Rural round-up

April 16, 2019

‘M. bovis’ effects force family off farm – Sally Rae:

Graham Hay is preparing to walk off the land his family has farmed for nearly a century.

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

It is gut-wrenching to hear his voice choking, as he explains how he and his wife Sonja have had no choice but to sell their farm.

Already under financial pressure coming out of an irrigation development phase, he believed they could have farmed through that. . . 

Lessons learned: MPI holds public meeting with farmers – Sally Rae:

Painful lessons have been learned during the Mycoplasma bovis response and hopefully all lessons will be “locked in” and used in the event of another disease incursion, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

Mr Gwyn was speaking at a public meeting in Oamaru last week, as part of a series of farmer and public meetings throughout the country.

Those meetings came in the wake of the launch of the 2019 Mycoplasma bovis National Plan, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand last week. . . 

Yili bid for Westland Milk raises questions about dairy co-operatives – and Fonterra’s ownership – Point of Order:

On  the face  of  it, it’s  a  no-brainer.  Weighed  down  with  debt,  Westland  Milk,  based in   Hokitika  is financially  on  its  knees.  Riding  to  its  rescue,  Chinese  dairy  giant  Yili  has come in with a  $588m buyout deal   which  will yield  $3.41  a share   to the co-op’s  farmer shareholders,  and, as well,   absorb  Westland’s debt and liabilities.

According to  Westland, the  nominal value of its shares  has ranged  from  70c  to $1.50  per share. For the  average-sized  Westland farm, the  share offer translates to  about half a  million dollars cash.

The offer  looks even  more attractive since  Westland had to  cut its  milk payout  forecast, while other  companies’ forecasts  are rising.  Westland, which has  grown out of  the West  Coast’s  150-year  dairy heritage, hasn’t paid  a  competitive milk price   for  several years. . . 

Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade may force expectant mothers to travel further

Mothers may be forced to travel further to give birth after a Southland birthing centre was downgraded.

The Southern District Health Board announced the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade last August, triggering community outcry, a protest march, petition and appeals to the government.

The centre has become a maternal and child hub where babies are only delivered in an emergency.

The company that ran the centre said mothers travelled from as far away as Queenstown and Te Anau to use the birthing services. . . 

Farmhand’s common sense solution for vegan activism – Andrea Davy:

A YOUNG farmhand has offered up a commonsense approach for stopping the spread of misinformation around Australian farming.

Coming off the back this week’s vegan protests, which rolled out across the nation on Monday, Zoe Carter posted a Facebook live where she called on the industry to “step up” and increase education in schools.

Zoe has more than 140,000 followers online, an audience she has grown through sharing videos and photos from her life working in ag.

In the post, she said the current education system was leaving a huge knowledge gap on how food was produced. And, unfortunately, this space was being filled up with “lies” peddled on social media. . . 

Large-scale highly fertile stock finishing farm for sale:

A highly-productive farm whose grazing stock once produced prized wool used by one of New Zealand’s foremost carpet manufacturers has been placed on the market for sale.

Puketotara, near Huntly in the Waikato, was previously owned by Douglas Bremner – the businessman who founded the legendary Bremworth Carpet brand in 1959. Wool from the Drysdale sheep farmed at Bremner’s Puketotara farm was used in the production of quality carpet manufactured at the company’s mill in South Auckland.

The Bremner family sold the property in 1989, and soon after it was converted into an intensive breeding and finishing farm – stocking beef and sheep and producing cash crops.. . 


Fonterra recognising high performing farms

April 6, 2019

Fonterra has announced details of its new approach to sustainability on farm:

. . .The Co-operative Difference will make it easier for farmers to know what is expected today and in the future, as well as recognise those farmers who are taking steps to produce high quality milk in a more sustainable way.

The farmer-owned Co-operative has signalled its new strategy will put sustainability at the heart of everything it does, empower the Co-op to maximise its New Zealand heritage and uniqueness, and help it to remain a globally competitive New Zealand co-operative.

Co-operative Affairs Managing Director Mike Cronin says, “Sustainability for our Co-op is about more than the environment. It’s about looking after our people, caring for animals, adapting to changing customer and consumer expectations, and respecting the communities and land where we live and work.

“We are proud of the global reputation Fonterra farmers have for producing high quality milk. Farmers have made tremendous progress on farm to date and The Co-operative Difference will help us take that good work to the next level so we can continue to create goodness for generations to come.”

The Co-operative Difference will support the Co-op’s emerging strategy direction by:

• recognising farmers who go beyond the minimum requirements to supply high-quality milk, care for their animals, protect the environment, support their people and community, and engage in their Co-operative;

• helping other farmers follow suit by making existing on-farm requirements easier to understand and by providing tailored, industry-leading support services to those who want to improve;

• providing more information and advance notice to farmers about our future aspirations so they can plan and progress towards our shared ambitions;

• streamlining reporting and auditing to save farmers’ time and energy, and help the Co-op protect its market position, strengthen its sustainability claims, and drive demand for products that customers and consumers value most; and,

• supporting farms wanting to improve, while taking a firmer line with those that persistently fail to meet minimum standards, and exercising our rights to suspend collection.

“Consumers and customers increasingly want to know that their food choices support a sustainable future. How we farm and make our products needs to reflect these aspirations so we can remain a globally competitive New Zealand co-operative.

“Our Co-operative’s strong dairy heritage and pasture-based system separates us from the pack but we must continue to earn our customers’ and consumers’ trust and loyalty. The Co-operative Difference will help us share the good work happening on farm through our Trusted Goodness™ commitment,” says Mr Cronin.

The Co-operative Difference was developed in consultation with farmers who wanted their Co-op to simplify and reduce complexity of requirements, provide direction on priority on-farm improvements, and increase pride in the Co-op by recognising high performing farms in a way that aligns with the Co-op’s values.

Recognising those doing well, helping those who want to do better and a firmer line with those who persistently fail to measure up – which will include suspending milk collection – is a good combination of carrot and stick.

This is a good initiative for the company, its suppliers, their staff, the environment and ultimately consumers.

 


Rural round-up

April 1, 2019

Let’s talk relationships – Nigel Malthus:

A Collingwood dairying couple is calling for formal recognition of healthy human relationships and wellbeing as quantifiable benchmarks in dairy farming.

Tim and Deborah Rhodes say the industry acknowledges the need for healthy environments and healthy animals, but not healthy humans.

They have asked Fonterra, via the Shareholders’ Council, to adopt a code of practice they call ‘responsible relationships.’ . . 

Partnership farm trials show GHG possibilities:

An 18-month long project to understand how changes on farm to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may impact a farms profitability and productivity has come to fruition, with the results for the Owl demonstration farm in Cambridge released today by DairyNZ.

“Our aim was to model and apply practical measures to see how we can adapt New Zealand’s highly efficient pastoral farm systems to meet New Zealand’s climate change goals,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

“The outcome of this project is important to helping us understand the impact of making improvements or changes to how a farm operates in order to reduce emissions and nitrogen leaching.” . .

 

Technology gains on farm praised – Gina McKenzie:

Making informed decisions using technology has created more productive land use for farms while reducing their environmental impact, according to Eyrewell farmer Mike Smith.

When Mr Smith and his family began their farming partnership in 2010, one of the first tasks was to boost soil fertility, along with adding soil moisture monitors, soil temperature monitors and flow meters.

”We wanted to know where we were sitting with our soil types, soil fertility and soil moisture-holding capabilities to make really well-informed decisions,” he said. . . 

Grower taking quinoa to market – Toni Williams:

The ancient grain quinoa (pronounced keen-waa) is touted as a new superfood but its history stems back to ancient times in South America.

It is successfully grown in New Zealand (in both the North and South Island) but is still imported in large quantities from Bolivia and Peru, as well as Australia.

And that is something Methven farmer Andrew Currie, and his partner Gaewynn Hood, at Avonmore Farm, on State Highway 77, just out of Methven, want to change.

Mr Currie, the third generation of growers on the property, knows of just three other substantial growers in New Zealand: two in the North Island and one in the South Island. . . 

Introducing the 2019 Sheep Industry Ambassadors: Part 2:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have selected two Sheep Industry Ambassadors to represent this country at the Australia – New Zealand – United States Sheep Industry Ambassadors programme (formerly known as TriLamb). They are Tom Whitford from Northern Waikato and Cameron Russell from Southland. New Zealand will be hosting the 2019 programme and the Ambassadors will be touring New Zealand in late March. In part two, we meet Cameron Russell.

Sheep Industry career-path needs promoting

Cameron Russell is living proof that the sheep industry has a lot to offer young people with the right attitude and a willingness to succeed.

At 26 years of age, he is married with a child and working in a well-paid job as stock manager on Southland’s Diamond Peak Station. . . 

Time to fund the fight against animal activists says Top End beef leader – Vernon Graham:

The cattle transaction levy should be lifted by 50 cents to better fund the fight against the beef industry’s enemies headed by animal activists, says Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association president, Chris Nott.

Mr Nott, Alcoota Station, Alice Springs, told the NTCA’s annual conference in Darwin the time had come for beef producers to stand up to their critics and opponents.

Many delegates were clearly worried the beef industry was losing the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers because of the misinformation being spread by animal activists. . . 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 31, 2019

We cannot take food supply for granted – Neal Wallace:

News the Government will protect elite soils is welcome but by no means signals the resolution of broader challenges facing land use and the productive sector.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1As reported in Farmers Weekly’s Land Squeeze series, the Ministry for the Environment has started the process of preparing a national policy statement for high-value soils, which will be finalised after consultation later this year.

That protection is needed because urban sprawl and lifestyle blocks swallow up to 100,000 hectares a year including Auckland paving 10,500 hectares of high-quality soil in the last 35 years.

Domestic food demand will only increase as New Zealand’s population is expected to hit five million in 2020 and 5.5m in 2025 while demand will also rise from an ever-expanding global population. . . 

Spud family name’s on the packet – Tim Fulton:

James Bowan grows potatoes for a nationwide paddock-to-packet potato chip brand.  Nearly a decade after the business started he’s still happiest in the paddock. Tim Fulton reports.

The Bowan family farms more than 600ha at Orari in South Canterbury. Down the road at industrial Washdyke, in the slipstream of Timaru, the family also runs the Heartland chips processing plant.

Fallgate Farm includes 250-odd hectares of spuds, 320ha of combinable cereals,150ha of grass seed and a few other bits and pieces, especially seeds.

It adds up to a lot of business from farm to shop shelf but James isn’t bothered with the trappings of corporate hierarchy. . . 

Action groups following different paths – Sally Rae:

More than 900 farmers have signed up to the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network to help make their farming businesses more productive and profitable.

Each of the Action Groups involved chose a different pathway in the search for solutions to the challenges they faced.

Four action groups in the Milton and Lawrence districts had a lot in common, both in their origins and their goals.

They grew out of two large discussion groups of sheep and beef farmers running in these areas for several years before the RMPP programme kicked into action.

The common link between all four was Simon Glennie, a sheep, beef and deer farming consultant with AbacusBio. . . 

Fonterra’s new management team gives hope – Sudesh Kissun:

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is happy to see Fonterra back in the black.

He hopes that changes heralded by the new management team signal the start of “some green shoots” for the co-op.

“As a Fonterra farmer I am happy to see that they have posted a net profit and I am happy with some of the rhetoric from board and management about the consolidation of the business,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Support for biosecurity levy:

A big majority of 1794 submissions received by DairyNZ on the biosecurity response levy were supportive.

Sixty-one percent of submissions from farmers backed DairyNZ managing the levy on their behalf and raising the maximum cap to 3.9 cents/kgMS. That totalled 1088 supportive submissions and 706 against.

“We appreciated the candid conversations and the opportunity to discuss not just the proposed levy, but also DairyNZ more widely,” DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says in a letter to farmers. . . 

Win proves area’s wine can age well: manager:

Wild Earth Wines’ success at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards earlier this month proves Central Otago wines can age gracefully, marketing and sales manager Elbert Jolink says.

The boutique winery in Cromwell won the Best Pinot Noir trophy of the show during the formal awards dinner in Auckland on March 9.

Mount Pisa winery Ata Mara won both a gold medal and the Red Badge Security Champion Riesling trophy for its Central Otago 2018 Riesling. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2019

Farmers share tax reform fears but don’t back beneficiary bashing – Jennifer Eder:

Farmers say they are not worried about becoming the Government’s “ATMs” for beneficiary payments through tax reform, as a regional representative has claimed.

But they are anxious about proposed taxes and suspected Federated Farmers Marlborough president Phillip Neal was speaking out of frustration when he described beneficiaries as “useless”.

Neal made the comments in a newsletter earlier this month, saying a series of taxes proposed last month including a capital gains tax, emissions tax, water tax, and fertiliser tax were unfairly targeting farmers. . . 

Finding the balance between long and short term – Allan Barber:

Every business has to find an appropriate balance between long and short term planning and farming is no exception. But, given farmers are very capable of planning and implementing their annual farm strategy, the long term offers the greater challenge. Forward planning involves a high degree of risk assessment, because decisions must take into account several critical factors over which the farmer has little or no control.

Four obvious areas are government policy, climate effect, changing consumer attitudes and market access. A business can seek advice on all these from industry bodies, consultants, accountants, economists and lawyers, but in the end the buck stops with the farmer who must assess every factor which affects farm policy and performance without any certainty about the decisions being more right than wrong.  . . 

2019 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winner in the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aims to look after his people, pasture, cows and environment through sustainable best practices and increase profit through innovative business culture.

Ruwan Wijayasena was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Wigram Airforce Museum. The other major winners were Matt Redmond, who was named the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Nicola Blowey, the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Result of QEII National Trust 2019 Director elections:

Members of the QEII National Trust have elected Donna Field and Graham Mourie to serve as Directors on the QEII Board. Both candidates will serve a three-year term, effective immediately.

“We are pleased to welcome Donna Field back to the Board and Graham Mourie as a new director” said James Guild, Chairperson of QEII National Trust.

Donna Field has been re-elected to serve a second term on the Board. Her background includes resource management, director of Cleardale Station, a sheep and beef property in Rakaia Gorge and retiring chair of the Whitcombe Landcare group. . . 

Approval sought for new fungicide:

Public submissions have opened on an application to manufacture a fungicide in New Zealand for use in the control of a disease which affects wheat.

Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Ltd is seeking approval to manufacture GF-3308, for control of speckled leaf blotch (Septoria tritici) and also to suppress brown leaf rust (Puccinia triticina).

The applicant proposes that GF-3308 would be applied by ground-based and aerial broadcast spray methods. . . 

Good time to check plans for winter crops and grazing:

Winter grazing practices have improved over the past few years, but Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will continue to monitor livestock farms and their land use practices this winter.

Poor performers are now more in the minority says the Regional Council’s Central Catchment Manager, Brendan Powell.

“Many people aren’t aware that farmers are already well into their planning and operations ahead of winter, with winter crops in the ground and growing. The approach they take with their grazing management of crops and stock is an important part of good farming practices,” says Mr Powell. . . 


Rural round-up

March 27, 2019

Westland’s biggest shareholders sit on the fence over Yili offer:

Westland Milk’s biggest shareholders — investment fund Southern Pastures and the state-owned Landcorp — are biding their time over Yili’s takeover offer.

Hokitika-based Westland said this week that it had signed a conditional agreement for the sale of the co-op, which will see the Chinese dairy giant pay farmer-suppliers $3.41 a share.

Westland will seek shareholder approval for the proposed transaction at a special shareholder meeting, expected to be held in early July.

Southern Pastures, which has former All Black Graeme Mourie as one of its principals, owns 5.5 per cent of the co-op, which would be worth $13.6 million under the offer.  . . 

Nait a difficult beast but NZ ‘had no chance’ against M. bovis without it – Esther Taunton:

Cattle on 150 farms have been checked against national animal tracing records as part of efforts to wipe out the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis but just one property passed muster.

Dr Alix Barclay, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ intelligence manager for the M. bovis response, said only one property had achieved a 100 per cent match with its National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) account.

The disappointing result highlighted the importance of making changes to the system, Barclay said. . . 

Hayward family cultivate success in South Canterbury by seizing the day – Samesh Mohanlall:

Farming operations flourish on hard work, seizing the chances that come your way and having people that are trustworthy around, the family of a successful South Canterbury venture say. 

Geoff Hayward and his wife Joy, who own and lease 1700 hectares of land for their sheep, beef and cropping operation across the Timaru district, told about 50 visitors to their Mt Horrible farm from the Beef + Lamb annual meeting on Thursday, that the key to their expansion is taking opportunities that come their way. . . 

Pitching in to protect mudfish:

They may be tiny, slimy and reclusive, but the Canterbury mudfish are well worth protecting. 

Kōwaro, as they’re named in te reo Māori, are a treasured species for local iwi Ngāi Tahu and having more of them around helps protect other freshwater natives such as kōura (crayfish) and kākahi (mussels).

Unfortunately, they’re also rare and endangered. 

Fonterra is providing funding to Environment Canterbury to help them implement innovative technology in what is the first project of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. . . 

A2 names China CEO –  Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has appointed Li Xiao as chief executive of its greater China operations.

Li was previously president of the Kids Entertainment Division of Wanda Group, a Chinese multinational which owns the Hoyts cinema group. He starts in the A2 Milk role at the end of April, based in Shanghai, and will join A2’s senior leadership team. He will report to the firm’s Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Nathan and managing director Jayne Hrdlicka. . . 

Patience needed for Fonterra’s streamlining, says FNZC’s Dekker – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Farmers and investors will need to be patient with Fonterra Cooperative Group’s overhaul of its business, which sometime-critic First NZ Capital analyst Arie Dekker says is moving in the right direction.

The cooperative’s board is working through a review of the business which has seen several assets put on the market to help cut the milk processor’s debt levels, and has signalled more divestments are coming. . . 

Miscanthus – the magic plant:

In a Rural Delivery television programme last year Prof Steve Wratten of Lincoln University described Miscanthus as a “magic plant”. Although there was a degree of poetic licence in that statement, it is very understandable why he described Miscanthus in that way. But there are no magicians involved. Miscanthus is a truly remarkable plant that has so many advantages and options for commercial use that people who hear about it tend to think “This is too good to be true!”.

So they ignore it. The phenomenal success of Miscanthus therefore actually detracts from securing serious interest in both growing and using it. Contrary to people’s initial reaction, what seems like hype, is in fact true. . . 

It’s time to strengthen trespass laws:

Activist trespassers are making a joke of our legal system – carrying out brazen invasions of private farms and walking away with a slap on the wrist, only to reoffend. It’s time for governments to act.

In recent months we’ve witnessed a spate of farm invasions by activists who think their opinions place them above the law.

These farm intruders are entering private premises, often in the dead of night, often while streaming live on the internet – all just a stones’ throw from where farmers and their families are sleeping.

Police and the court system have proven powerless to help, with those caught walking away with fines equivalent to a parking ticket. . . 


Rural round-up

March 26, 2019

Last calves go under the hammer – Sally Rae:

It was dubbed The Last Hurrah.

Rural folk from throughout the Catlins and further afield gathered on Thursday for the last-ever Owaka calf sale.

As the stories and nostalgia flowed – many commenting on how long it could take in years gone by to get home from the sale – there was also a touch of sadness.

PGG Wrightson, which owns and operates the saleyards, is moving the sale from next year to a special sale day at the Balclutha saleyards. . .

Pilot ‘trees and carbon’ workshop proves popular – Sally Brooker:

A pilot project helping farmers make the most of the One Billion Trees Fund has generated a lot of interest.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a series of workshops in the central South Island this month called ”Farms, Trees and Carbon”.

Experts from Wairarapa forestry and marginal land use advisory and management company Woodnet presented an overview of global warming and New Zealand’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.

Then they discussed possibilities for plantings on attendees’ land. . . 

‘Serious pest’ affecting avocado trees discovered in Auckland

An avocado tree-loving beetle, regarded as a serious pest overseas, has been discovered in Auckland.

The wood-boring granulate ambrosia beetle has been detected in four Auckland areas since late February, according to Biosecurity New Zealand.

The beetle is known to feed on a wide range of broadleaf trees, including horticultural species such as avocado, and can spread fungal diseases. . . 

Primary sector attitudes give lessons for life – Bryan Gibson:

It has been a challenging week or so in New Zealand as we all try to make sense of the events in Christchurch on March 15. We’ve all been doing some soul-searching, wondering about the foundations of our society and how it will recover from this tragedy.

As an island nation at the bottom of the world many of us might have thought we were isolated from the hatred that we see in much of the world at the moment.

But we’d be wrong to think that. Our nation was formed through conflict and to this day we often express our fear of others through anger. It might help for rural communities and primary producers to reflect on our make-up. People of all nationalities work the land, grow the crops, pick the fruit and milk the cows. There’s only four million of us here but we produce enough to feed many more people so we’ve had to form partnerships with other nations to sell our great food internationally. . . 

Dairy dramas – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers face a strange mix of uncertainties when contemplating with satisfaction the likelihood of a fourth consecutive season of $6-plus milk prices.

While extreme volatility in dairy product prices has calmed down and New Zealand farmers now receive as good as others in Europe and the United States, their institutions have developed cracks.

There might be no better time to rebuild the foundation, beginning with the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, part 2019.

Last week Fonterra’s leaders promised for the third or fourth time since the embarrassment of their first financial loss in 2018 a fundamental strategy review. . . 

NZ Champion of Cheese Medals Announced:

NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019 has awarded 223 medals to locally-made cheese, proving the quality of New Zealand speciality cheese continues to improve.

Organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards has been run since 2003. The Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal winners have been announced today, with the Gold Medal winners vying for one of 26 cheese trophies, which will be announced in Hamilton in May. All the New Zealand Champion of Cheese medal winners are on the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/winners/. . .

Hawke’s Bay dairy farm opportunity on market:

A top-end Patoka dairy farm with consents in place to increase its output by 30 percent for at least the next 10-years has been placed on the market for sale. With Hawke’s Bay’s land values around half of some other districts, the returns from this property would likely be stronger than anywhere else.

Raumati Dairy some 41-kilometres north-west of Napier is a 458-hectare property milking a herd of between 730 – 750 cows, but with consent from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to stock up to 1000 cows through to 2028. It ticks all the environmental boxes too with riparian areas fenced off. A 60 bail rotary, 600 cow feed pad and all the bells and whistles make this a must view. . . 


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