Rural round-up

August 4, 2020

Hyperbole flies over high country – David Williams:

The Government’s big shake-up of the high country has upset farmers and green groups. David Williams drills into the detail

Across Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown, at the sprawling Mt Nicholas Station, Kate Cocks and her family seem sheltered from the ill winds of Covid-19. 

Yes, the catamaran that used to bring tourists over for farm tours isn’t running, and the public road running through the almost 40,000-hectare station isn’t packed with tourists riding the Around the Mountains cycle trail. 

But Mt Nicholas still has certainty. It has long-lasting contracts with US-owned clothing company Icebreaker and Italian textiles company Reda for the wool from its 29,000 merino sheep, and also runs 2300 Hereford cattle.  . . 

Crossbred farmers feel financial pinch – Yvonne O’Hara:

Southern Rural Life reporter Yvonne O’Hara  looks at  issues affecting the shearing sector, particularly training and crossbred wool returns.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul does not make financial sense when shearing crossbred sheep.

Although the issue was not common at present, some crossbred farmers might be looking at cutting costs and asking their contractors to limit the supply of woolhandlers to their sheds, New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said

More were likely to be considering that if the price they received for their wool did not improve and shearing, transport and associated costs were not recovered. . .

Tackling farming boots and all – Gerard Hutching:

A former international rugby player who once played for the All Blacks, decided to end his stellar career and hang his boots to return to his farming roots. Gerard Hutching reports.

For George Whitelock a decade-long professional rugby career had a myriad benefits: a secure income, world travel, paths to leadership and friendships forged with a cross-section of Kiwi society. 

But in terms of dairy farming, the pay-off has related to the way in which performance was measured on and off the sports field, and how that has translated into his new business.  

“What drives you when you’re a sportsman is that when you play every week, with technology you get all the improvements from watching video clips and varying your performance,” George said. 

“With farming I get great satisfaction every day knowing what’s going out the gate and I can judge myself and ask ‘what did I do well today or not so well’ – it’s so measurable. That challenge drives me, and it’s why I’m so passionate about dairying.”1 . . 

From koru to cows – Annette Scott:

Nikayla Knight’s career path has gone from the glamour of serving lattes in an airport lounge to milking cows on a Mid Canterbury dairy farm and she is stoked.

Knight was pursuing a hospitality career in the Koru Lounge at Dunedin airport when covid-19 struck. She effectively lost her job overnight.

“Given tourism shut down because of covid I was out of work. I wasn’t going to sit around and do nothing.

“I had three months out of work, no money coming in, no hope of returning to my job so I was looking for anything,” Knight said. . . 

UN removes anti-meat tweet:

The United Nations has removed a tweet following a global backlash from farmers.

The tweet, posted on July 26, stated “The meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies. Meat production contributes to the depletion of water resources & drives deforestation.”

The tweet was accused of being sympathetic to oil companies, whilst targeting the meat industry.

According to Australian website Farm Online, the Australian government felt particularly targeted by the tweet. . .

Agrichemical industry will take responsibility for environmental waste :

Agrichemical manufacturers back the government’s mandate to take environmental responsibility for their products at the end of their useful life.

Agcarm members support the government’s moves to place the onus on them to ensure that their products can be recycled or disposed of safely. The association’s chief executive Mark Ross says “our members have a long history of taking responsibility for their products. They do this by paying a levy on all products sold, so that they can be recycled or sustainably treated at the end of their useful life”.

The industry funds the rural recycling programme Agrecovery which offers farmers alternatives to the harmful disposal practices of burning, burying and stockpiling of waste. Agcarm is a founder and trustee of the programme, “demonstrating a long-standing commitment to better environmental outcomes,” says Ross. . .


Rural round-up

July 15, 2020

Dairy challenges the world over – Hugh Stringleman:

Labour shortages and tougher environmental requirements are the concerns of dairy farmers worldwide, an NZX Derivatives webinar has highlighted.

Three industry leaders were asked to speak on the challenges and opportunities in their countries and on their farms.

Irish dairy farmer Patrick Fenton, Molanna Farm, County Limerick, said there is a looming labour shortage as farms amalgamate, now freed from the shackles of European Union dairy quotas.

“We do have opportunities to grow and there is more land available but labour and environmental regulations have to be reckoned with,” he said. . . 

Gas targets might move – Gerard Hutching:

The targets for reducing methane have been set but the message from the Government is they could be changed next year. Gerard Hutching reports.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has conceded the 24-47% range for reducing methane by 2050 is unsatisfactory and has hinted it might change.

Primary sector groups such as the Meat Industry Association have argued the target, which will affect dairy farmers particularly, has been set too high and the reduction required is only 7%. 

Speaking to a webinar on a low-emissions future entitled Staying the Course, Shaw said the target will be looked at next year by the Climate Change Commission chaired by Rod Carr.  . .

Fonterra warning: Open Country, Miraka fear farmers locked in under new law – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand milk market giant Fonterra is about to get a legislative pass to throw its weight around even more, small dairy companies say.

Miraka and Open Country Dairy are concerned that amended dairy industry legislation is being rushed through that, in loosening the reins on Fonterra’s market power, could lead to milk supply drying up for new dairy processors or those wanting to set up in regions currently only served by Fonterra.

Their chief executives fear that a surprise clause introduced in the Dairy Industry Amendment Bill (No. 3) after lobbying by Fonterra will allow it to deny farmers a previous basic legislative right – to buy back into the big co-operative after exiting for whatever reason. . . 

Māori farming businesses flourish: ‘The world has to eat’ – Susan Edmunds:

Māori farming businesses are booming, and Covid-19 is unlikely to have taken off much of the shine.

Stats NZ data shows that profits for Māori authority farming businesses hit $97 million in 2018, almost double the year before. That is the most recent year for which the data is available.

The role of Māori authorities and their subsidiaries is to receive, manage, and/or administer assets held in common ownership by Māori.

More than 200, or around one-sixth, of Māori authorities are in agriculture. . . 

BVD stealing dairy herd profits:

While M. bovis and Covid-19 may be competing for farmers’ attention this winter, another equally infectious disease that has lurked in the background for years poses at least as big a threat to farm profitability and livestock health.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is estimated to be costing the New Zealand dairy industry at least $150 million a year in animal health costs and lost production, yet experts agree with a focused campaign it could potentially be eliminated in a matter of months, not years.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager has been working closely with vets and farmers this year to help raise the profile and understanding of BVD. . . 

Trio team up to trial innovative hemp based food products:

Greenfern Industries has partnered with two other New Zealand companies to commercialise an innovative new hemp meat substitute and hemp snack products.

Greenfern Industries, Sustainable Foods, and the Riddet Institute (Massey University) are working together on the initiative that will see them develop the hemp-based food products and ingredients for both the New Zealand and export markets.

While Greenfern’s primary focus is medical cannabis and wellness products, co-director Dan Casey said it made sense to partner with other relevant industry leaders to utilise the products of Greenfern’s hemp crops.

“We have an abundance of high-quality hemp from which we obtain seed, cake and oil so we partnered with the Riddet Institute to work on background research and hemp product development. We’ve spent 12 months working with Riddet Institute on the product and, after several iterations, we’ve produced some very valuable shared IP.” . . 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2020

Farm jobs offer competitive pay rates say industry experts – Bonnie Flaws:

Former sports trainer Tim Wilson had always harboured dreams of working on a farm, and last year changed career to do just that.

Wilson was motived by both the lifestyle and the potential earnings that farming offered, he said.

He took a $20,000 pay cut to start as a farm assistant, but said he knew long term his earning potential was much higher on the farm.

Wilson started out as a farm assistant and was now beginning his first year training in herd management on a farm near Te Puke, close to Tauranga. . . 

Kiwi workers hold the key to vineyards’ survival, but could we cut the mustard? – Maia Hart:

As thousands become beneficiaries, New Zealand’s biggest wine region still has job opportunities. Could white collar workers really earn their keep in the vineyards? Reporter Maia Hart attempted a morning in the vines. She made minimum wage.

Flanked by rural Marlborough’s grapevines before sunrise, 34 overseas workers in their high vis vests are illuminated by headlights from the company car, jogging on the spot to get their blood pumping and stretch their muscles against the autumn chill.

The workers are in the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, a huge labour force doing critical hand pruning over winter. Amongst the group are beginners, who worked in New Zealand during summer, stuck in the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic closing borders.

Thornhill Horticulture and Viticulture supervisor Francis Law said it takes a couple of seasons before workers start to realise how much money they can make. They’re likely to make minimum wage to start with. . . 

How many logs do we need? – Dileepa Fonseka:

A new bill has forest owners fuming, but it could be the tip of the iceberg for them if NZ First are re-elected to Government

Forest owners feel blind-sided by a bill before Parliament, but more changes could be coming.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the owners of forests hadn’t lived up to their end of a social contract to grow the domestic wood processing industry. 

He signalled they could expect harsher treatment next term if NZ First were re-elected to Government.

That could start with reversing forestry’s special exemptions under the Overseas Investment Act, and could see NZ First could join forces with National after the election to make that change. . .

No going Dutch on farms – Gerard Hutching:

A Nuffield scholar from the Netherlands has been researching the difference in the roles women play in agriculture in New Zealand, which is quite different in her native country. Gerard Hutching reports. 

Dutch dairy farmer and Nuffield scholar Heleen Lansink left New Zealand recently with a heightened appreciation of the differences between the roles of women in agriculture in this country and the Netherlands. 

Lansink lives and works with her husband Rogier and their four children on a dairy farm in eastern Holland, close to the German border. They run 85 milking cows on 55ha. . . 

Asian markets bolster red meat exports :

The overall value of New Zealand red meat and co-products exported for April might have been broadly similar to the same period last year, but the impact of Covid-19 resulted in changes to some major markets.

Analysis by the Meat Industry Association showed New Zealand exported $859million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products during the month. Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27% to $39.6million compared with last April, and down 30% to Germany ($22million).

Exports to China continued to recover, up 16% to $353.6million.

There were also increases for other Asian markets, particularly Japan, with total exports up 66% to $46.8million and Taiwan up 36% ($36.4million). . . 

New Ballance recruit is a positive sign for agriculture:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients reputation and great farmer-led culture were just some of the reasons why Auckland based IT professional, David Healy, wanted to join the team.

David Healy, an executive with over 20 years of experience leading change management initiatives for start-ups, public organisations and private companies has accepted the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) with the 100% New Zealand (NZ) owned farming co-operative.

David has a proven track record in operations management and research, product and business development across diverse industries including lifestyle company VF Corporation, Icebreaker (before and after they were purchased by VF) and Kathmandu Ltd. . . 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2019

Hocken wins Rabobank Emerging Leader award:

Manawatu dairy farmer Mat Hocken is the winner of the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award for 2019.

Hocken is director and owner of family business Grassmere Dairy, a 1000-cow dairy operation on the banks of the Oroua River in the Manawatu.

He becomes the first Kiwi to win the award since its introduction in 2013. The awards ceremony was held in Auckland last night. . . 

New Zealand arable farmers face unfair competition from imported grain – Gerard Hutching:

Arable farmers have appealed to their dairy farmer colleagues to buy their grain rather than importing it from overseas.

Federated Farmers arable spokeswoman Karen Williams complained about the lack of a level playing field over grain sales.

She was commenting on the Feds’ latest banking survey showing 30 per cent of the arable farmers surveyed felt under pressure and they also had the lowest percentage feeling very satisfied or satisfied (60 per cent). . . 

Boomer year for OAD farmers – Peter Burke:

A leading once a day (OAD) farmer says her farm is set to have a record year thanks to a combination of favourable circumstances – especially the weather.

Christine Finnigan who farms near Rongotea, Manawatu says the warm winter has seen good pasture growth into spring and her 220 Kiwi cross cows are in good condition.

She says the original target for this season was 78,000kgMS, but says if conditions stay favourable the record of 82,500kgMS could be reached. . .

Alliance pays out $15.2m:

Alliance Group says it has paid farmer shareholders a further $1.67 million in loyalty payments.

This brings the total bonuses it has distributed for the season to $15.2m.

The latest quarterly payments were made to the co-operative’s ‘platinum’ and ‘gold’ shareholders who supply 100% of their livestock to Alliance. The latest payments cover the July to September period. . . 

Last of Zespri’s 2019 New Zealand kiwifruit crop heading to markets:

The last of New Zealand’s successful 2019 kiwifruit crop has been shipped, with four containers of Zespri Green leaving Tauranga for North Asia, unloading in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Around 70 tonnes of the Bay of Plenty-grown kiwifruit was loaded onto the APL Denver this week which is expected to reach the first port in 15 days.

Blair Hamill, Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer, says 147 million trays of kiwifruit were shipped offshore this season to more than 50 countries, with record numbers of consumers creating unprecedented levels of demand.

“Our premium Zespri SunGold and Green Kiwifruit are more popular than ever, and over the course of the season we’ve moved 44 full charter shiploads and 17,160 containers, or more than 500,000 tonnes in total, to our markets,” Mr Hamill says. . . 

Women in Scottish farming ‘downplayed’ and ‘unseen’

A ‘fundamental cultural change’ is needed to ensure that women in the Scottish farming industry are valued more, a new report has revealed.

Women’s contribution to the sector can be ‘undervalued, downplayed, or simply unseen’, it explained.

The findings are included in a Women in Agriculture Taskforce report which was commissioned by the Scottish government. Taskforce co-chair Joyce Campbell said the the report has shone light into the ‘very dark corners of Scottish agriculture.’ . .

 


Rural round-up

November 14, 2019

Saving us from ourselves – John Jackson:

The Government’s policy to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand is working directly against the goals of the Paris Accord.

NZ’s pastoral farming is a low emissions process.

Studies published in the NZ Crown Research Institute (CRI) assessment of agricultural production systems the world over show NZ is “head and shoulders” above its competitors.

This goes well beyond our on farm production. With regard to NZ lamb sold in the UK, ocean shipping made up 5% of the final product’s carbon cost – voiding the belief that meat produced on this side of the world is environmentally unsustainable.  . .

Action groups motivate farmers – Richard Rennie:

Working together to gain access to high-level agriculture and business expertise is already leading to efficiency gains for a group of Hawke’s Bay farmers, rural consultant Sean Bennett says.

Bennett facilitates two Red Meat Profit Partnership action groups and is working with farmers to set up several more. 

The RMPP action network supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses working together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help make positive on-farm changes. Kick-start funding of $4000 a farm is pooled to fund facilitation and expertise. . .

Independent dairy companies offer farmers an attractive option – Gerard Hutching:

Ask a New Zealander to name a dairy company and the one they are certain to come up with is Fonterra.

But beyond that, many would be stumped for an answer. There are in fact at least a score of independents, processing 18 per cent of New Zealand milk, a share that has steadily increased over the 18 years Fonterra has been in existence.

Open Country Dairy (OCD) farmer supplier Chris Lewis speaks for many when he says farmers opt for an independent over Fonterra because it’s an easier way to get ahead. . . 

He’s just mad about saffron – Nigel Malthus:

“I always reckoned you could make a living off 10 acres,” says Canterbury saffron grower Geoff Slater.

“I think if you get the right products you definitely can.”

For Slater and his wife Jude, their 10-acre (4ha) slice of paradise at Eyrewell, north of the Waimakariri River, is where they are building a multi-faceted business trading under the Canterbury Saffron banner. . .

Council role review a priority – Neal Wallace:

New Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman James Barron promises a review of the council’s role will be completed by the co-operative’s next annual meeting.

The council’s priority will be a review of its role while contributing to discussion on the co-operative’s capital structure and new strategy.

Barron is a fourth-generation farmer milking 450 cows on the 140ha dairy farm he grew up on, on the banks of the Waihou River south of Matamata.

He replaces Duncan Coull who has retired after four and a half years. . . 

Artisan cheesemakers unite – Catherine Donnelly:

An excerpt from ‘Ending the War on Artisan Cheese,’ a new book that exposes government actions that limit food choice under the guise of food safety.

Over the past 35 years, the US Food and Drug Administration has pushed for a mandatory requirement for the use of pasteurized milk in cheesemaking, claiming a public health risk for raw milk cheese. This scenario is playing out abroad as well, where creameries are collapsing because they can’t comply with EU health ordinances. In her new book, Ending the War on Artisan Cheese (Chelsea Green Publishing, November 2019), Catherine Donnelly defends traditional cheesemaking and exposes overreaching government actions that limit food choice under the guise of food safety. The following excerpt explains how the loss of artisan cheese is tantamount to the loss of culture. 

American artisan cheese has become mainstream, providing big business for retailers such as Whole Foods, Costco, Wegmans, Murray’s Cheese (now owned by Kroger), and others. Despite the success enjoyed by US artisan cheesemakers and the meteoric rise of artisan cheese production, the American artisan cheese industry faces an existential threat: regulatory overreach. . . 


Rural round-up

October 5, 2019

Reform plans created in silos – Colin Williscroft:

Environmental changes farmers are being forced to deal with were developed separately rather than in conjunction, Beef + Lamb environmental policy leader Corina Jordan says.

At the B+LNZ environment issues roadshow stop in Feilding Jordan said a lot of the work the proposed changes are based on was done in silos, with little or no thought about how they might affect each other or of the cumulative affect of everything happening at once.

“The full impact of the suite has not been considered,” she said.

“That’s not just at a farm level but also a community level.”

Proposals already announced as part of the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and essential freshwater package will soon be added to by a new biodiversity strategy.

Jordan said it looks like, when coming up with some of the proposals, the experiences of other countries trying to deal with the same problems have not been taken into account either. . . 

Farmers fear the unknown over freshwater water plans – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers are worried about proposed water policy changes, but their concerns are largely based on a fear of the unknown, says Northland dairy farmer Andrew Booth.

In recent weeks social media has been rife with comments from on-edge farmers, and small town halls packed to the rafters as officials have been quizzed over the proposals.

Environment Minister David Parker released them last month, saying the health and wellbeing of water would be put first when making decisions, “providing for essential human needs, such as drinking water, will be second, and all other uses will follow”. . . 

Farmers see authentic strategy – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmers have decried the bad results of 2019 while approving the transparency and logic of the strategy reset, co-operative affairs managing director Mike Cronin says.

Speaking after three of the shareholder roadshow meetings in the South Island he said farmers welcomed the new strategy as authentic and self-explanatory and, therefore, convincing.

“Some want more detail on how we got here but the overall impression is that the strategy is back to basics, co-operative, New Zealand milk and all those good things.” . . 

International wool award for Kiwi:

One of New Zealand’s longest-serving champions for New Zealand wool, John Dawson, has been awarded the prestigious International Wool Trade Co-operation Award.

The award was presented at the 31st Nanjing Wool Market Convention at Qufu in Shandong Province, China.

John Dawson is chief executive of New Zealand Wool Services International and chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests.

He was one of just six global wool industry leaders to receive the award and the only New Zealander. . . 

Texel stud happy with Scottish influence – Yvonne O’Hara:

The second crop of lambs on the ground from Scottish genetics are looking good, Texel stud breeder and farmer Brent Busby says.

”They came out with a kilt,” he said.

He and wife Heather own the Cromarty Texel Stud and run 110 pedigree registered Texel ewes on 20ha at Myross Bush, Invercargill, with a further 15ha leased.

”We have finished lambing early and have 170% tailed, (including a set of quads)” he said.

Mrs Busby said they imported semen from Scottish studs in 2018 and inseminated 18 ewes. . .

Sheep farmers ‘astonished’ over live export ban proposal :

Sheep farmers have highlighted their ‘astonishment’ over the government’s proposal to put in a place a live export ban once the UK leaves the EU.

Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers is proposing a ban on live exports of farm animals, stating that livestock should only be slaughtered at their most local abattoir.

A consultation will be created to gather opinion on the controversial proposal.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has already criticised the plan, saying that it ‘exposes a serious lack of knowledge’ of how the industry works.

The group adds that there is an ‘absence of awareness’ of transport related welfare research. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2019

Big tick for farmers – Neal Wallace:

The red meat industry hopes to ramp up its Taste Pure Nature brand campaign on the back of the latest international climate change report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is being welcomed by New Zealand farming leaders as an endorsement of our low impact systems and the importance of maintaining food production.

The IPCC says land on which we rely for food, water, energy, health and wellbeing is already under pressure and climate change will exacerbate that through desertification . . .

OAD milking offers labour solution – Peter Burke:

Once-a-day (OAD) milking could open a whole new labour market for dairy farmers, says a DairyNZ Wairarapa Tararua consulting officer Gray Beagley.

He says OAD farmers can choose what time they milk, so a later milking time may attract workers who find early mornings hard, and people getting young children off to school. About 9% of dairy herds nationwide are on full season OAD, but Beagley says this is just an average.

In Northland about 25% of all herds are OAD. This variation is partly, but not exclusively, due to the weather.  . .

The father and son shearing duo who both have world titles :

Sir David Fagan is known as the best shearer in the country, with over 600 wins, a number of world records and many world titles. 

His 27-year-old son Jack has just touched down in the country after winning the World Shearing Championships Speed Shear in France. 

The father and son duo have not only competed head to head in the shearing sheds, but they also own a dairy farm together.  . . .

First time dairy farmers take the plunge – Gerard Hutching:

“To buy or not to buy” – that’s the question on dairy farmers’ minds as they weigh up whether now is the right time to invest in some rural real estate.

Milk prices are up, land values are flat or falling, cow prices trending down, interest rates low and Fonterra shares in decline – all ingredients for dipping a toe into ownership.

“There’s a lot of opportunity out there. We looked at over 20 farms and we became pretty good at doing budgets quickly to figure out if a farm could work with the budget we had. We put offers on a few of farms which weren’t accepted, before finding the Tirau farm where our offer was accepted through the tender process,” Mark and Cathy Nicholas say. . .

Kellys keep balance and belief – Tim Fulton:

Even if locusts land on their post-earthquake property the Kelly family will be ready. Tim Fulton reports.

Rebekah and Dave Kelly have an eye for the upside.

In November 2016 the hill country farmers lost most of the infrastructure on their 2000ha North Canterbury property to the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake.

Half a hillside slipped into the Leader River, creating a dam the family christened Lake Rebekah. . .

Walking the talk for safe farming through spring:

With spring just around the corner, farmers will be spending more time out on the farm preparing for the new season’s jobs.

Lambing and calving, tailing and docking, lice treatments, vaccinations, BVD testing for bulls, drenching young heifers, spreading fertiliser and preparing for shearing make it an incredibly busy time.

“Many of these jobs require close contact with animals, including lifting, chemical use and using heavy machinery,” says Mark Harris, Beef + Lamb New Zealand lead extension manager. . .


Rural round-up

July 28, 2019

88-year-old dairy farmer keeps ahead of technological changes – Gerard Hutching:

“If you don’t comply you won’t be able to supply.”

Ngatea dairy farmer Ken Jones has seen the future – and at 88 years of age a lot of the past.

He knows farmers will soon be confronted with an assortment of environmental rules they will have to abide by – in fact they already are – and he wants to get ahead of the game.

“I don’t know how far off that is but it’s no good hitting your head against a brick wall. I just want to make the farm compliant so I can hand it on to the family.” . . 

Tech journey discussed – David Hill:

Tina Mackintosh admits there were some late nights loading data after she and husband Duncan opted to embrace technology more than a decade ago.

The Mackintoshs, who farm at White Rock Mains, north of Rangiora, shared their journey of using technology to improve their farm system at last month’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand FarmSmart conference in Christchurch.

”We have a curious mind about data and what it can do, and we also believe it’s about sharing the good things when they work and, equally, not being afraid of sharing when the shite happens,” Mrs Mackintosh said.

”As we were going along the journey we had two babies, so we were entering data late at night. There was a lot of data to enter so it was quite frustrating. . .

$10,200 dog makes quick impression – Yvonne O’Hara:

A farm dog that sold for more than $10,000 in Gore yesterday marked the occasion by lifting his leg on his new owner’s gumboot.

Heading dog Glen sold for $10,200 at the annual sheep and cattle dog sale at the Charlton saleyards.

PGG Wrightson Gore sheep and beef representative Ross McKee said his company was calling it ”a New Zealand record”.

”At $10,200 he is in a league of his own.”

Glen was sold by his breeder, trainer and farmer David Parker, of Teviot Valley, and bought by sheep, beef and venison farmer Richard Tucker, of Becks. . . .

The Poison of Precaution: The Anti-Science Mindset -Riskmonger:

In last year’s excellent book, The Wizard and the Prophet, Charles Mann juxtaposed two polemics on the environment in the 1940s during the turning point of agricultural development: Norman Borlaug and William Vogt. Borlaug (the Wizard) took the scientific approach to innovate and develop new tools to solve problems facing agriculture. Vogt (the Prophet and arguably the founder of the modern environmental movement) would see an environmental problem as a reason for man to pull back and let the planet heal itself.

To this day, both approaches (to innovate or to pull back and take precaution) have defined environmental debates. There is no doubt which side I fall on. Borlaug’s scientific route has allowed humanity to thrive over the last 70 years. The Green Revolution in agriculture led to global economic expansions as abundance led to generations of risk-takers being able to leave the land and develop other opportunities for wealth generation. Environmentalists argue that the agri-technologies have led to deeper problems from saturated soil and poisoned water tables to serious human health issues to climate calamity. Social justice theorists are proposing agro-ecology as a Vogtian response in pulling back from seven decades of agricultural development. . .

Landmark report shows value of pesticides to NZ’s land-based industries:

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Development today released a landmark report, showing that New Zealand’s economy would lose up to $11.4 billion without crop protection products – and that crops would lose 30 percent of their value overall.

The report covers forestry, pasture, horticulture, field crops and vegetable production.

Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross, says that the report highlights the importance of the crop protection industry to New Zealand’s economy. . .

African farmers increase yields and income with their smartphones -Bekezela Phakathi:

From drones and big data to financing apps, advanced technology can be a game changer.

More farmers across Africa are set to turn to digital solutions within the next three years, which will boost productivity and, potentially, employment across the value chain, according to a new study.

The study by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) and advisory firm Dalberg Advisors, says that several barriers hindering the adoption of digital solutions in agriculture across the continent — notably, limited access to technology and connectivity — will be overcome. . .


Rural round-up

July 10, 2019

From vodka to high country – Sally Rae:

Geoff and Justine Ross are best known as entrepreneurs and founders of the hugely successful 42 Below vodka company. But they have traded city life for a rural adventure at Lake Hawea Station where they are using the skills gained in business to apply them to the rural sector. They speak to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae.

Geoff Ross was always going to be a farmer.

But the career path he took to farm ownership was not necessarily what he envisaged growing up on a deer and dairy farm in the North Island.

His wife Justine recalls how she wanted to marry a farmer; in fact, she thought she was marrying a farmer. It did not quite pan out like that. . .

Keeping the farm in the family – Luke Chivers:

Kairuru farmer Amanda Henderson says there’s a whole lot more to farming than picking a paddock and putting some animals in it. The fourth-generation sheep and beef farmer is dedicated to shifting the perception of New Zealand’s primary sector. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

When people think of agriculture, not all think of science, innovation and technology. 

But, thankfully, one South Islander is set on changing that.

“I believe education is critical in the agricultural sector,” 33-year-old Amanda Henderson says. . .

Farmers find perfect match in 100% grass-fed wagyu beef producer group – Sally Rae:

Southland farmers Mike and Kirsty Bodle are looking to create a point of difference – or X-factor – in their farming operation.

The couple moved south from the North Island 14 years ago and bought a drystock farm after deciding they liked the region.

After a few years, they bought a neighbouring property to convert to dairy but when the dairy market started experiencing volatility, they decided they needed to spread their risk to cover themselves during those times . .

Chewing out the vegetarian preachers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I was a vegan myself once.

It was in India 40 years ago in a small village where it seemed everyone was vegan, going by the menus in the cafes.

But it was only for one day.

The next village appeared to eat meat and nothing else. . .

Kiwi healthcare company HoneyLab on the cusp of going global – Esther Taunton:

A decade after it was set up, healthcare company HoneyLab is on the cusp of going global, co-founder Dr Shaun Holt says.

A clinical study recently proved the company’s flagship kānuka honey jell, Honevo, is as effective in treating cold sores as well-known pharmaceuticals.

It was the second big win for the product, which has also been proven effective in treating rosacea, and growing international interest is keeping Holt busy. . .

Comedian Te Radar brings the light touch to agricultural events – Gerard Hutching:

After two decades on TV screens, the stage and the comedy circuit, beloved entertainer Te Radar has become the go-to jester for the agricultural crowd, and with good reason.

The funnyman has serious cred in rural circles; he grew up on a dairy farm in north Waikato, on the isthmus bordered by the Waikato River that juts into Lake Waikare. His father was a top elected official in Federated Farmers.

No stranger to the milking shed, he helped on the family farm until he was 20. But dairying held no long term attraction. . .


Rural round-up

July 7, 2019

Group think clears the waters – Neal Wallace:

The message to those attending the recent South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill was unequivocal: If farmers create an environmental issue they need to take control of the solution. Neal Wallace reports on how farmers are resolving water quality issues in Southland and Otago.

Farmers  are the only people who can reverse the declining quality of Otago’s Pomahaka River, farmer Lloyd McCall says.

The Pomahaka Water Care Group was formed in 2014 because the Otago Regional Council and the Landcare Trust were not going to improve the river’s water quality.

“It’s got to be by farmers,” McCall says.

“You couldn’t fix it by rules.” . . .

Wairarapa shepherd bucks trend of youth rejecting farming careers -Gerard Hutching & Jessica Long:

As fewer young people are signing up for primary sector vocational courses, Wairarapa shepherd Ashley Greer is one swimming against the tide.

Every since she was a teen Greer wanted to work on a farm, although she never had the opportunity when she was young.

“I grew up in Bulls, my dad was a farm worker but we left the farm when I hit high school. I never got all the hands-on experience like other kids did because it wasn’t our farm,” she says . .

Yili’s gain on the West Coast brings a $500,000 windfall to farmers – but local leaders lament sale to foreigners – Point of Order:

Westland  Milk  Products  farmer-shareholders  voted overwhelming in the past week to accept  the  $558m  takeover bid   by   Chinese  giant  Yili  for the   co-op’s  milk processing  operation.

For  individual  farmer shareholders, the  bid  means an injection of  around  $500,000 each  into their  bank accounts,  plus better  returns for their milk  over  the  next  10 years.

No wonder  94%  of the  96% eligible shareholders  cast their votes in   favour.  West Coast farmer and Federated Farmer president Katie Milne, who is also a WMP director, said it was an “absolutely stunning” result for West Coast farmers. . . .

Positive event encourages future farmers – Yvonne O’Hara:

”If we don’t have young people who are passionate and who see a future in the sector coming through, we won’t have a future.”

South Island Dairy Event organising committee chairman Simon Topham was speaking at the end of a BrightSide session in Invercargill last week.

About 120 people, mostly young farm workers, attended the session devoted to finances and career progression.

Mr Topham said the positive response to BrightSide, proved there was a demand for similar sessions in future events. . .

Wool courses target pressing need – Luke Chivers:

New qualifications will help solve a critical need to train shearers and wool handlers, Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons says.

Dr Sissons launched three micro-credentials – ‘Introduction to the Woolshed’, ‘Learner Wool Handler’, and ‘Learner Shearer’ – at the Primary Industries Summit in Wellington on Monday afternoon.

The courses are bite-sized pieces of learning, aimed at recognising or teaching specific workplace skills on the job in a short time.. .

Colin Hurst named Arable Farmer of the Year:

His “immense contribution” to Federated Farmers, related industry bodies and across the nation’s arable sector saw Colin Hurst named Arable Farmer of the Year last night.

Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group Chairperson Karen Williams said it was difficult to know where to start with Colin’s contribution to farming. The South Canterbury farmer has served Feds at national, regional and branch level and has also put in countless hours for the South Canterbury Rural Support Trust, the Arable Industry Group’s Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection, United Wheatgrowers and the Foundation for Arable Research. . .

Lighter wines :

This programme is the largest research and development effort ever undertaken by New Zealand’s wine industry. Lighter Wines (formerly Lifestyle Wines) is designed to position New Zealand as number 1 in the world for high quality, lower alcohol and lower calorie ‘lighter’ wines. It aims to capitalise on the domestic and international market demand for these wines.

The challenge

The challenge is not just producing high quality lighter wines but producing them naturally, giving New Zealand a point of difference and making New Zealand the “go to” country for high quality, lighter wines.

The solution

This programme aims to capitalise on market-led opportunities domestically and internationally, using applied research and development to provide innovative solutions. . . 

Hey farmer: you are not the farm – Uptown Sheep:

Hey Farmer,

I need you to hear something right now. I need you to hear this loud and clear – I’m so sorry for everything this year has thrown at you. I’m so sorry for all the things you cannot control that put so much weight on you. But hear me – YOU are not defined by this year’s crop. Or this year’s income. Or this year’s “success”.

You are not the farm. You are more than the farm.

I saw you leave again this morning, smiling, but still carrying the stress. I know the first thing you did was drive down by the creek to see how much the water has receded. After you do chores in flooded pastures, you’ll sit with your Dad to try and figure out what fields might dry out the fastest and what, if anything, can be done while you wait. . . .


Rural round-up

May 23, 2019

We can create a future others will envy – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Jacqueline Rowarth calls on smart-thinking Kiwis to be more innovative – not only to develop New Zealand’s eco-future but also to create an environment and economy in balance.

“New Zealand is the best deliverer of prosperity in the world – the best at turning its resources and the skills of its people into prosperity.” – Legatum Global Prosperity Index, 2016

In 2016 the Legatum Global Prosperity Index ranked New Zealand No 1 of 149 countries with the words: “New Zealand is the best deliverer of prosperity in the world – the best at turning its resources and the skills of its people into prosperity.”

In 2016 we were No 1 in the economic ranks and 13th in the environment. In 2018 we were second overall, 14th in the economy and fourth in environment.

This change in rankings is indicative of the classic ‘environment versus economy’ debate. . .

The science and technology of gene-edited food:

We need to be having conversations about the challenge of feeding the world’s burgeoning population.

Fonterra COO Global Consumer & Foodservice, Judith Swales says that across the world, science and new technologies are being used to delve into the viability and practicality of lab based and gene edited food. Gene-edited oil is being sold commercially for the first time in the United States and the first burger with a lab grown ‘meat’ patty due to go on sale in the UK.

The United Nations has estimated the world population at around 8 billion and expects it to be close to 10 billion by 2050 and more than 11 billion in 2100. Dairy is a great source of nutrition and has a key role in meeting this challenge though its expected complementary sources of protein will be needed. . . 

‘Compelling’ Nicola Blowey scoops four national dairy awards – Gerard Hutching:

Fairlie assistant herd manager Nicola Blowey has an abundance of ambition and confidence.

Recently awarded the prize of 2019 New Zealand dairy trainee of the year, the 25-year-old wants to own her own herd and eventually her own farm.

“I’m working towards my own herd and in future I’d like to have an interest in several dairy farming businesses so I can create progression to help other young people.”

They are the sort of high-reaching goals that resonate with Leonie and Kieran Guiney, owners of the 600-cow, 175 hectare property where Blowey works. . .

National Lamb Day

On February 15 in 1882, William Davidson and Thomas Brydone achieved the remarkable, by launching the first shipment of frozen sheep meat from Port Chalmers in Otago on the Dunedin, bound for London. 

The 5,000 carcasses arrived in London, 98 days later on 24th May, in excellent condition which was no easy feat back in those days and goes without saying not without incident. Prior to this, New Zealand mainly sold wool overseas as no-one believed it possible to have a thriving meat export business. Yet we are now looking at a $8.5 billion sheep and beef export industry.  . .

 

How wool is solving your sustainable fashion dilemma one fibre at a time :

Wool Week is upon us and if you’re not familiar with what that means and why we should be celebrating wool, then listen up.

Merino wool is Australia’s biggest fashion export, which is cause for celebration in itself, but it’s also 100 per cent natural, renewable and biodegradable. This year, Wool Week is backed by David Jones, with Australian model Jessica Gomes fronting the campaign.

Here at Vogue, we’re all about championing sustainable and circular fashion, which is why we’ve pulled together five reasons you should be celebrating wool not only this week, but every week. . . 

 

Matt McRae: Southland/Otago’s Young Farmer of the Year finalist:

Southland sheep and beef farmer Matt McRae is preparing to compete in this year’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Hawke’s Bay. It will be his last shot at taking out the prestigious title.

Matt McRae is one of the driving forces behind a family-owned agribusiness in Southland which is in expansion mode.

The addition of a new 320 hectare lease block in April, has enabled significant growth in sheep and cattle numbers.  . .


Rural round-up

April 21, 2019

Meat bonanza – Alan Williams:

Hang on for the ride, New Zealand – the African swine fever disaster breaking down pork supply in China is creating a huge opening for sheep meat and beef producers, special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says.

The Chinese need for protein will push up both demand and thus prices there and for other customers. 

Pork is easily the number one meat protein in China and research indicating the swine fever impact could create an 8.2 million tonnes gap in total protein supply there this year.  . .

MPI raises restrictions on farms to stop spread of Mycoplasma bovis – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers will need to brace themselves for a surge in the number of properties that cannot move stock off their farms as officials grapple with controlling the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said 300 farmers who had high risk animals move on to their properties would be contacted, of whom 250 would have notices of direction placed on them. . .

Exploring potential of dairy sheep, goats – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Sheep and Goat Dairy Project (SGDP) is to hold a workshop in Invercargill tomorrow to explore the potential for dairy sheep and dairy goats as an alternative income stream for farmers and others along the supply chain.

The national Provincial Growth Fund-funded project was launched in January and will continue until March 2020.

Project leader John Morgan, who is also the manager of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network (Fin) at Lincoln University, said there had been pockets of interest and activity to do with sheep and goat milk in the past. . .

Truly outstanding in their fields – Peter Burke:

The East Coast of the North Island features prominently in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award for Sheep and Beef.

Two of the three men work on farms on the East Coast, the others in the South Island.

The three finalists were selected from entrants NZ-wide: 

Outbreak delays bee project – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Southern Beekeepers discussion group has completed the first two rounds of sampling southern beehives at sites in Mosgiel and Lake Hawea for the American Foulbrood (AFB) research project, Clean Hive.

However, a major AFB outbreak in the North Island is keeping the laboratory they are using busy with samples, so the results have been delayed.

The sampling is part of the beekeeping industry’s research project to trial three different methods to detect the disease in hives before symptoms become visible or clinical. . .

Celebrating women in agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Words spoken during a panel discussion at the Women of Influence Forum in 2016 struck a chord with Chelsea Millar from Grass Roots Media.

The panel consisting of several high-profile women from various sectors was discussing how women don’t get enough recognition for their work, whether it be equality, pay parity or so on.

“It struck me that this was true in the agriculture sector,” Millar says. . .

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Rural round-up

April 19, 2019

Mentoring takes farmers further – Hugh Stringleman:

Nearly halfway through a big, pioneering, five-year farmer extension project in Northland its benefits are becoming apparent to target farmers, their associates and the region.

Extension 350 (E350) has considerably widened the time-honoured farm discussion group approach of farmers helping farmers.

Private farm consultants are group facilitators and counsellors as well as delivering their one-on-one advice and skills. . .

Is Adrian Orr, Mr Congeniality, ready for a war with farmers? – Hamish Rutherford:

Since Adrian Orr became Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand he has built a reputation of being someone who likes to be liked.

Charming and jocular, but possibly sensitive to criticism.

But Orr is now in a battle with the bulk of New Zealand’s banking sector in a way which could see him demonised, probably with the focus on lending to farmers.

He knows it. Recent days have seen Orr on a campaign to explain itself. . .

Farmers face hefty penalties for flouting Nait rules – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers will face a maximum penalty of $100,000 and corporates $200,000 for not complying with the animal tracing system Nait.

Wairarapa dairy farmer John Stevenson said while the fines were hefty, decisive action was needed to protect the future of the dairy industry.

“We need to ensure animal movement are recorded because we can’t afford to have another example like Mycoplasma bovis. It will be important to see how they implement the new rules.” . . .

Kempthorne family marks 143 years on Spylaw Valley – Richard Davison:

Here’s to the next 143 years.

Not just farming, but farming a particular patch of rural paradise is a way of life for one West Otago family.

The Kempthornes, of Spylaw Valley, near Heriot, have been farming sheep and beef on the same 530ha of hill country and river flat since 1876, and will be among 40 rural New Zealand families marking their toil, perseverance and successes at next month’s Century Farm awards in Lawrence.

The annual awards – which this year take place over the weekend of May 24-26 – honour farms that have remained in the same family for 100 years or more. . . 

Limousin breed has plenty to offer – Yvonne O’Hara:

Easy-going with softer muscularity, good intramuscular fat, feed conversion efficiency and polling; these are key attributes of the Limousin cattle, which stud breeders Clark Scott and Judy Miller, of the Loch Head Limousin stud, breed for.

They have a 320ha, 4000-stock unit commercial sheep and beef farm near Heriot.

”We also have 35 Limousin cows and heifers to the bull and carry 12 to 15 yearling bulls through to sale, along with 30-odd calves,” Mr Scott said. . . 

Breeding the best – Brittney Pickett:

A Southland couple take a great deal of pride in producing top bulls for breeding programmes. Brittney Pickett reports.

The first time Robert and Annemarie Bruin saw their bulls in the LIC sire-proving scheme it felt like their hard work had paid off.

“It’s like breeding a winning race horse, it gives you a kick,” Robert says. . . 


Rural round-up

April 9, 2019

Intensive forestry creates ‘too many environmental risks’ – lawyer – Kate Gudsell:

The rules governing forestry are too light and need to be reviewed, environmental groups say.

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry came into force in May last year but are about to be reviewed by the government.

The Environmental Defence Society and Forest and Bird decided to conduct joint analysis because of increasing public concern about the impacts of commercial forestry in light of events like Tologa Bay last year.

An estimated one million tonnes of logs and debris was left strewn on properties and roads on the East Coast during two bouts of heavy rainfall in June last year.

Farmers put the cost of the damage in the millions of dollars. . . 

Overseas Investment Office approves Craigmore $52m apple orchard investment – Gerard Hutching:

Foreign investors headed by New Zealand management have been given the green light by the Overseas Investment Office to buy two horticultural properties after being rebuffed last year over a bid to buy a kiwifruit and avocado orchard.

Craigmore Sustainables has received permission to buy 479 hectares of sensitive land inland of Waipukurau in Hawke’s Bay and 59 ha near Gisborne. They will invest $52 million to develop apple orchards on the properties. . . 

Mustering tradition continues – Sally Rae:

The likes of helicopters and, latterly, even drones, have replaced horses for mustering on many properties in New Zealand’s back country. But in remote South Westland, traditions remain alive and well, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports. 

Mustering in the remote and beautiful Cascade Valley in South Westland can come with its challenges.

But for Haast-based farmers Maurice and Kathleen Nolan, those challenges were amplified as they prepared for today’s Haast calf sale.

The sale is a major calendar event for the Nolans, a name synonymous with South Westland since the family arrived at Jackson Bay, south of Haast, in 1876. . . 

DairyNZ Schools website launched:

DairyNZ has launched a new website for teachers, giving them free, curriculum-based learning resources to help children learn about dairy farming.

The new website, called DairyNZ Schools, is part of DairyNZ’s in-school education programme. The programme is designed to ensure New Zealand school children get the opportunity to learn about dairying.

Learning resources

The website has learning resources for teachers of children from Year 2 to Year 11. The resources are free to download and teachers can filter resources by year level or subject area. . .

Course closures make farming a tough industry to crack – Esther Taunton:

Young people looking for farm jobs are being hampered by dwindling training options but farmers can help fill the void, Federated Farmers says.

Taranaki teenager Braydon Langton said on Friday he had been turned down by dozens of potential farm employers because of inexperience.

He said it was frustrating to hear farmers repeatedly complaining about a worker shortage but being unwilling to invest time in eager young people.

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers’ spokesman for tertiary and workplace skills and training, said he sympathised with Langton and other young people in his situation. . . 

Sales of Southland dairy farms down on past years

While there is still a good selection of dairy farms available in Southland, there have only been a limited number of sales in the province compared to previous years, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

Despite this, the REINZ said in its March monthly sales data release that two sales in Southland of larger dairy units were significant in terms of total price involved and there was a good level of activity on finishing properties

In Otago, there was restrained activity in the drystock sector where prices eased 10% to 15%, with reports of capital constraints from banks making finance difficult to obtain and therefore harder to get transactions together. . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2019

Drought bites crops in Tasman with little respite forecast for growers – Katy Jones:

Growers are battling to keep crops alive on the Waimea Plains as the drought continues to bite in Tasman district, with no sign of a significant break in the prolonged dry spell.

Irrigators this week saw the amount of water they were allowed to take from catchments on the plains cut by 50 per cent, as the Waimea River dropped to its lowest level for this time of year since the “Big Dry” in 2001.

High winds at the end of last month compounded growers’ woes, further drying out land already parched by a lack of rain and high temperatures. . . 

Court to decide official location of a riverbank – Eric Frykberg:

Where does the bed of a river end and adjacent farmland begin? That is not an easy question to answer, when dealing with braided rivers that often change course.

However, the Court of Appeal will now get the chance to decide the official location of a riverbank.

The problem began in 2017 when a farmer was prosecuted for doing earthworks in the bed of the Selwyn River, in mid Canterbury.

Although he pleaded guilty, the case gave rise to debate about how wide a braided river actually was.

The District Court sided with Environment Canterbury and ruled a river was as big as the area covered by the river’s waters at their fullest flow. . .

Ravensdown CEO agrees farmers have sometimes applied too much fertiliser – Gerard Hutching:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown says it is trying to persuade farmers to use less nitrogen and concedes that in the past too much has been applied “in some cases.”

However it has recently developed new products which result in less nitrogen being lost to the atmosphere or leaching into the soil where it ends up in waterways.

Greenpeace has demanded the Government ban chemical nitrogen because it claims it causes river pollution. It has created billboards accusing Ravensdown and its competitor Ballance Agri-Nutrients of polluting rivers. . . 

Group ignores fertiliser facts – Alan Emerson:

Driving out of Auckland I saw a huge billboard with the message: Ravensdown and Ballance pollute rivers.

How can that be, I thought, but then I noted the billboard was put there by Greenpeace and Greenpeace never lets the facts get in the way of its prejudices.

Starting at the top, the two fertiliser companies don’t pollute rivers, they sell fertilisers, so factually it is wrong.

According to my dictionary pollute means contaminate with poisonous or harmful substances or to make morally corrupt or to desecrate.

How, then, can Ravensdown and Ballance pollute? . . 

Change constant in 50-year career – Ken Muir:

When you have worked for more than 50 years in the rural sector, change is a constant and for Andrew Welsh, an agribusiness manager at Rabobank in Southland, this has included everything from the model of car he was supplied with to the way he communicates with co-workers and his clients.

Mr Welsh said farming was in his DNA.

”My great grandparents farmed in South Otago and Opotiki, and going further back than that our relatives had farmed in County Durham before coming out to Hawkes Bay.”

He started in the industry at the bottom, he said.

”When I started at Wright Stephenson’s in Gore in 1968 as an office junior, I was everybody’s general dogsbody.” . . 

 

Halter targets April launch date

Kiwi agritech start-up Halter expects to commercially launch its unique GPS-enabled cow collars in April.

“We have just finished setting up our production line in China and we have had our first collars off the line come back,” chief executive and founder Craig Piggott told the Young Farmers conference.

“We are targeting April as our commercial launch. It’s all happening very quickly.”

Auckland-based Halter has developed the collar, which allows cows to be guided around a farm using a smartphone app. . . 


Rural round-up

November 10, 2018

Leonie Guiney election could usher in new direction at Fonterra– Gerard Hutching:

Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others.

Sometimes messy democracy delivers a result that sends an unmistakable message to the powers that be.

So in electing Leonie Guiney to the Fonterra board, dairy farmers have told their co-operative in no uncertain terms they have had enough of the status quo, and new thinking is needed in the wake of its $196 million loss – the first in its 17-year history.

Her election might not have happened if the board had got its way a few years ago when it was mulling over changes to the way directors were voted in. . . 

Labour-intensive task planting pumpkin field -Yvonne O’Hara:

Raewyn Officer, of Lake Roxburgh Village, intends to plant a 4.5ha block of land with about 30,000 grey pumpkin seeds, by hand, by herself, and she is happy to do so.

She works for Darryl Peirce, of Peirce Orchard (The Pumpkin Place), near Millers Flat, who has leased a 4.5ha paddock that lies between Ettrick and Millers Flat.

When Southern Rural Life spotted Ms Officer planting the seeds by hand on Saturday morning, Mr Peirce had already cultivated the soil and had laid one row of black plastic the length of the paddock, using an attachment on the back of his tractor.

He intended to do the same over the whole block, with each row 2.5m apart. . . 

Trade war means NZ picking sides – Hugh Stringleman:

A strategy is needed for New Zealand to avoid the worst effects of a new cold war between China and the United States, Rabobank Asia-Pacific strategist Michael Every says.

“The new cold war could be potentially earth-shattering for those countries which trade with both sides, forcing them declare allegiance or be told which side to support.”

The odds are strongly in favour of the US-China trade war escalating, Every said. . . 

Prickett takes on role at Pamu – Richard Rennie:

Freshwater campaigner Marnie Prickett has earned herself a seat at the table advising the country’s largest farming company on its environmental policies and direction. As a new member and chairwoman of Pamu’s Environmental Reference Group she intends to continue prodding the state-owned enterprise to greater levels of environmental responsibility, underpinned by a sense of excitement and urgency. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

Marnie Prickett was shoved into the glare of the contentious water quality debate two years ago when she headed the Choose Clean Water campaign. 

While not the first campaign pushing for better water quality around New Zealand it was notable for the way it pitched one heavyweight industry, tourism, against another, the pastoral farming sector.  . . 

Top dog trialist to pass on tips

One of the country’s top dog triallists is to hold a training class for owners of heading and huntaway dogs at the Ida Valley Station woolshed later this month.

Roger Tweed, of Waitahuna, will be providing tips, advice and suggestions during the workshop.

Hosted by the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club, the class will be on November 18, from about 1pm.

Mr Tweed has been involved in the sport for many years. . . 

On the farm: Our guide to what’s happening in rural NZ:

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.

Te Ika-a-Māui-North Island

Northland is a small tale of woe with no rain during the week, and limited moisture in the past three. Soils are drying out and the spring growth which normally continues into early November, hasn’t. Dargaville farmers are making some silage, but further north that’s not the case. Bull beef farmers are looking most glum they have in 20 years or so when it comes to prices too. . . 

Forget cattle, kangaroos are the future of farming – Christopher Cookson:

Recently, I was across the ditch in Australia for the first time in my life and as you do when you go to a new place, I decided to sample local foods. 

Looking around at meat in the supermarket, I was searching for something that would not drain my bank account and make it as dry as an Aussie farm.

Hiding away in a corner of the supermarket I found something you definitely don’t see in New Zealand: kangaroo meat. . . 


Rural round-up

October 29, 2018

Carbon cost shock – Richard Rennie:

Huge costs in New Zealand’s zero carbon goals that could set the country back more than a trillion dollars have been side-lined in Government calculations, seasoned rural economist Phil Journeaux says.

He calculates the policy will costing the NZ economy more than a trillion dollars by 2050 and shave billions a year off income.

AgFirst agricultural economist Journeaux said he has become increasingly alarmed about a failure to acknowledge what the aspirations to lower carbon emissions will really mean in economic terms to not only the rural economy but to all NZ.

Journeaux spent much of his career as an economist with the Primary Industries Ministry. . . 

Meaty topics for Fonterra meeting – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra farmer-shareholders have good reasons to make their way to the Lichfield processing site in South Waikato for the annual meeting of the co-operative on November 8.

Top of the list for interest will be updates from chairman John Monaghan and interim chief executive Miles Hurrell on the searching review of all Fonterra’s investments, major assets, joint ventures and partnerships.

That was promised and began after Fonterra announced its first-ever loss in mid-September, for the 2017-18 financial year.

Word on the future of its Beingmate shareholding and distribution agreement and the China Farms operation will be keenly anticipated. . . 

West Coast farmers doing it tough, as payout lags behind competitors

Farmers on the West Coast have had the lowest payout in the country for four years.  West Coast reporter JOANNE CARROLL talks to those doing it tough and what Westland Milk Products is doing to close the gap.

When Kokatahi farmer Terry Sheridan began in the dairy industry 42 years ago he didn’t expect to be still getting up at 4am to milk cows when he was 72.

“[Years ago] when farmers were at the end of their career, they sold up and bought a house off farm, had some money left over to do world trips. Now in Westland, you leave with nothing. Absolutely nothing. We can’t even afford a contract milker today. That’s why I’m out there. And I don’t get a day off. You don’t expect this at our age,” he said.  . . 

New methane emissions metric proposed for climate change policy:

A new paper published today has outlined a better way to think about how methane and other gases contribute to greenhouse gas emissions budgets. This is an important step towards evaluating the warming from methane emissions when developing strategies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Current climate change policy suggests a ‘one size fits all’ approach to dealing with emissions,” says Professor Dave Frame, head of the Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington.  “But there are two distinct types of emissions, and to properly address climate change and create fair and accurate climate change policy we must treat these two groups differently.”

The two types of emissions that contribute to climate change can be divided into ‘long-lived’ and ‘short-lived’ pollutants. . . 

NZ meat trade to Europe and UK faces potential logjam – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand’s valuable lamb exports to the United Kingdom and Europe could get caught up in a major traffic snarl-up this Easter.

The UK is due to exit from the EU on March 29, just three weeks before Easter when volumes of Kiwi lamb jump 10 times for the festive season.

But New Zealand’s red meat sector Brexit representative Jeff Grant said the uncertainty over what sort of a deal the UK negotiates threatens the smooth flow of trade into the United Kingdom and Europe. . . 

Bull biosecurity at breeding time:

 As another cattle breeding season gets underway, farmers are being reminded to follow best-practice biosecurity management to protect their dairy and beef herds from Mycoplasma bovis.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand General Manager South Island John Ladley says farmers should ensure any bulls they use this season are from a known source and have up-to-date animal health and NAIT records.

Bulls should have been quarantined after purchase and any animal health issues dealt with before they are mixed with home stock. . .


Rural round-up

September 26, 2018

Profiting from precision irrigation:

Economic, environmental and social benefits are prompting a growing number of Australasian and US farmers to adopt precision variable rate irrigation systems.

New Zealand, a country generally known for its ample annual rainfall and phenomenal natural crop growth, is an unlikely origin for a precision irrigation development that’s gaining traction globally. However, light soils and sporadic precipitation in some regions, plus readily available water for irrigation, mean close to 800,000 ha or 6.5% of the country’s farmland is artificially watered.

Originally, much of that was with flood irrigation using border-dykes but, in the drive for water use efficiency and environmental protection, spray irrigation has become the norm, mostly with centre-pivots. . . 

Growers get 20,000 plants back after MPI testing clears any risk – Eric Frykberg:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released about 20,000 apple plants and 400 stone fruit plants which it impounded as a biosecurity risk three months ago.

It has now completed testing of the plants and found no trace of pests or diseases.

As a result they have been freed from all restrictions. . .

MPI slow to pay M bovis compensation – Rachel Kelly:

Some farmers are seeking help from their MP to get compensation claims paid out after their farms have been infected by Mycoplasma bovis.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said MPI’s response to compensation claims for M. bovis had improved in recent months, but it still needed to be better.

The ministry said it was aware that some farmers have found the compensation process difficult, but it was important that each claim was assessed and approved properly. . .

Carbon trees ‘opportunity’ for landowners – Toni Williams:

There is ”renewed opportunity” for landowners to get into carbon trees, Carbon Forest Services managing director Ollie Belton says.

And ”hopefully it will mean more trees (planted) on farms”.

Mr Belton was a guest speaker at a Bayleys Real Estate breakfast meeting attended by sales agents and invited guests at the Hotel Ashburton, in Ashburton, earlier this month. . .

Omapere Rangihamama Trust: a country comeback story

In 2007, the Omapere Rangihamama Trust was broke. A decade later, the Far North Trust won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Māori Excellence in Farming Award for the top sheep and beef farm in Aotearoa.

They continued to decline for the next three decades until a new management team with clear strategies and visions was put in place in 2007. . .

Fonterra’s Chilean farmers threaten to break away – Gerard Hutching:

Disgruntled Chilean dairy farmers have threatened to stop supplying Fonterra because they say they are being underpaid for their milk.

The dairy giant has a 86 per cent ownership stake of processing company Prolesur, but some small farmers in southern Chile who supply it are unhappy with their treatment.

Waikato dairy consultant Mike McBeath, who is chairman of Chilean company Chilterra, said it was looking to combine with about 200 farmers to create a rival co-operative. . .

Fonterra has bred an ‘us versus them’ mentality damaging farmers – Louise Giltrap:

I think it’s about time we got some things cleared up around how people think our dairy giant Fonterra operates.

The statement I love hearing the most is: “But you farmers own Fonterra and you should take back some control!”

And the second one just recently has in response to the grandiose five-star functions held over the last fortnight for select Fonterra staff: “It’s not the farmers’ money they are spending!”

Alrighty, so let’s start at the beginning. All the farmers get a vote and that vote is cast on what is selectively put in front of us to vote on. . .


Rural round-up

September 19, 2018

North Island farmers lose 100,000 lambs after spring storm –  Gerard Hutching:

Farmers have suffered “devastating” lamb losses in eastern and central North Island over the last two weeks with an estimated toll of about 100,000.

At current prices of $144 per mature lamb, the economic hit could be $14.4 million.

By contrast Otago and Southland farmers are expected to escape lightly from the impact of snow that has fallen on Monday.

Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson said lambing would not begin in the areas where most snow had fallen until the beginning of October. . .

NZ maple syrup industry ‘possible and promising’ – Will Harvie:

Canada produces 71 per cent of world’s maple syrup and 91 per cent of that originates from the province of Quebec. But a clutch of New Zealand academics think this country could have a maple syrup industry, despite a mild climate and no sugar maple forests.

Their preliminary research has “determined that a plantation of maple saplings for use in commercial production of maple syrup is a possible and a promising endeavour in New Zealand”, according to a presentation to be given at a chemical engineering conference in Queenstown on October 1.

The most promising places for maple syrup production are roughly Molesworth Station and inland from Westport, both in the South Island, according to their paper.   . .

Local contract a big arable win :

A big multi-year supply contract to Countdown supermarkets for local wheat and grain is regarded by the arable industry as a breakthrough.

Until this year the in-house bakeries of the more than 180 Countdown supermarkets used premixed ingredients produced here and imported from Australia.

But in a deal Christchurch-based Champion Flour Milling business innovation manager Garth Gillam said is the culmination of years of effort, the supermarkets’ bakeries have switched entirely to premixes made using locally-grown products for all in-store baking of loaves, rolls, buns and scones. . .

Rembering your purpose – the big picture – Hugh Norris:

Farmers have told us that one thing that has helped them cope better with the ups and downs of farming, is to remember why they got into farming in the first place and to think about the contribution they make to their wider community.

Keeping the bigger picture of life in mind, and not just being caught up in the endless day-to-day tasks of farming, can be protection against burnout and loss of physical and mental health.

Having a sense of meaning and purpose in life has been shown in many scientific studies to be better for our mental and physical health and even help us live longer. . .

Deer milk brand gets two food award nods – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s pioneering deer milk industry has received a further boost by being named a finalist in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

Pamu, the brand for Landcorp Farming, is a finalist in both the primary sector award and the novel food and beverage award.

Earlier this year, Pamu deer milk won the Grassroots Innovation award at the national field days at Mystery Creek. . .

M. bovis highlights need to improve, not scrap, rural Adverse Events Scheme

Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) highlights that a scheme deferring tax on income from forced livestock sales should be improved not scrapped, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) says.

“Ditching Inland Revenue’s Adverse Events Scheme would remove a valuable tool that farmers and rural businesses can use to smooth out the ups and downs of their income and expenditure after an adverse event,” said CA ANZ New Zealand Tax and Financial Services Leader, John Cuthbertson. . . 


Rural round-up

August 30, 2018

Farmer gets back on feet after cattle disease Mycoplasma strikes – Gerard Hutching:

Ashburton dairy farmer Frank Peters is feeling more optimistic than in May when he tearfully watched 300 of his “beautiful” calves being sent off to slaughter.

They had no signs of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis but the fact others in the 1400-strong herd were infected was enough for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to pronounce the death sentence.

So far he has been compensated “about $2 million” for the replacement of his cattle. Nationwide $18.9m worth of claims have been paid out, from $25.3m received. . .

Mycoplasma bovis confirmed in Northland district:

Biosecurity New Zealand today confirmed a property in Northland has tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis. It’s the first time the disease has been found in this region. 

The infected property is a dry stock beef farm. The farm, as with all other infected properties, was identified through the tracing of animals movements from known infected farms and is under a Restricted Place legal notice under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm. . .

Micro-credentials give biosecurity industry edge – Yvonne O’Hara:

Biosecurity-focused micro-credentials (MC) will be the one of the first bite-sized qualifications available from Primary ITO, once the relevant rules and paperwork are signed off.

The industry training organisation is also planning micro-credentials for dairy and horticulture.

Primary ITO chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said the relevant legislation had been passed earlier this year, which allowed training organisations to offer the micro-credentials to their workplace-based students. . .

 Guy Trafford confronts the challenges of extensive milk regulations, and relates that to the incidence of Listeriosis and its fatal outcomes:

Just when the M Bovis story appeared to have had quietened down another twist has appeared, although this may not be what the headlines intimate.

Earlier this week, it was reportedAlfons Zeestraten, the farmer MPI appeared to consider to be at the centre of where M Bovis got started, was to appear at the Invercargill District Court. The charges relate to the importation of machinery; Zeestraten has stated that he is innocent of the charges. MPI have refused to comment on the case. If the charges are indeed unrelated to the M Bovis outbreak MPI would be doing everybody a service in stating that, given the emotions and interest surrounding the disease, and stop a lot of speculation.

On to more normality, the price of milk to consumers has reared its head again, this time with Chris Lewis Federated Farmers Dairy Chair leading the calls to boycott supermarkets and support corner dairies who he finds sell it far cheaper. New Zealand has the third highest milk consumption per head of capita, however, our milk prices appear to be driven by the highest price able to be gained on the international markets. Consumers point to other countries that can sell milk at a considerable discount to what is charged in New Zealand. . .

Farmers are now ‘up to their elbows’ in calves – Ella Stokes:

Calving season is in full swing for many dairy farmers around the region. This week Southern Rural Life reporter Ella Stokes  caught up with Clydevale farmer and calf rearer Phillippa Foster.Polaris

At this time of year Phillippa Foster said she was always ”up to her elbows in calves” but said she loved the job.

She and husband Greg originally farmed in Taranaki before moving south five years ago.

They were now 50/50 sharemilkers on their Clydevale farm near Balclutha. Their children Greer (10) and Preston (12) attended Clutha Valley School . .

 

LUV training hits the spot – Mark Daniel:

Quads and light utility vehicles (LUV) get a bad rap because operators’ poor skills and riding judgement cause crashes. Quality training can reduce such incidents.

Jacks Farm Machinery, Whakatane, a forward-thinking machinery dealer in the Bay of Plenty region known for horticulture, decided to act.

This supplier of Polaris quads and LUVs was already in the business of certified modifying Ranger and Ace models to allow them to work under pergolas in kiwifruit orchards; this also allowed orchardists to switch from quads to LUVs. . . 

Not a bad apple – Gala passes Red Delicious as America’s favourite – Nathan Bomey:

At their core, Americans have changed – at least when it comes to their apple preferences.

The Red Delicious apple is expected to lose its title as the most popular apple in the US this year, a perch it held for more than half a century.

The US Apple Association is projecting that the gala apple will usurp the red delicious for the top spot.

The group, which advocates on behalf of 7500 US apple growers and 400 companies in the apple business, predicted that the US would grow 52.4 million Gala apples in 2018, up 5.9 per cent from a year earlier. . .

 

Environment water for sale in drought-hit Victoria

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has announced a sale of 20 gigalitres of water from the Goulburn Valley in Victoria.

The water will be sold udner a competitive tender which opens at 10:00am Monday September 3 2018 and will close at 2:00pm Wednesday September 5.

There will be a minimum bid size of 5 megalitres and a maximum bid size of 500ML, which the CEWH said would balance the access of small and large irrigators to the trade.


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