Rural round-up

June 13, 2019

NZ customers admire our values – Mike Petersen:

The international trading system is facing one of its biggest challenges in recent times.

The building trade war between the US and China and the impasse at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are two significant global events that demand the attention of New Zealand in its dependence on trade for continued success.

Alongside these two geopolitical power plays runs a creeping tide of protectionism in the form of nationalist inward-looking policies that challenge the global value chain model which is increasingly becoming the future of food. . .

From the ground up – Penny Clark-Hall:

Rural communities are incredibly powerful and beautiful things. I’ve seen them in action during natural disasters, family tragedies, raising children, supporting each others businesses, families, hopes and dreams. It’s this calibre of people that are now starting to take charge of their own Social Licence to Operate (SLO) – helping and learning from each other. Many forming their own catchment groups and managing, measuring and improving their own environmental impact.

The isolation of rural communities makes them incredibly vulnerable to the calibre of its inhabitants. But thankfully, it is also a breeding ground for creating a rich tapestry of people that build communities out of necessity. Our remoteness creates a much stronger reliance on each other where we all strive to bring something valuable to the community, to make it our own – our home. It’s got a name – resilience. . .

Success in its rawest form

Northland sharemilkers Guy and Jaye Bakewell’s number-eight wire ingenuity is not only helping pay off their dairy cows faster but capitalising on consumers’ growing demand for raw milk. Luke Chivers reports. 

Open any dairy farmer’s fridge and you will likely find it stocked with raw, untreated milk.

Now more and more urban consumers are catching on.

Four days a week in Auckland’s inner-city suburbs many people look twice as a sign-written truck delivers raw milk in glass bottles to residents.

“It’s just like it used to be done back in the day,” 31-year-old Guy Bakewell says. . .

 

Rural mental health lacks detail – Richard Rennie:

Rural health supporters and agencies are not holding their collective breath for a major windfall from the Government’s massive $1.9 billion mental health package in the Budget.

The mental health package is to be spread over five years and includes $455 million to expand access to primary mental health and addiction support, particularly for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues.

But Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand executive director Marie Daly said so far there is only resounding silence from government agencies about where rural mental health sits in regard to the money.

Rural mental health has become a pressing issue with statistics recording 20 farmers taking their own lives in the year to June 2018, a figure relatively unchanged over the past five years. Rural health providers are also reporting significant increases in rural depression and mental health issues. . . 

Dual cropping to increase efficiency in commercial hemp farming:

Developments in hemp cropping could place New Zealand at the forefront of innovation globally, says Craig Carr, group managing director of Carrfields.

New multi-purpose cropping innovations being developed by Hemp NZ, Carrfields and NZ Yarn are paving the way for highly efficient use of the whole plant – resulting in higher potential returns for growers.

Under a partnership established late last year, Hemp NZ, NZ Yarn and Carrfields are making changes to hemp harvesting technology which allows the stalks and seed to be separated at harvest. . .

Finding the best diet for you and the planet – Carolyn Mortland:

Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability Carolyn Mortland looks at finding a diet that’s good for you and good for the planet.

It’s hard enough working out what food is nutritionally good for us. But what about throwing in the question around what we eat and how it might impact the health of the planet?

With the challenges we face around climate change and a rising global population, we’re starting to see more studies and assessment tools that look to draw conclusions on what is a healthy and sustainable diet.

The debate is heating up around what foods have the smallest environmental footprint, and what proportion of our diet should be animal-based vs. plant-based. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 12, 2019

Dairy law changes spur dissent – Sally Rae:

Changes to dairy industry legislation will bring some improvements to the sector but also represent “a missed opportunity”, both Fonterra and Federated Farmers say.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday announced changes to be made to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) and the Dairy Industry Restructuring Raw Milk Regulations 2012.

The changes include allowing Fonterra to refuse milk supply from new conversions and from farmers who did not comply with its supply standards. . . 

Crush protection for quad bikes very worthwhile option – Feds:

Federated Farmers is on board with WorkSafe’s decision to “strongly recommend” installation of a crush protection device (CPD) on quad bikes used for work purposes.

“We support WorkSafe’s policy clarification.  For some time Federated Farmers has been saying CPDs, or roll over protection as it used to be called, can be a very useful injury prevention option in many – but not all – farm settings,” Feds President Katie Milne says.

“There is still some debate about CPDs, including from quad bike manufacturers who say they are unsafe, and those who say the device itself can cause injury in some circumstances.  But like WorkSafe, Federated Farmers believes there is now enough evidence from credible sources to say that farmers should at least be considering Crush Protection Devices. . . 

Forest awards apprentices of the year a chip of the old block – Sally Rae:

Paige Harland was born to be in the bush.

Miss Harland (21) comes from a Southland family who have sap in their blood over three generations.

Named apprentice of the year at the recent 2019 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards, she works for Harland Brothers Logging.

The business was established by her grandfather and great-uncle, later taken over by her uncle Peter and is now run by her cousins Jesse and Corrie Harland. . . 

Deer farmers set example:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter have won the premier Elworthy Award in the deer industry’s 2019 environmental awards.

The Potters were praised by the award judges for their work in enhancing the environmental performance of their property.

They have owned the 640ha Waipapa Station for 20 years.

A bush clad gully on their Elsthorpe farm is a highly visible and attractive aspect of the Potters’ contribution. . . 

 

Decision to not front Lumsden meeting ’embarrassing’, MP says:

The Ministry of Health and Southern District Health Board decision not to meet with Southland midwives today has been described as a slap in the face.

The meeting was called to help midwives practice safely in the area after the former Lumsden Maternity Centre was downgraded.

It was cancelled after both organisations decided not to front up to midwives this afternoon.

National’s Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said it was embarrassing that neither were prepared to meet with midwives for the good of the rural communities. . . 

Meet the midwives at Fieldays:

For this first time this year, midwives will have a stand at Fieldays at Mystery Creek in Hamilton.

Midwives play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of rural communities throughout New Zealand and the thousands of people who flock to the country’s premier agricultural show, will have an opportunity find out more about their work.

Out of New Zealand’s total population of 4.8 million, approximately 576,000* people live in rural areas. Around 55,000 women give birth annually in New Zealand; nearly a third of whom live in rural areas. . . 


DIRA update disappoints

June 7, 2019

Proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act are a missed opportunity:

. . . Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan says that while the Government has recommended tweaks to the rules under which Fonterra has to give its farmers’ milk, effectively at cost price to foreign-backed competitors, the playing field is still tipped against New Zealand dairy farmers.

“Our farmer-owned Co-operative wants an industry that promotes investment across regional New Zealand and where profits are kept in New Zealand.  We stand for an industry where New Zealand farmers are paid well for their milk and the unique attributes of our environment are protected and enhanced.

“Given the significant increase in competition within the New Zealand dairy industry, we’re disappointed the Government did not recommend removing the requirement for us to supply our farmers’ milk to large, export-focused businesses altogether.

Farmers now have plenty of choice of processors and other companies should no longer need the safety net of Fonterra milk.

We welcome the Government’s decision to give Fonterra the right to refuse membership to our Co-op where a farm is unlikely to comply with our terms of supply, or where the farm is a new conversion. These changes will support our Co-op’s ability to meet our customers’ demands and continue leading the industry toward a sustainable future for our farmers and the rural communities in which they live and farm.” . . 

Forcing Fonterra to collect milk from anyone, anywhere has encouraged farm conversions in places where, had there been a choice, Fonterra would have turned them down. It has also given the company too little latitude with farmers that don’t meet its standards.

Fonterra Shareholders Council is disappointed with the proposed changes:

Today our farmers will be feeling ignored and frustrated. Despite their efforts to engage in meaningful consultation on changes to DIRA their voice has largely gone unheard as we continue to kick the can down the road with respect to essential change to this important piece of legislation. We do however acknowledge that we are only one of many stakeholders whose interests need to be considered.

This was an opportunity to focus on the wider industry, not just Fonterra, and to optimise value creation for New Zealand from the dairy sector. We are concerned the opportunity to shift DIRA’s purpose to the future and to enable the highest value creation from our milk hasn’t been fully taken up.

The proposed changes to open entry and exit, whilst helpful, do little to address the concerns of our farmers. Recognising the importance of dairy to regional New Zealand, the changes do not go far enough to address the current strong competition for milk and the risk of over-capacity. It’s disappointing that the industry wide solution to enable the removal of open entry, which was developed with Federated Farmers, has not been taken up.

The proposed changes to the milk price regime are of deep concern. Government having the right to nominate a member to the Milk Price Panel is a step too far and gives rise to a direct conflict with the independent oversight of the regime by the Commerce Commission.

MPI also had concerns aobut this:

. . . O’Connor plans to limit Fonterra’s ability to determine a key assumption in setting the base milk price, known as the asset beta.

He will also be able to nominate a member to Fonterra’s milk price panel, although that wasn’t taken to cabinet in the paper and regulatory impact assessments.

MPI did say external appointments to the panel were proposed in submissions but not considered.

“MPI considers that this would create issues of confidentiality and commercial sensitivity, potentially placing Fonterra at a competitive disadvantage,” it said. . . 

Back to the Shareholders Council:

There was strong farmer support for better milk price transparency from other processors and this has not been heard.

Our farmers support the need for a strong domestic market for consumers. However, access to regulated priced milk for all export focused processors should have been removed.

We are disappointed there is no firm position on the expiry of DIRA and when the New Zealand market for milk collection – whether national or regional – will be considered sufficiently competitive. And there is also no transition pathway to de-regulation. . . 

Fonterra’s dominance justified regulation when DIRA was first enacted but there is now sufficient competition from and strength in other companies to begin looking towards eventual deregulation.

Federated Farmers sees useful changes and a missed opportunity in the proposals:

“We’re disappointed that open entry provisions won’t be changed, other than relating to new conversions,” Feds Dairy Industry Group Chairperson Chris Lewis says.

“It’s nearly 20 years since this legislation was passed to ensure that with the formation of Fonterra, competition for farmer milk supply, and dairy product choice for consumers, was preserved.  The market is now mature enough, and competition among a host of processing companies robust enough, for Fonterra to be given some discretion over who it is required to pick up milk from.”

Today’s decisions announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor will give Fonterra some leeway over accepting milk from land newly converted to dairy, “and that’s good,” Lewis says.  “We await detail on what the definition of a ‘new conversion’ is.

“We’re also pleased that the amended DIRA will give more clarity on when Fonterra can refuse supply when a farmer is well below industry standards relating to the environment, animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions and the like.

“There are some farmers who have demonstrated their unwillingness to come up to the standard of all the other shareholder/suppliers out there.

“As with other aspects of the government’s announcements, the devil will be in the detail,” Lewis says. . . 

The government had the opportunity to make major changes to the DIRA, recognising changes in farming and the expansion of processing since the company was established in 2001.

Instead it’s just tinkered, leaving Fonterra and its shareholders to carry the costs of supplying competitors, most of which are overseas companies.


Rural round-up

June 3, 2019

Townies ringing the changes on rural folk – Nigel Malthus:

Decisions are being made about and for New Zealand’s rural communities by the 80% of the population who live in urban areas, say the authors of a new book on rural change.

Current trends favour a market led, business focussed approach to regional growth, but these trends downplay social and community considerations, and that needs further thought, the authors say.

Heartland Strong: how rural New Zealand can change and thrive finds that rural communities have enormous strengths which could be enhanced and maintained even in the face of inexorable change. . .

Debt problems rise only slightly – Nigel Stirling:

The number of dairy farmers struggling with high debt has risen slightly, according to the Reserve Bank’s latest stock-take of the health of the financial system.

In its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report it said the number of non-performing dairy loans reported by the trading banks has increased slightly.

“The dairy sector is continuing to recover from the two major dairy price downturns in the past decade. . .

Plan needed for competing wood demands – Fonterra – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Wood is a viable industrial fuel but greater effort may be needed to ensure that new demand from processors doesn’t strip supplies from existing users, Fonterra says.

Co-firing the firm’s Brightwater milk powder plant near Nelson on a wood-coal blend shows that wood is a viable means to reduce emissions from process heat, Tony Oosten, the firm’s energy manager, says.

Capital and fuel costs for new wood or coal boilers are now very close and the company could – were it to be building its Darfield 2 dryer in Canterbury again – do that with wood. . . 

 

World leading scientist teaming up with Fonterra on sustainability:

Professor Ian Hunter is a serial entrepreneur. Born in New Zealand, he started his first company at age nine and published his first scientific paper at age 10.

Now living in Boston, he’s the Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, the co-founder of 25 companies, and has more than 100 patents to his name.

He’s also working on a new project – a partnership with Fonterra to solve some of dairy farming’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Kakariki Fund to help horticulture starts accelerate growth:

A wholesale investment offer being launched this week is aimed at helping the emerging stars of the New Zealand horticulture sector accelerate their growth.

Kakariki Fund Limited, which is seeking $100 million, will invest in orchards, vineyards, plantations and farms to be co-managed by leading horticulture processors and exporters including apple growers Rockit Global and Freshmax, Sacred Hill wines, craft beer hop grower Hop Revolution, Manuka honey producer Comvita and kiwifruit grower and packer DMS Progrowers.

Kakariki is targeting annual investment returns of 10%*, which will be made up of earnings from the sale of crops through the partners and any increases in land values.  . . 

Meat is magnificent water, carbon, methane & nutrition  – Diana Rodgers:

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

There was a recent article in The Washington Post entitled “Meat is Horrible”, once again vilifying meat, that was full of inaccurate statements about the harm cattle impose on the land, how bad it is for our health, and how it should be taxed. Stories like this are all too common and we’ve absolutely got to change our thinking on what’s causing greenhouse gas emissions and our global health crisis.

Hint: it’s not grass-fed steak

In the few days since the story originally came out, I’ve been brewing up some different angle to write. I’ve written here, and here about the benefits of red meat, and how Tofurky isn’t the answer to healing the environment or our health. I keep saying the same thing over and over. Recently, I posted this as a response to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new claims that a plant-based diet is optimal. I also wrote about Philadelphia’s sugar tax here, and I don’t think a meat tax is any better of an idea, especially when the government is subsidizing the feed. I’m feeling quite frustrated. . . 


It’s still World Milk Day . . .

June 2, 2019

It’s still World Milk Day in other parts of the world.

Wherever it comes from it’s good for us:


Rural round-up

May 29, 2019

Roadside birth: it could have been much worse – Tim Miller:

The Southland mother who gave birth to her son on the side of the road yesterday morning says the situation could have been much worse.

As a result of her experience with the newborn, Amanda McIvor will now join the campaign to improve maternity services in the South.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has also written to the Prime Minister this morning, asking her to reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Hospital.

Early yesterday, Ms McIvor knew she was in labour so called her midwife, Sarah Stokes, who advised her and partner Gordon Cowie to drive to Lumsden from their home between Mossburn and Te Anau for an assessment. . . 

Multi-million dollar cherry venture – Pam Jones:

Mt Pisa Station has been named as the location for the latest multimillion-dollar cherry venture in Central Otago.

Station manager Shane MacMillan said the family’s sheep and beef business would invest in the $15.5million project, which would result in 80ha of the station’s land being planted out in premium quality cherries for export from 2021-22.

It is one of three projects to be led by cherry investment firm Hortinvest in Central Otago in the past two years.

Another development – also worth $15.5million, and also on 80ha of land – is planned for Lindis Peaks Station and will be called the Lindis River development. . .

Drafting cows easy as :

Being environmentally friendly while farming happy and healthy cows and achieving a high in-calf rate were the three main drivers for Jonathan Power’s decision to install an autodrafter at his shed.

Power milks 530 Friesian-cross on 143 hectares at Lismore, Mid Canterbury. 

When he took over the property as the sharemilker five seasons ago the 40-aside herringbone was completely refitted with new plant. His earlier experience in an 80-bail rotary with a competitor’s drafting gate meant he already knew the value of autodrafting. . .

Fieldays: a food and fibre vision :

It’s an extraordinary time to be a farmer in New Zealand. On the one hand returns have been strong across most sectors and the demand outlook continues to look good for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, there is deep concern across the sector that farmers are not receiving credit for the hard work being done in the environmental sustainability space and, perhaps more concerning, we are being asked to shoulder an unfair share of the burden of addressing climate change. Primary Sector Council chairman Lain Jager explains.

It is in this context the Primary Sector Council set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April last year has been talking to farming groups around the country about what a vision for the future might look like. . .

What caused the abandonment of New Zealand’s freezing works – John Summers:

This story was originally published by North & South and is republished with permission.

OPINION: John Summers wonders if his abiding interest in New Zealand’s abandoned freezing works is actually a long farewell to his grandfather.

One summer, we drove north-east, beyond Gisborne to the quiet bays on that coast: Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay. Towns where sand settles between the stones in the asphalt and, walking down the street, you’re as likely to be passed by a kid on a horse as by a car.

There was a campground we planned to stay at, but it was a treeless field. No toilets, no kitchen. “We’re pretty relaxed around here,” the owner said, but we weren’t, so drove on to another. After pitching the tent, we walked to the end of the bay and onto a dilapidated wharf to look out at the empty sea – no ship had docked here for decades. . . 

Passion for merino ewes drives ambition – Stephen Burns:

“I’m truly fascinated by the Merino,” was Ross Walters’ comment after his flock of Bindaree-blood May-shorn maiden ewes had been awarded the Monaro Livestock and Property Trophy for Overall winner of the 90thBerridale Maiden Merino ewe competition.

“They live and perform under various conditions, but can still make a good return,” he said.

“The Monaro is some of the toughest country in Australia, if not the world, yet the Merino ewe is very productive with high lambing percentages and heavy wool cuts.” . . .


Rural round-up

May 28, 2019

Passion drives business – Sally Rae:

When Anna Miles leads a potential young racehorse around the sales ring, she always thinks of her grandfather and how proud he would be.

As a young girl, Ms Miles would accompany him to race meetings at Riccarton, as he owned racehorses.

She became captivated with “the colour, the sound, the excitement and the thrill” of thoroughbred racing and that passion eventually turned into a career.

Through much hard work, Ms Miles and her husband Michael Simpson have transformed 12ha of bare land on the outskirts of Waimate into a boutique equine facility. . .

The Wool Challenge: Naturesclip’s replacement for bubble wrap, OceanWool:

At Idealog, we regularly celebrate our design community’s brilliance. Admittedly, we also get a twisted sort of pleasure out of making our annual design challenge harder and harder each year – but that’s because we want to ensure the community continues to think outside the box. Thanks to our friends at Icebreaker, we sent out a box of very raw wool fibre to some talented humans in a range of design disciplines and tasked them with recreating an everyday object using wool. Here’s what wool product company Naturesclip came up with – a replacement for bubble wrap, OceanWool.

 

Fonterra’s strategic reset is up against headwinds – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s Q3 results for 2018/19 show that Fonterra is running into headwinds with its strategic reset. That is not to suggest the current policy is necessarily flawed. Rather, it reflects the pickle that Fonterra has got itself into in recent years.  It’s hard turning around a big ship.

The general media has focused on three headline messages. The first is that estimated milk price to farmers for this season just ending has dropped by 10c to between $6.30 and $6.40 per kg milksolids (fat plus protein).

The second message is that the initial estimate for the coming season is only $6.75, whereas most were expecting to see a ‘7’ at the start of the 2019/20 figure. . .

Synlait Announces $7.00 Kgms Forecast Milk Price for 2019/2020 Season:

Synlait Milk’s (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) opening forecast base milk price for the upcoming 2019 / 2020 season is $7.00 kgMS.

Synlait also announced its’ forecast base milk price for the 2018 / 2019 season has increased from $6.25 kgMS to $6.40 kgMS.

“The increase to $6.40 kgMS for this season is due to recovering dairy commodity prices since our last update in January 2019,” says Leon Clement, Synlait’s CEO. . .

Southland Water and Land Plan adversely targets farmers – Darryl Sycamore:

The Southland Water and Land Plan adversely targets farmers, writes Federated Farmers Southland senior policy adviser Darryl Sycamore.

You can have whatever you want – as long as you pay for it.

So when you don’t pay, what can you expect?

Costs are skyrocketing for Federated Farmers as we prepare for Environment Court Hearings on the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan.

Tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent on several years of submissions and hearings on this plan.

Southland Federated Farmers has identified 27 aspects of the plan that will adversely affect farming in Southland. . . 

Why these sheep have been fitted with nappies :

A team of Brazilian researchers have fitted sheep with diapers as part of a study to help maximise farm production.

The Agricultural Research and Rural Extension Company is carrying out the study, in which the sheep’s pasture intake rate is measured in a range of different grass lengths.

The sheep are fitted with a microphone which monitors pasture eaten, while the nappies are fitted to measure the weight of the animal’s faeces to see how much grass has been ingested. . . 

Queenstown’s Organic Solutions acquires leading farm:

In what is seen to be a major shift in the New Zealand organics industry, Organic Solutions has acquired Brydone Growers of Oamaru. Brydone Growers, one of the oldest and largest organic growers in the South Island, is a the only South Island organic grower of many brassica and leafy crops in addition to their organic potato crops famous throughout New Zealand.

“The demand for organics is outstripping supply. Securing a stable source of organic vegetables for our Thai food operations is a cornerstone of our growth strategies. Queenstown and now Timaru are hungry for organic Thai food, and they grow hungrier by the day.” said James Porteous, Director and Founder of Organic Solutions. . .

Tohu Whenua celebrates deep connection to the land:

Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua
As people disappear from sight, the land remains

With artisan wine-making, stories of the land where the wine comes from, and labels inspired by traditional tukutuku patterns, Tohu Wines has launched Tohu Whenua, a new series of single vineyard wines.

Each varietal within the Whenua series carries the name of the vineyard it originates from – either Whenua Awa, in Upper Awatere Valley, Marlborough or Whenua Matua in Upper Moutere, Nelson. . . 


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