Rural round-up

18/01/2022

2022 will be tumultuous for New Zealand’s primary industries – Keith Woodford:

This year is not going to be just any year for the food and fibre industries. On the prices front, things should go well for most products. However, on the policy front, it is the second year of the three-year political cycle, and that has implications.

This is the year when key implementation decisions must be made on multiple political issues. It is all about setting up the glide path for the next election.

For the food and fibre industries, and this includes carbon farming, these key decisions have potential to determine the path for the next decade. I reckon there is going to be quite some heat, and I am not referring here to the weather.

First of all, the good news. . . 

‘I’m where I’m meant to be’ farm life works out – Sally Rae:

Central Otago agronomist Jaimee Pemberton traded the city for country life and has not looked back. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae.

When Jaimee Pemberton was growing up in Timaru, she pondered three very different career paths — agriculture, marine biology and drama.

Those diverse options could have resulted in very different lifestyles, but the 28-year-old former city girl has no regrets about choosing a career in the rural sector.

“I just think I’m where I’m meant to be,” she said. . .

Stag fetches $135k at annual sale – Sally Rae:

The first stag on offer at Netherdale Red Deer Stud’s annual elite sale at Balfour this week lived up to its sale-opening billing, fetching a whopping $135,000.

The 3-year-old stag, which attracted a “huge” amount of interest before the sale, was sold by David and Lynley Stevens to a South Canterbury syndicate.

Mr Stevens described it as a big, quality animal with a “beautiful” head, and one that he would normally have kept as a stud sire if he had not had something else in the paddock.

It was a record price for the stud which was holding its 35th sale. . . 

Free lunchtime chats to boost farmer resilience :

Three of New Zealand’s foremost motivational speakers on resilience and mental wellbeing will offer tips for farmers and growers in a series of free online lunchtime talks.

Isolation and the sometimes stressful nature of agriculture, with severe weather and volatile trading conditions out of their control, puts pressure on rural families.

“The added restrictions, health risks and supply chain issues of COVID-19 have added another significant layer to that stress burden,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

That’s why Feds, along with the Dairy Women’s Network and DairyNZ, were delighted when a bid for funding from Worksafe’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund was successful. . .

Trev puts data squarely in the hands of the farmer with API :

Trev is excited to announce the release of its API, for the first time putting operational data squarely in the hands of the farmer.

The API development has been designed for farmers to build and control their Trev data, enabling Trev customers to automate data sharing within their own systems or to permission data to be shared with approved industry partners.

Trev customers have always enjoyed the benefit of building their own datasets and extracting insights directly from the Trev platform. This new API means farmers can now automatically transfer data to other platforms and services internally and externally, reducing their data burden.

Data can be taken directly from Trev’s platform and plugged into a farming business’ own internal systems and processes. Or should a customer choose, Trev has the ability to send farmer permissioned data to approved industry partner integrations. . .

Dairy farm gets $150G state grant to better manage cow manure:

Mecox Bay Dairy, a multigeneration family farm established in 1875, was a dairy until the 1950s, then a commodity potato grower before returning to cows in 2003. The farm, a rural expanse surrounded by multimillion dollar Hamptons homes, raises cows for beef and cheese and is one of a handful of Long Island operations offering sought-after raw cow’s milk.

The money will help Mecox Bay manage the excrement from its 23 milk-producing Jersey cows, a small and docile breed known for its high-fat milk, and more easily turn their manure into fertilizer.

A 1,000-pound dairy cow produces about 80 pounds of waste per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unmanaged manure contributes nutrients, disease-causing microorganisms and oxygen-demanding organics into the environment, the agency said. . .


Rural round-up

10/01/2022

What farmers are hoping for in 2022 – Mazz Scannell:

If New Zealand beef and lamb farmers were asked what they hoped for in 2022, the answers would be quick: two inches of rain, a slowing of rising land prices, reliable supply chain, consistent kill cycle, good product prices, the ability to manage political change and good staff.

There are more than 44,000 people employed in New Zealand’s meat and wool sector, and the scarcity of seasonal and specialist workers is an ongoing challenge. The one thing farmers can do is to keep the staff they have and grow the next generation of farmers.

Wairarapa farmer Derek Daniell says teamwork is what farming is all about. He knows of farms that have had the same staff for 30 or 40 years, even if the ownership has changed.

“It is about working together as a team and enjoying each other,” he said. “When word gets out someone is leaving, they are usually shoulder-tapped by someone else who wants to take their place.” . .

Reward for improving land – Annette Scott:

Informing policymakers can be challenging, but Professor Richard McDowell has a special interest in presenting understandable science and has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to environmental policy. He talked with Annette Scott.

Richard McDowell has been awarded the Hutton Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for his outstanding contributions to the knowledge of contaminant losses from land to water and informing environmental policy.

The Hutton Medal is awarded for significantly advancing understanding in the animal, earth or plant sciences.

A land and water scientist, McDowell works between AgResearch and Lincoln University making a major contribution to the scientific understanding of contaminant losses from land to water. . . 

Planning key to combat higher costs :

Strong financial management, grazing management and people management skills will help dairy farmers buffer rising input costs and produce milk more efficiently.

That’s the message from DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle who says despite a high milk price, high-cost pressures are expected to continue for at least the next couple of years.

Statistics New Zealand released its latest farm expense price index last month which showed large inflation costs for farmers over the past two years.

Four key farming costs have experienced inflation of more than 10 per cent between 2019 and 2021, including fertiliser with a 15.9 per cent increase; cultivation, harvesting and animal feed with an 18.9 per cent increase; electricity with a 21 per cent increase; and stock grazing costs which are 36.9 per cent higher this year than they were in 2019. . .

Dog training from the best – Hugh Stringleman:

Two of the best dog trialists in the country have been sharing their skills with a new generation, giving back to the community that has been the base of their own success. Hugh Stringleman went along to their training day.

The art of sheep dog training, for on-farm working and for competition, was taught in early December at the Maungakaramea farm of Murray and Kathy Child.

It was the Northland training day of the nationwide Purina Pro Plan training series, hosted on this occasion by the Maungakaramea Sheep Dog Trial Club.

Murray does up to 12 of these training days around the North Island every year in his role as a Purina Pro Plan ambassador. . . 

South Island Cheese Festival: a grate day to Brie a cheese lover!:

The South Island Cheese Festival – owned by Cranky Goat Ltd will be returning for its second ever time next month and will be located at the beautiful location of Clos Henri Vineyard kicking off from 10am on Saturday 5th February.

Cheese companies from all over New Zealand will be coming together to celebrate cheese! Giving visitors the perfect opportunity to explore the large variety of flavours, textures and milk types. There will be an abundance of cheeses on offer alongside a large selection of produce that compliments cheeses, giving visitors an instant high quality picnic to enjoy on the stunning lawn at Clos Henri Vineyard.

The South Island Cheese Festival is proud to be hosting incredible companies such as Meyer Cheese, Barrys Bay Cheese, A Lady Butcher, Proper Crisps – Crackerbread, Peckham’s Cider, Easy Cheesy Food Truck and many more! . . 

‘It’ll take away our livelihoods’: Welsh farmers on rewilding and carbon markets

Teleri Fielden is suddenly very despairing. After skirting around the topic for the best part of an hour at her farm in Snowdonia, we’re discussing rewilding and the idea of restoring land to a more natural state and creating more nature-friendly farming practices.

Wales has become one of the focal points of the debate playing out all over the world about how farms and rewilding can work together. Supporters of rewilding say the two can co-exist, but that farming has to change given it is the biggest contributor to nature loss in the country. . .

Around 1 in 6 species in the country are currently at risk of extinction and birds like turtle doves and corn buntings have already gone from Wales’ skies.

With close to 90% of land in Wales used for agriculture, there is currently little space for wildlife to exist free from the influence of farming. Rewilding, which can involve encouraging and supporting wildlife on-farm through replanting hedgerows as well as giving over unproductive land to nature, could help reverse the biodiversity decline. . .


Rural round-up

27/12/2021

Farms can reduce numbers but how much do you want to pay for food? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It used to be a refrain at the family dining table: “Why don’t farmers just…” followed by topical words such as “stop using glyphosate, insecticides, fertilisers?” or, more recently, “…reduce animal numbers”. The topic depended upon what had featured in the news, but my response, whatever the actual question, was generally along the lines of “they can – how much would you like to pay for food?

The timing, as the family tucked into the delicious offerings of farmers and growers, prepared by members of the family, was impeccable as the food purchasers remembered the size of the bill at checkout.

What generally isn’t remembered is that the food bill is now a smaller component of discretionary income than it was thirty years ago. Food prices have increased more slowly than incomes because of ever more efficient production to do with technological advances.

The dinner table questions were and are important. Scientists challenge the status quo and try to identify what knowledge is needed to make improvements. . .

Water battle won but ‘sour taste’ remains – Sally Rae:

“A hollow victory.”

You might think Tarras farmers would be whooping with joy that years of legal wrangling over the Lindis River could finally be over.

Instead, Alastair Rutherford feels it is a “hollow victory” after a High Court decision to dismiss Otago Fish and Game’s appeal against a 2019 Environment Court decision to set the minimum flow at 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640l/s.

“We still can’t get excited about it. For all the effort and time and energy, it’s still got a sour taste,” Mr Rutherford, a fourth-generation farmer, said. . .

King Country shearers set new world record:

Five King Country shearers have set a record with 3740 lambs shorn in nine hours.

The crew from Te Kuiti-based Fagan Shearing, aged between 18 and 35, began the effort at Te Pa Station at 5am on Wednesday.

Delwyn Jones, Llion Jones, Jack Fagan, Reuben Alabaster and Kelly Brill all beat their previous best, with their achievements establishing a nine-hour five-stands world strongwool lambshearing record.

The highlight of the day was Jack Fagan’s total of 811 lambs. . . 

TracMap founder cheers Ag rite help OmniEye board

TracMap founder Colin Brown has been appointed chairman of the board of Dunedin-based agritech company OmniEye.

OmniEye was spun off from Greg Peyroux and Benoit Auvray’s established company Iris Data Science. The non-intrusive camera-based scoring and monitoring system provided farmers with an “intelligent eye” over livestock, allowing for better decision-making for the welfare of their herd.

Mr Brown grew TracMap to become one of the country’s largest agricultural GPS businesses before taking the technology offshore, selling its Ag Aviation GPS system worldwide, and the ground-based job management system into the viticulture and orcharding sectors in Australia and North America.

Since retiring from TracMap, Mr Brown has become a part-time independent director and is currently a board trustee on the Malcam Charitable Trust and also chairman of Vibation Action Ltd, another Dunedin-based tech startup. . .

Mackenzie students’ frost mat invention for water troughs bags award – Shourabh Vittalmurthy,:

A trio of Mackenzie College students have scooped an award for their invention which prevents water troughs freezing over in the winter.

Year 11 and 12 students, Amy Hay, 16, Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15, won the Te Arahanga Primary Industries National Excellence Award at the Young Enterprise Scheme National Pitches and Awards ceremony on Wednesday.

Their Flexi-Mat FrostEase invention is an outdoor grade PVC canvas and plastic mat welded together to create a layer of insulation to prevent troughs freezing over in winter.

The award, which is given in recognition to the YES company with the best business product relating to food or fibre, also came with $1000 prize money. . . 

Feds launches audio media platform for farming conversations :

Federated Farmers has launched an audio-based mobile communications platform, FEDSvoice, to deliver quality information to farmers and moderate safe conversations celebrating rural life and discussing the significant challenges that lie ahead.

A challenge that is top of most farmers’ minds is He Waka Eke Noa – the primary industries’ response to climate change and an agricultural emissions pricing mechanism. Feds National President Andrew Hoggard says it was the logical first discussion for FEDSvoice given the consultation date is closing in February.

“He Waka Eke Noa potentially has extremely serious consequences for rural families. We have made podcasts , hosted webinars, and we are also taking part in a roadshow in February with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ, because we simply must help farmers to understand and engage in the consultation process.

“FEDSvoice complements all of these and will keep conversation flowing and ensure we are accurately representing farmers.” . . 


Rural round-up

21/12/2021

Rural residents near Fielding continue cleaning up after deluge – Jimmy Ellingham:

Forestry slash and mud litter properties after destructive torrent of water destroys road and leaves 48 homes flooded.

The runoff stream snaking through Julie Rush’s 12-hectare property is back to its normal harmless trickle.

During last Wednesday’s downpour, however, it was a torrent of water, depositing forestry slash and mud over her garden and in her house.

“It was like a tsunami and I could see it coming. Then it folded over and it just came at you. I stood there with my mouth open. I couldn’t believe what I was watching.” . . 

Levy bodies advocacy questioned – David Anderson:

North Otago farmer Jane Smith says she remains concerned that levy organisations appear to have little appetite for gaining full and transparent farmer mandates before taking their advocacy positions.

Smith believes a clear example is the looming emissions regulation and targets for the agricultural sector – where she claims DairyNZ took a position of a methane reduction of 10% by 2030, whereas Beef+Lamb NZ and Federated Farmers took the globally-accepted reduction of 3% by 2030 and 10% by 2050.

“This is a totally unacceptable captain’s call by the dairy sector with no science or practicality underpinning it,” Smith told Rural News.

“The only rationale that has been given to me for this was that they would gain ‘credibility’ with the Government. I am appalled that DairyNZ would attempt to grab unquantifiable brownie points, whilst throwing the most methane efficient ag sector in the world under the climate bus.” . .

Northland peanut dream one step closer :

A recent Government-backed project proved that peanuts can be grown successfully in Northland. Now, additional government funding is making the next step towards commercialisation possible.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is contributing nearly $700,000 to a new peanut growing trial through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures), with an additional $300,000 in cash and in-kind support from Northland Inc, Picot Productions, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research, and local Northland landowners.

“The findings of a six-month feasibility study we supported through SFF Futures late last year were encouraging,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director of Investment Programmes. “This new project will build upon the initial findings to determine whether it’s financially viable to plant, harvest, and process peanuts at scale.”

Northland Inc is taking the lead in the new project, which will run for two years. . . 

New Zealand apple industry appoints two new associate directors :

New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI) has announced the two appointments to its 2022 Associate Director programme.

Freshmax Exports Asia Sales Manager Greg Sutherland and Mr. Apple Export Sales Executive Naomi Mannering will join the NZAPI board in 2022 as Associate Directors.

The Associate Director programme was introduced in 2019 as a way for NZAPI to grow its future governance and representation pool to provide the board’s selection committee with a pipeline of aspiring directors who have both the knowledge and training for what is involved in governing such an organisation, and in general, acquaint up and coming pipfruit industry managers with the governance of the industry body.

“The programme offers successful candidates a chance to work alongside the NZAPI board and to be mentored by directors, along with receiving the relevant New Zealand Institute of Directors’ training,” says NZAPI board chair Richard Punter . . 

New Tokoroa dairy plant on track as ofi confirms lead contractor:

Tokoroa is a step closer to becoming home to a new state-of-the-art dairy processing plant with the lead contractor being appointed to construct the facility.

ofi has appointed GEA New Zealand Ltd (GEA), with First Principles Contractors as a building partner, to construct its dairy plant in South Waikato.

The new plant will include innovative technology designed to reduce pollution, minimise water and energy use and ensure waste is handled in the most sustainable way possible.

Paul Rennie, Operations Director for ofi in New Zealand, said the company is delighted to work with a partner of GEA’s calibre. . . 

UK opens its doors to Aussie red meat:

Australian beef and sheep meat access to the United Kingdom is now set to be liberalised, with the signing of a free trade agreement between the two nations.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan and the UK Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan have finalised the Australia-UK FTA agreed to in principle by Prime Ministers Morrison and Johnson in June.

Australia will now be better placed to help supply some of the UK’s import requirement for high-quality beef, sheep meat and goat meat, red meat industry leaders said.

“The inking of the FTA solidifies an already close partnership between the two countries,” said Andrew McDonald, chair of the Australia-UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce. . . 


Rural round-up

14/12/2021

200 rural contracting drivers will be granted special entry visas, but farmers fear MIQ delays could cost lives – Alexa Cook:

Two hundred rural contracting drivers will be granted special visas as part of a border exemption for the industry.

The farming sector is grateful, but worries drivers will be delayed by the MIQ lottery system.

Farmers fear someone will die as shortage of experienced overseas workers leads to rise in accidents.
Sectors desperate for staff are still struggling despite promise to let in critical migrant workers.

This farm machinery is more transformer than tractor and takes highly-skilled drivers to operate.

Usually 400 come here from overseas – but only 125 have been allowed in. . .

International dairy workers needed to ease farmer stress :

DairyNZ is relieved the Government has listened to its call to allow more dairy farm assistants into New Zealand in January 2022.

However, the industry-good organisation says more workers are needed and is continuing to push for another 1500 dairy international workers to be let into the country for the 2022 dairy season. The workers will help alleviate crippling staff shortages that are having a serious impact on farmer wellbeing.

Earlier this year the Government said 200 international dairy workers would be allowed into New Zealand on a dairy class border exception – with 50 places available for farm assistants and 150 positions available for herd manager and assistant manager roles.

Today, the Government confirmed it will remove the restrictions on how many farm assistants, herd managers and assistant managers can make up the quota of 200 workers, and allow applications for all roles. . .

Border exceptions the first step in the process Feds says :

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Government has approved border class exceptions for a number of international agricultural workers for early 2022.

The border exceptions will allow approved workers to assist with the shearing and arable sectors over their peak busy period. The Government has also made some changes to the current dairy worker border exception, allowing more dairy farm assistants to meet the high demand for entry level staff around the country.

“For seasonal work such as shearing and the arable harvest it is essential that we bolster our local workforce with talent from overseas,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We are also pleased to see the settings are being changed for the dairy border exception. Farmers across the country are asking for boots on the ground to help milk and feed livestock and the dairy assistant is the right role for doing this.” . . 

O’Connor is confident the DIRA can be tweaked to give effect to farmer vote in favour of Fonterra’s capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Farmers    have  voted overwhelmingly  in  favour  of  a  capital  restructure  for Fonterra—- and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor,   who   previously  raised   concerns about the  plan,  now  says  he  is  confident the  government can  work   with the  board   to  get  the change   across the  line.

Fonterra chair Peter McBride last  week  told  Fonterra’s  meeting:

“Either we’re a corporate or we’re a co-operative. The current model, where we’re trying to have a foot in each camp, is not sustainable”.

Farmer-shareholders  made  it  plain  they  wanted  the  “pure”  co-op rather  than the corporate model. . .

Large spring deliveries of tractors and equipment meeting local demand :

Recent large deliveries of tractors and equipment reflect strong demand throughout the country on the back of strengthening commodity prices, according to Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA).

President Kyle Baxter said the second half of 2021 continued the exceptionally strong sales growth of the first half compared to 2020. Overall tractor deliveries to the end of November reflect an average increase in demand by 27%.

“There has been significant growth across the traditional lifestyle 0-60hp segment, which increased by more than 35%, while the 60-100hp horticulture, orchard, viticulture segment up 20% and the 100-120hp dairy sector up 9%.”

The biggest increase was in the 120-250hp mainly arable and dry stock farming sector, which increased 42% compared to 2020. The big agriculture outlays of 250hp+ increased by almost 36%. . . 

Outlook for wool mixed going into 2022 – Elders Wool:

The Australian wool market ticked along quite nicely last week in the penultimate sale before the Christmas auction recess.

There was enough business done in the few days prior to keep the trade active, and a volatile local currency added enough fuel to the fire to make it nice and warm – but not too hot.

In local currency terms, the market lifted by 14 cents a kilogram overall. This was US6c/kg and 8c/kg in Euro.

So, buyers overseas were not affected greatly, and could continue picking up their requirements. . . 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

03/12/2021

Fonterra expected to pay highest milk price since it was formed 20 years ago – Tina Morrison:

Economists have been hiking their expectations for Fonterra’s milk payment to farmers for this season, with most now expecting the co-operative to pay the highest level since it was founded 20 years ago.

In late October, Fonterra lifted and narrowed its forecast for the 2021/22 season to between $7.90 and $8.90 per kilogram of milk solids. The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, increased to $8.40 per kgMS, matching the previous record paid in the 2013/14 season.

Since then, tight milk supply and continued demand have underpinned prices on the Global Dairy Trade auction platform, prompting economists to raise their forecasts even higher, with BNZ and Westpac both picking an $8.90/kgMS milk price, ANZ at $8.80/kgMS and ASB at $8.75/kgMS. . . 

Taxpayers funding anti-dairying messages:

“Some days it’s difficult to comprehend what I see in the news,” says National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“Unbelievably, and thanks to Louis Houlbrooke of The Taxpayers Union and Scoop Independent News, I learnt on Monday taxpayers have funded the anti-dairy documentary ‘Milked’ to the tune of $48,000 — a ‘finishing grant’ given by the New Zealand Film Commission.

“Houlbrooke said in the story the 40,000 Kiwis employed in the dairy sector wouldn’t be happy to know they’ve funded a film that attacks their livelihoods.

“I can tell you right now, as a farmer and MP for a huge rural electorate, we are not! It is a real slap in the face to a sector which brings in 80% of the country’s export revenue. . .

“More milk from fewer cows’ trend continues in a record year for dairy industry :

Kiwi dairy farmers hit a new high for milk production last season with fewer cows, showing that a focus on breeding higher performing cows is paying off.  

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics report, released today by DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), shows that total milk volume, total milksolids and per cow production were the highest on record in the 2020-21 season.

New Zealand has 4.9 million milking cows – down from 4.92 million the previous season, and they produced 1.95 billion kilograms of milksolids.

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle says it is great to see a continuation of the “more milk from fewer cows” trend because it shows a continuing focus on milking better cows and farming even more sustainably. . .

Honey production and yields fall while export volumes remain buoyant for the 2021-21 year:

New Zealand’s national honey production in the 2020/2021 season was down 24% on the previous season and the average honey yield per hive fell 18%, according to the 2021 Apiculture Monitoring Report released by the Ministry of Primary Industries this week.

Beekeeping for the season ended June 2021 proved to be more challenging than recent seasons, with the national honey production down 24% on the 2019/2020 year to 20,500 tonnes, while the average honey yield per hive fell 18% to 25kgs.

These findings will not be surprising to beekeepers, says Apiculture NZ CEO Karin Kos. “Last summer presented more challenging weather conditions than the previous season when the harvest was aided by excellent weather across the country. . . 

NZ Truffle Company plans to be biggest exporter in the Southern Hemisphere  :

Matthew and Catherine Dwan’s aim to use a 139 hectare North Canterbury Farm in a more profitable and planet-friendly way, looks set to create the largest exporter of truffles south of the equator.

In fact, when the NZ Truffle Company’s plantation of 37,500 trees reaches full maturity in 2036, production is expected to be the largest yield in the southern hemisphere.

“At capacity, we’ll be producing around 17,250 kg of Black, White and Burgundy truffles,” says Matthew Dwan, who, along with his partner Catherine set up the NZ Truffle Company in 2017.

The crop, worth between $2500 and $3500 per kilogram, will be exported to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, where there’s a huge demand in the luxury food market for the counter seasonal supply of what’s known as “plant-based caviar”. . . 

Bronte Gorringe pursues her agriculture leadership goals

Bronte Gorringe has always aspired to be a leader in the agricultural industry and sponsorship to attend a renowned development program will bring her closer to her goal.

Ms Gorringe is being sponsored by the DemoDAIRY Foundation to attend the Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program in May next year.

Participants are encouraged to have industry support via sponsorship and DemoDAIRY Foundation would consider supporting additional applicants.

Ms Gorringe had expected to complete the five-day intensive workshop in 2021, but it was delayed due to COVID. . . 


Rural round-up

22/11/2021

Feds honours the life and work of John Luxton:

Federated Farmers wishes to pass on its condolences to the family and friends of former Minister of Agriculture and dairy industry leader John Luxton who passed away today.

“We pay our respects to acknowledge and praise the work John did for New Zealand agriculture, especially the dairy sector,” Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard says.

John was a Member of Parliament from 1987 to 2002 and his political contribution was significant across numerous ministerial roles, including his time as Minister of Agriculture.

“The dairy sector would not be the same if it weren’t for John’s work towards forming DairyNZ and then chairing the organisation between 2008 and 2015. . .

Farmers helping feed Auckland families this Christmas:

Farmers and growers are being asked to help put fresh food on the Christmas table for Aucklanders in need this year.

Federated Farmers has launched a “Farmers Feed Families” campaign aimed at raising funds for the Auckland City Mission.

Feds Gisborne President Toby Williams was dismayed to learn how many more Auckland families were struggling as a result of COVID-19 fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.

“It only costs $135 to provide a box of food for a family of four, with enough good ingredients for about four days’ worth of meals. We are asking fellow farmers to help families pay for good, fresh food for Christmas. . .

Rural connectivity not ready for Covid-19:

Rural New Zealand is facing a COVID crisis thanks to the Government’s failure to secure their digital future, says National’s Digital Economy & Communications and Rural Communities Spokespersons Melissa Lee and Joseph Mooney.

“Alongside the Government’s failure to provide New Zealanders with a plan to get our country back in business and end the MIQ Lottery of misery the Government continues to leave rural connectivity behind causing real fears that families across our regions will be unable to access critical health services and information when COVID strikes their towns.

“Rural New Zealanders have already had to do the hard yards during lockdowns of the past 18 months facing network congestion, poor connectivity options and data limits that have seen many of them having to choose between their child’s education or keeping their businesses afloat. This is morally bankrupt for those working in the primary sectors keeping our economy intact. . .

Crunch is coming for agricultural contractors :

Federated Farmers’ concerns about the serious shortage of experienced agricultural machinery operators is proving justified as summer approaches.

A shortage of experienced operators is being felt across rural New Zealand, and the pressure is building on both farmers and rural contractors, Feds immigration and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Unfortunately, we all saw this coming a long way out. Federated Farmers has repeatedly explained the implications of having no international seasonal rural workers to the Immigration, Primary Industries and Workplace Relations and Safety Ministers, the Primary Production Select Committee and the CEO of WorkSafe.

“The shortage is leaving both contractors and farmers in the lurch and we have serious concerns for the coming season. These are complex machines that require experienced operators,” Chris says. . .

IrrigationNZ makes big strides with plans to deliver more in 2022 :

IrrigationNZ has made great strides in the last 12 months, with a revitalised strategy put to work propelling the organisation to new heights.

The organisation held its annual general meeting (AGM) via Zoom yesterday, and revealed to members that for the first time in three years the organisation has ended the financial year in the black.

Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Vanessa Winning, who has been in the role for a year, is proud of her team’s performance, and is looking forward to continuing the good work into 2022.

“I joined IrrigationNZ just before last year’s AGM. We had just completed a restructure, decided to move the head office to Wellington, and were close to another annual loss,” says Ms Winning. . .

Producer prices increase :

Producer prices increased more in the year ended September 2021 than in any other year for more than a decade, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended September 2021, prices received by producers increased 6.2 percent, and prices paid by producers increased 7.0 percent.

“The increases in prices received and paid by producers in the year ended September 2021 are the largest increases since the years ended March 2009 and December 2008 respectively,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said. . .


Rural round-up

19/11/2021

Timber shortage hits fencing contractors with weeks-long delays :

A shortage of timber means some fencing companies are having to order product months in advance.

Shipping delays related to Covid-19 and an increased demand for new housing have tightened supply of timber this year.

Some have described the shortage of structural timber in New Zealand the worst in living memory.

Mike Renner, who runs Renner Fencing in Marlborough and sits on the board of Fencing Contractors NZ, said he had to order some materials three months in advance. . . 

Checklist helps farmers to be Covid-19 prepared :

Farmers: What’s your plan if someone in your family or among your staff tests positive for COVID-19?

As COVID-19 vaccination rates build and New Zealand begins to transition to coping with the disease without lockdowns and less reliance on managed isolation facilities, the agri-sector and Ministry for Primary Industries have been working together to ensure farmers are prepared.

The latest initiative is a checklist for farmers so that they can tick off preparation readiness in terms of personal wellbeing, and everything a neighbour or someone else coming onto the farm would need to know should key people have to go into MIQ or hospital – right down to the names of dogs and where their food is located.

The checklist is available on the Federated Farmers website and from the other groups that helped put it together: DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, NZ Pork, Deer Industry NZ, Poultry Industry Association of NZ and the Egg Producers Federation of NZ. . . 

Maui Milk signs with new distributor after China trade expo :

A New Zealand sheep milk producer with 13 Waikato-based suppliers has signed with a new Chinese distributor following an international trade expo in China.

The China International Import Export event is normally one of the largest expos each year, and despite Covid-19 forcing organisers to scale things back, it was still a significant show.

Twenty-two New Zealand companies took part in the event, including honey, wine dairy and fruit exporters.

Covid-19 restrictions limited expo visitors this year, but Maui Milk chief executive Leah Davey said there were still about 35,000 potential customers through the doors. . .

Drive to grow skills across the food and fibre sector:

A new partnership between Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games and Farm 4 Life Hub will allow participants in the third annual Allflex Clash of the Colleges to practise their skills before they take the field to compete against secondary students from throughout the mid and lower North Island.

The online video learning platform, Farm 4 Life Hub, has more than 750 videos, all focused on providing people with a better understanding of life and work in the rural sector. Founded by Dairy Farmer Tangaroa Walker, a Kiwi legend with an online social media following of over 250,000, Farm 4 Life Hub videos reach up to 1.6 million people per month, and the total viewership has surpassed 67 million since inception. Farm 4 Life is currently in the early stages of gaining accreditation for its educational videos.

Walker is an avid supporter of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust, and both parties are dedicated to lifting skill levels across the sector. . .

Residency edges closer for shortlist of new organisms :

A tomato plant virus is among seven organisms in line for deregulation, having recently established themselves in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) sought feedback on which new organisms should no longer hold regulatory status as “new” because they are effectively resident in Aotearoa. This deregulation process is conducted under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, for species that arrived after 29 July 1998.

“We have carefully screened the shortlisted candidates, and no longer consider that they are new organisms because they’ve been present in Aotearoa for some time. This is not an assessment of whether or not we want them in the country, just a recognition of their presence here,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s New Organisms group. . . 

Drench resistance silent production suppressor :

Three years ago, Taranaki sheep and beef farmer Graham Fergus began investigating the reason for frustratingly poor lamb growth rates and discovered an underlying drench resistance problem.

It’s a problem that has been impacting on productivity and profitability and is proving difficult to reverse.

In May 2018, Graham carried out a full faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) and found black scour worms (a species of Trichostrongylus ) were resistant to all drench families tested. All other parasites were susceptible to all drench families tested.

After seeking advice from his vets, Graham implemented three parasite management tools targeting pasture, refugia and drenching. . .


Rural round-up

08/11/2021

Farmers urged to create Covid-19 checklist :

Farmers are being urged to create a check list on how to run their farm in case they get Covid-19 and can’t do so themselves.

Federated Farmers and other industry groups arranged an online meeting where farmers could put questions to experts about the virus, isolating on farm and vaccines to experts yesterday.

One specific question was what would happen if they’re not well enough to take care of their stock.

Federated Farmers team leader of industry policy Julie Geange said from a legal stand point the responsibility for animal welfare sits with the owner of the animal or the person in charge. . . 

Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalists announced for season 54 :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Aorangi Regional Final have been selected.

The preliminary stages of the contest have wrapped up for the region, with the top eight competitors selected out of 27, across two district contests (Aorangi North and Aorangi South).

Dairy farmer Peter O’Connor, DairyNZ Extension Partner Hugh Jackson, Senior Machinery Operator Lachlan Angland, Irrigation Management Technician Jess Cunliffe, new mother and casual shepherd Alice Perry, shepherd Tom Adkins, sheep beef dairy and walnut farmer James Hurst, and Daniel Durdle have qualified.

Only one person will win Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year, to qualify for the Grand Final in July, in Whangarei. . . 

Farmlands co-operative announces $8.1m NPBTR :

Rural service and supplies co-operative Farmlands has today announced an $8.1 million Net Profit Before Tax and Rebates for the 2020/21 financial year.

The result comes on the back of $2.7 billion in turnover and $1.1 billion in revenue. Farmlands’ more than 75,000 shareholders nationwide received $94.2 million in monthly rebates, discounts and loyalty reward redemptions over the course of the year.

COVID-19 again played a part in a result Chair Rob Hewett called “a pass mark and little more” and paid tribute to the hard work of staff across a challenging year. . .

Fonterra and VitaKey partner to enhance dairy’s contribution to health and wellness :

Looking to a future where it is likely that many foods will be more valued for their specific health benefits, Fonterra and VitaKey Inc. announced today a transformative dairy science collaboration to further unlock the benefits of Fonterra’s probiotic strains.

VitaKey specialises in precision delivery of nutrition – an emerging area of research that seeks to deliver the right nutrients, in the right amount, to the right part of the body at the right time.

Co-founded by Dr. Robert Langer, the VitaKey delivery technology platform for nutrients is based on technology licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and developed at the Langer Lab, the largest academic biomedical engineering lab in the world.

Utilising VitaKey’s proprietary technology and customised solutions, Fonterra is looking to design dairy products that incorporate targeted and time-controlled release of specific dairy nutrients, starting with probiotics, in a way that locks in the freshness for longer and allows the nutrients to be more active and beneficial in the body. . .

Applications open for 2022 Meat Industry Association scholarships :

Students considering a future career in New Zealand’s red meat industry are encouraged to apply for a 2022 Meat Industry Association (MIA) Scholarship.

Applications are now open for four MIA undergraduate scholarships, providing $5,000 a year for each year of study, and one post-graduate award of $10,000 a year for each year of study up to a maximum of three years for both. The association also runs a mentoring programme connecting the scholars with industry leaders.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the programme is aimed at scholars from across a wide range of study areas, who are looking to contribute their skills to New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Our scholarships provide a great pathway into a productive, innovative and progressive sector. Attracting skilled people and supporting their development is essential to the success of the industry. That in turn is critical to the prosperity and wealth of the country. . . 

Hazard classification underway for two fungicides :

A proposal to update the hazard classification of two fungicides, in line with changes recently made in the European Union and Australia, is now open for public submissions.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has initiated an application for a modified reassessment of the fungicides, propiconazole and tebuconazole. Both are active ingredients in timber treatments, and are also pesticides used on a range of cereal and fruit crops.

There are 125 mixtures approved for use in this country containing either propiconazole or tebuconazole. They can only be applied by trained professionals in commercial settings.

The EPA’s modified reassessment seeks to update the hazard classification of both substances, after investigations by EPA scientists, and conclusions from the EU and Australia on adverse health effects on the reproductive system. . . 


Rural round-up

04/11/2021

Growing regulation causing added stress for dairy farmers – Survey :

A  new industry survey has found many dairy farmers are feeling under pressure, despite strong prices.

DairyNZ has just released its annual View from the Cowshed report, which was based on the feedback of 425 farmers who opted to be surveyed between April and May this year.

It found 17 percent of farmers were feeling more positive than they were last year, but double that number were feeling less positive.

More than half of those surveyed said they or someone on their farm had experienced a mental health issue in the last year. . .

Dairy is a key to New Zealand’s future – Keith Woodford:

No-one has yet found an alternative to dairy for New Zealand’s export-led economy

The New Zealand economy is export-led. That is the way it has to be for a small mountainous country in the South Pacific, largely bereft of mineral resources and with minimal manufacturing, but blessed with a temperate maritime climate and lots of rain.

Alas, both history and current realities tell us that New Zealand has limited international competitive advantage in relation to technology-based engineering. That statement will be offensive to some, but the hard reality is that we cannot be considered world-leading in relation to chemical, electrical or mechanical engineering beyond small niche areas. Nor are we internationally competitive in relation to manufacture of pharmaceuticals.  And when we do develop new technologies, it is not long before the owners typically set up manufacturing closer to the big international markets, using international equity to finance that move.

The painful reality is that pharmaceuticals, computers, televisions, cars, trucks, fuel and even much of our food comes from overseas.  That includes rice, bananas, apricots and most bread-making wheat.  Open the pantry door and have a look at the small print as to where most of the tinned food comes from. Most of it comes from Australia, China and Thailand. . . 

 

 Surfing for farmers kicks off for another summer – Maja Burry:

Farmers are preparing to get back out on the water, with the Surfing for Farmers programme kicking off again this month.

This year the initiative is being run at 21 different beaches around the country, with six new locations coming onboard and hopes of up to a thousand individual farmers taking part.

Surfing for Farmers was launched in Gisborne in 2018 and encourages farmers to take a couple of hours each week to head to the surf to help better manage stress and improve their mental health.

While some regional organisers were waiting a few more weeks for the water to warm, others were diving straight in, with an event planned at Ōhope Beach in Bay of Plenty tomorrow. . .

2021 2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards to proceed nationally :

Despite the interruptions of COVID-19, the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust is delighted to confirm that the 2021/2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) will proceed as planned throughout the country, including the new Catchment Group Award.

Even with the disruptions caused by the changes to alert levels in Auckland, Northland and Waikato the awards have received a pleasing number of entrants across the country allowing the programme to continue albeit with some adjustments to ensure the safety of all involved. “Our regional committees have worked hard with the farmers and growers in their communities to ensure a worthwhile and rewarding programme can be completed,” said Joanne van Polanen, Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. “It is more important than ever that the great initiatives and work being done by farmers and growers is being celebrated and shared with others.”

The BFEA programme has been slightly adapted to make it safer and less onerous for entrants given the current COVID-19 situation. This includes the requirement for all judges and entrants to be vaccinated and one round of judging being used to complete the full judging process, thus limiting the amount of contact between entrants and the judging panels.  . . 

Galatea dairy portfolio offers robust returns :

With the New Zealand dairy sector re-asserting itself as a key global protein source, investment interest in the sector has been heightened in the past year.

This spring the opportunity to invest in dairy’s ongoing fortune has presented itself with a portfolio of properties in the Galatea district, southeast of Whakatane.

The Barkla Portfolio offers a platform for either an owner-operator seeking a larger-scale farm operation, or an investment group wishing to participate in a rural investment capable of delivering strong cash focused returns. . . 

Our history with bee pollen :

Ambrosia – The Food Of The Gods

Our story starts over 100 million years ago. Our world was very different. Two huge land masses dominated, Gondwana in the South and Laurasia in the North. The landscape would have appeared very different to our modern world – towering conifer forests, the first flowering plants had just started to bloom; dinosaurs ruled the land, flying reptiles ruled the sky and giant marine reptiles ruled the sea. Our descendants were little more than small, nocturnal mammals living in the shadow of the mighty T-Rex, Iguanodon and Triceratops.

The first flowering plants hailed the introduction of the hero of our story – the bee. The oldest record we have of a bee dates to over 100 million years ago, preserved perfectly in amber, and bees had probably been around for over 30 million years previously. . . 


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.


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