Rural round-up

January 9, 2014

New Zealand farmers John Falkner, Simon Berry set to market cheese made with deer milk – Dominique Schwartz:

A New Zealand farmer and a cheese maker have joined forces to craft what they hope will be the world’s first commercially produced cheese using deer milk.

Scientists say deer milk is rich in nutrients and protein, and could also have wide-ranging therapeutic and cosmetic uses.

Milking sheds are dotted across New Zealand’s rolling pastures, but there are none quite like Clachanburn Station possibly anywhere in the world.

At Clachanburn, in the Central Otago region of the South Island, it is not cows clattering through the milking runs but deer. . .

Farmers show resilience to adapt to changing world – Tim Mackle:

A New Year has arrived, and I’m pleased. Time to move on from 2013.

Not that all went badly last year. Not at all. The dairy industry and Fonterra in particular were in the news a lot – but maybe that helped New Zealanders understand us better.

We came through it together and perhaps, out of it all, we know a little bit more about each other.

2013 may have started badly for farmers with the drought, but it ended well weather-wise and with a positive milk price forecast. . .

Milking goats makes $en$e – Gerald Piddock:

Milking time at the Wade family’s dairy goat farm is a noisy affair.

The chorus of baas from the hundreds of impatient goats jostling outside in the yards sees to that.

“Come on, girls,” dairy milker Gary Bowman says as he opens the gate to the milking shed.

The noise stops as the goats rush forward, knowing a free meal of grain is on offer, while Gary and the other shed workers quickly attach the milking cups to the goats teats.

The process is over very quickly. . .

An oldie but a goodie – Mark Griggs:

BREEDING first-cross (Border Leicester/Merino) ewes as the “traditional mothers” of the prime lamb industry is still consistently profitable.

But Narromine area breeder, Warren Skinner, is worried the time-honoured and proven cross may die out with the older generation, who have traditionally bred that way.

“Most of the traditional breeders have stuck with the first-cross job, but I worry once this generation gets older, the young people that take over may move away and to different breeds on offer,” he said. . .

Stock & Land notches up its century – Alisha Fogden:

IN 2014, Stock & Land celebrates 100 years, and to mark this momentous occasion we have many centenary events and initiatives planned for the coming 12 months.

This marks the start of our weekly look-back pages where we choose a similar date from a corresponding year to show how farming and the paper have changed – or not.

Today, we look back half a century to January 8, 1964, when the paper still had that traditional old newsletter feel in black and white but had already begun to include more pictures and illustrations. . .

Heinz plant closure part of trend squeezing farmers out of Canada’s system, says NFU:

The closure of the Heinz ketchup plant announced last week is the latest of several Canadian food processing plants bought and then closed by investors that move production to other countries in pursuit of higher profits. The trend bodes ill for Canadians who want to eat food that is grown and processed within our borders, and is a direct result of the federal government’s policy drive to expand agri-food exports at the expense of Canadian food sovereignty.

“Since 1989, Heinz’s Leamington plant has shut down the pickle line, its peach, baked bean, soups and vegetable canning lines, the frozen vegetable product line and its vinegar operation. From hundreds of products, now all that is left is baby food and tomato product lines. Even so, the plant was still very profitable,” said Mike Tremblay, Essex County Local NFU-O President. “The new owners want even higher profits, and free trade deals just make it easier for processors to pick up and move, leaving our farmers with no market for their tomatoes and other vegetables, and putting hundreds of local people out of work.” . . .

New blood for farming :

THREE NEW entrants to agriculture, all students at Scotland’s Rural College, have been shortlisted to progress in the prestigious Lantra Scotland Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards – although none have a family background in farming.

Eighteen year-old Kaleem Shaikh grew up and went to school in suburban Uddingston, on the outskirts of Glasgow, but already he breeds pedigree sheep, goats and keeps hens on rented land and has emerged as ‘Best student’ in his year-group at the SRUC Oatridge campus in West Lothian.

Kaleem has been selected in the National Certificate Agriculture category and has moved on to study for a Higher National Certificate at Oatridge.

Ashley Stamper, a 21- year-old from Corstorphine, in Edinburgh, first learnt about farming by visiting a nearby farm as a child to bottle-feed pet lambs and has now completed a Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture at SRUC Barony Campus, in Dumfries.

She works as a shepherdess and stockperson for a farm services company, based at Hexham, in Northumberland. She goes forward in the Scottish Vocational Qualification in Agriculture Level 3 category.

Cameron Smith, also 18, got interested in farming when his family moved from Coatbridge, via a spell in Northern Ireland, to Doune, in Perthshire, and he made friends with schoolmates who were from farming backgrounds. . . .

Photo: 10 Reasons to thank a farmer on this Monday morning! (From Farm and Dairy)


NZ beetroot beats Aussie’s

February 17, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Our beetroot is fantastic,” he said.

“We’ve been growing beetroot for 35 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Melamine map

October 1, 2008

Our competitiors will love this:

Map

New Zealand is in purple, denoting that melamine has been found in products here. It doesn’t explain that it was in minute quantities: New Zealand Food Safety Authority Dr Geoff Allen said:

“Without exception, all results fall below the safety threshold set by NZFSA, and also fall below any safety limits set by other food safety regulators around the world including US and EU,” he said.

NZFSA has set a 1ppm limit on melamine in infant formula, a 2.5ppm limit on melamine in foods on shop shelves, and a 5ppm limit on foods which might be used as ingredients.

“From all 116 tests there is clearly no indication of any deliberate adulteration,” he said. “Based on results to date we are confident that all New Zealand dairy products are fully compliant.”

Tatua chief executive Paul McGilvary told NZPA though the NZFSA, and major multinational food companies including Nestle and Heinz have argued that low-level melamine contamination does not pose a health risk, the Chinese dairy scandal involving Fonterra’s joint venture Sanlu has triggered consumer sensitivities around the world.

Global markets had been sensitised to melamine contamination, and consumer perceptions were important even where contamination levels were so low they did not present a health risk, he said.

Emotion and perception will beat the facts in food safety and our competitors will be very keen to use this to their advantage if they can.


Was Sanlu advertising infant formula?

September 21, 2008

Heinz was prevented from advertising a change in its baby formula  which made some babies ill in New Zealand because of a code banning the advertsing of alternatives to breast milk.

But in China, where four babies have died and thousands are ill because of drinking infant formula poisoned by melamine, the Sunday Star Times (not on line) reports:

… breast feeding has gone out of fashion.

Most mothers return to work soon after giving birth. Few work places provide a private location for expressing breast milk. even mothers who do breastfeed often give formula as a supplement in the mistaken belief that their breast milk is not enough.

World Health Organisation guidelines which discourage advertisements for breast milk substitutes are generally strictly adhered to in developed countries. But are they everywhere?

There are many concerns over the way Fonterra has handled the problem of Sanlu, in which it has a 43% share, using contaminated milk in the production of infant formula. This report suggests we have reason to ask if the company breached WHO advertising standards too:

“. . .  and its advertising was famous for boasting that its formula underwent ‘1100 tests, safeguards the health care of babies and is trusted by mothers everywhere’.”

No company Fonterra is involved in would advertise breast milk substitutes in New Zealand. It should not allow any company it is involved with to do anything to get in the way of the message that breast milk is best for babies anywhere else either.


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