Rural round-up

18/04/2021

New report warns that we’re building over our food basket – Alex Braae:

The 2021 Our Land report has raised serious warnings about our most productive food-growing land being turned over to housing. Alex Braae explains.

What’s all this then?

The environment ministry and Stats NZ have produced a new report called Our Land, which outlines exactly what New Zealand’s land is being used for, or how it is being left alone. Over and above the stats, it also shows the connections between land use, the economy, environmental outcomes, and even human wellbeing. 

What’s the big takeaway from the report?

A major fear that gets outlined in detail is about the spread of cities and residential areas into highly productive land – the sort that is vital for the growing of food. One point the report opens with is that our cities were mostly founded near this sort of top quality land, because that allowed enough food to be grown to sustain them.  . . 

O’Connor opts for a ban on exports of live beasts (rather than tighter regulations) to demonstrate our high animal-welfare standards – Point of Order:

Commodities are leading the global economic recovery. International demand for grains, dairy and forestry products is extremely strong – driven primarily by increased demand from China, ANZ Bank  economists say in their latest NZ Agri Focus.

Dairy markets shot up in March, driven by strong buying from China, among challenging conditions to deliver product to market. Since then prices have stabilised near current levels, encouragingly, despite more product being added to the GlobalDairyTrade sales channel.

The recent strength in global markets, combined with a slight softening in the NZ dollar. has been supportive of farmgate milk prices. . . 

Heriot saleyards closure sad but inevitable– Shawn McAvinue:

The Heriot saleyards closing after being a community meeting point for more than a century is sad but the writing was on the wall, a West Otago farmer says.

Farmer Graham Walker owns a 394ha sheep and beef farm in Park Hill and was the second generation of his family to sell stock at the saleyards, about 50km west of Lawrence.

The saleyards were a social place, which brought the community together.

However, the closure was inevitable, as fewer sales were being held as years passed, and as health and safety regulations had tightened. . . 

From dairy giant to tiny player: Miraka CEO Grant Watson – Laurilee McMichael:

It’s eight weeks in and Miraka’s new chief executive Grant Watson says that so far, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Information overload,” he jokes. “Lots to learn, lots to soak up. It’s a big industry, that’s for sure, lots of moving parts.”

Happily though, dairy is not a new industry to Watson, who took up the Miraka role on February 3, replacing departing chief executive Richard Wyeth, who had been with the company for 11 years and who had taken it from being a plan with a greenfields building site to a respected player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Wyeth is now chief executive of Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products. . . 

Rural postie makes last run – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is the end of the road for a South Otago postie — but in a good way.

After 18 years, David Fenton (67) has parked his rural post truck. He delivered his last parcel before Easter, and the new owners, Jane and Richard Whitmore took over the run early in April.

In almost two decades, Mr Fenton has covered about 846,000km. And while somewhat miffed not to have hit the million km mark — he would have got close had he kept going for a few more years — he was pleased with the decision to call time.

“I’ve been getting super for two years, so I’ve been double-dipping. Colleen [his wife] is retiring soon, and we’ve got to get out there and see more of New Zealand. There’s a whole lot more we want to see and go back to see, while we have the health to do it. . . 

Blue Peter drops anti-meat message after farmer’s beef with BBC – Ben Webster:

The BBC has dropped an anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after it drew a furious response from farmers.

The children’s programme offered the green badges, similar to the traditional blue ones, for youngsters who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to “go meat-free”, switch off lights or stop using plastic bottles.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a father of three who runs a 2,000-acre farm in north Wales, last week condemned what he described as a “sweeping statement” that overlooked the lower environmental impact of grass-fed British beef and lamb. . . 


Rural round-up

22/07/2017

Rural women leaders take bull by the horns – Holly Ryan:

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne has lost track of the number of people who have called her farm in Kumara on the West Coast, asking to talk business with the man of the house.

Within minutes, she will often hear her husband say “I’ll hand you back to the boss, she can help you,” as he returns the phone to her.

This is because although the farm is a partnership, Milne is usually the one managing the books and keeping the business side of things ticking over. . . 

Mt Somers couple master schemes and farming diversification – Pat Deavoll:

No one will ever call Mid Canterbury farmers Kate and David Acland lazy. Not only do they run a 3800ha mixed livestock finishing farm with 25,000 stock units; they have tacked onto the family enterprise a dairy operation, an apiary, a Marlborough winery and a local cafe and farm store.

“Schemes interest us,” says David. “Diversification has been our strategy since 2012. We are spreading our income and are not at the mercy of any single industry.

“Driving our business to grow and intensify while staying true to our farming values is a challenge, but opportunities such as bee keeping allow us a whole new revenue stream without affecting the core business of the farm or affecting the environment.” . . 

Nuffield opens Manawatu farmer Matt Hocken’s eyes to global agricultural stage – Kate Taylor:

Applications are open for 2018 Nuffield Scholarships. Kate Taylor spoke to a 2017 scholar in the middle of his international travels.

The best thing about Mat Hocken’s Nuffield scholarship has been the way it has opened his eyes to the global agricultural stage. The hardest thing has been leaving his young family.

Hocken is farming a Manawatu property, Grassmere, that has been in his family for over 125 years. He works alongside wife Jana, with whom he has two young daughters, and his father Ross who lives on one of the support blocks nearby. . .

Federated Farmers Appeal ECan Catchment Proposal:

Federated Farmers has decided to appeal Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5.

The Plan Change is ECan’s solution to addressing water quality issues associated with farming activities in Canterbury – but excludes catchments already addressed.

The Federation backs the principles outlined in the proposal, but has decided to appeal on proxies attached to the plan. . . 

Fonterra to expand in Darfield

Fonterra will build two new cream cheese plants at its Darfield site.

With cream cheese undergoing a steady surge in popularity in Asia, the $150 million two-stage project will see the first plant completed in 2018 with a second to follow in either 2019 or 2020.

The two new plants will incorporate technology that will allow the firmness and consistency of the cream cheese be dialled up or down to meet customer preference.

Fonterra’s director of global foodservice Grant Watson said the investment is a timely one as more and more consumers around Asia develop a preference for milk-based products . . .

Angus on top at Steak of Origin –

Tim and Kelly Brittain, from Otorohanga, have been awarded this year’s Steak of Origin grand champion title for their Angus steak.

Being recognised as the country’s top beef producer is an achievement Tim and Kelly are extremely proud of.

“Each year our entries into this competition have stepped up a level and I am so proud that tonight all our work and efforts can be celebrated. This outcome is a significant achievement and something that Kelly and I have been working towards,” Tim said. . .


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