Rural round-up

March 29, 2017

Health risk concerns for orchard workers – Pam Jones:

Cromwell orchardists are concerned about the public health risks of continued freedom camping by fruitpickers.

While no cases of illness have been reported, the summerfruit industry body says it has serious concerns about the conditions in which some orchard workers are living and the possibility of a breakout of transferrable disease.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and Cromwell orchardist Tim Jones said the possible impact on export crops was discussed at Summerfruit’s board meeting last month and about five Cromwell orchardists were concerned. . . 

New leader steps up in agri-tech – Sally Rae:

Tracmap’s new chairman says it is an exciting time for the Mosgiel-based agri-tech company.

Chris Dennison, who farms at Hilderthorpe, in North Otago, replaces Pat Garden, from Millers Flat, who has stepped down after just over a decade.

TracMap was established by Colin Brown in 2006 after he identified a gap in the market for a rugged and easy-to-use GPS guidance and mapping system, specifically designed for New Zealand conditions.

He initially saw the opportunity in ground spreading and the application was pushed wider as it had been developed. . . 

Competition provided impetus – Sally Rae:

Winning the Southland Otago Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year title gave Jono and Kelly Bavin so much more than a trophy.

Mr and Mrs Bavin, now regional managers for Southland Otago in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, won the regional title in 2015, which coincided with the dairy downturn starting ”to bite”.

But because they had entered the competition, and really evaluated their business and where it was going, that helped them get through the next two years.

”There’s not many times in your life you pick up your business, throw it on the ground and rearrange it again. That’s what we did,” Mr Bavin said.

Had they not made the decision to enter the competition, then ”things could have been totally different” for the Southland couple. . . 

Calamity on the Coast – Peter Burke:

A ghastly period: that’s how DairyNZ West Coast consulting officer Ross Bishop describes the situation facing the region’s dairy farmers.

They are deeply frustrated and struggling to maintain faith in their dairy company Westland Milk Products, he says.

The company is in a financial mess and chief executive Toni Brendish has the unenviable task of trying to return it to a reasonable financial footing. Already she has made clear there will be a lower payout for farmers and job losses at its factories. . .

Digging into low productive results:

Failure to meet its own goals for reproductive performance (industry targets) has been much talked about at Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF).

Farmers at a February 23 focus day debated the analysis presented and anecdotal comparisons with other farms in the region.

Taking a long term view, particularly if the current season is excluded, reproductive performance has improved on the farm over the past 13 years. But drilling into the detail reveals the farm only once met the industry target of 78% six-week in-calf rate (2013 mating period). Since then the trend in six-week in-calf rates has declined, raising many questions about what is limiting performance. . . 

Our Pinot is pushing the boundaries:

Allen Meadows is a self-confessed, “obsessive” Burgundy lover. So much so that his life is spent compiling advice and information on the world’s foremost Pinot Noir region.

His quarterly reviewBurghound.com was the first of its kind to dedicate itself to the wines of a particular region – and has become the go-to for lovers of the variety.  

While his reviews offer regular updates on Oregon and Californian Pinot, it is not often that other New World countries are included in his extremely popular review. Hence a tasting of 221 wines from New Zealand was an amazing achievement, organised by NZW’s Marketing Manager USA, David Strada. Just getting Meadows to a tasting was an accomplishment – but the end results which featured in Issue 64 of Burghound.com (October 2016) were even more so. . .

More timber trees for planting 2017:

A rise in the number of timber tree seedlings being produced indicates a recent decline in plantation forest replanting may be reversing.

An MPI survey of all 28 commercial forest nurseries in New Zealand shows stock sales in 2016 for planting this year were 52.2 million seedlings, compared with 49.5 million the year before.

Forest Owners Association Chief Executive David Rhodes says the increase in seedling sales is a positive sign the industry is gearing up for increased production, even if the trees planted now will not be harvested for about another 30 years. . . 


90% swimmable

February 24, 2017

The Government has announced a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040, alongside releasing new policy, regulations, information maps and funding to help achieve the new goal.

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“This ambitious plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug,” Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The plan is backed up by national regulations requiring stock to be fenced out of waterways, new national policy requirements on regional councils to strengthen their plan rules on issues such as sewage discharges and planting riparian margins, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and new maps that clearly identify where improvements are needed.

“This 90 per cent goal by 2040 is challenging and is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years. It will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, and that’s important for New Zealand’s growing tourism industry. It will return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years while recognising that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.”

The target covers the length of rivers over 0.4m deep and the perimeters of lakes greater than 1.5km, which total 54,000km. The plan is about improving the frequency that we can swim in our lakes and rivers, noting that even our cleanest rivers breach swimming water quality standards during storms.

This is a very important point – nature is sometimes to blame for lower quality.

The swimmable target is based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with European and US definitions. Currently 72 per cent by length meet this definition, and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040. This means an additional 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040, or 400km per year.

“The maps I am releasing today provide the most comprehensive and consistent information on water quality for swimming of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes ever published. These will help focus councils and communities on improving their local water quality, as well as help people make decisions about where they can safely swim. The maps are connected to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website that provides real-time information on water quality, which is particularly relevant for the fair and intermittent categories.

“The challenge of improving water quality varies significantly across New Zealand. This plan requires improvements in water quality across all regions and all categories. The target not only requires an improvement in areas that are swimmable, ie into the fair category, but also rivers and lakes being moved from fair to good, and good to excellent. Regional targets to achieve the national goals are to be worked through with regional councils by March 2018. Some regional targets will need to be greater than the 90 per cent and others, where it is more difficult to achieve, will be less.

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management is being strengthened to support the new 90 per cent by 2040 swimmability target, as well as changes to address the issues of ecological health and nutrients by:

  • replacing “wadeable” with “swimmable”
  • adding macroinvertebrate monitoring for ecological health
  • strengthening references to “Te Mana o te Wai”
  • clarifying the consideration of economic opportunities
  • requiring instream limits for nitrogen and phosphorus
  • clarifying inclusion of coastal lakes and lagoons
  • clarifying the policy on exceptions
  • strengthening the requirement for monitoring and improving quality.

“The new regulations on excluding stock from waterways are an important part of this plan to improve water quality. The rules progressively apply to dairy, pig, dairy support, beef and deer farms from this year to 2030 relative to the steepness of the country, at an expected cost of $367 million,” Dr Smith says.

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“We are today opening bids for the new $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund and announcing the eligibility and assessment criteria, which closes on 13 April. This comes on top of the $350m already committed by the government, of which more than $140m has been spent on specific river and lake clean-ups.

“This is the third phase of the Government’s work programme to improve New Zealand freshwater management and builds on the NPS introduced in 2011 and the National Objectives Framework in 2014. I commend and acknowledge the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and the Land and Water Forum, who have worked tirelessly in assisting with these policy developments.”

The detail of the NPS and Stock Exclusion Regulations are open for consultation until 28 April 2017.

Deterioration in most waterways has taken place over many years and can’t be reversed quickly.

Lower standards of water quality have a number of causes, one of which is intensification of farming and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says farmers are up for the freshwater challenge the new standards pose:

New freshwater reforms will result in 56,000 km more fences protecting New Zealand waterways from stock – enough to go round the world one and a half times, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The new rules on stock exclusion are part of the Government’s plans announced today setting a target for 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040.

“Farmers have made huge progress in recent years to improve their environmental practices and this will be another important step forward. Dairy farmers have already voluntarily fenced off over 24,000km of waterways,” says Mr Guy.

“We know that stock standing in or regularly crossing waterways can do significant damage. While dairy farmers have voluntarily fenced off around 96% of their waterways, we want to extend this to other types of farms as well.

“The proposed national regulation would ensure that dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs and deer are kept out of waterways.

“We need to ensure the changes are practical for farmers, so the exclusions would be implemented in a staged process starting this year through to 2030, depending on the stock type and land slope.

“There are long term benefits for the primary industries and wider economy from these reforms. Overseas markets and consumers increasingly demand a strong environmental performance over and above regulatory requirements. In this context, protecting New Zealand’s natural advantage has never been more important.

“No single organisation or group is solely responsible for improving our water quality. Meeting the target will take a collective effort, but the primary industries have a key contribution to make.

“In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries continues to work with the primary sectors to invest in good ideas which promote environmental best practice. One example is the Farm Systems Change program, which identifies high preforming farms and uses farmers’ networks to spread their knowledge.

“Another is a major programme under the Primary Growth Partnership, called Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. Under this programme effluent management systems have been improved, and every region now has a riparian planting guideline developed in conjunction with regional councils.

“As a Government we are committed to growing the primary industries at the same time as improving water quality. Water storage schemes like Central Plains Water and the Waimea Community Dam help in this by taking pressure off groundwater sources and maintaining summer river flows, delivering both economic and environmental benefits.

“We also know that science will play a major role in improving our freshwater. The ‘Our Land and Water’ National Science Challenge is investing $96.9 million over 10 years into this, hosted by AgResearch and involving six other Crown research institutes.

IrrigationNZ says the outcomes are achievable:

“Achievable outcomes within a reasonable timeframe” is how IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis, described today’s release of the government’s ‘Clean Water’ document. He hoped however that the target of 90% of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040 didn’t let urban waterways ‘off the hook’.

“Farmers have received the lion’s share of blame for New Zealand’s water quality degradation and despite evidence backing up the contribution cities and industries make to poor water quality, they have largely escaped the finger-pointing. I’m hoping the Government will call every New Zealander to account for water quality, recognising we all contribute to the problem, therefore we must all work together to enact the solution” said Curtis.

Poor water quality is not only a rural problem nor is it solely due to bad farming practices.

IrrigationNZ was pleased the Government had recognised the important economic contribution farmers make to our communities, stating that Regional Councils must consider the economic wellbeing of their community when making decisions about water allocation.

“Farmers and growers make significant investments in irrigation infrastructure and on-farm efficiencies, and the return on that investment is spent in towns and cities throughout New Zealand. We all benefit from irrigation and it’s important councils don’t impose restrictions that negatively impact the viability of our primary sector.” . . 

DairyNZ welcomed the new rules:

“The new stock exclusion requirements for dairy cattle is a strong endorsement of the hard work dairy farmers have done on their farms to protect waterways,” says DairyNZ CEO Tim Mackle.

“The on-farm fencing requirements in the new rules have already been met by 97.1 percent of dairy farmers around the country, and the target by May, a month ahead of the new requirements, is to be 100 percent, with all waterways running through dairy farms will be fenced off and all stock crossings bridged,” he says.

“This means that right now very few dairy cattle have any access to waterways, and in just two months’ time no dairy cattle – that’s zero dairy cattle – should have access to waterways on our farms.”

Dr Mackle says fencing – currently 27,109 kms – is always set back a healthy distance from waterways, varying from farm to farm depending on the soil type and contour of the land.

“This ensures the optimum levels of bacteria, nutrients and sediment are filtered. Farmers also keep cows off sensitive areas in the vicinity of the fenced waterways, for example, in wet weather.”

“There’s still a way to go in some areas, and dairy farmers are well aware of that. We acknowledge that improving New Zealand waterways is a long journey, as today’s announcement recognises. The good news is dairy farmers around the country are leading the way in protecting freshwater on their farms.

“Our dairy farmers can be immensely proud of the work they are undertaking for the environment on their farms, and many are also doing work to improve their surrounding communities – and all New Zealanders, whether they are living in towns and cities, or in rural communities, can also be proud of the efforts of our dairy farmers,” says Dr Mackle.

As part of their commitment to the environment, dairy farmers are also planting vegetation along waterways, and using native plants such as manuka, cabbage trees and flaxes, as well as native grasses, that have superior ability to filter and slow run-off, he says.

“Added to this, all dairy farms now have dedicated effluent management systems with effluent ponds, just like towns around the country. Areas such as the dairy shed and yards drain directly into these systems where the effluent is stored and later used by farmers to fertilise their land.

“It’s also encouraging to see the rates of dairy effluent related prosecutions and abatement notices continuing to decline dramatically, and an improvement in overall effluent non-compliance, which is the lowest it has been in recent years.”

Over the past three years farmers have invested over $1 billion dollars in environmental protection measures, he says.

“About 70 percent of this expenditure has been on effluent systems that feature the latest technology. Farmers are also well along the way in preparing environmental management plans for their farms, working closely with environmental advisors and their local councils.”

Dr Mackle says while a number of forward-thinking farmers began environmental initiatives a decade and more ago, the actions of the past three years are recorded in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord.

“The accord is an independently audited report. It can be seen as the commitment of every single one of New Zealand’s 14,000 dairy farmers to play their part in helping to ensure that their fellow Kiwis can enjoy cleaner freshwater.”

Full results of year three of the water accord are currently being audited and will be announced in April.

For year two water accord results see www.dairynz/wateraccord

Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman also welcomed  the clean water plans:

“Water is, of course, the lifeblood of horticulture and our commercial growers have been innovating for some time with environmentally sustainable ways of growing healthy, fresh food for all New Zealanders,” Mr Chapman says.

“Growers implement a number of techniques to protect waterways near their properties. These including riparian planting and management adjacent to waterways and silt traps to collect run-off caused by rain and stop anything entering nearby waterways.

“Riparian planting has many benefits, particularly to water quality, but it is also very expensive and growers bear the cost of that.

“It is great to see the Government opening applications for the $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund, and we will certainly be looking at projects that could be part of that to create more and better ways to protect waterways near growing land.

“But it is also important to note that water quality in New Zealand is not solely the domain of people in the primary industries or rural land owners. The bulk of New Zealanders live in cities and they both use a lot of water and create a lot of waste water. So instead of always pointing the finger at those outside the cities, urban dwellers might want to consider what their contribution to clean water in New Zealand might be to help our growers continue to feed them healthy food in an environmentally sustainable way.”

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has welcomed the announcement:

“The announcement is generally consistent with some of the Land and Water Forum’s recommendations,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“For the first time, swimmability is the objective in freshwater management.

“We will have transparency regarding which lakes and rivers are in fact swimmable and which are not. This will vary across seasons and places. Regional councils will need to improve degraded systems with a target of achieving 90% swimmability by 2040.

“The standard for what constitutes swimmable rivers and lakes is comparable with the EU Water Framework Directive. Whether the target date is acceptable will become clear during the consultation phase to follow.

“Other recommendations by the Land and Water Forum have been accepted by Government. These include providing greater rigour on nitrate levels and on macroinvertebrates in the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. However, some of the detail on these issues appears to raise questions that need further exploration.

“One important issue that hasn’t been adequately addressed is turbidity and sediment – water clarity. The Forum is doing more work on this later in the year. . . 

Forest and Bird isn’t impressed:

Forest & Bird has condemned the government’s new water quality standards, warning New Zealanders that they lock in current levels of water pollution and allow for a 5-fold increase in the chance of getting sick from swimming in a river.

“Despite an explicit assurance from Minister Smith that the new water standards would provide for human and ecosystem health, he has failed to deliver on either of these things,” says Forest & Bird CEO Kevin Hague.

Contrary to the overwhelming public concern for the state of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes, the government’s announcement today does not require any improvement to our water quality, except for the very worst rivers.

“If your local river is polluted now, the government does not require that its water quality is improved to a standard that is safe for people and the ecosystem that it should support. Instead, all they propose is that the current situation is maintained,” says Mr Hague. . . 

What would he and his organisation do when nature causes the problems?.

The Otago Regional Council had concerns about only three waterways in January, two alerts were due to high rainfall and the poor water quality in the Kakanui River was caused by birds?

Clean water is one of the measures of sustainability, maintaining clean waterways and improving those with poor quality is a long-term and expensive process but the goal of 90% swimmable is achievable.


Rural round-up

February 9, 2017

Synlait increases forecast milk price to $6.25 kgMS:

Synlait Milk has increased their forecast milk price from $6.00 kgMS to $6.25 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season.

“International dairy commodity prices have improved further since our last announcement in November and although prices have eased slightly in early 2017, we believe $6.25 kgMS is now a realistic estimate for the current season,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman.

Mr Milne said global dairy production, with the exception of the United States, has continued to decrease and followed the trend of previous months. . . 

Stu Muir brings life to dying wetlands – Kate Guthrie:

Stu Muir is a Waikato dairy farmer and, in contrast to some of the headline-grabbing stories you may have read about dairy farmers, Stu and his family are putting a huge effort into restoring natural waterways on their block. Such is the magnitude of their effort and the success of their project,that they even featured on the 50th Anniversary episode of ‘Country Calendar’.

Stu’s family have been farming in New Zealand since the 1850s. On a block of land his great great grandparents
bought back in the 1890s, there is a swamp and until recently that swamp was clogged with willows and pampas – so badly blocked that you couldn’t move through the stream. Water couldn’t move either and with no current flowing through the wetland was full of pondweed and dead or dying throughout. . . 

‘You can’t afford to have a short-term view’ – Maja Burry:

A ban on collecting shellfish and seaweed species in Kaikōura has left some pāua divers jobless – but they are still supporting a government proposal to extend the closure further.

The Kaikōura earthquake lifted parts of the seabed by up to four metres, exposing thousands of pāua and other sealife to dehydration and prompting the fisheries closure.

The current ban is due to expire on 20 February, but the Ministry for Primary Industries has been seeking feedback on its plan to extend it another nine months. . . 

Trump vs. global supply chains: US agriculture edition – James Pethokoukis:

Donald Trump wants to rework NAFTA to somehow bring back manufacturing jobs. (Reality check here.) But I guess it isn’t just factories that have complex, enmeshed supply chains. US agriculture has a big stake in possible re-negotiations, too. From the FT:

Corn is the biggest of the US’s $17.7bn in agricultural exports to Mexico, a value that has risen fivefold since the countries signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s exports to the US have grown even faster to $21bn, led by fruits and vegetables such as lemons and avocados. … The US president has pledged to revise Nafta, wall off the border and possibly slap Mexican imports with tariffs. Trade in agriculture could end up a casualty. … Mexico is the third biggest destination for exported US farm products. They range from corn and wheat to dairy foods and high-fructose corn syrup. . . 

Manuka honey’s reputation hit by Queen’s grocer’s move – industry:

The reputation of manuka honey has taken a hit after the Queen’s official grocer pulled it from its shelves, says the local industry.

Fortnum-and-Mason removed the New Zealand-made product, after testing showed it had lower-than-expected levels of a key ingredient.

John Rawcliffe, from the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, said he did not know who supplied the honey to the upmarket grocer. . . 

  First round of Regional Awards finalists announced:

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is in full swing, with judging underway and the first regional finalists announced.

The awards, which oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions, received 424 entries.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO. . .

Tough contest for dairy industry scholars:

DairyNZ has awarded 55 scholarships to Lincoln, Massey and Waikato university students as part of a wider drive to support motivated young talent into the dairy industry.

The annual scholarships were awarded to students undertaking degrees in agriculture or related fields, with a particular interest in the dairy industry.

Susan Stokes, DairyNZ industry education facilitator, says the quality of applications this year was exceptionally high and bodes well for future talent coming into the dairy industry. . .

Final Results for Karaka 2017:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 91st National Yearling Sales Series concluded on Sunday after six action-packed days of selling.

The increased international presence at Karaka 2017 was a highlight of the Sale Series, with purchasers from nine countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, Great Britain, and Japan securing purchases through the three Sale sessions.

Spend by the Australian buying bench increased by over $5.6 million (+18%) on last year’s edition with receipts totalling $36.9 million for 290 horses purchased (up from 251 in 2016). . . 

Blooming marvellous… New Zealand’s biggest commercial nursery placed on the market for sale:

The land, buildings and business making up New Zealand’s biggest commercial wholesale plant and shrub nursery have been placed on the market for sale.

Growing Spectrum is a 9.635 hectare ‘all-in-one’ seedling, nursery and potting operation at Kihikihi near Te Awamutu in Southern Waikato. The business grows more than half-a-million plants for sale annually – supplying virtually all of New Zealand’s garden centres and selected home improvement mega store outlets.

The family owned and operated business was established 40 years by husband and wife horticultural entrepreneurs Peter and Carol Fraser. It now employs 36 full-time staff, with the company’s sales growing consistently over the past three completed financial years – reaching $4.76 million in the 2015/2016 period. . . 


Rural round-up

January 30, 2017

Farmers speak up for industry during a hostile year – Gerald Piddock:

Being named as one of Waikato’s top environmental farmers has given a platform for John Hayward and Susan O’Regan to show that agriculture is not the villain it is made out to be.

Nearly a year after being named supreme winners of the Waikato Farm Environment Awards, the couple’s farm has hosted countless individuals and groups, ranging from the former United States ambassador Mark Gilbert to cabinet ministers, MPs and school children.

O’Regan said they had tried to do their best to improve people’s understanding and perspective of dairying in what had been a pretty hostile year. . . 

Dairy strategy about more than just producing extra milk – Andrew Hoggard:

All manner of self-appointed experts have recently been making claims around the dairy industry’s strategy, and how we associate with others.

About the only thing they got right is that we actually do have a strategy. Its official title is The Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming. Its purpose is firstly to inform DairyNZ’s funding priorities, but also to co-ordinate industry action on the various strategy objectives.

The strategy is focused primarily around on-farm, but also covers domestic issues that will take into account the processors. So it’s not about telling the various processors which markets to operate in, and what products to sell. . . 

Shearing champs labour of love falling into place – Sally Rae:

“Imagine the biggest roller coaster in the world and being on it.”

That is how World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships organising committee chairman Tom Wilson describes preparing for the event in Invercargill next week.‘‘Some things have happened easily and the next minute you’ve got to really dig in with something a bit more challenging. ‘‘It is a bit of a labour of love but you work through it. Everything’s falling into place,’’ he said.

Mr Wilson, shearing great Sir David Fagan and Gavin Rowland, from Shearing Sports New Zealand, made the bid at the previous world championships in 2014 to hold the 2017 event in New Zealand. The bid was successful and planning began in earnest for the championships which will be held at the ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11. The championships have a 40-year history, dating back to when they were first held at Bath and West in England in 1977.Mr Wilson’s involvement stretches nearly as far, contesting his first world championships in Masterton in 1980. . . 

Finalist looks forward to tough competition – Sally Rae:

Alan Harvey is looking forward to next month’s Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

He is one of eight regional finalists who will compete in the event in Roxburgh on February 18. The winner will go on to the grand final in the Manawatu in July.

Organisers have touted it as shaping up to be the toughest competition of the seven regional finals nationwide. Mr Harvey (25) was fourth in the Tasman regional final last year. Brought up on a sheep and beef farm in North Otago, he joined the Five Forks Young Farmers Club when he was 15 and was involved in setting up a club at Waitaki Boys’ High School.

Summer heats up for Hawkes Bay farmers – Alexa Cook:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay are selling stock because they don’t have enough food or water for them, livestock agent John Kingston says.

Mr Kingston, who works for Carrfields, said although the region had had a good spring, weeks of wind had dried out the land.

“We normally have a dry season here but it’s getting beyond a joke now.

“Stock water is the biggest issue. Some people have had to buy water for houses. The feed is absolutely swept around most of Hawkes Bay.”

Dry weather spells trouble for Northland farmers – Sarah Robson:

Extra blankets and raincoats haven’t been far from reach in many parts of the country this summer, but farmers in Northland are worried they’re in for another prolonged dry spell.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said while there was a welcome burst of rain last week, strong winds have whisked most of the moisture away from the soil.

Dairy farmers were trying to source extra feed and looking at culling their herds. A lot of sheep and beef farmers had already de-stocked, while a wet October meant many crops had failed. . .

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Rural round-up

January 16, 2017

In lament of the NZ Farm – Dr Rosie Bosworth:

On the road to becoming the Detroit of agriculture.

Colleague and Christchurch based technology strategist Ben Reid, recently tweeted that New Zealand is in danger of fast becoming the “Detroit of Agriculture” – a rustbelt left behind after production has moved elsewhere.” Unfortunately, I am inclined to agree.  With technologies, science and new business models evolving, accelerating and converging at current breakneck speeds, industries globally – from banking, transport, accommodation and healthcare are having the rug pulled right out from beneath their feet. And sadly (at least for New Zealand farmers), agriculture, our economic mainstay, is next up on the chopping block. Fast en route towards becoming a sunset industry.  Overtaken and displaced by disruptive technologies, science breakthroughs and new business models. And the people at the helm? Not the people on the inside like our dairy farmers, apple breeders and savvy winemakers. But by sneaker wearing tech millennials and wealthy Tesla driving Silicon Valley venture capitalists and well funded research agencies. . . 

Dry conditions take toll on Northland farmers:

A drought declaration in Northland is just a few weeks away, but as conditions in the region grow tougher, Federated Farmers says.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said spring had been good for the region, but a dry November and December had caused problems across the board.

Halfway through November the rain had disappeared and south-westerly winds had had a very drying effect on the land, Mr Blackwell said. . . 

Dairy NZ to appeal decision on Greenpeace ad – Catherine Hutton:

One of the groups who complained that a Greenpeace advertisement was false and misleading says it plans to appeal the advertising watchdog’s decision.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 12 complaints about the advert, which blamed the dairy industry for water pollution, but dismissed all of them.

Dairy NZ, which represents dairy farmers, would not comment on the reasons it was appealing, ahead of the hearing.  . .

Hurunui Water Project says Greenpeace claims are exaggerated and out of date:

North Canterbury irrigation Company Hurunui Water Project today rejected claims by Greenpeace that the proposed scheme will lead to large-scale intensive dairying and consequent degradation of the Hurunui River.

“Greenpeace needs to actually read the latest information on the Hurunui Water Project (HWP) proposal that they have,” says HWP Chief Executive Alex Adams. “If they had done so, they would have seen the scheme is very different now to the original proposal they seem to be referring to, and that dairy development as a result of the scheme is planned to be to be a minor component.”

Adams said a 2016 survey of HWP shareholders showed the vast majority of the dryland farmers simply wanted irrigation to provide the assurance they needed to continue with their existing farming practice; only some 10 percent indicated that dairy conversions might be an option. . . 

Korean FTA delivers new round of tariff cuts:

More local businesses looking to expand into Korea will benefit from the latest round of tariff reductions under the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Trade Minister Todd McClay says.

The start of 2017 saw two thirds of New Zealand’s exports to Korea become duty free, up from 46 per cent in 2016.

“Thanks to this continued progress under the FTA, even more New Zealand businesses can compete favourably in the Korean market,” Mr McClay says.

New Zealand and Korea celebrated the first anniversary of the agreement in December 2016. Since the FTA’s entry into force in December 2015, New Zealand has experienced strong results particularly in the food and beverage sector where exports to Korea have increased by over 16%. . . 

Fonterra milk collections remain below previous season, trend shifts in Oz – Edwin Mitson

 (BusinessDesk) – Milk collections by Fonterra Cooperative Group this season are continuing to track below the previous year, mainly due to lower production on the North Island.

Collections in the seven months from June 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016 were 881 million kilogrammes of milk solids, a fall of 5.5 percent on the same period in 2015, when prices were much lower. Some 186 million kgMS were collected in the month of December, down 5 percent on the same month a year ago.

There was a clear gap between the two main islands of New Zealand. Collections on the North Island fell 7 percent from June to December, while on the South Island they dropped just 2 percent in the same period. . . 

Commitment Pays Dividends for Taranaki Egg Farm Worker:

Team spirit, pride in her work and a determination to succeed in her studies have proved a winning combination for Taranaki woman Amy Kimura, who was recently named Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year for 2016. The national award is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (PrimaryITO).

Amy, who is of Ngati Raukawa descent, is currently a Farm Worker at Aviagen New Zealand Ltd’s Taranaki production farms where her duties include general care and responsibility for the welfare of the poultry in her care. . . 

17 myths about agriculture in 2017 – Peterson farm Bros:

1. GMOs are evil

GMOs are a valuable technology used in science, medicine, and agriculture. Farmers use them to increase yields, reduce inputs, improve the soil, and provide resistance to drought, insects and weeds. There are GMOs being used all throughout society, and there is a very good chance you’ve consumed or used a GM product today. We do believe people should be free to avoid GMOs if they want to, but GMOs have been around for 2 decades (over a trillion meals consumed) without a single sickness or health issue resulting from consumption. . .

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Rural round-up

January 13, 2017

Global milk production downturn bodes well – Simon Hartley:

The global downturn in milk production bodes well for New Zealand’s dairy farmers for much of 2017 and is increasing the likelihood of a boost in estimated payouts.

Between the key whole milk powder prices rising 45% during the past six months and six of the seven major dairy-producing countries reporting production declines, Rabobank’s dairy quarterly report paints a reasonably positive outlook for 2017.

However, recovery may become the catchphrase of the current season, as opposed to outright profitability, and the US currency may yet have a major impact, and on various markets.

Co-author Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said the recent rally in global dairy prices heralded further positives as global efforts to increase overall production would take time. . . 

A woman valued and connected within the dairy industry – Anne Boswell:

Anne Boswell talks to an Atiamuri dairy farmer who can’t sit still, busy with family, friends, land and organisations helping farming women succeed.

Connection – to one’s family, friends and like-minded people – is fundamental to personal wellbeing but can be challenging for farmers, says Atiamuri dairy farmer and Dairy Women’s Network trustee Karen Forlong.

“Fundamentally we are hard-wired to need to belong to something, to feel a connection to something over and above ‘I am what I work at’,” she says. 

“Farming’s a business, but it’s so much more than that, and equally, the success of my farm does not define me as a person.” . . 

Ryan looks forward to challenges:

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s new General Manager James Ryan is looking forward to the challenges the new job will bring.

Christchurch-based James Ryan, a former policy manager with DairyNZ, was appointed in October this year.  

He says the Trust will play a crucial role in guiding farmers through an era of increasingly complex sustainability issues. . . 

Fonterra & LIC Set to Release Farm Performance System – Agrigate:

Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are in the final stages of developing an online tool, Agrigate, designed specifically to help farmers improve their farm performance through the use of their existing data.

Agrigate has been developed by the two farmer-owned co-operatives to make it easier for farmers to:

• access key information about their farming business in one place

• identify areas where they can benchmark their performance on a scale that they have not been able to in the past

• make smarter and faster decisions

• manage their environmental information (e.g. nutrient management) . . 

NZ commodity prices rise for eighth month, buoyed by dairy recovery – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand commodity prices rose in December, the eighth consecutive monthly gain, as dairy prices continued to improve.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index advanced 0.7 percent in December to 277.3 and was up 16.5 percent on an annual basis. In New Zealand dollar terms the index increased 2 percent in the month and rose 9.4 percent on an annual basis as the kiwi eased against the greenback and the British pound.

Dairy was the standout performer as tight global milk supplies and improved Chinese import demand continued to be the main drivers, said ANZ agri economist Con Williams. . . .

Comvita expects to realise $30M from sale of Medihoney, shares in US partner – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey products company, has sold its Medihoney brand to US partner Derma Sciences for about $19 million, and will reap a further $11 million selling Derma shares in a takeover offer of the Nasdaq-listed company.

The gross proceeds of the Medihoney deal will amount to US$13.25 million, with a US$5 million earnout payable on sales milestones being achieved, Comvita said in a statement to the NZX. Comvita also owns 1.1 million shares in Derma Sciences, which announced on Jan. 10 that it will be acquired by Nasdaq-listed Integra LifeSciences for US$7 per share by the end of March. That values Comvita’s stake at about $11 million, it said. . . 

Fonterra extends sway over Aussie dairy industry with Bellamy’s ‘poison pill’ – Brian Robbins:

Fonterra is in the box seat to control the future of Australian company Bellamy’s Organic under an effective “poison pill” arrangement that can be triggered if a shareholder group controls more than 30 per cent of Bellamy’s capital.

The troubled infant formula group outlined details on Wednesday of a new arrangement with Fonterra that allows the New Zealand group to terminate a key supply deal if a shareholder group controls more than 30 per cent of the Tasmanian company’s capital.

The disclosure, along with news of the replacement of Laura McBain, the chief executive of Bellamy’s, by another senior executive, Andrew Cohen, on an interim basis, came as part of a trading update to investors. . . 

Tasmanian dairy company Bellamy’s CEO Laura McBain to leave after price plummet – Caitlin Jarvis:

Launceston-headquartered dairy company Bellamy’s has replaced chief executive Laura McBain.

The embattled baby formula company announced to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that Andrew Cohen has been appointed acting chief executive.

The announcement was made by the organic dairy company’s chairman Rob Woolley. . . 

Bid to heritage list Brumbies – John Ellicott:

Brumbies may be protected for their cultural heritage value in new legislation being drawn up and already, according to the proponents, met with approval by NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro.

With  the expected release soon of the new Wild Horse Management Plan, lobby groups are fighting to preserve substantial brumby populations in national parks, especially  in Kosciuszko National Park.

The Snowy Mountains Bush Users Group wants to prevent a culling of brumbies, which may form part of the new management plan – with ground shooting touted as the most likely form of control. . . 

North And South Island Wool Auctions Receive Varied Support:

New Zealand Wool Services International ltd’s CEO Mr John Dawson reports that the wool auctions in the North and South Islands this week produced considerable price variations for comparative types with the North Island levels well below the South’s.

Of the 19500 bales on offer, 7804 percent sold with the weighted currency indicator, compared to the last sale on 21st December was 1.62 percent higher, adding more downward pressure on local prices.

Mr Dawson advises that the South Island sale compared to when last sold on 15 December saw; . .. 

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Only a farm kid ‘gets’ this.


Rural round-up

December 19, 2016

Alliance develops super lamb – Jamie Gray:

Invercargill-based meat company Alliance Group has developed what it says is a new, tastier, class of lamb.

Alliance is part of the Omega Lamb Primary Growth Partnership – a group of 50 high country farmers and the Ministry for Primary industries – which was formed to come up with an improved product aimed at the premium end of the market.

The partnership aims to increase the total value of lamb and the share of value captured in New Zealand by building high quality, branded products.

Initial feedback from chefs and high end restaurants for the new class has so far been favourable, Mike Tate, general manager of the project, said. . . .

Tinwald bows out – Annette Scott:

The hub of Mid Canterbury’s livestock trading sold stock for the final time last Tuesday marking the end of a once-thriving sheep industry in the district.

As he opened the last-ever weekly sale PGG Wrighston Mid Canterbury livestock manager Greg Cook welcomed a large gathering of farmers, transport operators and drivers, former yardmen and past and present livestock agents.

“This a big turnout to acknowledge the history that goes with the end of an era for Tinwald,” Cook said.

The big yarding of more than 1500 prime sheep was a fitting farewell for 138 years of memories for the local farming community, he said. . .

Greaney at home as Tatum leader – Hugh Strigleman:

Brendhan Greaney feels right at home as the new chief executive of Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company and not just because he has served six years as operations general manager before his promotion.

He was born and raised three kilometres down State Highway 26 from Tatuanui, at Waitoa, where his father Claude was a site manager for New Zealand Dairy Group. . . 

Grass proves most profitable at research farm :

A grass-system dairy farm returned the best profit in the 2015-16 season compared to a cropping farm and a PKE supplement system in an ongoing trial in Northland.

The trial, on the Northland Agricultural Research Farm (NARF) is run by the Northland Dairy Development Trust (with NARF) and is funded by DairyNZ, MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund and Hine Rangi Trust.

Farm working expenses per kg of milk solids were $3.59, $4.20 and $4.01, respectively, for the grass-only, cropping and PKE farms, says Chris Boom, AgFirst Northland, and Kate Reed, NARF farm manager, speaking at a field day this month. . . 

Last bid at world shearing record – Yvonne O’Hara:

Attempting a world shearing record over eight hours is similar to running two marathons, Roxburgh shearer Eru Weeds says.
However, regardless of whether he and his team-mates succeed or fail in the attempt, it will be the last time he attempts such a challenge.

Along with fellow shearers James Mack, of Dannevirke, and Luke Mullins, of Taihape, Mr Weeds, who is in Hawke’s Bay working, will attempt to set a world record for shearing ewes over eight hours on January 17 at Waitara Station near Napier.

He said the record was 1349. . . 

Theft of stock alleged  – Simon Hartley:

Allegations of widespread stock theft across the lower South Island have rocked Otago’s farming community, which collectively could be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Whether the allegations could be defined as poaching, theft or fraud is as yet unclear.

While the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is potentially looking at a wider alleged-fraud operation, police are only dealing with reports of individual cases of theft.

However, shell companies may have been used and there are claims farmers across Otago, and further afield, could collectively be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket, with hundreds of cattle stolen. . . 

 


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