Rural round-up

November 28, 2016

Aiming for better public science understanding – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Interactions between agriculture and the environment have rarely been so much in the face of the public, and finding a path for the future is proving challenging.

Should New Zealand remain GE-free, ban glyphosate and embrace organics, or should it lead in adopting new technologies to increase efficiencies whilst minimising impact on the environment?

The general problem is that decisions have to be made on issues which arouse high public interest, and where knowledge is incomplete and complexity great. These issues are almost always linked to values, emotions and personal experience — what the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, professor Sir Peter Gluckman, describes as “the political power of the anecdote”. . .

Improved environmental performance to provide long-term strategic value for New Zealand’s agri sector– industry report:

Improved environmental sustainability should provide long-term strategic value to New Zealand’s food and agri sector, according to a recently-released report by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Sustainable Returns: Finding the value in Environmental Sustainability, Rabobank says two major types of value have been identified for farmers and food & agribusiness (F&A) companies from improved environmental practices – the immediate monetary benefit of these practices (from a price premium) and the long-term strategic advantages that provide growth and prosperity into the future.

Report author, Rabobank rural manager Sustainable Farm Systems, Blake Holgate says the type of value farmers and F&A companies can derive will vary depending on the product they are producing, how they are producing it, where they sit on the supply chain, and who the end consumer is. . . 

Stronger farm partnerships beneficial:

A national programme to increase profitability and productivity of sheep and beef farmers by strengthening farming partnerships is being scaled up to reach 2800 farms.

Since 2014, almost 500 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses have completed the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT).  That included 50 women who last month graduated from the similar AWDT programme for Maori women, Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.

The four-month programme, funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership , builds business and communication skills, and confidence of farming women, empowering them to view themselves and their farming roles differently and help lift farm performance. . . 

South Island leaders in for Australasian agri-business award

2017 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced

Three young agriculturalists from the South Island have made it through to the next stage of the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award. The three – Morgan Easton, a 33 year old farm owner and sharemilker from Oamaru, Jolene Germann, a 32 year old dairy consultant from Invercargill and Henry Pinckney, a 34 year old farm owner from Waiau were selected for their impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry.

The three will head to Brisbane next month for the interview round for a place in the finals. They will be up against Australia’s Anna Speer, CEO of AuctionsPlus, Will Creek, a Stud Manager at Stanbroke and Airlie Trescowthick, a business analyst and managing director of The Farm Table. . . .

In the running for agribusiness award – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton has been shortlisted for the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property.

Mr Easton (33), along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann (32) and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney (34), have made it through to the next stage of the award.

The trio were selected for their “impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry”. . . 

New plan to target Mackenzie wilding conifers:

A new strategy for tackling wilding conifers in the Mackenzie Basin has been announced today by Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

“Currently, wilding conifers impact on almost a quarter of land in the Mackenzie Basin, and without further control they will spread and take over large areas of farm and conservation land,” Ms Barry says.

“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, land and farms. These invasive self-sown trees spread fast and are very hard to eliminate once established.

“Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings now, before they start producing seeds, costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost $10,000 per hectare.” . . .

National milk production down 1.5%:

Despite New Zealand dairy farmers receiving the lowest milk prices in 20 seasons, milk production dropped just 1.5%.

That was one of the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2015-16 released on November 14 by DairyNZ and LIC. They revealed there were 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

Dairy companies processed 20.9 billion litres of milk containing 1.86 billion kilograms of milk solids in 2015-16. The previous season, they handled 21.2 billion litres of milk, with 1.89 billion kilograms of milk solids. . . 

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . . 

Kiwifruit industry welcomes Government decision on seasonal workers:

• 1000 additional seasonal workers for horticulture

• RSE workers support New Zealanders who remain primary workforce

The kiwifruit industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an additional 1000 seasonal workers for the coming season.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) Chief Executive Nikki Johnson says the extra workers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are essential to support the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth. . . 

Crown Irrigation Invests up to $3.4m in North Canterbury – some good news for the region:

Crown Irrigation Investments will invest up to $3.4m in the Hurunui Water Project, an irrigation scheme that will be capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

The scheme infrastructure includes water intakes from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers, with both on plain and dam storage, and a pressurised piped distribution system. The current project cost estimate is approximately $200 million. . . 

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock – a victim of its own success:

The record turnout for last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock’s (NZB) Ready to Run Sale at Karaka shows our bloodstock industry is still punching well above its weight says Crowe Horwath’s bloodstock specialist Hayden Dillon. As interest from Australian and Asian buyers continues to grow, the sale saw a record number of entries with 552 horses offered, however, this was tempered by a low clearance rate of 60% compared to the 81% of last year’s record-breaking sale, which left a number of vendors taking their horses back home. Dillon, says “the industry should take comfort that this is not a structural issue for the sale, rather growing pains, and NZB and the vendors will be making adjustments as necessary for the 2017 sale.” . . .

The Cambodian farmers paid to protect birds:

Rice farmers in Cambodia are battling falling regional rice prices and a black market that’s been undercutting them.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, together with a firm called Ibis Rice, is offering to pay above market price for the rice.

In return, the farmers must help protect Cambodia’s national bird – the Giant Ibis. . .


Rural round-up

November 21, 2016

Kaikoura quake will have long-term implications for rural economy– Nick Clark:

This week has of course been dominated by the Kaikoura earthquake.  Our thoughts go out to everyone affected and Feds is playing an important part in the response efforts. 

As well as the impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods, there will be significant economic ramifications, both immediate and long-term.  The impacts will be felt locally and nationally.

The actual amount of damage and costs involved are still unclear and will take time to emerge.  What we do know though is that the scale of the disaster is immense and there has been severe damage to crucial transport and communications infrastructure, not to mention farms, businesses and homes. 

The cost of repair and rebuild alone will likely be in the billions and then there is the cost of the disruption, including lost business. . . 

Support package for earthquake-affected primary sector:

A support package for the primary sector around the upper South Island has been announced today by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“The earthquakes this week have had a major impact on farmers, fishers, growers and the wine industry. The damage is widespread and severe and will need the help of the Government to recover,” says Mr Guy. 

The package today involves funding of at least $5 million and includes:

  • $4 million for Mayoral Disaster Rural Relief funds (Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough) to help with non-insurable assets such as tracks, on-farm bridges and water infrastructure
  • $500,000 to support Rural Recovery Coordinators in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough Districts
  • $500,000 extra funding for Rural Support Trusts
  • $200,000 per month to mobilise and support skilled primary industry students and workers for farm recovery work
  • Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) from Work and Income NZ – emergency payments for farmers in real hardship. . . 

Farmers Grateful for Quake Zone Rural Relief Package:

Financial relief announced today for quake-stricken North Canterbury and Marlborough farmers will go a long way towards getting these families back up and running.

Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston says farmers will be pleased with the Government’s comprehensive range of $5 million in funding for various aspects of the quake response and recovery.

“The mayoral fund is specifically aimed at rural communities. It’s designed to help with restoring uninsured on-farm infrastructure like tracks, bridges and water reticulation. . . 

Feds set up trust for quake-hit farms:

Federated Farmers has reopened its Adverse Events Trust Fund to raise funds to support farms affected by the North Canterbury earthquake.

The trust fund will take donations which will be spent on immediate emergency support for farms, including emergency supplies, farm equipment, essential tools and materials.

“It’s a times like this that people are so keen to help, and that’s fantastic, but we have to be aware, the reality is dollars are going to be required to get these farms back up and running,” Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson Katie Milne says. . . 

Plenty of positive talk about venison and velvet season – Yvonne O’Hara:

“Positive” and “encouraging” are words that deer farmer and veterinarian Dave Lawrence, of Browns, is using  to describe this year’s venison and velvet season.

“It is all very positive,” Mr Lawrence said.

“The venison schedule is about $8kg.

“In seasons gone by, the trend was to peak at about $8 and now there is talk about that being the bottom.

“It is very encouraging.”

He said as the industry moved out of the trough, deer farmers were now retaining more stock to  build up numbers, rather than sending them to the works. . . 

Milk price brings welcome boost to economy:

DairyNZ has welcomed the increased forecast milk price announced today, as a boost to dairy farmers as well as the regional and national economies.

The increase of 75 cents brings Fonterra’s 2016/17 forecast farmgate milk price to $6/kg milksolids (MS) – a lift of $1.75/kg MS since the start of the season, which brings a boost for average dairy farmer revenue of $260,000 or $3 billion nationally.

Today’s 75 cent increase equates to a $1.3 billion lift in the value of this season’s milk production. . . 

Rabobank: World Dairy Trade Faces Strong Headwinds:

The trade in dairy products has suffered a number of massive blows in the last three years and is set to continue face headwinds going forward. The Russian trade embargo, the slowing of demand growth from China, the impact of low oil prices on demand from oil exporting countries and the strengthening of the US dollar have all had an impact on the demand for imports. The expansion of production surrounding the removal of production quotas in Europe added to the pain and resulted in a period of extremely low world prices, according to Rabobank’s report “Strong Headwinds Weigh on Trade Growth.”

“And when we look forward”, says Kevin Bellamy, Global Strategist Dairy at Rabobank. “We see that none of these issues has been resolved. The Russian ban will be in place at least until 2017. Demand from China will continue to grow but at a slower rate, oil prices are forecast to remain at around the USD 50 per barrel mark, and the dollar is forecast to maintain its high value against other currencies. As a result, dairy trade is likely to grow at a slower rate than in recent years, driven more by population growth than per capita consumption increases.” . . 

‘High-risk situation’ for yellow-eyed penguin chicks

Avian diptheria has killed one in three yellow-eyed penguin chicks hatched at two north Otago colonies this year.

Outbreaks of the disease have been occuring every second season on average for at least the past 17 years and young chicks are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Penguin Rescue manager Rosalie Goldsworthy, who looks after two colonies on the Moeraki Peninsula, said 31 out of 85 chicks hatched this year had died – many before they could be treated with antibiotics.

The disease first took hold in 1999, and at that point there were more than 600 breeding pairs on the mainland.

That population had declined to just 200 breeding pairs. . . 

New Zealand apple industry is breaking all records with largest ever apple crop forecast for 2017:

New Zealand is set to grow its largest ever export apple crop of 21.5 million cartons worth a record $800 million, the industry’s leader announced today.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said the success of New Zealand’s apple industry was breaking all records.

“We are the first of New Zealand’s larger primary sectors to meet the Government’s challenge of doubling exports by 2025, and are well ahead of our own target of becoming a billion dollar industry by 2022. . .. 

Paul Henry … Invivo’s Newest Winemaker:

When Invivo winemakers were looking for a personality to make a Pinot Noir to match Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc, they looked no further than Paul Henry. Now Paul ‘The Palate’ Henry can add winemaker to his career.

The self-confessed Pinot Noir expert was happy to team up with Invivo, the makers of award-winning Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc, to produce a limited edition run of Paul Henry’s Own Pinot Noir.

Henry, who jokes about his highly attuned taste buds and advanced palate, says “I have been in training for this for years, most recently fine-tuning my expertise by specialising on reds, particularly Pinot Noir”.

Invivo co-founder Tim Lightbourne says, “When Paul put up his hand, we put a glass in it. Paul sees himself as bit of a wine buff, so we taught him about the blending process, then sat him down at the blending bench and said ‘go for it’”. . . 


Rural round-up

November 15, 2016

North Canterbury farmers confronted by milk crisis – Tim Cronshaw, Gerald Piddock, Gerard Hutching:

Dairy farmers across the Kaikoura and North Canterbury region will have to dump their milk into effluent systems or find other ways to deal with it because it cannot be picked up.

Fonterra said road conditions in Kaikoura meant there were about 30 farms that might not have their milk collected, while others around the country might have late collections as tankers were rerouted.

A Federated Farmers spokeswoman said local councils had given the go-ahead for milk to be dumped into paddocks, following the midnight quake. . . 

Farmers pool resources to keep milking:

North Canterbury farmers are rallying together by sharing cow sheds and lending generators as they try to carry out the daily business of running their farms despite some suffering extensive damage from Monday morning’s quake.

Culverden dairy farmer Justin Slattery said about half of Culverden, in north Canterbury, had lost power and he was still waiting for it to come back on at his farm.

Slattery had been using his neighbour’s milking shed and was working around him, meaning his 520 cows got milked almost five hours late on Monday morning. He planned to return at 6pm if power had not returned to his property. . . 

 

Low price impact on milk production slight – Sally Rae:

Milk production eased only slightly in 2015-16, despite the lowest milk prices in at least 20 seasons, figures released by DairyNZ and LIC show.

Production was down 1.5% nationally, despite 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

South Island production increased 2%, with rises in both Marlborough-Canterbury (2%) and Otago-Southland (2%). . . 

Alexandra space research centre taking off :

A Central Otago space research centre has been tipped as a game changer for Alexandra after it was announced this morning it is to be funded as a regional research institute.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce made the announcement at a breakfast meeting in Alexandra.

Mr Joyce said the New Zealand Research Institute of Viticulture and Oenology in Marlborough had been chosen as the first new regional research institute. 

The Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST), led by Alexandra-based research company Bodeker Scientific requested $15million in funding. . .

Constable Rhys Connell says police want to work in partnership with rural communities – Sue O’Dowd:

Police are committed to working in partnership with rural communities, says Taranaki rural police officer Rhys Connell. 

 “Ninety per cent of rural crime is solved by people in the community who see and hear things and let us know about them,” he told about 50 people at a rural crime prevention national roadshow in Stratford.

The roadshow also visited Tikorangi. Eight roadshows have already been in other areas of the country as part of a joint police, FMG and Federated Farmers initiative to promote rural crime prevention measures. 

“You are our eyes and ears,” Connell said. “It’s us together, not you and us.” . . 

Native mussels thrive in Canterbury stream:

Last year, we heard the story of Nigel Gardiner who found some Endangered native mussels as a result of riparian planting and continued work around the stream to improve its health. Here’s the latest update, a year on since the first discovery.

Endangered native mussels, or Kākahi, are continuing to thrive in the creek on FLO – Triangle farm in Canterbury one year after they were discovered by sharemilker Nigel Gardiner.

Kākahi are one of only three species of the endangered fresh water mussels to exist in New Zealand and can live for between 30 and 50 years. . . 

Far from ‘uneducated’ – Life on this Side of the Fence:

If you watched any of the recent presidential election results, you may have noticed a recurring theme.  As traditionally blue states turned red, a common phrase heard among reporters was that the “uneducated rural community” had made a larger turnout than what was expected.  As a member of the rural community, which is quite educated might I add, I saw a few things wrong with this statement.

First, the political affiliations of a certain group of people should in no way merit the assumption of education, or lack thereof.  In a society that claims to be open to all walks of life and discourages the labeling of cultural groups, I felt that the way rural voters were viewed was quite misguided. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 3, 2016

Chinese investment fears unfounded – Neal Wallace:

New Zealand pretty much has everything a cash-rich, densely populated country like China desires and needs.

It had an abundant supply of high-quality food and the NZ China Council described the other desirable features as a stable economic and political environment and investor-friendly policies.

But there were two other significant features attracting Chinese investment.

NZ businesses had historically struggled to attract investment capital, especially for the primary sector, and the Chinese government’s Going Out policy encouraged Chinese companies to invest offshore. . .

Extra staff and water crucial for dairy farm production boost – Mike Watson:

Murray and Tanya Frost’s Linkwater dairy farm may seem an oasis of lush, green pasture cover to the casual observer.

But it is clear to the couple more water and more staff are crucial if they are to meet their long term yearly production target of 200,000 kilograms of milksolids.

The couple are about to enter their fifth season of milking after buying the 263 hectare farm on Kenepuru Road four years ago after a stint farming at Cape Foulwind, south of Westport. . .

Is forestry the answer? – Keith Woodford:

In late 2015, the New Zealand Government made a commitment at the Paris climate negotiations that by 2030 New Zealand will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent compared to the 2005 levels. This overall commitment includes methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture. These agricultural emissions are converted for carbon-accounting purposes to the equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide. The daunting and unique challenge for New Zealand is that agriculture emissions comprise some 50 percent of total emissions.

Given the fundamental biology of ruminant animals, there are limits as to what can be done to reduce livestock emissions without drastic destocking. And destocking would have a major impact on the whole economy. Also, in a global context, and unless everyone goes to a vegan diet, eliminating New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture would not make a great deal of sense. This is because New Zealand is one of the more efficient producers of milk and meat on a relative GHG intensity basis. . .

Irish Uni tells students to work down under  – Peter Burke:

Ireland’s largest university is encouraging its dairy business undergraduates to get work experience in New Zealand, and students say the event is a highlight of their four year degree course.

University College Dublin (UCD) is described as Ireland’s global university and its School of Agriculture and Food Science is among its largest schools.

It offers degrees in agri-environmental sciences, food science, human nutrition, forestry, horticulture and a range of options under the broad heading of agricultural science. . .

Rural banking beckons top Massey ag student – Peter Burke:

The winner of the Massey Agricultural Student of the Year prize, DairyNZ scholar Jack van Bussel (20), is planning a future in rural banking.

The award is for the student judged to have made the largest contribution to the wellbeing and reputation of his/her fellow agricultural students.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “When they started describing who the winner was I thought ‘that sounds like me’, but I never really thought it could be. I am honoured to get it, I still can’t believe it and I really appreciate it.” . . .

New biological control for rabits to roll out in 2017 – Bridie Edwards:

A NEW weapon to fight the exploding wild rabbit population will be trialled at 418 sites across the country next year.

The RHDV1 K5 virus will be launched as part of the coalition’s $1.2-million campaign to research and develop new wild rabbit control methods.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, along with community organisations, Landcare groups and government land managers will be participating in the national roll out of the virus. . . .


Rural round-up

November 1, 2016

Heartland: Grass is greenest for environment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Streams of traffic at Labour weekend, with boats, jet skis and trail bikes loaded on or behind four-wheel drive vehicles, heralded the start of the summer outdoor life, part of the New Zealand heritage. 

The fact that fossil fuel consumption was involved, thereby increasing the contribution to global greenhouse gases (GHG), was probably not considered by most people as they took to the road. Nor was the decision to make 1.09 million overseas holiday trips in the September 2016 year. Statistics New Zealand data indicated residents took 71,200 more holiday trips than in the September 2015 year. 

But, overall, New Zealand produces less than 2% of the global GHG emissions, so people are getting out there and enjoying life. . . 

MP Chester Borrows says hidden camera footage threatens New Zealand’s economy – Sue O’Dowd:

Hidden-camera footage of on-farm practices not only breaches farmers’ security but also threatens New Zealand’s economy, says politician Chester Borrows. 

The Whanganui MP and one-time police officer turned lawyer is urging Taranaki farmers and rural residents to attend the rural crime prevention national roadshow – a joint police, FMG and Federated Farmers initiative – when it visits Stratford and Tikorangi on November 10. 

Figures presented at FMG’s annual meeting in Taranaki in September showed rural crime cost the company $21 million in claims in the last five years. . . 

From the Lip – bobby calves and Big Brother – Jamie Mackay:

The latest bobby calf cruelty video released by Farmwatch is yet again another salutary reminder of how careful farmers and farming have to be, in an age where social media rules and where the consumer is king.

I have to be bit careful when dishing out advice from behind the safety of a keyboard because I’ve never loaded bobby calves on to a truck, save for a few we bought and reared as kids on to the back of a car trailer.

But I have spent many years, in a past life, working with livestock and can understand the pressures and fatigue farmers and farm workers face in the course of a 14 hour working day at calving or lambing time. . . 

More tertiary graduates needed to grow a savvy agri-industry – Pat Deavoll:

The agricultural and horticultural industry will need more than 60,000 more workers by 2025 to be sustainable.

The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates horticulture will need an extra 7800 workers and meat and wool 16,500 fewer unqualified workers through the natural attrition of the industry but will need 11,400 with tertiary qualifications. The arable sector will need another 4700 workers and dairy 2300 more workers.

However, the biggest demand will come from the support area with as many as 30,000 more jobs required. . . 

Global Farmer Network ‘amazing’ – Sally Rae:

When Jane Smith headed to the Global Farmer Roundtable discussion in Iowa earlier this month, she was not sure what she should expect.

But it turned out to be an “amazing’ character-building trip for the North Otago farmer who was the sole representative from New Zealand.

The Global Farmer Network is a non-profit advocacy group led by farmers from around the world who support global expansion of trade and a farmer’s freedom to access the technology they need to be productive and sustainable. . . 

Farmers praised for ability to cut costs:

Not surprisingly, the 2015-16 dairy season has been officially declared the most challenging year yet for dairy farmers.

The $3.90 kg/ms milk price was the lowest in more than a decade and affected farmers who were, on average, operating at a break-even cost of $5.25 kg/ms, figures released at DairyNZ’s recent annual meeting in Ashburton showed.

Despite an obvious shortfall in farm income, farmers made positive steps in reducing their costs of production, chairman Michael Spaans said.

In August, DairyNZ revised the average farm’s break-even cost down to $5.05 kg/ms for 2016-17.‘‘This is a rare positive from a period of low milk prices and something farmers should be immensely proud of. . . 

Good points about US farming trumped by low profits – Pita Alexander:

In the middle of a fascinating election campaign any prayers you have would be reserved for the American people rather than their new president

Some years ago a reporter asked Pope XXIII about how many people worked at the Vatican.  His reply was: about half.  The sooner the United States election is over the sooner about half the population can get back to work.

Many years ago Mahatma Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilisation.  His reply was: he thought it was a good idea.  Yet I counted 22 serious confrontations around the world on October 28 where lives were being lost every day.  Mr Gandhi would not be happy about this.  I did not include any of the internal US confrontations in my total.

At the farming level, do not get the idea that the typical US family farm has a good net income.  The median figure for this year is estimated to be about $109,000 (US$76,282), but most of this  comes from off-farm income. . . 


Rural round-up

October 26, 2016

Dairy farmers ‘treat those calves like their babies’ – Alexa Cook:

Farmers have hit back at claims of widespread mistreatment of bobby calves, after a video emerged of calves being thrown onto the back of trucks.

The hidden-camera footage, obtained by activist group Farmwatch, also showed calves being dragged along the ground.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has condemned the treatment, and started a full investigation.

But many farmers and farm workers say what was shown on the video did not reflect the reality of the industry. . .

Cruel practices condemned by DairyNZ chief:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

“The vast majority of farmers care about their animals and we are committed to farming to very high standards.

“DairyNZ works closely with the wider industry in the management of bobby calves, including the transport sector, meat processors and dairy companies, as well as Federated Farmers and MPI.” . . 

Merino to make stars of growers – Sally Rae:

“You are going to be the rock stars for the future consumers,” New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge told about 100 merino growers in Omarama yesterday.

Speaking before the company’s annual meeting in the township, Mr Brakenridge said new brands were emerging where consumers could get to know the producer.

He had just returned from the United States, where he met former All White Tim Brown, the co-founder of shoe company Allbirds which has produced a shoe made from New Zealand merino. . . 

Loie and Tony Penwarden are ending their Trewithen Farms sharemilking contract – Sue O’Dowd:

An award-winning Taranaki dairy farm will enter a new era next season as family beckons for its long-serving sharemilkers.

The couple, who have been herd-owning sharemilkers on Faull Farms’ Trewithen Farm at Tikorangi since 2004, are retiring at the end of the 2016-17 season. 

The partnership between Faull Farms and the Penwardens won the inaugural Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards (TBFEA) in 2014. . . 

Tokanui shepherd perfect woman – Tim Miller:

After two days of fierce competition, which included cooking a steak and flying a helicopter, the perfect woman for 2016 has been found.

The Perfect Woman competition returned to Wanaka at the weekend, after a year off in 2015, and 16 contestants took part.

Shepherd Rachel Rule (22), from Tokanui, took the title and  $1000 in prize money.

Miss Rule did not expect to win. She said the best part of the weekend was meeting the other competitors.

“It was a fantastic weekend with just a great bunch of girls and the things we got to do, like flying a helicopter, were really amazing.” . . 

Lives given purpose by the ‘legends’ who helped – Marc Gascoigne:

It’s been a stressful spring for farmers in the Waikato with constant rain causing all sorts of problems, but those stresses were put into perspective in a big way for me last week when I attended two funerals.

When people say life is short they’re usually talking about living until you’re in your eighties, so when you are at a two-year-old child’s memorial service, it’s just not right on any level.

Mason was just two when he came to stay at our farm a few weeks ago with his mum and dad and five-year-old brother Weslley. . . 

Rubbish boosts tasty delicacy – Alan Williams:

Saffron growers and wine-makers are among the businesses swearing by the benefits of organic compost made from Christchurch city’s green waste.  

Te Anau saffron growers Steve and Jo Daley were even prepared to pay up to $2500 a load to get compost trucked the 650km from the Living Earth processing plant at Bromley.  

The Living Earth market was 95% rural based, included pastoral and cropping farmers and the rural sales were 85% repeat business, the company’s rural and urban sales manager Graeme Wright said.  

The Daleys were determined to be organic growers and the cost was worth it for them, with the consistency of the compost and its ability to hold its properties through a hot, dry summer. . . 

Plant-based alternative milk consumption growing in Australia as dairy industry holds firm – Marty McCarthy:

Dairy milk has been flying off the supermarket shelves as consumers continue to sympathise with Australia’s dairy farmers, following the Murray Goulburn crisis.

But so-called “alternative milks” are rising in popularity, and new research shows consumers are increasingly lapping them up.

Supermarkets now stock a range of plant-based milks, including soy, almond, coconut, hazelnut, rice, oat and more recently, macadamia milk.

“While the incidences of lactose intolerance have been increasing there have also been food trends that recommend avoiding cow’s milk,” IBISWorld analyst Lauren Magner said. . . 

Rabobank Global Wine Quarterly Q4 2016: Red Dawn? Behind the Rise in Australian Wine Grape Prices:

Australia takes the pulse of wine grape markets, while the Northern Hemisphere harvest appears set to fall on the short side, and China headlines developments in global wine trade, according to Rabobank’s Global Wine Quarterly for Q4 2016.

The Australian wine grape industry has experienced a ‘red dawn’, with prices rising from their 2011 lows, particularly for red wine grape varieties sourced from more premium growing regions. Rabobank senior analyst Marc Soccio says: “Life has returned to Australian wine grape prices, with China driving much of the recovery in market conditions.”

Highlighting the key role of the China/Hong Kong market in Australia’s wine grape price recovery, the performance of the Chinese market remains a key barometer of future red wine grape market condition. The premiumisation trend in other major markets is also a factor, namely in Australia’s domestic market, as well as in the US and Canada. . . 

Nominations Have Closed for the 2016 Fonterra Elections:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Independent Nomination Process candidates and the Shareholders’ Council, Directors’ Remuneration Committee, and Fonterra Farmer Custodian Trustee elections closed at 12 noon today.

The candidates successfully nominated following the Independent Nomination Process will be announced on Friday 4 November, 2016. The full list of candidates, including Self-Nominated candidates for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election will be announced by Wednesday, 16 November 2016. . . 

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Do not cross this pasture unless you can do it in 9 seconds, because the bull can do it in 10.

 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2016

Marks & Spencer Scotland pulls pin on NZ lamb –  Alexa Cook:

British retailer Marks & Spencer will no longer stock New Zealand lamb in its Scottish stores, after a decision to only sell locally-produced lamb.

 New Zealand exports about 29,000 lambs a year to Marks & Spencer in Scotland and the decision will hit about 10 or 12 lamb producers in this country.Beef and Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons is in Britain, France, Ireland and Belgium this week to assess what effect Brexit may have on New Zealand exports. . .

Farmer grows from on-lamb farm to million dollar empire in six years – Paul Mitchell:

In just six years, a farmer south of Whanganui has grown his business from a single block of land to a multi-million dollar company supplying restaurants and supermarkets globally.

This week Coastal Spring Lamb, at Turakina, received its first order from China, giving it a foot-hold in the biggest market in the world.

Founder Richard Redmayne said this was the eighth export market for the firm since it began selling overseas in January last year. . . 

At war with the pukeko – one gardener’s greatest foe – Charlie Mitchell:

The pukekos strike just before dawn, leaving hundreds of destroyed cabbages and a market gardener in despair.

Commercial gardener Brent Treleaven is at war with the native birds, which have caused thousands of dollars worth of damage on his farm north of Christchurch.

He had to relinquish part of his market garden to the pukeko after they took it over. . . 

Cows get inspirational talk before milking – Simon Wong:

An Australian farmer says the pep talks he gives his cows is an easy way to bring cheer to his colleagues, who are facing some trying times.

Two videos of southwestern Victoria farmer Adam Jenkins, posted on Facebook by his wife Catherine, have been shared thousands of times in the past few days.

They’re of Mr Jenkins giving his cows encouragement before heading into the milking shed and then afterward congratulating them on their efforts. . .

Industry’s competitiveness in spotlight at DairyNZ AGM:

Dairy farmers’ ability to remain internationally competitive is likely to be a hot topic when dairy industry and research body, DairyNZ, reviews the past year at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Canterbury this month.

DairyNZ is holding its AGM in Ashburton from 11am on Thursday, October 27, at Hotel Ashburton.

Industry body chairman Michael Spaans says the AGM will review the 2015/16 dairy season, including the low milk price challenges, and discuss DairyNZ’s highlights for the year and future direction. . . 

Latest industry results confirm LIC has the best bulls in the country – by far:

The genetic gain and value that LIC bulls are delivering on New Zealand dairy farms is confirmed in the latest Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list.

A phenomenal 27 of the best 30 bulls on the All Breeds list are LIC’s, including the top 14 in a row of all breeds.

“These bulls are managed by LIC on our farmers’ behalf, with massive contributions from our top breeders and our Bull Acquisition team,” LIC General Manager Biological Systems Geoff Corbett said. . .


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