Rural round-up

September 1, 2019

Spring venison spike back – Annette Scott:

The return of the spring peak in venison prices is not expected to reach the unprecedented highs of last year.

Deer farmers are starting to see a return of the seasonal venison price increase that traditionally occurs each spring, Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Dan Coup says. 

It follows an unusual 2017-18 season when venison prices climbed steadily from January 2017 before peaking in October last year. 

The return of the spring peak doesn’t come as a surprise but Coup hopes the peaks and troughs in the seasonal price curve will be less marked than in the past.  . . 

Chasing the rainbow – Tim Fulton:

He can play it for laughs and he can play it serious. There’s a discerning side to social media star farmer Tangaroa Walker. Tim Fulton reports.

Media sensation Tangaroa Walker has X-factor in spades and he wants to use it to lift other farmers out of the mire.

Walker has a virtual arena for the job, his vividly upbeat and out-there Facebook page, Farm 4 Life.

He is a contract milker on a 550-cow farm at Invercargill.

The page is a funny but sometimes poignant look at the industry’s challenges. . .

Crown to net $5 million from Westland Milk sale – Eric Frykberg:

The profit made by the country’s largest farmer from the sale of its shares in Westland Milk Products, will disappear into government coffers via a special dividend.

Pāmu, or Landcorp, owns 10 farms supplying to Westland and is its second-largest shareholder.

Earlier this month Westland’s 350 farmer shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of selling Westland to China’s Yili dairy conglomerate at a rate of $3.41 per share.

This will net the Crown $5m from a sale that ministers always strongly opposed.

The payment of the dividend is being made despite the fact that overall, state-owned Pāmu suffered a big loss. . . 

Important to choose right crop for right animals on right land – Yvonne O’Hara:

Sediment traps, back fencing, portable water troughs and buffer zones are some of the key elements of good winter grazing practices that Wilden sheep and beef farmers Simon O’Meara, and Peter Adam, recommend.

By careful management, both farmers ensure their sheep and cattle are well fed and as sheltered and comfortable as possible during winter break feeding and adverse weather events.

At the same time, by using the same principles, they can also reduce nitrate and sediment loss and enhance water quality on their properties. . . 

Women in wool take on shearing challenge – Linda Hall:

THE ACRYLIC nails are gone, so has the nail polish, their high heels replaced with moccasins.

They don’t meet for coffee on a Saturday morning, instead this group of amazing women dressed in black head to a woolshed ready for some hard yakka.

Every Saturday since March this group of professional women have been training hard. They call themselves Women in Wool and their goal is to raise as much money as possible for Farmstrong — a nationwide rural wellbeing programme for farmers and growers to help them live well to farm well. . . 

Kea playground to be installed – Kerrie Waterworth:

Complaints of missing gloves, stolen food and shredded windscreen wipers at Treble Cone skifield could soon be a thing of the past when a new kea playground is installed.

The familiar mountain parrot has been a regular visitor to Wanaka’s closest skifield for many years, attracted primarily by the prospect of food scraps.

Treble Cone brand manager Richard Birkby said despite erecting signs and staff educating guests about the thieving habits of kea, the skifield still received regular complaints about kea knocking over mugs, flying off with trays of chips and destroying gloves.

Health and safety officer Jessica Griffin said the idea for the kea playground at Treble Cone skifield was prompted by the kea gyms in Nelson and at the Homer Tunnel and Manapouri power station at West Arm, established primarily to keep kea away from roads and damaging cars. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 13, 2019

Ground-breaking milestone for Waimea Community Dam project – Tim O’Connell:

There was excitement in spades for backers of the Waimea Community Dam with Friday’s ground-breaking ceremony signalling the start of excavation on the controversial $104.4 million project.

It will take twice as long as initially expected and cost four times as much to construct, but for those who travelled to the Lee Valley site, about 36 kilometres south-east of Nelson, there was a sense of relief and determination to see a successful outcome for the future of Tasman. 

The $104 million Waimea Dam project was rubber-stamped in November after a lively six-hour meeting where Tasman district councillors voted 9-5 to proceed. . .

Gums swallow up prime land – Terry Brosnahan:

Forestry has ripped the heart out of a small Southland community.

In the mid-1990s Waimahaka near Wyndham was one of a number of areas where farms were sold and planted out in eucalypt trees.

It was good money for those selling but the three-teacher school was the heart of a thriving community both of which were devastated.

Waimahaka school had a roll of 70 and three teachers before the trees came. When the farms sold the families left the district. It had only four pupils by the time it closed in 2013. . .

Community or carbon? – Rebecca Harper:

Like many small rural communities in New Zealand, Tiraumea has been declining for years. De-population has been exacerbated by farm amalgamations and technology, and concerned locals fear the recent flurry of farm sales to
forestry may prove the final nail in the coffin. Rebecca Harper reports.

Blink and you might miss it. There’s not much left in Tiraumea, located on Highway 52 between Alfredton and Pongaroa, in the Tararua District. Once a thriving rural community, mostly sheep and beef farmers and their families, numbers are dwindling.

The school closed in 2012, though the lone 100-year oak stands proudly in what used to be the school grounds. The hall is still there, along with the rural fire service shed and domain, but that’s about it.

In the last year a number of farms have been sold, either to forestry or manuka, with no new families moving in to replace those lost, and those left are concerned about the impact of mass pine tree plantings. . . 

Deer role challenging and rewarding – Sally Rae:

Challenging and rewarding – “probably in that order” – is how Dan Coup describes his tenure at Deer Industry New Zealand.

Mr Coup is leaving DINZ in October, after just over six years in the role, to become chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

When he joined the organisation, confidence among producers was generally low and farmers were leaving the industry, frustrated at the state of profitability.

Looking at the state of the industry now, it was “definitely better” and that was due to several factors. . .

Hawke’s Bay apple industry invests in accommodation for seasonal workers

The Hawke’s Bay apple industry says investing tens of millions of dollars in housing for staff will also help the hundreds of people in the region needing emergency accommodation.

It’s aiming to have 1592 new beds ready for next year by extensively renovating existing dwellings and building new accommodation.

The region needs enough places to house the 5400 seasonal workers it needs from the Pacific to work in next year’s harvest.

Gary Jones from the Hawke’s Bay Seasonal Labour Group said the industry was spending nearly $40 million at $25,000 a bed to house all its workers. . . 

Are cattle in the US causing a rise in global warming? – Alan Rotz & Alex Hristov:

Over the past decade, we have seen the media place blame for our changing climate on cattle. Scientific evidence does not support this claim though for cattle in the United States.  

Cattle produce a lot of methane gas, primarily through enteric fermentation and fermentation of their manure. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that, along with nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and some other compounds in the atmosphere, create a blanket around our planet. This is good; without this atmospheric blanket, the earth would be too cold for us to survive. The current problem is that concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere are increasing, which is thickening our blanket. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 20, 2019

Fonterra wants many DIRA changes – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra wants to ditch the requirement for it to take all milk if its market share drops below 75% in a region.

It also wants to exclude big processors except Goodman Fielder from accessing its milk at the regulated raw milk price.

Instead it wants to introduce a 12c/kg handling fee, it says in its submission to the Primary Industries Ministry’s review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

All other processors should be required to publish their average milk price paid to farmers and details of how they set it, Fonterra said.

DIRA should evolve to cover the whole dairy industry and not just control Fonterra. . . 

Otago young farmers lay claim to two titles – Sally Rae:

Otago can lay claim to three new national champions – all in the rural sector. Luke Kane (30) and Isaac Johnston (25), from West Otago, won the national fencing competition held recently as part of the New Zealand Young Farmers conference.

Elizabeth Graham (21), who lives on her parents’ farm at Hindon, won the national stock-judging title. . .

Duck eggs hatch into growing business – Luke Chivers:

Taranaki duck farmers Dawn and Glen Bendall are earning a living out of making people, including themselves, healthier. Luke Chivers reports. 

It is 7.30am in deepest, darkest winter.

As daylight breaks on mountainous, coastal Taranaki Urenui duck farmer Dawn Bendall is preparing her children for school before fossicking around in wood shavings up to 25 centimetres deep to retrieve 400 eggs.

“The ducks will dig up, they’ll lay and then they will cover the egg up again.

“It’s their little way of not letting the vermin get to the egg so I don’t know what they think of me,” she says, laughing. . . 

Riparian planting cleans Waikato dairy farm river – Hunter Calder:

From above it looks like any other river.

But up close, the Marokopa River through Ruawai Farm in Te Anga is exceptionally clear.

Data collected by Waikato Regional Council shows the water quality is some of the best in the region.

The river rates particularly highly for macroinvertebrates – tiny creatures without backbones such as insects and worms. The more of those, the healthier the water. . . 

Bounce in deer numbers :

Farmed deer numbers, including the number of breeding hinds and fawns, increased in 2018 according to provisional agriculture census figures released by Statistics New Zealand.

This follows a small recovery in stag numbers in the 2017 census.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup says the trend is a strong indication of growing farmer confidence in the viability of deer in a drystock farming operation. . . 

Wrightson cleared to sell seeds business – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson has been cleared to sell its seeds business to Denmark’s DLF Seeds.

The Commerce Commission said the $434 million transaction, announced in August, was unlikely to substantially reduce competition in any of the markets it assessed.

DLF is not at present a close competitor of PGG Wrightson Seeds in respect of ryegrass seeds containing endophytes and is unlikely to be so in the future,” deputy chair Sue Begg said. . .

Trade deals with Africa would help continent grow – Marian L. Tupy :

In December 2018, Donald Trump approved a new strategy for Africa that includes increasing US commercial ties with the continent. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s strategy “is part of a broader effort…to fight for global supremacy with Russia and China”. Geopolitical considerations aside, freer trade between the United States and Africa makes good economic sense that’s bound to become more obvious over time.

Today, the economy of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is small, accounting for some 2 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Between 1960 and 2017, SSA GDP grew from $252 billion to $1.75 trillion. The world economy grew from $11.3 trillion to $80 trillion (all figures are in 2010 US dollars). That amounts to an average annual compounded growth rate of about 3.4 per cent and 3.43 per cent respectively.

The United Nations estimates that over the next 50 years, the SSA and world populations will grow at average compounded annual rates of 2.05 per cent and 0.63 per cent respectively. SSA’s population will thus increase from 1.1 billion to 3.1 billion and the world’s population will increase from 7.7 billion to 10.6 billion. That means that SSA will account for roughly 30 per cent of the world’s population in 2070. . . 

Trace elements a solution close to home :

Despite New Zealand’s relatively benign climate lending itself so well to pastoral farming, its soils can hide some chronic mineral deficiencies that can undo the efforts of the best farm managers as they try to get the most out of their stock.

Richard Sides, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health NZ technical veterinarian is urging farmers to look harder at what may be holding their stock’s performance back, and says the answer may be easier to find than they first thought. . . 


Rural round-up

June 20, 2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2018

P****d off Feds want straight thinking – Pam Tipa:

When people say New Zealand should be a leader in agricultural climate change technology and systems, Feds climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard says he gets “pissed off”.

“We are already a leader, if you look at carbon footprint per km of land or per kilo of milk solids or whatever,” he told Dairy News.

“Most things we produce we are already producing at world’s best or we are setting the target for world’s best. I don’t know how much more of a leader you can be. . .

Methane not a villain:

Many people do not grasp that methane is a short-lived gas that recycles, says Feds climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard.

This statement in the PCE report is important, he says: “Given its shorter lifetime, emitting methane will not [cause] the same irreversible inter-generational warming that carbon dioxide or the release of nitrous oxide have.”

“It was good to hear that being mentioned,” says Hoggard. . .

Pampered pets push venison prices:

A growing appetite for venison from a booming global pet food market has helped drive autumn venison schedules to record highs.

While schedule prices normally peak in spring, pampered pets have continued to push prices upward to an autumn peak of $11/kg.

Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Dan Coup said the popularity of venison as a pet food component is driven by a worldwide shift in attitudes towards companion animals from owners who want the best for their pets.

That includes an increasing interest in feeding them natural paleo-type diets. . . 

‘Fitbit for cows’ set to revolutionise beef industry from paddock to plate – Tom major:

An electronic tracking ear tag being developed for cattle could forever change the way graziers manage both livestock and farmland.

Researchers from James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville are collaborating with the Queensland Department of Science, the CSIRO and commercial partner Ceres Tag to adapt GPS technology for small, affordable livestock ear tags.

Computational chemistry expert, Ian Atkinson said the project would ultimately enable more accurate assessment of livestock condition. . . 

What if Africa’s farmers had access to needed seed technology? – Gilbert Arap Bor:

We’ve been told by trusted media and researchers that Kenya is on the brink of accepting biotechnology in agriculture.  I’ve said it myself. And now, President Kenyatta appears to be saying the same.  Business Daily recently reported “President Uhuru Kenyatta is betting on mass production of genetically modified cotton to create 50,000 jobs.”  

Another recent report, this one by the Africa Center for Biosciences International (CABI) affirms that “agriculture is essential for sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth and yet average crop yields in Africa are among the lowest in the world.  Over 80% rely on it but many face challenges in growing sufficient good quality produce”.

True, farmers know that some years are good and some years are bad. . . 

Morrisons promises all lamb sold over Easter will be British – Katie Grant:

Morrisons has pledged that all of the lamb it sells this Easter will be British. The supermarket said it had taken the decision not to offer lamb sourced from New Zealand or Australia over Easter after “listening to customers”.

Supporting British farmers

Over two thirds (68 per cent) of shoppers said they wanted to support British farmers, according to the results of a YouGov poll commissioned by Morrisons last year. . .


Rural round-up

January 29, 2018

Raising profile of farm careers – Sally Rae:

Brought up in a Southland farming family, Olivia Ross grew up living and breathing  the red meat sector.

From raising pet lambs to seeing processing chains process the property’s lambs each year, her exposure to the industry was unlimited.

After leaving Takitimu Primary School in the rural township of Nightcaps, she headed to boarding school in Invercargill and that was when her association with, and understanding of, the urban population began. . . 

Strong sales show venison, velvet booming:

Confidence in the future profitability of venison and velvet production has flowed through to the market for sire stags, with strong sales reported throughout the country, Deer Industry New Zealand says.

Breeders reported a marked improvement on last year’s results. Although no stags broke the $100,000 mark, average prices were up strongly for most sales, several by more than 50%. The overall clearance rate was  94%, compared with 83% last year.

Venison schedule prices to farmers normally peak  each year in October before the last chilled shipments leave for Europe for the annual game meat season. This season, prices  continued to rise into January, with the published average now around a record $10.30kg for a carcass in the preferred weight range, DINZ chief executive Dan Coup said. . . 

Better dialogue needed to help bridge divide with farming’s critics – Andrew McGivern:

The weather certainly plays on people’s minds in different ways at this time of year.

Those planning a holiday at the beach naturally have a different perspective to those estimating pasture growth to determine if there will be a feed surplus or deficit for their animals.

Until last year, I would have never said that you can’t get too much rain over that late summer/early autumn period, but the Tasman Tempest closely followed by two cyclones made a liar out of me.

And with the early hot and dry start to summer we had in December, the immediate future for farmers in the Waikato was looking bleak. But we had that rain in early January and have now had a bit of a follow up, so once again the grass is growing, and things are starting to look up.

The decline in milk production has stirred the overseas markets up with GlobalDairyTrade prices improving. That also buoys farmers’ morale, knowing that it is strengthening the milk price. . . 

Synlait’s 2017 / 2018 Forecast Milk Price Remains Steady at $6.50:

Synlait Milk has reaffirmed its milk price forecast of $6.50 kgMS for the 2017 / 2018 season.

However the company has signalled that this forecast is dependent on commodity prices continuing to firm for the rest of the season.

“Our price of $6.50 kgMS has remained in place since May 2017, but global pricing remains unpredictable,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

No regrets after going robotic – Mark Daniel:

While robotic (voluntary) milking systems appear to be gaining in popularity, the Fisher Farm, between Cambridge and Te Awamutu, has a head start on today’s converts.

Now well into its sixth season, the operation milks 300 cows over 80ha, and lays claim to the title of being the first farm in Waikato to install a DeLaval VMS.

When owner John Fisher first looked at the concept, the farm had a traditional herringbone milking shed without a feed pad, and was operated by two full-time staff and a relief milker.  . . 

 

Booming horticulture exports forecast to soon rise to $5.6b – Jamie Gray:

Horticulture is fast becoming agriculture’s “fourth engine” and will soon rival the meat industry in export receipts, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, in its latest update, said horticulture’s strong growth is forecast to continue, with exports expected to reach $5.4 billion for the year ending June before rising to $5.6b in the next year.

Meat and wool export revenue is forecast to increase 4.2 per cent to $8.7b in the year, supported by strong red meat prices and increasing exports of value-added products, then to $8.8b the following year. . . 

Hort’s performance worth watching as avocados smash records – Andrew Marshall:

Supercharged activity in several horticulture categories in recent years has prompted Rural Bank to tag the sector as one to watch closely in 2018.

In particular, a couple of notable movers smashing records in domestic and export markets are avocados and oranges.

In the vegetable industry, crops with increasing export market traction and likely price growth in the year ahead include asparagus, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, according to Rural Bank’s Ag Answers research team. . . 


Rural round-up

December 3, 2017

Winner learned it all along the way – Nicole Sharp:

Debra Cruikshank is a woman on a mission, writes Nicole Sharp.

Winning the Supreme award at the Enterprising Rural Women Awards in Invercargill recently, Ms Cruikshank was overwhelmed.

The Tannacrieff Wines and DC Wines owner, as she puts it, sort of fell into winemaking.

From day one on her journey with her own business, she knew she had to create a niche market and she has done just that.

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve learned along the way.”

It is only a small business, so Ms Cruikshank puts her hand to everything and at busy times of the year turns into a bit of a superwoman.

Trying her hand with port, her most recent venture, she has had to teach herself a lot, she said. . .

Growers rapt about early fruit, weather – Tom Kitchin:

It’s looking like a bumper fruit season for Central Otago, and happy fruit producers may be in line to break some records.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and 45 South orchard CEO Tim Jones, of Cromwell, said everyone was talking about the record warm weather.

“We’re 10 to 14 days ahead of where we’d normally be. The only thing that would affect that right now would be substantial rain.

“It’s looking like a record crop for cherries.”

So far, his cherry orchard in Cromwell had plenty of people knocking on the door for work, he said, and that was fine, because he might need more workers than ever. . . 

Record lambing percentage for NZ sheep farmers:

A record lambing percentage underpins a lift in lamb numbers, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Lamb Crop 2017 report.

Research by B+LNZ’s Economic Service estimates the number of lambs tailed in spring 2017 was 23.7 million head, up 1.9 per cent (436,000 head) on the previous spring.

The average ewe lambing percentage for 2017 was 127.2, up 4.4 percentage points on last year and up 6.4 percentage points on the 10-year average (2008-09 to 2017-18) of 120.8 per cent.

Overall, this means 127 lambs were born per hundred ewes compared with an average of 121 over the last 10 years. For spring 2017, a one percentage point change in the New Zealand ewe lambing percentage is equivalent to 178,000 lambs. . . 

Healthy velvet sales sought – Annette Scott:

The deer industry is embarking on a joint venture health project with one of South Korea’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

Deer Industry New Zealand had agreed to support Yuhan Corporation in its plan to develop and market a product with proven health benefits based on NZ deer velvet.

In a world first, Yuhan’s objective was to successfully develop, register and market a health food product containing scientifically validated components of NZ deer velvet.

Yuhan chief executive Jung Hee Lee and DINZ chief executive Dan Coup signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this month. . . 

New Zealand needs to pull ahead of world on agri-innovation – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand must pull ahead of the rest of the world in agri-food innovation in order to retain a competitive advantage, speakers told the Ministry for Primary Industry’s food and fibre innovation conference on Thursday.

“We need to be in a better position to respond to challenges like increased competition, potentially disruptive technologies such as synthetic alternatives and environmental and climatic impacts,” said Martyn Dunne, MPI’s director general. . . 

 


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