Rural round-up

09/12/2020

Natural fibres could be a game changer – Annette Scott:

The launch of a new natural fibre company is set to re-emerge wool and hemp to the forefront of a global sea-change in consumer preference.

In a move to innovate for a greener tomorrow, NZ Yarn, a subsidiary of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), and hemp processing company Hemp NZ have joined forces to create New Zealand D a natural fibres and materials business with global ambitions.

NZNF chair Craig Carr says the new company is aiming to be a pioneer in the global natural fibres revolution.

Products will be made from renewable NZ-grown hemp and wool, as well as blends of the two fibres using proprietary technology to prototype, produce and market a wide range of consumer and industrial options. . . 

How do we brand differently? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The marketers are telling us that they have no choice – but to pursue it.

Big names like Danone, Cargill and Walmart are all trying to show they are being environmentally responsible by sourcing regenerative agriculture (RA) products. Danone is planting trees to offset activities. Cargill is encouraging farmers to move from permanent cropping monocultures in areas bigger than most New Zealand farms to no-till rotations. Walmart is aiming for ‘beyond sustainability’ across its supply chain – including agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

To support the move, environmental auditors are growing in number. . . 

Getting off the land and into the waves – Rebecca Ryan:

North Otago and South Canterbury farmers are being encouraged to get off their farms and into the waves this summer.

Surfing for Farmers, a mental health initiative which helps farmers manage stress by teaching them to surf, started in Gisborne in 2018. It has since spread to 15 other locations across the country, and will launch in Kakanui at Campbells Bay on December 9.

Surfing for Farmers founder Stephen Thomson got the idea from the Netflix documentary Resurface, about US soldiers with PTSD using surfing to help their rehabilitation.

He secured some sponsorship from local businesses, found a surfing instructor and put the word out to local farmers. . . 

Proposal to bring bubbles of 300 RSE workers to Hastings for managed isolation – Marty Sharpe:

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is considering a proposal to turn a former Hastings motel into a Managed Isolation and Quarantine facility specifically for 300-strong bubbles of returning fruit pickers from the Pacific Islands.

The proposal was included in a plan submitted by Hawke’s Bay councils and local horticultural and viticultural industries to the government last month.

The industry and councils are concerned about the huge shortage of workers and the “significant social and economic impact for New Zealand and the Hawke’s Bay region”.

The RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme usually brings in 14,000 workers. The government has agreed to allow 2000 workers in under strict conditions. These would add to the 5000 still in the country, meaning there would be roughly half the usual number of RSE workers for the upcoming picking season. . . 

‘Meat the Need’ way for farmers to help most vulnerable – Sally Rae:

Farmers feed people.

That, as West Coast dairy farmer Siobhan O’Malley succinctly puts it, is their job. And, in the case of “Meat the Need”, the charity she co-founded, farmers are helping feed those particularly in need.

Last month, Mrs O’Malley and Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford received the industry champion award at the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards for Meat the Need, which kicked off during the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Originally focused on supplying meat to City Missions and foodbanks, Meat the Need receives meat given by farmers, which is then processed and packed by Silver Fern Farms and delivered. . . 

 

What if the United States stopped eating meat? – Frank Mitloehner:

If Americans’ gave up meat and other animal products, would that solve our climate crisis? Research says no. In fact, it continues to demonstrate giving up meat would be a woefully inadequate solution to the problem of global warming and distracts us from more impactful mitigation opportunities.

But that’s not what certain people, companies, and news outlets would have you believe. Businesses invested in plant-based alternatives and lab-grown meat continue to exaggerate the impact of animal agriculture in efforts to convert meat-eaters to their products, mostly in the name of environmental health. But if Americans choose to forgo meat, it would have a minimal and short-term impact on the climate.

In 2017, Professors Mary Beth Hall and Robin White published an article regarding the nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from U.S. agriculture. Imagining for a moment that Americans have eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they concluded such a scenario would lead to a reduction of a mere 2.6 percent in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the United States. Subscribing to Meatless Monday only would bring about a 0.3 percent decrease in GHG emissions, again in the U.S. A measurable difference to be sure, but far from a major one.

As an aside, the solely plant-based agriculture hypothesized by Professors Hall and White would result in various negative results, economic and nutritional among them. For example, we would be able to produce 23 percent more food by volume, but the plant-based food would fall short of delivering essential nutrients to the U.S. population, they concluded. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/09/2019

Our farmers are better than ‘No. 8 wire’ thinkers – Julia Jones:

The much-used Kiwi phrase ‘No. 8-wire mentality’ has long been considered the way we do things in the farming world, but Head of Analytics at NZX Julia Jones is wondering if its value has now expired.

Yes, “No. 8-wire mentality” is cute, and it’s a little bit funny, but what I hear when people say it is: not asking for help, roughly stringing something together without a plan, a rip-shit-and-bust kind of attitude, a default solution and a broken piece of wire holding something together within inches of its life.

I just don’t see how this is something for us to strive towards for the future; we deserve better than being seen as No. 8-wire thinkers, because we are far more than that. . .

Let’s get behind our rural community – Kerre McIvor:

A couple of years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a column calling for there to be a Cockietober – a month to celebrate farmers and their invaluable contribution to the economy.

I felt, back in 2017, that farmers had got a rough ride during the election campaign, and that farmers were getting it in the neck unfairly. They were being blamed for the poor water quality in New Zealand despite the fact that city dwellers are letting literal and metaphorical crap flow into their harbours and rivers. They were being told how to manage their stock by people who’d never set foot on a farm. They were told they didn’t pay their workers enough, they were being told they were destroying the planet by providing milk and meat for consumers, they were told they mistreated their animals.

I thought things were bad two years ago. But it appears things have got much, much worse.

In an open letter to the nation, BakerAg, a rural business consultancy firm, has called for people to get in behind our rural community. Director Chris Garland says morale among the company’s farming clients is as low now as it was in the Rogernomics years of the late 80s and during the GFC. . . 

Jigsaw has four families in picture – Annette Scott:

Four families working together presents challenges but equally it’s provided disproportionate opportunities for the Guild clan on High Peak Station, farm operations manager Hamish Guild says. Annette Scott visited High Peak to learn how the pieces of the large farming puzzle have come together. 

High Peak Station is a spectacular 3780 hectare, high-country farm near the Rakaia Gorge in Canterbury.

The Guild family bought the traditional pastoral farming property in 1973, originally running just sheep and beef with deer added in the late 1970s.

It was a case of having to look at a new way of making the property viable.

“Dad (James) and his brother Colin took up farming High Peak, moving from their family cropping farm at Temuka (South Canterbury) when their father, my grandfather Alastair, decided High Peak was for us,” Hamish said. . .

Farmers ‘dead keen’ to improve water practices – council – Alexa Cook:

A group of farmers near Whakatāne are working with the regional council to try and improve water quality by changing the way they farm.

Agribusiness consultant Ailson Dewes has gathered about 15 dairy farmers on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to understand more about how their farming systems can impact water quality.

Ms Dewes said the group was facing the issue head-on.

“They are sitting around the table, they are exposing all their numbers in terms of the health of their business, their environmental footprint, the way they farm – and they’re saying ‘we realise the way we farmed in the past is not the way we can farm in the future’.

“They are dead keen to solve problems and find new ways to farm with a lower footprint.” . . 

From Canton to Kerikeri: the varied life of Joe Ngan :

Joe Ngan was born in 1932 in a small village near Guangzhou in southern China.

He’s now 87 and lives near his two kiwifruit orchards in Kerikeri, Northland.

But getting to his home of 40 years was a scary and long-winded affair.

When Joe was two, his mother died while giving birth to his sister, leaving Joe and elder brother Sun virtually as orphans. Their father was working in New Zealand. . . 

No four pounds of beef doesn’t equal a transit-Atlantic flight – Frank Mitloehner and Darren Hudsonnk:

A story in The New Yorker came out this week about Dr. Pat Brown, the founder of Impossible Foods. If readers scan the headline and subhead, they’ll get the gist of what author Tad Friend is trying to say: “Can a plant based burger help solve climate change? Eating meat creates huge environmental costs. Impossible Foods thinks it has a solution.”

That’s unfortunate. It might even be dangerous. In the article, Mr. Friend writes that Every four pounds of beef you eat contributes to as much global warming as flying from New York to London – the average American eats that much each month.

If only. . .


Rural round-up

14/06/2019

Progress persists amidst disruption – Hugh Stringleman:

The growing focus on food as medicine is driving massive change in the agri-food industry, KPMG agri-food senior manager Emma Wheeler says.

Writing in the 2019 Agribusiness Agenda she said the health and wellness decade has begun and is bringing disruption through innovation and technological transformation.

Consumer needs and demands underpin the pace of change. . .

‘Hyper farm’ to aid land decision-making:

Agresearch has teamed up with Dunedin tech company Animation Research Ltd to help farmers see the future.

The partnership is part of a research programme – the New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age (NZBIDA) – which has been designed to enable transformational change to the country’s agricultural sector and supply chains.

As one strand of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded programme, Dr Seth Laurenson and Dr Remy Lasseur are designing a “hyper farm” using ARL’s world-renowned visualisation technology.

It helped landowners to see what their properties would look like as a result of any changes as well as understand how changes would affect water quality, finances, carbon sequestration and biodiversity among other factors. . .

Feds finds useful policy ideas in National’s paper:

Federated Farmers is heartened that workforce issues are identified as a hot topic in the National Party’s ‘Primary Sector Discussion Document’, released today.

National is proposing better promotion of primary sector careers and increased vocational training opportunities. It is also floating the idea of an Agriculture Visa for migrant workers and nine-month dairy farm placements under an expanded RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme.

“Picking up on serious and persistent sector concerns, National also says it wants feedback on how to make Immigration NZ more responsive and accessible to employers facing labour shortages,” Federated Farmers Dairy chair and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says. . . 

Fonterra and farm leaders gripe at O’Connor’s DIRA decision – Greenpeace is even more grouchy – Point of Order:

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor didn’t win too many new friends  (and may have lost some) with his  decision  on the review of  the  Dairy Industry Restructuring  Act, the  2001  legislation  which set up  Fonterra  supposedly to   become  a  “ national  champion”.   

We  all know  how  that  has turned out.

So   what were the reactions to  O’Connor’s  latest  move to improve the  legislation  which initially had the  objective of  “promoting  the efficiency  of  NZ  dairy markets”?. .. 

New appointed director for Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board has appointed Dr Bruce Campbell, of Tai Tokerau Northland, as an appointed director.

Dr Campbell is experienced in governance, innovation, talent development and the future development of a wide range of horticulture sectors and was, until 2018, the Chief Operating Officer at Plant & Food Research. He has a particular interest in building partnerships with Māori to create new food businesses and also in growing career pathways to get talented people into horticulture. . .

Large rise in meat and dairy manufacturing:

The largest rise for five years in volumes of meat and dairy products drove manufacturing up for the second quarter in a row, Stats NZ said.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.0 percent in the March 2019 quarter, after a 2.4 percent rise in the December 2018 quarter. It was led by a strong 11 percent rise in meat and dairy products manufacturing. . .

Helping New Zealand farmers take care of our land:

New Zealand’s green reputation is one of this country’s strongest selling points, but how to manage the relationship between farming and the environment is complex and controversial.

How do we support New Zealand farmers transition to a more environmentally friendly and economically sustainable future?

The clamour to act urgently on climate change is adding pressure on farmers to manage environmental sustainability, but farmers often have to make trade-offs between what they want to develop and what’s affordable. . .

 


Rural round-up

07/02/2019

Drought bites crops in Tasman with little respite forecast for growers – Katy Jones:

Growers are battling to keep crops alive on the Waimea Plains as the drought continues to bite in Tasman district, with no sign of a significant break in the prolonged dry spell.

Irrigators this week saw the amount of water they were allowed to take from catchments on the plains cut by 50 per cent, as the Waimea River dropped to its lowest level for this time of year since the “Big Dry” in 2001.

High winds at the end of last month compounded growers’ woes, further drying out land already parched by a lack of rain and high temperatures. . . 

Court to decide official location of a riverbank – Eric Frykberg:

Where does the bed of a river end and adjacent farmland begin? That is not an easy question to answer, when dealing with braided rivers that often change course.

However, the Court of Appeal will now get the chance to decide the official location of a riverbank.

The problem began in 2017 when a farmer was prosecuted for doing earthworks in the bed of the Selwyn River, in mid Canterbury.

Although he pleaded guilty, the case gave rise to debate about how wide a braided river actually was.

The District Court sided with Environment Canterbury and ruled a river was as big as the area covered by the river’s waters at their fullest flow. . .

Ravensdown CEO agrees farmers have sometimes applied too much fertiliser – Gerard Hutching:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown says it is trying to persuade farmers to use less nitrogen and concedes that in the past too much has been applied “in some cases.”

However it has recently developed new products which result in less nitrogen being lost to the atmosphere or leaching into the soil where it ends up in waterways.

Greenpeace has demanded the Government ban chemical nitrogen because it claims it causes river pollution. It has created billboards accusing Ravensdown and its competitor Ballance Agri-Nutrients of polluting rivers. . . 

Group ignores fertiliser facts – Alan Emerson:

Driving out of Auckland I saw a huge billboard with the message: Ravensdown and Ballance pollute rivers.

How can that be, I thought, but then I noted the billboard was put there by Greenpeace and Greenpeace never lets the facts get in the way of its prejudices.

Starting at the top, the two fertiliser companies don’t pollute rivers, they sell fertilisers, so factually it is wrong.

According to my dictionary pollute means contaminate with poisonous or harmful substances or to make morally corrupt or to desecrate.

How, then, can Ravensdown and Ballance pollute? . . 

Change constant in 50-year career – Ken Muir:

When you have worked for more than 50 years in the rural sector, change is a constant and for Andrew Welsh, an agribusiness manager at Rabobank in Southland, this has included everything from the model of car he was supplied with to the way he communicates with co-workers and his clients.

Mr Welsh said farming was in his DNA.

”My great grandparents farmed in South Otago and Opotiki, and going further back than that our relatives had farmed in County Durham before coming out to Hawkes Bay.”

He started in the industry at the bottom, he said.

”When I started at Wright Stephenson’s in Gore in 1968 as an office junior, I was everybody’s general dogsbody.” . . 

 

Halter targets April launch date

Kiwi agritech start-up Halter expects to commercially launch its unique GPS-enabled cow collars in April.

“We have just finished setting up our production line in China and we have had our first collars off the line come back,” chief executive and founder Craig Piggott told the Young Farmers conference.

“We are targeting April as our commercial launch. It’s all happening very quickly.”

Auckland-based Halter has developed the collar, which allows cows to be guided around a farm using a smartphone app. . . 


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