Rural round-up

February 9, 2015

Rural sports take centre stage – Paul Taylor:

Shearer David Fagan cemented his status as a true great of the sport with a thrilling victory yesterday.

Fagan (53) beat the 10 best shearers in the country to take the inaugural NZ Speed Shear Championship title, at the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Queenstown.

The 16 time NZ Golden Shears and five time world champion faced rival Dion King (40) in the final.

Fagan sheared two sheep in 42.26sec, ahead of King’s 44.48sec. . .

Safer farms launched today:

A six year safety programme aimed at reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on farms is being launched today.

The programme, Safer Farms, is being launched by Work Safe New Zealand at Lincoln University today. . .

Best young farmer in the South – Paul Taylor:

Winton sharemilker Steve Henderson is the best young farmer in Otago and Southland.

Mr Henderson (28) won the regional final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest after an exhausting day competing in the Queenstown sunshine on Saturday.

He will now represent the region at the nationals in Taupo on July 6.

”She was a pretty big day against good competition, so it feels good to go through,” Mr Henderson said. . .

Ewes wouldn’t say ‘running’ – Guy Williams:

It was billed as the Running of the Wools, but ”running” doesn’t quite sum up this sheep yarn.

Slideshow here

It had less of the stampeding and goring of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, and more of the barking, eye-balling and milling around of television’s A Dog’s Show. . .

The problem of food: Scientist puts spotlight on crisis:

“Food safety and security is one of the most significant challenges humanity has ever faced. We are entering a global crisis, and the complexity of the problem demands urgent measures.”

That’s according to Lincoln University Senior Lecturer in Food Microbiology, Dr Malik Hussain, whose comments come as part of an editorial in a special edition of the journal Advances in Food Technology and Nutritional Sciences.

At the heart of the challenge lie the pressing issues of a large, rapidly growing population, deteriorating agricultural soils, falling water tables, and the need to rapidly modify production methods based on climate change.

According to Dr Hussain, while food safety and security issues are nothing new, it’s the scale and interconnectedness of the problem that makes the situation more serious now. . .

Winton entrant wins top awards – Sally Rae:

Winton deer farmer Dave Lawrence, from the Tikana stud, won the champion of champions title at the Elk and Wapiti Society of New Zealand’s annual velvet and antler competition in Wanaka.

Mr Lawrence, who enjoyed considerable success in the competition, which attracted 63 entries, won the five year section, before claiming the top award. . .

Women’s programme receives support:

A programme to help upskill women on sheep and beef farms has just received significant new backing.

The programme, Understanding Your Farming Business, is run by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust with funding from the Government and industry collaboration, the Red Meat Profit Partnership.

The trust’s executive director Lindy Nelson said it helped women to gain a better understanding of what drives a farming business and how to measure on-farm performance. . .

Charity bike ride for rural mental health issues – Dave Goosselink:

The taboo subjects of depression and suicide in the farming community are behind a South Island charity bike ride.

Twenty-seven riders are cycling from Picton to Bluff to raise awareness of mental health issues, and for Southland farmer John Dowdle, it’s a very personal issue.

As well as getting up early to bring in the cows, Mr Dowdle has been busy training for a charity ride. He’ll spend the next nine days cycling down the West Coast along with 26 other riders, raising awareness for an issue that’s not often discussed. . .

New Zealand wine goes head-to-head with Australia and England to celebrate the Cricket World Cup:

The cricket pitch is not the only place New Zealand will be competing with the two sporting behemoths, Australia and England, during the upcoming Cricket World Cup. New Zealand wine is battling it out with Australian and English wine in a series of cricket-themed blind tastings this month to celebrate the start of the competition.

To kick-off the celebrations, New Zealand sparkling wine will compete with English sparkling wine in the “Battle of the Bubbles” on 19 February in Wellington. 12 wines from each country will be tasted blind by two teams, each headed by one Wine Captain. Jane Skilton MW will captain New Zealand with moral support from cricketing legend Stephen Fleming. Wine super-star Oz Clarke will lead the English team. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 22, 2014

Two exciting years in a row – Allan Barber:

2014 and 2015 promise to be two of the most exciting years the red meat industry has seen for a long time and for a change the news is not all bad. There are some clouds around, but also silver linings like better beef and lamb prices, improved profitability and the possibility of positive developments in the industry’s structure.

At long last, after a slow start, there are plenty of signs the industry as a whole has recognised the need for change to address the main challenges of inadequate prices, declining sheep and beef numbers and excess capacity which have inexorably brought about land use conversions to more profitable activities. . .

  –  Allan Barber:

The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey conducted in November found confidence among sheep and beef farmers had risen from just under 50% to 75% since the previous survey the previous quarter. However the overall confidence level remained low because of pessimism among dairy farmers, although this was slightly better than the two year low in the previous survey.

Sheep and beef farmer confidence is now on a par with dairy farmers’ confidence about their outlook and consistent with the situation two years ago. Major reasons for the turnaround are not difficult to fathom, but apart from the contrasting price trend for the respective products, half the farmers surveyed were optimistic about the outlook for global red meat demand.

The relative investment intentions of the two sectors also bore out the levels of optimism with 41% of sheep and beef farmers intending to invest more in their farms compared with just 18% of dairy farmers. . .

Fiordland rangers prepare for stoat plague – Dave Goosselink :

Rangers in Fiordland National Park are preparing for a major stoat plague, which will threaten one of our most endangered birds.

There are only around 260 takahe left, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is doing its best to prevent any of them from becoming a Christmas dinner.

A remote part of the Murchison Mountains is home to the last wild population of takahe. The critically endangered native birds face a fresh wave of predators this summer due to bumper seed production in beech forests. . .

Tradition ties agents to job – Alan Williams:

There has been a raft of changes in the livestock agency industry in the more than 50 years Fred Fowler and John Honeybone have been working in Canterbury saleyards but one feature stays the same.

They’re both out there in the sprawling Canterbury Park facility wearing a tie.

“That’s the dress code,” Honeybone says.

“It’s good for discipline, specially for the young fellas.”

Fowler agrees. 

“If you’re standing in front of the public then you wear a tie.” . . .

The people behind the scene – Sally Millar:

As the year draws to a close, I would like to reflect on the year from a regional policy perspective. As Federated Farmers Policy Advisor my role is to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure they are able to farm without resource management policies and plans unduly impacting on their farm businesses.

With an ever changing regulatory climate, compliance can make farming tricky at times. We consider that most farming activities should be permitted, with appropriate standards that are essentially good farming practice and should be able to be complied with, with minimum fuss.  There are however areas where farmers will need a resource consent such as for building a bridge, discharging effluent, or getting a water consent for dairy shed wash-down.  This can be a confusing and complicated process.

Where resource consent is required, Federated Farmers Policy works to ensure the controls are appropriate, fair and achievable, without undue cost to the farmer.   This means if we do our job well much of what we achieve will go largely unnoticed. So I don’t necessarily see it as a negative if members are unsure of what I really do.  . .

Farmers face risk of dam-dry summer:

Low reserves of water in Canterbury have farmers and irrigation companies concerned ahead of what is threatening to be a dry summer.

The  Opuha Dam in south Canterbury is half empty – when, by now, it is usually more than 90 percent full and ready to keep pastures green through the summer.

Fish and Game said there had been an over-allocation of available water, which affected rivers and their ecosystems and needed to be addressed.

While the dam supplied water for irrigation, its main purpose was to stop the Opuha River from running dry. A dry spring and a lack of snow melt meant the dam had just over half the water it should have at this time of year. . .

Fonterra Welcomes New Managing Director International Farming:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is pleased to welcome new Managing Director International Farming Alan van der Nagel to the business.

Mr van der Nagel reports directly to Chief Executive Theo Spierings, and replaces Henk Bles who has served as Interim Managing Director since April. Mr Bles is staying on in an advisory role for up to six months, ensuring a smooth leadership transition.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Mr van der Nagel had a considerable level of executive experience in internationally integrated dairy companies in emerging markets, and an impressive track record of driving operational excellence, working with multi-cultural teams, and managing large-scale international joint ventures. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 13, 2014

Environmental manager’s job an ideal fit – Sally Rae:

When Beef and Lamb New Zealand decided to create a new environmental extension manager position, it was an ideal job for Erica van Reenen.

The role combined two of Ms van Reenen’s passions – agriculture and the environment.

It was established earlier this year to support farmers wanting to achieve environmental best practice on-farm, while maintaining profitable businesses.

Ms van Reenen (29), who grew up in Wanaka, has had a long-standing love of farming, which was coupled with an equal passion for conservation and the environment. . . .

Nominations open for 2014 agribusiness leadership awards:

Nominations have opened for this year’s prestigious Rabobank Leadership awards – recognising the contribution of outstanding leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food and agribusiness industries.

The annual awards, which are now in their ninth year, acknowledge the important role played by senior leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s agribusiness and agri-related industries with the Rabobank Leadership Award, which was last year won by New Zealand wine industry luminary Sir George Fistonich, the founder and owner of Villa Maria Estate.

A second award category introduced for the first time last year, the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award, recognises up-and-coming young leaders in the sector. In 2013, this award went to Australian grains industry advocate Georgie Aley, the managing director of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. . . .

National Ploughing Champs prove challenging – Dave Goosselink:

Soggy ground conditions have proved a challenge for competitors at the National Ploughing Championships in Blenheim.

Clydesdale horses and vintage tractors added to the spectacle, with all competitors aiming to plough in a straight line.

It’s a hard row ploughing the perfect field, but competitors at the 59th National Ploughing Champs are happy to take their time.

“It’s certainly not a speed event,” says Palmerston North ploughman Eddie Dench. “We’ve got 20 minutes to do what we’ve just done. And then after we have lunch and make some adjustments, we have two hours 40 to finish the plot.” . . .

Perendale breeders’ work recognised – Sally Rae:

The Mitchell family, from Clinton, have been highlighted as an example of what the ”Perendale spirit” is all about.

On Friday, Rae Mitchell was made a life member of the Otago Perendale Breeders Club, during the Farmlands Perendale New Zealand national conference in Otago.

During a conference tour visit to the Mitchell family’s farm, home of the Hillcrest Perendale stud, PerendaleNZ chairman Tim Anderson said it was a family farm, working together and producing top sheep.

Mr Mitchell was ”very humbled” by the presentation, saying involvement with the breed had played a major role in his family.

There had been ups and downs, but also a lot of highs, and they had made many friends. . .

Americans want what we’ve got – Stephen Bell:

More Americans want safe, sustainable, pasture-fed, free-range meat but the biggest threat to the opportunities there is ensuring continuity of supply, Lamb Co-operative chief executive Shane O’Hara says.

O’Hara, a Kiwi who has worked in the American meat industry for 26 years, said New Zealand produces what a new generation of Americans is increasingly looking for but keeping products in front of them 52 weeks a year is a struggle.

Domestic lamb production in the United States had been declining since subsidy removal in the 1970s though total consumption had remained stable, he told the opening session of the AgInnovation conference in Feilding by video link from Connecticut. . . .

Drone speeds up wheat selection – Kim Honan:

It would be hard to miss the large helium-filled tethered balloon, floating above the wheat fields in Mexico’s Yaqui Valley, near Obregon.

However, you could be forgiven for thinking a bird is buzzing in the airspace around it, but it is a drone.

Both the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the 8-metre long blimp, are fitted with cameras by researchers, at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT).

The instruments are used to measure the physiological properties of the thousands of wheat lines in the trial plots at the Norman E. Borlaug Experiment Station. . .


Rural round-up

November 1, 2013

Drone helps Southland farmers check on stock – Dave Goosselink:

A Southland farming family have employed a set of digital eyes to help keep track of their stock.

They’re using a remote-controlled drone fitted with cameras to fly over their large farm, counting sheep and looking out for problems.

There are over 4000 sheep and cattle on the Gardyne family’s farm, and it was 13-year-old Mark who suggested turning to technology.

“Dad and I were watching TV and we saw the drones in Afghanistan for the military purposes and we decided how we could use that in agriculture,” says Mark Gardyne. . . .

Allan Barber:

The announcement by Silver Fern Farms of the reopening of its Finegand, Balclutha, casings plant eight years after it closed is an interesting example of history repeating itself. Of particular interest are the reasons behind resuscitating an operation which nobody would ever have foreseen as likely.

The first part of the explanation is both simple and inexplicable: simple because China has stopped accepting any shipments of green runners (sheep and lamb intestines) which were processed into sausage casings, inexplicable because nobody seems to know why. The second component of the explanation is belief by SFF that it can amalgamate substantial volumes of green runners from its South Island plants and add value to them profitably in the new facility. . . .

Progress for irrigation in Otago and Rangitikei:

Federated Farmers congratulates the Government on their commitment to sustainable irrigation in New Zealand.

“The Government’s $850,000 investment into the Central Otago and Rangitkei projects, through their Irrigation Acceleration Fund, will go a long way to improving these provinces economically and socially. It also bodes well for getting it right from the beginning,” says Ian MacKenzie, Federated Farmers Water Spokesperson.

“The potential for these provinces to develop and profit from a more reliable irrigation source is huge – with only two percent of our rainfall used for irrigation right now. It also will play a major part in reaching the goal to double our exports by 2025. . .

Iconic lake benefits from weed control:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says great progress is being made to improve the health of Lake Wanaka through efforts to rid it of a noxious weed.

Lagarosiphon, also known as South African oxygen weed, chokes waterways, smothers native aquatic plant communities and it establishes quickly if left untreated.

Weed control at Lake Wanaka is carried out by a lagarosiphon management committee, led by Land Information New Zealand. . .

Stable wool pricing needed – Wools of New Zealand:

At an estimated average production cost of $4.50/kilo of greasy wool, cross bred wool growers have had only two years of profitable returns over the past decade, continuing a 30-year downward cycle.

Mark Shadbolt, chairman of Wools of New Zealand, says the numbers make for sober reading. “The industry’s primary concern has to be with price volatility. When there’s a price spike manufacturers switch away from wool, eroding demand and fuelling further volatility. Wools of New Zealand have developed a stable pricing model designed to stabilise prices for growers and customers alike, which over time will provide incremental growth in demand and ultimately returns at farm gate.”

Writing in the just released Wools of New Zealand annual report – the first since the company’s successful capital raise was completed in February this year – Mr Shadbolt notes that the company has developed two six month stable price contracts direct with customers. . .

New programme to unlock Northland’s primary industry potential:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has launched a new programme to help unlock the potential for primary industry growth in Northland today.

“This is the start of a wider programme by the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with regions to help them further develop industries like agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and aquaculture.

“We chose to start with Northland because it has significant potential, with a good climate and a vast tracts of land suitable for further development,” says Mr Guy.

MPI is already working with two Māori-owned farms in Northland. One involves the conversion of 270 hectares of Māori land to a dairy farm. The other involves providing technical support for a 2480 hectare dairy and beef farm to increase productivity, with the support of key partners including Landcorp, Dairy NZ and Te Tumu Paeroa. . .

Special Year as 2014 Dairy Awards Entries Open:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are accepting entries in what is likely to be the most memorable awards competition to date.

National convenor Chris Keeping says the 2014 awards coincide with the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition – the country’s longest running dairy farming contest.

“We are taking some time to celebrate this achievement and are enjoying the trip down memory lane as we see where some of our past winners, entrants, judges and organisers are now. What has become apparent is the long lasting effect and impact their association with the contest has had on them and their dairy farming career.” . . .

Give it up for the dairy industry’s Oscars – Willy Leferink:

What do you call the dairy industry’s Oscars, Emmy’s or the Canon Media Awards all rolled into one? It’s the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

These awards are much more than a night for farmers to don a tux and hit the big smoke, although Auckland is where the finals are being held in 2014. Next year also happens to be the 25th Anniversary of the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition. For those who don’t know much about sharemilking it is a unique New Zealand pathway into farming. There is lower order sharemilking which is the first rung on the ladder before progressing onto 50/50 sharemilking. There is also equity partnership, where a farmer manages the farm and draws a salary but also has an equity stake in the farm business. All three forms are businesses and mean people with little money but a great work ethic can make a great future for themselves and their family.

In order to recognise the best in our industry is why 25 years ago, Federated Farmers ran the very first Sharemilker of the Year competition in Stratford. . .

Award-Winning Amisfield Wine Company Ownership Returns to Its Roots:

Leading New Zealand businessman John Darby recently announced he has become the sole shareholder of multi award-winning Amisfield Wine Company.

Mr Darby, who was previously a majority shareholder, assumed full ownership following the buyout of other shareholders.

Founded in 1988 and originally known as Lake Hayes Wines, vines were first planted on 110 hectares of vineyards in Gibbston Valley in the early 1990s. . . .

New HALO reds show Hawke’s Bay’s class:

Hawke’s Bay’s classic red wine characteristics shine through in two Sacred Hill HALO premium red wines from the 2012 vintage, released this week.

Named after the distinctive halo in Sacred Hill’s logo, the HALO range has earned a reputation for handcrafted, richly textured wines and the Sacred Hill HALO Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2012 and HALO Syrah 2012 continue that tradition.

Chief winemaker Tony Bish says the wines are made from small parcel selections of fruit from Sacred Hill’s best vineyards. . .


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