Mr Brown’s boys

September 1, 2013

The Otago rugby team  and the Ranfurly shield they won were welcomed back to Dunedin last week by a crowd of 1000 and a banner reading: “Welcome Home, Mr Brown’s Boys”.

The province has celebrated but coach Tony Brown and the team have been focussed on something more important than celebrating the win – retaining the shield.

. . . There is no point giving up the trophy in week one after having waited more than 20,000 days to have it. The first week has been a great ride and no-one wants to jump off so quickly. . .

Forsyth Barr Stadium has been renamed Tony Brown’s place for the occasion.

We were at Carisbrook when it was dubbed Tony Brown’s place for a Super 12 final in 1999.

Unfortunately the Highlanders weren’t able to beat the Crusaders that day.

All my fingers and toes are crossed that the party at Tony Brown’s place this afternoon when Otago defends the shield against the Hawkes Bay Magpies, has a much happier outcome.

Go Otaaaago!

P.S.

Alwyn and I have a bottle of Otago or Hawkes Bay wine of the winner’s choice on the results. I’m happy to accept the same wager from others who doubt Otago.


Rural round-up

May 7, 2013

Fixed price contracts not priority for most meat companies – Marie Taylor:

As debate on the state of the red-meat sector continues, Marie Taylor asked 12 meat processors what they had to offer farmers in terms of stable pricing they could bank on.

Fixed-price contracts are few and far between in the meat industry.

The New Zealand Farmers Weekly surveyed 12 meat companies in New Zealand to find out what was on offer in terms of predictable, stable pricing farmers could bank on.

The most encouraging responses came from Silver Fern Farms, Ovation, Progressive Meats, Lean Meats and Firstlight Foods. . .

New animal welfare strategy released:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has launched the New Zealand Animal Welfare Strategy today, setting out a high level framework for how we treat animals.

“The strategy Animal Welfare Matters sets out a formal foundation for New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation and policy,” says Mr Guy.

“It says that it matters how animals are treated, and that we have responsibilities toward animals. It also says that using animals for activities like farming and racing is acceptable as long as it is humane.”

The strategy lists four main routes to improved animal welfare: . . .

Federated Farmers back new animal welfare strategy:

Federated Farmers is fully supporting the release of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Animal Welfare Strategy.

“The strategy reflects Federated Farmers own policy on animal welfare,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“It really does matter how animals are treated and farmers have both a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure requirements are adhered to.

“New Zealand’s farmers are actually world leaders in integrating animal health and welfare into their farm management planning. Something recognised by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

“This strategy reaffirms our international leadership and reputation. It is a strategic means to ensure this reputation is not only maintained but improved and Federated Farmers supports it. . .

Word of Hawke’s Bay Wines Spreading In China:

Hawke’s Bay wines, in particular high quality reds, are steadily gaining exposure in the expansive Chinese market with two recent initiatives adding to the awareness. 

Four influential Chinese media writers visited the region and were hosted by Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers and five wineries, while four local wineries attended one of China’s most important international wine trade fairs, the Chengdu Wine & Spirits Fair.

Immediately after her visit, Sophie Liu, an independent wine writer and educator, has blogged positively about her time in Hawke’s Bay and is planning articles to appear in Wine World, Wine & Taste and World Cuisine magazines, as well as http://www.wines-info.com

Her colleague Fan Yiren, who is one of China’s most influential social bloggers with accumulated fans of 63,374,307 on one site and over 330,000 on Weibo (Chinese Facebook equivalent), blogged daily. He is also planning to write four to five feature blogs. . .

At home and overseas, New Zealand seafood is on the dinner table:

When fish is on the menu, the type of fish you get can depend heavily on where you live.

Salmon, tarakihi, and gurnard are the most-commonly available fish species in supermarkets and fish shops as tracked in the consumers price index (CPI), Statistics NZ said today. However, some species are not widely available in all regions.

“Snapper and trevally are generally available in shops from Nelson northwards, but barely feature further south where sole is more commonly available,” prices manager Chris Pike said.

New Zealand’s seafood industry, published today by Statistics NZ, gives an economic overview of selected parts of the country’s seafood industry and provides a comparison between 2007 and 2012. . .

Trials show there’s a lot to love about molasses:

A further round of farm trials in the Waikato has reconfirmed the value of Crystalyx Dry Cow dehydrated molasses blocks as a Dry Cow winter management tool.

The results were shared at a farm open day in Putaruru, in March, with Jackie Aveling, Animal Nutrition Manager at Altum, saying the good turnout reflected farmers’ interest.

“Overseas trials over some 20 years have consistently confirmed the performance of dehydrated molasses blocks. Farmers want to know if the same results can be achieved in New Zealand. Our trial work with Crystalyx, which is specifically formulated for local conditions, gives them the facts they need to support its performance.”

The repeated trial work done by Dr Mark Oliver, science director of the Liggins Institute’s Ngapouri Farm research station near Rotorua, which saw a control herd supplemented with magnesium and trace elements following current best practice guidelines, and the other Crystalyx Dry Cow. . .

Organic Farm Pioneers High-tech Voluntary Milking System:

Robotic or voluntary milking systems, where the cows choose for themselves when they want to be milked and the whole job is done by a computerised machine, are still as rare as tits on a bull in New Zealand.

Heritage Farm, a certified organic dairy farm at Karaka, just south of Auckland, was the first farm in New Zealand to install a DeLaval Voluntary Milking System.

Early adopters David and Cathy Yates, who own and run Heritage Farm with their son Brian, are really pleased with their move to computerised milking. They have now had two and a half year’s experience with the system and say that its benefits go way beyond not having to spend hours in the milking shed every day putting on and taking off teat cups. They include improved animal health and welfare, and better pasture and feed management – all made possible by the quantity and quality of the data that the system provides, along with doing the manual work of milking. . .


NZ beetroot beats Aussie’s

February 17, 2013

Hawke’s Bay growers are defending the quality of their beetroot against claims from Dick Smith that Australian beetroot is better:

Hawke’s Bay growers have struck back at claims from Australian millionaire Dick Smith that our beetroot is “poor quality”.

Heinz Australia has threatened to sue Mr Smith, who it says made a false claim on the label of his Smith’s Magnificent Sliced Beetroot on sale in Australia.

The label says: “When American-owned Heinz decided to move its beetroot processing facility from Australia to New Zealand causing hundreds of lost jobs, we decided enough is enough.

“So we are fighting back against poor quality imported product.”

Hawke’s Bay grower Mark Apatu said the claims are bogus.

“Our beetroot is fantastic,” he said.

“We’ve been growing beetroot for 35 years.

“Our quality and yield is world class and our flavours are magnificent.”

This is an underhand – or should that be under arm? – campaign which Heinz says is factually incorrect.

Heinz Australia corporate affairs manager Andrew Hewett said the company took exception to the inflammatory nature of the comments and had threatened to sue, which Mr Smith was using to gain free publicity.

“Heinz believes that the statements were either incorrect or misleading,” Mr Hewett said.

“We found it unfortunate that in order to try and promote sales of his own products, Dick Smith felt the need to reference other brands in the market rather than relying on the attributes of his own products.”

Heinz sent a letter to Mr Smith, pointing out its concerns, which Mr Smith made public.

“In an effort to effectively gain free advertising for his own products, Dick Smith chose to forward a private letter to the media. Heinz stands by the decisions it made in relation to the manufacture of beetroot and also the quality of its products.

“We take pride in the quality of our products, and our support of Australian manufacturing, employing more than 1200 people Australia-wide.

“We will continue to view this as a private matter between Heinz and Dick Smith and treat it accordingly.

“We are not interested in furthering Dick Smith’s efforts to gain publicity and therefore will refrain from making any further comments,” Mr Hewett said.

Buy local is an old marketing plea which appeals to consumers’ parochialism but isn’t always in their best interests.

There are lots of arguments for buying local but being local doesn’t  guarantee better quality or lower prices, on the contrary it sometimes means lower quality and higher prices.


Rural round-up

October 14, 2012

Alarm as PSA confirmed in the Bay – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Hawke’s Bay kiwifruit orchardists are on heightened alert after an outbreak of the devastating vine-killing disease Psa-V in an orchard near Taradale.

A positive test result was confirmed yesterday and industry organisation Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has established a controlled area that includes 43 kiwifruit orchards in the Hawke’s Bay region. . .

New Zealand Pinot Noirs Triumph at Major International Competition:

New Zealand Pinot Noir shone at this year’s International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). Over half of the country’s Gold Medals were awarded to wines made from the variety, while the Valli Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 beat all other Pinot Noirs entered from around the world to win the Competition’s coveted Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Trophy. . .

Further success for Gibbston Valley Winery in their 25th year of winegrowing

A Central Otago Winery is celebrating as it received results overnight from the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London (IWSC).

The IWSC has awarded Gibbston Valley Winery a Gold Medal for its 2010 Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir. This was one of only 12 Gold Medals awarded to New Zealand wines across all varieties, and one of five Pinot Noirs. . .

Eye-opening visit to Canada – Jill Galloway:

Peter Fitz-Herbert has just been absent from his farm at Hunterville, on a trip to British Columbia in Canada, to talk beef cattle.

He won the Beef and Lamb scholarship to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and the Young Ranchers programme.

Fitz-Herbert is stock manager on the family farm in Upper Pakihikura Rd, near Hunterville. He manages 2400 ewes and 220 breeding cattle on 600 hectares. . .

Industry Training for the Primary Industries:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO), following the formal merger launch yesterday of the AgITO and Horticulture ITO. This follows July’s merger of the Seafood ITO and the NZITO (meat and dairy sectors).

“What we are seeing is the natural alignment of the primary industries training organisations ITO’s),” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers spokesperson on education and skills.

“So far this year, we have seen four related ITO’s announce intentions to become just two. This not only reduces duplication but provides a more seamless offer to trainees. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Workshops to Kickstart the Conversation Around Farm Succession:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is holding a series of workshops in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay to help farming families plan for the future.

A succession plan can help to avoid family rifts further down the track, ease the transition from one generation to the next, and ensure a fair go for all involved.

It’s a big issue for the sheep and beef sector. We’re told that more than 60 per cent of farm businesses are owned by over-60s – the majority of whom want to pass the family farm on to the kids. . .

Award-winning ‘super farm’ goes on the market for sale

One of the biggest dairy farms in the Bay of Plenty – and the recipient of an award for environmental best practice policies – has been placed on the market for sale.

“Lake Farm” near the townships of Matata and Kawerau encompasses some 373 hectares of land – milking 850 cows and producing 306,644 kilogram’s of milk solids over the 2011/12 season. This was forecast to grow to 320,000 kilogram’s of milk solids over the current year.

The farm is owned by former New Zealand Dairy Board deputy chairman Doug Bull, who also held senior roles at the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company and which became a part of the single merged Bay of Plenty dairy company known as Bay Milk Products. This year the farm won the environmental section of the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards. . .


Rural round-up

June 17, 2012

Rates gouge farm incomes – Tim Fulton:

Thank goodness export prices are strong because a Beef + Lamb New Zealand report says local authority rates have risen cumulatively by just over 30% over the past five years.

“At an average increase of 6.1% each year it defines the expression ‘inflation busting’,” Federated Farmers local government spokesperson David Rose said when The New Zealand Farmers Weekly showed him B+LNZ’s figures.

The rates insight is part of the Economic Service’s regular survey of on-farm costs, combining data from Statistics New Zealand with its own assessments. . . 

Looking beyond the dollars at Winter Dairy Days:

Helping dairy farmers look ‘beyond the dollars’ at their whole farm system management is the goal of a series of winter dairy workshops being held by the Dairy Women’s Network around New Zealand in June and July.

The five workshops are being held in Winton, Rotorua, Cambridge, Hokitika and Nelson at the end of June and beginning of July and are a great follow on from the Essential Farm Finance days run by the Network earlier in the year.

Ngatea dairy farmer and farm consultant, Julie Pirie, will lead four of the workshops, with Te Anau dairy farmer Anna Kempthorne speaking at the Winton event. . . .

NZ Farming Systems cuts FY guidance as dry weather reduces milk production – Hannah Lynch,

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, the South American dairy farmer controlled by Singapore’s Olam International, will miss its target to break even on a pretax basis this year after dry weather stunted pasture growth and milk output.

Farming Systems is now forecasting a loss of US$3 million to US$5 million on an earnings before interest and tax basis. The company will break even once it accounts for a fair value adjustment in the value of livestock, it said in a statement.

“Milk production continues to increase significantly year on year, although the very dry summer and autumn weather in Uruguay along with the later-than-expected completion of the new dairies, has resulted in milk production to date being below forecast,” it said. . .

Arable farmers cut back grain in favour of seed crops:

Arable farmers are cutting back on wheat and barley for next season and planting more seed crops in response to falling grain prices.

Growers cut back on seed production last year in response to higher grain prices but increased wheat and barley production and record yields created high stock levels and reduced prices.

Federated Farmers grain and seed chair Ian Mackenzie says the one contract price offered for milling wheat so far has dropped from about $460 to $420 a tonne.

Feed grain contract prices have dropped from about $410 to $360 a tonne.

Water storage scheme ‘vital’ for Hawke’s Bay farmers:

A central Hawke’s Bay farm consultant says farmers regard a proposed $220 million water storage scheme as being a vital step in the economic growth of the region.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has this week been hearing submissions on the Ruataniwha scheme, which could provide irrigation to 22,500 hectares of farm land.

Consultant Roy Fraser has visited northern Tasmania where he says farmers have been using water storage for more than 70 years. . . 

Dairy breeding a family tradition – Hugh Stringleman:

Stuart Bay retired on May 31 as chairman of the dairy co-operative LIC, the fourth generation of his family to serve on livestock improvement co-operative boards.

After 37 years of dairy herd improvement governance, perhaps Bay has seen and done it all?

No way. Bay would like his 22 years on the LIC board over again, for a ring-side seat for what he believes are the most exciting years to come in dairy genetics.

LIC is beginning to deliver genomics science, which promises dairy farmers routine gene fingerprinting of their calves, to quickly identify the most productive milkers and their predisposition to faults and diseases.

Trees on farms workshop : maximizing marginal land use:

A Trees on Farms workshop particularly designed for Maori landowners and farmers taking an inter-generational view of their land management options is being held in Ohope on Wednesday 20 June.

This workshop will focus on in the opportunities and benefits trees can provide in developing management for the marginal or less productive parts of the farm, and those attending will be able to discuss tree planting options with Maori land owners, experienced farm foresters and regional council staff.

The workshop and field trip will feature the Ohope property of Ngāti Awa Group Holdings, looking at trees as an intergenerational land management tool providing sustainable agribusiness solutions and enhancing long term land use. . . 


Losing the farm to nature

May 3, 2011

The term losing the farm usually refers to financial problems but in Hawkes Bay it can be applied literally as record rainfall caused floods and slips:

Large areas of low-lying farmland were been flooded in the two-day storm; one station near Waipawa recorded 500mm of rain.

Marion McKee, who with her husband farms 610 hectares near the coast at Blackhead, said up to three-quarters of the property has been lost to slips and other damage, and their immediate neighbours had been hit just as badly.

Another coastal farmer, John Nation, said 530mm of rain in two days had caused deep slips on hillsides, destroyed fences, including boundary fences, and damaged buildings.

Mr Nation estimated about half his farm has been destroyed in the storm.

A Landcorp farm is among those worst hit:

Landcorp says much of Te Apiti station (1200 hectares) has been destroyed.

Chief executive Chris Kelly says 30% of the farm has been lost and boundary fences are largely gone.

The SOE estimates repairs will cost about $450,000.

The worst of the damage was fairly localised. Farmers outside that area welcomed 120mm of rain and will be able to help those who’ve lost large parts of their farm to nature.


Counting the cost of the snow

October 7, 2009

The south has had reasonable weather for lambing and calving.

Even after last weekend’s cold snap there haven’t been reports of many stock losses.

It’s been much tougher in the Central North Island.

“This brutally cold southerly flow couldn’t have come at a worse time for Hawke’s Bay farmers. There’s a massive risk that the combination of snow and cold winds could put stress on newborn livestock,” says Kevin Mitchell, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president.

“Several Hawke’s Bay farmers are in the middle of late lambing and sadly, some newborns may perish in the freezing conditions. The snow has unfortunately hit at a critical time in the farming cycle. Farmers I have spoken to worked through the night in order to save as many lambs as possible.

This unseasonal snow comes after a very dry autumn and in the face of falling prices.

Lambs which would have sold for $90 last summer are expected to fetch only $70 this year. Demand is high and supplies are low, but the high dollar is being blamed for depressing returns to farmers.


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