Rural round-up

May 9, 2015

Low-Cost Pasture-Based Dairying Still Our Best Bet, Say Farm Environment Leaders:

New Zealand dairy farmers shouldn’t lose sight of their competitive advantage, say farm environment ambassadors Mark and Devon Slee, who recently returned from a study tour of the Northern Hemisphere.

In late March the Canterbury dairy farmers and National Winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards embarked on a 25-day trip to the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Ireland, visiting a wide range of dairy farms

Mark says a key aim of the tour, which was facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and supported by a range of industry groups, was to study intensive dairy farming systems in Europe and to find out how farmers were using technology to improve sustainability. . .

Pacing global changes a big ask for Fonterra – Fran O’Sullivan:

Tim Groser’s warning that the dairy sector would effectively have to guts it out during a period of low milk payouts was timely.

It’s perhaps easier said than done maybe from the perspective of a Trade Minister.

But dairy farmers are a resilient lot. They’ve been through cyclical times before.

Yet, last week’s Fonterra announcement that the co-operative has downwardly revised its 2014/2015 payout forecast back to $4.50/kg milk solids (from $4.70) was still a hard knock for those that had factored the higher track into their own financial planning.

Federated Farmers pointed out just how difficult it was for some dairy farmers with their comment that the average Canterbury dairy farmer was now facing a loss of 91c for every kilogram of milk solids that they produced. . .

ANZ Bank was most aggressive in rural rate swaps sales to farmers, ComCom says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – ANZ Bank New Zealand, the country’s biggest lender, was the most aggressive in pitching interest rate swaps to farmers, over which it subsequently agreed to pay $19 million in compensation, the Commerce Commission says.

General counsel competition Mary Anne Borrowdale told Parliament’s primary production select committee that of the three banks to settle with the regulator, ANZ had the most customers involved and was investigated over both the way it was able to move its margin and the break fees it charged farmers for an early release. While ANZ announced its settlement with the regulator before ASB Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, it only just made its offer to farmers yesterday. The three banks’ collective settlements totalled $24.2 million. . .

Landmark animal welfare legislation welcomed by veterinarians:

The New Zealand veterinary profession welcomes today’s landmark passage of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill which brings greater clarity, transparency and enforceability of the country’s animal welfare laws, further strengthening New Zealand’s excellent reputation for animal welfare.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), which played a key role in helping to shape the Bill, says some of the key changes include the legal recognition of animal sentience, which is sensation or feeling in animals, for the first time in New Zealand law.

NZVA President Dr Steve Merchant says: “Veterinarians are at the vanguard of animal welfare advocacy and public support is behind us in the call for greater clarity on issues concerning animal welfare and increased sanctions for animal cruelty. . .

 

 High prices and volumes for avocado growers:

Avocado exporter Avoco says its growers are celebrating the end of a season where they not only got a bumper crop – but decent prices for their fruit too.

Avoco said strong end-of-season demand from Australia lifted returns for growers – to $15 per tray for large avocados and $14 per tray for smaller fruit.

Avoco director John Carroll said the company exported a record volume of fruit – 4.5 million trays, out of a total 7 million trays – and still managed to get good returns for its 700 plus growers. . .

Anchor Gives More New Zealanders an Organic Milk Choice:

Anchor is making organic milk more accessible to New Zealanders with the nationwide launch of Anchor Organic.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Tim Deane said that with other organic milk brands only available in certain regions or very expensive, Anchor is on a mission to make organic milk more widely available at a fair price.

“We want to put organic milk in reach of more New Zealanders. We’ve done just that through our nationwide distribution and providing Anchor Organic at an everyday price that works out at only about 20 cents extra per glass compared to our standard Anchor milk,” said Mr Deane. . .

Wool Prices Bounce:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a weaker New Zealand dollar, limited wool volumes pressuring exporters and renewed client interest, combined to lift local prices across the board.

Of the 6,350 bales on offer, 99 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 1.79 percent compared to the last sale on 30th April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and longer shears were 7 to 10 percent dearer, stimulated by resurgent Chinese interest with shorter types 3 to 6 percent firmer. . .


Rural round-up

December 3, 2014

Rabobank Agri Commodity Market Research: Outlook 2015:

The fundamentals in the agri commodity markets appear more balanced through 2015. In their 2015 Outlook, the Rabobank Agri Commodities Markets Research (ACMR) analysts, expect narrower trading ranges for many commodities versus 2014. On the demand side, growth has slowed in recent years. However, lower price levels should now encourage consumption growth, which will support prices. Key variables to watch in the year ahead include US dollar strength, uncertain Chinese demand growth, slowing biofuel demand and oil price weakness.

Stefan Vogel, Global head of Rabobank (ACMR) said, “All in all, 2015 will be another interesting year for agri commodities. Macro drivers remain very much in play and price swings from supply and demand shocks are still likely, given that the stocks for most commodities are not yet at levels necessary to provide an adequate buffer.” . . .

NZ tractor sales hit decade high in Q3 on record dairy payout, high kiwi – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand tractor sales hit their highest level in a decade in the third quarter as farmers benefiting from this year’s record milk payout and the high local currency bought new equipment.

Tractor registrations rose 8.8 percent to 925 in the three months through September, from the same quarter a year earlier, according to Land Transport Safety Authority figures published by Statistics NZ. The three-month period would have captured orders from the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek in Hamilton in June, helping tractor registrations rise to their highest since the December 2004 quarter when they reached 970.

Farmers have been increasing their spending on equipment such as tractors, farm bikes, milking machines, irrigators, ploughs and harvesters this year as cash flows were boosted by Fonterra Cooperative Group’s record payout to dairy farmers of $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2013/14 season. Also helping drive sales was the higher value of the local currency, with the kiwi touching a record 82.03 in July when measured against a basket of major currencies on a trade-weighted basis, reducing the price of imported farm machinery. . .

 

Former Gordon Stephenson Trophy-Holders Reflect On Busy But Successful Year:

Winning the National Winner title in the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened up a whole world of opportunity for Canterbury farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie.

The Mackenzies handed over the Gordon Stephenson trophy to fellow Cantabrians Mark and Devon Slee in June 2014, but they are still as busy as ever.

Over the last 18-months they have hosted a string of national and international visitors on their intensive arable farm near Methven. As ambassadors for sustainable agriculture they have also travelled widely, spreading the sustainability message throughout New Zealand and overseas.

Earlier this year they toured Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, where they studied arable farming, dairying and beef production. A key aim of the trip, facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, was to exchange views on topics of crucial interest to New Zealand farmers and to showcase New Zealand’s stance on agricultural sustainability. . .

Shareholders pleased with Synlait Milk results:

Shareholders who attended Synlait Milk’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders today were pleased with the company’s solid financial performance and continued progress in the 2014 financial year.

Managing Director Dr John Penno discussed the annual results and outlined the focus for the 2015 financial year (FY).

“We’re pleased that we delivered on the promises we made last year by meeting our prospective financial information (PFI) forecasts. Our $19.6 million net profit after tax (NPAT) was in line with our PFI forecast of $19.7 million, and that’s a good result for our shareholders,” said Dr Penno. . .

 

A budget for farm wages always worth the effort – Chris Lewis:

There has been a lot of comment in the media and by the trusty keyboard warriors on what farmers should be paying staff and whether they are paying enough.

This week we are going to show farmers one correct way of paying staff, but this is only an example. No one size fits all and you may need to make changes to suit your individual circumstances and employees.

Before you start to hire staff, do a staff budget like you do for feed budgets showing deficits and surplus’s each period. If your staff requirements are anything like mine you will have found a need to hire additional staff for spring to manage the additional workload and time off needed through calving. . .

Consultant appointed to investigate Bee Industry restructure:

New Zealand’s bee industry has appointed a consulting firm to advise the industry on how best to unify under one peak representative body.

To date the industry has been represented by several bodies and membership

organisations, a situation that is inefficient and that stifles industry development said Kim Singleton, Chair of the Interim Industry Working Group established to manage this project.

“This process is about exploring options that provide a more effective and better resourced industry organisation and to do that we need an outside look in.  That’s why we’ve brought in a consultancy firm.” . .

Entries Closed in 2015 Dairy Awards:

A total of 539 entries have been received in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, including the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

“It’s a great result and we are really thrilled with the response,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. “Given the circumstances with a lower forecast milk payout, a challenging spring in some parts of the country and a change to the timing of entries being accepted we are really pleased.

“The numbers ensure strong competitions will run in each of our 11 regions and that is great for the entrants, for the competitions and for us as organisers of the awards.” . .


Rural round-up

July 8, 2014

National Ballance Farm Environment Award Winners Ready to Spread the Word:

 

Mark and Devon Slee celebrating their success with their family

 

Winning the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards gives Canterbury dairy farmers Mark and Devon Slee the opportunity to tell some ‘good news’ stories about their industry and New Zealand agriculture in general.

The Slees were presented with the Gordon Stephenson trophy at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The couple was surprised and delighted to receive the award, accepting it on behalf of the entire dairy industry.

Mark Slee says he and Devon are proud to be dairy farmers. . .

 Soil mapping technology a big step forward  – Tim Cronshaw:

Four South Canterbury cropping farmers were so smitten with the precision of a soil sampling machine that they brought it back with them from the United States.

The Veris MSP3 3150 was imported by Colin Hurst and Hugh Wigley, who farm at Makikihi, in Waimate, and Michael Tayler and Nick Ward, from Winchester.

Commonly used in the big corn belts of the US since 2003, the technology is new to New Zealand, with only one other machine here.

The $70,000 machine is towed behind a tractor, and uses electrical conductivity to map paddocks for soil texture, and infrared measurement to detect organic matter, while constantly sampling soils for their Ph levels. . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

New Hort Graduate School launched:

Massey University and Plant & Food Research have formed a new joint graduate school to increase collaboration between the two institutes.

About a dozen Massey masters and doctoral students are studying topics that would in future be offered at the school.

This number is expected to increase with the availability of new research projects and supervisors from Plant & Food Research. . .

Spinal injury doesn’t stop Dave – Tim Cronshaw:

Dave Clouston knew his life would change the moment his pelvis jackknifed to his chest.

The fit farmer, hardened from years of mustering, was at his working peak and had earlier run through the forest to grab a tractor before his next job of stacking hay in a barn.

Clouston had worked his way up as a sheep and beef farmer on some of the best mustering blocks in Canterbury, and the young married man was managing a family business at Whitecliffs.

“I was stacking some hay we had brought in, and there was some loose hay on the floor of the barn. I jumped off the tractor to clear that away, and while I was bending over to do that the hay unsettled enough to come down on top of me – I never dreamed it would do that – from five high. They were big, square bales, and at least a couple hit me, and I was left pinned under one of them with my pelvis under my chest.” . .

 Shades of grey: ag’s power play – Sam Trethewey :

THE discovery of some snowy strands in my dark brown ‘do this week brought me both pleasure and pain – the ‘pain’ of ageing of course stings, but the pleasure was based on the realisation that the older I grow, the more I’ll be taken seriously in Australian agribusiness.

Most Australian business, including agribusiness, uses age-old management styles. It’s a vertical, top heavy system that that needs ‘workers’ not ‘contributors’. The sector has limited time for innovation and is resistant to change. We live in a fast-paced, globalised world and this structure is failing us.

These old school management styles put a lot of power at the top of the hierarchy and from there it’s a top down management approach (autocratic). . .


Wills signs off saying politics matters

July 5, 2014

Federated Farmers retiring president Bruce Wills used his final speech in the role to say politics matters: (The bold is mine)

I want to start this, my final address as National President of Federated Farmers, with a thank you.

Thank you for the privilege of being your President, thank you for your support, and thank you for all the work you continue to do for Federated Farmers and farming.

Three years has flown by.

I have enjoyed doing ‘my bit’ to help farming remain profitable and sustainable, and like our own aspirations with our farms, I feel I have left this organisation in better heart than I found it. I will return to the hills of Hawke’s Bay later today knowing there is a very capable and competent team to take it from here.

Before signing off I want to reflect on the two things that have absorbed much of my time in this role, the economy and the environment.

The economy
Farming confidence is high and some sectors are close to being as strong now as they have ever been.

Our dairy farmers have just received their highest pay-out in history and there is a quiet optimism in the dry-stock sector with the ‘China affect’ now benefitting red meat and wool.

Food and fibre represents an extraordinary 70 percent of this country’s merchandise exports and if done well is entirely renewable. We are well on the way to doubling the value of our agricultural exports to $64 billion by 2025, on the back of an exploding world population and rising standards of living.

 

I cannot stress enough the importance of free and open trade. In six short years, China has become our biggest export partner as well as our biggest import market.

When I joined the Board of Federated Farmers, in 2008, our two way trade with China was $8 billion. Last month we broke through $20 billion and we are on track to exceed $30 billion within the next six years.

Our 2013 trade deal with Taiwan is ramping up quickly and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) remains a prize we must pursue with all the vigour we can.

No question, we have some challenges.
In recent days the New Zealand Dollar has approached all time highs against both the US Dollar as well as the Trade Weighted Index. This will be a significant headwind and may well prompt a slowing in further interest rate rises.

I have continually cautioned about our very high debt levels.

I note a large monthly increase of $842 million to the end of May reaching a total of just under $53 billion now loaned to our farms alone. In light of global uncertainty across many areas I am not sure how sustainable this sort of debt level is.

A few years ago Australian farmers had $70 billion of rural debt and things looked okay. Then came a serious weather event and now $10 billion of this is ‘non performing’ with a good portion of it unlikely to ever be repaid. We run the same risk here.

I have learnt in this role that ‘politics matters.’

For the past six years we have had a Government that has been largely supportive of agriculture. Should we have a change of Government on September 20, this is unlikely to continue to be the case.

Putting these challenges aside, what I have also learnt from my three years with the World Farmers Organisation is that New Zealand farmers are the envy of the world. Everywhere I travel people are stunned how a small island nation, a long way away, can be such a powerhouse when it comes to producing food and selling it competitively to the rest of the world.

I have learnt that we are a grass fed economy and what happens on our farms absolutely matters on Lambton Quay and Queen Street and all the towns in-between.

We are some of the best farmers on the planet and Agricultural exports will continue to pay the lion’s share of this country’s bills for a long time to come.

The environment
This is the flip side of the economy’s coin, the natural resources, which allow us to keep our food and fibre businesses forever renewable.

Three years ago I called for a more open and honest discussion about farming’s impact on the environment.

We have come a long way. The Land & Water Forum got us talking with all the interested parties and we listened to the concerns of others and have pursued a more collaborative approach to resolving our differences.

Getting agreement is not easy but having the science and being well informed on the issues is the key to making sensible progress. We have engaged a lot with parties right across the economy/environment spectrum and this organisation has gained significant credibility from its more reasoned and reasonable approach.

Some believe it is about winners and losers, I don’t. Farmers understand the ‘black and green’ bit well, it is difficult to invest in environmental innovation without running profitable businesses, and we certainly can’t keep farming without resilient long lasting farming practices.

The big issue of my time in this role has been water. How do we maintain and improve its quality in the face of a growing population, and an expanding and changing farm business environment?

The main focus has been the nutrients we lose from our farms finding their way into our streams, rivers and lakes. We can sort phosphorus, which is largely about good management. It is the diffuse nitrogen leaching that remains our biggest challenge.

All farmers, that I know, strive hard to be profitable and most do a wonderful job looking after their land and their water. Being sustainable is good business, and wasting expensive nutrients just doesn’t make sense.

We have seen a rapid land use change to dairying in the last twenty years. This has pushed onto lighter soils and in some areas we are seeing too many nutrients being lost. The science is telling us this and farmers have been responding for some time by fencing water ways, riparian planting, preparing strict nutrient plans and adopting more efficient irrigation.

In some sensitive areas more needs to be done, and again farmers are responding by building feed pads, herd homes or other means of controlling effluent runoff. Less inputs and reducing cow numbers are further options, and more science is needed for some. I am very encouraged at how quickly farmers are responding to this challenge.

I had the privilege last week to be in Christchurch to judge NZ’s top 10 supreme environmental winners from all around the country. They are outstanding operators leading by example, running profitable businesses, but well and truly meeting their social and environmental responsibilities as well. I think it is telling that the national winner was a large scale intensive dairy farm, on some of Canterbury’s lighter soils. This is exactly the sort of farm at the sharp end of this economy/environment conundrum that we are trying to solve.

Mark & Devon Slee milk 2,580 cows producing 1,830 kgMS/ha, or 475kgMS/cow, but with precision farming, smart science and exceptional management, are leaching the same nitrogen they were leaching in the mid ‘90’s with 70% more cows. Their immediate focus is on reducing their nutrient losses even more.

This is a clear example that we can and must do both. Whilst running efficient profitable businesses, we must do this within sustainable environmental boundaries. All the other nine finalists had very similar stories to tell.

I need to congratulate the CEO of Fish & Game, who took up my challenge of coming to this awards evening to see for himself the great results that our leading farmers are achieving and to follow this up with a Fish & Game media release that quoted the following:

“Dairying has never won the top national award before,” says Fish & Game Chief Executive Bryce Johnson. “In winning the coveted Gordon Stevenson Trophy, Mark and Devon are demonstrating that environmentally sustainable and profitable dairy farming is not only possible, but up there alongside the other farming categories that have previously won the top national award.”

To ensure all New Zealanders prosper we must continue to grow our largest industry but we must also look after our environment.

This is our challenge; and as I pack my bags and hand over the reins I am more convinced than ever that this is entirely achievable and our farmers are well on the road to making this a reality.

Thank you.

Wills has left Feds, and New Zealand, better for his service.


Rural round-up

June 28, 2014

Sustainable farming title goes to Canterbury  – Tim Cronshaw:

Canterbury farmers have made it two years in a row after Mark and Devon Slee were named the national winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Christchurch last night.

The Gordon Stephenson trophy, farming’s top environmental and sustainable silverware, was handed to the couple by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Slees topped a field of 10 regional winners in the competition run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE).

Their business, Melrose Dairy, is based on a property portfolio of 1014 hectares in the Ealing district, south of Ashburton. . .

Farming balancing act – Stephen Bell and Bryan Gibson:

The final decision on Ruataniwha Dam represents the way of the future for farming and the environment, which will be balancing competing needs, Massey University ecology Associate Professor Dr Russell Death says.

Farming and environmental groups have cautiously welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry’s ruling on conditions for the $265 million dam in Central Hawke’s Bay.

However, while irrigators said commonsense had prevailed, one environment group said the decision meant the scheme’s viability was questionable.

“I guess to a certain extent both parties are right,” Death said. . .

Dam may be feasible after all – Marty Sharpe:

The correction of a relatively simple but hugely significant error in the 1000-page draft decision of the board of inquiry into the Ruataniwha dam proposal means the project may now be viable.

The board’s final decision on the dam and associated plan change was published yesterday, and corrected an “unintended consequence” in the draft decision, which inflamed farmers, farming organisations and the applicants – the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and its investment arm.

The draft decision held all farmers in the Tukituki catchment responsible for keeping the level of dissolved nitrogen in the river at 0.8 milligrams per litre of water. . .

 

Wanted: young farm workers for the future –  Gerard Hutching:

Need a sharemilker? How about employing a foreigner? Or perhaps a young New Zealander?

At the same time as the agricultural sector needs a big boost in the workforce, it has become harder to entice young people on to farms.

But it is not just a question of working on farms. The primary sector is facing a significant shortfall in skilled staff across the board, as the Government attempts to meet the ambitious target of doubling exports by 2025.

Within the primary sector, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ report People Powered, support services is the area of most acute need, followed by horticulture, forestry, the arable industry, dairy and seafood. Only the red meat and wool sector envisages a fall in workers by 5100. . .

Farming app replaces notebooks, calculators: – Anne Boswell:

A barrage of questions from his knowledge-hungry sons led dairy farmer Jason Jones to develop a livestock management application that removes the need for notebooks and calculators.

Handy Farmer, a highly-customisable app for iPhone and Android, was launched earlier this year, eight years after the idea was born.

Jones, a variable order sharemilker of 470 cows on 140ha effective near Otorohanga, said his sons started asking him “all sorts of questions” as they were learning the ropes of the dairy industry. . .

 

Online fruit and vege sales boom – Hugh Stringleman:

Online buying of fruit and vegetables is growing quickly and customers are more discerning and are prepared to pay more, the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Connections conference in Auckland has been told.

Four speakers gave perspectives from supermarket chains to fruit-and-vegetable stores.

New Zealander Shane Bourk, vice-president fresh food for Wal-Mart in China, said e-commerce was huge in China, although fresh fruit and vegetables lagged. . .


Rural round-up

March 31, 2014

Drought relief some way off – Mike Dinsdale:

Northland’s drought-stricken farmers can’t expect any rain relief over the next two weeks as an urgent call goes out for help with grazing and supplementary feed.

This week most of Northland’s west coast, from Cape Reinga to Pouto Pt, has been classified a localised drought area under government regulations for a small-scale adverse climatic event, covering an estimated 400 dairy farms and 700 sheep and beef units.

It’s the third drought in four years in the area and there’s little chance of any significant rain to end the drought for at least the next two weeks. . . .

 ‘Green’ dairy farming proves profitable – Tina Law:

Mark and Devon Slee are proving dairy farmers can remain profitable while adopting techniques to care for the environment.

The South Canterbury couple, who have 2640 cows on 1014 hectares at Ealing, south of Ashburton, won the supreme award at the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards, announced last week.

Mark Slee said it was great to win the award, and he and Devon were keen to highlight the good environmental practices they had adopted.

“There is a lot of concern about the expansion of dairying, and we just wanted to be out there saying ‘this is what we are doing with our property’.

“It’s worthy of mention,” Slee said. . .

Farmer’s win more significant after near death – Diane Bishop:

Four months after suffering a near-fatal cardiac arrest, Kaiwera farmer John Chittock is at the top of his game.

The 55-year-old won three of the four events at the Mossburn sheep dog trials this month – the short head and yard, the straight hunt and the zig-zag hunt with Blue, Pod and Angus, respectively.

Chittock said he had won two hunt events at a district competition before, but this was the first time he had won three events in almost 40 years of dog trialling.

“I took it with a grain of salt.

“It wasn’t until people started congratulating me that I thought it was pretty special,” he said. . .

Picking up the pace – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confirmation last week of a record milk payout forecast came with a commitment to stay on course, but pick up the pace.

The forecast cash payout of $8.75 a kilogram of milksolids is 42% more than last season and the first-half revenue of $11.3 billion was up 21%.

Full-year milk production in New Zealand is expected to grow 7% and that means farms will receive nearly $14b this year, at least half of which will be spent in the regions.

However, normalised earnings and net profit in the first half of the financial year were only half those of the previous corresponding period because high commodity prices have slashed margins on value-added products. . . .

Powell wins Shepherd of the Year competition:

The 2014 Shepherd of the Year was awarded to Jason Powell on March 27 after a successful tour of the farm he works on, while answering questions from the two judges Shayne Rankin and George Tatham about his role.

He won $4500 in cash and prizes and the two merit placegetters, Jakeb Herron and Cameron Dallas, both won a Lister handpiece.

The inaugural competition was part of the Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year competition.

The Farm Business of the Year winners were Don McCreary and Anna Johnston and a field day was held on their farm in Hinakura in the Martinborough area.

Of the seven finalists in the Taratahi Shepherd of the Year competition, three were ex-Taratahi students, including Powell.  . .


Rural round-up

March 23, 2014

Irrigator wins Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

IrrigationNZ congratulates Mark and Devon Slee on taking out the main prize at last night’s Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Mark is a board member of IrrigationNZ with an irrigated dairy farm in Ealing within Ashburton District employing 13 full time and two part time staff.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says Mark and Devon’s sustainable irrigation practices and investment in technology played a large part in their win.

“Mark and Devon are among our top performing irrigators because of their significant investment in technology and personal commitment to reducing their environmental footprint,” says Mr Curtis. . .

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of ‘No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw’,” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week. . .

Minister signs new conservation accord:

An accord between the newly established $100 million NEXT Foundation and the Government was signed in Nelson today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The NEXT Foundation is an incredible deed of generosity which has the potential to deliver huge steps forward for conservation in New Zealand. This Accord is about providing the right framework for DOC to partner with the Foundation and to ensure we maximise the conservation gains from this huge investment,” Dr Smith says.

“There are two key elements to the Accord. The first is in ensuring these funds go to new projects that are out and above the work the Government would have ordinarily done. The second is in providing a commitment that the conservation gains are maintained into the future. . . .

Ministers leading agribusiness delegation to South America:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are leading an agribusiness delegation to Chile and Colombia from 23-28 March.

“Latin America is a valued trading partner for New Zealand and a fast growing region,” says Mr Groser. 

“Our relationship with Chile is thriving with a high level of engagement in areas such as energy and environment, agriculture and education. They are encouraging New Zealand business to explore future investment opportunities and we hope to build on this.

“In Colombia we are aiming to build a greater understanding of the market, through a range of farm visits and meetings with local Ministers and authorities.” . . .

Arable research body sets strategy:

The Foundation for Arable Research has just launched its next three-year strategy, which aims to keep arable farming a good viable option for farmers.

Chief executive Nick Pyke says the key points include making sure they have the right people doing the research and having leading research that has the ability to make a difference for farmers.

He says arable farming is buoyant at the moment and they want that to continue. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 2): The Definition of a Family Farmer – Greg Peterson:

Chipotle’s videos depict today’s farmers as huge, industrial farmers, concerned not about ethics and animalwelfare, but motivated rather by greed and money. This could not be further from the truth!

There are over 2 million farmers in this country. Each of whom are working long hours, braving extreme weather, and tirelessly caring for land and livestock. How many of those farmers are family farmers? 96 percent of them, according to the USDA, including the farm I work on with my brothers, my parents and my sister. In fact, I’ve never actually met a farmer who isn’t a family farmer! Have you? I’m sure there are a few out there, but even then, do you really think a farm run by non-family members would operate any differently from those that are? . . .

Rural Women™ International Year of Family Farming Roadshow kicks off next week:

Four South Island towns will be celebrating the International Year of Family Farming next week, as the Rural Women NZ roadshow series gets underway. Three North Island events will follow in early April.

“Rural Women NZ has always backed families working on the land, and in the rural communities that surround them,” says Liz Evans, who is promoting the Rural Women NZ roadshow to be held in Marlborough’s Rai Valley on 30 March.

“For this reason, we were ‘first in’ to initiate a nationwide programme of events to support the UN International Year of Family Farming, a timely opportunity to celebrate the dedication and contribution of farming families, past, present and future.” . . .

Lick block increases lamb survival in triplet bearing ewes:

Significant improvements in lamb survival have been demonstrated by using Crystalyx blocks in a University of Auckland trial in Southland.

Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks were provided as a supplement to ewes from three weeks prior to lambing through to weaning and resulting in an 11% increase in lambs presented for docking, compared to the control flock.

Barry and Julie Crawford’s Rosebank Farm near Gore was the venue for the trial to determine the benefits of targeted supplementation on triplet bearing ewes. . . 

The Rosebank property is part of the FARMIQ programme. . .

Seed Industry Opens New Office in Templeton, Christchurch:

The New Zealand seed industry is pleased to announce the official opening of its new office in Templeton, Christchurch.

The opening on Wednesday was officiated by the Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, and attended by over 100 VIPs and guests including Kelvin Coe, the Mayor of Selwyn District.

“It’s a huge honour for our industry to have the Minister officiate and his acknowledgement of the vital importance of our sector to the wider primary industry,” says General Manager Thomas Chin. . .


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