Rural round-up

April 30, 2020

Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

November 4, 2019

$9 billion shock – Neal Wallace and Annette Scott:

Claims the Government’s essential freshwater proposals could cost the livestock industry over $9 billion a year are selective, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

That is the estimated cost of compliance and lower production of meeting proposed freshwater reforms, submissions from Beef + Lamb and DairyNZ say.

More than 12,000 submissions were made by last week’s deadline.

The reforms have been labelled by some farming bodies as unbalanced, unnecessarily harsh and unsustainable. . .

M bovis’ eradication initiatives vindicated – Sally Rae:

An independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) believes achieving eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still feasible.

The group’s latest report was released yesterday by the Ministry for Primary Industries in which it supported the changes the M. bovis programme had made over the past six months.

Given available data, achieving biological freedom from M. bovis was feasible provided the number of undetected infected herds was not large, infection had not established and spread within the non-dairy sector, and that the rate of transmission to new herds was reduced via continued shortening in the intervals from infection to application of movement controls, it said. . .

Faith, family and farming– Sonita Chandar:

Southland farmers are community and spiritual leaders in the Islamic community. They put their faith above everything and answered the call to help  after the Christchurch mosque shootings. They talk to Sonita Chandar about their experiences and farming.

On Friday March 15 Invercargill farmer and imam of the world’s southernmost mosque, Reza Abdul-Jabbar, was delivering his weekly sermon when a worshipper’s phone rang.

Until then it had been super quiet, as it usually is during the service.

He reminded the man it was a time for silence, not to take the call and continued. 

But other phones began ringing. . .

Fonterra’s dream run in India – Pam Tipa:

Fonterra three months ago launched its first consumer brand in India under the Fonterra Future Dairy joint venture.

The brand Dreamery has had a “fantastic reception”, says Judith Swales, chief operating officer, global consumer and foodservice.

Fonterra is working with joint venture partner Future Group which is present in 26 of 31 Indian states with over 2000 modern trade outlets and 5000 public distribution outlets. . .

Experts have their say on whether cherries justify their popularity – Mark Price:

Faced with all manner of economic worries — from Trump to freshwater policies — where might investors put their hard-won savings in the hope of a better than deposit rate return? Might cherries — the horticultural darling of the moment in Central Otago — be the answer? Mark Price sought out two opinions.

Ross and Sharon Kirk are cherry industry consultants trading as Hortinvest Ltd. They have the biggest netted orchard under management in Central Otago (close to 40ha), and are in the process of planting two 80ha, ‘‘fully-netted’’ development

Suitability for Central Otago

Q: What are the basic requirements for cherries to thrive?
A: Low rainfall over harvest, good winter chilling, reasonable soils (nutrient), adequate water, reasonable shelter from wind, and netting (to keep out birds).

Q: Which requirements does Central Otago meet?
A: All of the above, although the bird netting is expensive. . . .

Cute as buttons :

North Canterbury farmers Melissa and Hayden Cowan have a small flock of rare black-nosed Swiss Valais sheep.

Often referred to as the “cutest sheep in the world” this distinctive breed with black face and ears, curly forelocks and spotted knees and hocks originate in the mountains of the Valais area of Switzerland.

They imported their first embryos from the UK in 2018 and from the 32 embryos 18 live lambs were born so there’s no guarantee they’ll work. The embryos cost $2000 a pop so it’s a quite an investment. .


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.

 


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. . . .


Rural round-up

February 26, 2014

Govt invests $540,000 in Lake Horowhenua clean-up:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced the Government will invest $540,000 towards cleaning up Lake Horowhenua.

Combined with funding from Horizon’s Regional Council and Horowhenua District Council, as well as in-kind contributions from Dairy NZ and the Tararua Growers’ Association, the total funding for the project will be $1.27 million.

The project will improve the water quality through sediment and nutrient management on the lake and its tributaries, improving water quality for recreation and wild life.

The project includes stream fencing, planting, building a wetland, harvesting lake weeds, and developing farm plans. . .

Irrigation supplies shut-down begins:

Irrigation water supplies to some parts of Marlborough are being shut down as the continuing hot, dry weather takes its toll on river levels.

The Marlborough District Council is advising property owners that water for irrigation is being shut off to about 5000 hectares of farmland and vineyards along the Wairau River.

Further Wairau consents, including all those from the Southern Valleys Irrigation Scheme, were expected to be cut off by today.

Waihopai consents will be suspended in the next day or two.

The shutdown is necessary slightly earlier than last year because there has been no real rain since Christmas. . .

 

Safety group astonished as farmers flout helmet law – Sue O’Dowd:

Worksafe New Zealand has savaged organisers of a farmers’ day out for failing to require helmets on quad bikes in Taranaki hill country.

About 200 people visited Aotuhia Station when Beef + Lamb New Zealand – the farmer-owned industry organisation representing New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers – hosted what it called a Big Day Out last week.

Only about five people on a cavalcade of bikes touring the 2240ha Aotuhia Station, 65km east of Stratford, wore helmets, and many riders carried passengers.

Worksafe New Zealand would have issued enforcement notices to the organisers, those not wearing helmets and those carrying passengers if it had been there, quad bike national programme manager Francois Barton said yesterday. . . .

Eyes wide open – James Houghton:

Employment relationships are a key factor in setting a positive working environment and ensuring your farm is productive. The general work relationships in rural New Zealand have been traditionally informal. This has had to change with stronger workplace protection for employees.  It means the farm employer has had to learn new skills, involving contractual agreements and human resources.

When it comes to dairy agreements with sharemilkers, who are arguably what makes New Zealand dairying so successful; there have been breakdowns between some employers and their sharemilker.  Sharemilking is a hybrid between self-employment and employment but that hasn’t stopped some harsh treatments of sharemilkers. Such as an employer not honouring either a handshake agreement or misusing clauses in their agreement, which causes sheer misery for the sharemilker involved.

Over the past year, Federated Farmers has been revising the industry standard Herd Owing Sharemilking Agreement, looking to remove outdated clauses and with it, issues within the industry like harsh treatment, which may deter new entrants. . .

Strong growth and profitability increases from PGG Wrightson:

PGG Wrightson Ltd* (PGW) has announced a strong half-year performance under its new Chief Executive.

For the six-months ended 31 December 2013, PGW achieved operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Operating EBITDA)** of $22.3 million, up from $18.0 million for the corresponding period last year.

Mark Dewdney, who took up the role of PGW Chief Executive on 1 July 2013, called it a strong result with increases recorded across most areas of the business. . .

New Zealand Drives Global Pet Addiction:

Imagine a Singaporean company making premium pet food from possums in the Bay of Plenty and exporting successfully for eight years. That’s what Jerel Kwek of Addiction Foods has accomplished, along with a vision to improve pet nutrition globally.

While cats and dogs around the world have fallen for Addiction, it’s only now with a recent plant upgrade in Te Puke that Kwek can make his natural NZ pet food available in the NZ market.

Addiction use a selection of premium proteins and game meats, including New Zealand possum to produce a range of dry and raw dehydrated natural foods designed to prevent allergies and promote long-term health in cats and dogs. . .

Loan package to grow pasture productivity:

New Zealand’s largest rural lender today launched a lending package for farmers wanting toboost farm productivity by improving pasture and forage growth.

ANZ Bank’s Pasture Productivity Loan offers an interest rate of 4%* p.a with a maximumloan amount of $100,000. The maximum loan term is five years, principal reducing, andthere are no establishment fees.

“Renewing pasture and forage is one of the key things red meat farmers can do to improveproductivity and profit,” said Graham Turley, ANZ Managing Director Commercial & Agri. . .


Rural round-up

November 1, 2013

Drone helps Southland farmers check on stock – Dave Goosselink:

A Southland farming family have employed a set of digital eyes to help keep track of their stock.

They’re using a remote-controlled drone fitted with cameras to fly over their large farm, counting sheep and looking out for problems.

There are over 4000 sheep and cattle on the Gardyne family’s farm, and it was 13-year-old Mark who suggested turning to technology.

“Dad and I were watching TV and we saw the drones in Afghanistan for the military purposes and we decided how we could use that in agriculture,” says Mark Gardyne. . . .

Allan Barber:

The announcement by Silver Fern Farms of the reopening of its Finegand, Balclutha, casings plant eight years after it closed is an interesting example of history repeating itself. Of particular interest are the reasons behind resuscitating an operation which nobody would ever have foreseen as likely.

The first part of the explanation is both simple and inexplicable: simple because China has stopped accepting any shipments of green runners (sheep and lamb intestines) which were processed into sausage casings, inexplicable because nobody seems to know why. The second component of the explanation is belief by SFF that it can amalgamate substantial volumes of green runners from its South Island plants and add value to them profitably in the new facility. . . .

Progress for irrigation in Otago and Rangitikei:

Federated Farmers congratulates the Government on their commitment to sustainable irrigation in New Zealand.

“The Government’s $850,000 investment into the Central Otago and Rangitkei projects, through their Irrigation Acceleration Fund, will go a long way to improving these provinces economically and socially. It also bodes well for getting it right from the beginning,” says Ian MacKenzie, Federated Farmers Water Spokesperson.

“The potential for these provinces to develop and profit from a more reliable irrigation source is huge – with only two percent of our rainfall used for irrigation right now. It also will play a major part in reaching the goal to double our exports by 2025. . .

Iconic lake benefits from weed control:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says great progress is being made to improve the health of Lake Wanaka through efforts to rid it of a noxious weed.

Lagarosiphon, also known as South African oxygen weed, chokes waterways, smothers native aquatic plant communities and it establishes quickly if left untreated.

Weed control at Lake Wanaka is carried out by a lagarosiphon management committee, led by Land Information New Zealand. . .

Stable wool pricing needed – Wools of New Zealand:

At an estimated average production cost of $4.50/kilo of greasy wool, cross bred wool growers have had only two years of profitable returns over the past decade, continuing a 30-year downward cycle.

Mark Shadbolt, chairman of Wools of New Zealand, says the numbers make for sober reading. “The industry’s primary concern has to be with price volatility. When there’s a price spike manufacturers switch away from wool, eroding demand and fuelling further volatility. Wools of New Zealand have developed a stable pricing model designed to stabilise prices for growers and customers alike, which over time will provide incremental growth in demand and ultimately returns at farm gate.”

Writing in the just released Wools of New Zealand annual report – the first since the company’s successful capital raise was completed in February this year – Mr Shadbolt notes that the company has developed two six month stable price contracts direct with customers. . .

New programme to unlock Northland’s primary industry potential:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has launched a new programme to help unlock the potential for primary industry growth in Northland today.

“This is the start of a wider programme by the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with regions to help them further develop industries like agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and aquaculture.

“We chose to start with Northland because it has significant potential, with a good climate and a vast tracts of land suitable for further development,” says Mr Guy.

MPI is already working with two Māori-owned farms in Northland. One involves the conversion of 270 hectares of Māori land to a dairy farm. The other involves providing technical support for a 2480 hectare dairy and beef farm to increase productivity, with the support of key partners including Landcorp, Dairy NZ and Te Tumu Paeroa. . .

Special Year as 2014 Dairy Awards Entries Open:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are accepting entries in what is likely to be the most memorable awards competition to date.

National convenor Chris Keeping says the 2014 awards coincide with the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition – the country’s longest running dairy farming contest.

“We are taking some time to celebrate this achievement and are enjoying the trip down memory lane as we see where some of our past winners, entrants, judges and organisers are now. What has become apparent is the long lasting effect and impact their association with the contest has had on them and their dairy farming career.” . . .

Give it up for the dairy industry’s Oscars – Willy Leferink:

What do you call the dairy industry’s Oscars, Emmy’s or the Canon Media Awards all rolled into one? It’s the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

These awards are much more than a night for farmers to don a tux and hit the big smoke, although Auckland is where the finals are being held in 2014. Next year also happens to be the 25th Anniversary of the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition. For those who don’t know much about sharemilking it is a unique New Zealand pathway into farming. There is lower order sharemilking which is the first rung on the ladder before progressing onto 50/50 sharemilking. There is also equity partnership, where a farmer manages the farm and draws a salary but also has an equity stake in the farm business. All three forms are businesses and mean people with little money but a great work ethic can make a great future for themselves and their family.

In order to recognise the best in our industry is why 25 years ago, Federated Farmers ran the very first Sharemilker of the Year competition in Stratford. . .

Award-Winning Amisfield Wine Company Ownership Returns to Its Roots:

Leading New Zealand businessman John Darby recently announced he has become the sole shareholder of multi award-winning Amisfield Wine Company.

Mr Darby, who was previously a majority shareholder, assumed full ownership following the buyout of other shareholders.

Founded in 1988 and originally known as Lake Hayes Wines, vines were first planted on 110 hectares of vineyards in Gibbston Valley in the early 1990s. . . .

New HALO reds show Hawke’s Bay’s class:

Hawke’s Bay’s classic red wine characteristics shine through in two Sacred Hill HALO premium red wines from the 2012 vintage, released this week.

Named after the distinctive halo in Sacred Hill’s logo, the HALO range has earned a reputation for handcrafted, richly textured wines and the Sacred Hill HALO Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2012 and HALO Syrah 2012 continue that tradition.

Chief winemaker Tony Bish says the wines are made from small parcel selections of fruit from Sacred Hill’s best vineyards. . .


Rural round-up

May 4, 2013

How to drought-proof NZ as drought gets worse – Waiology:

For the most part, droughts are natural events. Rainfall and river flows wax and wane, and there will be times when there just isn’t enough water to fully meet our needs, whether to grow crops or to quench a city’s thirst.

And when it comes down to it, that’s really the best definition of a drought: when water supply is insufficient to meet demand. If no rain falls on the land, and there is no-one there to go thirsty, is it a problem? But there is a growing part of drought that isn’t natural. Increases in water use, beyond the capacity of the environment to supply the water, have led to what are called “demand-driven droughts”. . .

Sheep and Beef Sector Increases Eco-efficiency:

New research shows the New Zealand sheep and beef sector has a much lighter environmental footprint than in the past.
 
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says a recent paper by Dr Alec McKay, published in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Grasslands Association, used the Overseer model to look at the changes in the relationship between inputs (eg, livestock numbers, nutrients) and outputs (eg, meat and fibre, greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate).
 
The research was conducted using the Ministry for Primary Industries sheep and beef farm monitoring models that cover hard hill country (Gisborne and Central North Island) and easy hill finishing (Manawatu) over the last 20 years. . .

Feilding Meat Industry Meeting Generates More Meetings:

So successful was the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) meeting in Feilding last Friday, 26 April, where 700 farmers met  to establish a mandate for meat industry change, that further meetings are to be held in Gisborne and Te Kuiti..
 
Local organising Chairman and newly elected MIE executive member, John McCarthy, said that there was great support at the Fielding meeting from all over the lower North Island; “we got twice as many farmers to the meeting than we had originally planned for,” he added.
 
As a consequence, further meetings are being planned for Gisborne on 15 May and Te Kuiti on 17 May.  Details of these will be released next week. . .

Career Progression Support For Keen Dairy Farmers:

Registrations of interest have opened for DairyNZ’s popular Progression Groups taking place nationwide in 2013.

Since their launch, specialist discussion groups Biz Start and Biz Grow, have attracted more than 500 dairy farm managers, sharemilkers and owners, who are keen to build their skills and progress their career in the dairy industry.

Attendees at one of the first Biz Grow groups, Russell and Charlotte Heald (lower order sharemilkers from Central Hawke’s Bay) said the group was particularly good for meeting others who also want to get ahead and achieve more. . .

Skellerup cuts annual earnings forecast as drought hits agri business:

Skellerup, the industrial rubber goods maker, has cut its annual earnings guidance for a second time after the drought across the North Island sapped demand at its agri business as farmers put off buying until next season.

The Auckland-based company expects net profit of $17 million in the year ended June 30, down from trimmed down guidance of $20 million it gave in February, from a previous forecast range of between $22 million and $24 million. The manufacturer blamed the drought for weaker local demand, and also signalled its North American and European sales were tracking below forecasts. . .

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Land & Water Forum’s final report generally welcomed

November 16, 2012

The Land and Water Forum’s final report fleshes out the detail of a new consensus for a major reform of water laws and practices in New Zealand,”  Forum chair, Alastair Bisley, said.

“The breadth of this consensus provides a once in a generation chance to resolve the entrenched problems surrounding fresh water.”

The Forum is recommending integrated decision-making in catchments, continuous improvement of management practices and clearer rights to take and use water within set limits.

Mr Bisley said: “Our reports together provide a comprehensive and detailed blueprint to maximise opportunities from fresh water for us all – farmers and fishers, power generators and recreationalists, citizens and tourists, cities and industries.

We want to grow the economy and improve the environment. Our recommendations apply to both urban and rural catchments. They provide for iwi to play their role as Treaty Partners and stakeholders.

“We call for community decisions at catchment level – within national frameworks and bottom lines from central Government.”

The Forum proposes a collaborative approach at both national and catchment levels to set and implement objectives for waterways, prescribe limits for takes and discharges where these are required, and to find fair, efficient and accountable ways to implement the limits.

“The Forum believes all water quality solutions should be tailored to individual catchments,” said Mr Bisley.

“Good management practice by land and water users is the basic tool. Incentivising it is the preferred approach. Regions are accountable for managing within limits. Industry schemes, catchment-wide initiatives and regulation may all help to ensure the limits are achieved within the agreed timeframes.

“Water available for users once limits have been set should be allocated with long-term economic welfare in mind.

“All authorised takes should be brought progressively within the allocation system.

“As catchments become fully allocated, consents should be clarified and strengthened to preserve their value. Water should be made more easily transferable between users while limits are preserved.” . . .

He described the report as a once in a generation opportunity :

 . . . While there were some notable non-signatories to the outcomes of the four year experiment in consensus decision-making, the forum managed to get 95 percent of its 60-plus members from industry, local government, iwi, environmental groups, recreational users and farmers across the line on 67 recommendations.

Among signatories are the national farming lobby, Federated Farmers, although their objection to any system requiring water rents saw the forum make no recommendation in that area.

The system it promotes would see the government establish national guidelines and standards for freshwater catchment management, which would be used by regional councils as the foundation for collaborative processes at a local level to establish “scarcity thresholds” for freshwater resources. . .

Dairy NZ has welcomed the report:

DairyNZ says the key to setting and managing to water quality limits is collaborative decision-making at a catchment level.

Commenting today on the release of the final Land and Water Forum (LAWF) report, DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says, “We recognise, as the LAWF report does, that this kind of community-driven catchment process needs to become the centre of water quality and quantity management.

“That is how we will make a difference to water quality – catchment by catchment across the country. Communities understand that, because people can relate any impact to the place where they live and work and their local waterway, so will take some ownership of the actions.”

He says that dairy farmers are already involved in these kinds of processes throughout New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Third Land And Water Forum Report:

The final report from the Land and Water Forum strikes a balance between preservation and production, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

As a member of the forum we sought recognition for sheep and beef farmers as stewards of our rural land, while preserving opportunities for those who manage water sustainably.

It has been a long and complex process, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand Western North Island Farmer Director, Kirsten Bryant. “But, ultimately, one in which the voices of water users of all different types have been heard and in which we have all worked together for the good of all of New Zealand.”

She welcomed the emphasis throughout the process on local people making local decisions, within a national framework. . .

Meridian Energy also welcomes the report:

Meridian Energy today welcomed the release of the Land and Water Forum’s (LAWF’s) third report.

Chief Executive Mark Binns congratulated the Forum for pulling together a complex and diverse group of water interests.

“There are a range of views on the right approach to manage New Zealand’s fresh water resources. This forum has enabled all parties to put their views on the table,” says Mr Binns.

“Recognition should go to Chair Alistair Bisley and all Forum members for their four year collaboration. The result is three quality reports that will help improve water management for New Zealand.”

The water allocation report marks the conclusion of the Forum’s work. “LAWF’s collaboration provides an opportunity for making positive change to the way New Zealand manages its water. This framework is capable of protecting the environment and enabling economic growth,” says Mr Binns.  . .

Business NZ says the recommendations are positive:

The third report of the Land and Water Forum brings useful recommendations for improving New Zealand’s freshwater management, says BusinessNZ.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said water was essential for many business activities which drive New Zealand’s economy and on which many New Zealanders rely for employment and income growth.

“Businesses require the confidence to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects knowing their rights to use water are clearly understood and secure.

“Investors are risk averse and any changes in the right to take or use water over time need to be clearly understood.

“It is important that transfer and trade in water rights are facilitated to the extent possible allowing water to move to its highest valued use, without unnecessary restrictions from regulators.”

Fish and Game says cherry picking would derail a water clean up:

Fish & Game NZ says the release of the third and final Land and Water Forum (LWF) report will only have an impact on improving freshwater management if the Government accepts all of the Forum’s recommendations, which are interconnected, and not pick and choose those which suit.

In these three reports the Government now has the bones of a blueprint – reached by consensus – for how to manage the public water resource, says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“All three reports must be treated as a package deal,” he says. “LWF’s second report recommended the need for a national objectives framework for water quality but the Government took it upon itself to develop these outside the forum framework. We’ve never had reasonable justification for that decision, which is odd given all the expertise was around the LWF table.

“LWF has been deliberating on these issues to reach a consensus for fouryears now and during that time freshwater quality and quantity has continued to deteriorate,” says Mr Johnson. . .

Federated Farmers supports the recommendations:

“Despite what is said at times about our environment, we must never forget we still enjoy some of the highest quality water on earth,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesman.

“LawF recommendations are about setting a pathway to protect and over time, improve our already high water quality. It is about better managing our most precious natural resource to fulfil our social, economic, environmental and cultural needs.

“Farmers support this aspiration and Federated Farmers is committed to playing our part in achieving it.

“We know the way we farm will need to change. Perhaps what needs to be fully understood is that change is also needed beyond agriculture. LawF covers all water, rural or urban, so we are all in this together.

“At the heart of LawF recommendations is for communities to adopt a collaborative process in setting water quality limits. This mirrors the one we have gone through on LawF itself. It is a very good way to understand issues in depth.

“Any collaborative process must be genuinely informed by what limits mean for individual communities. It is about striking a balance between what is feasible and what is not.

“Federated Farmers does take issue with some regional councils rushing to set limits. This fails to inform or involve the community in what will affect jobs, a community’s standard of living, or for that matter, its makeup.

“There are also some local councils who believe they ought to be exempted because they cannot achieve limit objectives and therefore, shouldn’t have to. It is the kind of thinking some farmers may have harboured decades ago, but not now.

“For agriculture, the regulatory process should embed Good Management Practice (GMP), the inclusion of farm environmental plans and where appropriate, Audited Self Management (ASM).

“Good Management Practice provides a holistic way to address water quality issues than the nitrate myopic approach suggested by many regional councils.

“Good Management Practice should further help communities decide where limits should be set, so as not to cause social and economic damage. I guess this is about empowering communities to find the right balance.

“LawF recommendations are a roadmap and Federated Farmers supports them,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

Te Wai Maori Trust says the report is a practical and sensible solution to fresh water management:

New Zealand’s future as a leading primary sector producer as well as our nation’s 100% Pure New Zealand brand depends on our ability to sustainably manage the valuable fresh water resource. The third report of the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), released today, provides a responsible yet practical way forward to freshwater management, the Te Wai Maori Trust says.

Te Wai Maori Chairman Ken Mair today called on the Government to implement the recommendations, which found that iwi rights and interests must be resolved for any freshwater management regime to be stable and durable in the future.

“There are a range of competing uses for fresh water throughout the country – from dairying to crop farming, urban demands to tourism uses. But the Government will not be able to resolve them in a durable manner until it engages with iwi over Maori rights and interests in fresh water,” Mr Mair said. . .

Regional councils say the report cements their role:

Chair of the regional sector group Fran Wilde said the report cements the role of regional councils in managing New Zealand’s freshwater resource and highlights the need for a more supportive national framework for collaborative decision-making.

“Regional councils are at the forefront of water management and use a variety of methods to manage and enhance water quality,” said Ms Wilde.

“There is strong support among councils for collaborative decision-making regarding water quality management and we have a number of successful examples of this in action.” . .

Environmental Defence Society endorses Land and Water Forum Report:

The release of the third and final report from the Land and Water Forum has been welcomed and endorsed by the Environmental Defence Society.

The Forum originated at the 2008 EDS Conference where an initial support group from a wide range of interests, including farming and environmental, agreed to try and find a better way of managing freshwater.

“It’s been a long road since then, with the Government getting behind the exercise and the core group expanding to include representation from all key stakeholders and from iwi. Four years on there is now a package of measures that need to be taken together and implemented by Government,” said EDS Chair Gary Taylor. . .

However, Irrigation NZ says last minute changes weaken the report:

IrrigationNZ says last minute changes to the Land and Water Forum’s Third Report, ‘Managing Within Limits’, have weakened its integrity.

“IrrigationNZ has spent the past year collaborating in good faith to reach agreement on how water quantity and quality is best managed in NZ. A package that provided a sound platform to support sustainable future growth in New Zealand had been produced. However, last minute changes, particularly to the water allocation section, mean IrrigationNZ now questions whether the Land & Water Forum is the collaborative consensus- based process it claims to be?” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

While Mr Curtis says there are many positives within the final report, including the need for; community-driven catchment-based water management; industry ‘Good Management Practice’ as the preferred route; development of community water infrastructure to address over-allocation; and a move to plan-led water management – IrrigationNZ has major concerns about parts of the water allocation chapter.

Certainty is the key if irrigators are to invest in sustainability. Irrigators need long-duration consents and an explicit right of renewal,” says Curtis. “Short durations and uncertainty of renewal will produce reactive and high- risk thinking which creates scenarios prohibitive to capital investment. If the community wants environmental gains without job losses or food price increases, then New Zealand must implement a resource management system that allows for long-term investment and thinking.”

There is also a need for community-driven water infrastructure solutions to be consented for over 50 years. This would improve the viability of initial and on-going capital investment. In return for this, IrrigationNZ agrees consents need to adapt in a timely manner to environmental limit changes. “This is the most logical package for water allocation,” says Curtis. Having recently returned from an overseas study tour of irrigation developments in the UK, Israel and Australia he says, “It is also consistent with water allocation internationally.”

“Irrigators have committed to more sustainable farming practices. Certainty, long-term thinking and catchment-based water management are the only way water quality and quantity objectives set by the wider community will be achieved in New Zealand.”

The full report can be downloaded  here.


Rural round-up

May 20, 2012

Good news for sheep farmers – Sally Rae:

Rabobank animal protein analyst Rebecca Redmond has a message for New Zealand sheep farmers – stay positive and remain confident.   

Ms Redmond spoke about global sheep meat price rises and the potential flow-on effects on international production and  competition during a recent client focus field day at Newhaven Perendales in North Otago.   

The year 2012, worldwide, was probably going to be the lowest point in terms of sheep meat production, but Ms Redmond expected that by 2015, volumes would be back to 2010 levels. . .   

PM says agriculture must focus on quality:

QUALITY agricultural produce coming out of New Zealand is critically important and we have got to maintain that quality and leverage it for all it’s worth, said Prime Minister John Key in his address to Gisborne-Wairoa Federated Farmers’ AGM in Gisborne.

Intensification, the use of new science and technologies to combat global warming and market access are the key ways the government can help NZ farmers meet the  demands of the world rapidly increasing requirement for protein, Mr Key said.

“Both Fonterra and Federated Farmers have clearly understood the need to be mindful of the environmental outcomes from intensification, and how bad outcomes can affect our markets. . .

Vaccines are in his blood – Marg Willimott:

PRODUCING innovative products using sheep and cattle blood is an example of a successful farming business taking farm products to the high end of the value chain.

South Pacific Sera is a company that produces top quality donor animal blood, serum and protein products for use in therapeutic, cell culture, microbiology and immunology applications around the world.  . .

New Zealand and Australia join forces at World Farmers’:

Federated Farmers of New Zealand and the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) have today announced that they will both apply for membership of international agricultural advocacy body, the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO).

The WFO will bring together national farming bodies from across the globe to create policy and advocate on behalf of the world’s farmers – providing benefits to both Australian and New Zealand farmers, says NFF President Jock Laurie and Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills.

“Since the demise of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers two years ago, farm representation on an international scale has been at a crossroads,” Mr Wills said. . .

Innovative Kiwi company revolutionises viticulture practices worldwide:

An innovative New Zealand company has developed a pruning system that recently won two major European trade awards and has been described by European media as a revolutionary step in mechanising viticulture that has the potential to change vineyard practices.

Marlborough based KLIMA developed the world’s first Cane Pruner, a machine that cuts, strips and mulches grapevines – jobs that until now have always been carried out by hand.  In addition to giving grape growers better control over vine quality, The KLIMA Cane Pruner reduces labour costs associated with pruning by around 50 per cent. 

KLIMA Managing Director Marcus Wickham says the KLIMA pruning system and machine have proven popular because they take the pain out of pruning, substantially reduce grape growers’ pruning costs and provide a rapid return on their investment. . .

Centuries of farm ownership marked – Helena de Reus:

About 200 people gathered in Lawrence at the New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards on Saturday night, to honour families who have owned the same farm for a century or more.   

Twenty-five families attended the official function at the Simpson Park complex, with four families receiving  sesquicentennial awards marking 150 years or more of farm ownership.   

Two appointments made to Dairy Women’s Network Board:

The Dairy Women’s Network has appointed two new independent Trustees to join its board – including the first male to join the Board’s ranks since the Network was established in 1998.

The two new voluntary Trustees are Neal Shaw from Ashburton, and Leonie Ward from Wellington. . .

Pastoral Dairy Investments cans public offer:

Pastoral Dairy Investments, a company associated with farm management firm MyFarm, has canned plans for an initial public offering after failing to attract its minimum $25 million subscription.

The company won’t extend its closing offer from today after indications of interest didn’t translate into actual investment, it said in a statement. PDI was offering 25 million shares plus oversubscriptions at $1 apiece, and was also seeking $50 million from high net worth individuals.

“We suspect that this lack of demand is mainly due to general investor caution related to the current uncertain economic climate and a lack of familiarity with dairy farming as an asset class,” spokesman Neil Craig said. . .

Milestone in pasture evaluation to be unveiled:

A rating system for pasture grasses based on economic performance, to be known as the DairyNZ Forage Value Index, will be unveiled to dairy farmers in Hamilton this Thursday [May 24] at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum.

The creation of the Forage Value Index is considered a significant and valuable milestone for the future profitability of the dairy industry in New Zealand.

DairyNZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader for Productivity, Dr Bruce Thorrold, will be presenting the new Forage Value Index to the Farmers’ Forum along with the President of NZPBRA (New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association) Dr Brian Patchett. . .

NZ producers receive lower prices in 1Q on falling commodity prices, strong dollar:

New Zealand producers were squeezed in the first quarter, receiving lower prices for their products as global commodity prices fell and the kiwi dollar remained strong, while their input prices rose.

The Producers Price Index’s output prices, which measure the price received for locally produced goods and services, fell 0.1 percent in the three months ended March 31, Statistics New Zealand said.

Prices received by food manufacturers fell 1.4 percent in the quarter, leading the decline, due to “lower international prices for meat and dairy products compounded by the appreciating dollar during the period,” Statistics NZ said. . .

Producers’ Price index: March 2012 key facts:

In the March 2012 quarter, compared with the December 2011 quarter:

Prices received by producers (outputs) fell 0.1 percent. • Manufacturing was the key contributor to the fall, with meat and dairy product prices down.
• Sheep, beef, and dairy farming output prices were down. • Electricity and gas supply prices were up 6.9 percent. . .

Prices paid by producers (inputs) rose 0.3 percent. • Higher electricity generator prices were the largest contributor to the inputs PPI. • Food manufacturers paid lower prices for livestock and milk. The manufacturing inputs price index was down 1.2 percent. . .


Cow numbers moooving up

December 8, 2010

A couple of decades ago New Zealanders used to have more than 20 sheep each – that’s when our human population was around 3 million and the ovine one topped 70 million.

Sheep numbers have declined and the number of people has increased so we now have only about 10 sheep each. However while that’s been happening the dairy population has been growing and we now have more cows than people.

Dairy statistics released by Dairy NZ and Livestock Improvement show the milking cow population is now 4.4 million, compared with 4.39 million people.

They also show:

· Nationally there was a slight increase in the number of herds. The total number of herds in the 2009/10 season increased by 73 (to 11,691).

· Consistent with the trend for the past 30 seasons, the average herd size increased to 376, an increase of 10 on the previous season. The average herd size has tripled in the last 30 years, and has increased by more than 100 cows in the last eight years.

· Nationally the number of cows in New Zealand has increased 3.4% over the previous season to 4.4 million.

· Half of all herds have 300 or more cows, a little under 15% have between 200 and 249 cows, 56% have between 100 and 349 cows. In 2009/10 49% (5762) of herds had 300 cows or more, 2444 (21%) had 500 or more cows and 400 (3%) has over 1,000 cows.

· The majority of dairy herds are located in the North Island (77%). The greatest concentration of herds is in the Waikato region (31%).

· Although South Island dairy herds account for a little less than one-quarter of the national total, they contain over one third of all cows.

· There are more than 1.5 million cows in the South Island and the South Island average herd sizes are increasing faster than the North Island.

· The highest average production per herd, and per hectare was recorded in North Canterbury at 280,935 kilograms of milksolids.

· There are now 11,691 dairy herds in New Zealand.

· Holstein Friesian and crossbred cows show highest milksolids (Kg) production (herd test statistics).

· In the 2009/2010 season 3.15 million cows were mated to artificial breeding.

South Island herds are generally bigger than those in the north but there is a trend back to smaller herds.

We started with 400 cows, increased over a couple of seasons to 600 then built another shed and got up to 1200 cows. We’re now in the middle of preparations to build a third shed and run three smaller herds.

We think that will be better for staff and stock.

When you get up to 1200 cows your manager has to manage people and it’s not easy to find people who can do that well.

With smaller herds you can employ lower order sharemilkers who are generally highly motivated. Many of those looking for jobs are couples who are very good at managing stock and feed and have to employ only one other fulltime worker.

Larger herds increase milking time which means longer days for staff. It also means more time off-feed for cows and they have to walk further to get to the shed.

One of the big concerns with bigger herds is effluent. With three smaller herds and three separate sheds if something goes wrong with one we can be reasonably sure it’s due to either an equipment or people problem rather than something wrong with the system.

We’re interviewing staff at the moment and have been very impressed by the calibre and enthusiasm of applicants. By this time next year we’ll have a good idea whether reducing the herd sizes is the right mo(oo)ve.


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