Rural round-up

August 3, 2015

Ballance delivers cash to shareholders up front:

. . . Farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients has fast-tracked its 2014/15 rebate and dividend payment to get much-needed cash to farmers early.

On 31 July, the co-operative will begin its distribution of an average $60 per tonne, seven weeks ahead of its normal payment schedule. The rebate, averaging $55.83 a tonne along with a 10 cent dividend per share will see a total distribution to shareholders of $76 million – equating to 94 percent of its $81 million gross trading result.

Chairman David Peacocke said today that the co-operative’s solid performance meant it could support its shareholders and move quickly to do so. . .

Mixing style, substance and ambition – Sally Rae:

Chanelle Purser is possibly the most stylish calf rearer in Crookston.

Her fur jacket might usually remain in the wardrobe while she is in the calf shed, but brightly painted fingers dispense milk to hungry charges.

Mrs Purser (42) is somewhat of a dynamo, farming with her husband Phil in West Otago and running a successful retail business in Gore, but she takes it all in her well-manicured stride. . .

Strong demand for good farm dogs – Diane Bishop:

A shortage of good working dogs pushed prices up at the Gore dog sale.

PGG Wrightson Gore livestock manager Mark Cuttance said the top heading dogs fetched $5500 to $5700 while the top huntaways made about $5600 at the sale on Wednesday July 29.

Cuttance wasn’t surprised.

“We expect that sort of money for the top end dogs,” he said.

Cuttance said there was a shortage of good working dogs, because of less shepherds on the land, and vendors saw the Gore dog sale as the perfect opportunity to achieve market value for their dogs in a competitive environment. . . .

Mid Canterbury farmland sold to foreign-owned Craigmore Farming – Jack Montgomerie:

A company associated with a South Canterbury rich-lister has bought more Canterbury farmland.

An Overseas Investment Office decision released on Friday stated the 95 per cent foreign-owned Craigmore Farming NZ Limited Partnership had received approval to buy 83 hectares of land.

Craigmore planned to incorporate the cropping land on New Park Rd, located about 15 kilometres southwest of Ashburton, into its Wairepo dairy farm operation. . .

End the squabbling over free range – David Leyonhjelm:

TO scramble the metaphors, various thin-shelled types are running around like headless chooks over free-range eggs, proclaiming the sky will fall if the law doesn’t tell us all what the term means.

Facts and evidence are as scarce as hen’s teeth, while market forces are disappearing faster than a randy rooster.

The cause is the fact that consumers are increasingly choosing free-range eggs over cage eggs. There are no health, welfare, nutritional or environmental advantages to this. Cage and free-range eggs are no different, although free-range eggs are more likely to be contaminated by chook poo. . .

 Pretty Woman protecting soils:

JULIA Roberts is getting dirty with the aim of helping agriculture.

The Academy Award winner and star of such films as Pretty Woman and Mystic Pizza, has become the latest in a line of international VIPs to call for action to protect soils.

The Hollywood actress has become the newest face of the Save Our Soils initiative, following in the footsteps of several dedicated environmentalists including the Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, activist Vandana Shiva and conservationist Douglas Tompkins. . .

Green dilemma – a GE rice that reduces greenhouse gas emissions – Kiwiblog:

This will pose a dilemma for the Greens. Scientists have developed a genetically engineered rice crop that has significantly reduced methane (the most powerful greenhouse gas) emissions over normal rice.

So if the Greens truly believe their rhetoric that greenhouse gas emissions are the biggest threat to Earth today, surely this means they will drop their opposition to genetically engineered crops and welcome this GE rice?

Nature Magazine reports:

Atmospheric methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, and is responsible for about 20% of the global warming effect since pre-industrial times1, 2. Rice paddies are the largest anthropogenic methane source and produce 7–17% of atmospheric methane2, 3. Warm waterlogged soil and exuded nutrients from rice roots provide ideal conditions for methanogenesis in paddies with annual methane emissions of 25–100-million tonnes3, 4. This scenario will be exacerbated by an expansion in rice cultivation needed to meet the escalating demand for food in the coming decades4.  . .

Apropos of which with a hat tip to Utopia:


Rural round-up

April 7, 2015

Sticky fingered thief nabs hives:

A Taranaki beekeeper has been stung by the theft of 20 hives containing up to a million bees.

Stephen Black said the theft had cost him thousands of dollars. The hives had at least 200 kilograms of honey, which was ready for harvest.

He said they were probably targeted because of the increasing value of manuka honey. . .

Kiwi invention manages polluting cow urine :

On dairy farms around the country, pastures and soil are struggling to absorb vast amounts of cow urine, creating a huge headache for farmers.

An Auckland company believes it has come up with a solution to stop nitrates from cow urine polluting soils and waterways, and also believes it will help farmers save money.

“Dairy farming, although it is bringing enormous benefits to the country’s economy, it is producing more nitrates that are getting into our waterways, so something has to be done,” says Dr Bert Quin.

That is what has led Dr Quin and his business partner, Geoff Bates, to come up with the invention they’ve nicknamed “Spikey”. . .

Zespri completes European planting – Gerard Hutching:

The Mafia is just one of the hazards that Zespri’s European supply manager Callum Kay has to be aware of, but he says its threat is well contained.

Based just south of Rome, Kay manages Zespri’s kiwifruit growing business in Italy and France. About 1400 hectares are planted in Italy, 400 ha in France.

The majority of the kiwifruit in Italy is grown in the Lazio region near Rome, followed by Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna in the north. About 5 per cent of plantings are in Calabria and Campania, home to the ‘Ndrangheta and Camorra criminal organisations. . .

Visitors increasingly vital for station – Sally Rae:

Lake Ohau Station managers Simon and Liko Inkersell are very aware they live in a special environment.

The 8322ha high country property, on the shores of Lake Ohau, is situated in a spectacular location, with increasing numbers of visitors in the area.

Part of their business was now also bringing people into the area, with the opening of the Lake Ohau Quarters two years ago, and accommodation was becoming a significant part of the operation, Mr Inkersell told an Otago Merino Association field day at the property recently. . .

Landcorp launches new brand – Gerard Hutching:

State-owned enterprise farmer Landcorp has launched a new brand called Pamu to identify its products.

It was a “great modern design” that had been tested with consumers in New Zealand and overeas.Meaning “to farm” in Maori, Pamu was a “fresh, original name which talks to who we are and what we do” said Landcorp chief executive Steve Carden. The cost of the exercise was $65,000.

Carden said the branding was all about adding value to products.

“Consumers are really interested in finding out about products and where they came from,” he said. . .

NMIT ready to harvest new varieties:

New grape varieties planted on Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)’s Marlborough campus vineyard are ready for their first vintage this year.

 In 2012, NMIT viticulture and wine staff and students began replacing rows of Pinot Noir on the half-hectare on-campus vineyard with several new and classic varieties donated by Riversun Nursery in Gisborne.  They completed further plantings in 2013 and 2014.

NMIT viticulture tutor Glenn Kirkwood says the new varieties have all grown “incredibly well” on the fertile soil, however it remains to be seen how the fruit pans out.

‘FIRB’ screen locks out investors –  David Leyonhjelm:

NEW foreign investment rules for agricultural land purchases will choke farm sales in red tape, says DAVID LEYONHJELM.


I’VE met plenty of farmers my age who are thinking about and planning for the end of their farming days.

Some have succession plans with family members. But many don’t, and their plan is to sell. They’re not sentimental but they have a strong connection with their land, and they know its worth.

They also need to sell at a fair price. They’ve got debts to repay before funding their retirement. After a lifetime of investing in the farm, their superannuation nest egg doesn’t compare with those who have been ‘pay-as-you-go’ employees all their life.

The potential outcome of one who has decided it’s time to sell goes as follows. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 9, 2014

Thoughts from the UK – Alan Barber:

While in the UK briefly last week I spent a couple of nights with an old university friend who actually got a First in Agriculture at Cambridge which was the best degree achieved by any of my friends or, not surprisingly, me. He farms near the M4 in Berkshire less than 100 kilometres from London.

As usual when I see him, we were chatting about the state of agriculture in our respective countries. He asked me whether I needed a ‘pommie farmer whinge’ to provide some material for a column, so not unnaturally I told him to go ahead. His first complaint was about the amount of New Zealand lamb competing with British lamb in the supermarkets. I suggested the view back home was the natural seasonal fit of New Zealand product didn’t really cut across, but rather complemented, the seasonal availability of British lamb. . .

Professional Foresters Award Their Achievers:

Leaders in the forestry industry were recognised at the New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s annual awards dinner held in Napier last night.

Forester of the Year was awarded to Paul Nicholls, managing director of Rayonier NZ,for outstanding service to the forestry industry.

The award is one of the highest accolades in the industry, recognising contribution, leadership, excellence and integrity. . . .

 Agrarian socialism’s sticky end? – David Leyonhjelm :

THE sugar industry is notorious for attaching itself to the public teat. Concentrated in several marginal seats along the Queensland coast, it has a long history of extracting taxpayer subsidies when prices are down, coercing governments into mandatory use of ethanol in fuel, and blocking imports of both sugar and ethanol.

Most famously, a decade ago it received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to help it restructure in the face of low prices. Prices bounced back soon after the scheme commenced and, apart from the impact of abolition of the single desk in 2006, not a lot of restructuring occurred. They kept the money though.

A major controversy has now erupted as a result of the decision by the sugar processing company Wilmar to sell all its sugar direct to international customers rather than via the grower-owned marketing organisation, Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), beginning in 2017. This has prompted another processor, Thai-owned MSF Sugar, to suggest it may follow suit. True to form, there are numerous calls for regulators and governments to intervene. A horde of politicians, including the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, is taking a close interest. . . .

 Environmental support for sheep and beef farmers:

Sheep and beef farmers will have a stronger voice in the regions on environmental issues, through an agreement between Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has added a regional policy capacity to its national and international policy activities directed at sustainability, through a contract with Federated Farmers to use its regional policy network.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said: “Federated Farmers has an excellent regional network. Rather than duplicate that, we’ve reached an agreement to use its resources on regional environmental issues.

“We think this is the most efficient way of using sheep and beef farmers’ money to strengthen our voice in this important area.” . .

Genetics used to combat facial eczema:

Dairy farmers battling the devastating livestock disease facial eczema are getting help from scientists and a cattle breeding company.

Facial eczema is a fungal disease spread from spores in pasture. It can kill livestock and is estimated to cost dairy farmers about $160 million a year in lost milk production.

AgResearch and CRV Ambreed, with the backing of DairyNZ, are taking a genetics approach by breeding dairy cattle that are more resistant to the disease. . .

Clue to late puberty in sheep discovered by AgResearch:

A needle-in-a-haystack search for the genetic cause of delayed puberty in a flock of Romney ewes has paid off for a team of AgResearch scientists.

Understanding what regulates the arrival of puberty is important for livestock breeding as well as human health.

Researchers in AgResearch’s Animal Reproduction team at Invermay had noticed that late puberty was a family trait in their research flock. This caused the late developers to miss out on lambing during what could be their first breeding season. They had previously demonstrated that late developers also produce fewer lambs during their lifespans. . .

Rural talent on display in Lincoln:

Every year New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) members from across the country come together to catch up, cheer on their Grand Finalist at the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, compete in the clay target shooting, fencing and stock judging national finals and attend the Annual General Meeting.

The top scoring competitors from the regional levels represented their regions as they battled it out for top place at the finals in Lincoln University, Friday 4 July.

The winner of the Gun City Clay Target Shooting Final was Waikato/Bay of Plenty’s Jeffrey Benson of the Hamilton City Young Farmers Club followed by Isaac Billington of the South Waikato Club and in third place was Otago/Southland representative, Brendon Clark of the Tokomairiro Club. . .


Worse than MMP

September 13, 2013

MMP is far from perfect as electoral systems go but the composition of the Australian senate is evidence that their convoluted preferential system is even worse.

Six little-known candidates from assorted ‘micro-parties’ hold the balance of power in Australia’s senate – or upper house – after Saturday’s election.

The result has led to calls to change the electoral rules, which allow parties to win the seats with as little as 0.2 per cent of the vote – or 1,908 votes – in the case of the Australian Sports Party. Another small party, the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, is likely to win with just 0.5 per cent of the vote.

Parties running for the 76-member state-based Senate can “harvest” their votes and do numerous deals with other parties to swap unused votes. The complex system has even led to the emergence of a consultant, Glenn Druery, a skilled mathematician and political operative, who works for small parties to cobble together backroom vote swap deals. . .

Vote harvesting, deals to swap unused votes, a seat with as little as .2% of the vote?  That doesn’t seem to be the best way to determine the make-up of the senate.

Among the new senators who will take their seats next July are:

Ricky Muir, Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party

Muir, 32, supports four-wheel “bush bashing” – or driving off-road in the outback. He posted an online video, which he has now removed, of himself throwing “kangaroo poo” in a garden. “What’s the big deal?” said his spokesman. He also suggested on twitter that George W Bush was responsible for the September 11 attacks.

David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrats

A pro-gun libertarian, Leyonhjelm appears to have won in part because his party appeared first on the lengthy 3.3-foot Senate ticket and because some voters may have thought he represented Tony Abbott’s Liberal party. “Looks like I’m going to be the senator for the donkeys,” he said, referring to the throwaway votes – or donkey votes – which are likely to get him elected. . .

         Wayne Dropulich, Australian Sports Party

A former member of Australia’s gridiron – or American football – team, Dropulich, a civil engineer, said he and some friends came up with the idea for the party several months ago. His party’s slogan was: “Are you more interested in sports than politics?”

Glenn Lazarus, Palmer United Party

A former Australian rugby league forward, he is known throughout the nation as “the brick with eyes”. He once posed naked with a brick to promote a brick company. . .

If this is what a preferential electoral system and compulsory voting deliver then thank goodness we don’t have either.

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