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. . .

 


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