Rural round-up

30/06/2019

Bovis takes a human toll – Sally Rae:

Next month will mark two years since bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was first confirmed on a South Canterbury dairy farm. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae speaks to Waimate farmer Carl Jensen, who has first-hand experience of the outbreak.

“As soon as you get that phone call, ‘hi, it’s MPI’, the anxiety journey has started.”

Carl Jensen has traversed that road – with many twists and turns – since becoming caught up in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in April last year.

The Waimate farmer has come out the other side; restrictions to his farming operation have been lifted, compensation has finally been paid and his business is back on track. . .

‘M. bovis’ anguish: ‘frank’ feedback helping in long process – Sally Rae:

For those farmers most affected by Mycoplasma bovis, the cure may very well seem worse than the disease, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

“We all need to do everything we can to support them, and that starts with us continuously making sure our systems and processes are working well, and then working in partnership with farmers to get this job done,” he said.

MPI regularly talked to the likes of Waimate farmer Carl Jensen and other farmers, who gave “frank and robust” feedback on how it could improve and that was a very important part of making the programme work. . .

Rat numbers are at a 48-year high and the environment is suffering – Leah Tebbutt:

Rat numbers have exploded across New Zealand and it is no different in Rotorua with some saying numbers are at a 48-year high.

Pest controllers’ phones are ringing off the hook due to an outbreak caused by a mega mast Forest and Bird say.

A mega mast is an over-abundance of plants that have a high seed production, in turn providing food for pests.

The problem began close to four months ago and there are ways to avoid a problem like this in future said Alpeco managing director Heiko Kaiser. . . 

Robust process vital in DIRA review – John Aitkinson:

A robust review process is needed for the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), writes Rotorua/Taupo Federated Farmers Dairy Section chairman John Atkinson.

DIRA is a major part of dairy farming.

It is an important tool in the food chain that allows you to enjoy your cheese, your latte or if you’re partial to it, New Zealand made dairy milk chocolate.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) was a special Act passed by the Helen Clark-led Government enabling the formation of Fonterra in 2001. . . .

A tractor for every day of the week – Samantha Tennent:

Manawatu farmer Reuben Sterling would much rather be behind the wheel of a tractor than at the shed milking.

His preference for tractors goes back to when he was growing up on the family farm at Rangiotu. He would often head out with his dad Rob and sit next to him while he mowed paddocks and did other jobs.

“I guess every farm kid wants to be like their dad and drive the tractor,” Sterling says.

“I remember being about six and going to get the cows in for milking on my own with the four-wheeler. . . 

Shearing and Woolhandling World Championships: Meet the Kiwi team

The 18th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are being held at Le Dorat, France, next week.

Teams from around the world, including New Zealand, will compete. The competitions take place on July 4-7.

The Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling Team will be there. Check out their profiles below. . . 

‘Our small towns are toppling like dominoes: why we should cut some farmers a checkRobert Leonard and Matt Russell:

How we address an expanding list of crises related to global warming is the most demanding question of our day. So far, our approaches have been piecemeal, enormously costly and largely unsuccessful.

A common denominator for many of these crises is in how we use the land, and that is where we will find the solution. A simple, cheap and relatively quick fix is to pay farmers and ranchers for environmental services. Not traditional government cost-share programs; we mean cut them a check when they provide measurable environmental services. It would cost Americans pennies per meal.

We already provide enormous taxpayer support for farmers to stabilize our food supply. The Trump administration’s trade bailouts for farmers to the tune of $28 billion in 2018 and 2019 are examples. Unfortunately, right now, farmers who invest in conservation practices are at a competitive disadvantage to those who don’t.  . . 


Rural round-up

29/04/2019

Leading women fill many roles – Annette Scott:

Women on farms are not just farmers’ wives and that is highlighted by the four finalists in the 2019 Dairy Woman of the Year award.

“They all juggle multiple roles from being a vet and mechanic to a financial planner and strategic thinker,” Dairy Women’s Network trustee and awards judge Alison Gibb said.

“There’s no doubt the role women play in dairy farming now completely breaks the old-fashioned mould of public perception about what a farmer’s wife is.

“They’re all farming partners, farming in their own right, playing a major role in running a million-dollar business,” Gibb said. . .

Too many farmers are hurting – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis hotspot farmers are angry at news an unprecedented number of farms will go under movement control before winter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said last week the M bovis response programme will ramp up over the next six weeks.

M bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn said it will give farmers as much certainty as possible heading into winter.

“Well, what sort of certainty is that,” Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Frank Peters said. . .

Primary sector facing staff shortages – Yvonne O’Hara:

Many industries within the primary sector are facing staffing issues.

Alliance Group general manager people and safety Chris Selbie said the company employed more than 2500 people in Southland during the peak processing season and continued to face ongoing shortages of people for its Mataura and Lorneville plants.

”Alliance runs regular recruitment programmes to attract local people to take up roles with the co-operative and we work closely with Work and Income, the Ministry of Social Development and local development agencies on solutions to address the shortages,” he said. . .

Kiwi-born shepherd shatters world shearing record:

A New Zealander has broken the world record for the most merino ewes shorn in eight hours at a farm in Western Australia.

The 497 sheep shorn by New Zealand born shearer Lou Brown was 31 more than the record of 466 set by his coach and mentor, fellow-Kiwi Cartwright Terry.

Few jobs rival the physical demands of shearing, and Mr Brown’s gruelling effort is attributable to years of practice and months of physical training and meditation. . .

Tougher times lead to better food waste behaviour – John Ellicott:

The average Australian household wasted about $890 worth of food last year, an improved figure on previous years, but still a staggering degree of wastage.

The 2019 Rabobank food waste report found we are doing better as potential wasters but there is till a huge way to go, and awareness is the key. Men and women are both equal in food wastage.

It found farmers are wising up to food wastage and becoming increasingly more innovative in making sure their products were used properly throughout the food chain. It also found regional Australians were less wasteful than city consumers, mainly because they appreciated the value of food more. . .

New Zealand cashing in on boutique foods:

New Zealand has been better than Australia at capitalising on the market for boutique foods, according to a top Australian scientist.

Dr Stefan Hajkowicz told the Rabobank Farm2Fork seminar, in Sydney, this was being done through the High Value Nutrition Programme – a joint government-industry initiative.

The CSIRO senior principal scientist – strategy and foresight, was giving a perspective on the next 20 years of food production. . . 


Rural round-up

16/04/2019

‘M. bovis’ effects force family off farm – Sally Rae:

Graham Hay is preparing to walk off the land his family has farmed for nearly a century.

The Hakataramea Valley property has been in the family since his grandfather took over in 1921 and Mr Hay has lived there all his life.

It is gut-wrenching to hear his voice choking, as he explains how he and his wife Sonja have had no choice but to sell their farm.

Already under financial pressure coming out of an irrigation development phase, he believed they could have farmed through that. . . 

Lessons learned: MPI holds public meeting with farmers – Sally Rae:

Painful lessons have been learned during the Mycoplasma bovis response and hopefully all lessons will be “locked in” and used in the event of another disease incursion, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

Mr Gwyn was speaking at a public meeting in Oamaru last week, as part of a series of farmer and public meetings throughout the country.

Those meetings came in the wake of the launch of the 2019 Mycoplasma bovis National Plan, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand last week. . . 

Yili bid for Westland Milk raises questions about dairy co-operatives – and Fonterra’s ownership – Point of Order:

On  the face  of  it, it’s  a  no-brainer.  Weighed  down  with  debt,  Westland  Milk,  based in   Hokitika  is financially  on  its  knees.  Riding  to  its  rescue,  Chinese  dairy  giant  Yili  has come in with a  $588m buyout deal   which  will yield  $3.41  a share   to the co-op’s  farmer shareholders,  and, as well,   absorb  Westland’s debt and liabilities.

According to  Westland, the  nominal value of its shares  has ranged  from  70c  to $1.50  per share. For the  average-sized  Westland farm, the  share offer translates to  about half a  million dollars cash.

The offer  looks even  more attractive since  Westland had to  cut its  milk payout  forecast, while other  companies’ forecasts  are rising.  Westland, which has  grown out of  the West  Coast’s  150-year  dairy heritage, hasn’t paid  a  competitive milk price   for  several years. . . 

Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade may force expectant mothers to travel further

Mothers may be forced to travel further to give birth after a Southland birthing centre was downgraded.

The Southern District Health Board announced the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade last August, triggering community outcry, a protest march, petition and appeals to the government.

The centre has become a maternal and child hub where babies are only delivered in an emergency.

The company that ran the centre said mothers travelled from as far away as Queenstown and Te Anau to use the birthing services. . . 

Farmhand’s common sense solution for vegan activism – Andrea Davy:

A YOUNG farmhand has offered up a commonsense approach for stopping the spread of misinformation around Australian farming.

Coming off the back this week’s vegan protests, which rolled out across the nation on Monday, Zoe Carter posted a Facebook live where she called on the industry to “step up” and increase education in schools.

Zoe has more than 140,000 followers online, an audience she has grown through sharing videos and photos from her life working in ag.

In the post, she said the current education system was leaving a huge knowledge gap on how food was produced. And, unfortunately, this space was being filled up with “lies” peddled on social media. . . 

Large-scale highly fertile stock finishing farm for sale:

A highly-productive farm whose grazing stock once produced prized wool used by one of New Zealand’s foremost carpet manufacturers has been placed on the market for sale.

Puketotara, near Huntly in the Waikato, was previously owned by Douglas Bremner – the businessman who founded the legendary Bremworth Carpet brand in 1959. Wool from the Drysdale sheep farmed at Bremner’s Puketotara farm was used in the production of quality carpet manufactured at the company’s mill in South Auckland.

The Bremner family sold the property in 1989, and soon after it was converted into an intensive breeding and finishing farm – stocking beef and sheep and producing cash crops.. . 


Rural round-up

10/04/2019

Landowners let down by select committee on firearms changes:

Unless further changes are made to the Arms Amendment Bill, pests will be the winners and the environment will be the losers.

Federated Farmers says the Government has failed to deliver on its commitment to farmers and other major landowners that they would continue to have access to the firearms they need for effective animal pest control.

“Labour has the opportunity to fix the Bill over the next few days – otherwise Federated Farmers will feel duped by this process,” Feds Rural Security spokesperson Miles Anderson says. . .

Hard work ahead in effort to eradicate ‘M.bovis’, programme director says – Sally Rae:

The Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort is on track but there is still a lot of hard work to get done, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, Adorns and Beef + Lamb New Zealand recently released the 2019 Mycoplasma bovis National Plan.

The plan set out three goals: to eradicate the disease from New Zealand, to reduce the effect of the disease and the eradication programme for everyone affected, and to leave New Zealand’s biosecurity system stronger. . . 

Agri-food project gets 160 Invercargill students onto Southland farms:

Invercargill student Aimee Paterson isn’t one to shy away from a challenge – especially if it involves agriculture.

The 16-year-old has helped spearhead a food-focused educational project at Southland Girls’ High School.

Paterson’s one of a handful of TeenAg members who teamed up with teachers to teach Year 7 students about farming. . . 

Race to finish line between picking and frosts – Mark Price:

Long days picking and long nights frost-fighting.

That has been the way of it for vineyard owners and workers over the past few days.

Every frost-fighting method available was in action on Saturday night as temperatures in some parts of the Cromwell Basin, along Lake Dunstan, dropped to -3deg C or lower.

New Central Otago Winegrowers Association president Nick Paulin, of Lowburn, said yesterday conditions were “brutal”. . . 

Consultation on high country land management closing soon:

Land Information New Zealand is urging New Zealanders to have their say on the future management of the South Island high country. Public consultation on the Government’s proposed changes to the management of Crown pastoral land closes on Friday 12th April 2019.

Stretching from Marlborough to Southland, the land covers around 1.2 million hectares, nearly five percent of New Zealand.

“It’s important that people take this opportunity to tell us what they think of the proposed changes,” says Jamie Kerr, Acting Deputy Chief Executive Policy and Overseas Investment. . . 

Sustainable products assured by ag association – Agcarm – Mark Ross:

With multiple companies offering disease and pest management solutions, farmers can be guaranteed that products purchased from an Agcarm member are safe, sustainable and of high quality. Agcarm is a not-for-profit trade association, representing over 60 companies that manufacture, distribute, research and sell projects to keep animals healthy and crops thriving.

For over 70 years, Agcarm has taken a lead role in managing issues of importance to the crop protection and animal medicines industries. . .

 


Rural round-up

07/03/2019

Miles Hurell says Fonterra top job was never a done-deal :

The Country’s Jamie Mackay always thought Miles Hurrell would be a shoo-in for Fonterra’s chief executive position but the man himself says it was never a done deal.

“Far from it. They gave me an opportunity to see what we could do in that six months [as interim CEO] and clearly it’s worked. The board have liked what they’ve seen,” said Hurrell.

Fonterra’s new chief executive told Mackay he is well aware that he has a big job ahead of him. . . 

Years of work ahead to eradicate M. bovis, programme director says  – Brianna McIlraith:

More than 80,000 cows have been culled around the country as part of the effort to stop the spread of the Mycoplasma bovis disease, but eradication is still a long way off, the man in charge of the programme says.

Geoff Gwyn said another two years of ‘heavy lifting’ lay ahead before the Ministry for Primary Industries was confidently on top of the bacterial disease, and experts had advised that eradication could take between five and 10 years. . .

Potentialseen in double-muscled Beltx sheep breed – Sally Rae:

A Southland farming family has invested significantly in the Beltex sheep breed, believing it will be of ”major benefit” to the New Zealand sheep industry.

Brent and Ann-Maree Robinson, and son Michael, who farm at Glenham, near Wyndham, last year paid $12,000 for a ram lamb at the inaugural Beltex sale in Canterbury.

Last week, they bought the second top-priced ram lamb for $21,000 at this year’s sale at Mt Somers, a 2-tooth ram for $11,500 and some Beltex ewes to help build their breeding programme. . . 

Woman claims inaugural female shearing crown – Ellen O’Dwyer:

Emily Welch still remembers the time a fellow male competitor refused to shake her hand for out-shearing him.

That was in 2007, when Welch came second in the senior finals at the Golden Shears.

Now the Waikato shearer is the first to have her name etched on the women-only trophy after taking first place in the inaugural event at this year’s Golden Shears competition in Masterton. . . 

Community rallies to support Cambridge wetlands project :

A Cambridge school’s planting project not only assisted local farmers’ environmental efforts, but also attracted plants and sustenance from local businesses.

As part of an environmental initiative between DairyNZ’s education programme and the Student Volunteer Army, 26 rural schools were matched recently with 26 farmers to carry out riparian planting projects around the country.

Two farmers taking part were sharemilkers Stu and Leah Gillanders, who teamed up with a class from Cambridge Middle School to plant a wetland on Merv and Marion Hunt’s Karapiro farm. . .

Dannevirke TeenAg award winner’s passion for Hereford  cattle :

Dannevirke teenager Niamh Barnett knows first-hand how nerve-racking bidding at a livestock auction can be.

The 17-year-old bought some Hereford cows at the Woodlynd Polled Herefords dispersal sale in Gisborne in February 2018.

“I went with a price I was prepared to pay for each animal. I just hoped I didn’t get outbid,” she laughed. . . 


Rural round-up

19/02/2019

Tasman facing serious drought – Tracey Neal:

First there were floods, then fire and now drought.

The Waimea Plains, cradled between two mountain ranges, are usually immune to such extremes in the weather.

But a Tasman District Council water scientist says the wider area is facing its worst drought since 2001. . .

Explainer: Why NZ can’t afford to mess with China – Aimee Shaw:

China and New Zealand have enjoyed decades of mutual benefits.

The global powerhouse and New Zealand signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2008 and since then have phased in provisions to ease trade between the two countries.

China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner, followed by Australia. Suffice to say it’s a relationship New Zealand can’t afford to lose.

Fallout from the Government taking the United States stance on the Huawei debate and now reports of people not wanting to come to New Zealand as a result are threatening the country’s long-standing friendly relationship. . . 

Year of the Pig means feast of exports for Fonterra :

Celebrations have been underway around the world to celebrate the festive Chinese New Year season — welcoming the Year of the Pig.

In China itself those celebrations are likely to have included family feasts including dairy produced in Waipa’s Fonterra plants.

Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site exported around $175 million in products to China for consumption in 2017/18. That’s about $12,500 per person in Te Awamutu. . . 

Optimistic report on ‘M bovis’ response – Sally Rae:

Improvements are already being made in many areas highlighted in the Mycoplasma bovis Technical Advisory Group’s report, response head Geoff Gwyn says.

Work is under way to develop a new surveillance approach for the beef industry and the focus is increasing on improving communication to affected farmers, the public and staff.

The report, released this month and following the group’s meeting in late November, provided independent validation the eradication programme was ”on track”, he said.

Mr Gwyn said the findings and recommendations were not surprising. Some of the recommendations were relatively simple to implement or were already in train, while others would need careful consideration before a decision was made. . . 

Open Country challenges validity of Fonterra 2018 milk price – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy is seeking a judicial review of the way Fonterra Cooperative Group set its milk price in the 2018 season, despite the Commerce Commission giving the price-setting process a pass mark.

The commission noted the judicial review on its website, saying Open Country Dairy brought proceedings against certain conclusions in its 2018 report.

In that report, the regulator was satisfied that Fonterra’s calculation was largely in line with the efficiency and contestability elements required by law governing the dairy sector. . . 

Unusual beefalo meat in demand – Ken Muir:

A chance meeting with an engineer building a cowshed on a neighbouring farm next door to Nadia and Blair Wisely introduced them to bison and from there they’ve taken to producing beefalo – a bison beef cross – on their Isla Bank farm.

”We met Dennis Greenland by chance and he had purchased animals from a Marlborough breeder Bob Blake”, Mr Wisely said.

”He told us about the animals and that piqued our interest.”

The Wiselys purchased a bison bull, crossed it with a range of cows and Netherton Farm Beefalo was born. . . 

Wild horses go under the hammer in Hanmer

Twenty horses, all aged two or three years old, were mustered from the isolated Ada Valley and sold by auction at cattle yards in the St James Conservation Area, where there was once an 80,000-hectare cattle station.

The two-day biennial muster is a family tradition.

Hugh Dampier-Crossley, a sheep and beef farmer near Cheviot, has been mustering the horses since he was ten.

“The Stevensons owned the property. Jim Stevenson was my grandfather, they bought the place in 1927. He taught me how to break in horses and shoe horses so it’s become a bit of a passion,” he said. . . 

Plan to plant genetically engineered trees throughout US to save dying forests – John Gabattis:

Inserting genes to protect against foreign diseases and pests could bring species back from brink of extinction

Plans are under way to plant swathes of genetically engineered trees across the ailing forests of North America in a bid to save them from the ravages of disease and pests. 

Species such as the ash tree and whitebark pine have faced catastrophic declines of up to half their populations after creatures introduced from overseas tore through their defences. . .

 


Rural round-up

28/01/2019

Change coming as Waikato’s farmers look to lower their emissions – Gerald Piddock:

Shifting to a zero carbon economy will see the biggest upheaval in farming since the end of subsidies in the 1980s.

Waikato’s estimated 9000 farmers are the region’s biggest emitters. As such, it will see some completely change how they farm and others will adopt new technologies as they become available.

For some, there will be merely tweaks for their food production. . . 

Ewe prices rocket :

It was a sale agents predicted where demand driven by industry confidence pushed prices at the Temuka annual two-tooth ewe fair on Wednesday.

“There’s plenty of confidence to buy today, there’s stability in the market and there’s confidence in the red meat industry from both farmers and processors alike,” PGG Wrightson auctioneer Jonty Hyslop said.

“With a good past 12 months following on from some years of drought and industry uncertainty I expect we will see some good confidence that will drive what farmers are prepared to pay and that’s likely to be getting up there,” industry stalwart Peter Walsh said. . . 

New Zealand wool making the difference for innovative Danish carpet manufacturer – Pat Deavoll:

A leading European carpet manufacturer is now using specially blended New Zealand wool in its innovative production process.

Based in Denmark, Ege is a global market leader in the printed carpet sector. It recently came into PGG Wrightson’s Wool Integrity Programme, following collaboration by the two companies to develop a wool blend for Ege’s carpet printing process.

PGG’s head of in-house wool export and marketing, Palle Petersen said printing enables much greater detail to be included in the design of a carpet than traditional manufacture, at far lower cost. . . 

Bovis eradication is still the plan – Annette Scott:

Testing and surveillance of Mycoplasma bovis is in for the long haul as eradication continues to be the priority.

It will continue until there’s absolute certainty of its eradication, Primary Industry Ministry Mycoplasma bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

The ministry’s priorities are identifying, tracing and removing infection while supporting affected farmers.

Gwyn acknowledged 2018 was a big year “with a lot of heavy lifting by farmers”. . . 

Tariffs put squeeze on tomato exports – Barry O’Neil:

An increased focus on exports for New Zealand tomatoes could see the sector double its 2014 value by 2020.

Tomatoes New Zealand represents NZ’s 123 commercial fresh tomato growers who produce about 42,500 tonnes of fresh tomatoes in 120ha of greenhouses.

The fresh tomato industry has an annual farmgate value of $130m, including export sales of over $10m per year. . . 

The Shutdown is holding farmers back from spring planting – Debbie Weingarten:

In Asheville, North Carolina, vegetable farmers Becca Nestler and Steven Beltram are stuck between the impending spring season and the trickle-down effects of the government shutdown. Last week, when I spoke with Nestler — my friend since college — I asked about the farm. “We’re just stuck,” she told me. “We can’t even talk to our loan officer.”

The longest government shutdown in history has rendered many federal agricultural services unavailable, including the thousands of Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices that assist farmers with dozens of programs, such as disaster relief and annual farm operating loans. This is the time of year when Nestler and Beltram should be working with their FSA officer to prepare their annual loan packet — but with the office closed and their officer furloughed (and prohibited from using work cell phones or email to respond to farmers), they’ve had no choice but to wait.

 


Rural round-up

21/11/2018

Big year for young viticulturist – Adam Burns:

The hard graft of the past year has paid off with two big industry awards for Bannockburn woman Annabel Bulk. Central Otago reporter Adam Burns talks to the viticulturist about the key ingredients to her success.

A semi-rural upbringing in Dunedin’s Pine Hill kindled Annabel Bulk’s love of the outdoors.

“My mum is an avid gardener.

“We were always encouraged to grow our own veges as a kid.”

That childhood introduction to horticulture is reaping rewards for Ms Bulk.

Last week the 30-year-old beat five other finalists to take out the New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year prize.

The award capped off a fruitful year for Ms Bulk. . . 

Huge’ frost could have been dire – Pam Jones:

Central Otago viticulturists and orchardists are feeling “positive” about the upcoming season and pleased to have “dodged a bullet”  recently in the form of  “once in a lifetime” frosts, horticulture leaders say.

Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey said a “huge and highly unusual” frost throughout Central Otago on October 13 could have been catastrophic but ended up causing “very little damage” to grapes.

Extremely dry air conditions at the time of the -5degC frost meant there was a “freeze” rather than a frost, Mr Dicey said.

The phenomenon had been “totally, 100% unheard of” for at least 60 years, but the unusual nature of the conditions meant there was very little damage and viticulturists had “dodged a bullet”, only losing about 5% to 10% of grapes overall, he said. . . 

Re-elected Fonterra director keen to restore trust – Angie Skerrett:

Newly re-elected Fonterra director Leonie Guiney wants to have New Zealand farmers “proud” of the company again.

She was voted back onto the board at the annual Fonterra AGM earlier this month after previously serving on the board from 2014 to 2017.

Ms Guiney is keen to see faith restored in Fonterra.

“Trust is everything in a co-operative, and it’s our responsibility at board level to ensure that Fonterra’s owners trust their leaders with their capital,” she told RadioLIVE’s Rural Exchange. . .

 

Wool prices are still falling – Alan Williams:

Wool prices fell sharply again, dampening the spectacle of the third annual live auction at the Agricultural Show in Christchurch on Thursday.

The crossbred market heads towards Christmas with a lot of concern about the international wool textile sector after earlier price falls in the North Island, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

CP Wool auctioneer Roger Fuller didn’t want to sound too pessimistic but said the trend is quite concerning. . . 

Westland Milk Products seeks outside capital in bid to improve payouts – Heather Chalmers:

Despite low payout returns for the last three years, Westland Milk Products shareholder-supplier Stu Bland says he’s done the sums and wouldn’t be better off joining Fonterra. 

That’s even if he could, with many Westland Milk Products (WMP) suppliers tied to the co-operative because of their geographical isolation. 

At a payout of $6.07 a kilogram of milksolids after a five cent company retention for the 2017-18 season, Bland would have been $77,000 better off it he’d been supplying Fonterra or Synlait, who both paid 50 cents/kg more.   . . 

Death of disease still the aim – Annette Scott:

The Mycoplasma bovis response is focused squarely on phased eradication despite rumours to the contrary, Primary Industries Ministry M bovis response director Geoff Gwyn says.

“There’s some belief out there that MPI is preparing for long-term management – that is totally not the case at all.

“Many farmers are going through a challenging time with the M bovis outbreak and, unfortunately, their stress and anxiety is being compounded by some misinformation.”

Gwyn assures farmers the Government and industry partners remain highly committed to eradicating the cattle disease and early results from nationwide bulk milk testing indicate eradication is possible. . . 

Massive Canterbury irrigation scheme to transform region – for better or worse – Heather Chalmers:

Water is flowing through a huge new irrigation scheme on the Plains. But the water is so expensive farmers may turn away from dairy to more profitable crops. Heather Chalmers reports.

Travellers across the upper Central Canterbury plains in the last year will have noticed a quiet transformation of the landscape. 

Shelterbelts have been bowled and burnt and trenches dug across paddocks and roads. 

The biggest clue is the hulking metal spans emerging in paddocks as dozens of centre pivot irrigators are put together like giant Lego sets.   . . 

New biosecurity fines to be introduced:

Arriving vessels, transitional and containment facilities and cruise ship passengers will face new infringement offences for sloppy biosecurity practices that expose New Zealand to risk from harmful diseases and pests.

The new offences will introduce fines of $400 for individuals and $800 for other entities, such as companies, for low-level offending that is not significant enough to warrant prosecution, says Steve Gilbert, Border Clearance Services Director, Biosecurity New Zealand. . . 

Dairy farmers face squeeze:

Dairy farmers are getting a lower payout for milk but their costs are rising for goods and services like feed, fuel, and freight, Stats NZ said today.

The prices received by dairy farmers fell (4.8 percent) in the September 2018 quarter, due to a lower farm-gate milk price. In contrast, their costs rose (1.5 percent), mainly influenced by higher prices for animal feed, fuel, and freight.

“Dairy manufacturers paid less to buy raw milk in the latest quarter. They also received higher prices from our export markets and local customers,” business prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

It’s important to note there’s often a lag time between changes in costs and what businesses charge customers. . . 


Rural round-up

12/11/2018

Fonterra hopes for collaboration in review of regulating law – Jeremy Rees:

Fonterra has welcomed the review of the law which governs it and urged farmers and shareholders to work with the government to get it right.

At its annual meeting, Fonterra chairman John Monaghan told the 360 farmers in the audience that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), which regulated the company was a complex piece of legislation but it was important to get any changes right.

“Let’s be clear. Fonterra’s performance, good or bad, is not driven by DIRA,” he said.

“But an updated DIRA can deliver our shared vision for the future of the New Zealand dairy industry.”

The government began in May a review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 which sets the parameters for Fonterra, the co-operative dairy giant. . . 

Fonterra is under attack from all sides, and now from within, as it grapples with issues that date back to 2001. These restraints allow its competitors to pick away at its good bits. China holds a tariff lever over NZ policymakers – Guy Trafford:

A busy week for Fonterra with the appointment of the two new directors and one still to come. Later today comes the result of the asset review instigated after the poor results from last season.

One of the new directors, Leonie Guiney has made her position plain in September she was quoted saying she wants the company to shift its whole strategy away from investments, like Beingmate and China Farms, which she says are “beyond our capability”.

If Fonterra thought they may get an easier path in the future through a revamp of the DIRA, the indications coming out are any thing to go by they are going to be disappointed. In fact, some are suggesting that the goal posts have been moved further away with a 70% mark as the point which is more likely to trigger a freeing up of some of the constraints the Coop is required to operate under. . .

New directorate to run M bovis programme – Annette Scott:

The new Mycoplasma bovis Response Directorate will provide a more robust model for the ongoing response to the cattle disease.

The directorate has been established after the decision by the Government and industry to try to eradicate M bovis and in consultation with Ministry for Primary Industries staff.

MPI response and readiness director Geoff Gwyn has been appointed to lead the new body.

Gwyn has headed the M bovis response since the cattle disease was found in July 2017. . . .

Swarmstorm design to benefit beekeepers:

Hobby beekeepers could have an alternative product to recollect swarms and maintain bee reproduction rates thanks to the work of Massey University industrial design student Liam Brankin.

The 22 year-old has devised a prototype backpack he calls the Swarmstorm that uses a suction hose, similar to a household vacuum cleaner, to suck and capture bees into a cardboard container before they are transferred to hives to continue the reproduction and honey-producing process.

His design is part of the Exposure graduate exhibition of final year work by design, art, creative media and music students from the College of Creative Arts, which opens at the Wellington campus on Friday.  . . .

Commission authorises extending restrictions on infant formula marketing ;

The Commerce Commission has authorised members of the Infant Nutrition Council Limited to extend the advertising and marketing restrictions in their Code of Practice to cover infant formula products for children aged up to 12 months of age.

Currently, the restrictions only apply to infant formula products for children aged up to six months of age. The INC asked the Commission to authorise the extended advertising and marketing restrictions, as the extended restrictions may lessen competition. . .

Nursery industry congratulate Young Hort 2018 runner-up:

Runner up Young Horticulturalist of the year, Devin Westley, is an extraordinary young man with a huge passion for his work as a nurseryman and innovator in the industry.

His employer, Southern Woods Nursery and the NZ Plant Producers’ Industry are delighted with his placing in the New Zealand Young Horticulturalist 2018 competition.

Devin also took home awards for best practice, practical activities and best speech on the night at the award’s dinner in Auckland last night. . . 


Rural round-up

06/08/2018

Top official knows the human cost of bovis – Sally Rae:

July 22, 2017, will go down as a significant date in New Zealand’s agricultural history. On that day, bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was confirmed as being in the country, triggering New Zealand’s largest and most expensive biosecurity response. Sally Rae, who has covered the outbreak since the beginning, reflects on the past year and also talks to the man charged with heading the national response.

Geoff Gwyn admits hearing from farmers hit by Mycoplasma bovis is the toughest part of his job.

“These stories are intensely personal. Being under regulatory control or, worst case scenario, having a herd built up over decades culled is a really tough time for people.

“It has a large impact on their psyche, their mental health, the financial viability of their business. All these are hard conversations to have.” . .

US company buys NZ wool for insulation – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand wool producers have landed a large contract to supply a United States company with fibre for home insulation.

They also claim wool is a healthier product than fibreglass which is the dominant insulating material on the market, a claim that has been disputed by fibreglass manufacturers.

The deal, brokered by NZ Merino (NZM), will see 200 tonnes of Landcorp coarse wool supplied to US insulation company Havelock Wool. This represents about 10 per cent of Landcorp’s supply to NZM. . . 

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd continues to grow:

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 1.9 per cent over the past year while the decline in the sheep flock was slowed by a lift in hoggets as farmers responded positively to strong prices and good grass growth leading into winter, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The annual stock number survey conducted by B+LNZ’s Economic Service, shows 3.7 million beef cattle with beef production continuing to grow.

The largest contributor to the increase in the number of beef cattle was a lift in weaner cattle in Marlborough-Canterbury, which was driven by younger cattle being retained by beef breeders. . . 

No big rise in calf kill expected – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers should get a little more money for their bobby calves this season but meat companies don’t expect a big increase in slaughter tallies.

Higher prices overseas for skins and the lower value of the New Zealand dollar have enabled some meat companies to add up to 20c/kg to their bobby calf schedules.

Others said they are paying the same as last winter and will be competitive with prevailing prices.

The range for medium calves, 13.5kg to 18kg carcaseweight, where most weights fall, is reportedly $1.85/kg to $2/kg. . . 

Storage ponds a ‘ludicrous’ alternative to dam:

Claims about storage ponds being a viable alternative to the Waimea Community Dam are ludicrous, says Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) Chair Murray King.

“There are many reasons storage ponds won’t solve the region’s water problem, including insufficient capacity, ponds not addressing the minimum flow requirements on the Waimea River, and the lack of funding available for them.

“The idea is utterly ludicrous. A combined storage volume of 6 million cubic metres of water won’t meet the minimum flow requirements set out in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) and provide adequate water for water users in dry periods. The minimum flows were established through an Environment Court process so the Council can give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. . . 

Collaboration critical to capture red meat sector opportunities:

The opportunities and challenges facing New Zealand’s red meat sector were highlighted at the annual Red Meat Sector conference held in Napier this week.

The one-day conference, which attracted around 250 red meat industry stakeholders, featured a range of speakers who set the scene for the sector, identified the challenges and highlighted the many opportunities for red meat in a dynamic global market.

One of the over-riding themes was the need to work collaboratively to ensure the red meat sector is well positioned to capture premiums for its product on the world stage.

In setting the scene, former Zespri CEO and chair of the Primary Sector Council Lain Jager said he is convinced there will always be a market for ruminant protein because the world needs more protein. . . 

The dairy season in New Zealand kicks off with a reasonable seasonal weather outlook:

Even with El Nino talk intensifying the weather looks good for the start of the dairy season

Dairy cows around the country tend to freshen in the month of August and grass growth becomes important as production ramps up with warmer weather. It was only last December when large parts of the country were shocked by the dry and exceptionally warm weather. This year, in contrast, looks to be headed in a slightly different direction. The latest and updated every ten-day seasonal rainfall and temperature outlook is for benign conditions through October.

The slightly drier monthly forecasts for Northland through the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and the Manawatu and down the west coast of the South Island and into Southland might be welcomed. . . 

Cedenco Foods is Hawke’s Bay Exporter of the Year:

An impressive commitment to product development and innovation has seen fruit and vegetable manufacturer Cedenco Foods New Zealand named as ExportNZ Hawke’s Bay ASB Exporter of the Year.

The Gisborne-based business was presented with the award by the Head of Trade Finance at ASB Bank, Mike Atkins, at the sold-out awards dinner last night at the Napier Conference Centre. Earlier in the evening, Cedenco had won the inaugural T&G Global Best Medium to Large ExporterAward.

The judges said Cedenco impressed them with their investment in market research, customer relationships, and R&D to get their product right for the customer. . . 

Kiwi ingenuity a stand-out at  this year’s Pork Awards – winners announced at NZPork’s annual gala dinner:

New Zealand’s creative culinary ingenuity shone bright at The Orange in Auckland last night, where a mix of local farmers, butchers, retailers and industry leaders gathered to celebrate the winners of the eleventh annual Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards.

The competition, which took place in July, provided more than 40 pork retailers from across the country with the chance to showcase their best and most innovative New Zealand born and raised pork products. . . 


Rural round-up

31/07/2018

Working group to address wool woes – Yvonne O’Hara:

A working group of industry representatives is to be established to address New Zealand’s wool woes.

Members of the group will be selected from about 40 industry movers and shakers who were invited to attend the Wool Summit held in Wellington last week. . .

Working group considered ‘last chance saloon’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

A working group, which is to be formed following a Wool Summit held in Wellington on July 16, is the ”last chance saloon” for the industry, Carrfields Primary Wool Group (CPWG) chief executive Colin McKenzie says.

Mr McKenzie, who is also chief executive of NZ Yarn, in Christchurch, was one of 40 people invited to the meeting, which was hosted by Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor.

CPWG handles about a quarter of the country’s wool clip, including from Central Otago growers.

Mr McKenzie said there needed to be a consolidation of the industry, both structurally and commercially, as well as an alignment as there were so many fragmented activities within it. . . 

Hunt for M bovis source goes on – Annette Scott:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has not given up on finding out how the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis arrived here, response director Geoff Gwyn says.

It’s now a year from when the disease was identified on a South Canterbury dairy farm and still all seven pathways remain suspects.

“We have no pathway link to any one farm. We are still looking at all options,” Gwyn said.

While MPI has completed the inspections of three premises, two veterinary associated premises in the North Island and a farm in the South Island, it searched under warrant in March it cannot yet publicly announce the outcome. . .

Mycoplasma bovis: spring testing of milk can be both hit and miss – Keith Woodford:

Bulk-milk testing of all New Zealand milk is about to begin, with three tests of every herd. However, this will only be from cows that are healthy, unless a farmer has failed to identify a sick cow. This is because sick cows are given antibiotics and their milk does not go into the vat.

Milk companies have routine tests for antibiotics in milk and farmer penalties for any mistakes are very high. So, farmers are always diligent in keeping this milk separate. This milk is either fed to calves, or increasingly tipped into the effluent system. . .

Plants must complement meat in diets – Neal Wallace:

Dietary guidelines have always stressed three-quarters of food intake should be derived from plants, Beef + Lamb New Zealand nutrition head Fiona Greig says.

Fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses perfectly complemented nutrient-rich animal foods such as meat, dairy and fish.

“As sexy as it is not, that word (moderation) should be the mantra of all dietary patterns regardless of whether you eat animal products or not.” . . 

Peninsula Farm is paradise:

At the back of Raglan harbour on the West Coast peninsula lies one of the country’s most influential farming operations.

The aptly named “Peninsula Farm” is where herd improvement company CRV Ambreed grazes its young Friesian, jersey and crossbred bulls that wait to find out if they’re the dairy industry’s next megastars.

Each year around 150 bull calves are carefully selected for CRV Ambreed’s Progeny Test programme and are shipped from farms across the country to CRV Ambreed’s Bellevue production and logistics centre. . .


Rural round-up

06/07/2018

Milking it for deer – Nigel Malthus:

If the world is ready for deer milk, New Zealand is ready to supply it.

The product, believed unique, was simultaneously launched at Fieldays and at a VIP function in Auckland aimed at high-end restaurants and the food service industry.

It won the Grassroots Innovation Award at Fieldays for Pāmu (the commercial name of Landcorp Farming) and its primary partners Sharon and Peter McIntyre, deer farmers at Gore. . . 

Is deer milk the next big thing?

“I can absolutely see this going global,” says consultant executive chef Geoff Scott, of the deer milk now being pioneered in NZ.

Scott, engaged by Pāmu to help launch its deer milk, says it’s rare for chefs to work with a new ingredient they have never seen before.

He says deer milk’s most noticeable feature is its “phenomenal” texture. And contrary to his expectations, the aroma was not as strong as goat or sheep milk.

“It’s got a lovely gentle slightly savoury nose and when you drink it you get this amazing sensation with the texture of the milk,” said Scott. . .

MPI scotches professor’s blog – Annette Scott:

Cross-species transmission is not a risk in the spread of Mycoplasma bovis, Ministry for Primary Industries response director Geoff Gwyn says.

Animals other than cattle are considered to be dead-end hosts and not important in the ongoing spread of the cattle disease.

“There is no scientific evidence that non-cattle species can act as a source of infection to cattle,” Gwyn said.

He expressed concern the matter continues to be raised given it has potential to unnecessarily heighten farmers’ anxiety. 

“Our firm view is the transfer of M bovis from non-cattle to cattle is not of material concern,” Gwyn said. . . 

Mackenzie Basin: Fonterra dairying criticism rejected – Kate Gudsell:

The Dunedin businessman behind a planned mega-dairy conversion in the Mackenzie Basin is shrugging off criticism from Fonterra about further intensification on the vulnerable landscape.

Murray Valentine has 9600 hectares of land at Simon’s Pass near Twizel and wants to irrigate 4500 hectares of that.

Originally, he was granted resource consent for 15,000 cows, but plans to put 2000 on it by next year, rising to a maximum of 5500 cows when consents are gained for extra cow sheds. . . 

Biodynamic forum held

Maori star lore, the winter solstice and water and earth energy were popular topics for the nearly 100 people who attended the 2018 New Zealand Biodynamic Association’s conference, in Clyde and Wanaka from June 22 to 24.

One of the organisers, Su Hoskin, who is in charge of the organic and biodynamic practices at Domaine-Thomson Wines vineyard near Cromwell, also sits on the association’s council.

”The conference was great,” Mrs Hoskin said.

”The theme was water and light.” . . 

Feds and MPs put on a good show – Alan Emmerson:

I’ve been dealing with Federated Farmers and going to their functions for longer than I care to remember.

I’ve witnessed a strong, focused organisation and one with a distinct lack of focus.

Currently, in my view, Feds are as strong as they’ve ever been. 

They are well led, their staff contains a good mix of youth and experience and the policy and communications teams are second to none.

I believe Federated Farmers is becoming increasingly important because of its advocacy role. That advocacy allows us to continue farming. Without it we would be in some difficulty.

Until this weeks’ conference I hadn’t realised just how busy they are. . . 


Rebuilding trust

29/05/2018

The government’s decisions to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is an expensive one, but not eradicating it would be even more costly:

The Government says it has reached an agreement with farming sector leaders to attempt to eradicate the disease from New Zealand.

The cull, of around 126,000 in addition to the 26,000 already underway, will take place over one to two years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said to not act would cost even more than what would be spent on trying to eradicate it – $886 million.

$1.3b over 10 years was the estimated cost of not acting.

“Today’s decision to eradicate is driven by the Government’s desire to protect the national herd from the disease and to protect the base of economy – the farming sector,” Ardern said.

“This is a tough call – no one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd,” she said.

“I personally do not want to look back on this time … and say I wish we had tried harder.

“We have this one shot to eradicate, and we are taking it together.

“We want New Zealand to be free of it,” Ardern said.

The Government will meet 68% of the cost and Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand will meet 32%. . . 

Farmers have mixed views on the wisdom of this decision but it’s backed by DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb, Federated Farmers and the National Party.

Culling all the cattle will be devastating for farmers and sharemilkers but at least the government has committed to much faster action on compensation claims:

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said:

. . “I’ve also asked MPI to revisit the compensation process and they’ve developed a new streamlined approach for those whose animals are culled to enable a substantial payment within a matter of days.

“Farmer welfare is crucial and I’d like to thank the Rural Support Trusts for the work they’re doing. With this decision we know more help is needed and the Government and industry groups are committed to helping farmers through this stressful time. . . 

No-one thinks eradicating the disease will be easy and as David Williams writes, another  difficult task will be rebuilding trust in MPI:

. . When the dust settles, and the debate about eradication – or not – is over, MPI needs to start listening. Listening to farmers, to vets, to business people. Because I think MPI’s biggest job is not getting rid of M. bovis, it’s regaining trust. . . 

(MPI admits compensation payments have been too slow. Biosecurity response director Geoff Gwyn told Newshub: “I lose sleep over the fact there are people out there suffering as a result of the actions we’re putting on, and I know it’s cold comfort for them, but they are taking a hit for the national herd.”)

It doesn’t stop there, however. Criticism of MPI is also happening in the supermarket aisles, over the bar in rural pubs and over farm fences. Most importantly, it’s happening at the dining table, shaping the attitudes of the next generation of farmers. Many are probably saying the same things as the infected farmers – but some are undoubtedly going further.

In South Canterbury, there’s talk that there have been signs of disease in some herds for years. Given what’s happened, some are asking why authorities were told at all.

Trouble ahead

That’s the biggest problem. A few people tell me the way MPI has handled this outbreak means, they think, some farmers won’t be inclined to report problems in the future. They don’t think MPI has their back. This is not to defend such behaviour, but to give the authorities a heads-up. If that attitude spreads like M. bovis has, there’s trouble ahead.

As with TB, farmers must be confident that if they report a problem it will be taken seriously, they will be treated fairly and compensated quickly.

Without that confidence, some farmers will be tempted to quietly shoot and bury infected stock.

Of course, in Roger Smith’s perfect world, everyone would do the right thing. But human nature – as proved by the failure of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system – tells us that doesn’t always happen.

MPI can’t possibly put field officers in every farm, so it has to rely on farmers to report problems. But this mood of mistrust, born of M. bovis, creates a climate of fear and self-reliance rather than faith in the system. The country needs faith, however, and it’s up to MPI to restore it.

What we’ve seen in recent months, however, is farmers turning on farmers, as the secrecy over which farms are infected leads to suspicion and accusation, not just about who knew what but when they knew it. The slowness or non-existence of compensation payments is an added stress. Businesses are failing, people are struggling and MPI is coming across as detached and cold-hearted.

At a national level, Federated Farmers says its members have to lift their game, particularly when it comes to animal identification and tracing. (Northland’s branch is calling for a full, independent inquiry about MPI’s approach to biosecurity.) Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has instructed officials to take a tougher approach to compliance with the tracing system, NAIT. These conversations should have been had years ago.

Problems with NAIT – both the system itself and compliance – must be addressed and addressed quickly.

The tougher conversations are to be had face-to-face with farmers. Yes, there needs to be a better job of selling the benefits of NAIT – that’ll help uptake. But the crucial conversations will be farmers telling MPI what they need, how best to help them and how, when the next outbreak hits – because it will – the ministry can improve its response.

Of course, just because the farmers are talking, doesn’t mean that MPI will listen.

MPI has lost the confidence of farmers.

They didn’t appear to realise the human and financial cost to farmers whose businesses have been threatened and the importance of clear communication and speedy settling of compensation.

Eradicating M. bovis must be its primary focus but it must take seriously the criticisms aimed at it and ensure that its systems and staff training improve so it and they regain farmers’ trust and are ready and able to respond faster and better to the next biosecurity incursion.

MPI’s media release gives some hope that it has already learned from its mistakes.

We understand this will be painful for farmers who are affected, and we are committed to looking after those who have Mycoplasma bovis on their farms.

If you are a farmer and need support, help is available through your industry group representative, individual response case manager, or the Rural Support Trust.

• Rural Support Trust: 0800 78 72 54

• MPI: 0800 00 83 33

Industry representatives:

• Dairy NZ: 0800 43 24 79 69

• Beef + Lamb NZ: 0800 23 33 52

• Federated Farmers: 0800 32 76 46

We’re calling on rural communities to support each other, especially affected farmers and those that appear to be finding it hard. If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services.

Download the Looking after yourself fact sheet [PDF, 813 KB]

Compensation

Compensation is available for anyone who has verifiable losses as a result of directions they are given by MPI under the Biosecurity Act to manage Mycoplasma bovis.

Farmers that are directed to have animals culled or their farm operations restricted under movement controls will be eligible for compensation. In particular, farmers whose animals are being culled will receive an initial payment for the value of culled stock within 2 weeks of a completed claim being lodged.

Learn more about Biosecurity Act compensation

Mycoplasma bovis compensation claim form user guide [PDF, 446 KB]

MPI must now ensure its actions match its words, and to date, this from Keith Woodford, shows they haven’t:

There are going to be huge challenges for MPI. To date, they have not covered themselves in glory. All members of their response team will have been working hard within imposed limits, but the MPI system has let them down with too many layers of management and an inability to make timely operational decisions for each farm.

The most urgent issue right now relates to all of the NOD (suspect) farms in the South Island that have their cows and their feed in different locations. As just one example of many, there is a Mid Canterbury farmer I know of who is caught in the constipated bureaucracy and as of today still cannot get approval to shift his stock less than two kilometres to another farm he owns (and which he agrees will then also become a NOD farm).

These cows need to be moved and should have been progressively moved over recent weeks as they were dried-off, if they are to have feed to eat. This farm is not one of the infected properties, rather it is just one of the 300 NOD suspect properties.

We don’t know how many farms are in this situation of cows isolated from their winter feed, but almost certainly well over 100. This is not the ‘gypsy day’ situation but something quite different. And it is a big animal and human welfare issue.

There should be no hold-up over permission to move stock from one block to another owned by the same farmer who agrees to it becoming a NOD farm.

The Government appears to be underestimating the complexity of the compensation claims. The challenge is that claims have to be ‘verified’, but loss of income claims are always debatable. Claim settlements require agreements on what would have happened and by definition that is impossible to verify objectively.

An MPI source advises that any claim over $75,000 requires five separate signatures across various ministries from within the Wellington bureaucracy after the technical assessors have reached agreement. Given the future tsunami of claims, from both infected and suspect properties, and the reality that almost no claims have yet to be settled except in partial amounts, there will be a need for a separate and preferably independent Claims Assessment Commission. . . 

 

This map shows the extent of the known spread of the disease. It looks bad and it is.

But so far all cases can be traced back to a single source, all infections are the same strain and nothing has been traced back further than 2015. It is a lot of farms and a lot of cows and devastating personally and financially for those affected.

Eradication will require a huge effort by the farmers affected and MPI and big changes within the dairy industry and those who support and service it.

 


M bovis far worse than expected

11/05/2018

The spread of Mycoplasma bovis is worse than has been expected:

The tracking of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis shows that more farms than previously expected are likely to be affected by the disease, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

“While we always expected to find more properties, officials tell me that the numbers will likely exceed their earlier modelling. That modelling work is continuing and we will have a clearer picture in the next couple of weeks. 

“MPI is continuing an intense programme of work with farming sector groups about the next best steps in the response – including containment and phased eradication.

“Testing to date shows all infected properties are connected in some way.   

“The tracing of Mycoplasma bovis is made harder by the poor use of the national animal tracing system (NAIT).  . . 

Problems with the system and with compliance must be addressed.

Had all cattle been registered through NAIT the tracking of stock from farms with the disease would have been much faster.

A cull of 22,000 cows is currently under way, with nearly half, 11,000 animals, destroyed.

“That cull is necessary to reduce the disease’s spread through the national herd. I know farmers whose properties are under control restrictions face a difficult time. I’m working hard to ensure the Government and sector make the best possible decision with the best possible information regarding Mycoplasma bovis. I expect that decision will come in the next few weeks. 

“Farmers should ensure any compensation claims they make related to Mycoplasma bovis are accurate, as it makes the process quicker. MPI and Dairy NZ have boosted the number of people working directly with farmers to assist in that process.  

“As of close of play Wednesday 9 May, 38 farms were active infected places and another 40 were under Restricted Place Notice (i.e. considered highly likely to become infected). Nearly 1700 properties are of interest because of risk events such as animal movements, the supply of milk for animal feed or because they are adjacent to infected properties,” says Damien O’Connor.

Tracking potentially infected stock has been complicated by the black market in calf sales.

A black market in cattle sales and a lack of compliance with the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) regime by farmers is hampering the Ministry for Primary Industries’ efforts to respond to Mycoplasma bovis, which is now New Zealand’s largest animal surveillance issue.

“We do have, unfortunately, quite a black market of cows sold for cash,” Geoff Gwyn, director of readiness and response at the Ministry for Primary Industries, told the primary production committee at the parliament today. “We’re looking at bank records, taking affidavits.”

The Ministry must treat this very seriously.

The black market might be being used to avoid tax, which is serious enough, hampering tracking is more so.

Anything which makes tracing stock is bad enough for a disease like M bovis, it would be much worse if it was Foot and Mouth.

Gwyn and other MPI officials were giving a briefing on the disease to the select committee. Head of Biosecurity New Zealand Roger Smith said it had been “a very challenging incursion response” because of the level of non-authorised stock movements and modern farm practices which meant cows were frequently moved to where the grass was best.

It was also a challenge because unlike a disease such as foot and mouth, there could be little outward sign of infection, and may display as a secondary illness such as mastitis or pneumonia, he said. “It’s a very difficult disease to find. You could have perfectly healthy animals that showed no signs” of the disease. Definitive testing took 60 days unless the animal was dissected. “You have to take the head off the animal.”

Poor records, cash sales and difficulty in identifying the disease have made containing it more difficult.

The increase in the number of infected herds – 129 properties were under some restriction last week, now there are 299 – will make compensation even more expensive.

It will also make it more likely that the Ministry will give up on eradication and look at management and containment instead.

The bovine toll is rising steeply, so are stress levels among farmers which is not helped by delays and uncertainty over compensation for those whose herds have been culled.


Rural round-up

18/04/2018

Government should use tertiary funding to push Kiwis into primary industries– Sarah Perriam:

Imagine two high school students.

One drops out to work in a factory.

The other finishes school, and now travels the world with chefs and photographers.

They’re both 25 years old, and earning $100,000.

How did they do it? They chose to work in the ‘food’ industry, which has for too long been called a ‘primary’ industry. . . 

Interim climate change committee immediately asked how to deal with agricultural emissions – Henry Cooke:

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has announced the members of a climate change committee and asked them to look at how to get agricultural emissions down.

The interim committee is chaired by David Prentice, who was most recently CEO and managing director of infrastructure firm Opus International Consultants, and features former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright.

The interim group will be replaced when an independent Climate Change Commission takes over in May of 2019, when Shaw hopes to pass a Zero Carbon Act, with an amendment at select committee to deal with agriculture. . . 

MPI committed to efficient Mycoplasma bovis compensation payouts:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is committed to helping farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis receive their due compensation and is working hard to process all current claims.

MPI’s director of response, Geoff Gwyn says MPI has not yet received compensation claims relating to its decision to direct the cull of some 22,000 cattle on infected properties, which MPI announced last month.

“However, we are aware some farmers are nervous about compensation timeframes and I would like to provide reassurance that we are running as fast and efficient a process as possible. . . 

$35,000 paid for Holstein calf – Sally Rae:

A six-week-old heifer calf from North Otago’s Busybrook Holsteins is believed to have set a New Zealand record, selling for $35,000.

The Bayne family held an on-farm “gold label” sale near Duntroon on Friday. The offering included both North American genetics and high-indexing New Zealand-bred cows.

The sale comprised calves, heifers and in-milk cows, with 45 lots sold in total – averaging more than $6700 and grossing $303,200. Buyers came from Northland to Southland, PGG Wrightson agent Andrew Reyland said. . . 

Providing insight into primary industries – Sally Rae:

She calls herself a multipotentialite.

Primary industries advocate Chanelle O’Sullivan wears a lot of hats and there is so much more to her than her Instagram handle, Just A Farmer’s Wife, would lead you to believe.

Indeed, she is a farmer’s wife, but she is also the mother of two energetic young children, an entrepreneur, a social media specialist, a futurist and someone with a never-ending source of ideas.

“Wherever I see anything, I see an opportunity,” she said.

Now she is getting excited about her latest venture — a business that combines her passion for the primary industries and technology to highlight New Zealand’s produce, careers, environment and skills. . .

Seeing trees for the wood :

The forestry sector is fired up with discussion about how to meet the Government’s One Billion Trees planting initiative. Partnering with red meat farmers to help them achieve what they want to achieve with trees in their businesses will be important to persuade any change of land-use, those attending a recent conference heard.

Delegates from throughout the forestry sector were in Wellington last month at ForestWood 2018 (21 March), a pan-sector conference drawing people from forestry companies to wood and paper manufacturers. . . 


Cull all cattle on M bovis farms – MPI

27/03/2018

The Ministry of Primary Industries has called for all cattle on properties infected with the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis to be culled.

“The depopulation of entire herds on all 28 Infected Properties (IPs) in New Zealand is a critical measure to control the spread of the disease and we will be working closely with those farmers to plan how this will happen,” says MPI’s response director Geoff Gwyn.

“This will be a big job and won’t happen overnight, but we’ll be meeting with the affected farmers in the coming days to discuss the operation, develop the plans and talk through compensation.”

All IP farmers will be compensated for their verifiable losses. MPI continues to build its compensation team to make sure farmers are compensated as quickly as possible. Once farms are de-populated and cleaned, these farmers can start re-building a disease-free herd from scratch.

“We understand this has been an incredibly difficult time for farmers while they wait for critical decisions to be made about managing and controlling this disease,” says Mr Gwyn.

“This cull will give those farmers back some certainty and control over the future of their farms, their animals and their livelihoods.

“We are able to take this decision now because we are confident Mycoplasma bovis is not well established in New Zealand.

“The testing of milk from every dairy farm in New Zealand is very well advanced and to date has only identified one new infected property.

“This, combined with MPI’s extensive surveillance work tracing every possible movement of animals from infected farms, gives us the confidence to say the disease is not widespread, but is limited to a network of farms connected by animal movements. Culling these animals is now the appropriate action.”

Non-infected farms that are under Restricted Places Notices (RPN) or Notices of Direction (NoDs) are not being asked to cull their herds at this point because infection has not yet been confirmed on those properties. Confirmation relies on the defining genetic test which provides complete confidence that animals on a farm are positive.

Mr Gwyn says MPI will work with farmers to develop individual management plans for each of these properties – until a decision on whether to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis or move to long-term management is made.

“We all want to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis – but it has to be technically possible, practically achievable and affordable for everyone.  Our focus is on the resilience of our dairy and beef industries which are such significant contributors to our economy, and on farmer well-being and the welfare of animals.

“Whatever option is taken, we will need to see some big changes in on-farm biosecurity and NAIT compliance. There remains a big job to do around this disease, and there is no quick exit from this situation.”

Some farmers have been very slack about record keeping. One reason for that is problems with the NAIT system.

Both the system and compliance must improve.

Mycoplasma bovis only affects cattle, it is not harmful to other animals or humans. Up to date, and 100% correct, record keeping is essential for tracing stock if, or when, there is another outbreak of this or any other disease – many of which would have more serious consequences for animal health, farmers and the economy than M. bovis.

While MPI with industry partners will continue to focus on surveillance and tracking the spread of the disease, there is critical work being done to model the potential spread of Mycoplasma bovis under different scenarios and in understanding the costs and benefits of decisions around eradication.

“People will say ‘why haven’t you done this already’.  In fact we have been working on this since the disease was detected and we depopulated 7 farms in December.  We halted further culling until we better understood the spread of the disease. We are now at that point where we have that understanding and can complete this work with confidence,” says Mr Gwyn.

“We now believe the disease is not endemic and we can complete this analysis and planning, but we will take care and time to get it right because decisions about the future management of this disease are too important to rush.”

The Ministry says cattle on 28 properties have been actively identified as having the disease,  22 have cattle remaining on them that will need to be culled.

This will be a huge and expensive undertaking but it is the only way there will be any chance of eradicating the disease.

The cull will be devastating for the affected farmers who will have spent years building up their herds but it has to be done and they must be properly compensated for the loss of their stock and income.

 


Rural round-up

25/02/2018

M. bovis progarmme being speeded up – Sally Rae:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is accelerating its tracing and surveillance programme so a decision whether to proceed with Mycoplasma bovis eradication can be made as soon as possible.

It has urged any dairy and beef farmers who believe they may have animals at high risk of infection to make contact immediately.

”Right now, we need to hear from any farmers who have bought cows and calves or milk for calf feed from farms that have been publicly identified as infected. If these farmers haven’t already heard from us through our tracing work, we would dearly like to hear from them,” director of response Geoff Gwyn said.

The MPI was particularly interested to hear from those who had received cattle or calves from Southland-based Southern Centre Dairies Ltd at any time after January 1, 2016, and had not already been contacted by the MPI. . . 

Swede seed mix up in ‘human error’ leaves farmers with wrong variety – Brittany Pickett:

A “human error” in seed deliveries across much of the country has resulted in hundreds of farmers planting the wrong variety of swedes on their properties.  

PGG Wrightson Seeds has alerted farmers who bought the new seed variety, Hawkestone yellow-fleshed Cleancrop swede, that a different line of white-fleshed swede, HT-S57, had been distributed to customers instead.

HT-S57 swede was phased out in 2016 and replaced with the Hawkestone swede variety.

However, the HT-S57 seed was distributed to farmers for planting for winter feed instead of the new Hawkestone swede variety. The company said in a statement that the mistake was caused by human error.. . .

Demand leaves NZ livestock numbers low – Sally Rae:

Livestock numbers available for processing over the rest of the season are lower than in any of the previous five seasons, a forecast by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service shows.

Dry conditions and strong prices for lamb, mutton and beef in the December quarter drove high processing volumes.

The average values per tonne for lamb, mutton and beef exports were at record or near record levels in the December quarter, the forecast says.

The total number of lambs available for processing in 2017-18 was forecast to be up 1.3% on the previous season. . . 

Opotiki kiwifruit growers win BOP Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White and their Coastal Kiwis orchard have won the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Ten years ago, the couple embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki.

Their work and passion have transformed part of an organic dairy farm into the successful 5.85ha orchard it is today, the Awards judges said. . . 

Rotorua and Hokitika farmers named as finalists for Māori excellence in farming award:

Two dairy farming operations are the finalists in the Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award.

They are Rotorua’s Onuku Māori Lands’ Trust and the Proprietors of Mawhera Incorporation (Hokitika).

The Onuku Māori Lands Trust’s Boundary Road Farm is a 72 hectare block near Lake Rotomahana, about 30 kilometres south of Rotorua. The farm milks 220 cows which produce about 90,000kg of milk solids. The trust  consists of four dairy farms, a drystock farm, forestry, natural reserves and a manuka plantation.  Onuku has also developed outside the farm gates, starting an export honey business called Onuku Honey. . . 

New beef product on the cards – Hugh Stringleman:

Fast-growing dairy-beef steers slaughtered at about 12 months of age could be the basis of a new-generation beef product range.

Rearing those cattle for the beef industry could address some of the concerns in the rural-urban divide about the two million annual bobby calf slaughter, Massey University researcher Nicola Schreurs said.

The short growing period to maximise growth efficiency should also help address concerns about beef’s high environmental footprint, a consequence of the animals’ two- or three-year life.

She told farmers at the annual Limestone Downs field day in northern Waikato about a  pilot study at Massey’s Keebles Farm where 80 Hereford-Kiwicross steers are being fast-tracked. . . 

 

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Rural round-up

20/12/2017

Six suspected suicides of farmers ‘tragic’ – Alexa Cook:

A group representing young farmers says a spate of suicides over the past few weeks is tragic – but not surprising – after a really stressful year for the sector.

New Zealand Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said it’s been a really tough time for the farming community and there have been six suspected suicides in recent weeks.

“My understanding is that there were four young men in Canterbury last week that had taken their own lives.

“But also I’ve heard two in the Waikato as well, and one of them in the Waikato was one of our young farmer members … it’s tragic,” he said. . . 

Federated Farmers president’s message to workers after sudden deaths in rural communities

Farming groups are pleading with stressed workers to speak up if they need support in the wake of a series of deaths of young men across the country.

The Herald on Sunday understands four farmers died suddenly in the past few weeks, including a Hamilton City Young Farmer member, and a popular rodeo competitor in Canterbury. Both were aged in their 20s.

The coroner’s office has confirmed one of the deaths is before coroner Michael Robb.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne broke down in tears while speaking to the Herald on Sunday, saying she was becoming increasingly desperate to remind farmers that help was available if they needed it. . . 

The faces of disease-fearing farmers: Mycoplasma bovis meeting spills out of Southland hall – Dave Nicoll:

Farmers spilled out of a Winton hall as hundreds of them gathered at a meeting, concerned about the discovery of Mycoplasma bovis in Southland.

The Memorial Hall was packed to capacity with people standing, and even spilling outside as they waited to hear what the Ministry for Primary Industries had to say about the containment of the disease.

Ministry director of response Geoff Gwyn said the response team was working to identify where in Southland infected cattle had been moving, in an effort to contain the disease. . . 

Japan’s Itoham Yonekyu buys 100% of Anzco Foods as part of Asia growth strategy – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – Japanese-listed Itoham Yonekyu Holdings has received Overseas Investment Office approval to increase its shareholding of Anzco Foods to 100 percent, from the 65 percent it already owned.

Anzco was New Zealand’s second-largest meat company and fifth-largest exporter in 2016, with turnover of $1.5 billion and 3,000 employees. It was already 83.3 percent overseas owned, with 16.8 percent of the company held by Japanese marine products company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, known as Nissui, and the remaining 18.2 percent owned by the company’s chair Graeme Harrison and management. Harrison will step down at the company’s next annual meeting in March, having signalled his plans for retirement in 2015. . . 

What do we do? Agriculture in the age of synthetic food – William Ray:

Meatless meats and milkless milks seem to be just over the horizon and with many companies aiming to undercut the price of the ‘real’ stuff there’s the potential for a real threat to the New Zealand economy.

In this special episode of Our Changing World, William Ray investigates.

“We’ve got chicken or beef!” yells comedian Ben Hurley from an ad in my Facebook feed (cue sound effects for clucking chickens and mooing cattle).

“Wow, that’s absolutely delicious!” gushes a smiling stranger, which is the only polite response when someone hands you a free taco and pushes a microphone into your face.

Now the big reveal: “Do you know what… that’s 100 percent plant based!” (cue record scratch sound effect). . . 

Social licence and NZ aquaculture:

Research from the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge has found that personal relationships go a long way towards aquaculture companies gaining/maintaining community acceptance and social licence to operate.

Interviews with aquaculture, fishing and enviro community groups have revealed that social licence to operate (SLO) is easily lost – or absent – if a company’s relationship is purely transactional; ie if links with the local community are solely business-related.

“Relational relationships, where one or more employees have personal as well as professional relationships with community, go a very long way to gaining and maintaining SLO,” said Peter Edwards, a co-author of the paper and a Political Scientist at Scion. “In other words, these employees are part of community life.” . . 

Director election for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island electoral district:

A Director election will be held for Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Northern North Island electoral district after three nominations were received.

Martin Coup of Aria, Murray Jagger of Whangarei and Ross Wallis of Raglan will stand as candidates to replace current Northern North Island director and chairman James Parsons, who announced last month he was not seeking re-election. . . 


Where else is M Bovis?

14/12/2017

Mycoplasma bovis has been found in the North Island and Southland.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has identified 4 new properties as positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and strongly suspects one further property.

One of the latest infected properties is in the Hastings district, the other 3 are within a farming enterprise in Winton. The suspect property is near Ashburton.

MPI’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn says early indications are that all the properties have links with the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) through cattle movements.

“The Hastings and Ashburton properties were identified through our tracing programme and the Winton property was identified through the industry milk testing programme.

“All of the movements we have been tracing are prior to 21 July, when the disease was first detected and notified to MPI.

The stock on these properties all has links back to the property where the disease was first identified.

The problem is no-one knows where it came from and how it got there.

It is possible, maybe probable, it is on other farms but hasn’t been identified which raises the question of where else it might be.

It carries no risk to people but it is serious in cattle and spreads from animal to animal.

“The Hastings and Winton properties are now under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act. This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm. The suspect property is under voluntary movement controls until their status is confirmed. MPI is working closely with them.

Mr Gwyn says these new developments are not good news.
“We’re still analysing what this means for the wider response. We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Our investigators are building a picture of stock movements onto and off these farms so we will not be making hasty decisions on next steps.

“While it’s really disappointing to have these new properties, it is not totally unexpected. We know that this disease is spread through contact between animals and through the movement of stock – as is the case here.

“It was always possible further infected properties would be found, buying, selling and moving stock is a common practice in farming. A key part of our response has been identifying and investigating animals that have moved to or from affected properties before Mycoplasma bovis was first detected. This tracing is complex detective work which takes time.

“I know an obvious question people will have is ‘Why has it taken this long to find these properties?’. The answer to that lies with the nature of this particular bacteria.

“It is a tricky thing to find and often hides within an animal, lying dormant and not revealing itself for weeks or months. Some cattle may be infected and never show signs of the disease. This is why we test multiple times using multiple kinds of tests. Sometimes to confirm the disease we have to test organ tissue from animals at slaughter as was the case in Hastings.

This is a very slow process which is frustrating and concerning  for everyone involved but the diffiuclty in identifying infected animals isn’t peculiar to Mycoplasma bovis.

Some cows in our herd tested positive for TB several years ago. The infected cows were killed, the herd was tested again and any cow that reacted was killed – most didn’t have the disease.

The herd eventually tested all clear but a couple of years later we got another positive test. We went through the same process and eventually the herd was cleared.

Some time after that a cow from our original herd dried herself off and was culled. When she was killed she was found to be riddled with TB. The vets said that was the carrier they’d been looking for and, if I understand what they said correctly, her system hadn’t reacted to the multiple tests she’d undergone because it was busy fighting the disease.

Mr Gwyn said MPI is continuing with its policy of not naming the affected properties if the owners did not want this.

MPI is prevented from doing otherwise by the Privacy Act. However, we do understand community concern about the disease and we are strongly encouraging farmers under controls or investigation to talk to their neighbours, customers and suppliers.”

That would be my advice.

Neighbours and anyone coming on to the farms will know which properties are under controls and the grapevine will be spreading the news.

It’s far better to be up front and give the facts than to let rumours spread based on only part of the story and misinformation.

Mr Gwyn said the depopulation programme is almost complete on the infected Van Leeuwen properties and is on track to be completed before Christmas. To date over 3,500 animals have been culled.

“Our extensive testing and tracing work also continues. So far the MPI lab has completed over 55,000 tests and our investigators have followed up 250 properties around the country.

“We encourage all farmers and rural contractors to help protect their farms and businesses by following standard on-farm hygiene best practice and to ensure their NAIT and all farm records are kept up to date.” Full information on hygiene measures and other resources are available on the MPI website.

“This is a really tough time for all the affected farmers who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own. MPI, Rural Support Trusts and industry are supporting them but they will also need support from their neighbours and communities, especially at what is already a stressful time of year.”

MPI will be holding a public meeting in the Hastings area on the evening of Wednesday, 20 December. Time and venue are to be confirmed. Keep an eye of the MPI Facebook page for event details.

Federated Farmers echoes the advice on hygiene measures:

Good on-farm biosecurity and accurate tracing of animal movement is not an option in today’s world, it’s an imperative, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said.

Positive tests for Mycoplasma bovis in herds in Hastings and Winton (Southland) and a suspected case in Ashburton further underline the need for farmers to treat biosecurity measures on their own properties as a top priority.

Federated Farmers and other industry leaders remain committed to eradicating Mycoplasma bovis, even though today’s announcement makes that a bigger but by no means impossible challenge, Katie said.

“Don’t rely on others to protect your patch, protect it yourself. In the end, we are all biosecurity officers with a role to play.”

Establishing a 1.5m buffer along fence lines with neighbouring properties should be standard practice. Where practical that could be a vegetation buffer, which would deliver biosecurity and biodiversity benefits. Close and repeated contact with an infected animal is still regarded as the most likely way Mycoplasma bovis is spread. As one farmer said at a recent meeting, “losing some grazing is a small cost compared to losing your herd”.

If vets and AI technicians are visiting your property make sure they have thoroughly cleaned their equipment before they arrive and do so before they leave, and provide hot water and disinfectant for their hands and equipment. Consider making a footbath and a scrubbing brush handy for the boots of all visitors coming onto, and leaving, your farm.

“Think about your own actions too. If you’re visiting a neighbour, clean your boots and any gear you might bring,” Katie said.

“Making sure your NAIT records are right up to date, giving special attention to recording stock movements. 100% compliance with traceability requirements [NAIT and Animal Status Declaration (ASD)] is not only vital for biosecurity but increasingly important as we sell our high quality product to discerning customers.”

Where practical, limit cattle movements onto your farm. Mycoplasma bovis can be present in apparently healthy animals and there is currently no sufficiently reliable, pre-movement test that can be applied to detect latent or hidden infection. Farmers with leased/loaned terminal bulls may need to think about sending them straight to slaughter. This may well mean a change in practice, but it’s well worth thinking about and discussing with the bulls’ owner.

Federated Farmers does not know who the newly-affected farmers are as their privacy is important, Katie said. “We certainly extend our best wishes to them in what will be a stressful time, and we will continue to work closely with MPI and other sector groups on this sensitive and vital issue.

“Federated Farmers has been helping affected farmers where we can and as we are asked. I encourage any of the new farmers to contact us or their local Rural Support Trust if they have any questions or want assistance.”

Other biosecurity measures farmers can take are listed on the MPI’s web page.

MPI knows where the disease was first identified but nobody knows where it came from.

Any farm with cattle could be harbouring the disease without knowing it.


Rural round-up

11/11/2017

Young sheep and beef farmers lift their performance with small tweaks – Brittany Pickett:

For Matt and Joe McRae, getting their ewes to perform at a consistently high level is their number one goal.

The young Southland brothers – who farm their 575 hectare effective rolling hill country farm Eilean Donan in partnership – are aiming to have their ewes lambing more than 150 per cent every year and, more importantly, grow the lambs to maximise every kilogram produced per hectare.

“The lambing percentage is only one part of it, it’s the product out the gate that pays the bills,” Matt says. . . 

Let’s get the facts, not fiction, on M.bovis – Geoff Gwyn:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wishes to set the record straight regarding the article titled ‘Imported semen fingered for M.bovis outbreak’ in Rural News October 24.

Read the article here

In the article, Chris Morley, DairyNZ biosecurity manager stated that, in his opinion, he would bet on semen as the most likely source of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. Of course, Mr Morley is entitled to his opinion, but the fact of that matter is that MPI does not know how or when Mycoplasma bovis entered NZ, although significant efforts are being made to find out.

A full investigation is looking at six possible means of entry: live animals, imported semen, embryos, contaminated equipment, biological material (such as vaccines) and feed. While this is underway, we are not going to speculate on the origin of the disease in NZ. . .

Saltwater intrusion – Waimea Water:

What is saltwater intrusion

In the 2001 drought, saltwater intrusion occurred in the lower reaches of the Waimea River and was threatening to migrate further inland. In March Tasman District Council opened talks to consider options to protect the dry riverbed. Because the river had no flows, no river water was flushing the saltwater out and it was instead accumulating on the estuary. The Council discussed building a bund across the river and drilling monitoring bores to better monitor how the saltwater contamination was migrating inland, including to the urban supply bores. Ultimately, three urban supply wells were shut down over this period and two were decommissioned at the end of the drought.

Saltwater intrusion is a threat to coastal communities. Once saltwater has entered an underground freshwater system (aquifer) and contaminates it, it can cost much more to treat it for consumption or simply render the supply unusable. For people along the Waimea Plains who rely on bores for their water supply, saltwater intrusion is a real issue. . . 

Why blaming farmers doesn’t hold water – Vaughan Jones:

Water is being discussed across the country, but without solutions. Farmers are blamed, never townies, but look at this photo of polluted water entering the Waikato River just upstream of Fairfield Bridge, in September 2016. If a farmer did the same, they would be fined up to $50,000 and closed down until fixed. I’ve been told by a person that what looked like toilet paper was in some of it.

Environment Waikato told me in 1995 that Hamilton needed four sediment ponds. There are still none while thousands have been built on farms at high cost. This is another example showing that rules for farmers are stricter than for townies.

Waikato Regional Council has forced some farmers to build sediment ponds, but they are negatives because of high costs, and because fresh effluent is of more value and causes less polluting when spread fresh, not months later during which time much has been lost into the air, polluting it, and reduced its fertilising value. . . 

Bay of Islands P&I Show runs in the family:

Sam and Christine Ludbrook will be at the Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show at Waimate North this weekend, as they have been every year for decades. And they won’t be the only Ludbrooks there by any means.

The show was first staged, as an agricultural demonstration, at the Waimate North mission in 1842. It’s still going strong 175 years later, making it the oldest show of its kind in the country.

And Ludbrooks have been there from the start.

Sam’s grandfather was there in the early days, exhibiting stock, and his brother was on the committee. And while no one can be absolutely sure, it is almost certain that his great-grandfather, Samuel Blomfield Ludbrook, was there in 1842. . . 

Which NZ university has the best employment rates?

As we get older what we talk about with friends changes. This is because of the challenges faced and experiences shared. So when Megan Hands’ friends from her hometown started talking about the choices they had to make when they finished studying, she found she couldn’t join in.

After finishing school, Hands left home in the Manawatu and moved south because she wanted to study both environmental management and agriculture, and Lincoln University offered exactly what she was looking for. Fast forward to graduation and she found some of her contemporaries were having conversations completely outside what she had experienced.

Hands is now running her own farming sustainability company as an environmental consultant.

The experience of Hands and others in her year group are typical for Lincoln University graduates. In Ministry of Education statistics released recently, Lincoln University Bachelor’s Degree graduate employment rates are consistently the highest among New Zealand universities. A survey of graduates from the Lincoln class of 2016 found that 93 percent of those employed were in career-related positions. . . 

#My60acres: soybean harvest – Uptown farms:

#My60Acres is harvested again!  This was the second year Matt let me play a leading role in the management of a sixty acre field on our home farm, and my first soybean crop. 
 
I didn’t get to start the morning with him because my work schedule has been a little hectic, so I didn’t join until late afternoon.  But as soon as I got there, he slid over and let me take the wheel.
 
It might sound odd that he couldn’t wait a day or two for my schedule to be better, but soybean harvest is very time sensitive.  We have to wait long enough the plants are dry, but not too long. . . 


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