Rural round-up

16/09/2020

Greens warned fertiliser tax will ‘create pressure on farmers’ :

The Green Party is being warned that a fertiliser levy is not a solution to more sustainable farming.

The Greens unveiled its agriculture policy in Canterbury at the weekend, where the party announced its plans to levy nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser sales.

They also want to establish an almost $300 million fund for the transition to regenerative and organic farming.

Environmental consultant Dave Ashby runs a dairy farm in North Canterbury.

Keeping animals fenced out, planting along the banks and adding oxygen weed are just a few of the measures he takes to keep his waterways clean.

To prove how clean the water is at his man-made drain he took a handful and drank it. . . 

Independently assessed candidates for Fonterra Board of Directors’ election announced:

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack, along with Nathan Guy, Cathy Quinn and Mike O’Connor have been announced as the Independently Assessed Candidates for the 2020 Fonterra Farmer Directors’ election. This year there are two Board positions up for election.

Nathan Guy, Mike O’Connor and Cathy Quinn were recommended by the Independent Selection Panel after their assessment process.

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack is seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. The Panel’s assessment of Brent will be included in the voting pack and as a re-standing Director he automatically goes through to the ballot. . .

Farm worker shows what folk with disabilities can do – George Clark:

A South Canterbury-based farm hand hopes to shed light on people with disabilities who have been overlooked for employment.

Timaru’s David Hanford Boyes has no balance and requires a walking stick to move.

While picking fruit in Australia in 1996, he was swept off a ladder by a branch and fell to the ground, crushing three vertebrae in his back.

Mr Hanford Boyes said he was lucky to have leading surgeons in Melbourne at the time offering a surgery not before tried on humans. . . 

Sharing his passion for dairy farming – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Telford dairy farm manager John Thornley has played a key role in getting the first GoDairy course under way at the Southern Institute of Technology Telford campus. He has first-hand knowledge of making a career change, as Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

After going from cook to cow cocky, Telford dairy farm manager John Thornley can relate to change.

He played a key role in getting the first GoDairy course under way at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Telford campus near Balclutha last month, and said he got a real kick out of seeing the 13 people taking part make big changes to their lives.

“They’re like a breath of fresh air and they’re wanting to learn all they can about dairying.” . . 

New director will help push for smarter farming:

Intellectual property lawyer and farm owner Jane Montgomery is Ravensdown’s newest shareholder-elected director, announced at yesterday’s 2020 annual meeting.

Christchurch-based Jane owns a farm in North Canterbury and has been elected as director of Area 3, which extends from Selwyn to the top of the South Island and includes the West Coast.

Ravensdown Chair John Henderson says Jane’s new perspective will be important as the co-operative and its shareholders tackle opportunities and challenges in a volatile world. . . 

 

Commission releases final report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2019/20 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price Fonterra sets for raw milk supplied by farmers, which is currently forecast to be $7.10 – $7.20 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019/20 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review the calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). The regime is designed to provide Fonterra with incentives to set the base milk price consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

13/08/2020

Workforce gap will hobble spring/summer production – Feds:

Tens of millions of dollars’ worth of farm production and the jobs of other workers are at risk if the government continues to dither on allowing a limited number of skilled agricultural machinery operators into New Zealand.

“Federated Farmers has been working with Rural Contractors NZ on this issue for several months,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.
“It has almost gone past critical now because we’re on the cusp of Spring activity and we need to get these seasonal workers on flights and into quarantine for two weeks.”

Exemptions have been allowed for workers laying synthetic tracks for horse racing, for the movie industry, and others. . . 

‘High $20/hour’ jobs available, but where are the workers? – Esther Taunton:

Southland’s Waipounamu Contracting is in dire need of people to drive its tractors and heavy machinery.

Human resources manager Emily Hawker said the company usually employed 15 to 20 workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland for the busy harvest period from November to March.

But with the borders closed to all but the most essential workers due to coronavirus, Waipounamu is scrambling to find Kiwis to fill the roles.

In a normal year, the business has room for two or three inexperienced employees but this year there could be up to 15 inexperienced operators, a “recipe for disaster”, Hawker said. . . 

Can strong wool find a new El Dorado? – Keith Woodford:

There are opportunities for strong wool based on quality and sustainability but it needs action plus applied R&D rather than more reports

There was a time when strong wool was used widely for garments. That included woollen underwear, woollen shirts, woollen jerseys and woollen jackets.  Apart from the fine wool produced by Merino sheep, those markets have largely been swept aside by synthetics.

There was also a time when carpets were predominantly of the woollen type. Then some lower cost but inferior synthetic carpets came along. And then some superior synthetic but still lower cost carpets came along. As with garments, the strong wool carpets have been largely swept aside. Strong wool carpets do still exist, but they are now a niche. . . 

Holding out for a better future – George Clark:

Timaru’s last large-scale wool merchant still holds hope for a strong future.

Terry Mulcahy, who died in 2013, started Mulcahy Wool and Skins in 1948.

His son, Barry, took over the business in 1985 and has remained in the wool industry ever since.

The company handles slightly more than 7500 bales a year, ranging from coarse crossbred to fine merino.

Mr Mulcahy has seen it all, from the height of the wool boom to this month’s market lows. . . 

From uncertainty to business owner – George Clark:

It is a yarn borne out of Covid-19.

With the tourism industry facing economic uncertainty, Canadian expat Kate Jones believed it was the right time for financial diversification.

At the beginning of June, Ms Jones was working a reduced and subsidised 20 hours a week for Mt Cook tourism company Alpine Guides while continuing plans for life on a Mackenzie lifestyle block.

Bought last year, the 4ha property just outside Twizel would become home to herself and Kiwi partner Chris Mackie. . . 

Another bumper year ahead?  – Sudesh Kissun:

Avocado growers are looking forward to another bumper year despite the global economic uncertainty.

NZ Avocado says the 2020-21 season crop is “looking very good on the trees”, with an expected 10-15% increase in volumes.

Last season, avocado growers received $154 million for their crop, a $10m increase over the previous season.

Exports rose 26% to 3.8m 5.5kg trays. Asian markets including Thailand, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan received 35% more volume, meeting the industry’s objective to grow volume to the region. . .

 


Rural round-up

03/08/2020

Rural women survived, thrived – Kerrie Waterworth:

Poverty,  isolation, bone-chilling winters, as well as the loss of jobs, partners and family homes were some of the hardships rural women experienced and had to overcome in their daily lives in the Upper Clutha. Kerrie Waterworth reports.

Sally Battson moved from Auckland to Makarora, a town at the head of Lake Wanaka on the Haast Highway between Wanaka and the West Coast, to marry the co-owner of Wilkin jet-boats in the 1980s.

Back then, the sealed road began and ended at Dinner Creek on Lake Hawea.

“People used to say to me ‘Don’t you get lonely?’ but you can get lonely anywhere. The thing I used to say about Makarora was it was on the way to everywhere.” . . 

Water tool for farmers wins  – Sally Rae:

Dunedin tech company Tussock Innovation has received the Digital Innovation Award at this year’s virtual National Fieldays.

Covid 19 restrictions meant the event — which generated $549million in sales revenue for New Zealand businesses and injected $249million into the country’s GDP last year — was held online.

For many in the agri-business sector, the event is the biggest sales opportunity of the year and, for Tussock Innovation, it provided a tool to meet customers, gain product validation information and expand brand recognition, chief executive Jesse Teat said.

The company won the award with its Waterwatch product, which it had spent the past six months “honing” with the support of Palmerston North-based Sprout agri-tech accelerator . . 

Big career change working out well – George Clark:

Simon Kennedy sought a drastic lifestyle change.

After a 25-year history driving stock trucks around the country, and with his son getting ready to fly the coop, he felt a call to the farm.

For the last 12 months, the 45-year-old has been the sole shepherd on the 3500ha Ben Ohau Station at Twizel.

“I came with an open mind and two dogs. Increasing my team up to four dogs, I [now] do 95% of the stock work and love the challenge this property gives me every day . .

Made of clay and full of history:

Restoring two cob cottages in South Canterbury has become a labour of love for a retired Christchurch couple with lots of energy and a passion for the area.

Early settlers in at Burkes Pass made the cob walls of the cottages from clay, animal manure and chopped snow tussock.

Jane and Graham Bachelor bought their first cottage at an auction at the local hotel in 1984. 

It was originally built by a shepherd, James Keefe, in 1876 and in a sorry state of repair when they acquired it, Jane says.

“We bought the cottage at a time when the exterior cladding and windows were disintegrating in front of our eyes.” . . 

Equity partnership pathway to farm ownership:

The New Zealand primary sector faces a dilemma over funding for future expansion which has prompted Bayleys rural real estate to take the initiative on helping to solve it. An upcoming seminar aims to introduce young farmers who are keen to get a piece of their own property to investors who have the capital to help back them.

Bayleys Country has organised a farm equity partnership seminar in Havelock North on August 12 and already have over 100 registered attendees.

Bayleys national director rural Duncan Ross said that bank sourced farm finance has become increasingly difficult for farmers and investors to secure after a relatively easy period for credit from the early 2000s to 2010. . .

New president of Agcarm:

The industry association for crop protection and animal health manufacturers and distributors has appointed Gavin Kerr, Country Manager for agrichemical company Nufarm, as its president at the Agcarm annual meeting on July 23.

Kerr says that “it’s a privilege to work in agriculture and a role I don’t take for granted”.

He would like to see one important change implemented well before the end of his three-year term.

“Farmers and growers need and deserve access to the best and latest products. But New Zealand is missing out on new, more effective treatments due to delays that discourage investment in introducing these technologies. . . 

Livestock management companies for sale provide fertile opportunities for new owners:

Two livestock birth-management firms enabling New Zealand farmers to be among the most productive primary producers in the world has been placed on the market for sale.

Cattle pregnancy testing company Ultra-Scan was established in 1994 to examine the fertility rate of pregnant cows. Ultra-Scan now has 20 franchises throughout New Zealand – with 14 in the North Island and six in the South Island. The majority of the company’s North Island franchise operations are located in the Greater Waikato and King Country districts.

While initially founded to deliver cow gestation scanning services, Ultra-Scan’s service offering has subsequently gone on to include similar pregnancy tests for sheep, deer and goats, as well as the de-horning of young calves aged between four days and 10 weeks of age – in a Ministry for Primary Industry-approved practice known as ‘disbudding’ on calves – as well as DNA sampling, electronic calf tagging for identification, and teat removal. . . 


Rural round-up

01/08/2020

A ticking time bomb – Sudesh Kissun:

Our dairy industry risks been exposed to a ‘ticking time bomb’ of unethical players unlawfully passing off New Zealand-made and packed milk powder products in China as supplements for babies.

A Kiwi entrepreneur has warned Rural News that the issue could easily become another food safety headache for the NZ dairy industry in the lucrative Chinese market.

Jane Li, a China dairy market consultant who operates retail stores in China, says formulated milk powders with added whey protein concentrate, lactoferrin and colostrum are being repacked by some Chinese-owned companies here and sold as supplements for infants and toddlers in the China market. . . 

MPI says it will act:

MPI says it takes the claims made by Jane Li seriously and where it has evidence that exporters are not meeting their requirements, it will take action.

Li says New Zealand’s dairy industry risks being exposed to a ‘ticking time bomb’ of unethical players unlawfully passing off New Zealand-made and packed milk powder products in China as supplements for babies. 

“We take complaints against New Zealand businesses very seriously,” a MPI spokesperson told Rural News.

He says that the safety and wellbeing of the public is central to the rules and requirements New Zealand has in place to ensure food and beverages are safe and suitable. 

Expecting flight attendants to become dairy workers is unfair:

An Auckland academic and innovation advisor at Tech Futures Lab Richard Rowley is not surprised that former Air New Zealand flight attendants don’t want to become dairy hands or social workers, describing such change as too confrontational, not to mention unfair.

“The slow start to fill 1000 vacant dairy farm jobs, and the fact that employers in several sectors are struggling to fill vacancies isn’t because everybody’s happy to be on welfare,” says Rowley. “It comes down to the fact that what we do is tied to who we are, and for some, the leap of faith is just too great.

“Our education system has largely not produced adaptable people. The people who struggled at school will be the same people who are challenged by changing careers because it was drummed into them that they are not good learners.”

Rowley says that when it comes to shifting career, self-esteem and confidence play a huge part. As a result, most people will see only obstacles, including age, experience, and physical ability. . . 

Seeds sown for strong elderflower future –  George Clark:

If you think a trip overseas could inspire a future career, you may be right.

Just ask Addmore owner Kate Addis.

The seeds for her Geraldine-based elderflower business were planted in 2002 after a stint abroad in Dorset, England, where she had been travelling.

Her elderflowers were grown locally and the beverages bottled in North Canterbury. . . 

Right tree right place, the solution to New Zealand’s afforestation question:

With discussion growing around NZ’s afforestation targets and farm conversions to forestry, like many groups, the New Zealand Forest and Wood Sector Forum is advocating for the right tree in right place for the right purpose as the obvious solution.

The farm vs forest debate is not a new one, but has certainly been more heated in recent months, with industry commentary from both sectors.

As with many groups, the New Zealand Forest and Wood Sector Forum is advocating for a unified approach, with the right trees, in the right places, for the right purposes as the answer.

This means taking a measured approach to the question of land use. Rather than buying a title and saying it will be solely for one use or another, we need to examine the land under the title, and decide what the best use is for each piece of land. In other words, some hill country farmers would benefit from having some of their land under forest, while some forest land could be better used for food production. . . 

Continued growth for the mighty avocado industry :

The New Zealand avocado industry has finalised the 2019-20 season results. The 2019-20 avocado season saw avocado export volumes up to 3.8m 5.5kg trays, an increase of 26% on the previous season. Asian markets including Thailand, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan received 35% more volume, meeting the industry’s objective to grow volume to the Asian markets.

Industry returns for the 2019-20 season are $154m, and increase on the previous year of $10m. The New Zealand market sold a record 2.7m trays worth over $50m demonstrating kiwis growing love of the wonderfully healthy avocado. For the first time in a number of years there was no break in avocado supply, as growers held on to one crop while the new crop matured on the trees. This also avoided the spike in pricing that often accompanies the lower supply but increasing demand.

Investment into new plantings continued in 2019 with over 120 new avocado properties registered between May 2019 to May 2020. New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association Inc. Chair Tony Ponder says New Zealand’s avocado industry is in a position of growth and development. . . 


Rural round-up

20/07/2020

New apple ‘Dazzles’ Chinese consumers :

New Zealand’s largest organic apple producer says it cannot keep up with the Chinese demand for New Zealand’s newest apple, Dazzle.

Bostock New Zealand owner John Bostock says Dazzle is the best apple he has ever grown organically in his 30 years of growing organic apples.

“Without any doubt, I believe this is the best apple since the worldwide domination of New Zealand Royal Gala. It looks and tastes amazing, it’s bright red and sweet and it also yields and packs well.”

It’s the first year the company has had commercial volumes of organic Dazzle apples available for Chinese retailers.   . .

Nats hit the rural hustings – Mark Daniel:

National’s Waikato team of David Bennett and Tim van der Molen have been spreading the party word at a series of farmer meetings around the region.

Bennett, now the party’s agriculture spokesman, following Todd Muller’s recent move to leader, focused on the issues likely to affect agriculture. He claimed National’s ag polices aimed to drive momentum.

Starting out by commending the current Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett raised the question of how New Zealand will pay its bills in the future. He intimidated that the current Labour/NZ First coalition’s policies were reactionary, rather than visionary.

With all the major political parties agreeing that sustainable agriculture, horticulture and viticulture will be vital in a post-Covid future, Bennett suggested that the current drive for sustainability needs to be addressed.  . .

Honey business finds sweet spot – Colin Williscroft:

When James Annabell’s budding rugby career wasn’t quite going the way he hoped the former Taranaki Bulls hooker put his drive into honey, which has led to the development of a multimillion dollar business, as Colin Williscroft reports.

James Annabell was back in Taranaki on a break from playing rugby in Hong Kong when the chance that changed his life came along.

He’d already tried a law degree in Wellington and played rugby for Taranaki from 2006 to 2008.

But there was no regional contract on offer the following year so he went to Hong Kong and Germany to continue with rugby. . . 

Adventure, experience affords view of pig picture – George Clark:

From his travels and experience in pig farming, Ian Jackson knew he was going to breed pigs in the open air.

A Scot by birth, he was brought up on a pig and poultry farm in the UK. Uninterested in poultry, he specialised in pigs at Usk Agricultural College.

After working in the UK pig industry, he was eager to see the world and set off on an adventure with a tent on his back, wandering across Europe and then to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Jackson met Kiwi wife Linda 21 years ago this month. She had never lived on a farm and did not know anything about pigs. . . 

Food service finds new pathway – Hugh Stringleman:

A refreshed strategy for its food service business is being introduced by Fonterra to counter the disruption caused by covid-19 to eating out in restaurants and hotels.

Food service revenue is bouncing back, especially in the number one market of China, but positioning has changed, Asia and the Pacific chief executive Judith Swales told a webinar for Fonterra shareholders.

Covid-19 has accelerated trends already apparent in the market like more home cooking, outsourcing in food preparation, more home delivery and investment in digital and contactless technologies. . .

Planting trees to fight climate change ‘ not best strategy’ :

Mass tree planting to mitigate climate change is ‘not always the best strategy’ – with some experimental sites failing to increase carbon stocks, researchers say.

Four locations in Scotland where birch trees were planted onto heather moorland was analysed as part of a new study involving UK scientists.

They found that, over decades, there was no net increase in ecosystem carbon storage.

The team found that any increase to carbon storage in tree biomass was offset by a loss of carbon stored in the soil. . . 


Rural round-up

12/05/2020

Accidental farmer now a winner–  Gerald Piddock :

Dairy farmer Ash-Leigh Campbell has come a long way in a short time and now wants to encourage young people into the dairy sector and do what she can locally while travel restrictions limit what she can do with the $20,000 prize she took home as the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Ash-leigh Campbell didn’t set out to have a career in dairying.

Instead, she stumbled into the industry, starting out relief milking for a local farmer to earn extra cash for her first car while still at high school in Canterbury.

She was an accidental dairy farmer, she says.

Ten years on the 29-year-old has had a meteoritic rise, capped off by being the youngest person to become Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network Awards. . .

Rural fok rally round – Colin Williscroft:

Rural communities are banding together to help Hawke’s Bay farmers dealing with drought and a feed shortage.

Wairarapa farmers Daniel and Sophie Hansen are gathering feed in their region to send to their northern neighbours.

They hoope if farmers there have a bale or two of hay or balage they can do without then, despite it being a small amount individually, combined it could provide a real lifeline to Hawke’s Bay farmers.

Initially, the Hansens aimed to get every farmer on their road to either give or sell one or two bales to make a unit load but the idea has grown. . . 

Red meat exports pass $1b – Sally Rae:

Exports of New Zealand red meat and co-products in March passed the $1billion mark, a first for monthly exports.

Analysis by the Meat Industry Association showed total exports reached $1.1billion, an increase of 12% on March 2019.

While overall exports to China in March were down 9% on the corresponding month last year, due to Covid-19, exports to all other major markets increased, a statement from MIA said.

Sheepmeat export volumes were up 4% and value up 13% compared with last March. And while sheepmeat exports to China were down 11% by volume compared with last March, they still recovered significantly from February, doubling to nearly 25,000 tonnes. . . 

Keytone Dairy a secret Kiwi success – Rebecca Howard:

Keytone Dairy may not be listed on the NZX but it’s one to watch as it inks new orders and ramps up production.

The ASX-listed stock took a tumble on global panic hitting 20.5 Australian cents on March 19.

Since then it’s more than doubled to 43 cents as investors buy into its growth story that Covid-19 triggered “significant” global demand for its products. Appetite for its formulated milk powders is four times greater than before the crisis, it said.

The company was incorporated in September 2017 to buy and run New Zealand’s Keytone Enterprises. It wrapped the deal up in July 2018 and listed on the Australian stock exchange at the same time, choosing Australia because of its proximity to a larger pool of funds. . .

Current grower meeting challenges – George Clark:

Hamish McFarlane is a third-generation blackcurrant grower with a farm 10 minutes north of Temuka.

He grows the superfood, with a mix of cattle and the odd vegetable, for Barkers of Geraldine.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 allowed business to continue for the McFarlane family but there were challenges.

‘‘We were pretty uncertain what the future was going to hold for us. Once we went into lockdown we were unsure with what government levels immediately meant,’’ he said. . . 

View form the Paddock: don’t fall for plant-based meat hype – Trent Thorne:

In 1787, Catherine the Great toured the recently annexed Crimean Peninsula with her conquering Commander-in-chief, Grigory Potemkin.

In an effort to thoroughly impress the Tsarina with the work he had done in the south of Russia (which for many years had been a desolate area ravaged by constant warfare) following the annexation, Potemkin constructed pasteboard facades of fake village.

As a result of his artifice, the term ‘Potemkin village’ is now used to refer to an impressive show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition.

You may well ask what does modern Russian history and the COVID-19 pandemic have in common? . . 


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