Rural round-up

29/03/2021

 Reduced foreign Labour in New Zealand fields failed experiment – Kate MacNamara:

It’s time to call New Zealand’s experiment in reduced foreign labour this harvest season a failure.

One of the country’s largest berry farmers has abandoned growing after a season of chronic labour shortage. Apple growers say they’re so shorthanded that exports will drop some 14 per cent this year, a loss of $95-$100 million. The grape harvest has come off with the help of more machinery, a tradeoff that’s likely to result in less premium wine. And growers estimate they’re still 1400 hires shy of the 4000 workers needed for grape cane pruning in Marlborough next month, the country’s most valuable wine region.

Perhaps the Government’s original idea sounded good in theory: redeploy the rump of seasonal foreign workers who remained stranded in New Zealand from the previous season, update working conditions for the few remaining backpackers, and make up the rest of the workforce from local Kiwis.

But if you add a few numbers, that calculation was always heroic. The need for seasonal hands through New Zealand’s harvest and pruning work approaches 40,000 in the peak summer and early autumn months. Before Covid, Immigration NZ anticipated that 14,500 Pacific workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and some 50,000 backpackers with working holiday visas would help to make up the labour force. But New Zealand’s closed border changed that. . . 

Orchard work shortage bites – Jared Morgan:

Some workers sent to Central Otago’s orchards and vineyards are not up to standard and the lack of seasonal workers from the Pacific is beginning to bite, an industry leader says.

Continuing labour shortages across both sectors have affected planning for key phases in production cycles such as picking and pruning.

This has led to calls for the Government to open quarantine-free travel bubbles to allow seasonal workers from Covid-free countries to plug labour gaps before it is too late, if not for this season then the next.

Pipfruit industry pioneer Con van der Voort, who operates a major packing facility in Ettrick, said the “come and go” nature of this season’s workforce was affecting orchardists not just in Central Otago but nationally. . . 

NZ’s potato chip industry threatened by cheap European imports – Sally Blundell:

The impact of Covid-19 on the potato chip industry in the Northern Hemisphere is putting locally grown and processed hot potato chips at the local chippie under threat.

The problem is that quiet streets and empty bars in Covid-ridden Europe have resulted in an estimated 1.7 million tonne surplus of raw potato material.

“People can’t go out, have a beer and buy some chips,” Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge told Frank Film in a recent interview. “That means there’s a big lump of frozen fries that’s got to go somewhere. Our economy’s working, they are sending it here – it is as simple as that.”

Claridge is looking for government action to protect New Zealand potato farmers from the influx of frozen fries grown and processed in Europe undercutting their locally grown equivalent. . . 

‘Milking cows is the easy part now’ – Sally Rae:

South Otago dairy farmers Scott and Ann Henderson were last week crowned Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners. They talk to Sally Rae about a career they say is not just about milking cows. 

She was from a sheep and beef farm in Scotland, he was a qualified carpenter from Balclutha.

Scott and Ann Henderson might not have grown up in the dairy farming industry, but the pair have made their mark on the sector, winning the 2021 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year title.

Industry recognition was not new for Mrs Henderson, who won the dairy manager of the year in the Southland-Otago awards in 2017, having finished runner-up the year before. . . 

Happy to be farming hops – Country Life:

Harvesting is the busiest time of the year for Holmdale Farm’s Cameron Ealam and his extended family.

They work from dawn to dusk picking, cleaning and drying several varieties of aromatic hop cones that grow on long leafy hop vines.

“The machine starts at seven each morning. We’re doing 12-hour days picking at the moment. The drying kiln will run through the night as well, so big days but (it’s) a short window to get a valuable crop in,” Cameron says.

On the floor behind the kilns are large piles of Motueka and Riwaka hop cones, waiting to be pressed and baled. . . 

Call for long-time enemies cotton and wool to join forces to push enviro credentials – Chris McLennan:

Long-time market enemies, the wool and cotton industries are looking to join forces globally to take on synthetic fibres.

Wool and cotton believe they both have the same eco-friendly credentials to challenge for better environmental ratings in Europe.

They want to form an alliance to champion the benefits of natural fibres as offering many solutions to the world’s current environmental challenges.

A wool industry leader entered uncharted waters when invited to speak to an international cotton conference in Bremen last week. . . 


Rural round-up

16/03/2015

Dairy firms confident of safety, security systems – Alan Williams:

Dairy manufacturing companies are very confident of their food safety systems against any risk of the 1080 threat but one has stepped up its security.

Synlait Milk has brought in round the clock physical security checks for site access, including photo identification for all staff at its plant in central Canterbury. . .

Women must invite themselves –  Annette Scott:

A report suggesting business women need to get more assertive to arrest the dramatic fall in women around New Zealand board tables has been challenged by industry experts.

 Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) chief executive Zelda de Villiers acknowledged it was a challenge for women to get their feet under the table in the male-dominated agribusiness sector. . .

Picked, washed, packed and stacked, it’s all about apples  – Lynda van Kempen :

This year, almost more than 10,000 tonnes of Otago apples will be traded in more than 60 countries around the world. The apple industry has kept the van der Voort family in business in Central Otago for 50 years. Their Ettrick apple export packhouse is one of New Zealand’s largest. Reporter Lynda van Kempen follows some early season Cox’s Orange apples, as careful hands and high technology guide the way from picking and packing to trucking out.

Collected from home, a quick bath, a spin through the packhouse and then chilling out on a leisurely sea cruise before meeting the fans overseas – that’s the lot of an Otago-grown export apple. . .

Sheep and beef are doing it tough in drought – Tim Cronshaw:

The drought has put a dent in the incomes of South Island sheep and beef farmers, particularly those with lower beef cattle ratios.

South Island prices at about $4.95 a kilogram for an average 17 kilogram lamb are back about 12 per cent from $5.55/kg the same time last year. A gap lies between southern returns and North Island prices of $5 to $5.10/kg.

Lamb volumes have increased as farmers cull more stock during the drought through much of the South Island’s east coast. Volumes were up 11 per cent at 9.1 million lambs the middle of last month from 8.2 million the same time last year. . .

Alliance steps up its links with rural women – Tim Cronshaw:

Half of the Alliance Group’s 5000 shareholders are women and the meat processor and exporter is strengthening its links with them to help them improve their decision-making on farms.

A Nelson visit to a meat plant today followed a Christchurch workshop yesterday and a visit to Alliance’s Smithfield site in South Canterbury this week.

The workshops were devised after it was noticed that women sometimes felt uncomfortable attending Alliance meetings and a pilot was held in Invercargill last year. . .

New Zealand’s first purpose-built calf feeding system has been developed:

Inspired by a European farming system, but with an understanding that New Zealand farms are different, a local engineer has developed New Zealand’s first purpose built calf feeding system. CalfSMART has the potential to reduce labour costs and lead to overall herd improvements.

New Zealand has nearly 12,000 dairy herds that rear cohorts of calves ranging in size from less than 100 to over 250. The largest 15% of New Zealand’s dairy farms rear 35% of the entire country’s replacement heifers. Traditionally, calf rearing has been carried out by farming families, however in recent years as farms grow in size this work has increasingly been carried out by a migratory workforce. . .

 

 


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