Rural round-up

11/04/2021

Industries desperate for workers urge government to open borders to Pacific – Tom Kitchen:

Fruit, meat works and food processing industries are calling on the government to open Pacific borders to tackle what they’re calling their worst ever labour crisis.

At a media conference in Napier this morning they demanded more help.

Apples are rotting on the ground at many orchards.

Chestergrove Orchards owner Bruce Mitchell said he could not find enough pickers to pick his royal galas . . 

Government needs to move faster on Pacific bubble :

National supports the call by Hawke’s Bay orchardists and businesses that are reliant on seasonal work to open a travel bubble with the Pacific Islands, Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“Growers and processors have good reason to be frustrated at the Government for not acting fast enough. This frustration boiled over in today’s extraordinary call for help.

“The Minister of Agriculture recently confirmed he has not prepared any papers for Cabinet this year relating to a Pacific bubble, despite calls from the sector. It’s his responsibility to advocate on behalf of horticulturalists who have seen devastating losses this season. . .

Hollywood director James Cameron’s enviro-farm turns to dairy cow grazing:

James Cameron’s plans to convert his Wairarapa properties into organic veggie farms appear to have fallen short – with hundreds of cows now understood to be grazing in his paddocks.

The Avatar film director owns more than 1500 hectares of land in South Wairarapa, and has been outspoken about the need for New Zealand to move away from agriculture to curb carbon emissions.

Locals say he’s not walking the talk – with plans for crop farming giving way to more lucrative dairy grazing.

However, they did note the farm had moved to get away from agriculture, that there was no intensive stock grazing taking place, and that staff did an excellent job with the property. . .

Slowing down and family time key – Maggie McNaughton:

If Pukekohe market gardener and CEO of  The Fresh Grower Allan Fong could dish out one piece of advice to his younger self, it would be to slow down and spend more time with his family.

The 65-year-old has recently stepped back from the job that has consumed his life since he was a youngster.

“My parents were from China and they started their own vegetable growing business in Pukekohe in 1950 and us kids would help out before school and after school every day,” Allan says.

Allan and his younger brother Colin eventually took over the farm and recently Colin’s three sons have taken up the reins. . . 

Ahuwhenua finalist showcases farm :

Pouarua Farms is the largest, single dairy platform in the Hauraki region and it can also lay claim to be one of the best Maori dairy farms in the country.

The farm is one of the finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua trophy for the top Maori dairy farm.

As part of the competition, each of the three finalists have to hold a field day on their respective properties to give other farmers, and all those with an interest in the dairy sector the opportunity to see first-hand just why these farms have made it to the top.

Pouarua’s 2,200ha platform comprises ten farms: nine dairy units and one drystock unit. A total of 4,600 cows are milked across 1,775ha and produce approximately 1.65M kgMS. . . 

 

David Littleproud urges Australian shearers not to take up exemptions to work in the UK – Billy Jupp:

FEDERAL Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has urged Australian shearers not to travel internationally to aid in global workforce shortages.

New Zealand and Australian shearers were recently given an exemption to travel to the United Kingdom to help combat its shearer shortage.

However, the Nationals deputy leader said travelling abroad was ill-advised due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The last place I’d want to go to is the UK,” Mr Littleproud told The Land. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/03/2021

Office staff asked to help out in apple packhouses due to labour shortages  –

The corporate fruit and vegetable firm T&G Global is asking its office based staff to help out in apple packhouses.

This year all apple growing regions are facing severe labour shortages for both picking and packing the crop.

As a result T&G Global, originally known as Turners and Growers, is asking Hawke’s Bay staff to swap computer terminals for apple trays.

Its operations director Craig Betty said the firm was under real pressure to meet export schedules and needs 70 more people right now, so salaried staff and family members were being asked to help out. . . 

Covid-19 exposes global biosecurity systems as ‘fractured’ – expert – Riley Kennedy:

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a fractured global biosecurity system and a new approach is needed, a biosecurity expert says.

The paper by distinguished professor Philip Hulme from the government funded Bio-Protection Research Centre has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioScience.

Hulme said Covid-19 had shown there needed to be an approach to biosecurity that integrated threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health, recognising that disease or invasions in one sector often spilled over into the others.

He said the Covid Tracer app and the National Animal Indenification and Tracing (NAIT) system, were two examples of where lessons can be learnt and shared among different industries. . . 

Duck shooting season in doubt for many this year:

Many hunters and farmers will miss out on this year’s duck shooting season because the Police are failing to address a backlog of firearms licence applications, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There are 10,000 applications waiting to be processed with 3000 of those just licence renewals.

“With opening weekend for duck shooting season fast approaching the Police should be adding more resources to help clear the backlog.

“Hunters missed out last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They’re understandably itching to get back out on the pond, but they may miss out again this year because of an administrative backlog. . . 

FarmIQ links to Lead with Pride :

For Darfield dairy farmer Dan Schat, the decision to supply Synlait and participate in the company’s Lead with Pride initiative has proven to be a good one three years into farm ownership.

The Schats enjoy the double premium of supplying A2 milk and being on the Lead with Pride initiative, both making the company payments worth the extra effort the initiative involves.

Lead with Pride encompasses the four pillars of supply to Synlait, recognising and rewarding best practice in environment, animal health-welfare, social responsibility and milk quality. . . 

Produce industry launches UN initiative in New Zealand to address hunger and increase wellbeing:

Aotearoa’s $6 billion fresh produce industry today rolls out a localised UN initiative, as it celebrates the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).

The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to highlight the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.

The official launch this evening at Parliament will be hosted by the Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, in partnership with United Fresh, New Zealand’s pan produce industry organisation, Horticulture New Zealand and Plant & Food Research.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will showcase the government-funded Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative which addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an exemplary programme with a case study presented by the international group AIAM5 in August last year. . . 

This California start up has a meat test it says can help prevent the next pandemic – Chloe Sorvino:

Food ID, a San Mateo, California-based startup, has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will help improve the safety and transparency of the U.S. meat supply.

The funding comes from S2G Ventures and will be used to commercialize the company’s rapid-result tests that can detect antibiotics in animals and a range of other adulterants, like heavy metals in seafood. Food ID says it has been working inside some industrial slaughterhouses for more than a year and that its tests are finding many of the meats being sold as “antibiotic-free” are not.

“There’s a feeling that consumers understand what they are buying and there’s authenticity,” says Food ID cofounder Bill Niman, the legendary grass-fed beef rancher in Northern California. “We know that’s not totally true, and when that becomes clear to the suppliers and to the brands that depend on antibiotics costing a premium to consumers, we’re gonna be very busy.”

Niman says he is offering the meat industry its first comprehensive testing platform and can provide more accuracy and transparency for consumers, who are increasingly looking for antibiotic-free meat, and paying on average $1 more per pound for it. . . 


Rural Round-up

17/06/2019

ANZ’s rural manager questions capital call – Richard Rennie:

It is a case of when rather than if banks will have to increase their capital reserves against loans and rural customers will end up paying, ANZ commercial and agricultural manager Mark Hiddleston says.

Late last year the Reserve Bank said it wants banks to increase the amount of capital held as security against loans, with weighted capital increases likely to be greater for riskier parts of banks’ lending. 

That prompted fears the dairy and construction sectors in particular could wear the brunt of the higher capital requirements through higher interest rates. . .

Community a priority for environmental winners – Nigel Malthus:

Staying in touch with their community is a priority for the 2019 Canterbury regional Ballance Farm Environmental Award winners, Duncan and Tina Mackintosh.

The Mackintoshes own and run White Rock Mains farm, a 1056ha sheep and dairy support property nestled against the hills at North Loburn, near Rangiora.

Their recent winner’s field day featured presentations from the local North Loburn Primary School, which has partnered with the Mackintoshes on Garden to Table and Predator-Free programmes.

Cattle culls don’t rely on tests – Annette Scott:

Herds with cattle bought from properties confirmed as being infected with Mycoplasma bovis will be culled, regardless of test results, Primary Industries Ministry chief science adviser John Roche says.

More efficient testing is in the pipelines but it’s several years away.

In the meantime any herds containing cattle from properties confirmed as infected will be considered extremely high risk and will also be culled, Roche said.

Tests being used are adequate to determine the need to cull infected and extremely high risk animals.  . .

Climate change and the rural way of life – Alex Braae:

The government’s environmental policy is creating major tensions in farming communities. Alex Braae went to a meeting in Taumarunui to see it play out. 

“We’ve got to get the government’s attention somehow. Okay, we’re not all going to jump on our tractors and drive to Wellington. But we could jump on our tractors and block all the roads for a day and a half, just to get them to listen.”

The comment came from the floor, at a public meeting on carbon farming being held at the Taumarunui Golf Club. It was a rainy day, which meant farmers had some free time. The room was packed and fearful. In question was the future of their town, their district and their way of life.

A while ago, some farmers started talking about the ‘triple bottom line’ – economic, environmental and social. They started assessing themselves on not only how much money could be brought in, but how the farm contributed to the wider community and ecosystem. It’s a concept borrowed from the world of corporate sustainability, and has parallels in the long term view of what farming should be about. Obviously, the performance of the farming world has been mixed on all three, particularly the environmental bottom line, but the mindset is changing.. . 

One billion trees snag? Bay of Plenty, Taupō face ‘drastic’ shortage of planters – Samantha Olley:

The Government wants one billion trees planted across the country by 2028. It has allocated $120 million for grants for landowners to plant new areas and $58m to set up Te Uru Rākau forestry service premises in Rotorua. Across the country, 80m trees are expected to be planted this season. However, Bay of Plenty and Taupō contractors are facing an uphill battle to get trees in the ground. Reporter Sam Olley investigates.

CNI Forest Management has 100 planters working in the wider Bay of Plenty and Taupō this season but it’s not enough and the company is struggling to find workers now more than ever before.

Director Stewart Hyde told the Rotorua Daily Post the company started recruiting six weeks before the start of May when planting began, but “we just can’t get enough people”.

“It’s having a drastic effect.” . . 

How to restore depleted soils with cattle – Heather Smith Thomas:

Michael Thiele’s mission today is to acquaint more farmers and ranchers with a holistic view of agriculture.

Thiele grew up on a farm west of Dauphin, Man., just north of Riding Mountain National Park. His father had a small grain farm and a few cows.

“We were busy trying to farm and make a living and like all the other farmers around us, we were creating a monoculture of grain crops — mostly wheat, canola, oats and barley,” says Thiele.

“When I went to university, I thought soil was simply dirt,” he says. People didn’t realize how alive soil is, teeming with life and activity, and how much we depend on a healthy soil system. Now Thiele is trying to help producers understand that the way we farmed created unhealthy soil. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/06/2019

Tell your story don’t dump data – Annette Scott:

Farm environment plans, while not yet mandatory, offer a unique opportunity for the high country, AgFirst environmental consultant Erica van Reenen says.

Talking to the high country farmers’ conference in Blenheim van Reenen acknowledged they are challenged with climate and market vulnerability.

They are also challenged to get up with the game and communicate in the same space as their urban counterparts.

That means telling their farming stories where urban people tell their stories – in social media circles.   . . 

Adrian and Pauline Ball of Dennley Farms from Waikato Announced as new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing:

Adrian and Pauline Ball, owners and operators of Dennley Farms Ltd, are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made at tonight’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards National Sustainability Showcase at Claudelands in Hamilton. The Ballance Farm Environment Awards celebrate and promote sustainable farming and growing practices.

Dennley Farms’ strong environmental, social and economic sustainability was a stand-out for the National Judging Panel. The business’ tagline is ‘creating value inside the farm gate,’ and the farm team is active in the creation of meaningful industry change and driven to improve consumer perception of the sector. . .

Grass-fed message won’t sell NZ products but health benefits could – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s “clean, green, grass-fed” message isn’t unique and exporters should instead focus on the nutritional benefits of their food products, Andy Elliot says.

Elliot spent much of last year studying the business models of New Zealand producers and exporters as part of the Nuffield agricultural scholarship programme.

He says that in order to get more value from existing production, the country needs to find a way to stand out in the increasingly competitive global market. . . 

Wool bonanza – Annette Scott:

Increased international demand for fine wool is putting Kiwi wool within reach of becoming a $2 billion industry.

New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge said if half NZ’s crossbred wool clip shifts into higher-value fine wool contracts the economic upside will be as high as $2b.

Increased international demand for fine wool could spell profit for sheep farmers with wool giving kiwifruit and wine a real run for their money in terms of exports, he said.

There is a future in wool for farmers and for NZ, he said.

“Which is great news for fine wool producers and farmers considering transitioning into it.” . . 

NZ grower the first to use compostable stickers on its apples :

A Hawke’s Bay apple grower says it is the first in the Southern Hemisphere to use compostable stickers on its apples.

The organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand, planned to roll out more compostable stickers next year after a successful trial.

The new sticker meets regulations for direct food contact and breaks down when put in an industrial compost, according to the company’s organic supply manager Heidi Stiefel.

Ms Stiefel said they supplied apples labelled with those stickers to a European customer and some New Zealand supermarkets this year. . . 

Carbon neutral livestock production — consumers want it and farmers say it is achievable – Angus Verley, Aneeta Bhole, Tyne Logan and Lydia Burton:

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) believes a zero carbon footprint nationally — considered by some the holy grail for the red meat industry — is possible by 2030.

It is a target that has the backing of some of the industry’s leading farmers, and the demand for projects is on the rise.

Climate Friendly, a carbon farming project developer, said the policy was a “hotbed of action”. . . 


Rural round-up

02/08/2018

Farmers seek off-farm income to counter rising costs – Heather Chalmers:

A farming leader says it is no surprise that farms are increasingly reliant on off-farm income.  

A Lincoln University survey has shown just over a quarter of farms obtained 30 per cent or more of their income from off-farm sources.

Farmers were struggling to keep up with the mainly inflation-caused price squeeze, the survey found. But the authors said some families found the rural lifestyle compensated for tight finances. . .

Dairy farm effluent compliance in Tasman District coming up roses – Cherie Sivignon:

Tasman district deputy mayor Tim King says the result of the 2017-18 dairy farm effluent compliance survey is a “good story all round”.

It revealed 90 of the 96 farms inspected were fully compliant for effluent management. The other six, graded non-compliant, comprised five with minor ponding and one that failed to adhere to setback rules.

In a report on the matter, council compliance and investigation officer Kat Bunting says all six instances of non-compliance were considered a minor breach of the rules that resulted in “no adverse environmental effect”.

Formal written warnings with directions for improvements were sent to those six farms and return visits found full and continued compliance. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the deck chairs:

Dairy price recovery in 2017 has positively affected the combined turnover of the top 20 global dairy companies, which, in 2017, was up 7.2% on the year in US dollar terms and 5.1% in euro terms, according to RaboResearch’s latest Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the Deck Chairs report.

“For the second consecutive year, there were no new entrants to the Dairy Top 20 list, with the USD 5bn threshold difficult to achieve due to a scarcity of large acquisitions or mergers.” says Peter Paul Coppes, Senior Analyst – Dairy. “However, while the names have remained the same, the order shifted in 2017.” . . 

UK’s Daily Mail urges Theresa May to listen to Kiwi trade expert– Point of Order:

Brits who may be despairing at the lack of progress on Brexit, as Britain’s political class trade blows and the process becomes bogged down in politicking, have been told “there is a small corner of a government department that they can turn to for cheer”.

This is the office of New Zealand’s Crawford Falconer, Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser at the Department of International Trade, described by the Daily Mail as

“… a man of immense experience in such matters. And, in contrast to the doomsayers, his message about Brexit is one of almost unbounded optimism.”

 The article goes on to say: . .

Comvita touted as potential bidder for Manuka Health company – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the NZX-listed manuka honey company, declined to comment on whether it is interested in making a bid for honey company Manuka Health New Zealand which has reportedly been put up for sale by its Australian owner Pacific Equity Partners.

The Australian newspaper suggested Comvita or its largest shareholder China Resources Ng Fung as possible buyers of Manuka Health, which was put on the market about six weeks ago for more than A$200 million by PEP and advisers Luminis Partners. Manuka Health was reportedly sold to the Australian private equity firm in 2015 for $110 million. . .

 

Inter-club challenge still going strong:

The last hurrah for the Canterbury dog trial season, the annual Inter-Club Challenge, was held at Waihi Station, home to the Geraldine Collie Club, on July 1.

The day turned from a ”rugged-up” winter’s morning to a balmy northwest afternoon.

The Canterbury Centre is one of the largest centres in New Zealand,comprising 18 club trials stretching from Cheviot in the north to Mackenzie in the east and Levels (Timaru area) in the south, encompassing all areas in between.

In its 25th year of competition, the trial attracted a strong gallery of spectators and team supporters from throughout the province, testament to the strength and popularity of the sport. . .

Strong interest expected with vacant governance roles on Ballance board:

 A “genuine and rare governance opportunity” has opened up with one of New Zealand’s industry-leading rural co-operatives with Ballance Agri-Nutrients announcing that two farmer-elected directors will be stepping down from its Board this year.

Ballance shareholders are currently being notified of the vacancies created by the decisions of Gray Baldwin not to seek re-election, and Donna Smit who is standing down in the North Island Ward (N). Murray Taggart is retiring by rotation (as required under the Co-operative’s Constitution) and seeking re-election in the South Island Ward (S). . .

MyFarm launches $17.6m Hop Garden investment

MyFarm has launched a $17.64 million investment into what will become New Zealand’s largest hop garden.

The opportunity to invest in Tapawera Hop Garden Limited Partnership includes the purchase of a 96-hectare property and the lease of a second 50-hectare property which will be developed into a 116 canopy (effective) hectare garden. Half of the garden will be planted this spring alongside other development such as building hop picking and drying facilities and worker accommodation. . . 


Rural round-up

27/02/2017

We will be sorry when we say Bye Bye birdie – Tim Gilbertson:

Slow motion catastrophe: Another massive Hawke’s Bay drought is looming.

Fifteen years ago climate scientists predicted that severe droughts would strike every five years rather than every 20 years. The boffins were close to the mark. The 2006/7 drought cost the East Coast $700 million in lost production and set the region back for years. That’s what droughts do. This one won’t be much different. That’s why we started to look at water storage and irrigation.

But since New Zealand is now 95 per cent urban and 30 per cent of us live in Auckland, there is little or no understanding of rural issues amongst the population at large. Last week on talkback radio, an Auckland DJ was lamenting the fact that he lost cellphone coverage when he went under motorway bridges and that Auckland didn’t have 4G.

“We live,” he said “in a Third World country.” He certainly lives in a different country from much of rural New Zealand where there is no cellphone coverage at all. . . 

Kiwi farmers take risks every day – it’s what they do – Simon Edwards:

Massey University professor Nicola Shadbolt says it always makes her laugh the number of well-meaning commentators who pronounce that we need to teach farmers how to manage risk.

“I think ‘have you any idea how much risk our farmers handle on a day-to-day basis’? It’s what they do, and they’ve done it well for many years.

“Ever since subsidies came off it’s been ‘you’re it. There’s no one to prop you up,” she says.

“There are always new tools to use, and new worries sitting on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean our farmers don’t have some of the innate characteristics to make it work. They do. Just see how quickly our farmers adapt to things.” . . 

Hill country water well worth it – Annette Scott:

A new report has revealed huge environmental and economic gains for hill country farmers investing in stock water reticulation.

The first such study, done by AgFirst agricultural economists Erica van Reenen and Phil Journeaux, quantified the benefits of installing onfarm stock water systems on hill country farms.

The study last year involved investment analysis of 11 hill country sheep and beef farms across New Zealand where farmers had invested in stock water systems.

“There had been anecdotal reports of how good stock water systems contributed to production but not a lot of evidence. . .

Poachers fined for shooting $5000 stag on Te Puke farm – Allison Hess:

Two men have been fined for shooting and killing a stag worth $5000 on private farmland in Te Puke, in a bid to deter others from poaching.

Shane Robert Williamson and Matthew Warren Miller were sentenced to pay $750 each plus court costs in Tauranga District Court yesterday by Judge David Cameron.

The Te Puke men pleaded guilty to theft of an animal, after shooting a stag on private property owned by farmer Murray Jensen on Te Matai Rd on April 10 last year.

Judge Cameron said the two friends left their vehicle near Mr Jensen’s farm on Sunday April 10, 2016 and made their way onto the farmland, where stag and hines run freely through a mix of dense bush, pine trees and open paddocks. . . 

Scholarship to bring Shaun’s farming dream closer – Esther Taunton:

Former Stratford High School head boy Shaun Rowe has been awarded an FMG agriculture scholarship for this year

Rowe, who grew up on a 10-hectare lifestyle farm near Stratford, will receive $5000 towards his tuition fees for each year of his agricultural science degree at Massey University.

It is the second agriculture scholarship Rowe has received in recent months, having been a recipient of a $5000 award from the Alexander and Gladys Shepherd Scholarships Trust in November.

The FMG scholarship recognised his academic, sporting and leadership achievements, as well as a passion for agriculture. . .

Farming with children – how to do it safely – FarmingMumsNZ:

Farming offers a unique environment and wonderful opportunities for children/adolescents to learn, grow, develop in and to learn the value of hard work and responsibilities. Traditionally we have seen farming as a ‘family affair’ with parents, children and grandchildren by the generations, learning and passing on the skills of our land.

With the changes to our now not so typical farming communities, we are seeing people from all sorts of backgrounds bring their skills into our agricultural industry, from city slickers to foreigners – looking for a better life or a new career. With this we often loose the common sense that comes with being raised on a farm, meaning more training in Health and Safety needs to become a priority. . . 

Farmer gets frank in job advert for stock man: ‘Can be a smoker – but won’t have the time’ – Tess Brenton:

Tired of phone-obsessed people, a Waimate farmer decided to employ a more direct approach for his next hire.

Initially, the community newspaper advertisement appeared straight forward, with a stockman and a labourer position available.

But then, contractor and farmer Geoff Wallace said he wanted to make it very clear the people he wanted and the people he did not. . .


Rural round-up

19/07/2016

Tool for easy environment planning – Rebecca Harper:

Onfarm environmental planning has just got easier with the launch of a new cloud-based software programme, AgFirst Landbase.

AgFirst consultant Erica van Reenen developed the programme in conjunction with FarmIQ after being asked time and again whether an online tool to help with land and environment planning existed – it didn’t, until now.

Using van Reenen’s knowledge and FarmIQ’s information technology capability was a perfect match. . .

Greenpeace’s deadly war on science – Bjorn Lomborg:

Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?

A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.

Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality. . . 

Let’s not leave Silver Fern Farms stranded – Stephen Jacks:

As I take time to consider my vote in the upcoming Silver Fern Farms special general meeting on the 50-50 joint venture with Shanghai Maling, my thoughts are around what the future may look like either way.

What we know is that the challenges facing farmers are large.  The challenges of profitably negotiating our way through the physical, climatic, financial and market vagaries appear to be amplified of late.   I don’t envisage the scale of excellence and adaptation required to survive and thrive to diminish anytime soon.

We have a choice before us: To join with Shanghai Maling or not.  . . 

School paddocks nurture future farmers – Rob Tipa:

Senior pupils of Waitaki Boys’ High School’s primary production course see their future in farming, so attending one of the country’s few schools with its own farm is a definite attraction.

Seven out of 10 senior students who spoke to the NZ Farmer were boarders at Waitaki, mostly from sheep and beef farming families from around Fairlie, Methven, Mayfield, Millers Flat and the West Coast.

Waitaki Boys has a proud history and reputation as a fine school but several students said the school farm was a key factor that brought them to boarding school in Oamaru. . .

How we are innovating our way to cheaper land prices – James Pethokoukis:

They aren’t making any more land, at least on this planet. But technology is, in effect, increasing the long-term supply of land. Robert Shiller:

This 20th-century miracle in agricultural science greatly improved crop yields per acre. From the standpoint of farm output, there was no need for new land. This revolution involved the discovery by Fritz Haber of a cheap process to produce ammonia for fertilizer at the beginning of the century and the discovery of new high-yield strains of wheat by Norman E. Borlaug at midcentury. Both men won Nobel Prizes for their work. These innovations permitted multiplication of yields per acre and very likely saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation worldwide. . . 

Leading exporter sets benchmark for food safety and brand protection:

New Zealand’s largest vertically-integrated grower, packer and exporter of twenty-five per cent of this country’s apples has taken a bold step to scientifically guarantee the integrity of its produce.

Mr. Apple has signed a three year contract with Dunedin-based Oritain to combat what has become a proliferation of food fraud in the export industry, and safeguard the security of its supply-chain.

Mr. Apple CEO Andrew van Workum says that having his apples 100% traceable from orchard to store is a lynchpin of the Mr. Apple brand, and adds critical value to the relationship it has with growers, suppliers and consumers. . . 

 


Dean Rabbidge wins Zanda McDonald Award

24/03/2016

Dean Rabbidge, a 30 year old sheep, beef and dairy farmer from Wyndham, and the Vice Chairman of the NZ National Young Farmers Contest,  has won the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award.

The award was presented last night (23rd) in Wellington at the ‘Capital Connections; Winds of Change’ Conference by NZ Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. Nathan Guy.

The prize, valued at over $30,000, includes:

An expenses-paid, tailored mentoring package whereby Mr Rabbidge can spend time with three-four relevant PPP members in Australia and/or New Zealand.

A place on the 2017 Rabobank Farm Manager’s Programme.

$1000 cash.

Access to the 130 of Australia’s finest producers and agri-business people who make up the PPP Group.

This year, the prize package was extended to include the use of a Pilatus aircraft – a PC 12 jet – for the winner to visit their mentors.

Mr Rabbidge, who competed against fellow finalists – New Zealand’s Erica van Reenen, an environmental and agricultural consultant with AgFirst and Western Australia’s Wesley Lefroy, a soil scientist – said he was humbled to have been chosen.

Shane McManaway, Chairman of the PPP Group, says: “Dean is an exceptional young man.

His intelligence, his enormous sense of responsibility and his natural people skills will take him far. And I believe he will relish the mentoring opportunities that winning the Zanda McDonald Award will provide”.

Mr Rabbidge and Mr McManaway has been invited to have lunch with the Prime Minister and Minister Guy.

The Zanda McDonald award is a PPP initiative which aims to preserve the legacy of the late Zanda McDonald, a strong leader in the Australian cattle industry – as well as assist young agri-business people on their chosen career path.

We were at the award ceremony last night having spent three days at the PPP conference with the three finalists, all of whom have already achieved a lot in, and given a lot to, agri-business and their rural communities.

It is encouraging to know there are young people of this calibre in the industry.


Rural round-up

27/01/2016

NIA shows duty cuts to major export destinations – Neal Wallace:

Annual duty savings of $272 million will be removed on exports to five signatories to the Trans Pacific Partnership with which New Zealand does not have trade agreements, the Government revealed today.  

Trade Minister Todd McClay released the national interest analysis (NIA) on the 12-country agreement which largely confirmed trade benefits it had announced earlier.  

The NIA revealed exporters paid duty of $334 million a year on exports to five countries with which NZ does not have free trade agreements, the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru. . . 

Westland Lowers Pay-Out Predictions as Global Dairy Prices Predicted to Remain Low:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, today announced a drop in its pay-out predictions for 2015-16, saying a forecast 15 to 25 percent reduction across all commodity products for the remainder of the season is the driving force behind the decision.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says the new predicted payout of $4.15 – $4.45 per kilogramme of milk solids (kgMS) (previously $4.90 to $5.30 per kgMS) will be grim news for Westland’s shareholders but, given the widely publicised state of the global dairy market, not unexpected. He says lower prices are expected to remain for this season and probably into the second half of 2016 – the beginning of the 2016-7 season. . . 

New Zealand’s future agri-leaders in running for trans-Tasman award:

• 2016 Zanda McDonald Award finalists announced

Two young New Zealand agri-business professionals have made it through to the finals for the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award.

Dean Rabbidge, a dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Wyndham, Southland, and Erica van Reenen, an agricultural and environmental consultant with AgFirst, based in Manawatu, have been selected as finalists alongside soil scientist, Wesley Lefroy, from Western Australia.

The three, who attended interviews in Brisbane late last year, will join the PPP ‘Capital Connections’ Conference in Wellington in March – where the award winner will be announced. . . 

Drought in South Island enters second year:

Widespread drought conditions in the South Island mean the medium-scale event classification will be extended until the end of June, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $150,000 will go to local Rural Support Trusts with $40,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Trust,” says Mr Guy. 

Speaking with farmers at a sheep and beef farm in Weka Pass, Hurunui, Mr Guy acknowledged this is the third time the classification has been extended.

“Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago were originally classified as a medium-scale event on 12 February 2015 and have had very little rainfall for more than a year now. . . 

Drought resistant pasture being investigated:

Scientists have identified a type of plant that recovers quicker than others after drought and are taking the next steps to get it on to farmers’ paddocks.

But they say it could be eight to 10 years before it is available.

The Primary Growth Partnership – Transforming the Dairy Value Chain is funding the research into pasture resistance.

It comes at a crucial time with 2015 being the hottest on record and Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago enduring their second season of drought. . . 

Industry Challenged by new forest technology:

Foresters face paradigm shift for logging steep slopes

The tables are being turned on foresters and logging contractors in British Columbia. Disruptive technology from New Zealand is set to create a whole new way of logging in B.C.’s forests. When meeting challenges to safely harvest NZ’s steep sloped forests, practicing foresters found convincing safety advantages with the new harvesting technology.

In recent years, loggers in New Zealand’s forest industry faced safety challenges in tree falling, especially on steep slopes. There was no choice but to reduce accidents. Up and down the steep, forested country, people turned to the safety of mechanised harvesters. Simultaneously, safety and productivity improved. . . 

Intensifying workplace laws means there are no longer any ‘family farms’ and they can’t be an extension of a backyard playground – John Brosnan:

It’s a new year on farm.

You have negotiated the Christmas and the New Year breaks with the team, so now is a good time to take a breath and consider – what next?

Well first out the gate will be the new WorkSafe legislation which comes into force 1st April this year. Are you prepared for this? Have you prepared an operational plan and put in place a robust health and safety policy? Do you and all your employees have a means to adhere to it? . . 

Canterbury dairy farm penalised for employment law breaches:

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Viewbank Dairy Ltd near Rakaia to rectify employment law breaches discovered by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate and pay $7,500 in penalties.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate visited the farm as part of an audit to check for compliance with minimum employment standards on dairy farms. A number of breaches were identified and an Improvement Notice was issued. The Inspector brought the case before the ERA when the employer failed to comply with parts of the Notice.

Labour Inspectorate Southern Regional Manager Stuart Lumsden says the investigation found that several workers had been treated as casual employees when in fact they were permanent. . . 

Take advantage of steady nutrient costs:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) says current stability around fertiliser prices will give farm budgets an early boost for 2016 – but only if farmers are quick to seize the opportunity.

The two main fertiliser manufacturers, Ballance and Ravensdown, have kept costs for major nutrients under control since September 2015 – despite economic volatility caused by last year’s slide in the value of the New Zealand dollar.

The FQC says there’s no knowing for how long the good deals will continue and urges farmers to take advantage of the co-ops’ goodwill while it lasts. . . 

Karaka Select Sale Commences Today:

The first day of the Karaka Select Sale commences today at 11am with Lot 448 to Lot 670 going under the hammer.

The Sale will be streamed live online. To view the live stream, click here.

There have been 27 Group 1 wins from graduates of the Select Sale over the past three seasons. The new season has seen Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor) and Tarzino (NZ) (Tavistock) both land Group 1 races during the Melbourne Spring Carnival. . . 


Rural round-up

24/11/2015

2016 Zanda McDonald Award Shorlist Announced:

Six of agriculture’s most innovative young professionals have been shortlisted for the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award. The six – three from New Zealand and three from Australia – were selected for their strong leadership skills, being visionary and inspirational within their industry and for clearly demonstrating an unwaivering passion for agriculture.

Dean Rabbidge, 30, is a Southland dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Wyndham currently managing the family farm. Dean is also Vice Chairman of the national Young Farmers Competition and twice a grand finalist.

Erica van Reenen, 31, is an agricultural and environmental consultant with AgFirst, based in Manawatu. Erica is also a trustee of the Te Araroa national walkway from Cape Reinga to Bluff and a Huntaway Festival committee member.

Zach Mounsey, 25, is a dairy farmer and an economist with DairyNZ. He is also Chairman of the Otorohanga Federated Farmers group. Last month, Zach travelled to Argentina; he was selected by the Minister of Primary Industries to represent New Zealand together with Malborough farmer, Doug Avery. . . 

Results Announced for the 2015 Fonterra elections:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2015 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to re-elect incumbent Directors John Wilson and Nicola Shadbolt. They will be joined by new Director Ashley Waugh. Blue Read, Greg Maughan and Murray Beach were unsuccessful. . . 

Record voter participation sees one new director, two new shareholders’ councillors elected

Today, following the close of voting in the 2015 Fonterra Elections, which saw record Shareholder voting, it has been confirmed that one new Director and two new Shareholders’ Councillors will take office following the Fonterra Annual Meeting on Wednesday.

Newly elected Director Ashley Waugh and incumbents John Wilson and Nicola Shadbolt were the three successful Director candidates. . . 


Rural round-up

13/05/2014

Environmental manager’s job an ideal fit – Sally Rae:

When Beef and Lamb New Zealand decided to create a new environmental extension manager position, it was an ideal job for Erica van Reenen.

The role combined two of Ms van Reenen’s passions – agriculture and the environment.

It was established earlier this year to support farmers wanting to achieve environmental best practice on-farm, while maintaining profitable businesses.

Ms van Reenen (29), who grew up in Wanaka, has had a long-standing love of farming, which was coupled with an equal passion for conservation and the environment. . . .

Nominations open for 2014 agribusiness leadership awards:

Nominations have opened for this year’s prestigious Rabobank Leadership awards – recognising the contribution of outstanding leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food and agribusiness industries.

The annual awards, which are now in their ninth year, acknowledge the important role played by senior leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s agribusiness and agri-related industries with the Rabobank Leadership Award, which was last year won by New Zealand wine industry luminary Sir George Fistonich, the founder and owner of Villa Maria Estate.

A second award category introduced for the first time last year, the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award, recognises up-and-coming young leaders in the sector. In 2013, this award went to Australian grains industry advocate Georgie Aley, the managing director of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. . . .

National Ploughing Champs prove challenging – Dave Goosselink:

Soggy ground conditions have proved a challenge for competitors at the National Ploughing Championships in Blenheim.

Clydesdale horses and vintage tractors added to the spectacle, with all competitors aiming to plough in a straight line.

It’s a hard row ploughing the perfect field, but competitors at the 59th National Ploughing Champs are happy to take their time.

“It’s certainly not a speed event,” says Palmerston North ploughman Eddie Dench. “We’ve got 20 minutes to do what we’ve just done. And then after we have lunch and make some adjustments, we have two hours 40 to finish the plot.” . . .

Perendale breeders’ work recognised – Sally Rae:

The Mitchell family, from Clinton, have been highlighted as an example of what the ”Perendale spirit” is all about.

On Friday, Rae Mitchell was made a life member of the Otago Perendale Breeders Club, during the Farmlands Perendale New Zealand national conference in Otago.

During a conference tour visit to the Mitchell family’s farm, home of the Hillcrest Perendale stud, PerendaleNZ chairman Tim Anderson said it was a family farm, working together and producing top sheep.

Mr Mitchell was ”very humbled” by the presentation, saying involvement with the breed had played a major role in his family.

There had been ups and downs, but also a lot of highs, and they had made many friends. . .

Americans want what we’ve got – Stephen Bell:

More Americans want safe, sustainable, pasture-fed, free-range meat but the biggest threat to the opportunities there is ensuring continuity of supply, Lamb Co-operative chief executive Shane O’Hara says.

O’Hara, a Kiwi who has worked in the American meat industry for 26 years, said New Zealand produces what a new generation of Americans is increasingly looking for but keeping products in front of them 52 weeks a year is a struggle.

Domestic lamb production in the United States had been declining since subsidy removal in the 1970s though total consumption had remained stable, he told the opening session of the AgInnovation conference in Feilding by video link from Connecticut. . . .

Drone speeds up wheat selection – Kim Honan:

It would be hard to miss the large helium-filled tethered balloon, floating above the wheat fields in Mexico’s Yaqui Valley, near Obregon.

However, you could be forgiven for thinking a bird is buzzing in the airspace around it, but it is a drone.

Both the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the 8-metre long blimp, are fitted with cameras by researchers, at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT).

The instruments are used to measure the physiological properties of the thousands of wheat lines in the trial plots at the Norman E. Borlaug Experiment Station. . .


Young Farmers getting plastered

29/09/2010

Young Farmers are getting plastered for a good cause.

They’re fronting up to support A Rural Women New Zealand’s initiative to highlight the need for women of all ages to be alert to any changes in their breasts.

 Let’s Get Plastered for Breast Cancer  is a nationwide event involves women, and some men, creating plaster sculptures of their torsos, which are going on display in galleries and cafes all over the country for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.

Rural Women New Zealand will donate profits from the sale of the plaster kits to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

RWNZ National President Liz Evans says “We are delighted that the Wellington Young Farmers are supporting this campaign.  By creating personal sculptures, we hope these young women will be reminded to take a hands-on approach to regularly monitoring their breasts.”

Wellington Young Farmers Chairman Erica van Reenen says “We had great fun making our casts and it certainly broke down the barriers, as well as reinforcing the serious message behind this campaign.”

And the fun doesn’t stop there.  The women will be displaying their decorated breast sculptures at the Wellington Young Farmers’ Ball on 16 October, where they’ll be up for auction.

“As well as donating money to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation through Rural Women New Zealand, we plan to raise extra funds from the auction for rural people affected by the Canterbury earthquake,” says Ms van Reenen.

You can find details on how to get a plaster kit and tickets to the ball at Rural Women NZ on the link above.


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