Rural round-up

03/08/2021

Dairy labour shortage: ‘I’m doing 16 hours a day minimum’ – Carmen Hall:

Fonterra dairy farmers are expected to pump $12 billion into the New Zealand economy including $1b to the Bay of Plenty, but the industry is still short of up to 4000 workers.

That means some farmers are working more than 16 hours a day as calving began, which is ”unsustainable” and is sparking fears for their wellbeing.

A joint survey by Dairy NZ and Federated Farmers this year, which received 1150 responses, showed 49 per cent of farms at the time were short-staffed while another 46 per cent of those vacancies went unfilled for more than three months.

Ōpōtiki dairy farmer Zac Brown said he was ”struggling big time to find skilled workers” and he still had a farm manager’s job up for grabs. . . 

Drowning in effluent – how a tired farmer was nearly a dead farmer

Owen Gullery grabbed a last lungful of air as his tractor cab filled with effluent, before desperately trying to kick out a window as it sank.

That moment in an effluent pond is one Gullery says he’ll never forget, and yet the kind of potentially fatal farm accident new figures from ACC show have reached a five-year-high.

In 2020, there were 22,796 farm-related injury claims accepted which came at a cost of $84 million. That is over 60 farmers getting injured every day.

ACC has spent more than $383 million on farm related injuries in the past five years, with the cost in 2020 the highest from this period. . . 

More farmer trainers needed – David Anderson:

There appears to be no shortage of school leavers wanting a career in the sheep beef and deer industry, but rather a lack of training farms.

That’s the view of the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) chair John Jackson. He says five open days – recently held by the trust in Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Te Kuiti and Taihape – saw 38, 46, 29, 28 and 21 students turn-up at each venue, respectively. Jackson says there are more GFF open days planned for the South Island in mid-August at Winton, Omarama, North Canterbury and Blenheim.

“However, at this stage less than 20% of these students will get an opportunity because we have not an adequate number of training farms on which to place these students,” Jackson told Rural News.

“Our problem is not the inability to attract potential staff to the industry, but an inability to train the numbers we require.” . .

Dairy companies and volunteers dig deep to help restore waterways and bat colony – Lawrence Gullery:

David Jack surveys the rolling country over Rosebrae​ Farms and points to where the 200 hectare property borders the Pūniu River.

“That’s our southern boundary where the river is, it’s important because it’s one of the tributaries to the Waipā River, which later on flows into the Waikato River.”

Over the river is the King Country, Jack points out.

“Witi Ihimaera wrote a great book about the land wars and how the women and children had to get across the Pūniu to get into the King Country, where the troops couldn’t follow. . . 

Lamb prices high but size of fall concerns – Annette Scott:

Strong advances in farmgate lamb prices have seen a phenomenal turnaround with the AgriHQ lamb indicator hitting $9.05 a kilogram this week in the North Island and $8.80/kg in the South Island but there’s concern going forward.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says some early new season contracts indicate the schedule will drop below $8 in December.

She says pricing would typically strengthen further through to October with expectation that $9 or above will still be around in September but the drop from there on raises concern.

The latest contracts released from some processors look to settle at slightly above $7.50 pre-Christmas. . . 

MPI using delay techniques – David Anderson:

Bureaucratic obfuscation is being used to stall the provision information about the costs and achievements of the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) ‘Fit for a Better World’ strategy.

On June 16, Rural News sent MPI an Official Information Act (OIA) request seeking more information relating to Fit for a Better World. The request asked only five questions relating to meetings, minutes, costs and outcomes of the programme.

However, on July 14 – on the last day of the 20 working day timeframe when an OIA must be answered – MPI replied that it would not be able to answer within the mandated timeframe.

In a classic stalling move, which has become a common tactic used by government departments around OIA requests, MPI has extended the time it will provide any answers till, “no later than September 8, 2021”, which adds another 40 working days, makking it more than three times the mandated OIA response timeframe. . .

Latest Tasmanian irrigation scheme underway – Andrew Miller:

Tasmania’s latest irrigation scheme, on the Tamar River, is expected to cover about 200 properties, producing a diverse range of crops and livestock.

Tasmanian Irrigation has called for expressions of interest in the scheme and held public meetings, to explain how it will work.

Tamar Irrigation Scheme Irrigators Representative Council chair Ed Archer, Landfall Angus stud, said the diverse range of producers would present challenges.

“It’s really a unique scheme as there is such a variety of producers in this region, some broadacre grazing, right through to small, niche cottage type enterprises,” Mr Archer said. . .


Rural round-up

31/07/2021

‘Better off with M bovis’ – farmer relays concerns to O’Connor – Adam Burns:

I wouldn’t want to go through this again.”

This was the enduring feeling for dairy farmer Laurence Rooney who believes he would have been better off if his farm caught M. bovis after “taking a hit” for the Ashburton town during the May floods.

Laurence and Philippa Rooney received a fleeting visit from the Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday to his flood-ravaged Ashburton Forks property and are facing a long farming and financial road after losing half of its herd during the May 30-31 Canterbury floods.

Rooney said it was good to illustrate the scale of the impact to the Minister. . .

There’s no escape from climate change – and NZ should brace for the tariffs imposed by our trading partners to deal with it – Point of Order:

When a magazine as authoritative as The Economist  heads   up   its  lead  “No Safe Place” ,   even  climate  change  deniers  should  sit  up  and  take  notice.

The  Economist”  says  the  most terrible  thing   about the  spectacular scenes of  destruction that  have played out  around  the  world  over recent  weeks  is  that there  is  no  safe place  from  which  to  observe  them.

“The  ground under the German  town of Erftstadt is torn apart like tissue paper by flood  waters; Lytton in British Columbia  is  burned  from the map just a  day after setting  a freakishly  high temperature record; cars  float  like  dead fish  through the streets-turned-canals in  the Chinese  city  of Zhengzhou. All  the  world  feels  at risk,  and  most  of  it  is”.

NZ   had  its  own   headline:  “The  Buller River  recorded  largest NZ  flood  flows in  almost 100  years”. . . 

Commitment to biomass big in the south – Mary-Jo Tohill:

With this week’s announcement that the Fonterra Stirling plant would be converting to biomass energy, South Otago looks to be leading the way in showing a multimillion-dollar commitment to sustainability with many of the major manufacturing plants moving to wood-burning boilers or alternative energy sources. Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

Clydevale

Clydevale-based infant milk formula makers Danone Nutricia NZ expected to commission its $30 million biomass boiler in the last quarter of 2021, sustainability communication and stakeholder relations manager Helen de Laguiche said.

This was originally planned for August, but the project had faced delays because of Covid-19 restrictions in Oceania.

The South Otago wing of the French food company recently completed installation of the main equipment and a 75m long conveyor belt system. So far, more than 300 tonnes of building steel had been erected. . .

Sustainable agriculture finance guidance launched :

Rural bank finance will increasingly be guided by sustainability considerations including climate change mitigation and adaptation, water use, waste minimisation, labour rights and animal welfare following today’s launch of the Sustainable Agriculture Finance Initiative (SAFI) guidance.

ASB, ANZ, BNZ, Rabobank and Westpac, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) joined forces in early 2020 to develop the SAFI guidance, to improve the flow of sustainable finance to New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

The SAFI guidance is intended to support a framework, from the finance sector, for integrating sustainability considerations into funding for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. . .

Carbon farming steps forward on the North Island hard hill country – Keith Woodford:

In recent months I have been analysing New Zealand sheep and beef farming to try and understand the changing scene. Here, I shift the focus to carbon farming on the North Island hard-hill country where sheep and beef currently predominate.

In this article I am not looking at lumber because much of the hard-hill country has lumber problems arising from logging costs and associated infrastructure. Rather, I am focusing on permanent pine forests and asking whether the economics now stack up.

In telling this story I am going to be challenged by some people who hate pine trees and also by others who love them but have a focus on lumber. Here, I am not taking sides on either of those issues. My approach is simply to report what the carbon numbers are saying. . . 

Acting the goat comes naturally to Ralph – Sally Rae:

This is the story of Ralph the goat.

Ralph is no ordinary goat. He resides on a farm near Weston, in North Otago, where he lives the proverbial life of Riley.

His life could have been so very different — in fact, his name could well be Lucky — given he was spotted during a goat culling trip.

His story begins in June last year, in Central Otago, where feral goats were common pests. . .

Kiwi avocado company wins internationally acclaimed award:

Te Puna-based avocado oil producer, Grove, has been granted the Superior Taste Award with two stars for its Extra Virgin Avocado Oil by the prestigious International Taste Institute in Brussels, Belgium.

The jury of the International Taste Institute, composed of over 200 of the world’s best chefs and sommeliers, gather every year to flavour test, evaluate and certify the taste of food and drinks from around the world. The jury follows a rigorous blind-tasting methodology in which product samples are anonymised to avoid any scoring biases.

Greg Ryan, Grove’s Business Development Manager, says that the award announcement has highlighted the quality of their avocado oil and created a buzz within the business. . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


Rural round-up

21/07/2021

Good protest farmers – now let’s make progress – Daniel Eb:

Well done farmers. Friday’s protest was well-organised and dignified. We got the message. You are under pressure and feel side-lined. You are being told how to farm by Wellington bureaucrats trying to legislate the way to a greener future.

It’s a future you want too – clean rivers, vibrant communities, thriving biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaption. For many of you, this journey started years ago. From the 4,700 native bush blocks quietly regenerating under covenant, to catchment groups taking responsibility for their waterways and the sector emissions reduction plan He Waka Eke Noa – farmer-led progress is happening.

It is also true that farming must carry a hefty weight when it comes to our green transition. But this is a call-to-action for all of us, so when will townies feel the pinch too? . . .

Farmers assessing devastating floods, resilience alarms raised :

Farmers across the upper South Island are on clean-up duty and counting up the costs as damaging floodwaters recede, and the agriculture minister has reminded farmers to take a thorough look at resilience in the face of climate change.

The weekend’s storm forced hundreds to evacuate, caused widespread damage to infrastructure including roads and bridges, and devastated farms in Buller, West Coast, Nelson, Tasman, and Marlborough – as well as causing more sporadic damage in surrounding regions.

The downpours brought Marlborough’s largest floods on record.

Federated Farmers Marlborough president Scott Adams said more than 300mm had fallen on his sheep farm near the Wairau River in 48 hours, and parts were devastated. . . 

Farmer forced to carry sheep through flood waters to safety

A Marlborough farmer who had to swim sheep to safety on Saturday says the flood waters were far worse than a record-breaking event 40 years ago.

Matt Forlong’s family vineyard is just west of Wairau Valley township and during winter they run sheep under the vines.

Simply getting to the property meant chainsawing fallen trees off the road so he arrived later than hoped, he said.

Water was already a metre deep and rising to shoulder depth so 200 sheep were stranded on quickly shrinking islands. . .

Farmer feedback set to shape revised capital structure proposal :

With the first phase of Fonterra’s capital structure consultation now complete, the Co-op is drawing up a revised proposal that aims to reflect farmers’ views.

A number of changes are being considered to the preferred option initially put forward in the Consultation Booklet in May – including adjusting the proposed minimum shareholding requirement for farmers and enabling sharemilkers and contract milkers to own shares.

“It’s a good time for the Board to step back and reflect on the feedback as most farmers will now be busy with calving. Once they’ve come through this particularly busy time of the season, we’ll be ready to consult on the updated proposal,” says Chairman Peter McBride.

Consultation has been extensive to date, starting with the initial communication on 6 May and the Consultation Booklet being sent to every farmer owner. Since then:  . .

McBride puts his stamp on Fonterra’s capital restructuring proposals:

The big  dairy  co-op  Fonterra  has  moved to make  its  capital  restructuring  proposals  more  palatable  to  its  10,000  farmer-shareholders as  it  seeks to  slash  the  drastic entry  cost  to  become a  new  supplier.

Faced  with  a  future where  total milk production  is  flattening, Fonterra  needs    more  flexibility in    its  capital rules, the  most  burdensome of which has been the compulsory requirement to invest huge sums of capital just to supply.

The  revisions now   being  put  forward bear   the  stamp   of  chairman Peter  McBride, who  in an earlier role  successfully carried  the  kiwifruit  growers in   Zespri through   a  similar  capital  restructure.

McBride, after  taking  the chair at  Fonterra,  soon realised  the need for  change in the one-size-fits-all compulsory capital structure  requiring all shareholders to hold shares on a 1:1 basis. It  has become a  key factor in farmers deciding to leave. . .

10,000 cattle culled every year due to bTB, NFU Cymru warns :

Welsh farmers have called for more action as 10,000 cattle in the prime of their productive lives continue to be culled every year due to bovine TB.

Farmers are playing their part in combatting the disease through cattle-based measures, however wildlife reservoirs of disease are still going unaddressed, farmers say.

It comes as the BBC recently published a news article which highlighted the emotional strain that bovine TB is causing producers in the country.

In the article, Vale of Glamorgan farmer Abi Reader explained that her farm had been locked down with TB for three years. . . 


Rural round-up

15/07/2021

Howl of a protest on the way – Sally Rae:

“Farming could be a joy but really it’s a bloody nightmare.”

Jim Macdonald has been farming Mt Gowrie Station, at Clarks Junction, since 1970 and he has worked through difficult times.

What farmers were battling now had been “created by a government that does not understand and does not even want to understand,” he said.

On Friday, Mr Macdonald will take part in Howl of a Protest, a New Zealand-wide Groundswell NZ-organised event to show support for farmers and growers. . .

National MPs Out In Strong Support Of Farmers :

This Friday rural communities up and down New Zealand will stage a protest at the overbearing government interference in their businesses and lives, and National MPs will be right there supporting them, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

The protests are organised by Groundswell, a community based group formed as a result of the unworkable Freshwater reforms in Southland. It has expanded nationwide and the recent Ute Tax announcement has seen urban communities become involved as well.

“Our rural communities worked hard to get New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic, they are the backbone of our economy,” Mr Bennett says. . .

Concern over calving season amid labour shortage – Neal Wallace:

They may have had one of their highest ever milk payouts but dairy farmers are anxious about the human toll of the looming calving season, as the industry grapples with an estimated shortage of 4000 workers.

Federated Farmers board member Chris Lewis says the industry’s reliance on immigrant workers will remain, at least until the Government changes to vocational training is completed, which could be several years.

He believes the Government’s recently announced plans to curb migrant workers is shortsighted and will hinder the country’s ability to utilise high international product prices and demand to repay debt, which is growing at over $80 million a day. . .

NZ has reached ‘peak milk’ Fonterra CFO warns – Farrah Hancock:

We’ve reached “peak milk” and are entering the era of “flat milk”, Fonterra’s chief financial officer warns.

Marc Rivers said he couldn’t see the volume of milk New Zealand produces increasing again, “so, I guess we could go ahead and call that peak milk”.

Environmental restrictions were impacting how much more land the dairy industry could occupy.

“We don’t see any more land conversions going into dairy – that’s quite a change from before,” he said. . . 

Vets may choose Oz over NZ – Jesica Marshall:

Border restrictions are putting a roadblock in the way of getting more veterinarians to New Zealand and some are even choosing to go to Australia instead, a recruitment consultant says.

Julie South, talent acquisition consultant with VetStaff, told Rural News that while many overseas vets are keen to work in New Zealand, some don’t mind where they end up.

She says prior to the Government’s announcement that 50 vets would be granted border class exceptions, she’d been working with vets who were considering both Australia and New Zealand as potential places to work in. “However, because the Australian government made it super-easy for them to work in Australia, that’s where they opted to go,” she says. . . 

Farmers facing six-figure losses as salmonella-entertidis wrecks poultry industry:

The poultry industry is in a state of shock and companies are facing huge financial hits following the detection of Salmonella Enteritidis.

Poultry Industry Association and the Egg Producers Federation executive director Michael Brooks said it had been detected in three flocks of meat chickens and on three egg farms in the North Island with some linked to a hatchery in the Auckland area.

None of the affected eggs or meat had entered the market for human consumption, but it was a blow to the industry, he said.

“We’ve never had Salmonella Enteritidis before in this country in our poultry industry. This has been a real shock to the industry but we are meeting the concerns and we will be putting place through a mandated government scheme – which we agree with – to ensure testing is of the highest level and consumers are protected.” . . 

New Zealand tractor and equipment sales continue to grow:

The first half of 2021 has got off to a superb start for sales of farm equipment.

Tractor and Machinery Association of New Zealand (TAMA) president Kyle Baxter said there had been substantial sales increases across all tractor horsepower segments and equipment compared with the same time last year.

Mr Baxter said the big increases reflected a continuing catch up in on-farm vehicle investment as farmers looked again to the future.

“It’s fantastic to see the confidence continue across all of the sectors, and in turn this confidence flowing into wider economy. . .


Rural round-up

06/07/2021

Farmers to make some noise throughout New Zealand – Shawn McAvinue:

Downtown Gore is set to come alive with the sound of chugging tractors, buzzing planes and howling dogs as part of a nationwide protest against government regulations.

Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, is inviting everyone to take their tractors, utes, topdressing planes and dogs to towns across New Zealand at noon next Friday to protest a range of new and proposed regulations.

The regulations included freshwater and winter grazing, significant natural areas, indigenous biodiversity and the “ute tax” — a new rebate scheme, which would place a fee on higher-emission vehicles, he said.

Events had so far been arranged in about 20 towns across New Zealand, including Alexandra, Gore, Invercargill, Mosgiel and Oamaru, and the northernmost protest site was Kerikeri. . . 

First time competitor wins Young Farmer competition :

Jake Jarman has been crowned FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2021, winning the competition on his first attempt.

Jarman, 24, beat six other competitors in the grand final, which was held in Christchurch from July 1-3.

The ANZ relationship associate, who represented the Taranaki-Manawatū region, said after winning the title he felt overwhelmed, excited and relieved that it was over.

He initially entered the contest just to give it a go but after reaching the final was determined to give it his best shot. . . 

Global dairy price pushing up price of cheese:

Fonterra says sustained increases in global dairy prices are behind the higher cost of cheese.

A 1kg block of Tasty cheese is now selling for between $16 and $18 at the main supermarket chains.

Fonterra said since the pandemic, there had been a significant increase in demand for cheese in New Zealand and globally.

It said global cheese prices have jumped 15 percent over the last year. . .

Top award for farmers’ saviour – Samantha Tennent:

Clever Kiwis have come up with brilliant solutions to simple problems faced by the agricultural industry for this year’s Fieldays Innovations Awards.

Farmers have always faced water supply issues, not least from cows who have always been too rough with trough ballcocks, snapping arms left, right and centre as they nudge them around while drinking.

And as Ric Awburn watched cows at an empty trough break an arm one evening, he thought it needed some give to withstand the rough treatment, so he put his thinking cap on and went to work.

Two years later, Springarm Products Limited developed a durable and reliable ballcock arm that is durable, reliable and easy to install. It was named the winner of the Prototype award at the 2021 Fieldays Innovations Awards. . . 

First-time beekeeper buzzing with enthusiasm – Sally Rae:

A South American forestry engineer, who inadvertently ended up in Central Otago, has been stung with the beekeeping bug. He talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae.

He quips he is “a sea-level guy”.

So just how did Rio de Janeiro-apartment dweller Adriano Lopes de Melo trade big-city Brazilian life for the mountain vistas of the Maniototo and the arguably quieter pace of life in Wedderburn?

Reflecting on this week’s cold snap, which he laughed was “not OK” — “I’m from a hot place, I’m suffering a bit” — and his discovery of hot-water bottles, as his surfboard sat optimistically redundant in his vehicle, you would have to wonder. . . 

Outrage as ‘flick of a pen’ cuts backpacker workforce for farmers – Jamieson Murphy:

Farming groups are outraged the “flick of a pen” has drastically reduced the seasonal workforce in northern and remote Australia, after the working holiday visa rules were changed “without consultation”.

However, the government says the ag sector – along with the tourism and hospitality industries – were widely consulted and the change is a recommendation made by a parliamentary committee investigation into the Working Holiday Visa Program.

The requirement for backpackers to extend their stay by completing 88 days of farm work has been opened up to include the tourism and hospitality sectors in northern and remote Australia. . . 


Rural round-up

04/07/2021

Former homeless men pay it forward to flood hit Canterbury farmers – Nadine Porter:

They were once homeless and in need of a helping hand, so when flood-affected farmers asked for assistance six men living in Christchurch City Mission’s transitional housing were amongst the first to step up.

Working to help clear fences on Chris Allen’s debris-laden farm at Ashburton Forks, the men were inspired by a nationwide scheme that had supplied them with meat direct from New Zealand’s farms.

Meat the Need launched during the Covid-19 lockdown to supply much-needed mince to city missions and foodbanks.

Donated by farmers, the meat is processed, packed and delivered to those most in need. . .

Halal butcher shortage could cost NZ billions – industry chief – Sally Murphy:

The meat processing industry says a shortage of halal butchers could see billions of dollars of export earnings lost.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva made the comments in a submission to the Primary Production Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the future workforce needs of the primary industries.

This year the industry was short about 2000 workers both skilled and unskilled, she said.

“The industry needs about 250 halal butchers each season.” . .

Federated Farmers calls for support to get rates rise reviewed – Chris Dillon:

When times get tough, we all have to tighten our belts right? Unless, you’re Environment Southland it seems.

In fact, councillors have just voted to do the complete opposite, passing a 20 per cent rates increase.

Federated Farmers submission questioned the need for a substantial rates hike, called the council out for lack of detail in consultation documents, and provided alternative solutions to avoid the huge rise.

Ignoring that and the fact that only 10 of the 52 submissions received supported the 20 per cent increase, the majority of councillors voted for it. . .

Farm 4 Life givensupreme honour at KUMA Māori Business Awards:

Trailblazing Kiwi ‘edutainment’ business Farm 4 Life was announced the kaitiaki or guardian of the top 2021 Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru (KUMA) Māori Business Award last night.

Farm 4 Life, an online learning platform that delivers on-demand education for the dairy industry and owned and founded by Māori farming identity Tangaroa Walker, became the seventh recipient of the Suzanne Spencer Tohu Maumahara Business Award at the KUMA Māori Business Awards. The judges based their decision on the impact Tangaroa was having on his local community using his experience and farming skills to support young people in particular, and the meteoric growth of his online community that puts Southland farming in the spotlight.

KUMA board member and judge Karen Roos (Te Puni Kōkiri) says Tangaroa’s personality and joy in being in front of the camera was an obvious entertainment factor, but particularly that “his life story, his dedication to being on the land, and his manaaki towards others” were significant factors in being honoured on Friday night. “Tangaroa is a strong role model in the community and especially for our rangatahi.” . . .

Operation cheese lollipops a most unusual snack – Michael Andrew:

Eager to discover Fonterra’s milky secrets, Michael Andrew infiltrated the dairy giant’s restricted R&D facility under the guise of a respectable journalist. The mission? Sample the cheese lollipops.

When most New Zealanders think of Fonterra they think of milk – thousands and thousands of tonnes of milk sloshing around in tankers on their way to supermarkets, dairies and cafes across New Zealand every day. They don’t necessarily think about gut-health probiotics being made from billions of strains of bacteria or high protein liquid superfoods being engineered for the convalescing or the elderly.

And why would they? Much of that stuff is being developed behind closed doors at Fonterra’s research and development complex in Palmerston North. But on the day the dairy giant opened its facility to the media for the first time, it wasn’t the probiotics I was most interested in. Nor was it the superfoods. It was the cheese lollipops . .

St Joseph’s Primary Quarry Hills create Bessie for Picasso Cows programme – Alex Gretgrix:

Students at St Joseph’s Primary in Quarry Hill in Bendigo were in the mood for painting during their latest study unit this term.

Over the past few months, prep, grade one and two students learnt all there is to know about dairy farming while designing their new bright bovine as part of Dairy Australia’s Picasso Cows program.

“We wanted our students to learn all about farming life while also honing in on their creative skills and I think they’ve really loved it,” P/1/2 teacher Nathan Walsh said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

29/06/2021

At last – a paper that recognises climate and nutrition, with GWP* thrown in too – Andrew Hoggard:

Very recently a scientific paper was put out looking at the greenhouse gas and nutritional impacts of replacing meat in the average diet. The paper Lifetime Climate Impacts of Diet Transitions, with input from a number of very well respected scientists across a range of fields, found that the emissions reductions for a person who abstained from meat for a lifetime were very small – only 2 to 4%.  It also highlighted the risk of them missing out on key nutrients.  

It wasn’t so much the findings of this paper that I am most interested or excited by, rather the methodology that went into it. Two items really stick out: firstly, the fact that the paper includes nutrition understanding as well as climate science. Far too often when the subject of agricultural emissions come up, the full picture/understanding is omitted in favour of a narrow, siloed view.  

The problem with this approach is that it fails to recognise choices are never as simple as portrayed. For example, if we get rid of all animal agriculture and only have plant-based ag, what happens to all the crop waste? Think of the most common plants we grow for food: how much of that plant is consumed by humans? Quite often, less than half.  The rest we can feed to animals, which convert it into edible protein.  . . 

‘Shearing sheep was in my blood’ – David Hill:

An eight-month student exchange was enough to convince Diane Webster that New Zealand was the place to be.

The Dunsandel-based shearing contractor first visited New Zealand from the United Kingdom on a student exchange in the 1980s.

“I had always been in sheep farming. My dad was a sheep farmer and a stock truck driver and he used to shear sheep in the summertime, so shearing sheep was in my blood.”

She learned to shear while at agricultural college in the UK and when she first came to New Zealand, the host farmer encouraged her to do a shearing course so she could shear in this country, too. . . 

Hospo  life quite a ride – Ashley Smyth:

Hospo life seems to sit well with former Manuwatu farmers Craig and Blanche Sturgess.

It has been a “learning curve” for the couple, who bought the former Enfield School in 2016, converting the classrooms into a welcoming home, with bed and breakfast accommodation.

“We came from farming, which is not an easy lifestyle, so we’ve never been afraid of work, that’s for sure. And that’s just as well, because it is undoubtedly more work than I had thought it would be, but certainly not more work than we can handle,” Mr Sturgess said.

The business was perfectly placed on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. Visitors tended to stop off after the long cycle from Kurow, and before the last push to Oamaru the next day. . . 

Husky health, dogsled tours and frostbite checking central to vet student’s win – Lauren Hale:

Working 12+ hour shifts outdoors in bitter Northern winter temperatures of minus 45 degrees, would send most school leavers shuddering under their duvets, but not Agcarm’s most recent scholarship winner, Gemma Neve.  The Massey University student, originally from Australia’s iconic Bondi beach, not only embraced the challenge of working with huskies in Finland but thrived on it.  Realising “an obsession with the North and the Northern Lights”, she secured a winter job-stay at a husky farm in Lapland. “Within a week, run ragged by long days with no sunlight, feeding 250 dogs, running dog teams and constantly wiggling my toes to slow the frostbite down,” she says she knew she was staying.

The dogs and the wilderness captivated Gemma and her initial three-month stint at Hetta Huskies kennel farm turned into five years – braving every winter there. Initially employed as a dog handler, Gemma soon progressed to guiding dogsled tours and being responsible for clients and dogs in her sole care for up to five days. “I enjoyed introducing people from all over the world to the wilderness. It was a lot of responsibility. You would go from one hut to the next, with all the gear.” She spent some summers travelling, including two stints working for a New Zealand sled dog company in the Cardrona Valley.

Taking on the challenge of managing the health, welfare and nutrition of 250 sled dogs in her second year at the kennel, located in the far north of Finland – high in the Arctic Circle, Gemma started running and documenting health checks. Part of her role included checking nipples and testicles for frostbite, assessing the dogs’ nutritional needs and ensuring they were in optimal health. . .

Fonterra agrees sale of China JV farms:

Fonterra has agreed the sale of its two joint venture farms in China, with the sale expected to be completed on 30 June.

The farms in Shandong province will be sold to Singapore-based AustAsia Investment Holdings for USD 115.5 million.

Fonterra, which owns the farms with a joint venture partner, has a 51% stake in the business and will receive NZD 88 million* in total asset sale proceeds, which includes cash on completion.

The sale of the JV farms is unconditional and requires no further regulatory approvals. . .

“Maverick” farm advisors with smart ideas invited to apply for research funding:

Do you have an innovative idea that could create real change for Kiwi farmers? Rural professionals are encouraged to team up with farmers to apply for $75,000 funding to rapidly test smart ideas and share the results.

Rural professionals are invited to team up with farmers to apply for funding to test innovative ideas that could lead to significant improvements in farming systems.

The Rural Professionals Fund, established in 2020 by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, is now accepting applications for a second round of funding to support projects that could benefit farming communities.

“We need to encourage more ‘mavericks’ to test smart ideas that challenge our patterns of behaviour,” says Stephen Macaulay, chief executive of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Managers (NZIPIM), a key partner in the fund. . . 


Rural round-up

11/06/2021

West Coast mayors call for halt to all SNA work in wake of Far North protests – Lois Williams:

West Coast mayors are calling for a halt to identifying significant natural areas (SNAs) on private land, after suggestions that the process could be paused in the Far North.

An item on TV One news on Friday night cited a leaked e-mail from the office of Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, indicating that councils which had not already mapped SNAs could hold off until the relevant government policy was finalised later this year.

As recently as 31 May, James Shaw’s office told the Greymouth Star in response to a query that there would be no ‘outs’ for councils when it came to identifying SNAs in their districts.

Since then, there have been strong protests from Māori landowners in the Far North who had received council letters alerting them to potential SNAs on their land. . . 

Can we produce high natural value? Conservation and livestock farming co-existing Prof Iain Gordon – Sarah’s Country:

In this week’s Sarah’s Country’s Opinion Maker we break-down the concept of ‘rewilding’ in a New Zealand concept and the value-add product opportunity with Prof. Iain Gordon, Lincoln University & Australian National University. Iain explains:

  • In Southern Europe, desertification of the land saw farming not financially viable and the farmers moved to the cities. Then there was a build up of biomass, vegetation and large wildfires broke out so the government is paying for farmers to go back and manage the land through grazing livestock!

  • If rewilding approach is adopted, then larger areas can be given over to conservation, because of the potential broader benefits to society from these spaces and the engagement of farmers in practises that are closer to their traditions.

  • In the UK rewilding or conservation grazing is seen as ‘public good’ and good environmental management commanding a premium in restaurants. . .

Orchardist to enjoy weekend sleep-ins – Sally Rae:

Wes Reichel will be entitled to a sleep-in this weekend.

For more than 18 years, Mr Reichel (73) has left his bed at 3.30am on a Saturday, had a coffee and climbed into his produce-laden vehicle and headed to the Otago Farmers Market in Dunedin.

But this past Saturday marked the end of an era, as the Teviot Valley orchardist retired from the market.

While he would continue to grow fruit and vegetables at Te Mahanga Orchard, south of Ettrick, which has been in his family since 1919, he rued he was ‘‘getting too bloody old’’ to continue travelling to Dunedin. . .

Growing professionalism driving awareness of health and safety in shearing industry:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Industry campaigns and growing professionalism are driving awareness of health and safety among shearers,” says national FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalist Joseph Watts. Yet, he still sees plenty of room for improvement.

Joseph, from Waipukurau, will represent East Coast in the national competition. He began his rural career as a shearer, having completed a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise degree and then played squash professionally for several years.

He went on to gain a Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies from Massey University and is now a Technical Field Representative for PGG Wrightson as well as farming some beef cattle on a 30 acre site at Waipukurau, with his partner, vet Lucy Dowsett. . . 

The Co-operative spirit helps Temuka farmer:

When Temuka-based farmer Hamish Pearse suffered a devastating fire in his milking shed in February he witnessed first-hand the benefits of the co-operative spirit of his neighbours, friends and Fonterra.

The fire was discovered around eight o’clock at night and also burnt through the adjoining office and wash room.

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.”

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.” . . 

NZ Apples and Pears chief executive to step down:

NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) chairman, Richard Punter, has announced that the organisation’s chief executive Alan Pollard will step down from his role later this year.

Pollard has been in his role for just over nine years. The industry realised about $340m in export earnings when he started as chief executive in March 2012, and about $920m last year, close to the $1billion by 2022 target that was set in 2013.

“As NZAPI defines what business as usual might look like post-COVID, Alan feels that this is the right time for a new leader to bring their own skills, experience and style to the organisation”, Punter said. “We are deeply appreciative of the contribution that Alan has made to the successful growth of the industry and the grower organisation”. . .


Rural round-up

03/06/2021

The climate-change dilemma facing dairy farmers – milk more cows or cull the herd – is politically challenging, too – Point of Order:

From one Wellington  platform  Reserve  Bank governor Adrian  Orr is  telling  the  country   strong global demand for NZ primary products is ensuring the economy remains resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic and is helping offset tourism losses. He  says  Fonterra’s  forecast  of a  record opening milk price is “very good news” and is included in the bank’s projections.

From another platform, Climate Change Commissioner Rod Carr told hundreds of people – including farmers – at an agricultural climate change conference that for the agricultural sector there would be no way to wriggle out of slashing emissions.

Carr said agriculture made up about half of NZ’s emissions, and this needed to be reduced to meet climate obligations.International customers would go elsewhere, costing the economy billions of dollars in the coming years.

So  here’s  the  problem: . . 

Time for industry to be heard, leader says – Sally Rae:

“Maybe enough is enough.”

Otago Merino Association chairwoman Jayne Reed, from Cloudy Peak Station, near Tarras, was referring to the never-before-seen pressures the agricultural sector was facing, in her address to the annual merino awards.

“Not the usual seasonal weather worries, commodity price fluctuations and the odd flustering visit from the bank manager, which our fathers dealt with, but an increasingly scary onslaught of bureaucratic intervention … written in some cases by young idealistic policy makers who have never stepped on a farm.

“Our urban neighbours are telling us how to manage our outcomes without any real understanding of what 99% of us are working towards and this is the really disappointing part. . . 

Rural leaders plead to NZTA for second Ashburton bridge plans – Adam Burns:

Damaging floods in Ashburton have sparked calls for urgency around a second bridge by the district’s rural leaders, with the town’s sole overpass at risk.

The Ashburton River Bridge had to be closed for most of yesterday after reports of slumping. It has reopened to light vehicles only, but further testing for heavy vehicles is expected later.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not be drawn on questions around the second bridge issue when she fronted media in Ashburton yesterday.

“The priority right now is connecting people with Ashburton,” Ardern said. . . 

Perriam’s vision for breed recognised with family award – Sally Rae:

John Perriam is a man of vision, risk and “you can do it” approach.

Through his love for merino sheep and his home, Bendigo Station, he had “given it his all” and made a significant difference to the New Zealand merino industry.

That was his daughter Christina Grant reflecting on the pivotal role her father has played in the industry, during the Otago Merino Association’s awards evening.

She was presenting him with the Heather Perriam Memorial Trophy, named in memory of his late wife and her mother, and presented for outstanding service to the merino industry. . . 

Synlait braces for heavy loss – Sudesh Kissun:

Listed Canterbury milk processor Synlait is heading towards its first financial loss ever, but is telling its farmer suppliers not to worry.

The company revealed last week that it now expects to make a net loss of between $20 million and $30 million for the financial year ending this July. Last year, Synlait recorded a net profit of $75 million.

The milk processor has had a challenging 18 months. Key stakeholder, and one of its major customers, the a2 Milk company downgraded its forecasts because of disrupted markets and problems with its key Chinese market – leaving Synlait with large inventories of base powder and infant formula.

Synlait co-founder John Penno has returned to his former role of chief executive and is leading a reset of the business. . .

Are we running out of New Zealand wine? :

New Zealand winegrowers are becoming increasingly concerned about running out of wine after a smaller harvest than usual this year. The famous wine-growing region of Marlborough was especially hard hit by this issue. As an area famous for its excellent quality wine – particularly sauvignon blanc – that gets supplied across the country as well as internationally, this lack of grapes could potentially be disastrous for the wine industry as a whole.

Last year, spring was cooler than usual, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

Additionally, the New Zealand wine industry usually relies on the influx of seasonal workers on working holidays who are ready and willing to help with the harvest. With Covid closing the borders, these people have not been able to enter the country in the past year. Attracting New Zealanders into these roles has proved far trickier for many growers, especially those in more rural areas. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/06/2021

‘You’ve just gotta tough it out’: Heavy rain, flooding challenges high country farmers – Lee Kenny:

Parts of Mid-Canterbury remain completely cut off, but the job of managing huge rural stations continues. LEE KENNY reports.

Graham Jones has worked at Arrowsmith Station for 11 years and says he’s never seen conditions as bad as this.

“I’ve seen big snows, a lot of water up here. It’s very hard farming up here, but you’ve just gotta tough it out.”

“This wet weather’s just made it harder.” . . 

Crop farmer counts high cost of rain – Matthew Littlewood:

Timaru farmer Graham Talbot fears many of his recently sown crops have been “drowned out” by the recent heavy rain.

“There’s just so much rain in the system that the farm is completely waterlogged,” Talbot said.

The Claremont farmer, estimated about 30 hectares of his 600ha farm would have been “completely submerged”.

“That’s probably going to cost us a good $70,000 for that alone when it comes to resowing and repair costs. . . 

Flood-affected farmers urged to seek support:

DairyNZ is encouraging Canterbury farmers to look out for each other and access support agencies for assistance amid flooding in the region.

“We have seen farmers working well together and supporting their neighbours through this weather event – it’s always encouraging to see farmers and rural communities working together in times of need,” said DairyNZ head of the South Island, Tony Finch.

“Good advance warning did enable many farmers to be prepared but we are working closely to monitor the situation and encourage farmers to keep farm teams and neighbours safe.”

With Moving Day currently also underway, many Canterbury farmers are attempting to shift properties and livestock.

Funding boost for flood-stricken farmers and growers :

A state of emergency has been declared for the flood-stricken Canterbury region, as farmers begin the clean-up after devastating heavy rain.

From Friday to Monday morning, a massive 545mm of rain was recorded at Mt Somers in the Canterbury high country, MetService said, while the main centres of Christchurch (110mm), Ashburton (155mm), and Timaru (105mm) – were inundated over the same period.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today declared an adverse event for the Canterbury region, unlocking government support for farmers and growers.

“My decision to classify this as a medium-scale adverse event ensures funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures,” Mr O’Connor said during his visit to Canterbury with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers today. . .

Whatever it takes – Tony Benny:

An immigrant from Argentina never expected dairy farming would be a mind-blowing yet rewarding career.

Sitting at home in Argentina, Maria Alvarez hit the refresh button on her computer several times before she reached the most important screen of all – payment. At that moment she knew had made it through the process, and would soon be winging her way across the ocean to New Zealand.

Maria grew up on a beef farm in Argentina and graduated from university with a Bachelor of Agricultural Engineering. She worked for a large crop farming company before coming to NZ on a working holiday, having been lucky to secure one of the 1000 working holiday visas granted to Argentinians each year.

“At 7am NZ time on a certain date, they open the visa application and everybody’s sitting at home in front of their computer. You have to refresh and refresh because the system sort of collapses with so many people trying and then if you make it through to the payment, you make it,” Maria says. . .

Zespri lifts profit to $290.5m after selling $3.5bn of kiwifruit but is running into headwinds – Point of Order:

Like  the  dairy  industry’s  Fonterra, the  kiwifruit  industry’s  giant  Zespri  has  had  a  golden  year.  It  has  reported  record returns  for 2020-21, with  a  net  profit  of  $290.5m (up $90m  from the  previous  year)   after  achieving total fruit  sales revenue  of  $3.5bn  (up 14%).

It  further highlights the strength of NZ’s rural  economy during  a  period  when the  Covid-19 pandemic  underlined the  fragility of  global  trade.

Zespri’s  global sale volumes were up 10% on last season to 181.5m trays.

The company said increased sales, the ongoing expansion of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit production and great quality fruit lay behind the strong returns. . . 

Stud properties a valuable part of farm landscape:

The business of cattle breeding in New Zealand is one rich with history and talent, and while remaining highly competitive, the stud breeding sector is also playing a vital role in helping New Zealand beef also remain competitive and sustainable on a world stage.

Collectively the breed societies that stud breeders belong to have also done much to recognise advances in science, taking the process of selecting animals to a deeper level than simply past dam performance and “gut feel.”

Advances in science mean breeders can now call on genomics to identify some of the preferred traits that determine productivity before sire stock even reach maturity.

The passion and commitment breeders bring to their respective animal breeds has meant New Zealand farmers have been blessed with genetics that often reflect the farming environment of a particular region, or even district. . . 


Rural round-up

28/05/2021

Trade with China – May 2021 – Elbow Deep:

As a dairy farmer, whenever I am asked what I think is the greatest risk to farming in the foreseeable future I invariably and only half-jokingly reply that it is politicians. I wasn’t laughing recently, however, when Brook van Velden, the ACT party’s foreign affairs spokesperson, submitted a motion to Parliament asking MPs to declare China’s treatment of the Uyghur people a genocide. She had the full backing of her leader, David Seymour, who boldly exclaimed “We shouldn’t care about trade and declare a genocide in China”.

This somewhat idealistic proposition came hard on the heels of the Labour Government being criticized by their Five Eyes partners for being too cosy with China. Five Eyes, an intelligence gathering and sharing arrangement between the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, has in recent times tried to expand its remit into other areas of policy. These policy statements are invariably some kind of criticism of China, but New Zealand has annoyed its Five Eyes partners by charting their own course and not signing on to these statements.  . . .

Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods – Point of Order:

Farmers    who  believed   Labour  when it  said  it wanted  to  double  agricultural  exports may have experienced  a  sense  of  disillusion as  they  absorbed the  messages  of  Budget 2021.  While  the  government  is  allocating $1.3bn to modernise rail infrastructure and  build locos  and  wagons in Dunedin,  it  could find  only  $62m  for  agriculture.

Someone  has  calculated  that  the country’s 40,000 farm businesses, if they shared the $62m, would each receive $1550 or $29 a week (less than the ongoing minimum benefit increase).

This  comparatively meagre  sum   is  to be  applied as  follows: . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers win deer environmental award :

The winners of the 2021 Elworthy Award, an environmental accolade for deer farmers, are Grant and Sally Charteris of Forest Road Farm in the Central Hawke’s Bay.

The award was presented at the Deer Industry Conference in Invercargill earlier this month.

Lead judge, Janet Gregory, says the eight entrants in the deer environmental awards had many things in common: active farm environment and business plans, and involvement in the deer industry’s productivity and environmental activities.

“All are leaders in the industry, show great passion and stewardship of the land, and are supporting their local communities. Many of them have calculated their greenhouse gas emissions or are planning to do so,” Gregory says. . . 

How good are New Zealand Farmers?:

“The latest Fonterra announcement of a heightened 2021/2022 farm gate milk price is a big thumbs up for rural New Zealand performance,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Cheers to our dairy farmers for all their hard work. What this means to New Zealand economic recovery in these crazy COVID times, is greater economic certainty.

“After last week’s la la budget which spent billions of dollars, this boost is exactly what the country needs.

“The new pay-out will mean hundreds of millions of additional dollars that flood into the national economy. A fiscal kick up the backside of a struggling economy. It’s great news to help spirit on our recovery and pay for our ballooning debt. . . 

Confidence constrained by climate:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 220 more farm sales (+89.4%) for the three months ended April 2021 than for the three months ended April 2020. Overall, there were 466 farm sales in the three months ended April 2021, compared to 432 farm sales for the three months ended March 2021 (+7.9%), and 246 farm sales for the three months ended April 2020.

1,677 farms were sold in the year to April 2021, 45.1% more than were sold in the year to April 2020, with 120.0% more Dairy farms, 84.1% more Dairy Support, 20.8% more Grazing farms, 54.4% more Finishing farms and 11.8% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to April 2021 was $29,746 compared to $22,435 recorded for three months ended April 2020 (+32.6%). The median price per hectare increased 14.8% compared to March 2021. . . 

FAO sets the record straight–86% of livestock feed is inedible by humans :

As the media frenzy caused by a ‘planetary health diet’ proposed in a new report from an EAT-Lancet commission this month continues, it is perhaps timely to recall that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has set the record straight regarding not just the level of greenhouse gases that livestock emit (see yesterday’s posting on this blog) but also incorrect information about how much food (crops eatable by humans) is consumed by livestock. It’s not a lot.

The EAT-Lancet report summarizes scientific evidence for a global food system transition towards healthy diets from sustainable agriculture. The report concludes that a global shift towards a diet made up of high quantities of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein and low quantities of animal protein could catalyze the achievement of both the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

Anne Mottet, an FAO livestock development officer specializing in natural resource use efficiency and climate change, usefully informs us of incorrect, if widespread, information and understanding about the so-called ‘food-feed competition’. . . 


Rural round-up

15/05/2021

Why are we making life harder for farmers? – Mike Hosking:

The Fonterra capital changes announced last week have a story behind them.

It’s a complex business, and Andrew Kelleher explained them very well to us Friday, look it up if you missed it.

This is important because the farmer is gold to this country, Fonterra is our biggest business, and dairy and agriculture are saving us, given the other big game in town is closed.

Now, as Andrew put it, Fonterra have come to the conclusion they have reached peak milk. That doesn’t mean the world is over milk and dairy, because it isn’t. As the world grows, the middle class want good food, and that’s what we do.

So, Fonterra’s move means producing things in this country is getting harder. Between the rules and attitude of the government, making stuff is an uphill battle. . . 

The big dry: Drought hits farmers hard as winter looms – Kurt Bayer:

Up the brown hill where his grandfather lies, Stu Fraser’s epic view tells two stark tales.

Down on the flat of Amuri basin, the local irrigation scheme flaunts its lush rewards: emerald swathes of dairy land, crisscrossing the scenic North Canterbury landscape.

And down by the meandering Hurunui River, Fraser has some green strips too.

But up here on the steep hill country and rolling downs, where 5600 ewes scratch around and trot hopefully behind the red ATV, it’s a different story. . . 

Photographs spur journey from Argentina to Mid Canterbury farm – Toni Williams:

Maria Alvarez was drawn to New Zealand by photographs of a friend’s working holiday.

Those photographs started her on a journey from Argentina to working in the New Zealand dairy industry.

She arrived in New Zealand in 2013 and spent the first few years getting settled in.

“Everyday I get to see a sunrise. It’s beautiful,” she said last week from her home in Mid Canterbury. . . 

Sri Lankan dairy workers move up – Toni Williams:

Dairy farmers Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage are living the dream.

They are passionate share farmers on a 245ha Dairy Holdings farm at Ealing, milking 980 cows, and are finalists in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, Share Farmer of the Year category.

They won the final of the Canterbury-North Otago region and will find out this weekend how they fared. The national finals are in Hamilton on Saturday.

Dinuka and Nadeeka love being their own bosses and working with animals in the outside environment. . . 

Collaboration key to meat assurance programmes – Colin Williscroft:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers may be behind Ireland in their ability to measure farm-level carbon footprints but that is set to change, Beef + Lamb NZ general manager market development Nick Beeby says.

Beeby was responding to comments by Lincoln University agribusiness senior lecturer Dr Nic Lees who spent three months in Ireland looking at the Irish Origin Green programme, which claims to be the world’s first national level, third-party verified sustainability programme and brand for agriculture.

As part of the programme, farm-level carbon footprints and other sustainability measures have been available to Irish farmers since 2011.

Lees says in contrast, NZ is only beginning to implement a comprehensive farm-level carbon footprint measurement system. . . 

Safer farm equipment creates happy vets:

All good livestock farmers know the value of having a good relationships with their vets. And while vets expect to be on call to help with birthing issues, give vaccinations, or check any number of health concerns of farmers’ animals, a breach of safety could lead to vets fearing accepting such calls when they come in. Farmers should be aware, then, that if vets do not feel safe when administering their services, chances are, the farmers themselves may suffer in the long run as a result of high vet turnover or even possibly being sued for negligence.

It is imperative, therefore, to ensure the safety of all vets, along with all other farm workers, who attend to livestock. By ensuring high overall safety standards on farms, farmers are more likely to build robust relationships with those responsible for their animals’ wellbeing. Good relationships, in turn, could ensure higher profits due to trading in healthy stock, lower employee turnover, and the peace of mind that everyone on the farm – both people and animals – is happy and healthy. . . 


Rural round-up

10/05/2021

Fonterra boss Miles Hurrell says turning around the dairy giant has not been smooth sailing – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell faced a daunting task when he was asked to take the helm of the country’s largest company in 2018, but he is getting the dairy giant in shape.

The co-operative owned by its 10,000 farmer suppliers and supporting some 20,000 employees was heading for its first annual loss since its creation in 2001 after a period of big expansion failed to deliver the promised profits and left it saddled with too much debt.

Hurrell, an 18-year veteran of Fonterra and head of the Farm Source unit that worked with farmers, talked with his wife and a few close friends who backed him to take on the challenge of what was looking like a tough couple of years.

“I was under no illusion at that point in time about what needed to be done,” he says. “Clearly we needed to go about doing things differently.” . . 

Living the good life after ‘bovis’– Sally Rae:

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for South Canterbury farmers Kelly and Morgan Campbell since their cattle were the first in New Zealand to be depopulated due to Mycoplasma bovis. But they have come out the other side with a new business venture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

On a lifestyle block in rural South Canterbury, Kelly and Morgan Campbell are living the good life.

Residing in their dream home, surrounded by hundreds of happy hens, their seemingly idyllic existence belies the roller-coaster ride they have lived the past few years.

Morgan Campbell arguably summed it up best by saying: “it’s a crazy story … with lots of kinks and curves … along the way. Dead cows, IVF and chickens.” . . 

Sheep numbers plummet by 800,000 in a year – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s sheep numbers plummeted by almost a million in 2020, new data shows.

Figures from Stats NZ put the sheep population at 26 million for the year ended June 2020, a fall of 800,000 from the previous year and a far cry from the peak of 70 million sheep in 1982.

Stats NZ agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said widespread drought conditions and feed shortages were a major factor in the 3 per cent fall.

“Hawke’s Bay had the largest decrease, with the total number of sheep falling by 12 per cent (346,000) from the previous year to a total of 2.5 million as at June 2020.” . . 

Too many customers, not enough grapes, Marlborough winemakers struggling to match demand – Hugo Cameron:

Key export markets are thirsty for Marlborough wine, but low grape yields mean that demand is outstripping supply.

Frost and cold weather early in the season led to smaller harvests from many vineyards in the area and the smaller crop could leave some wineries facing tough decisions on who they can supply over the next year, industry group Wine Marlborough says

Caythorpe Family Estate owner Simon Bishell said the grape yield was about 25 to 30 percent down on the normal volume.

The business had seen plenty of fresh interest, but supplying those new customers after a slim harvest was a challenge, Bishell said. . . 

100 years on the land – Shawn McAvinue:

The Frame family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Burnbank in Teviot Valley. Shawn McAvinue talks to Bill and Gwenda Frame about how four generations have transformed the land from an unfenced block covered in gorse and rabbits to a productive sheep and beef farm.

A blanket of snow covered the land when Bill Frame was born on the sheep and beef farm Burnbank in Teviot Valley, on New Year’s Day in 1932.

When the snow melted, rabbits covered the farm in Dumbarton, near Ettrick.

As the baby boy grew, so did the rabbit population, and a dream was born. . . 

Meet challenges head-on says Beef Achiever Tracey Hayes – Shan Goodwin:

IF there is piece of advice Tracey Hayes believes has the power to guarantee a prosperous future for every sector of Australia’s beef industry, it’s the idea of never shying from a challenge.

Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s difficult, regardless of how insurmountable it may appear. Instead focus on precisely that.

These were the words from Ms Hayes after she was named the 2021 Queensland Country Life Beef Achiever at Beef Australia in Rockhampton last week.

Ms Hayes is an agribusiness executive with a beef production background and a down-to-earth persona that has made her one of the most liked, and respected, identities in the cattle game. . . 


Rural round-up

08/05/2021

Sheep and beef farms are getting squeezed – Keith Woodford:

The sheep and beef industry is getting squeezed from all sides, yet export returns exceed $7 billion.

I decided recently that it was time to take a closer look at what is happening on sheep and beef farms. The underlying motive is that I have been giving thought as to what the sheep and beef industry, which contributes around $7 billion of export income each year, might look like in another ten or twenty years. But before getting too immersed in that future, I needed to make sure I understood the present and how we got to where we are now.

When I left school a very long time ago, I had in mind that I wanted to be a sheep farmer myself. As a school boy, I used to peruse the advertisements each weekend in Saturday’s newspaper and figure out what a farm for 1000 ewes plus young stock and a few beef cows would cost. The land cost was around 20,000 New Zealand pounds, with this converting subsequently in 1967 to around $40,000. The figure now is about 30 times that, perhaps more, before taking into account that 1000 ewes would no longer be anywhere near enough for a living. . . 

Two big announcements awaited from Fonterra – one deals with dairy payout, the other with the co-op’s capital structure – Point of Order:

So what  are  the  chances Fonterra’s  payout  to its farmer-suppliers  could  top  $8kg/MS the  soon-to-end  current  season?

That would give a  timely  boost  to  the  rural economy  and give  farmers  the kind  of  surge  in incomes  which  would encourage them  to  step up the  pace  of  adapting their dairy farming practices as  the  country  moves  to meet its  climate  change goals.

In March, Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for this season to between $7.30 and $7.90kg/MS with a mid-point of $7.60. That was up from $7.14 last season.

But now, after several  good  results  from the fortnightly GDT auctions, and indications from futures contract prices, the  speculation  is that the payout  could go  higher. . . 

Farms hidden economic vulnerability revealed – Jonathan Milne:

A new stress test reveals just how exposed our farmers are to labour shortages, drought or a downturn in commodity prices.

Milk prices are high and times seem good for dairy farmers – but the Reserve Bank warns half of dairy farms face debt restructuring if milk solid prices drop back below $5.50/kg.

Dairy is just one of the primary production sectors where pockets of high debt create real economic exposure – for farming families, provincial communities and the economy.

While still relatively small, banks’ lending to horticulture producers has maintained a solid growth rate, increasing 11 percent in the year to March. Banks should continue to monitor associated risks, including the sector’s vulnerability to labour shortages and severe weather events, the Reserve Bank says in its first Financial Stability Report this year. . . 

Should rabbits be on the LIM report – Jill Herron:

It’s a dream lifestyle in a dream location, but owning property in Central Otago often comes with an expanding family of unwanted guests. Should real estate agents be telling prospective buyers about the rabbit problem?

World famous for its breathtaking landscape, skifields, wineries and pristine lakes, Central Otago is also fast becoming notorious for its pest population.

And those buying into the lifestyle dream need to be aware of what they are taking on, according to long-time real estate agent, Edwin Lewis.

The fact the costly, destructive and incredibly persistent pests accompany most purchases is proving a rude shock to many newcomers throughout the region. . . 

Minaret Station PLUS an amazing West Coast wilderness experienceJane Jeffries :

Arriving at the Alpine Helicopters hanger in Queenstown, I was full of anticipation for our three days at Minaret Station. I’d read about this property and have always had an inkling to go. Now three nights for the price of two, thanks to Covid, we are on our way. This much talked about Minaret luxury lodge, set in a glacial valley in the Southern Alps, is seriously remote. We had to chopper over some of New Zealand’s most inaccessible, jagged terrain to get there.

The well-known Wallis family are at the heart of this working farm. They are acknowledged in the Central Otago community for their contribution to aviation, farming, deer exporting and tourism. Sir Tim Wallis was one of the great deer farming pioneers. As a young man, his love of the land, aviation and adventure lured him into the helicopter business. He pioneered live deer capture from helicopters which lead to a significant industry in New Zealand. His nick-name, ‘Hurricane Tim,’ was well-earned for his daring flying and would not be approved by OSHA today!

As the helicopter fleet grew to support the commercial and agriculture arm of the family business, they decided to diversify into tourism. They started offering scenic flights and heli-skiing in the South Island in the 1980s. Then, in 2010 they opening the doors to the Minaret Alpine Lodge. The family wanted to share the beauty of the 50,000-acre working farm, home to some 12,000 deer, 1,300 cattle, and 1,000 sheep. . . 

Ravensdown appoints national agronomy manager:

Ravensdown has appointed Will Waddell as its new National Agronomy Manager. Will’s responsibility will be enhancing the co-operative’s service in seeds, agrichemicals and agronomic advice.

The new role leads a nationwide team of nine specialist agronomists supported by a product management team of four and benefits from Ravensdown’s partnership with Cropmark Seeds.

“I look forward to supporting and leading our talented team of agronomists to bring practical and innovative farm systems solutions to our shareholders as we respond to environmental and social needs,” says Waddell.

General Manager Customer Relationships Bryan Inch congratulated Will Waddell on his appointment to the newly created position. . . 


Rural round-up

07/05/2021

Rabbits march on Queenstown –  Melanie Reid:

A new breed of rabbit has arrived on the scene in Central Otago: the ‘lifestyle rabbit’. With the growth in new multimillion dollar homes and subdivisions comes a headache for landowners.

Ihug co-founder Tim Wood now avoids some parts of his 10-acre rural Wakatipu idyll because it’s too depressing to see his plantings and landscaping trashed by rabbits yet again.

“It looks beautiful from a distance, but when you get up close, it’s an absolute ecological disaster. It’s out of control. We’re back at the late eighties and early nineties sort of stage of how bad it is.”

Recently planted natives collapse into the stream as rabbits undermine their root systems and some mornings up to 30 rabbits have their breakfast on the lawn as Wood eats his metres away in his kitchen. An attractive bank slowly turns into a swiss-cheese dustbowl and costly native trees get planted, ring-barked and eventually thrown on the compost heap. . . 

Fonterra starts consultation on capital structure:

Today Fonterra is starting a consultation process to seek farmer feedback on potential options to change its capital structure that could give farmers greater financial flexibility.

To allow its farmers to have open conversations and consider all options during consultation, the 
Co-operative is temporarily capping the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (the Fund) by suspending shares in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Market (FSM) from being exchanged into units in the Fund.

This temporary cap will be effective once the current trading halt is lifted when the market opens tomorrow and will remain throughout the consultation process.

Chairman Peter McBride says the capital structure review seeks to ensure the sustainability of the 
Co-operative into the future. . . 

Scores attend Oamaru meeting to raise concerns over large scale forest farm – Sally Murphy:

More than 100 people showed up to a meeting in Oamaru last night to raise concerns about a large scale forest farm being developed in the area.

A 2500 hectare sheep and beef farm at the headwaters of the Kakanui River has been bought by New Zealand Carbon Farming.

The company establishes permanent forests to mitigate climate change through carbon credits.

Locals say the company already has one farm in the Waitaki region which is already showing adverse environmental affects. . . 

New study finds Taurua District could grow blueberries, hazelnuts, apples and feijoas:

A new study for alternative land uses in the Tararua District shows blueberries, hazelnuts, cider apples and feijoas could be successfully grown in the area.

The report commissioned by The Tararua District Council and done by AgFirst assessed the soil quality, climate and economics of each crop.

AgFirst horticulture consultant Leander Archer said it builds on another project done in the early 2000s which looked at what crops were best for the area.

“What we found is that all four crops could grow well in some areas of the Tararua, but conditions differed from area to area. . . 

Rural health professionals welcome Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network:

Members of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (the Network) held up green cards in show of support for the proposal to form a collective organisation Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network on Saturday 1 May 2021.

During the Network’s AGM at the National Rural Health Conference in Taupō, the Network Board put forward the proposal to form Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network and to transition the Network’s functions and role to this new organisation over a 12-month period.

More members turned up for this AGM than ever before to show their support and have their say on the future of the Network, and the resolutions to form the collective organisation Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network were passed.

Network Chief Executive Dr Grant Davidson says that this is a significant step in the evolution of the Network. . . 

Research shows growth in tree stock sales:

Latest research by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service shows seedling sales hit almost 92 million seedlings in 2020, 3 million more than the year before, says Acting Deputy Director-General Henry Weston.

The findings are an annual survey of tree stock sales from commercial forestry nurseries, called the Provisional Estimates of Tree Stock Sales and Forest Planting.

“The increase in seedling sales is positive, as it shows continued strong interest in tree planting.

“Tree planting is a vital tool in efforts to boost environmental gains, and help New Zealand to reach its economic potential, particularly our recovery from COVID-19,” says Mr Weston. . . 

Leasing provides appealing pathway to land stewardship:

Leasing the farm out rather than selling it is proving a new approach to the old challenges of succession, income generation, and farm business growth, providing a level of flexibility for parties on both sides of the leasing fence.

Bayleys Gisborne director and country salesperson Simon Bousfield says with an aging farmer population more landowners are rapidly approaching a point where they may be wishing to exit their property to enjoy retirement, and succession options aren’t available within the family.

However, they can find buyers are either limited in number, or limited by a lack of financial capital to meet the property’s market value.

“But it is also a case that this low interest rate environment is a double-edged sword. . . 


Rural round-up

06/05/2021

Rabbits: ‘It’s as bad as it’s ever been’ – Melanie Reid:

Rabbits are once again over-running parts of New Zealand. This week, in a series of short videos, Newsroom Investigates lays out the remarkable impacts in the south.

Farmers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on rabbit control, with some employing full time shooters. But what if you control the rabbits at your place, and next door they don’t?

For Phillip Bunn, a third generation farmer on 149 hectares of Central Otago family land, there are a lot of things that make farming in the Queenstown Wakatipu Basin tough.

But dealing with rabbits is by far the hardest part. . .

Truckers at risk crossing Mt Ruapehu bridge with ‘severe’ defects – Phil Pennington:

A century-old wooden bridge full of holes that carries masses of the country’s potatoes and carrots is jeopardising truckers’ safety and farmers’ livelihoods.

But government funding changes make it less certain the local council can get the bridge, on a back road on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, replaced.

Between a 10th and one-fifth of the washed carrots and potatoes used in the North Island come across the one-lane timber Mangateitei rail overbridge near Ohakune.

There is no other public road out from the farms. . . 

Rein in rates and show some backbone over water rules, Feds urges ECan:

Federated Farmers is strongly urging Environment Canterbury to demonstrate financial discipline and stick with current water plans developed with the community, rather than cave in and start a $25 million exercise re-writing them.

Feds Mid-Canterbury President David Clark and fellow Ashburton farmer and national board member Chris Allen said the Federation’s Canterbury membership of around 3000 are outraged and hugely disappointed with the very large rates increases proposed.

Most farmers face bigger hikes than the overall average of 24.5% in the financial year starting July 1.

“No business has the luxury of unlimited income, especially farmers who as price takers cannot just increase their prices. ECan should be no different,” Clark told councillors at a hearing this morning. . . 

Log exports high prices create New Zealand trucking backlog – Maja Burry:

Strong export prices for logs are creating bottlenecks in the local supply chain, with forest owners reporting problems securing log truck drivers and in some cases, harvesting contractors.

Forest Owners Association’s president Phil Taylor said when log prices were high, smaller forest owners, including farmers, seized the opportunity to maximise returns.

“It’s a very good opportunity to realise their investments and for those farmers that have trees to provide them with a significant boost to their incomes.”

The shortage in log truck drivers was a developing concern and the association was keen to work with Te Uru Rākau New Zealand Forest Service to encourage more people into the industry, Taylor said. . .

Nadine Tunley is HortNZ’s new Chief Executive :

Nadine Tunley has been announced as Horticulture New Zealand’s new Chief Executive. 

‘We are very pleased to have been able to appoint a candidate of Nadine’s calibre, with her level of horticulture and wider food and fibre sector experience.  This was after an extensive recruitment process,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘Nadine will lead HortNZ into new territory, as horticulture adapts to Covid and the operation of industry changes.  Over the next decade, climate adaption, freshwater quality improvements, and increased use of technology and automation will result in significant change to the way fruit and vegetables are grown in New Zealand. 

‘HortNZ’s role will be to help steer the industry through this change, advocating for growers to be given the time and support to adapt.  This is so our growers can remain viable during the transition, and do what they do best: feed New Zealand and the world healthy, good tasting and safe food. . . 

Rob Hewett appointed Silver Fern Farms co-op chair:

At the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 29 April, Richard Young announced that he was standing down as Co-operative Chair to facilitate transition to the next generation of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative leaders.

To bridge this transition period, the Co-operative Board has requested that Rob Hewett step back into the Co-operative Chair role that he relinquished two years ago, together with continuing in his role as Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited.

Mr Hewett said “Firstly I want to thank Richard for his significant contribution as Co-op Chair for the past two years. Over that time, he has led the development and establishment of a clear vision and purpose for the Co-operative, which ensures we continually work cohesively with our investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited, but also ensuring the voice of our farmer shareholders is heard. I also know he will continue to make a significant contribution for the balance of his current term. Over the next three years there will be significant managed transformation in our Board composition as several of our farmer elected directors come to the end of their maximum terms as allowed for in our Constitution – myself included. While the Constitution does allow for term extensions on a case by case basis for Directors who have reached their maximum term, it is the clear intention of the Co-operative board to manage succession proactively.” . . 


Rural round-up

24/04/2021

Looking after the land ‘a passion’ – Shawn McAvine:

Looking after the land is a “passion” for Central Otago farmers Ben and Anna Gillespie.

The couple won the 2020 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, and opened their farm gates in Omakau for a field day last week.

Mrs Gillespie, speaking to about 100 people on the day, said she and her husband were a “solid team”.

She did the “stock work and finances” and he did the “tractor work, irrigation and agronomy“. . .

The cost of getting soil fertility wrong:

Although many people on the planet are willing to pay more for New Zealand produce, productive land to grow that food and fibre is becoming unavailable here in our own backyard.

Both the current government and previous governments aimed to double export dollars from the primary sector.

In answer, ingenious farmers and growers have had to become more efficient with their inputs to do more with less land. The Ministry for the Environment’s report entitled Our Land shows export values of the primary sector doubled while available highly productive land halved between 2002 and 2019.

This was an impressive achievement, but not without impacts. Hitting the political ambition whilst reducing land use and environmental issues is going to require farmers to become even more efficient in the use of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. . .

Trans-Tasman competition expected to increase for dairy farms seeking workers – Maja Burry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are being urged to make staff retention a priority, with the trans-Tasman bubble expected to make the labour market even more competitive.

Both New Zealand and Australia’s primary industries are facing labour shortages, with border restrictions cutting off the normal flow of migrant workers.

A recent survey by the groups Federated Farmers and DairyNZ found almost half of the sector is understaffed, with a quarter of farmers unable to fill some roles for over six months.

The opening of the trans-Tasman bubble on Monday had resulted in some agricultural labour recruiters in Australia ramping up online advertising campaigns targeting New Zealanders – offering free airfares and good wages. . . 

A2 moves from a brand to a category – Keith Woodford:

Many more A2 milk and A2 infant formula brands are now emerging across the globe but market leader The a2 milk Company is struggling

A notable change has been occurring recently with A2 milk products now available from multiple manufacturers. That includes at least three brands of A2 infant formula available here in New Zealand. These offerings are the original a2 Platinum from The a2 Milk Company (ATM), plus relative newcomers Karicare A2 from Danone and Haven A2 linked to Zuru.

There are also now at least three A2 fresh-milk brands in New Zealand, these being Fonterra, Fresha Valley, and a strangely named “organic A3” product which, according to its owners, is also produced exclusively from A2 cows.

Internationally, there are multiple A2 brands of both A2 milk and A2 infant formula now available, particularly in Asia, to a lesser extent in the Americas, but with Europe still lagging. . . 

The harvest has passed but we are not saved – Tom Hunter:

So that’s it. The last of the maize has been chopped and dropped into bunkers, pits and stacks all across the Waikato.

I’ve finished my first, and likely my last season, on the harvesting teams. As always with such work it seems that time has run much faster than a start last September factually shows. About the only slow period was in January as the huge machines were prepped for the coming chore and eyes closely watched the growing maize to pick the right time for gathering.

This time of year has always been celebrated, so let’s start with Bruegel’s classic from 1565. . . 

‘A farmer with 50 cattle today will only be allowed to have 24 in 2030’ – Catherina Cunnane:

The Rural Independents have warned that the Climate Action Bill will “kill the economy while doing nothing to protect the environment”. 

They fear that “small farms will be in danger of disappearing and replaced by large corporate interests, while one-off rural housing will cease to exist”.

The group believe the bill will cause “immeasurable damage to Irish agriculture”, cause food security issues, lead to thousands of direct and indirect job losses across rural Ireland and create enormous and costly volumes of red tape. . . 


Rural round-up

07/04/2021

Horticulture collapse fears unless Pacific Island workers allowed in – Shawn McAvinue:

A group of Teviot Valley orchardists is calling for the Government to allow more Pacific Islanders to return to the region to fill a labour shortage before the horticulture industry “collapses”.

Darlings Fruit owner Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said the apple harvest season runs from the end of February to mid May.

He had only about 60% of the 65 pickers and packhouse staff required for the season on his family’s about 90ha of orchard blocks in the valley.

Consequently, apples would rot on the ground this season, he said. . .

Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming – Ashley Smyth:

Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan. . .

Native planting project hoped to protect Tolaga Bay from logging debris–  Maja Burry:

Every time heavy rains hits Uawa – Tolaga Bay, a sense of nervousness washes over the community that a fresh delivery of forestry slash could be brought down from the hillsides.

After years of discussions, it’s hoped a native planting project announced by the area’s largest forestry operation will help protect homes, waterways and coastlines.

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s 10 largest freehold forest plantations, has announced a 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The programme will see permanent native plantings established in parts of the 35,000 hectare estate which are unsuitable for timber plantation. . .

Horticulture industry can help New Zealand reduce emissions and grow the economy:

The horticulture industry is well placed to help New Zealand reduce its emissions while also enabling the economy to grow, Horticulture New Zealand says. 

‘Our fruit and vegetable growing industry is already environmentally responsible as well as being one of the most efficient in the world,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘In our submission to the Climate Change Commission, we pointed out that horticulture is now producing more food from less land, using fewer inputs like fertiliser and water. 

‘Covid has seen demand for healthy food increase, across the world.  This increase puts horticulture in a win/win situation.  Land-use change to horticulture will reduce emissions from the agriculture sector, while the extra production will find ready markets, overseas and locally.’ . . .

Fonterra completes sale of two China farms:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its two wholly owned China farming hubs in Ying and Yutian

As announced in October 2020, the sale of the farms to Inner Mongolia Youran Dairy Co., Ltd (Youran) was subject to anti-trust clearance and other regulatory approvals in China. These approvals have now been received.

The transaction proceeds comprise the original sale price of NZD $513 million plus NZD $39 million in settlement adjustments, giving cash proceeds of NZD $552 million*.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the completion of the sale is an important milestone for Fonterra following its strategic refresh. . .

Treating soil a little differently could help it store a lot of carbon – Natasha Geiling:

Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting.

But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature.

Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger

The study, published by a group of international scientists, suggests that using “soil-smart” techniques for soil management could sequester as much as four-fifths of the annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels. These techniques include planting crops with deep roots, which help keep soil intact and encourage the growth of microbial communities that help trap soil carbon, and using charcoal-based composts. The study also calls for a wider adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques — things like no-till farming, which involves growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil and has been shown to potentially help soil retain carbon, and organic agriculture, which also has shown some promise in restoring and maintaining soil health. . .


Rural round-up

06/04/2021

Mayor calls on government to give MIQ spots to RSE workers

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan is calling on the government to offer some of the available MIQ spaces to foreign workers.

MIQ authorities are urging people to return to New Zealand to snap up a sudden glut of vacancies for April. There have not been as many vacancies since October.

In an open letter to ministers, Cadogan said Central Otago’s horticulture industry was desperate for workers and bringing in foreigners under the seasonal employment scheme would bring huge relief.

“I am sure I do not need to draw your attention to the labour shortage we have in Central Otago in our horticultural industry and the desperate need for increased numbers of RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme workers, but I do need to emphasise that things here are getting worse not better,” Cadogan’s letter said. . . 

Continued threat to NZ from severely impacted global supply chains:

  • As an open market economy, NZ is attractive to dumpers
  • Remedies available to local businesses and industries

Potatoes are not the only industry at risk from disrupted overseas businesses looking to dump cheap products in New Zealand, but the tools are there to ensure a level playing field for local businesses.

The longer the Covid-19 pandemic goes on across the world, the greater the risk to New Zealand markets from products imported and sold here at prices below the market price in their country of origin, according to a specialist advisor working with local interests on current anti-dumping cases.

Simon Crampton is assisting Potato New Zealand with its anti-dumping case and believes that other New Zealand industries and businesses are at risk of destabilisation from dumped products as the result of continuing turmoil in global supply chains, amongst other reasons. . . 

Fonterra to end coal use in factories by 2037 – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra has backed the Climate Change Commission’s decarbonisation pathway to lower industrial emissions by pledging to replace its coal and natural gas to fuel its processing factories with wood biomass by 2037.

Its submission to the commission’s advice to the Government on how to achieve zero emissions by 2050 acknowledged the difficulties in meeting such a target, calling it “ambitious” and “challenging”.

It pointed out that the nature of New Zealand dairy farmers’ milk supply curve gave it an extremely narrow window in which it can undertake changes to its factories.

“Over a six to eight-week period, we go from collecting around four million litres of milk a day to around 82 million litres a day. All of our sites must be working close to full capacity to cope with this volume,” it said. . . 

Silver Fern Farms responds to dynamic global trading environment with strong performance:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $32.4m for the 2020 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $65.4m in the same period.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2020 year is a strong result built off the skill and expertise of its people who navigated the company through a period of considerable uncertainty.

“The performance of the operating company in 2020 was truly commendable across a range of areas. Most important was how they put the health and welfare of their people first. In doing so they set a platform of trust and shared commitment from their staff to stand up as essential workers to service our regional communities, and to service our global consumers.” . . 

Awanui orchard offers step straight into market:

A large scale, well established avocado orchard in the Northland region offers the opportunity for an investor to enjoy immediate returns from the high value sector as demand continues to expand for the fruit.

Awanui orchard near Sweetwater represents 20 years of commitment from its original owner and founder, American-Kiwi Jerry Trussler.

Jerry’s far-sighted vision for the sector had him establish the 36-canopy hectare orchard at a time when the fledgling industry was distinguished by significantly smaller orchards. The entire land area comprises 79ha across an attractive, rolling block. . . .

California relocates mountain lions making a meal of endangered sheep :

Drastic steps taken to protect the Sierra Nevada’s 600 bighorn sheep after another charismatic species developed a taste for them

In order to save one endangered species, California scientists are having to relocate another iconic creature that is, regrettably, eating it.

The California department of fish and wildlife is in the process of moving mountain lions over 100 miles away from struggling populations of bighorn sheep, which are unique to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The herbivores were first listed as endangered in 1999, when their population was estimated at only 125 individuals, according to researchers.

“There’s no expectation that any of the lions we move are going to stay where we put it, regardless of age or sex,” acknowledged Danny Gammons, an environmental scientist for the sheep recovery program. “The goal is to get it away from bighorn sheep.” . . 


%d bloggers like this: