Rural round-up

11/10/2021

Pomahaka river project hits half-way mark – Neal Wallace,

A three-year project to plant 230,000 native trees and shrubs and build 100km of riparian fencing on Otago’s Pomahaka River, is officially halfway completed.

The milestone for the Pomahaka Watercare Corridor Planting Project was marked with a function at the Leithen Picnic Area this week.

The $3.7 million project between the Primary Growth Fund, One Billion Trees Fund, 105 local farmers and the Pomahaka Water Care Group is designed to protect the Pomahaka River and its tributaries and offer employment opportunities post-covid-19. . . 

Farmers urged to have a Covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy farmers have been told to make an on-farm plan in case themselves or one of their staff tests positive for covid-19.

That plan had to be easily accessible and documented and communicated to all staff members, DairyNZ covid project manager Hamish Hodgson said in a webinar.

This plan was crucial for the farmer to be ready for covid.

He said he knew of one farmer organising campervans to be brought on-farm if they needed to be able to isolate people. . .

New Johne’s test based on Covid technology :

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd.

Johne’s disease is a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

It is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss.

Herd improvement co-operative LIC has developed a new test which detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater. . .

Hemp industry builds infrastructure to secure its future – Country Life:

New Zealand’s largest hemp grower says farmers around the country want to start growing hemp but, before more come on board, markets need to be developed and infrastructure secured.

Hemp New Zealand’s Dave Jordan says it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

“There are a lot of ideas around and it’s all very well to have the ideas but you have got to actually have action on the ground and show people the benefit of it (hemp) and get customers to buy it.”

The company is working with 100 growers who grow 1000 hectares of hemp.

NZ shearer with 100 wins to pick up clippers again this year – Sally Murphy:

A farmer who was first in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals isn’t ready to stop competing just yet.

Tony Dobbs from Fairlie won his 100th title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last year and considered retiring after being diagnosed with cancer.

This year’s Waimate Shears starts today with some of the country’s top shearers and wool handlers going head to head.

Dobbs was set down to judge the competition so thought he might as well compete too. . . 

On-farm quarantine the next step for ag workers – James Jackson:

After years of drought, farmers are finally facing an opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work as bumper crops loom on the horizon. But labour shortages remain a significant and stubborn hurdle to reaching record-breaking harvests, and primary producers cannot afford to wait for the state to reopen to muster enough workers in time for their summer harvests.

NSW Farmers has joined forces with the National Farmers Federation to call for an immediate solution to get more workers to farms as quickly as possible. We propose a limited pilot of on-farm quarantine for 200 agricultural workers from low-risk countries, commencing when 70 per cent of adults in NSW are fully vaccinated.

A transition to on-farm quarantine arrangements in NSW as vaccination rates rise would alleviate a number of challenges the agriculture sector has faced in the hotel-quarantine model. The availability of hotel quarantine places in NSW is limited and further constrained by Sydney’s disproportionately high intake of returning residents, increasing the likelihood agricultural workers will miss out on a place. . . 


Rural round-up

09/10/2021

Gas profiles on target – Richard Rennie:

The pastoral sector is doubling down on its efforts to measure and price its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission as an alternative to becoming captured under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

He Waka Eke Noa, the primary sector’s climate action partnership is working to implement a pricing and allocation scheme specifically for the primary sector’s emissions that keep it separate from the ETS.

One requirement the Government placed upon the industry was that 25% of all farms must know their annual on-farm GHG emissions by the end of this year, and 100% by the end of 2022.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says the dairy sector has calculated the GHG profiles of 91% of the country’s dairy farms, largely in part to the efforts of Fonterra in recording farmer suppliers’ emissions. . . 

Cruel April Fool’s joke! – Mark Daniel:

In an ironic twist, the Government has pushed back the date of its so-called ‘ute tax’ or feebate scheme to April 1 next year – April Fools’ Day!

The delay – from the original January 1 date – was announced by Minister of Transport Michael Wood. “The rollout has been delayed because of the disruption caused by the current Delta outbreak,” he claims.

This is despite the unworkability of the scheme that has been identified by the motor industry and users like farmers and tradies.

Many in the vehicle sector also point out that Delta is actually the reason for increased production costs, monumental rises in shipping costs and long delays in product landing in New Zealand. . . 

Event winners world class

It was a fierce battle on the board between the wool industry’s elite shearers and woolhandlers in Alexandra at the weekend.

The 60th New Zealand Merino Shears were held at a near-empty Molyneux Stadium in compliance with Covid-19 Level 2 guidelines.

More than 70 woolhandlers and 65 shearers took part, and in the end it was two former world champions walking away with the major titles.

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford claimed the NZ Merino Open shearing title for the fifth time, beating runner-up Ringakaha Paewai. . . 

Cold August weather sees NZ milk production fall :

Cool, wet weather is being blamed on a 4.2% fall in milksolids production during August, Fonterra’s latest Global Dairy Update says.

Following a good start to the season, pasture conditions were impacted as a result of colder and wetter weather in August compared to a milder August last year. New Zealand milk production for the 12 months to August was 2.4% lower than last year.

The co-operative’s milk collection for August was 96.7 million kg MS, 4% lower than the same month last season and its season-to-date collection was 130.9m kg MS, 2.8% behind last season.

The colder month affected collections across both North and South Islands. Its North Island milk collection was 71.8m kg MS, 2.3% lower than August last season and its season-to-date collection was 101.7m kg MS, 0.1% ahead of last season. . . 

Much experience packed into 100 years – Sandy Eggleston:

From the farm to Karitane nursing to working in Harrods in London to back on the farm, Eleanor Logan has packed many interesting experiences into a century of living.

The Resthaven Care Home resident celebrates her 100th birthday in Gore today.

Mrs Logan (nee Galt) said she grew up on a farm at Tuturau.

Life on the farm was busy with children helping out before and after school. . .

Agritourism’s ‘no vaccine, no entry’ – Annabelle Cleeland:

Tourism industry providers across regional Victoria are preparing for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations to be a key feature of their industry going forward.

The ‘no vaccine, no entry’ is the position of Donovan and Melissa Jacka of Tolpuddle Goat Cheese and Farm Foods, near Wangaratta, as they prepare to introduce a vaccine passport system when they re-open to tourists in November.

In a post on Facebook and Instagram, the Jackas wrote when they re-opened, visitors to Tolpuddle must be fully vaccinated (if they were eligible and can be vaccinated).

“The idea that a person has the right to choose not to be vaccinated, thereby jeopardising the health of someone who cannot be vaccinated, is deeply offensive,” the post stated. . . 


Rural round-up

18/09/2021

Group gets go-ahead to buy Catlins station for forestry – Sally Rae:

Ingka Group — one of 12 different groups of companies that own Swedish furniture and homeware giant IKEA — has got the green light to buy a 5500ha sheep and beef station in the Catlins for forestry development.

Following recent approval by the Overseas Investment Office, an area of 330ha at Wisp Hill , in the Owaka Valley, would soon be planted with radiata pine seedlings

The long-term plan was to have a total of 3000ha — more than three million seedlings — planted in the next five years and the remaining 2200ha would ‘‘naturally regenerate into native bush’’, a statement from the company said.

Ingka Group owns about 248,000ha of forestry in the United States, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. Between September 2019 and August 2020, Ingka Group planted close to seven million seedlings. . . 

The yo-yoing fortunes of the darling of the stock market – The Detail:

It used to be the darling of the share market, racing from 75 cents before sales of its infant milk powder took off, peaking at more than $21 last year.

But the a2 Milk Company’s meteoric rise is now tumbling, struck by complications by Covid.

Today on The Detail Emile Donovan talks to Sam Dickie, a senior portfolio manager at Fisher Funds, to talk about the company’s roller coaster ride, and how one of its greatest strengths – its unusual distribution channel – has become its greatest weakness.

Between 2017 and 2020, a2 Milk’s share price rose more than 900 percent. But over the past 13 months it has fallen by nearly 75 percent. . . 

Unhappy farmers are missing an important point – policy changes are what customers want to see – Craig Hickman:

It is much easier to say no to new ideas and just accept the status quo than it is to embrace change. Change can be scary.

Fonterra changed, it became more honest and transparent in its communication with farmers, and completely transformed the way it deals with the Government. It became better at articulating what it wants from suppliers.

Plenty of farmers don’t like this change, this new collaborative approach, and four years on they are still muttering that the dairy co-op is cosying up to the enemy.

Slowly but surely, with the odd hiccup along the way, farmer advocacy groups like Beef & Lamb, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers have adopted the same approach and given the same reasoning; it’s much more fruitful to work collaboratively with whoever is in power than to shout impotently from the sidelines. . . 

Young Farmer of the Year winners on the wealth of opportunities in ag :

On August 22, 1969, Gary Frazer from Swannanoa was crowned the inaugural Young Farmer of the Year, the same year that the first Fieldays event was launched at Te Rapa Racecourse.

Over 50 years later, the competition still stands as a staple event in the rural calendar and an opportunity for rural youth to come together and showcase their skills, knowledge, and stamina. The current and past Young Farmer of the Year, Jake Jarman and James Robertson, are young agri professionals trailblazing through the primary sector in their respective fields.

Jake Jarman gained the title, 53rd Young Farmer of the Year In July. A couple months later, Jake says the excitement surrounding his win has settled now, and he’s getting back to his normal routine, working as a Relationship Associate at ANZ in Ashburton.

“It was definitely a rollercoaster afterwards with lots of celebratory messages, interviews, emails, and what not, so now things have settled down I’ve got my life back a bit!” . .

OFI to build Tokoroa dairy plant for desserts, beverages, baked goods :

An overseas food ingredients company is planning to build a dairy processing plant in Tokoroa in south Waikato.

Singapore-based Olam Foods International (OFI) said the plant would create 50 to 60 full time jobs when fully operational.

OFI expected the first stage of the new investment would be completed in the Spring of 2023. This would involve the construction of a spray dryer facility, capable of producing high-value dairy ingredient products.

OFI has dairy operations in Russia, Uruguay and Malaysia and also grows and sources cocoa, coffee, nuts and spices from other countries. . . 

Commission releases final report on its review of Fonterra’s base milk price :

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price it will pay farmers in the 2020/21 dairy season.

The Commission found that Fonterra’s forecast price of $7.45 – $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids for the season is calculated in a way that is likely to be consistent with the requirements of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The key areas of the Commission’s focus in this year’s review were two components of the cost of capital (the asset beta and specific risk premium), the appropriateness of provisions for asset stranding, and the inclusion of instantised milk powder as a reference product in the calculation of the base milk price. . . 


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

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


Rural round-up

15/08/2021

Farmer who supplies neighbours’ water says he’ll stop if forced to register  – Bonnie Flaws:

Tararua farmer Roger Barton​ supplies his lifestyle block neighbours with water when their rainwater tanks run low. He says it’s “neighbours being neighbours” and he doesn’t charge them.

“They’ve got two tanks and they manage that carefully and are generally fine. But if things get tight they run a hose pipe from our system overnight and over four or five nights the tank gets filled. They don’t have to get the water truck out.”

The water comes from a creek at the fringe of the Tararua ranges. Barton does not treat his water, but uses a filter. His neighbours had an ultraviolet treatment system because they were reliant on rainwater, and this would also treat Barton’s water.

“I think that is fine, sane and sensible. Why I should have to treat it before they receive it I do not know.” . .

200 exemptions for dairy workers took at best – Jason Herrick:

I have been working behind the scenes and in the media around staff shortages and reuniting families of our migrant staff in my sector.

I do this because I see it as part of my responsibility I choose to take on as sharemilker Chair for Southland Federated Farmers,  trying to get the government to see sense and allow staff to come to NZ to fill much-needed roles.

Alongside heaps of others, the government said yes to was the 200 exemptions for dairy workers and their families, I see this as token at best, a gesture to keep us quiet – because they put conditions on the exemptions that have kept the likes of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and MPI busy to negotiate better conditions. . .

Groundswell NZ presents petition on ‘unworkable’ regulations to parliament – Laura Hooper:

A Groundswell NZ co-founder has presented the group’s petition against what it calls “unworkable regulations’’ for farmers to the Government.

Last month, Groundswell NZ took to the streets alongside thousands of supporters in around 50 towns across New Zealand to protest against regulations, including compulsory sowing dates, winter grazing rules and the “ute tax”.

On Thursday, group co-founder Laurence Paterson and Rural Advocacy Network chairman Jamie McFadden presented a petition, calling for a review of some regulations, to the Environment select committee.

The petition originally began to call for a review of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which the group says applies a “one-size-fits-all” approach on sowing dates, winter grazing and best catchment practises. . .

 

Push for govt  incentives to producebio-fuel from local forestry waste – Jonathan Milne:

Warnings that existing ethanol-blended biofuels can’t be used in most storage tanks and pipelines – so new Sustainable Biofuel Mandate will come at a cost.

The clock is ticking at Marsden Point oil refinery. Chief executive Naomi James says they have mere months to reach agreement on converting the refinery to a biofuels production facility, for local forestry waste, before they are forced to begin laying off staff and decommissioning plant.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has expressed interest in the potential to convert the refinery to biofuel production, and James confirms they are in talks with government. But they need quick decisions because once they lose skilled engineers, they won’t be coming back; once they decommission big plant like the hydro-treater unit, there is no turning back.

James confirmed that in its submission on the planned Sustainable Biofuel Mandate, Refining NZ is arguing for government incentives for domestic biofuel production, like grants or Emissions Trading Scheme exemptions. . .

KiwiSaver provider Booster invests over $10m into avocado grower Darling Group – Tamsyn Parker:

The private equity investment arm of KiwiSaver provider Booster has invested more than $10 million into buying a 42 per cent stake in Katikati-based avocado grower and exporter Darling Group.

Booster, which has around $3 billion invested in its KiwiSaver scheme and is the 10th largest provider, is one of the few KiwiSaver schemes which invests in unlisted private companies through its Tahi LP fund.

Private company investment offers the potential for higher returns but are also a less liquid investment as their shares are not traded on a public market making it harder to sell out quickly.

Tahi already owns a number of wineries, as well as having stakes in Sunchaser Avocados, Dodson Motorsport and financial services company Lifetime. . . 

Livestock farm working dogs in Australia and New Zealand tested in Cobber Challenge – Chris McLennan and Daina Oliver:

The endurance athletes of Australia’s sprawling livestock farms are battling it out to claim the title of 2021 champion working dog.

Over three weeks, 12 loyal canines will run hundreds of kilometres in the course of their daily jobs herding sheep and cattle.

The Cobber Challenge celebrates and tests the endurance of working dogs and this year, for the first time, the Australians will be pitted against competitors working across the Tasman.

GPS collars will track their distance, working duration and speed over 21 days from Monday, August 16 and points will be awarded based on daily activity. . .


Rural round-up

26/06/2021

Farmer lobby groups defend teaching resource on climate change – Catherine Harris and Kate Green:

A teaching resource on climate change produced by meat and dairy interests is being criticised as targetting schools with a one-sided view on farm emissions.

The information focuses on the “important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population”.

Co-authored by Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, it explores “the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system”. . . 

Growing farming wellbeing awareness :

Working in the agri-nutrient sector, Calvin Ball says he has seen a significant change in farmers’ attitudes to health and safety in recent years.

Ball, the Northern 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, grew up on a Northland dairy farm, studied agriscience at Massey and began his career with an agri-nutrient company in 2013. After his OE in London, he returned to the company and is now Northern North Island regional sales manager, heading a team of nutrient specialists.

“Going out on farms, I have seen farmers’ attitudes change significantly since 2013,” Ball said.

“Back then, many could be pretty dismissive in their response to conversations about health and safety, but now they are much more on board with the requirements and attitudes are very different.” . .

Being green and profitable – Peter Burke:

A major, three-year research project is underway in Taranaki to see what can be done to practically reduce the environmental footprint of dairy farmers and, above all, ensure that farms remain profitable. Reporter Peter Burke looks at the initiative and how it’s progressing.

The project is led by Dairy Trust Taranaki in conjunction with Mark Laurence – DairyNZ’s regional leader in the province.

He heard about the trust working on a project called ‘Future Farming’, which was designed to see what farming might look like in the future with greenhouse gas and nitrate restrictions, as well as new animal welfare requirements, and still be profitable. . .

Icebreaker chief makes switch to carpet and wool company Cavalier :

The former chief executive of merino clothing company Icebreaker is heading to the strong wool sector.

Greg Smith will take up a new role as chief executive of the New Zealand carpet and wool company Cavalier in July.

The listed company last year announced it would stop producing synthetic carpets and would shift to wool-only.

Cavalier chair George Adams said Smith had extensive international business experience, running iconic New Zealand companies and helping them to scale on the world stage. . .

Focus turned to non-mānuka honeys at beekeepers’ conference :

Beekeepers from around the country have gathered in Rotorua to discuss challenges facing the industry.

The annual Apiculture Conference is being held over the next three days and is expected to attract about 900 people from the sector.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said one topic of discussion would be finding ways to add value for non-mānuka varieties – to solve the issue of low prices and an oversupply.

“The mānuka story has been very, very successful and has been a great platform to leverage New Zealand honey on the global market and what we’re saying is, it’s time for the other honeys to shine as well. . .

Defra unveils new green fund for farmers in National Parks:

Farmers in National Parks will receive more funding to help them make improvements to the environment, the government has today confirmed.

Land managers based in England’s National Parks or AONBs will also be able to use the funds to improve public access on their land.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers based in these areas.

The government, announcing the programme on Thursday (24 June), encouraged those interested to apply from 1 July. . . 


Rural round-up

21/06/2021

Changing look for NZ lamb? – Nigel Malthus:

New Zealand meat producers will have to change their breeding priorities to take a full advantage of a new optical meat quality monitoring system being developed by AgResearch.

Clarospec system is designed to analyse meat cuts in real time as they go through a meat processing plant, using hyperspectral imaging to provide objective measures of meat quality.

AgResearch says the technology can provide information on key aspects such as structure and composition that influence flavour and texture.

“This technology will support a shift from volume to value and allow lamb producers to tailor production to meet the needs of global consumers,” project leader, Dr Cameron Craigie told Rural News. . .

Falling harvests nip NZ wine’s worldwide growth in the bud – Bevan Hurley:

New Zealand’s winemakers have enjoyed a $1.9 billion bumper year on the export markets, but now it’s the end of the golden weather.

At Trader Joe’s flagship wine store in New York’s Union Square, queues of shoppers stretched along East 14th St during the early months of 2021.

With restaurants closed to indoor dining, Manhattanites would often wait 30 minutes in the sub-zero temperatures during the depth of the Covid winter, eager to restock their depleted wine racks.

Once inside, the popular US supermarket chain’s chatty, knowledgeable staff were happy to share their thoughts on the Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blancs displayed prominently on their shelves. . . 

Rising Star: Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Quinn Morgan

Quinn Morgan laughs when you ask if he always wanted to be a dairy farmer as a kid.

“Growing up I was more in love with my Playstation. My stepdad was a dairy farmer for a few seasons but I was more a city-slicker type kid, rather than going out there and doing everything,” he told Country Life.

But after just one season as a dairy farmer, Quinn has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award. Just as impressive; he’s only 26. . . 

Luxury eco-holiday in a dome at Lake Hawea, Wanaka – Isabel Ewing:

Jet boating, heli-skiing, skydiving, bungee – much of the tourism in the Southern Lakes region revolves around speed and adrenaline, but a family-owned business on the shores of Lake Hawea is all about allowing their visitors to slow down.

“People who come here live such busy lives, and it’s about getting them to unwind and just relax,” says Richard Burdon, owner of The Camp and Cross Hill Lodge & Domes.

“A lot of the American clients have pot plants on top of their ovens, and they don’t find that family time to slow down.”

Burdon and wife Sarah have owned the lakeside campground for 10 years, and they’re also third-generation owners of Glen Dene and Mt Isthmus Station, a working farm set in the jagged country framed by lakes Hawea and Wanaka. . . 

Time and place:

Working in a rural but desk-based role has really made Waikato/Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year Kieran McCahon reflect on the very different health and safety challenges of being “hands-on on farm”. 

McCahon grew up on his family’s 1000-cow dairy farm on Northland’s Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville.

He gained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Master of Management, majoring in Agribusiness, as a DairyNZ scholar, and joined DairyNZ full-time 18 months ago as a solutions and development specialist.

“I recently moved back to Northland to continue my role with DairyNZ, which also means getting more time on the farm,” McCahon said. . . 

Can dairy be sustainable? Yes and here’s why :

Frank Konyn figures there are about 150 breweries within a reasonable drive from his dairy farm in the County of San Diego, Calif.

He frequents 19 of them but it has nothing to do with grabbing a cold one after a long day of milking cows. Instead, he makes weekly stops to pick up something the brewers no longer want: spent grains that remain from creating some of the area’s trendiest microbrews.

On an average week, Konyn collects about 225 tons of the grain that serves as protein-rich feed for his nearly 900 milking cows. He has plenty left over for a nearby dairy farmer’s herd.

Konyn began hauling the unwanted byproduct in 2009 with a pickup truck. Today, he owns five semi-trucks and 40 “roll-off” containers that are 18 feet long and are left at each brewery to be filled. . . .


Rural round-up

18/06/2021

Calls for MP acknowledgement of farmers :

The co-owner of a major farm machinery business wants more rural sector acknowledgement from MPs.

A record number of Labour MPs will be at Fieldays 2021.

Power Farming’s Brett Maber says farmers often get a bad rap – but they’ve had a good season, especially given the past year. . .

Feds applauds UK-Australia free trade deal:

News that Australia and the UK have signed a free trade agreement is a promising step forward in the fight against tariffs and protectionism, Federated Farmers says.

“It reinforces the international rules-based trading framework and is important for rural producers and global consumers,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard says.

The FTA is the first to be signed by the UK since it left the European Union. . .

Education resource highlights NZ dairy and red meat’s role in feeding global population:

A new climate change education resource has been released by New Zealand’s pastoral farming sector.

The resource, ‘The important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population’, has been co-authored by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

It explores the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system. Written in a straight-forward and science-based style, it will provide secondary school students, in particular, with balanced information.

As a producer of food for around 10 times its own population, New Zealand has a unique emissions profile and consequently has a unique challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Utes big ticket items at Fieldays

Thousands of farmers flocked to the first day of Fieldays today, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of Covid-19, so expectations were high for the more than 1000 exhibitors who were back to put their wares on display.

The last time the event was held at Mystery Creek, near Kirikiriroa-Hamilton in 2019, it generated $500 million in sales for New Zealand businesses.

Some of the big ticket items are utes and, with the recent EV policy announcement, farmers are expecting to soon pay fees when they buy fossil fuel vehicles for their farms. . . 

Primary industries outlook predicts export rebound after 1.1% fall :

The food and fibre sector is expecting a 1.1 percent drop in export revenue due to covid related issues, but is expected to bounce back.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ outlook for primary industries (SOPI) report was released at Fieldays this morning.

Exports amounted to over $47 billion and the forecast for the year ending June 2022 was for exports to reach a record $49.1 billion – a 3.4 percent increase on the year just ending.

Sustained growth is forecast year on year, hitting a further record of $53.1 billion for the year to June 202-5. . . 

Vodafone and Farmside supporting rural New Zealanders with new connectivity options:

As Fieldays gets started, Vodafone is proud to offer rural Aotearoa new connectivity options including trialling a RBI2 Unlimited Broadband service for people who live in the second Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) area.

This comes as Vodafone ramps up network investments to expand its regional coverage footprint around Aotearoa, and as part of the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) to build more cell towers in rural New Zealand under the RBI2 program.

This three-month RBI2 Unlimited Broadband trial sees Farmside, Vodafone’s rural broadband specialist, offer unlimited wireless broadband* for $79.99 a month to households within the geographical RBI2 area, with the trial also open to wireless internet service providers (WISPs) as part of Vodafone’s wholesale agreements. . . 


Will they listen?

17/06/2021

An astonishing 26 Labour MPs are descending on the Fieldays.

If they are there to talk at farmers and the business people who service and support them, they would be better staying away.

If they are there to listen they must be prepared to hear a lot they won’t like because there’s so much government policy that farmers and farming businesses don’t like.

I haven’t experienced this level of rural angst since the ag-sag of the 80s when farmers were kicked into the real world without subsidies.

In North Otago that coincided with recreated droughts, stock prices plummeted, land prices followed and a lot of us went from reasonable equity to owing more than the value of what we owned.

There was security in numbers. A relatively few were pushed out but banks and stock firms knew that forcing too many sales would only compound problems and left most of us to farm our way out of the mire.

I don’t know any farmer who wants subsidies back and now prices for most primary produce are at levels all but the most pessimistic are happy with, the rural mood ought to be rosey.

But it’s not.

The appreciation of farmers for keeping the export income flowing when so much of the rest of the country was locked down has evaporated.

KPMG’s head of global agribusiness Ian Proudfoot explains:

. . .There was an underlining theme of low morale and fatigue among those surveyed, caused by labour shortages and shipping delays, he said.

“We expected with prices being high, dairy prices being high, kiwifruit returns higher than they’ve been, excellent red meat returns, that we were going to be walking into an industry that would still have quite a lot of that glow of last year, of the essential food producer.

“But the reality is, I think this has been an incredible hard year on people, on our executive teams, on our leaders, and it’s taken a toll.”

The industry was focused on its day-to-day challenges, instead of making the most of a “global food renaissance” emerging rapidly around the world, Proudfoot said.

Too many of those challenges are being caused and made more difficult by government policy.

As DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said:

. . .I don’t know who’s making these calls but I have to say, if you’ve got middle level bureaucrats sitting at their desk in Wellington, they do need to remember that their decisions will affect real people.

“From the limited information I’ve seen, it is difficult to draw conclusions as to the logic behind the decisions that were made last year on who gets [exemptions] and who doesn’t. . .

He was referring to immigration decisions. It also applies to a lot of other decisions being made by people in Wellington that results in policy that is impractical and will impact badly on real people, making business, and life, harder for farmers.

They also don’t appear to understand that all these decisions which are already impacting on both morale and production will sooner or later impact on prices for consumers and on export income.

If all these MPs descending on Fieldays want to show they understand they need to listen to the people they meet and be prepared to act on what they hear.


Rural round-up

14/06/2021

Dairy herd monitoring tech set to launch – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-created technology, designed to provide farmers with an “intelligent eye” over the health of their herds, will be launched at Fieldays at Mystery Creek next week.

Iris Data Science, which also created the world’s first sheep facial recognition system, is piloting the technology on five dairy farms in the lower South Island and hopes to extend to about 50, allowing it to develop it further.

The automated on-farm monitoring system, powered by artificial intelligence software, allows for early detection of conditions such as lameness, an issue which costs the dairy industry millions of dollars.

It uses a non-intrusive on-farm camera and monitoring system that collects tens of thousands of data points from every cow, every day, to provide an “intelligent eye” over livestock. . . 

Knees sore, head hurts – Pita Alexander:

The knees are sore, the back hurts and the tractor is noisy. Worse, the cash has gone and the only thing working well is the national superannuation.

Maybe it’s time to look at hanging up the farm boots.

If this is you, then don’t make any rash decisions. Firstly, you need to lead from the front and not get pushed too much from behind or from the side. Leading involves good thinking, planning, decision making, timing and cash. Being pushed from behind involves resistance, frustration and confrontation. Make sure you are on the right end of all of this as nothing well planned tends to happen overnight.

Your son – let’s call him Johnny – has been with you for 10 years and has been very supportive. Johnny’s wife likes shopping but this is his problem, not yours. Johnny has a 20 per cent share of the farm assets – that means land, stock, plant and debt – and is capable of managing the property’s sheep, cattle, vehicles and plant. Johnny works a lot harder than you, but plays a lot harder as well. You do though notice some of your own bad traits showing up in Johnny such as swearing at the wrong dog, being influenced by the tractor colour and feeling that the high overdraft is the bank’s problem. . . 

Good Bosses in action: Peter & Vicki Risi:

Waikato dairy farm owners Peter & Vicki Risi are nailing it at being good bosses, and their team approach has continued paying off despite the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Being a good boss makes perfect sense for our business and our team’s wellbeing. We milk 720 cows, employ four permanent staff, and are proud that our farm supports a good lifestyle for five families, including our own. Being a good boss means communicating well and holding on to valued staff.

The Risis say that in any business, the people you employ and work with are one of your biggest assets, so it’s important to value them because they can make or break your business. “We are very lucky to have this group of guys working for us.” Says Vicki.

Every morning the Risi farm team sits down to breakfast to plan the day. During the COVID-19 lockdown, breakfasts were on hold, and with them the accompanying banter – something everyone missed. . .

New ‘robust’ blueberry varieties available to New Zealand growers:

Eleven new blueberry varieties are being made available to New Zealand growers, with the aim of increasing export opportunities.

The crown research institute, Plant and Food Research, has licensed the new offerings, which it said produced larger fruit with good flavour and had been adapted to grow in a wider range of climates.

Plant varieties manager Emma Brown said the new varieties were more robust, which made them better suited for international freight.

“There’s a range of new genetics, with improved characteristics and a range of adaptability for growing regions across New Zealand,” Brown said. . . 

Vintage 2021: smaller harvest of superb quality:

Although the harvest was smaller than hoped for, the quality of the 2021 vintage is being described as exceptional throughout New Zealand’s wine regions.

There were 370,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during the 2021 vintage, down 19% on last year’s crop. Regions throughout the middle of the country – including Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, and North Canterbury – were impacted the most, down over 20% on 2020. However, there was some variability across different parts of the country, with Central Otago the one region to increase its crop, up 21% on last year’s harvest.

“While the quality is exceptional, the overall smaller harvest means many of our wineries will face tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets. There is going to be some supply and demand tension because of this, with the shortfall in the crop equivalent to roughly 7 million 9 litre cases of New Zealand wine,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Dairy producer shares passion for industry with consumers – Amie Simpson :

Indiana dairy producer Jill Houin has a passion for teaching consumers about the dairy industry and the farmers caring for the animals.

“I absolutely am humbled to be able to share that story from our farm to teach people about the dairy farm families that are out there,” she says. “It’s amazing what they do, how they recycle, how they reuse, and I think it’s very important.”

A New Jersey native, Houin was new to the industry when she married an Indiana dairy farmer in 2004. She retired from teaching in 2016 and became calf manager of the family’s operation, Homestead Dairy.

“I had no idea before I married into it that dairy farming is not a job, it’s a passion, it’s a lifestyle, and they live every moment for the cows, the land, and to produce nutritious milk,” she says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/06/2021

Feds says we’ll need more people, more money to take on climate challenges:

Federated Farmers believes the final Climate Change Commission report released today will need to be backed up with significant investment in improving access to science and technology on farm, and the people needed to operate it.

Back in February Feds was relatively upbeat about the report and the challenges it posed for New Zealanders, and their government. But there were areas where Feds felt the analysis and the science was not reliable.

As was said back in February, Feds is wary of any policy direction which assumes tougher regulation will force behaviour change.

“To expect landowners to make land use changes based on the weight of regulation they face, rather than market forces, is unreliable and unlikely to deliver lasting improvements,” Andrew says. . .

Commission advice remain a big ask for farmers :

The Independent Climate Change Commission’s final advice to Government has kept the 2030 methane reduction target at 10 percent, but the job ahead remains a big ask for dairy farmers, according to DairyNZ.

“It is now up to the Government to deliver a credible emissions reduction plan for New Zealand – and the investment in tools and support required to achieve it,” said DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

“A 10 percent reduction for biogenic methane will be incredibly challenging for farmers, but we are committed to playing our part and reducing emissions alongside the rest of the economy.

“We are pleased the goalposts haven’t shifted from the Zero Carbon Act and farmers now have certainty they need to make long-term investment decisions. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand backs Climate Change Commission’s strengthened advice to reduce reliance on carbon farming:

The Climate Change Commission’s advice that New Zealand must cut gross carbon dioxide emissions is encouraging, but still far too many exotic trees are forecast to be planted on productive farmland, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“While we still need to carefully read 400-odd pages of the final advice, we support the Commission telling the Government that New Zealand must reduce its reliance on forestry offsets, in particular from pinus radiata,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“However, the recommended levels of carbon removed by trees is still too high and will lead to swathes of New Zealand sheep and beef farmland being converted to pine trees.

“This will have significant negative impacts for sheep and beef farming and rural communities with knock-on effects for every New Zealand household. . .

A million cows to be slaughtered for what gain?

The Climate Commission’s recommendations that stock number need to be slashed means a million cows will be slaughtered”, said Owen Jennings, Manager of F.A.R.M. – Facts About Ruminant Methane.

“No amount of fancy words and promises hides the grim reality that of the 6.2 million cows currently producing the country’s wealth a million will end up butchered. In fact the Commission and now the Government admit it may be more”.

“F.A.R.M challenges Rod Carr or Minister Shaw to state how much warming will be slowed or stopped by this dastardly move. The cold reality is that they can only truthfully answer ‘none’. . . 

Horticulre’s potential to help New Zealand respond to climate change recognised:

Horticulture New Zealand is pleased that the Climate Change Commission has recognised that land use change to horticulture can help New Zealand respond to climate change, while at the same time providing people with fresh, healthy food.

‘We’re pleased that in its final report to the Government, the Climate Change Commission has increased its estimate of how much land could be converted to horticulture, from 2000 hectares a year to 3500 hectares a year,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘If horticultural can expand more, it will reduce some of the emission reductions required by other parts of the primary sector, and also reduce reliance on forestry offset, which the report acknowledges, ultimately passes the responsibility for achieving reductions to future generations.

‘The report recognises that in order for horticulture to achieve its full potential, investment will be needed to remove barriers such as water availability and access to labour.’ . . 

ExportNZ calls for least cost, high emissions reduction, not high cost:

Catherine Beard, Executive Director of ExportNZ says ExportNZ fully supports New Zealand reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, but emphasises this needs to be an affordable journey to ensure our manufacturers, food producers and exporters maintain their competitiveness internationally.

“New Zealand needs to transition to a low carbon emissions future along with the rest of the world and we already have a great advantage with our high percentage of renewable electricity.

“ExportNZ supports the use of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to cap emissions, allowing trading to find the least cost emission reduction.

“Changes already made to the ETS will ensure the price of units will steadily increase and that free allocations to emission intensive trade exposed businesses will reduce. This will send a price signal to energy users to increase efficiency, lower emissions and offset the ones that are too expensive to reduce until the low emissions technology is available. . . 


Rural round-up

08/06/2021

Big rain, big pain, big cost – Canterbury’s week of flooding devastation – Martin van Beynen:

An intensively farmed region of Canterbury lying between the north branch of the Ashburton/Hakatere and Hinds rivers was one of the hardest-hit by this week’s floods. Reporter MARTIN VAN BEYNEN spent four days in the area assessing the impact.

Farmers in Mid-Canterbury knew it would be bad.

When the MetService issued a red alert for the Canterbury region on Friday, May 28, they prepared for some sleepless nights and a rough weekend.

The MetService warned that 200-300 millimetres of rain was expected to “accumulate” about the high country between 3pm on Saturday and 11am on Monday. The rain would cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, the agency said. . . 

Flood took my farm – Annette Scott:

The storm has eased and the carnage is emerging on Darryl Butterick’s flood-stricken Ashburton Forks property.

Farming deer, sheep and beef across two separate properties between the North and South branches of the Ashburton River, Butterick was smack bang in the middle, copping the breakout of both rivers.

“We got it right up the ass, that’s for sure,” Butterick said.

Two-thirds of his deer farm, carrying 500 hinds and sire stags, was under water. . . 

Farming leaders focus on Canty clean-up – Neal Wallace:

Offers of help are coming thick and fast for Canterbury flood victims, but farming leaders say they are still trying to collate exactly what is needed and where.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Caroline Amyes says much activity is happening behind the scenes.

“We are all working in the background to collaborate and to have a unified approach,” Amyes said.

The groups coordinating the response include Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trust, rural advisers, Civil Defence, Ministry of Primary Industries, the feed source hotline, Environment Canterbury, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

Amyes says the Rural Support Trust is collating needs and the Government’s $500,000 grant has enabled a co-ordinator to be employed to match offers with need and arrange logistics. . . 

Northland SNA plan: Kāeo residents up in arms at packed public meeting – Peter de Graaf:

A plan to designate more than 40 per cent of the Far North as Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) is a big disincentive to people who already look after their land, speaker after speaker told a packed public meeting in Kāeo.

More than 200 people turned out on Thursday evening to share their concerns about a proposed expansion of the district’s SNAs, a day after close to 500 people attended a similar meeting in Kawakawa.

Many of those at the Kāeo meeting said they already protected native bush by planting, pest control and fencing — but the SNA plan, which could limit use of their properties, had given them second thoughts.

Ahipara’s Danny Simms said he loved his land and didn’t need anyone to tell him to look after it. . . 

Global food prices rise at rapid rate in May:

Global food prices rose at their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade in May, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has reported.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 127.1 points in May, 4.8% higher than in April and 39.7% higher than in May 2020.

A surge in the international prices of vegetable oils, sugar and cereals led the increase in the index to its highest value since September 2011 and only 7.6% below its all-time peak in nominal terms.

The FAO Cereal Price Index increased 6% from April, led by international maize prices, which averaged 89.9% above their value a year earlier. . .

A season of outstanding quality for New Zealand winegrowers:

After a smaller than usual harvest this year, New Zealand winemakers are excited about the excellent fruit and wine quality, though careful management of inventory is required to meet escalating global demand.

Spring was cooler than usual in 2021, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

The globally renowned wine-growing region of Marlborough was hit especially hard by these frosts. As an area famous for the quality of its wine – particularly Sauvignon Blanc -– this shortage of grapes has created a number of downstream implications for the wine industry, both here in New Zealand as well as internationally. . . 


Rural round-up

02/06/2021

‘You’ve just gotta tough it out’: Heavy rain, flooding challenges high country farmers – Lee Kenny:

Parts of Mid-Canterbury remain completely cut off, but the job of managing huge rural stations continues. LEE KENNY reports.

Graham Jones has worked at Arrowsmith Station for 11 years and says he’s never seen conditions as bad as this.

“I’ve seen big snows, a lot of water up here. It’s very hard farming up here, but you’ve just gotta tough it out.”

“This wet weather’s just made it harder.” . . 

Crop farmer counts high cost of rain – Matthew Littlewood:

Timaru farmer Graham Talbot fears many of his recently sown crops have been “drowned out” by the recent heavy rain.

“There’s just so much rain in the system that the farm is completely waterlogged,” Talbot said.

The Claremont farmer, estimated about 30 hectares of his 600ha farm would have been “completely submerged”.

“That’s probably going to cost us a good $70,000 for that alone when it comes to resowing and repair costs. . . 

Flood-affected farmers urged to seek support:

DairyNZ is encouraging Canterbury farmers to look out for each other and access support agencies for assistance amid flooding in the region.

“We have seen farmers working well together and supporting their neighbours through this weather event – it’s always encouraging to see farmers and rural communities working together in times of need,” said DairyNZ head of the South Island, Tony Finch.

“Good advance warning did enable many farmers to be prepared but we are working closely to monitor the situation and encourage farmers to keep farm teams and neighbours safe.”

With Moving Day currently also underway, many Canterbury farmers are attempting to shift properties and livestock.

Funding boost for flood-stricken farmers and growers :

A state of emergency has been declared for the flood-stricken Canterbury region, as farmers begin the clean-up after devastating heavy rain.

From Friday to Monday morning, a massive 545mm of rain was recorded at Mt Somers in the Canterbury high country, MetService said, while the main centres of Christchurch (110mm), Ashburton (155mm), and Timaru (105mm) – were inundated over the same period.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today declared an adverse event for the Canterbury region, unlocking government support for farmers and growers.

“My decision to classify this as a medium-scale adverse event ensures funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures,” Mr O’Connor said during his visit to Canterbury with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers today. . .

Whatever it takes – Tony Benny:

An immigrant from Argentina never expected dairy farming would be a mind-blowing yet rewarding career.

Sitting at home in Argentina, Maria Alvarez hit the refresh button on her computer several times before she reached the most important screen of all – payment. At that moment she knew had made it through the process, and would soon be winging her way across the ocean to New Zealand.

Maria grew up on a beef farm in Argentina and graduated from university with a Bachelor of Agricultural Engineering. She worked for a large crop farming company before coming to NZ on a working holiday, having been lucky to secure one of the 1000 working holiday visas granted to Argentinians each year.

“At 7am NZ time on a certain date, they open the visa application and everybody’s sitting at home in front of their computer. You have to refresh and refresh because the system sort of collapses with so many people trying and then if you make it through to the payment, you make it,” Maria says. . .

Zespri lifts profit to $290.5m after selling $3.5bn of kiwifruit but is running into headwinds – Point of Order:

Like  the  dairy  industry’s  Fonterra, the  kiwifruit  industry’s  giant  Zespri  has  had  a  golden  year.  It  has  reported  record returns  for 2020-21, with  a  net  profit  of  $290.5m (up $90m  from the  previous  year)   after  achieving total fruit  sales revenue  of  $3.5bn  (up 14%).

It  further highlights the strength of NZ’s rural  economy during  a  period  when the  Covid-19 pandemic  underlined the  fragility of  global  trade.

Zespri’s  global sale volumes were up 10% on last season to 181.5m trays.

The company said increased sales, the ongoing expansion of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit production and great quality fruit lay behind the strong returns. . . 

Stud properties a valuable part of farm landscape:

The business of cattle breeding in New Zealand is one rich with history and talent, and while remaining highly competitive, the stud breeding sector is also playing a vital role in helping New Zealand beef also remain competitive and sustainable on a world stage.

Collectively the breed societies that stud breeders belong to have also done much to recognise advances in science, taking the process of selecting animals to a deeper level than simply past dam performance and “gut feel.”

Advances in science mean breeders can now call on genomics to identify some of the preferred traits that determine productivity before sire stock even reach maturity.

The passion and commitment breeders bring to their respective animal breeds has meant New Zealand farmers have been blessed with genetics that often reflect the farming environment of a particular region, or even district. . . 


9/15

01/06/2021

9/15 in Stuff and DairyNZ”s quiz for World Milk Day.

Could do better.


Rural round-up

23/05/2021

Water plan, rates draw farmers’ ire – Hamish MacLean:

Court costs for water plan changes at the Environment Court could easily run into the millions and should be paid from Otago Regional Council reserves, Federated Farmers says.

The farmer group also slammed rates increases proposed by the council yesterday.

Regional councillors heard submissions on their 2021-31 long-term plan in Dunedin, Queenstown, and via videoconferencing in the first day of two days of scheduled hearings yesterday.

About 560 submissions were received, and about 100 people and organisations wanted to deliver their submission verbally. . .

Generation Next graduate shares passion for farming with school leavers :

As part of B+LNZ’s commitment to attracting talented and motivated young people into the red meat sector, we co- funded the Leaving School magazine received by senior school students in every secondary school throughout the country. In this story, young and eager farm worker, Alex De’Lay shares his passion for farming and advice to school leavers.

This story was published in the Leaving School magazine which gets distributed for free to senior school students in every secondary school throughout New Zealand.

Working on a farm in Southland has been a positive change of lifestyle for English-born Alex De’Lay.

He arrived from his home in Northumberland, England in October 2017 on a working holiday. 

It seems nothing can stop his commitment to farming and learning as much as he can about the industry – not even losing an eye in an accident involving a firework just three weeks after he arrived in New Zealand. . . 

Agribuisness career the goal – Shawn McAvinue:

Southern students considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector were among the Meat Industry Association scholarship recipients for 2021. In a series, reporter Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study and their future plans. This week, he speaks to Otago University student Dominic Morrison (18), of Queenstown.

University of Otago student Dominic Morrison is targeting a career in agribusiness — in between “jumping and twirling” in an all-male ballet troupe.

The first-year law and economics student used his $5000 Meat Industry Association scholarship to pay for his stay at residential hall Selwyn College on campus in Dunedin.

The price to stay in the hall includes the cost of a ballet uniform. . . 

Industry advocacy far from muted!– Andrew Morrison, Jim van der Poel, and Andrew Hoggard:

Agricultural organisations are often at the pointy end of criticism.

We exist to act in the best interests of our farmers – as individuals and the sector’s future as a collective. That can be a hard balancing act. To secure a future where the sector thrives and supports our communities and the New Zealand economy, we have to advocate with government.

We all know dairy, sheep and beef sectors have seen their fair share of regulatory changes in recent times. That’s tough and we all know it brings challenges which are confronting and not always welcome.

In the face of significant proposed change, we have advocated clearly for policies that work on the farm. Are we going to win them all? No. And have the outcomes been perfect? No.

Weather adds to trial and tribulations at sheep dog comp – Hugo Cameron:

Man’s best friend has been battling through rain, wind and snow to get the job done at the national Sheep Dog Trial Championships in Southland this week.

More than 500 dogs and 300 trainers were vying for the top spot at the almost week-long trials, hosted on a farm north of Gore by the Greenvale club.

Southland Dog Trial Association spokesperson Maria Hurrell said, despite some rough conditions, everyone had been having fun.

The week had been plagued by frost, rain, “cold, bitterly” wind, and some snow – but that hadn’t stopped competitors from flocking to Greenvale from around the country, she said. . . 

Mice plague ravaging farms in NSW and southern Queensland scurries south to Victoria .-

As the worst mouse plague in decades continues to ravage farms across New South Wales and southern Queensland, large numbers of mice are travelling south and making their way into Victoria.

Don Hearn owns a beef cattle farm and vineyard just east of Barham, in New South Wales near the Victorian border.

He said over the past three to four weeks, mice numbers had increased on his property and were causing damage. 

“It’s certainly not as bad as a little further north, but with most plagues, they start in the north and work their way south.” . . 


Rural round-up

22/05/2021

Feds slam Govt’s immigration plans –  Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers are urging farmers with staffing shortages to write to the Government to outline the effect it was having on their businesses.

The move comes after two announcements from the Government over the past few weeks concerning immigration.

It firstly denied an application by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to bring in 500 skilled migrants to work on dairy farms.

Instead, it approved 125 agricultural machinery operators, below the 400 that is needed. . . 

Treasury to review forestry policy – Neal Wallace:

The Government has approved the sale of 32,644ha of farmland to foreign buyers since 2018 for conversion to forestry under its special policy that encourages overseas investment into the sector.

Information provided by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) reveals it approved through the forestry test the purchase by foreign investors of 30 livestock farms for conversion to forestry, and a further 35 existing forestry blocks covering 111,517ha.

The special forestry test was introduced in 2018 as part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement, which effectively streamlines the OIO process for foreign entities wanting to invest in forestry.

The policy is about to be reviewed by the Treasury, says an OIO spokesperson. . . 

South coping with the long dry – Sally Blundell :

The parched paddocks of farms on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula have run out of moisture – nothing is growing. Farmers fear climate change has arrived and have begun adapting the way they work the land.

Tim Davie, director of science at Environment Canterbury, pauses in a stony gulley, a narrow trough between banks of browning grass. It was not what he expected to see.

“I was hoping to show you some water on the Port Hills of Banks Peninsula,” he tells Frank Film. “But there’s nothing here. Normally this pond would be full of water, up to my waist. On the western flank of Pigeon Bay, Edward Aitken of Craigforth farm walks across the parched ground of his sheep and cattle farm. The scenery is dramatic, the hills a uniform brown against a relentlessly blue sky. “These paddocks would normally have new grass and established greenfield crops. They’ve been fallow now since last November. There is absolutely no moisture in the sub-soil.” . .

Budget 2021: Federated Farmers welcome funding, Dairy NZ says it missed the mark:

Biosecurity, agricultural emissions research and farm planning were areas that received a funding boost in yesterday’s Budget.

On the agricultural emissions front, $24 million was committed to research and mitigation technology development, which could include things like methane inhibitors and the breeding of low emission animals.

Meanwhile, $37m would go towards a national farm planning system for farmers and growers, in line with the government’s plan for all farms to have written plans to measure and manage emissions by the end of 2024.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in order to meet its climate and environmental goals, there needed to be a single, easy to use framework. . . 

Women in seed forum :

A recent turn out of women engaged in employment within the Seed Industry shows the future of diversity within the sector is looking good.

The second NZGSTA Women in Seed Forum was held at Riccarton Park Function Centre on the 19th of May and attended by 108 women from the Seed Industry. The roles of these women varied from agronomists, lab technicians, logistics roles, administrative roles, account managers, research technicians, grain traders, farmers and those passionate about the grain and seed industries.

Developed and hosted by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, Executive Councillor Charlotte Connoley said “the purpose of the forum was to provide more opportunities for networking amongst women within the industry in addition to providing a platform for further discussion and collaboration around key challenges and opportunities that face the grain and seed industries.” . . 

Here Come The Girls: Cork students clinch 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition title

Five teenage girls at St Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill – who come from non-farming backgrounds – have just been crowned overall winners of the 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition.

Emily O’Donovan, Kelsey Hourigan, Helen Savage, Leah Buckley, and Rachel O’Gorman explored the topic ‘Communicating with the Consumer & Producer’ throughout the course of their 18-month project for the competition.

And, in an effort to educate consumers on the beef process, they created an App called ‘Angus Adventures’ which is available to download from Google Play.

The App focuses on the daily tasks of a farmer in an effort to inform consumers of the work and dedication required to produce Certified Irish Angus beef from farm to fork. . . 


Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Rural round-up

04/05/2021

Return of the rabbit plague – Melanie Reid:

The saying goes: “Never turn your back on a rabbit, especially in Central Otago”. But New Zealand has. And now the population has exploded – again. This week, Newsroom Investigates launches an in-depth series about the South Island rabbit rampage.

Rabbits are eating their way through parts of the South Island, turning productive farm land into bare, honeycombed ground where only weeds survive. Lifestyle blocks and subdivisions around Queenstown are infested. The North Otago town of Moeraki has them in plague proportions.

Welcome to another environmental fiasco in Aotearoa.

There have been two occasions in our history when rabbits were almost wiped out: in 1947, when the government set up a Rabbit Destruction Council with the aim to “kill the last rabbit,” and exactly 50 years later when the calicivirus was released illegally by a fed-up farmer. . . 

Sector fears govt module will confuse farmers – Neal Wallace:

The release of a Government initiated online tool to help farmers manage intensive winter grazing may create confusion, a primary sector group fears.

The online farm plan module was launched this week by the ministries for Primary Industry (MPI) and Environment (MfE) ahead of a similarly targeted information jointly formulated by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Deer Industry NZ.

B+LNZ environmental policy manager Corina Jordan says having two separate plan templates in circulation creates confusion, sends mixed messages and “adds to the noise” at a time farmers should be focused on developing a winter grazing plan.

“It was unnecessary for MPI and MfE to step into this space because we had a farm plan already developed. We were already doing it.” . . 

R&D crucial to meet GHG goals – Anne Boswell:

New Zealand farmers are already doing their bit, but more tools will be needed if they are to meet the targets outlined in the Climate Change Commission’s proposal.

DairyNZ says a substantial investment into research and development (R&D) is crucial if farmers are to meet the recommendations set out in the independent Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) draft carbon budgets proposal, released in January this year.

As an industry body, DairyNZ has made a comprehensive submission to the commission on farmers’ behalf, backed by economic, farm systems and scientific evidence. 

The submission outlined two key messages: don’t shift the goalposts, and that substantial investment in research and development was critical to the success of the proposal. . . 

Feds keen to engage in immigration review:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Productivity Commission has decided to hold an inquiry into our current immigration settings and looks forward to engaging in the process.

The primary industries have traditionally looked to the migrant workforce to fill a range of roles where sufficient numbers of Kiwis are not available.

“The closure of the border has seen many roles, both permanent and seasonal, unable to be filled by Kiwis,” Feds Immigration Spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“The various sectors have done what they can to encourage more New Zealanders to work on farms, including training and recruitment initiatives and increases in wages, but some roles and regions remain critically short on suitable staff.. .

Agriculture machinery sales continue to be buoyant:

Growing demand for agricultural machinery and equipment has kicked 2021 off to fantastic start, according to the Tractor and Machinery Association of New Zealand (TAMA).

The momentum began to build during spring and summer of 2020 as the result of increasing customer confidence, said TAMA president Kyle Baxter.

Mr Baxter said he was seeing first-hand how strengthened commodity prices were giving farmers and rural contractors the confidence to invest in new equipment. .  .

Te Uru Rākau – NZ Forest Service explores biofuels as a major opportunity for New Zealand:

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service is laying the foundations for a new biofuels industry, to turn forestry waste into a potential billion-dollar industry, and working on a business case with help from global investment experts Indufor Asia Pacific Ltd.

“Establishing a biofuels industry in New Zealand will require significant investment, so we’re moving ahead with developing the business case for this investment,” says Jason Wilson, director of sector investments at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service.

Mr Wilson says research shows a biofuels industry would help New Zealand to meet its emissions targets and provide jobs and new industries in our regional centres. . . 


Rural round-up

24/04/2021

Looking after the land ‘a passion’ – Shawn McAvine:

Looking after the land is a “passion” for Central Otago farmers Ben and Anna Gillespie.

The couple won the 2020 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, and opened their farm gates in Omakau for a field day last week.

Mrs Gillespie, speaking to about 100 people on the day, said she and her husband were a “solid team”.

She did the “stock work and finances” and he did the “tractor work, irrigation and agronomy“. . .

The cost of getting soil fertility wrong:

Although many people on the planet are willing to pay more for New Zealand produce, productive land to grow that food and fibre is becoming unavailable here in our own backyard.

Both the current government and previous governments aimed to double export dollars from the primary sector.

In answer, ingenious farmers and growers have had to become more efficient with their inputs to do more with less land. The Ministry for the Environment’s report entitled Our Land shows export values of the primary sector doubled while available highly productive land halved between 2002 and 2019.

This was an impressive achievement, but not without impacts. Hitting the political ambition whilst reducing land use and environmental issues is going to require farmers to become even more efficient in the use of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. . .

Trans-Tasman competition expected to increase for dairy farms seeking workers – Maja Burry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are being urged to make staff retention a priority, with the trans-Tasman bubble expected to make the labour market even more competitive.

Both New Zealand and Australia’s primary industries are facing labour shortages, with border restrictions cutting off the normal flow of migrant workers.

A recent survey by the groups Federated Farmers and DairyNZ found almost half of the sector is understaffed, with a quarter of farmers unable to fill some roles for over six months.

The opening of the trans-Tasman bubble on Monday had resulted in some agricultural labour recruiters in Australia ramping up online advertising campaigns targeting New Zealanders – offering free airfares and good wages. . . 

A2 moves from a brand to a category – Keith Woodford:

Many more A2 milk and A2 infant formula brands are now emerging across the globe but market leader The a2 milk Company is struggling

A notable change has been occurring recently with A2 milk products now available from multiple manufacturers. That includes at least three brands of A2 infant formula available here in New Zealand. These offerings are the original a2 Platinum from The a2 Milk Company (ATM), plus relative newcomers Karicare A2 from Danone and Haven A2 linked to Zuru.

There are also now at least three A2 fresh-milk brands in New Zealand, these being Fonterra, Fresha Valley, and a strangely named “organic A3” product which, according to its owners, is also produced exclusively from A2 cows.

Internationally, there are multiple A2 brands of both A2 milk and A2 infant formula now available, particularly in Asia, to a lesser extent in the Americas, but with Europe still lagging. . . 

The harvest has passed but we are not saved – Tom Hunter:

So that’s it. The last of the maize has been chopped and dropped into bunkers, pits and stacks all across the Waikato.

I’ve finished my first, and likely my last season, on the harvesting teams. As always with such work it seems that time has run much faster than a start last September factually shows. About the only slow period was in January as the huge machines were prepped for the coming chore and eyes closely watched the growing maize to pick the right time for gathering.

This time of year has always been celebrated, so let’s start with Bruegel’s classic from 1565. . . 

‘A farmer with 50 cattle today will only be allowed to have 24 in 2030’ – Catherina Cunnane:

The Rural Independents have warned that the Climate Action Bill will “kill the economy while doing nothing to protect the environment”. 

They fear that “small farms will be in danger of disappearing and replaced by large corporate interests, while one-off rural housing will cease to exist”.

The group believe the bill will cause “immeasurable damage to Irish agriculture”, cause food security issues, lead to thousands of direct and indirect job losses across rural Ireland and create enormous and costly volumes of red tape. . . 


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