Rural round-up

January 2, 2020

Henry’s letter proves a hit – Murray Robertson:

YOUNG Tairawhiti farmer Henry Gaddum penned an open letter through The Herald in mid-November that has gone ballistic as readers nationally picked up on his concerns around the theme of Carbon Credits and Pine Trees.

It has been viewed more than 14,800 times on The Herald website since publication, and has been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter.

In it, Henry voiced his deep concerns, and the concerns of others, about the future of the region when it comes to land use and he wants to do something about it. . .

Year in Review: Hawke’s Bay farmer’s heartfelt Facebook post goes viral :

Year in Review: This heartfelt social media post from Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Stoddart went viral in September. In it he pointed out the strong connections New Zealand farmers have with the communities around them. It was one of The Country’s most popular reads of 2019.

In September Stoddart told The Country he was surprised by the strong reaction to his post, which at that point had nearly 6000 reactions and nearly 3000 shares.

“For a vent to mates out of frustration on Facebook it certainly has gained some momentum.

I can’t believe the positive feedback though. For over 700 comments only about five are negative. Maybe the rural urban divide isn’t as big as we think. . .

Central housing demand prices worry fruit growers – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago fruit growers say housing could come under more pressure as their industry expands.

A recent Southern DHB report found a lack of housing availability was driving up housing prices in Central Otago, forcing some to live in crowded homes or even sleep rough.

While many orchards have staff accommodation available, some businesses say they’re losing good staff who can’t find a permanent place to live.

Sarita Orchard manager Matthew Blanch said he was not sure how fruit growers would find enough staff if big orchard proposals went ahead. . .

Reflecting on our rural past and building for the future – Nikki Verbeet:

Hope. It’s fundamental to our psychology to have something to look forward to, writes Nikki Verbeet.

It would be fair to say that hope hasn’t been in abundance in our rural sector of late.

There is no doubt the sector is experiencing rising costs, environmental pressures, public perception issues, shrinking price margins, cash flow challenges and pressure to meet compliance obligations – all of which impact confidence.

Research around mental health indicates that to have hope we need three things: . . 

Rodeo ‘great thing for the community’ – Hamish MacLean:

After more than three decades in Omarama, rodeo is alive an well in the Waitaki Valley town.

Under sunny skies, the 33rd annual Omarama Rodeo drew hundreds to Buscot Station for the penultimate Christmas series rodeo on Saturday.

“You can see by the crowd — people still enjoy it,’’ Omarama Rodeo Club president Jamie Brice said.

“And this is a great thing for the community. It brings money into the wee town.” . .

High country cattle grazing by Victorian family – Stephen Burns:

Grazing cattle in the Victorian high country has been a practice extending over 150 years, but very few families now take advantage of the summer pastures on the Alpine plains.

But the McCormack family from Mansfield, Victoria proudly continue the timeless trek taking three days to drove their Angus cows with calves slowly along the Buttercup Road over Mountain Number Three to the flats alongside the headwaters of the King River. 

Other Mansfield district families have long had an association with the High Country and include the Lovicks, Stoney’s and Purcell’s. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 22, 2019

So farmers and businesses have ‘nothing to fear’ according to Ardern? – Henry Armstrong:

When the debate on a Capital Gains Tax was in full swing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was widely quoted as assuring farmers and small business owners that if a CGT were to be introduced, they had nothing to fear.

The productive sector and indeed most New Zealanders, quickly saw through this disingenuous claim and made their views known. The Ardern-led government quickly dropped that proposal-at least for now.

It seems the Ardern-led government learned nothing in the process. . . 

Under-siege farmers must engage – Alan Williams:

Sheep and beef farmers are under pressure on several regulatory fronts but still need to engage in the process, South Canterbury farming leader Mark Adams says.

“It’s really important that individual farmers get into this arena that they’re not comfortable in to convey their views and situations to the people making the decisions. 

“Those people need to hear from farmers on the ground.” . . 

Partnerships build success – Colin Williscroft:

Hard work, careful planning and a strong business focus helped George and Luce Williams win the 2019 Wairarapa Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year Award but, as the Tinui couple told Colin Williscroft, it’s been a team effort.

Well used to analysing their on-farm performance George and Luce Williams are forever grateful to the many other businesses that contribute to their farm’s smooth operation.

The Williams run Grassendale Genetics, a 1570ha (1040ha effective) farm on challenging hill country on Wairarapa’s east coast.

Though the location might be seen by some as isolated the couple have tapped into a community of talented rural and urban people to help build the strength of their business. . .

Award winners encourage entrants – Yvonne O’Hara:

Simon and Hilary Vallely are passionate about dairying.

They encourage those with a similar enthusiasm to enter the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ Southland/Otago regional competition. Entries open on October 1.

The couple, who won the 2018 Southland/Otago regional Share Farmers of the Year competition, are 50/50 sharemilkers near Gore with 490 cows and have a 210,000kgMS target. They also have bought land to raise beef animals as an investment.

The Vallelys recently became the new regional managers for the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, taking over the role from Darren Stenning. . .

‘Geogastronomy Club’ plan on menu – Hamish Maclean:

A forthcoming “Geogastronomy Club” proposal will outline what club members will need to commit to and what the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust can offer as benefits in return.

Waitaki District Council spokeswoman Lisa Heinz said a steering group would draft the proposal based on discussions at June “geogastronomy” workshops in Oamaru.

“The current mission is to tell our story through the sense of taste about how our land, soil, water and local artisanal creativity make Waitaki produce unique,” she said. . .

Time to grow the farmer not just the farm? – St John Cramer:

We talk a lot about capital gains but it’s time we spoke about the human capital of our farmers. Our farmers are resilient, hard-working, resourceful people who do the best with what they have but is this hard work ethic getting in the way of the working smarter ethic?

Farming isn’t getting any easier so we need to become smarter because sitting still isn’t going to work.

The level of complexity and compliance farmers now face can be cognitively challenging for anyone. . . .

Study: White Oak Pastures’ beef reduces atmospheric carbon:

Will Harris is many things to many people. To chefs and foodies, he is a legendary farmer producing some of the world’s best pasture-raised meats infused with the terroir of south Georgia. To athletes, body-hackers, and health-conscious consumers, he is the owner of White Oak Pastures, which ships humanely-raised, non-GMO, grassfed proteins to their doorsteps. To the communities surrounding Bluffton, Georgia, he is one of the last good ole’ boys and the largest private employer in the county. To his colleagues in agriculture, he’s a renegade and an inspiration. But Will Harris’ legacy might turn out to be something else entirely. He may be remembered as the cattleman who figured out how to enlist cows in future generations’ struggle to reverse climate change. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 29, 2019

Book charts history of Young Farmer contest – Sally Rae:

For 50 years, the Young Farmer of the Year contest has been part of the fabric of New Zealand’s rural sector.

Dubbed “the challenge second only to the land”, it tests the knowledge and skills of the country’s young farmers.

To mark the milestone, Hawke’s Bay writer Kate Taylor has recorded the contest’s history in 50 Years Young — A History of the Young Farmer of the Year.

But it is more than just a comprehensive history; it contains interviews with various winners, finalists and organisers, and is peppered with interesting and amusing anecdotes. . . 

Farmer shocked heifers missing – Hamish MacLean:

A North Otago dairy farmer says he is in a state of disbelief after realising 60 rising 2-year Friesian heifers had been taken from his farm.

Russell Hurst, of Awamoko, said the animals, taken between the week before Christmas and New Year’s Day, could be worth $100,000.

He and his staff went ”around and round the farm in circles” double-checking the mobs on the 2500ha farm to make sure the animals had been stolen.

”It’s just disbelief, really,” Mr Hurst said. . . 

Restrictions loom for river irrigators in Marlborough – Matt Brown:

New Zealand’s largest wine region could soon be facing water restrictions as record-high temperatures affect rivers.

The Rai, Waihopai and Wairau Rivers’ minimum flow rates were rapidly being approached and surface water “takes” were expected to be halted by the end of next week.

Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth said it was trying to “forward forecast” on the current rate of flow decline, but it was difficult to be concise. . . 

Pioneer works with maize insurer – Richard Rennie:

The country’s largest maize seed supplier is working with an insurance company to settle losses incurred after seed treatment failure in some hybrid varieties this season.

Early in the maize planting season late last year a number of growers in Waikato and Northland reported stunted crops post-germination, prompting some to replant crops before mid December.

Pioneer’s investigation team head Raewyn Densley said a number of growers have . . 

Taranaki honeymoon: whacking possums – Jamie Morton:

Forget Paris: for one newlywed couple, there’s no better honeymoon than killing possums in Taranaki.

Fresh from their wedding, Andrea and Max Hoegh are working at the frontline of New Zealand’s first large-scale possum eradication operation.

The biggest pest-busting project of its kind in the country, Towards Predator-Free Taranaki divided the region into pizza-slice sections around the mountain, with work kicking off in the New Plymouth area. . . 

Your dinner’s in the lab – the future of ‘cell-based’ meat – Gwynne Dyer:

“Right now, growing cells as meat instead of animals is a very expensive process,” says Yaakov Nahmias, founder and chief scientist of Israel-based startup Future Meat Technologies. But it will get cheaper, and it probably will be needed.

The global population is heading for 10 billion by 2050, from the current 7.7b. Average global incomes will triple in the same period, enabling more people to eat meat-rich diets. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 6, 2019

Niche winegrowers put valley on the map – Hamish Maclean:

New signs welcome drivers on State Highway 83 to wine country. Waitaki Valley North Otago, New Zealand’s newest, smallest wine region, is home to boutique vineyards that many — even in Otago — do not know about.

But just as the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand approved the Waitaki Valley Winegrowers Association’s application for a geographical indication — used internationally to promote and protect the reputations of wines’ places of origin — a third cellar door opened in the valley in December. 

And the owners of River-T Estate Wines are committed to telling the region’s story. With 11,000 vines — pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, pinot gris and a “just planted” gewurztraminer — producing 1500 cases, fourth-generation horticulturist Murray Turner and his partner Karen Tweed know River-T Estate Wines and the wines the valley produces are considered “niche”. . .

A threat to hort exports – Peter Burke:

While horticultural exports rise in value, there are concerns that this growth is being impeded by a mix of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

The state of the sector and the changes occurring there are reviewed in detail in the two-yearly report of the Horticultural Export Authority (HEA).

Chief executive Simon Hegarty says the industry has maintained momentum despite two challenging years in international trade and at home, notably because of the weather. . .

Review of access satute welcomed – Guy Williams:

A mandatory review this year of the statute underpinning the Walking Access Commission is timely, Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) president Peter Wilson says.

Mr Wilson said the commission had done a good job in the past decade but there was plenty of scope for improving its legislative framework. That included a register of “past or potential access issues” that would place an obligation on government agencies to better consider opportunities for improving public access to the outdoors.

The commission’s role includes resolving disputes over public access to the outdoors, negotiating new access and providing the public with information and maps.

The Walking Access Act was passed into law a decade ago with a clause requiring it be reviewed in 10 years. . .

Survival of the honesty stall – Alice Angeloni:

For decades they were a common sight on many Kiwi highways, but honesty boxes have been targeted by the not so honourable.

The roadside stalls, which rely on passing customers to pay the correct amount, advertise a range of goods – from fresh lemons and blueberries to walnuts and lilies.

And while small thefts are commonplace, one grower-family was targeted with a spate of $100 per day thefts. . .

Farmer padlocks gate to swimming hole after nappies found on riverbank – Rachael Kelly:

A northern Southland farmer has padlocked a gate leading to a popular swimming hole after finding soiled nappies on the riverbank.

Waikaia farmer Ray Dickson took the action to cut access to a spot known locally as Roly’s Rock, at the edge of the popular holiday town, after finding nappies in grass on the riverbank on December 29.

“It really p….. me off. . . 

No-deal Brexit will be nightmare for farmers, warns Michael Gove

Farmers will face a grim barrage of export tariffs, increased haulage costs, paperwork and looming labour shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Michael Gove warned yesterday.

He painted a nightmare scenario for Britain’s food producers as he urged fellow MPs to back the prime minister’s Brexit deal
.

“It’s a grim but inescapable fact that in the event of a no-deal Brexit the effective tariffs of meat and sheep meat would be above 40 per cent. In some cases well above that,” Mr Gove told the Oxford Farming Conference
. . .


Rural round-up

October 29, 2018

Threat from wilding pines highlighted by Biosecurity NZ images – Hamish MacLean:

Images provided by Biosecurity New Zealand show the threat wilding pines present to New Zealand landscapes.

The images show the unchecked spread of pines at Mid Dome, Upper Tomogalak catchment, in Southland from 1998 to 2015.

On Thursday, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor told the New Zealand Wilding Conifer Group annual conference at Omarama the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme would now target 150,000ha in Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Marlborough and the Central North Island. . . 

Rural people need to start interacting again – April Mainland:

Rural New Zealand can get pretty isolated.

The land farmers work can get pretty intense – I mean who really enjoys sowing a hillside in gale force wind, or rescuing sheep from precarious positions in the pouring rain while avoiding certain tumbles with just one misjudged step?

It can all get a bit much – so to blow off steam and to help bring segments of the rural community together, I helped organise an outing with my team in a neighbouring province – this is something I’d like to see us roll out here in the Wairarapa. . . 

Award for Northland farmer project – Pam Tipa:

A Northland farmer-led extension programme which will eventually involve 245 dairy farmers across Northland has won a national award for economic development.

Extension 350 this month won an Economic Development NZ (EDNZ) Award for Sustainable Development.

The awards celebrate best practice in economic development activity throughout New Zealand. The Extension 350 project aims to lift profitability, environmental sustainability and wellbeing on Northland farms. . .

Training helps identify stressed farmers :

An Environment Canterbury advisor who trained to be a Good Yarn facilitator is now better able to help a farmer who is stressed or mentally ill.

She did the training in June in Wellington.

Sarah Heddell, an ECan land management and biodiversity advisor — and a sheep and beef farmer — says the Good Yarn farmer wellness workshops are aimed chiefly at the rural community and those who interact with them. .. 

It was a day for the dogs at the Hunterville Huntaway Festival – Carly Thomas:

It seemed like every man and his dog were at the Hunterville Huntaway Festival and this year the event carried a message of unity for farmers who might be struggling through tough times.

The iconic shepherds’ shemozzle in the Rangitīkei District ran for the 21st time and, as usual, proved a gruelling challenge, with high hills and gruesome obstacles for shepherds and their huntaway dogs.

Feilding’s Angus McKelvie was the first man in. It was the third time he has won the race with his dog Red and he said this year had been a tough one. “I’m pretty buggered, to be honest.” . . 

Grass-fed dairy cows produce milk with superior nutritional properties – new research – Claire Fox:

Grass-fed dairy cows produce ‘superior’ milk and dairy products, according to new research by Teagasc.

It’s estimated that only 10pc of global milk production originates from grazing based systems and Teagasc research has found that milk and dairy products produced from grass-fed cows have significantly greater concentrations of fat, protein, and other beneficial nutrients and are superior in appearance and flavour to milk products derived from cows fed indoors on a total mixed ration diet.

This research supports previous findings, he told the Teagasc organised ‘Grass-Fed Dairy Conference’ in Naas. . . 

Attempt to lure more women to the delights of catching trout – Nicholas Boyack:

Kathryn Vinten is on a one-woman mission to get more females trout fishing.

Like shooting deer or rabbits, angling is a Kiwi tradition but it one mostly enjoyed by men. 

The Petone resident recently began fishing the Hutt River for brown trout and was struck by how few women there were on the river. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 19, 2018

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell responds to claims co-op is a failed experiment:

This week, the Herald published an article by industry observer Tony Baldwin, which argued in some depth that Fonterra has been a failed experiment. What follows is a response from Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell to that article.

I took the job of CEO of Fonterra because I believe in the Co-op’s potential and the positive difference it makes to New Zealand and consumers around the world.

It’s clear the challenge is big and we don’t always get everything right. I’ve been open about that with our farmers, unit holders, employees and the New Zealand public.

Now our focus has shifted to rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the job. We are well underway with our business review, which will deliver a balanced portfolio of high-performing investments, aligned to strategy and delivering returns across the short, medium and longer term. . .

Hands-on hard yards training – Hamish MacLean:

Colderidge Downs, in the Rakaia Gorge, looks like paradise, but the Coleridge Down Training Farm is home to hands-on hard-yards-style training for youth with a passion for agriculture and the outdoors.

Covering extensive hill country to intensive irrigated pastoral land, the group of central Canterbury farms cover about 10,000ha, run 42,000 stock units, and take on three cadets a year to ultimately gain level 3 and 4 qualifications through primary ITO in a two-year course.

Lachie Mee (18) finished at Waitaki Boys’ High School as a year 12 pupil last year and started at Coleridge Downs in January along with two other first-year cadets.
And when he started, he quickly learned he had entered the workforce. . . 

 

Pāmu Deer Milk Wins Novel Food Award at NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu is excited to announce its success at the prestigious Massey University New Zealand Food Awards, taking home the Novel Food or Beverage Award for its groundbreaking deer milk product.

The announcement was made at the NZ Food Awards Gala Dinner last night, an event which highlights the best New Zealand has to offer in the food and beverage industry.

“The Food Awards are all about rewarding innovation, which makes this acknowledgement very meaningful to us,” said Pāmu Chief Executive, Steve Carden. “We spent over three years testing and trialing deer milk and have been incredibly pleased with the reception it has received amongst the restaurant industry. We knew it had broad appeal for desserts but have been really inspired by the range of savory applications we’ve seen chefs across the country develop. Some chefs have even created deer-milk cocktails.” . . 

Marks & Spencer weave NZ’s troubled wool into new line – Eric Frykberg:

New Zealand’s troubled coarse wool industry could benefit from a new line in sustainable clothing at British retail giant Marks & Spencer.

Six lines of men’s blazers have gone on sale at stores throughout Britain, made with New Zealand product.

Coarse wool has been struggling to earn its keep for years, with greater volumes having to be put onto the market in an often unsuccessful attempt to make up for falling prices.

Only fine fibre from breeds such as merino have helped the wool sector to prosper overall. . . 

‘Have your Say’ campaign launched for Rural NZ:

National Leader Simon Bridges has today launched the ‘Have Your Say’ listening campaign for Rural New Zealand as the next step in National’s 2020 election policy development process.

“We know farmers and growers contribute $42 billion a year in exports that sees 350,000 people employed in the sector, and New Zealand’s success depends on it. This success is underpinned by sustainable business practices that continue to enhance the environment for our children.

“We want to make sure rural communities can access top-quality public services and infrastructure like broadband, rural policing, education and health services. . .

Big cheese competition – Robyn Bristow:

Amateur cheesemakers will pit their skills against one another in the third annual Amateur Cheesemakers Competition at the Oxford Farmers Market on Sunday.

Those with a passion for cheesemaking must have their cheeses entered by 9am to be in with a chance of picking up a $50 prize. A $5 Farmers’ Market voucher will be given to everyone who enters.

Anyone wanting to be part of the taster/judging panel can register for $2, giving them the chance to taste all the entries and pick the three cheeses that tempt their tastebuds the most. . . 


Rural round-up

April 22, 2018

Irrigration industry tries to fix bad boy image at conference :

The head of Irrigation New Zealand recognises the industry has garnered an image as the bad boys in the eyes of many, but they are working to fix it.

About 400 delegates have attended the Irrigation New Zealand conference in Alexandra this week, hearing what the future holds for the agricultural industry.

Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said restoring the public image of irrigators was a focus for the industry.

“We are at this crossroads and we have got to find a way forward,” he said. . . 

Landcorp deer milk turned into cosmetics and powder for high end restaurants – Jill Galloway:

Landcorp is milking 80 red deer to make milk powder for high end New Zealand restaurants and skin creams and other cosmetics for Asian markets.

The government’s farming company completed its second season of milking last month. and is due to start milking hinds again when they drop their fawns in November.

Innovation general manager Rob Ford said the hinds were in-fawn at the moment and were not being milked. “The season usually goes from November until February or mid March, the deer are milked twice a day, and the fawns are hand raised.” . . 

It’s time to be moving on – Louise Giltrap:

Parts of this column will sound like a repeat, not because I’m bored or have no opinion on anything, but simply because it’s that time of year.

It’s moving time, which means new jobs, new farms and new homes for some of you.

We have two of our family members on the move this season. Eldest daughter Courtney and her partner William are moving house on the same farm.

They contract milk for William’s parents and are making the move from the worker’s house into the main family home while William’s parents move into town. . . 

Red meat story coming to farmers soon:

We want to provide you with an update on the Red Meat Story, which aims to support the sector to capture greater returns from global markets for farmers.

Last Friday, Beef + Lamb New Zealand hosted a workshop where we presented industry partners with the New Zealand beef and lamb origin brand and a high-level “go to market” strategy.

The workshop included the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Damien O’Connor, the Meat Industry Association, NZ Trade and Enterprise, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, MPI, Tourism NZ, all major processing companies, and a number of farmers that have been involved in the development of the Red Meat Story. . . 

Salmon key to life for tribe – Hamish MacLean:

In a bid to return salmon to their sacred river, a California First Nations tribe yesterday visited the Hakataramea hatchery where the chinook salmon were first introduced to New Zealand rivers.

Winnemem Wintu hereditary chief and spiritual leader Caleen Sisk was in South Canterbury to learn the history of the Mchenrys Rd hatchery where McCloud River chinook salmon were released into the tributary of the Waitaki River in 1901. The tribe had a sacred connection to the salmon and like the fish, her people had suffered after settlers moved into the forests of northern California. . . 

 

Police join SafeWork campaign to stop quad deaths – Daniel Pedersen:

GRAHAM Brown knows well the dangers of a quad bike.

He was spraying a boundary fence on his property in 2015 when he “looked away at the wrong time, hit a piece of wood and went over.

“I knew I was gone, so I just grabbed hold of the handlebars and clung on,” he said this morning, as SafeWork NSW, NSW police and politicians spilled onto his Springside property to promote quad bike safety. . . 

 

Read the rest of this entry »


Rural round-up

March 24, 2018

Don’t move carcasses ORC warns – Hamish MacLean:

Desperate farmers could be unintentionally sabotaging the release of the new strain of rabbit calicivirus in Otago.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said yesterday he did not want to point fingers, but he had heard “second-hand” that some landowners were attempting to remove carcasses of animals where the virus had been released.

And while “absolutely understandable”, it was a report the council was taking “very, very seriously”, as it could jeopardise plans to create a natural epidemic and knock back the pests’ numbers by up to 40%.

Otago Regional Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said the council’s release of 100 doses of the recently approved RHDV1 K5 (K5) virus was now “substantially complete” with only the “the last few” areas in Queenstown and Coastal Otago outstanding. . . 

Decision time for Gita recovery – Annette Scott:

Taranaki farmers battling the ongoing challenges of the weather gods are facing a critical decision time.

While managing their way through the hammering of Cyclone Gita last month the region’s dairy farmers are also still recovering from the drought, Federated Farmers provincial president Donald McIntyre says.

“Our province was hit this summer with the drought first then we were served another big blow, literally, from the Gita storm. . . 

Officials set up Cook Strait checkpoint to stop cattle disease – Gerard Hutching:

Cattle crossing Cook Strait will be checked from Friday in a bid to stop the disease Mycoplasma bovis travelling north.

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said farmers were not complying with their legal obligations.

“At the weekend I received the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (Nait) Review report, which shows the system is not working well enough. Only 57 per cent of farmers who record their animal movements do so within the required 48 hours. I’m told overall farm-to-farm recording may be as low as 30 per cent.”

Fines of up to $10,000 can be issued for non-compliance. Nait was set up to rapidly and accurately trace animals from birth to slaughter or live export. . . 

Tough times and tough cattle – Annette Scott:

With just a ute, a saddle, a rifle and some dogs as collateral, Rit Fisher walked into a bank in Timaru in 1978 seeking $1.2 million to buy Shenley Station. He told Annette Scott about his odd but fun 40-year farming journey.

Simplicity has been the key to success for Rit Fisher who grew up on Shenley Station, a 3500 hectare sheep and beef property at Albury, inland from Timaru.

Shenley, bought by his grandparents in 1912, has now been farmed by the Fisher family for 106 years. . .

Strong conservation values evident in Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Manaia dairy farmers showing sustainable and appreciable biodiversity and conservation values have won the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Grant, Dinny and Leedom Gibbs from the Gibbs G Trust were announced supreme winners at the region’s awards dinner at the Devon Hotel in New Plymouth on Thursday night (March 22). They will host a field day on their Sutherland Road property on Thursday April 5 at 10.30am.

The dairy farm, 3km south of Manaia on the south Taranaki coast, is among those supervised by Leedom Gibbs, one of Grant and Dinny’s three daughters. Half of the farm is irrigated with two centre-pivots and contains a wetland that was established as part of the farm’s development. Water for the irrigation system is taken by consent from the Waiokura Stream and stock water comes from the Waimate West Water Scheme, on which Grant is a trustee. . .

Whananaki Coastal Charolais owners win Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Whananaki beef farmers Greta and Craig Harman have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The awards were held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands at Paihia, on Wednesday night (21 March). The judges said both the Harmans’ coastal hill properties, home to Whananaki Coastal Charolais, were a showplace of biosecurity and biodiversity management that combine cattle farming, bull breeding and community involvement. They said Greta and Craig have a passion for their stock, the land they farm and for the natural environments that exist within it.

“They show how farming and environmental stewardship can work hand in hand to protect and enhance natural biodiversity while maintaining a productive asset. “The Harmans have completed an extraordinary amount of environmental protection work on the property, not because they had to, but because it was the ‘right thing to do’.” . . 

a


Rural round-up

March 10, 2018

Farmer plagued by rabbits in life and grave – Sally Rae:

Sarah Perriam finds it ironic her late grandfather spent his lifetime fighting rabbits – and he is still plagued by them in death.
Looking at signs of rabbits digging on Charlie Perriam’s grave in the Cromwell cemetery yesterday, Ms Perriam recalled how the Central Otago farmer, who died in 2009, even had a team of ferrets to try to keep numbers down on his Lowburn property.

Her own earliest rabbit-related memory was the illegal release of the rabbit calicivirus in 1997, when she was about 12. . . 

Spreading of virus to begin – Hamish MacLean:

The groundwork has begun for the release of a new strain of rabbit virus now approved for use in New Zealand.

A Korean variant of the rabbit calicivirus will be released across the province in about three weeks.

Otago Regional Council staff have started laying the first tranche of pre-feed carrot in select locations around Otago with landowners’ full co-operation and permission.

None of the council’s 100 doses of RHDV1 K5 have been released yet. . .

Defection disappoints – Annette Scott:

A decision by Alliance not to adopt a nationwide meat industry farm quality assurance programme puts the industry’s integrity at risk, Anzco agriculture general manager Grant Bunting says.

Alliance will use its own programme in preference to the red meat industry’s collaborative Farm Assurance Programme (FAP).

The FAP, established to enhance customer confidence in the NZ supply chain, is funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) under a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme. . .

Sheep run riot as Hilux Rural Games begin in Fielding – Sam Kilmister & Bethany Reitsma:

Sheep, working dogs and bales of wool stumbled down Feilding’s main street in a celebration of all things rural.

The Manawatū town heralded the start of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games on Friday with an array of events, including the “running of the wools”. The America’s Cup was also paraded by hometown hero Simon van Velthooven, whose pedal power helped drive Emirates Team New Zealand to victory in Bemuda last year.

People came out in force, crowding the barrier-lined streets, while a mob of the area’s finest woolly residents made their way from the saleyards to the clock tower in Manchester Square and back. . .

Smart Farmer: Ashley Wiese:

For Ashley Wiese, who owns and manages 5,000 hectares in Western Australia, sustainable farming is the smartest way to secure optimum output and food quality, but also to survive as a business in a challenging industry.

Ashley Wiese started off working as an accountant in Perth. However, he always intended to use those skills in agriculture and soon decided to go back to his roots, a farm in Western Australia first established by his great-grandfather. Today, Wiese is the Director of Yarranabee farm. Together with his wife Jo, he farms 5,000 hectares in total: 4,000 hectares of grains such as oats, barley, canola and lupins, and 1,000 hectares of sheep for lamb and wool production. . . 

How can NZ agritech feed the world even more?:

How New Zealand can meet the challenge of feeding some of the predicted global population of 10 billion by 2050, will be a major focus at a Techweek event in Tauranga in May.

World-leading meat, dairy and horticultural industries have established New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of food.

But NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the country’s collaborative agricultural ecosystem is shifting its efforts to developing sustainable ways to feed the world. . .


Rural round-up

December 19, 2017

The water is on, now for the hard bit – Hamish MacLean:

The $57million North Otago Irrigation Company expansion is complete — much to the relief of shareholders, with weather forecasters predicting a warm, dry summer. But irrigation is not so easy for farmers as simply turning on the water and watching the grass grow, Hamish MacLean finds out.

It could be a couple of years before North Otago’s newest irrigators get to grips with their new resource, but with a big dry spell predicted this summer, farmers are pleased to have a guaranteed water supply.

While the water on the North Otago Irrigation Company’s expansion began flowing in September, it was the end of November when all 85 off-takes of the expansion were commissioned, reaching the end of the line at All Day Bay. . . 

Rabobank New Zealand announces new CEO:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced it proposes to appoint Todd Charteris to the position of chief executive officer, subject to regulatory approval.

Rabobank New Zealand chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said Mr Charteris “will bring significant experience with Rabobank on both sides of the Tasman to the role of CEO, as well as a deep knowledge of agribusiness and extensive relationships across the global Rabobank network”. . . 

Jonni keeps quality core at Stirling cheese – Sally Rae:

You could call Jonni de Malmanche a jack-of-all-trades, or more accurately, a Jane of them.

The South Otago woman is one of the long-serving staff members at Fonterra’s Stirling cheese factory, having worked there for the past 23 years.

“I still enjoy coming to work every day. I love the people, I love basically what Stirling stands for which is we make great cheese,” she said.

The factory, which opened in 1983, was built by the Otago Cheese Company, formed after the merger of three small South Otago dairy companies. In 2010, Fonterra spent $7.75 million upgrading the factory. . . 

 

Westland Milk Products soon to announce new products – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand’s second largest milk company is planning to step away from selling dairy products alone and expand into alternative protein and blended products.

Westland Milk Products has bounced back from a $14.5m loss in 2015/16 to break even this year.

Chief executive Toni Brendish says the co-operative worked hard over the past year to become more efficient.

The company’s purpose was now “nourishment made beautifully for generations” which she said gave it freedom to go beyond traditional dairy products. . . 

Dry summer weather prompts farmers to offload stock, AgriHQ – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Dry summer weather is denting grass growth, prompting farmers to reduce their livestock numbers, with the increased volumes of animals hitting the market starting to weigh on prices, according to AgriHQ’s Monthly Sheep & Beef report for December.

“The common factor pulling values down throughout NZ is the weather,” AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his report. “It was a rapid transition from a particularly wet early spring into one of the driest late spring/early summers in recent years, catching many farmers off guard.”

For the sheep industry, below-average growth rates through November kept a lid on the number of lambs being sent to slaughter, keeping prices higher than anticipated. However numbers were now coming forward in significant volume and the long awaited fall in prices has finally begun, Brick said, noting that meat companies had dropped lamb slaughter prices by 15-20 cents per kilogram over the past fortnight, bringing the price to $7.10/kg. . .

Capital gains tax may be on the horizon with the new government:

With the new government reversing National’s tax cuts in April 2018, the government has now announced the items that are on the tax agenda, and have also signalled other potential changes. Tony Marshall, tax advisory partner for Crowe Horwath, predicts how the government’s new tax agenda may affect farmers.

As promised, the government is forming a Tax Working Group and has stated one of the focuses of the group will be looking into capital gains associated with property speculation. Capital gains tax has always been a contentious topic and sends nervous tension through the farming community. . . 

Monthly Dairy production report November 2017:

Key Statistics:

• NZ milk production for November 2017 was up 4.2% (+3.4% on a milksolids basis)
• NZ milk production for the season-to-date was up 1.8% (+1.8% on a milksolids basis)
• NZ milk production for the 12-months through November 2017 was up 1.3% (+1.9% on a milksolids basis)

Full report here.


Rural round-up

September 13, 2017

Election stunt doomed to fail – Pam Tipa:

The Greens’ proposed ‘nitrogen tax’ is a vote catching policy which is highly unlikely to see the light of day, says Federated Farmers vice-president and dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard.

However the problem with such an election stunt is that it perpetrates misconceptions, he says.

“The best way of improving waterways where they need to be improved is by a catchment focus basis,” he told Dairy News.

“With the Greens’ policy, they are focusing on just nitrogen and only from one source. If a catchment has an issue with nitrogen you need to focus on it from all sources.

“Nitrogen is not the issue in all catchments; if swimmability is what people are after then it’s E.coli they need to be looking at; sediment may be a big factor.” . . 

Penalize abusers not users of water – Tim Cadogan:

Before I write another word, I need to make two very clear points.

Firstly; I am outraged that New Zealand’s waterways have been degraded over the last decade or two to the point that many are unswimmable and/or devoid of wildlife. This should never have happened and, as a nation, we must work together to fix this.

Secondly; I am apolitical. Any comments I make here in relation to Labour’s proposed irrigation tax/royalty would be made by me whether the idea was coming from Labour, National, Greens or whoever. My job is to stand up, as I see best, for Central Otago, no matter who is on the other side.

On that basis; I wrote a letter to Jacinda Ardern pointing out what I saw as the unfairness of the irrigation tax/royalty as proposed by Labour, but set in a tone of “something needs done”. I stand by the comments I made in that letter. . .

Lamb prices reach record highs – Jemma Brackebush:

Farmers say it’s been a fantastic season for lamb, as a global shortage of the meat is pushing up the prices.

Ewes are being sold with new season lambs, fetching up to $170 at sales.

Chilled export lamb prices have reached historically high levels, with the average price of $14.50 per kg, a 20 percent increase on the year before, according to AgriHQ.

Bright-coloured stock trucks line the streets of Feilding every Friday morning, as sheep and cattle are carted from around the district and brought to the yards, which lie in the centre of town. . .  

The Sunday roast is a ritual of the past – Amy Williams:

You could be forgiven for thinking millennials are to blame for the demise of the Sunday roast and that smashed avocado on toast has replaced a great family tradition.

After all, at almost $5 each, a kilogram of avocados will set you back about the same amount as a leg of lamb. It’s the modern-day equivalent.

The time-honoured tradition of eating a weekly roast meal was alive in New Zealand until at least the 1980s when a cut of fatty lamb was cooked well-done till browned and blackened, accompanied by vegetables cooked in the meaty juices.

But then fat became the enemy and now we’re more aware of our health, our wallets and the environment and, if you’re like me, eating a leg of lamb each week is extravagant for all those reasons. . . 

No farms, no food, no future.

Blue cod catch limit discussed – Hamish MacLean:

Recreational bag limits for blue cod are some of the most liberal in the country off the Dunedin and North Otago coasts — and they could be about to drop.

At the weekend, up to 140 — mostly recreational — fishermen attended two drop-in sessions hosted by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), in Dunedin and Moeraki, in the first stage of public consultation on its proposed national strategy for the native fish. A further 800 people had filled in the online survey, MPI Dunedin team manager Allen Frazer said.

There was a queue to get into  the building at 1pm on Sunday at  Coronation Hall, in Moeraki. . .

Town’s bid to be dark sky community – Jono Edwards:

Naseby’s residents have stars in their eyes as the village edges closer to becoming New Zealand’s first internationally recognised Dark Sky Community.

Naseby Vision plans to submit its application to the International Dark-Sky Association in December, after about a year of planning.

To support the bid, the Maniototo Community Board last week decided to officially endorse the project.

Naseby Vision chairman John Crawford said this was an important and necessary step.

“The mayor has written a letter of support and some other groups are doing the same. We’ve got to show the wider community is on board.” . . 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects:

 New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals.

The 2025 goals include enlarging target predator suppression to an additional one million hectares of mainland New Zealand, eradicating predators from at least 20,000 hectares of mainland New Zealand without the use of fences, eradicating all predators from New Zealand’s island nature reserves and achieving a breakthrough science solution capable of eradicating at least one small mammalian predator from the mainland. . . 


Rural round-up

September 5, 2017

NOSLaM meeting: 

Randall Aspinall, from Mt Aspiring Station, will speak at a North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group meeting at Five Forks on Thursday.

He will discuss the challenges of being a high country farmer in the Wanaka area and share lessons that had been learned.

NOSLaM was revived several years ago by a group of farmers who were keen to improve water quality and promote good pastoral management practices. . .

Water scheme grew from ground up – Hamish MacLean,

In the 1950s, rural water schemes sprang up in North Otago but the 1989 local government reform, and then progressively stringent legislation aimed to improve drinking-water standards, started to take the control of water schemes away from the farmers who used them.

This winter, after a three-year trial, a community-led non-profit company signed a five-year agreement with the Waitaki District Council to manage four rural water schemes from the grass-roots, Hamish MacLean reports.

Corriedale Water Management Ltd was formed when the Waitaki District Council rewrote its water bylaw four years ago.

A “fundamental” philosophical difference separated the way its users wanted to operate and the way council-owned water schemes were expected to work, chairman Bill Malcolm, of Airedale, said. . .

Does OAD lift productivity?:

In their quest to increase six-week in-calf rates, a growing number of farmers are looking at once-a-day (OAD) milking as a way to improve herd reproductive performance. How effective is this strategy?

The success of taking this approach depends on how long cows are milked OAD before mating. It’s important to note that the benefits of whole-season (or full lactation) OAD on herd reproduction don’t necessarily translate to the use of short-term OAD milking around mating. . . 

Vivid flavones from a vivid country – Joelle Thomson:

Wine writer Jamie Goode says simplicity is key in communicating New Zealand wine to global markets.

The British blogger visited New Zealand to speak at the country’s second Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference in Marlborough in June this year. His message was emphatic.

“You will maintain an edge in international markets by sticking to a simple clear marketing message going forward in the same way as you have done in the past with Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. It’s consistent, reliable and there are no nasty surprises. . .

ExportNZ has released its manifesto for the 2017 election:

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says exporting is critical for the economy and voters should choose a Government that supports trade.

“The single biggest policy issue is whether there is support for TPP-11 and other key potential trade deals. These have the best practical ability to grow jobs and incomes,” Catherine Beard said.
Exporters wanted to see a Government keeping the pressure off the New Zealand dollar by balancing the budget and keeping interest rates low through a focused target on inflation. . .

Export vital for New Zealand’s prosperity:

Support for TPP11 and the wider trade agenda by the incoming government is crucial for New Zealand now and in the future, says the EMA.

The need to speed up the growth of exporting was one of the key recommendations in the EMA 2017 Election Manifesto.

“As a nation we rely heaving on trade for jobs and growth. With a population the size of ours, we need a vibrant exporting sector for New Zealand’s prosperity, says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA. . .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2016

Shearing role an honour – Sally Rae:

Johnny Fraser has a busy few months ahead of him.

Mr Fraser, a North Otago farmer, has been selected as New Zealand team manager for a transtasman shearing test in Australia in October.

Next year, he is heading to the United Kingdom for nearly six weeks, to manage the New Zealand team.

Shearing has taken Mr Fraser around the world, yet he reckoned the appointment was the  highlight of a lengthy involvement in the sport. . . 

Hardest part out of the way – Hamish MacLean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company has not hit its target of a September 1 commissioning for all shareholders, but chief executive Robyn Wells says the work programme for its $57million expansion is now progressing well.

With a staged commissioning of lines, Mrs Wells said all farmers on the expanded scheme would have their water turned on before Christmas.

Installing the large 1200mm pipe making up the “main spine” of the expansion had been “the most difficult”, but was now complete.

Ten crews, or 138 workers, continued to work across a “significant area of North Otago”. . . 

Strong outlook for horticultural sector – Sally Rae:

An average price of $90 for a 17.5kg lamb is being picked by ANZ economists for 2016-17 — but there are down side risks from Brexit impacts.

The bank’s latest Agri Focus focused on the price outlook for New Zealand’s major agricultural sectors.

The expected environment still looked challenging for key livestock sectors, despite some expected improvement for the dairy industry.

In contrast, the main horticultural crops were on track to post near-record export volumes and still achieve solid prices.

It was a mixed outlook for sheepmeat prices. down side risks were possible due to Brexit impacts but on the positive side, tradeable supply was expected to tighten during New Zealand’s main production window. . . 

Nelson Honey’s sweet success with Rainbow Station lease :

Nelson Honey has bought Rainbow Station’s pastoral lease, securing long-term access to 8300-hectares of high country.

Managing director Philip Cropp said the 33-year lease, which was finalised at the end of August, was significant as it future-proofed its access to the high-country farm.

It would see the company increase hive numbers across the station from 600 to 800. The number was about a fifth of the total hives the company had out across the region, he said. . . 

Family puts cropping skills to good use on sheep and beef farm – Heather Chalmers:

The McLauchlan family has gone against the dairy flow to stock a Mid Canterbury farm with sheep and beef, writes Heather Chalmers.

When the McLauchlan family bought their Mid-Canterbury farm in 2011, they were starting with a clean slate.

There were no stock on the 430 hectare Glengyle when they purchased it, so the family initially relied on dairy support and crops to generate an income while they gradually built up sheep and beef numbers. They have since leased a neighbouring 300ha property. 

They bought Glengyle after selling their mixed cropping farm in North Canterbury to dairy interests. Don McLauchlan said they were keen to move to a sheep and beef area, and get away from irrigation and the intensive management it requires. . . 

Former All White Tim Brown gets $9.7m to expand shoe business – Chloe Winter:

A woollen footwear business founded by former All White Tim Brown has been given a multi-million dollar funding boost.

Brown’s company Allbirds originally launched in 2014 after successfully raising about $3.68 million through a global crowdfunding platform and a US investment fund.

On Thursday, the former Wellington Phoenix captain secured an additional US$7.25m (NZ$9.71m) from Maveron, a private equity fund established by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz. . . 

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The mooing of your cows/bulls at night are keeping my kids and family up late when they need to get up early for school. Please address this problem.


Rural round-up

September 8, 2016

Isolation major issue for rural women, study finds –  Andrew McRae:

More than half of the 115 rural women questioned in a recent survey said they felt isolated.

Kellogg rural scholar Nadine Porter surveyed 115 women living in rural areas and another 50 were interviewed in-depth for the project.

Ms Porter said the definition of isolation didn’t necessarily mean being stuck out in the back-blocks, but more a feeling of being isolated from their own community and their peer group.

She said nearly 57 percent of rural women surveyed felt unfulfilled because they were not using the skills they were trained for.

“It is a great wasteland of knowledge really.” . . 

Plan too complex farmers say – Hamish MacLean:

The ”moving feast” of environmental targets is creating unnecessary uncertainty, according to a farmer affected by Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5.

Waitaki catchment dairy farmer Joy Burke told the panel of independent commissioners conducting hearings in Oamaru yesterday she wanted to speak ”from the heart” about the frustrations she was dealing with on her two irrigated dairy farms at Tawai and Ikawai, despite having ”made a huge effort to understand and try to comply” with the proposed new rules.

The plan aimed to control the loss of nutrients to groundwater, and therefore deals with water quality issues, but Ms Burke had been dairy farming for a ”large number of years” and due to the plan’s adherence to Overseer, the computer program for producing a nutrient budget that shows where different elements are in farm soil, would probably now require resource consents to farm. . . 

Should U.S. subsidize dairy farmers when we don’t need the milk?  – 

Congress came up with a novel way to reduce the nation’s milk supply in 1985, paying farmers $1.5 billion to slaughter their cows.

Milk production dropped slightly, but the glut remained: Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture moved to help dairy farmers once again by spending $20 million to get 11 million pounds of excess cheese off the market, sending it to food banks.

“Honestly, I think it’s a good gesture – how much effect it’s going to have I don’t know,” said Jon DeJong, 41, who milks 1,300 cows with his father and two brothers on their farm near Lynden, Washington. “It’s not likely to save the milk price or anything.” . . 

Growth continuing for horticulture as the cherry sector booms:

New Zealand’s traditional horticulture industry is set to maintain its success as the buoyant sector continues to grow exports. Alistair King, Crowe Horwath’s horticulture specialist says, ‘The numbers are stacking up to support this and with exports and production increasing significantly every year, the horticulture sector is predicting growth until 2018/19.’

‘According to Summerfruit NZ’s latest reports the 2016 export value was $68 million for cherries, up by 30% on 2015’s $52 million. There were 3,408 tonnes exported in 2016, that’s up by 25% on 2015. The Central Otago region is dominating exports, estimated at being responsible for 95% of 2016’s exports, yet only producing 50% of New Zealand’s cherries,’ King reports. . . 

Forester’s Award their Achievers:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s President James Treadwell announces two awards.

Forester of the Year is one of the highest accolades in the industry, recognizing contribution, leadership, excellence and integrity.

This year Forester of the year was awarded to Sally Strang Environmental Manager, Hancock Forest Management (NZ) Ltd for her tireless work in finding ways to reverse erosion in high priority areas. . .

Robotics and automation changing the wood supply chain:

Logistics within the forest industry is going through a major shakeup. Smart technology – robotics, automation, cloud computing, big data analytics and improved connectivity within the supply chain is reshaping how leading companies are adapting to and operating in the 21st century.

Wood Flow Optimisation 2016, a technology series being run in both New Zealand and Australia in mid-September by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA), will be providing local forestry and wood transport companies a rare insight into how these new technologies are being integrated – from the forest through to the wood processing operation or port.

In the last couple of weeks’, we’ve heard about the giant steps being taken in New Zealand’s forestry industry with in-forest trials using teleoperation technology. . . 

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Rural round-up

November 10, 2015

Chefs see food as much more than a commodity – Rebecca Ryan:

There’s a new movement gaining momentum in the New Zealand food industry. ConversatioNZ, aiming to ”inspire and empower” by creating a strong sense of pride and respect for the country’s natural, edible resources, is a not-for-profit movement created to share the story of New Zealand food and push culinary boundaries. North Otago reporter Rebecca Ryan talks to North Otago chefs and ConversatioNZ advisory board members Bevan Smith and Fleur Sullivan about it

Thirteen years ago, Fleur Sullivan saw waste and an opportunity for people to enjoy ”beautiful, fresh fish” straight off the boats in Moeraki.

Her restaurant Fleur’s Place, she says, was formed after she saw the byproduct – the fish brains, the heads, the livers – being thrown overboard from fishing boats and she knew she could use what was being thrown away. . . 

Te Brake hits the accelerator – Ali Tocker:

Changing the guard at Young Farmers has propelled meat industry accountant Jason Te Brake into the hot seat as chairman. He talked to Ali Tocker about his career so far and his aspirations for the Young Farmers movement while he heads the board.

Jason Te Brake is clever, confident and committed – three qualities that have earned him the role of chairman of New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF).

The 27-year-old has his sights set on a strong and secure future for the group.

Woman’s passion for health and safety leads to award:

A passion for improving health and safety on New Zealand farms, and in particular the health of those working in the industry, has contributed to a West Coast farmer being named the winner of the rural category of the Women of Influence Award.

Katie Milne, a dairy farmer from Rotomanu, is also a member of the Federated Farmers Board, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Board, TB-Free West Coast and numerous other groups, including being a volunteer firefighter.

Ms Milne works closely with the Rural Health Alliance and travels the country talking to farmers about health and safety.

She said some farmers were not coping due to low or dropping returns, but help was available. . . 

Water scheme expanding down valley – Hamish Maclean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company’s $57 million expansion down the Kakanui Valley is well under way.

Last month, McConnell Dowell Constructors crews began laying the main line – 1.2m-diameter reinforced fibreglass pipes – that will stretch towards Herbert.

The company almost tripled the size of the head pond on Ngapara-Georgetown Rd and upgraded pump stations over the winter.

The project was still on target for the September 2016 hook-up, company chairman Leigh Hamilton said. . . .

Significantly Improved Result Confirmed for Silver Fern Farms:

Silver Fern Farms has confirmed a positive 2015 financial result and further inroads made on debt reduction.

For the financial year ended September 2015, the company achieved Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) of $86.9m. This represented a 28 percent improvement on the $68.1m achieved in 2014. Net profit before tax for the year was $27.2m, up from $1.8m in 2014.

Chairman Rob Hewett said Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be pleased by the audited result. . . .

Potatoes ditch cadmium:

University of Canterbury researchers have developed potatoes that are resistant to cadmium, a toxic metal found in soil.

They say the finding could give growers here a new marketing edge.

Biotechnology lecturer Dr David Leung said their potatoes had a trait that could solve this problem and enhance New Zealand’s best potato varieties. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 16, 2015

Deal will change face of industry – Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms aims to be debt free with money in the bank by this time next year if a deal to form a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese food giant Shanghai Maling gets shareholder approval.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett remained optimistic yesterday the deal would receive the required 50% shareholder support and the company is offering significant sweeteners to persuade shareholders to vote yes.

The deal would allow Silver Fern Farms to become unleashed, he said.

Mr Hewett’s presentation to a media conference was peppered with phrases such as ”turbo-charged” and ”compelling”. . . 

 

Shock waves from Silver Fern Farms will now pulsate through the industry – Keith Woodford:

Five months ago I wrote that whatever happened at Silver Fern Farms, it would be like an earthquake within the meat industry. Given that Silver Fern Farms is New Zealand’s largest meat company, and with the status quo unsustainable, it could not be any other way.

The offer that has now come forward from Shanghai Maling is remarkable. This offer, once regulatory approvals are received, will change Silver Fern Farms from being large but financially very weak, to being large and financially very strong.

Apart from mid-season working capital, Silver Fern Farms will be debt free and with cash in their war chest to ‘take it’ to their competitors. . . 

Alliance reaches out to Silver Fern suppliers – Dene Mackenzie:

Invercargill meat processor Alliance Group wasted no time yesterday in trying to woo disgruntled Silver Fern Farm suppliers after Silver Fern announced a joint venture with a Chinese company.

Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said it was important for New Zealand farmers to retain ownership of their industry and the best way to achieve that would be to supply Alliance as the only remaining major co-operative.

Alliance also muddied the water somewhat by saying it submitted a bid for Silver Fern before Silver Fern’s capital-raising process got under way as part of ongoing discussions with the Dunedin group. . . 

Beef and Lamb expects farm profits to rise – Dene Mackenzie:

New Zealand ”average” sheep and beef farmers are in for a profit lift and Beef and Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt calls it positive news at a time when the economy would benefit from increased farm sector spending.

Beef and Lamb predicted the average sheep and beef farm would see its profit before tax lift to $109,000 this season – 9.6% more than last season but 3.1% below the five year average. . . 

Sheep meat marketing needs focus on premium – Simon Hartley:

Softening demand for sheepmeat in China and Europe should be prompting New Zealand to prioritise getting premium chilled lamb cuts in China, and to also look further afield to new Middle Eastern markets.

Softer overseas demand for New Zealand sheepmeat, particularly from China, had curtailed New Zealand sheepmeat producers’ returns in recent months, Rabobank animal protein analyst, Matthew Costello said in his recent report on the New Zealand sheepmeat industry.

While China’s imports had ”exploded on to the New Zealand sheepmeat export scene” in 2013, to become New Zealand’s largest sheepmeat trading partner, its own production had since grown to about eight times that of New Zealand. . . 

Large trade blocs good for NZ exports:

New Zealand’s refreshed priorities for international trade have been welcomed by ExportNZ.

The Government’s Business Growth Agenda on trade has been updated, with a focus on completing the Trans Pacific Partnership, achieving a free trade agreement with the European Union, and engaging more with emerging economies in Latin and South America.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard said exporters welcomed the continued emphasis on TPP. . .

Swede test a first for NZ – Hamish Maclean:

The plight of Southern farmers last year has led to a first for New Zealand.

When 200 dairy cows died in Southland and South Otago and many more became ill, the cause – a naturally occurring compound in winter feed, swedes in particular, – could not be tested at any New Zealand commercial laboratories.

Now, commercial glucosinolate testing of plants is available in New Zealand, and that is good news for the dairy industry, Dairy NZ says. . . 

Farm prices hold up; MyFarm eyeing dairy opportunities – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm prices are holding up well on a drop in volume over the winter months, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural farm sales data.

There were only three dairy farm sales recorded in the past month and the median sales price per hectare for dairy farms for the three months ended August fell to $26,906, compared to $35,304 for the three months ended July and $43,125 for the three months ended August 2014.

But the REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in farm size and location, rose by 17.3 percent in the three months to August, compared to the three months to July. . . 

Tests before tightening help protect farm fertility:

Soil tests should be the first step for farmers trying to managing budgets while maintaining pasture productivity.

Ballance Science Extension Manager, Ian Tarbotton, says keeping soils fertile is good insurance with pasture an essential feed source, but gut instinct or past experience won’t lead to good decisions on what to spend or save.

“Soil tests will show you what you have to work with and they are the best guide to decisions around a fertiliser budget. The last thing farmers want to do is to compromise future productivity, so understanding what nutrients are available now is the best basis for decisions on fertiliser budgets.” . . 


Rural round-up

March 10, 2015

Fonterra shifts staff from Auckland to regions – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra has begun shifting out top-level managers from Auckland head office to jobs in the regions as it tackles complaints of a disconnect with its farmers and moves more decision-making back to dairying heartlands.

The co-operative has made appointments to the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Canterbury regions and is recruiting four more executives for Otago-Southland, Northland, Taranaki and Central Districts.

A large part of their jobs will be to work with farmer-shareholders to understand their needs and to be a communication bridge between farmers with growth plans and local councils, said Fonterra group director of co-operative affairs, Miles Hurrell, to whom they will report.

“Having those decisions made in Auckland is not doing those regions a service, in terms of the farmer base and communications,” he said. . .

Outstanding family operation scoops award :

Central Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmers Alastair and Tracy Ormond and Alastair’s son Daniel are the Supreme winners of the 2015 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At an awards dinner on March 5, the Ormonds, who farm 620ha of hill-country in the Hatuma district, also collected the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award and the East Coast Farming for the Future Award (sponsored by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Gisborne District Council).

BFEA judges described the Ormond’s farm ‘Te Umuopua’ as a well-planted and thoughtfully-developed property with land and water managed to the limitations of soil types. . .

‘Trying to be proactive’ to help foreign workers – Hamish Maclean:

Driving skills, English language training and access to services are the top concerns of the growing international workforce in the Clutha district, Clutha District Settlement Support chairwoman Chris Shaw says.

The settlement support group, on hand at the Southern Region Dairy Expo at Clydevale last week, offers a 12 week everyday English course and brings students from its Clydevale base to Dunedin for Literacy Aotearoa’s learner driver’s licence theory tutorial, which has been tailored for people for whom English is a second language. . .

Two tie for title of supreme sheep – Sally Rae:

Sheep breeding is a passion for Kerry Dwyer.

And while it might just be a hobby, he was serious about breeding good sheep, he said after tying with Will Gibson for the title of supreme champion sheep at the recent North Otago A&P Show.

Mr Dwyer’s Suffolk ram, which won champion meat breed, and Mr Gibson’s coloured merino ram, which won champion wool breed, finished with the same number of points when it came to the judging of supreme champion. . .

First Future Leaders Committee Selected:

The NZKGI Executive Committee is pleased to announce the inaugural Future Leaders Committee:

Shaun Vickers of Ballance Agri-Nutrients—Chair
Rikki James of Cameron Farms —Treasurer
Cody Bent of Trevelyan’s Pack & Cool—Secretary
Mary Black of Zespri International
Campbell Wood of Seeka Kiwifruit Industries
Keiran Harvey of Bay Gold Limited

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, said the selection process was very competitive. “The calibre of all applicants was very high, making the decision a very difficult one.”

“However we’re confident we have selected a group of passionate and motivated horticulture people who have very diverse backgrounds and different perspectives – a great combination for a strong, effective committee. . .

 

Women Farmers Making it Happen #IWD2015 – Food tank:

March 8th is International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is “Make it Happen.” All over the world, there are innovative women inspiring us at Food Tank. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the success and achievements of women in agriculture, while also calling on more resources and support.

The Open Working Group (OWG) of the U.N. General Assembly recently proposed their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include the need to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The goals also aim to reduce inequality within and among countries, combat climate change, build resilient communities, ensure access to education, promote healthy lifestyles, end hunger, achieve food security, and promote sustainable agriculture. Women are already making many of these goals happen in villages and cities around the globe. . .

Record wine exports mark the start of vintage 2015:

Wine exports have reached a record high and now stand at $1.37 billion, up 8.2%, propelling wine to New Zealand’s 6th biggest export good.

This strong demand in key markets bodes well for the wine industry, whose 2015 grape harvest is now underway. . .


Rural round-up

August 4, 2014

Award accepted as tribute to young farmer – Alison Beckham:

Southland dairy farmer Stefan Zeestraten should have been accepting an award at the 2014 Southland Environment awards on Thursday recognising the positive environmental practices he promoted on his family’s three central Southland farms.

Instead, there was a minute’s silence as the 300 people attending paid tribute to the 24-year-old, killed on Monday when his vehicle left the road and hit a power pole north of Winton, about 3am. . .

Young farmers there to support others – Nicole Sharp:

Waimea Valley farmers Andrew and Katherine Welsh are never ones to shy away from a challenge, especially when it comes to farming.

Moving to the Waimea Valley, near Mandeville, six years ago, the pair joined Balfour Young Farmers.

Mr Welsh had previously spent 11 years with the Thornbury club. But what they arrived to took them by surprise.

The Balfour club was nearly closed and had about five members.

It was in recession, and the task for the Welshes was simple: to get the club up and running again. . .

Biodiversity grant enables nursery at wetlands – Hamish Maclean:

A plant nursery should be the focal point for visitors to New Zealand’s largest privately owned wetland by this summer.

A biodiversity funding contribution of $9600 from the Clutha District Council means work can begin immediately on a nursery at Sinclair Wetlands (Te Nohoaka o Tukiuau), wetlands co-ordinator Glen Riley says.

Mr Riley said the wetlands had benefited from 1000-plus volunteer hours already this year. . .

In sheep farming for the long haul – Annette Scott:

Canterbury farmer Chris Allen grew up on a sheep-and-beef farm in Waikato.

He is a licensed aircraft engineer but 20 years ago the farming in his blood lured him back to the land.

He and wife Anne-Marie headed south and bought a 360ha sheep-and-beef property near Mt Somers.

Despite the growing challenges behind the farmgate Allen is upbeat about the red-meat sector’s revival.

“Either you do what you do or you sell out,” he said.

“Dairy is a whole new level of investment that doesn’t interest me, so I do this.  . .

Taking the sting out of honey cowboys:

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett is hopeful new labelling rules for manuka honey will flush out what he says are cowboys who are giving the product and industry a bad name.

The interim labelling guidelines, which come into effect in January 2016, will ensure New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey for export.

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett said good brands had been using a quality standard, the Unique Manuka Factor, for a number of years but rogue elements within the industry had put it in jeopardy. . . .

Viability of G9 kiwifruit under question:

There are fears a newly developed kiwifruit variety could be a lemon.

An industry leader said there were concerns about the long-term commercial viability of the gold kiwifruit variety known as G9.

G9 was first commercialised, along with another gold variety, G3, in 2010 in response to the bacterial disease PSA which has virtually wiped out the former variety of gold kiwifruit.

About 150 hectares of G9 is grown, much less than G3’s 4000 hectares. . .

Realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American Alliance Takes Effect:

The first step in the realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American alliance has taken effect.

As announced in May this year, Fonterra and Nestlé have revised their 10-year-old Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) joint venture to better reflect each company’s respective strategies.

Fonterra now has a 51 per cent controlling stake in DPA Brazil, with Nestlé holding the balance; and, together with a local partner, Fonterra has taken over Nestlé’s share of DPA Venezuela.

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Latin America, Alex Turnbull, says: “This is an exciting next step for Fonterra and the people in these businesses as they are formally welcomed to the Co-operative.” . . .

 


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