Rural round-up

July 12, 2018

Dairy industry’s big challenge strategic reset – Keith Woodford:

There is great unease within the New Zealand dairy industry. Many farmers feel that the urban community plus a range of events have turned against them. Most are still proud to be dairy farmers but there is lots of stress and anxiety.  

This stress and anxiety is despite farmers receiving good prices for their milk in the last two years. This has followed two preceding years when most farmers made losses and some sharemilkers were wiped out.

Right now, there are some short-term worries with product prices dropping at the last dairy auction. This is creating uncertainty for the year ahead. But in the longer term, the outlook for dairy is actually very strong. . . 

Jayne Hrdlicka to take over as A2 managing director from July 16 –  Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s new managing director and chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka will start on July 16, replacing Geoff Babidge who had been in the role since 2010.

Babidge announced his plans to retire last year, having overseen the company while its shares jumped from around $1 at the end of 2015 to a then-record of $8.75 on the back of successive strong sales as the company’s infant formula attracted strong demand in China. The shares last closed at $11.40, and have gained 41 percent this year. . . 

Polarised views flowing from what some urban consumers say (loudly), and how they live their lives with the market signals they send to producers – Guy Trafford:

An interesting comparison can be drawn between the dairy industry in New Zealand and the coal industry in Australia. Both seem to have the ability to polarise groups and yet both countries economies are heavily reliant on them.

Coal prices have had a resurgence to over US$100 per tonne which is resulting in calls for increasing the amount exported from Australia. Currently, coal brings in about AU$58 bln, one of the major Australian exports.

Dairying in New Zealand holds a similar place and both hold about 30% of world trade. An observation noted while I am here in Australia is the diversity of commentary in the ‘mainstream media’. In Northern Queensland where coal mining appears to be held in very high regard, the major Cairns newspaper editorial seemed to typify the attitude of many. One piece leapt out which showed the gulf I believe exists between most Kiwis and certainly a section of Australians, “Environmental radicals sit in their West End homes with heating and air-conditioning, driving petrol-guzzling cars and generally in a way that generally consumes plenty of energy, most of it coming from fossil fuel sources”. . . 

Fonterra grants 86-year-old dairy industry pioneer’s sick-bed wish – Paul Mitchell:

A Kiwi dairy pioneer has been granted his one wish for his twilight years – the chance to see what his life’s work has led to in a modern processing plant. 

Palmerston North 86-year-old Don King’s work at the Diary Research Institute, now the Fonterra Research and Development Centre, in the decades after the 1950s helped lay the foundations and processes for modern dairy processing plants.

King, extremely ill and rest-home bound after a massive stroke, had one request – to see where it has all ended up.

And thanks to an old colleague, and the efforts of Fonterra staff, his wish has been granted.  . . 

Safety conference showcased forest floor successes:

A national forest safety conference in August will bring the latest practical solutions to the table for all contractors and forest managers to hear about and learn from. Following the challenges that this industry faced in 2013, it has responded with passion and commitment to new ways to embed safety culture into everyone’s mindset on the job. Also, over the past 5 years mechanical harvesting technologies have come a long way for keeping workers safe in logging, especially on steep slopes.

“Some of our most inspiring forestry safety specialists are those with hands-on experience in both crew culture and harvesting technologies. They have been out there doing it, earning the respect of their peers,” says Forest Industry Engineering Association spokesman, Gordon Thomson. . . 

Protecting people and animals from sharing disease – Agcarm:

On World Zoonoses Day, Agcarm reminds pet and livestock owners that good hygiene and vaccination is vital for protecting the health of people and animals.

Diseases such as Campylobacter, Leptospirosis and rabies are ’zoonotic’ and are transmissible between animals and humans. Research shows that 75 percent of all new human pathogens originate from animal sources.

Campylobacter, which is normally associated with eating undercooked chicken, can be associated with pets, especially dogs. Recent research shows that many dogs carry these bacteria without showing any signs of disease. Poor hygiene, such as not hand-washing before eating can spread the disease from dogs to people. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 29, 2018

Kindness is the best way to train a cow, dairy leaders say – Esther Taunton:

Dairy farmers were quick to condemn the “training” methods of a Northland sharemilker filmed beating cows with a steel pipe, saying kindness and positivity were more effective.

The hidden camera footage, released to Newsroom, shows the sharemilker repeatedly hitting animals with an alkathene pipe, a stick and a steel pipe during milking. 

When asked if he hit the cows, the sharemilker told journalist Melanie Reid he did, but only to train them and the best approach was to be “kind and firm”.  

“You’ve got to train your cows. You can’t let your cows rule you,” he said.

However, dairy industry leaders rejected his methods and said brute force was never warranted. 

Federated Farmers sharemilkers’ chairman Richard McIntyre said training dairy cattle was about making them want to do what the farmer wanted. . . 

Bridgit Hawkins’ app is helping farmers save water, money and time – Simon Pound:

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week Simon is joined by Bridget Hawkins, CEO of Regen, an app helping to drive efficiency on farms.

We love a good chat about the things being done to improve farming practice on this show. And today’s guest is the CEO of an app that helps farmers use less water and more efficiently use nitrate fertilisers to only irrigate at times the soil is ready, meaning less runoff of fertiliser and effluent – meaning less crap getting into our waterways.

Sounds pretty good already. But it also helps farmers save money and keep to their council water usage consents  – so it is a tool that you don’t have to be a big greenie to want. . .

New technology finds a greener way to improve NZ’s crops – Charlie Dreaver:

A new research project that’s underway has the potential to give New Zealand’s horticultural industry a bumper crop.

Hot Lime Labs, through Callaghan Innovation, has created a way to use wood chips and limestone to pump CO2 into greenhouses.

They say it will increase crop production and is cheaper and greener than the current alternative.

It’s no secret in the horticultural industry that pumping extra CO2 into greenhouses can significantly increase crop growth.

But Tomatoes New Zealand’s general manager, Helen Barnes, said giving plants an extra dose of CO2 could be difficult. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership brainstorm ideas to increase profitability:

Farmers are known for their ingenuity and the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) is asking them to bring ideas to the table.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership, which is a joint project between government, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) and the Meat Industry Association, is offering funding to farmers in the form of action groups.

BLNZ southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said RMPP was established to increase profitability across the industry. . .

Agriculture sector salary increases:

After little movement in wages in recent years, people working in primary industries have made gains in what they earn according to the latest Federated Farmers Rabobank Remuneration Survey.

The report released today was developed following the survey conducted in late 2017 and early 2018.

Responses were collected from 940 employers on 13 separate farm positions across the dairy, sheep and beef and arable sectors. In addition to information on salaries the report also provides a range of other data including weekly hours worked by employees, employee age, length of employment and recruitment ease. . . .

Leon Clement Announced as Synlait Milk’s New CEO :

Synlait Milk  is pleased to announce Leon Clement will join the organisation as Chief Executive Officer from mid-August.

The appointment is the outcome of a global recruitment search undertaken following co-founder and inaugural CEO John Penno’s announcement in November 2017 of his intention to stand down.

“Leon has led major businesses internationally, specifically in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and has deep experience in the branded dairy sector,” says Graeme Milne, Chairman. . .

Synlait commits to a sustainable future with bold targets:

Synlait Milk has committed to reducing its environmental impact significantly over the next decade by targeting key areas of their value chain.

The commitments were revealed at Synlait’s annual conference in Christchurch on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 June to staff, dairy farmers and partners:
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 35% per kilogram of milk solids on-farm (consisting of -50% nitrous oxide, -30% methane and -30% carbon dioxide) and 50% per kilogram of milk solids off-farm by 2028
• Reducing water consumption by 20% per kgMS both on-farm and off-farm by 2028
• Reducing nitrogen loss on-farm by 45% per kgMS by 2028
• Significantly boosting support for best practice dairy farming through increased Lead With Pride™ premium payments, including a 100% PKE-free incentive . . .

Sensible solutions making forest safety seamless and smart :

A major national conference on forest safety practices is set to showcase how our forestry leaders have delivered both safety and productivity benefits for people across a range of workplaces.

“Some of our most inspiring forestry leaders have developed safety improvements in both crew culture and harvesting technologies,” says Forest Industry Engineering Association spokesman, Gordon Thomson.

“We’re delighted to have skilled industry leaders outlining their teams’ experiences – especially people who know that safety and productivity can be improved simultaneously. It’s an intriguing line up of case studies for this year’s conference,” he added. . . 

‘Silver Fern Farms National Youth Scholarships applications now open:

Applications are now open for Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships. In their second year, the scholarships award six young people around New Zealand $5000 to assist with developing their careers and capabilities in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the response to last year’s inaugural scholarships indicate a bright future for the red meat sector. . . 

Forget the Hunger Games, greet the driverless tractor – Marian L. Tupy and Chelsea Follett:

If you are a sci-fi fan, then you have probably noticed the dystopian character of movies about the future. From the classics, such as Soylent Green and Blade Runner, to modern hits, such as the Matrix trilogy and District 9, Hollywood’s take on the future is almost invariably negative. The story lines tend to centre on depletion of natural resources, like in the Mad Max movies, the emergence of highly stratified societies, like Elysium, or both.

In Hollywood’s rendition, the future consists of a few people at the top, who partake in the good life and enjoy what’s left of earth’s resources, while the much more numerous masses suffer some form of enslavement and destitution. That is, until one day, a messianic figure emerges to overthrow the existing order, slaughters the oppressors, liberates the untermenschen and ushers in an era of peace and prosperity. . .

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