Rural round-up

02/03/2013

Grain farmers step up to meet stock feed needs:

With the availability of supplementary feed in the North Island becoming tight due to extremely dry conditions, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed is promoting New Zealand feed grains and straw as a major supplementary feed solution.

“North Island dairy farmers in particular are weighing up the economic cost of drying off early,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Grain and Seed chairperson and a dual grains and dairy farmer himself.

“Federated Farmers Grain & Seed believes New Zealand feed grains and straw are solutions, especially out of the South Island.

“These are not only cost competitive to imported feeds but are available in quantity right now. These could help hard pressed dairy farmers in seeing the milking season through to its proper end and could also help out our meat and fibre colleagues too. . .

Happier cows could be one solution to industry’s employment issues:

With more and more dairy farm staff entering the industry from urban backgrounds an animal husbandry expert says there has to be more emphasis placed on stockmanship skills, which start with managers and owners having farm policies that put animal welfare first.

 animal husbandry expert Chris Leach and farm dairying specialist Mel Eden share a passion for interpreting cow behaviour and helping farmers get “inside the cow’s head.” By understanding their animals, they say farmers will improve job satisfaction for farm staff, animal health and the bottom-line.

In March the two experts will present a workshop called ‘Interpreting cow behaviour’ to more than 300 dairying women at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Nelson – most of them farm owners and managers. . .

Bovine TB control achieves less cattle and deer TB testing:

The success of the TBfree New Zealand programme has led to more than 3750 cattle and deer herds having their movement control restrictions, or number of bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests, scaled down.

Animal Health Board (AHB) National TB Manager Kevin Crews said the decrease is due to a strong focus on TB-infected wild animal control, strict movement rules on infected herds and an extensive cattle and deer testing programme.

The AHB is responsible for implementing the TBfree New Zealand programme which is working to eradicate bovine TB in New Zealand. Changes to movement restrictions will affect around 50 herds across Tasman, Marlborough and North Canterbury from 1 March 2013. . .

MPI Applauds Stiff Fine For Border Cheat:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) applauds the stiff fine handed down to a woman who three years earlier tried to deceive an airport quarantine inspector and illegally bring packets of bird nest into New Zealand.

Chen Shar Wong was arrested at the Auckland International Airport on Wednesday after arriving from Taiwan. She faced two charges under the Biosecurity Act 1993 of knowingly making false and misleading statements to an inspector, and knowingly attempting to possess unauthorised goods under the Crimes Act.

On 28 February 2010, an MPI quarantine inspector seized four packets of bird nest from Mrs Wong at the airport. Mrs Wong had claimed the bird nests were sea weed. . .

Biosecurity Report Welcomed By Beef + Lamb New Zealand:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the release today, by the Office of the Auditor General, of the report into the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) preparedness and response to biosecurity incursions.

Dr Scott Champion, B+LNZ CEO, said the report made a number of observations and recommendations that have previously been identified by a joint-Government and industry report into the current state of readiness for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), published last year.

“These and other learnings from Exercise Taurus (a FMD incursion simulation) are the ongoing focus of a collaborative process between the affected livestock industries and MPI to make the improvements required in this area,” he said. . .

Ballance closes the loop on investments for growth:

Ballance has taken a further step in its growth strategy, moving to full ownership of animal nutrition company Seales Winslow Limited and farm technology company Farmworks Systems Limited. It has held 51% shareholdings in both companies since 2011.

Ballance Chief Executive Larry Bilodeau says full ownership will see the co-operative better placed to support the growth goals of both business units, enabling Ballance to meet increasing demand from customers for the full range farm nutrients and technology which enable them to farm smarter and more productively.

“Farm nutrients and technology are clearly two growing areas of the market and a natural fit with our core business. We know that farmers are looking towards strategic animal nutrition supplementation and farm technology to get the best returns from their businesses and reduce their environmental footprint. . .

Soil and Health Association applauds new organic research report:

New Zealand’s oldest organic organisation, and publishers of Organic NZ , the Soil & Health Association – Organic NZ, is delighted with the growth in the number of organic producers and consumers over the past three years.

“The results in the latest organic market research report show that organics is definitely moving from the fringe into the mainstream,” says Debbie Swanwick, Spokesperson, Soil & Health – Organic NZ.

Soil &Health – Organic NZ has sponsored a new section in this year’s report,which covers the organic community sector. “Our National Council was delighted to be able to offer their support to such worthy research” said Ms Swanwick. . .


Rural round-up

11/01/2013

Labour spokesperson’s quad confusion gets it sort of right:

Federated Farmers welcomes the belated support of Labour to reclassify quad bikes as agricultural vehicles, given the Federation has lobbied for this change.

“While we welcome Labour’s change of heart, it is a shame it did not come when Federated Farmers submitted for quad bikes to be reclassified as agricultural vehicles,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Transport spokesperson.

“Unfortunately for Iain Lees-Galloway, Labour’s Transport Safety spokesperson, he doesn’t seem to know that quad bikes

Gisborne Milk Co-op survival bid washed away by Fonterra ‘perfect storm’

Gisborne Milk Co-op survival bid washed away by Fonterra ‘perfect storm’ – Paul McBeth:

Gisborne Milk Co-op, the 66-year-old Bay of Plenty dairy supplier in liquidation, has lost a last-ditch bid to get back shares and supply arrangements with Fonterra Cooperative Group.

In the High Court in Auckland, Justice Rebecca Ellis turned down Gisborne Milk’s claim that Fonterra breached its empowering legislation, saying the Bay of Plenty firm made its own commercial decisions to surrender shares in the cooperative. The Dec. 17 judgment was published on the Justice Ministry’s website this week.

“It is difficult not to think of the shareholders Gisborne Milk as sailors caught in a perfect storm,” Justice Ellis said. “It is impossible not to have considerable sympathy for them. But none of their claims can succeed.” . .

are not and have never been classed as an agricultural vehicle. They are in fact classed as an ‘all-terrain vehicle.’ . . .

nternet paves way for southern merchants – Tim Fulton:

The days of wool merchants operating like “rag and bone men” have given way to flexible, efficient trading online, a large Canterbury operator says.

As a shed-buyer Mainland Wool is comfortable handling loads from one bale to 1000, using the Wool Online system to keep cost to a minimum.

The five-year-old company has become the biggest wool merchant in the South Island and is convinced of the value in electronic sales, which have become a fixture for southern operators.

One of Mainland’s three owner-operators, Dean Harrison, said online sales were ideal for them as an alternative to auction centres like Christchurch and Napier. . .

Satara boss Wilson takes final jab at Zespri fees in outgoing update – Paul McBeth:

Departing Satara Cooperative Group boss Tom Wilson has taken a stab at Zespri International’s brokerage fees at the expense of growers in his last update to shareholders.

The Te Puke-based kiwifruit and avocado grower is still in talks with Zespri, which controls the nation’s kiwifruit exports, over its 6% brokerage rate on gross sale proceeds and 6% of FOB sales, which Wilson says is costing growers between $60 million and $140 million every year.

“I continue to be amazed at the politics, patch protection and commercial arrogance that prevents this money going to growers – this should have been sorted years ago,” Wilson said. . .

‘Green’ Americans underpin price of beef – Jonathan Underhill:

It is possible to be too cute about cause and effect, but America’s determination to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bolster its fuel security ultimately benefits New Zealand beef farmers.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which contains the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard known as RFS2, calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be added to America’s transport fuel supply (excluding jet fuel) by 2022 from a target of 16.55 billion gallons in 2013.

Of the 2022 target, the amount from corn starch-derived ethanol is capped at 15 billion gallons. The drive for mandatory minimum volumes of biofuels began in 2005 and was a shot in the arm for corn growers. Ethanol from sugar cane and biodiesel from soy are also recognised by the Environmental Protection Agency which administers RFS2. . .

Top International Wine Media Eagerly Anticipating Nelson International Aromatics Symposium:

A select group of the world’s most influential wine commentators will be descending on the small country village of Upper Moutere, near Nelson in early February to taste, compare and discuss Aromatic wines.

They include internationally recognised wine experts Matthew Jukes and Jamie Goode from the UK, David Lawrason from Canada, Alder Yarrow and Jordan McKay from the USA, Cees van Casteren and Cuno Van’t Hoff from the Netherlands, Felicity Carter from Germany and Jan Arrnhenius and Jan Peterson from Sweden alongside some of New Zealand’s top wine commentators. . .

Demand Lifts Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island first wool auction for 2013 resulted in a strong market based on recent increased buying interest particularly from China.

Of the 21,900 bales on offer, 90 percent of the offering sold. The weighted indicator for the main trading currency compared to the last sale on 19th December was practically unchanged, lifting only 0.05 percent and having no impact on prices. . .

The ANZ Contest is heating up:

The District Finals are completed, the Regional Finalists have been found, and the anticipation is building because the next phase of ANZ Young Farmer Contest is about to begin. The ANZ Young Farmer Contest, now in its 45th year, is New Zealand’s Ultimate Rural Challenge, inspiring excellence, showcasing innovation and growing human capabilities.

District Finals are the entry level for the Contest and over 300 New Zealand Young Farmer members from throughout the country entered in one of 23 District Finals held in the last few months of 2012.

Each District Final was organised and run by a team of local volunteers. . . .

Beef + Lamb NZ has a competition to win dinner with the three Iron Maidens here.

And from Medical Humour:

Photo


Land & Water Forum’s final report generally welcomed

16/11/2012

The Land and Water Forum’s final report fleshes out the detail of a new consensus for a major reform of water laws and practices in New Zealand,”  Forum chair, Alastair Bisley, said.

“The breadth of this consensus provides a once in a generation chance to resolve the entrenched problems surrounding fresh water.”

The Forum is recommending integrated decision-making in catchments, continuous improvement of management practices and clearer rights to take and use water within set limits.

Mr Bisley said: “Our reports together provide a comprehensive and detailed blueprint to maximise opportunities from fresh water for us all – farmers and fishers, power generators and recreationalists, citizens and tourists, cities and industries.

We want to grow the economy and improve the environment. Our recommendations apply to both urban and rural catchments. They provide for iwi to play their role as Treaty Partners and stakeholders.

“We call for community decisions at catchment level – within national frameworks and bottom lines from central Government.”

The Forum proposes a collaborative approach at both national and catchment levels to set and implement objectives for waterways, prescribe limits for takes and discharges where these are required, and to find fair, efficient and accountable ways to implement the limits.

“The Forum believes all water quality solutions should be tailored to individual catchments,” said Mr Bisley.

“Good management practice by land and water users is the basic tool. Incentivising it is the preferred approach. Regions are accountable for managing within limits. Industry schemes, catchment-wide initiatives and regulation may all help to ensure the limits are achieved within the agreed timeframes.

“Water available for users once limits have been set should be allocated with long-term economic welfare in mind.

“All authorised takes should be brought progressively within the allocation system.

“As catchments become fully allocated, consents should be clarified and strengthened to preserve their value. Water should be made more easily transferable between users while limits are preserved.” . . .

He described the report as a once in a generation opportunity :

 . . . While there were some notable non-signatories to the outcomes of the four year experiment in consensus decision-making, the forum managed to get 95 percent of its 60-plus members from industry, local government, iwi, environmental groups, recreational users and farmers across the line on 67 recommendations.

Among signatories are the national farming lobby, Federated Farmers, although their objection to any system requiring water rents saw the forum make no recommendation in that area.

The system it promotes would see the government establish national guidelines and standards for freshwater catchment management, which would be used by regional councils as the foundation for collaborative processes at a local level to establish “scarcity thresholds” for freshwater resources. . .

Dairy NZ has welcomed the report:

DairyNZ says the key to setting and managing to water quality limits is collaborative decision-making at a catchment level.

Commenting today on the release of the final Land and Water Forum (LAWF) report, DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says, “We recognise, as the LAWF report does, that this kind of community-driven catchment process needs to become the centre of water quality and quantity management.

“That is how we will make a difference to water quality – catchment by catchment across the country. Communities understand that, because people can relate any impact to the place where they live and work and their local waterway, so will take some ownership of the actions.”

He says that dairy farmers are already involved in these kinds of processes throughout New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Third Land And Water Forum Report:

The final report from the Land and Water Forum strikes a balance between preservation and production, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

As a member of the forum we sought recognition for sheep and beef farmers as stewards of our rural land, while preserving opportunities for those who manage water sustainably.

It has been a long and complex process, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand Western North Island Farmer Director, Kirsten Bryant. “But, ultimately, one in which the voices of water users of all different types have been heard and in which we have all worked together for the good of all of New Zealand.”

She welcomed the emphasis throughout the process on local people making local decisions, within a national framework. . .

Meridian Energy also welcomes the report:

Meridian Energy today welcomed the release of the Land and Water Forum’s (LAWF’s) third report.

Chief Executive Mark Binns congratulated the Forum for pulling together a complex and diverse group of water interests.

“There are a range of views on the right approach to manage New Zealand’s fresh water resources. This forum has enabled all parties to put their views on the table,” says Mr Binns.

“Recognition should go to Chair Alistair Bisley and all Forum members for their four year collaboration. The result is three quality reports that will help improve water management for New Zealand.”

The water allocation report marks the conclusion of the Forum’s work. “LAWF’s collaboration provides an opportunity for making positive change to the way New Zealand manages its water. This framework is capable of protecting the environment and enabling economic growth,” says Mr Binns.  . .

Business NZ says the recommendations are positive:

The third report of the Land and Water Forum brings useful recommendations for improving New Zealand’s freshwater management, says BusinessNZ.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said water was essential for many business activities which drive New Zealand’s economy and on which many New Zealanders rely for employment and income growth.

“Businesses require the confidence to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects knowing their rights to use water are clearly understood and secure.

“Investors are risk averse and any changes in the right to take or use water over time need to be clearly understood.

“It is important that transfer and trade in water rights are facilitated to the extent possible allowing water to move to its highest valued use, without unnecessary restrictions from regulators.”

Fish and Game says cherry picking would derail a water clean up:

Fish & Game NZ says the release of the third and final Land and Water Forum (LWF) report will only have an impact on improving freshwater management if the Government accepts all of the Forum’s recommendations, which are interconnected, and not pick and choose those which suit.

In these three reports the Government now has the bones of a blueprint – reached by consensus – for how to manage the public water resource, says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“All three reports must be treated as a package deal,” he says. “LWF’s second report recommended the need for a national objectives framework for water quality but the Government took it upon itself to develop these outside the forum framework. We’ve never had reasonable justification for that decision, which is odd given all the expertise was around the LWF table.

“LWF has been deliberating on these issues to reach a consensus for fouryears now and during that time freshwater quality and quantity has continued to deteriorate,” says Mr Johnson. . .

Federated Farmers supports the recommendations:

“Despite what is said at times about our environment, we must never forget we still enjoy some of the highest quality water on earth,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesman.

“LawF recommendations are about setting a pathway to protect and over time, improve our already high water quality. It is about better managing our most precious natural resource to fulfil our social, economic, environmental and cultural needs.

“Farmers support this aspiration and Federated Farmers is committed to playing our part in achieving it.

“We know the way we farm will need to change. Perhaps what needs to be fully understood is that change is also needed beyond agriculture. LawF covers all water, rural or urban, so we are all in this together.

“At the heart of LawF recommendations is for communities to adopt a collaborative process in setting water quality limits. This mirrors the one we have gone through on LawF itself. It is a very good way to understand issues in depth.

“Any collaborative process must be genuinely informed by what limits mean for individual communities. It is about striking a balance between what is feasible and what is not.

“Federated Farmers does take issue with some regional councils rushing to set limits. This fails to inform or involve the community in what will affect jobs, a community’s standard of living, or for that matter, its makeup.

“There are also some local councils who believe they ought to be exempted because they cannot achieve limit objectives and therefore, shouldn’t have to. It is the kind of thinking some farmers may have harboured decades ago, but not now.

“For agriculture, the regulatory process should embed Good Management Practice (GMP), the inclusion of farm environmental plans and where appropriate, Audited Self Management (ASM).

“Good Management Practice provides a holistic way to address water quality issues than the nitrate myopic approach suggested by many regional councils.

“Good Management Practice should further help communities decide where limits should be set, so as not to cause social and economic damage. I guess this is about empowering communities to find the right balance.

“LawF recommendations are a roadmap and Federated Farmers supports them,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

Te Wai Maori Trust says the report is a practical and sensible solution to fresh water management:

New Zealand’s future as a leading primary sector producer as well as our nation’s 100% Pure New Zealand brand depends on our ability to sustainably manage the valuable fresh water resource. The third report of the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), released today, provides a responsible yet practical way forward to freshwater management, the Te Wai Maori Trust says.

Te Wai Maori Chairman Ken Mair today called on the Government to implement the recommendations, which found that iwi rights and interests must be resolved for any freshwater management regime to be stable and durable in the future.

“There are a range of competing uses for fresh water throughout the country – from dairying to crop farming, urban demands to tourism uses. But the Government will not be able to resolve them in a durable manner until it engages with iwi over Maori rights and interests in fresh water,” Mr Mair said. . .

Regional councils say the report cements their role:

Chair of the regional sector group Fran Wilde said the report cements the role of regional councils in managing New Zealand’s freshwater resource and highlights the need for a more supportive national framework for collaborative decision-making.

“Regional councils are at the forefront of water management and use a variety of methods to manage and enhance water quality,” said Ms Wilde.

“There is strong support among councils for collaborative decision-making regarding water quality management and we have a number of successful examples of this in action.” . .

Environmental Defence Society endorses Land and Water Forum Report:

The release of the third and final report from the Land and Water Forum has been welcomed and endorsed by the Environmental Defence Society.

The Forum originated at the 2008 EDS Conference where an initial support group from a wide range of interests, including farming and environmental, agreed to try and find a better way of managing freshwater.

“It’s been a long road since then, with the Government getting behind the exercise and the core group expanding to include representation from all key stakeholders and from iwi. Four years on there is now a package of measures that need to be taken together and implemented by Government,” said EDS Chair Gary Taylor. . .

However, Irrigation NZ says last minute changes weaken the report:

IrrigationNZ says last minute changes to the Land and Water Forum’s Third Report, ‘Managing Within Limits’, have weakened its integrity.

“IrrigationNZ has spent the past year collaborating in good faith to reach agreement on how water quantity and quality is best managed in NZ. A package that provided a sound platform to support sustainable future growth in New Zealand had been produced. However, last minute changes, particularly to the water allocation section, mean IrrigationNZ now questions whether the Land & Water Forum is the collaborative consensus- based process it claims to be?” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

While Mr Curtis says there are many positives within the final report, including the need for; community-driven catchment-based water management; industry ‘Good Management Practice’ as the preferred route; development of community water infrastructure to address over-allocation; and a move to plan-led water management – IrrigationNZ has major concerns about parts of the water allocation chapter.

Certainty is the key if irrigators are to invest in sustainability. Irrigators need long-duration consents and an explicit right of renewal,” says Curtis. “Short durations and uncertainty of renewal will produce reactive and high- risk thinking which creates scenarios prohibitive to capital investment. If the community wants environmental gains without job losses or food price increases, then New Zealand must implement a resource management system that allows for long-term investment and thinking.”

There is also a need for community-driven water infrastructure solutions to be consented for over 50 years. This would improve the viability of initial and on-going capital investment. In return for this, IrrigationNZ agrees consents need to adapt in a timely manner to environmental limit changes. “This is the most logical package for water allocation,” says Curtis. Having recently returned from an overseas study tour of irrigation developments in the UK, Israel and Australia he says, “It is also consistent with water allocation internationally.”

“Irrigators have committed to more sustainable farming practices. Certainty, long-term thinking and catchment-based water management are the only way water quality and quantity objectives set by the wider community will be achieved in New Zealand.”

The full report can be downloaded  here.


Water quality concern for all

19/10/2012

The Ministry of Environment report on water quality shows most of our popular coastal swimming spots are fine for swimming most of the time but there are many freshwater swimming spots which should be avoided.

The immediate response to this was criticism of farmers and “dirty dairying” in particular.

But farmingin genreal and dairying in particular are not the only culprits.

The New Zealand Herald editorial calls for more action from farmers but also points out:

. . . Oil and brake fluid released onto roads is carried by rains into stormwater drains and end up in streams. Too often in heavy rain wastewater systems overflow and add to the contamination. . .

I make no excuses for people who pollute waterways but some of the criticism levelled at farmers is unfair and where farming can be blamed, it’s not necessarily dairying that is causing problems.

The MfE data summary shows the Kakanui River at Clifton Falls as having poor water quality.

This is very near the intake for the rural water scheme which supplies the water we drink but it is upstream of any dairy farms.

Further down the Kakanui from Clifton Falls, below several sheep and dairy farms and some intensive horticulture,  at the estuary the water quality is fair.

We’ve been working with the regional council to ensure we’re doing all we can on our farm to protect waterways. Tests showed high E-coli below a dam and it wasn’t our stock or farming practices which were to blame, it was water fowl.

Some water issues can be laid at the feet of human visitors too  Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesman notes:

“Being a representative farmers’ organisation, we know our members cannot duck or hide that a number of these sites do fall in rural areas. Federated Farmers is aware of this and is why we are working across industry and with our own members to lift agriculture’s game.

“I know farmers ‘get it’ and this is why it is wrong to blame farming for everything. Doing that masks the reality there are very poor sites around settlements and near camp sites. . . 

Some farmers still need to improve their practices but most recognise the need to protect waterways. Feds chief executive Conor English says:

. . . The focus needs to be on finding solutions, based on sound science and profitable and sustainable farming.

Farmers are custodians of the land and water, harvesting for the benefit of today and future generations. They want to leave it better than they found it.

While some still need to pull their socks up, farmers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars putting in effluent systems, excluding stock from waterways, measuring fertiliser and investing in more efficient irrigation. That investment has allowed export growth, earning money to pay the bills for hospitals, schools and other services. It provides jobs and has improved the environment.

Water-quality measures must include all those whose discharge into rivers . . .

Water quality concerns us all and improving it requires improvements in both rural and urban practices.


Rural round-up

17/06/2012

Rates gouge farm incomes – Tim Fulton:

Thank goodness export prices are strong because a Beef + Lamb New Zealand report says local authority rates have risen cumulatively by just over 30% over the past five years.

“At an average increase of 6.1% each year it defines the expression ‘inflation busting’,” Federated Farmers local government spokesperson David Rose said when The New Zealand Farmers Weekly showed him B+LNZ’s figures.

The rates insight is part of the Economic Service’s regular survey of on-farm costs, combining data from Statistics New Zealand with its own assessments. . . 

Looking beyond the dollars at Winter Dairy Days:

Helping dairy farmers look ‘beyond the dollars’ at their whole farm system management is the goal of a series of winter dairy workshops being held by the Dairy Women’s Network around New Zealand in June and July.

The five workshops are being held in Winton, Rotorua, Cambridge, Hokitika and Nelson at the end of June and beginning of July and are a great follow on from the Essential Farm Finance days run by the Network earlier in the year.

Ngatea dairy farmer and farm consultant, Julie Pirie, will lead four of the workshops, with Te Anau dairy farmer Anna Kempthorne speaking at the Winton event. . . .

NZ Farming Systems cuts FY guidance as dry weather reduces milk production – Hannah Lynch,

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, the South American dairy farmer controlled by Singapore’s Olam International, will miss its target to break even on a pretax basis this year after dry weather stunted pasture growth and milk output.

Farming Systems is now forecasting a loss of US$3 million to US$5 million on an earnings before interest and tax basis. The company will break even once it accounts for a fair value adjustment in the value of livestock, it said in a statement.

“Milk production continues to increase significantly year on year, although the very dry summer and autumn weather in Uruguay along with the later-than-expected completion of the new dairies, has resulted in milk production to date being below forecast,” it said. . .

Arable farmers cut back grain in favour of seed crops:

Arable farmers are cutting back on wheat and barley for next season and planting more seed crops in response to falling grain prices.

Growers cut back on seed production last year in response to higher grain prices but increased wheat and barley production and record yields created high stock levels and reduced prices.

Federated Farmers grain and seed chair Ian Mackenzie says the one contract price offered for milling wheat so far has dropped from about $460 to $420 a tonne.

Feed grain contract prices have dropped from about $410 to $360 a tonne.

Water storage scheme ‘vital’ for Hawke’s Bay farmers:

A central Hawke’s Bay farm consultant says farmers regard a proposed $220 million water storage scheme as being a vital step in the economic growth of the region.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has this week been hearing submissions on the Ruataniwha scheme, which could provide irrigation to 22,500 hectares of farm land.

Consultant Roy Fraser has visited northern Tasmania where he says farmers have been using water storage for more than 70 years. . . 

Dairy breeding a family tradition – Hugh Stringleman:

Stuart Bay retired on May 31 as chairman of the dairy co-operative LIC, the fourth generation of his family to serve on livestock improvement co-operative boards.

After 37 years of dairy herd improvement governance, perhaps Bay has seen and done it all?

No way. Bay would like his 22 years on the LIC board over again, for a ring-side seat for what he believes are the most exciting years to come in dairy genetics.

LIC is beginning to deliver genomics science, which promises dairy farmers routine gene fingerprinting of their calves, to quickly identify the most productive milkers and their predisposition to faults and diseases.

Trees on farms workshop : maximizing marginal land use:

A Trees on Farms workshop particularly designed for Maori landowners and farmers taking an inter-generational view of their land management options is being held in Ohope on Wednesday 20 June.

This workshop will focus on in the opportunities and benefits trees can provide in developing management for the marginal or less productive parts of the farm, and those attending will be able to discuss tree planting options with Maori land owners, experienced farm foresters and regional council staff.

The workshop and field trip will feature the Ohope property of Ngāti Awa Group Holdings, looking at trees as an intergenerational land management tool providing sustainable agribusiness solutions and enhancing long term land use. . . 


Rural round-up

26/05/2012

Reward for consistency – Rebecca Harper:

The accolade of Producer of the Decade was bestowed upon them at the 2012 Steak of Origin grand final, but for Angus breeders Chris and Karren Biddles, it was the reward for consistently producing a quality product.

“We like to breed good product and sell good product,” Chris Biddles sums up the philosophy that has seen Te Atarangi Angus named Producer of the Decade.

Chris and his wife Karren farm just under 1000 hectares on the Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville in Northland, and have been long time supporters of beef cattle breeding in New Zealand. . .

Plenty of bull topped off with a great feed – Jon Morgan:

Aaaaah, Beef Expo. First to assail the senses is the smell. Bullshit and coffee.

Then it’s the noise. Over the low roar of farmers discussing the weather is the enraged bellowing of caged bulls. And somewhere in the distance a tormented soul is shouting out the same number over and over again.

He’s auctioneer Bruce Orr. “I bid 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000 dollars. I’ve got 4000 to bid, 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000.” And so on at break-tongue speed.

Later, I count him and he gets close to 100 times repeating the same number before a bidder takes pity on him and raises him $200. Then it starts again.

It’s my annual immersion in the world of beef breeding. . .

Shear joy for wool industry

As a young girl growing up on Mt Nicholas Station, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, Kate Cocks was used to a life of uncertainty. Her parents, Lynda and Robert Butson, were high-country merino farmers, their extensive 100,000-acre property spreading from the edge of the lake to the tops of the distant peaks.

“Twenty years ago our wool cheque could vary from $300,000 one year to $1.2 million the next,” says Cocks, who is now the manager of Mt Nicholas Station. . .

Clicking on the link above will take you to a video.

Forum hailed for brdiging troubled waters – Jon Morgan:

 If I could meet the 80 people representing the 60 organisations and five iwi that make up the Land and Water Forum, I would ask them to turn their backs. Then I would give each one a well-deserved pat.

That’s unlikely, so I’ll do it in print. What these people have achieved, and are still to achieve, is awe-inspiring.

Formed four years ago under the leadership of environmental advocates Gary Taylor and Guy Salmon, the forum now includes the representatives of everyone with a stake in the sustainability of our freshwater resource – a remarkable achievement. . .

Dairy expansion pushes cow total to more than 6 million -Annette Scott:

Dairy expansion in the South Island has driven the national dairy herd to over six million while fewer lambs and breeding ewes saw sheep numbers take another tumble in 2011, according to the latest agricultural production survey.

Final results from the 2011 survey show a continued increase in the national dairy herd. An increase of 259,000 dairy cattle brought the number to 6.17m, up 4.4% from 2010.

More cattle were kept for milk production and future replacement, a result of the high payout and strong international demand for dairy products. The national milking herd was 4.82m, 136,000 more than in 2010. . .

The rise and importance of the US dairy industry – Xcheque:

If you have been watching the dairy industry news over the past month you will have noted a growing nervousness about the state of international dairy commodity markets and the flow on effects of this at farmgate.

It certainly appears that there is a gathering storm, one brought about by the over-exuberance of the global dairy traders. 7 billion litres of extra milk production in 2011 from the EU, US, NZ and Argentina, and no sign of the growth rate easing in the first two months of 2012. Domestic demand growth from these countries is typically less than 1% or about 2 billion litres – the balance needs to go onto world markets. Is this possible?

Not if history is a guide. . .

Ray of hope for dairy industry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are expected to be on average 42,000 dollars worse off this season following yesterday’s announcement by Fonterra that it has to cut its milk payout forecast because of softening global dairy prices.

But a New Zealand product gaining increasing attention in the United States could help offset those losses.

Queen of Calves was invented on a Manawatu family farm and promises to raise milk production by 18 per cent. . .

Southland TB campaigner wins deer industry award:

Retiring TBfree Southland Committee member Kevin Gilmour has been awarded the prestigious Matuschka Award by the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association.

Kevin has been associated with the TBfree committee for 20 years. Until recently, he ran a successful deer farm on the edge of the Hokonui Hills, while working tirelessly to communicate, advocate and support the national bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme in Southland.

“The award came as a very nice surprise. However, I can’t emphasis enough how important the support and technical expertise of the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association and TBfree committee has been in achieving our objectives,” he said. . .

Farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum to set the agenda:

Hard on the heels of the Land & Water Forum report, Federated Farmers has taken the lead by convening a farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum.  Taking place at the Ashburton Trust Events Centre on 7 June, it gives all farmers a chance to see what the future holds.

“This Water Forum is very much a forum for farmers by farmers.  It’s about looking at water and environmental stewardship through fresh eyes,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

“It’s so important that ATS is helping us put it together.  It’s about issues, yes, but it’s about practical solutions farmers can take inside the farmgate. . .


Money for irrigation and cleaner water

18/09/2011

Agriculture Minister David Carter  has announced the opening 0f applications for the Irrigation Acceleration Fund:

“NZIER research suggests the fund could support 340,000ha of new irrigation, which could boost exports by $1.4 billion a year by 2018, rising to $4 billion a year by 2026.

“All successful projects will need to be committed to good industry practice that promotes efficient water use and environmental management, particularly around land-use intensification.  Irrigation good practice is essential if we are to protect our vital water resource for tomorrow,” says Mr Carter.  

The fund will support regional scale rural water infrastructure proposals that address:

  • regional rural water infrastructure
  • community irrigation schemes
  • strategic water management studies.

Mr Carter says the Government will contribute up to 50 percent through the fund to successful proposals.  Applications will be assessed by MAF, with input from a panel of independent experts.  The final decision will be made by the Director General of MAF.

The same day Environment Minister Nick Smith announced the criteria and assessment panel for the new fund to help councils and communities clean-up nationally significant water bodies that have been polluted.

That fund was one of the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum which has been engaged by the Government to progress the next stage of policy work on setting limits on water quality, quantity and allocation.

Progress on fresh water reform stalled for a decade because of highly polarised positions. The Land and Water Forum has done a great job bringing together farmers, environmentalists, industry and iwi to develop an agreed way forward. We are releasing today the Government’s high level response to the Land and Water Forum’s April report and are engaging the Forum to do further work on the complex issue of setting water limits and improving systems for allocation,” the Ministers said.

Federated Farmers says the announcements are about the cleaning up from the  past and looking after the future:

The Irrigation Acceleration Fund will help transform and future proof New Zealand agriculture on the same day another fund, the ‘Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund’, will help communities remedy the legacy of the past. . . .

Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers RMA and environment spokesperson said:

“There’s no coincidence that it is announced concurrently with the ‘Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund’. This is about the future every bit as much as the past.

“The $35 million Irrigation Acceleration Fund is a positive step forward to developing water as a resource. That’s because 95 percent of the water used in agriculture does not come from storage and when I use the term agriculture, I include horticulture and the wine industry too.

“Federated Farmers has enthusiastically pushed for a ‘new water’ policy because this is about storing what falls from the sky. Economic studies done on the Opuha Dam during the last Labour Government showed an 8:1 economic payback.

“The $35 million Irrigation Acceleration Fund could well unlock billions of dollars in benefits.

“What’s more, native fish and water fowl can’t prosper in dry river beds. Water also provides recreational and community gains. . . .

Those community gains are environmental, recreational and economic.

Water storage provides opportunities for fishing and water sports, it can enhance waterways to ensure they have a reasonable minimum flow during dry spells and also protect soils from wind erosion.

Storing water for irrigation safe-guards farms during droughts which ensures money keeps flowing through to the people and businesses who work for, supply and service farmers.

We had about 10 mls of rain yesterday, it’s the first significant precipitation since the two winter snow falls. Without irrigation we’d be starting to worry, with reliable water we know we can grow grass whatever the weather.

There is potential for more irrigation here and in other places. The Irrigation Acceleration Fund will help the development of new schemes while the work of the Land and Water Forum will ensure past mistakes are cleaned up and not repeated in the future.


Rural round-up

17/07/2011

Farming couple move south to live dream – Collette Devlin:

Hannes and Lyzanne Du Plessis travelled to New Zealand from South Africa eight years ago with their child, a suitcase and only $20 in a bank account.

Six weeks ago, they moved to Southland with their three children to contract milk on a dairy syndicate managed by MyFarm at Edendale.

“We had no idea our lives would go in this direction,” Mrs Du Plessis said. “We want our story to inspire others. You do not need a lot of money or experience, because the opportunities to live your dream are all here within the New Zealand dairy industry.” . . .

Self-shedding dorper sheep a growing breed – Collette Devlin:

The dorper sheep, a common sight in most parts of the country, was introduced to New Zealand by a Southland breeder, but it remains a rare breed in the region.

There are 45 registered breeders in New Zealand but only four of these are registered in Southland, the New Zealand Sheep Breeders Association reports. Two are in Gore, one in Balclutha and one in South Otago . . .

Problems facing new grain and seed head – Gerald Piddock:

Ian Mackenzie has taken up the chair of Federated Farmers Grain and Seed at a tumultuous time.

He comes into the role after a tough few years for grain farmers with a grain surplus keeping returns low for many of them . . .

June farm sales up year on year but median price per hectare at 7 year low says REINZ – Gareth Vaughan:

A total of 111 farms changed hands last month, 30 more than in June
last year, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand
(REINZ), with nearly half the sales coming in Canterbury, Otago and
Southland. However, REINZ says the median price per hectare is now at
its lowest level since July 2004.

The June sales included 13 dairy farms and 59 grazing properties and
compares with the 81 farms that changed hands in June 2010, 80 in June
2009, 216 in June 2008, 212 in June 2007 and 158 in June 2006. . .

Radicalsim from the far right – Tony Chaston:

Don Nicolsons foray into politics from a Federated Farmers background
is not new, as many well known politicans have started their political
career via this way.

Just how successful he will be only time will tell, but it is
interesting to note that Bruce Wills the new president has already
stated that his style will be less divisive. Is the political following
by farmers changing, and are they moving further to the right and away
from ther traditional National Party roots? . .

Nestle takes slice of Vital Foods:

A subsidiary of global food giant Nestle says it is taking a minority stake in Vital Foods, a New Zealand company that specialises in developing kiwifruit-based “functional foods” solutions for gastrointestinal conditions.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Nestle Health Science said in a statement that it would take a seat on the board of Vital Foods “to help steer future product development as well as commercial strategy”. . .

It’s time for some friendly persuasion – Jon Morgan:

Bruce Wills has the creased features of an outdoorsman and the dirty fingernails of a farmer who just a few hours before was dagging lambs in the Hawke’s Bay hills. But seated in the Wellington head office of Federated Farmers he looks at home in a suit and tie.

He is a model of the modern farmer – university educated, highly numerate, literate, articulate and computerate, and an agricultural jack-of-all-trades, handy with hammer, fencing pliers, shearer’s handpiece, drenching gun and team of dogs.

Now he wants to add political lobbying to his skillset – the tramping of corridors, handshaking, backslapping, joshing, hard talk, soft persuasion and smiling through clenched teeth . . .

I’ve got farming in my blood –  Eleanor Ainge Roy:

Bruce Wills, the new head of Federated Farmers, talks about a childhood spent taming the wilderness, and the price he paid for returning to the family land.

When the Wills family moved onto Trellinoe Farm in the late 1950s, 45km north of Napier, the only accommodation was a tiny rabbiter’s cottage, stuck on the knob of a hill. There were no gardens, no fences, and no grass. Just acres and acres of blackberry scrub, wild pigs and goats.

After more than 50 years of hard yakka turning the land into an 1100ha sheep and cattle station, Bruce Wills says the family is still in the “breaking in” phase.

Wills, 50, is the new president of Federated Farmers, and spent his first week in the job travelling between Rotorua, Wellington, Trellinoe and Hamilton. It was a hectic mix of attending meetings, talking to the media – and sheep crutching on his farm.

Prime lambs return record sale prices – Sally Rae:

Record prices for prime lambs at southern stock sales are      giving farmers something to smile about after last year’s      shocking season when up to a million lambs died in freezing      conditions.   

A pen of about 20 Dorset Down ram lambs sold for $223.50 each      at a recent Charlton stock sale in Gore. The price was      believed to be a record for the saleyards, PGG Wrightson Gore      livestock manager Mark Cuttance said .  . .

Growth rates beefed up in simple herd home – Sally Rae:

When Mike Elliot could not get the growth rates he    desired through winter to finish beef cattle – despite feeding    as much as they wanted to eat – he looked for an alternative.   

With an 88ha farm in South Otago, although about 11ha of that  was in trees, it was a fairly small property and he needed to   farm intensively.

But he had a “phobia” about making mud and there were also      the increasing costs of planting crops and the amount of time      and effort to feed cattle on those crops . . .   

Support, direction required for rural sector – Dr Marion Johnson:

Sometimes I completely fail to understand New Zealand. As a     nation we trade on a clean green image yet encourage the  desecration of our resources at every turn.   

 We espouse a No 8 wire mentality; yet I wonder how many   citizens even know what No 8 wire is? We no longer support  innovation, unless it is within a prescribed field and then I      would debate the legitimacy of calling such developments innovation . . .   

Bee roads and wildflowers can help save bees in the UK – pasture farmers  are key players  – Pasture to Profit:

Do you know what a “Bee Road” is?
It’s a wild flower planting on farms to attract & protect Bees. I’ve started my own “Bee Road” sowing a wild flower strip of about 40metres x 10m along a roadside on a pasture based dairy farm.  https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/seedmix/wild-flowers-1 

It was sown this spring & is now in glorious techno colour. The bees &
insects love it but there have been some problems like the dry weather &
weed infestation. I am justly proud of my efforts but there are frustrations .  . .

Farmsafe and AgITO launch Quad Bike Farm Licence:

Farmsafe, in association with Agriculture ITO (AgITO), has launched the Quad Bike Farm
Licence.

“On average 35 farmers come off their quad bikes every day,” Grant Hadfield, FarmSafe national manager, says.

“FarmSafe and AgITO are committed to reducing accidents and changing attitudes through training on safe quad bike riding practices.”

The Quad Bike Farm Licence is gained through a practical on job training package that covers safe quad bike riding practices as well as teaching participants to effectively identify, minimise and isolate potential bike riding hazards and make safe riding decisions. . .


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