Rural round-up

June 2, 2018

The farm action group that ‘crunches into life’ – Tony Benny:

A group of North Otago farmers are working together to find ways to increase profitability, taking advantage of the support offered by the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s Action Network initiative. Tony Benny reports. 

Ross and Jo Hay and their friends Gareth and Sarah Isbister got a taste for working with experts and getting access to the latest research and information when they joined  the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s pilot farm programme. They were part of RMPP partner Silver Fern Farms’ red meat eating quality project, looking for ways to consistently produce the most succulent, best tasting, and most valuable lamb.

For about a year they talked about how valuable it would be to form a farmers’ group that “really crunched into life”, that drilled down into financials and objectively analysed their respective businesses. When they went to an RMPP workshop in Christchurch, they found what they were looking for.

“We heard Richmond Beetham from Baker Ag talking about the business groups they have running in the Wairarapa and we were like, ‘That’s what we want to do’,” recalls Jo Hay. . . 

Winners inspired by industry solidarity – Pam Tipa:

The winners of the 2018 NZ Dairy Industry Awards, Dan and Gina Duncan, are overwhelmingly positive about the industry.

The former registered valuers won the ultimate award – 2018 NZ Share Farmers of the Year.

They say the way dairy farmers interact with each other is fantastic. 

“Look at the discussion groups and how willing people are to share what they are doing,” Dan told Dairy News. . . 

Synlait, Westland spruik higher milk payments for farmers in upcoming season – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – South Island dairy processors Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products have raised their forecast milk payment levels to their farmer suppliers for the upcoming season, following a similar move last month by larger rival Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Rakaia-based Synlait raised its forecast milk price for the 2017/18 season which officially ended yesterday to $6.65 per kilogram of milk solids, and said the average premium payment of 13 cents would lift the total payout to $6.78/kgMS. It announced an opening price forecast for 2018/19 of $7/kgMS, based on milk fat prices remaining firm throughout the season.

Dairy Manager of the Year great with people :

The 2018 Dairy Manager of the Year winner Gerard Boerjan aims for excellence in everything he does.

“He has great experience as a manger of people and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” dairy manager head judge Mary Craw says.

“He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm and has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps. . .

Food technology and money speeding up change: Protein Conference

An upcoming conference in Auckland on alternative proteins offering consumers new food choices will include a debate on whether new plant-based proteins will disrupt traditional meat producers’ markets or simply bring more cheaper food choices to the masses.

Last week in Britain, ahead of expectations, Tesco and Dutch-based plant food company Vivera jointly announced the immediate stocking of 100% plant-based steaks on supermarket shelves there. . .

Agriculture opens doors for youth :

Kalu, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, is home to 28-year-old Yimam Ali.

However, many young people from this region of Ethiopia move to the Middle East looking for work and a better life. The amount of job opportunities in the country has not matched its growth. 71 percent of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 30 and many of them lack opportunities to make a decent living.

Yimam decided to go to Saudi Arabia where his sister was living.

His journey, to what was meant to be a better life, was not an easy one: . .

Pioneering New Zealand avocado orchard placed up for sale by its international owner:

One of the first large-scale commercial avocado orchards to be planted in New Zealand – as part of a multi-national growing consortium – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 29 hectare property at Awanui just north of Kaitaia was originally established by Californian-based owners in 1990. It was planted with Hass on Zutano and Duke 7 avocado varieties grown on some 20 hectares of plantation land. . .

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Rural round-up

May 17, 2018

Climate ambassadors the next step in dairy’s plan :

Fifteen dairy farmers have been chosen to profile the climate change cause as New Zealand’s Climate Change Ambassadors.

This is the next step of the dairy sector’s plan to create a culture of climate conscious agribusiness amongst farmers and the broader dairy industry, says DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle.

“These fifteen men and women all represent best environmental farming practice for their farm system,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle. “They run their farms profitably and sustainably and are serious about reducing on farm greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Savvy couple win at Dairy Industry awards – Stephen Bell:

Northland couple Dan and Gina Duncan are technologically savvy and care about people, the environment and cows and while doing very well at dairy farming.

Their efforts were rewarded when on Saturday night they were named the Share Farmers of the Year.

Gerard Boerjan from Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa is Dairy Manager of the Year and Simone Smail from Southland is Dairy Trainee of the Year. 

The judges said the Duncans are passionate, professional and committed. . .

Dairy trainee of the year grateful for employers’ support – Nicole Sharp:

In three years, 24-year-old Simone Smail, of Invercargill, has come a long way in the dairy industry.

Being presented the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year award at Stadium Southland on Saturday night, Miss Smail was overcome.

She thanked her family for their support, her bosses Steve and Tracy Henderson for giving her a start in the industry and everybody else she had met along the way. . .

Lamb prices expected to stay high – Simon Hartley:

Key lamb export markets are paying  14%  more for product so far this season, with record highs  for this time of year,  ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

He said AgriHQ  reported lamb supply remained tight  and competition among processors was still keen given the  relatively low levels of slaughter.

“It follows that underlying demand is also solid …  all key export markets are paying 14% or more so far this season compared to last season.”  . .

Increasing biodiversity is a priority at Craigmore Station – Kate Guthrie:

Every year David Bielski, manager of Craigmore Station in South Canterbury, plans to spend $50,000 of the station’s budget on fencing, planting trees and labour to increase biodiversity on the property.

An impressive 51 hectares of land already consists of native plant species and is under various QE II covenants and game keeper John Brownley has been controlling a full range of pests on the station for over 10 years.

“Our pest tally for last year was 120 feral cats, 30 ferrets, 13 stoats, 214 hedgehogs, 19 (recorded) rats, 260 rabbits, 155 possums, 6 wallabies and 57 hares,” David confirms. “Numbers go up and down. We try to minimise pests, but we never get on top of them.”. . .

Is Labour anti-farming? – Jamie Mackay:

Environment Minister David Parker has an interesting background in agriculture.

He oversaw the due diligence on both the science and the intellectual property for the A2 Corporation and was one of its first two employees. It’s now a $9 billion dollar company.

Unfortunately, for him, he sold his start-up shares to avoid a conflict of interest when he became a politician.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from an interview I did with him on my radio show last week: . . .

Farmer suicide research not a priority for govt:

A release of official documents confirms the Ardern-Peters Government does not consider further research into farmer suicide to be a high priority, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Documents relating to a funding application for Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) show how officials successfully persuaded the Minister of Health David Clark and the Minister for Primary Industries Damien O’Connor that further investment into farm related suicide research is not a priority at this stage,” Dr Reti says.

“This astounding admission continues the Government’s dismissive attitude towards rural mental health – further compounded by the refusal to commit to a school of rural health. . .

Future guardians get their hands dirty planting on Mauao – Scott Yeoman:

A busy winter season of planting has begun on Mauao in Mount Maunganui, with Ngāi Te Rangi’s future guardians getting their hands dirty and leading the way.

About 500 native plants were dug into a bank at the base of Mauao yesterday by 20 children under 5 and a team of adult helpers.

Ngāi Te Rangi’s Kia Maia Ellis said the Mauao Trust had a big kaupapa (policy) around restoring the korowai (cloak) at Mauao. . .

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Dairy Award winners living the dream

May 13, 2018

The winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards were announced last night:

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are smart people who are technologically savvy, care about people, the environment and cows and who are doing very well at dairy farming.

In front of nearly 550 people at Invercargill’s ILT Stadium last night, Dan and Gina Duncan from Northland were named the 2018 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Gerard Boerjan from Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa became the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Simone Smail from Southland-Otago was announced the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $202,000 .

“This year there have been a few trends amongst the 33 finalists competing for honours in the awards programme,” General Manager Chris Keeping says. “The finalists are acutely aware of the importance of biosecurity and health and safety with regards to both environmental issues, animal management and sustainability.  It’s extremely positive to see such dedication to these issues within the industry.”

Share Farmer head judge Kevin McKinley, from DairyNZ, says the judges were impressed to discover how educated the entrants were, either tertiary educated or looking to upskill themselves. “We’ve been from one end of the country to the other and we have met a stunning group of people excelling within the industry.”

“We met people who genuinely value other people and how they can help them progress through the industry.  They realise you have to look after staff and value them if you want to keep them. The winners will be excellent ambassadors for the dairy industry,” says Kevin.

Fellow Share Farmer judges Matt Richards, from Southland and Jacqui Groves from Westpac say it’s fantastic to see people putting themselves out there to be judged.  “The industry is in good hands,” says Matt.  “They might be doing it differently to how we used to, but the next generation is growing the industry and evolving and the rest of us have to be ready and prepared.”

Jacqui Groves agrees. “It’s fantastic to see them still seeking advice from more experienced farmers. “They’re seeking out established farmers and asking for support and mentoring,” she says.

The judges say Dan and Gina Duncan can be summed up in three words – passionate, professional and committed.  “They are a friendly, out-going couple who are working on an exceptionally challenging farm.”

“They epitomise living the dream.  They left secure jobs as registered valuers and made the career change to dairy farming, and they’re excelling at it. They’re the complete package.”

“Nothing has come easy for them, they’ve had to work hard” says Kevin.  “When they first began their career, they sought out employers that they thought would be good mentors and role models for them.  They’ve looked for opportunities where people are considered important.”

The Duncans are 50:50 Sharemilkers for the Pouto Topu A Trust milking 1020 cows on the 460ha Pouto property.  Both Dan and Gina, aged 32, hold Bachelor of Applied Sciences majoring in Rural Valuation and Management, with Dan holding a double major including Agriculture.

The former registered valuers have clear, realistic but challenging goals and gave an outstanding presentation which flowed and kept the judges fully engaged. “They managed to get that information across to us in a way we could understand and follow it,” says Kevin.

“Dan and Gina had written a long-term plan on future strategies to improve the property, which they presented to the farm owners.  They called it the Farm Prosperity Report and it encompassed sustainability strategies and solutions to drive the property forward. They had also successfully applied for grants to secure funds for planting on the property.”

In winning the national title and $49,700 in cash and prizes, the couple demonstrated strengths in pasture management and financial management.  They also won three merit awards; the PrimaryITO Interview Award, the Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award.

“A good example of their pasture management is a comparison report on what quantities a cow would need to eat in Kikuya grass versus Rye grass to receive enough energy to make milk.  It just made it real,” says Matt. “They had calculated all their KPIs of their pasture and they were benchmarking with the rest of Northland, and picked appropriate benchmarks to compare themselves with.”

“They have a good work life balance, they still work hard but they find the time to pursue interests off-farm such as sport, and time with family and friends,” says Kevin

The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, Papakura 50:50 sharemilkers Chris and Sally Guy are described by the judges as traditional and solid who are cow and grass focused.

“They were very well organised, it’s a small organisation with not much labour employed,” says Chris.  “They have to be very efficient with their time, and Chris demonstrated this with little bits of technology that he uses, such as an ear-piece he wears in the shed that enables him to record notes.

The couple are in their second season 50/50 sharemilking on Allan Guy’s 80ha Papakura property, milking 200 cows. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award and $23,300 in cash and prizes.

Putaruru contract milkers Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, both aged 31 years, placed third in the competition, winning $13,000 in prizes. The couple also the Federated Farmers Leadership merit award.  The judges noted their financial and analytical strengths and that they had outstanding community involvement.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown, along with industry partner PrimaryITO.

Dairy Manager head judge Mary Craw, from Marton, says the 2018 Dairy Manager winner targets excellence in everything he is involved with.

“He has great experience as a manger of people, and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” she says.

‘Excellent attention-to-detail and an all-rounder’ is how judges described the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year, Gerard Boerjan. “He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm, he has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps,” says judge Mark Shadwick from DairyNZ. “Everything is well documented, he covers health and safety to an exceptional level and his financial understanding is of the highest calibre.”

Gerard, aged 50 years, has successfully farmed in Portugal and Brazil and is currently Farm Manager for Trevor Hamilton on his 553ha Takapau property.  He won $22,600 in cash and prizes.  Gerard also won the DairyNZ Employee Engagement and the Westpac Financial Management and Planning merit awards.

“Gerard is a stand-alone manager and he doesn’t just assume things are getting done, he closely monitors things.  He regularly reviews the information he gets against on-farm targets,” says judge Dave Hutchison from Westpac.  “He’s always monitoring multiple systems to report back to the farm owners, and has good procedures in place to do so.

“Gerard possesses the ability to manage a large, complex business with an absentee owner.  Every detail of the farm is closely monitored, but there’s a real human touch to it.

“He really cares about his staff, he cares about the people, the environment, his cows, what he grows and how he grows it, but he also understands very clearly that it’s a business he is running and he showed us that.”

“Gerard and his partner Marlene are a strong team and she supports him completely,” says Mary.  “He has consciously chosen to pursue a career long-term in management, rather than farm ownership or contract milking.”

“Gerard is very logical and intelligent person, who considers his answers and has a systematic yet adaptable approach to everything he does. He has a fantastic relationship with the farm owners, and keeps the farm and houses in immaculate condition.”

The judges say Gerard is an excellent example of understated confidence. “He’s experienced, yet humble.  He has a great team approach, even texting his staff to ensure they get home safely every night.”

The Dairy Managerjudges were impressed by the calibre of the finalists and by what they were achieving at a young age.  “The standard was phenomenal,” they agreed.

The Dairy Manager runner-up, Will Green from Canterbury, aged 32 years, also won the Ravensdown Feed Management Award.  Will is the farm manager for Kieran and Leonie Guiney on their 240ha, 830-cow farm at Fairlie and won $11,300 in prizes. The judges noted that he is an extremely focused manager with a real emphasis on his team, and has a philosophy of efficient milk production within the system he works, which he adheres to.

Southlander Jaime McCrostie, aged 32, was placed third and won $5500 in prizes and the PrimaryITO Power Play merit award.  Jaime is the Farm Manager for her employer Steve Smith and farm owners AB Lime on the 370ha, 930-cow farm at Winton. The judges describe Jaime as a ‘machine’, who is extremely capable, energetic, focused and operates great systems on-farm.  Her excellent use of technology was commended.

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Simone Smail, presented herself very well, was at ease in the environment and gave considered, accurate answers. She has a quiet confidence and is sincere, says Dairy Trainee head judge Chris Withy from Southland.

“She is an excellent example of someone who hasn’t grown up in a farming environment, but has developed an obvious love of the land and of the stock that she works with.”

“Simone is an example that anyone can go dairying and succeed if they work hard.”

Judge Tony Finch, from DairyNZ, says Simone is considerate and genuine who is thoughtful of other people’s opinions. “She has mana, coupled with a bubbly personality and a mature approach. As judges, it’s fantastic to see young people like her.”

“One thing that is very clear is that this competition challenges the entrants with their own goals and abilities, and after reflection they realise they can achieve even more.  It has given them great confidence and self-belief. There wasn’t much between the top four, it was very close.”

Simone, aged 24 years, won $10,600 in prizes and the DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award and is herd Manager on an Invercargill City Council farm, working for Steve and Tracy Henderson on the 780-cow, 310ha property at Invercargill. 

It was while she was studying for her Certificate in Veterinary Nursing that she discovered her passion for working with cows.  Simone entered the awards to meet like-minded people who are passionate and want to progress in the industry.

The Dairy Trainee runner-up, Donna McKinley, also won the Best Video Award presented by Streamliner.  Donna is 2IC for Davison Trust Partnership milking 330 cows on a Central Plateau 116ha farm. The judges noted she was a confident person who sets goals, puts a plan together, then achieves those goals.  She’s a very determined person.  Donna won $6000 in prizes.

Third placegetter Quinn Youngman, 21 years, works on David Dean’s 245ha, 600-cow farm in Mercer, He was was inspired by his Grandma to look at the dairy industry as his career.  The judges described him as the quintessential young farmer who was a quiet achiever.  He won $3000 in cash and prizes.

Visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information on the awards and winners.

Full Results:

2018 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year:

• Winner – Daniel and Gina Duncan, Northland
• Runner-up – Chris and Sally Guy, Auckland-Hauraki
• Third – Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, Waikato
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Simon and Hilary Vallely
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Chris and Sally Guy
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Tim and Melissa Parsons
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Richard and Wendy Ridd
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Thomas and Jennifer Read
• PrimaryITO Interview Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan

2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year:

• Winner – Gerard Boerjan, Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa
• Runner-up – Will Green, Canterbury-North Otago
• Third – Jaime McCrostie, Southland
• DairyNZ Employee Engagement Award – Gerard Boerjan
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Colin Tremain
• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Anthony Lamborn
• LIC Interview Award – Anthony Lamborn
• Meridan Energy Leadership Award – Sam Moscrip
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Jaime McCrostie
• Ravensdown Feed Management Award – Will Green
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Gerard Boerjan

2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year:

• Winner – Simone Smail, Southland-Otago
• Runner-up – Donna McKinley, Central Plateau 
• Third – Quinn Youngman, Auckland-Hauraki
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Andrew Trolove
• DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award – Simone Smail
• Best Video Award presented by Streamliner – Donna McKinley


Rural round-up

March 15, 2018

Medical marijuana a ‘billion-dollar industry’, says exporter who employs staff with a past – Madison Reidy:

Growing marijuana has turned from a cause for conviction to a well-paid job for locals of a destitute town north of Gisborne.

In a rundown woolshed in Ruatoria, 17 of them laugh over reggae music.

Some are as young as 18. Some have been to prison. Soon, they could be earning about $80,000 each.

It’s white bread sandwiches and sausage rolls for lunch, washed down with a chilled Steinlager. They will swim in the Waiapu River afterward. . .

A2 herd conversion strategies – Keith Woodford:

The decision by Fonterra to work jointly with The a2 Milk Company (ATM) to produce A2 dairy products will have come as a shock to everyone outside the direct negotiation process. This change now throws into sharp relief the challenges for New Zealand dairy farmers in converting their dairy herds so as to produce A2 milk, this being milk free of A1 beta-casein.

The first decision farmers have to make is whether or not they do wish to start on the herd conversion journey. On the one hand, the Fonterra co-operative has been telling its farmer members for all of its 17-year existence that A2 is simply a marketing gimmick. So, for many farmers, the idea that Fonterra is now going to pay premiums for A2 milk will cause bewilderment. . 

Emerging food and beverage growth opportunities in New Zealand

New opportunities in the food and beverage industries are the focus of the Emerging Growth Opportunities in New Zealand Food & Beverage Report 2018, which will be launched at FoodHQ as part of the New Zealand Agrifood Week.

The report will be officially launched by the Hon. David Parker, Minister for Economic Development, on Wednesday 14 March. Key findings and the state of the food and beverage industry will be presented by Tim Morris, Director of consulting company Coriolis, which authored the report. . . 

Award winners swapped office jobs for farms :

The Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners swapped office jobs for dairy farming six years ago and now appreciate the opportunities to grow and be self-employed.

Dan and Gina Duncan were rural valuers and knew the rural lifestyle was one they wanted for their family. “I grew up on a dairy farm, and the importance of common sense and consequences are still able to be learnt by children from a young age,” says Dan. “The freedom for children has changed though with a definite focus on health and safety.”

The won $7000 in prizes. The other major winners were the Dairy Manager of the Year, Sam Moscrip, and the Dairy Trainee of the Year, Eden Ritchie. . . 

Release of jewelled gheckos ‘momentous occasion’ – Rebecca Nadge:

The Central Otago Ecological Trust celebrated a ”momentous occasion” at the Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary recently as 14 jewelled geckos were released as part of the sanctuary’s first translocation programme.

Eight pregnant females, three males, two sub-adult males and one sub-adult female were taken from the Lammermoor Range by trust volunteers and Wildlands herpetologist Carey Knox before they were transported to their new home.

Mr Knox said the species was found across Otago and Canterbury, although human influence, land clearing and introduced predators had restricted their range to small pockets. . .

Fonterra NZMP cheese and butter win international honours at 2018  World Championship Cheese Contest:

New Zealand cheese continues to turn heads on the international stage, with Fonterra named category runner-up for its NZMP three-to-six month Cheddar Cheese in the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest. NZMP Unsalted Butter was also runner up in its category in the prestigious competition held in the United States over the last week.

The bi-annual competition features the cream of the cheese and butter world, with products from 26 countries vying for top honours. This year’s competition attracted a record-breaking 3,402 entries in over 120 categories. . .


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