Rural round-up

11/09/2021

No sector agreement on new methane target – David Anderson:

Despite agreement among farm industry bodies that the current methane targets for the sector are excessive, not based on science and need to be changed, there is currently no plan in place to achieve this.

That’s the claim of agricultural consultant Steven Cranston, following a recent meeting of pan sector voices with Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

Cranston says one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, organised by North Otago farmer Jane Smith and held in Wellington last month, was the lack of a coherent strategy to get the methane emissions reduction target reduced (currently 24 to 47% by 2050). . . 

Visa frustrations push Timaru dairy worker towards Australia – Chris Tobin:

Ariel Ocon has been working on South Island dairy farms for 13 years, but visa frustrations have him seriously considering heading to Australia with his family.

“To stay here legally I had to apply for a work to residence visa. They (Immigration NZ) said you will wait for 16 months from the time you applied. I applied in 2019, and I’m still waiting,” Ocon, who works on a farmer near Timaru, said.

“I just received an email from them saying in two months they would allocate a case officer to process my application. I still haven’t got a case officer.”

Ocon’s frustration comes as Australia has provided financial incentives attempting to attract New Zealand immigrant dairy workers to relocate there. Ocon knows other Filipino workers who have already opted to leave. . . 

Animal welfare crisis looms as Minister butchers opportunity :

An animal welfare crisis is looming as Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor fails to pay attention to what’s going on around him, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Last year, during the first Covid lockdown, the Government spent $5.8 million buying 12,000 pig carcasses from overstocked farms and donating them to charity.

“If they hadn’t done this, we would have had an animal welfare problem of significant scale on our hands.

“Now the issue is looming again in this current lockdown and Minister O’Connor is missing in action.

“The Government’s stubborn refusal to allow butcher shops to open during all Covid levels is based on the reasoning that they are riskier than standing in a queue, or shopping at, supermarkets and dairies. . . 

Native trees to be planted on unusable forestry land to protect waterways – Bonnie Flaws:

One of the country’s largest forestry plantation owners, Aratu Forests, has signed a 90-year agreement with eLandNZ to plant native trees on unusable land, creating permanent buffers alongside waterways.

The partnership, brokered by law firm Anderson Lloyd, plans to stop forestry waste, such as logs, from being washed into waterways by planting native trees on otherwise unusable stretches of land across 33,000 hectares of forestry plantation, mostly in the Gisborne region, forestry law specialist Dan Williams​ said.

About 170 ha of riparian land would be planted this year, according to the eLandNZ website. . . 

Avocado exports face headwinds this year – Hugh Stringleman:

Avocado growers have been told to expect substantial falls in orchard gate returns (OGR) for their fruit harvested this spring and summer, mainly because of avocado oversupply in Australia.

The average price per 5.5kg tray across all sizes will be well down on the average OGRs for the past five years of $23 for fruit that was exported.

Last season was particularly good for growers, who received $26/tray and $42,000/ha OGR across slightly more than 4000ha in production, half of which is in Bay of Plenty.

Primor chief executive John Carroll says the new export season began on September 1, with some air freight to Asian markets and the first shipments to Australian supermarkets. Primor is a partner in the joint venture company Avoco, the majority exporter of avocados. .

No waster farm to plate – Rebecca Fox:

After his first visit to Queenstown, chef Ryan Henley said to himself  that is where he would retire to. But he has not had to wait that long, Rebecca Fox discovers.

Ryan Henley has his butcher’s knife out and is about to start cutting up a side of wagyu beef that has just arrived.

It is an unusual sight in a hotel kitchen to see a 400kg side of beef lying there.

But Henley would not have it any other way. His new job as executive chef at QT Queenstown means he can call the shots.

That means following his no-wastage, farm-to-plate ethos and dealing direct with producers, preferably as local as possible. . .

 

Farm alarm as more taxes spent launching another fake meat company – Chris McLennan:

Another big government authority has spent millions of taxpayer money to launch a fake meat company.

This time it is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has spent $5 million to support Sydney-based startup All G Foods through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

All G Foods plans to soon have plant-based and alternative proteins on the shelves of national supermarket chain IGA including mince, sausages, chicken, bacon and animal-free dairy products.

The new company won $16 million in seed funding. . .


Rural round-up

30/03/2021

IrrigationNZ submits on Climate Change Commission Report – says water storage key to enabling emissions reductions:

IrrigationNZ has submitted the Climate Change Commission draft advice report and is supportive of the desire to reduce emissions in New Zealand, and play our part in this global issue.

“However, our view is that zero carbon targets won’t be met without investment in water storage, capture and precision use. Water infrastructure needs to be better recognised as an enabler to achieving our emissions reduction targets,” says Vanessa Winning, chief executive of IrrigationNZ

“Access to reliable water is essential for farmers and growers to diversify their land away from ruminant agriculture to a more mixed-production approach.

“We also see opportunity to augment or back up green electricity supply locally by local ‘bolt-on’ hydro electricity generation where water storage already exists as part of an irrigation scheme. The cost of water and energy, and the ability to source energy closer to use (localised) are going to be key to enabling behavioural change and reducing resistance. . . 

Output of dairy to fall with regulation – Laura Smith:

Mounting pressure on Southland’s agricultural sector is expected to hit dairy production.

Southland’s economic development agency Great South this month released a post-Covid scenario analysis report.

Economics consultants Infometrics produced the report.

Author Nick Brunsdon said economic activity in most industries would recover by 2025 but increasing stringency in environmental regulations would soon limit, and ultimately reduce, output from activities such as dairy and cattle farming. . . 

172 – Tom Hunter:

Hours that is. One hundred and seventy two hours is what shows up in my last fortnightly pay slip for the agricultural contractor I work for.

I finally have a Sunday off. A beautiful, lovely, empty Sunday after twenty consecutive days of 5am wake ups and 11pm bedtimes.

Others have more hours and I’m informed by those who’ve worked here for several years that two hundred plus hours per fortnight is a more normal harvesting season. We assume that it’s because we’ve had a long stretch of fine weather and started a little earlier than usual, so the load has been more spread out than in the past. The boys – and most of them are boys – are not happy about this since such incredible hours are a bonus on top of their other income earned on random jobs during the rest of the year. Without such work, times would be tough.

I’d probably be working longer hours were I on the chopper crews (maize chopping) that use tractors and trailers. Suitable only for short road runs from chop site to stack site, those drivers work deep into the night to get the job done. . . 

Three ways to cook the perfect steak – Craig Hickman (Dairyman):

Craig Hickman, aka Dairyman, shares his surprising, innovative and mildly controversial ways to cook the perfect steak.

I cook a pretty mean steak.

I’ve had plenty of practice and I’ve got my methodology down pat; season the meat at least an hour before you intend to cook it, bring the steak to room temperature before it hits the pan and always, always oil the meat instead of the cooking surface.

Then I discovered three things that made me rethink my whole steak ideology. . . 

Central Hawke’s Bay farming couple named national sustainability ambassadors:

Evan and Linda Potter are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing, and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made last night at the National Sustainability Showcase at Te Papa in Wellington, where all regional supreme winners from the 2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards were in attendance.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards is an annual celebration and promotion of sustainable farming and growing practices, where regional supreme winners come together to share ideas and information. . . 

Pasture symposium announced key speakers:

Raise the topic of pasture resilience, and key themes emerge among both New Zealand farmers and researchers, especially around climate change, according to a leading pasture scientist.

Over two days in May, arguably the best range of speakers on this topic ever brought together in NZ will gather in the Waikato to share their observations and latest findings at a one-off Resilient Pastures Symposium (RPS).

Organising committee chair David Chapman says it’s no coincidence that the presenters align so closely with what he describes as commonly-voiced suggestions about the future of NZ grassland farming.

Trend number one: “For farming everywhere south of Auckland, look at what people are doing in Northland. That’s what much of the North Island will be like in the future, so that’s where the answers lie.” . . 


Rural round-up

30/10/2020

50 years of flower farming  – two families harness the power of sunflowers for bird food company – Emma Rawson:

Two Waitaki families farming in partnership for more than 50 years have developed a bird-loving business out of a crop sown on a wing and a prayer.

Riotous rows of yellow sunflowers beaming from fields south of Ōamaru are a shot of happiness in the Waitaki landscape. Sandwiched between crops of golden wheat and barley, the big friendly giants turn up the colour dial to a saturated yellow.

The exact location of the flowers, grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for more than 50 years, is usually kept on the low down.

Sometimes they are planted on Thousand Acre Road between Ōamaru and Kakanui, sometimes further inland towards Enfield. Crop rotation is the official reason; sunflowers need a five-year interval before being replanted in the same field since they are prone to fungal disease. However, transplanting the lots has the bonus of tricking the birds and keeping humans on their toes until the flowers hit their full two-metre height and yellowy glory at the end of January. . . 

Hawke’s Bay growers consider ‘every possible option’ to fill worker shortage – Thomas Airey:

Horticulture and viticulture growers are trying to be innovative and flexible in order to attract the employees they need to get through a worker shortage for the coming summer season.

There is an urgent need for local seasonal labour, with limited availability of overseas workers due to Covid-19 and 10,000 workers required to thin, pick, package and process the year’s crop between November and April.

The industry has joined up with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the region’s local government leaders to deliver a plan to the Government next month to resolve the situation.

Part of that plan includes a growers’ employment expo and information session on Tuesday, November 10, through which they plan to showcase the summer work and career opportunities in the sector. . . 

One-size-fits all-model no more – Anthony Beverley:

New Zealand’s farmers are among the most efficient and productive in the world — and they need to be.

Our world is demanding high-quality, environmentally-friendly food. At the same time, regulatory costs continue to build; our weather is increasingly challenging to bank on and farm profitability and balance sheets are under pressure.

As a result, farmers are increasingly looking more closely at the economic contribution of each part of their farms. Not all land is the same; some parts of farms — if farmers are really honest about it — cost them money to farm.

It’s the steep, rough hill country out the back that farmers are taking a second look at. Not only is this land unprofitable, but it’s often difficult and dangerous to farm. This land is typically erosion-prone and topsoil run-off is undermining farmers’ broader environmental efforts. . . 

Award winner a hands-on business owner – Sally Rae:

Whether  about horses or lambs, alpacas or goats — Henrietta Purvis derives satisfaction from positive feedback from happy animal owners.

She and her husband Graeme Purvis operate Purvis Feeds from their Waianakarua property, south of Oamaru, selling lucerne chaff throughout New Zealand.

Very much a hands-on business owner who spends time both in the cutting shed and on the books, Mrs Purvis has been named the innovation category winner in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards . . 

Researchers find ‘sweet spot’ for kiwi fruit pollination

Upping the proportion of female flowers in a kiwifruit orchard may boost production, according to new research.

Plant and Food Research scientists and collaborators from the USA have compiled more than 30 years of field-based data from kiwifruit research to create “digital twins” of pollination processes in kiwifruit orchards, and have used these to predict how growers can optimise their fruit set.

Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical systems – in this case mathematical models of the biology of the plants and the behaviour of pollinating bees.

These digital twins gave researchers the ability to examine complex scenarios which examine multiple, intertwined factors at once. . . .

Brahmans from North Queensland are in demand from NSW graziers – Kent Ward:

Demand for larger lines of quality cattle has seen North Queensland become the go-to market for New South Wales graziers as they rebuild their herds.

The strong demand from southern restockers has not only provided competition at northern store sales, but also seen paddock deals culminate in thousands of cattle being trucked across the border in recent months.

Since March of this year, private agency firm Kennedy Rural has successfully sold and overseen the transport of in excess of 10,000 head of cattle into areas of NSW. . . 


Rural round-up

04/08/2020

Hyperbole flies over high country – David Williams:

The Government’s big shake-up of the high country has upset farmers and green groups. David Williams drills into the detail

Across Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown, at the sprawling Mt Nicholas Station, Kate Cocks and her family seem sheltered from the ill winds of Covid-19. 

Yes, the catamaran that used to bring tourists over for farm tours isn’t running, and the public road running through the almost 40,000-hectare station isn’t packed with tourists riding the Around the Mountains cycle trail. 

But Mt Nicholas still has certainty. It has long-lasting contracts with US-owned clothing company Icebreaker and Italian textiles company Reda for the wool from its 29,000 merino sheep, and also runs 2300 Hereford cattle.  . . 

Crossbred farmers feel financial pinch – Yvonne O’Hara:

Southern Rural Life reporter Yvonne O’Hara  looks at  issues affecting the shearing sector, particularly training and crossbred wool returns.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul does not make financial sense when shearing crossbred sheep.

Although the issue was not common at present, some crossbred farmers might be looking at cutting costs and asking their contractors to limit the supply of woolhandlers to their sheds, New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said

More were likely to be considering that if the price they received for their wool did not improve and shearing, transport and associated costs were not recovered. . .

Tackling farming boots and all – Gerard Hutching:

A former international rugby player who once played for the All Blacks, decided to end his stellar career and hang his boots to return to his farming roots. Gerard Hutching reports.

For George Whitelock a decade-long professional rugby career had a myriad benefits: a secure income, world travel, paths to leadership and friendships forged with a cross-section of Kiwi society. 

But in terms of dairy farming, the pay-off has related to the way in which performance was measured on and off the sports field, and how that has translated into his new business.  

“What drives you when you’re a sportsman is that when you play every week, with technology you get all the improvements from watching video clips and varying your performance,” George said. 

“With farming I get great satisfaction every day knowing what’s going out the gate and I can judge myself and ask ‘what did I do well today or not so well’ – it’s so measurable. That challenge drives me, and it’s why I’m so passionate about dairying.”1 . . 

From koru to cows – Annette Scott:

Nikayla Knight’s career path has gone from the glamour of serving lattes in an airport lounge to milking cows on a Mid Canterbury dairy farm and she is stoked.

Knight was pursuing a hospitality career in the Koru Lounge at Dunedin airport when covid-19 struck. She effectively lost her job overnight.

“Given tourism shut down because of covid I was out of work. I wasn’t going to sit around and do nothing.

“I had three months out of work, no money coming in, no hope of returning to my job so I was looking for anything,” Knight said. . . 

UN removes anti-meat tweet:

The United Nations has removed a tweet following a global backlash from farmers.

The tweet, posted on July 26, stated “The meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies. Meat production contributes to the depletion of water resources & drives deforestation.”

The tweet was accused of being sympathetic to oil companies, whilst targeting the meat industry.

According to Australian website Farm Online, the Australian government felt particularly targeted by the tweet. . .

Agrichemical industry will take responsibility for environmental waste :

Agrichemical manufacturers back the government’s mandate to take environmental responsibility for their products at the end of their useful life.

Agcarm members support the government’s moves to place the onus on them to ensure that their products can be recycled or disposed of safely. The association’s chief executive Mark Ross says “our members have a long history of taking responsibility for their products. They do this by paying a levy on all products sold, so that they can be recycled or sustainably treated at the end of their useful life”.

The industry funds the rural recycling programme Agrecovery which offers farmers alternatives to the harmful disposal practices of burning, burying and stockpiling of waste. Agcarm is a founder and trustee of the programme, “demonstrating a long-standing commitment to better environmental outcomes,” says Ross. . .


Rural round-up

19/10/2019

Act now on swine fever – Neal Wallace:

Dr Eric Neumann’s career takes him to animal disease hot spots throughout the world to advise officials and farmers on their response and to monitor severity and behaviour of disease outbreaks Neal Wallace talks to the epidemiologist.

The savagery of African swine fever was starkly illustrated to Kiwi epidemiologist Dr Eric Neumann when he visited a 1000-pig farm in Vietnam.

The fever’s presence had been confirmed in the housed piggery two weeks before his visit but by time he got there 600 animals had died and most of the survivors were sick. . .

Time to effect meaningful change – Dairyman:

Bashing Fonterra in the media is so prevalent it’s almost a national pastime; farmer shareholders keen to share that phone call they got from the chairman, commentators sticking the boot in at the behest of their dairy processor clients and any politician looking for some airtime will happily have a crack.

If the payout is low it’s due to the incompetence of directors and management, if the payout is high it’s because Fonterra is screwing the scrum and forcing their competitors to pay more for milk than it’s worth.

While there are legitimate criticisms to be levelled at the Co-op, and they’re not above scoring own goals in that department, it’s so easy that writing a column panning them is almost lazy. I make no secret that I’m a fan of Fonterra’s new direction; the honesty that is largely on display at shareholder meetings, the way they now engage with the government instead of the ‘Fortress Fonterra’ mentality of old and their willingness to show leadership and vision in areas that affect their farmers. . .

The NZ Government strategy to destroy the farming sector – Barbara McKenzie:

‘If sheep and beef farms convert to forestry on a nationwide scale at just half the rate that has occurred in Wairoa this last year, there will be no sheep and beef farms left by 2050’ (Neil Henderson, Gisborne farmer)

The agricultural sector is New Zealand’s largest industry, made up chiefly of  pastoral farming and horticulture.

The coalition government, however,  is implementing a strategy squarely aimed at replacing the farming sector with forestry.  The result will be depopulation of the countryside, the destruction of  our environment and our way of life, and sets us on the road to poverty. . . 

Leather exporters struggle in oversupplied market :

Leather exporters are grappling with record low prices for hides.

The agricultral insights group, AgriHQ, said strong beef production in Australia, Brazil and the US had meant that the cattle hide market was significantly oversupplied.

A senior analyst at AgriHQ, Mel Croad, said this oversupply, combined with the rise of much more convincing synthetic leather substitutes and a downturn in the manufacture of luxury leather goods meant global demand was very weak.

“In addition, the closure of some Chinese tanneries due to environmental concerns has narrowed down selling options for hides,” Ms Croad said. . .

 

Demand from farmers for SurePhos expected to exceed supply:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients has produced a sustainable superphosphate product that is expected to displace traditional ‘Super’ fertiliser used by the majority of farmers – with clear environmental and productivity benefits.

SurePhosTM is expected to reduce phosphate losses by up to 75%, making a significant positive impact on the quality of waterways and, due to low water solubility, keeps nutrients in the soil system where they are available to plants.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman, David Peacocke, says SurePhosTM will be the choice of a new generation of farmers who have sustainability front-of-mind. . . 

I’m a farmer and a no-deal Brexit would put me out of business – Will Case:

Crashing out of the EU would not end uncertainty and would be a dark day for agriculture and food in Britain

Here in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, the sun is out, our grass is growing and the sky is blue. Sheep are busily nibbling the pasture while cattle are basking in the summer warmth. These are perfect conditions for farming. The animals are content and the farmers are working hard.

Everything should be fine, but there is a big, dark cloud lurking on the horizon: the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. This is a threat to everything we do. The uncertainty around Brexit and the prospect of trade tariffs that would cripple our business is a real worry. The future direction of UK-produced food is simply unknown.

Will we be forced to adhere to ever higher standards, while our government allows food to be imported from countries where farmers adhere to welfare or other standards that would, rightly, be illegal on my farm? Will our politicians assure British farmers that they will avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit? . . 


%d bloggers like this: