Rural round-up

June 8, 2019

New machine to help export traceability:

AgResearch is developing a method of giving New Zealand exports a “unique fingerprint” that scientifically proves their provenance and could be used to deter supply-chain fraud.

The technology is so accurate that it can differentiate New Zealand, English and Welsh lamb using a measurement that only takes a few seconds. It can also detect what feed – such as grain, grass or chicory – a carcass was reared on, an increasingly important trait driving consumer spending. . . 

Click here for more: https://vimeo.com/340251207/7367c5e18b

Dr Alastair Ross said the new rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer (REIMS) machine being used at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus detects the “molecular phenotype” of a sample, a unique “fingerprint” made up of molecules resulting from the interaction of genes and the environment. This measurement, which previously took over an hour of lab work, can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine. . . 

Farmer submissions encouraged on ZCB:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle is encouraging dairy farmers to speak up and make a submission on the Government’s proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

“DairyNZ welcomes the opportunity to engage constructively and share our perspective on this Bill and are encouraging dairy farmers right across New Zealand to do the same” says Dr Mackle.

“The potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for our sector. That’s why farmer engagement is so important. . .

New Zealand women’s meat industry group launched – Angie Skerrett:

A group for women working in the meat industry in New Zealand has been launched, in an effort to attract more women into the sector.

The New Zealand launch of Meat Business Women (MBW) is the latest in a rapid expansion of the organisation which was started in the UK.

The group held its inaugural meeting in Napier, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector. . .

Farmer satisfaction with banks continues to slide:

Farmers’ overall satisfaction with their banks remains strong but it is declining steadily, the Federated Farmers 11th biennial banking survey shows.

Satisfaction rates are at their lowest since the survey began in August 2015.

“More than 1300 of our farmer members responded to the survey we commissioned from Research First and overall satisfaction with banks has dropped over the last six months from 74% to 71%,” Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

Proceed with caution on speed limit changes:

Safety of people on our roads is a top priority but any move to reduce speed limits should not be an excuse to skimp on road maintenance and upgrading, Federated Farmers says.

“There are some rural roads which are too windy, narrow and bumpy to drive on safely at 100 km/hr,” Feds transport spokesperson Karen Williams says. “It may indeed be wise to post a lower speed limit on such routes, though the overriding rule ‘drive to the conditions’ springs to mind.”

However, the blanket and widespread speed limit reductions being suggested in the wake of data from a new NZTA mapping tool could cause far more harm than good. . .

Comvita CEO to step down, Hewlett to lead strategic review Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita’s chief executive for the past four years, Scott Coulter, is stepping down in September and, while it searches for a replacement, former CEO Brett Hewlett is taking on a temporary executive role to review the company’s underperforming assets.

Coulter will retain a governance role in the manuka honey products company’s business in China business.

“Scott’s commitment to Comvita since joining the company in 2003 has been outstanding,” says chair Neil Craig. . .


Rural round-up

September 27, 2018

Pasture pests costing economy billions:

Pests most commonly targeting New Zealand’s pastures are costing the economy up to $2.3 billion a year, an AgResearch study has found.

The study is the first of its kind to estimate the financial impact of invertebrate pests such as the grass grub, black beetle, nematodes and weevils in terms of lost productivity for pastoral farming.

The full science paper has been published this week in the New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research and can be found here: . .

Alliance meat company paid too much for winter export lambs cutting profit – Heather Chalmers:

Meat company Alliance Group says it paid too much for export lamb over winter, which has hit its profit. 

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said that in lamb markets there had been a “fundamental disconnect” between the laws of supply and demand.

“For the last three months lamb prices overseas have been flat, but domestically the export lamb price to farmers has gone up by $20 a head to procure animals.

In the last few weeks Alliance has cut the price it pays for lamb “as it was not sensible to continue at this level of pricing”, Surveyor said. . .

Westland Milk Products final payout for 2017-18

Westland Milk Products has reported a final milk payout of $6.12 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), less a five cent retention, delivering a net average result for Shareholders of $6.07 per kgMS.

Chairman Pete Morrison noted that a substantial number of Shareholders received an additional premium on the net result of 4.4cents per kgMS for providing UHT winter milk and colostrum, giving them a net average payout of $6.11. . .

Fonterra: ‘lots to do to get basics right’ – Simon Hartley:

China poses several challenges for Fonterra and a2Milk, and both organisations face the likelihood of short term volatility in sales and earnings.

Fonterra’s woes stem from its poor full year result and rising milk prices pressuring profit margins, but it also has to make a decision on its much criticised 18.8% stake in Chinese infant milk formula company Beingmate, which it bought for $755million in 2015.

And a2 Milk could face some short term volatility with recent changes to Chinese law impacting on the thousands of informal ”daigou” traders selling on numerous e-commerce and social media platforms in China. . .

Apple industry welcome release of seized plant material:

New Zealand Apples & Pears Incorporated (NZAPI), the industry’s representative association, has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries announcement that 20,000 apple plants have been cleared for release from all restrictions imposed following their seizure after being imported from a US testing facility.

An MPI audit of the facility in March had found that there were incomplete or inaccurate records associated with this material, which raised the prospect of a biosecurity risk. . .

Minister Sage forced to postpone her tahr hunt

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has been forced to postpone the mass tahr cull she ordered to start this weekend because of huge pressure from recreational hunting and tourism industry, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage personally ordered the culling of tens of thousands of tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected

Prospects good for anglers – Jono Edwards:

Anglers are waiting with bated breath for a healthy southern fishing season.

Otago Fish and Game officer Cliff Halford said yesterday most fisheries in the region were in ”good condition” for the opening of the season on Monday.

”Certainly, weather conditions play a part in how opening day will pan out and it looks like we will get some clear skies.”

While snow expected this week could impact water clarity, so far there were not expected to be any ”major rain events” between now and opening day. . .

More farmers turn to DNA parentage testing to improve productivity:

Farmer owned co-operative LIC has seen an increase in demand for its DNA parentage testing service as livestock farmers place increasing emphasis on cow quality over cow quantity.

This spring, upwards of 250,000 calves from around the country will have their parentage confirmed by LIC’s DNA parentage service which operates from its laboratory in Hamilton. . .

Hancock’s tech transformation has animals, staff in mind – Shan Goodwin:

THE technology transformation and infrastructure rollout taking place across the 34 cattle properties now in the Hancock Agriculture portfolio is as much about leading the way in animal and worker well being as it is about delivering efficiencies.

From the day of acquisition of each station, Hancock’s Gina Rinehart has expected an allowance be set aside for animal welfare investments.

So far that investment is running in the millions. . .

NFU joins forces with food supply chain to tackle food waste:

The NFU is today announcing its support for the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and is encouraging its members to play their part in tackling food waste in the supply chain.

The initiative, run by the charities Wrap and IGD, aims to have 50% of the UK’s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019. It is working towards milestones to help halve UK food waste by 2030.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “This is an incredibly important initiative by Wrap and IGD, and the NFU is very pleased to be able to support it. Farmers are the first step in the supply chain, producing the raw ingredients that make up the safe, traceable and affordable domestic food supply that helps to feed the nation. . .


Missed opportunity for fairer outcomes

July 19, 2018

The Ministry for the Environment has missed the opportunity for fairer outcomes in its new guidelines for the Resource Management Act:

Federated Farmers is in favour of ‘best practice’ guidelines on how councils exercise their duties under the Resource Management Act if they bring common sense and consistency to that role.

But there is concern the new guidelines miss opportunities for fairer outcomes.

The guidelines released by the Minister for the Environment this week are intended to assist councils in their compliance, monitoring and enforcement duties in promoting the sustainable management purpose of the RMA.

Richard Gardner, Federated Farmers senior policy advisor, says this is a very admirable purpose “because too often we find that councils are misusing their powers under the legislation, and managing compliance and enforcement matters inappropriately.

“The guidelines will hopefully usher in more practicality and consistency to the exercise of that role.”

That would be a welcome improvement but there is a but:

Federated Farmers finds fault with some of the guidelines and is disappointed that it had not been more involved in putting them together.

There is concern about the lack of differentiation in the guidelines between routine inspections and inspections that arise as the result of a complaint. Feds also sees faults in the way enforcement decisions are handled.

“We have long held the view that there should be a pecuniary penalty regime for ‘misdemeanour’ and accidental offences, with criminal prosecutions reserved for the worst, deliberate offences, and the current strict liability standard regarding those prosecutions removed,” Mr Gardner says. . .

There is a big difference between deliberately flouting the law and accidents which breach it.

Farmers can be charged for accidental effluent ponding that could reach a waterway. That’s a bit like charging someone for drink driving when they are drinking but have no intention of driving.

Contrast that to the soft approach taken to councils which fail to deal with sewerage spills.

The latest example of this was in Northland:

A Kaipara Harbour farmer says raw sewage was left to flow into local waterways for up to two weeks.

Grant McCallum, speaking with Jamie Mackay on Newstalk ZB programme The Country, said the overflowing sewage was discovered by a Wellsford farmer who leases the land.

McCallum said Auckland Council sent up one-tonne diggers to deal with the broken and blocked pipes but the machines were too small.

Five days later the sewage was still flowing, so the farmer contacted Rodney Local Board member Colin Smith to ask him to get involved.

Smith said there had been problems with the sewerage infrastructure in the area before.

“The sewerage line in the area’s been broken for a long time…it’s buggered.”

Farmers wouldn’t be allowed to get away with systems that were buggered, nor should they be and councils should be held to the same standard.

He said it took far too long for the problem to be fixed.

“The thing is it could’ve been done in eight hours and it took weeks.” . .

Too many councils waste their time and ratepayers’ money on fripperies when core responsibilities like sewerage are in urgent need of attention.

The RMA, or the way it’s administered, appears to let them away with it while farmers are prosecuted for accidents which are often beyond their control.


Price of Milk fails fairness test

April 11, 2017

Sunday asked is our love affair with dairy farming over? and promoted this week’s programme as giving the farmers’ side of the story.

It was supposed to provide some balance to the anti-farming stories which have dominated media and it failed.

Jamie Mackay devoted most of yesterday’s edition of The Country to the reaction.

He interviewed Federated Farmers Dairy chair Andrew Hoggard and Waikato-based farm management consultant John Dawson:

Hoggard found the show “frustrating” as he was expecting to see farmers’ “heartfelt” reactions to criticism levelled at them in the media. Instead Andrew says he saw two farms being unfairly compared to each other which he believes would have created an unbalanced view for those not accustomed to farming.

John Dawson has a lot of clients on the Hauraki Plains where Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm was filmed in the documentary. He says Flint’s farm is not typical and there was a lack of “penetrating” questions for the farm that Flint’s was compared to.

Central Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farmer Steve Wyn-Harris and Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum were equally incensed.

Wyn-Harris was looking forward to a balanced show where farmers would finally be able to tell New Zealand their side of the story. Within minutes of watching he says his “heart sank” as soon as he saw shots of Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm.

Wyn-Harris is so incensed he has laid a complaint with TVNZ and is fully committed to taking it the Broadcasting Standards Authority if need be. . . 

Sunday’s Facebook page  has hundreds of comments, almost all of which are critical of the show.

It also includes a post from the show’s front man Cameron Bennett saying:

We went to the Hauraki Plains with no agenda. We happened upon (as explained) Gavin Flint and he kindly showed us around. 

Happened upon? That might well be the case, but why didn’t the show use more examples.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle writes:

. . .Last year when we heard about this documentary, we approached the production company to provide information and we offered them farmers and industry spokespeople to interview. Several were interviewed, but none of their footage or commentary was included in the final cut.

In my job, I’m fortunate enough to see the good work you are doing on your farms, and the amazing connections you have into your communities.

Good dairying must be made more visible, especially to those that are commentating, those in regulation setting positions, and to our neighbours in the cities and towns.

At DairyNZ we are upping the ante in our efforts to engage with the media, the public and special interest groups to tell the real story of dairying.

As farmers living and working on the land, I urge you to continue to keep up the good work. We all have a role to play in the economy of our country, in staff development, in animal welfare and in care for the environment and our waterways.

To inform and change perceptions it is crucial to reach outside your circle of farming and rural friends. Tell it how it really is to people who may not know much about farming life, but enjoy their milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, etc., which arrives on their tables in a container conveniently purchased from the supermarket. Tell them you produce high quality food, and you’re proud of it. . . .

The Price of Milk  showed two atypical farms, took a far tougher approach to one than it did to the other and failed the fairness test.


Peters standing to give Invercargill MP at Northland’s expense

February 27, 2015

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is standing in the Northland by-election.

. . . He said today that standing in the by-election was not an easy decision, but he had a long held concern for “Northland’s forgotten people”.

National had forgotten Northland for years, and the region was stagnating, Peters said. . .

He will be hoping that Northland voters have forgotten, or never knew, about the vagaries of MMP.

Should he win the seat he will become an electorate MP and the next person on NZ First’s list will get into parliament. That’s Ria Bond from Invercargill.

Quite how Peters will persuade the good people of Northland they will be represented by voting him in as an electorate MP with his reputation for talking big and doing little and in the process losing an MP from their end of the country and gifting parliament one from the other will remain to be seen.

Labour has confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate, and the Act Party will stand Whangarei orchardist Robin Grieve.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are not standing candidates.

If Labour sabotage their candidate in an attempt to unite opposition votes behind Peters it could happen.

Voters often punish the governing party in a by-election and a new candidate usually doesn’t attract the same level of votes a sitting one did.

The 2014 election results show:

NZ First didn’t bother standing a candidate in Northland last year. Mike Sabin won the seat for National with 18,269 votes and a majority of 9,300 over Prime who got 8,969 votes.

National gained 17,412 party votes; Labour got 5,913 and NZ First 4,546. the Green Party managed to get 3,855 votes and its candidate gained 3,639 votes.

National members in the electorate will select their candidate tomorrow.

The five in contention are: Grant McCallum, Mita Harris, Matt King, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

 

 

 

 

 


McCallum seeks Northland selection

February 10, 2015

Dairy farmer and party board member Grant McCallum is seeking selection as National candidate for Northland.

The party’s rules give the right to select a candidate to members in the electorate. Voting delegates  must have been members for at least six months.

They take that very seriously and would take a very dim view on interference from anywhere else, in or outside the party.

Grant is the first candidate for selection to announce his intentions.

He and his family have a long history of active membership in the party which means he will be known to many of the delegates who will vote in the selection.

That will give him a head-start but every candidate has to earn the support of the delegates and nothing can be taken for granted.

Northland is the seventh biggest general electorate, stretching from the top of the North Island, skirting Whangarei, to Wellsford and covers an area of 12,255 square kilometres.

It has no single big centre of population and many diverse and far-flung small ones.


Fonterra regrets . . .

August 6, 2013

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has expressed regret at a Chinese media conference for consumer anxiety caused by revelations that batches of whey protein had been contaminated.

“We regret the distress and anxiety which this issue could have caused,” Mr Spierings says. “Parents have the right to know that infant nutrition and other products are safe.”

The head of the world’s biggest dairy exporter says Fonterra has three key priorities: public health and food safety; working quickly with customers and regulators to resolve the issue; and working with customers and regulators to take corrective action.

The company’s commitment to China “is very high” and there is a “very strong relationship not only of Fonterra but also the New Zealand government”. . .

The distress and anxiety wouldn’t have been quite so bad if the company had handled the media briefings better, giving as much information as possible from the start rather than drip-feeding it.

Shareholders have been getting regular emails from board chair John Wilson but it was only yesterday that we got this explanation:

  • It is now more than 48 hours since we announced the serious situation we have with three batches of affected whey protein concentrate WPC80.
  • We continue to focus 100% on the health and safety of the public, working closely with our customers and regulators, and being as transparent as possible in the information we provide.
  • Our customers who have been impacted and local regulators have begun making public announcements about products that have been affected.
  • This is good for us as initially we were unable to provide details of our impacted customers.  I’d like to explain to you why this was the case.
  • When we sell commercial ingredients, like the affected whey protein concentrate, to our customers, we do not have visibility of how and where they use them. We are, of course, aware of exactly where product is in every step of Fonterra’s own supply chain, but once it leaves us, it is no longer in our control.
  • This means we did not know what customer products the affected whey protein concentrate had been used in and where these products were. Announcing the names of our international food and beverage customers without this information, could have caused even more uncertainty for consumers. 

Telling us, and the public, all this at the start would have been much more helpful than just saying they couldn’t say which products might be affected.

Explaining the testing regime, what happened, how it happened and what’s been done to ensure it won’t happen again would also have helped.

The 38 tonnes possibly contaminated is a tiny amount in the grand scheme of Fonterra’s production. Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum, interviewed by Jamie McKay on the Farming Show yesterday, asked why it hadn’t been kept aside from the start.

He pointed out that if farmers know there’s a problem with their milk, they have to put a red padlock on the vat and asked why the processor doesn’t do something similar.

Prime Minister John Key said Fonterra will come under the microscope once the dust has settled.

Ministers have launched an all-of-government approach to Fonterra’s discovery of a bacteria that can cause botulism in some of its whey protein concentrate, and will review Fonterra’s role once it has dealt with the food safety issues, which are its primary concern, Key told reporters at today at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference.

Fonterra “will need to answer some questions which we can’t detail for you today, but they will be around the length of time it took for all of us to know, it will be about the processes it went through from when it first identified there could be an issue to one that was one that was brought into the public domain, and to the general approach to these issues,” Key said.

A second review will be into how the monitoring systems work, and Key said his “top-line assessment is that the bureaucracy-side of this issue has performed extremely well over the last 48 hours.” . . .

Once the health concerns are allayed it is essential that all these questions are answered.

But there wouldn’t be as many questions to be answered if Fonterra had had a much better protocol in place for handling the issue – or at least the publicity around it.


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