Rural round-up

September 14, 2015

Federated Farmers welcome court ruling on genetic modified crop:

A Western Australian Court of Appeal ruling on genetically modified (GM) crop liability has been welcomed by Federated Farmers as a landmark decision which clearly sets out fundamental responsibilities of good neighbours that apply equally well in New Zealand and around the farming world.

In 2014, organic farmer Steve Marsh sued his neighbour, GM farmer Michael Baxter, for damages after sheaves of GM canola blew onto his property, resulting in his partial decertification as an organic farmer. Mr Marsh also sought a permanent injunction preventing his neighbour from growing GM crops.

At the time the case went to court, anti-GM groups, confident of a win, hailed it as potentially precedent setting. . . 

25 pieces of advice for 25 year-old farmers – Matthew Naylor:

I have been a farmer in my own right for a quarter of a century.

I know that I look unfeasibly young to make such a claim; I started work at 15 and pretty well managed to avoid higher education.

Twenty-five more years of toil and I will be looking at the age of retirement from the other side.

To commemorate this halfway milestone, I have compiled the little that I have learned over my 25 years of experience into 25 pieces of advice for 25-year-old farmers.

  1. Set a clear and simple business plan and stick to it. Tell it to anyone who will listen – your family, colleagues, customers, competitors and even the postman.
  1. Kill weeds when they are small – this rule applies to any problem you encounter in life. . . 

Street doctor tells rural people to watch their health – Jill Galloway:

A doctor who specialises in treating people in rural regions says farmers need to get their own health checked more often.

Dr Tom Mulholland talked to about 50 people at the old Parewanui school near Flock House, Bulls this week.

“Farmers are good at looking after their stock and their land, but not so good at looking after themselves and their top paddock [their heads].”

About half the group listening to him talk were men. . . 

NZ stands firm on lamb export deal:

New Zealand will not agree to a review of New Zealand’s quota of lamb exports to Europe despite pressure from British farmers, the government says.

Livestock board chairs from Britain’s farming unions, meeting in Brussels, have called for the review. They say New Zealand has moved from sending frozen lamb to chilled lamb and from carcasses to bone-in cuts, representing a substantive change to the original deal signed in the 1980s.

But Trade Minister Tim Groser points to later trade negotiations which changed that agreement. . .

Avocado congress should ‘raise industry profile‘:

The World Avocado Congress get underway in Peru today.

The congress is held every four years and New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular, who is in Peru, said it was a great opportunity to raise the profile of the industry.

Ms Scoular said the congress, which runs for a week, allows countries to share science and research information. She said tree productivity and irregular bearing of avocados would be a hot topic because it was a global issue. . . 

Whitebait, birds receive conservation boost:

Whitebait will be making a comeback into Christchurch and more will be done to protect the habitats of Canterbury’s colony-nesting river birds, says Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner.

The Community Conservation Partnership Fund is providing more than $126,000 to the Whaka Inaka project to restore whitebait habitat in Christchurch, and more than $33,000 to the Braided River Partnership project to improve the success of colony-nesting birds along Canterbury rivers.

“Whitebait spawning in Christchurch has declined, particularly after the earthquakes caused significant habitat damage. The Whaka Inaka project will provide an immediate temporary spawning habitat for whitebait along 3km of Christchurch river banks,” Ms Wagner says. . . 

A falling dollar not all bad news – Rick Powdrell:

I was just thinking lately how things can change so abruptly in a year.

Farmers are once again facing tough realities of global export trade, price volatility and geopolitical unrest.

This time, last year, dairy was buoyant with record payout and nothing looking at halting the juggernaut.  Sheep meat prices were positive for the season; beef was in the ascendancy and wool finally rebounding.

Fast forward and dairy is struggling with sheep meat failing to deliver on anticipated returns. Still, beef is extremely strong and wool has continued its gradual recovery. . .


Rural round-up

September 16, 2014

Vigilance required with Winter Brassica Feeding:

Southland farmers are being advised to keep a close watch on cows that have been grazing or are grazing on swede crops after reports of illness, and in some cases death, on dairy farms.

“The mild winter and lush growth of leaf material on brassica crops, especially swedes, has caused problems where dairy cows have been introduced onto the late winter swedes after wintering on other types of crops,” David Green, PGG Wrightson Seeds (PGW Seeds) General Manager Seeds says.

PGW Seeds is the major supplier of forage brassica products in New Zealand.

“With extra swede leaf material available due to the unusually mild winter it appears some cows have consumed more leaf and less bulb than normal. Consuming more leaf, less bulb and less supplementary feeds during wet August conditions has combined to amplify risk factors that can cause liver disease. . .

 Police say poachers putting lives at risk:

Police in Alexandra say poachers caught on private property give a range of reasons for their offending, but many fail to realise they are putting lives at risk.

Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said poaching was widespread in the lower half of the South Island, where there were large areas of farms and forests, and plenty of people who were interested in hunting.

Mr Kerrisk estimates they receive a call from a forestry worker or farmer once a week with concerns about poachers and have recently prosecuted four people for poaching.

He said it was not easy to say why people poach animals.

“Some of them have said that they hunt because they enjoy hunting, it’s a recreational thing for them, some people have said they believe they have the right to go hunting in the bush, some people have said they need food.”

Mr Kerrisk said the concern is that they are hunting on private property without permission. . .

Protein found on sheep’s back – Nevil Gibson:

University of Otago researchers have won $1 million in government funding for a two-year project that will extract food-safe digestible protein from natural wool. 

Sheep wool is 95% protein with no fat or carbohydrates. This makes it an extremely rich protein source but until now it has been difficult to access, says Associate Professor George Dias.

“Wool-derived protein (WDP) offers an exciting opportunity to add value to New Zealand’s low-valued medium to coarse wool clip,” he says. “WDP can be produced at less than $10 a kilogram, making it extremely cost competitive relative to the gold standard whey protein isolate at $25/kg.”  . . .

$90,000 for kea conservation:

The Government is providing $90,000 from the Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the Kea Conservation Trust, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“The kea is the only alpine parrot in the world and a species endemic to our Southern Alps. The population of these inquisitive and nomadic birds is declining and it is estimated that fewer than 5000 remain. The tragedy of the kea is that over 150,000 birds were killed deliberately when there was a bounty on them for the perceived damage they caused to sheep. More recently, the biggest threat to kea survival is from pests – principally rats, stoats and possums,” Dr Smith says. . .

35-year affair with eucalypts – Alison Beckham:

Thirty-five years ago, Dipton sheep farmer Graham Milligan decided to plant a few eucalypt trees on stony ground next to the Oreti River, where his paddocks seemed to be always either flooded or burnt off.

Now he farms more trees than sheep – raising seedlings and exporting cool climate eucalypt seed all over the world. Reporter AllisonBeckham visited the man who says he loves trees so much he feels like every day on the job is a holiday.35-year affair with eucalypts

At first glance, the eucalpyt trees on Graham and Heather Milligan’s farm look similar. But as we bounce along the farm track Mr Milligan points out different varieties.

There are towering regnans grown for their timber, and nitens, now the world’s most favoured wood for biomass heating fuel. There’s baby blue, whose foliage is sought after by florists, and crenulata, with its delicate star-shaped buds, also popular at the flower markets. . . .

Farm Environment Awards Help Hort Newbies Climb Steep Learning Curve:

Horticultural newcomers Patrick and Rebecca Malley say entering the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way to build knowledge.

In 2011 the couple left jobs in Auckland to run Ararimu Orchard with Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi. Situated at Maungatapere near Whangarei, Ararimu grows 14ha of kiwifruit and 3.5ha of avocados.

While Patrick grew up on an apple orchard in the Hawke’s Bay, he and Rebecca knew very little about growing kiwifruit when they first arrived. So the learning curve was steep.

Rebecca says they decided to enter the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) after talking to other people who had been involved in the competition. . . .

Water NZ Annual Conference 17 – 19 September:

Implementing Reform

Water New Zealand’s annual conference is being held this week against a backdrop of the General Election.

“Our members are pleased that political parties have released policies on improving the management of freshwater as declining water quality is consistently rated by New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern,” Murray Gibb, chief executive of Water New Zealand said.

“It is also pleasing to see the early results of the work that Water New Zealand has been closely involved with over the past five years through the Land and Water Forum and other initiatives.”

Therefore the theme of “Implementing Reform” is appropriate at the conference being held at Hamilton’s Claudelands convention this week over 17 – 19 September. . .


Rural round-up

August 28, 2014

Fonterra to offer at least 20% premium for Beingmate shares in deal to drive Anmum sales – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will offer a premium of at least 20 percent for a one-fifth stake in Beingmate Baby & Child Food as part of a $615 million investment in a partnership to drive baby food sales into China.

Fonterra will offer 18 yuan a share for Beingmate stock in a partial tender offer that will be supported by chairman Wang Zhentai, who will sell down his stake to about 33 percent in the transaction.

Based on Reuters data, Beingmate has 1.02 billion shares on issue, suggesting the offer values the Chinese company at 18,360 billion yuan and Fonterra would pay 3.67 billion yuan, or NZ$714 million to build a 20 percent stake. The shares last traded at 14.36 yuan before being halted from trading, according to Reuters data. . . .

New Zealand And International Investment Welcomed by Farmers:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said today’s announced investments in New Zealand’s milk pools and a global partnership with China’s Beingmate were bold moves that would be welcomed by the Co-operative’s Farmers.

Mr Brown: “There is a direct link between the $555 million investment in the Lichfield and Edendale sites and the $615 million investment in the partnership with Beingmate in that both align with the Fonterra strategy of increasing the volume and value of our milk.

“The investment in New Zealand operations is a real positive and will optimise the Milk Price we receive by enabling our Co-op greater flexibility in deciding which products our milk goes into and when. . . .

 Fonterra news ‘as far from milk & disaster as the moon’:

Farmers will be breathing a huge sigh of relief with Fonterra’s benchmark forecast payout for 2014/15 being held at $6 per kilogram of Milk Solids (kg/MS), while other aspects of the announcement are a great boost of confidence in New Zealand agribusiness.

“This is as far from milk and disaster as the moon is,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“While this season remains a super trim one last season was definitely a silver top one.

“The milk price hold is good news given there’s been widespread speculation about it sliding below the $6 mark, however, we’re not out of the woods yet. We still advise farmers to err on the side of caution by budgeting in the mid-$5 payout range. . .

Major boost for Otago conservation projects:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced $475,000 in funding for four Otago conservation projects.

Community Conservation Partnership Fund grants will be made to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Landscape Connections Trust, Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group, and Herbert Heritage Group.

“The projects these groups are advancing align perfectly with the Department of Conservation’s goals of connecting more urban dwellers to conservation and working in partnership with others.

“The Orokonui Ecosanctuary is recognised as the flagship biodiversity project in the South Island and is achieving its aim of restoring the coastal ecosystem to pre-human state. . .

The long arm of health and safety gets longer – Andrew McGiven:

We’ve all heard about the Marlborough farmworker copping $15,000 worth of fines related to a quad bike.  Helmet use is in the Department of Labour’s (now Worksafe NZ) ‘Guidelines for the safe use of quad bikes.’  . 

While there’s been plenty of discussion about the fine what has slipped under the radar are other recommendations in the guide.  One is recognising dangerous areas on-farm and establishing ‘no-go’ zones in your health and safety plans. 

Another case, highlighted for us by Neil Beadle, a Partner at Federated Farmers’ legal advisors DLA Phillips Fox, rams home the bite of these recommended ‘no-go’ zones.  It involved a Mangakino sharemilker with an otherwise good record who tragically lost a farm worker when their quad bike flipped.  . . .

Beet crop ‘revolution for beef farmers’:

The growth in the use of fodder beet as a forage crop in the beef industry has been so rapid, that seed supplies for the coming growing season are expected to run out.

That is the prediction from Dr Jim Gibbs, a senior lecturer in livestock health and production at Lincoln University, who has done years of research on feeding cattle on what has become a revolutionary crop in this country.

Fodder beet is a bulb crop related to beetroot but can grow to huge sizes.

Dr Gibbs’ work was initially for the dairy industry, but the demand for fodder beet really exploded when he introduced it to the beef industry, and he says it has become the fastest growing forage crop by a long shot. . . .


Rural round-up

April 1, 2014

Venison industry at the crossroads – Keith Woodford:

In recent years the venison industry has gone backwards. Total farmed deer numbers declined from about 1.8 million in 2005 to 1.1 million in 2011. The most recent 2013 annual slaughter statistics show that 53% of slaughtered animals were females. This is a sure sign of ongoing retreat. So what has gone wrong and what can be fixed?

Back in the 1980s, AgResearch data from Invermay Research Station suggested that red deer were more efficient at converting grass to meat than non-deer species. We now know that on an overall farm system basis that notion was wrong.

The female deer reproductive system has been designed by nature to only produce one progeny per year. This productive disadvantage would not matter too much if the price premium was large, and for a long time this was the case. . . .

New conservation fund announced:

A Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the work of voluntary organisations undertaking natural heritage and recreation projects was launched today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at the opening of the new Hoddy Estuary Park in Nelson.

“Thousands of New Zealanders contribute to conservation by building tracks, controlling pests, planting trees, and restoring native wildlife. This new fund is about the Government providing finance for the plants, traps, poisons, equipment and coordination to support this voluntary work,” Dr Smith says.

The new fund of $26 million over the next four years is to be distributed to community organisations in an annual contestable funding round of between $6 million and $7 million a year. Projects may be funded over multiple years, reflecting the time it takes to complete projects of this sort. . .

Chatham Rock, would-be seabed phosphate miner, files second EEZ marine consent application:

(BusinessDesk) – Chatham Rock Phosphate, which wants to mine phosphate nodules from the seafloor on the Chatham Rise, has submitted a draft marine consent application to the Environmental Protection Authority.

The application is the second to be submitted under new EEZ legislation. TransTasman Resources, which wants to hoover ironsands off the seafloor more than 20 kilometres off the coast from Patea is currently going through the first ever hearings under the new regime.

CRP’s application comes after more than four years’ work and $25 million of investment in environmental impact assessments, market evaluation, and development of relationships with mining partners, most notably Dutch dredging firm Royal Boskalis. . .

Investment over decade shows merit of ewe’s milk – Alison Rudd:

A decade ago, Southland businessman Keith Neylon did not know the first thing about sheep’s milk.

Now his company, Blue River Dairy, milks more than 10,000 ewes daily; runs a factory turning out butter, five cheese varieties, ice cream and milk powder; exports products to seven countries; and has just launched sheep’s milk infant formula on the New Zealand and Chinese markets.

Reporter Allison Rudd spoke to the agricultural innovator.

Keith Neylon nurses a cup of coffee in the cafe and tasting room at the Blue River Dairy factory, formerly the Invercargill town milk supply plant. He’s in the middle of an interview, but he still has his eye on his customers. . .

Pilot training course in deer handling to start :

A training course in how to manage and handle farmed deer has been developed, with a pilot run starting in Southland next month.

For several years, training opportunities had been very limited so a 12-month level 3 training course had been developed to ”fill the gap”, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) producer manager Tony Pearse said.

A pilot block course is being held at Netherdale deer stud at Balfour on April 9, followed by one in South Canterbury in the spring. After that course ended, there would be courses in the North and South Islands in response to a hopefully increasing demand, Mr Pearse said. . .

Fake products risk NZ honey exports:

A Waikato University scientist says there is a risk that fraudulent products will wreck the international reputation of New Zealand honey exports.

Associate Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris says it is extremely urgent that New Zealand sets up standardised labelling of honey, especially the lucrative manuka variety.

New Zealand produced more than 16,000 tonnes of honey in 2012 and 2013 and in 2012 honey exports were worth $120 million with manuka honey making up about 90 per centof that.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has formed two working groups to come up with a robust labelling guideline for manuka honey – one made up of scientists and one from the industry. . .

 


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