Rural round-up

July 23, 2020

Synthetic products ‘kick int he guts’ – Alice Scott:

When it comes to supporting the New Zealand wool industry, East Otago sheep and beef farmer Georgie McGregor reckons there needs to be a new hashtag started for synthetic apparel: #senditback.

“The big farm retailers not only stock synthetic clothing and hats but they also run these promotions and send what is essentially a plastic bush shirt to us for buying a certain product in bulk.

“It’s one thing to stock this cheap synthetic product, but to give it away to farmers who are out there every day trying to make part of their living out of wool, well it’s a kick in the guts really.

“I just think we should all start sending back this plastic stuff they give us and make it their problem. If we don’t say anything, nothing will change,” she said. . . 

No place for Tom, Dick or Harry :

Migrants are a critical and valued part of dairying in New Zealand, filling skills shortages on farms when there aren’t enough local workers available.

The sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas (18% of total sector employees) and another 1500 on resident visas (mostly employees but some employers).

The NZ Government, like other governments around the world, is facing a growing unemployment queue thanks to Covid-19. They are under pressure to employ locals. But it isn’t as simple.

All those out-of-work Queenstown baristas are hardly likely to give up and move sticks to the Waikato, don an apron and start milking cows.

Cost control the biggest influence for farmers in latest survey – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’s latest economic survey reveals that cost control continues to be a key driver for New Zealand dairy farmers as the industry faces ongoing challenges in both production and profitability.

The survey for the 2018-2019 year showed that operating profit per hectare for owner-operators was $2154. This is down on the previous year’s total of $2238, but above the average for the previous decade of $1696, DairyNZ principal economist Dr Graeme Doole said.

 Dr Doole says that volatility will remain a significant challenge for farmers to manage.

Feed continues to be a farmers largest expenditure area at 28.5% of total expenditure. It has been farmers’ expenses category since 2007-2008. . . 

Five southern farmers grade-free for 10 years – Yvonne O’Hara:

Five Fonterra suppliers have earned blocks of cheese and plaques as recognition for being grade free for 10 years or more, for the past season.

Thirty-four suppliers nationwide earned the plaque, five of whom are in Otago and Southland.

In addition to the Weir family, of Inch Clutha, there are the Chalmers family of Kaitangata, the Morrisons, of Kaitangata, the Rutter/Hannah families, of Kaka Point, and the Cricketts of Otautau. . . 

Bees to help elephants and tribes thrive in Africa: a powerful new partnership to help save the wild:

Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer of UMF Mānuka honey, has today announced a new multi-year partnership with wildlife charity Saving the Wild, which will see the two organisations work together on global projects to help protect ‘nature in need’.

As the major Sponsorship Partner of Saving the Wild, Comvita will be acting upon its founding values, with the mission to connect people to nature at the heart of the partnership.

Established in 1974, Comvita and came to life in a counter-culture movement built on respect for nature and humankind. Saving the Wild was founded in 2014 by Jamie Joseph, with a mission to protect endangered African wildlife and ultimately the priceless biodiversity of the planet. . . 

Livestock birth-management companies for sale provide fertile opportunities for new owners:

Two livestock birth-management firms enabling New Zealand farmers to be among the most productive primary producers in the world has been placed on the market for sale.

Cattle pregnancy testing company Ultra-Scan was established in 1994 to examine the fertility rate of pregnant cows. Ultra-Scan now has 20 franchises throughout New Zealand – with 14 in the North Island and six in the South Island. The majority of the company’s North Island franchise operations are located in the Greater Waikato and King Country districts.

While initially founded to deliver cow gestation scanning services, Ultra-Scan’s service offering has subsequently gone on to include similar pregnancy tests for sheep, deer and goats, as well as the de-horning of young calves aged between four days and 10 weeks of age – in a Ministry for Primary Industry-approved practice known as ‘disbudding’ on calves – as well as DNA sampling, electronic calf tagging for identification, and teat removal. . . 


Rural round-up

July 16, 2020

Government tinkering with the ETS only gives the fossil fuel industry a get out of jail free card – Corina Jordan:

The recent tinkering with the flawed Emissions Trading Scheme will mean little to many New Zealanders.

But the outcome will. That’s because the proposed changes won’t address climate change issues, but will lead to large-scale land use change, with a devastating impact on our landscape and continue to allow fossil fuel industry a get-out-of-jail free card.

These policy and economic instruments that sit within the Climate Change Response Act and the Emissions Trading Reform Bill allow fossil fuel emitters unlimited ability to offset their pollution by planting trees.

The pastoral industry is effectively being asked to pick up the tab for other industries’ pollution and we have seen a major increase in the sale of sheep and beef farms into forestry in the last year. . . 

NZ wood ad ‘implies farmers are dumb’ if they don’t embrace forestry – Esther Taunton:

Sheep and beef farmers are up in arms over an advertisement which they say implies they’re stupid if they don’t plant trees on their land.

The NZ Wood advertisement, screened on TVNZ One on Sunday night, opens with footage of a smoking chimney, gridlocked traffic and melting ice.

“The time to stop runaway global warming is running out,” a voiceover says. . . 

 

Falling co-product prices prompt changes – Allan Barber:

The sale of Wallace Group’s tanning, rendering and composting operations in the Waikato, Northland and Manawatu is the latest step in the consolidation process of what is often termed the fifth quarter of the meat industry. Since it began in the late nineteenth century the industry has had to invest significant capital in facilities which were not just designed to process animals for meat production, but also to dispose of the parts of the carcase left over from its primary purpose, otherwise known as by-products or more politely co-products.  

 Co-products include hides and pelts, tallow, meat and bone meal, tripe, tendons, blood and intestines for sausage casings and more recently medical applications. Apart from meal and tallow their market value has really suffered in recent years, the worst effects being experienced in the leather industry which has seen prices for hides and, more particularly, pelts lose much of their value. Wool on pelts have minimal value, while shorn pelts are now negative or are going straight to landfill, while hide prices, especially for cull cow and bull, have been affected by changes in fashion and consumer preference for non-animal products. Wool which used to have a comparable value to the meat return has unfortunately declined to the point where it is now shorn more for animal health than profit reasons. . . 

Regulation risks hindering innovation – Allan Barber:

The fast pace of regulatory change by the government poses a challenge for farmers trying to earn their social licence to operate.

The Emissions Trading Reform Bill and the proposed Essential Freshwater Policy are the two latest examples of regulation which are set to be introduced into law before the Election and will inevitably impose serious costs or penalties on farmers as currently drafted Some provisions run counter to good, common sense farming practices, and the ETR has the potential to side swipe the sheep and beef sector, as it incentivises the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

Representative organisations, Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, are working hard on behalf of their members to mitigate the most heavy-handed aspects of the regulation, while at the same time providing farmers with information and tools to enhance on farm environmental performance in line with the comprehensive set of commitments made last year. . . 

Just when you thought wheat yields couldn’t improve :

Ashburton arable farmer Eric Watson has taken out the Guinness World Record for the Highest wheat yield for the second time, beating his former record crop density by 607 kilograms per hectare.

Mr Watson, who farms with his wife, Maxine, at Wakanui, produced an incredible 17.398 tonnes per hectare wheat crop, beating his previous record crop grown in 2017 that delivered 16.791 tonnes of wheat per hectare.

On average, irrigated wheat yields in New Zealand produce about 12 tonnes per hectare, demonstrating how remarkable the latest record is as an achievement admired by the wider industry, and providing insights into innovations for future growth.

Mr Watson was thrilled with the result as he strove to continually improve and make advancements to his yields and farming operation. . . 

Campaign champions farmers’ work in boosting bees:

A week-long initiative has commenced today looking to champion the work done on farms to provide habitat for bees and other pollinators.

Bees’ Needs Week, taking place from 13 to 19 July, is an annual event coordinated by Defra working alongside farming and conservation groups.

Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in food production and agriculture, and are also vital to wider ecosystems in the UK.

Scientists say pollinators contribute the equivalent of more than £500m a year to British agriculture and food production, by improving crop quality and quantity. . .


Rural round-up

June 17, 2020

New contest celebrates agripreneurs – Richard Rennie:

GlobalHQ, publisher of Farmers Weekly and Dairy Farmer, is sponsoring B.linc Innovation’s inaugural awards celebrating innovation and technology in the primary sector.

The Celebrating Success Innovation Awards run by the Lincoln University’s Blinc Innovation centre have three sections.

They are for on-farm innovation, off-farm-consumer innovation and a creative innovation-future tech award for secondary school students.

Global HQ co-owner Dean Williamson said the primary sector has had to respond to covid-19 in numerous innovative and nimble ways to continue growing, harvesting and processing primary products. . . 

Te Puke’s golden promise: Harnessing the post-Covid potential of a furry little fruit – Josie Adams:

The Bay of Plenty is synonymous with kiwifruit. With a large contingent of new workers moving in this season from Covid-displaced industries, Josie Adams asked what life is like for those who’ve been there for years.

Under a very heavy tree in Tom French’s orchard waits a very heavy hedgehog. About a metre above the hog the tree has two branches grafted on; golden kiwifruit. This is one of only a few trees with fruit left; the rest have been picked, packed, and put in storage. This fruit is for the family, and for any roaming animal with enough patience. 

French has been in the kiwifruit business for 40 years, and hedging his bets on a 50/50 split between golden kiwifruit and traditional greens has helped him weather some of the industry’s storms.

First planted in the Bay of Plenty in the 1930s, by the 70s and 80s, kiwifruit – formerly known as Chinese gooseberries, and before that monkey peaches – were taking off. French estimates they were selling trays for up to $16. Then, there was a heart-stopping price drop: five competing export companies, combined with a slowdown in demand, meant those same trays were worth only $4. . . 

Fed Farmers boss welcomes environmentalists to Southland – Louisa Steyl:

Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young extended an olive branch to environmentalists by inviting them to see the improvements made to winter grazing conditions in the region.

Young invited Angus Robson, Geoff Reid and Matt Coffey to Southland at the weekend, on behalf of all farmers, after receiving an email from Robson raising concerns about practices on a particular farm.

The three visited the farm, along with two others, on Saturday, and Young said it proved to be a worthwhile day.

“It was quite a robust discussion,” Young said. . . 

Dairy just the job – Samantha Tennent:

A sharp rise in unemployment is on the horizon because of covid-19 but the dairy sector will offer some reprieve. 

DairyNZ is encouraging people to consider work on dairy farms in a new Go Dairy campaign that offers entry-level training to help the transition to farming.

While the Go Dairy career-changers campaign, supported by Federated Farmers, aims to create awareness of the job opportunities there is a big emphasis on ensuring new staff understand what is involved in farm life.

“We want a win-win situation for new dairy farming employees to be happy and fulfilled in their new lifestyle and jobs and for farm employers to have great talent working for them,” DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says. . . 

Bouncing forward :

The kids are back at school, we can once again spend time with small groups of friends and family, and takeaways can offer a night off cooking. Looking back, we dairy farmers were grateful to be essential workers during Covid-19 Levels 3 and 4, with kids able to roam around the farm and help us out!

With glorious Taranaki weather, and the mountain visible from the dining room window most days, our kids were very motivated to get their home learning tasks done by lunch so they could spend the afternoon outside. Riding their motorbikes around the farm improved their riding skills. Going for on-farm runs and bike rides or playing soccer and rugby on the front lawn kept them physically busy.

I took up running and joined the online fitness group ‘Strong Woman’. Now I take time most days to get in a run or a workout. I never felt I had time pre-Covid to focus on my fitness. . . 

Life attracts life’: the Irish farmers filling their fields with bees and butterflies – Ella McSweeney:

Michael Davoren shudders when he thinks of the 1990s. He’d been in charge of his 80-hectare farm in the Burren, Co Clare, since the 1970s, and the place was in his blood. The Davorens had worked these hills for 400 years.

But growing intensification fuelled by European subsidies meant that most farmers in this part of Ireland were having to decide between getting big or getting out. Hundreds were choosing the latter.

Davoren followed the advice to specialise and chase the beef markets. “The more animals I kept, the more money I got,” he says. “I put more cattle out, bought fertiliser, made silage. Slurry run-off was killing fish. But if I kept fewer animals I’d be penalised 10% of my subsidy.” . .

 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2020

Dairy farming courses attract career changers – Esther Taunton:

A builder, a cafe worker and a shop assistant walk on to a farm…

It might sound like the start of a joke but DairyNZ says Kiwis signing up to sample farm life are seriously considering a career change.

The industry group launched an entry-level course for career changers on Monday and has attracted interest from New Zealanders from all walks of life. .  .

Govt ignoring forestry industry’s concerns:

The Government is failing to acknowledge the valid concerns raised about its rushed and unpractical forestry regulation bill, which has led to the industry sending the Prime Minister an open letter pleading for the bill to be delayed, National’s Forestry spokesperson Hamish Walker says.

“The Bill was introduced during urgency and has been rushed through Parliament even faster than the March 15th gun reforms.

“Out of 640 submissions only 11 are supportive of the Bill, meaning almost 98 per cent of submitters oppose it. . . 

Embracing the power of food loss technology and food waste solutions to strengthen global food security:

Today there are 800 million undernourished people in the world, yet the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of the world’s food is either lost or wasted. The New Zealand government’s recent decision to allocate $14.9 million to redirect unused food will go some way to address the issue, but there are broader challenges to address.

Food loss begins in the planted field where, without pest management, up to half of all crops can be lost to pests, diseases, and post-harvest losses. Droughts and natural disasters can also be devastating.

The Treasury estimates that the 2007/08 and 2012/13 droughts jointly reduced New Zealand’s GDP by around $4.8 billion. Globally, droughts were responsible for 83 percent of all global crop losses and damage in the decade up to 2016. Floods, storms, and other catastrophic events meant a loss of approximately US$96 billion (NZ$159 billion) worth of crops and livestock between 2005 and 2015. . .

Departing Synlait SFO’s ‘hell of a journey’  :

Synlait Milk’s outgoing chief financial officer Nigel Greenwood has some simple advice for his replacement: learn to sleep faster.

Greenwood is leaving the business after 10 years that saw the processor go from being in breach of its banking covenants in 2010 to reporting its maiden profit two years later to now having a market capitalisation of $1.3 billion.

His replacement, Angela Dixon, is coming in at a pivotal point in the business,” he said. 

“The time is now right for a transition from me to someone new,” he said. . .

Why collaboration is key to New Zealand’s freshwater future:

As the dust begins to settle over the COVID-19 crisis, New Zealand has an opportunity to address another critical national challenge: the future of freshwater.

A new report by law firm Bell Gully released during Visionweek highlights current freshwater issues and looks at where the key to cleaner water might be found in a sector grappling with complex relationships between the agricultural sector, iwi, government and other stakeholders.

Natasha Garvan, lead author of The Big Picture: Freshwater, and partner in Bell Gully’s environment and resource management practice, said New Zealand requires integrated solutions around freshwater, solutions that provide economic pathways for iwi, farmers and others to make a living in a way compatible with the environment. . .

So fresh, so green: Hophead heaven is harvest time in Nelson – Alice Neville:

An urgent excursion to her hoppy homeland shows Alice Neville why brewers and beer drinkers the world over seek out Nelson’s pungent bounty.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, trainloads of working-class London families would temporarily migrate to Kent to work in the hop fields during harvest time. It was the closest thing many of them got to a holiday.

There’s something romantic about hops. They’ve got a certain olde worlde charm – row upon row of green bines (yes, they’re called bines, not vines) climbing skyward. But the reality for the Kent pickers was anything but romantic; they were often housed in squalid conditions and in 1849, cholera killed 43 hop pickers on a single farm. . .


Rural round-up

June 5, 2020

Saving livestock and saving lives – Peter Burke:

With $1 million now behind them, Hawkes Bay Rural Advisory Group is working to get as many farmers and livestock through winter as possible.

“We’ve got to get every farmer through the winter and save as much stock as possible.” That’s what chair of the Hawkes Bay Rural Advisory Group (RAG), Lochie MacGillivray, told Rural News.

MacGillivray’s been tasked with dispensing the recently established $1 million special mayoral and government fund set up to pay for transporting much-needed stock feed to the drought-stricken region. . .

 

Wairarapa farmers determined to win over Kiwis with love of wool – James Fyfe:

Auckland-born Kate Tosswill never imagined she’d end up living on a farm in the Wairarapa.

Now, not only is she loving the rural life, but she’s determined to prove she can overcome the odds and help Kiwis fall in love with wool again.

Tosswill, who lives with her husband and two young children on the Bagshot Farm 20 minutes from Masterton, is on a mission to breathe life back into the classic fibre that was once so important to the country’s economy. . .

Three new faces for Dairy Women’s Network board:

The Dairy Women’s Network will have three new faces when its board meets on Friday.

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the year 2019 Trish Rankin, Dairy Women’s Network Business Group Director Rachel Haskew and Chief Executive of iwi-owned Pouarua Farms Jenna Smith will all bring valuable varied skills and experiences, Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board Chair Karen Forlong said.

“They all have taken different paths which have led them to our board table that adds the diversity we need. They will bring an abundance of new thought and enthusiasm that links to present opportunities and challenges within Dairy.” . .

Export meat prices fall from recent highs:

Export prices for meat, including lamb and beef, fell in the March 2020 quarter, from record levels at the end of 2019, Stats NZ said today.

“The fall in export prices coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared a global pandemic in March 2020,” business prices delivery manager Geoff Wong said.

“The COVID-19 outbreak affected demand in export markets and disrupted supply chains, such as sea and air freight. . .

Red meat exports holding despite COvid-19 disruptions:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports for April was largely unchanged from the same month last year despite COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported $859 million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products in the month of April. While the overall value of exports was broadly similar compared to April 2019, there were changes to some major markets due to the impact of COVID-19.

Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27 per cent to $39.6 million compared to last April and down 30 per cent to Germany ($22 million). . .

Dairy farmers say yes to milk solids levy:

Levy paying dairy farmers have voted to continue the sector’s milksolids levy.

The one in six-year milksolids levy vote closed on May 30, with provisional results showing 57 percent of the 11,747 levy paying dairy farmers voted – and of those who voted, 69 percent voted ‘yes’ to continuing the levy.

Weighting the vote by milksolids production shows even greater representation and support for the levy, with this year’s votes equating to a 67 percent farmer vote and 74 percent voting ‘yes’. . . 

 


World Milk Day

June 1, 2020

Today is World Milk Day:

. . . Twenty years ago, World Milk Day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to recognize the importance of milk as a global food, and to celebrate the dairy sector. Each year since, the benefits of milk and dairy products have been actively promoted around the world, including how dairy supports the livelihoods of one billion people. 

This year, we are hoping to break new records in terms of outreach, participation and promotion for the 20th anniversary of World Milk Day. Given concerns over COVID-19, we don’t recommend holding in-person events, but instead suggest focusing efforts on social and traditional media efforts.  . .


Rural round-up

May 30, 2020

Southland on the brink – Peter Burke:

Southland is teetering on the edge of a bad situation, according to DairyNZ’s lead consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch.

He says if they can’t get rid of cull cows soon and if the weather doesn’t play its part, current problems will get even worse.

Southland is facing a major feed shortage, but not because of the drought – because of too much rain. The problem is that farmers came out of a pretty hard winter and a very wet spring, which delayed any winter crops being put in the spring, says Finch. . .

Fonterra and Air NZ race emergency protein order to the US for Covid-19 patients – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra teams have scrambled to answer an emergency call from the US for a big supply of a specialised protein product for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

After racing to make the hydrolysate product at its specialist plant which was about to close down for the season, the big dairy company chartered an Air NZ 787 jet to fly the first batch – 24 metric tonnes – direct to Chicago to be used in a medical food formula for intubated Covid-19 patients.

The SoS from a long-time big American customer came as the only Fonterra processing site that makes the special whey protein hydrolysate, the Hautapu factory near Cambridge, was preparing to shut and most of its 220 staff either to take annual leave or start annual maintenance work. . . 

Scientists understand cattle not climate villains, but media still missing message – James Nason,:

FOR a long time emissions from cattle have been lumped in with emissions from other sources as the same destructive forces for the planet in the global climate change narrative.

However, through research overseen by scientists including Dr Frank Mitloehner (right) from the University of California Davis and Dr Myles Allen from Oxford University, scientific consensus is starting to build around the point that livestock-related greenhouse gases are distinctively different from greenhouse gases associated with other sectors of society (more on this below).

Dr Mitloehner, an internationally recognised air quality expert, explained to the Alltech One virtual conference on Friday night (Australian time) that the concept of accounting for methane according to its Global Warming Potential, as opposed to just its volume of CO2 equivalent, which showed that not all greenhouse gases are created equal, has now made it all the way to the International Panel on Climate Change. . . 

Deer sector ready for challenges – Annette Scott:

After several seasons of strong export returns New Zealand’s venison farmers are well positioned to overcome the severe trade disruptions of covid-19, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

But the industry and venison marketers make no attempt to sugar-coat the difficult situation they are dealing with.

Holgate said venison producers have enjoyed a good run benefitting from healthy export sales into both established and new markets. 

“In the last five years we’ve seen significant export growth in the United States, partly due to increased demand for venison in pet food while we’ve also seen strong sales in long-standing European markets such as Germany and Belgium.”   . . 

Wool export contracts shaky – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign wool buyers are threatening to walk away from contracts with New Zealand exporters as they fight to survive the global coronavirus lockdown.

That was just one factor behind a savage 25% slump in crossbred wool prices at the first auction since the local lockdown ended at Napier on Thursday.

Exporter Masurel Fils managing director Peter Whiteman said many foreign buyers were being forced into desperate measures because of shut factories as well as a collapse in demand for the textiles they produced.

“We still sell a lot of wool to Europe and the UK for spinning to make carpets. Those customers are asking us for delays. . . 

NZ olive oil makes win big Kiwis encouraged to buy local:

Kiwis are being encouraged to support local and buy world-beating olive oil made by New Zealand growers, who have won seven Gold Medals at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Olive growers from Waiheke to Wairarapa and Kapiti and Nelson to Canterbury won top accolades at the competition, considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. New Zealand punched above its weight, taking home its best ever results against 26 other countries.

Stephen Davies Howard, Owner of Loopline in the Wairarapa, won two golds, one each for his Picholene and Picual oils. He says if New Zealanders ever needed a reason to buy local, the time is now. . . 


Rural round-up

May 21, 2020

“Geen tape’ policies should be put on hold – Simon Bridges :

National leader Simon Bridges wants the government to put off “green tape” policies in the farming and primary sector.

The comments were in response to a question asked during a presentation to the Otago Chamber of Commerce, on whether the government needed to change some of its policies it wanted to introduce in the primary sector.

Bridges said it was one thing to have certain policies in good times and another during a time of deep recession or depression.

“Some of the policies around climate change, water, a variety of other areas of green tape I think are going to be unhelpful at this time.

“I’m not suggesting these issues aren’t important, they are, but the facts have changed and we need to change what we do.” . . 

Prices drop for sheep and beef farmers:

Prices paid to sheep and beef cattle farmers and meat manufacturers both fell sharply in the March 2020 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

Sheep, beef, and grain farmers received 11.5 percent less for their products in the March quarter, reversing rises over most of 2019. In turn, prices paid to meat manufacturers were down 4.4 percent in the March quarter.

“The sharp fall in prices for sheep and beef farming in the first three months of 2020 coincided with dry conditions in many parts of New Zealand, with sheep and beef prices falling,” business prices acting manager Geoffrey Wong said. . . 

How to export your way out of a financial crisis – a 10 point plan for New Zealand – Charles Finny:

The hugely successful coronavirus response means New Zealand is well-placed for an export-led recovery, writes Charles Finny in this paper for the SSANSE Commission for a Post-Covid Future at the University of Canterbury.

New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 has come at an enormous economic cost. If we don’t move very fast that cost will increase greatly, and if we are not careful we will be left with a really perverse result. We will be even more dependent on one market, China, and on one sector, agriculture, than we were before going into this crisis.

Of course, China will continue to be an important market for New Zealand for many years to come and agriculture is critical to our future – but we don’t want all our eggs in a couple of baskets, particularly as China has in recent years shown a propensity to use trade dependency as a political lever.

In 2019 China took: . . 

Nine Van Leeuwen Group farms offered for sale :

Nine Van Leeuwen Group farms are up for sale, close to three years after cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was discovered on more than a dozen properties owned by the South Canterbury-based company.

Sixteen properties belonging to the group had restricted place notices imposed on them by the Ministry for Primary Industries in July 2017 after the outbreak of the bacterial cattle disease, in an effort to control the movement of stock.

At the time two dozen cows on one of the group’s farms tested positive for the disease, the first identified in New Zealand. . . 

Rain brings relief to Hawke’s Bay farmers over weekend – but the drought isn’t over yet – Bonnie Flaws:

For the first time since the drought began, Hawke’s Bay has had double digit rainfall over the weekend, bringing much needed relief to farmers in the region.

Farmers have been under extraordinary pressure in recent months as coronavirus compounded the issues brought about by the drought.

Rain fell all weekend on the farms of Hawke’s Bay, which saw sample measurements of rainfall for the week reach approximately 30 millimetres in the Southern Ranges, south coast and Tangoio as well as some northern coastal areas and ranges. . . 

Taranaki accounting specialist urges farmers to be proactive about their future finances :

The $500,000 government funding for drought recovery has been welcomed by the dairy industry. However, with the current global uncertainty limiting the ability to predict where the milk price will land and the negative implications of COVID-19 affecting contractors’ and farmers’ income, Dairy NZ and Baker Tilly Staples Rodway have teamed up to highlight the need for farmers to understand their finances.

Taranaki farm accounting specialist, Amanda Burling, of Baker Tilly Staples Rodway said: “It’s been a challenging time for the Dairy Industry. The drought, along with the impacts of Covid-19 are providing a lot of uncertainty. The sale yards in lockdown along with the works slowing down due to social distancing rules has had an impact on cashflow. Now we must work together to prepare for next spring.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 6, 2020

Turning the environmental table on urban households – Cameron Bagrie:

Farmers have worn the pointed fingers on the envirionment despite most playing by the rules and many doing even better than what the rules require. It is rural communities we can thank for much of the environmental progress we’ve already made.

There are isolated instances of poor behaviour – just as in any industry, but in aggregate, farmers are moving forward.

Increasingly, farmers have been required to operate under Farm Management Plans (FMPs), against which their environmental performance is audited.

City folk should consider what their equivalent of an FMP – call it a Household Management Plan – would look like. . .

New Zealand Agricultural Show cancelled  – Tracy Neal:

The South Island’s largest springtime event, the New Zealand Agricultural Show, has been cancelled for the first time since World War 2.

Organisers said public safety concerns and a fragile financial position were behind the decision to cancel this year’s November show.

The Canterbury A&P Association made the announcement today, saying the likelihood of a lingering response to the Covid-19 crisis made planning for such a large event untenable.

It was now also calling for public help to secure the event’s long-term future. . .

Two-pronged approach needed to address dairy staff shortfall:

DairyNZ is calling on the Government to work with the dairy sector to address a looming staff shortage for the coming season, that has been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19.

By the end of September around 2500 visas are due to expire for migrant staff currently working on dairy farms. Many are based in Canterbury, Waikato, Southland and Otago. Both farmers and farm staff are desperately seeking certainty.

“We estimate that even if all migrant dairy workers currently in New Zealand were retained, there could be a shortfall of up to 1000 employees for the coming dairy season,” said Dr Tim Mackle, DairyNZ chief executive.

“This suggests that we are going to need to take a two-pronged approach to address the staffing shortfall that will include both retaining our migrant workforce and recruiting new Kiwis into our dairy sector. . .

NZ coconut and avocado oil producer to expand into the Pacific :

A New Zealand coconut and avocado oil producer, who is promising Pacific farmers much higher returns than they currently get, hopes to start operating within just months.

Whangarei-based Cocavo is headed by Chris Nathan who has been trying to set up operations in Fiji since 2018.

He said it’s taken awhile to find the right piece of land, and there were other difficulties, but they now have equipment, and building should soon be underway.

Mr Nathan said there is also strong interest from Luganville on Vanuatu’s Espirito Santo. . .

Safe domestic travel should be considered at Level 2:

The New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association and Game Animal Council are joining other tourism and recreation organisations in calling for an easing of domestic travel restrictions at Alert Level 2.

“Hunting guides, helicopter operators, accommodation providers and outfitters have suffered considerably through the lockdown,” says New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association President James Cagney. “Domestic travel will allow some of these businesses to restructure their offerings to New Zealand customers and keep operating.”

“While the industry has missed out on this year’s roar there is still fantastic late-autumn and winter hunting available, particularly for bull tahr, chamois, red stags and late rut sika. It would be fantastic if New Zealand hunters were able to get out and enjoy these opportunities and at the same time support the livelihoods of those in the industry.” . . 

Dairy processors warn on coronavirus disruption – Carlene Dowie:

Executives from two of Australia’s biggest dairy processors have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting markets in ways not seen before.

Bega chairman Barry Irvin and Fonterra chief financial officer Marc Rivers told the Pac Partners/Westpac 2020 Agfood Virtual Conference on Wednesday having diverse manufacturing options had allowed them to adapt.

Both pointed to immediate lower commodity prices but saw glimmers of positivity for the future.

And both said there was a need for further rationalisation of Australia’s dairy manufacturing base. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 3, 2020

No room for a too-hard basket – Annette Scott:

The role of primary industries will be more acute than ever as the nation looks to future-proof its economy, International Network of Government Science Advice chairman Sir Peter Gluckman says.

With tourism in big trouble for the foreseeable future the role of the primary sector in food and fibre production will be critical for New Zealand’s future both short and long term.

How to get more value out of the agricultural sector and make it more efficient is the challenge ahead, Gluckman said. . . 

Food producers can do without the green shackles when they are driving the post-virus economic recovery – Point of Order:

What’s  to   celebrate in the  wake of   the crushing  blow  to   the  economy  delivered   by the Covid-19   pandemic?

Certainly it’s a relief    NZ  has emerged  less  scarred  than other  countries.  Whether the country absorbed   more   economic  pain  than  was necessary will be   debated fiercely.

As   ministers   begin  the  search  to  fill  the economic hole left  by the  collapse of the  tourist industry  and  by  permanent  damage – perhaps –  to sectors like international education,  PM  Jacinda  Ardern  says  she  wants “specific” and “ specially designed” initiatives for  different  industries. . . 

DairyNZ welcomes regional water storage announcement:

DairyNZ is welcoming the water storage initiatives for drought-stricken Northland and Hawke’s Bay but is urging the Government to consider a national strategy, says DairyNZ strategy and investment leader – responsible dairy, Dr David Burger.

“This announcement will be welcome news for farmers in the Northland and Hawke’s Bay regions who have really been doing it tough this summer with very little rain,” said Dr Burger.

“As a country there are huge opportunities for water storage to help increase reliability of water supply in times of drought, to enable land-use flexibility and farming within environmental limits, and to help regions like Northland unlock their full economic potential.” . .

Coronavirus: New rural magazine bucks trend of media closures amid COVID-19 – Angie Skerrett:

Uncertainty created from the COVID-19 pandemic has failed to dampen the launch of a new magazine which tells stories of rural New Zealand women.

Shepherdess is a new quarterly magazine which aims to “connect, empower and inspire”.

Magazine founder and editor, Manawatu’s Kristy McGregor, said the concept was based on the Australian magazine Graziher. . . 

$1m system to evaluate performance of dairy genetics:

A new $1 million project will develop a new information system to help shape the genetics powering New Zealand’s dairy sector.

The project, backed by funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), will be used to record and collate data on a range of important traits of dairy cows.

Each year physical and behavioural traits of 50,000 dairy cows are assessed by breed societies to help evaluate the performance of New Zealand’s top breeding bulls. . . 

Hunting is a legitimate, humane recreation says Outdoors Council:

A recent public opinion piece by World Animal Protection New Zealand condemning hunting has been roundly criticised by the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ.

“The slagging of duck hunting by WAPNZ is hypocritical, poorly based and not factual,” said CORANZ chairman Andi Cockroft.

In the World Animal Protection NZ press release campaign advisor Christine Rose described as “inexplicable that hunting and shooting is among the priorities agreed suitable for level 3 activities”. . .


Rural round-up

April 22, 2020

Meating needs of hungry Kiwis:

Two farmers have stepped up to help the growing number of families affected by food poverty.

Meat the Need is a new charity set up by Siobhan O’Malley and Wayne Langford to provide a way for farmers to give livestock to food banks and city missions.

The livestock is processed by Silver Fern Farms where it is turned it into mince and distributed to charity groups.

O’Malley said it is not quite right that farmers can feed millions of people overseas but there are still people hungry in New Zealand.  . .

Fonterra chairman’s milk price caution – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra farmers are being told to brace for a lower farm gate milk price next season.

In an email to farmer shareholders last night, Fonterra chairman John Monaghan pointed out that milk production in key markets around the world is up.

This could affect global supply/demand balance that supported “solid” milk price this season.

Fonterra is forecasting a milk price range of $7 to $7.60/kgMS this season. It will announce the opening forecast for the 2020-21 season late May. . . 

Essential food processors take massive wage subsidies – Brent Melville:

Primary food processors deemed essential under government’s lockdown restrictions, have received wage subsidies totalling about $90 million.

The Ministry of Social Development’s online tool, developed to promote transparency of payments under the scheme, shows that the two major meat companies account for a combined $77.7 million.

Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have been paid subsidies of $43.3 million and $34.4 million respectively to supplement wages for a combined 11,000 workers. . .

NZ Food processing sector’s key role in NZ’s post Covid-19 recovery :

NZ’s processed food sector is well placed to support New Zealand’s economic and social recovery from the global COVID-19 crisis, according to the head of food science and innovation hub, FoodHQ.

FoodHQ CEO, Dr Abby Thompson says under Level 4 there has been unprecedented examples of collaboration and innovation in the NZ food industry, in order to overcome the obstacles of lockdown at home and abroad.

“The level of activity and enthusiasm that companies, scientists and entrepreneurs have applied to the problem of processing and supplying food has been outstanding.” . .

Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards champions named:

At a time when kiwis are rediscovering home cookery, the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards is delighted to announce its 2020 Champions – the best of the country’s locally grown and made food and drink products.

Organic farmers, Bostock Brothers, were named Supreme Champion for theirOrganic Whole Chicken. Hawke’s Bay brothers Ben and George Bostock have their chickens roam free on their parents former apple orchard. They pride themselves on letting their chickens grow naturally, feeding them home-grown organic maize and giving them longer, happier lives. As well as how they grow their chooks it’s what they don’t do which adds to flavour. Bostock’s chicken is free of chemicals and antibiotics and when it comes to processing their product does not receive chlorine baths. The judges raved about the product saying, ‘Outstanding flavour, succulent and delicious.’ .  .

Dairy farmers to cast milk solids levy vote:

Dairy farmers are encouraged to have their say in the milksolids levy vote 2020, which is now open for voting. It is a one-in-six year vote for industry good organisation, DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel said the milksolids levy funds industry good activities through DairyNZ which delivers dairy sector research, development, advocacy and expertise.

“The milksolids levy has been part of New Zealand dairy farming for 17 years. Its roots are in funding work that enables farmers to continue thriving in an ever-changing world. With the challenges of COVID-19, the changing nature of farming has never been more real,” said Mr van der Poel. . .

Blue chip East Coast station placed on the market for sale:

The rare opportunity to purchase an iconic, high-performing East Coast station is drawing strong interest from farmers and investors throughout New Zealand.

Mangaheia Station near Tolaga Bay is on the market for the first time in many years, offering a unique opportunity for buyers to tap into on-going strong returns anticipated from the red meat market in a prime winter growing location.

Simon Bousfield, Bayleys Gisborne agent says Mangaheia’s uniqueness is due as much to its scale as to the strong level of investment the property has enjoyed in recent years. . . 


Rural round-up

April 19, 2020

Dairy farmers committed to water quality – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers are committed to protecting New Zealand’s environment and taking action on-farm to support that, says DairyNZ.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for environment, Dr David Burger says the dairy sector is on the journey to improve and protect water quality outcomes.

His comments came at the release of Our Freshwater 2020 report, highlighting New Zealand’s environmental challenges and where we can all play our part.

“Our farmers have been working toward this for over a decade. We are continuing to do more every year,” says Burger.  . .

Demand in China good news for Fonterra :

China’s economy is “slowly returning to normal”, a fact that is reflected in last week’s positive Global Dairy Trade auction, says Fonterra’s Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers.

“Chinese participation [in the GDT] was pretty strong and it gives us some hope. China’s experience with Covid shows us that overall demand for dairy does recover” Rivers told The Country Early Edition’s Rowena Duncum.

Fonterra was also beginning to see demand for “out of home consumption” returning, as China started to open up more restaurants, said Rivers. . . 

NZ economy – sapped by Covid-19 – gets a lift from exports helped by kiwifruit – Point of Order:

The Covid-19 pandemic has savaged   several   of  New Zealand’s major  foreign exchange  earners,  particularly  tourism.  Even those still  trading  into  markets  that have   held up  well   face  an uncertain  outlook.

Yet the red  meat industry, whose exports earned NZ $9bn last year, and  the  $3bn  kiwifruit   industry  look as if they will be up there with the dairy  industry  as vital  props  underpinning  the  NZ  economy over coming years.

For  meat  producers, after the significant drop at the beginning of the year from the combined effect of Chinese New Year and Covid-19,  the return of China to the market, has been a positive factor compensating for the pandemic-led disruption to traditional European and North American markets. . . 

Lack of market access still a concern for growers in level 3 response – Tracy Neal:

The country’s fruit and vegetable growers say moving to level 3 on the Covid-19 scale will ease pressure on some in the sector, but many consumers still won’t be able to get their greens.

From later next week businesses and industries not considered essential, but able to demonstrate they can operate safely, could be back up and running if the government announces on Monday a move to level 3.

Head of Horticulture New Zealand, Mike Chapman, said that was good news for orchard development programmes as construction, trades and manufacturing look set to be revived. . .

Covid-19 level 3 hunting ban:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association Inc (NZDA) is disappointed that hunting has seemingly been blanket banned following the Government’s release of its Covid-19 Level 3 guidance yesterday.

The NZDA is calling for a re-think and further clarification by Government and strongly recommends that hunting should be permitted at Level 3 subject to the overriding health and safety guidelines imposed on permitted activities and adherence to the “keep it local” and “apply common sense” principles stated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

NZDA National President, Trevor Chappell says, “There are many elements that make up hunting and that needs careful consideration by Government. The NZDA is open to consultation and can help draft a framework for hunters. NZDA also strongly advises that Government urgently seeks the input of the Game Animal Council, Fish & Game, Mountain Safety Council, Professional Guides Association and others like the NZDA who each can offer a deep understanding on the subject because we all represent different stakeholders in the hunting industry”. . .

Economic recovery from Covid 19 through development of infrastructure – Primary Land Users Group:

Currently New Zealand is in the early stages of an economic crisis due to the advent of the Coronavirus and its effects through the level 4 Emergency lockdown provisions and others.

The current coalition government is proposing taking direct action to support the economic recovery from the effects of the lockdown by using infrastructure development in what they are calling “shovel ready projects” to stimulate the national economy.

This is in effect a brilliant strategy “Yeah Right”.

Anybody that truly believes this strategy will give the desired results must be totally divorced from the actual reality of New Zealand’s development constrictions with the most influential one being the Resource Management Act. . .  . . 

NZDIA national judging programme to continue:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) are pleased to announce that Nationals Judging 2020 will continue, within the guidelines of Covid-19 restrictions.

“After consulting our finalists, national sponsors and stakeholders, we have carefully designed a robust judging process that will enable a fair and level playing field, minimise stress to entrants and focus on finding the best farmers,” says NZDIA General Manager, Robin Congdon.

“Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, finalists will be asked to submit their presentations for judging digitally and speak with the judges online rather than face-to-face.” . . 

South Island salmon harvest survey to start:

South Island salmon anglers are being asked for their help in the first east coast wide salmon harvest survey.

The Nelson/Marlborough, North Canterbury, Central South Island and Otago Fish and Game Councils are asking anglers to actively participate in the annual sea-run salmon harvest survey that is about to be undertaken.

The survey comes at a critical time when sea run salmon populations are at depressed levels and the Covid-19 alert level restrictions may compromise the ability of Fish & Game to undertake annual population monitoring in the field, like helicopter-assisted spawning surveys. . . 

 

 


Thanks NZ ag supply chain

April 16, 2020

We’re all in this together

April 11, 2020

The Waimate District shows just how important primary production and processing are:

While New Zealand’s sprawling cities have become synonymous with quiet, empty streets during the nationwide lockdown, it’s business as usual for nearly three-quarters of workers in a small South Canterbury district.

In Waimate, about 40km south of Timaru, freezing works, dairy factories, and the various farms spread across the district are still operating. 

Despite minor oddities and small routine changes in light of the Government’s attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus through a national lockdown, most of them say it is business as usual. . . 

The Waimate District of about 8000 people has one of the country’s highest rates of employment in the sectors deemed essential by the Government. 

A report from economic development agency ChristchurchNZ estimated 73 per cent of workers in the district were employed in the essential services.

This was almost twice the national figure of 40.4 per cent. . .

It’s primary produce, servicing and processing that is keeping nearly 3/4 of Waimate’s workers working.

It’s primary produce that is making the major contribution to exports.

It will be primary produce that leads us out of the huge and growing hole that the Covid-19 lockdown has dropped us in.

I hope the people who have been attacking and undermining farming understand that because we’re all in this together and we need all of us together to get out of it.

 


Rural round-up

April 9, 2020

COVID-19: Farming focused on playing its part:

A week into the COVID-19 lockdown, DairyNZ says dairy farmers are settling into life in lockdown but the sector’s focus remains on ensuring support for farms.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the Government support for farming as an essential service has been positive to date and is helping ensure all farms can be kept ticking.

“DairyNZ is working closely with dairy farmers and agri-partners to ensure all farming families, staff and support services are safe, and that farmers have access to the equipment, services and people they need,” said Dr Mackle.

“We all share concerns about the health and economic effects COVID-19 will have on our families, communities and New Zealand, and farmers are working hard to minimise risks to keep their businesses running smoothly. . . 

Milking shed projects stymied by lockdown rules – Rod Oram:

Dairy farmers trying to get ready for the new season are striking lockdown problems, writes Rod Oram

A farmer in Northland has a problem: his milk processor had condemned his milking shed; a new one was under construction; work has stopped because the Government has yet to classify such projects as essential; and precious time is being lost before the new milking season starts in July.

This is a real example playing out now, says Justin Thompson, DeLaval’s vice president of sales and support in Oceania. The Swedish-based company, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of milking systems, is supplying equipment to the Northland project. But as soon as New Zealand went into Covid-19 lockdown, subcontractors packed up and left the site. . . 

Commodity prices continue to fall but offset by weakening dollar:

Commodity prices continue to fall as the impact of the Covid-19 virus continues to be felt on international markets, but the blow is being cushioned by a weaker New Zealand dollar.

The ANZ World Commodity Price index dropped 2.1 percent in March and has now fallen 8.3 percent in the past four months.

In local currency terms the index actually lifted 3.3 percent due to a sharp fall in the New Zealand dollar.

Dairy, meat and fibre, forestry and aluminium all fell, but horticulture remain unchanged. . .

Chair of Ballance Agri-Nutrients retires in September:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited Chairman David Peacocke, is stepping down as a Director in September 2020 at the Annual Shareholders Meeting (ASM). Duncan Coull has been elected as the new Chair by the Board of Directors taking up the post after the ASM.

David a Waikato farmer and businessman has been a Ballance Director since 2005 and was elected as Chair in 2013.

“After 15 years, seven as Chair, this is a logical step in the Ballance board’s succession planning and I felt it was time to let someone else take up the challenge,” says David.

“Duncan is the right person to lead Ballance into our next phase , he brings a strong personal view that we need to work collaboratively as a sector to be future-ready.” . . 

Forestry industry preparing for back to work

Forest industry organisations are planning how to get back to work when restrictions on non-essential work are lifted for the industry.

Organisations, representing forest growers, transport, processing and contractors have set up a working group to develop risk assessment protocols in readiness for start-up of the industry sector.

The National Safety Director of the Forest Industry Safety Council, Fiona Ewing says the aim is to assure government that the sector will be able to comply with the epidemic management conditions of COVID-19. . . 

Update on 2020 Awards:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards final four regional winners and placegetters have been announced via Facebook Live video and were warmly received by entrants, winners, sponsors and supporters.

The New Zealand dairy industry is resilient, flexible and adaptable to change. The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, adapting and leading with their response to the Covid19 crisis, can be seen as a reflection of the industry and all entrants.

Entrants, families, supporters and sponsors watched with excitement and anticipation in their bubbles. There were hundreds of live streams out numbering the usual attendance to the dinners. It was magical to see the live engagement and comments and likes floating up the screen during the announcements. . . 


Rural round-up

March 25, 2020

Farmers urged to continue producing food:

New Zealand farmers are being urged to carry on producing food while respecting coronavirus guidelines issued by the Government.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says farming is classified as an essential service, so is milk and meat processing.

Lewis says that meat and dairy companies will continue to operate as the country moves into the highest level of alert for coronavirus from midnight Wednesday. . . 

Coronavirus: Farmers’ mental health important says Katie Milne -:

Farmers may be used to isolation but they still need to take care of their mental health says Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

As efforts to slow the Covid-19 outbreak escalate in New Zealand, people are being asked to stay home and keep their distance from others, while social gatherings and events have been also cancelled.

As a result, farmers may find themselves cut off from everyday rural events that afford them much-needed social interaction, such as rugby games and catch ups at the pub. . . 

Friendly solution to farm water issues – Richard Davison:

A farmer-led catchment monitoring group wants to expand its activities following a successful first year.

In 2014, the Pathway for the Pomahaka water quality improvement project was launched in West Otago, which led to the establishment of the Pomahaka Water Care Group.

Last February, the award-winning group launched the latest phase of its action plan, in the shape of a ‘‘Best Practice Team’’ of 12 volunteers, set up to provide ‘‘self-policing’’ of water quality compliance among the catchment’s about 600 farms.

Team co-ordinator Bryce McKenzie — who farms 700 cows on 320ha adjoining the Pomahaka River — said the concept had worked well during its inaugural year. . . 

Westland Milk unveils Covid-19 strategy:

Westland Milk Products says Covid-19 is causing “minimal disruption” to its supply chains, with the company working to meet rising demand from China.

The second-largest dairy enterprise in New Zealand says domestic demand for its product range is also remaining consistent.

To keep up with demand in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company this morning announced that it is issuing measures to keep staff well and the factory running. . . 

Research reveals fodder beet value – Annette Scott:

New research into fodder beet shows portion control is critical to ensure safe feeding to dairy cows.

Fodder beet is widely used on South Island dairy farms as a versatile, high-energy, high-yield crop that allows cows to put on body condition quickly, if transitioned correctly. 

“This makes it an attractive option for farmers but because of the high sugar content careful transitioning onto the crop is critical,” DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said.

The Sustainable Use of Fodder Beet research project confirms the crop can be a key part of dairy farm systems. . . 

 

Butchers run off their feet – and it’s not expected to ease – Shan Goodwin:

As butchers report they are now mincing higher value cuts like rump to keep up with astronomical demand, marketing experts and psychologists suggest empty red meat supermarket shelves are likely to be around for months.

It’s not that Australia will run out of beef. Export and food service orders are already being diverted to retail cabinets.

Rather, the unfolding dynamics of consumer behaviour amid the virus crisis indicates the inclination to fill freezers won’t fade. . . 


Rural round-up

March 9, 2020

South Otago group buying in to idea of improving environment – Richard Davison:

Southern farmers have come in for a public bashing in certain sections of the media during recent months, as unflattering winter grazing conditions hit the spotlight. Richard Davison takes a look at a group offarmers demonstrating poor environmental practice is the exception, rather than the rule.

Taken at face value, it would be easy to believe the agricultural sector has paid no heed to governmental directives and public appeals to join the clean water revolution now gaining in momentum.

But invest even a moment to dig a little more deeply and peer through the quaggy murk, and that notion is quickly dispelled.

The award-winning Pathway for the Pomahaka agricultural catchment water-quality improvement scheme, started in 2015, has begun to expand into eight more South Otago catchments, bringing with it tried-and-tested techniques, and a spirit of experimentation that is about to be enthusiastically adopted by new stakeholder farmer groups. . .

Airport dairy training school still in limbo – Daniel Birchfield:

Plans for a dairy training farm at Oamaru Airport remain on the back-burner as visa processing delays continue to thwart the National Trade Academy’s ability to enrol international students.

Plans to establish the school, next to the academy-affiliated New Zealand Airline Academy, were announced in August last year.

It was due to open this month, but the academy was not able to fill classes.

The issue arose when six overseas visa processing offices were closed by Immigration New Zealand last year. . .

Let the harvest begin:

Kiwifruit picking is underway in Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty, signalling the beginning of the 2020 kiwifruit harvest.

The 2020 season is forecast to be another very large crop with around 155 million trays of Green and Gold kiwifruit expected to be picked in orchards and packed in packhouses across New Zealand from Northland to Motueka. This year’s crop is forecast to be well up from the 147 million trays exported in 2019.

It is predominantly the Gold variety which is first picked, followed by Green kiwifruit in late March. The last fruit is picked in June. . .

Public, media support of dairying – Hugh Stringleman:

Mainstream media organisations are not anti-dairy farming or beating up on the industry, DairyNZ communications manager Lee Cowan says.

Media items about dairying, across all forms of media, have remained more than 90% positive or neutral over the past three years of analytics, she told Farmers Forums throughout the country in the past month.

Cowan said the problem is sensitivity bias among dairy farmers who are interested in articles about dairying and who therefore read or watch them and are more likely to have an opinion. . .

Sarah’s Country | Spirulina’s for drinking, water’s for fighting – Sarah Perriam:

A favourite saying of Grandad C R Perriam was “Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting”. Nothing has changed since the fight between gold miners and farmers in Central Otago in the 1800s, till now.

We have never had so much technology at our fingertips to preserve water in human history so the fight is about the social licence for every drop.

This week in Sarah’s Country we discover the exploding future of super-foods grown from algae in water with Justin Hall from Tahi Spirulina, New Zealand’s first spirulina farm on how this diversified, plant-based market is on fire. . .

Research to explore benefits of sheep grazing on lucerne:

British farmers are to learn from their counterparts in New Zealand as new research explores the benefits of sheep grazing on lucerne.

The farmer-led field lab will look at grazing ewes and lambs on only lucerne – a legume that is widely used as forage for sheep in New Zealand.

It is valued for its high yield, drought tolerance, protein content, and digestible fibre.

Farmers taking part will assess lucerne’s potential in finishing lambs quicker, tolerating low rainfall, and reducing fertiliser inputs by fixing nitrogen in the soil. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 8, 2020

No need to destroy the perfect way of farming – Lone Sorensen:

Why are we accusing farming and in particularly dairy farming for being the cause, at least here in NZ, for global warming?

Would it by any chance be because it is a lot easier finding a scapegoat to blame everything on than actually cleaning up one’s own back yard first.

The atmosphere now contains 409 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO₂), when it is claimed that it can only cope with 350 ppm without a change in climate. The reason for this is that for the last 200 years, or since the industrial revolution, we have overused the earth’s resources of fossil fuels and by industrialising our farming methods also the humus in the soil: basically an overuse of stored carbon in the ground which we have turned in to CO₂, and methane. All this has made our life as humans more comfortable, but it has come at a cost.  . .

Biosecurity cost blowout for councils – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers is warning rural district councils could face cost blowouts in meeting the requirements of the Government’s National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

Councils will have to map all land classified as a significant natural area in five years.

They already have to protect and map those areas in district plans and many have already done so. 

However, the new policy changes the criteria of for those areas, meaning some councils might have to redo their mapping, Federated Farmers regional policy analyst Paul Le Miere told about 20 farmers at a meeting in Te Awamutu. . .

Award for irrigation innovation :

Farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation could win a trip to America.

Encouraging farmers to share their ideas for sustainable water management has motivated the launch of an award by agricultural irrigation systems company Zimmatic.

The Zimmatic Trailblazer Sustainable Irrigation Awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainable irrigation. recognising farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation, innovative water management and environmental stewardship. . . 

Being a good boss:

If you’re a dairy farmer reading this, then ask yourself, are you a good boss?

Do you value your workers and is their wellbeing your priority? 

Most farmers are good employers and to celebrate this, industry stakeholders have launched the Good Boss campaign.

A sector-wide initiative by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Dairy Women’s Network and NZ Young Farmers it was launched last month . . 

M Bovis research to look at milk yield impact– Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is commissioning new research into the impacts of Mycoplasma bovis on cattle in New Zealand.

Scientists at Massey University would undertake the one- to two-year study, where they would look at the symptoms of the cattle disease, the effects on milk yield and composition and the duration of these effects.

MPI chief science advisor John Roche said the work would help accelerate eradication of the disease from New Zealand farms and minimise the negative impacts. . .

 

Red meat exports reach more than $870 million in January as sector demonstrates resilience:

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $873.2 million in January 2020, an increase of 26 per cent compared to January 2019, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite global market instability as a result of the Coronavirus, the market prices achieved in January were still stronger than the same month last year. The value of beef exports was up by 50 per cent sheepmeat was up by 18 per cent and co-products were up two per cent.

While the average value of sheepmeat exports to China declined from $8.87/kg in December 2019 to $7.63/kg in January, it was still significantly higher than in January 2019 ($6.57/kg). . . 

Whenua Ora Tangata Ora partnership leads the way forward in regenerative agriculture:

An initiative targeted at establishing and supporting a critical mass of New Zealand landowners to use regenerative farming practices was launched today.

Whenua Ora Tangata Ora is a joint partnership between FOMA Innovation, the science and technology arm of the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA); Soil Connection, biological farming and soil health experts; and Toha, an environmental impact platform that recently launched Calm The Farm to support farmers to reduce their environmental and climate impacts while improving financial resilience.

“Transforming ‘industrial farming’ practices in Aotearoa through regenerative agriculture to reflect true kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is the way of the future,” says FOMA Innovation lead representative, Te Horipo Karaitiana. . .


Rural round-up

March 6, 2020

Be a good boss and we’re unstoppable – Sudesh Kissun:

A dairy sector made up of good bosses would make us unstoppable, says Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Chris Lewis.

Good bosses would attract workers to dairy farms. “Therefore, the recruitment process would be more competitive and the calibre of those you employed would increase,” he says.

“Your staff would solve more problems, find more opportunities therefore you and your farm business would be more successful.” . . 

Where the big dry really hurts :

It was shaping up to be Bill Cashmore’s best year on the farm with record prices for beef and lamb, but the worst drought he’s ever known has put paid to that.

The deputy mayor of Auckland and his son Robert who runs the 1220-hectare sheep and beef farm in Clevedon, about an hour south east of Auckland’s CBD, will have to make some drastic decisions if no rain comes in the next couple of weeks.

It’s so dry old native trees growing next to a stream are dying and the brown summer grass has turned grey. Cashmore describes it as ‘fried”. . . 

The Golden Shears: Woolly sheep bring sheer excitement to competitors :

The country’s best shearers are gearing up for a busy day of finals today at The Golden Shears in Masterton.

Destiny Paikea, of Ngāti Whātua descent, has qualified for the Junior Shearing Final.

Paikea comes from a long line of shearers and grew up in the West Otago as a wool handler.

She eventually began competing in shearing competitions two years ago. . .

Average Canterbury farmer ‘just treading water’ – Nigel Malthus:

Half of Canterbury dairy farms aren’t operating profitably, says Ashburton farm consultant Jeremy Savage.

“The average Canterbury dairy farmer at the moment is just treading water: that would be the polite way of putting it,” he said.

“And that’s the average. If the average is just treading water there’s a number of dairy farmers . .

Sector comes together to support drought-hit farmers:

Northland Inc’s Extension 350 has combined with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ to provide a reference point for farmers battling to respond to the effects of the worst drought in years.

This is being done by bringing together a number of Northland farmers who will share their responses to the situation via the Northland Inc website, with weekly updates on their current focus and actions.

“This sector-wide collaboration creates an overview to help farmers prioritise their actions, focus on their farms and manage their wellbeing through this extremely stressful period,” said Luke Beehre, Project Lead of Extension 350 (E350), the award-winning farmer-led and farmer-focused programme. . .

Fonterra chairman confirms retirement in October:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) Chairman John Monaghan has confirmed that he will retire as a Director of the Co-operative when his current 3-year term ends at its Annual Meeting this November.

In a note to the Co-operative’s farmer-owners and unitholders, Mr Monaghan explained that his decision was the next step in the Fonterra Board’s development and succession planning.

“After 11 years as a Director, and having seen through the introduction of our new strategy, operating model, and with our debt reduction efforts well progressed, the timing is right for me and for the Co-op. . .

Pāmu welcomes major US investment in ag sector technology:

The investment by major United States company Merck and Co in FarmIQ, is an endorsement of the technology that Pāmu has been championing since the inception of the agri-tech company, Pāmu Chief Executive Steven Carden says.

“This latest investment from a global player in animal health and welfare confirms the vision we had when FarmIQ was started, which was to enable greater productivity by joining up the whole agriculture data ecosystem,” Mr Carden said.

Pāmu holds a 30% shareholding in FarmIQ and is one of its original shareholders and biggest customers. The company has actively championed changes such as the Health and Safety module widely used by FarmIQ customers. . . 

Key kiwifruit operator’s packing and coolstore property for sale while industry booms:

A medium-sized Takanini packhouse and coolstore used exclusively for post-harvest in the $2.9 billion New Zealand kiwifruit industry is on the market for sale and leaseback.

The 7,223 square metre Auckland Pack & Cool (Apac) facility on 1.1 hectares at 149 Phillip Road, Takanini packs and coolstores kiwifruit for export and distribution by the country’s single desk seller Zespri International.

It is one of the kiwifruit industry’s key post-harvest operators, with the resources to pack about 3.5 million trays each season, and a combined on-site and satellite cool storage capacity for 1.75 million trays. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 27, 2020

Water will be currency of 21st century – Todd Muller:

Water is one of our nation’s critical strategic assets, perhaps second only behind our people. Therefore water storage is essential for ensuring we have a thriving primary sector for years to come, writes National’s Agriculture spokesman Todd Muller.

Water will be the currency of success in the next century.

In the 19th century it was coal, in the 20th century it was oil and in my view in the 21st century it is water.

We are a tradeable economy and water is a critical strategic asset in developing our commodities. The ability to store it will be a key infrastructural necessity if we are to leverage the value of water over the next few decades. . .

Wild rabbit enterprises shot down by red tape:

Federated Farmers is dismayed by reports that at least two businesses which process meat from wild rabbits are being strangled by compliance costs.

“It’s tough times on farms at the moment, with rising rabbit numbers in dry conditions.  With all the focus on predator-free and biodiversity, surely we should be working with and encouraging the commercial use of pest species, not making it harder for operators,” Feds Meat & Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.

Radio NZ has reported that the owner of a business supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants, and for pet food, is spending up to 40 hours a week on paperwork, never mind growing MPI audit fees at $176 an hour.  As with another Canterbury-based processor, he told Radio NZ he was thinking of closing down. . .

Dairy returns too tiny for farmers – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers have many reasons for optimism though three out of four say the returns are not worth the effort, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says.

Many farmers are asking themselves why they still bother dairying and his task is to help clear the fog and rekindle motivation, he told the DairyNZ Northland farmers forum.

Farmers are worried about environmental, banking, farm value, alternative food, drought and disease pressures. . .

Weevil win – we knocked the bastard off – Karen WIlliams:

Hats off to you, Wairarapa.  In the words of another Kiwi who achieved a world-first, “we knocked the bastard off”.

Okay, eradicating the region’s pea weevil incursion isn’t as grand as Ed Hillary and Tensing Norgay climbing Everest but in terms of biosecurity, and protecting an industry that earns us $50 million in domestic sales and $84 million in exports, it is a big deal.  It’s also another bug we don’t have to spray for.

As far as we know, no other country has successfully combatted this pest after an incursion.

It’s taken a region-wide and government agency effort to get where we are – that’s growers/farmers, home gardeners, Federated Farmers, local councils, Greater Wellington, local MPs, MPI, Biosecurity NZ, the Foundation for Arable Research, Assure Quality…a big thank-you to you all for your perseverance, flexibility and understanding. . .

New app to help hunters track tahr during culling –

A long-term plan is being developed to control Himalayan tahr in the South Island.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the large goat-like animals, introduced to New Zealand during the early days of European settlement, posed a threat to the country’s native alpine plants.

To combat the loss of native vegetation, DOC said it had been working with ecological experts to start a new monitoring system.

The long-term control plan is led by DOC and Ngāi Tahu. . . 

Beef bans based on ‘popular opinion, not facts’, Harper Adams says:

Harper Adams University has said it will never ban beef from its campus menus as it criticises other institutions for their ‘knee-jerk reactions’ to the climate crisis.

In recent years, and even more so in recent months, several UK universities have attracted significant media attention for voting motions to ban beef.

Earlier this month, thousands of students at Edinburgh University rejected proposals to ban the meat in all student union run outlets. . .

 


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