Rural round-up

November 27, 2019

Australian pair are here to learn – Sally Rae:

When 2019 Zanda McDonald Award joint winners Shannon Landmark and Luke Evans visited Omarama last week, it truly was a flying visit.

The Australian pair flew into the Waitaki Valley township on a Pilatus aircraft that had been chauffeuring them around the country on a mentoring trip, as part of their prize package.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014, in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property. . .

Seaweed products pioneer named supreme winner in rural women business awards – Angie Skerrett:

A company that has pioneered the use of seaweed products has won the supreme award in this year’s NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards. 

The annual awards celebrate and showcase entrepreneurship and innovation by rural women.

At a function in the Banquet Hall at Parliament, AgriSea Business Development Manager Clare Bradley accepted the supreme award for the Paeroa-based family business.  . . 

AgriSea specialises in the manufacture of macro-algae concentrates and bioactive extractions to add high-value nutrition for soil, plant, animal and human health.  . . 

Seeking sustainability at scale – Neal Wallace:

Ross and Jo Hay are typical of thousands of young farming couples who work hard and continually search for a chance to grow and get ahead. Neal Wallace met the North Otago couple to find out how they are establishing their careers. 

Ross and Jo Hay are not oblivious to the uncertainty associated with the clouds of rules looming on the farming horizon but they have decided to take a glass half full approach.

Fuelled with enthusiasm and determination to pursue a farming career the Hays are confident there will be opportunity among the plethora of Government rules bearing down on the sector.

“People got through the 1980s,” Ross says. . .

Blueberry picking looms – Abbey Palmer:

As leaves fall and berries begin to change from green to blue, Southland’s only blueberry farm is gearing up for another season of hand-picked fun.

With 220 hectares of land planted in bushes, Otautau’s Blueberry Country will be opening its gates to the public this summer for the eight-week season.

Blueberry Country general manager Simon Bardon said the 10 staff members were hoping to be able to welcome visiting pickers from early January through till the end of February.

“One of the best parts of blueberry picking season is seeing all of the families out and kids knackered from running up and down the orchards,” Mr Bardon said. . .

 

Happy Cow Diaries part 4: We’re back, and ready to take on industrial dairying – Glen Herud:

Happy Cow Milk is poised to relaunch with a new business model and an invention that could revolutionise dairy production, explains founder Glen Herud, in the latest instalment of his Spinoff series documenting the company’s fall and rise again.

Just as we were chilling the beers for our equity crowdfunding launch last Thursday we crossed the line. We cracked those beers instead, because by the time I got home we had fulfilled our target of raising $400,000. After months of work it was a huge relief to reach our goal, and we did it in just 8 hours and 8 minutes.

It was a rare day of success in what sometimes feels like an endless start-up slog. The best part for me is the confirmation that New Zealanders are ready for change. They want solutions that reduce emissions, look after animals, protect waterways and reduce plastics. And they want to connect with farmers and food production in a more positive way . .

Staring into oblivion: People of the drought lands watch their world disappear – Rob Harris:

It’s 5.45am in Casino, just over an hour’s drive inland from Byron Bay in northern NSW, and the smoke from weeks of bushfires lingers, casting a gloomy haze over the sunrise.

The early shift at the town’s meat works has filed in and the piercing noise of an electric hand saw cutting its way through carcass after carcass drowns out the Monday morning chatter.

The Northern Co-operative Meat Company is the town’s biggest private employer with 1000 people – 10 per cent of Casino’s population – relying on a constant flow of cattle to make ends meet. . .


Rural round-up

June 28, 2019

More good farmland lost forever:

News that two large New Zealand farms have been sold off-shore, largely for forestry is depressing according to 50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick. The same owner has purchased both properties.

One farm is 734,700 hectares at Eketahuna that sold for $3.35 million. The other is 1037,000 hectares in Wairoa sold for $6 million.

“It’s bad enough having the land sold to foreigners but having good productive farmland sold for forestry and subdivision is criminal,” Mike Butterick said. . .

Decision time at Westland for Yili bid – Keith Woodford:

The time has come when Westland’s dairy farmers must make their decision. Do they want to take the money and go with Chinese mega-company Yili, or do they wish to struggle on as a co-operative?  We will know the answer after the July 4 vote.

If farmers vote to take the money, it will then be up to the Government to agree or refuse to accept Yili as the new owner. I will be surprised if they disallow the sale under the relevant OIO provisions. The ramifications of that would be severe.

Also important is whether or not the approval from Government is quick or drawn out. It is in no-one’s interest that it be drawn out, but OIO approvals can be remarkably slow.  Yili could step away if approval is not forthcoming by 31 October. . . 

NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili – Point of Order:

Is   Westland  Milk   one of  NZ’s  “key  strategic assets”?

NZ  First  is adamant  it is and believes the government  should be a  applying a  “national interest test”   to the proposed  sale of the company  to the Chinese  dairy giant Yili.

Those  who  see  heavily indebted  companies  like Westland Milk struggling to  make a profit and  not  even  matching  Fonterra’s payout  to its suppliers might take a  cooler view  to  the proposed  sale. . . 

Minister heaps more costs on farmers:

The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed he hasn’t bothered asking his officials the costs farmers will face as a result of the high methane target the Government is imposing, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“When questioned in Primary Production Select Committee Damien O’Connor scrambled to confirm he’d seen no specific advice for costs per farm, nor has he even asked for any.

“Cabinet have blindly cooked up a methane reduction target of 24-47 per cent, despite scientific evidence suggesting this is too high and without knowing the costs per average farm and the impact it will have on rural communities. . .

Downsizing opens gate to A2/A2 farm:

He’s a dairy farmer with a passion for breeding, striving to be “at the front of the game.” She’s a converted city-girl who fell in love with the dairy farmer, despite her aversion to typical milk.

It doesn’t agree too well with my system,” Stacey White says.

“I used to have soy and almond milk and I’ve tried both them and rice milk; nothing’s really appealed in terms of taste, and baking with those substitutes doesn’t really work either.” 

So when Stacey became aware of A2/A2 milk 18 months ago, she tried it out and found it tasty, creamy, and, crucially, easily digestible.*  . . 

LIC migrates to NZX’s Main Board:

Herd improvement and agritech co-operative LIC will move to the Main Board of the NZX (NZSX) next month, transferring from the Alternative Board.

This comes as NZX announced it will move to a single equities board from July 1 and close the NZAX and NXT.

Of the companies migrating, LIC is the largest by market capitalisation, at approximately $109 million.

There are around 14 agritech companies featured on the NZX Main Board and only one other farmer-owned co-operative (Fonterra). . . 

How NZ farming is like a Steinway piano – Glen Herud:

I wonder if we rely too much on our pasture-based farming or our beautiful scenery or our clean image.

What if the things we think are our strengths are actually weaknesses?

Steinway and Sons had been the leading maker of grand pianos since 1853 when their business was crippled by Yamaha.

Professor Howard Yu explains how Steinway held on to their main strength for far too long and it eventually became a weakness. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 17, 2019

Time for agricultural industry to lead the way – Anna Campbell:

It seems a long time ago that National MP Shane Ardern rode ”Myrtle”, his elderly tractor, up the parliamentary steps in protest at the proposed ”fart tax”.

That was back in 2003 and there have been many iterations of carbon reduction schemes since then with agriculture sliding along relatively unscathed. One did feel that it was only a matter of time before the grace period was over. Climate change has not gone away, a raft of regulations are on their way, but they do look a little different from what we were expecting.

The biggest difference to the current scheme versus previous schemes is the split gas regime, where methane is treated separately due to its shorter lifespan in the atmosphere – the target is a 10% reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, with a provisional reduction of 24% to 47% by 2050. . . 

‘Major reset’ for honey industry – Yvone O’Hara:

There has been strong growth by the honey industry during the past few years but with demand and prices dropping by as much as 50% compared to the previous season, there will be belt tightening and rationalisation, Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos says.

She said the strong growth and good returns in the past few years had attracted a lot of new entrants to the industry.

However, the domestic and international markets have been ”a bit sluggish”. . . 

Katie Milne responds to Shane Jones’ claim that farmers are ‘moaners‘:

Farmers have come under fire this week from MP Shane Jones, who says they need to stop “bitching and moaning”. Jones launched into farmers while talking to host Jamie Mackay on The Country yesterday. But what do farmers say in response? Mackay catches up with one of Jones’ targets, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne, who says the urban/rural divide has damaged people’s opinions of farmers.

“I don’t like the term ‘whingeing’,” says Katie Milne. “But we do like to highlight and try to talk to the issues that do affect us that people do have control over.”

The Federated Farmers president is responding to claims from the Minister of Forestry and Regional Economic Development Shane Jones that farmers are moaners. . . 

Facts ‘overrated’ in farming’s fight for social licence – Glen Herud:

There’s the “thing” and there’s the perception of the “thing” and they are not the same thing.

You could say, there’s the “dairy farm” and there’s the perception of the “dairy farm” and they are not the same thing.

You can change the thing but that doesn’t necessarily change the perception of the thing. . . 

FarmStrong: Shearer’s look after top paddock :

An initiative in the wool harvesting industry is changing traditional attitudes to injury prevention and wellbeing and it’s not just shearing crews who are benefiting.  

Times are changing in the woolshed, Shearing Contractors’ Association spokesman Mark Barrowcliffe says.

He’s been running his King Country business for nearly 20 years, employing up to 50 staff at peak season. . .

Busby takes the feijoa for New Zealand’s oldest sheep – Tracey Neal:

Busby’s genetic roots might lie in the blustery North Sea island of Texel, but the owners of what was possibly New Zealand’s oldest sheep said he has thrived on a more gentle lifestyle.

The Texel-Romney cross wether is estimated by Lynley and Barry Bird to be 24-years-old, measured against the ages of their now-adult children who rescued him as a lamb. . .


Rural round-up

May 2, 2019

Wearing wool is better for skin than synthetics -Heather Chalmers:

Wearing natural fibres like wool is not only better for the environment, but also your skin health, research shows.

AgResearch bio-product and fibre technology science team leader Stewart Collie said wool was the world’s most sophisticated fibre in terms of its structure and composition. “These give the wool fibre its amazing functionality.”

For the skin health project, AgResearch created special garments that had the upper back portion split in two, with one half made from wool and the other polyester. . . 

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist Trish Rankin from Taranaki is the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

The prestigious dairy award was announced the Allflex Dairy Women’s Network’s conference gala awards dinner in Christchurch this evening.

The other finalists were Kylie Leonard who farms north of Taupo, Julie Pirie from Ngatea in the Waikato and Southlander Emma Hammond. . . 

Dung beetle role in protecting waterways – Jono Edwards:

Dung beetles could provide the helping hand the region needs for disposing of farm faeces and protecting waterways, Otago Regional councillor Andrew Noone says.

Cr Noone said he was first introduced to the use of the bugs for managing animal waste on farms by a member of the public.

He is now pushing for the council to investigate their usefulness and potentially bring in subsidies for their wider introduction in Otago.

The beetles create small balls out of the manure and bury them in the ground which helps it to break down. . . 

High country steers the stars – Alan Williams:

Weaner steers sold very strongly at the annual Coalgate high-country calf sale in Canterbury on Wednesday.

A lot of calves sold for moe than $3.70/kg and up to just over $4 as buyers sought high-quality offerings from farm stations that have built excellent reputations.

“It’s our best steer sale so far,” Hazlett Rural general manager Ed Marfell said.

It was also one of the last sales of the weaner season in Canterbury and buyers decided they were better to pay up rather than risk missing out.

“We’ve got these renowned stations, great reputations and repeat buyers keep coming back,” Marfell said. . . 

Studs join in for bull walk:

Bull buyers are being promised value, variety and volume at next week’s King Country Big Bull Walk.

“That’s our tagline. We’re a big area and we’re telling buyers from outside King Country that if they come to our sales they will find something that suits them,” co-ordinator Tracey Neal said.

The walk is a series of open days on stud farms on May 6, 7 and 9 ahead of the on-farm sales in the last week of May. Neal reports good interest.

About 500 rising two-year bulls will be shown at18 studs taking part and about 330 of them will be offered at the on-farm sales held by 13 of the studs. The other studs will sell their bulls in the paddock or through sale yards.  . . 

Shift to managing individual sheep – Yvonne O’Hara:

There is a global shift to managing sheep at an individual level rather than a flock level, Lincoln University’s Professor in Animal Breeding and Genetics Jon Hickford says.

Prof Hickford said EID tags and scanner technology allowed the recording of an individual animal’s performance and production values throughout its life.

The technology would be a useful tool to improve overall production for commercial flocks, he said.

”Rather than having a flock of nameless individuals, every sheep has their own identity.” . . 

Water prices are ‘selling farmers down the river’ – Tony Wright:

Another day’s heartless sun is sinking to the horizon, not a cloud in the sky, and Mick Clark’s nuggety body is throwing a long shadow over his parched land north of Deniliquin.

The feedlot that not so long ago held 1000 fat lambs is empty. There is no crop planted on the property that has been in his family’s hands for three generations.

“I’ve parked all the farm equipment up in the sheds and I’ve gone and got myself a job driving a tractor for a bloke,” he says.

Mick Clark has made a vow.

“So far as I’m concerned, the supermarket shelves in the city can go empty,” he says. “I’m not going to spend $600 a megalitre of water to keep farming just to go broke.” . . 

Science shows Kiwi cows have the edge on their US cousins – Glen Herud:

Did you know that New Zealand cows are smarter than American cows?

That’s a potentially defamatory statement but if I ever get sued by a litigious group of American dairy farmers or their cows, I think I’d have the proof to defend myself in court.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 75 per cent of US calves are raised in individual pens or hutches.

The calves are separated from their mothers and put into a little pen with a shelter at one end and milk teat or bucket at the other end. They spend their first eight weeks in this pen by themselves until weaning. . . 


Rural round-up

April 23, 2019

Leaked report sheds light on mine project – Simon Hartley:

The prospect of an open pit diatomite mine in Middlemarch has caused division, and many are concerned about the effects of hundreds of trucks, mine dust, and the loss of Foulden Maar (MAAR), a “pre-eminent” fossil cache.

There are also corporate links to controversial palm oil plantation developments.

With no information released since mid-2018, Simon Hartley revisits the proposal, based on a leaked investment document penned by investment bankers Goldman Sachs.

A proposal to mine diatomite near Middlemarch for the next almost 30 years appears to have stalled as feasibility studies and regulatory hurdles take their toll. . . 

Farmstrong: Stop and sell the roses :

Time off farm is the number one wellbeing priority for farmers but many are still reluctant to take breaks. 

Kate and Mike Gee-Taylor of Rangiwahia are on a mission to change that.

They own a typical family farm, a 566ha sheep and beef operation in hill country at Rangiwahia in Manawatu. Mike grew up there and met Kate 28 years ago. They still both love the area and the lifestyle.

But life’s thrown up a few challenges too. Two years ago Kate fell ill and nearly died. It took 30 units of blood to save her. . .

Otago farm’s food award:

The Crutchley family from Maniototo high country have claimed a top award in this year’s Food Producer Awards with their Provenance lamb.

The family’s Provenance brand won the Ara Wines Paddock Champion Award for a lamb product judges praised for its juiciness, moistness and good flavours. 

David and Glenis Crutchley’s 6121ha dryland farming operation near Naseby transitioned from conventional farming systems to biological farming eight years ago. They dropped conventional fertilisers for fish-based nutrients and a focus on building up soil micro-bacterial activity. . . 

Representing dairy in the south – Sally Rae:

On May 11, the national winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be announced at a black-tie awards dinner at TSB Arena in Wellington. The South will be represented by Southland-Otago share farmers of the year Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten, farm manager of the year James Matheson and dairy trainee of the year Caycee Cormack. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae attended the regional winners field day at the van Dorstens’ property last week.

Farm ownership remains one of the goals of Taieri dairy farmers Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten.

The couple, who won this year’s Southland-Otago share farmer of the year in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, are 50:50 sharemilking 575 cows on a 204ha farm owned by Ray Parker and Sharon Corcoran

Businesses using blockchain, invisible ink to protect mānuka honey – Esther Taunton:

Jars of mānuka honey are being marked with invisible ink and tracked with blockchain technology in an effort to keep counterfeit products off the market.

The honey has become such a precious commodity, producers are using increasingly high-tech methods to prevent imitation.

Midlands Apiaries, manufacturers of Puriti mānuka honey, has introduced jars with 11 consumer security and anti-counterfeit features, including invisible ink and laser etching. . .

Farming is tough but we don’t always want it easy – Glen Herud:

The hard thing about doing hard things is it’s always a lot harder than you expect.

So it’s best to quit right at the start of the project. Quitting early will save a lot of heartache and pain.

The only time you should not quit is when you’re absolutely prepared to pay the price that this difficult project will inflict on you.

But the problem is we don’t really know what the true cost is until we’re well into a hard project. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 14, 2019

Irrigation goes high-tech to preserve Christchurch aquifer – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers irrigating just north of Christchurch are using the latest technology to ensure not a drop is wasted.

Preserving water quality is also front of mind as the land they irrigate is geographically linked to an ancient, slow moving aquifer which also supplies domestic drinking water to the city’s residents. 

In the first project of its type in New Zealand, the latest in digital technology has been rolled out to Waimakariri Irrigation’s farmer-shareholders, taking the guesswork out of irrigating.   . . 

Challenge ahead for smaller wineries – Simon Hartley:

A caution has been thrown out to New Zealand’s smaller, domestic market wineries which might be finding it more difficult gaining access to distribution channels.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the industry in New Zealand had grown substantially in recent decades.

“The industry is heavily concentrated in Marlborough, which specialises in sauvignon blanc production”, about three-quarters of the country’s wine production, by value, she said.

The New Zealand winemaking industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion and wine exports have doubled in the past decade to $1.7 billion per year, becoming the country’s sixth largest export by commodity. . . 

New opportunities for agri-food:

Changes being driven by computer scientists in the agri-food sector are providing new opportunities for Kiwi farmers.

The disruption, which is changing what we eat, was the focus of the KPMG farm enterprise specialist Julia Jones’ keynote speech at the Young Farmers Conference.

“There’s a restaurant in Boston with a robotic kitchen,” she said.

Spyce is a world-first and was created by four robotics-obsessed engineers who wanted healthy food at a reasonable price. . . 

Students experience agriculture – Richard Smith:

Kotara Kikuchi, a second-year student at Tono Ryokuho High School, an agricultural school, is on a home stay with three other boys from his school to do farming.

Kikuchi wants to experience agriculture, however, “I want to be a fisherman after graduating from high school”.

Fellow schoolmate Tokiya Ogasawara, 16, hasn’t decided what he wants to be. 

“But there’s nothing outside agriculture that I want to do,” he said. . . 

Agtech is not going to be a road to riches – here’s why – Glen Herud:

Agtech is quite trendy in New Zealand at the moment. But it’s unlikely to be a road to riches for those involved.

I would caution any entrepreneur from developing a tech solution for farmers.

No doubt, technology will change how agriculture is conducted. Just as it is changing all aspects of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you can actually make any money out of developing some fancy technology solution for farmers. . . 

Joint call made to end non-stun slaughter in UK

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have joined forces to call on the government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Both groups say slaughtering without pre-stunning causes ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.

The latest figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first – more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. . . 


Rural round-up

January 3, 2019

Dairy farming: No job for just any mug off the street – Sam Kilmister:

GIVE IT A GO: There is a common misconception dairy milkers merely slap on some cups and watch their herd of cows circle the shed. 

But the battle to find skilled employees is worsening and working in the dairy shed is no job for just any punter off the street.  

To understand why the industry struggles to recruit young Kiwis, I went undercover on Murray Holdaway’s Tararua farm to experience a morning in the life of a dairy farmer.  . . 

Dairy farmers’ profitable sideline – Pam Tipa:

The jersey-cross beef business at his Whangarei Heads dairy farm is a sideline – but it is a valuable sideline, says Murray Jagger.

Last year beef sales – not including bobbies – totalled $155,000 returning back about $30,000 – 40,000, he told the recent Jersey NZ conference in Whangarei. . . 

Happy Cow Milk Company plans crowd-funding campaign – Rob Stock:

Happy Cow Milk Company founder Glen Herud hopes to raise money through crowd-funding in March.

In May last year, Happy Cow went into liquidation, which seemed to end Herud’s dream of re-inventing dairying, with ethical farmers supplying milk to local consumers.

The dream has been reborn, however, with Happy Cow having transformed from a milk company into a technology company with support from 779 people making regular donations through the online Patreon patronage service. . . 

NAIT online to be upgraded:

NAIT says its online system is set to be enhanced by an interactive map to help users accurately define a NAIT location.

The development uses Land Information New Zealand’s (LINZ) parcel data as the primary building block of NAIT’s Farm Location information. The system upgrade is scheduled for early 2019; it follows a recommendation in a review of NAIT. . . 

Data shows farmers are more progressive and engaged than many city folk – Peter Hunt:

THE urban myth that farmers are a bunch of ageing rural red-necks living in isolation on their land has been well and truly busted.

But the growing disconnect between rural and urban Australians mean it’s a battle to debunk the myth, despite survey and census data showing 20-30 per cent of farmers live in towns and regional cities, are more engaged with their communities than city folk and often more progressive, less religious and increasingly female. . .

TPP redux: why the United States Is the biggest loser – Jeffrey J. Schott:

On the first anniversary of President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the remaining 11 signatories in that pact have agreed in Tokyo to enter into a revised pact without US participation.

The biggest loser from their agreement, not surprisingly, is the United States. US real income under the original TPP would have increased by $131 billion annually, or 0.5 percent of GDP.

Under the new deal without US participation, the United States not only forgoes these gains but also loses an additional $2 billion in income because US firms will be disadvantaged in the TPP markets. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 13, 2018

Bill’s passage clears way for Dam construction:

The passing of the Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill has cleared the way for the construction to begin on the largest dam to be built in New Zealand for more than 20 years, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.

“The Bill passed by 112 – 8 votes and clears the way for a sustainable solution to the regions long standing water problems.

“The passage of this Bill concludes a 17-year tortuous process for developing and gaining approval for a sustainable solution for the regions water problems. This Bill resolves the last issue of access to the conservation and LINZ land. . . 

Govt adopts National’s Bill to stop livestock rustling:

Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie is pleased that his Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Members Bill has been adopted by the Government as a Supplementary Order Paper on the Crimes Amendment Bill.

“Stock rustling is a crime that cuts to the heart of many rural families and the farming community.

“Theft of livestock from farms or property is estimated to cost the farming community over $120 million a year. More recently, the risk to farms of Mycoplasma bovis spreading through stock theft has added strength to the call to take action. . . 

Something festive for Fonterra farmers? A hint of solace would be a start… – Point of Order:

Fonterra’s  suppliers will be choking on their  Xmas  rations, as they  digest the  price  blows  the co-op  has delivered.  First,  the dairy giant has  revised down  its  forecast milk payout  range  for the season to $6-$6.30 from the  earlier  $6.25-$6.50, and, second,  it is clawing back  some of the $4.15/kg  advance payment  rate.

Farmers  in  January will be paid  $4/kg for the  milk they supplied in  December plus the  co-op  is  clawing  back  15c/kg for all the  milk  supplied   between  June and November.

It  is  not   surprising that farmers   with  costs of  production  running   at  or above  $6/kg  are  reported to  be  “shocked”  and  “angry”.   Even those  efficient  operators   who have  lower  operating costs  won’t be happy  with   Fonterra  saying it  “appreciates”  the budgeting impact  the updated $4 advance rate will have on farmers in  January.  . . 

The facts about nitrogen in horticulture – Mike Chapman:

Stuff recently gave space to an opinion piece from Glen Herud, a dairy farmer, which had a number of inaccurate references to the use of nitrogen in horticulture and horticulture practices in general (Stuff, December 4, 2018).

 It is important to note, the primary industries are working together to address both the real and the perceived impacts of food production on the environment. At Horticulture New Zealand, we are sitting down and talking to key Government Ministers and their officials from the relevant government agencies to look at the best ways to clean up waterways and address climate change. This is how the best policies will continue to be made.

 In his opinion piece, Mr Herud’s numbers and references to research are unsubstantiated. I don’t want this to be a science class, but there is a lot of misinformation about nitrogen being spread around and it is essential to deal in facts, backed by science. . . 

Getting a buzz out of dairying – Samantha Tennent,:

Michael McCombs has had success by putting himself out therein the NZ Dairy Industry Awards, FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest and the Young Farmers Excellence Awards just by doing his thing and loving the journey along the way. Samantha Tennent reports.

A geography class trip sealed the deal for Michael McCombs  – he knew dairy farming was where he wanted to be. He grew up in Upper Hutt, attending Upper Hutt College and from a young age had always planned to become a farmer.

It was a 220-cow farm near Carterton he’d visited with school and thought to himself he’d love to work there.  The following summer holidays he did. It was a once-a-day herd and the owner, Dave Hodder, recommended Michael look at the Taratahi training farm.

“I wasn’t enjoying school and was looking at my options. I landed a spot on the training farm so left school at the end of year 11.” . . 

Milmeq sale expected to expand service offering:

Privately-held New Zealand engineering company Milmeq Limited, a designer and manufacturer of meat processing equipment, will be split and sold in the coming months, but it doesn’t mean the end of the brand. An agreement was signed at the end of last week for the sale of Milmeq’s chilling and freezing capability to New Zealand-listed company Mercer Group Limited, effective from 1 March 2019.

Chairman Ralph Marshall describes the sale as a good move for staff, customers and suppliers.

“Being purchased by a publicly-listed company, with a range of complementary products, positions Milmeq equipment well for future growth. We have been nimble over the years, always innovating to meet market needs, but we anticipate this innovation will further accelerate under the new owners.” . . 


Cows greener than greens

December 6, 2018

Is growing greens a greener option than grazing cows? Glen Herud says no:

. . .The way we get excess nitrogen from dairy farming is via the cow’s urine. Urine contains 69 per cent nitrogen. The greater the concentration of cows per hectare the more N leaching you get (more or less).

Averaged out, dairy farms leach about 60kg of nitrogen per hectare per year.

Surprisingly, nitrogen fertiliser does not contribute greatly to N leaching on dairy farms. This is because farmers (generally speaking) only put on what the plants can absorb.

Fertiliser is expensive and it costs time and money to apply it. Farmers have both financial and environmental incentives to apply no more than is absolutely needed.

  Many people will be surprised to know that market gardening leaches three times more nitrogen than dairy farming.

There are plenty of papers out there showing leaching of over 170 kg N/ha/yr for various vegetable crops.

How can it be, that vegetables leach more than dairy cows? Market gardeners apply quite high rates of nitrogen fertiliser to each crop.

Vegetables are generally fast-growing crops. That means they harvest multiple crops and therefore they are cultivating their paddocks multiple times every year.

Cultivation increases N leaching.

The other important thing to note with market gardening is there are a lot of times in the year where there is no plant in the ground. So there is nothing to absorb the N in the soil. So it leaches down.

Contrast this to a sheep/beef/dairy farmer’s paddock. That paddock has grass in it all year, which is absorbing N for about 10 months of the year. That paddock will be cultivated once every five to eight years.

A combination of high N fertiliser inputs, multiple cultivations per year and portions of the year where there are no roots in the ground, mean that vegetable production “leaks” a lot of nitrogen. . .

Herud points out that organic farmers might not use nitrogen fertiliser but their crops get nitrogen in different forms. Organic farmers leave fields fallow for long periods and cultivate several times a year to get rid of weeds without spraying so leak more nitrogen.

He also explains the role of legumes.

Legumes are able to take the N from the air and “fix” it via their roots into the soil. This nitrogen now becomes available to other nearby plants to absorb.

Legumes are fantastic, they create free nitrogen for other plants to absorb.

The basis of New Zealand pasture-based agriculture is clover and ryegrass pastures. The clover fixes the nitrogen into the soil and the ryegrass plants absorb it (more or less).

Organic and biodynamic farmers take this principle one step further, by planting much more diverse pasture/legume swards.

But when you plant a whole paddock in just legumes we potentially have a problem.

These legumes are fixing nitrogen at a great rate and there are no other plants to absorb the nitrogen. Often, the result is the legumes are producing more nitrogen than is being used and it gets leached.

I found a number of studies that showed peas to be leaching between 80-120 kg N/ha.

It would seem logical that replacing cows with plant-based proteins such as legumes that go into the Impossible Burger would be good for our waterways. But there’s enough science to suggest it wouldn’t be a better outcome at all. . . 

Radical environmentalists would have us believe that growing fruit and vegetables would be better for the environment, and particularly water health, than dairying.

The science shows it’s not that simple and that grazing dairy cows could result in cleaner water than growing vegetables.

 

 


Rural roundup

May 27, 2018

Vet answers pressing Mycoplasma bovis questions:

Trying to stop the spread of Mycoplasma bovis can be a complicated process, with some confusion around winter grazing and Gypsy Day, where stock is moved between farms.

Central-Southland vet Mark Bryan spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay and Andy Thompson in a bid to answer some questions surrounding Mycoplasma bovis.

What happens if you send animals away to grazing and while they’re there some other animals are classed as infected? Do your animals become infected and can you bring them back home?

Bryan says farms that are under restriction, (Infected Properties (IPs), Restricted Place (RP) and Notices of Direction (NOD), can only move to other restricted farms. . . 

MPI ‘slow, uncoordinated’, under-prepared in M bovis response:

One of the owners of the South Canterbury farm where Mycoplasma bovis was first found says MPI has been slow, uncoordinated and under-prepared in its response to the disease.

Wilma Van Leuuwen said she knew the farmer who managed the Waikato farm where the disease was found in December.

“It was traced to them, up there in Cambridge in December, and nobody came on the farm to do testing straight away.

“That person was able to trade stock or do whatever he wished until February when they locked him down and started doing the testing – and they didn’t even notify it until May that he was positive. It’s rather slow.”

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was never prepared to manage the disease, and would never have enough staff to cope with it now it had spread throughout the country, she said. . .

‘M. bovis’ outbreak devastates couple’s life – Sally Rae:

Thousands of cattle have been slaughtered because of Mycoplasma bovis, but there has also been a very real human cost.

Until Wednesday, former Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) sharemilkers Sarel and Mary Potgieter were living in a leaking caravan in Australia.

They had been forced to sell anything they could, including household items, to pay debts, and both were now taking anti-depressants, Mrs Potgieter said.

They also had the “heartbreaking” sight of watching the cattle in their charge dispatched for slaughter, including pet cows.

“On the last day, myself and Sarel could not face it. But the worst was the newborn calves that MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] instructed pet foods to shoot and slit their throats,” Mrs Potgieter said. . . 

Infected farm’s use of distant vet concerns– Sally Rae:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has expressed concern over the use of distance veterinary services in light of news the farm at the centre of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was using a vet clinic about 1600km away.

It is understood Southern Centre Dairies in Southland, owned by Alfons and Gea Zeestraten, which is believed to be the first farm infected, has been using a Waiheke Island-based vet clinic.

Vets on Waiheke manager Stephen Gilmore confirmed to RNZ’s Checkpoint programme that his wife Alexandra was the vet responsible for the Zeestraten herd, and had been for two years, and that they tried to make six-monthly visits to the dairy farming operation.

In a statement, NZVA president Peter Blaikie said the association did not know the details and could not comment on the specific situation. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis: do we need to go so fast and should the North and South Islands be managed separately? – Keith Woodford:

[This is a letter that I sent today (25 May 2018)  to the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor]

Honourable Damien O’Connor
Minister of Agriculture 

Greetings Damien

Mycoplasma bovis

I am writing this to you because of the huge decision that Government has to make on Monday. It is an open letter, because there are issues which all New Zealanders need to be informed of.

In a perfect world, we would all hope for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis. But the world is not perfect, and there are no good solutions. Unfortunately, there are real risks that an ongoing policy of eradication is one where the medicine is worse than the disease.

I have been following developments since the first identification of an infection, this being the Tainui property owned by the Van Leeuwen Group and share-farmed by Mary and Sarel Potgieter. I contacted the Van Leeuwens at that time, and I have written about Mycoplasma on six occasions since then (at my own website  . . 

‘Your support brought me to tears’: Glen Herud on life after his Happy Cow story went viral – Glen Herud:

His company has been liquidated, his mobile milking shed sold for a song. But Glen Herud is not giving up on his ethical milk mission.

Last month, we hit the wall and shut the doors – but our customers encouraged us to go on.

I founded the Happy Cow Milk Company in 2012, and my mission was to create a more ethical and sustainable diary model.

In April, I faced the hard reality that I couldn’t do it. I was out of money and out of energy. But when I announced I was shutting down, something amazing happened; this passionate community of supporters told me not to give up. . . 

 

We should value our workers, says 2018’s Central Otago Young Fruit Grower:

Hamish Daring from Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, Cromwell has been named Central Otago Young Fruit Grower of the Year, following a day of intense competition in Cromwell today.

The competition saw six of the region’s top young orchardists engage in a series of challenges designed to test the skills needed to successfully run a thriving fruit-growing business. Events included tractor maintenance, pest and disease identification, and first aid.

Hamish, 21, is a third generation horticulturist who cut his teeth helping set up Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, just north of Cromwell, in the summer of 2012/13.  . . 

NZ Meat Board chases higher returns from $70M of funds now held in term deposits – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Meat Board will increase the risk profile of its $70 million of reserve funds, adding shares to what is now mainly held in term deposits in a bid to lift returns.

The shift to a balanced portfolio is aiming to achieve a return of at least 3.3 percent “after all investment, funds management and custodial costs, inflation and any tax drag” are deducted. It generated interest income of $2.3 million in 2017, a yield of 2.95 percent, according to its annual report. . . 


Rural round-up

April 23, 2018

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference in dairying. I failed – Glen Herud:

He founded an ethical dairying company that would allow calves to stay with their mothers. Last week, Glenn Herud had to admit that his enterprise had failed.

I’m a third generation dairy farmer. The milk business is the only business I know. Four years ago I decided to find a way to do dairy in a more sustainable way.

I know New Zealanders want this. They want the land treated better, they want rivers treated better, and they want animals treated better. And they would like the option to buy their milk in something other than plastic bottles.

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference. But last week I had to admit to myself that I failed. . . 

Record butter prices expected: economist – Simon Hartley:

Households, restaurants and bakeries be warned, butter prices are expected to rise well above last year’s records, already sitting just 5% below the highs set last September.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said butter prices were already well up on the same period a year ago, and the seasonal lull in New Zealand milk production was still to come.

“We anticipate butter prices will shatter last year’s records over coming months,” Mr Penny said.

In October last year, butter prices were up more than 60% against a year earlier. By November, one Dunedin supermarket’s cheapest 500g block cost $5.90 and there were reports of $8 blocks in other Otago towns. . . 

Commercial Mycoplasma bovis test being developed:

A commercial diagnostic tool which will allow farmers to test for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis themselves is being developed by a partnership comprising commercial laboratories, industry representatives and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The tool will be released once sampling guidelines, a testing strategy and possibly an accreditation programme have been developed – to ensure the test can be accurately applied and interpreted. . . 

There’s more M bovis to come yet – Glenys Christian:

Up to three to four years of Mycoplasma bovis monitoring will be needed and more infected animals will probably be found next year, Primary Industries Ministry senior policy analyst Emil Murphy says.

“It doesn’t make animals sick directly,” he told Auckland Federated Farmers executive.

“It’s more like a cold sore where something happens to an animal which is weak already and M bovis  jumps in and makes it worse.”

Genetic analysis showed the local strain of M bovis is quite different to that seen in Australia for the last 10 years. . . 

Iwi in peat-mining venture say wetland is a wasteland:

The iwi involved in a peat mining venture in the Far North says it’s disappointed the Conservation Minister wants to derail it.

The Auckland company Resin and Wax Holdings has been granted resource consents to dig over land owned by the iwi Ngāi Takoto, in the Kaimaumau wetland.

The company plans to extract valuable industrial compounds from the peat, using a chemical process perfected in the United States.

The project has had several government grants from the Callaghan Innovation fund. . . 

Co-ops also present in German ag – Sudesh Kissun:

The power of cooperative agriculture is proudly on display at a dairy farm near the German city of Dresden.

The Agrargenossenschaft Gnaschwitz (Agri Co-op), in the town of Gnaschwitz, milks 460 cows year round with eight Lely robotic machines. Lely recently unveiled its new Astronaut A5 machine.

The co-op is owned by about 100 shareholders, each owning a small parcel of the farm. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, land seized by the former communist regime in East Germany was returned to people if they could show evidence of their family’s ownership. .  .

Human ingenuity and the future of food – Chelsea Follett:

A recent article in Business Insider showing what the ancestors of modern fruits and vegetables looked like painted a bleak picture. A carrot was indistinguishable from any skinny brown root yanked up from the earth at random. Corn looked nearly as thin and insubstantial as a blade of grass. Peaches were once tiny berries with more pit than flesh. Bananas were the least recognizable of all, lacking the best features associated with their modern counterparts: the convenient peel and the seedless interior. How did these barely edible plants transform into the appetizing fruits and vegetables we know today? The answer is human ingenuity and millennia of genetic modification.

Humanity is continuously innovating to produce more food with less landless water, and fewer emissionsAs a result, food is not only more plentiful, but it is also coming down in price.

The pace of technological advancement can be, if you will pardon the pun, difficult to digest. Lab-grown meat created without the need to kill an animal is already a reality. The first lab-grown burger debuted in 2013, costing over $300,000, but the price of a lab-grown burger patty has since plummeted, and the innovation’s creator “expects to be able to produce the patties on a large enough scale to sell them for under $10 a piece in a matter of five years.” 

People who eschew meat are a growing demographic, and lab-grown meat is great news for those who avoid meat solely for ethical reasons. It currently takes more land, energy, and water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce equivalent calories in the form of chickens, but also grains. So, cultured meat could also lead to huge gains in food production efficiency.  . . 

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Rural round-up

August 10, 2017

Farmers to Labour: “Tell Us Your Numbers”:

Federated Farmers’ challenge to Labour is: “Tell us what numbers you have in mind.”

Labour yesterday announced proposals for a tax on water for large commercial users, including farmers who rely on irrigation water, but in the absence of detail some eye-watering numbers in the billions of dollars have been floated.

Federated Farmers water spokesman Chris Allen said the pledge to consult with those affected if Labour is part of the new government is appreciated, but it still means voters are sailing blind into the election. . .

Seven farm tests show  no disease – Sally Rae:

The first test results from seven of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group’s farms have returned negative for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The bacterial disease has previously been confirmed on two VLDG properties in the Waimate district, the first time the disease had been detected in New Zealand.

In an update yesterday, response incident controller Eve Pleydell said two further rounds of testing would be required on those seven farms before they could be declared free of the disease. Results were pending for the remaining seven VLDG properties.

Good progress was made during the weekend, as laboratory teams continued to test thousands of milk and blood samples from VLG farms and neighbouring properties, Dr Pleydell said. . . 

‘No evidence’ imported frozen semen cause of mycoplasma outbreak:

Key points
MPI has confirmed no evidence that of resistance to mycoplasma in imports of bovine semen.
World Wide Sires – marketing arm of the largest dairy farmer owned cooperative in the world Select Sires/Accelerated Genetics – reinforce all bulls and semen free of the disease.

The New Zealand arm of the largest dairy farmer owned cooperative in the world – and one of the globe’s major semen companies – is pleased MPI has confirmed there is no evidence that resistance has developed to mycoplasma in imported bovine semen*. . . 

Horticulture election manifesto asks for land and water protection:

Horticulture New Zealand has launched its 2017 Election Manifesto with five key priorities for the new Government, to be elected on 23 September.

“Keeping unique growing land and having sensible policies around access to water are critical to New Zealand’s ongoing supply of safe, healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“One of our main asks for a new Government will be a food security policy for New Zealand. This may sound redundant in such an abundant land, but there are a host of challenges to our food supply including urban encroachment on unique growing land, emotional battles over water, changing weather patterns, access to enough people to grow and harvest our food, and increasing border traffic meaning more potential biosecurity risks. . . 

New national standard for plantation forestry:

A new nationwide set of environmental rules for managing New Zealand’s 1.7 million hectares of plantation forestry will better protect the environment and deliver significant savings in compliance costs, Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston say.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest primary industry but its efficiency is hampered by the confusing mix of planning rules across New Zealand’s 86 councils. The strength of this national approach is that it will better protect the environment while also improving the productivity of the forestry sector by applying consistent environmental standards to reduce operational costs,” Dr Smith says. . . 

What’s gone wrong with New Zealand farming? – Glen Herud:

New Zealanders were once proud of our farming heritage. But at some point, as agriculture intensified and started spilling into our other source of pride, our clean green image, trust was lost, writes GLEN HERUD.

To the general public, it looked like farmers were getting greedy.

But like Auckland housing, farming has changed from an every man’s game. And the answer is not to tweak the regulations or adjust nitrogen inputs with new technology. These are both fine. The answer is a whole new system.

The number of dairy herds in New Zealand is decreasing but the size of each herd is increasing.

A graph from Dairy NZ shows that in 1986 there were 16,000 dairy herds with an average herd size of 140 cows. Today we have 11,500 herds with an average herd size of 420 cows. . . 

The great food disruption: part 4 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part three of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable.

Tyson Foods – one of the biggest meat producers in the world – sent its principal scientist, Hultz Smith, to the Modern Agriculture Foundation’s Cultured Meat and Path to Commercialisation Conference in Israel this year to learn from the world’s top-tier cellular agricultural and tissue engineering scientists, researchers, academics and industry leaders. A proponent of cellular agriculture, Hultz even openly supports cultured meat research, viewing it as a viable substitute to current meat production and one that gives consumers a broader choice. And in late 2016 the company launched a $150 million venture fund zeroing in on the alternative protein – including cellular agriculture – space. “This fund is about broadening our exposure to innovative, new forms of protein and ways of producing food,” said Monica McGurk, Tyson executive vice president of strategy, at its launch. . .

Australia’s Capilano Honey profits bolstered from capital gain in asset sale to Comvita JV – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Australian honey maker Capilano Honey’s joint venture with Comvita has had an immediate, if unrealised, benefit for the Queensland-based company’s bottom line.

The two honey companies teamed up last year to create Medibee Apiaries in Australia to produce Leptospermum honey, commonly known as manuka, for medical and natural health products. In July last year, Capilano realised a capital gain of A$2.1 million following the sale of its manuka beekeeping assets into the joint venture with no tax attributable to the capital gain on the asset sale, it said. The total assets it sold into the joint venture were worth A$9.2 million. . . 

PGG Wrightson full-year profit gains 5.7% as lower debt costs offset stalled revenue growth –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson posted a 5.7 percent gain in full-year profit, meeting its guidance, as the rural services company benefitted from lower interest costs, offsetting stalled growth in revenue.

Profit rose to $46.3 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $43.8 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. Sales fell to $1.13 billion from $1.18 billion. . . 

Young Grower of the Year decided next week:

The winner of the New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower and four regional Young Fruit Grower winners will compete next week for the national title Young Grower of the Year 2017.

On August 16 and 17, at the Sudima Airport Hotel in Christchurch, the five finalists will test their horticultural skills and knowledge. This year’s entrants are:

New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower 2017 – Scott Wilcox, Pukekohe
Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Jordan James, Whakatu
Central Otago Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Ben Geaney, Waimate
Nelson Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Ralph Bastian, Appleby
Bay of Plenty Fruit Grower 2017 – Erin Atkinson, Te Puke . . 


It’s all about priorities

July 16, 2014

An  imbalance between supply and demand is pushing up property prices in a few places.

But, Glen Herud writes, you can afford a house in most places despite what people say:


This article, about young people investing property got me thinking.

I’ve had a few conversations with people who I’d describe as being middle class New Zealanders. They are earning around $100,000/year, yet they claim they can’t afford to buy a house.

As we talk it over further, it becomes clear that they actually can’t afford a house of the required standard in the desirable area of the major city in which they live.

It’s pretty hard to buy your first house in Queenstown, Christchurch, Auckland or Wellington, especially if you are not prepared to live in the cheaper suburbs.

But if you are prepared to live in the cheaper suburbs and start on the bottom rung of the ladder rather than several rungs up it’s possible.

Priorities

It occurs to me that people have priorities in their lives and when they say “we can’t afford to buy a house”, they really mean that they are not prepared to make the sacrifices required to get into home ownership. . .

He gives some examples of people who were prepared to make sacrifices and concludes:

Money gives you options

When you are young you have no money and I think all money does is give you options.

When you have no money you have limited options and you have to focus your limited resources.

It’s totally possible for young families to buy a house in New Zealand. The question is are people prepared to make the sacrifices required?

When I look at the people who tell me they can’t buy a house, I notice that they all eat out at restaurants regularly, there’s lots of money being spent of manicures and salons & plenty of nights out on the town & shopping trips to Melbourne.

The same thing applies to farming. I saw my parents move from Zimbabwe with nothing in there 30s, working as farm workers to buying their first farm 11 years later.

My first employer started dairy farming at 17 and was sharemilking 400 cows at 28 and at 40 years of age owns a large dairy farm, among other things.

These are all examples of ordinary people with ordinary intellect just getting on with it and getting ahead.

It’s all about priorities, attitude & peoples willingness to do what is required. . .

Too many people want to start where their parents finished and aren’t willing to work their way up to something better than what they can afford nor go without while they save so they can afford something better.

At least part of the housing ‘crisis’ is really a problem with priorities.


Orange and red flags ignored

October 10, 2013

Months after the precautionary recall of products containing whey protein which was later proved to be clear of botulism there is still a lot of confusion about what happened.

Keith Woodford explains it was all about orange and red flags:

. . . It all started back in May 2012 when some plastic came loose in a whey concentrate dryer at the Hautapu plant near Hamilton. The risk was that this plastic had got smashed up and possibly melted within the dryer, and then mixed with the whey.

The only way to find out for sure was to hydrate the whey powder (which is soluble) and then filter out any solids.  For reasons not clear, Fonterra chose to do this using equipment that had not been used recently.  Unfortunately the equipment had not been properly cleaned.

Once hydrated and then re-dried, the product passed the mandatory bacterial tests, but did have a level somewhat higher than typical.

By this stage there should have been two orange flags but the Fonterra system recognised neither.  The first was that once the product had been reprocessed, then it should have been drafted away from human use and used for stock feed. The second orange flag was when the re-processed whey powder gave elevated but technically acceptable bacterial counts. Once again, this should have been enough to restrict its use to stock feed. . .

He explains what happened next and about the testing in the clearest summary I have come across. It is very interesting reading.

He then gets on to the ongoing fallout:

. . . As events have turned out, it is now apparent that it was a false alarm. Further testing overseas has confirmed that in fact it was not botulinum.  However, great damage to Fonterra’s and New Zealand’s reputation occurred, with the recall being splashed globally in the news media, and particularly so in China  where many of Fonterra’s products are sold. In fact I am writing this from China, and I can confirm that it has very much come to the attention of Chinese consumers.

It will be interesting to see how this now plays out. Here in China there is no doubt that Danone in particular has suffered great damage, with their leading infant formula brand Dumex being particularly badly hit. (Dumex is the equivalent of ‘Karicare’ in New Zealand, with Karicare being marketed by  Danone’s  Nutricia subsidiary.)  .

Earlier this week, in a Shanghai supermarket, there was a message over the in-store radio every five minutes advising that the Fonterra food safety scare was actually a false alarm. But unofficial sources tell me that sales of the Dumex brand are still hugely affected, with up to 90% loss of sales. Consumers have moved to other brands and now have to be painstakingly won back. A Google search using Chinese characters for ‘poisonous’ and ‘milk powder’ and ‘Dumex’ produces over one million references. . .

There is an irony that Fonterra’s milk powder is still flowing into China unimpeded, and prices for these bulk products have not suffered.  It is the consumer brands that are not owned by Fonterra that have suffered. . .

It isn’t just milk products which are affected:

Glen Herud at Milking on the Moove was speaking to a food safety consultant recently:

He has a client who manufactures and sells blackberry powder to the Asian market.

His product has been stopped from entering into some Asian countries. 

He was notified by his customer via an email in broken English explaining that they won’t purchase anymore product because botulism was in New Zealand products. . . 

Inquiries into exactly what went wrong at Fonterra and the subsequent handling of the issue are continuing and so are the consequences.

Whatever comes out of the inquiries, all food processors need to be sure they have systems which recognise and respond appropriately to orange flags long before any red ones are raised.


Rural round-up

May 12, 2013

Export prices for lambs improving – Alan Williams:

Export market prices for lamb are improving but an early return to a $100 lamb is a question of all the planets aligning, Alliance Group general manager of marketing Murray Brown says.

“You’d be wanting a bit of exchange rate improving as well, but it’s not out of line,’’ Brown said.

If it happened, a big reduction in lamb numbers next season would be one reason, he said.

The signs were positive for the winter market and heading into next Christmas but some caution was still needed in forecasting prices. . .

Farmers may be able to invest in water storage project:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers who tap into the proposed Ruataniwha water storage scheme may get the opportunity to invest in it too.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is asking the Government to recognise the scheme as a project of national significance.

The council and its investment company have made applications to the Environmental Protection Authority seeking resource consents and a regional plan change required for the project, which would supply water to about 25,000 hectares of land from a dam on a tributary of the Tukituki River. . .

Dairy Farms staff and the shocking state of employee turnover – Milking on the Moove:

Well, gidday. Glen Herud here again and I am going to carry on talking about dairy farm staff. Last time I said that only a small percentage of New Zealand population are prepared to work on a dairy farm simply because of the long hours involved.

Today I want to talk about a report that was released by Dairy NZ in 2009 I think, called “Farming Smarter Not Harder.” They had some interesting figures.

  • They said that 50% of staff had been in their current job less than one year.  
  • The average length of service, so that’s the average time people stay with an employer was less than one year. 
  • 1/3 of dairy staff leave the industry every year. . .

Early start for lambing – Jill Galloway:

There are about 50 early lambs gambolling around a Kiwitea farm in Manawatu.

They are cute now, but they’ll be gracing dinner plates in Britain for Christmas, owners Jill Martin and Nigel Lintott say.

They had planned to have early lambs at two of their three properties.

“This breed are Dorset ewes, so they can have early lambs,” Lintott said.

$11m for Wagyu project – Marie Taylor:

The government has stumped up with $11 million for a project to produce high-value, marbled beef for premium markets in New Zealand and offshore.

What will the country get for its money and what does the project mean?

Hastings-based Firstlight Foods managing director Gerard Hickey is a key part of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project.

The seven-year PGP is worth $23.7 million and Hickey describes it as an investment to create a new category of NZ beef. . .

Fight to be the top dog – Ian Allen:

New South Island sheep dog champion Steve Kerr plans to celebrate this week’s success by getting his dog a bitch on the way home.

Mr Kerr, of Fairlie, said he was stopping near Christchurch to breed his winning huntaway, Dodge.

Mr Kerr and Dodge took out the straight huntaway title at the South Island Championships in Blenheim yesterday.

After four days of competition, only .25 points separated Mr Kerr and runner up Kerry Kilmister, of Tinui, and his dog Pulse.

Mr Kerr said it had been a hard week and it was time to celebrate.

The top of the hill got a little bit tricky but Dodge did a great job, he said. . .

 

 


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