Rural round-up

May 25, 2017

Top dairy woman says industry must ponder its future – Pam Tipa:

A major issue facing the dairy industry is “how much to grow,” says the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Jessie Chan-Dorman.

“What is a sustainable growth aspiration for our industry? [We need to] actually put a stake in the ground about what sustainable growth looks like,” Chan-Dorman told Rural News.

“That conversation [is needed] not just among ourselves but – like it or not – with all the wider parties, the New Zealand public, who have an interest in where the dairy industry is heading. . .

Event manager carves out dairy career niche – Sudesh Kissun:

The first solo woman winner of the Dairy Manager of the Year title, Hayley Hoogendyk, hopes to be a role model for others switching to a career in farming.

Hoogendyk (28) left her job as an events manager and took up dairy farming five years ago.

In March she won the Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year competition; earlier this month she was crowned the national winner at the Dairy Industry Awards final in Auckland.

Hoogendyk told Rural News she had not expected to win. . .

Milk price great news:

Today’s Fonterra milk price forecast of $6.50 for the 2017-18 season, coupled with the revised price of $6.15 for the current season, is great news for dairy farmers, says DairyNZ.

It is great news too for the country as it will boost the regional and national economies.

While welcoming the forecast increase, DairyNZ’s chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says he needs to challenge farmers to ‘make hay while the sun shines’.

“By this I mean that farmers need to take advantage of the milk price increases to pay down debt, and carry out the likes of deferred maintenance,” he says. . .

Fonterra forecast signals dairy industry revival:

The revival in fortunes of dairy farmers has been highlighted today by Fonterra’s announcement that they are increasing the milk price for the current season-lifting its payout from $6.00 to $6.15/kg milksolids for the year ending 30 May 2017.

Fonterra’s favourable forecast wasn’t unexpected and reflects the recent trend of increasing global dairy prices, which has fostered more confidence amongst the markets.

“Many dairy farmers throughout the country will be enjoying their lunch today. This is great news and comes after a turbulent few years where the industry has been under the pump,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Chair. . .

Higher milk pay-out puts $3.5bn into farmers’ pockets – Fonterra – Alexa Cook:

A milk pay-out of $6.15 a kilogram of milk solids this season will give farmers an extra $3.5 billion compared to last season, says Fonterra.

The co-operative has lifted its pay-out for the season by 15 cents and announced an opening forecast for next season of $6.50 kg/ms.

Milk prices have come a long way from last season’s pay-out of $3.90, and the dairy index is now at its highest in about three years. . .

Ways to keep nutrients out of waterways – Nicole Sharp:

How can we reduce sediment, phosphorus and E. coli getting in to waterways?

AgResearch scientist Tom Orchiston put the question to farmers along with giving advice on good management practices onfarm at Dairy NZ’s Farmers Forum on May 4.

Sediment in waterways reduced the habitat and disrupted the eco-system in streams, he said. . . 

Lewis shows her class – Alan Williams:

Vivienne Lewis is responsible for the results of one of the biggest shearing jobs in New Zealand and the work has won her the NZ Wool Classers Association crossbred wool merit award.

Her team handled the shearing of the 30,000 ewes, 10,000 two-tooths, 12,000 lambs and 700 rams on the sprawling Ngamatea Station near Taihape in the central North Island.

It was a very big clip and the Canterbury Wool Scour-sponsored award was won for the manner of its preparation and classing and presented at the association’s annual meeting in Christchurch in mid-May. . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand confirms board positions:

The Directors of Beef + Lamb New Zealand have re-elected Northland farmer James Parsons as the Chairman for another year.

Parsons has been the Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand since 2014 and has represented the Northern North Island as its Farmer Director since 2009.

The Board has also elected Gore farmer, and Southern South Island Farmer Director Andrew Morrison, as the Deputy Chairman, when it met for its May meeting. . .


Rural round-up

May 24, 2017

One quick click can save a life – Sally Rae:

It’s a message you see regularly on roadside signs and on the television – a simple click saves lives.

Had that split-second decision been made on a Friday night three weeks ago in rural South Canterbury, a wife might still have a husband and two young children a father.

Amid her grief, it is a message  Paul Dee’s widow, Julie, wants to reinforce in a national campaign.

As she sees it, she is in a privileged position to potentially help save other lives by getting people to change their thinking.

Mr Dee (46) was killed on April 28 in an ATV side-by-side buggy roll-over,  a stone’s throw from his Waihao Downs home, near Waimate. . . 

Big things expected of Te Mana lamb – Sally Rae:

Te Mana Lamb, the product of the Omega Lamb Project, has been officially launched by Prime Minister Bill English in Hong Kong.

Promoted as being the world’s tastiest and healthiest lamb, the project is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

It involved bringing healthy fat back on to the menu by producing lambs with naturally higher polyunsaturated fatty acids, intramuscular fat and omega-3.

Guests at a gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, attended by Mr English and the Hong Kong business community, were among the first international diners to try Te Mana Lamb. . . 

Sweet finish key to success for winning blue cheese – Pam Tipa:

Much of the success of Whitestone’s Vintage Windsor Blue cheese comes down to North Otago milk, with the cows grazing off grass from limestone soils, says chief executive Simon Berry.

Their unique mould strain they developed themselves is the other flavour aspect.

“It has a sweet finish no one else in the world has. When taken onto the international stage it stands out,” Berry told Dairy News. . .

Money will attract rural volunteers – Neal Wallace:

Rural health leader Martin London hopes a $59 million Government investment to double crew ambulances will also attract more rural volunteers to the service.

London, the chairman of the Rural Health Alliance, said the boost from the funding needed to be supported by adequate training of ambulance crews.

If that happened, he was optimistic the spirit and confidence it created would encourage new volunteers to join rural ambulance services. . . 

Water Accord business as usual – Peter Burke:

The targets in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord are effectively becoming normal business practice for dairy farmers, says a DairyNZ director, Alister Body.

He made his comments at the release of a three year review of the accord, which covers a range of environmental targets dairy farmers are encouraged to achieve voluntarily. All dairy companies – except Westland which runs its own scheme — support the targets, as do the regional councils, Federated Farmers and some other agri-related organisations.

Body says the accord was agreed to and signed without a specific end date, but the signatories agreed to the three-year report on what has and has not been achieved. . .

Hops production in NZ slumps by 10% – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand hop production is down by about 10 percent, with the yield of some varieties falling by 30 percent.

The New Zealand Hops co-operative says its 18 growers, which are in the Nelson region, produced about 750 tonnes of hops, which was 33 tonnes less than the year before.

Chief executive Doug Donelan said the weather had not been right since spring.

“The growing season wasn’t very good. We had a cold summer and prior to that during the early stages it was a very wet spring. The two things you really don’t want when you’re growing hops.” . .

All New Zealanders to see connectivity benefits:

The Government is committed to making New Zealand’s communications network one of the best in the world, Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.

Minister Bridges spoke at the 2017 Rural Connectivity Symposium in Wellington today.

“In 2009 the internet in New Zealand was slow, and many people didn’t have adequate access at all – particularly in rural areas,” Mr Bridges says.

“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Over 1.1 million households and businesses can now connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband, and over one-third of those are already connected. . . 


Dairying making good progress on protecting waterways

May 16, 2017

Dairy farmers have made significant progress on their commitment to protecting dairy waterways, according to a new progress report on the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord ‘Three Years On’.

The independently audited report shows that 97 percent of dairy cattle are fenced off from waterways on farms. That equals 26,197km of measured Accord waterways excluded from dairy cattle or the equivalent of 12 trips by road from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

National levels of significant non-compliance for dairy effluent systems on farms have dropped to their lowest ever, at 5.2 percent (down from 7 percent in 2013-14).

Eighty-three percent of farmers (compared to 56 percent in 2013-14) are now getting nitrogen information to help them farm more responsibly – with 9,517 nutrient budgets processed last year. The nitrogen management programme collects data to show nitrogen loss on-farm. This enables farmers to make improvements to their farm systems to reduce nitrogen loss and improve efficiency of use.

More than 99 percent of 44,386 regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts to protect local water quality.

DairyNZ CEO Dr Tim Mackle, says it’s heartening to see what farmers have achieved in the past three years.  “I acknowledge that there is still some work to do, but dairy farmers are making a positive difference.

The decline in water quality occurred over time and will take time to reverse but most dairy farmers are making significant, and expensive, efforts to protect and enhance waterways.

“They have made great strides since the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was launched in 2013. Dairy farmers made a commitment to good management practices and the actions they have taken, both large and small, are reflected in these results. The really special thing is that they have made this commitment voluntarily, and I take my hat off to them”, says Dr Mackle.

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther says that since the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was launched in 2013, the industry has made significant progress on meeting it’s environmental commitments.

“The annual process of independent auditing of results gives a high degree of assurance that real progress is occurring against targets”, she says.

This is good progress on a long journey. Farmers have done a lot but there’s still more to be done to clean up waterways by both rural and urban people.

You can read more about the Water Accord here.


Rural round-up

May 10, 2017

Be ‘loud and proud’ Guy:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the dairy industry should be ‘loud and proud’ about their environmental credentials.
Speaking at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland on Saturday night, Guy acknowledged the great work down by farmers to protect the environment.

He noted that 26,000km of waterways have been voluntarily fenced off.

“We need to continue to tell this story not only to New Zealanders but to consumers all over the world,” he says. . .

Crunch time approaches for Ruataniwha water storage scheme – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A decision on the future of the controversial Ruataniwha water storage scheme in the Hawke’s Bay is looming, with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council set to consider a review on its risks at a special meeting tomorrow.

The council is to consider the findings of its review into the scheme and is likely to seek further advice before a formal decision is made on its future at a council meeting on May 31, it said in a statement. The review examines the legal, financial, economic, engineering and environmental elements of the scheme, and the implications of withdrawing from it. . .

Cream of dairy crop found:

New Zealand’s top dairy farmers were announced in front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre on Saturday.

Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was named the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $190,000. . .

Pasture is an excellent feed, unless you mismanage it – John Roche:

In reviewing old research for a history paper I am writing, I came across two quotes that I thought made for as interesting a discussion today as they did 70-80 years ago when they were first uttered.

The first, from the United States in 1936, states that “if a cow will eat enough immature grass to provide the required digestible nutrients and if this grass has a normal content of minerals, her ration is not likely to be deficient in any of the essential food constituents” – Woodward, 1936 . . .

Confusion cleared up :

Carrying a passenger on a quad bike is allowed only when there is no reasonable alternative, a clarification from WorkSafe states.

WorkSafe acknowledged farmers and others using quad bikes for work needed the policy clarified so they clearly understood what was acceptable in terms of carrying passengers.

It was acceptable only when there was no reasonable alternative, having considered factors such as availability of alternative vehicles, terrain and rider and passenger capability. . .

Book offers career options in farming – Peter Burke:

A new booklet aimed at inspiring young people to make a career in the dairy industry is newly published by DairyNZ.
The 32 page booklet looks at dairy farming, agriscience and agribusiness.

Opening with the value of dairying to New Zealand, it poses questions to help young people decide if the dairy sector is for them. The questions are on the themes of farming, science and business. . .

Footrot Flats made us laugh at ourselves – and talk about love, life, apartheid and more – Joyce Wyllie:

 Humour is a generous gift and I value the saying “a merry heart does good like a medicine”.

Looking at the Footrot Flats cartoon strips I recognise ourselves, our animals, our quirks and our mistakes and can laugh at them.

Murray Ball had a tremendous talent for drawing, an ingenious imagination, and above all an astute eye and ear for portraying real rural people and events. Sadly Murray died recently and I give tribute to him and his amazing gift.


Price of Milk fails fairness test

April 11, 2017

Sunday asked is our love affair with dairy farming over? and promoted this week’s programme as giving the farmers’ side of the story.

It was supposed to provide some balance to the anti-farming stories which have dominated media and it failed.

Jamie Mackay devoted most of yesterday’s edition of The Country to the reaction.

He interviewed Federated Farmers Dairy chair Andrew Hoggard and Waikato-based farm management consultant John Dawson:

Hoggard found the show “frustrating” as he was expecting to see farmers’ “heartfelt” reactions to criticism levelled at them in the media. Instead Andrew says he saw two farms being unfairly compared to each other which he believes would have created an unbalanced view for those not accustomed to farming.

John Dawson has a lot of clients on the Hauraki Plains where Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm was filmed in the documentary. He says Flint’s farm is not typical and there was a lack of “penetrating” questions for the farm that Flint’s was compared to.

Central Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farmer Steve Wyn-Harris and Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum were equally incensed.

Wyn-Harris was looking forward to a balanced show where farmers would finally be able to tell New Zealand their side of the story. Within minutes of watching he says his “heart sank” as soon as he saw shots of Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm.

Wyn-Harris is so incensed he has laid a complaint with TVNZ and is fully committed to taking it the Broadcasting Standards Authority if need be. . . 

Sunday’s Facebook page  has hundreds of comments, almost all of which are critical of the show.

It also includes a post from the show’s front man Cameron Bennett saying:

We went to the Hauraki Plains with no agenda. We happened upon (as explained) Gavin Flint and he kindly showed us around. 

Happened upon? That might well be the case, but why didn’t the show use more examples.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle writes:

. . .Last year when we heard about this documentary, we approached the production company to provide information and we offered them farmers and industry spokespeople to interview. Several were interviewed, but none of their footage or commentary was included in the final cut.

In my job, I’m fortunate enough to see the good work you are doing on your farms, and the amazing connections you have into your communities.

Good dairying must be made more visible, especially to those that are commentating, those in regulation setting positions, and to our neighbours in the cities and towns.

At DairyNZ we are upping the ante in our efforts to engage with the media, the public and special interest groups to tell the real story of dairying.

As farmers living and working on the land, I urge you to continue to keep up the good work. We all have a role to play in the economy of our country, in staff development, in animal welfare and in care for the environment and our waterways.

To inform and change perceptions it is crucial to reach outside your circle of farming and rural friends. Tell it how it really is to people who may not know much about farming life, but enjoy their milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, etc., which arrives on their tables in a container conveniently purchased from the supermarket. Tell them you produce high quality food, and you’re proud of it. . . .

The Price of Milk  showed two atypical farms, took a far tougher approach to one than it did to the other and failed the fairness test.


Rural round-up

March 31, 2017

Success follows life turnaround – Sally Brooker:

A young man who went into dairy farming after ”falling in with the wrong crowd” at school is earning accolades.

Jack Raharuhi (24) has been named the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year.

He was presented with $4680 in prizes at the recent New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards regional awards dinner in Shantytown.

Mr Raharuhi, who manages a 482ha Landcorp property in Westport with 1150 cows, began milking through a Gateway programme at Buller High School nine years ago.

”Dad pulled me out of school and into full-time employment as a farm assistant for Landcorp. I’ve been with them ever since.”

He has worked his way up the industry, now overseeing a second-in-charge programme that involves training and mentoring others in the Landcorp cluster. . . 

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists – models of Māori innovation:

Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have congratulated this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition sheep and beef farming finalists, celebrating excellence in Māori farming.

Announced today at a Parliamentary event, the three finalists are Omapere Rangihamama Trust (Kaikohe), RA & JG King Partnership, Puketawa Station (Eketahuna) and Pukepoto Farm Trust (Ongarue).

“These beef and sheep farming stations are shining examples of the commitment Māori farmers have to sustainably developing their land for future generations. I’m proud to acknowledge and celebrate the key role Māori play in New Zealand’s primary industries,” says Mr Guy.

“The asset base of the Māori economy is worth over $42 billion, most of which is strongly focussed on the primary industries. Māori collectively own 40% of forestry land, 38% of fishing quota, and 30% of lamb production, to name just a few examples. . . 

From Seychelles to farming at Toko Mouth – Sally Rae:

It’s a long way from the Seychelles to Toko Mouth.

The path to farm ownership for coastal South Otago farmer Simon Davies has been an interesting one, including working in the seafood industry both in New Zealand and abroad.

Mr Davies (45) and his wife Joanna, with their two young daughters Georgina (3) and 7-month-old Juliette, farm Coombe Hay, a 750ha sheep and beef property boasting spectacular sea views.

Toko Mouth, 50km south of Dunedin and 15km southeast of Milton, is at the mouth of the Tokomairiro River and has about 70 holiday homes. . . 

New drought measurement index launched:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed the launch of a new tool to monitor drought in New Zealand’s regions.

Developed by NIWA with the support of the Ministry for Primary Industries, the New Zealand Drought Index uses the best scientific information available to determine the status of drought across the country. It is a tool to acknowledge the onset, duration and intensity of drought conditions.

“Until now there hasn’t been one definitive definition of a drought,” says Mr Guy.

“Applying the latest scientific knowledge and technology like this index does, helps us to know exactly what is happening and can better inform producers, agri-businesses, councils and the Government to make the right decisions at the right time.” . . 

New Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council National Chairman:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council has elected Marton farmer, William Morrison as its next national chairman.

Morrison replaces retiring King Country farmer, Martin Coup who has been the chairman since 2012.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Councils are aligned to the organisation’s geographic electorates and they were established in 2010 as a network for guiding and advising Beef + Lamb New Zealand in identifying farmers’ extension and research and development needs. . . 

Prominent Southland station up for sale:

One of Southland’s largest farming stations is on the market for the first time in 40 years.

Strong interest is expected in the sale of Glenlapa Station, a significant property encompassing 5271 hectares of prime pastureland in Northern Southland. The expansive station has a tremendous capacity of more than 20,000 stock units, making it one of the largest and most successful farms in the region.

New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty sales associate Russell Reddell says it’s uncommon for a property of this magnitude to be up for public sale. . . 

DairyNZ research on show at Farmers’ Forums:

The latest DairyNZ science and innovation will be revealed at Farmers’ Forum events across the country in May.

A selection of science topics will feature at the regional forums, free to farmers, with DairyNZ staff summarising key research.

Session one, ‘Are you making money from milk or milk from money?’, will look at the results of DairyNZ’s farm systems research into the profitability of marginal milk (the milk produced after fixed costs are paid). In response to debate around which farming system is most profitable, DairyNZ has assessed the cost of marginal milk from data analyses and farm systems research. The findings will be presented to help farmers consider marginal milk in their decision making. . . 

Use the natural resource in your own backyard says Australian developer:

New Zealand is missing a prime opportunity to combine its sustainable timber resources with an innovative manufacturing system to build faster and more efficiently.

Daryl Patterson, Head of Operational Excellence at Lend Lease Australia, states Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is that missing link.

CLT is an engineered wood system made from several layers of dimensional lumber boards, stacked crossways and bonded together.

Speaking at the Wood Processors & Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA) and Property Council New Zealand Tall Timber Buildings seminar last week, Mr Patterson questioned why, given New Zealand’s ample timber resources, there is not greater use of CLT in our construction sector. . . 


Rural round-up

March 29, 2017

Health risk concerns for orchard workers – Pam Jones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competition provided impetus – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

Calamity on the Coast – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

Digging into low productive results:

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

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

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

Our Pinot is pushing the boundaries:

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

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

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

More timber trees for planting 2017:

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

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

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


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