Rural round-up

October 13, 2017

Irrigation: what politicians need to know – Sam Robinson:

These are my reflections on irrigation projects, including the retention of Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd, for the policymakers and politicians who are going to be running the country for the next three years. The intention is to balance the multiple one-liners, 10-second soundbites and vitriolic comments that sprang out of the water debate during the election.

Ø Food is New Zealand’s largest export by value. Growing food depends on water. Irrigation allows water to be applied at precisely the right time to optimise quality food production.

Ø There is a strong correlation between irrigation and regional economic development . . 

Wool fights back in global campaign to combat synthetics – Gerard Hutching:

One of Europe’s leading carpet makers is preparing to launch a campaign promoting the virtues of New Zealand wool.

Dutch company Best Wool Carpets wants to fight back against the dominance of synthetic products which dominate the global carpet market with a whopping 96 per cent share.

It aims to counter some of the falsehoods propagated by the synthetic industry, such as that wool carpet fades in UV light. . . 

Farm looks like a duck pond – Alexa Cook:

A Bay of Plenty farmer says this has been the toughest year of farming in his 35 years on the land.

Kevin Clark is a dairy farmer on the banks of the Waimana River near Whakatane, and lost large chunks of land, fences, and farm races when the river burst its banks earlier this year during Cyclones Debbie and Cook.

The family’s farms on both sides of the river were left with thick layers of silt and debris, and dairy cows had to be culled or sent away for grazing. . . 

Lincoln brings New Zealand’s national park legacy to China:

A major exhibition on the development of New Zealand’s National Parks has just opened in Beijing.

Produced by Lincoln University, the exhibition showcases New Zealand’s protected areas and encompasses a range of exhibits, including a three-metre tall giant moa skeleton, outdoor equipment, signs, books, and historic documents.

The project is part of Lincoln’s five-year collaboration with leading Chinese Universities and links with the Chinese Government’s push to establish a national agency to manage its protected areas. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Matt Wyeth – Claire Inkson:

Proud to Be a Farmer NZ Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer Five Quick Questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them.
Today we talk to Kaituna Valley Proud farmer Matt Wyeth.

1. How long have you been farming?

The best thing I knew right from a young age was I wanted to be a farmer. So it was easy to leave school and follow my dreams – Shepherding, Lincoln University, shearing, rearing calves, farm management, share farming, ownership, now 17 years of living the dream. . .

 

2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries open soon:

With just over a week to go until entries open in the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional competitions are ready to host launch events.

General Manager Chris Keeping says the launch events provide an opportunity to find out more information about the Awards and which category they are eligible to enter.

Entries in the New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year categories will be accepted online at –

www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz from Friday 20 October. . . 

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Rural round-up

October 12, 2017

Better communication will bridge rural urban divide – Hayden Dillon:

The farming community needs to step up to help lessen the rift between city and country.

I believe the debates during the course of the recent election campaign oversimplified some issues that are core to the agri sector, such as water and soil quality. These have created divisions that are not helping New Zealand move forward.

As with many complex issues, the rush to simplify the discussions and debate has seen farming, in particular dairying, blamed for many of our environmental problems.

That’s simply not correct. . .

Appreciate world’s best office :

Stopping to appreciate the small things in life really helps people handle the big stuff. 

That was one of the messages coming through loud and clear from farmers involved in rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong, project leader Gerard Vaughan said.

Over the last two years Vaughan and video maker Nigel Beckford have been busy interviewing Kiwi farmers about what they do to keep well and avoid burnout.

They’ve been sharing the best tips and advice in short video clips on the Farmstrong website – http://www.farmstrong.co.nz. . . 

It’s not smart to tough it out on your own:

It’s Mental Health Week and the theme is “Nature is Key – Unlock Your Wellbeing”.

The idea is to escaping stressful or ‘same old rut’ work and home environments to eat your lunch in a park or at the beach, to take the family for a weekend bush walk, etc.  It can lift spirits, put you back in touch with Nature, and get you thinking about your health, your priorities – and whether you may need to reach out for help or advice.

Federated Farmers President Katie Milne welcomes the focus on mental health and talking through issues and feelings with others.  “Our great outdoors can also be a wonderful tonic.”

But for rural folk, Mother Nature can also be a source of considerable stress.  Storms, floods, ailing livestock, droughts, etc., can ratchet up financial woes, relationship strains and the feeling ‘it’s all too much’.. . .

Mental health support needed for farmers – Alexa Cook:

A Waikato farmer is pushing for the government to provide better mental health support for the rural sector.

Research shows that the suicide rate in New Zealand’s rural sector is up to 50 percent higher than in urban areas.

Dairy farmer Richard Cookson has had his own struggle with mental health, and said while there is good crisis support for farmers, such as the Rural Support Trust, there isn’t enough for depression.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Mr Cookson said a good start would be free counselling to get farmers in the door, but the sector also needs quite specific help. . . 

Media accepts pseudoscience drivel unchallenged – Doug Edmeades:

 Damn it all. Someone is not listening and I am now forced to repeat myself. My last column ended thus:

“Without an independent principled fourth estate we may be drifting away from being a society in which our policies are based on evidence, rational thought and logic analysis and which encourages and embraces criticism. If we are not careful we could drift back to a time when humans believed in alchemy, witches and taniwha”.

In this last week, as if on cue, three media outlets coughed up three items of demonstrable drivel.

Exhibit 1: The NZ Farmers Weekly (October 2) gave their opinion page to Phyllis Tichinin in an article headlined, Urea cascade cause of problems. She attributes many animal health, soil and environmental problems to the overuse of urea. Opinion yes, evidence no. Her whole thesis fails the logical test of cause and effect. How can one thing – in this case urea – have so many unrelated effects? As one qualified reader expressed it to me: “I struggle to find one fact or one statement that isn’t a falsehood.” . . .

Is this synthetic food thing for real? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Synthetic food is being talked about rather more than it is being eaten.

The balance might change in future as the technologies develop, but at the moment there is more hype and interest than hunger and intake.

The Impossible Burger seems to be the focus at the moment. The burger is made in the laboratory from wheat (grown in a field) and involves a ‘haem’ from legumes. The haem is pink (it is responsible for the colour in healthy, nitrogen-fixing clover root nodules) and so confers the burger with ‘bleeding’ properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Doug Avery – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Marlborough Proud Farmer Doug Avery whose Resilient Farmer platform aims to deliver powerful support to New Zealand farmers across the three pillars — financial, environmental and social. Through road shows and ongoing mentoring, he helps farmers to adopt new thinking and practices. Check out his best selling book The Resilient Farmer, and his website http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz for more information .
How long have I been farming?

46 years but I am only involved in the directorship of the business now and financial control.
What sort of farming are you involved in?
We grow wool, meat, crops , dairy support and people. . .

Fieldays growth underlines primary sector importance:

The importance of the primary sector to the New Zealand economy is emphasised today by Fieldays’ 2017 Economic Impact Report.

A report prepared by the University of Waikato Management School’s Institute of Business Research, reveals that the biggest agricultural expo in the southern hemisphere, generated an estimated $238 million to New Zealand’s GDP, an increase of 24.7 per cent when compared to 2016.

Federated Farmers’ Board member Chris Lewis is particularly familiar with Fieldays and regards the event as a key indicator to how the country is faring. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 11, 2017

Fall in farm worker deaths ‘encouraging’ – Alexa Cook:

The number of deaths and serious injuries in the farming sector have dropped this year.

Figures from WorkSafe show that this year, up until 1 October, there have been nine deaths in agricultural workplaces, compared to an average of 15 deaths for the same period each year from 2014 to 2016.

Statistics show that the agricultural sector has had almost four times the number of workplace deaths than forestry, construction and manufacturing since 2011. . . 

Nine vying for three spots in Farmlands director elections – Sally Rae:

Voting is open in this year’s Farmlands director elections and there is a strong southern presence among the South Island candidates.

Nine candidates will contest the three director vacancies this year, with elections required in both the North and South Islands.

The South Island vacancy will be contested by former long-serving Alliance Group director Murray Donald (Winton), former Otago regional councillor Gary Kelliher (Alexandra), accountant Mel Montgomery (Southland), former Federated Farmers national board member David Rose (Southland) and current Alliance Group director Dawn Sangster (Maniototo). . . 

Alliance plans capital spending of $54:

Alliance Group is investing $54million in capital expenditure during the next year.

Outlining the investment at a series of roadshows throughout the country, chief executive David Surveyor said the success of the business strategy meant the co-operative was in a position to reinvest to continue to build the company’s operational performance.

In addition to a pool payment, the company would have a bonus share issue and reward farmer shareholders by increasing their shareholding in the co-operative.

The level would be based upon the supply of lambs, sheep, cattle, calves and deer during the 2017-18 season, Mr Surveyor said in a statement. . . 

Possum peppering – still totally implausible, seven years on – Alison Campbell:

Kerikeri award entry turns possums into burning issue“, proclaims a headline in the Northern Advocate.

The story is about an entry in the WWF-NZ’s Conservation Awards for 2017; I hope the judges have a good grasp of science and scientific method. From the article:

The entry from Kerikeri promotes a new take on an old-world biodynamic method of ridding fields of rodents and other furry pests.

It is called peppering, and involves burning the pelts and carcasses of said pests until they’re little more than ash, grinding it finely, mixing it with water and “spray painting” the substance back on the affected land.

Apparently, this version of the ‘traditional’ practice is new in the sense that so far it has not been applied because it lacked ‘scientific background’. . . 

Sheep Meat And Beef Levies to Remain Unchanged:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) announced today that sheep meat and beef levies will remain unchanged for the levy year commencing 1 October 2017.

B+LNZ Chairman James Parsons says the Board has reviewed budgets and activities for the financial year commencing 1 October 2017 and that the sheep meat levy on all sheep slaughtered would remain $0.60 per head and the beef levy, on all cattle slaughtered (including beef cattle and dairy cattle but excluding bobby calves), at $4.40 per head GST (exclusive). . . 

Voting for the 2017 Fonterra elections and resolutions underway:

Voting is now open for the 2017 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Elections, the Shareholders’ Councillor Elections in 10 wards, and six Annual Meeting resolutions.

This year Shareholders have the opportunity to elect three Fonterra Directors. The three candidates are Independent Nomination process candidates Brent Goldsack, Andy Macfarlane and John Monaghan. Each candidate requires Shareholder support of over 50% of votes to be elected. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: John McCaskey – Claire Inkson:

Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to John McCaskey : Pioneer of the Wine Industry, Farmers Advocate, Entrepreneur, and Proud Farmer.

1….How long have you been farming?

Since I was big enough to hold a bottle and feed a lamb—say 1939! My infant years were filled with helping feed pigs & chooks progressing to milking the house cow and churning butter after school! By age 10 I was going to be a farmer! I passed all agriculture subjects for School Cert 1954 . . 

New deal sees Palgrove partner with NZ super fund

Leading Queensland seedstock producers, David and Prue Bondfield, Palgrove, are the latest agribusiness to partner with a superannuation fund in order to grow their business.

The Bondfield family released a statement on Wednesday saying their business, had entered into a partnership with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF). The terms of the transaction remain confidential.​  . . 

Select Harvest rejects Arab takeover, launches $65m local capital raising – Andrew Marshall:

Select Harvest has more than 7000 hectares of almond plantations likely to deliver about 15,800 tonnes of crop next year.

Hot on the heels of rejecting a $430 million Arab takeover offer, big almond growing and nut processing business, Select Harvest, has launched a share market capital raising bid for about $65m.

Select has already placed 10.7m new shares worth about $45m with institutional investors. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

October 10, 2017

Dairy company Synlait to spend on research at Massey University – Jill Galloway:

A rival to dairy giant Fonterra could spend millions of dollars on research in Manawatū.

Canterbury-based dairy company Synlait will use some of its $7 million annual research and development budget at Massey University and its FoodPILOT​ unit.

It wants to spend the money on innovation, specifically on processing and packaging, as well as new products, and plans to develop a new centre for its operations. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk something special – Bernard May:

Mataura Valley Milk is creating something special just north of Gore.

We’re building a highly specialised nutrition plant unlike any other in Australasia to manufacture premium nutritional formulas.

It’s a completely different business from a dairy company, as we will be making highly functional and high-value products to order.

Mataura Valley Milk is a positive, and many would argue necessary, addition to the dairy industry in Southland. . . 

Tihoi Farm finds right balance:

Taking part in DairyNZ’s P21 research programme has helped Parkhill Farms to not only reduce its environmental impact, but also maintain profitability.

Chris Robinson of Parkhill Farms values having a choice about which farming system he wants to run. However, he also values water quality and understands that regional regulations limiting nutrient loss from his operation will affect his farming practice.

In 2015, DairyNZ was searching for a commercial farm on which to apply research proven at a farmlet scale. For Chris and brother-in-law Richard Webber, it was a great opportunity to investigate changes to their farming system to meet potentially conflicting goals. And so the P21 Focus Farm was created. . . 

Feds calls for stable and responsible government negotiations:

 

Next week promises to be a defining period for negotiations to form a new government and Federated Farmers is asking that whoever governs is pragmatic about future actions.

“Federated Farmers is ready to work with any government. We are an advocacy organisation for farmers, it is our job to work with all government, and opposition, representatives,” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Rural video blogger shares positive farming stories – Brad Markham:

Staring down the barrel of a camera, Sophie Brown is momentarily distracted by a noisy, low-flying plane overhead.

The usually unflappable Taranaki farmer quickly tilts her camera skyward, attempting to catch a glimpse of the winged intruder.

The chatty blonde’s out in an old barn introducing viewers of her video blog to the 80 bull calves she’s rearing this spring. . .

Farmers Fast Five: Sophie Brown – Claire Inkson:

Proud to be a Farmer Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Heels 2 Boots Video Blogger and Proud Farmer Sophie Brown

How long have you been farming?

I honestly don’t know when I became a farmer. Coming from the city, farming wasn’t natural to me, so when I started dating my husband eight years ago, everything farm related was new! Three years ago when we moved to the new family farm, I gave up my day job, so I guess I became a ‘farmer in training’ then! I only recently, on a departure card at the airport, described myself as a farmer, that was a big step for me! . . 


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