Rural round-up

July 3, 2018

Moves to revive Ruataniwha dam scheme – Anusha Bradley:

A group of Central Hawke’s Bay businessmen are hoping to resurrect the controversial Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme after buying the intellectual property from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for $100,000.

The regional council spent $14 million, and four years, trying to get the scheme off the ground before the Supreme Court ruled last year it could not flood a large parcel of conservation land.

Now, a company called Water Holdings CHB has bought the intellectual property and rights to the scheme from the regional council’s investment arm.

Water Holdings CHB director Gavin Streeter said owning the assets, which included consents and modelling data, would allow the community to explore options for reviving the scheme. . .

Chance for young farmers and farm workers to have their say:

Farmstrong has developed a new online survey to better understand the pressures facing younger farmers and farm workers, and asking them what works to improve their wellbeing.

The survey is being undertaken in association with NZ Young Farmers, and is open for all under 35 year old farmers and farm workers.

We have developed two surveys, one for women and one for men. Most of the questions in the two surveys are similar, but there are some that are specific to men or women, such as the networks they belong to or the print magazines they read.

The survey is confidential and only takes about 10 minutes to complete.  It is open till 16 July 2018. . . 

Sell-out crowd for 50th FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Invercargill:

Finalists competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final will arrive in Invercargill today.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the iconic agricultural contest, which was first held in Auckland in 1969.

A sell-out crowd of more than 1,000 people will pack ILT Stadium Southland for Saturday’s quiz and awards night. . .

AI and IoT changing the face of NZ dairying:

A fledgling New Zealand agritech company run by a rising Kiwi entrepreneur who has worked for Rocket Lab has raised $8 million, from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Data Collective, which is likely to result in massive changes to the nation’s burgeoning dairy industry.

Waikato company Halter will use the $8 million boost to help farms guide and manage their dairy cows by using IoT and artificial intelligence, sustainably increasing production, saving billions in labour costs and improving environmental compliance and animal welfare. . .

GlobalDairyTrade marks its 10th anniversary:

Ten years ago, Global Dairy Trade held it first online auction on the GDT Events platform with the aim of being the most credible and comprehensive provider of prices across core dairy ingredients.

By the end of June this year, GDT Events had facilitated the trade of more than US$22 billion cumulative value of dairy products to buyers from over 80 countries.

Eric Hansen, Director Global Dairy Trade says the GDT Events auctions re-wrote the rules of engagement for buying and selling dairy commodities. . .

Fonterra welcomes appointment of new Beingmate baby & child food General Manager:
Fonterra welcomes the appointment of Bao Xiufei (Bob) to the role of General Manager of Beingmate Baby & Child Food Co Ltd. The move was announced yesterday and follows a comprehensive search.
Mr Bao joins Beingmate from Royal FrieslandCampina China, where he had a successful career, including most recently, as Friso Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and Consumer Dairy Managing Director. Prior to this, he was the Sales Director at Wyeth Nutrition and held senior roles at PepsiCo and Wahaha Food Group. . .

Horticulture NZ asks growers to renew funding:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board is asking growers to vote to renew the levy funding that keeps the organisation going, with voting papers going out today. 

A levy rate of 14 cents per $100 of sales of the fruits and vegetables covered in The Commodity Levies (Vegetables and Fruit) Order is the principal funding mechanism to support Horticulture New Zealand’s work for commercial fruit and vegetable growers. The levy expires in May 2019 and voting to renew it, or not, needs to be completed by 13 August 2018.

“The purpose of Horticulture New Zealand is: Enabling, promoting and advocating for growers in New Zealand to achieve the industry goal (a $10 billion industry by 2020),” says Board President Julian Raine. . .

Agriculture 4.0: Technologies at the heart of agtech:

‘Agtech’ has been described as the fourth agricultural revolution – a marriage of data, farming and technological innovation that will further transform the industry and help us to achieve so far unrealised levels of productivity (such as the long-sought 20t/ha wheat yield), efficiency and environmental sustainability.

3D printing

According to Dr Larousse, eight technologies are at the heart of agtech and all have the disruptive power to transform agriculture. Four of them are software, four hardware. One of them is already being practised by Alltech: after its recent purchase of the feed solutions company Keenan, it decided it could provide a more efficient spare parts service by turning to 3D printing, allowing farmers around the world near-instant access to parts from their local dealer. “But it needn’t stop there: we could also ‘print’ food from its constituent ingredients or provide robots with the means to self-repair.” . . 


Rural round-up

July 1, 2018

Farmers stop cow abuser from working with animals unsupervised – Gerard Hutching:

The Northland contract milker caught hitting cows by hidden cameras has been banned from working unsupervised around animals.

Owners of the dairy farm said “as lifelong and committed dairy farmers we are shocked and deeply saddened” by the reports of the ill treatment of some stock on their farm.

“As of today the contract milker concerned has been removed from all duties requiring unsupervised contact with stock pending the outcome of due process with regard to our contractual obligations,” they said in a statement.

The man had earlier been described as a sharemilker, but the owners clarified that he is a contract milker. Sharemilkers own their own cows, whereas contract milkers work with a farm owner’s livestock. . . 

Reigning Young Farmer grand final winner ready for 50th anniversary – Mary-Jo Tohill:

If he had not won the FMG Young Farmer of the Year last year, Lovells Flat sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead would be in Invercargill giving it another go next week.

The 50th anniversary event kicks off in Invercargill on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

“I would be studying my backside off right now to have another go,” the 29-year-old said.

It is now up to another past grand finalist and this year’s Otago-Southland regional winner Logan Wallace, who farms at Waipahi, to have a shot at the Southland-based grand final. . .

Youngsters get say on future :

Farmstrong has developed a new online survey to better understand the pressures facing younger farmers and farm workers and ask them what works to improve their wellbeing.

The nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative provides tools and resources for farmers, growers and farm workers to help them better cope with the ups and downs of farming.

It will help provide a clearer picture of the things that might work to improve the wellbeing of younger farmers and farm workers.  . . 

Why there’s no rural-urban divide when it comes to caring for the environment – Melissa Clark-Reynolds:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says farmers care just as much about the environment as everyone else, and with its new Environment Strategy and Implementation plan, it plans to help sheep and beef farmers promote reduced carbon emissions, cleaner water, thriving biodiversity, and healthy productive soils. 

I recently spoke at a farmer’s event in Christchurch with a few hundred sheep and beef farmers from the northern part of the South Island. At the end of my talk, an older farmer came up to me and asked why I hadn’t talked about organics. On my way home, someone tweeted me that they’d “always said we should have declared all of New Zealand organic and GMO-free. The price premium could have been whatever we asked for.”

At the Beef + Lamb AGM recently, a group of farmers (mixed ages, from their 20s through to their 60s) asked me why I hadn’t talked more about Regenerative Agriculture – farming that heals the land, the lifeforms that dwell there, and the communities of people too. The fact that I keep being surprised by this stuff says more about me as an urban Kiwi than it does about farmers. . .

Nutrient management valuable tool if handled correctly says Allen:

The National Party’s announcement of bipartisan support for the Climate Change Commission last week made it clear that environmental conservation is currently at the forefront of political and social concern in this country.

Part of that concern is the issue of national water quality, breached by David Parker several weeks ago with his announcement of plans to introduce nationwide farm nutrient limits.

A particular point of contention was the suggestion that destocking would have to take place in certain areas to meet the new limits. However, Federated Farmers national board member Chris Allen says if all else fails, it’s just something some farmers may have to accept: . .

What makes a good farmer – Blue North:

What are the attributes of a really good farmer? Would they include a penchant for order and neatness? A single-minded focus on efficiency and yield maximization? A bullet-proof resolve in the face of risk? What about drive for expansion and scale or technical proficiency? While some or all of these may currently inform our rating of farmers, I want to propose some alternative attributes in response to this question. But before getting there, some context is needed.

One of the formative ideas, probably the most important one, that shaped our thinking when we started Blue North in 2011, and which fundamentally shapes what we do to this day, is understanding farmers as the key role-players in determining the sustainability of food supply-chains, and, by extrapolation, the sustainability of mankind as a whole. . .

What are the challenges facing farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .


Rural round-up

June 9, 2018

Clear-cut forestry might make a profit, but local communities pay the price – David Hall:

It’s one thing to plant a billion trees; it’s quite another do it well.

Recent floods in Tasman, and now the East Cape, signal what’s at stake. Witness the logs piled up against Mangatokerau Bridge in Tolaga Bay. Or the hillsides scoured with slips in Golden Bay, left vulnerable to erosion by clear-felled forest lands. With extreme weather events expected to increase due to climate change, it is critical that we don’t plant one billion of the wrong trees in the wrong place with the wrong management system.

Our future forests need to be financially viable, environmentally sustainable, and resilient. Crucially, we also need forests that people want to live with, to be nurtured and protected in future decades. . .

Source unclear but charges likely:

It is becoming increasingly evident pinpointing an exact path for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis into New Zealand might never happen though charges for Biosecurity Act breaches are pending.

The Primary Industries Ministry has not said how it thinks the organism entered the country.

While speculation is rife that European-sourced semen is the most likely suspect, Biosecurity NZ head Roger Smith said investigations do not support that.

The M bovis strain has been confirmed as of European descent but is also occasionally found in America. . . 

FROM THE RIDGE: Showing resolve and compassion– Steve Wyn-Harris:

As we all know, the Government has made the big call to have a go at eradicating Mycoplasma bovis from the country.

It is supported by our own industry bodies.

They were damned if they tried and damned if they didn’t but have shown faith in the scientists and experts and believe there is a reasonable chance of achieving the goal.

Leadership can be a difficult place at times like this and I respect the resolve, compassion and decision-making Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor have shown over this very difficult matter.

I’ve had several conversations with farmers from South Canterbury who have been dealing with the consequences of this disease. . . 

A smorgasbord of agricultural issues – Keith Woodford:

[For the last three years I have been writing fortnightly columns for NZFarmer, which is delivered free to all New Zealand farmers. However the agricultural press in New Zealand is undergoing major change. One part of that change is that Stuff (formerly Fairfax) is now moving towards a digital focus and will cease to publish the weekly NZFarmer. This was my farewell column  to NZFarmer.]

With the impending demise of NZ Farmer, this will be my last article published here. So, I had to give a lot of thought as to what I wanted to say.

Right now, we are surrounded by forces for change. There are so many topics that could be covered. So, I have decided to provide a smorgasbord of key issues.

Mycoplasma bovis
It would be impossible to walk away without saying something about Mycoplasma bovis.  This disease, and the way we have chosen to respond to it, will change many aspects of dairying going forward. My personal perspective is that we might struggle to eradicate the disease, but if we do fail, we will still succeed in managing the disease. There are many worse diseases. . . 

Significantly more Māori farms are grassland, stats show :

Four times as much Māori-owned farmland is grassland, compared to the rest of New Zealand farms, statistics show. 

By June last year, an average of 590 hectares of Māori farmland was grassland, compared to an average 147ha of other farms. 

The Statistics New Zealand figures showed more than eight times more Māori-owned land was covered in plantation crops. . . 

Sanford appoints Fonterra executive Katherine Turner as new CFO – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford has appointed Katherine Turner as the new chief financial officer of New Zealand’s largest listed seafood company.

Turner has worked for 25 years in various finance roles, almost 12 years of which were with the country’s largest company, Fonterra Cooperative Group, where she was most recently commercial director for Fonterra Brands, New Zealand’s biggest fast-moving consumer goods business responsible for brands such as Anchor, Mainland, Fresh’n Fruity and Tip Top. Prior to Fonterra, Turner had nine years in finance roles with French dairy company Danone in New Zealand and France. . . 

Fit for calving – Farmstrong:

Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson is on a mission to reduce the number of injuries to female calf rearers during the physically demanding calving season.

She’s created a six-week online conditioning and strengthening initiative for women to prepare their bodies for the physically gruelling calving season, which is currently under way in many parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of information out there about things like getting meals and the kids ready for calving season but not a lot about getting your body ready,” says Nicole, a mother of two young boys. . . 

New Zealand scientists are breeding sheep to fart and burp less – Jon Daly:

New Zealand researchers are curbing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions one sheep fart at a time.

Scientists at Invermay Agricultural Centre in Mosgiel, about 360km south-west of Christchurch, have bred climate-friendly sheep that produce 10 per cent less methane than their gassy counterparts.

Livestock emissions are the biggest contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and make up about 10 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 25, 2018

Farmer has to start again after M. bovis – Sally Rae:

It is not surprising that Graham Hay gets a little choked up as he describes the devastating impact of Mycoplasma bovis on his farming business.

The Hakataramea Valley property has been in the family since his grandfather took over in 1921 and Mr Hay has lived there all his life.

He and his wife, Sonja, have invested in it for their children to carry on and he was one of the drivers of Haka Valley Irrigation Ltd, a small group of farmers who brought water to the traditionally dry valley.

But the cattle disease has ”destroyed” their business. . .

New Zealand could achieve world first by eradicating Mycoplasma – Gerard

No country has ever eradicated Mycoplasma bovis, but they have never really tried, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The Government is widely expected to opt for an eradication approach to tackle the cattle disease which has shaken the rural sector since being detected last year.

Despite the lack of precedent for ridding any country of the disease before now, “members of the technical advisory group regard it as feasible,” O’Connor said. . .

M. bovis predicted to bring about the end of sharemilking in New Zealand – Andrea Vance:

Farmers are predicting the end of sharemilking as the country moves to control the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis.

Share-milkers own their own cows – but not the land– so move them from farm to farm. Some use the income to save for their own farm.

But Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor said farming practices must change, with less movement of stock, as officials battle the infection. . . 

Survey assess health of NZ’s farming women – Yvonne O’Hara:

Farmstrong is asking farming women to complete a survey about their health and social connections to identify key wellbeing issues and provide information for research into possible tools and solutions to issues.

Farmstrong is a non-commercial initiative founded by rural insurer FMG and the Mental Health Foundation and provides programmes, advice and events that focus on farmers’ health and wellbeing.

Project manager Gerard Vaughan said the survey had had more than 820 responses so far and would close in early June. . .

Moteo apple orchards show way of the future – Rose Harding:

A new block of apples at Moteo is the way of the future, according to its developers.

The 47ha leased block being developed by T and G is planted to be two-dimensional rather than the usual three.

This is done by training growth along wires so the fruit is easily visible and easily picked. It also simplifies thinning and pruning.

T and G national growing manager Lachlan McKay says the Moteo block is the biggest 2D planting in New Zealand. He was reluctant to give an exact cost for the development. It was clearly not cheap. . . .

Kiwifruit monthly exports soar to new high:

Kiwifruit exports rose $197 million (82 percent) in April 2018 compared with April 2017, to reach $438 million, Stats NZ said. This is a new high for any month.

The rise in kiwifruit exports was the leading contributor to a $345 million rise (7.3 percent) in overall goods exports, which reached $5.1 billion. This is the second-highest for any month – the highest level was $5.5 billion in December 2017.

“Kiwifruit exports were up for all New Zealand’s principal kiwifruit markets – China, the European Union, and Japan,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. . .

Agricultural innovation in East Otago: helping to shape New Zealand’s farming industry – D.A. Stevens & K.A. Cousins:

ABSTRACT

The East Otago region has been at the forefront of agricultural advancement in New Zealand with key people leading the way in creating a culture of innovation. Rural technology developments are traced back from the emerging new biotechnology industries, through animal genetics research, improvements in hill country and pasture production, soil and fertiliser research, the introduction of deer farming and sheep breeding, to the frozen meat shipments, agricultural organisation restructuring and land reforms of the early settlers. . .


Loshni Manikam Fonterra Dairy Woman of Year

March 23, 2018

Southland dairy leadership coach Loshni Manikam is the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

The human behaviour and leadership expert took out the 2018 title from an impressive line-up which included Tararua district mayor Tracey Collis and Hawke’s Bay dairy consultant Rachel Baker. The awards ceremony was held last night in Rotorua as part of a gala dinner at the Dairy Women’s Network’s annual conference, which also marked the Network’s 20th year.

Manikam, originally from South Africa, milks 600 cows with her husband and three children in Winton, Southland. In 2007 they were named Southland Sharemilker of the Year, before progressing to their current equity partnership.

A former lawyer, Manikam transitioned from dairy farming to leadership coaching after receiving her coach certification in 2012. She is the founding director of Iceberg Coaching and a strategic consultant for Farmstrong, working to support the wellbeing of farming communities.

She is a trustee of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, a coach and facilitator of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Escalator Programme, and a Federated Farmers Southland executive member.

Dairy Women’s Network CEO Zelda de Villiers says Manikam has a unique ability to engage with communities and stakeholders at a range of levels.

“What stood out to us was Loshni’s dedication to growing leadership among farming communities, and her determination to change the headspace in which farmers operate – that they are more than what they do, they are not just their farms and their bottom lines,” says de Villiers.

“Loshni strives to be part of change in the industry, and she combines her grassroots experience and enthusiasm with her ability to engage at the highest levels. She is well-deserving of the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year title.”

Manikam says receiving the title is proof positive that the success of “an ordinary dairy farming woman” can translate far and wide. “It shows you can raise a family and still progress through the industry, reach the top, and have a say at industry level,” she says.

She says it’s an honour to be recognised for her work. “I am most passionate about people and their untapped potential. It really excites me how growing people’s awareness of their own strengths has such a positive and far-reaching impact on everyone around them.

“I see a real need in our industry to better understand the importance and benefits – both financial and non-financial – of prioritising and developing people.

“I’m passionate about effecting change by working alongside industry leaders and farming communities. I think it’s important to first build relationships and understand each group’s drivers before collaborating for change, and I hope the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year title will allow a few more doors to open to allow that to keep happening.”

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Manikam receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional/business development programme, sponsored by Fonterra.

The award was presented by Miles Hurrell, Chief Operating Officer at Fonterra. He says the award, and associated scholarship, is an investment in the future of New Zealand dairy farming.

“We are proud to support, celebrate and help develop the women in dairying who, like Fonterra, set high standards for themselves and for our industry,” says Mr Hurrell.

“Loshni is another outstanding dairy woman to add to the ranks of previous recipients of the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award. On behalf of Fonterra I wish her all the best and I have no doubt we will see more great things from her in the near future. I would also like to congratulate the other finalists Tracey and Rachel and acknowledge the contribution they have made, and continue to make, to our industry.”

 


Rural round-up

October 13, 2017

Irrigation: what politicians need to know – Sam Robinson:

These are my reflections on irrigation projects, including the retention of Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd, for the policymakers and politicians who are going to be running the country for the next three years. The intention is to balance the multiple one-liners, 10-second soundbites and vitriolic comments that sprang out of the water debate during the election.

Ø Food is New Zealand’s largest export by value. Growing food depends on water. Irrigation allows water to be applied at precisely the right time to optimise quality food production.

Ø There is a strong correlation between irrigation and regional economic development . . 

Wool fights back in global campaign to combat synthetics – Gerard Hutching:

One of Europe’s leading carpet makers is preparing to launch a campaign promoting the virtues of New Zealand wool.

Dutch company Best Wool Carpets wants to fight back against the dominance of synthetic products which dominate the global carpet market with a whopping 96 per cent share.

It aims to counter some of the falsehoods propagated by the synthetic industry, such as that wool carpet fades in UV light. . . 

Farm looks like a duck pond – Alexa Cook:

A Bay of Plenty farmer says this has been the toughest year of farming in his 35 years on the land.

Kevin Clark is a dairy farmer on the banks of the Waimana River near Whakatane, and lost large chunks of land, fences, and farm races when the river burst its banks earlier this year during Cyclones Debbie and Cook.

The family’s farms on both sides of the river were left with thick layers of silt and debris, and dairy cows had to be culled or sent away for grazing. . . 

Lincoln brings New Zealand’s national park legacy to China:

A major exhibition on the development of New Zealand’s National Parks has just opened in Beijing.

Produced by Lincoln University, the exhibition showcases New Zealand’s protected areas and encompasses a range of exhibits, including a three-metre tall giant moa skeleton, outdoor equipment, signs, books, and historic documents.

The project is part of Lincoln’s five-year collaboration with leading Chinese Universities and links with the Chinese Government’s push to establish a national agency to manage its protected areas. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Matt Wyeth – Claire Inkson:

Proud to Be a Farmer NZ Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer Five Quick Questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them.
Today we talk to Kaituna Valley Proud farmer Matt Wyeth.

1. How long have you been farming?

The best thing I knew right from a young age was I wanted to be a farmer. So it was easy to leave school and follow my dreams – Shepherding, Lincoln University, shearing, rearing calves, farm management, share farming, ownership, now 17 years of living the dream. . .

 

2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries open soon:

With just over a week to go until entries open in the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional competitions are ready to host launch events.

General Manager Chris Keeping says the launch events provide an opportunity to find out more information about the Awards and which category they are eligible to enter.

Entries in the New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year categories will be accepted online at –

www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz from Friday 20 October. . . 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2017

Better communication will bridge rural urban divide – Hayden Dillon:

The farming community needs to step up to help lessen the rift between city and country.

I believe the debates during the course of the recent election campaign oversimplified some issues that are core to the agri sector, such as water and soil quality. These have created divisions that are not helping New Zealand move forward.

As with many complex issues, the rush to simplify the discussions and debate has seen farming, in particular dairying, blamed for many of our environmental problems.

That’s simply not correct. . .

Appreciate world’s best office :

Stopping to appreciate the small things in life really helps people handle the big stuff. 

That was one of the messages coming through loud and clear from farmers involved in rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong, project leader Gerard Vaughan said.

Over the last two years Vaughan and video maker Nigel Beckford have been busy interviewing Kiwi farmers about what they do to keep well and avoid burnout.

They’ve been sharing the best tips and advice in short video clips on the Farmstrong website – http://www.farmstrong.co.nz. . . 

It’s not smart to tough it out on your own:

It’s Mental Health Week and the theme is “Nature is Key – Unlock Your Wellbeing”.

The idea is to escaping stressful or ‘same old rut’ work and home environments to eat your lunch in a park or at the beach, to take the family for a weekend bush walk, etc.  It can lift spirits, put you back in touch with Nature, and get you thinking about your health, your priorities – and whether you may need to reach out for help or advice.

Federated Farmers President Katie Milne welcomes the focus on mental health and talking through issues and feelings with others.  “Our great outdoors can also be a wonderful tonic.”

But for rural folk, Mother Nature can also be a source of considerable stress.  Storms, floods, ailing livestock, droughts, etc., can ratchet up financial woes, relationship strains and the feeling ‘it’s all too much’.. . .

Mental health support needed for farmers – Alexa Cook:

A Waikato farmer is pushing for the government to provide better mental health support for the rural sector.

Research shows that the suicide rate in New Zealand’s rural sector is up to 50 percent higher than in urban areas.

Dairy farmer Richard Cookson has had his own struggle with mental health, and said while there is good crisis support for farmers, such as the Rural Support Trust, there isn’t enough for depression.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Mr Cookson said a good start would be free counselling to get farmers in the door, but the sector also needs quite specific help. . . 

Media accepts pseudoscience drivel unchallenged – Doug Edmeades:

 Damn it all. Someone is not listening and I am now forced to repeat myself. My last column ended thus:

“Without an independent principled fourth estate we may be drifting away from being a society in which our policies are based on evidence, rational thought and logic analysis and which encourages and embraces criticism. If we are not careful we could drift back to a time when humans believed in alchemy, witches and taniwha”.

In this last week, as if on cue, three media outlets coughed up three items of demonstrable drivel.

Exhibit 1: The NZ Farmers Weekly (October 2) gave their opinion page to Phyllis Tichinin in an article headlined, Urea cascade cause of problems. She attributes many animal health, soil and environmental problems to the overuse of urea. Opinion yes, evidence no. Her whole thesis fails the logical test of cause and effect. How can one thing – in this case urea – have so many unrelated effects? As one qualified reader expressed it to me: “I struggle to find one fact or one statement that isn’t a falsehood.” . . .

Is this synthetic food thing for real? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Synthetic food is being talked about rather more than it is being eaten.

The balance might change in future as the technologies develop, but at the moment there is more hype and interest than hunger and intake.

The Impossible Burger seems to be the focus at the moment. The burger is made in the laboratory from wheat (grown in a field) and involves a ‘haem’ from legumes. The haem is pink (it is responsible for the colour in healthy, nitrogen-fixing clover root nodules) and so confers the burger with ‘bleeding’ properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Doug Avery – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Marlborough Proud Farmer Doug Avery whose Resilient Farmer platform aims to deliver powerful support to New Zealand farmers across the three pillars — financial, environmental and social. Through road shows and ongoing mentoring, he helps farmers to adopt new thinking and practices. Check out his best selling book The Resilient Farmer, and his website http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz for more information .
How long have I been farming?

46 years but I am only involved in the directorship of the business now and financial control.
What sort of farming are you involved in?
We grow wool, meat, crops , dairy support and people. . .

Fieldays growth underlines primary sector importance:

The importance of the primary sector to the New Zealand economy is emphasised today by Fieldays’ 2017 Economic Impact Report.

A report prepared by the University of Waikato Management School’s Institute of Business Research, reveals that the biggest agricultural expo in the southern hemisphere, generated an estimated $238 million to New Zealand’s GDP, an increase of 24.7 per cent when compared to 2016.

Federated Farmers’ Board member Chris Lewis is particularly familiar with Fieldays and regards the event as a key indicator to how the country is faring. . . 

 


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