Rural round-up

June 16, 2019

Industry shifts from volume to value – Sally Rae:

A long-term “erosion of confidence” in the primary sector needs to be reversed, KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot says.

The 2019 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda was launched this week at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, the 10th year it has been published.

In his introduction to the report, Mr Proudfoot said confidence was low despite the progress the industry had made over the last year.

Efforts to encourage farmers and growers to celebrate their role as food producers had not fallen on deaf ears but the positive messages had, on occasion, been “drowned out by a chorus of criticism”, most of which had been unbalanced, he said.

“If you have been told for years that you are the past, that you are bad for the environment, that you underpay your labour, even if you know these claims to be inherently wrong, many end up believing them. It is this long-term erosion of confidence that needs to be reversed.” . . 

Massey finds a new model for baby beef – Richard Rennie:

Twin drivers of environmental and welfare pressure on farmers when dealing with bobby calves prompted Massey University researchers to explore options that will also deliver an economic return to farmers.

Two years into the New Generation Beef project, team leader Dr Nicola Schreurs said initial results indicate taking bobby calves with Jersey genetics and rearing them to eight, 10 or 12 months for processing delivers a product with market potential.

“We are also being careful to distinguish New Generation beef from veal, which, technically, under European Union definitions, it is. But veal brings its own often negative connotations we would rather avoid.” . . 

Changes are needed at Landcorp – Alan Emmerson:

I’ve just read the Landcorp, Pamu as they like to be known, annual report. In a word, it is nauseating.

They start by telling us their vision is to be the premium supplier of meat, milk and fibre for niche markets. 

“We pursue this vision with strategies based on Pamu’s six capitals – strategies for excellence in farming and adding value for products, investors, people and the environment.”

It is an 82-page, heady tome telling us, among other things, they’re supplying markets in Australia, China, Europe North America and more.

The acting chairman and chief executive told us “Pamu enters its fifth year of delivering on our strategy of operational excellence in creating value beyond the farm gate with real momentum.”

They’re into farm wellbeing, gender equity, animal welfare, environmental assessments farm by farm, (who isn’t) and relationships with tangata whenua.

They’ve surveyed stakeholders including our old mates at Greenpeace. What they could add they didn’t say. . . 

NZ primary industry exports seen rising 7.1% this year – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The government expects primary industry export revenue will rise 7.1 percent to $45.7 billion in the June year, but predicts growth will be flatter in the future.

The lift marks the “second straight year of substantial export growth,” said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor when he presented the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook report for June 2019 at Fieldays. Export revenue was $42.7 billion in the prior year, up 11.7 percent. . .

 

The man who helped feed the world – Tim Harford:

In the early 1900s, newlyweds Cathy and Cappy Jones left Connecticut in the US to start a new life as farmers in north-west Mexico’s Yaqui Valley, a little-known dry and dusty place, a few hundred kilometres south of the Arizona border.

When Cappy died in 1931, Cathy decided to stay on. By then she had a new neighbour: the Yaqui Valley Experiment Station, a grand agricultural research centre with impressive stone pillars, and cleverly designed irrigation canals.

For a while, the centre raised cattle, sheep and pigs, and grew oranges, figs and grapefruit.

But by 1945, the fields were overgrown, the fences fallen and the windows shattered. The station was infested with rats. . .  

Strawberry growers asked to vote on a levy proposal:

Strawberry Growers New Zealand Board is asking growers to vote on a proposal to apply for a levy on strawberries, with voting papers going out today.

Following extensive consultation with growers and other stakeholders, Strawberry Growers New Zealand (SGNZ) are calling for all commercial strawberry growers to vote in a referendum to determine if there is a clear mandate from growers to apply for a commodity levy.

A levy rate of $26 per 1000 strawberry plants sold is being proposed, with support being sought to apply to the Minister for Agriculture for a Commodity Levies Order on strawberries. . . 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2019

Job offers roll in for Trainee of the Year – Yvonne O’Hara:

When Caycee Cormack left school she had intended to study physical education at Otago University, as she played a lot of sport.

At that stage she had not even considered working in the dairy industry as a career option.

Now she is the Southland/Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year and has a dozen job offers to consider.

This was the second time Ms Cormack had entered the competition – she placed third last year.

The win was even more remarkable because when she went through the final judging, she had only been out of hospital for two days after having her appendix removed.

Ms Cormack said she enjoyed the challenge of the competition. . . 

Landcorp will stick to its guns – Neal Wallace:

There are few roles in agriculture that have eluded Warren Parker’s career – except full-time farming, though he does live on a lifestyle block near Rotorua. Neal Wallace spoke to the new Landcorp chairman.

Now, more than ever, New Zealand agriculture needs a trailblazer, an entity with size and scope to test new systems and ventures,  new Landcorp chairman Warren Parker says.

He is happy for the state-owned enterprise, also known as Pamu, to be that entity given the breadth of challenges, from integrated farming systems to water and nutrient management and reducing its environmental footprint, farming faces. . . 

On a mission to lasso youth – Yvonne O’Hara:

Brooke Flett is keen to encourage young people to get involved in the agriculture sector.

After all, her passion for stock and for dairying led her to her career and to winning the 2018 Southern District Harcourts Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Rural Ambassador Award.

She also won last year’s Young Farmers national stock-judging competition and the 2017 RAS Young Judge of the Year – Dairy.

Ms Flett attended the Royal Agricultural Society’s 2019 junior judging competition at Waikaka two weeks ago, which fitted in with her desire to encourage more young people to learn about stock management, enter shows and view agriculture as a career. . . 

Chipping in on the West Coast:

Our Emergency Response Team is lending a hand to get farms back up and running in the aftermath of recent storm.

You’ll find them following floods, in the sweep of storms and helping after hurricanes.

When natural disaster strikes members of Fonterra’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) can be quick to the scene to help farmers and New Zealand communties deal with often overwhelming recovery situations, such as the 2017 Edgecumbe flood

Right now a group of our ERT is working on the West Coast to help other kiwi farmers fix the storm damage and get farms functioning following the recent bout of bad weather.

National ERT Response Director Kevin Lockley says their current focus is fixing ruined fences and the crew of five working at Hokitika were selected because they have the best skills for the job. . . 

WHO pulls support from initiative promoting global move to plant based foods:

The World Health Organization pulled out of sponsoring a global initiative promoting healthier and sustainable diets across the world after pressure from an Italian official who raised concerns about the impact of the diet on people’s health and livelihoods.

The event—the launch of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health in Geneva, Switzerland on 28 March—still went ahead, sponsored by the government of Norway.

WHO dropped its planned sponsorship after Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s ambassador and permanent representative of Italy to the international organizations in Geneva, questioned the scientific basis for the diet which is focused on promoting predominantly plant based foods, and excluding foods deemed unhealthy, including meat and other animal based foods. . . 

Welfare the nub of mobile processing – Alastair Dowie:

Animal welfare and reduced stress is the core belief behind the development of a new mobile livestock processing system by Victorian-based company Provenir.

Provenir chief executive and co-founder Chris Balazs said the system introduced a unique, on-farm processing solution that provided the highest animal welfare by eliminating the need for live animal transport prior to processing.

Mr Balazs, a farmer, said the mobile processing unit (MPU) system was created to improve animal welfare and advance sustainable farming practices. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2019

Bulleid passionate about wool education, knitting – Sally Rae:

Andrea Bulleid loves wool.

That passion has led her to launch her own fledgling business, The Sheep’s Back, in a bid to promote the natural fibre and teach the art of knitting.

Mrs Bulleid and husband Chris, who have children Dylan, Gemma and Blake, farm sheep and beef at Longridge North in Northern Southland.

It is a third-generation family farm and they run 4500 Romney breeding ewes and 1200 hoggets in conjunction with a breeding and finishing cow herd. . . 

Working with farmers ‘makes’ the job – Sally Rae:

Amy Watts might spend her days working with animals but, as she puts it, her job is really about working with farmers.

And it was those relationships forged with farmers throughout Central Otago that ‘‘makes’’ her job as a vet.

A large animal vet, predominantly working with sheep, beef and deer, Ms Watts said it was the relationships — and learning from each other — that made it a rewarding career.

Originally from a farm in Hawkes Bay, she did not get accepted into vet school at Massey University the first time around. . . 

New Zealand apricot growers excited by the release of new varieties:

Three “game-changing” New Zealand apricot varieties have just been commercially released to growers this season.

The new trees produced their first fruit this season since being planted several years ago, but it will be another few years before commercial quantities are picked and marketing of the fruit gets underway – both domestically and overseas.

The new varieties are the result of a partnership between industry group Summerfruit NZ and Crown Research Institute Plant & Food Research. It has been described as a painstakingly slow process, with varieties selected for desirable attributes and then crossed with other varieties, leaving researchers to wait several years to see the outcome. . . 

Fourth generation farmers announced as Ballance Winners:

White Rock Mains, owned and operated by Duncan and Tina Mackintosh, was announced the Regional Supreme Winner at this evening’s 2019 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards champion sustainable farming and growing through an awards programme which sees one Regional Supreme Winner selected from each of the 11 regions involved. These Regional Supreme Winners will be profiled at the Awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton, on Thursday 6 June, with each in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The Mackintoshes are Regional Supreme Winners thanks to their determination and hard work, particularly in regard to helping their environment prosper. The couple recently established a 91ha QEII covenant on-farm. . . 

Genuine passion for environment, industry and community sees Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers win the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers, Nick and Nicky Dawson, have won the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The couple have farmed the 186ha property, Glenelg, at Patoka in the Hastings district since 2001. Since then, the structure has evolved to become a 50:50 equity partnership with Opiki dairy farmers Stuart and Ann McPhail, trading as Great Glen Farming Ltd.

Outside the partnership, the Dawsons are leasing a neighbouring 500ha sheep and beef farm, which is run by their son Ben. They also have two daughters, Libby at university and Felicity in Year 11. . . 

‘It’s probably over for us’: record flooding pummels midwest when farmers can least afford it – Mitch Smith, Jack Healy & Timothy Williams:

 Ice chunks the size of small cars ripped through barns and farmhouses. Baby calves were swept into freezing floodwaters, washing up dead along the banks of swollen rivers. Farm fields were now lakes.

The record floods that have pummeled the Midwest are inflicting a devastating toll on farmers and ranchers at a moment when they can least afford it, raising fears that this natural disaster will become a breaking point for farms weighed down by falling incomes, rising bankruptcies and the fallout from President Trump’s trade policies.

“When you’re losing money to start with, how do you take on extra losses?” asked Clint Pischel, 23, of Niobrara, Neb., whose lowland fields were flooded by the ice-filled Niobrara River after a dam failed. He spent Monday gathering 30 dead baby calves from his family’s ranch in this northern region of the state, finding their bodies under huge chunks of ice. . . 


Rural round-up

March 15, 2019

Farmers feeling nervous in regulatory environment – Sally Rae:

A high level of nervousness is apparent in the rural sector around the regulatory environment farmers are facing, Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says.

Both Mr Taggart and chief executive David Surveyor were at the Wanaka A&P Show last week, meeting farmers.

With strong commodity prices – apart from strong wool – and low interest rates, normally farmers would be quite positive, but they were not seeing that, Mr Taggart said. . . 

No land insurance means farmer pays in the aftermath of Nelson bush fire – Carly Gooch:

In the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fires, one farmer’s land has been left a mess due to fire breaks covering the pasture – so who’s going to pay for the clean up?

Pauline Marshall was one of the first residents evacuated from her Teapot Valley home, along with her son, Simon Marshall. They were unable to return to their properties for 17 days, with the exception of getting access a few hours a day, at best. 

The Marshalls were “extremely grateful” to the fire crews for saving their homes, but after those unsettling times, now the Marshalls are facing the unknown cost of rehabilitating the pasture before winter hits.  . . 

Future Angus leader learns from conference – Ken Muir:

reminder that farming is not just about profit was one of the important takeaways for Rockley Angus stud farmer Katherine McCallum after she attended the GenAngus Future Leaders programme in Sydney in February.

”The programme is designed to support the younger Angus breeders in Australia and New Zealand to grow their business and develop the skills to become future industry leaders”, Mrs McCallum said.

”It was an honour to be chosen from among the New Zealand applicants.” . . 

Fonterra making a move to environmentally friendly fuel option

–  Angie Skerrett:

A new diesel biofuel made from an agricultural by-product is helping power Fonterra’s milk tanker fleet, and it’s hoped more transport operators will follow suit.

Z Energy has built New Zealand’s first commercial scale bio-diesel plant, using a process which turns an unwanted tallow product, usually exported to make soap and candles, to make the high quality diesel. . .

Red-fleshed kiwifruit to be tested in NZ – Maja Burry:

A red fleshed kiwifruit variety is being tested on New Zealanders.

As part of a sales trial, the kiwifruit marketer and exporter Zespri will release 30,000 trays of Zespri Red to both national supermarket chains and selected retailers over the next five weeks.

The company said it wanted to know what consumers and retailers thought about the shelf-life, taste and colouring of the kiwifruit before it decided whether to move to full commercialisation. . . 

130,000 bees go under the microscope :

Sampling has been completed for the largest and most detailed study of honey bee health ever undertaken in New Zealand.

More than 60 beekeepers have participated in Biosecurity New Zealand’s Bee Pathogen Programme.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist, Dr Richard Hall, says the research will provide a wealth of valuable information to the beekeeping industry. . .

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy join forces in carbon afforestation partnership:

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy have today announced the formation of Dryland Carbon LLP (Drylandcarbon), a limited liability partnership that will see the four companies invest in the establishment of a geographically diversified forest portfolio to sequester carbon.

Drylandcarbon will target the purchase and licensing of marginal land suited to afforestation to establish a forest portfolio predominantly comprising permanent forests, with some production forests. The primary objective is to produce a stable supply of forestry-generated NZU carbon credits, but the initiative will also expand New Zealand’s national forest estate. These credits will support the partners to meet their annual requirements under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. . . 


Rural round-up

December 10, 2018

Farmers are up to the challenge of meeting climate change targets – William Rolleston:

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its special report on the actions needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  This, it said, would require “transformative systemic change” involving “far-reaching, multilevel and cross-sectorial mitigation”.

The report says limiting warming to 1.5C implies reaching net zero CO₂ emissions globally by around 2050 and “deep reductions” in short-lived gases such as methane.

The report recognises that, as a long-lived gas, CO₂ accumulates in the atmosphere, whereas methane from agriculture (while a strong greenhouse gas) is recycled through the system. . . 

Farmers act on sustainability:

Taihape farmers are exploring ways to ensure environmental sustainability while improving the profits from their sheep and beef farms.

The Taihape Action Group formed under the Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network, which had its first get-together in July, comprises nine farming businesses within a 50km radius of the central North Island town.

It is at an early stage of the profit-growing process. 

The farmers involved are developing individual action plans that set out the on-farm changes they want to make. . . 

The power of a farmer’s story – Jennie Schmidt:

Christmas is a season for stories. We tell tales about the Nativity and the three kings. We also laugh about the time when Uncle Klaus wore the awful sweater to the family dinner.

Stories are the most powerful form of communication available to us. That’s why the four most compelling words in the English language may be: “Once upon a time.”

Farmers don’t always appreciate this fact, especially when we’re discussing our own business of agriculture. We’re inclined to mention inputs and outputs, moisture levels, yields, commodity prices, and more. You know: farmer talk. 

The challenge increases when our conversations turn to technology, and especially when they involve new technologies, including GMO crops, gene editing, and so on. At this point, our rhetoric can sound like boring passages from science textbooks. They’re about as interesting as the homework that none of us miss from our school days. . . 

Waikato farmers acting early on effluent management:

We talk to three Waikato farmers involved in our Dairy Environment Leaders programme, about how they’re managing effluent on their farms.

Ian Taylor, Puketaha

When constructing a new effluent pond, Ian set his sights firmly on the future, by choosing a system that far exceeded minimum standards.

He’d been planning an effluent pond for a while, but was waiting on results from a project investigating how effluent runs through peat soil. However, a very wet spring last year prompted him to act earlier than expected. . . 

Smith keen to work with farmers – Annette Scott:

New primary industries director-general Ray Smith is a self-acclaimed passionate Kiwi who wants his fifth generation New Zealand children to experience a bit of the NZ he grew up with. He talked to Annette Scott on a visit to meet farmers in Ashburton.

Just three weeks into his new job as primary industries director-general Ray Smith was hungry for information and couldn’t get his teeth into his new patch soon enough.

He heard about a meeting being facilitated by Federated Farmers in Ashburton for farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and made a call to ask if he could invite himself. . . 

China remains the key to dairy prices – Mark Daniel:

China remains the key to where the global marketplace is heading in dairy prices, says Westpac economist Anne Boniface.

Speaking at a recent Owl Farm focus day at St Peters School, Cambridge, Boniface said China’s growth had slipped from 6.9% to 6.3% in the past 12 months.

However, she believes Chinese consumer spending is still strong, with any economic slowdown due to a squeeze on credit for larger capital projects. . . 

How precision agriculture can transform the agritech sector and improve the lot of every Indian farmer – Shruti Kedia:

Using big data, satellite imaging and Internet of Things, Precision Agriculture can help address low productivity, lack of farm mechanisation, access to markets, and increase crop yields.

In 1965, India’s green revolution led to a sharp increase in crop yields and farmers’ income. Decades later, could a tech revolution change the way this agrarian country farms?

The answer is, yes it can. In fact, it already is. . . 

 


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