Rural round-up

January 24, 2020

Failure won’t be farmers’ fault – Arthur Tsitsiras:

Farmers, like any business people, always look to keep costs down and make a profit. 

Farming, however, is an industry with a unique set of variables. Droughts can severely affect crop and livestock growth, floods and storms damage crops and infrastructure, unexpected disease outbreaks and wavering demands in certain products can all have wide-ranging impacts completely out of farmers’ hands. 

In addition, farmers are now expected to be conscious about their environmental impact.  . . 

Primary Sector Council’s starry-eyed vision – Nigel Malthus:

Late last year, the Primary Sector Council (PSC) unveiled its vision for the future of New Zealand’s primary industries.

It centres on the Māori concept of Taiao, which emphasises respect for, and harmony with, the natural world.

The council was established by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April 2018 on a two-year mission to provide strategic advice on issues and to develop a sector-wide vision for the future. . . 

Here comes the sun . . . (flowers) – Sally Brooker:

One of North Otago’s favourite crops is making an impact again.

Sunflowers are maturing in paddocks on Thousand Acre Rd, between Oamaru and Kakanui, attracting photographers and adding a feel-good element to the landscape.

They are grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for their animal feeds company Topflite.

“You never get sick of them,” general manager Greg Webster said of the giant yellow flowers. . . 

Robot start-up Radius Robotics seeks to solve world’s soil depletion – Catherine Harris:

Farming by robot is no longer a fantasy, and it also could be a breakthrough for preserving our soil quality, a group of Kiwi entrepreneurs say.

Christchurch’s Radius Robotics is developing a wheel-based robotic system which would direct drill seeds with a minimal footprint, irrigate, weed and collect data.

Reducing the amount of land having to be tilled was one of its key aims, co-founder Henry Bersani said. . . 

Farmers encouraged to seek advice on farm succession planning – Sam Kilmister:

A series of workshops is designed to get farmers thinking about life after the farm.

Farm succession is a pressing topics among sheep and beef farmers, with more than 50 per cent of sheep and beef farms expected to change hands over the next decade.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership will hold a series of workshops educating Rangitīkei farmers on business transition and help them to navigate what can often be a difficult process. . . 

Fonterra leaves impression:

An internship at Fonterra proved to be just as valuable to Massey University science student Victoria-Jayne Reid as it was to the dairy co-operative with the development of a new testing regime.

The third-year science student spent her summer at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre across the road from Massey’s Manawatu campus helping to validate a new test for fat content in milk products that has proved to be robust and simple.

“The old reference method was highly laborious, it involved hazardous chemicals, manhandling and it took a long time,” Reid says. . . 


Fonterra tanker on the road

January 20, 2020

Every day, tankers are on the road picking up milk from farms and taking it back to the factories.

One of the drivers Sanjeev Kumar, shows a different angle on the work.


Rural round-up

January 18, 2020

Disease’s cost killed meat firm – Jacob McSweeny:

Meat production at a 100-year-old Dunedin company has ceased and 13 staff have been made redundant but the owner of The Craft Meat Company says the business will live on.

The decision came after meat producers’ profits were cut by rising costs due to a global shortage of protein triggered by the African swine fever epidemic, owner Grant Howie said.

‘‘[It was] the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do,’’ Mr Howie said of the decision to axe staff. . . 

Sage softens lease land changes – Neal Wallace:

The Government appears to have softened the sharpest edges of proposed changes to the management of pastoral lease land while confirming farming will continue in the South Island high country.

The bill detailing changes to the Crown Pastoral Lands Act appears to back down on initial proposals that included greater political oversight of the activities of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, traditionally an independent position.

It seems also to accept submissions from farming sectors that lessees have legal rights to pasturage and quiet enjoyment of their land, which would have been compromised by the original recommendations. . . 

Fonterra pioneer expects much better:

One of the architects of Fonterra says he’s very disappointed with the co-op’s performance over the years.

Tirau farmer, Tony Wilding says farmers expected better when they formed the co-op in 2001. “It’s not the performance we had in mind when we formed Fonterra,” he told Rural News.

Wilding received a New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s honours list for his contribution to the dairy sector and community. . .

New chief executive for Meat Industry Association – Sudesh Kissun:

The Meat Industry Association has appointed Sirma Karapeeva as its new chief executive.

Karapeeva, who is currently the Meat Industry Association’s (MIA) trade and economic manager, has been with the trade association since 2015. She replaces Tim Ritchie who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Karapeeva, who takes over in April, held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles in Government before joining MIA.

Kiwifruit prices hit record high:

Kiwifruit prices were at an all-time high in December 2019, with prices for seasonal fruit and vegetables also up, Stats NZ said today.

“Kiwifruit prices rose 32 percent in December to a weighted average price of $8.27 per kilo, an all-time high,” acting consumer prices manager James Griffin said.

“This compares with $4.24 in December last year.” . . 

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open January 15th.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz. . . 


Rural round-up

January 12, 2020

Dairy farm sales dry up as tighter bank lending, foreign investment take hold – Catherine Harris:

Commentators say dairy farm values are falling, as bank lending tightens and foreign investment becomes harder to get.

According to the Real Estate Institute (REINZ), sales of dairy farms nationally tumbled 55 per cent in the three months to November on the same period in 2018, and 83 per cent on 2017.

Dairy farm prices slid 22 per cent, from $50,964 per hectare to $39,678 per hectare.

Lincoln University farm management professor and commentator Keith Woodford told RNZ that while other types of farms such as grazing or horticulture were holding their own, dairying had suffered, despite improving milk prices. . . 

Border collie saves flock of sheep from wall of fire in Australia: –  Joe Roberts:

A hero border collie has saved a flock of sheep as a wall of fire destroyed farmland in Australia.

Patsy the six-year-old working dog rounded the sheep up with a farmer as the flames bore down on them in the rural town of Corryong in Victoria.

She brought them to the safest paddock on the farm as her owner fought the fire in a tractor with a tank of water.

Thanks to Patsy and her owner, almost all of the sheep were saved, along with the hay bales, silage, shearing shed, and farm houses. . .

‘Mycoplasma bovis’ challenges faced – Laura Smith:

‘‘One of the greatest biosecurity challenges we’ve ever faced’’ — Mycoplasma bovis continues to affect farmers but the Ministry for Primary Industries is confident eradication of the disease can be achieved.

Southland farm owners Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft had 1700 cattle culled in 2018 after Mycoplasma bovis was discovered on their farm.

Since then they were declared disease-free, but are now awaiting results after tests on cows at one of their three cattle farms.

The bovine disease Mycoplasma bovis can cause mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. More than 130,700 cattle have been culled nationwide because of it. . . 

Fonterra rationalises in Chile – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra is buying the minority interests in its Chilean processing partner, Prolesur, to streamline its businesses and give it more options for the future.

Among the options could be an exit from the dairy industry in Chile after several decades of New Zealand involvement, firstly by the Dairy Board in 1986.

Fonterra has agreed to buy 13.6% of Prolesur for NZ$29.3 million from Fundacion Isabel Aninat, a church-owned charity. . . 

Remote island farm on market – Richard Rennie:

A long-held family property on Great Barrier Island offers the chance to own the last piece of land before Chile.

It includes private beaches and an historic grave site for shipwreck victims.

The Mabey family has farmed the 195ha property at the island’s northern end for almost a century and has decided to put the farm on the market as a bare block. 

The land is farmed by Scott Mabey who said he anticipates a buyer will be most interested in building a dream home on one of the farm’s many elevated positions. . . 

The beef farmer eats a plant patty – Uptown Farms:

Well… we did it. We were in a hip little craft beer joint in Nashville, saw the Impossible burger on the menu, and ordered one.

Of course they wanted to send it out with a fresh baked bun, cheese and all the sauces.

But we passed on all of that so we could really get an idea what all the fuss was about. Here’s what we decided:

🌱 It is better with ranch. Matt jokes, “What vegetable isn’t?” (His jokes are getting worse the older he gets.) . . 


Rural round-up

December 22, 2019

New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector is concerned about Government’s freshwater proposals :

The viability of some meat processing plants in New Zealand will be in doubt under the Government’s current freshwater proposals, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“While we generally support the ambition of the proposals for cleaner freshwater, the planned river quality limits are excessively tight and exceed current limits already consented by regional councils,” says Tim Ritchie, chief executive of MIA.

“These limits are likely to result in substantial economic costs to the me . . 

 

Fonterra resolves Chilean dispute with buy-out – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s announcement that it is purchasing the minority shareholding interests in Chilean dairy company Prolesur solves an acrimonious relationship between Fonterra and the Fundación Isabel Aninat. This may prove to be an early step in the rationalisation and eventual divestment of Fonterra’s Chilean operations.

Fonterra’s Chilean operations are managed under a complex structure. The major asset is the almost wholly-owned Soprole, which in turn owns 70.5 percent of Prolesur. Fonterra also owns additional shares in Prolesur through another structure, giving it a total Prolesur holding of 86.2 percent.

The key minority shareholder in Prolesur is Fundación Isabel Aninat which has ties to the Catholic Church. . . 

Commitment to change lifts audit grades:

A willingness to proactively improve farming practices has seen 89 per cent of Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) shareholders achieve an A or B Farm Environment Plan (FEP) audit during the 2018/19 season; an increase of 21 percent from the 2016/17 season.

C audit grades have decreased from 28 per cent in the 2016/17 season to 9 per cent in the 2018/19, while just one farm received a D audit grade.

Farm Environment Plans help farmers to recognise and manage on-farm environmental risks. Once the plan is in place an independent audit is carried out to check how the risks are being managed and how Good Management Practices (GMP) are being applied to minimise the impact on water quality. . .

Farmstrong: avoid common strains and niggles:

Farming is a physically demanding job and can cause a lot of wear and tear on the body if you don’t look after it so Farmstrong has teamed up with VetSouth to make a series of short injury prevention videos for farmers.

VetSouth director and large animal vet Neil Hume is based in Winton. He and his team have been working with local physiotherapist Dennis Kelly to help staff avoid injury. 

“A lot of the work vets do is repetitive,” Hume says.  . . 

Berries inspire new local brew – Richard Rennie:

A chance conversation over the fence between a blueberry grower and a brewer prompted the men to combine their talents to create a blueberry beer for summer.

Waikato blueberry grower and Blueberries New Zealand chairman Dan Peach said it was a fortuitous encounter with Good George brewer Brian Watson that provided a new market for his crop. 

Watson said it has taken three years to get to the point the beer can be commercialised.  . . 

Young people pitch in at South Arm – Mel Leigh Dee:

One gripe that came out of a bushfire community recovery meeting last week in Bowraville was the lack of young hands being raised to help with the clean up.

Well there’s currently a dozen or so young guns out at South Arm who are working hard to rebuild fences and faith in their generation.

For the past two weeks primary industries students from Macksville High have been volunteering their skills and their brawn to pull down charcoaled fencing and drive in new posts at the Perks’ farm along South Arm Rd. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 21, 2019

 Australian farmers receive sick letters telling them to ‘use a bullet on themselves – Karen Ruiz:

Farmers across NSW have become the targets of abusive letters urging them to ‘use a bullet’ on themselves if they ‘can’t handle’ the drought. 

Several residents in Dubbo, Walgett and Peak Hill in the state’s western region reported receiving the disturbing notes last month, police said.  

One of the letters, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, had been typed in a large font on white paper and is believed to have been hand delivered.   . . 

Profit shortfall from regenerative grazing spelt out – Shan Goodwin:

ANALYSIS has shown running a livestock operation under regenerative agriculture principles over a period of ten years sets profit back to the tune of $2.46m.

The work by prominent farm business consultants Holmes Sackett found farms not classified as RA systems generated operating returns of 4.22 per cent, compared to those who were classified RA returning only 1.66pc.

Holmes Sackett director John Francis said the analysis was not a criticism of the philosophy of RA but an analysis of the financial performance of these systems relative to other farm management practices. .

Farmers’ tips for staying well :

How do other farmers look after themselves and their teams? Check out the advice below, including some great ideas from Farmstrong.

Farmstrong’s top tips

Farmstrong is a nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative that helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming. Here are some of its suggestions for keeping well.

    • Stay connected – Surround yourself with a network of people you can reach out to. It can be as simple as having a conversation in the pub or over the fence.
    • Keep active – Biking, walking, hunting, team sport – whatever appeals. It keeps you ‘farm fit’, boosts your mood and gets you off-farm.
    • Enjoy the small stuff – When you’re working, take a moment to stop and enjoy the view or the nature. Not a bad office, is it?
    • Eat well – Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank to keep your energy levels up.
    • Look after yourself, look after your team – People are the most important part of the dairy sector. . .

Sheep milk more easily digested than cow milk – study:

Sheep milk’s protein is more readily digested and its fats are more readily converted into energy compared to cow milk, a New Zealand study has shown. The milk’s unique composition could make it a good option for the very young and the elderly, sports nutrition, and people who are looking for alternatives to cow’s milk, researchers say.

Anecdotally, evidence from consumers already suggests that sheep milk may be better tolerated than cow milk by some people.

This is believed to be the first human study in the world to investigate how differences in the composition of New Zealand sheep milk affect ease of digestion, digestive comfort, and the body’s ability to make use of milk protein. . . 

Fonterra to streamline Chilean operations:

Fonterra has purchased the minority interest in Prolesur, held by Fundación Isabel Aninat (the Fundación), as the Co-op looks to streamline its operations in Chile.

The Fundación has sold its 13.6% shareholding for $29.3 million NZD, which takes Fonterra’s ownership of Prolesur from 86.2% to 99.9%.

Prolesur is a milk processor in southern Chile which sells most of its production to Soprole. Soprole is a leading consumer branded dairy company in Chile and is 99.9% owned by Fonterra. . . 

Strong start to dairy export season:

Dairy led the rise in goods exports in November 2019 as milk powder exports reached $1.1 billion, Stats NZ said today.

This is the highest value of milk powder exports for a November month since dairy exports peaked in 2013.

The value of dairy exports (milk powder, butter, and cheese) increased $348 million in November 2019. Dairy was the main contributor to total goods exports reaching $5.2 billion, up $371 million from the same month last year. . . 

Big effort to deliver sustainable premium for NZ food:

Much has been made about New Zealand’s status as “100% Pure” and how much, or how little, needs to be done to keep that claim valid.

While that debate rumbles on, the primary sector has been doing much to deliver on Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s promise to the United Nations in September 2019 that New Zealand will be “the most sustainable food producing country in the world.”

As overseas consumers have become increasingly sophisticated and demand to know where their food has been sourced from, all parts of the New Zealand primary sector have been working to ensure the “paddock to plate” story is more than just a story.  . . 


Rural round-up

December 12, 2019

Keeping the faith on a family tradition – Sally Rae:

Tom O’Sullivan’s grandfather paid off his Canterbury farm with a single wool cheque during the wool boom in the early 1950s.

His father used to say that he could not buy a second-hand car with the proceeds from his wool, while in the last financial year for Tom, wool — for the first time in his family’s sheep farming history — came at a cost to his business.

But the Hawke’s Bay agribusinessman-turned-farmer remained passionate about the fibre, and is the chairman of the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust, wanting to be part of the solution rather than complaining behind the farm gate. . . 

Helping to bridge the rural-urban divide – Pam Tipa:

The urban rural divide is not just a New Zealand issue.

So says Courtney Davies, the New Zealand representative to the Bayer Youth Ag Summit, in Brasília, Brazil, in early November.

Davies (23) says she comes face to face with this issue daily as an educator in environmental sustainability and the oceans with the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

She is quick to try to shift misconceptions about agriculture among young people, she says. . . 

Call goes out for ‘wool renaissance’ – Sally Rae:

“It’s time for a wool renaissance.”

So says Stephen McDougall, of Studio Pacific Architecture, who has been an ambassador for the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust since 2011.

Wool needed to get “back on the table — or the floor” and be part of the solution of the future as a groundswell of people consciously choosing what was best for the environment.

They wanted natural products, they believed in and valued wellness, and they wanted luxury. . . 

Early runs on board for Fonterra – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s first-quarter results for the 2020 financial year show its strategy reset and operational changes have begun to deliver more consistent outcomes, it says.

In the Q1 announcements it held the full-year earnings guidance of 15c to 25c a share and added 25c to the forecast farmgate milk price, now in a narrower range of $7-$7.60/kg milksolids.

If delivered at the $7.30 mid-point, on which the advance price schedule is now based, it will be the fourth-best milk price from Fonterra. . . 

LIC flying in supplies for flood-hit farmers :

The critical spring mating period is underway on most of the country’s dairy farms, but heavy rain, slips and floodwaters have closed key roads in the South Island, making it difficult to reach a number of flood-hit farms and get the cows in-calf.

Despite the tough conditions, agritech and herd improvement co-operative LIC, the largest supplier of artificial breeding (AB) services to New Zealand’s dairy farms, is using small planes and helicopters to make sure semen straws are still delivered to farmers on time.

Around three out of four dairy cows mated to AB in New Zealand are from LIC’s bull semen. . . 

New Zealand blueberry growers anticipate another record season:

New Zealanders ate a record seven million punnets of fresh locally-grown blueberries last season and are expected to eat even more this summer as the main season gets underway.

Latest supermarket sales data shows Kiwis bought an extra one million punnets of blueberries (18.3% more) last summer compared to the year before, with total sales now exceeding $25 million.

New Zealand Olympian Eliza McCartney has signed on to be Blueberries’ NZ ambassador for the fourth year running and the organisation’s Chairman, Dan Peach, credits this high-profile partnership and general health trends for the big rise in sales. . . 

CC releases final report on Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on its annual review of Fonterra’s farm gate Milk Price Manual for the 2019/20 dairy season (Manual). The final report builds on our previous reviews of the Manual.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s 2019/20 Manual remains largely consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

“This year we have taken a look at the amendments to the Manual made by Fonterra and matters carried forward from our previous reviews. In our view Fonterra’s amendments to defined terms in the Manual improve clarity or are minor corrections. . . 


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