Rural round-up

21/04/2022

Entrepreneurial trio create fibre blend – Sally Rae:

What do you get when you combine the skills of a high-country merino farmer with a West Coast dairy farmer and throw a sales manager into the mix?

The answer is Hemprino, New Zealand’s latest fashion label which combines the properties of hemp and merino in a single blend.

It is the brainchild of Siobhan O’Malley, Paul Ensor and Harriet Bell, who met on the Kellogg rural leadership course in 2018 and have a desire to reduce the environmental footprint caused by fast fashion.

As landfills fill with plastic-based clothing, the trio — who were newcomers to the fashion industry — are using natural fibres that are biodegradable at the end of the garment’s life. . . 

Ruling to halt irrigation hit farmers hard, reduced trust – Ben Tomsett:

A Southland farmer has said the trust factor between the rural community and Environment Southland has been damaged in the wake of the unprecedented decision to halt irrigation in the region.

The water direction, which banned irrigation in much of the province, ended last week. It came about as a result of a very dry summer where rivers and aquifers were at lower levels than anything previously recorded.

Southland farmer Jason Herrick, who is also the head of Federated Farmers sharemilker section in the province, said the direction halting irrigation was ill thought out and a reaction to public sentiment rather than science.

“It made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the river levels because the people that were attached to the rivers were already shut off with their consent conditions because the river levels were too low,” he said. . . 

 

When food is your medicine – scientists seek further proof of the healing power of mānuka honey :

Comvita has formed a new scientific partnership with the University of Otago to understand how mānuka honey helps support digestive health | Content partnership

Comvita, New Zealand’s pioneering mānuka honey brand and global market leader have formed a new scientific partnership with the University of Otago’s departments of Medicine and Human Nutrition to understand how mānuka honey helps support digestive health. 

The partnership will conduct groundbreaking research through a $1.3 million clinical trial to investigate the potential of mānuka honey to improve symptoms and quality of life in people suffering from gastrointestinal inflammation and pain related to digestive disorders.  

The programme is supported by the High-Value Nutrition (HVN) Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge, a Government initiative “to develop high-value foods with validated health benefits to drive economic growth”. . . 

Waikato growers urged to watch out for fall armyworm caterpillars :

New infestations of a crop-killing moth could cost New Zealand farmers tens of millions of dollars if populations survive winter.

The fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda is the name for the pest’s larvae.

Eggs were found in suburban Tauranga in surveillance traps last month and caterpillars have now been found on two farms in Tamahere, just south of Hamilton.

The armyworm has destroyed maize and sweetcorn plants in Africa, the United States and Australia. . . 

Medicinal cannabis just the beginning for Rua Bioscience :

East Coast-based medicinal cannabis firm Rua Bioscience says it has plenty of other products in the works, after launching its first medicine in New Zealand.

Sales from the medicinal cannabis product, which is available via prescription, will be the first revenue for the business since it listed on the stock market in 2020.

Rua Bioscience is one of two firms manufacturing cannabis products that have met quality standards set by the Medicinal Cannabis Agency.

The company was prohibited from revealing what the product was under medical law and was coy about how much revenue it expects to generate from it but said that it could be used to treat people with acute pain, anxiety or juvenile epilepsy. . . 

Robots bring flexibility to Kaukapkapa waterfront farm :

Technology has turned a North Auckland dairy farm into a lifestyle and investment opportunity for anyone wanting to participate in the dairy industry, without the twice a day commitment in the dairy shed.

Bayleys Country Property Specialist John Barnett is marketing a 179ha dairy unit at Kaukapakapa that features four robotic Lely Astronaut milking machines, which operate 24/7 to milk the farm’s 200 cow herd.

He says the installation of the robotic system by the owners several years ago continues to deliver on its promise of a more flexible farming operation, happy cows, and better use of the owners’ time.

“You can avoid the tie of early morning and afternoon milkings, with a system that is very ‘cow-centric’. Each cow sets her own time for when she wants to be milked, coming into the dairy, and having her milking and production all recorded by the robotic system.” . . 


Rural round-up

31/03/2022

Practical and powerful resources growing great workplaces in food & fibre sectors :

Farmer Hamish Murray knows first-hand what it feels like to be short of the resources needed to create a great workplace. In 2014/2015, he and his family’s high-country sheep and beef farm suffered from one of Marlborough’s toughest droughts.

“My cup was empty; I had nothing left to give. When I reached emotional breaking point, it was obvious that to be successful at leading others, I needed to look at myself first. Soft skills aren’t a typical priority on-farm, but they matter the most if you want to attract, train and retain the best team.”

Hamish embarked on a series of coaching courses, mentoring and a Nuffield scholarship. Empowered by his new-found skills and knowledge, he then shared what he had learnt with his team.

“I worked out what I can control or change, and what I can’t. I learnt how to ask better and more open questions. We created a team, not a hierarchy. Accessing some very practical and powerful resources, improved my wellbeing, grew our staff’s self-awareness, and made our family business a better place to work.” . . 

Farmers stressed as Southland’s ‘green drought’ unlikely to break soon – Rachael Kelly:

John Smart looks out the window in the morning, sees the clear blue sky, and thinks it is going to be ‘’another crap day”.

He says he has never seen conditions so dry in his 30 years of farming in Southland, and he is worried that if rain does not fall soon, farmers are going to move from being ‘’stressed to really struggling’’.

“I’ve seen it dry before, but this is different. There’s no wind drying anything, and it’s staying warm even late into the evening.’’

Only 6mm of rain has fallen this month on the farm he is managing just outside Invercargill. . . 

Lack of staff, bad weather and Covid-19 creating challenges for wine harvest – Piers Fuller:

Ripe grapes don’t like the rain, and east coast vineyards are doing their best to get their harvests in before bacteria and mould takes hold.

After a hot summer the grape crops were in great shape, but heavy rains in February and March, and labour shortages are causing headaches for some wineries, particularly in Wairarapa.

Pip Goodwin of Martinborough’s Palliser Estate said it was “all hands to the deck” as they rushed to get their harvest in this year before the grapes were too “compromised”.

“It was a very challenging harvest. The fruit got a little bit compromised by the rain, and then we had no pickers.” . .

Race to beat ute tax – Neal Wallace:

Attempts to beat the ute tax, which comes into force on April 1, have been hampered by supply issues delays.

Vehicle retailers reported exceptional interest as potential purchasers try to beat the levy and replace their utilities, but supply issues have caused delivery delays of up to six months for some models.

The Clean Vehicle Act imposes a levy on high carbon-emitting vehicles, with the money used to rebate or subsidise the purchase cost of new electric vehicles (EVs).

Implementation has already been delayed from January 1 due to covid. . . 

Hunters advised not to release deer into new regions :

Ahead of the hunting season kicking off in earnest, OSPRI and farmers are asking hunters to think again if they are considering illegally releasing and relocating deer into new areas.

Deer hunters can unintentionally spread bovine TB by moving/releasing deer from one area to another area. Over the years OSPRI has worked hard to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand. This work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected deer with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population.

Waikato farmer Leith Chick says Sika deer from the Central North Island in particular, pose a threat of infecting others if they are released in TB free areas.

“Farmers who are getting deer released onto their land should be aware that they are exposing themselves to the risk of bringing TB to their farm,” says Leith. . . 

Comvita partners with Save the Kiwi to help safeguard taonga species :

Comvita has partnered with conservation organisation, Save the Kiwi, in a significant sponsorship agreement that will ultimately provide more safe habitat for the iconic birds across the North Island.

Starting with Makino Station, home to one of Comvita’s mānuka forests in the lush Manawatu-Whanganui region where kiwi already reside, the ambition is that over time Comvita’s properties will become kiwi-safe habitats.

The partnership will see the implementation of predator management plans on land managed by Comvita that will enhance biodiversity and provide kiwi safe habitats to help the endangered population and other native flora and fauna thrive.

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says partnering with Comvita is a new and exciting approach for kiwi conservation. . . 

 


Rural round-up

09/03/2022

Oil and wheat price surges likely to hit consumers – Andrew Patterson:

Business and investing: Further sanctions on Russia remain a possibility and if bans on Russian oil are enacted, international crude prices could skyrocket to US$150 per barrel.

Brent Crude oil futures surged to a new 10-year high of US$118 a barrel, a jump of 20 percent for the week, as investors endured another rollercoaster week of markets lurching wildly in response to the news from Ukraine after Russia’s military intensification.

After Russia’s latest offensive and the potential for a prolonged conflict, analysts aren’t ruling out the possibility oil could reach upwards of US$150 a barrel in the coming weeks.

To date, the United States and the European Union have been reluctant to slap sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas exports following concerns about the repercussions such a move would have on Europe’s energy supply and already skyrocketing oil and gasoline prices. However, potential sanctions remain a possibility and if bans on Russian oil are enacted, international crude prices could skyrocket to US$150 per barrel according to analysts. . .

Honey company joins efforts to cull wasps :

Honey company Comvita has joined efforts to cull the numbers of wasps across the country.

Introduced German and common wasps are a damaging pest, invading beehives and eating insects – reducing the amount of food for native birds.

A Department of Conservation programme, Wasp Wipeout, raises funds for bait stations used to control populations.

Comvita head of industry affairs Tony Wright said increasing numbers of wasps led the company to get involved. . .

RWNZ marks International Women’s Day:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is marking International Women’s Day by reminding the rural sector why the day is important.

“By measuring progress and highlighting the work still to be done, we can ensure that we keep moving forward in addressing inequities faced by girls and women around the world,” says RWNZ president Gill Naylor.

She says the primary industry has typically been seen as a man’s world where women remain hidden as an invisible partner or in a support role where they are perceived as providing less value.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, she says.

Reliance on demotic market continues for feijoa growers :

Feijoa season has got underway and high freight costs means orchardists are focused selling their produce to the domestic market.

The first of this season’s fruit is landing on many supermarket’s shelves this week after picking of early varities kicked off late last month.

Kaiponi Farms in Gisborne is New Zealand’s largest feijoa grower and packer and expected volumes similar to be similar to last season.

Sales lead Olivia Abernethy said the growing season had been fantastic, with lots of hot days but also plenty of rainfall leading to some great sized fruit. . . 

Farming awards build networks and appreciation for the sector:

Ravesndown spoke with shareholder and FMG Young Farmer of the Year competitor Reuben Connolly ahead of the Waikato BOP finals last weekend.

Reuben came 4th in Saturday’s competition but was eager to speak to the benefits of competing in farm awards and the things which keep his young family motivated to grow in the industry.

You can catch what he had to share below:

Building lasting relationships and the farming lifestyle are two of the big reasons Reuben Connolly wants to stay in the farming sector. .

Ukraine Ag Minister: dairy farmers will fight for their farms – Tom Venesky:

One week after Russia launched a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations estimates that more than one million people have fled the Eastern European country.

As the war continues to escalate after the Feb. 24 attack, one segment of the Ukrainian population has found that the decision to flee isn’t that easy.

Despite the dangers posed by constant shelling and destruction, the country’s dairy farmers have largely remained on their farms and the threat of a Russian attack isn’t enough to sway them to leave, according to Taras Vysotsky, deputy minister for development of economy, trade and agriculture of Ukraine.

“In most cases, they’re on the farms. Only a few have been abandoned so far,” Vysotsky said during a phone interview with Lancaster Farming. “They’re staying on their farms. They’re going to protect it. They will fight for their farms and their animals to the end.” . . 


Rural round-up

25/02/2022

Forestry rule changes for overseas investors planning to convert farmland – Maja Burry:

The government is winding back rules which have made it easier for foreign investors to purchase farmland in New Zealand for forestry conversions.

The special forestry test is used when an investor is looking to invest in production forestry for harvesting.

It was introduced in late 2018 in a bid to support the government’s forestry priorities, including more tree planting.

Farming groups have repeatedly called on the government to urgently review foreign investment in forestry, warning too much productive farmland was being lost . .

Passion fruit growers lose up to 80% of crop to Fasarium disease – Sally Murphy:

Some of the country’s passion fruit growers have lost up to 80 percent of their crop due to a plant disease.

Fasarium – also known as passion fruit wilt – is a fungus that infects the plant through the roots, travels up the plant stem and cause the leaves to yellow, killing the plant.

NZ Passion fruit Growers Association president Rebekah Vlaanderen said the disease had been more prevalent in the last two years due to warmer weather.

“It was first discovered here in 2015 but we think it’s probably always been here, it’s pretty common overseas,” Vlaanderen said. . . 

TEG wins Gold Award for  project to keep meat processing industry safe :

Workers at some of Aotearoa’s largest meat processing plants are feeling safer at work thanks to a large-scale project by TEG Risk and Sustainability Services that has won Gold at the ACE Awards Tuesday 22 February.

TEG was employed by ANZCO Foods, Bremworth, Sanford, and Alliance Group to identify risks at their seven plants across the country to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

One of the biggest meat processors in the country with 2,800 machines and 5,000 employees, Alliance Group needed a pragmatic and risk-effective approach. TEG worked on a massive scale to identify nearly 7,000 risks. . . 

Record first half earnings at Comvita:

§ Record H1 operating profit $7.2m, +39.4% versus PCP (+2.0m)

§ Record H1 EBITDA $12.1m, +14.1% versus PCP (+$1.5m)

Double digit top and bottom-line growth in focus growth markets, China and North America

Double digit top and bottom-line growth in Mānuka honey product category . . 

Wireless providers ready to speed up rural broadband:

New Zealand’s wireless internet service providers are gearing up to take part in a major upgrade to benefit New Zealand’s rural Internet users.

$47 million dollars is going to be spent to upgrade New Zealand’s rural broadband capacity with the goal of increasing the internet speed of 47,000 rural households and businesses by the end of 2024.

The Minister for the Digital Economy, David Clark, made the announcement yesterday, saying the Rural Capacity Upgrade will see cell towers upgraded and new towers built in rural areas experiencing poor performance, as well as fibre, additional VDSL coverage and other wireless technology deployed in congested areas.

Mike Smith, the head of WISPA NZ, the group representing more than 30 wireless internet service providers around New Zealand, says this is a great step up for many rural households. . . 

The hidden life of a farmer: playful cows, imperious sheep – and a grinding struggle for survival – Sirin Kale:

The UK has some of the cheapest food in the world, but thanks to spiralling costs and the effects of Brexit, farmers like Rachel Hallos are on the edge. She explains why she could soon lose the way of life she loves – and her family depends on.

The stereotype is that farmers are up with the crowing cockerel, but that’s only really dairy farmers. Most days it is not until 7.45am that you’ll find Rachel Hallos swinging open the door of Beeston Hall Farm in Ripponden, Yorkshire. Beeston Hall is a hill farm overlooking Baitings reservoir, which lies in the valley of the River Ryburn. The 800-hectare (2,000-acre) farm consists of steep fields demarcated by dry stone walls that crumble in a squall. The hill is crested by heather-covered moorland that turns purple in summer and copper in autumn. Hallos lives in a traditional Pennines farmhouse made out of handsome slabs of grey Yorkshire gritstone. A Brontë house, for Brontë country. Inside, wan light streams through single-pane windows on to a well-trodden oak staircase that creaks.

Hallos steps outside, dressed in a padded waterproof coat and wellies. She is met by a cacophony of noise. Her terrier Jack yaps with shrill urgency. Jim, a border collie, barks incessantly. Hallos feeds the dogs and then the two scrawny black-and-white cats, which sleep in the outbuildings and yowl for treats at the kitchen window. She fills a sack with hay that is sweet-smelling and almost yeasty, from the fermentation process that takes place when it is stored in plastic for the winter months. She hoists the sack on to her shoulder like Father Christmas and takes it to feed Aiden and Danny, her dun geldings.

It is late October 2021. Autumn is Hallos’s favourite season. The trees around the reservoir are gold-flecked, ochre and vermilion. Her herd of 200 cows and calves and flock of 400 sheep are out in the fields. The cows will return when the frost sets in; the sheep stay out all winter. Hallos usually feels a sense of quiet satisfaction this time of year. The autumn calves are grazing beside their mothers in the fields. The sheds have been power-hosed and disinfected, ready for winter. There’s a bit of breathing room, after the rigours of summer: the never-ending hay baling and attending to the newborn calves and lambs. In autumn, Hallos can start to plan for the spring calves and lambs. Which tup will go with which sheep, and which bull with which cow? . . 


Rural round-up

10/02/2022

Covid-19: Some farmers with Covid-19 may be allowed to keep working – Minister :

Farmers who test positive for Covid-19 may be able to continue working if they’re vaccinated and not in contact with others, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The government is giving $400,000 to rural support trusts and other agencies to help farmers and growers prepare a contingency plan as Omicron reaches further into the community.

It is urging farmers, growers and lifestyle block owners to have a plan for who will help run their farm or feed livestock at short notice in the event they test positive for Covid-19.

People who test positive are required to self-isolate for at least 14 days and be symptom-free for 72 hours. . . 

Country of origin labelling soon to be mandatory for fresh and thawed foods:

New regulations taking effect this weekend will give consumers more information about where their food comes from.

From 12 February 2022, businesses must comply with the new Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations that apply to certain fresh and thawed foods: fruit, vegetables, finfish, shellfish, and cured pork such as ham, bacon, and prosciutto. If these foods are frozen, they must state the country of origin from 12 May 2023.

“Mandatory country of origin information will let consumers know where certain food comes from, and help them make informed decisions when they are buying these products,” said General Manager Fair Trading Vanessa Horne.

Foods covered by the Regulations will need to state the country of origin on the packaging or on a sign nearby. . . 

Tribunal win for Gisborne kiwifruit growers – Matthew Rosenberg,:

Kiwifruit growers have won their battle against Gisborne District Council over new rate hikes from producing the golden variety of the fruit.:

In December 2020, authorities in Gisborne decided licences to grow gold kiwifruit – which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare – constitute an increase in value to the land, warranting a rates increase.

Gisborne was the first region to adjust land valuation for growers of the golden variety based on the value of the growing licence.

But the decision received backlash from the industry, with NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) bringing a judicial review proceeding to the High Court, supporting an objection grower Tim Tietjen had before the Land Valuation Tribunal. . . 

How Comvita went form two to 200 staff in China – Nikki Mandow:

Our biggest mānuka honey company has had a presence in China for almost 20 years. Its experience offers a fascinating insight into selling health and food products in this vast, varied, and rapidly-changing market.  |  Content partnership

In the late 1990s, a health-conscious Chinese businessman called Zhu Guangping was on holiday in Hong Kong and browsing through a pharmacy when he discovered a New Zealand bee product brand he liked.

Comvita was finding a growing clientele among Chinese tourists who bought their mānuka honey, propolis and other bee products in Hong Kong and later, as China’s outgoing travel restrictions relaxed, in New Zealand.

They bought for themselves, for family and friends, even to sell when they got home – an early manifestation of what would become the multi-billion dollar ‘daigou’ personal shopper revolution. . .

FMG Young Farmer finals set to kick off under red light :

Excitement is building for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series Regional Finals, kicking off this Saturday in Waimumu.

The Otago Southland Contest Series Regional Final is going ahead under the red light Covid Protection Framework with a 100-person limit and My Vaccine Pass requirements.

New Zealand Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says it’s exciting to be able to continue to host events with clear Government guidelines in place.

“Over the last two years the Contest Series has been seriously impacted by COVID, but our teams have done an amazing job of pivoting with different alert levels, restrictions and all the different scenarios that have arisen,” she said. . .

Where are the milk buyers? ask dairy farmers of Ganderbal in Kashmir – Mubashir Naikrshad Hussain:

On learning that hundreds of litres of milk were not being bought by dealers in Kashmir’s Srinagar City, the dairy farmers in Ganderbal district emptied their cans of milk in drains, as a mark of protest, on Saturday, 31 January.

The dairy farmers of Lar area in the Ganderbal district are worried about losing their decade-old job, on which their entire livelihood is dependent.

My friend and I travelled to Lar in Ganderbal district and spoke to the people involved in the business.

Zamrooda Banu, 34, a dairy farmer from Repora in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district sold her gold bangles and other belongings to buy 20 cows. She hoped it would help her family. . . 


Rural round-up

21/01/2022

NIWA predicts drought for top and bottom of the country – Tom Kitchin:

Parts of Aotearoa may have to prepare for a third consecutive year in drought.

Although spring rain may be keeping some hopeful, it is getting dry rapidly, with many farmers seeing their land dry out before their eyes in recent weeks.

The driest parts of the country are at opposite ends – Northland and Southland.

NIWA’s drought index is rating one part of Southland, dry, another very dry and a small part south east of Invercargill extremely dry. . . 

Low methane livestock a reality :

AgResearch scientists’ work to successfully breed low methane emitting sheep has the potential to help all NZ livestock farmers lower their carbon footprint.

The ground-breaking research took out the 2021 Supreme Award at the Science New Zealand Awards.

Backed by the industry through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) and the Government – via the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) – the AgResearch team spent over a decade working on the science.

They were able to identify genetic differences which influences how much methane an individual sheep produces. Methane is a relatively short-lived but potent greenhouse gas. . . 

Annual food price increase the highest in a decade :

Annual food prices were 4.5 percent higher in December 2021 than they were in December 2020, Stats NZ said today.

This is the biggest annual increase since September 2011, when annual food prices increased 4.7 percent.

The main contributor to this increase was higher prices for tomatoes.

Tomatoes nearly doubled in price between December 2020 and December 2021, increasing 99 percent. . . 

Rabobank appoints new head of food and agri research for New Zealand & Australia :

Rabobank has announced the appointment of Stefan Vogel as General Manager of its food and agribusiness research division in New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Vogel takes on the role after more than seven years with Rabobank in London, where he held two concurrent global positions with the bank – Head of Agri Commodity Markets Research and Global Grains and Oilseeds Sector Strategist.

In his new position, based in Sydney, Mr Vogel leads the New Zealand and Australian arm of the agribusiness bank’s highly-regarded global food and agricultural research division, RaboResearch.

In New Zealand and Australia, RaboResearch comprises a team of 10 specialist agri commodities analysts, who are part of a network of 75 research analysts worldwide focussed on providing comprehensive, leading-edge food and agribusiness research for the bank’s clients. . . 

Landmark Agreement Paves Way For NZ Grown Cannabis Medicines :

New Zealand’s two largest medicinal cannabis companies have signed a supply contract that will provide Kiwis further access to locally made medicines and pave the way for international export success. 

The five year multi-million-dollar deal between Marlborough-based cultivator Puro and Auckland-based Helius Therapeutics is New Zealand’s largest to date.

Under the partnership, Puro will supply over 10 tonnes of organic medicinal cannabis to Helius over the next five years, the equivalent of approximately five shipping containers of dried cannabis flower. . .

Comvita and Microsoft collaboration brings magic of the hive to utilising Hololens technology :

Comvita, global leader in Mānuka honey, has today announced a new collaboration with Microsoft, with the creation of an immersive multi-sensory consumer experience powered by Microsoft’s HoloLens technology.

Set to launch to consumers in January 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai, the experience represents the next step in Comvita’s mission to transform the consumer retail experience, following the opening of its award winning multi-sensory space, The Wellness Lab, in Auckland earlier this year.

With its application of Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, Comvita has transported the Wellness Lab’s 180-degree theatre experience into the fully mobile headset, enabling it to connect consumers anywhere in the world to the unique benefits of Mānuka honey and the magic of bees and nature. . . 


Rural round-up

13/01/2022

Fruitful days lie ahead, say North Otago growers – Ashley Smyth:

Fruitgrowers in North Otago are looking forward to a bumper crop this season.

Matsinger’s Berry Farm owner Leanne Matsinger said the season had been going very well, and the strawberries were “massive and beautiful”.

The Peebles business, about 15km inland from Oamaru towards the Waitaki Valley, had about 50,000 plants in the ground, and another 20,000 growing hydroponically. There was also 1ha of raspberries.

Far from being a burden, the wet weather had meant the fruit was big and juicy, Mrs Matsinger said. . .

Primary industry leaders call for Gen Z to secure the future of the sector :

New Zealand’s food and fibre sector is working hard to secure the future of the primary industries by trying to attract more young people to choose a career in the sector.

The key to attracting Generation Z, loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010, to the sector is raising awareness of opportunities and the range of roles available in the industry, experts say.

Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar Madison Pannett, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries as a senior adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team, released a report on this subject called Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

She says: “I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join. . . 

AACo partners with The Zanda McDonald Award to support future leaders in agriculture:

The new year is off to a great start for The Zanda McDonald Award, with the announcement that Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) have come on board as a partner for the trans-Tasman agricultural badge of honour.

AACo, Australia’s largest integrated cattle and beef producer, owns and operates stations, feedlots and farms comprising around 6.4 million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Managing Director and CEO Hugh Killen says the company can play a role in helping develop the next generation of industry leaders.

“AACo has been helping grow agriculture in Australia for almost 200 years and our association with the Zanda McDonald Award continues this legacy,” Mr Killen said. . . 

Comvita’s 50-year history: hippies, health and harmony :

Almost 50 years ago, 20-something hippie surfer Alan Bougen teamed up with 60-something beekeeper Claude Stratford to set up a health food company, based mostly around bee products. They called it Comvita. In the fourth in a series, Newsroom talks to Bougen about a small business which turned into our largest mānuka honey producer  

It all started with a mutual goal to improve people’s health, while leaving the environment better than they found it – and in that the Comvita founders were ahead of their time as sustainable thinkers. Stratford and Bougen were also leaders in the drive to validate mānuka honey’s unique health-giving properties and then share its magic with the world.

Claude Stratford died in 2013 at the age of 102; his longevity a testament to the founders’ shared Hippocratic belief that food is medicine and medicine is food. Now aged 71, and about to walk the Heaphy Track, Alan Bougen has new insights on old lessons learned over half a century in the business.

Hippie roots

“The natural food and products industry in 1970-1971 was where I dropped into the lifestyle of health and wellness, the ‘health food revolution’ as it was known,” Bougen says. He’s at home in Mt Maunganui, reminiscing about his early days in San Diego in true bohemian style. . . 

Five months on the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist Of The Year national final set to go ahead:

It may be five months later than planned, but it’s on! Due to the sudden and extended Delta lockdown the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition, just one week away from taking place in August, is set to finally go ahead on Thursday 27th January 2022.

It will take place at Indevin’s Bankhouse Vineyard in Marlborough and the national winner will be announced at the Awards Dinner the same night.

“We’re excited and relieved that we can finally go ahead with the competition” says Nicky Grandorge, the National Co-Ordinator “The flexibility of everyone involved has been incredible and shows the strength, resilience and passion of the Young Vit community.”

The national finalists have been in limbo for quite some time, although they were able to hand in their research reports and give their presentations online which relieved them of some pressure. The topic for this year’s project was “Assess various pruning options during a labour shortage”, thus addressing one of the real challenges currently facing the wine industry. . . 

Pending irrigation scheme water access set to add balue to livestock grazing blocks on the market for sale:

Two blocks of livestock grazing pastureland – with the potential to have access to a substantial sustainable water supply enabling conversion of the property into highly productive horticultural land – have been placed on the market for sale.

The 33.41-hectare property in two titles at Te Kopuru on the Poutu Peninsula is just south of Dargaville in Northland.

The pair of freehold lots 2 and 18 at Redhill Cemetery Road in Te Kopuru are now being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Whangarei, with the tender process closing on February 3. Salespeople Vinni Bhula and Todd Skudder said buyers had the opportunity tender for either of the blocks individually, or as a combined offering.

Lot 2 comprises 16.05-hectares, while adjoining lot 18 consists of 17.36-hectares. Both lots are classified as featuring flat to gently rolling topographic contours. . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2021

Women forge farming futures together – Sally Rae:

A farm training institute with a difference opened its gates in Northern Southland at the beginning of this year. Business and rural editor Sally Rae checks out how the first year of the Fairlight Foundation went.

For the past year, Emma Foss, Yvonne van Baarle and Ella Eades have lived, worked and learned together.

Now they are preparing to go their separate ways, pursuing careers in the rural sector, but they will always share a common bond as the first interns of the Fairlight Foundation.

The foundation is a female-only farm training institute based at Fairlight Station, a 2500ha property near Garston, in Northern Southland, owned by Simon and Lou Wright, and Doug and Mari Harpur. . .

Data ‘wrangler’ happy on block –  Sally Rae:

She describes herself as a recovering academic.

Most days, Nicola Dennis is happily ensconced in her home office, on a rural block of land in East Otago, surrounded by animals, and doing her thing as a “data wrangler”.

In November, Dr Dennis made the move to self-employment, establishing her own business which focused on the agricultural sector which she has been involved in since graduating from university.

Originally from Northland, her parents moved to be dairy farmers in Southland in 1996. She always had a love of animals, being outside and living in a rural setting. . . 

 

A day in the life of a beekeeper – Nikki Mandow:

The sun is shining, the mānuka is coming into flower and New Zealand’s beekeepers are hoping for a great season. But as business editor Nikki Mandow discovered, producing some of the world’s best honey products is way harder than it sounds.

If you want to write a story about beekeepers, you better be prepared to get up early. I talk to Alejandro Gibson, Comvita’s Taupo-based apiary manager, at 7am, but he’s already been up a couple of hours, is dressed in his hi-viz gear, and is champing to get off the phone to head off to his hives, before it gets too hot for the bees. 

Talking to journalists? Not high priority on a sunny day. 

But then I ask the question: “What’s it like being a beekeeper?” and any impatience or reluctance disappears. Gibson’s love for bees is infectious – almost an hour later, when I press stop on the Zoom recording, I’ve caught the bug. . . 

Tomato prices pull down overall food prices:

Food prices fell 0.6 percent in November 2021 compared with October 2021, mainly influenced by lower prices for tomatoes, Stats NZ said today.

Tomato prices fell 49 percent in November. However, their price was 54 percent higher than a year ago.

“The weighted average price of 1kg of tomatoes fell from $12.04 in October 2021 to $6.16 in November 2021,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said. “This compares with $3.99 in November 2020.”

Monthly fruit and vegetable prices fell 6.7 percent in November. As well as lower tomato prices, there were lower prices for broccoli, strawberries, and potatoes. These falls were partly offset by higher prices for apples, kiwifruit, and carrots. . . 

New Zealand winegrowers launches 2021 mentoring programme:

New Zealand Winegrowers is delighted to launch the 2021 Mentoring Programme. This programme aims to support wine industry members increase their confidence, focus on their self-development and reach their goals.

The programme matches one mentee with an experienced mentor from within the New Zealand wine industry, following a careful selection and matching process. The pair then meet regularly over the next six to eight months as the mentee sets goals, makes plans to reach them and is encouraged and supported by their mentor.

Previous mentors and mentees have found the programme incredibly valuable, with the 2021 programme the biggest so far including 18 matched pairs. Applications were received throughout September and October, matches carefully made and the mentor and mentee workshops run by Fiona Fenwick were held at Giesen’s Ara Wooldshed Cellar Door in Blenheim. Auckland mentors had their session online due to Covid Alert Level restrictions. . . 

NZ Dairy Industry Awards’ dairy trainee numbers increase:

The Dairy Trainee category has received a substantial increase in the number of entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

170 entries have been received in the refreshed category including 27 in Canterbury region, 22 in Waikato and 21 in Southland/Otago.

Nationally, 112 entries were received in the Dairy Manager category and 82 entered Share Farmer of the Year.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon said a total of 364 entries were received for the Awards.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/11/2021

New twists to carbon farming – Keith Woodford:

Each time I write about carbon farming, I think it will be the last time I do so for quite some time. But then something new comes up and there is a new twist to be explored. Right now, there are two new twists, potentially pulling in different directions.

First, just prior to the COP26 talkfest in Glasgow, James Shaw and Jacinda Ardern issued a joint press release stating that New Zealand will increase the carbon targets to be achieved by 2030. The specifics are more than a little obscure, but the increase is going to be considerable.

The changes are made more complex by changes in the accounting methods. Here, I am talking about carbon accounting, not dollar accounting. 

Sometimes the Government talks about gross emissions that do not include forestry offsets. Sometimes the Government talks about net emissions after allowing for offsets. And sometimes the Government compares different time periods using what is called ‘gross-net’, which gets even more confusing. . .

Isolated rural police face burnout, lack of support – IPCA review:

An Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report has highlighted major issues in the resourcing of small community police stations, with some officers saying they are close to burnout.

The review was done after several people in communities with a one- or two-person police station complained about the way their local officers dealt with them.

The IPCA selected 12 small communities across the country, and interviewed the local officers and residents.

It found officers enjoyed the challenges of working remotely but felt they were constantly on call, and the remoteness made it more difficult for them to access relief or backup. . .

Will New Zealand workers save Central Otago’s summer harvest?  – George Driver:

As the fruit harvest season nears, orchardists are again raising the alarm of an impending worker shortage. So will enough of us head to the country this summer to pick Central Otago’s crop?

Every year I said it would be my last. Every year I came crawling back.

From the age of 14, I spent a decade of summers picking stone fruit under the searing Central Otago sun. I was fortunate to have been born into the iPod generation, but all of the audiobooks on Napster couldn’t stave off the boredom of fruit picking. Working 7am to 4pm seven days a week atop a shuddering Hydralada would put me into fatigue-induced stupor that enveloped every summer of my youth. The only reprieve was the sound of rain on the corrugated iron roof that signalled a long awaited day off.

But for a teenager working at a time when youth rates meant the minimum wage was a little over $7 an hour, the pay was unbeatable. . .

Farm walks lose bookings with Aucklanders unable to travel – Susan Murray:

Private farm walks are taking a financial hit due to cancellations from Aucklanders unable to travel, with some losing 40 percent of their bookings.

Farm walks have blossomed in the past couple of decades as more farmers have looked to diversify farm income and showcase less publicly accessible land.

Shaun Monk runs the the Island Hills Station Walk (formerly called Hurunui High Country Station Walk), a two- to three-day track in North Canterbury.

Monk said he had lost 40 percent of the early season bookings. . . .

Mediaworks join NZDIA national sponsor family :

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) are pleased to announce an exciting new addition to their National sponsor family.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to welcome MediaWorks and is looking forward to working with them to extend the programme’s reach in the traditional rural sector and others via more mainstream channels.

“Just as the dairy industry is evolving, so are the people working in it and we need new ways to connect with our entrants. . .

Celebrate and be in to win with NZ FLowers Week November 22-26:

Spring time is celebration time for the local cut flowers industry and during NZ Flowers Week flower lovers all over the country are invited to join the party.

From Monday November 22 through to Friday 26 the resilience, passion and skill of industry players, from growers to floral retailers will be acknowledged and just as importantly, their customers too.

For the sixth year in a row the event’s organisers Feel Good With Flowers have created a big bunch of great opportunities for people to revel in the beauty of quality, NZ-grown blooms and foliage, and have a chance to win prizes from a pool totalling $30,000.

During the week Feel Good With Flowers will be asking the NZ public to purchase blooms and bouquets from their favourite florists and support them using hashtags #supportlocalflowers and #nzflowersweek2021. . .

Comvita and For the Love of Bees launch a new partnership to help create a world where bees thrive :

Comvita and For The Love of Bees launch a new partnership to help create a world where bees thrive

Comvita, global market leader in Mānuka honey, has today announced a major partnership with social enterprise, For The Love of Bees (FTLOB), which will see the two organisations working together to protect these vital pollinators and the natural ecosystems they live in.

Since its establishment in 1974, Comvita has been guided by its founding principle of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship and protection over nature – building on co-founders Claude Stratford and Alan Bougen’s passion for connecting people to nature, while caring for the environment. . .


Rural round-up

14/10/2021

Simplistic water rules not usable – Jacqueline Rowarth:

What is simple is always wrong. What is not is unusable.

French philosopher and poet Paul Valery wrote those sentences in 1942. We should remember the words in our struggles to find a way forward for agriculture.

Around New Zealand the regional and local authorities are dealing with the National Policy Statements, particularly those for freshwater. The goal is to find an indicator of water quality and apply a regulation.

It is not an easy task. . .

Vets need dedicated MIQ spots now :

An acute shortage of vets could lead to animal welfare issues if the Government does not respond to the New Zealand Veterinary Association.”

National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says the association contacted her this week after months of lobbying the Government for managed isolation and quarantine spaces (MIQ) to get overseas vets into NZ.

“Earlier this year, MPI and Minister O’Connor advocated for 50 border exceptions for vets to enter the country.

“But these vets are unable to book spaces, in the lottery that is, this country’s MIQ system. . .

Hive to home: Comvita’s tough turnaround road – Nikki Mandow:

Over the past 18 months, our largest mānuka honey producer, Comvita, had to make some tough calls to turn around the business. But a hard-won strategy to control the whole supply chain – from hive to home – could end up being its secret weapon.

It all started in 1916 with a six-year-old boy called Claude Stratford keeping bees and making honey on his parents’ small South Island farm. He left school at 11, and started putting his bike on the Cook Strait ferry to take his honey to sell in Wellington.

He maybe didn’t know it, but he was running a one-kid, end-to-end supply chain management system.

Half a century later, in 1974, Stratford, then in his mid-60s, teamed up with Alan Bougen, a self-confessed hippy 40 years younger than himself. The pair founded a company, Comvita, based on selling natural health food products, mostly related to bees. There was mānuka honey, of course, but also bee pollen, honey vinegar, lozenges, and an elixir to help with coughs and sore throats. . .

Poultry farmers face added costs in effort to stamp out salmonella strain :

The Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced stricter controls for the poultry industry in a bid to control an outbreak of salmonella enteritidis.

The disease was first discovered in an Auckland hatchery in March – it’s since been found in 11 poultry operations.

Most infected flocks have been culled and only two farms remain actively infected – they can not sell product for human consumption.

The salmonella strain posses a health risk to humans, who can get sick from eating infected meat or eggs which haven’t been thoroughly cooked. . .

Cash injection for pines to natives forest conversion project:

The country’s largest ‘pine to natives’ forest conversion project has been given a $15,000 cash injection by a leading producer of radiata pine products. The initiative by Hawke’s Bay-based Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust (FLRT) is converting the former Maungataniwha Pine Forest into 4,000 hectares of regenerating native forest and now has the financial backing of the Pan Pac Environmental Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawke’s Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest.

Eighty years ago, the land was covered in mature native forest full of mistletoe, kiwi, kokako and kaka. The mature podocarps were logged and in the 1980s some 4,000 hectares were clear-felled and burnt for the planting of pine trees. . .

 

New Zealand genetics company Tropical Dairy Group announces capital raise on catalist:

New Zealand dairy genetics company Tropical Dairy Group Limited (TDG) announced today a private offer on Catalist – a new stock exchange designed for small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Seeking to raise $3 million from wholesale investors, TDG is the holding company and 100% owner of both Thermo Regulatory Genetics Limited and Dairy Solutionz (NZ) Limited, founded in 2018 and 2009 respectively.

The raise comes ahead of an intended public listing in early 2022 on the Catalist Public Market.

Focused on developing heat-tolerant cattle in tropical climates, TDG’s genetics are sold into markets throughout Asia, the USA and South America, improving animal welfare and helping the world’s hottest communities provide greater food and protein security. . .


Rural round-up

08/10/2021

Post-1990 forest owners face complex decisions – Keith Woodford:

There are close on 400,000 hectares of non-registered post-1989 forests eligible to join the ETS. Once registered, many owners could within one year earn $7500 or more per hectare in historical credits back to 2018

 This is a further article in a series I have been writing exploring the issues of carbon farming.   The issues are important because we are on the cusp of massive land-use changes. These are driven by the current economics of carbon farming now being far superior to sheep and beef farming on most classes of land.

Carbon farming is part of a virtual market, called the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) in which there is no exchange of a physical product. As such, the ETS is controlled by Government rules and regulations, rather than by physical supply and demand factors.

The carbon farming component of this virtual market relates to post-1989 forests. These are forests on land that was not in forest on 31 December 1989 or in the immediately preceding years.   . . 

From ‘hopeless in the hills’ to hearty hunter – Tracey Roxburgh:

Partly, it’s the thrill of the chase. Mostly it’s spending hours alone in his backyard — the hills around Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes — that puts a smile on Lee Murray’s dial.

Originally from Cromwell, Mr Murray moved to Australia when he was about 11 after his father got a job there in the mines.

After attending high school there, he moved back to Cromwell when he was 17 and decided he wanted to get into hunting.

‘‘I used to try and tag along with the boys that were hearty hunters [such as] Duncan Stewart. He’s a really well-known hunter in the Central Otago region, and I was terrible,’’ the 36-year-old said. . . 

Vet labour shortage at crisis point, recruitment agency says – Sally Murhpy:

Some vet clinics around the country are closing down – because they can’t get enough staff – a recruiter says.

In June the government announced 50 general practice vets would be allowed to enter the country with a border exception – to help with the labour shortage.

But The New Zealand Veterinary Association says only two have arrived – a further 11 are waiting for a spot in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).

Chief executive Kevin Bryant said they were hearing from overseas vets that they were reluctant to start the visa process due to the delays they are seeing with the MIQ process. . . 

Sunsmart farming is smart farming :

Federated Farmers wants to remind farmers and growers this is a good time to be thinking about getting “sunsmart” for summer.

More than 4000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year, accounting for 80% of skin cancer deaths in New Zealand.

It has been estimated up to 25% of farmers and growers have had a skin cancer.

Farmers and growers are at higher risk of catching melanoma due to New Zealand’s UV radiation intensity, and the time they spend outside. . . 

Lanolin market driven by increase in end-use industries :

Lanolin Market Driven By Increase in end-use industries, such as personal care and cosmetics, baby care products, and pharmaceuticals.

The worldwide market research report Lanolin Market scrutinizes the market’s current trends and growth indicators from 2021 to 2030. The research gives a detailed analysis of global demand, developing trends that are affecting this demand’s potential.

This report covers a variety of crucial but different topics. Moreover, it studies the latest technologies that will influence the Lanolin market future and global acceptance. As efficiency-enhancing technologies are condemning for market progress, our research analysts spoke with key opinion leaders and Lanolin industry players to provide the clients with an extensive picture of the market’s potential. . . 

Experience Comvita’s story of innovation and connection at World Expo 2020 Dubai:

Comvita, global market leader in Mānuka honey, is celebrating the start of Expo 2020 Dubai, with its own Expo experience, including the launch of an immersive digital showcase, designed to create a global movement where bees, people and nature can thrive in Harmony.

Comvita is a member of the Care Collective, one of the key sponsors and suppliers of the New Zealand Pavilion and is proud to share its connection to the New Zealand Pavilion theme of Care for People and Place.

Comvita Group CEO, David Banfield, says “The concept of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship of nature, has been one of Comvita’s guiding principles from the day we were founded in 1974. So for us, there is a genuine sense of alignment and connection with that New Zealand theme, which really embodies our entire purpose as an organisation. . . 


Rural round-up

09/09/2021

We need to step up water resilience resourcing and leadership  :

News that development work on the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme has been halted should be deeply troubling to every resident of the Wairarapa, the region’s Federated Farmers President David Hayes says.

“Water storage is critical to the future of our towns and rural hinterland, to employment, production and the health of our rivers and wider environment.”
The Wakamoekau scheme was seen as a foundation block of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy.

“It’s highly concerning we have stumbled at the first step,” David said.
“I grew up in South Australia – the driest state on the driest continent. I’ve seen how severe water shortages undercut so many aspects of life.

“The Wairarapa must not underestimate the shock that climate change-accelerated lack of water will mean to our Wairarapa communities and to the environment. It is time to act! . . 

Grape shortage to hit winegrowers in pocket – Maja Burry:

The wine industry is bracing for two consecutive years of falling export revenue due to tight grape supplies.

Latest industry figures show in the year to June export value was down 3 percent to $1.87 billion, the first fall in export value in 26 years.

New Zealand winegrowers chief executive Phillip Gregan said the sector had experienced strong growth over a number of years, but it was now being constrained by a lack of supply.

“Despite the fact that we had a record harvest in 2020, our winery simply did not have the volume of wine available to them to support market growth for the whole for the whole year. And so we saw the first decline in wine exports.” . . 

Long hours at a busy time of year – Toni Williams:

Husband and wife Vincent and Rebecca Koopmans, like their farming peers, have been putting in some long hours during Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Mr Koopmans is a dairy farmer, near Methven, and Mrs Koopmans a primary school teacher reaching out to pupils about ongoing learning under Covid restrictions.

‘‘Although it is business as usual during lockdown and we are very proud to be an essential service, it’s not life as normal and lockdown does still add pressure on farmers,’’ Mr Koopmans said.

‘‘We are lucky to be in a position to continue working, and providing work for our team as well, but like everyone else we are hoping this [Covid] outbreak is contained soon.’’ . . 

Comvita partners with celebrity brand promoter Caravan:

Mānuka honey exporter Comvita is teaming up with one of America’s most powerful sports and entertainment agencies to market a new line of products.

Comvita has announced a new partnership with the US brand development company Caravan, which is a joint venture with talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which represents celebrities and sports stars such as Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Caravan helps high profile individuals build companies around their personal brands. . . 

Lockdown auction achieves record sale price :

The sale of a Tatua dairy supply farm has just set a new price-per-hectare record in the Waikato.

The rural property has also set an agency record as the most expensive property sold by Bayleys via live virtual auction since lockdown restrictions were put into place more than two weeks ago.

Alert level four lockdown restrictions didn’t allow Bayleys country real estate agent Mike Fraser-Jones much time to come to grips with the technological nuances of live virtual auctions. . . 

 

Property investors buzzing as honey warehouse up for sale:

The land and building housing the regional operations for one of New Zealand’s premier honey harvesting and retail companies has been placed on the market for sale.

The substantial site in the Waikato township of Te Awamutu features a 1,885-square metre building sitting on 5,226 square metres of freehold land zoned commercial 8A. The modern warehousing and administrative premises at 249 Bruce Berquist Drive is located in the heart of Te Awamutu’s industrial precinct – a wedge of properties between Bond Road and Te Rahu Road.

Leading New Zealand native honey harvesting and retail brand Manuka Honey occupies the rear 1,125-square metre portion of the building premises. The remaining 600 square metres of high-stud warehousing and 160 square metres of office space at the front of the property are currently vacant. . . 


Rural round-up

28/08/2021

Feds: Be targeted, not revolutionary, about RMA change –  Simon Edwards:

Federated Farmers has called for “extreme caution” in repealing or re-writing the Resource Management Act.

Targeted and focused change, rather than wholesale replacement, would provide the ability to make changes to address problems with the RMA whilst minimising the disruption to 30 years’ of case law, to councils, resource users and communities, Feds said a submission to the Environment Select Committee.

An independent economic assessment of the proposed Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) warns of higher costs and more uncertainty.

Federated Farmers commissioned Douglas Birnie, Director of Enfocus to assess the economic implications of the NBA, the first of three new pieces of legislation planned to replace the RMA. His assessment is that the resource management approach proposed in the NBA risks: . . 

Pāmu reports a 29 million after tax profit:

A strong year for its dairy and forestry portfolios has seen the state owned farmer, Pāmu, report a $29 million after tax profit.

The company which owns about 200 farms said total revenue was $250 million – with the milk cheque accounting for half of all farm operating revenue.

Chief executive Steve Carden said the company was still hit with covid-19 disruptions such as lower prices for some red meat categories.

But as a diversified farming business, its capacity to offset any downsides in year on year returns with upsides across other aspects of its portfolio is growing. . . 

Food-derived opioids are a medical frontier – Keith Woodford:

In late 2020, I was invited to write a paper on food derived-opioids for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, with a focus including effects on microbiota.  Eight months later and the paper has been written, then refereed by three scientists chosen by the journal, then modified in response to the referees’ critiques and now published. The paper draws on and integrates evidence from 125 prior-published papers. It is available online via a link at the end of this post.

The key messages are that food-derived opioids from A1 beta-casein and also from gluten are a medical frontier, with clear evidence that they affect the microbiota in our digestive system, but also linking within a complex system to the brain and multiple internal organs.

Fundamental to this system is the widespread presence of opioid receptors to which the food-derived opioids attach. These opioid receptors are present in the brain, intestines, pancreas, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, adrenal glands and many other places.

The natural role of opioid receptors is as part of the internal messaging system between the gut, brain, internal organs and peripheral tissues. But when external opioids are consumed, either in the form of drugs or within food, then the internal messaging is disrupted. The body then reacts to this in multiple ways, including inflammation and autoimmune responses. . . 

Good Progress on intensive winter grazing rules:

The Government’s confirmation it is shelving the unworkable pugging and sowing date rules in its latest intensive winter grazing proposal is positive for farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says.

The controversial pugging and resowing date rules have been replaced with a practical management approach under the revised intensive winter grazing proposals, which have just been released for public consultation.

“We, and other industry groups, have for some time been calling on the Government to replace the pugging and sowing date rules with sensible and pragmatic alternatives,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“It is positive for farmers that we now have clarity on the proposed approach in this area, which aligns with the recommendations of the Southland Winter Grazing advisory group last December. . .

Mānuka honey sales in US and China drives profit for Comvita :

The listed honey producer Comvita is crediting strong growth in Mānuka sales to the US and China for helping drive a return to profit.

Reported net profit after tax was $9.5 million, compared to a loss of $9.7 million in the previous year.

Comvita said the 2021 financial year had been a crucial one for the company, as it looked to prove the businessess’ significant potential.

In 2020 the company completed a strategic review and chief executive David Banfield said the business had gone through significant change in order to arrive at this point. . . 

Non-urgent veterinary appointments on hold:

Non-urgent veterinary appointments on hold until COVID-19 levels reduce

While veterinarians are still providing care and treatment for animals during lockdown, it’s far from business as usual.

According to two of Aotearoa’s key veterinary organisations, the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), COVID-19 restrictions have changed how animals, as well as people, receive healthcare.

“Under Alert Level 4 restrictions, veterinarians can only provide care that can’t be postponed,” according to the Council’s Veterinary Advisor Dr Seton Butler. “As a result, non-urgent healthcare, routine vaccinations and regular checks need to be postponed until the situation changes.” . . 

Enviromark diamond certification for Silver Fern Farms:

Enviromark diamond certification reflects Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to sustainability best practice

Silver Fern Farms has achieved Toitū enviromark diamond certification, the highest New Zealand-based environmental certification. This represents another important step in Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to playing a leadership role in driving sustainability in the red meat sector.

Enviromark diamond is recognised internationally as equivalent to ISO 14001 accreditation, and to achieve enviromark diamond certification New Zealand companies in fact need to exceed some ISO requirements.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer said achieving enviromark diamond is a massive endorsement for the company’s systems and the ways it is managing environmental impacts and risk. . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/08/2020

Wool boom from footrot research – Sally Rae:

The development of a commercialised breeding value for footrot resistance represents a “huge opportunity” for the expansion of fine wool sheep production, the New Zealand Merino Company says.

While “not a silver bullet” against the disease which results in lameness and loss of production, it would allow growers to make genetic gains and establish flocks that were footrot resistant, NZM chief executive John Brakenridge said.

Growers would save money from reduced treatment costs and chemical inputs, would not be hit with lower production, all while improving animal welfare.

It was the result of work by the New Zealand Sheep Transformation Project, co-funded by NZM and the Ministry for Primary Industries with a contribution from Merino Inc, to look at ways to contribute to a more productive, profitable and high animal welfare future for fine wool. . . 

From Devine intervention to total faith, highland calf birth adds new blood to line – Laurel Ketel:

Two years ago, Devine, a highland cow living at Plum Tree farm in Glenhope, couldn’t walk.

She had fallen down a bank and with her leg caught in wire fencing, the circulation to her foot was cut off causing severe damage. The rehabilitation costs were huge but owners Lisa and Mal Grennell were determined she wouldn’t be put down.

They worked around the clock for weeks, hoisting her every few hours and after four weeks she was finally able to walk unaided but it took a further six months for her to recover fully.

Last week Devine gave birth to a healthy calf and with the birth came not only new life but the introduction of a new bloodline into New Zealand highland cattle. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ joins call for new national nutrition surveys:

As World Iron Awareness Week kicks off today, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are joining the growing number of calls for the government to conduct new national nutrition surveys, with the most recent in 2008 for adults, and 2002 for children. 

Iron deficiency is the world’s most prevalent nutrient deficiency with two billion sufferers globally. It greatly impacts young children and women, with symptoms often being mistaken for the impacts of a busy life (tiredness, feeling grumpy, lack of focus). This hidden hunger is impacting a growing number of Kiwis, but the true scale is virtually impossible to quantify.  

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Head of Nutrition Fiona Windle points out that such a large data gap leaves a lot to be desired when trying to tackle the impacts of low iron levels among other nutrient deficiencies.  . .  

Prospectors out in force as gold prices reach fever pitch – Tracy Neal:

Since retiring last year as the Grey District’s long-serving mayor, Tony Kokshoorn says he has been good as gold – he just wishes he had joined the recent rush on prospecting for it.

“I generally nowadays invest in sharemarkets and that type of thing, but I wish now I’d taken up the gold-panning and gone out there because it’s a far better payer at the moment, with the gold price going through the roof and the share price of most companies really in the doldrums.”

Record high gold prices have prompted hobby prospectors to dust off spades and pans and head to South Island rivers in the hope of striking it lucky.

The precious metal recently hit $NZ3000 an ounce, as global investors looked to safer bets in shaky economic times. . . 

Comvita posts reduced annual loss :

The honey manufacturer and exporter Comvita has posted a reduced annual loss as it restructures and looks to capitalise on a lift in sales.

The company’s loss for the year ended June was $9.7 million, most of it caused by restructuring costs, compared with a loss of $27.7m a year ago, which had writedowns in asset values.

However, a second half year revival, as Comvita moved to slim and simplify its business and increase margins, resulted in a profit but not enough to overturn a first half loss. . . 

Validation of agriculture as an essential and sustainable industry – Roberto A. Peiretti:

Did you know that our most basic foods could be totally consumed around the world in just a few months?

This is why governments everywhere have labeled agriculture an “essential” activity during the Covid-19 crisis.

It was gratifying to see this appreciation during the social and economic lockdowns because farmers are often overlooked or even abused.

I hope the awareness of what farmers do continues after we recover from the pandemic.

Over the last several months, we’ve learned to live without a lot of the things that we once took for granted, such as sports, dining in restaurants, and going to church. The rules have varied from country to country, but we’ve all learned to cope with new restrictions so that we can prevent the transmission of a dangerous disease. . . 


Rural round-up

23/07/2020

Synthetic products ‘kick int he guts’ – Alice Scott:

When it comes to supporting the New Zealand wool industry, East Otago sheep and beef farmer Georgie McGregor reckons there needs to be a new hashtag started for synthetic apparel: #senditback.

“The big farm retailers not only stock synthetic clothing and hats but they also run these promotions and send what is essentially a plastic bush shirt to us for buying a certain product in bulk.

“It’s one thing to stock this cheap synthetic product, but to give it away to farmers who are out there every day trying to make part of their living out of wool, well it’s a kick in the guts really.

“I just think we should all start sending back this plastic stuff they give us and make it their problem. If we don’t say anything, nothing will change,” she said. . . 

No place for Tom, Dick or Harry :

Migrants are a critical and valued part of dairying in New Zealand, filling skills shortages on farms when there aren’t enough local workers available.

The sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas (18% of total sector employees) and another 1500 on resident visas (mostly employees but some employers).

The NZ Government, like other governments around the world, is facing a growing unemployment queue thanks to Covid-19. They are under pressure to employ locals. But it isn’t as simple.

All those out-of-work Queenstown baristas are hardly likely to give up and move sticks to the Waikato, don an apron and start milking cows.

Cost control the biggest influence for farmers in latest survey – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’s latest economic survey reveals that cost control continues to be a key driver for New Zealand dairy farmers as the industry faces ongoing challenges in both production and profitability.

The survey for the 2018-2019 year showed that operating profit per hectare for owner-operators was $2154. This is down on the previous year’s total of $2238, but above the average for the previous decade of $1696, DairyNZ principal economist Dr Graeme Doole said.

 Dr Doole says that volatility will remain a significant challenge for farmers to manage.

Feed continues to be a farmers largest expenditure area at 28.5% of total expenditure. It has been farmers’ expenses category since 2007-2008. . . 

Five southern farmers grade-free for 10 years – Yvonne O’Hara:

Five Fonterra suppliers have earned blocks of cheese and plaques as recognition for being grade free for 10 years or more, for the past season.

Thirty-four suppliers nationwide earned the plaque, five of whom are in Otago and Southland.

In addition to the Weir family, of Inch Clutha, there are the Chalmers family of Kaitangata, the Morrisons, of Kaitangata, the Rutter/Hannah families, of Kaka Point, and the Cricketts of Otautau. . . 

Bees to help elephants and tribes thrive in Africa: a powerful new partnership to help save the wild:

Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer of UMF Mānuka honey, has today announced a new multi-year partnership with wildlife charity Saving the Wild, which will see the two organisations work together on global projects to help protect ‘nature in need’.

As the major Sponsorship Partner of Saving the Wild, Comvita will be acting upon its founding values, with the mission to connect people to nature at the heart of the partnership.

Established in 1974, Comvita and came to life in a counter-culture movement built on respect for nature and humankind. Saving the Wild was founded in 2014 by Jamie Joseph, with a mission to protect endangered African wildlife and ultimately the priceless biodiversity of the planet. . . 

Livestock birth-management companies for sale provide fertile opportunities for new owners:

Two livestock birth-management firms enabling New Zealand farmers to be among the most productive primary producers in the world has been placed on the market for sale.

Cattle pregnancy testing company Ultra-Scan was established in 1994 to examine the fertility rate of pregnant cows. Ultra-Scan now has 20 franchises throughout New Zealand – with 14 in the North Island and six in the South Island. The majority of the company’s North Island franchise operations are located in the Greater Waikato and King Country districts.

While initially founded to deliver cow gestation scanning services, Ultra-Scan’s service offering has subsequently gone on to include similar pregnancy tests for sheep, deer and goats, as well as the de-horning of young calves aged between four days and 10 weeks of age – in a Ministry for Primary Industry-approved practice known as ‘disbudding’ on calves – as well as DNA sampling, electronic calf tagging for identification, and teat removal. . . 


Rural round-up

08/06/2019

New machine to help export traceability:

AgResearch is developing a method of giving New Zealand exports a “unique fingerprint” that scientifically proves their provenance and could be used to deter supply-chain fraud.

The technology is so accurate that it can differentiate New Zealand, English and Welsh lamb using a measurement that only takes a few seconds. It can also detect what feed – such as grain, grass or chicory – a carcass was reared on, an increasingly important trait driving consumer spending. . . 

Click here for more: https://vimeo.com/340251207/7367c5e18b

Dr Alastair Ross said the new rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer (REIMS) machine being used at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus detects the “molecular phenotype” of a sample, a unique “fingerprint” made up of molecules resulting from the interaction of genes and the environment. This measurement, which previously took over an hour of lab work, can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine. . . 

Farmer submissions encouraged on ZCB:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle is encouraging dairy farmers to speak up and make a submission on the Government’s proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

“DairyNZ welcomes the opportunity to engage constructively and share our perspective on this Bill and are encouraging dairy farmers right across New Zealand to do the same” says Dr Mackle.

“The potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for our sector. That’s why farmer engagement is so important. . .

New Zealand women’s meat industry group launched – Angie Skerrett:

A group for women working in the meat industry in New Zealand has been launched, in an effort to attract more women into the sector.

The New Zealand launch of Meat Business Women (MBW) is the latest in a rapid expansion of the organisation which was started in the UK.

The group held its inaugural meeting in Napier, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector. . .

Farmer satisfaction with banks continues to slide:

Farmers’ overall satisfaction with their banks remains strong but it is declining steadily, the Federated Farmers 11th biennial banking survey shows.

Satisfaction rates are at their lowest since the survey began in August 2015.

“More than 1300 of our farmer members responded to the survey we commissioned from Research First and overall satisfaction with banks has dropped over the last six months from 74% to 71%,” Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

Proceed with caution on speed limit changes:

Safety of people on our roads is a top priority but any move to reduce speed limits should not be an excuse to skimp on road maintenance and upgrading, Federated Farmers says.

“There are some rural roads which are too windy, narrow and bumpy to drive on safely at 100 km/hr,” Feds transport spokesperson Karen Williams says. “It may indeed be wise to post a lower speed limit on such routes, though the overriding rule ‘drive to the conditions’ springs to mind.”

However, the blanket and widespread speed limit reductions being suggested in the wake of data from a new NZTA mapping tool could cause far more harm than good. . .

Comvita CEO to step down, Hewlett to lead strategic review Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita’s chief executive for the past four years, Scott Coulter, is stepping down in September and, while it searches for a replacement, former CEO Brett Hewlett is taking on a temporary executive role to review the company’s underperforming assets.

Coulter will retain a governance role in the manuka honey products company’s business in China business.

“Scott’s commitment to Comvita since joining the company in 2003 has been outstanding,” says chair Neil Craig. . .


Rural round-up

03/06/2019

Townies ringing the changes on rural folk – Nigel Malthus:

Decisions are being made about and for New Zealand’s rural communities by the 80% of the population who live in urban areas, say the authors of a new book on rural change.

Current trends favour a market led, business focussed approach to regional growth, but these trends downplay social and community considerations, and that needs further thought, the authors say.

Heartland Strong: how rural New Zealand can change and thrive finds that rural communities have enormous strengths which could be enhanced and maintained even in the face of inexorable change. . .

Debt problems rise only slightly – Nigel Stirling:

The number of dairy farmers struggling with high debt has risen slightly, according to the Reserve Bank’s latest stock-take of the health of the financial system.

In its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report it said the number of non-performing dairy loans reported by the trading banks has increased slightly.

“The dairy sector is continuing to recover from the two major dairy price downturns in the past decade. . .

Plan needed for competing wood demands – Fonterra – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Wood is a viable industrial fuel but greater effort may be needed to ensure that new demand from processors doesn’t strip supplies from existing users, Fonterra says.

Co-firing the firm’s Brightwater milk powder plant near Nelson on a wood-coal blend shows that wood is a viable means to reduce emissions from process heat, Tony Oosten, the firm’s energy manager, says.

Capital and fuel costs for new wood or coal boilers are now very close and the company could – were it to be building its Darfield 2 dryer in Canterbury again – do that with wood. . . 

 

World leading scientist teaming up with Fonterra on sustainability:

Professor Ian Hunter is a serial entrepreneur. Born in New Zealand, he started his first company at age nine and published his first scientific paper at age 10.

Now living in Boston, he’s the Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, the co-founder of 25 companies, and has more than 100 patents to his name.

He’s also working on a new project – a partnership with Fonterra to solve some of dairy farming’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Kakariki Fund to help horticulture starts accelerate growth:

A wholesale investment offer being launched this week is aimed at helping the emerging stars of the New Zealand horticulture sector accelerate their growth.

Kakariki Fund Limited, which is seeking $100 million, will invest in orchards, vineyards, plantations and farms to be co-managed by leading horticulture processors and exporters including apple growers Rockit Global and Freshmax, Sacred Hill wines, craft beer hop grower Hop Revolution, Manuka honey producer Comvita and kiwifruit grower and packer DMS Progrowers.

Kakariki is targeting annual investment returns of 10%*, which will be made up of earnings from the sale of crops through the partners and any increases in land values.  . . 

Meat is magnificent water, carbon, methane & nutrition  – Diana Rodgers:

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

There was a recent article in The Washington Post entitled “Meat is Horrible”, once again vilifying meat, that was full of inaccurate statements about the harm cattle impose on the land, how bad it is for our health, and how it should be taxed. Stories like this are all too common and we’ve absolutely got to change our thinking on what’s causing greenhouse gas emissions and our global health crisis.

Hint: it’s not grass-fed steak

In the few days since the story originally came out, I’ve been brewing up some different angle to write. I’ve written here, and here about the benefits of red meat, and how Tofurky isn’t the answer to healing the environment or our health. I keep saying the same thing over and over. Recently, I posted this as a response to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new claims that a plant-based diet is optimal. I also wrote about Philadelphia’s sugar tax here, and I don’t think a meat tax is any better of an idea, especially when the government is subsidizing the feed. I’m feeling quite frustrated. . . 


Rural round-up

11/04/2019

Dairy loses gloss – Neal Wallace:

Political and banking uncertainty appears to be taking some of the gloss off the dairy industry with just seven farms in Southland and Canterbury selling in the last six months.

From October to the middle of March just two dairy farms in Canterbury and five in Southland were sold but a broader lack of buyer confidence has eased national dairy land prices by up to 15%.

Real Estate Institute spokesman Brian Peacocke says a perfect storm has taken the wind out of the sector’s sails but he notes activity has started to pick up.

Rules governing the sale of land to foreign buyers have been tightened, banks are viewing lending to dairying less favourably, tax changes are possible, the introduction of environmental taxes and regulations are expected and borrowing costs . . .

Dire worker shortage in orchards – Richard Rennie:

Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty orchardists are grappling again with a seasonal labour shortage, with a shortfall of thousands of workers expected as kiwifruit and apple harvests reach their peak.

The shortage has horticultural heads exasperated at the need for greater understanding from the Government of how dire the situation has become.

The Social Development Ministry declared a seasonal labour shortage for kiwifruit early this month and extended the already declared labour shortage hitting Hawke’s Bay. 

Shortfalls in staff numbers have increased over last year’s with Bay of Plenty’s deficit of 1400 likely to push 3800 at the mid-April harvest peak. Last year the region was short by 1200 staff at this stage of harvest.  . . 

Fruit rotting, workers suffering amid Hawke’s Bay labour shortage

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at two current on-farm issues, pointing to some recent relevant history for controlling feral goats, and to the battle of the science over glyphosate – GUy Trafford:

Some farmers are feeling let down by government after the recommendations from the select committee on military-styled weapons have been announced.

The particular piece that they are at odds with is that only .22 calibre rifles (or less) are allowed to be semi-automatic and with a magazine capable of holding 10 shells or less. Any larger calibre rifles are only to be used by licensed contractors.

To be fair to the government, from my recollection, at no point did they indicate that higher calibre semi-automatic rifles would be allowed, and it would have been incredibly naive to think otherwise. The only animals needing these weapons are likely to be goats with possums and rabbits quite able to be culled by .22 or shot guns . . 

Comvita to take full control of China JV – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Honey company Comvita has entered a conditional agreement to acquire the remaining 49 percent of its China joint venture, Comvita Food and Comvita China, for about $20 million.

Comvita will acquire the JV by issuing 4.05 million new Comvita ordinary shares at $4.35 per share and an additional cash payment of $3.19 million. The acquisition will be earnings accretive immediately on a per share basis, it said.

“This completes the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ with respect to our China Strategy, which we have been working on for a number of years,” chief executive Scott Coulter said. . . 

Students inspired by agricultural science at UWA Future Farm:

Breaking the city-country divide, Year 12 Geography students from Penrhos College recently had their third annual field day at The University of Western Australia’s Ridgefield Farm in Pingelly.

The UWA Ridgefield Farm is home to the Future Farm 2050 project, which facilitates multidisciplinary research and development of sustainable and economically viable farms at local, national and international levels.

Professor Phil Vercoe from The UWA School of Agriculture and Environment and The UWA Institute of Agriculture introduced the students to the Enrich project, which was part of the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) investigating the benefits of planting native perennial shrubs as livestock feed. . .


Rural round-up

25/11/2018

Love of cattle leads to stud – Fritha Tagg :

Determined 14-year-old Waikato girl Tayla Hansen who is putting her stamp on the Speckle Park beef breed is quite possibly once of the youngest stud owners in the land.

Hansen, who lives with her mum Brenda, dad Andrew and siblings Cooper, 12, Alexis, 9, and Mitchell, 7, on a small lifestyle block at Orini near Huntly is the proud owner of Limited Edition Speckle Park stud.

As a young girl attending a country school she always had a calf for calf club but had to give them back to the farmer. She wanted a calf of her own that she could keep.  . . 

Science and complexity a great challenge – Barbara Gilham:

Creating the perfect cow for New Zealand herds is at the heart of LIC’s work. Barbara Gilham reports.

THERE are three things Wayne McNee looks for in a job – complexity, challenges and science.

As the chief executive of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) he is in charge of overseeing the nation’s herds and their reproductive performance so deals with all three daily.

Add to that about 700 staff throughout New Zealand, increasing to 2500 during the peak dairy breeding season and LIC’s offices in Britain, Ireland, Australia and the United States and agents in South America and South Africa and he has plenty to keep him occupied. . . 

Meet DairyNZ’s biosecurity team:

Diversity and reach come to mind when talking about DairyNZ’s biosecurity team, as each member comes from a different background and works with many others from DairyNZ and beyond. We put our biosecurity senior adviser Dave Hodges under the spotlight.

What does your team do and why?

There are four people in our team: Liz Shackleton started as biosecurity manager last month, based in Wellington, while Nita Harding and I are in Hamilton, and Katherine DeWitt is in Invercargill.

We work across science, policy and farmer engagement, focusing on insect pests, weeds and diseases and preventing new organisms getting into New Zealand. We talk directly with farmers and work with (and are supported by) DairyNZ staff across the business, plus others in the sector and elsewhere. . . 

Large scale mānuka investment a first for New Zealand:

Comvita has partnered with rural investment company MyFarm to offer New Zealanders the opportunity to own mānuka plantations for honey production.

MyFarm chief executive Andrew Watters said the collaboration was the first large scale mānuka investment of its kind in New Zealand and signalled a new era for North Island hill country profitability for specific locations.

“This partnership and investment opportunity ticks all the boxes. It will increase export returns from high value mānuka honey and generate excellent returns for investors. From an environmental perspective, we are storing carbon, reducing soil sediment loss and improving biodiversity. We don’t foresee a more green investment than this.” . . 

Achieving target weights in hoggets:

Veterinarians and farmers working together to improve stock performance must emphasise two aspects of hogget growth, say the authors of a guidebook published by Massey University Press.

These are, firstly, regular recording of bodyweight from weaning to first mating; and secondly, the monitoring of animal health and feed requirements.

Guessing the thrift and weight of ewe lambs and hoggets is not reliable; many a farmer who claims to have a ‘good eye’ for stock has been astonished when confronted with ‘hard data’ of weighed sheep. . . 

Red meat’s structure “a burning platform” – Shan Goodwin:

THE possibility the way the red meat industry is set up and run could be driving division between sectors of the supply chain is what has fuelled a review of the document that governs it, the Memorandum of Understanding.

In a rare and comprehensive insight into what is behind the forming of a high calibre taskforce to pick through the structure and operations of the industry, the man at the helm of industry umbrella body the Red Meat Advisory Council has spoken candidly about how resources and investment levels are perhaps being constrained.

Don Mackay says it is supply chains that produce food for customers, not farmers or processors operating in isolation. . . 


Rural round-up

23/08/2018

Calf rearer changes tactics after Mycoplasma bovis battle – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers who believe they can live with Mycoplasma bovis need to think again, say a Southland couple who are finally clear after eight months battling the bacterial cattle disease. 

Lumsden couple Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft are now “gun-shy” of returning to their calf rearing business, knowing the risks involved. 

They had bought 1600 calves to rear last spring before being “clobbered” with M. bovis. Their farm was confirmed clear of infection by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in early August.  . . 

New research into animals that give off less nitrogen:

New research may hold the key to lowering our emissions, by breeding animals that naturally excrete less nitrogen.

Utilising the genes of animals that produce less nitrogen could provide farmers with a breakthrough in managing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

Two research projects are currently looking to see if there’s a link between the nitrogen content of milk and animal emissions and whether it’s possible to identify and then replicate genes in animals that might control how much nitrogen an animal gives off. . . 

A2 Milk shares rise 4.4% as company doubles down on US, Asia – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk’s shares rose 4.4 percent following the milk marketer’s annual results this morning, but are still well off record highs seen earlier this year.

The company more than doubled net profit to $195.7 million in the June 2018 year, as it widened margins and increased infant formula sales. Revenue rose 68 percent to $922.7 million and earnings before interest, tax, deprecation and amortisation also more than doubled to $283 million. A2 already gave that revenue figure last month, just beating its $900 million-to-$920 million forecast from May, and at the time said ebitda was about 30 percent of sales, implying a figure around $277 million. . .

Milking it: I spent a day on the farm and my nose may never recover – Anuja Nadkarni:

NZ is known for its dairy products, and is home to one of the biggest dairy companies in the world. In this Stuff special investigation, we examine how the price of milk is set and explore the industry behind our liquid asset.

I milked two cows last week.

A bog standard Auckland millennial, milked two cows in my jeans, puffer and rubber boots on a dairy farm.

Being the typical city slicker I am, for a moment I arrogantly thought to myself, “yeah, I could do this”.

Could I though? . . 

Sheepmeat and beef levies to increase:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Board has decided to proceed with the proposed increase in the sheepmeat and beef levies following significant support from farmers.

From 1 October 2018 the levy for sheepmeat will increase 10 cents to 70 cents per head and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head. This is 0.4 per cent of the average slaughter value for prime steer/heifer, 0.7 per cent cull dairy cow, 0.7 per cent of lamb, and 1.1 per cent of mutton over the last three years.

The additional levies will be invested in accelerating four key programmes: the international activation of the Taste Pure Nature origin brand and the Red Meat Story, helping the sector lift its environmental performance and reputation, telling the farmer story better, and strengthening B+LNZ’s capability to address biosecurity risks. . .

Comvita hones focus on biggest growth drivers as it seeks to bolster profits – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer and marketer of honey and bee-related products, is reducing its risk and positioning itself for future growth by honing in on where it can get the most bang for its buck.

The company’s shares are the worst performer on the benchmark index this year after earnings were hurt by two consecutive years of poor honey harvests. Its honey supply business lost $6.2 million in operating profit in its 2018 financial year and $6.6 million in the 2017 year. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at what the future might hold for Lincoln University, and how consumer perceptions might change feedlot operations – Guy Trafford:

Lincoln University staff were called to a briefing on Tuesday this week from Chancellor Steve Smith and Acting Vice Chancellor Professor James McWha on what the future holds for the University.

For several years rumours and stories have been doing the rounds regarding Lincoln not helped by the issues surrounding the recently appointed and then moved-on Vice Chancellors.

The crux of the announcement revolved around the fact that Lincoln had signed a memorandum of understanding with University of Canterbury to form a joint future together. Considerable effort was spent reassuring staff that, whatever the future holds, Lincoln will retain its brand and culture and its autonomy to operate its multidiscipline programmes with their land-based programmes. . . 

Farmers protest California water plan aimed to save salmon :

Hundreds of California farmers rallied at the Capitol on Monday to protest state water officials’ proposal to increase water flows in a major California river, a move state and federal politicians called an overreach of power that would mean less water for farms in the Central Valley.

“If they vote to take our water, this does not end there,” said Republican state Sen. Anthony Cannella. “We will be in court for 100 years.”

Environmentalists and fishermen offered a different take on the other side of the Capitol to a much smaller audience. . . 

 


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