Rural round-up

August 1, 2018

Keeping Industry quality on course – Sally Rae:

Fleeces were flying at Elite Shearer Training’s recent fine wool shearing and woolhandling course in East Otago.

Industry veteran Tom Wilson had become frustrated in recent years by the lack of training, which was starting to affect the wool harvesting industry.

As he went around shearing sheds, he could see the problems young shearers were having and how quality had dropped. So he decided to do something about it.Fellow industry identities Dion Morrell and Gavin Rowland jumped on board and Elite Shearer Training was established. . .

Good idea’ over a beer proves worth – Sally Rae:

Like many great ideas, Zero Harm Farm started over a beer.

The Queenstown-based start-up had its origins in November 2015, when co-founders Mark Orr and Ross Copland were discussing the then forthcoming new health and safety legislation.

Both were from farming backgrounds and knew “paper and farming don’t mix”.

“Farmers hate paper,” Mr Orr said.

They were concerned about how farmers would comply with the legislation, which came into effect in April 2016. . .

Wool renaissance prompts ‘101 Ways with Wool’ festival – Alice Angeloni:

The global backlash against synthetic products has seen New Zealand’s favourite fibre make a natural comebaaa…ck.

And what better way to celebrate wool’s renaissance than a ‘101 Ways With Wool’ festival, set down for Blenheim next year.

The Marlborough branch of Rural Women hope the “everything to do with wool” expo won’t be a run-of-the-mill event, with plans to get the fire brigade on board to burn a synthetic couch and a wool couch. . .

Europe’s plant breeding exit: regulatory failure:

On 25 July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that plants bred via recent mutagenesis techniques would fall under the suffocating 2001 GMO regulatory regime. The pre-designed hurdles this legislation intentionally imposes on researchers (data, time, money) will lower the likelihood of approving any seed breeding innovation in the EU to, well, zero.

This is a confused, scientifically illiterate decision in a European court that highlights failure on many levels:

  • A failure for science and science-based decision-making;
  • a failure of the European legal system to recognise how this case is part of a larger activist issue exploited by opportunistic zealots; . .

338 Wisconsin dairy farms have closed down this year amid rise of vegan options –  Jemima Webber:

Wisconsin, which produces more dairy than any other state in America, is experiencing a steep decline in dairy farms. In June, 54 Wisconsin dairy farms left the industry, and in May, 78 facilities also closed up shop.

This information was confirmed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), a state government agency.

So far in 2018, 338 dairy farms have “stopped milking cows,” magazine Dairy Herd admits. According to DATCP data, the number of dairy farms in the state has declined every year for more than a decade. Dating back to August 2003, Wisconsin was home to 16,264 dairy farms. Now, the total number sits at just 8,463. . .


Rural round-up

February 5, 2018

Markets in danger – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is at risk of causing global market jitters if its biosecurity doesn’t stand up to international scrutiny, Anzco livestock and agribusiness general manager Grant Bunting says.

Lack of accountability, farmer confusion, inadequate animal traceability and too many pushing their own agendas were key factors contributing to a situation with potential to end in disaster for the meat industry. 

Bunting called for accountability and was not alone.

“There are wider industry stakeholders and other processing facilities that share the same concern.”

While Mycoplasma bovis and the Ministry for Primary Industries response was clearly the topic of the moment, the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme had much to answer. . . 

Camp vision brought to life – Tracey Roxburgh:

Almost four years to the day after United States philanthropists Debbi and Paul Brainerd bought a 1.6ha site in Glenorchy, the doors will officially open on their pioneering Camp Glenorchy project, which will be the most sustainable camping ground in the southern hemisphere, if not the world. Queenstown reporter Tracey Roxburgh got a behind-the-scenes tour to see how the project at the head of the lake is progressing.

It’s one thing to take a tour of a building site crawling with contractors erecting frames, digging holes and assembling roofs, and hear about what it will eventually look like — it’s quite another to go back 12 months later and see the vision brought to life.

In March 2014 Debbi and Paul Brainerd, United States-based philanthropists, bought the 1.6ha  Glenorchy Holiday Park and then  four surrounding properties which now comprise the “Glenorchy Marketplace Project”.

It will open to the public in March. In December  the first certificate of public use certificates were issued by the Queenstown Lakes District Council for five of the camp’s cabins ahead of the first guests arriving on December 20 — part of a “soft opening” to test everything and make sure it was up to scratch.  . . 

Greater penalties for stock thieves:

A Bill designed to deter livestock theft will be introduced to Parliament today under the name of National MP Ian McKelvie.

Mr McKelvie says his Bill intends to introduce stricter measures for sentencing judges to draw on when sentencing thieves caught stock rustling.

“The current law offers no deterrent and the penalties don’t reflect the gravity of the crime or the likely suffering of an animal being slaughtered by a rank amateur. . . 

Second Highest Karaka Yearling Sale result:

The National Yearling Sales has recorded its second highest turnover in its 91 year history.

Over 900 horses were sold at Karaka for a combined aggregate of $97,017,750, smashing last years total of $82,015,500.

The highest combined aggregate was reached in 2008 when $111,148,850 was spent at the iconic New Zealand Sale. . . 

Can Australia’s feedlots compete? -John Carter:

It is invariably said that most of a beast’s breeding goes down its neck. A tour of a feedlot, beginning at the inception pens, confirms the saying. “Genetics” improves with the days on feed. 

Good nutrition is essential in producing good meat. However, Australia is heavily handicapped in the world’s food production race.

Ours is, in general, a tired, burnt out, continent with soil poisoned by our eucalyptus trees. 

Our city-centric governments have allowed developers to cover some of our most productive land with concrete. . . 

 

French seed group says GMO protests could force R&D relocation:

Limagrain, the world’s fourth-largest seed maker, will consider moving its research activities out of France if field trials in its home market continue to be sabotaged by opponents of genetically modified crops.

The French cooperative group was targeted last month by protestors who invaded test fields southeast of Paris and scattered non-commercial seed. That was the latest in a series of actions by opponents of gene-editing technology, which they say will herald a new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Limagrain said the incident ruined a 37-hectare trial of wheat based on conventional breeding and showed the risk of a repeat of virulent debate over GMOs. . . 

It’s all aobut inches in farming life and football – Andrew Osmond:

Do you ever wonder what NFL football coaches say to their players during a big game? That’s the challenge for Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles, the men whose teams will compete this Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Perhaps they’ll turn to the words of a fictional counterpart. In the 1999 movie “Any Given Sunday,” veteran Coach Tony D’Amato [Al Pacino] delivers one of the greatest inspirational sports speeches, ever.

Pacino challenges his team to win the game “inch by inch, play by play.”

This is a football speech, in a locker room, at half time.  For me, it’s also a speech about farming. And life.

Please hear me out on this and let me explain, the idea’s not as strange as it sounds.

Pacino’s character begins by calling the game “the biggest battle of our professional lives.” Then he makes an almost philosophical point: “You find out life’s this game of inches.”

The same is true for farming. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 8, 2018

They need to be able to have a life’: Mother’s plea after farmer son’s death – Kelly Dennett:

Last month Gail Harris spent a night with her sons watching movies, cooking dinner, and listening to them play video games while she dozed on the couch.

As her youngest, Colby Harris, left the Hamilton home for the Huntly farm he worked on, she said a sleepy goodbye. Opening her eyes shortly afterward she realised Colby was still there, watching her.

“I said, ‘Are you okay, Son?’ And he said, ‘Yup’.”

It was the last conversation they had. The only inkling of something amiss. . . 

Westland Milk – closing the gap on dairy’s big brother – Jamie Gray:

Hokitika-based Westland Milk fell behind its far larger competitor, Fonterra, in 2016. Under new chief executive Toni Brendish, the co-op is closing the gap.
Extreme volatility in world dairy markets has taken its toll on companies around the world, and Westland Milk has been no exception.

The co-op turned in a $17 million loss over 2016/17 and its payout — at $5.18 per kg of milksolids — was the lowest of all the Kiwi dairy companies. . . 

Farming for the next generation – Michael Grove:

The age of acceleration
For anyone wondering what the focus of this year’s Oxford Farming Conference might be, it was The Archers provided an answer just before Christmas.

Brian Aldridge asked his step-son, Adam, whether he might be attending the conference. Adam replied wearily. ‘I think I’ll give it a miss this year. It’s probably going to be all about Brexit. I get enough of that at home.’

I know how he feels.

I suspect everyone in this room knows how he feels.

And, of course, I’ll say something in a moment about the specific opportunities and challenges for agriculture on leaving the European Union. . .

Yes we have no bananas but monoculture wasn’t so easy to avoid – Steven Savage:

In 1923, Frank Silver and Irving Cohn published a song that became a major hit for the Billy Jones Orchestra, with the signature line “Yes, we have no bananas; we have no bananas today.” It turned out to be sadly prophetic as, in the 1950s, the banana trees that supplied the entire global banana export business were wiped out by a soil-borne fungal disease known as “Panama Wilt.”

The industry at that time was almost entirely based on a single banana cultivar called “Gros Michel” (meaning “Big Mike”), and it was susceptible to infection by a strain of fungus called Fusarium. Once the soil of a given plantation was contaminated with that strain, any Gros Michel tree grown there would soon die.

By good fortune, a different banana cultivar that was being grown in the South Seas was able to substitute for Gros Michel as a commercial line, and this new “Cavendish” cultivar became the new banana of international commerce, as it remains to this day. . .

Speech to the Oxford Farming Conference – Mark Lynas:

Five years ago, almost to this very day, I stood before you and offered an apology for my earlier anti-GMO activism. Today I want to do something different.

Whereas my 2013 speech was something of a declaration of war against my former colleagues in the anti-GMO scene, today I want to offer an olive branch, to map out the contours of a potential peace treaty.

For me it’s been a very intense five years. The 2013 speech really did change my life in ways I had never anticipated. I was accused of having been the global founder of the anti-GMO movement, and my stance was compared with being a rapist by one well known activist.

I don’t like to run away from a fight, so since then I’ve devoted myself pretty much full time to the GMO issue. I’ve been to numerous countries in Africa and Asia and met farmers, scientists, activists and others on both sides of this very contentious debate. . . 


Rural round-up

October 15, 2015

Farmer saved seed to be retained:

The recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks have created disappointing doomsayer discourse.

Some misinformed commentators have a view that farmers will be stopped from saving some seed from their crops.

NZ Plant Breeding and Research Association (PBRA) President Tom Bruynel says there is no intent at all by the seed industry to get rid of farmer saved seed.

He says the Association and the Arable Industry Group of Federated Farmers have been jointly saying that the right to save seed needs to be part of any updated plants legislation and there is agreement in principle that there be a fair and simple system of royalty collection for seed that has been kept back for sowing. . . .

Judicial review sought of Lochinver decision:

Pure 100 Farm Limited (Pure 100), a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin, is seeking a judicial review of the Government’s decision to decline its application to purchase Lochinver Station.

Announcing the decision, Terry Lee, Director of Milk New Zealand (a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin) said the aim of the review is to obtain clarity on the ‘counterfactual’ to be used when assessing sales of non-urban land of greater than 5 hectares to overseas investors.

“To assess the benefits of an investment in such land, the regulator assesses the application against 21 factors which are laid out in the Overseas Investment Act and the Overseas Investment Regulations. These benefits are assessed relative to what would have occurred if this particular investment was not to occur i.e. ‘the counterfactual’. . . 

Ploughing the perfect well-turned furrow – Kate Taylor:

The drawcard of ploughing competitions for Tirau farmer Angela Taylor are the challenge and the camaraderie.

“There’s a lot of technique to it and you need a lot of concentration,” she says.

“There’s the satisfaction of achieving and improving, and the pride when you look at the straight furrows afterwards.” . . .

Innovation key to food security – Daniel Kruithoff:

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has put innovation at the heart of the government’s efforts to improve the country’s global competitiveness.

The government’s renewed focus on the pivotal role innovation plays in helping us overcome complex challenges is welcome.

And I can think of no more complex challenge than sustainably producing enough food to meet rapidly rising global demand.

It is hard to not be alarmed by the looming collision of a rapidly growing population and a changing, more volatile climate. . . 

Organic GMOs Could Be The Future of Food — If We Let Them – Ferris Jabr:

Two years ago, I traveled to Woodland, California, to meet scientists who were developing tastier and more nutritious fruits and vegetables. On the way to the research center, my taxi driver asked what had brought me to town. “Well,” I started, “I’m a journalist and I’m here to visit Monsanto.” “Monsanto? They do all that unnatural GMO stuff, right?” “They do make a lot of GMOs,” I replied, “but the scientists I’m visiting do not use genetic engineering.” Instead, they perform marker-assisted breeding. They chip off tiny bits of seeds and young plants and analyze their genes in search of desirable traits. Then they use that information to decide which seeds to plant and, later, cross-pollinate and which ones to reject, speeding up the traditional plant breeding process. “And that’s not GMO?” my driver asked. “Since they are just reading the DNA, not changing it, it’s technically not a form of genetic engineering,” I answered.

I was about to go on, but I caught myself. In part because I worried that I was on the verge of subjecting another human to an unexpected seminar on plant genetics. But, more fundamentally, because I realized that what I had just said was wrong. Of course the breeders at Monsanto were changing the plants’ DNA. That is what breeders everywhere have done for centuries, regardless of their tools. That is what the pioneers of agriculture started doing at least 10,000 years ago. That is what sex itself does: it shakes up DNA. In that moment, I realized just how meaningless the term GMO is, and how obfuscating it is, too. . . 


Rural round-up

August 9, 2015

Merino deal lines up with Swanndri – Tim Cronshaw:

A new deal has been inked by the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) to supply fine and strong wool to Swanndri for its outdoor clothing and new urban range.

An initial 30 tonnes of wool will be supplied by NZM’s supplier network of merino, mid-micron and strong wool farmers with most of the strong wool to come from its business partner Landcorp, the government-owned farming company.

NZM expects the tonnage to grow quickly because of its ability to supply wide ranging wool types for Swanndri’s clothing and accessories, from jackets and vests to baby blankets and luggage. . .

Whitestone Cheese takes on trail guardian role – Rebecca Ryan:

Whitestone Cheese has signed on as the first ”section guardian” of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail and will contribute to maintenance and upkeep of the Duntroon to Oamaru section until at least 2018.

Tourism Waitaki marketing manager Ian Elliott said the new initiative was launched as an opportunity for businesses and individuals to make a more ”significant and ongoing contribution” to the cycle trail in its development period.

Simon and Annabel Berry, of Whitestone Cheese, announced their signing as guardians of Section 8: Duntroon to Oamaru yesterday. . ..

Happy to host hunter in Hawea:

The owner of a Lake Hawea trophy-hunting business says he is ”more than comfortable” about hosting a US hunter who is being slammed for showcasing photos of herself posing with a giraffe, wildebeest and other animals she has shot.

Glen Dene Hunting and Fishing owner Richard Burdon said he expected to host Idaho accountant Sabrina Corgatelli at his station in April next year.

She would hunt red stags during the roar using a bow.

Ms Corgatelli is another trophy hunter being condemned on social media after the allegedly illegal shooting of a lion known as Cecil in Zimbabwe by American dentist Walter Palmer. . .

G.M.O. Dilemma: Swaying a Wary Public – Conrad De Aenlle:

Genetic food modification worked out well the first time it was tried.

By planting seeds from the best grain season after season or breeding the best animals to one another, our ancestors changed gene pools and gave civilization its start.

The earliest known practitioners of biotechnology — Babylonians who added a variety of yeast fungus to grain about 5,000 years ago — produced beer and helped make civilization fun.

Proponents of modern genetic food modification through biotechnology expect it to help keep civilization going by feeding people who otherwise might starve, but the public is wary at best. . .

UniBio plots annimal feed revolution – Big Picture (Hat tip Kiwiblog)

Get set for a revolution in animal feed.

If UniBio’s plans come to fruition it won’t be too long before the company orchestrates a major adjustment to the food-chain, and with very positive implications for the environment.

The company already has letters of intent for 110,000 tonnes of its key product, a biologically engineered animal feed manufactured out of methane called UniProtein.

The UniProtein price will be benchmarked against Peruvian fishmeal, as it has the potential to substitute fishmeal in a feed mix for, for example piglets. . .

And from Peterson Farm Bros:
Peterson Farm Bros's photo.


Rural round-up

January 4, 2014

MP: Tractor protest well worth it – Sue O’Dowd:

The retiring politician who once drove a tractor up the steps of Parliament would do it all again.

Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern famously gunned the tractor called Myrtle up Parliament’s steps in a 2003 protest against the Labour Government’s proposed flatulence tax on ruminants. It was later described as the single most effective protest in scuttling what was deemed an idiotic proposal.

Today Ardern is still incensed the Government sacked eminent ruminant scientists conducting research into harnessing methane emission to improve production, even as it was proposing to tax those emissions.

“The scientists were working on something that would potentially overcome the problem, but the Labour Government sacked them because it wanted to introduce a tax on the productive sector that drives the economy of New Zealand.

“It was a lie and it still is a lie. [The proposed tax] was nothing to do with environmental problems. It was about getting extra revenue from the productive sector and it was about wealth redistribution. . .

Fonterra scare could have been prevented– Catherine Harris:

The botched Fonterra botulism scare in August last year might have been prevented if an independent food safety centre had existed, a top toxicologist says.

Professor Ian Shaw, of the University of Canterbury, is among those to welcome the idea of a $5 million food safety centre, which was recommended last month by a government inquiry into New Zealand’s food safety systems.

Shaw, who has chaired a food safety body in the UK, said the Government’s proposal was “a bloody good idea”.

If there had been a food safety centre in place when the Fonterra scare occurred, the test results might have been known more quickly and the false alarm possibly avoided, he said. . .

Sheep injures man:

A man has been airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital with serious chest injuries after being ‘‘rammed’’ by a sheep on a farm north of Hunterville.

Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter pilot Lance Burns said the man did not appear to have been trampled but had obviously been headbutted relatively hard by the sheep.

It was thought he was in a pen with the sheep at the time of the incident.

He stabilised by St John paramedics on board the rescue helicopter and arrived at Palmerston North Hospital in a serious condition. . .

DOC targets rats to help save struggling bats – Neil Ratley:

The Department of Conservation is going in to bat for a critically endangered mammal species in Fiordland.

A low count of long-tailed bats in the Kepler Mountains is prompting DOC to design and undertake rat control to protect the rare species.

The rat control will emulate that undertaken by DOC in the Eglington Valley, the only other known long-tailed bat habitat in Fiordland.

There was excitement surrounding the discovery of the long-tailed bat colony near the Kepler track in December 2011, with DOC staff estimating the population was close to 70. . .

The Myth About Seed Choice – Foodie Farmer:

I recently had a twitter conversation on a topic that seemed to perpetuate an urban myth – that farmers do not have a choice when it comes to planting seed or that seed companies “impose” their seeds on farmers, as if it is a dictatorship… Last time I checked, America was a pretty free country. Most people are able to make choices on what they buy at the store… So why would that be different for farmers?

As a family farm, we grow both GMO (we don’t actually use this term but for the sake of this blog, am using it for the reader for whom it may be a descriptor) and non-GMO crops and choose our seed produced from a variety of different seed companies, buying directly from our neighbors, which frankly, is the whole point of the fabric of rural America. We support one another. . .

Donkey meat contamination scare in China’s Walmart – Horsetalk:

Several Walmart outlets in China have withdrawn “five-spice donkey meat” after tests revealed the presence of fox meat.

The company is helping authorities in eastern Shandong province investigate the Chinese supplier.

Walmart confirmed it found traces of DNA from animals other than donkey after testing the product. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration had been reported as saying the product contained fox meat. . .


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