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.” . . 


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