Rural round-up

April 20, 2018

Irrigators should spread good news – Pam Jones:

Responsible irrigators need to spread the word about good work being done in the primary sector, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan says.

Mr Cadogan, who spoke at the opening of the Irrigation New Zealand conference in Alexandra yesterday, said the primary and irrigation sectors were “under pressure” from the public to act responsibly, but did not court publicity and the public therefore sometimes did not know about their positive actions.

Irrigators should not be afraid to “tell the good news”, Mr Cadogan said.

He said it was important for the public to realise there was no direct line between irrigation and degradation of land and water quality, and there was sometimes a disconnect between town and country. . . 

Smarter data push for irrigation – Tom Kitchin:

Data can make irrigation more efficient, Animation Research Ltd owner Ian Taylor told the third and final day of a national body conference yesterday.

Mr Taylor made the point at the 2018 Irrigation New Zealand Conference and Expo in Alexandra yesterday.

“Water is one of the most valuable resources. How can [farmers] manage it more efficiently and how are they held accountable for ways to manage it? Technology has the tools that will allow us to do that,” he said. . . 

Unlisted celebrates first $1 bln issue as Zespri resumes trading after 2018 Gold3 tender – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group’s shares rose to a record when they resumed trading, after being halted for the 2018 allocation of Gold3 kiwifruit licences, pushing the kiwifruit exporter’s market capitalisation to $1.1 billion and making it the first $1 billion company on the Unlisted platform.

Some 16,860 Zespri shares traded today, of which 2,440 changes hands at a record $8.35. The shares first traded at $1.75 after Zespri listed on the Unlisted Securities Exchange in February 2016. . . 

Arden-Peters raid on regionans ramps up:

The Government’s raid on regional New Zealand is ramping up, with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor telling farmers they’ll be taxed thousands for carbon emissions, National’s Nathan Guy and Todd Muller say.

“Mr O’Connor has reportedly told East Coast farmers they’ll be taxed around $5000 to offset their carbon emissions,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“He’s pulling numbers out of the air before the interim Climate Change Committee even begins its work. . . 

Let’s protect our valuable soils, Horticulture New Zealand:

The need to protect New Zealand’s best soils for growing healthy fresh fruit and vegetables is clear in the Our land 2018 report released today, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“This report highlights the expansion in urban areas (a 10 percent increase between 1996 and 2012) and the accompanying loss of some of our most versatile land.

“We have been talking to Government about this issue in Pukekohe, near Auckland, as well as other prime growing areas for fruit and vegetables. Some of this soil is unique, particularly the volcanic soils around Pukekohe where vegetables can be grown all year in a frost free environment. This area feeds a lot of New Zealand. . . 

Te Rapa celebrates 50 years:

For over half a century Te Rapa has been a place of work, a producer of world class dairy, a supportive community and, for some, it has even been home.  

Te Rapa’s official opening on April 20, 1968, was a milestone which represented the confidence the New Zealand Co-Operative Dairy Company (now Fonterra) had in the productive Waikato, it’s dairy farming community and its role in the national economy.

“We had a real sense of community living in that village. There was a swimming pool, tennis courts, a rugby field and always plenty to do when you weren’t working. We had inter-factory rugby and netball competitions in the off season.”  Brian Whittington remembers when the site was being built and moving into the small village on site where 35 key staff members were housed. . . 

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Windblown timber should be recovered

April 10, 2018

The government denied National Party List MP Maureen Pugh support for her Private Members’ Bill which would enable the harvesting of windblown trees on conservation land following adverse weather events.

“Today I moved a motion in Parliament, seeking support from Government MPs to have my bill adopted and set down for first reading next week. My bill would allow the Director General of DOC to authorise the removal of specified windblown trees on Conservation Land following a significant weather event,” Ms Pugh says.

“This a practical bill which embraces environmental responsibility and supports regional economic development.”

The proposed Adverse Weather Timber Recovery on Conservation Lands Bill follows on from the legislation implemented following tropical Cyclone Ita in 2014, which saw a number of native forests in the West Coast and Tasman severely impacted.

“This 2014 legislation was supported right through the process by local MP Damien O’Connor and his Labour colleague Rino Tirikatene. These two MPs saw the need for this legislation at the time, but it is disappointing the Government didn’t take a similar pragmatic approach today when they denied my motion to introduce the bill.

“Removing and processing these windblown trees which would otherwise lie decomposing on the West Coast forest floor would provide jobs for region along with clearing space for native regeneration – two areas which NZ First claims to be passionate about.

“Recent Cyclones Gita and Fehi have made this bill necessary, as large quantities of trees were felled. We need to be prepared by implementing legislation to deal with significant events like this in the future.”

The West Coast lost a lot of jobs when the previous Labour-led government axed the sustainable logging of native trees.

The National-led government introduced legislation to allow wind blown timber to be recovered after a big storm in 2014.

Pugh’s Bill seeks to allow that to continue.

If the government is serious about regional development, it should support this bill.

Removing and processing windblown trees would be much for employment, the environment and the West Coast and wider economy than the waste to energy project which experts advised should not be funded.


Rural round-up

March 24, 2018

Don’t move carcasses ORC warns – Hamish MacLean:

Desperate farmers could be unintentionally sabotaging the release of the new strain of rabbit calicivirus in Otago.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said yesterday he did not want to point fingers, but he had heard “second-hand” that some landowners were attempting to remove carcasses of animals where the virus had been released.

And while “absolutely understandable”, it was a report the council was taking “very, very seriously”, as it could jeopardise plans to create a natural epidemic and knock back the pests’ numbers by up to 40%.

Otago Regional Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said the council’s release of 100 doses of the recently approved RHDV1 K5 (K5) virus was now “substantially complete” with only the “the last few” areas in Queenstown and Coastal Otago outstanding. . . 

Decision time for Gita recovery – Annette Scott:

Taranaki farmers battling the ongoing challenges of the weather gods are facing a critical decision time.

While managing their way through the hammering of Cyclone Gita last month the region’s dairy farmers are also still recovering from the drought, Federated Farmers provincial president Donald McIntyre says.

“Our province was hit this summer with the drought first then we were served another big blow, literally, from the Gita storm. . . 

Officials set up Cook Strait checkpoint to stop cattle disease – Gerard Hutching:

Cattle crossing Cook Strait will be checked from Friday in a bid to stop the disease Mycoplasma bovis travelling north.

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said farmers were not complying with their legal obligations.

“At the weekend I received the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (Nait) Review report, which shows the system is not working well enough. Only 57 per cent of farmers who record their animal movements do so within the required 48 hours. I’m told overall farm-to-farm recording may be as low as 30 per cent.”

Fines of up to $10,000 can be issued for non-compliance. Nait was set up to rapidly and accurately trace animals from birth to slaughter or live export. . . 

Tough times and tough cattle – Annette Scott:

With just a ute, a saddle, a rifle and some dogs as collateral, Rit Fisher walked into a bank in Timaru in 1978 seeking $1.2 million to buy Shenley Station. He told Annette Scott about his odd but fun 40-year farming journey.

Simplicity has been the key to success for Rit Fisher who grew up on Shenley Station, a 3500 hectare sheep and beef property at Albury, inland from Timaru.

Shenley, bought by his grandparents in 1912, has now been farmed by the Fisher family for 106 years. . .

Strong conservation values evident in Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Manaia dairy farmers showing sustainable and appreciable biodiversity and conservation values have won the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Grant, Dinny and Leedom Gibbs from the Gibbs G Trust were announced supreme winners at the region’s awards dinner at the Devon Hotel in New Plymouth on Thursday night (March 22). They will host a field day on their Sutherland Road property on Thursday April 5 at 10.30am.

The dairy farm, 3km south of Manaia on the south Taranaki coast, is among those supervised by Leedom Gibbs, one of Grant and Dinny’s three daughters. Half of the farm is irrigated with two centre-pivots and contains a wetland that was established as part of the farm’s development. Water for the irrigation system is taken by consent from the Waiokura Stream and stock water comes from the Waimate West Water Scheme, on which Grant is a trustee. . .

Whananaki Coastal Charolais owners win Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Whananaki beef farmers Greta and Craig Harman have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The awards were held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands at Paihia, on Wednesday night (21 March). The judges said both the Harmans’ coastal hill properties, home to Whananaki Coastal Charolais, were a showplace of biosecurity and biodiversity management that combine cattle farming, bull breeding and community involvement. They said Greta and Craig have a passion for their stock, the land they farm and for the natural environments that exist within it.

“They show how farming and environmental stewardship can work hand in hand to protect and enhance natural biodiversity while maintaining a productive asset. “The Harmans have completed an extraordinary amount of environmental protection work on the property, not because they had to, but because it was the ‘right thing to do’.” . . 

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Rural round-up

February 17, 2018

Disease has two hubs – Annette Scott:

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for at least two years and is spread wider than first thought, Southland veterinary clinic Vet South says while Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says there are now two infection hubs.

The Winton practice sent an email to clients on Thursday urging people whose stock or properties might have been linked to Southern Centre Dairies to come forward.

Southern Centre Dairies, the hub of infected properties in Southland, is owned by Gea and Alfons Zeestraten.

Vet South director veterinarian Georgette Wouda said Ministry for Primary Industries surveillance work indicated the disease was limited to a relatively small group of farms but more needed to be known.

“Down in our region all of the infected properties to date have links with Alfons Zeestraten’s farms. . .

Lamb and wool marketers confident – Sally Rae:

Farmers visiting Alliance Group’s tent at the Southern Field Days had mostly one burning question — how long could lamb prices be sustained.

And the response? “We feel market fundamentals around the world give us some confidence,” chairman Murray Taggart said.

The North Canterbury farmer acknowledged that his position was a “bit easier” than what it was when he first took on the role.

The mood among farmers was “pretty positive” and, despite climatic conditions, he was “really chuffed” with market prices.

“You’ve done a bloody good job,” a long-time shareholder told Mr Taggart on the way past, but Mr Taggart said the company was not resting on its laurels. . . 

Momentum grows in understanding of farming, farmers – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne believes there is real momentum building for farming — “and in the right way”.

The straight-talking West Coast dairy farmer — who last year broke a 118-year history of male leadership of the rural lobby organisation — has been at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu this week.

Joking that she had left her partner unsupervised around the many machinery sites, she helped a Federated Farmers team to victory over FMG in a tug-o-war competition.

Ms Milne, who is known for her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach,  said the leadership role was “really exciting” and it was a privilege to be a voice for farmers. While she knew it was a big job, it had surprised her the places that she ended up and the people she had met.

It had been somewhat of a baptism by fire, with the general election  being held straight after she came into the role. . . 

Honey season better but patchy – Richard Rennie:

With parts of Northland and Bay of Plenty grappling with major rainfall while parts of Taranaki and Otago remain parched, honey producers are reporting mixed results for the season’s honey collection.

Comvita, one of the country’s largest honey producers, has already informed investors this season has been a successful one, largely thanks to more favourable conditions in December and January. 

However, severe weather in early January hit Northland and Waikato hard at a critical flowering period, pushing yields down towards a more average season.

Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter told investors if the above-normal temperatures remain for the rest of this summer, Wairarapa, Whanganui, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay are expected to have an above average season. . . 

Big toy has price tag to match – Sally Rae:

If you’ve got a spare $625,000 sitting in the wallet, then a Fendt 1050 tractor could be just the ticket.

The world’s largest conventional tractor was attracting plenty of interest at JJ Ltd’s site at the Southern Field Days.

There are only three of the 500hp tractors — described by JJ’s staff as being in a “class of its own” — in New Zealand, two demonstrator models and one that had been bought by a North Island contractor. . . 

NZ Well Positioned to be global player in alternative protein market – producer:

Eco conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein according to the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods.

Mark Roper spokesperson for Life Health Foods – which makes plant based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products, says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet.

A nationwide survey commissioned by the company has found that millennials aged 18-34 are the most likely demographic to adopt a mostly meat-free lifestyle in the next decade. . . 


Rural round-up

February 16, 2018

Drought, disruption undermines farmers’ confidence:

A marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about the ability to recruit suitable staff are stand-out features of the Federated Farmers Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey.

For the first time in two years, farmer optimism has decreased, including negative perceptions of the economy, farm profitability, farm production and farm spending. Farm debt levels have also increased and fewer farms are now debt-free.

The Federated Farmers survey is conducted by Research First twice a year (January and July) and 1070 farmers responded to the questionnaire last month. . . 

Time to get real about forestry – Graham West:

Last year I commented on the high returns from current harvesting, however I don’t believe this is being translated into significant interest in new planting, certainly not at the rate of the governments aspirational target of 50,000ha per year. The Crown Forestry action is clearly around doing deals to secure land for leasing and other deal makers, like Toitu Te Waonui, and various forestry consultants, are doing the same, good on them.

But this doesn’t really raise the general awareness of the forestry business opportunity for land owners and investors. The challenge is how to create a pipe line of prospects who are considering land use change. The target group must be the approximately 25,000 drystock farmers in New Zealand, owning 9.5m hectares. The timeline is also important, seedlings for next winter are already booked, but the deadline for orders to secure plants for the following winter (2019) needs to be placed with nurseries by Oct-Nov 2018. . . 

Minister needs to step up as drought worsens in Coastal Taranaki:

The Minister for Primary Industries needs to step up and listen to the rural sector in the face of the worsening drought in Coastal Taranaki, National’s Rural Communities Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

Mrs Kuriger reached out to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week to discuss ideas put forward by the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, but the Minister has not accepted the invitation to meet.

“It would seem that the response by the Minister – since initially declaring the drought – has been to bury his head in the sand on the Coastal Taranaki issue. . . 

Govt passing the cap around primary industry:

The Government is going cap-in-hand to the primary sector seeking support to help eradicate the rapidly-spreading cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“It’s my understanding that the Ministry for Primary Industries is canvassing the dairy and red meat industry for contributions to fund the response and eradication of this disease.

“In Parliament yesterday the Minister Damien O’Connor couldn’t say how much money the Government is prepared to contribute to fully eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis.

“Knowing how tight the Government’s finances are because of its other big-spending commitments – and even with financial contributions from industry – Mr O’Connor has an uphill battle convincing his Cabinet colleagues how critical funding of over $100 million actually is,” Mr Guy says. . . 

National welcomes continuation of 1080 policy:

A reassurance from the Department of Conservation (DOC) that there has been no change in policy over the use of 1080 poison is welcome, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“At today’s annual review the Director General, Lou Sanson, reassured the Environment Select Committee that not only has there been no change in 1080 policy, but DOC expects to expand its use.

“This approach is critical to achieving National’s long term Predator-Free NZ by 2050 vision. Possums, rats and stoats kill 25 million birds a year, and if DOC was hamstrung from using 1080, we would see further unique species becoming extinct. . . 

Regulator asks how gene-edited food should be treated:

Planning for future GM foods coming down the line, the food safety regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for suggestions for how it should consider applications for foods that have been made using new genetic techniques that aren’t currently covered by their laws.

The current code only covers food produced by genetic techniques that add DNA into a genome and doesn’t cover newer gene editing techniques like CRISPR/Cas9 which knock out genes or proteins, or others that don’t change the DNA of the final food product.

FSANZ are asking for submissions on how these newer techniques should be assessed before they go to market. Options range from treating them like conventional breeding techniques – given a green light once a technique has been proved safe – or to be treated like current genetically modified organisms which would mean that each application requires a rigorous safety assessment. . . 

Golden Rice: Loved by humanitarians, reviled by environmentalists – Green Jihad *

Despite the Philippines and Bangladesh edging toward commercializing it, New Zealand’s food regulation agency (FSANZ) endorsed approving importing Golden Rice for sale in order to reduce trade disorder with Asian countries that allow it.

Unfortunately, an opposition group named GE-Free New Zealand has started an effort urging New Zealand’s food safety minister to review the FSANZ’s recommendation in hopes of eventually halting the importation of Golden Rice. The organization’s views are nearly in line with what environmentalist groups, like Greenpeace, have been claiming about GMO’s for years.

Golden Rice has been a vital source of nutrition for many people in developing countries who lack Vitamin A that humans need to help them survive. Sadly, environmentalist groups are undaunted in halting not only the dissemination of Golden Rice and all other GMO’s but their production too. This being done so that more humans die of starvation or illness resulting from malnutrition due to a reduction in the food supply. . . 

Sustainable ag series – farmers – Dirt to dinner:

The agriculture industry is often criticized for using too much water, using too many chemicals, and adding more carbon to the atmosphere.

However, farmers have their boots on the ground and occupy the front lines of sustainability initiatives within agriculture. No farms, no food!

While some farmers employ better approaches to farming sustainably, no farmer deliberately damages human or environmental health or wants to waste their inputs, such as water, pesticide, and labor. As stewards of the land, it is in a farmer’s best interest to preserve all of their resources for future generations of farming. . . 

* (Hat tip: Utopia):


Rural round-up

January 31, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Southern drought meeting requested with minister – Rachael Kelly:

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

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

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

Regions get drought  classification  – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The future of farming – Grant Leigh:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

January 16, 2018

Women’s shearing record set in ‘epic’ sporting feat:

A nine-hour slog to set a new world shearing record is being described as an ‘epic sporting feat’.

Kerri-Jo Te Huia sheared 452 ewes in a Wairarapa woolshed yesterday to set a record that no-one has held before: that for the women’s nine-hour strongwool ewe category.

Champion shearer Jills Angus Burney watched Ms Te Huia make history and said she did an amazing job. . . 

Growers’ dilemma: Killing a crop to survive the dry:

After a drought-inducing start to summer, fruit and vegetable growers are pleading for more dams to avoid having to kill off their own crops.

Much of the country has been facing water restrictions after the early dry season, with even the usually rain-soaked West Coast having declared drought conditions.

Canterbury went weeks without rain in November and December, and Wellington was forced to use reserve water two months earlier than usual.

Otago settlement Glenorchy was the latest affected with Queenstown Lakes District Council announcing restrictions this morning, asking residents to switch off all irrigation and automatic watering systems. . .

What does the future hold for NZ”s largest farm? – Alexa Cook:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is calling for public opinion about how New Zealand’s largest farm, Molesworth Station, should be managed.

The 180,000ha cattle station is owned by the government farmer Landcorp, which has a farming lease and grazing licence for the land.

A management plan for Molesworth was approved in 2013 with the intention of moving it from its traditional focus on farming to include more recreation and conservation activities.

The farming lease expires in two years, and Federated Farmers high country spokesperson Simon Williamson said it was crucial it remained a working station.

“It’s very important for that type of land that someone is maintaining it for the pests and weeds … and the public access side of it, if people get in trouble.” . . 

Close your farm borders to unwanted invaders – Katie Milne:

Here are some New Year resolutions for all of us who work the land: Treat your farm as a biosecurity fortress, with its defences tightened to shut out pest and disease threats.

Confirmation this week that the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present on a farm in the Ashburton area – bringing the number of infected properties around the nation to 14 – is the latest wake-up call.  All farms are at risk when it comes to pests and diseases.  Regarding Mycoplasma bovis, movement of infected animals is the main risk followed by animal to animal contact and transmission through milk and semen, but the disease can also be transferred directly on equipment such calving and AI equipment.

MPI staff work hard to knock out biosecurity threats at our airports and ports but they’re just the first line of defence.  You’re the fullback.  You need a game plan to repel weeds, bacteria and other harmful substances that would hurt your livelihood.

Now for those resolutions. . . 

Feds’ Hoggard urges farmers to pay backpackers regular rates – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says farmers should pay backpackers market rates if they want to keep a handy pool of casual labour and avoid volunteer workers.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled an organic farm near Christchurch breached worker rights by paying them $120 a week plus providing food and lodging irrespective of the hours worked, and claiming they were volunteers after a Labour Inspectorate investigation. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement that thousands of people had been exploited at the farm, working up to 40 hours a week and often as hired out labour at a profit for Robinwood Farms director and shareholder Julia Osselton. . . 

Canada’s Public Sector Pension Board gets OIO approval to buy $17.7M dairy farm and block – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, or PSP Investments, got a green light to buy a medium-sized dairy farm and a neighbouring dairy support block in Canterbury for $17.7 million just ahead of tougher requirements on land sales to foreign buyers.

Ramsay Dairy Farm, which is indirectly owned by PSP Investments, was granted consent to buy 335.2 hectares of land and 77.2 hectares of land in Hororata, Canterbury by the Overseas Investment Office.

According to the OIO, the properties will be amalgamated to create a larger dairy farm. “The applicant proposes to convert some of the dairy support land to create a larger milking platform, and to support increasing the total number of cows by approximately 400 cows,” it said in a summary of the decision.. . .

Butter prices drop almost 5 percent in December:

Butter, chocolate bars, and wholemeal bread prices all fell in December, Stats NZ said today. Tomatoes and nectarines were also cheaper, but avocado prices remain almost twice as expensive as they were a year ago.

After four successive monthly rises, butter prices dropped 4.9 percent in December 2017 to an average of $5.46 for the cheapest available 500g block. This compared with the previous month when they hit a record high of $5.74. Butter prices had been falling at international dairy auctions since October. . . 

MPI aims to wrap up PGP review by end of April – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The government’s review of the Primary Growth Partnership is underway, with the first phase due to be wrapped up by late January and the second by the end of April, with one programme partner providing feedback and ideas to date.

The research and development programme was launched in 2010 and, to date, government and industry have invested some $759 million in 22 programmes, with 16 still underway. In late November Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, who was critical of the programme while in opposition, called for a review, stating the new government needs to prioritise spending. . .

2018 Set To Be A Year Of Growth For Taratahi:

Taratahi’s efforts to attract new students has paid off with solid enrolments for 2018.

Taratahi upped its marketing and as a result, the definite enrolments for 2018 are looking great, says chief Executive Arthur Graves.

Arthur says the institutions taster courses have attracted large numbers of students.

“Taratahi and the wider primary industry have been promoting the job rich agricultural environments and extensive career pathways on offer and those campaigns are now yielding some great results. . . 


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