Hawke’s Bay deer farmers M&S sustainability champions

15/10/2012

Hawke’s Bay deer farmers and Federated Farmers members, Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe, are Marks & Spencer 2012 Farming for the Future Champion of Champions.

“Marks & Spencer is a globally recognised brand which epitomises quality and environmental sustainability. This is huge for us, for the FirstLight Foods group which sells our product to Marks & Spencer, our industry and for New Zealand agriculture.

“Having been judged by the company and its customers as the most sustainable farm of five finalists, representing Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England is a huge endorsement of the farming systems and philosophies we have developed over the years.

“Our on-farm environmental activities started in 1995 when we fenced off and covenanted a seven hectare block of native trees. Since then we have fenced off around five percent of our farm, including protecting and enhancing three wetland areas, planting thousands of native plants and trees along the way.

“The judges were impressed with our animal health management, which uses nutrition where possible to minimise drench and vaccine use.

“The Aitken Weaning Technique is a development we are especially proud of, which has been taken up throughout the deer industry.

“This works with the animals’ instincts to wait for their mother, allowing them to process the separation quietly rather than injuring themselves and cutting up pasture. Since we discovered this, the industry is estimated to have saved about $1.2 million a year in losses and damage at weaning time.

“Lucy and I were already very proud of what we have achieved on our farm, but receiving this level of recognition from British consumers is a huge confidence boost,” Mr Aitken concluded.

Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills said Tim and Lucy were excellent examples of Kiwi farmers leading the way on sustainable farming.

“The Marks & Spencer Farming for the Future award recognises farmers for how well they treat their livestock, their technical excellence as farmers and their overall environmental performance. Winning the overall award ahead of the four British finalists is a huge endorsement of Tim and Lucy’s farming systems and of the esteem New Zealand agriculture is held in internationally,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Tim and Lucy had already won the title of Marks & Spencer’s best international supplier against more than 50 entries.

“Having the technical aspects of their business being judged was one thing, but winning the champion of champions award showed these people and their business really won the hearts and minds of a discerning British public who supported them in the popular vote.

“Federated Farmers is proud to have this couple as members and we encourage all New Zealand farmers to follow their example, lead the world in innovative animal welfare and environmental management and to enter into awards to let the world see the great work we are doing,” Mr Wills concluded.

To win the international category in competition with more than 50 suppliers from all around the world was an achievement in itself.

To win the overall champion’s title when competing against UK section winners English farmer Bill Cowperthwaite, Scottish farmer Gary Jamieson, Nigel McMullen from Ireland and Welsh farmer David Phillips; in a popular vote is even more notable.

Jon Morgan writes about the win here.


Rural round-up

17/07/2012

Philanthropist meat industry pioneer dies:

Hawke’s Bay businessman and philanthropist Graeme Lowe has died after a 15-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

    His family said he died peacefully at his Havelock North home yesterday, surrounded by close family members, including wife Jenny, son Andy, and daughters Sarah Whyte and Kate Stace. 

    Andy Lowe said his 77-year-old father had lived his life to the full. 

    “We have lost a great husband, father, mentor and friend,” the son said. “He has touched the lives of so many, from all walks of life.” 

    A pioneer of the modern meat industry, Mr Lowe led Lowe Corporation from its inception in 1964. . .

PGP delivers on Government growth plan:

Primary Industries Minister David Carter has welcomed today’s announcement of a major investment partnership for New Zealand’s export beef sector.

The Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) is to fund half of a $23.7 million programme led by Brownrigg Agriculture and Firstlight Foods to produce high-value marbled beef for premium markets.

“The Government’s total investment so far of more than quarter of a billion dollars in PGP programmes demonstrates its firm commitment to boosting economic growth through primary sector research and innovation,” says Mr Carter. . .

Tapping into the halal economy – Richard Meadows:

The Muslim slaughtermen turns the stunned sheep to face Mecca, offering a prayer to Allah as he slits its throat and leaves the carcass to bleed out. 

    This bloody image is the face of halal in New Zealand, but business leaders will have to move past it if they want a piece of the largely untapped $2.3 trillion halal economy globally. 

    “Halal is not about ritual slaughtering of animals,” said Jamil Bidin, chief executive of Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation. . .

German Festival-Goers Flock to Eat New Zealand Lamb and Venison:

New Zealand lamb and venison were in such hot demand at Northern Europe’s biggest summer festival, the organisers had to get in extra chefs to satisfy the hungry queues.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Deer Industry New Zealand were invited to take part in this year’s Kieler Woche celebrations – the first time in the festival’s 130-year history New Zealand has been represented at the international market.

The market in Kiel’s picturesque main square is at the hub of more than 2,000 sports and cultural events which attract around three million visitors annually to a city with a population not much bigger than Hamilton’s. . .

Lifestylers to set rural rates – Alan Emerson:

I didn’t realise that New Zealand had a National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis but we do.

It is part of the University of Waikato in Hamilton. Its Professor of Population Economics is Dr Jacques Poot who has an impressive list of qualifications and is extremely approachable.

He gave a talk at the recent Fieldays at Mystery Creek and the news is largely bad for the rural sector and the family farm. I was surprised the talk didn’t receive more media coverage than it did.

Basically over the next 20 years the rural population will shrink and get older. . .

Move to NZ life-changing – Sally Rae:

Animal scientist Bruno Santos has no regrets about a    life-changing decision to move from Brazil to Dunedin.   

 Mr Santos, who moved to the city in February to work for  consultancy and new venture development company, AbacusBio,      was joined by his wife, Renata, and their two young childre last month.

He is no stranger to AbacusBio, having collaborated with the  company on business development and technical projects in Brazil. . .

New Zealand wine – a glass half-full:

A weather-affected 2012 New Zealand wine harvest has reduced bulging stocks and driven a small but significant lift in Marlborough sauvignon blanc (MSB) grape prices. This is leading many in the industry to once again “view the proverbial glass as half full rather than half empty” when it comes to New Zealand wine, according to a new industry report. In its Wine Quarterly Q2: New Zealand wine – a glass half full, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says an unseasonably cool and in some parts rain-affected 2012 New Zealand wine harvest of 269,000 tonnes (down 18 per cent on 2011) has reduced the high stock levels that had fuelled a surge in bulk wine exports and private label brands in recent years. . .


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