Rural round-up

February 12, 2020

New risks for dairy, meat products – Sally Rae:

The sun is setting on the “golden run” for New Zealand’s food exports.

While the global supply of dairy and meat products was expected to remain constrained, new global risks were now impacting demand, ANZ Research’s latest Agri Focus report said.

Lamb prices had dropped sharply in the past couple of months but were still at record levels for this time of the season.

A lift in slaughter numbers, weaker prices in certain markets and a slightly stronger New Zealand dollar were the main drivers in the reduction in farm-gate price, the report said. . . 

Dry conditions and fires making life hard for Rangitikei farmers :

Local farmers are struggling to re-home livestock with fires and dry conditions engulfing several hectares of land, Rangitikei’s mayor says.

A fire spanning around 80 hectares near Lake Alice was reported on Saturday, and contained today, but by Sunday evening fire-fighters wre still trying to put it out.

Two helicopters and nine fire trucks were at the scene today dampening hot spots and monitoring for any flare ups.

Fire and emergency says crews were able to contain the blaze faster thanks to help from the public. . . 

Flood-affected farmers urged to ask for help :

Authorities are concerned that some flood-affected farmers in Southland are not asking for help.

Emergency Management Southland (EMS) controller Bruce Halligan says this is despite a huge effort to talk to Southland farmers affected by last week’s flooding.

“We are concerned that some farmers who may have already been contacted, and said they were coping, will need help as they assess the damage to their properties and begin to realise the amount of work and resource required.”   . . 

Nelson’s prospects rise on new dam’s development – Tim Fulton:

Horticulture is set to grow in Nelson as the clock ticks down on a long-awaited dam in Lee Valley.

The Waimea Community Dam, due to be commissioned in February 2022, will release stored water from the headwaters of Lee River to the Waimea Plains. It’s set to be a boon for pipfruit, which already generates high returns from a scarce supply of flat land in the region.

Waimea Irrigators Ltd (WIL) chairman, Murray King, is one of just two dairy farmers in the planned irrigation zone.  . . 

Proposed Oceania pipeline draws irrigators’ ire – Daniel Birchfield:

A North Otago-based irrigators’ collective has slammed Oceania Dairy Ltd’s proposed pipeline project in a submission to Environment Canterbury against its construction.

Oceania Dairy, owned by Chinese dairy giant Yili group, lodged six consent applications with Environment Canterbury for the construction of a 7.5km pipeline that would allow it to discharge up to 10,000cum of treated wastewater into the sea per day.

Waitaki Irrigators Collective Ltd filed one of 117 submissions opposed to the project. Six submitters supported it, and three were neutral. . . 

Medigrowth NZ plan Central Otago medicinal cannabis business:

A Central Otago-based company is forging ahead with plans to develop a medicinal cannabis cultivation, research and manufacturing business in the heart of wine country.

Medigrowth New Zealand, based in Cromwell, plans to provide pure and safe New Zealand-grown cannabinoid medicines to a market that recent research shows is “crying out” for alternatives to existing pain medications.

Queenstown businessman Aaron Murphy has been joined by Medigrowth Australia directors Todd McClellan and Adam Guskich in the New Zealand venture. . . 


Rural round-up

December 18, 2019

Looking after yourself on the farm: Mairi Whittle:

An inspirational mentor and a tragedy have shaped Mairi Whittle’s health and safety focus on the family farm she runs on her own near Taihape.

There weren’t formal health and safety processes in place when Mairi and her brothers were growing up on the 607 Ha sheep and beef farm at Makatote – although she says her parents did instill a strong awareness about ‘no go’ areas.

After studying at Lincoln, Mairi worked in rural banking for five years before heading off for her OE, which included working as a rousie and shepherd in Scotland and as a jillaroo in outback Australia. . . .

Primary exports to reach $48bn in 2020 – MPI:

Primary sector exports are forecast to lift more than 3 percent, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest quarterly situation and outlook report.

The report, released yesterday, predicts primary industry exports will reach nearly $48 billion for the year to June 2020.

That would be a rise of more than 3 percent on the previous financial year and was an improvement from MPI’s October forecast, which predicted the value of exports would drop by 0.1 percent. . .

Laura Vincent deserves a nice juicy steak – Cactus Kate:

Some poor woman called Laura Vincent has gone to the hell that is tasting “fake meat” for us.

I cannot think of anything more ghastly than being force fed fake meat.  Some real meat is bad enough.  If I am going to put calories into my body these days then I am not going to waste it with anything that is not delicious.

There are predictions that this will be all that people will eat in 50 years time. It is another reason that I am opposed to extending ones life beyond an average span.

The sorts of people who think “fake meat” is great are against genetic modification for everything else.  Dutifully forgetting that they are shoving half a lab down their throats when tasting this muck.  They seems to want to reproduce the smell, taste and texture of meat when many say they dislike all those qualities of meat. . .

Stalwart stickler for tradition – almost – Daniel Birchfield:

It is perhaps no surprise that the woman who is one of the driving forces behind Waimate’s annual Strawberry Fare loves everything about the fruit the event celebrates.

Strawberry Fare organising committee chairwoman Joy McIvor, of Waimate, prefers her strawberries the traditional way — with “cream and some icing sugar”.

However, she also does not mind them dipped in chocolate.

Mrs McIvor, who has been on the committee for 18 years, the past 15 as chairwoman, had little time to sample the fruit on Saturday, as she was hard at work making sure the event, staged at Boland Park and Seddon Square, ran smoothly. . .

Primary Sector Council merges science with the metaphysical in vision to guide the food and fibre sector – Point of Order;

The Primary Sector Council’s vision for the country’s vital food and fibre sector (you can check it out here) promotes the government’s programme for blending science with the Maori belief system.

In a press statement, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor welcomed the “vision to unite the primary sector”, although he did not mention advice to unite science with matauranga Maori.

But on the vision website we learned: . . .

Once a day milking:

Once-a-day (OAD) milking is the practice of milking cows only once during a 24 hour period. This differs from the traditional twice-a-day (TAD) milking regime.

OAD milking can be used either strategically (long-term) as the overall farming system or tactically as a short-term response to adverse seasonal conditions.

Reasons to consider OAD milking

There are a number of reasons to consider OAD, the advantages of which will depend on the current farm system or layout e.g. long distances walked by cows. . .

Rural recycling rates soar, but more solutions needed:

Rural recycling has seen unprecedented gains, with rates soaring to 43 percent above last year’s figures. The programme responsible for these results supports government proposals to rethink plastics but says there is an urgent need for local recycling solutions to generate greater recycling rates for a wider selection of rural plastics.

If a wider variety of plastic can be recycled, less plastic waste will build up in rural areas and fewer harmful practices, such as burning and burying, will be deployed to dispose of it. This will benefit our environment and our wildlife. . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2019

Uncertainty plus unique ownership structure drive Fonterra share volatility – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s shares have been on a steady downward slide for the last 18 months. In January 2018 they were selling at $6.60 dropping to $3.86 at closing on 30 June 2019.

Then this last week things suddenly turned volatile, dropping at one point on 4 July a further 10 percent to $3.45, before rising by six percent to $3.69 at close of trade on 5 July.

The causes of the long-term drop are well understood. Very simply, Fonterra made a loss of $196 million in financial year 2018 largely because of write-down on assets. Fonterra is also now in asset-selling mode to strengthen its balance sheet. Non-farmer investors are coming to understand that, with family silver having to be sold as well as some rubbish disposal, any turnaround is likely to be long-term rather than short-term. . .

One billion tree flawed says climate scientist :

The Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ one billion trees won’t reduce carbon emissions, as too few natives are being planted, climate scientist Jim Salinger says.

The government has allocated $120 million in grants to landowners to plant trees on their properties, and wants two-thirds of those planted to be natives.

Forestry New Zealand figures show in the first year, of the 91m trees planted, only 12 percent were native. . .

Falling log prices may make some woodlots unprofitable – ANZ -Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – In-market prices for logs in China – New Zealand’s largest export market – have fallen in recent weeks and ANZ Bank warns the drop will make the harvest of some woodlots unprofitable.

While some price softening is not unusual at this time of year as construction activity slows in the hot months, “the scale of the correction was unexpected,” said ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

The price of an A-grade log landed in China has fallen from US$130/JAS cubic-metre in early June to approximately US$105/JAS cubic-metre.. .

Vet behind Mycoplasma Bovis detection hopeful for eradication:

The Ōamaru vet, whose efforts led to the identification of cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis in New Zealand, says she is optimistic the disease can be eradicated.

Earlier this week, Dr Merlyn Hay was given the Outstanding Contribution to the Primary Industries Award, for her work to identify M Bovis in July 2017.

Dr Hay told Saturday Morning that the disease was very hard to diagnose, and in many other countries it was only detected after it had already been spreading for several decades . .

Group aims to help farmers improve M. Boris response – Daniel Birchfield:

Lines of communication between the Ministry for Primary Industries and farmers impacted by cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis have been muddied for too long, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Alongside Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley, he chaired the first meeting of the recently formed Waimate/Waitaki Mycoplasma Bovis Advisory Group held at the Waimate District Council on Wednesday.

The group, modelled on a similar Ashburton arrangement, was formed to support the ministry’s M. bovis eradication programme and assist with regional decision-making to benefit farmers. . .

Lamb contract rewards loyalty – Colin Williscroft:

A $9/kg fixed-price lamb contract for August is a reward for customer loyalty, Affco national livestock manager Tom Young says.

So, farmers generally should not raise their hopes it signals prices higher that they might usually expect as the season unfolds.

The contract has been the subject of much discussion at sale yards but Young said it is not an offer being made to every farmer.

It is only available to loyal clients, farmers who have shown Affco consistent support. . .

Dismantling free markets won’t solve biodiversity threat – Matt Ridley:

Driven perhaps by envy at the attention that climate change is getting, and ambition to set up a great new intergovernmental body that can fly scientists to mega-conferences, biologists have gone into overdrive on the subject of biodiversity this week.

They are right that there is a lot wrong with the world’s wildlife, that we can do much more to conserve, enhance and recover it, but much of the coverage in the media, and many of the pronouncements of Sir Bob Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), are frankly weird.

The threat to biodiversity is not new, not necessarily accelerating, mostly not caused by economic growth or prosperity, nor by climate change, and won’t be reversed by retreating into organic self-sufficiency. Here’s a few gentle correctives.

Much of the human destruction of biodiversity happened a long time ago . . .


Rural round-up

June 6, 2019

Making the most of beef and lamb – Daniel Birchfield:

Inspiration and collaboration are what Oamaru’s Pablo Tacchini is enjoying most about being a Beef + Lamb NZ ambassador chef.

That was on show at his restaurant, Cucina, as part of the 2019 Beef + Lamb NZ ambassador series on National Lamb Day last Friday.

Mr Tacchini and platinum ambassador chef Michael Coughlin, of Dunedin, created a six-course menu for more than 60 guests that focused on fine New Zealand cuts. . .

Oamaru man with 60 years’ experience in market gardens receives Queen’s Birthday Honour – Joanne Holden:

An Oamaru man who has helped the growth of several key organisations in the district has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Peter Lee, 82, has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for dedicating more than 60 years to horticulture and the Chinese community.

The honour was “humbling” for Lee as he considered his dedication to the groups he is involved in as “just part of being in the community”.

“I’m quite humbled,” he said. . . 

AgResearch project to determine whether dairy cows can be potty trained – Gerald Piddock:

Potty training Daisy the cow and the rest of New Zealand’s 4.99 million-strong dairy herd may seem fanciful, but that is exactly what AgResearch scientists are attempting in a new study.

While it is still at the experimental stage, if successful it could significantly reduce nitrogen loss on farms because it would help farmers better capture cow effluent before it made its way into waterways. It would improve hygiene in dairy sheds and give farmers greater control over where effluent is applied on pasture. . . 

M Bovis: 129 farms cleared of cattle disease, 43 ‘actively infected’ – MPI:

More than 100,000 cattle have now been culled as part of the government’s Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme.

Figures released by the Ministry for Primary Industries also showed 171 properties had been confirmed as having the cattle disease.

Mycoplasma bovis can cause lameness, mastitis and abortions in cows and was first detected in New Zealand by the ministry in 2017.

In a stakeholder update, the ministry said of the 171 farms found to have the disease, 129 had now been cleared of cattle and declared safe to repopulate. . . 

Alliance Group invests in Dannevirke and creates 35 regional jobs:

Alliance Group is investing a further $1.4 million in improvements to its Dannevirke plant as it seeks greater efficiencies in processing. 

The 100 percent farmer-owned co-operative is re-configuring processing operations and investing in additional technology at the plant in southern Hawke’s Bay, bringing total investment at Dannevirke to $12 million in the past year.

The improvements to the plant’s lamb and sheep processing capabilities will increase the plant’s capacity by 20 percent. The company will re-configure product flows, install additional vacuum-packaging capacity and introduce additional downstream labelling and strapping equipment. . . 

A tax on red meat? That won’t save the planet – or do much to improve our health – Julian Baggini:

The devil is a shape-shifter, not least when he takes the form of demonic foods. In response, the armies of the righteous have already waged war on sugar, and now red meat is in their sights. This time their cause seems doubly just. Red meat, we are told, is not only bad for our health, but the belching and farting ruminants that we farm are ruinous for the planet.

Emboldened by the apparent success of the sugary drinks tax, the weapon of choice to slay this monster is a similar levy on meat. Oxford University’s professor of population health, Mike Rayner, has even done the maths, and concludes that we need to tax red meat by 20% and processed meat by at least 100% to offset their costs to human health.

On the face of it, the meat tax looks like an appetising idea. But once you start putting some flesh on its bare bones it starts to look less savoury. I’ve become even more convinced about this after taking part as a juror in a Food Policy on Trial event hosted by the Food Ethics Council, of which I am a member. This intensive, exploratory half-day exercise heard from four experts, with questions from jurors and an audience made up mostly of food industry and policy experts. . .


Rural round-up

April 27, 2018

Direct link between irrigation and polluted waterways is ‘wrong’ says mayor – Jo McKenzie McLean:

Wide opinion that an “incontrovertible” direct link exists between irrigation and the degradation of New Zealand’s waterways “is wrong”, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan says.

Cadogan delivered an opening speech at Irrigation New Zealand’s national conference being held in Alexandra, Central Otago, on Wednesday and Thursday. 

He told a crowd of over 400 that he was one of the few at the conference who had an “unbiased view” and in the past had drawn criticism from both ends of the spectrum. . . .

Goats blue is gold for cheese maker – Daniel Birchfield:

The accolades just keep coming for Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese.

Following its successful showing at last month’s Wisconsin World Champion Cheese Contest in the United States, where it picked up two top-five placings, Whitestone was last week awarded one gold and two silver medals in the dairy category of the 2018 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards.

Its Ohau Goat’s Blue cheese claimed gold and Lindis Pass Brie and Camembert silver.

Whitestone’s Shenley Station cheese was highly commended. . .

Ballance Agri-Nutrients reaps savings, health and safety benefits with new app:

A new locally developed mobile app is helping Ballance Agri-Nutrients provide a safer environment for staff and customers, while removing paper-work, streamlining business processes and providing cost efficiencies for the company and its shareholders alike.

The New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative, which provides fertilisers as part of its business, called on its trusted technology partner, Soltius, to develop the mobile app which plugs into the company’s traditional SAP enterprise software.

The Loader Driver app mobilises the company’s SAP S/4 HANA system, providing ‘a shopping cart in your loader cab’ for the drivers to be able to more easily load spreading trucks picking up fertiliser from Ballance Agri-Nutrients centres around New Zealand. . .

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