Rural round-up

October 30, 2019

Taranaki farmers fear new freshwater rules will drive them out of business – Catherine Groenestein:

Dairy farmer Ali Wicksteed is so confident of how good the water on his farm is, he scoops a glassful from a stream on his property and takes a long drink.

Yet he and his wife Nicola fear they could be unable to carry on farming their central Taranaki property under new rules proposed in the Government’s Action for Healthy Waterways discussion document.

The changes aim to improve water quality and reduce the amount of pollution entering waterways from cities and farms.  . . 

They grab every opportunity – Annette Scott:

Driving their business to grow and intensify while keeping true to their farming values for Mt Somers Station is a challenge for David and Kate Acland who are also heavily involved in both their local community and wider industry groups. They talked to Annette Scott.

Mt Somers Station is a 3800 hectare family property in the heart of the Mid Canterbury foothills. 

The Acland family has farmed the fully integrated property with proud traditions of caring for their land, environment and people for almost 40 years.

The philosophy has always been to farm with minimal impact, recognising that to farm sustainably they must farm profitably and remain open to change as they take a 100-year view on their farming business decisions. . .

Venison spreads it’s wings – Annette Scott:

Farm-raised venison is changing with New Zealand no longer having all its eggs in one basket, new Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat says.

With established markets evolving and new ones emerging some important new markets have been developed.

They are the result of active market development programmes by both individual venison companies and collectively by the five main venison exporters supported by DINZ.  . . .

Ngāi Tahu Farming strongly encourages sector to work together to progress five-year joint action plan:

Ngāi Tahu Farming chair Barry Bragg says the government’s announcement of their five-year joint action plan on agricultural emissions signals a step in the right direction, but that the sector must work collaboratively to implement urgent change.

Ngāi Tahu Farming is a large-scale agricultural presence in Te Waipounamu with interests in dairy, beef and forestry, and Bragg says that the business strives to balance economic priorities against reducing environmental impact.

“We are charged with running a farming business that contributes to the commercial outcomes of the iwi, as well as upholding Ngāi Tahu values. . .

Marlborough couple to downsize their Pine Valley ‘paradise’ after 50 years – Sophie Trigger:

Lloyd and Valerie Mapp are downsizing. 

After nearly 50 years in Pine Valley, in rural Marlborough, the Mapps are selling 50 hectares of land, including their home, flat paddocks and rolling hill blocks.

But they’re not moving far – just 2 kilometres in fact, to the front of the farm, where they will lose their sheep, but continue beef farming. . .

 

Scientist profile: Ross Monaghan:

My understanding of a meaningful life is having a sense of purpose and having a sense of struggle that’s attached to that, because you quickly get bored with yourself if those ingredients are missing,” says Ross Monaghan, Science Team Leader of the Environmental Sciences Team.

Ross was born and bred in the sleepy rural Southland town of Mataura, 13 kilometres south of Gore. This was where he spent quite a lot of his childhood growing up on family farms where his enjoyment for agriculture began to flourish.

“I quickly realised that to own a farm without a large backing of capital was quite a tough thing to do, so I drifted into agricultural science. I then specialised in soil science. I could see that obviously agriculture is important to New Zealand and that there are quite a lot of environmental pressures coming through due in part to agriculture, so that’s where I thought I could perhaps gain some expertise and try and make a difference to alleviate some of those pressures.” . . .


Rural round-up

October 25, 2019

Leader has passion for deer industry – Sally Rae:

Deer Industry New Zealand’s new chief executive Innes Moffat is well versed in the industry.

He has been with the organisation for 14 years and replaces Dan Coup, who is now chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

During his first week in the new role, Mr Moffat said he was conscious his knowledge of the industry and its people was a strength and he could provide continuity as he stepped up to lead the organisation. . . .

Cut nitrates make money – TIm Fulton:

Catch crops and oats don’t usually figure highly in a dairy farmer’s plans but that might change as new nutrient management regulations come into force. Tim Fulton reports.

Clinging to the northern bank of the Rakaia River the last of three Canterbury catch crop trials for this season is growing on a Te Pirita dairy winter forage block that forms part of a three-year Sustainable Farming Fund project to show the benefit of catch crops to reduce nitrate leaching. . .

Shearer aims for world record – Alexa Johnston:

Nine hours of “heart and concentration” is ahead of Alexandra-based shearer Stacey Te Huia, as he attempts to break a world record.

Te Huia aims to claim the 9-hour merino wethers record on December 7, in a shearing shed near Ranfurly.

The record is one of the longest-standing in the books, held by Rakaia shearer Grant Smith, who shore 418 sheep within the allocated time in November 1999. . . .

Nuts? Research says ‘significant’ potential for Rotorua nut crops – Samantha Olley:

Could nuts be the next big thing for Rotorua? It is an idea that has been described by researchers as “radical” – and one that could bring millions of dollars to the region. There is 5000ha of land in the district suitable for growing nut crops and three farms are investigating how it could work for them. Journalist Samantha Olley looks into how nut crops could benefit Rotorua economically, what it would take to get the idea off the ground – and how they could improve the district’s environment.

An idea to bring new edible nut crops to Rotorua is capturing wide interest and could bring at least $20 million a year into the district.

Newly published Crown research says there is “significant” potential for industrial edible tree nut crops in the Rotorua area – but it will require “radical” collaboration. . .

Scholarships address need for farming and horticulture apprentices:

Primary ITO is responding to the urgent need for skilled workers in agriculture and horticulture by launching a scholarship programme for apprentice fees.

Applications for the scholarships are open for October and November and will cover fees for the whole duration of the apprenticeship programmes, which generally take 2-3 years.

“Our industries are facing unprecedented challenges right now and we believe scholarships for apprentices will help business gain the skills they need,” says Primary ITO’s incoming chief executive Nigel Philpott. . .

 

National Farmers Federated to mobilise support for expansion of ag – Mervyn F Bendle:

Finally! The National Farmers Federation has announced that it will implement a long-term public relations campaign to mobilise public and political support for a major expansion of the agricultural industry in Australia and combat the zealotry of animal rights activists and green extremists.

Such a response is well overdue. As I discussed over six years ago in a Quadrant Online article, Australia faces an epoch-defining challenge. With the global population projected to exceed nine billion people by 2050 our country is well placed to become a major food supplier to the world, doubling — even quadrupling — agricultural production, and generating an additional $1.7 trillion in aggregate export earnings over the next four decades. Estimates vary, but global food supply will have to increase by between 60 per cent and 100 per cent by 2050 to satisfy requirements. This is not idle musing: hundreds of millions of people will starve if the global food supply is not greatly increased. . .


Rural round-up

September 1, 2019

Spring venison spike back – Annette Scott:

The return of the spring peak in venison prices is not expected to reach the unprecedented highs of last year.

Deer farmers are starting to see a return of the seasonal venison price increase that traditionally occurs each spring, Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Dan Coup says. 

It follows an unusual 2017-18 season when venison prices climbed steadily from January 2017 before peaking in October last year. 

The return of the spring peak doesn’t come as a surprise but Coup hopes the peaks and troughs in the seasonal price curve will be less marked than in the past.  . . 

Chasing the rainbow – Tim Fulton:

He can play it for laughs and he can play it serious. There’s a discerning side to social media star farmer Tangaroa Walker. Tim Fulton reports.

Media sensation Tangaroa Walker has X-factor in spades and he wants to use it to lift other farmers out of the mire.

Walker has a virtual arena for the job, his vividly upbeat and out-there Facebook page, Farm 4 Life.

He is a contract milker on a 550-cow farm at Invercargill.

The page is a funny but sometimes poignant look at the industry’s challenges. . .

Crown to net $5 million from Westland Milk sale – Eric Frykberg:

The profit made by the country’s largest farmer from the sale of its shares in Westland Milk Products, will disappear into government coffers via a special dividend.

Pāmu, or Landcorp, owns 10 farms supplying to Westland and is its second-largest shareholder.

Earlier this month Westland’s 350 farmer shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of selling Westland to China’s Yili dairy conglomerate at a rate of $3.41 per share.

This will net the Crown $5m from a sale that ministers always strongly opposed.

The payment of the dividend is being made despite the fact that overall, state-owned Pāmu suffered a big loss. . . 

Important to choose right crop for right animals on right land – Yvonne O’Hara:

Sediment traps, back fencing, portable water troughs and buffer zones are some of the key elements of good winter grazing practices that Wilden sheep and beef farmers Simon O’Meara, and Peter Adam, recommend.

By careful management, both farmers ensure their sheep and cattle are well fed and as sheltered and comfortable as possible during winter break feeding and adverse weather events.

At the same time, by using the same principles, they can also reduce nitrate and sediment loss and enhance water quality on their properties. . . 

Women in wool take on shearing challenge – Linda Hall:

THE ACRYLIC nails are gone, so has the nail polish, their high heels replaced with moccasins.

They don’t meet for coffee on a Saturday morning, instead this group of amazing women dressed in black head to a woolshed ready for some hard yakka.

Every Saturday since March this group of professional women have been training hard. They call themselves Women in Wool and their goal is to raise as much money as possible for Farmstrong — a nationwide rural wellbeing programme for farmers and growers to help them live well to farm well. . . 

Kea playground to be installed – Kerrie Waterworth:

Complaints of missing gloves, stolen food and shredded windscreen wipers at Treble Cone skifield could soon be a thing of the past when a new kea playground is installed.

The familiar mountain parrot has been a regular visitor to Wanaka’s closest skifield for many years, attracted primarily by the prospect of food scraps.

Treble Cone brand manager Richard Birkby said despite erecting signs and staff educating guests about the thieving habits of kea, the skifield still received regular complaints about kea knocking over mugs, flying off with trays of chips and destroying gloves.

Health and safety officer Jessica Griffin said the idea for the kea playground at Treble Cone skifield was prompted by the kea gyms in Nelson and at the Homer Tunnel and Manapouri power station at West Arm, established primarily to keep kea away from roads and damaging cars. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 13, 2019

Ground-breaking milestone for Waimea Community Dam project – Tim O’Connell:

There was excitement in spades for backers of the Waimea Community Dam with Friday’s ground-breaking ceremony signalling the start of excavation on the controversial $104.4 million project.

It will take twice as long as initially expected and cost four times as much to construct, but for those who travelled to the Lee Valley site, about 36 kilometres south-east of Nelson, there was a sense of relief and determination to see a successful outcome for the future of Tasman. 

The $104 million Waimea Dam project was rubber-stamped in November after a lively six-hour meeting where Tasman district councillors voted 9-5 to proceed. . .

Gums swallow up prime land – Terry Brosnahan:

Forestry has ripped the heart out of a small Southland community.

In the mid-1990s Waimahaka near Wyndham was one of a number of areas where farms were sold and planted out in eucalypt trees.

It was good money for those selling but the three-teacher school was the heart of a thriving community both of which were devastated.

Waimahaka school had a roll of 70 and three teachers before the trees came. When the farms sold the families left the district. It had only four pupils by the time it closed in 2013. . .

Community or carbon? – Rebecca Harper:

Like many small rural communities in New Zealand, Tiraumea has been declining for years. De-population has been exacerbated by farm amalgamations and technology, and concerned locals fear the recent flurry of farm sales to
forestry may prove the final nail in the coffin. Rebecca Harper reports.

Blink and you might miss it. There’s not much left in Tiraumea, located on Highway 52 between Alfredton and Pongaroa, in the Tararua District. Once a thriving rural community, mostly sheep and beef farmers and their families, numbers are dwindling.

The school closed in 2012, though the lone 100-year oak stands proudly in what used to be the school grounds. The hall is still there, along with the rural fire service shed and domain, but that’s about it.

In the last year a number of farms have been sold, either to forestry or manuka, with no new families moving in to replace those lost, and those left are concerned about the impact of mass pine tree plantings. . . 

Deer role challenging and rewarding – Sally Rae:

Challenging and rewarding – “probably in that order” – is how Dan Coup describes his tenure at Deer Industry New Zealand.

Mr Coup is leaving DINZ in October, after just over six years in the role, to become chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

When he joined the organisation, confidence among producers was generally low and farmers were leaving the industry, frustrated at the state of profitability.

Looking at the state of the industry now, it was “definitely better” and that was due to several factors. . .

Hawke’s Bay apple industry invests in accommodation for seasonal workers

The Hawke’s Bay apple industry says investing tens of millions of dollars in housing for staff will also help the hundreds of people in the region needing emergency accommodation.

It’s aiming to have 1592 new beds ready for next year by extensively renovating existing dwellings and building new accommodation.

The region needs enough places to house the 5400 seasonal workers it needs from the Pacific to work in next year’s harvest.

Gary Jones from the Hawke’s Bay Seasonal Labour Group said the industry was spending nearly $40 million at $25,000 a bed to house all its workers. . . 

Are cattle in the US causing a rise in global warming? – Alan Rotz & Alex Hristov:

Over the past decade, we have seen the media place blame for our changing climate on cattle. Scientific evidence does not support this claim though for cattle in the United States.  

Cattle produce a lot of methane gas, primarily through enteric fermentation and fermentation of their manure. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that, along with nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and some other compounds in the atmosphere, create a blanket around our planet. This is good; without this atmospheric blanket, the earth would be too cold for us to survive. The current problem is that concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere are increasing, which is thickening our blanket. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 21, 2018

Crop biotech 3.0: a farmer’s perspective – Craige Mackenzie:

Here in New Zealand, we did not participate in the GE Gene Revolution. Farmers like me see an advantage in making sure that we do not miss the next one. 

You’ve seen the statistics. Farmers around the world have planted and harvested billions of acres of genetically engineered crops. Not long ago, we used to talk about GMOs and conventional crops as if they belonged in different categories. Increasingly—and especially in North and South America—GMOs are the new conventional. They’ve become an ordinary part of agriculture. 

Some nations, of course have resisted the use of GMOs, starting with members of the European Union. New Zealand has taken its own wait-and-see approach, turning it into a sort of permanent delay. The science on GMOs safety to human health and our environment may be settled but my country has wanted to preserve its clean-green image in food production, in the belief that this gives us a competitive advantage as we market ourselves to the world.  . . 

Eradicating cattle disease M. bovis in New Zealand may be costly, even impossible, but we must try – Riachard Laven:

In May this year, the New Zealand government decided that it would attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a bacterial disease that affects cattle.

A phased eradication means that an additional 126,000 livestock will need to be culled, at an estimated cost of NZ$886 million.

Here’s what we know, what we don’t know and what’s at stake.

How do we know this is a new incursion?

M. bovis causes mastitis and arthritis in adult cattle and pneumonia in calves. It is found around the world, but New Zealand was one of the last disease-free countriesuntil the detection of infected cows on a dairy farm in July 2017.  . .

Career path judged correctly – Sally Rae:

Brooke Flett never intended a career in farming.

But now, settled on the family dairy farm at Scotts Gap in Southland, it was “working out all right”.

“Most of the time, I love it,” she laughed.

Miss Flett (26), who is chairwoman of Thornbury Young Farmers Club, was recently named Young Farmers national stock-judging champion.

She grew up on the farm and boarded at Southland Girls’ High School before studying at Victoria University for a bachelor of arts in education.

But it “never really clicked” and she did not pursue a career in that area. .

Farm sales and prices ease on year June but horticulture farms shine –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales fell 7 percent on the year in the three months to June and the median price per hectare was down 16.3 percent although horticulture farm prices continued to push higher, according to the Real Estate Institute.

Overall, 427 farms were sold in the three months ended June 30 from 459 farms in the same period a year earlier. Some 1,480 farms were sold in the year to June, down 17 percent on the year. . .

Software to keep containment’s out:

Fertiliser co-op Ballance will commercially launch a new farm environment planning tool, MitAgator, by spring.

Developed by Ballance and AgResearch, MitAgator measures the loss of four main farm contaminants — nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E. coli.

New Zealand-wide trials are pointing to a launch by late September. . .

Deer velvet looking good in Asia

Long-term prospects for NZ velvet in the major Asian markets are looking positive says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia manager Rhys Griffiths.

“There has been an explosion in consumer demand for consumer-ready velvet-based products in Korea. Ten years ago this product category didn’t even exist,” he says.

“In the past six months, 23 new velvet-based healthy food products have been launched in Korea; the majority of them using NZ velvet. . .

Importers snap up cheap U.S. soybeans as China stops buying – Karl Plume:

China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans, threatened for weeks and enacted Friday, have driven down prices and triggered a wave of bargain shopping by importers in other countries stocking up on cheap U.S. supplies, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.

Chinese buyers have so far this year accounted for just 17 percent of all advanced purchases of the fall U.S. soybean harvest – down from an average of 60 percent over the past decade, the analysis found. They are instead loading up on Brazilian soybeans, which now sell at a premium of up to $1.50 a bushel as U.S. soybean futures have fallen 17 percent over six weeks to about $8.50, their lowest level in nearly a decade. . .

The rise of soil carbon cowboys – Peter Byck:

Ranching is a rare occupation. Rarer still are the ranchers pioneering new ways to graze cattle, transforming their ranches and farms into vibrant ecosystems, producing black ink for their bank accounts and giving their incredibly robust animals a great life (with the exception of one bad day).

These new grazing methods have many names — mob grazing, managed intensive grazing, holistic management. Our group of scientists and ranchers call it Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) Grazing.  . .


Rural round-up

January 29, 2018

Raising profile of farm careers – Sally Rae:

Brought up in a Southland farming family, Olivia Ross grew up living and breathing  the red meat sector.

From raising pet lambs to seeing processing chains process the property’s lambs each year, her exposure to the industry was unlimited.

After leaving Takitimu Primary School in the rural township of Nightcaps, she headed to boarding school in Invercargill and that was when her association with, and understanding of, the urban population began. . . 

Strong sales show venison, velvet booming:

Confidence in the future profitability of venison and velvet production has flowed through to the market for sire stags, with strong sales reported throughout the country, Deer Industry New Zealand says.

Breeders reported a marked improvement on last year’s results. Although no stags broke the $100,000 mark, average prices were up strongly for most sales, several by more than 50%. The overall clearance rate was  94%, compared with 83% last year.

Venison schedule prices to farmers normally peak  each year in October before the last chilled shipments leave for Europe for the annual game meat season. This season, prices  continued to rise into January, with the published average now around a record $10.30kg for a carcass in the preferred weight range, DINZ chief executive Dan Coup said. . . 

Better dialogue needed to help bridge divide with farming’s critics – Andrew McGivern:

The weather certainly plays on people’s minds in different ways at this time of year.

Those planning a holiday at the beach naturally have a different perspective to those estimating pasture growth to determine if there will be a feed surplus or deficit for their animals.

Until last year, I would have never said that you can’t get too much rain over that late summer/early autumn period, but the Tasman Tempest closely followed by two cyclones made a liar out of me.

And with the early hot and dry start to summer we had in December, the immediate future for farmers in the Waikato was looking bleak. But we had that rain in early January and have now had a bit of a follow up, so once again the grass is growing, and things are starting to look up.

The decline in milk production has stirred the overseas markets up with GlobalDairyTrade prices improving. That also buoys farmers’ morale, knowing that it is strengthening the milk price. . . 

Synlait’s 2017 / 2018 Forecast Milk Price Remains Steady at $6.50:

Synlait Milk has reaffirmed its milk price forecast of $6.50 kgMS for the 2017 / 2018 season.

However the company has signalled that this forecast is dependent on commodity prices continuing to firm for the rest of the season.

“Our price of $6.50 kgMS has remained in place since May 2017, but global pricing remains unpredictable,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

No regrets after going robotic – Mark Daniel:

While robotic (voluntary) milking systems appear to be gaining in popularity, the Fisher Farm, between Cambridge and Te Awamutu, has a head start on today’s converts.

Now well into its sixth season, the operation milks 300 cows over 80ha, and lays claim to the title of being the first farm in Waikato to install a DeLaval VMS.

When owner John Fisher first looked at the concept, the farm had a traditional herringbone milking shed without a feed pad, and was operated by two full-time staff and a relief milker.  . . 

 

Booming horticulture exports forecast to soon rise to $5.6b – Jamie Gray:

Horticulture is fast becoming agriculture’s “fourth engine” and will soon rival the meat industry in export receipts, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, in its latest update, said horticulture’s strong growth is forecast to continue, with exports expected to reach $5.4 billion for the year ending June before rising to $5.6b in the next year.

Meat and wool export revenue is forecast to increase 4.2 per cent to $8.7b in the year, supported by strong red meat prices and increasing exports of value-added products, then to $8.8b the following year. . . 

Hort’s performance worth watching as avocados smash records – Andrew Marshall:

Supercharged activity in several horticulture categories in recent years has prompted Rural Bank to tag the sector as one to watch closely in 2018.

In particular, a couple of notable movers smashing records in domestic and export markets are avocados and oranges.

In the vegetable industry, crops with increasing export market traction and likely price growth in the year ahead include asparagus, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, according to Rural Bank’s Ag Answers research team. . . 


Rural round-up

January 25, 2018

Station faces $1m loss as big dry bites – Alexa Cook:

One of the country’s largest farming stations expects to lose about $1 million because of the harsh summer.

The 13,200-hectare Mount Linton Station in Southland has had about a quarter of its usual rainfall in the last year to date – 250 millimetres instead of more than 1000mm.

The lack of grass growth has forced the station to cull 25 percent of its 107,000 stock units.

General manager Ceri Lewis has worked on the station for 14 years and said the hot weather would hit the station hard this year. . .

Drought support events being run in Southland – Sally Rae:

Farmers and rural support professionals have been invited to attend free drought support events in Southland this week.

Organised by industry organisations, the events are being held in the Combined Sports Complex in Otautau tomorrow and the James Cumming Wing in Gore on Friday, both starting at 10.45am.

A drought committee was set up in Otago-Southland before Christmas, ready to spring into action if required, Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said. . . 

Sheep and beef sector welcomes the conclusion of the CPTPP:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) welcome the conclusion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) negotiations in Tokyo.

During the recent negotiations, officials resolved the outstanding issues and have agreed to meet in Chile to sign the agreement on 8 March.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, said the conclusion of the agreement represents good news for sheep and beef farmers and all New Zealanders. . .

Demand for stags reflects deer farmer confidence:

Confidence in the future profitability of venison and velvet production has flowed through to the market for sire stags, with strong sales reported throughout the country, says Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ).

Breeders report a marked improvement on last year’s results. Although no stags broke the $100,000 mark, average prices were up strongly for most sales, several by more than 50 per cent. Overall clearance rates were 94 per cent, compared with 83 per cent last year. . .

Livestock Improvement Corp first-half profit drops 22% on cost of transforming business – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp posted a 22 percent slide in first-half profit as the farmer-owned herd genetics cooperative ramped up spending to overhaul its business, which it says is vulnerable to the same disruption other industries face.

Net profit fell to $14.9 million, or 51 cents per share, in the six months ended Nov. 30, from $19 million, or 65.3 cents, a year earlier, the Hamilton-based company said in a statement. . .

Industry has huge potential, cashmere producer says:

The country’s leading cashmere wool-fibre farmer wants to breathe new life into what he describes as a stagnant industry with huge potential.

David Shaw, who farms in Central Otago with his wife Robyn, said the cashmere industry in New Zealand was still cottage-style producing hundreds of kilogrammes of wool.

That was a far cry from the need to produce somewhere between five and 10 tonnes to be able to satisfy the local market and start competing internationally. . . 

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