Rural round-up

November 13, 2017

Fresh Food – Out of Reach:

Amy Wiggins writes in the front page of the NZ Herald on Friday November 10th 2017, that as the prices for fresh fruit and vegetables rise they are becoming out of reach for low income families. The article goes on to say that many New Zealanders are struggling to afford to buy enough fresh produce to feed their families a healthy diet.

I agree with both of these statements and in fact when you take into account the land use restrictions on the horticultural industry, contained within the Healthy Rivers Proposed Plan Change 1 (PC1); this is going to create extremely serious food security problems into the future.

A huge percentage of the country’s population rely on the Waikato Region’s fruit and vegetable producers for security of their food supply and with the restrictions on horticultural land use that occur as a result of PC1, they are going to lose the security of supply that they currently have. . . 

TPP back on with new name, Canada apparently back on board – Pattrick Smellie:

Nov. 11 walked away from the deal, but returned to the negotiating table claiming “a misunderstanding”.

Briefing New Zealand media ahead of the APEC Leaders’ Retreat in Da Nang, Viet Nam, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said : “I wouldn’t want to speculate but I think probably we’re in a more stable place than we were yesterday.”

Asked whether Canada was back in the tent and TPP was back on she said: “I would characterise it in that way, yes.” . . 

Red Meat sector welcomes TPP deal and its significant boost to regional growth:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) welcome the announcement a deal has been struck to move ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which is now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, says the CPTPP will deliver significant gains to the sector. . . 

The death of rural programmes – Craig Wiggins:

The announcement that NZ on Air funding has been cut for the Rural Delivery television programme has not come as a surprise to me, having witnessed the demise of support for the Young Farmer Contest from those in control of the programming and funding of what we get to watch on television.

The time slot allocations and in turn the lack of viewers engaged in the topics being covered don’t stack up against the mind-dumbing and increasingly popular reality television series we get these days.

It’s a sign of the times that people turn on their televisions to escape reality and be entertained, not really informed now.

I would suggest that if Country Calendar didn’t have as much of an entertainment and voyeuristic content as it does then it would be in for the chop as well. . . 

Sheep shearing in New Zealand -World’s toughest jobs:

If you think you’re tough enough to do sheep shearing in New Zealand, here’s what you need to know…

About the job

Summer (December to March) is usually peak season, but this can vary by location and type of sheep, and there tend to be some opportunities available throughout the year.

The work is physically hard and whilst sheep shearing is a skill that takes years to perfect, the more basic work is ‘crutching’ which is something you can learn in a week or so. Crutchers shave just the rear legs of the sheep to keep them clean through the summer. In general, crutchers get paid around $0.50 per sheep and after a couple of weeks should be churning out around 400 – 600 sheep per day, or $200 – $300 per day (£103-£154).  . .


Thanks Frank Torley

March 28, 2016

Veteran broadcaster and the man who for many was  the voice of Country Calendar, Frank Torley, has died.

Frank retired as the narrator on Country Calendar in February because of problems with his vocal cords. . . 

Frank helped on his uncle’s farm as a teenager and was employed as a stock and station agent.

In addition to his broadcasting career, Frank was a small-scale kiwifruit orchardist in the 1980s.

He also owned a lifestyle block in Rangitikei.

Frank was committed to the craft of television. He loved words, his family said. 

“He’d be on the road shooting stories, then spend hours in his home office tapping out scripts on his computer or setting up the next story over the phone.” . . 

The news comes just weeks after the well-loved New Zealand farming series turned 50 years.

After working on farms in his earlier years, Frank he joined a stock firm.

He was plucked from the Feilding saleyards to join the NZBC as a rural broadcaster.

That eventually led to a job on Country Calendar. He has remained with the show ever since.

Frank became producer in the early 1980s, a role he continued until 2006.

He then went back to his first love: back on the road directing programmes.

In 2014 and 2015, he narrated all the Country Calendar episodes.

 He as a wonderful broadcaster.

He made country life and work accessible and interesting  to people who never stepped foot on a farm without dumbing-down the subject.

In doing so he made a significant contribution to bridging the rural-urban divide.


Rural round-up

April 14, 2015

That is indeed a beautiful sound – Gravedodger:

Since around 0645 we have had the sound of rain on the roof,  steady and after two hours, around 13mm.

Here in Akaroa we were not as desperate as many pockets  around North Canterbury, a friend from Cheviot next door to where we spent three years in the mid 60s, is saying it is so parched there is not even any green in gully floors where there is normally some hope of a lunch for a rabbit.

Another comment in Farmers Weekly said their bit of unirrigated country has moved from brown to white. . .

Uneven rules costly – Neal Wallace:

Steps to control agricultural nutrient discharge could add 10c a litre to the cost of producing milk and impose wide-ranging restrictions on land management.

But there is little uniformity in regional council rules.

Most of the county’s 16 regional authorities are still to complete their regional plans but early indications are that each council has its own approach.

Rabobank sustainable farm systems manager Blake Holgate has been following the development and release of environmental regulations and said even neighbouring regional councils such as Otago and Southland have differing rules, creating uncertainty for owners of multiple properties and unknown costs. . .

Heartland Forum shaping up as South Island farming event of the year:

A speakers’ lineup of the who’s who in the primary sector makes this month’s ‘The Future of Heartland Forum’ near Cheviot in North Canterbury, a must attend.

A farmer discussion in Cheviot late last year about the spread of Chilean Needlegrass has since grown into staging a premier forum on the future of agriculture industries in New Zealand.

The event will be held at Te Mania Angus Stud, Conway Flat, Friday, April 17.

Other than Government speakers, the lineup includes; Dame Margaret Bazley from Environment Canterbury, Winton Dalley the Hurunui Mayor, Peter Townsend the Chief Executive of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, Craige and Roz Mackenzie and Sam and Mark Zino, award winning farmers, Nicole Masters of the New Zealand Biological Farmers Association and Dr William Rolleston the National President of Federated Farmers New Zealand. . .

 Robotic milking can revive kids’ interest:

Robotic milking is coming of age in New Zealand and interest has surged in the last six months, DeLaval’s Grant Vickers says.

“I think it’s because a number of installations in New Zealand are working well,” he told Dairy News. “The perception of risk has probably lessened.”

The current inquiries, for robotics and barns, are from all sizes of farms and will result in installations in the North and South Island. 

Vickers spoke about robotic milking during a Dairy Women’s Network field trip to a 600-cow wintering barn as part of the organisation’s ‘Entering Tomorrow’s World’ conference. . .

What’s behind the longevity of Country Calendar? – Julian O’Brien:

Soon after I started producing Country Calendar, we had a minor crisis.

We thought we’d found a simple and elegant way to make new opening titles – but it quickly turned into a nightmare. 

We needed footage of people involved in typical rural activities, but to integrate the shots into our titles, they had to be shot against a neutral background – ideally a green-screen set up in a studio. 

Sheep in a studio? Achievable, but someone needs to be ready with a broom afterwards.

New Zealand’s top shearers in a studio? Impossible, if you want to keep the feel of a shearing competition – but we desperately wanted the shot.

As we pondered this, we had a crew shooting part of a story at the Taumarunui Shears – but there was no neutral background at the event to do a titles shot. . .

NZPork Annual Report 2014:

The NZPork Annual Report 2014, released today, reflects on the importance of the New Zealand consumer to the future of its business.

NZPork Chairman Ian Carter points out that it’s important to remember that our consumer is our neighbour and that we are touch with what consumers want and believe.

“We need to provoke interest in our product and our industry. We need to invoke confidence in our production standards and systems. And we need to evoke desire for our product,” said Ian Carter.

The report states the industry recognises that little is understood about pig farming in general amongst many New Zealanders, particularly the requirements of caring for its animals. In light of this, it is taking steps to be more transparent and advocate confidence to its consumers via its production systems and standards. . .

 Silage smells and what they mean – Ian Williams:

I grew up in town and one of my distinct memories of summer and autumn when we went to visit our farming friends was the smell of silage. 

As a kid, silage always seemed to stink and it is a smell which has been imprinted on my brain.

Now I work with the stuff. I even have a personalised number plate with the word SILAGE on it! Whenever I  introduce myself to people from town and they ask me what I do and I mention the word silage, they instantly screw up their noses and say something like “How can you work with that stuff, it stinks?” or they ask “Are you still married?” . .  .

How to install a ready-made food making business on your farm:

Making the transition from being a primary producer to processing and selling your own produce has become considerably cheaper, easier and less stressful thanks to an Anglo-French company that has created a new process that effectively builds a ‘barn inside a barn’.
Create-a-cabin has led a revolution in French farming by rapidly installing food-safe, highly flexible, and technically sophisticated food preparation rooms without the need for planning permission.
Across the Channel, Create-a-cabin’s custom-made, modular building shells have been erected quickly and cheaply for cheese-makers, poultry abattoirs, jam kitchens, meat packers, fish smokers and many more, allowing farmers to control at least one more link in the food production chain, as well as adding value to their product and thus  commanding a higher price. . .


Patrick George Morrison CMG – 25.4.31 – 26.5.14

June 1, 2014

One of Country Calendar’s early programmes was screening when we got to the Darfield Recreation Centre for Pat Morrison’s funeral on Friday.

He was a young man when it was filmed, about 50 years ago, but the programme showed Pat had already achieved a lot in and for farming and the community.

He continued to do even more.

Tributes could only touch on all he had done and done so well.

However, you could have walked in to the service not knowing him, and come out with a deep appreciation of him as a farmer, farming leader, community stalwart, family man and friend.

Tim Cronshaw writes:

Retired Darfield farmer Pat Morrison will be remembered for his relentless energy as the founding chairman driving out the Central Plains Water (CPW) irrigation scheme.

The farmer, irrigation champion and big business director died this week in his early 80s.

In a ceremony last month marking the first turn of the sod by Prime Minister John Key, Morrison confided that, along with others, he had spent as many as 800 days working on the scheme.

Longtime friend Fred Bull said if the truth was known, he’d probably devoted more of his time.

“It would be 800 full days because there was a lot of weeks he was in Christchurch for a day or two and I don’t think it would be there without his tenacity.”

During a long farming history Morrison was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and AC Cameron Medal and recognised for his services to farming in the honours list in the 1990s.

His commitment to public duty began as secretary of the local cricket club in 1951 and more than 60 years later he was still an active director on the CPW board, resigning as chairman after nine years in 2012.

He served with Federated Farmers, the Young Farmers Club and Malvern A & P Association and was a director of the BNZ bank. He took on the hard jobs as chairman of the New Zealand Wool Board and New Zealand Wool Services International and was a chief opponent of a proposal to put a landfill in the Malvern Hills.

Morrison had the mix of business and farming skills and connections through the industry to make him the perfect choice to lead Central Plains Water, said board member and Buddle Findlay partner Willy Palmer.

“He was respected by everyone and gave everything to any cause he pursued and did it with style and with a great sense of humour. … I don’t believe anyone else had the necessary skills to take Central Plains from a start-up company to where it got to when he resigned as chairman.” . . .

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairwoman Jeanette Maxwell said Morrison was respected by farmers for his work with Canterbury irrigation and before that with the wool industry.

“Back when I was a little girl he did a lot of work in the wool industry. He was a strong rural man and passionate about his industry. Along the way he provided strong leadership and would really drive to get things achieved.” . . .

He was a good man who gave far more than he got. His sudden death has left a big hole in his family, farming, the community and New Zealand.


Rural round-up

March 22, 2014

Chinese trade target sky-high – Hugh Stringleman:

Prime Minister John Key and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to aim for $30 billion of bi-lateral trade between New Zealand and China by 2020.

That would be an increase of 65% over the total of two-way trade last year, when NZ sold China almost $10b of exports, mostly from the primary sector, and imported $8.2b.

In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing they also agreed to modernise the free-trade agreement between the two countries.

“We have great confidence that the coming years will see trade between us increase at a very fast pace,” Key said. . .

No time to penny-pinch on TB – James Houghton:

Looking at the week that was, we have seen Fish & Game come out with a survey full of leading questions, three of our top agricultural science centers lose Government funding, and the Ministry for Primary Industries taking Fonterra to court. One might take that as a bad week, but this is a standard one for agriculture.

What is important to note is that we deal with a lot of negativity on a day-to-day basis and part of that is because we hold ourselves to a very high standard. However, looking at an average week you can get drowned in the negativity and lose sight of the bigger picture. All these things that are happening around us can seem like a blur of madness, some are but some things are for the big picture, for our children, and theirs.

Locally, we are dealing with the Waikato regional draft Annual Plan, which the council are looking to withdraw their direct funding from the national strategy of pest eradication. The National Pest Strategy, funded by the Animal Health Board, has been focusing on high-risk areas, such as Waikato, to rid the country of TB. The work is achieved by eradicating possums, with TB, from the province, and is spear headed by TB Free New Zealand and OSPRI. . .

The nitty gritty of the nitrate debate –   Lynda Murchison:

We are a part of the water quality discussion in some shape or form, and we get our information from many sources.  A major focus has been on nitrogen losses from farming. If nitrogen is one of the key ingredients in this national conversation, it ought to be explained beyond the notion that it is all about cows in streams.  The science can be complex and the explanations mind-boggling; here’s my simple geographer-farmer take on it.

Why should we care how nitrogen loss is managed? Farmers care because their future flexibility and thus viability is at stake, and like most New Zealanders they want a sustainable future that allows for agricultural growth whilst enjoying healthy waterways. The rest of the population should care because the flexibility and productivity of farming, our ability to feed the world, is what makes New Zealand tick.

Recently, the Ministry for Primary Industries revised their projections for earnings in the primary sector for the 2013-14 year, up another $4.9 billion to $36.5 billion. From that, the direct economic contribution farmers make to the Christchurch economy is estimated at $750 million per year, an impressive feat. One can only assume that contribution is even more significant in smaller provincial cities and towns. . .

Let’s Broadcast Rural New Zealand – Jamie Mackay:

It was the only option available but watching the excellent on-line live stream of the Golden Shears Open final was yet another salutary reminder of how  mainstream media in this country, most notably television, pays lip service to farming and rural New Zealand in general.

Country Calendar is an institution on New Zealand television, only bettered by Coronation Street for longevity. Heck, its most loved voice Frank Torley would probably give Ken Barlow a run for his money for length of tenure on the telly.  

I don’t wish to sound dismissive about the iconic Country Calendar because it is a rural flagship and rates well in its 7pm Saturday spot.  However, I would argue it’s a show designed more for townies than rural folk, as can be attested by the prevalence of quirky lifestyle stories it features.

But what Country Calendar does prove is there’s an appetite out there for television featuring rural New Zealand.  However, this message is not getting through the solid craniums (euphemism for thick skulls) of television programmers. . .

Homewood Run – Lashings of meat right way to eat -Alan Emmerson:

Those who have read my columns will know my philosophy of not getting to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

I can remember, as a relatively young journalist, of the panic over saturated fat, the health risks associated with eating meat and dairy products.

Back then the doomsayers were trying to convert the world to mung beans and the like, for the good of their health of course.

Fortunately few listened and we continued eating meat, butter, and cheese.

Now, according to an article in the New York Times, the myths have been dispelled. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)  – Greg Peterson:

Many have probably seen or heard about Chipotle’s commercial, “The Scarecrow” and their recent video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Chipotle claims these spots are shedding light on the “inhumane” and “unsustainable” nature of “industrial farming.” They try to use the videos to inform people of the perceived problems with the current food system, such as the difference between meat that is ethically raised and meat that isn’t. Their approach seems genuine and sincere at first and is attracting a lot of attention from consumers. I’m certain that Chipotle is doing a lot of positive things with their “food with integrity” approach and to be clear, I do agree with the general ideals Chipotle claims they are supporting:

  • The consumer does deserve healthy meat from humanely raised animals
  • The family farmer is who should be raising their food
  • Ethical behavior should be of greater concern than profit.

What I don’t agree with is Chipotle’s definitions of family farmers, humanely raised animals, and ethical behavior. . .


Baacodes link producers to purchasers

June 6, 2011

We’d just come back from a week visiting farms including one which supplies Icebreaker when I bought a t-shirt.

Hoping to find it was made with the wool from our friends’ farm I checked the baacode . This links producers to purchasers by enabling buyers to find where the raw material for Icebreaker clothes was grown and introduces them to the people who grow it.

The merino wool in my t-shirt wasn’t from Middlehurst Station which we’d visited but it did come Mt Nicholas Station which is run by other friends who featured on Country Calendar a couple of weeks ago.

The programme and the baacode clips are wonderful advertisements for high country farming and farmers.


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