Rural round-up

August 13, 2019

Ground-breaking milestone for Waimea Community Dam project – Tim O’Connell:

There was excitement in spades for backers of the Waimea Community Dam with Friday’s ground-breaking ceremony signalling the start of excavation on the controversial $104.4 million project.

It will take twice as long as initially expected and cost four times as much to construct, but for those who travelled to the Lee Valley site, about 36 kilometres south-east of Nelson, there was a sense of relief and determination to see a successful outcome for the future of Tasman. 

The $104 million Waimea Dam project was rubber-stamped in November after a lively six-hour meeting where Tasman district councillors voted 9-5 to proceed. . .

Gums swallow up prime land – Terry Brosnahan:

Forestry has ripped the heart out of a small Southland community.

In the mid-1990s Waimahaka near Wyndham was one of a number of areas where farms were sold and planted out in eucalypt trees.

It was good money for those selling but the three-teacher school was the heart of a thriving community both of which were devastated.

Waimahaka school had a roll of 70 and three teachers before the trees came. When the farms sold the families left the district. It had only four pupils by the time it closed in 2013. . .

Community or carbon? – Rebecca Harper:

Like many small rural communities in New Zealand, Tiraumea has been declining for years. De-population has been exacerbated by farm amalgamations and technology, and concerned locals fear the recent flurry of farm sales to
forestry may prove the final nail in the coffin. Rebecca Harper reports.

Blink and you might miss it. There’s not much left in Tiraumea, located on Highway 52 between Alfredton and Pongaroa, in the Tararua District. Once a thriving rural community, mostly sheep and beef farmers and their families, numbers are dwindling.

The school closed in 2012, though the lone 100-year oak stands proudly in what used to be the school grounds. The hall is still there, along with the rural fire service shed and domain, but that’s about it.

In the last year a number of farms have been sold, either to forestry or manuka, with no new families moving in to replace those lost, and those left are concerned about the impact of mass pine tree plantings. . . 

Deer role challenging and rewarding – Sally Rae:

Challenging and rewarding – “probably in that order” – is how Dan Coup describes his tenure at Deer Industry New Zealand.

Mr Coup is leaving DINZ in October, after just over six years in the role, to become chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

When he joined the organisation, confidence among producers was generally low and farmers were leaving the industry, frustrated at the state of profitability.

Looking at the state of the industry now, it was “definitely better” and that was due to several factors. . .

Hawke’s Bay apple industry invests in accommodation for seasonal workers

The Hawke’s Bay apple industry says investing tens of millions of dollars in housing for staff will also help the hundreds of people in the region needing emergency accommodation.

It’s aiming to have 1592 new beds ready for next year by extensively renovating existing dwellings and building new accommodation.

The region needs enough places to house the 5400 seasonal workers it needs from the Pacific to work in next year’s harvest.

Gary Jones from the Hawke’s Bay Seasonal Labour Group said the industry was spending nearly $40 million at $25,000 a bed to house all its workers. . . 

Are cattle in the US causing a rise in global warming? – Alan Rotz & Alex Hristov:

Over the past decade, we have seen the media place blame for our changing climate on cattle. Scientific evidence does not support this claim though for cattle in the United States.  

Cattle produce a lot of methane gas, primarily through enteric fermentation and fermentation of their manure. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that, along with nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and some other compounds in the atmosphere, create a blanket around our planet. This is good; without this atmospheric blanket, the earth would be too cold for us to survive. The current problem is that concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere are increasing, which is thickening our blanket. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 8, 2019

Concerns over farmers’ approach to financial wellbeing – Alan Wills:

Financial resilience of some businesses in our farming community is a real concern.

Alarm bells rang for me after a recent comment from a rural consultant was aired. He told me he was organising finance for some of his clients because Fonterra had re-adjusted the advance payment rate.

The payout prediction and the advanced payments are still based on $6-plus. . . 

Fears part of bumper apple crop could be lost :

New Zealand’s apple growers fear a bumper crop coupled with a shortage of workers could mean some of the summer harvest is lost.

The group New Zealand Apples and Pears, which represents the pip fruit industry, wants the government to step in and allow tourists to pick fruit without a working visa.

Group spokesperson Gary Jones said this could happen if the government declares a seasonal labour shortage in the country’s primary apple growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

This would allow overseas visitors in the country on tourist visas to work in the horticulture industry without obtaining the usual work permits. . . 

Will cheese become New Zealand’s next craft beer? – Kevin Jenkins:

I once read that before World War I, back before decades of blander mass production, New Zealand seed catalogues looked a lot more like they do in the 21st century, with much more variety. People were growing endive and cavolo nero, for example, and lots of interesting fruits.

But with one of the highest mortality rates among countries who participated in the war, followed by a deadly flu epidemic and then the Great Depression a decade later, it’s no wonder that from the 1920s New Zealand focused on survival … and therefore on potatoes, cabbages and the accursed mashed swede.

In parallel, better transport links and better refrigeration and mass production led to lots of our food industries consolidating. Local dairy factories progressively closed and companies combined until eventually Fonterra emerged as the behemoth it is today. Local breweries followed the same path until DB and Lion shared most of the market. Flour and bread, seafood, vegetables, canned fruit … all followed suit. . . 

Ideas coming thick and fast at RMPP Action Network :

Farmers are reported to have joined a Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group at Rangiwahia to upskill the people in their businesses and boost their profitability.

Eight farm businesses in northern Manawatu have joined the RMPP Action Network to learn from each other and various experts.

Murray Curtis, who hosted the action group’s third meeting, welcomes the opportunity to “be part of a group that gets you thinking and gives you ideas you can put into action on your farm”. . . 

Farmers urged not to forget TB:

Farmers, especially in the South Island, are being reminded that while Mycoplasma bovis has captured headlines, TB is a continuing problem in small pockets of the country.

Kevin Crews, head of disease management for OSPRI (manager of the TB-free programme) says outbreaks have spiked in the Strath-Taieri (Otago) area, with “niggles” in the last two to three years.

TB has been found in ferrets, pigs and possums in the area and work is underway to see whether it is related to the incidence in cattle herds. . . 

Pig rearing to return to rural school following vegan backlash

Keeping pigs on a rural Hampshire school farm to show children how food is produced is to return following vegan backlash which temporarily axed it.

The pigs are kept in Priestlands School grounds, in Lymington, and the practice of rearing them on-site seeks to educate the children where food comes from, and how it is made, from farm-to-fork.

But a petition spearheaded by a vegan campaign group in January sought to axe the scheme, and the school temporarily stopped rearing pigs for a short while to avoid vegan upset. . . 


If locals won’t work

March 15, 2018

An urgent call for fruit pickers in Hawkes Bay attracted just 14 applicants.

A concerted effort to find fruit pickers in Hawke’s Bay saw just 14 people express an interest and has resulted in the declaration of a regional labour shortage . . .

Gary Jones of Pipfruit NZ said the low unemployment rate meant there was strong competition for workers.

“There are at least 350 registered vacancies at the moment. The real number is likely to be higher than that,” Jones. . . .

Monday’s declaration means visitors presently in the country who did not have a work visa would be able to apply for a variation to their visitor’s visa allowing them to undertake seasonal work in the horticulture/viticulture industries for 6 weeks.

“This will now enable us to access as many available seasonal workers as possible to help harvest our fruit crops in Hawke’s Bay. Once the season is over, employers will be looking to offer permanent jobs to suitable New Zealand workers,” Jones said.

Jones said pickers were paid “well above the minimum wage” ($15.75 an hour) and the pay for those working in the packhouses depended on experience. . .

Hawkes Bay isn’t the only place where orchards can’t get local staff.

An employer in another region offered transport for staff from neighbouring towns and provided a creche. He also offered bonuses to those who would work five days but still couldn’t get enough locals.

One reason some didn’t apply or started and didn’t stay was drug testing.

What to do about them is another issue for which there are no simple solutions.

But the business couldn’t afford the risk of accidents from drug impaired staff and the only way to ensure workers were drug-free was testing.

There may be other reasons locals won’t work but the employer had done everything he could to attract them.

That left him dependent on immigrants.

His business couldn’t survive without them and as the Hawkes Bay orchard experience shows it’s not an isolated problem.

If businesses can’t get locals who are willing and able to work, they need immigrants to keep their businesses in business.


Rural round-up

March 23, 2016

Time for NZ meat industry to ‘move on’ – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s red meat sector will never achieve greatness if it continues to “fight and argue”, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

In his chairman’s report in the 2014-15 annual report, for the organisation’s annual meeting in Paihia on Wednesday, Mr Parsons said the industry’s structure had been keenly debated.

But now it was time to “move on, heal the wounds and work together as one sector”, he said. . . 

Designers inspired by woolly thinking – Sally Rae:

Penny Ronald has been doing a lot of woolly thinking lately.

Much of that occurred when she was in a woolshed at Ngamatea Station with a group of other up-and-coming architecture, interior, spatial, product and industrial designers.

Weekend in a Woolshed involved three days at the North Island station working in a studio set up in a woolshed. Campaign for Wool (CFW), with support from the Primary Wool Co-operative, immersed the group of nine in wool and challenged them to create and innovate. . . 

Young Waikato dairy couple aren’t singing the dairy blues – Andrea Fox:

Waikato first-time farm owner Allen Hurst has given up on his plan to be out of the milking shed by age 40 –  but that’s the only moan you’re going to hear from him about dairy farming right now.

He and wife Karen, finishing the third season on their Arapuni farm, are completely fed up with what they see as the relentless negative sideshow to dairying.

“It’s not just payout, it’s environmental, compliance, health and safety – it feels like a big wall of negativity,” says Allen.

“You have to remain positive. You can’t wake up every day tripping over your lip. You can’t get up every day thinking you’re working for nothing.” . . 

$895,000 in funding for Marlborough irrigation scheme:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed new funding of $895,000 for the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme in Marlborough.

The funding comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) and will help the Marlborough District Council complete concept designs, finalise funding arrangements, and begin the detailed design phase for the storage dam.

“Water from this project will most likely be used for wine grapes and arable crops, showing again that irrigation is about much more than just dairy,” says Mr Guy.

“Providing a reliable water supply for growers has major potential to boost growth, creating jobs and exports. This is especially important in Marlborough given the serious drought the region has suffered over the last 18 months.” . . 

Rosy start to apple season:

The apple season is in full swing, and excellent fruit size and quality, have Pipfruit New Zealand tipping a record crop.

But business development manager Gary Jones said it was the latest start to the season anyone could remember but orchards were now flat-out harvesting.

“Although the season was late we have exported more fruit than we ever have before and places like the Napier Port are saying they’ve handled more apples at the same date than they have had in any other season. . . .

Notice of hearing for agents to control the weed tutsan:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) advises a hearing is scheduled on an application to introduce a moth and a leaf-feeding beetle as biological control agents. If approved for release, the moth Lathronympha strigana and the leaf-feeding beetle Chrysolina abchasica would be used to help control the weed tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum), which is threatening hill country farming.

The application, from the Tutsan Action Group, is made under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. . . 

Farmer is back making words with sheep:

A North Canterbury farmer whose photo of sheep spelling out ‘bugger’ went viral last year, has been at it again.

Mike Bowler who runs nearly 4000 stock on his Parnassus farm used the sheep art to vent his frustration at the on-going drought in the region last May.

The photo of the sheep spelling out ‘Bugger’ went viral.

“I even had the German version of Federated Farmers call me up about it.” . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2014

Beef producers need comprehensive TPP deal:

Beef producers from the four largest beef producing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries continue to advocate that any TPP agreement must deliver on the 2011 TPP Ministers’ position of eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade.

Beef producers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, working in a coordinated partnership known as the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA), issued a statement today expressing concern at the possibility that some TPP members may seek to exclude some so-called “sensitive” products from comprehensive, duty free access.

Granting a TPP member any such exclusion would result in other members seeking similar treatment, leading to a decline in the agreement’s level of ambition and the resulting economic growth that it would bring. . .

NZ apple growers likely to beat $1 billion export target early on rising prices, higher productivity – TIna Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand apple growers will probably reach $1 billion in exports ahead of their 10-year 2022 target as the industry benefits from higher productivity and rising prices.

The apple industry, New Zealand’s second-largest fresh fruit export after kiwifruit, has raised export prices to offset the negative impact of a higher New Zealand dollar on returns, said Gary Jones, business development manager at grower organisation Pipfruit New Zealand. Better access to seasonal staff through a 2008 government scheme has helped orchard owners raise production.

New Zealand’s apple industry, which accounts for a quarter of the southern hemisphere’s fresh apple exports, is heading into its main three-month harvesting period. Pipfruit NZ plans to drop its compulsory grower levy for research and development to 1 cent a kilogram this year from 1.25 cents last year as it benefits from the extra revenue gleaned from a larger crop. . .

Strong Export Seed Season:

New Zealand seed growers enjoyed another strong export season in 2013.

Radish, carrots, ryegrass and white and red clover are just some of the high value export seed crops grown in this country every year, many of them in Canterbury, and exported to over 60 world New data sourced from Statistics New Zealand show the total value of seed exports was $192 million up $24 million or 14 per cent for the year ended December 2013, compared with the previous year.

Herbage seed (ryegrass, clover and other grasses) accounts for 53 per cent of total seed exports by value. Vegetable seed has 47 per cent share.

Australia is the biggest market for pasture seed, accounting for 16 per cent of total shipments.

Northern hemisphere markets remain hugely important for New Zealand vegetable seeds and Asian sales are steady with good growth opportunities. The Netherlands is the number 1 export market by value for carrots, radish and other vegetable seeds.

Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, says growers, processors and exporters have every reason to be pleased with the latest export data. . .

There are two types of eaters at the table: The quick, and the hungry! – Art4Agriculture:

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to our guest blogger Andrew Dallimore

In the words of Marian MacDonald ( read Marian’s blog post on Andrew here) who suggested  Andrew to me as a candidate for the Young Farming Champions program

There are plenty of dreamers out there. I can’t tell you how many of our city friends say how lucky we are to be living on the land but never take the plunge. Andrew Dallimore is not one of them.

This young man is a dreamer, thinker and doer rolled into one. In the name of encouraging students to be ambitious, achieve their goals, and overcome challenges, he set up a charity and cycled from Adelaide to Melbourne (see more at http://thegentlewaydotorg.wordpress.com/about-2/). Now, in the name of his future family and community, Andrew’s applying those very same principles to his own life. . .

My first five decades in a nutshell (but I didn’t marry a farmer after all) – Madbush Farm:

January 1964

My mother gave birth to her fifth child. It was the time of the Vietnam War. People were dying and the protests against the war were already raging. Mum and Dad got a black and white Murphy Television.

1967
I was three years old and I saw my first horse. I wanted to have my own horse. Next door was an old horse named Joey. I was found sitting underneath him with a rope in my hand.

1969

I started school. My first day was crap. I got the drawing in the book wrong. The teacher hit me on the hand with a ruler. I  now wanted my own farm and a horse.  I didn’t like school. We watched Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon. I was disappointed. There was no man in the moon after all.

1973

I still wanted my own farm and a horse. I was told I had to marry a farmer if I wanted a farm. I knew the answer to the question What is the capital of Vietnam? in my class general knowledge quizz. It was Saigon. The Vietnam War was all over our television screen. People were dying. I didn’t understand why. I started to watch Country Calender because I wanted to be a farmer. . .

 


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