Rural round-up

October 23, 2017

Red meat halves risk of depression:

Women who reduce lamb and beef in their diets are more likely to suffer depression, according to the new study.

Experts admitted surprise at the findings because so many other studies have linked red meat to physical health risks.

The team made the link after a study of 1000 Australian women.
Professor Felice Jacka, who led the research by Deakin University, Victoria, said: “We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health but it turns out that it actually may be quite important. . . 

Tech means go slow to speed up – Richard Rennie:

A warts and all insight to precision agriculture’s impact on those at the sharp end includes frustrations over data quantities it generate but also the rewards of sticking with it and saving significant sums along the way.

At this year’s precision agriculture conference in Hamilton delegates had the chance to learn about hands-on farmer experiences with the many different versions of the technology and pick up some lessons on how to get the most from it. . .

Farmers should benefit from calls for greater transparency around food production – Gerald Piddock:

Consumer demands for more transparency in food production are expected to bring greater rewards for New Zealand farmers demonstrating good environmental stewardship.

The push for more transparency came from a growing interest in how food was produced, Ministry for Primary Industries’ director general Martyn Dunne told delegates at the International Tri-Conference for Precision Agriculture in Hamilton on October 16. . .

Concern for farmers involved in outbreak – Sally Rae:

South Canterbury Rural Support Trust trustee Sarah Barr says she is very concerned for the farmers involved with the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, describing it as an “excruciating experience” for them.

Mrs Barr, who has been working closely with the farmers, urged the community to support them.

“Keep in mind how terrible it is for these guys losing their animals,” she told about 50 people attending a public meeting in Waimate this week.

Ministry for Primary Industries technical liaison officer Victoria Barrell said Mycoplasma bovis was a “terrible disease“. . .

NAIT disease response fell short – Annette Scott:

National Animal Identification and Tracing fell short of expectation in the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis response, Ministry for Primary Industries readiness and response director Geoff Gwyn says.

He told a farmer meeting in Waimate on Thursday that NAIT animal declaration had played a key part in the response.

“But we have learnt a lot. It has fallen short of expectation, been disappointing,” Gwyn said.

“If this had been a fast moving disease we could well be in a different situation. . . 

Orchard buyers set new kiwifruit gold standard as Zespri expands plantings – Gerard Hutching:

Prices for kiwifruit orchards have hit new highs, with a handful of sales this week in Bay of Plenty over the $1 million per hectare mark.

Stan Robb of PGG Wrightson Real Estate in Te Puke said properties were in such demand they were snapped up in days.

In June the region was abuzz with news of the first orchards to break through the $1m per ha ceiling. Those orchards had a full crop on them, so the new owners could make an immediate income, unlike the recent ones. . .

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4,000 cattle to be culled

October 13, 2017

The Ministry of Primary Industries has ordered around 4,000 cows from seven farms to be culled to prevent the spread of Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is moving forward with control measures to prevent further spread of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with plans being developed with farmers to cull animals from the known infected farms.

“Since the start of this response in late July, we’ve carried out tens of thousands of tests of the infected, neighbouring and trace properties as well as district-wide testing in Waimate and Waitaki, and nationwide testing of bulk milk,” says MPI’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn.

“The only positive results for the disease have been on 7 infected properties, leading us to be cautiously optimistic that we are dealing with a localised area of infection around Oamaru,” Mr Gwyn says.

“To prevent further spread of the disease, around 4,000 cattle on 5 of the 7 infected properties will need to be culled and a programme put in place to decontaminate the properties and then re-populate the farms. The 2 other properties have had a small number of animals culled already and no cattle remain.

“This whole operation is about managing the disease while keeping our future options open. We want to minimise the risk of further spread of the disease.  Moving ahead with depopulation of the affected farms will allow them to get back to normal business as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Currently there is no need to remove animals from other farms in the Van Leeuwen group that are under restrictions. Testing of animals on those farms continues and should infection be found, they will be subject to the same measures.

In the coming weeks MPI will be working closely with the animal industry bodies, the Rural Support Trust and others to support the affected farmers.

DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb New Zealand support the actions MPI is taking, while at the same time recognising that this is a difficult time for the farmers involved. The industry bodies believe the measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where Mycoplasma bovis is not endemic, which is why the industry groups support such significant measures to keep it that way.

“The coming weeks will present new challenges and will be tough for these affected farmers. MPI will work with those affected to make the process as straight forward as possible. I’d like to particularly thank the owners, sharemilkers and farm workers involved for their ongoing support, recognising this is a very difficult time for them,” Mr Gwyn says.

“I want to be very clear that this isn’t something that’s going to start tomorrow. This is a big logistical exercise, it needs to be thoroughly planned and co-ordinated and we will be doing it with the farmers who know their businesses best,” Mr Gwyn says.

MPI anticipates the first stage of the process – removing the animals – will start after consultation with affected parties. Most of the cattle will be sent for slaughter in accordance with standard practice.

All premises, transportation vehicles and equipment involved in culling will follow a strict decontamination and disinfection protocol to mitigate the risk of spreading the disease.

Once depopulation is completed, there will be at least a 60 day stand-down period where no cattle will be permitted on the farms. During this time the infected properties will be cleaned and disinfected.

Following this work, the aim will be to get cattle back on the farms as quickly as possible. Surveillance, monitoring and testing will remain in place for a period as a further safeguard.

The affected farmers can apply for compensation for verifiable losses relating to MPI exercising legal powers under the Biosecurity Act.

The disease carries no risk to human health but there is no cure for it. Culling is a drastic step but it has the support of affected farmers and industry groups including DairyNZ:

Dairy farmers around the country will be reassured by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) decision to cull animals on farms infected with the disease Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“Since M. bovis was first identified in July farmers have been on high alert and worried about the impact of this disease,” says Dr Mackle.

“DairyNZ is supportive of MPI’s decision to step up control measures by culling these animals. However, we also know that the decision will create heartache for the affected farmers, and our sympathies are with all those involved on-farm.”

Dr Mackle says the decision follows extensive work and testing by MPI, with significant support from DairyNZ and many other agencies. Since the disease was first identified in July over 30,000 tests have been carried out by MPI.

MPI is increasingly confident that infection has not spread outside the primary farming enterprise involved with this outbreak, or any of the other farms also under restricted place notices.

Over the coming weeks there will be continued monitoring and testing in the interests of shutting down this disease in New Zealand.

He says biosecurity is fundamental to the future success of all New Zealand’s primary sectors, dairy included. . . 

This is echoed by Beef + Lamb NZ:

. . . James Parsons, chairman of B+LNZ, said: “The decision will obviously have significant implications for the farm businesses and the rural communities affected by this disease outbreak and we wish to see all available support and compensation provided to those affected. We believe these measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease.

“New Zealand takes its biosecurity very seriously and is one of the few countries in the world where this disease isn’t endemic, so that’s why the industry is willing to support such significant measures to keep it that way.” 

Federated Farmers also supports the move:

The decision to destroy stock which have been in contact with affected animals is the only option which will ensure peace of mind for the rest of New Zealand’s dairy and beef farmers, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We also support the continuation of strict movement controls on the remaining 13 properties that have been placed under Restricted Place Notices.

“These restrictions have significant implications for the people concerned, and all other farmers, so this action is essential to keep the option of eradication on the table.”

M. bovis infected stock can be severely affected by the disease, causing pain and suffering.

“We recognise the disease has come at a significant emotional cost to the affected farming families and their animals. The process of culling whole herds will be very stressful for the people concerned.

“But the disease does not respond to treatment and cannot be vaccinated against. Culling is the only logical option to prevent ongoing suffering of the animals.”

From a national perspective, our size, relatively low population and geographic isolation gives us the ability to manage and attempt to eradicate biosecurity incursions, when other countries cannot.

“M. bovis is found in most countries, including Australia, this is a disease that we definitely don’t want and we should seek to eradicate it, if feasible.

“We’ve remained free of many pest animals and pest plants (weeds) and diseases that have decimated other country’s livestock industries. For the sake of our livestock industries and the economy, it’s crucial we act now to ensure this remains the case,” Katie says.

Culling the cattle is necessary but that won’t make it any easier.

When some of our cows tested positive for TB a few years ago we had to cull a few dozen from the herd.

That was hard enough but a very small loss compared with the thousands to be culled on these farms.

MPI will pay compensation based on the commercial value of the stock but that won’t cover the loss of income or the costs of rebuilding the herd. Nor will it replace generations of breeding that went in to building up the herd.


Rural round-up

August 5, 2017

Swift and thorough Mycoplasma bovis testing underway:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) continues to build the picture of where the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present, to contain and eradicate if possible.

The Ministry is carrying out extensive and thorough testing to establish where the disease is present, to give farmers and the New Zealand public certainty.

Ministry Director of Response Geoff Gwyn says MPI is carrying out surveillance and testing in a planned manner, based on prioritising risks and ensuring rigorous sampling and testing protocols are being followed. . . 

Mesh ‘stunning’ in control of TPP – Maureen Bishop:

The use of fine mesh covers could be the answer to controlling the tomato potato psyllid.

Dr Charles Merfield, the head of the BHU Future Farming Centre, who has been researching the use of mesh in potato crops, believes the problem of the psyllid may be solved.

The latest research by the farming centre compared an agrichemical regime with three meshes of different hole size: 0.3, 0.4 and 0.7mm.

Agrichemicals had a total of 1614 psyllids, while the meshes had four, five and three psyllids. . . 

National portrait: Katie Milne, first female Federated Farmers president – Sam Strong:

Before Katie Milne decided to put her hand up for national presidency of Federated Farmers, a few people needed to approve.

The decorated farmer is referring to her partner Ian Whitmore, daughter Andrea and son-in-law Simon and whether they could handle the 220-head dairy farm in the high rainfall-zone of Rotomanu, near Lake Brunner on the West Coast, without her at the helm.

“I checked with these guys, ‘Is this going to work for everyone, because you can’t rely on me’,” Milne says while preparing a snack of pizza bread and salami. . .

Caberfeidh Station finishes whopping 28,500 Te Mana lambs on chicory – Pat Deavoll:

Caberfeidh Station finished a staggering 28,500 lambs last season and credits a new feed regime that includes chicory for getting half of them directly to the meat processors.

Last year station block manager Jason Sutherland took on finishing 50 per cent of the targeted number of Omega Lamb Project lambs on chicory- a tremendous responsibility as he had little experience with the crop.

Caberfeidh in the Hakataramea Valley joined the Omega Lamb Project in 2015. The project is a Primary Growth Partnership between Headwaters, Alliance Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . . 

Deer velvet price down 25% – Alexa Cook:

Deer velvet prices dropped by up to 25 percent for the season just ended.

In the 2015/16 season prices averaged about $120 per kilogram, but for the 2016/17 season prices fell to about $95 to $100.

The main market for New Zealand deer velvet is South Korea and China, and exports for the year ending June reached $59.4 million, driven by an increase in volumes.

However, in the past year China has changed the regulations for deer velvet. . . .

N diverted to milk yield means – Sudesh Kissun:

Research shows that cows bred for low urea concentration end up using more nitrogen for milk protein productions.

CRV Ambreed says its genetic research into reducing nitrogen leaching on New Zealand dairy farms has identified that a proportion of the nitrogen is diverted away from the cow’s urea, going into milk protein.

The company says this finding gives it further confidence that breeding cows for low milk urea concentration will not only reduce the amount of nitrogen excreted in their urine, but will also increase the efficiency with which dietary nitrogen is used for milk protein production. . . .

 


Rural round-up

August 2, 2017

Survey shows big jump in number of farms making a profit:

A few weeks of winter remain but the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey shows there’s a spring in the step of those who work the land.

The responses to Research First from nearly 800 farmers show the highest level of confidence in current general economic conditions since 2014. Dairy and arable farmers are the most optimistic looking forward and all regions are demonstrating more optimism compared to the last survey, in January this year. . . 

Milk testing for tankers to stop cattle disease spread – Alexa Cook:

Bulk milk tests will be done on tankers across the country to see if the cattle disease outbreak has spread any further than South Canterbury.

The disease, mycoplasma bovis, has been found on two separate properties owned by the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in South Canterbury, who have 16 farms in the region.

Ministry for Primary Industries’ Director of Response Geoff Gwyn said it had decided to do a national bulk milk survey. . .

Protesters block Canterbury irrigation project:

Greenpeace protesters have locked themselves to construction equipment to try to block the construction of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme in central Canterbury.

The second stage of building the Central Plains Water (CPW) scheme began in May. The scheme is intended to irrigate 60,000 hectares of dairy, horticulture and stock between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers. . .

Captive workforce for hort sector – Pam Tipa:

A pilot scheme helping ex-prisoners and other offenders to find work in the horticulture industry is succeeding and will be expanded, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.

Corrections and Horticulture NZ have seen the first year of a pilot scheme succeed in Hawkes Bay and now plan to expand it into Bay of Plenty. It trains prisoners to be work-ready for employers and sets up horticulture work opportunities for their release.

“Corrections appreciates the support and leadership of the horticulture sector, which is helping change the lives of offenders and giving new hope to their families,” Upston says. . . .

Medium scale adverse event declared for Otago flooding:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today officially classified the flooding in Otago as a medium-scale event for Dunedin City, Clutha District, Waitaki District and Central Otago District.

“This is recognition of the damage caused and the challenges faced by the region, and triggers additional Government support,” says Mr Guy. . .

Flood hit Otago farmers appreciate Government assistance:

Federated Farmers applauds the Government’s decision to declare a medium scale adverse event in flooded parts of Otago.

The region was hit by extensive flooding last month with many paddocks especially on the Taieri Plains still under water and reports that supplementary feed has been lost to raging flood waters.

“Farmers are still doing it tough so this should bring some light to the end of the tunnel in what has been a grim week as the extent of damage has become clear,” says Federated Farmers’ Otago Provincial President Phill Hunt. . .

Greenpeace report dies a death by qualification – Doug Edmeades:

 Greenpeace recently released a report entitled Sick of Too Many Cows. In summary, it claims that intensive dairy is endangering our health and ipso facto the Government should stop all the proposed irrigation schemes and that the dairy industry should adopt a new ecological model.

Federated Farmers called it “sensational rhetoric”. Another commentator, Allan Emerson, described it as: “……. hysterical, unfounded allegations by a lunatic fringe group desperate for donations”. Amanda Larsson, a Greenpeace campaigner, retorted that such criticism was cavalier, adding, “I’m happy to have a conversation about the science. Examination and interrogation is central to the scientific process.”

Let’s take her at her word and do a little “examination and interrogation”. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers appoint new Executive Director:

Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers is pleased to announce the contracted appointment of Liz Read to the role of Executive Director for the next twelve months.

Liz runs her own consultancy called Reputation Matters, helping organisations to grow, maintain and save their reputation. She advises clients on stakeholder relations, issues and risk management, communications strategy and sustainability strategy. Her clients span the public and private sectors, industry organisations, not-for-profits and social enterprises. Liz’s corporate experience included ten years as External Relations Director for Lion New Zealand.  . . 


Mycoplasma bovis in NZ

July 26, 2017

A cow herd in South Canterbury has been diagnosed with  New Zealand’s first case of Mycoplasma bovis.

A highly contagious cattle disease commonly found in the world has infected a South Canterbury dairy herd in the first recorded case in New Zealand.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is responding to the detection of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis in 14 cows in the dairy herd. About 150 cows on the property have clinical signs that indicate they may be affected.

The ministry’s director of response, Geoff Gwyn, said Mycoplasma bovis did not infect humans and presented no food safety risk. There was no concern about consuming milk and milk products.

MPI was advised of sick cattle at the property last Monday, and the disease was confirmed by the ministry’s Animal Health Laboratory late on Saturday.

This will be a nightmare for the farmer and is of great concern to the industry.

No-one knows how the herd was infected but it is a reminder of the importance of stringent biosecurity border controls.

This disease doesn’t affect people and presents no food safety risk, but if it could get here so too could diseases which would.


Rural round-up

July 9, 2017

Election muddies water issues – Neal Wallace:

Freshwater management faces significant reform regardless of who wins September’s general election.

The Labour and Green Parties would campaign on policies tightening the granting of resource consents for activities such as dairying.

Labour also promised to charge “a resource rental for large water take for irrigation at a fair and affordable price”.

Also in the wings, Environment Minister Nick Smith said a technical paper on options for allocating and pricing water was due in December and would have to be addressed by the incoming government. . . 

Champion kiwi lamb could be world’s healthiest and tastiest – Dave Gooselink:

A bid to produce the world’s healthiest red meat is proving a hit for a group of South Island high country farmers.

Their unique Te Mana lamb was launched onto the market this winter, to be served up at top restaurants both here and in Hong Kong.

Life on the farm’s been a lot tougher in recent years for the country’s sheep, as the growth of dairying pushes them higher into the hills.

Geneticist Aimee Charteris has spent the past decade on a project to create a new breed of sheep. . . 

Geneticist ‘stoked’ to be finalist – Nicole Sharp:

Julia Aspinall is an animal-breeding specialist.

Passionate about her work and the sheep industry, this year she was nominated for the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry Award for the first time.

She was announced as a finalist earlier this month, alongside retired Havelock North  Romney breeder Tony Parker and Parnassus Perendale breeder Tim Anderson.

“I was pretty stoked [to find out I was a finalist,]” she said.

“I’m passionate about doing what I’m doing.”

Originally from Mt Aspiring Station in Wanaka, Ms Aspinall has always had a love of the sheep industry. . . 

Confidence, new skills and impetus result from course – Sally Rae:

When Balfour farmer Jonny Elder signed up for the Rabobank farm managers programme last year, the timing was perfect.

Designed for emerging farmers, the programme focused on the development of business management skills, with an emphasis on strategic planning, leadership and self-awareness.

Mr Elder and his wife, Michelle, farm a 460ha sheep and beef property in Northern Southland, where they run ewes, fatten lambs and trade a mix of beef calves and Friesian bulls.

When he went on the course, the couple had just finished their first year farming on their own account — having previously farmed with Mr Elder’s father and brother — and they were ready to put into action their own ideas and visions. . . 

Pest fence broken – Annette Scott:

The biosecurity system is creaking and won’t be sustainable in five years, Ministry for Primary Industries readiness and response director Geoff Gwyn says.

Biosecurity had some big challenges that needed to be addressed collectively, he told farmers at the Federated Farmers arable industry conference.

“To put it bluntly, our system is creaking.

“Biosecurity is working but the model that is there is not sustainable for five years’ time.

“Leave it to the Crown solely and it ain’t going to work. We have got to do it together,” Gwyn said.

And while tourism was great for the country it created greater risk. . . 

Time farming moved on from low cost to added value – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Fieldays at Mystery Creek in mid-June showcased New Zealand innovation, interaction and, in some cases, simply imagination.

When the imagination was backed with evidence, facts and data, it transformed to a goal.

That was the case for the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda released on the first day of the Fieldays.

Titled ‘A Recipe for Action’, the 2017 Agenda said “NZ’s future is as an artisan, niche producer of premium quality, safe and sustainable food and beverages, fibre and timber products”. . . 

Future: threat or opportunity – Annette Scott:

The food industry is one of the fastest changing in the world so producing food to feed it will no longer be business as usual, technology futurist Rosie Bosworth says.

The Future Advantage consultant and communicator told more than 200 farmers at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s FarmSmart event in Christchurch that while not much had changed in the way food had been produced for the past 10,000 years, it was changing now.

Technology and science were creating change beyond business as usual.

“We are amidst an era of exponential change with new business models evolving, accelerating and converging at breakneck speeds.” . . 

Franco Ledger to stand in Southland – Jonny Turner:

Southern harness racing breeders will have free access to the bloodlines of one of the area’s most recent pacing stars next breeding season.

Two-time Southland horse of the year Franco Ledger, by Falcon Seelster, will stand his first season at stud at Macca Lodge in northern Southland this spring, with a zero service fee.

The horse’s former trainer, Hamish Hunter, and co-owners the What Ever Syndicate, were keen to give the horse an opportunity at stud, so they persuaded Macca Lodge to take the horse, proprietor Brent McIntyre said. . .


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