Rural round-up

July 11, 2018

Prized stock castration frustrates farmer – Andrew Ashton:

After waking up to find someone had castrated two of his bulls, a Hawke’s Bay farmer expected the police to arrest and charge the culprit. Instead he says he was advised to sell up and move.

Pongaroa farmer David Vitsky said the incident was the latest in a litany of stock rustling and rural crime stretching back several years.

But Hawke’s Bay police say they are unable to gather firm evidence to charge anyone.

“We’ve been plagued by a continuous raid of stock rustling, thefts and the police fail to get prosecutions,” Vitsky told Hawke’s Bay Today. . . 

Pagan’s shear determination on screen – Sally Rae:

She might be the South’s latest film star but Pagan Karauria is no prima donna actress.

Left in charge of  father Dion Morrell’s shearing business while he is in Japan for several weeks, the Alexandra woman  has been up every morning between 4.15am and 4.30am.

Her day is full as her mobile phone rings constantly and she ensures the smooth running of seven gangs. But, as she puts it, “I’m just cruising along doing what I love.”

Mrs Karauria’s passion for the shearing industry is undeniable –  she is both a shearer and  woolhandler and had the remarkable distinction of competing in both disciplines in the All Nations competition at last year’s World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill. . .

PGG Wrightson says “no comment” on report of possible $600M buyout – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says it has no comment on Australian media reporting that ASX-listed agribusiness company Elders is looking to buy it for $600 million.

A column in The Australian says Elders may seek to raise A$300 million via a rights issue to help fund the purchase, with the remainder funded via debt. The PGG Wrightson board “met on Friday to discuss the sale of the business and speculation is building that Elders has already been told that it is the preferred bidder”, The Australian reported. . .

Decision made on fate of defunct Gore meat plant – Sally Rae:

Blue Sky Meats has decided to sell its Gore plant which has been non-operational since late 2016.

Last year, the company announced it was reviewing its options for the unprofitable plant. Options ranged from reinstatement of full operations to an asset sale.

When the plant was temporarily closed, Gore staff were offered secondment to the company’s Morton Mains plant.

In a statement, the company said the decision was not made lightly but the board felt it was the best course of action for the company’s ongoing financial performance.

Blue Sky Meats has released details of its annual report for the 2018 financial year which showed a much improved result with a net profit before tax of $3.7million, compared to a $2.5 million loss the previous year. . .

The science behind the Impossible Burger – Siouxsie Wiles:

Air New Zealand has just announced The Impossible Burger is now available to a minuscule number of their customers, a move described as an “existential threat” by New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson. So what is all the fuss is about?

This week, Air New Zealand announced that Business Premier “foodies” on their Los Angeles to Auckland flights would be able to try out the “plant-based goodness” that is the Impossible Burger. Lamb + Beef New Zealand, which represents sheep and beef farmers, is clearly peeved that our national carrier wouldn’t rather showcase some great Kiwi “grass-fed, free range, GMO free, naturally raised” beef and lamb instead. Mark Patterson, New Zealand First’s spokesperson for Primary Industries even went as far as to put out a press release calling the announcement an “existential threat to New Zealand’s second-biggest export earner”. Meanwhile, vegetarians on social media are left a bit puzzled as to why Patterson is so against them having a special vegetarian option for dinner. My guess is it’s because the Impossible Burger is no ordinary veggie burger. . . 

Sheepdog trialists gather for annual battle of wits against woolly opponents in Hāwera – Catherine Groenestein:

“Wallago, Dick! Wallago, Dick!”

Dick the sheepdog’s muzzle is greying but his eyes are still fixed on the sheep. He trots with purpose, rather than running flat out like his apprentice, a youngster called Jay.

After a lifetime of farm work and winning many trials, Dick, who’s 14,  can almost work the sheep around the obstacles on a course by himself. . . 

Whopping truffle from Waipara farm sets NZ record – Gerard Hutching:

Waipara’s Jax Lee has unearthed a New Zealand record of 1.36 kilograms for a black truffle, worth thousands of dollars when she exports it.

Truffle expert Dr Ian Hall said a similar sized black (or Perigord) truffle had been dug up in Gisborne in the 1990s, “but I’m sure Jax’s would be a New Zealand record.”

Truffles may not be quite black gold, but they are considered the world’s most expensive food. The equivalent weight in gold of Lee’s example is 43 ounces, worth $54,000. . . 

A tale of two expos – Post Veganism:

A couple years ago, I attended the Natural Food Expo West for the first time. The section of the main exhibit hall that I first wandered into was row after row of nutraceutical suppliers. These suppliers, including many from China, provided many of the vitamins, minerals, herbs used to supplement and fortify many of the “natural” and “healthy” foods and drinks I’d later see a plethora of elsewhere at this expo. What was less ubiquitous was real whole food, that is food that was minimally processed, well grown or raised  and that didn’t need to be fortified or supplemented to be nutrient dense.

So this past April, I returned to Anaheim once again to attend the Natural Food Expo West held at the convention center. This year the event was larger than ever, and I only had portions of two days so couldn’t cover the entire hall. Maybe I just missed it, but all the nutraceutical suppliers seemed to be organized more around the periphery rather than taking so much area on the floor this time. Though there still was plenty of “natural” and ‘healthy” junk food fortified with vitamins, minerals, herbs and- the new rage- probiotics. However, much to my surprise, there was a larger presence of real food with more fermented foods, minimally processed seaweed items, and vinegar as well as plenty of bone broth, jerkies and other grass finished meats . . 


Rural round-up

July 9, 2018

Documentary explores Dannevirke sheep shearers’ international success – Kerry Harvey:

Overseas visitors are flocking to Dannevirke – looking to get down and dirty in the shearing shed.

The tourists come from all over Europe to learn from – and work for – Paewai-Mullins Shearing, a fourth-generation family business which is at the centre of Māori TV’s new documentary series Shear Bro.

“We’ve got the best teachers here and that’s why we get such a big influx of foreign shearers,” says Tuma Mullins, a world-class trainer who has worked in shearing sheds around the world. . .

Takapau farmer a public hit at Young Farmer of the Year Competition – Andrew Ashton:

Takapau farmer Patrick Crawshaw admits he was pushed to the “absolute limit” at this year’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final but says he “loved every minute of it”.

Speaking to Hawke’s Bay Today after taking on six other finalists over three days of gruelling competition in Invercargill, Crawshaw said he was feeling “tired but not too bad”.

“I learnt a lot through the process, it was a very cool project to go through but certainly one that challenges the body and mind more than anything. I’ve never pushed it that far before in my life. . . 

Disrupters are here – Annette Scott:

Red meat farmers are facing the biggest disruption in more than 30 years, Beef  + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor told farmers at the annual FarmSmart conference in Christchurch.

“We are facing a bigger disruption for our sector than seen in the 1980s when a lamb was $4 and a ewe 50c, if you could get killing space.

McIvor outlined seven forces B+LNZ has identified as driving disruption.

They include global and government institutions putting the impact of meat consumption on the agenda and while it will move slowly the conversation has started. . .

NZ kiwifruit experts share tips with Chinese growers – Gerard Hutching:

It used to be called the Chinese gooseberry; now New Zealand experts are showing Chinese growers how to create the perfect kiwifruit.

Even though China is the home of the kiwifruit, New Zealanders have honed the art of growing them and are now sharing their expertise.

It is all part of Zespri’s Project Bamboo, which aims to contract selected growers to supply the Tauranga-based marketer with fruit for its expanding Chinese market.

Sales in China reached $505 million at the end of June and turnover is expected to double in four years’ time. . .

Synlait applauds high performing farmers:

Synlait recognised high achievers in their milk supplier network at their annual conference in Christchurch for dairy farmers and partners on Thursday 28 June.

Nine accolades were up for grabs at the 2018 Synlait Dairy Honours Awards.

“We make a point of celebrating the significant achievements of an increasingly large number of high performing dairy farmers each year,” says John Penno, Synlait’s CEO and Managing Director. . . 

Icebreaker’s sustainability report sets new standard to follow – Lyn Meany:

Corporate sustainability reporting is almost de rigueur. According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, the number of S&P 500 companies issuing sustainability reports has grown from just 20 percent in 2011 to 82 percent in 2016. That’s quite a trend, and quite a good thing, for the companies and their stakeholders — but only if they do it right.

How can you ensure your sustainability report is a good thing for your company?

Many look at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework as the gold standard for reporting in the private sector. It is not a quick or easy framework to use — but then again, no effective sustainability report is quick or easy. You have to set goals in all the expected categories: energy; waste; water; and so forth. You have to establish metrics and track your progress against those goals, then write, design and publish your report. . .

Premium Pāmu Venison conquering Auckland and US

From The Sugar Club at SkyCity  to the  Archive Bar and Bistro on Waiheke, premium quality venison from Pāmu in partnership with Duncan Venison and Carve, is livening up the plates of over a dozen restaurants in Auckland and further afield, with more queuing up.

Duncan Venison chief executive Andy Duncan says the demand for the Pāmu Venison is growing as chefs discover the superior taste and quality of the Bistro Fillet product. . .

WA farmers go full Monty to reveal mental health issues – Cally Dupe and Zoe Keenan:

A groundswell of goodwill and humour caused by farmers getting their kit off has drawn attention to a more serious issue: mental health.

The founder of popular Instagram page The Naked Farmer wrapped up his month-long tour of Western Australia this week, visiting farmers across the State.

From Dumbleyung to Kununurra, Victorian farmer Ben Brooksby and his best mate Emma Cross photographed WA grain, sheep and cattle farmers on their broadacre and pastoral properties. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 5, 2018

Discovery that could help save the world – new diet to make cows burp less methane – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand could be the first country in the world to change a cow’s diet so it burps out less methane.

Dutch nutrition company Royal DSM is developing a commercial feed additive which it hopes will be on the market in two years’ time. Studies had shown it could reduce up to 30 per cent of cattle methane in intensive farm systems.

It is focusing on New Zealand because the country’s livestock produce a lot of methane, one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

A single dairy cow generates about 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year in the form of methane (CH4). . .

Robotic technology running at Alliance Dannevirke plant :

State-of-the-art robotic technology is now running as part of the Alliance Group’s $10.6 million investment in its Dannevirke meat processing site.

The primal/middle cutting machinery is part of the co-operative’s investment programme in the plant which also included a redsigning the boning room.

The technology is the most advanced system of its kind in New Zealand. The custom-built primal/middle cutting technology features an x-ray unit which analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

It automatically adjusts to a wide variation in carcass size, a challenge in the red meat processing sector. The technology also minimises waste and improves the accuracy of the cut. . .

New fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and NZ merino :

A unique, environmentally friendly fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and a New Zealand merino wool blend will be displayed as part of the Material Innovation exhibition at the London Design Museum.

The material, which was created by renowned Danish designers Kvadrat, was designed to be a sustainable replacement for leather in the latest Range Rover model.

Jaguar Land Rover NZ sales operations manager Ben Montgomery says the merino wool blend was chosen by the designers for its premium characteristics. . . 

Kiwi meat can cut the mustard – Annette Scott:

There are no facts in the future. It’s all just an educated or opinionated guess, agri-futurist and digital strategist Melissa Clark-Reynolds told 250 sheep and beef farmers in Christchurch.

In her keynote address to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s FarmSmart 2018 Clark-Reynolds said the biggest challenges in futureproofing farming will come in a changing business farming model.

“The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed,” she said. . . 

LIC takes disease precautions – Glenys Christian:

Breeding companies are gearing up for the busy spring mating season with extra measures to stop the spread of Mycoplasma bovis between dairy farms.

LIC shareholder councillor Mark Meyer, who farms at Tangiteroria, told a farmer meeting in Dargaville AI technicians have already inspected nearly 5000 dairy farms to make sure they have one major suitable entry point and footbaths were in place.

There was 100% compliance with 60 technicians in the field for winter milk inseminations despite some pushback from farmers to start with, he said.  . . 

Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? ‘Sell out as fast as you can’ – Phil McCausland:

Small-dairy farmers are getting squeezed out by corporate agriculture. “That is not what America is about,” a struggling farmer said.

All Curtis Coombs wanted was to raise cows and run his family’s dairy farm in this slice of Kentucky hill country, less than 35 miles from Louisville. But a few weeks ago, he was forced to sell his milking herd of 82 cows, putting an end to his family’s nearly 70-year dairy business.

On a rain-drenched Monday, Coombs, his father and his uncle struggled to shove their last 13 cows into a trailer destined for auction and slaughter. As the earthy smell of manure filled the air, the men yelled for the Holsteins to move and urged them forward with the whack of a plastic stick. . . 


Rural round-up

July 4, 2018

Dairy prices tumble 5% at latest auction – Gerard Hutching:

Prices plunged at the latest global dairy auction by 5 per cent per cent to reach an average of US$3232, the most dramatic decrease seen in the index this year.

The price for New Zealand’s key export whole milk powder (WMP) was US$2905, a fall of 7.3 per cent. Futures markets had suggested WMP might fall by 1 per cent. 

AgriHQ said Fonterra’s latest Global Dairy Update appeared to have given the market the jitters, especially for WMP. . . 

Trade dispute causes dairy prices to tumble – Fran O’Leary:

Dairy markets appear to be reacting negatively to President Donald Trump’s decision to place tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum, and on a number of Chinese products.

“In retaliation, Mexico announced that they will place a tariff on U.S. cheese, and China announced tariffs on some dairy products, corn, soybeans and other products. Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. cheese,” says Bob Cropp, University of Wisconsin Extension dairy economist.

“In 2017, Mexico accounted for 28.3% of U.S. cheese exports. While these tariffs didn’t take effect until July, and the degree of impact on U.S. dairy exports is unknown at this time, dairy product prices have already fallen.” . . 

2019 Zanda McDonald Award now open:

Talented young agri-leaders from Australia and New Zealand are being urged to apply for the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award. Applications for this prestigious award open today, with an impressive prize package worth over $50,000 up for grabs.

Now in its fifth year, the award provides the winner with an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip, $1,000 cash, a place on Rabobank’s Farm Managers Course, and access to the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group – a network of over 150 influential agri-business men and women from across Australasia.

Richard Rains, Chairman of the Zanda McDonald Award, says the award provides a fantastic opportunity for young agricultural leaders to further their career and their personal development. . . 

Backing our Southern men:

There’s something magical about having a hometown advantage.

But that advantage comes with a twist for two southern men who are competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Invercargill this week.

Technically, there are two southerners competing in the final, but they represent different regions in the contest. 

Logan Wallace, 28, leases his parents farm at Waipahi in south Otago and is the Otago-Southland regional finalist, while Cameron Black, 25, who is based in Christchurch as a rural consultant for New Zealand Agri Brokers is the Aorangi regional finalist. . . 

A2 Synlait agree to extend infant formula supply deal – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy marketer A2 Milk and milk processor Synlait Milk have agreed to extend their infant formula supply deal and increase the volume of formula Synlait will supply as the two continue to focus on sales in the lucrative Chinese market.

A2 and Synlait first signed a supply agreement in 2012 to support the milk marketing firm’s plans to launch infant formula sales into China, and inked a new deal in August 2016 providing for increased scale if market demand warranted it.

The companies’ arrangements were for a minimum of five years from 2016, with a rolling three-year term from August this year, but have been extended by two years so will last until at least July 2023. Synlait will increase the volume of infant formula products it is A2’s exclusive supplier for and increase its committed production capacity. . .

Latest report from Land and Water Forum:

The Government has said it will act immediately on some recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. This includes prioritising action in the most “at-risk” catchments.

Advice was sought by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor on a number of issues on waterways and the primary sector.

“The Government will act on some of the Forum’s recommendations immediately, while the remaining recommendations will be considered in more detail as part of our work programme,” David Parker said. . .

First female arable chair joins Feds national board:

Federated Farmers has a new board member as a result of elections held during last week’s national conference in Wellington.

Karen Williams, who was elected arable chairperson at that industry group’s annual meeting in Timaru in June, was elected to the national board by delegates from Federated Farmers’ 24 provinces. She replaces Guy Wigley, who stepped down after three years as arable leader. . . 

A new chapter in the history of Vidal – one of New Zealand’s oldest wineries:

On June 30 the doors of the Vidal Estate winery and restaurant in Hastings closed for the last time. It was a historic moment for the winery established by pioneer Anthony Vidal in 1905, but the future of Vidal Estate looks bright with the relocation to a new state-of-the-art winery located in the Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay.

To make great wine, the closer to the vineyards the better, said Hugh Crichton, winemaker at Vidal Estate. “It was an exciting time to move our winemaking base out to the Gimblett Gravels for vintage 2018. While it has been immensely satisfying to ferment and age our wines in the historic cellars in Hastings there’s no denying there were challenges. Being closer to our vineyards and working within a winery designed for quality will without a doubt further push us into the premium market”. . . .

Leading New Zealand winery-based hospitality business placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest winery-based tourism and hospitality operations – encompassing vineyards, a function centre, restaurant, and high-end accommodation – has been placed on the market for sale.

Mahana Estates just west of Nelson generates income from four revenue streams which operate both independently and conjunction with each other.

The Mahana Estates property portfolio encompasses:
• A 21-hectare vineyard planted in pinot noir, pinot gris, Riesling and chardonnay
• A nine hectare sauvignon blanc vineyard in the nearby region of Hope
• A 2,589 square metre four-level winery capable of crushing 500 tonnes of grapes annually and sustained by its own on-site cellaring facility and bottling plant which operates on a gravity feed system to minimize the need for pumps . . 

Aussie grain giant puts mega farm up for sale – Chris Mccullough:

The owner of the 495,000 acre farm is asking $72 to $82 million
for what is one of Australia’s largest arable operations

One of Australia’s biggest arable farms extending to 495,000 acres is up for sale at a price tag of $72 to $82 million.

Western Australian grain giant John Nicoletti decided to retire from grain farming at 64 years old. . .


Rural round-up

July 1, 2018

Farmers stop cow abuser from working with animals unsupervised – Gerard Hutching:

The Northland contract milker caught hitting cows by hidden cameras has been banned from working unsupervised around animals.

Owners of the dairy farm said “as lifelong and committed dairy farmers we are shocked and deeply saddened” by the reports of the ill treatment of some stock on their farm.

“As of today the contract milker concerned has been removed from all duties requiring unsupervised contact with stock pending the outcome of due process with regard to our contractual obligations,” they said in a statement.

The man had earlier been described as a sharemilker, but the owners clarified that he is a contract milker. Sharemilkers own their own cows, whereas contract milkers work with a farm owner’s livestock. . . 

Reigning Young Farmer grand final winner ready for 50th anniversary – Mary-Jo Tohill:

If he had not won the FMG Young Farmer of the Year last year, Lovells Flat sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead would be in Invercargill giving it another go next week.

The 50th anniversary event kicks off in Invercargill on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

“I would be studying my backside off right now to have another go,” the 29-year-old said.

It is now up to another past grand finalist and this year’s Otago-Southland regional winner Logan Wallace, who farms at Waipahi, to have a shot at the Southland-based grand final. . .

Youngsters get say on future :

Farmstrong has developed a new online survey to better understand the pressures facing younger farmers and farm workers and ask them what works to improve their wellbeing.

The nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative provides tools and resources for farmers, growers and farm workers to help them better cope with the ups and downs of farming.

It will help provide a clearer picture of the things that might work to improve the wellbeing of younger farmers and farm workers.  . . 

Why there’s no rural-urban divide when it comes to caring for the environment – Melissa Clark-Reynolds:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says farmers care just as much about the environment as everyone else, and with its new Environment Strategy and Implementation plan, it plans to help sheep and beef farmers promote reduced carbon emissions, cleaner water, thriving biodiversity, and healthy productive soils. 

I recently spoke at a farmer’s event in Christchurch with a few hundred sheep and beef farmers from the northern part of the South Island. At the end of my talk, an older farmer came up to me and asked why I hadn’t talked about organics. On my way home, someone tweeted me that they’d “always said we should have declared all of New Zealand organic and GMO-free. The price premium could have been whatever we asked for.”

At the Beef + Lamb AGM recently, a group of farmers (mixed ages, from their 20s through to their 60s) asked me why I hadn’t talked more about Regenerative Agriculture – farming that heals the land, the lifeforms that dwell there, and the communities of people too. The fact that I keep being surprised by this stuff says more about me as an urban Kiwi than it does about farmers. . .

Nutrient management valuable tool if handled correctly says Allen:

The National Party’s announcement of bipartisan support for the Climate Change Commission last week made it clear that environmental conservation is currently at the forefront of political and social concern in this country.

Part of that concern is the issue of national water quality, breached by David Parker several weeks ago with his announcement of plans to introduce nationwide farm nutrient limits.

A particular point of contention was the suggestion that destocking would have to take place in certain areas to meet the new limits. However, Federated Farmers national board member Chris Allen says if all else fails, it’s just something some farmers may have to accept: . .

What makes a good farmer – Blue North:

What are the attributes of a really good farmer? Would they include a penchant for order and neatness? A single-minded focus on efficiency and yield maximization? A bullet-proof resolve in the face of risk? What about drive for expansion and scale or technical proficiency? While some or all of these may currently inform our rating of farmers, I want to propose some alternative attributes in response to this question. But before getting there, some context is needed.

One of the formative ideas, probably the most important one, that shaped our thinking when we started Blue North in 2011, and which fundamentally shapes what we do to this day, is understanding farmers as the key role-players in determining the sustainability of food supply-chains, and, by extrapolation, the sustainability of mankind as a whole. . .

What are the challenges facing farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .


Rural round-up

June 21, 2018

Shearing the way to land ownership for record-breaking shearers Rowly and Ingrid Smith – Kate Taylor:

Two record-breaking shearers are working their way into land ownership in Hawke’s Bay. Kate Taylor reports.

What does a champion shearer do on his days off? His own shearing.

Rowland (Rowly) and Ingrid Smith bought their 28ha block at Maraekakaho in Hawke’s Bay four and a half years ago. He’s still shearing full time but is starting a seasonal contracting business and the couple hope to buy more land in the future.

Their first few years as landowners saw all their spare cash put back into development including fencing and a new shearing shed.

They’ve since bought a 6000 square metre block down the road and plan to live there while they build a new house. . .

Drive for success in NZ apple and pear industry – Georgia May Gilbertson:

Six young people from Hawke’s Bay are on a mission to get others like them to join their world leading apple and pear industry.

They are part of a new nation-wide recruitment campaign to raise more awareness about all the new career opportunities for young Kiwis looking for a bright future with rewarding job prospects.

New Zealand Apples & Pears capability development manager Erin Simpson said job attraction is a far bigger challenge than job creation for the industry, as horticulture has, in the past, struggled to gain wider appeal. . .

Stock cartage rates likely to rise – Nigel Malthus:

 Farmers will not get stock moved if trucking companies do not get better freight rates, according to the Road Transport Forum (RTF).

“We’re at the point where people won’t get stock moved; something has to give here,” Ken Shirley, RTF chief executive told Rural News.

“All these additional biosecurity conditions and precautions we accept are necessary, but someone has to be prepared to pay for them and surely that’s the primary sector’s problem.” . . 

New Zealand’s exclusive avocado access to Australia under threat – Gerard Hutching:

Mexico, Peru and Chile are eyeing up exporting avocados to Australia, threatening New Zealand’s exclusive access to the lucrative market.

Australia is New Zealand’s number one market for avocados, worth $88 million in sales in the 2017-18 year. Total exports were $105m.

However following the signing of  the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) deal, Mexico, Peru and Chile have signalled they are keen for access to Australia in particular.

They also want to sell into New Zealand but it could take some years and would not necessarily result in cheaper avocados, Avocados NZ chief executive Jen Scoular said . .

Get ready for the ‘internet of cows’ – Ross Marowits:

Get ready for the “internet of cows.”

Generations of farmers have relied on knowledge and family expertise to grow food, but the sector is set for a surge of disruption at the hands of made-in-Canada artificial intelligence-powered systems.

AI is now helping farmers across the country to increase yields, save costs and minimize environmental damage. Instead of spreading fertilizer across acres of fields or spraying entire orchards with herbicides, they can now target their efforts for maximum effect. . .

Waving the jersey for dairying – Brad Markam:

 The life’s work of a Waikato Jersey breeder will be used to help inspire students about careers in the agri-food sector.

Sixty-one cows from the herd of the late Bobbie Backhouse have been bought by NZ Young Farmers for its Auckland dairy farm.

The 74ha property was gifted to the organisation by Donald Pearson last year.

“Bobbie Backhouse was a passionate Jersey breeder who farmed near Thames. Sadly, she passed away in early 2016,” says Donald Pearson Farm board chair Julie Pirie. . .

Industry looks to emerging agri-tech to further boost farm productivity :

Productivity on UK farms has improved significantly, according to new figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The figures, in the report ‘Total factor productivity of the UK agriculture industry’, provides the first estimate for 2017.

It shows that total factor productivity – a measure of how well inputs are converted into outputs, giving an indication of the efficiency and competitiveness of the agriculture industry – was up by 2.9 per cent last year. . . 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2018

Fieldays 2018: NZ farming ‘boxes above its weight’

Nearly 25,000 people attended day one of the 50th New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation opened this year’s event on Wednesday speaking of the changes the agricultural industry has seen over the last 50 years and introduced this year’s theme of the future of farming.

“New Zealand and our agricultural industry is vastly different to what it was in 1969 largely driven by our hunger and desire to be leaders in our special industry,” he said. . .

Time for strugglers to sell?

Heavily indebted farmers may be under pressure from their banks to sell up on the rising farm market to get out of their debt.

“Reading between the lines, it might be a case of the banks suggesting to the perennial strugglers that it is time to sell up,” said Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard.

Banks may have been waiting “until things are looking rosy” on farm prices before encouraging customers to look at their options.

Hoggard was commenting on the May 2018 Federated Farmers’ Banking Survey, which showed that more farmers are feeling under financial pressure, and are less satisfied with their banks. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis threatens to put a dampener on children’s calf day – Gerard Hutching:

Girls at Hiwinui School in Manawatu have already started choosing names for the calves they are eagerly anticipating arriving in a few weeks’ time.

But this year the bogey of Mycoplasma bovis might be the party pooper that diminishes the fun for thousands of children who enjoy the traditional lamb and calf day at their local schools.

Each spring children attending rural schools bring in the animals they have raised since birth to show their classmates, and Hiwinui with a roll of 143 is no exception. . .

Farmers deserve answers – Steve Cranston:

Most farmers would be surprised to learn there is no evidence that New Zealand agriculture is warming the planet.

All that farmers have heard from scientists, the Government and at times their own companies is that agriculture is a major contributor to NZ’s emissions.

However, what everyone forgot to tell the farmers is that no direct correlation exists between methane emissions and global warming. The problem is that the accounting method used fails to acknowledge the fact methane is constantly degrading back to CO2, and it is only when emissions exceed degradation that warming will occur. . .

Bachelors and bachelorettes go head-to-head for Rural Catch of the Year – Ruby Nyika:

There’s no rose ceremony, but the love-catch competition might just be fiercer than ever. 

The Rural Bachelor – a 13-year-running Fieldays favourite – has been revamped to the Rural Catch of the Year. 

For the first time rural women join the men vying to be crowned the most eligible rural singleton.  . .

Waikato’s Te Poi farm changes hands after 103 years with Bell family – Kelly Tantau:

A farm in rural Waikato has history seeping into its soil.

For 103 years, one bloodline resided on the 56 hectare plot in Te Poi, living through two World Wars, economic changes, births and deaths.

The family was the Bells; pioneers of their trade and strong-willed labourers well-known in the small town 9km from Matamata.

Allan Bell, the grandson of the farm’s first owners John and Minnie Bell, said the family broke new ground. . .

 60 years of milk – Co-op farmer celebrates diamond supply anniversary:

When 88-year-old Raglan farmer Jim Bardsley first started supplying Fonterra, he remembers separating his own milk.

Always  the inventor, Jim’s flying fox was one of many memories shared by friends and family at his retirement lunch. Shareholders’ Councillor Ross Wallis and Raglan Area Manager Brendan Arnet were also on hand to congratulate Jim on six decades of supply. . . 


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