Rural round-up

July 26, 2018

Virgin Australia hunting for New Zealand’s best meat – Sally Rae:

Virgin Australia has taken a not-so-subtle dig at rival airline Air New Zealand by launching a campaign to find New Zealand’s “finest meat supplier”.

Earlier this month, Air New Zealand announced it would be serving the plant-based Impossible Burger as part of its business premier menu on its Los Angeles to Auckland flight.

That attracted ire from many in the rural sector, who believed the airline should be pushing the country’s premium products. . .

Young Vinnies show farmers their support – Sally Rae:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Gavan Herlihy was “blown away” to receive handmade cards from school pupils to be distributed to farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis.

Members of the Young Vinnies at St John’s School in Ranfurly were to be congratulated for the caring gesture, Mr Herlihy said.

It was a very stressful time for those affected and he expected receipt of the cards – which he was distributing on the pupils’ behalf – would be both treasured and appreciated. . .

Dairy herds may change from black and white to brown and brindle – Keith Woodford:

In coming years, we are likely to see the colour of New Zealand dairy cows change from predominant black and white to a mix containing more brown and brindle.  It will be a response to changes in the relative price of protein and fat.

Black and white Friesian cows produce about 1.2 kg of fat for every kg of protein.  In contrast, the brown Jerseys produce about 1.4 kg of fat for each kg of protein. Jersey milk is also richer with less water.  Jersey milk is about 5.7 percent fat whereas Friesian milk is about 4.5 percent.

For many years, protein has been worth a lot more than fat, but in the last two years that has changed. Milk protein prices are the lowest they have been for many years whereas fat prices are at record highs. This is the reason why butter is now so expensive in our supermarkets. . .

Third world water restrictions may be introduced if Waimea Dam canned – Cherie Sivignon:

Water tankers may be needed on the streets of Brightwater during severe droughts if the Waimea dam project is shelved.

“We’ll be slipping into Third World provisions [in a severe drought],” said Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne. “I think, the community doesn’t realise that’s what we have ahead of us without the dam.”

Kempthorne said he expected to be accused of scaremongering but the rules for tougher rationing in dry spells were in place under the no-dam provisions in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP). The rationing and related restrictions would affect rural and urban water users in the Richmond, Hope, Mapua, Brightwater and Redwood Valley areas including businesses and industry. . .

Govt to appeal landmark negligence finding in Psa case – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Crown will appeal last month’s High Court’s decision that the government was negligent in allowing Psa, the virus which devastated the kiwifruit industry, into the country.

Psa infected 80 percent of kiwifruit orchards nationwide and is estimated to have cost the industry up to $1 billion in lost exports. The growers’ group, called Kiwifruit Claim, sought more than $376 million in compensation. The group of 212 growers, led by Strathboss Kiwifruit and Seeka, claimed the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry – which was merged into the Ministry for Primary Industries in 2012 – was negligent under the Biosecurity Act. . .

Horticulture holds reduced levy

Horticulture growers voted to keep the levy at its current rate, at the Horticulture New Zealand Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Christchurch today.

“Last year, we proposed reducing the levy by 0.01% to 0.14% (14c per $100 of sales) and this year, we recommended maintaining that rate,” Horticulture New Zealand Board Chairman Julian Raine says. . .

Young Farmer event wins national award:

An event bringing the country to Wellington has won a national award

A ground-breaking event which brought the country to the nation’s capital has received a sought-after award.

Wellington hosted the Taranaki/Manawatū Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

The contest was organised by Wellington Young Farmers and has been named the country’s best regional final in 2018. . .


Rural round-up

July 11, 2018

Prized stock castration frustrates farmer – Andrew Ashton:

After waking up to find someone had castrated two of his bulls, a Hawke’s Bay farmer expected the police to arrest and charge the culprit. Instead he says he was advised to sell up and move.

Pongaroa farmer David Vitsky said the incident was the latest in a litany of stock rustling and rural crime stretching back several years.

But Hawke’s Bay police say they are unable to gather firm evidence to charge anyone.

“We’ve been plagued by a continuous raid of stock rustling, thefts and the police fail to get prosecutions,” Vitsky told Hawke’s Bay Today. . . 

Pagan’s shear determination on screen – Sally Rae:

She might be the South’s latest film star but Pagan Karauria is no prima donna actress.

Left in charge of  father Dion Morrell’s shearing business while he is in Japan for several weeks, the Alexandra woman  has been up every morning between 4.15am and 4.30am.

Her day is full as her mobile phone rings constantly and she ensures the smooth running of seven gangs. But, as she puts it, “I’m just cruising along doing what I love.”

Mrs Karauria’s passion for the shearing industry is undeniable –  she is both a shearer and  woolhandler and had the remarkable distinction of competing in both disciplines in the All Nations competition at last year’s World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill. . .

PGG Wrightson says “no comment” on report of possible $600M buyout – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says it has no comment on Australian media reporting that ASX-listed agribusiness company Elders is looking to buy it for $600 million.

A column in The Australian says Elders may seek to raise A$300 million via a rights issue to help fund the purchase, with the remainder funded via debt. The PGG Wrightson board “met on Friday to discuss the sale of the business and speculation is building that Elders has already been told that it is the preferred bidder”, The Australian reported. . .

Decision made on fate of defunct Gore meat plant – Sally Rae:

Blue Sky Meats has decided to sell its Gore plant which has been non-operational since late 2016.

Last year, the company announced it was reviewing its options for the unprofitable plant. Options ranged from reinstatement of full operations to an asset sale.

When the plant was temporarily closed, Gore staff were offered secondment to the company’s Morton Mains plant.

In a statement, the company said the decision was not made lightly but the board felt it was the best course of action for the company’s ongoing financial performance.

Blue Sky Meats has released details of its annual report for the 2018 financial year which showed a much improved result with a net profit before tax of $3.7million, compared to a $2.5 million loss the previous year. . .

The science behind the Impossible Burger – Siouxsie Wiles:

Air New Zealand has just announced The Impossible Burger is now available to a minuscule number of their customers, a move described as an “existential threat” by New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson. So what is all the fuss is about?

This week, Air New Zealand announced that Business Premier “foodies” on their Los Angeles to Auckland flights would be able to try out the “plant-based goodness” that is the Impossible Burger. Lamb + Beef New Zealand, which represents sheep and beef farmers, is clearly peeved that our national carrier wouldn’t rather showcase some great Kiwi “grass-fed, free range, GMO free, naturally raised” beef and lamb instead. Mark Patterson, New Zealand First’s spokesperson for Primary Industries even went as far as to put out a press release calling the announcement an “existential threat to New Zealand’s second-biggest export earner”. Meanwhile, vegetarians on social media are left a bit puzzled as to why Patterson is so against them having a special vegetarian option for dinner. My guess is it’s because the Impossible Burger is no ordinary veggie burger. . . 

Sheepdog trialists gather for annual battle of wits against woolly opponents in Hāwera – Catherine Groenestein:

“Wallago, Dick! Wallago, Dick!”

Dick the sheepdog’s muzzle is greying but his eyes are still fixed on the sheep. He trots with purpose, rather than running flat out like his apprentice, a youngster called Jay.

After a lifetime of farm work and winning many trials, Dick, who’s 14,  can almost work the sheep around the obstacles on a course by himself. . . 

Whopping truffle from Waipara farm sets NZ record – Gerard Hutching:

Waipara’s Jax Lee has unearthed a New Zealand record of 1.36 kilograms for a black truffle, worth thousands of dollars when she exports it.

Truffle expert Dr Ian Hall said a similar sized black (or Perigord) truffle had been dug up in Gisborne in the 1990s, “but I’m sure Jax’s would be a New Zealand record.”

Truffles may not be quite black gold, but they are considered the world’s most expensive food. The equivalent weight in gold of Lee’s example is 43 ounces, worth $54,000. . . 

A tale of two expos – Post Veganism:

A couple years ago, I attended the Natural Food Expo West for the first time. The section of the main exhibit hall that I first wandered into was row after row of nutraceutical suppliers. These suppliers, including many from China, provided many of the vitamins, minerals, herbs used to supplement and fortify many of the “natural” and “healthy” foods and drinks I’d later see a plethora of elsewhere at this expo. What was less ubiquitous was real whole food, that is food that was minimally processed, well grown or raised  and that didn’t need to be fortified or supplemented to be nutrient dense.

So this past April, I returned to Anaheim once again to attend the Natural Food Expo West held at the convention center. This year the event was larger than ever, and I only had portions of two days so couldn’t cover the entire hall. Maybe I just missed it, but all the nutraceutical suppliers seemed to be organized more around the periphery rather than taking so much area on the floor this time. Though there still was plenty of “natural” and ‘healthy” junk food fortified with vitamins, minerals, herbs and- the new rage- probiotics. However, much to my surprise, there was a larger presence of real food with more fermented foods, minimally processed seaweed items, and vinegar as well as plenty of bone broth, jerkies and other grass finished meats . . 


Fight back against fake meat

July 4, 2018

Air New Zealand is serving the impossible burger:

Air New Zealand is giving customers a taste of the future with a new inflight collaboration with Silicon Valley food tech start-up Impossible Foods.

The airline is the first in the world to serve the award-winning, plant-based Impossible Burger which is now available as part of its Business Premier menu on flights from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Impossible Burger’s magic ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme which comes from the roots of soy plants. The heme in the Impossible Burger is the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever. . . 

Air New Zealand will serve the Impossible Burger on flights NZ1 and NZ5 from Los Angeles to Auckland through until late October.

Many farmers and some MPs aren’t impressed that the national airline is serving fake meat.

Shouldn’t it be showcasing New Zealand’s fine, free range real meat?

The fake meat burgers will only be served on flights from the USA when the airline is less likely to be using New Zealand produce and only for three months.

But alternative proteins are one of the challenges facing traditional primary producers.

Fake meat is being sold as healthier and better for the environment, but is it?

Joanna Blythman thinks not and says: Fake meat: Impossibly hard to swallow :

The Impossible Burger is arguably the perfect veggie analog to the ubiquitous beef burger and it is making a big splash as the veggie burger that ‘bleeds’. Joanna Blythman, a renowned investigator of the unpronounceable ingredients in processed food, has a look at the newest fake meat arrival.

The ‘Impossible Burger’ is being marketed in the US as the revolutionary product that will make meat redundant. Its ingredients are as follows: water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors, leghemoglobin (soy), yeast extract, salt, soy protein isolate, konjac gum, xanthan gum, vitamins and zinc.

Now even for me, a seasoned investigator of obscure techno-ingredients, this list requires annotation. Let’s start with its first ingredient by weight: water. Suffice it to say that no quality product uses it as a bulk ingredient. Textured wheat protein, potato protein and soya protein isolate are all powdery derivatives, extracted from their eponymous food using hi-tech chemical and physical methods that are veiled in commercial secrecy. Coconut oil has a trendy ‘superfood’ ring to it, except that here it isn’t raw, so the inherent nutrition of the nut has been heavily compromised by the harsh industrial refining process to which it has been subjected. Konjac and xanthan are industrial hydrocolloid gums. (The latter was designed to thicken the drilling mud in the oil industry.) Their role here is to absorb all that water and glue together ingredients that wouldn’t naturally bond. . . 

She goes on to dissect the flavourings which don’t sound very appetising either.

And what of the most arcane ingredient in this faux meat? Soy leghemoglobin (SLH) is a vat-grown, genetically engineered form of the heme iron found in the root nodules of soybean plants. We’re told that it gives the fake meat a ‘bloody’, meat-like taste and colour. It has emerged that the US Food and Drug Administration’s view is that “the current arguments at hand, individually and collectively, were not enough to establish the safety of SLH for consumption”. . .

I am open to the use of genetic modification but I suspect many of those lauding fake meat as better than the real thing aren’t.

So that’s the Impossible Burger: water, protein powders, glues, factory flavourings, flavour enhancers, synthetic vitamins – all signifiers of low-grade, ultra-processed food – and a novel ingredient that has no proven track record of safety.

Reading this list of ingredients, it’s not the sort of product that I, and many other food-aware citizens, would buy. It’s the very antithesis of local food with a transparent provenance and backstory. I’d have absolutely no chance of tracing the origins or uncovering any substantive detail on the assiduously guarded production methods behind its utterly anonymous components.

And although the sales pitch for the Impossible burger is that it’s ‘made from simple, all-natural ingredients’, it’s patently the brainchild of a technocratic mindset, one brought to us by food engineers and scientists whose natural environment is the laboratory and the factory – not the kitchen, farm or field – and people who believe that everything nature can do, man can do so much better, and more profitably. . .

I’m also awed by nature’s complex systems that gift us humans the privilege of nutritionally perfect, health-giving natural foods, be they eggs, milk, meat, cereals, or fruit and vegetables. Cutting-edge food engineers who create ‘plant meat’ are undeniably clever, but they do not have nature’s sure nutritional judgment, good taste, and wise, all-seeing intelligence, or fully understand how her elaborate natural systems work.

It’s a great pity that the vegan versus omnivore debate has become so heated and binary. The equation that plant food is good and animal food is bad, is simplistic at best. Those who rush to embrace the ‘plant meat’ revolution as our environmental and ethical salvation, fail to interrogate the product in any deeper way, and that’s a significant blind spot in evaluating its ultimate sustainability and moral rightness.

Like it or not, there’s a market for fake meat and as Landcare Trust Nelson-Marlborough coordinator  Annette Litherland says, farmers must find ‘sweet spot’ of economic, environmental sustainability if we’re going to compete with it.


Rural round-up

February 19, 2018

Syrian lamb commands higher prices than ours; alternative proteins are next threat – Sam McIvor:

If you think our meat is premium, export boss Sam McIvor has a wake-up call. Fake meats and other lab-grown alternatives are threatening our farms. 

 The Stuff series “Meat under heat” has led to a robust debate among farmers. I speak with farmers every day and they tell me that while they understand the scale of challenges outlined in the series, they are excited about the future and the opportunities which lie ahead. Farmers certainly do not have their heads in the sand.

They can see for themselves the rise of alternative proteins and I know a number, like me, who have tried an Impossible Burger and other similar products.  I consider myself a bit of a meat connoisseur and cooked well, the Beyond Burger was a realistic substitute.

That’s why we’ve invested in a large research project to better understand the implications of alternative proteins. Early conclusions indicate that alternative proteins are likely to become major competition. It also showed, however, that the same forces driving investment and demand for alternative proteins, including concerns about industrial (feedlot) farming; health concerns arising from the use of hormones and antibiotics; environmental and animal welfare concerns, offer an opportunity to differentiate New Zealand red meat internationally.  . . 

 – Allan Barber:

The global market for New Zealand’s meat exports and exporters is undergoing quite a rapid change, judging by movements in the industry’s latest quota entitlements and market destinations. The differences between exporters and markets over a ten and five year period provide an interesting snapshot of the relative position of the meat companies and the impact of changing market dynamics.

A comparison of quota entitlements over 10 years illustrates some sizeable changes in market share, but also considerable industry rationalisation. A number of smaller exporters have either disappeared or been absorbed by a larger company, but for the most part the same companies still dominate the industry, but with some noticeable changes in share. . . 

My tips for 2018 – Allan Barber:

It’s the time of year for making predictions, some of which may turn out to be close to the mark, but most, like horse racing tips or economists’ forecasts, will end up looking slightly silly, if anybody takes the trouble to remember what they were. The luxury of writing a column is the ability to speculate without being held to account for any inaccuracies.

Before I make any predictions for the year ahead, it’s worth taking a moment to highlight some of the main features of the year that has just finished. Two events of major significance actually had their roots in 2016 – the US election and the BREXIT referendum – but nobody is much the wiser about how they will play out from a trade perspective. As is often the case, what appears to be a seismic event takes longer than expected to have any noticeable impact. . . 

PSA heroes rewarded – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research that helped take the kiwifruit industry from zero to hero in the space of a few years in Psa’s wake has earned Plant and Food Research scientists the country’s richest science award.

The Crown research institute’s multi-disciplinary team collected $500,000 of prize money in the 2017 Prime Minister’s Science Prize for the intensive work they did after the Psa disease incursion in November 2010 as they battled to identify the strain of the disease, develop a test for it and determine replacement cultivar tolerance to the disease.

The disease ultimately laid to waste the original gold kiwifruit variety Hort16a, the up and coming hope for the industry’s future growth.  . . 

Rare sheep music to couple’s ears – Yvonne O’Hara:

Country music singers Ron and Kathleen Gallagher have a small flock of some of the rarest sheep in the country.

There are thought to be about 100 Stewart Island sheep left in New Zealand and the Owaka couple have about 30 on their 8ha lifestyle block.

The Stewart Island sheep are a coloured, feral version of the merino, and are descended from those released by sealers and whalers on to Stewart Island in the 1800s and those which escaped from sheep farming operations.

They look similar to Arapawa sheep and Pitt Island sheep, with black and brown-toned fleeces. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication still on the table as milk testing results flow in:

Initial results from the first round of milk testing from all producing dairy farms for Mycoplasma bovis indicate eradication of the disease remains a viable option as work to contain it ramps up, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

The first round of the joint industry MPI surveillance programme is near completion with no positive detections.

Tests have been completed on the tanker milk from 9100 dairy farms without a positive detection. The remaining tests will be completed early next week. . . 

DIRA Bill a good move for dairy industry:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (DIRA) has finally made it through Parliament.

“I think most of the industry will agree this is long overdue and should have happened at least six months ago,” says Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Chair.

The Federation was looking forward to working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the dairy sector on a comprehensive review. . . 

Image may contain: drink and text

Accept no substitutes. 8 0z of real milk contains 8g of protein. 

8 oz of almond beverage contains only 1g of protein.

Cavalier boosts first-half profit on benefits from restructuring – Rebecca Howard

Feb. 15 (BusinessDesk) – Carpet maker Cavalier Corp reported an improved first-half net profit on better margins, after restructuring the business to reduce costs and introduce a more efficient manufacturing system.

Net profit rose to $1 million, or 1.5 cents per share, in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $31,000 in the prior period. Revenue fell to $75.3 million from $84.3 million, reflecting reduced carpet sales in the first half due to market conditions as well as the materially lower wood prices which impacted the revenue of its wool buying business Elco Direct. . .


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