Rural round-up

01/08/2022

Look up tables undersell carbon capture efforts – RIchard Rennie:

Latest data shows significant disparities between actual averages and the tables.

Farmers and small woodlot owners are missing out on thousands of dollars in carbon payments due to carbon estimation, or look-up tables, falling well short on trees’ actual carbon storage ability.

Forest owners with over 100ha use Field Measurement Assessment (FMA) data, an actual in-forest sampled measurement to assess carbon sequestration. But those with less than 100ha use the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) look-up tables that offer estimates of carbon storage by species.

MPI’s latest FMA data averaged across the country highlights the significant disparities between actual averages and the look-up tables. . . 

As Australia beefs up sheep tracing should NZ follow suit? – Country Life:

New Zealand’s system of tracing sheep movements around the country could be a weak link in protecting against foot and mouth disease, according to a biosecurity risk expert.

However, Aaron Dodd of the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA), says overall New Zealand is in a “really good position” to deal with any outbreak.

Farmers here use a paper-based system to identify and trace whole mobs of sheep as flocks move between farms, saleyards and slaughterhouses, although the industry is encouraging farmers to move online.

The tracing system for sheep is different from the system for cattle and deer, which must be individually tagged under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme. . .

Land of milk and honey – Alice Scott:

A Papakaio farmer’s passion of being in the outdoors has paid off with a win in the ApiNZ national honey awards.Steve Kirkman agrees he quite literally comes from the land of milk and honey.

The contract dairy milker is also a commercial honey producer and recently his Hyde Honey Co won three medals at the ApiNZ National Honey Competition, including a gold medal in the clear honey category.

Mr Kirkman, who farms at Papakaio with his wife Belinda and their three children, entered their honey into the competition for the first time this year.

“We wanted to enter to get some feedback and find out what it might take to perhaps one day win a medal. We certainly didn’t expect to do as well as we did.” . . 

Kiwifruit growers to vote on expanding sun gold variety year round – Sally Murphy:

Kiwifruit growers can now vote on whether they think Zespri should increase plantings of the lucrative SunGold variety in existing production locations overseas.

The kiwifruit marketer wants to increase plantings in Italy, France, Greece, Korea and Japan by up to 10,000 hectares to ensure it has SunGold to sell all year round.

Voting on the proposal opened on 28 July and growers have until 24 August to cast their vote; the idea needs 75 percent of growers support to pass.

Company chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert said the current approval of 5000 hectares for Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit outside of New Zealand was not going to produce sufficient fruit to achieve 12-month supply in key markets. . . 

MPI reminds farmers stock transport companies are checking NAIT declaration :

The Ministry for Primary Industries is reminding farmers that stock transport companies are checking their cattle and deer are tagged and registered under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme.

Under the NAIT scheme all cattle or deer must be fitted with a NAIT tag and registered in the NAIT system by the time the animal is 180 days old, or before the animal is moved off farm.

MPI’s national manager of animal welfare and NAIT compliance Gray Harrison says transporting an untagged animal is an offence and transporters could be liable unless the truck driver has a declaration from the supplier stating the animals are tagged and registered.

“Under recently changed rules, livestock transporters can request a declaration as an alternative to physically checking for tags. This recognises that checking individual cattle for NAIT tags early in the morning when it is dark, ahead of a busy schedule of other stops, is easier said than done.” . . 

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2207/S00440/new-zealands-top-bacon-and-ham-announced.htm

https://www.levernews.com/governments-are-ignoring-an-easy-climate-fix/


Rural round-up

02/05/2022

Fonterra is well-placed to win Kiwi acclamation as corporate champion – Point of Order :

Can  Fonterra, with  its capital restructured,  become   the national champion,  it  was always  intended to be?.

The  stars   are  aligned  as  they  never have been before.

The  dairy  giant  has  the  products,  the  bosses,  the  markets, the  support of almost  all  its suppliers,  plus  the  government’s  backing.

It seems the  high  international prices  currently  prevailing  will  persist  for  another  season, and  maybe  two, which  would  be  the  longest stretch   in  Fonterra’s 20-years- or-so history. . . 

Fonterra expands seaweed trial, Fonterra farmers have first access :

Fonterra expands on-farm trials of methane reducing Asparagopsis seaweed, as part of the Fonterra’s commitment to helping solve the methane challenge.

In partnership with Australian company Sea Forest, Fonterra is looking at the potential Asparagopsis seaweed has in reducing methane in a grass-fed farming system.

Fonterra General Manager of Sustainability APAC Jack Holden says our grass-fed farming model makes Fonterra one of the most carbon efficient producers of dairy in the world. “However, we have an aspiration to be net zero by 2050 and are investing in R&D and partnerships to help find a solution to reducing methane emissions.”

CSIRO research has shown that Asparagopsis seaweed has the potential to reduce emissions by over 80 per cent in laboratory trials, and while Fonterra understands the reductions will vary out of the lab, all reductions count. . . 

Feedback sought of draft code of welfare for dairy cattle :

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), the independent Ministerial advisory committee on animal welfare, is calling for feedback on a new draft code of welfare for dairy cattle.

NAWAC has reviewed the existing code of welfare for dairy cattle and is consulting on updated minimum standards and recommendations for best practice.

The objective is to lift the codes to address changes in good practice, available technology and science, and the explicit recognition of sentience in the Animal Welfare Act. It is also consulting on recommendations for regulations.

“The existing code of welfare has gone a long way towards ensuring good animal health and welfare outcomes for our dairy cattle, but we wanted to review the code to ensure it remains fit for purpose,” NAWAC chairperson Dr Gwyneth Verkerk said. . . 

Market garden on farm provides staff with healthy vege boxes – Country Life:

Environmental and social trials are underway on a dairy farm near Ashburton.

Rhys and Kiri Roberts are comparing conventional farming with a regenerative system, they’re giving staff more work flexibility and are providing them with free farm-grown food.

“Offering your team vegetables in this climate at the moment is just such a fantastic thing to be doing,” Rhys says.

Rhys is CEO of Align Farms. The business has eight farms milking 5000 cows and employs 30 people in mid-Canterbury. . . 

Dairy commodity price rises drive increase in March exports :

The value of total good exports rose strongly in March, driven by increases in dairy products, beef, and aluminium, Stats NZ said today.

These increases were mainly the result of higher prices.

In March 2022, total goods exports rose $978 million (17 percent) from March 2021 to reach $6.7 billion.

Exports of dairy products (milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group) led the rise, up $461 million (30 percent) to $2.0 billion in March 2022. . . 

Livestock guardian dogs  :

When most people think of a flock, they just think of sheep. But if you look closely, you’ll spot a few large white-coated canines calmly at the center and possibly a few darker faced dogs circling the perimeter. These are livestock guardian dogs and their job is to act as an early warning and protection system for the sheep. Year after year, these sheep then go on to provide different types of wool which is spun for use in clothing and home goods. The protection dogs are hard to spot unless you know what you’re looking for. But make no mistake, you’ll meet them in a hurry if you walk up on a sheep or lamb as an unfamiliar face. And you won’t just meet one or two. Typically ranchers employ multiple dogs, based on the size of the flock and the predator challenge of their grazing areas. This natural pack comes together to face down other packs of predators or larger single predators like bears.

According to Cat Urbigkit, a Wyoming based cattle-and-sheep rancher, author, and expert on the training and use of guardian animals, the working sheep dog isn’t typically the friendly mop-haired “sheep dog” so popular in suburban neighborhoods. “Guardian dogs are large but calm animals that have developed instincts to protect flocks. They’re serious athletes, comfortable living out-of-doors, and easy-going around people,” explains Urbigkit. “This job is nothing new for these dogs. These breeds have pedigrees that are thousands of years old.” Indeed, many livestock protection dogs come from the mountainous regions of ancient Turkey, Mongolia, Spain, and Italy, but the one thing they all share in common is loyalty and courage in the face of danger. . . 


Rural roundup

04/04/2022

Food crisis coming farming leader warns – Tim Cronshaw:

The price of diesel has gone up so much that it cost Valetta grain farmer David Clark $4000 to fill up his combine harvester.

By the time he had finished harvesting a milling wheat crop that night it was empty and needed filling again.

A full tank only cost him $1700 last year.

Mr Clark said there was no alternative, but to pass on the extra cost to shoppers who would have to pay more for their bread. . . 

Surfing for Farmers hits the right spot – Nick Brook:

A nationwide initiative supporting farmers’ mental and physical health was a roaring success in its first season at Kaka Point in South Otago.

Surfing For Farmers (SFF) was launched in Gisborne in 2018 by Stephen Thomson after seeing how pressure on the rural sector was hurting farmers at an alarming rate.

The programme now operates at 18 beaches throughout New Zealand.

‘‘As much as we love this industry, the stress of the job can get on top of you. . . 

Govt drought support doesn’t go far enough – Simmonds

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says the Government’s declaration of a drought in Southland is big on talk, but small on funding support.

Yesterday, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the current drought condition in the Southland, Clutha and Queenstown Lakes districts as a medium-scale adverse event.

The adverse event classification unlocks up to $100,000 in Government funding to support farmers and growers until October 2022, O’Connor says.

“The drought coupled with pandemic disruption to meat processing has contributed to added strain on people. . . 

Looking for the perfect peanut – Country Life:

Can New Zealand grow peanuts suitable for peanut butter?

To find out, eight peanut varieties are currently being trialled in Northland and one looks particularly promising…

A text of GPS coordinates leads Country Life to a paddock of peanuts in the Far North. It can’t be spotted from the road.

“It’s by design,” laughs Greg Hall from the Whangārei development agency Northland Inc. “It stops people ripping off our peanuts.” . . 

The roots go deep at Wanaka vineyard – Cosmo Kentish-Barnes:

Rippon winemaker Nick Mills looks across his family vineyard on the western flank of the Upper Clutha Basin, overlooking Lake Wānaka.

He says the land has its own spirit that he feels strongly.

Asked by Country Life to elaborate, he puts it like this:

“This land is about belonging, connections, love, family, team, voice, being blessed to be a place that grows grapes… that can talk with warmth and accuracy to this beautiful place.” . . 

Taking Stock: No shearers? – the wool industry hits a dilemma – Stephen Burns:

There have been many issues which have threatened the existence of the wool industry during the past 200 years when Merino sheep have been bred in Australia.

Some have been divisive to the point of pitting neighbour against neighbour, family against family – think of the troubles to introduce a Reserve Price Scheme in the early 1960’s or think again about the rancorous attempts to introduce wide combs.

Each were a cause of much heartache and dispute at the time but wide combs are now so readily accepted, it is a wonder so much time was sweated in denying their use.

That the Reserve Price Scheme eventually came undone only caused great financial pain to the many woolgrowers who continued to breed Merino sheep for their fleeces only to see them added to the wool stockpile until that accumulation was eventually sold. . . 


Rural round-up

22/02/2022

Scenery is what ‘makes’ it for young shepherd – Sally Rae:

Life is no trial for young North Otago shepherd Mikayla Cooper.

Miss Cooper (23) has embraced living and working in the high country, where she reckons it is the scenery that “makes it”.

She works at Dome Hills Station, a large-scale sheep and beef property near Danseys Pass farmed by the Douglas family.

It was a much larger and more extensive property than her home farm at Raglan, where her family moved to from Te Kauwhata at the end of her year 8 studies, Miss Cooper said. . . 

From mother to daughter a smooth transition – Country Life:

After single-handedly running Rees Valley Station for nearly 20 years, Iris Scott was more than happy to hand over the reins to her daughter Kate.

The 18,000-hectare property at the head of Lake Wakatipu is home to about 5000 merino sheep and 200 cattle.

When Iris’ husband died in 1992, Iris decided to carry on farming the land that had been in the Scott family for more than 100 years. She was also running a vet practice in Glenorchy.

She admits it was a great relief to her when her daughter Kate finally expressed an interest in taking over the farm. . . 

Demand strong as $1b wine grape harvest gets underway :

The first grapes of the 2022 vintage have been harvested, with ongoing international demand and low stock levels meaning that winemakers are hoping for a significantly larger harvest this year.

“The 2021 harvest, while of exceptional quality, was 19% smaller than the previous year. Over the past 12 months this has forced wineries to draw down on stocks to maintain their place in market. New Zealand wine sales for 2021 were 324 million litres, meaning they were 48 million litres more than was actually produced in the 2021 vintage. This stock drawdown highlights that we desperately need a bigger harvest in 2022, to replenish cellars, and help satisfy international demand,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Over the past 12 months many New Zealand wineries have faced tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets, and the ongoing increase in international demand has placed huge strain on already depleted stocks. For some wineries, there has been quite simply just not enough wine to go around,” says Philip. . . 

Drop in infant formula sales hits A2 Milk’s bottom line :

Specialty dairy company A2 Milk’s bottom line has been halved, as it continues to face significant disruption to its infant formula sales in China.

KEY NUMBERS:

(for the six months ended 31 December 2021 vs year ago)

  • Net profit: $59.6 million vs $120m
  • Revenue: $660.5m vs $677m
  • Underlying earnings: $97.5m vs $178.5m
  • Dividend: no dividend vs 12 cps

A2 Milk chief executive David Bortolussi said despite challenging market conditions in China and volatility caused by the pandemic, it was making good progress to stabilise the business. . . 

Strong demand for solution to urea price spike and regulations :

This season’s record urea prices, coupled with nutrient cap regulations, have seen a lift in the number of dairy farmers changing their fertiliser programmes to lower their nitrogen footprint and costs.

Donaghys Managing Director Jeremy Silva says the company is working at capacity to keep up with renewed demand for their N-Boost nitrogen booster product. Donaghys N-Boost is a proven addition to a fertiliser programme that helps maintain production, while lowering urea application.

“It’s one of the few options out there that can help farmers maintain or lift production off lower nitrogen inputs.”

“We’ve seen the dual impact of high urea pricing and regulations on N come together. The result has been a wave of dairy farmers turning to foliar applications of urea. When N-Boost is added they can cut back their application rates this way to get under the N-cap, and they’re finding they can cut their urea bill and protect their dry matter production.” . . 

Pāmu announces solid half year result:

Pāmu (Landcorp Farming Limited) has announced a net profit after tax (“NPAT”) of $41 million for the half-year ended 31 December 2021.

Pāmu’s EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations), which is its preferred financial measure, was $16 million compared to $14 million in the half-year to December 2020.

Chairman Warren Parker said the result was particularly gratifying as the company managed the ongoing impact of Covid.

“Covid has continued to disrupt our people, which on top of ongoing labour shortages, extreme weather events on the West Coast and in the Manawatu and logistics, processing and availability of farm supplies, has made for a challenging half year,” Dr Parker said. . . 


Rural round-up

13/12/2021

Hands on training to develop future farmers – Colin Williscroft:

AS MOST farmers know, sometimes if you want something to happen you’ve got to get in there and give things a push yourself, rather than wait for action from elsewhere.

That was certainly the case for the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) programme, which recently signed a funding agreement with Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) to help it attract and train more young people in the red meat sector.

After winning the B+LNZ Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year award in 2016, Dan and Tam Jex-Blake realised that if they wanted to do something about the skill shortage facing the sector, they had to be proactive themselves.

Jex-Blake says there was and still is an absolute need to get more skilled people on-farm and the pipeline of young people wanting to enter the industry was drying up. . . 

 

Passion for growing agri-business education – Kate Taylor:

The introduction of agribusiness to New Zealand’s secondary school curriculum was a team effort, but continues to be driven by the enthusiasm of Waikato teacher Kerry Allen.

Kerry grew up near Rotorua on a dry-stock farm that has been in her family for more than 100 years. She worked in a plant nursery at weekends, did a horticulture degree at Lincoln University and then teacher training in Christchurch. After teaching horticulture and then science at Hillcrest High School for 18 years, Kerry took a new curriculum and resource writing position with St Paul’s Collegiate School in 2014.

The idea of an agribusiness curriculum grew from parent feedback that general education wasn’t meeting the needs of the primary sector. St Paul’s introduced agricultural and horticultural science classes, then expanded into agribusiness by using standards from other subjects, re-contextualised in a primary sector context. That worked, but they wanted to take it further as its own subject. They started getting other schools on board and began the process of asking the Ministry of Education to introduce it as a new subject. . .

Deer venture enters new territory – Sally Rae:

“We live it. We love it.”

North Otago farmer Bryce Burnett is talking about his family’s passion for the deer industry and venison which they have been producing at their Kauru Hill property for nearly 40 years.

It was his father Russell who made the move into deer, during the early stages of the industry, buying 30 hinds from Mark Acland in 1982 to add to his sheep farming operation.

Bryce took over in 2000 with his wife Janice, and, two years later, the couple decided to focus solely on deer on the 360ha property, inland from Oamaru. . . 

Bird highway takes flight – Country Life:

There’s a new highway taking shape at the southernmost tip of the North Island but not for sheep trucks or milk tankers.

Farmers like Stu Weatherstone, who operates one of Wairarapa’s largest dairy farms, are getting in behind the scheme to create a bird corridor across the valley.

The four year Tonganui Corridor project linking the Aorangi range in the east and the Remutaka mountains in the west involves planting and protecting tens of thousands of trees on strips and pockets of farmland in the South Wairarapa valley.

It’s hoped the corridor will eventually link the ranges and allow birds, insect life and other native species to flourish across the basin. . . 

Wine industry commences major research programme to protect and enhance New Zealand sauvignon blanc :

Bragato Research Institute (BRI) is excited to announce today that through a partnership with the government, work has begun on its Sauvignon Blanc Grapevine Improvement Programme. The research programme will develop new variants of New Zealand’s premier wine varietal, Sauvignon Blanc, to make the wine industry both more resilient and more sustainable. More resilient by identifying traits such as drought and frost resistance, and more sustainable by seeking natural resistance to pests and diseases.

“The New Zealand wine industry has a substantial track record of coming together to create large R&D projects for the benefit of the industry as a whole. This will be the first national grapevine improvement programme in the country,” says BRI CEO, Jeffrey Clarke.

BRI has designed an accelerated 7-year research programme that will apply the latest genome sequencing technology, after using established tissue culture techniques. This will allow BRI to create up to 20,000 entirely new variants of contemporary New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and then screen them to identify plants that exhibit the most useful traits selected by the wine industry. . . 

‘Replacing meat with highly processed food would repeat the health disasters of the 1970s’ – Dr Gary Fettke:

Wading through decades of nutrition research led orthopedic surgeon Gary Fettke and his wife Belinda to discover how health concerns over meat consumption have been falsified by statistical manipulation, misinformation, and biased promotion, and underlined the propaganda war designed to create a fear of meat and  drive its replacement with highly processed plant products. Dr Fettke outlined the outcomes of his extensive research in his opening statement to the Senate Inquiry into definitions of meat and other foods earlier this week, which appears in full below.

THE 1970’s saw the blame pointed at saturated fat and the introduction of low fat, sugary processed foods.

That was a health disaster.

We cannot repeat that with the demoniSation of meat and replacement with more highly processed and fortified foods. . .


Rural round-up

29/11/2021

Which face do we believe – Peter Burke:

When Covid-19 first arrived in New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern made great play of the fact that it would be the primary sector – and that means rural NZ – would be the saviour of the economy.

Agriculture and the supporting processing and supply chain workers and farmers were deemed essential, and to their great credit these people have delivered 100% and more.

But if perchance, or maybe out of morbid curiosity, you tune into Jacinda’s daily sermons from the Beehive, you would struggle to hear the word ‘rural’ mentioned these days.

The vaccine roll-out has been urban driven with percentage rates in Auckland hailed and glorified. It seems to be all about high population numbers, which also means votes, or is that being too cynical? . .

Residents take up arms in Central Otago as rampant rabbits ruin land– Olivia Caldwell:

A plague of rabbits has destroyed thousands of grape vines, chewed through fence posts and rose gardens and left properties in Central Otago potted with holes, costing landowners thousands of dollars.

The trail of destruction has driven some to take up arms – despite never having owned a gun before – and shoot them from their front lawns.

The local authority says the responsibility for dealing with the pests lies with homeowners – a stance which has infuriated some, who say the buck should stop with the council, not them.

In recent months the Otago Regional Council (ORC) has visited more than 300 properties across the rabbit-prone areas of Lake Hayes, Morven Hill, Dalefield, Gibbston Valley and Hawea, and has now emailed hundreds of letters to landowners asking them to come up with their own compliance plan to get rid of rabbits. . . 

Bank opts for woollen carpet – Country Life:

The chief executive of Rabobank was so determined its new Hamilton HQ would have wool carpet he arranged for it to be craned in.

Todd Charteris says it was suggested synthetic carpet squares would be more appropriate because rolls of carpet were too big to be carried in the lift.

He wasn’t having a bar of it.

Rabobank specialises in rural banking and is relocating its head office from Wellington to the third and fourth floors of a central Hamilton building. . . 

Native dairy farmer – Country Life:

A Waikato farming couple will be hanging up their tennis racquets this year after transforming the farm’s tennis court into a native plant nursery.

Dave Swney and Alice Trevelyan started The Native Dairy Farmer and spent the latest Waikato lockdown potting up 22,000 plants now neatly lined up on the court.

Alice estimates they moved about 16 cubic metres of compost.

“Heaps of shovelling,” says Dave. “Some of us farmers have fatter fingers and probably aren’t as good on some of the more delicate jobs but we can get on the end of a shovel and shove a bit of compost.” . . 

First year EIT student chosen as Young Vintner of the Year:

Maddison Airey, a 23-year-old first year Bachelor of Viticulture and Wine Science (BVWSci) student from EIT, has won the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society & Craggy Range Young Vintners Scholarship for 2021.

Maddison received her award at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards dinner last night.

As part of the scholarship, Maddison wins $2,000 funding from the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society and a vintage position at Craggy Range Winery for the harvest season of ’22, and she will also be an associate judge for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards next year.

Maddison says she is excited about the scholarship and the opportunities it will offer her. . . 

‘I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis’: The energy crunch has made fertilizer too expensive to produce, says Yara CEO – Katherine Dunn:

The world is facing the prospect of a dramatic shortfall in food production as rising energy prices cascade through global agriculture, the CEO of Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International says.

“I want to say this loud and clear right now, that we risk a very low crop in the next harvest,” said Svein Tore Holsether, the CEO and president of the Oslo-based company. “I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis.”

Speaking to Fortune on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Holsether said that the sharp rise in energy prices this summer and autumn had already resulted in fertilizer prices roughly tripling.

In Europe, the natural-gas benchmark hit an all-time high in September, with the price more than tripling from June to October alone. Yara is a major producer of ammonia, a key ingredient in synthetic fertilizer, which increases crop yields. The process of creating ammonia currently relies on hydropower or natural gas. . .


Rural round-up

16/11/2021

‘M. bovis’ lessons will fortify system: report – Sally Rae:

An independent review panel is confident the lessons learned from the Mycoplasma bovis incursion — if acted upon — will enable New Zealand to have a “far stronger preparedness platform” for future animal disease incursions.

A review of the cattle disease’s eradication programme found it was on track to achieve a world-first eradication and made recommendations to improve the wider biosecurity system.

It was the largest incursion response ever conducted in New Zealand and, given the country was on track to successful elimination, was a credit to all involved, the report released yesterday said.

No response would ever follow a predictable plan but, in 2017, the readiness and response system was not as well prepared as it was thought to be, it said. . .

Study highlights dangerous disconnect rural hospitals face as specter of Covid-19 looms :

Rural hospital doctors are reporting a lack of support from DHBs during the first Covid-19 outbreak, in new research by the University of Otago.

Dr Kati Blattner, from the University of Otago, says there is a disconnect between different parts of the health system, when it comes to transferring patients, that often ignores both local expertise and the geography.

“This research puts the spotlight on a sector of our health system that’s generally invisible, as we see it out here, at the end of the dripline,” she told Morning Report.

The study involved interviewing 17 senior doctors across New Zealand in 17 different rural hospitals about their experiences planning for the pandemic. It looked specifically at issues in the way of transferring patients to other bigger hospitals so they could receive advanced respiratory care. . .

Fonterra farmers to vote on co-op’s capital structure proposal :

Fonterra has today announced it will proceed with a shareholder vote on the change to the Co-operative’s capital structure, which would give farmers greater financial flexibility and better enable the Co-op’s strategy.

Fonterra Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

The decision to go ahead as planned has been informed by a significant volume of shareholder feedback that shows strong support for the changes.

“The Board is unanimously recommending the changes to our capital structure to put us in the best position to deliver the value outlined in the strategy and protect farmer ownership and control of our Co-op. . .

Federated Farmers partners with NZ YOung Farmers to offer free memberships :

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) is excited to announce Federated Farmers has jumped on board as a benefit partner to offer a complimentary NZYF Federated Farmers Membership, exclusive to its members.

It’s already had a strong response, with more than 100 NZYF members having signed up within the first day of its launch.

With more members seeking tangible benefits, NYF CEO Lynda Coppersmith said she was thrilled to add the NZYF Federated Farmers Membership to the list.

“Providing a direct link with Federated Farmers for our members is going to benefit the sector hugely,” she said. . . 

Testing the waters – Country Life:

Christine Finnigan is scanning the stream bed looking for kākahi.

“I found one and it’s very much alive,” she calls to fellow farmer Kim Bills and ag consultant Terry Parminter.

The freshwater mussels, especially baby ones, are a sign the creek is relatively healthy, even though it is in the middle of Bills’ dairy block.

The stream flows through a lush stand of bush, which has been fenced off from the young bulls bellowing in the distance. . .

HortNZ scholarship applications open to support next-gen growers:

Students considering a career in New Zealand’s growing horticulture industry are encouraged to apply for Horticulture New Zealand’s scholarships.

Applications for HortNZ’s annual undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships are open until 10 December 2021 for the 2022 study period.

HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley says that the scholarship programme supports students who have a special interest in the fruit or vegetable industry to pursue their careers.

“Young people are the future of the horticulture industry. That is why HortNZ offers these scholarships – worth up to $10,000 – to support the next generation of innovators and leaders. . .

FMG Young Farmer of the year 2022 Otago Southland regional finalists announced :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Otago Southland Regional Final have been chosen for the Contest’s 54th season.

Featuring shepherds/sheep and beef farmers, a fencing contractor and rural and agribusiness bankers, only one person will be named 2022 Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

Ben Harmer, Isaac Johnston, Matt Sullivan, Andrew Cowie, Alex Field, George Blyth, Kurt Knarston and James Fox are the top eight competitors in the Otago Southland region, whittled down from 37 competitors over two district contests.

They will go head-to-head at the Otago Southland Regional Final on the 12th of February in Waimumu. . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/11/2021

Feds remain opposed to ‘Three waters’ reform – Sudesh Kissun:

The Government’s decision to push through its ‘Three Waters’ reforms despite widespread opposition is being slammed by farmers and politicians.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says the government’s announcement that Three Waters will be mandatory is a huge call.

“Federated Farmers, a majority of local authorities and many New Zealanders have voiced serious misgivings over the government’s plans for council three waters assets to be transferred to four new mega entities,” says Hoggard. 

“We remain opposed to this plan.” . . .

Blue River Dairy ranked number one in business growth :

Southland-based nutritional products manufacturer Blue River Dairy has taken out the top spot on Deloitte’s 2021 Master of Growth Index.

The rankings for the Deloitte Fast 50 and Master of Growth Index were released on October 28. The accolades recognise businesses that have shown significant growth over the past either three (Fast 50) or five years (Master of Growth). The Master of Growth Index, made up of the 20 fastest growing established businesses, is determined by revenue growth percentage.

Blue River Dairy has reached a staggering 1502% growth since 2017 – the highest percentage in the Index’s history and more than twice the growth of previous winners.

Blue River Dairy developed the world’s first sheep milk nutrition products using exclusively sheep milk protein and today manufactures nutritional products using milks from three different species—sheep, goat and cow. . .

Entrepreneurial farmers use own wool to make blankets, yarn – Country Life:

Angus cattle and merino sheep graze happily at The Grampians, a scenic 3100 hectare station near Culverden that goes from 300 to 1500 metres above sea level.

Third generation farmer Jono Reed has always had a fascination with bulls and cattle. He was only 14 when he started an Angus stud on the property.

“They’re an efficient animal that’s gutsy and can handle the hard times,” he says.

Now known as Grampians Angus, the stud now sells 40 to 50 bulls a year.  In the last on-farm sale the bulls averaged $11,000 each. . . 

Start-stop beginning as contracting season gets under way – Gerald Piddock:

Wet unpredictable weather has meant a sluggish start to the season for the country’s rural contractors.

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for the industry as they cut pasture for silage and plant summer crops.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) president Helen Slattery says heavy rain in parts of Northland had delayed work to get maize in the ground.

“They have had very intermittent and small windows where they have been able to do harvesting and planting,” Slattery said.

Northern Waikato had also been wet, while eastern parts of the region were dry and cold, which she says had delayed pasture growth for cutting grass silage. . . 

Pastoral opportunity assured with Lagoon Hill:

Sheep and beef farmers keen to invest in a quality pastoral property without the intense price competition from foresters have that opportunity in the Wairarapa this spring.

Martinborough property Lagoon Hill at Tutirimuri offers the opportunity to enter or expand a holding in a pastoral breeding unit at a realistic price level, thanks to its covenanted title.

Originally part of the much larger Lagoon Hill station that totalled 4,200ha, today’s title represents the portion of the property remaining in pasture after the rest underwent forestry conversion by its new owners in 2019.

The remaining 654ha includes the property’s original and substantial infrastructure assets. Conditions of its subdivision from the original title are that it remain in pasture and livestock farming for 25 years. . . 

Kaipara block offers potential with lifestyle:

A bare block presenting a blank canvas for home building and horticulture while offering a coastal lifestyle near Dargaville is attracting strong interest in a buoyant rural Northland property market.

The 7ha Redhill Road property at Te Kopuru offers purchasers the potential to capitalise on the district’s developing water reservoir scheme for high value horticultural production.

The easy contour property is presently run as a grazing block. But vendor Sam Biddles says the potential for horticultural development has been heightened, thanks to the nearby Kaipara Water Scheme which is part of the larger Te Tai Tokerau reservoir scheme that includes four major dam sites around Northland. . . 


Rural round-up

18/10/2021

Sector mulls staff vaccination options – Neal Wallace:

The meat industry wants mandatory vaccination of processing staff against covid-19, but says it requires Government help to make that happen.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is high-risk and the Government should extend the same protection to it as the recently announced mandatory vaccination for health and education sector employees.

“At present, our industry is unable to make vaccination a mandatory requirement for employees,” Karapeeva said.

“Although processors could look at making vaccination a health and safety requirement at plants, this is a difficult and complex process and would require companies to undertake an assessment of the different risks of vaccinated people versus unvaccinated people.”  . . 

This sister-run business aims to show people a more sustainable way to eat meat – Carly Thomas:

For the Macdonald sisters, the wild hills of their childhood provided the perfect launching pad for their business, Middlehurst Delivered. These days, working out of a converted garage in Rangiora, Sophie and Lucy are busy showing just how successful a family business can be with a bit of creative thinking.

When Lucy and Sophie Macdonald were kids, Tuesdays were town days. Growing up on Middlehurst Station meant their childhood playground spanned the mighty Kaikōura Ranges – snow-capped in winter, wide and sparse in summer, always changing beneath the big skies and rolling clouds.

Getting to head into town, with all its hustle and bustle, was a real treat. “I remember begging Mum and Dad to move us to town,” says Sophie, 28, laughing.

“It’s only when you get older that you realise what you had. This place is incredible, and I appreciate it now.” . .

Piritaha. Side By Side – Jacqui GIbson:

Twenty-two years ago, Emily Crofoot, 66, and her husband, Anders, moved their family from a 300 acre farm near New York to 7,400 acre Castlepoint Station in coastal Wairarapa. Her goal? To live in a country where farming really mattered. Today, her daughter, Sarah, 30,  has picked up the farming baton, while carving out a vision of her own.

Emily: Was I new to New Zealand when my husband, Anders, and our two children, David and Sarah, moved to Castlepoint in 1998? Not at all. My grandparents and parents had travelled here in the sixties, and my first visit was with my family in 1973, when I was eighteen. I just fell in love with New Zealand. I could see that farmers here were truly valued and were hugely innovative. 

That Kiwi spirit of innovation really appealed to me. In New York State, where I grew up, farming was more traditional and urban sprawl was encroaching on the area. Our farm had been in the family since 1809, but things were tough going because of predators and the extremes in weather.  

As I became more and more interested in farming, New Zealand was the place I looked to for inspiration. In my twenties, I returned here to help out on different sheep and beef farms. I came again a few years later to complete a shearing course in Tolaga Bay. I even applied to study agriculture at Lincoln College – now Lincoln University – but this was in the days before they accepted international students, so I didn’t get in.  . .

Small feet stay warm thanks to Amuri Basin entrepreneur – Country Life:

Tracey Topp started making merino socks for children 16 years ago. Now her Cosy Toes brand has expanded to adult socks and woollen clothing that has buyers all around the world.

Sixteen years ago North Canterbury entrepreneur Tracey Topp had a lightbulb moment. She’d been out shopping for her two young boys.

“I couldn’t find any woollen baby socks, there were no wool socks in any of the shops. All I could find were little acrylic or cotton socks imported from China!” she says.

Tracey found a small knitting mill with a sock making machine suitable for merino yarn. . .

Medicinal herb project gets underway in Taranaki – Catherine Groenestein:

Growers and gardeners around Taranaki are taking part in a project that could spawn a new industry – medicinal herb production.

Shonagh Hopkirk, who is president of the Stratford Herb Society and North Island vice president of the New Zealand Herb Federation, is collecting information on medicinal herbs that could be grown commercially.

“The majority of organic herbs used in quantity in New Zealand are imported, and there is a need for high quality, organic New Zealand-grown herbs,” she said.

“I think it would be fantastic if we could develop our own medicinal herb industry in Taranaki.” . .

 

Farmer is an artist first and foremost – Stephen Burns:

“I’m an artist first before I became a farmer,” Michelle Chibnall replied when asked about her career procession; although she did admit, with the ewes lambing at the time of interview in September, to being a farmer before having time to apply her talent to the paper.

She was sitting in her studio in a back room of the house sited on the small farm west of Narrandera and running alongside the Yanco Creek, where various unframed paintings and sketches adorn the walls and easel.

Naturally, the rooms and hallways of her home are also adorned with finished portraits of family and beloved animals.

Michelle shares the farm with her husband Peter, a truck driver, and a flock of Australian White ewes share equal billing with the Quarter Horses among the river red gums. . . 


Rural round-up

11/10/2021

Pomahaka river project hits half-way mark – Neal Wallace,

A three-year project to plant 230,000 native trees and shrubs and build 100km of riparian fencing on Otago’s Pomahaka River, is officially halfway completed.

The milestone for the Pomahaka Watercare Corridor Planting Project was marked with a function at the Leithen Picnic Area this week.

The $3.7 million project between the Primary Growth Fund, One Billion Trees Fund, 105 local farmers and the Pomahaka Water Care Group is designed to protect the Pomahaka River and its tributaries and offer employment opportunities post-covid-19. . . 

Farmers urged to have a Covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy farmers have been told to make an on-farm plan in case themselves or one of their staff tests positive for covid-19.

That plan had to be easily accessible and documented and communicated to all staff members, DairyNZ covid project manager Hamish Hodgson said in a webinar.

This plan was crucial for the farmer to be ready for covid.

He said he knew of one farmer organising campervans to be brought on-farm if they needed to be able to isolate people. . .

New Johne’s test based on Covid technology :

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd.

Johne’s disease is a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

It is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss.

Herd improvement co-operative LIC has developed a new test which detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater. . .

Hemp industry builds infrastructure to secure its future – Country Life:

New Zealand’s largest hemp grower says farmers around the country want to start growing hemp but, before more come on board, markets need to be developed and infrastructure secured.

Hemp New Zealand’s Dave Jordan says it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

“There are a lot of ideas around and it’s all very well to have the ideas but you have got to actually have action on the ground and show people the benefit of it (hemp) and get customers to buy it.”

The company is working with 100 growers who grow 1000 hectares of hemp.

NZ shearer with 100 wins to pick up clippers again this year – Sally Murphy:

A farmer who was first in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals isn’t ready to stop competing just yet.

Tony Dobbs from Fairlie won his 100th title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last year and considered retiring after being diagnosed with cancer.

This year’s Waimate Shears starts today with some of the country’s top shearers and wool handlers going head to head.

Dobbs was set down to judge the competition so thought he might as well compete too. . . 

On-farm quarantine the next step for ag workers – James Jackson:

After years of drought, farmers are finally facing an opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work as bumper crops loom on the horizon. But labour shortages remain a significant and stubborn hurdle to reaching record-breaking harvests, and primary producers cannot afford to wait for the state to reopen to muster enough workers in time for their summer harvests.

NSW Farmers has joined forces with the National Farmers Federation to call for an immediate solution to get more workers to farms as quickly as possible. We propose a limited pilot of on-farm quarantine for 200 agricultural workers from low-risk countries, commencing when 70 per cent of adults in NSW are fully vaccinated.

A transition to on-farm quarantine arrangements in NSW as vaccination rates rise would alleviate a number of challenges the agriculture sector has faced in the hotel-quarantine model. The availability of hotel quarantine places in NSW is limited and further constrained by Sydney’s disproportionately high intake of returning residents, increasing the likelihood agricultural workers will miss out on a place. . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2021

Access barrier for farmer mental health

A new initiative has been launched to improve access to counselling for farmers.

However, the founder of the charity behind it says accessibility is one of the main barriers for farmers seeking mental health assistance.

The Will to Live Charitable Trust’s ‘Rural- Change’ initiative will see farmers jump the sometimes eight-week queue to access three free private counselling sessions.

The initiative was launched in early September and Will to Live founder Elle Perriam told Rural News that they’d already had 15 farmers sign up. . . 

SWAG focused on the long game – Annette Scott:

The group tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool sector out of the doldrums is on track to deliver.

With a 12-month contract and a $3.5 million dollar budget, the Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) is working on leaving a legacy of a more connected and coordinated forward-looking, consumer-focused wool sector, embracing its place within the natural world.

The group is scheduled to sign-off at the end of this year and chair Rob Hewett is confident it is on track to deliver.

“We will make the grade, it’s a long game, but we are positioning sound opportunities to realise and commercialise several projects and who we are going to do this with,” Hewett said. . . 

Double-muscled sheep breed offers meaty gains -Country Life:

Beltex ram lambs are making farmers around the country lick their chops. Known for its heavy hindquarters and excellent kill weights, the breed is the sheep industry’s new kid on the butcher’s block.

A cross of Belgian and Texel sheep, the Beltex is used primarily for mating with ewes to produce lambs for meat.

Blair Gallagher and his son Hamish run New Zealand’s first Beltex stud at the family’s breeding and finishing property near Mount Somers.

Currently lambing’s in full swing on the scenic hill country farm. . . 

New Zealand red meat sector welcomes Chinese Taipei’s CPTPP membership application:

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) welcome Chinese Taipei’s formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ said the CPTPP was founded with a vision for regional agreement that provided for the accession of new members. Chinese Taipei’s application demonstrates the value of the agreement and its relevance to economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Chinese Taipei has been a longstanding and valuable market for New Zealand red meat products. Trade with Chinese Taipei was worth over $314 million in 2020, with trade in beef products worth over $170 million alone. This means that trade has almost doubled since the signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) in 2013.

“Like all other economies wishing to accede to the CPTPP, Chinese Taipei will need to demonstrate its commitment to the high standards contained in the CPTPP, and with a high-quality deal already in place with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei has demonstrated its commitment to trade liberalisation. . . 

Homegrown talent to tackle pesky pests :

Six of New Zealand’s young minds are setting out to revolutionise pest management, helping efforts to eradicate pests, possums, stoats and rats from New Zealand by 2050.

Supported by Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) and $2.4 million in Jobs for Nature funding, the post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers from University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, and University of Otago will be researching topics as diverse as genetics, biocontrol, audio lures, and social licence.

“Our work is certainly ambitious, but is a critical step to secure New Zealand’s biodiversity. Despite decades of valuable and dedicated conservation efforts, step-changes are needed to achieve our goals. And to achieve those step-changes, New Zealand needs new science talent to drive the cutting edge research needed,” says PF2050 Ltd science director Dan Tompkins.

Tompkins says the programme has garnered international attention with regards to whether its goal can be achieved. . .

The future of Fonterra in Australia – Marian Macdonald:

Australian milk might be some of the best in the world but, Fonterra Australia’s managing director says, it’s not New Zealand milk.

The result is that a chunk of the local business is being put up for sale, with strings attached.

In statements this morning, the giant NZ cooperative announced that it was placing “a greater focus on our New Zealand milk”.

Asked what that meant, Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker said Fonterra had made clear choices around New Zealand milk and would be directing capital towards leveraging its provenance. . . 

 


Rural round-up

21/09/2021

Down on the Farm – Paul Gorman:

Rural life has always had its challenges, but environmental politics and the complexities of modern farming have brought new pressures. For some, the load becomes too much to carry.

When he was a kid, Sam Spencer-Bower used to help out his grandfather Marmaduke in his massive vegetable garden, just across from the farm cottage where he lived with his parents. He didn’t realise at the time that his grandad was something of a legend in Canterbury farming. His family had worked on this land ever since great-great-grandfather Marmaduke Dixon came from Claxby in Lincolnshire and in 1852 established a large farm in North Canterbury, near the gravelly north bank of the Waimakariri River.

In fact, Marmaduke Dixon was one of the first in New Zealand to irrigate his land, initiating flood irrigation from the Waimakariri before 1900. Sam’s grandfather, Marmaduke Spencer-Bower, farmed the land until he was about 95 and wrote a book about the farm and Marmaduke Dixon’s legacy. In other words, Sam Spencer-Bower — middle name Marmaduke — had a lot to live up to.

By the time his grandfather died at the age of 98, Spencer-Bower was already well on the road to taking over the fifth-generation family farm. He was studying for a degree in farm management at Lincoln University. That’s where he met his wife, Jo, who was herself from a sixth-generation farming family (her brother is former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw). At the time, Jo recalls, she liked the fact that Sam had a “sensitive side”, that he was “not a big showman”. . .

Flood fund criteria way off the mark :

Nearly four months on from the floods that devastated much of rural Canterbury, the Government has fallen short of the promises it made to local farmers, says National MP Nicola Grigg.

“Jacinda Ardern and Damien O’Connor flew into Ashburton with cameras rolling to announce a $4 million Canterbury Flood Recovery Fund – indicating that it was just a start, that they were still working to establish the full scale and cost of the damage – and that there would be more where that came from,” says Grigg who is MP for Selwyn.

She says the fund offers grants of up to 50% of eligible costs with a total limit of $250,000 and will contribute to uninsurable costs to enable productive land to return to a productive state as quickly as possible.

“Essentially, it can only be used for the clearing up of flood debris such as boulders, gravel, trees, and silt on productive land. Insurable costs, such as replacing fences, have not been targeted by the fund.” . .

Farmers weigh weather impact across islands – Neal Wallace & Colin Willscroft:

A wet spring is proving a major challenge for southern South Island farmers, causing sleepy sickness, forcing dairy farmers to milk once-a-day, feed out supplements or stand cows off paddocks.

While annual rainfall is about average, the pattern in which has fallen, with up to 85mm already falling this month, is causing sodden ground conditions, especially on the Southland coast

Otago Federated Farmers meat and wool section chair and Clinton farmer Logan Wallace says a dry autumn meant he went into winter with low pasture cover, which required his hoggets to be sent to grazing. He says much of South Otago is similarly short of feed.

He applied urea, which provided a brief respite before a recent cold snap reduced its effectiveness, and recorded more than 75mm of rain in the week to the middle of September, equivalent to that month’s average rainfall. . . 

Paddocks ablaze with colour as sales plummet for daffodils – Country Life:

Sweep into Clandon Daffodil’s driveway on the outskirts of Hamilton you’ll be treated to an unusually vibrant spectacle.

This year, because of Covid-19 restrictions tens of thousands of unpicked daffodils are dancing in the paddock, unable to be sent to Auckland’s flower market.

Clandon is one of New Zealand’s biggest daffodil growers and owner Ian Riddell says Auckland usually takes three quarters of its daffodils.

“We’re getting plenty of comments from people who come in and are saying ‘wow it’s amazing’…It certainly is a sight. It probably won’t happen again. . . 

Call for SI specific residency visa – Neal Wallace:

An immigration adviser is calling for a rethink on how long-term migrant workers are treated, saying up to 6000 in the South Island face an uncertain future.

Ashburton-based Maria Jimenez says these migrants are employed in healthcare, hospitals, construction and agriculture and have an expectation they could apply for residency after meeting work criteria.

Because of covid’s impact on the immigration office, the Government suspended Expressions of Interest (EOI) selections for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) last year, closing a pathway to residency for many migrants.

The Government is also resetting immigration policy in a move to reduce the reliance on imported workers. . . 

Public back gene-editing tech as climate worries rise :

The public want farmers to have access to new precision breeding techniques such as gene-editing to respond better to climate change, a new survey says.

It indicates rising concern about the environment following a summer of droughts and heat waves, including the hottest temperatures recorded in Europe since records began.

The YouGov survey of over 2,000 adults, carried out on behalf of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, shows public enthusiasm for new approaches to farming in light of these extremes.

The majority of those surveyed (81%) agreed that farmers should be able to benefit from innovations that could help them play their role in meeting the UK goal of reaching net-zero by 2050. . . 


Rural round-up

23/08/2021

Another battle about land is ahead – Mike Houlahan:

Back on August 12, 2021 BD (before Delta), when Parliament rose for what was meant to be an uneventful and restful recess week, MPs had just started the second reading debate on the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill.

Back on August 12, 2021 BD (before Delta), when Parliament rose for what was meant to be an uneventful and restful recess week, MPs had just started the second reading debate on the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill.

Quite when they will get back to considering the merits or otherwise of the Bill is anyone’s guess.

When that day comes though, it will be keenly watched – the discussion paper on the review attracted 320 submissions, and the 161 submissions the environment select committee waded through to reach this point included a form submission lodged by 1733 individuals. . . 

Plant nurseries rush to save seedlings on eve of lockdown – Sam Olley:

Lockdown has come at one of the worst possible times for nurseries, amid the late winter planting season for native plants and forestry.

Nurseries are allowed to carry out some maintenance but it is far from business as usual.

For Ngā Uri o Hau nursery in Mangawhai it was a scramble to save the trees on the eve of lockdown.

Six thousand native plants sat on pellets in a loading bay ready to go out to clients but they had no irrigation, and wouldn’t be going anywhere at alert level 4. . . 

While the Brits brace for Christmas without turkeys, NZ leads APEC initiative on food security – Point of Order:

Not enough turkeys for Christmas?

Calamity.

Not in this country (so far as we know), but in Britain, where the British Poultry Council is pressing the UK Government to deal with the culinary consequences of shortages of workers resulting from the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The British food industry faces huge disruptions that have forced leading restaurants – including Nando’s and KFC – to reduce their service or to close. . .

It’s calving time – Country LIfe:

It’s calving season and dairy farmers around the country are working long hours.

They’re not only doing the usual milking and maintenance but watching over their herds as they calve.

Country Life Producer Sally Round got up before the birds and put on her wet weather gear to meet Wairarapa dairy farmer Jody James and his team to find out what happens.

It’s pitch black and the temperature has plunged. . .

Value your time – Mark Guscott:

After a recent field day, Mark Guscott is asking the question: Do farmers value their time?

Do you value your time? In my experience there are heaps of farmers who don’t. I went to a field day to learn from a cocky who was doing a good job of wintering cattle. He fed them a lot of balage and hay and was asked, “how does that amount of feeding-out stack up financially?”.

He replied that it didn’t cost him anything as the grass grew for free and he owned his own baler! Well, the language in my mind was colourful and I straight away lost concentration. This was unfortunate on my part as he was doing a good job overall. I guess his rationale was that once the payments on the baler were finished then it didn’t owe him anything. Fair call, but what about the diesel for the tractor, the person driving that tractor or the maintenance on the baler?

The point is that what we do every day is important and worthwhile. We should value what we do. The cocky was doing a good job but he needed to account for the wage or drawings that he feeds his family with. There are some that would say that any profit made is payment, but when the coffers are empty at the end of the year, it wouldn’t be very encouraging to think ‘I’ve worked hard all year for nothing’. What we do to look after our land, our animals and our people is bloody important. While sometimes it might not feel like it, there are a lot of people out there who value what we do. . .

Rural areas need a Covid strategy, and fast – Stephanie Stanhope:

It’s fair to say that the people of regional, rural and remote NSW are on high alert as the COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges yet again.

A state-wide lockdown has commenced and communities are grappling with what this means in terms of access to essential supplies and services, keeping businesses afloat and families’ food on the table, in already strained circumstances.

Access to healthcare in regional and rural NSW is already difficult, as the CWA of NSW has been advocating on for some time now.

Last year we surveyed our members and overwhelmingly heard about long wait times to see general practitioners, lack of nurses and health professionals, and ill-equipped hospitals servicing large areas of the regions. . .

 


Rural round-up

20/08/2021

Lockdown shuts sale yard gates again – Suz Bremner:

The livestock-selling market was again put on hold as the country moved into Alert Level 4. This followed confirmation of the covid-19 Delta variant in the community and meant sale yards were not able to open their gates for the rest of the week.

PGG Wrightson North Island livestock manager Matt Langtry says the options are slightly limited this week.

“Under Level 4 all sale yards are closed, however, we will continue to re-evaluate the situation as Government and MPI updates come to hand. As an essential service provider under Level 4, PGG Wrightson agents can operate in private sales (farm-to-farm) and prime (meat processor) consignments, where there needs to be a focus on animal and farmer welfare and feed levels,” Langtry said.

“We are operating under strict MPI protocols, which includes a very transparent traceability and audit process for our team. Through this challenging time, it is imperative we keep communicating with the industry, we are in this together. It’s a bugger of a situation again, but we will pull through.” . . 

Meat processors temporarily reduce capacity after lockdown announced – Rachael Kelly:

Some meat processing plants closed temporarily on Wednesday to put social distancing protocols in place, and others are working at a reduced capacity after the level four lock down was announced.

But farming leaders do not expect too much disruption on farms, as calving continues and lambing begins.

New Zealand is now in a nationwide level 4 lock down, with a total of seven Covid-19 cases in the community They are all in Auckland and all confirmed to be the more transmissible Delta variant.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said the company paused processing across its plant network on Wednesday morning to allow it to reconfigure plant operations to reflect the new protocols and give staff an opportunity to make suitable home arrangements such as childcare. . . 

Whales and dolphins stuck on inland farm – Country Life:

Sheep and cattle graze where whales and dolphins once swam 25 million years ago.

Bones from their skeletons are fossilised in cliffs and rocks on Grant Neal’s farm at Duntroon in North Otago.

”There’s 12 whale and dolphin fossils scattered through one gully and down the next there must be five, so it’s awesome how concentrated it is,” Grant says.

The area on the farm where the fossils were discovered is an official geo-site in the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. . . 

Scrumming to support farmers – Annette Scott:

Farmers and Parliament representatives tackled their skills on the rugby field in an event that raised more than $110,000 for Canterbury’s flood affected farmers.

The farmers’ Fonterra Good Together team – featuring former All Blacks Aaron Mauger, Casey Laulala and Kevin O’Neill, and coached by legendary Crusaders coach Scott (Razor) Robertson – proved too good.

Captained by Mid Canterbury dairy farmer and representative rugby player Jon Dampney, the farmers meant business, thumping the Parliamentary team 51 points to 10, but it was head-to-head all for a good cause.

In a brainstorm of ideas to raise money and support farmers impacted by recent flooding, Fonterra challenged the Parliamentary rugby team to the charity rugby match hosted by the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union at the Ashburton showgrounds. . . 

Lockdown protracts fight to protect mānuka honey as Kiwi – Jonathan Milne:

Mānuka honey by any other name would be as sweet – but would it be as lucrative? NZ and Australia fight over whether its name can be trademarked as distinctively Kiwi.

The opening of the US judgment is to-the-point: “The parties find themselves in a sticky situation,” says the panel of judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The new California court ruling is in a class action against Trader Joe’s, a retailer that markets its store brand mānuka honey as “100% New Zealand mānuka Honey”. It isn’t – it’s only about 60 percent from mānuka nectar. But the court ruled: “100% could be a claim that the product was 100 percent mānuka honey, that its contents were 100 percent derived from the mānuka flower, or even that 100 percent of the honey was from New Zealand.” 

It’s cases like these that highlight the challenge for New Zealand’s mānuka honey producers, who have been trying (and failing) to put out fires like Trader Joe’s for years. . .

New £5k innovation prizes for ventures run by pioneering farmers:

New prizes worth £5,000 have been launched to identify and support innovators and entrepreneurial thinkers who can drive sustainable change in British farming.

The Farming Innovation Pioneers Awards will be delivered through Harper Adams’ School of Sustainable Food and Farming (SSFF) and sponsored by Trinity AgTech’s Pioneers program.

They will be made to farmers who work with cross-industry stakeholders to spearhead transformational sustainability projects – those which drive the industry forward environmentally, socially or commercially, or a combination of all three.

Examples of innovations the judges expect to see include farmers working together with banks and retailers to set up new types of a more sustainable farm enterprise. . . 


Rural round-up

16/08/2021

Confusion around new docking rules – Coin Williscroft:

New docking rules that came into force in May are causing concern and confusion among some farmers.

MPI announced the new regulations, which aim to improve sheep welfare by clarifying how tail-docking should be done and who can carry it out, at the end of last year.

A sheep’s tail cannot be docked shorter than the distal end of the caudal fold. This means the tail needs to be long enough to cover the vulva in ewes and a similar length in rams.

Docking too short could result in a fine of $500, or $1500 for a business, and if multiple sheep are involved that could lead to court proceedings. . . 

In perspective:

More and more farmers around the country are doing the right things in regard to environmental management. Recent reports by a number of regional councils around NZ show positive results when it comes to managing effluent on farms.

Meanwhile, despite winter grazing practices across the country coming under the microscope, there have been few reports of major breaches of the regulations. This is even more remarkable considering the flooding experienced in some regions.

For years, governments, councils, environmentalists, activists et el have been pushing for the agricultural sector to lift its environmental game. The evidence shows that farmers are responding and responding well!

However, anyone reading, listening or viewing mainstream media in NZ could be forgiven for thinking that the opposite is occurring. Every sector has its slackers, those who are not doing the right things, and farming is no exception. The industry, including farmers themselves, must continue to come down hard on those who let the whole sector down. . . 

Farmers living the dream – Sudesh Kissun:

‘ToViewADream Farming’ was started 16 years ago by farmer Dion Kilmister and it’s been living up to its name ever since.

Today, the business comprises of four farming properties finishing 17,000 lambs and 600 cattle a year. The jewel in the crown – a butcher shop in Masterton – opened last year.

The journey has been one of hard work, calculated risks, tragedy and resilience. Dion’s wife, Ali Kilmister, told their story at the recent South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) in Ashburton.

In January 2005, he arrived in the Wairarapa with first wife Maria and two children – Maria’s daughter Aleshia and their son Jayden. All they had were 70 steers that they had had out grazing in the King Country, and a $30,000 overdraft. . .

Growing the workforce – vegetable producer offers bonus for turning up to work – Country Life:

One of New Zealand’s largest vegetable growers is paying people a bonus for turning up to work.

Gisborne-based LeaderBrand has rolled out a raft of benefits in order to secure a workforce.

“I think our job now is to make it easy for people to come to work,” says LeaderBrand chief executive Richard Burke.

LeaderBrand employs 400 people across New Zealand and another 150 during seasonal peaks. . . 

Potato industry shows resilience – Annette Scott:

The New Zealand potato industry remains a growing sector despite enduring a challenging year.

Ahead of the industry’s annual forums, Potatoes NZ (PNZ) chief executive Chris Claridge reports the total value of the industry sits at $1.16 billion, amidst a year of crises and disappointment.

This represents a 58% growth rate since industry targets were set in 2013.

“This result shows the immense value of our processing sector, with 55% of our locally-grown potatoes producing fries and another 12% producing crisps,” Claridge said. . .

Tasmanian farmer finds a “nutty” way of beating power regulations – Andrew Miller:

A northern Tasmanian prime lamb producer has found a novel way around TasNetworks regulations, which restricts power generated on-farm to use in only one piece of plant, home or shed.

TasNetworks insists on a separate meter, for each point on the property using power.

That means electricity for most of the farm has to be purchased from hundreds of kilometres away, rather than using on-property generated power.

Simon Hackett has circumvented the regulations by linking an aircraft hangar, houses and shearing shed on his 70 hectare farm by cable to his 100kw solar system. . . 


Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


Rural round-up

05/07/2021

Southland MP Joseph Mooney invites Green Party co-leader James Shaw to Southland to meet Groundswell NZ – Rachael Kelly:

Farmer protest group Groundswell NZ said it would ‘’most definitely’’ meet with Green Party co-leader James Shaw if he accepted an invitation to visit Southland.

Southland MP Joseph Mooney wants to extend an invitation to Shaw to the province to meet with the group, who he says Shaw ‘’unfairly vilified in the media this week”.

A spokesperson from Shaws’ office said: ‘’Joseph Mooney is welcome to send an invitation to the Minister, and it will be considered alongside all the others we receive.’’

Shaw admitted for the first time this week that it was Groundswell he was referring to in an interview with Ngati Hine FM last month, when he referred to ‘’a group of pākehā farmers from down south’’ who were ‘’always pushing back against the idea that they should observe any kind of regulation about what they can do to protect the environment”. . . .

B+LNZ launched emissions calculator – Neal Wallace:

The sheep and beef industry have taken a significant step towards managing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission obligations, with the launch of an emissions calculator for farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has released the free-to-use calculator, which takes information about a farm and stock numbers and applies science and data about average emissions at national, regional and farm system level to calculate on-farm emissions and sequestration.

It has been funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership and endorsed by the Meat Industry Association (MIA), AFFCO NZ, Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea Premier Meats, Ovation NZ, Progressive Meats, Silver Fern Farms, Taylor Preston, Te Kuiti Meats, Universal Beef Packers and Wilson Hellaby NZ.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the calculator has been independently assessed as meeting the requirements for calculating emissions under the He Waka Eke Noa programme and agreement with the Government. . . 

Fences fixed first as farmers count cost of flooding – Country Life:

Farmers in Mid-Canterbury say it could take months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up the mess on their farms following last month’s massive flooding.

It’s been an extremely challenging situation for neighbouring farmers Anne-Marie Allen and Chrissie Wright, who say they are still trying to get their heads around the scale of the damag of Anne-Marie and her husband Chris’s farm resemble a bombsite.

Their six-hectare water storage pond is destroyed, fences are buried, machinery has been damaged and logs, branches, rocks, gravel and up to a metre of silt have been dumped on the Ashburton Forks property. . .

M bovis eradication on track – Annette Scott:

The next few months will be busy for the Mycoplasma bovis programme as it winds closer to a successful nationwide eradication of the disease.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is confident the programme is on track to eradicate the disease from New Zealand in the next five years.

“The programme has been refined and improved, the science and practice on the ground has helped get us to where we are now, just a pocket of five infected properties,” O’Connor said.

But, he says, the next few months will be busy and crucial. . . 

Farmers helping Meat the Need charity via Silver Fern Farms – Linda Hall:

Mince — it must be the most versatile red meat you can buy.

Most people would be able to come up with a nutritious meal by just adding some flavour and vegetables. It goes a long way and it’s reasonably priced.

However, there are many people out there who still can’t afford to buy enough food to feed their family.

It’s not surprising that the need for food parcels is growing with the price of housing and accommodation skyrocketing — and there’s no end in sight. . .

Scottish pig sector ‘at risk’ due to unfair supply chain practice :

The future of the Scottish pig industry is at risk due to continued unfair supply chain practices, NFU Scotland has warned.

It has written to Pilgrim’s, the processing partner of Scotland’s largest abattoir in Brechin, to urge them to stop operating pricing practices that ‘threaten’ the sector.

Farmers had ‘serious concerns’ resulting from the ‘uncompetitive price’ paid by Pilgrim’s for pigs going to the Brechin abattoir.

“The price is uncompetitive compared to alternative market routes,” NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

31/05/2021

Stringing bells in glasshouses – Hugh Stringleman:

A business that began in a field in Matakana has grown into a global operation with a sophisticated glasshouse enterprise producing seven million capsicums a year. Hugh Stringleman found out how they do it.

Southern Paprika (SPL) of Warkworth is the largest single-site glasshouse grower of capsicums in New Zealand, with nearly one million plants at any one time under 26ha of cover.

Each bell pepper plant produces 40 fruit per season, as the plants grow up strings to 4m in height.

It’s called Southern Paprika because it is in the Southern Hemisphere and paprika is the Northern Hemisphere word for capsicum. . .

Bootcamps and mental health events target Young Farmers:

A new initiative is being funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

NZ Young Farmers has been allocated $40,000 to organise events in seven regional areas featuring guest speakers, activities, and skill-building sessions.

“It’s important we continue our efforts to give people the skills to look after their wellbeing, manage stress and to recognise and openly talk about mental health,” says MPI’s director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of 70 clubs, which provide an opportunity for young people to make friends, network, upskill and socialise. . . 

Farming flavour: chocolate and chilies – Country Life:

Feeding the farm crew at docking time, even as a child, was no problem for Johnty Tatham.

Things culinary have been the 24-year-old’s passion for a while.

Now he’s handcrafting chocolate from a cottage on the family farm and his sleekly packaged Lucid Chocolatier products can be found at top-notch Wellington restaurants and artisan chocolate shops.

Johnty and his brother Paddy are back on the Tatham’s sheep and beef farm in coastal Wairarapa forging new paths in the food industry. . .

Study suggests sheep milk farms produce 50pc less nitrogen water pollution :

Sheep milk farms could produce up to 50 percent less nitrogen loss to water compared to regular dairy farms new research shows.

Carried out by AgResearch, the study was done to better understand the environmental impacts of sheep dairy farms.

Although still comparably small to the regular dairy industry, the dairy sheep industry is quickly growing.

There are 17,000 dairy sheep in New Zealand with another 8000 being introduced next season. . .

 

New technology shown to improve pasture growth without harming the environment:

Many of us are just beginning to understand how soils [and soil fertility] truly work. The dominant model, developed 150 years ago by chemists in Germany has been popularised, used very widely and successfully. This model says: “You have a soil that is deficient in nutrients. You are growing a plant that needs the nutrients to achieve full production. Nutrients or fertilisers are applied to correct the imbalance. If you have multiple deficiencies, then you may apply a cocktail of nutrients and fertilisers to address the balance”. Note that in this model the microbiological elements are ignored. More nutrients and chemicals are applied. The soil biology gets hammered. More maintenance nutrients are required – and so the costly circle continues.

The problem with this model is that it is deficient. It misses the critical component of soil microbiology. This has been substantially invisible until recently, when we have had a new tool, DNA to aid study. When you start to look at the interaction of soil microbiology, it has been a largely invisible third party in agriculture. In forestry it has long been known that nutrient deficiencies in plants can be solved by micro biology. Pine trees need mycorrhizal fungi. Without the fungi, the Pine tree doesn’t grow. . .

Packaging-free milk flowing at shared workspace:

An innovative milk processing system developed by Christchurch startup, Happy Cow Milk, is delivering packaging-free Saltworks co-working space.

Happy Cow Milk raised $400k in an equity crowdfund in 2019 to develop its revolutionary “milk factory in a box”. This system allows any farmer to be a fully compliant milk producer and any cafe, workplace or even school to be a retailer.

Founder Glen Herud says the dairy industry needs disruption. “The current system rewards large-scale farming over small, family farms. Happy Cow wants to replace the complicated milk supply chain system to allow farmers to connect and sell milk to their local communities – because we know that sustainable milk is local milk.” . . 

Wairarapa’s Olive Black wins gold at prestigious New York competition:

Award-winning olive oil producer Olive Black is elated New Zealand olive oils are being noticed globally, as the company wins gold at the New York International Olive Competition.

Hot on the heels of winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards 2020, for its extra virgin olive oil, Wairarapa olive grower, Olive Black, now also has a gold medal from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

This year, there was a record 1100 entries from 28 countries in the New York competition and Olive Black manager Mark Bunny says he is absolutely fizzing. . . 


Rural round-up

08/04/2021

Potential benefits of fruit harvesting machine hailed – Jared Morgan:

It is called the Tecnofruit CF-105 and the fruit-harvesting machine could prove a game changer for Central Otago’s horticulture sector.

The technology, which carries a $155,000 price tag, may be good news for an industry beleaguered by labour shortages and spiralling costs made more acute by the ongoing fallout from Covid-19 and consequent restrictions on the number of recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers allowed into New Zealand.

The machine was in Central Otago at the 21ha Hollandia Orchard in Earnscleugh, near Alexandra, this last week on a trial basis and after test runs it was unveiled to orchardists and orchard managers on Wednesday.

Hollandia Orchard manager Murray Booth said he was sold on the machine. . . 

Spreading the good word – Rural News:

Hats off to the New Zealand dairy industry for telling its story to the world.

We have a great story to tell. Our farmers are world leaders in animal welfare and climate change. And, unlike producers in many other nations, they do it without direct, free-trade distorting subsidies.

The NZ dairy industry turns milk into more than 1,500 products and product specifications and generates almost $20 billion in annual export returns.

Our cultural characteristics of trust, integrity and ingenuity underpin a strong global reputation for product safety and quality. New Zealand achieved a score of 100 out of 100 for food safety in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Food Security Index. . . 

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists focus on supporting other dairy farmers:

A sharemilker, a Dairy Business of the Year recipient, and a contract milker and farm consultant have been named as this year’s finalists for the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Belinda Price, a sharemilker based in Whanganui, joins Ashburton dairy farmer Rebecca Miller and Chevon Horsford, a contract milker, farm consultant and Māori farm advisor in Whangarei, in the running for the respected industry award managed by Dairy Women’s Network.

Already a celebration of leadership inside and outside the farm gate, this year’s award shows a strong focus on people and highlights the work of the three finalists in leading and mentoring others through their farming journeys. . .

Meet the ex-cop growing wasabi in Canterbury – Olivia Sisson:

It’s notoriously difficult to produce, which is why the vast majority of this pungent condiment isn’t the real deal. So how has a former police officer made a business out of farming wasabi in Lincoln? Olivia Sisson pays a visit.

Even if you think you love wasabi’s signature burn, there’s a high chance you’ve never actually had it. The vast majority of wasabi served with sushi around the world isn’t real – even in its home country, it’s estimated only 5% of the stuff is real, and it’s likely to be less than that outside of Japan.

Real wasabi comes from the rhizome (stem) of Wasabia japonica, a leafy green plant from the same family as broccoli and cabbage. Often called “Japanese horseradish” or “wasabi paste”, the pretenders are usually just a blend of horseradish, mustard, green food colouring and preservatives.  . . 

Galloping on at Castlepoint:

Sand flew and the crowds cheered as hooves thundered along Castlepoint Beach for another year.

The horse races started nearly 150 years ago and apart from wartime and stormy years when the beach was too rocky, they’ve been held every year since, marking the end of summer at this small coastal community in Wairarapa.

The races even outpaced Covid-19, unlike many annual fixtures around the country.

Country Life producer Sally Round and RNZ video journalist Dom Thomas went along to capture a slice of the atmosphere. . .

How the pandemic made lamb more popular in America – Virginia Gewin:

Traditional Easter and Passover lamb-centered meals mark peak season for the often overlooked protein. But one year ago, the arrival of the pandemic sent the U.S. lamb industry into a tailspin.  

Lockdowns had an immediate, catastrophic effect as holiday dinners suddenly became sad Zoom calls. The initial drop in demand at lamb’s biggest time of year dealt a body blow to the industry. The second largest U.S. lamb processing plant, Mountain States Rosen in Greeley, Colorado, filed for bankruptcy on March 19, 2020.

At the time, the outlook for the rest of the year—when lamb sales rely heavily on restaurants and cruise ships, two sectors that were summarily crushed by Covid-19—looked equally grim. By April 2020, live lamb prices had dropped by half.  . .


Rural round-up

17/03/2021

Ministry accused of stealing Taihape farm – Phil Pennington:

Government officials are being accused of stealing a farm bought by a central North Island town for their schoolchildren to learn agriculture.

Taihape people established the teaching farm on 12 hectares next to Taihape College 30 years ago but the Ministry of Education has taken it and put it in the landbank for Treaty settlements, and the school can now only lease it.

The Ombudsman is looking at whether to investigate.

“It’s very unfortunate. I think you could effectively say that the community asset has been stolen by the Education Ministry,” Rangitīkei National MP Ian McKelvie said. . .

New tax rules are flawed – Neal Wallace;

New taxation rules will create uncertainty and compliance costs to virtually every farm sales, warns Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

The association’s NZ tax leader John Cuthbertson says the new legislation coming into force on July 1, is designed to reduce government revenue loss by forcing parties to sale and purchase agreements to agree on the allocation of sale proceeds to particular types of assets for tax purposes.

Cuthbertson says this is known as purchase price allocation.

“If they had just stopped there that would have been acceptable, but they have gone further, impacting the relative negotiating positions of the parties and adding uncertainty and compliance costs,” he said. . . 

A change for the better – Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki farmer has turned his entire farming operation 180 degrees and is loving the change.

When farmers change their farm system, it’s often just a case of making minor changes to streamline the operation. However, when Taranaki farmers Adam and Taryn Pearce decided to make changes they didn’t do things by halves.

The Pearces operate a 60-hectare, 180-cow farm at Lepperton. When they decided to change their farming system, it was not going to be just a small tweak for them to achieve that goal. . .

Few takers for safety subsidy – Country Life:

Of the 35,000 farmers and businesses eligible to access a subsidy for crush protection devices for quad bikes, only 270 have taken it up.

ACC injury prevention manager Virginia Burton-Konia says agriculture is a high risk area and quad bikes create significant costs to the scheme and therefore significant injuries for farm workers.

She says it’s not just farmers, but sometimes farm workers, whānau or manuhiri who are on farms.

“Last year ended up with $80 million worth of cost to the scheme focusing on injuries in quad bikes, you know we ended up with 566 I think injuries in 2020.” . .

A side hustle in saffron – Country LIfe:

Haley Heathwaite was looking for something “a bit different and a challenge” when deciding on a crop of her own to grow.

The former outdoor instructor is production manager with a Gisborne seed company and for the past four years she has also had a side gig growing saffron on eight hectares in Tolaga Bay.

The precious spice comes from the stigma of the crocus sativus – a pretty purple flower which blooms for just a few weeks in the autumn – and Haley says it sells for $57,000 a kilo at the moment. The painstaking autumn harvest is, however, counted in grams.

Haley says there are many challenges extracting the brightly coloured stigma during harvest including keeping bees away and dealing with morning dew. . . 

Location not size fuel reduction burns most effective within 1km of houses – Jamieson Murphy:

LOCATION is far more important that size when it comes to fuel reduction burns, a new study by the Bushfire Recovery Project has found.

The expert review of 72 peer-reviewed scientific papers about bushfires and infrastructure loss found fuel reduction burning was most effective at reducing housing loss when done within one kilometre of the property.

The Bushfire Recovery Project is a joint initiative between Griffith University and the Australian National University to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed science says about bushfires. . .

 


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