Rural round-up

December 10, 2018

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

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

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

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

Farmers act on sustainability:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waikato farmers acting early on effluent management:

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

Ian Taylor, Puketaha

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

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

Smith keen to work with farmers – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

China remains the key to dairy prices – Mark Daniel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

August 14, 2018

‘They produce, simple as that’ – Sally Rae:

“We wouldn’t be farming today if it wasn’t for the Romneys.”

West Otago farmer Blair Robertson is a passionate advocate for the breed, saying “they produce,  simple as that”.

Mr Robertson and his wife Sally’s Merrydowns stud at Waikoikoi was one of three properties visited during a bus tour last week, as part of a reunion of  Romney stud breeders and stud stock agents. . . 

Novice Māori cheesemaker wins major award with smelly camembert – Eden More:

A novice Māori cheesemaker has won a major award in one of the world’s most prestigious cheese competitions.

Zev Kaka-Holtz works for Whangārei artisan company Grinning Gecko and his kau piro cheese has taken the bronze medal at the Nantwich international cheese show in the United Kingdom.

Kau Piro (smelly cow in te reo) is a camembert style cheese that is washed in a bacteria solution giving it its characteristic aroma.

Mr Kaka-Holtz said at first he was disappointed he didn’t win gold in his section for novice cheesemakers. . . 

Farming still pulls heartstrings – Glenys Christian:

Tourists and commuter traffic along with proximity to Auckland keep Rob and Rachel Cashmore aware of the scrutiny farming is under. Rob’s not backward at sticking up for farmers but is also conscious of his role in protecting the land and nature while farming commercially. Glenys Christian reports.

The power and speed of international communication was clearly shown to sheep and beef farmers Rob and Rachel Cashmore when tourists uploaded an image that made it to Holland and back to them within a day.

The tourists were driving past the couple’s Orere Point farm when a mob of sheep on the road close to the house made for a holiday photo with the caption “Not a traffic jam you’d expect this close to Auckland”. . . 

Couple go above and beyond for dog trials – Sally Rae:

They say behind every good man is a good woman.

When it comes to dog triallists, the same mantra could be applied, particularly in the case of Canterbury’s Jo Binnie.

For 50 years, Mrs Binnie has accompanied her husband Peter to dog trials, despite having never run a dog.

Last week was no exception; the couple attended the Southern Indoor Charity Dog Trial at Waimumu, near Gore, where Mr Binnie and Kate finished sixth in the open. . . 

Bringing lamb back into fashion – Shan Goodwin:

RESEARCHERS are on a mission to better match lamb with emerging consumer trends against a backdrop of record prices and consumption decline.

The potential is strong to fabricate cuts that tick boxes like convenience, modern tastes and the need to feed smaller households, they have found.

Likewise, there is solid opportunity for marketing on nutritional claims that the lamb industry hasn’t fully tapped. . . 

When a farmer and a dietitian are the same person: telling stories to counter misinformation about biotechnology – Jennie Schmidt:

The four most compelling words in the English language may be: “Once upon a time.”

When we hear them, we know we’re in for a story—and stories are the most powerful form of communication available to us.

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


Rural round-up

November 22, 2017

A Kauri in the Forest – Michael Spaans:

Federated Farmers is extremely saddened to learn of the passing of DairyNZ chairman Michael Spaans.

Federated Farmers extends its condolences to the Spaan family at this difficult time.
Mr Spaans was renowned for his commitment and dedication to the dairy sector and held several key positions as a director at Fonterra and board member at DairyNZ between 2008 – 2015. . .

Taranaki young farmers take on NZ Dairy Industry Awards challenge:

Several NZ Young Farmers members look set to go head-to-head in Taranaki’s longest-running dairy awards programme.

James Holgate, 25, and Buddy Sharpe, 20, have entered the prestigious New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

They’ll both be vying to take out the title of 2018 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year.

James Holgate is in his second season as a herd manager on Tony and Lorraine Lash’s 350-cow dairy farm at Midhirst. . . 

Affected farmer criticises handling of cattle disease – Sally Brooker:

A dairy farmer whose herd is infected with Mycoplasma bovis feels let down by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Leo Bensegues revealed his situation at a packed public meeting in the Morven Community Hall last night.

About 200 people crammed into the venue for the sixth meeting hosted by the ministry since the bacterial cattle disease was  discovered  on farms near Waimate in July.

Mr Bensegues asked ministry officials if they would change their biosecurity protocols if he could show they were not working.

Technical liaison officer Victoria Barrell assured him they would. . . 

 

New Zealander nominated for top global wine role:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the New Zealand government’s nomination of Dr John Barker as a candidate for the role of Director General of the International Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV).

The OIV is the inter-governmental scientific and technical reference body for wine. Based in Paris, with 46 members accounting for more than 85% of global wine production and nearly 80% of world consumption, it is sometimes called the ‘UN of wine’.

“Dr Barker is an ideal candidate. He has deep understanding and expertise in the global vine and wine sector built on 20 years of experience,” said CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, Philip Gregan. . . 

A2 Milk revenue, profit pushes higher in first four months of FY18 – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, says both revenue and net profit jumped in the first four months of the current financial year as it continues to benefit from strong demand for its infant formula.

Revenue climbed 69 percent to $262.2 million in the four months ended Oct. 30 from the same four months a year earlier, while net profit more than doubled to $52.3 million, the company told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Auckland. Group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $78.4 million, up 120.8 percent on the same four months a year earlier. . . 

Synlait Auckland officially opened, doubles infant formula packaging capacity:

Synlait Milk has opened its new Auckland site, which is home to its second state-of-the-art blending and consumer packaging facility.

Located in Mangere, the site was officially opened today by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff at a ceremony alongside all staff.

“We’re expecting customer demand for consumer packaged products to increase significantly in the near term,” said John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New Zealand ag-tech increases farm revenue and consumer appeal:

One of the greatest costs to farmers tending an estimated one billion sheep globally is in lost productivity from parasites and ineffective drench programs. The result of a three year R&D project, funded by Sainsbury’s – the UK’s second largest supermarket chain – has demonstrated use of technology developed in New Zealand can save farmers in their supply chain alone around $19 million annually.

Dunedin based ag-tech company Techion Group’s combination of an internet connected device, data management system and connectivity to veterinary expertise delivers an effective means to manage parasites and drenching programs which affect the health and growth of animals. . . 

‘First Wolrd’ disputes can cause ‘third world’ dliemnas – Jennie Schmidt:

The majority of Americans know very little about genetically modified food. They’ll even tell you so: In a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center last year, 63 percent rated their understanding of GMOs as “poor” or “fair.” Only 4 percent called it “excellent.”

That’s why Congress is investing $3 million in the Food and Drug Administration specifically to be used for an education campaign. Before the FDA spends the money, however, it’s asking the public for input: This month, it has held forums in Charlotte, N.C., and San Francisco. Online comments are open until November 17.

The skinflint in me worries about this expense: Does a government with a national debt of $20 trillion really need to use its limited resources this way?

The realist in me observes that the spending decision already has been made, so we might as well quit wondering about “whether” and start thinking about “how.” . . 

 


10 most annoying words about ag

January 2, 2014

The winner of AgChat Foundation’s #1 blog post in the Top #AgBlog Posts of the year is :

Jennie Schmidt (aka The Foodie Farmer) for her post, “Top 10 Annoying Words About Agriculture.

She begins:

A few weeks ago, I emailed around a poll to my farm and Ag friends both near and far to ask them to give me their top 10 words that most annoyed them that are used in referencing agriculture and farming. I received a lot of interesting responses. There were many, many repeats which I have ranked in order from top to bottom. What it boils down to is that as a culture, we want everyone “in their place”. We want to define the people whose opinions differ from ours and confine them to a box. Social media is littered with examples of people and organizations lumping together and defining those who hold different beliefs in a negative way. It is a way of stereotyping, generalizing, misrepresenting, and for some, the ulterior motive of spreading misinformation. . .

The worst words were:

1. “BIG” – In the context of activist groups, “big” is a derogatory term linked to the perception that the majority of farms are corporate farms.Frankly, the term “big” used in this context sounds rather kindergarten-ish. It has little to do with size but more to the idea that family farms are small farms whereas big farms must be corporate. . .

2. “Factory” – Activists now define climate-controlled barns as “factories”. If you are defining animal agriculture by agenda driven documentaries such as Food Inc, then you have chosen to limit your perspective and specifically elected not to look for balance in the whys and where-fores of food production in the current day. . .

3. “Industrial” – in modern agriculture, industrial is a word used to demonize progress and technology. Efficiency is apparently acceptable in other sectors, but not in farming. . .

4. “Douse” – A word used to describe pesticide application. This is the type of rig used to apply pesticides and fertilizer. There is a fine mist (which in this pic happens to be fertilizer) guided by our GreenSeeker to apply only what the crop needs. Our family eats what we produce. Agricultural inputs are expensive. Why would we “douse” anything we grow with pesticides or fertilizer? . . .

5. “Pump“- The word “pump” made the list thanks in part to Panera Bread’s failed @EZChicken antibiotic campaign that illustrated in cartoon manner, chickens being injected with antibiotics and that farmers who use antibiotics are lazy. “Pump” really goes in line with the word “douse” as in every thing farmers do, we’re believed to do to the excess. Any good business person will tell you that makes no sense whatsoever, but I suspect most of those who throw these terms around have never run their own businesses. Its easy to criticize someones business when your paycheck is funded by “unnamed donors” to a non-profit. . .

6.  “Corporate“- as I said in #1, the majority of farms in the US are family owned and operated. They may vary in size, and they may be “incorporated” for tax purposes (C or S Corp) and for liability protection (LLC for example). . .

7.  “GMO/Frankenfoods” – Wow, this one is hot in social media these days. One of the prevalent anti-GMO claims is that the foods made from genetic engineering (GE) technology haven’t been studied and are not safe. A study in the journal Critical Reviews of Biotechnology looked at a decade of research on “GMO” foods and found no credible evidence that GMOs threaten health or safety of humans or the environment. A review of the study can be found here. . . .

8.  “SuperWeed” -Let me just say it like it is…. Weed resistance is not a genetic engineering issue, it is an agronomic issue. Weed resistance to herbicides did not begin with RoundUp or with GE crops. The chart below is from the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds. It shows that resistant weeds were occurring well before GE crops were ever on the market. Notably, glyphosate/RoundUp which receives the most media attention, is 6th in chronological increase after 5 other classes of herbicides. You should also know that glyphosate/RoundUp did not come about because of GE crops. . . .

9.  “Shill” – while I consider “big” to be a rather kindergarten-ish word about Ag, “shill” is definitely a high school bully word. If you take the time to read the comments section of a polarized discussion on social media, often the first stone thrown is “you’re a shill for Monsanto”. Sometimes kindergarten is combined with high school and the commenter says “you’re a shill for Big Ag”. . .

10. “Agrarian” – Picture “American Gothic. The word “agrarian” brings a romantic notion of the days of old, and therefore, not being appreciative of where modern agriculture has brought our society as a whole. It demeans the profession that we love, and that somehow, all of society would be better off if we went back to subsistence farming. Agrarian, after all, is a society where the majority of citizens participate in farming, not the current 1.5% of the US population. . .

Although she is writing from her experience of farming in the USA, her concerns are shared by farmers and farming families here and no doubt in most other countries.

 


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