Rural round-up

11/09/2021

No sector agreement on new methane target – David Anderson:

Despite agreement among farm industry bodies that the current methane targets for the sector are excessive, not based on science and need to be changed, there is currently no plan in place to achieve this.

That’s the claim of agricultural consultant Steven Cranston, following a recent meeting of pan sector voices with Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

Cranston says one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, organised by North Otago farmer Jane Smith and held in Wellington last month, was the lack of a coherent strategy to get the methane emissions reduction target reduced (currently 24 to 47% by 2050). . . 

Visa frustrations push Timaru dairy worker towards Australia – Chris Tobin:

Ariel Ocon has been working on South Island dairy farms for 13 years, but visa frustrations have him seriously considering heading to Australia with his family.

“To stay here legally I had to apply for a work to residence visa. They (Immigration NZ) said you will wait for 16 months from the time you applied. I applied in 2019, and I’m still waiting,” Ocon, who works on a farmer near Timaru, said.

“I just received an email from them saying in two months they would allocate a case officer to process my application. I still haven’t got a case officer.”

Ocon’s frustration comes as Australia has provided financial incentives attempting to attract New Zealand immigrant dairy workers to relocate there. Ocon knows other Filipino workers who have already opted to leave. . . 

Animal welfare crisis looms as Minister butchers opportunity :

An animal welfare crisis is looming as Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor fails to pay attention to what’s going on around him, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Last year, during the first Covid lockdown, the Government spent $5.8 million buying 12,000 pig carcasses from overstocked farms and donating them to charity.

“If they hadn’t done this, we would have had an animal welfare problem of significant scale on our hands.

“Now the issue is looming again in this current lockdown and Minister O’Connor is missing in action.

“The Government’s stubborn refusal to allow butcher shops to open during all Covid levels is based on the reasoning that they are riskier than standing in a queue, or shopping at, supermarkets and dairies. . . 

Native trees to be planted on unusable forestry land to protect waterways – Bonnie Flaws:

One of the country’s largest forestry plantation owners, Aratu Forests, has signed a 90-year agreement with eLandNZ to plant native trees on unusable land, creating permanent buffers alongside waterways.

The partnership, brokered by law firm Anderson Lloyd, plans to stop forestry waste, such as logs, from being washed into waterways by planting native trees on otherwise unusable stretches of land across 33,000 hectares of forestry plantation, mostly in the Gisborne region, forestry law specialist Dan Williams​ said.

About 170 ha of riparian land would be planted this year, according to the eLandNZ website. . . 

Avocado exports face headwinds this year – Hugh Stringleman:

Avocado growers have been told to expect substantial falls in orchard gate returns (OGR) for their fruit harvested this spring and summer, mainly because of avocado oversupply in Australia.

The average price per 5.5kg tray across all sizes will be well down on the average OGRs for the past five years of $23 for fruit that was exported.

Last season was particularly good for growers, who received $26/tray and $42,000/ha OGR across slightly more than 4000ha in production, half of which is in Bay of Plenty.

Primor chief executive John Carroll says the new export season began on September 1, with some air freight to Asian markets and the first shipments to Australian supermarkets. Primor is a partner in the joint venture company Avoco, the majority exporter of avocados. .

No waster farm to plate – Rebecca Fox:

After his first visit to Queenstown, chef Ryan Henley said to himself  that is where he would retire to. But he has not had to wait that long, Rebecca Fox discovers.

Ryan Henley has his butcher’s knife out and is about to start cutting up a side of wagyu beef that has just arrived.

It is an unusual sight in a hotel kitchen to see a 400kg side of beef lying there.

But Henley would not have it any other way. His new job as executive chef at QT Queenstown means he can call the shots.

That means following his no-wastage, farm-to-plate ethos and dealing direct with producers, preferably as local as possible. . .

 

Farm alarm as more taxes spent launching another fake meat company – Chris McLennan:

Another big government authority has spent millions of taxpayer money to launch a fake meat company.

This time it is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has spent $5 million to support Sydney-based startup All G Foods through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

All G Foods plans to soon have plant-based and alternative proteins on the shelves of national supermarket chain IGA including mince, sausages, chicken, bacon and animal-free dairy products.

The new company won $16 million in seed funding. . .


Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


Rural round-up

20/06/2021

Canty navigates post-flood infrastructure woes – Annette Scott:

Time is ticking for high country farmers rebuilding access infrastructure to get stock off their properties before the snow sets in.

Ravaged by the Canterbury flood event, three weeks on and high country farmers are grappling with greater than usual isolation as they wait for washed out roads and bridges to be repaired.

The biggest concern being to get stock out before the snow sets in.

“Usually in the first three weeks of June we would have had our first decent snow dump,” Erewhon Station farmer Colin Drummond said. . .

How will be Beef and Lamb vote break? – David Anderson:

Farmers around the country will vote soon on whether or not Beef+Lamb NZ will retain its right to continue to levy them and fund its operations.

However, BLNZ is facing a battle as it fights against typical farmer apathy when it comes to such votes, and a growing level of discontent among its levy payer about the industry organisation’s performance. David Anderson looks into the issues…

The powerbrokers at Beef+Lamb NZ may very well have a feeling of déjà vu with the organisation facing growing intensitities of farmer disgruntlement as its levy vote fast approaches. . . 

Supply chain drag on US beef bonanza – Hugh Stringleman:

Strong imported manufacturing beef demand and high prices in the United States are not being passed fully through to cattle farmers in New Zealand.

The US market is paying US$2.90 a pound for imported 95CL bull beef (NZ$8.95/kg cif) compared with US$2.66 this time last year.

The big difference in the comparison is the higher conversion value of the NZ dollar, currently US72c compared with 62c last June.

That impact alone is unfavourable by $300 a head, a Silver Fern Farms (SFF) spokesperson said. . . 

Intensive sheep and beef provides cash but wealth depends on capital gain – Keith Woodford:

Intensive sheep farms have been squeezed by dairy and are now drifting to beef with wool right out of the money

 This is the third article in a series investigating New Zealand’s pastoral sheep and beef farms. The first one was an overview of New Zealand’s 9200 commercial sheep and beef farms, and how the pastoral-farming area has declined over the last 30 years.  The second article focused on the North Island hill and hard-hill country, now comprising approximately 4000 of these 9200 commercial farms. On those hill farms, key issues are land-use competition between pastoralism and production forestry, combined with retirement of the tougher country for carbon farming.

This time my focus is on the 4400 intensive farms spanning both North and South Islands.They are classified by Beef+Lamb as Classes 5-8, with Class 5 being the in the North Island and Classes 6-8 being in the South Island. That leaves 200 high-country and 600 South Island hill-country farms that need their own analysis, but that will have to wait. . .

New Zealand has real opportunity to be a world leader in agritech:

TIN’s second annual Agritech Insights Report offers significant analysis of New Zealand’s Agricultural Technology export sector

Technology Investment Network (TIN) has released its second annual NZ Agritech Insights Report, providing compelling analysis of the size and scope of New Zealand’s leading agritech export companies, and the pipeline of promising Early Stage agritech companies.

Launched at Fieldays yesterday, the report provides a closer look into NZ’s agricultural technology sector based on data from TIN’s 2020 survey results, including size and significance, key export markets, investment challenges and opportunities, along with a comprehensive directory of over 110 early stage Agritech companies currently developing their own IP in New Zealand.

The Agritech Insights Report was first commissioned in 2020 to provide a baseline of data on New Zealand’s growing agritech export sector as the New Zealand Government launched its Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP). . . 

Pet milk formula new gold rush? Announcing world’s most comprehensive  series of goat milk formula for cats and dogs :

In the early 2000s, demand for infant formula skyrocketed. New Zealand has enjoyed a new export revenue stream since. Peaked in 2013, export value was over $700m a year for New Zealand and over 200 brands were entered the market to compete for limited manufacturing capacity.

The playing field was late restricted largely to few big players, especially these with own factories, following policy changes in China. Despite of the restrictions, New Zealand still enjoys steady export revenue in infant formula today.

Could pet milk formula be the next gold mine for New Zealand? “Yes, it’s entirely possible. “, said James Gu, one of the founders of PetNZ Ltd and creators of the PetNZC brand. . .


Rural round-up

31/05/2021

Stringing bells in glasshouses – Hugh Stringleman:

A business that began in a field in Matakana has grown into a global operation with a sophisticated glasshouse enterprise producing seven million capsicums a year. Hugh Stringleman found out how they do it.

Southern Paprika (SPL) of Warkworth is the largest single-site glasshouse grower of capsicums in New Zealand, with nearly one million plants at any one time under 26ha of cover.

Each bell pepper plant produces 40 fruit per season, as the plants grow up strings to 4m in height.

It’s called Southern Paprika because it is in the Southern Hemisphere and paprika is the Northern Hemisphere word for capsicum. . .

Bootcamps and mental health events target Young Farmers:

A new initiative is being funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

NZ Young Farmers has been allocated $40,000 to organise events in seven regional areas featuring guest speakers, activities, and skill-building sessions.

“It’s important we continue our efforts to give people the skills to look after their wellbeing, manage stress and to recognise and openly talk about mental health,” says MPI’s director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of 70 clubs, which provide an opportunity for young people to make friends, network, upskill and socialise. . . 

Farming flavour: chocolate and chilies – Country Life:

Feeding the farm crew at docking time, even as a child, was no problem for Johnty Tatham.

Things culinary have been the 24-year-old’s passion for a while.

Now he’s handcrafting chocolate from a cottage on the family farm and his sleekly packaged Lucid Chocolatier products can be found at top-notch Wellington restaurants and artisan chocolate shops.

Johnty and his brother Paddy are back on the Tatham’s sheep and beef farm in coastal Wairarapa forging new paths in the food industry. . .

Study suggests sheep milk farms produce 50pc less nitrogen water pollution :

Sheep milk farms could produce up to 50 percent less nitrogen loss to water compared to regular dairy farms new research shows.

Carried out by AgResearch, the study was done to better understand the environmental impacts of sheep dairy farms.

Although still comparably small to the regular dairy industry, the dairy sheep industry is quickly growing.

There are 17,000 dairy sheep in New Zealand with another 8000 being introduced next season. . .

 

New technology shown to improve pasture growth without harming the environment:

Many of us are just beginning to understand how soils [and soil fertility] truly work. The dominant model, developed 150 years ago by chemists in Germany has been popularised, used very widely and successfully. This model says: “You have a soil that is deficient in nutrients. You are growing a plant that needs the nutrients to achieve full production. Nutrients or fertilisers are applied to correct the imbalance. If you have multiple deficiencies, then you may apply a cocktail of nutrients and fertilisers to address the balance”. Note that in this model the microbiological elements are ignored. More nutrients and chemicals are applied. The soil biology gets hammered. More maintenance nutrients are required – and so the costly circle continues.

The problem with this model is that it is deficient. It misses the critical component of soil microbiology. This has been substantially invisible until recently, when we have had a new tool, DNA to aid study. When you start to look at the interaction of soil microbiology, it has been a largely invisible third party in agriculture. In forestry it has long been known that nutrient deficiencies in plants can be solved by micro biology. Pine trees need mycorrhizal fungi. Without the fungi, the Pine tree doesn’t grow. . .

Packaging-free milk flowing at shared workspace:

An innovative milk processing system developed by Christchurch startup, Happy Cow Milk, is delivering packaging-free Saltworks co-working space.

Happy Cow Milk raised $400k in an equity crowdfund in 2019 to develop its revolutionary “milk factory in a box”. This system allows any farmer to be a fully compliant milk producer and any cafe, workplace or even school to be a retailer.

Founder Glen Herud says the dairy industry needs disruption. “The current system rewards large-scale farming over small, family farms. Happy Cow wants to replace the complicated milk supply chain system to allow farmers to connect and sell milk to their local communities – because we know that sustainable milk is local milk.” . . 

Wairarapa’s Olive Black wins gold at prestigious New York competition:

Award-winning olive oil producer Olive Black is elated New Zealand olive oils are being noticed globally, as the company wins gold at the New York International Olive Competition.

Hot on the heels of winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards 2020, for its extra virgin olive oil, Wairarapa olive grower, Olive Black, now also has a gold medal from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

This year, there was a record 1100 entries from 28 countries in the New York competition and Olive Black manager Mark Bunny says he is absolutely fizzing. . . 


Rural round-up

17/05/2021

Aerial inspection proves farmers well prepared for winter grazing – Peter Burke:

Environment Southland says it’s had good support from the farming community for its fly-over of farms in the region checking there is compliance for the upcoming winter grazing season.

Winter grazing has been in the spotlight in recent years with bad examples of this being highlighted in the media resulting in a major move to get farmers to adopt better management practices when managing stock grazing crops.

Fiona Young, Environment Southland’s land and water services manager, says last year the regional council overflew farms and they were encouraged to do it again by the farming community. She says they recognise that it is a really positive way to reinforce what needs to happen or to highlight potential problems before they happen.

Sustainability, good team helps build better farmers’ :

Dairy Woman of the Year for 2019, Trish Rankin, says sustainable practices and picking the best team have helped her become a better farmer.

“Every year I’ve got more and more involved not just in our own farming business but all these other passions too – the environment, DairyNZ and helping develop waste reduction projects, working with AgRecovery,” says Ranking.

“As I’ve found more gaps where I can help solve a problem, I’ve been happily developing them all.”

Rankin believes that part of looking after the land means striving towards a circular economy. . . 

Risky processes hamper M bovis efforts – Annette Scott:

More than three years in and the Mycoplasma bovis programme is still seeing farming practices that contribute to the spread of the disease.

Insecure property boundaries, mixing cattle on grazing blocks, not recording on and off farm animal movements, sharing milk and colostrum for calves between properties, single NAIT numbers for multiple properties and not recording cattle movements between those properties, shared milking platforms, and inconsistent information from farmers, continue to be risky farming practices that need to change, M bovis programme director Stuart Anderson said.

The M bovis programme has expanded the National Beed Cattle Surveillance project to target surveillance of 2019-born heifers in Canterbury, Otago and Southland.  . . 

The pros and cons of fake meat – Nicola Dennis:

Nicola Dennis examines the different categories of fake meat, including meat grown in a lab and plant based products that look like meat.

I find the fake meat “revolution” fascinating. Not because I am scared that it is going to wipe out the animal agriculture industry and leave me living in a cardboard box. In the unlikely event that the very vocal vegan minority overthrows the other 97-99% of the population, I plan to land on my feet. You were open-minded enough to read one paragraph deep into an article that might say nice things about fake meat, so I think you will also do okay in the vegetable uprising.

No, this immense mash of science and marketing is interesting all on its own, regardless of the supposed threat to my occupation. Plus it’s not all bad news.

Let’s look at the three main categories of meat fakery and what they bring to the table. . .

Mission accomplished for Bremworth’s top man – Hugh Stringleman:

Paul Alston’s departure from the job of Cavalier Corporation chief executive should not reflect poorly on the company’s all-in change in strategy to sustainable natural fibres in carpets and rugs. He spoke to Hugh Stringleman.

Cavalier Bremworth has been redirected on to the crest of a wave of product sustainability running through consumer markets for interior textiles.

Plastics and synthetics have become increasingly decried for their carbon footprints and waste pollution. 

Wool is natural, renewable, recyclable and sustainable. . .

Victorian wins National Kelpie Field Trial Championship :

For the first time in more than 50 years of working dog competitions for the kelpie breed, a woman has won the prestigious Working Kelpie Council National Kelpie Field Trial Championship.

At 26-years-old Bree Cudmore is not only the first woman to win the coveted Australian title, she is also one of the youngest competitors to claim the top honour.

What’s more she secured the win with the first dog she has ever owned.

The Victorian-based livestock overseer stole the spotlight at the 51st championships hosted in Allora, Queensland, after a standout partnership with her four-year-old kelpie, Marista Zoe. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/05/2021

Fonterra floats deep reform – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra may be reformed with farmer-only shares of lower value and a share standard reduced by one-for-four in the preferred new capital structure.

Six months of consultation have begun on options to change the structure to give farmers greater financial flexibility.

If a general agreement emerges, shareholders could vote on a new structure at the November annual meeting where 75% majority approval would be required.

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (FSF), the mirror market which sets the value of supply shares, has been temporarily capped in size and may disappear in the future. . . 

Water to transform mid-north – Huigh Stringleman:

The first community water storage and irrigation scheme to be built in Northland for more than 30 years is taking shape on higher ground northeast of Kaikohe.

Diggers and earthmovers are about to begin the footings of an earth dam to define Matawii reservoir, which will be filled by rainfall from streams and drains in the small catchment when the flow rate is above median.

Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust (TTTWT) is building the dam to retain 750,000 cubic metres of water when full on 18ha of former dairy farm off State Highway 12 near Ngāwhā Springs, in the region locals call the Mid-North.

It will then build the infrastructure to distribute the water to private and corporate users in the district, including augmenting the Kaikohe town water supply. . .

50 years in shearing shed enough – Alice Scott:

Owen Rowland might have just celebrated his retirement after 50 years in the shearing shed — but he’s quick to point out he only did 49 on the handpiece.

Shearing is in the Rowland family blood. His father and uncle both shore their way into farm ownership, buying land at Enfield.

He can recall as a young fellow heading off to sit an exam at school.

“My uncle yelled out to not take too long so I could get back into the shearing shed, so I just went in, signed my name on the sheet and walked out again. And I have been shearing ever since.”   . . .

Merino shears found looking forward to 60th anniversary – Jared Morgan:

The New Zealand Merino Shears turns 60 in October and front and centre at the celebrations will be one of its founders.

The Alexandra man is the last of three, the late Brent Gow and the late Fred McSkimming, who “started the thing”.

He had, in part, been inspired by the exploits of Godfrey Bowen whom a British newspaper described as “shearing with the grace of [Rudolph] Nureyev’s dancing”.

Now aged 94, Mr Dreckow remembers being less impressed . . 

Lands of lonlieness the unbearable pressure of farm life – Nadine Porter:

Young farmworkers continue to be disproportionately represented in farm suicide figures despite higher awareness of mental health issues. A Stuff investigation by NADINE PORTER considers whether the isolation of farm life can exacerbate problems in vulnerable young men.

By the time Mark (not his real name) attempted to end his life, his farm job had all but consumed him.

Grafting 15 hours most days on an isolated West Coast property as a dairy farm manager and then as a contract milker, he had little time to deal with the thoughts in his head.

Employing staff, handling costs and organising day to day management of the farm was part of the plan to get ahead financially, but it also led to him becoming self-absorbed and distant from his wife and children. . . 

We’re on track to set a record for global record consumption – Dan Blaustein-Rejto and Alex Smith:

Bill Gates made headlines earlier this year for saying that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef” in an interview with MIT Technology Review about the release of his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. Although he recognized the political difficulty of telling Americans they can’t eat any more red meat, Gates said he sees real potential in plant-based alternatives from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Nevertheless, the world is expected to eat more meat in 2021 than ever before. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization projects that global meat consumption will rise by more than 1% this year. The fastest growth will occur in low- and middle-income countries, where incomes are steadily climbing. . .


Rural round-up

09/05/2021

McBride leads Fonterra with the heart – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra chair Peter McBride has jumped into the biggest job of his considerable co-operative governance life – changing the giant dairy processor’s capital structure to suit the times.

“The issues raised through this review need to be addressed early,” McBride said.

“We have a misalignment of investor profiles and we have to avoid a slippery slope towards corporatisation.

“Waiting for the problem to be at our feet will limit our options and likely increase the cost of addressing them, at the expense of future opportunities for us.” . . 

Meat collaboration benefits all – Hugh Stringleman:

Resilience and collaboration within the red meat industry underpinned the response to covid-19 and managing drought issues across much of the country, according to the latest Red Meat Report.

It is the second in a series by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, after the first was published last August.

Respective chief executives Sam McIvor and Sirma Karapeeva said collaboration had never been stronger and the recently renewed sector strategy was a strong platform to maximise the contribution to the New Zealand economy.

The report contains sections on the Red Meat Profit Partnership, Mycoplasma bovis, global trade worth $9.2 billion in 2020, free-trade agreements, the Taste Pure Nature origin brand, industry efforts in the environment, innovation and research and the 90,000-strong workforce. . . 

Rabbits: a seaside town over-run – Melanie Reid & Jill Herron:

A small South Island town is under siege from a plague of rabbits that has taken up residence over the entire area

The seaside village of Mōeraki in North Otago paints a pretty picture from a distance but up close, under the buildings, on the hills and along roadsides, things quickly get less attractive.

The place is infested with thousands of rabbits and residents are fighting a losing battle.

“They’re living under houses, they’re living under trailers, water tanks, boats, they’re literally everywhere. It’s ridiculous,” says local resident Ross Kean. . .

Champion of Cheese Awards 2021:

This year’s New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards has recognised long term favourites as well as newcomers among its 27 trophy recipients.

The four Supreme Champion awards went to Kāpiti and Mahoe, two highly awarded cheesemakers with a proud history; The Drunken Nanny with 11 years of cheesemaking, as well as Annie & Geoff Nieuwenhuis of Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese who were named MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker after only three years of commercial cheesemaking.

The trophies were awarded at a Gala Awards Dinner at SkyCity in Hamilton last night (Wednesday 05 May 2021) and followed judging of more than 310 cheeses from 35 cheese companies at Wintec in February. Chief Judge Jason Tarrant led a panel of 32 judges to assess the cheeses. . . 

2021 Peter Snow Memorial Award Goes To Kerikeri GP:

Kerikeri GP Dr Grahame Jelley has been announced as the 2021 recipient of the Peter Snow Memorial Award.

The award was announced at the National Rural Health Conference at Wairakei Resort in Taupō on Friday 30 April 2021.

The Peter Snow Memorial Award honours Dr Peter Snow and his contribution to rural communities as well as recognising an individual for their outstanding contribution to rural health either in service, innovation or health research.

Grahame, currently a GP in Kerikeri, was nominated for his service as a rural General Practitioner and his dedication to rural health for more than 30 years. . .

Stunning high-country grazing farm with multiple recreational benefits placed on the market for sale:

One of the most picturesque livestock farms in the South Island – with landscape for hosting a plethora of recreational activities and stunning views in conjunction with a sheep and beef grazing operation – has been placed on the market for sale.

The Larches – located at the entrance to the Cardrona Valley some seven kilometres south-west of Wanaka in Central Otago – is a 976-hectare farm spread over a mix of irrigated Cardrona River flats, along with lower north/north-west facing terraces and rocky outcrop hills climbing up to the skyline of the Pisa Range.

The Larches currently runs half-bred sheep and Angus-cross cattle. Located at 446 Cardrona Valley Road on the outskirts of Wanaka leading into the Crown Range, The Larches freehold farm is now on the market for sale by deadline treaty through Bayleys Wanaka, with offers closing on June 4, 2021. . .


Rural round-up

05/04/2021

CCC submissions flood in – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets remain a contentious issue for the livestock sector, which is critical of Climate Change Commission recommendations for an even steeper reduction pathway than proposed in the Zero Carbon Act.

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are labelling the proposed new targets as unrealistic and not backed by robust science, economic or farm system analysis.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the revised target is a 13.2% reduction in biogenic methane emissions below 2017 levels by 2030.

“This represents a 32% increase in the level of ambition compared to the 2030 biogenic methane target contained in the Zero Carbon Act, which is to reduce methane emissions to 10% below 2017 levels by 2030,” McIvor said. . . 

Smith to push for more automation in the hort sector – Peter Burke:

More automation in orchards – that’s what Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says he’s going to push hard for in the coming 12 months.

He told Rural News that there is real growth in horticulture and the opportunity for more, but New Zealand as not solved the labour supply problem.

“Too much of the horticultural industry has been built off the back of immigrant labour and the risk of that is what we see now,” Smith says.

“If anything goes wrong with that supply chain of workers then you have massive problems. That is why there is a need for the investment in automation and we want to see this directed to what can be done in orchards.”

Milking shed ravaged by fire, community spirit gets farmers back up and running – Joanne Holden:

A South Canterbury farmer whose milking shed, built by his father, was ravaged by fire has got his dairy operation back on track, with a little help from his friends.

The 30-year-old Waitohi milking shed was “fully ablaze” when Hamish Pearse, and five of his staff, grabbed a fire hose each and attacked the flames, keeping them at bay until the fire brigade arrived with five appliances about 20 minutes later.

“The staff were pretty shaken up by the whole thing,” Pearse, of Waitohi, said.

“My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself . . . He came back to see his pride and joy burnt down.” . . 

Synlait ponders lack of profit – Hugh Stringleman:

Synlait may not make a profit this financial year because of sharply reduced orders from a2 Milk Company for packaged infant formula, rising dairy commodity prices and global shipping delays.

At the start of the season Synlait directors expected net profit in FY21 to be similar to last year’s $75 million, then in December they said net profit would be approximately half that of FY20.

They have now said the anticipated result for FY21 will be “broadly breakeven”, which includes the possibility of no profit overall and a small loss in the second half, which is already two months old.

When releasing its first-half results, Synlait said the December downgrade from major customer and minority shareholder a2MC was significant and sudden. . . 

Wyeth’s move west welcomed – Peter Burke:

A few weeks ago, Richard Wyeth took over as chief executive of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products and says his first impressions of the company and its people are positive.

It was only a few months ago he was head of the highly successful Maori-owned dairy company Miraka – a company he helped set up from scratch.

However, Wyeth says he’s really enjoying the new job at Westland and what’s really impressed him is the people in the business.

“There is a really strong desire to see the business do well and people are working really hard to do this,” he told Rural News. . . 

Scientists are testing vaccines for flystrike – Chris McLennan:

Scientists believe they are closing in on a commercial vaccine for flystrike.

Prototype vaccines have already been developed half way through a four-year $2.5 million research project between the wool industry and CSIRO.

A potential vaccine against flystrike has been the subject of decades of research work.

Blowfly infestation of sheep wool, skin and tissue results in an estimated $280 million losses to the wool industry. . . 


Rural round-up

08/03/2021

Experienced operators scarce as maize harvest ramps up– Gerald Piddock:

Agricultural contractors remain short of experienced operators as a bumper maize harvest gets underway across the North Island.

Contractors have been hard at work in Northland since early February, while further south in Waikato, harvest started a few weeks later.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) vice-president Helen Slattery says the New Zealanders that had been retrained and were employed by contractors were fitting in well in their new vocation.

“In saying that, we do still need those experienced harvest operators. You don’t learn how to operate a harvester in your first year,” Slattery said. . . .

Red meat sector exports reach $743.3 million in January 2021 :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $738.3 million in January 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Although this represented a 14% drop compared with January 2020, there was exceptionally strong demand for beef in China a year ago ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown and African Swine Fever was decimating Chinese pig herds, resulting in a surge in demand for other protein.

“Red meat exports hit record levels of $9.2 billion during 2020,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

 

Genetics gain facilitates lower cow numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

The national dairy herd already contains the calibre of cows that will be required in the future to allow farmers to reduce cow numbers without losing total farm productivity or profitability.

“We already have cows with the desired levels of productivity, we just need more of them,” LIC’s general manager of New Zealand Markets Malcolm Ellis said.

LIC says genetics are a big part of the dairy industry’s response to the Climate Change Commission’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction in agriculture.

NZ is already a low-emissions dairy producer, but the commission is signalling a 15% reduction in stock numbers in nine years. . .

Are the days of industrial fertiliser numbered? – Mark Daniel:

We’ve been encouraged to grow our own for many years, now researchers at two Sydney universities have found a way of making ‘green’ ammonia and say their discovery could provide a major boost to farmers and speed up a global push to renewable hydrogen fuel.

Chemical engineers at the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney say their method of making ammonia (NH3) from air, water and renewable electricity removes the need for high temperatures, high pressure and large infrastructure, currently needed to commercially produce the gas.

The new production system, demonstrated in laboratory trials, could potentially provide a solution to the problem of storing and transporting hydrogen energy.

So, is the day of reckoning coming for the world’s fertiliser manufacturers? . . 

Why we should be using wool carpets – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand had banned single use plastic bags, so why can’t we get rid of synthetic carpets? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

New Zealand banned single use plastic bags in 2019 from July 1.

Over 9000 people had their say in the consultation process, and the Ministry for the Environment took action. The aim was to reduce waste and protect the environment.

New Zealanders adapted so quickly that it is difficult to imagine how we could have been so profligate with plastic in the past. . . 

School leavers swap lazy days for hard yakka fruit picking on farmers’ Chinchilla melon farm – Vicki Thompson:

Brisbane school-leaver Rhys Burke never imagined he would end up picking watermelons under the blazing sun on a Chinchilla farm.

Four months ago, the city-based teenager answered the call from farmer Murray Sturgess, who was desperate for pickers to get his watermelon crop to market.

Rhys and school friend Aidan Stuart packed up and headed west, straight out of school into the hot paddocks of the Western Downs.

It is hard work after 13 years in the classroom, but, as Rees explains, “if you can survive the first three days, you’re sweet”. . . 


Rural round-up

21/01/2021

Covenanters queue up for Trust action – Hugh Stringleman:

The QE11 National Trust is getting close to 5000 approved and registered covenants over nearly 200,000 hectares at the beginning of its fifth decade in existence.

The trust also has a new chair, former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills, and three new directors appointed by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage towards the end of an eventful year.

The 2020 annual report to June 30 disclosed a total of 4761 registered and formalised covenants, up 110 during the financial year, with a further 342 underway. . . 

Jerseys fit the environmental bill :

Jersey cows have featured prominently over the years among the four generations on John Totty’s 465ha property at Staveley.

The Jersey stud on farm was founded by Mr Totty’s grandfather — a passionate Jersey breeder — in the early 1960s. Back then the farm milked 150 cows and ran dairy replacements, sheep, beef and crop.

When Mr Totty’s parents took over the business the farm was expanded. They bought a neighbouring property in 1995 which was converted the following year.

A Friesian herd was bought and for 20 years the property supported a 750-cow herd while continuing to run young stock. . . 

Japan warns it will block NZ honey shipments if glyphosate limits breached – Charlie Dreaver:

Japan is warning it will stop importing New Zealand honey if it continues to find the weed killer glyphosate during border testing.

New Zealand’s global honey exports totalled $490 million last year, with almost $68m of that sent to Japan.

Japan is now testing all honey from New Zealand at the border, after it detected glyphosate for the second time through random testing.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has told the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that if 5 percent of imported honey exceeds its glyphosate limit, it will stop the honey coming into Japan. . . 

Gulls take to new life on the farm – Toni Williams:

Thousands of endangered black-billed gulls that usually nest at Ashburton’s State Highway One bridge have found a new home on a dairy farm at Lauriston — or at least some of them have.

The land-locked site is nowhere near the Ashburton River, their former home, and its risky riverbed, where flooding, human or canine activity disrupts nests.

Rather the birds are happily tucked in between an effluent pond and the dairy shed.

Sharemilkers Ali van Polanen and Andrew Black said the birds were first noticed on November 14. . . 

Fewer possums on Mt Pironga following 1080 drop – Doc :

A successful 1080 operation has led to fewer possums on Mount Pironga near Te Awamutu, the Department of Conservation (DOC) says.

DOC dropped 1080 over 14,000 hectares of land in September.

The work was part of long-term conservation efforts at the site, an important home to forest birds, insects, lizards and plants. . . 

Early positive start to onion season:

The 2021 New Zealand export onion season is off to an early and positive start.

‘Amongst all the turmoil created by Covid and the weather, it’s great to be able to report that exports of New Zealand onions to Indonesia are underway, two months earlier than last year,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘This is thanks to New Zealand government trade officials’ efforts to keep trade open and a decision by Indonesian officials to release quota early.

’78 tonnes of onions harvested earlier in January left for Indonesia last week. While this is small, it signals the season is underway early, and prices reflect the additional costs of growing and exporting during a pandemic.’ . . 

Autogrow announces spin-out of AI farming company WayBeyond to accelerate growth:

Autogrow has unveiled a corporate reorganization as part of a long-term business strategy which will see the organization split into two separate entities with the launch of digital farming company WayBeyond.

WayBeyond Limited (WayBeyond) led by CEO and Founder Darryn Keiller, will focus on the global expansion of digital farm solutions for large scale, multi-site farms to optimize farming productivity. Autogrow, now under the management of Acting General Manager Rod Britton, will focus on continuing the global growth of the automation and control business for small to medium growers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and one I’m proud to have brought to fruition – the growth of an existing business in Autogrow and the creation of a new and transformational one in WayBeyond. A journey like this is a team sport, with a highly talented team, committed investors, and government and industry collaborators; the dream has become a reality,” explains Mr. Keiller. . . 


Rural round-up

04/01/2021

Weather: Central Otago growers attempt to salvage unharvested produce after extensive rainfall – Ruwani Perera:

Central Otago recorded its highest level of rainfall in 40 years as wild weather lashed the region.

About 150 millimetres fell on Saturday, but it means growers had the painful job of assessing the extent of the damage to their unharvested produce on Saturday and some have suffered substantial losses.

Hans Biemond of Biemond Market Gardens estimates one-third of his submerged broccoli crop won’t be able to be saved and he’s cutting his losses after the freak flood.

“If I cut them in the next wee while they’ll still be alright. By tonight they’ll all be buggered,” he says. . . 

Pivoting from production to permanent forests – Keith Woodford:

A fundamental change is occurring in the economics of production versus permanent forests. The policy environment is getting left behind

During 2019, I wrote five articles discussing land-use transformation that would be driven by forthcoming forestry investments.  One of the key themes of those articles was that New Zealand’s forestry policies are a mess. The rules are complex and confusing. Also, the alignment of those rules with the overall public good is at best debatable.

I wrote about how policy communication by Government has been driven by public relations spin about the so-called billion trees programme. It has been virtue signalling but little else.

I also wrote that the investor focus to date has largely been driven by production forestry with that focus shaped by proximity to ports rather than the most appropriate land-use.  In that context, selling carbon units has been seen as a bonus. . . 

Support keeps arable operation on the ‘case’ :

Turley Farms is a Canterbury-based, family-owned enterprise that grows vegetable, seed and pasture crops – including wheat, barley, potatoes, white clover, onions, grass seed and carrot seed.

Also on the agenda are hybrid radish, spinach, canola, sunflowers and peas for processing. During winter the business finishes store lambs, winters dairy cows and finishes some beef cattle.

The business is largely self-contained, backed by technology to keep the many wheels of its 12 prime movers rolling. Case IH tractors on the properties run from 75 to 550hp, many fitted with Case IH Advanced farming systems automated guidance, offering precision seed placement down to 2cm, delivered by Trimble RTK.

With this technology available, real-time data monitoring from the Vantage system – offered by Trimble – gives the operation insight into areas such as soil moisture levels, then by comparing the results from a weather station reading, it can calculate soil deficit and crop demand. . .

Proof of profitability in the North – Hugh Stringleman:

Far North beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan have spent 20 years refining the most profitable and sustainable management system for their land and have shared every step of the way with fellow farmers and rural professionals. They spoke to Hugh Stringleman.

On their 576ha effective Te Mataa Station at Taipa, most of which drains into the Parapara Stream and Doubtless Bay, Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan produce 500kg/ha/year carcass weight by rearing young Friesian bulls.

This is more than twice the provincial average for any form of beef production.

Almost the whole farm is covered with intensive beef systems (IBS), being TechnoGrazing and variations on cellular systems that carry 2400 yearlings in more than 100 groups. . . 

LIC delivers world-leading genetic wealth to New Zealand dairy farmers :

Thanks to the foresight of the LIC board and its farmer shareholders, three decades of research and investment focusing on increasing the rate of genetic improvement in New Zealand dairy animals is paying off resulting in markedly increased productivity and health traits for dairy cows, and better returns for dairy farmers.

LIC Board Chair Murray King says the investment of more than $78 million over the past 26 years has built substantial genetic wealth for the New Zealand dairy industry.

“Significant investment has been made to ensure LIC leads the world in pastoral genomic science, and the board is pleased to see this paying off with all shareholders able to share in the productivity and profitability improvements,” King says.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says the investment in genomic science has included genotyping over 150,000 animals, genomically sequencing over 1,000 animals and undertaking detailed statistical research. . . 

Ringer, pilot, diplomat … all in a day’s work for Beetaloo stockman – Shan Goodwin:

Hugh Dawson’s job description is unlike any others.

He’s a cattleman, a helicopter pilot and a maintenance man. At times he does the work of a mechanic, boilermaker, a plumber, an electrician, as well as being a human resources advisor.

He has to know about genetics, breeding, animal husbandry and animal behaviour. He could also be called an advocate, an industry leader, even a diplomat.

Such is life when one has chosen agriculture for a career. . . 


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

02/11/2020

Farmers set for another tough summer as staffing woes drag on – Esther Taunton:

Kiwi farmers could be in for another tough slog through spring and summer as staffing woes drag on.

With last summer’s drought still fresh in the minds of farmers across the North Island and many in the south hit hard by February’s floods, the weather remains a concern for many.

But with Niwa predicting a change for the better in the north, including a higher chance of beneficial rain through November and December, and drier conditions in the south, it could become a secondary issue. . . 

Where to now in the war on rabbits? – Hamish MacLean:

For about 150 years New Zealand has waged a war on rabbits.

Ferrets, stoats and cats have been bred and released en masse to hunt down the pests.

Hundreds of kilometres of fences have been erected to box the animals in.

Rabbit burrows have been gassed.

In the wake of World War 2 fixed-wing aeroplanes were used to drop poison, the landscape being bombed with 1080 from 1954. . . 

Online service aims to help fill shortage in fruit pickers :

A new online job service hopes to get students into summer fruit picking work as growers continue to warn of a dire shortage of pickers.

Earlier this month, another warning from growers was issued in a desperate statement, which said some fruit and vegetables could rot unharvested this summer because of a shortage of people to pick them.

Pick Tiki – dreamed up by university graduates Emma Boase and Summer Wynyard – is now linking young New Zealanders with fruit growers around the country. . . 

Whineray climbs his first Fonterra peak – Hugh Stringleman:

One thousand litres of milk a second are flowing into Fonterra’s processing plants at the height of the spring milk peak, chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says.

The newly re-energised dairy industry senior executive has more gee-whiz statistics.

The full flow is around 82 million litres a day, similar to last year, a farm pick-up every nine seconds, a tanker discharged every 22sec and a container door closed every three minutes. . . 

A strong sense of community – Colin Williscroft:

Kohuratahi farmer Daniel ‘Pork’ Hutchinson spent many years working in the UK and parts of mainland Europe and Australia, but for him there’s nowhere better than the eastern Taranaki farm he grew up on. Colin Williscroft reports.

Pork Hutchinson’s connection to the property where he and wife Ceri live, about 20 kilometres north-east of Whangamomona, runs deep.

Born and bred on the property, he’s the third generation of his family to farm it.

Schooled locally, the Welsh black cattle breeder and local community stalwart spent his early years just down the road at Marco School, before his secondary school years at Stratford High. . . 

Bull semen flies out door as LIC ships biggest ever shipment to South Island:

Demand for LIC’s fresh liquid bull semen is literally flying out the door as demand rockets. The cooperative has chartered a plane through Mainland Air to airfreight over 70,000 straws of semen (its biggest inter-island shipment) from Hamilton to Nelson, Christchurch, Invercargill and Dunedin departing on Saturday 31 October.

The shipment is just one of many LIC will be making as its team works to impregnate four million cows over the coming months.

The 12cm long straws flying out of Hamilton tomorrow will be stored in secure chilly bins as cargo during the flight with care and speed of delivery critical to maintaining the semen’s integrity. . . 


Rural round-up

30/08/2020

Farmers worried about ‘economic situation’ – David Anderson:

Farmers remain cautious and even wary – despite the sector having done reasonably well during the COVID-19 pandemic – according to the latest rural report from the BNZ.

The bank’s Rural Wrap report, published earlier this month, says this should not really surprise anyone.

“A global pandemic simply demands vigilance from a sector that sells the bulk of its produce into offshore markets.”

Report author and BNZ economist Doug Steel says farmers the ‘economic situation’ has been catapulted up the list of farmer worries – after being well down the list in previous surveys. . . 

M bovis investigations for 28 more farms after milk tests – Maja Burry:

Bulk milk testing for Mycoplasma bovis has this month picked up 28 dairy farms requiring further investigation.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries show there is just one farm actively infected with the cattle disease at the moment, and a further 249 farms have been culled of their stock and declared safe to repopulate.

The Ministry’s chief science advisor, John Roche, said the 28 farms detected in this month’s national milk screening had been placed under restricted movement controls while more accurate testing was carried out.

Dr Roche said less than 3 percent of farms detected through screening last year ended up being positive for M bovis. . .

FMG grows in complexity and clients – Hugh Stringleman:

FMG made a net profit of $6.1 million in the 2020 financial year and added 6000 clients to its books, the total now numbering 94,300.

Chair Tony Cleland, who sought re-election as a director this year in a crowded field of candidates, said the growth rate was twice that of other insurers.

“While we are not trying to be the biggest, but the best, growth in numbers does lower the unit cost of delivery per client,” he told the mutual group’s online annual meeting.

FMG’s goal is to bring the operating cost from 31% to 25% of premiums over the next 10 years. . .

Abbie reynolds to head Predator Free 2050 Limited:

Predator Free 2050 Limited has appointed Abbie Reynolds as its new CEO

Abbie Reynolds is the former Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Council and in that role helped establish the Climate Leaders Coalition, motivating more than 100 member organisations to climate action.

She received the Board and Management Award at the 2019 New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.

She has also held senior roles in telecommunications as Head of Corporate Responsibility at Telecom and Head of Sustainability and Foundation at Vodafone New Zealand. . . 

New startup supports local Kiwi artisan producers:

New Zealand online startup, The Kiwi Artisan Co, selects the finest small batch artisan goods for food lovers nationwide, supporting and celebrating local independent producers from Southland to Central Otago, Canterbury to Nelson, and Hawkes Bay to Northland.

The artisans, specifically chosen by The Kiwi Artisan Co, handcraft their goods from locally sourced, high quality ingredients in small batches using sustainable production processes. The thoughtfully curated range of delectable sharing platter boxes are tailored to individual tastes and dietary requirements.

Each online order received at kiwiartisan.co.nz is hand packed and delivered direct to your door, making it easier for foodies to entertain, connect and discover the real taste of New Zealand with friends and family. . . 

Uzbekistan’s cotton farms turn to Aussie irrigated farming know-how – Andrew Marshall:

Far from his family farming operation on the NSW-Queensland border, former National Farmers Federation boss Peter Corish is co-ordinating an Australian team leading a multi-million dollar irrigated cotton and grain cropping revamp in Uzbekistan.

In what was a totally unexpected and unusual request two years ago, Mr Corish was called in to help a massive private farming venture adopt Australian cotton growing technology and techniques in the land-locked communist Central Asian country. 

Over the next 18 months, as drought conditions at home kept his own family’s cropping activity in a lull, the advisory job took him back and forth to the former Soviet state 14 times. . . 

Bringing it to the table – farming women who mean business:

Sarah Louise Fairburn has told her empowering story of her role in making one of the UK’s largest egg producers the success that it is today.

It follows the launch of #AgriWomen24 campaign in June, which aims to celebrate women in agriculture.

Sarah Louise’s journey began when she worked as a business improvement driver for Yorkshire Bank and her paths crossed with Daniel Fairburn – who had been in farming all his life at L J Fairburn & Son Limited.

After getting married and having children together, she began helping around the farm, only to realise that as the business grew, so did the need for her to become more involved. . .


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

20/07/2020

New apple ‘Dazzles’ Chinese consumers :

New Zealand’s largest organic apple producer says it cannot keep up with the Chinese demand for New Zealand’s newest apple, Dazzle.

Bostock New Zealand owner John Bostock says Dazzle is the best apple he has ever grown organically in his 30 years of growing organic apples.

“Without any doubt, I believe this is the best apple since the worldwide domination of New Zealand Royal Gala. It looks and tastes amazing, it’s bright red and sweet and it also yields and packs well.”

It’s the first year the company has had commercial volumes of organic Dazzle apples available for Chinese retailers.   . .

Nats hit the rural hustings – Mark Daniel:

National’s Waikato team of David Bennett and Tim van der Molen have been spreading the party word at a series of farmer meetings around the region.

Bennett, now the party’s agriculture spokesman, following Todd Muller’s recent move to leader, focused on the issues likely to affect agriculture. He claimed National’s ag polices aimed to drive momentum.

Starting out by commending the current Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett raised the question of how New Zealand will pay its bills in the future. He intimidated that the current Labour/NZ First coalition’s policies were reactionary, rather than visionary.

With all the major political parties agreeing that sustainable agriculture, horticulture and viticulture will be vital in a post-Covid future, Bennett suggested that the current drive for sustainability needs to be addressed.  . .

Honey business finds sweet spot – Colin Williscroft:

When James Annabell’s budding rugby career wasn’t quite going the way he hoped the former Taranaki Bulls hooker put his drive into honey, which has led to the development of a multimillion dollar business, as Colin Williscroft reports.

James Annabell was back in Taranaki on a break from playing rugby in Hong Kong when the chance that changed his life came along.

He’d already tried a law degree in Wellington and played rugby for Taranaki from 2006 to 2008.

But there was no regional contract on offer the following year so he went to Hong Kong and Germany to continue with rugby. . . 

Adventure, experience affords view of pig picture – George Clark:

From his travels and experience in pig farming, Ian Jackson knew he was going to breed pigs in the open air.

A Scot by birth, he was brought up on a pig and poultry farm in the UK. Uninterested in poultry, he specialised in pigs at Usk Agricultural College.

After working in the UK pig industry, he was eager to see the world and set off on an adventure with a tent on his back, wandering across Europe and then to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Jackson met Kiwi wife Linda 21 years ago this month. She had never lived on a farm and did not know anything about pigs. . . 

Food service finds new pathway – Hugh Stringleman:

A refreshed strategy for its food service business is being introduced by Fonterra to counter the disruption caused by covid-19 to eating out in restaurants and hotels.

Food service revenue is bouncing back, especially in the number one market of China, but positioning has changed, Asia and the Pacific chief executive Judith Swales told a webinar for Fonterra shareholders.

Covid-19 has accelerated trends already apparent in the market like more home cooking, outsourcing in food preparation, more home delivery and investment in digital and contactless technologies. . .

Planting trees to fight climate change ‘ not best strategy’ :

Mass tree planting to mitigate climate change is ‘not always the best strategy’ – with some experimental sites failing to increase carbon stocks, researchers say.

Four locations in Scotland where birch trees were planted onto heather moorland was analysed as part of a new study involving UK scientists.

They found that, over decades, there was no net increase in ecosystem carbon storage.

The team found that any increase to carbon storage in tree biomass was offset by a loss of carbon stored in the soil. . . 


Rural round-up

15/07/2020

Dairy challenges the world over – Hugh Stringleman:

Labour shortages and tougher environmental requirements are the concerns of dairy farmers worldwide, an NZX Derivatives webinar has highlighted.

Three industry leaders were asked to speak on the challenges and opportunities in their countries and on their farms.

Irish dairy farmer Patrick Fenton, Molanna Farm, County Limerick, said there is a looming labour shortage as farms amalgamate, now freed from the shackles of European Union dairy quotas.

“We do have opportunities to grow and there is more land available but labour and environmental regulations have to be reckoned with,” he said. . . 

Gas targets might move – Gerard Hutching:

The targets for reducing methane have been set but the message from the Government is they could be changed next year. Gerard Hutching reports.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has conceded the 24-47% range for reducing methane by 2050 is unsatisfactory and has hinted it might change.

Primary sector groups such as the Meat Industry Association have argued the target, which will affect dairy farmers particularly, has been set too high and the reduction required is only 7%. 

Speaking to a webinar on a low-emissions future entitled Staying the Course, Shaw said the target will be looked at next year by the Climate Change Commission chaired by Rod Carr.  . .

Fonterra warning: Open Country, Miraka fear farmers locked in under new law – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand milk market giant Fonterra is about to get a legislative pass to throw its weight around even more, small dairy companies say.

Miraka and Open Country Dairy are concerned that amended dairy industry legislation is being rushed through that, in loosening the reins on Fonterra’s market power, could lead to milk supply drying up for new dairy processors or those wanting to set up in regions currently only served by Fonterra.

Their chief executives fear that a surprise clause introduced in the Dairy Industry Amendment Bill (No. 3) after lobbying by Fonterra will allow it to deny farmers a previous basic legislative right – to buy back into the big co-operative after exiting for whatever reason. . . 

Māori farming businesses flourish: ‘The world has to eat’ – Susan Edmunds:

Māori farming businesses are booming, and Covid-19 is unlikely to have taken off much of the shine.

Stats NZ data shows that profits for Māori authority farming businesses hit $97 million in 2018, almost double the year before. That is the most recent year for which the data is available.

The role of Māori authorities and their subsidiaries is to receive, manage, and/or administer assets held in common ownership by Māori.

More than 200, or around one-sixth, of Māori authorities are in agriculture. . . 

BVD stealing dairy herd profits:

While M. bovis and Covid-19 may be competing for farmers’ attention this winter, another equally infectious disease that has lurked in the background for years poses at least as big a threat to farm profitability and livestock health.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is estimated to be costing the New Zealand dairy industry at least $150 million a year in animal health costs and lost production, yet experts agree with a focused campaign it could potentially be eliminated in a matter of months, not years.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager has been working closely with vets and farmers this year to help raise the profile and understanding of BVD. . . 

Trio team up to trial innovative hemp based food products:

Greenfern Industries has partnered with two other New Zealand companies to commercialise an innovative new hemp meat substitute and hemp snack products.

Greenfern Industries, Sustainable Foods, and the Riddet Institute (Massey University) are working together on the initiative that will see them develop the hemp-based food products and ingredients for both the New Zealand and export markets.

While Greenfern’s primary focus is medical cannabis and wellness products, co-director Dan Casey said it made sense to partner with other relevant industry leaders to utilise the products of Greenfern’s hemp crops.

“We have an abundance of high-quality hemp from which we obtain seed, cake and oil so we partnered with the Riddet Institute to work on background research and hemp product development. We’ve spent 12 months working with Riddet Institute on the product and, after several iterations, we’ve produced some very valuable shared IP.” . . 


Rural round-up

29/06/2020

Agriculture emerges from lockdown relatively unscathed, but coming global recession will bite, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Agricultural incomes are expected to take a hit later this year as the effects of the global recession caused by coronavirus kicks in, says Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny.

The sector was likely to remain profitable, however.

Despite having come through the lockdown and its immediate effects relatively unscathed, due largely to agriculture’s classification as an essential service, the forecast 3 per cent hit to global growth over 2020, meant there would be less demand for the forseeable future.

As a country that exported over 90 per cent of its agricultural production, New Zealand would be heavily exposed, Penny said. . .

McBride optimistic about Fonterra’s future despite global uncertainty – Esther Taunton:

Fonterra will face “bumps in the road” as the global economy rebuilds after the coronavirusoutbreak, but chairman-elect Peter McBride is optimistic about the dairy co-op’s future.

“Businesses learn more from challenges than successes and there will be plenty learnt from this,” the South Waikato dairy farmer said.

And McBride should know.

As the chairman of the Zespri board from 2013-18, he led the kiwifruit marketer through a crippling outbreak of the vine disease Psa, estimated to have cost growers close to $1 billion . .

Few winter grazing issues found – Neal Wallace:

Soutland farmers are being given a pat on the back for their winter grazing management so far this year, which Environment Southland says is an improvement on last year.

An aerial inspection by regional council staff prompted chief executive Rob Phillips to conclude farmers have made positive improvements.

“I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen. Farmers appear to have made a real effort, which is exactly what we need.”

Phillips said it is early in the season so wet weather will change conditions. . . .

Outstanding vintage despite Covid-19 conditions:

While it will be forever remembered as the Covid-19 harvest, an excellent summer throughout most of the country has contributed to an outstanding vintage for New Zealand’s wine regions.

“Although Covid-19 restrictions did have a huge impact on the way the harvest was run, they will not affect the quality of the wine, and we are really looking forward to some exceptional wines coming from this year’s vintage” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The New Zealand wine industry had hoped for a larger harvest in 2020, after smaller than expected crops over the last three years. With 457,000 tonnes of grapes harvested, this year’s vintage will help the industry to meet the high demand for New Zealand wine.

With New Zealand moving into Alert Level 4 just as Vintage 2020 began, the industry was acutely aware that it was in an incredibly privileged position to be allowed to pick the grapes, says Gregan. . .

Tug-of-war fan desperate to keep sport alive – ‘It’s weightlifting lying down’ – Carol Stiles:

A Waikato farmer is building a museum on his farm to preserve memorabilia from New Zealand’s oldest introduced sport – tug-of-war.

Graham Smith has a dairy farm 50 minutes south of Hamilton.

He is also a passionate advocate for a sport which is dwindling. He’s preserving the memory of tug-of-war in case one day it sparks up again.

He is the president of the New Zealand Tug of War Association and has been involved for more than 40 years. . .

Record on-farm price for EC Angus – Hugh Stringleman:

An Angus bull from Turiroa Stud, Wairoa, has made $104,000 at auction, believed to be a New Zealand on-farm sale record.

Turiroa’s best-ever sales performance also featured a price of $86,000 and an average of $12,560 for a full clearance of 50 bulls.

Andrew Powdrell said there was good buying further into the catalogue and there was a bull for everyone.

The Powdrell family was humbled by the result and thrilled the bulls are going to good homes. . .


Rural round-up

03/06/2020

Stress pockets in agricultural lending – Hugh Stringleman:

Agriculture has fared relatively well during the covid-19 pandemic but vulnerabilities in the sector remain, the Reserve Bank says.

In its Financial Stability Report for May it said lending to the agricultural sector is a key concentration of risk for the banking system, accounting for about 13% of loans, of which around two-thirds is to dairy farming.

“The industry is vulnerable to income shocks given its dependence on global commodity prices and pockets of dairy lending have yet to recover from the 2015 downturn. . .

The popular ‘New Zealand’ foods made overseas – Esther Taunton:

Think your favourite food is made or grown in New Zealand? Brace yourself for some bad news.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown, many Kiwis are making a conscious effort to support local businesses and brands.

There are Facebook groups connecting Kiwi shoppers with local makers, and a large-scale media campaign encouraging New Zealanders to back small and medium enterprises.

There’s even an online platform for potato lovers to pledge their support to local growers in the face of a potentially devastating influx of imported frozen chips. . . 

Judge’s 50 years of close shaves – Sally Brooker:

The magnet on Colin Gibson’s fridge says “I thought growing old would take longer”.

It seems appropriate for the man who has been a shearing judge for 50 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

He was aware of his long history in the industry when he was involved with the world record attempt by Stacey Te Huia near Ranfurly in January. The attempt was abandoned at morning smoko when the total had slipped out of reach, but Mr Gibson featured in television coverage of it recently on the equally long-running Country Calendar

He was a mentor for trainee referees at the event, teaching them to officiate when records were being contested. . . 

Down but not out:

The wool industry has taken a significant blow in recent months. Prices have eased back by 25% on the first sales back since covid-19 lockdowns. 

New Zealand is not alone as Australian wool prices have also decreased by 25% since March. Prices achieved in New Zealand have dropped to average $1.50-$1.70/kg greasy for good crossbred second shear fleece. This is a hard pill to swallow for many as crossbred wool returns are no longer covering the cost of the shearing. AgriHQ data shows current crossbred wool prices are $1.84/kg clean, back by about 31% on this time last year to what can only be described as dire. However, the industry is far from giving up. Those involved in the wool sector from the woolshed to the end market are working hard to ensure that wool will continue to have its place in the market and recover from the current downturn. . .

Eyes open to different ways of farm ownership :

Farmer Jane Smith was “blown away” by the group dynamic and drive when she and husband Blair hosted the North Otago-based Growth and Development in Farming Action Group at Newhaven Farms in Oamaru.

While the group members are all working in diverse farming operations, they all have a common purpose – aspiring to farm business ownership.

“It was inspiring to host a group of young people that are passionate about the industry and looking at ways, outside of the box, to get a step up into their own farming businesses,” Smith says. “They are very focused on what they are doing now and what it will take for them to get where they want to be.”

Wild about wilding pines – Rachael Kelly:

They’re considered an environmentalists’ nightmare.

Some groups work tirelessly to remove invasive wilding trees from the high country, but others now have resource consent to plant them.

The Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust, which has spent thousands of hours clearing wilding pines from other sites, is dismayed that the Southland District Council has granted a non-notified consent, with conditions, to Mataura Valley Station, near Kingston, to be planted out mainly in Douglas fir.

The trust was now seeking advice from Government ministers. . . 


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