Rural round-up

02/05/2021

Lack of skill costs contractors – Gerald Piddock:

Inexperienced Kiwi farm machinery operators are costing the industry stress, accidents and insurance claims, a new survey of Rural Contractor NZ (RCNZ) members has revealed.

While the industry will continue to train and recruit more New Zealand staff to meet demand, it was fortunate there had been no serious accidents this season, RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton said.

Many rural contractors were only barely able to meet farmer demand this season by working unacceptably long hours in machinery, as well as trying to supervise inexperienced staff.

“We appear to have been extremely lucky that there have not been any serious accidents, but health and safety cannot rely on luck,” Parton said. . . 

Why we should care more about wool – Nadia Lim:

 I find it intriguing that, in a world where we are so keen on being more environmentally friendly and sustainable, the industry for one of the most sustainable, durable and biodegradable materials is in dire straits, and at an all-time low.

I’m talking about wool. Strong wool – produced by the majority of New Zealand sheep breeds – can be used in clothing, carpets, curtains and insulation, not to mention furniture, bedding, weed mat, fertiliser and more. It has a higher micron count than merino wool, so it is thicker and stronger; merino is finer and softer, which is why it’s ideal for clothes worn close to the skin.

We run about 2000 Perendale ewes on our mixed cropping and sheep farm in Central Otago. We reduced the stock numbers significantly when we came here, to give the land a rest but also because there is so little demand for wool these days.

That’s the sad, and ironic, thing. There’s so little demand for wool that we literally have tonnes of it sitting in our shed in bales. It must be an education and awareness thing, because if everyone was actually serious about wanting to be more sustainable, do you think as many of us would be wearing (synthetic, petroleum-based) acrylic jumpers and polar fleece, or that we’d put synthetic insulation and carpets in our homes? . . 

Forage may unlock low gas options – Richard Rennie:

Leafy turnips and winter forage rape crops may yet provide a means for farmers to ensure their livestock emit less methane, without compromising productivity.

AgResearch forage scientist Arjan Jonker acknowledges finding lower methane-emitting feeds is one of agriculture’s “wicked problems”, but says the AgResearch team is well-advanced in understanding what feeds can produce less ruminant methane.

AgResearch forage scientists are working alongside their livestock research colleagues on potential pasture types that may play a key role in helping the sector lower its methane emissions.

With both crops comprising most of the sheep’s diet, the researchers have achieved methane emission reductions of 20-30%. . .

Geoff Ross on New Zealand’s first certified carbon positive farm :

If farmers want to increase profits they need to “look beyond the gate” at the big picture, Geoff Ross says.

Ross and his wife Justine run Lake Hawea Station, the first farm in New Zealand to have its carbon footprint certified.

The Rosses used certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, which found that the 6500-hectare station was actually carbon positive.

This was a “big deal” for Lake Hawea Station, and for its offshore customers, Ross told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

What lessons can we learn from European glyphosate review? – Mark Ross:

The prospect of a ban on glyphosate is placing enormous pressure on European farmers and Kiwis should be taking notice, Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says.

Glyphosate use in Europe has resulted in reassessments, reviews and bans in some countries, causing a backlash by farmers.

The controversial herbicide is touted by New Zealand Professor of Toxicology Ian Shaw as a victim of its own success.

It’s successful because it is the most widely used herbicide in the world, it is versatile, and its use can benefit the environment. . . 

 

Summerfruit industry looking forward to growing strong conference in Hawkes Bay:

Summerfruit NZ has just opened registration for the Growing strong – Success in a changing world conference. The industry event is being held at various venues in Hawke’s Bay, including the War Memorial Centre in Napier, where trade exhibits will be on display and speaker presentations will be made.

The Growing strong theme indicates an industry that has experienced tough times but has come through 2020-21 and is ready to reflect, build resilience and celebrate the end of a season like no other.

‘Unfortunately, last year’s conference had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,’ says Summerfruit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom. ‘Growers and other members of the summerfruit industry are really looking forward to meeting with friends and colleagues they may not have seen for well over a year. . . 


Rural round-up

12/04/2021

A victory for common sense – Alan Emmerson:

My views on the original wintering rules are well known. Basically, the original system, the Essential Freshwater Rules on winter grazing, were unworkable and promulgated by a bureaucracy without any knowledge of rural issues.

It was obvious at the start that the rules wouldn’t work, but the civil servants continued at pace.

The Southland farmers protested, backed by the local council.

Then Environment Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage labelled them irresponsible. I’d have called them realistic. I remain unconvinced that Sage has any idea of the practicalities of farming despite the nation relying on the ag sector for its prosperity. I’d have said the same for her department. . . 

Native forestry good for environment and climate – Paul Quinlan:

The Climate Change Commission says NZ should plant 300,000ha of new permanent native forests by 2035, but indigenous forestry advocates argue we should go much further in harvesting indigenous timber.

Nature-based forestry is ‘a blend between art, culture, and science’, where forests are managed on a continuous cover basis and allowed to reach their full potential in terms of the holistic services they can provide, including timber. Harnessing the power of markets is suggested as an effective way to shift land-use towards more natural forest management.

Last year, Dame Anne Salmond articulated an aspirational vision for “intelligent forestry” in Aotearoa. She has clearly been inspired by models of continuous cover forestry – specifically, ‘close-to-nature forestry’ practices, where the emphasis is on management of a whole and healthy natural ecosystem and where timber production is only one objective to be managed in a compatible way with the many other cultural, environmental and recreational values in each part of the forest. . . 

Environmental impact of forestry taking a toll on East Coast communities – Tom Kitchin:

East Coast locals are disheartened by the prospect of more forestry in the area as the industry grows.

The Climate Change Commission is encouraging the planting of thousands of hectares of forestry in decades to come.

But many people in Gisborne and Wairoa say the industry is damaging their pristine environment and ruining communities.

In Tolaga Bay, a small town of about 800 people nearly an hour north of Gisborne, one end of the beach near the famous wharf is almost clear and sandy, with only a touch of wood nearby. . . 

Team of 5 million – Gerald Piddock:

The new DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair says New Zealand as a whole needs to work together to achieve climate goals.

Getting the dairy industry to achieve tough new climate goals is like running an ultramarathon, recently appointed DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair Fraser McGougan says.

Both require small steps to get to the finish line and both are huge undertakings.

McGougan has already accomplished one of these milestones, having completed an ultramarathon in February. . . 

Trusty tractor at farmer’s side over decades, across world – Mary-Jo Tohill:

A tractor, is a tractor, is a tractor … but then there’s Ian Begg’s tractor. The former Wyndham Station owner talks about how this humble piece of farm machinery shaped his life. Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

People ask him: “What are you?”

He answers: “I’m still a farmer, cos I’m nothing else.”

Ian Begg, the former owner of Wyndham Station in Southland has been many other things — orchardist, importer, real estate agent and developer. But the farm boy remains.

The 75-year-old was reminded of his roots when he attended Wheels at Wanaka at Easter, and was reunited with the tractor that took him 27,000km across the globe, and set a world record for the longest journey by a tractor in 1993-94. . . 

New chief at VFF eyes closer links with consumers – Gregor Heard:

NEW VICTORIAN Farmers Federation chief executive Jane Lovell believes agriculture has an excellent story to tell, but it needs stronger links to consumers and the community to do so.

Ms Lovell, who has a background in areas as diverse as plant pathology, politics and quality assurance, said providing a solid platform for agriculture to be able to demonstrate its credentials was a key goal in her new role.

“Talking about and demonstrating our sustainability and environmental stewardship are going to become even more important with consumers,” Ms Lovell said.

“Gone are the days when everyone had a farmer as a close relative and sadly, this means many people don’t have that connection to farming and the land,” she said . . .


Rural round-up

06/04/2021

Mayor calls on government to give MIQ spots to RSE workers

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan is calling on the government to offer some of the available MIQ spaces to foreign workers.

MIQ authorities are urging people to return to New Zealand to snap up a sudden glut of vacancies for April. There have not been as many vacancies since October.

In an open letter to ministers, Cadogan said Central Otago’s horticulture industry was desperate for workers and bringing in foreigners under the seasonal employment scheme would bring huge relief.

“I am sure I do not need to draw your attention to the labour shortage we have in Central Otago in our horticultural industry and the desperate need for increased numbers of RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme workers, but I do need to emphasise that things here are getting worse not better,” Cadogan’s letter said. . . 

Continued threat to NZ from severely impacted global supply chains:

  • As an open market economy, NZ is attractive to dumpers
  • Remedies available to local businesses and industries

Potatoes are not the only industry at risk from disrupted overseas businesses looking to dump cheap products in New Zealand, but the tools are there to ensure a level playing field for local businesses.

The longer the Covid-19 pandemic goes on across the world, the greater the risk to New Zealand markets from products imported and sold here at prices below the market price in their country of origin, according to a specialist advisor working with local interests on current anti-dumping cases.

Simon Crampton is assisting Potato New Zealand with its anti-dumping case and believes that other New Zealand industries and businesses are at risk of destabilisation from dumped products as the result of continuing turmoil in global supply chains, amongst other reasons. . . 

Fonterra to end coal use in factories by 2037 – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra has backed the Climate Change Commission’s decarbonisation pathway to lower industrial emissions by pledging to replace its coal and natural gas to fuel its processing factories with wood biomass by 2037.

Its submission to the commission’s advice to the Government on how to achieve zero emissions by 2050 acknowledged the difficulties in meeting such a target, calling it “ambitious” and “challenging”.

It pointed out that the nature of New Zealand dairy farmers’ milk supply curve gave it an extremely narrow window in which it can undertake changes to its factories.

“Over a six to eight-week period, we go from collecting around four million litres of milk a day to around 82 million litres a day. All of our sites must be working close to full capacity to cope with this volume,” it said. . . 

Silver Fern Farms responds to dynamic global trading environment with strong performance:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $32.4m for the 2020 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $65.4m in the same period.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2020 year is a strong result built off the skill and expertise of its people who navigated the company through a period of considerable uncertainty.

“The performance of the operating company in 2020 was truly commendable across a range of areas. Most important was how they put the health and welfare of their people first. In doing so they set a platform of trust and shared commitment from their staff to stand up as essential workers to service our regional communities, and to service our global consumers.” . . 

Awanui orchard offers step straight into market:

A large scale, well established avocado orchard in the Northland region offers the opportunity for an investor to enjoy immediate returns from the high value sector as demand continues to expand for the fruit.

Awanui orchard near Sweetwater represents 20 years of commitment from its original owner and founder, American-Kiwi Jerry Trussler.

Jerry’s far-sighted vision for the sector had him establish the 36-canopy hectare orchard at a time when the fledgling industry was distinguished by significantly smaller orchards. The entire land area comprises 79ha across an attractive, rolling block. . . .

California relocates mountain lions making a meal of endangered sheep :

Drastic steps taken to protect the Sierra Nevada’s 600 bighorn sheep after another charismatic species developed a taste for them

In order to save one endangered species, California scientists are having to relocate another iconic creature that is, regrettably, eating it.

The California department of fish and wildlife is in the process of moving mountain lions over 100 miles away from struggling populations of bighorn sheep, which are unique to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The herbivores were first listed as endangered in 1999, when their population was estimated at only 125 individuals, according to researchers.

“There’s no expectation that any of the lions we move are going to stay where we put it, regardless of age or sex,” acknowledged Danny Gammons, an environmental scientist for the sheep recovery program. “The goal is to get it away from bighorn sheep.” . . 


Rural round-up

04/03/2021

Inexperienced farm machine operators ‘cause havoc’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Harvest is in full swing across the country, and while rural contractors have managed to get workers in the tractor driving seat, in many cases the work hasn’t been up to the necessary standard, industry commentators say.

Rural Contractors president David Kean said the organisation had done everything Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor had asked to fill the worker shortage left by border closures, but reports of inexperienced workers causing havoc were common.

“If you can imagine that you’ve got a guy on the tractor that doesn’t know how to work that tractor to its full potential, so he leaves it in the wrong gear and he over-revs it, which overheats the machine.

“There was an incident that cost a contractor $60,000 because something went through the bailer. There’s been quite a few issues like from what I’ve heard but contractors don’t want to speak out and run down the workers.” . . 

‘Pretty extraordinary’ – Fonterra on GDT results – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra’s reliable supply chain and strong demand from China and South East Asia are helping drive dairy prices up, says co-op chief executive Miles Hurrell.

In an email to farmer suppliers, Hurrell described the overnight Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction results as “pretty extraordinary”.

The GDT price index jumped 15% compared to the previous auction, its eight consecutive price rise. Whole milk powder prices, used by Fonterra to set its milk payout, rose a whopping 21% to US$4364/MT, a seven-year high. Hurrell says farmers would be keen to know what the latest result means for Fonterra’s farmgate milk price. . .

AgMatch grows wool range – Neal Wallace:

It’s niche and has strict specifications to be met, but a farmer collective buying and selling group is proving that consumers still love crossbred wool.

AgMatch is using member’s wool to make jerseys, socks, carpet and carpet underlay, which is then sold via the members and the AgMatch website, earning growers up to $40/kg net for the wool used.

The group’s newest venture is floor coverings, with suppliers recently taking delivery of 900 lineal metres of carpet manufactured in Australia, enough for more than 40 homes.

Most has already been sold for $300 a lineal metre. . .

Doing the unimaginable – Gerald Piddock:

Despite never having farmed, a Waikato couple who had successful careers in Australia, returned home to milk sheep on the family farm and have had to learn everything from scratch.

Imagine quitting your career to embark on a new profession that is the least likely and most unexpected thing one envisions themselves doing.

That’s exactly what Matthew and Katherine Spataro did when they ditched the city grind by shifting from Melbourne to the outskirts of Te Awamutu to milk sheep. . . 

Thousands enjoy terrier-ific day at show

From highland dancers to livestock competitions, the North Otago A&P Show in Oamaru had it all.

However, the most exciting event was the terrier race on Saturday when 20 or so specimens, of widely varying shapes and sizes, raced to catch a dead rabbit tethered to a four-wheeler.

Taking the win was Thomas, a speedy dog who won for the second year in a row.

His owner, Tomlyn Morrissey, of Southland, was happy to see his name on the cup again. Mrs Morrissey’s pooch was so fast the race had been restarted because he caught the rabbit before getting halfway to the finish. . .

Call goes out for kiwifruit pickers and packers:

The first kiwifruit will be picked off the vines this week and growers across the country anticipate needing around 23,000 workers for the harvest. The harvest runs through till June and is expected to produce even more than last year’s record of 157 million trays of Green and Gold.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says ongoing COVID-19 overseas travel restrictions mean growers will be looking to offer job opportunities to even more New Zealanders to provide most of the workforce – meeting the shortfall of people on the RSE scheme from the Pacific islands and working holiday visa-holders.

As in previous years, NZKGI has been working for several months to prepare for the season opening and the significant labour requirements. . . 

Farmers apply to Defra to grow genome-edited wheat:

Researchers are preparing an application to the government to run a field trial of a new genome edited wheat, the first such trial to be carried out in Europe.

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have used genome editing to reduce a cancer-causing compound commonly found in toast.

Acrylamide forms during bread baking and is further increased when bread is toasted: the darker the toast, the more of this carcinogenic compound it contains.

Now the team have used genome editing to develop a type of wheat that is less likely to produce acrylamide when baked. . . 


Rural round-up

26/02/2021

Major task ahead for NZ farming – Matthew Reeves:

New modelling from the Climate Change Commission has outlined a major task ahead for the agribusiness industry in New Zealand.

The Government has committed to an extensive emissions reduction plan in order to combat climate change, involving a 10% decline in agricultural emissions by 2030, and a 24% to 47% decline by 2050.

Achieving this target will require major changes across the agricultural sector, including a significant decline in herd sizes and the uptake of new technologies.

The agriculture sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in New Zealand, accounting for around 40% of current emissions in the country. The bulk of this comes from livestock methane emissions, including 51% from the country’s 6.1 million dairy cattle, and 47% from the country’s 26.2 million sheep and 4 million beef cattle. . .

Milk packs punch agaisnt flu – Gerald Piddock:

We already know milk is good for the bones, but now research shows that drinking milk could help ward off the flu.

New research has found that a protein-based ingredient from milk is an effective antiviral agent against a common influenza virus species.

The study commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, found that Immune Defence Proteins (IDP) was 120% more effective against the virus Influenza A when compared to the protein lactoferrin.

Testing on the herpes simplex virus netted a similar result. . . 

‘RA 20 virus’ a danger to New Zealand farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation.

It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long term than Covid-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA20 but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. . . 

Better connection now – Rural News:

We may now be into the third decade of the 21st century, but unfortunately much of NZ’s rural broadband and mobile coverage remains at third world levels.

That is unacceptable in a modern, first-world country like New Zealand. How is it still the case that many farmers and rural businesses around the country have to buy costly equipment to get broadband, while many others cannot even get mobile phone coverage at all?

As the Technology Users Association of NZ (TUANZ) chief executive Craig Young says, rural people should be getting the same level of connectivity in terms of broadband and mobile coverage as the people who live in urban areas.

It is even more important for rural people to have high quality connectivity, given their often remote locations and the fact that they are running significant businesses – not only farming, but other service related enterprises. . . 

Manuka saving honey’s buzz – Richard Rennie:

While demand for Manuka honey continues to surge, other honey varieties remain moribund, with low prices starting to pressure beekeepers out of the industry.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 2020 Apiculture Monitoring report has highlighted how a good harvest season last summer translated into a surge in volumes of all honey produced, with per hive yield of manuka up 39% on the year before in the North Island.

Overall however, the sector experienced a slide of 6% in average export prices despite a weaker NZ dollar, with a significant 28% export volume increase driving the overall 20% increase in total export value.

The report has highlighted the growing gap between high-value manuka and all other multi-floral manuka/non-manuka honeys. . . 

Helping emerging industries is growing Australian agriculture – John Harvey:

Opportunities within the agricultural sector are constantly evolving.

We see consumers hungry for new products and changing requirements and expectations for food production.

You only have to look at shifting attitudes about eating meat to see how quickly things evolve.

And that is one of the reasons I think it is vital that Australia continues to invest in our emerging agricultural and food production industries. . . 


Rural round-up

08/02/2021

Climate focus highlights need for water storage – Vanessa Winning :

We should no longer be afraid of the conversation about water storage, dams, and reservoirs in the right places, as they are necessary for a sustainable, inclusive, productive and decarbonised economy, chief executive of Irrigation NZ Vanessa Winning writes.

It has been hot, very hot, especially in the central north island, Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago areas.

Then it was cool – still dry for most of us, but temperatures dropped a minimum of 10 degrees in the space of 24 hours in the height of summer.

Southerlies have settled into the lower North Island and we may get a storm next week in the South. Climate scientists tell us that these swings are expected to get more extreme all year round. . . 

Climate hurdle a high bar for farmers – Tom O’Connor:

Farmers in Waikato and across the country are to be commended for their courage in facing up to what they rightly say are the daunting changes ahead them following a report by the Climate Change Commission.

The 800-page report is wide-sweeping, thorough, challenging, hugely ambitious and more than a little frightening for those locked into our extensive agricultural industry and those in wide-spread supporting industries.

In a first draft of the report, dealing with carbon budgets, released last week, the commission has suggested that dairy, sheep and beef cattle numbers must be reduced by 15 per cent by the end of the decade. That is a very short time frame for such a major change and some probably won’t make it.

Fortunately, we seemed to have passed through the phase of blind opposition to the concept of climate change. For about thirty years a number of sceptics challenged almost every scientist who presented evidence of climate change or predicted what climate change would do. . . 

Exports remain strong – Neal Wallace and Gerald PIddock:

Farm gate prices for New Zealand dairy and meat exports have defied economic fallout from the global pandemic and are trading at above long-term averages.

Demand from China and Asian economies emerging from the covid-19 pandemic are underpinning the buoyant prices, but there are warnings a strengthening exchange rate and prolonged supply chain disruption will put pressure on returns.

Fonterra this week lifted its farm gate milk price guidance range from $6.90 to $7.50kg/MS, up from $5.90 to $6.90 at the start of the season, potentially making this the second consecutive year of a $7-plus milk price. . . 

The dream team: Jess, David and Bronwyn Hill :

A Raglan dairy farming family set up a wee milk bottling plant three years ago.

Then, the Hill family produced 30 litres of drinking milk a week and delivered it to local customers. Now they bottle and deliver 5000 litres – in one-litre bottles – from the west coast to the east coast.

Their website has a rolling tally of the number of plastic milk bottles they’ve saved from re-cycling or landfill – over 150,000  and counting.

Jess Hill says customers are loving the glass bottles and the fact they’re supporting a local enterprise.   . . 

Mustering at Molesworth – Sally Round:

It’s an early start for the musterers at Molesworth Station. The bulls are out with the cows for the mating season and the stockmen need to beat the heat. Country Life producer Sally Round spent a day with the musterers, the farmer and the cook, peeling back some of the mystique of New Zealand’s most famous farm.

Duncan, Connell, Josh and Liam  are up before the birds.

Head torches on, they catch their horses before tucking into a pile of bacon and eggs in the kitchen at Tarndale.

The homestead there is one of Molesworth Station’s far-flung camps where the musterers can have a feed and bed down for the night while working on the furthest reaches of the 180,470-hectare property.

Molesworth, in the backcountry of Marlborough, has a mystique and mana which few other high country farms can match. . . 

 

Are cows accelerating climate change? – Stu McNish:

Cows have rapidly moved into the crosshairs of climate change and diet. But Frank M. Mitloehner of University of California, Davis says much – if not most – of what you think you know about ruminants and climate change is inaccurate.

His findings align with those of climate scientist Myles Allen, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor and Oxford professor who says the global warming carbon equivalency formula commonly applied to livestock is incorrect.

Both Mitloehner and Allen point to the impact a stable or declining herd has on methane production. Add in improving dietary and animal husbandry practices, along with methane-capturing systems, and the picture for livestock farms in northern hemisphere countries is positive. . . 


Rural round-up

26/01/2021

Urban issues starting to affect Wanaka :

Environmental group says urban growth a threat to lake’s natural beauty.

The popularity of Wanaka’s pristine natural beauty could prove to be the lake’s downfall — but not if a group of environmentally-minded citizens has something to do with it.

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle, along with agribusiness expert Erica Van Reenen and keen local lake swimmer Eddie Spearing, have initiated the Touchstone project, bringing together local people concerned about the Lake Wanaka catchment, raise awareness of water quality issues, and encourage positive action.

While the vast majority of the lake’s catchment is rural, Arbuckle says urban issues are just as significant, if not more so, as Wanaka grows in size and popularity. The district’s population has doubled in the past 10 years, and is estimated to reach 50,000 by 2040. . . .

FE spore counts hit 1.2m in Matamata – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are being warned to make sure they have an adequate facial eczema (FE) management plan in place after the first spore counts of the year topped nearly 1.2 million from one grass sample in Matamata.

The maximum spore counts analysed by Hamilton-based Gribbles Veterinary on January 14 also reached 30,000 in Franklin and Tauranga, 120,000 in Waikato, 35,0000 in Waitomo and 150,000 on the East Coast.

In the second week of monitoring, samples collected from farms in Waihi, Franklin, Hauraki, Whitianga, Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Waipa, Waitomo, New Plymouth and Gisborne were all higher than the 30,000 spores/gram threshold at which veterinarians recommend farmers take action against facial eczema. . . 

Trees are our great weapons against climate change. But what if they stop soaking? – Mirjam Guesgen :

A new study suggests that trees’ ability to soak up carbon could expire. Mirjam Guesgen explains.

Trees have long been held as the saviour for climate change. Plant enough trees and we might be able to balance out some of that carbon-emmitting flying or driving. But a new scientific study says that trees only buy us a certain amount of time. Push a tree too far and it’ll turn on you.

How do trees fight climate change?

The reason trees make such excellent climate fighting machines has to do with chemistry. They suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it as one of the ingredients to make sugar, their form of fuel. That’s the basics of photosynthesis. . . 

M. Boris numbers falling – MPI :

The Ministry of Primary Industries says New Zealand is getting closer to the eradication of Mycoplasma Bovis.

Ten properties in Canterbury are currently infected with the cattle disease, including two Lincoln University research farms.

The Ministry is working through depopulation plans with the two research farms, but final cull numbers haven’t been determined. . .

Rain secures feed surplus – Gerald Piddock:

Warm temperatures and frequent summer rain have led to a bumper season for summer feed crops and pasture covers for livestock farmers in most regions up and down the country.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround compared to 12 months ago, where severe drought had written off feed crops and farmers around the North Island were burning through their feed reserves to keep their stock healthy.

DairyNZ general manager of farm performance Sharon Morrell says while it has been a good year for many, regions such as Northland was getting dry and areas of the Hauraki Plains also had declining pasture growth rates. . .

Farmers to showcase farmland bird conservation work :

Farmers are being encouraged to get behind this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count to showcase the conservation work being done on farms across the country.

The Big Farmland Bird Count returns in 2021, and organisers are asking farmers and land managers – who look after 71% of Britain’s countryside – to join in.

The project helps show which farmland birds are benefitting from conservation efforts while identifying the species most in need of help.

The annual count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is scheduled for the 5 – 14 February 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

20/01/2021

Why veganism won’t save the planet – Jacqueline Rowarth:

In no case will a vegan diet be better for the planet than a moderate omnivorous diet, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Veganism will not save the planet from climate change under current population growth scenarios.

The scientific facts are clear. A diet including a moderate amount of meat and dairy products, sourced from efficient (most product for fewest greenhouse gases (GHG)) farmers, delivers the required nutrients per person for least environmental impact.

This includes water use and nitrogen loss as well as the GHG. It also includes the impact of agricultural land use expansion and consequent impacts on biodiversity. . .

More seeking country life – Gerald Piddock:

The dynamics of country living are changing as more urban dwellers ditch the city for the provinces.

The shift to smaller towns and centres came as covid-19 changed people’s work habits, as well as soaring house prices and living costs in major cities.

This was highlighted in an Infometrics analysis released late last year, which showed 11 out of 67 districts including Horowhenua, Thames-Coromandel and Selwyn all had increases in population growth from internal migration.

Selwyn had the largest inflow of internal migration, with a net contribution of 2100 people. Tauranga City came in second with an inflow of 1900, followed by Waikato District (1200), Waimakariri (1100) and Whāngārei (920). . . 

Here’s the chance for Fonterra to show a leadership role and spur the others with its milk price – Point of Order:

Dairy prices increased by 3.9% across the board at the latest Fonterra global auction. The lift followed rises of 1.3% and 4.3% in the December auctions which took dairy prices to their highest level in 11 months, defying those analysts who believed Covid-19 had disrupted dairy markets.

In the latest auction WMP rose 3.1% to $US3,300 a tonne, its highest level in 12 months. Other significant movements included a 7.2% lift in the price for butter to $US4,452 a tonne.

ANZ agricultural economist Susan Kilsby said the auction results came as a great surprise and as a very positive start to the new year. She contends it strengthens the likelihood Fonterra’s milk price payout this season will be closer to the higher end of the range Fonterra is currently forecasting. . .

NZ in one picture: Rush hour in rural Hawke’s Bay as 3000 sheep moved over one-way bridge – Christian Fuller:

A one-lane bridge packed with 3000 sheep created a quintessentially Kiwi traffic jam in Central Hawke’s Bay on Monday afternoon.

In Patangata there’s few motorists in a hurry anyway, but speedy work meant there was no need for ewe-turns as the flock was shifted across Tukituki River bridge on Elsthorpe Rd.

Waipawa Butchery and Patangata Station owner Duncan Smith said the sheep were part of his flock and were being transported to the shearing part of the farm.

“We try to keep the movement of that many sheep to an absolute minimum,” he said. “But in total, it only took seven minutes to get the 3000 across.” . . .

$14m investment in PharmaZen nutraceuticals nets two new factories – Amanda Cropp:

A $14m injection from an international investor will help biotech company PharmaZen build two new factories at Rolleston south of Christchurch.

The Cibus Fund, a major agri technology investor, is taking a 13.8 per cent stake in PharmaZen, which will issue Cibus with 35 million new shares at 40 cents a share.

PharmaZen​ trades under the name Waitaki Biosciences, making nutraceuticals from black currants, kiwifruit, green shell mussels and animal by-products.

General manager Craig McIntosh​ said the expansion would create about 25 new jobs, with a doubling of output over the next 18 months. . .

NSW Local Land Services urges North West and Northern Tablelands farmers to be on high alert for locusts – Billy Jupp:

FARMERS in the state’s northern regions are being urged to be on high alert for Australian Plague Locusts after recent outbreaks.

North West and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) issued the warning after reports of banding locust nymphs in the Moree, Goondiwindi, North Star, Yetman and Warialda areas.

Recent weather conditions have proved to be the perfect breeding ground for the pests, allowing their nymphs to hatch and progress through their lifecycle. . .


Rural round-up

19/01/2021

Why we can’t plant our way out of climate change – Marc Daalder:

As New Zealand gears up to fight climate change, experts warn that we need to actually reduce emissions, not just plant trees to offset our greenhouse gases, Marc Daalder reports

This year is shaping up to be a major one for climate policy. Between the Climate Change Commission releasing its recommendations around our Paris target and emissions budgets and a major climate summit in Glasgow in November, 2021 is the year the New Zealand Government will finally lay out in detail its plans to fight climate change.

Ahead of February 1, when the Commission will release drafts of its advice for consultation, experts warn that we shouldn’t be taken in by the allure of trees as a silver bullet. It’s true that major reforestation will be crucial to slowing global warming (and has added biodiversity benefits as well), because all plants sequester carbon breathed in from the atmosphere. . . 

Daigou disaster – Elbow Deep:

It is surprising how quickly a company’s fortunes can change; the A2 Milk Company (A2MC) played a dangerous high-stakes game, relying heavily on an informal network of Chinese students and personal shoppers to distribute much of its product into China. It’s a game that has cost other companies dearly in the past.

Daigou, buying on behalf, is a network of Chinese nationals living in or visiting Australia who buy local products and ship them back home to groups of friends, customers cultivated via the social media app WeChat. It is not uncommon for Chinese tour groups to visit stores like the Chemist Warehouse and buy products in bulk, much to the ire of locals.

Such is the demand from China for Australian packaged products that in 2019 a Sydney store owner was found to have stockpiled 4,000 1kg tins of baby formula ready for export. . . .

Concerns over shearer ‘bidding wars’ – Gerald Piddock:

Reports of unofficial bidding wars among Australian farmers to secure shearers has a New Zealand shearing boss worried it could lure Kiwi shearers across the Tasman to chase the money, leaving the industry short-staffed.

The shortage of shearers in Australia due to covid-19 restrictions meant some farmers were paying shearers 20-50% premiums per sheep above the usual rate, the ABC reported.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford told ABC farmers were offering shearers A$4-$5/head to shear sheep. The minimum pay rate to shear a sheep in Australia is A$3.24.

Prior to the covid-19 border restrictions, these jobs would have been taken up by NZ shearers. . . 

Exchange rate a pain point for meat export – Neal Wallace:

A wildly fluctuating exchange rate is causing headaches for meat exporters. Silver Fern Farms (SFF) says between October and November the NZ-US exchange rate rose from $US0.65 to $US0.71, wiping $140 a head off beef and up to $11 off a lamb.

As of late this week the exchange rate was $US0.72.

In a Christmas update podcast, SFF’s supply chain manager Dan Boulton says in addition to exchange rate fluctuation, the other headwind facing exporters as they enter peak production, is the congested global supply chain.

This is causing issues with container availability, shipping schedules and port access. . . 

Tractor industry remains optimistic for 2021:

The tractor sales industry finished 2020 on a strong note with December sales up 18.4 % on 2019.

Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president Kyle Baxter says that while 2020 definitely posed challenges for the industry, the current mood of members is positive.

Overall tractor sales for 2020 were down 15.3% compared with 2019, with sales for the bigger machines (375+ HP) particularly affected with a drop of 25%. . . 

Dairy markets stable despite Covid challenges – Carlene Dowie:

Global dairy markets appear to be weathering the COVID-19 storm with prices stable despite pandemic-induced changes in demand in key markets.

The Australian Milk Value Portal’s latest Global Dairy Update says resilience in demand for dairy products is underpinning the market.

International analysts are also pointing to stability – with ANZ in New Zealand last week lifting its forecast farmgate price there by 7.5 per cent while the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s dairy price index jumped for the seventh month in a row in December.

The Milk Value Portal’s Nanna Moller said the market outlook was mostly bullish, despite differences in global markets, with slowing growth in milk supply in Europe and Oceania and sustained demand for consumer staples. . . 


Rural round-up

07/10/2020

Weather leaves SI farmers feeling defeated – Neal Wallace:

Dean Rabbidge, who last week had five centimetres of snow on his farm but after thawing was inundated with between 60mm and 70mm of rain at the weekend, is normally a glass half-full type of bloke, but the Wyndham, Southland, farmer concedes his usual optimism is being sorely tested this spring.

“I’m over it,” he said.

“We’ve had no reprieve since the end of August.

“It has been weather event after weather event after weather event.

“We get three or four nice days then another weather event either rain, snow or wind. . . 

Southland’s ‘crazy weather’ makes freshwater rules difficult to follow

Flooding in lower Southland over the weekend shows how difficult it is for farmers to adhere to controversial new government regulations, Bernadette Hunt says.

“It is another example of why resowing by a regulated date, as opposed to when conditions are suitable, just doesn’t make sense,” Hunt, who is Federated Farmers vice president for Southland, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Hunt was referring to regulations in the government’s National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, which said farmers in Southland and Otago would be required to resow winter feed crop paddocks by November 1.

Although the sudden flooding over the weekend was unexpected, “crazy weather in October” was not unusual in the region, and any environmental regulations had to take that into account, Hunt said. . . 

Longest running field days all go :

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, held in Kirwee on the outskirts of Christchurch, will celebrate its 70th year in March 2021 with a bigger demonstration area.

Chairperson Michaela McLeod is describing it as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the industry that has been the backbone of New Zealand’s economy during the uncertain times of Covid-19.

“The agricultural industry has hardly skipped a beat over the past few months, and we see the South Island Agricultural Field Days as the perfect place for farmers, contractors and our industry to come together and share their stories, celebrate their successes and look for opportunities to improve their businesses. . . 

Kidding around on farm – Gerald Piddock:

An Auckland farmer has made the transition from milking cows to goats and has now established the largest goat farm in New Zealand. Gerald Piddock reports.

Matthew and Sarah Bolton established Oete Farm to showcase the dairy goat industry to New Zealanders.

Their success at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards, where they won the supreme award along with four category awards for the Auckland region, validated the journey the business has undertaken since it was established six years ago.

Matthew says the awards success reflected the hard work and team effort from his 30 full and part-time staff spread across the 273-hectare farm at Patumahoe, west of Pukekohe. . . 

Tatua Co-Operative Dairy announces record earnings of $151m for year – Lawrence Gullery:

A Waikato dairy company credits its strong end of year result to its staff which adapted and worked through the Covid-19 alert levels.

Tatua Co-Operative Dairy achieved group revenue of $381 million, and earnings of $151m, in its financial results for 2019-20.

Group revenue was the income received from selling product, goods and services. Earnings was the profit before milk payments to suppliers and tax. . . 

Farming through risk – Tim Keegan:

I’ve lived through tornadoes and hailstorms—but I’ve never seen anything like the derecho that blasted across Iowa and the Midwest on August 10.

Only in the last few days has life on my farm returned to something that resembles normal. For nearly three weeks, we’ve been cleaning up, helping neighbors, and assessing the massive damage.

My family is luckier than a lot of my fellow Iowans. On our farm, near the town of Mount Vernon, the storm did a lot of damage to trees, buildings, and grain bins. It also flattened or damaged a lot of our corn. We’re still not sure how much of it we’ll recover.

But in so many places the devastation is a lot worse. . . 


Rural round-up

23/09/2020

Smart shift on border exceptions but shearers still missing:

The government’s decision today to slightly loosen border entry restrictions to allow in certain specialised staff crucial to the agriculture and fishing industries is excellent news, Federated Farmers says.

“Feds has been strongly advocating for exceptions for skilled operators of sophisticated agricultural machinery key to harvesting and other seasonal tasks for several months.  The pandemic response disrupted long-established workforce arrangements,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We’re very pleased that Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has now recognised it’s impractical to try and train enough New Zealanders in time to meet the immediate need, though that is the sector’s longer-term goal.” . . 

Establishment key to successful hemp crop – Gerald Piddock:

Blair Drysdale is into his third season of growing hemp on his Southland farm and is still fine-tuning how it fits into his crop rotations.

He grows 10ha of hemp on his 320-hectare farm, harvesting the seeds which are then pressed into oil and sold online.

“It’s a fully integrated system which was the plan from the outset. We spent 15 years looking to do something from paddock to consumer and it was about finding the right plant that fitted in with our infrastructure,” he said.

It also had to be healthy and beneficial to people and hemp ticked those boxes. . .

A cheering result for Fonterra but there are challenges ahead – Point of Order:

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and a strong milk price.  The  result,  a profit   of  $659m, may have  brought a  cheer   from the  co-op’s  farmer-suppliers and  Hurrell  deserves  a cheer, too, for   succeeding  in  turning around  the  fortunes of the  co-op,  after two  years  of  losses.

“We increased our profit after tax by more than $1bn, reduced our debt by more than $1 billion and this has put us in a position to start paying dividends again,” he says.

“I’m proud of how farmers and employees have come together to deliver these strong results in a challenging environment. They have had to juggle the extra demands and stress of COVID-19 and have gone above and beyond. I would like to thank them for their hard work and support.”

Fonterra  settled  on a  milk price for the  season  just  past  of  of  $7.14kg/MS—-one of the  highest on record—and  is  maintaining the current forecast  for the  current  season  within  the  range of  $5.90-$6.90. . .

Many farmers still stuck on connectivity slow lane Feds survey finds:

The vast majority of urban New Zealanders can get on the information superhighway at speed but the latest connectivity survey by Federated Farmers shows too many rural families and businesses are still stuck in second gear on a potholed back-road.

“We had nearly 900 responses from our members from every farm type and geographical spread but a bitter irony was that several more couldn’t complete the on-line questions because they didn’t have internet access or connectivity was too patchy or slow,” Federated Farmers President and telecommunications spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

Around 68% of respondents have download speeds of 20Mbps or less, and nearly 24% are enduring download speeds of just 0-5Mbps. . . 

Agri survey finds issues with rural connectivity:

A survey of rural landowners conducted by Whanganui & Partners has found issues with connectivity are impacting the sector.

The survey was undertaken in partnership with the Rural Community Board and was sent to landowners with 10ha or more. This week, Colleen Sheldon from Whanganui & Partners is reporting to the Rural Community Board on the survey’s findings around internet and mobile coverage.

Sheldon says the survey provides strong evidence to back up what farmers have told her, which is that poor rural connectivity is a challenge to their businesses. The survey found that while the majority of landowners have some form of internet access, rural landowners face obstacles conducting the same online tasks as urban residents. . .

NZ wool’s cost $10m market position – Annette Scott:

The beleaguered state of strong wool is not holding back all in the industry.

With several fleece to floor initiatives on the go, NZ Yarn, alongside Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), has contracted $10 million of wool from New Zealand growers in the past three years with new hemp and wool hybrid products set to realise new opportunities.

CP Wool, representing 3500 sheep farmers around NZ, is the exclusive supplier of wool to NZ Yarn that spins yarn for use in the soft flooring industry globally. 

Group chief executive of NZ Yarn and CP Wool Colin McKenzie says NZ Yarn contracts are for the direct supply of good-coloured shears and have generally been at a significant premium over the spot market, especially lots with little or no vegetable matter contamination. . . 

Higher stocking density and increased output boosts Shetland farm:

A higher stocking density and increased output has improved a Shetland farmer’s profits and boosted livestock performance.

Farming in the Shetlands brings many challenges including a shorter grazing season, strong west and south-west winds and salt spray from the sea damaging soils

But 2019 Scotch Beef Farmer of the Year finalist Jamie Leslie has maximised livestock performance and improved profit by focusing on four key objectives – cow and calf weaning ratio, kilograms of output produced per hectare, cow fertility and wintering costs. . .


Rural round-up

06/09/2020

MfE on different page to farmers – Annette Scott:

Altering law before it has become effective is a tragic situation that farmers say could have been avoided if the Government had consulted properly.

That is the view of high country farmers struggling to come to grips with Government’s freshwater policy reforms that are now law.

Federated Farmers high country chairman Rob Stokes is bitterly disappointed over the Government’s approach.

“It’s been a case of rush through the legislation with no proper consultation and the result is an unworkable policy,” he said. . . 

Plan for the worst hope for the best – Gerald Piddock:

Each month the milk monitor Gerald Piddock delves into the dairy industry and gives us the low-down on the good, the bag, the ugly and everything in between.

NEW Zealand dairy farmers who felt the worst impact of last season’s drought are recovering well thanks to a relatively kind winter.

From all accounts, calving has gone smoothly and most farms have good pasture covers, setting them up well for spring.

But despite those positives, farmers will need this season to be as close to perfect as possible if they are to fully recover from the drought. . . 

Rural veterinarians empathetic but compromised over animal welfare reporting, vet says – Andrew McRae:

A vet who is also a farmer has come out in support of claims rural vets sometimes turn a blind eye to animal welfare issues because they are scared of how their community will react to it.

Animal welfare campaigner Angus Robson told RNZ on Thursday that rural vets are often compromised because reporting a farmer could affect their veterinary business.

Alison Dewes is a vet and farmer from Waikato and said vets played a major part in a rural community and this it made it difficult to dob someone in.

“I have worked myself for 30 years in rural communities and I think as veterinarians they are particularly compromised if they have got to be seen to be responsible for notifying welfare issues.” . . 

Farmers seeking more productive heifers turn to fresh sexed bull semen to meet mating goals:

Herd improvement and agri-tech cooperative LIC, the only provider of fresh, liquid sexed semen to New Zealand dairy farmers, is preparing for a busy spring as more farmers factor this new component into their 2020 breeding programmes.

Fresh sexed semen from LIC is helping dairy farmers accelerate genetic gain within their herds by enabling them to get more replacement heifer (female) calves from their top performing cows. It delivers a 90 per cent chance of producing a heifer, providing surplus calves with having an increased chance of being retained on farm and destined for either domestic or export beef markets.

LIC General Manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis says demand for fresh sexed bull semen has been steadily increasing over the last few seasons with this year set to more than triple 2019 sales. . . 

The value of long-acting drench treatments again under the spotlight:

The outcomes of a Beef + Lamb New Zealand co-funded study has cast even more doubt on the economic value of drenching ewes with long-acting products.

The study, led by AgResearch’s Dave Leathwick and co-funded by B+LNZ and AgResearch, showed that initial benefits of drenching with these products, especially to low body condition score ewes, were short-lived and declined in the interval after the treatments had expired. Untreated ewes tended to catch-up to their treated equivalents.

“This has also been seen in other New Zealand studies and highlights the danger of only assessing benefits at the end of the drugs pay-out period.”

He says many sheep farmers treat their ewes pre-lambing with long-acting drench products (capsules or injections) expecting their ewes and lambs to benefit, however this study shows that any benefits seen at weaning are likely to over-estimate the true value. . . 

Global investors boost NZ red seaweed farming venture:

Aquaculture startup CH4 Global has closed on seed funding of US$3 million (NZ$4.45 million) and will scale up its New Zealand operations with commercial marine and tank-based seaweed cultivation pilots based at Rakiura/Stewart Island. These pilots will serve as the platform to deliver an end to end production module in late 2021.

CH4 Global is currently operating a sustainable wild harvest programme at Rakiura of a specific species of red seaweed – Asparagopsis armata – to use as a livestock supplement solution to reduce ruminant methane emissions by up to 90 percent. The harvesting programme will provide the seed stock for the scale-up as well as finished product for dairy and sheep trials.

“Our focus is on urgently impacting climate change within the next decade, so this investment means NZ farmers, and farmers in the US and Australia, could be the first in the world to make a meaningful impact on emissions in this way,” comments Dr Steve Meller, President, CEO and Co-Founder of CH4 Global. . . 


Rural round-up

18/08/2020

COVID-19: Time to invest in primary sector R&D – Jacqueline Rowarth:

More investment in agriculture is required to achieve further growth post-COVID, according to Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Agricultural debt has reached almost $63 billion dollars, up from $12 billion in 2000.

Not generally mentioned in the same news item is that over the same time period, business debt has increased to $122 billion from $41 billion and household debt (mortgage and personal debt) has increased to $297 billion from $70 billion.

New Zealanders have been investing on farm, in business and in their homes to improve the futures, just as the Government has done during the COVID-19 response. . . 

Farmers need a business mindset – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple made several changes to their farm system to be more environmentally sustainable, earning them the 2020 Canterbury Balance Farm Environment Supreme Award. Tony Bennyreports.

The key to improved environmental outcomes is for farmers to be profitable and efficient so they can afford to make necessary changes, say Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award winners Tony Coltman and Dana Carver.

“It’s not enough to be a good dairy farmer, meaning good with cows and grass, you have to be able to run a profitable business as well. If we, as farmers, don’t learn to be good business managers we’re going to struggle to survive in the world we’re heading into,” Dana says. . . 

Spontaneous fractures – Elbow Deep:

It’s a little daunting starting a new dairy season when you’re coming off the back of the best season the farm has ever had; record production has the effect of setting high expectations of yourself and your staff, and the desire to beat the previous year’s results is foremost in your mind.

Mid Canterbury has had the perfect start to the 2020 season; pasture covers lifted in June thanks  to mild temperatures and good rainfall while all the cows were off farm, and the continuing mild and dry weather since the cows came home has made this one of the easiest calvings I can remember.

While I’ve been making the most of the fine and settled weather I’ve also been waiting for something to go wrong, after all nothing this good can last forever.  I’ve been maximising the benefits of the great conditions while simultaneously bracing myself for an adverse event along the lines of the snowfall of 2006, the one that left this farm without power for twelve days and others in the dark for much longer. . . 

Vets unable to explain broken shoulders in cattle – Gerald Piddock:

Veterinarians and other experts are mystified to explain why more dairy cows are ending up with broken shoulders.

Dairy heifers seem to be most prone to the humerus bone injuries during their first lactation, although they occasionally fall to them in the second lactation. Experts believe the broken shoulders are not an issue with beef cattle.

Broken shoulders appeared mostly during peak lactation in September-October, although they also occurred before calving and through to December, Massey University veterinary professor Dave West told farmers at Limestone Downs Station’s annual field day.

West said a soon-to-be-released study from the university showed this was a serious problem in the dairy industry. . . .

TB strain linked to feral pigs – Colin WIlliscroft:

The same strain of bovine TB infecting Hawke’s Bay cattle has been traced back to feral pigs in the Waipunga area off the Napier Taupo Highway, although pest control on the block of land where the pigs were found has been held up through an objection before the Maori Land Court.

Farmers who attended a recent series of three meetings in Hawke’s Bay, arranged by Ospri to update them on the status of the TB control operation in the region, were told DNA-typing of the TB strain found affecting the region has been traced back to feral pigs on about 12,000ha of Tataraakina C Trust land.

That confirms that the spread of TB in Hawke’s Bay is coming via wildlife and not through movement of livestock. . . 

Ground spreaders celebrate award winners:

The winners and runners up of the 2020 New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) awards were congratulated by Executive Officer, Melanie Dingle, on their contributions to the ground spreading industry at the association’s recent online AGM.

Ted Usmar, head of engineering at Waikato-based Wealleans Ltd, was awarded the Trucks & Trailers sponsored Innovation Award for his long-term commitment to continuous improvement to technical efficiency and driver safety. During his 30 year career, Ted has created engineering solutions that ensure spreader trucks work as efficiently as possible while offering the best safety features for operators. From making small tweaks to full re-designs, Ted’s foresight and innovation is recognised in New Zealand as well as overseas. . . 

Six farmers develop Scotland’s first gluten free oat supply chain :

Six farms have collaborated to develop Scotland’s first gluten free oat supply chain that guarantees provenance, assurance and full traceability.

The market opportunity for gluten free oats drove the six Aberdeenshire farmers to investigate a new supply chain.

The group recognised that, while oats are naturally gluten free, there was no oat assurance scheme that guaranteed that oat storage post-harvest and milling facilities hadn’t been contaminated with gluten from other cereal grains. . .

 


Rural round-up

17/08/2020

More action less reports:

What is it with the current Government and its infatuation with setting up committees and producing endless reports?

In the past three years, in the primary sector alone we’ve seen committees established and reports produced on the future of the primary sector, freshwater reforms, wool and agritech – to name just a few.

As one can expect from any type of government-induced report, most of these were heavy on slogans and rhetoric, but lacking in real detail or implementation.

However, one of these reports – and probably the one that will most impact on the primary sector – relating to new freshwater regulations passed into law last week. . . 

United front against UN’s call to eat less beef – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is right behind the global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef taking a stand on the United Nations call to eat less beef.

The UN has published claims that the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies.

The Global Roundtable is taking a stand on this and is raising its concerns directly with the UN.

The NZ Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) is right behind condemning the UN campaign and its accusations of the impact of the meat industry on the environment.  . . 

A fake meat future? Yeah right – Sam McIvor:

There has been a healthy debate about the future of red meat over the past few weeks.

But anyone who claims that farmers have their head in the sand is well wide of the mark and we need to set the record straight.

Yes, farmers, like all New Zealanders, have seen the rise of alternative proteins in the supermarket aisles and on restaurant menus. Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s own research two years ago acknowledged alternative proteins were likely to become major competitors.

However, the study also showed the same forces driving investment in and demand for alternative proteins – including concerns about industrial (feedlot) farming, health concerns arising from the use of hormones and antibiotics, the environment and animal welfare – offer an opportunity to differentiate New Zealand red meat internationally. . .

Revenue fall for Central North Island drystock farmers – Gerald Piddock:

The lingering effects of the recent drought are set to hit the pockets of Central North Island sheep and beef farmers after a new report projects a significant fall in revenue this season.

AgFirst’s Central North Island Sheep and Beef Survey is forecasting a 22% fall in cash income compared to last season because of lower lambing percentages and expectation of reduced prices for lamb, wool and cattle.

The fall in income meant farm profit before tax was down 57%, AgFirst sheep and beef consultant Steve Howarth said in presenting the survey during a webinar: “In absolute terms, we have come from $112,000 in the previous year down to $48,000 profit for 2020-2021.” . . 

Taking NAIT seriously – Sudesh Kissun:

North Otago calf rearer Jared Ovens believes the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak has led to more farmers embracing animal traceability.

Ovens says farmers are now realising the value of traceability and it does not pay anymore to take shortcuts.  

“I think those who are less willing to change are the minority and some have since got out of the industry as a result.”

For Ovens, calf rearing is a part-time job.  . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft 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 between $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. . . 

The Covid diaries: from business owner to grapevine pruner – Maia Hart:

Covid-19 has disrupted New Zealand and the world. People have died, jobs have disappeared and borders have closed. This Stuff project follows seven people or groups of people in the year after New Zealand moved to alert level 1. How does the shadow of the virus hang over their everyday lives?

Stuff journalists will revisit them at key moments over the year, reporting on the Covid recovery through the lives of these Kiwis. The first in the series introduces the people taking part.

A self-proclaimed “people person”, Duncan McIntyre says he struggles to not be doing something.

When borders shut in order for New Zealand to fight Covid-19, McIntyre’s shuttle business, which generally operated out of Marlborough Airport, came to a halt “overnight”. . . 

WA spared grain harvest disaster as rain falls ‘just in the nick of time’ across state – Daniel Mercer and Belinda Varischetti:

Widespread rains that fell across southern Western Australia this month have saved the state’s grain growers from potential disaster, with predictions there could even be a bumper harvest.

In its latest outlook on the summer crop, the Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) said recent rains that drenched large parts of the state’s wheatbelt had fallen “just in the nick of time” and turned the season on its head.

Prior to the rains, many parts of southern WA had effectively been in drought following years of lower-than-average falls and a record dry start to the winter. . . .


Rural round-up

12/08/2020

Leading by example – Gerald Piddock:

Being responsible to their land, animals, people and their community has earned a Hawke’s Bay couple the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. Gerald Piddock reports.

Being a responsible dairy farmer means more than just being industry role models to Nick and Nicky Dawson.

It involves working beyond the farm bubble in the wider community and nurturing the health of people, the environment and their animals.

“It’s all interconnected,” Nicky says. 

“It’s like a three-legged stool. You can’t have one without the other.” . . 

Time running out for ag contractors as spring approaches – Gerald Piddock:

October is looming as a crunch-month for agricultural contractors and dairy farmers as the scramble continues to find staff to drive machinery to plant summer feed crops and cut grass cut for silage.

Waikato Federated Farmers vice-president Ben Moore said there was huge concern that contractors would not have enough staff on the ground to meet demand from dairy farmers as border restrictions continue to prevent overseas farm machinery operators from entering the country to work this spring and summer.

The region was still recovering from last summer’s drought with feed reserves on many farms already low. 

Moore feared there could be a potential disaster if farmers are unable to get their summer supplementary feed supply organised and there was another very dry summer. . . 

Ag contractor training gearing up – Mark Daniel:

Agricultural contractors are warning about a severe shortage of skilled machinery operators for the upcoming harvest season.

The shortage is due to New Zealand’s closed borders, shutting out staff from overseas. In response, a number of training organisations are offering displaced local workers and jobseekers a basic grounding in the sector.

In the South Island, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is promoting its ‘An Introduction to Agricultural Contracting’ course – based at its Telford Campus, near Balclutha. This initiative was the result of SIT’s discussions with Rural Contractors NZ Ltd (RCNZ) and some key players in the contracting sector in Otago and Southland – who all wanted to do something positive to address the need for trained contracting staff. . .

Lake Hawea to host world ploughing championships

The world’s best exponents of the art of ploughing are coming to Lake Hawea, but not for quite a while.

An Upper Clutha group of ploughing enthusiasts announced on Saturday they had secured the 2028 world championships.

That means 60 of the best “ploughmen” from farming communities around world will load up their tractors and ploughs, ship them to New Zealand and carve out furrows across the flat paddocks south of the lake.

Organising committee chairman John Osborne said his committee had spent two years preparing Lake Hawea’s case for the event, “basically trying to prove to the New Zealand executive we have facilities up here to have all these world guys here”. . . 

Industry hunters step up for annual event  – Jared Morgan:

Ask hunters where exactly in Central Otago they shot their haul in the annual Manuherikia Boar, Buck and Stag Hunt and they are unlikely to tell you.

They want to protect their turf and believe the results speak for themselves.

Yesterday marked weigh-in day in the annual three-day fundraiser for the Alexandra Scout Group.

It was heartland rural New Zealand at its best if the atmosphere at the weigh-in and prize-giving was anything to go by. . . 

Matching beef yields and consumer expectations :

ENHANCING the red meat value chain through a greater understanding of efficient use of farm resources, better use of grazing mosaics, and the production of cattle that reach and exceed domestic and export ready standards is the aim of a new four-year partnership for the west.

The University of Western Australia and Meat & Livestock through the MLA Donor Company have joined forces to coordinate and drive an integrated research and practice change program for the West Australian beef Industry.

The partnership, BeefLinks, will provide better knowledge and a range of technologies to support the sustainability credentials of products and interconnectivity between producers, processors and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/07/2020

Synthetic products ‘kick int he guts’ – Alice Scott:

When it comes to supporting the New Zealand wool industry, East Otago sheep and beef farmer Georgie McGregor reckons there needs to be a new hashtag started for synthetic apparel: #senditback.

“The big farm retailers not only stock synthetic clothing and hats but they also run these promotions and send what is essentially a plastic bush shirt to us for buying a certain product in bulk.

“It’s one thing to stock this cheap synthetic product, but to give it away to farmers who are out there every day trying to make part of their living out of wool, well it’s a kick in the guts really.

“I just think we should all start sending back this plastic stuff they give us and make it their problem. If we don’t say anything, nothing will change,” she said. . . 

No place for Tom, Dick or Harry :

Migrants are a critical and valued part of dairying in New Zealand, filling skills shortages on farms when there aren’t enough local workers available.

The sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas (18% of total sector employees) and another 1500 on resident visas (mostly employees but some employers).

The NZ Government, like other governments around the world, is facing a growing unemployment queue thanks to Covid-19. They are under pressure to employ locals. But it isn’t as simple.

All those out-of-work Queenstown baristas are hardly likely to give up and move sticks to the Waikato, don an apron and start milking cows.

Cost control the biggest influence for farmers in latest survey – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’s latest economic survey reveals that cost control continues to be a key driver for New Zealand dairy farmers as the industry faces ongoing challenges in both production and profitability.

The survey for the 2018-2019 year showed that operating profit per hectare for owner-operators was $2154. This is down on the previous year’s total of $2238, but above the average for the previous decade of $1696, DairyNZ principal economist Dr Graeme Doole said.

 Dr Doole says that volatility will remain a significant challenge for farmers to manage.

Feed continues to be a farmers largest expenditure area at 28.5% of total expenditure. It has been farmers’ expenses category since 2007-2008. . . 

Five southern farmers grade-free for 10 years – Yvonne O’Hara:

Five Fonterra suppliers have earned blocks of cheese and plaques as recognition for being grade free for 10 years or more, for the past season.

Thirty-four suppliers nationwide earned the plaque, five of whom are in Otago and Southland.

In addition to the Weir family, of Inch Clutha, there are the Chalmers family of Kaitangata, the Morrisons, of Kaitangata, the Rutter/Hannah families, of Kaka Point, and the Cricketts of Otautau. . . 

Bees to help elephants and tribes thrive in Africa: a powerful new partnership to help save the wild:

Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer of UMF Mānuka honey, has today announced a new multi-year partnership with wildlife charity Saving the Wild, which will see the two organisations work together on global projects to help protect ‘nature in need’.

As the major Sponsorship Partner of Saving the Wild, Comvita will be acting upon its founding values, with the mission to connect people to nature at the heart of the partnership.

Established in 1974, Comvita and came to life in a counter-culture movement built on respect for nature and humankind. Saving the Wild was founded in 2014 by Jamie Joseph, with a mission to protect endangered African wildlife and ultimately the priceless biodiversity of the planet. . . 

Livestock birth-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

09/07/2020

Wool, trees, rules threaten sheep – Annette Scott:

Sheep farming is under serious threat from incentives to grow trees and more crops, retired Federated Farmers meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson says.

In his six years on the national executive, the past three as section chairman, Anderson said the biggest single frustration has been wool.

“We have got a product we have selectively bred for generations and generations, it ticks all the environmental boxes and many of us are dumping crutchings, bellies and pieces on-farm because it costs more to get them to the woolstore than you get for it – it’s ridiculous.

“If there was ever a time for the wool industry to get its act together and work collaboratively to improve the fortunes of everyone in the industry, now is the time. . . 

We don’t know how lucky we are – Gerald Piddock:

New Federated Farmers dairy chairman Wayne Langford says the next few years will be critical for the industry as it navigates freshwater reform, climate change and Mycoplasma bovis.

The Golden Bay dairy farmer takes over from Chris Lewis, having served as his vice-president for the past three years.

“I think with the state of the Government and potentially them doing another term, I think these are all going to start to come to a head. 

“They have made their intentions pretty clear on that so I think these next three years are pretty crucial in that, making sure our farming sector, where we are still profitable and where there are still vibrant communities and a bunch of young farmers still on the ground.” . .  

A shake-up for the land and her export billions – Tim Murphy:

The Government wants to accelerate improvements to production and sustainability on the land to greatly increase export earnings over the next decade. But big change will be needed, Tim Murphy reports.

A new package to grow our agriculture, food and fibre industries, improve the environment and stimulate jobs has a huge financial target and an even bigger set of challenges for farmers and growers.

The final report of the Primary Sector Council – Fit for a Better World – sets an ambitious agenda to ‘transform’ farm and forestry practices sustainably and in keeping with Te Taiao (the natural world) to address the climate crisis, while finding new $1 billion export products and saving and developing free trade for our products.

After a long period of consultation and research, the council’s vision for New Zealand’s primary industries is all encompassing: “We are committed to meeting the greatest challenge humanity faces: rapidly moving to a low carbon emissions society, restoring the health of our water, reversing the decline in biodiversity and, at the same time, feeding our people.” . . 

Grief over grain drain – David Anderson:

A whole generation of farmers don’t seem to know about the advantages of feeding NZ-grown grain to livestock, claims Jeremy Talbot.

Talbot is a South Canterbury arable farmer and long-time proponent of farmers using more NZ-grown grain to feed their livestock.

believes the current drought in many parts of the country, and the resulting shortage of hay and baleage, is an ideal time for the practice of grain feeding livestock to be highlighted. . . 

Government Sells Taxpayers Down The River:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is sceptical that 61% of taxpayer funding for waterway clean-up just happens to be focused on the Northland electorate.

Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke says: “The Government has announced that $162 million of taxpayers’ money will be spent on cleaning our waterways. There are 23 projects, but one will receive $100 million, 61% of the total allocation. It is also the only project set to run more than one year.”

“The Kaipara Moana Remediation programme is predicted to create 1,094 jobs over the six-year life of the project surrounding the Kaipara Harbour, most of which sits within the key electorate of Northland.  . . 

How bush fire management is saving the Carpentaria grasswren – Derek Barry:

Aerial fire management is helping save the Carpentaria grasswren in North West Queensland.

The project at Calton Hills at Gunpowder, north of Mount Isa has been running for three years replicating land management that used to be done for centuries before Europeans arrived and a new video produced by Southern Gulf NRM is showing how it is working.

Michael Blackman, a fire management consultant with Friendly Fire Ecological Consultants said the aerial burns was carried out in older age spinifex.

“This country here has a lot of large wildfires come through in 2011 and 2012 and the main reason for doing this project is to assist in the recovery of the Carpentaria grasswren which lives in the old age spinifex,” Mr Blackman said. . . 


Rural round-up

06/07/2020

The perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19 – Eric Frykberg:

More evidence has emerged of the perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19.

The main problem is that many essential workers from overseas cannot come in because of travel restrictions, either as backpacking working holiday makers, or Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme workers from the Pacific Islands.

This point was made repeatedly by agricultural sectors at a Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee yesterday.

Representatives of the strawberry industry told the committee that had done all they could to attract New Zealand workers – even growing strawberries on tables so that pickers don’t have to toil all day bent double. . . 

Rural water hijacked – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are worried Environment Minister David Parker’s decision to fast track Watercare’s consent to take Waikato River water for Aucklanders will come at the expense of their allocations.

There is concern farmers who were ahead of the Auckland Council’s water company in the queue for consent applications could now miss out because of the decision, Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said.

“It’s not really right. A region should look after its own.” . . 

Farmers donate meat to charity :

A North Otago farmer who is among the first in the country to contribute to a new meat donation service is hoping others will follow.

Meat the Need is a national charity designed to supply meat to City Missions and food banks.

The meat is donated by farmers, processed, packed and delivered to those most in need.

Altavady Farm’s Kate Faulks was one of the first Silver Fern Farms farmers to support the cause, donating a cow and a beef steer.

She is part of a North Otago family business made up of four farms: two dairy farms (Providence farm, Fortitude farm), one dairy support farm (Living Springs Farm) and one dairy support/beef farm (Altavady Farm). . . 

Report shows swell in demand for irrigation – Daniel Birchfield:

A dry autumn helped the North Otago Irrigation Company pump out its third highest recorded volume of water to properties on its scheme since it was opened close to 14 years ago.

About 38million cum of water was delivered to 163 farmer shareholders, irrigating 26,000 hectares of land in the 11 months to May 31, the company’s report to the Waitaki District Council, presented on Tuesday, showed.

There was strong demand for irrigation over the peak summer period, after a typically slow start in October and November, which the report said was more than offset by demand in December and January.

The dry autumn which followed boosted demand further.  . . 

Hemp success at Darfield farm:

As one of the world’s most controversial (and misunderstood) plants, hemp is good for a whole lot of things: shoes, clothing, paper, you name it. And now it’s proven to be a perfect crop for the Co-op.

It was grown at Fonterra’s Darfield farm as a first-of-its-kind trial to see how hemp grows under dairy wastewater irrigation. They’ve found it’s a profitable, resilient and nutrient-gobbling alternative to the usual pasture grown at the 850ha Darfield farm, located just out of Christchurch.

While Hemp looks like cannabis, it does not contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.

Fonterra’s Regional Farm Operations Manager, Steve Veix says the dry, hot Canterbury summers make it challenging to find the ideal crop to grow on-farm, which traditionally grows pasture. . . 

2020 Tonnellerie De Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year competition to go ahead:

Entries are now open for the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year Competition. Plans are well underway for the regional competitions to take place throughout September and the national final in November.

The competition is open to all those under the age of thirty involved in wine production. This includes cellarhands, cellar managers, laboratory technicians, assistant winemakers and winemakers.

The competition helps stretch the ambitious contestants as well as help them widen their network and start making a name for themselves. . .


Rural round-up

25/05/2020

Rural life in lockdown: Farming women’s struggle with mental health and work – Bonnie Flaws:

South Island dairy farmer and company director Jessie Chan went to some pretty dark places during lockdown.

The experiences of rural women often go unheard, she said, and lockdown was particularly tough on them.

Between homeschooling her six-year old while juggling a toddler, farm and board commitments, there were often nights she was up at 11pm doing paper work.

Catching up with women in her local community in Dorie, after lockdown eased, Chan realised she was not alone as others expressed how much they had struggled. . . 

Easier without trampers, climbers, walkers, tourists – Kerrie Waterworth:

Running a high country farm next to a national park has been easier during the Covid-19 lockdown because there are no climbers, trampers, walkers and tourists on the road or property.

Fourth generation farmer Randall Aspinall and his wife, Allison, manage the 2300 ha beef and sheep property, 50km from Wanaka, at the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park.

It is estimated more than 100,000 people travel through the property each year which can present challenges, the most common of which is shifting stock.

‘‘Normally we would try to do it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and often it would be a two-person job to stop traffic at some of the choke points, whereas with no traffic you can just go and do it wherever you want to,’’ Mr Aspinall said. . . 

Coronavirus: Govt buying 2000 pigs a week as industry struggles with surplus – Esther Taunton:

With thousands of pigs unable to go to market during the coronavirus lockdown, the Government is stepping in.

Independent butchers were not allowed to open to the public while the country was at Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4, resulting in a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue.

To help clear the backlog, the Government has agreed to buy some of the surplus pork at cost, up to a maximum of 2000 pigs or 112 tonnes a week.

The meat will then be delivered to food banks by national food rescue network KiwiHarvest. . . 

Covid fails to stop moving day – Gerald Piddock:

Moving day is under way again for many dairy farm workers following several weeks of covid-19 lockdown disruption.

Level four reduced the time farmers had to move because it put on hold much of the shifting and preparation done in the lead-up to the move.

Federated Farmers sharemilkers spokesman Richard McIntyre said the resulting uncertainty caused some issues. 

Moving companies were also booked ahead months in advance and the lockdown did lead to stress, he said.

McIntyre’s sharemilking neighbours had bought a farm and were in the process of moving when the lockdown occurred. . . 

Forestry in blood of Dipton man – Yvonne O’Hara:

Many of Nic Melvin’s ancestors were in the forestry and sawmilling business in New Zealand from the 1860s and he knew from an early age he wanted a career in the sector.

From a dairy farm at Dipton, Mr Melvin (19) is in his second year of a four-year forestry science degree at the University of Canterbury.

He has been awarded this year’s Southern Wood Council’s Scholarship, worth $4500 over three years, which he’ll put towards student fees.

His father used to be a tree feller for whom he started working when aged about 13. . . 

Failed petition aims to spark more farming support – David Anderson:

Te Kuiti-based electrician Terry Waite’s demand that the Government apologise to farmers for the way it has treated them – especially over the last couple of years – has failed.

Waite was so sparked up by what he believes is the Government’s poor treatment of farmers that he started a petition, asking people to support it so it could be presented to parliament.

The petition needed to attract 100,000 signatures. He’d tried to get his petition to ask: ‘The NZ Govt to apologise to NZ farmers’. However, the bureaucrats wouldn’t allow that wording.  . .


Rural round-up

16/05/2020

Frighteningly different priorities – Peter Burke:

In the cities people are clambering over each other to get the first Big Mac or piece of deep-fried chicken, not to mention a ‘real’ coffee.

So fanatical were some individuals for a fast-food fix that they were stupid enough to risk undoing the good work of the rest of the country by not sticking to the rules of physical distancing.

Having said that, a few idiot politicians and community leaders have yielded to temptation and broken lockdown rules, setting a poor example. Their actions are insulting to the rural community – farmer, growers, people who work in meat processing plants, packhouses and other facilities to provide food for these unthinking individuals.

And don’t let’s forget all the other essential workers that are the unsung heroes of this crisis.

Nothing for our most productive sector in Budget – National:

Budget 2020 hasn’t provided anything of note for the primary sector at a time when it is leading our nation’s rebuild, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

He says the Government’s claim of ‘rebuilding better’ is nothing but a meaningless slogan for the primary sector. Muller says costly Government proposals like Essential Freshwater are still on the way, there’s no large-scale water storage funding and not enough support to secure the 50,000 workers needed to stimulate the sector.

“Covid-19 has thrown our country into a deep economic hole and we’re now relying on our food and fibre sector to get out of it.

We should be encouraging this sector to grow and maximise its potential but funding has gone backwards. With farmers and growers across the country experiencing the worst drought in living memory this season, it’s disappointing to see no significant investment in water storage,” he says. . .

Farmers want new house rules – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy industry leaders have asked the Government to amend its covid-19 ban on landlords evicting tenants after reports of dairy staff exploiting the rules by refusing to leave supplied housing as the season draws to a close.

As a result, new staff moving onto the farms can’t move into the houses in time for the new milking season in June.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said the circumstances usually involve a staff member who was exiting dairying when the new rules became law. . .

High country – isolation goes with the territory – Kerrie Waterworth:

Adjusting to the isolation of Covid-19 restrictions has been difficult for many urban dwellers but for families on high country stations isolation goes with the territory.

Duncan and Allannah McRae run Alpha Burn Station, a 4519ha high country beef, sheep and deer farm at Glendhu Bay, 15 minutes drive west from Wanaka.

Before the Covid-19 crisis their two sons, Archie (15) and Riley (13), were at boarding school in Dunedin but they had returned home and were learning online.

Mrs McRae said both she and her daughter, Hazel (10), have had to adjust to having the two big boys back in the house. . . 

Taratahi might host short courses – Neal Wallace:

The Taratahi campus could again be training young people, albeit for short-term courses introducing prospective students to agricultural careers and proviing extra skills for existing workers.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Social Development are considering funding DairyNZ to develop and deliver three-week industry familiarisation programmes at the Wairarapa facility.

The future of the campus has been in limbo since the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was put in liquidation in December 2018. . .

Want safe affordable food? Reward those who produce it – Peter Mailler;

The world is certainly a paradise for anyone looking for an issue to express an opinion about this week, but I want to take a different approach.

Rather than trotting out my take on the barley tariffs issue and the complete insanity that is diplomacy with China by media, I thought I would try to foster a discussion on an earlier opinion published in The Gauge section and constructively contest some ideas around an issue that I think goes to the core of how the agricultural sector presents itself to the rest of the country. . . 

 


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