Rural round-up

21/04/2020

Our greatest opportunity – Penny Clark-Hall:

After 10 or so years of a society dislocating itself, with the farming community being challenged to meet the evolving values of its urban counterparts, we have been given a gift. A chance to reconnect.

We’ve been bemoaning the fact that no one wants to listen to the good stories for years. Who would have thought it would take a global pandemic to give us a window to be able to have that voice again? It seems bad taste to be observing silver linings and opportunities whilst so many are suffering however, an opportunity to connect and support our country can only be a positive for everyone in my books. The primary sector’s social licence and our economy depends on it.  . .

Sector wants deal on reforms – Neal Wallace and Colin Williscroft:

Primary sector leaders have been in discussions with the Government to try to reach a consensus on freshwater reforms.

The 11-member Food and Fibre Leaders’ Forum, which represents the primary sector, is adopting a similar approach to last year’s accord on reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and for several months has had regular meetings with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and senior Cabinet ministers.

The Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms have been temporarily stalled by covid-19 with Environment Minister David Parker saying dealing with the crisis necessitates the reconsideration of priorities and timing. . .

Wanna job? We’ve got it – Annette Scott:

Primary industries face a serious staff recruitment pinch of grave concern to AgStaff director Matt Jones.

The impact of covid-19 is alredy starting to bite and with hundreds of vacancies on his books it’s only going to get worse over the next year, Jones said.

Through his employment businesses Jones recruits staff for jobs from farm and agricultural contracting and food processing to seasonal staff and quality assurance experts, many coming from around the globe to work in New Zealand.  . . 

Are pine trees killing kauri?

A new study suggests that kauri dieback disease may be connected to the lack of protective fungi in plantation pine forest soil.

Published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology, the study, by Bio-Protection Research Centre PhD candidate Alexa Byers and others, looked at the differences in the bacteria and fungi living in the soil of kauri forest and surrounding pine plantations in the Waipoua area. It found soil in the pine forest’s neighbouring kauri forests lacked several species of fungi and bacteria that protect plants, promote growth, and improve their health (for example Trichoderma and Pseudomonas).

“The loss of core microbiota from native soil microbial communities… surrounding remnant kauri fragments could be altering the forest’s ability to respond to pathogen invasion,” Ms Byers wrote. . . 

Energy farm to trial zero carbon solutions – Nigel Malthus:

Lincoln University has unveiled plans for what is expected to be a globally-unique Energy Demonstration Farm to help the primary sector meet its future zero-carbon obligations.

The farm is designed to be fossil fuel-free and feature solar and wind power, bio-fuel, and energy storage solutions while showcasing the range of technology available and how it can be applied, as well as providing data for research and innovation.

Project leaders Dr Wim de Koning and Dr Jeff Heyl say the farm would allow the University and their research partners to make mistakes, so farmers won’t have to.

Fury of British farmers as public sector caterers vow to cut meat served ins cools, hospitals, universities and care homes by 20 percent to improve diets and help environment – Jack Wright:

  • British farmers are furious at public sector caterers vowing to cut red meat servings in schools, hospitals, and care homes by 20 per cent
  • NFU board member Richard Findlay described move as ‘frankly ridiculous’
  • He called #20percentless a ‘misguided project’ that is ‘wholly inaccurate’
  • The aim is to cut greenhouse gases linked to livestock and boost public health
  • Hitting the target would remove nearly 20million lb of meat every year in the UK . . .

Rural round-up

20/04/2020

Hope for less restrictions:

The wool industry hopes for some lifting of COVID-19 restrictions limiting shearing and crutching to animal welfare reasons only.

“The shearing and crutching that is happening is taking place in the sheds where the contractors are helping to introduce social distancinghttps://www.stuff.co.nz/national/121104102/coronavirus-will-the-duckshooting-season-go-ahead? protocols,” says Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson.

“The staff are all 2m away from each other and that sort of thing. So, the shearing and crutching that is happening on farm is taking a bit longer.

“Any wool that has been shorn in the last several weeks is being stored on farm.” . . 

Coronavirus: Overseas farmers forced to dump milk during Covid-19 lockdown – Esther Taunton:

Overseas dairy farmers are pouring millions of litres of milk down the drain every day but it is business as usual for their Kiwi counterparts.

With pubs, cafes and restaurants closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, farmers in Britain are dumping up to 5 million litres a week, the Financial Times reported.

In the United States, up to 14 million litres of milk is going down the drain each day, according to the Dairy Farmers of America co-operative. . .

Coronavirus: Will the duck-shooting season go ahead? – Kirsty Lawrence:

The duck-shooting season is due to start in two weeks, but there are still big questions about whether it will even be possible 

The Covid-19 website initially said no to hunting under level three, but then changed to say they are re-looking at this and would provide an update soon.

The New Zealand Fish & Game Council held an online meeting on Friday to discuss an options paper about the ways forward, a spokesperson said. 

“We appreciate that everyone wants some certainty around what we know is a national tradition. . .

Dairy’s corona headache – Rabobank:

The outbreak of COVID-19 is weighing on global market sentiment and the 2020 outlook.

The underlying assumption is that many of the disruptions in China will normalize by the end of Q2 2020.

Rabobank believes there has been a shift in the global market fundamentals. A material reduction in China’s 1H 2020 import requirements looms over the global market balance. Chinese dairy import volume is forecast to fall 19% in 2020.  . .

Farmer’s Voice: success is in the bloodline – Craig Wiggins:

Since the 1960’s the Blackwell’s have farmed on Mangaotea Station, taking pride in the high-quality cattle they produce. These days Rob, Jaqueline and Zarrah farm three separate cattle studs on the property, with an obvious family rivalry pushing them to breed the best they possibly can.

 

 

 

Adapt quickly – Colin Williscroft:

Traceable, trusted and safe food will be more important than ever before in post-lockdown society but consumer behaviour has changed and New Zealand food producers must adapt quickly, KPMG agribusiness global head Ian Proudfoot says.

An understanding of food’s importance in peoples’ lives is greater today than it has been in decades, probably since the 1940s, he told an AgriTech webinar.

“We’ve always assumed food will be there but now there is an awareness we could face food insecurity.

“Now we recognise food supply is not certain. Food availability will no longer be taken for granted.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/04/2020

Hope from the high country – Philip Todhunter:

Covid-19? It’s like opening your front door and finding two metres of snow on the ground just after you’d put all your new fencing in.

The fences have been wrecked. You look at the damage, you shake your head, and then you get on with managing your way through it.

In the back of your mind, you know that spring will come, the tonnes of snow will melt, and the grass will grow again.

Farmers are an optimistic bunch. We’re used to things going in cycles: weather patterns, commodity prices, market demand … but we also know that sometimes the wheel doesn’t turn the whole way round, sometimes the change is permanent. . . 

Coronavirus: can the economy recover – Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor:

The economic ride down is likely to be sharp and steep. But when consumers eventually emerge from lockdown, what will the recovery look like? Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor investigate.

Weighing sheep in a yard in the brown foothills of North Canterbury’s Hundalee Hills, Ben Ensor is an unlikely soldier on the frontline of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the country prepared to shut down, to stop the spread of coronavirus, the sheep and beef farmer was separating merino stock under the shadow of rustic woolshed. Hooves beat up clouds of dust, as his farm dog herded them into a race.

With 6000 sheep, and around 500 cattle, Ensor can’t close down. Like nurses, doctors, pharmacists and supermarket staff, farming and cropping have been deemed “essential“. . .

Kiwifruit taste test goes south :

Kiwifruit growers will not be paid for their fruit’s taste profile this season after the country’s only testing facility dropped the test.

Eurofins Bay of Plenty is the country’s only testing facility for the drymatter component of kiwifruit, which gives growers and Zespri a direct indication of the fruit’s taste profile.  

The lab now tests only for residues in fruit, leaving post-harvest processors grappling with how to evaluate fruit quality. . .

Keep calm, carry on – Colin Williscroft:

The Government is well aware of farming’s importance and is doing everything it can to ensure the primary sector continues to operate as close to normal as possible, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

“Farming has been the backbone of New Zealand and that will that continue long into the future,” O’Connor says.

Cabinet understands the role farming plays in the economy, along with the need to maintain farming systems subject to seasonal and biological cycles, including the lifecycle of animals and grass growth, restrictions other businesses around the country are not subject to. . .

Meat industry in better shape today to cope with downturn – Allan Barber:

When I started to trawl through possible topics to write about this week, I had the bright idea it might be worth asking meat processors what contingency plans they have in place in case an employee, more particularly one on the processing floor, tests positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. So far my research suggests it’s not yet an issue that has received a great deal of consideration by many companies, although it’s certainly on their radar.

In an update to farmers, Silver Fern Farms states its position as “The reality is that an outbreak, or the understandable precautionary response of our people, is likely to see an impact on our processing capacity in coming weeks. It is realistic to expect that with a workforce of 7000 we will at least have precautionary isolation within our workforce. We have processes in place to ensure that, should this occur, it can be managed. We are working on the various contingent options and will keep you updated should there be any disruption to processing.” . . 

Coronavirus: George Eustice applauds farmers as ‘hidden heroes’ :

Defra Secretary George Eustice has labelled farmers ‘hidden heroes’ for keeping food on the nation’s plates during the Covid-19 crisis.

In an open letter to the food and farming industry, Mr Eustice paid tribute to ‘all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed.’

The statement described farmers’ response so far as ‘extraordinary’ and thanked those involved in food production on behalf of the country.

“In the face of what is perhaps the greatest health challenge this country has faced in our lifetime, I want to pay tribute to all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed,” he said. . .  

 


Rural round-up

28/03/2020

After the lockdown, the economy’s recovery will be dependent on dairy farms and their milk – Point of Order:

The planet is  in a state of   flux,   economies are tumbling into  recession, no-one (not even Donald Trump) can predict  when the agony will  end.

Suddenly, the streets  are  empty:  life  as  we have  known  it is  now  very  different. The  nation  is  in   lockdown.

As  the  London  “Economist” put it:

“The struggle  to  save  lives  and the  economy  is  likely to present  agonising choices…As  that  sends economies  reeling, desperate  governments are trying to tide over  companies and  by handing out millions of  dollars in  aid and loan guarantees. Nobody can be sure how these rescues  will work”. . . 

Don’t stress weakening economy – Neal Wallace:

Economist Cameron Bagrie is joining a chorus of calls for the Government to delay introducing policy imposing new environmental rules and costs on a rapidly weakening economy.

Bagrie says Government borrowing as a percentage of gross domestic product has doubled from 20% to 40% in the last few weeks as it tries to protect jobs and businesses from the impact of measures to control the covid-19 virus pandemic.

He expects Government borrowing will increase further and warns now is not the time to introduce more costs on businesses in freshwater regulations and the new minimum wage, which applies from April 1.

“Farming has been unloved and beaten up by the Government for the last two or three years but the Government is going to need farmers for the next few years.” . . 

Virus adds to woes of North Canterbury farmers – David Hill:

The uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic is adding yet another headache for North Canterbury farmers.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Cameron Henderson and North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro say dry conditions, the ongoing effects of Mycoplasma bovis and coronavirus, and this week’s 5.1-magnitude earthquake near Culverden are creating uncertainty.

‘‘The effects of the virus seem to be changing day to day as we have seen with share markets and travel bans,’’ Mr Henderson said. . . 

Meat matters to sector stalwart – Colin Williscroft:

Tim Ritchie retires as Meat Industry Association chief executive on April 7 after a career in primary sector roles that began in the 1970s. Colin Williscroft reports.

THE meat industry has come a long way since Tim Ritchie got involved and a decision made on the far side of the world about then that has provided the biggest advantage to the sector here in the years since.

Though it might not have seemed like it at the time, in retrospect Britain joining the then European Economic Community in 1973 was the best thing that could have happened for New Zealand farmers. . . 

Leader learnt a lot in dairy industry – Yvonne O’Hara:

‘‘It was like being dropped into the mothership of emergency management.’’

That is how Katrina Thomas describes her involvement with the recent flood recovery effort in the South.

The Wreys Bush dairy farmer was Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) southern regional hub leader for Otago and Southland since 2016, and regional leader for Southland since 2012.

However, this year she decided she wanted to try other challenges. . . 

Wine industry faces worker accommodation woes during lockdown:

The wine industry is facing criticism for continuing harvest during the Covid-19 lockdown, and is facing problems with worker accommodation

The government says the grape and wine industry can continue to operate as an essential business, but strict conditions apply as the country moves to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Some Marlborough people have noticed the hundreds of workers travelling to work in vineyards all over the district, and have questioned whether this was safe in the current climate. . . 


Rural round-up

26/03/2020

COVID-19: Support rural businesses – Rural Women NZ – Pam Tipa:

We need to make sure that our rural businesses are well supported, says Fiona Gower, Rural Women NZ national president.

“With the lack of tourists coming through we need to ensure the small businesses can survive because without them we don’t have a community,” she told Rural News last week.

“Once they are gone it is really hard to get them back.

She says digital communication will also play an important part in the coronavirus response.  . . 

Rural businesses band together – Colin Williscroft:

Rural businesses Farmlands, PGG Wrightson and FarmSource have pledged to work together during the covid-19 response.

In an open letter, the companies’ chief executives said they will harness their collective supply chain to maintain productivity.

“It is time for us all to do what we can to try and continue to support you through these challenging times,” the letter says.

“We are working closely together to ensure that all farmers and growers across New Zealand have the necessary products and supplies to keep your businesses operating.  . . 

Rules driving farmers out – Sudesh Kissun:

New farming rules around sustainability are driving elderly farmers out of the dairy industry, says agri-economist Phil Journeaux.

He says over the past three years, there’s been an increase in farmers, in their 60s and 70s, looking at other options. Journeaux, AgFirst Waikato, spoke at a Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) seminar in Te Aroha last week.

Attended by about 50 farmers, the event went ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Maize volume okay but feed still tight – Richard Rennie:

The maize silage supply has shaped up better than might have been expected despite one of the driest summers on record stifling production.

Bill Webb of Bill Webb Feed Solutions near Te Puke said crops on lower, wetter country have performed better this year than last season when heavy rain washed out many crops on the same land.

“But on the higher, drier country the yields have proved to be quite variable. Average block yields would still be 22 tonnes a hectare but there are some on that lower country that would be up to 26t.”  . . 

2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals winners announced:

In a world that’s a little topsy-turvy it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate great New Zealand produce with the announcement of 2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medal winners.

Twenty-five judges and eight stewards worked in panels to assess a record 225 food and drink entries at AUT School of Hospitality & Tourism on Saturday 7 March 2020. Following the judges’ assessment of aroma, appearance, taste, texture and quality which accounted for 75% of marks, products were assessed for sustainability and brand story. Shoppers will recognise outstanding food and drink as they proudly wear Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards gold, silver and bronze medals—a guarantee of product quality. . . 

Maori orchardists capitalise on global demand for organic produce – Bonnie Flaws:

Māori orchardist Otama Marere has embraced organic kiwifruit production, converting a total of 7 hectares of its 45 hectare block into organic SunGold kiwifruit, with further conversions being considered.

The trust that manages the land has also held educational days on the land for other Maori kiwifruit growers interested in organic production, says orchard manager Homman Tapsell.

The land, near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty is a former Māori settlement on the banks of the Kaituna river, with the name coming from a nearby pa site that was occupied by Rangiiwaho and his whanau. Trust members are the descendants of Rangiiwaho, he said. . . 


Rural round-up

21/03/2020

Coronavirus: Fonterra, New Zealand is counting on you now like never before – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan in his opening remarks about this week’s strong half-year result said against the backdrop of coronavirus turmoil, the big dairy company’s news “may sound somewhat trivial”.

We knew what he meant, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

The financial performance of New Zealand’s biggest company and the world’s fourth-largest dairy company assumes towering new importance because of that turmoil.

Dairying was an economic sword for New Zealand against the GFC. . . 

New Zealand’s food supply needs protecting:

The animal medicines and crop protection lobby group Agcarm applauds the government’s efforts to protect the health of New Zealanders in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, buts asks that support is extended to the farming community for maintaining essential food supplies.

Agcarm chief executive says “our rural communities are needed more than ever to ensure that this health crisis doesn’t turn into a hunger crisis”. Food production must be prioritised as an essential part of the COVID-19 response.

“We must maintain the uninterrupted movement of animal medicine and crop protection products, seeds and feed so that our farmers can keep healthy livestock and maintain an abundant supply of meat, fruits, vegetables and grains.” . . 

Still in business – Annette Scott:

Rural people are urged to band together in keeping safe as they ride the tough times of the coronavirus pandemic.

Social resilience is key and if everyone works together “we will get through this,” the Mental Health Foundation says.

Agriculture is still in business and likely to lead the bounce back, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

“Farming is likely to be the quickest to rebound from the fallout from coronavirus. . . 

Drought starting to bite hard – Colin Williscroft:

Drought shouts organised by North Island rural support trusts have been put on hold by restrictions on gatherings.

Rural Support Trust chairman Neil Bateup says the social events bringing farmers together to deal with the drought and take their minds off some of its problems are no longer an option as the focus goes on keeping farmers and trust staff safe from covid-19.

It does not affect the trust’s other services.

“We’re absolutely determined to continue with the one-on-one support and advice to farmers.

“That will not be interrupted but we’re putting some protocols in place to keep everyone safe.” . . 

Dairy farm sales low but recovering – Maja Burry:

New figures from the Real Estate Institute show dairy farm sales remain slow, with only one dairy farm changing hands in Canterbury in the last nine months.

Data released yesterday shows 1253 farms were sold in the year to February 2020, 14.8 percent fewer than were sold in the year to February 2019, with 37 percent less dairy farms, 10 percent less grazing farms, 27.9 percent less finishing farms and 9.9 percent less arable farms sold over the same period.

The institute’s rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke said the data reflected a rural industry under pressure in terms of volumes and values, particularly the dairy sector. . . 

Synlait Milk’s first half profit drops 30 percent :

Synlait Milk has reported a 30 percent fall in its first half profit as its costs rose despite higher revenue.

The dairy company’s net profit for the six month ended January was $26.2 million, compared with $37.3 million the year before.

Revenue rose 19 percent, but its depreciation and financing costs offset that as the company expanded for future growth. . .


Rural round-up

16/03/2020

Rural people show their support – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Mark Warren has posted a call for help on social media in an attempt to let other farmers who are finding life tough know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Warren, who owns Waipari Station in Central Hawke’s Bay, says after a sleepless few hours of the 2am churn and trying to be sensible and realise that his Ts and Ps (temperatures and pressures) are in the red zone, he realised he needed help.

“Although I keep hoping to be back to 12 volts, after a weekend wading through waste-deep mud and pulling lambs out of dams I realise my volt meter is struggling to stay in the safe zone. . .

It was all done on a handshake – Neal Wallace:

Stud breeding has enabled the Robertson family from Southland to settle family members onto farms. But Neal Wallace discovers that is only part of the formula for successful farm succession. Being a tight knit, focused and strong family unit also helps.

It might be dismissed as a cliche but the adage that an apple never falls far from the tree is applicable to the Robertson family from Southland.

The Robertsons farm Duncraigen Farm at Mimihau near Wyndham and the cornerstone of their business are stud Hereford cattle, Romney and Dorset Down stud sheep and various crosses of those breeds. . .

 Attracting more ag students – Peter Burke:

The numbers of students taking up agricultural degrees at Massey University is not really increasing, according to Professor Peter Kemp – head of the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey.

He says there are isolated areas such as animal science that have gone up. However, in horticulture and general agriculture the numbers are lower than they were a few years ago.

Kemp says this is despite the industry, at the same time, having more jobs. He says it’s really hard to unpack the reasons for this. . . 

Blade shear champ looks to 2022 – George Clark:

South Canterbury world champion blade shearer Allan Oldfield is training strategically in an attempt to retain his title at the next shearing and woolhandling world championships in Scotland in 2022.

Mr Oldfield, who is a finalist in the rural sportsman of the year category in this year’s Rural Games, started competing when he was 16 years old in New Zealand’s intermediate blade shearing grade . .

Business is blooming – Toni Williams’s:

Turley Farms Chertsey, in the heart of Mid Canterbury, is among a growing number of farms turning to sunflowers as a rotation crop to use between plantings.

Sunflowers are good for high oleic sunflower oil, which is high in oleic (monounsaturated) acid (at least 80%), and good as a frying oil. It also has a good shelf life and is used in infant formula.

The farm group, which has properties scattered throughout Canterbury, has planted more than 40ha of sunflowers at the Chertsey site. There are 62,000 sunflower plants per hectare. . .

Aussie flock hits 116 year low – Sudesh Kissun:

Prolonged dry conditions in rural Australia are taking a toll on its national sheep flock.

The latest forecast from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) says sheep numbers will fall 3.5% this year.

According to MLA’s 2020 Sheep Industry Projection, stock numbers have been dropping due to drought in key sheep producing regions. . .


Rural round-up

24/02/2020

Dairy farmers must increase risk – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers have to learn to take more risk because staying put is no longer risk-free, independent Cameron Bagrie says.

The pace of change will accelerate not slow and farmers face three to five more years of this grumpy growth, which stems from rising costs and more regulations, he told a DairyNZ farmers forum.

“Stop being so polite and drive the key changes in the things that you can control.” . .

Net zero goal needs new tech – Colin Williscroft:

Agriculture and land use systems will have to be transformed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, Scottish academic Professor Bob Rees says.

While all sectors of the economy will have to play their part cutting emissions, the likely consequences for agriculture are stark, the keynote speaker at the Farmed Landscapes Research Centre workshop said.

Rees, an agriculture and climate change expert at Scotland Rural College, said emissions from the sector urgently need to be reduced but costs and inertia are significant barriers. . .

Cavalcades bosses keep coming back – Sally Rae:

When Chris Bayne and Sandra Cain drive around the Otago hinterland, they know what lies behind the hills.

For they have been there, among the tussocks, during their combined involvement of more than 50 years with the Otago Goldfields Cavalcade.

The two trail bosses are preparing to head off on this year’s event, which will see hundreds of riders, wagoners, walkers and cyclists arrive in Patearoa next Saturday.

Mrs Bayne’s light wagon and riding trail will meet today at Ardgour, near Tarras, while Mrs Cain’s walking trail will start on Wednesday from Ida Valley Station. . .

Winemaking need not drain reservoirs– Mark Price:

Robin Dicey cannot quite turn water into wine, but he is turning grapes into wine without water. The Bannockburn wine industry pioneer tells reporter Mark Price about his recent vino experiments.

Imagine  growing grape vines in Central Otago without pumping millions of litres of water to them through millions of metres of plastic pipe.

Without an irrigation system, surely they would wither and die in the heat of a Central summer.

Retired Bannockburn wine industry pioneer Robin Dicey is not so sure they would, and has begun an experiment to test that theory. . .

New regional leader award:

A new Regional Leader of the Year Award has been established by Dairy Women’s Network.

Chief executive Jules Benton says more than 70 volunteer regional leaders provide an important point of contact for farmers and play key role in their communities through to organising, hosting and promoting regional events.

They are the face of the network while also in some cases are running million dollar businesses. . .

Farmer confidence plummets amid Brexit and bad weather:

Continued weather conditions and Brexit uncertainty has led to a significant drop in farmer confidence, new figures suggest.

Political unpredictability surrounding the terms of the UK’s post-transition period and the recent flooding is taking its toll on industry confidence.

Results from the latest NFU survey of farmers across the UK shows that short-term (one year) confidence has reduced further from last year, dropping 11 points, to its 3rd lowest level since the survey began in 2010. . .


Rural round-up

20/02/2020

West Coast man decries government’s ‘blatant attack on property rights’ :

An elderly West Coast man has appealed to the government not to take his land, after more than 70 percent of it was classed as a Significant Natural Area.

Tony Barrett, 86, lives alone on his 607ha block on the Arnold Valley Road, east of Greymouth.

Barrett’s grandparents first leased the land near Notown from the government in the 1930s after it was cleared of trees, dug over and mined for gold by returned servicemen.

The Barretts left much of it undeveloped, and a large chunk of the formerly gorse-covered block is now regenerating native bush. . . 

Wild rabbit sellers say cost of audits driving them out of business:

Those trying to make a living from selling wild rabbits to restaurants and for pet food say they are being driven out of business by high compliance costs.

Shooters and processors spoken to by RNZ said audits up to every six weeks were over the top and they should not be treated in the same way as a large scale meat works.

Bob Thomson has run a sole operator rabbit processing plant on the outskirts of Christchurch for the past two decades, supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants around the country and for pet food.

But he is drowning under a tsunami of paperwork. . .

Helping farmers tell their stories – Colin Williscroft:

There’s an increasing awareness of the need for farmers to tell their stories to help explain to urban New Zealanders the realities of life on the land and the contribution the primary sector makes to the country. Lisa Portas of Palliser Ridge is determined to help get those stories across, as Colin Williscroft found out.

 For farming stories to truly connect with an urban audience they not only have to be told well, they need to be authentic and that means they have to come from farmers themselves, Wairarapa farmer Lisa Portas says.

If that’s going to work farmers need to become more comfortable being their own narrators and not be afraid to use a range of channels from social media to open days to encourage a wider understanding of agricultural industries, the people involved, the processes and the reasons why decisions are made. . .

Around world and back to Synlait – Toni WIlliams:

Lachie Davidson has travelled to the other side of the world, been crowned a world champion egg thrower and has just embarked on a career with an internationally recognised company which prides itself as being an outside-the-box thinker.

The 22-year-old former Ashburton College head boy is one of four to gain a place in the Synlait Future Leaders Programme. More than 300 people applied.

Under the three-year accelerated development programme, developed by Synlait organisational development manager Tony Aitken, he will undergo leadership training as he learns different facets of the company. . .

LIC to seek shareholder approval to acquire 50% stake for $108.7 million in Israeli agritech company Afimilk:

    • The investment will strengthen LIC’s ability to deliver superior herd improvement services and agritech to its farmers.
    • The proposed 50% stake in Afimilk will help LIC keep its world-leading edge in pastoral dairy farming data while broadening access to new information to meet future needs and challenges.
    • Afimilk is profitable, has no debt and has historically paid dividends to its shareholders. . .

Rural market reflects external volatility:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 57 less farm sales (-13.6%) for the three months ended January 2020 than for the three months ended January 2019. Overall, there were 363 farm sales in the three months ended January 2020, compared to 345 farm sales for the three months ended December 2019 (+5.2%), and 420 farm sales for the three months ended January 2019. 1,277 farms were sold in the year to January 2020, 14.7% fewer than were sold in the year to January 2019, with 40.3% less Dairy farms, 3.9% less Grazing farms, 28.4% less Finishing farms and 9.8% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to January 2020 was $21,221 compared to $27,087 recorded for three months ended January 2019 (-21.7%). The median price per hectare decreased 7.7% compared to December 2019. . .


Rural round-up

15/02/2020

No sense – Rural News:

How can you be green when you are in the red?

That is the very question many rural communities and farmers around the country should be asking the Government.

Its proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – dropped just before Christmas with a very truncated submission period – has all the hallmarks of the Government looking like it is consulting; when it has already made up its mind.

In submissions to the parliamentary select committee on environment, which is overseeing the ETS changes, Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) highlighted the lack of any robust analysis of socio-economic impacts of the ETS amendment to farming and rural communities. . .

New law won’t solve money woes – Colin Williscroft:

Reluctance by some farmers to make tough decisions based on their balance sheets is becoming the elephant in the room in some farming circles, Feilding-based BakerAg farm consultant Gary Massicks says.

The situation is not one that has happened overnight but changing influences such as banking policy, pressure exacerbated by social media, new environmental demands and regulations and increasingly irregular weather patterns are changing the world farmers operate in so they need to adapt.

Massicks has spoken to his peers around the country and though the problem is not widespread it exists. . .

New Zealand wine exports continue their steady growth going into the new decade

New Zealand wineries are continuing their steady growth on the world stage, driven largely by the famed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. According to NZWine.com, the wine industry recorded its 24th consecutive year of export growth in 2019.

This figure puts New Zealand on track to hit a $2 billion target for 2020, driven largely by an explosion of popularity in the United States and Europe. There are about 500 wineries in New Zealand, the bulk of whom produce Marlborough Sauvignon as their primary wine. . .

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments:

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments including move to 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025

Zespri, the world’s leading marketer of kiwifruit, has announced a new commitment to make all of its packaging 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The announcement is one of a suite of sustainability commitments shared today with growers, consumers and suppliers at the New Zealand kiwifruit industry’s marquee conference – Momentum 2020: Standing Up and Standing Out. . . .

Meaty increases push up annual food prices:

Higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish contributed to a 3.5 percent increase in food prices for the year ended January 2020, the largest annual rise in food prices in over eight years, Stats NZ said today.

“Meat, poultry, and fish prices have increased 6.0 percent in the year. Restaurant and ready-to-eat meals increased 3.4 percent, while fruit and vegetable prices were up 2.7 percent,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

“Both beef mince and blade steak prices reached all-time highs in January, while bacon and lamb prices have increased sharply in the past 12 months. Decreased pork production in China during 2019 has increased export demand for New Zealand meat products, pushing prices up.” . .

 

“I can’t imagine myself anywhere but horticulture”, Bay of Plenty Young Grower Of The Year:

Melissa van den Heuvel, an Industry Systems Associate at NZ Avocado, has been named Bay of Plenty’s Young Grower for 2020 at an awards dinner in Tauranga.

The competition took place last Saturday, 8 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing ‘how can we as growers be better members of the wider community’ at the gala dinner on Wednesday night.

Melissa also excelled in individual challenges, including the Horticultural Biosecurity challenge and Avocado Tree Planting challenge, and especially impressed judges with her speech on passing knowledge to future generations. . .


Rural round-up

11/02/2020

All that’s missing is the workforce :

Mid-Canterbury farmer Ryan Esler enjoys an enviable lifestyle – working in the scenic foothills beneath Mt Hutt, jet boating on the Rakaia River, and fishing for fresh salmon.

But it’s becoming harder to attract young people to a career in farming and he believes the industry has a perception problem which needs to be addressed.

“If you start looking at petri dish meat, you’d think farming is doomed but there’s a lot of scope for a lot of different directions.

“When you look at the marketing of wool and merino, the range of products being made now is absolutely incredible. . .

Dry hits hard – Colin Williscroft:

As dry starts to ratchet up the pressure on farmers Central Hawke’s Bay farmer John Waldin has been lucky enough to get some of his stock away to the works but there’s still more that needs to go.

Waldin was pleased to get a call confirming he will be able to send 240 lamb to the works.

Though he’s experienced conditions just as dry as now on his Ashley Clinton property Waldin can’t remember a time when he’s seen such a shortage of grass.

He normally aims to kill lambs at a carcase weight of 18kg-plus but a couple of weeks ago he decided there was not enough feed so drafted at 15kg-plus, with anything lighter likely to be worth more as stores. . . 

Is grass-only still feasible in New Zealand farming? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Nobody, least of all farmers, wants animals to be hungry – but is grass-only best? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Drought is affecting the country. Holiday makers have been able to enjoy warm temperatures and sunny barbecues, but towns and cities are already on restrictions for watering gardens and washing cars, particularly in the north and east of the North Island.

The situation for farmers is different – it is animals and crops that are the focus.

Farmers in some areas have access to irrigation, but most don’t, and they are increasingly worried about when rain might come. . .

Aussies get a taste of Kiwi – Tony Leggett:

Two enterprising young Australian rural professionals received an amazing insight into New Zealand agriculture during a two-week whistle-stop tour of the country last November.

The pair were joint winners of the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award which is presented annually by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP), a group of 150 larger scale and influential farm owners and agribusiness professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

The award is open to anyone under 35 and winners receive $2000 in prize money plus a flying trip around properties and agribusinesses on both sides of the Tasman, hosted by members of the PPP group. . . 

 

U.S. dairy subsidies equal 73 percent of producer returns, says new report :

Comparing government support for Canadian versus American dairy farmers is not a simple black and white process. While Canada’s dairy sector operates under a regulated supply management system, the U.S. government’s support for its dairy farmers is less direct.

Support, in its various forms, equaled 73 percent of U.S. dairy farmers’ market returns in 2015, according to a report published by a Canadian trade consulting firm on Thursday.

The 588-page study by Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates — commissioned by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) — says the American government contributed around $22.2 billion in direct and indirect subsidies to the dairy sector in 2015. . . 

2019 GB potato crop fifth lowest on record :

Total potato production in Great Britain for the 2019 crop has been estimated to be the fifth lowest on record, according to latest figures.

AHDB estimates the figure to be 5.10Mt, which is an increase of 182Kt from last season, but 7% below the five-year average (2014-2018, 5.49Mt).

While total GB production is 4 percent more than last season, it still comes in at the fifth lowest on record.

The 2019 estimated average net yield is 45.6t/ha, up 3.9t/ha from last season and 2% below the five year average (2014-2018, 46.6t/ha). . . 

 


Rural round-up

29/01/2020

Seaweed supplement developer confident – Colin Williscroft:

Development of a feed supplement aimed at reducing methane emissions is well advanced, as Colin Williscroft reports.

The methane-busting seaweed technology developer who got $500,000 from the latest Provincial Growth Fund round expects to do product trials here this year and maybe have a product commercially available by next year.

CH4 Global, based in New Zealand and the United States, is focused on commercial scale aquaculture and processing of native asparagopsis seaweed in Southland, Marlborough and Northland and initially in the Port Lincoln area in South Australia. . .

Synlait increases forecast milk payout:

Dairy company Synlait has increased its forecast payout for the current production of milk solids on the back of strong market prices.

The company is now forecasting a payout of $7.25 a kilogram of milk solids from its previous assessment of $7 a kilo.

Synlait chief executive Leon Clement said prices had been strong since the end of last year. . .

Grains harvest shaping up well – Annette Scott:

Cropping farmers across the country are chomping at the bit eager to get their headers onto what is shaping up to be a late but good harvest season, Federated Farmers arable sector grains chairman Brian Leadley says.

Canterbury growing conditions, in particular, have been favourable and with cooler temperatures this summer crops are running a couple of weeks behind normal harvest time.

But that’s not a problem yet with crops looking good and with a spell of warm, sunny weather over the next couple of weeks harvest will kick into full swing. . . 

Perfect day for all who like ‘farm stuff’– Karen Pasco:

Chugging, hissing, thudding and whirring, along with the smell of coal burning and smoky steam filling the air. There was no question — this was Edendale Crank Up Day 2020.

The sun shone as lawnmower races, tractor-pulling events, parades, novelty competitions and bands entertained spectators sitting up to eight-deep around the main ring on Saturday.

Thousands of tractor and traction engine enthusiasts, as well as people just looking for something fun to do, came to the annual three-day event hosted by the Edendale Vintage Machinery Club. . .

Let’s celebrate our frontrunners – entries open for PINZ Awards

Entries are now open for the national Primary Industries New Zealand Awards.

This year’s award winners will be presented at the Primary Industries Summit at Te Papa in Wellington on June 24.

“These awards are all about celebrating the significant achievements being made every week, every month and every year by New Zealand’s primary sector, and its supporters,” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . .

British farmers are not the enemy in the battle against climate crisis – Joe Stanley:

I am a farmer, the third generation to grow crops and pedigree beef cattle on my family’s modest farm on the edge of the picturesque Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire. Summer and autumn is primarily given over to long days of harvesting and planting crops while our 150 traditional longhorn cattle munch at grass; in the long winter nights, they come indoors to shelter and chew at hay harvested and stored in the spring.

Most of you reading this, I would wager, are not directly associated with agriculture. It might therefore be assumed that there’s a gulf between our plains of existence, that we do not and cannot understand each other. I believe this is a false assumption. . .


Rural round-up

11/01/2020

‘Tragic start’ to 2020: Six deaths on NZ farms in six days – Eleisha Foon:

Six people have died in workplace incidents on New Zealand farms in six days this year

The latest death came today when one person died in a quad bike crash on a Wharepuhunga farm, south of Cambridge.

Another death earlier this week included a 67-year-old man who died when the tractor he was driving rolled down a bank at the Goldfields Mining Centre near Cromwell on Wednesday. . .

Farmers take the lead – Sandra Taylor:

Two Rangitikei farmers are driving a bottoms-up approach to improving water quality in their region by encouraging and empowering farmers and their communities to work collectively to address water quality issues.

Roger Dalrymple, who farms Waitatapia Station, a large-scale mixed cropping operation near Bulls and Taihape sheep and beef farmer Mark Chrystall, were instrumental in setting up the Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective (RRCC) two years ago. This group acts as an umbrella organisation for community catchment groups based around three major river systems in the region. Collectively these groups involve at least 250 farmers and numerous other community stakeholders.

Roger, who like Mark is a passionate environmentalist, says over the past 100 years, everything about environmental management has been driven from the top down and it is a model that has failed. . . 

Trade Secrets makes its predictions for 2020 – Alan Beattie :

Happy new year and all that. Now, where we were? Ah yes, indefinite global trade tension and Brexit.

Making predictions is the done thing around this time of year, and we’re not unknown for sticking our necks out. So in today’s newsletter we give you ours (or at least this particular writer’s) for events in the trade world.

We plead in mitigation that predicting trade politics, particularly the timing of events, is difficult at the best of times given the interminable bureaucratic processes involved. And these days we have Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, possessing respectively no consistent decision-making criteria at all and a genius for unacknowledged U-turns. Also, Iran. Sometimes it feels like you might as well be betting on raindrops running down a window. Be kind to us if some of these forecasts turn out wrong. Our chart of the day looks at something which definitely did happen, namely the slump in trade between South Korea and Japan last year. . . 

Students push rural health work – Colin Williscroft:

Nursing students joined medical students late last year on a tour designed to promote rural health careers to pupils in rural schools.

Third-year Wellington nursing students Rachael Rowe, Lagisi Wirangi, Katrin Scott, Laura Winter and Mickey Walker took part in a five-day trip through Wairarapa and Central Hawke’s Bay to Napier and back to encourage country children to consider medical and health careers.

It was the first time nursing students took part in the tour, Whitireia Polytech nursing programme manager Leanne Pool said.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to promote nursing as a career choice to young people.” . . 

Reading to Reporoa – Sophie Barnes:

When Alexandra Lond began studying English Literature in 2012, the thought that, seven years later she’d be in Reporoa, New Zealand, managing an 800-cow herd would never have crossed her mind.

English woman Alex’s route into farming began while studying at Reading University. She befriended agricultural students during hockey practice, after hearing all the farming chatter “made me want to know more.”

A friend put her in touch with Sally Manford, of Hinxdon Farm, in Kent, and volunteered her way into a job.

“I spent two months shadowing the milker, working for free, before heading to my day job in town,” she says. . . 

Sticky wicket for honey producers – Richard Rennie:

Honey producers face a season of lean returns as prices plunge to well below break-even, leaving some having to decide if this year’s crop is even worth harvesting.

Beekeeping Incorporated president Jane Lorimer said prices for bulk honey have dropped to $3.50 to $4 a kilo, well down on the $6-$7 a kilo needed to break even on production costs.

Lorimer, a Waikato producer, said she has been lucky also having income generated through kiwifruit pollination, which will be a valuable side income. . . 

DairyNZ to host Farmers Forum

DairyNZ will hold a series of farmer meetings over the next two months to help participants better understand what is driving changes in the sector and how to respond.

The Farmers Forum 2020 programme kicks off in Northland on February 18. Events will follow in Waikato, Southland, Taranaki and Canterbury.

The events are free DairyNZ levy players and their staff. DairyNZ says farmers will get updated on regional and national policy development, latest science and an overview of the industry body’s activities. . .

Leading livestock photographer Ben Simpson shares his favourite photos – Lucy Kinbacher:

Have you ever seen a bull dance?

If you’ve got a paddock of stud sires, chances are you have. But it isn’t until you look behind the lens of Ben Simpson’s camera that you truly notice the ballroom spectacular taking place.

Dancing with Bulls is one of the many moments captured by this globally recognised photographer that the average human would probably fail to see.

When Ben was encouraged by a mate to buy his first Pentax camera while living in America, little did he know it would shape the rest of his life. . . 


Rural round-up

10/12/2019

New approach called for on lending – Nigel Malthus:

Banks need to take a different approach to lending to farmers, according to new Lincoln University research.

Banks usually look at historic business statistics and equity levels, but the research suggests that a better indicator of a farmer’s credit worthiness is his or her skills, attitudes and knowledge in running a farm.

Honorary Associate Professor Peter Nuthall said the study emphasised the fact that the world runs on individuals and their skills.

While a lender might form a subjective impression about a would-be borrower…“they rely on those records, credit ratings and so on to make those decisions rather than their personal feelings,” he said. . . 

A2 Milk boss Jayne Hrdlicka exits job suddenly – Jamie Gray:

Shares in alternative milk company a2 Milk had recovered some ground but were still weak after the surprise announcement that managing director and chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka would step down, having spent less than 18 months in the job.

By 12.30 pm the stock was trading at $14.69, down 48c or 3.1 per cent from Friday’s close. The stock had opened sharply weaker at $14.00.

Former chief executive Geoff Babidge has stepped in as interim CEO commencing immediately, a2 Milk said. . . 

Getting the best out of people – Colin Williscroft:

Helping rural women connect with each other and realise their potential has become a source of inspiration for Sandra Matthews, as Colin Williscroft discovered.

Successful farming partnerships are built around a connection between the land and those who work it and for Sandra Matthews that means ensuring women know they belong on farms and have important roles to play.

Sandra farms with her husband Ian inland from Gisborne in a partnership that can be traced back to their meeting 30 years ago at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, when they were on OE.

At the end of their travels they returned to their homes, Sandra to Australia and Ian to Te Kopae Station, the 536ha family farm that borders the Rere Falls, about 50km northwest of Gisborne, where the couple live today. . .

Winner wants to make difference – Riley Kennedy:

The horticulture sector has always been in Simon Gourley’s blood and he is now working hard to make a name for himself in the wine industry. He spoke to Riley Kennedy.

Growing up in Invercargill Simon Gourley spent his school holidays and weekends on his grandparents’ berry orchard in Central Otago, which he believes is what inspired him to work in horticulture.

“I spent a lot of time in the school holidays and weekends up there and I knew it was the path I wanted to take,” he said. . . 

Seasonal workers’ important NZ role – John Gibson:

It’s time to start giving credit to the seasonal pickers, packers and pruners for the role they play in our economy, writes the University of Waikato’s John Gibson

The Government recently announced increases in the cap for visas under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. After the second increase, the scheme will allow up to 16,000 workers to come in the 2020/21 season. These seasonal workers are mainly from the Pacific, and come to pick and pack fruit, to prune, and to carry out other labour-intensive tasks in the horticulture and viticulture industries.

This increase comes as the kiwifruit industry faces the possibility of fruit rotting on the vines if there are not enough workers to pick it. And they aren’t the only export industry facing a shortage. . . 

India shows why the global shift to plant-based diets is dangerousSylvia KarpagamFrédéric Leroy and Martin Cohen:

Vegetarians, much less vegans, would prefer not to be compelled to eat meat. Yet the reverse compulsion is what lurks in the growing proposals for a new plant-based “planetary diet.” Nowhere is this more visible than in India.

The subcontinent is often stereotyped by the West as a vegetarian utopia, where transcendental wisdom, longevity and asceticism go hand in hand. 

Earlier this year, the EAT-Lancet Commission released its global report on nutrition and called for a global shift to a more plant-based diet and for “substantially reducing consumption of animal source foods.” In countries like India, that call could become a tool to aggravate an already fraught political situation and stress already undernourished populations. . . 

New Zealand wool showcased in planes, offices, shops and homes around the globe:

The global marketing efforts of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool) mean the humble-looking sheep in your nearest paddock could be producing wool that is destined for some very high places around the world.

Through its subsidiary NZ Yarn, which spins wool yarn for use in carpets and rugs, national wool company CP Wool has supplied wool that is gracing the floors of the first class cabins on Emirates airliners.

Closer to the ground, CP Wool’s efforts are seeing New Zealand wool showcased on the world stage in several corporate headquarters in New York; including carpets in the Wells Fargo, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Time Warner and Chaincode Labs head offices. The London Stock Exchange’s New York outpost also features New Zealand wool soft flooring. . . 


Rural round-up

06/12/2019

Be fair about passing on costs, Federated Farmers tells banks:

Federated Farmers is urging the trading banks to absorb as much as possible of the additional costs of new bank capital requirements rather than dump it all on customers, and especially on under-pressure farmers.

The Reserve Bank has estimated the impact of the required lift in total capital to 18% for the four large banks and 16% for remaining smaller banks (from a current average of 14.1%) will be a 0.2% increase in average bank lending rates.

“But the impact on farming is likely to be much higher,” Federated Farmers commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“This is because there is less lending competition in the agricultural sector and we know banks are already looking to reduce their exposure to farm debt. Banks have been putting the squeeze on farmers even before today’s announcements by the Reserve Bank.” . .

Low methane New Zealand sheep coming to a farm near you – Esther Taunton:

Farmers will soon be able to breed low methane sheep through a “world first” genetics programme. 

Beef and Lamb New Zealand has added low methane production to the list of traits breeders can target when choosing rams.

Farmers already use several “breeding values” (BV) to select animals with characteristics they want to strengthen in their flocks, including meat yield and lamb survival rate. . . 

Farmer leads second Wayleggo Cup win – David Hill:

Andy Clark is proud to boast an unbeaten record as New Zealand sheep dog trials test team captain.

The Banks Peninsula farmer led his country to a second successive Wayleggo Cup triumph over Australia at the 125th annual Nelson A&P Show on November 23 and 24.

‘‘It’s a great event and it brings out the best in people. It’s always good to represent your country and it’s an honour to be the captain.’’

He had a very successful season with his dog Girl, winning the national long head title and placing sixth overall in the yarding at the New Zealand sheep dog trials championships earlier this year.

Qualification for the national side is based on performances at the North Island and South Island competitions and the national championships. . . 

Growers told change needed now – Colin Williscroft:

Vegetable growers have been told Overseer won’t work for them and farm environment plans are the best way to demonstrate good land management practice.

Agrilink director Andrew Barber, who is working with Vegetables NZ and HortNZ to encourage growers to develop plans, has been running a series of workshops in Levin to explain their benefits. Workshops are also being held in Pukekohe.

But there are a range of drawbacks applying Overseer to vegetable production. . . 

Kiwi farmers are joining a revolution – farming the regenerative way – Jendy Harper & Frank Film:

There’s a buzz in Simon Osborne’s paddock of crimson clover. It’s the hum of animated chatter as around 70 farming folk share their experiences of farming the regenerative way. 

Others in the field are quietly taking it all in – “newbies” attending their first field day to learn more about a farming practice that “mimics nature” and has its roots in soil biology and plant diversity.

With many New Zealand farmers facing financial and environmental challenges, a growing number are showing an interest in regenerative agriculture. . . 

City kids have farm classroom – Annette Scott:

A slice of rural New Zealand in the centre of Auckland has city kids farming with a view of the Sky tower.

While most Mt Albert Grammar School students grapple with the more usual classroom studies others are out getting hands-on agribusiness lesssons on the school’s 8.1 hectare farm.   

The cows and sheep grazing on a farm with a good view of Auckland’s sky tower is the story being told by the third Dairy Women’s Network visual story telling project – Our people, their stories.

The school farm was established in 1932 when the Auckland Horticultural Society decided city children were losing knowledge of farming practices and asked Mount Albert Grammar to teach agriculture and horticulture. . . 

Feeling of being branded ‘unclean’ – Sally Brooker:

North Otago farmers Murray and Gaynor Smith say they feel like they’ve been branded ‘‘unclean’’ as a result of being caught up in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

The Smiths are speaking out to show others in a similar predicament they are not alone.

It all started a year ago when Mr Smith bought eight cattle at Oamaru’s Waiareka saleyards. They joined the one resident steer on the 62ha Livingstone farm.

Mr Smith said he was contacted by the M. bovis casing team in Wellington on September 9, but ‘‘there was no indication given that there was anything to worry about’’.

About a week later, he was phoned by a person assigned by the Ministry for Primary Industries to be his incident control point (ICP) manager. The man, whom Mr Smith preferred not to name, told him his cattle were linked to a property known to have M. bovis. . . 


Rural round-up

17/11/2019

Under the sacred mountain

East Cape farmers Rob and Mary Andrews appreciate the opportunities they have been given by people who they have worked for in the past and they enjoy returning the favour to others, as Colin Williscroft discovered.

As the first place in the world to see the sun as it rises every day Mount Hikurangi is on a few bucket lists.

But few people venture to Pakihiroa Farms, about 20km inland from Ruatoria, where Rob and Mary Andrews live and work and which includes the mountain in its boundaries.

The farm is in an isolated spot in a part of the country that does not attract a lot of passing traffic, given it’s not on the way for most New Zealanders.  . . 

Busy gets busier – Cheyenne Nicholson:

An artificial insemination run is just one of many things a West Coast farmer has up her sleeve to generate extra income for the farm. Cheyenne Nicholson reports. 

RUNNING an Airbnb, milking 140 cows and raising two small children keep Hokitika 50:50 sharemilkers Thomas and Hannah Oats busy.

And if that isn’t enough, Hannah, in a bid expand her skills, to benefit their own business and generate some extra income has trained and qualified to become an artificial insemination technician. . . 

Cherry on top for station’s returns :

Twelve hectares of cherry trees planted in September at Mt Pisa Station, Central Otago complete the first stage of a $15.5 million cherry project by the horticultural investment firm Hortinvest.

Mt Pisa Station’s landowners, the MacMillan family, are among the investors who underwrote the planting. The sheep and beef business has set aside 80ha of prime pastoral land for the venture as it diversifies into horticulture.

The orchard will produce cherries for export from the summer of 2021-2022. . . 

Hort export figures challenged – Pam Tipa:

Horticulture’s export revenue growth is likely to be about 10% in the current financial year – not the 3.8% forecast by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Horticulture NZ (HortNZ) chief executive Mike Chapman says he doesn’t know where MPI got its figure in the Situation and Outlook report for Primary Industries.

Growth for horticulture was 13.7% in the year ended June 2019 in the September updated report. But it is forecast to be down to 3.8% in the current year.

HortNZ has asked how MPI arrived at that forecast because the report doesn’t say. . . 

Growth, exports recognised – Luisa Girao:

An Invercargill Blue River Dairy manager believes the company is changing the face of the New Zealand dairy industry and recent recognition adds support to such a view.

Earlier this week, the Southland-based company received awards for fastest-growing manufacturing business and fastest-growing exporter at the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards, held in Auckland, which ranks the country’s fastest-growing businesses.

The company was also announced as the fifth-fastest-growing business overall. . . 

People keep stealing hemp from US farms, thinking it’s weed – Jason Nark:

People see the serrated leaves and the fuzzy buds from afar, but it’s the familiar smell wafting over the field that seals the deal.

They pack a not-so-brilliant idea into their heads and scramble to yank the hardy plants right from the soil. Back home, they light up and sit sober in the smoke, writing off their heist as a bunch of dank weed.

Hemp resembles marijuana, its much more psychoactive cousin, in just about every way except one: It probably won’t get you high. People in the US state of Pennsylvania caught stealing hemp still haven’t figured that out. . . 


Rural round-up

16/11/2019

Hear our voices – Colin Williscroft:

Country went to town in Wellington on Thursday with hundreds of farmers marching on Parliament to protest against what they see as increasing afforestation of productive farmland, often by overseas owners.

However, it wasn’t the only reason people were there with others expressing disapproval of policies focusing on everything from environmental regulations to gun control.

After gathering at Civic Square the protestors, many with placards and led by a tractor carrying a sign saying “Farmers have had enough” marched down Lambton Quay to Parliament where they delivered a petition, signed by more than 11,000 people onlinem, calling for the rejection of legislation that incentivises blanket afforestation of farmland. . .

Young farmer airs concerns – Henry Gaddum:

A young member of the region’s farming community has written an open letter in which he expresses deep concern himself, and on behalf of others, about the future of the region when it comes to land use and Henry Gaddum wants to do something about it.

Here is his letter —


“To a fellow Kiwi.

We are a group of young farmers in the Gisborne/East Coast region and we are seriously concerned about the future of not only our local environment and economy, but also the whole country in relation to Carbon Credits and Pine Trees.
We are fully engaged and enthusiastic about farming sustainably, keeping our creeks clean and re-establishing native trees and wildlife, but we are seriously worried what our countryside is going to look like in the near future, and what our future generations are going to have to try and deal with, if we as a country continue to sell our land to overseas investors.

It seems mad to be blanket planting the lands of one of the most efficient food (carbon footprint) producing countries in the world, just for a less efficient country to take up the slack in global food demand.
How is this helping the climate change problem
? . .

More restrictions in new gun laws – Neal Wallace:

A proposed new firearms register will require licence holders to constantly update the movement of weapons and ammunition, a firearms lobby group warns.

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners Association describes the proposed regulations on firearms while they are being moved or loaned as onerous and devoid of practical reality.

“What this law is actually doing is looking at the possession of firearms and ammunition not the ownership,” spokeswoman Nicole McKee said. . .

Meat processing sector trials ‘wearable’ technology to reduce injuries :

New wearable technology designed to reduce the risk of injury is being trialled by New Zealand’s meat processing sector.

The Suit-X Exoskeleton is a spring-loaded, non-mechanical device worn by workers to provide strength and support for mechanical and repetitive tasks.

The suits cut the risk of injury and increase productivity, especially during periods of sustained bending and overhead reaching. . .

NZ’s newest training college:

Training is set to become New Zealand’s newest education provider Agri and will be based in Mid Canterbury. The Agri Training programme will be fully user pays and has a goal of lifting training in the primary industries to a new standard in partnership with the world-renowned City & Guilds who have been providing technical skills education and corporate learning development training programmes since 1878. The partnership with City & Guilds complements the Agri Training programme, and as a result offers the diplomas credibility for graduates and employers. The programme will have specialist streams across dairy production, arable, sheep & beef, and deer offering students skill choices for the future and a wide-ranging knowledge as part of a new, innovative strategy that will offer a unique approach to training and assessment across the agricultural industry.

The Agri Training programme has been in the making for several years and has been guided to its launch by Co-Founder Matt Jones who has had a long involvement with agribusiness and recruitment over a 20-year period. . .

Forget the hunger games, greet the driverless tractor – Marian L. Tupy & Chelsea Follett:

If you are a sci-fi fan, then you have probably noticed the dystopian character of movies about the future. From the classics, such as Soylent Green and Blade Runner, to modern hits, such as the Matrix trilogy and District 9, Hollywood’s take on the future is almost invariably negative. The story lines tend to centre on depletion of natural resources, like in the Mad Max movies, the emergence of highly stratified societies, like Elysium, or both.

In Hollywood’s rendition, the future consists of a few people at the top, who partake in the good life and enjoy what’s left of earth’s resources, while the much more numerous masses suffer some form of enslavement and destitution. That is, until one day, a messianic figure emerges to overthrow the existing order, slaughters the oppressors, liberates the untermenschen and ushers in an era of peace and prosperity.

One of the most recent installments in Hollywood’s ceaseless torrent of dystopianism is the widely popular Hunger Games franchise. The plot warns of the dangers of authoritarianism and of the utter failure of central planning. Thanks to capitalism, the future will look very different. Before we get to that, here is a quick summary of the plot. . .


Rural round-up

12/11/2019

‘Huge gaps” in environmental data – Colin Williscroft:

Shortcomings in New Zealand’s environmental reporting system undermine rules designed to protect the environment, a new report says.

A review of the reporting system Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton identifies huge gaps in data and knowledge and calls for concerted action to improve the system.

He says the data gaps, along with inconsistent data collection and analysis, make it hard to construct a clear national picture of the state of the environment – and whether it is getting better or worse. . . 

Fonterra confident of making progress – Sally Rae:

While there are more big strategic decisions ahead for Fonterra this year, chairman John Monaghan is “very confident” in the progress the co-operative is making.

Addressing yesterday’s annual meeting, Mr Monaghan said the 2019 financial year was a year of significant challenges and change within the co-operative, as it continued to fundamentally change its culture and strategy.

It was another tough year of significant change for farmers which included the Government’s policy announcements on climate change and freshwater, the effect the Reserve Bank’s proposal to tighten capital reserve rules had on banks’ willingness to lend, and the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

Fonterra’s decision not to pay a dividend and significantly impair a number of assets was a surprise to many farmer shareholders. . . 

Underpass creates safer stock route – Alice Scott:

In 1930, Jim MacDonald’s father was one of many stock drovers on what is now State Highway 87 to take sheep through from Waipori to the Waipiata saleyards; he would pick up different station mobs on horseback with a couple of heading dogs.

These days the MacDonald family require three staff, high-visibility vests for people and dogs and flashing hazard lights on the top of their utes, and that is just to get the stock across the road.

This year Mr MacDonald said the time had come to install a stock underpass as it was no longer safe to cross stock over State Highway 87.

“We’ve had a few dogs go under the wheel of a vehicle and the logistics have just become very difficult. The road just seems to get busier and busier. . . 

Seized fruit tree cutting imports stoush: Nursery owners meet with MPI – Eric Frykberg:

Nursery owners are meeting officials of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in Wellington to try to resolve a continuing stand off over seized cuttings of new varieties of fruit trees.

They have said the Ministry overstated the case when it said progress was being made to resolve the matter, and many claims were still outstanding.

The problem began 16 months ago with the dramatic seizure of 48,000 fruit tree cuttings by officials from MPI. . . 

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations:

Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the successful conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, saying trade agreements are critical to the ongoing success of export industries like horticulture. 

‘Last year, New Zealand exported more than $3.6 billion to 128 different export markets,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘This year, that figure is expected to grow by a further 3.8 percent.  Such high levels of growth can only be achieved if export trading conditions are supportive, and barriers to entry are reduced constantly.’  . . 

Successful conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations welcomed by Onions New Zealand:

Onions New Zealand welcomes the successful conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, saying trade agreements like these underpin the success of the New Zealand onion sector.

‘The RCEP covers trade among New Zealand and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries, except India.  That is, half the world’s population,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘Without reduced tariffs and clear trading arrangements, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like Asia and Australia. 

‘Agreements like these mean more onions can be exported with the higher returns going directly back into regional New Zealand communities. . . 


Rural round-up

11/11/2019

Farmers back Fonterra mostly – Neal Wallace:

The prevailing mood might have been optimism among Fonterra shareholders at the annual meeting but a residual bitterness lingered, evidenced by two calls for chairman John Monaghan’s resignation.

About 200 shareholders attended the meeting in Invercargill on Thursday at which shareholders Jan-Maarten Kingma and Peter Moynihan both called for Monaghan’s head, saying there needs to be accountability for the decisions leading to Fonterra’s poor financial performance.

After the meeting Monaghan said he was not surprised by the resignation calls or the contrasting mood of the meeting, which reflected the broad church that is the co-operative. . . 

Learning from experience – Colin Williscroft:

Working the land is a challenging business at the best of times and for Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Ben and Libby Tosswill it’s important to focus on what they can change and try not to loose too much sleep over what they can’t, as Colin Williscroft found.

Ben and Libby Tosswill have been farming at Birch Hill Station for about 10 years, having returned to New Zealand from London where they worked in corporate finance and banking.

Trading the bright lights of the big city for the open landscape of Hawke’s Bay hill country has been a big change but the couple relish the lifestyle it’s provided them and their three boys – Fletcher, 8, Alex, 6, and Jack, 2. . .

Fit bits for cows? Tracking collars aim to reveal bovine personalities – Maja Burry and Simon Rogers:

It’s hoped new research looking at the different grazing personalities of Hereford cows will help high country farmers better use their land.

Lincoln University PHD candidate Cristian Moreno is using GPS tracking collars to monitor the differences in how some cows in the same herd graze and to establish which genetic and environmental factors influence their behaviour.

Mr Moreno said while he was still in the early stages of analysing the five million GPS data points that he had collected, he’d already found some cows would tend to walk about 2km in a day, while others would more than double that. . . 

New chairwoman in charge at trust – Toni Williams:

Jane Riach has taken over the helm on the board of Kanuka Mid Canterbury Regeneration Trust, helping to balance biodiversity, predator control and planting for purpose in the district.

Mrs Riach, who was approached to take on the chairwoman’s role, is equipped with organisational skills to help keep trust members on track and moving in the right direction.

She says the trust team was full of people already passionate about the work they were doing and had an abundance of energy and enthusiasm.

She, and husband Hamish, who is chief executive officer at Ashburton District Council, have been in town for just over a year, and Mrs Riach is already an active member in the Ashburton community. . . 

Meet Steve the seaweed man

As a horse-riding musterer on the wild Wairarapa coast, Steve Matthews used to watch deer gathering on the beach to feast on seaweed thrown up by the rough seas.

On retirement, he was inspired to start his own small business foraging and selling the stuff. Demand is huge but he plans to stay small-scale unless new regulations put him out of business.

Steve was brought up in Titahi Bay and has lived on rugged Wairarapa coast most of his life, shepherding and later managing a couple of farms.

“I was always on the beach as a kid… I love the sea.” . . 

Farmers helped to come up with carbon reduction plans – Conan Young:

Moving dairy cows indoors could be part of the answer to bringing down emissions on farms.

Farmers faced having five years to come up with their own tool to price and pay for the carbon and methane coming off their properties or being forced by the government to join the Emissions Trading Scheme.

For the first time since the ETS was introduced over a decade ago, there was a very real prospect of farmers being charged for their climate change inducing emissions. . 


Rural round-up

03/11/2019

Forestry conversions rules ‘totally out of control’ – Kate Newton:

Wealthy European buyers have snapped up four more sheep and beef farms to convert to forestry, as rural concerns over the sales ramp up.

Overseas Investment Office (OIO) decisions made in September and released today show the sales total more than 2200 hectares of land previously owned by New Zealanders, in Gisborne, Wairoa and Whangarei.

The new owners plan to plant 1600 hectares of the land as commercial forests.

Austrian count Johannes Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg, who purchased two other sheep and beef farms for forestry conversion in August, is the purchaser of two of the latest properties. . .

Farmers given breathing space on ETS but stress remains – Jo Moir:

The government’s “world-first” agreement with farmers on emissions means some farmers are grateful for the breathing space, but for others it’s just one less thing to worry about.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the agreement with farmers last week, putting agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme from 2025 – with a 95 percent discount rate.

Ms Ardern said the plan would give farmers autonomy over their own businesses. . .

Flying under the rural radar – Colin Williscroft:

The Women of Influence Awards often recognise women who contribute a lot but are not household names and this year’s rural winner fits that description, as Colin Williscroft found out.

Environmental planner and independent Resource Management Act hearings commissioner Gina Mohi was recently named the rural winner in the Women of Influence Awards.

The judges praised Mohi’s work balancing competing tensions around the productive use of land while having appropriate measures in place to manage environmental and cultural impacts on natural resources. . .

Look ahead with farm confidence – Annette Scott:

A programme to help sheep and beef farming partners plan for their future and adapt to change will next year extend to 20 rural centres.

The two-month Future Focus business planning programme, set up in 2017, equips farming partnerships to set a future path for their businesses, develop systems to achieve goals and lead their teams to success. 

The programme, delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust to more than 130 sheep and beef farmers this year, will reach 320 farmers in 2020 with continued support from the Red Meat Profit Partnership. . .

Annual appointment for a trim but it’s no beauty treatment – Tracy Roxburgh:

Ladies, picture this if you will.

It’s been a long, cold winter and along with the extra layer of insulation you’ve acquired on your body, you’ve decided, to help keep yourself warm, to instigate a self-ban on your regular beauty therapy appointments.

But the sun actually has warmth in it now.

And very soon everyone’s going to be walking around in their next-to-nothings (undies, undies, togs, undies) so it would behove you to, well, sort yourself out.
Like, ASAP if not sooner. . .

 

North Canterbury farmer to represent New Zealand in Switzerland:

A young North Canterbury man will represent New Zealand at an international gathering of dairy farmers in Switzerland.

Robbie Wakelin, 28, has been selected to attend the 15th World Holstein Friesian Federation Conference in Montreux.

He was one of a record 17 people who were vying for the fortnight-long trip, which is being funded by Holstein Friesian NZ.

“It’s a really humbling experience to have been selected to be part of the New Zealand delegation,” he said. . .

 


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