Rebuilding trust

May 29, 2018

The government’s decisions to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is an expensive one, but not eradicating it would be even more costly:

The Government says it has reached an agreement with farming sector leaders to attempt to eradicate the disease from New Zealand.

The cull, of around 126,000 in addition to the 26,000 already underway, will take place over one to two years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said to not act would cost even more than what would be spent on trying to eradicate it – $886 million.

$1.3b over 10 years was the estimated cost of not acting.

“Today’s decision to eradicate is driven by the Government’s desire to protect the national herd from the disease and to protect the base of economy – the farming sector,” Ardern said.

“This is a tough call – no one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd,” she said.

“I personally do not want to look back on this time … and say I wish we had tried harder.

“We have this one shot to eradicate, and we are taking it together.

“We want New Zealand to be free of it,” Ardern said.

The Government will meet 68% of the cost and Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand will meet 32%. . . 

Farmers have mixed views on the wisdom of this decision but it’s backed by DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb, Federated Farmers and the National Party.

Culling all the cattle will be devastating for farmers and sharemilkers but at least the government has committed to much faster action on compensation claims:

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said:

. . “I’ve also asked MPI to revisit the compensation process and they’ve developed a new streamlined approach for those whose animals are culled to enable a substantial payment within a matter of days.

“Farmer welfare is crucial and I’d like to thank the Rural Support Trusts for the work they’re doing. With this decision we know more help is needed and the Government and industry groups are committed to helping farmers through this stressful time. . . 

No-one thinks eradicating the disease will be easy and as David Williams writes, another  difficult task will be rebuilding trust in MPI:

. . When the dust settles, and the debate about eradication – or not – is over, MPI needs to start listening. Listening to farmers, to vets, to business people. Because I think MPI’s biggest job is not getting rid of M. bovis, it’s regaining trust. . . 

(MPI admits compensation payments have been too slow. Biosecurity response director Geoff Gwyn told Newshub: “I lose sleep over the fact there are people out there suffering as a result of the actions we’re putting on, and I know it’s cold comfort for them, but they are taking a hit for the national herd.”)

It doesn’t stop there, however. Criticism of MPI is also happening in the supermarket aisles, over the bar in rural pubs and over farm fences. Most importantly, it’s happening at the dining table, shaping the attitudes of the next generation of farmers. Many are probably saying the same things as the infected farmers – but some are undoubtedly going further.

In South Canterbury, there’s talk that there have been signs of disease in some herds for years. Given what’s happened, some are asking why authorities were told at all.

Trouble ahead

That’s the biggest problem. A few people tell me the way MPI has handled this outbreak means, they think, some farmers won’t be inclined to report problems in the future. They don’t think MPI has their back. This is not to defend such behaviour, but to give the authorities a heads-up. If that attitude spreads like M. bovis has, there’s trouble ahead.

As with TB, farmers must be confident that if they report a problem it will be taken seriously, they will be treated fairly and compensated quickly.

Without that confidence, some farmers will be tempted to quietly shoot and bury infected stock.

Of course, in Roger Smith’s perfect world, everyone would do the right thing. But human nature – as proved by the failure of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system – tells us that doesn’t always happen.

MPI can’t possibly put field officers in every farm, so it has to rely on farmers to report problems. But this mood of mistrust, born of M. bovis, creates a climate of fear and self-reliance rather than faith in the system. The country needs faith, however, and it’s up to MPI to restore it.

What we’ve seen in recent months, however, is farmers turning on farmers, as the secrecy over which farms are infected leads to suspicion and accusation, not just about who knew what but when they knew it. The slowness or non-existence of compensation payments is an added stress. Businesses are failing, people are struggling and MPI is coming across as detached and cold-hearted.

At a national level, Federated Farmers says its members have to lift their game, particularly when it comes to animal identification and tracing. (Northland’s branch is calling for a full, independent inquiry about MPI’s approach to biosecurity.) Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has instructed officials to take a tougher approach to compliance with the tracing system, NAIT. These conversations should have been had years ago.

Problems with NAIT – both the system itself and compliance – must be addressed and addressed quickly.

The tougher conversations are to be had face-to-face with farmers. Yes, there needs to be a better job of selling the benefits of NAIT – that’ll help uptake. But the crucial conversations will be farmers telling MPI what they need, how best to help them and how, when the next outbreak hits – because it will – the ministry can improve its response.

Of course, just because the farmers are talking, doesn’t mean that MPI will listen.

MPI has lost the confidence of farmers.

They didn’t appear to realise the human and financial cost to farmers whose businesses have been threatened and the importance of clear communication and speedy settling of compensation.

Eradicating M. bovis must be its primary focus but it must take seriously the criticisms aimed at it and ensure that its systems and staff training improve so it and they regain farmers’ trust and are ready and able to respond faster and better to the next biosecurity incursion.

MPI’s media release gives some hope that it has already learned from its mistakes.

We understand this will be painful for farmers who are affected, and we are committed to looking after those who have Mycoplasma bovis on their farms.

If you are a farmer and need support, help is available through your industry group representative, individual response case manager, or the Rural Support Trust.

• Rural Support Trust: 0800 78 72 54

• MPI: 0800 00 83 33

Industry representatives:

• Dairy NZ: 0800 43 24 79 69

• Beef + Lamb NZ: 0800 23 33 52

• Federated Farmers: 0800 32 76 46

We’re calling on rural communities to support each other, especially affected farmers and those that appear to be finding it hard. If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services.

Download the Looking after yourself fact sheet [PDF, 813 KB]

Compensation

Compensation is available for anyone who has verifiable losses as a result of directions they are given by MPI under the Biosecurity Act to manage Mycoplasma bovis.

Farmers that are directed to have animals culled or their farm operations restricted under movement controls will be eligible for compensation. In particular, farmers whose animals are being culled will receive an initial payment for the value of culled stock within 2 weeks of a completed claim being lodged.

Learn more about Biosecurity Act compensation

Mycoplasma bovis compensation claim form user guide [PDF, 446 KB]

MPI must now ensure its actions match its words, and to date, this from Keith Woodford, shows they haven’t:

There are going to be huge challenges for MPI. To date, they have not covered themselves in glory. All members of their response team will have been working hard within imposed limits, but the MPI system has let them down with too many layers of management and an inability to make timely operational decisions for each farm.

The most urgent issue right now relates to all of the NOD (suspect) farms in the South Island that have their cows and their feed in different locations. As just one example of many, there is a Mid Canterbury farmer I know of who is caught in the constipated bureaucracy and as of today still cannot get approval to shift his stock less than two kilometres to another farm he owns (and which he agrees will then also become a NOD farm).

These cows need to be moved and should have been progressively moved over recent weeks as they were dried-off, if they are to have feed to eat. This farm is not one of the infected properties, rather it is just one of the 300 NOD suspect properties.

We don’t know how many farms are in this situation of cows isolated from their winter feed, but almost certainly well over 100. This is not the ‘gypsy day’ situation but something quite different. And it is a big animal and human welfare issue.

There should be no hold-up over permission to move stock from one block to another owned by the same farmer who agrees to it becoming a NOD farm.

The Government appears to be underestimating the complexity of the compensation claims. The challenge is that claims have to be ‘verified’, but loss of income claims are always debatable. Claim settlements require agreements on what would have happened and by definition that is impossible to verify objectively.

An MPI source advises that any claim over $75,000 requires five separate signatures across various ministries from within the Wellington bureaucracy after the technical assessors have reached agreement. Given the future tsunami of claims, from both infected and suspect properties, and the reality that almost no claims have yet to be settled except in partial amounts, there will be a need for a separate and preferably independent Claims Assessment Commission. . . 

 

This map shows the extent of the known spread of the disease. It looks bad and it is.

But so far all cases can be traced back to a single source, all infections are the same strain and nothing has been traced back further than 2015. It is a lot of farms and a lot of cows and devastating personally and financially for those affected.

Eradication will require a huge effort by the farmers affected and MPI and big changes within the dairy industry and those who support and service it.

 

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Rural round-up

October 24, 2017

Miraka farmers lift milk quality – Peter Burke:

An incentive scheme to get suppliers to the Taupo-based Miraka dairy company to produce better quality milk and adopt best-practice systems is producing stunning results.

That’s the view of Miraka’s milk supply manager, Grant Jackson, who says only four of the company’s suppliers are not in the scheme, though they will be when they sign up to new supply contracts by the end of the year. . .

Could NZ ag be the Intel of clean meat? – St John Craner:

At its peak Intel was in the top 6 of the world’s most valued brands and installed in over 90% of PCs. It became so strong IBM saw it as a threat to its own brand but then came back only a year later after it lost significant sales to competitors Compaq and Dell.

When clean meat is getting a lot of press and billionaire directors James Cameron and Peter Jackson are getting into plant protein as well, NZ Ag would be foolish to ignore it. So could NZ Ag be the Intel inside, or ingredient brand, of clean meat?

Ingredient branding is defined as: “A symbiotic relationship that provides tangible benefits for both host brand and ingredient brand”. We don’t need to look far for proof of concept: Gore-tex, Lycra, Teflon, Bose, Visa, Dolby, Technicolor, Shimano, Pininfarina and of course Intel have been successfully deployed as ingredient brands helping host brands command a greater premium. . .

Riparian planting wisdom to be scientifically tested – Charlie Dreaver:

For decades farmers and community groups have planted trees and other plants alongside rivers to improve waterways, but the extent of riparian buffers and whether they’re working is still not known.

NIWA and Dairy NZ now want anyone who has planted along stream banks to formally record their work, to form a new national riparian database.

Riparian buffers are made up of plants which filter out sediment and faecal pathogens from waterways, stabilise stream banks and enhance biodiversity. . . 

Venison products win award – Sally Rae:

When Chris Thorn headed to Europe on his OE in his teens, he fell in love – with meat.

Despite not being a butcher, he has turned that passion into a business that has received national recognition.

Based in the small northern Southland town of Lumsden, Mr Thorn and his wife, Sally, run a small factory, churning out wild venison salami that is dispatched throughout the country.

Recently, their business, Gathered Game, won the artisan award for its premium wild venison salami and deer sticks in the New Zealand Food Awards. . . 

NZ wool yoga mat ready for launch – Sally Rae:

Dana McKenzie always felt it was somewhat of an oxymoron to be practising yoga on a ”stinky” PVC mat.

So, armed with a passion for wool – and a desire to find a use for it – the Romanian-born entrepreneur decided to do something about it.

This weekend, Mrs McKenzie has been at OM Yoga in London, the biggest yoga gathering in Europe, to launch wool mats to thousands of yoga enthusiasts.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, having just set up her stall, Mrs McKenzie said it had been a ”big dream in the making” and she was thrilled to be there. . . 

Loss of fertile land fuels ‘looming crisis’ in Africa – Jeffrey Gettleman:

LAIKIPIA, Kenya — The two elders, wearing weather-beaten cowboy hats with the strings cinched under their chins, stood at the edge of an empty farm, covering their mouths in disbelief.

Their homes — neat wooden cabins — had been smashed open. All their cattle had been stolen. So had their chickens. House after house stood vacant, without another soul around. It was as if some huge force had barreled into the village and swept away all the life.

Sioyia Lesinko Lekisio, one of the elders, had no doubts who did this. Swarms of herders from another county had invaded, attacking any farm or cattle ranch in their path, big or small, stealing livestock, ransacking homes and shooting people with high-powered assault rifles. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 22, 2017

Consumers must be the focus: report – Sally Rae:

The need to create New Zealand provenance brands has been ranked by primary industry leaders as one of the top priorities for 2017.

KPMG’s latest Agribusiness Agenda, released last week, again ranked biosecurity as the highest priority.

It had ranked first in every survey completed, although the priority score was at its lowest level since 2012. . . 

Agri hub now open for business – Nigel Malthus:

Never mind the bricks and mortar, the Lincoln Hub is now open for business, says its recently appointed chief executive Toni Laming.

The Hub, or He Puna Karikari, brings several agricultural research and commercial entities together, to collaborate on basic and applied agricultural science.

It has five founding shareholders – Lincoln University, AgResearch, Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research and DairyNZ – and expects to attract others as it grows and develops. . .

First bull sale for Murray family since quake – Alexa Cook:

The Murray family in Clarence Valley have had their first big bull sale since the earthquake in November.

Because the road is closed to the south, the 65 buyers were flown in from Kaikōura on four different helicopters.

Over 100 bulls were up for sale from the Murray’s Matariki Hereford stud and the neighbouring Woodbank Angus stud. . . 

‘Trojan Female Technique’ could sterilise pest populations – Alexa Cook:

A new technique that could be used to eradicate pests like mice and wasps has just been proven in the laboratory on fruit flies.

The “Trojan Female Technique” is where females pass on genes that make male offspring infertile.

The head of the University of Otago’s Department of Anatomy, Neil Gemmell, said it was not a new idea to release sterile males, but creating and releasing females that produce sterile offspring was a first for pest control. . . 

Fieldays reflects positive outlook for Primary Sector:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated the National Fieldays Society for another successful event at Mystery Creek in Waikato.

“This year’s Fieldays was another success thanks to hard work from Peter Nation and his team, but also in part due to the positive outlook for the primary sector,” says Mr Guy.

“Many farmers and growers have dealt with some challenging past seasons, so it was great to feel a really positive mood across the many thousands who entered the gates. There’s a strong sense that many will be looking to use their extra forecast revenue to reinvest in their businesses. . . 

Rural confidence lifts with early frosts – Dene Mackenzie:

As early frosts and snowfalls signalled the approach of winter, confidence within the rural sector continued to build, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said yesterday.

Farmers were anticipating improving incomes during the forthcoming season.

Demand for quality properties and the shortage of supply remained constant, he said.

Figures released by the institute showed there were 25 more farm sales for the three months ended May than for the three months ended May 2016. . . 

Kūmara costs double in disastrous season:

Kūmara prices are nearly double what they were a year ago due to disastrous weather this season, growers say.

Kaipara Kūmara manager Anthony Blundell said the crop was down about 35 percent on normal years due to the wet weather that hit in March.

Mr Blundell said the season didn’t start off well with a wet spring but the biggest damage was done by the cyclones that swamped kumara fields in March. . . 


Rural round-up

August 24, 2016

Thousands needed to fill primary industry jobs – Alexa Cook:

The primary sector is turning to cities to promote jobs in the industry in an effort to create a more qualified workforce.

Research commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand has found the industry will need another 2300 people by 2025, on top of the 23,400 needed to replace natural attrition.

There is a growing divide between rural and urban New Zealand, with 36 percent of all secondary students based in Auckland, and just 30 percent spread through rural areas.

New Zealand Young Farmers president Terry Copeland said by 2025 a third of jobs in the dairy industry would not be tied to the land. . . 

Busy ‘making difference’ – Sally Rae:

Fiona Hancox just wants to “make a difference”.

The West Otago sheep and beef farmer recently joined the board of Co-operative Business New Zealand.The organisation represents more than 50 co-operative and mutual businesses operating across a  range of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, banking and financial services, utilities, pharmaceuticals, education, health, wholesale and retail.

In February last year, Mrs Hancox became the first female farmer representative director on the board of Silver Fern Farms. . . 

Time to hand over the reins – Sally Rae:

For many years, Chris Bayne has been something of an institution at PGG Wrightson’s Mosgiel store.

So, come September 2,  it will be the end of an era as Mrs Bayne (65) works her last day as store manager.

However, she remained philosophical about leaving a role that has been a big part of her life, saying simply it was “time to go”.

“I just think sometimes you work too long and you retire and, all of a sudden, your health goes to the pack. It’s nice to hand the reins over to someone else …  you can’t work forever,” she said. . . 

Retiring rural postie parks his truck – Lynda Van Kempen:

After travelling more than a million kilometres, Kevin “Rock” McCrorie has finally parked  for good.

His 17-year career as a Maniototo rural postman ended on Friday and he shared some of the finer details with  the Otago Daily Times.

Number of vehicles used: Five Toyota Hiluxes

Kilometres driven: 250 a day, five days a week.

Total: 1,105,000km.

Rural boxholders: 125.

Mail, newspapers and parcels delivered: Hundreds of thousands.

Goldfish received: One

Axolotyls delivered: One. . . 

More business understanding gives Southland sheep farmer positive outlook – Brittany Pickett:

Jo Horrell is feeling positive about the future of the sheep industry.

The Southland farmer believes the tide is turning for sheep farming and she is determined to be part of it. Part of her enthusiasm can be attributed to her recently completing  an Agri-Women’s Development Trust Understanding Your Farm Business course

While she found the Red Meat Profit Partnership-funded course invaluable in gaining a greater understanding of the farm business she runs alongside her husband Bryce, it was having the opportunity to meet like-minded, positive people that for Horrell was a real bonus. . . 

Startup to tackle Predator Free New Zealand challenge:

New Zealand based App and Website Pestur will launch in 2017. Pestur is a social network allowing users to compete with each other in challenges as they work to eradicate different pest species through trapping and hunting.

Co- founder Greta Donoghue says the inspiration came in seeing the millions of people around the world willing to try and catch something that doesn’t exist (Pokemon), “the idea being that if even a fraction of these participants put some real world effort into the issue of invasive pest species we could see tangible improvements ranging from the protection of endangered species to the economics of better crop yields” . . 


Rural round-up

July 1, 2015

Dr Rolleston new vice-president of the World Farmers Organisation:

Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston has been elected Vice President of the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) while attending its General Assembly in Milan.

The WFO aims to bring together all the national producers and farm cooperative organisations with the objective of developing policies which favour and support farmers’ causes in developed and developing countries around the world.

“I am delighted and incredibly humbled to be elected into this role,” says Dr Rolleston. .  .

 

Sheep shipment should have been handled better – Jon Morgan:

 I recall once being told that the Prime Minister gets more calls and letters about animal welfare than any other issue.

No-one likes to see an animal suffer and it appears we’re more vigilant about this than we are about anything else, including child cruelty.

The authorities act quickly and severely when cases of animal cruelty occur. Hardly a week goes by when we’re not reading of a case before the courts. Unfortunately, each year several of these are farmers and involve multiple animals.

And so the outcry over the recent shipment of 50,000 sheep (actually 45,000) to Mexico quickly escalated to hysterical levels. . .

Gisborne bull breeders on a high after $100,000 sale  – Kate Taylor:

Angus breeders Charlie and Susie Dowding are buzzing at the sale of one of their bulls for $100,000 – a record price for an on-farm bull sale in New Zealand.

The Gisborne stud’s Rangatira 13-38 sold to the Bayly family’s Cricklewood Angus, Wairoa, which will use the rising two-year-old bull itself initially and make semen available for sale in the future.

“I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling yet,” Susie Dowding said.

“We had no idea at all he would be so sought after. We had moved him up the catalogue but obviously he should have been up further. I’m not sure how many were bidding to start with but it ended up with two studs who wanted him badly.” . .

Focus on support networks – Sally Rae:

A gathering of rural professionals is being held in Oamaru next week to highlight the support networks available to farmers.

It has been organised by the Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ.

The organisations all had concerns for farmers, particularly in North Otago but also other areas, over the next three to four months, as they faced the effects of drought and also the low dairy payout, Otago Rural Support Trust co ordinator Dave Mellish said. . .

ECan’s future direction – Conan Young:

After five years without a democratically elected regional council, warnings are being sounded that Canterbury’s stock of capable leaders is in danger of being hollowed out.

As Insight investigated the plan for ECan to make a partial return to democracy, it was told the region is getting used to having decisions made for it by government appointed commissioners.

Environment Canterbury’s councillors were sacked by the government amidst claims they were dysfunctional and had failed to introduce a water plan for the region, allowing it to make the most of its alpine water and reap the economic rewards of large scale irrigation.

Now there’s a proposal for a partial return to democracy with a mix of elected members and appointed commissioners.

According to the government, there’s still too much at stake to risk a return to fully elected councillors.

But the head of the Politics Department at Canterbury University, Bronwyn Hayward, takes issue with that position. . .

 

Cashflow crucial for Taranaki demonstration farms – Sue O’Dowd:

Demonstration farms near Stratford and Manaia are closely monitoring their cashflow, focusing on pasture management and deferring some expenditure as they plan for the season ahead.

The Stratford Demonstration Farm, operated by an incorporated society, and the Waimate West Demonstration Farm, owned by a trust, were both established in 1917 by local farmers who wanted a model dairy farm in their area to develop and promote better farming methods. Both farms are managed by the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre. 

Waimate West Demonstration Farm chairman John Fischer says cashflow will be crucial if dairy farmers are to manage their finances in the wake of two seasons of low payout forecasts. . .

Auditing just futile bureaucracy –  Lynda Murchison:

So much time and energy is spent managing land and water at present, with decisions around rules only the first step.

What those rules look like and how much they will cost farmers and the community to implement also needs close scrutiny. Take a couple of examples from Canterbury.

Overseer; like it or hate it, Canterbury farmers are required to record an estimate of their nitrogen losses using Overseer. Personally I don’t have an issue with that. . .


Rural round-up

May 29, 2014

Speech to the B3 Better Border Biosecurity Conference – Nathan Guy:

Thank you to Better Border Biosecurity (B3) for hosting this important conference. The theme is “10 years on – Adding Value to New Zealand’s Plant Biosecurity System through Research”.

Today I want to talk to you about the importance of biosecurity to New Zealand, and the importance of scientific research to back it up.

I want to start by acknowledging the B3 partnership as a great model for working together on research.

The signed up partners include four Crown Research Institutes (CRI), a university based research entity, three government agencies, and an industry group. It’s important that it involves end-users from both government and industry.

The importance of biosecurity

Everyone here has probably heard me say many times that “biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister.” Today I want to say a few words to remind why that is, and why this agreement today is so important.

The primary sector is the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy, accounting for over 70 percent of our export earnings.

It helps pay the bills for our schools, hospitals and social services, and supports many jobs in our regions and cities. . .

Farmers cream productivity profit:

ANZ Bank economist Con Williams says many people are overlooking the huge improvements in productivity dairy farmers have achieved recently.

Fonterra on Wednesday set next season’s initial forecast farmgate milk price at $7 per kilo of milk solids, which was higher than some had expected.

However, the dairy giant has cut this season’s forecast payout by 25 cents to $8.40 per kilo of milk solids. That would reduce farmers’ incomes by nearly $400 million but Mr said it represented just a little less cream from what was still a record payout.

The average annual yield per cow was close to 381kg of milk solids – a new record and about 7.5 percent ahead of trend. . .

NIWA gets down to brass tacks with farmers – Tony Benny:

National Fieldays seminar host Niwa is taking its science directly to farmers to optimise water use and lessen the negative impacts of dairy effluent.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s chief scientist, environmental information, Jochen Schmidt, said the organisation has moved its focus to the one-on-one farmer level gradually over the past five years. 

“This is definitely an area that we’re strategically pushing at the moment. The minister [Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce] is our shareholder and that’s what he told us because the growth agenda is out there and we want to ensure our primary sector is growing while sustainably managing the environment. . .

 

StockSense workshops take pressure off calving:

DairyNZ is running 19 StockSense events in June and July to help farmers prepare for the calving season.

The events are split into two workshops – one for junior staff and one for senior staff – with each workshop focusing on developing skills to help the calving season go well and reduce stress.

Humane slaughter on-farm and udder health will be the focus of the senior level workshop.

DairyNZ’s animal husbandry and welfare team manager, Chris Leach, says the humane slaughter topic is particularly timely due to the expected change in the animal welfare code and the implications for farmers.

“Farmers need to understand what’s expected of them,” says Chris.

The senior workshop will also focus on actions owners and managers can take to reduce stress for themselves and their teams, to help calving go smoothly.

“The workshop will provide tips and tricks to stay healthy during the busy period. Being prepared and staying healthy eases stress and will make for an easier spring,” says Chris. . .

New report shows PGP delivering major benefits:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the findings of an independent report into the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), which estimates it will add $6.4 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The NZIER report further concludes that the PGP has the potential to achieve an additional $4.7 billion per annum by 2025 if all the R&D is successful, the aspirational stretch of PGP programmes is achieved, and the innovations are widely uptaken. 

“This would add up to $11.1 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The PGP is about supporting innovation in the primary industries, which are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy – accounting for over 70% of our merchandise exports. There are currently 18 announced programmes jointly funded by industry and government.” . .

Steak stakes double success:

Ballyhooley Beef has done it again – winning best retail brand with the Murray Grey meat at the Steak of Origin competition last week in Feilding.

But this year, Winton farmer Barry Macdonald and his beef have done one better, as his steak was chosen as the tastiest by the public, also winning the people’s choice award.

In what was a first for the competition, Mr Macdonald’s steak was put up against the other 19 finalists to see which the public liked best. . .

2013 winner a bachelor no more – Sonita Chandar:

Sorry ladies, it’s official – 2013 Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year Simon Washer is now spoken for.

However, a whole new group of eligible young men are set to strut their stuff at the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays in June.

Washer only entered the competition by default as his fellow members of the local young farmers’ club balked at the idea of entering.

“I was the chairman of the club at the time the entry form came through and when I asked the guys if anyone was interested in entering, they all gave me a dirty look,  pointed the finger at me and then nominated me so I didn’t really have much of a choice. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 7, 2014

Farmers ‘need to meet minimum standards’:

Farm employment issues will be high on the agenda at Dairy New Zealand’s farmers forum in Waikato on Wednesday and Thursday.

Dairy NZ is responding to farmers’ requests to provide some practical guidance following a recent survey by labour inspectors found most of the farms checked were breaking employment rules. Most of the breaches related to record-keeping.

The organisation, along with Federated Farmers, is seeking changes to the minimum wage order so farmers can average out their employee’s pay over a fortnight rather than a week. . .

Rural lending growth may slow after dairy-fuelled expansion – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s rural lending, which more than doubled to an all-time high of $50.6 billion in the past decade on dairy farm expansion, may slow as farmers use record milk payouts to reduce debt, spurred on by rising interest rates.

In the past 10 years to June 30, 2013, agricultural debt has risen mostly due to the dairy sector where lending has almost tripled to $32.4 billion. The surge in lending to the dairy industry far exceeds the $1.4 billion debt owed by sheep farmers and $1.2 billion accrued by beef cattle farmers, according to Reserve Bank figures.

Dairy sector lending has soared as farmers have invested in converting land to dairy farming to take advantage of high milk prices and the associated strong growth in farm land prices, the central bank said in its last Financial Stability report in November. Indebted dairy farmers will be weighing up using high dairy payouts to pay down debt or increase farm investment in anticipation of a positive outlook, it said. Since then, the bank has begun to raise interest rates, hiking the benchmark twice in as many months, and milk prices have weakened in response to increased production. . .

Passionate about the Perendale – Sally Rae:

Ask Duncan Smith why he has stuck with the Perendale breed and the answer is succinct.

”They are just so tough and they just don’t die,” Mr Smith, who farms Islay Downs, on the Pigroot, said.

Mr Smith and his wife Claire are among the four entrants in the Sir Geoffrey Peren Cup competition, judged on farm last month and held in conjunction with Perendale New Zealand’s national conference in Otago this week.

The winner will be announced during the conference. It was Mr Smith’s late father, Ross, who took up the Perendale breed in the late 1970s. He was a ”very staunch Perendale man”. . .

Breed event in Otago – Sally Rae:

More than 60 registrations from throughout New Zealand have been received for Perendale New Zealand’s national conference in Otago this week.

Planning for the annual event, which alternates between the North and South islands, began nearly a year ago. The conference begins on Thursday with registrations and a dinner.

On Friday, there is a bus tour to South Otago, visiting the Mitchell family’s Hillcrest stud at Clinton, and the Gardner family’s stud near Balclutha. There will also be a visit to AgResearch’s Invermay research centre, and to the Elders woolstore to view a wool competition. . . .

 

NAIT helping graziers keep up to date:

Farmers grazing stock this season can keep track of their animals by ensuring their NAIT records are up to date.

“It’s important to record all off-farm movements of stock to grazing blocks and confirm with NAIT when the animals arrive back on your property,” said Dr Stu Hutchings, OSPRI New Zealand Group Manager, Programme Design and Farm Operations.

“NAIT tags provide a unique identification number for each animal, which can help farmers verify that the same animals they sent for grazing are the ones they are getting back.” . .  .

Small-scale pest control still helps:

A study of rat poisoning in small forest blocks has shown that pest control on a small-scale can still provide a huge boost to native bird populations.

The six year study was carried out by Massey University researchers who analysed the effects of rat control in 19 blocks near Bennydale in the King Country.

It showed that small-scale control increased the number of North Island robins by 50 percent on average each year and also helped other species favoured by rats . . .

Federated Farmers initiative makes employing easy:

Federated Farmers has developed a New Employers Pack to help first time employers meet their employment obligations and develop better working relationships on farm.

“We want all employers to be able to put their best foot forward and this pack allows them to do that,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Employment Spokesperson.

“The New Employers Pack is in response to an overwhelming demand for it from our members. In a member survey 97 percent wanted an employment pack produced. So Federated Farmers has created one, which helps farmers get it right from the very start, and that ticks all the boxes.

“As a farmer myself, I know farmers would prefer to know they are doing it right and understand what is required of them. This pack is designed for all farm types so I know all farmers will jump at this innovative employment pack. . . .

Rural Equities lifts stake in Tandou to 21% after rights issue:

Rural Equities, the farming group controlled by the Cushing family, has lifted its stake in Tandou after taking up its entitlement in the ASX-listed agribusiness’s three-for-eight rights offer.

Entities associated with Rural Equities now hold 21 percent, up from the 17.7 percent owned in August. Tandou’s offer at 47 Australian cents a share closed on April 28. Shareholders subscribed for about A$13.5 million of the A$25.2 million sought. Underwriter Petra Capital made up the shortfall of about A$11.7 million, placing the stock with institutions and professional investors.

Tandou shares last traded at 46.5 Australian cents on the ASX and have gained about 12 percent in the past year. They are rated a ‘strong buy’ based on two analysts polled by Reuters. . . .

Zabeel Mares Highlight NZB Broodmare Sale:

A prime opportunity for new players to enter the breeding game and for existing breeders to expand their portfolio is presented by New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Broodmare Sale, next week (13 May) at Karaka.

There are 209 broodmares catalogued for sale by leading damsires from New Zealand, Australia and further afield, in foal to proven and exciting young sires.

One of the highlights of the Sale will be the 12 broodmare entries by legendary sire Zabeel. The recently retired Cambridge Stud stallion is the damsire of 24 individual Group 1 winners including Dundeel (High Chaparral), Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock),Silent Achiever (O’Reilly), Go Indy Go(Bernardini) and O’Marilyn (O’Reilly) this season. . . .


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