Rural round-up

September 23, 2018

Women: “We’re the glue in rural communities” –

Country women are still facing a high level of isolation, the president of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says.

Fiona Gower is a fifth generation New Zealand farmer, her family migrated to New Zealand in 1840. She has worked on farms and in wool sheds around the country.

And as the president of RWNZ she comes from a long line of community advocates.

“My grandmother was one of the founding members of the Rural Women New Zealand group in the early days down in Marton.” . .

Buyers bide their time – Hugh Stringleman:

The next two months will be crucial for the 2018-19 season milk price as buyers work out New Zealand’s dairy production, Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins says.

Fonterra will offer more whole milk powder on the Global Dairy Trade platform where prices have fallen for the past four months and seven out of eight auctions.

As the spring peak looms an NZ milk production to the end of August was 5% or eight million kilograms of milksolids ahead of the corresponding time last season. . .

Potato virus found in New Zealand for first time:

A potato virus which affects potatoes used to make chips has been found for the first time in New Zealand.

The potato mop-top virus, known as PMTV, has been found in tubers from two properties in the Canterbury region.

David Yard of Biosecurity New Zealand, said PMTV was not a food safety issue but, if it became widespread, could cause productivity issues for growers. . .

Experienced dog trial isn’t shares tips

From training dogs as a youngster to having success at a national dog trialling level, Steve Kerr knows a thing or two about getting the best from a working dog.

Earlier this month more than 30 people attended his training day hosted by the Strath Taieri Collie Club at Lindsay Carruther’s Middlemarch property.

It was the first time the training day had been held there and Mr Carruthers said it was great to give people the opportunity not just to watch, but also get involved with their own dogs. . .

The rural wrap from around NZ:

The weekly rural wrap from around the country from RNZ’s Country Life.

Northland‘s kumara growers are finishing off bedding out to produce the plants that will go into the ground at the end of October. Kumara are fetching good prices – between $6 and $11 a kilo depending where you shop. Farms are still quite moist underfoot. However, showers this week will have served to freshen up the grass. Growers and farmers would like 15 millimetres of rain a week – and for the sun to come out. . .

Blow for WA sheep farmers as biggest buyer heads to South Africa – Jenny Brammer:

The live sheep export industry has been dealt a further blow with Australia’s biggest customer, Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading, moving to source a long-term supply of sheep from South Africa.

The company, also called Al Mawashi, issued an announcement to the Kuwait Stock Exchange saying its board had approved the establishment of a new live export subsidiary in South Africa, similar to its Australian subsidiary Rural Export Trading WA.

RETWA owns a large pre-export quarantine property near Peel, and has offices in West Perth. Establishing operations in South Africa would spell the end to Australia’s 40-year exclusivity arrangement of supplying sheep to KLTT, which was buying up to two-thirds of the 1.8 million Australian sheep exported each year. . .

 


M bovis confirmed on 17 farms

January 19, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis has now been confirmed on 17 farms:

Three new properties have been identified as being infected with the Mycoplasma bovis bacterial cattle disease, bringing the total to 17, but the Ministry of Primary Industries still believes eradication is possible.

“Eradication still remains our prefered option. We have containment at the moment of the infected places to prevent further onward spread. Our belief is that the infection hasn’t been in the country for a large number of years and eradication is still firmly on the table,” David Yard, MPI incident controller, told BusinessDesk. “Clearly if it had been established and been silently dormant for 10 years or so, spreading from animal to animal, we would find it on a lot more farms or herds,” he said.

It might not have been here for 10 years but it is possible the disease was in New Zealand before it was first identified last year.

It’s also probable that it has spread further than the 17 farms which have been identified so far.

Mycoplasma bovis was first confirmed in July on two farms in South Canterbury, marking New Zealand’s first official outbreak of a disease that is present in many other countries. While the disease presents no food safety risk, it can cause a range of symptoms in cattle including mastitis that doesn’t respond to treatment, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. There are now nine infected properties in South Canterbury, five in Southland, two in Ashburton and one in Hawkes Bay.

Given it was detected seven months ago, 17 confirmed farms is “not a huge number” when you look at the number of dairy and even beef farms across the country, Yard said. There are about 12,000 dairy herds in New Zealand but some farms will have more than one herd.

According to Yard, a national milk testing programme will help determine whether there are any other pockets of infection in the country. Under the testing regime – slated to start in February – every dairy farm will provide three milk samples, one from bulk milk and two from discarded milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis.

Yard said the results should be ready by the end of March and “if we suddenly found that we have another 10 different pockets then that might change the ball game. We might say eradication is off the table and we are moving to containment or long-term management but that’s a very long bow to draw at the moment,” he said. . . 

But what if beef cattle are infected? They won’t be identified through milk testing.

MPI’s Yard said the ministry is not “chasing the disease as it spreads” but rather the increased number of infected farms is a reflection of MPI’s tracing and testing: “We are actually picking out properties that were probably already infected and we just now know about them.”

However, MPI expects to find more. “We do logically expect that because of the severity of the disease, in some areas, particularly down in the Southland area, further properties because the animals were quite heavily infected and there are have been large number of movements of young susceptible animals,” he said.

In an earlier email Thursday MPI said “we expect that more properties will become positive as our tracing and testing programmes continue to ramp up. From one farm in Ashburton alone, we anticipate tracing some 30 additional properties.” Not all, however, are necessarily infected.

Yard also said MPI is progressing with compensating affected farmers but that there is a process to be followed. He declined to give a dollar figure but said “obviously the cost escalates on a day-to-day basis because every time we serve a notice, those people are entitled to compensation.”

While it is difficult to estimate the final amount “it’s going to be quite a large sum,” he said.

Farmers and sharemilkers with infected herd will have lost at least many 10s of thousands of dollars through the loss of  stock and income.

Confirmation of the disease or concern about the potential for it has stymied the sale of stock for some farmers who rely on it for a considerable amount of their income.

The threat of the disease is causing a lot of stress for anyone with cattle and speculation over its origins isn’t helpful.

Federated Farmers National President Katie Milne says in the current circumstances “patience and a dose of realism” is required.

“Of course there is curiosity among farmers and the media as to how mycoplasma bovis started as it has never been detected before in New Zealand to our knowledge.

“This is a complex disease and there is a significant amount of resources going into testing and surveillance carried out by MPI and the industry.

“Farmers also have a role to play making sure traceability is up to scratch ensuring NAIT tagging and recording of all cattle and deer. We advise also an on-farm disinfecting policy, buffers on boundaries and quarantine of newly introduced stock to their properties.

“This should become part of a new best practice of making your farm a fortress when it comes to biosecurity,” says Katie.

Now that the disease has been identified on so many farms, every farmer with cattle, trucking firms and anyone else working or visiting farms must do everything possible to stop it spreading further.

The disease isn’t harmful to humans and milk and meat from infected animals is safe for consumption. But it compromises production and any ill health in stock also raises welfare issues.


Rural round-up

January 14, 2018

Opuha River ‘flushing’ to control algae, didymo barely noticeable with river in flood, Opuha Ltd says – Elena McPhee:

It may have been barely perceptible to the eye, but releasing water from the Opuha Dam on Friday has hopefully wiped out a large quantity of didymo and other algae in the river, Opuha Water Ltd says.

Operations manager Craig Moore said the dam released a flow peaking about 65 cubic metres per second (cumecs), or 300,000 cubic metres in total during the “flushing” process in the Opuha River on Friday morning.

The river “pulse” stayed within river margins, and the wave was not really noticeable as it made its way downstream, Moore said. . .

Farmers make tracing stock hard -Neal Wallace:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still the Ministry for Primary Industry’s goal but farmers appear unconvinced it is achievable.

Another case confirmed on an Ashburton farm this week took the total to 14 but some of the more than 800 farmers who attended packed meetings with MPI officials in Methven and Ashburton last Thursday think that while admirable, eradication is unlikely and they might have to learn to live with the disease.

The ministry’s response incident controller David Yard announced plans to test three samples of milk from every dairy farm in the country from February, including milk entering the food chain as well as milk excluded from the vat in a bid to uncover any infection clusters. . . 

Lambs wool in demand – Alan Williams:

Lambs’ wool was in short supply and sold strongly at Thursday’s wool sales in Christchurch and Napier.

Buyers pushed up prices as they worked to fill orders, especially for fleece at 30 microns and lower, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

Those wools were up to 8% higher in price with 30 to 32 micron lambs’ wool up to 4% dearer in Christchurch. . . 

Sex on the farm: How gene editing can revolutionize feeding the world – Ed Maixner:

(Editor’s note: Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new ways of farming and producing food. But there are big innovations underway in labs and universities that analysts describe as “revolutionary,” enabling the creation of new plants and animals in months rather than decades. For the next few weeks, Agri-Pulse will explore “The Breeding Edge” – a seven-part series on how these new precision methods for plant and animal breeding are set to transform global food production and the potential impact for agribusinesses, farmers and consumers around the world.)

The process of producing food, protecting the environment, and improving animal health is advancing at a seemingly breakneck pace.

These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power, and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR—an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. . . 

C


Could both be right?

January 12, 2018

The Ministry of Primary Industries is frustrated with farmers’ response to Mycoplasma bovis:

Farmers are being told to keep better records of livestock movements.

It follows another confirmed case of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, this time on an Ashburton farm.

The disease has been found on 14 farms, all but one are in the South Island.

Ministry for Primary Industries response incident controller David Yard said farmers have a poor record of compliance with the national livestock tracing scheme.

He said that’s making for a lengthy search for the disease on other properties.

“It’s proving extremely challenging for us to identify where all the animal movements are being made so we have to go and interview every farmer in detail to see if they can recall who they sold animals to and who they received.” . . 

MPI is frustrated with farmers and the farmer on whose property Mycoplasma bovis was first identified is frustrated with MPI:

. . .  Glenavy dairy farmer Aad van Leeuwen, who owns the farms where the disease was first identified in New Zealand – and has had 4000 cattle culled – said he believed it had been in the country for years.

After going to the United States to learn about the disease, which was prevalent in many other countries, he advised the ministry four months ago to adopt a rigorous nationwide bulk milk testing programme to determine how widespread it was.

”It’s made out to be such a terrible thing, but it’s very, very manageable; it’s been here for a long time already; it is worldwide,” he said. ”So, instead of ripping communities apart, sending people broke … I would say this madness needs to stop.

”It was only before Christmas that they were trying to link all these farms to us, which is absolute rubbish. There’s no link whatsoever to us. . .

‘Yesterday, MPI response incident controller David Yard told the Otago Daily Times the scheme ”if used effectively” was ”the most useful tool to identify where the disease ‘could’ be”. Yet he said the latest case was identified through bulk milk testing.

”MPI is working with the dairy industry to extend this bulk milk testing … nationally.”

It’s possible that both are right.

There are problems with the NAIT scheme. Not all farmers are recording animal movements promptly and correctly and the grapevine says inaccuracies and incomplete records aren’t only at the farmers’ end.

But it is also possible that Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for years and it is only because a vet went further in searching that it was identified on van Leeuwen’s farms.

Testing animals isn’t 100% reliable, it can result in false negatives. Testing  milk is a much better way to identify infected stock and it needs to be done nation-wide.

That’s the best way of establishing the extent of the disease and getting rid of it.

Bulk testing of milk could also settle the question of where the disease came from and how wide-spread it is.

 


Rural round-up

January 10, 2018

Tests confirm cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis on Ashburton farm:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present on a farm in the Ashburton area.

The Ministry’s response incident controller David Yard says milk sampling carried out by the dairy industry just before Christmas revealed a suspected positive result and MPI’s Animal Health Laboratory testing has just confirmed this.

“The affected farm and an associated property have been under controls since Christmas Eve as a precautionary measure. No animals or other risk goods such as used farm equipment have been allowed on or off the property during this time and these controls stand,” Mr Yard says. . . 

Water taxi arrives in North Otago

It’s been a funny old year on Gareth and Sarah Isbister’s farm, Balruddery, near Five Forks.

Swamped by rain, the cattle farmers finished 2017 beside the Kakanui River with new irrigation and options.

The Isbisters are happy to have the extra water on hand after a difficult 12 months for an irrigation rollout in their area.

Their supplier, the farmer-owned North Otago Irrigation Company, was meant to be pumping high-pressure flow to downland farmers like them in late 2016. Joint faults in pipes put paid to that idea, costing shareholders as the contractor fixed its faulty workmanship. . .

Ruawai farmer survives being trampled by stampeding herd:

Dairy farmer Chris Baker says he is “hellishly lucky” to have survived a stampede by his 180 cows that left him trampled, unconscious and with broken bones.

The 61-year old Ruawai man has been a dairy farmer for 40 years, and has never before been in such a life threatening situation.

He does admit to being kicked in the chest and elsewhere a few times by cows, “but that’s just day to day farming.”

Baker said he did nothing different or wrong last Tuesday but the freak occurrence could have left him dead. He now has a cautionary tale for anyone working on their own on a farm, and with animals. . . 

Pastures imperiled by seawater flooding – Jessie Chiang:

Seawater flooding of rural properties in Kaiaua is going to have a serious impact on farmers, Federated Farmers says.

Wild weather and a king tide last week caused widespread flooding in the coastal region on the western side of the Firth of Thames, leaving behind soaked properties filled with debris.

The federation’s Hauraki-Coromandel president Kevin Robinson said saltwater destroys pastures.

He said farmers would now have to wait for rain to wash away the salt before they could replant grass.

“It’s become evident that there are quite a few farmers there who [have been] significantly affected by the tidal inundation – one farmer 100 percent and others to a lesser degree,” said Mr Robinson. . . 

MyFarm sees dairy farm investments waning, eyes growth in horticulture – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – MyFarm Investments, New Zealand’s largest rural investment syndicator, is moving its focus away from its dairy farming origins and expects future growth to come from smaller overlooked investments such as fruit.

The rural investment firm was set up in 1990, initially investing in dairy farms which it syndicated to investors. It has since diversified into sheep and beef farms, horticulture and mussel farming and has more than $500 million of rural assets under management. About half its assets are dairy farms, with some 30 percent in sheep and beef farms and 20 percent in other investments, and the company expects its dairy investments to shrink as farms are sold when investments mature while the proportion in other areas grows. . . 

Have banks signalled they’ve had enough of funding the dairy industry? If funding is closed off, the new Govt’s obligations for the industry are likely to be expensive and even more stressful– David Chaston:

Rural borrowers currently owe banks in New Zealand $60.4 bln, according to the Reserve Bank.

With banks over the past decade rushing to support the capital needs of the growing dairy sector, two thirds of this rural debt is held by dairy farmers.

All rural debt represents just 14% of the debt held by banks in New Zealand and pales in comparison to the 56% of all debt banks hold over urban residences ($240 bln). These numbers don’t include another $4.9 bln lent to the rural support sector or the forestry or fishing sectors. . . 

Young Taranaki local wins Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year Award:

Henry Miles is a busy young man who is about to become even busier. Next month, the 21-year-old New Plymouth resident, who is currently Assistant Manager of a Tegel meat chicken farm, will step up to manage a large new free-range farm – which will expand to a total of eight sheds by adding a shed every seven weeks.

It is a role that Henry is well prepared for, having gained a thorough grounding in poultry farming since leaving school in 2014. . . 


Rural round-up

October 11, 2016

NZ lamb prices lift; weak demand likely to weigh on future returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb meat prices advanced last month on lower supplies but analysts expect the uplift will be temporary due to weak demand in the UK market, where around two thirds of the country’s lamb legs are exported.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.20 British pounds per kilogram in September, from 4.10 pounds/kg in August and 3.40 pounds/kg in September last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns were $7.51/kg in September, from $7.41/kg in August, and compared with $8.04/kg a year earlier.

In New Zealand, the average price from local meat processors lifted to $5.80/kg, from $5.68/kg in August,and compared with $6.05/kg a year earlier, AgriHQ said. . . 

NZ Hereford beef a hit in Germany – Gerald Piddock:

German consumers are taking a liking to New Zealand hereford beef, with demand growing in a market traditionally dominated by pork and poultry.

Fuelling that demand is the cattle’s grass fed diet and New Zealand’s outdoor farming style, importer Christian Klughardt says.

Klughardt and his brother, Oliver, run HP Klughardt, a family business started by their father in 1968. They have bought lamb and venison from Silver Fern Farms (SFF) and its predecessor PPCS for about 30 years. . . 

New app helps farmers manage mastitis:

A new app for farmers has been launched by LIC Automation to help those with CellSense in-line sensors to more easily manage mastitis in their herd.

CellSense is an automated in-line sensor providing farmers with a live somatic cell count (SCC) resultwithin two minutes of cupping the cow. The new CellSense Connected app sends the SCC results straight to farmers’ smart devices. Data is presented in an easy-to-use format on the farmers’ devices (phones and tablets), allowing them to assign a SCC result to a cow during milking.

This means farmers can view reports at their convenience and use them to aid dry off decisions. A flashing light system in the milking shed is an optional extra that alerts farmers to which cows in the herd have a high SCC. . . 

Freshwater management to benefit from new institute:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced the creation of a new freshwater institute between NIWA and the University of Waikato.

Te Waiora, Joint Institute for Freshwater Management (NIWA and the University of Waikato) will be on the university’s Hamilton campus and involve iwi, national and international partners.

“This is a significant step forward in freshwater management in New Zealand, and will enhance our research capabilities and facilities to address future management of our freshwater resources and environments,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Joint Institute will be a world-leading centre for interdisciplinary freshwater research and teaching. It will build capability and capacity across the sciences, engineering, management, law, economics policy, mātauranga Māori and education, with the aim of delivering greater economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits from and for freshwater. . . 

Cycle trail a $37 million boost for regions:

More than a million people used the New Zealand Cycle Trail last year, generating around $37 million in economic benefits for local communities, according to a new report released today by Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key.

The evaluation the New Zealand Cycle Trail, includes an independent cost benefit analysis showing that for every dollar attributable to construction and maintenance of the trails, approximately $3.55 of benefits was generated.

“The New Zealand Cycle Trail has been very effective in attracting high-value visitors to our regions,” says Mr Key. . . 

Parasite-resistant deer on the horizon?:

Deer breeders who want to select deer with natural resistance to internal parasites may now do so. However, they’re taking a punt, as research to find out whether – or how – resistance is linked to growth rates and parasite levels in deer won’t be completed until late next year.

Resistance levels are scored using a saliva test that measures the antibodies triggered when animals ingest internal parasites.

Dubbed CARLA, short for carbohydrate larval antigens, the test was developed by AgResearch scientists for the sheep industry, where CARLA breeding values (BVs) are now a routine part of genetic selection. . . 

Improved road access for farmers:


Farmer Rayawa (on horseback) observes as his road is upgraded.

Small to medium scale crop farmers living along Lutukina Road in the Macuata Province are now able to get their produce to markets faster and with their crops undamaged since their road was recently repaired by Fulton Hogan Hiways.

FHH is contracted by Fiji Roads Authority to maintain the unsealed and sealed road networks in the Northern division.

Running through green terrain, Lutukina Road is located off the Labasa/Nabouwalu highway. It is 45 kilometres from Labasa Town and six kilometres from Dreketi. . . 

Farmers warned not to plant left-over contaminated fodder beet seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is cautioning farmers not to plant left-over seed from any of the six lines of fodder beet seed imported last year and known to be contaminated with velvetleaf.

MPI is working with industry players and regional councils to manage the incursion of the pest weed resulting from the importation of the contaminated seed.

Response Incident Controller David Yard says there are hundreds of properties around New Zealand that have velvetleaf on them and we don’t want any more.

“MPI has banned the importation of any of the affected lines, but we believe there are likely to be farmers out there who bought contaminated seed lines last year and could have left-over seed in their sheds. . . 

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort this year. Cardrona’s previous skier day record has been smashed by over 30,000 visits this year – a sign of growth in both the snow sports and local tourism industries.

Investing in key areas such as carparking and the Valley View base area, along with a focus on minimising pinch points, has created a more even spread of capacity. Continual investment in terrain management including the SnowSat system, snowmaking capacity and grooming fleet has created a more stable, season-long product.

The entire resort was open top to bottom on Opening Day June 11, including Valley View Quad for the first time in the lift’s history. Early snowfall, increased snowmaking capacity and tactical terrain management saw the resort fully operational from day one. . . 


Beyond stupid

September 7, 2013

PGG Wrightson has admitted a biosecurity breech after carrying prohibited seed in an open bins on a truck through Canterbury’s cropping belt.

PGG Wrightson says it is disappointed in itself for making the mistakes that caused a roadside spill of seeds from an invasive weed.

The seed is from black grass or meadow fox tail, an invader of winter crops in Britain and Europe. It was found in a 16.3 tonne consignment of red fescue grass seed imported from Denmark and was being taken to a containment centre at Methven, Mid-Canterbury.

PGG Wrightson seeds manager John McKenzie said it appeared seed was sucked by air pressure from steel bins on a truck.

A manager had not followed Primary Industries Ministry instructions to enclose the bins.

“We’re disappointed in ourselves for this breakdown in procedures,” he said. . .

Croppping farmers are more than disappointed, they’re furious.

They’re describing this as like someone driving a herd of animals with foot and mouth disease down the road and letting some escape.

MPI response manager David Yard said the seeds were “fairly immature”. “There might be three or four germinate in the first year and one or two in the second year.”

He estimated 28 kilograms of red fescue had spilled during the trip. Included in that would have been about 2100 black grass seeds – enough to fill an eggcup. . .

Black grass is resistant to many herbicides and is  difficult to control in several crops. It competes for nutrients, light, water and space, out-competing crops and reducing yields.

Yard said MPI would also be taking up the matter of the contaminated cargo with Danish authorities. The red fescue consignment had been rejected and would shortly be shipped back to Denmark. . .

Even if only a small amount of seed escaped it  is beyond stupid to carry contaminated seed in open bins.

No matter how strong our biosecurity regulations are, they could be breached by stupidity.

 


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