Rural round-up

19/08/2014

Global grain prices in free-fall – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote how the OECD and FAO secretariats expect many agricultural prices to drop in real terms over the next ten years as supply ramps up across the world. This is particularly the case for staple crops such as wheat, corn and soybeans. However, in the last ten days it has become increasingly apparent that major price decreases are playing out right now in front of us. With the early Northern Hemisphere harvest reports for wheat now coming through, with increasingly positive pre-harvest reports for both corn and soybean, and with existing high global stocks, the prices have all been tumbling.

The first place to look when considering international grain prices is the USA. The USA is by far the most technologically advanced cereal growing country in the world, and has huge global influence. . .

Insights from Canada water trip – Sally Rae:

When Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal headed to Canada recently, she wanted to learn more about how water issues were managed, given that nation’s similarities with New Zealand.

There were similar legal systems, similar amounts of water per capita and challenges similar to those in New Zealand, including rising pressure around intensification and urbanisation putting pressure on the resource.

While she did not return with all the answers she was looking for, which she acknowledged was to be expected – ”water issues are complex and hard to solve, nowhere in the world has solved it perfectly” – she described it as an ”incredible experience”. . .

Growsafe looking to rise to the challenge – Yvonne O’Hara:

If relevant regulations and improved training requirements are introduced for agrichemical users as a result of the new Health and Safety at Work Act, it is likely Growsafe will rise to the challenge.

Growsafe provides basic and advanced training in the use of agrichemicals and is run by the New Zealand Agrichemical Trust.

Growsafe chairman Graeme Peters said the Government, as part of the new health and safety requirements, might consider removing the approved handler regime and replacing it with an Australian model that tailored training to suit the need, rather than the present ”one size fits all” regime. . .

Changing guard at ‘Lake Cowal’ – Peter Austin:

WHEN Leppington Pastoral Company took possession of the “Lake Cowal” property adjoining its Billabong Station at Marsden earlier this month, history to some degree repeated itself.

It was precisely 80 years ago that an earlier resident of Billabong Station had crossed the Bland Creek that forms the boundary between the two properties to make a new home on “Lake Cowal”.

That earlier 1934 migrant was Herbert (“Bert”) Dent, who had managed “Billabong” since 1924 for the Ricketson and (later) Sanderson families before taking the plunge and setting up on his own. . . .

Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award entries open:

Entries are now open for the Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award 2014, which will be presented at the NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists annual awards dinner in Wellington on 17 October.

The Rural Women NZ award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities.

It’s a strategy that’s paid off, says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan.

“Last year the Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award was one of the most popular categories.” . . .

Entries open for 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards:

Entries are open for the 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Now in its 39th year, the Awards are a celebration of excellence in New Zealand winemaking and is widely considered to be the country’s most prestigious wine competition.

“Our industry is known for its commitment to quality, innovation and exceptional wines. The Air New Zealand Wine Awards is a fitting showcase for this,” says New Zealand Winegrowers’ Global Marketing Director, Chris Yorke. . .


Wills Ag Communciator of the Year

14/06/2014

Federated Farmers’ president Bruce Wills is the 2014 Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year.

 . . .In the three years he has led Federated Farmers, Bruce has been an outstanding communicator, successfully representing the interests of farmers with his open, friendly and enthusiastic manner, helped by his willingness to listen to people.

Ahead of several other very worthy recipients, Bruce was selected by an independent panel of judges to receive this prestigious award, announced at an awards dinner in Hamilton last night.

Bruce farms with his brother at Te Pohue, on a sheep and beef operation carrying 7500 stock units. The farm is 1134 hectares, of which 800 hectares are farmed and the balance is in trees and 110 hectares which are protected through the QEII National Trust. He left a career in rural banking after 20 years to return to the family farm and has invested heavily in the long-term sustainability of the farm.

In its 28th year, the Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award is administered by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, and recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues, events or information.

 Regarded as the premier award for agricultural communicators, it is also the most valuable prize on offer. Landcorp provides a prize of $2500, which is part of a funding package of $7500 in sponsorship for the Guild. The additional funding assists with administration costs, including the Awards dinner.

Bruce was also presented with a greenstone and timber trophy, which features a roll call of previous winners engraved on the back.

Guild President Graeme Peters said Bruce is a very worthy recipient of this year’s award.

“He is widely respected for his role in bridging the gap between rural and urban people, and has spent countless hours talking not only farmers to but also urban people, selling the importance of agriculture to New Zealand’s economy.

“His communication skills at all levels and covering all aspects of rural life are recognised by this award.”

Federated Farmers has had a much improved public profile under Wills’ leadership thanks in no part to his willingness and ability to communicate clearly and honestly.

He’s given praise when and where it’s due but has also been willing to accept criticism without being defensive.

He has been a strong advocate for farmers, farming and wider rural issues and has earned this recognition.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

01/05/2013

Feel good factor that comes from living with bees – Sally Rae:

Murray and Heidi Rixon get a real buzz from sharing their love of bees.

The couple have launched a business, offering a beehive rental and management service to clients with domestic gardens, lifestyle blocks or rural land.

It was a business they described as having a ”massive feel-good factor” as they provided a hands-on teaching environment and actively encouraged clients to get involved with their new residents.

Brought up in Mosgiel, Mr Rixon has returned to his roots after years away following an interesting career path; horticulture to aviculture and now apiculture.

Horticulture was his first profession and he worked at the Dunedin Botanic Garden for 10 years before moving to the United Kingdom in 1991. . .

Pesticides not to blame for bee deaths:

Europe’s decision to ban neonicotinoids is another example of politicians making decisions meant for regulators. Pesticides have been blamed for a decline in bee health despite a lack of scientific proof.

“Clear scientific evidence has taken a back-seat to a politically-based decision on regulation, which could mean the reduction of effective crop protection products in Europe,” said Graeme Peters, chief executive of Agcarm.

There is absolutely no evidence that neonicotinoids are harming New Zealand’s bee population. First introduced in 1992, neonicotinoids are thoroughly assessed before being approved for use by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Blaming pesticides is barking up the wrong tree. A multitude of factors are responsible for persistent bee mortality, including pests and parasites, microbial disease, inadequate diet, bee management practices and climate change. . .

Fonterra to cut 300 jobs, slashing costs to invest in growth strategy:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, which imposed a hiring freeze in February, may eliminate up to 300 jobs as it seeks annual cost savings of $65 million a year, adding to $60 million of cost cutting already targeted for 2013.

The review of support services affects workers at Fonterra’s corporate offices in New Zealand. It didn’t quantify the potential restructuring costs. The May Day announcement marks the biggest layoff at the dairy giant since it cut workers in 2006 with the closure of manufacturing plants.

“While we are investing in growth, we have to make sure our people are working on the right things and that we are spending our precious capital on the right priorities,” chief executive Theo Spierings said in a statement. Jobs would be eliminated by centralising services, reducing duplication and stripping out layers of management, he said. . .

No fish for you – Offsetting Behaviour:

If you’re a fisherman on Manitoba’s lakes, you can only sell your fish to the government’s monopsonist Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. I’ve heard different stories about its establishment: some stories had it that the FFMC was set up to protect small fishermen against big corporations who’d otherwise exploit them; others had it that the system was meant to encourage efficiency through centralised processing. Or maybe it was both of them.

It really isn’t working out very well for fishers based far from the processing plant. And it isn’t working out for fishers who have put in the yards to identify markets for fish that the FFMC has deemed to be of very low value. Fishers cannot sell some species of fish to the FFMC at any kind of profit, but they’re also forbidden from selling those fish to other willing buyers. And so the fish are left for the birds to eat. . . .

Farmers Beef Up Leadership Skills At Environmental Forum:

The first Beef + Lamb New Zealand Environmental Leadership Forum has been hailed as an outstanding success.

Twenty five sheep and beef farming leaders attended the B+LNZ -funded event, held in Wellington from April 16 to April 18.

The forum was facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, which has run a similar annual event for dairy farmers and also delivers the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Participants included past-winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and B+LNZ Farmer Council members.

Simon Saunders, deputy chair of the NZFE Trust, says the forum was designed to equip farmers with the skills needed to become effective ambassadors for the sheep and beef industry.

“These farmers have already achieved a huge amount in terms of environmental leadership. So a key aim of the forum was to refresh their skills and give them the tools to work successfully with a range of community stakeholders to address environmental issues.” . . .

DCANZ Welcomes Establishment of Joint Government/Dairy Industry Working Group On Food Testing:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) today met with the Ministry of Primary Industries and agreed to develop appropriate engagement protocols across dairy companies and MPI where a food integrity issue comes to light.

DCANZ Chairman, Malcolm Bailey, said that the meeting was a positive step forward in strengthening closer ties between dairy companies and government to meet market information needs on food testing.“New Zealand has one of the most robust food safety response systems in the world. The detection of DCDs was not a food safety issue but demonstrated strong interest from markets for information on food testing,” said Bailey.

“Today MPI and DCANZ agreed to formalise coordination and communication protocols related to all future food testing incidents, to help meet market needs both in New Zealand and overseas.” . . .

 

Photo: Happy Earth Day everyone! Thanks to www.FarmOn.com for the picture!

 


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