Anti-farming bias won’t wait for facts

August 24, 2016

Contamination of Havelock North’s water supply is a serious health issue which has prompted the government to undertake an inquiry.

In announcing the draft terms of reference for it, Attorney General Christopher Finlayson said:

“It is important that New Zealanders have confidence in the quality of our drinking water, and the independent inquiry will ensure we have a clear understanding of what happened in Havelock North,” says Mr Finlayson.

“Cabinet has today agreed to initiate a Government inquiry which will report to me as Attorney General.

“The inquiry will look into how the Havelock North water supply became contaminated, how this was subsequently addressed and how local and central government agencies responded to the public health threat that occurred as a result of the contamination.

“The terms of reference are very wide and will include any lessons and improvements that can be made in the management of the water supply network in Havelock North and, more broadly, across New Zealand.”     

Cabinet will consider over the coming weeks who will lead the Government inquiry.

The inquiry will be undertaken under the Inquiries Act 2013. This will ensure it follows a clear statutory process and will have a range of powers such as the ability to call witnesses.

The need to wait for facts hasn’t stopped the usual anti-farming suspects rushing to blame farming in general and dairying in particular for the contamination and using it as an excuse to call for the end to irrigation development.

Federated Farmers’  Hawke’s Bay president Will Foley said while there was some livestock farming in the area it wasn’t intensive:

. . . Basically in terms of the area around Havelock North there just isn’t intensive livestock farming.

He said farmers were watching the situation but there had not been any discussions yet.

“Really we’re just waiting to see some more clear evidence as to how the contamination occurred. And then if it was something related to farming livestock, then we can react to it then and I guess change practises if that’s what it turns out to be.”

IrrigationNZ points out that a focus on science and proven solutions is needed in the response to the Havelock North water crisis.

“IrrigationNZ is very concerned, as is everyone else, about the situation in Havelock North. However, we are surprised by some of the accusations now being made around intensive livestock and irrigation, particularly as the area surrounding the water supply well is dominated by orchards, cropping and low intensity livestock.”

“Before jumping to conclusions we first must understand the facts. A thorough inquiry will establish how groundwater in the area has become contaminated but this will take time. In the short term we should be moving towards best practice when it comes to protecting public water supplies from contamination,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO.

Fact 1;

Pathogen contamination almost always results from a point source or a preferential flow scenario.

“The issue will likely be either a preferential flow scenario down the side of an old well case (particularly around older bore casings), a poorly constructed or sealed well head or backflow (contamination making its way directly into bores). Another scenario could be point source from the stock piling of manure. During periods of heavy downpour, contaminants can move through the soil and then there is a risk,” says Mr Curtis.

Fact 2;

Grazing livestock or irrigation are unlikely to be the cause.

“The Havelock North end of the Heretaunga plains is an area of low intensity livestock. Dominated by orchards and seasonal cropping, with sheep grazing in winter there is no dairy or intensive livestock,” says Andrew Curtis.

Livestock grazing is extremely unlikely to have caused this issue – the pathogens don’t make it through the soil, the soil acts as a filter – research work undertaken by ESR has previously shown this to be true.”

Solutions to prevent contamination of groundwater?

Proven solutions include good management practice at both the supply point and any nearby wells.

“Well head protection is essential for all bores and this needs to be better enforced for older bores. Additionally, we need to be looking at requiring back flow protection where applicable. INZ has produced guidelines for backflow prevention that are based on international best practice for agriculture. On top of this, the council needs to be managing nearby point sources where, if heavy rain occurs, leaching could result. Basically all wells near public water supplies should be properly protected.”

“A best practice approach to managing the threats to public water supplies needs to be implemented across New Zealand. There will always be risks from avian, ruminant and human sources so we need to be identifying all the contamination pathways. We need to let the experts get on with their jobs and not take cheap shots with un-informed accusations,” says Mr Curtis.

It’s understandable for the people of Havelock North to be upset about their water and everyone wants to know what caused the problem and what can be done to prevent it happening again in the area or anywhere else.

But that’s not an excuse for the usual suspects to use the issue for their own political agenda without waiting for the facts. In doing so they’re show their anti-farming bias.

We could forget about feeding people and earning the export income we need for a happy, healthy, well functioning country as those of a very dark green persuasion would have it.

We could produce a lot more food and seriously degrade the environment with no concern for the future, a path for which I haven’t heard anyone advocate.

Or we could use science to produce food sustainably which requires good environmental practices based on science.

If poor farming practices are degrading the water we can do something about it but let’s wait for the inquiry and base any required action on the facts.

 


Rural round-up

August 4, 2016

British wasps could solve NZ problems:

Scientists have a secret weapon in their war against wasps – other wasps.

German and common wasp problems cost New Zealand’s primary industries around $130 million a year, but a parasitic wasp whose larvae feeds off their host before killing it is expected to change that.

It’s an idea that has been used with some success since the 1980s, but scientists have discovered the wasps they’ve used in the past might speak the wrong language.

“In order for the Sphecophaga to go undetected in the nest, they may speak the correct language, or dialect, in order to fool their hosts,” Landcare Research biocontrol scientist Ronny Groenteman said.  . . 

Organic story needs more tale:

Despite the organic sector’s rapid growth kiwifruit growers might need to do even more to maintain the advantages they have in the marketplace, food marketing expert Professor David Hughes warns.  

Hughes, from Imperial College, London, gave growers his take on developments in the booming organic sector that is now topping US$80 billion a year in global sales.  

He spoke at Zespri’s inaugural organic dinner, hosted by the marketer to showcase organic produce and give the industry’s small pool of 80 organic growers insight to global developments. . .  

Preparedness for irrigation season ‘vital’:

With low groundwater levels confirmed by Environment Canterbury today and the outlook for recharge before the coming irrigation season not looking good, irrigating farmers must ensure their equipment and irrigation schedules are up to scratch if they are to survive another dry summer, says IrrigationNZ.

“Preparedness for the coming irrigation season is vital. Poorly operating irrigation systems cost time and water efficiency, not to mention the additional cost to production. Farmers must make sure irrigation systems are operating as efficiently as possible because water resources are already stretched so every drop must be optimised,” says IrrigationNZ Project Manager Steven Breneger. . . 

Change of Chair of the Land And Water Forum:

Alastair Bisley has stood down as the Land and Water Forum’s Chair after seven years in the role.

Soon after the Forum was establishment in late 2008, Alastair was appointed its Chairman to moderate a multi-stakeholder consensus on the challenging issue of freshwater policy reform.

The Forum’s recommendations have formed the basis for decisions by Government and regional councils that are progressively deploying its recommendations. . . 

NZ commodity prices rise for third straight month; dairy, meat lead gains – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand commodity prices rose for a third straight month in July, led by dairy products, aluminium and meat, although the strong kiwi dollar limited the benefits for local producers.

The ANZ commodity price index rose 2 percent last month, bringing its three-month gain to 6.9 percent. In New Zealand dollar terms, prices have gained just 2.5 percent in the past three months and are 5.7 percent lower than in the same period last year. . . .

Nelson company DroneMate launches the ultimate farming drone to New Zealand market:

Nelson company DroneMate is launching a ground-breaking new agricultural farming drone into the New Zealand market that features a multi-application sensor developed by US company Sentera.

Marketed as DroneMate Agriculture, the product costs $5000 (approximately one third of the drone technology currently being used for much agricultural survey work) or $7000 for the deluxe model and is poised to revolutionise the way that aerial survey technology is used by farmers across a range of sectors, including dairy, horticulture, orcharding and viticulture. . . 

Beekeepers swarm to Rotorua for hui:

Māori landowners and honey producers will be buzzing in Rotorua over the next two days (4/5 August) as they attend the He kai kei aku ringa National Māori Mānuka Hui.

Associate Minister for Economic Development Te Ururoa Flavell, who is opening the hui this morning, says there are major opportunities for Māori landowners in mānuka honey because of rising demand and prices.

“New Zealand exports more than $220 million of honey a year and volumes have more than doubled in the last 10 years in response to rising prices. . . 

Big cities dominate early running in NZ young horticulturalist contest:
Search on for 2016 Young Horticulturist of the Year

The New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year 2016 competition — traditionally dominated by the regions — has taken a surprising twist this year with the Auckland and Wellington regions making a clean sweep of early results.

The results so far:

• 2016 New Zealand Amenity Horticulturalist competition winner: Jeanette Barker, Auckland Botanic Gardens.
• 2016 Young Grower of the Year, Andrew Hutchinson, AS Wilcox, Pukekohe.
• 2016 Nursery and Garden Industry New Zealand Young Achiever Award, Daniel Howard, Moores Valley Nurseries, Wellington . . 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2016

Water brings back ‘marvellous’ times – Sally Rae:

“Lower Waitaki – The Community That Water Saved” was the theme of a recent media tour organised by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective and IrrigationNZ and coinciding with IrrigationNZ’s 2016 conference in Oamaru. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae hopped on the bus to discover just what irrigation has done for the area and its inhabitants.  

When Jim Dennison’s father bought Drumena in 1919, the Hilderthorpe farm was in a “desolate state”.

Local women pitied his new bride moving to such a property to try to make a living. . .

Harnessing the sunshine for record-breaking crop yields – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers talk about growing feed, but North Otago crop and dairy farmer Chris Dennison says he is “harvesting sunshine.”

His world record-breaking crops of barley and oil seed rape were the combination of heavy soils, a coastal environment, reliable water and sustained sunshine, he said.

“Here at Hilderthorpe (just south of the Waitaki River) we get a cool easterly wind which gives a lull in the growing season for cereal and oil seed rape, so the crops can utilise more sunshine.”

Dennison took over the farm from his father Jim in the early 1980s. Traditionally it was a mixed sheep and beef property but when Dennison arrived home he brought with him an interest in cropping. . . 

Waitaki water key to reliable farming – Sally Rae:

Reuben Allan’s dairy shed has one heck of a view.

It overlooks the vast Waitaki River which provides not only recreational opportunities for his family, but also has allowed them to transition from a “feast or famine” dryland operation to one with reliable irrigation.

Mr Allan grew up on Fairway Farm, which used to be a dryland sheep property, near Ikawai.

Irrigation began on the hills in the mid-1990s and the move was made into intensive beef finishing. . . 

Irrigation provides reliability – Sally Rae:

Matt Ross first arrived in North Otago “more by accident”.

But his decision to return, once he completed his university studies, was deliberate as he had identified the potential opportunities in the district.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie operate Kokoamo Farms, which comprise two dairy farms near Duntroon, milking 1730 cows at peak, and lease a run-off property.

Their farming operation is a showcase: lush green grass, extensive plantings, including a wetland development that is home to more than 100,000 plants, and impressive infrastructure. . . 

Still turning them (tractors) on at 85:

North Otago’s Don Fraser is a man who loves his tractors. His love affair has been so intense he is still driving them at the ripe old age of 85.

Part of the hard-working team at EGL Pastoral for 26 years, and a farmer most of his life, Mr Fraser remembers the old style tractors (crawlers) when he first started out and recalls they were so noisy you needed hearing aids. “There was no silencers then and we didn’t have air con back in the day, but then we didn’t need it when a keen souwester was blowing through.” . . .

Sheep Industry Awards celebrate success:

This country’s sheep industry will celebrate its best and brightest at Beef +Lamb New Zealand’s fifth annual New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in the Wairarapa in July.

Entries are open for the Awards which recognises this country’s top sheep farmers, breeders, scientists and industry innovators.

People can put their name forward, or be nominated for the Award categories; Science Trainer of the Year, Innovation, Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Emerging Talent Award. . . 

Focus on forages is key to sustainable farm profits:

Pastoral farming is a huge earner for New Zealand worth over $23 billion in export revenues last year. Forages – the grasses and other plants grazed by farm animals – are a critical part of pastoral farming systems. Industry participants consider there is significant scope to lift the contribution forages make to the underlying productivity and profitability of the pastoral sectors and to achieve these outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

This is why an initiative to improve the sustainability and profitability of New Zealand’s forage grazing systems has the buy-in of everyone representing the pastoral sector. . . 

Bostock New Zealand experiencing highest quality apples for several years:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower is harvesting some of the best quality fruit it’s experienced for years – thanks to near perfect growing and harvesting conditions.

Bostock New Zealand Director, David Brasell says the weather has been outstanding for the harvest and the fruit has sized well.

“The quality of our apples this season is very, very good. The colour is great, the fruit is clean and the size is excellent. . . .

Time to guard against costly nutritional deficits:

A small investment in autumn feed testing can be good insurance against mineral deficiencies in dairy and beef cows that can lead to low growth rates and poor milk yields.

Winter feeds like fodder beet, low pasture phosphorus levels in some regions, and lower seasonal availability for copper can lead to deficiencies of both of these key minerals during late pregnancy, early lactation and calf growth.

Consultant nutritionist to SealesWinslow, Paul Sharp, says for around $100 a comprehensive pasture mineral test will provide the right information to farmers. . . 

Yealands Launches NZ’s First Vineyard Tour Guide App:

The first kiwi wine app that allows the user to take a self-guided vineyard tour – and take in Yealands’ famous White Road hot-spots.

One of the only vineyards to actually let visitors drive through its vineyard, wine innovators, Yealands Wine Group have released a mobile application that allows visitors to its Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough the unique opportunity of taking their own self-guided vineyard tour. . .


Rural round-up

April 8, 2016

Two new irrigation champions recognised:

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

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

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

Power to the people – Anee Hardie:

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

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

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

Carrfields wins Innovation Award for irrigator stabiliser:

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

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

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

South America set to dominate beef trade – Allan Barrber:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IrrigationNZ and Feds ask for scientific integrity:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ideal conditions for sowing:

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

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

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

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

Report Shows Strong Future for Organic Products:

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

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

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

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

Weaker Dollar Moves Wool Up:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Farmers Are Awesome's photo.

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


Rural round-up

February 16, 2016

Surviving the dairy downturn – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks the short term dairy outlook has turned from bad to awful. Fonterra’s recently revised milksolids price estimate of $4.15 for the current 1015/16 season has already been overtaken by events, and is once again looking decidedly optimistic.

I now see a figure of about $3.90 as being more likely, but still with plus or minus 40c around that. Even more important, no longer can we ignore the likelihood that dairy prices are going to stay low for at least the first half of the 2016/17 dairy season, and possibly for all of that season.

Most but not all of the farmers I have contact with are going to come through relatively unscathed. But that is not the case for those who have both high costs of production and high debt. We are now facing a situation which New Zealand farmers have not faced since the 1980s. . . 

Broker warns average dairy farmer may lose $140k this season – Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – Financial broker OMF is warning the average New Zealand dairy farmer is likely to lose $140,760 this season, with next year looking just as grim.

In its monthly New Zealand dairy report OMF suggests there is a further risk that Fonterra Cooperative Group could lower payouts again, pointing to a potential milk price of $3.89 per kilogram of milk solids. Fonterra lowered prices on Jan. 28 to $4.15/kgMS. OMF estimates the current cost of production is $5.31/kgMS.

OMF said dairy farmers are likely to face a third season of weak prices, with many becoming increasingly reliant on credit lines and vulnerable to a shift in banks’ willingness to “extend and pretend” loans are going to be repaid. DairyNZ estimates 85 percent of dairy farmers will make a loss this season compared to 49 percent last season. . . 

Seafood exports reach $1.63 billion:

New Zealand seafood exports reached a record high of $1.63 billion last year, up over 6 per cent on 2014.

The growth was most pronounced in the final two months of the year, says Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst.

Up to the end of October export growth was tracking at about 3 per cent but increased demand in November and December pushed the growth to over 20 per cent for those two months and lifted total growth for the year to 6.6 per cent. . . 

Ex-deer farmers drawn back by strong returns:

Deer farmers who left the industry for brighter pastures in dairy are being drawn back by strong returns for venison and velvet, a south Canterbury deer farmer says.

Kris Orange farms 1600 weaner deer on 260 hectares in Geraldine, South Canterbury and 1000 hinds on a farm at Dunback, Otago.

He said venison prices were up more than $1 on last year’s returns, sitting at about $7.20kg, with expectations of strong growth in the next five to 10 years. . . 

Four finalists named for IrrigationNZ’s Innovation Award:

For the second time – IrrigationNZ has shortlisted four finalists for its ‘Innovation in Irrigation Award’ sponsored by Aqualinc – which will be presented at the organisation’s biennial conference in early April.

New technologies, products, practices or community collaborations that reflect innovation within the irrigation sector are the focus of the award, which is only presented every second year.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says the external judging panel had struggled to keep the shortlist to the normal three, so four finalists have been chosen this year. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand making global connections:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand teamed up with Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand Institute (LCBNZ) recently to host six chefs from China – winners of the global “Chef par Excellence” culinary competition.

The institute and Sealord New Zealand were the main sponsors and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) was invited to arrange a day’s activity for the chefs.

B+LNZ General Manager Market Development Nick Beeby says the opportunity was too good to pass up, particularly given the group’s influential travel members. . . 

SealesWinslow mills receive quality stamp:

SealesWinslow has attained FeedSafeNZ accreditation across all of its mills, recognising the high quality of the animal feed products they make.

FeedSafeNZ is a quality stamp from the New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) for manufacturers and blenders, designed to enhance the quality assurance of stockfeed. . . 

Synlait Strengthens Senior Team to Drive Value Growth And Business Performance:

Three new senior management positions will add business development and process improvement capability to Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team.

Managing Director and CEO John Penno said the decision follows an assessment of business areas that require additional focus to ensure the company continues to deliver against its growth aspirations.

“Building our business development capability will significantly improve our ability to take advantage of emerging opportunities that will accelerate our growth,” said Mr Penno. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 5, 2015

Fonterra expected to meet its forecast payout as lower production boosts prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is expected to be able to meet its forecast payout to farmers for this season even after dairy prices fell at a second consecutive auction.

Average prices fell 7.4 percent at last night’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, following a 3.1 percent decline the previous auction, which snapped four consecutive gains.

Auckland-based Fonterra, owned by about 10,500 farmers, has said it expects to pay its local producers $4.60 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2015/16 season. . . 

Women of Influence 2015 finalists: Rural

The finalists for the 2015 Women of Influence Awards in the Rural category, proudly sponsored by NZ Farmer.

Olivia Egerton

Olivia is movement manager for Te Hono, a movement of more than 130 CEOs and leaders who represent 80% of New Zealand’s largest and most innovative primary sector companies. Its vision is to shift New Zealand from a price-taking to a market-shaping nation. In the last 12 months Olivia has facilitated the transition of Te Hono towards a structured framework with more than 250 individual and collective actions achieved and many more in progress. . . 

Keri Johnston

Keri is a director and natural resources engineer at Irricon Resource Solutions, a leading environmental consultancy based throughout Canterbury and North Otago and working throughout the South Island. . . 

Julia Jones

Julia is a farm enterprise specialist with KPMG, providing continued support to the rural community through mediation and one-on-one support. One of Julia’s specialities is health and safety. . . .

Katie Milne

Katie is a Rotomanu dairy farmer on the West Coast, and a Federated Farmers’ board member. Katie was most recently awarded the Dairy Woman of the Year Award this year. With her partner, Ian Whitmore, she farms 125 hectares, milking 200 Jersey cows on a farm purchased in 1992. . . 

Bronwyn Muir

Brownyn is director of OnFarmSafety New Zealand, employing 12 staff throughout New Zealand, and focused on assisting farmers to implement compliant, practical, workable health and safety systems. . . .

Helen Slattery

Helen is a director of Slattery Contracting, Matamata’s only registered contractor with the New Zealand Rural Registered Contractor scheme, and she holds qualified contractor status. Five of the staff are qualified contractors, holding the National Certificate in Agricultural Contracting Level 3, with a sixth staff member going through the qualification at the moment.. . . 

Sophie Stanley

Sophie is head of rural at Figured, having started as part of the founding team in early 2014. Figured is an online farm financial management tool that integrates with Xero, and within a year the company has grown to close to 20 staff as well as growing its Australian business. . . . 

Michelle Thompson

Michelle is the chief executive at the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and was instrumental in establishing this organisation. She is an experienced chief executive and senior manager who has provided services to a range of health sector organisations including the NZ Rural GP Network, the PHO Alliance, General Practice NZ, Compass Health, Southern Cross and Kowhai Health Trust. . . . 

The winners were announced last night. Katie Milne won the Rural section, Joan Withers won the Supreme Award.

IrrigationNZ launches 2015 snapshot of industry:

IrrigationNZ will launch its first-ever annual snapshot of New Zealand’s irrigation sector at today’s AGM in response to enquiries about the health of the industry and proposed developments across the country.

“The 2015 Irrigation Snapshot provides a transparent window on irrigation in New Zealand – where we irrigate, what’s happening with future developments, how much water we use, what it is taken for and the value this creates for our nation. Many stakeholders have asked for an update on the status of irrigation so we’ve pulled together the latest data to illustrate the national situation,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. . . .

Farmers welcome Filipino workers’ reprieve:

Farmers are pleased at the government’s offer of a second chance for Filipino dairy workers caught in visa scams.

Applicants who admit to providing false information about their work experience in order to gain a visa, but who are otherwise compliant, will be eligible for a further work visa.

But workers and advocacy groups are still concerned there could be snags in the process.

Immigration New Zealand has been reviewing the past year’s visa applications from Filipinos after a dual Filipino/New Zealand national was charged with falsifying qualifications and work experience in visa applications. . . 

Wine industry welcomes registration system for wine regions:

Introduction of a Bill by Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith enabling geographical indications (GIs) for wines and spirits to be registered in New Zealand has been warmly welcomed by New Zealand Winegrowers.

“The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Amendment Bill will be a significant advance for the New Zealand wine industry,” said New Zealand Winegrowers CEO, Philip Gregan. “Our ‘Geographical Indications’ – the names and places where our wines come from – are at the very heart of the New Zealand wine story and this Bill provides an additional level of protection for them.” . . .

First Cheese Off the Line at Fonterra’s Eltham Expansion:

The expansion of Fonterra’s Eltham site has reached a key milestone, with the first individually wrapped slices of cheese now coming off its new production line destined for supermarket shelves around the globe.

The new line is part of a $32 million project to bolster the site’s cheese capability, doubling the amount of the world-renowned sliced cheese that can be produced at the Taranaki-based site.

Director New Zealand Manufacturing, Mark Leslie says Fonterra is constantly looking at trends in key markets and working with customers to help meet their growth with investment. . . 

Nominations in for Silver Fern Farms’ director elections:

Four nominations have been received for the one available position on the Silver Fern Farms Board of Directors.

Angus Mabin retires by rotation at the Company’s 2015 Annual Meeting which is to be held in Dunedin on Wednesday 16 December 2015. Angus Mabin has advised he will not stand for re-election.

The candidates for election are:

– Anthony O’Boyle

– William Oliver

– Oliver Saxton

– David Shaw . . .

Agricultural economics explained with an analogy to solar and wind power – Utopia:

It’s a video, click the link to watch (there’s a few words that might offend).


Rural round-up

May 28, 2015

Surveyor believes in power of cooperative model, but says it’s up to farmers – Allan Barber:

Four months into his new job as CEO of Alliance, David Surveyor is really loving the challenge of heading a global business which is so crucial to farmers, consumers and New Zealand as a whole. He has always been interested in the agrifood space, as he terms it, and enjoys getting to know New Zealand through its agricultural producers.

In contrast with his previous roles in steel and building materials, the biggest difference in the meat industry is the question of livestock supply with so many factors outside the company’s control. Variable climatic conditions and land use change are just two of the main ones. At Alliance its cooperative status demands a lot of time seeing things from the supplier perspective which is not such a major factor in manufacturing industries, while all meat companies need to spend more time focused on the market. . .

Positive Signs Ahead as Farmers Look to Put Season Behind Them:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said Farmers will be cautiously optimistic following today’s announcement by Fonterra of an opening forecast Milk Price for the 2015/16 season of $5.25 per kg/MS, including an opening advance rate of $3.66 per kg/MS.

Mr Brown: “Farmers will view next season’s forecast as a positive given the situation we have experienced this past season.

“They will also see the announcement as a signal from their Board that the market should start to move in a positive direction in the near future, which is welcome news. . .

Fonterra Announces Board Change:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Sir Ralph Norris has indicated he will not seek to continue his term on the Fonterra Board, following the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 25 November 2015.

Sir Ralph joined the Board in May 2012 as an Independent Director, and made this decision because of his other commitments.

Sir Ralph is also resigning from the Board of the Manager of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, from 25 November 2015. . . 

Funding bost for Irrigation Acceleration Fund:

Irrigation projects will receive a kick-start of $25 million in operating funding for five years from 2016/17 through the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This funding will help to complete the investigation and development of new regional scale irrigation proposals,” says Mr Guy.

“The need for more water storage projects is obvious given that nearly every part of the country has suffered through drought at some stage over the past three years.

“Providing a reliable water supply for farmers and growers has massive potential to boost growth, creating jobs and exports in provincial regions.” . . .

New Zealand National Party's photo.

Call for more water storage heard by Government – more funding allocated:

IrrigationNZ today welcomed the post budget announcement by Primary Industries Minister, Nathan Guy, of a $25 million allocation of new funding to the Irrigation Acceleration Fund.

“This will boost the development stages of water storage and irrigation distribution infrastructure, which is desperately needed in our summer dry east coast regions. Reliable water supply will sustain communities and maintain the environmental health of their rivers,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Chair.

“With additional IAF funds contributing to the early stages of this infrastructure development, it will be essential that RMA process reforms that empower collaboration also occur so that the funds do not go to waste,” says Mrs Hyslop. . .

Choice of chair underlines importance of forest safety:

A safety council has been set-up, chaired by Dame Alison Paterson, to make forests safer places to work. Establishing the council was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel that reviewed forest safety in 2014.

The Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) was launched tonight at a function at parliament. Its board includes representatives of forest owners, contractors, workers, unions and Worksafe New Zealand. Funding will come from the Forest Grower Levy and from government – ACC and Worksafe. . .

Kanuka right at home on winning farm – Kate Taylor:

Kanuka is very much part of our landscape, says Simon Beamish, who with wife Josi was named the 2015 Pan Pac Hawke’s Bay Farm Forester of the Year in April.

They farm alongside the Ngaruroro River that slices between the Kaweka and Ruahine ranges in Hawke’s Bay, west of Hastings, with the farm rising to 690 metres above sea level.

Their 1121ha Awapai and 992ha Waitata properties have been owned by the Beamish family for almost 130 years. They were both part of the original Whanawhana block leased and then freeholded by Simon’s great great grandfather Nathaniel Beamish in 1886. Nathaniel’s son George was sent up to manage the block of land at the young age of 18. . .

Cervena venison piloted in Europe:

New Zealand venison exporters have started a trial to test the appetite of European consumers for Cervena venison in the summer grilling season.

The trial, which began in April, is part of the Passion2Profit initiative that was formally launched today at the Deer Industry Conference in Napier. P2P is a joint venture between the deer industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership programme.

“We are really excited that this pilot is underway. Launching Cervena in Europe has been talked about in the deer industry for many years, but it needs careful branding and substantial promotional support to make it a sales success,” says DINZ venison manager Innes Moffat. . .

Horticulture’s future may lay with city slickers:

Increasing urbanisation means more support for initiatives like the ‘NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’ is needed to encourage fresh talent into primary industries, like horticulture, to sustain this country’s edge as a top quality food producer.

The horticultural industry has a bright future and is fundamentally important to New Zealand’s economy, but the fact that more than 85 per cent of kids under 15* now live in urban areas is prompting some of the country’s top companies to throw their weight behind career awareness and development initiatives in the sector. . .

Rural Connectivity Symposium 2015 gets underway today:

After months of planning TUANZ and RHAANZ are delighted to announce that the Rural Connectivity Symposium kicks off in Wellington today.

“The event has sold out with over 150 people attending. The Symposium will be opened by the Communications Minister, The Hon. Amy Adams and has been well supported by sponsors across the health and ICT spectrum” said Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ.

“Rural satellite service provider, Wireless Nation, is the premier sponsor for our one-day event, which is a mixture of presentations and workshops.” . .

New dairy mineral blend ticks all the boxes:

As mineral deficiencies continue to cost dairy farmers time, money, livestock and lost production, a unique new mineral blend is offering a comprehensive, cost-effective solution.

Developed specifically for New Zealand dairying by BEC Feed Solutions, Main Stay Macro Minerals, delivers key nutritional minerals in a convenient, palatable, accurate and dust-free blend. And, because it incorporates the revolutionary Bolifor Mag 33 and MGP+ Magnesium products, farmers won’t have to worry about pasture dusting again, consequently saving valuable time and labour costs. . .


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