Rural round-up

September 17, 2020

Rethink needed:

Environment minister David Parker has had a long and tempestuous relationship with the farming sector.

His latest fight with farmers has come about due to the new freshwater regulations that recently came into force. Especially aggrieved are southern farmers who have pointed out that many of the new rules concerning winter cropping were “almost unfarmable” in the south.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young even called on farmers in the region to ignore the new requirements on getting resource consents for winter grazing until there was more practicality concerning it. This got Parker’s goat and he came out of hiding to decry Young’s call saying that “no one was above the law”.  . . 

Waikato A&P Show cancelled due to uncertainty around Covid-19 – Maja Burry:

The Waikato A&P Show, due to get underway late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty around Covid-19.

The event was meant kick off in Hamilton on 30 October, marking its 128th year.

Showing Waikato said uncertainty about the Covid-19 alert levels which would apply on the traditional dates meant instead it would be holding a handful of small events open to competitors only.

There would also be an inaugural National Online Show involving other A&P show associations. . . 

Local Government NZ’s manifesto asks the right questions:

Local Government New Zealand is spot on when it says that all political parties’ policies should be assessed on how well they provide for local voices to be heard and taken into account, Federated Farmers says.

“We agree that central government policy and legislation must be able to be tailored for the differing needs, circumstances, capacity and capability of local communities,” Feds national board member Chris Allen says.

Federated Farmers also agrees with the assertion in the LGNZ manifesto released today that successive governments have placed too much weight on the use of top-down, one-size-fits all solutions. . . 

Kiwi dairy innovation leading the way:

Dairy is New Zealand’s top earner following the impact of COVID on tourism and education. Much now rests on the shoulders of busy farmers, some of whom are still struggling to get key staff back through New Zealand’s borders.

Annual breeding is a key pressure-point in the dairy calendar that requires skill and experience. A local Hamilton company is now attracting global attention for an imaginative solution to a perennial farming headache.

Kiwi dairy farmers need to know exactly when to artificially inseminate cows. FlashMate was created to stick to cow hair during the breeding period to interpret cow behaviour. The red light comes on at just the right moment when the cow is on heat and the unit is easily removed after breeding without bothering cows. “Reading body language when you have as many as 1,200 cows isn’t easy” says Matt Yallop, one of the creators of FlashMate. . . 

NZ Plant Producers issues its manifesto for the 2020 election:

Our organisation represents more than 100 plant producers who produce the plants growing food Kiwis eat and export, regenerating New Zealand’s forests, beautifying our urban landscapes, and being planted by millions of Kiwis in their backyards.

New Zealand Plant Producers is a voluntary organisation with more than 100 plant producer members, comprising New Zealand’s most respected nursery leaders and businesses. While our work benefits all New Zealand plant producers, it is funded by our members as proof of their commitment to our industry and the benefits it produces for New Zealand’s economy and well-being.

This election we raise eight issues which much be addressed so our members can continue to thrive and produce the plants New Zealand so badly needs. . . 

Pacific seasonal workers could be a lifeline for horticulture:

John Fiso, Chairman of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF), believes New Zealand can achieve a win-win by providing financial support for Pacific people from neighbouring island nations to head to New Zealand and help our horticultural sector in the upcoming fruit picking season.

“Our brothers and sisters in the Pacific islands are struggling for income due to the collapse of tourism in the region, this is a way to help them – and help our growers who are extremely concerned about labour shortages,” says Mr Fiso.

New Zealand is heading into a busy summer fruit season with a shortage of 60,000 workers. The impact of this on the economy could be $9.5 billion according to New Zealand Apples and Pears.

“Bringing seasonal workers in from the Pacific could be a win-win for the severely short staffed orchardists and fruit growers of New Zealand, and the people struggling in the Pacific,” says Mr Fiso. “The reality is, bringing in the Pacific workers would be hugely beneficial for humanitarian reasons in the Pacific and at the same time prevents millions of dollars of produce in New Zealand going to waste.” . .


Rural round-up

September 11, 2020

Farming on a senseless slippery slope:

A recent decision to extend 5.8 million hectares of land designated as ‘low slope’ to 9.6 million hectares is causing trouble for affected farmers.

The controversial map deeming 9.6 million hectares of NZ’s pastoral land as ‘low slope’ with specific stock exclusion zones has been described by North Otago farmer and sustainability advocate Jane Smith as “not fit for human consumption” let alone being stamped as regulation.

“Some bureaucrat has managed to change the topography of New Zealand – with the area defined as ‘low slope’ – growing from 5.8 million hectares in 2019 to 9.6 million hectares overnight with a simple stroke of a pen,” Jane Smith says.

She has no doubt this will be the ruling that breaks farmers’ backs. . .

Dairy industry proves durable under Covid-19 – NZIER report – Eric Frykberg:

Dairy sales have gained strength despite the pandemic but the industry could be undermined by government policy, an NZIER report says.

The report, written by the economic consultancy’s principal economist Chris Nixon, said the industry had brushed aside Covid-19 – earning more money, not less – and had defences against a movement towards trade protectionism and dairy substitutes such as almond milk.

It said the dairy industry had proven itself to be a durable part of the New Zealand economy and this would continue for the foreseeable future, but it needed careful attention from the government to maintain confidence.

Nixon said while many primary sectors rose modestly during Covid-19, or fell, dairy sales were strong. . . 

Out there living life and going places – Sally Rae:

Nine years ago, Anita Kendrick’s life was thrown upside down when she broke her back in a quad-bike accident while mustering sheep. Facing life in a wheelchair, she did not let her disability deter her from continuing her career in farming. Sally Rae reports.

Anita Kendrick is on the hunt for a job in the South Island.

The 27-year-old King Country shepherd said she had been keen for a long time to move south but, until now, had not had the confidence to do so. But that was now instilled and she was ready for a change.

Armed with her team of working dogs, she did not have the ideal job in mind — nor an area — although she was keen to work with sheep more than cattle, as they were more “user friendly”. She was also interested in getting involved in the stud aspect of breeding. . . 

Feds relieved wilding pine control efforts to ramp up:

Federated Farmers is relieved to see the government put more muscle today behind a nationwide plan to tackle more than 800,000 hectares of wilding pine infestations.

Last week’s massive fire in the Mackenzie Basin burnt an area of 2,000 hectares, mostly the pest ‘wilding’ pine trees and scrub.

Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare went to the Mackenzie District last week to survey the fire damage near Lake Pukaki, the spread of which has in part been attributed to the wilding pines. . .

East-West divide dictates meat returns :

An East-West Covid split is dictating global meat returns for New Zealand farmers.

Countries like China, Taiwan and Japan, which acted early and implemented successful lockdowns, now find their economies on a firmer footing.

This is reflecting on receipts for NZ meat exports to these countries, says Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny.

A resurging Chinese economy bodes well for lamb and mutton demand as the country accounts for a large share of New Zealand’s exports. . .

 

Innovative technology protects crops, farmers and our future – Balwinder Singh Kang:

The swarm of locusts was so large, it blackened the sky in the middle of the day.

If we hadn’t known that this plague of pests was coming to attack our farms, we might have thought it was a massive dust storm or an eclipse of the sun.

Because we knew the locusts were on the move, we were ready for them. As they descended on our crops, our entire village came out to defend our fields. This was a struggle for survival-and the lesson we learned is that farmers like us need the best technologies to defeat this threat to our way of life. . . 


Rural round-up

September 10, 2020

It’s been a great year for the dairy industry – now let’s see what it has done for Fonterra’s books – Point of Order:

Despite  the  turmoil  inflicted  on  global markets,  NZ’s  dairy  industry  turned  in  a  phenomenal performance   for  the  2019-20 season,   with  export  earnings   $709m  ahead of  the  previous  year.  

And  though  the  global  market  is  finely  balanced  at  present,  the  prospect  is  that  the  industry  could  again  be  ahead  of the  pack  in  the  current  season.

Dairy farmers    deserve  the  plaudits  of  the   rest  of  the  country,  even   though  the  present   government    has  gone  out  of its  way  to   clobber  the industry  with  tough  freshwater regulations  designed to  satisfy  “dirty dairying”   critics,  despite the most polluted water  often being  found in  city and town waterways  and harbours.  . . 

Horticultural industry pushes for extended visas for workers

The horticultural sector is calling for its guest workers to be next in line to have their visa restrictions eased.

Visitors and temporary migrants trapped in this country by the restrictions on travel will now have their visas extended to give them more time to organise flights home.

But Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman said these changes did little to help people working in the horticultural and wine sectors.

He said the sector was coming up to a busy time. . . 

The immigration breakthrough that wasn’t– Dileepa Fonseka :

Lobby groups thought they’d succeeded in their mission to let skilled workers who had been stranded overseas get back into the country – but they were wrong

A press release from primary industry lobby groups had to be retracted on Friday after an announcement they had expected on a way for overseas temporary migrants to return to New Zealand never materialised.

DairyNZ and Federated Farmers released – then retracted – a press statement welcoming back the temporary workers ‘locked out’ of the country, after the Government instead announced a visa extension for people here on visitor visas. . . 

Plea to lock up dogs at night after lambs killed – Gus Patterson:

Maheno farmer Doug Brown is urging people to lock up their dogs at night after 12 of his lambs were killed earlier this week.

The attacks on the nights of August 30 and 31 caused fatal injuries to several lambs, as well as mis-mothering and scattering the recently-born stock.

Some lambs were found three paddocks away from their mothers.

“It’s annoying. You work long hours at lambing time and could do without this,” Mr Brown said. . . 

Working off-farm best for rural mum – Alice Scott:

Waitahuna’s Bridget Tweed still cringes when she recalls her first job interview after what had been four years as a stay-at-home mum with pre-schooler twins, a toddler and a baby.

“I stumbled my way through the entire interview. I just wasn’t used to talking to adults anymore. The whole interview was just terrible.”

She got home and after some thought decided to call the manager.

“I said I felt the interview hadn’t gone too great and I hadn’t given a true reflection of myself. The manager actually agreed it wasn’t the greatest interview, but I rattled off a few things and I must’ve said the right thing because I got the job,” she said laughing. . . 

Bargains in the bin may bring buyers out – Bruce McLeish,:

As anticipated, the wool market struggled again last week and prices dropped by 37 cents a kilogram – or 5.5 per cent – in US Dollar terms.

A weaker US Dollar continued to make life difficult for growers and exporters as the Australian Dollar briefly cracked the US0.74 cents level during the week.

Understandably, 20 per cent of the offering was passed in – with many growers unwilling to accept these prices. . . 


Rural round-up

September 8, 2020

Much of the plan is not common sense’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson estimates it will cost him about $1.6 million to comply with the new freshwater rules for fencing off waterways on his Central Otago hill country property.

He will also have to take about 47ha out of use to follow the 5m buffer rule.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 sets out new objectives and policies for farming including waterways, nutrient losses and winter grazing and the rules come into effect tomorrow.

He agrees with Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young that some of the rules are unworkable and supports Mr Young’s recent call for a boycott of the new rules. . . 

Revelations in the cow shed – Peter Burke:

Mental health and connectivity are two of the main issues affecting dairy farmers in this country according to a survey by DairyNZ.

The so called ‘cow shed’ survey shows that 62% of farmers say that they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the last year.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says he was “quite surprised” at how high this number was.

“I think the stresses that came out in the survey were drought, with two thirds of those surveyed saying they had been affected by drought in the last little while,” he told Dairy News.

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Doc’s revised 2020/21 tahr management plan is ideology hidden in a glossy brochure:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association believes the Department of Conservation’s revised tahr control operational plan released yesterday shows that culling the Himalayan tahr herd as now planned is based on ideology, political interference, a lack of quality data and science, and made to appease the extreme views of Forest & Bird who continue to maintain their threat of bad faith court action.

Deerstalkers Association Chief Executive Gwyn Thurlow says the decision defies good sense and logic and is another example of a string of poor decisions made by this Government.

Gwyn Thurlow says “After reviewing the latest iteration of the plan, we can see no substantive change to the Department’s approach from before the High Court win by the Tahr Foundation because the bottom line is the number of operational hours has not reduced. This means our tahr herd will be decimated, as feared. . . 

$4.7 million in funding for SVSS from MPI:

A project to boost vegetable growers’ efforts to care for the health of the environment while supplying fresh, healthy food, has received $4.7 million in government backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The funding adds to the $2.8 million already invested by industry into Sustainable Vegetable Systems, a four-year project, focused on improving crop nutrient management for the growing of potatoes, onions, brassicas, butternut squash, carrots, and leafy greens.
MPI is investing in the project from the Productive and Sustainable Land Usepackage, which promotes farming and growing practices that deliver more value and improved environmental outcomes. . . 

Campaign to boost British venison amid fall in demend :

An innovative working group has been created across England and Wales to reignite the venison market following a drop in demand due to Covid-19.

The group will focus on strengthening existing markets and opening new channels to counter competition provided by imports and slashed demand.

The Wild Venison Working Group is chaired by the Forestry Commission and has representation from stakeholders in woodland management, shooting, gamekeeping, and venison supply sectors.

In the absence of natural predators, the deer population in the United Kingdom is at its highest level for the last 1,000 years. . . 


Rural round-up

September 6, 2020

MfE on different page to farmers – Annette Scott:

Altering law before it has become effective is a tragic situation that farmers say could have been avoided if the Government had consulted properly.

That is the view of high country farmers struggling to come to grips with Government’s freshwater policy reforms that are now law.

Federated Farmers high country chairman Rob Stokes is bitterly disappointed over the Government’s approach.

“It’s been a case of rush through the legislation with no proper consultation and the result is an unworkable policy,” he said. . . 

Plan for the worst hope for the best – Gerald Piddock:

Each month the milk monitor Gerald Piddock delves into the dairy industry and gives us the low-down on the good, the bag, the ugly and everything in between.

NEW Zealand dairy farmers who felt the worst impact of last season’s drought are recovering well thanks to a relatively kind winter.

From all accounts, calving has gone smoothly and most farms have good pasture covers, setting them up well for spring.

But despite those positives, farmers will need this season to be as close to perfect as possible if they are to fully recover from the drought. . . 

Rural veterinarians empathetic but compromised over animal welfare reporting, vet says – Andrew McRae:

A vet who is also a farmer has come out in support of claims rural vets sometimes turn a blind eye to animal welfare issues because they are scared of how their community will react to it.

Animal welfare campaigner Angus Robson told RNZ on Thursday that rural vets are often compromised because reporting a farmer could affect their veterinary business.

Alison Dewes is a vet and farmer from Waikato and said vets played a major part in a rural community and this it made it difficult to dob someone in.

“I have worked myself for 30 years in rural communities and I think as veterinarians they are particularly compromised if they have got to be seen to be responsible for notifying welfare issues.” . . 

Farmers seeking more productive heifers turn to fresh sexed bull semen to meet mating goals:

Herd improvement and agri-tech cooperative LIC, the only provider of fresh, liquid sexed semen to New Zealand dairy farmers, is preparing for a busy spring as more farmers factor this new component into their 2020 breeding programmes.

Fresh sexed semen from LIC is helping dairy farmers accelerate genetic gain within their herds by enabling them to get more replacement heifer (female) calves from their top performing cows. It delivers a 90 per cent chance of producing a heifer, providing surplus calves with having an increased chance of being retained on farm and destined for either domestic or export beef markets.

LIC General Manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis says demand for fresh sexed bull semen has been steadily increasing over the last few seasons with this year set to more than triple 2019 sales. . . 

The value of long-acting drench treatments again under the spotlight:

The outcomes of a Beef + Lamb New Zealand co-funded study has cast even more doubt on the economic value of drenching ewes with long-acting products.

The study, led by AgResearch’s Dave Leathwick and co-funded by B+LNZ and AgResearch, showed that initial benefits of drenching with these products, especially to low body condition score ewes, were short-lived and declined in the interval after the treatments had expired. Untreated ewes tended to catch-up to their treated equivalents.

“This has also been seen in other New Zealand studies and highlights the danger of only assessing benefits at the end of the drugs pay-out period.”

He says many sheep farmers treat their ewes pre-lambing with long-acting drench products (capsules or injections) expecting their ewes and lambs to benefit, however this study shows that any benefits seen at weaning are likely to over-estimate the true value. . . 

Global investors boost NZ red seaweed farming venture:

Aquaculture startup CH4 Global has closed on seed funding of US$3 million (NZ$4.45 million) and will scale up its New Zealand operations with commercial marine and tank-based seaweed cultivation pilots based at Rakiura/Stewart Island. These pilots will serve as the platform to deliver an end to end production module in late 2021.

CH4 Global is currently operating a sustainable wild harvest programme at Rakiura of a specific species of red seaweed – Asparagopsis armata – to use as a livestock supplement solution to reduce ruminant methane emissions by up to 90 percent. The harvesting programme will provide the seed stock for the scale-up as well as finished product for dairy and sheep trials.

“Our focus is on urgently impacting climate change within the next decade, so this investment means NZ farmers, and farmers in the US and Australia, could be the first in the world to make a meaningful impact on emissions in this way,” comments Dr Steve Meller, President, CEO and Co-Founder of CH4 Global. . . 


Rural round-up

September 5, 2020

Local farmers in competition final – Sally Brooker:

North Otago has produced two of the eight finalists in an Australasian sustainable agriculture competition.

Farmers Nick and Kate Webster and Brock and Gemma Hamilton have been shortlisted from a slew of entrants on both sides of the Tasman for the Zimmatic Sustainable Irrigation Awards.

The contest aims to celebrate irrigation excellence and encourage farmers to share water management ideas.

The Websters run Totara Fields and Hillbrook Dairies – mixed beef finishing/cropping and dairy operations on a total of 700ha, 550 of them irrigated. . . 

RSE workers stranded in NZ: ‘Tonga needs to look after its own citizens’ – employer :

A large Hawke’s Bay fruit grower fears for the well being of Pacific Island workers still unable to return home and says Tongan authorities must help out.

Some 487 workers from Tonga and 763 from Vanuatu are registered as requiring urgent repatriation.

There are hundreds of others urgently wanting to get back to other countries including Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati.

A flight to Tonga yesterday was suspended until further notice because of Auckland’s Covid alert level 3 status. . .

Water the word on farmers’ minds – Sally Brooker:

North Otago farmers are feeling the effects of a dry winter, Federated Farmers provincial president Jared Ross says.

“We’re 100mm behind in rainfall,” he said of his Duntroon dairy-support farm.

Local contractors had sold out of their feed supplement supplies in the lead-in to winter, and one had been bringing in feed from Central Otago and Southland.

“It was priced accordingly.” . .

Sell venison or risk loss say experts – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers are being advised to take the going price for chilled venison now, or risk significantly lower returns.

With a short chilled season expected venison marketers are recommending to farmers to take the money being offered during the chilled season.

Currently, the market for frozen venison is subdued and the prospects post-Christmas are uncertain.

Deer that miss the chilled season cut-off at the end of October will be unable to reach Europe in time for the last game season sales.

While a portion will go to alternative markets, some venison will be frozen.  . . 

White Rock Station’s revival – Peter Burke:

One of New Zealand’s most historic sheep stations – White Rock – has a new lease of life thanks to family members who wanted to preserve the property for future generations. Peter Burke reports.

White Rock Station, way out on the isolated south Wairarapa Coast, is the epitome of rugged beauty that typifies much of NZ’s East Coast.

It’s named after a stunning white rock formation, which dominates the shoreline where the hills rise steeply from the relentlessly pounding surf. The property is about an hour’s drive from Martinborough, along a winding – mainly gravel – road.

Tim Ritchie, who earlier this year retired as the chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, is the great, great grandson of the original owner, Richard Barton who acquired the land in 1843. . .

New digital campaign thanks NZ farmers:

New digital campaign by OverseerFM thanks Kiwi farmers and lets them know they have choices when it comes to managing sustainable impact

From propping up our economy, to feeding the world, and overcoming numerous challenges along the way, Kiwi farmers play a vital role in keeping our nation, and its people happy and healthy.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to say thanks. It’s time to reassure those in the agricultural sector that we are there for them – every step of the way.

That sentiment is echoed in a new digital campaign for agricultural management tool OverseerFM fronted by rugby legend Buck Shelford, Dame Lynda Topp (Ken the farmer), TV presenter Toni Street, fishing legend Geoff Thomas and cricketing icon Sir Richard Hadlee. . .


Rural round-up

September 3, 2020

A classic example of the disconnect from farming:

The new “National Environmental Standards for Freshwater” which were introduced by the current government in August are to be amended. The Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor announced Wednesday that cabinet had agreed the winter grazing regulations weren’t practical. This announcement comes before the new regulations have even taken effect; they actually come into force in September.

Federated Farmers aren’t convinced the changes to the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, announced Wednesday, will make much difference for Southland and Otago farmers.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt welcomed the amendments and Government’s acknowledgement that the policy was flawed, but said the changes still didn’t address the unique challenges farmers in the south faced, with its wetter than average winters. . .

Freshwater regs will stall progress add costs on Canterbury:

The new National Environment Standard (NES) for Freshwater could derail the progress already made on improving water quality in Canterbury, Federated Farmers presidents say.

“The new regulations coming in over the top of what Environment Canterbury already has in place will waste farmers’ time and ratepayers’ money,” says Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Cam Henderson, who was also speaking on behalf of David Clark (Mid Canterbury), Jason Grant (South Canterbury) and Jared Ross (North Otago).

The new NES rules include limits on land use intensification, set controls on intensive winter grazing, and limits the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. Federated Farmers has been consistently raising issues with the workability of the regulations. The organisation’s Southland province went as far as calling for a boycott on consents related to winter grazing. . . 

Land girls kept farms running – Sally Rae:

They were the women who kept the country running. Yet members of the New Zealand Women’s Land Service were largely the unsung heroes of World War 2 – until now.

Those women who worked on the land while men went to war will be honoured in rural South Canterbury, thanks to the efforts of former land girl Sadie Lietze (97), of Alexandra, and Fiona, Lady Elworthy, of Timaru.

A plaque and seat will be unveiled on October 18 in a park and walkway established by Lady Elworthy at Maungati in memory of her late husband, Sir Peter Elworthy.

Mrs Lietze, who was 19 when she was dispatched from Dunedin to help out at Tara Hills, near Omarama, said many people in modern times would not have heard of the organisation. . . 

Wagyu calves pricey but worth it – Annette Scott:

Wagyu cattle are treated like first-class citizens with the best of everything on Rockburn farm and they are appropriately rewarding their farmers Evan and Clare Chapman for their preferential treatment. Annette Scott reports.

Evan and Clare Chapman of Rockburn Farming in South Canterbury have produced one of the biggest Wagyu steers ever seen in New Zealand.

The Chapmans turned to Wagyu cattle just three years ago and have routinely produced 800 kg-plus cattle, but the massive 946kg steer processed this month has put the farm in the First Light record book.

In October last year, the Chapmans marked a century of farming on the rolling downs of Rockburn, near Geraldine. . . 

PWC, WONZ to merge – Annette Scott:

Two key wool grower organisations are planning a merge of operations to deliver better financial results for farmers.

Wools of New Zealand (WONZ) and Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) have committed to work together with formal discussions under way on how to combine operations in a way that will rejuvenate NZ’s languishing strong wool sector.

WONZ chair James Parsons said the wool industry must collaborate to get a better financial result for farmers.

He said bringing together two like-minded grower organisations will be an important first step in rejuvenating the current dire economic plight of wool. . . 

Pāmu performs solidly despite Covid overhang; declares strong operating profit and dividend:

Landcorp Farming Limited (Pāmu) has delivered a strong performance for the year ended 30 June 2020, achieving EBITDAR of $65 Million.

EBITDAR is Pāmu’s principal measure of performance, and this year’s result was 91% above the figure achieved in the previous year. The company’s revenue of $251 Million was a $10 Million improvement over 2019, driven by increased milk and livestock revenue.

Chairman Warren Parker and Chief Executive Steven Carden said the result was very pleasing given the unique circumstances posed by Covid-19 and the worst drought conditions in Northland in half a century. . . 

Are sheep getting too big for shearers? – Joely Mitchell:

There is a growing chorus coming from the Australian shearing industry that wool growers’ push to increase the size of their sheep is making them too big for shearers.

And it’s making the industry a less appealing option for those considering a career in it, which could cause problems down the track in regards to the future availability of shearers.

Phil Rourke has been a shearer for over 30 years and currently works for a contracting business in north-east Victoria. . . 


Science when it suits

September 1, 2020

Federated Farmers is pleased the Green Party has called for us all to embrace science:

Federated Farmers couldn’t agree more with the call from the Green Party today that science should guide the policies and decisions of MPs.  

“They issued the challenge in relation to the recent positive COVID-19 cases in Auckland but as a party that should be interested in consistency and logic, we look forward to the Greens also applying this ‘listen to the science’ principle to issues such as genetic engineering technologies and methane emissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says.  

In a press statement headlined ‘Greens call for continued commitment to science from political leaders’, co-leader James Shaw said in the wake of the new cases of COVID-19 from community transmission “… now is the time to band together as a country, be directed by the science, and back good decision making”.    

Policy should be backed by science and that should support good decision making all the time, not just in relation to Covid-19.

This is spot on,” Andrew said.  “Science also tells us that unlike the long-lived greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, biological methane from New Zealand’s farmed livestock does not need to be reduced to net zero to have no additional effect on global warming. 

“A reduction of 10-22% by 2050 is sufficient, yet the  climate change legislation put in place by the government has a much harsher, non-science based target which will only add extra significant economic costs and undermine the competitiveness of our meat and dairy in the international market.”  

Environment Commission Simon Upton told the government that forestry could be used to offset biological methane but not emissions from fossil fuels and Shaw ignored him.

The Greens have been similarly science obtuse in relation to GE.  

“Gene editing technologies have huge potential in our fight to be predator-free, to deal with pest plants such as wilding pines, and to develop new types of grasses that will lead to ruminant animals emitting less methane. But the Greens appear to have had a closed mind on GE, despite scientists such as Sir Peter Gluckman endorsing the need to debate and embrace these technologies,” Andrew said. 

The opportunity cost of New Zealand’s stubborn policy toward GE will only increase as the exciting technology continues to mature, leaving New Zealand worse off and offering an increasing competitive advantage to other countries. 

Opposition to GE is usually based on emotion not science.

All we are asking is that consumers and producers are empowered to make their own decisions on the technology, rather than being hamstrung by restrictive regulations that ignore the best available science. 

 “The Greens’ new professed enthusiasm to be guided by science is most welcome,” Andrew said. 

If only the Greens acted on Shaw’s call. Unfortunately the party only supports science when it suits it.


Rural round-up

August 24, 2020

Family first for these high flyers – Ashley Smyth:

Topflite tends to fly under the radar when people think of Oamaru businesses, but for this family-owned success story, things are quietly taking off. Ashley Smyth reports.

While being Oamaru-based can present its challenges, these are far outweighed by the benefits the small-town lifestyle offers, Topflite general manager Greg Webster says.

“The fact we’re close to where the product is grown is a big one. Also, being a family business, family is always something we’ve put importance on.

“We want people to have a life outside of work. Living in Oamaru allows that – your staff don’t have an hour commute.”

The company, perhaps most famous locally for its striking sunflower crops, was founded by Greg’s father Jock Webster and Jock’s brothers-in-law Ross and Bruce Mitchell, in the 1970s. . . 

Minister missing in action:

The Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has taken a staggering 10 days during the Auckland level 3 lockdown to grant a blanket exemptions for sheep and beef farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“The previous lockdown allowed farmers to continue operations and travel between properties as essential workers, the current lockdown has imposed stricter requirements of needing a Ministry of Health exemption.

“The delays and confusion are a direct result of the Government’s lack of planning for an outbreak.

“Minister O’Connor has failed to see that this would require further compliance from farmers. It was only after heavy pressure from various sectors that saw exemptions for diary, horticulture and poultry. . . 

New rules go ‘too far’ – farmer – Sally Rae:

“Farming’s a tough game but they are hellbent on making it tougher.”

West Otago dairy farmer Bruce Eade is concerned about the Government’s new freshwater regulations which start coming into force from September 3, saying many of the rules concerning winter cropping and grazing were “almost unfarmable” in the South.

The Eade family are longtime dairy farmers and converted their Kelso property 25 years ago. They milk about 550 cows, have a free-stall barn and also winter beef cattle on crop.

“We’re lifers, you could say. We do it for the cows is the biggest thing for us. If I didn’t love my cows, I wouldn’t be doing it. There’s far easier ways to make a living,” Mr Eade said. . . 

Scramble over new freshwater rules – Colin Williscroft:

Regional councils and industry good groups are scrambling under a tight timeframe to get to grips with how new freshwater regulations will be implemented and what its impact on farmers is likely to be.

The new Essential Freshwater rules became law earlier this month and in the past couple of weeks councils and groups including Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ have been studying the detail of the regulations so they and the people they represent are as prepared as possible for changes when they come into effect.

Some of those changes come into effect next month, while others will be rolled out over the next few years. . . 

Wool handler keeping work local – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It’s a perfect early spring-like day in the Ida Valley in Central Otago.

Merinos bleat in the yards, and the shearing machines buzz inside the woolshed as the crew gets to work.

Southland-based world-class woolhandler Tina Elers quickly finds her rhythm as the fleece hits the table.

This time of year, she’s chasing the work as well as thinking about upcoming competition as a woolhandler.

“Do I treat the fleece any differently? No. What I do every day in the shed as a wool classer is practice for competition.”

Both come down to quality and speed. . . 

Expensive Geraldine-produced Wagyu beef being auctioned for charity– Samesh Mohanlall:

A South Canterbury farm has produced one of the biggest rare Wagyu steers ever seen in New Zealand.

Evan and Clare Chapman of Rockburn Farming near Geraldine have been raising Wagyu (a term referring to all Japanese beef cattle), which is renowned for its sought after marbled meat and costs hundreds of dollars for a simple steak since 2017.

Last week a 946 kilogram Wagyu steer from the farm was processed by First Light, the New Zealand farming co-operative the Chapman’s belong to.

“This isn’t a one-off,” the co-op’s managing director Gerard Hickey said. . . 

Using data in Nigeria to reduce violence and build food security – Rotimi Williams:

Farming should be safe, but in Nigeria it can be deadly.

It’s so dangerous, in fact, that a report released on June 15 by an all-party parliamentary group in the United Kingdom asks a provocative question in its title: “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?

Thousands of Nigerian farmers are murdered each year, according to human-right groups such as Amnesty International-and all we want to do is protect our land so that we can grow the crops our families need and our country requires.

As a rice farmer in Nigeria, I’ve seen this problem up close-and I’m trying to solve it with technology. . . 


Rural round-up

August 23, 2020

Water rules ‘unworkable’ – Neal Wallace:

Environment Southland may ask the Government to relax new strict rules controlling the winter grazing of livestock which is widely considered as unworkable in the cooler southern region.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young has upped the pressure on the Government, advising members not to seek resource consent if they are unable to meet the new grazing regulations.

Southern farmers are angered at the requirement to resow winter crop paddocks by November 1, a month later than the rest of NZ, the extent of pugging permitted on paddocks and limits on winter grazing paddocks with a mean slope exceeding 10 degrees.

These provisions are included in the suite of essential freshwater measures regulations released in May.

Labour fails to plan for primary sector :

Labour needs to stand up for the essential primary sector workers who are wrongly being turned away at Auckland region checkpoints, MP for Hunua Andrew Bayly and National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett say.

“Auckland is almost 10 days into their regional lockdown and there has still been no specific exemptions granted by the Ministry of Health to allow primary sector workers to carry out essential services across the Auckland regional border.” Mr Bayly says.

“These travel exemptions should have been ready to go at the first sign of regional restrictions. Instead, it has taken a week for the Minister to secure exemptions for the dairy, horticulture, and poultry sectors.”. . . 

Meat companies forced to divert product – Neal Wallace:

Meat companies are changing portion sizes and targeting mid-week meals as they switch products from food service to chilled retail markets.

Farmers Weekly last week reported the demise of food service markets around the world due to the global covid-19 pandemic forcing meat companies to divert product away from traditional frozen and food service markets.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says any increase in chilled meat volumes is welcome. . .

It’s the beta-casein and premium product that makes a big difference between a2 Milk and Fonterra – Point of Order:

Investors  this week took  the  phenomenal result  for a2 Milk   in  their  stride, but  it  may have produced  a few blinks  round   the   nation’s  dairy farms,  particularly  with  the  farmer-suppliers  of  Fonterra. 

Take – for example – a2 Milk’s  earnings  per share  of  52.39c  and contrast them with Fonterra’s 17c per share  in 2019,  or  its  net  profit  of $385.8m   versus  Fonterra’s loss  of $605m.

There  are  other  mind-blowing  figures  from  a2 Milk: total revenue  of  $1.73bn, up  32.8%; ebitda of $549.7m, a  rise of 32.9%;  and operating cash flow of $427.4m. Not to  mention  a  cash  mountain  it has  built up of  $854.2m. . . 

Career off to a good start :

Nineteen-year-old Ashlee Ennis is thrilled she has got a job on a dairy farm after recently completing three-weeks of GoDairy Farm Ready Training with DairyNZ.

Hailing from Tauranga, Ashlee has moved to Taupo for a role as a farm assistant and is excited by her new career.

She says she is relishing getting stuck in helping out with calving.

“It’s been great to get into the work and learn more on the job. I definitely see a future for myself in dairy farming,” she said. “I didn’t grow up on a farm but my mum did and she always loved it. I love working with animals.” . . 

One scientist’s ambitious plan to achieve global cooling with cattle – Farmer Georgie:

Farts are funny. Burger King thinks yodeling about cow farts is even funnier. In mid-July, the fast food chain released on Twitter an ad campaign starring boot-stomping kids, led by Mason Ramsey of Walmart Yodeling Kid fame, singing about cow farts contributing to global warming and claiming that lemongrass can reduce methane in those farts by a third.

The ad, part of the company’s #CowsMenu campaign, generated a backlash of social media criticism. Pissed-off ranchers and a concerned science community pointed out that the ad perpetuated a long-standing misconception about cow farts and the hotly debated narrative that cows are a major climate change problem. Plus, it promoted an unproven solution as its big greenhouse gas win. In doing so, Burger King missed the chance to highlight the real potential for change: turning cows and their methane-producing digestive systems into a climate cooling solution. . .


Rural round-up

August 22, 2020

Are all proteins created equal? The difference between plant and animal proteins – Tim Newman:

New research into food proteins means meat and dairy should continue to play a key role in New Zealand’s farming future, a Massey University scientist says.

Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan spoke on the subject of world food security at the Nelson Federated Farmers’ 75th anniversary celebrations recently.

Moughan is one of the principal investigators at the Riddet Institute, a food science research organisation which was awarded Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) status by the Government in 2007.

In his presentation, Moughan outlined the projected rise in demand for world food production over the next 50 years, and the opportunity for New Zealand to meet that need. . .

Successful formula for calf rearer – Yvonne O’Hara:

Lynne Johnston has been calf rearing for about 18 years, and loves it.

Mrs Johnston and husband Glenn have progressed from lower order and 50-50 sharemilking in Riversdale to farm owners at Clarendon, near Waihola, six years ago.

They own 200ha, run 560 cows and have a milk solid target of 235,000kg of milk solids.

“We started rearing 120 replacements each year. However, as we moved through 50-50 sharemilking we reared a lot more to grow our herd. . . 

Skills group ‘unashamedly parochial’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

The new interim Southland Regional Skills Leadership Group (SRSLG) is “unashamedly parochial in outlook”, co-chairman Paul Marshall says.

“We have a very clear focus on what is best for Southland.

“Our role is to provide advice about the labour market and we have been given assurances that our advice will be heard by employment minister Willie Jackson.”

The interim SRSLG is one of 15 groups throughout the country established to address current and future disruptions in regional labour markets because of Covid-19 . .

Alliance distributes $5m to shareholders :

Red meat cooperative Alliance Group will be paying $5 million to some of its farmer shareholders.

The quarterly payments have been made to Alliance’s Platinum and Gold shareholders who supply 100% of their livestock to the company.

Farmers are paid an additional 10c/kg for each lamb, 6c/kg for a sheep, 8.5c/kg for cattle and 10c/kg for deer. The payments cover the period April-June 2020. . . 

A2 Milk reports $385m profit for full year :

Specialty dairy company A2 Milk has posted a record profit, driven by booming sales of infant formula because of the Covid-19 virus.

The company reported an annual profit of $385.8 million compared with $287.7m last year, as revenue rose by a third and it held margins at target levels, which it had signalled to the market in April.

“We estimate that Covid-19 had a modest positive impact on revenue and earnings for the year. Additionally, our business was favourably impacted by foreign exchange movements,” the company said in a statement.

A2 Milk makes dairy products from milk without the A-1 protein, which is held to be easier to digest and absorb for some people. . . 

Passion for rural health – Jamie Brown:

Two young future doctors, passionate about improving rural health, have been awarded The Land Rural Medical Scholarship for 2020.

The winners are second year medical students Simon Whelan, University of Notre Dame at Sydney, and Laura Beaumont, Western Sydney University.

Both have country connections, with Mr Whelan off a fourth generation rice growing property near Griffith and Ms Beaumont fromthe Hunter Valley town of Paterson.

The scholarship’s administrator, Alicia Hargreaves of the Gundagai based Rural Doctors Association of NSW, said it was fabulous to see the enthusiasm, and the quality of the applicants. . .


Rural round-up

August 20, 2020

Some farmers can’t access stock due to Auckland border restrictions – Sarah robson:

Farmers with properties either side of Auckland’s southern border are frustrated they haven’t been able to check stock or get essential supplies because of the alert level 3 lockdown.

Travel in to, out of and through Auckland is heavily restricted, with only a limited number of exemptions.

Federated Farmers Auckland president Alan Cole said that was causing headaches for farmers with properties in both Auckland and Waikato.

“They are unable to get to them,” he said.

“You need to be able to get to your stock basically every day or every second day to feed out, check them. Some of the guys are calving at the moment and they’ve got properties on either side of the boundary.” . . 

COVID-19: Let the small guys stay open — Feds – Sudesh Kissun:

Calls are growing for the Government to allow butchers and independent fruit and vegetable retailers to operate under COVID-19 Alert Levels.

Federated Farmers is the latest industry lobby calling for the Government to reconsider and let small fresh food sellers stay open under level 3 and, if necessary, at level 4.

New Zealand’s first COVID-19 lockdown rules meant butchers, bakers and greengrocers could not open as the small retailers were considered non-essential.

But Feds president Andrew Hoggard is pleading with the Government to “let the little guys stay open”. . . 

Meeting leads to productive relationship – Kerrie Waterworth:

A Wanaka farmer and sheep breeder who has developed wool for some of the world’s most sought-after Covid-19  face masks is already thinking of new value-added ways to use coarse wool in other industries. Kerrie Waterworth reports.

Five  years ago Andy Ramsden was looking for a home for a new type of wool from his trademarked Astino breed.

At a presentation in Queenstown by a New York consultancy firm on the state of the New Zealand wool industry he met the chief executive of Auckland-based air filter producer Lanaco, Nick Davenport.

Mr Ramsden said they sat down for a quick cup of coffee and stood up four hours later. . . 

Velvet trumps venison – Sally Rae:

It is a tale of two halves in the deer industry as venison schedule prices drop to their lowest level in more than a decade while consumer demand for velvet remains robust.

ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said venison markets were “extremely challenging”; venison was highly exposed to the European restaurant trade and the industry was scrambling to move more products into the retail space to reduce reliance on the food service sector.

Farmgate prices for deer might have “ticked up a tad” recently but prices had not been at such low levels for more than a decade.

“It is a real blow for an industry that was doing so well and had appeared to have moved away from the volatile cycles of boom and bust that have long plagued the industry,” the report said. . .

NZ food industry benefits from leading-edge portable drying technology:

When Robert Barnes was asked by a friend to build a dryer to dehydrate macadamia nuts 25 years ago, he never thought it would be the start of his own drying machine business.

Robert, an electrician and refrigeration engineer by trade, set up his own refrigeration and air-conditioning company in 1989, attracting Port of Tauranga as one of his clients. Since 1995 he has also been using his skills to develop highly innovative Rexmoi® Dryers. He sold the refrigeration and air conditioning business five years ago to focus solely on Drying Solutions Ltd.

Now Robert is gearing up to exhibit a Rexmoi® Dryer, at his fourth Foodtech Packtech show next month. . . 

Cow’s milk greener than vegan alternatives :

Cows’ milk from grass-based systems is environmentally friendlier than plant-based alternatives because it uses far less soya, according to a new study.

It says vegans and others who buy milk substitutes made from soya for their latte and cappuccino, or breakfast cereal, are harming the planet. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Animal Nutrition, says consumers’ ever-increasing demand for soya meal and palm kernel meal is fuelling the destruction of rainforest.

The authors calculate that about 85 litres of milk is produced in the UK for every kilo of soya bean meal consumed by dairy cows. . . 


Rural round-up

August 15, 2020

Letter to the Prime Minister from New Zealand butchers:

Dear Prime Minister, 

We are writing to you on behalf of the independent butchers of New Zealand to urgently reclassify local butcheries as essential services in line with dairies. 

Like dairies, local butcheries have been the foundation of Kiwi communities for decades and are entwined in our community fabric. They proudly provide consistent, quality, nutritious products to all New Zealanders. 

At their core, butchers are committed to serving our communities, and to do that, need to be reclassified as an essential service. If they are not, these mainstays of our community risk disappearing forever. 

As a result of the first lockdown, many butchers have been left on the verge of financial ruin. Confused messaging in the lead up to the first lockdown in March meant many butchers stocked up on meat, only to be informed hours before Alert Level 4 came into effect, they would not be allowed to open. As a result, many butchers had to write off stock costing them tens, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars.  . . 

Feds backs the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer:

Federated Farmers says the government needs to reconsider and let small business fresh food sellers stay open under level 3 and, if necessary, at level 4.

“Let the little guys stay open, and sell fresh food, because it’s safer, fairer and better for small communities trying to buy local,” Feds president Andrew Hoggard says.

New Zealand’s first COVID-19 lockdown rules meant butchers, bakers and greengrocers could not open as the small retailers were considered non-essential.

“This rule needs a rethink if we are to go back into a full-scale lock down,” Andrew says. . . 

Retiring MP’s $2m vote of confidence in dairying – Peter Burke:

Former Minister for Primary Industries, and retiring MP, Nathan Guy says his plans to invest more than $2 million in a new innovative dairy shed is a vote of confidence in the future of the dairy industry.

Guy owns a large dairy farming operation near the Horowhenua town of Levin and is about to build a unique dairy shed that incorporates two 50 bail rotary platforms in the same building and is capable of milking 700 cows in just one hour. The design is identical to the one built by former National MP and Taranaki dairy farmer Shane Ardern.

The new shed will replace two other milking sheds on the property, but Guy says they will keep a small 28 bail rotary which his father built in 1975. It will be used for milking mainly the heifers on the property. He says his father had the vision to put in that shed back in the 1970’s and says his new shed is about investing for the next generation – his children. His children have been involved in the decision making and are also excited about the future of the industry. . . 

Working dog heading for retirement – Sally Brooker:

Man’s best friend” is the perfect description of Jimmy.

The 12-year-old heading dog has retired from an exceptional agility career in which he always did owner Allen Booth proud.

Mr Booth and his wife Kathy, who farm and own boarding kennels at Peebles, have been running dogs in agility competitions for 20 years. Mr Booth said he started when he was 50 and now, at the age of 70, he reckons it might be time to retire himself. . . 

Woollen mask sales spike – Annette Scott:

Suppliers of woollen face masks have been slammed with orders as a second wave of covid-19 threatens New Zealand.

Following the Government’s warning that face masks may become compulsory, suppliers and manufacturers have been challenged to meet demand as NZ-made woollen face masks take a top spot on the fashion accessory charts.

“Face masks are out of stock.

Due to order demand, we are not currently taking back orders.

Available again for purchase September 1.”

These are the messages heading several websites and Facebook pages of Merino wool mask suppliers. . . 

Lancashire farm welcomes yoga classes alongside cows – James Holt:

Dairy cows graze in a field as Yoga instructor Titannia Wantling takes part in the first ever Cow Yoga session at Paradise Farm in Leyland.

The experimental yoga class gives people a chance to experience movement with cows, as the animals are proven to lower stress whilst encouraging adults to enjoy exercising outdoors.

With tackling obesity currently high up on the government’s agenda, the Lancashire farm, alongside free range yogurt brand Lancashire Farm Dairies, has launched the Cow Yoga classes to get people motivated. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 13, 2020

Workforce gap will hobble spring/summer production – Feds:

Tens of millions of dollars’ worth of farm production and the jobs of other workers are at risk if the government continues to dither on allowing a limited number of skilled agricultural machinery operators into New Zealand.

“Federated Farmers has been working with Rural Contractors NZ on this issue for several months,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.
“It has almost gone past critical now because we’re on the cusp of Spring activity and we need to get these seasonal workers on flights and into quarantine for two weeks.”

Exemptions have been allowed for workers laying synthetic tracks for horse racing, for the movie industry, and others. . . 

‘High $20/hour’ jobs available, but where are the workers? – Esther Taunton:

Southland’s Waipounamu Contracting is in dire need of people to drive its tractors and heavy machinery.

Human resources manager Emily Hawker said the company usually employed 15 to 20 workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland for the busy harvest period from November to March.

But with the borders closed to all but the most essential workers due to coronavirus, Waipounamu is scrambling to find Kiwis to fill the roles.

In a normal year, the business has room for two or three inexperienced employees but this year there could be up to 15 inexperienced operators, a “recipe for disaster”, Hawker said. . . 

Can strong wool find a new El Dorado? – Keith Woodford:

There are opportunities for strong wool based on quality and sustainability but it needs action plus applied R&D rather than more reports

There was a time when strong wool was used widely for garments. That included woollen underwear, woollen shirts, woollen jerseys and woollen jackets.  Apart from the fine wool produced by Merino sheep, those markets have largely been swept aside by synthetics.

There was also a time when carpets were predominantly of the woollen type. Then some lower cost but inferior synthetic carpets came along. And then some superior synthetic but still lower cost carpets came along. As with garments, the strong wool carpets have been largely swept aside. Strong wool carpets do still exist, but they are now a niche. . . 

Holding out for a better future – George Clark:

Timaru’s last large-scale wool merchant still holds hope for a strong future.

Terry Mulcahy, who died in 2013, started Mulcahy Wool and Skins in 1948.

His son, Barry, took over the business in 1985 and has remained in the wool industry ever since.

The company handles slightly more than 7500 bales a year, ranging from coarse crossbred to fine merino.

Mr Mulcahy has seen it all, from the height of the wool boom to this month’s market lows. . . 

From uncertainty to business owner – George Clark:

It is a yarn borne out of Covid-19.

With the tourism industry facing economic uncertainty, Canadian expat Kate Jones believed it was the right time for financial diversification.

At the beginning of June, Ms Jones was working a reduced and subsidised 20 hours a week for Mt Cook tourism company Alpine Guides while continuing plans for life on a Mackenzie lifestyle block.

Bought last year, the 4ha property just outside Twizel would become home to herself and Kiwi partner Chris Mackie. . . 

Another bumper year ahead?  – Sudesh Kissun:

Avocado growers are looking forward to another bumper year despite the global economic uncertainty.

NZ Avocado says the 2020-21 season crop is “looking very good on the trees”, with an expected 10-15% increase in volumes.

Last season, avocado growers received $154 million for their crop, a $10m increase over the previous season.

Exports rose 26% to 3.8m 5.5kg trays. Asian markets including Thailand, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan received 35% more volume, meeting the industry’s objective to grow volume to the region. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2020

Leading by example – Gerald Piddock:

Being responsible to their land, animals, people and their community has earned a Hawke’s Bay couple the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. Gerald Piddock reports.

Being a responsible dairy farmer means more than just being industry role models to Nick and Nicky Dawson.

It involves working beyond the farm bubble in the wider community and nurturing the health of people, the environment and their animals.

“It’s all interconnected,” Nicky says. 

“It’s like a three-legged stool. You can’t have one without the other.” . . 

Time running out for ag contractors as spring approaches – Gerald Piddock:

October is looming as a crunch-month for agricultural contractors and dairy farmers as the scramble continues to find staff to drive machinery to plant summer feed crops and cut grass cut for silage.

Waikato Federated Farmers vice-president Ben Moore said there was huge concern that contractors would not have enough staff on the ground to meet demand from dairy farmers as border restrictions continue to prevent overseas farm machinery operators from entering the country to work this spring and summer.

The region was still recovering from last summer’s drought with feed reserves on many farms already low. 

Moore feared there could be a potential disaster if farmers are unable to get their summer supplementary feed supply organised and there was another very dry summer. . . 

Ag contractor training gearing up – Mark Daniel:

Agricultural contractors are warning about a severe shortage of skilled machinery operators for the upcoming harvest season.

The shortage is due to New Zealand’s closed borders, shutting out staff from overseas. In response, a number of training organisations are offering displaced local workers and jobseekers a basic grounding in the sector.

In the South Island, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is promoting its ‘An Introduction to Agricultural Contracting’ course – based at its Telford Campus, near Balclutha. This initiative was the result of SIT’s discussions with Rural Contractors NZ Ltd (RCNZ) and some key players in the contracting sector in Otago and Southland – who all wanted to do something positive to address the need for trained contracting staff. . .

Lake Hawea to host world ploughing championships

The world’s best exponents of the art of ploughing are coming to Lake Hawea, but not for quite a while.

An Upper Clutha group of ploughing enthusiasts announced on Saturday they had secured the 2028 world championships.

That means 60 of the best “ploughmen” from farming communities around world will load up their tractors and ploughs, ship them to New Zealand and carve out furrows across the flat paddocks south of the lake.

Organising committee chairman John Osborne said his committee had spent two years preparing Lake Hawea’s case for the event, “basically trying to prove to the New Zealand executive we have facilities up here to have all these world guys here”. . . 

Industry hunters step up for annual event  – Jared Morgan:

Ask hunters where exactly in Central Otago they shot their haul in the annual Manuherikia Boar, Buck and Stag Hunt and they are unlikely to tell you.

They want to protect their turf and believe the results speak for themselves.

Yesterday marked weigh-in day in the annual three-day fundraiser for the Alexandra Scout Group.

It was heartland rural New Zealand at its best if the atmosphere at the weigh-in and prize-giving was anything to go by. . . 

Matching beef yields and consumer expectations :

ENHANCING the red meat value chain through a greater understanding of efficient use of farm resources, better use of grazing mosaics, and the production of cattle that reach and exceed domestic and export ready standards is the aim of a new four-year partnership for the west.

The University of Western Australia and Meat & Livestock through the MLA Donor Company have joined forces to coordinate and drive an integrated research and practice change program for the West Australian beef Industry.

The partnership, BeefLinks, will provide better knowledge and a range of technologies to support the sustainability credentials of products and interconnectivity between producers, processors and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 8, 2020

Expect increased rates costs from new government freshwater laws:

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

“We all want good water quality, that’s why farmers and growers have been spending time and money for decades doing all they can on-farm,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Millions of trees, hundreds of miles of fencing, sediment management, nitrogen controls … all these things are improving rural water quality.”

While there is still a good deal of detail Federated Farmers is working through to get a better understanding of to communicate to its members, “we do have concerns around the wording of the National Policy Statement. . . 

Red meat exports record seven percent increase year on year :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exported $9.4 billion of sheepmeat, beef and co-products for the year ending June 2020, according to the latest analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector saw an increase of $639 million – or seven per cent – compared to the year ending June 2019.

China remained the largest market for the year ending June 2020, accounting for $3.7 billion of New Zealand’s red meat exports. This was an increase of 24 per cent on the previous June year – and was partly driven by China’s demand for red meat protein as a result of the impact of African Swine Fever. . . 

More hands needed for milk processing – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has made a strong start to the dairy season and has more than 150 seasonal vacancies in its processing division spread throughout the country, director of manufacturing, Alan van der Nagel says.

The processing jobs at 30 manufacturing sites are among 770 current vacancies throughout Fonterra, including corporate roles, technicians, field staff and working in the Farm Source stores.

“We do gear up for the peak milk processing demand and we are looking for a wide range of skills and abilities,” van der Nagel said.

“We give the appropriate training and there are opportunities for re-skilling at a time when a lot of people are out of work.” . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s recognition of the importance of  vegetable growing in NZ in freshwater decisions:

Horticulture New Zealand is welcoming recognition of the importance of vegetable growing in the Government’s new national direction on freshwater management.

‘HortNZ has worked with growers in Pukekohe and Horowhenua to demonstrate to central and local government that modern vegetable growing techniques dramatically reduce environmental impact,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘Over the past decade, vegetable growers across New Zealand have been taking practical steps to reduce environmental impact through precision irrigation and fertilizer application, sediment traps and buffer zones, retiring land, and riparian planting. . . 

NZ apple industry on track to become a billion dollar export business :

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the representative industry body for the apple, pear and nashi industry, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hastings today, with members joining from around the country’s growing regions via Zoom.

With NZAPI’s financial year ending 31 March 2020, the published results were for the 2019 growing season and 2019/20 selling season, meaning that they reflect trading conditions pre- COVID-19.

Gross volume for the 2019/20 crop reached 566,200 metric tonnes (mT), similar to the previous year. The proportion of the crop that is exported rose 5 percent to 395,000 mT. . . 

Resilient Ravensdown responds with strong $69m profit – returning $68 million to farming:

After ensuring essential food-creating nutrients kept flowing during the pandemic, Ravensdown has recorded a profit from continuing operations and before tax, rebate and an earlier issue of bonus shares of $69 million (2019: $52m).

Returning a total of $68 million to its eligible farmer shareholders, the co-operative is confident in its financial strength and cautiously optimistic in the face of uncertainty around Covid-19 and emerging government policy.

“The resilience demonstrated was no accident, but deliberately built over five years of steadfast focus on fundamentals and performance. It meant that we could respond when shareholders needed us most and when New Zealand needed the agsector most,” said CEO Greg Campbell. . . 


Rural round-up

July 31, 2020

Lessees can be forced to cull tahr – Neal Wallace:

High-Country pastoral lessees could be drawn into the contentious tahr cull issue with plans for a population survey on Crown pastoral lease land later this year.

Federated Farmers high-country committee past chairman Simon Williamson believes lease terms will force some landowners to cull tahr.

The Conservation Department has begun a major cull in Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks but operations director Dr Ben Reddiex says it is not eradication.

“The vast majority of commercial hunting takes place on Crown pastoral lease and private land. . . 

Cotter passionate about supporting farmers in need – Janette Gellatly:

Passionate about the rural sector and people’s welfare, Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter says the best aspect of her role is being there for farmers.

‘‘Our role is to talk to farmers who are having some kind of stress and . . .to connect them with the right people to make a positive difference.’’

These could include various agencies, such as mental wellness providers, financial institutions and other rural stakeholders such as DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. ‘‘We are here to support all farmers [whether it be aquaculture or on the land] in Southland.’’ As part of its holistic approach, the trustees were also volunteers. Most have been through challenging times themselves, so could relate and understand when others were having difficulties, Mrs Cotter said.

It was about farmers helping farmers. . . 

Pilot kickstarts shearing training – Colin Williscroft:

Almost $2 million will be spent developing and delivering sustainable and integrated training for shearing and wool handling.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says $1.86m from the Provincial Growth Fund will be invested over two years to establish a pilot for the Shearing Training Model programme.

It will use micro-credentialing, earn-as-you-learn training to upskill 150 new and 120 existing shearers.

It will target school leavers, unemployed and underemployed people, career changers and those already in the industry who want to learn new skills. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk – the zombie dairy company – Brent Melville:

When it started production outside Gore in late 2018, Mataura Valley Milk was greeted with huge excitement by the Southland community, government ministers and dairy farmers alike.

The growth of infant nutritional product sales into China offered the prospect of an export bonanza.

While the growth of New Zealand-sourced dairy formula exports into China lived up to hype – growing by almost a third last year to 120,000 tonnes and generating $1.7 billion in export receipts – Mataura Valley itself was moving in the wrong direction.

It is, after all, a competitive market with well established distribution channels, dominated by Fonterra, Synlait, Danone and GMP Dairy; so growing pains were expected. . . 

Fieldays Online: 2020 Innovation Awards winners announced :

Forward-thinking Kiwis have been celebrated with the annual Fieldays Innovation Awards, with the winners announced today.

Innovation has been at the heart of Fieldays since its inception over 50 years ago, say organisers.

“It is the very reason Fieldays exists and why Fieldays Online was launched. Innovation is not easy, it requires courage and a willingness to take on risk, yet it is also fundamental to the overall sustainability of any business or industry. It is necessary if we wish to solve today’s problems and prepare the ground for solving tomorrow’s.” . . 

A farmer perspective in the boardroom – Stuart Wright:

Deputy chair of Ravensdown, Stuart Wright on why farmers should throw their hat in the ring and join board rooms.

OPINION: The phrase ‘gumboot directors’ came about in the 1970s when co-operatives like Ravensdown were created.

Originally intended as a jibe from the corporate business world, it became a badge of honour as farmer shareholders put their hand up to influence the businesses they own.

These days, New Zealand’s agri co-operatives are multi-million-dollar operations, with complex business models and risk profiles. And the governance of such organisations has never been more important. . . 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2020

New farmer training programme being rolled out– Sally Rae:

Wanted — farmers to inspire the next generation of farmers to perform at their best.

That is what Growing Future Farmers (GFF), a training programme for young people interested in entering the sheep, beef and deer industry is looking for — providing a career pathway for farmers of the future.

A pilot programme has been held the Gisborne and Wairarapa regions and it will be rolled out to six regions next year, including two in the South Island.

The aim was to have 10 farmer trainers in each area.

Gisborne farmers Dan and Tam Jex-Blake spoke at information evenings in Winton and Kurow last week, outlining the programme to potential farmer trainers. . .

Ag contractors frustrated – David Anderson:

Agricultural contractors are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of skilled workers available.

The frustration comes amid growing concerns for the industry and farm production in the face of a critical shortage of skilled machinery operators.

Industry body Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) is calling on the Government to allow overseas-based operators back into New Zealand to help alleviate the growing problem.

The end of a golden career :

Russell Lowe has spent almost 50 years selecting, observing, propagating and tasting kiwifruit at Plant and Food Research in Te Puke. Earlier this year Russell was recognised for his role in developing Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.

Forty-eight years ago, research scientist Russell Lowe moved to Te Puke to work at the DSIR’s new research orchard.

There was not a crop in the ground and Russell’s first job was to bang in posts so kiwifruit could be planted.

Now there are more than 40 hectares of fruit planted for research, greenhouses, eight coolstores, purpose-built labs, a packhouse and an office block on site. . . 

Pork surplus crisis averted by measures- Sally Rae:

It could have been an unmitigated disaster for the pork industry.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 restrictions earlier this year meant independent butchers were not allowed to open fully for retail customers.

That meant a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue, the worst-case scenario being the euthanasing of pigs on-farm.

However, such a crisis was averted through various solutions, including an innovative food bank initiative. . . 

Feds applauds carpet maker’s wool focus:

Federated Farmers congratulates the leadership shown by New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corporation in announcing last week it will to return to its roots as a wool and natural fibres-only business.

Cavalier said in February that profit margins selling synthetic carpets were getting thinner but sales of its wool carpets were steadily rising.

“Choosing to concentrate on New Zealand-produced natural wool, with its superior durability, warmth, sound-dampening and fire-retardant qualities is a smart decision for any company,” Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson William Beetham says. . . 

Aroma NZ buys leading NZ flower supplier:

New Zealand’s biggest green-lipped mussel health food company has bought one of the country’s largest flower growing companies.

Aroma NZ has successfully purchased Moffatt’s Flowers, which has been growing roses and other flowers in their Christchurch glasshouses since 1949.

As one of the largest rose growers and flower wholesalers in New Zealand, Moffatt’s grows 35 varieties of roses in a network of more than 20,000 square metres of climate-controlled glasshouses. This results in an annual output of more than three million rose stems, along with other flowers.

Aroma NZ director Ben Winters says they have been looking to diversify into different industry sectors. .  .


Rural round-up

July 27, 2020

Pandemic fall-out weighs heavily on farmer confidence:

Spurred by COVID-19 repercussions, farmer confidence in economic conditions has slumped to the lowest level since 2009, the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Responses from 1,725 farmers saw a net 28.6% of them rate current economic conditions as bad, a 53-point drop on the January survey when a net 24.6% considered them to be good.

“It’s pretty grim looking forward as well,” Feds President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

A net 58.7% of the farmers who responded expect general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months, a 17-point reduction on our survey six months ago when a net 41.5% expected them to worsen. . .

Let’s see how the milk flows – and to whom – after DIRA changes are included in a deluge of new laws – Point of Order:

Latest from the Beehive

While the news media have been preoccupied with matters such as the resignation of a National MP and sacking of a Labour minister in recent days, Parliament has been getting on with legislating.  It has passed a tanker-load of bills, since we last posted a Beehive Bulletin, including legislation that government the economically vital dairy industry and Fonterra’s role in it.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill amends legislation passed almost 20 years ago to enable the creation of Fonterra and promote the efficient operation of dairy markets in New Zealand.

But the dairy sector has changed considerably since 2001 and the amendments made to “this very aged legislation” ensure this regulatory regime puts the sector in the best possible position in a post-COVID world, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said. . .

Farmers farming for today, thinking about tomorrow – Hugh Collins:

Environmental care and protection is a topic never far from the forefront of public and media discourse.

And more often than not the farming sector finds itself in the firing line over carbon emissions and pollution.

Yet Paul Edwards believes the vast majority of farmers have always been good custodians of the land.

“They are doing their best to look after their environmental footprint on the land and to make it sustainable for future generations,” he said. . . 

Warm dry conditions help shape up kūmara: – Carol Stiles:

Cooks will have to peel fewer gnarly kūmara this year thanks to a very unusual growing season.

Country Life producer Carol Stiles was in the kūmara capital recently and called in to see Andre de Bruin,  who has been growing kūmara around Dargaville for 25 years.

This season has been one out of the box for kūmara growers like Andre de Bruin.

It has resulted in an “absolutely stunning” crop, largely due to the heat and the big dry in the North.

He says the season has been one of the most interesting kūmara growers have ever had – from the extraordinary drought to the lessons of the Covid lockdown.

“The drought early on was very stressful,” he says. . . 

Support for flood-affected farmers:

Heavy rain affecting parts of Northland over the weekend is another blow to farmers recovering from the recent drought.

To support farmer decision-making as they deal with silt-damaged pastures, hungry stock and damaged infrastructure, Beef + lamb New Zealand has put together flood-specific management resources.

These include a list of immediate priorities and action plans, how to deal with silt, health and safety and guidelines for volunteers working on farm post-flood.

Veronica Gillett, Extension Manager for Northern North Island says recent rainfall in Northland has been powerful and destructive. . .

Implementing a holistic grazing plan  –  Annelie Coleman:

Sandy Speedy is regarded as one of the pioneers of holistic beef cattle production in South Africa. Annelie Coleman visited him and his daughter, Jennifer, on their cattle ranch between Vryburg and Kuruman to learn more about their ‘wagon wheel’ grazing system.

The Speedy family’s journey towards holistic grazing management started in the 1960s. At the time, the likes of botanist John Acocks, and red meat producer, Len Howell, were championing the counter-intuitive claim that grazing in South Africa was deteriorating because of overgrazing and under-stocking.

“Farmer’s Weekly at the time was filled with correspondence debating the validity, or otherwise, of the claim,” recalls Sandy Speedy.

It was at this time that Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) grassland specialist, Allan Savory, entered the discussion, and gave it new impetus with his concept of holistic grazing management. . . 


Rural round-up

July 24, 2020

That’s Northland’: floods follow droughts and tests farmers’ resolve – Brad Flahive:

While most of the floodwater in Northland has receded after the weekend’s deluge, the silt it left behind is a frustrating reminder of how vulnerable farmers are to the extremes of mother nature.

After months of near-crippling drought, more than 200mm of rain fell during two storms last weekend, and now the silt-laden paddocks can’t be used for pasture at this crucial time of year.

“The cows just won’t eat it, they just walk around in the mud and make a big mess,” said farmer Nick Bishop from his dairy farm, 10 kilometres east of Dargaville. . . 

Farm interactive learning platform – Yvonne O’Hara:

Chris and Desiree Giles, of Waimumu Downs, use their property as a giant interactive learning platform for children from the 16 eastern Southland schools.

“We are in the process of putting a classroom down on the farm. Getting the kids involved is a means of bringing in their parents and getting their buy-in,” Mr Giles said.

The couple, who have two children — Danielle (9) and Andrew (7) — have a 306ha dairy property (206ha effective), which was converted in 2014.

The family bought the original property six years ago and since then had almost doubled the acreage. . . 

Lowest number of of non-compliance’s in Taranaki since 2015 – Mike Watson:

Covid-19 and Taranaki residents’ growing environmental awareness have resulted in a record number of environmental incidents reported to the Taranaki Regional Council, but also a record low for the number of actual non-compliances.

During the past 12 months, 529 cases were reported – the highest figure for five years, the council’s consents and regulatory meeting was told on Tuesday.

But the number of non-compliances during the same monitoring period was 185 – the lowest in five years.

This was partly because of more consent holders following the rules but also because of reduced monitoring during the lockdown. . .

Group to set beef’s priorities – Annette Scott:

Grant Bunting never thought he would become so passionate about sustainability but says the sustainability challenge cannot be ignored if New Zealand producers want to improve their standing on the world stage. He talked to Annette Scott.

Grant Bunting has long had a genuine interest in farming systems and practices but new and evolving industry challenges have somewhat changed his outlook.

The inaugural chairman of the recently formed New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef said the growing importance the world puts on sustainability credentials across the supply chain has changed many a view.

“I have to admit I am quite traditional in my views but these sustainability challenges can’t be ignored.  . . 

Events celebrate rural communities :

Agritech industry transformation plan leader David Downs is returning to his roots as part of Pride in our Land events being held throughout the Manawatu-Wanganui Region.

Whanganui-born Downs, a general manager at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise who is head of the Government taskforce behind the agritech plan, is guest speaker at events in Raetihi and Whanganui next Thursday and Friday, July 30 and 31.

They are part of a wider series of get-togethers that began at Mokotuku’s Black Dog Pub on July 9 and wind up at Makoura Lodge at Apiti on August 15.

Whanganui Federated Farmers president Mike Cranstone says it has been a rough start to the year for landowners dealing with the adverse weather conditions and supply chain disruptions of the past six months. . . 

Farming is a great way of life – let’s make it a safe one – Jacqui Cannon:

There’s no doubt that farming, one of Australia’s most important industries, is also one of its most dangerous.

Big open spaces, big animals, big machinery, big workload.

In the past 18 months, more than 200 Australians have died in farming accidents, tearing apart families and communities – one in six are kids under five years old.

This goes beyond tragic; it’s horrifying. But the most horrifying aspect is that it’s so readily accepted by many as “just a part of life on the land“. . .

 


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