Rural round-up

May 12, 2019

Changing GM policy will be good for the environment and Carbon Zero – Dr William Rolleston:

The Opportunities Party’s new policy on genetic modification(GM), which lines up with Australian law, has given New Zealand farmers hope that they too may be able to use genetic modification in their battle to improve water quality and mitigate climate change towards Carbon Zero.

During my time as Federated Farmers president, farmers, in response to scientific evidence, shifted their focus from increasing production to reducing our environmental footprint.  

We can continue to produce food and fibre while putting the least demand on our resources by improving productivity, benefiting both environment and farmer.  Local councils recognise this by regulating for environmental outcomes rather than blindly restricting inputs – for example, low water nitrogen targets rather than limiting fertiliser or cow numbers. . .

NZ embracing gene-editing is a ‘no-brainer’ – Geoff Simmons – Finn Hogan:

Successive New Zealand governments have been “deaf to developing science” says The Opportunities Party (TOP) leader Geoff Simmons.

TOP is calling for deregulation of a form of gene editing called CRISPR, a technique that can be used to remove undesirable traits from an organism or add desirable ones.

Gene editing (GE) could be used for things like removing the genetic trigger for cystic fibrosis in a person, making manuka more resilient to myrtle rust or helping kauri trees fight dieback. . .

African swine fever in China will affect NZ dairy sector: report – Sally Rae:

China’s devastating outbreak of African swine fever will have a spillover effect on the dairy sector, a new report by Rabobank says.

China is the world’s largest pork producer and accounts for about 50% of pork production globally.

The African swine fever epidemic was expected to reduce the country’s pork production by 25%-35%, resulting in increased demand for other animal proteins but lower demand for feedstuffs, the report said.

Rising demand for beef could constrain China’s milk production if dairy cow culling accelerated to fill some of the gap in animal protein demand. . .

From gate to plate’ farming on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

When Ali and Dion Kilmister were looking to save on transport costs they bought their own stock truck, which Dion now drives. And when they wanted to sell their beef and lamb direct to customers, they set up their own online meat delivery business. 

With seven farms to run, the husband-and-wife team has had to rely on creativity and self-sufficiency. If there’s something they need, they make it a reality. 

Their farms are spread out across 200km from Dannevirke to Wellington. While operating over such a wide area has its problems, it also has distinct benefits.  . .

Bring on the tough challenges – Andrew Stewart:

Being the boss isn’t easy and it’s even harder going solo on tough hill country prone to long, cold winters and dry summers. But for Taihape farmer Mairi Whittle it’s her dream come true. Andrew Stewart called in to see how she’s getting on.

The Taihape to Napier highway is a sometimes snaky road surrounded by vast landscapes and prominent landmarks. 

Clean, green hills stretch as far as the eye can see and this strong farming country produces sought-after stock. 

But it can be a brutally challenging environment to farm in too. Winters at this altitude are long, cold and punctuated by snowfalls. Summers are becoming increasingly dry with rain far less dependable after the holiday period.  . .

Court rules dairy factory illegal:

SYNLAIT remains committed to its $250  million Pokeno factory despite a court decision that means the plant was built in breach of covenants restricting use of the land.

The milk powder maker says it is confident it can find a solution to the ownership problem now afflicting most of the land on which the factory stands because of the Court of Appeal decision.

That ruling effectively means the factory was built in breach of covenants on the land.
When Synlait bought the 28 hectares of land in February 2018 it was conditional on the seller, Stonehill Trustee, obtaining removal of that restricted its use to grazing, lifestyle farming or forestry
. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 10, 2018

Farmers are up to the challenge of meeting climate change targets – William Rolleston:

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its special report on the actions needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  This, it said, would require “transformative systemic change” involving “far-reaching, multilevel and cross-sectorial mitigation”.

The report says limiting warming to 1.5C implies reaching net zero CO₂ emissions globally by around 2050 and “deep reductions” in short-lived gases such as methane.

The report recognises that, as a long-lived gas, CO₂ accumulates in the atmosphere, whereas methane from agriculture (while a strong greenhouse gas) is recycled through the system. . . 

Farmers act on sustainability:

Taihape farmers are exploring ways to ensure environmental sustainability while improving the profits from their sheep and beef farms.

The Taihape Action Group formed under the Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network, which had its first get-together in July, comprises nine farming businesses within a 50km radius of the central North Island town.

It is at an early stage of the profit-growing process. 

The farmers involved are developing individual action plans that set out the on-farm changes they want to make. . . 

The power of a farmer’s story – Jennie Schmidt:

Christmas is a season for stories. We tell tales about the Nativity and the three kings. We also laugh about the time when Uncle Klaus wore the awful sweater to the family dinner.

Stories are the most powerful form of communication available to us. That’s why the four most compelling words in the English language may be: “Once upon a time.”

Farmers don’t always appreciate this fact, especially when we’re discussing our own business of agriculture. We’re inclined to mention inputs and outputs, moisture levels, yields, commodity prices, and more. You know: farmer talk. 

The challenge increases when our conversations turn to technology, and especially when they involve new technologies, including GMO crops, gene editing, and so on. At this point, our rhetoric can sound like boring passages from science textbooks. They’re about as interesting as the homework that none of us miss from our school days. . . 

Waikato farmers acting early on effluent management:

We talk to three Waikato farmers involved in our Dairy Environment Leaders programme, about how they’re managing effluent on their farms.

Ian Taylor, Puketaha

When constructing a new effluent pond, Ian set his sights firmly on the future, by choosing a system that far exceeded minimum standards.

He’d been planning an effluent pond for a while, but was waiting on results from a project investigating how effluent runs through peat soil. However, a very wet spring last year prompted him to act earlier than expected. . . 

Smith keen to work with farmers – Annette Scott:

New primary industries director-general Ray Smith is a self-acclaimed passionate Kiwi who wants his fifth generation New Zealand children to experience a bit of the NZ he grew up with. He talked to Annette Scott on a visit to meet farmers in Ashburton.

Just three weeks into his new job as primary industries director-general Ray Smith was hungry for information and couldn’t get his teeth into his new patch soon enough.

He heard about a meeting being facilitated by Federated Farmers in Ashburton for farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and made a call to ask if he could invite himself. . . 

China remains the key to dairy prices – Mark Daniel:

China remains the key to where the global marketplace is heading in dairy prices, says Westpac economist Anne Boniface.

Speaking at a recent Owl Farm focus day at St Peters School, Cambridge, Boniface said China’s growth had slipped from 6.9% to 6.3% in the past 12 months.

However, she believes Chinese consumer spending is still strong, with any economic slowdown due to a squeeze on credit for larger capital projects. . . 

How precision agriculture can transform the agritech sector and improve the lot of every Indian farmer – Shruti Kedia:

Using big data, satellite imaging and Internet of Things, Precision Agriculture can help address low productivity, lack of farm mechanisation, access to markets, and increase crop yields.

In 1965, India’s green revolution led to a sharp increase in crop yields and farmers’ income. Decades later, could a tech revolution change the way this agrarian country farms?

The answer is, yes it can. In fact, it already is. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 27, 2018

Renewed calls for essential rural healthcare:

A petition calling on the Government to deliver for rural New Zealanders and provide essential healthcare for 600,000 rural New Zealanders has been tabled in Parliament by Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger.

“Rural New Zealanders remain frustrated with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor’s failure to ensure vital health services are provided to rural New Zealand and are angry about the Government’s decision not to continue funding for the Rural Health Alliance. . .

’Best science since Rutherford split the atom’ – Sally Brooker:

New Zealand scientists are trialling genetically modified ryegrass they believe could revolutionise agriculture.

South Canterbury farmer, biotechnologist, and former Federated Farmers national president William Rolleston says it’s the best Kiwi science since Ernest Rutherford split the atom.

AgResearch has developed a ryegrass with high metabolisable energy (HME) that can grow up to 50% more quickly than conventional ryegrass, store more energy, be more drought-resistant, and produce up to 23% less methane. . .

Farmers keen to expand tech use – Toni Williams:

Electronic identification tags, scanning wands, weighing scales, farm business courses and drone use to check on animal welfare are all management tools used by Mt Somers deer farmers Duncan and Lorna Humm to improve, and add value, to their deer operation.

The young couple run a deer farm on a 43ha property, nestled near the foothills of the Southern Alps. Duncan isa fourth-generation farmer. The farm has been in his family since the mid-1960s, after his great grandparents moved from dairy farming near Kaikoura.

His parents, Christina and Bryan — now retired — ran sheep and cattle before diversifying a section of the property to deer in the 1990s. . . 

Making the leap from city to country:

Chloe Mackle was scared of the dark and anything that moved – but when she was challenged to try dairy farming, she decided to go for it.

Chloe Mackle After growing up in North Shore, Auckland, her first day on the job was a massive learning curve. “

All I knew was that my milk came in a bottle and my meat in a packet,” says Chloe. Now she is a farm manager and likes nothing better than working with cows and hanging out with her golden Labrador Nala . . .

Golden Shears on silver screen – Beckie Wilson:

Shearing a sheep is said to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, and that is what documentary director Jack Nicol hoped to prove in his new movie, She Shears.

Following the life of five female shearers gunning for glory at the Golden Shears, the portrayal of each woman is “quite delightful”, according to Masterton-based champion shearer Jills Angus Burney.

Angus Burney is one of the five whose story is told in the movie, produced by Miss Conception, which will be shown to the public for the first time next month at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

“Part of my role is the narrator, because I’m the old bag who retired,” she said. . .

Trade war chickens home to roost: Billions of pounds of meat fill US warehouses with nowhere to go:

More than 2.5 billion pounds of meat and poultry produced by US farmers have been stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses with the amount expected to grow further, according to the latest federal data.

Record production of beef, pork, poultry and turkey has become increasingly dependent on exports as US consumers cannot buy up the huge amount of meat. That would drive down prices for American consumers, restaurants and retailers. However, the recent import tariffs imposed by the country’s trade partners on the wide range of US goods, including agricultural produce, have slowed down sales of US meat and poultry abroad. . .


Rural round-up

January 1, 2018

Former Federated Farmers president William Rolleston heads agricultural honours list – Gerard Hutching

Farming leaders who made a contribution touching many New Zealanders’ lives have been recognised in the New Year honours list.

Receiving an award was humbling on a personal level, said former Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston, but real recognition needed to go to the thousands of farmers who “continue to produce the food which feeds us three times a day and sustains our economy.”

Farming and science advocate Dr William Rolleston

Feds leader from 2014-17, Rolleston has been awarded with a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM). He said during his tenure farmers had “started on a journey which will be to the environment what the 1980s reforms were to the economy”. . . 

Sheep and beef farmers buoyed by strong prices and demand – Gerard Hutching:

Sheep and beef farmers are more upbeat about prospects than at any time since November 2014, the latest Beef+Lamb NZ confidence survey shows.

Confidence has risen to 59 per cent, up 16 per cent, since the last survey in August and has been attributed to strong product prices, growing demand for meat from an increasing population and belief in the quality of the product farmers are producing.

All regions showed a positive sentiment, with the strongest in the eastern North Island and central South Island. . . 

Govt gives to trusts to help drought-stricken farmers:

Little showers of rain over the last week have not been enough to end the drought that is getting its grip on coastal farmland, Brian Doughty says.

He’s a trustee of the Ruapehu/Wanganui Rural Support Trust, which will get a share of $160,000 announced by Government on December 23.

The money will go to trusts supporting farmers afflicted by drought along the lower North Island’s west coast. The dry spell has been called a “medium scale adverse event”. . .

Fonterra Revises Milk Collection Forecast:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised the forecast for its New Zealand milk collections for the current 2017/2018 season to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids (kgMS), down from its forecast in November 2017 of 1,525 million kgMS.

Fonterra’s revised forecast of 1,480 million kgMS is down around 4 per cent on the 2016/2017 season which itself was negatively impacted by weather conditions. . . 

Disagreement over stock truck effluent disposal site– Pam Jones:

The Central Otago District Council (CODC) and Otago Regional Council (ORC) are at odds over the siting of one of two proposed stock truck effluent disposal sites in Central Otago.CODC roading committee chairman Dr Barrie Wills told councillors at a committee meeting in Alexandra recently that the ORC was “bulldozing” the CODC into accepting its proposal.

The ORC proposed new sites on State Highway 6, near the Highlands Park corner, near Cromwell, and on SH85, near Brassknocker Rd, between Alexandra and Chatto Creek, Dr Wills said.

Councillors supported the SH85 site, but thought it was “entirely inappropriate” to have a site on SH6, just before the Kawarau Gorge. . .

Fighting in Italy for the freedom to farm – Giorgio Fidenato:

I may be the world’s most embattled farmer.

My goal is simple: I want to grow good crops on my small farm in the northeast corner of Italy. This includes a variety of GMO corn that European regulators approved for commercial use nearly 20 years ago.

Yet Italian government officials and political activists keep getting in the way, blocking me with new regulations and violent attacks on my land. . . 


Rural round-up

June 26, 2017

Targeted approach wanted for water – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers is seeking a ”targeted catchment approach” to addressing water quality, where sustainable economic growth could be achieved alongside environmental goals.

The rural lobby organisation has launched its manifesto before this year’s election, challenging political parties to take a sensible, practical and affordable approach to tackling issues of high importance to its members.

It supported a framework for catchment partnerships that co-ordinated community, council and scientific efforts. . . 

Feds want affordable rural issues solutions – Neal Wallace:

Water quality issues should be addressed by targeting individual catchments, Federated Farmers says.

The policy was included in the federation’s Farmers’ Manifesto that advocated a “sensible, practical and affordable” approach to tackling issues of relevance to rural areas.

On water quality, the federation’s outgoing president Dr William Rolleston said that approach would allow sustainable economic growth alongside environmental goals.

“We support a framework for catchment partnerships that co-ordinates community, council and scientific efforts. . . 

She’s the boss – Neal Wallace:

It takes very little prodding for new Federated Farmers president Katie Milne to identify that her number one priority is reconnecting urban and rural New Zealanders.

That split was the root of many accusations levelled at farmers over water quality and environmental issues as well as deterring people from pursuing careers in agriculture, she said.

“Because of all the flak we’ve been getting lately from Greenpeace etc, NZ needs to remember that farmers produce great food, which is important economically and to the sustainability of local communities.” . . 

Boosting safety at Mahinerangi – Sally Rae:

Waipori Station manager Dave Vaughan readily acknowledges the topic of health and safety wouldn’t have been brought up a few years ago, if it didn’t have to be.

But much had changed in recent years, he said, and it was now something regularly and freely discussed among the 14 team members.

At 12,000ha, Landcorp-owned Waipori Station is a vast property, surrounding Lake Mahinerangi, in the Otago hinterland.

Mr Vaughan and his wife Hayley have been there for five years. Before that, he managed another Landcorp property at Hindon. . . 

NZ King Salmon lifts annual earnings guidance on appetite for fish – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon Investments expects annual earning to beat its offer document forecast on strong demand for its products and affirmed its projected profit for the following year.

Pro-forma operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation is forecast to be between $20.5 million and $21 million in the year ending June 30, up from the $19.2 million predicted in its October offer documents and ahead of $16 million a year earlier, the Nelson-based company said in a statement. . . 

LIC increasing its investment in UK agribusiness:

LIC is increasing its investment in National Milk Records PLC (NMR), the leading supplier of farm management recording services in the United Kingdom.

The farmer-owned co-operative currently holds a 2.6% stake through its subsidiary business, Livestock Improvement Corporation (UK) Limited. The acquisition of another 17.2% will take LIC’s total shareholding of NMR to an equity stake of 19.8%. . . 


Feds 1st female president in 118 years

June 23, 2017

Federated Farmers’ new president, Katie Milne, is the first woman to hold the office.

West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne is the new Federated Farmers’ National President- becoming the first woman in the Federation’s 118-year history to hold the presidency.

Ms Milne succeeds Dr William Rolleston who steps aside after his three-year tenure.

A previous Federation Board member and West Coast Provincial President, Katie was Dairy Woman of the Year and a Rural Woman of Influence in 2015.

She contested the position with Anders Crofoot who was vice-president.

Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard was elected National Vice President while South Canterbury farmer Miles Anderson takes over as National Meat and Fibre chair with Rick Powdrell stepping aside.
Waikato farmer Chris Lewis takes over as National Dairy Industry Chair succeeding Andrew Hoggard.

North Canterbury farmer Lynda Murchison has been elected as one of two Board members at large alongside Chris Allen who was reappointed.

Arable chair Guy Wigley remains on the Board pending next week’s arable sector AGM. . .

Federated Farmers like all voluntary organisations faces challenges with membership but still plays a vital role advocating for the farming industry and rural people.

Feds and its president play a very important role, especially now farmers are such a small minority and the rural-urban gap is widening.


Rural round-up

June 8, 2017

Te Mana lamb – Jo Elwin:

Standing high on a hill on Minaret Station was no place to be this cold, blustery snow-on-the-way day, but there I was, exhilarated and remarking at the pretty white faces of the lambs being shepherded around us. “They are very good looking sheep,” says Matt Wallis, one of four brothers who own the station, “but we are careful who we say that around.”

It was one of many quips from Matt and his brother Jonathan as they helicoptered me around their 50,000 acre property, which has no road access but enjoys 27km of Wanaka lakefront. Matt’s focus is the hospitality side of the business. . . 

New stock exclusion rules require greater flexibility – Feds – Nigel Malthus:

New rules excluding stock from waterways are coming, but they have to be sensible, practical and affordable, says Cathy Begley, leader of Federated Farmers’ water team.

Begley told attendees at the recent Feds South Island high country group conference that the proposals could affect the way they run their farms.

She says that since the Minister for the Environment, Dr Nick Smith, and the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, announced in February the goal of having 90% of rivers swimmable, her group has been making submissions on how farmers could be affected. . .

Rural sector achievements and value highlighted in honours list:

Federated Farmers congratulates all those who received awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year and is delighted to see the rural sector and the people involved in it commended for their outstanding achievements and contributions.

“The number of Queen’s Birthday Honours which have an agricultural connection shows the significant contribution farmers and agribusiness continue to play in New Zealand.

“These awards recognise contributions in science and innovation, mental health, business and the environment indicating the diversity of effort in the rural community,” says Dr William Rolleston Federated Farmers ‘ National President. . . 

Rotorua woman excited and thankful for honour – Shauni James:

Rotorua’s Wendy McGowan is excited and thankful about being made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rural women.

Mrs McGowan has been a member of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) since 1975 and has held offices with the Kaharoa Branch, Provincial and Inter-Provincial Committees.

She said she felt excited about the honour and very thankful to the people who had nominated her. . .

Maori growing part of NZ ag – PM:

Prime Minister Bill English says in most regions Maori now have the potential to become the largest long-term investors.
People are starting to realise Maori are not fly-by-night investors, he says. They are in business – farms, commercial buildings, investments — for the long haul.

English said this at an event celebrating the award of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori sheep and beef farm, this year won by the Omapere Rangihamama Trust farm, near Kaikohe. . .

Rural fuel stop from a paddock – Christine McKay:

A partnership between Pongaroa and Allied Petroleum is a first for New Zealand, pumping profits back into the community.

On Monday the first sod was turned for the Pongaroa Fuel Stop, which will be a driver for community development, thanks to the unique relationship between the fuel company and the community.

“When we were approached about the fuel stop, our overwhelming view was yes,” Paul Peetoom, territory manager for the lower North Island for Allied Petroleum, said. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 7, 2017

Time to give farmers their due – Dr William Rolleston:

It is election year and it seems that for the environmental groups the gloves are off.

We have seen Greenpeace run a series of fundraising ads vilifying dairy farmers and Forest and Bird pull out of the Land and Water Forum. No surprise that both these organisations are headed by ex-Green politicians. Scuttlebutt is that Forest and Bird will re-join the Land and Water Forum after the election. Greenpeace has yet again been accused of misleading the public.

The truth is that farmers are fully engaged in meeting their environmental responsibilities. Up and down the country I have seen catchment groups working to reduce their impact on water quality and address issues of water allocation. . . 

Queen’s Birthday Honours: James Guild:

James Alastair Hay Guild, of High Peak Station, Darfield, has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the deer industry.

Mr Guild is a farmer and tourism operator who has been active in the deer industry for more than forty years.

Mr Guild has been a councillor and President of New Zealand Deer Farmers Association, Director of the Game Industry Board, Director of the Cervena Trust, inaugural Chair of Provelco Co-op Ltd, President of the New Zealand Association of Game Estates, and chaired the organising committee of first World Deer Congress. . .

People at the heart of decades of work for Flaxmere’s new MNZM:

Its third time lucky for the humble Peter MacGregor, who has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Maori and agriculture.

The Flaxmere resident said he felt very honoured to have received the Queens Birthday Honour.

This was not the first time Mr MacGregor had been recognised in such a way – he said he had declined the Queens Birthday honours the first time “some years ago”, and the second time the required paperwork was not completed in time. . . 

Saving seed in case :

AgResearch has deposited a collection of seeds in a remote Arctic doomsday vault to guard against the loss of plant species through war, disease or disaster striking New Zealand.

The deposit was made via an airmailed package to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secure facility on the rugged Arctic Svalbard archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

It is the second delivery of its kind from AgResearch’s Margot Forde Germplasm Centre (MFGC) following an agreement established last year. . .

Socks of many colours for resthome residents – Sally Brooker:

For its 40th anniversary, the Black and Coloured Sheep Breeders’ Association of New Zealand continued its tradition of charitable works.

The association held its annual conference in Oamaru, bringing in more than 50 delegates from across the country. As well as attending meetings and competing with their coloured fleeces, sheepskins, handcrafts and photography, they made time to donate woollen goods to a local rest-home. . . .

Fieldays’ Rural Bachelor competition is back:

Rest easy, New Zealand, the Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year finalists have been found.

Fieldays staff have been scouring New Zealand and Australia in search of the eight most eligible rural bachelors, and they have finally found this year’s stock. The blokes will soon be embarking on a whirlwind week as they vie for the title of Rural Bachelor of the Year, a prize pack worth over $20,000 and a chance at finding love.

Rural Bachelor event manager Lynn Robinson said selecting the finalists was a tough job. . .

 

 


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

May 30, 2017

Engaging Farmers in Fresh Water Management:

Speech to Local Government New Zealand Fresh Water Forum

Dr William Rolleston, President, Federated Farmers of New Zealand

Mayor Lawrence Yule, LGNZ President, Mayors, distinguished guests Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.

Less than 3% of the water on this planet is fresh water and of that only 1/3 is directly available for human use. – . . 

Synlait Forecast Milk Price $6.50 kgMS Next Season:

Synlait Milk’s  forecast milk price for the 2017 / 2018 season is $6.50 kgMS, in response to increasing confidence that dairy commodity prices are stabilising.

Managing Director and CEO, John Penno, says Synlait is feeling positive about the current market, and the forecast milk price reflects that.

“We start the season with some confidence that supply and demand are more balanced, and this forecast reflects an expectation of dairy prices remaining at current levels,” says Dr. Penno. . . 

Synlait Purchases the New Zealand Dairy Company:

Synlait Milk has today announced it has purchased 100% of the shares of The New Zealand Dairy Company (NZDC).

NZDC is based in Auckland, and is currently constructing a blending and canning operation at a site in Mangere. This site will now be owned by Synlait.

The facility will be infant formula capable, and will enable Synlait to substantially lift its blending and canning capacity. The acquisition will also provide Synlait with a high specification sachet packaging line suitable for infant formula and milk powders. . .

Synlait purchases strategic blending and canning assets:

Synlait’s announcement today of the purchase of apparently distressed assets from the New Zealand Dairy Company puts another peg in the board strengthening Synlait’s pathway towards an integrated dairy value-chain. The purchase has relevance both to Synlait and its strategic partner The a2 Milk Company (ATM in New Zealand; A2M in Australia). The unstated key driver is exponential growth of demand for ‘a2 Platinum’ infant formula.

The purchase cost of the assets is $33.2 million with additional expected costs of $23.3 million to make the plant operational by October 2017.

There should be no surprise that Synlait has purchased blending and canning assets to complement its existing similar assets at Dunsandel in Canterbury. . . 

The manuka honey fight is one we have to have – William van Caenegem:

The current row about the certification of Manuka honey, and whether it is a distinctly New Zealand product, is just the latest dispute involving Geographical Indications (GIs). These are markers that products have special qualities due to their origins in a specific region, like Champagne. The Conversation

There is a debate as to whether a registered GI system for food should be adopted in Australia. It might be good for our farmers – to more effectively protect King Island Beef, Bangalow pork or Tasmanian lobster against low quality imitations. But would it be in the best interest of Australian producers and consumers to simply capitulate to demands about New Zealand Manuka, or about GIs in general?

Why GIS?

Registering a GI can stop imitators riding on the coattails of local producers who have worked hard to build the reputation of their typical local product, be it cheese, processed meat or quality fruit. . . 

Image may contain: sky, cloud, text, outdoor and nature

The horrible truth behind marshmallow ranches. Now that they are fat from grazing all summer, they will be slaughtered to make smaller ones, bagged and sold in stores. Some are cut up and held over a fire while still alive! Stop the Madness! remember that golden brown is the only humane  way. – Proud to Be A Farmer

 


Rural round-up

February 16, 2017

Farming leader warns of Post Factual Science:

Our free trade prospects have been a victim of Brexit and the US Presidential election. New Zealand must be careful not to be caught in the crossfire of any ensuing trade war, Dr William Rolleston says.

Rolleston, the President of Federated Farmers, told its National Council in Wellington today that there were opportunities in disruption but our officials would need to play their cards with skill and tact.

“If there is any area of government which needs investment priority right now, it is our trade division,” he said. . . 

Special stock auction raises hope for young cerebral palsy sufferer – Dave Gooselink:

Stock prices were higher than normal today at a special sheep and cattle sale near Oamaru, bringing a big smile to the face of a four-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy.

Charlee McLachlan is used to being around farm animals but the special stock sale raised money to help her undergo lifechanging surgery in the United States, which will go some way towards alleviating her cerebral palsy.

“They go into her spine, they take a bit of her vertebrae out to pull out the spinal cord, and then put electrodes on her legs,” her mother, Anna McLachlan, told Newshub. . . 

The search for new agri-food markets – Keith Woodford:

The proposed 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is now well and truly dead.  The question is where do we go from here?

We are hearing talk from various sources about possibilities for a ‘TPP minus Mr Trump’s USA’. But that too is highly unlikely to happen. Getting Japan, in particular, to agree to something without the USA being involved is wishful thinking. And simply waiting for another four years and hoping the USA might came back into negotiations is also likely to prove wishful.  Both major American political parties know that supporting a new version of the TPP is a sure way to lose the next presidential election in 2020. . . 

Lamb price higher than expected – Sally Rae:

The 2016-17 season average lamb price is shaping up to be a bit over $5 per kg, economists predict.

While that was not quite as low as previously thought, it was still below its five-year average, BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap said.

Lamb prices have lifted some 15% in the UK over the past six months but the plunge in the British pound following the Brexit vote had “offset all of that and then some”, creating very challenging conditions for New Zealand exporters.

Chinese demand indicators have been positive and fewer New Zealand and Australian lambs had added some support to prices.

BNZ economist Doug Steel said the bank’s best guess was that this season’s lamb numbers were similar to, although probably marginally lower than initial industry estimates, perhaps about 23.5million. . . 

Sharemilking payment model has merit but awaiting review says Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers has been concerned for some time at the reduction in herd owning sharemilking opportunities and possible impact on the industry’s future sustainability.
We encourage and support the development of new business concepts that will potentially make sharemilking more attractive and resilient as an industry.
The development of the variable rate payment option for herd owning sharemilkers has some merit, with Federated Farmers party to discussions relating to this option over the past year. . . 

This all-natural native corn is bejeweled with brilliantly colored kernels – Lacy Cooke:

Oklahoma farmer Carl Barnes decided to reconnect with his Native American heritage, so he began a hunt for old, native varieties of corn. He uncovered a brilliant strain of corn now called Glass Gem Cornthat looks almost too good to eat. These all-natural corn ears are riots of color, and are also a testament to the beauty we stand to lose as biodiversity vanishes.

Through his quest to reconnect to his roots, Barnes isolated several traditional strains of seeds that fell to the wayside when his ancestors traveled to what’s now Oklahoma in the 1800s. Through years of selective growing, Barnes grew corn that looks bejeweled, creating a colorful celebration of native heirloom varieties of corn. . . 

Image may contain: text and outdoor


Rural round-up

December 13, 2016

Shearer drug-testing mooted – Alexa Cook:

The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association says there is a problem with drugs in the industry, but it is hard to measure because testing is not widespread.

The association’s president, Jamie McConachie, said alcohol was a well-documented issue with shearing gangs, however the scale of drug use was less clear because it was harder for people to talk about and measure.

The Australian shearing industry has recently formed a group to try and tackle methamphetamine abuse.

Mr McConachie said New Zealand had similar problems, but he did not think it was as bad as Australia. . . 

Film keeps young plants warm, moist – Sally Rae:

Brian Michelle’s maize crop alongside the Outram-Mosgiel Rd is attracting a fair bit of attention.

That is because it has been planted using a biodegradable film that creates a greenhouse effect for the young plants.

The Samco system, owned by Pioneer, had been in New Zealand for a few years. Mr Michelle was the only farmer to use it on the Taieri this year although the system was increasingly being talked about, Farmlands technical field officer Kieran Fowler said.

In a single pass, the Samco  planting machine planted the maize seed, applied a pre-emergent herbicide and laid the biodegradable film. . . 

MPI produces super biosecurity dogs:

The Ministry for Primary Industries hopes a new breed of detector dog will produce its best biosecurity sniffers ever.

MPI detector beagle Clara gave birth to three male and three female puppies on 24 November. The sire was Morley, a harrier hound. Both dogs work for MPI at airports and ports to sniff out food and plant materials that pose biosecurity risk to New Zealand.

“It’s the first time anyone in the world has crossed a beagle and a harrier for detection work and we have very high expectations for this super-breed,” says MPI Detection Technology Manager Brett Hickman. . . 

Case studies of top performing dairy farms released:

New case studies on top performing dairy farms will help other farmers drive their economic and environmental performance, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The studies are part of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Farm Systems Change programme, which is looking at ways to help farmers boost performance by learning from the strongest performers.

“Last year the Government allocated $800,000 towards this project which is focused on understanding the drivers of farm performance and sharing that knowledge with others. . . 

Fonterra chairman urges new PM to continue push for trade deals –  Fiona Rotherham

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra chairman John Wilson has told investors in the cooperative’s unit fund that it’s critical the government continues driving regional and multi-lateral trade agreements.

At the annual meeting of the Fonterra Shareholders Fund, Wilson said he had gone on a number of trade missions with former Prime Minister John Key, who he said was a strong supporter and advocate of the New Zealand dairy industry.

“With his departure, it is critical that we continue to work closely with government to ensure trade strategy adapts to the changing global environment that has certainly seen significant political change during 2016,” he said. . . 

Feds Challenge Bill English’s Team to Continue Good Work:

 

Federated Farmers congratulates outgoing Prime Minister John Key after eight years leading the country, and looks forward to working with Bill English in the top job.

“John Key has been an outstanding Prime Minister and ambassador for our country.

“During his time in office he has overseen some profound challenges and changes,” Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says. . . .

Tatua Appoints New CEO:

On Thursday 8 December 2016, the same day as its Annual General Meeting, The Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd announced the appointment of Brendhan Greaney to the position of Tatua Chief Executive Officer.

Chairman Stephen Allen who spoke to both Shareholders and Staff said, “after a professional, rigorous yet sensitive process, supported by executive search firm, Hobson Leavy, we are absolutely delighted to announce the appointment of one of our own people, Brendhan Greaney. Brendhan’s appointment is with immediate effect with the simultaneous retirement of previous and highly respected Chief Executive Officer, Paul McGilvary”. . . 

Atkins Ranch gains full non-GMO accreditation in US:

New Zealand’s Atkins Ranch is the first lamb exporter in the world to gain full non-GMO accreditation in America through the non-GMO project.

“It is something we’ve been working towards since the start of this year,” says New Zealand supply chain manager Pat Maher. “As of this week 100 per cent of our product is 100 per cent non-GMO project verified.”

Non-GMO project is an American-based organisation that provides third-party verification for non-GMO food and products. . . 


Rural round-up

November 21, 2016

Kaikoura quake will have long-term implications for rural economy– Nick Clark:

This week has of course been dominated by the Kaikoura earthquake.  Our thoughts go out to everyone affected and Feds is playing an important part in the response efforts. 

As well as the impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods, there will be significant economic ramifications, both immediate and long-term.  The impacts will be felt locally and nationally.

The actual amount of damage and costs involved are still unclear and will take time to emerge.  What we do know though is that the scale of the disaster is immense and there has been severe damage to crucial transport and communications infrastructure, not to mention farms, businesses and homes. 

The cost of repair and rebuild alone will likely be in the billions and then there is the cost of the disruption, including lost business. . . 

Support package for earthquake-affected primary sector:

A support package for the primary sector around the upper South Island has been announced today by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“The earthquakes this week have had a major impact on farmers, fishers, growers and the wine industry. The damage is widespread and severe and will need the help of the Government to recover,” says Mr Guy. 

The package today involves funding of at least $5 million and includes:

  • $4 million for Mayoral Disaster Rural Relief funds (Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough) to help with non-insurable assets such as tracks, on-farm bridges and water infrastructure
  • $500,000 to support Rural Recovery Coordinators in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough Districts
  • $500,000 extra funding for Rural Support Trusts
  • $200,000 per month to mobilise and support skilled primary industry students and workers for farm recovery work
  • Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) from Work and Income NZ – emergency payments for farmers in real hardship. . . 

Farmers Grateful for Quake Zone Rural Relief Package:

Financial relief announced today for quake-stricken North Canterbury and Marlborough farmers will go a long way towards getting these families back up and running.

Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston says farmers will be pleased with the Government’s comprehensive range of $5 million in funding for various aspects of the quake response and recovery.

“The mayoral fund is specifically aimed at rural communities. It’s designed to help with restoring uninsured on-farm infrastructure like tracks, bridges and water reticulation. . . 

Feds set up trust for quake-hit farms:

Federated Farmers has reopened its Adverse Events Trust Fund to raise funds to support farms affected by the North Canterbury earthquake.

The trust fund will take donations which will be spent on immediate emergency support for farms, including emergency supplies, farm equipment, essential tools and materials.

“It’s a times like this that people are so keen to help, and that’s fantastic, but we have to be aware, the reality is dollars are going to be required to get these farms back up and running,” Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson Katie Milne says. . . 

Plenty of positive talk about venison and velvet season – Yvonne O’Hara:

“Positive” and “encouraging” are words that deer farmer and veterinarian Dave Lawrence, of Browns, is using  to describe this year’s venison and velvet season.

“It is all very positive,” Mr Lawrence said.

“The venison schedule is about $8kg.

“In seasons gone by, the trend was to peak at about $8 and now there is talk about that being the bottom.

“It is very encouraging.”

He said as the industry moved out of the trough, deer farmers were now retaining more stock to  build up numbers, rather than sending them to the works. . . 

Milk price brings welcome boost to economy:

DairyNZ has welcomed the increased forecast milk price announced today, as a boost to dairy farmers as well as the regional and national economies.

The increase of 75 cents brings Fonterra’s 2016/17 forecast farmgate milk price to $6/kg milksolids (MS) – a lift of $1.75/kg MS since the start of the season, which brings a boost for average dairy farmer revenue of $260,000 or $3 billion nationally.

Today’s 75 cent increase equates to a $1.3 billion lift in the value of this season’s milk production. . . 

Rabobank: World Dairy Trade Faces Strong Headwinds:

The trade in dairy products has suffered a number of massive blows in the last three years and is set to continue face headwinds going forward. The Russian trade embargo, the slowing of demand growth from China, the impact of low oil prices on demand from oil exporting countries and the strengthening of the US dollar have all had an impact on the demand for imports. The expansion of production surrounding the removal of production quotas in Europe added to the pain and resulted in a period of extremely low world prices, according to Rabobank’s report “Strong Headwinds Weigh on Trade Growth.”

“And when we look forward”, says Kevin Bellamy, Global Strategist Dairy at Rabobank. “We see that none of these issues has been resolved. The Russian ban will be in place at least until 2017. Demand from China will continue to grow but at a slower rate, oil prices are forecast to remain at around the USD 50 per barrel mark, and the dollar is forecast to maintain its high value against other currencies. As a result, dairy trade is likely to grow at a slower rate than in recent years, driven more by population growth than per capita consumption increases.” . . 

‘High-risk situation’ for yellow-eyed penguin chicks

Avian diptheria has killed one in three yellow-eyed penguin chicks hatched at two north Otago colonies this year.

Outbreaks of the disease have been occuring every second season on average for at least the past 17 years and young chicks are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Penguin Rescue manager Rosalie Goldsworthy, who looks after two colonies on the Moeraki Peninsula, said 31 out of 85 chicks hatched this year had died – many before they could be treated with antibiotics.

The disease first took hold in 1999, and at that point there were more than 600 breeding pairs on the mainland.

That population had declined to just 200 breeding pairs. . . 

New Zealand apple industry is breaking all records with largest ever apple crop forecast for 2017:

New Zealand is set to grow its largest ever export apple crop of 21.5 million cartons worth a record $800 million, the industry’s leader announced today.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said the success of New Zealand’s apple industry was breaking all records.

“We are the first of New Zealand’s larger primary sectors to meet the Government’s challenge of doubling exports by 2025, and are well ahead of our own target of becoming a billion dollar industry by 2022. . .. 

Paul Henry … Invivo’s Newest Winemaker:

When Invivo winemakers were looking for a personality to make a Pinot Noir to match Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc, they looked no further than Paul Henry. Now Paul ‘The Palate’ Henry can add winemaker to his career.

The self-confessed Pinot Noir expert was happy to team up with Invivo, the makers of award-winning Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc, to produce a limited edition run of Paul Henry’s Own Pinot Noir.

Henry, who jokes about his highly attuned taste buds and advanced palate, says “I have been in training for this for years, most recently fine-tuning my expertise by specialising on reds, particularly Pinot Noir”.

Invivo co-founder Tim Lightbourne says, “When Paul put up his hand, we put a glass in it. Paul sees himself as bit of a wine buff, so we taught him about the blending process, then sat him down at the blending bench and said ‘go for it’”. . . 


Rural round-up

October 18, 2016

Calf milk powder shortage dire – Neal Walllace:

Calf rearers battling a shortage of milk powder are unlikely to get a reprieve this season with a major retailer warning product delays could continue for another four weeks.  

As if that wasn’t enough, farmers report the price of calf milk replacer, or what some are calling white gold, has increased in recent weeks from $53 for a 20kg bag to $75.  

Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie said his company was not taking any new orders for calf milk replacer (CMR) because suppliers had advised they could not supply any product. . . 

World food trends favour dairy – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has identified 11 modern consumer food trends it says are very positive for high quality milk production in New Zealand.  

Global consumer and food service chief operating officer Jacqueline Chow said Fonterra had invested $1 billion over the past decade in dairy innovation – in science, sustainability, nutrition and packaging – to position the co-operative to meet the trends.  

Its dairy farmers had also spent $1b over the past five years on environmental initiatives. . . 

More calls to rural support line reported -:

The Waikato Rural Support Trust is receiving unusually high numbers of calls from farmers as adverse weather conditions and the low dairy payout take a toll, it says.

Trust chairman Neil Bateup said a particularly wet spring had caused issues with feed quality and quantity and that had made farming very difficult.

Mr Bateup said the farmers calling were mainly in the dairy industry, with those people also struggling with the low payout of the past couple of years. . . 

Feral Activists Are Worse Than The Pests 1080 Fights:

Activism in New Zealand has sunk to a new low as conservation workers don’t even feel safe going about their daily jobs.

Federated Farmers is deeply concerned for the safety of the country’s conservation department staff and contractors, as so-called activists continue to ignore the fact that 1080 is working well for New Zealand.

“It is simply unacceptable for New Zealanders who go to work every day to protect our environment, to be made to feel unsafe doing their jobs,” says Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston.

“This is madness and it’s activism out of control. . . 

Ngāi Tahu adds horse treks to its tourism stable – Aaron Smale:

Ngāi Tahu has bought a horse trekking business in Glenorchy to add to its tourism portfolio.

The South Island iwi has bought Dart Stables in Glenorchy, which runs horse treks through a region that features heavily in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism chief executive Quinton Hall said the business fit well with its broader tourism strategy.

“The team at Dart Stables has an excellent reputation with customers and within the local community and has access to some of the most beautiful parts of the country,” he said. . . 

Enterprising Rural Women Awards (ERWA) entrants for 2016:

Six fantastic businesses are competing in three categories this year and the ultimate winner will receive the supreme prize for the Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

Rural Women New Zealand’s annual awards showcase rural women who run their own successful businesses. For the entrants, it is an opportunity to promote their innovative rural enterprise and gain recognition for their contribution to their community.

Each category winner receives $1,000 in prize money and a trophy, with a further $1,000 being awarded to the supreme winner who is judged as an exceptional rural business women. Prizes also include clothing from Swazi Apparel and from the Agri-Women’s Development Trust $400 worth of executive coaching for each category winner and an additional $3,400 professional development package for the supreme winner.

2016 ERWA categories: . . 

International Beef Alliance meets in Taupo:

New Zealand is hosting beef producers from the International Beef Alliance in Taupo this week.

The International Beef Alliance includes the national organisations representing beef cattle producers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay and the United States and it meets annually to progress issues of common interest.

This week the Presidents and CEOs from the Cattle Council of Australia, Associação dos Criadores de Mato Grosso, Associação Nacional dos Confinadores de Brasil, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, Asociación Rural de Paraguay, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the US National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will meet in Taupo. This group accounts for 46% of the world’s beef cattle production and 63% of global beef exports. . . 

Helping farmers save time and take control:

With volatility in the dairy payout, there has never been a more important time to have a clear picture of your farming business’ performance.

And according to Figured’s marketing manager Monica Shepherd, nearly 40 per cent of farmers surveyed at the New Zealand National Fieldays, said they wanted more advice from their accountants on how to achieve just that.

In response, Dairy Women’s Network is running a free dairy module called ‘Farming in the Cloud’ with its partners Figured, Xero, ASB Bank and Crowe Horwath. . . 

New Zealand’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards – Top Honours Announced:

Winners in New Zealand’s most prestigious competition for olive oil were announced last night at a formal dinner held at Parliament in Wellington and hosted by MP Paul Foster-Bell.

Robinsons Bay Olives from Akaroa took out the 2016 Best in Show as well as Best in Class in the Commercial Medium Blends Class at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards, run by Olives New Zealand, the national organisation for olive oil growers.

The Old N’Olive Grove Partnership from Wairarapa won the Best in Boutique Category for growers who produce less than 250 litres of certified extra virgin olive oil, as well as Best in Class in the Boutique Intense Single Varietal Class with their Rockbottom Grove Picual. . . 

Image may contain: grass, outdoor, text and nature

Thank ewe for supporting wool week.


Rural round-up

October 4, 2016

Lamb to tell ‘red meat story’ – Sally Rae:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand is to close some overseas offices as it concentrates on a new marketing strategy to differentiate this country’s products with those of international competitors.

After about 12 months of consultation, Beef and Lamb chairman James Parsons released the strategy which he said marked a change in direction for the organisation.

The story of New Zealand farming and its farmers would be at the heart of Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s new market development strategy targeting new and emerging markets.

Mr Parsons said development of a red meat sector story, which captured the culture, values and integrity long associated with New Zealand sheep and beef farmers, would be a way to differentiate this country from its competitors in the international marketplace. . . 

Appointed acting president of WFO: –

Federated Farmers president William Rolleston has been appointed acting president of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO).

Dr Rolleston has been the WFO’s vice-president and will guide the organisation through until the next general assembly in Helsinki in 2017 during which a new president will be appointed.

“It’s a privilege to be appointed to this role in an acting capacity. The WFO actively promotes the critical importance of a sustainable global farming sector for the future of our planet. . . 

Feds say it’s simple: comply with the law:

Farmers are urged to commit to getting employee records and contracts right after large fines were issued during a Labour Inspectorate investigation into a Taranaki dairy farm.

Federated Farmers Taranaki provincial president Bronwyn Muir says it is essential farmers keep up-to-date contracts and wage and time records for all employees.

“Agriculture needs to attract a good quality, motivated workforce to drive productivity gains and to improve performance. So farmers need to provide workplaces which will attract those people.

“Getting the basics of employment law right is the foundation to build that attractive work environment,” Bronwyn says. . . 

Shearing sports season kicks off in Central Otago :

A big shearing sports season has begun with the national Merino Championships on today  and tomorrow.

The championships are being held in Alexandra, Central Otago.

Five national titles will be decided in the only national fine wool event. New Zealand shearers will be competing to stop West Australian shearer Damien Boyle from snapping up the open shearing championship for the seventh year in a row. . . 

Guy welcomes Sri Lankan FarmIQ pilot:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the announcement of a FarmIQ technology pilot in Sri Lanka.

The pilot was part of a joint announcement by Prime Minister John Key and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today.

“The FarmIQ management system has been developed through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), and is cutting edge technology that can be applied to a range of farming activities,” says Mr Guy. 

“It works by capturing and analysing data throughout the value chain so farmers can better link on-farm practices to farm outputs and revenue.  . . 

What is Fonterra anyway – Susan Edmunds:

What does Fonterra do?

Fonterra is a co-operative that buys milk from its farmer shareholders and processes it, mainly for export.

Fonterra and its shareholders produce more than two million tonnes of dairy ingredients, specialty ingredients and consumer products every year. Only about 5 per cent is kept in New Zealand. It produces about a third of the world’s dairy exports. . . 

New president marks quarter-century milestone for United Fresh:

Leadership and collaboration are vital to keep New Zealand’s horticulture industry blooming, says the new president of the country’s only pan-produce organisation.

New president Jerry Prendergast says the produce industry is entering a new era of business, just as United Fresh celebrates its 25th year.

“New varieties, sustainability, new technologies and competitive advantage are just some of the factors guiding our strategic plan into the future,” he says.

The people who work in the industry are essential to delivering on these targets, he says. . . 

WineWorks turns 21 and opens multi-million dollar plant in Auckland:

WineWorks, New Zealand’s largest, independent wine bottling and warehousing provider, officially opens its new multi-million dollar facility in Onehunga on Friday (7 October, 2016) and at the same time toasts 21 years of being in business.

The new state-of-the art plant was more than eight years in the planning. It took almost 12 months to construct and covers two hectares. One of the tallest buildings in Onehunga, it is located in what Managing Director Tim Nowell-Usticke calls the ‘sweet spot’ of the wine industry’s supply chain.

“Here we have easy access to rail, the port, the airport, industry suppliers and supermarket distribution centres. In addition, the country’s only glassworks is just down the road, and New Zealand’s largest wine market is right on our doorstep.” . . 


Rural round-up

September 5, 2016

Research breakthrough to boost native forestry – James Morton:

A scientific breakthrough could replenish vast expanses of our countryside with lush native forest – and offer a lucrative new forestry industry for New Zealand.

Scion researchers have discovered how to grow native trees, including rimu and totara, from cuttings taken from parent trees instead of seeds, enabling them to grow much faster and in larger amounts.

The new technology will be used a multi-million dollar nursery site opening near the Bay of Plenty village of Minginui this weekend, in a partnership with local iwi Ngati Whare. . . 

Sports awards to be ‘rural Halbergs’:

 Brand new awards celebrating sporting excellence among New Zealand’s rural athletes were launched today with organisers positioning the event as the “Halbergs for the rural sector”.

Rural sports associations are invited to nominate athletes for the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with strategic partner, Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
 
An awards ceremony and gala dinner will be held at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on March 10, 2017, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing. . . 

More farmers under bank ‘pressure‘ – Sally Rae:

More farmers are experiencing “undue pressure” from their banks and sharemilkers remain the most vulnerable in the sector, the latest Federated Farmers banking survey shows.

Overall satisfaction remained strong, with 80% of all farmers and 78.4% of dairy farmers either very satisfied or satisfied with their banks.

The survey showed sharemilkers were least satisfied. Given the current economic climate, it was no surprise they were the most exposed, Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said.

In relation to overdrafts, 15.8% said they experienced “undue pressure” and 22.2% experienced “undue pressure” concerning mortgages. . . 

The art of the covenant – Guy Williams:

Two years have passed since we learned four high country stations between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka would be placed under protective covenants, effectively creating New Zealand’s first national park in private hands. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what is happening on the stations and asks whether the land will be protected and cared for forever.

They are called Mahu Whenua, meaning “healing the land” — four protective covenants covering 53,000ha across four high country stations: Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.

Their leases were bought between 2003 and 2011 by British record producer and songwriter Robert “Mutt” Lange — in the earlier years with then-wife, Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain.

Two years ago, the QEII National Trust announced Lange would place 95% of the stations’ area under open space covenants, a decision then-Minister of Conservation Nick Smith hailed as an “extraordinary act of generosity”. . . 

North Canterbury farmer frustrated by mobile technology – Heather Chalmers

Do you have access to high-speed broadband?

If you live in the country then you probably don’t. Cellphone coverage is also probably patchy. And that is significantly holding back farmers, says North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Dan Shand.

As a former Sydney IT worker and a Nuffield scholar he knows more than most in the agricultural sector about what is possible with mobile technology. He believes it holds the key to a whole wave of advances, both in on-farm decision-making and productivity and in adding market premiums. However, for a number of reasons this potential is being missed. . . 

Happy Valley to set up new A2 milk plant:

South Waikato dairy farmers wanting to join the A2 milk bonanza might have their chance as a new dairy company seeks consent to build a plant near Otorohanga.  

The Happy Valley Milk company was seeking resource consent for the project that would ultimately include two milk driers.  The first would be an eight tonnes an hour drier capable of producing multiple types of milk powders including A2 infant formula.

Project manager Grant Horan said the company was optimistic it could get the consent process through by the end of the year, with an estimated completion date of mid-2018. . . 

 

Image may contain: text

Farming noun [fam -ing] the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think yare are trying to kill them.


Small failures

September 1, 2016

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board expects investigations will show a combination of small failures led to the gastroenteritis outbreak in Havelock North.

. . . The DHB’s chief executive, Kevin Snee, said he expected the government’s inquiry would show that there were small problems in the systems and processes used by the DHB, and by the district and regional councils.

He expected this to show that, when aligned, the problems allowed the water supply to become contaminated and people to get sick. . . 

This is so often the case, lots of small things add up to cause a big problem.

Earlier tests pointed to a ruminant animal as the cause of the outbreak.

Even before that was announced the usual suspects were blaming intensive dairy farming, in spite of there being none near the bore supplying the town.

. . . Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the area near the aquifer was mostly lifestyle blocks and orchards.

He said people needed to take a step back from the speculation.

“We all contribute to bacteria in the environment, birds do, humans do and so do farm animals.

“Last week we saw a crescendo of finger pointing at agriculture, we heard that this was because of intensive dairy farms and the closest dairy farm we can find is 40 kilometres away.”

Mr Rolleston said while the indications did point to a four-legged animal as the source of contamination, that didn’t mean intensive agriculture was to blame.

He said the aquifer in question was a shallow aquifer, which had a greater risk of having its seals breached.

“We’re not saying that agriculture doesn’t create a risk, but those are the risks that the council needs to actually take cognisance of and mitigate.”

Last week the Green Party said any inquiry into the Havelock North water contamination should look at the role of intensive agriculture.

Mr Rolleston admitted agriculture was a risk for water.

“We’re not denying that and farmers have been up to the task. We’ve spent a billion dollars in the last decade fencing rivers and we’re playing our part.” . . 

Environment Minister Nick Smith also says speculation is unhelpful:

Questions have been asked about the culpability of cattle and chicken farmers, as well as a nearby mushroom farm, but Dr Smith says sometimes even the most basic failures could be to blame.

The campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North struck down 5100 people with gastro, closed schools and businesses and has left residents still boiling their drinking water weeks later.

It is a reminder of the E. coli contamination in Nelson where upstream farmers, birds and waterfowl were blamed before testing confirmed the true cause, Dr Smith says.

“It was embarrassingly found that most of the problem was toilets from the council’s library having been wrongly plumbed into the stormwater rather than the sewerage system,” he told crowds at a Lincoln University environment lecture in Christchurch on Tuesday night.

He said the lesson was to be cautious of jumping to conclusions too soon. . . 

He also addressed concerns about measuring water quality, limits on water takes and proposed strengthening of swimming requirements.

Dr Smith warned a goal of making all waterways swimmable, rather than wadeable, were “unworkable” and “impossible” without a massive bird cull.

But the Green Party has criticised that view as baseless.

“He knows, as we all do, that the real and lasting damage to our rivers is from stock in waterways, farm run-off, sewage and intensified dairy farms among others – he just won’t admit it,” Green Party water spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said. . . 

Tests above and below a dam on our farm confirmed birds were at the bottom of poor water quality.

The Otago Regional Council also proved seagulls were to blame for high levels of E.coli in the Kakanui River.

Up until recently, ORC staff and local farmers alike had been baffled about the cause of such high concentrations in the upper Kakanui, particularly during summer.

ORC staff have been concerned about the concentration of the bacteria, as high levels indicate a risk of people swimming becoming ill. The council enlisted the help of local farmers, who provided access to their properties and the nearby river for inspection.

ORC scientists went into the gorge to investigate by helicopter when this inspection failed to identify the source of the bacteria. The culprits − a large colony of nesting gulls − were found in rugged terrain, about 5km above the Clifton Falls bridge. Water quality samples were taken immediately above and below the colony, with divergent results.

Upstream of the colony, the bacteria concentrations were 214 E.coli/100ml, whereas immediately downstream, the concentration was far greater at 1300 E.coli/100ml.

The levels peaked on January 3, at 2400 parts per 100ml of water. ORC manager of resource science Matt Hickey said that according to Government water quality guidelines for recreational swimming areas, those with less than 260 E.coli/100ml should be safe, whereas water with more than 550 E.coli/100ml could pose a health-risk.

Mr Hickey said six colonies of gulls were found in total, on steep rocky faces, where they clearly favoured the habitat for nesting. While they had gone undetected up until now due to their inaccessibility, it was likely the gulls returned each year to breed.

“Unfortunately, these nesting gull colonies are likely to continue to cause high E.coli concentrations in the upper Kakanui River, particularly during the breeding season,” Mr Hickey said.

These are only two examples which show Delahunty is wrong to say birds aren’t a problem.

That doesn’t mean farming, especially when it’s intensive, is blameless.

There are many causes for poor water quality but many have happened over time and it will take time to get the improvements we all seek.

That is much more likely with the collaborative approach the Minister seeks:

New Zealand had a habit of turning environmental issues into a battle ground with winners and losers where farmers are seen as environmental vandals and environmentalists as economic imbeciles, Dr Smith said.

“I have been trying to lead a culture change at both a national and local level where different water users and interest groups work together on finding solutions that will work for the environment and the economy,” he said.

It doesn’t have to be either a healthy environment or a growing economy.

A collaborative approach, based on science, can achieve both.

Science must also be applied to the cause, and response to, Havelock North’s problems to ensure that a series of small failures doesn’t lead to large-scale gastroenteritis again.


Rural round-up

August 30, 2016

Pet theories don’t make water safer:

Federated Farmers urges the public to apply some good old-fashioned common sense and scrutinice the statements of activists as they push their anti-farming agendas in the wake of the Havelock North water-borne gastrointestinal disease outbreak.

Top of the list would be Dr Mike Joy’s statements on The Nation last Sunday where he said:

“’Central and local government had allowed massive intensification [of dairying] that had caused the problem’ when in fact the closest dairy farm we can find is some 40 kilometres away”, Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston says.

Or his statement that “animals have to come out of agriculture”.

“The sanity of this statement for New Zealand can stand on its own merits.

“In the context of this bacterial episode he said that ‘over time you find it deeper and deeper and deeper [in the groundwater]’ when it is known that as water penetrates the ground, bacteria are progressively filtered out and their survival diminishes.” . . .

GoodYarn mental health scheme award winner – Sally Rae:

A rural mental health initiative developed by WellSouth has received international recognition.

WellSouth’s health promotion team was named joint winner of best mental health promotion/mental illness prevention at the Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Services Conference in Auckland for its GoodYarn programme.

GoodYarn was developed specifically for farming communities to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of stress and mental illness, to give people the confidence to talk with someone when they were concerned, and to know where to get help. . . 

Farmers: we will fight for livelihoods – Tim Miller:

Farmers in Tarras are prepared to go all the way to the Environment Court to protect their livelihoods.

Members of the Lindis Catchment Group voted at a meeting in Tarras last night to  appeal the Otago Regional Council’s decision to set a minimum flow rate for the Lindis River catchment at 900 litres per second from October 1 to May 31 every year.

Committee member and local farmer Bruce Jolly said 26 members of the catchment group voted unanimously in favour of appealing the decision. . . 

 

Cattle theft would’ve need 10 trucks – Federated farmers:

A possible theft of 500 dairy cows from a Canterbury farm has stumped police investigating their disappearance.

Pennie Ormsby-Saunders told Newshub she has a herd of 1300 cows but last week noticed more than a third of them were missing.

Rick Powdrell from Federated Farmers says stock thefts are a concerning trend.

“In recent times there’ve been a number of thefts in that area. Now whether these are connected, we don’t know. . . 

Stand built for world champs – Sally Rae:

Four South Otago men will have little time to admire their handiwork when the world’s best shearers and woolhandlers converge on Invercargill next year.

Since May, Otago Shears committee members Bruce Walker, Ken Payne, Neville Leslie and Geoff Finch have spent 130 hours preparing the shearing stand for the Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling championships.

About 4500 sheep will be shorn by competitors from about 30 countries at ILT Stadium Southland from February 9 to 11. . . 

US ag exports expected to rise by $6 billion in 2017:

US agricultural exports are expected to rise in 2017 from 2016 levels, largely due to higher exports of oilseeds and products, horticultural products, cotton, and livestock, dairy, and poultry.

According to the latest Outlook for US Agricultural Trade Report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and Foreign Agricultural Service, agricultural exports in fiscal year 2017 are projected at $133.0 billion, up $6.0 billion from the revised fiscal 2016 forecast of $127.0 billion.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said: “These numbers once again demonstrate the resiliency and reliability of US farmers and ranchers in the face of continued challenges. . . 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2016

NZer Matt Smith breaks world shearing record:

New Zealander Matt Smith has broken one of the biggest world records in shearing sports in England overnight.

He smashed the world solo nine-hours ewe shearing record with a new tally of 731 in the first global shearing record attempted in the Northern Hemisphere.

The previous record of 721 had stood for more than nine years since being shorn by Hawke’s Bay shearer Rodney Sutton in 2007.. . 

Farm survey shows confidence subdued but steady:

Farmer confidence has picked up slightly since surveyed last in January but remains weak, according to Federated Farmers’ July 2016 Farm Confidence Survey.

The survey was conducted immediately after the Brexit decision and this appears to have dampened farmer confidence in the global market, on top of their existing concerns about the domestic scene, president of Federated Farmers Dr William Rolleston says.

“The strength of the global economy, post Brexit, is weighing heavily on farmers’ expectations. . . 

Leading Kiwi farmers join global master class on fact-finding mission to Zambia:

Six New Zealanders were among a select group of 20 leading farmers from around the world to recently attend a Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class in Zambia.

The week-long education program – which comprised alumni of previous Rabobank Global Master Class events held around the world – brought together farmers from nine key food and agriculture-producing countries to observe the potential of the Zambian agricultural sector and to discuss the challenges facing local producers. The program saw participants visit a range of agricultural operations in Zambia’s Lusaka and Mkushi regions and hear from a number of key Zambian agriculture industry participants. . .

Challenges as Marlborough wine industry booms  Shannon Redstall:

Wine production in Marlborough is tipped to increase by 25 percent over the next five years so industry leaders are meeting to today to plan for the future.

The movers and shakers of the Marlborough wine industry are holding a meeting today to discuss the future of one of the country’s biggest exports.

Results from the recent Marlborough Labour Market Survey, a joint initiative by Wine Marlborough, New Zealand Winegrowers and Marlborough District Council, show the industry is rapidly expanding. . .

Predator-Free New Zealand Critical to Dairy Industry:

Fonterra has welcomed the Government’s goal of New Zealand becoming predator free by 2050.

“This is a hugely significant goal, and one that the dairy industry shares,” said Carolyn Mortland, Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility.

“A predator free New Zealand would have significant benefits for New Zealand’s environment as well as help with animal TB eradication.”

TB and other diseases carried by possums and rats carry a high on-going cost to farmers, as well as to dairy companies investing in pest control for the protection of production facilities. . . 

Allied Farmers shares jump 16% on earnings upgrade – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers shares jumped 16 percent after the rural services firm gave a rosier view on annual earnings due to a better than expected performance from its livestock division.

The Hawera-based company said pre-tax profit was between $1.4 million and $1.6 million in the year ended June 30, up from $1.11 million a year earlier. The final result will be released on by Aug. 29. The shares climbed 0.7 of a cent to 5 cents, valuing the company at $8.3 million.

“A large portion of NZ Farmers Livestock’s income is budgeted to be received in May each year, due to the timing of dairy herd sales,” chairman Garry Bluett said. “ . .

 


Rural round-up

July 26, 2016

Kiwifruit exports reach record levels:

In June 2016, kiwifruit exports rose $105 million (47 percent) from June 2015 to reach $331 million, Statistics New Zealand said today. Overall, goods exports rose $109 million (2.6 percent) in June 2016 (to $4.3 billion).

The June 2016 rise was across all our top kiwifruit export destinations, but particularly Japan (up $55 million) and China (up $39 million). The quantities of kiwifruit exported also rose (up 32 percent), with gold kiwifruit up 49 percent, and green kiwifruit up 21 percent. . . .

New researchers should focus on primary industry:

Federated Farmers wants a plan to attract the world’s top scientists to New Zealand to concentrate on those who will work on primary sector initiatives and the environment.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says it makes sense for the government’s $35 million ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’ programme to build knowledge in areas which are key to New Zealand’s economic and environmental needs.

The four year programme, announced by Minister Steven Joyce on Wednesday, aims to encourage the world’s leading researchers to bring their teams to work in New Zealand.

“This programme will help New Zealand keep up with the scientific developments already going on around the globe. . . 

Feds congratulates government on ambitious pest eradication project:

Federated Farmers fully backs the target to completely eradicate introduced predators from New Zealand by 2050 announced by the government today and agrees with the government that emerging technologies is now making such an ambitious target possible.

This project is going to require a team effort from scientists, farmers, government, politicians and rural communities.

“Our farmers live and work in our natural environment every day and in that sense are stewards of a significant part of New Zealand’s land, says Federated Farmers spokesperson for pest management Chris Allen.

“Farmers already spend a substantial amount of money on pest management. They also pay levies to OSPRI, to control vectors of tuberculosis, such as stoats and possums. . . 

Beekeepers stung by swarm of hive thefts –  Wilhelmina Shrimpton:

Beekeepers are seeking an urgent meeting with police as an increasing number of sticky-fingered thieves make off with beehives across the country.

The most recent incident was in Northland, where around $500,000-worth of hives were stolen from Topuni Forest more than a week ago. 

Some call the honey liquid gold – and for very good reason.

“If you’re getting high-grade manuka honey, the beekeepers can expect to get about $60 a kilogram,” Apiculture New Zealand’s Daniel Paul said. . . 

Profit warning makes Silver Fern Farms’ deal more critical – Allan Barber:

Last week’s profit warning from SFF chairman Rob Hewitt confirmed what industry observers suspected – this season has been affected by a combination of factors which has made achievement of the budgeted profit more remote than ever. At the half year Hewett had already warned the year end result would be materially different from budget without specifying numbers. The latest warning indicates break even at best.

The current season has suffered from reduced livestock volumes, regular rain and grass growth in most parts of the country which even out supply patterns, and an obstinately strong NZ dollar. Processors have been squeezed at both ends, paying too much for livestock and not earning enough from the market. . .

Nervous times at Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

Silver Fern Farms announced last week to its farmer suppliers that it now expects no more than a breakeven return for the year ending 30 September 2016.  This should focus the minds of its farmer shareholders, who vote on 12 August as to whether or not Silver Fern Farms should proceed with the partial takeover by Shanghai Maling. 

The disappointing projected financial outcome – which could yet get worse – reinforces the notion that Silver Fern Farms lacks the necessary financial resilience to go it alone. There is increasing risk that without completion of the Shanghai Maling buy-in, that Silver Fern Farms will lose the support of its bankers and be placed in receivership. That is not an attractive option, for what has in recent years been New Zealand’s largest meat processor. . . 

UK milk production drops 10% in a year – Alexa Cook:

Many British dairy farmers are getting out of the industry due to plummeting milk prices and production, says a UK dairy analyst.

Farmers are being paid from 10 to 30 pence a litre at a time when most farms need 25 to 30 pence a litre to meet the cost of production.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – the British equivalent of DairyNZ – has reported more than 1000 farms have closed since June 2013, leaving about 9500 in operation.

The board’s senior dairy analyst Luke Crossman said milk production had fallen off sharply. . . 

Pea growers work with MPI to rid Wairarapa of weevil pest:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and local pea growers, are planning urgent action to eradicate a small Wairarapa population of a newly discovered weevil that damages pea crops.

The pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) has been found in pea seeds grown on 8 different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in 3 seed storage facilities in the region.

The weevil larvae feed on growing pea pods, damaging crops. Its discovery in the Wairarapa has long-term implications for pea production in New Zealand and the pea growing industry is strongly supportive of moves to attempt to get rid of it. . . 

NZDF-Led Projects Boost Drought Resilience of Tongan Communities:

Community projects undertaken by a multi-national task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are expected to reduce the vulnerability of remote communities to the impact of drought, Tongan officlals say.

The projects, designed to improve water storage in two main islands in Tonga’s Ha’apai island group, were undertaken as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016 and have been formally handed over today to the Tongan Government.

“Tropic Twilight conducted a vast range of activities that will directly improve the resilience of communities in Ha’apai in addressing some water security issues and safety equipment shortages. It was also an opportune time to collaborate with partners to address health issues,” said Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni. . . 

Punakaiki Fund Invests in Agtract:

Taranaki rural job management software Agtract has closed a funding round with high-growth investorPunakaiki Fund.

The Agtract software drastically reduces the time it takes for rural contractors to do management tasks and create invoices, saving them up to a week’s work each month.

“Agtract does the administrative grunt work so rural contractors can do what they do best: helping farmers,” says CEO Chris West, who co-founded Agtract with his brother James after feeling the pain first hand of having to do admin work for a rural contractor.

“I was an employee of a contractor in Taranaki and had to fill in job sheet after job sheet. So much of what I did was repetitive, and even more of what the contractor did could’ve been automated. I created an early software solution, saw that it saved time and money, and realised I was onto a winner. Agtract is the result.” . . .


%d bloggers like this: