Rural round-up

January 23, 2018

Record lamb and mutton receipts and second highest for beef:

Red meat export receipts reached a record high for the December quarter of the 2017-18 season, according to an analysis by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service.

The record was driven by high export volumes and average Free-on-Board (FOB) per tonne at record values for lamb and mutton, and near record values for beef, while the New Zealand dollar (NZD) has remained relatively strong.

Andrew Burtt, B+LNZ chief economist, said lamb and mutton farm-gate prices were up 30% and 59% respectively for the first quarter of the season (October-December 2017) compared to the previous season. Cattle prices were relatively steady – up 5%. . . 

MPI says disease is contained – Annette Scott:

Despite the growing number of properties testing positive for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) remains adamant it has the disease contained.

MPI on Wednesday confirmed three new infected properties, two in Southland and one at Ashburton, bringing the total number of properties testing positive to 17, including one in Hawke’s Bay.

The number of restricted place notice properties is 34 and the number of properties for casing is 206. . . 

Fonterra ‘extremely disappointed’ as Beingmate’s forecast loss widens, again – Jamie Gray:

Fonterra says it is “extremely disappointed” that China’s Beingmate Baby & Child Food, in which it has an 18.8 per cent stake, has issued another earnings downgrade – this time to a loss of $171-$214 million for the December 2017 year.

The previous forecast was for a loss of RMB350m to RMB500m ($75m to $107m).

Fonterra said it was assessing the implications the loss would have on its first half result.

“As an investor in Beingmate, we are extremely disappointed by this announcement and the on-going performance of the company,” Fonterra said in a statement. . .

Mackay vs McKay in celebrity shears:

Jamie Mackay will be back at Waimumu to defend his speed shear title, this time going head to head with Rural Exchange presenter and former sports commentator Hamish McKay.

The inaugural Southern Field Days Speed Shears, held at the 2016 event, had The Country presenter Jamie Mackay go head to head with National leader Bill English.

Mackay walked away with bragging rights and he is coming south to compete again in this year’s “Celebrity Shear Off”. . .

Farm groups back TPP deal as Australia, Japan issue new March deadline – Kelsey Johnson:

Canadian farm groups are doubling down on their support for the revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wants the multilateral trade deal finalized by March — with or without Canada and Mexico.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has been in negotiation since the United States pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership last January. Eleven members nations are involved in the discussions, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and Canada.

During a state visit to Japan this week, Turnbull said Australia and Japan want the new agreement finalized and an agreement-in-principle signed by March, according to reports from The Australian Financial Review. . . 

Advertisements

Rural-round-up

January 21, 2018

Perendale tops sale at $8,600 – Sally Rae:

South Otago farmers Howie and Marion Gardner topped the South Island ram fair in Gore this week, selling a Perendale ram for $8600.

It was bought by the McKelvie family, from Wyndham, and Mike McElrea, from Edievale.

It was a solid sale for Perendales as 37 rams sold for an average of $2686. Richard and Kerry France, from Moa Flat, achieved the second-top price, $8500, for a ram sold to Fernvale Genetics.

Carrfields Otago genetics representative Roger Keach said the  two-day sale was sound but not spectacular, with a lot of good rams not finding homes. . . 

Increase in farm sales bucks trend – Nicole Sharp:

Southland was one of two regions with increased farm sales at the end of 2017.

Data released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) showed for the three months ended November 2017, Southland had seven more farm sales than in the same period in 2016.

Taranaki was the  only other region to record an increase, with one more farm sale for the three months ended November 2017 than for the same period in 2016.

REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said while the sales volume for the three-month period ended November 2017 showed a significant easing from the same period in 2015 and 2016, the figures, except for Southland and Taranaki, reflected the anticipated increase in volumes from the previous month of October for dairy, finishing and grazing properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: David Clark – Claire Inkson:

Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Mid Canterbury Proud Farmer David Clark.

1. How long have you been farming?
I grew up in the North Island and left school at the end of the 6th Form at a time when farming in New Zealand was very tough coming out of the ’80s downturn. I was very fortunate to be employed by the Cashmore Family at Orere, SE of Auckland. It was during this time that my employers showed me by example that there was a future in farming if you worked hard and did things well, this set me on my course.

2. What sort of farming were you involved in?
My parents had been both Town Milk Dairy and Sheep and Beef Farmers and I was determined to make a start for myself so started contract fencing which then led into a wider range of Agricultural Contracting activities. In 1994 my parents sold their farm and I sold my contracting business and we pooled our resources and purchased a dryland sheep property at Valetta, inland Mid Canterbury. . . 

Barn farmer got the very best advice – Nigel Malthus:

Pareora dairy farmer Peter Collins has paid tribute to the man at the centre of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in helping him set up his huge new dairy barn system.

“I was very lucky to have Aad Van Leeuwen to help me with it,” says Collins.

Collins converted his 800ha farm 10km south of Timaru about three years ago and built the 1200-capacity freestall barn two years ago. The farm now milks 1200 cows, including some winter milkers, and supplies the Oceania Dairy milk powder plant at Glenavy.

With the efficiencies afforded by the barn they are on track to produce 600kgMS/cow this season. . .

Record temperatures bring challenges for livestock and farmers:

With New Zealand experiencing record-breaking heatwaves this summer, AgResearch scientists say farmed animals can be susceptible and the pressure is on farmers to manage it.

The extreme temperatures across the country include the hottest recorded temperature in Dunedin and Invercargill over recent days. The increased heat and humidity raises issues of not only the welfare of livestock, but also production from those animals.

Fortunately extensive research over the last 15 years at AgResearch into dairy cows, and how they cope with the heat, has provided important insights for animal management, says senior scientist Dr Karin Schütz. . . 

Fonterra welcomes research findings that milk matters for healthy Kiwi kids:

Fonterra welcomes the findings of a Massey University that show a high proportion of young Kiwi kids are getting the goodness of dairy nutrition by drinking milk.

The research, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, showed 88 per cent of young children in New Zealand regularly consume cow’s milk and there was no relationship between full-fat milk consumption and the risk of children being overweight from drinking it.

Fonterra General Manager Nutrition Angela Rowan said the Co-operative supports the Ministry of Health guidelines which recommend reduced and low fat varieties for those two years and older. . . 

ASX-listed Bod Australia signs deal to produce hemp-based mānuka honey – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bod Australia has signed an agreement with mānuka honey producer Manuka Pharma to produce a hemp-based honey product line.

Bod, a developer and distributor of cosmetics and natural medicines, is aiming to develop a range of over-the-counter and therapeutic products using cannabis extracts. It says it’s building a sustainable, multi-faceted cannabis business through a deal with Swiss manufacturer Linnea Natural Pharma Solutions. The honey agreement will see Manuka Pharma source, develop and manufacture the product, with Bod then importing the honey to Australia and packaging it for sale. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 19, 2018

Request to farmers as rivers dwindle – John Lewis:

Farmers across Otago are being asked to conserve water, with some rivers across the region dropping to their lowest levels on record.

Otago Regional Council data for October-December 2017 shows ”extremely dry” weather conditions in Central Otago and part of South Otago, and ”moderately dry” conditions for the rest of Otago.

ORC engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said some areas had particularly low rainfall and the present spell of dry weather, combined with little snow cap to augment river levels from snow melt last year, meant most Otago river levels were low compared to average levels for this time of the year. . . 

Cashmere ‘renaissance’ under way – Sally Rae:

Buoyed by the quality of cashmere produced by goats on their Clinton farm, David and Robyn Shaw believe the fibre offers an “amazing opportunity” for New Zealand farmers.

For the past 35 years, they have been working quietly behind the scenes to now be producing fibre they consider of equal quality to the best in the world.

Mr and Mrs Shaw, who have formed New Zealand Cashmere, recently announced a commercialisation programme with luxury lifestyle brand Untouched World and yarn manufacturer Woolyarns. . . 

New Far CEO well versed in industry – Sally Rae:

Alison Stewart has been appointed chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research (Far).

Dr Stewart, who is general manager forest science at Scion, takes over in mid-March from founding chief executive Nick Pyke, who has led the organisation since 1995.

Last year, Mr Pyke signalled his intention to step down from the role, saying making the decision was not easy but the time was right.

Far is an applied research and information transfer organisation responsible primarily to arable growers. . . 

A2 to roll out US business to eastern seaboard -Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co plans to roll out its US business to nine states on the eastern seaboard, which it expects will expand its retail footprint by more than a third.

Auckland-based, Sydney-headquarter a2 is targeting 60 million Americans who account for about a fifth of milk consumption in the world’s biggest economy, adding New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine to the states it services in the US, it said in a statement. The milk marketer’s a2 branded milk has been accepted by a number of retailers in the region, which will this month expand its presence to about 5,000 retail stores across the US from the previous 3,600 stores. . . 

Fonterra helps farmers with green plans:

Environment Canterbury has confirmed that Fonterra’s farm environment plan template has met the requirements of the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The Fonterra template will make the process of designing a farming environmental plan (FEP) a lot easier, says Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield.

FEPs are unique to a property and reflect the local climate and soils, the type of farming operation, and the goals and aspirations of the land user. . . 

Somatic cell to be added into cow Production Worth:

The equivalent of currency for cows will be updated in February to better reflect the industry’s focus on efficient, high quality milk production.

Production Worth, or PW, is an economic index calculated for all New Zealand dairy cows as an estimate of their lifetime production ability. It helps farmers identify the top performers in their herd, to decide which cow’s to keep, cull and assist in determining a value for buying or selling.

Four traits currently contribute to the PW calculation – milk volume, milk fat, protein and liveweight. A fifth trait will be added in February – somatic cell. . . 

d


Rural round-up

January 18, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis is unlikely to go away – Keith Woodford:

It now seems likely that Mycoplasma bovis is in New Zealand to stay. Just like the rest of the world, we must learn how to live with it. We do not yet have to give up totally on hopes of eradication, but eradication is looking more and more unlikely.

The control program has suffered from incorrect information and poor communication, and there is much to be learned from that. These information flaws have affected farmer and public attitudes. In some cases, this has created additional and unnecessary stress, and unfair criticism of individuals.

However, the probability is that these flaws have not affected the success or failure of the eradication program. The chances are that Mycoplasma bovis has been here for some years, in which case eradication was always going to be impossible. . .

Plants dying as drought threatens vegetable and fruit supplies to shoppers – Pat Deavoll:

Droughts are threatening the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables on shopping shelves and storing water in dams would rectify this, says Horticulture New Zealand.

“Relying on water to fall from the sky simply isn’t enough,” said HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman. “HortNZ believes we should be more proactive in capturing and storing that water to ensure sustainability of supply during times of drought.”

Chapman said the dry conditions of early summer were putting fruit and vegetable growers under pressure to the point where some of them were having to make decisions about which plants and trees they would plant or harvest. . . 

Kiwi-born Nasa scientist for CSST – Pam Jones:

An award-winning Nasa scientist has been appointed director of research for the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST).

The appointment of Delwyn Moller was announced yesterday.

Dr Moller was born and raised in the Waikato, studied at the University of Auckland and went on to design and implement technology for Nasa space missions. She will be moving to Central Otago from Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

CSST chief executive Steve Cotter said Dr Moller’s contribution would be invaluable to CSST and to New Zealand as a whole. . . 

Ask a farmer, we don’t hate you – Pete Fitzherbert:

It must be so easy for the average New Zealander to just start again at the end of one year and begin another – make some resolutions, forget about them within the week, and then if you are feeling a little overweight just go down to the food court at the local mall and problem solved, because compared to the fatty at the smorgasbord you are an athlete!

It’s fair to say it is not as easy for your average farmer. Our seasons roll over without ever having a definitive start or finish.

So, what kind of New Year resolutions or hopes could we have? The best we can do sometimes is hope for the best, plan for the worst and the rest of the time play it as it lays.

Maybe we could hope the next year brings the chance to take off a couple of those public holidays.

Maybe hope for a totally average year in every way, or hope that we can farm, just farm, to the best the season presents us with without the public scrutiny that has begun to develop around agriculture.

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers? . . 

Fonterra partners with Alibaba’s Hema Fresh to launch fresh milk product into China:

Fonterra has launched a new fresh milk product in China in partnership with Hema Fresh, Alibaba’s innovative new retail concept which combines traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping with a digital experience.

The new Daily Fresh milk range is now available in Hema’s 14 stores in Shanghai and Suzhou in 750mL bottles, sourced directly from Fonterra’s farm hub in Hebei province. The product boasts unique product labels to match each day of the week in order to emphasise freshness, with stock being replenished overnight ready for each new day.

Initial volumes are currently around three metric tonnes daily, with plans to scale-up over time and expand with the retailer as it rapidly grows its footprint of stores across China. . . 

A blast from the Haast – NZ’s most isolated town – Sarah Harris:

Of the 240 people who call Haast home there’s one policeman, 13 students at the only school, one electrician who is trying to retire and no plumber. If one comes to town residents chase him down the road.

There’s also no doctor – one comes once a fortnight. If there’s a medicial emergency a helicopter can land on the school field.

A drive to the closest supermarket is two hours away and the nearest hospital in Greymouth is a four-hour drive or 90 minute flight. . . 

Can we keep our country shows alive? – Alex Druce:

IT’s been nearly two years since Wingham last held a country show and organisers are determined to get it right.

“We had to go back to the drawing board, and we’ve got some pretty exciting new things,” says press officer Elaine Turner. 

“For starters, there’s the piggy races. And the demolition derby is going to be on again too . Everyone loves that.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 17, 2018

Sunflower fundraiser set to raise funds for struggling farmers – Deena Coster:

Selling a flower which is synonymous with sunshine is helping give hope to struggling farmers.

In mid-November, Taranaki farmer Will Fleming planted about 500 sunflower seeds around the outside of one of his paddocks, and by next week the distinctive flowers will be on sale.

The money raised from selling off the sunflowers will go directly to the Taranaki Rural Support Trust (TRST). . . 

Pacific leader honoured for work in dairy industry and Manawatū community – Paul Mitchell:

Palatasa Havea​ is still trying to get his head around what it means to be a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The Palmerston North man received the honour for a life-time of work in dairy industry research and his selfless dedication to the Pacific community in the New Year Honours List.

Havea was surprised and humbled by the appointment. But he wasn’t that familiar with the Royal Honours system, what responsibilities came with it, or that he’d done enough to deserve the recognition.

As a senior research scientist at Fonterra his work has resulted in a new manufacturing process for whey protein products and several patents for the company. . . 

Farmers are off to a good 2018 start in spite of unusual weather this summer – Bill Wright:

The year has got off to a good start and the rain on the roof as I sit and write this is music to my ears – as it will be for all but arable farmers trying to harvest crops and parents trying to keep children entertained.

It has been an unusual season, with what seems to be rapid swings between wet and dry, but the fodder beet, kale and maize crops on our farm are all looking great. The maize is a relatively new inclusion in our system and is proving valuable as cattle feed over the late summer.

All our finishing cattle were gone before Christmas, and we are getting lambs away at good weights. . .

South Canterbury farmer’s cricket pitch reports hit it out of the park – Al Williams:

Glenavy has produced an unlikely social media star who is bowling them over with his infectious sense of humour.

From the tiny South Canterbury town on the banks of the Waitaki River, Ross ‘Rous’ McCulloch Glenavy Cricket Club captain, Glenavy Volunteer Fire Brigade member, Rural Bachelor of the Year finalist, sheep farmer and online larrikin is attracting clicks with his classic Kiwi humour.

McCulloch, with the help of his cricket team-mate, opening batsman, camera operator, dairy farmer and fellow fire brigade member Jackson Henshaw, files weekly “pitch reports” to the club’s Facebook page – all tongue-in-cheek – but their efforts on and offline are paying dividends for their community.   . . 

2018 Dairy Industry Award activity heats up as entrants prepare for judging:

While many people have had a rest from the stresses of work over the Christmas and New Year break, the reality can be different for farmers.

Summer is a busy time in the farming calendar, and General Manager of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Chris Keeping says it is just as important for farmers to take a break as any other person.

“Farming is a 24/7 commitment, and it is vital that farmers find time to rest and relax with family and friends,” she said. . . 

Station rebuild from the ground up – Jamie Brown:

Marango Station, bordering gorge country adjacent to Guy Fawkes River east of Ebor, has undergone a facelift of massive proportions.

When three investors bought the 3800 hectare freehold and lease hold holding two years ago they put a young cattleman Mick Kelsall in position of manager. This 33 year old’s boundless energy has helped drive substantial change.

He credits his family and grandfather Jim, ‘Kahona’ Hernani and other properties, as his first mentor and these days leans on Dorrigo agent Tim Bayliss for constant feedback. . . 

Engender moves to commercialisation of genetic dairy technology, targets US market – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Engender Technologies, the agricultural technology company spun out of Auckland University, is moving to scale up its sex-selection product for the dairy industry to full commercialisation in the next 18 months and is targeting the US$2 billion dairy artificial insemination industry.

Co-founded by the University of Auckland and seed investment company Pacific Channel in 2011, Engender has secured option-to-license agreements for its technology with three of the world’s largest artificial insemination companies, has successfully concluded laboratory trials and is preparing for scaling commercialization, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. In August, the company’s first key patent was allowed in the US and its patent attorneys have confidence that it will be granted in its other key markets, it said. . . 


Rural round-up

January 8, 2018

They need to be able to have a life’: Mother’s plea after farmer son’s death – Kelly Dennett:

Last month Gail Harris spent a night with her sons watching movies, cooking dinner, and listening to them play video games while she dozed on the couch.

As her youngest, Colby Harris, left the Hamilton home for the Huntly farm he worked on, she said a sleepy goodbye. Opening her eyes shortly afterward she realised Colby was still there, watching her.

“I said, ‘Are you okay, Son?’ And he said, ‘Yup’.”

It was the last conversation they had. The only inkling of something amiss. . . 

Westland Milk – closing the gap on dairy’s big brother – Jamie Gray:

Hokitika-based Westland Milk fell behind its far larger competitor, Fonterra, in 2016. Under new chief executive Toni Brendish, the co-op is closing the gap.
Extreme volatility in world dairy markets has taken its toll on companies around the world, and Westland Milk has been no exception.

The co-op turned in a $17 million loss over 2016/17 and its payout — at $5.18 per kg of milksolids — was the lowest of all the Kiwi dairy companies. . . 

Farming for the next generation – Michael Grove:

The age of acceleration
For anyone wondering what the focus of this year’s Oxford Farming Conference might be, it was The Archers provided an answer just before Christmas.

Brian Aldridge asked his step-son, Adam, whether he might be attending the conference. Adam replied wearily. ‘I think I’ll give it a miss this year. It’s probably going to be all about Brexit. I get enough of that at home.’

I know how he feels.

I suspect everyone in this room knows how he feels.

And, of course, I’ll say something in a moment about the specific opportunities and challenges for agriculture on leaving the European Union. . .

Yes we have no bananas but monoculture wasn’t so easy to avoid – Steven Savage:

In 1923, Frank Silver and Irving Cohn published a song that became a major hit for the Billy Jones Orchestra, with the signature line “Yes, we have no bananas; we have no bananas today.” It turned out to be sadly prophetic as, in the 1950s, the banana trees that supplied the entire global banana export business were wiped out by a soil-borne fungal disease known as “Panama Wilt.”

The industry at that time was almost entirely based on a single banana cultivar called “Gros Michel” (meaning “Big Mike”), and it was susceptible to infection by a strain of fungus called Fusarium. Once the soil of a given plantation was contaminated with that strain, any Gros Michel tree grown there would soon die.

By good fortune, a different banana cultivar that was being grown in the South Seas was able to substitute for Gros Michel as a commercial line, and this new “Cavendish” cultivar became the new banana of international commerce, as it remains to this day. . .

Speech to the Oxford Farming Conference – Mark Lynas:

Five years ago, almost to this very day, I stood before you and offered an apology for my earlier anti-GMO activism. Today I want to do something different.

Whereas my 2013 speech was something of a declaration of war against my former colleagues in the anti-GMO scene, today I want to offer an olive branch, to map out the contours of a potential peace treaty.

For me it’s been a very intense five years. The 2013 speech really did change my life in ways I had never anticipated. I was accused of having been the global founder of the anti-GMO movement, and my stance was compared with being a rapist by one well known activist.

I don’t like to run away from a fight, so since then I’ve devoted myself pretty much full time to the GMO issue. I’ve been to numerous countries in Africa and Asia and met farmers, scientists, activists and others on both sides of this very contentious debate. . . 


Rural round-up

January 4, 2018

Wanaka fire will take days to put out – Sam Nugent:

Wanaka residents woke to see the fire on Roys Peak had reignited on two separate fronts overnight.

Since first light eight helicopters with monsoon buckets have been attacking the fire.

Fire crews from Wanaka, Hawea, Luggate, Dunstan and Arrowtown have been working overnight to protect homes on the outskirts of Wanaka from a blaze which authorities say could take at least two days to put out.

Around 3am, after the fire flared up again late yesterday evening, crews and police were preparing to evacuate about 30 homes as well as the occupants of the Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park as a precaution due to a wind shift.

However, conditions had changed again and as at 4.30am the fire was not currently burning towards houses. . . 

Fed Farmers urge govt to reconsider irrigation loans – Conan Young:

The new government is being urged not to follow through on its promise to cancel any new loans to irrigation schemes.

Its predecessor pledged $400 million from the sale of state assets towards helping schemes get off the ground as a way to boost economic growth, but all of that was about to end.

Picking up on discontent among voters over declining water quality, Labour campaigned on a water levy on farmers using irrigation and promised to wind up Crown Irrigation Investments, the company that was formed to provide bridging finance to irrigation schemes. . .

Fonterra lowers NZ milk collection forecast for this season on dry weather – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group expects to collect 3 percent less milk from its New Zealand suppliers this season than it did in the prior season as dry weather stunts grass growth and lowers milk production.

Auckland-based Fonterra revised its forecast for its New Zealand milk collection for the current 2017/18 season to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids, down 3 percent from the 1,525 million kgMS it collected in the 2016/17 season, it said. In December it had forecast milk collection would be in line with the previous season. . . 

Rabobank Analysis – GDT Event 203:

Commentary
A mixed result in the commodity bag overnight; but generally a positive auction for New Zealand farmers with the average price index at the GDT auction for up 2.2%. Importantly, the WMP index was up 4.2% taking it to its highest level since October 2017. A total 25,400t of product was sold.

As many of you would be aware, Fonterra has revised its milk intake for the 2017/18 season twice in the past few weeks. Right now Fonterra are predicting milk intake of 1,480 million kgMS – which is down 4% on the 2016/2017 season. The risk of drought flagged in the latest GDQ has clearly come into play. . . 

The hidden powers of a sheep – Judith D. Schwartz:

While the fashion industry continues to produce more and more clothes made from synthetics, we’ve ignored the wonders of wool. Not only is wool unusually cozy and durable, but its creators (the sheep) can also help regenerate the world’s drying, fire-prone landscapes. The good news: a wool revival seems to be underway.

In the early nineteenth century, 70 percent of the forests in my home state of Vermont were cleared, primarily for sheep farming. Vermont’s “merino mania” had begun just a few years earlier, in 1809, when William Jarvis, U.S. Consul to Portugal under Thomas Jefferson, took advantage of Spain’s turmoil under Napoleon’s invasion to import 200 of Spain’s prized Royal Escorial flock. It turned out that our rocky soil and hilly terrain suited sheep farming just fine; Jarvis soon smuggled in more and more Spanish sheep, and, for a time, Vermont became the center of the American wool trade.

At its peak, in 1840, the industry supported more than 100,000 sheep in the town of Bennington, where I live. Our own property was reportedly once a sheep farm. We still have sections of stone wall that marked the pasture boundary. Today there’s barely a handful of small sheep farms left in the county. So, too, with the wool industry at large. Across the country, wool mills—once an American mainstay—have all but disappeared. . . 

Dairies are awash in organic milk as consumers flock to alternatives – Heather Haddon & Benjamin Parkin:

Organic milk sales have cooled as the very shoppers who drove demand for the specialty product not long ago move on to newer alternatives, leaving dairy sellers and producers grappling with oversupply.

A yearslong surge in demand prompted food companies and dairy farmers to invest in organic production, which requires eschewing pesticides and antibiotics and allowing cows to graze freely. Now organic milk supplies have ballooned just as demand has stalled. Many shoppers have moved on to substitutes such as almond “milk” . . .


%d bloggers like this: