Rural round-up

19/05/2022

Drought in rural South Auckland pushing up food prices, growers say – Stephen Forbes:

Vegetable growers in Auckland’s rural south say drought conditions are playing havoc with their day-to-day operations and will only add to increased prices for consumers.

It follows the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) declaring the drought a “medium-scale adverse event” in south Auckland and the Waikato on Monday, along with a support package for affected farmers and growers.

South Auckland’s horticulture industry is centred on the Pukekohe Hub, 4359 hectares of some of New Zealand’s most fertile and productive land.

According to Auckland Council’s Climate Action Framework released in 2019 it generates $327 million a year, which is the equivalent of 26 percent of NZ’s total domestic value of vegetable production. . . 

Mass pig graves being dug as pig industry on point of collapse

Pig farmers say the industry is in crisis, with some fearing they’ll have to kill and dump animals as the pork market falls apart.

Mass imports at cheap prices, along with the pandemic fallout has seen demand for local products all but stop.

Pig farmer Hamish Mee and his wife Vicki are preparing for the worst.

An order for 219 pigs to leave their Methven farm on Sunday  . . 

Traditional German sausage stall stopping traffic in rural Taranaki – Robin Martin:

It has been dubbed the “little butchery in the middle of nowhere” – a traditional German sausage outlet that is stopping traffic in remote North Taranaki.

Bratwurst Bros has set up shop alongside State Highway 3 at Urutī – just under an hour’s drive from New Plymouth.

Urutī – population 800 – is less a settlement than a valley that offers motorists a rare opportunity to pass on this stretch of SH3.

Only about 2000 vehicles pass through on an average day. . . 

Boost for small towns as full calendar of shearing events planned – Kim Moodie:

Hopes are high for the return of competitive shearing events after two years of Covid-19 restrictions saw all but 14 events abandoned last season.

Organisers are confident they can go ahead with all 59 shearing sports competitions this season, which runs from October to April.

New Zealand shearing legend Sir David Fagan, who’s also the chairman of Shearing Sports NZ, said spots were also up for grabs to represent the country at the Royal Highland Show in Scotland next year.

“The places in the team up for grabs are two machine shearers, blades shearers and two woolhandlers in the Wools of New Zealand team,” he said. . . 

Kiwi milk company calls for the government to rethink recycling plan :

A New Zealand milk producer is calling for the Government to standardise kerbside recycling across the country, while sparing thousands of tonnes of packaging from going to landfill.

Otis, the New Zealand oat milk producer, says currently what is accepted for recycling in Hamilton is different to Dunedin, or Invercargill, Auckland or Wellington. The business says standardisation will provide greater clarity to New Zealanders and increase recycling habits.

The Kiwi start-up highlights most plant-based milks like Otis are packaged in Liquid Paper board packaging (LPB, commonly known as Tetra Pak) which has been excluded from the Government’s proposed kerbside recycling plan despite being shown to be the lowest carbon packaging option available, and capable of being made completely free of fossil fuels.

Hayley Pardoe, Otis head of marketing and sustainability, believes the Government’s recycling proposal needs to set the course for how we manage packaging resources through our economy for the coming next decades, yet some of the plan is at odds with the low carbon, circular future that New Zealanders are demanding. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/05/2022

Concern over widespread dry conditions – Neal Wallace and Gerald Piddock:

Dry autumn conditions are spreading throughout the country, with most regions seeking rain and forecasters warning conditions are likely to remain dry in the coming months.

Recent rain and warm weather has boosted feed on parched Southland and Otago farms which are delicately poised heading into winter, while Waikato and South Auckland farmers are being told to plan for a possible drought.

Dry autumn conditions are widespread through both islands, prompting farmers to reconsider winter feed budgets to account for lower than desired pasture cover.

The south of the South Island and Waikato appear hardest hit, missing the usual autumn flush leaving some farmers with low pasture cover, low supplementary reserves and fingers crossed for a mild winter. . . 

Health restructure ignores rural New Zealand :

The Government is squandering an opportunity to prioritise rural health and enshrine it in legislation, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill sets out the framework for Labour’s ill-timed health restructure and after the second reading in parliament yesterday, there is still a woeful lack of focus on the health needs of rural New Zealand.

“The genesis of this restructure was the Heather Simpson-led review of the health and disability sector. It mentioned rural health at least 30 times and made it very plain that rural services should be specifically planned for, recognising the unique challenges of living rurally.

“This idea is further emphasised by submissions made during the select committee process. . . 

Fonterra’s new capital structure gets closer – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s new capital structure brings its own risks, designed for choppy seas but not for a storm

The Government has been wrestling for many months as to how to respond to Fonterra’s proposed new capital structure, which its farmer-members voted for overwhelmingly.  The Ministry of Primary Industries, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, has now released a discussion paper indicating the Government proposed response. Essentially the Government is conceding to Fonterra’s wishes, but with some shackles proposed to constrain Fonterra‘s subsequent behaviours.

To understand what is happening, it is necessary to go back to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. The Fonterra that was formed at that time, with 96% of the national milk production under its control for processing and marketing, would not have been allowed if assessed under the Commerce Act. It would have run foul of restrictions on monopolies.

Accordingly, special legislation was put in place via the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) by the Labour Government of the day. Regulations were set in place allowing Fonterra to act as an effective monopoly in relation to marketing New Zealand milk overseas, but constrained in exerting monopoly power in the local New Zealand market.   . . 

Steady increase in beef cattle numbers :

Beef cattle numbers increased in 2021, while the number of sheep dipped slightly, Stats NZ said today.

Final figures from the 2021 Agricultural Production Survey showed that the number of beef cattle was up by 2 percent (82,000) from the previous year and there was a total of 4 million at 30 June 2021. Total beef exports were $3.6 billion for the year ended 30 June 2021.

“The total number of beef cattle has been increasing steadily since 2016. Just over two-thirds of all beef cattle are farmed in the North Island,” agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said. 

Sheep Numbers Down Slightly . . 

Smart spade one of new technologies for forest silviculture project :

A ‘smart spade’ which identifies exactly where to plant a tree seedling is just one of the new technologies in the seven-year $25.5 million Precision Silviculture development project.

The newly elected President of the Forest Owners Association, Grant Dodson, says the just announced joint government funded project to bring mechanisation and robots to the production of tree seedlings and the tending of plantations covers a wide range of technologies.

“It’s not a single Eureka discovery which is going to make all this work. It’s combining, for instance, a planter with a sensor and linking it to electronic mapping. The map sends a beep signal to the planter that they need to go a couple of metres up or along the slope to put the seedling in. The end result is a much more optimally spaced plantation forest which makes for better growth and easier and safer harvesting.”

Grant Dodson says that the growth in mechanical harvesting over the past decade already shows that using machinery results in greater productivity and a much safer workplace. . . 

The West’s role in Africa’s day of the locusts – Richard Tren & Jasson Urbach,:

Two weeks ago a Boeing 737 on final approach to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, flew into a massive cloud of locusts swarming above the airport. The insects were sucked into the plane’s engines and splattered across the windshield, blinding the pilots to the runway ahead. Throttling up to climb above the swarm, the pilot had to depressurize the cabin so he could reach around from the side window and clear the windshield by hand. Diverting to Addis Ababa, the plane was able to land safely.

The locusts that almost brought down the 737 are part of the worst infestation to hit Africa in 75 years. Swarms of locusts can blanket 460 miles at a time and consume more than 400 million pounds of vegetation a day; and the grasshopper-like insects increase logarithmically, meaning locust swarms could be 500 times bigger in six months.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls the threat “unprecedented,” but attempts at aerial spraying have been too little, too late — largely because of FAO’s own politically-driven agenda to limit pesticides — and experts fear Africa may once again be tilting toward widespread famine.

As poor farmers futilely shoo the voracious insects away with sticks, this modern plague highlights the urgent need for pesticides to protect crops and save lives. It also casts into stark relief the tragic consequences of UN, European and environmentalist campaigns to deny these life-saving chemicals to developing nations. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/03/2022

Fonterra repeals vaccine mandate in favour of daily rapid antigen tests – Jean Bell:

Unvaccinated employees will now be handed a rapid antigen test rather than a dismissal letter

Fonterra is abandoning its hardline vaccine policy, opting for daily rapid antigen testing in a move employment law experts call “pragmatic”. 

The dairy giant was due to enforce a strict mandate on April 1, 2022, requiring all employees and contractors to be fully vaccinated.

But in an email note sent out to staff this week, chief executive Miles Hurrell says the company is changing tack. . . 

Omicron spread causing staff shortages in poultry industry – Maja Burry:

The poultry industry is reporting staff shortages of 45 percent at some Auckland plants as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

New Zealanders consume about 125 million chickens each year – but the strain on processing capacity is forcing the industry to revise the number of chicks being hatched to help ensure farms do not become overwhelmed.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said prior to the Omicron outbreak its members had already been struggling with staff shortages of about 10 to 15 percent, with the usual supply of migrant workers and backpackers cut off.

“I’m now hearing as a result of Covid that you’ve got some plants where they’re [experiencing] 45 percent loss of staff, so they are really working hard.” . . 

Shearing helped Adkins be cut above :

Tom Adkins finds it “mind-boggling” he will be footing it with the country’s best young farmers, after winning the regional competition.

The 23-year-old Upper Waitaki Young Farmers chairman competed in the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year in Fairlie on February 26 and in February 27.

It was his first year competing at the regional level, and he found it “very challenging”.

“I’d been up to watch the grand final, and been to districts before, so I’d seen the polar opposites … thankfully it was a bit closer to district level than grand final,” Mr Adkins said. . . 

The giant puddle that could power New Zealand – Jill Herron:

It has been described as a “game changer” that would see fossil fuels disappear from our electricity generation.  Lake Onslow in Central Otago is proposed to be NZ’s Battery – but little is known about the place itself. Jill Herron reports.

Lake Onslow is man-made and started life as the delightfully-named ‘Dismal Swamp’. Bleak, windswept and utterly beautiful, it lies like a giant puddle in a depression high in the north-west Lammerlaw Ranges, near Roxburgh.

It’s an empty-feeling place, mostly made up of sky. Aside from a tiny breeze whispering through the tussock, the valley was quiet the day Newsroom visited the lake. The only sounds were distant honking geese and occasional growl of a boat motor, briefly propelling fishermen across the water to a prime spot, before falling silent again.

The lake is a unique and cherished brown trout fishery, set in a series of real-life Grahame Sydney paintings. . . 

Last-gasp tenure review plan panned as inadequate – David Williams:

The controversial tenure review process is about to end – will a Crown pastoral lease in Otago sneak through? David Williams reports

It could be the last.

A preliminary proposal to end the Lowburn Valley Crown pastoral lease suggests the freeholding of 44 percent of the 5814-hectare property, located in remote and steep country in Central Otago, between Lake Dunstan and Cardrona Valley.

The deal is racing to reach the “substantive” stage before a Bill before Parliament is enacted, closing the door on tenure review – a controversial process which ends pastoral leases through rights-acknowledging payments and dividing land into protected and freeholded portions. . . 

Cash back offer provides farmers with a ‘space for survival’ :

Safer Farms is reinforcing the value of crush protection devices (CPDs) on quad bikes and urging farmers to take advantage of a cash back offer.

Quad bikes contribute significantly to on farm fatalities. A CPD is specially designed to reduce the chance of serious injury or death in the event of a roll over.

Safer Farms is today launching ‘Control the Roll’ — a new campaign to raise awareness for the lifesaving cash back initiative currently available via ACC. A CPD creates a gap when it rolls over and meets the ground, taking the impact of the bike and keeping it off the operator laying underneath it. This increases the chance of a positive outcome for the operator in the event the quad bike rolls over.

The ACC cash back offer allows farmers to receive $180 (plus GST) cash back on up to two devices, including the Quadbar, Quadbar Flexi, and ATV Lifeguard CPDs. . . 


Rural round-up

02/03/2022

You won’t save the planet by killing NZ farmers – Andrew Hoggard:

Price penalties won’t drive down livestock emissions without affordable and practical new technologies being available to farmers – unless the aim is to kill off the sector.

Federated Farmers is baffled by comments by Climate Change Minister James Shaw that, “Pricing isn’t the only tool in the toolbox, but it remains the best way to reduce emissions directly – and that’s name of the game.”

This an overlysimplistic and domestic focused solution to a complex global problem. The global atmosphere does not benefit from New Zealand shrinking food production, even if our politicians can crow about local emissions reductions. Our farms’ emissions footprint is world-leading; forgone production here would just shift offshore to less efficient farmers.

An overly-high price signal for our livestock emissions would also have severe implications for the agricultural sector, regional economies, and the wider New Zealand economy.  . . 

Questioning is not an attack – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Scientists have been accused of mounting a sustained attack on regenerative agriculture and splitting the science community. Not all, but some.

The words are disappointing and misleading.

What some agricultural scientists have done is continue to ask questions of regenerative proponents. The ongoing questioning is because no answers have appeared – the proponents want money to do the research to answer the questions.

The point that agricultural scientists have been making is that a lot of the ‘needed’ research has been done and results are availableSome has been funded recently by various combinations of Ministry of Primary Industries (the farmer-science funding now termed Sustainable Food and Fibre Fund), Ministry for Business and Employment and levy bodies and has not shown positive results. . . 

Rural fitness campaign launched in NZ and Australia – Sally Rae:

She has curled her biceps on the shores of Lake Pukaki and lifted weights in the shadow of Aoraki-Mt Cook — now Kate Ivey is getting back to her rural roots.

Mrs Ivey is the founder of Kate Ivey Fitness, a business which began in her home in the remote Mackenzie Country in 2016 and has grown to 1600 members.

Established with the aim of helping women lead positive, healthy, fitness-filled lives, it started with a simple e-book which was then followed by the launch of DediKate, an online health and fitness community for women.

Initially, membership was predominantly rural but that demographic had since changed and Mrs Ivey was focusing on rural again, launching DediKate Rural today in both New Zealand and Australia, to officially start on March 21. . . 

Traceability key to alliance between butcher shop and farm – Sally Rae:

It is an alliance with its origins formed on the coastal pastures of the scenic Catlins.

Princes St Butcher and Kitchen owner David Gibson was looking for a supply of lamb with full traceability back to the people who owned the farm that grew the product.

Carey and Tracey Hancox, whose diversification on their busy farming operation near Owaka includes an on-farm butchery, were keen for a retail presence as most of their sales were online.

On Thursday, Mr Gibson took his first delivery of lamb from Mr and Mrs Hancox, some of which was available at the Otago Farmers Market on Saturday. . . 

Fruit and vegetable and wine grape growers welcome increase in workers coming from the Pacific:

New Zealand’s fruit, vegetable and winegrape growers have welcomed the news that the Government has increased the cap on workers from the Pacific under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to 16,000 workers.

‘The increase in the RSE worker cap will give growers some hope for the future,’ says HortNZ chief executive, Nadine Tunley.

‘While the increase won’t benefit the apple, kiwifruit and winegrape harvests that are currently underway, it is good news for the horticulture industry, long term.

‘Growers are under incredible stress at the moment due to the severe shortage of labour that Covid has created. Some growers are saying they only have 50 percent of the workers they need but are continuing to do everything they can, to get the fruit picked, packed and to market. . . 

Key to best beef is green and under your feet -Bob Freebairn:

Lee and Suzanne Young, “Dalyup” Coonabarabran, recently won a Meat Standards Australia award for Excellence in Eating quality.

These awards are issued to beef producers who consistently deliver carcases with superior eating quality. While genetics and animal management are important for quality meat production, Lee Young stresses that high quality pastures are especially important.

“Dalyup”, with the original part of their property owned by the family for almost 50 years, is a 740ha property that includes good quality loamy river flats soil, plus medium to lighter acidic textured hill country. Quality pastures include lucerne on the flats, Premier digit and Consol lovegrass, together with serradella and sub clover on the arable hill country, and upgraded native pasture on the non-arable areas.

Lee and Suzanne Young were early pioneer growers of the legumes serradella and biserrula that comprise the winter component of their introduced and native grass pastures. These are especially valued for their acid soil tolerance, good productivity their bloat tolerance and for building soil nitrogen. Because of soil variability serradella and biserrula are grown in combination with sub clover with each species more dominant in specific areas of a paddock depending on soil type. For over 40 years they have remained persistent across native and tropical grass paddocks. . . 

 


Rural round-up

21/02/2022

No cheap entry to split gas options – Richard Rennie:

The cost to run the alternative greenhouse gas (GHG) system for the primary sector now under discussion could cost the sector as much as $90 million a year.

The He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) split-gas emissions proposal roadshow is now well under way across New Zealand, with farmers having a chance to get under the hood of the two schemes presented, both likely to hit farm profits by between 4-6%.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the estimate of up to a $90m a year cost was “quite possible”, but was also one that had been fully imputed into estimates of what the respective farm based or industry-based schemes are likely to have on farm profits.

“There is no doubt, when you scale up the costs at a farm level to an industry level it does come to quite a big number,” Mackle said. . . 

Carbon report calls for a more strategic approach – Colin Williscroft:

Short-term land-use decisions risk the long-term future of New Zealand’s rural landscapes and communities, according to a green paper by former Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, however, some industry players are questioning parts of the paper’s content.

Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.

It was released ahead of a workshop early next month involving stakeholders, including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and Local Government NZ.

Yule said the paper outlines the risk that short-term decisions will make to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . . 

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest begins :

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first crop being picked this morning in Te Puke and more kiwifruit to be picked around New Zealand over the coming months.

The 2022 season has the potential to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before. A forecast of at least 190 million trays will need to be harvested, overtaking last year’s record of over 177 million trays. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

Zespri’s new RubyRed variety is picked first which is then followed by the Gold and Green varieties. The harvest traditionally peaks in mid-April and runs through until June.

The sweet, berry-tinged tasting Red kiwifruit will also be picked for supermarket shelves in New Zealand and some overseas markets this year. 2022 marks the first year that RubyRed will be sold as a commercial variety. . . 

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka reports record revenue :

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka has reported a record revenue for the year driven by a rebound in kiwifruit volumes and a lift in production.

Key numbers (for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 vs year ago)

  • Net profit $14.9m vs $15.2m
  • Revenue $309.6m vs $251.5m
  • Operating earnings $56.8m $42.9m
  • Dividend 13 cents per share vs 12cps

The company’s net profit is down 2 percent as 2020’s result included a $5.6 million deferred tax benefit. . . 

Precision Growing technology takes top honours at New Zealand International Business Awards 2021:

A Bay of Plenty business dedicated to “the art of growing for a healthier world” is the supreme winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2021, announced tonight [17 February] at the Awards’ first-ever broadcast ceremony. 

The Supreme Award winner, Bluelab, provides high-precision measurement technology for controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouses, vertical farms and hydroponic production. Operating for more than 30 years, Bluelab is internationally recognised as an industry leader, and provides tools and systems to measure critical factors like pH, temperature and moisture levels when growing plants in controlled environments. 

Bluelab’s products are designed, manufactured and exported globally from its base of operations in Tauranga. Bluelab previously won the Excellence in Innovation category at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.   . . 

Producer prices increase in the December 2021 quarter :

Producer input and output prices increased in the December 2021 quarter, led by rising prices in dairy and construction industries, Stats NZ said today.

In the December 2021 quarter compared with the September 2021 quarter, prices received by producers of goods and services (outputs) increased 1.4 percent. Prices paid by producers of goods and services (inputs) increased 1.1 percent over the same period.

“Producer prices are increasing, but slower than in the middle of 2021,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said.

“Most industries had increases in input and output prices, with dairy and construction industries having the largest contribution to increases in overall producer prices.” . . 


Rural round-up

16/02/2022

The folly of carbon farming with pine trees – Dame Anne Salmond:

It’s time for Labour and the Greens to rescue their climate consciences and stop plans to plant vast, environmentally risky pine forests as a way of offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions

Opinion: In New Zealand, we have a Labour-Green government at present. There are many smart, switched on people, both in the Government and in Parliament. For tackling Covid-19, we now have a cross-party consensus that largely follows scientific advice on how best to deal with the pandemic.

Why then, is it so different when it comes to dealing with climate change? It is difficult to imagine a less sustainable set of strategies than those that New Zealand took to COP-26 in Glasgow last November. These were short sighted and cynical, winning New Zealand a second ‘Climate Fossil’ award, for good reason.

Unfortunately, New Zealand’s ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ to COP-26 at home relies on covering our landscapes with short-lived, shallow rooting, highly flammable monocultures of pine trees. This kind of ‘off-setting’ is high risk, socially, ecologically and economically. . . 

Unseasonable rain behind arable ‘harvest from hell’ – Feds :

Three weeks of on and off rain, with the weekend’s storm a sting in the tail, have caused widespread damage to arable crops up and down the country.

“Talking to farmers who have been around for a while, some of them are calling it the worst harvest season in living memory,” Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Colin Hurst said.

“Normally we’d be most of the way through harvest by now but three weeks of continual rain held everything up, and now many parts of the country were hammered by the remnants of the cyclone.”

Only Southland seems relatively unaffected. . .

Avocado, kiwifruit growers counting costs of Cyclone Dovi’s winds :

The strong winds that lashed the country at the weekend have caused significant damage to some kiwifruit and avocado orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

Cyclone Dovi caused flooding, downed trees and cut power to homes.

Bay of Plenty orchardist Hugh Moore said some avocado trees were completely uprooted by the wind, while others had lost branches full of fruit.

He said both new season fruit and the last of this season’s crop have been impacted. . . 

Upfront: log exports explained – Marcus Musson, Forest360:

If a tree falls in the forest … should it be exported?

Exporting primary products from New Zealand has long been celebrated and underpins our economy and way of life. We all hail increased dairy and meat exports, are more than happy our best fruit and crayfish go offshore but throw our toys out of the cot about log exports.

Most elections will see some ill-informed politician standing in front of a wharf full of logs pontificating about keeping the logs for our local industry. Builders are quick to point the finger at log exporters for high lumber prices and supply issues assuming it’s caused by the log exports.

For perspective, think of trees as sheep and cows. They’re all cut into different products for different markets. Your favourite restaurant in Parnell isn’t likely to serve you up a medium rare sheep bladder and the pet food factory probably doesn’t have much demand for a lamb rack. Logs are no different except, unlike the fruit and fishing industries, we keep most of our good product here for our domestic sawmills and export bladder and brains grades of logs. . . 

New Zealand’s red meat processing and exporting sector announces new scholars for 2022 :

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) has awarded new scholarships to seven young New Zealanders considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector.

Every year, the Meat Industry Association awards a number of undergraduate ($5,000 per year) and post-graduate ($10,000 per year) scholarships. The organisation currently has a total of 21 scholars, with 14 existing scholars also continuing to receive support under the scheme.

This year’s new scholars are studying subjects ranging from food science to agribusiness, food marketing and supply chain management.

The returning scholars include both undergraduate and post graduate students, studying at a range of universities across New Zealand and internationally. . . 

Kacific and farmer Charlie team up to grow agricultural output and support sustainable development across Pacific:

Kacific Broadband Satellites and Farmer Charlie will bring affordable satellite-powered agricultural information and expertise to farmers in remote and isolated places across South East Asia and the Pacific.

The companies have signed an MoU supporting sustainable development and agriculture in small holdings across the region.

Kacific and Farmer Charlie will work together to deliver agricultural advice, localised weather information, and agribusiness information – including data from in-field sensors — to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses, helping them improve land management and food production using smart digital tools. It will also help them reduce post-harvest loss, better manage the risk of drought, floods, and other extreme weather events and address the impacts of climate change. . . 


Rural round-up

31/01/2022

MIA Immigration Minister risking food production:

At a time when supply chains are already frayed, the Government’s inaction on border class exceptions for time-critical workers could have an impact on food production and distribution in New Zealand, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“Workers for the grain harvest are needed here in February, but because of Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi’s inaction they’re unlikely to get here on time which could mean late and limited supply of essential food, like bread.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced on 12 December last year that he had created new border exceptions for 200 mobile machinery operators, 40 shearers and 50 wool handlers.

“The Immigration Minister should have sprung to action to enable these workers to get visas, but he sat on his hands for six weeks and didn’t sign off instructions allowing the workers to apply for their visas until 21 January. . .

Marlborough farmers turn to barge travel as road repairs drag on – Maja Burry:

Farming in Marlborough’s Kenepuru Sound has turned nautical, as locals wait for road repairs to be completed following a storm in July last year.

The storm caused significant damage to Kenepuru Road, leaving farmers no option but to use barges to shift tens of thousands of sheep and cattle and bring in farm supplies.

In December, residents were allowed to start using Kenepuru Road againduring set times, but no trucks or trailers were allowed.

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing at Johnson’s Barge Services in Havelock since the storm. . .

Sri Lanka to pay $200m compensation for failed organic farm drive :

Sri Lanka has announced compensation for more than a million rice farmers whose crops failed under a botched scheme to establish the world’s first 100-percent organic farming nation.

The island country is currently reeling from a severe economic crisis that has triggered food shortages and rolling blackouts as the COVID pandemic sent the tourism-dependent economy into a tailspin.

Agricultural chemicals such as fertiliser were among the imports banned last year as authorities tried to save dwindling foreign currency reserves. The restrictions were lifted months later after farmer protests and crop failures.

The government will pay 40,000 million rupees ($200m) to farmers whose harvests were affected by the chemical fertiliser ban, agriculture minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said on Tuesday. . . 

Woolshed and a gym – Richard Gavigan:

THE DOCKING IS DONE FOR 2021 AND it’s not a record result. Last year we did 152% lambs docked to ewes mated, our best ever. This year, despite a lift in scanning, we slipped to 142%.

Tight feed conditions during late pregnancy and lambing, the result of slow pasture growth and Porina damage, didn’t help. More significant was the effect of continuous cold, wet, windy weather during lambing.

My neighbour, Don, summed it up. “We didn’t even have a pet lamb this year,” he said. “The weather was too rough to go round them. If we’d gone out and disturbed the ewes and lambs we’d have done even more damage. As it was there were a fair few dead lambs behind rush bushes.”

We now need to focus on making the most of this year’s lamb crop. Pastures are high quality with the clover coming away, but the low covers have affected ewe lactation performance and lamb growth. With this in mind we decided to try weaning an early lambing mob of 300 cull ewes at around 70 days, with the lambs heading off to new grass on our equity partners’ property just down the road. The process has been successful, with both the ewes and lambs now doing well, and me feeling much better having made some decisions and taken positive action. . .

Hawkes Bay deer farm part of national project involving more than 2000 farms :

A Hawke’s Bay deer farm is part of a ground-breaking Ministry for Primary Industries-funded project providing a national snapshot of farm performance.

The four-year project is bringing together detailed physical/production, environmental and financial data from more than 2,000 farms across the dairy, beef and lamb, deer, arable and horticulture sectors.

“The significance of this project cannot be underestimated. It is the first time such robust data has been collected and analysed,” said Matthew Newman, who’s leading the project for MPI.

“Having quality farm data will enable better decision-making by farmers and growers, industry organisations and policy makers.” . . 

Sam Bain announced as 2021  Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year :

Congratulations to Sam Bain from Villa Maria, Hawke’s Bay who became the 2021 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year on 27th January 2022.

“I’ve finally got it!” he said with a mix of relief, pride and excitement, as it started sinking in that all his hard work had paid off.

Congratulations also to Jess Wilson from Whitehaven Wines in Marlborough who came second and Courtney Sang from Obsidian, Waiheke Island who came third.

The other contestants were Albie Feary from Ata Rangi, Tristan van Schalkwyk from The Boneline and Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

29/01/2022

Urgent action needed to stop carbon farming rort – William Beetham:

Federated Farmers is calling on the government to live up to its pledge and review the Overseas Investment Act ‘special forestry test’ and be fair to sheep and beef farmers

We understand that Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor have been lobbying for this fair and sensible step but Cabinet is dithering, and this is profoundly impacting our rural communities.

It’s well past time for action.  This is hurting rural people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

There are multiple factors driving the alarming and accelerating trend of productive sheep and beef farmland being sold for pine tree carbon farming, and a multitude of changes government must make to restore balance to land use policy. Sorting the special forestry test is straight-forward. . . 

Omicron outbreak may leave rural hospitals precarious staffing  levels – Rowan Quinn :

Rural communities could be left without local medical services for a time when Omicron hits.

Staffing is precarious in many small towns – and doctors, nurses or key administration workers will have to stop working if they get the virus.

Hospitals have predicted 30 percent of their staff could be off with Omicron at the height of the outbreak.

Rural doctor Jeremy Webber said it was hard to gauge the impact that would have on very small hospitals, which tended not to have staff to spare. . .

Horticulture, meat processors push for private RAT orders to protect supply chains – Maja Burry:

The horticulture and meat processing industries are among those advocating for the government to allow the private importation of rapid antigen tests, saying they’re worried Covid-19 testing capacity could impact on staffing.

The industry group Horticulture New Zealand said if Covid-19 testing capacity slowed that would impact monitoring – as well as return to work decisions – at a time when the sector needed as many hands on deck as possible.

Chief executive Nadine Tunley said it was imperative there was a focus on maximising the number of people available, to keep the supply chain operating during the Omicron response.

“We have strenuously pointed out to the government that our industry cannot withstand any further labour shortages as growers will be faced with having to leave vegetables in the ground and fruit on trees.” . . 

The taonga on fire: 40 days at Kaimaumau – Matthew Scott:

The fire at overlooked natural treasure Kaimaumau wetland began before Christmas, and it’s still ablaze

It’s been burning for more than 40 days and 40 nights.

Despite summer rains and being largely left behind by the media cycle, the fire in the Kaimaumau wetland in the Far North rages on.

The burning area is 2800ha, with a perimeter of 38km as of Day 41 – larger than Rangitoto Island. “On a national scale, that’s probably one of New Zealand’s biggest fires,” said incident controller Wayne Martin. . .

Robo tractor could revolutionise viticulture :

A driverless tractor able to perform up to three tasks at once is on the cards for New Zealand orchards.

The Government is contributing $622,360 through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to develop a prototype tractor, which is set to transform the productivity of trellised orchards while reducing carbon emissions. The Smart Machine Company Limited is taking the lead on the three-year project, and is contributing a further $945,520.

“The tractor will be able to perform several tasks, including canopy spraying, mulching, mowing, trimming, and leaf defoliation,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

“As well as lowering carbon emissions, we could expect to see reduced spray drift, and improved soil and tree health. . .

Canterbury teen wins beekeeping scholarship :

Canterbury-based Alyssa Wilson (17) is the 2021 recipient of Apiculture New Zealand Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in beekeeping.

Alyssa topped a strong field of candidates to win the scholarship, which includes $2000 to support training and set-up costs for new beekeepers, a one-year membership with industry body Apiculture New Zealand and attendance at Apiculture New Zealand’s industry conference to be held in June 2022.

The scholarship was set up to help young people into a career in beekeeping and the judges identified Alyssa as showing great potential. “She’s clearly not afraid to get stuck in and learn as much as she can. With a strong work ethic and a real interest in bees, she is going to be an asset to our industry,” says judge Neil Mossop.

Alyssa says she was “pretty chuffed” to win and is planning to use the scholarship to help fund her involvement in the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Apiculture scheme run through Primary ITO in partnership with Apiculture New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

26/01/2022

The carbon price marches on – Keith Woodford:

NZU investors are now driving the price of carbon as they play the market

As I write this in late January 2022, the carbon price in the open market is $75, with this measured per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). That is an increase of just over 10 percent since the last auction of units by the Government less than two months ago in December 2021. It is also 95 percent higher than the price of carbon this time last year.

The most recent 10 percent increase may not sound much. But the fact that the market price has now breached $70 is significant. It means that there is a developing consensus among players in the carbon market that, at the next auction on 16 March, the Government’s seven million NZU cost-containment reserve for all of 2022 will be exhausted.

If the reserve is exhausted in March, it is likely to be onwards and upwards from there for the carbon price, with three further auctions in 2022 unconstrained by any cost-containment reserve. . .

Economic boost of almost $14bn comes from lift in Fonterra milk payment – Point of Order:

While  most   of  the  economy  is  struggling  with the  impact  of the Covid pandemic, the dairy industry  is  riding  a  prosperity  wave.

In the  wake  of  high prices recorded at  last week’s Global  Auction,  the  big  co-op Fonterra has lifted its forecast milk payment to farmers for this season to a new record level  between $8.90 and $9.50kg/MS.. That’s up from its forecast in early December of between $8.40 an d $9kg/MS..

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, increased to $9.20kg/MS from $8.70, the highest level since Fonterra was formed in 2001. The co-op paid farmers $7.54kg/MS last season, and its previous record was $8.40kg/MS in the 2013/14 season.

Global dairy prices hit an eight-year-high at auction last week, as tight milk supply has strengthened  demand for New Zealand’s most  significant export commodity. Prices have been supported this season by weaker milk production in this  country   because  of poor weather and higher feed costs. . . 

Alliance launches premium Wagyu beef offer for farmers :

Alliance has launched a premium Wagyu beef offer to farmers in a bid to increase value and meet consumer demand in its international markets.

The red meat cooperative is partnering with Southern Stations Wagyu who will provide the genetics from its Australian based Red Wagyu bulls to farmers here.

Farmers can sign a supply contract for cattle with a minimum of 50 percent red or black wagyu genetics.

Red wagyu and black wagyu are different breeds of Japanese cattle, both known for their high intramuscular fat content and marbling ability. . . 

A2 Milk share price surges on back of speculation of takeover by Canadian dairy giant – Gyles Beckford:

Rumours that the embattled specialty dairy company A2 Milk is being eyed as a possible takeover target is being credited with driving its shareprice more than 7 percent higher.

The Australian newspaper has linked A2 Milk to the Canadian dairy giant Saputo, which is reported to be close to making a big acquisition.

A2 has been [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/454339/a2-milk-changing-growth-strategy-after-china-infant-formula-market-forces-adaptions touted as a possible takeover target over the past year as it struggled to restore its earnings, profits and share price in the face of disrupted sales channels, excess stock and a slide in sales of infant formula in the key Chinese market.

A2 declined comment on the speculation. . . 

Traffic stopping sunflower field in Tararua a sight to behold – George Heagney:

A field blooming with thousands of sunflowers, intended to subdue speeding motorists, appears to be having the desired effect.

The striking sight even has travellers pulling off the country road to pose and take photos with the radiant backdrop.

Abbe​ Hoare planted 47,000 sunflower seeds in a half-hectare block near the roadside of her farm at Mangamaire, south of Pahīatua.

The sunflowers started flowering about 10 days ago and now the field is filled with bright yellow heads all facing east, which are expected to last until the end of February. . . 

World’s first CRISPR-edited sugarcane developed in Brazil – Daniel Azevedo:

Scientists from Embrapa Agroenergia in Brazil have developed the first sugarcane varieties edited using CRISPR gene editing technology. The edited sugarcane varieties are called Cana Flex I and Cana Flex II. The respective distinctive features are easier cell wall digestibility and higher sucrose concentration in plant tissues.

The edited plants are considered non-transgenic, or DNA-Free, according to Normative Resolution No. 16 (RN No. 16) of the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio), issued on 12/9/2021. Both developments used the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), a “Nobel prized” and revolutionary gene manipulation technique discovered in 2012.

They respond to one of the biggest scientific challenges in the sugarcane sector: easy enzyme’s access into sugars trapped in cells, which facilitates ethanol production (first and second generation), and better extraction of other bioproducts.

In the case of Cana Flex I, the CRISPR technique silenced the gene responsible for the rigidity of the plant cell wall, in order to increase its “digestibility”. This means the enzymatic hydrolysis process – a chemical process that extracts compounds from plant biomass – is more efficient. . .


Rural round-up

06/12/2021

Wool price making a comeback as overseas demand for product rises :

Higher demand for sportswear, rugs and other wool products has resulted in a resurgence in wool prices.

Prices across all wool types lifted in the year to October, Beef and Lamb’s latest wool export data shows.

Merino was up 28.4 percent to just over $18,000 a tonne and strong wool, which has been struggling with depressed prices, rose 12.1 percent.

PGG Wrightson general manager of wool Grant Edwards said prices are lifting due to higher demand. . . 

Commercial beekeeper numbers drop amid low prices – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest apiculture monitoring report showed the number of beekeepers with 500 or more hives fell by 9.9 percent to 316 oin the 2020/21 season.

This follows a 7.6 percent drop the previous season.

The total number of registered hives in New Zealand also fell over the last two years to 806,000.

Prior to this the commercial honey industry had been experiencing growth, with a jump in the popularity and price of manuka honey driving a boom in production. . .

NZ agriculture is starting to see value in celebrating its provenance – Tina Morrison:

Much of New Zealand’s agricultural produce is sold as unbranded commodities on global markets. But that’s starting to change as companies discover there is value in heralding their Kiwi provenance.

“New Zealand has got a really strong story and that’s something that we haven’t really told in the past,” says Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing programme director Dr Nic Lees. “We are making progress. I think we have started on that journey.”

Fonterra, the country’s largest dairy company, has been vocal about its shift in focus under new chief executive Miles Hurrell. Where his predecessor Theo Spierings envisaged the co-operative becoming another big global conglomerate like Danone or Nestle, Hurrell has sold off overseas assets and pulled back to New Zealand to focus on getting more value from the “white gold” produced by local farmers.

Hurrell says Fonterra is only now amplifying the New Zealand provenance message it always knew it had as demand has increased across its global markets to know more about the origin and purity of food. . . 

MLA becomes major supporter of award benefitting Australasian agriculture:

In an exciting development for future leaders in agriculture, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) have announced their partnership with Australasian agricultural badge of honour, the Zanda McDonald Award.

The Award, which recognises talented young individuals from Australia and New Zealand who want to make a difference in agriculture, helps take people’s careers to the next level for the betterment of the industry on both sides of the Tasman.

This is delivered through an impressive personal development plan for the finalists on both sides of the Tasman, and a ‘money can’t buy’ prize package for the winners. This prize includes media training, further education, and a tailored mentoring program across both countries, where they spend time up close and personal with some of the biggest leaders and influencers in the sector. . . 

Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers announced for 2021:

The New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

From making strides in wine governance to adding sparkle to the wine industry, the 2021 NZW Fellows are a group of highly respected and influential individuals who have helped to shape the success of New Zealand wine today.

We are pleased to announce the NZW Fellows for 2021: Steve Smith MW for service to NZW, Wine Institute of New Zealand, and other initiatives, John Clarke for service to NZW and New Zealand Grape Grower’s Council (NZGGC), Andy Frost for service to national research, Rudi Bauer for service to New Zealand Pinot Noir, and Daniel and Adele Le Brun for service to New Zealand bottle fermented sparkling wine. . . 

Eating less meat no climate solution – Shan Goodwin:

AUSTRALIAN-SPECIFIC research is showing the climate benefits of reducing red meat consumption below amounts recommended in dietary guidelines is small and could create negative environmental trade-offs such as higher water scarcity.

The industry’s big service provider Meat & Livestock Australia has released a fascinating report on the topic, which draws extensively from research conducted by CSIRO and other institutions.

Against a backdrop of increasing calls for affluent societies to significantly cut red meat consumption in the name of the environment, the work shows getting Australians to eat less beef is not an effective climate solution.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 65 grams of lean, cooked, unprocessed red meat a day.

The MLA report, called The Environmental Impact of Red Meat in a Healthy Diet, points out that Australian lamb production is in fact climate neutral already. Further, the water and cropland scarcity footprints of Australian beef and lamb are low. . . 


Rural round-up

27/11/2021

Close call highlights necessity for on-farm covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

A sharemilking couple whose staff member become a close covid-19 contact are backing calls for farmers to create a plan in case they get a positive case in their bubble.

That checklist needs to be a living, moving document because of the variables that can occur during a close contact or covid positive situation on a farm when there are the needs of staff and animals to be taken into consideration.

The employee, Sarah*, became a close contact after they visited a family member while observing distance protocols.

One of the members of that household tested positive after they had met, which made that worker a close contact. . . 

‘Tomorrow’s too late’ – Borders open not fast enough for labour shortage :

Rural contractors struggling with a labour shortage are relieved the borders opening next year, but say they need workers sooner.

The government yesterday announced fully vaccinated foreign nationals would be allowed into the country from 30 April 2022, without needing to go through managed isolation.

Rural Contractors New Zealand chief executive Andrew Olsen said the border announcement was amazing news, but it had come too late for this summer’s harvest.

Andrew Olsen said the sector urgently needed 200 workers, but efforts to bring in skilled overseas workers through the MIQ system had proved extremely challenging. . . 

Wānaka A&P show to go ahead :

One of the South Island’s biggest agricultural shows will go ahead next year, bucking the trend of widespread cancellations of A&P shows around the country.

Organisers of the Wanaka A&P show have confirmed to RNZ that the show will return in March, despite a spate of show cancellations across the country in the past six months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Gore was the latest show to be cancelled earlier this week, following the cancellation of the national A&P show in Canterbury at the beginning of November.

Wānaka event manager Jane Stalker said the show is a community event and a highlight on the town’s calendar. . . 

Share concentration risk allayed – Hugh Stringleman:

The risk of ownership concentration in Fonterra arising from proposed changes in the share standard will not adversely affect the co-operative, according to investment bankers and corporate advisors Northington Partners.

The firm was commissioned by Fonterra Co-operative Council to assess the proposed capital restructure, which includes much smaller minimum shareholding requirement and much larger permitted excess share ownership.

Within what Fonterra now calls the new flexible shareholding the historical one-for-one share-backed supply rule would be considerably changed.

The minimum requirement would be one share for three kilograms of milksolids and farmers would be permitted to own shares up to four times their annual milksolids production. . . 

Delving into diversification – Ben Speedy:

The future of farming is reliant on good people making good decisions – successfully managing risk today to ensure the farm is fit for tomorrow. We know from conversations with our customers those decisions weigh heavily on the minds of farmers.

Recent Kantar research conducted by ASB Rural told us 57% of farmers surveyed have succession planning on their minds. We know that for some owners of inter-generational businesses there can be added pressure when it comes to the business succeeding both today and into the future; it’s appeared to work up until this point so there is an expectation that it must continue to be successful.

Owning and running a business has never been easy, but inter-generational business owners often carry an extra burden with extra considerations, and at ASB Rural we work with our customers to support them as they make these decisions. . .

Don Agro International achieves 8.9 thousand tonnes growth in crops harvested :

Don Agro International Limited (the “Company” or “Don Agro”) and its subsidiaries (collectively the “Group”), one of the largest agricultural companies based in the Rostov region of Russia is pleased to announce that it has achieved a 8.9 thousand tonne growth in total crops harvested, with 72.3 thousand tonnes of winter wheat and 19.0 thousand tonnes of sunflower harvested till date.

A key driving force which has enabled Don Agro to sustain this growth has been the expansion of the Group’s totalled controlled land bank via new strategic acquisitions.

Following its initial public offering in February 2020, the Group made its maiden post-listing acquisition at the end of 2020 of Volgo-Agro LLC, an agricultural company based in the Volgograd region of Russia operating a controlled land bank of approximately 10,040 hectares. Subsequently in July 2021, the Group acquired a neighbouring agribusiness, Rav Agro Rost LLC (“Rav Agro Rost”), located in the Millerovo District, Rostov Region of Russia. With an arable land bank of approximately 3,200 hectares, Rav Agro Rost alone contributed up to 3.1 thousand tonnes of winter wheat and 1.54 thousand tonnes of sunflower. . . 


Rural round-up

26/11/2021

Carbon farming – farmer’s poem for the Prime Minister – Graeme Williams:

East Coast farmer and bush poet Graeme Williams is back with another poem for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Today he wants to take the Government to task over carbon farming and shares his poem, written at 2 o’clock this morning – his “least angry period of the day”.

Dear Aunty Jacinda,
From you we have not heard.
I’ve written to you twice before
And this will be my third.

I’m really, really annoyed
And I think it’s only fair,
That the reason for the annoyance
With the country, I should share.

Carbon farming will ruin us all.
Of that, I have no doubt.
I am acutely aware of the issues
And wish to share my views about. . . 

Alliance Group financial performance lifts – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s improved financial performance is a ‘‘favourable result’’ after another challenging year, chairman Murray Taggart says.

The co-operative yesterday announced an operating profit of $41.9million before tax and distributions for the year ending September 30, up from $27.3million last year.

Last year’s result was heavily impacted by a $19.9million provision for back-paying employees for donning and doffing. This year’s result included an allowance of just over $2million for that.

Revenue of $1.8billion was on a par with last year and a profit distribution of $8.5million would be made to farmer shareholders, in addition to $16.7million in loyalty payments already paid over the course of the year. . .

Fish & Game supports calls for forestry refocus :

Fish & Game NZ is supporting calls for an urgent rethink on the rapid proliferation of exotic forests currently being supported by central government, and instead refocus on native plantings for better long-term environmental and social outcomes.

The Native Forest Coalition – comprising the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Road Donald Trust, the Tindall Foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmon and Dr Adam Forbes – recently released a statement urging a shift away from “short-term thinking and siloed government policy” in tackling climate change.

Central to the Native Forest Coalition’s concerns is current policy favouring carbon sequestering in exotic pine plantations over native forests, which is being driven by high carbon prices. This is having a myriad of adverse impacts.

“While Fish & Game is behind initiatives to address the climate crisis, the current short-sighted focus on securing offshore carbon credits ignores significant long-term environmental and social problems,” says Fish & Game spokesman Ray Grubb. . . 

Lake Ohau narrative goes up in smoke – David Williams:

On closer inspection, luck played a bigger part in no one losing their life in last year’s Lake Ōhau Alpine Village fire. David Williams reports

It was the country’s most damaging wildfire in living memory.

The early-morning conflagration in October last year destroyed most of the houses in the Mackenzie Basin’s Lake Ōhau Alpine Village, burning through more than 5000 hectares, including conservation land.

The costs were eye-watering. Fighting the fire from the air alone cost more than $1.2 million, while insurance losses totalled about $35 million. . . 

The wizard of woolsheds for 41 years – Alice Scott:

If your woolshed has been built by Calder Stewart in the past 41 years, chances are Dave Mathieson probably built it.

Mr Mathieson (61) started out with Calder Stewart at the age of 20 and, apart from a short stint working on commercial builds in the late ’80s, he has enjoyed a career as a foreman specialising in woolshed builds.

Being based in Milton, Mr Mathieson and his crew will travel up to an hour and-a-half for work and in his early years he would often stay away.

“I probably stay away for one job a year, but I’d like to think I am mostly done with that now. After all these years, I am allowed to make that demand,” he laughed. . . 

Unvaccinated shearers continue to work – Annabelle Cleeland:

Unvaccinated shearers are continuing to work, despite Victoria’s sweeping effort to compel most agricultural workers to receive two doses of the coronavirus vaccine before Friday.

Victorian shearing contractors have complained to Shearers Contractors’ Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford about unvaccinated shearers and shed staff continuing work in a “concerning cash economy”.

“I thought the way it would roll would be that unvaccinated shearers would find work in NSW, but the concern I have is they have stayed and they are finding enough work in Victoria,” Mr Letchford said.

“We have tried the positive approach with these people who are resistant to being vaccinated. . . 


Rural round-up

09/11/2021

Signing of the methane pledge is irresponsible :

“Minister James Shaw’s signing the methane pledge is irresponsible and weak”, says FARM Chairman, Robin Grieve.

“There was absolutely no need for New Zealand to join this jamboree because we don’t have high fossil sourced methane emissions, we don’t have lots of leaky pipes and inefficient processes. What we do have is biogenic methane mostly from our ruminant livestock and this is quite different to fossil sourced methane. It is an amateurish mistake to conflate the two”.

“Industrial nations with high fossil sourced methane emissions have pledged to fix leaky pipes and improve processes to reduce fossil sourced methane by 30%. This pledge makes sense for them because leaky pipes should be fixed in any case and it is an easy and economical fix which will have environmental benefits”. . . 

Act now to meet climate’s growing unpredictability, farmers warned :

Farmers and growers are being told they need to adapt to growing food under increasingly dry conditions.

Three National Science Challenges, Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, Our Land and Water, and The Deep South Challenge held three webinars and a symposium recently to kick-start a research based conversation about climate change adaptation in the food and fibre sector.

A report summarising those talks, Growing Kai Under Increasing Dry, shows farmers need to begin to adapt now.

The report calls for regional councils to undertake clear planning for likely future climate scenarios in their regions, and to engage with farmers and growers to develop a shared understanding of the scenarios’ implications for the primary sector. . . 

How many cows need to go?

“The Government needs to answer how it’s going to meet its pledge to cut biogenic methane emissions,” says ACT’s Primary Production spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“The Government has pledged to cut biogenic methane by 10 per cent on 2017 levels by 2030, and by between 24 to 47 percent lower by 2050.

“According to James Shaw this does not require any new initiatives due to pre-existing Zero Carbon Act commitments, but there are still a range of questions to be asked.

“How are they planning to do this? Is it herd reductions or is it through new technologies? When will the Government bring farmers into this conversation? It’s their livelihoods at stake. . . 

Dairy prices up 3.7 percent as commodity prices reach record high :

Commodity prices have shot to a new record, with dairy, aluminium and meat fetching strong prices.

The ANZ World Commodity Price Index lifted 2.1 percent last month.

The report says freight prices are stabilising, although costs remain elevated, with persistent supply chain disruptions.

It said rising freight costs were inflationary, and expected to drive up New Zealand’s consumer price index to a peak of just under 6 percent by year’s end. . . 

New Zealand apple industry appoints new chief executive:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) today announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive, Terry Meikle.

Mr Meikle joins NZAPI with an impressive track record of strategic management and international trade relations, having led NZ agriculture and horticulture interests across the Americas including roles as Agriculture Counsellor at the NZ Embassy in Mexico City, Regional Manager North America for Beef and Lamb NZ and as First Secretary Agriculture and Trade for the New Zealand Embassy based in Washington.

“My networking, advocacy and leadership experience has been in both the public sector and through representing a levy funded organisation. These collaborative leadership roles have involved close partnership and engagement with a variety of public and private sector stakeholders,” says Mr Meikle. . .

 

Grape fungicide approved for use :

A new fungicide which controls bunch rot and powdery mildew in grapes has been approved for use in New Zealand, subject to conditions.

Kenja contains the active ingredient isofetamid, which is new to New Zealand but already approved for use in Australia, Europe, the USA, Canada, and Japan.

The applicant, ISK New Zealand, sought approval to import Kenja as a concentrate to be applied to grapes using ground-based methods.

During the application process, ISK submitted that its product helps to combat fungicide resistance, and is less toxic than other fungicides. It noted that Kenja doesn’t carry any human health hazard classifications. . . 


Rural round-up

23/10/2021

No MIQ spots for dairy workers :

The fact that only two dairy workers have made it past the post and into the country instead of the 200 granted border exceptions by the Government is again a reflection of the shambles of our MIQ system,” says National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“Minister O’Connor is blaming COVID’s Delta strain for lack of numbers making it through.

“So I find myself reflecting on what I said last week regarding the lack of 50 MIQ spots for qualified vets who are desperately needed and trying to get into New Zealand. . . 

Nine cent avocados – glut leads to low prices but it’s not so flash for growers – Tom Kitchin:

A glut of avocados this year has led in extraordinarily low prices at the supermarket, despite growers not being able to make any money.

One in particular – PAK’nSAVE in Hastings – was selling the fruit for nine cents each today only, as a one-off special.

Other supermarkets in Hawke’s Bay were selling the fruit for around $1.

The day began with a limit of 10 per day, changing to six later on as demand rose. . .

DCANZ welcomes high quality UK – NZ FTA dairy outcomes :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the agreement in-principle of the United Kingdom – New Zealand free trade agreement (FTA).

“Reaching a point of complete elimination of all dairy tariffs five-years after entry-into-force will make this a high-quality FTA” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. “This is the ambition we expect for an FTA with a developed OECD economy, and the UK has now set the bar”.

The agreement will also provide new trade opportunities for New Zealand dairy exporters from day one. All dairy products except butter and cheese reach the point of duty free trade over three years. For butter and cheese, DCANZ is pleased to see the agreement include transitional quotas which will provide for some duty-free trade during the 5-year tariff elimination period. New Zealand cheese exporters will have access to a tariff free quota which starts at 24,000 tonnes and grows to 48,000 tonnes over the five-year period. For butter, a duty-free quota with a starting volume of 7,000 tonnes grows to 15,000 tonnes over the 5-year period. . .

NZ’s onion growers and exporters applaud in principle agreement of the UK-NZ free trade agreement:

New Zealand’s onion growers and exporters are welcoming the in-principle agreement of the UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA), saying that it will ensure that this country’s onion exports continue to grow as the world comes to terms with Covid.

‘Trade and exporting benefits a diverse range of New Zealand businesses. Without clear trading arrangements, improved market access and reduced tariffs, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like the United Kingdom,’ says Onions NZ Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘Of immediate benefit to the onion sector is the expectation of tariffs being eliminated on onions, once the agreement comes into force. . .

“After 18 months in a pandemic, the Government announced yesterday it will finally allocate 300 priority spaces a month for healthcare workers from November 1. . . 

Free trade deal will be a welcome boost for the NZ honey industry :

Apiculture New Zealand welcomes the move by the New Zealand and UK governments to a free trade agreement in principle which will see the removal of tariffs on all New Zealand honey into the United Kingdom.

“The free trade deal will be a great outcome for our industry and will improve our competitiveness in one of our largest export markets,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture New Zealand.

The United Kingdom consistently ranks as one of top three export markets for New Zealand honey and is worth $70 million annually. . . 

NZ wine industry welcomes UK FTA announcement:

New Zealand Winegrowers is pleased with today’s announcement of an Agreement in Principle for a future New Zealand UK Free Trade Agreement.

“The agreement is very positive for the New Zealand wine industry. We understand the agreement will mean significant progress for wine, including a specific wine annex. This will help remove technical barriers to trade and minimise burdens from certification and labelling requirements,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“The UK is New Zealand’s second largest export market for wine, with exports valued at over $400 million over the past 12 months. The agreement will reduce trade barriers and remove tariffs on New Zealand wine exports to the UK, which will make a big difference for many within our industry.” . . 

Beef research project reduces deed costs considerably:

Annual feed bills across the UK beef industry could be reduced by up to £12.5m due to the development of new selection index tool that allow animals to be selected for feed efficiency.

The tool, which was developed by the Beef Feed Efficiency Programme, will also enable the rate of reduction of beef-related greenhouse gas emissions to be accelerated by 27% over a 20-year period.

The programme, established by the AHDB, Defra, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the Scottish government and ABP, studied Limousin and Angus store cattle to identify animals and sire groups that eat less than others but achieve the same growth rate. . .

 


Rural round-up

04/10/2021

Shearer aiming to take jeans product to world stage – Sally Rae:

Could Woolies Jeans be the next Allbirds? Jovian Cummins certainly hopes so.

The young New Zealand entrepreneur, at present shearing in Western Australia, is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on the platform PledgeMe on Monday.

He hopes to raise up to $500,000 to help him patent the designs for the merino-lined jeans for workwear and help build a supply chain.

The genesis for the business came in a woolshed in 2018 when the then 22-year-old decided he was “fed up” with the hot and sweaty jeans he was wearing, he said. . .

The future of farming: What will NZ’s agri sector look like in 20 years? – Catherine Harris:

One thing you can be certain about in the agricultural sector iis that it’s always changing. Adaption is a constant for farmers, as sure as the weather.

But the challenges farming is currently facing are some of the greatest the sector’s ever had: climate change, environmental constraints, labour shortages and shipping issues.

Which raises a question: will these be the same challenges farming is facing in 10 or 20 years?

The Government has already been contemplating this question. Last June, the Ministry for Primary Industries put out “Fit for a better world,” a game plan to accelerate farming’s potential. . . 

Biosecurity finalists protecting every corner of New Zealand:

The 2021 Biosecurity Awards finalists named today show the huge effort under way to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.

The 24 finalists named out of a record number of 90 entries include an iwi partnering with local and central government to eradicate wilding pines from their local taonga, Ruawāhia/Mount Tarawera, and a school on Stewart Island/Rakiura whose efforts are keeping Ulva Island pest free.

Biosecurity efforts have even expanded into space, with Xerra Earth Observation Institute’s leading-edge software which is helping protect Aotearoa from pests via international shipping.

Judging panel chairman Dr Ed Massey says the finalists represent a diverse range of individuals, teams, businesses, government agencies, research organisations, iwi, schools and community groups. . . 

Migrant groups are urgently call ing on the government to include Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers:

The government announced a one-off pathway to residency for several temporary work visas however are excluding a large group of migrants. Migrant groups are urgently calling on the Government to include Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers in the new immigration policy, before it is released. RSEs contribute significantly to Aotearoa’s economy and wellbeing through the work that they have been employed to do.

Most of the RSE workers have been in Aotearoa for at least five consecutive years since the scheme began in 2007. They have boosted the economic growth and productivity levels in the horticulture and viticulture industries. In 2007, New Zealand’s annual export earnings prior to the scheme were $2.6 billion dollars. In 2020, the earnings from the horticulture and viticulture industry were $9.2 billion dollars. The RSE workers were significant contributors to this growth.

The RSE scheme contributes an estimated $34-40 million NZD into the Pacific through remittances and in the period of the pandemic, this is critical to the livelihoods of households across the Pacific region. Aotearoa’s commitment to the Pacific relationship needs to be shown through its support of the RSE workers. . . 

The history of DWN:

Did you know that Dairy Women’s Network began as an email group?

Our story starts when Hilary Webber became a director of the New Zealand Dairy Group and saw women working at the ‘coalface’ of dairy. They were the ones carrying buckets, rearing calves, doing the accounts, raising their families, and supporting their rural communities. But in the boardrooms of dairy companies, the women were almost invisible.

Hilary wasn’t the only one to feel this way and do something about it. Joined by Christina Baldwin, Robyn Clements and dairy farmer Willy Geck, they got funding from Wrightson’s to send Hillary to Washington, where she attended the 1998 International Women in Agriculture Conference along with Willy and the wife of the NZ diplomat to the US. It was at the conference that they heard women described as the ‘silent heroes of agriculture’, which reinforced the need for DWN.

The conference revealed four key things: . . 

Silver Fern Farms to halve  coal use :

Silver Fern Farms welcomes $1 million co-funding from the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund for a $2.6 million coal-out project at its Pareora processing site, south of Timaru, as a significant boost to achieve the company’s commitment to end all coal use by 2030.

The Pareora heat-pump conversion project is the company’s third successful project under the GIDI fund and represents another important step in Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to playing a leadership role in driving sustainability in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive, Simon Limmer, said Silver Fern Farms was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s value chain.

“The work we are doing to reduce the environmental impact of our processing operations is just one of the ways we’re making sure we do the right thing by our customers, who increasingly want to know that their red meat is sustainably produced. . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2021

Fear forestry conversions impacting farming communities – Shawn McAvinue:

A Swiss company has been given consent to buy a nearly 500ha farm in South Otago for forestry conversion.

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of the farm in Hillend, about 20km north of Balclutha, to 100% Switzerland-owned company Corisol New Zealand Ltd.

Corisol paid the vendors — Alistair Lovett, Mark Tavendale and A R Lovett Trustees — $4.8million for the farm, which in the consent was described as a breeding and finishing unit.

The consent states Corisol intends to subdivide and sell about 71ha of land and its dwellings and covert about 400ha to commercial forestry. . . 

Charity funding rural counselling – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is something of a misnomer to think because farmers are used to isolation, that things such as lockdowns do not affect them the same as other people.

“I think this would be particularly true of South Island farmers,” Will to Live founder Elle Perriam said.

Her mental health charity has just launched the RuralChange initiative to fund counselling sessions for rural people of all ages.

Ms Perriam did a Young Farmers online event recently with well-known farming personalities Tangaroa Walker (Farm4Life) and Kane Briscoe (FarmFitNZ). . . 

 

The schemes and drams over reducing cow methane – The Detail:

Millions of dollars is being spent on getting cows and sheep to produce less gas.

The projects in train range from genetics experiments, using seaweed in burp-free feed, and toilet-training cows. Some of it sounds ridiculous – but the animals produce methane, and New Zealand must do something urgently on reducing the amounts our agricultural industry is contributing to global warming.

Farmers argue that the country’s sheep and cows are the lowest methane emitters in the world but nearly half our total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.

These schemes are aimed at doing enough to get farms to our targets – by 2030 biogenic methane emissions should be cut by 10 percent on 2017 levels. By 2050 the goal is for methane emissions to be 24 to 47 percent lower than they were in 2017. . . 

Technology behind Covid wastewater testing helping farmers identify disease in herd :

A new test detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater.

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd, a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

Johne’s disease is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss. . . 

Synlait Milk reports ‘largest ever’ loss of $28.5m :

South Island dairy company Synlait Milk has posted its forecast loss as it was hit by disruptions for its major customer, but predicted a return to “robust” profitability this year.

Key financial highlights

(compared to previous financial year)

  • Net loss $28.5m vs profit $74.3m
  • Revenue $1.37bn vs $1.30bn
  • Full year payout $7.82 vs $7.30
  • Forecast 2022 payout $8.00/kilo of milk solids

Synlait’s loss was at the top end of its forecast range of $20m-$30m as it bore the cost of sharp fall in orders for infant formula from its major customer A2 Milk.

Huge boost for local growers as Genoese Pesto moves to source all basil in NZ:

New Zealand’s number one pesto retail brand has moved to source all its basil onshore, exponentially increasing the basil-growing industry and helping sustain it through the challenge of COVID-19 Lockdowns as well as boosting the local economy.

Genoese Pesto, based in Horowhenua, had until recently obtained all the fresh basil that went into their award-winning products from Fiji, having anywhere from a few hundred kilograms to a tonne per week flown in.

However, issues around supply continuity, freight costs, biosecurity, and a concern for the environmental impact of the air miles involved led Genoese to find a New Zealand grower, securing a contract with Southern Fresh Foods in Cambridge, Waikato.

Genoese Pesto co-owner Andrew Parkin says they had been maxing out the volume of supply from the farm the business owned in Fiji, and when the first COVID-19 lockdowns occurred, they knew they needed to look for the security of supply here in New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

12/09/2021

DOC shouldn’t get another crack at a failed project :

The Department of Conservation should the pull the pin on a failed Mackenzie Basin project and return the unspent money to Treasury, National’s Conservation spokesperson, and MP for Waitaki, Jacqui Dean says.

“The Tū Te Rakiwhānoa Drylands project was allocated $2.3 million dollars in the 2018 Budget. $1.4 million of that has already been spent and yet the project has now gone back to the ‘design’ phase with a new business case being put together.

“It’s appalling that three years in and more than a million dollars down the drain the project scope and timeframes for completion are not known and are not expected to be known until June 2022. . . .

Rural New Zealand rejecting more regulation from Labour:

More than 13,000 New Zealanders have told the Government to stop raining regulations on our rural communities, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“National launched a petition to call on Labour to give rural New Zealand a break and to drop their latest regulatory burden in the form of the Water Services Bill, which would expose rural water schemes to unnecessary and onerous compliance,” Ms Kuriger says.

“In just a short space of time more than 13,000 people and counting have signed the petition – sending a clear message to Labour to ease the burden on our rural communities.”

“Our petition calls on Labour, and other parties, to back National’s change to the legislation, which would exempt small water suppliers like farm schemes that supply fewer than 30 endpoint users,” Mr Luxon says. . . 

The right tree in the right place – David Williams:

Pāmu wants to establish 10,000 hectares of new plantation forest by 2030, David Williams writes in this content partnership article

Away from the conflict about forestry – fears of entire farms being planted in trees, and the slow death of rural communities – state-owned farmer Pāmu is quietly making the economics of tree-planting work.

Farming is the core business for Pāmu (which means “to farm” in Māori), the trading name for Landcorp Farming. Forestry has been seen as a sideline. “But it’s bloody not,” Pāmu’s environment manager Gordon Williams says. “It’s actually a production system for the land that should not be pastorally farmed.”

That system is starting to pay off. . . 

Lockdown sees fewer farm dogs being adopted :

A charity that helps rehome retired working dogs says fewer people have been adopting due to the lockdown.

Natalie Smith set up the Retired Working Dogs charity back in 2012 when working at a vet clinic she saw a need for farm dogs to find new homes.

Some are retired as they are older but some are young dogs who did not quite make the cut to work on the farm.

Smith said it was normal for adoptions to drop off in the winter but lockdown had made things worse. . . 

Government staffer receives NZ apple and pear industry award:

For the first time in the award’s eight year history, a government official has been awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry accolade. At the recent pipfruit industry conference hosted by industry organisation NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI), the coveted award was presented to John Randall, a Plant Exports Senior Adviser at Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for his influence and collaboration with industry.

Past recipients have come from diverse areas within or supporting the pipfruit industry including research bodies, industry organisations and member companies. However, this year the honour was given to a person working in government in Wellington.

“Most, if not all previous recipients lived or worked in New Zealand’s growing regions and were familiar to everyone in the apple and pear industry. This year saw someone receive the award who may not be familiar to everyone,” said export industry Market Access Advisory Group (MAAG) member Simon Thursfield. . . 

Max Gogel, Tom Kelly share stories of shearing industry start – Julia Wythes:

SOME people are born to do a certain job, as was the case for shearers Tom Kelly and Max Gogel.

Despite picking up a handpiece for the first time decades apart, their journey to the shearing shed started exactly the same way.

Max Gogel’s time as a professional shearer has only been a few short years but the youngster from Sherlock dreamed of becoming a shearer in childhood.

His father Craig was a shearer, and Max spent his days in the sheds with him. . .


Rural round-up

11/09/2021

No sector agreement on new methane target – David Anderson:

Despite agreement among farm industry bodies that the current methane targets for the sector are excessive, not based on science and need to be changed, there is currently no plan in place to achieve this.

That’s the claim of agricultural consultant Steven Cranston, following a recent meeting of pan sector voices with Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

Cranston says one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, organised by North Otago farmer Jane Smith and held in Wellington last month, was the lack of a coherent strategy to get the methane emissions reduction target reduced (currently 24 to 47% by 2050). . . 

Visa frustrations push Timaru dairy worker towards Australia – Chris Tobin:

Ariel Ocon has been working on South Island dairy farms for 13 years, but visa frustrations have him seriously considering heading to Australia with his family.

“To stay here legally I had to apply for a work to residence visa. They (Immigration NZ) said you will wait for 16 months from the time you applied. I applied in 2019, and I’m still waiting,” Ocon, who works on a farmer near Timaru, said.

“I just received an email from them saying in two months they would allocate a case officer to process my application. I still haven’t got a case officer.”

Ocon’s frustration comes as Australia has provided financial incentives attempting to attract New Zealand immigrant dairy workers to relocate there. Ocon knows other Filipino workers who have already opted to leave. . . 

Animal welfare crisis looms as Minister butchers opportunity :

An animal welfare crisis is looming as Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor fails to pay attention to what’s going on around him, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Last year, during the first Covid lockdown, the Government spent $5.8 million buying 12,000 pig carcasses from overstocked farms and donating them to charity.

“If they hadn’t done this, we would have had an animal welfare problem of significant scale on our hands.

“Now the issue is looming again in this current lockdown and Minister O’Connor is missing in action.

“The Government’s stubborn refusal to allow butcher shops to open during all Covid levels is based on the reasoning that they are riskier than standing in a queue, or shopping at, supermarkets and dairies. . . 

Native trees to be planted on unusable forestry land to protect waterways – Bonnie Flaws:

One of the country’s largest forestry plantation owners, Aratu Forests, has signed a 90-year agreement with eLandNZ to plant native trees on unusable land, creating permanent buffers alongside waterways.

The partnership, brokered by law firm Anderson Lloyd, plans to stop forestry waste, such as logs, from being washed into waterways by planting native trees on otherwise unusable stretches of land across 33,000 hectares of forestry plantation, mostly in the Gisborne region, forestry law specialist Dan Williams​ said.

About 170 ha of riparian land would be planted this year, according to the eLandNZ website. . . 

Avocado exports face headwinds this year – Hugh Stringleman:

Avocado growers have been told to expect substantial falls in orchard gate returns (OGR) for their fruit harvested this spring and summer, mainly because of avocado oversupply in Australia.

The average price per 5.5kg tray across all sizes will be well down on the average OGRs for the past five years of $23 for fruit that was exported.

Last season was particularly good for growers, who received $26/tray and $42,000/ha OGR across slightly more than 4000ha in production, half of which is in Bay of Plenty.

Primor chief executive John Carroll says the new export season began on September 1, with some air freight to Asian markets and the first shipments to Australian supermarkets. Primor is a partner in the joint venture company Avoco, the majority exporter of avocados. .

No waster farm to plate – Rebecca Fox:

After his first visit to Queenstown, chef Ryan Henley said to himself  that is where he would retire to. But he has not had to wait that long, Rebecca Fox discovers.

Ryan Henley has his butcher’s knife out and is about to start cutting up a side of wagyu beef that has just arrived.

It is an unusual sight in a hotel kitchen to see a 400kg side of beef lying there.

But Henley would not have it any other way. His new job as executive chef at QT Queenstown means he can call the shots.

That means following his no-wastage, farm-to-plate ethos and dealing direct with producers, preferably as local as possible. . .

 

Farm alarm as more taxes spent launching another fake meat company – Chris McLennan:

Another big government authority has spent millions of taxpayer money to launch a fake meat company.

This time it is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has spent $5 million to support Sydney-based startup All G Foods through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

All G Foods plans to soon have plant-based and alternative proteins on the shelves of national supermarket chain IGA including mince, sausages, chicken, bacon and animal-free dairy products.

The new company won $16 million in seed funding. . .


Rural round-up

26/08/2021

Why the rush? – Barbara Kuriger:

The pace of regulatory change for rural communities has been relentless under the current government.

It’s the concern I hear most when I move among them around the country and speak with rural advocacy groups.

It’s the reason why Groundswell NZ founders, Otago farmers Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson organised a tractor protest in Gore against the National Policy Statement on Freshwater in November. The group’s overwhelming national support since then led to the Howl of a Protest’ on July 16.

Agricultural, horticultural communities aren’t the types to jump up and down, so when they take to the streets in their thousands, you can bet there’s a reason. . .

Why NZ farmers should hope for positive results from research into the methane effects of lacing stock feed with seaweed – Point of Order:

A warning  bell  sounded  for  New Zealand farmers  when The Economist – in an editorial  last week headed “It  is  not  all  about  the  CO2” – argued  that carbon  dioxide is by far the most important   driver of  climate  change, but methane  matters  too.

The  final  sentence of  the  editorial reads,  ominously:

“Methane  should be  given priority on the  COP26 climate  summit  this  November”.

NZ may  fight  its  corner   vigorously   at the   Glasgow  summit,  but  the   risk is  that  delegates  there   will  seize  on  the  thesis  advanced  by The Economist    that   methane is  a more  powerful  greenhouse  gas  than  carbon   dioxide,  and  decide  to  target  it harshly. . . 

UK releases NZ free trade negotiation details as agreement nears :

The UK government has released more details of how negotiations have been progressing.

Tariffs on exports of honey and apples to the UK would be slashed and wine which faces tariffs of up to 20 pence per bottle would also be expected to be cut.

In return tariffs on British gin, chocolate, clothing and cars we import would be dropped.

Britain trade secretary Liz Truss said teams were working around the clock to get the deal done in the coming weeks.

“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive,” Truss said. . . 

Carbon farmers need to understand the ETS – Keith Woodford:

The price of carbon is determined by Government. There lies the risk for carbon farming. 

Two recent articles of mine have explored the economics of carbon farming on land that is currently farmed for sheep and beef.  Those articles showed that, if financial returns are what matters, then at current carbon prices the development of permanent forests for carbon credits provides significantly higher returns than sheep and beef.

My focus there was on the close to three million hectares of North Island farmed hill country, but a similar situation exists in considerable parts of the South Island. One big exception is the Canterbury Plains, where history shows that shallow soils plus norwest wind storms wreak periodic havoc to forestry operations.

Those findings on the apparent economics of forestry lead to a series of other questions. First, how reliable is this carbon market? Second, what are all the other important things apart from simple economics that need to be considered? . .

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2021:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) has announced the winners of its prestigious 2021 awards. In what has been an exceptionally volatile year for many, the forestry sector remains a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President James Treadwell says the industry is working hard to benefit Aotearoa / New Zealand and New Zealanders, not only with significant returns to GDP but also to offer social benefits including carbon capture, recreation opportunities, clean water, biodiversity and general wellbeing. “We’re fortunate with our high-calibre industry professionals who set the standards for others to aspire to. The NZIF relishes the opportunity to celebrate with ‘the best of the best’ and to proudly champion the recipients of NZIF’s awards.”

This year’s recipient was acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level to high level policy planning and execution and academic leadership.

The NZ Forester of the Year award, which was presented in Wairarapa on Monday night by Minister Nash (Minister of Forestry) went to Paul Millen. . .

Sponsor support continues for Dairy Industry Awards:

Entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) open October 1st with planning well underway and National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm DeLaval have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years. “It’s a significant commitment and we’re rapt to have world leaders in milking equipment and solutions for dairy farmers as part of our national sponsor family.” . .

 


Rural round-up

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


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