Rural round-up

August 23, 2018

Calf rearer changes tactics after Mycoplasma bovis battle – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers who believe they can live with Mycoplasma bovis need to think again, say a Southland couple who are finally clear after eight months battling the bacterial cattle disease. 

Lumsden couple Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft are now “gun-shy” of returning to their calf rearing business, knowing the risks involved. 

They had bought 1600 calves to rear last spring before being “clobbered” with M. bovis. Their farm was confirmed clear of infection by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in early August.  . . 

New research into animals that give off less nitrogen:

New research may hold the key to lowering our emissions, by breeding animals that naturally excrete less nitrogen.

Utilising the genes of animals that produce less nitrogen could provide farmers with a breakthrough in managing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

Two research projects are currently looking to see if there’s a link between the nitrogen content of milk and animal emissions and whether it’s possible to identify and then replicate genes in animals that might control how much nitrogen an animal gives off. . . 

A2 Milk shares rise 4.4% as company doubles down on US, Asia – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk’s shares rose 4.4 percent following the milk marketer’s annual results this morning, but are still well off record highs seen earlier this year.

The company more than doubled net profit to $195.7 million in the June 2018 year, as it widened margins and increased infant formula sales. Revenue rose 68 percent to $922.7 million and earnings before interest, tax, deprecation and amortisation also more than doubled to $283 million. A2 already gave that revenue figure last month, just beating its $900 million-to-$920 million forecast from May, and at the time said ebitda was about 30 percent of sales, implying a figure around $277 million. . .

Milking it: I spent a day on the farm and my nose may never recover – Anuja Nadkarni:

NZ is known for its dairy products, and is home to one of the biggest dairy companies in the world. In this Stuff special investigation, we examine how the price of milk is set and explore the industry behind our liquid asset.

I milked two cows last week.

A bog standard Auckland millennial, milked two cows in my jeans, puffer and rubber boots on a dairy farm.

Being the typical city slicker I am, for a moment I arrogantly thought to myself, “yeah, I could do this”.

Could I though? . . 

Sheepmeat and beef levies to increase:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Board has decided to proceed with the proposed increase in the sheepmeat and beef levies following significant support from farmers.

From 1 October 2018 the levy for sheepmeat will increase 10 cents to 70 cents per head and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head. This is 0.4 per cent of the average slaughter value for prime steer/heifer, 0.7 per cent cull dairy cow, 0.7 per cent of lamb, and 1.1 per cent of mutton over the last three years.

The additional levies will be invested in accelerating four key programmes: the international activation of the Taste Pure Nature origin brand and the Red Meat Story, helping the sector lift its environmental performance and reputation, telling the farmer story better, and strengthening B+LNZ’s capability to address biosecurity risks. . .

Comvita hones focus on biggest growth drivers as it seeks to bolster profits – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer and marketer of honey and bee-related products, is reducing its risk and positioning itself for future growth by honing in on where it can get the most bang for its buck.

The company’s shares are the worst performer on the benchmark index this year after earnings were hurt by two consecutive years of poor honey harvests. Its honey supply business lost $6.2 million in operating profit in its 2018 financial year and $6.6 million in the 2017 year. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at what the future might hold for Lincoln University, and how consumer perceptions might change feedlot operations – Guy Trafford:

Lincoln University staff were called to a briefing on Tuesday this week from Chancellor Steve Smith and Acting Vice Chancellor Professor James McWha on what the future holds for the University.

For several years rumours and stories have been doing the rounds regarding Lincoln not helped by the issues surrounding the recently appointed and then moved-on Vice Chancellors.

The crux of the announcement revolved around the fact that Lincoln had signed a memorandum of understanding with University of Canterbury to form a joint future together. Considerable effort was spent reassuring staff that, whatever the future holds, Lincoln will retain its brand and culture and its autonomy to operate its multidiscipline programmes with their land-based programmes. . . 

Farmers protest California water plan aimed to save salmon :

Hundreds of California farmers rallied at the Capitol on Monday to protest state water officials’ proposal to increase water flows in a major California river, a move state and federal politicians called an overreach of power that would mean less water for farms in the Central Valley.

“If they vote to take our water, this does not end there,” said Republican state Sen. Anthony Cannella. “We will be in court for 100 years.”

Environmentalists and fishermen offered a different take on the other side of the Capitol to a much smaller audience. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 13, 2018

Synlait Milk’s $2b man John Penno only wanted to be a farmer – Heather Chalmers:

John Penno says he only wanted to be a farmer; instead he set up a major export dairy company.   

On August 10, the Synlait Milk managing director officially stepped down after turning a bare paddock near Dunsandel in Central Canterbury into a multi-product company now worth $2 billion.

With a second $260 million nutritional powder manufacturing site at Pokeno, in north Waikato, set to start processing next year for the 2019-20 season, the company had much more growth to come, he said.   . . 

Lake Opuha holds out for last minute winter snow – Pat Deavoll:

It’s not just the ski fields looking for a late-season top-up of snow.

Opuha Water chief executive Andrew Mockford is hoping “mother nature will finish the winter with a flourish” and provide the much-needed snow to melt and fill irrigation reservoir Lake Opuha in South Canterbury.

There was less snow than usual this year and it was higher up the mountain, he said. . . 

 

Red meat sector confident despite some head winds – Allan Barber:

Since I attended the 2016 conference, having missed last year’s, several things have changed considerably: two years ago Donald Trump wasn’t President, Silver Fern Farms hadn’t concluded its capital raising with a Chinese investor, alternative proteins and non-meat burgers weren’t on the industry’s radar and there was little recognition of the need for a Red Meat Story.

This year the conference programme acknowledged these changes by focusing on disruption to global trade, the China influence, heightened consumer expectations, the effects of the digital revolution and the importance of building consumer trust by telling our story about product provenance, traceability and environmental credibility. The conference was very well attended by farmers, processors and service providers, all of whom were optimistic about meeting the challenges ahead of an industry which has faced many different threats to its survival in the past 140 years. . . 

Unyielding weather for European fruit and vegetable growers, how is the heat impacting crops?

Wrinkled tomato skins, curly cucumbers and small plums – these are some of the effects of drought on fruit and vegetables in Northern Europe. Exactly how great is the impact of heat and water shortages on crops, yields and growers in the region?

Hot and dry weather affects field crop farming the most, says Cindy van Rijswick, RaboResearch Fruit and Vegetable Analyst. “Yields are lower, but fruits and vegetables are also smaller in size and sometimes have quality issues. Because of the high temperatures or lack of water, growers have smaller plums, wrinkled tomatoes, and more misshapen cucumbers. In the coming months, the harvest of apples, pears and potatoes may potentially be smaller in size and yield too.” . . 

Agribusiness professional wins Future Leader role:

As a full-time rural valuer and part-time farmer George Macmillan has insights into many aspects of the agricultural industry.

Based in the Hawkes Bay, he lives close to his family’s 380ha sheep and beef farm south west of Hastings and has recently taken over the lease of a 50ha block. As a foot in the door towards land ownership, he will use the block to grow out the dairy cross beef calves he rears every year to heavier weights and will possibly finish a small number.

George, along with Northland farmer Mack Talbot Lynn, has been appointed a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Future Leader and will represent New Zealand at the International Beef Alliance conference in Canada in September. . .

For farmers, traumas tariffs are far worse than any bad trade deal – Bart Ruth:

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to open new markets to trade, rein in regulatory overreach, cut government spending, and rebuild infrastructure and communication networks to enable rural America to compete in the global economy.

While there have been some positive changes under President Trump – when it comes to American agriculture, we are headed toward economic disaster.

As a sixth-generation farmer and a lifelong Republican, I am alarmed over the impacts that the administration’s actions are having on the agriculture economy and rural America. President Trump has shown a blatant disregard for international institutions, sound science, proven economic theory, and the history of protectionist policy. . .


Rural round-up

August 7, 2018

Wool gets revived as tide turns on synthetics’ pollution of the seas – Heather Chalmers:

A new wave of socially and environmentally-conscious consumers are turning to natural fibres for their clothing and homes, rejecting polluting synthetics and plastics.  

New Zealand wool companies are already tapping into this trend, promoting wool as a natural, biodegradable and renewable replacement.

But while momentum is growing, returns remain stubbornly low for the coarser end of New Zealand wool clip.   

While shoppers may think they have done their bit for the environment by ditching plastic bags, they are being advised to look at what they are wearing and how their house is carpeted, furnished and insulated.  . . 

 Wrightson shares jump 9.4% on plans to sell seeds unit for $439M; may distribute cash – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Shares in PGG Wrightson jumped as much as 9.4 percent after the country’s largest rural services business said it had agreed to sell its seed and grain business to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds for $421 million in cash and $18 of debt repayment, and signalled it may return up to $292 million to its shareholders.

The sale is above the $285 million book value of the seeds business and follows several expressions of interest received from international parties as part of a strategic review underway with Credit Suisse (Australia) and First NZ Capital. The Christchurch-based company expects to have a net cash balance of about $270 million following the sale and could distribute as much as $292 million to shareholders. . . 

A2 doubles stake in Synlait at 23% discount – Sophie Boot:

A2 Milk will buy another 8.2 percent of Synlait Milk, doubling its stake in the company.

The milk marketing firm will buy the shares at $10.90 apiece, down 2.3 percent from the NZX one month volume weighted average price of $11.16, for a total of $161.8 million. The shares will come from Tokyo-listed Mitsui & Co, a general trading company which invests across sectors and bought 8.4 percent of Synlait at the company’s initial public offering in 2013. . .

 

New Zealand red meat sector strongly opposes European Union and United Kingdom’s WTO quota proposal;

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association strongly oppose the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom’s (UK) proposal to ‘split’ the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tariff Rate Quotas between them.

The UK and EU have officially notified the WTO of their draft tariff schedules, which propose to split tariff rate quotas that allow access for New Zealand sheepmeat and beef exports. . .

Trade outlook still bright, but not without challenges – Allan Barber:

Vangelis Vitalis, Deputy Secretary for trade at MFAT and chief negotiator for the CPTPP due to take effect early next year, gave a very thorough and enthralling presentation on the trade landscape to the Red Meat Sector Conference in Napier on Monday.

Free trade and market access are a key area of interest to the New Zealand meat industry and the economy as a whole. Vitalis stated that three assumptions underpin New Zealand’s international trade negotiations: . . 

MPI sets the record straight with Forest & Bird:

Ministry For Primary Industries 2 August 2018 MPI is disappointed that Forest and Bird thinks it necessary to make inaccurate claims about combined efforts to prevent the spread of Kauri dieback.

Forest and Bird has advised MPI that it is closing off its reserves with wild kauri as a further measure to prevent the spread of kauri dieback, says Roger Smith, Head of Biosecurity New Zealand (a part of MPI). “We welcome all efforts to protect our kauri and have been working in partnership with a wide range of organisations to support their local efforts. . .

Tour leader found with fruit fly:

Fruit fly larvae carried by a tour party leader could have devastated New Zealand’s horticulture industry, says Biosecurity New Zealand.

Biosecurity officers intercepted the larvae last month in undeclared food with a holiday group from Malaysia at Auckland Airport, says Biosecurity New Zealand Passenger Manager, Craig Hughes.

The larvae was found in chillies following x-ray screening of the tour leader’s baggage. A caterpillar was also detected in some garlic bulbs carried with the undeclared food. . .

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q3 2018: Status Quo Under Pressure in US Route-to-Market

The US has emerged as the largest wine market in the world, and by most measures, the most profitable and attractive. While wineries – both foreign and domestic – recognise the profit potential of the market, it is also widely seen as an exceptionally-difficult market to penetrate (particularly for small wineries), according to the latest RaboResearch Wine Quarterly report.

Route to the US consumer

Major changes are occurring today in how wine reaches the US consumer. “Changes in technology, business models and market structure are disrupting the global wine market and creating new sets of winners and losers among wholesalers, retailers and suppliers,” according to Stephen Rannekleiv, RaboResearch Global Strategist – Beverages. “Responding quickly to these changes will determine who survives, who thrives, and who fades away.” . .

Boy, 10, raises $60,000 in ‘Fiver for a farmer’ campaign – Shelley Ferguson:

More than $60,000 has been raised for drought-stricken farmers through a campaign started by children at a Sydney school last week.

Jack Berne, a grade four student at St John the Baptist Catholic School in Freshwater, was the instigator of “a fiver for a farmer”, and was inspired to help after learning about the struggles of those on the land in class.

Last week, Jack wrote a letter to media outlets as he tried to generate support for the cause after telling his mum that their teacher always tells them, “we can use our small and mighty voices” ..  . 


Rural round-up

August 2, 2018

Farmers seek off-farm income to counter rising costs – Heather Chalmers:

A farming leader says it is no surprise that farms are increasingly reliant on off-farm income.  

A Lincoln University survey has shown just over a quarter of farms obtained 30 per cent or more of their income from off-farm sources.

Farmers were struggling to keep up with the mainly inflation-caused price squeeze, the survey found. But the authors said some families found the rural lifestyle compensated for tight finances. . .

Dairy farm effluent compliance in Tasman District coming up roses – Cherie Sivignon:

Tasman district deputy mayor Tim King says the result of the 2017-18 dairy farm effluent compliance survey is a “good story all round”.

It revealed 90 of the 96 farms inspected were fully compliant for effluent management. The other six, graded non-compliant, comprised five with minor ponding and one that failed to adhere to setback rules.

In a report on the matter, council compliance and investigation officer Kat Bunting says all six instances of non-compliance were considered a minor breach of the rules that resulted in “no adverse environmental effect”.

Formal written warnings with directions for improvements were sent to those six farms and return visits found full and continued compliance. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the deck chairs:

Dairy price recovery in 2017 has positively affected the combined turnover of the top 20 global dairy companies, which, in 2017, was up 7.2% on the year in US dollar terms and 5.1% in euro terms, according to RaboResearch’s latest Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the Deck Chairs report.

“For the second consecutive year, there were no new entrants to the Dairy Top 20 list, with the USD 5bn threshold difficult to achieve due to a scarcity of large acquisitions or mergers.” says Peter Paul Coppes, Senior Analyst – Dairy. “However, while the names have remained the same, the order shifted in 2017.” . . 

UK’s Daily Mail urges Theresa May to listen to Kiwi trade expert– Point of Order:

Brits who may be despairing at the lack of progress on Brexit, as Britain’s political class trade blows and the process becomes bogged down in politicking, have been told “there is a small corner of a government department that they can turn to for cheer”.

This is the office of New Zealand’s Crawford Falconer, Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser at the Department of International Trade, described by the Daily Mail as

“… a man of immense experience in such matters. And, in contrast to the doomsayers, his message about Brexit is one of almost unbounded optimism.”

 The article goes on to say: . .

Comvita touted as potential bidder for Manuka Health company – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the NZX-listed manuka honey company, declined to comment on whether it is interested in making a bid for honey company Manuka Health New Zealand which has reportedly been put up for sale by its Australian owner Pacific Equity Partners.

The Australian newspaper suggested Comvita or its largest shareholder China Resources Ng Fung as possible buyers of Manuka Health, which was put on the market about six weeks ago for more than A$200 million by PEP and advisers Luminis Partners. Manuka Health was reportedly sold to the Australian private equity firm in 2015 for $110 million. . .

 

Inter-club challenge still going strong:

The last hurrah for the Canterbury dog trial season, the annual Inter-Club Challenge, was held at Waihi Station, home to the Geraldine Collie Club, on July 1.

The day turned from a ”rugged-up” winter’s morning to a balmy northwest afternoon.

The Canterbury Centre is one of the largest centres in New Zealand,comprising 18 club trials stretching from Cheviot in the north to Mackenzie in the east and Levels (Timaru area) in the south, encompassing all areas in between.

In its 25th year of competition, the trial attracted a strong gallery of spectators and team supporters from throughout the province, testament to the strength and popularity of the sport. . .

Strong interest expected with vacant governance roles on Ballance board:

 A “genuine and rare governance opportunity” has opened up with one of New Zealand’s industry-leading rural co-operatives with Ballance Agri-Nutrients announcing that two farmer-elected directors will be stepping down from its Board this year.

Ballance shareholders are currently being notified of the vacancies created by the decisions of Gray Baldwin not to seek re-election, and Donna Smit who is standing down in the North Island Ward (N). Murray Taggart is retiring by rotation (as required under the Co-operative’s Constitution) and seeking re-election in the South Island Ward (S). . .

MyFarm launches $17.6m Hop Garden investment

MyFarm has launched a $17.64 million investment into what will become New Zealand’s largest hop garden.

The opportunity to invest in Tapawera Hop Garden Limited Partnership includes the purchase of a 96-hectare property and the lease of a second 50-hectare property which will be developed into a 116 canopy (effective) hectare garden. Half of the garden will be planted this spring alongside other development such as building hop picking and drying facilities and worker accommodation. . . 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2018

‘We’d better off if we had it’ – Sally Rae:

Southland farmer John Young reckons he would be in a better position if his cattle had Mycoplasma bovis.

With a contract for 1000 calves cancelled by Ngai Tahu Farming, he described himself as a ”by-product” of the disease saying there was no recognition for those in similar situations.

Left short of feed and likely to take a massive financial hit, he was perplexed by the iwi’s motivation as he felt he had done everything to mitigate any concerns.

”We’d be better off if we had it. We would know where we’re at [and could] set a plan and work around it. It would be acknowledged we had it, we’d be compensated. The way we are at the moment, we don’t know where we stand,” he said. . . 

Farmer provides positive advice on coping – Sally Rae:

Argentinian-born Leo Bensegues came to New Zealand with only $700 and the desire for a good life.

Fast forward 16 and a-half years and he has a wife, Maite, and a family and his own business, sharemilking at Morven in the Waimate district.

Last August, that good life was interrupted by confirmation there was Mycoplasma bovis in the couple’s herd.

Their 950 cows and 222 young stock were one of the first herds to be culled, although they had 200 heifers which had not been affected by the disease.

Yesterday, Mr Bensegues declined to talk about how he felt seeing those animals dispatched to slaughter, saying that was ”in the past” and they had to focus on the future.

They were starting over again and he had a message for other farmers affected by this week’s announcement of a massive cull of animals in a bid to eradicate the disease.

They had to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries, rather than against it, and they had to stay positive. . . 

‘Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on  milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . .

 Business case for cattle disease plan kept secret from public – Andrea Fox:

The cost-benefit analysis behind the $886 million government-agriculture sector decision to try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is being kept secret from taxpayers picking up most of the bill.

A Herald request to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis is being treated by MPI as an Official Information Act request, which normally means waiting nearly a month for a response, with no guarantee of full disclosure.

When the Herald tried to clarify that the cost-benefit analysis was not being made public, and if so, who had access to it, the response from an MPI spokesman was: “This has been part of the decision-making process so the decision makers have had access to this information.” . .

Live deer capture: ‘a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive’, says pioneer– Heather Chalmers:

Recalling the pioneering live deer capture days, veterans like Bryan Bassett-Smith get a gleam in their eyes.

In the 1970s the emphasis changed from killing deer as a feral pest to wanting to capture and keep deer alive for a fledging farming industry. Deer farming made live recovery more profitable than hunting; there were fortunes to be made and adventures to have.

These were the days before clipboards, hi-vis vests and health and safety regulations.

Bassett-Smith didn’t fly helicopters himself. “I was a guy that jumped out and used the tranquilliser gun.

READ MORE: Deer farmer recalls days of live capture derring-do

“It was a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive” he says, referring to the casualties and fatalities from helicopter crashes. “Sadly, there were a few too many funerals,” he told deer industry conference delegates during a visit to Mesopotamia Station in the South Canterbury high country, a property actively involved in live deer recovery. . . 

Distribution deal for Mastatest– Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based veterinary diagnostics company Mastaplex has secured a national distribution partnership with AgriHealth for its bovine mastitis diagnostic products.

Company founder and inventor Olaf Bork said Mastatest  was an on-farm or veterinary clinic-based bovine mastitis test which generated results within 24 hours, enabling dairy farmers to select specific antibiotic treatments recommended by their veterinarian once target bacteria had been identified.

The early  growth-stage company, which is based at the University of Otago’s Centre for Innovation, was also negotiating with a European distributor and  seeking an alliance in the United States, he said. . . 

Rural health must be integral in health services review:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network today welcomed an announcement of a comprehensive review of health services in New Zealand.

The NZRGPN is the national network representing the staff of rural medical practices across New Zealand.

“A comprehensive review of the delivery of health and disability services is timely,” said NZRGPN Chief Executive Dalton Kelly. “This review must be comprehensive and wide-ranging, taking into account the full range of communities and health service providers across New Zealand. . .

Tough year hits Anzco profits – Alan Williams:

A difficult year in beef procurement and processing caused a big fall in profit for Anzco Foods.

Intense competition for stock and uneven livestock flows increased costs while consumer market prices were just steady, chief executive Peter Conley said.

Anzco’s pre-tax profit fell to just $1.8 million in the year ended December 31, from $17m a year earlier. Because the group’s international trade offices are required to pay tax in the countries they’re based in, overall group tax took up $1.7m of the earnings, leaving an after-tax operating profit of $100,000, down from $12m previously. . . 

How a routine day on the farm turned into a pig’s dinner – Joyce Wyllie:

Sometimes routine jobs on a routine day take a less routine turn.

With Jock away at dog trials, I walked to the kennels one evening to run and feed the remainder of his team left at home.

It’s a familiar routine of letting energetic dogs off for enthusiastic exercise, feeding pellets to pigs and shutting the team up with their tea.

It was drizzling as I opened the doors and let animated animals race off for time out and toilet. Pushing the feed shed door open to get pig tucker revealed a four-legged super surprise. . . 

Hounding the horehound weed:

Two moths may be imported to combat the horehound weed, which a recent survey estimates to cost New Zealand dryland farmers almost $7 million per year.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application from a collective of affected farmers – the Horehound Biocontrol Group – to introduce the horehound plume moth and horehound clearwing moth to attack this invasive weed, and is calling for public submissions. The application is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ sustainable farming fund. . .


Rural round-up

May 19, 2018

Blame Fish & Game for why I didn’t buy a fishing licence – Jamie McFadden:

Last year I didn’t buy a fishing licence – the first time in over 30 years of fishing. When asked by two Fish & Game rangers for my fishing licence I said I had an exemption. I gave them a written document which outlined a number of reasons why I was exempted.

The first reason was “inappropriate use of licence holder funds “. The exemption noted that Fish & Game have used licence holder monies to run a nationwide media campaign targeting one sector of our society. I have no issue with raising issues about water quality but Fish & Games ‘dirty dairy’ campaign deliberately and unfairly branding all farmers as environmental vandals has done a huge amount of damage to community wellbeing. Farmers are not the only ones impacting water quality and targeting one sector in this manner is inappropriate conduct for a statutory organisation. . .

Town encroaches on 150-year farmers – Heather Chalmers:

 For 150 years the Morrish name and arable farming has been a winning combination, writes Heather Chalmers.

Having farmed the same land near Christchurch for more than 150 years, the Morrish family say encroachment from the nearby town of Rolleston will most likely spell the end of their ties with the original family farm.

Farming at Broadfield, between Lincoln and Rolleston, fourth generation brothers David and John not only farm the same land, but continue the same type of farming – mixed sheep and cropping – as their ancestors, even if the type of crops and farming methods have changed over the years.

They also believe in long-term farming relationships, having supplied the nearby Heinz-Wattie’s factory with processed peas since the Hornby factory on the outskirts of Christchurch was opened in 1970. . .

Pittance for MPI, biosecurity halved:

For a Government that has been running around telling anyone who will listen that Biosecurity is underfunded, it has allocated an extraordinarily small sum to strengthen the system, National’s spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced a paltry increase of just $9.3 million for Biosecurity which is half of what National invested in Budget17 at $18.4 million.

“This is a 50 percent reduction and makes a mockery of the Government’s recent rhetoric. . . .

Grass-fed beef the most vegan friendly in the supermarket – Drew French:

Probably the most vegan item you can buy in the supermarket is a pound of grass-fed beef.

I was thinking about that heretical idea as I drove through my neighboring countryside, scanning empty cornfields for signs of life and wondering at the hubris of mankind. When did we decide that we can own all the lands of the Earth and use every square inch of it for our own needs? About 10,000 years ago, actually, when we invented the idea of agriculture.

Sadly, in the practice of agriculture it is impossible to not cause endless suffering to many living creatures. One could argue that the most suffering of all is caused by annual agriculture, the cultivation of vegetables, including grains, beans, and rice, that only take one year to grow from seed to food. . .

Farmers told to change mind-set when UK leaves EU :

George Eustice, the Defra Minister of State for Agriculture described his vision for post-Brexit agricultural policy at a recent event in Cornwall.

The event attracted more than 70 people to Healey’s Cyder Farm, near Truro on Friday 11 May.

Mr Eustice stated that he saw new policy as “rewarding and incentivising farmers for what they do, and not subsidising them for income lost.”

He told the audience: “The end state we seek is support, not based on the amount of land that they own, but to reward them for helping the environment, water quality and to changes in husbandry to deliver for the environment and research and development into more productive working practices.” . .

Bee-ing grateful to our pollinators :

It’s a bee!” someone screams as they jump up from their picnic blanket, knocking over their apple juice and flailing their arms, trying to get away from this flying creature. Does this scene sound familiar?

Many people are afraid of bees. And why not? They look like aliens. They have stingers that hurt more than you would expect and some people are very allergic, even deathly allergic, to them. But contrary to our fears, bees are not aggressive insects and do not go after humans unprovoked. When they come near you, it is only because you have something they consider yummy. And if you knew all that they do for you, you would be happy to share your food or drink with them . . 


Rural round-up

April 30, 2018

NZ scientists’ anti-cow burp vaccine – Eloise Gibson:

Livestock has directly caused about a quarter of industrial-age warming. Scientists in New Zealand are working on an anti-burp vaccine for those methane-emitting cows. Eloise Gibson reports. 

In a cream-colored metal barn a few minutes’ drive from Palmerston North a black-and-white dairy cow stands in what looks like an oversize fish tank. Through the transparent Plexiglas walls, she can see three other cows in adjacent identical cubicles munching their food in companionable silence. Tubes sprout from the tops of the boxes, exchanging fresh air for the stale stuff inside. The cows, their owners say, could help slow climate change.

Livestock has directly caused about one-quarter of Earth’s warming in the industrial age, and scientists from the US departments of agriculture and energy say bigger, more resource-heavy cattle are accelerating the problem. Contrary to popular belief, cows contribute to global warming mostly through their burps, not their flatulence. So about a dozen scientists here at AgResearch Grasslands, a government-owned facility, are trying to develop a vaccine to stop those burps. “This is not a standard vaccine,” says Peter Janssen, the anti-burp program’s principal research scientist. “It’s proving to be an elusive little genie to get out of the bottle.” . . 

Local choppers can be the difference between life and death:

Saving lives is more important than saving dollars, and that should be reflected in decisions about the nation’s rescue helicopter services, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

6Existing Te Anau, Taupo/Rotorua and Coromandel rescue chopper services were missing from a list of bases proposed under new, larger area contracts put out by the National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO).  Late on Tuesday came news that the Central Plateau could put in their own tender, but it would have to meet the new specifications to be successful.

Rescue helicopters are generally funded 50 per cent by government and 50 per cent by the community through sponsorship and donations.  NASO says the current model is financially unsustainable long-term, and wants all rescue choppers to be twin-engined. . . 

Chilled meat trial proves successful – Neal Wallace:

The meat industry is optimistic the success of trial shipments of chilled beef and sheep meat to China will be extended to other plants.

About 800 tonnes of beef and 400 tonnes of sheep meat were shipped to China from 10 approved plants from June to December, which Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said went well.

“I am not aware of any impediment to suggest it shouldn’t be broadened.” . . 

Dairy farmers key to new food revolution – Gerald Piddock:

City-based future food systems such as cultured meat and vertical farming will rely heavily on the nutrient and water management expertise of dairy farmers, Australian science writer Julian Cribb says.

Food production that took in the emerging innovations would shift to the cities, Cribb said.

For the new systems to succeed, all of the freshwater and wasted nutrients dumped into the ocean via urban sewage and wastewater would have be captured and used in the new food production.

This was where dairy industry expertise would be critical, he said. . .

Christchurch city schoolboy already farming own flock of sheep – Heather Chalmers:

Growing up in a city all his life hasn’t stopped Angus Grant from becoming a farmer, even before he has left high school.

Grant, 15, already has a flock of 50 ewes that he will lamb this spring.

From the Christchurch suburb of Papanui and despite having no family farming background, Grant has always known he wanted to be a farmer. “My mother had been reading me a book about cows and my first word was cow.

“I watched Country Calendar when I was three and that was it.” . .

Farm Babe: no livestock aren’t destroying the planet – Michelle Miller:

The rumours are swirling, but how truthful are they? We’ve heard time and time again from people who say, “Go vegan, save the planet!” But let’s investigate those claims, shall we? First off, livestock don’t only give us meat. What many people may not be aware of is there are actually 185 uses for a pig, from cement to renewable energy, paint to brushes, and life-saving pharmaceuticals. If you haven’t yet seen this TED talk from Christien Meindertsma, check it out! There is lots of fascinating info there. There are also these byproducts that come from cattle. . 


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