Rural round-up

September 18, 2019

If we undermine farming we undermine our entire economic fabric – Barbara Kuriger:

Like my family before me, and following after me, I’ve always taken great pride in being a dairy farmer, and in the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry internationally.

My husband and I grew up in a generation where we had the opportunity to buy a farm and build our livelihoods on the land as our family had before us. It has been a privilege to forge an incredible career as a dairy farmer. My husband, Louis, and I are both award-winning dairy farmers and we’re proud of the mark we’ve made on the industry. 

Sadly, the outlook for New Zealand’s primary sector is the worst that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t make this strong statement lightly, nor to scaremonger – but rather to reflect the policy settings under a virtue-signalling government which is setting the dairy industry up for failure. As a rural MP, but more importantly as a farmer, I won’t sit back and allow the ladder to be pulled up behind future generations of New Zealanders wanting to pave their way in the farming sector.   . . 

Dannevirke shearing legend Koro Mullins passes away:

Tributes are flowing in from around the world in memory of Dannevirke shearing identity Koropiko Tumatahi (Koro) Mullins, who died suddenly on Monday at the age of 65.

Mr Mullins was known across all aspects for the shearing industry and sports, from shearer and shearing contractor to a frontman commentating role shearing great Sir David Fagan says set the standard on a global scale.

Born and raised in the Rotorua area, and of Te Arawa stock, he met the-then Mavis Paewai when he was a woolpressing teenager working for her brothers and father in Southern Hawke’s Bay.

It sparked what Fagan says was a unique family involvement and commitment to the shearing and wool industry, becoming the basis of Maori Television series Shear Bro which first aired in July last year. . . 

“Don’t lose hope’ – Pam Tipa:

Farming families and communities keen to do the right thing on water should not lose hope and confidence in the consultation process, says a Canterbury dairy farmer and industry leader.

The Government’s proposed nitrogen target for mid Canterbury isn’t attainable, says Colin Glass.

But that is no reason to give up on the consultation process, he says. “It looks as though there is nothing we could do today that would even come close to achieving that target. It simply means that if that target is not amended, farming as we know it today is not possible. Any form of farming.

“The key thing is that farmers are doing the right thing. Everyone is moving in the right direction. Now is not the time for people to lose faith or confidence in the process. . . 

Radiata pine plantations a band aid to nowhere – Di Lucas:

Climate change policies, the Billion Tree initiative and recent news promote the establishment of extensive pine plantations to benefit Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate change response by sinking carbon. Others have questioned the benefit of short-rotation plantation pines compared to natural regeneration of native forests. Whilst afforestation has an important role in New Zealand’s climate change response, we need to be clear about future implications.

There are both native and introduced tree species that grow fast and others that grow more slowly. Consider along with the speed of sequestration, the total carbon stocks that can be accumulated, and how long sequestration rates can be sustained. These rates depend on whether the forest is permanent and allowed to grow to maturity (i.e. not harvested) or harvested.  

Fast-growing trees such as pines or eucalypts in harvested plantations reach their maximum carbon storage capacity in about 20 years. Landowners then lose most of those carbon stocks when the forest is harvested; NZ loses most of the embedded carbon when logs are exported; furthermore, the globe loses most of those stocks back into the atmosphere as the products decay, as well as through associated emissions from forest management, transport and processing. Thus to store more carbon actually requires another forest to be planted on new land that is not already forested, while also continuing to replant and maintain the previous area in forest to recover the lost carbon stocks. That is, plantation areas will need to be doubled in size with every crop. . . 

Here are three farmers who are taking action on climate change – Rebecca Black:

Waikato dairy farmer Christopher Falconer is parked up on his farm looking out over the wetlands as he talks about mitigating the effects of climate change.

“I don’t make climate change-based decisions for what we do on-farm. I don’t. But as it happens, there’s a great deal of overlap between what is good for the climate, and what is good for all sorts of other things.”

Take riparian planting, the practice of growing plants alongside waterways. The goal is to mitigate nutrient loss and subsidence and stream bank erosion, but it’s also an effective carbon capture.

With nearly half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases coming from agriculture, farming is under scrutiny and some farmers feel the country has turned its back on them. But by making climate change action part of their everyday work, three farmers says the rewards speak for themselves. . . 

Fonterra’s capital structure is no longer fit for purpose – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s delay in announcing its results, driven by Fonterra’s need for discussions with its auditors about appropriate asset values, provides an opportunity to reflect on Fonterra’s capital structure and whether it is still fit for purpose. The simple answer is that it is not.

The value destruction that has occurred and which is now coming to light means that inherent conflicts between the interests of farmer shareholders and investor unitholders have become too great to be papered over. Co-operatives do not survive long-term unless everyone’s interests align.

Two former directors of Fonterra, Colin Armer and Nicola Shadbolt, have both come out recently and said that reworking Fonterra’s capital structure is not the immediate priority. I agree with them. The immediate and urgent priority is to sell assets and create a new slimmed-down and financially-efficient organisational structure, with many fewer high-paid executives. . . 

Physicist Sam Hitchman wins top meat science talent award:

Attracting the best and brightest minds is and remains one of the international meat industry’s top priorities and for Sam Hitchman – a physicist in an industry dominated by biological researchers – the quest to attract new talent has paid off.

The AgResearch scientist recently won the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) Prize for Young Talent in Meat Science and Technology at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) near Berlin, Germany.

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Sam Hitchman, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in AgResearch’s Meat Quality team, says he was thrilled with the recognition, while adding he didn’t feel “young” – as his award would suggest – upon his return to New Zealand. . . 

Why going meat-free could damage your health – Luke Mintz:

It was just a few months ago that experts were declaring the end of meat. Earlier this year, consultancy firm AT Kearney predicted that by 2040, animal products will have become so socially and environmentally unacceptable that most “meat” eaten across the globe will come in the form of plant-based or lab-grown substitutes.

But a major study released this week just might put the brakes on the rapidly accelerating plant-based trend. According to Oxford University research, published in the British Medical Journal, vegetarians and vegans have a 20 per cent higher risk of stroke than those who regularly tuck into a plate of bacon and sausages.

The authors of the study, which tracked almost 50,000 Britons for 18 years, said this might be because veggies did not have enough cholesterol in their blood. The finding flies in the face of much conventional wisdom, which says that vegetarianism is a healthy alternative to a carnivorous lifestyle.

But nutritionists say the increased risk of stroke is just one of the many health risks that any would-be vegetarian should be made aware of before they take the plunge. . . 


Rural round-up

March 25, 2018

Growing NZ pride in dairy – Colin Glass:

It’s an exciting time in the dairy sector. There is so much change happening: we have a new strategy, ‘Dairy Tomorrow’, and changes to the DairyNZ board, to name a few.

I’ve seen a marked change in dairy farmers over the past year too.

People outside the sector may think I’m referring to the extensive work farmers are doing to make their farms more environmentally sustainable. But as you all know, this isn’t new; farmers have been doing this for a long time. . . 

Rural Women critical of maternity services :

Rural Women New Zealand say it is ironic that in the 125th year of suffrage, New Zealand women are struggling to gain and retain health services.

“New Zealand is still hailed as a world leader because New Zealand women won their right to vote in 1893, however, we are behind in maternity care,” says board member and Health convenor Margaret Pittaway.

“RWNZ has been observing the developing dilemma for midwives and those they care for, with increasing concern. Rural midwives are simply not receiving a living wage due to the expectation they travel many more miles to visit patients,” says Margaret. . .

Don’t be complacent :

Sheep and beef farmers should not be complacent in grasping opportunities, retiring Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

He told the annual meeting in Gisborne the Red Meat Story should be rolled out to global markets later this year.

Final details were being signed off with processor partners on the proposed brand mark, story and Go-to-Market strategy. . .

Farmer relationship with processor costing NZ:

New research from Lincoln University shows poor relationships between farmers and their meat processors could be costing New Zealand.

Dr Nic Lees said improving those relationships was essential to New Zealand producing higher value products that meet consumer needs.

He surveyed over 1000 sheep, beef and deer farmers. These three industries together make up 12 per cent of New Zealand’s exports and currently contribute $5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy. . . 

Westland signs with South East Asia’s largest-listed consumer health and nutrition firm:

Building on its growing market presence in China, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, Westland Milk Products, signalled an increased presence in South East Asia by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesian consumer health and nutrition giant Kalbe (PT Sanghiang Perkasa).

Today’s signing, in the presence of visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a business forum held in Wellington, is the first step toward forming a strategic partnership between Westland and Kalbe. . .

Sheep milking serious business – Peter Burke:

The sheep milk industry has made huge strides in the last four years, says Massey University associate professor Craig Prichard.

The 4th annual Sheep Milking Conference was held in Palmerston North last week, attracting 150 producers, scientists and interested observers.

Prichard, known as a driver of the industry, says four years ago only four cheese makers attended; this year there were 16.

He says in four years the industry has moved from being “gee whizz isn’t that interesting” to a serious business with a future. . . 


Rural round-up

January 12, 2018

Fast track expansion for Ashley Clinton dairy farmers Andy and Robbie Hunt – Kate Taylor:

A Central Hawke’s Bay couple are proud to be dairy farming and love the lifestyle it provides. Kate Taylor pays them a visit.

A pair of small pink gumboots kick the dust on the laneway as cows wander from their paddock to the milking shed. Three-year-old Annabelle has had enough of the hot summer day.

Bringing in the cows is often a family affair at White Stag – one of three properties farmed by Andy and Robbie Hunt in Central Hawke’s Bay – but today, in the middle of the school holidays, it’s big brothers William, 8, and Ben, 6, doing the work. Andy and Robbie have been on this property since Annabelle was a baby – she was just a couple of weeks old when they had the roof shout for the new shed.

“It’s been a busy few years,” Robbie says, laughing. . .

Quite revolution in hill country farming:

GISBORNE, Wairoa and East Coast hill country farmers are leading the country as innovators and are in great shape to take on the challenges of 2018.

AgFirst agribusiness consultant Peter Andrew says sheep and cattle hill farmers here have progressed to become some of the best in New Zealand.

Gisborne will get to show off some of this country’s best sheep and beef operations when the region hosts Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting for the first time on March 22. . .

Feds’ Hoggard urges farmers to pay backpackers regular rates – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says farmers should pay backpackers market rates if they want to keep a handy pool of casual labour and avoid volunteer workers.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled an organic farm near Christchurch breached worker rights by paying them $120 a week plus providing food and lodging irrespective of the hours worked, and claiming they were volunteers after a Labour Inspectorate investigation. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement that thousands of people had been exploited at the farm, working up to 40 hours a week and often as hired out labour at a profit for Robinwood Farms director and shareholder Julia Osselton. . . 

Canterbury farmer joins DairyNZ board:

This year, Canterbury farmer Colin Glass also joined DairyNZ’s Board of Directors as its newest recruit.

The farm owner and Dairy Holdings chief executive joined DairyNZ’s Board in October 2017. Colin is particularly passionate about dairy farmers connecting with the wider community and showcasing the great work being done on farms.

“We have had a massive refocus on what is important to the sector – the new dairy strategy highlights the need for us to have vibrant, profitable businesses and communities,” says Colin. “But that has to be done in a sustainable way that plays on New Zealand’s competitive advantage. . .

Vigilance needed to prevent further spread of Mycoplasma:

National Party Spokesperson for Biosecurity Barbara Kuriger is calling on farmers to be vigilant in light of recent Mycoplasma Bovis incursions to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“The discovery of Mycoplasma Bovis in Ashburton is a strong reminder to our rural communities that we need to be increasingly watchful and report concerns to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) if there are any suspicions of a further spread of the disease,” Ms Kuriger says.

“We cannot be complacent in any rural areas. The recent confirmation in Ashburton follows cases last year in Hastings, North Otago and the Winton District. . .

New Nutrient Management Tool for Reducing Nitrogen Leaching:

Wintermax Triticale – a new nutrient management tool for reducing nitrogen leaching.

Plant Research (NZ) Ltd in collaboration with Grasslanz Technology have developed a unique nutrient management tool in the for of a winter active triticale variety named wintermax.

Nutrient losses to waterways can occur from rainwater either moving organic matter, sediment and nutrients from land surfaces into surface waters, or leaching of nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium and sulphur, through soil into groundwater. . . 

Is the merino stud model fit for the future? – Robert Herrmann:

It’s many years since stud breeders of jersey bulls, landrace pigs and rhode island red roosters presented their prized stock at the various capital city Royal Shows to assess breeding potential. Today, these industries rely on data & science to identify the best sires to breed for the growing commercial demand for milk, pork and chicken.

Performance recording has replaced show judging.
There is still a role for the show ring, principally for the committed lovers of breeds to showcase their stock. However, the pragmatic farmer of today needs proof or at least confidence that the decisions around sire purchase align with the breeding objectives of their business.

This makes sense, it is not the pampered, prepared and perfumed animal in the show ring that matters; it is the progeny that must perform under commercial conditions that is important. Lipstick on the pig simply won’t do now. . . 


Rural round-up

August 10, 2015

Fonterra must evolve – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s structure must keep evolving, as farmers’ own businesses change through time, former founding director Greg Gent believes.

However, nothing in its structure was preventing farmers from getting the maximum available returns from world dairy markets in the downturn.

As big as it is, Fonterra could not control the milk price.

Fonterra remains silent on dividend impact – Eye to the Long Run:

The staggering hit to milk payouts – around 27% – is also a staggering reduction in the input costs to every product for which milk is an input.

The “model” is supposed to generate returns to suppliers of milk solids and returns to investors (and the two are one in the same for the majority) on sales of processed product. The reduction in input cost must by now be cumulatively very significant. . .

Fonterra overshoot on 2015 advance payment worsens 2016 farmer cash flows – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Milk prices have dropped so dramatically that Fonterra Cooperative Group effectively overpaid farmers under an advance payments scheme last year, sapping funds available to pay out farmers at the end of the season and leaving them short of cash even before last week’s deep cut to the 2016 forecast payout.

“Last year, Fonterra came out with a higher advance rate schedule during the year, effectively almost overpaying for milk as they went,” Dairy Holdings chief executive Colin Glass told BusinessDesk. “That meant there was nothing left at the end of the year to come through. That’s effectively been the major impact on farm cash flows today.

“Those deferred payments for the previous year haven’t been there and that’s coinciding with what is now the lower advance rate schedule.” . .

 

Hard work and sacrifice reap stellar success – Kate Taylor:

A determination to buy their own farms has seen a set of siblings grow their businesses from 7000 stock units to about 37,000 in 14 years.

One of the partners, Bart and Nukuhia (Nuku) Hadfield, went on to win the 2015 Ahuwhenua Trophy – the BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award (sheep and beef).

In 2001 they had pooled resources with Nuku’s siblings – Eugene, Ronald and Marama – and their partners to lease Mangaroa Station in the Ruakituri Valley and neighbouring Ruakaka Station in Tiniroto. . .

El Niño explained as simply as possible – Weather Watch:

It’s been talked about for almost two years in the global scientific community and now it’s finally showing up on weather stations here in New Zealand – El Nino, the weather/climate event that often causes great concern in the rural sector.

But should be we concerned ?  Short answer – yes, somewhat – long answer, yes, but let’s not get carried away, NZ can buck the international trends and we are still not 100% sure how this will all pan out over summer. 

So saying things like “This El Nino will be worse than the drought creating one of the 1990s” is a bit like saying a newly developing tropical low is going to hurt NZ more than Bola did.  But until it fully forms and until we really get a good feeling as to how it’s going to impact New Zealand, then we need to take a deep breath and not talk about extreme worst case scenarios as if they are locked in with certainty…because we simply don’t know this early.  . .

Blair draws a line on farm trespass – Robyn Ainsworth:

TRESPASSERS will definitely be prosecuted under strict new penalties to be introduced to state parliament under the proposed Biosecurity Bill, industry stakeholders heard this week.

The penalties are one plank of the government’s NSW Farm Incursions Policy being rolled out, which NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair (pictured) hopes will be extended nationwide to protect farmers and crack down on the illegal practices of animal welfare activists and others who trespass on farms. . .

 MyFarm share trading shifts to Syndex – Syndex launches offering investors the opportunity to trade farm and orchard shares:

Syndex, the online investment trading platform, has launched today offering investors the opportunity to buy and sell shares in farms and orchards.

Farm investment company, MyFarm, is the inaugural partner for Syndex’s Agri Syndicate Market.

Syndex will allow people to buy and sell shares in MyFarm’s dairy and kiwifruit investment opportunities. It opened today with shares available for purchase in a new Bay of Plenty kiwifruit syndicate and an established Canterbury dairy farm. . .

Will a red hot beef market cool anytime soon? –  Texas Farm Bureau:

The cattle market the last two years is like August weather in Texas. Red hot!

More than 1,680 beef cattle producers gathered at Texas A&M to hear the latest about the cattle market and future trends at the 61st Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, held this week in College Station.

“I think there is a lot to look forward to down the road,” said Dr. Jason Cleere, conference coordinator and Texas A&M AgriLife beef cattle specialist. . .


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