Rural round-up

January 16, 2014

If it’s hotter or cooler we need to store water – Bruce Wills:

Since it’s healthy to push yourself each New Year I like to start with a brand new experience.  For me, that was filing a farming music video for Young Country magazine.  A video set to music may be a unique way to tell my story to younger farmers but it was fun doing it at a busy time on-farm.  Admittedly, I do not think NZ on Air funding will be in the mail.

This year means I am in my final seven months as the President of Federated Farmers and I genuinely hope this column will continue with my successor.  That person will be elected in early July, after Federated Farmers provinces and industry groups assemble in Palmerston North for our National Conference. 

Looking back, 2011 seems a world away when I undertook my first political interview on TV One’s Q+A.  It was with Massey University’s Dr Mike Joy and was hosted by the late Sir Paul Holmes. The subject was water quality and our dairy industry and in the minds of some people that has not changed.  The perception of what we do is yet to catch up to the realities of modern farming. 

When you’ve got older farmers, the sort that the Topp Twins satirise so well, actively swapping notes on riparian plantings then you know there’s been a shift in culture. . .

Water storage becomes vital in changing climate – James Houghton:

Now most of you will be back from a well-rested break, having indulged yourselves silly and feeling a little guilty perhaps? Well just thought you might like to know, like most farmers, I have been kept busy as farming is a 365-day-a-year job. Thankfully, summer has been kind to us so far and the ever-increasing threat of drought has been kept at bay.

Looking to the year ahead, I am hoping we will see an improvement in people and organisations being accountable for their actions and learning from their mistakes. Last year, we saw some disappointing performances in the biosecurity area and animal welfare. We also seem to be struggling with the ever-increasing reality that we need a reliable source of water to maintain a sustainable primary industry and our economic independence. When corporates make a mistake, they need to do what is right and not solely focus on the dollar.

My hope is that we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we don’t, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debates paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

‘Milk price outlook, the unforeseen risk of the US’ – Lisa Deeney:

“The huge increase in supplies of natural gas and oil in the US and Canada will probably pose a strong risk to future Irish milk price by enabling US milk producers to be competitive at lower prices than before.”

This is according to Cork-based dairy farmer and businessman Mike Murphy, who has interests in America, New Zealand and Chile, and an organiser of Positive Farmers’ dairy conference taking place in Clonmel, Tipperary today.

“Be aware to this risk. Farmers who borrow heavily based on current milk price may be in for a very rough time. Be a little conservative on milk price forecasts,” he cautioned to the packed attendance of more than 475 people. . .

Fonterra cream E.coli recall proves safety system ‘works’: Federated Farmers – Mark Astley

Fonterra’s decision to recall 8,700 bottles of potentially E.coli-contaminated fresh cream proves only that the cooperative’s “quality assurance system works,” New Zealand dairy farmer representative, Federated Farmers, has claimed. . .

Brown fat measurement could offer key to improving lamb survival:

Not all fats are created equal, and work by AgResearch is looking into how this knowledge can help reduce lamb deaths.

In good conditions mortality of twins and triplets is below 10% and 20% respectively, but in poor weather conditions it can be much more. Many of these deaths occur in the first three days of life, often because the lamb is unable to generate enough body heat to keep warm during periods of extreme weather.

Immediately after birth and until they get a feed, lambs have only one main way to regulate and maintain their body temperature: burn ‘brown fat’ to generate heat. . .

Irrigation scheme gets chief -Marta Steeman:

The company developing the $400 million Hurunui irrigation scheme has appointed a permanent chief executive to steer the company through the nitty gritty of design and development.

Hurunui Water Project Limited announced this week Alex Adams would take the helm on March 10.

The appointment follows the company being awarded its most critical consent – permission to take water from the Waitohi River – in August last year.

Hurunui Water Project proposes to develop four water storage dams on the Waitohi River to irrigate just under 60,000 hectares. . .

WCB slams MG’s ‘super co-op’ plan – Jared Lynch:

WARRNAMBOOL Cheese and Butter (WCB) has attacked Murray Goulburn’s takeover bid, saying any further consolidation of Australia’s dairy industry will hurt exports.

Murray Goulburn, Australia’s biggest dairy company, has argued that if it acquired WCB it would create a ”super co-operative”, giving Australia the scale necessary to compete globally.

But in a submission to the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT), WCB dismissed that claim.

”There is a risk that further ­consolidation of Australian dairy exporting companies could have a negative effect on Australian dairy exports,” WCB said. . . .

LePage signs bill to label genetically modified food – Steve Mistler:

Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill that would require food producers to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The law makes Maine the second state in the country to pass such a measure. However, other states must adopt similar legislation before Maine’s labeling provision goes into effect.

The governor promised last year to sign the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington. His signature is symbolic because legislative rules don’t allow the law to go into effect until the Legislature adjourns later this year. However, supporters of the bill hailed the law’s eventual passage as a victory for advocates of laws mandating the labeling of genetically modified foods. Such proposals have been introduced in nearly 30 states as part of a national effort to compel Congress to enact a comprehensive labeling law. . .


Rural round-up

January 10, 2014

ANZCO opens new food laboratory – Alan Williams:

ANZCO Foods has set up a new innovation centre at Lincoln University to focus on new food developments.

Its research team was already working on new developments, with more in the pipeline, the company’s Food and Solutions business chief executive Rennie Davidson said.

The centre was opened last month by ANZCO chairman Sir Graeme Harrison, who said it was part of an $87 million project to generate more value from beef carcases.

The FoodPlus project is a joint venture between ANZCO and the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme. . .

Kiwis set to shine in New York – Alan Williams:

Promotion and sales are the focus for two top New Zealand knitting yarn marketers later this week at the Vogue Knit Live fair in New York.

Marnie Kelly and Bev Forrester will be showing their yarns in front of thousands of knitters from all over the United States and many others from round the world, in the heart of Times Square.

They sell to American and Canadian tourists in NZ and to customers online, and now they want to use the fair to attract retailers who can provide them with a bigger market. . .

Sizzling summer brings boats into play

SIZZLING, dry conditions in Queensland mean the prospect of feed grain being brought around from South Australia to Brisbane to boat becomes ever more likely.

Once considered fanciful, analysts now suggest the economics of bringing feed grain in from southern areas is now a strong possibility.

Lloyd George, AgScientia, said with the planting window for sorghum in southern Queensland rapidly closing and largely inelastic demand, end-users were casting their net ever further afield to source stocks. . .

ACCC has concerns over Murray Goulburn’s takeover of WCB –  Tim Binsted and Jared Lynch:

The competition regulator has cast doubts over Murray Goulburn’s claim that its acquisition of Warrnambool Cheese & Butter will yield benefits to the public and re-establish Australian dairy’s global competitiveness.

Murray Goulburn is locked in a fierce $500 million-plus takeover battle for control of WCB with Canadian dairy company Saputo.

Murray Goulburn must convince the Australian Competition Tribunal that the public benefits of its acquisition of WCB outweigh anti-competitive concerns or its bid is finished.

In an issues paper made public on Tuesday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – which is helping the tribunal – rejected Murray Goulburn’s claim that its takeover of WCB would cause no significant lessening of competition. . . .

Food campaigners target Oxford Farming Conference – Johann Tasker:

Campaigners have called on the Oxford Farming Conference to recognise the contribution of small-scale farmers and food producers.

Members of the Land Workers’ Alliance protested outside the conference venue as delegates arrived at the Oxford Examination Rooms on Tuesday (7 January).

The alliance – members of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina – is a group which campaigs for the rights of small producers and a better food system. . .

 Musterer injured after horse collapses – Murray Robertson:

A CASUAL musterer on a farm at Rere was flown to hospital yesterday morning when the horse he was riding died underneath him as they descended a steep hillside.

Emergency services were alerted at about 11am.

The 69-year-old horseman suffered neck, head and facial injuries in the mishap. He was flown to Waikato Hospital yesterday afternoon after being assessed at Gisborne Hospital’s emergency department. . .

Manning the panic station – Tim Fulton:

It was just on five minutes to six in the half light of the morning when a cry rang out.

My wife’s urgent tone was comparable to the fright of a burglar in the living room: “Tim, Tim…the sheep are in the garden.”

Our sheep – a modest tally of four ewes and five lambs – make a mockery of our attempt at fencing.

The artificial barriers between yard and garden grow ever higher but still the mini flock tests weak links in the wire. . .


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