Rural round-up

February 3, 2019

January ‘hottest month’ on record but farmers say growing season ‘extraordinary‘ – Matt Brown:

January in Marlborough has matched the record for the region’s hottest month since records began in 1932.

The month also smashed the record for days above 30C, with 10 sweltering days compared to the previous record of six in 1990.

But hotter days and cooler nights saw the month tie with January 2018 and February 1998 for the title of ‘hottest ever month’ in Marlborough with the mean temperature of 20.7 degrees Celsius, Plant and Food Research scientist Rob Agnew said. . .

 Up to 75 jobs from new North Waikato chicken hatchery – Gerald Piddock:

The opening of a multimillion dollar chicken hatchery in Waikato’s north has bought with it between 50 and 75 jobs and economic benefits to the entire region, say locals and iwi leaders.

Owned by American poultry giant Cobb Vantress, the $70 million hatchery in Rangiriri West, north of Huntly, currently employs 50 staff. That will expand to between 70-75 people once it is fully operational later this year.

For locals Stephen Pearce and Phillip Lorimer, employment at the hatchery was too good of an opportunity for locals to pass up. . . 

Rural sector scares off trainees :

Using Landcorp farms in a restructured vocational education training system for the primary industry is one option being considered by the Government.

Farming leaders have called on the Government to buy Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre’s Masterton campus from the liquidators to secure future vocational farm training, saying once gone it will be difficult and costly to replace.

“It is crucial that facility in Masterton remains available to agricultural training,” Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland says. . .

Plantain research a game-changer for farmers :

Game-changing new research into how plantain crops can reduce nitrogen loss from dairy farms will put upper Manawatu farmers at the forefront of dairy science.

Dairy farmers in the Tararua catchment face reducing nitrogen loss from pastures by an average of 60% to meet the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council’s One Plan targets.

To achieve them farmers are adopting a range of on-farm changes and the region’s new plantain research could be a key component. . .

Farmers sick of being treated as rates ‘mugs’:

Farmers are out of patience with councils that treat them as cash cows, with a new Federated Farmers survey showing less than 4% believe they get good value for money from their rates.

“It’s local government election year and those chasing our votes can expect some very pointy questions on why average council rates in New Zealand jumped 79.7% between June 2007 and June 2017 when inflation (CPI) for the same period was only 23.1%,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. . . 

Navajo shepherds cling to centuries-old tradition in a land where it refuses to rain – David Kelly:

More than a hundred rowdy sheep pressed up against the gates of the corral as Irene Bennalley drew near. Dogs yipped, rams snorted.

Just after 7:30 a.m., she flung open the pen and the woolly mob charged out in a cloud of dust. Well-trained dogs struggled to keep order as the flock moved across the bone-dry earth searching for stray bits of grass or leaves.

“Back! Back!” the 62-year-old Bennalley shouted at the stragglers separating from the flock — ripe pickings for coyotes or packs of wild dogs. . . 

Photos reveal Queensland cotton farms full of water while Darling River runs dry

These photos were taken by the Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick from a light plane over southern Queensland near Goondiwindi, on Wednesday.

They show rivers such as the Condamine relatively full, and storages on cotton farms holding thousands of megalitres of water.

Yet three hours away in north-west New South Wales, the Barwon and Darling rivers are a series of muddy pools. . . 


Rural round-up

January 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

Ewe prices rocket :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bovis eradication is still the plan – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

January 14, 2019

The answer is in the soil – Annette Scott:

Regenerative agriculture flies in the face of conventional farming wisdom with soil management the key to profiting from nature, Canterbury cropping farmer Simon Osborne says. Annette Scottvisited him onfarm to learn what it’s about.

Farming for yield is not farming for profit, Simon Osborne, who is passionate about his stewardship of the land, says.

He has a clear focus on farming for profit from natural resources and biodiversity with the firm belief that a paradigm shift in agriculture can hugely boost farmer profits and crop diversity, curb pests and eliminate the need for tilling, pesticides and herbicides. . .

Report shows dairy’s role in economy – Hugh Stringleman:

The dairy industry has commissioned and released a valuable report on its scale and importance that should be widely used by dairy leaders, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

Facts and figures from the wide-ranging report by NZIER would be used for making submissions to local and national government.

“Dairy farmers know just how inter-dependent we are with local suppliers, tradespeople, and employees, and this report highlights that,” Lewis said. . . 

Fewer herds but more milk – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand’s dairy sector is evolving, with the latest data showing a shift to fewer herds and a greater focus on their performance.

According to the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2017-18 report, published by DairyNZ and LIC, there were 11,590 dairy herds last season – 158 fewer than the previous season. This was the third year of decreasing herd numbers, but the average herd size increased by 17 cows to 431.

The total 2017-18 cow population was 4.99 million, an increase of 2.7% from the previous season but still below the peak population of at least 5.01m cows in the 2014-15 season. . .

Dairy expanison over as farmers look to other sectors – Gerald Piddock:

The days of endless dairy growth fuelled by farm sales appear to be over as farmers look to elsewhere instead of chasing the white gold.

Dairy expansion, whether it’s from land conversions or farmers buying existing farms appears to have slowed from the heady days of 2014’s dairy land price boom.

Instead, latest figures show an easing of land values and large numbers or properties remaining unsold throughout the spring and summer – traditionally the busiest period of the year for farm sales. . . 

Female ranchers are reclaiming the American west – Amy Chozick:

As men leave animal agriculture for less gritty work, more ranches are being led by women — with new ideas about technology, ecology and the land.

Hundreds of years before John Wayne and Gary Cooper gave us a Hollywood version of the American West, with men as the brute, weather-beaten stewards of the land, female ranchers roamed the frontier. They were the indigenous, Navajo, Cheyenne and other tribes, and Spanish-Mexican rancheras, who tended and tamed vast fields, traversed rugged landscapes with their dogs, hunted, and raised livestock. 

The descendants of European settlers brought with them ideas about the roles of men and women, and for decades, family farms and ranches were handed down to men. Now, as mechanization and technology transform the ranching industry, making the job of cowboy less about physical strength — though female ranchers have that in spades — and more about business, animal husbandry and the environment, women have reclaimed their connection to the land. . .

Big tomo in the ground attracts tourists – Benn Bathgate:

First came the tomo – then the tourists.

Speaking eight months after a huge tomo developed on the Tumunui South farm he manages outside Rotorua, manager Colin Tremain said he didn’t regret posting on social media about the huge hole, even though the reaction took him by surprise.

Shortly after posting photos of the sinkhole Tremain said the media arrived, then the scientists, then the locals, then the tourists. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 23, 2018

P kicking out dope in the provinces – Richard Rennie:

Rural New Zealand is playing host to a wave of methamphetamine (P) lab production and consumption that has knocked cannabis off its pedestal as the recreational drug of choice in the provinces.

Research by Massey University associate professor Chris Wilkins has highlighted that contrary to popular belief it is rural New Zealand, not large metropolitan centres, where P’s availability has resoundingly surged.

His research work has revealed small towns and rural areas where gang influence predominates are targeted specifically for P use to maximise gang drug revenue. . . 

Heading for a TB-free future – Barry Harris:

Ospri Chairman Barry Harris says New Zealand farmers can be proud of the progress of the TB Plan towards eradicating the infectious livestock disease bovine tuberculosis.

Among the most important challenges facing New Zealand agriculture is managing and eradicating diseases that threaten our dairy and meat exports. 

While Mycoplasma bovis has hogged the headlines recently, the progress of the TBfree programme to eradicate bovine tuberculosis has been quietly progressing as planned.

TB, caused by the similar-sounding Mycobacterium bovis, has been a problem for farmed livestock since they arrived in the 19th century.  . . 

Push for authorities to subsidise farmers’ use of dung beetles to help reduce environmental impacts – Gerald Piddock:

A company that grows and supplies dung beetles to farmers wants to partner up with local government to lift the insect’s uptake across New Zealand.

The insects are another tool to help pastoral farmers mitigate their environmental impact, according to Dung Beetle Innovations director Shaun Forgie​.

Forgie, along with business partner Andrew Barber and Peter Buckley, outlined to Waikato Regional Councillors at a recent committee meeting why it would be economically and environmentally beneficial for landowners and local government to include the beetles in steps for improving water quality and soil health. . . 

Stud stock agent judge of qualities – Sally Rae:

Among the hordes of exhibitors and visitors through the sheep pavilion at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week, there was a familiar face.

Stud stock agent Roger Keach is a well-known figure within the New Zealand stud stock industry and  regular show attendee for many years.

This year, he was tasked with judging the Hampshire sheep section and  all-breeds wool ram hogget class. . . 

Getting in behind – Rebecca Harper:

A lack of practical experience made it hard for Ashley Greer to get a foot on the career ladder in the sheep and beef industry, but she refused to take no for an answer. After years of trying, she has landed her dream job shepherding on a progressive sheep and beef farm near Masterton. Rebecca Harper went to visit her.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. It’s an old proverb, but one that is particularly relevant for 28-year-old Ashley Greer.

Ashley set her heart on a career in the sheep and beef sector and began studying towards her Bachelor of Science, majoring in agricultural science and minoring in animal science, at Massey University. In her holidays, she needed to obtain placements on farm. . .

North Otago meat plants ‘flat out’ – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s two major meat processing plants are working flat out.

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker said the site just north of Oamaru was operating three chains, processing both beef and sheep.

”Lamb is continuing to come through strongly, with the plant having just completed a very busy period processing chilled Christmas orders for the important United Kingdom market. . . 

Thriving horticulture sector behind new degree at Massey University – Angie Skerrett:

A booming horticulture industry has prompted the introduction of a new degree course at Massey University.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) quarterly outlook figures for New Zealand’s primary sector estimates growth in the horticulture sector for the coming year will be 13.1 percent, a $0.7 billion increase on the previous year.

A three-year Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree is set to begin in February to cope with the expected growth. . . 


Rural round-up

October 16, 2018

Farming with depression a daily battle for young Waikato Farmer – Gerald Piddock:

Paige Hocking takes it one day at a time in battling depression while working on a dairy farm.

She seldom makes long-term plans because she never knows when the black dog might wander in.

It all starts in the morning when she wakes up on the 125-hectare farm she works as a dairy assistant near Waiterimu in Waikato.

The 21-year-old was diagnosed with depression three years ago. She describes its effects as like shaking up a bottle of soft drink. . .

Scheme’s success testament to conscience of rural community – Richard Davison:

Water quality in New Zealand’s creeks and rivers has become a hot-button issue during recent years, and much has been made of the failure to live up to the nation’s “100% Pure” branding.

Given recent headlines declaring Otago’s waterways to be “horrific”, and with only 60% considered better than “fair” over the course of a 10-year analysis, it would be easy to believe the message has not been getting through to where — and to whom — it matters.

Those often bearing the brunt of blame for deteriorating water quality have been farmers, but their characterisation as wilfully ignorant, environment-wrecking profiteers could not be further from the truth, according to Landcare Research environmental scientist Craig Simpson. . . 

Bees taking farmer on busy journey – Sally Rae:

Julie Kearney is getting a buzz out of bees.

Mrs Kearney and husband Tony farm sheep and beef cattle on Shingly Creek Station, a 2000ha property on the Pig Root.

Nearly three years ago, the fifth-generation farmers were discussing how they did not see many bees on the farm.

So Mrs Kearney completed a certificate in apiculture through Taratahi and she now has 14 established hives. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis compensation mired in delays as plot thickens – Keith Woodford:

The messages coming from MPI, and also mirrored by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s recent comments, are that good progress is being made with Mycoplasma bovis eradication and that MPI is getting on top of its problems. The reality from where I stand is somewhat different.

As of 12 October, official data shows there have been 400 claims lodged for compensation, starting back in the late 2017. Of these, 183 have been either partially or totally paid, leaving 217 waiting in the system. Of those that have been paid, MPI provides no data as to how many are partially paid and how many are total.

In the last four weeks, MPI has averaged 14 payments per week, with an average total weekly payment of around $1.1 million.   At that rate, it will take about four months to clear the existing backlog to get even partial payments. . . 

Massive leap forward for New Zealand sheep genetics:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has just launched a new $5 million genetic evaluation system – a transformative step for the country’s sheep industry.

B+LNZ Genetics General Manager Graham Alder says the new evaluation is the result of four years of research, developing new cloud-based computing systems and testing.

“It is based on Single Step technology, whereby genomic information is incorporated into the evaluation, alongside traditional genetic measures. The result is a faster, more accurate evaluation, which allows New Zealand ram breeders to make better, more-timely decisions around the selection and dissemination of profitable and consumer-focused genetics. . .

New NZ Young Farmers CEO plans North Island road trip to visit members:

NZ Young Farmers’ new chief executive will “couch surf” her way around the North Island next month.

Lynda Coppersmith has announced plans for a road trip to meet members in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and the Waikato.

She will also join 40 teachers on a Teachers’ Day Out event in Hawke’s Bay on November 6th. . . 

’Jaw dropping’ : New Zealand offers lessons in tackling climate change – Peter Hannam:

Scott Simpson, New Zealand’s National Party environment spokesman, stunned a trans-Tasman investment meeting last week by stating that climate action was “too important to be playing politics with”.

Or rather, it was the Australian delegates who were shocked, so used are they to the toxic debates in Canberra.

“It made my jaw drop, that’s for sure,” said Emma Herd, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change. . .


Rural round-up

September 2, 2018

Proving consultants were wrong – Neal Wallace:

Sheep farmers are enjoying a golden patch but it would be a challenge to find a more profitable breed than Merino-Romney halfbreds. That is a contrast to the last rites that were read to the mid micron sector by consultants 18 years ago. Neal Wallace meets some farmers who ignored those forecasts of impending doom and stayed loyal to halfbred sheep.

John Duncan confesses to never being a great meeting goer. 

One the Otago sheep and beef farmer recalls attending was in Ranfurly in about 2000 at which he was told there was no future for mid micron wool.

International consultants McKinsey had just released a report on how to improve wool grower profitability. Recommendations included dissolving the Wool Board and, alarmingly to owners of mid micron sheep such as Duncan, warning the fibre did not have a future. . . 

Westland weighs options – Hugh Stringleman:

Westland Milk Company’s 420 farmer-shareholders will have some options for capital structure to chew on at the co-operative’s annual meeting on December 5.

Chairman Pete Morrison said a report from a strategic review of the company being done by Macquarie Capital and DG Advisory will be available for shareholders.

The quest is to find a sustainable capital structure and competitive milk price. . . 

Virtual reality experiments in Rotorua could replace forestry field work – Samantha Olley:

The forestry industry has been experimenting with virtual reality in Rotorua this week to develop new ways of measuring tree growth.

The University of Tasmania and Interpine are carrying out the research, which is partially funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia.

The university’s Human Interface Technology Lab leader, Dr Winyu Chinthammit, said the experiments aimed to give skilled workers a safer and more efficient way to measure forests, using data from aerial LiDar scanners, rather than field work. . . 

Sheep-milking gets a hoof-hold in Waikato’s dairying’s heartland – Gerald Piddock:

The burgeoning sheep-milking industry has upped its stake in Waikato’s dairying heartland.

Two new farms will be ready to milk this season. Both are near Cambridge and are owned by Taupō-based Spring Sheep Milking Co, a joint venture between state-owned enterprise Pamu and marketing firm SLC Group.

Spring Sheep announced plans to establish the two farms in December and to grow sheep-milking from a handful of exporters to at least 60 farms by 2030. . . 

On the farm: a guide to rural New Zealand:

Do you know what’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Northland has had a fantastic winter. While the skies delivered two and a half times the normal amount of rain in June, July and August were extremely mild and farmers didn’t need to put on their wet weather gear nearly as often. Calving is all but finished so farmers are thinking ahead to mating and treating cows that had trouble calving so they’ll be in good shape for the next round. With the threat of Mycoplasma Bovis being transferred from farm to farm, farmers are being advised to lease bulls from credible sources.

In South Auckland, Pukekohe had a fine weekend but heavy rain fell on Wednesday leaving the ground too wet to be worked on. While the free irrigation is normally welcome, too much of a good thing is entirely another matter. Some crops are showing signs of diseases that flourish in wet conditions. Heavy supplies of broccoli continue to be hard to sell. . .

Pāmu lifts operating profits despite challenging climatic conditions

Pāmu (Landcorp Faming Limited) has announced EBITDAR (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization, and Revaluations) of $48.5 million for the year ended 30 June 2018 (FY18), up $12.9 million (36 percent) from the previous year. Net profit after tax was $34.2 million a reduction of $17.7 million (34 percent) largely due to lower gains from biological assets (forestry and livestock) and a higher tax expense.

Directors have declared a dividend of $5 million which will be paid on 15 October 2018. . . 

 UK could run out of food a year from now with no-deal Brexit, NFU warns – Lisa O’Carroll:

Britain would run out of food on this date next year if it cannot continue to easily import from the EU and elsewhere after Brexit, the National Farmers’ Union has warned.

Minette Batters, the NFU president, urged the government to put food security at the top of the political agenda after the prospect of a no-deal Brexit was talked up this week.

“The UK farming sector has the potential to be one of the most impacted sectors from a bad Brexit – a frictionless free trade deal with the EU and access to a reliable and competent workforce for farm businesses is critical to the future of the sector,” she said. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 8, 2018

Sheep milk gains to be tested by AgResearch:

AgReseach senior scientist Dr Linda Samuelsson says results of the trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human consumption should be available next year.

In what is believed to be a world first, AgResearch is about to begin a clinical trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human digestion.

The trial, which will see AgResearch scientists working alongside those at the Auckland University’s Liggins Institute, with support from Spring Sheep Milk Co in the central North Island and Blue River Dairy in Southland, comes at a time of rapid growth for the dairy sheep industry in New Zealand . . 

Portable footwear cleaning station to help stop farm contamination – Gerald Piddock:

A Waikato couple have created what they believe might be the world’s first portable biosecurity system for footwear.

The Jacson Cube, whose name is derived from its creators – husband and wife team Jacqui Humm​ and Russell Knutson​ – is a portable cleaning station that is small enough to fit in the back of a ute.

“It’s a step up from your bucket and brush particularly for those people travelling from farm to farm,” Humm said.

The system took two years to create, and Humm said it was her husband who came up with the idea. . .

Dairy farmer’s passion for goats:

Dunsandel farmer Michael Woodward may be Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy chairman but his real passion is the angora goats he inherited from his father John.

John Woodward, of Pukekohe, is a pioneer of the mohair industry: he set up its pool marketing system about 1982, is a board member of Mohair Producers NZ and now manages marketing of the North Island mohair clip.

Michael Woodward, meanwhile, is sharemilking on 300ha at Dunsandel with his wife Susie. . .

Hemp is not marijuana, it is a formidable vegetable, says social entrepreneur:

Social entrepreneur Michael Mayell is speaking out about the beneficial properties of hemp to help inform and inspire Kiwis to embrace new business opportunities around what he calls a ‘formidable vegetable’.

“Hemp is food, fibre and medicine. Hemp is cannabis without any of the psychoactive properties of its cousin marijuana and is fuelling an emerging market which is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors,” says Mayell, who started his food journey as founder of Cookie Time in 1983 and went on to found Nutrient Rescue, a social enterprise, in 2016 and the Drinkable Rivers in our Lifetime campaign. . .

Farmers encouraged to plan ahead by looking at green projects :

Farmers have been encouraged to plan ahead and look at green projects as the future of UK farming looks set to change.

Various grants and funding are on offer for farmers to encourage green growth, coupled with future government subsidies post-Brexit leaning towards environmental stewardship.

In recent debates regarding the future of farming subsidies, the government has strongly indicated that any future funding is likely to be based on farming practices that provide ‘public goods’. . . 

 

It’s time to “Join the Ag Revolution’ –

Agriculture is on the cusp of a revolution, with renewed enthusiasm fueling a transformation. 

Precision ag, increased production capabilities, and water-saving innovations are all reflective of an industry brimming with opportunity.

And now one of Australia’s rural heartlands is calling forth an agricultural army – a vibrant, skilled workforce to lead into the new age. 

‘Join the Ag Revolution’ is an initiative of Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA), created to showcase and promote rural industries, and the passionate people behind them. . .


Rural round-up

May 28, 2018

Dairy farmers are an easy target and not alone in environmental guilt– Lyn Webster:

 As a dairy farmer I hear a lot of criticism about the perceived environmental impact of farming animals on land, and this has made me extremely environmentally aware.

Everywhere I look I see the environmental impact of humans: people just moving around, eating, breathing and living their lives.

Every buying decision we make has an impact – whether it be food, clothes off the internet from China or an overseas trip. TV advertising incessantly tells us to buy more and more things to make us happy, to make our children happy and to tick off our bucket list.  

Big shops bring us zillions of dollar’s worth of colourful plastic shaped into seemingly desirable objects, many of which are discarded quickly in the shape of broken toys, cracked garden gnomes and punctured plastic swimming pools. . . 

Sharemilker protects his herd ahead of Gypsy Day – Gerald Piddock:

A nervous Calvin Lauridsen​ has done all he can to protect his prized dairy herd from Mycoplasma bovis ahead of next week’s Gypsy Day.

The Arapuni farmer is in the final stages of packing up and leaving the 138 hectare farm he and wife Nadine have 50:50 share milked with 440 cows for the past eight years.

All that is left on the farm are a few items of machinery and his dairy herd, which is being picked up on Monday , the same day Cabinet will make a final decision whether to try and eradicate the disease or shift to a management regime.

So far, the cattle disease has spread to 39 farms since July last year, including the latest addition of a dairy farm near Cambridge.  . .

There’s more risk on moving day – Hugh Stringleman:

Several hundred sharemilkers and their cows will move farms on Gypsy Day with extra time-consuming and costly animal health precautions because of Mycoplasma bovis.

The spread of at-risk properties shows precautions must be taken for cattle movements in all dairying regions of the country, DairyNZ extension general manager Andrew Reid said.

About 3000 of the nation’s 12,000 dairy farms have sharemilkers and the standard contract length is three years.

Therefore up to 1000 herds could move at the end of the season though more likely several hundred will move on June 1, Reid said. . .

Former Fonterra director calls for chair Wilson to resign – Jamiie  Grey:

A former director of Fonterra has called on chairman John Wilson to “move on” after what he said was the co-operative’s ongoing underperformance.

Fonterra this week issued its nine-month business update which featured a strong farmgate milk price but which also highlighted a downward pressure on the company’s earnings.

Taranaki-based Harry Bayliss, a founding director who served on the board from 2001 to 2006, sent an email to existing board members on March 31 calling for Wilson to step down. A spokesman for Fonterra said it had no comment to make. . . 

Getting the good oil in Central – Yvonne O’Hara:

This season’s long summer has resulted in a bumper harvest for olive growers in Central Otago.

Lowburn’s Stephen Morris, his wife Olivia and his in-laws Alistair and Sue Stark own Olive Press Central Otago (Opco) on the family’s vineyard, St Bathans Range, near Cromwell.

Mr Morris has been busy during the past three weeks cold-processing olives to produce extra virgin olive oil,

The good summer has meant the fruit produces more oil with a better flavour, and promises to be one of the best they have had. . . 

Droving journey highlights ongoing drought in Queensland – Sally Cripps:

When Jodie Muntelwit and PJ Elliott decided to put 1200 head of their cattle on the road last October, they imagined it would only be for a month or two.

Eight months later, the mob of mostly weaners, under the care of Ned Elmy, an offsider and Ned’s 18 dogs, is trudging towards home at Corfield, living on hope and whatever Queensland’s stock routes can offer.

The season didn’t give PJ and Jodie the break they’d hoped for on their country north of Winton last summer, and the 150mm single fall in March at Weeba and Enryb Downs brought a half-hearted pasture response from most of their paddocks. . . 


Rural round-up

May 26, 2018

Waikato farmer reveals his farm first in the region to get Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease – Gerald Piddock:

Henk Smit has come forward as the Waikato dairy farmer whose herd has tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

Smit walked up to the stage and put his hand up during a meeting attended by close to 600 farmers at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre near Cambridge.

He outlined how the cattle disease arrived on his farm and his frustrations with dealing with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Smit has farming interests in three properties around Waikato including the dairy farm that tested positive for M bovis. . .

Good clearance at online sale – Alan Williams:

About 96% of the wool offered in the first Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) online auction was sold.

Indications are the sale was in line with the improving tone in wool prices at the latest open-cry auctions.

Six sellers provided lots for sale and a good cross-section of New Zealand’s major wool buyers were bidding online for the 1525 bales offered on May 22, Wools of NZ chief executive Rosstan Mazey said. . .

Performing as a co-op should – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra gets a pass mark from industry observers for its performance as a co-operatively-owned business.

But they warn it cannot rest on its laurels given challenges connecting with 10,500 owners and plans for further investment in added-value and consumer products.

Fonterra Shareholder’s Council chairman Duncan Coull said Fonterra has performed as a co-operative should. It is owned and democratically controlled by members, it serves its members, returns surpluses to members and strives to operate profitably. . .

Fonterra approach farmes to switch from WMP – Brendon McMahon:

Fonterra has again approached Westland Milk Products suppliers to switch loyalties with the promise of better returns.

The West Coast Federated Farmers annual general meeting in Greymouth this week heard that Westland suppliers from Inchbonnie and Rotomanu in the south and Springs Junction in the north, were being courted by the country’s largest dairy co-operative, which has a massive milk powder factory at Darfield.

Fonterra scouts were on the West Coast several years ago, but at that time few local farmers were tempted. . . 

STRESS removes headache for hill country farmers:

Taranaki farmer Roger Pearce is confident he’s hit a good formula allowing him to make a successful living in the eastern Taranaki hillcountry without bringing nature’s wrath on himself.

…or indeed a wrath on the communities and farms all the way down to the sea.

He’s tapped into the South Taranaki and Regional Erosion Support Scheme (STRESS) to allow him to reap more of the potential of his 2000ha Waitōtara Valley property – while ensuring its soil does not erode into waterways where it degrades water quality and heightens the risk of downstream flooding. . .

Australian milk production up 3.5%

Australian milk production to the end of April is up 3.5 per cent on the same time last year, according to the latest figures from Dairy Australia.

The figures reveal April production was up 4.5 per cent compared with last year, with increases in all states except Queensland.

Tasmania led the growth with production up 19.6 per cent for April, followed by South Australia, where production was up 8.6 per cent. . .


Rural round-up

May 23, 2018

All you need to know about Mycoplasma bovis:

As the Mycoplasma bovis disease spreads, here is everything you need to know.

What is Mycoplasma bovis?

It’s a bacteria that can cause diseases in cattle. It can cause untreatable mastitis, abortions, pneumonia and arthritis.

How is it spread?

It’s spread from animal to animal through close contact and bodily fluids. Calves can be infected through drinking milk from infected cows. Farm equipment can play a role in spreading the disease. It’s spread between farms through the movement of cattle.

Can it be spread to other animals?

Other animals are very unlikely to be infected by the disease.

Had it been found in New Zealand previously?

No. The original July 2017 detection was the first time the disease had been found in New Zealand. . .  

A timeline of the Mycoplasma bovis spread around New Zealand :

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is spreading around New Zealand farms at a rate much faster than previously thought. RNZ maps out the spread of the virus over time.

July 2017 – Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) responds to the detection of Mycoplasma bovis on a dairy farm near Oamaru. The farm, part of the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG), is put under legal controls to restrict movement of stock and other at-risk goods. Other farms in the group are also put under controls.

July 31, 2017 – A second farm in the VLDG is confirmed to have the disease.

August 2017 – Testing begins on farms bordering VLDG properties.

August 2017 – Four more properties test positive, bringing the total number of infected farms to six. . .

Farmer’s determination pays off – Sally Rae:

When Logan Wallace returned home to take over the family sheep farm in South Otago, he had a big task to take on.

He set some goals, including making sure he farmed sustainably, meeting both the environmental requirements of councils and expectations of consumers.

The young farmer’s determination and ability has already paid off. He and his parents, Ross and Alexa, were this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Award winners and he will also represent Otago-Southland in the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest in Invercargill in July. . . 

Merino and natural fibres could help clothing companies battle scourge of microplastics – Jess Cartwright:

Microplastics are one of the biggest threats to oceans and synthetic textiles are a huge contributor to the problem, but now a New Zealand company is hoping to lead change by promoting the use of natural fibres like merino wool.

The issue of microbeads in beauty products is well known, but tiny plastic fibres from clothing are an even bigger issue for oceans and marine life.

For example, each time people wash their synthetic clothing these microplastic fibres break off and, because they’re so tiny, they’re then carried into rivers and eventually oceans. . .

From a ‘nasty little wet farm’ to an award-winning dairy property – Gerald Piddock:

Sandra McKinnon always remembers the unflattering description made of the farm she and husband Rob bought in 1992.

The 44 hectare property near Matamata was unkindly called by an industry colleague: “A nasty little wet farm and what did we think we were doing buying it.”

She admits it had little going for it at the time. But it did have a a stream and native bush and that was enough.

“It’s an ex-ballot farm, it hadn’t had a lot of work done to it,” she says. . . 

Farmer’s mid-life crisis results in buying a rare sheep breed – Peter McDonald:

 “Honey, I’ve just bought a sheep stud.”

That’s what I said as I put the phone down. I joke that I will just have to throw this one in the bucket with all my other mid-life crisis, although this is starting to wear a bit thin I’m told, as mid-life is well and truly in my rear vision mirror.

The ryeland is classified as a rare sheep breed in New Zealand with about six to seven mostly small flocks scattered throughout the country. Some could say they are a breed that time forgot, their popularity peaked in Great Britain in the 1800s and here through the 1960s.

To give you an idea of their long history as a breed it was reported that Queen Elizabeth requested before the onset of winter that stockings be knitted especially for her from ryeland wool, now this is not the current Queen Elizabeth this story refers to Queen Elizabeth the first who ruled from 1558-1603. . . 

EU co-funded Armenia wool value chain project kicks off in Shirak Province

Within the framework of the European Union (EU) Days in Armenia, Minister of Territorial Administration and Development Suren Papikyan on Sunday attended the official start of the EU co-funded EU4 Shirak: Wool for Jobs project, in Amasia rural community of the Shirak province.

Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, Head of the Delegation of the EU to Armenia, also was on hand at this event, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development informed Armenian News-NEWS.am. . . 


Rural round-up

May 14, 2018

Fewer cows no easy task – ODT editorial:

Environment Minister David Parker is continuing his campaign to clean up New Zealand’s waterways.

It is not as though New Zealand has not had plenty of warning. In June last year, Mr Parker made the point of saying Labour would make it tougher for farms to intensify operations under a 12-point freshwater policy.

The party’s policy sought to crack down harder on polluters, make all rivers and lakes swimmable, and extend freshwater quality standards.

At the weekend, Mr Parker indicated he wants fewer cows per hectare because the number now is higher than the environment can sustain. . . 

Budget day the benchmark for judging Government’s C+ performance in regions- Gerald Piddock:

 Six months have passed since the new Government has taken office and made a vast array of decisions negatively impacting on provincial New Zealand and in turn, farmers.

The list is depressingly long: The ban on offshore oil and gas exploration in Taranaki, the end of government money for irrigation, the loss of air ambulances in Rotorua, Taupo and Te Anau, the refusal to give $600,000 funding to the Rural Health Alliance, regional fuel taxes and just recently David Parker talking up the prospect of nutrient limits – effectively a cap on stock numbers.

The devil will be in the detail on the latter, but on the surface, Parker’s aims appear similar to what most regional councils are putting in place around the country anyway.

Topping it all off are the ballooning costs of biosecurity issues and the likelihood of agriculture coming into the Emissions Trading Scheme.  Labour will also almost certainly be campaigning for a water tax in the 2020 election . . 

Farmers are spooked – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers are spooked and they have every right to be.

We have a Prime Minister describing climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment”; and a Climate Change Minister who not only happens to co-lead the Greens but who sees climate change “as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent parts of our economy and society for the better”.

And this new Labour-Greens-NZ First Government is forthright in its green-leaning tendencies and policies.

Last month, in a historic move, it announced that no new exploration permits for offshore oil and gas fields will be issued, in support of its commitment to action on climate change. . . 

Inaugural Winners of New National Dairy Award Announced:

The inaugural winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award are considered leaders within the dairy industry, in all areas of sustainability, business and farm management, as well as in the way they give back to the industry and community.

Edward (Wynn) and Tracy Brown own a 320ha 700-cow farm near Matamata, with a further 30ha leased from their neighbour. Their property bears the name “Tiroroa”, which means ‘extensive view’ or ‘view to the future’.

“Our aim is to run an economically and environmentally sustainable dairy farming business maximising production while minimizing footprint,” say the couple. “We like to take the meaning of Tiroroa into consideration with all our decision-making. . . 

Daily milk urea readings could help tackle N in urine:

New Zealand’s 4.8 million milking cows excrete 1000 tonnes of nitrogen a day in their urine, and 200 tonnes of this end up in groundwater, says CRV Ambreed.

The company says it calculated the daily numbers using existing data related to milk urea concentration in daily bulk milk reports.

Farmers could be using the milk urea concentration (MU) value on their daily bulk milk reports to calculate the amount of nitrogen their herd is excreting in urine and take steps to address that, says Phil Beatson, the company’s head of R&D. . .

‘Wool Shed’ about inspiring – Nicole Sharp:

Teenagers will be encouraged to come up with ways to use wool creatively in a bid to have them take up the torch as ”Generation Wool”.

Campaign for Wool board member and former chairman Craig Smith officially opened the South Island’s new ”wool shed” in Riverton recently, but it is no normal wool shed.

Accompanied by Wool in Schools project manager Vicki Linstrom and PGG Wrightson Wool general manager Grant Edwards, the ”wool shed,” an education resource, initiated by the Campaign for Wool, was delivered to its first stop at Aparima College . . 

Southern goat group formed – Yvonne O’Hara:

Whitestone Boer Goat Stud owners Owen and Annette Booth formed the goat farmers and breeders’ Southern Goat Group following a wet field day on their Milton property on April 28.

Mr Booth is the chairman and Kaaren Wilkes, of Chatto Creek, is the secretary.

Mr Booth said the heavy rain contributed to lower than expected numbers attending.

”We had about 12 people there,” he said.

”They came from Duntroon, Alexandra, Peninsula and Brighton.

”We formed the group and got things under way.” . . 

No kidding! Newborns blamed for shortage of goat milk – Belle Puri:

The herd of goats on a Fraser Valley farm is kidding, but the farmer isn’t when it comes to a recent shortage of certified organic goat milk.

An explosion of newborn goats or “kids” has put a dent in the production line at Farm House Natural Cheeses in Agassiz, B.C.

The kids get first access to doe milk before any of it can be used to make products for human consumption, said Farm House office manager Dana Dinn. . .


Rural round-up

May 4, 2018

Irrigation not an environmental irritation – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Irrigation can reduce soil erosion.

Of course, the irrigation has to be carefully managed and precision technologies are part of the management. However, there is no doubt that overcoming any drought period during warm temperatures allows increased pasture growth, which is associated with maintenance or an increase in organic matter, which in turn decreases the likelihood of erosion. 

Any increased income resulting from the harvesting of extra pasture or crop can be invested in more environmentally sound technologies. . .

Government-owned farmed tests positive for Mycoplasma bovis – Gerald Piddock:

Landcorp’s Rangesdale Station has been confirmed as testing positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

The sheep and beef property near Pahiatua in North Wairarapa was confirmed as having the cattle disease by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Landcorp (Pamu) spokesman Simon King confirmed the farm had tested positive for the disease and was working with MPI and local veterinary services and were currently culling the impacted herd.

“We had been in touch with neighbouring properties to advise them of the potential that the farm was infected last week, and we held a community meeting on Wednesday to update our neighbours on the situation and the actions Pāmu (Landcorp) is taking. . .

Gathering data on hill country potential, risks – Mark Adams:

Federated Farmers is backing a research project now underway to better understand hill country development practices.  

The end goal is to create a decision tool to aid farmers as they weigh up the benefits, costs and environmental risks of development of their hill country blocks.

Farmers from Canterbury and Manawatu have already shared their experiences on this topic during anonymous interviews conducted by research company UMR.  The next stage of the project, commissioned by Environment Canterbury and supported by Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers (South Canterbury), involves detailed telephone surveys of 150 farmers in the two provinces. . .

No significant drop in rabbits seen yet – Hamish MacLean:

Counts to establish whether the new strain of rabbit calicivirus has taken hold will begin next week, but Otago landowners expecting to see dramatic drops in rabbit numbers could be in for a wait.

When the impending release of 100 doses of a Korean strain of rabbit calicivirus was announced in March, the Otago Regional Council said the pest population could be cut by up to 40%.

Now farmers are saying they have seen no evidence of the impact of the virus.

Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said post-virus release night counts would begin next week but a potential 40% decrease in numbers of the pest would take time. . .

Eighty per cent of farmers aren’t employing technology to be productive in the 21st century – Pat Deavoll:

A red meat industry group discovered in 2011 that high performing sheep farmers earned more than twice as much for their red meat per hectare of land than lower performing ones,

Furthermore, they produced more than double the amount of lamb per hectare. Why? For many reasons, the group concluded.

Farmers in the lower echelons of productivity were notoriously poor at embracing technology. They also failed to integrate with management systems, failed to connect with their banks, processors and advisors, did not employ measurement and benchmarking strategies, and were terrible at budgeting. An estimated five per cent of sheep and beef farmers used an adequate budget, but 65 per cent didn’t bother with a budget at all. . . .

Agricultural sustainability in a water-challenged year – Roberto A. Peiretti:

I strive for excellence on my farm in Argentina—but this year, I’m delighted to be average.

As we bring in our corn and soybeans this month—remember, our seasons are reversed here in the southern hemisphere—we have no right to expect much of a harvest. This cropping season, our rainfall was far below regular levels. Our plants didn’t receive as much water as they need to flourish as well as they can.

Rather than suffering a catastrophe, however, we’re doing just fine: We’ll enjoy an ordinary harvest.

That’s because right now, our soil never has been healthier. We owe it all to a vision of sustainable farming that is astonishing in its simplicity even as it depends on agriculture’s latest technologies. . . .

 

It’s not #sauvblanc day without #nzwine:

On Friday 4 May New Zealand Winegrowers is ready to celebrate what is shaping up to be most successful International Sauvignon Blanc day yet, with an online digital campaign reaching over 50 million impressions via the hashtags #nzwine and #sauvblanc.

“This is on track to be the biggest social media campaign NZ wine has ever been involved in and it is fitting that it is around Sauvignon Blanc Day – New Zealand’s most exported wine varietal,” says Chris Yorke, Global Marketing Director at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2018

Land use tipped to change on Waimea Plains, near Nelson, if dam gets nod – Cherie Sivignon:

Waimea Irrigators Ltd chairman Murray King is putting his money where his mouth is to support the proposed Waimea dam.

The dairy farmer and long-term proponent of the dam project said he had committed to buy more water shares, at $5500 a pop, than he needed for his 57ha block of land on the Waimea Plains.

“We’re fully subscribed, a little bit over actually.”

His “60-something” shares would cost him more than $300,000. . .

Retaining soil carbon the answer to managing agricultural GHG emissions – Gerald Piddock:

A Matamata dairy farm has become ground zero for a team of Waikato scientists searching for ways to lower agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Soil carbon and nitrous oxide losses are being measured on the 200 hectare farm owned by Terry and Margaret Troughton and managed by their son Ben and wife Sarah.

Their findings so far in a project funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre were outlined at a field day on the farm.

Better pasture management, genetics, feed and nutrition had been done well, but new strategies were needed to take the project the next step forward, Landcare Research’s Jack Pronger​ said. . . 

Farmers give thumbs down to new taxes:

Any move to introduce a capital gains, land or environment tax will meet stiff opposition from farmers, a Federated Farmers survey shows.

The Federation asked its members for their views last month, to help inform the farmer group’s submission to the Tax Working Group. The nearly 1,400 responses indicated strong opposition to some of the new taxes that have been suggested.

Just on 81 percent opposed a capital gains tax excluding the family home, with 11 percent in support. However, 47 percent would support a CGT on property sold within a five year ‘bright line’ test. There is currently a two-year threshold, and the measure is seen by some as a way of discouraging speculators. . . 

NZ farm sales fall 11% in March quarter as mycoplasma bovis keeps farmers nervous –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farm sales fell 11 percent in the March quarter from a year earlier, as the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease outbreak weighed on purchasing intentions and spanned a period where smaller plots of rural land were captured by the regime to screen foreign buyers.

Some 388 farms were sold at a median price of $27,428 per hectare in the three months ended March 31, down from 438 farms at a median price of $27,509/ha in 2017, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show. Fewer dairy and grazing farms accounted for the drop, with gains in finishing farm sales coinciding with strong prices for beef and lamb meat. . . 

Calm ewes produce more than nervous ewes:

A calm temperament in ewes improves ovulation rate and successful pregnancies, according to a study published by The University of Western Australia.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with researchers from Uruguay, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA and UWA, has implications for the impact of stress in human reproduction.

The team investigated the reproductive outcomes of 200 Merino ewes known to have either a calm or a nervous temperament. They found the ovulation rate and rate of successful pregnancies to be higher in the calm ewes. . .

Shearing at the end of the world –  Tomas Munita and Russell Goldman:

Life at the end of the world can be lonely.

For weeks at a time, Roberto Bitsch and gauchos like him might not see another human being. They see horses, both wild and tame. They see the dogs they work with. But mostly, they see sheep — thousands of them.

Locals mark time by the length of the sheep’s woolly coats here on Isla Grande, the largest of the Tierra del Fuego islands at the tip of South America, closer to Antarctica than to Chile’s capital, Santiago. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 14, 2018

Irrigation essential for Central Otago – Brittany Pickett:

New technology to help improve water use and efficiency will be essential for the future of horticulture and agriculture in Central Otago, IrrigationNZ says.

“What we’re seeing is a gradual move towards higher and higher land value uses of irrigation,” IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said.

Cherry and other pip fruit businesses, as well as wine, were expected to expand because they used less water per hectare than other farming types, he said.

New technology to assist irrigators meet water quality requirements will be on display at IrrigationNZ’s conference on April 17-19 in Alexandra. . . 

Clock ticking for farm houses to comply with new laws for insulation – Gerald Piddock:

Farm owners have been warned to make sure their staff accommodation complies with new laws coming into effect in July next year.

The laws will insist that all rental properties, including farm housing, had to meet new standards for insulation.

There was a myth among farmers that they were excluded from the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), Morrinsville lawyer Jacqui Owen told farmers at a field day near Walton run by the Matamata Piako Three Rivers Trust.

“You 100 per cent are and any one of your staff can file a claim against you with the tenancy tribunal,” she said. . .

Labour shortage could spoil apple season :

A bumper crop of Hawke’s Bay apples is being harvested early this year but there are fears a labour shortage could spoil things – leaving thousands of apples unpicked.

A spokeswoman for Bostock said the company was usually behind conventional packing but this year was 10 days ahead of schedule since they started the harvest.

“We have a good quality product at present, it’s going to be a bumper season. We should be picking 1400 bins a day but we are picking only 1200 and that’s purely because of the labour shortage. . . 

Record crowds see games records :

More than 30,000 people participated in Hilux Rural Games activities in Palmerston North over the weekend.

Rural Games Trust chairwoman Margaret Kouvelis said “It was so fantastic to see people of all ages trying out different things from tree climbing to digger driving to gumboot throwing.

“Friday was fabulous for Feilding as thousands attended the Property Brokers Running of the Wools and that evening the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards were held in front of a sell-out crowd.” . .

Little farmer reaction to LIC plan – Alan Williams:

Owners of LIC’s co-operative shares are being urged to read the information on the directors’ plans for a share restructure to see what the impact on them will be.

The call from Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird applies especially to dairy farmers who own only the co-op shares and not the NZAX-listed investment shares. . . 

Don’t make it hard for next generation– Dan Korff:

Every generation says the same thing, or something similar: “That’s how it is, we had to go through the same thing”.

Why? Why is that just how it is? Who decided? And why would you want other people to keep feeling the same frustration and annoyance you felt?

I’m talking about the challenge of trying to become involved in local or industry committees or groups trying to remain relevant, get new energy into them or attract a new crowd of people back to the cause or event. . . .


Rural round-up

March 4, 2018

Meat sector aiming high – Neal Wallace:

A national brand for meat supported by a story detailing New Zealand farming practices will be released within the next few months to spearhead the sector’s response to the growth of competing artificial protein.

A just-released study on the threat of alternative protein to NZ’s red meat sector commissioned by Beef + Lamb NZ identifies beef in our largest market, the United States, as most at risk from the growth of artificial protein.

It warns plant-based burgers and mince will likely be widely available throughout the US within five years and China in 10 years, potentially targeting the grinding beef market. . .

A2 Milk executives cash out of surging shares with combined $36.6 mln payday – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co executives have enjoyed a combined $36.6 million payday after cashing in on a surging share price since the milk marketer’s announcement last week that first-half profit more than doubled and it had inked a deal with Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Share sales over the four days following the Feb. 21 announcement included $18.5 million sold by departing chief executive Geoff Babidge, who hands over the reins to Jetstar chief Jayne Hrdlicka this year. . . 

Farmers’ stress over cattle disease: ‘We hope we will survive this onslaught – Gerald Piddock:

The distress of battling Mycoplasma bovis and trying to keep a multimillion-dollar farm business has been laid to bare in emails between the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLG) and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The strain VLG owners Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen were under as they battle to eradicate the cattle disease while saving their farm business during, at times, a tense relationship with the MPI was shown in the release of more than 250 pages of documents released under the Official Information Act to Stuff.

Parts of the documents were heavily redacted for privacy or commercial reasons. . . 

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q1 2018: Impact of Trade Agreements and Blockchain Technology:

A number of trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a proposed Mercosur/EU trade agreement, look set to start having an impact on global beef trade in 2018. At the same time, applications of blockchain technology are now being widely developed in the food industry, with opportunities to realise benefits further up the supply chain growing, according to the RaboResearch Beef Quarterly Q1 2018.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
The 11-member version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looks set for formal signing in March (although respective governments need to sign off on the details before implementation). Gains are expected for beef-exporting countries Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada—through reduced tariffs into key global beef importer Japan, plus reduced tariffs into smaller importing countries Chile, Vietnam, and Peru. . . 

Empowering rural women:

Farming Women Tairawhiti (FWT) has taken off since it was founded in 2014. Chairwoman Sandra Matthews from Te Kopae Station at Rere tells the Weekender about her role in the organisation and the support avaliable for women who want to achieve more in their farming businesses.

In resource terms, Rere farmer and Farming Women Tairawhiti (FWT) chairwoman Sandra Matthews has struck personal gold while the organisation has grown exponentially.

The Gisborne farmer has helped empower farming women in this region, tapping into an often under-utilised pool of talent that sits within New Zealand’s farming communities. . .

Winning share farmers love the thrill:

The Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year say entering the competition has been excellent for networking, growth and knowledge of their business.

“It’s been a huge benefit to receive feedback from the judges on ways we can improve our business. Plus we love the thrill of the competition,” say Thomas and Jennifer Read.

The region’s other major winners are Gerard Boerjan, the Dairy Manager of the Year, and Brock Cumming, the Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

February 26, 2018

UK expert who identifies Mycoplasma bovis says farmer records of herds must improve – Gerald Piddock:

Richard Laven​ was in his office at Massey University in June last year when a South Island veterinarian called him, asking for advice on sick cows.

The cows had just calved and the veterinarian told the associate professor of animal health that they were suffering from mastitis and lameness and not responding to treatment.

Laven told the veterinarian it was the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and advised they must ring the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

Staffing, fall in optimism top farmer issues – Sally Brooker:

Farmer optimism has fallen for the first time in two years, the latest Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Releasing the findings of its mid-season survey last Thursday, Federated Farmers said the stand-out features were a marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about being able to recruit suitable staff.

The survey is commissioned by the federation and conducted by Research First in January and July each year. January’s responses came from 1070 farmers.

They included negative views of the economy and of farm profitability, production and spending. Debt levels had increased and fewer farms were debt-free. . . 

Immigration advisory workshop coming up:

Migrants across the rural sector will get a chance to learn about new immigration policy next month.

An immigration advisory workshop is planned for March 7, with the aim of benefiting people in the Waimate, Kurow and Morven areas.

The workshop will be attended by immigration adviser Jojan McLeod, of Immigration Waitaki, who will share her knowledge and advice.

Among the new immigration policy was a change to the minimum hourly rate for someone defined as a skilled worker.

That rate increased on January 15 to $20.65 per hour, which was an increase of 68c an hour. . . 

First Young Farmer contest for Wellington city – Alexa Cook:

A couple of hundred farmers have taken over Crawford Green in Wellington today for a Young Farmer competition, the first to ever be held in the capital.

It’s the Tarananki/Manawatu Young Farmer Regional Final, and the winner from today will go through to the grand final.

The eight contestants, who each came first or second at their district contest, had an exam on Friday night, then today are being put through their paces on Miramar’s Crawford Green, and this evening will also have to perform well in a quiz. . . 

Winner eyes field agronomy role – Annette Scott:

Canterbury young farmer Justin Inwood has won the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association’s annual scholarship.

Open to students studying in the agricultural field at Lincoln or Massey Universities, this year the organisation was swamped with applications.

The scholarship, which started in 2011, got just two applications from each institution in its first year. . . 

Farm to table: how blockchain technology will change the way you eat – Larry Myler:

Forget about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for a minute. The underlying technology is what I’m interested in. Blockchain is working its way into all aspects of B2B commerce, including our food chain.

Here’s the why and how of this latest expression of a technology that is bringing massive change, and benefit, to yet another industry.

According to the World Health Organization, 10% of us fall ill with a food-borne disease each year. Most of these diseases aren’t hard to prevent, but without clear and consistent oversight they remain prevalent. With the meteoric rise of the blockchain phenomenon, food commerce will soon get the shakeup it needs. . .

The wool Press: Tim Brown – Claire Inkson:

The Wool Press: Where we shine the spotlight on a Wool Product or Producer to celebrate wool as an environmentally friendly, innovative, humane and versatile natural fibre of now and the future. Today we talk to Tim Brown, former captain of the All Whites and founder of the worlds most comfortable shoes, Allbirds : The hugely popular runners and loungers made from New Zealand Merino.

1. What made you choose NZ Merino as a textile when you created All Birds?

We wanted to create the world’s most comfortable shoe so it made sense that we would use the world’s finest fibre to achieve that goal. In NZ Merino and their ZQ certification, we found a partner that is the gold standard in the delivery of sustainable and ethically sourced merino and we haven’t looked back since. . .

Wool is cool again and the prices are shear madness – Lucy Craymer:

Wool isn’t just for winter wear anymore, and its use in everything from shoes to underwear briefs is pushing prices of merino, the most popular type of wool fiber for clothes, to near-record highs.

Wool sneakers popular in Silicon Valley from startup Allbirds Inc. helped kick off a global trend. Brands from Adidas to Lululemon and Under Armour are selling wool apparel, touting the fiber’s soft feel and odor-resisting properties. Merino wool, named for a breed of sheep, is even being woven into shorts, tank tops and short-sleeve T-shirts.

Demand has helped drive up merino wool prices at a time when the sheep population in Australia and New Zealand, the world’s largest wool exporters, is near a 100-year low. Many sheep farmers here invested in converting their operations to dairy farming or higher-yielding crops after prices of wool collapsed in the 1990s. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 18, 2018

Are you bogged mate? – Mary O’Brien Rural:

I spend a lot of time raising awareness about spray drift but recent events have compelled me to talk about something that disturbs me even more than spray drift.

I have spent my whole life working in rural and remote Australia and always around country blokes; working with them, for them, and beside them. My father was one, my brother is one, and most of my dearest friends are country blokes. I have always worked in male dominated occupations and that certainly doesn’t make me special but I believe it has given me a good understanding of rural men and it has definitely given me a deep and profound respect for them.

So when I see country blokes facing challenges like never before, I need to say something because I know none of them will. I’m talking about rural men’s mental health and more specifically, rural male suicide. Yes, that mongrel black dog that sneaks in when you least expect it, grabs all of your rational thoughts, buries them somewhere you can’t find them, and without you or those close to you noticing, it gradually pulls you into a hole, a bog hole. . . 

Taupo Beef and Lamb starts exporting its meat range to Japanese supermarkets – Gerald Piddock:

Taupo Beef and Lamb has begun exporting its meat range to Japan.

The company, established by farmers Mike and Sharon Barton, sent the first container load of product in December which went on sale at five high end supermarkets east of Tokyo in mid-January.

The response from shoppers so far had been great, said Mike Barton at a field day at Onetai Station.. . 

NZ Ireland collaboration confirmed – Nicole Sharp:

Similarities between Ireland and New Zealand are leading to collaborations on research and development in the dairy industry.

Southland dairy farmers Tim Driscoll and Tony Miles travelled to Ireland recently with DairyNZ research and development general manager David McCall and AgResearch scientist Jane Chrystal.

The aim of the visit, which had funding from the two organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries, was to cement the collaboration between the two countries.

Mr Driscoll said both countries were similar in climate which made them ideal for comparisons in research and development.

Mr Driscoll and Mr Miles, both trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, wanted to make sure the Southern Dairy Hub was a part of the ongoing collaboration. . . 

Climate work ramping up:

With climate change champions, partnership farms and greenhouse gas roadshows in the pipeline, the Dairy Action for Climate Change is accelerating its work in 2018. Here are some details from DairyNZ senior policy advisor Kara Lok and developer Nick Tait.

The aim of the Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC), launched in June last year, was for the dairy sector to proactively take action to mitigate against agricultural emissions. This initiative, by DairyNZ and Fonterra, has come at a time when it is increasingly imperative for the dairy sector to take leadership on such challenges.

At a climate conference in Germany late last year, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said New Zealand would be a world leader on climate change. The Government is looking to have the Zero Carbon Act in force by the middle of this year, which will enforce a net zero emissions target by 2050, and set up an independent Climate Change Commission that will decide whether agriculture should enter the Emissions Trading Scheme. Regardless of the outcome, it has never been more important for the dairy sector to take action on agricultural emissions. . . 

Plenty more lambing seasons in store – Yvonne O’Hara:

Even though he is 82, John Benington recently completed 57 consecutive lambing seasons. And he is intending to add to that number.

He still helps son Jamie on the family farm, Craigellachie Downs, near Beaumont, when needed, and he and wife Anne have their own smaller unit, near Lawrence.

Mr Benington is the third generation to live in the area.

”I was born and bred in Lawrence,” he said. . . 

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Put that baler twine back in your pocket son, this fence is beyond fixing, said no farmer ever.

Decisive action on Brown Marmorated Stink Bug necessary:

New Zealand Winegrowers applauds the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) decisive action in turning back three cargo vessels contaminated with Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB).

BMSB is one of the wine industry’s most significant biosecurity risks due to the insects’ potential to impact on both the production and quality of processed red wine.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says a BMSB incursion would significantly affect the wine industry’s ongoing export success. . .


Rural round-up

January 30, 2018

Maui Milk develop world first in sheep milking genetics – Gerald Piddock:

A new crossbred sheep being developed for the ovine milking industry by Maui Milk is thought to be a world first for sheep genetics.

Called Southern Cross, it is a mix of east friesian, awassi and lacaune – all prominent Northern Hemisphere sheep milking breeds – and is built off a coopworth base.

Maui Milk general manager Peter Gatley​ said the breed would provide hybrid vigour and, over time, would hopefully become the sheep equivalent of the kiwicross cow, which was now the most popular choice of cow used in the dairy industry. . . 

From casual to full-time – hard work pays off for Southland farmer – Brittany Pickett:

Brooke Bryson always knew she wanted to be a farmer.

When an opportunity to work as a casual employee at AgResearch’s Woodlands Research Farm came up she joined the team and eight years later she’s running the show.

Bryson, 29, is the farm manager for the 240-hectare farm just outside the Woodlands township, which among other research is the home to the Woodlands Central Progeny Test and the genetically-linked Woodlands Coopworth Progeny Test facilities. “My family farms. All my family farms.” . . 

Study probes clothing and carpet choices and effects on our oceans:

As global concern grows about pollution of our oceans and effects on marine life and seafood, AgResearch is studying how different materials break down in the water to help keep consumers informed.

Studies indicate that microfibres (up to 5mm in size) are entering the oceans in large quantities – particularly from clothing and other materials in washing machines, where the tiny fibres can come loose and travel with the water into the drain, and ultimately to ocean outfalls. More evidence is also required for microfibres from interior textiles like carpets, bedding and other products that are cleaned less often. . . 

Fashion foods:

For the past 30 years orchardists Bill and Erica Lynch of Fashion Foods have been searching for the ‘missing link’ in their apple breeding program. Finally they have found the variety they’re looking for, and it has a sister!

While the past two decades have been spent passionately looking for an apple with the commercial appeal of Royal Gala but with the flavour profile of its ancestor Heritage Gala, Bill admits that they really only became orchardists by accident.

“Both Erica and I started our careers in the corporate world around Wellington and Taranaki but after having our three children we set our minds to pursuing sheep farming in the Nelson/Tasman region,” Bill said. “We found it difficult to secure an appropriate ‘pathway’ property so in 1979 we ended up purchasing an apple orchard with the intention to develop it and run breeding ewes. . . 

NAFTA is our lifeline – Terry Wanzek:

“NAFTA is a bad joke,” wrote President Trump last week on Twitter.

For me and countless other farmers, however, the possible death of NAFTA is no laughing matter.

Instead, NAFTA is our lifeline.

Here in rural North Dakota—in what we might call “Trump Country”—our livelihoods depend on our ability to sell what we grow to customers in Canada and Mexico.

So as the president’s trade diplomats continue their NAFTA negotiations in Montreal this week—in what the Wall Street Journal says “could be a make-or-break round of talks”—I hope they have a proper understanding of how much we count on this trade agreement. . . 

 

Bill Gates is funding genetic research into how to create the perfect cow – Alexandra Ma:

  • Bill Gates wants to create the perfect cow.
  • This cow would produce as much milk as a European cow but withstand heat as well as an African one.
  • He has invested $US40 million into a British nonprofit that researches animal vaccinations and genetics.

Bill Gates has funded genetic research into how to create the perfect cow – one that will produce more milk and be able to withstand temperatures beyond that of the average cow.

The Microsoft founder has invested $US40 million (£28 million) in the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines, or GALVmed, a nonprofit organisation based in Edinburgh, Scotland, that conducts research into livestock vaccinations and genetics, the BBC reported.

Gates wants to help create the perfect cow that will produce as much milk as a European cow but be able to withstand heat as well as an African cow, according to the Times newspaper. . . 


Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.

 


Rural round-up

December 11, 2017

Once a day switch reaps benefit in intensive farming system – Gerald Piddock:

Dave Swney’s decision to switch his younger cows to once a day (OAD) milking has paid dividends with better animal health and reproductive performance.

The contract milker decided this year to put his younger cow herd on OAD immediately after calving to try and reduce lameness, which had been a massive challenge on the 124 hectare farm.

“A lot of our decisions this year have been based around lame cows. It’s the one area we really wanted to focus on and we feel that if we can get that right, then a lot of other benefits are going to come from that.” . . 

Farmers need more rain soon – Annette Scott:

Drought fears are growing as farmers across the country suggest they could be in big trouble if it doesn’t rain before Christmas.

Many farmers were reporting lower than usual cuts of balage and silage with others pushing stock off early to processors.

For deer farmers a dry early summer was a real challenge because it coincided with the fawn drop and the need of hinds for lush, high-quality feed for lactation and maximum fawn growth. . . 

Stock flood fears – Alan Williams:

Meat processing plants have become very busy in the last two weeks as farmers react to very dry conditions by unloading stock but it’s just become a typical season for this time of year, the companies say.

Plants were working overtime and on Saturdays and livestock backlogs were starting to build-up.

“Two weeks ago I would have said the season was slow but now it’s up to normal,’’ Anzco Foods general manager of agriculture and livestock Grant Bunting said.

“It usually happens about now.”

However, the change had been sudden and three to four weeks ago farmers who usually had a weaning draft were contemplating finishing lambs themselves. . . 

Farmers Fast Five – Beverley Forrester:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Glenmark Rural Women’s Branch President, Yarn Producer, Exporter, Author, Fashion Designer and Proud Farmer Beverley Forrester.

1.How long have you been Farming?

All of my life: 66 years. Brought up on the 4th generation family farms Warkworth, North Auckland, and is still run now by my sister and myself. Since 1986 I have been in Hawarden, North Canterbury, on what is also a 4th generation family farm with which we won the 2006 New Zealand Century Farm and Station Award.

2.What sort of farming are you involved in? 

Farming sheep (natural coloured chemical free wool), cattle and tourists. I have a yarn production and export business in yarn and livestock. . . 

Farmers Fast Five – Jonathan Carden-Holdstock:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Vice President of The Canterbury Dairy Goat Breeders Association and Proud Farmer Jonathan Carden-Holdstock, pictured here with his wife, Proud Farmer Chris Carden-Holdstock.

1. How long have you been farming?

I grew up on and around small traditional family run dairy farms near the Devon and Cornwall border in England. I went to Agricultural College in this area as well

2. What sort of farming were you involved in?

Mostly Dairy farming with the Holstein Friesian breed. We no longer supply Fonterra but still milk a small herd of Holsteins for calf rearing along with my wife’s Pedigree Saanen and Toggenburg Dairy Goats. The milk from this goes into calf rearing and soap. We have always had some beef cattle, I love the Red Devon breed as this was so common in the area I grew up in. . . 

Don’t tell me or others how to eat, pray and love – Mark Wilson:

Summer is BBQ time and what a glorious start to the BBQ season here in the Wakatipu. Add in some great Test cricket on the TV and the arrival of our latest shipment of Bainfield Road lamb from down south, the team at Arthurs Shore couldn’t be happier.

However, as each year goes by I feel a growing animosity towards the carnivores amongst us. It started but a whisper but, amplified by like-minded anti-meat and dairy campaigners banding together on social media and more support in mainstream media, it is now a full-blown movement of some size. . . 

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