Rural round-up

June 30, 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

April 29, 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

April 16, 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

April 10, 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

March 7, 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

February 19, 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

January 28, 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.

 


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