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.


Bloggers on AOS hunt for gunman

October 5, 2009

PM of NZ and Rivetting Kate Taylor both have updates on the Armed Offenders Squad search for the gunman in Hawkes Bay.


Another lovely day

April 29, 2009

The phrase another lovely day accompanied by a forecast for continued fine weather sets farmers’ teeth on edge when they’re in depserate need of rain.

North Otago isn’t desperately dry, but we have been in need of a good shower so waking to the sound of rain on the roof, and still hearing it falling steadily now, makes this a really lovely day.

If only we could send some north to Hawkes Bay and Gisborne which are both battling drought and desperately need the sort of lovely day we’re enjoying.


Hawkes Bay seeks drought declaration

April 27, 2009

The third successive dry year has forced the Hawkes Bay Drought Committee to ask for the region to be declared a drought area.

Committee chair Lawrence Yule said:

“An autumn drought is worse than a spring drought. At the moment there’s lower levels of grass growing around which you need to carry stock through the winter,’ he said.

“This is Central Hawke’s Bay’s third drought in a row, farmers’ morale is very low, many haven’t been able to generate the income to service their stock.’

Mr Yule said there was also a major cricket problem in CHB as the insects were attracted to the district’s clay soils.

“There are areas that have been eaten by crickets, hundreds of them are getting into houses and there are whole hills which have been eaten out by crickets,’ he said.

After visitng Gisborne which was declared a drought area last week, Agriculture Minister David Carter said that winter drought is harder to explain to non-farmers:

. . . these farmers are going into their third year of drought; with soil temperatures dropping, rain is too late for grass growth. The positives, in contrast to last year, are the price of store stock is up, the price of supplementary feed is down, and the region’s farmers do not have to compete for feed with other drought stricken areas.

The North Island’s East Coast seems to be the only area in New Zealand that hasn’t enjoyed a reasonable autumn. I have done a fair bit of travelling over the past month and farmers up and down the country are generally very positive, despite the global economic situation.

Improved prices for stock and less competition for suplementary food will make things a little less difficult this season, as will lower interest rates and a fall in the price of fertiliser. But some farmers won’t be able to afford fertilister at any price and the other points are very small slivers of silver in the cloud of drought hanging over the province.

We were in Hawkes Bay in spring 2007 and autumn last year and the impact of dry weather was evident then. We’ve got used to irrigation providing some insurance against dry weather in North Otago and Canterbury but all the farms we visited in the North Island were totally reliant on rain.

North Otago had a dry summer but February’s rain set us up for autumn. We haven’t had any significant falls since then so although it’s getting a bit late for much growth before winter sets in, enough rain to get soil moisture levels up for spring growth would be very welcome. 

A couple of good showers would be enough for us, but the North Island’s East Coast needs sustained rain to break the drought. Until that happens making the drought official will trigger government measures such as tax relief and funding for management advice and Rural Support Trusts.


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