Rural round-up

November 9, 2019

Why are farmers treated differently?:

For all the protestations of affection and respect, dairy farmers seem to be in a class of their own when it comes to the non-negotiability of their environmental responsibilities.

That was made very clear once again last week when the Ministry for Primary Industries announced that it would not be prosecuting anyone over the deaths of potentially hundreds of long-finned eels, which were removed from their habitat and dumped by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council workers. The dead and dying eels were discovered by a Napier resident, encased in tonnes of mud that had been dumped on the banks of the Moteo River in February. A video that went viral on Facebook prompted the MPI to investigate, and the council downed tools while it undertook its own review.

Eight months later the MPI said it had insufficient evidence to charge anyone. . .

Zero Carbon Bill a mixed bag for farmers:

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle is describing the Zero Carbon Bill as a ‘mixed bag’ for farmers, while urging all political parties to work together to find consensus on a pathway forward.

“The agricultural sector has engaged positively and constructively in this process over the past 18 months to help craft a piece of legislation that is both consistent with a 1.5-degree pathway and fair for farmers” Dr Mackle said.

“We support the key architecture in the Bill. This includes the establishment of an Independent Climate Change Commission, carbon budgeting and, in particular, a split gas approach that recognises methane is different to other greenhouse gasses”.

The key point of contention remains the methane reduction targets. . .

Farm moves cut gas and nitrates – Richard Rennie:

On-Farm solutions to lower nitrates and, by default, nitrous oxide gases are also a good way to ensure farming holds up to public scrutiny, farm environment consultant Alison Dewes says.

There is a strong social-licence angle in pursuing environmental efforts on water quality and greenhouse gases.

Farmers being seen to be making efforts across both areas will only aid farming’s continuing acceptability to society, regardless of the science dynamic.

“It really has to pass the front page test now,” Dewes said.  . . 

Family tradition reflected in win – Yvonne O’Hara:

Julie Skedgwell, (16), of Tuatapere, got a hug from her mum and a dinner out after becoming reserve champion in a national dairy judging competition in Hastings recently – despite being extremely nervous.

The James Hargest College pupil is a fourth generation Jersey stud breeder, with her own stud, the Mount Brook Stud.

Sister Alannah (17) also has her own Elms Lake Stud.

Julie and farm worker Lisa Bonenkamp (22) who works for Waikaka Genetics, near Gore, represented the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society’s southern district at the New Zealand Royal A&P Show, hosted by the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society in Hastings on October 23 to 25. . .

Alex Malcolm: The 9-year-old on a mission to eradicate catfishLeah Tebbutt:

Pesky catfish have grown to record numbers in Rotorua lakes over the past two years but one 9-year-old is making a record number of catches.

Alex Malcolm has been hunting the whiskered fish since “the end of term one” and can tell you the exact number he has caught over the short space of time.

“556,” he said with a grin wider than a Cheshire Cat.

“I’m not giving it up anytime soon because it is something I can do in my own time. I like being out on the lake.” . .

“Plants good, meat bad” is too simplistic when tackling climate change – Hannah Thomas-Peter:

Last week I wrote about the environmental impact of the global meat and dairy industries. It made quite a few people cross, particularly British farmers, who felt unfairly maligned.

National Farmers’ Union Vice President Stuart Roberts asked if we could have a conversation about it all, and so that’s what we did. He made a series of illuminating points, and our exchange left me with a lot of questions about the nature of fairness and competition under the pressure of the climate crisis.

Mr Roberts started with a broad argument: “People have drawn this conclusion that meat is bad, plants are good, and therefore we should all stop eating meat. It over simplifies a tremendously complicated issue.” . . 


Rural round-up

August 25, 2019

Powering up well-beings could power up costs :

Federated Farmers is concerned the call on councils to “power up” the four well-beings re-introduced into local government legislation will pile on more costs for ratepayers.

“Councils up and down the country have lost the battle to keep rates increases in touch with inflation, and debt levels are soaring.  Many can’t keep up with the costs of activities and infrastructure maintenance/replacement that most residents would count as core – water, stormwater, flood protection, local roads, rubbish and recycling collection,” Feds President and local government spokesperson Katie Milne says.

“Yet Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has just exhorted councils to power up ways communities can realise their ambitions for social, economic, environmental and cultural priorities.”  . . 

Food giant Danone signs deal to grow Waikato sheep milk industry – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand’s emerging sheep dairy industry has graduated to the big league with the launch of a sheep milk toddler formula by global food giant Danone.

Nutricia Karicare toddler sheep milk powder will be 100 per cent New Zealand sheep milk from Maui Milk, which operates two farms on the western shores of Lake Taupo.

And Danone plans to launch a full sheep milk formula range next year under the Nutricia brand. . . 

‘Learn so much about yourself’ at dairy awards – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of Bridget Bell’s goals was to place in the top five of this year’s Southland Otago Dairy Industry awards.

She first entered the farm manager of the year section in 2018 and did not place, but she tried again this year and came second, which she was thrilled with.

Mrs Bell also won three merit awards: The Shand Thomson leadership award; the AWS legal employee engagement award and the Fonterra dairy management award.

”I really wanted the Fonterra award,” Mrs Bell said. . . 

Master farrier keeps his foot in the industry after 51 years – Gordon Findlater:

Brian Wilson (85) is a name anyone in the horse racing industry will recognise. The former farrier can still be found at Riccarton as the club’s plating inspector. On Saturday, August 10, race three in the Grand National Festival of Racing’s first event was named ‘Brian Wilson 51 years a farrier’ in his honour. Gordon Findlater catches up with him

Can you remember the first time you shoed a horse?

I would have been 14 or 15 on the West Coast and one of the guys that did have a horse was Jock Butterfield, who played for the Kiwis, and he wanted to put some shoes on this horse, so they gave me some tools and to this day I feel sorry for the horse. That was my first experience of shoeing a horse.

What was it like growing up on the West Coast back then?

I quite enjoyed it, but there wasn’t a great future. You worked in the forestry or the bush as we called it, or the mines. I came over here in 1951 and that’s when I really got involved in the horses. My brother was an apprentice jockey, so I thought, well, I’ll see how I go, but it wasn’t to be. . . 

IHC hopes for sheep farmers’ support:

This spring, IHC is launching its new Lamb Programme, urging sheep farmers to join with dairy farmers to support people with intellectual disabilities and their families in rural communities.

IHC’s Calf & Rural Scheme was hit hard last year by Mycoplasma bovis, losing half its usual income, in what was an incredibly difficult year for many dairy farmers.

IHC National Fundraising Manager Greg Millar is hoping farmers will now pledge a lamb or sheep to support children and adults with an intellectual disability in rural communities. . . 

The average US farm is $1.3 Million in debt, and now the worse farming crisis in modern history is upon us – Michael Snyder:

We haven’t seen anything like this since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Leading up to this year, farm incomes had been trending lower for most of the past decade, and meanwhile farm debt levels have been absolutely exploding.  So U.S. farmers were desperate for a really good year, but instead 2019 has been a total disaster.  As I have been carefully documenting, due to endless rain and catastrophic flooding millions of acres of prime farmland didn’t get planted at all this year, and the yields on tens of millions of other acres are expected to be way, way below normal.  As a result, we are facing the worst farming crisis in modern American history, and this comes at a time when U.S. farms are drowning in more debt than ever before.  In fact, the latest numbers that we have show that the average U.S. farm is 1.3 million dollars in debt

Debt-to-asset ratios are seeing the same squeeze, with more farms moving into a ratio exceeding 80%. Barrett notes each year since 2009 has seen an increase in the average amount of total debt among farmers, and 2017 was no exception. Average debt rose 10% to $1.3 million. The biggest increase was in long-term debt, such as land.

Farming in the 21st century has become an extraordinarily risky business, and countless U.S. farmers were already on the verge of going under even before we got to 2019.

Now that this year has been such a complete and utter disaster, many farms will not be able to operate once we get to 2020.

Minnesota farmers Liz and Bob Krocak were hoping for better days ahead as this year began, but things have been really tough and their debts have become overwhelming.  During a recent meeting with their creditors, Liz was so distraught that she literally burst into tears


Rural round-up

June 2, 2019

National’s support ends if methane targets don’t change – Simon Edwards:

National will not support the Zero Carbon Bill passing into law if “ridiculous” methane targets are not wound back, the party’s climate change spokesperson Todd Muller said.

“I totally reject the view that when there is no ability to mitigate (methane emissions), you just push on regardless,” he told the Federated Farmers Taranaki agm in Stratford on May 24.

Farmers had some tough questions for him on why National had supported the bill in its first reading.  Muller said he achieved “about eight of the ten things I wanted” in terms of the framework for a new Climate Change Commission, and it was “better to be in there wrestling for something sensible” than throwing rocks from the outside . .

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters – Point of Order:

Many New  Zealanders may  be unaware that China, home to  half the world’s pigs, is suffering  a  catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.  According  to  one  authoritative estimate, the disease may have  wiped out one-third of the population  of 500m  pigs.

The  London  “Economist”  says  that for as long  as it takes  China’s pig industry  to recover —which may be   years—farmers  elsewhere  may have  cause to  celebrate.  Yet  foreign producers cannot  make up  the vast amount of production  which  will be  lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade  war  with China.

So, as  Point of Order sees it,  a big opportunity is opened for  NZ  food  producers, particularly  meat exporters,  to  be  diverting  as  much of their product  as  they can to  China. . . 

The value of meaningful protest – Gavin Forrest:

I value the right to protest. Without protest and people standing up for a better society or against threats to their current way of life many of my friends would not be able to exist in the way they do today.

Farming wouldn’t  be the way it is today if it were not for the actions of those who came before us.  

While still in shock farmers protested in the streets of Wellington against a background of having subsides ripped from them with little to no consultation and at breakneck speed in the 1980s. . .

Woman makes history at dog trial championships – Sally Rae:

Sheer grit helped former Otago woman Steph Tweed make history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship.

Miss Tweed (27) won both the North Island and New Zealand championship straight hunt at the New Zealand championships in Northland this week with Grit, whom she describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime” dog.

It was an all-male final, apart from Miss Tweed, who topped the first round with 97 points to clinch the North Island title, and then won the run-off with 95.5 points to secure the national title. . .

Women set to drive change in New Zealand’s meat industry :

Woman working in the meat industry have gathered for an inaugural meeting of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women (MBW) in Napier this week, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector.

Ashley Gray, General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Chair of MBW New Zealand has been instrumental in launching the professional networking initiative here in Aotearoa and says there is plenty the group can achieve once underway.

“Once I began on this journey, the interactions I had with women working in the supply chain, were for me – revolutionary. Women in our sector are incredibly passionate. They are forward thinkers, conversation starters, game changers, shakers and movers and I believe, collectively, have a huge role to play in shaping how the meat industry is perceived and operates in years to come. . . 

Appropriate rural midwifery resourcing must be addressed:

The College of Midwives is calling on health officials and the Minister to urgently address the shortage of midwives and facilities in the Southland DHB region.

The College’s Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says contrary to the DHB CEO, an ambulance is not an entirely appropriate place to have a baby – something that happened earlier this week between Lumsden and Invercargill.

“I’m not going to repeat the issues related to having a baby on the side of a road in an ambulance however this is something that underlines significant ongoing issues in this area of New Zealand,” she says. . . 

Jersey cows star in new single-breed milk launch:

Lewis Road Creamery today launched a new range of milk sourced solely from Jersey cows, as it unveiled the first single-breed standard milk to go on sale in supermarkets nationwide.

“The Jersey cow is rightly famous for her milk. It is richer, creamier, with higher butterfat and a more velvety texture,“ said Peter Cullinane. “A single-breed milk really lets those qualities shine.”

Mr Cullinane said as a dairy producing nation, New Zealanders deserved to have access to the best possible drinking milk, free from PKE and permeate. . . 

New directors elected to Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board welcomes re-elected directors Barry O’Neil and Hugh Ritchie, as well as new director Kathryn de Bruin, after four candidates contested three vacant Director roles.

Kathryn de Bruin joins the Board with a wealth of experience in the vegetable sector. Based in Dargaville, she splits her time between an accountancy practice focused on the primary sector, and growing 40ha of kumara with her husband Andre.

Katikati kiwifruit grower and Chair of Tomatoes NZ, Barry O’Neil offered himself for re-election, and has served as Board President since the departure of former President Julian Raine at the end of last year. . . 


Rural round-up

November 4, 2018

Farmers promoting safe stress-free workplace: – Sally Rae:

At Huntly Road Dairies, Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells have a philosophy when it comes to staff.

“They don’t work for us. We work with them. I think there’s a bit of a difference there,” Mr Wells explained.

And the Outram dairy farmer never expected any staff to do something on the farm that he had not done, or was not capable of doing. . . 

Farmers: DIRA past use-by date:

Farmers at the launch of public consultation on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act review are united in their belief its days are numbered.

The act has achieved its purpose Otago farmers told Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor who told them at the launch on Duncan and Anne-Marie Well’s Taieri farm the 2001 law had enabled the dairy industry to grow in volume, to innovate and for new companies to establish.

It is time for a review but that process has also been triggered by Fonterra’s share of South Island milk falling below 80%. . . 

Seeking a place to call home:

Making time for family and friends is important to a Waikato farming family. Fritha Tagg reports.

Farm facts
Owner: Piako Middle Farm
Sharemilkers: Olin and Anna Greenan
Location: Morrinsville, Waikato
Farm size: 214ha, two dairy sheds
Cows: 650 Friesian and crossbred
Production: Target 1100kg MS/ha
Farm working expenses: $1.90 . . 

New screen fish friendly, automated: – Yvonne O’Hara:

Fish no longer die and hours of labour have been saved each day after a new ”quantum leap” piece of equipment was installed as part of the Galloway Irrigation Company’s pumping system recently.

A new, specially adapted, self-cleaning, fish-friendly screen has been added to prevent fish and other debris from getting trapped. The water leaves the Manuherikia River, travels up a race, through the pumping infrastructure and then back to the river. . .

Giving up meat won’t save the cliamte – Frank M Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change. . . 

What’s happening in rural Aoteraroa-NZ?:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around Aotearoa New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Te Ika-a-Māui-North Island

In Northland at least 30 millimetres fell and some lucky farms received between 50-70. It was really needed and may let some farmers shut up silage paddocks which they haven’t been able to do so far. Recently sown crops will germinate but follow up rain is required. The main cloud on the horizon is, with a lot of beef cattle in the region, the dropping schedule price and what will happen from now on. . . 

 


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