Rural round-up

May 3, 2016

Rattling Fonterra’s governance is not enough – Keith Woodford:

Late last year, Fonterra’s farmers rattled the cage by voting for a change in governance rules. However, the voting majority was insufficient to change the rules. Fonterra’s Board has now responded with its own proposals for new governance structures.

To me, the new proposals look like a continuing meander towards corporatisation, without recognition of the special features of a huge co-operative conglomerate like Fonterra.

The proposal last year, led by former Fonterra directors Greg Gent and Colin Armer, was to reduce the number of directors. But would a smaller number of directors really make a difference? And what would it do in terms of further disconnecting the Board from the grassroots? . . 

Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly (NZ) – April 2016:

The Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key Highlights:

• Dairy – Global commodity prices continue to stumble along a market floor largely determined by the level of EU intervention support—and the ceiling for this support has just been approved higher. . . 

Time to plan ahead for droughts – Dan Satherley:

Improving water storage will be key to getting farmers through future droughts, according to one agribusiness expert.

Failing that, it might be time for beef, sheep and dairy to rethink their business model.

North Canterbury is into its second year of drought, with rainfall over the past few months only a third what it normally is. . . 

Kiwi-Owned Organic Rice Company Number One in South America:

Organic Latin America, an organic rice processing and distribution company in South America owned by kiwi company Ceres Organics and international partners, has risen to be the largest organic rice exporter out of South America in just five years.

Organic Latin America was founded five years ago by Ceres Organics and Thai, Danish, and Argentinian companies in order to provide South American organic rice growers with access to international markets.

Organic Latin America worked with growers in the Northern parts of Argentina and in Southern Brazil to help them improve processing systems and supply markets all over the world. . .

Fonterra says season-to-date milk collection down 3% in NZ, down 1% in Australia – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in both New Zealand and Australia in the first 10 months of the season, reflecting destocking in its home market in the face of low milk prices and unfavourable weather across the Tasman.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3 percent to 1.39 billion kilograms of milk solids in the 10 months ended March 31, with all of the decline coming in the North Island and no change in the south. . . 

New PGP Investment Advisory Panel Chair announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed John Parker as the new Chair of the Primary Growth Partnership’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

Mr Parker is a primary industry and governance specialist, and assumes his role as IAP Chair from 1 May 2016.  He replaces Joanna Perry whose tenure as Chair finishes on 30 April after nearly seven years on the IAP, including almost three as its Chair.

“IAP members use their expertise and judgement to advise on decisions about the investment of PGP funds, and to help ensure these investments achieve the aims of economic growth and sustainability,” says Mr Guy.

“Mr Parker has extensive experience in both governance and in the primary industries and he understands what is required to grow value in the sector. . . 

Northland Farmer gets top foodies on side:

A local specialist pork and beef producer has won a nationwide competition to have some of the country’s top experts help promote the business.

Amanda Hellier and her husband Wayne farm in Motutangi under the name Farm Gate Produce. They have been named as one of four winners of the Sustainable Business Network’s Good Food Boost competition. The family business produces Free Range pork cuts, sausages, salami and Chorizo and supplies it ‘from gate to plate’. . . 

Considering more days in milk?:

After a tough season many dairy farmers may be considering extending the milking period of their cows to create more cashflow.

For farmers in a position to do so, keeping cows in milk for an extended period can make strong commercial sense. A dry cow by contrast still incurs feed and grazing costs but without a corresponding milk income.

SealesWinslow Consultant Animal Nutrition Specialist, Paul Sharp, says that farmers weighing the costs and benefits of extending the milking period have several things to consider.  . . .

Waikato forum to unlock secrets to $3/kg MS farm systems:

Dairy farmer Gary Rowlands says running his farm at a cost of under $3/kg milksolids (MS) is thanks to a simple system.

Gary and wife Debra’s farm is among the 10-15 percent of New Zealand farmers who operate below $3/kg MS FWE (farm working expenses).

The Rowlands put their $2.21/kg MS FWE system down to simple farming – including an all-grass focus, basic machinery, doing their fertiliser application/silage/topping themselves and looking after their cows well.

“It’s a simple system. We just do the basics well and don’t spend if we don’t have to,” says Gary. “Every aspect comes into it.” . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes New Zealand Fire Services merger:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement today that funding of $303 million will be used over four years to combine rural and urban fire services.

Federated Farmers rural fire spokesperson Anders Crofoot says the creation of the new organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand – will mean a more efficient delivery and a better service provided by one organisation. It also recognises the services other than fire which rural fire has often provided for many years, even though it was unfunded and outside their mandate.

“The government is showing a strong commitment to transition and we welcome the additional money to build capabilities in rural fire and supporting our rural volunteers,” he said. . . 

Westpac NZ seeks more agriculture market share despite dairy downturn – By Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Westpac New Zealand says it wants to lift its market share of agricultural lending over time to 20 percent from the current 12.6 percent.

The Australian-owned bank today reported a steady performance in its New Zealand unit with cash earnings of $445 million for the six months ending Mar. 31, up 2 percent on a year ago.

Overall lending rose 8 percent with a 9 percent lift in business lending to $26.6 billion. Its agricultural portfolio totals $8.1 billion, up from $7.3 billion a year ago with dairy accounting for more than two-thirds of that. Its market share in agricultural lending rose from 12.3 percent in the previous half to 12.6 percent, which chief financial officer Jason Clifton said went mainly to existing rather than new dairy operations. . . 

Water Accord demonstrates the importance of using qualified advisers:

The release of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord this week highlights the important role of talented people in delivering improvements in the environmental performance of dairy farming.

The report notes that the training and certification of nutrient management advisers hit a major milestone in the 2014/15 year with a total of 100 rural professionals completing the requirements for and achieving certification in the Nutrient Management Adviser Certification Programme (NMACP). This was accomplished with the ongoing support and commitment of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and its member companies, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd and Ravensdown Ltd. One of the Accord targets was that 50% of Fertiliser Association member company advisers would be certified by 31 May 2014, which was comfortably achieved. . . 

Contractors must do their bit:

Agricultural contractors around the country must play their part in helping to prevent the spread of the invasive weed velvetleaf, says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet.

Mr Levet is reminding contractors about the importance of biosecurity and machinery hygiene practices on, and between farms, in controlling the spread velvetleaf and says rural contractors have an important role to play in this.

“Contractors need to be conscious of the potential of spreading velvetleaf when moving between properties, or between areas of the same property, and to take responsibility in managing these risks,” he says. . . 

Wool Industry Reacts to New Health and Safety Regulations:

The National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests Inc comprises associations and organisations involved in the domestic and international trading of greasy and scoured wool. The Council acts as the New Zealand member of the International Wool Textile Organisation, which represents the interests of the wool textile trade at the global level.

The National Council and its members are committed to providing a safe working environment throughout the wool industry. Increasing concerns relating to bales weighing over 200kg (which are estimated to cover approximately 6% of the national clip) have prompted the Council to address the issue. Bales weighing in excess of 200kg can contribute to workplace accidents and throughout the industry provide a significant problem during dumping and shipping. These bales have been assessed as hazards during transport and handling, with changes deemed necessary to comply with tougher Occupational Health and Safety laws being introduced in New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

April 22, 2015

The kumara’s transgenic origins revealed  – Dan Satherley:

Kumara, a South American native that became a Kiwi favourite, has been naturally genetically modified with bacterial DNA, researchers have found.

But the foreign genes are generally only found in kumara – also known as sweet potatoes – that have been cultivated by humans, suggesting they bring with them beneficial traits.

Researchers hope the finding, published in the latest issue of journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will help to break down negative perceptions of genetically engineered crops. . .

Boost for Maori leadership in agriculture:

A South Island iwi-led agricultural training programme is expanding and offering higher level qualifications as it seeks to boost Māori leadership.

Whenua Kura is a tribal-led training partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

It started last year as a one-year certificate in agriculture providing both classroom learning and on-farm experience at the Ngāi Tahu farms. . .

No Supermarkets Or Major Butchery Chains Implicated in Preservative Prosecutions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand support the actions taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in the prosecution of 15 meat wholesalers/retailers and three company Directors for the non-compliant use of sulphites/sulphur dioxide in raw meat.

Charges were laid after an MPI operation in the greater Auckland area in 2013 after meat samples were tested and these cases were heard in the Manukau and Auckland District Courts in late 2014 and early 2015.

None of those prosecuted are part of any major supermarket or high profile butchery chains. . . .

Interesting Demographics in Farm Manager Contest:

The demographic make-up of the 11 finalists contesting the 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition ensure an interesting mix of talent.

“There’s a real lolly scramble in that the finalists represent a bit of everything – we have young versus not so young, males up against females as well as couples and those that are relatively new to the industry up against some old hands,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. “It’s going to be really interesting to see who comes up trumps!”

National judging begins today , with the three judges – a farmer, banker and consulting officer – visiting the 11 finalists on their farms over a 10-day period. The judges spend two hours on each farm and score the finalists on aspects like their financial planning and management, HR practices, farm environment, future aims, and community and industry involvement. . .

 

Unique Farm-Scale Dairy Trial Confirms Live Yeast Benefits:

Improving rumen function in grazing cows through addition of the active live yeast Vistacell can improve dry matter digestibility by 30%, lift average daily milk yields by 2.1 litres/cow and increase cow liveweight (LW) by up to 20kg in just five weeks.

The results come from a unique farm-scale study using a herd of 300 robotically-milked cows in Waikato. The herd contained a mix of autumn and spring calvers, with all cows also having access to a mixed ration of grass silage, maize silage, straw and concentrates, plus an extra 3-6kg/day of concentrates fed during milking depending on yield. . . .

 

Bluelab to spend growth grant taking new product to market – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Bluelab Corp, which makes electronic metering and control devices to aid plant growth, will use a new research and development growth grant to speed up taking a new sensory product to market in the next year.

Tauranga-based Bluelab decided in 2004 to focus solely on manufacturing measuring equipment which is used in controlled growing spaces such as greenhouses, hydroponics and aquaponics by commercial growers and backyard hobbyists. It exports nearly all it produces to 15 countries, with the major markets being the US, Australia, and the UK. . .

LIC and Lely enter R&D partnership in farm sensor technology – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and manages a dairy genetics database, has entered a research and development partnership with Dutch agricultural company Lely Group.

As part of the deal the Hamilton-based company has acquired Lely Sensortec, the Dutch company’s Hamilton-based development division, whose five staff design farm sensor technology to monitor animal health and production, for an undisclosed amount, the companies said in a joint statement. The deal will accelerate development of sensor technology used on farms and support wider global distribution of its inline milk sensors. . .


Rural round-up

March 22, 2015

Pesticides not behind bee decline – study – Dan Satherley:

Bee numbers have been plummeting since the 1990s, with pesticides usually taking the brunt of the blame.

But a three-year study in the United States has now shown that at real-world dosage levels, bee colonies are remarkably tolerant of insecticides; therefore, there must be something else driving what’s become known as colony collapse disorder.

Scientists at the University of Maryland subjected colonies to imidacloprid, the world’s most commonly used insecticide, and found it had no real effect on colony numbers when used at recommended levels. . .

2015 Dairy Woman of the Year named:

Federated Farmers national board member and provincial president Katie Milne of Rotomanu, Lake Brunner, West Coast, has been named the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network conference gala dinner in Invercargill tonight.

Milne farms with her partner at Rotomanu, Lake Brunner catchment on the West Coast of the South Island. They have a small high BW Jersey herd of 200 cows.

On a separate run-off the couple rear replacement heifer calves and run a localised contracting operation making silage pits, hay, baleage, effluent spreading from ponds, herd homes and stand-off pads.

The 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year judging panel comprised Mark Heer from DWN gold partner ASB Bank, Sandy Burghan from Global Women New Zealand, DWN trustee Alison Gibb, DWN chair and 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Justine Kidd, and Fonterra representative Janet Rosanowski. . .

 Katie Milne is Dairy Woman of the year:

Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston, says he’s thrilled by Katie Milne winning the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

“I’m not surprised Katie won, as she has been a passionate advocate for farmers for a long time and has made some real progress for all of us at both a provincial and national level.”

“Katie has been involved with Federated Farmers since 1991, when as a 23 year old she went along to a provincial meeting with some concerns about the RMA’s impact on her ability to farm. Since then she has moved up the executive ranks, now in her third year as a Federated Farmers Board Member and in her sixth year as the Federation’s West Coast provincial president.” . .

Westland congratulates 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Katie Milne:

Westland Milk Products is delighted that West Coast dairy farming stalwart Katie Milne has won the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

Westland’s Board Chairman Matt O’Regan says the award is fitting recognition for Milne’s passionate dedication to dairying on the West Coast and, through her work with Federated Farmers, as a national advocate for the industry.

“Katie has been a shareholder supplier of Westland Milk Products for more than 20 years,” O’Regan says. “In that time her advocacy for the dairy industry has hugely benefited the Coast, especially in terms of the incredible amount of work she has put into TB prevention and infection control. TB is still a serious issue on the West Coast, with some 35 of the South Island’s 58 infected herds located here. But compare that to a decade ago when there were 253 infected herds in the region.” . .

Markets dismiss 1080 threat – Andrew Hoggard:

The dairy industry is at large pleasantly surprised at the non knee jerk reaction that has happened in the international dairy markets as the result of the 1080 scare.

The reporting to date has been fairly well measured and thus the public has not been spooked.  The market responses seem measured and rational and that is promising, and I want to pat the New Zealand public on the back for acting in a similar fashion.

The only sour notes have been Winston Peters and some of the minor exporters.

Peters put out a supportive statement, stating he believed it was all a hoax.  The next day he got out of bed on the wrong side and bitterly claimed the news came out timed as part of a John Key be-election plot.

Commercial limits for southern blue whiting, Otago rock lobster changing:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to commercial fishing limits in two areas as part of the annual fisheries sustainability review.

“From 1 April 2015 the total allowable catch for the southern blue whiting stock at the Bounty Platform will be decreased to ensure its ongoing sustainability, while the commercial limit for Otago rock lobster will increase,” says Mr Guy.

“Limits for rock lobster (crayfish) will be unchanged in Northland, Gisborne, the Canterbury and Marlborough region, and the Westland and Taranaki region.”

The decisions follow consultation with all stakeholders and careful consideration of scientific advice. . .

Innovative Dairy Farming Couple Wins Supreme in 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Pakotai dairy farmers Rachel and Greig Alexander are the Supreme winners of the 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a special BFEA ceremony on March 18, the Alexanders were also presented with the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, LIC Dairy Farm Award, Massey University Innovation Award, and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

Their business, Waikopani Holdings Ltd, farms a total of 486ha on two farms (one dairy and the other beef) in the Mangakahia River Valley, about 50km northwest of Whangarei.

Greig and Rachel have farmed the family dairy farm since the mid-1990s and have continued to improve the property and build a very sustainable business. . .

 Yoghurt And Butter ‘as Good as It Gets’:

Yoghurt made from buffalo milk and butter from a boutique producer have been named Champions in the 2015 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

Forty-five yoghurts and butters were entered in this year’s awards, the first time these categories have been judged alongside cheese.

Made on the shores of the Hauraki Gulf, Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company’s Buffalo Boysenberry Yoghurt has won the very first Green Valley Dairies Champion Yoghurt Award. . .

Resurgent New Zealand Dollar Lowers Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel advises that the rapid rise in the New Zealand dollar just prior to the auction saw generally corresponding lowering of local wool prices in many areas apart from fine crossbred fleece and some targeted coarser types.

Of the 18,200 bales on offer 88.4 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was up 1.78 percent compared to the last sale on 12th March.

Mr Steel advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears ranged from firm to 5 percent dearer. . .


Rural round-up

August 12, 2014

A2 milk easier to digest than A1 – study – Dan Satherley:

Milk that contains only A2 protein is easier to digest than the more common A1-type milk, according to a new study that directly contradicts previous research.

Scientists at Curtin University in Perth found that people reported less abdominal pain and bloating after drinking A2 milk than A1.

“We knew there were differences in animals consuming A2 milk without any A1 beta-casein, but this is now supported by our new human study,” says Associate Professor Sebely Pal.

A2 milk is produced naturally, taken from cows without the genetic mutation that most cows in Europe, Australia, the United States and New Zealand have. Normal cows’ milk has a mixture of A1 and A2 proteins. . .

 

Dairy plant conversion seen as catalyst for burgeoning food technology hub:

Plans to establish a state-of-the-art food technology and production hub in the small North Waikato township of Kerepehi have moved another step closer – with several large blocks of bare land with development potential being placed on the market for sale.

The 16 sites are immediately opposite the former Kerepehi dairy factory which was bought earlier this year by the Chinese-owned Allied Faxi Food Company for conversion into an ice cream export manufacturing plant.

Conversion construction of the dairy plant is scheduled to start in spring, with the plant targeted to be fully operational by the end of 2015 – forecasting to produce 10 tonnes of ice cream and 10 tonnes of frozen cream daily. All output is for the Chinese markets. . . .

Deadline approaches for entries in the Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2014:

Women looking for new ways to promote their small rural business are encouraged to enter the Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2014.

“With the deadline of Friday 5 September now around the corner, we’re reminding women to send in their entries,” says Rural Women New Zealand national president, Wendy McGowan.

In their sixth year, the awards attract good publicity for both entrants and winners, says Mrs McGowan.

“Rural Women New Zealand’s aim is to grow dynamic rural communities and giving a boost to women in rural business is a very positive way of achieving this.” . . .

Fine wool gets a sporting chance – Andrew Marshall:

THE wool industry’s search for a big break in the outdoor recreation clothing market may be about to bear fruit thanks, in part, to technology originally developed to make finewool finer.

Fashion industry responses to trials of the new wind and water resistant fabric indicate plenty of promise in clothing market segments such as recreational sailing, fishing, bushwalking or hiking and golf.

Wool marketers also anticipate genuine interest and spill-over orders from the booming smart-casual clothing scene. . .

Delivering Better Tools And Services for Maori Sheep And Beef Farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is joining forces with the Federation of Maori Authorities (FoMA) to ramp up support for Maori sheep and beef farmers.

FoMA and B+LNZ are creating two new joint roles. Anaru Smiler and William McMillan have been appointed Kaiarahi Ahuwhenua Sheep & Beef, operating jointly for FoMA and B+LNZ. The positions will be responsible for delivering tools and services to support Maori sheep and beef farmers.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says the organisation has worked closely with FoMA to develop the new positions and they will be a key part of supporting the development of more productive and profitable Maori-owned sheep and beef farms. . .

Warrnambool Cheese & Butter not ACCC at its finest, says Joyce – Andrew White:

AGRICULTURE Minister Barnaby Joyce has hit out at the competition watchdog and the law it enforces, claiming its treatment of Murray Goulburn’s bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter was a poor application of competition law.

Mr Joyce called for an overhaul of competition law to support the creation of national champions in industries across Australia after the giant Murray Goulburn co-operative was effectively blocked from buying Warrnambool by delays in the competition review process.

“If we want to create — and I believe we should — Australian national champions then that substantial lessening of competition test … its finest hour was not the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter issue,’’ Mr Joyce told a high-powered gathering of food industry and political leaders in Sydney as part of the The Australian and The Wall Street Journal’s Global Food Forum series. . .

Rabobank backs a Challenge – Reg Burton:

THE 2014 Rabobank Beef Challenge is once again focused solely on the graziers in the Richmond Shire with the Flinders and McKinlay Shire opting not to stage the Challenge this year because of the drought.

Conversely, the Richmond Shire graziers elected to continue with the Challenge to obtain information as to which breeds do better on a particular dietary supplement under drought conditions.

Ten mobs of six early weaners were put into the same paddock on Alistair McClymont’s Wilburra Station where they will stay and be weighed and tested monthly. . . .

Fonterra Grass Roots Fund:

Need help with a community project? Grants from $500 to $5,000 will be made. Hurry – applications close 31 August!

Need help with a community project? Grants from $500 to $5,000 will be made. Hurry – applications close 31 August!


Politics Daily

June 9, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break.

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Electoral Act breaches

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Some thoughts on Electoral Act breaches

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why won’t the Police act with complaints from the Electoral Commission?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Andrew Little just drew a great big target on the backs of his Labour pals

Beehive

Steven Joyce, Tony Ryall – $78m in health research funding announced

Murray McCully – NZ support for new Pacific eye care centre

Tim Groser – Address to business chambers event – Philippines

Act

Dan Satherley @ TV3 – ACT ‘determined to play straight’ – Whyte

Pete George @ Your NZ – Different impressions of Jamie Whyte

John Banks

TV3 – Sympathy for Banks despite differences

Rob Hosking @ NBR Banks’ departure will clear the air

Michael Fox and Hamish Rutherford @ Stuff –  John Banks’ votes would’ve been rejected

Audrey Young – Conviction delay blindsided Act MP

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff – Banks departure a less messy solution

Danyl Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – Silly Laws

TV3 – IPCA considers John Banks inquiry

Labour

Gerry Brownlee – A lawyer’s field day at the taxpayers’ expense

Insurance Council of NZ – Earthquake Court approach misguided

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour’s insurance court

Pete George @ Your NZ – Labour soul searching

No right Turn – A paucity of vision

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour has lost their lost their raison d’etre

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Comment of the Day – 9 June 2014

IMP

Pete George @ Your NZ – Dotcom and citizenship

Russel Brown @ Public Address – Meanwhile back at the polls

Green Party

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The Greens want 3D printing for NZ

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Green Taliban’s “3D blueprint” for the future nothing but hype

Other

Education

Hekia Parata – Teachers take role in leadership plan

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Parata on the IES programme

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The “Tea Party” left

Matthew Beveridge – Leaving on a jet plane 2

Matthew Beveridge – A blast from the past

Stacey Kirk @ Stuff –  Civilian Party ‘a joke on taxpayers’

Eric Crampton @ Offsetting Behaviour – Value for Money election broadcasting edition

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Joyce rated more valuable than Cunliffe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why readers are turned off by main stream media and voting with their dollars


Rural round-up

October 9, 2013

Woman wins in rare shearing feat – Sarah Marquet:

For the first time since 1985, a woman has won the senior shearing title at the New Zealand Merino Shears, held in Alexandra on Saturday.Te Atakura Crawford (26), originally of Te Karaka, near Gisborne, but working in Australia, had only been back in New Zealand a few hours before she picked up the handpiece and took on 28 other shearers from around the country.

She was not the fastest shearer in the field but made up for it in quality points, something women are known for, according to New Zealand Merino Shearing Society president Mervyn Kinaston. . .

How dung beettles will improve NZ farms –  Dan Satherley:

Around 500 dung beetles have been released in the south Wairarapa as part of a plan to improve the soil on dairy farms.

This release will be the second to take place in New Zealand, after a Southland farm introduced dung beetles to its soil last month.

The big question is, what they will actually do for our ecosystem?

Bug expert Ruud Kleinpaste says the species being introduced into the North Island are “master diggers” that will return nutrients in cow manure right back into the soil where they fall.

“Nature knows no waste – whatever you and I may think of as waste, they think is a resource,” he said on Firstline this morning. . .

Silver Fern Farms addresses capacity issues, but no progress on meat industry restructure – Allan Barber:

The only meat industry capacity rationalisation evident so far is beef not sheepmeat related. Silver Fern Farms has announced the closure of the beef chain at its Waitoa plant which it bought 18 months ago from Wallace Corporation in, what CEO Keith Cooper said at the time, was an essential contribution to the meat industry’s sustainability.

The logic behind the purchase was to take out a competitor and to provide cover for the loss of Te Aroha’s capacity from a fire. According to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Winders the plant has fulfilled its purpose, but will be retained specifically for bobby calf processing for 12 weeks of the year. Management and veterinary oversight will be provided from Te Aroha which will not be operating at full capacity during the calf season.

Although Waitoa will be mothballed for the remaining 40 weeks of the year, it can be restarted on beef in the event of a drought. There will be 17 salaried positions made redundant as a result of the transfer of beef processing and management to Te Aroha. . .

Forest growers to elect first board:

The Forest Growers Levy Trust, the new organisation representing the interests of all plantation forest owners, large and small, is calling for nominations for its first elected board.

Chair Geoff Thompson says the referendum board of the Trust has applied to associate minister for primary industries Jo Goodhew for a commodity levy on logs and some other plantation forest products. The levy order, which is expected to be issued shortly, will establish a compulsory levy that will apply from 1 January 2014.

“In anticipation of this, elections are being held for the Trust board that will administer the funds raised by the levy. Nominations will be open from 14-31 October, followed by an on-line election for board members from 5-22 November.” . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest Launches in Christchurch:

The 46th season of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest officially got underway last Friday 4th October at the Commodore Hotel in Christchurch.

There was ample turnout at the launch from Young Farmers members, volunteers and representatives from sponsors ANZ bank, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
The Contest’s compere, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, opened the proceedings and was followed by other speakers such as outgoing NZYF CEO Richard Fitzgerald and Graham Turley, Managing Director Commercial and Agri for ANZ. . .

Second National Conference on Biological Farming Systems announced due to popular demand:

A Second national conference on biological farming systems will be held on 13-14 February 2014 in Rotorua. Theme of the conference is “Biological farming under different land uses”.

Biological farming is a holistic approach to modify and improve soil conditions for beneficial microbes to increase soil microbial activity that helps speed-up nutrient cycling, and to re-establish mineral balance in the soil. It is a mix of conventional and organic farming practices involving careful crop and soil monitoring to ensure optimum yields, nutritional density and humus production.

The conference will provide a forum for discussion of a wide range of topics for current and future biological farming systems research. The programme will include two days of technical sessions of oral and poster presentations, panel discussions and scientist-farmer interaction. . .


Rural round-up

July 30, 2013

HNZ praises biosecurity improvements – Dan Satherley:

More than 400 fruit and vegetable growers will meet in Wellington today at the annual Horticulture New Zealand conference.

Government industry agreements, biosecurity and food safety in the industry will all be discussed over the next two days, and industry newcomers will battle it out for the title of Young Grower of the Year.

The industry is worth $5 billion to the economy and employs more than 150,000 people, so Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton says it’s essential that recent improvements to biosecurity are maintained.

“We have a lot more activity with more frontline border security people; we have a lot more focus on electronic and technical surveillance; we have a lot more focus on the dog patrols, which we in fact will be having at the conference today to show growers what is being done,” he says.

“I have to commend MPI for their commitment to increase biosecurity, but we never, never need to relax on it.” . . .

Attitude is everything in sharemilking – Richard Jones:

It has never been easy to achieve farm ownership.

The sharemilking system was established to enable young Kiwis to build up equity to progress through to farm ownership. Sharemilkers gradually build cow numbers, either by raising calves or buying cows, becoming what is known as a herd-owning sharemilker (HOSM). They would then sell some for the deposit on a farm and stock it with the remaining cows.

However, with the rapid increase in farm sizes and the price of land escalating, taking the leap up the progression ladder from contract milker and variable order sharemilker to a HOSM is becoming increasingly difficult.

As a result, sharemilkers need to stay sharemilking longer to build equity, slowing their progression to farm ownership. This holdup also affects farm owners wanting to exit the industry, as fewer sharemilkers have enough equity to pay a decent price for a farm. The only option available for these farm owners may be the faceless multi-national corporate, not the experienced, hands-on sharemilker. . .

Exports grow better when working as a pair

Newly formed avocado exporter Avoco has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia. It now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts late next month.

Avoco director Alistair Young says the latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests an above-average yield.

Formed last month by New Zealand’s two largest avocado exporters, Avoco represents about 75 per cent of New Zealand growers and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales in the Australian market.

“We were forecasting retail and wholesale sales in Australia of about $40 million when we launched Avoco. . .

What is the Meat Industry Excellence Group? – David Burt:

The Federation is keenly aware that if structural change, of whatever form, is to be successful, behavioural issues must also be resolved.

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group was set up to address farmers’ frustration about the parlous state of the red meat sector, particularly the sheep industry.

Established in March, MIE has held a number of meetings seeking a mandate from farmers to work with the meat companies to develop an industry consolidation plan. The group’s executive is chaired by Richard Young.

The group is currently working towards areas such as developing potential new industry models, which would then be considered by stakeholders for possible adoption. . .

Agri-buisness network aims to help economy:

An East Coast farmer says the Gisborne economy is likely to profit from the establishment of a new local Maori agribusiness network.

Te Tairawhiti Maori Agribusiness group was set up recently as a result of a hui for Maori farmers from the East Cape to northern Hawke’s Bay.

The hui discussed the idea of working together and developing and branding products for several niche market opportunities.

Rongowhakaata farmer Stan Pardoe says the network will bring in more profit for the Gisborne region and help to market the area internationally. . .


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