the second, at Tawanui, on Saturday, January 16, Mrs Patterson said.

The walks form part of an ongoing study programme led by self-described “bat lady” Catriona Gower, which has identified key Catlins locations for the critically endangered native mammal species. . . 

People are seasonal too – Stephen Barnard:

Over the festive period a number of city folk will have packed the car and travelled into the regions to catch up with their farming relatives.

If they completed the same trip last year they might have noticed changes in the countryside on their way. Hopefully greener pasture, fuller dams and fatter livestock.

Once arrived they might have been greeted by a swarm of flies, a pack of farm dogs making an eager inspection, and by talk of the weather, the harvest and the market.

Depending on the farm, they’ll have witnessed a flurry of activity as crops were harvested, or else not much at all as their family members took a well-earned break. . .

Emphasise UK meat’s sustainability this year, sector says :

Wales could put forward positive credentials as the world’s most sustainable place to produce red meat as climate change is set to dominate 2021, according to an industry figure.

In his New Year’s Day message, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) chairman Kevin Roberts painted an up-beat picture of the long-term future of Welsh red meat.

Mr Roberts’s reminded the food and farming industry that Welsh beef and lamb were strong brands that consumers could trust in uncertain times.

He pointed out that UK retail sales of lamb and beef had risen in 2020 as consumers supported domestic farmers, that European importers had stuck with Welsh meat through the worst of Brexit uncertainty, and that long-term work to develop new markets was paying off. . . 


Rural round-up

24/12/2020

Regional economies: agriculture strong, tourism struggling:

Regions with large agricultural bases have surging regional economies while those which relied heavily on tourism were struggling.

The latest quarterly figures from Westpac McDermott Miller showed that Gisborne/Hawkes Bay have recorded a huge bounce in confidence, followed by Nelson-Marlborough-West Coast and Taranaki/Manawatū-Whanganui.

It showed the “optimists now outweighed the pessimists” in most regions, except in Northland, Otago and Southland – although the news was not entirely grim for the southern regions which had been hard-hit by the Covid-19 linked downturn.

Senior agri economist Nathan Penny said the bounce in confidence for most regions was a reflection of the general rebound in the economy, helped by news of positive vaccine developments overseas. . . 

Milk price forecast boosted by banks – Sally Rae:

Rabobank and ASB have both increased their farm-gate milk price forecasts to $7 for the 2020-21 season, following an improving dairy outlook.

Prices edged up again at last week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction — the last for the year — with an overall price increase of 1.3%.

Gains were strongest for the fat products; butter prices were up 6% and anhydrous milk fat up 1.9% while whole and skim milk powder lifted 0.5% and 1.2% respectively.

ASB economist Nat Keall said the result reflected the fact global demand was still holding up well, providing support for dairy prices. . . 

Westpac Agri Futures established to help young people into rural careers:

The importance of our primary industries has been recognised with a new sector to be included in The 2021 Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games.

The Rural Games will now include Westpac Agri Futures in association with Property Brokers and this is to be held on Friday 12th March in Palmerston North.

Westpac New Zealand General Manager Institutional & Business Banking, Simon Power said Agri Futures is all about encouraging the next generation into agriculture sector careers.

“The demand for staff across rural New Zealand has only grown since COVID-19, and Westpac understands the need to support efforts to encourage more Kiwis to enter the rural workforce.” . . 

Federated Farmers hails pragmatic migrant worker visa decisions:

Farmers and growers up and down the land will be pleased with the pragmatic decision by government to extend visas for migrant workers already on our shores.

“The six-month extension for employer-assisted work visa holders and the postponed stand down period for low-paid Essential Skills via holders will come as a relief for the primary sector heading into the Christmas and New Year period,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We thank Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi for listening to our case for this, and recognising a common sense approach. . . 

NZ Rural Land Company has quiet NZX debut :

The New Zealand Rural Land Company (NZRLC) has had a quiet debut on the stock exchange, listing at a slight premium.

Its shares touched a high of $1.31 in early trading compared with the issue price of $1.25 in the recent share float, before settling at $1.28 with only small volumes being traded.

The company raised $75 million in the public share float, which along with debt will give it about $100m for rural land buying.

NZRLC plans to buy rural land and lease it to farmers or other producers. . . 

Tractor and Machinery Association announces 2021 scholarships:

The Tractor & Machinery Association Inc (TAMA) is offering to industry trainees who are studying towards a certificate or diploma.

There are several $500 scholarships available to industry trainees who can demonstrate their commitment and potential contribution to the industry. Applications for 2021 open on 18 January and close on 5 March with successful applicants advised in May.

TAMA general manager Ron Gall said the scholarships are part of TAMA’s wider efforts to encourage younger people to stay working in the industry and take advantage of the valuable career path it offers. . . 


Rural round-up

20/11/2020

Animal welfare clock ticking on cheater boarder decision:

Federated Farmers and the Shearing Contractors Association are looking for an urgent decision from the government to allow experienced sheep shearers into the country.

“We’ve been reminding the government since late winter we are going to have increasing urgency around the need for shearers this summer,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

As the weather heats up, the urgency increases.

Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chair and Wairarapa farmer William Beetham says animal welfare is becoming an issue. . .

Farmers continue protest momentum with group petition – Sally Rae:

A group of farmers is planning its next move — including a petition to Parliament and a farmer meeting in Gore — in a bid to seek changes to the national policy statement (NPS) for freshwater management.

Groundswell NZ stemmed from last month’s tractor trek in Gore, which was organised by farmers Laurie Paterson, of Greenvale, and Bryce McKenzie, of Pomahaka.

Yesterday, Mr Paterson said the group was looking at what it could do to “make our voice heard” and it was buoyed by the support already received.

There had been an overwhelming response to the tractor trek and he and Mr McKenzie felt they could not leave it there. . . 

Horticultural training offers high-value career options to Northland youths:

Thanks to a partnership between Plant & Food Research and Orangewood Packhouse, over the last four years 51 students from five Northland secondary schools have graduated from a horticultural programme that offers hands-on training and NCEA credits.

The Kerikeri Gateway Horticulture Schools Programme has recently secured additional funding from Te Taitokerau Trades Academy to continue its 5th session in 2021. Championed by Plant & Food Research, the programme is an investment in the future of science and horticulture and supports the organisation’s Māori strategy TONO and its goal to foster Māori talent, particularly rangatahi Māori (Māori youth).

“It’s very encouraging news to us and everyone who has worked towards making this happen despite the challenges brought by COVID-19,” Stacey Whitiora, Group GM Māori, Plant & Food Research, says. . . 

Millions of New Zealand flowers now sold on livestream auction platform:

Millions of dollars worth of New Zealand flowers are being traded using a virtual auction platform which has seen a surge in buyer usage since lockdown.

The digital platform is being credited with supporting the resilience of the local flower industry – providing continuity during raised alert levels and helping connect growers and retailers when attendance at physical marketplaces was not possible.

The locally designed online auction took more than three years to build and beta test – and now allows retail buyers to enter an auction remotely, review and purchase their flowers through live streaming cameras – a first for the New Zealand market.

Flowers auctions in New Zealand are based on a Dutch auction or ‘clock auction’ model where the price counts down in intervals from a reserve or starting value to a price where a buyer is willing to purchase. . . 

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership applauded by NZ Onion’s growers and exporters :

The country’s onion growers and exporters are welcoming the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

‘This agreement will ensure that New Zealand’s onion exports continue to grow. Without improved market access and reduced tariffs, it is extremely difficult for a small country like New Zealand to export to larger economies like Asia and Australia,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘The agreement will reduce complexity by developing a single set of trade rules across all markets within the agreement. It provides a process for addressing non-tariff barriers within clear timeframes.

‘Of immediate benefit is the expectation that customs authorities will release perishable goods within six hours of arrival. This will help ensure that our onions arrive in market in the best possible condition.’ . . 

Tantalise your tastebuds with tangy cheddar with caramelised onion:

The new, tasty Castello® Cheddar with Caramelised Onion, also known as Red Onion Cheddar, offers a rich and salty flavour, rounded with the addition of caramelised onions for a cheese that can stand on its own, be used as an ingredient or become the star of a cheese board.

Castello’s Red Onion Cheddar is tangy and sweet with a crumbly texture so is perfect for grating onto pizzas or flatbread for a wonderful, sweet onion boost. It complements grilled chicken or turkey burgers with its unique sharpness and delivers an incredible layer of flavour to your toasted sandwich.

You will find the new Castello® Red Onion Cheddar in the dairy case throughout Countdown stores nationwide and New World stores, North Island, RRP $8.00. . .


Rural round-up

06/11/2020

Feds: staff shortages are undermining safety, mental wellbeing:

Skilled staff shortages are not only taking a toll on productivity but also farmer mental wellbeing, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair and rural health spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“Farmers across New Zealand are having to push the limits to get silage/baleage cut, with many crops in the South Island being harvested when it’s wet.

“With variable weather conditions and a lack of skilled contracting staff, farmers are being pushed to make questionable decisions, such as pushing on with mowing because if they don’t they may not see the contractor again for weeks.” . . 

Dairy farming ‘one of the shining stars of Covid’ – ANZ :

Recent banking results show dairy farming might be one of the “shining stars” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ANZ chief executive Antonia Watson said New Zealand’s farming sector had taken advantage of good prices for their products.

This means they were able to pay down the principal of their loans.

The problems in the dairy industry usually feature large in ANZ Bank’s full year results but they were absent from its latest annual report. . . 

Foreign investors get land purchase approval – Neal Wallace:

Two foreign-owned forestry companies have been given Government approval to buy land in multiple transactions without requiring approval for each purchase from the Overseas Investment Office.

Known as standing consent, Oji Fibre Solutions and Nelson Forests can both buy up to 15,000ha of sensitive land up to a maximum single purchase of 2500ha of land that is exclusively or nearly exclusively in forestry.

The approval also allows the two companies to buy a maximum of 500ha of land per transaction that is not currently in forestry.

The permission is capped at 25 transactions, excludes residential land and expires on 30 September 2023. . . 

Feds on labour issues as DairyNZ shelves GoDairy – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’S shelving of its GoDairy campaign has shown how hard it is to recruit people into the dairy industry, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

DairyNZ has put the dairy training initiative on hold until March as it reviews the three-week course and looks at ways it could be improved.

Federated Farmers assisted DairyNZ in getting GoDairy up and running while at the same time, launching its own scheme to get more New Zealanders onto farms.

He says those who had successfully gained employment were given starter packs from Federated Farmers and so far, 240 packs had been sent out. . . 

Feds president Andrew Hoggard elected to IDF board:

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard is well used to representing New Zealand’s farmers. On top of that, he’ll now be representing dairy farmers from all corners of the planet on the board of the International Dairy Federation.

The Manawatu dairy farmer gets up at 4.30am to milk his herd but at least once or twice a month it’s going to be midnight or 1am starts as he joins on-line northern hemisphere meetings.

The IDF is the only organisation which represents the entire dairy value chain at global level – from farm gate to retailer fridge. Hundreds of millions of people depend on the dairy sector for their livelihoods as farmers, processors, suppliers or traders and every day billions of people consume protein, calcium and other key nutrients from milk and dairy products. . . 

Avian flu: 13,000 birds to be culled at Cheshire farm :

A total of 13,000 chickens are to be culled after an outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) was confirmed at a Cheshire farm.

The H5N8 strain of the disease was confirmed at a broiler breeder’s premises near Frodsham on Monday (2 November).

It follows the unrelated discovery of the H5N2 low pathogenic strain of the virus at a small commercial poultry farm in Deal, Kent, where 480 birds have been culled.

Authorities said all 13,000 birds at the Frodsham premises, which produces hatching eggs, will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. . . 


Rural round-up

18/10/2020

Farmers have form filling issues with sustainability :

Controversial new rules to clean up streams and rivers have fired up election debates and brought an angry backlash from farmers, who say it will cost them tens of thousands of dollars – and won’t make the waterways cleaner. 

Today The Detail visits Chris Lewis at his 500-hectare dairy and dry stock farm in Pukeatua, on the border of Waikato and King Country, to find out what the freshwater regulations mean to him and to look at the work he’s done to tackle environmental damage.

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater largely came into force last month. Rules on intensive winter grazing have been put back to May next year, and regulations on stockholding areas other than feedlots and application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to pastoral land will be in force next July. . . 

Zespri on alert over mystery disease killing Italian kiwifruit – Esther Taunton:

Zespri is on alert over a mystery disease sweeping through Italian kiwifruit crops and leaving scientists baffled.

The disease, which growers call “moria” or “die-off”, begins in the roots of kiwifruit vines, which blacken and rot.

The leaves then wither and drop, leaving fruit exposed to the sun, and the vines dry up and die within two years.

According to The Guardian, the disease broke out near the Italian city of Verona in 2012 and hasaffected up to 84 per cent of vines in some places. . . 

New genetics company created by farmers – Gerald Piddock:

A group of farmers have created a new company to challenge the status quo of how genetics are delivered to the New Zealand dairy industry.

Called Matriarch Genetics Ltd, after the maternal bloodlines that bull breeders contribute to the national herd, its objective is to accelerate the genetic gain and genetic diversity of dairy animals.

Spokesperson Kevin Clark says it was born out of a combination of frustration and opportunity.

Dairy bull breeders were frustrated at the decline in the number of bull genetics companies were accepting into their programmes over recent years. . . 

Dunedin firm to build $12.5m boning system – Jacob McSweeny:

Scott Technology has won a multimillion-dollar contract to build an X-ray lamb boning system for Alliance Group’s plant near Invercargill.

The deal was announced yesterday morning to the NZX and is being lauded as a boost for the local economy in a difficult time.

The technology — worth $12.5million — will be developed at Scott’s Dunedin offices over the next 10 months.

It uses X-ray and vision technology to get more accurate cuts while also removing workers at Alliance’s Lorneville plant from being at the forefront of “heavy primal cutting activities,” thus making it safer for them. . . 

Southern scholarship recipients address red-meat opportunities – Yvonne O’Hara:
Silver Fern Farms has announced its  Pasture to Plate youth scholarship recipients for 2020, adding two additional scholarships on top of the six usually offered. That move was to strengthen its support for the industry through the challenges presented by Covid-19, chief executive Simon Limmer said. Southern Rural Life reporter Yvonne O’Hara speaks to the three southern recipients — Imogen Brankin, Leora Werner and Dan Ryan. The other successful applicants were Jack Monckton, Harry Hawkins, Joe Ward, Jazmine Burgess and Sam Phipps.

Scholarship and lamb for the flat

Now that Dan Ryan has been named as a Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate scholarship recipient, he is going to have to make good on what he promised to spend the money on.

Mr Ryan is in his final year of a commerce degree at Lincoln University, majoring in supply chain management, global business and marketing. . . 

IWSC awards New Zealand’s only gold medal wine to te Pa Family Vineyards 2020 rosé:

International Wine & Spirits Competition judges call te Pa 2020 Rosé ‘A perfect benchmark for the style’

te Pa Family Vineyards, the independently owned, Maori winery in Marlborough, is celebrating after winning the country’s only gold medal for wine, across all New Zealand wine categories, at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, based in the UK.

The winery’s te Pa 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé was awarded the only gold medal and the highest score (95 points) for a New Zealand wine in the fiercely competitive category.

Founder and owner of te Pa, Haysley MacDonald, who’s family lineage and history goes back to some of the earliest Maori arrivals to New Zealand, around 800 years ago, says he is delighted with the result and is proud to represent the New Zealand wine community on the world stage. . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2020

Farmers on board with environmental fairness but want time and fairness – Liz McDonald and Henry Cooke:

Canterbury farmers want politicians to stop painting them as climate change villains, listen to their needs and allow them more time to boost environmental standards.

The Labour, National, Act and Green parties have all released agriculture policies in the past few days as they vie for the government benches in October.

National’s agriculture policy, released on Thursday, promises to “review or repeal” the Labour Government’s nine freshwater regulations introduced this year, and remove the possibility of agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2022.

It also promised to allow skilled and seasonal workers to enter New Zealand with a fast-tracked primary sector visa. . .

Primary sector wary of health and safety if cannabis legalised:

Legalising of recreational cannabis could increase health and safety risks for the primary sector, say wary employers.

The sector already has one of the highest workplace accident and death rates in the country, and leaders say it could be another risk if the referendum gets support on 17 October.

Chris Lewis from Federated Farmers said while the organisation doesn’t have a stance on the referendum it does have concerns about the health and safety implications if the bill is passed into law.

He said farming already has a high accident rate around livestock and machinery, and workers need to be aware of what is around them without being impaired. . .

 

LIC begins insemination of millions of cows – recruits asked to put hands up:

Artificial breeding technicians (AB techs) across the country have begun rolling up their sleeves in order to get millions of dairy cows pregnant over the next six months. Their role is critical in producing the next generation of animals and ensuring New Zealand’s hugely valuable milk supply continues.

Last year LIC, which employs around 900 AB techs between September and March, oversaw the insemination of over four million cows. While undertaking this work, the cooperative is also seeking new recruits to train ahead of next season.

Once trained many return year-after-year including the McCarthy family. Paul McCarthy first trained with LIC in 1978 as a 20-year-old. After nearly 40 years he has inseminated thousands of cows while running a 134ha dairy farm in Galatea in the eastern Bay of Plenty with his wife Johanna. . . 

Bees are flourishing in New Zealand:

Bees are an essential component of a strong agricultural sector. They support New Zealand’s $6 billion horticultural industry by pollinating food crops as well as producing a multitude of honey-based products.

Despite recent reports of declining bee numbers due to pesticide use, figures released by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) show that beehive numbers have increased three-fold since 2005. According to its apiculture monitoring programme, hive numbers reached over 918,000 in 2019, up from below 300,000 fourteen years ago. The numbers have consistently been on an upward trend since then, with the latest figures showing a four percent increase on the previous year.

Independent scientific research included in the report concluded that the destructive varroa mite is the main cause of bee losses. . . 

Chop to it – Southland lamb goes nation-wide:

Southland meat processor Blue Sky Pastures is looking to new pastures by expanding its business, launching its namesake Blue Sky Butchery.

Bringing southern lamb to the digital fingertips of all New Zealanders, Blue Sky Butchery is a completely online store where users will be able to purchase the finest and freshest cuts of Southland lamb, delivered overnight nation-wide.

Many cuts of this New Zealand-favourite will be available, including Frenched racks, striploin, leg, shoulder, loin chops and mince. . .

Crops will be ploughed under if workers can’t be found – Andrew Miller:

A Bacchus Marsh vegetable grower says her farm will have to plough crops back into the ground, if sufficient workers can’t be found as harvest ramps up.

Rae McFarlane, Boratto Farms, Bacchus Marsh said the business produced fancy lettuce, rocket, parsley and baby spinach.

She said the coronavirus lockdown had hit the restaurant trade hard. . . 


Rural round-up

23/09/2020

Smart shift on border exceptions but shearers still missing:

The government’s decision today to slightly loosen border entry restrictions to allow in certain specialised staff crucial to the agriculture and fishing industries is excellent news, Federated Farmers says.

“Feds has been strongly advocating for exceptions for skilled operators of sophisticated agricultural machinery key to harvesting and other seasonal tasks for several months.  The pandemic response disrupted long-established workforce arrangements,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We’re very pleased that Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has now recognised it’s impractical to try and train enough New Zealanders in time to meet the immediate need, though that is the sector’s longer-term goal.” . . 

Establishment key to successful hemp crop – Gerald Piddock:

Blair Drysdale is into his third season of growing hemp on his Southland farm and is still fine-tuning how it fits into his crop rotations.

He grows 10ha of hemp on his 320-hectare farm, harvesting the seeds which are then pressed into oil and sold online.

“It’s a fully integrated system which was the plan from the outset. We spent 15 years looking to do something from paddock to consumer and it was about finding the right plant that fitted in with our infrastructure,” he said.

It also had to be healthy and beneficial to people and hemp ticked those boxes. . .

A cheering result for Fonterra but there are challenges ahead – Point of Order:

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and a strong milk price.  The  result,  a profit   of  $659m, may have  brought a  cheer   from the  co-op’s  farmer-suppliers and  Hurrell  deserves  a cheer, too, for   succeeding  in  turning around  the  fortunes of the  co-op,  after two  years  of  losses.

“We increased our profit after tax by more than $1bn, reduced our debt by more than $1 billion and this has put us in a position to start paying dividends again,” he says.

“I’m proud of how farmers and employees have come together to deliver these strong results in a challenging environment. They have had to juggle the extra demands and stress of COVID-19 and have gone above and beyond. I would like to thank them for their hard work and support.”

Fonterra  settled  on a  milk price for the  season  just  past  of  of  $7.14kg/MS—-one of the  highest on record—and  is  maintaining the current forecast  for the  current  season  within  the  range of  $5.90-$6.90. . .

Many farmers still stuck on connectivity slow lane Feds survey finds:

The vast majority of urban New Zealanders can get on the information superhighway at speed but the latest connectivity survey by Federated Farmers shows too many rural families and businesses are still stuck in second gear on a potholed back-road.

“We had nearly 900 responses from our members from every farm type and geographical spread but a bitter irony was that several more couldn’t complete the on-line questions because they didn’t have internet access or connectivity was too patchy or slow,” Federated Farmers President and telecommunications spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

Around 68% of respondents have download speeds of 20Mbps or less, and nearly 24% are enduring download speeds of just 0-5Mbps. . . 

Agri survey finds issues with rural connectivity:

A survey of rural landowners conducted by Whanganui & Partners has found issues with connectivity are impacting the sector.

The survey was undertaken in partnership with the Rural Community Board and was sent to landowners with 10ha or more. This week, Colleen Sheldon from Whanganui & Partners is reporting to the Rural Community Board on the survey’s findings around internet and mobile coverage.

Sheldon says the survey provides strong evidence to back up what farmers have told her, which is that poor rural connectivity is a challenge to their businesses. The survey found that while the majority of landowners have some form of internet access, rural landowners face obstacles conducting the same online tasks as urban residents. . .

NZ wool’s cost $10m market position – Annette Scott:

The beleaguered state of strong wool is not holding back all in the industry.

With several fleece to floor initiatives on the go, NZ Yarn, alongside Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), has contracted $10 million of wool from New Zealand growers in the past three years with new hemp and wool hybrid products set to realise new opportunities.

CP Wool, representing 3500 sheep farmers around NZ, is the exclusive supplier of wool to NZ Yarn that spins yarn for use in the soft flooring industry globally. 

Group chief executive of NZ Yarn and CP Wool Colin McKenzie says NZ Yarn contracts are for the direct supply of good-coloured shears and have generally been at a significant premium over the spot market, especially lots with little or no vegetable matter contamination. . . 

Higher stocking density and increased output boosts Shetland farm:

A higher stocking density and increased output has improved a Shetland farmer’s profits and boosted livestock performance.

Farming in the Shetlands brings many challenges including a shorter grazing season, strong west and south-west winds and salt spray from the sea damaging soils

But 2019 Scotch Beef Farmer of the Year finalist Jamie Leslie has maximised livestock performance and improved profit by focusing on four key objectives – cow and calf weaning ratio, kilograms of output produced per hectare, cow fertility and wintering costs. . .


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