Rural round-up

September 28, 2018

NZ farmer confidence slides into negative territory– Rabobank:

New Zealand farmer confidence has eased from the previous quarter and is now at net negative levels for the first time since early 2016.

The third quarterly survey for the year – completed earlier this month – has shown net farmer confidence has fallen to -three per cent, down from +two per cent recorded in the June 2018 survey.

The survey found a fall in the number of farmers expecting agricultural economy conditions to improve in the coming 12 months (down to 20 per cent from 26 per cent last quarter) as well as those expecting conditions to worsen (23 per cent from 24 per cent previously) while an increased number of New Zealand farmers were expecting the performance of the agricultural economy to stay the same (54 per cent from 46 per cent last survey). . .

Room for improvement despite progress on M. bovis awareness:

Survey shows room for improvement despite progress on M. bovis awareness

More than half of sheep and beef farmers have made changes to reduce the risk of their stock becoming infected by Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), according to research by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

57 per cent of farmers recently surveyed reported they had taken precautions against the disease while 71 per cent of farmers feel that they have a high level of knowledge on how to protect their stock from M. bovis.

Around a third of farmers surveyed (34 per cent) said they had implemented a buffer zone between them and their neighbours’ stock, as well as communicating with their neighbours about stock on the boundary. . . 

A jigsaw with bits missing – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis had a head-start on officials trying to eradicate it but Nait is helping them catch up.

While Nait is not perfect it has enabled the eradication attempt that otherwise might not have been possible, Ministry for Primary Industries intelligence group manager Alix Barclay says.

That head-start has, over time, meant changes to the design of surveillance and how it is implemented, Barclay said.

The intelligence team is responsible for tracing the disease, surveillance, targeting of sampling, data management and the diagnostic laboratory systems. . . 

Westland Milk’s payout at low end of guidance; cuts 2019 forecast – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products has cut its forecast for the 2019 season due to weak global butter prices and announced a farmgate return near the bottom end of guidance.

New Zealand’s third-largest dairy company said its final milk payout for the 2018 season was $6.12 per kilo of milk solids, less a 5 cent retention. That delivered a net average result for shareholders of $6.07 per kgMS. The cooperative had forecast a payout of $6.10 to $6.40 and the retention enabled it to report a pre-tax profit of $3.3 million for the 12 months ended July 31. . .

Tatua Financial Results for the Year Ended 31 July 2018:

The Tatua Board or Directors and Executive met on 26 September 2018 to consider the financial results for the 2017/18 season and decide on the final payout to our Suppliers. We are pleased to report that Tatua has had a good year and has achieved record Group revenue of $357 million, and earnings of $127 million.

Our focus on growing our value-add businesses has contributed significant additional revenue and our bulk ingredient product mix has served us well. . .

Selling bulls but keeping semen rights – Alan Williams:

Te Mania Stud is looking for sons of its sale-topping Australian sire to move the Angus breed forward.

Starting this year the stud is keeping a 50% interest in the semen of all the bulls it sells.

“This keeps us protected if one of the bulls comes through with brilliant traits and we can get that semen back to use through our dam line,” stock manager Will Wilding said.

The deal involves only semen sales. There’s no income-share when buyers use the bulls for physical mating.

Semen from Te Mania Garth was brought from Australia and used to breed the top-priced rising  . .

2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries open October 1st:

With less than a week until entries open in the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional competitions are gathering in Rotorua for the annual conference to fine tune processes and launch events.

General Manager Chris Keeping says the conference is an opportunity for the many volunteers from around the country to come together after a busy winter season. “The conference will be a busy few days, bringing everyone up-to-date with the changes made to the entry criteria and visa requirements,” she says. . .

On the brink of innovative Ag technology acceptance: A Kenyan farmer’s perspective – Gilbert Arap Bor:

Farmers have good years and bad years. Here in Kenya, however, the good years never have seemed quite as good as they should be and the bad years have felt worse than necessary.

That’s because we can’t take advantage of a tool that farmers in much of the developed world take for granted: GMO crops. In many countries, they’ve transformed farming, helping farmers contend with weeds, pests, and drought. In my country, we’re still languishing in the 20th century, waiting for the arrival of this 21st-century technology.

We may in fact be on the brink of embracing innovative technology for agriculture, but the long and winding road to this welcome destination has been full of frustration and false starts. We’ve been at it for an entire generation. Africa already faces plenty of problems: poverty, climate change, a poor infrastructure, political instability, corruption and more. So the failure of Kenya and most other African nations to take up GMOs is especially painful because this problem is almost entirely self-imposed. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2018

Ag sector backs gas reductions – Hugh Stringleman:

The primary sector has put forward a harmonious position in more than 14,000 submissions on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill and New Zealand’s 2050 targets, policies and budgets.

All agricultural and horticultural bodies have supported option two for emissions reductions for long-lived greenhouse gases and stabilisation for short-lived gases like methane.

The six-week public consultation, Our Climate Our Say, began in early June and has now closed so the Ministry for the Environment can collate the responses. . .

Nitrogen is necessary for food production – Jacqueline Rowarth:

In a world of 7.64 billion human mouths the food production system cannot cope without the use of nitrogen fertiliser.

It is estimated the Haber-Bosch process, which is fundamental in the production of ammonia (the precursor to the making of nitrogenous fertiliser), feeds 50% of the global population. 

Though some sectors of the world are now overweight because food is both available and cheap, in other parts of the world food security and malnourishment are still problems. 

Remove nitrogen fertiliser from the equation and the problems will increase. . . 

Tegel Foods calls for hearings on Kaipara’s mega chicken farm plans to be suspended – Annette Lambly:

A controversial application to farm nine million chickens a year on a proposed free range poultry farm in Northland has been suspended.

Applicant Tegel Foods said it needed more time to respond to issues raised by Northland Regional Council and Kaipara District Council ahead of a hearing planned for August 8.

Thousands of people have opposed the plans over concerns about the smell the farm, near Dargaville, could cause. . .

Chiefs prop turns award winning farmer – Esther Taunton:

Former Chiefs prop Shane Cleaver talks about the day his promising rugby career ended in blunt terms.

“I walked off the field and chucked the boots in the bin,” he says. “I knew I was done after that.”

Plagued by concussion throughout his six-year professional career, Cleaver was playing for Taranaki against Southland in 2013 when yet another knock to the head left him out cold.  

“Before that game I was already struggling.  I’d had a knock the week before and I was in the toilet trying not to spew pre-game, I was dizzy, I was really battling,” he says. . .

Turning the dirt on carbon farming:

With growing knowledge and new tools, carbon farming is emerging as a major consideration for agriculture in its effort to combat climate change.

The USA lead the world in exploring the sequestering of carbon in soil. Californian Jeff Creque, who has a PhD in rangeland ecology, has been to the fore since the early 2000s, co-founding the Marin Carbon Project (MCP), a consortium of university researchers, county and federal agencies, non-profits and a science advisory task force.

“Most folks don’t understand soil and its potential as a carbon sink,” Creque told Fonterra. “And most (of) agriculture does not understand or engage with that process either. Carbon has been missing from our agricultural curricula for a very long time and we see it finally coming back into the conversation today.” . .

Kenyan Farmer: on cusp of a biotech revolution, Africa faces resistance from Europe and anti-GMO activists – Bilbert arap Bor:

Farmers have good years and bad years. Here in Kenya, however, the good years never seemed quite as good as they could have been and the bad years have felt worse than necessary.

Why?

It’s because we can’t take advantage of tools that farmers in much of the developed world take for granted: genetically engineered crops, often referred to as GMOs. In many countries, they’ve transformed farming, helping farmers contend with weeds, pests and drought. In my country, Kenya, we’re still languishing in the 20thcentury, waiting for the arrival of this 21st-century technology. . .

 


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

March 30, 2018

P****d off Feds want straight thinking – Pam Tipa:

When people say New Zealand should be a leader in agricultural climate change technology and systems, Feds climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard says he gets “pissed off”.

“We are already a leader, if you look at carbon footprint per km of land or per kilo of milk solids or whatever,” he told Dairy News.

“Most things we produce we are already producing at world’s best or we are setting the target for world’s best. I don’t know how much more of a leader you can be. . .

Methane not a villain:

Many people do not grasp that methane is a short-lived gas that recycles, says Feds climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard.

This statement in the PCE report is important, he says: “Given its shorter lifetime, emitting methane will not [cause] the same irreversible inter-generational warming that carbon dioxide or the release of nitrous oxide have.”

“It was good to hear that being mentioned,” says Hoggard. . .

Pampered pets push venison prices:

A growing appetite for venison from a booming global pet food market has helped drive autumn venison schedules to record highs.

While schedule prices normally peak in spring, pampered pets have continued to push prices upward to an autumn peak of $11/kg.

Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Dan Coup said the popularity of venison as a pet food component is driven by a worldwide shift in attitudes towards companion animals from owners who want the best for their pets.

That includes an increasing interest in feeding them natural paleo-type diets. . . 

‘Fitbit for cows’ set to revolutionise beef industry from paddock to plate – Tom major:

An electronic tracking ear tag being developed for cattle could forever change the way graziers manage both livestock and farmland.

Researchers from James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville are collaborating with the Queensland Department of Science, the CSIRO and commercial partner Ceres Tag to adapt GPS technology for small, affordable livestock ear tags.

Computational chemistry expert, Ian Atkinson said the project would ultimately enable more accurate assessment of livestock condition. . . 

What if Africa’s farmers had access to needed seed technology? – Gilbert Arap Bor:

We’ve been told by trusted media and researchers that Kenya is on the brink of accepting biotechnology in agriculture.  I’ve said it myself. And now, President Kenyatta appears to be saying the same.  Business Daily recently reported “President Uhuru Kenyatta is betting on mass production of genetically modified cotton to create 50,000 jobs.”  

Another recent report, this one by the Africa Center for Biosciences International (CABI) affirms that “agriculture is essential for sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth and yet average crop yields in Africa are among the lowest in the world.  Over 80% rely on it but many face challenges in growing sufficient good quality produce”.

True, farmers know that some years are good and some years are bad. . . 

Morrisons promises all lamb sold over Easter will be British – Katie Grant:

Morrisons has pledged that all of the lamb it sells this Easter will be British. The supermarket said it had taken the decision not to offer lamb sourced from New Zealand or Australia over Easter after “listening to customers”.

Supporting British farmers

Over two thirds (68 per cent) of shoppers said they wanted to support British farmers, according to the results of a YouGov poll commissioned by Morrisons last year. . .


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