Rural round-up

12/02/2021

Plan for feeding New Zealanders fresh vegetables and fruit needed too :

Horticulture New Zealand is calling on the Government to hurry up protection for highly productive land. 

‘While it’s great that the Government is trying to do something to improve housing supply by making land more available through reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA), the New Zealanders who will live in those houses will also want fresh vegetables and fruit to eat at appropriate prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Reports that “Urban sprawl looks set to eat up to 31,270ha of Auckland’s most productive land over the next 35 years” (‘Stupid and inconsistent’: Urban sprawl set to swallow 31,000 hectares of prime land, NZHerald, 9 February 2021) make distressing and dispiriting reading. 

‘Part of New Zealand’s overall plan to house people and respond to climate change needs to be a plan to feed people fresh, healthy locally-grown vegetables and fruit, at appropriate prices.  . . 

Why our dairy farmers should take their own climate-change initiatives rather than wait for govt regulations – Point of Order:

Is the  Climate Change Commission’s draft proposals to meet  NZ’s emissions targets  as  radical  as right-wing commentator  Matthew Hooton contends, or entirely “doable”  as  leftie Simon Wilson  suggests?

The  draft budgets call on  the government to ensure  the  country emits on average 5.6% less than it did  in 2018 every year  between 2022 and 2025, 14.7% less for every year between 2026 and 2030  and 20.9% less  for every year between 2031 and 2035.  This is designed to get NZ to  zero net carbon emissions  by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Prime Minister  Jacinda  Ardern, who has said dealing with climate change  is her government’s “nuclear  free moment”,  says she will introduce new policies  and a  new international climate target to meet the shrinking carbon budgets set out by the CCC. . . 

Half a billion babies – Gerard Hutching:

Artificial Breeding (AB) technician Dirk van de Ven has an enviable lifestyle.

For about three months of the year the Winton, Southland, man works as an AB technician, earning enough to see him and wife Mieke through the year, albeit with odd jobs supplementing his main income.

“Then I do a little hoof trimming, gardening, walks, get firewood – it all keeps me fit. We work very hard for three months, then do a few little jobs,” Dirk says. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours. . .

Social media could be boosting sales of exotic kiwano fruit from Te Puke – Karoline Tuckey:

Somewhere just outside Te Puke, fields of strange alien-like vines are unfurling their tendrils, and growing large egg-like mottled golden fruits, covered in sharp spikes – and US buyers can’t get enough.

The bizarre harvest is Enzed Exotics’ kiwano crop, which pickers began collecting from the vines last week.

Owner Renee Hutchings said kiwano are horned melons – a type of African cucumber.

She has about 11 hectares planted with 60,000 vines this season. They normally produce about 30,000 trays or 135 tonnes of fruit, mostly for export. . . 

Far North farmers desperate for rain :

Farmers in the Far North are nervously awaiting some rain as dry weather intensifies in the region.

NIWA reports parts of the district are in severe meteorological drought and the region’s farming leaders are meeting this week to discuss what could happen next.

Northland Rural Support Trust chair Chris Neill said the extremely dry conditions in some areas was partly a carryover from last year’s drought.

“We are collecting information from our contacts across the region so we get a much clearer localised view of it,” Neill said. . . 


Rural round-up

23/11/2020

Supermarket inquiry might see rise in cost of fruit and vegetables, Horticulture NZ warns – Eric Frykberg:

People might end up paying more for their fruit and vegetables, not less, after an inquiry into supermarkets, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The industry group says growers who supply produce to supermarkets do not always get paid the price they need to meet all their costs.

The government this week confirmed the Commerce Commission market study Labour had promised during the election campaign.

The main focus of the investigation will be the experience of the consumer, but it will also look at the way that supermarkets procure their goods. . . .

NZ farmers adopted regenerative agriculture years ago – professor – Eric Frykberg:

A veteran farming academic thinks regenerative agriculture is a largely redundant concept for New Zealand because it has been practised here for years.

Keith Woodford said it was an American idea, born out of necessity on the prairies, but largely superfluous in New Zealand.

Regenerative agriculture focuses on topsoil regeneration, along with improving the water cycle, supporting biosequestration (or removal) of harmful products like greenhouse gases and enhancing the integrity of ecosystems.

It has become a popular catchcry in New Zealand and was strongly pushed by the Green Party during the last election. . .

NZ scientists lead the charge to explore benefits of pasture-raised beef and lamb :

New Zealanders will be invited to take part in a major research programme to assess the health and well-being benefits of eating pasture-raised beef and lamb, compared to grain-finished beef and plant-based alternatives.

Approximately 100 people will be monitored in two ground-breaking clinical studies, led by researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland.

The projects will assess the physical effects on the body from eating the different foods for up to 10 weeks, as well as psychological elements, such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels.

The research team includes meat scientists, agricultural academics, dietitians, behavioural experts and social scientists. . .

Wannabe lobbyists – Elbow Deep:

An exchange on Twitter caught my eye this week; a Waikato dairy farmer had landed a new 50:50 sharemilking job for the next season and was posing proudly with his family while holding a copy of his new Federated Farmers Herd Owning Sharemilking contract.

After some light hearted banter, the farmer was asked when he was going to sign up and become a Federated Farmers member. Tongue firmly in cheek he replied that, contracts aside, the only good thing to ever come out of the old boys club that was Feds was that they fought to keep Rural Delivery going. It was pointed out to him that Federated Farmers advocate strongly on local and central government issues for farmers. “What then,” he quite reasonable asked, “is the difference between Federated Farmers and DairyNZ?”

This was an excellent point and made me ponder what exactly the groups advocating on my behalf deliver, and is it what I want.

Finishing properties maintain the lead:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 118 more farm sales (+45.4%) for the three months ended October 2020 than for the three months ended October 2019. Overall, there were 378 farm sales in the three months ended October 2020, compared to 401 farm sales for the three months ended September 2020 (-5.7%), and 260 farm sales for the three months ended October 2019. 1,331 farms were sold in the year to October 2020, 0.3% fewer than were sold in the year to October 2019, with 19.2% less Dairy farms, 10.5% less Grazing farms, 1.3% more Finishing farms and 17.4% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to October 2020 was $28,399 compared to $25,637 recorded for three months ended October 2019 (+10.8%). The median price per hectare increased 5.5% compared to September 2020. . . 

Substantial dairy farm with subdivision potential placed on the market for sale:

A highly-productive low-input dairy farm on the outskirts of Hamilton – and encompassing a substantial quantity of lifestyle block sized sections – has been placed on the market for sale.

Drumlea Farm in Ngahinapouri some three kilometres south-west of Hamilton’s metropolitan boundary is a 336-hectare block comprising 17 combined titles – 14 of which are lifestyle block proportions. In addition, Drumlea Farm leases an adjoining 27 hectares of land on its northern boundary which is used mainly for grazing replacement cattle.

The farm currently milks some 750 cows – with all replacement stock carried on the property. At its peak, the farm has carried up to 920 cows. Production records from the past decade show the unit has milked between 252,000 and 353,000 kilogrammes of milk solids annually. . . 


Set back policy ‘bizarre’

23/11/2020

The Timaru District Council draft district plan seeks to increase the size of setbacks from roads, boundaries and neighbouring houses for dairy sheds, stock yards and “intensively farmed animals.

Hort NZ South Island environmental policy advisor Rachel McClung describes TDC’s proposal as “quite extreme” and believes it would have a major impact on farmers and growers’ bottom lines. . . 

It would also reduce production and thereby put upward pressure on food prices.

Federated Farmers senior policy advisor Angela Johnson shares similar concerns.

“We have never seen in a district plan anything so unnecessarily restrictive for animals on pasture – particularly given we’re talking about farm animals in the rural zone,” she told Rural News.

Johnson says that, typically, this type of setback relates to intensive farm building structures. However, Timaru’s proposed approach restricts where on paddocks farmers can have animals on their farm.

“It’s significantly more restrictive than any government Essential Freshwater regulation rule,” she adds. “It’s worse in fact, as it doesn’t relate to intensity, or environmental effects.

“There’s no logical connection between district plan considerations and grazing animals or feeding animals on winter crops or irrigated land.”

Johnson says matters that relate to environmental impacts on waterways etc are dealt with through regional council plans.

“So, this really does fall under the ‘bizarre’ category.

Bizarre is the appropriate word.

As proposed, the TDC district plan would mean any cattle or deer grazed on irrigated land, or break-fed on winter crops – as well as any pigs, dairy cattle (cows, calves, bulls, dry or in milk) – would all need to be set back 100m from a road, 100m from an internal property boundary, 400m from houses on adjoining sites or 100m from named zones.

“This would mean that farmers would lose a massive amount of productive land for no environmental reason,” Johnson explains.

“It’s effectively the Timaru District Council saying that the very sight of cows or deer in the countryside, within 100m of a road or 400m of a house is repugnant and unacceptable.  . . 

The farmers and growers who would be affected will be justifiably angry that their rates will have helped pay the wages of the people who came up with this mad scheme.

Whoever it was probably doesn’t get the irony that it would devalue rural land and thereby shrink the rating base that funds their salaries.

Farmers everywhere have serious concerns about central government’s environmental policies. They’ll now be worried that if this bizarre proposal from one local government body, others will follow their made example.


Rural round-up

16/11/2020

Rural water users challenge Kaikōura council plans to treat their water :

Water supply users say the Kaikōura District Council should have talked to them before coming up with expensive plans to treat their bore water.

Like councils around the country, the council is upgrading water supplies to meet the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards before the government’s new water regulator Taumata Arowai takes over next year.

Council operations manager Dave Clibbery has recommended splitting the East Coast scheme in two, building a $100,000 treatment plant for Clarence and having farms switch to rainwater for domestic use, at their own expense.

The East Coast scheme supplies 21 rural properties and 13 households in Clarence village, with the bulk of the water used for stock. . . 

Horticulture NZ keen to work with new government:

Horticulture New Zealand – which advocates for New Zealand’s 6000 plus fruit and vegetable growers – is keen to work with the new Government to ensure the industry can continue to grow and support New Zealand’s post-Covid economic and social recovery.

‘New Zealanders have spoken strongly and provided the new Government with a significant mandate,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘We’re keen to continue to work constructively with Minister Damien O’Conner, including in his new role as Trade and Export Growth Economic Minister. We want to ensure the horticulture industry is enabled to grow in line with Fit for a Better World, while at the same time responding to its environmental and climate change obligations.

‘In 2019, the New Zealand horticulture industry was worth more $6.39 billion and has grown by 64% in the past ten years. That is thanks to industry innovation and grower investment in new varieties and growing techniques to stay ahead of international competition and respond to consumer preferences. This growth is also because the industry is a sustainable user of land.’ . .

Jager backs sheep milk industry – Gerald Piddock:

Can the Zespri business model work for New Zealand’s sheep milking industry? Its former chief executive Lain Jager believes it can.

If successful, it would transform the industry into a billion-dollar industry that delivered for its farmers, Jager told around 400 people at Spring Sheep Milk Company’s annual open day held on a farm near Cambridge.

Jager is one of Spring Sheep’s directors and is also chair of the Primary Sector Council.

In 2015, Spring Sheep chief executive Scottie Chapman approached Jager about wanting to copy the Zespri model to develop a NZ sheep milking industry. . . 

Sale hammer falls on large-scale central North Island Ata Rangi Pastoral dairying venture – Andrea Fox:

Ata Rangi Pastoral, a large-scale central North Island dairying venture which aimed to show how sustainable, pasture-based production was done, has turned sour, with the last properties sold last week under the auction hammer.

Ata Rangi Pastoral was registered in 2015, to establish, by conversion, five dairy units and one dry-stock, or dairy support, farm on a swathe of forested land north of Taupo, stretching from Whakamaru to Tokoroa.

Founding shareholders New Zealanders Brent Cook and Ged Donald were reported at the time to be aiming to be the standard-bearer for sustainable, pasture-based production in New Zealand. The pair returned the land to New Zealand ownership, purchasing it from a US investment fund. . . 

Nothing beats milking elite jersey cows:

Sophia Clark didn’t think she would end up a dairy farmer but a season milking Jersey cows showed her that a career in farming could deliver both a business and a lifestyle.

Sophia and her partner Aaron Mills are 50/50 sharemilkers for Bernie and Gaye Hermann at Paengaroa, near Te Puke, where they milk a herd of 550 elite Jersey cows.

Sophia says the herd, which is in the top 1% of herds across all breeds based on breeding worth (BW), is perfectly suited to the farm. “We are a hilly farm, running a lower input system and milking once-a-day over summer.

Jerseys are well suited to our operation and enable us to farm the way we want to farm – not too much time spent on the tractor or too many bells and whistles – just a simple, efficient, profitable system.” . . .

Defending Beef The Case for Sustainable Meat Production :

For decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists and health advocates that cattle and beef are public enemy number one.

But is the matter really so clear cut? Hardly, argues environmental lawyer turned rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman in her new book, Defending Beef.

The public has long been led to believe that livestock, especially cattle, erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations.

In Defending Beef, Hahn Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Hahn Niman argues that dispersed, grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment. . . 


Rural round-up

09/11/2020

Coal burner ban could lead to rise in imported food – Horticulture New Zealand – Tracy Neal:

New Zealand may need to import more food if it bans coal boilers too soon, crop, meat and dairy producers say.

The industries regularly use coal fired heat to grow, clean, and manufacture food.

Dairy giant Fonterra stood apart from others in the food sector, saying it supported a ban on all new coal boilers. It also supported a transition period for phasing out existing boilers, especially those that produced low and medium heat, but acknowledged that it needed to align with availability of alternative energy sources.

It was in the same camp as environmental groups who favour a move away from using fossil fuels as a heat source. . . .

Slim pickings for apples – Sudesh Kissun:

Labour supply remains the top concern as the apple harvesting season approaches, says ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

She says the horticultural sector is extremely worried about finding sufficient labour to pick and pack the new season’s harvest.

“The ability to access critical workers through the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme remains very uncertain and there will be significantly fewer backpackers looking for work this summer,” she says.

“There is little doubt that more New Zealanders will be employed, but it is extremely unlikely there will be sufficient locals available to fulfil these physically demanding roles.” . . .

Vets in short supply – Peter Burke:

Julie South, whose company VetStaff specialises in recruiting veterinarians, says there is a shortage of vets in New Zealand and that this has been compounded by Covid-19.

South told Rural News that even before Covid there was a shortfall in the number of vets in NZ. However, she says the closing of the border to experienced overseas candidates has made things worse and prospective candidates can’t get visas.

According to South, most of the vets that she recruits come from Ireland, the UK and South Africa. But she says others have come from places such as South America, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and Europe.  . .

Hope rural sector’s value remains recognised :

The election result has delivered a historic and resounding result, for the first time under New Zealand’s MMP system a government has a mandate to rule outright without having to seek a coalition partner.

While the shift to Labour may have been somewhat expected in the more urban electorates, what was most surprising to many was the unprecedented wave of red votes that washed through largely rural seats.

These included long time National electorates of East Coast, Wairarapa and Rangitata, while in almost every electorate the party vote percentage flipped from National to Labour, typically by 20-25 percentage points.
For the rural sector, the confidence expressed in Labour to date will need to be maintained to prove the switch to red in the provinces has not just been a strategic move to shut out the Green party from a coalition government. . . 

Top ram breeder’s offer of a lifetime – Hugh Stringleman:

More than 70 years of sheep breeding comes to an end for Northland’s Gordon Levet when his best rams and ewes will be sold this summer. Hugh Stringleman reports.

SHEEP bred for worm resistance is the Holy Grail quest that has energised Gordon Levet for the past 35 years, which is about half of his working lifetime on Kikitangeo, the family farm near Wellsford first settled by his grandfather in 1874.

His objective has been to breed sheep with strong, quickly responsive immune systems, which will ensure survival and productivity, particularly in less challenging environments further south. . . 

Developing North Australia. What would China Do? – Carolyn Blacklock:

While Australia’s relationship with China has its ups and downs, this is just a symptom of geo-political realignment, and from this Australia needs to be pragmatic and take advantage of opportunities while not compromising our own interests.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call for a global investigation into the origins and outbreak of the coronavirus sparked heated exchanges.

This was the right call as the Australian economy reels from impacts of the pandemic, and there is an overwhelming necessity to be better prepared if and when a future viral health threat emerges.

The arrest and detention of Australian journalists, ruthless trade sanctions and tariffs targeting our beef, wine, seafood and barely exports, and dispute over Huawei’s participation in the 5G network, are all part of the bluster and tit-for-tat rhetoric. . . 


Rural round-up

22/09/2020

Water and labeling high on hort sector’s election wish-list – David Anderson:

New Zealand’s horticulture industry has set out its wishes for the upcoming election campaign, covering water, climate change, country of origin labelling and labour issues.

Industry body Hort NZ is asking that any future government ensures the horticulture sector can develop “within a supportive framework that enables sustainable growth”.

It says the sector currently contributes more than $6 billion to NZ’s economy, is the country’s third largest export industry and employs approximately 60,000 people.

“What horticulture needs in order to continue its success in producing fresh and healthy food for New Zealand and export markets is quite simple.” . . 

Rural environment grows ideas just fine – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Two years ago when he was playing for the Southland Sharks, Clinton man Lydon Aoake struggled to stay motivated.

The now 30-year-old was in the team that took out the 2018 New Zealand Basketball League. That year he juggled training, a full-time job at Danone Nutricia, and fatherhood.

“When I was working out trying to get fit for the Sharks, I wanted to get a personal trainer, but Clinton was pretty rural,” Mr Aoake said.

“So I had a little bit of a fitness background, I knew what I needed to do — it was just the PT motivation that I wanted.” . . 

Fonterra’s dividend – my five cents – Elbow Deep:

It has been quite the year for Fonterra, the co-operative not only won unanimous parliamentary support for the changes they sought to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, they also returned to profit after last year’s first ever financial loss. That profit, a stunning $1.3 billion turnaround from the previous season, saw Fonterra pay suppliers their fourth highest payout in the Co-op’s history; $7.14 per kg of milksolids and a 5c dividend on shares.

As dairy farmers we have been pretty well insulated from the worst financial effects of the pandemic, it has been business as usual thanks largely to Fonterra’s ability to navigate the strict requirements of operating under various levels of lockdown and to quickly react to changes in demand caused by Covid-19.

It struck me as curiously ungrateful, then, that the first response I saw on social media to Fonterra’s excellent result was a complaint the dividend was too low. This, it turns out, was not an isolated expression of that sentiment. . . 

Fonterra stabilises finances with back to basics model, selling assets and retaining profits – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has stabilised its finances with more asset sales forthcoming. It now operates a conservative model supported by its farmer members. But the model will not create the ‘national champion’ that the Labour Government has always hoped for

Fonterra’s annual results announced in 18 September for the year ending 31 July 2020 indicate that Fonterra has made good progress in stabilising its financial position. A key outcome is a reduction in interest-bearing debt by $1.1 billion, now down to $ 4.7 billion. This has been brought about through asset sales and retained profits.

Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers told a media conference immediately after release of the results that further debt reductions were desired.  The key measure that Fonterra is now using for debt is the multiple of debt to EBITDA, which now stands at 3.4. The desired level in the newly conservative Fonterra is between 2.5 and 3. . . 

Self-shedding sheep study:

Massey University is examining the economic impact and the production consequences of crossbreeding with Wiltshire sheep to a fully shedding flock.

Coarse wool sheep farmers are struggling with the cost of shearing in relation to the value of the wool clip. Many are considering if changing to a self-shedding flock, such as a Wiltshire, is a better way forward.

However, the cost of purchasing purebred Wiltshires – and the limited numbers available – means this is not a viable option for many. However, there are examples of farmers successfully grading up to Wiltshires by continual crossing.

But there is a general lack of accurate recorded information on the costs, benefit and pitfalls from doing so. . . 

Plug pulled on 2021 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival – Tracy Neal:

Organisers of next February’s Marlborough Wine & Food Festival have pulled the plug early.

It is the first time in the event’s 36-year history it has been cancelled, but the potential lingering challenges over Covid-19 posed too much risk.

Marlborough Winegrowers Board Chair Tom Trolove said it had been a really tough decision that would impact businesses in our community.

“But the board was clear that in these unprecedented times, it had to prioritise the safety of the harvest. . . 


Rural round-up

10/09/2020

It’s been a great year for the dairy industry – now let’s see what it has done for Fonterra’s books – Point of Order:

Despite  the  turmoil  inflicted  on  global markets,  NZ’s  dairy  industry  turned  in  a  phenomenal performance   for  the  2019-20 season,   with  export  earnings   $709m  ahead of  the  previous  year.  

And  though  the  global  market  is  finely  balanced  at  present,  the  prospect  is  that  the  industry  could  again  be  ahead  of the  pack  in  the  current  season.

Dairy farmers    deserve  the  plaudits  of  the   rest  of  the  country,  even   though  the  present   government    has  gone  out  of its  way  to   clobber  the industry  with  tough  freshwater regulations  designed to  satisfy  “dirty dairying”   critics,  despite the most polluted water  often being  found in  city and town waterways  and harbours.  . . 

Horticultural industry pushes for extended visas for workers

The horticultural sector is calling for its guest workers to be next in line to have their visa restrictions eased.

Visitors and temporary migrants trapped in this country by the restrictions on travel will now have their visas extended to give them more time to organise flights home.

But Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman said these changes did little to help people working in the horticultural and wine sectors.

He said the sector was coming up to a busy time. . . 

The immigration breakthrough that wasn’t– Dileepa Fonseka :

Lobby groups thought they’d succeeded in their mission to let skilled workers who had been stranded overseas get back into the country – but they were wrong

A press release from primary industry lobby groups had to be retracted on Friday after an announcement they had expected on a way for overseas temporary migrants to return to New Zealand never materialised.

DairyNZ and Federated Farmers released – then retracted – a press statement welcoming back the temporary workers ‘locked out’ of the country, after the Government instead announced a visa extension for people here on visitor visas. . . 

Plea to lock up dogs at night after lambs killed – Gus Patterson:

Maheno farmer Doug Brown is urging people to lock up their dogs at night after 12 of his lambs were killed earlier this week.

The attacks on the nights of August 30 and 31 caused fatal injuries to several lambs, as well as mis-mothering and scattering the recently-born stock.

Some lambs were found three paddocks away from their mothers.

“It’s annoying. You work long hours at lambing time and could do without this,” Mr Brown said. . . 

Working off-farm best for rural mum – Alice Scott:

Waitahuna’s Bridget Tweed still cringes when she recalls her first job interview after what had been four years as a stay-at-home mum with pre-schooler twins, a toddler and a baby.

“I stumbled my way through the entire interview. I just wasn’t used to talking to adults anymore. The whole interview was just terrible.”

She got home and after some thought decided to call the manager.

“I said I felt the interview hadn’t gone too great and I hadn’t given a true reflection of myself. The manager actually agreed it wasn’t the greatest interview, but I rattled off a few things and I must’ve said the right thing because I got the job,” she said laughing. . . 

Bargains in the bin may bring buyers out – Bruce McLeish,:

As anticipated, the wool market struggled again last week and prices dropped by 37 cents a kilogram – or 5.5 per cent – in US Dollar terms.

A weaker US Dollar continued to make life difficult for growers and exporters as the Australian Dollar briefly cracked the US0.74 cents level during the week.

Understandably, 20 per cent of the offering was passed in – with many growers unwilling to accept these prices. . . 


If you don’t learn from mistakes

14/08/2020

The government is making the same mistake it made during the first lockdown at higher levels:

Wood processors say plants will close for good if the government persists with its plan to shut non-food industries in the event the Auckland lockdown moves into level 4.

Industry executives were alarmed yesterday when told that officials expected to apply the same essential and non-essential split as in March in the event that deeper workplace restrictions are required. During that lockdown many manufacturers – particularly exporters – fought unsuccessfully to keep operating given the safe distance working inherent in many of their operations.

Jon Tanner, chief executive of the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association, said the stakes are now much higher.

“If we get shut down this time there are plants that will close. There are plants that are that vulnerable,” he told BusinessDesk.

And he said all the sector’s efforts in April, getting safe working practices approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation, are at risk of being wasted.

“We’ve got all the protocols in place. We’ve had them approved by MPI and MBIE. There’s no reason for the wood processing industry to be shut down.” . . 

The insistence on the arbitrary essential rather than safe is also a problem for horticulture. Mike Chapman, CE of Horticulture NZ  has outlined his concerns in an open letter to the Prime Minister:

We are writing to you on behalf of the New Zealand horticulture industry to collectively address our growers’ concerns that independent fruit and vegetable retailers are not classified as essential services under Covid-19 Alert Level 3 and 4.

In New Zealand there are multiple ways fresh fruit and vegetables are available for sale to the general public. The majority of these sales are made through large supermarket chains and independent fresh fruit and vegetable retailers, at a market share of approximately 80 and 20 percent respectively. However, in Auckland independent retailers represent 60% of sales of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Growers will still be able to harvest fruit and vegetables but if 60% of Auckland sales aren’t available there will be a lot of wastage.

Unlike supermarkets, fresh fruit and vegetables sold through independent retailers are different grades than sold in supermarkets and in some outlets at more affordable prices and in high end outlets at higher prices. Independent retailers also sell culturally significant fresh fruit and vegetables in their communities (that aren’t readily available in supermarkets) that form the staple diets of different ethnic groups in New Zealand.

Supermarkets usually cater for mass buying, smaller greengrocers cater for niche markets.

When New Zealand was in Alert Level 4 and 3 earlier this year, households were significantly impacted by not having access to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from independent retailers, especially lower income households. In addition, rural communities often rely on independent retailers for supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables that are produced locally, where large supermarket chains are not readily present. This is in alignment with the government’s messaging to support local businesses.

In Auckland a large number of households in the poorer outer suburbs have lost the ability to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from their local independent retailers at affordable prices. Supermarkets tend to operate a structure whereby the consumer drives to the store. In lower socioeconomic areas this is not always practical and a portion of the population needs walking access to retailers selling fruit and vegetables.

Some elderly will usually shop close to home and might need only fresh produce. If they can’t get that locally they will be forced to go to supermarkets where they will be exposed to more people.

This issue is exacerbated by many households facing financial hardship since lockdown due to loss of employment and other pressures. The result of this situation is a significant increase in demand at foodbanks across New Zealand to provide food parcels to families in need. The horticulture sector has programmes in place supporting foodbanks, but this only addresses a small portion of the lack of supply.

While the government did confirm that independent retailers are able to operate in a contactless manner at Alert Level 3 and 4, this method of business operation is not suitable for many lower income households who don’t have the ability to order or pay for food purchases online.

The closure of independent retailers does not only impact consumers, it also impacts the horticulture industry who work tirelessly to provide all retailers, large or small, with seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. The closure of independent retailers during lockdown resulted in an excess of fruit and vegetables that could not enter the supply chain. This loss of access resulted in direct financial loss to growers from failure to sell their products, causing some to exit the industry and delay or reduce replanting. Ultimately, this impacts on consumers due to lower supply levels and increased pricing. These impacts will be further exacerbated by the current Alert Level 3 restrictions in place in Auckland.

When New Zealand was in lockdown earlier this year the horticulture industry, together with independent retailers, developed a protocol for the safe operation of retailers. This protocol used the principles of essential service operation, the same as other primary industry businesses and dairies had been using to operate. We know that the New Zealand government recognised protocols for independent retailers during Alert Level 3, as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment approved the operation of some retailers. Independent stores are much smaller than supermarkets and have indicated their ability and commitment to operating safely.

Producing fresh fruit and vegetables is regarded as essential, selling them should be too and the criteria for who sells them should be safety.

To maintain adequate supply of affordable fresh fruit and vegetables to all New Zealanders, it is critical that both supermarkets and independent retailers are able to operate if they are able to demonstrate they can do so using Covid-19 safe practices. The horticulture industry sincerely requests that the government re-considers their decision not to recognise independent retailers as essential services. We ask that a decision is made to consistently apply to all independent retailers to ensure New Zealanders have access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables across the country.

We are available to discuss this request with you and your officials to find a solution that is in the safety and wellbeing interests of our team of five million.

Yours sincerely

Mike Chapman

On behalf of the New Zealand horticulture industry

Butchers will also be on the wrong side of the essential vs safe debate as they were last time. That nearly caused an animal welfare issue with pigs until the government bought 2,000 pigs a week and gave the meat to food banks.

Auckland Business Chamber CEO says the lockdown cost is too high:

Government says they learned things from the last lockdown so if they did can we do things differently and let all businesses that can comply with Covid-19 safety measures stay open, says Auckland Business Chamber CEO Michael Barnett.

“The cost to businesses locked down and out of their livelihoods is too high,” he said. “Why can a dairy open and a supermarket sell fresh fruit and vegetables, but your local greengrocer cannot? It would be much better for the economy and wellbeing of the community to allow shops to operate if they follow the strict compliance and safety requirements that can be enforced for each alert level.”

Many small businesses, particularly in hospitality and retail, are teetering with reserves run down, jobs at risk and confidence shaken, forced to shut their doors because they are not on government’s list of essential retail and services, Mr Barnett said. . .

If you don’t learn from your mistakes you are doomed to repeat them.

The government obviously hasn’t learned from its mistaken insistence on what was essential rather than what could operate safely earlier this year and is repeating it.

Businesses, consumers and the economy will pay the price for this with no health benefit.


Rural round-up

08/08/2020

Expect increased rates costs from new government freshwater laws:

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

“We all want good water quality, that’s why farmers and growers have been spending time and money for decades doing all they can on-farm,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Millions of trees, hundreds of miles of fencing, sediment management, nitrogen controls … all these things are improving rural water quality.”

While there is still a good deal of detail Federated Farmers is working through to get a better understanding of to communicate to its members, “we do have concerns around the wording of the National Policy Statement. . . 

Red meat exports record seven percent increase year on year :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exported $9.4 billion of sheepmeat, beef and co-products for the year ending June 2020, according to the latest analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector saw an increase of $639 million – or seven per cent – compared to the year ending June 2019.

China remained the largest market for the year ending June 2020, accounting for $3.7 billion of New Zealand’s red meat exports. This was an increase of 24 per cent on the previous June year – and was partly driven by China’s demand for red meat protein as a result of the impact of African Swine Fever. . . 

More hands needed for milk processing – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has made a strong start to the dairy season and has more than 150 seasonal vacancies in its processing division spread throughout the country, director of manufacturing, Alan van der Nagel says.

The processing jobs at 30 manufacturing sites are among 770 current vacancies throughout Fonterra, including corporate roles, technicians, field staff and working in the Farm Source stores.

“We do gear up for the peak milk processing demand and we are looking for a wide range of skills and abilities,” van der Nagel said.

“We give the appropriate training and there are opportunities for re-skilling at a time when a lot of people are out of work.” . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s recognition of the importance of  vegetable growing in NZ in freshwater decisions:

Horticulture New Zealand is welcoming recognition of the importance of vegetable growing in the Government’s new national direction on freshwater management.

‘HortNZ has worked with growers in Pukekohe and Horowhenua to demonstrate to central and local government that modern vegetable growing techniques dramatically reduce environmental impact,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘Over the past decade, vegetable growers across New Zealand have been taking practical steps to reduce environmental impact through precision irrigation and fertilizer application, sediment traps and buffer zones, retiring land, and riparian planting. . . 

NZ apple industry on track to become a billion dollar export business :

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the representative industry body for the apple, pear and nashi industry, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hastings today, with members joining from around the country’s growing regions via Zoom.

With NZAPI’s financial year ending 31 March 2020, the published results were for the 2019 growing season and 2019/20 selling season, meaning that they reflect trading conditions pre- COVID-19.

Gross volume for the 2019/20 crop reached 566,200 metric tonnes (mT), similar to the previous year. The proportion of the crop that is exported rose 5 percent to 395,000 mT. . . 

Resilient Ravensdown responds with strong $69m profit – returning $68 million to farming:

After ensuring essential food-creating nutrients kept flowing during the pandemic, Ravensdown has recorded a profit from continuing operations and before tax, rebate and an earlier issue of bonus shares of $69 million (2019: $52m).

Returning a total of $68 million to its eligible farmer shareholders, the co-operative is confident in its financial strength and cautiously optimistic in the face of uncertainty around Covid-19 and emerging government policy.

“The resilience demonstrated was no accident, but deliberately built over five years of steadfast focus on fundamentals and performance. It meant that we could respond when shareholders needed us most and when New Zealand needed the agsector most,” said CEO Greg Campbell. . . 


Rural round-up

08/07/2020

Let them eat wood – Dame Anne Salmond:

The farmers are right. As the price of carbon rises, the settings in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will make it more profitable to plant pine trees than to grow food (or native forests) in many parts of New Zealand.

On the East Coast, for instance, a landowner will be paid 10 times more by year 5 for planting pine trees instead of native forest, and farmland is going under pine trees in many places. With wool prices at historic lows, and rising carbon prices, this trend will only accelerate.

On highly erodible soils, the folly of planting shallow-rooted pine trees and clear-felling them every 25-30 years is obvious. Witness the tsunami of logs and sediment that have drowned streams, rivers, houses, fields, beaches and harbours in places like Tolaga Bay, Marahau, and many other parts of New Zealand.

With two-thirds of the forestry industry owned overseas, like the logs, the profits are exported, but the costs remain behind. Ravaged landscapes, wildling pines, roading networks wrecked by logging trucks, workers killed and injured in the forests. . . 

Farmer’s pitch to big biz: My land, your trees, planet’s gain –  Jo Lines-MacKenzie:

One farmer’s novel pitch to big firms to use her land for carbon offset tree planting is being touted as a win-win for both the business and agricultural sectors.

Federated Farmers says the idea could catch on and they could be the organisation to make it work.

The idea has been sparked by King Country farmer Dani Darke who posted a proposal on social media to offer up 10 hectares of her own land to plant native trees.

She pitched the idea to Air New Zealand, Genesis Energy, Contact Energy, Z Energy, and anyone else who wanted to participate. . . 

Strath Taieri the new food bowl of New Zealand – Sally Rae:

Strath Taieri is a traditional farming district, best known for sheep and beef cattle. But an irrigation proposal being mooted has the potential to see it diversify into other areas, including horticulture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Strath Taieri — the new Food Bowl of Dunedin?

That’s what the Strath Taieri Irrigation Company (STIC) believes could happen if the Taieri Catchment Community Resilience Project wins approval.

It is a project that has been talked about for decades but which, in recent times, has gained momentum, with an application for funding made to the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. Without reliable water, the future for the district would be bleak, STIC said.

And by bringing more irrigation water to the area and ensuring certainty of supply, there was potential for diversification of the traditional sheep and beef farming area into the likes of horticulture, as well as increasing productivity within existing farming operations. . . 

Direction of horticulture industry aligns with Fit for a Better World:

Horticulture New Zealand says the horticulture industry’s future focused strategies align well with what is proposed in Fit for a Better World

‘Horticulture is already well into the journey that has been identified and proposed in these reports, and this journey will continue,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Immediately post lockdown, our entire industry – comprising more than 20 different fruit and vegetable product groups – got together with key government departments to develop and implement a strategy and work programme that will see horticulture spearhead New Zealand’s economic and social recovery from Covid.

‘We are encouraged to see that the proposal identifies a key opportunity to accelerate the horticulture industry’s development, which fits perfectly with our own work. . . 

Low-methane ‘elite’ sheep breeding project finds success – AgResearch scientist – Eric Frykberg:

Low methane appears to be a breedable trait that does not affect economic value in sheep, and could lead to a cumulative 1 percent reduction in emissions each year, farmers have been told.

AgResearch scientist Suzanne Rowe told a webinar organised by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Council that research into such animals had been going on for a decade.

Rowe said a study of 1000 sheep divided into high emitting and low emitting animals found these traits were passed on to successive generations.

“After three generations we have 11 percent less methane per kilogramme of feed eaten,” she said. . . 

Bingara producers turn to embryos to breed back out of drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

Bingara producer Rhonda King and her 86-year-old father Alf were steaming ahead with their Speckle Park herd when back-to-back droughts crippled their momentum.

In January they had made the decision to sell the final remnants of their 300-head herd at Doctors Creek when rain came not long after and saved them from the decision.

With cattle prices soaring to record levels Ms King opted to use her lifetime travel savings to purchase embryos rather than replacement livestock and is hoping to breed her way back into business.

Their herd currently consists of about 90 Speckle Park including cows, heifers and bulls with an additional 11 Angus recipients purchased from another stud. . . 


Rural round-up

16/06/2020

Faltering forestry risks NZ’s climate strategy – Marty Verry:

Global headwinds are lining up against New Zealand’s number one climate change mitigation strategy – the one billion trees policy. The coming weeks will tell if the Government has given up or is committed to making that policy a success by backing it with its procurement.

But first let us recap on what is at stake. The country’s plan is to use trees to sequester carbon dioxide over the next 30 years while it finds ways to reduce emissions from our other main pollutant sources: transport, buildings, energy and agriculture. If the forestry strategy fails, we will need a more aggressive approach to meeting carbon zero by 2050 – something consultancy EY calculated in 2018 would cost the country $30 billion. New Zealand cannot afford to add that to the $60b Covid tab, so the forestry strategy simply must succeed.

So let’s look at the prospects for forestry. For New Zealand, the battle ground is China. Like it or not, it takes 80 per cent of our log exports. All our logs are in that basket, you could say. . .

Federated Farmers wants migrant workers on Govt’s COVID exemption ‘A-list’ :

Auckland officials are emphasising the economic benefits of letting in America’s Cup crews, but farmers feel they’re being left off the ‘A-list’. 

The Government has granted border exemptions to cup challengers American Magic and INEOS Team UK, each bringing a couple of hundred crew and staff into the country. 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says they’ll face the same 14-day quarantine rules as New Zealand citizens at the border, to prevent one of them inadvertently bringing in COVID-19.  . . 

Visa uncertainty threatens farm crisis – Richard Harman:

The Government is considering extending temporary work visas due to expire over the next few months so that essential businesses do not lose semi-skilled workers.

But there are big questions about why it won’t announce that it is doing so. POLITIK understands that around 70,000 temporary work visas are due to expire by the end of September.

But following representations from the dairy and aged care sectors POLITIK understands the Minister of Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway favours an extension of six to 12 months for many of the workers. . . 

Why is it taking so long to install fishing cameras? :

“Cameras are all about transparency. They’re all about public accountability and providing proof that the industry – as they state – have nothing to hide. Now if they have nothing to hide, why aren’t we seeing cameras on some of these big boats?”

That’s the question Newshub reporter Michael Morrah has been trying to solve since National decided they were a good idea and promised to introduce them in 2016.

But their introduction has been pushed back again and again, often quietly.

National’s primary industries minister Nathan Guy was attacked by the then Labour opposition over them; but just a few months after Labour came into office and “the whole idea around accountability and transparency is put on the backburner”, Morrah says. . . 

 

Horticulture NZ says New Zealand needs more water storage schemes like Northland:

HortNZ says New Zealand needs more water storage schemes like the one just announced for Northland.

‘New Zealand is not really short of water, it is short of water capture and storage,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘People and plants need water – that’s a basic fact. For years, we have known that our climate is changing – droughts are getting more severe – however, red tape and a lack of capital has seen most parts of New Zealand slow to do anything practical about the situation. . . 

New trial could lead to breeding of low methane-emitting cows – James Fyfe:

A trial is underway in the Waikato to see if there is a link between cows’ genetics and how much methane they produce.

If such a link is found, it could mean it’s possible for farmers to fight climate change by specifically breeding cows that emit less methane.

The trial, involving dairy breeding bulls, is being run by Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) and CRV Ambreed, which between them sire 90 percent of the country’s dairy herd through their artificial breeding bulls. . . 

NZ Food Heroes campaign takes off:

Thousands of free-range chooks have been able to keep on laying rather than getting laid off due to lockdown. It’s just one of the heart-warming stories shared in the ‘NZ Food Heroes’ campaign.

From baking to business models – nominations for the NZ Food Heroes Awardare flooding in. Diverse in nature, the entries all reflect the Kiwi brand of innovation and community spirit that has flourished during the COVID-19 crisis ensuring New Zealand has access to fresh, local produce.

Nominee Olliff Farm north of Auckland faced a dilemma. With 95 per cent of their pasture eggs supplying high-end Auckland restaurants and cafes in normal times, lockdown restrictions presented a complete loss of business income. . . 

Fonterra’s Asia Pacific market gets creative in lockdown :

Fonterra’s Asia Pacific market is living proof of the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” Judith Swales says.

Fonterra’s CEO for Asia Pacific told The Country Early Edition’s Rowena Duncum that Covid-19 restrictions had forced the co-op to rethink its approach to customers.

“Our teams have adapted really quickly and they’ve done a lot of great work. It’s about how we adapt to customers and consumers” Swales said.

One example was a trend that had popped up in Korea – creating new recipes for the garlic cream cheese bun. . . 


Rural round-up

28/05/2020

Hauraki Plains farmers: ‘We just want some help‘ –  Maja Burry:

Farmers on the Hauraki Plains are banding together and holding socially-distanced shed meetings, as they fight the worst drought seen in the area in decades.

The Hauraki Plains, Coromandel Peninsula and eastern parts of South Auckland haven’t had had any meaningful rain in months. The dry conditions have become so dire in some parts of the Waikato region three district mayors have signed a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, calling for more support.

Ngatea farmers Megan and Michael Webster run 300 dairy cows and 900 diary goats, but this season due to the dry conditions they’ve had to take a financial hit and dry their stock off about a month earlier than usual.

Michael Webster said it had been a very challenging time, with average rainfall well down. . . 

Coronavirus: Kiwis more positive about farming after Covid-19 lockdown – Esther Taunton:

Kiwis are beginning to see farmers in a new light after lockdown, research shows.

Figures from UMR Research show 63 per cent of New Zealanders hold a positive view of sheep and beef farming, an increase of 9 per cent compared to just eight months ago.

Support for dairy farmers has also jumped, rising from 51 per cent to 60 per cent.

Horticulture tops the list with a positive rating of 65 per cent, while ratings for fisheries have clicked over into majority positive territory at 53 per cent, up from 47 per cent. . .

Fish & Game council embraces Feds, ungags boss -David Williams:

Fish & Game is extending an olive branch to Federated Farmers, against the advice of its chief executive. David Williams reports

The national Fish & Game council continues to try and cleanse itself of a tough stance against agricultural pollution, demanding a softer line from staff on public statements as it takes tentative steps to work with lobby group Federated Farmers.

Such a step would be a huge departure for the public body, which is funded by licence fees. It’s an environmental powerhouse which has successfully advocated for a dozen water conservation orders, and is well-known for taking a hard stance on the damage done by dairying.

That stance, pushed by long-time chief executive Bryce Johnson, has continued under successor Martin Taylor, who started in late 2017, just after the last general election. (In one of his first statements, he flayed dairy giant Fonterra’s environmental record, caused by, he said, its “single-minded focus on increased production at all costs, aided and abetted by weak regional councils”.) . . 

Project to explore turning waste into hand sanitiser – Maia Hart:

Turning waste into hand sanitiser is the next project for a research winery based in Marlborough.

The Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) has awarded $84,700 in funding to Bragato Research Institute (BRI) for a pilot study exploring turning grape marc into hand sanitiser.

Grape marc is the stems and seeds leftover after pressing – which in Marlborough can total as much as 46,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The study would look to turn winery waste into ethanol. Any sanitiser made in the initial eight-month study would be bottled and donated to Marlborough health workers and first responders. . . 

Farmers feeling less pressure from banks Feds’ survey finds:

Farmers are feeling slightly more satisfied and less under pressure from their banks, the Federated Farmers May 2020 Banking Survey shows.

Responses to Research First from nearly 1,400 farmers found that the number feeling ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their bank lifted slightly from 68% to 69% in the past six months, and those feeling ‘under pressure’ dropped from 23% to 19%.

“Satisfaction had slipped as a trend since we started this twice-yearly survey in August 2015 and this is the first positive change since then,” Federated Farmers Vice-President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry rewarded by outstanding survey result :

A survey showing that New Zealanders rate horticulture more highly than any other part of the primary industry sector is rewarding for fruit and vegetable growers across the country. 

UMR research released today shows that horticulture continues to receive the highest positive rating of 65%.

HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman says he sees the result as a reward for the way fruit and vegetables are grown in New Zealand.

‘Our growers are some if not the best in the world.  Over the years, the New Zealand horticulture industry has invested heavily in meeting consumer demand for fresh, tasty and nutritious food that is grown, harvested and transported in environmentally sustainable and ways.  . . 


Rural round-up

23/05/2020

Covid-19: trusting business to work – Todd Muller:

National’s agriculture spokesman, Todd Muller on the role the Government needs to play for agriculture businesses.

As we continue to grapple with the repercussions of COVID-19, we must look at what’s working and use that as a template for other business sectors.

The kiwifruit industry has been a shining example of how it is possible to continue operating at a high capacity, while adjusting to the restrictions of COVID-19.

It has completely re-engineered its systems from harvesting the fruit, to picking the fruit, to packing the fruit and we’ve seen a bumper season with record amounts of NZ kiwifruit making their way across the world as a result.

This has also meant the industry has been able to keep 28,000 seasonal workers in employment, while recording no COVID-19 incidents. This is the sort of leadership that shows how we can keep people safe and keep the economy moving at the same time. . .

Burger run shows food folly – Annette Scott:

The plan for a food security policy is long overdue with the McDonalds lettuce shortage highlighting its need more than ever, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

It is a warning that should not be ignored.

“Vegetable shortages will become a more frequent occurrence unless we get serious about ensuring we have enough food to feed NZ. 

“Like a dog howling at the moon HortNZ has been on about the need for NZ to have a food security policy and plan.  . . 

Milk price impacts vary widely – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has published a shiny set of third-quarter numbers to cushion the impact on farmer-shareholders of a $1/kg reduction in the mid-point of its milk price forecast for next season.

Ten days before the start of the new season it released a wide-ranging $5.40 to $6.90 opening forecast – representing the difference between despair and satisfaction for New Zealand farmers.

At the same time it shrank the range for this season, now $7.10 to $7.30, and showed the big blocks are in place for a solid outcome to a tumultuous year. . . 

Family sheep and beef farm takes top regional spot at Taranaki Farm Environment Awards:

A long-term commitment to environmental stewardship has earned Rukumoana Farms the top spot at Taranaki’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards, run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

The awards champion sustainable farming and growing through a programme which sees one Regional Supreme Winner selected from each of the 11 regions involved. As a Regional Supreme Winner, Rukumoana Farms is now in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, with the winner of this national award to be announced at a later date.

Rukumoana Farms is run by the Brown family – Robert, Jane, Nick, Sophie, Will, Kate and Sam. Thiscohesive family unitissuccessfully driving this farm that has significantlygrownduring the 34 yearsthatRobertand Jane have been involved. . .

Fonterra provides performance and milk price updates:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced its third-quarter business update, narrowed the range for its 2019/2020 forecast Farmgate Milk Price, and announced an opening forecast Farmgate Milk Price range for the 2020/2021 season.

  • Total Group Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT): $1.1 billion, up from $378 million
  • Total Group normalised EBIT: $815 million, up from $514 million
  • Total Group normalised gross margin: $2.5 billion, up from $2.2 billion
  • Normalised Total Group operating expenses: $1,665 million, down $148 million from $1,813 million
  • Free cash flow: $698 million, up $1.4 billion
  • Net debt: $5.7 billion, down from $7.4 billion
  • Normalised Ingredients EBIT: $668 million, up from $615 million
  • Normalised Foodservice EBIT: $208 million, up from $135 million
  • Normalised Consumer EBIT: $187 million, up from $128 million
  • Full year forecast underlying earnings: 15-25 cents per share
  • 2019/20 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: $7.10 – $7.30 per kgMS
  • Opening 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: $5.40 – $6.90 per kgMS
  • 2020/21 Advance Rate Schedule has been set off the mid-point of $6.15 per kgMS . .

Union boss doffs hat to meat companies – Peter Burke:

Meat processing companies have gained praise for the way they handled the challenges around COVID-19 from an unlikely source – the union.

National secretary of the Meat Workers Union, Daryl Carran, who recently took up the role, says all the meat companies have played the game by the rules very well. He told Rural News that if all the problems in the sector were handled in the way that COVID has been, it would be great.

Carran says currently between 75% and 80% of meat workers are on the job and those that aren’t working are either over 70 years of age, have underlying health issues or have personal family circumstances that make it safer for them – and others in the workforce – to remain in isolation

.

 


Rural round-up

12/11/2019

‘Huge gaps” in environmental data – Colin Williscroft:

Shortcomings in New Zealand’s environmental reporting system undermine rules designed to protect the environment, a new report says.

A review of the reporting system Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton identifies huge gaps in data and knowledge and calls for concerted action to improve the system.

He says the data gaps, along with inconsistent data collection and analysis, make it hard to construct a clear national picture of the state of the environment – and whether it is getting better or worse. . . 

Fonterra confident of making progress – Sally Rae:

While there are more big strategic decisions ahead for Fonterra this year, chairman John Monaghan is “very confident” in the progress the co-operative is making.

Addressing yesterday’s annual meeting, Mr Monaghan said the 2019 financial year was a year of significant challenges and change within the co-operative, as it continued to fundamentally change its culture and strategy.

It was another tough year of significant change for farmers which included the Government’s policy announcements on climate change and freshwater, the effect the Reserve Bank’s proposal to tighten capital reserve rules had on banks’ willingness to lend, and the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

Fonterra’s decision not to pay a dividend and significantly impair a number of assets was a surprise to many farmer shareholders. . . 

Underpass creates safer stock route – Alice Scott:

In 1930, Jim MacDonald’s father was one of many stock drovers on what is now State Highway 87 to take sheep through from Waipori to the Waipiata saleyards; he would pick up different station mobs on horseback with a couple of heading dogs.

These days the MacDonald family require three staff, high-visibility vests for people and dogs and flashing hazard lights on the top of their utes, and that is just to get the stock across the road.

This year Mr MacDonald said the time had come to install a stock underpass as it was no longer safe to cross stock over State Highway 87.

“We’ve had a few dogs go under the wheel of a vehicle and the logistics have just become very difficult. The road just seems to get busier and busier. . . 

Seized fruit tree cutting imports stoush: Nursery owners meet with MPI – Eric Frykberg:

Nursery owners are meeting officials of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in Wellington to try to resolve a continuing stand off over seized cuttings of new varieties of fruit trees.

They have said the Ministry overstated the case when it said progress was being made to resolve the matter, and many claims were still outstanding.

The problem began 16 months ago with the dramatic seizure of 48,000 fruit tree cuttings by officials from MPI. . . 

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations:

Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the successful conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, saying trade agreements are critical to the ongoing success of export industries like horticulture. 

‘Last year, New Zealand exported more than $3.6 billion to 128 different export markets,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘This year, that figure is expected to grow by a further 3.8 percent.  Such high levels of growth can only be achieved if export trading conditions are supportive, and barriers to entry are reduced constantly.’  . . 

Successful conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations welcomed by Onions New Zealand:

Onions New Zealand welcomes the successful conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, saying trade agreements like these underpin the success of the New Zealand onion sector.

‘The RCEP covers trade among New Zealand and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries, except India.  That is, half the world’s population,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘Without reduced tariffs and clear trading arrangements, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like Asia and Australia. 

‘Agreements like these mean more onions can be exported with the higher returns going directly back into regional New Zealand communities. . . 


Rural round-up

13/10/2019

Farmers backed by court – Jono Edwards:

The Environment Court has backed Lindis River farmers and water users with a potentially precedent-setting minimum-flow decision.

In a ruling released this week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

This will cancel the limits set by Otago Regional Council-appointed commissioners of a minimum flow of 900 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1200 litres per second.

The catchment group is hailing the decision, having long said the original limits would be devastating for farmers and the local economy. . .

Fraser Whineray: a results-oriented business leader with a track record on decarbonisation – Point of Order:

Fonterra’s  board,  under   heavy  fire   for the losses racked up  in  the last two years,  may at last   be getting something  right.  Its recruitment of  Mercury’s  CEO Fraser Whineray to the newly created  post of  chief operating  officer   puts him in pole position to drive innovation,  efficiency, and  sustainability  in the co-op.

When he joins  Fonterra  next year  he will bring with him the credentials of having transformed Mercury,  simplifying the business  through the divestment of overseas interests and developing a  compelling strategy for  sustainable growth.

Harbour  Asset Management’s Shane Solly  said Whineray adds  “a  bit of grunt to the front row at Fonterra”. . . 

Time to modernize our biotech laws – Dr Parmjeet Parmar:

Biotechnology advancement has been rapid, and we’re being left behind due to our restrictive legislation, writes National List MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar.

Biotechnology is occurring all around the world and we need to have an informed discussion on how it could affect New Zealand.

Our legislation needs to be amended to ensure that we can make advancements that need made, while having a clearly regulated framework that mitigates risk.

Recently I announced alongside National Party Leader Simon Bridges, that National would make the required changes to the Hazardous Substances and Organisms (HSNO) Act should we be elected in 2020. . .

Government must focus on maintaining land’s productive capacity, says Horticulture New Zealand:

Moves by the Government to protect highly productive land must focus on maintaining the productive capacity of that land. 

‘We need a national policy that ensures New Zealand can grow enough vegetables and fruit to feed itself, now and in the future, and at affordable prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘That’s why we support the Government’s action to protect highly productive land.  However, policy makers must also remember that the land itself is only one factor in vegetable and fruit growing. 

‘Growers also need access to water for irrigation, they need to be able to apply sufficient fertilizer, and they need to be able to operate machinery like frost fans and infrastructure like packhouses, 24/7 depending on the time of the year.

‘If for any reason, growers cannot do this, they need to have the option to use the land for other purposes.’  . . 

Agribusinesses reap accelerator benefits :

Sprout accelerator is offering $500,000 to innovators from traditional agritech and future-food focused start-ups.

Eight will be selected to join the six-month accelerator starting in January.

The Accelerator offers $75,000 worth of business coaching, mentoring, network access and MBA style block courses.

Entrepreneurs will receive business mentoring and workshops from world-class business owners and directors from across the technology, agricultural and food industries.  . .

Stop the farm invasions inspired by Aussie Farms Map – Brian Ahmed:

OVER the past two months, the Victorian Parliament has listened to farmers about the impact of farm invasions on farming families, our industries, and our way of life.

As a chicken egg farmer myself, I presented to the inquiry last month along with my daughter, Danyel, who I hope will one day take over our family farm.

Danyel spoke with passion about her love of farming and desire to keep our multi-generational farm growing into the future. 

But, as Danyel told the inquiry, with the rise in farm invasions, she is too scared to live on the farm with her young family. . . 


Less food higher prices

08/10/2019

Vegetable growers have joined other primary producers in criticising the government’s freshwater proposals:

Vegetable prices could increase by as much as 58% by 2043, risking New Zealanders’ health, if central and local government policies that will stop new vegetable growing in New Zealand are accepted.

That’s the finding of a Deloitte report prepared for Horticulture New Zealand to balance debate around land use and freshwater quality. 

Deloitte found that if vegetable growers are prevented from expanding to keep up with demand, by 2043, New Zealanders could be paying as much as $5.54 in today’s money for a Pukekohe-grown lettuce, instead of about $3.50.

Sheep, beef and dairy farmers are worried about not being able to expand and fear having to contract which will reduce production and the supply of food.

‘Big increases in fresh vegetable prices will have a negative impact on the health of New Zealand’s most vulnerable communities,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

Increases in prices for dairy products, eggs, meat and milk will have a similar impact.

‘Already one in five children do not have enough healthy food to eat[1] while malnutrition rates in children and older New Zealanders are also increasing.[2]’ 

Mike says vegetable growing across the country is under a lot of pressure: competition for highly productive land, access to freshwater, climate change mitigation, the need to further protect the environment, and increasing government and council regulation. 

‘If all these pressures are not well-managed in a coordinated, long-term way, New Zealand-grown fresh vegetables will become a luxury that few can afford.  This will have a negative impact on most New Zealanders’ health, putting even more pressure on our health system.’ 

Mike says New Zealand needs to increase not decrease the growing of fresh vegetables.    

‘We must increase vegetable growing so we can feed New Zealanders now and in the future, and have a healthy population.

‘Access to new irrigation to expand vegetable, fruit, berry and nut growing needs to be maintained, as it is a win-win situation.’ 

Mike says that what New Zealand really needs is a food security policy. 

‘A move towards increased food self-sufficiency and increased domestic production will improve New Zealand’s ability to feed itself, making us less dependent on imports.  This move would also ensure that fresh fruit and vegetables are more affordable, which would have a positive impact on the health of all New Zealanders, especially those who are less well off.’

In June, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) welcomed a Ministry of Health report on food insecurity:

. . .The report, which is based on 2015-16 data, found that “children in food insecure households had poorer parent-rated health status, poorer nutrition, higher rates of overweight or obesity, asthma and behavioural or developmental difficulties” while “parents of children in food insecure households reported higher rates of psychological and parenting stress, as well as poorer self-rated health status.”

“The stress and strain of being able to provide adequately for a family, while surviving on a very low-income places enormous pressure on parents, and often a well-balanced diet is sacrificed,” says Professor Ashton. . . 

One of the group’s recommendations was to increase benefit levels. That will do nothing to help food security and the purchase power of the poor if concerns about proposals which reduce food production are realised.

It’s basic economics of supply and demand. If it becomes more difficult for horticulturalists and farmers to grow fruit, vegetables and other crops, and raise cattle, deer, pigs, poultry and sheep, they will produce less food and that will lead to higher prices.


Rural round-up

18/01/2018

Mycoplasma bovis is unlikely to go away – Keith Woodford:

It now seems likely that Mycoplasma bovis is in New Zealand to stay. Just like the rest of the world, we must learn how to live with it. We do not yet have to give up totally on hopes of eradication, but eradication is looking more and more unlikely.

The control program has suffered from incorrect information and poor communication, and there is much to be learned from that. These information flaws have affected farmer and public attitudes. In some cases, this has created additional and unnecessary stress, and unfair criticism of individuals.

However, the probability is that these flaws have not affected the success or failure of the eradication program. The chances are that Mycoplasma bovis has been here for some years, in which case eradication was always going to be impossible. . .

Plants dying as drought threatens vegetable and fruit supplies to shoppers – Pat Deavoll:

Droughts are threatening the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables on shopping shelves and storing water in dams would rectify this, says Horticulture New Zealand.

“Relying on water to fall from the sky simply isn’t enough,” said HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman. “HortNZ believes we should be more proactive in capturing and storing that water to ensure sustainability of supply during times of drought.”

Chapman said the dry conditions of early summer were putting fruit and vegetable growers under pressure to the point where some of them were having to make decisions about which plants and trees they would plant or harvest. . . 

Kiwi-born Nasa scientist for CSST – Pam Jones:

An award-winning Nasa scientist has been appointed director of research for the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST).

The appointment of Delwyn Moller was announced yesterday.

Dr Moller was born and raised in the Waikato, studied at the University of Auckland and went on to design and implement technology for Nasa space missions. She will be moving to Central Otago from Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

CSST chief executive Steve Cotter said Dr Moller’s contribution would be invaluable to CSST and to New Zealand as a whole. . . 

Ask a farmer, we don’t hate you – Pete Fitzherbert:

It must be so easy for the average New Zealander to just start again at the end of one year and begin another – make some resolutions, forget about them within the week, and then if you are feeling a little overweight just go down to the food court at the local mall and problem solved, because compared to the fatty at the smorgasbord you are an athlete!

It’s fair to say it is not as easy for your average farmer. Our seasons roll over without ever having a definitive start or finish.

So, what kind of New Year resolutions or hopes could we have? The best we can do sometimes is hope for the best, plan for the worst and the rest of the time play it as it lays.

Maybe we could hope the next year brings the chance to take off a couple of those public holidays.

Maybe hope for a totally average year in every way, or hope that we can farm, just farm, to the best the season presents us with without the public scrutiny that has begun to develop around agriculture.

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers? . . 

Fonterra partners with Alibaba’s Hema Fresh to launch fresh milk product into China:

Fonterra has launched a new fresh milk product in China in partnership with Hema Fresh, Alibaba’s innovative new retail concept which combines traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping with a digital experience.

The new Daily Fresh milk range is now available in Hema’s 14 stores in Shanghai and Suzhou in 750mL bottles, sourced directly from Fonterra’s farm hub in Hebei province. The product boasts unique product labels to match each day of the week in order to emphasise freshness, with stock being replenished overnight ready for each new day.

Initial volumes are currently around three metric tonnes daily, with plans to scale-up over time and expand with the retailer as it rapidly grows its footprint of stores across China. . . 

A blast from the Haast – NZ’s most isolated town – Sarah Harris:

Of the 240 people who call Haast home there’s one policeman, 13 students at the only school, one electrician who is trying to retire and no plumber. If one comes to town residents chase him down the road.

There’s also no doctor – one comes once a fortnight. If there’s a medicial emergency a helicopter can land on the school field.

A drive to the closest supermarket is two hours away and the nearest hospital in Greymouth is a four-hour drive or 90 minute flight. . . 

Can we keep our country shows alive? – Alex Druce:

IT’s been nearly two years since Wingham last held a country show and organisers are determined to get it right.

“We had to go back to the drawing board, and we’ve got some pretty exciting new things,” says press officer Elaine Turner. 

“For starters, there’s the piggy races. And the demolition derby is going to be on again too . Everyone loves that.” . . 


Water storage is the green answer to food shortages

18/01/2018

HorticultureNZ says drought is threatening food supply:

Water is vital for plants and trees to grow and New Zealand needs to better mitigate droughts that threaten our domestic supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“The dry conditions we have seen through early summer are putting fruit and vegetable growers under pressure to the point where some are having to make decisions about which plants and trees they may not be able to plant or harvest, and which may need to be left to die as scarce water supply is used to keep other plants alive,” Chapman says.

“No water means plants die and as a result, fresh fruit and vegetables are unavailable and prices go up because demand is higher than supply.

“Relying on water to fall from the sky simply isn’t enough. HortNZ believes we should be more proactive in capturing and storing that water to ensure sustainability of supply during times of drought.

“The best way to ensure adequate water supply to irrigate fruit and vegetable plants is to store water in dams. Dams also benefit streams and rivers by reducing flood risk and keeping flows up during dry periods, which protects aquatic life.

“There are benefits to every New Zealander from having a reliable water supply. But there are inconsistent policies across central and local government when it comes to water, land use, preparing for climate change goals, and community needs. We believe these should be looked at holistically.

“On the one hand the government wants a  Zero Carbon Act and to plant one billion more trees, but on the other hand, local authorities are increasingly putting pressure on water supplies, limiting water access for irrigation to grow food. There needs to be a wider national approach to these issues and support and recognition for regions that are addressing them as communities.

“For example, Horticulture New Zealand supports the Waimea Dam in the Tasman District and the proposal for it to be a joint venture with the territorial authorities. This is because there are broad community benefits from the dam in an area that is growing in population, and therefore, has a greater need for water supply for people as well as plants.

“The benefits of the dam include water for food security and primary production, security of water supply for urban water users, improved ecosystem health of the Waimea River, recreational benefits, regional economy benefits, business development and expansion, and more jobs.

“The Waimea Dam is the answer to everyone’s water needs in the district.”

Horticulture New Zealand’s submission on the Waimea Dam proposal for governance and funding can be found here

The emotive anti-farming green lobby paints irrigation as bad for the environment but it can be, and often is, good.

Irrigation is like precision rainfall – applied where and when it’s needed.

Storing excess water in times of flood and high river flows to use when there’s not enough rain ticks the economic, environmental and social boxes.

It ensures minimum flows can be maintained to protect water life, it allows plant growth to protect soil from erosion, it provides secure jobs and enables food to be grown during droughts.

Without irrigation farmers and horticulturists are at the mercy of the weather. When it’s dry they produce less food and as the supply drops the price increases which hits the poorest hardest.

There’s irony that many of those opposed to irrigation which enables the growth of fruit and vegetables are often the ones making the most noise about growing obesity.

More irrigation enables the production of food including fruit and vegetables which ought to form the basis of every-day diets. Without irrigation these foods become more expensive leaving the poor no choice but to purchase cheaper, less nutritious and more energy-dense food.

The anti-farming lobby must remove their blinkers and open their minds to the fact that water storage is the green answer to the problems of food shortages, poor diets and soil and water degradation.

 


Rural round-up

25/08/2017

Clues to cow disease spread – Hamish MacLean:

The South Canterbury farmer whose property was first identified as infected with Mycoplasma bovis now fears the disease might also be present further north.

Glenavy farmer Aad van Leeuwen’s comments come after the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced yesterday the cattle disease was present in Otago.

It had been hoped the outbreak, first detected on Mr van Leeuwen’s Bennetts Rd farm on July 22, and then on his nearby Dog Kennel Rd farm on July 31, was confined to the South Canterbury area.

MPI said blood test results from a farm in the Oamaru area – known to have had a ”direct connection” with the Bennetts Rd farm prior to its current lockdown – showed ”some animals have been infected with the disease”. . .

Flux-meter data relevant for south – Yvonne O’Hara:

Information on nutrient losses from the Foundation for Arable Research’s (Far) flux-meter data-collection project will have applications for Otago and Southland arable farmers.
Far heard earlier this month it had been given $485,168 for its

”Protecting our groundwater: measuring and managing diffuse nutrient losses from cropping systems” project from the Ministry for the Environment’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.

The $1million project has been under way for three years in partnership with HortNZ, Ravensdown, five regional councils and Plant and Food Research. The balance of funding comes from industry and regional council partners. . .

Record 2016/17 season recounted at Zespri AGM

Zespri reported to around 500 grower-shareholders today at its Annual Meeting on a record 2016/17 season, with global sales up 19 percent from last season to $2.26 billion on the back of exceptionally high yields.

Pool results
Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains the high yields and late start to the New Zealand season meant lower per-tray returns for Zespri Green but continued strong per-hectare returns for the Green business. . . 

New initiative prepares women for calf rearing:

Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson is on a mission to reduce the number of injuries to female calf rearers during the physically demanding calving season.

She’s created a six-week online conditioning and strengthening initiative for women to prepare their bodies for the physically gruelling calving season, which is currently under way in many parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of information out there about things like getting meals and the kids ready for calving season but not a lot about getting your body ready,” says Nicole, a mother of two young boys.

“Women are often involved in calf rearing and it’s really hard physical work. Women are often busy juggling kids and work so it’s hard for them sometimes to stay active and find time to work on their fitness . . .

The secret to cutting nitrogen leaching – Laurel Stowell:

Napier-based farming expert Barrie Ridler has some answers for farmers struggling to curb their nitrogen leaching.

Dairy farmers, especially in the Tararua District, are waiting to see how Horizons Regional Council reacts to the Environment Court’s April declarations – but are already under pressure to reduce the nitrogen they leach.

Mr Ridler says matching stock numbers to pasture growth is the secret, and keeping the two in balance will limit greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Youth scholarships help develop Ag careers – Esther Taunton:

A former Inglewood High School student is among the first recipients of a Silver Fern Farms Pasture to Plate Youth Scholarship.

Jake Jarman, who grew up on a central Taranaki dairy farm, will receive $5000 to help further his career in farming.

The scholarships are aimed at helping young people develop their careers in the red meat, food and farming industries and SFF chief executive Dean Hamilton said the talent emerging from applications indicated a bright future for the broader red meat sector. . .

 

No automatic alt text available.

I’m a farmer. I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I”m done.


Rural round-up

08/04/2016

Two new irrigation champions recognised:

Two New Zealand irrigation champions have been recognised with the awarding of the Ron Cocks Memorial Award to South Canterbury’s Robin Murphy and Central Otago’s Tony Banks.

Both men’s achievements were celebrated at IrrigationNZ’s biennial conference dinner last night in Oamaru. The event has drawn more than 400 people to the Waitaki District this week to tour local irrigation infrastructure, listen to global guest speakers address irrigation issues, attend technical workshops and view an industry expo with 52 exhibitors.

The former chairman of the Earnscleugh Irrigation Company, Tony Banks, was described as an outstanding leader in delivering the benefits of water to Central Otago. Tony has given 31 years of service to the scheme; more than half his working life and all in a voluntary capacity. . . 

Power to the people – Anee Hardie:

The power bill is a big expense for many farms. Anne Hardie talked to Franz Josef farmer Graeme Berry about using local resources to reduce that bill to zero.  

Water is an abundant resource around Graham Berry’s Franz Josef dairy farm, which prompted him to build a small hydro power scheme that now supplies all his electricity with enough extra to sell into the national grid and pay its cost.  

It was a lengthy exercise that took years to acquire the necessary consents and ended up costing nearly half a million dollars, but that extra power sold into the national grid pays the interest while the farm and dairy now pay zilch for electricity. . .

Carrfields wins Innovation Award for irrigator stabiliser:

Ashburton’s Carrfields Irrigation company has won 2016’s IrrigationNZ Innovation Award in association with Aqualinc for its innovative irrigator stabiliser.

The award was presented last night at the industry body’s national conference which has attracted more than 400 people to Waitaki District this week.

The HydroFix Irrigator Stabiliser System consists of a series of inflatable water tanks connected to a pulley and counterweight systems along the length of an irrigator. . . 

South America set to dominate beef trade – Allan Barrber:

Rabobank’s quarterly report on the global beef market maintains South American beef producers, particularly Brazil, will be the major influence on the beef trade in 2016.

The most notable features are expected to be an increase in China’s official imports which rose sharply by 60% last year, a decline in US imports and lower than usual Australian beef production. New Zealand’s cattle kill is forecast to be earlier and lower than 2015 because of the earlier dairy cull. Although the American beef kill is still at 20 year lows, high stocks of frozen product will continue to put a dampener on both prices and import volumes. . . 

Isolated negligence of one farmer does not reflect Colony farming practice:

Allegations by SAFE that Colony farming causes increased mortality and poor welfare among layer hens is being strongly rejected by the Egg Industry.

The Egg Producer Federation (EPF) has been working with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to investigate claimsmade by SAFE about one of its member farms.

SAFE broke into a member farm to obtain footage that the Industry said is an unacceptable, but isolated discovery.

“The welfare of the birds is our first priority, so this footage is most definitely disturbing. Investigations have shown this is the negligence of one farm, in an isolated incident that shows poor practice around cage checking and clearing. . . 

Judge Valley Dairies Judged Supreme Winner In 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Puahue dairy farmers John Hayward and Susan O’Regan are Supreme winners of the 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 7 (2016), the couple also collected the LIC Dairy Farm Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award.

Based on 245ha of flat to steep contour east of Te Awamutu, their operation, Judge Valley Dairies Ltd, was described by BFEA judges “as a highly productive farm that works well in a challenging landscape while balancing environmental care”. . . 

IrrigationNZ and Feds ask for scientific integrity:

IrrigationNZ and Federated Farmers say greater scrutiny of claims irrigation causes increased ‘rumbly-gut’ is needed, as recent assertions by Alison Dewes are not scientifically sound.

The industry bodies have joined forces to ask for improved scientific integrity when making claims in the media as “the validity of the argument around increased pathogen losses resulting from irrigation or water storage are not sound,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Our understanding is pathogen contamination of a water supply generally occurs through a direct pathway – a point source contamination. Neither irrigation nor water storage create pathogen issues, except through natural means, the increased birdlife around a water storage lake for example. The main causes of pathogen contamination are poor water treatment from domestic discharges or inadequately protected well- heads. ” says Mr Curtis. . .

International Agri-Group Digs Deep for Farm Community • Raising Over $40,000 for Rural School:

A $5,000 donation for catering and serving lunch for 130 of Australasia’s leading agribusiness professionals turned into an impromptu fundraising event recently – with a rural school of 36 students receiving over $40,000.

As part of its annual conference in Wellington, the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group visited a sheep farm and a dairy operation in the Wairarapa. The school children welcomed the delegation with a Kapa Haka followed by the serving of fresh, local produce including paua fritters, whitebait and crayfish for lunch. . . 

Ideal conditions for sowing:

If you haven’t sown your new pastures yet, there’s no better time than now to get seed into the ground.

Soil temperatures in many parts of the North Island and upper South Island are still mild – over 15 degrees C which is ideal for establishing most pasture species.

Perennial ryegrass or any short term ryegrass can be sown through to about Anzac Day, so that gives you plenty of options.

Early April is however too late for sowing pasture brome or fescue, because these species are sensitive to low soil temperatures. . . 

Report Shows Strong Future for Organic Products:

There’s good news for New Zealand’s organic fruit and vegetable growers in the report released today showing Kiwis are buying more organic product from their local supermarket.

The Organics Aotearoa Organic Market Report 2016 shows continuing growth in markets for organic fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly in supermarkets, up 127% in four years.

“What is good about that figure for horticulture is it shows shoppers are thinking more about what they put in their shopping trollies.

“That’s a good trend for all the producers serving the New Zealand domestic market,” HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman says.. . 

Weaker Dollar Moves Wool Up:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the slightly weaker New Zealand dollar compared to last weeks’ sale helped lift local prices, aided by strong support for a more stylish South Island selection suitable for greasy wool orders.

Of the 9,400 bales on offer, 91.6 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator was down 1.12 percent week on week.

Compared to the last time comparable wools were sold on 23rd March in the South Island Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and Shears were firm to 1.7 percent dearer. . . 

 

 

Farmers Are Awesome's photo.

Let’s also pay tribute to those farmers’ husbands/partners who work as hard or harder than their farmers.


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