Rural round-up

June 17, 2018

Infected cattle bring opportunity for study – Sally Rae:

It will not be possible to control Mycoplasma bovis if an eradication attempt fails, given the present lack of understanding of the infection and the “gross inadequacy” of existing diagnostics, Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says.

Otago-based Prof Griffin, whose career has focused on animal health research, described that as the “sad reality”.

He believed the Government’s decision to attempt eradication first was the correct one, even though it brought considerable public liability for taxpayer funding. . .

TB work will help fight M. Bovis:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis could be supported by the 25-year legacy of co-operation between OSPRI/TBfree and AgResearch in tracking and researching bovine tuberculosis.  Richard Rennie spoke to Dr Neil Wedlock, one of the country’s senior bTB researchers on what can be learned.

Collaboration between AgResearch scientists and disease control managers at OSPRI TBfree and its predecessor the Animal Health Board has led to important technical breakthroughs resulting in a drastic reduction in the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in livestock.

Eradication of TB from the national herd by 2026 will be hailed as a disease control success story but there are some challenges to deal with before that happens. . . .

Trio share their travels through hills and valleys – Toni Williams:

You can’t go from mountain to the next mountain without going in the valley,” says farmer and author Doug Avery.

Mr Avery, along with Paul ”Pup” Chamberlain and Struan Duthie, was guest speaker at a Rural Support Mid Canterbury session at the Mt Somers Rugby Club rooms.

Rural Mid Cantabrians were encouraged to ”take a break” with the trio as they spoke of their life experiences – the ups and the downs.

From front-line policing during the 1981 Springbok tour, reaching rock bottom farming in drought-stricken Marlborough to cracking open emotions, they shared it all.

All three spoke of the importance of having a mentor, or a support network of people to help when times were tough. . .

Pure taste sours :

Meat companies have asked Beef + Lamb New Zealand not to launch the Taste Pure Nature origin brand in North America fearing it will confuse consumers and give competitors a free ride.

The Lamb Company, a partnership between the country’s three largest lamb exporters Alliance, Anzco and Silver Fern Farms, has spent 54 years jointly developing the North American market.

Its chairman Trevor Burt fears the origin brand will clash with its Spring Lamb brand. . .

Climate change discussion ‘direction of travel’ is positive – Feds:

The National Party’s five principles on which it will base emission reduction policies, including science-based and taking into account economic impact, are spot on, Federated Farmers says.

The Opposition’s support for a bi-partisan approach to establishing an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission was outlined by Leader Simon Bridges in a speech at Fieldays this morning.  National’s three other emission reduction criteria are technology driven, long-term incentives and global response.

“We’re delighted that the Coalition Government, and now National, have both signaled their recognition that there’s a good case for treating short-lived greenhouse gases (such as methane) and long-lived (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) differently,” Katie says. . .

Different treatment of methane the right thing for global warming:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is pleased to see a differentiated approach, to treat methane differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, being given serious consideration in New Zealand’s climate change policy dialogue.

“Policy must be underpinned by robust science and be appropriate to the targeted outcome. If the outcome we want is climate stabilisation, then the science is telling us to treat long-lived gases differently to methane in policy frameworks” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther . . .

This generation of women not just farm wives anymore – Colleen Kottke:

For many generations, the heads of farm operations across America were likely to be men clad in overalls wearing a cap emblazoned with the logo of a local seed dealership or cooperative.

Back then, most women were viewed as homemakers who raised the children, kept the family fed and clothed, and were delegated as the indispensable “go-fer” who ran for spare parts, delivered meals out to the field and kept watch over sows during farrowing – all the while keeping hearth and home running efficiently

Although many of these duties were important to the success of the farm, they were often looked upon as secondary in nature. Today women are stepping into the forefront and playing more prominent roles on the farm and in careers in the agribusiness industry once dominated by their male counterparts. . .


Rural round-up

October 12, 2017

Better communication will bridge rural urban divide – Hayden Dillon:

The farming community needs to step up to help lessen the rift between city and country.

I believe the debates during the course of the recent election campaign oversimplified some issues that are core to the agri sector, such as water and soil quality. These have created divisions that are not helping New Zealand move forward.

As with many complex issues, the rush to simplify the discussions and debate has seen farming, in particular dairying, blamed for many of our environmental problems.

That’s simply not correct. . .

Appreciate world’s best office :

Stopping to appreciate the small things in life really helps people handle the big stuff. 

That was one of the messages coming through loud and clear from farmers involved in rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong, project leader Gerard Vaughan said.

Over the last two years Vaughan and video maker Nigel Beckford have been busy interviewing Kiwi farmers about what they do to keep well and avoid burnout.

They’ve been sharing the best tips and advice in short video clips on the Farmstrong website – http://www.farmstrong.co.nz. . . 

It’s not smart to tough it out on your own:

It’s Mental Health Week and the theme is “Nature is Key – Unlock Your Wellbeing”.

The idea is to escaping stressful or ‘same old rut’ work and home environments to eat your lunch in a park or at the beach, to take the family for a weekend bush walk, etc.  It can lift spirits, put you back in touch with Nature, and get you thinking about your health, your priorities – and whether you may need to reach out for help or advice.

Federated Farmers President Katie Milne welcomes the focus on mental health and talking through issues and feelings with others.  “Our great outdoors can also be a wonderful tonic.”

But for rural folk, Mother Nature can also be a source of considerable stress.  Storms, floods, ailing livestock, droughts, etc., can ratchet up financial woes, relationship strains and the feeling ‘it’s all too much’.. . .

Mental health support needed for farmers – Alexa Cook:

A Waikato farmer is pushing for the government to provide better mental health support for the rural sector.

Research shows that the suicide rate in New Zealand’s rural sector is up to 50 percent higher than in urban areas.

Dairy farmer Richard Cookson has had his own struggle with mental health, and said while there is good crisis support for farmers, such as the Rural Support Trust, there isn’t enough for depression.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Mr Cookson said a good start would be free counselling to get farmers in the door, but the sector also needs quite specific help. . . 

Media accepts pseudoscience drivel unchallenged – Doug Edmeades:

 Damn it all. Someone is not listening and I am now forced to repeat myself. My last column ended thus:

“Without an independent principled fourth estate we may be drifting away from being a society in which our policies are based on evidence, rational thought and logic analysis and which encourages and embraces criticism. If we are not careful we could drift back to a time when humans believed in alchemy, witches and taniwha”.

In this last week, as if on cue, three media outlets coughed up three items of demonstrable drivel.

Exhibit 1: The NZ Farmers Weekly (October 2) gave their opinion page to Phyllis Tichinin in an article headlined, Urea cascade cause of problems. She attributes many animal health, soil and environmental problems to the overuse of urea. Opinion yes, evidence no. Her whole thesis fails the logical test of cause and effect. How can one thing – in this case urea – have so many unrelated effects? As one qualified reader expressed it to me: “I struggle to find one fact or one statement that isn’t a falsehood.” . . .

Is this synthetic food thing for real? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Synthetic food is being talked about rather more than it is being eaten.

The balance might change in future as the technologies develop, but at the moment there is more hype and interest than hunger and intake.

The Impossible Burger seems to be the focus at the moment. The burger is made in the laboratory from wheat (grown in a field) and involves a ‘haem’ from legumes. The haem is pink (it is responsible for the colour in healthy, nitrogen-fixing clover root nodules) and so confers the burger with ‘bleeding’ properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Doug Avery – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Marlborough Proud Farmer Doug Avery whose Resilient Farmer platform aims to deliver powerful support to New Zealand farmers across the three pillars — financial, environmental and social. Through road shows and ongoing mentoring, he helps farmers to adopt new thinking and practices. Check out his best selling book The Resilient Farmer, and his website http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz for more information .
How long have I been farming?

46 years but I am only involved in the directorship of the business now and financial control.
What sort of farming are you involved in?
We grow wool, meat, crops , dairy support and people. . .

Fieldays growth underlines primary sector importance:

The importance of the primary sector to the New Zealand economy is emphasised today by Fieldays’ 2017 Economic Impact Report.

A report prepared by the University of Waikato Management School’s Institute of Business Research, reveals that the biggest agricultural expo in the southern hemisphere, generated an estimated $238 million to New Zealand’s GDP, an increase of 24.7 per cent when compared to 2016.

Federated Farmers’ Board member Chris Lewis is particularly familiar with Fieldays and regards the event as a key indicator to how the country is faring. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 16, 2017

Young farming families able to buy Landcorp farms:

A National Government will help young families into their first farms by allowing young farmers to buy state owned farms after they’ve worked the land for five to ten years.

“The Government owns a large number of commercial farms through Landcorp, but there is no clear public good coming from Crown ownership and little financial return to taxpayers,” Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“We think that some of these farms are better off in the hands of hard working young farming families who are committed to modern farming and environmental best practice. . .

National to strengthen bio-security rules:

A re-elected National Government will strengthen biosecurity rules, toughen penalties for stock rustling and help exporters add value, National Party Primary Industries Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“These policies will help grow and protect the primary sector sustainably, and support our goal of doubling the value of our exports to $64 billion by 2025,” Mr Guy says.

“We are proud to support the primary sector which is the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy, helping us earn a living and pay for social services. . .

Adapting dryland farming to climate change:

Seven years of dry weather and relentless wind erosion in the early 2000s had devastated the Flaxbourne-Starborough landscape of South Marlborough, one of the country’s earliest farmed areas.

Doug Avery’s Grassmere farm Bonaveree was one of those affected. “Over-grazing during the long dry was harming the financial, environmental and emotional sustainability of the farm,” recalls Barbara Stuart, regional co-ordinator of the NZ Landcare Trust (NZLT). “People like Doug were stressed, heartbroken, even a bit ashamed about what was happening.” . . 

AFFCO’s first chilled shipment unloaded in China – Allan Barber:

AFFCO chairman Sam Lewis visited China last weekend to greet the first container of AFFCO chilled meat to arrive for distribution to eager food service and retail customers throughout Henan Province in east-central China. The arrival was marked by an official reception at Zhengzhou attended by the NZ Trade Commissioner Liam Corkery, MPI representatives Dave Samuels and Steve Sutton, and a Kangyuan executive. According to Lewis the speed of customs clearance for the consignment was a record for meat shipments, taking no more than three hours for the whole process.

The distributor, Kangyuan Food Company, has cool storage and frozen storage facilities and imports more than 10,000 tonnes of meat annually from New Zealand, Australia and South America to supplement its own domestic processing capacity of 600,000 sheep and 100,000 cattle. Kangyuan is also the largest distributor of Halal product in China. . .

Time to walk the talk – Allan Barber:

There are large operators, small suppliers, traders and third party agents and, in times of tight livestock supply, the lines between them start to get a bit blurred and the classifications move around, depending on who is making the judgement.

From a competitor’s perspective one company’s large supplier is a trader who is always presumed to earn a massive premium over schedule, far higher than loyal suppliers who don’t have the same bargaining power. Of course it’s invariably other companies that are the guilty parties when it comes to using third party agents, generally the stock firms. As always the truth isn’t quite so simple. . .

Irish dairy farmers fortunate that consumers drinking ‘real milk’ – Caroline Allen:

While Irish liquid milk producers have been protesting about the possibility of a milk price war, there is still an appreciation of milk as a healthy natural product in this country, Mary Shelman, former director of Harvard Business School’s agri business programme, told AgriLand.

Shelman who is the “absentee owner” of a 475ac farm in Kentucky, which is a cash grain operation divided between corn and soya beans, was in Dublin last week to deliver a number of addresses. She was at UCD’s Michael Smurfit School and also delivering lectures for Bord Bia’s talent programmes, including the Origin Green Ambassador programme. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Politicians blame dairy farm ‘villains’ for water pollution – Peter Jackson:

One of the more disturbing aspects of this election campaign is that we are being invited to vote for, or against, future taxes that will not be quantified until some time after the next government has been formed.

Casting a vote always involves an element of trust, especially under MMP, where proposed policies come up for negotiation in the process of forming a government.

This is wonderful for politicians, who know full well that come September 24 they will be able to trade away what they promised 24 hours earlier. . . 

Composting barns can be a dairy solution – Keith Woodford:

There is increasing recognition that 24/7 paddock wintering of cows is not the way forward for New Zealand dairy. The challenge is to find solutions. These solutions need to achieve good environmental management, they need to be animal friendly, and they also need to make economic sense.

Over recent months I have been on a personal journey of learning about composting barns. That journey is ongoing and I have more to learn. But I am now at a point where I am confident that composting barns can be a major part of the strategic solution for New Zealand dairy. They can be win-win-win for the environment, for animals, and for profitability.

There is one important qualification to the above statement. It is that none of us yet have all of the answers for New Zealand conditions. Also, there is evidence that some farmers are going into composting barns with a poor understanding of the critical factors for success. . . 

The Resilient Farmer – Beatties’ Book Blog:

The Resilient Farmer

Doug Avery

Penguin

RRP $40.00

‘I am filled with rage. So much rage. I raise my fists to that impassive sky and I bellow like a bull. And those clouds, those beautiful, dark, moisture-filled clouds, vanish out to sea. And my wife, who has also felt the lash of my anger and my nasty,

drunken misery, watches me through the windows of our front room, and is afraid and helpless.’

By turning his thinking around not only did it save his farm from ruin, it also saved his marriage and probably his life. . . 

DairyNZ election draws in farming expertise:

Two positions on DairyNZ’s board have attracted six dairy farmer candidates for this year’s director election.

From September 25, levy-paying dairy farmers will vote for their preferred candidates – farmer colleagues whose experience and leadership could help shape DairyNZ priorities and objectives.

Electionz.com returning officer Anthony Morton says levy-paying farmers will have a month to vote. . . 

The most dangerous phrase in the English language? We’ve always done it this way.

Kiwi Ingenuity of “Black Water Rafting” Continues to Thrill – 30 Years On:

The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company Celebrates 30 Years

One of New Zealand’s most iconic adventure tourism offerings – Black Water Rafting – celebrates 30 years this month. Pioneers within New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry, Waitomo’s Legendary Black Water Rafting Company was born in 1987 – taking visitors through Waitomo’s glowworm studded underground world in inner tubes. Thirty years later, today hundreds of thousands of adventure seekers have taken part – including Peter Jackson, Chelsea Clinton and Katy Perry.

The idea for Black Water Rafting came from Waitomo local Pete Chandler – who developed the business along with partner John Ash – and New Zealand’s first professional adventure cave guide Angus Stubbs – who is still with the company and also celebrates 30 years service this month. In 1987 Pete enticed adventurous backpackers to experience Black Water Rafting for $10, the team drove their branded ute around encouraging adventure seekers to enjoy the underground thrill. . .

 


The Resilient Farmer

August 31, 2017

Marlborough farmer Doug Avery had already faced more than his fair share of difficult times when successive droughts through the 1980s and 90s  struck.

It got so bad that he hated to go outside and despair turned to depression. He treated that with alcohol and anger, neither of which helped.

The turning point was a meeting addressed by  Lincoln University professor Derrick Moot.

Doug became a convert to lucerne and started working with the environment rather than against it.

He not only turned himself and his farm around, he used what he learned to help others become more resilient on their farms, in their businesses and their lives.

He’s told his story to many different audiences and now he’s written it in The Resilient Farmer, weathering the challenges of life and the land.

It’s an honest and simply written account of  his life and troubles which could have sunk him and nearly did. It’s sad in places but far from being depressing, it’s an inspirational read.

It’s one of the best stories of or by a farmer I’ve read but that doesn’t mean it will only appeal to people interested in farming and farmers.

The book would make a great gift for Fathers’ Day but that doesn’t mean it would only appeal to men.

It would  be of interest to a wide audience, men and women, country and town.

The Resilient Farmer is co-authored by Margie Thomson with a foreword by Sir John Kirwan.

It’s published by Penguin Random House with a retail price of $40.

 

Doug has a website Resilient Farmer.

Doug and Wendy are interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon.

There’s more on Doug here

 


Rural round-up

June 6, 2017

Queen’s Birthday Honours: Doug Avery:

Doug Avery
MNZM
For services to agriculture and mental health

Douglas Avery is a farmer in the Awatere region and has contributed to developing farm and land practices, as well as being a spokesperson for mental health issues within the farming community.

Mr Avery has successfully adopted land use techniques to drought-proof his farm and has spoken to audiences around New Zealand, Australia and Argentina about his new farming systems that have provided a basis for sustainable environmental and financial growth. . . 

Progress made: farming leader – Dene Mackenzie:

Federated Farmers president William Rolleston is calling for better recognition of the efforts farmers are making in ensuring the improvement in water quality.

Speaking at the Local Government NZ conference, Dr Rolleston said his message to the non-governmental organisations was for them to understand the dynamic and sheer hard work so many farmers put in every day.

The NGOs needed to realise science was providing the tools which would make a difference and was already showing, in most catchments, simply slashing numbers was not the only or the best solution. . .

Pledge to make rural waterways swimmable – Peter Burke:

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord is a rock solid commitment by dairy farmers that they are taking action to make rural waterways swimmable.

So said DairyNZ’s chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle, speaking at the release of the three year review of the accord recently.

Mackle says many waterways running through dairy farms are already swimmable but no one is in any doubt that more has to be done. . .

‘Get out and tell your stories’ – Nigel Malthus;

Canterbury dairy farmers are being urged to get involved in telling positive stories about their industry.

Cameron Henderson, of Oxford, told attendees at a recent DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum held at Lincoln University’s Ashley Dene farm that farmers are “a bit p***ed off with how the media is portraying us”.

“Yes, we have some changes to make, but the media is blaming us for a whole lot more than that, and I think it’s something we farmers want to do something about.” . .

Massive dairy plant rising – Nicole Sharp:

Block by block, Mataura Valley Milk’s $240million milk powder manufacturing plant is coming together.

The company has reached the next stage of the project, announcing on Monday it would start laying utilities infrastructure this month which would connect the McNab plant to Gore.

About 5km of utilities would be laid, the route following MacGibbon Rd, then passing under the Mataura River to River St, before heading south to the Gore District Council’s oxidation ponds. . .

Big input cuts, production barely wobbles:

Reducing nitrogen on pasture need not be a detriment to great results when it comes to dairy farming, research by the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) shows.

The SIDDC (South Island Dairying Development Centre) runs the Lincoln University Dairy Farm on behalf of the university.

In 2010-11, the centre determined the farm should focus on productivity and efficiency to lift profitability, and operate within its historical environmental footprint. . .


Rural round-up

January 26, 2017

Katikati’s growth meets stubborn Remuera farmers – Scott K. MacLeod:

It’s a classic clash between urban growth and farmers.

Katikati’s population has grown from 3000 to 4500 in just 15 years, and one of the best places for new development is northeast towards the coast.

Water pipes are in place, the land is mostly flat, and the area is sandwiched by Park and Beach Rds radiating from the town’s centre.

The problem is, 50ha of that land is owned by Remuera farmers who simply don’t want to sell – even for big bucks. One estimate put the land’s value at $60 million if subdivided. . . 

Wool a way forward in filter technology – Sally Rae:

Not-so woolly thinking has gone into developing technology touted as having the ability to improve global health.

Auckland-based Texus Fibre recently signed an investment and distribution agreement with another Auckland company, Healthy Breath Ltd, which would have the wool-based Helix Filter from Texus used in a new generation of urban masks marketed to Asian consumers.

Specifically-bred sheep, developed by Wanaka man Andy Ramsden, would be used to provide the wool.

Rural community still stressed after Kaikōura earthquake – Alexa Cook:

It is more important than ever to check on neighbours and friends, says Doug Avery, a leader for mental health and resiliance in farming.

Mr Avery is a sheep and beef farmer in the Marlborough region, between Ward and Seddon, an area badly damaged by the 14 November’s Kaikoura earthquake.

He said while most farms were back on track, it was evident people were still having a tough time.

Case for regional trade deals like TPP remains strong:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) says the case for regional (and other) trade deals remains very strong, regardless of the recent decision by the US to withdraw from the TPP agreement. DCANZ emphasises the importance of New Zealand continuing to prioritise regional and global agreements within an ambitious agenda for trade liberalisation.

“The link between trade and the prosperity of nations is well established and strong” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. “By expanding market opportunities, trade creates jobs, promotes resource use efficiency, and better positions economies to invest in infrastructure, education and social services. Agricultural trade supports food security and geopolitical stability”. . . 

Fonterra moves to reassure shareholders after Beingmate slashes guidance – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has sought to reassure shareholders after its Chinese partner Beingmate Baby and Child Food Co slashed its full-year guidance.

Shenzen-listed Beingmate now expects to report a full-year net loss of 750 million yuan to 800 million yuan, double its prior forecast loss, according to Reuters. In the prior year, the company reported a net profit of 103.6 million yuan.

“We are confident in our overall China strategy, of which our Beingmate partnership continues to be an important part,” said Fonterra’s chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini in an emailed statement after Beingmate’s announcement. Fonterra bought an 18.8 percent stake in Beingmate in 2015 as it sought to ensure greater access to the Chinese market.

Speed shearing at Middlemarch – David Loughrey:

A small Strath Taieri community with a reasonably recently formed young farmers club is set to run its second speed shearing event.

 The second Strath Taieri Young Farmers speed shear competition is scheduled for Saturday week.

The event will include competitions for farmers and novices, former shearers, and intermediate, senior and open grade shearers.


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