Rural round-up

July 14, 2018

Good times are here – Annette Scott:

It’s been a long time coming but sheep farming is where it should be, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

With winter schedules knocking on the door of $8, global markets largely continuing to track along at the solid pace of recent months and global inventories remaining low it’s a good time to be a sheep farmer, he said.

Confidence at the farmgate in sheep is strongest since 2011. . .

Get picky when buying stock – Glenys Christian:

More than 150 farmers at a Mycoplasma bovis meeting in Dargaville were told to choose their breeder rather than their bull.

“You need to ask some very strong questions,” Chris Biddles, who established Te Atarangi Angus stud on the nearby Pouto Peninsula over 30 years ago, said.

Firstly, farmers looking for service bulls for their herds should choose a breeder with a registered herd. . .

Tractor sales could reach record high :

Tractor and machinery sales could hit a record high by the end of the year, even though rural customers are exercising caution, says an industry body.

Sales of tractors are up more than 25 per cent on this time last year and all sectors are showing buoyancy, said new NZ Tractor and Machinery Association president John Tulloch.

Year-to-date figures to the end of June showed a total of 1876 sales across all HP categories compared with 1448 in 2017: a total increase of 26.1 per cent. . .

Mycoplasma bovis: supposed facts don’t add up – Keith Woodford:

[With the re-organisation of the New Zealand rural media and the demise of NZ Farmer for which I previously wrote, this is the first of a new series of fortnightly articles I will be writing for Farmers Weekly and also published at http://www.interest.co.nz. Whereas my articles in Stuff  (online and in their hardcopy newspapers ) are about rural issues, but largely for an urban audience, the Farmers Weekly articles are primarily for farmers and those more directly involved in rural matters.]

A key message from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has been “generally prolonged or repeated contact with infected animals is required for the disease to be transmitted” (MPI website). Another key message has been that the disease has only been here since the end of 2015. . . .

One week left to influence emissions bill:

Farmers have just one week left to submit their opinions on the Zero Carbon Bill. Climate change ambassadors for the dairy sector are urging farmers to have their say on the new 2050 emissions target the bill will set in place.

The government is asking for public feedback on three possible 2050 emission reduction targets.

DairyNZ and many other primary sector organisations are supportive of a new target which will reduce carbon emissions to net zero, and stabilise methane emissions. This is an option dairy farmers can support by submitting online. . .

Motor Industry Association calls for new safety rules for ATV operators – Olivia Fairhusrt:

The Motor Industry Association (MIA) is calling for mandatory safety rules for the use of quad bikes and small utility vehicles in the workplace, after several coronial inquests.

The inquests revealed new rules would reduce serious injuries and fatalities, which prompted the call to the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety for compulsory regulations.

The association called for helmets to be made compulsory, children under 16 to be forbidden from riding adult size quad bikes and passengers to be banned from single seat bikes.

Association chief executive David Crawford said the safe use of small vehicles, farm bikes, ATV (All-Terrain Vehicles) and side-by-side vehicles is “of paramount importance to manufacturers, distributors, dealerships and their customers“. . .

Fixating on the milk price is distracting the dairy industry from its own decline, expert says – Margot Kelly:

A leading dairy figure is warning the Australian industry needs to address underlying issues affecting farm profitability, rather than fixating on milk prices.

Farmgate milk prices have been in the spotlight since major processors suddenly and retrospectively cut prices in 2016.

The man who has headed up some of the largest dairy companies in the southern hemisphere said the trend of decreasing farm profitability in Australia had been emerging well before the dairy crisis. . . 

 

Lab meat: more hype than substance – Post Veganism:

If you believe all the headlines, in a few short years or even less time, the way meat is grown will radically change. Brewing like tanks full of dividing  cells will replace farms and factory farms raising livestock, thus no more animals will be slaughtered, all environmental issues- including climate change and water scarcity- will be resolved, world hunger will no longer exist, and deforestation will no longer be necessary. Plus best of all there will be meat a plenty that even die-hard vegans can consume with a clear conscience.

Okay, maybe this representation is a little bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. A lot of hyped up marketing spin is involved and has been expended to “position” lab meat, including re-branding it as “clean meat” (in vitro meat, cell meat, and cultured meat also didn’t do so good in the marketing surveys). That hype involves creating a market for a product line that might otherwise only have a very limited audience and appeal. To build a market, consumers have to be dissuaded from consuming real meat. So to build an audience a whole litany of out of context statistics are repeated about water footprints, land use, feed efficiency, deforestation, greenhouse gases, health concerns, and animal welfare. . . 


Pomahaka Catchment Project

July 2, 2018

Mini doco highlights sustainability work of Pomahaka farmers:

As part of their contribution to NZ Landcare Trust’s Pathway for the Pomahaka Project, Rabobank has released a mini-documentary that focuses on farmers in the Pomahaka catchment. This 10 minute video follows one sheep and beef farmer and two dairy farmers, highlighting the work they have undertaken to protect the environment through the winter. The video outlines areas of improvement that the farmers identified during the development of their Farm Environment Plans.

The film documents a sheep and beef farmer as he attends a Beef + Lamb NZ Land Environment Plan Level 2 workshop, while one of the dairy farmers is joined on-farm by a consultant, who runs through a DairyNZ Sustainable Milk Plan.

NZ Landcare Trust Project Coordinator Craig Simpson said the highlight of the Pomahaka project is the catchment scale work of the Pomahaka Water Care Group. “The video includes an interview with a water quality scientist who is undertaking water testing throughout the catchment for the Water Care Group, and discusses the work he is doing and the information he provides for the group.”

NZ Landcare Trust has been working for a couple of years to support and bring together the Pomahaka community. This community involvement is the key to the success of the project to date, and will be a real strength as the project continues.

The Pathway for the Pomahaka project is primarily funded by the Ministry for Prmary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund, with other contributions from Dairy NZ, Ravensdown, Ernslaw One Ltd. and NZ Landcare Trust.

NZ Landcare Trust has been working with farmers, landowners and community groups on sustainable land and water management projects for 20 years.


Cruelty always wrong

June 29, 2018

Dairy NZ’s strategy leader Jenny Jago says the well-being of animals is at the heart of every dairy farm.

It is not okay to treat any animal poorly – ever – and the vast majority of farmers care deeply about their animals. This footage is disturbing and it has been reported that a complaint has been laid. This type of appalling behaviour is absolutely not representative of the thousands of farmers that work with cows every day and are passionate about animal welfare.

Cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the dairy sector as part of dairy farming. If a farmer treats their cows badly, they shouldn’t be working in the dairy sector. It’s as simple as that.

She was responding to a video which showed a sharemilker abusing cows:

A Northland sharemilker caught on hidden cameras hitting dairy cows with a steel pipe in his milking shed had previously been the subject of a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries about other claims of animal abuse.

That inquiry was dropped due to a lack of evidence but the new video from the milking shed cameras has been given to the Ministry by farm animal advocacy group Farmwatch as part of a new complaint.

A month’s footage from the hidden cameras supplied to Newsroom by Farmwatch shows the sharemilker repeatedly hitting cows during milking. At times the cows were hit on the head, at other times their legs were struck with a steel pipe.  . .

What makes this case worse is that a farm worker complained to MPI whose investigation found nothing amiss the first time and said they could do nothing the second.

The former worker contacted MPI again by phone to tell them about the steel pipe. They said MPI told them the case was closed and nothing more could be done without proof. 

“We went through the right channels. We went to the owner first, nothing was done. We went to MPI, nothing was done. We didn’t want to leave it,” said the former worker who made the complaint. 

At this point, worried for the welfare of the herd and with nowhere else to turn, the former worker contacted farm animal advocacy group, Farmwatch. 

Farmwatch installed hidden cameras in the milking shed to gather proof.

Farmwatch volunteer investigator, John Darroch, said he has spent time in milking sheds in the past and knew good farming practice. He was shocked at what was caught on camera. 

“I was stunned and sickened by what I saw. The level of anger towards the cows was quite disturbing to see.”  

This footage has now been supplied to MPI in the hope something can be done.  

“We’re willing to co-operate with MPI so that they can prosecute people based off our hidden camera footage. This includes a willingness to give formal statements to MPI and to appear in court as witnesses,” Darroch said. . . 

Treating cows like this is inhumane and also stupid – cows need quiet and calm to produce milk. The sharemilker wasn’t only being cruel to the stock, his actions would have reduced milk production which would have reduced his income.

There is no excuse for cruelty to animals and MPI must learn from this case so that any complaints made in future are investigated more thoroughly.

The abuse was bad enough, that it continued after complaints were made makes it worse.


Rural round-up

June 28, 2018

Improved systems lower dariy’s footprint – Esther Taunton:

The greenhouse gas emissions produced for every kilogram of milk solids have fallen by almost a third in the 25 years to 2015, DairyNZ says.

At a climate change workshop in Taranaki on Thursday, DairyNZ senior climate change advisor Milena Scott said New Zealand’s dairy industry had been increasing its emissions efficiency by an average of one per cent per year since 1990.

Data from the Ministry for the Environment showed that from 1990 to 2015, the emissions intensity of milk solids fell 29 per cent, Scott said. . .

Negative comment undervalues agri-food industry – Sally Rae:

Unbalanced narrative around the agri-food sector is putting both it and the contribution it makes to New Zealand at risk, KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot believes.

In the latest KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, Mr Proudfoot said that narrative had reached a point where it could not longer be ignored ”as an inconvenience or an annoyance” and it should be considerably more positive.

”It is this sector that pays for the schools, roads and hospitals that the whole community relies upon. . .

Devil in the detail of fresh water management:

Key advice from a water report for the Government should be considered, but the devil will be in the detail says the Federated Farmers representative on the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), Chris Allen.

The LAWF report on preventing water quality degradation and addressing sediment and nitrogen has been released to the Government. The data and 38 recommendations are the culmination of a lot of work from many different groups represented on the Forum, Chris says.

“While there are still a range of views, especially when it comes to nitrogen discharge allowances, the fact is everyone is at the table and working on getting it right.” . . 

Lamb exports set new record:

The value of lamb exports hit a new record of $369 million in May 2018, Stats NZ said today. Higher prices and more quantities of lamb exported boosted this month’s level. The previous high for lamb exports was $340 million in February 2009.

“It has been a strong month for meat exports in general, with both lamb and beef increasing in quantities,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. . .

North Island Māori secure a record slice of kiwifruit market:

Three North Island iwi-based entities have successfully purchased one of New Zealand’s largest kiwifruit portfolios.

Te Arawa Group Holdings (Rotorua); Rotoma No 1 Incorporation (Rotorua), and Ngāti Awa Group Holdings (Whakatane) today announced they are the new owners of Matai Pacific’s vast kiwifruit portfolio.

The large-scale property deal includes three Bay of Plenty orchards covering a total of almost 100 canopy hectares. . . 

Fodder insurance – silage pit – Mark Griggs:

For Talbragar River cattle breeder and grazier Brian Bowman, droughts and floods are not new.

The Bowman family at “Shingle Hut”, Dunedoo, experienced three consecutive floods in 2010 to 2012, wiping out each year’s crop.

Mr Bowman said each flood covering all the river flat country was in November and wiped out 486 hectares of wheat crops in each of the first two and a big canola crop in the third year. . .

This start up can make avocados last twice as long before going bad – Caitlin Dewey:

The new avocados rolling out to Midwest Costco stores this week don’t look like the future of fresh produce. But they’re testing technology that could more than double the shelf life of vegetables and fruits.

That technology, developed by the start-up Apeel Sciences, consists of an invisible, plant-based film that reinforces the avocados’ own skin. The company hopes to expand to stores nationwide — as well as to a range of other produce.

Experts say the product, which has quadrupled shelf life in a lab setting, has the potential to make foods less perishable — with huge boons for consumers, the environment and the food industry. .  .


Rural round-up

June 11, 2018

Good farm practice plan launched – Richard Rennie:

A plan to put the entire primary sector on the same environmental page might set the scene for a wider industry plan encompassing greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare, labour rights and sustainability.

A high-profile collective including DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, regional councils, Horticulture NZ and Irrigation NZ and the Environment and Primary Industries Ministries this week oversaw the launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan. . . 

Wiping out Mycoplasma bovis is a shot worth taking – Andrew McGiven:

So, it’s been nearly two weeks now since the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced the decision to continue to pursue Mycoplasma bovis eradication.

This decision was greeted with some relief by many farmers as it gave us all some clarity and reduced some of the Chinese whispers happening around the regions.

But there are plenty of farmers who are confused by this verdict and what the potential consequences may be for their businesses.

What I hope to provide here is some of the reasoning behind the decision that was reached and why it has been supported by all industry bodies and levy paying groups. . .

New Zealand gets it right – David Beggs:

NEW Zealand has just announced it will cull about 150,000 cows in order to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that is hard to diagnose and which is well established in most of the world.

It’s not a nice disease to have on your farm. While there are no human health issues, Mycoplasma can cause a wide range of diseases and when it does, they don’t respond well to treatment. In a farm with no immunity, disease rates can be very high. There are major problems with production loss from mastitis, arthritis, pneumonia, abortion and more. Not to mention the stress caused to farm staff or the animal welfare implications of high disease levels. But our experience, and that overseas, shows that as time goes on, the herd builds up an immunity and disease levels become low in unstressed animals. . .

Nation figures the Fieldays wide influence beyond farms – Hugh Stringleman:

Thirty eight permanent staff members, up to 10 temporary workers including interns and 300 volunteers make the National Fieldays happen, National Fieldays Society chief executive Peter Nation says.

Most of the volunteers do shifts on all four days and have done so for many years, being very valued members of the Fieldays Family, he said.

On site this week will also be more than 100 emergency service personnel and employees of contractors like Allied Security.

Nation said more than 9000 people were inducted into health and safety, of which 2500 put themselves through the online induction. . .

Recommended by ‘I wouldn’t be drinking that water’: Poo dumping plagues Waikato – Katrina Tairua:

A Waikato farmer is worried truck drivers are dumping stock effluent on a road, next to a stream supplying drinking water to hundreds of people.

Others are also worried effluent discarded on roads could hinder efforts to stop Mycoplasma bovis from spreading in the region.

Marcel Hannon said he had, on multiple occasions, witnessed effluent being dumped on Waterworks Road, a rural route between Te Miro and Morrinsville. . .

Massive fund manager BlackRock reveals 5 per cent holding in a2 Milk:

One of the world’s biggest fund managers has emerged as a significant shareholder in a2 Milk with a 5.03 per cent stake.

In a notice to the NZX, New York-headquartered BlackRock said recent purchases had taken it from 4.99 per cent to over the 5 per cent threshold, thereby requiring it to declare its stake.

A2 Milk earlier this year become New Zealand’s largest listed company by market capitalisation after announcing another bumper profit and the formation of a joint venture with the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra. . .

Loro Piana: the world’s most majestic wool :

Noted for their soft wool coats, Merino sheep are everywhere in Australia and New Zealand, and they account for more than 50% of the world’s sheep population. The thing that sets Australian/Kiwi Merino apart from wool produced in northern climates is its superfine quality, however not all Merinos are superfine.

To qualify as superfine, the wool fibres need to be 19.5 microns or less – 
a micron being a thousandth of a millimetre (the average human hair is about 60 to 70 microns). In short, the smaller the fibre, the softer and
 more comfortable it is against the skin, hence the allure for luxury brands. While Australia is home to around 75 million sheep, only 18 million produce wool finer than 19 microns. In New Zealand, there are 32 million sheep, but only a modest 2.2 million of them yield fibre under 21 microns. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 4, 2018

Porirua boy now a top farmer – Neal Wallace:

An extra year’s experience was the telling factor for Harepaora Ngaheu, this year’s recipient of the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer award. Neal Wallace spoke to the Te Teko dairy farmer.

On June 1 Harepaora Ngaheu began contract milking on a Bay of Plenty dairy farm and, according to his long term plan, should own a dairy farm within 10 years.

It is a spectacular turnaround for someone who five years ago was drifting through life and stumbled on the dairy industry through a training course. . .

The social science of Mycoplasma – Dr Gareth Enticott and Dr Anne Galloway:

Usually when animal disease strikes, it is the advice and expertise of the veterinary sciences that is sought.

However, recent disease outbreaks such as Foot and Mouth in the UK in 2001, have led to the recognition that the social sciences should also play an important role in the management of animal disease. They should also be important to help understand and manage the impacts of mycoplasma in New Zealand.

Whilst there are some important differences between Mycoplasma and the UK’s FMD outbreak, there is already a remarkable similarity between the two events. Taking lessons from social studies of animal disease, the following issues should be of concern for all involved in the management of Mycoplasma:

1. Trust

In 2001, the outbreak of FMD in the UK was accompanied by a complete breakdown in trust between farmers, vets and the Government (Poortinga et al., 2004). Why was this? . . 

Youngsters see the light on working outdoors :

Kiwi youngsters in town and country schools are learning about the prospect of farming careers via AgriKids and TeenAg, devised by NZ Young Farmers, says its chief executive Terry Copeland.

They are funded by the Transforming the Dairy Value Chain (TDVC) Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) scheme led by DairyNZ, Fonterra, MPI and others.

AgriKids and TeenAg, respectively, inform primary and secondary schoolers about farming and its career possibilities.

Apple accolades top great season and more trees already in the ground

Hawke’s Bay’s contribution to the world’s “most competitive” apple industry is set to grow, with more than 100,000 new plantings at just one Hastings orchard alone set to further the region’s future standing.

For the fourth year running, the United States-based World Apple Review has named New Zealand’s apple industry the most competitive on the global stage, against 33 major apple growing countries.

The review, released by Belrose Inc, the world fruit market analysts, stated that the innovations emerging from New Zealand’s apple industry would increasingly impact production and marketing throughout the world and added that high productivity gains helped deliver outstanding performance, ahead of its closest rivals Chile and the United States.. . .

Fonterra pays winter milk premium but transport costs eat into profit – Gerard Hutching:

Fonterra and other processors are paying a premium for milk collected during winter but farmers have been cautioned the payments are not the bonanza they seem.

South Island farmers are especially finding it hard to make a good profit because their milk has to be transported to Christchurch, for which they pay a higher transport surcharge.

In the North Island, Fonterra pays an average of $3.15 per kilogram of milksolids for the months of June and July – totalling $9.90 (based on the base price being $6.75 kg/MS). . .

The Perth Valley Project – what is it all about?

As reported in previous updates, we have recently begun working in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Predator Free 2050 Limited on a new research programme at a 12,000 hectare site within the Perth River Valley (South Westland).

Earlier this month we worked with West Coast Film to produce a short video about this ambitious and exciting programme of work, which aims to completely remove possums (and potentially rats) from the site and prevent them from re-establishing. . . 

Move over kale – steak is the new superfood – Amanda Radke:

Despite the decline in beef consumption in recent decades, America’s favorite protein is still a punching bag for many of our nation’s health woes. From cancer to diabetes to heart disease and more, everyone loves to point the finger at beef and ignore the fact that this product is a nutritional powerhouse packed with zinc, protein, highly absorbable iron, B vitamins and brain-fueling saturated fats.

Yet, this misguided rhetoric is complete white noise when we begin to look at diets that avoid animal fats and proteins altogether.

In a recent article from The Telegraph, Sarah Knapton studies* the long-term effects of vegetarian diets. Her conclusion — going meatless can lead to genetic mutations that raise the risk of heart disease and cancer.

(*I have no idea of the scientific value of this study)

 


Rural round-up

May 28, 2018

Dairy farmers are an easy target and not alone in environmental guilt– Lyn Webster:

 As a dairy farmer I hear a lot of criticism about the perceived environmental impact of farming animals on land, and this has made me extremely environmentally aware.

Everywhere I look I see the environmental impact of humans: people just moving around, eating, breathing and living their lives.

Every buying decision we make has an impact – whether it be food, clothes off the internet from China or an overseas trip. TV advertising incessantly tells us to buy more and more things to make us happy, to make our children happy and to tick off our bucket list.  

Big shops bring us zillions of dollar’s worth of colourful plastic shaped into seemingly desirable objects, many of which are discarded quickly in the shape of broken toys, cracked garden gnomes and punctured plastic swimming pools. . . 

Sharemilker protects his herd ahead of Gypsy Day – Gerald Piddock:

A nervous Calvin Lauridsen​ has done all he can to protect his prized dairy herd from Mycoplasma bovis ahead of next week’s Gypsy Day.

The Arapuni farmer is in the final stages of packing up and leaving the 138 hectare farm he and wife Nadine have 50:50 share milked with 440 cows for the past eight years.

All that is left on the farm are a few items of machinery and his dairy herd, which is being picked up on Monday , the same day Cabinet will make a final decision whether to try and eradicate the disease or shift to a management regime.

So far, the cattle disease has spread to 39 farms since July last year, including the latest addition of a dairy farm near Cambridge.  . .

There’s more risk on moving day – Hugh Stringleman:

Several hundred sharemilkers and their cows will move farms on Gypsy Day with extra time-consuming and costly animal health precautions because of Mycoplasma bovis.

The spread of at-risk properties shows precautions must be taken for cattle movements in all dairying regions of the country, DairyNZ extension general manager Andrew Reid said.

About 3000 of the nation’s 12,000 dairy farms have sharemilkers and the standard contract length is three years.

Therefore up to 1000 herds could move at the end of the season though more likely several hundred will move on June 1, Reid said. . .

Former Fonterra director calls for chair Wilson to resign – Jamiie  Grey:

A former director of Fonterra has called on chairman John Wilson to “move on” after what he said was the co-operative’s ongoing underperformance.

Fonterra this week issued its nine-month business update which featured a strong farmgate milk price but which also highlighted a downward pressure on the company’s earnings.

Taranaki-based Harry Bayliss, a founding director who served on the board from 2001 to 2006, sent an email to existing board members on March 31 calling for Wilson to step down. A spokesman for Fonterra said it had no comment to make. . . 

Getting the good oil in Central – Yvonne O’Hara:

This season’s long summer has resulted in a bumper harvest for olive growers in Central Otago.

Lowburn’s Stephen Morris, his wife Olivia and his in-laws Alistair and Sue Stark own Olive Press Central Otago (Opco) on the family’s vineyard, St Bathans Range, near Cromwell.

Mr Morris has been busy during the past three weeks cold-processing olives to produce extra virgin olive oil,

The good summer has meant the fruit produces more oil with a better flavour, and promises to be one of the best they have had. . . 

Droving journey highlights ongoing drought in Queensland – Sally Cripps:

When Jodie Muntelwit and PJ Elliott decided to put 1200 head of their cattle on the road last October, they imagined it would only be for a month or two.

Eight months later, the mob of mostly weaners, under the care of Ned Elmy, an offsider and Ned’s 18 dogs, is trudging towards home at Corfield, living on hope and whatever Queensland’s stock routes can offer.

The season didn’t give PJ and Jodie the break they’d hoped for on their country north of Winton last summer, and the 150mm single fall in March at Weeba and Enryb Downs brought a half-hearted pasture response from most of their paddocks. . . 


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