Rural round-up

May 27, 2019

Lobby group 50 Shades of Green calls for pause on blanket forestry – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to hit the pause button on policies which have led to thousands of hectares of hill country farmland being converted to blanket forestry in the last year, a newly-formed lobby group says. 

50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick said significant land use change was happening and its speed and scale had caught everyone by surprise.  

“It has snowballed so quickly that we need to hit the pause button and ask whether this is what we intended to happen.  . . 

Too much regulation can bring unintended consequences – Simon Davies:

Although you may not think some regulations apply to your farming business you’d be wrong, writes Federated Farmers Otago provincial president Simon Davies.

Regulation is part of life.

But the thing is I really did not appreciate how much of my life, and more importantly my farming business, was captured by legislation and regulations.

This can’t be highlighted better than since the last election. . .

Farmers own’t forget Jones’ outburst – Steve Wyn-Harris:

So now Shane Jones has decided to put the boot into farmers.

I thought he was touting and self-styling himself as the champion of the regions.

There’s his party doing everything it can over the last few years to portray itself as a reinvented country party and even getting grudging respect from the rural rump as the handbrake on the potential excesses of a centre-left government.

Then. in one manic outburst, he ensured not many farmers or rural folk will consider voting for him or his party next year. . . 

Tough times ahead :

Dairy farmers will be under pressure from the low start to Fonterra’s new season advance rates, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

“Cash is king for farmers because of seasonal conditions, demands for debt repayment from the banks and the rising tide of on-farm costs,” he said.

The forecast of the fourth $6-plus season in a row is welcome but farm working expenses have gone up 50c a kilogram of milksolids over the past couple of years and margins are tight. . . 

From potatoes to coffee, plant breeders are changing crops to adapt to an uncertain climate future – Sam Bloch:

We tend to view the effects of climate change through the lens of the worst and most dramatic disasters, from hurricanes and floods to forest fires. But farmers have a more mundane fear: that as weather becomes more extreme and varied, their land will no longer support the crops they grow. We’ve grown accustomed to living in a world where salad greens thrive in California, and Iowa is the land of corn. But even in the absence of a single, catastrophic event, conventional wisdom about what grows best where may no longer apply.

“People who depend on the weather and hawk its signs every day know it’s getting wetter, warmer, and weirder, and have recognized it for some time,” Art Cullen, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of The Storm Lake Times, a twice-weekly Iowa newspaper, wrote for us in December. “The climate assessment predicts more of it and worse. Ag productivity will be set back to 1980s levels unless there is some unforeseen breakthrough in seed and chemical technology.” . . 

Industry urged to seize opportunities to communicate with public:

People working in every part of the Scottish red meat industry were today (Friday 24th May) urged by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) to support forth-coming campaigns and seize every opportunity to communicate the industry’s positive messages.

Speaking at a briefing to announce QMS’s ambitious activity plans for the year ahead, Kate Rowell, QMS Chair, emphasised a key focus of the organisation’s activity for the 2019/20 year will be to upweight the important work it does to protect, as well as promote, the industry.

“The work we do to protect and enhance the reputation of the industry has never been more important,” said Mrs Rowell. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2019

Selling sheep and beef farms to forestry is a threat to food and trade – Stuff Editorial:

His pockets stuffed with millions of dollars for regional development, his mind set on getting unemployed cousins off the couch to plant a billion trees, he stood before a mayoral reception and urged people to get involved.

“If you have an aspiration to turn marginal land into forestry, we are going to do it …” he told his hosts.

The official guide to his One Billion Trees Programme featured the Manawatū sheep and beef farm owned by Justin and Mary Vennell. . . 

Farmer uneasy over farm to forestry conversion plan – Heather Chalmers:

Government incentives to plant trees is leading to a rush of sheep and beef farms being sold for conversion to forests.  

Farmers are worried about the trend, saying that once hill country properties are planted in forests, they will never return to pastoral farming.     

While the Government had banned overseas people, apart from Australians and Singaporeans, from buying existing residential and lifestyle properties, rule changes had made it easier for foreigners to invest in forestry.   . .

There’s rarely a day at least one story from New Zealand Farmers Weekly doesn’t feature in my rural-round-up.

It’s also the one give-away paper that is a must read not just in ours but in every other farming house I know.

It deserves its title of Best Trade Publication in the Voyager NZ Media Awards.

Climate policy still clouded – Neal Wallace:

The government is still to decide the mechanics of how and how much farmers will pay for methane emissions and if it will mean inclusion in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Initially, the point of obligation will be with milk and meat processors but Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says that is for ease of administration and he has made research on shifting the liability to individual farms a priority.

“I want to see us reward good on-farm behaviour and practice as quickly as we can.” . .

Northland a centre of share farming excellence – Hugh Stringleman:

Share Farmers of the Year Colin and Isabella Beazley have their hands full with winter milking and a herd expansion by 200 cows for next season.

The magnitude of their win on the national stage, carrying more than $50,000 worth of prizes, is slowing sinking in amid the enhanced planning and provisioning alongside usual farm work and family life.

Fortunately, they do not have to move farm or home for the next three contracted years of their dairying careers, milking 530-550 cows and aiming for more than 200,000kg milksolids next season. . .

Preventing farmer suicides through helplines and farm visits – Allee Mead:

In 2016, dairy farmers Meg Moynihan and her husband lost the buyer for their organic milk. Because she was working for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Organic Program at the time, Moynihan thought it’d be easy to find a new buyer, but “all doors were closed,” she said. “It was the beginning of the milk glut.”

 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2019

Farmer beats depression by finding joy in everyday moments – Heather Chalmers:

Wayne Langford appeared to have his life sorted.  

He was in his early-30s married to wife Tyler and the father of three boys, with a successful farming business and leadership roles

However, something wasn’t right.

To use a farming metaphor his brain had “cooked itself” like a tractor engine.

The big get bigger in American agriculture – Keith Woodford:

Every five years the USDA undertakes a census of American agriculture. The latest survey has just come out in recent weeks. The big message is that the big are getting bigger.

Aligned to this message is that family farms continue to decline. This is particularly the case in dairy. However, it is also the case in cropping, where the new generation of prospective family farmers prefers the urban life, but does not necessarily want to sell the land. So leasing of land is huge, particularly in the cropping heartland of the Midwest.

In total there are over two million American farmers. Seventy-five percent of the production comes from five percent of the farmers. More than half of American farms are cash-flow negative. The average age of American farmers is now 57.5 years, up 1.3 years in the last five years. . . 

Strengths and challenges facing Heartland communities:

AgResearch social scientist, Dr Margaret Brown and Dr Bill Kaye-Blake, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers discuss  the findings from a decade of research into the resilience of rural communities and the role it has in helping settlements to prosper. Around 20 percent of New Zealanders live rurally, but the decisions made about them are predominantly decided by from urban people – so there is a lot of room for a disconnect between the countryside and the policy makers. The results have been published in the book, Heartland Strong – How rural New Zealand can change and thrive. . .

A2 milk keeps flowing and growing:

A2 Milk Company’s sales show no sign of slowing as nine-month revenues reached $938 million, a 42% lift on the corresponding period last year.

Sales growth has continued in nutritional products and liquid milk, building on record market share in the first half of the June 2019 year, the company said in a presentation to a Macquarie Australia investment conference in Singapore.

The nine months runs to March 31. . . 

Young viticulturist shortlisted for international wine award:

Nick Paulin from Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates (AONZ) has been shortlisted for the new international ‘Future 50’ awards.

Launched this year by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) & the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) their goal is to “unearth the industry’s up and coming talent” and recognize fifty top young professionals.

They have teamed up to create “a unique, global platform to champion the young people shaping the future of our industry”. .  .

Forestry investors log in to substantial pine plantation:

A large maturing pine forest on Auckland City’s metropolitan boundary which is ready for harvesting in the near future has been placed on the market for sale.

The 135-hectare block is located at the lower foothills of the Hunua Ranges some 50 kilometres south-east of Auckland City. Owned by the current proprietor for past 50 years, the forest was planted between 1993 and 2000 in a mix of lusitanica and radiata pine varieties.

The freehold land and forest at Stevens Road are now being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Counties, with tenders closing at 2pm on June 6. The forestry plantation encompasses six individual land titles which are all zoned rural under Auckland Council’s land usage plan. . . 


Rural round-up

April 17, 2019

Thriving in a demanding environment :

Andrew and Lynnore Templeton, who own and operate The Rocks Station, near Middlemarch, won the regional supreme title at the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Dunedin.

The awards are run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and the supreme regional winners from each of the 11 districts will be profiled at the awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on June 6.

The Templetons also won the Massey University Innovation Award, which recognises the farmer or grower that demonstrated Kiwi ingenuity for solving a problem or pursuing a new opportunity. . . 

Mid-Canterbury dominates M. bovis cases – Heather Chalmers:

Mid-Canterbury has taken the biggest hit from cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with the district accounting for 41 per cent of all cases. 

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) figures show that 67 of 161 properties confirmed positive with the disease were in the region.

Of these, 23 properties remain contaminated and 44 have been cleared. 

The ministry’s M. bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn told farmers in Ashburton that the region was “carrying a disproportionate share of the burden” in its efforts to eradicate the disease.  . . 

 

Court orders Chinese owner of Wairarapa farm to settle access row before he sells – Andrea Vance:

The Chinese owner of a Wairarapa sheep station wants to sell it to a Kiwi buyer – but that won’t stop an extraordinary dispute over public access, which has now reached the courts.

For more than two years, officials and the Chinese owner of the sprawling $3.3 million Kawakawa Station, at Cape Palliser, have been deadlocked over access to a forest hut and tramping route.

Mediation to resolve the dispute failed late last year and triggered legal action.

Hong-Kong based Eric Chun Yu Wong has decided to sell the station back to an un-named Kiwi buyer. . . 

Kaumatua urges community restraint in Kawakawa dispute:

Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa kaumatua, Sir Kim Workman, has asked the Wairarapa community to withhold its judgement around the Kawakawa Station dispute, following yesterday’s Stuff article by Andrea Vance, ‘Court orders Chinese owner of Wairarapa farm to settle access row before he sells

‘In June 2018, the Walkways Access Commission publicised this issue while the dispute negotiation was still in progress. The impact of WAC’s conduct on Mr Wong and his family was incendiary. Xenophobia emerged in full flight. Mr Wong became a foreign demon who was interfering with the rights of good old Kiwis. It adversely affected their walking tour business, and the then managers were openly referred to as ‘chink-lovers’. They resigned, and the backlash contributed to Mr Wong’s decision to sell the farm.’

This latest publicity has the potential to unleash yet another round of racism and hatred. When that happens, it disrupts the peace of our community, and sets neighbour against neighbour. We must avoid that at all costs. . . 

Demand for cage-free eggs contributes to national egg shortage – Karoline Tuckey:

While a national egg shortage could mean higher prices, it’s unlikely the hot breakfast staple will disappear from supermarket shelves.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said supply problems were causing the shortages nationally.

The number of laying hens nationally has dropped from 4.2 million at the end of last year, to 3.6 million.

“We’re just going to see a lesser amount of eggs, and that will probably translate to some extent to price increases, just because of a shortage of supply,” said Michael Brooks. . . 

People’s role recognised in sustainable journeys:

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards have long been a respected, exciting highlight in the rural calendar, with each year’s award winners doing much to showcase the best this country has to offer in farming talent that recognises and respects the environment they depend upon.

This year the awards have a welcome addition with national realtor Bayleys sponsoring a “People in the Primary Sector” award.

Bayleys national country manager Duncan Ross said the company’s move to sponsor the people category in the awards is a timely one, given the focus within the agri-sector on recruiting, keeping and advancing young talent. . . 

Garlic production property for sale:

The land and buildings housing a trio of commercial businesses – including the processing and distribution plant of New Zealand’s largest garlic grower – have been placed on the market for sale.

The site at Grovetown near Blenheim in Marlborough consists of 1.4350 hectares of freehold triangular-shaped rural zoned land at 377 Vickerman Street.

The site is occupied by three tenancies – Marlborough Garlic Ltd, Kiwi Seed Co (Marlborough) Ltd and Ironside Engineering Ltd. Combined, the three businesses generate an annual rental return of $138,347 +GST. . . 


Rural round-up

February 14, 2019

Irrigation goes high-tech to preserve Christchurch aquifer – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers irrigating just north of Christchurch are using the latest technology to ensure not a drop is wasted.

Preserving water quality is also front of mind as the land they irrigate is geographically linked to an ancient, slow moving aquifer which also supplies domestic drinking water to the city’s residents. 

In the first project of its type in New Zealand, the latest in digital technology has been rolled out to Waimakariri Irrigation’s farmer-shareholders, taking the guesswork out of irrigating.   . . 

Challenge ahead for smaller wineries – Simon Hartley:

A caution has been thrown out to New Zealand’s smaller, domestic market wineries which might be finding it more difficult gaining access to distribution channels.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the industry in New Zealand had grown substantially in recent decades.

“The industry is heavily concentrated in Marlborough, which specialises in sauvignon blanc production”, about three-quarters of the country’s wine production, by value, she said.

The New Zealand winemaking industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion and wine exports have doubled in the past decade to $1.7 billion per year, becoming the country’s sixth largest export by commodity. . . 

New opportunities for agri-food:

Changes being driven by computer scientists in the agri-food sector are providing new opportunities for Kiwi farmers.

The disruption, which is changing what we eat, was the focus of the KPMG farm enterprise specialist Julia Jones’ keynote speech at the Young Farmers Conference.

“There’s a restaurant in Boston with a robotic kitchen,” she said.

Spyce is a world-first and was created by four robotics-obsessed engineers who wanted healthy food at a reasonable price. . . 

Students experience agriculture – Richard Smith:

Kotara Kikuchi, a second-year student at Tono Ryokuho High School, an agricultural school, is on a home stay with three other boys from his school to do farming.

Kikuchi wants to experience agriculture, however, “I want to be a fisherman after graduating from high school”.

Fellow schoolmate Tokiya Ogasawara, 16, hasn’t decided what he wants to be. 

“But there’s nothing outside agriculture that I want to do,” he said. . . 

Agtech is not going to be a road to riches – here’s why – Glen Herud:

Agtech is quite trendy in New Zealand at the moment. But it’s unlikely to be a road to riches for those involved.

I would caution any entrepreneur from developing a tech solution for farmers.

No doubt, technology will change how agriculture is conducted. Just as it is changing all aspects of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you can actually make any money out of developing some fancy technology solution for farmers. . . 

Joint call made to end non-stun slaughter in UK

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have joined forces to call on the government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Both groups say slaughtering without pre-stunning causes ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.

The latest figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first – more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. . . 


Rural round-up

January 22, 2019

No “over the fence” spread of Mycoplasma bovis, says MPI– Heather Chalmers:

The Ministry for Primary Industries says there have been no cases of “over the fence spread” of Mycoplasma bovis, as three more farms are confirmed as infected with the cattle disease.

The three new properties were beef farms in the Far North and South Canterbury and a dairy farm in Otago. The Far North farm was only the second case confirmed in Northland. MPI said the farms were linked to other infected farms and their infection status was not unexpected.

Five previously-infected farms, four in Canterbury and one in Tasman, were declared free of contamination, after being destocked, fallowed and cleaned. . . 

Miners discover gold but few celebrating – Madison Reidy:

A small company wanting to extract gold from a mine on conservation land fears for the future of the industry in the face of red tape, local hostility and official indifference.

New Talisman Gold Mines has spent $1.8 million over 18 months to get the century-old mine in Mount Karangahake near Waihi back in to production.

It has a resource consent to extract 20,000 cubic metres of ore a year for sampling, and it estimates it could produce as much as 51,000 ounces of gold from the mine once it starts full commercial production. . .

North Island stag fetches $155,000 – Sally Rae:

Some “exceptional” sales have been recorded at recent deer sales, including a record price of $155,000 in the North Island.

The 5-year-old trophy stag was described by Carrfields Livestock auctioneer Neville Clark as a “phenomenal” animal.

“Something to behold when you saw him in the pen,” he said. . . 

Why are American farmers killing themselves? – Debbie Weingarten:

It is dark in the workshop, but what light there is streams in patches through the windows. Cobwebs coat the wrenches, the cans of spray paint and the rungs of an old wooden chair where Matt Peters used to sit. A stereo plays country music, left on by the renter who now uses the shop.

“It smells so good in here,” I say. “Like …”

“Men, working,” finishes Ginnie Peters.

We inhale. “Yes.”

Ginnie pauses at the desk where she found her husband Matt’s letter on the night he died. . . 

Huge station bought by Aussie farmers –  Mollie Tracey:

IN a monumental sale, one of the world’s biggest stations and the country’s second largest cattle property has been purchased by Australian beef cattle farmers.

Clifton Hills Station was bought by Viv Oldfield and Donny Costello, of Crown Point Pastoral Company, with the deal being confirmed last month.

Mr Oldfield is well-known in the racing industry as a horse trainer and owns properties in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

He also owns an outback trucking business called Tanami Transport. . . 

Henare bounces back to claim lambswool title:

World champion woohandler Joel Henare got one back on leading rival Pagan Karauria as he won the Southland Shears’ national crossbred lambs woolhandling title at the Winton A and P Show on Saturday.

Now based back in hometown Gisborne, after about two years in Motueka, where he took a break from the woolsheds to work in the fish shed, Henare beat Karauria by just 0.76pts in reversing the result of the previous day’s Northern Southland Community Shears longwool championships at Long Range, near Lumsden. . . 

Two in a row for champion shearer Smith:

Shearing champion Rowland Smith has taken just two days of the New Year to reinforce his claims to the major titles and possibly a second World championship by winning his first two Open finals of 2019 over the weekend.

Smith won the Horowhenua Shears Open final today in Levin, just 24 hours after winning another Open final 340km away in Wairoa. . . 

Wedd lcocks up second open win:

Mobile shearing operator Phil Wedd drew first blood for the Warkworth team as he won the Kaikohe show’s Open final in the first round of the second ANZ Northland Shearing Competition on Saturday.

Wedd was scoring just his second win in a lengthy but sparsely-competed Open-class career which he’s mixed with shearing abroad and testing his form also as a golfer. . . 

Baigent wins Golden Bay title:

Wakefield shearer Travers Baigent scored his second win of the season and the fifth Open class title of his career at the Golden Bay A and P Show at Takaka on Saturday.

Among one of the smallest entries of shearers at shows in the Top of the South region, Baigent still managed to give the public their money’s woth in a three-man final of 20 lambs each, which he shore in 17min 33sec, 40 seconds clear of runner-up Paul Hodges, of Reefton. . . 


Rural round-up

January 12, 2019

The story of genetics and Mt Albert’s forbidden fruit – Farah Hancock:

A controversial new apple created by New Zealand scientists has to be seen to be believed – and has to be eaten offshore. Farah Hancock reports.

The red-fleshed apples developed by Plant and Food Research’s scientist Professor Andrew Allan and his team are so contentious they’re not allowed to eat them in New Zealand.

“In the end we had to take them to America.”

The cores were removed from the apples so no seeds were present. They were triple-bagged and sealed. Phytosanitary certificates were gained to get approval to move the apples from their glasshouse in Auckland’s Mount Albert to the airport, and then on to the United States. Allan and the science team flew the precious cargo to San Francisco where a taste-testing panel of 50 people waited. . . 

Good grass growth but drought on horizon if rain delayed for Taranaki farmers – Mike Watson and Leighton Keith:

Taranaki dairy farmers are keeping an eye out for rain clouds with the summer heat taking a toll on grass cover.

Favourable growing conditions since spring, following a devastating one in 40 year drought last summer, meant many farmers had good supply of feed to prepare an extended dry period.

“The conditions have been good, in fact fantastic, to date but it is starting to get dry now and we will be looking for some rain by the end of the month,” Okato farmer Ray Barron said. . . 

Plant pines, not natives to make money from carbon farming, says consultant – Heather Chalmers:

Landowners planting forests for carbon credits should plant pine trees rather than natives to achieve the best returns, a carbon consultant says.  

Ollie Belton, a partner of Permanent Forests NZ a Christchurch-based carbon consultancy, said that the rate that natives absorb carbon dioxide was much lower than for pinus radiata. 

Sequestration calculations used by the Emissions Trading Scheme for forests under 100 hectares showed that pinus radiata absorbed almost 1000 tonnes of carbon over 25 years, while native forests absorbed less than 300 tonnes.     . . 

Short stature corn on the way from Bayer Cropscience – Gil Gullickson:

Farmers who have waded and stumbled through corn decimated by green snap or stalk lodging may be in luck in a few years. Bayer CropScience is developing what it calls short-stature corn that company officials say will likely debut early next decade. Bayer officials discussed this development and others on a conference call this week with agricultural journalists. 

“Over the next two to three years, we will demonstrate them (short-stature hybrids) to growers and give them a feel and sense of how they will work on their farms,” says Bob Reiter, Bayer CropScience head of research and development. “I think this is a little like what was experienced with the Green Revolution in rice and wheat through Norman Borlaug, which is the foundational shift in how crops are produced and how growers will be able to unlock and enjoy additional productivity value.” . . 

Help for SMEs to accelerate Health & Safety appreciated:

Extra investment in workplace injury prevention, with a focus on small to medium businesses, will pay dividends not only in reducing pain and suffering but also in economic terms, Federated Farmers says.

“We see the announcement by ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway this morning of a $22 million, five-year programme to incentivise SMEs to boost Health & Safety efforts as very useful,” Feds President Katie Milne says. . . 

Te Pa Family Vineyards & Cloudy Bay Clams team up for Marlborough Wine & Food Festival 2019:

Two award-winning, family-owned local Marlborough producers, te Pa Family Vineyards and Cloudy Bay Clams, are teaming up for the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival for 2019 and the companies are celebrating their collaboration with a series of exciting events, competitions and food pairings.

The two flourishing Marlborough companies, will be selling award-winning wine and sustainably harvested clams, marking their collaboration at the much-loved festival, which attracts around 8000 guests each year. Attendees can expect to see beautiful fresh clams on the half shell, paired with lively and expressive Marlborough te Pa Sauvignon Blanc, and crispy and decadent fried popcorn clams served with light and effervescent Pa Road Sparkling Rosé. . . 


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