Rural round-up

July 28, 2020

Synthetics out in favour of natural fibres – Sally Rae:

Carpet-maker Cavalier is ditching synthetics in favour of wool and other natural fibres, citing “negative impacts on people’s health and the planet”.

The listed company yesterday unveiled a new transformational strategy, saying it would transition away from the manufacture and supply of synthetic fibre carpets over the next 12 months and existing synthetic stocks would be sold down.

In its strategy, the company said the long-term dangers posed by plastics were becoming clear. Plastic was a global problem and manufacturers needed to be part of the solution.

The impact that plastics had on human health was not yet fully understood, but early studies suggested that microplastics entering the body were a potential threat. The average Kiwi home with synthetic carpet was similar to having 22,000 plastic bags on the floor, by weight, it said. . . 

From lipstick to gum boots :

City girl becomes ‘Gumboot Girl’ and helps introduce sustainable practices on Northland dairy farm.

For years Jo Wood worked as a beauty therapist in Auckland. She was, in her words, “a city slicker”.

But then she “fell into” another job, one about as far removed from the glamour of make-up, manicures and pedicures as it’s possible to get.

Working in gumboots and a singlet, these days she walks the pastures of a 350ha dairy farm located on the coast between the Northland towns of Wellsford and Warkworth – and is known to one and all by her alter ego ‘Gumboot Girl‘. . .

 

Wools NZ elects new chairman – Annette Scott:

Former Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parson has been elected chairman of Wools NZ to lead the organisation in a new direction post covid-19.

The recognised industry leader, well known for his past chairmanship of Beef and Lamb NZ and the NZ Meat Board, Parsons was initially elected to the board by growers at the organisation’s annual meeting in November.    

The grower-owned strong wool marketing and export company has now embarked on a new era post covid-19 to re-orientate its strategic direction.

Parsons, a Northland sheep and beef farmer believes he well understands the industry challenges from a grassroots perspective. . . 

What’s next for the wool industry? – Annette Scott:

Step one of the wool industry’s Vision and Action report has connected the stakeholders now Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says the next step must lead to real purpose.

“It’s absolutely crucial the next step is real purpose, this report will most certainly not be sitting gathering dust,” O’Connor said.

“The project action group (PAG) has rounded up the situation, connected with industry players and provided some real guidance for the next step.

“With the absence of major initiatives from the industry I have to be responsible to put something up.”  . . 

Alliance to spend $3.2m on upgrade :

Alliance Group is to spend $3.2million on a further upgrade at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to help improve operational efficiency.

The plant’s engine room two, which provides key refrigeration for four cold stores, some blast freezers and several product chillers will receive upgraded safety features, equipment and building structure.

The programme would improve the company’s ability to control the refrigeration system remotely and provide a platform for further investment, Alliance said in a statement.

It would also give an opportunity to have more control points and sensors, improve the ability to provide automation control and result in ‘‘significant’’ savings through energy efficiency. . . 

Welsh unions highlight farmers’ role in fighting climate change :

Wales’ two farming unions have highlighted the vital role of agriculture in helping the UK to address the threat of climate change.

NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales held a virtual meeting with the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion, Nigel Topping, who was appointed by the prime minister in January.

In addition to wider discussions around climate change, the roundtable event provided a platform to discuss the ‘Race to Zero’ campaign.

The international campaign aims to strive for a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery, which was launched on World Environment Day and will run up to COP26 . . .


Rural round-up

December 21, 2018

Taratahi agri training operator in interim liquidation – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre has been placed into interim liquidation at the request of its board of trustees as declining student numbers saw its funding drop faster than it could cut costs.

The High Court yesterday appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton as interim liquidators after the board sought to protect the position of its staff, students, creditors and other stakeholders, the accounting firm said.

Taratahi is a private training establishment, employing 250 staff, and educating 2,850 students this year. It owns and manages eight farms across the country. . . 

IrrigationNZ welcomes new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

“IrrigationNZ has recently adopted a new strategy which focuses on creating an environment for the responsible use of water for food production. As part of the strategy we will be focusing on advocacy, encouraging innovation through sharing ideas and adopting new technology, developing a robust information base, bringing the irrigation sector, researchers and decision makers together to make better decisions for our future and creating world‑leading irrigation standards,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Board Chair.

“Elizabeth has a strong background in water management, law and policy and she will help contribute to all of these goals but she is particularly well qualified to contribute to national discussions as we seek to achieve solutions to complex issues around water allocation which result in good outcomes for both communities and the environment.” . . 

Feds welcome new IrrigationNZ chief executive:

Federated Farmers welcomes Elizabeth Soal as the new chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand.

Federated Farmers maintains an excellent working relationship with Irrigation New Zealand,” Feds water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Elizabeth has the credentials and background, including her strategy and policy work for the Waitaki Irrigators Collective, to help ensure INZ continues its excellent work.” . .

Federated Farmers disputes E Coli claims – Eric Frykberg:

There is no proof that E. Coli found in three Canterbury rivers came from cows, according to Federated Farmers.

Research commissioned by Fish and Game found dangerous pathogens in three Canterbury rivers – the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata.

Fish and Game insisted the cause was leaching from dairy farms.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the problem could be caused by wildlife, or human activity, as well as from animals. . . 

Research suggests we should take a harder look at the benefits of organic foods – Point of Order:

The Green Party’s food policy may need revisiting, in the light of research published in the past week.

The policy was introduced in May 2017 by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, who lost her list place in Parliament at the general election.

How we produce, distribute and consume food is of critical importance to growing resilient healthy communities, minimising our ecological footprint and maintaining a
stable economy, she said.  That’s why food policy lies at the heart of Green policy. . . 

Reflections on the year that was – Allan Barber:

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

MPI is cautiously optimistic the disease can be eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before anyone can say with confidence that the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for certain, one way or the other. . . 

Guy Trafford finishes 2018 with a GDT review, news of a new Fish & Game river survey, calling out plant-based-milk, and an update on the MPB eradication – Guy Trafford:

An ever so slight increase in the Global Dairy Trade price for whole milk powder with a +0.3% lift. It may not put much of a smile on farmers faces but at least it is a not a drop.

Overall the GDT went up by +1.7% with both butter and cheddar making gains with lifts of +4.9% and +2.2% respectively so not such a poor result. With this now being the second – be they small – lift in a row and we have to go back almost 12 months before we had a repeat of two consecutive sales lifting. Dairy Futures had predicted a higher 3% lift in WMP for this period and with volumes sold down 0.7% on the previous sale, which was also down, the remainder of the season still looks precarious. The next sale is on the 2nd of January 2019. . . 

New captain for 2019 Meat Blacks:

One of the final jobs of 2018 is to take a look at the 2019 Meat Blacks team that will lead the sector next year.

There haven’t been too many adjustments to make, though the sector has had a couple of big retirements from the leadership, lock Sir Graeme Harrison (ANZCO) and number eight James Parsons (B+LNZ Ltd) have departed this year. Linesman Martyn Dunne also retired from MPI and has been replaced by Ray Smith, fresh from Corrections (Ed: appropriately!).

As a result, we have a new captain Murray Taggart (Alliance), promoted from vice-captain, and new vice-captain Tony Egan (Greenlea Premier Meats) to lead the team. . . 

T&G Global profit dented by cheaper tomatoes, small grape harvest  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global says its annual profit will more than halve this year after cheaper tomatoes and a weather-affected grape harvest in Peru dented earnings.

Net profit will be $8-10 million this calendar year, down from $22.6 million in 2017, it said in a statement.

Lower tomato prices affected T&G’s covered crops unit while its Peru grapes division dealt with a smaller harvest, it said. . .


Rural round-up

March 29, 2018

Free trade trumps protectionism, we hope – Allan Barber:

It’s ironical the same week the CPTPP agreement was signed President Trump proudly announced new tariffs on steel and aluminium which threaten to undermine the World Trade Organisation’s function as the global regulator of international trade. The jury is still out on whether Trump can get the tariffs signed off by Congress and he has already created exemptions, at the time of writing for Australia, Canada and Mexico. But it’s an uneasy period, particularly for a country as dependent on trade for its economic survival as New Zealand, because we might well get caught in the crossfire from a trade war.

Meanwhile supporters of free trade can celebrate the signing of the CCTPP which I admit I didn’t rate as a certainty in my tips for 2018 in January. There has been a lot of noise from those against the agreement, either because it doesn’t differ markedly from the original TPP since rejected by Trump or because 22 clauses negotiated by the USA, including Investor State Settlement Disputes provisions, have only been suspended rather than removed altogether. But I suspect the antis would have objected regardless, wanting neither the original nor current agreement to be signed under any circumstances. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand urges farmers to comply with NAIT:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is urging all farmers to comply with the National Animal Identification Tracing (NAIT) scheme requirements following the announcement of a programme to track cattle movements as part of the Mycoplasma bovis response.

The Ministry for Primary Industries will stop trucks in the upper South Island to check that farmers moving cattle from the South to the North Island are complying with their legal obligations under the NAIT Act.. . . 

Technical advice and pathway tracing reports released following compliance searches:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today released reports by a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to its Mycoplasma bovis response and an internal report examining potential entry routes (pathways) to New Zealand for the disease.

The TAG report contains a reference to possible legal breaches in relation to how the disease entered the country.  While these have largely been redacted from the report, MPI has been unable to release it until those matters were sufficiently examined by compliance investigators.

Note: Redactions have been made to the TAG and pathways reports consistent with provisions of the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). Where required, the Ministry for Primary Industries has considered the public interest when making decisions on the information being withheld. . . 

Environment under the spotlight at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Annual Meeting:

The sheep and beef sector is well-placed to turn the challenges into opportunities and reap the rewards, farmers were told at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Annual Meeting in Gisborne today.

James Parsons, outgoing Chair at Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) said strong prices and recent trade gains such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will undoubtedly help lift the profitability of sheep and beef farming. . . 

First Tauranga kiwifruit for 2018 sailing tomorrow

As chocolate eggs are being dispensed this weekend, New Zealand kiwifruit growers are shipping a much healthier alternative to Chinese consumers.

The Klipper Stream will carry New Zealand’s first load of Zespri Kiwifruit from the Port of Tauranga to China for the year, marking the start of what looks like another record-breaking season. Loading began this morning and the ship is scheduled to pass through the harbour entrance on Good Friday. . . .

Nigel Woodhead to put his ploughing skills to the test in Southland:

One of the country’s most recognisable young farmers will put his ploughing skills to the test in Southland next month.

Nigel Woodhead has been invited to compete at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury on April 14th-15th.

The 30-year-old is a sheep and beef farmer at Milton and was named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year last July. . . 

Go for 5G, but bring rural NZ along too:

New Zealand’s ambitions to get on with the roll-out of 5G technology should be applauded but don’t put dealing with woeful rural coverage on the back-burner, Federated Farmers Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says.

Tests of 5G mobile technology were carried out on the streets of downtown Wellington this week and industry players are talking about putting this next generation of digital communications infrastructure in place from 2020. Meanwhile plenty of towns and provincial hinterland limp on without broadband, and patchy or non-existent mobile coverage.

“Primary producers play a dominant role in earning the nation’s living and technology is pervading every aspect of agriculture. With poor or no access to ultra-fast broadband and mobile, faming businesses – and family life – suffers,” Andrew says. . . 

2018 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards Winners Announced:

The major winners in the 2018 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards are relatively new to the dairy industry and believe their success is due to their full involvement in their business.

Daniel and Paula McAtamney were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Addington Raceway and Events Centre last night. The other big winners were Will Green, who was named the 2018 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Salem Christian, the 2018 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Second time lucky for 2018 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards winners:

A Hokitika couple have been announced as major winners in the 2018 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards.

Carl Wilmshurst and Anna Boulton were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Nelson last night. The other big winners were Anthony Lamborn, who was named the 2018 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Goffriller, the 2018 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .  

Inventors and innovators wanted for the 2018 Fieldays Innovation Awards:

Calling all agricultural inventors and innovators: entries are now open for the 2018 National Agricultural Fieldays Innovation Awards.

The Innovation Awards showcases innovation across several industry areas: dairy and drystock farming, horticulture, information and communication technology, cloud and mobile-based software, animal health and genetics, water and waste management, environment and clean-tech, animal and farm management, farm safety and leading research. . . 

Fewer weeds, more wheat:

A herbicide to control problematic weeds in wheat crops and so increase crop yield, has been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

An application from Bayer New Zealand Limited to import Sakura 850 WG was considered by a decision-making committee convened by the EPA. This product contains pyroxasulfone, an active ingredient not used before in New Zealand. It will be imported ready-packaged for sale, and is intended for use by commercial growers and contractors, not home-gardeners.

“The EPA has concluded that this product offers considerable benefits to wheat growers,” said General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter. . . 


Rural round-up

March 25, 2018

Growing NZ pride in dairy – Colin Glass:

It’s an exciting time in the dairy sector. There is so much change happening: we have a new strategy, ‘Dairy Tomorrow’, and changes to the DairyNZ board, to name a few.

I’ve seen a marked change in dairy farmers over the past year too.

People outside the sector may think I’m referring to the extensive work farmers are doing to make their farms more environmentally sustainable. But as you all know, this isn’t new; farmers have been doing this for a long time. . . 

Rural Women critical of maternity services :

Rural Women New Zealand say it is ironic that in the 125th year of suffrage, New Zealand women are struggling to gain and retain health services.

“New Zealand is still hailed as a world leader because New Zealand women won their right to vote in 1893, however, we are behind in maternity care,” says board member and Health convenor Margaret Pittaway.

“RWNZ has been observing the developing dilemma for midwives and those they care for, with increasing concern. Rural midwives are simply not receiving a living wage due to the expectation they travel many more miles to visit patients,” says Margaret. . .

Don’t be complacent :

Sheep and beef farmers should not be complacent in grasping opportunities, retiring Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

He told the annual meeting in Gisborne the Red Meat Story should be rolled out to global markets later this year.

Final details were being signed off with processor partners on the proposed brand mark, story and Go-to-Market strategy. . .

Farmer relationship with processor costing NZ:

New research from Lincoln University shows poor relationships between farmers and their meat processors could be costing New Zealand.

Dr Nic Lees said improving those relationships was essential to New Zealand producing higher value products that meet consumer needs.

He surveyed over 1000 sheep, beef and deer farmers. These three industries together make up 12 per cent of New Zealand’s exports and currently contribute $5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy. . . 

Westland signs with South East Asia’s largest-listed consumer health and nutrition firm:

Building on its growing market presence in China, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, Westland Milk Products, signalled an increased presence in South East Asia by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesian consumer health and nutrition giant Kalbe (PT Sanghiang Perkasa).

Today’s signing, in the presence of visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a business forum held in Wellington, is the first step toward forming a strategic partnership between Westland and Kalbe. . .

Sheep milking serious business – Peter Burke:

The sheep milk industry has made huge strides in the last four years, says Massey University associate professor Craig Prichard.

The 4th annual Sheep Milking Conference was held in Palmerston North last week, attracting 150 producers, scientists and interested observers.

Prichard, known as a driver of the industry, says four years ago only four cheese makers attended; this year there were 16.

He says in four years the industry has moved from being “gee whizz isn’t that interesting” to a serious business with a future. . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2018

Paving the way for better wool returns – Peter McDonald:

Is another “wool boom” on its way?

Well that’s a bold question to ask considering the prices we are receiving at this present time for our crossbred wool. If we can park the present and try to look to the future we may find some green shoots of optimism regarding wool.

I’m not going to list off wool’s attributes as most reading this column fully understand them and to a large degree here lies the problem. We know these attributes well but an entire generation of consumers has lost the connection with wool as a fibre. These characteristics I believe should be more relevant in the near future to connected modern consumers who are highly choice savvy.

Why am I optimistic? A growing global movement is expanding rapidly around fixing plastic pollution in our oceans. David Attenborough’s appeal through emotive images has placed the plastic catastrophe in our oceans directly into millions of living rooms. . . 

Record export lamb prices nudge terms of trade to new high:

Record export lamb and butter prices helped boost New Zealand’s terms of trade by 0.8 percent in the December 2017 quarter, to another new high, Stats NZ said today.

Export meat prices rose 7.5 percent in the December 2017 quarter, mainly reflecting high lamb prices (up 12 percent).

Total export prices rose 4.9 percent, with dairy and forestry prices also contributing to the rise. . . 

South Canterbury arable farmers lose $30m from stubble-burn ban – Pat Deavoll:

A fire ban and wet autumn and winter may have cost Mid and South Canterbury’s arable farmers more than $30 million, with several of them showing losses of more than $500,000. 

“I think the $30m loss is true, I’ve done the same calculations. It’s cost me a considerable amount of money,” said Federated Farmers arable industry group Guy Wigley, who farms at Waimate.

Wigley said every week of autumn planting which had been delayed had cost him about a quarter of a tonne of yield . . 

Call for farmers to report high-risk animal purchases:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) urges dairy or beef farmers who believe they may have animals that could be at high risk for Mycoplasma bovis infection to make contact immediately.

The Ministry’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn, says MPI is accelerating its tracing and surveillance programme so that a decision whether to proceed with eradication can be made as soon as possible.

“Right now, we need to hear from any farmers who have bought cows and calves or milk for calf feed from farms that have been publicly identified as infected. . . 

Farmers must voice concerns – Neal Wallace:

The chairman-elect of Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a Southlander who believes farming should not shy away from challenges or debate. He brought Neal Wallace up to date on what to expect when he takes over from James Parsons.

Andrew Morrison never intended having an involvement in farmer politics until he was drawn to make submissions on regional and district council plans.

Fearing councils could take control of riparian margins and strips and restrict cultivation on flood plains, Morrison lobbied to preserve landowners’ property rights and soon found himself involved with Federated Farmers.

It was an apprenticeship that taught him plenty and ultimately led to him being chairman-elect of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

High venison prices no big deal – Annette Scott:

European importers are starting to baulk at high New Zealand venison prices but it’s not a major concern – yet, Deer Industry NZ marketing manager Nick Taylor says.

“They are coming over here to negotiate export contracts saying it is very expensive but can we have some more.

“They still want it and they are still buying,” Taylor said.

But some importers are going home empty-handed, reluctant to pay the price some others, both from the United States and the European Union, are paying. . .

 

Richie McCaw’s flying milk run:

Fonterra provided nearly 20 million packs of milk free to 145,000 primary school students last year as part of its Milk for Schools scheme, now in its fifth year.

At the 2012 launch, 119 schools joined and last year 1431 schools took part.

To mark the fifth year, former All Black captain Richie McCaw will fly special helicopter milk runs to schools.

He will visit four schools selected from online entries saying why he should visit. Where possible, he will fly in to deliver milk. Local farmers will also be part of the visit. . .

Fonterra set to make further gains in global market with new Bangladesh partnership:

Fonterra is breaking new ground in South Asia’s rapidly growing dairy market, with the signing of a new distribution agreement that will make Anchor available to millions more consumers in Bangladesh. The deal is part of the Co-operative’s ongoing efforts to win in key overseas markets, by spreading the goodness of dairy nutrition.

The population of Bangladesh has grown by more than 10 per cent in the last 10 years reaching over 160 million people and it now makes up over two per cent of the world’s total population.  Matched by strong economic growth, consumers in Bangladesh are looking for affordable healthy nutrition options, such as high-quality dairy. 

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Sri Lanka and Indian Subcontinent, Sunil Sethi said Anchor is well placed to drive growth, while improving the wellbeing of Bangladeshis. . .

Joint venture company commences operations in Rolleston:

Pure Nutrition Ltd (PNL) the joint venture company formed by Ausnutria and Westland Milk Products, has commenced operation in the Izone business hub near Rolleston.

PNL is a stand-alone blending and canning company. It will can milk powders and other nutritional products sourced from Westland for Ausnutria and other customers. The company was established through an initial investment by Ausnutria of NZ$4.5million cash, and the transfer to Pure Nutrition of land owned by Westland at its Rolleston site, which had a value of NZ$3million. Ownership is 60% Ausnutria and 40% Westland Milk Products. . . 


Rural round-up

December 20, 2017

Six suspected suicides of farmers ‘tragic’ – Alexa Cook:

A group representing young farmers says a spate of suicides over the past few weeks is tragic – but not surprising – after a really stressful year for the sector.

New Zealand Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said it’s been a really tough time for the farming community and there have been six suspected suicides in recent weeks.

“My understanding is that there were four young men in Canterbury last week that had taken their own lives.

“But also I’ve heard two in the Waikato as well, and one of them in the Waikato was one of our young farmer members … it’s tragic,” he said. . . 

Federated Farmers president’s message to workers after sudden deaths in rural communities

Farming groups are pleading with stressed workers to speak up if they need support in the wake of a series of deaths of young men across the country.

The Herald on Sunday understands four farmers died suddenly in the past few weeks, including a Hamilton City Young Farmer member, and a popular rodeo competitor in Canterbury. Both were aged in their 20s.

The coroner’s office has confirmed one of the deaths is before coroner Michael Robb.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne broke down in tears while speaking to the Herald on Sunday, saying she was becoming increasingly desperate to remind farmers that help was available if they needed it. . . 

The faces of disease-fearing farmers: Mycoplasma bovis meeting spills out of Southland hall – Dave Nicoll:

Farmers spilled out of a Winton hall as hundreds of them gathered at a meeting, concerned about the discovery of Mycoplasma bovis in Southland.

The Memorial Hall was packed to capacity with people standing, and even spilling outside as they waited to hear what the Ministry for Primary Industries had to say about the containment of the disease.

Ministry director of response Geoff Gwyn said the response team was working to identify where in Southland infected cattle had been moving, in an effort to contain the disease. . . 

Japan’s Itoham Yonekyu buys 100% of Anzco Foods as part of Asia growth strategy – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – Japanese-listed Itoham Yonekyu Holdings has received Overseas Investment Office approval to increase its shareholding of Anzco Foods to 100 percent, from the 65 percent it already owned.

Anzco was New Zealand’s second-largest meat company and fifth-largest exporter in 2016, with turnover of $1.5 billion and 3,000 employees. It was already 83.3 percent overseas owned, with 16.8 percent of the company held by Japanese marine products company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, known as Nissui, and the remaining 18.2 percent owned by the company’s chair Graeme Harrison and management. Harrison will step down at the company’s next annual meeting in March, having signalled his plans for retirement in 2015. . . 

What do we do? Agriculture in the age of synthetic food – William Ray:

Meatless meats and milkless milks seem to be just over the horizon and with many companies aiming to undercut the price of the ‘real’ stuff there’s the potential for a real threat to the New Zealand economy.

In this special episode of Our Changing World, William Ray investigates.

“We’ve got chicken or beef!” yells comedian Ben Hurley from an ad in my Facebook feed (cue sound effects for clucking chickens and mooing cattle).

“Wow, that’s absolutely delicious!” gushes a smiling stranger, which is the only polite response when someone hands you a free taco and pushes a microphone into your face.

Now the big reveal: “Do you know what… that’s 100 percent plant based!” (cue record scratch sound effect). . . 

Social licence and NZ aquaculture:

Research from the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge has found that personal relationships go a long way towards aquaculture companies gaining/maintaining community acceptance and social licence to operate.

Interviews with aquaculture, fishing and enviro community groups have revealed that social licence to operate (SLO) is easily lost – or absent – if a company’s relationship is purely transactional; ie if links with the local community are solely business-related.

“Relational relationships, where one or more employees have personal as well as professional relationships with community, go a very long way to gaining and maintaining SLO,” said Peter Edwards, a co-author of the paper and a Political Scientist at Scion. “In other words, these employees are part of community life.” . . 

Director election for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island electoral district:

A Director election will be held for Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Northern North Island electoral district after three nominations were received.

Martin Coup of Aria, Murray Jagger of Whangarei and Ross Wallis of Raglan will stand as candidates to replace current Northern North Island director and chairman James Parsons, who announced last month he was not seeking re-election. . . 


Rural round-up

November 16, 2017

Irrigation water flows at Sheffield as new scheme starts – Heather Chalmers:

Sheffield arable farmer Damon Summerfield expects to double his production following the arrival of water from the massive Central Plains Water irrigation scheme, writes Heather Chalmers.

If Central Canterbury arable farmer Damon Summerfield is acting like an expectant farmer it’s no surprise. This “baby” has been 10 years in the making.

He’s even talking about a christening which is apt when the “baby” is irrigation water as part of the Central Plains Water community scheme. . .

Farmer vigilance helps keep sheep measles at low ebb:

New Zealand recorded its lowest lamb prevalence level of sheep measles in ten years, says the project manager for Ovis Management Ltd, Dan Lynch.

He says 0.59% of lambs processed in the season ending October were detected with sheep measles versus 0.64% last season.

Lynch believes this low prevalence reflects continuing onfarm control being exerted by farmers across NZ. “This is a great outcome.” . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons not seeking re-election:

James Parsons, Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), announced today he will not be seeking re-election in the organisation’s director elections in March.

Mr Parsons, who farms a 478-hectare hill country farm in Tangowahine, Northland, has served as the Northern North Island Director on the B+LNZ Board for nine years, including four as Chairman.

“Although I am still very energised as the organisation’s Chairman, another three-year term would mean 12 years on the board and seven years as Chairman,” says Mr Parsons. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand invites director nominations and remits/resolutions for Annual Meeting:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) today announced nominations have opened for two B+LNZ director roles and one position on its Directors’ Independent Remuneration Committee (DIRC).

Under the requirements of the B+LNZ constitution, two electoral district directors and one existing DIRC member retire by rotation at the annual meeting.

This year, directors Phil Smith (Northern South Island), and James Parsons (Northern North Island), and DIRC member Derrick Millton will be those retiring by rotation. They are permitted to seek re-election. Mr Parsons announced this week he will not be seeking re-election as a director. . .

Rabo NZ chief Daryl Johnson resigns after less than two years in the job – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Daryl Johnson has resigned, less than two years after taking over the reins of the rural lending specialist.

Johnson’s resignation will take effect on Dec. 22, and Rabobank NZ has commenced a process to appoint a new chief executive officer, chair Henry van der Heyden said in a statement to the NZX. Johnson joined the bank in July last year, having previously led National Australia Bank’s Asia business. . . .

Water scientist hits back at claims around Waimea dam plan – Cherie Sivgnon:

The Waimea River, near Nelson, will be dry most summers if more water is pumped from the aquifers under the plains without augmentation, according to Landcare Research water scientist Andrew Fenemor.

If minimum flows in the river were to be maintained and seawater intrusion avoided, there needed to be limits on water taken from the aquifers, he said.

Fenemor is a former Tasman District Council environmental manager and a member of the newly formed Community Water Solutions Advisory Group, set up to advise the council and its proposed joint-venture partner in the $82.5 million dam project, Waimea Irrigators Ltd. . . 

Canterbury A&P Show: ‘Amazing’ weather and crowds for day one – Oliver Lewis:

Bryce Black has been described as the “chief stirrer” and “ring entertainer” during his long tenure at the Canterbury A&P Show.

The 87-year-old has almost never missed a show and has presided over the movement of horses into the ring for the past 70 years.

On Wednesday, the opening day of the 155th event, the Tai Tapu local was in his caravan right on the edge of the Main Arena. . . .

There’s more farmland in the world than was previously thought – Megan Durisin:

There’s more agricultural land in the world than previously thought, and India rather than the U.S. or China is now believed to have the biggest acreage of any country, according to new study aimed at improving food and water security.

Global cropland totals 1.87 billion hectares (4.62 billion acres), 15 percent to 20 percent higher than earlier estimates, according to a map released Tuesday by the U.S. Geological Survey. The increase is due to the assessment of areas previously mapped inaccurately, or left unmapped, the USGS said in a statement. . .

 


4,000 cattle to be culled

October 13, 2017

The Ministry of Primary Industries has ordered around 4,000 cows from seven farms to be culled to prevent the spread of Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is moving forward with control measures to prevent further spread of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with plans being developed with farmers to cull animals from the known infected farms.

“Since the start of this response in late July, we’ve carried out tens of thousands of tests of the infected, neighbouring and trace properties as well as district-wide testing in Waimate and Waitaki, and nationwide testing of bulk milk,” says MPI’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn.

“The only positive results for the disease have been on 7 infected properties, leading us to be cautiously optimistic that we are dealing with a localised area of infection around Oamaru,” Mr Gwyn says.

“To prevent further spread of the disease, around 4,000 cattle on 5 of the 7 infected properties will need to be culled and a programme put in place to decontaminate the properties and then re-populate the farms. The 2 other properties have had a small number of animals culled already and no cattle remain.

“This whole operation is about managing the disease while keeping our future options open. We want to minimise the risk of further spread of the disease.  Moving ahead with depopulation of the affected farms will allow them to get back to normal business as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Currently there is no need to remove animals from other farms in the Van Leeuwen group that are under restrictions. Testing of animals on those farms continues and should infection be found, they will be subject to the same measures.

In the coming weeks MPI will be working closely with the animal industry bodies, the Rural Support Trust and others to support the affected farmers.

DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb New Zealand support the actions MPI is taking, while at the same time recognising that this is a difficult time for the farmers involved. The industry bodies believe the measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where Mycoplasma bovis is not endemic, which is why the industry groups support such significant measures to keep it that way.

“The coming weeks will present new challenges and will be tough for these affected farmers. MPI will work with those affected to make the process as straight forward as possible. I’d like to particularly thank the owners, sharemilkers and farm workers involved for their ongoing support, recognising this is a very difficult time for them,” Mr Gwyn says.

“I want to be very clear that this isn’t something that’s going to start tomorrow. This is a big logistical exercise, it needs to be thoroughly planned and co-ordinated and we will be doing it with the farmers who know their businesses best,” Mr Gwyn says.

MPI anticipates the first stage of the process – removing the animals – will start after consultation with affected parties. Most of the cattle will be sent for slaughter in accordance with standard practice.

All premises, transportation vehicles and equipment involved in culling will follow a strict decontamination and disinfection protocol to mitigate the risk of spreading the disease.

Once depopulation is completed, there will be at least a 60 day stand-down period where no cattle will be permitted on the farms. During this time the infected properties will be cleaned and disinfected.

Following this work, the aim will be to get cattle back on the farms as quickly as possible. Surveillance, monitoring and testing will remain in place for a period as a further safeguard.

The affected farmers can apply for compensation for verifiable losses relating to MPI exercising legal powers under the Biosecurity Act.

The disease carries no risk to human health but there is no cure for it. Culling is a drastic step but it has the support of affected farmers and industry groups including DairyNZ:

Dairy farmers around the country will be reassured by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) decision to cull animals on farms infected with the disease Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“Since M. bovis was first identified in July farmers have been on high alert and worried about the impact of this disease,” says Dr Mackle.

“DairyNZ is supportive of MPI’s decision to step up control measures by culling these animals. However, we also know that the decision will create heartache for the affected farmers, and our sympathies are with all those involved on-farm.”

Dr Mackle says the decision follows extensive work and testing by MPI, with significant support from DairyNZ and many other agencies. Since the disease was first identified in July over 30,000 tests have been carried out by MPI.

MPI is increasingly confident that infection has not spread outside the primary farming enterprise involved with this outbreak, or any of the other farms also under restricted place notices.

Over the coming weeks there will be continued monitoring and testing in the interests of shutting down this disease in New Zealand.

He says biosecurity is fundamental to the future success of all New Zealand’s primary sectors, dairy included. . . 

This is echoed by Beef + Lamb NZ:

. . . James Parsons, chairman of B+LNZ, said: “The decision will obviously have significant implications for the farm businesses and the rural communities affected by this disease outbreak and we wish to see all available support and compensation provided to those affected. We believe these measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease.

“New Zealand takes its biosecurity very seriously and is one of the few countries in the world where this disease isn’t endemic, so that’s why the industry is willing to support such significant measures to keep it that way.” 

Federated Farmers also supports the move:

The decision to destroy stock which have been in contact with affected animals is the only option which will ensure peace of mind for the rest of New Zealand’s dairy and beef farmers, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We also support the continuation of strict movement controls on the remaining 13 properties that have been placed under Restricted Place Notices.

“These restrictions have significant implications for the people concerned, and all other farmers, so this action is essential to keep the option of eradication on the table.”

M. bovis infected stock can be severely affected by the disease, causing pain and suffering.

“We recognise the disease has come at a significant emotional cost to the affected farming families and their animals. The process of culling whole herds will be very stressful for the people concerned.

“But the disease does not respond to treatment and cannot be vaccinated against. Culling is the only logical option to prevent ongoing suffering of the animals.”

From a national perspective, our size, relatively low population and geographic isolation gives us the ability to manage and attempt to eradicate biosecurity incursions, when other countries cannot.

“M. bovis is found in most countries, including Australia, this is a disease that we definitely don’t want and we should seek to eradicate it, if feasible.

“We’ve remained free of many pest animals and pest plants (weeds) and diseases that have decimated other country’s livestock industries. For the sake of our livestock industries and the economy, it’s crucial we act now to ensure this remains the case,” Katie says.

Culling the cattle is necessary but that won’t make it any easier.

When some of our cows tested positive for TB a few years ago we had to cull a few dozen from the herd.

That was hard enough but a very small loss compared with the thousands to be culled on these farms.

MPI will pay compensation based on the commercial value of the stock but that won’t cover the loss of income or the costs of rebuilding the herd. Nor will it replace generations of breeding that went in to building up the herd.


Rural round-up

October 11, 2017

Fall in farm worker deaths ‘encouraging’ – Alexa Cook:

The number of deaths and serious injuries in the farming sector have dropped this year.

Figures from WorkSafe show that this year, up until 1 October, there have been nine deaths in agricultural workplaces, compared to an average of 15 deaths for the same period each year from 2014 to 2016.

Statistics show that the agricultural sector has had almost four times the number of workplace deaths than forestry, construction and manufacturing since 2011. . . 

Nine vying for three spots in Farmlands director elections – Sally Rae:

Voting is open in this year’s Farmlands director elections and there is a strong southern presence among the South Island candidates.

Nine candidates will contest the three director vacancies this year, with elections required in both the North and South Islands.

The South Island vacancy will be contested by former long-serving Alliance Group director Murray Donald (Winton), former Otago regional councillor Gary Kelliher (Alexandra), accountant Mel Montgomery (Southland), former Federated Farmers national board member David Rose (Southland) and current Alliance Group director Dawn Sangster (Maniototo). . . 

Alliance plans capital spending of $54:

Alliance Group is investing $54million in capital expenditure during the next year.

Outlining the investment at a series of roadshows throughout the country, chief executive David Surveyor said the success of the business strategy meant the co-operative was in a position to reinvest to continue to build the company’s operational performance.

In addition to a pool payment, the company would have a bonus share issue and reward farmer shareholders by increasing their shareholding in the co-operative.

The level would be based upon the supply of lambs, sheep, cattle, calves and deer during the 2017-18 season, Mr Surveyor said in a statement. . . 

Possum peppering – still totally implausible, seven years on – Alison Campbell:

Kerikeri award entry turns possums into burning issue“, proclaims a headline in the Northern Advocate.

The story is about an entry in the WWF-NZ’s Conservation Awards for 2017; I hope the judges have a good grasp of science and scientific method. From the article:

The entry from Kerikeri promotes a new take on an old-world biodynamic method of ridding fields of rodents and other furry pests.

It is called peppering, and involves burning the pelts and carcasses of said pests until they’re little more than ash, grinding it finely, mixing it with water and “spray painting” the substance back on the affected land.

Apparently, this version of the ‘traditional’ practice is new in the sense that so far it has not been applied because it lacked ‘scientific background’. . . 

Sheep Meat And Beef Levies to Remain Unchanged:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) announced today that sheep meat and beef levies will remain unchanged for the levy year commencing 1 October 2017.

B+LNZ Chairman James Parsons says the Board has reviewed budgets and activities for the financial year commencing 1 October 2017 and that the sheep meat levy on all sheep slaughtered would remain $0.60 per head and the beef levy, on all cattle slaughtered (including beef cattle and dairy cattle but excluding bobby calves), at $4.40 per head GST (exclusive). . . 

Voting for the 2017 Fonterra elections and resolutions underway:

Voting is now open for the 2017 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Elections, the Shareholders’ Councillor Elections in 10 wards, and six Annual Meeting resolutions.

This year Shareholders have the opportunity to elect three Fonterra Directors. The three candidates are Independent Nomination process candidates Brent Goldsack, Andy Macfarlane and John Monaghan. Each candidate requires Shareholder support of over 50% of votes to be elected. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: John McCaskey – Claire Inkson:

Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to John McCaskey : Pioneer of the Wine Industry, Farmers Advocate, Entrepreneur, and Proud Farmer.

1….How long have you been farming?

Since I was big enough to hold a bottle and feed a lamb—say 1939! My infant years were filled with helping feed pigs & chooks progressing to milking the house cow and churning butter after school! By age 10 I was going to be a farmer! I passed all agriculture subjects for School Cert 1954 . . 

New deal sees Palgrove partner with NZ super fund

Leading Queensland seedstock producers, David and Prue Bondfield, Palgrove, are the latest agribusiness to partner with a superannuation fund in order to grow their business.

The Bondfield family released a statement on Wednesday saying their business, had entered into a partnership with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF). The terms of the transaction remain confidential.​  . . 

Select Harvest rejects Arab takeover, launches $65m local capital raising – Andrew Marshall:

Select Harvest has more than 7000 hectares of almond plantations likely to deliver about 15,800 tonnes of crop next year.

Hot on the heels of rejecting a $430 million Arab takeover offer, big almond growing and nut processing business, Select Harvest, has launched a share market capital raising bid for about $65m.

Select has already placed 10.7m new shares worth about $45m with institutional investors. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

October 6, 2017

Methane, nitrous oxide levels can be reduced – Nicole Sharp:

Methane and nitrous oxide levels can be reduced on-farm and mitigation options are already available for farmers.

AgResearch science impact leader Robyn Dynes spoke to a group of rural professionals in Invercargill recently about what mitigation options were available to reduce greenhouse gases.

Methane is produced by cows when feed is digested by rumen microbes and 87%-92% of it is produced in the rumen.

Four options either available to farmers at present or being worked on would help reduce methane levels, Dr Dynes said. . . 

Focus goes on safety – Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago wool harvesting workers and contractors have contributed to an industry-first online health and safety education resource.

Members of the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association’s ”Tahi Ngatahi” working party were in the region last week to hold three focus groups to ”flesh out” content for the series of short and sharp videos and other information for the online units.

The group hopes the resource will be launched in April or May next year. . . 

Westland shareholders back governance changes:

Westland Milk Products shareholders today strongly endorsed a package of changes designed to improve and update the co-operative’s governance.

Westland Chairman Pete Morrison said, “Shareholders at today’s Special General Meeting in Hokitika approved the changes with 93.5% percent in favour. This will ‘future proof’ the structure and tone of the governance of our co-operative, and better equip Westland for the opportunities and challenges ahead of us.”

Morrison said one of the key recommendations in the report, a programme to identify and upskill potential shareholder directors, was well received, with feedback from shareholders during the consultation and at the SGM emphasising that continuity and succession planning was important. . . 

Dairy sector strong as it gazes at uncertain future:

Trans Tasman Political Pulse

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The dairy sector may be facing a future filled with political uncertainty, but the Fonterra result shows it is working from a strong base with potential to grow further and strengthen the wider economy.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, Fonterra delivered a solid result, marked by foodservice sales growth into China. Its returns ensure farmers’ protability is back close to long-run averages of $990/ha, with a further lift of protability projected in the current season.

The dairy industry is a vital engine for the economy, but it needs solid Govt backing, particularly as it competes in global markets. Currently, 87% of all NZ dairy exports are restricted by quotas or tariffs of more than 10%. . . 

B+LNZ and MIA concerned by UK media reports of a EU-UK deal on WTO quotas:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the New Zealand Meat Industry Association are concerned by reports that the EU and UK have reached a “deal” to split the EU’s WTO tariff rate quotas following Brexit.

“Given the importance of the European Union and United Kingdom for New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports, stability and certainty is vital,” said James Parsons, Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. “The tariff rate quotas form part of the EU’s WTO commitments and are legally binding rights and obligations. . . 

PGG Wrightson Plants its Future Growth With Promapp:

A PGG Wrightson, a New Zealand Stock Exchange listed company and a leading provider of products, services and solutions to growers, farmers and processors, has announced that it is now deploying Promapp business process management software across its recently expanded Retail and Water division.

In a strategy designed to support the organisation’s ongoing focus on effective service delivery, business improvement and risk management, Promapp will provide the organisation’s staff with a centralised repository for storing and managing critical processes as well as an enhanced facility for reporting on the status of processes, improvement actions and risks. . . 

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Farmer – I”m more than you think: mechanic, meteorologist, scientist, machine operator, financial planner, agronomist, computer operator, animal caretaker, family.


Rural round-up

September 22, 2017

Water tax ‘not about bottlers’ – they’d pay less than 3 per cent, says IrrigationNZ:

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern should not answer questions about the party’s proposed water tax by saying it’s about targeting water bottlers, says IrrigationNZ.

When Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was asked in last night’s TVNZ Leader’s Debate whether rural New Zealand had got offside with her over Labour’s proposed water tax, particularly the farming community, Ms Ardern answered: ‘No. I targeted water bottlers. . . I targeted water bottlers as that’s something New Zealanders wanted, for them to pay their fair share.” . .

Farmers should know they are still appreciated:

Rural New Zealand can easily feel ignored or misunderstood in political discussion these days.

Though this has been a predominantly urban country for many generations now, it is perhaps only in the last two generations that most New Zealanders were not familiar with farming life.

Previously, most would have had a family connection with farming and in many cases personal childhood experience of living on or near farms. So it is no wonder that the Labour Party’s proposals to tax farmers for river pollution and climate change should produce the demonstration in Morrinsville on Monday. . . .

Farmers must have say on water tax – Pam Tipa:

The Labour Party’s water tax policy is “pretty short on details,” and the farming sector needs to have input into a final plan, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons.
“If Labour is in government we would want to work with them to work out how we could best deliver on swimmable rivers, while making sure we don’t ‘crucify’ the primary sector at the same time.”

Parsons says Labour leader Jacinda Ardern had been clear that the party would not lay out all the detail until a decent conversation had been held with those who would be affected if they were in government. . . 

Six months has transformed farming country in once drought-stricken North Canterbury – Pat Deavoll:

What a difference six months has made to North Canterbury, which this time last year was still embroiled in drought.

Regular rainfalls since May have turned brown paddocks green, and farmers moods swing from despondent to optimistic about the summer ahead.

Will Wilding of Te Mania Angus stud at Conway Flat, said he was having “the best spring in a long time.” after three years of drought. . .

DCANZ, DairyNZ and MPI endorse Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam: 

DairyNZ, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have today endorsed the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, marking New Zealand’s commitment towards global sustainable dairy development.

The Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam signals both a commitment towards feeding the world with safe and sustainable products, and enhancing sustainability. . .

Ballance Farm Environment Awards a boost for work in progress kiwifruit orchard:

Entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards encouraged Whakatane kiwifruit growers Iain and Leanne Blackwood to “sharpen their game”.

The couple both work full time on their 7.95ha orchard, which includes 4ha of SunGold, 0.61ha of Sweet Green (G14) and 3.3ha of Hayward Green.

“We entered after talking to our neighbour’s daughter, who worked for Zespri, encouraged us to have a go,” Iain says.

The Blackwoods were still developing the golden kiwifruit when they were judged. . .


Farmers’ pledge will work where water tax won’t

August 23, 2017

Farming leaders have pledged to make rivers swimmable:

In a first for the country, farming leaders have pledged to work together to help make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for future generations.

The Farming Leaders’ Pledge has been signed today by a group of New Zealand pastoral farming leaders, that represent over 80% per cent of that country’s farmed land, committing them to an ambitious goal of working to make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for their children and grandchildren.

Group spokesperson, Federated Farmers President and West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne says the intent behind the pledge is clear.

“Many of our rivers are not in the condition we all want them to be. We are doing this because we want our kids and their kids to be able to swim in the same rivers that we did as children.  And by swim we mean swim. It’s as simple as that.

“We’re standing up and saying we haven’t always got this right. More work is required and we will play our part. While there has been progress on farm in the past 10 years, we know there is more to be done, and that it must be done fast, and together.

Clean rivers aren’t an abstract concept for farmers.

This is the water we drink and wash with every day, not something we might visit a very few times a year.

“Today isn’t about laying out the detail on the huge amount of work going on already on farms up and down the country and how these efforts will need to increase.

“It’s about us as farming leaders signalling our commitment to making New Zealand’s rivers swimmable and doing everything we can to achieve that.”

Ms Milne, says the group understands much of the work needed will be challenging for the farming sector.

Challenging yes, but a  lot will build on work already being undertaken.

“We haven’t put a timeline on our commitment.  Each community will need to decide that for themselves.  This goal will be difficult to meet and we don’t have all the answers today on how it’s going to be achieved”, she says.

“We know that we have work to do. We know it will be challenging for farmers. We know the answers are complex and we don’t have them all now.   This commitment is simply the right thing to do in playing our part to give back to future generations what we enjoyed as kids.”

The Farming Leaders Group is an informal grouping of New Zealand pastoral farming leaders that was established in May 2017 to work on issues of importance to the sector. 

The current membership is Mike Petersen (Sheep & Beef Farmer), Michael Spaans (Dairy Farmer and Dairy NZ Chair), James Parsons (Sheep & Beef Farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ Chair), John Loughlin (Meat Industry Association Chair), Katie Milne (Dairy Farmer and Federated Farmers President), Bruce Wills (Sheep & Beef Farmer and Ravensdown Director), and John Wilson (Dairy Farmer and Fonterra Chair).

The improvements already made have been done by farmers who understand the importance of clean water, without the crude instrument of a water tax which Megan  Hands describes as a kick in the guts for farmers:

There is no doubt that water management is top of mind for many of us this election, but none more so than our farmers and growers, particularly those with irrigation. It’s struck me that using the word farmer seems to irk many, as if it has some kind of negative connotation.

The reality is that New Zealand’s farmers collectively are a group of thousands of small, often family run businesses and their employees. Many are self-employed and punch well above their weight to compete on a global scale, often up against farmers from nations who receive significant subsidies from their governments to assist with their costs of production, top up their incomes or assist them to undertake environmental works.

Irrigation dates to back the Ancient Egyptians and, simply put, we have it because we need water to grow crops or feed for our animals. In the areas of the country that have the most irrigation, rainfall can be scarce, ranging from just 300mm in parts of Central Otago, through to 500-700mm in Canterbury and Marlborough, as compared with the 1,200mm that falls in Auckland annually. Irrigation is used by some farmers and growers to supplement that shortfall in rain and to remain resilient in drought years.

Irrigation schemes don’t just allow farmers to weather dry weather. They also augment natural flows in rivers and streams to improve water quality and enhance water life.

What then is the likely impact of Labour’s water tax policy on these families and their communities?

On the face of it phrases like “polluter pays” or “user pays: may sound appealing, but the balancing of the environmental, social, cultural and economic needs of our communities is more complex than that.

An important point to note from the outset is that nobody in New Zealand pays for water. Even in Auckland, Watercare charges for the treatment and reticulation of water to your home or business, not for the water itself. In the same way as you pay the council through your rates or water bill, Irrigators pay for the infrastructure through consenting, drilling of wells, installation and running of pumping stations or through payments to irrigation schemes with costs of up to $800 a hectare.

That’s what we pay for water from North Otago Irrigation COmpany’s scheme – $800 a hectare a year. On top of that we have to have an environmental farm plan which is independently audited each year.

When Labour’s policy was first announced, there was little detail of pricing. It appears now we are looking at a price of 2 cents per cubic metre, or 1000 Litres.

For some context, to apply 1mm of water over 1 hectare of land it takes 10,000 litres of water or 10 cubic metres. So, to supplement that shortfall of rainfall and sustain crop or pasture growth it quickly equates to large volumes of water.

To keep the maths simple, a 200ha cropping farm growing grain or grass seeds in mid Canterbury applying 500mm of irrigation water a year would have a new additional tax bill of $20,000 a year.

A 100hectare vineyard in Blenheim might use 199,500 cubic metres of water through a drip micro system and have an additional tax bill of $3,990.

Another dairy farmer well known on Twitter has calculated his annual water tax bill on his farm to be $53,000.

Suddenly a couple of cents doesn’t sound so small.

It’s not just the amount but that it will be taken from irrigators regardless of whether their practices are contributing to water quality problems, some will go to Iwi and some will go to regional councils.

What’s left after the costs of collection and distribution is supposed to be used to clean up waterways, but how? It it’s individual farms causing problems they should be responsible for fixing them and not at the cost of those who are already doing everything right.

The key drivers for irrigation requirements are the soil type and its ability to hold water, the crops water demand and the evapotranspiration of the area. In the examples above, grapes have a lower water demand than pasture or grain crops. There is a great deal of science and high level of management that goes into managing irrigation efficiently.

One arable farmer at a meeting in Ashburton on Friday said that he had calculated that at 2 cents/m3 his annual water tax bill could equate to half his annual income. Another wondered aloud what happens if he has a crop failure and he receives zero income for that year but still must pay the tax for the irrigation water he used?

What will happen in wet seasons, like the last one, when there was hardly any irrigation? Our power bill was about 10% of what it had been the previous season which indicates we used about a 10th of the irrigation.

And what will they do with the seagulls which are causing the only water quality problem in the Kakanui River?

In districts where there are significant areas of irrigation this tax would mean millions of dollars being removed from these local economies in additional tax. In these regional areas, the small towns and cities rely on primary industry to keep them going. For Ashburton and Timaru some estimates have come in around $40 million. Tim Cadogan, mayor of Central Otago, is quoted as saying the tax will cost his district $6 million dollars. That’s millions of dollars not transferred to local tradesman, the local café or the rural supplies store.

This proposed tax has been portrayed as the solution to NZ’s water quality problems, although the more we learn about this policy the more difficult it is to link the purported benefits with the method proposed. If Labour do as they say and return the tax to the areas from which it is collected (minus the percentage that goes to iwi), the areas with the poorest water quality will only receive a small slice of the tax. This is because there is almost no correlation between swimability of rivers and irrigation.

This policy is based not on facts but on the unsubstantiated belief that irrigation causes water degradation.

In our area it’s the opposite case. The Waiareka Creek that used to be a series of semi-stagnant ponds now flows clear  all year and water life has re-established because irrigation water is doing what nature couldn’t – maintain water flows.

One of the greatest concerns regarding this policy is the possibility it could make meeting required reductions in nutrient losses more difficult. Making changes on a farm to improve water quality is not cheap and any additional money squeezed out of what are often tight budgets may make it more difficult to do so. As an example, $20,000-30,000 can pay for three or four soil moisture meters to aid in more targeted use of irrigation or perhaps part of a new effluent system.

A water tax is a broad-brush approach to what are varied and complex issues. In my view identifying the contaminants causing the water quality problems for a catchment and targeting the management of those at catchment scale is a far superior approach than paying money to a government organisation in the hope that it will be returned to be spent the catchment it came from.

Last Friday David Parker, Labour’s spokesperson for freshwater fronted a public meeting in Ashburton. While I’d already been publicly critical of the approach of a water tax, I wanted to hear what he had to say in more depth than a media soundbite or the 300-word summary on the Labour party website. I’ve also long believed that there is a legitimate conversation to be had about how we should fund environmental infrastructure such as the Managed Aquifer Recharge site in Ashburton, new storm water systems or floating wetlands such as those installed at Te Arawa in Rotorua.

I was bitterly disappointed.

Mr Parker provided photos of poor farming practices to set the tone. Of the farming practices that we were seeing in the photos, not even one of them was related to irrigation and none were from Canterbury. Almost every single one of them would be illegal in Canterbury under the existing Land and Water Regional Plan putting your consent to farm or your access to irrigation water at risk of being cut off.

When questioned on the price, Mr Parker warned the room that he wasn’t there to negotiate and threatened the farmers in the room that if they pushed him it would be 2 cents instead of 1 cent. He continually referred to the farmers in the room as “you people”, taking aim at them and telling them they alone were responsible for the rural urban divide.

It is the responsibility of us all to manage our water well and that includes irrigators, towns and cities, and other commercial users. If we are going to tackle these challenges we must do it together, instead of pointing the finger at one another.

The management of our freshwater is important for our ecosystems, our businesses and our recreation. Water is precious to all of us and deserves far more sophisticated and collaborative policy development then soundbites and feel good election policies if we are to deliver the kaitiakitanga it deserves.

The pledge by the farmers’ group will work where the water tax won’t.

It will be led by and accomplished by farmers working with farmers, not politicians extracting a tax only some of which will be applied to improving water quality.


Rural round-up

August 4, 2017

Paid to think and loving it – Sally Rae:

For Beef and Lamb NZ’s first independent director the future is already here. Sally Rae speaks to Melissa Clark-Reynolds.

Melissa Clark-Reynolds sums herself up succinctly — “I’m a geek”, she says simply.

The high-profile technology entrepreneur and business leader was in Dunedin yesterday to speak at the red meat sector conference.

Her visit coincided with her being named Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s first independent director.

And, as Ms Clark-Reynolds (53) puts it, it is a governance role she is “pretty bloody happy about”. . .

‘Real opportunity’ to carve out niche – Sally Rae:

It is time to refresh the red meat sector’s strategy, which is facing “headwinds”, the industry’s conference was told yesterday. Sally Rae reports.

New Zealand’s red meat sector is on track for its vision of an $11.4billion sector by 2025, Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

There was a “real opportunity” to carve out a niche by telling its story as ethical food producers. However, there were also a few “headwinds”, Mr Parsons told those attending the red meat sector conference in Dunedin yesterday. . .

Antara Ag to sell Southland sheep milking farm – Brittany Pickett:

Antara Ag is selling one of its three Southland farms, as it consolidates its sheep milking operation.

The company exclusively supplies Blueriver Nutrition HK, milking 10,000 east friesian-poll dorset ewes on three Southland farms. Antara Ag manufactures infant formula from sheep milk for export to China and was the first company in New Zealand to do so.

General manager Jazz Hewitson said the company was putting its Brydone operation up for sale to get rid of some land and “consolidate what we’re already doing“. . .

Top agricultural start-ups get a lift from Sprout accelerator business programme – Jill Galloway:

Fledgling agricultural start-ups are getting a helping hand to grow their business from the Sprout agritech business accelerator programme in Palmerston North.

Business strategy advisor Stu Bradbury said Sprout’s job was to help businesses.

“People in New Zealand often have good ideas, but have no idea how to get them to market. At Sprout we can help.”

Bradbury has experience in the start-up world after founding several businesses in the agri-tech sector, and went on the sell Precision Irrigation, to a United States company. . .

Battle for our Birds 2017 underway:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says this year’s Battle for our Birds 1080 operations are now underway to protect our most vulnerable native wildlife from the scourge of rats and stoats fuelled by widespread forest seeding.

“Work at 34 sites covering more than 800,000 hectares of high value conservation land has begun and DOC field staff are monitoring another seven sites to see if rodents are at damaging levels,” Ms Barry says. . . .

One man a pig and a goose – Unexpected Farmer:

I am well known in the area as the crazy lady who takes animals, but there are some occasions when even I say NO! As everyone knows I am often in bed well before my children, unfortunately the Spanish never understand this and feel 9pm is a suitable time to be sat outside my gates…. hand on horn!

The other night Mr P turned up, placed hand on horn, and kept it there until we appeared, this was my first issue, closely followed by the fact it was dark and cold. We didn’t even have time to do hello’s and how are you’s before he launched in to I have a pig for you!

The next 20 minutes were strange even by my standards. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

July 22, 2017

Rural women leaders take bull by the horns – Holly Ryan:

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne has lost track of the number of people who have called her farm in Kumara on the West Coast, asking to talk business with the man of the house.

Within minutes, she will often hear her husband say “I’ll hand you back to the boss, she can help you,” as he returns the phone to her.

This is because although the farm is a partnership, Milne is usually the one managing the books and keeping the business side of things ticking over. . . 

Mt Somers couple master schemes and farming diversification – Pat Deavoll:

No one will ever call Mid Canterbury farmers Kate and David Acland lazy. Not only do they run a 3800ha mixed livestock finishing farm with 25,000 stock units; they have tacked onto the family enterprise a dairy operation, an apiary, a Marlborough winery and a local cafe and farm store.

“Schemes interest us,” says David. “Diversification has been our strategy since 2012. We are spreading our income and are not at the mercy of any single industry.

“Driving our business to grow and intensify while staying true to our farming values is a challenge, but opportunities such as bee keeping allow us a whole new revenue stream without affecting the core business of the farm or affecting the environment.” . . 

Nuffield opens Manawatu farmer Matt Hocken’s eyes to global agricultural stage – Kate Taylor:

Applications are open for 2018 Nuffield Scholarships. Kate Taylor spoke to a 2017 scholar in the middle of his international travels.

The best thing about Mat Hocken’s Nuffield scholarship has been the way it has opened his eyes to the global agricultural stage. The hardest thing has been leaving his young family.

Hocken is farming a Manawatu property, Grassmere, that has been in his family for over 125 years. He works alongside wife Jana, with whom he has two young daughters, and his father Ross who lives on one of the support blocks nearby. . .

Federated Farmers Appeal ECan Catchment Proposal:

Federated Farmers has decided to appeal Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5.

The Plan Change is ECan’s solution to addressing water quality issues associated with farming activities in Canterbury – but excludes catchments already addressed.

The Federation backs the principles outlined in the proposal, but has decided to appeal on proxies attached to the plan. . . 

Fonterra to expand in Darfield

Fonterra will build two new cream cheese plants at its Darfield site.

With cream cheese undergoing a steady surge in popularity in Asia, the $150 million two-stage project will see the first plant completed in 2018 with a second to follow in either 2019 or 2020.

The two new plants will incorporate technology that will allow the firmness and consistency of the cream cheese be dialled up or down to meet customer preference.

Fonterra’s director of global foodservice Grant Watson said the investment is a timely one as more and more consumers around Asia develop a preference for milk-based products . . .

Angus on top at Steak of Origin –

Tim and Kelly Brittain, from Otorohanga, have been awarded this year’s Steak of Origin grand champion title for their Angus steak.

Being recognised as the country’s top beef producer is an achievement Tim and Kelly are extremely proud of.

“Each year our entries into this competition have stepped up a level and I am so proud that tonight all our work and efforts can be celebrated. This outcome is a significant achievement and something that Kelly and I have been working towards,” Tim said. . .


Rural round-up

May 25, 2017

Top dairy woman says industry must ponder its future – Pam Tipa:

A major issue facing the dairy industry is “how much to grow,” says the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Jessie Chan-Dorman.

“What is a sustainable growth aspiration for our industry? [We need to] actually put a stake in the ground about what sustainable growth looks like,” Chan-Dorman told Rural News.

“That conversation [is needed] not just among ourselves but – like it or not – with all the wider parties, the New Zealand public, who have an interest in where the dairy industry is heading. . .

Event manager carves out dairy career niche – Sudesh Kissun:

The first solo woman winner of the Dairy Manager of the Year title, Hayley Hoogendyk, hopes to be a role model for others switching to a career in farming.

Hoogendyk (28) left her job as an events manager and took up dairy farming five years ago.

In March she won the Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year competition; earlier this month she was crowned the national winner at the Dairy Industry Awards final in Auckland.

Hoogendyk told Rural News she had not expected to win. . .

Milk price great news:

Today’s Fonterra milk price forecast of $6.50 for the 2017-18 season, coupled with the revised price of $6.15 for the current season, is great news for dairy farmers, says DairyNZ.

It is great news too for the country as it will boost the regional and national economies.

While welcoming the forecast increase, DairyNZ’s chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says he needs to challenge farmers to ‘make hay while the sun shines’.

“By this I mean that farmers need to take advantage of the milk price increases to pay down debt, and carry out the likes of deferred maintenance,” he says. . .

Fonterra forecast signals dairy industry revival:

The revival in fortunes of dairy farmers has been highlighted today by Fonterra’s announcement that they are increasing the milk price for the current season-lifting its payout from $6.00 to $6.15/kg milksolids for the year ending 30 May 2017.

Fonterra’s favourable forecast wasn’t unexpected and reflects the recent trend of increasing global dairy prices, which has fostered more confidence amongst the markets.

“Many dairy farmers throughout the country will be enjoying their lunch today. This is great news and comes after a turbulent few years where the industry has been under the pump,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Chair. . .

Higher milk pay-out puts $3.5bn into farmers’ pockets – Fonterra – Alexa Cook:

A milk pay-out of $6.15 a kilogram of milk solids this season will give farmers an extra $3.5 billion compared to last season, says Fonterra.

The co-operative has lifted its pay-out for the season by 15 cents and announced an opening forecast for next season of $6.50 kg/ms.

Milk prices have come a long way from last season’s pay-out of $3.90, and the dairy index is now at its highest in about three years. . .

Ways to keep nutrients out of waterways – Nicole Sharp:

How can we reduce sediment, phosphorus and E. coli getting in to waterways?

AgResearch scientist Tom Orchiston put the question to farmers along with giving advice on good management practices onfarm at Dairy NZ’s Farmers Forum on May 4.

Sediment in waterways reduced the habitat and disrupted the eco-system in streams, he said. . . 

Lewis shows her class – Alan Williams:

Vivienne Lewis is responsible for the results of one of the biggest shearing jobs in New Zealand and the work has won her the NZ Wool Classers Association crossbred wool merit award.

Her team handled the shearing of the 30,000 ewes, 10,000 two-tooths, 12,000 lambs and 700 rams on the sprawling Ngamatea Station near Taihape in the central North Island.

It was a very big clip and the Canterbury Wool Scour-sponsored award was won for the manner of its preparation and classing and presented at the association’s annual meeting in Christchurch in mid-May. . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand confirms board positions:

The Directors of Beef + Lamb New Zealand have re-elected Northland farmer James Parsons as the Chairman for another year.

Parsons has been the Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand since 2014 and has represented the Northern North Island as its Farmer Director since 2009.

The Board has also elected Gore farmer, and Southern South Island Farmer Director Andrew Morrison, as the Deputy Chairman, when it met for its May meeting. . .


Rural round-up

January 9, 2017

Hold trade partners to account – Nigel Stirling:

They are expensive and have been used only sparingly in New Zealand’s history.

But one of the country’s top trade lawyers, Tracey Epps, says the Government shouldn’t shy away from taking cases against protectionist trading partners to the World Trade Organisation.

She tells Nigel Stirling why.

It amounted to a billion-dollar Christmas present for the country’s beef farmers. . . 

New plan ready to go – Alan Williams:

Farmers want Beef + Lamb NZ to step up its market development work and chairman James Parsons says a start is under way.

The new plan would involve more development work in key, mature markets alongside the export companies, Parsons said.

Promotions would be made only if companies were prepared to follow through with products and had already helped to develop the strategy. . . 

Reforming our regional economy – Chris Perley:

Why do we manage land the way we do? Why does New Zealand focus on ever-more gross production over a great scale of sameness?

Why do we talk of “feeding the world” when we can at best feed 40 million or so? Why do some defend the consequences of pollution of streams?

Why do we think we can keep on farming the way that we do, and then add some token riparian fences as some panacea solution – which it patently is not?

Enough with all the mechanical in-the-box thinking. It is leading us in a vicious treadmill downwards. . . 

High tech solution to invasive mammal pests – James Russell:

This year the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge in New Zealand launches its project on high tech solutions to invasive mammal pests, hosted by the University of Auckland. The high tech solutions project aims to deliver the long-term science solutions which will become a part of Predator Free New Zealand. In July 2016 the New Zealand government officially adopted Predator Free New Zealand and in December appointed the PFNZ2050 board of directors and announced its commitment to the Honolulu Challenge. In 2017 the high tech solutions project will commence researching the science which will eventually be needed to achieve the 2050 target. . . 

New Year honours for dairy, beef and wine leaders – Gerard Hutching:

Former National Cabinet minister John Luxton has been honoured with a Companion of the Order of New Zealand (CNZM) for his services to the dairy industry.

“This award is a recognition of the importance of the dairy industry, which is very innovative and responsible for earning nearly half New Zealand’s primary sector exports,” he said.

A National Party MP from 1987 to 2002, Luxton held numerous Cabinet portfolios including Agriculture, Housing and Commerce.

He oversaw the development of industry-good body DairyNZ, stepping down as chairman of the board last year, having held the position since 2008. . . 

Farm-turned-amusement park provides ‘good, wholesome, old fashioned fun‘ – David Burroughs:

If you’ve ever wanted to ride a cow, or get towed behind a tractor, or ride a bike like ET, you need to visit Fernbrooke Farm Amusement Park.

Sitting near the base of Mt Taranaki, the park is the brainchild of Stratford farmer Dave Hunger, who for the last five years has spent his spare time creating weird and wonderful machines and toys.

Hunger started bringing visitors on to his farm five years ago after making a trebuchet, similar to a catapult, out of a 13 metre long tree. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor, text and nature

I work out (side).


Rural round-up

October 12, 2016

Marks & Spencer Scotland pulls pin on NZ lamb –  Alexa Cook:

British retailer Marks & Spencer will no longer stock New Zealand lamb in its Scottish stores, after a decision to only sell locally-produced lamb.

 New Zealand exports about 29,000 lambs a year to Marks & Spencer in Scotland and the decision will hit about 10 or 12 lamb producers in this country.Beef and Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons is in Britain, France, Ireland and Belgium this week to assess what effect Brexit may have on New Zealand exports. . .

Farmer grows from on-lamb farm to million dollar empire in six years – Paul Mitchell:

In just six years, a farmer south of Whanganui has grown his business from a single block of land to a multi-million dollar company supplying restaurants and supermarkets globally.

This week Coastal Spring Lamb, at Turakina, received its first order from China, giving it a foot-hold in the biggest market in the world.

Founder Richard Redmayne said this was the eighth export market for the firm since it began selling overseas in January last year. . . 

At war with the pukeko – one gardener’s greatest foe – Charlie Mitchell:

The pukekos strike just before dawn, leaving hundreds of destroyed cabbages and a market gardener in despair.

Commercial gardener Brent Treleaven is at war with the native birds, which have caused thousands of dollars worth of damage on his farm north of Christchurch.

He had to relinquish part of his market garden to the pukeko after they took it over. . . 

Cows get inspirational talk before milking – Simon Wong:

An Australian farmer says the pep talks he gives his cows is an easy way to bring cheer to his colleagues, who are facing some trying times.

Two videos of southwestern Victoria farmer Adam Jenkins, posted on Facebook by his wife Catherine, have been shared thousands of times in the past few days.

They’re of Mr Jenkins giving his cows encouragement before heading into the milking shed and then afterward congratulating them on their efforts. . .

Industry’s competitiveness in spotlight at DairyNZ AGM:

Dairy farmers’ ability to remain internationally competitive is likely to be a hot topic when dairy industry and research body, DairyNZ, reviews the past year at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Canterbury this month.

DairyNZ is holding its AGM in Ashburton from 11am on Thursday, October 27, at Hotel Ashburton.

Industry body chairman Michael Spaans says the AGM will review the 2015/16 dairy season, including the low milk price challenges, and discuss DairyNZ’s highlights for the year and future direction. . . 

Latest industry results confirm LIC has the best bulls in the country – by far:

The genetic gain and value that LIC bulls are delivering on New Zealand dairy farms is confirmed in the latest Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list.

A phenomenal 27 of the best 30 bulls on the All Breeds list are LIC’s, including the top 14 in a row of all breeds.

“These bulls are managed by LIC on our farmers’ behalf, with massive contributions from our top breeders and our Bull Acquisition team,” LIC General Manager Biological Systems Geoff Corbett said. . .


Rural round-up

October 6, 2016

Industry condemns skipper’s actions:

Seafood New Zealand supports the prosecution of a commercial fishing boat skipper over the death of albatross at sea.

“Industry is very disappointed in this skipper’s actions that were totally out of line. We support the Ministry for Primary Industries in the action they have taken against him,” says Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst.

“There is no excuse for his behaviour. He was required to use a tori line, a device using streamers to scare off birds. . . 

Dairy price effect still hurting NZ SMEs:

The dairy downturn is still having an impact on small to medium enterprises in many parts of the country, although there are definite green shoots in the economy according to the latest MYOB Colmar Brunton Business Monitor Survey.

More than one third (34 per cent) of all agribusinesses have been affected by low dairy prices in the past six months, with 12 per cent saying the impact is ‘very negative’.

For the many businesses connected to the agricultural economy, that remains a problem. Compared to a national average of 39 per cent, just 25 per cent of rural SMEs saw their revenues improve in the last 12 months, according to the latest Business Monitor, and 24 per cent reported a decline in income over the period. . . 

New Zealand farming leaders check in on Brexit:

Britain’s arrangements for leaving the European Union (EU) by the summer of 2019 and progress towards an EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement, will be on the agenda when Beef + Lamb New Zealand meets British and EU farming representatives during a northern hemisphere visit.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons and Southern South Island farmer director Andrew Morrison are in Britain, France, Ireland and Belgium this week to meet with New Zealand’s farming counterparts, to discuss areas of common interest including lamb consumption and maintaining year-round supply for European consumers. . . 

$3m in new projects for High-Value Nutrition:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge is investing $3 million in its Consumer Insights and Science of Food research programmes.

“The research into high-value nutrition is hugely important in moving our food production from volume to value”, Mr Joyce says.  “These projects will help product development that brings maximum returns for New Zealand food exporters.”

The Consumer Insights research programme is focused on understanding consumers’ beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours.

“Up to $1.5 million has been allocated to research the science of consumers, with a focus on health and wellness needs of Asian consumers. It will research what is needed to establish a habitual consumption of high-value nutritional foods, which is vital in ensuring investment is directed in areas that will resonate most with consumers. . . 

Ancient sheep breed alive and well in Wimbledon – Christine McKay:

Jacob sheep are an ancient breed with their story appearing in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

For Wimbledon farmer, Brian Hales, the story of the Jacob sheep is something special.
“Their story and how they came to be in New Zealand, is truly magnificent,” he said.

Jacobs are brown sheep with white spots or white sheep with brown spots. Their breed, Manx Loughtun, is unique for having one, two or three sets of horns. . . 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards offer benefits to farm owners and employers:

Excitement is building as the date for entries to open for the 2017 The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries nears. Entries for the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be accepted online at dairyindustryawards.co.nz from October 20 and will close on November 30, with Early Bird entries closing at midnight on November 9.

The Awards encourage best practice and the sharing of excellence and also identify and promote the dairy industry’s future leaders. They enable people to progress through the awards as a person progresses through the dairy industry – from farm worker to herd manager, farm manager and contract milker to share milker.

The Awards are supported by DairyNZ, De Laval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridan Energy, Ravensdown, Westpac and industry partner Primary ITO. . . 

Sanford gets Marlborough innovation award – Tracey Neal:

Sanford fishing company’s Marlborough operation has received a civic award more than a year after major job losses at the company.

Its Havelock processing facility is one of the largest in New Zealand, employing 300 people and contributing around $15 million annually to the local economy in salary and wages.

The company’s mussel processing operation in Havelock was yesterday given the Marlborough Award, last presented in 2006, which recognises significant contribution to the district through innovation. . . 

Fonterra Moves to Reduce Sugar Content in Kids’ Yoghurt – Anchor Uno:

Fonterra’s Anchor Uno now contains the lowest levels of sugar (per 100 grams) in any kids’ yoghurt brand in New Zealand, with 40 per cent less sugar than the original Uno formulation.

Good nutrition is important for growing children as they are developing nutritional habits that can continue throughout their lives. The Anchor team recognise this and has come up with a way to provide a healthier alternative that kids still enjoy.

Anchor Cultured Brand Manager Nicola Carroll says Anchor is committed to continuously improving its product portfolio to reduce the use of added sugars without compromising the quality, taste and texture of the product. . . 

A day down on the farm: Owl Farm’s first Annual Public Open Day:

Owl Farm in Cambridge is opening its gates to urban communities for its inaugural Open Day on Saturday 15 October, 11am until 4pm.

The theme, ‘From our grass to your glass, how your milk is made’, aims to close the gap between town and country by giving the communities in which Owl Farm operates an up-close experience of a working dairy farm.

“It’s vitally important that the dairy industry engage and demonstrate what dairy is all about, and where our milk comes from,” says Demonstration Manager Doug Dibley. “The event will be a fantastic opportunity for a fun and educational day on the farm for the whole family”. . . 

Auditing Stock – A crucial component to mitigating stock losses:

The recent theft of 500 dairy cows has been another harsh wake up call for the industry as farmers consider if they are taking the right precautions in protecting their second largest asset. Michael Lee, an agribusiness audit specialist at Crowe Horwath, advises how the introduction of simple systems can mitigate potential theft.

The Federated Farmers’ dairy industry chairperson, Andrew Hoggard points out if a bank was robbed there would be uproar, but police don’t tend to see stock as cold, hard cash.

Lee agrees saying, “Stock theft is extremely important for farmers as not only do they lose their capital when stock is stolen, which for a dairy cow can be up to $2,000, they also suffer the loss of revenue from that stock.” . . 

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Rural round-up

October 4, 2016

Lamb to tell ‘red meat story’ – Sally Rae:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand is to close some overseas offices as it concentrates on a new marketing strategy to differentiate this country’s products with those of international competitors.

After about 12 months of consultation, Beef and Lamb chairman James Parsons released the strategy which he said marked a change in direction for the organisation.

The story of New Zealand farming and its farmers would be at the heart of Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s new market development strategy targeting new and emerging markets.

Mr Parsons said development of a red meat sector story, which captured the culture, values and integrity long associated with New Zealand sheep and beef farmers, would be a way to differentiate this country from its competitors in the international marketplace. . . 

Appointed acting president of WFO: –

Federated Farmers president William Rolleston has been appointed acting president of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO).

Dr Rolleston has been the WFO’s vice-president and will guide the organisation through until the next general assembly in Helsinki in 2017 during which a new president will be appointed.

“It’s a privilege to be appointed to this role in an acting capacity. The WFO actively promotes the critical importance of a sustainable global farming sector for the future of our planet. . . 

Feds say it’s simple: comply with the law:

Farmers are urged to commit to getting employee records and contracts right after large fines were issued during a Labour Inspectorate investigation into a Taranaki dairy farm.

Federated Farmers Taranaki provincial president Bronwyn Muir says it is essential farmers keep up-to-date contracts and wage and time records for all employees.

“Agriculture needs to attract a good quality, motivated workforce to drive productivity gains and to improve performance. So farmers need to provide workplaces which will attract those people.

“Getting the basics of employment law right is the foundation to build that attractive work environment,” Bronwyn says. . . 

Shearing sports season kicks off in Central Otago :

A big shearing sports season has begun with the national Merino Championships on today  and tomorrow.

The championships are being held in Alexandra, Central Otago.

Five national titles will be decided in the only national fine wool event. New Zealand shearers will be competing to stop West Australian shearer Damien Boyle from snapping up the open shearing championship for the seventh year in a row. . . 

Guy welcomes Sri Lankan FarmIQ pilot:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the announcement of a FarmIQ technology pilot in Sri Lanka.

The pilot was part of a joint announcement by Prime Minister John Key and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today.

“The FarmIQ management system has been developed through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), and is cutting edge technology that can be applied to a range of farming activities,” says Mr Guy. 

“It works by capturing and analysing data throughout the value chain so farmers can better link on-farm practices to farm outputs and revenue.  . . 

What is Fonterra anyway – Susan Edmunds:

What does Fonterra do?

Fonterra is a co-operative that buys milk from its farmer shareholders and processes it, mainly for export.

Fonterra and its shareholders produce more than two million tonnes of dairy ingredients, specialty ingredients and consumer products every year. Only about 5 per cent is kept in New Zealand. It produces about a third of the world’s dairy exports. . . 

New president marks quarter-century milestone for United Fresh:

Leadership and collaboration are vital to keep New Zealand’s horticulture industry blooming, says the new president of the country’s only pan-produce organisation.

New president Jerry Prendergast says the produce industry is entering a new era of business, just as United Fresh celebrates its 25th year.

“New varieties, sustainability, new technologies and competitive advantage are just some of the factors guiding our strategic plan into the future,” he says.

The people who work in the industry are essential to delivering on these targets, he says. . . 

WineWorks turns 21 and opens multi-million dollar plant in Auckland:

WineWorks, New Zealand’s largest, independent wine bottling and warehousing provider, officially opens its new multi-million dollar facility in Onehunga on Friday (7 October, 2016) and at the same time toasts 21 years of being in business.

The new state-of-the art plant was more than eight years in the planning. It took almost 12 months to construct and covers two hectares. One of the tallest buildings in Onehunga, it is located in what Managing Director Tim Nowell-Usticke calls the ‘sweet spot’ of the wine industry’s supply chain.

“Here we have easy access to rail, the port, the airport, industry suppliers and supermarket distribution centres. In addition, the country’s only glassworks is just down the road, and New Zealand’s largest wine market is right on our doorstep.” . . 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2016

‘Massive’ Chinese stake in the south – Dene Mackenzie:

News of a $200 million milk plant to be built 5km north of Gore has been enthusiastically welcomed by Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks, who yesterday described the announcement as “massive”.

Mataura Valley Milk will have nearly 72% Chinese ownership. Construction of the new plant is planned to start on the site of the former McNab auction yards in October, with a planned commissioning date of August 2018.

Southland dairy farmers will hold 20% of the shares and be the suppliers to the new factory.

Much of the production will be infant milk powder bound for the Chinese market, although other markets will be developed. . . 

Westland Milk Products appoints new Chief Executive:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, has announced the appointment of Toni Brendish as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Westland Chairman Matt O’Regan said today (28 July 2016) that Brendish has extensive leadership experience in the international food and dairy industries, most recently as Vice President of DKSH (Thailand), a large consumer goods distribution business based in Bangkok, where she currently resides.

“Toni’s familiarity with the manufacture, supply chain and sales and marketing of value-added dairy products, including paediatric and nutritional powders and UHT dairy products, will be of immense value to the company as we progress the development and execution of our growth strategy for these businesses,” O’Regan said. . . 

Processing on the horizon – Shannon Gillies:

Waitaki Orchards in Kurow is building a fruit processing plant to avoid a repeat of the loss of up to 50 tonnes of its apricot crop earlier this year because of rain.

The orchard lost most of the crop on nearly half of its 35,000 trees in January after two weeks of near-continuous rain.

The orchard’s smaller crop of nectarines was also badly hit, but other stone fruit, cherries and plums survived the rain. . . 

Upbeat conference attracts 200+ delegates – Allan Barber:

The delegates at the 2016 Red Meat Sector Conference were challenged and entertained by a stimulating range of guest speakers and New Zealand icons the Topp Twins.

Minister for Everything Stephen Joyce gave the welcome speech at the Sunday evening cocktail function and took the opportunity to compliment the industry on its great performance in offsetting the dairy downturn, while encouraging it to work hard on progressing PGP funded projects with 40% of the total already allocated to the red meat sector.

At the formal conference opening the next morning Minister for Food Safety Jo Goodhew made a strong plea for industry government collaboration to protect New Zealand’s food safety and biosecurity reputation. She reinforced her message with the reminder that the consumer is not just interested in product quality and food safety, but also in its provenance, sustainability and the animal welfare standards applied to its production. . . 

Sheep, beef farms must focus on costs – Hugh Stringleman:

Sheep and beef farmers need to focus on onfarm costs in the same way as dairy farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

The key focus for his organisation was to help farmers get the average onfarm cost structure down below $3 a kilogram of product, both meat and wool.

When opening the Red Meat Sector conference in Auckland, Parsons said everyone in the sector needed to tell their story better to get product value growth from export markets.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy aimed to increase export earnings from all products – meat, wool and co-products – from $8 billion to $12b. . .

Risk, reward in produce sector – Stepehn Bell:

Huge changes in the booming horticulture sector present export opportunities but also mean considerable risk is developing, Westpac industry economist David Norman says.

Risks included consolidating in fewer markets, growing debt, the potential for more non-tariff barriers and the risk of labour shortages, Norman said in Westpac’s Industry Insights into Horticulture.

The sector was small in terms of jobs with about 39,000 full-time equivalents but accounted for more than 7% of merchandise exports with earnings of $3.4 billion in the year to May. Its exports, accounting for 60% of production, had grown 140% this century compared to 94% for all exports. . .

When a farm kid goes to an animal rights conference… – Laura Bardot:

I grew up on a cattle farm in rural Missouri. I am a classic, stereotypical farm kid that was involved in the local 4-H and FFA. I raised cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits and ducks. I know how to drive a tractor and drove a truck in a field before I drove a car on the highway.

Bullying farmers and ranchers 

I became aware of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from their pessimistic TV commercials trying to gain more donations by appealing to viewers’ emotions. I knew these animal rights organizations always said they were trying to help dogs and cats, but when they said they needed to “rescue” farm animals, that’s when I started to do research.

In August of 2014, Missouri residents voted on a “Right to Farm Bill”- ensuring Missouri farmers and ranchers are guaranteed the right to farm for forever in the state. I advocated heavily in favor of this bill, yet I met several people who were skeptical, and the majority of those people were misinformed on the bill by anti-agriculture groups. Therefore, I attained a dislike for these groups that felt the need to bully and pressure their way into getting what they think is best for animals – which often does not align with science. . . 

FMG's photo.


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