Rural round-up

April 14, 2016

Water gives life to NZ’s economy – Anrew Curtis:

Much media debate has arisen recently on whether new irrigation schemes are necessary in the wake of the dairy downturn.  

What the dairy industry doesn’t need at the moment is to be kicked when it’s down; the debate has brought to light a need for IrrigationNZ to better foster relationships and promote understanding of modern irrigation across the board.  

Let’s start with the facts: in NZ water is plentiful. We average 145 million litres per person in NZ compared with 82 in Canada, 22 in Australia, nine in the US, two in China and two in the UK. We are water rich but are yet to make the most of this potential. . . 

Farmers agree kiwi farm labourers  ‘hopeless‘ – Alexa Cook:

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is “on the money” saying many young New Zealanders in farm work are “pretty damned hopeless”, a South Island farming leader says.

Mr English made the comments at a Federated Farmers meeting last week, saying many people seeking jobs through the Ministry of Social Development did not show up or stay with the job.  

Otago Young Farmers Club vice-chair Mike Marshall milks 500 cows, and said he was employing people from Scotland because New Zealanders were not good workers. . .  

Fonterra’s first governance review suggests cutting board members by two, single election process for directors – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group is proposing cutting its board numbers by two to 11 and having a single process for electing farmer appointed and independent directors as part of the first governance overhaul since it was established 15 years ago.

A booklet on the first draft proposal from the long-awaited review of the farmer-owned dairy cooperative is being sent out to farmers today and a final recommendation is to go to shareholder vote in late May or early June after feedback. . . 

National regulations proposed for pest control:

Regulations are being proposed under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to provide for a nationally consistent approach to pest control, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today in releasing a consultation paper standardising the regulatory regime for pest control at the New Zealand PIanning Institute conference.

“These proposed RMA regulations are a response to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report recommending that I instigate a more standardised approach to pest control. Rather than each regional council having different pest control rules, the standard controls set by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) would apply. . . 

Kiwifruit found to regulate blood sugar – Lucy Warhurst:

A new study has found there could be more health benefits to eating kiwifruit than we first thought.

It’s known for being high in fibre and vitamin C, but it’s also now been found to significantly slow and reduce the uptake of sugars into the bloodstream.

Zespri’s Innovation Leader for Health and Nutrition, Dr Juliet Ansell, says people who ate kiwifruit with their breakfast saw more regulated blood sugar levels.

“You actually really reduce that blood sugar peak in your blood stream. It’s a much slower, longer tail off, so much more regulated blood glucose control.” . . . 

Global megatrends expert says New Zealand on trend with food-for-health:

New Zealand should apply its tourism’s “100% Pure” campaign to the agricultural industry, utilise its “clean-green” image, extend it to “clean-green-healthy” and back it with science to add a premium to its exports, according to Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, an international expert in strategy and foresight.

Dr Hajkowicz, author of the recently published book “Global Megatrends – Seven Patterns of Change Shaping our Future” is in New Zealand to address the 2016 High-Value Nutrition Science Symposium -Foods of the Future, Transforming New Zealand into a Silicon Valley of Foods for Health-. . . 

Feedback sought on proposed animal welfare regulations:

The Government is seeking feedback on proposed regulations to further strengthen our animal welfare system.

“Last year the Government amended the Animal Welfare Act to improve the enforceability, clarity and transparency of the animal welfare system,” says Mr Guy.

“We are now seeking the public’s views on proposed regulations that have been developed in consultation with the independent National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC),” says Mr Guy.
These proposed regulations will set enforceable rules based on best practice and modern science.

“Our animal welfare system is considered one of the best in the world. The proposed regulations will further strengthen our reputation as a country that cares for animals,” says Mr Guy. . . .

IrrigationNZ confident Ruataniwha will proceed:

IrrigationNZ today said it was confident that Ruataniwha would go ahead and disputed claims aired on RadioNZ that costs for the project have risen by 50 percent.

“What isn’t clear in this reporting is there are two distinct parts to this project. One is the cost of building the dam and the infrastructure of piping water to the farm gate, the other is the cost of developing on-farm irrigation systems,” said IrrigationNZ chairwoman Nicky Hyslop.

“A year on yes, there is an increase to building the dam – $275 to $330 million, and the reality is, the more time that goes by the more it will cost. There will never be a cheaper time to build than today. . . 

Deputy PM to headline DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum event:

Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English and Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings are among a line-up of leading speakers presenting to dairy farmers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, May 17-18, in Hamilton.

The biennial event will give dairy farmers insight into how to adapt their businesses in the current challenging times and how the global environment will shape the future of New Zealand milk production.

“The Farmers’ Forum is about helping farmers understand what is driving the current financial climate and what they can do to help manage it,” says DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Rick Pridmore. . . .

Farmers Gather for First Field Day at Sea:

Farmers took to the water recently to learn about the entrepreneurial drive of Clearwater Mussels director John Young and how his principles can equally apply to land-based farming.

As aquaculture entrepreneurs, Clearwater Mussels was joint winner of the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year Competition (with Omarama Station), it was the first ever winner’s field day held at sea.

Three boatloads of field day attendees (approx. 200 people) left Havelock Marina and motored into the Kekeperu Sound to see greenshell mussel harvesters and seeders at work, and learn about what a marine farming business did to make it a competition winner. . . 

Final FMG Young Farmer of the Year to be found in Ashburton:

The last of the seven Grand Finalists will be determined this weekend in Ashburton at the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final.

“This contest season has been very successful and impressive to date, the calibre of contestants is high and each Regional Final has been fiercely competed for” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Timaru 7 – 9 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $285,000 in products, services and scholarships from FMG, Massey University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Meridian Energy, Honda, STHIL and Vodafone. . . 

NZ Farming's photo.

Farming is the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think you’re trying to kill them. – NZ Farming.


Rural round-up

April 6, 2016

Marine farming rubbish removed during beach clean-up – Mike Watson:

Marine farmers have recovered almost 20 tonnes of rubbish, much of it non-industry related, from Marlborough Sounds and Tasman Bay beaches in the past five years.

The total tonnage from the marine farming industry-led environmental programme was the equivalent of more than two weeks work every month over the past five years by volunteers cleaning up the region’s beaches, a  review of the programme showed.

The programme had been operating since the early 1990s to help clean up beaches in the top of the South Island. . . 

Pondering life and death down on the farm – Joyce Wyllie:

“When you have livestock, you do have dead stock” is a saying I heard often when I was a vet.

It is a farmer’s laconic way of coping with disappointments, sickness and demise of both farm and pet animals. Death is something we face on farms regularly and rural families do learn to deal with it, although it should never become casual or frivolous. Our garden has a cemetery where the white mice are buried, there are RIP white crosses among flowers, and fruit trees planted on top of deceased dogs.

Our children have learnt that life does end. They have experienced grief, understand sadness of loss and have developed respect for death. . . 

Dairy forum focuses on challenges and opportunities:

The outlook for the wider dairy sector including support available for farmers were the focus of an event near Morrinsville attended by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

The event brought together farmers and others from the rural business community, including MPI, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trusts and the New Zealand Bankers Association who together launched a new brochure outlining various support available for farmers.

“While the medium to long-term outlook for the sector remains strong, our dairy farmers are doing it tough this season. Low global prices are having a real impact on cashflows and farmers are rightly focussing on their business decisions and on-farm costs,” says Mr Guy.. . .

Health and safety must be a priority:

WorkSafe NZ’s chief executive says farmers should place a high priority on health and safety plans rather than doing them at the end of the working week.

Gordon MacDonald’s comments come as the new Health and Safety at Work Act comes into force on April 4. He says the new act should come under the banner of ‘looking after my mates’ and become an important part of any business.

He adds the ‘she’ll be right’ approach has no place in the current environment and shouldn’t have had for the past 20 years under the previous act. . . 

MPI imposes tough restrictions on imported seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has imposed tough new border restrictions to stop contaminated seed from entering New Zealand.

The move follows the discovery of velvet leaf in fodder beet seeds imported from Europe. MPI, industry bodies and regional councils are currently responding to an outbreak of the invasive weed in farm properties across the country.

“We already have strong border controls in place to stop contaminated seed from entering New Zealand. The new interim measures will provide another layer of biosecurity until we know exactly how the contaminated fodder beet seeds entered the country,” says Stephen Butcher, MPI Manager Import and Export Plants. . . 

Throw a chop on the barbie in Tokyo

JAPANESE shoppers are not normally known for their appetite for sheepmeat products, but changing consumer trends could see more lamb on their barbecues alongside Australian beef.

Food industry marketers say the world’s biggest importer of red meat (by value) is not only a cosmopolitan marketplace with plenty of scope for new taste trends among younger consumers, Japan also has a growing attraction to barbecued meat. . . 

Fifth Grand Finalist Confirmed in FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

James Hoban is the fifth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

James is a 30 year old Sheep and Dairy Support Farmer and Farm Environment Consultant who took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Rangiora on 2 April

Mr Hoban went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Meridian Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. James also won the Massey University Agri-growth Challenge. . . 

LIC Jersey bulls make a strong comeback:

LIC’s Jersey Premier Sires bulls have cemented their position at the top of the national Jersey Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list, released at the weekend.

This is good news for dairy farmers who prefer to get their Jersey inseminations from their farmer-owned co-operative.

Among a range of positive statistics on the Jersey RAS list, LIC has all of the top 5 bulls. It also has 8 of the top 10 and 11 of the top 15 bulls on the Jersey RAS list. Of the 11, 9 are new graduates which illustrates the change in LIC’s momentum. . . 


Rural round-up

March 16, 2016

Whitestone blue wins silver in world champs – Sally Rae,

Whitestone Cheese has got the blues – but in a good way.

The Oamaru-based company has been awarded a silver medal in the blue vein division of the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest in the United States, the world’s largest cheese, butter and yoghurt competition.

The contest, hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, attracted a record 2948 entries from 25 countries. Judges came from all over the world and included Fonterra research technologist Andrew Legg. . . 

Bankers aren’t farmers – Offsetting Behaviour:

On Radio New Zealand this morning, Andrew Little argued the government should lean on the banks to prevent their foreclosing on dairy farms, warning of that foreigners might swoop in and buy distressed NZ farms. 

  • Banks do not want to run farms. If they foreclose, they have to find somebody to run the thing pending auction. There are cows that need to be fed. The bank or the receiver takes on all the health & safety, and animal welfare, liability. The most heavily leveraged ones are the ones that’d be first to go; those are the ones where the banks have the biggest stake, and where the banks would take the greatest share of the loss in a fire-sale. A receiver’s fees will include all the farm-running costs. . . 

Dairy industry needs to stay competitive – DairyNZ:

DairyNZ says it is time to look at how the dairy industry can stay competitive in the wake of a record low Farmgate Milk Price and mounting debt.

It is stepping up its support to farmers and is running workshops across the country this week focussing on sharemilkers and farm owners working with sharemilkers.

Chief executive Tim Mackle said Fonterra has done well since it formed in 2001, and the main challenge for farmers – compared to other tough years – was the mountain of debt that had grown.

“Ten percent of the highest indebted farms have 30 percent of the total dairy debt – that’s $11 to $12 billion or $10 million each. But that doesn’t mean all those farms are at risk,” says Dr Mackle. . . 

Dairy prices affecting over one fifth of NZ SMEs:

More than one-in-five small and medium enterprises across New Zealand are feeling the effects of falling dairy prices, according to leading accounting software developer MYOB.

A snapshot result from the latest Business Monitor research commissioned by MYOB and undertaken by Colmar Brunton, found that 21 per cent of the more than 1,000 SMEs surveyed stated their business’ revenues were negatively affected by the dairy price. Even more concerning is the 25 per cent of SMEs that said general consumer confidence has been directly hit.

Across the country, it means that approximately 100,000 businesses employing upwards of one million New Zealanders are facing reducing revenue because of the dairy downturn. MYOB General Manager James Scollay says that the results show a significant impact on the New Zealand economy. . .

Dairy farming: it’ll be survival of the fittest – Jamie Gray:

Bank analyst has confidence in the sector’s ability to adapt but says that some of those ill-prepared for the downturn will go to the wall, writes Jamie Gray.

The dairy sector may be in for a period of adjustment of an order not seen since the 1980s, when farmers were hit with high interest rates, a high New Zealand dollar, and the removal of subsidies, says Rabobank NZ’s head of country banking Hayley Moynihan.

As dairy farmers prepare to enter what may be their third season in a row of negative returns, Moynihan said there will be casualties, but she has confidence in the sector’s ability to cope. . . 

dairy graphic

Stellar vintage predicted for Hawke’s Bay winegrowers:

All signs are pointing towards 2016 being another stellar year for Hawke’s Bay winemakers.

Paul Ham, Managing Director of Alpha Domus Winery, says the 2016 vintage is shaping up to be one of the best yet.

As one of the first wineries in Hawke’s Bay to harvest their early Chardonnay grapes, Alpha Domus is in a unique position to assess the coming vintage. “We’re really excited about the remainder of the harvest,” says Mr Ham. “It’s been a superb season and the grapes are looking outstanding on the vine.” . . .

Quality of NZ wool clip leaves exporters scrambling to fill lower-grade fibre orders – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool exporters scrambling to fill orders for lower-grade wool have driven up the price of what are known as oddments in recent weeks because the season to date has delivered an unexpectedly high-quality clip.

Wool oddments are the shorter parts of the fleece, such as from the belly, second pieces, eye clips, necks and those parts stained or otherwise discoloured. They are often baled and sold separately, but a paucity of lower-quality wool has meant exporters are blending oddments with other higher wool grades to make up orders, said Malcolm Ching, an executive at New Zealand Wool Services International in Christchurch. . . 

China Resources buys stake in NZ’s biggest apple exporter – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – China Resources Ng Fung has acquired 15.3 percent of Scales Corp, New Zealand’s biggest apple exporter, for about $55.9 million from Direct Capital Investments.

The Hong Kong-based company today entered into an arrangement to buy the shares at $2.60 apiece, with settlement on about March 21. Scales said it welcomed China Resources “as a significant minority shareholder, and as a party who can provide support to Scales in its ongoing initiatives in China.” . . 

Social Media Stars Win Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners are active among a growing group of dairy farmers turning to social media to support, share and gain information to help progress their dairy career.

At the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Indian Hall in Pukekohe last night, Brad Markham and Matthew Herbert were named 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year, Hayden Kerr became the 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year and James Doidge the 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mr Markham, Mr Herbert and Mr Kerr are all active and well-known among dairy farmers on Twitter. “We enjoy connecting with other farmers, in New Zealand and overseas, on social media platforms like Twitter,” Mr Markham and Mr Herbert say. “It can be a great way to share ideas. . . 

Accountants Get in Behind New Zealand Dairy Farmers:

NZ CA Limited announces Gold Sponsorship of 2016 Dairy Business of the Year

Improving farm profitability and developing resilient and sustainable farming systems are two of the key drivers behind NZ Chartered Accountants Limited’s (NZ CA) gold sponsorship of this year’s Dairy Business of the Year (DBOY).

Sue Merriman, NZ CA’s chairperson and also partner in Greymouth chartered accountants Marshall & Heaphy Limited, says, “The group is delighted to be a Gold Sponsor of the 2016 Dairy Business of the Year. With so many of our member firms located in provincial New Zealand and having dairy farm businesses as clients, it’s a logical move for the group to be involved in supporting and further developing these businesses. With the continuing slump in milk solid prices this year and the effect of this on farm businesses, it’s more important than ever that dairy farmers get good independent business advice from their chartered accountants. . . 

Fertiliser Company Takes Industry Lead to Identify Fertiliser Efficiency:

Fertiliser Company Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate has taken an industry lead to identify fertiliser efficiencies for farmers

The company has invested over $1 million in research and is monitoring 12 sheep and beef farms totalling 16,500 hectares in the independent ‘Farming for the Future’ programme.

The programme set out to find how a lower nutrient input system can build both economic and environmental resilience within the farm gate. . . 

TECH Talks a highlight at national primary industry conference:

In two weeks Rotorua will be playing host to over 300 industry representatives from throughout the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors. MobileTECH 2016 is a two-day conference focusing on new technologies and innovations designed for our food and fibre industries.

As well as the New Zealand sector, MobileTECH has also attracted a solid contingent from across the Tasman. Some of Australia’s largest primary industry companies will be flying into Rotorua and joining the local industry for this event.

The strength of this programme, boosting over 36 speakers, is in bringing together under the one roof leaders from across a diverse range of primary industries with those who are developing, manufacturing and adopting these new technologies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 15, 2016

What’s all this crying over spilled milk? New Zealand’s dairy crisis explained – Richard Meadows:

The dairy industry is constantly in the headlines lately – for all the wrong reasons.

Milk prices are going down the gurgler, and farmers are really starting to feel the pain.

Dairy is such a huge part of the economy that townies can’t help but be swept up in this too.

If you haven’t been following the issue closely, here’s an overview of what’s going on. . . 

Dairy industry marshalling its resources:

Dairy industry leaders are marshalling their collective resources to ensure a united approach to supporting farmers in the wake of a record low Farmgate Milk Price.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the industry’s leaders including dairy company chairs and chief executives and Federated Farmers’ dairy section have met over the past month to discuss the serious situation and considered joint actions and options for support.

The DairyNZ board also meets this week and will discuss further options. “We’ll be talking through and reviewing our plan as an industry,” he says. . . 

NZ calf prices hit record high as demand soars amid supply shortage – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Prices for weaned calves at the start of the new sales season in New Zealand are hitting record highs amid increased demand and lower supply.

Sales of six-month-old weaner steers and heifers this month at Stortford Lodge in Hastings, an early benchmark ahead of the peak sales period in April, rose between 17 and 29 percent on 2015, which was itself at record levels, according to AgriHQ. Weaner sales generally finish early May.

Farmers who shed stock ahead of summer last year on concern about the impact of a dry El Nino weather pattern were now seeking to restock as rain in many areas through January stimulated pasture growth. Meanwhile, farmers who had previously provided grazing support to the dairy industry are now looking for other sources of income such as fattening weaners as dairy farmers look to rein on costs. . . 

Fonterra and foresight – Robert Hickson:

I can’t help thinking whether Fonterra, and NZ’s dairy industry, would be in a better position now if they’d devoted some (more) resources to strategic foresight. They may have, but it isn’t evident so far.

What is “strategic foresight”, and what, if anything, is it good for?

Strategic foresight, which is being used increasingly now in the private sector rather than simply “futures”, is about linking foresight activities (scanning for trends and weak signals, scenarios, visioning exercises, etc) with strategy formulation and execution.

Strategic foresight needs to ask and answer the “So what?” questions, and identify actions to address anticipated challenges and opportunities. The organisation then deliberatively chooses to undertake them, or not. . . 

Marlborough wine industry needs more workers to sustain rapid growth – Oliver Lewis:

More labour and accommodation is needed to service the Marlborough wine industry, which is predicted to grow by a quarter over the next five years, a new report shows.

The Marlborough Labour Market Survey, released on Monday, was organised by Wine Marlborough, in collaboration with New Zealand Winegrowers, the Marlborough District Council and Seasonal Solutions Co-operative Limited.

The purpose of the report, the first of its kind, is to get a comprehensive picture of the wine industry and its plans moving forward, to be able to plan for future labour requirements. . . 

Applications open for leading farm business management program:

Applications are open for the 2016 Rabobank Executive Development Program, tailored for progressive farmers to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Now in its 18th year, more than 500 New Zealand and Australian farmers have graduated from the intensive two-week program, which covers all aspects of business management including strategic goal setting, negotiation, risk management, leadership and technology.

Announcing the opening of applications, Rabobank general manager Country Banking New Zealand Hayley Moynihan said “interest in the program was perhaps stronger than ever, even taking into account the current downturn in the dairy industry”. . . .

NZ’s most tender and tasty lamb named at the Glammies:

The Gardyne family’s Perendale from Central Otago has been named the most tender and tasty lamb in New Zealand at the Glammies – the Beef + Lamb NZ Golden Lamb Awards – over the weekend.

The competition received a total of 173 entries which were subject to stringent scientific testing at Carne Technologies.

Following this process, the top 20 finalists were then tasted at the Grand Final judging at the Wanaka show. . . 

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers have a fun day to help keep blues away – Jill Galloway:

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers kept the blues away by attending a stress-free Rural Family After Five event.

About 200 people attended the evening event at the Te Kawau Memorial Recreation Centre this week at Rongota.

Parents talked and enjoyed a steak and sausage sandwich, while children slid on a water slide in an old fashioned get together with tug-of-war, touch rugby and a bouncy castle.

“When the kids are happy the parents can cope,” said a rural woman. . . 

 EPA Fines Wyoming Man $16 Million for Building a Pond on His Property – S. Noble:

Farmers and ranchers call the EPA’s new water rule the biggest land grab in the history of the world. It is a massive land grab, especially in a country that has been built on the right to own property. The administration is changing all that.

A new oppressive water rule gives the EPA jurisdiction over all public and private streams in the United States that are “intermittent, seasonal and rain-dependent.” It will regulate what are normal daily ranching and farming practices and take control of their land.

According to congressional budget testimony, waters of the United States would give the EPA authority over streams on private property even when the water beds have been dry, in some cases, for hundreds of years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 8, 2016

Embrace change Ballance CEO says – Sally Rae:

Agriculture has to ‘‘sell itself to New Zealand”.

That is the strong belief of Ballance Agri-Nutrients chief executive Mark Wynne, who cited a generation of people with no rural connections.

The sector – which was the foundation of New Zealand’s wealth – had to keep promoting its good stories, he said. . . 

$2m fertiliser plant opens near Timaru – Sally Rae:

More than $2million has been invested at Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Washdyke site with the official opening of a specialist PhaSedN fertiliser manufacturing plant.

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey and Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne attended the opening, along with local farmers.

The plant was developed in partnership with Te Poi Manufacturing Ltd. It was expected to initially produce about 10,000 tonnes annually with capacity to build production as demand grew. . .

Landcorp to scale back Wairakei dairy conversion – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, confirmed it will scale back the conversion of former forestry land to dairy farming on leased land at the Wairakei Estate north of Taupo following a slump in milk prices and concern about the environmental impact.

New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer “will significantly reduce dairy’s footprint from the original plans and instead include alternative uses for the 14,500 hectares of former forestry land it leases from Wairakei Pastoral,” the Wellington-based company said in a statement.

Landcorp has a 40-year lease to develop and farm the former forestry land, and since 2004 has developed 13 dairy farms with 17,000 cows over 6,400 hectares of the property. A new land-use model will see the eventual number of dairy farms and cows on the Wairakei Estate significantly reduced from the 39 originally planned, it said today. . . 

Industry group well advanced on bobby calf initiatives:

The eight organisations that formed a Bobby Calf Action Group at the end of 2015 are well advanced on a range of initiatives ensuring best practice handling and management of bobby calves.

The group is DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, Road Transport Forum, New Zealand Veterinary Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Scott Gallacher, MPI Deputy Director General Regulation and Assurance, said a number of the initiatives being worked on were new, other initiatives were already underway but were being accelerated. . . 

Seeka commits to a new HQ and major infrastructure development to handle growing kiwifruit processing demand:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries (NZX-SEK) will move into its new headquarters in Te Puke by the middle of this year and plans to make it a centre of excellence for its produce and grower-focused business, says Chief Executive Michael Franks.

“Our new HQ will reflect our focus on the crops we and our growers produce, and the harvest and post-harvest value chain,” said Mr Franks.

The move is part of this year’s planned capital expenditure of $20 million to develop new infrastructure to handle increasing kiwifruit volumes. . . 

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Look for New Opportunities:

The 2016 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards big winner, Stephen Shailer, is on the hunt for a new dairy farm position and hopes his win will help his progress.

Mr Shailer won the 2016 Manawatu Share Farmer of the Year title and $10,450 in prizes at the region’s awards dinner held at Awapuni Racecourse last night. The other major winners were Renae Flett, the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year, and Karl Wood, the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“We entered the awards for the first time this year as we are hoping to move to a 50:50 sharemilking position or lease farm, so we entered in an effort to make our CV stand out a bit more,” Mr Shailer says. “We also wanted to push ourselves to identify our own strong and weak points.” . . .


Rural round-up

February 22, 2016

‘Dryland specialists — not victims’ – Sally  Rae:

Coping with dry conditions on Otago farms and the ongoing implications is about taking action, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Soul-destroying. That is how Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Pat Macaulay describes living through drought.

Mrs Macaulay, of North Taieri, knows first-hand exactly what it feels like, having farmed in the Strath Taieri where drought was a regular occurrence. . .

Bank on bright side but farmers sombre – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers are facing another tough year but a ‘‘generally strong year” is being picked by Rabobank for most other sectors.

Solid demand in key offshore markets, recent progress in export development and generally tight global supply was likely to bring another good year for producers of beef, wool and horticultural products, food and agribusiness research general manager Tim Hunt said.

While beef prices had lost some ground in recent months, they remained well above multi-year average levels and were expected to receive support from a generally tight global market. .  .

Farmers look for exit as prices crunch – Gerald Piddock & Aaron Leaman:

More dairy farmers are looking to shut the family farm gate, some after generations on the land, as the milk price slump pushes rural households to breaking point.

A DairyNZ and AgFirst report on farm ownership pathways out in April is expected to show farm ownership stretching further out of reach of many  as growing numbers look for a managed exit from an increasingly unprofitable and stressful industry.

The looming dairy exodus has prompted a warning that some of the country’s best and brightest will be lost to a sector once considered the backbone of the New Zealand economy.  . . 

Lamb prices better than expected – Sally Rae:

Prices at last week’s Omarama lamb sale were stronger than anticipated, considering schedule pricing, agents say.

More than 70 buyers from throughout the South Island registered for the sale, which comprised a total yarding of just over 12,000 lambs.

The average price for PGG Wrightson’s offering of 7000 lambs was $54, up $8 or $9 on last year’s sale.

Tara Hills achieved the top price for merino wethers at $68, while prices ranged from $66-$31.50. Tara Hills also topped the merino ewe lambs, at $58.50, with prices ranging from $52-$24. . . 

Taranaki avocado shortage blamed on freak weather – Christopher Reive:

Freak storms caused by climate change are being blamed for a poor avocado harvest causing shortages around the country.

Taranaki avocado grower Steve Wright has an orchard of 230 avocado trees near Urenui, north of New Plymouth, and said while the fruit generally ran in a cycle of good crop-bad crop, this season had been particularly bad.

“It’s not just a mild wind that comes through, they come through and they just hammer your place and what happens is, because the avos hang on a stem, they just twist around and break,” Wright said. . . 

First Grand Finalist Confirmed In FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Jake Thomson is the first Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

The 27 year old from Whangarei who manages a Dairy Farm took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Pukekohe on Saturday 20 February.

Mr Thomson went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Median Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. He also won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge, Meridian Energy Agri-Knowledge Challenge and the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge . . .

Farm Takeover!  The dirt on raising GMO corn: The Land – Uptown Farms:

“Tell your story!”  Anyone in the agriculture industry has been hearing it!  It is important and I’m the first to boast how much I love to tell my story.
 
But, if I am honest, I’m usually telling my husband’s story. He’s the farmer.
 
Well not this year!  Matt is sliding over into the buddy seat and turning me loose on my very own 60 acres!  And I’m taking you along for the ride by detailing the entire process of raising corn right here, all season long!

When it comes to land, farmers generally talk in acres.  One acre is 43,560 square feet – roughly the size of a football field. 
 
The first step for any crop farmer is the most obvious (and most expensive) one – find some land. . .


Rural round-up

February 19, 2016

600 apple pickers wanted now – Ryan Bridge:

Are you looking for a job? Or do you know anyone who is?

There are 600 vacancies for apple pickers in one orchard in the Hawke’s Bay right now.

It’s a three-month picking season and this is only one orchard.

Another orchard down the road needs another 120 workers in the next two weeks and it even offers to give you a ride to work. . . 

Spot-on breakthrough – Karen Bailey:

IMAGINE if you could cut your herbicide, insecticide and fungicide bill by using as much as 99 per cent less chemical. 

That’s the claim by an English research company working on the development of an intelligent sprayer that can recognise specific weeds, insects and diseases in agricultural crops.

There are already a few targeted droplet dispensing systems on the Australian market that can do this with varying success, but Cambridge Consultants claims its sprayer features new generation technology that has been transferred across from its medical product development team.  . . 

Creating a new blueprint for hill country farming – Gerald Piddock:

Dan Steele has a vision for New Zealand agriculture. 

It’s a vision where farmers produce high-valued goods that sell the country’s environmental image to the world.

But to succeed, it means a radical shift from the traditional production-per-hectare model that has been New Zealand’s mainstay for the past 100 years. . . 

Big station aims for shepherd Lexie – Amanda Saxton:

Cambridge-raised Alexia Phillips – known as Lexie – came to Otiwhiti a skilled horsewoman but with little else in the way of farming nous. Last year she graduated as both top academic and top cadet from Otiwhiti’s agricultural training school.

A buddy going shepherding while Lexie was still at Hamilton’s Hillcrest High spurred her to sign up at the 3250 hectare station near Hunterville.

“Hearing about my friend’s experiences made me think ‘oh, that could be a bit of me’,” the 18-year-old said. . . 

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists announced:

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

The three finalists are Tahu a Tao farm in Rakaia near Ashburton, Te Ahu Pātiki and Maukatere near Oxford in Canterbury and Tewi Trust in Okoroire near Tirau.

“I commend these finalists for their sheer hard work and fulfilling a legacy left by Sir Apirana Ngata, who helped introduce the competition which encourages proficiency and skills in Māori farming,” says Mr Flavell. . . 

Major Events Fund invests in the World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships 2017:

The Government is investing $260,000 through the Major Events Development Fund in the Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships to be held in Invercargill from 9 – 11 February 2017.

Participants and spectators from over 30 countries are expected to attend the iconic event, with competitors travelling from as far as the Falkland Islands and Isle of Man to compete.

Devorah Blumberg, Manager of New Zealand Major Events, says New Zealand is known worldwide for its thriving agricultural sector. . . 

Farmer leaders sought for DairyNZ board:

Aspiring directors are being sought for DairyNZ’s Board of Directors.

Farmer leaders are encouraged to apply for two associate director roles which provide an invaluable opportunity to see governance in action.

DairyNZ chair Michael Spaans says the associate directors must be dairy farmers who want to move beyond their farm and into industry leadership.

“We will be looking for candidates who can demonstrate a commitment to their personal and governance development,” says Michael. . . 

Owl Farm focus day a valuable resource:

How will changing health and safety legislation affect your farm? Are empty rates higher than normal this season on dairy farms? And what alternatives are there to chicory for summer cropping? These key dairy industry topics and more will be discussed on Wednesday 2 March at Owl Farm’s first farm focus day for 2016.

Owl Farm, the St Peter’s School and Lincoln University Demonstration Dairy Farm, will host guest speakers from Fegan & Co, LIC and PGG Wrightson Seeds. Owl Farm Manager Tom Buckley will give an update on the season so far and give examples from Owl Farm to illustrate the issues at hand. . . 

Hat tip: Utopia


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