Rural round-up

March 22, 2018

NZ led study reveals DNA of cattle and sheep bacteria – Eric Frykberg:

International scientists led by New Zealanders have identified the genetic makeup of over 500 species of bacteria found in the gut of cattle and sheep.

Previously the genomes of just 15 rumen microbial genomes were available to the scientific community.

The project was led by the former AgResearch scientist Bill Kelly and a current AgResearch scientist Sinead Leahy.

They were joined by nearly 60 scientists from 14 research organisations across nine countries. . . 

Organic dairy dreams backed by science – Fritha Tagg:

Fritha Tagg meets an organic dairy farmer who has the science to make his dreams come true.

Ged Goode is not shy when it comes to improving his herd. “We want to produce the tastiest, healthiest milk in the world,” he says with a big grin.

Dreams don’t get much bigger but this organic dairy farmer who has farmed south of Tokoroa for 26 years has the track record to back it up and the determination to keep forging ahead. His 800ha (500ha effective, the rest is native bush and forestry) farm is home to 680 organic milk-producing cows.

Now he is embracing A2 milk production and establishing a polled herd. . .

Wetlands hold secret ingredient of future water quality – Aslan Wright-Stow, Tom Stephens, David Burger, DairyNZ, Kit Rutherford, Chris Tanner, NIWA:

Wetlands are the kidneys of the land – filtering, absorbing and transforming contaminants before they can affect streams or lakes. DairyNZ’s water science team and NIWA experts share how wetlands benefit water quality.

A NIWA review of research into seepage wetlands in New Zealand over the past two decades showed wetlands are remarkably effective at stripping nitrate, a problematic form of nitrogen, through a process known as denitrification.

The review offers robust evidence into ‘how’ seepage wetlands benefit water quality. DairyNZ commissioned the NIWA work because it firmly believes that seepage wetlands offer a unique opportunity to reduce nitrogen loss and should be prioritised for stock exclusion and protected against further drainage. The independent research commissioned certainly supports those claims. . . 

Federated Farmers pays tribute to John O’ Connor:

Federated Farmers offers its deepest condolences to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and family after the passing of his father, West Coast dairy farmer John O’Connor.

Mr O’ Connor ONZM was a passionate advocate for the dairy industry and was regarded as a pioneer for introducing dairy to the Buller district on the West Coast.

He was a Nuffield Scholar, Federated Farmers National Dairy Chair, West Coast Provincial President and served for 48 years as a director on the Buller Valley, Karamea and Westland Dairy Companies. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces new board appointment:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Jillian Segal AM to its board of directors.

Ms Segal, a respected Australian company director with extensive regulatory and legal experience, joins the boards of Rabobank New Zealand Limited, as well as Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group’s other major operating entities – Rabobank Australia Limited and Rabo Australia Limited.

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank’s Australia & New Zealand chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said Ms Segal’s extensive board experience across the private and public sectors, including in financial services – coupled with a career-long background in governance and law – made her an “ideal fit” for Rabobank’s New Zealand and Australian boards. . . 

Mammoth kiwifruit property portfolio placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest privately-owned kiwifruit orchard portfolios has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio consists of three separate mid to large-sized productive blocks at Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty – the centre of New Zealand’s highly lucrative kiwifruit-growing industry.

Combined, the three blocks comprise some 98 canopy hectares – on track to produce between 1.2 million – 1.3 million trays once all in mature production, and with the potential to increase production even further. . . 

An easing in the late summer market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 52 fewer farm sales (-11.9%) for the three months ended February 2018 than for the three months ended February 2017.

Overall, there were 384 farm sales in the three months ended February 2018, compared to 396 farm sales for the three months ended January 2018 (-3.0%), and 436 farm sales for the three months ended February 2017.1,524 farms were sold in the year to February 2018, 13.5% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2017, with 20.3% more finishing farms, 19.0% more dairy farms and 32.4% fewer grazing and 36.2% fewer arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2018 was $27,523 compared to $27,395 recorded for three months ended February 2017 (+0.5%). The median price per hectare fell 2.6% compared to January. . . 


Rural round-up

March 7, 2018

Fonterra High Court gagging action triggers ‘Streisand effect’ :

Fonterra’s high court injunction is causing “the Streisand effect”, with Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders now anxious to know what is being kept from them, says Federated Farmers.

National dairy chairman Chris Lewis said his phone has rung constantly with inquiries since Fonterra late on Friday secured an injunction gagging former director Leonie Guiney and preventing a weekly publication publishing or using any “confidential” information it received from her.

The injunction also prevents other unnamed media, including the New Zealand Herald, from spreading any “confidential” information it may have received from Guiney. . .

 Industry commits $11.2m towards Mycoplasma operating costs _ Gerard Hutching:

DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ and the Meat Industry Association will pay $11.2 million towards the costs of combating the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The details of the financial contribution are yet to be worked out.

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said in funding of $85m for operational and compensation costs for the outbreak response, from July 1 last year to the end of the current financial year, was approved by Cabinet on Monday. In December last year, $10m was approved. . . 

M. bovis threat causes heifer competition cancellation –  Brittany Pickett:

Organisers have made the tough decision to drop a commercial dairy heifer competition to avoid the risk of spreading Mycoplasma bovis.

The Royal Agricultural Society-run dairy heifer competitions for Southland, Otago and Canterbury, as well as the South Island competition, which are run yearly through March and April, will not be held this year.

South Island competition convenor Merv Livingstone said the southern district of the agricultural society had made the tough call to cancel the competition because of the possible risk of further spreading the cow disease. . . 

M. bovis fears surround upcoming Gypsy Day – Alexa Cook:

 A Southland vet says farmers in the region are worried about the spread of the cattle disease when dairy herds are moved around on the upcoming Gypsy Day.

Gypsy Day is officially the first of June, and VetSouth director Mark Bryan said almost all the dairy cows in Southland, Otago, and Canterbury will be shifted to new properties for winter grazing or new sharemilking contracts. . .

Cardboard creativity pays dividends for Fonterra:

Fonterra has claimed an industry first with the launch of its ingenious packaging solution for high-quality milk fats, known as AMF. The solution is the first of its kind in the dairy industry.

Challenging the industry norm for storing the light-shy product in giant drums or in frozen packs, Fonterra has developed small 15L cardboard packs that are easily stackable and manoeuvrable and can be stored at room temperature. A butter alternative, AMF is an ingredient in many foods such as ice cream, confectionary and bakery goods. . . 

Rat traps set to save ‘modern day dinosaur’ frogs – Andrew McRae:

A network of self-resetting rat traps are being laid out in the Whareorino Forest in western King Country to help protect the Archey’s frog.

It is estimated that between 20 and 25,000 of the native frogs remain.

The Archey’s frog can only be found in the Whareorino Forest, Pureora Forest and on Coromandel Peninsular . .


Get job title right on census

March 2, 2018

DairyNZ points out the importance of getting job titles right on the census:

The census is our best opportunity to find out exactly how many people are working on dairy farms and in what roles. This is critical information that DairyNZ and government need so we can work together on things such as immigration policy, industry training, and ensuring we have capable people in the pipeline to do the work you need doing on your farm.

When you are filling in your census form on or before the 6th March PLEASE use one of the following job roles, and encourage your employees to do the same. Use the one that is the closest fit to the role you actually do. It will make a difference to us effectively working on your behalf. The job roles are:

  • Dairy Farm Assistant
  • Dairy Farm Herd Manager
  • Dairy Farm Assistant Manager
  • Dairy Farm Manager
  • Dairy Farm Owner
  • Sharemilker
  • Contract Milker
  • Relief Milker
  • Dairy Cattle Grazier

Rural round-up

February 24, 2018

A2 Milk now a $10B company, eclipsing Fonterra as investors bet on bullish  – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co is now more valuable than Fonterra, even though the milk marketer’s sales amount to less than 3 percent of the dairy giant’s, as investors bet it will continue to beat expectations.

A2 shares jumped 18 percent to $13.87 on the NZX and are trading at more than 50 times forecast per-share earnings – the highest price-to-earnings (PE ratio) of any company on the NZX 50 Index. The market capitalisation of a2 has jumped to $10.1 billion, exceeding the $9.76 billion value of Fonterra based on the $6.06 price of the shares that trade in a farmer-only market on the NZX. . . 

NZ’s largest dairy genetics supplier gets behind A2 market:

Herd improvement and agri-technology co-operative LIC welcomes the announcement from Fonterra and The a2 Milk Company about their new partnership as it prepares to launch a new team of elite A2 bulls supported by genotype testing that allows farmers to determine the A2 status of each of their animals.

As the country’s largest supplier of artificial breeding services, LIC’s bulls are responsible for up to 80 per cent of the cows grazing on dairy farms around the country. LIC has been providing farmers with A2 genotype testing for more than 15 years from its laboratory in Riverlea, Hamilton. Its first A2 bull was made commercially available to farmers for AI in 2002. . .

Shearers plan marathon session to support mental health organisations – Emma Dangerfield:

Before Mark Herlihy lost his brother to suicide two years ago, mental health was not something the family had needed to discuss.

There had been no signs, no-one had seen it coming.

“We’re a really bubbly sort of family,” Mark said of his parents and seven other siblings.

Michael was just 20. He and his brothers had been preparing for a shearing record, which may have put him under a bit of pressure, but nothing they would have attributed to such a dramatic event. . . 

Seepage wetlands work wonders:

A recent review commissioned by DairyNZ may surprise you at just how effective wetlands can be at preventing contaminants from reaching waterways. DairyNZ water quality scientist Aslan Wright-Stow explains.

Wetlands are often referred to as the kidneys of the land – they filter, absorb and transform water contaminants and, therefore, help to reduce excess reaching waterways. In particular, wetlands can be highly efficient at removing excess nitrogen by creating unique environments whose chemistry and hydrology are ideal for treating, in particular, shallow sub-surface flow, and also runoff from dairy farms.

A recent review of scientific studies in New Zealand, undertaken by NIWA for DairyNZ, found seepage wetlands can reduce the amount of nitrate – a problematic form of nitrogen – entering them by up to 75-98 percent. That’s higher than we previously thought. . . 

Name change underlines wool focus:

Federated Farmers wants to play a key role in ramped-up sector-wide collaboration on wool initiatives – and that’s reflected in a name change.

By unanimous vote of delegates from the Federation’s 24 provinces who met in Wellington this week, the Meat & Fibre Council and industry group is now the Meat & Wool Council and industry group.

It’s actually a return to the name that was used more than two decades ago, the chairperson, Miles Anderson, said. ‘Wool’ was switched out to ‘Fibre’ back then when mohair from angora goats was on the rise. . . 

How avocado farmer Jenny Franceschi is taking on food waste – Cara Waters:

“I don’t think Australian consumers realise just how tough it is for some farmers,” says Jennifer Franceschi.

As an avocado farmer, Franceschi counts herself as one of the lucky ones with an avocado shortage driven by rising demand between seasons sending prices surging to about $7 per fruit at some retailers.

But concerned with the huge levels of food waste in agriculture, Franceschi and her husband, alongside three fellow growers, launched Fresh Produce Alliance out of Manjimup in Western Australia. . . 



Rural round-up

February 18, 2018

Are you bogged mate? – Mary O’Brien Rural:

I spend a lot of time raising awareness about spray drift but recent events have compelled me to talk about something that disturbs me even more than spray drift.

I have spent my whole life working in rural and remote Australia and always around country blokes; working with them, for them, and beside them. My father was one, my brother is one, and most of my dearest friends are country blokes. I have always worked in male dominated occupations and that certainly doesn’t make me special but I believe it has given me a good understanding of rural men and it has definitely given me a deep and profound respect for them.

So when I see country blokes facing challenges like never before, I need to say something because I know none of them will. I’m talking about rural men’s mental health and more specifically, rural male suicide. Yes, that mongrel black dog that sneaks in when you least expect it, grabs all of your rational thoughts, buries them somewhere you can’t find them, and without you or those close to you noticing, it gradually pulls you into a hole, a bog hole. . . 

Taupo Beef and Lamb starts exporting its meat range to Japanese supermarkets – Gerald Piddock:

Taupo Beef and Lamb has begun exporting its meat range to Japan.

The company, established by farmers Mike and Sharon Barton, sent the first container load of product in December which went on sale at five high end supermarkets east of Tokyo in mid-January.

The response from shoppers so far had been great, said Mike Barton at a field day at Onetai Station.. . 

NZ Ireland collaboration confirmed – Nicole Sharp:

Similarities between Ireland and New Zealand are leading to collaborations on research and development in the dairy industry.

Southland dairy farmers Tim Driscoll and Tony Miles travelled to Ireland recently with DairyNZ research and development general manager David McCall and AgResearch scientist Jane Chrystal.

The aim of the visit, which had funding from the two organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries, was to cement the collaboration between the two countries.

Mr Driscoll said both countries were similar in climate which made them ideal for comparisons in research and development.

Mr Driscoll and Mr Miles, both trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, wanted to make sure the Southern Dairy Hub was a part of the ongoing collaboration. . . 

Climate work ramping up:

With climate change champions, partnership farms and greenhouse gas roadshows in the pipeline, the Dairy Action for Climate Change is accelerating its work in 2018. Here are some details from DairyNZ senior policy advisor Kara Lok and developer Nick Tait.

The aim of the Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC), launched in June last year, was for the dairy sector to proactively take action to mitigate against agricultural emissions. This initiative, by DairyNZ and Fonterra, has come at a time when it is increasingly imperative for the dairy sector to take leadership on such challenges.

At a climate conference in Germany late last year, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said New Zealand would be a world leader on climate change. The Government is looking to have the Zero Carbon Act in force by the middle of this year, which will enforce a net zero emissions target by 2050, and set up an independent Climate Change Commission that will decide whether agriculture should enter the Emissions Trading Scheme. Regardless of the outcome, it has never been more important for the dairy sector to take action on agricultural emissions. . . 

Plenty more lambing seasons in store – Yvonne O’Hara:

Even though he is 82, John Benington recently completed 57 consecutive lambing seasons. And he is intending to add to that number.

He still helps son Jamie on the family farm, Craigellachie Downs, near Beaumont, when needed, and he and wife Anne have their own smaller unit, near Lawrence.

Mr Benington is the third generation to live in the area.

”I was born and bred in Lawrence,” he said. . . 

Image may contain: text and outdoor

Put that baler twine back in your pocket son, this fence is beyond fixing, said no farmer ever.

Decisive action on Brown Marmorated Stink Bug necessary:

New Zealand Winegrowers applauds the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) decisive action in turning back three cargo vessels contaminated with Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB).

BMSB is one of the wine industry’s most significant biosecurity risks due to the insects’ potential to impact on both the production and quality of processed red wine.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says a BMSB incursion would significantly affect the wine industry’s ongoing export success. . .

Rural round-up

February 15, 2018

Farmer compensation for cattle disease to cost over $100m: Nathan Guy – Gerard Hutching:

Compensation for farmers affected so far by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis could cost more than $100 million, National’s Primary Industries spokesman Nathan Guy says.

But he said the coalition Cabinet would probably soon decide it had other spending priorities, and farmers would be told to learn to live with the disease.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced on Friday a further two South Island dairy farms had been confirmed infected with Mycoplasma, bringing the total to 23. . . 

US vet: Mycoplasma need not cripple dairy profitability:

Mycoplasma bovis infection, now spreading throughout NZ dairying, needn’t be a death sentence for farm profitability, according to American veterinarian Dr Paul Dettloff, visiting here in early March.

Official response to the M. bovis crisis has focused on containment and keeping the contagious bacterial disease from spreading between animals. This infection is widespread in other dairying countries and needn’t reduce dairy profitability here. Dr Dettloff, who works for a large dairy cooperative in the US, indicates he sees farmers who don’t have M. bovis in their cows, despite being surrounded by farms with infected animals. . . 

Rural mum’s infectious enthusiasm part of Fantail’s Nest story – Kate Taylor:

The enthusiasm from Michelle Burden for her Fantail’s Nest business is infectious.

She smiles when she talks about what she does and what the future holds for her business and her family.

Running a small, rural business has its challenges. But they’re worth it.

Burden is one of hundreds of business people, many of them mothers, juggling life and work in a rural area. . .

Feed demand limits grass harvest :

Southern welfare groups are urging farmers not to be complacent after substantial falls of rain appear to have alleviated some areas of drought in Southland and Otago.

Southland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Wright said pasture response and aquifer recharge have been slower than expected and though the rain has jolted winter crops to start growing again, more is needed.

Farmers should assess whether they have enough feed for winter and if not they need to source extra supplies sooner rather than later. . . 

Farm visits link town and country:

Youngsters in Northland are getting the chance to experience dairy farming thanks to two couples taking part in DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer programme.

Creating a link between urban and rural communities and showcasing farming to the next generation are just two reasons why Terence and Suzanne Brocx and William and Robyn Hori host school visits.

Suzanne feels the connection many city families once had to relatives in the country has largely been lost. The Brocxs and Horis say joining DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer service has been their attempt to re-establish that connection. . .

Ag’s success should be stirring Australia’s future business entrepreneurs – Andrew Marshall:

First he turned smashed avocado into a much-discussed metaphor for the Millennial generation’s poor money saving discipline.

Now he’s challenging what he fears is often our overly casual national attitude to business entrepreneurship and ambition.

Notably, the demographer and social commentator, Bernard Salt, believes agribusiness and agricultural initiative on the global stage are obvious areas for Australia’s business spirit to rise significantly higher. . . 

Rural round-up

January 31, 2018

Southern farmers feel the heat as crops fail – Simon Hartley:

Rural Otago and Southland continues to bear the brunt of the heatwave and farmers are facing hard decisions on destocking and replanting failed winter feed crops.

A smattering of rain across the North Island and upper South Island was allowing farmers there to consider holding on to stock for further fattening.

But in Otago and Southland meat processors are working to capacity as stock is sold off, according to Federated Farmers Otago province president Phill Hunt of Wanaka.

“The pasture has taken a hiding, dying in places. That will have to be replaced over the next two years, at a significant cost,” he said when contacted yesterday. . .

Southern drought meeting requested with minister – Rachael Kelly:

Southland and Otago Rural Advisory groups have written to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting him to declare a drought for both provinces.

Sweltering temperatures and little rainfall have put pressure on farmers as dry conditions have reached levels not usually seen in January.

Both Southland and Otago have formed drought committees with rural stakeholders including Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, Fonterra, regional councils and MPI, and they are asking the Minister to declare a medium-scale adverse event classification.

Regions get drought  classification  – Sally Rae:

Drought in Southland and parts of Otago has been classified as a medium-scale adverse event following a request from drought committees and rural communities.

Yesterday, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced the classification – already in place in parts of the North Island and the Grey and Buller districts – had been extended to all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts.

That triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . .

Two more farms found with Mycoplasma bovis in the South Island:

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on on two more farms, lifting the total number of infected properties from 18 to 20, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

One of the new farms is in the Waimate district and the other is in Gore, Southland.

M bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

There are 11 infected properties in South Canterbury (Waitaki and Waimate Districts), six in Southland, two in Mid-Canterbury and one in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

A straight talking farmer with an appetite for risk – John King:

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it,” said late comedian Jonathan Winters.

North Cantabrian James Costello has a similar attitude farming sheep on 300ha of alluvial flats at Hawarden next to the Hurunui River.

His business remained profitable during three years of drought while many in his district did not.

James has a reputation for being an innovator and is active in the Hurunui/Waiau Water Zone committee and Landcare group. He knows you cannot be passive when faced with overwhelming odds. . .

The future of farming – Grant Leigh:

Younger generations are growing up surrounded by technology and the advancement of these technologies is ferocious.

Along with being frightening and daunting to most of us, it is also exciting, challenging and now more than ever necessary.

The biggest hurdle will not be the appetite for young farmers and supporting industries to do the job, it will be capital and viability. . . 

Federated Farmers’ Katie Milne opens up about the changing times – Michelle Hewitson:

After breaking a 118-year history of male leadership of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne wants to convince townies that rural folk are the same at heart.

When you take the head of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne, out for lunch, it’s redundant to ask if we’re going to eat meat.

“Ha! Yeah. You know what I saw on there,” she says, gesturing at the menu, “and wanted to have a go at and share? That crackling.” Have a go at! She’s a West Coast sheila through and through. I ordered the crackling. She had the beef and bacon burger and chips; I had black pudding and spuds. We were having a health lunch. “We are. We are,” she says. “It’s Friday. It’s a mental health day when you’re eating great stuff like this, isn’t it?” We cracked into the crackling. . . 

Soil health comes first then grass and livestock – Burke Teichert :

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy. . . 


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