Rural round-up

August 28, 2012

More milk. less impact achievable – Hugh Stringleman:

The technology exists to lift milk production and manage the environmental impacts of dairy industry development, according to soil scientist Ross Monaghan and environmental consultant Ciaran Keogh, both frontline speakers to the annual Environmental Defence Society conference session called Greening Farming.

Farmers need clear signals from industry leaders and strong extension networks to adopt best practice for environmental sustainability, according to AgResearch senior scientist Ross Monaghan.

“As a technocrat, I believe we have good management options and systems to manage our resources, grow our industries and yet reduce our environmental footprints, he said. . .

Ministry Formally Warns Growers Following Misuse Of Chemical Spray

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed an investigation into the misuse of the antibiotic streptomycin on kiwifruit, and 26 growers who admitted using the chemical outside the strict use conditions have been sent a formal warning letter.

The misuse of the compound constitutes a technical breach of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent says MPI approved the use of streptomycin on kiwifruit under strict use conditions to avoid any possibility of chemical residues occurring in fruit. The conditions included a maximum of three spray treatments onto leaves prior to vine flowering. . .

Hunterville Farmer Is The 2012 B+LNZ Young Rancher

Hunterville farmer Peter Fitz-Herbert has been awarded a Beef + Lamb New Zealand agricultural scholarship that will take him to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and Young Ranchers Programme being held in British Columbia, Canada next month.

Peter, who is the stock manager on the Fitz-Herbert family farm, will accompany Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island Director, James Parsons to the Five Nations Beef Alliance. It is made up of producer organisations from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States and meets annually to discuss global issues and opportunities for the beef sector. . .

Risk expert: banks left farmers in dark –  Rob Stock:

Risk and derivative experts say banks, including ANZ National Bank and Westpac, should not have sold complex interest rate swaps to farmers.

Claims are also emerging that though swaps were sold as “interest rate risk management” tools, unsophisticated farmers lacked the expertise and tools to monitor their position, and were provided with little or no ongoing support or advice to manage their interest rate risks.

One of New Zealand’s best-known risk advisers, Roger Kerr from Asia-Pacific Risk Management, said he believed at least a proportion of the swaps were sold to farmers who did not know what they were buying. . .

Farmers’ bid to revisit divorce deal rejected – Matt Nippert:

A New Plymouth farmer has lost a Court of Appeal bid to recalculate his divorce settlement after judges ruled his sudden recovery from a brain injury and a rapid rise in farm property values could not have been anticipated.

Neil Johnston had been appealing a decision ruling against his claim against a law firm and his court-appointed property manager claiming a five-year delay in settling his divorce left him $780,000 out of pocket. . .

Kiwifruit executive has his hands full – Jamie Ball:

Not even six months in the job but it’s been a week of reckoning for Barry O’Neill, Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive.

But, cometh the hour cometh the man. The discovery ofPsa-V in two Waikato orchards last week might have taken the wind out of many a sail, but not Mr. O’Neill. It is, after all, what the independent pan-industry organisation was established to minimize in 2010.

With a lengthy career in the biosecurity sector within New Zealand and overseas behind him, Mr. O’Neill, is taking the Psa challenge head-on. . .

Data to be shared in sheep measles’ fight

Confidential information about sheep and deer farmers collected for stopping the spread of sheep measles is about to be shared to strengthen biosecurity in New Zealand.

Ovis Management project manager Dan Lynch said 20,000 sheep and deer farmers’ contact details were obtained from meatworks and held in a confidential database to help control the spread of sheep measles.

The Primary Industries Ministry managed FarmsOnLine and wanted the database details so there could be a swift response in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth, he said. “The benefits far outweigh the issues.” . . .

Poppy crop trials continuing – Gerald Piddock:

Australian company Tasmanian Alkaloids is still two to three years away from deciding whether to push for growing pharmaceutical poppies on a commercial basis.

The company has conducted trials of several varieties of the poppies in Canterbury at an undisclosed location, beginning in 2009.

The trials are moving slowly and that decision was still being evaluated, Tasmanian Alkaloids operations manager Rick Rockliff said. . .

Many queries still over plan – Gerald Piddock:

A group of South Canterbury farmers have been left with plenty to ponder as they come to terms with the implications of Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Plan.

The plan would see new limits brought in on water quality established at a regional and sub-regional level through the zone committees of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  . .

Rain enough for all but Southland – Annette Scott:

Paddling a kayak out to check on cows has been just one of the challenges faced by southern farmers coping with the rain deluge over the past couple of weeks.

While many regions of the South Island, including Southland, were facing drought conditions following the extreme dry of June and July, that has been rectified at least in Canterbury and Otago.

With up to 300mm of rain recorded in North Otago over the past three weeks, 250mm in South Canterbury and 200mm in Mid Canterbury, most farmers are ready for the sun to dry up sodden farmlands. Southland has capacity for more rain with just 3mm recorded in Gore and 7mm in Invercargill. . .


Rural round-up

August 8, 2012

Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity

An increasingly complex and volatile global farm input market is making it imperative for New Zealand farmers to have in place good purchasing strategies, while focusing on ways to conserve soil nutrients and input use, according to a new industry report.

The report, Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says more efficient use of farm inputs – including fertilisers, chemicals and fuel –will be essential in ensuring profitability, driving productivity growth and improving environmental sustainability of farm businesses into the future.

Report author, Rabobank senior analyst Michael Harvey says, with farm inputs a vital component of modern production systems, all farmers in New Zealand are exposed to the dynamics of procuring farm inputs. “In more recent times these markets have been evolving and becoming more sophisticated, which is altering the business landscape for farmers as end users,”he says. . .

Country life # 4 –  Quote Unquote:

Very late last night – me dozing off to the Economist, my wife dozing off to her novel – we heard a cow mooing, mooing for ages and we knew from which paddock. . .

Welcome to the Hotel van der Bijl – Shawn McAvinue:

More dairy farmers are building wintering sheds in Southland.  Shawn McAvinue  talks to one, who says those building them need to “do it once and do it right”.

The back rubs end abruptly when the music wanes. Then the stampede begins. 

    Car Wash, the 1970s disco hit by Rose Royce is playing to 750 cows and a party of about 20 curious farmers, who have come to see a new $4 million wintering barn in Dunearn, near Mossburn. 

    The $9000 wireless sound system is struggling to stay tuned to The Breeze radio station and the 24 speakers in the shed begin to crackle. Then the music stops. It’s like a gunshot fired in a packed nightclub. The cows get startled then stampede. Then there’s a crackle, the radio reception kicks in and Rose Royce returns: “Talkin’ about the car wash, yeah”. 

    The fickle cows are instantly content and return to chewing on feed or massaging their rumps.

Grand plans for NZ lamb in China – Shawn McAvinue:

The sleeping giant is wide awake and has a taste for our meat, say Alliance Group marketers from Southland. 

  Alliance Group staff went to China for 10 days to meet executives from Grand Farm, the largest single importer of New Zealand sheepmeat in China. 

    Alliance marketing development services manager Gary Maclennan said he was surprised how advanced the Grand Farm processing plant in northeast China was, “and how huge their plans are for target growth. They plan to double in two to three years.” . . .

Waikato cattle farmers at higher risk of fatal disease – Natalie Akoorie:

Waikato beef and dry stock farmers have higher rates of leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease passed to humans through animals and infected water, according to a study in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The farmers were probably more at risk because beef and dry stock cattle were less frequently immunised against the deadly disease, according to the report by Waikato District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell and health population officer George Cowie.

The study, done over seven years, found the Waikato has one of the country’s highest annual rates of notified cases of the infectious disease, with the majority coming from the Waitomo district. . .

Online tool could enhance farm compliance –  Shawn McAvinue:

The former head of Environment Southland says new technology can ensure good farmers having a bad day are not unfairly prosecuted by compliance officers. 

    Former Environment Southland chief executive Ciaran Keogh said among the well-attended environmental conference in Auckland yesterday were Environment Minister Amy Adams, Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Nelson MP Nick Smith. 

    Mr Keogh was invited by the Environmental Defence Society to talk about new AG-HUB technology at Aotea Centre. . .

Scott seeks higher honours – Gerald Piddock:

Mid Canterbury arable farmer Andrew Scott is now be turning his attention to the Young Horticulturist competition after being crowned the country’s top young grower. 

    The 29-year-old beat three others to win the Young Grower of the Year title at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference in Auckland, 

    He earned his place in the competition after winning the Young Vegetable Grower competition earlier this year. . .

Lifestyle blocks a source of tension – Peter Watson:

Rural subdivision is about to come under the spotlight as the Tasman District Council reviews its rules and research shows the region losing some of its  best land at an increasing rate.   Peter Watson reports on what  is set to be a difficult debate. 

    Tasman and Nelson are losing their most productive land to lifestyle blocks and urbanisation at one of the fastest rates in New Zealand, sparking calls for councils to take a much tougher stance on rural subdivision. 

    Recent research by Landcare shows that 24 per cent of 16,000 hectares of high-class land in Tasman is now occupied by lifestyle blocks – the third highest level among regions and well above the national average of 10 per cent. Another 1 per cent of this land has gone on urban development, double the national rate. . . .

New wine frontman takes pride in region:

Richard Flatman describes himself as a “pretty passionate, outspoken bloke who loves Nelson” and good wine. 

    They are qualities that will come in handy in his new role as chairman of the Nelson Winegrowers Association. 

    The 41-year-old viticulturist at Neudorf Vineyards takes over from Mike Brown, who stepped down last month after six impressive years as industry spokesman. . .

Good Things Come in Eights for Misha’s Vineyard

Cromwell, Central Otago, 8 August 2012 – Misha’s Vineyard has announced a distribution expansion into eight markets around the world. The number eight, a lucky number in Chinese culture, has been an auspicious number since Andy and Misha Wilkinson first planted their vineyard on an old Chinese gold mining site on Bendigo Station, Central Otago, just eight years ago.

In the northern hemisphere the new markets are the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden through Gastro-Wine and across in the important US market, Misha’s Vineyard will be represented by Vindagra USA. . .


What’s up at Environment Southland?

January 20, 2012

A fixed term contract is just that and employers have the option of renewing it or not.

But why has Environment Southland not taken the option of extending the term of its CEO Ciaran Keogh for another two years when it appears there were no problems with his performance?

At least one councillor appears less than supportive of the move.

Recruitment is not an inexpensive business and seeking a new CEO wouldn’t normally be done without very good reason when the option of extending his term was available.


Rural round-up

September 25, 2011

Rural contractors say review needed – Sally Rae:

Rural Contractors New Zealand has welcomed a review of    transport rules affecting agricultural contractors, describing    it as “great news”.   

Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy said the Government      was about to begin a review. It wanted to make sure the rules      ensured public safety without imposing unnecessary red tape . . .

Arable farming career excites graduate – Sally Rae:

Hannah Priergaard-Petersen reckons she has the perfect    first job. Ms Priergaard-Petersen has been employed as a trials    officer at the Foundation for Arable Research (Far), following    her stint as a Far summer scholar in 2010-11.   

Brought up in a farm in northern Southland, she recently      completed a bachelor of science degree at the University of      Canterbury, majoring in biological sciences . . .

Young stock judge tackles Australia – Sally Rae:

A great learning experience” is how young Otago stock judge Will Gibson describes representing New Zealand at the Royal      Adelaide Show in Australia.   

 Will (18), a pupil at John McGlashan College, competed in the junior merino judging competition earlier this month, against      the six Australian state finalists.   

 He was among a small group of young New Zealanders who participated in stock judging and handling competitions at      the show.   

 New Zealand Young Rural Achiever Cath Lyall, from Raes Junction, also represented New Zealand at the event.  

New focus sought for Waituna – Kimberly Crayton-Brown:

Farmers in the Waituna catchment fear they may lose their farms, meaning talk must focus on solutions and not problems, a senior Environment Southland staff member says.

Council chief executive Ciaran Keogh said people needed to be thinking about a response, not a threat. “We have got a problem and we need to get people talking about answers which we are not doing at the moment. People are starting to feel threatened so let’s lift the discussion out of the confrontational things.”

Mr Keogh said at the moment farmers had this great fear they were going to lose their farms . . .

Sheep milking operation continues to expand – Collette Devlin:

Losing his seat at the general election this year could be enough for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to return to a farming life, with sheep milking one option.

Southland’s leading sheep milking operation Blue River Dairy hosted Mr English last week, including a visit to the milking shed run by Keith Neylon in Antler Downs.

Blue River Diary has another milking operation in Brydone, Invercargill. Both farms milk non-stop for 12 months . . .

Demographics alter consumer demand patterns – Allan Barber:

Demographic changes will present challenges for the red meat sector in spite of apparently unstoppable world population growth. Several speakers at the Red Meat Sector Conference made reference to the possible effects of these changes over the next 40 years, some of which will be positive, like the growth of the Indian and Chinese middle class, and others negative.

The most obvious challenge will be the ageing of the population in first world countries, because older people eat less and require more single portion meat cuts . . .

RMSS conference reveals templates to learn from:

THE RED Meat Sector Strategy report, issued in May, said what needed to be done. Now Beef + Lamb NZ and the Meat Industry Association have run up another clutch of signal flags.  

Others in agriculture are seen to be doing some of the things the RMSS report suggested, so they were invited to tell their stories at a recent conference. Their successes stemmed from growers and consumers being in harmony . . .

Merino meat next on the menu – Owen Hembry:

A new sheep industry initiative aiming to replicate the branding success of high country merino wool with premium priced meat products is heading to high-end restaurant plates.

The New Zealand Merino Company and processor co-operative Silver Fern Farms have formed a joint venture and launched a premium brand called Silere Alpine Merino, which will sell for about 10 to 15 per cent more than normal meat . . .

Choose good tucker and chew slowly – Alan Emmerson:

I was really intrigued with the statistics as to how many of the world’s people were starving and how many were obese. Out of a world population approaching seven billion people, one billion are hungry.

Similarly one billion are overweight with 300 million classed as obese. In the United States with a population of 311 million, 10 million are starving and 105 million are obese. Obesity is a massive problem, not much is heard of it and, worse, New Zealand is the third most obese nation in the world. It is, indeed, a crisis . . .

Seeking farmer contorl of wool – Tony Leggett:

A new company formed to raise capital to invest in the wool sector is already shrouded in controversy.

The New Zealand Wool Investment Company (to be known as WoolCo) is a 50:50 joint venture between the farmer-owned and listed wool innovation firm Wool Equities Limited (WEL) and Christchurch merchant bankers Ocean Partners.

It announced plans last Friday to attempt to raise $40 million capital to buy the 65% stake in Wool Services International (WSI), formerly held by two companies associated with Allan Hubbard but now controlled by a receiver . . .

Crafar not guilty in dirty farming trial

Reporoa dairy farmer Glen Walter Crafar has been found not guilty by a Rotorua District Court  jury of one charge of dirty dairying . . .

Farmers fearful over rustler raids – Greg Stack:

Stolen livestock and gunshots on the wild west coast have Waikato farmers fearing for their safety, with one stopping vehicle access to a popular fishing spot in response.

Livestock rustling, a problem more common in a Western film, has hit Waikato’s west coast as the tail of the recession squeezes the isolated farming community . . .

Divisions over apple marketing – Gerald Piddock:

Waipopo Orchards is taking a wait and see approach following a split in the apple industry over the best way to exploit the newly opened Australian market.

The split came following the results of a recent postal ballot that showed while 73 per cent of growers with 72 per cent of the export crop voted to support adopting a Horticultural Export Authority (HEA) model for the Australian market, just 37 per cent of exporters with 43 per cent of the fruit backed the proposal . . .

Farm sales on the rise – Gerald Piddock:

Farm sales nationally for the year to August topped 1000 for the first time in almost two years, according the Real Estate Institute.

“The underlying trend is rising. We are seeing enquiry emerging for quality properties,” rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

The improvement was based on expectations for commodity prices to hold or in some cases firm slightly as the season progressed, he said . . .

Herbal pasture clovers challenge our concept of what a dairy pasture looks like – Pasture to Profit:

The dawning of a new age OR a Storm of Innovation? A group of very innovative pasture based dairyfarmers in the UK are challenging our concept of what a pasture looks like. Farmers are experimenting with Herbal Clover pastures. Lots of different mixes of herbs with white clover to provide the nitrogen. Over the past two weeks I’ve been very lucky to work with 2 French groups (one farmer group from Brittany & an Organic Dairy Advisers group from Normandy) visiting SW England. We were on both conventional & organic pasture based dairy
farms . . .


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