Rural round-up

July 30, 2020

Fonterra wins right to refuse suppliers – Esther Taunton:

A long-awaited law change means Fonterra could refuse to accept milk from controversial dairy conversions like the Simons Pass development in the Mackenzie Basin.

Changes to the 20-year-old Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (Dira) passed unanimously through Parliament on Friday.

The new rules allow Fonterra to reject milk from new dairy farm conversions and extend its rights to refuse milk from farmers who don’t meet its standards.

The amendments also remove the requirement for the co-op to supply milk to competitors to help them get established and allow it to refuse re-entry to farmers who have switched processors. . . 

Recruitment campaign won’t turn ‘flight attendants into dairy workers’ – Brent Melville:

Pivoting unemployed New Zealanders into the agriculture and primary sector won’t turn former Air New Zealand flight attendants into dairy workers or remove the need for specialist skills across the processing sector, according to a change consultant.

The comments come as the Ministry for Primary Industries rolls out a $4.5 million recruitment campaign aiming to fill a 10,000-job hole across the agricultural and primary sectors left by New Zealand’s extended border closures through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The website and marketing campaign, ‘opportunity grows here’, was developed by ad agency Clemenger BBDO and the four-year project is being funded through a $19.3m allocation under this year’s budget. . . 

Future of New Zealand’s farming should be female – Nicky Hyslop:

 At first glance, farming might appear to be a way of life that is as old as the hills. But when you look closer, it is clear that farming is a modern profession – and one that is certainly not stuck in the mud.

Modern farming practices are increasingly challenging any parochial view that some Kiwis have about the industry.

Gone are the days of simply mucking in and hoping for the best. Farming today involves new technologies and harnessing big data to drive decision-making. And coupling these innovations with an increased emphasis on animal welfare, soil nutrition and environmental stewardship.

Farming has always been competitive. Understanding crop rotation, grazing, nutrient profiles of soil and transport logistics are just some of the factors that farmers have to get right in order to be successful. . . 

Alliance to spend $3.2m on upgrade :

Alliance Group is to spend $3.2million on a further upgrade at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to help improve operational efficiency.

The plant’s engine room two, which provides key refrigeration for four cold stores, some blast freezers and several product chillers will receive upgraded safety features, equipment and building structure.

The programme would improve the company’s ability to control the refrigeration system remotely and provide a platform for further investment, Alliance said in a statement. . . 

$7.9m for SFF dividend, patronage :

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has declared a dividend and patronage reward for shareholders totalling $7.9 million.

The decision followed receipt of a cash dividend of $12.4 million to the co-operative from Silver Fern Farms Ltd, which is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and China’s Shanghai Maling.

That dividend was generated from Silver Fern Farms Ltd’s 2019 financial year for which it reported a net profit after tax of $70.7 million in April this year.

At the time, the dividend was deferred at the request of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling until the outlook for the global trading environment became clearer. .  .

 

Five farmers revitalise soil health while remaining profitable:

Scottish farmers are getting their heads together on one of the most fundamental concerns – how to revitalise soil health to achieve more sustainable farming and profit.

The Soil Regenerative Group has been created to explore which techniques, treatments, crops and rotations best establish resilient soils and how to integrate these into profits.

From growing linseed to broadcasting seed on the day of harvest, grazing sheep on oilseed rape to direct drilling, each farmer is experimenting differently and is at varied stages of adopting “regenerative”, or conservation, farming. . . 


Rural round-up

July 22, 2020

Alternative labour sources needed – David Anderson:

Industries that depend on migrant labour – like many in NZ’s primary sector – will need to find alternatives, according to a new report.

The need for alternatives is one of the key findings of the latest report on the agribusiness sector by KPMG in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The recently released 2020 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda says that there is a stigma attached to a career in the production and processing of food and fibre products.

“The jobs are seen as being low skilled, low paid roles which are done by those for which there are no other employment options,” the report says.

“While such perceptions are a million miles away from the truth, they have made it difficult for organisations to recruit the labour force they need, even in countries with significant levels of unemployment.” . . 

Desperate lobbying for the status quo – Elbow Deep:

You could be forgiven for thinking the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) reforms were a done deal; a cross-party panel of MPs had unanimously recommended a raft of sweeping changes that addressed issues that have been plaguing the industry for years, and they did so with a refreshing display of clarity, common sense and unity.

After eight years with no changes, a period during which independent processors have been given a leg up at the expense of New Zealand dairy farmers, the Select Committee decided that DIRA had achieved its goal of fostering competition in the dairy industry and it was time for all processors to stand on their own merits.

Having failed to convince the Select Committee to maintain the status quo with their formal submissions, the independent processors are now publicly lobbying to keep the uneven playing field tilted in their favour. They have arranged a last minute meeting with the Minister of Agriculture in an attempt to stop the legislation being passed before the election so they can have another go at arguing for the retention of DIRA’s open entry provisions. . . 

Forest owners to fund clean up of debris, logs at Tolaga Bay :

The Forest Owners Association has apologised and said the industry is committed to cleaning the beach and owners will pay for it, not ratepayers.

The beach in Uawa is strewn with logs and debris from forestry operations up in the hills.

The slash washed onto the beach over the weekend after a metre of rain fell in 24 hours.

Forest Owners Association president Phil Taylor said: “On behalf of the forest industry … I unreservedly apologise to the community for the debris on the beach. They acknowledge it is unacceptable. I can assure the community on the East Coast that the forest industry is committed to cleaning the beach up in conjunction with GDC (Gisborne District Council) … that planning is underway.” . . 

Hope high for wool’s future :

The latest wool working group report brings some hope for reform, innovation and, most importantly, boosted returns for a sector that has languished for almost a generation of farmers as the smallest part of their income stream.

Released this month, the vision and action plan developed by the Wool Industry Project Action Group contains three key recommendations to kickstart the strong wool sector as a sustainable economic fibre base once again.

These include developing a market focused investment case and road map for a strong wool sector, establishing the capability the sector needs to become “match fit” for future opportunities and establishing better co-ordination and governance capability. . . 

Trusts to get extra help – Peter Burke:

MPI says it’s looking at increasing its support to Rural Support Trusts and other rural advisory groups.

Director general of the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ray Smith, says it seems like the country is moving from one set of issues to another, which are all challenging to farmers.

He cites the droughts in the North Island and the feed shortage in the South Island – along with M. bovis and the damage from earthquakes.

“It feels like the expectations on those Trusts are growing and we are trying to increase our investment in them to help the local people,” he told Rural News. . . 

Rural data usage continues to soar as new tech drivers efficient farms and sustainable communities:

Rural broadband specialists, Farmside, have reported a massive 34% average year-on-year data usage increase in Aotearoa’s rural communities since 2017 as new technologies drive efficiency, productivity and sustainability in the sector. The internet provider, powered by Vodafone New Zealand, is a Gold Partner of the first Fieldays Online launched last week, showcasing three of the latest innovations driving smarter, and more connected, farms.

The Farmside and Vodafone site set up for Fieldays Online features: water quality monitoring system RiverWatch that analyses real-time data on the health of New Zealand’s waterways; smart traps run on Vodafone’s narrowband IoT (nb-IoT) network keep the bird sanctuary at Punakaiki predator-free; and a Wide Area Network (WAN) that securely connects all Pāmu New Zealand’s farms with its corporate offices.

Farmside CEO Jason Sharp says it is innovations such as these that has seen the demand for rural connectivity grow relentlessly over the last few years. . . 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2020

Farmers want essential services clarity :

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne is urgently seeking clarity from the Government about what primary sector activities will qualify as essential after the Government effectively put the country into lockdown for four weeks to stop the spread of covid-19.

Milne said she has made it clear in conversations with the Government the definition of essential business has to be as wide-ranging as possible so farmers can keep functioning.

“They are part of the food chain and we need them. 

“The people who do service farming, they have an as equally critical role as us who are growing the food.  . . 

Otago farmers nervous about labour from border restrictions :

Uncertainty over travel for the international workforce is compounding what has been a difficult season for orchardists in Central Otago.

Border restrictions and reduced airline capacity in response to Covid-19 are creating anxiety in the industry.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of 45 South – New Zealand’s largest cherry exporter – Tim Jones said traditionally two-thirds of his workforce came from overseas, half on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visas and half backpackers.

“As a grower, I sit here nervous about labour and we know we use as many Kiwis as we can but to supplement that we employ RSE labour and we employ a lot of backpackers and our obvious concerns are they may not be around in the sort of numbers we’ve had recently. . . 

A DIRA decision – Elbow Deep:

As the world is faced with torrents of horrific news as the pandemic sweeps the globe, it feels like there is little to be positive about. But over recent weeks there have been two small gems for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The first piece of good news was Fonterra’s half year financial results, which are a remarkable turnaround from the Co-op’s first ever loss posted last year. The loss wasn’t insignificant or so small it could be dismissed as a rounding error, the Co-op lost over half a billion dollars which only makes the recent turnaround even more impressive.

At a time of mass uncertainty when many people don’t know if they’ll still have a job in a few months, it is somewhat relieving that these results will see Fonterra inject more than $11 billion into the New Zealand economy through milk payments to their farmers. Those farmers will in turn spend over half of that in their local communities, communities which need money now more than ever before. It’s not just Fonterra farmers who will benefit from the Co-op’s strong performance; independent processors around the country will be benchmarking themselves off the Co-op’s strong performance. . .

Rural sector crying out to recruit more staff – Jacob McSweeny:

While thousands of people around the country are facing joblessness a recruiting company is calling out for workers in the primary sector, saying there were 40 jobs in South Canterbury available now.

Agstaff, Canstaff and New Zealand Dairy Careers managing director Matt Jones said the need for workers had increased as a result of implications from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The work does not stop — it’s ramped up as some of our clients in the primary production sector increase production to meet New Zealand’s needs.

“The cows still need milked and the crops must be picked,” Mr Jones said.

He said he had a client in South Canterbury who needed 40 people to start immediately. . . 

Post-quake study reveals hort potential – Nigel Malthus:

Large areas of North Canterbury and South Marlborough – affected by the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquakes – offer wide potential for horticulture.

A Plant and Food Research investigation has found that several crops – in particular, apples, grapes, hazelnuts and walnuts – could be grown in pockets throughout the region.

It identified 41,515 ha of land – or about 9% of the total 466,000ha – that would potentially be suitable. . . 

Vets offer Covid-19 advice:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has some advice for animal owners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association representing New Zealand veterinarians says COVID-19 should not reduce the care owners give to their animals’ health and welfare.

“We appreciate there are many issues that people are dealing with in relation to COVID-19, particularly those self-isolating or with family members taking this precautionary measure,” says New Zealand Veterinary Association chief veterinary officer, Dr Helen Beattie.  . . 

Why cradle-to-cradle needs to be included in fashion’s sustainability rating tools :

A review of a leading environmental impact tool for apparel finds that unless improvements are made, weaknesses in the underlying science could lead to misleading results, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the environment.

What do textile lifecycle assessment tools do?

Textile lifecycle assessment (LCA) tools aim to understand, quantify and communicate the environmental credentials of textiles with the intent of minimising environmental impact.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Material Sustainability Index (MSI) is increasingly being adopted by industry but this LCA method currently fails to account for the complexity of the textile industry.

“Several significant environmental impacts and processes are excluded from the MSI and PM, including recyclability, biodegradability, renewability of resource used, microfibres, abiotic resource depletion (minerals) and abiotic bioaccumulation,” said Dr Steve Wiedemann of Integrity AG & Environment.  . . 


Rural round-up

October 15, 2019

Liberated they sold the plough – Neal Wallace:

Mike Porter reckons he has re-educated himself how to farm in the last five years. Neal Wallace meets the South Canterbury arable farmer who is not afraid of change.

Mike Porter is a considered man.

His views and actions are more than opinions formed from spending too many hours behind the wheel of a tractor on his South Canterbury arable farm.

Porter has carefully considered and studied options to some of the big issues he faces on his 480ha arable and livestock farm at Lyalldale, which he runs with wife Lynne. . .

Stronger YFC, school links the goal – Yvonne O’Hara:

Otago-Southland territory manager Bridget (Biddy) Huddleston, of Alexandra, is keen to see closer ties between the New Zealand Young Farmers clubs, and schools.

”Nationally, we are going to increase our focus on Young Farmers clubs and the [school-based] TeenAg clubs,” she said.

”Moving forward, the challenge for us will be how we are going to structure that.”

She also wants to encourage a greater uptake of the organisation’s education ”Agrication” food production resources, which have been developed by NZYF and teachers, ticked off by NZQA and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership for schools, which are designed to give pupils a greater awareness of food production. . .

Frost this spring has been ‘unrelenting’, say winegrowers – Maja Burry:

Winegrowers in some regions are reporting a turbulent start to the new grape growing season, with frost-fighting efforts already well up on last year.

ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby said early varieties were budding which was causing some concern due to the recent cold snap.

“There certainly has been some concern around frost, certainly in the Wairarapa and Marlborough, so everyone’s been out fighting frost, [but] so far I’ve only heard of damage of small areas of some of the early season crops,” Ms Kilsby said. . . 

Held stock boost sheep numbers – Alan Williams:

South Island sheep numbers rose slightly in the latest June year but some of the gain was caused by higher numbers being carried over for processing between July and September.

In the North Island the sheep population was slightly lower on June 30 than a year earlier and also included plenty of carry-over trade lambs in the Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty due for processing, Beef + Lamb says its New Season Outlook.

Total sheep numbers were estimated at 27.4 million, with the North Island at 13.5m, down 92,000 or 0.7%. South Island numbers were 13.9m, up 1.4%. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2018/19 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s base milk price calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was calculated at $6.35 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2018/19 dairy season. The report does not cover the forecast 2019/20 price of $6.25-$7.25 that Fonterra announced in May.

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said this year’s review of the 2018/19 base milk price revealed no new major areas of concern. . . 

Medicinal cannabis company Rua Bioscience seeks experienced grower – Esther Taunton:

A Kiwi company is on the hunt for a green-thumbed project manager, preferably with cannabis growing experience.

Gisborne-based Rua Bioscience was the first local company to secure a license to cultivate medicinal cannabis and is now looking for someone to help grow its budding operation.

Advertised online this week, the cultivation project manager would “play a key role in setting up stage two of our cultivation and growing activities”.  . . 

China is breeding massive pigs that weigh more than a grand piano -Kristin Houser:

Pork Problems

A devastating outbreak of African swine fever has destroyed an estimated half of China’s pig population over the past year or so.

That’s a huge deal given that China consumes more pork than any other nation, so China’s government responded by urging farmers to increase pig production — and some have taken that to mean they should breed the biggest pigs we’ve seen this side of “Okja,” according to a new Bloomberg story.

Making Weight

Bloomberg notes that some Chinese farmers have managed to increase the typical average weight of their pigs at slaughter from 110 kilograms (242 pounds) up to 140 kilograms (308 pounds).

In the province of Jilin, meanwhile, farmers are trying to raise the pigs “as big as possible,” farmer Zhao Hailin told Bloomberg, with the goal being an average weight of 175 to 200 kilograms (385 to 440 pounds) as opposed to the typical 125 kilograms (275 pounds). . .


Time to free up Fonterra

August 28, 2019

It’s time to free up Fonterra but the government plans to only tinker with the Diary Industry Restructuring Act:

National is opposing the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment (DIRA) Bill at first reading, as we believe competitive pressure should drive the dairy market forward rather than half-baked regulation, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“National believes it is vital we have an efficient and innovative dairy industry that supports the long-term interests of farmers and consumers. This means having a strong Fonterra, strong smaller manufacturers and a robust domestic liquid milk and retail market.

“The Government’s Bill goes some way to achieving this, but National believes the time has come to reduce aspects of Fonterra’s regulatory burden.

“It makes sense that Fonterra can now build in robust animal welfare and environmental conditions in its supply terms. However we believe the New Zealand market is sufficiently mature for Fonterra to have the ability to treat returning suppliers on different commercial grounds than those who have stayed with the cooperative.

“We’re also opposed to Fonterra having to continue to support scale competitors with start-up milk supply. There is a vibrant competitive milk supply landscape in New Zealand, which is only going to increase as global interests eye up our milk pool. We no longer believe Fonterra needs to give these future competitors a hand up.  

Requiring Fonterra to supply competitors might have been acceptable when the original Act came into force, setting up the company.

But there is now more than enough competition to enable new companies to establish themselves without forcing Fonterra to supply them.

That many of these companies are foreign owned is particularly galling given the three parties’ in government continue to rail against foreign ownership and have made it all but impossible for foreigners to buy farmland, unless they’re going to plant trees on it.

“National supports rural New Zealand and knows the importance of the dairy industry to our country. We want legislation that will help it succeed on the world stage not constrain it.”

The legislation that sought to encourage competition is now costing Fonterra too much.

It’s time to stop tinkering with it and free it from the rules that give its competitors a free ride at its expense.


Rural round-up

June 30, 2019

Bovis takes a human toll – Sally Rae:

Next month will mark two years since bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was first confirmed on a South Canterbury dairy farm. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae speaks to Waimate farmer Carl Jensen, who has first-hand experience of the outbreak.

“As soon as you get that phone call, ‘hi, it’s MPI’, the anxiety journey has started.”

Carl Jensen has traversed that road – with many twists and turns – since becoming caught up in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in April last year.

The Waimate farmer has come out the other side; restrictions to his farming operation have been lifted, compensation has finally been paid and his business is back on track. . .

‘M. bovis’ anguish: ‘frank’ feedback helping in long process – Sally Rae:

For those farmers most affected by Mycoplasma bovis, the cure may very well seem worse than the disease, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

“We all need to do everything we can to support them, and that starts with us continuously making sure our systems and processes are working well, and then working in partnership with farmers to get this job done,” he said.

MPI regularly talked to the likes of Waimate farmer Carl Jensen and other farmers, who gave “frank and robust” feedback on how it could improve and that was a very important part of making the programme work. . .

Rat numbers are at a 48-year high and the environment is suffering – Leah Tebbutt:

Rat numbers have exploded across New Zealand and it is no different in Rotorua with some saying numbers are at a 48-year high.

Pest controllers’ phones are ringing off the hook due to an outbreak caused by a mega mast Forest and Bird say.

A mega mast is an over-abundance of plants that have a high seed production, in turn providing food for pests.

The problem began close to four months ago and there are ways to avoid a problem like this in future said Alpeco managing director Heiko Kaiser. . . 

Robust process vital in DIRA review – John Aitkinson:

A robust review process is needed for the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), writes Rotorua/Taupo Federated Farmers Dairy Section chairman John Atkinson.

DIRA is a major part of dairy farming.

It is an important tool in the food chain that allows you to enjoy your cheese, your latte or if you’re partial to it, New Zealand made dairy milk chocolate.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) was a special Act passed by the Helen Clark-led Government enabling the formation of Fonterra in 2001. . . .

A tractor for every day of the week – Samantha Tennent:

Manawatu farmer Reuben Sterling would much rather be behind the wheel of a tractor than at the shed milking.

His preference for tractors goes back to when he was growing up on the family farm at Rangiotu. He would often head out with his dad Rob and sit next to him while he mowed paddocks and did other jobs.

“I guess every farm kid wants to be like their dad and drive the tractor,” Sterling says.

“I remember being about six and going to get the cows in for milking on my own with the four-wheeler. . . 

Shearing and Woolhandling World Championships: Meet the Kiwi team

The 18th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are being held at Le Dorat, France, next week.

Teams from around the world, including New Zealand, will compete. The competitions take place on July 4-7.

The Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling Team will be there. Check out their profiles below. . . 

‘Our small towns are toppling like dominoes: why we should cut some farmers a checkRobert Leonard and Matt Russell:

How we address an expanding list of crises related to global warming is the most demanding question of our day. So far, our approaches have been piecemeal, enormously costly and largely unsuccessful.

A common denominator for many of these crises is in how we use the land, and that is where we will find the solution. A simple, cheap and relatively quick fix is to pay farmers and ranchers for environmental services. Not traditional government cost-share programs; we mean cut them a check when they provide measurable environmental services. It would cost Americans pennies per meal.

We already provide enormous taxpayer support for farmers to stabilize our food supply. The Trump administration’s trade bailouts for farmers to the tune of $28 billion in 2018 and 2019 are examples. Unfortunately, right now, farmers who invest in conservation practices are at a competitive disadvantage to those who don’t.  . . 


Rural round-up

June 26, 2019

Farmers urged to submit on carbon bill – Pam Tipa:

Both DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ are urging farmers to have their say on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill by July 16.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for the agriculture sector.

“That’s why farmer engagement is so important,” he says. He is encouraging dairy farmers to make a submission.

The bill’s full name is the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. . . 

Kiwi’s quinoa dream now a reality – Andrew Stewart:

A liking for a particular food on a foreign trip is paying dividends for Dan and Jacqui Cottrell and providing extra income for their Taihape farm. They told Andrew Stewart how they discovered quinoa and set about growing it in the central North Island.

Dan and Jacqui Cottrell didn’t realise an overseas adventure would change their lives forever. 

The year was 2012 and the couple were making the most of their South American odyssey when they had an epiphany in Peru. 

They had been eating a lot of quinoa, of which 80% of the global supply is grown in Peru, on their trip.  . . 

 

DIRA changes fall short – farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers want dairy industry regulations to apply equally to all milk processors in New Zealand.

They still want an end to the open entry/exit provisions of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) and an end to Fonterra providing subsidised raw milk to rival processors.

However, in proposed DIRA changes the Government has retained the open entry provisions but has allowed Fonterra the right to refuse milk from suppliers who are “not compliant with the co-op rules and from new dairy conversions”. . . 

Small kiwifruit have big taste – Richard Rennie:

Fruit size is providing the headwind to the new kiwifruit season while taste is the tailwind thanks to an exceptional late season ripening period that has left Zespri marketers with a paradigm for foreign markets.

Zespri’s grower alliance manager David Courtney said Green fruit size this season is 2.5 sizes smaller than usual and SunGold two sizes down on usual with the long, dry, ripening period scaling fruit down but pushing up drymatter levels to create exceptionally well flavoured fruit.

“We have had one grower who has been growing kiwifruit for 40 years who said he has never reported better drymatter levels in his crop.” . . 

New Zealand’s most fertile land dug up for housing – Indira Stewart:

Over the last decade more than 200 produce growers in Auckland have closed up shop as more rural land has been rezoned to residential to keep up with the demand for housing.

Now, after 60 years of growing vegetables in South Auckland, celery farmer Stan Clark has decided to close up as well.

Mr Clark’s celery farms were re-zoned from rural to residential in 2009 and the rising land rates are making business unsustainable.

The family is preparing to sell their much-loved farms in Pukekohe, a suburb that holds some of the country’s most fertile land, much of which is being dug up for housing. . . 

Large-scale dairy conversion farm with its own lake-sized reservoir placed on the market for sale:

A large-scale dairy conversion farm – complete with a huge lake-like reservoir –which has seen primary sheep and beef production replaced over the past decade in favour of milking, has been placed on the market for sale.

Strathallan Station some 26-kilometres north-west of Gisborne is a 1,213-hectare property currently milking a herd of 1,000 cows. Towards the centre of the property is a two-and-a-half-metre-deep ‘reservoir’ lake large enough for recreational kayaking and duck hunting. The reservoir sustains not only the farm’s irrigation needs, but also its milk shed requirements. . .


Rural round-up

June 14, 2019

Progress persists amidst disruption – Hugh Stringleman:

The growing focus on food as medicine is driving massive change in the agri-food industry, KPMG agri-food senior manager Emma Wheeler says.

Writing in the 2019 Agribusiness Agenda she said the health and wellness decade has begun and is bringing disruption through innovation and technological transformation.

Consumer needs and demands underpin the pace of change. . .

‘Hyper farm’ to aid land decision-making:

Agresearch has teamed up with Dunedin tech company Animation Research Ltd to help farmers see the future.

The partnership is part of a research programme – the New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age (NZBIDA) – which has been designed to enable transformational change to the country’s agricultural sector and supply chains.

As one strand of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded programme, Dr Seth Laurenson and Dr Remy Lasseur are designing a “hyper farm” using ARL’s world-renowned visualisation technology.

It helped landowners to see what their properties would look like as a result of any changes as well as understand how changes would affect water quality, finances, carbon sequestration and biodiversity among other factors. . .

Feds finds useful policy ideas in National’s paper:

Federated Farmers is heartened that workforce issues are identified as a hot topic in the National Party’s ‘Primary Sector Discussion Document’, released today.

National is proposing better promotion of primary sector careers and increased vocational training opportunities. It is also floating the idea of an Agriculture Visa for migrant workers and nine-month dairy farm placements under an expanded RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme.

“Picking up on serious and persistent sector concerns, National also says it wants feedback on how to make Immigration NZ more responsive and accessible to employers facing labour shortages,” Federated Farmers Dairy chair and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says. . . 

Fonterra and farm leaders gripe at O’Connor’s DIRA decision – Greenpeace is even more grouchy – Point of Order:

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor didn’t win too many new friends  (and may have lost some) with his  decision  on the review of  the  Dairy Industry Restructuring  Act, the  2001  legislation  which set up  Fonterra  supposedly to   become  a  “ national  champion”.   

We  all know  how  that  has turned out.

So   what were the reactions to  O’Connor’s  latest  move to improve the  legislation  which initially had the  objective of  “promoting  the efficiency  of  NZ  dairy markets”?. .. 

New appointed director for Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board has appointed Dr Bruce Campbell, of Tai Tokerau Northland, as an appointed director.

Dr Campbell is experienced in governance, innovation, talent development and the future development of a wide range of horticulture sectors and was, until 2018, the Chief Operating Officer at Plant & Food Research. He has a particular interest in building partnerships with Māori to create new food businesses and also in growing career pathways to get talented people into horticulture. . .

Large rise in meat and dairy manufacturing:

The largest rise for five years in volumes of meat and dairy products drove manufacturing up for the second quarter in a row, Stats NZ said.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.0 percent in the March 2019 quarter, after a 2.4 percent rise in the December 2018 quarter. It was led by a strong 11 percent rise in meat and dairy products manufacturing. . .

Helping New Zealand farmers take care of our land:

New Zealand’s green reputation is one of this country’s strongest selling points, but how to manage the relationship between farming and the environment is complex and controversial.

How do we support New Zealand farmers transition to a more environmentally friendly and economically sustainable future?

The clamour to act urgently on climate change is adding pressure on farmers to manage environmental sustainability, but farmers often have to make trade-offs between what they want to develop and what’s affordable. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2019

A recipe for disaster:

That old saying about not being able to see the wood for the trees could well describe the government’s infatuation with forestry at the expense of farming.

Objections are growing stronger in rural New Zealand to the impact the ‘one billion trees’ programme will have on the regions’ farming landscapes, infrastructure and communities. Concern is such that a new lobby group has formed, wanting to preserve the economy, health and welfare of the NZ provinces.

Named 50 Shades of Green, it aims to convince politicians and decisionmakers that the current push to plant a billion trees will destroy the provinces and ultimately may endanger the national economy. . . 

DIRA review nibbles at the status quo and avoids the big questions – Keith Woodford:

The current review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) does not address the big decisions that face the New Zealand dairy industry. That may well be a wise decision by Government.

Big decisions will indeed be necessary over the coming years. Clearly, they are difficult decisions. However, trying to make those decisions through the DIRA mechanism would be a brave decision and, in all likelihood, with unintended consequences. So, the Government has stepped back.

Instead, Government is using DIRA to nibble around the edges.  Whether those nibbles are the correct nibbles remains a moot point. . . 

Rural real estate feeling the pinch in South Canterbury – Samesh Mohanlall:

Parts of the rural real estate market are struggling in Canterbury and South Canterbury with key industry figures saying they are concerned about the effect of compliance regulations, anti-farming rhetoric and Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) climate emergency declaration.

South Canterbury’s Federated Farmers president Jason Grant and rural estate agents say much of the gloomy projection in the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (Reinz) rural report stemmed from environmental constraints and negative sentiments “coming out around farming”.  . .

Carbon farms help soil, water – Annette Scott:

Carbon farming is about managing soil, vegetation, water and animals while turning opportunities on the farm into improved business performance and profitability.

All while ensuring long-term benefits to farm businesses, the local economy and the environment.

That was the buy-in for more than 60 farmers and industry stakeholders who attended a Canterbury Agribusiness carbon farming seminar.

Most attendees when asked why they attended said the same – to understand something that’s all a bit new and learn what opportunities are available to them. . . 

Nelson mums find solution for skin condition in the paddock – Anuja Nadkarni:

It all started with some flowers planted in a paddock.

Dot Kettle and her partner Georgia Richards traded in their fast-paced corporate lives in Wellington for a more relaxed life to raise their three boys in Dove Valley, 45 minutes from Nelson more than 10 years ago.

Kettle, a lawyer, and IT analyst Richards knew next to nothing about farming, but with 42 hectares of land, the couple decided to plant a field of peonies for export as they are the ideal blooms for Nelson’s climate. . . 

Dodgy fert size to get shake-up – Richard Rennie:

Lumpy, uneven and irregular fertiliser, long the bane of farmers and spreaders, will face tighter scrutiny once the Fertiliser Quality Council establishes standards for the product’s physical qualities.

While standards have been set for the mineral and nutrient content of fertiliser, council chairman Anders Crofoot admits it has taken longer than expected to set them for particle shape and size.

“Setting the chemical standard for fertilisers was fine and has worked well for a long time. . .

 


DIRA update disappoints

June 7, 2019

Proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act are a missed opportunity:

. . . Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan says that while the Government has recommended tweaks to the rules under which Fonterra has to give its farmers’ milk, effectively at cost price to foreign-backed competitors, the playing field is still tipped against New Zealand dairy farmers.

“Our farmer-owned Co-operative wants an industry that promotes investment across regional New Zealand and where profits are kept in New Zealand.  We stand for an industry where New Zealand farmers are paid well for their milk and the unique attributes of our environment are protected and enhanced.

“Given the significant increase in competition within the New Zealand dairy industry, we’re disappointed the Government did not recommend removing the requirement for us to supply our farmers’ milk to large, export-focused businesses altogether.

Farmers now have plenty of choice of processors and other companies should no longer need the safety net of Fonterra milk.

We welcome the Government’s decision to give Fonterra the right to refuse membership to our Co-op where a farm is unlikely to comply with our terms of supply, or where the farm is a new conversion. These changes will support our Co-op’s ability to meet our customers’ demands and continue leading the industry toward a sustainable future for our farmers and the rural communities in which they live and farm.” . . 

Forcing Fonterra to collect milk from anyone, anywhere has encouraged farm conversions in places where, had there been a choice, Fonterra would have turned them down. It has also given the company too little latitude with farmers that don’t meet its standards.

Fonterra Shareholders Council is disappointed with the proposed changes:

Today our farmers will be feeling ignored and frustrated. Despite their efforts to engage in meaningful consultation on changes to DIRA their voice has largely gone unheard as we continue to kick the can down the road with respect to essential change to this important piece of legislation. We do however acknowledge that we are only one of many stakeholders whose interests need to be considered.

This was an opportunity to focus on the wider industry, not just Fonterra, and to optimise value creation for New Zealand from the dairy sector. We are concerned the opportunity to shift DIRA’s purpose to the future and to enable the highest value creation from our milk hasn’t been fully taken up.

The proposed changes to open entry and exit, whilst helpful, do little to address the concerns of our farmers. Recognising the importance of dairy to regional New Zealand, the changes do not go far enough to address the current strong competition for milk and the risk of over-capacity. It’s disappointing that the industry wide solution to enable the removal of open entry, which was developed with Federated Farmers, has not been taken up.

The proposed changes to the milk price regime are of deep concern. Government having the right to nominate a member to the Milk Price Panel is a step too far and gives rise to a direct conflict with the independent oversight of the regime by the Commerce Commission.

MPI also had concerns aobut this:

. . . O’Connor plans to limit Fonterra’s ability to determine a key assumption in setting the base milk price, known as the asset beta.

He will also be able to nominate a member to Fonterra’s milk price panel, although that wasn’t taken to cabinet in the paper and regulatory impact assessments.

MPI did say external appointments to the panel were proposed in submissions but not considered.

“MPI considers that this would create issues of confidentiality and commercial sensitivity, potentially placing Fonterra at a competitive disadvantage,” it said. . . 

Back to the Shareholders Council:

There was strong farmer support for better milk price transparency from other processors and this has not been heard.

Our farmers support the need for a strong domestic market for consumers. However, access to regulated priced milk for all export focused processors should have been removed.

We are disappointed there is no firm position on the expiry of DIRA and when the New Zealand market for milk collection – whether national or regional – will be considered sufficiently competitive. And there is also no transition pathway to de-regulation. . . 

Fonterra’s dominance justified regulation when DIRA was first enacted but there is now sufficient competition from and strength in other companies to begin looking towards eventual deregulation.

Federated Farmers sees useful changes and a missed opportunity in the proposals:

“We’re disappointed that open entry provisions won’t be changed, other than relating to new conversions,” Feds Dairy Industry Group Chairperson Chris Lewis says.

“It’s nearly 20 years since this legislation was passed to ensure that with the formation of Fonterra, competition for farmer milk supply, and dairy product choice for consumers, was preserved.  The market is now mature enough, and competition among a host of processing companies robust enough, for Fonterra to be given some discretion over who it is required to pick up milk from.”

Today’s decisions announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor will give Fonterra some leeway over accepting milk from land newly converted to dairy, “and that’s good,” Lewis says.  “We await detail on what the definition of a ‘new conversion’ is.

“We’re also pleased that the amended DIRA will give more clarity on when Fonterra can refuse supply when a farmer is well below industry standards relating to the environment, animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions and the like.

“There are some farmers who have demonstrated their unwillingness to come up to the standard of all the other shareholder/suppliers out there.

“As with other aspects of the government’s announcements, the devil will be in the detail,” Lewis says. . . 

The government had the opportunity to make major changes to the DIRA, recognising changes in farming and the expansion of processing since the company was established in 2001.

Instead it’s just tinkered, leaving Fonterra and its shareholders to carry the costs of supplying competitors, most of which are overseas companies.


Rural round-up

April 27, 2019

Versatile farmer up for major honour – Sally Rae:

Southland dairy farmer Emma Hammond is a finalist in this year’s Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Before embarking on a dairy farming career, Mrs Hammond and husband Peter farmed sheep, and she worked in the technical, compliance and quality assurance area of the meat industry.

In 2008, they converted the East Limehills property to dairy and now run it as an equity partnership milking 475 cows, while wintering the cows and grazing the young stock on their home farm at Winton. . . 

No ‘major’ changes to DIRA – Nigel Malthus:

There will be no major changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

“It’s not broken,” he told a DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum in Timaru last week. “[But] there are some things that need to be tweaked.”

He said that the DIRA review needed to protect the position of dairy farmers. . . 

Hold those round you to your values – Julia Jones:

You should hold those around you accountable for their behaviour as you move towards making only values-based choices for your farming business, writes Julia Jones.

When choosing those who supply services or products to you or those to whom you supply your incredible produce, don’t focus on price – focus on picking those who best match your values.

Farming is shifting and evolving so fast, and every day you are working hard to make sure that your business is good for the environment, your family, your profitability, your health and your community. . . 

Farm gas cuts have substance – RIchard Rennie:

Greenhouse gas reduction has been added to the plethora of environmental expectations on the dairy sector in recent years. A DairyNZ demonstration day at St Peters’ School’s Owl Farm near Cambridge proved to farmers how it is possible to successfully reduce nutrient loss and gas emissions, often hand in hand. Richard Rennie went along to learn more.

TAKING an average Waikato dairy unit and reducing its nutrient footprint is an initial goal for DairyNZ researchers working with staff and directors of Owl Farm. 

The farm is one of 12 in the Partnership Farm Project, part of the industry’s effort to lower its nutrient and greenhouse gas footprint. . .

Revamp for regions’ pest control – Annette Scott:

A new biosecurity plan for pest management in Canterbury will better help landowners deal with future biosecurity threats, Environment Canterbury councillor Tom Lambie says.

The regional council identified an opportunity to review its biosecurity plan and pest management strategies under the Government’s biosecurity law changes.

The timing of the pest management review aligned with the adoption of the new Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan and changes to the rating mechanisms for biosecurity funding. . .

‘You get what you pay for’ – Paul Shoker, NSW Farmers – Daniel Pedersen:

PROCESSORS aren’t paying dairy farmers enough for their milk and as a result dairy farmers are cutting back on cow numbers, reducing their feed bills and irrigating less.

It’s a simple equation that NSW Farmers board member Paul Shoker believes needs interrogation by a federal “special commission of inquiry”.

“We don’t need a royal commission because its terms of reference would be too broad, we need an investigation into how retailers deal with farmers and suppliers to determine that relationship’s true impact on the market,” he said. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 26, 2019

Last calves go under the hammer – Sally Rae:

It was dubbed The Last Hurrah.

Rural folk from throughout the Catlins and further afield gathered on Thursday for the last-ever Owaka calf sale.

As the stories and nostalgia flowed – many commenting on how long it could take in years gone by to get home from the sale – there was also a touch of sadness.

PGG Wrightson, which owns and operates the saleyards, is moving the sale from next year to a special sale day at the Balclutha saleyards. . .

Pilot ‘trees and carbon’ workshop proves popular – Sally Brooker:

A pilot project helping farmers make the most of the One Billion Trees Fund has generated a lot of interest.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a series of workshops in the central South Island this month called ”Farms, Trees and Carbon”.

Experts from Wairarapa forestry and marginal land use advisory and management company Woodnet presented an overview of global warming and New Zealand’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.

Then they discussed possibilities for plantings on attendees’ land. . . 

‘Serious pest’ affecting avocado trees discovered in Auckland

An avocado tree-loving beetle, regarded as a serious pest overseas, has been discovered in Auckland.

The wood-boring granulate ambrosia beetle has been detected in four Auckland areas since late February, according to Biosecurity New Zealand.

The beetle is known to feed on a wide range of broadleaf trees, including horticultural species such as avocado, and can spread fungal diseases. . . 

Primary sector attitudes give lessons for life – Bryan Gibson:

It has been a challenging week or so in New Zealand as we all try to make sense of the events in Christchurch on March 15. We’ve all been doing some soul-searching, wondering about the foundations of our society and how it will recover from this tragedy.

As an island nation at the bottom of the world many of us might have thought we were isolated from the hatred that we see in much of the world at the moment.

But we’d be wrong to think that. Our nation was formed through conflict and to this day we often express our fear of others through anger. It might help for rural communities and primary producers to reflect on our make-up. People of all nationalities work the land, grow the crops, pick the fruit and milk the cows. There’s only four million of us here but we produce enough to feed many more people so we’ve had to form partnerships with other nations to sell our great food internationally. . . 

Dairy dramas – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers face a strange mix of uncertainties when contemplating with satisfaction the likelihood of a fourth consecutive season of $6-plus milk prices.

While extreme volatility in dairy product prices has calmed down and New Zealand farmers now receive as good as others in Europe and the United States, their institutions have developed cracks.

There might be no better time to rebuild the foundation, beginning with the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, part 2019.

Last week Fonterra’s leaders promised for the third or fourth time since the embarrassment of their first financial loss in 2018 a fundamental strategy review. . . 

NZ Champion of Cheese Medals Announced:

NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019 has awarded 223 medals to locally-made cheese, proving the quality of New Zealand speciality cheese continues to improve.

Organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards has been run since 2003. The Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal winners have been announced today, with the Gold Medal winners vying for one of 26 cheese trophies, which will be announced in Hamilton in May. All the New Zealand Champion of Cheese medal winners are on the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/winners/. . .

Hawke’s Bay dairy farm opportunity on market:

A top-end Patoka dairy farm with consents in place to increase its output by 30 percent for at least the next 10-years has been placed on the market for sale. With Hawke’s Bay’s land values around half of some other districts, the returns from this property would likely be stronger than anywhere else.

Raumati Dairy some 41-kilometres north-west of Napier is a 458-hectare property milking a herd of between 730 – 750 cows, but with consent from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to stock up to 1000 cows through to 2028. It ticks all the environmental boxes too with riparian areas fenced off. A 60 bail rotary, 600 cow feed pad and all the bells and whistles make this a must view. . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2019

Rural sector gives thumbs down to capital gains tax – Jamie Gray:

The rural sector has given an unequivocal thumbs down to the Tax Working Group’s recommendation to bring in an comprehensive capital gains tax.

The group has recommended the Government implement a capital gains tax – and use the money gained to lower the personal tax rate and to target polluters.

The suggested capital gains tax (CGT) would cover assets such as land, shares, investment properties, business assets and intellectual property. . . 

Fonterra farmers frustrated with DIRA – Hugh Stringleman:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council has called for an end to open entry to the co-operative and a clear path to dairy industry deregulation.

In its submission to the Ministry of Primary Industries review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act the council also called for an end to access to regulated milk by other export processors.

Goodman Fielder should be entitled to buy Fonterra milk for domestic purposes only, the submissions said.

Council chairman Duncan Coull also called for all other dairy companies to be required to publish their milk prices in a standardised form. . . 

Wool levy vote welcomed, but clear plan preferred – Ken Muir:

While farmers and industry leaders welcomed news that the Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Council voted last week to support a compulsory wool levy on wool producers, there was a clear preference for any such levy to be applied on the context of a robust business plan.

”We’ve had lots of different levies over the years for the industry and at the end of the day farmers saw very little return,” Waikoikoi farmer Blair Robertson said.

”Going forward we have to make sure the money gets to where it needs to be – marketing and promoting wool products to end customers.”

He said in the past bureaucracies had grown around the sector which chewed through millions of dollars while providing very little in return. . . 

Sexist comments on job ad damage New Zealand’s image, farmers warn – Esther Taunton:

Sexist responses to a backpacker’s job ad are a blow to New Zealand’s image and to an industry already struggling to find good workers, farmers warn.

Finnish traveller Mari Vahanen advertised on a farming Facebook page, saying she was a hardworking farmhand or machine operator.

The post received 1600 responses, but most of them focused on Vahanen’s appearance rather than her employment prospects.

Tararua dairy farmer Micha Johansen said the comments were a bad look for New Zealand’s agricultural sector and the country in general.  . .

Waikato farmers encouraged to plant trees to protect stock from summer heat – Kelly Tantau:

With temperatures soaring above 30 degrees in Matamata-Piako, a thought can be spared for the district’s livestock.

Cows prefer cooler weather, Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said, but farmers are doing well in ensuring their stock is protected during the summer season.

“Animal welfare and animal husbandry is probably the number one thing, because that’s what is earning you your income, so protecting and looking after them, but also looking after staff as well,” he said. . . 

Ninety seven A&P shows beckon – Yvonne O’Hara:

Geoff Smith attends as many A&P shows as he can during the season and there are 97 of them.

In his third year as the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society’s (RAS) president, he spends time finding ways to ensure the shows remain relevant to their communities, as well as building relationships with other rural and civic organisations.

He is in Central Otago this week to go to the Mt Benger, Central Otago and Maniototo shows, as well as attending the society’s southern district executive meeting in Tapanui on Sunday. . . 

NZ company helping write global cannabis industry standards:

Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis Company has been in Rome this week participating in an international standards setting meeting for the cannabis industry. The meeting included recommended changes to the way cannabis is defined in both legal and scientific terms.

ASTM International, a global industry standards body with 30,000 members worldwide representing more than 20 industry sectors held a workshop in Rome under its technical committee D37 on Cannabis. The group of 600 industry experts are working to develop standards for cannabis products testing and production processes across the globe.

The group aims to meet the needs of the legal cannabis industry by addressing quality and safety issues through the development of classifications, specifications, test methods, practices, and guides for cultivation, manufacturing, quality assurance, laboratory considerations, packaging, and security. . . 


Rural round-up

February 20, 2019

Fonterra wants many DIRA changes – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra wants to ditch the requirement for it to take all milk if its market share drops below 75% in a region.

It also wants to exclude big processors except Goodman Fielder from accessing its milk at the regulated raw milk price.

Instead it wants to introduce a 12c/kg handling fee, it says in its submission to the Primary Industries Ministry’s review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

All other processors should be required to publish their average milk price paid to farmers and details of how they set it, Fonterra said.

DIRA should evolve to cover the whole dairy industry and not just control Fonterra. . . 

Otago young farmers lay claim to two titles – Sally Rae:

Otago can lay claim to three new national champions – all in the rural sector. Luke Kane (30) and Isaac Johnston (25), from West Otago, won the national fencing competition held recently as part of the New Zealand Young Farmers conference.

Elizabeth Graham (21), who lives on her parents’ farm at Hindon, won the national stock-judging title. . .

Duck eggs hatch into growing business – Luke Chivers:

Taranaki duck farmers Dawn and Glen Bendall are earning a living out of making people, including themselves, healthier. Luke Chivers reports. 

It is 7.30am in deepest, darkest winter.

As daylight breaks on mountainous, coastal Taranaki Urenui duck farmer Dawn Bendall is preparing her children for school before fossicking around in wood shavings up to 25 centimetres deep to retrieve 400 eggs.

“The ducks will dig up, they’ll lay and then they will cover the egg up again.

“It’s their little way of not letting the vermin get to the egg so I don’t know what they think of me,” she says, laughing. . . 

Riparian planting cleans Waikato dairy farm river – Hunter Calder:

From above it looks like any other river.

But up close, the Marokopa River through Ruawai Farm in Te Anga is exceptionally clear.

Data collected by Waikato Regional Council shows the water quality is some of the best in the region.

The river rates particularly highly for macroinvertebrates – tiny creatures without backbones such as insects and worms. The more of those, the healthier the water. . . 

Bounce in deer numbers :

Farmed deer numbers, including the number of breeding hinds and fawns, increased in 2018 according to provisional agriculture census figures released by Statistics New Zealand.

This follows a small recovery in stag numbers in the 2017 census.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup says the trend is a strong indication of growing farmer confidence in the viability of deer in a drystock farming operation. . . 

Wrightson cleared to sell seeds business – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson has been cleared to sell its seeds business to Denmark’s DLF Seeds.

The Commerce Commission said the $434 million transaction, announced in August, was unlikely to substantially reduce competition in any of the markets it assessed.

DLF is not at present a close competitor of PGG Wrightson Seeds in respect of ryegrass seeds containing endophytes and is unlikely to be so in the future,” deputy chair Sue Begg said. . .

Trade deals with Africa would help continent grow – Marian L. Tupy :

In December 2018, Donald Trump approved a new strategy for Africa that includes increasing US commercial ties with the continent. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s strategy “is part of a broader effort…to fight for global supremacy with Russia and China”. Geopolitical considerations aside, freer trade between the United States and Africa makes good economic sense that’s bound to become more obvious over time.

Today, the economy of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is small, accounting for some 2 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Between 1960 and 2017, SSA GDP grew from $252 billion to $1.75 trillion. The world economy grew from $11.3 trillion to $80 trillion (all figures are in 2010 US dollars). That amounts to an average annual compounded growth rate of about 3.4 per cent and 3.43 per cent respectively.

The United Nations estimates that over the next 50 years, the SSA and world populations will grow at average compounded annual rates of 2.05 per cent and 0.63 per cent respectively. SSA’s population will thus increase from 1.1 billion to 3.1 billion and the world’s population will increase from 7.7 billion to 10.6 billion. That means that SSA will account for roughly 30 per cent of the world’s population in 2070. . . 

Trace elements a solution close to home :

Despite New Zealand’s relatively benign climate lending itself so well to pastoral farming, its soils can hide some chronic mineral deficiencies that can undo the efforts of the best farm managers as they try to get the most out of their stock.

Richard Sides, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health NZ technical veterinarian is urging farmers to look harder at what may be holding their stock’s performance back, and says the answer may be easier to find than they first thought. . . 


Rural round-up

December 14, 2018

Windsor Blue off to home of cheese– Simon Hartley:

Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese has clinched an important export deal, having just delivered its first consignment of 100 rounds of Vintage Windsor Blue cheese to France.

Whitestone managing director Simon Berry said that to be shipping to Europe where cheesemaking was established showed that ”as new-world cheesemakers we’re coming of age”.

The first pallet-sized consignment, weighing about 250kg, was pre-sold to multiple customers and then delivered to France last month, with a follow-up order expected in the new year. . .

Grape, cheery growers competing for land – Guy Williams:

Wine and cherry growers are competing for land, resources and labour as both industries experience strong growth.

Mt Difficulty Wines co-owner James Dicey, of Bannockburn, said much of the planned investment in horticulture in Central Otago was expected to be in new cherry orchards.

That industry was undergoing a boom after several good years, with the total number of hectares planted in cherries poised to overtake grapes. . .

Farmers want DIRA gone – Annette Scott:

Farmers delivered a consistent message to the Ministry for Primary Industries when they met in Ashburton to consult on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act review.

“We are a bit over it, and that’s an understatement,” Mid Canterbury dairying stalwart Ted Rollinson said.

His sentiment was largely echoed by all farmers at the meeting that unanimously agreed it’s time for open entry and exit to go, followed by raw milk regulations and access to regulated milk for Goodman Fielder. . . 

Approval given for Alliance to bring in workers – Alan Williams:

Meat processor Alliance has approval to bring in 100 workers from overseas for its Lorneville sheep plant in Invercargill.

They’re expected to be on hand for the peak February to May period, Alliance people and safety general manager Chris Selbie said.

“We’re delighted as it will make a real difference in addressing the staff shortages we had last season.

“We’ll start now to get on and find them.” . . .

Ahead with technology – Anne Hardie:

A cow chewing her cud has long been an indicator of cow health. Anne Hardie reports how monitoring collars can help show how a cow’s ruminations are affected by the state of their health.

Information from cow monitoring collars shows Adam McManaway and Kirsten Daymond the changes in ruminations and activity of every cow in their 465-cow herd so they know the state of their health long before an issue is picked up by eye.

Whether it’s calving, cycling, lameness, mastitis or anything that interrupts their usual grazing pattern, it will affect rumination and activity which is revealed on the computer graphs, or in acute situations prompt a notification from the phone app.

The couple are 50:50 sharemilkers 15 minutes north of Murchison in the Top of the South and were a demonstration farm for the Allflex Livestock Intelligence collars for the first couple of years. It was a convincing experiment for them and when it finished a year ago, they invested in collars for the entire herd which was a big financial commitment for a couple who had just taken on their first sharemilking contract. . . 

Local lingo keeps Uruguay pair on toes – Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago farmers have their own way of speaking, which makes it interesting for Uruguayan students Lorena Andiarena (21) and Ana Goncalvez (24).

Ms Andiarena comes from Salto and usually works on her parents’ 350ha beef property while studying to be a veterinarian. ‘

‘I have been all my life in agriculture,” she said. Ms Goncalvez is from Tacuarembo and had been studying farm management


Rural round-up

November 12, 2018

Fonterra hopes for collaboration in review of regulating law – Jeremy Rees:

Fonterra has welcomed the review of the law which governs it and urged farmers and shareholders to work with the government to get it right.

At its annual meeting, Fonterra chairman John Monaghan told the 360 farmers in the audience that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), which regulated the company was a complex piece of legislation but it was important to get any changes right.

“Let’s be clear. Fonterra’s performance, good or bad, is not driven by DIRA,” he said.

“But an updated DIRA can deliver our shared vision for the future of the New Zealand dairy industry.”

The government began in May a review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 which sets the parameters for Fonterra, the co-operative dairy giant. . . 

Fonterra is under attack from all sides, and now from within, as it grapples with issues that date back to 2001. These restraints allow its competitors to pick away at its good bits. China holds a tariff lever over NZ policymakers – Guy Trafford:

A busy week for Fonterra with the appointment of the two new directors and one still to come. Later today comes the result of the asset review instigated after the poor results from last season.

One of the new directors, Leonie Guiney has made her position plain in September she was quoted saying she wants the company to shift its whole strategy away from investments, like Beingmate and China Farms, which she says are “beyond our capability”.

If Fonterra thought they may get an easier path in the future through a revamp of the DIRA, the indications coming out are any thing to go by they are going to be disappointed. In fact, some are suggesting that the goal posts have been moved further away with a 70% mark as the point which is more likely to trigger a freeing up of some of the constraints the Coop is required to operate under. . .

New directorate to run M bovis programme – Annette Scott:

The new Mycoplasma bovis Response Directorate will provide a more robust model for the ongoing response to the cattle disease.

The directorate has been established after the decision by the Government and industry to try to eradicate M bovis and in consultation with Ministry for Primary Industries staff.

MPI response and readiness director Geoff Gwyn has been appointed to lead the new body.

Gwyn has headed the M bovis response since the cattle disease was found in July 2017. . . .

Swarmstorm design to benefit beekeepers:

Hobby beekeepers could have an alternative product to recollect swarms and maintain bee reproduction rates thanks to the work of Massey University industrial design student Liam Brankin.

The 22 year-old has devised a prototype backpack he calls the Swarmstorm that uses a suction hose, similar to a household vacuum cleaner, to suck and capture bees into a cardboard container before they are transferred to hives to continue the reproduction and honey-producing process.

His design is part of the Exposure graduate exhibition of final year work by design, art, creative media and music students from the College of Creative Arts, which opens at the Wellington campus on Friday.  . . .

Commission authorises extending restrictions on infant formula marketing ;

The Commerce Commission has authorised members of the Infant Nutrition Council Limited to extend the advertising and marketing restrictions in their Code of Practice to cover infant formula products for children aged up to 12 months of age.

Currently, the restrictions only apply to infant formula products for children aged up to six months of age. The INC asked the Commission to authorise the extended advertising and marketing restrictions, as the extended restrictions may lessen competition. . .

Nursery industry congratulate Young Hort 2018 runner-up:

Runner up Young Horticulturalist of the year, Devin Westley, is an extraordinary young man with a huge passion for his work as a nurseryman and innovator in the industry.

His employer, Southern Woods Nursery and the NZ Plant Producers’ Industry are delighted with his placing in the New Zealand Young Horticulturalist 2018 competition.

Devin also took home awards for best practice, practical activities and best speech on the night at the award’s dinner in Auckland last night. . . 


Rural round-up

November 4, 2018

Farmers promoting safe stress-free workplace: – Sally Rae:

At Huntly Road Dairies, Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells have a philosophy when it comes to staff.

“They don’t work for us. We work with them. I think there’s a bit of a difference there,” Mr Wells explained.

And the Outram dairy farmer never expected any staff to do something on the farm that he had not done, or was not capable of doing. . . 

Farmers: DIRA past use-by date:

Farmers at the launch of public consultation on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act review are united in their belief its days are numbered.

The act has achieved its purpose Otago farmers told Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor who told them at the launch on Duncan and Anne-Marie Well’s Taieri farm the 2001 law had enabled the dairy industry to grow in volume, to innovate and for new companies to establish.

It is time for a review but that process has also been triggered by Fonterra’s share of South Island milk falling below 80%. . . 

Seeking a place to call home:

Making time for family and friends is important to a Waikato farming family. Fritha Tagg reports.

Farm facts
Owner: Piako Middle Farm
Sharemilkers: Olin and Anna Greenan
Location: Morrinsville, Waikato
Farm size: 214ha, two dairy sheds
Cows: 650 Friesian and crossbred
Production: Target 1100kg MS/ha
Farm working expenses: $1.90 . . 

New screen fish friendly, automated: – Yvonne O’Hara:

Fish no longer die and hours of labour have been saved each day after a new ”quantum leap” piece of equipment was installed as part of the Galloway Irrigation Company’s pumping system recently.

A new, specially adapted, self-cleaning, fish-friendly screen has been added to prevent fish and other debris from getting trapped. The water leaves the Manuherikia River, travels up a race, through the pumping infrastructure and then back to the river. . .

Giving up meat won’t save the cliamte – Frank M Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change. . . 

What’s happening in rural Aoteraroa-NZ?:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around Aotearoa New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Te Ika-a-Māui-North Island

In Northland at least 30 millimetres fell and some lucky farms received between 50-70. It was really needed and may let some farmers shut up silage paddocks which they haven’t been able to do so far. Recently sown crops will germinate but follow up rain is required. The main cloud on the horizon is, with a lot of beef cattle in the region, the dropping schedule price and what will happen from now on. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 3, 2018

Fonterra fails test –  Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra achieved a positive result in only one of its nine key performance indicators in the 2018 financial year, its Shareholders’ Council says.

That one positive was the milk price of $6.69/kg MS up 9% from the season before.

Negative achievements against targets were recorded for the total amount available for payout, earnings per share, consumer and food service volume, the gearing ratio, working capital days, return on capital, milk volume collected and employee injuries. . .

Law change could target farmers with poor environmental record – Maja Burry:

Farmers and other stakeholders are being asked to have their say on legislation governing the nearly $17 billion diary industry. 

In May, the government began a review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) 2001, which regulates Fonterra as the dominant player in the market to protect farmers, consumers and the wider economy.

The review will look at how the price of raw milk is set for farmers, how competitive the milk market is – as well as incentives for farmers to move into more sustainable production methods. . .

Fonterra acknowledges release of DIRA options paper:

Fonterra acknowledges the release today of the Government’s options paper on the review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The Act is a complex piece of legislation and it’s important to New Zealand that the review is thorough.

We recognise the significant work that the Ministry for Primary Industries and Minister O’Connor have put into the document and we appreciate their high degree of engagement with industry so far. . . 

Not meeting honey rules cost Auckland businessman $26,000:

An Auckland businessman has been fined more than $26,000 for offences related to making false therapeutic claims about honey and failing to ensure he was a registered exporter.

Jonathan Paul Towers, 43, has been sentenced in the Auckland District Court and fined $26,300 after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Food Act and one charge under the Animal Products Act. . .

WIL locks in $11.5 M toward revised Dam cost:

To secure a 100-year water supply for Tasman and Nelson through the Waimea Community Dam, a group of local businesses has committed to invest $11 million in Waimea Irrigators Limited. Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) is issuing a Replacement Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to shareholders today detailing its additional investment of $11.5 million in the $102 million Dam project.

In August it was announced that the cost of the project increased by $26 million. Subsequently, Tasman District Council (TDC) approved a revised funding proposal that included a greater WIL contribution. Through an investor vehicle and additional in loan funding from Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL), WIL can meet its commitment to the project. . . 

Bird Mask’ now available to buy

Off the back of some seriously positive chirping, Air New Zealand and material innovation brand Allbirds have made their collaboratively designed eye mask, dubbed the ‘Bird Mask’, available to purchase online and at selected Nordstrom stores in the United States. . .

From today, fans of the Bird Mask can purchase their very own mask through the Allbirds online store, the Air New Zealand Airpoints™ Storeand Air New Zealand merchandise store, and at Nordstrom stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. . .


Not as ungreen as painted

August 28, 2018

Mainstream and social media has had lots of stories about opposition to plans for a dairy farm at Simons Pass.

Neal Wallace provides some balance showing the plans aren’t as ungreen as they’re being painted:

. . . The Murray Valentine portrayed by critics of the dairy farm he is building on Simons Pass Station near Lake Pukaki is an uncaring, heartless capitalist, devoid of any ethics who plans to milk 15,000 cows on the most environmentally sensitive land in the South Island.

The Murray Valentine who occupies an orderly but busy office in Dunedin’s central city is genial, reserved, studied, methodical and who, true to his accountancy profession, makes decisions on fact not emotion.

He is not going to milk 15,000 cows on Simons Pass. . . 

Of the 800,000ha in the Upper Waitaki catchment, about 250,000ha is flat to rolling country that can be farmed. There is sufficient water allocated to irrigate about 25,000ha.

Valentine’s plans, which have never been a secret, are to irrigate 4500ha.

“Not many people who oppose me, I believe, have read the consent.”

Many of the people who oppose this and other similar plans tend to be driven by emotion not facts.

Valentine said critics demand he rip up his consents but that is not an option given the long, drawn-out process to secure them, dating back to soon after 2004 purchase of the property by his family trust.

He now has all the consents needed and started milking 800 cows this season.

That will progressively grow over seven years to about 5000 cows through three sheds.

Forty centre pivots will irrigate the 4500ha, of which about 1500ha will be the dairy platform. The rest will be dairy support, dairy-cross beef finishing and a halfbred sheep breeding unit.

Valentine said Simons Pass will be a closed unit worked in conjunction with a 2000-cow dairy farm he owns in North Otago.

He has made several significant and costly concessions including agreeing to control weeds and pests on 2500ha of ecologically-significant land he set aside for conservation as part of his irrigation consent.

The retired land dissects his farm in a large S shape and Valentine will protect it with 30km of rabbit fencing at a cost of $11.50 a metre.

That’s more than $300,000 of fencing alone.

A further 1300ha of land closest to Lake Pukaki was retired to the Crown under a tenure review agreement. . .

His consent requires annual monitoring of water quality at his boundary.

He intends doing it monthly to ensure he gets an accurate picture of the quality of water leaving the property and can respond quickly to any issues.

Technology measuring irrigation rates, soil moisture and the weather will help decision-making while drones will monitor the centre pivots and stock troughs.

Water for the small area of irrigation the previous owners and neighbour had consent for came from the Maryburn Stream but Valentine has invested $8 million in an 8km pipe delivering water from the Tekapo hydroelectric canal to his boundary, allowing the Maryburn consent to be retired.

“I believe I have shown enough responsibility on the conservation side. I am not shirking my responsibility.”  . . .

Many of those opposing the development paint the area as an unspoiled wilderness, but it’s not and one of the things spoiling it is hieracium.

The invasive weed hieracium is encroaching over much of the basin, killing tussock and causing soil loss through erosion.

Photos taken on Simons Pass in the 1970s showed tussock at hip height but 20 years later the weed has rendered the land barren.

“Most people would describe it as a desert.”

Cultivation and fertiliser in recent years have restored vegetative cover. . . 

Keeping invasive weeds at bay is costly in financial terms. Not doing it is expensive in environmental terms.

The Lindis Pass, which is not far from the Mackenzie, used to be covered in tussock. Year by year hieracium has taken over and hillsides which once waved with tussocks are now bare and erosion-prone.

If Fonterra wasn’t required to pick up milk from anyone who wants to be a supplier it’s possible that dairying in the Mackenzie wouldn’t be viable.

But unless, and until, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act is changed to allow Fonterra to say no to would-be suppliers, the company has no choice about where suppliers farm.

Opposition to the plans has got personal, overlooking the fact that Valentine has spent six years and a considerable amount of money getting consents.

If those opposing the plans have grounds for their concerns they should be aiming at the consenting authorities and process, not the man.


Rural round-up

August 15, 2018

Appeal decision a win for irrigators but more work needs to be done:

An appeal to Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 nutrient modelling rules has been resolved with a major win achieved for irrigators, says IrrigationNZ.

A Hearings Panel on the Plan Change proposed a new requirement that would have effectively required that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. It was estimated that this change would cost irrigators $300 million.

All parties to the appeal agreed that an error in law had been made when the Hearing Panel introduced this as a new requirement because no submitter had asked for this change.

INZ carried out testing on 300 irrigation systems in Ashburton and Selwyn districts over two summers recently which found that older spray irrigation systems can achieve good levels of water efficiency if regular checking and maintenance is carried out

First M bovis case confirmed near Motueka in Tasman – Sara Meij:

The first case of M. Bovis has been confirmed in the Nelson region.

Biosecurity New Zealand said on Tuesday a property near Motueka, in the Tasman district, had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease.

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm.

The farm was identified through tracing animals from known infected farms and it was now under a Restricted Place Notice, which meant it was in “quarantine lockdown”, restricting the movement of animals and other “risk goods” on and off the farm. . .

At the grassroots: farmers contribute too – John Barrow:

I recently returned a little disappointed from the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch.

From a dairy farmer’s perspective I was disappointed at the lack of recognition of the cost of farming and issues we are facing – all the emphasis was on urban.

The conference theme was We are Firmly Focused on the Future: Future Proofing for a Prosperous and Vibrant NZ. . .

Draft report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids for the season just ended.

The report does not cover the forecast 2018/19 price of $7.00 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success.

MOBH Farm, an equity partnership made up of Kevin Hall, Tim Montgomerie, Jodie Heaps and Mark Turnwald, won two category awards as well as being named the supreme winner at the 2018 Dairy Business of the Year awards (DBOY). . .

Farmers rally around Cancer Society fundraiser at Feilding Hogget Fair – Paul Mitchell:

The rural community is banding together to get behind the Cancer Society, with personal connections running as deep as their pockets.

The annual Hogget Fair at the Feilding Stockyards on Wednesday is one of the biggest in New Zealand. For the second year running, farmers will donate sheep to help those who are doing it tough.

The money raised from selling the sheep will go directly to supporting Manawatū-Whanganui cancer patients. . .

Rare heifer triplets thriving on Taieri farm – Sally Rae:

Holy cow – it’s a girl. Or in the case of a heifer calving on a Taieri dairy farm last week, it was a gaggle of girls, handful of heifers.

The first-calver produced a very rare set of heifer triplets on the Miller family’s farm at Maungatua. Andrew Miller and his father Jim had never encountered triplet calves before.

Andrew was particularly amazed the Kiwi-cross calves had all survived and were now doing well in the calf shed. . .

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