Rural round-up

02/09/2021

How dairy farmers can look after their mental health during lockdown – Sam Owen:

Dairy farmers may be essential workers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “business as usual” when it comes to mental health during lockdown. Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen offers practical advice on how to look after family, friends, staff and yourself.

Murphy’s Law – after dodging a bit of a bullet in 2020, Covid has now reared its ugly head during one of the busiest times on farm.

Luckily, there are so many ways we can look after not only ourselves, but our staff and others in our rural communities as well.

We all know that keeping good mental health during the spring period is critical. But what does that actually look like in practice? . . 

Keep in contact with each other’ – Peter Burke:

Keep connecting. That’s the message to farmers from the chair of the Rural Support Trust, Neil Bateup.

He told Dairy News that since lockdown the trust probably haven’t had as many requests as they normally get, but the trust is still there to help.

He says because of the Covid lockdown they won’t go out to a farm unless it’s an emergency but people can still do things by phone.

An issue that has cropped up, and one that is hard to deal with, is when farm staff change jobs and problems arise. Bateup says the best they can do is refer individuals to MPI or Federated Farmers, who can help deal with contractual matters. . .

Escalating women leaders :

”To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why,’” says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Donna, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire.

Donna says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Lip Gloss and Gumboots:

While some people are attracted to the more solitary parts of a rural working life, many farming women seek out others going through the same experiences, according to Ravensdown shareholder Jo Hay.

“Farming can be a pretty lonely lifestyle. It’s important for women in agriculture to have a supportive group where they can discuss their experiences and bring their ideas to life.”

Jo Hay and husband Ross have operated a family sheep and beef farm in Herbert, 20 minutes south of Oamaru since 2006. Jo was a teacher in Oamaru for 6 years before returning to farm life after the birth of their first child.

That’s when she took part in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) “Understanding Your Farming Business” course. . .

Helping farmers find ‘aha’ moments – Alice Scott:

Helping farmers find their “aha moments” was Steven Nichol’s reason for choosing to step away from the day-to-day rigours of running his own farm and set up a farm consultancy business.

Mr Nichol grew up on the family farm at Clarks Junction and, in 2007, he was able to farm a portion of the family property as a stand-alone economic unit.

“I reflect back on those early years; all the things I wish I knew then that I know now. The thing that always used to bug me was finding ways to create a farming system that would produce consistently good results.”

A season could be impacted in many ways and Mr Nichol said it was learning how to measure those variables in order to make “proactive decisions” rather than “reactive moves”. . . 

‘It’s not the cow, it’s the how’: why a long-time vegetarian became beef’s biggest champion – Patrick Barkham:

Nicolette Hahn Niman was an environmental lawyer who became a cattle rancher, and didn’t eat meat for 33 years. For both the ecosystem and human health, she argues, it’s how animals are farmed that matters.

After refusing to eat meat for 33 years, Nicolette Hahn Niman bit tentatively into a beefburger two years ago. She had become a vegetarian because she was concerned about animal welfare and the environmental cost of meat. Unlike most vegetarians, she had experience of the dire conditions on factory farms during her career as an environmental lawyer campaigning against pollution caused by industrial meat production in the US. Then she married a farmer.

Hahn Niman’s journey from vegetarian activist to cattle rancher to writing a book called Defending Beef may be driven by love, but it is also informed by a lawyerly desire to stick up for small farmers besieged by the growing ethical and environmental clamour against meat. The burger turned out to be an unexpectedly delicious brief pleasure, but it was the 18 years working on the ranch alongside the man who grilled it – and raised the cow – her husband, Bill Niman, that inspired her. . . 


Rural round-up

24/07/2021

How real is the rural-urban divide? – Laura Walters:

If New Zealand is going to move towards a more sustainable primary sector, then media, politicians and fringe groups need to stop stoking division, writes Laura Walters.

Last week thousands of farmers descended on towns and cities across the country for the so-called Howl of Protest, a demonstration against government policies that farmers say are severely damaging the rural sector. The Southland town of Gore was gridlocked with 600 tractors, 1200 utes, and about 50 truck and trailer units. Overhead, four helicopters and a plane got in on the action. Similar scenes played out all over New Zealand. A resident of one provincial city described it as “the best Santa Parade, ever”.

To some onlookers, the protests would seem illustrative of a rural sector that is resistant to change, a far cry from the sorts of innovative, sustainable ideas – a whiskey distillery on a sheep and beef farm, for example, or an organic co-op with a reduced environmental footprint – that are celebrated on the likes of Country Calendar.

Ahead of the Howl of Protest, many left-wing politicians, farming industry bodies and even portions of the rural community itself predicted the protests would be dominated by this staunchly conservative rural minority. In anticipation of division and backlash, they distanced themselves from the protests. . .

Let’s get the real picture! – Dairy News:

 Just as Southland farmers were receiving praise from local authorities on their improved winter grazing practices, new photos surfaced of cows knee-deep in mud.

While there is debate about the authenticity of the latest photos, reportedly taken by environmental activist Geoff Reid, the truth remains that not all farmers are following winter grazing rules to the fullest.

Sadly, it is this small group of farmers who are trashing the reputation of hundreds of others doing the right thing.

Such farmers are only providing ammunition to activists roaming dairy paddocks with cameras and drones hoping to find distressed cows lying in mud and reigniting the debate on banning winter grazing practices. . .

African Swine Fever in Germany raises fears in New Zealand herds

There’s alarm in New Zealand’s pork industry following the discovery of the devastating pig disease, African Swine Fever, in Germany’s commercial pig farms.

The disease forced China, the world’s largest pig producer, to cull about half its herd after an outbreak two years ago.

NZ Pork chief executive David Baines said Germany now found the disease had gone from its wild herds into commercial farms.

Germany is the EU’s largest pork exporter, with product coming to New Zealand. . . 

A win-win deal for consumers and farmers – Annette Scott:

Thousands more Kiwi homes will be carpeted in wool following a landmark agreement between Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) and leading retailer Flooring Xtra.

Other independent retail stores are also in the partnership mix with WNZ in its bid to get affordable wool carpets into NZ homes.

Starting this month, WNZ will manufacture and supply wool carpet to Flooring Xtra’s 61 stores and independent flooring retailers across NZ.

Priced competitively compared with synthetic carpets, means New Zealanders have a genuine choice between a synthetic product or a natural product direct from WNZ’s 730 farmer-grower shareholders, WNZ chief executive John McWhirter says. . . 

LIC annual results: Farmers investing in high value genetics to help meet sector’s climate goals:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2021, reporting increased revenue, profit and a strong balance sheet with no debt at year end.

The farmer-owned co-operative will return $17.8 million in dividend to shareholders, which equates to 12.51 cents per share. The fully imputed dividend represents a 14.4% gross yield based on the current share price of $1.21. The dividend will be distributed on 20 August.

“The LIC Board is proud to present another strong result to our farmer shareholders for the fourth consecutive year,” said Murray King, LIC Board Chair.

“This result is in line with our market guidance and a credit to our shareholders for their support of significant initiatives in the last five years to transform LIC into a modern, progressive co-op. These initiatives have delivered the benefits we said they would, including focussed investment in the business and a better return for our farmers. . .

It is time to tell the truth about whole milk – Arden Tewksbury

I recently had a conversation with one of our member dairy farmers who has been a patient in at least two different hospitals. At one of those hospital, he asked for whole milk with his lunch. He was told that milk “ is not good for you.” He asked to see the dietician who met with him and told him milk is not good for you.

Several weeks later, this farmer was admitted into a second hospital and again, at lunch, he asked for whole milk. He got the same reply, “I am sorry, milk is not good for you.”

So this time he asked to speak to the hospital’s top dietician who claimed that milk was not good because “it is 100% fat!” He told her that you would need a knife and fork to eat it because it would be hard cheese.

Most hospitals and their personnel provide good service to their patients, but their dieticians know very little regarding the value of milk. The whole milk we buy in the store has only a 3.25% fat content.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

14/12/2020

Environmental Protection Authority releases annual report on aerial use of 1080 :

The latest annual report on aerial use of 1080 has been released, showing that while use of the pest control poison increased in 2019, new research into alternatives is continuing.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report, titled 1080 use in Aotearoa New Zealand 2019, showed there were 44 aerial operations covering 918,000 hectares of land.

Aerial operations rose due to a mega-mast event in 2019, where beech seed, tussock seed, or podocarp fruit flower at once in forests, dropping seed and driving rat populations up, which then threaten native species.

However, according to the report, the average application rate was just above three grams of 1080 per hectare, which equates to roughly one teaspoonful of 1080 on a rugby field. This is well below the maximum allowable rate of 30 grams per hectare, the report stated. . . 

Working on an orchard – how hard could it be? – Marty Sharpe:

So how hard is it really to pick fruit?

It’s a topical question, what with the horticultural sector crying out for workers in light of their regular labour force drying up.

Covid-19 has meant the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme has been slashed and backpackers are scarce.This has led the sector to implore Kiwis to have a crack at working in the fields.

In a quest to get an idea of just how hard this could be, I arranged to spend a sweltering Wednesday this past week on an orchard just outside Hastings. . . 

Time to cut the No 8 wire concept – Peter Burke:

Scottie Chapman says New Zealanders should stop extolling the virtues of the No 8 wire concept.

The head of Spring Sheep Dairy says the No 8 wire concept was a success story of our past when, because of travel times, NZ was a long way from everywhere and we had to find a way to improvise

However, Chapman believes the link to improvisation in the form of the No 8 wire concept – from the past to the way we operate today with modern technology and transport – is completely wrong.

“The No 8 concept was important 150 years ago because it helped get us where we are today,” he told Dairy News. . .

Passion for chasing sheep key trait – Matthew Mckew:

Walter Peak High Country Farm rural operations co-ordinator Peter Hamilton is in the business of showing the public what the working dog can do.

His demonstrations educate people on the rich agricultural heritage of the country and display how dogs help keep the economy moving.

Mr Hamilton got his first dog — Sprite — when he was just 12, and has worked with the short-haired English collie since then.

Sprite is no longer able to get over the fence and chase the sheep, but she still watched from the sidelines. . . 

 

Kudos for landmark fertility research :

Ground-breaking collaborative research into improving dairy fertility genetics has been recognised in the annual Kudos Awards.

The Improving Dairy Fertility Genetics research project has determined new ways to select inherently fertile cows and that genetic selection for cow fertility will improve herd reproduction.

The project is part of DairyNZ’s Pillars of a New Dairy System research, which has funding from DairyNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Additional support comes from AgResearch, LIC, CRV Ambreed and AbacusBio. . .

Fewer anti-drug laws lets cannabis research gather pace :

Cannabis research and genetic improvements are gathering pace thanks to new genomic technologies, combined with fewer restrictive laws governing cultivation, research and use of the plant, according to a La Trobe University study.

In their paper published in New Phytologist, researchers from the La Trobe Institute of Agriculture and Food, home for the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub), reviewed international studies of cannabis genomics and identified significant gaps in the research.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Mathew Lewsey said cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants believed to have unique medicinal properties, but for decades research into identifying those properties had been restricted by anti-drug laws.

“These rules have meant that while our understanding of the basic biology and properties of other crop species has advanced through the use of genomics for example, our knowledge of cannabis has lagged,” Lewsey, who is Deputy Director of the ARC MedAg Hub, said. . . 


Rural round-up

23/04/2020

Farmstrong: focus on controlling what you can:

Learning to live with unexpected challenges is the key to getting through life in lockdown for Otago farmer Luke Tweed.

Luke and his family run a 730ha sheep and beef operation in Central Otago. It’s the family farm and he enjoys carrying on the tradition. 

“I love being able to work outside and with animals but the opportunity to bring up our kids on this farm is the really big one for us.”

Tweed, his wife Bridget and their four kids have coped okay with lockdown so far.  . .

Covid 19 coronavirus: Why New Zealand’s mānuka honey exporters are smiling again – Jamie Gray:

One of the strongest harvests on record, together with a big lift in sales resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, have combined to brighten the outlook for New Zealand’s mānuka honey sector.

The harvest, which ends soon, is well up on last year, and mānuka honey is in demand overseas for its claimed health benefits.

It’s not all good news, however. Domestic sales aimed at the incoming tourism sector have been hit hard as countries go into Covid-19 lockdown and air travel subsides. . .

 

Free range chooks scoop top award – Richard Rennie:

Living a carefree life comprising a diet of bugs, apples and organic maize has earned the chickens raised by Hawke’s Bay brothers George and Ben Bostock New Zealand’s supreme food award.

The Bostock brothers were named the supreme champions for their organic whole chicken brand in this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. 

The firm was established by Ben five years ago.

Today the brothers supply organic, free-range chicken to butchers, supermarkets and the pre-covid-19 restaurant trade.   . .

Bumper maze crop despite drought – Pam Tipa:

Waikato owner-operated farmers Nacre and Anthony Maiden says the “stars aligned” this year to give them a particularly bumper maize crop despite the drought and their sandy loam soils.

However being flexible with their planting timing, good communication and use of their Herd Homes effluent all helped with their maize crop.

“We were impressed with their maize this year considering the soils we farm,” Nacre told Dairy News.  . . 

NZ’s top young Maori growers – Peter Burke:

The finalists in the inaugural Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award have just been announced.

The finalists are:

• Twenty-four-year-old Brandon Darny Paora Ngamoki Cross, 24, works as trainee orchard manager for the large kiwifruit orchard management and post-harvest company Seeka.

• Maatutaera Tipoki Akonga, who is 26, works as a senior leading hand at Llewellyn Horticulture based in the Hastings area.

• Finnisha Nicola Letitia Tuhiwai, 25 who is a packhouse manager for Maungatapere Berries, located west of Whangarei.

Smithfield shutting U.S. pork plant indefinitely, warns of meat shortages during pandemic – Tom Polansek:

Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, said on Sunday it will shut a U.S. plant indefinitely due to a rash of coronavirus cases among employees and warned the country was moving “perilously close to the edge” in supplies for grocers.

Slaughterhouse shutdowns are disrupting the U.S. food supply chain, crimping availability of meat at retail stores and leaving farmers without outlets for their livestock.

Smithfield extended the closure of its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant after initially saying it would idle temporarily for cleaning. The facility is one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, representing 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, according to the company. . .

 


Rural round-up

18/12/2017

Let’s crunch the facts and the debate on irrigation – AgriView NZ:

The Labour Government’s decision to cut additional funding for new irrigation plans has sparked debate over the value of irrigation to agriculture and the economy in recent weeks. According to the 2017 Manifesto on water policy, Labour will “Honour existing commitments, but remove Crown subsidies for the funding of further water storage and irrigation schemes”, a measure falling under the government’s wider aims to improve water quality nationwide, and “restore our rivers and lakes to a truly swimmable state within a generation”.

For Dr. Mike Joy, senior lecturer in Ecology and Zoology at Massey University’s Institute of Agriculture and Environment, the negative environmental impacts of intensive irrigated systems are undeniable. . . 

Lepto no longer men-only disease – Peter Burke:

With more women working in farming, more are contracting the disease leptospirosis, says the president of Rural Women NZ, Fiona Gower.

She told Dairy News, at a recent international conference on leptospirosis in Palmerston North, that the changing nature of the workforce on farms and in the rural sector generally means this disease is no longer a probably only for men.

Women are getting to work on farms in their own right or in a partnership, “feeding calves, milking cows, doing work with the stock — much more hands on these days”. . . 

The AstinoTM: New Zealand’s newest sheep breed moves wool up the value chain:

Developed by wool innovation specialists Lanaco, The Astino is bred specifically for the company’s premium, wool-based healthcare products – offering farmers the opportunity for better wool returns.

Breeder Andy Ramsden says Astino represents a positive step-change in the industry.

“It’s increasingly clear that supplying generic wool on the open market is not sustainable. The way forward for farmers is twofold – transitioning to innovative new breeds that are branded and controlled and forming partnerships with manufacturers like Lanaco, who have the global reach and marketing capability to earn a premium”. . . 

Image may contain: text and outdoor

Did ewe know . . .  wool clothing helps your skin breathe and regulate temperate better.

New national Dairying Award announced:

A new national award will recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry.

The Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award has been introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

Rachel Baker, NZDIA Executive Chair, says that farmers are being encouraged to share stories of how they are farming responsibly, both environmentally and socially. . . 

Beef reads into the headlines – Shan Goodwin:

BY 2020, health related expenditure in Australia is expected to overtake the spend on restaurants and hotels.

Meanwhile, incomes are growing fast in Asia.

Dishonest companies are being exposed online.

Consumers are looking for country of label origins on food packaging.

And the plethora of competing sources of information means nobody knows what or who to trust.

As inconceivable at it may seem, these apparent peripheral tidbits all have quite the potential to influence the future fortunes of the Australian cattle producer. . .

We must not take NAFTA’s blessings for granted – Tim Burrack:

How is NAFTA good for your children and grandchildren?” A very direct – and insightful – question asked by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at a recent round of NAFTA talks, according to an account in last week’s Wall Street Journal.

Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, a railroad executive who described the incident, offered his own response in an op-ed. He cited the usual statistics: U.S. farm exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled since NAFTA lowered tariffs in the 1990s. Without this trade agreement, he wrote, the billions of dollars in goods and services that we now sell to Canadians and Mexicans “would be replaced by products from other markets,” such as Europe and South America.

All that’s true. I’ll even take it a step further: Without NAFTA, America’s agriculture-dependent heartland would sink into a new depression. . . 

Early releases and empty aisles: is this the beginning of the wnd to the #StockShowLife? – Uptown Farms:

The North American International Livestock Exposition is wrapping up and as is customary, my newsfeed is filled with pictures from the green shavings.

There’s an emerging theme to this year’s photos and posts- one of emptiness. The show introduced a new, shortened schedule for the first time in years, drastically reducing the number of animals and people that held over to the end.

Those exhibitors still left are posting pictures of empty barn aisles and vacant ringside seats, even while Supreme Champions are being selected.

It’s heartbreaking. . . 


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