Rural round-up

13/10/2017

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

12/10/2017

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. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/07/2017

Family’s vision for property vindicated – Sally Rae:

Excellence in New Zealand’s sheep industry was celebrated in Southland this week with the annual Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards, as Sally Rae reports.

When Alan and Jean Hore bought Beaumont Station in 1972, they were told they would never fatten a lamb on the property.

Fast forward 45 years and the Hore family — Alan and Jean and son Richard and his wife, Abby — won  supplier of the year at Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill.

Richard Hore yesterday acknowledged his father’s vision, adding that what had been achieved on the 28,000ha Otago high-country property had been through family determination and development. . . 

Farmers few in number but big on generating money-making food – Joyce Wyllie:

 All fine folk who produce food to feed peoples of the world please put your hand up. Then bend it behind your head and over your shoulder, then with a backwards and forwards motion of the wrist give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

In a Fieldays speech farmers were encouraged to call themselves “food producers” and become “louder and prouder” at telling their good stories. The presenter was Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy. Rather than preaching to the converted at an agricultural gathering, he’s in a prime position to loudly spread that message of pride in food production – and tell this great story – along the corridors of power and city streets.

Championing all the committed people diligently producing food for both local and overseas consumers through all cycles of weather, challenges of changing expectations and undulating prices would be mighty encouraging. . . 

Big kiwifruit growth plans for Maori – Pam Tipa:

About 8% of total kiwifruit production comes from Maori orchards, and now there is an ambitious goal to get up to 20%, says Maori Kiwifruit Growers Forum chairman Tiaki Hunia.

That growth can come in a number of ways, he told Rural News. It can come from new developments on bare land or from mergers or acquisitions, and a large proportion of Maori land is leased to outside investors. . .

Weka farmer takes on DOC: ‘I’m prepared to go to jail’ – Charlie Mitchell:

Decades after he began farming and eating weka, renegade conservationist Roger Beattie is ready to become a martyr.

The Christchurch man has long dreamed of commercialising endangered species as a means of saving them.

He believes weka and kiwi should be farmed like sheep and cattle, cooked and served on dinner plates for a premium price. . . 

All well with Waitaki dairy farms – Sally Brooker:

Waitaki’s dairy farmers and their cows are wintering well.

North Otago Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Lyndon Strang told Central Rural Life that conditions before calving were ”pretty good”.

Heifers on many farms would begin to calve in mid to late July.

Although the mating period had been ”a bit of a problem for most people”, since then there had been good crop and grass growth, Mr Strang said.

”There’s plenty of feed for winter.

”What little rainfall we’ve had has been hanging round. The cows are still on top of the paddocks and wintering quite well.” . . 

City slicker Lisa Kendall a hot chance in rural-dominated Young Farmer of the Year finals

She may be a city girl known as the “Karaka kid”, but Lisa Kendall is holding her own against a bunch of country blokes in the finals of New Zealand’s Young Farmer of the Year.

With the final round of the competition about to get underway, Lisa says acceptance among her fellow farmers was a little more work for her than some of her rivals.

“I get teased a bit for being an Aucklander in the farming community,” Ms Kendall laughs. . .

Living and farming well in the Marlborough region:

Farming well and thinking healthy go together like sheep and shearing.

So, take a breather from the farm on Wednesday 19 July – Farmstrong and the Rural Support Trust have two free events on how healthy thinking can help you live well and farm well.

If you’re a farmer, grower or work in the farming community (including as a rural professional providing support services to farming), you can hear medical doctor and author Dr Tom Mullholland speak in Blenheim first thing over breakfast or over dinner in Ward. . . 

Ag media the pick of choice for Elise:

THE rich tradition of Australian rural journalism is being celebrated once more through the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation’s JB Fairfax award.

Applications have now opened for the 2018 JB Fairfax award for rural and regional journalism, the scholarship now entering its 10th year.

This year there is a new twist to the award, with the traditional request to write on a subject selected by the RASF replaced with an invitation to write an inspirational piece about a member of rural or regional Australia. . . 


Rural round-up

18/05/2017

UK farming looks doomed – Allan Barber:

Two contrasting publications have each given a pretty damning picture of the state of farming and food production in pre-Brexit UK; and despite the conclusions of the Ferguson Cardo report into the future of British agriculture, it is hard to see how this situation will change for the better without a huge amount of pain on the way. But equally it is almost impossible to imagine a continuation of the status quo within the EU, where in 2015 70% of UK farm income came from direct and environmental subsidies.

A much shorter piece in the well-known satirical paper Private Eye captures the problems faced by UK dairy farmers very cogently, although these have been well publicised already. The number of dairy herds has fallen like a stone since 1993 – the year the Milk Marketing Board was abolished – when there were 33,000 herds, compared with fewer than 10,000 today. The cost of milk production this year is forecast to rise to 32.5 pence per litre, while the price farmers receive is anchored at 25p or even worse predicted to fall even lower. Not surprisingly more closures are expected. . . 

No idle time for top dairy woman – Sally Rae:

Jessie Chan-Dorman’s determination was evident from an early age.

At 16, she left home and funded herself through secondary school and university.

Ms Chan-Dorman (39) was named 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Queenstown last week.

The inspirational Canterbury businesswoman’s career spanned farming, business and governance. . . 

Interim Project Director Appointed to Dam:

Tasman District Council and Waimea Irrigators Limited, on behalf of the Waimea Water Augmentation Project (WWAP), have appointed John Hutton to the role of Interim Project Director.

The appointment is necessary now because the WWAP team overseeing the delivery of the various work streams has come to the view the project is sufficiently advanced that it needs a step up in the level of direction and a dedicated project office needs to be established.

John Hutton’s tasks are to: . . 

University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards 2017 winners announced:

When Blanche Morrogh (nee Murray) started Kai Ora Honey in 2012, she had no idea it would bloom so quickly into a multi-million dollar global concern.
Today, the Far North-based whānau-owned business operates 2500 hives and exports 50 tonnes of Active Manuka Honey to customers in Asia, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Kuwait, with plans to export 90 tonnes-plus by 2020.

Her achievements were honoured on Friday night when Morrogh (Ngāti Kuri and Te Rarawa) received the Young Māori Business Leader Award in the 2017 University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards at a sold-out dinner. . . 

New $5 million earthquake fund for farmers and growers:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $5 million in new funding support for quake-struck farmers and growers.

The new Earthquake Recovery Fund will support projects that investigate long-term land use options and will also fund professional advisory services for future land use planning.

“The November earthquake has caused significant erosion and damage to land in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough regions. Farmers, growers and foresters are now faced with the challenge of determining what to do with their land going forward and this fund is designed to help with those decisions,” says Mr Guy.

The fund is designed to provide support to farmers and growers in two different ways, depending on their needs. . . 

Entertaining evening on wellbeing coming to Kaikoura:

Take a night off on Wednesday 24 May – Farmstrong and the Rural Support Trust are inviting you to find out how healthy thinking can help you live well, and if you are in farming, to farm well too.

The free event will kick off with a free bite to eat before medical doctor and author, Dr Tom Mullholland, shares his simple and practical Healthy Thinking tools to help you manage the ups and downs that come with rural life.

“The stress that people have been under from the earthquakes alongside those in high-pressure professions such as farming, can take a toll on our wellbeing,” Farmstrong spokesperson Gerard Vaughan says. . . 

Country’s top bull breeders celebrated:

Some of the country’s top bull breeders came together in Hamilton this week  to celebrate their contribution to the next generation of elite genetics for the New Zealand dairy industry.

Breeders from all over the country (listed below) attended LIC’s Breeders’ Day after supplying a bull calf to the co-operative which went on to form part of the 2016 Premier Sires artificial breeding bull teams. The teams are responsible for approximately three out of four dairy cows being milked on New Zealand dairy farms.

LIC chairman and Nelson dairy farmer, Murray King, said the event recognises a partnership that secures a productive future for the average kiwi dairy farm, the New Zealand dairy industry and New Zealand economy. . . 

Fired-up tourism infrastructure fund appreciated:

Farmers and other ratepayers in tourist hotspots will be pleased the Government has upped the ante in co-funding new infrastructure, Federated Farmers local government spokesman Katie Milne says.

“Earlier this year Federated Farmers described a $12 million regional tourism infrastructure fund to help councils cope with tens of thousands of freedom campers as ‘a damp tea towel on a bonfire’.

“It seems the Government has heard our message, and that of others, and called out the fire brigade,” Katie says. . . 

Another Feds’ success at Dairy Woman Awards:

Federated Farmers is delighted that Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Jessie Chan Dorman was crowned 2017 Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie received the prestigious award at a ceremony in Queenstown last night (Thursday). She follows in the footsteps of Federated Farmers’ Board Member Katie Milne who was a previous winner in 2015. . . 


Rural round-up

09/02/2016

Southern Field Days: from humble beginnings to huge event – Brittany Pickett:

From humble beginnings the Southern Field Days at Waimumu have transformed into the second largest in the country. Brittany Pickett set out to find out how Southland’s biennial agricultural magnet began and where it goes to next.

Some have dubbed it the “friendly field days”, a more laid-back version of the National Field Days, but behind the scenes Southern Field Days is anything but laid-back.

Like most events, the Southern Field Days began with an idea; hold an ag-focused event for Southland farmers which was farm-related and had a technical agricultural focus. . . 

Subsidies stall recovery – Neal Wallace:

Subsidies for European and United States farmers, that could be stalling the much-anticipated recovery in global dairy prices, are now being investigated by the New Zealand dairy industry.  

The subsidies were mostly linked to environmental protection rather than milk production but special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen and Dairy Companies Association chief executive Kimberly Crewther both believed the payments were shielding farmers from market reality.

“If price signals are masked for European farmers it could mean a delayed response to the dairy price cycle,” Crewther said. . .

‘People Lift’ having an effect – Sally Rae:

During challenging times such as those the dairy industry is now experiencing, being efficient on-farm is crucial.

So for Waipahi farm manager James Matheson, being involved in People Lift has been a beneficial experience.

The initiative, which is being trialled in the Waikato and Southland, has been created by DairyNZ. . . 

Training for Farmstrong cycling tour – Sally Rae:

A cycle seat is not the sort of saddle that Olivia Ross is ordinarily accustomed to.

But Miss Ross (27), a keen equestrian rider and barrel racer, has been enjoying a change of horsepower.

As Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s southern South Island extension manager, a keen Young Farmer, and supporter of all things rural, she has embraced Farmstrong, an initiative launched in June last year to promote wellbeing for farmers. . . 

Big traders forced to rethink –

A World Trade Organisation ban on agricultural export subsidies was more important for its signals on where global trade negotiations could go next than the ban itself, former top trade negotiator Crawford Falconer says.  

Fonterra immediately hailed a “watershed moment for global trade” with the removal of what it described as the “most damaging” subsidy available to governments wanting to support their farmers.  

The description of the subsidies – undoubtedly a drag on world dairy prices in the 1980s and 90s but not used for the best part of a decade – raised eyebrows among some local trade-watchers. . .

Historic Otago coastal property up for sale – Brooke Hobson:

Another piece of New Zealand paradise is up for sale, this time at the other end of the South Island.

Nature Wonders, a privately owned 172-hectare property at Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula is on the market as of today.

It comes after Awaroa Inlet in the Able Tasman National Park was listed for sale and a Givealittle campaign started for Kiwis to buy a piece of the property and gift it the Department of Conservation to oversee. . . 

Duck eggs hatch into growing business for Taranaki couple – Christpher Reive:

Forget chickens, duck eggs are the next big thing.

After doing their research about the health benefits of the duck eggs, Taranaki couple Dawn and have started to make a living out of making people, including themselves, healthier. 

“It’s not just about us and the ducks, it’s about helping people,” Dawn said. . . 

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games

Nathan Guy the Minister for Primary Industries and Steve Holland founder of the ‪#‎hilux‬ ‪#‎ruralgames‬ finding a good moist cowpat to throw.

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games's photo.

TVNZ coverage of the games is here  and Newshub’s report is here with the Minister trying cow-pat throwing and saying: “Sometimes we dish it out, sometimes we receive it.”

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games

Who will be judged Outstanding Rural Sports Competitor at this year’s Games and win the Grumpy Graham Trophy? Here’s Games founder Steve Hollander with Mitre 10 New Zealand‘s Stan Scott who made the shield in memory of our founding patron Neil ‘Grumpy’ Graham.
Hilux New Zealand Rural Games's photo.


Rural round-up

15/08/2015

Central Plains Water irrigation scheme opens in Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official opening of Stage 1 of the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury today, which has the potential to create more than $1 billion in new economic activity.

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme, when completed, will irrigate 60,000 hectares of dairy, arable, horticulture and stock finishing land between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.

“This is an exciting day for the Canterbury region, given that farmers and growers have suffered through a severe drought this year. This shows the clear need for this kind of water storage project. . . 

INZ applauds Central Plains Water for providing farmers reliable water for diversification and efficiency:

“Today marks a big step for irrigation infrastructure in New Zealand. Central Plains Water will help sustain Canterbury,” says Nicky Hyslop, Chair of IrrigationNZ on the official opening of New Zealand’s largest irrigation scheme for some years, by the Prime Minister John Key.

Mrs Hyslop attended the opening with IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Access to reliable water is particularly important at the moment during a dairy downturn as it will allow farmers to diversify and weather the storm,” says Mrs Hyslop. . . 

Fonterra cuts back GDT whole milk powder by a third over the next year – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is reducing by a third the amount of whole milk powder, the key commodity export ingredient, it sells on the GlobalDairyTrade platform over the next 12 months due to persistent low prices.

The Auckland-based cooperative’s forecast cut the offer volumes over the next 12 months for its total New Zealand products by a further 56,045 metric tonnes, following a 62,930 metric tonne decrease in the past three months, it said in a statement.

Fonterra managing director global ingredients Kelvin Wickham said the bulk of that is whole milk powder, and milk collected will be shifted from whole milk powder production into other value-add parts of the business that will achieve a higher margin. . . 

Fonterra ratings on review at S&P in face of high debt levels, low global prices – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group’s credit ratings were put on CreditWatch with negative implications by Standard & Poor’s, which said there was a risk of weakness in the dairy exporter’s financial metrics given its high debt levels at a low point in the global price cycle.

The Auckland-based company has ‘A’ long-term and ‘A-1’ short-term ratings with S&P, which were put on CreditWatch following its announcement of a lower forecast milk price due to weak demand and surplus supply in the global dairy market.

“This ongoing weakness in the global dairy market has occurred when Fonterra’s debt is at very high levels due to a large acquisition and peak capital expenditure, placing downward pressure on Fonterra’s key financial metrics,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Brenda Wardlaw. . . 

Fonterra – Anchor extends portfolio with additional Kids’ Milk range in China:

Our China Brands business recently hit another milestone with the launch of the ultra-premium Anchor Kids’ Golden Milk.

The new milk has 3.6g/100ml protein, a high calcium content and no added sweeteners or additives other than vitamins. 

Business Development Director of China Brands Manoj Namboodiri said the team designed and launched Anchor Kids’ Golden Milk to meet the growing demand from Chinese parents for ultra-premium quality, nutritious and unsweetened kids’ milk.  . . 

Misery peddlers are milking a crisis – Mike Hosking:

Yes, these are tough times for dairy farmers but we should trust those with the industry’s interests at heart.

My plea this morning is that we give our dairy farmers a break, that we cut them some slack and start to get on board with what they already know. Because, let’s be frank, they know dairy a lot better than all the others who, from the comfort of their urban existence, are lining up to tell us the world is ending.

Just to be clear, this will be a tough season. The return of $3.85 is not flash and it’s a mile away from $8.40.

Yes, most farmers won’t make a profit. Yes, some farmers might not make it out the other side, especially those who have gone in late and borrowed big to do so. But what I admire so much about the farming community is they’re realists. . . 

Is organic farming making climate change worse? Demand for ‘sustainable’ food has increased greenhouse gas emissions – Richard Gray:

It has a reputation for being better for us and the environment, but new research suggests organic food may actually be harming the planet.

Scientists have found that rather than reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released, organic farming may actually be increasing them.

They found the shift to large scale organic farming in order to meet growing demand for organic products in shops has led to an increase in emissions for each acre of land. . .

Fit farmers with Farmstrong – Anna Russell:

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and FMG Insurance, along with support from NZX-Agri, launched the initiative Farmstrong. It is an initiative designed to give farmers the skills and resources to live well, farm well, and get the most out of life.

The three areas they focus on are applicable in any work environment, and particularly can help during times of transformation and change:

Time Out – taking regular breaks is an important part of remaining fresh and positive in day-to-day work. So is getting a good night sleep. . . 

Jordy Nelson’s offseason activity? Farming – Anna Katherine Clemmons:

FOR MANY NFL PROS, the offseason means private islands and poolside cabanas. Not for Jordy Nelson. The 30-year-old, who set the Packers’ single-season receiving record last year with 1,519 yards, swaps his cleats for work boots on his family’s 4,000-acre Kansas farm. For five or six weeks each year, he drives a combine and cuts wheat, sometimes for 12 hours a day, or rounds up some of the 1,000-cow herd. “Working cattle is my favorite farm duty,” he says. “It’s interactive, and you’re on your feet all day.” . . .

 


Quote of the day

10/08/2015

Farmstrong's photo.

Sweat is fat crying because you just punched it in the face – Farmstrong.


Rural round-up

07/08/2015

Rabobank Report: Moving Globally; What role will China play in the global beef market?:

Rabobank sees great potential in China’s beef market, and believes that Chinese investors will play an influential role in the global beef market over the next decade. According to Rabobank’s latest report, Moving Globally: What role will China play in the global beef market?, China’s beef demand will grow an additional 2.2 million tonnes by 2025. Driven by the weak domestic production, but with strong demand, the beef sector will likely become the first agricultural sector where China has high integration with the rest of the world and Chinese investors are expected to play an influential role in the global beef market.

In addition to the volume gap, China’s beef market also demonstrates potential for value-added and branded beef products. Strong demand from the food service and retail market channels provides opportunities for both Chinese and foreign companies in the further processing sector. . .

 

Fonterra’s restructure more about poor strategy than milk price – Allan Barber:

When Fonterra was formed back in 2001, there was a great sense of optimism about the potential for a New Zealand dairy company to compete on a truly global scale. The industry’s infighting and parochialism would be a thing of the past and the clear intention was to use the greater efficiencies and scale to create a substantially better performing business model.

The big question 14 years down the track is whether that objective has even remotely been achieved. Fonterra is the world’s leading exporter of milk products and the fourth largest dairy processor, so achievement to date appears consistent with the objective. But for many observers there was another, more ambitious expectation: to establish an internationally competitive value added business to compare and compete with Nestle and Danone. . .

Dairy sector needs to work together to manage downturn:

National accounting and business advisory firm Crowe Horwath is calling on all stakeholders in the dairy industry to work together to help the sector get through the current difficult period of lower milk solid prices.

On the back of dairy companies announcing a string of forecast milk price downgrades and prices continuing to plunge at the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions, predictions are the current hard times for the dairy sector could potentially last another 18 months to two years.

Crowe Horwath says given the scale of the challenge now being faced by the industry, doing nothing is not an option for anyone involved, including farmers, banks, farm consultants and business advisors. . .

 

Fish & Game Calls for Fonterra to Lift Its Game After Pollution Conviction:

Fish & Game says Fonterra needs to lift its game after the dairy giant was fined $174,000 for several pollution offences under the Resource Management Act.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council prosecuted Fonterra for polluting the and other waterways after several wastewater system failures at Fonterra’s Edgecumbe dairy plant.

The offences occurred several times between September 2014 and April 2015.

Fonterra pleaded guilty to six charges and was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court by Judge Smith. . .

 

I’m worried! I’m sympathising with organic farmers over a land use conflict! – Jim Rose:

Writing this blog of sound mind and sober disposition, I still have considerable sympathy with two organic farmers over a land use conflict they have with the neighbouring gun range.

Local land use regulations allows a gun club to set up 600 m away with competitive shooting days all day for 88 days a year. That is a voluntary self restraint. They could hold shooting competitions every day of the year. The local land use regulations allow the use of guns on rural land. The gun club used this absence of a prohibition on the use of guns in the frequency of use to set up a gun range to fire guns all day long on rural land. . . .

Market Continues to Show Strength:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a continuing upward trend at today’s South Island wool sale saw prices increase.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies decreased from 0.6314 to 0.6181, down 2.1 percent. The US dollar rate was down to .6520 from .6670 which meant increased prices in NZC terms.

Of the 5,564 bales on offer 5,260 sold, a clearance of 95 percent. . .

 

Matariki Forestry Group announces recapitalisation:

Matariki Forestry Group (“Matariki”) today announced a NZ$242 million capital infusion from Rayonier Inc., its largest shareholder. This injection of capital will be used for the repayment of all outstanding amounts under its existing NZ$235 million credit facility and for general corporate purposes.

Upon completion of this capital infusion, Rayonier’s ownership in Matariki will increase from 65% to approximately 77% and the Phaunos Timber Fund ownership will be reduced from 35% to approximately 23%. The capital infusion is subject to certain closing conditions including New Zealand Overseas Investment Office approval and is expected to close by year end. Matariki will realise interest cost savings of approximately NZ$15 million annually as a result of the recapitalisation. . .

 

NZARN says strategic feed approach key to farmer viability:

Nutrition experts have entered the milk price payout debate saying that a strategic approach and optimising home grown and supplementary feed resources are key to long-term viability.

The New Zealand Association of Ruminant Nutritionists (NZARN) urges farmers, in an article published on their website (www.nzarn.org.nz) to benchmark themselves against the best performing farms to identify areas for improvement.

Dr. Julian Waters, NZARN Chairman says, “Maximising utilisation of home grown resources such as pasture, silage and crops should be the basis for a profitable business, with a sound strategy to incorporate supplements to increase efficiencies when home grown feed is limited.” . . .

 Internet Provider Puts Farmers’ Wellbeing First:

New Zealand internet provider, Wireless Nation, further demonstrates its commitment to the rural sector in a new agreement with Farmstrong, an initiative to promote wellbeing for all farmers and growers across New Zealand.

Wireless Nation’s zero-rated data agreement means that its Satellite Broadband customers can access Farmstrong’s website without the data counting towards their data cap.

Wireless Nation’s technical director, Tom Linn says he is passionate about making internet connectivity easier for people living in rural areas. . .

New Forests agrees to purchase Marlborough timber plantations from Flight Group:

New Forests today announced that it has reached agreement to purchase approximately 4,200 hectares of freehold land and softwood plantations from the Flight Group. The plantations consist of radiata pine and are located in the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island.

The agreement forms part of a larger transaction by Flight Group, including the purchase of the Flight Timbers sawmilling assets by Timberlink, an Australian timber products processor that is also an investee company of New Forests. Completion of the plantation purchase by New Forests is subject to approval by the Overseas Investment Office. . .

 


Rural round-up

05/06/2015

Central Plains Water moves to Stage II planning:

Central Plains Water is proceeding with planning for an enlarged Stage 2 of the $375m project on the back of fresh funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) Irrigation Accelerator Funding (IAF).

The $3.5 million investment from the IAF will allow CPW to proceed with the first phase of the Stage 2 design. This investment is one of two that the IAF has committed to CPW, which must match the commitment dollar-for-dollar. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces appointment of new general manager Country Banking:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Hayley Moynihan to the new role of general manager Country Banking.

Subject to regulatory approval from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Ms Moynihan will commence in the role from July 2, 2015.

Reporting to Rabobank New Zealand chief executive officer Ben Russell, the general manager Country Banking will be responsible for leadership of Rabobank’s rural banking business throughout New Zealand.

 

Farmers urged to have their say on future plans for fighting bovine TB:

New Zealand cattle and deer farmers are being urged to get involved in how the fight against bovine TB is carried out, with a review of the Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Plan underway.

Since the start of 2000, New Zealand has spent more than $1.2 billion fighting bovine TB and controlling the pests (especially possums) that spread the disease.

Independent Chair of the Plan Governance Group (PGG) Chris Kelly said, “To protect the health of farmed cattle and deer and our good international trade reputation around animal products, it is critical we continue to build on this large investment and maintain the low TB rates we see today.” . .

Research findings a promising start for PhD student:

Preliminary findings from a research project at the University of Waikato could mean good things for farmers dealing with the effects of ongoing drought.

Increasing drought resilience
Doctoral student Jack Pronger’s research focuses on identifying approaches to increase pastoral drought resilience by using more diverse mixes of pasture species. He’s comparing the seasonal water use of mixed-sward pasture systems (a combination of different grass, legume and herb species) with more traditional ryegrass/clover systems under dairy grazing. . .

Healthy thinking workshops for rural people:

A 1980s era ambulance will be on the road soon, helping to bring practical advice to farmers and others in the rural community about looking after themselves.

It is part of a new programme, Farmstrong, that rural insurer, FMG and the Mental Health Foundation have launched.

It is taking a different approach to other rural mental health initiatives, by promoting well-being, with advice on subjects such as nutrition, managing fatigue, exercise, and coping with pressure. . .

Growing value – an uncertain future:

The uncertain future of the dairy sector is currently top-of-mind for many primary sector leaders, reports KPMG New Zealand.

That was a key theme arising from the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2015, titled “Growing Value”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says conversations about the dairy industry’s future have “changed dramatically in the last year”.

“The extent of the downturn in milk returns for the 2014/2015 season was not expected. The belief that prices had moved to a new plain, driven by insatiable Chinese demand, has disappeared.”  . . .

Farmers score with new DairyNZ app launching at Fieldays:

A tool to allow farmers to perform one of their most important jobs on a smartphone will soon be available when DairyNZ launches its new free Body Condition Scoring (BCS) App at the National Agricultural Fieldays next week in the Waikato.

The app gives farmers the opportunity to body condition score cows on their smartphone using DairyNZ’s Body Condition Scoring Made Easy field guide.

DairyNZ animal husbandry specialist Andrea Henry says condition scoring cows is such an important job, DairyNZ wanted to make it as easy as possible. . .

Blocks help minimise metabolic disorder risks in herds:

It’s the calm before the calving season and a bit of planning now will help herds get through without the risk of metabolic disorders, such as milk fever, which can lead to downer cows or impact future milk production.

The disorders are prevalent just before or after calving, triggered by an inability to mobilise enough calcium. Subclinical cases of milk fever can be hard to pick up, with industry data indicating that for every downer cow it is likely that between 10 and 15 others in the herd will have early stage milk fever symptoms.

“It’s estimated that the cost of a clinical case of milk fever can reach up to $1,500 per cow* – including lost milk production, reduced fertility, and increased likelihood of culling due to other diseases such as mastitis. Not only is the risk a costly one, it’s also unnecessary,” says SealesWinslow Product Development Manager, Jackie Aveling. . .


Farmstrong launches

03/06/2015

This media release arrived in my in-box this morning:

Farmstrong, a new initiative to promote wellbeing for all farmers and growers across New Zealand is being launched today.

The programme is a joint initiative between leading rural insurer FMG and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (MHF).

Farmstrong will help shift the focus of mental health from depression and illness to one of wellbeing.  In its first year Farmstrong will aim to make a positive difference to the lives of 1,000 farmers.

“Farmstrong will help to highlight that farmers are the most important asset on the farm and that by taking proactive steps to look after their mental and physical heath, they’re better prepared to run their business and support their family, staff and community” says Chris Black chief executive FMG.

Research shows that farmers are great at looking after stock and equipment but often neglect their own needs. In a recent online survey, farmers identified wellbeing and quality of life as being top of mind and said they wanted more information on how to look after themselves.  

Through www.farmstrong.co.nz farmers can access practical tools and resources that will help them take care of themselves, with information on topics such as nutrition, managing fatigue, exercise, the importance of getting off the farm and coping with pressure.

Farmstrong will also help farmers connect with each other and share experiences via its social media channels, through regional farmer ambassadors and by attending local events such as Dr Tom Mulholland’s Healthy Thinking workshops, and the Farmstrong Fit4Farming Cycle Tour.

“In the same way that farmers have a system for milking cows or shearing sheep for example, they need a practical system to keep themselves in good shape too.  By having this they’ll likely feel better, improve productivity, and be better prepared to handle the ups and downs of farming” says Mr Black.

“Just making small behaviour changes over a period of time can help support big improvements in our mental and physical wellbeing” says Judi Clements, chief executive Mental Health Foundation.  “Every farmer’s performance is affected by their level of health, fitness and happiness. We’re not born knowing how to maintain these – we need to actively practise strategies that will improve our mental health. Farmstrong will help show farmers how they can do this,” says Ms Clements.

Farmstrong funding has been provided by FMG and the charity Movember, via the Mental Health Foundation.  “As a catalytic funder of men’s health programmes globally, the Movember Foundation is a proud co-funder of this groundbreaking collaborative programme. We believe Farmstrong is an innovative and powerful programme that will build on the strength of NZ farmers and their community” says Robert Dunne NZ Country Director, Movember Foundation.


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