Rural round-up

January 26, 2020

New policy might limit farming – Neal Wallace:

Farmers fear new biodiversity policy could force councils to make them restore areas of indigenous flora and fauna on their land.

The Government has released its proposed draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which leans heavily on councils to identify, monitor and manage areas with significant indigenous biodiversity.

Within five years councils will have to identify and map significant natural areas using standard national criteria, manage any adverse effects on those areas and survey native wildlife in and outside the areas to determine if they are threatened or affected by land use activities. . .

Sarah’s Country: Are we fit for a better world? – Sarah Perriam:

Sarah’s Country’s debut episode focuses on the key elements of this vision for New Zealand that includes a swing towards regenerative agriculture, capturing the value of the billion-dollar plant protein trend and offsetting our carbon emissions with environmental integrity, not ‘thin air fake’ credits.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Kate Scott. Kate is a director of LandPro and a 2018 Nuffield Scholar living in Central Otago. . .

Farm sales start to look up:

Farm sales were down 21.6% for the three months ended December 2019 versus the year prior ­— but sales look to be lifting.

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows that farm sales increased by 22.3% in the three months ended December 2019 compared to the three months ended November 2019, with 345 and 282 sales respectively. . .

$8 payout possible – Peter Burke:

The guessing game has begun to predict what dairy farmers will get for their milk this season.

The consensus in the sector is that the price will be positive: numbers ranging from $7.15/kgMS to $7.50/kgMS, although ASB rural economist Nathan Penny is sticking his neck out and suggesting it could reach $8/kgMS.

Fonterra says its forecast is in the range of $7.00 to $7.60 with the midpoint being $7.30.

Dr. Mitloehner issues warning on increasing herd sizes – Charles O’Donnell:

While there is not necessarily a need to cut herd sizes for the purpose of climate change mitigation, increasing numbers is also not the way to go, according to Dr. Frank Mitloehner.

Dr. Mitloehner, a well-known professor and air quality specialist, was speaking at an event called ‘Climate Action in Agriculture: A Balanced Approach’ in Dublin today, Tuesday, January 21, which was organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The German-born Californian-based professor spoke out against the perceived necessity to cut herd sizes. However, when asked about the growing numbers of animals in the dairy industry, he warned that going in the opposite direction by increasing numbers would pose a climate issue. . . 

Government urged to block high carbon food imports :

Britain cannot risk importing food with a higher carbon footprint than food which has been produced in the UK, a new report says.

Released by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), it says British farming produces some of the most sustainable food in the world and that emissions from UK beef is half that of the global average.

Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK presents a detailed range of options to drive emissions reductions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 25, 2020

Innovation for the future – Samantha Tennent:

When the call of the land became too strong Mat Hocken answered by swapping his business suit for overalls and gumboots to champion the agricultural sector and agricultural innovation. Samantha Tennent reports.

Manawatu farmer and Nuffield Scholar Mat Hocken believes innovation will help the agricultural sector unlock some of the issues and concerns it faces.

So when he received a Nuffield Scholarship in 2017 he chose agri-innovation as his research project.

The scholarship is a prestigious rural leadership programme with a global focus, designed to fast-track the development of emerging leaders in the agri-food sector. Each year up to five scholarships are awarded to people who are expected to assume positions of greater influence in their field in the future. . . 

Scientist says methane from farming should be treated differently to CO2 – Kevin O’Sullivan:

It does not make sense that Ireland is regarded as producing more greenhouse gases than Los Angeles, a city of 13 million people, a US scientist has told a conference on climate action in agriculture.

Prof Frank Mitloehner from the University of California, Davis, told the Irish Farmers’ Association event in Dublin that the case for methane arising from farming being treated differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, such as CO2, was undeniable.

He said that methane, the main greenhouse gas in livestock production, only lasts in the atmosphere for 10 years, whereas CO2 persists for up to 1,000 years, he said. Methane was short-lived but carbon from fossil fuels was “a one-way street” to rising emissions. . .

Central Otago farmer comes up with simple idea to help firefighters in an emergency – John McKenzie:

It’s a simple idea that could save both lives and property across Central Otago.

Otago farmer and regional councillor Gary Kelliher has started fitting fire hose fittings to his farms irrigation scheme, in hopes other farmers will follow suit.

“My goal is right across certainly Otago, but even further afield across New Zealand where it’s dry and where we have irrigation schemes,” he said.

The fittings are quick and easy to install, costing just a few hundred dollars. . . 

Marlborough dairy farmer fears logging operation will destroy property – Tracy Neal:

A recently widowed Marlborough dairy farmer says a logging operation that has sprung up on a neighbouring property is likely to destroy her farm.

Lone Sorensen, who farms in a valley between Havelock and Blenheim, is enraged that a paper road through her property could become a major transport route for trucks and heavy vehicles.

The Marlborough District Council said it was doing what it could to smooth the pathway for all. . . 

Valley of the Whales –  Bill Morris:

The North Otago limestone country holds one of the world’s most important fossil cetacean records, a coherent story of how whales and dolphins evolved in the Southern Ocean. It’s a story that one small rural community has embraced as its own.

BURNS POLLOCK AND I stand in the Valley of the Whales, a deep gulch cut by the Awamoko Stream through the North Otago limestone. Formed on the floor of an ancient sea, this terrain is now far from the ocean, its thin skin of agriculture desiccated by drought.

I’ve often been fascinated by the dramatic contours when travelling through this valley. But it also holds narratives, bound into the cliffs and sculpted recesses—Waitaha rock art hundreds of years old, and the story of evolution embodied in the stone itself. I’ve brought Pollock here because I want to see the place through the eyes of someone who knows it as well as he does. He grew up in this district and has farmed here all his life. He is also a noted artist and his work—sere vistas cradling broken fragments of human endeavour—is unmistakably rooted in this landscape. . . 

Eight young Fruit Growers vie for title

• Emily Crum, Orchard Manager, Total Orchard Management Services, Whangarei
• Bryce Morrison, Technical Services and Innovation, Fruition, Tauranga
• Aurora McGee-Thomas, Trainee Orchard Manager, Strathmurray Farms, Tauranga
• Melissa van den Heuvel, Industry Systems Associate, NZ Avocado, Tauranga
• Katherine Bell, Avocado Grower Representative, Trevelyans, Katikati
• Megan Fox, Orchard Technical Advisor, Southern Cross Horticulture, Tauranga
• William Milsom, Machinery Operations Manager, Oropi Management Services, Oropi
• Harry Singh, Orchard Manager, Prospa Total Orchard Management, Opotiki . . 


Rural round-up

January 22, 2020

China deal gives US beef an edge over NZ producers – Pattrick Smellie:

A range of import restrictions affecting New Zealand beef exporters to China will be swept away for their American competitors as part of the new “phase one” US-China trade deal signed in Washington DC on Wednesday.

However, US producers will continue to face tariffs on beef as high as 47 per cent while New Zealand beef exports enter the Chinese market duty-free under the free trade agreement in place since 2008, according to initial analysis of the deal by the Meat Industry Association. Details were still emerging, but newly appointed MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva told BusinessDesk there was no suggestion “that I can see” that New Zealand lost its tariff advantage over US exporters to China. . . 

Application for GMO ‘imitation blood’ raises concerns:

Foods Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has received an application seeking approval for the GE Imitation blood ingredient used in the Impossible Burger to enter the food chain.[1]

The application does not have the proper safety profile for approval of the bacterial ingredient, called leghemoglobin (SLH), derived from genetically engineered soy.

The “imitation Blood” ingredient used in the Impossible Burgers to make them “sizzle like blood” has been trialled in select meals on Air New Zealand flights from the USA. This circumnavigates NZ regulations, because the ingredient cannot be sold in this country. . . 

Drop in China meat prices not expected to last – Alan Barber:

It is difficult to see any real reason for panic over the sudden pre-Christmas reduction in demand for sheepmeat and beef from Chinese importers which has led to prices coming off their peak. Livestock suppliers will already have noticed a drop in schedules from the elevated levels processors had been paying over the first couple of months of the season. It’s tempting to fear the worst given past experience with high prices paid by meat processors which have inevitably been followed by a sudden crash and a long slow recovery. This time the situation really does seem to be different, if you look at the fundamental demand for product in China.

In discussion with AFFCO Group Sales & Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, he sees the current situation as more of a hiccup, with traders collectively liquidating inventory in advance of Chinese New Year and the need for cashflow to cover large shipments of South American beef on the water. . .

Hawke’s Bay deer farmers pay record $102,000 for stag – Blair Voorend:

Two Hawke’s Bay men have set a New Zealand record, paying more than $100,000 for a velvet stag at a recent sale in Southland.

At the Brock Deer Sire and Stag sale, Hawke’s Bay deer farmers Jeremy Dearden and Grant Charteris paid $102,000 for the prized velvet stag, $12,000 higher than the previous New Zealand record.

Elliot Brock, of Brock Deer, told Andy Thompson on The Muster radio show that they were over the moon with the haul but that they were expecting to get something in that region. . . 

Robotic technology is revolutionising farming– Mark Ross:

From weeding and spraying crops to taking care of cattle, digital technology is making its mark on agriculture.

Self-driven vehicles are picking and grading fruit as well as detecting and pollinating flowers. Now the latest technology involves detecting and managing disease – helping farmers to become more productive and sustainable. Modern agricultural machines take away some of the more time-consuming tasks and help to protect crops from disease with exact doses and targeted applications of products.

In the last decade, there has been an unprecedented growth in precision farming – with about 80 percent of new farm equipment using it. This advanced digital precision technology can help farmers to use land efficiently and maximise harvests while reducing costs and workloads. . .

Cheesemakers Encouraged to Enter NZ Champions of Cheese Awards

Entries are open for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020, which will for the first time have three Supreme Champions.

To ensure the Awards represent the all the country’s cheesemakers from boutique producers through to the very large cheese companies and every producer in between, three Supreme Champion Awards will be made this year. The Countdown Champion of Champions Commercial category for producers making more than 100 tonnes annually and Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions Boutique for companies making less than 10 tonnes per annum will be joined by the New World Champion of Champions Mid-sized category for producers who make between 10 and 99 tonnes annually. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 1, 2019

Why low morale in a good season? – Peter Burke:

Low morale and uncertainty in the dairy industry appear to be overshadowing the positive outlook for the sector.

The latest ANZ Agri Focus reports a huge range of positives for the sector, yet the bank’s agricultural economist, Susan Kilsby, says dairy farmer confidence is the lowest they have seen in more than 20 years.

The biggest thing impacting farmer confidence is the uncertainty about Government regulations on environmental legislation, she says.  . .

Good farmers must change too -Annette Scott:

Freshwater and climate will be the big drivers of change in balancing competing interests and farmers are not the bad ones in the equation, Ecologic Foundation chief executive Guy Salmon says.

The problem is not that farmers are bad, Salmon told the Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum at Lincoln University.

“It is the institutes and incentives they face that are not the right ones.

“Yes, we need to find new ways of using land, water and greenhouse gas.

“My core argument here is farmers are grounded in this type of thing, they have always had values and bottom lines. They could be a model in the new way of NZ we are trying to form.” . .

Rules to add costs to councils – Neal Wallace:

Regional councils face higher costs, increased staffing needs and delays in implementing water plans because of the Government’s Essential Freshwater policy proposals, they warn.

While there is uncertainty about the effects until the proposed national policy statement freshwater standards are finalised, some councils say the new standard should be incorporated as plans are reviewed but others face long and involved processes.

Six regional councils approached said they face significant costs to plans and need more staff. . .

Carbon absorption on your farm :

New Zealand farmers can now estimate how much carbon their tree blocks are sequestering.

This follows a new addition to OverseerFM. The carbon stock tool in OverseerFM uses data from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Carbon Look-up Tables to estimate the carbon sequestration potential for existing and future tree blocks on a farm.

The new tool adds to OverseerFM’s existing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions analysis tool, which models the farm’s biological emissions (methane, nitrous oxide) and carbon dioxide as well asproduct footprint. . .

Cubbie Station tours Murray-Darling councillors through its controversial cotton holding to show there’s no water – Lydia Burton and Nathan Morris :

A controversial Queensland cotton producer has opened its gates to Murray-Darling Basin councils in an attempt to turnaround its poor reputation among drought-ravaged communities.

Cubbie Station — Australia’s largest cotton farm based in south-west Queensland — has come under pressure in recent years over its water use and impacts downstream.

Cubbie CEO Paul Brimblecombe said the tour allowed local government representatives from all Basin states to see the station and the drought for themselves.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to get out on the ground and put the full story in front of them,” he said. . .

Only a small % of what cattle eat is grain, 86% comes from materials humans don’t eat – Lauren Stine:

The plant-based industry wants you to believe that crops, like soy, corn, and barley, are mostly being fed to livestock, but according to the United Nations FAO, grain makes up only 13% of global livestock feed.

Only 13% of global animal feed (all animals for food, including chickens, pigs and cattle) is comprised of grain crops, according to United Nations FAO research, and only 32% of overall global grain production in 2010 was used to feed livestock.

A staggering 86% of global livestock feed consists of materials that we cannot digest as humans, like crop residues including stover and sugarcane tops. Pigs and chickens are also monogastrics (like humans) and cannot digest these products either. However, ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, and goats can safely consume these materials and turn them into nutrient-dense protein for humans.  . .


Rural round-up

August 26, 2019

Time to stop shaming farmers – Rowena Duncan:

The recent Will to Live Tour gets The Country Early Edition host Rowena Duncum thinking about rural mental health.

Just last month I had a bad day. We all get them. I felt like there’s so much negativity out there aimed at farmers.

A few hours later though, I got a swift reality check in the form of a passionate and switched-on 21-year-old imploring more than 200 people in Balclutha to remember “how good we are at what we do” and to “be bloody proud to be a farmer”.

By the time you read this, the Will to Live charity’s ‘Speak Up Tour’ will have just completed its 13th event, with four still to come later this month. . .

Restored wetland in the Waikato shows how farmers can hugely improve water quality.:

Gray Baldwin has spent five years undoing work his grandfather did on the family’s South Waikato farm – and he’s thrilled with the result.

He and wife Marilyn own 713ha south of Lichfield, near Putaruru. They have a 200ha dairy farm running 900 cows and 160ha planted in maize. The rest of the property is in forestry or retired land.

“We’ve been there since 1955,” Gray says. “I’m the third generation, my son runs the farm and we’ve got three grandsons running around the place now.” . . 

The rest of the story about animal agriculture and climate:

Frank Mitloehner is on a mission.

In the wake of a United Nations report pinning much of human-caused global warming on animal agriculture and promoting veganism as the logical alternative, Mitloehner, a professor of animal science and air quality specialist at the University of California-Davis, wants to set the record straight.

In doing that, he is encouraging farmers and ranchers to tell the public, as radioman Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”

While the U.N. report pointed out that cattle and other animals do indeed produce the greenhouse gas methane — no secret there — he says the U.N. and “special friends” such as anti-animal agriculture activists and vegan promoters leave out important facts. . .

Estuary ‘riddled’ with whitebait:

Key to improving water quality is increasing NZ’s wetlands – after 90 per cent were drained.

It’s not everyone who can relax after a hard day’s work, throw out a line and hook a snapper for dinner from their own backyard.

Tapora dairy farmer Earle Wright can. Yet his good fortune is not due to luck or some inside knowledge about a secret fishing spot.

Rather it is a payback for years of effective environmental stewardship of his 120ha farm, a property backing on to an estuary in the Kaipara Harbour north of Auckland. . .

Cost should not shut borrower out of mediation sharemilkers say:

The Sharemilkers Section of Federated Farmers strongly supports the Farm Debt Mediation Bill (No 2) but would like to see changes to ensure a borrower isn’t shut out of the process because they can’t afford it.

The legislation could make it compulsory for lenders to make funds available to farmers to fund their share of mediation costs, Sharemilkers Chairperson Richard McIntyre told the Primary Production Select Committee this morning.

Alternatively, it could require the lender to fund the mediation, “which we as a sector would no doubt fund indirectly through increased fees”. . . 

Zanda McDonald Award winners have bright futures – Jessica Johnston:

TWO young guns are making great strides in the northern beef industry, proving the future of agriculture is in safe hands.

The passion and commitment to their chosen careers has seen Queenslander Shannon Landmark and the NT’s Luke Evans offered a unique mentoring opportunity under the Zanda McDonald Award, which recognises outstanding young professionals in the ag sector.

Ms Landmark, 28, was born in Mount Isa to a mining family, and garnered an interest in agriculture throughout her time in regional Queensland. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 1, 2019

Climate change should not be blamed on farming alone – Anna Campbell:

My mother has returned from visiting my brothers who live in England. To make that trip, she was responsible for contributing more than three tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.

After finding this out, my mother who is a farmer, is feeling pretty outraged that in New Zealand farmers are the ones under attack for climate change. She is vowing to fly less and write letters of concern – why is the New Zealand Government so focused on agriculture while tourism flies under the radar – so to speak.

My mother has a point, according to data analysed by Dr Frank Mitloehner, a professor of air quality at the University of California, Davis. He has reviewed the full carbon life cycle of livestock products and transportation and has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals . . .

Successes or failures riding on Lindis minimum flow decision – Sally Rae:

‘‘You don’t just get a free ride here at all.’’

Tarras farmer Jayne Rive sits at the kitchen table of the Cloudy Peak homestead in the Ardgour Valley, her piercing blue eyes ever-animated as she talks about the uncertainty involved with securing irrigation water for the family farming operation.

In late January, Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson adjourned the hearing of, and reserved the court’s decision on an appeal brought by the Lindis Catchment Group and the Otago Regional Council against an ORC decision which, among other things, imposed a minimum flow of 900 litres per second for the Lindis.

The LCG was proposing a 550 litres per second minimum flow, saying that level was crucial to enabling irrigators to have sufficient reliability of supply.

Ms Rive has been part of that group, which represents irrigators using Lindis River water. Going through the process has been ‘‘incredibly worrying, incredibly draining and incredibly frustrating’’. . . 

Breeders seek seed law overhaul – Richard Rennie:

Plant breeders are seeking an overhaul of New Zealand’s plant variety legislation, claiming the existing act risks putting NZ behind the rest of the world in varieties grown or developed here.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association general manager Thomas Chin said successive governments had dragged their feet when it came to updating this country’s 30-plus year old Plant Variety Rights Act. 

However there was now an opportunity for breeders to push for changes to the act,as the government seeks industry submissions on options to reform it. . . 

Stock agent reflects on varied life – Yvonne O’Hara:

A prostate cancer diagnosis led to Rural Livestock Ltd stock agent Terry Cairns, of Invercargill, making significant changes to his business to ensure job security for those who worked with him.

He has been a stock agent for almost 40 years, but trained as a lawyer, and has driven livestock trucks, worked on farms and worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

”I came to the job by a rather circuitous route, leaving school to train as a lawyer, which did not work that well,” Mr Cairns said.

”Roman law, the Goths, the Vandals, the legal system and other things pertinent to the noble profession didn’t hold my attention. . . 

Barn boosts milk take – Samantha Tennent:

Farming on a waterfront comes with flood risks and for Tony and Fran Allcock.

One or two floods each year is the norm.

Their 97-hectare property at Te Rore, west of Hamilton, runs along the Waipa River. It has been in their family for 130 years and Tony is the third generation to farm it.

The soils are heavy, mostly Horotiu sandy loam with some river silt and every winter 8ha goes under water. To help combat the weather the Allcocks built an Aztech cow barn, which they have dubbed the MOO-Tel, in 2013. . . 

Long White Cloud Genetics:

Long White Cloud Genetics is overwhelmed to announce the forming of a South Island based medical cannabis company focused on local production & manufacturing, creating new career opportunities and supporting local communities. Based in the South Island, Canterbury is the backbone of New Zealand’s farming and agriculture industry and is etched deep in its history.

Long White Cloud Genetics is currently in the process of designing and developing a high- tech indoor cultivation facility. Ultimately creating long term career opportunities in South Canterbury, which is home to some of the best farming technology and agricultural research and development. We have strategic partnership opportunities that will allow us to hit turnovers of 20M+ NZD annually which we intend to not only fulfil but to put some of that money back into local community projects and support mental health here in New Zealand. . . 

Can Minnesota save its dairy farms? – Greta Kaul:

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture rolled out a state program that aims to inject cash into the state’s struggling dairy industry.

More than 1,100 Minnesota dairy farms closed up between 2012 and 2017, leaving only about 3,600 farms in an industry beset by years of low milk prices and a long, hard winter that delivered enough snow and wind to collapse the roofs of at least two dozen dairy barns.

The Minnesota Legislature passed the $8 million Minnesota Dairy Assistance, Investment and Relief Initiative (DAIRI) this year, in response to crisis in the dairy industry in Minnesota, the seventh-biggest dairy producer in the United States. . .


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