Rural round-up

May 27, 2020

Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help – Point of Order:

NZ’s  dairy  industry  has  a   clear  role  to  play  as  one  of  the   country’s saviours in the  battle to recover  from the global impact of the  Covid-19 pandemic — even if there is  little evidence  that ministers  in the coalition government recognise  its  importance.

The industry, as  it has  done so  often  before,  will  just have to  do  it on  its own.

Luckily, the giant co-op,  Fonterra,   has  stabilised,  after racking up a  massive  $600m  loss  last year and there’s  a refreshed sense  of  where the  dairy industry  stands  in the  economy’s  hierarchy,  as  other pillars (tourism, international  education, air transport, construction)  tumble  over the  pandemic precipice.  Morale  at  the   grassroots  level  is  rising  again. . . 

Rushed log legislation deserves the chop:

Federated Farmers and the Forest Owners Association are joining forces to condemn the Log Brokers Bill as a Trojan horse to potentially force farmers and foresters to subsidise local processing industries from reduced export earnings.

The unwarranted rush over the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill risks unintended consequences, including retaliatory action by nations we trade with, Federated Farmers forestry spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The period for consultation is tighter than even the emergency actions on high-powered automatic firearms spurred by the Christchurch mosque attacks. . . 

Agility and innovation essential for meat exporters – Allan Barber:

The days of bemoaning our meat exporters’ lack of flexibility when everything was exported as frozen carcases are now a distant memory. Even the days of growing the profitable chilled lamb business without upsetting the EU authorities are receding into the distant past, as meat marketers cope with the complexities of marketing to previously time poor, technologically sophisticated consumers around the world now living in lockdown without ready access to restaurants.

AFFCO Group Sales and Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, sees the Covid-19 pandemic as a critical point in time which will result in a permanent shift in buying habits, placing huge emphasis on further processing capacity and weight ranging capability. He sees online as a distinct buying channel where consumers will not seek individually branded products, but a home solution delivered to the door. A local example of this trend is Auckland based Hyper Meat which offers three meat packs for home delivery at different price points, all at specific weights, as well as a range of wines and other beverages. . . .

Irrigation NZ congratulates David Bennett:

IrrigationNZ wishes to congratulate David Bennett as he takes on the agricultural portfolio for the National Party.

The announcement came today as new National Party Leader, Todd Muller, revealed the line-up of the new look National Party caucus.

Mr Bennett takes over from Mr Muller, who was previously in the role. . .

Never let a good crisis go to waste: How our food sector can save NZ’s economy – Rosie Bosworth:

The world will always need food, and New Zealand is enviably positioned to capitalise on this, writes future foods expert Rosie Bosworth – but we need to take a few big steps first. 

It’s a bittersweet moment for New Zealand. As a nation we’ve collectively worked hard to successfully flatten the curve (for now). But for many Kiwi businesses and industries, the economic aftermath of Covid-19 has not been pretty. As with many countries, there have been winners and losers. With some of New Zealand’s top export-earning industries – like international tourism and education, which contribute $16.2 and $5.1 billion respectively to our GDP – having been effectively decommissioned in the wake of Covid, New Zealand must now focus on its other economic heavyweights to help even up the balance sheets.

Now more than ever, our thriving agriculture and food and beverage sectors will be key economic lifelines for the country and crucial points of job creation for hundreds, if not thousands, of Covid-displaced New Zealanders hungry for work. Why? Because the world will always need food. Natural, honest, trusted products that New Zealand is enviably positioned to produce better than any other nation on the planet. Especially in a Covid world, where consumers globally are increasingly seeking immune-boosting, healthy and sustainable products. . . 

Next generation focused on improving dairy reproduction – Samantha Townsend:

When the Yarringtons’ ancestors built their farm with their bare hands the biggest technology at the time was horse and cart.

Six generations later, Rod and his wife Natasha, began using semex AI24 collar systems in February – real time information and reproductive performance technology to improve heat detection and in-calf rates. 

“Getting our cows back in calf was one of our biggest inefficiencies because with just the two of us on the farm, it was hard to be everywhere,” Mrs Yarrington said. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 17, 2020

Federated Farmers calls for fiscal stimulus from government:

Federated Farmers congratulates the Reserve Bank on a decisive monetary policy stimulus in response to the worsening economic situation, cutting the OCR to 0.25%.

“We also strongly support its decision to delay implementation of its tougher requirements for bank capital to help the banking sector support the economy,” Feds President Katie Milne said.

One bank has already agreed to immediately pass on the lower OCR rate to borrowers.  Federated Farmers calls on other banks to follow suit. . .

Supermarket demands for perfection require pesticides – growers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Supermarkets demand perfectly formed fruit and vegetables, but perfection requires pesticides, growers say.

The biggest supermarkets – Countdown, Pak ‘n Save and New World – dictate the colour, shape and size that growers must adhere to in order to get their produce onto their shelves, a large grower says.

The grower, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that if farmers don’t grow to the specifications, the produce is rejected by supermarket inspectors and must be thrown out. . .

 

Global merino conference in Otago: president says industry better than ever – Sally Rae:

World Federation of Merino Breeders president Will Roberts reckons he has never seen the merino industry has never been so good as it is now.

Mr Roberts and his wife Nada have been in Otago attending the Merino Excellence 2020 Congress, and Mr Roberts also judged at the Wanaka A&P Show.

The couple farm a 13,000ha sheep and cattle property in Queensland, originally bought by Mr Roberts’ family in 1906. The Victoria Downs merino stud was established in 1911. . .

Cowpats, cabers and clouds of soot in showcase of country life – Harry Lock:

Thousands descended on Palmerston North over the weekend to witness cowpat throwing, hay bale stacking and sheep shearing.

While other events across the country were put off, the annual Rural Games went ahead as planned, with the city’s central square transformed into a farmer’s paradise.

Onlookers were treated to a premier experience, with some of the best in the world showcasing their skills. . .

NZ Champions of Cheese medal winners announced:

After judges smelled, crumbled and tasted their way through almost 300 New Zealand cheeses, the medal winners of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020 have been announced.

Run by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) for the 17th consecutive year, Australian Master Judge Russell Smith oversaw judging on Sunday 23rd February, working with a panel of 25 specialist judges.

NZSCA chair Neil Willman said the judges made special note of the quality and variety of cheese they assessed this year. . .

Grasslands as vital as trees for environment, sheep farmers say :

Livestock farmers have challenged the government’s focus on tree planting and peatland restoration as a means to help nature address climate change.

Wednesday’s budget committed £640 million to be spent on 30,000 hectares of trees, and 35,000 hectares of peatland restoration.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said both the restoration and tree planting are funded by a new Nature for Climate fund.

“This government intends to be the first in history to leave our natural environment in a better state than we found it,” said the chancellor. . .


Rural round-up

December 30, 2019

Everyone wants clean water, it’s time for David Parker to tell us how much it will cost – Todd Muller:

New Zealanders have a natural affinity with our water.

Whether that be swimming at the beach in the beautiful Bay of Plenty, kayaking on a West Coast river, or pulling in a snapper on the Hauraki Gulf to take home for the family dinner.

There is no argument that Kiwis want clean and healthy waterways where we can swim, surf and fish.

Nobody wants to see plastic in our oceans, polluted rivers or septic beaches that are unable to be used. . . 

Rising demand for avocados could threaten water levels in Aupōuri, Northland – Denise Piper:

An insatiable appetite for avocados could threaten both water quality and land stability in New Zealand’s Far North, according to locals.

Residents of Aupōuri Peninsula fear water levels in the unique aquifer under their land could drop so much that salt water runs in, wetlands run dry or the ground above the aquifer subsides, due to requests to take massive amounts of water needed to feed orchards.

But orchardists say they have to trust the science of specialised hydrologists, who calculate the water being taken as just a fraction of what flows into the aquifer each year. . .

‘Getting naked to show bravery’: Reporoa community calendar with a twist – Caroline Fleming:

After a spate of suicides in the rural Bay of Plenty community of Reporoa, young farmers have stood up and stripped off to say ‘enough is enough’.

Over the years, the small community has been rattled by a number of youth suicides. Just a couple of months ago, another young farmer is believed to have taken their life.

“Everyone was hit really hard,” said Reporoa Young Farmers events coordinator Laura Pulman.

At the time, lots of the community relied on the Rural Support Trust, a national support service for farmers, to talk through the pain. . . .

Fonterra’s year by the numbers:”

It’s that time of year when we take a look back at the highlights that helped make 2019 what it was before turning the page to 2020.

Just like Santa, Fonterra has been keeping a list. Instead of who’s been naughty or nice, we’ve published a list of some of the things in 2019 we’ve been up to as the year (and decade) wraps up.

A massive thanks to our farmers, employees and communities for helping make this happen. . .

$100k annual cost for dairy farmers:

Dairy facial eczema (FE) can cost farmers at least $100,000 each year in lost milk production, a recent study has found.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund is supporting the Facial Eczema Action Group – made up of veterinarians, dairy farmers and rural professionals – to explore ways of raising awareness of FE so that more farmers take preventative action.

Many cows don’t show clinical signs of FE. As a result, farmers often don’t know why milk loss is happening and end up drying off their cows early. . .

NFU urges MPs to support British farming as Brexit looms:

The NFU has met with MPs and urged them to support British farming as the UK looks likely to leave the EU by the end of January.

The union held one of its first receptions for politicians since the general election last week.

MPs were told to recognise the importance of Britain’s farming standards and ensure they are not sacrificed by the UK’s future trade policy. . .


Rural round-up

June 8, 2016

 –  Allan Barber:

Introduction

I gave a presentation recently to a Beef + Lamb Field Day about the meat industry. I briefly reviewed the history of the industry, the impact of certain key events and the influence of politics leading up to the 1985 election. I then gave an appraisal of the present covering the last 30 years, post subsidies, when the sector had to modernise fast; and lastly I took a punt on predicting what might happen in the foreseeable future and how farmers and meat companies might have to adapt to survive and flourish.

For the purpose of presenting these thoughts to interested readers I have divided the presentation into three parts which will be published separately. The first part is a review of the first 100 years and how this period determined the structure of the industry. . .

 – Allan Barber:

Present

Today’s industry has many of the same characteristics as the mid 1980s, but a number of things have changed, mostly for the better.

In my opinion all parts of the meat industry (farmers, processors and exporters) have done a very good job of producing, processing and selling a vast range of products into a big range of markets. Since deregulation and subsidy removal, the sector has had to cope with a significant change in market demand while modernising farming methods and processing plants, achieving functional industrial relations and employment policies, developing more sophisticated products, improving packaging and coping with ever more stringent health and safety, hygiene and biosecurity compliance requirements. . . 

Measuring up – Gerard Hall :

Information is king and it’s turning grass and forages into dollars on Barnhill, an undeveloped hill block in Southland. Gerard Hall reports.

 The costs and benefits of growing feed on a northern Southland farm have come under close scrutiny.  

The decision to invest in pasture cages, monthly cuts and charting the results was an easy one for Guy and Vicki Goodeve who manage Barnhill, a 1019ha undeveloped hill block near Lumsden in Southland.  

Twelve homemade, one-square-metre cages range across six sites specifically chosen to accurately represent the three soil types, aspects (sun and shade), and altitudes on the farm. Each site is nine-metres square and includes a caged control area. The cages were all welded and netted for $1200. Farmer Glen McPhail is contracted to do the pasture cuts using a lawnmower. . . 

Heartland Bank warns dairy farm values could fall 40 percent from peak – Edwin Mitson:

Heartland Bank, the Auckland-based lender, has told investors it is monitoring the dairy sector “with close attention” at a presentation and has warned farm values could fall 40 percent from peak to trough if the downturn continues or worsens beyond current expectations.

Exposure to dairy farmers makes up 8 percent of its total lending book and 17 percent of its net receivables, which is the total money owed to the bank by customers minus amounts the bank accepts will never be repaid and has written off. . . 

NZ and EU agricultural partnership in Vanuatu:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced a new partnership between the European Union, New Zealand and the Government of Vanuatu, aimed supporting sustainable agricultural development.

“New Zealand and the EU have a strong track record of working together with Pacific Governments to deliver development gains,” Mr McCully says.

“The Partnership we have entered into today will see the EU and New Zealand providing support to Vanuatu’s agricultural sector, and it is a model for further cooperation between the EU and New Zealand in the region. . . 

Forestry contractors focused on new safety laws:

Leading forestry contractors are moving fast to ensure they understand and implement systems for meeting new health and safety laws brought in last month. Under the guidance of their industry association – the Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) – forest contractors are being encouraged to attend special workshops on the new legislation around health and safety in forestry workplaces. They have responded in greater numbers than ever before.

Ross Davis, President of FICA, says has they’ve seen a surge in contractor numbers attending new health and safety legislation workshops in Gisborne and Tokoroa. More are expected when the series of regional workshops goes to Balclutha on 16 June and up to Whangarei on 14 July. Contractors are turning out in droves for these events. . . 

5 Truths Every Farmer Needs to Speak – Uptown Farms:

A lot of what is happening in our world of farming is being driven by marketing that happens well after food leaves the farm. Labels are applied, misleading ads are run, misconceptions are often conveniently left to linger in our consumers’ minds.

The marketing done by the food industry is often not concerned with the facts and the common practice now seems to be to repeat these lies until they become truth by perception.

This puts farmers in a unique position. We can make the choice to stand up for fact and reason and sell our product based on its true qualities. . . 

The Search For Tastier Supermarket Tomatoes: A Tale In 3 Acts  – Daniel Charles:

One of my fondest childhood memories is of eating tomatoes. We picked them in the garden and ate them in sandwiches, sitting on a picnic table under the trees outside our house. That juicy, acidic taste is forever lodged in the pleasure centers of my brain.

For anyone with similar memories, supermarket tomatoes are bound to disappoint. Indeed, the classic supermarket tomato — hard, tasteless, sometimes mealy — has inspired countless bitter complaints.

Take a closer look at the tomato display in your local grocery store, though, and you’ll notice some big changes. . . 

Best snow in years – Mt Hutt to open with all lifts:

Canterbury’s Mt Hutt ski area is revelling in the white stuff – with a one-metre pre-season snow base being described as “the best in years”.

Two snowstorms in the past four days have delivered “wall-to-wall” snow across the mountain, leading ski area manager James McKenzie to declare that Mt Hutt is expected to open with all lifts operating on opening day (Friday June 10).

“A one-metre snow base is simply stunning and the best we’ve had pre-season since 2011,” he says.

“We’re so far ahead of where we usually are at this stage of the season, we’re planning to open with all lifts operating including the Triple Chair. . . 

Onus on Spreadmark companies to ensure vehicle certificates are valid:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) is urging all spreading companies registered with Spreadmark – the industry guarantee programme – to check their vehicle certification status. The call from the Council follows an alert from auditors that companies registered with the Spreadmark scheme may, unknowingly, have trucks or aircraft with expired certificates.

Anders Crofoot, FQC Chairman, says the voluntary nature of the Spreadmark scheme means that companies may not necessarily receive an automatic test reminder and may not discover their vehicle certification is out of date until on or after it expires. . . 


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