Rural round-up

07/08/2013

Fonterra problem highlights danger of being a one-trick pony – Allan Barber:

It’s a change for the dairy industry to capture the negative agricultural headlines instead of the meat or kiwifruit sectors. Unfortunately for everybody in New Zealand the dairy industry has become such a critical and large part of our economy that the whey protein botulism scare has already caused, and will continue to cause, major concerns for our global dairy trade.

Only last week Fonterra was again the star of the economy with a $3 billion boost to farmers’ earnings because of a 50c lift in the payout. Yet this week the company’s very scale has been called into question. People are now asking whether Fonterra can survive its third health scare in five years.

Even if this is unnecessary scaremongering, another question which would have been unthinkable a week ago is being asked. Is Fonterra too big for the country or, to quote the Waikato Times, its gumboots? This ought to make those calling for one mega meat company hesitate for a moment, before they find that they are asking for something which may contain the seeds of its own destruction. . .

Winegrowers fear China backlash – Penny Wardle:

Marlborough winegrowers fear the discovery of a botulism risk in Fonterra milk products could taint the reputation of New Zealand wine and food in China.

China has suspended imports of products that contain Fonterra’s whey protein concentrate and a product known as base infant powder formula.

Allan Scott of Allan Scott Family Winemakers said everyone in the industry was nervous about market reaction to the contamination debacle which has dominated news headlines since Saturday. . . .

Scientist collars innovation prize – Jill Galloway:

A senior AgResearch scientist has been highly commended for his cow collar, winning $1000 at the Innovate Manawatu contest last week.

Keith Betteridge said he would form a start-up company, FarmSense, to produce the cow collar.

It measures pasture continuously during grazing, with results being sent to a central data handling centre.

“Only 20 to 25 per cent of farmers regularly measure pasture mass over their farms. The rest do it by eye, but according to dairy consultants that can be pretty inaccurate.” . . .

Election date now certain but policies unclear for farmers

With the election confirmed for September 7, the nation’s peak agriculture advocacy body, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is looking to politicians to provide clarity on their policies, and commit to action for the agriculture sector.

NFF President Duncan Fraser said Australian agriculture needs to be a priority for all sides of Parliament this coming election. The NFF will be looking for agriculture to be elevated in the policy debate between major parties.

“Now that we have certainty in terms of the election date, we’re looking equal certainty in policy issues, so farmers can get on with their job. We encourage all political parties to consider how they can best serve a strong, vibrant agriculture sector that ensures that Australians continue to have access to a sustainable supply of Australian grown food and fibre,” Mr Fraser said. . .

£160m agri-atech strategy ‘verging on insulting’

The Agricultural Engineers Association has branded the government’s £160m investment strategy for developing agricultural technology “very disappointing”.

Roger Lane-Nott, the director general of both the AEA and Milking Equipment Association, made the comments after the agri-tech strategy to invest more money in science and technology was launched two weeks ago.

“The fact that farm equipment was given a couple of small paragraphs was verging on insulting to an industry that has a turnover of nearly £4bn in the UK and is a fundamental part of agricultural production,” said Mr Lane-Nott. . .

Collier heads NZIPM:

EAST COAST AgFirst consultant Hilton Collier is the new president of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management, replacing Wayne Allan who’s completed the standard two-year term in the role.

“Wayne has been a driving force in developing NZIPIM’s new strategic plan and instrumental in its implementation,” says Collier, who says there’s an increasing need for NZIPIM and its members to play a leadership role within the primary industry, within and beyond the farm gate.

“This includes positioning our farmers and growers to capture global market opportunities and ensure we have a highly profitable primary sector to levels New Zealand formerly enjoyed as one of the best standards of living in the OECD.” . . .

My first attempt at homemade sausages – Cabbage Tree Farm:

After much procrastination I finally got around to making sausages. A few months ago we bought a meat grinder with a sausage making attachment and I had a bit of a hiccup with getting the correct type of skins – I bought edible collagen casings which did not fit on the end of the sausage maker….oops! Finally I tracked down a butcher that could supply the natural ‘hog’ casings (pig intestines) and we had some pork scraps that our butcher bagged up specifically for us to make sausages, from when he butchered our last lot of home raised pigs.

I did a quick search on You Tube to make sure I knew what to do, and to get some recipes. In the end I chose to make up some chorizo sausages after watching this helpful tutorial. . .


Rural round-up

13/05/2013

Chinese bounty comes with warning – Nigel Stirling:

China has overtaken Britain as the biggest market by value for New Zealand’s sheep meat industry.

But the historic moment has been overshadowed by fresh food scandals in the country and has prompted senior meat industry figures to question NZ’s increasing reliance on the Chinese market.

New figures from the Meat Industry Association show $204 million of sheep meat was exported from NZ to China in the first three months of this year.

That exceeded the $198m exported to Britain. It was the first time NZ’s traditional number one market had been trumped by China or any other country in a three-month period. . .

World Bank, IFAB pledge $1.9bn to boost agriculture in Nigeria:

The World Bank has said that it would commit one billion dollars to support Nigeria’s agricultural sector in the next five years. Ms Marie-Francoise Marie- Nelly, its Country Director, said this at a workshop on Gender and Agriculture Technical Dialogue in Abuja.

Also the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said that it would support the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) with new programmes that would cost $88.5 million. President of IFAD, Dr Kanayo Nwanze, said this in Abuja when he led a delegation on a visit to Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. . .

 Taking aim at NZ beef Goliaths – Tim Fulton:

Red Oak Angus owner Ric Orr has added heat to the bull sale season by putting up an alternative to the “massive engine” of estimated breeding values (EBVs).

The North Canterbury breeder and finisher has enlisted top livestock evaluator Ken Moore, who is resigned to his initial findings being shot down in flames by supporters of the Australian-designed Breedplan.

Orr accepts his views will rub roughly against some farming titans, including the leadership of the New Zealand Angus Association.

Moore, meanwhile, describes his work for Orr so far as a “quick and dirty” response to breeders who are unimpressed, or just plain bamboozled, by the results they get from the widely used Breedplan system. . .

Angry farmers walk out of aid meeting with Minister – Debbie James:

Welsh farmers whose businesses have been jeopardised by the freak March blizzards walked out of a heated meeting with Wales’ farm minister after demanding his resignation.

Alun Davies faced hundreds of angry farmers at a meeting in north Wales, one of the regions worst hit by snow and strong winds.

Many of the farmers are struggling financially after thousands of their sheep and cattle were buried in snow but the Welsh government has remained steadfast in its refusal to directly compensate them for their losses. . .

Forget the pub test, apply the farm test, farmers tell Coalition :

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed a move towards greater flexibility in workplace arrangements under the Coalition’s industrial relations policy, but says it does not go far enough on support for small businesses, including farms.

NFF President Duncan Fraser said it was good to see the Coalition releasing its policy well ahead of the election, but farmers would like to see greater detail and a commitment to action prior to 2016.

“People are agriculture’s most important resource – both on and off the farm. As a sector, we have identified that we need to build our workforce, develop our skills and expertise, and allow for greater flexibility to compete with the high wages offered by other sectors,” Mr Fraser said. . .

Reduced EU demand for lamb – Patsy Hunter:

UK sheep prices may be on the up in the UK due to reduced supplies, but it appears the opposite holds true on the Continent, where the economic problems being experienced by many countries in southern Europe are having a significant effect on the trading patterns of sheep and sheep meat.

With reduced demand for lamb and sheep meat in the Mediterranean, due to the poor economic climate, sheep meat imports in these countries fell considerably in 2012.

At the same time exports generally rose as the domestic market could not absorb home production levels. This occurred despite sheep meat production falling in these countries, meaning there was less for the home market to take in the first place.

In Spain, domestic sheep meat production fell 6% year on year in 2012, having totalled 122,800 tonnes. . .

Who deserves this support? – Gordon Davidson:

IF THE Scottish Government is wondering how best to spend the £6million it has found for emergency weather aid, Jim Simmons, of the New Entrants Group, has an easy answer – give it to the 1200 Scottish farmers currently farming without an SFP cash cushion.

Mr Simmons this week rounded on the ‘established farmers’ claim that the weather had left them ‘facing the biggest crisis since foot and mouth’, saying that their winter problems did not match those of the unsupported.

“Have these farmers not received their historically-based payments annually over the last eight years, the most recent being last December?” asked Mr Simmons.

“Are they not due another lump sum in six or seven months time? If these farmers are in this ‘crisis’, then what is the state of the genuine new entrant business in Scotland who has started in the last 10 years and has had little or no SFP payment up to now? . .


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