Rural round-up

June 25, 2018

Mycoplasm bovis can transfer to sheep, goats, deer, pigs and poultry – Keith Woodford:

Currently, there is a fervent ‘behind-the-scenes’ debate as to whether eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is feasible.

It is well over a month, possibly close to two months, since the international Technical Advisory Group (TAG) voted six to four in favour of eradication being feasible. This would have been based on information supplied to them by MPI and assessed over a telephone hook-up. New evidence since then provides further complexity and concerns.

First, there is extensive evidence from overseas that Mycoplasma bovis can transfer between species and that it can infect sheep, goats, pigs, deer and even poultry. Strictly speaking, this is not new evidence as it was sitting there all along in the scientific literature and easily found. However, the implications of this within the New Zealand environment have not been considered to date. . .

A killer worse than M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

A cattle disease prevalent on 100% of New Zealand farms is much more serious than Mycoplasma bovis, a veterinarian says.

Lincoln University Dairy Farm veterinarian Chris Norton told farmers at a recent focus day there that though M. bovis dominates the news, another disease — Johne’s — affects more farms and kills more cattle.

Johne’s was discovered first in Taranaki 100 years ago in one cow, Norton said. . . 

DoC explains game export process – Tim Fulton:

Deer and other game animal products are getting a new export process and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is trying to ensure exports aren’t stopped at foreign ports because of it.

Japanese border authorities last month stopped a New Zealand velvet exporter’s shipment at an airport because they did not recognise DOC’s approach to certifying legally hunted and farmed game animals.

DOC has been issuing certificates of export for deer, tahr and chamois products.

A new form letter from DOC director general Lou Sanson will list seven species of introduced deer plus Himalayan tahr, chamois and possums. 

They are introduced species that can be legally hunted and exported as trophies, velvet, fur and meat. . . 

Nats out building rural bridges – Annette Scott:

Life is not going to get easier anytime soon for rural New Zealanders, National Party leader Simon Bridges told a meeting of 300 people in Ashburton.

Bridges, as part of his Connecting with Communities regional roadshow, said increased intervention in people’s everyday lives and policies that will make it harder for regional businesses to operate are becoming reality under the Labour-led Government.

And changes to industrial relations law will directly affect regional economies.

The big increase in the minimum wage and amendments to the 90-day employment trial were prompting employers to think twice about taking on new staff. . . 

Nominations Documents Ready for 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election open Friday, 6 July with an election to be held for three farmer-elected Directors.

This year John Wilson, Ashley Waugh and Nicola Shadbolt retire by rotation. They may all stand for re-election if they wish – none have announced their intentions at this stage. . .

Record entries for Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower competition:

Eight of Hawke’s Bay’s top young horticulturists will face off in the Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower of the Year competition in Napier on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 June.

This year’s entrants are:
Lisa Arnold, orchard operations assistant at Bostock NZ
Tom Dalziel, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Ryan Gittings, York Group assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd
Wade Miller, leading hand at Bostock NZ
Luke Scragg, senior leading hand at T&G
Philip Siagia, general orchard hand at Mr Apple NZ
Anthony Taueki, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Lincoln Thomson, assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd

Critical elements to maintain member loyalty in co-operatives :

To fully engage the members of co-operative and mutual enterprises, managers and directors of CME’s must understand their members wear four hats when engaging with their co-operative, according to a study conducted by researchers from The University of Western Australia.

The study analysed three Australian producer co-operatives including Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd (CBH), Murray Goulburn Co-operative (MGC), and Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-operative Ltd (GFC), and examined the nature of member commitment and loyalty in co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs).

Professor Tim Mazzarol from UWA’s Business School and Institute of Agriculture says directors and managers of CME’s should recognise that members do wear multiple hats with which they engage with the enterprise. These hats are Investor, Patron, Owner and Community Member. . . 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2018

P****d off Feds want straight thinking – Pam Tipa:

When people say New Zealand should be a leader in agricultural climate change technology and systems, Feds climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard says he gets “pissed off”.

“We are already a leader, if you look at carbon footprint per km of land or per kilo of milk solids or whatever,” he told Dairy News.

“Most things we produce we are already producing at world’s best or we are setting the target for world’s best. I don’t know how much more of a leader you can be. . .

Methane not a villain:

Many people do not grasp that methane is a short-lived gas that recycles, says Feds climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard.

This statement in the PCE report is important, he says: “Given its shorter lifetime, emitting methane will not [cause] the same irreversible inter-generational warming that carbon dioxide or the release of nitrous oxide have.”

“It was good to hear that being mentioned,” says Hoggard. . .

Pampered pets push venison prices:

A growing appetite for venison from a booming global pet food market has helped drive autumn venison schedules to record highs.

While schedule prices normally peak in spring, pampered pets have continued to push prices upward to an autumn peak of $11/kg.

Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Dan Coup said the popularity of venison as a pet food component is driven by a worldwide shift in attitudes towards companion animals from owners who want the best for their pets.

That includes an increasing interest in feeding them natural paleo-type diets. . . 

‘Fitbit for cows’ set to revolutionise beef industry from paddock to plate – Tom major:

An electronic tracking ear tag being developed for cattle could forever change the way graziers manage both livestock and farmland.

Researchers from James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville are collaborating with the Queensland Department of Science, the CSIRO and commercial partner Ceres Tag to adapt GPS technology for small, affordable livestock ear tags.

Computational chemistry expert, Ian Atkinson said the project would ultimately enable more accurate assessment of livestock condition. . . 

What if Africa’s farmers had access to needed seed technology? – Gilbert Arap Bor:

We’ve been told by trusted media and researchers that Kenya is on the brink of accepting biotechnology in agriculture.  I’ve said it myself. And now, President Kenyatta appears to be saying the same.  Business Daily recently reported “President Uhuru Kenyatta is betting on mass production of genetically modified cotton to create 50,000 jobs.”  

Another recent report, this one by the Africa Center for Biosciences International (CABI) affirms that “agriculture is essential for sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth and yet average crop yields in Africa are among the lowest in the world.  Over 80% rely on it but many face challenges in growing sufficient good quality produce”.

True, farmers know that some years are good and some years are bad. . . 

Morrisons promises all lamb sold over Easter will be British – Katie Grant:

Morrisons has pledged that all of the lamb it sells this Easter will be British. The supermarket said it had taken the decision not to offer lamb sourced from New Zealand or Australia over Easter after “listening to customers”.

Supporting British farmers

Over two thirds (68 per cent) of shoppers said they wanted to support British farmers, according to the results of a YouGov poll commissioned by Morrisons last year. . .


Rural round-up

January 11, 2018

Retiring meat industry leader goes farming – Heather Chalmers:

Retiring Anzco founder Sir Graeme Harrison says the meat industry remains in a battle for survival, writes Heather Chalmers.

Life is turning full circle for retiring Anzco Foods founder and chairman Sir Graeme Harrison.

Harrison who has sold his shares in Anzco and steps down as chairman as its annual meeting in March, is now turning his attention to farming. After 34 years with the company he is relaxed about moving on, with the succession plan well signalled.

Again living in Methven, where his family farmed and trained racehorses in his younger days, his new focus is a hill country property with flats at Alford Forest in the Mid-Canterbury foothills. The sheep and beef property is farmed by his daughter and son-in-law Michelle and Daniel Carson, and he intends to take an active role. . . 

Fears tōtara trees could be wiped out on the East Coast – John Boynton:

There are calls for more to be done to save tōtara trees in the Raukumara Forest Park Range from being wiped out by pests.

Possum and deer are killing the ancient native trees and are also causing a decline in the numbers of other native plants and animals in the forest.

The Raukumara Forest Park Range spans 11,000ha across the East Coast of the North Island and consists of dense, isolated and uncompromising terrain.

It has proven to be the perfect breeding ground for possum, deer and red goats which are causing major damage to the forest ecosystem. . .

Nothing sheepish about advocacy on this farm – Owen Roberts:

From the time they graduated (two years apart) from the University of Guelph in the 1990s, through to their current leadership roles in Ontario agriculture, Mark and Sandi Brock have become widely known for their honest and public portrayal of modern farming.  And they’re challenging other producers to join them, to make sure urban Canada is getting the right messages.  

“Agriculture needs to align itself with influencers and stop talking to itself,” Mark says. “We need to be giving unified messages that people are less apt to forget.” . . 

DYNE wins the inaugural Woolmark Prize Innovation Award:

DYNE was today announced the inaugural winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize Innovation Award, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, led by Future Tech Lab founder/CEO Miroslava Duma and included Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.

The Innovation Award powered by Future Tech Lab celebrates the collection with the most innovative and creative wool fabrication, process or development and was awarded to the finalist who demonstrated the most exciting approach to help reduce its social and environmental footprint. DYNE will receive $100,000 along with commercial opportunities. . . 

Bodice wins the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize for women’s wear:

Bodice was today announced the womenswear winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network: Boutique 1, Boon The Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay, Lane Crawford, L’Eclaireur, mytheresa.com, ORDRE, Parlour X, Ssense.com, Sugar and Tata CLiQ Luxury.

Representing India, Pakistan and the Middle East, Bodice was selected as the womenswear winner, praised for technique and the manufacturing process. Inspired by her grandmother who used to upcycle saris into quilts, Bodice addressed the issue of consumer waste in fashion with traditional techniques of recycling and cultural beliefs in the spiritual power of cloth to affect our wellbeing.  . . 

Matthew Miller wins the 2017/19 International Woolmark Prize for men’s wear:

Matthew Miller was today announced the menswear winner of the menswear 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.

For Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti, Matthew Miller presented a well-balanced collection, with attractive price points. “He showed a good combination between innovation, commercial viability and pieces which will be worn by men on the street.” . . 

So what do Canadian farmers do in winter? – Jake Leguee:

Today is winter solstice—the darkest day of the year.

Here in southeast Saskatchewan, where my family farms, we’ll see about eight hours of daylight. The sun rises a little before 9 am and sets around 5 pm, local time.

It raises a question that I sometimes hear from friends who don’t work in agriculture: What do crop farmers do all winter?

 

Teachers sometimes joke that they went into education for three reasons: June, July, and August. There’s a similar gag in farming: Our seasons are April, August, and Arizona.

As much as I wish I could boast about relaxing all winter by the pool in Phoenix or Tucson, the truth is that I work on my farm year-round—even during the winter, when the nights are longer than the days.

The job of a farmer never ends. . .


Rural round-up

March 8, 2015

Legendary shearer David Fagan retires from competition – Diane Bishop:

David Fagan reckons he’s had a pretty good innings. And you can’t argue that.

After all, he’s one of the most successful competition shearers this country has ever seen, and is likely to see.

At 53, he’s hanging up the handpiece, competitively speaking.

Despite his legendary status, Fagan is surprisingly down-to-earth and matter-of-fact about his last season on the shearing circuit. . .

Devotion saves oasis on dry plains:

Peter Etheridge is passionate about wildlife. So much so that when this summer’s drought threatened to shut down the creek flowing through his 12ha property, he knew he had to act.

The deer farmer, who lives 7km outside Ashburton, teamed up with neighbouring farmers to keep Green Street’s Spring Creek alive.

It was a tough ask. Irrigating farmers in the area were already on a 100 per cent water restriction so no water could be taken from the Ashburton River which feeds the creek. However, by negotiating with the local regional council, Environment Canterbury, Etheridge and his neighbours were able to get a small amount of water released purely for environmental purposes. . .

Learning experience for Southland deer farmers – Diane Bishop:

Dipton deer farmer Brian Russell is at the top of his game.

But, he’s the first to admit he’s still got a “bit to learn” on his family-owned property The Rock.

Brian and his wife Kristine are large scale deer farmers farming two properties comprising more than 2100 hectares in Northern and Central Southland. . .

Shear diplomacy for US Consul – Andrew Bonallack:

Mr Ambassador sir, it’s time to take your jacket off.

Under hot lights and in front of a large crowd, the brand new US Ambassador to New Zealand donned a Golden Shears singlet over his shirt and waited for his turn to have a go shearing a sheep at Masterton’s War Memorial stadium yesterday.

Mark Gilbert, who officially became the US Ambassador to New Zealand last month, was enjoying a tour of the Golden Shears competition when the suggestion was made for him to have a go at shearing. . .

Marmalade champions – Gerald Ford:

Whareama couple Sally Duckworth and Alisdair Ross have conquered the world of marmalade, taking two gold medals at the World Marmalade Championships in Cumbria, United Kingdom, on Saturday.

The competition, known as the World’s the Original Awards, this year attracted more than 2500 entries from across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, as well as the Middle East and Australia and New Zealand.

Only one entrant managed more than two golds at the event.

The couple make marmalade as Marmalada, on their property at the historic 1884 Langdale Homestead.

This was the second year Sally and Alisdair have entered the competition. . .

Wood chopping a crowd favourite at Field Days     – Barbara Gillham:

Competition will be at the cutting edge and records may be broken when axemen from around the country enter the Husqvarna Wood Chopping Arena this year.

Always a crowd-pleaser, wood chopping has been at Central Districts Field Days since it began 22 years ago.

Run by the Taranaki Axemen’s Club, competitors – including brothers Jack and Shane Jordon from Stratford – will be in action. Two of New Zealand’s top axemen, Jack was the youngest world champion two years ago at the age of 17. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 14, 2014

Stars align for NZ foresters as ‘wall of wood’ comes on stream, prices reach record highs – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand forest growers, long overshadowed by booming returns from the dairy industry, look set to cash in on record prices for logs as they prepare to harvest trees planted in a flurry of activity two decades ago.

Forestry plantation activity in New Zealand jumped between 1992 and 1998, as a surge in Asian log prices lured investment syndicates to the sector. Radiata pine, which makes up about 90 percent of the nation’s plantations, are typically felled between 26 and 32 years, meaning the “wall of wood” will start being harvested from about 2018, according to government figures.

Rising prices for forestry products, the nation’s third-largest commodity export, have been overshadowed in the past year by a rapid rise in the fortune of dairy products, with overseas sales of milk powder, butter and cheese worth more than three times as much as sales of logs and wood. Still, forestry has been the quiet achiever, with the ASB New Zealand forestry index and the forestry sub-group of the ANZ Commodity Price Index touching record highs in January. . .

Forestry’s Good Returns Attract Investment Interest:

With forest products exports continuing to enjoy a run of high commodity prices there is plenty of attention worldwide on the robust returns delivered from forest resources. So it’s timely that New Zealand and Australia are soon to host a major forest investment and market outlook conference series. The event in it’s third year is popular with forest company CEOs and financial sector leaders for it’s insight.

One of the keynote speakers headlining the FIEA event is Kevin Mason, Managing Director and Senior Analyst of ERA Forest Products Research (www.ERA-Research.com), a Canadian-based independent research firm that covers the global forest products sector.

“We focus first and foremost on understanding the commodity side of the market,” says Mason, “as trends in the underlying commodities far outweigh managerial abilities, or the lack of.” . . .

Bog Roy story one of challenges down through generations – Ruth Grundy:

It is fair to say farming Bog Roy station has put each generation of Anderson family to the test.

It is also true to say their dogged determination to face down the challenges thrown at them is testament to their love and vision for the land.

Dave Anderson is the fourth Anderson generation to take on the high country run. . .

New Horticulture Industry Initiative Helps Combat Labour Shortage:

A new ‘hands on’ initiative, which brings the classroom into the orchard, is helping combat the labour shortage in the horticulture industry.

The Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), Work and Income and local iwi have teamed up with John Bostock, owner of JM Bostock Ltd, to help get people off the unemployment benefit and into permanent employment.

The partners have worked together to establish an EIT level three sustainable fruit production course, which has both theory and practical modules. The theory mirrors the orchard cycle to enhance the student’s learning. In 2014 the programme will start earlier in the year to better coincide with orchard practice. . .

Mutton export values jump:

Mutton exports from New Zealand rose significantly in the first quarter of this season.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand has released statistics for lamb, mutton and beef exports for October, November and December 2013 – the first three months of the 2013-14 meat export season.

While there was little change in the volume and value of beef and veal exports compared with the corresponding period last season, mutton exports were up 16.3% in volume and 22% in total value.

The average return increased by 4.9% to $5200 FOB per tonne, Beef and Lamb said. . .

Proving deer viable satisfying outcome :

Canterbury farmer Sam Zino is well on the way to showing that deer farming is a viable alternative.

The region’s deer focus farm facilitator, Wayne Allan, said Mr Zino had achieved most of his goals and had increased production and profit at a time when the venison price was falling.

Mr Zino and his brother, Mark, were selected as the North Canterbury deer focus farm in 2011 for three years. At the time, Mr Zino said he wanted to demonstrate that deer farming was profitable.

”What Sam has shown is that if you’re smart about it and you take a planned approach then deer farming can be a highly economic land-use option,” Mr Allan said. . .

Land values could have started to enter over heated territory when assessed against historical returns – Jeff Smith:

The dairy land price paid per kg of milk solids has broken through the $40/kg mark and it is being predicted to keep on climbing with land value rising by up to 9% in the coming year.

At an average of $41.50/kg, this is a 12% lift on the post global financial crisis average of $37.

Commentators in the February ANZ Agri Focus say looking back through history, the $40/kg  has been an important psychological level.

It also suggested land values could have started to enter over heated territory when assessed against historical returns. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 9, 2014

New Zealand farmers John Falkner, Simon Berry set to market cheese made with deer milk – Dominique Schwartz:

A New Zealand farmer and a cheese maker have joined forces to craft what they hope will be the world’s first commercially produced cheese using deer milk.

Scientists say deer milk is rich in nutrients and protein, and could also have wide-ranging therapeutic and cosmetic uses.

Milking sheds are dotted across New Zealand’s rolling pastures, but there are none quite like Clachanburn Station possibly anywhere in the world.

At Clachanburn, in the Central Otago region of the South Island, it is not cows clattering through the milking runs but deer. . .

Farmers show resilience to adapt to changing world – Tim Mackle:

A New Year has arrived, and I’m pleased. Time to move on from 2013.

Not that all went badly last year. Not at all. The dairy industry and Fonterra in particular were in the news a lot – but maybe that helped New Zealanders understand us better.

We came through it together and perhaps, out of it all, we know a little bit more about each other.

2013 may have started badly for farmers with the drought, but it ended well weather-wise and with a positive milk price forecast. . .

Milking goats makes $en$e – Gerald Piddock:

Milking time at the Wade family’s dairy goat farm is a noisy affair.

The chorus of baas from the hundreds of impatient goats jostling outside in the yards sees to that.

“Come on, girls,” dairy milker Gary Bowman says as he opens the gate to the milking shed.

The noise stops as the goats rush forward, knowing a free meal of grain is on offer, while Gary and the other shed workers quickly attach the milking cups to the goats teats.

The process is over very quickly. . .

An oldie but a goodie – Mark Griggs:

BREEDING first-cross (Border Leicester/Merino) ewes as the “traditional mothers” of the prime lamb industry is still consistently profitable.

But Narromine area breeder, Warren Skinner, is worried the time-honoured and proven cross may die out with the older generation, who have traditionally bred that way.

“Most of the traditional breeders have stuck with the first-cross job, but I worry once this generation gets older, the young people that take over may move away and to different breeds on offer,” he said. . .

Stock & Land notches up its century – Alisha Fogden:

IN 2014, Stock & Land celebrates 100 years, and to mark this momentous occasion we have many centenary events and initiatives planned for the coming 12 months.

This marks the start of our weekly look-back pages where we choose a similar date from a corresponding year to show how farming and the paper have changed – or not.

Today, we look back half a century to January 8, 1964, when the paper still had that traditional old newsletter feel in black and white but had already begun to include more pictures and illustrations. . .

Heinz plant closure part of trend squeezing farmers out of Canada’s system, says NFU:

The closure of the Heinz ketchup plant announced last week is the latest of several Canadian food processing plants bought and then closed by investors that move production to other countries in pursuit of higher profits. The trend bodes ill for Canadians who want to eat food that is grown and processed within our borders, and is a direct result of the federal government’s policy drive to expand agri-food exports at the expense of Canadian food sovereignty.

“Since 1989, Heinz’s Leamington plant has shut down the pickle line, its peach, baked bean, soups and vegetable canning lines, the frozen vegetable product line and its vinegar operation. From hundreds of products, now all that is left is baby food and tomato product lines. Even so, the plant was still very profitable,” said Mike Tremblay, Essex County Local NFU-O President. “The new owners want even higher profits, and free trade deals just make it easier for processors to pick up and move, leaving our farmers with no market for their tomatoes and other vegetables, and putting hundreds of local people out of work.” . . .

New blood for farming :

THREE NEW entrants to agriculture, all students at Scotland’s Rural College, have been shortlisted to progress in the prestigious Lantra Scotland Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards – although none have a family background in farming.

Eighteen year-old Kaleem Shaikh grew up and went to school in suburban Uddingston, on the outskirts of Glasgow, but already he breeds pedigree sheep, goats and keeps hens on rented land and has emerged as ‘Best student’ in his year-group at the SRUC Oatridge campus in West Lothian.

Kaleem has been selected in the National Certificate Agriculture category and has moved on to study for a Higher National Certificate at Oatridge.

Ashley Stamper, a 21- year-old from Corstorphine, in Edinburgh, first learnt about farming by visiting a nearby farm as a child to bottle-feed pet lambs and has now completed a Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture at SRUC Barony Campus, in Dumfries.

She works as a shepherdess and stockperson for a farm services company, based at Hexham, in Northumberland. She goes forward in the Scottish Vocational Qualification in Agriculture Level 3 category.

Cameron Smith, also 18, got interested in farming when his family moved from Coatbridge, via a spell in Northern Ireland, to Doune, in Perthshire, and he made friends with schoolmates who were from farming backgrounds. . . .

Photo: 10 Reasons to thank a farmer on this Monday morning! (From Farm and Dairy)


Hawke’s Bay deer farmers M&S sustainability champions

October 15, 2012

Hawke’s Bay deer farmers and Federated Farmers members, Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe, are Marks & Spencer 2012 Farming for the Future Champion of Champions.

“Marks & Spencer is a globally recognised brand which epitomises quality and environmental sustainability. This is huge for us, for the FirstLight Foods group which sells our product to Marks & Spencer, our industry and for New Zealand agriculture.

“Having been judged by the company and its customers as the most sustainable farm of five finalists, representing Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England is a huge endorsement of the farming systems and philosophies we have developed over the years.

“Our on-farm environmental activities started in 1995 when we fenced off and covenanted a seven hectare block of native trees. Since then we have fenced off around five percent of our farm, including protecting and enhancing three wetland areas, planting thousands of native plants and trees along the way.

“The judges were impressed with our animal health management, which uses nutrition where possible to minimise drench and vaccine use.

“The Aitken Weaning Technique is a development we are especially proud of, which has been taken up throughout the deer industry.

“This works with the animals’ instincts to wait for their mother, allowing them to process the separation quietly rather than injuring themselves and cutting up pasture. Since we discovered this, the industry is estimated to have saved about $1.2 million a year in losses and damage at weaning time.

“Lucy and I were already very proud of what we have achieved on our farm, but receiving this level of recognition from British consumers is a huge confidence boost,” Mr Aitken concluded.

Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills said Tim and Lucy were excellent examples of Kiwi farmers leading the way on sustainable farming.

“The Marks & Spencer Farming for the Future award recognises farmers for how well they treat their livestock, their technical excellence as farmers and their overall environmental performance. Winning the overall award ahead of the four British finalists is a huge endorsement of Tim and Lucy’s farming systems and of the esteem New Zealand agriculture is held in internationally,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Tim and Lucy had already won the title of Marks & Spencer’s best international supplier against more than 50 entries.

“Having the technical aspects of their business being judged was one thing, but winning the champion of champions award showed these people and their business really won the hearts and minds of a discerning British public who supported them in the popular vote.

“Federated Farmers is proud to have this couple as members and we encourage all New Zealand farmers to follow their example, lead the world in innovative animal welfare and environmental management and to enter into awards to let the world see the great work we are doing,” Mr Wills concluded.

To win the international category in competition with more than 50 suppliers from all around the world was an achievement in itself.

To win the overall champion’s title when competing against UK section winners English farmer Bill Cowperthwaite, Scottish farmer Gary Jamieson, Nigel McMullen from Ireland and Welsh farmer David Phillips; in a popular vote is even more notable.

Jon Morgan writes about the win here.


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