Rural round-up

October 17, 2019

Celebrating Mt Dasher’s centenary – Sally Rae:

When the result of a ballot to determine ownership of the newly created Mt Dasher run was announced, it was a popular outcome.

The successful applicant among the returned servicemen was Robert (Roy) Mitchell, an accountant in Wright Stephenson and Co’s Oamaru branch whose left arm was amputated during World War 1.

“He was heartily congratulated when the result of the ballot was declared,” the Otago Daily Times reported in 1919.

Mt Dasher, just over 30km inland from Oamaru, came into being as a run in its own right when it was cut off the property known as The Dasher.

Both properties were then put up for ballot as two separate blocks for soldiers – 98 applications were received.  . . 

Farmer takes a stand over M Bovis – Annette Scott:

Graeme Kenny has been farming sheep and beef on his 320 hectare property at Geraldine for 30 years but the past 18 months have been with no income.

As a former livestock agent of more than 40 years buying and selling stock right across the South Island he knows the importance of keeping impeccable animal movement records.

That has been fortunate given he and his wife Denise are now grappling with the trauma of Mycoplasma bovis.

Worse still, Kenny says dealing with the incompetence, lack of transparency, communication and understanding from the Ministry for Primary Industries has created an absolute nightmare. . . 

New hopes amid ugly numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s 2019 financial year results were a contrast between big, ugly numbers and attractive plans and predictions in its new corporate strategy.

Nothing was going to take away the shock of a $605 million loss on top of a $196m loss the previous financial year.

More than $800m of write-downs and impairments had been signalled six weeks in advance and the reported loss was towards the lower end of the forecast $590m-$675m loss range.

Dividends had been cancelled for the year and Fonterra’s directors have vowed never to borrow to pay dividends in the future as they effectively did in the first half of FY2018. . . 

Southern beef herd growing the fastest – Sally Rae:

Southern farmers have played a major role in boosting New Zealand’s beef cattle herd which increased 2.6% in the year ending June 30.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand yesterday released its annual stock number survey which estimated there were now 3.8million beef cattle and 27.4million sheep in New Zealand. The sheep flock was up 0.4%.

Otago and Southland were the fastest-growing regions in beef cattle, up by 12.9% and 12% respectively, as strong prices encouraged farmers to maintain or lift herd sizes, the report said.

New Zealand’s breeding ewe flock dropped 1.1% to 16.97million and most regions decreased, largely driven by strong prices for cull ewes. . . 

Countdown says customers moving to plant-based protein –

Countdown is reporting a surge in consumer demand for alternative proteins.

The supermarket chain, which has 180 stores in New Zealand, said sales of dairy-free milk had risen 14 percent in the past six months, while the number of sales of dairy-free cheese had grown by more than 300 percent.

It said in the last year, demand for plant-based vegan and vegetarian meal solutions had increased 36 percent. . .

Pest control advice from a small Canadian twin: get stuffed – Mirjam Guesgen:

A small Canadian town has the weirdest answer to its pest problem – a museum of stuffed and costumed animal dioramas that has become a cult tourist attraction.

Possums, stoats and rats are giving our native birds grief, and the New Zealand government has outlined an ambitious plan to get rid of them. All of them. That’s some 30 million possums and lord only knows how many rats and stoats.

Which begs the question: Once these animals have been trapped or poisoned out of existence, what will we do with their furry little bodies?

One option might be to make dioramas starring stuffed versions of these villains, like they have in the hamlet of Torrington in Canada. . .

Pot producer CannTrust to destroy $77M in plants, inventory -Shanti S Nair:

 Canadian cannabis producer CannTrust Holdings said Monday it would destroy about $12 million worth of plants and about $65 million worth of inventory as part of a plan to regain full regulatory compliance.

Health Canada canceled CannTrust’s license to produce and sell cannabis in September, months after it found the company was illegally cultivating pot.

The inventory to be destroyed will include product returned by patients, distributors, and retailers, the company said in a release Monday. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 5, 2019

Reform plans created in silos – Colin Williscroft:

Environmental changes farmers are being forced to deal with were developed separately rather than in conjunction, Beef + Lamb environmental policy leader Corina Jordan says.

At the B+LNZ environment issues roadshow stop in Feilding Jordan said a lot of the work the proposed changes are based on was done in silos, with little or no thought about how they might affect each other or of the cumulative affect of everything happening at once.

“The full impact of the suite has not been considered,” she said.

“That’s not just at a farm level but also a community level.”

Proposals already announced as part of the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and essential freshwater package will soon be added to by a new biodiversity strategy.

Jordan said it looks like, when coming up with some of the proposals, the experiences of other countries trying to deal with the same problems have not been taken into account either. . . 

Farmers fear the unknown over freshwater water plans – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers are worried about proposed water policy changes, but their concerns are largely based on a fear of the unknown, says Northland dairy farmer Andrew Booth.

In recent weeks social media has been rife with comments from on-edge farmers, and small town halls packed to the rafters as officials have been quizzed over the proposals.

Environment Minister David Parker released them last month, saying the health and wellbeing of water would be put first when making decisions, “providing for essential human needs, such as drinking water, will be second, and all other uses will follow”. . . 

Farmers see authentic strategy – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmers have decried the bad results of 2019 while approving the transparency and logic of the strategy reset, co-operative affairs managing director Mike Cronin says.

Speaking after three of the shareholder roadshow meetings in the South Island he said farmers welcomed the new strategy as authentic and self-explanatory and, therefore, convincing.

“Some want more detail on how we got here but the overall impression is that the strategy is back to basics, co-operative, New Zealand milk and all those good things.” . . 

International wool award for Kiwi:

One of New Zealand’s longest-serving champions for New Zealand wool, John Dawson, has been awarded the prestigious International Wool Trade Co-operation Award.

The award was presented at the 31st Nanjing Wool Market Convention at Qufu in Shandong Province, China.

John Dawson is chief executive of New Zealand Wool Services International and chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests.

He was one of just six global wool industry leaders to receive the award and the only New Zealander. . . 

Texel stud happy with Scottish influence – Yvonne O’Hara:

The second crop of lambs on the ground from Scottish genetics are looking good, Texel stud breeder and farmer Brent Busby says.

”They came out with a kilt,” he said.

He and wife Heather own the Cromarty Texel Stud and run 110 pedigree registered Texel ewes on 20ha at Myross Bush, Invercargill, with a further 15ha leased.

”We have finished lambing early and have 170% tailed, (including a set of quads)” he said.

Mrs Busby said they imported semen from Scottish studs in 2018 and inseminated 18 ewes. . .

Sheep farmers ‘astonished’ over live export ban proposal :

Sheep farmers have highlighted their ‘astonishment’ over the government’s proposal to put in a place a live export ban once the UK leaves the EU.

Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers is proposing a ban on live exports of farm animals, stating that livestock should only be slaughtered at their most local abattoir.

A consultation will be created to gather opinion on the controversial proposal.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has already criticised the plan, saying that it ‘exposes a serious lack of knowledge’ of how the industry works.

The group adds that there is an ‘absence of awareness’ of transport related welfare research. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 14, 2019

Farmers feeling victimised by current government:

Farmers feel they are being dragged through the mud as continued environmental regulations are imposed on the sector.

An open letter has been sent to the Prime Minister this week asking for more consideration for the rural industry.

The letter says the Government’s approach to environmental policy is undermining the mental health and well-being of the pastoral sector . .

Govt freshwater proposals a blunt instrument for complex water problems:

The meat industry says the Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said they generally welcomed the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways.

“Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.” . . 

Foreign buyers circle dairy debt – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign hedge funds have approached the country’s largest rural lender about buying dairy loans the bank wants off its books.

It is understood a large international investment bank has flown in to sound out industry consultants on the potential for buying assets from the big banks, including loans to dairy farmers.

The international interest comes as the Australian-owned banks review their New Zealand operations in light of proposals from the Reserve Bank to significantly increase the amount of capital they must hold against their loans.

Feds plead for rates fairness – Hugh Stringleman:

Rating for revenue gathering by councils based on the salable value of farms is not a true assessment of ability to pay, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.

“It is a bit like assessing someone’s wealth on the basis of the car they drive,” she said in a forward to Federated Farmers Platform on the 2019 local government elections.

The federation makes no apology for focusing heavily on the cost of local government and how that cost is recovered. . . 

There are 600 jobseekers in Wairoa. Its major employer Affco meatworks wants to hire immigrants :

A leading Wairoa youth advocate hopes the town’s major employer will never have to use imported labour despite lodging an application with Immigration New Zealand for approval to hire overseas workers.

The application has been lodged by Affco Talley, current operators of a plant that has a history in the town dating back 103 years and employs hundreds of workers each year.

It’s opposed by the New Zealand Meatworkers Union, but Wairoa Young Achievers Trust youth service manager Denise Eaglesome-Karekare, who is also the town’s deputy mayor, has a goal to make sure any shortfall in the available labour force is still able to be filled by those in the town. . .

Vegan activists are tormenting farmers into quitting – Tim Blair:

Farms run as much on trust as they run on sweat, long hours and hard work.

By nature accessible and open, farms are not easily secured against destructive forces. That’s where the trust comes in. Farmers trust us not to damage their properties and livelihoods, and in exchange they feed and clothe us.

It’s a win-win social pact. Or at least it was, until the recent rise of militant veganism.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke last month described the torment caused by vegan and animal liberationist farm invasions. . .


Rural round-up

September 9, 2019

Accord improves water quality – Hugh Stringleman:

The country’s dairy farmers have made significant achievements in water quality over five years of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, DairyNZ says.

Over 98% of eligible waterways have been fenced to exclude cattle, a total of more than 24,000km of measured waterways.

Almost all, 99.8%, of 36,000 regular livestock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts.

Some 94% of the Accord’s 11,079 dairy farms, or 10,396 farms, had nutrient budgets in the 2017-18 season and just over half of farms with waterways have riparian management plans. . . 

MVM seeks investors as cashflow issues draw near– Brent Melville:

Infant formula producer Mataura Valley Milk (MVM) can pay its bills for about another month.

The Chinese-owned infant formula producer, which moved into production scarcely a year ago and recently began work on a $5million expansion to its McNab plant near Gore, needs an additional $12million in funding to cover expected production and operational costs for the next nine months.

At its current rate of expenditure, the company directors say it will exhaust its existing bank facilities during September.

In an assurance to company directors, creditors and staff, MVM’s financial statements for its first full reporting period to end December 2018, note that it has a letter of financial support from main shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG), valid for a period of 13 months from May 27, 2019. . . 

Seoul restaurant orders NZ goat– Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago goat meat will be on the menu at a new New Zealand-themed restaurant in Seoul, South Korea, next month, and more chevon suppliers are needed to meet expected future demand if franchise plans take off.

The yet to be named restaurant, is part of the Shilla Hotel business, and will be open at the end of October, with the launch to be televised.

In addition to New Zealand goat meat, it will offer beef and lamb as well as wine, initially from Shaky Bridge and Clyde Village vineyards.

New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd, which was recently launched by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra, has been contracted to supply the new restaurant with goat meat. . . 

Forest and Bird calls for Government funding to eradicate wallaby ‘plague’ – Giles Dexter:

It turns out possums aren’t the only Australian invaders posing a major threat to New Zealand’s ecosystem.

The wallaby population is reaching plague levels in some regions, and if nothing is done, the marsupials could cost the country $84 million a year in economic losses.

“In Australia, they’re native. There, it’s a completely different thing. They’re supposed to be there, they’re not supposed to be in New Zealand,” says Forest and Bird’s central North Island regional manager Dr Rebecca Stirnemann. . . 

New owners but training role remains

In a win-win for the Rangitikei farming community and farm-based training, Otiwhiti Station is staying in local hands.

The property was put on the market in June and there were fears its sale could lead to the closure of its training school, which has been operating since 2007.

But it is business as usual for the 1679ha station near Hunterville after a group of local farmers and business people got together and bought the property for an undisclosed price.

The group’s was one of four tenders received for the property. . . 

Northland school’s lambe creche a great learning opportunity – Susan Botting:

Maungatapere School families are getting lambs from as far away as South Auckland for this year’s Ag Day due to a national shortage.

Lambs are typically sourced locally but this year are coming from as far afield as South Auckland, more than 185km away.

Increased demand for lambs because of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, fewer lambs produced than in previous years and later-than-usual lambing are among reasons for the shortage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 8, 2019

Who needs the Greens when Labour hates farmers this much? – Mike Hosking:

Here’s the irony of David Parker. Parker was once the Minister of Economic Development and is currently the Minister of Trade and Export Growth – and yet he has done more than anyone these past two weeks to achieve exactly the opposite.

It was Parker who stopped the hydro dam on the West Coast despite every council, three of them, iwi, the Department of Conservation and 90 per cent of Coasters all being for it.

And now he’s put out water regulations that may as well come with the headline ‘we hate farmers’.

Tim Mackle’s piece in the Herald on this subject is excellent. It basically starts with him wistfully remembering a time when farmers were liked. Well I have a message to rural New Zealand: you still are, at least by people like me, realists who understand the energy, effort, and risk required to do what you do. . . 

The waters are rising on farming – Kerry Worsnop:

The release of the Essential Freshwater Report, ‘Action for Healthy Waterways’ will undoubtable add further turbulence to an already stormy torrent of proposed Central Government policy effecting Regional Councils and land based industries.

The report’s stated intention is to ‘stop the further degradation of New Zealand’s Freshwater resources and start making immediate improvements so that water quality is materially improving within 5 years’.  The reference to immediacy is no idle threat, with Regional Councils being expected to comply with many of the proposals by June 2020.

No one can argue with the intent of the report, and few would negate the importance of prioritising our greatest natural resource, however the scope and likely implications of the report will be a topic of much discussion in the coming weeks and months. . .

Forgotten aspects of water – Mike Chapman . .

The Government released its consultation on freshwater this week (click here).  We are now busy analysing it in detail and it is really too early to reach a view about the ultimate impact, especially before the consultation. 

Two of the background documents also released make interesting reading and provide insight into the thinking behind these proposals.  Te Kāhui Wai’s recommendations are strident.  They go to the core of the water issues facing New Zealand including: iwi/hapu water rights, a moratorium on additional discharges for the next 10 years, establishing a Te Mana o te Wai Commission, and developing a new water allocation system that conforms with iwi/hapu rights and obligations. 

The Freshwater Leaders Group’s recommendations include: bringing our water resources to a healthy state within a generation, taking immediate steps to stop our water becoming worse, and achieving an efficient and fair allocation system.  They also recommend an immediate stop to poor agricultural and forestry practices, and a complete halt to the loss of wetlands.  In summary, the reports are very similar in the outcomes they are seeking – immediate action to stop further degradation.

In all I’ve read, missing is how much water New Zealand gets each year and how much use we make of that water.  NIWA figures show that 80% of our water flows out to sea, 18% evaporates and only 2% is used.  My point is that there is more than enough water for everyone.  The problem is we are not being smart in our use of water and we are not planning for the impact of climate change – long dry summers.  . . .

Time for change – Neal Wallace:

A one-size-fits-all approach to freshwater management will penalise farmers shrinking their environment footprint, Beef + Lamb chairman Andrew Morrison says.

Farmers, like everyone, want clean, fresh water but the blanket regulatory approach in the Government’s Action for Health Waterways discussion document lumps those who have cut their footprint with those who haven’t.

Federated Farmers’ reaction was scathing.

Water spokesman Chris Allan said proposed nitrogen reduction targets of 80% mean farming will cease in large parts of rural New Zealand. . .

Fonterra’s clean-out is overdue – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholder with the largest number of shares believes the co-operative’s house cleaning and write-downs are absolutely necessary and overdue.

Former director Colin Armer, who with his wife Dale has 10 million supply shares, says over-valued assets mean farmers sharing-up in the past four years paid too much.

He has made a formal complaint to the Financial Markets Authority over inconsistent valuations and executive performance payments. . .

Irrigating farmers record better enviro audit grades – Nigel Malthus:

Irrigating farmers in the Amuri district in North Canterbury are continuing to record improved environmental performance.

The latest round of Farm Environment Plan audits by the Amuri Irrigation Environmental Collective have given 97% of the farmers collective A or B grades, the remaining 3% a C grade and none a D.

That contrasts with 20% rated as C and 6% as D in the first round of collective audits four years ago. . .


Rural round-up

August 31, 2019

Farmers’ efforts to be rewarded – Neal Wallace:

The sheep and beef sector will soon learn if it is carbon neutral while the Government moves to let farmers offset their emissions.

Beef + Lamb chief insight officer Jeremy Baker believes some sheep and beef farmers are probably carbon neutral given their areas of native bush and tree plantations but they are not formally recognised.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw is asking his officials how existing carbon sequestration on farms can be recognised.

“The Government wants to see a system where positive choices farmers make that are good for the climate are recognised. . . 

Targets missed – Hugh Stringleman:

So will axe swing on Fonterra staff?

Dairy farmers and Fonterra unit investors must be prepared for more bad news from the co-operative on September 12 when the 2019 annual results are disclosed.

The directors and the senior management team have not yet achieved the major targets set by then-interim chief executive Miles Hurrell a year ago.

They were to reduce debt by $800 million, to reduce operating expenses to the level of 2017 and to achieve a return on capital of at least 7%.

His nominated target date was July 31 this year for the debt reduction and July 31 next year for the opex cuts and ROC. . . 

Research: old age in rural New Zealand:

A new study reveals what our oldest of old people need to be able to live independently in small rural communities.  In a first, research carried out by AUT shows what people aged over 85 (our fastest growing older adult group) most need to be able to confidently get to and from opportunities to socialise.  Lynn Freeman speaks with research lead Professor of Well-being and Ageing at AUT Stephen Neville.  The research is published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Wellbeing. . . 

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater to be saved every day :

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater (about the same as 18 milk tanker loads) will be saved every day thanks to the development and installation of a ground-breaking reclaimed water system at the local Fonterra site.

The site team came up with an innovative way to reuse water from condensation that’s produced during the milk powder manufacturing process. Robert Spurway, Fonterra’s COO Global Operations, says the water-saving initiative is a testament to the Pahiatua team’s innovative and can-do approach to sustainability.

“Pahiatua is already Fonterra New Zealand’s most water efficient site, and some clever thinking has taken it to the next level.” 

Simon Gourley is The Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year:

Congratulations to Simon Gourley for taking out the prestigious title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019. Simon was representing Central Otago and is Viticulturist at Domaine Thomson.

This is the second year running the trophy has been taken down to Central Otago and the third time in total since the competition started in 2006. Annabel Bulk won the competition in 2018 and Nick Paulin in 2011.

Congratulations also goes to Ben Richards from Indevin in Marlborough who came a very close second. . . 

 

How does a vegetarian defend beef? – Zinta Aistars:

Here’s how Nicolette Hahn Niman shoots down the arguments against eating beef.

One doesn’t usually think of eating as a political act, let alone a revolutionary one, but for many, what lands on the dinner plate not only provides nourishment, but also has become a means for saving the planet. What should and should not land on that plate and how it gets there is where the controversy, and the politics, begin.

Kalamazoo native Nicolette Hahn Niman is an environmental lawyer, rancher, food activist, and vegetarian. She stirs up something of a revolution in her controversial new book, Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production, The Manifesto of an Environmental Lawyer and Vegetarian Turned Cattle Rancher, published by Chelsea Green in October 2014.

Hahn Niman’s first book, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms (William Morrow, 2009), paves the path to her current work. Porkchop is an exposé of what ails BigAg, or big agriculture, the factory farms that Hahn Niman points out as major polluters across the planet, contributing to climate change, to the detriment of everyone’s health. It is also her love story, as vegetarian meets cattle rancher, Bill Niman, joining forces in marriage and business. . .


Rural round-up

August 9, 2019

Plans to expand dairy farm school into Oamaru – Gus Patterson:

It will not just be pilots training at Oamaru Airport next year.

The National Trade Academy (NTA) has announced plans to establish a dairy farm school at the airport, next to the NTA-affiliated New Zealand Airline Academy.

The dairy farm school, which is expected to become operational next March, will take up to 11 students in each intake and teach them the basics of dairy farming during a 12 week course, getting them ready to fill the labour shortages on farms in Canterbury and Otago.

Initially, the school would aim to train between 30 and 40 students a year, with a classroom at the airport and surrounding farms used for practical aspects, NTA managing director Craig Musson said. . .

Big turnout and ‘fabulous’ response to Will to Live tour – Yvonne O’Hara:

The importance of ”speaking up” when feeling depressed or down, is emphasised at each of Elle Perriam’s Will to Live Speak Up meetings, two of which were held in Winton and Balclutha last week.

Ms Perriam’s boyfriend Will Gregory took his own life in 2017.

She, her sisters Kate and Sarah and others, raised money to undertake a tour of nearly 20 small rural venues throughout New Zealand to promote the importance of ”speaking up” about mental health issues.

Will’s dog Jess is the tour’s mascot. . .

Cadet scheme gets started in Northland – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland livestock farmers have been challenged to offer farm cadetships to address what they say is a persistent problem of unfilled farming vacancies.

Whangarei A&P Society has devised a modern live-in, on-farm training course called a farm intern programme and 50 farmers have responded, 20 of them willing to start next year.

“Northland farmers say they can’t find trained farm staff so this is their opportunity to do something about it,” society manager Chris Mason said.

The new course was conceived by the A&P Society with input from former Federated Farmers field officer and agricultural tutor Malcolm Fuller and the resources of NZ Land-Based Training, an established private education provider in Whanganui.  . . 

What beyond meat investors should know – Richard Berman:

Following its initial public offering (IPO) in May, the alternative meat company Beyond Meat has seen its stock skyrocket. This week, the share price climbed past $230, putting the company’s valuation above $13 billion, as the market anticipated its upcoming quarterly earnings. That’s billion with a “B,” as they say. 

Here’s another “B” word: Beware. Despite all of the hype, there’s a soft side to Beyond Meat’s underbelly. 

Beyond Meat’s valuation is greater than the entire U.S. market for all plant-based foods — which are produced by dozens of companies. It’s also bigger than Wendy’s, Shake Shack, Red Robin and Jack in the Box— combined. This is perplexing given that, in the words of one analyst, Beyond Meat is merely “a small maker of fake-meat hamburgers and hot dogs.” The company reported $67 million in sales and $6.6 million in losses last quarter after a decade in business. . .

Unique farming technique brings splash of colour :

A Yorkshire farmer has used a unique farming technique to turn 74-acres of his land into an impressive wildflower woodland.

A picture perfect swathe of wildflowers has swept across farmland close to York, but the scene does not tell the whole story.

The flowers are blooming as the result of Alwyn Craven and his mother, who own more than 120-acres of land at Home Farm, at Huby, and are turning most of it over to nature.

As well as planting hundreds of trees, they are using a technique known as “soil inversion” – using a one metre deep plough to turn over the soil burying weed seeds and fertile soil. . .

Leaft Foods announces plans to produce protein from leafy crops:

• Plant protein ingredients company, Leaft Foods has been launched in Canterbury by Dr John Leyland Penno and Maury Leyland Penno

• Leaft Foods are combining existing and new technology with the aim of producing a range of high value leaf protein concentrate ingredients for leading food companies around the world

• The paddock to product business seeks to play a role in agricultural sector transformation, partnering with farmers to reduce on-farm net emissions, targeting nitrogen and methane. . . 

 


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