Rural round-up

03/11/2022

More frustration as southern farmers meet on HWEN – Neal Wallace :

Farmers remain far from convinced of the merits of the government’s response to the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) agricultural emissions charging document.

A second meeting of southern farmers within a week was dominated by anger, exasperation, accusations that levy bodies are not fighting hard enough and claims political ideology is trumping common sense – all underpinned by contempt for the government policy.

About 50 people attended the Beef + Lamb NZ Southern South Island Farmer Council meeting in South Otago on Monday following a BLNZ meeting in Gore on Friday at which about 100 farmers expressed similar sentiments.

Discussion on Monday rapidly switched to the impact of the government’s proposal to cost agricultural emissions. . .

The pile-on effect gets worse – Peter Burke :

Farmers in many parts of the North Island are now facing a looming feed crisis.

The rain has been relentless during winter and spring and the ground is saturated in a way not seen before. This applies not only to dairy farmers but also horticulturalists and anyone who works the land for a living. Not only has there been heavy rain, stifling pasture growth, the lack of sunshine hours has meant that whatever grass that has managed to grow is ‘gutless’ and lacking in nutrition for animals.

Anyone travelling around the North Island in recent months would know: there is simply not enough grass available to animals compared to the norm for this time of the year. Travelling between Horowhenua to Napier over the weekend, I saw just two farms that had or were in the process of making grass silage and the cuts from those two were sparse to say the least.

Farm consultants are worried because dairy farmers are having to use their reserves of supplement to keep cows in condition for mating and the word is that many cows will not be mated on the first cycle due to their condition. . .

World dairy prices tumble further as farmers face the prospect of being charged for livestock emissions – Point of Order :

As debate rages in New Zealand’s farming industries over the Ardern  government’s  plan  for  charges  on  agricultural emissions, prices at Fonterra’s  Global  Dairy  Trade fortnightly auction  have fallen to their lowest level in nearly two years.

The average price at the sale fell 3.9%  to US$3537 (NZD$6054) a tonne, after falling 4.6% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March, and are now at their lowest level since January last year.

Whole milk powder fell 3.4%  to US$3279 a  tonne and  skim milk  powder 8.5% to US$2972  a  tonne, while  butter  was  marginally  up at US$4868  a  tonne  (though  a  long way  down  from  its peak  in  March  above  US$7000 a  tonne)  and cheddar 0.9% to US$4802 a tonne. . . 

NZ Battery Project has air of déjà vu – Jill Herron:

The prospect of Roxburgh having a second go-around as the host town of a major hydro project is starting to feel more real for residents as the government’s Lake Onslow scheme inches ahead

Massive disruption will be on the cards for residents of Central Otago’s Teviot Valley and a “treasure” lost if the government proceeds with the Lake Onslow pumped-hydro scheme, a community leader says.

Compensation should reflect that, says 78-year-old Pat Garden, and it should be structured to create benefits from the scheme that outlive the “boom and bust” of the build.

“The community needs to be recognised as a stakeholder and expects a shared benefit to compensate for the negative impacts,” he says. . . 

Full disclosure: I work to reduce the footprint of animal agriculture – Frank Mitloehner:

My response to The New York Times and Greenpeace articles on CLEAR Center Funding

There’s a shocking revelation out there, and I am at the heart of it. Are you prepared for this?

Animal scientists work with animal agriculture. That’s it. That’s the exposé, the conspiracy that so many activists and journalist want to share with you.

Oh, if you want more, try this on for size: Agriculturists work together to be more sustainable.

If you work in agriculture, these statements probably aren’t surprising. In fact, it would likely be concerning if that were not the case. Sustainability issues are too big to be tackled in in silos – metaphorically speaking, of course. One way the sector has come together to further sustainability is through the CLEAR Center. . .

A more sustainable approach to farming looks better together :

With a future focused on sustainable farming and growing, increasing demand for food products and an increasing regulatory environment, two companies have come together to aid the agricultural and horticultural industries.

Tokoroa based Blue Pacific Minerals Limited (BPM), has joined with AgriFert (NZ) Limited (AgriFert), in what Executive Chairman, Jamie Mikkelson, says “is part of our ongoing strategy to be ready for the future with innovative and science-led solutions. This partnering will benefit the future of farming and growing here in New Zealand. Like our agricultural community, we too are adapting to new trends and finding innovative ways, all while standing true in what we believe in, being clever by nature.”

“The future is exciting for farmers and growers with advances in science and technology. New Zealand farmers and growers are global leaders in efficiency and innovation. We have a part to play driving the sustainable farming and growing solutions” says Mikkelson. . . 


Rural round-up

12/10/2022

Pricing farm emissions: it’s great to enable NZ to boast a world first – but how much culling must be done to achieve it? – Point of Order :

The Ardern government is claiming a world first in its policy to cut agricultural emissions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asserts  that its proposal “delivers a competitive advantage, enhancing our export brand”, and…

“No other country in the world has yet developed a system for pricing and reducing agricultural emissions, so our farmers are set to benefit from being first movers.”

Farmers  themselves  may be bemused, if  not bewildered, by  the Government’s spin because critics claim the  scheme  aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5%, to achieve  what   Federated  Farmers  labels “the unscientific pulled-out-of-a-hat national GHG targets”. . . .

Fake meat, false promises and real consequences  – Meg Chatham :

The impact of fake meat on people and the planet could be more damaging than that of well-raised livestock.

Last year, Bill Gates proclaimed that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef” and advocated for the use of “regulation to totally shift the demand” in order to combat climate change.

Ultra-processed food companies tout artfully obfuscated health and environmental benefits of their fake meat alternatives to convince consumers that “meat doesn’t have to come from animals.”

However, upending meat and the livestock industry will not resolve our climate, health, or justice crises. . . 

Simon Upton methane and forestry – Keith Woodford:

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton says there are good reasons to allow forestry offsets for methane rather than for fossil fuels

Simon Upton, in his role as Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has produced a new ‘Note’ for Parliament exploring the possibilities of using carbon sequestration from forestry to offset methane emissions. It is an interesting and some might say provocative paper. Here I present and discuss just some of the big issues that he raises.

First, some explanation about Simon Upton and where he fits into the parliamentary scene. . . .

Milk prices turning sour? – Sudesh Kissun :

Fears of a global recession and questions over global demand for milk products are pushing dairy prices down.

While a strengthening US dollar and lower milk production normally means higher returns for New Zealand dairy exports, a weaker NZ dollar isn’t all good news for farmers, according to Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny.

Penny puts last week’s drop in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices to the “rising dairy prices in local currency terms and a degree of cautiousness in dairy markets following the broader financial market nervousness of the last few weeks”.

Dairy prices have essentially given back their gains at the previous auction. Butter prices led the falls, plunging 7%. Whole milk powder and cheddar prices both posted falls around 4%. Penny told Rural News the result was worse than what futures markets had forecast. . . 

Paysauce launches National Farm Boss Appreciation day :

The first National Farm Boss Appreciation Day will be held this year on 23 November, to celebrate the great employers out on farms across New Zealand.

Nominations for the best boss open today, with farm workers invited to submit a picture and a short explanation of why their boss is the most worthy. The nominees will feature in an online gallery, and a national ‘people’s choice’ vote will take place during November to crown this year’s winner – who will receive an epic prize pack thanks to PaySauce.

“It’s all about celebrating the good sorts out there, the employers that have their team’s backs, dig in when times get rough and make the industry proud” said PaySauce CEO, Asantha Wijeyeratne. “As the payroll provider for over half the employers in the dairy industry, and with rural employers making up around 70% of our customers in New Zealand, we often hear about the employment challenges they’re facing and overcoming with their teams. We want to spotlight the heroes and celebrate them.”

As nominations are received, a gallery of great employers will be posted on PaySauce’s website, with the opportunity for the country to vote for the winner. . .

Sheer grit at record attempt – Leo Argent :

Woodville shearer Sacha Bond is training hard for an attempt to break the women’s strong wool lamb shearing world record in Southland next year.

Coming from a shearing family, Bond has been a dedicated shearer since her teenage years.

She taught herself how to shear when many others in the industry would not lend a hand to teach her.

However, as her shearing skills became more and more apparent, people came around to her talents. She eventually made her way into the first all-women’s shearing course in New South Wales in 2015. . .

Coromandel hero wins Outdoor Access Champion Award :

Ally Davey can turn her hand to just about anything to get things done, and she inspires others to do the same. Her incredible achievements have earned her an Outdoor Access Champion award from Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, presented tomorrow.

The Spirit of Coromandel Trust was set up in 2000 by Andy Reid and the late Keith Stephenson; it funds opportunities for people, particularly youth, to access outdoor activities. After 20 years of fundraising, the trust started building Ride Coromandel Bike Park on an ex-landfill site in 2020, with Ally at the helm as volunteer project manager.

“I remember when I first started, I sat on the grass, and I looked up and thought, ‘Woah, this is such an amazing opportunity. We’ve just got crap all around us and we can make this into something cool.”

The park is a hit and draws riders in from outside the region. It’s been called the little park with a big heart, and Ally is most proud of the difference it’s made for young locals. . . 


Rural round-up

10/10/2022

Wetlands bring adverse effects farmers struggling – Paul Melville :

For the last two years, many farmers have appealed what they view as unworkable freshwater regulations.

The chief culprits have been rules requiring resource consents for planting a winter forage crop, rules that make paddocks of weeds so-called protected wetlands, and rules that require fencing of thousands of mountain streams.

Some 11,000 farmers across New Zealand were in breach of new fertiliser cap rules because a website wasn’t ready in time for them to comply.

But farmers are not alone. The wetland rules in particular apply to the entirety of New Zealand. What has become apparent, however, is that, under the regulated definition of a wetland, we actually have many more “wetlands” than first anticipated. With rules that make it impossible to do any earthworks within 100 metres of a wetland, and wetlands potentially on every corner, the Ministry of the Environment released proposed changes to these rules in May that would create a pathway for quarries, landfills, clean fills, urban development, mining and critical infrastructure. . . 

Oops the world price dips for dairy products but low NZ dollar is a compensating factor – Point of Order :

Dairy prices have fallen  at the  Fonterra  GDT  auction this  week.  The average price at the fortnightly sale fell 3.5% to US$3911 ($NZ6830) a tonne, after rising 2% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March. But   with the  NZ dollar  now  down around the US57c mark, the  impact   of  the  latest fall  on the  farmgate  payout  will not  be as  great as it  at  first appears.

The price of wholemilk powder, which strongly influences the payout for  farmers, fell 4% to US$3573 a tonne.

Prices for other products fell  also: butter was down 7% to $4983,skim milk powder down 1.6% to $3497,  and cheddar down 3.8% to $4,966. . .

This unrelenting wet is squeezing me dry – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There’s nothing glorious about mud, mate.

The big wet. There is no other term I could use for these past four months.

It’s been horrible.

Other regions have had heavy destructive flooding, which we’ve fortunately missed. It’s the constant persistence of rainfall and no drying that has been difficult here. . . 

There’s strength in numbers for future farms – Neal Wallace:

Data-driven transformation of farms is the way forward, panel says.

Rob Macnab believes New Zealand sheep and beef (ngā kau me ngā hipi) farming systems are on the cusp of an exciting era but warns that farmers need confidence – and assistance to collect and understand data to drive that change.

A consultant with Total Ag in the Waikato, Macnab was part of an online panel discussing how to match consumer expectation with farm business realities. 

He said collecting data on greenhouse gas emissions is a new skill set for many farmers (kaimahi pāmu). They need to be given the tools and scientific support to ensure collection is accurate and the information applicable. . . 

Keeping the cattle mooving – Shawn McAvinue :

Shawn McAvinue talks to Palmerston Saleyards chairwoman Anita Vickers before the start of the first Palmerston Spring Cattle Sale last week.
Q How long have you been chairperson of the saleyards?

You can say chairman, none of this politically correct bull… I’ve been chairman since 2020.

Q What does the role call for?

Looking after the saleyards, general maintenance and making sure everything is happening.

Q What will you do today? . . 

Dutch farmers face a major uncertainty – Sudesh Kissun:

European dairy co-operative FrieslandCampina has put on hold a cash payment to farmer members due to uncertainty over the Dutch Government’s nitrogen proposals.

Chief exectuive Hein Shumacher says the Dutch Government’s target for reducing nitrogen pollution in some areas by up to 70% by 2030 is “a major uncertainty”.

“For this reason, we are exercising extra caution in terms of our outlook for the rest of the year, and we have decided to forego the interim pro forma supplementary cash payment to our member dairy farmers.

” Dutch farmers have been taking to the streets in the Netherlands to protest, calling the targets unrealistic. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/08/2022

MPI allays foot-and-mouth rumours while prices fall again at dairy auction – Point of Order:

It’s a tense time in New Zealand’s farming industries. Already the Ministry for Primary Industries has  had to shoot  down  an  overseas  news  report that  China  had  shut  its  borders  to  NZ  and  Australian  products  due  to  concerns   about  foot-and-mouth.

NZ  exports  to  China  are  continuing  as   normal, a Ministry  for Primary Industries spokesman said.

And Fonterra’s  fortnightly GDT auction  went  ahead  as scheduled  this  week,  with  keen  bidding   by   Chinese buyers.

Prices fell  for the  fifth  consecutive  time but  buying  caution  was  attributed to  the  fact consumers  are  worrying about soaring food prices. Other  observers  noted  the  impact on demand of disruption from Covid-19 lockdowns in China, an economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. . . 

Dairy man laments lack of recognition of sector’s progress – Peter Burke:

The man who has led the Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) for the past 15 years believes the dairy sector does not get enough recognition for what it does for NZ.

Malcolm Bailey, who steps down from his DCANZ role this week, has made a huge contribution to NZ and the dairy sector in particular for nearly four decades.

Bailey says one of the difficult things he’s had to overcome in his tenure at DCANZ is getting traction in the media about all the initiatives and works that the industry has done in the face of public criticism.

He says individual farmers – and the industry itself – have invested massively to minimise the environmental footprint of dairying and there have been some real success stories that have not been recognised. . . 

Fielding boy made good :

Malcolm Bailey grew up on a dairy farm near the township of Feilding in the lower North Island.

He still farms there today, with his son doing much of the on-farm work, while he focuses on his numerous other roles.

After completing a Bachelor of Ag Economics, Bailey left the family farm and took a job in the economics section of the Reserve Bank. One of his roles was to crunch some of the balance of payments numbers. It was here that he experienced the power of one Robert D. Muldoon, a man whose interventionist policies were eventually one of the reasons the young Malcolm Bailey went back to the family farm.

“As far as I was concerned, he was a lying crook who took the NZ economy in completely the wrong direction,” Bailey told Rural News. “The Reserve Bank could do nothing, despite a lot of the officials hating what was going on, but they couldn’t speak out publicly.” . .

A 50 year deer affair at Invermay – Shawn McAvinue:

A milestone of 50 years of science delivering for the deer farming industry will be celebrated in Mosgiel next month.

AgResearch scientist Jamie Ward is on the committee organising a celebration of 50 years of deer farming science at Invermay Agricultural Centre on Monday, September 26.

“I’m the one who did the math and figured out it all happened 50 years ago.”

In 1972, scientist Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter launched a deer farming research programme at Invermay. . .

How Seremaia Bai uses ag as a vehicle for rugby :

Fijian rugby star merges agricultural work, rugby and entrepreneurship to help create financial security for players.

He’s instinctively working the Colin “Pinetree” Meads model, only in an entirely different context. And Fijian international rugby star Seremaia Bai is making a real success of it – not just for himself.

While Meads trained in his King Country paddocks for his superlative rugby feats back in the day, and went back to farming after active rugby playing, Bai is operating in the new world of professional sport – which is not all rosy, and which has its own attendant challenges.

“The average professional career of a Fiji rugby player is approximately 10 years. But while so many young players have dreams, only 2% make it to the professional level. What happens to the other 98%?” Bai asked.. . . 

Scenic Rim agritourism farmers enforce measures to protect against foot-and-mouth disease – Heidi Sheehan:

Agritourism operators in south-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim region are asking tourists to sign waivers — and some to avoid their properties altogether — due to increased vigilance about the threat of foot-and-mouth disease. 

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affects pigs, cattle, goats and sheep.

It was detected in Indonesia in May and spread to Bali earlier this month, prompting fears a tourist could carry the disease into Australia on clothing or footwear.

In the worst-case scenario, billions would have to be spent on a national response while scores of painfully diseased cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats could be culled. . .


GDT positive again

08/06/2022

The price index in Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade auction increased again after five successive declines.

One auction isn’t a trend but milk swaps are offering $10 a kilo of milk solids which gives cause for optimism that the farmgate price will hold up this season.


Rural round-up

11/04/2022

Feed shortage a concern for dry south – Neal Wallace:

Dry conditions continue to grip farms in Southland and Otago, worsening already stretched feed supplies compounded by delays in getting stock processed.

Between 8mm and 30mm of rain fell over Southland and southern Otago this week, but temperatures have also fallen.

Weather forecasters are offering little prospect of significant regular rainfall for the remainder of April, although there another southerly next week could deliver a further 20-40mm.

“It’s still below average but much better than we have had in the last few months,” WeatherWatch chief forecaster Philip Duncan said. . . 

Global dairy prices weaken as China reduces its demand – Point of Order:

The ANZ world commodity price index hit a new record in March, lifting  3.9%.  Prices are very strong across most commodities, although none of the sub-indices are currently at record levels.

In local currency terms, the index gained just 0.5%, as local returns were eroded by a 3.1% gain in the trade weighted index (TWI).

While farmers were  digesting this  news, the latest global dairy auction  recorded a dip in prices as  demand weakened from Chinese  buyers.  The GDT  price index slid 1% to 1564 at the  auction following a 0.9% fall at the previous bimonthly auction.

Dairy prices have risen steeply at auction this year, pushing the index to record levels, as tight supply underpins demand. . .

Kiwifruit picker reveals secret to earning $60 per hour – Annemarie Quill:

Is it really possible to earn $60 an hour picking fruit? “Absolutely,” says Maketū’s Trish Townsend, who has been a kiwifruit picker in the Bay of Plenty for four years.

“I did $60 per hour yesterday, and I am looking forward to $90 an hour at Easter when we’ll be on time-and-a-half. As long as the weather stays fine, I will be going hard.”

Last month Stuff revealed that high pay rates of up to $60 per hour, and incentives such as cash bonuses, prizes and free transport, accommodation and food, are being offered to lure pickers to the kiwifruit industry, which is experiencing its “toughest-ever season” due to the impact of Covid-19.

The industry usually requires 24,000 people to pick and pack over a typical harvest, but is drastically short this season due to a lack of international workers, such as backpackers or seasonal workers from overseas. . . 

Cannabis farm gets 32m grant new generation coming into agriculture – Tessa Guest:

The government has given a cash injection to the country’s largest medicinal cannabis grower, saying it could become as successful as the wine industry.

Puro, a specialist cannabis grower near Kēkerengū, between Blenheim and Kaikōura, was given a $32 million grant today.

The $13m is coming from taxpayer money, and the remaining $19m is from private investors.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the “weird and wacky” grant would kickstart the organic medicinal cannabis industry in New Zealand. . .

Mountain bike trails put new spin on Whanganui farm – Country Life:

Sheep bleating and shearing machines whirring are sounds of the past at the Oskams’ old woolshed.

Nowadays you are more likely to hear the buzz of bike chains, the hiss of tyre pumps and the whooping of mountain bikers stopping for a break after whizzing around the trails above.

Bikes hang in the sheep pens, the sheep dip has been turned into hot showers and the wool sorting table is used for preparing feasts when there’s a big crowd.

Tom Oskam spent his boyhood here on the land which is snuggled into a bend in the Whanganui River. It used to be part of a much bigger farm used for sheep, beef and forestry.   . . 

New Ravensdown chair to focus on pathways to progress :

Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer Bruce Wills has been elected the new Chair of Ravensdown as current Chair John Henderson concludes his term on 31 May 2022.

The former Federated Farmers national president is excited about the recently evolved strategy of the co-operative which is sharpening its focus on improving farmers’ and growers’ environmental and productive performance.

Bruce was voted in as a Ravensdown director in 2015, working closely with John Henderson who has been a director since 2004 and Chair since 2014.

“It’s been an eventful seven years on a Ravensdown board that, alongside the staff and management, have worked tirelessly towards a vision of smarter farming for a better New Zealand,” said Bruce. “I am passionate about Ravensdown’s role as the nutrient leaders in the areas of science, supply and solutions for an agsector striving for more sustainable ways forward.” . .

 


Rural round-up

18/03/2022

World dairy prices ease from record peak but the industry is the big driver of export receipts as trade deficit widens – Point of Order:

Dairy prices levelled  off  in  Fonterra’s  latest  Global Dairy Trade auction  but  remain  close  to the  peak reached  at  the  previous  auction  a  fortnight  previously.

The GDT price  index  eased 0.9%  to 1579, the second-highest level on record, down from 1593.

Dairy farmers   who  had  seen prices  surge  in  the  past  five  auctions  may  have  been disappointed.  But  as Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny pointed  out, uncertainties around global dairy demand arising from surging Covid-19 case numbers in China, the world’s largest dairy market, is likely to have weighed on prices.

Fonterra  has  steadily  raised  its  forecast payout  to  the  $9.30-$9.90kg/MS range – the  highest it has  ever been – as  the  GDT index  has  climbed  18%  this  season. . .

Kiwifruit harvest needs ‘all the help it can get’ – growers :

With travellers wanting to take a working holiday now able come to Aotearoa for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the kiwifruit industry is highlighting there are plenty of jobs on offer.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Colin Bond said pre-Covid New Zealand welcomed about 50,000 working holidaymakers into the country each year.

His industry required 24,000 seasonal workers for picking and packing roles and backpackers had traditionally make up about one quarter of the workforce.

“This year a record crop of over 190 million trays are forecast to be picked. Each tray has about 30 pieces of kiwifruit, meaning the industry needs all the help it can get.” . . 

Instead of being the best in’ the world be the  best ‘for’ the world – Sarah’s Country:

   In an environment where farmers & growers may be thinking it’s all coming at them, Becks Smith can see the light at the end of the tunnel when we condense the overwhelm and see the challenges through a more holistic approach.  

New Zealand farmers naturally have an inter-generational view of stewardship of their land, but sometimes need support to bring the right expertise together when they are on the next level of their sustainability journey.

Becks Smith discusses with Sarah Perriam, host of Sarah’s Country, how her career journey as a vet in Central Otago, alongside farming with her husband’s family, is evolving into the social enterprise The Whole Story.

She shares her insights into how to take small steps towards change and how important to pull an advisory board around our farmers that are all on the same page. . . 

UK and NZ animal health associations welcome regularity co-operation :

The animal health associations in the UK (NOAH) and New Zealand (Agcarm) have welcomed the publication by the countries’ regulatory agencies of guidance that will enable simultaneous review of animal medicine marketing authorisation applications in the two countries.

Arising from discussions between the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the guidance document ‘United Kingdom-New Zealand Regulatory Cooperation: Guidance on Veterinary Medicines Simultaneous Reviews’ will serve as the foundation to enable these simultaneous reviews to happen.

This comes as a far-reaching trade deal has also been announced between the two countries, which includes an animal welfare chapter with a clear statement that animals are recognised as sentient beings. Provisions include a commitment to increased bilateral cooperation, as well as working together in international fora to enhance animal welfare standards. . .

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual report supports Aotearoa’s beekeepers :

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual Winter Colony Loss survey results are out now and show that the country’s beekeepers are serious about working together to support a strong bee industry.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist Richard Hall says more beekeepers than ever took part in this survey, the seventh so far.

“This level of involvement and our beekeeper’s transparency in self-reporting shows how seriously they take biosecurity, and how valuable Biosecurity New Zealand’s support is in strengthening the bee industry.

“Strong biosecurity systems and management of pests and diseases are essential to production and the data gathered this year will help beekeepers identify where they need to focus their management efforts,” says Dr Hall. . . 

The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road – Jane Jeffries:

Having spent a large part of the summer in the Queenstown region we decided to explore The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road.

I was a little nervous, as I hate scary roads, but secretly wanted to do it. The thought of driving up the Remarkable ski field road makes me anxious, with sheer drops and no barriers. So a rugged road, with tight corners, possible oncoming traffic reeked of danger to me.

This classic piece of New Zealand road is only open in the summer for 4wd vehicles as it’s snow-bound in winter. The valley can be accessed from Bannockburn, just outside of Cromwell or Garston, near Kingston at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu.

Which ever way you start The Nevis, make sure you allow time for a meal at the legendary Bannockburn pub, the food is fabulous.  . .


Rural round-up

16/03/2022

Concern over freshwater rules implementation – Neal Wallace:

The NZ dairy herd increased 82% between 1990 and 2019, with some of the largest increases in Canterbury and Southland. Neal Wallace investigates the future of dairying in those regions and talks to some innovators who are confident that with the use of technology and management changes, dairying has a future.

The impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations could invariably end dairying in Southland or result in a 20% decline over 20 years, depending on who you talk to.

Similarly, there are forecasts the number of dairy cows in Canterbury could decline by up to 20% over that period, depending on how regional councils implement National Policy Statement on Freshwater (NPS-FW) limits on the use of synthetic nitrogen and controls on leaching.

New regulations limiting nitrogen use will require changes, worrying farmers, especially in Canterbury and Southland, where dairy expansion has made nutrient loss to waterways an issue. . . .

Telling our carbon footprint story :

AgResearch’s world-class Life Cycle Assessment team provides an evidence base to help maintain NZ’s export market edge.

As New Zealand seeks to maintain its position as a leading food producer to the world, measuring and reporting the environmental impact of its products has never been more critical.

This is where AgResearch’s world-class Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) team plays a pivotal role: by delivering research to prove the efficiency and sustainability of food production in New Zealand, and how it stacks up against the rest of the world.

“I use the analogy of writing a story,” explains AgResearch scientist and LCA team member, Dr Andre Mazzetto. . .

Let the good times roll! – Rural News:

Last week New Zealand dairy farmers woke up to fantastic news on two consecutive days.

The first was the early morning signing of a free trade deal between New Zealand and the United Kingdom in London.

The second was the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index rising for the fifth straight time; more importantly whole milk powder and skim milk powder, used by processors to set the milk price, posted solid gains.

The two doses of good news come as farmers grapple with issues including rising costs, a pandemic and a looming levy/tax on greenhouse gas emissions. . . 

Chasing a perfect shearing day – Gerald Piddock:

An award-winning shearing couple, who spent their careers chasing the perfect shearing day, say there’s no greater feeling than finding your rhythm and getting into the ‘zone’, because that’s when the tallies start to happen. They spoke to Gerald Piddock.

Being a top shearer means chasing perfection.

It’s about having a perfect day in the shearing shed where the wool flows off the sheep from the shearer’s blade.

Chasing that perfection has elevated Emily and Sam Welch to be regarded among the best in the industry. For Emily, it has seen her become a world record holder and industry role model for female shearers. . . .

New Zealand’s borders open for kiwifruit workers :

Ever fancied being paid to work outdoors amongst New Zealand’s beautiful landscape with the nation’s iconic fruit?

New Zealand’s borders have just opened to backpackers again and the country’s kiwifruit industry is crying out for help to pick and pack it’s small, fuzzy fruit.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit New Zealand, Working Holiday Visas are available from today and the kiwifruit industry has lots of jobs up for grabs.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) are leading the call for people to visit their beautiful country. “I strongly encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and join the team”, says NZKGI CEO Colin Bond. “Picking is a great opportunity for those who like to be in the outdoors, while the packhouse is suited to those who like to have fun in larger teams indoors”. . . 

Farm housing in short supply – Shan Goodwin:

DONGAS and relocatable homes in strong demand on farms are now in very short supply on the back of the same shortages of building materials and labour that has wreaked havoc in the construction business.

Waits on new relocatable homes have pushed out to 18 months, prices of second-hand dongas have tripled and some manufacturers have even shut up shop until supplies come back on line.

Ironically, the supply challenges have coincided with ramped up demand for both farmhouse replacements and additional dwellings on agriculture properties on the back of strong commodity prices.

David Rowe, from Victoria’s Bond Homes, which has been building relocatable homes at Ballarat for more than three decades and has strong custom in replacing old farmhouses and installing new dwellings for farm workers, says pandemic material supply issues are now being amplified by the Ukraine war. . .


Rural round-up

14/03/2022

He Waka Eke Noa caught in crosswinds – Keith Woodford:

He Waka Eke Noa was always going to be controversial. Right now, it is in some trouble.

Four weeks have slipped by since I last wrote about the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposals for dealing with agricultural emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. During that time, DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb have been conducting roadshows around New Zealand trying to convince their members to support the HWEN proposals.

If the HWEN proposals are accepted by farmers and the Government, then this will be the framework for agriculture’s greenhouse gas (GHG) levies through to 2050. So, we have to get it right.

My assessment is that the roadshows are not going particularly well. I make that judgement in part from the flood of emails I am getting from upset farmers, but more importantly because of the fundamental flaws within the current proposals. . . 

Rural sector calls for fuel price relief – Sally Murphy:

Rural industries struggling with rising fuel costs are calling on the government to reduce fuel taxes to make it more affordable.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed the oil price up to US$109 (NZ$159) a barrel – resulting in the price at the pump tipping over $3 a litre here.

Rural Contractors chief executive Andrew Olsen said contractors would have to pass the increased costs on to farmers, which would lead to increased food prices.

“When the product lands in a supermarket at a much higher cost it’s probably going to raise eyebrows,” he said. . .

Why are global dairy prices so high? here’s what you need to know :

Recently, global dairy prices hit a record high.

Last week the average price at the fortnightly global dairy auction rose 5.1 percent to $US5065 ($NZ7370) a tonne, after rising 4.2 percent in the previous auction.

The Global Dairy Trade price index hit 1593, breaking the previous record of 1573 set in April 2013.

Prices for other products were up too – wholemilk powder, butter, skim milk powder, and cheddar cheese. . .

Backing rural New Zealand – Christopher Luxon:

In my very first speech as National Party Leader, I said that our farmers are not villains.

Our provincial heartland has felt taken for granted for too long.

I’m proud to lead a party that is committed to standing up for farmers and rural communities – committed to representing you, championing your causes, and reducing the regulatory burden you face.

One of the things I’ve consistently heard loud and clear as a Member of Parliament is how New Zealand’s rural communities are feeling innundated by costs, rules and regulations flowing from Wellington. . . 

Horse and plough add French touch to Marlborough vineyard – Country Life:

A Clydesdale named Gordon is bringing an extra touch of France to Marlborough’s Churton vineyard.

Under the expert guidance of his French handler, Gordon is in training for the autumn ploughing season after a summer kicking up his hefty hooves on this beguiling block of vines above the Waihopai Valley.

Sam and Mandy Weaver set up the vineyard on 51 hectares of former sheep and beef country 30 years ago and are in the process of handing on the reins to sons Jack and Ben.

Biodynamic principles guide them in everything they do so a horse and plough to gently till the strip between the vines fitted in well with their vision for the vineyard. . . 

Boundless opportunities for Bay of Plenty Dairy Ward winners :

The major winners in the 2022 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Scott and Rebecca O’Brien, are passionate about their business and the dairy industry and believe there are endless opportunities at all levels.

The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Awakeri Events Centre on Friday night. The other big winners were Hayden Purvis who was named the 2022 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Thomas Lundman, the 2022 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Scott (39) and Rebecca (41) are 50/50 sharemilking over two farms – Rory & Susan Gordon’s 260ha Galatea 650-cow property, and Peter & Cathy Brown’s 100ha, 250-cow property. They won $9,800 and four merit awards.

Scott grew up on a dairy farm, and when it was sold when he was 13, he knew the journey hadn’t ended for him. “I just love working with animals and the diverse day-to-day tasks of being a farmer.” . . 


Rural round-up

03/03/2022

IPCC report condemns forestry use planned by NZ – Dame Anne Salmond:

If ever there was doubt NZ had gone up a blind climate alley by moving towards large plantings of pine trees, the latest international scientists’ report has firmly laid that to rest, writes Dame Anne Salmond.

It is now beyond doubt that New Zealand’s primary strategy for tackling climate change – offsetting through the Emissions Trading Scheme, with the financial incentives it gives to the large-scale planting of monocultures of exotic pine trees – runs in the opposite direction to international scientific advice.

In the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR6) report, for instance, released yesterday, the practice of “planting large scale non-native monocultures, which would lead to loss of biodiversity and poor climate change resilience” was placed among the ‘Worst Practices and Negative Adaptation Trade-offs’ for temperate forests.

By way of contrast, to  “maintain or restore natural species and structural diversity, leading to more diverse and resilient systems” was placed among the ‘Best Practices and Adaptation Benefits’, with very high impacts. . . 

NZ’s economic outlook is given a lift as dairy prices rise again – Point of Order:

Dairy prices have  hit  a  new  peak at  Fonterra’s Global Dairy Trade  auction.  The GDT index shot up 5.1% to an average price of US$5,065 (NZ$7,509). Whole milk powder rose 5.7% to US$4,757 a tonne while cheddar rocketed up 10.9% to $6,394.

Butter prices gained 5.9% to an average US$7086/tonne, anhydrous milk fat 2.1% to US$7048/tonne and butter milk powder firmed 5.8% to US$4217/tonne. Skim milk  powder was  up 4.7% to US$4481/ tonne.

“This train isn’t slowing down,” said NZX dairy insights manager Stuart Davison.

Other  business-sector commentators  see  the  boom in the dairy  sector   injecting  new  strength into  the  economy at a  time  when it is badly  needed, with  other sectors  like international tourism  and  hospitality hard hit  by the Covid pandemic.

Bidding at  the  auction was  fierce, driven by the  tight supply   position,  as well  as  Russia’s war  on Ukraine. . . 

Good news to wake up to for farmers and growers :

The early morning signing of a free trade deal between the United Kingdom and New Zealand means farmers and growers can wake up with a smile this morning.

Federated Farmers national president and trade spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says with the world the way it is right now, this trade deal gives us reason to be reassured good things do still happen.

“With everything going on in Europe, in the hospitals and health centres, and even on the steps of our own Parliament, it’s reassuring to see this deal signed and sealed,” he says.

The free trade deal will result in the full liberalisation of all trade between New Zealand and the United Kingdom. . .

More international dairy farm workers available soon :

Federated Farmers is pleased to see more international dairy farm workers will be able to cross the border for the 2022 dairy season.

“Farms are short thousands of staff and with continued low domestic unemployment, workers from overseas are the only option to plug the gaps in many parts of New Zealand,” Federated Farmers National Board member and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Many dairy farms are desperate to get teams back up to strength prior to calving and today’s announcement will provide a measure of relief.”

The industry, farmers and the government have done all they can to attract and retain Kiwi workers in the industry, but the need for international labour remains. . . 

Cauliflower selling for nearly $15  :

Bad weather affecting crops has led to a shortage of cauliflower causing a spike in prices.

Some consumers have taken to social media expressing outrage at seeing cauliflower for nearly $15.

United Fresh president Jerry Prendergas said heavy rain in November saturated crops and affected new plantings. . . 

Clever Canterbury sheep smashing stereotypes by smashing smarts :

A sheep in suburban Christchurch is doing its bit to show just how smart a sheep can be.

Lucky, who is six years old, and originally from a farm in Burke’s Pass in South Canterbury, knows a few tricks.

In fact, he knows so many tricks that his owner Caroline Thomson needs a list to keep track of them all.

“He does sit, bow, turn, back, shake, stay, jump, pose, pose is his favourite, through, so that’s when he’ll go under something, wait, go to bed. Now go-to-bed he learnt by getting feijoas, feijoa is his most favourite food. If you give him a feijoa it’s instant,” Thomson said. . . 

Brazil’s beef industry starts to tackle methane emissions – Michael Pooler and Carolina Ingizza:

New farming practices could help the country achieve one of its COP26 promises.

On his ranch in the state of Mato Grosso, deep in Brazil’s agricultural belt, Raul Almeida Moraes Neto has spent the past six years breaking new ground in cattle farming. In the name of sustainable husbandry, the trained agronomist has been undertaking a series of measures to lessen his environmental impact. A small portion of his property near the municipality of Torixoréu has been dedicated to “intensification”, with 15 animals per hectare, instead of fewer than one. Slaughter takes place at 18 months, rather than at 30. Breeding happens at a younger age, too. “It takes less time to produce the same amount of meat, but it emits less methane,” explains the 52-year-old, who has been in the business since 2000.

In the name of sustainable husbandry, the trained agronomist has been undertaking a series of measures to lessen his environmental impact. . .


War in Ukraine sowing seeds of global food shortages

03/03/2022

Kees Huizinga is a Dutch farmer who has been farming in Ukraine for the past 20 years. At the start of the war, he sent his wife and kids out of the country and is doing what he can to continue farming, growing the food that’s needed in Ukraine and around the world. This is an interview with Kees, recorded early in the morning, Ukraine time, on March 1, 2022.

At about 12:00 he talks about the threat of food shortages.

Farmers have stopped planting barley in the south of Ukraine, if it happens all over the country 100 million tonnes of food won’t be produced.

The threat of that was reflected in yesterday’s GlobalDairyTrade auction in which the price index went up 5.1% to a record high.

It is probably too late in the season for that to be reflected in a major lift in the milk payout, but it does indicate a positive outlook for next season.

However, the war is already putting upwards pressure on fuel and fertiliser so any gains on earnings will be at least partially offset by increases in the cost of inputs.

Even if that wasn’t the case, no sane person would want war to be the price paid for a better payout.


Rural round-up

18/02/2022

Climate scientists urge countries to adopt split gas approach :

In a paper published in the prestigious Nature journal, 33 leading climate scientists call for countries to take a split gas approach when setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, such as New Zealand did in our Climate Change Response Act (Zero Carbon Bill).

The paper also encourages countries to use a split gas approach when determining their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. 

The natural extension is that countries should report on warming rather than just emissions, something B+LNZ has been asking for for some time.  

The paper is an important and valuable contribution to conversations about reporting and targets. We’ll be using it as part of our ongoing advocacy efforts, alongside like-minded organisations such as the Meat Industry Association, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Deer Industry New Zealand and others. This means sharing it with Government officials and providing information to media outlets to build understanding.  . . 

Staff shortage still a struggle despite new policy – Neal Wallace:

Just a handful of foreign dairy farm workers and agricultural machinery operators have been granted access following Government changes to the class exception policy approved in December.

Data supplied by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reveals just 51 foreign dairy farm workers and 15 mobile plant operators have been granted visas under the new class exception policy.

Despite pleas from the meat industry for a class exemption for Halal butchers, approval for inclusion in the scheme is yet to be considered by Cabinet.

The uptake of the revised policy is well short on the number the Government allowed for. . . 

Passion for farming goes a long way – Colin Williscroft:

Align Farms chief executive Rhys Roberts recently won the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award, which supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector. Colin Williscroft reports.

He may be chief executive of a company that operates seven farms, a market garden, a milk factory and a yoghurt brand, but Rhys Roberts’ pathway was one that has traditionally been followed by many in the dairy sector.

Roberts and his wife Kiri were Canterbury sharemilkers before joining Align Farms nine years ago as farm managers.

Then after a stint as operations manager, he was appointed chief executive in 2017. . . 

Woolly thinking pays off

Serial entrepreneur Logan Williams will be a guest speaker at this month’s East Coast Farming Expo.

He may only still be in his 20s, but Williams has a track record that is the envy of many. The inventor and entrepreneur has already developed and sold four inventions to international corporations, including one that could create a turning point for the struggling wool industry.

Williams is currently combining coarse wool with polylactic acid derived from corn starch and other polymers to produce Keravos pellets that can be used instead of plastic. Torpedo 7 is about to launch a kayak range made from the revolutionary material and trials are well underway with ski boots, furniture, and other products.

“Our factory in Hamilton can make four tonnes a day of these pellets, so the plan is that we partner with large companies who are already making product and away we go – plug and play,” he explains. . . 

Fonterra, NZX and EEX enter GDT partnership for future growth :

Fonterra has agreed a strategic partnership with New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX) and the European Energy Exchange (EEX) to each take ownership stakes in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) alongside the Co-op.

Subject to the approval of Boards, clearance from European or any other relevant competition law authorities, and finalisation of transaction documentation, the partnership is expected to be completed mid-2022, with Fonterra, NZX and EEX each holding an equal one-third (33.33%) shareholding in the global dairy auction platform.

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the move to a broader ownership structure marks the next step in the evolution of GDT – further enhancing the standing of GDT as an independent, neutral, and transparent price discovery platform, giving it a presence in prominent international dairy producing regions, and creating future growth opportunities. . .

New Zealand’s first plant based milk bottle hits South Island shelves :

  • Anchor’s plant-based bottle, made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material – is now available in the South Island.
  • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which is something that is important to Anchor and its consumers.
  • Since the plant-based bottle was launched in the North Island in 2020, Kiwis have saved enough emissions to travel from Cape Reinga to Bluff 363 times*
  • Anchor’s plant-based bottle is recyclable in kerbside recycling collections . . 

Rural round-up

03/12/2021

Fonterra expected to pay highest milk price since it was formed 20 years ago – Tina Morrison:

Economists have been hiking their expectations for Fonterra’s milk payment to farmers for this season, with most now expecting the co-operative to pay the highest level since it was founded 20 years ago.

In late October, Fonterra lifted and narrowed its forecast for the 2021/22 season to between $7.90 and $8.90 per kilogram of milk solids. The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, increased to $8.40 per kgMS, matching the previous record paid in the 2013/14 season.

Since then, tight milk supply and continued demand have underpinned prices on the Global Dairy Trade auction platform, prompting economists to raise their forecasts even higher, with BNZ and Westpac both picking an $8.90/kgMS milk price, ANZ at $8.80/kgMS and ASB at $8.75/kgMS. . . 

Taxpayers funding anti-dairying messages:

“Some days it’s difficult to comprehend what I see in the news,” says National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“Unbelievably, and thanks to Louis Houlbrooke of The Taxpayers Union and Scoop Independent News, I learnt on Monday taxpayers have funded the anti-dairy documentary ‘Milked’ to the tune of $48,000 — a ‘finishing grant’ given by the New Zealand Film Commission.

“Houlbrooke said in the story the 40,000 Kiwis employed in the dairy sector wouldn’t be happy to know they’ve funded a film that attacks their livelihoods.

“I can tell you right now, as a farmer and MP for a huge rural electorate, we are not! It is a real slap in the face to a sector which brings in 80% of the country’s export revenue. . .

“More milk from fewer cows’ trend continues in a record year for dairy industry :

Kiwi dairy farmers hit a new high for milk production last season with fewer cows, showing that a focus on breeding higher performing cows is paying off.  

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics report, released today by DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), shows that total milk volume, total milksolids and per cow production were the highest on record in the 2020-21 season.

New Zealand has 4.9 million milking cows – down from 4.92 million the previous season, and they produced 1.95 billion kilograms of milksolids.

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle says it is great to see a continuation of the “more milk from fewer cows” trend because it shows a continuing focus on milking better cows and farming even more sustainably. . .

Honey production and yields fall while export volumes remain buoyant for the 2021-21 year:

New Zealand’s national honey production in the 2020/2021 season was down 24% on the previous season and the average honey yield per hive fell 18%, according to the 2021 Apiculture Monitoring Report released by the Ministry of Primary Industries this week.

Beekeeping for the season ended June 2021 proved to be more challenging than recent seasons, with the national honey production down 24% on the 2019/2020 year to 20,500 tonnes, while the average honey yield per hive fell 18% to 25kgs.

These findings will not be surprising to beekeepers, says Apiculture NZ CEO Karin Kos. “Last summer presented more challenging weather conditions than the previous season when the harvest was aided by excellent weather across the country. . . 

NZ Truffle Company plans to be biggest exporter in the Southern Hemisphere  :

Matthew and Catherine Dwan’s aim to use a 139 hectare North Canterbury Farm in a more profitable and planet-friendly way, looks set to create the largest exporter of truffles south of the equator.

In fact, when the NZ Truffle Company’s plantation of 37,500 trees reaches full maturity in 2036, production is expected to be the largest yield in the southern hemisphere.

“At capacity, we’ll be producing around 17,250 kg of Black, White and Burgundy truffles,” says Matthew Dwan, who, along with his partner Catherine set up the NZ Truffle Company in 2017.

The crop, worth between $2500 and $3500 per kilogram, will be exported to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, where there’s a huge demand in the luxury food market for the counter seasonal supply of what’s known as “plant-based caviar”. . . 

Bronte Gorringe pursues her agriculture leadership goals

Bronte Gorringe has always aspired to be a leader in the agricultural industry and sponsorship to attend a renowned development program will bring her closer to her goal.

Ms Gorringe is being sponsored by the DemoDAIRY Foundation to attend the Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program in May next year.

Participants are encouraged to have industry support via sponsorship and DemoDAIRY Foundation would consider supporting additional applicants.

Ms Gorringe had expected to complete the five-day intensive workshop in 2021, but it was delayed due to COVID. . . 


Rural round-up

21/10/2021

Geographical Indications are among the sensitive issues for NZ in free-trade talks with EU – Point of Order:

Trade  Minister  Damien  O’Connor  has  revived hopes  that  New Zealand  can  land  a free  trade  agreement  with the  UK  this  year  and another one subsequently  with  the  EU, following  his just- concluded  mission  to  European capitals.

Farm lobbies  had  not been  confident   when  he  set  out.  In  the case  of the  UK  we had been beaten to the punch by  Australia.

It  seemed  unlikely  NZ  could  get  anything better  than their  Australian counterparts  who  appeared willing to  accept  a  long  phaseout on duties  on,  in particular,  most farm products, including dairy.

Since then Australia  has  entered  the  AUKUS  pact,  which  particularly  riled France’s President Macron because Australia’s decision to  acquire  nuclear submarines  from the US   meant cancellation of  a  previous  (very expensive)  deal to  buy French   diesel-powered submarines. . . 

Global dairy prices rise, hurrah – but so did the Kiwi dollar, and farm costs are climbing, too – Point of Order:

At    first  blush,  there  might have been  some  cheering   in  the  cowsheds  at results  from the  latest Fonterra Global Dairy Trade  auction, with  prices up by  an  average 2.2%.  But the ebullience would have  become  more subdued as  the  reality  sank in  that the  rise in the  NZ   dollar  against the  greenback  meant the price slipped  by  0.5%  in  local  currency  terms. Moreover,  with  costs rising  on  the  farm,  maybe  there  wasn’t  anything  to  cheer  about.

Perhaps   the  only  ray  of  light  has been  Fonterra’s  decision to  offer  smaller  amounts  of  WMP on the  auction  platform  because of  strong  contract demand   in  conjunction with the  expectation  this  season  of  flat  milk supply.

And  the    auction   showed demand is highest for food-service commodities, with butter up 4.7%, cheese up 2.9%, and SMP up 2.5%.

Still,  the average price for WMP  in  lifting 1.5% to an average US$3803 (NZ$5305) a tonne is now 25% higher than at the same time last year. . . 

Carbon farming concerns threaten future of sustainable forestry :

Concerns about the legitimacy of permanent exotic forest carbon farming projects threaten the future of sustainable forestry, Ekos chief executive Dr Sean Weaver says.

“Both native and exotic forests are part of the winning formula that will make carbon farming projects economic. There is a very real risk of Aotearoa New Zealand rejecting restorative carbon farming through policy settings that tar all permanent forest carbon projects – and we could take down sustainable forestry as collateral damage,” he says.

“The 2021 Climate Commission report recommended nearly 300,000 ha of new native forest by 2035 to meet our carbon target under the Paris Agreement. We also need hundreds of thousands of hectares of reforestation to build climate resilient landscapes in erosion prone areas.

“That’s a price tag in the billions, and grant funding won’t make a dent. The investment needed means carbon farming projects need to be profitable and able to service debt, Sean Weaver says. . . 

10 percent of Central Otago-grown fruit going to waste report finds

A new report has found more than 10 percent of the fruit grown in Central Otago is not being sold or eaten.

The Central Otago District Council commissioned the research to better understand how much fruit grown on orchards in the region isn’t being utilised, as a first step to supporting ideas to reduce fruit loss.

The report was written by horticulture consulting business, Thrive Consulting, which based its findings off surveys and interviews with local growers.

It found 85 percent of the apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines grown in Central Otago did leave the orchard for local and export markets, but the rest was not being sold or eaten. . .

Wellington Young Farmers to showcase sustainable innovation :

How could technology and practices solve some of the biggest environmental challenges currently facing New Zealand’s agricultural sector?

That’s the question being asked by Wellington Young Farmers at the Club’s free industry function held in the capital next month.

Showcasing some of the best of food and fibre’s emerging technologies and practices, the event would focus on innovation, the talented minds at the forefront of change and the sheer diversity of skills and thought required to keep New Zealand a global leader in sustainability.

Wellington Young Farmers’ Chair Jessica Black said as a Club, they knew how members and others in the industry were feeling with respect to environmental pressures and wanted to highlight what was being done to tackle those challenging issues. . . 

 

Minimum hourly rate increase at all Silver Fern Farms sites:

Silver Fern Farms and the New Zealand Meat Workers Union (NZMWU) have today announced a lift in the minimum hourly productive rate paid to existing and new employees at all Silver Fern Farm sites to $24 per hour – an increase of almost 10 percent.

Daryl Carran, National Secretary for the NZMWU says the rate increase is an important step in addressing misconceptions of meat processing as a low-paid occupation, and in placing a higher value on starting level roles in the industry.

“Recruitment and staff retention have become issues of critical importance across the primary sector and competing industries with simpler systems of pay can appear on face value to be more attractive,” says Carran. . . 

NZ Fishing lodge wins two international travel awards with borders closed:

Why has a tiny fishing lodge in the back end of the South Island won two international travel awards in the same month—when it’s had no international guests since March 2020?

Owen River Lodge is one of only two luxury New Zealand lodges to be named a winner in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards .

And it’s the second year in a row that we’ve done it.

We’ve also been awarded New Zealand’s Leading Lodge in the 2021 World Travel Awards —up against the likes of Blanket Bay, Huka Lodge and Hulbert House. . . 


Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


Rural round-up

28/04/2021

Migrants adding value to NZ dairy industry – Sudesh Kissun:

Migrant workers add value to the dairy industry and Philippines-born Waikato farm manager Christopher Vila is a prime example.

In two weeks, he joins 10 other regional farm manager winners at the New Zealand Dairy Awards national finals in Hamilton. Vila is Waikato’s Farm Manager of the Year and will be gunning for the national title.

A trained vet, he moved to New Zealand 13 years ago.

Starting as a farm assistant on a 1,200-cow farm in Reporoa he worked his way up to his current role sevent years ago – farm manager on a 340-cow family trust farm in Ohaupo, outside Hamilton. . . 

$8 opening forecast may be on the cards – Sudesh Kissun:

Strong dairy prices point to a record opening forecast farmgate milk price for the next season.

Westpac is forecasting an $8/kgMS opening forecast and ASB has boosted its opening forecast by 20c to $7.50/kgMS.

With five weeks left to run, the 2020-21 season is wrapping up and the next two Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions are likely to have little impact on this season’s farmgate milk price. Last week’s GDT auction saw a 0.4% rise in whole milk powder prices.

Dairy prices are holding most of their gains from earlier in the year and remain remarkably high, a good omen for the coming season. . . 

Fruit picking subsidy fails to lure kiwis – Business Desk:

The Government’s Seasonal Work Scheme (SWS) subsidising jobseekers has lured just 195 new fruit pickers to move to where work is.

Pre-pandemic, temporary migrant workers from the Pacific Islands were the backbone of the horticultural seasonal workforce but with border closures preventing their entry, the Government tried to attract New Zealanders to where the work was.

Announced in November, the SWS aimed to fill the shortage by giving financial aid and support to people relocating for horticultural work. This was alongside other measures, such as bringing beneficiaries into picking jobs.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni is hesitant to label the scheme a success or a failure. . . 

Heifer winner encouraging others – Mary-Jo Tohill:

When you have won as many heifer titles as David Wilson, you would be forgiven for thinking why bother with all the effort of entering competitions.

He has won the South Island-wide title three times and been runner-up twice.

However, the gongs are not everything, says the South Taieri dairy farmer who has lost count of the number of southern district competitions he has won with his purebred Friesian calves.

To the fourth-generation farmer, it is all about taking part. . . 

Farmers encouraged to look to hemp to improve sustainable farming practices :

Representatives of New Zealand’s industrial hemp industry are encouraging farmers to move to growing hemp as a way to reduce their impact on the environment.

Chair of the New Zealand Hemp Industry Association Richard Barge says that the hemp industry offers a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s agricultural sector and urges farmers to learn more about hemp at the upcoming iHemp Summit & Expo in Rotorua this May.

“For years now the Government has been pushing for farmers to publicly address their sustainability – from the pollution of waterways to their greenhouse gas emissions. Hemp can help alleviate some of these issues, working to create a smaller environmental footprint.”

Barge says that hemp has impressive cleansing properties which could help tackle polluted farmland and filter runoff that’s going into our waterways. . . 

Industry groups work with tertiary sector to attract jobseekers into horticulture jobs:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc. and GoHort have teamed up with eCampus NZ to launch 10 free online courses to attract New Zealanders into roles in the horticulture industry.

The short, online taster courses introduce learners to the career opportunities available in horticulture. They cover a range of topics, from health and safety to leading a team in an orchard or packhouse.

The courses are being promoted through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Opportunity Grows Here campaign, which was launched last year to help New Zealanders find employment opportunities in the primary sector.

The course content was developed collaboratively by horticulture industry groups, with support from eCampus NZ. . . 


Rural round-up

05/03/2021

Dairy price lift will give fillip to regional economies and fortify Fonterra’s confidence in pressing on with capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Our  dairy provinces  are  reverberating to  the  news that prices  soared  at the  latest Fonterra GDT auction. The prosperity  this  brings  to the regions  will  provide a  significant counterbalance  to the loss  of earning power  in the tourism sector because of the pandemic.

The average price at the auction climbed 15% to $US4,231 a tonne but,  more  importantly, the price for wholemilk  powder, which is  the  key to the payout  to farmers,rose an astonishing 21% to $US4,364 a tonne. Butter  was  up  sharply to $US5,826 a tonne, or 13.7%.

Overall, the increase compares with a 3% rise at the previous auction two weeks ago. . . 

Reducing cow numbers no silver bullet for emissions – Sudesh Kissun:

Reducing cow numbers isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, says Northland farmer and entrepreneur Tom Pow.

With the Government facing calls to slash cow numbers as part of its climate change action plan, Pow, the founder of HerdHomes, says a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cow numbers would be naïve.

He suggests looking at other options including reducing the number of hours cows spend in paddocks. “Balanced feed can lead to less greenhouse gasses (GHG) or effectively a smaller herd mis-managed could produce even more GHG,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Exciting board role for up and coming farmer – Peter Burke:

A 50/50 sharemilker at an award-winning Maori farming enterprise has been selected as one of two associate directors at DairyNZ for the coming year.

Carlos Delos Santo works for the Onuku Maori Lands Trust which runs a number of dairy farms near Rotorua as well as a sheep milking operation and other businesses. The other new associate director is Cameron Henderson who farms in Canterbury with his partner Sarah.

Delos Santo says he’s really excited to be selected for this role, as it allows him the chance to gain knowledge on what occurs at DairyNZ board meetings and contribute to important sector discussions. . .

Following his calling, not many downsides to farming – Toni Williams:

Mike Carr has had a calling to be a farmer since he was 8 years old; old enough to drive a tractor and help out on farm.

By the age of 25 he’d travelled overseas and had a mechanic’s qualification under his belt before returning to the family farm to work alongside his parents, Ian and Sue.

Then he took over.

He loves farming — and being outdoors.

“You’re your own boss. It’s great — you don’t answer to anyone else,” he said. . .

Shed consent application process could be improved – Shawn McAvinue:

A frustrated West Taieri farmer is calling for the Otago Regional Council to do better so he can achieve his dream of building a shed to keep his cattle warm and dry.

The council says it will seek ways to improve its service.

Fred Doherty, of Outram, said he had expected the process to get the consents required to build a wintering shed in the middle of his 90ha sheep and beef farm to be “simple and basic” but it had been “frustrating” and made considerably more expensive by red tape.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to put my stock inside for winter and to know that whatever nature throws at them, they are safe, warm and dry and your farm is getting looked after.” . . 

Could the next Emirates Team New Zealand boat be made entirely of hemp?:

With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’ time, innovators from a very different sphere have been wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp (iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects. Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static, antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant, breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete and continues to sequester carbon throughout its life. .  .


Rural round-up

04/03/2021

Inexperienced farm machine operators ‘cause havoc’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Harvest is in full swing across the country, and while rural contractors have managed to get workers in the tractor driving seat, in many cases the work hasn’t been up to the necessary standard, industry commentators say.

Rural Contractors president David Kean said the organisation had done everything Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor had asked to fill the worker shortage left by border closures, but reports of inexperienced workers causing havoc were common.

“If you can imagine that you’ve got a guy on the tractor that doesn’t know how to work that tractor to its full potential, so he leaves it in the wrong gear and he over-revs it, which overheats the machine.

“There was an incident that cost a contractor $60,000 because something went through the bailer. There’s been quite a few issues like from what I’ve heard but contractors don’t want to speak out and run down the workers.” . . 

‘Pretty extraordinary’ – Fonterra on GDT results – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra’s reliable supply chain and strong demand from China and South East Asia are helping drive dairy prices up, says co-op chief executive Miles Hurrell.

In an email to farmer suppliers, Hurrell described the overnight Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction results as “pretty extraordinary”.

The GDT price index jumped 15% compared to the previous auction, its eight consecutive price rise. Whole milk powder prices, used by Fonterra to set its milk payout, rose a whopping 21% to US$4364/MT, a seven-year high. Hurrell says farmers would be keen to know what the latest result means for Fonterra’s farmgate milk price. . .

AgMatch grows wool range – Neal Wallace:

It’s niche and has strict specifications to be met, but a farmer collective buying and selling group is proving that consumers still love crossbred wool.

AgMatch is using member’s wool to make jerseys, socks, carpet and carpet underlay, which is then sold via the members and the AgMatch website, earning growers up to $40/kg net for the wool used.

The group’s newest venture is floor coverings, with suppliers recently taking delivery of 900 lineal metres of carpet manufactured in Australia, enough for more than 40 homes.

Most has already been sold for $300 a lineal metre. . .

Doing the unimaginable – Gerald Piddock:

Despite never having farmed, a Waikato couple who had successful careers in Australia, returned home to milk sheep on the family farm and have had to learn everything from scratch.

Imagine quitting your career to embark on a new profession that is the least likely and most unexpected thing one envisions themselves doing.

That’s exactly what Matthew and Katherine Spataro did when they ditched the city grind by shifting from Melbourne to the outskirts of Te Awamutu to milk sheep. . . 

Thousands enjoy terrier-ific day at show

From highland dancers to livestock competitions, the North Otago A&P Show in Oamaru had it all.

However, the most exciting event was the terrier race on Saturday when 20 or so specimens, of widely varying shapes and sizes, raced to catch a dead rabbit tethered to a four-wheeler.

Taking the win was Thomas, a speedy dog who won for the second year in a row.

His owner, Tomlyn Morrissey, of Southland, was happy to see his name on the cup again. Mrs Morrissey’s pooch was so fast the race had been restarted because he caught the rabbit before getting halfway to the finish. . .

Call goes out for kiwifruit pickers and packers:

The first kiwifruit will be picked off the vines this week and growers across the country anticipate needing around 23,000 workers for the harvest. The harvest runs through till June and is expected to produce even more than last year’s record of 157 million trays of Green and Gold.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says ongoing COVID-19 overseas travel restrictions mean growers will be looking to offer job opportunities to even more New Zealanders to provide most of the workforce – meeting the shortfall of people on the RSE scheme from the Pacific islands and working holiday visa-holders.

As in previous years, NZKGI has been working for several months to prepare for the season opening and the significant labour requirements. . . 

Farmers apply to Defra to grow genome-edited wheat:

Researchers are preparing an application to the government to run a field trial of a new genome edited wheat, the first such trial to be carried out in Europe.

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have used genome editing to reduce a cancer-causing compound commonly found in toast.

Acrylamide forms during bread baking and is further increased when bread is toasted: the darker the toast, the more of this carcinogenic compound it contains.

Now the team have used genome editing to develop a type of wheat that is less likely to produce acrylamide when baked. . . 


GDT price index up 15%

03/03/2021

Dairy farmers – and indeed the country – woke to good news this morning: a 15% increase in the GlobalDairyTrade price index.

 

It’s late in the season and only one sale, but the trend gives confidence that Fonterra’s milk payout will be near the top end of the forecast.

 


And now for some good news

17/02/2021

The GlobalDairyTrade price index went up again in this morning’s auction.

This supports the expectation this season’s milk payout from Fonterra will be at or nearer the top of the projected range than the bottom.


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