Orchardists ambassadors for sustainable farming/growing

June 8, 2018

The Ballance Farm Environment Award has been won by orchardists for the first time:

Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit Growers Mark and Catriona White Are the New National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) runs the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and announced the Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at an awards function at Te Papa in Wellington on Thursday night – chosen from 11 regional supreme winners gathered from throughout the country.

Ten years ago, the Whites embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki. Their work and passion has transformed a 5.85ha section of a former organic dairy farm into the Coastal Kiwis Orchard it is today.

Former national ambassador Dianne Kidd from Helensville, who chaired the judging panel, says the Whites demonstrate an excellent understanding of all aspects of sustainable food production.

“They are outstanding strategic and agile thinkers on the key issues for New Zealand and have strong primary sector and community leadership qualities. They communicate and operate exceptionally well as a team and are natural leaders with a wealth of knowledge and experience and a willingness to impart this to others.”

She says Mark and Catriona show a respect for the Maori principles of kaitiakitanga – acting as guardian, protector and conserver – within their kiwifruit orchard management.

“They are strong users of evidence-based science and technology in their business and orchard and demonstrate a broad global market understanding and a real energy to be agents of change. They come from diverse careers into the primary sector bringing their expertise and capital to their chosen horticultural business and the community in Opotiki.”

Catriona’s family has been on the farm for four generations. Although they initially did not know much about kiwifruit, the couple did most of the physical development work themselves, keeping costs down and learning by their mistakes. Mark also did a National Certificate in Horticulture.

The orchard is BioGro certified. It has 3.19 ha of Zespri Organic Green kiwifruit, producing in 2017 a total of 23,483 trays of kiwi-start fruit. Zespri Organic SunGold (G3) is currently grown on 2.65 ha producing 38,362 trays. This production was achieved in a “challenging growing year” which included various cyclones and a very wet and windy autumn. Recently developed blocks of SunGold have come into production this season.

Alongside Kidd on the national judging panel were Warwick Catto from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, NZFET’s Jamie Strang, George Murdoch from Rabobank and Julia Jones from KPMG.

“New Zealand can be proud of the global leading achievements of our farmers and growers,” Kidd says.

“New Zealand media needs to help tell these great stories about our outstanding food producers. A common theme from this year’s supreme regional winners is a focus and clear understanding there is a need to connect with our consumers – a real market focus.”

The supreme winners of 11 regional awards were invited to the Showcase in Wellington to be considered for the trophy named in honour of Waikato farmer and noted conservationist, the late Gordon Stephenson. As a national award it is separate to the regional programme and judged under different criteria.

Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, Joanne van Polanen, says she is looking forward to supporting the Whites fulfil their ambassadorial duties including an overseas study tour. “Catriona and Mark will do the country proud as food producers of the highest quality.”


Rural round-up

May 6, 2014

Growing US dairy industry shouldn’t be ignored:

Dairy farmers are being urged not to ignore the growing United States dairy industry as it starts to muscle in on this country’s traditional export markets.

The US is now New Zealand’s second biggest dairy competitor.

David McCall from DairyNZ says large-scale farms with feedlots of up to 30,000 cows makes for a much cheaper operation.

He says that, until recently, most American dairy products were consumed domestically, but that’s now changing.

“They’ve made some changes to set up their dairies and some of their processing factories directly to produce export product, is one thing that they’re doing. And they’re producing the sort of products now that Chinese and other markets are demanding. . .

Forest owners seek safety solutions:

Forest owners and contractors say they aren’t sitting on their hands while an independent review panel carries out its investigation into the high death and injury toll from forestry accidents.

They have responded to strong Council of Trade Union criticism of safety standards by urging the umbrella group to take any evidence backing its concerns to the review panel.

Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls says the panel will need input from everyone in the forestry sector to come up with practical solutions to improve work safety.

He says steps to reduce the accident rate had started years before the review was launched in March and those are continuing while the review panel and the Coroners Court carry out their investigations. . .

 NZ to join foot & mouth exercise in Nepal:

A New Zealand team of vets and industry representatives will go to Nepal later this year to get first hand experience of dealing with foot and mouth disease.

It’s part of a new agreement between New Zealand and Australia to work together more closely on measures to combat this livestock disease.

Primary industries minister, Nathan Guy said a team of about 10 New Zealanders will be join an Australian foot and mouth training programme in Nepal, which is one of the countries battling the disease.

“It makes sense for us to be working closely with Australia because they know as a pastoral based economy that it would cause a huge amount of damage to the Australian economy if they ever got FMD and the same here in New Zealand. . .

Horticulture now 8% of New Zealand’s exports:

.Horticultural products now account for 8% of New Zealand’s total merchandise exports, according to the latest edition of the industry publication Fresh Facts.

In the year to 30 June 2013, the horticulture industry generated more than $3.6 billion in export revenue, with the major products being wine ($1.2 billion) and kiwifruit ($934 million). The biggest gains were seen in onion exports, which increased by 47% over 2012 values to a total $90 million, and apple exports, which increased by 40% to $475 million.

Total produce from the horticultural industry was valued at $6.7 billion, including $770 million of domestic spend on New Zealand grown fruit and $1.09 billion on vegetables.

“The success of New Zealand’s horticultural exports has been founded on a keen understanding of market needs and a passion for delivering high quality product that commands a healthy premium,” says Plant & Food Research CEO Peter Landon-Lane. . .

China temporarily bans British cheese imports:

China has temporarily banned imports of British cheese after the country’s food inspectors complained about hygiene standards at an unnamed UK dairy.

The Chinese officials were reportedly dissatisfied with its maintenance and storage, raw milk transport temperatures and air sanitisation.

However, the dairy they visited does not export its produce to China.

UK farming minister George Eustice has called for restrictions to be lifted “as soon as possible”.

“British cheese is the best in the world and produced to the highest safety and quality standards, so it is disappointing that China have put a temporary block on cheese imports,” he said. . .

Farm Environment Trust Assembles Top Panel for National Winner Judging:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust has welcomed two new judges to the panel responsible for choosing the National Winner of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Comprising six people with a broad range of skills and experience, the National Winner judging panel will select the next holder of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy from the ten regional Supreme winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The winner will be announced at a National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The 2014 National Winner judging panel is chaired by Simon Saunders, deputy chair of the NZFE Trust, and includes Jamie Strang, BFEA National Judging Coordinator, Warwick Catto, Head of Research and Environment, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and Paul Lamont, Regional Manager, Rabobank. Newcomers Charmaine O’Shea and Bruce Wills have joined the panel this year. . .

Snow Sports NZ and Cardrona Alpine Resort Sign Partnership Agreement:

Snow Sports New Zealand and Cardrona Alpine Resort Limited have signed a Partnership Agreement which will see Cardrona become the official resort partner of Snow Sports NZ, the naming rights sponsor of the New Zealand Park and Pipe Team and the naming rights sponsor of the NZ Freeski & Snowboard Junior National Championships.

Cardrona Alpine Resort and Snow Sports NZ have a positive long-standing partnership and the national freeski and snowboard team do all of their halfpipe and slopestyle training at the resort throughout the southern hemisphere winter. Cardrona also hosts key events such as the NZ Freeski Open, NZ Winter Games and an international spring training camp after the resort closes to the public.

The purpose of the formal agreement is to recognise the growing importance of the partnership and cement the relationship. A four year term has been agreed, subject to satisfactory annual review, during which time Cardrona will be recognised as the official resort partner of the NZ Park and Pipe Team and the team will be called the Cardrona NZ Park and Pipe Team. . .

Sanford agrees to buy assets of Greenshell NZ, Greenshell Investments from receivers:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, the listed fishing company, agreed to buy the assets of Greenshell NZ Limited and Greenshell Investments from the receivers of the mussel farming and processing group.

No price was disclosed in a statement from Sanford. Chief executive Volker Kuntzsch said the assets “were a strategic fit for Sanford’s aquaculture business as they allow for improved supplies from a wider geography.”

Receivers Brendon Gibson and Grant Graham of KordaMentha were appointed last November by Rabobank after depressed prices for the shellfish over a number of years culminated in a “significant” operating loss in 2012. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2013

Living up to our global responsibilities – Bruce Wills:

Not to give you the wrong impression, but I am writing this column from Geneva, where I have co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s trade policy to the World Trade Organisation. I am back in Europe thanks to the WTO but it has helped to advance New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy.

As a trading nation, we absolutely depend on trade in a world that is utterly dependent upon food. There are some things which keep me awake at night. Adverse weather events and biosecuirty being chief among them but there is a third which increasingly gnaws at me. That is a perfect storm of food production not keeping pace with a world population expected to hit 9.3 billion stomachs in the year 2050; an amazing 2.3 billion more than today.

Henk-Jen Brinkman, of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, called food insecurity “a threat multiplier”. . .

Angus farmers see grass is greener – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand’s grass-based feeding system for cattle was the main talking point of 110 international visitors at Te Mania Angus, during one of the first stops of a South Island tour, before the World Angus Forum in Rotorua next week.

Overseas visitors were treated to a wide selection of angus heifers with calves, mature calving cows, yearling bulls and herd sires, at the breeding operation at Conway Flats, south of Kaikoura.

They were also impressed by food prepared by celebrity chef Al Brown for their Monday visit at one of the largest angus breeding operations in New Zealand, and its setting next to the sea, with a snow-topped mountain backdrop. . . .

Milk powder scare will cause long term disruption – Alan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the effects of Fonterra’s botulism scare will last much longer than originally hoped or imagined. Its impact on New Zealand’s international trade reputation gives the impression of being more disastrous than an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, always assumed to be the biggest disaster that could possibly happen.

Economically there is no comparison between the two, because the botulism that wasn’t has initially done no more than cause infant formula manufacturers a loss of business. There has been no apparent impact on dairy payouts or even global auction prices. Fonterra appears to be pretending the whole saga wasn’t even its fault, if its reaction to Danone’s damages claim is any guide.   . .

Sainsbury’s evaluating merits of docking – Alan Williams:

Big United Kingdom supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will be guided by the science on issues it is working on with leading lamb supplier Alliance Group.

These are the docking of lambs’ tails and the use of high-sugar grasses as a livestock feed in New Zealand.

Animal welfare and sustainable production were key parts of Sainsbury’s strategic vision and its work with Alliance was part of the process to have matching values between the main UK lamb supply group and NZ suppliers, the chain’s agriculture manager Philip Hambling said.

The first year of a three-year tail-docking research programme, reported in The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, has been completed.

It produced interesting findings but it was too early to draw conclusions, Hambling said. . .

Gisborne forest boom predicted – Pam Graham:

The harvesting of forests in the Gisborne-Tairawhiti region on the East Coast will create 630 jobs by 2020, potentially reducing drug abuse and crime in the region, according to a report.

A study by Waikato University for the Eastland Wood Council says that by 2020 up to 10 percent of the population of Gisborne will be involved in, or derive a living from forestry.

Salaries and wages to Gisborne residents are likely to increase to $151 million a year in that period.

The number of people receiving welfare benefits will go down, schools will benefit from having parents employed and there may be less drug abuse and crime. . .

Weather helping croppers – Murray Robertson:

THE weather has been helping the district’s croppers in the past week to catch up with their planting programmes after heavy rain last month.

This is a crucial time for every crop and cropper in the district.

Leaderbrand general manager Richard Burke said they had everything they needed at this time.

“Things are pretty good really. . .

Awards offer chance to put spotlight on sustainability – Sue O’Dowd:

There’s no time like the present to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says national judging co-ordinator Jamie Strang.

Earlier this week the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) confirmed eight entries had been received for the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The prestigious awards, which are held in 12 regions, are being staged in the province for the first time.

While some farmers said they wanted to delay entering the competition because they thought their farm wasn’t quite ready, often they’d say the same thing in following years, Strang said.

Many farmers did not like being in the spotlight, but entering the awards offered many benefits. . .

Solid start to avocado export sales:

The first of this season’s New Zealand avocados have started hitting the supermarket shelves in Japan this week in a buoyant start to export sales there, and opening prices in Australia are at their best.

Rival Mexican supply is lower, which has allowed Avanza, the international export brand channel for AVOCO, to start early season negotiations in Japan at significantly improved market prices. While this is partly offset by an unfavourable exchange rate it still reflects a significant improvement in grower OGR (orchard gate returns).

At the same time, interest in New Zealand avocados is proving to be strong in developing markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and there are encouraging signs that Avanza sales will resume in Hong Kong after a two-year absence. . .


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