Rural round-up

April 20, 2016

Farm the secret to school’s success:

Northland College’s agricultural focus is helping to turn the once struggling secondary school into a success story, says the school’s Commissioner, Chris Saunders.

Absenteeism was an issue at the Kaikohe school, but truancy has halved since several initiatives were put in place to help prepare students for careers in agriculture, with Lincoln University contributing to Northland College’s curriculum and the operations of its commercial dairy farm.

“I think a big part of the success we’re seeing now is that we’re using the farm to offer students practical, primary industries-based training,” Mr Saunders says.

The University offers curriculum support that allows students to undertake on-farm courses, which will lead on to Lincoln qualifications.

“The farm is a significant asset for a small secondary school to own, so it’s very helpful to have Lincoln playing an active and supportive role with the management of it.” . . 

Woolly thinking in Norway – Sally Rae:

At first glance, the similarities between a Norwegian clothing company and a Gimmerburn farm might appear remote.

But with both enterprises sharing a strong focus on quality and a passion for wool – along with histories spanning more than a century – there were definite synergies.

Three executives from high-performance wool clothing brand Devold, including chief executive Cathrine Stange, recently visited the Paterson family’s property Armidale in the Maniototo. . . 

Merino key to ‘amazing’ new fabrics – Sally Rae:

‘‘It’s not your grandfather’s merino”.

Addressing a group of farmers in the Paterson family’s woolshed at Gimmerburn, Global Merino founder and chief executive Jose Fernandez outlined his business.

Global Merino is a United States-based technical textile manufacturer

founded by Mr Fernandez in 2007. It sold its first product in 2009. . . 

Dairy professor retires after years in dairy industry – Jill Galloway:

Peter Munro is about to retire after spending most of his working life in the dairy industry.

The professor, Fonterra chair in food materials science at Riddet Institute, started his life on the family’s dairy farm in Northland and has gone on to develop new dairy products for New Zealand.

“What I am proudest of is creating value for the New Zealand dairy farmer.”

Throughout a long career Munro has worked on milk protein manufacturing and its use, whey proteins and other products.

Fonterra often gets stick for exporting commodities, but at least 30 per cent of its products is sold in a specialised form, usually for food ingredients, says Munro. . .

My most valuable stock unit – Jamie Mackay:

A recent conversation with a sheep farming mate of mine about the current plight of the dairy industry resulted in me reflecting positively on the bad old days of sheep farming in the 1980s.
 
My friend was somewhat surprised when I declared, off the top of my head, that even during the lows of Rogernomics we never ran our farm at a loss.  This is in stark contrast to some dairy farmers who this season will run at a $300,000-plus loss per annum.
 
So I went back through some old annual accounts from 30 years ago to check I wasn’t looking back at farming through rose-tinted spectacles. Those annual accounts for the year ended 30 June, 1986 made for very interesting, if somewhat sobering, reading. . . 

How hill country can be profitable and resilient – Doug Edmeades:

It seems that we have lost sight of what a good clover-based pasture looks like and have forgotten the skills to grow and manage it, says Doug Edmeades.

A two-day symposium on hill country was held recently in Rotorua.  It was well attended by 300 farmers, consultants and agricultural scientists. Clearly, there is a thirst for innovation, new technologies and knowledge in this sector. 

The aim of the meeting was explicit: “What does a profitable and resilient future for our hill country farming look like?” And, “What do we, collectively and as individuals, do to achieve this future?” 

The output of the symposium, and hence, one hopes, the answers to these questions, is to be formally captured in a “position paper”. More on that after the paper comes out. . . 

Fertile ground for enhancing farming software:

Farmers are fairly enthusiastic about using the latest digital technologies to run their businesses, but there is still room for improvement in the agricultural software area, preliminary Lincoln University research suggests.

Lincoln student Jamie Evans recently undertook an exploratory study that involved surveying some of Canterbury’s farmers about the types of technologies they used and how well they thought they were being served by the programmes.

“With this study, we wanted to identify any issues farmers might have with their software, but the long-term goal is to carry out further research that will help us find solutions and ultimately improve these digital technologies,” says IT lecturer Shirley Gibbs, one of the project supervisors. . . 

Big sell off begins and big dry continues – Brian Wood:

THE big dump has started and, unless substantial rain falls across the Bathurst region, the panic to sell livestock before winter sets in shows no signs of abating.

An incredible 20,000 cattle have gone under the hammer at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange during the past two weeks.

Last week’s sheep sale had a yarding of 20,000 and 19,300 the week before, which also shows how the weather is impacting on the rural community.  . . 


Rural round-up

April 13, 2016

Plan for the worst, hope for the best – Jackie Harrigan:

If you could bottle optimism and cheerfulness and spray it around, Ben and Belinda Price would be a great source.

The Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year for 2016 could be forgiven for feeling a little down, with their feed wedge flatlining on their Waitotara sharemilking farm after a hot dry summer and the Fonterra payout forecast dipping to new lows.

But the indomitable pair have picked up many skills in their eight years of sharemilking and they put optimism and healthy thinking at the top of their list of useful habits, followed closely by budget monitoring and giving back. . .

Three years of low payouts for dairy farmers will build pressure – Jill Galloway:

Farmers are dealing with tough times.

Rabobank Feilding branch manager Asti Williamson said 99 per cent of dairy farmers were likely to survive the three-year milk payout downturn.

“Each case is different. It depends how much debt a farm has.  But we are supporting our farmers.”

He said bank economists thought New Zealand was about halfway through the payout downturn.

“And the impact of the low payout is on the banks, farmers and the whole country.” . . 

 

The hunt for the golden kiwifruit – Julian Lee:

Scientists in Te Puke are concocting bizarre and wonderful new types of kiwifruit.

The kiwifruit industry will bring in $1 billion next year, and scientists are on the hunt for the next golden kiwifruit.

The SunGold kiwifruit was developed in New Zealand in the 1990s but has its origins in China. It’s now a popular variety, both domestically and for export.

Zespri and Plant and Land Research are looking to replicate that success. . . .

NZ lamb angers British farmers after imports sold under Prince Charles’ label :

British farmers are dismayed to find New Zealand lamb being sold under Prince Charles’ brand Duchy Originals, which was meant to promote the best of British produce.

Duchy Originals products are sold only at UK supermarket Waitrose, which confirmed it does sell imported lamb under the Duchy brand when supplies from British farms were not available, the Daily Mail reported.

Welsh sheep farmer Gethin Havard said New Zealand lamb was ‘over-fat and over-priced’ compared with Welsh lamb. . . 

Fonterra board size in focus in first governance overhaul since inception –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra’s board and shareholders’ council successfully opposed a remit to shrink its board at last year’s annual meeting and the outcome of this week’s first-ever governance overhaul may hold that line while proposing other changes to ensure the best spread of boardroom skills.

New Zealand’s biggest exporter is scheduled to release a set of proposals to refresh its governance structures – both at board and shareholders’ council level – on Thursday, with the aim of putting any proposed changes to its structure before shareholders for a vote in May. Auckland-based Fonterra hasn’t changed its governance and representation arrangements since being set up 15 years ago although it undertook a full review in 2013. . .

NZ Wine Industry Embraces Automation –WineWorks and Sacred Hill lead the way with supply chain integration:

WineWorks, Sacred Hill, and Flow Software have taken a significant step towards integrating the New Zealand wine industry supply chain.

The organisations have just gone live with a new automated process that allows efficient management of the wine to bottling, warehousing, and distribution of Sacred Hill wine via WineWorks.

“We identified that if we could send our sales orders via EDI to WineWorks this would reduce administration processing costs, negate duplicate rekeying of orders, remove error input rates, eliminate stock from being allocated if not available and allow for more orders to be sent to WineWorks. ” says Cameron Sutton, Production Manager of Sacred Hill. “Flow worked closely with our specialist ERP provider UXC Eclipse, which was fundamental to the success of the project”, notes Sutton. . .


Rural round-up

March 15, 2016

What’s all this crying over spilled milk? New Zealand’s dairy crisis explained – Richard Meadows:

The dairy industry is constantly in the headlines lately – for all the wrong reasons.

Milk prices are going down the gurgler, and farmers are really starting to feel the pain.

Dairy is such a huge part of the economy that townies can’t help but be swept up in this too.

If you haven’t been following the issue closely, here’s an overview of what’s going on. . . 

Dairy industry marshalling its resources:

Dairy industry leaders are marshalling their collective resources to ensure a united approach to supporting farmers in the wake of a record low Farmgate Milk Price.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the industry’s leaders including dairy company chairs and chief executives and Federated Farmers’ dairy section have met over the past month to discuss the serious situation and considered joint actions and options for support.

The DairyNZ board also meets this week and will discuss further options. “We’ll be talking through and reviewing our plan as an industry,” he says. . . 

NZ calf prices hit record high as demand soars amid supply shortage – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Prices for weaned calves at the start of the new sales season in New Zealand are hitting record highs amid increased demand and lower supply.

Sales of six-month-old weaner steers and heifers this month at Stortford Lodge in Hastings, an early benchmark ahead of the peak sales period in April, rose between 17 and 29 percent on 2015, which was itself at record levels, according to AgriHQ. Weaner sales generally finish early May.

Farmers who shed stock ahead of summer last year on concern about the impact of a dry El Nino weather pattern were now seeking to restock as rain in many areas through January stimulated pasture growth. Meanwhile, farmers who had previously provided grazing support to the dairy industry are now looking for other sources of income such as fattening weaners as dairy farmers look to rein on costs. . . 

Fonterra and foresight – Robert Hickson:

I can’t help thinking whether Fonterra, and NZ’s dairy industry, would be in a better position now if they’d devoted some (more) resources to strategic foresight. They may have, but it isn’t evident so far.

What is “strategic foresight”, and what, if anything, is it good for?

Strategic foresight, which is being used increasingly now in the private sector rather than simply “futures”, is about linking foresight activities (scanning for trends and weak signals, scenarios, visioning exercises, etc) with strategy formulation and execution.

Strategic foresight needs to ask and answer the “So what?” questions, and identify actions to address anticipated challenges and opportunities. The organisation then deliberatively chooses to undertake them, or not. . . 

Marlborough wine industry needs more workers to sustain rapid growth – Oliver Lewis:

More labour and accommodation is needed to service the Marlborough wine industry, which is predicted to grow by a quarter over the next five years, a new report shows.

The Marlborough Labour Market Survey, released on Monday, was organised by Wine Marlborough, in collaboration with New Zealand Winegrowers, the Marlborough District Council and Seasonal Solutions Co-operative Limited.

The purpose of the report, the first of its kind, is to get a comprehensive picture of the wine industry and its plans moving forward, to be able to plan for future labour requirements. . . 

Applications open for leading farm business management program:

Applications are open for the 2016 Rabobank Executive Development Program, tailored for progressive farmers to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Now in its 18th year, more than 500 New Zealand and Australian farmers have graduated from the intensive two-week program, which covers all aspects of business management including strategic goal setting, negotiation, risk management, leadership and technology.

Announcing the opening of applications, Rabobank general manager Country Banking New Zealand Hayley Moynihan said “interest in the program was perhaps stronger than ever, even taking into account the current downturn in the dairy industry”. . . .

NZ’s most tender and tasty lamb named at the Glammies:

The Gardyne family’s Perendale from Central Otago has been named the most tender and tasty lamb in New Zealand at the Glammies – the Beef + Lamb NZ Golden Lamb Awards – over the weekend.

The competition received a total of 173 entries which were subject to stringent scientific testing at Carne Technologies.

Following this process, the top 20 finalists were then tasted at the Grand Final judging at the Wanaka show. . . 

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers have a fun day to help keep blues away – Jill Galloway:

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers kept the blues away by attending a stress-free Rural Family After Five event.

About 200 people attended the evening event at the Te Kawau Memorial Recreation Centre this week at Rongota.

Parents talked and enjoyed a steak and sausage sandwich, while children slid on a water slide in an old fashioned get together with tug-of-war, touch rugby and a bouncy castle.

“When the kids are happy the parents can cope,” said a rural woman. . . 

 EPA Fines Wyoming Man $16 Million for Building a Pond on His Property – S. Noble:

Farmers and ranchers call the EPA’s new water rule the biggest land grab in the history of the world. It is a massive land grab, especially in a country that has been built on the right to own property. The administration is changing all that.

A new oppressive water rule gives the EPA jurisdiction over all public and private streams in the United States that are “intermittent, seasonal and rain-dependent.” It will regulate what are normal daily ranching and farming practices and take control of their land.

According to congressional budget testimony, waters of the United States would give the EPA authority over streams on private property even when the water beds have been dry, in some cases, for hundreds of years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2016

Alliance moves to deepen cooperative culture as Silver Fern sells stake – Tina Morrison:

Alliance Group, New Zealand’s second-largest meat processor, plans to entrench its cooperative status, encouraging farmers to ‘share up’ at a time larger rival Silver Fern Farms is watering down its cooperative by tapping a Chinese investor for capital to repay debt, upgrade plants and invest for growth.

Farmer groups failed last year to force a mega-merger on the country’s two large South Island-based meat cooperatives. Both changed chief executives last financial year and Dunedin-based Silver Fern is now awaiting regulatory approval for the $261 million sale of half its business to Shanghai Maling Aquarius, while Invercargill-based Alliance is moving its business model further towards a cooperative system. . . 

Milking sheep has potential to earn billions of dollars for NZ –  Jill Galloway:

Isobel Lees did a veterinary degree at Massey University and is now in Grenoble, France, doing a post graduate study in sheep milking.

She says her research investigating if New Zealand can establish an internationally competitive sheep dairy industry might shed light about how farmers might set up the industry.

“This research focused on the lessons learnt from France, a world leader in sheep dairy.”

Her studies indicate there is vast potential for New Zealand to establish a sheep dairy industry and for it to be a billion dollar contributor to the economy.

“New Zealand has a competitive advantage and superior performance. It has pasture-based agricultural production systems, leading innovations from the dedicated agricultural research community and market leading standards for sustainability, animal welfare and food safety.” . . .

Turangi Maori land trust brings in Chinese partners for sheep milk expansion – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Waituhi Kuratau Trust, the Turangi-based Maori land trust, has teamed up with Chinese interests to develop its sheep-milking interests as part of a plan to sell into the world’s most-populous nation.

The trust sold a leasehold interest in 490 hectares of land in Kuratau to Maui Milk for $1.2 million, which has been slated for development into a sheep dairy farm, according to the Overseas Investment Office summary approving the transaction. The trust owns 40 percent of Maui Milk, with the remainder held by four Chinese nationals. . . 

Govt happy with farm conditions monitoring:

The Government is ruling out an an inquiry into the pay and conditions of farm workers in New Zealand, saying standards are already in place.

Former Council of Trade Unions head Helen Kelly made the call, saying many farm workers were working up to 70 hours a week for low pay, and that was leading to high staff turnover. 

She said fatigue was a major cause of workplace accidents, and an official inquiry was needed to introduce regulations.

But Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said the Labour Inspectorate already monitored non-compliance with minimum employment standards in the dairy sector. . . 

Right attitude key to $70k jobs – Tamsyn Parker:

A farm worker with the right attitude could take fewer than five years to get to a $70k-plus salary, says an industry leader.

Andrew Hoggard, a farmer who is on the board of farming body Federated Farmers, said Seek data showing a 14 per cent rise in the average salary for the sector was probably a little high as it was based only on jobs advertised through that business. . . 

Federated Farmers mourns the loss of life member Gordon Stephenson:

Federated Farmers expresses their deepest sympathies to the family of farmer and environmentalist Gordon Stephenson who died on Boxing Day.

A stalwart of Federated Farmers, Mr. Stephenson served as national chairman of the dairy section from 1973 to 1977 and instigated the Farm Environment Awards in 1991.

“Gordon was instrumental in the formation of QEII National Trust and the legacy he’s left behind can be seen all around the country in the land and native forests now voluntarily protected by farmers through the Trust,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . 

Farm Environment Awards Founder Leaves Lasting Legacy:

The passing of Farm Environment Awards founder Gordon Stephenson is a huge loss for New Zealand agriculture, Simon Saunders, chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET), says.

“Gordon was a farsighted and inspirational leader. As a passionate advocate for conservation he was steadfast in his belief that good farming and good environmental management go hand in hand. This message is still very much at the heart of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) today.”

Mr Saunders says the establishment of NZFET and the success of the BFEA programme are legacies of Gordon Stephenson’s drive and vision. . . 

Federated Farmers grieves loss of former Chief Executive:

Federated Farmers is saddened by the death of former Chief Executive Tony St Clair.

Mr. St Clair served as Chief Executive between 1997 and 2005 following several years as Executive Director of the Victorian Farmers Federation.

“Tony was an inspirational and passionate advocate for agriculture and farming and he had an intimate and detailed knowledge and understanding of Federated Farmers,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . .

 

Fonterra Announces Record Export Volumes in December:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has exported record volumes for the month of December 2015.

Export data for the Co-operative in December confirms the new record for a single month’s volume, with more than 300,000 MT shipped to its global markets.

December’s volume was approximately 10 per cent higher than Fonterra’s previous record month in December 2014. . . 

NZ honey exports double in November on manuka demand – Tina Morrison::

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand honey exports doubled in November as the country benefited from demand for high-value manuka honey.

The value of honey exports jumped to $27.4 million in November from $13.6 million the same month a year earlier, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand data. That helped boost the annual value of honey exports in the 12 months through November by 45 percent to $281 million, the figures showed.

New Zealand is the world’s third-largest exporter of honey by value, behind China and Argentina. However it is only the 16th biggest global supplier on a volume basis, reflecting the premium price garnered for manuka honey, which accounts for as much as 80 percent of New Zealand exports and is prized for its health benefits. . .

Final report into killer swedes released:

The group investigating the fatal poisoning of hundreds of animals by swedes in Southland has issued one last warning to farmers not to feed herbicide tolerant swedes to cows in the spring.

The Southland Swedes working group today released its final report into the incident which left hundreds – if not thousands – of sheep and cows dead across the region.

In 2014 farmers across Southland reported sick, dead and dying livestock – after they’d been fed on swedes – mostly a new herbicide tolerant variety developed and sold by PGG Wrightson Seeds.

Farmers were subsequently warned by industry experts not to feed the HT Swede variety to cows when they were heavily pregnant or with calves – because the chemically mutated HT swedes were producing unnaturally high levels of glucosinolates that are toxic to livestock. . . 

 Recreational fishing parks proposed in Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds as part of Marine Protected Area reform:

The Government has today launched a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

“We are proposing a new system of marine protection that will include marine reserves, species-specific sanctuaries, seabed reserves, and recreational fishing parks. This more sophisticated approach with four different types of marine protection is similar to the graduated approach we take to reserves on land that vary from strict nature reserves to those for a specific or recreational purpose,” says Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“We want to improve community and iwi involvement in marine protection and develop a comprehensive network of areas that better protects marine life and which enhances New Zealanders’ enjoyment of our marine environment.” . . 

Seafood industry supports sustainable fisheries:

The seafood sector supports effective marine conservation, its Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said today.

He was commenting on today’s release of a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

The proposals would cut commercial fishing in the proposed areas. . . 

Easing NZ Dollar Helps Lift Local Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the first sale after the Christmas break of approximately 13,700 bales from the North Island saw a generally firmer market in local terms with 98.5 percent selling.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.3 percent compared to the last sale on 17th December, however compared to the US dollar the New Zealand was back 1.9 percent. This weakening NZ dollar underpinned the market for most types. . . 

Grow Food, Not Lawns's photo.


Rural round-up

November 4, 2015

Animal welfare taken seriously by SPCA and MPI – Jill Galloway:

The needs of animals have to be met by lifestylers and farmers, but prosecution is a last resort for authorities dealing with animal welfare, writes Jill Galloway.

No one sets out not to care about the animals they look after, but sometimes other things such as finances or a messy marriage break-up take precedence and the animals slip down the priority list.

“Something else is often going on in someone’s life and they can’t put the animals’ needs on top of the list.  Sometimes someone is just too old and not coping anymore with being in a remote place,” says Jim Flack from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). . . 

New Plants Bring Added Value at Peak:

New processing plants around the country have helped Fonterra process more than 86.9 million litres of milk on the Co-operative’s biggest day of the year.

The peak of Fonterra’s milking season was reached on October 22nd this year, with five new plants each contributing to a performance that has seen a record amount of peak milk made into value-added products.

Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway says the additional capacity has given the Co-operative more options in its product mix. . . .

Kiwi Tractors – a Humble National Icon – Beattie’s Book Blog:

Kiwi Tractors: A Humble National Icon

by Steve Hale

Bateman – Hardcover – RRP $39.99

From lifestyle blocks to vineyards, high country stations to boat ramps, the humble tractor is a much-loved and instantly recognisable feature on any New Zealand landscape. The tractor is a part of our national identity, as Kiwi as pavlova, Marmite, and a silver fern on the sacred black jersey.

In Kiwi Tractors, Steve Hale elicits some delightful stories of affection from Kiwi owners for their tractors.

During his research for Kiwi Tractors Steve found himself continually taken aback by the depth of knowledge possessed by various tractor owners, their zest for restoration and passion for collecting. . . 

Allied Farmers wants to buy back stake in NZ Farmers Livestock – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers wants to buy back a stake in NZ Farmers Livestock that it sold down last year to pay debts.

The Stratford-based company said subsidiary Allied Farmers Rural agreed to buy a 9.3 percent stake, or 950 shares, in NZ Farmers Livestock from Stockmans Holdings through the issue of $1 million of new shares. It currently owns 57 percent of NZ Farmers Livestock, while Stockmans owns 27 percent, according to Companies Office records.

Last year, Allied sold 1,026 shares in NZ Farmers Livestock for $1 million to Stockmans and Agent Co to enable it to help repay $2 million owed to Crown Asset Management following the failure of its Allied Nationwide Finance unit. . . .

Sir Brian Elwood awarded Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal for 2015:

Last night Sir Brian Elwood was awarded the 2015 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal in recognition of the leadership he has displayed as chairman of industry regulator Kiwifruit New Zealand (KNZ) over the past 10 years. The award was presented at an industry dinner in Mount Maunganui which followed Zespri’s inaugural Kiwifruit Innovation Symposium.

Paul Jones is chairman of the Kiwifruit Industry Advisory Committee, Zespri director and chairman of the Hayward Medal judging panel, and he explains that Sir Brian’s legacy is the way in which the Kiwifruit Regulations have been administered to the overall benefit of NZ growers and suppliers.

“Sir Brian has a very fine legal mind. The Kiwifruit Regulations call on KNZ to exercise extensive judgement and discretion in their administration and Sir Brian’s thorough, meticulous analysis and vast experience has served the industry well,” says Mr Jones. . . 

MPI reminds consumers to take care when drinking raw milk:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is reminding consumers to take care when drinking raw unpasteurised milk, which is considered a high-risk food.

“We have seen a number of recent cases of foodborne illnesses linked to raw milk and it’s important that consumers remember and understand that there are risks with drinking raw milk,” says MPI Director Animal & Animal Products.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurised (heat treated) to kill harmful bacteria like Campylobacter and Salmonella that are potentially present in the milk.

“Many people who drink raw milk do not always fully understand the risks and don’t realise that there is the possibility of getting sick from the harmful bacteria in the milk.” . . .

Fonterra Farm Source Delivers Millions in Value:

Fonterra Farm Source has delivered millions in value to more than 9,000 Fonterra farmers since it was launched in Methven a year ago.

Director Farm Source Stores Jason Minkhorst said farmers have already earned 5.7 million in Reward Dollars through Fonterra Farm Source, which is on track to deliver $14 million in discounts on key products by the end of this year.

“Fonterra Farm Source was created to make the most of the unity and strength of our Co-operative and provide a whole new level of support for our farmers. We’ve combined services, expertise, rewards, digital technology and financial options together with local Farm Source hubs to support the major dairying regions throughout the country,” Mr Minkhorst said. . . 

Kiwi arboricultural champions recognised

The recent 2015 Asplundh New Zealand Arboricultural Association (NZ Arb) conference and Husqvarna National Tree Climbing Championships in Nelson saw national champions announced and industry stalwarts celebrated.

The competition saw events testing competitors’ ability to professionally and safely manoeuvre in a tree, while performing work-related tree-care tasks efficiently. The final event Masters’ Climb then saw the National Champions crowned – women’s national champion Stef White (Central Otago) and men’s national champion Dale Thomas (Auckland). . . .

Multiple factors influence the economics of growing maize silage on-farm:

Maize silage grown on-farm is at its cheapest per kilo of dry matter in low pay-out years, reveals Ravensdown Agri Manager Bryce Fausett in a paper he is presenting to the New Zealand Grassland Association Conference today.

The paper titled ‘The true cost of maize silage’ is co-authored by J.S Rowarth and F.G Scrimgeour, and challenges assumptions that growing maize silage on-farm is the more economic choice. It details the multiple factors that influence the true cost of growing maize. . . .

Wattie’s (R) and Palmers join forces in the search for New Zealand’s ultimate SuperRed tomato grower!:

Legendary food brand Wattie’s – who have been supplying Kiwis canned tomatoes since 1936 – and gardening great Palmers have come together to lend their muscle to the inaugural Wattie’s & Palmers SuperRed Tomato Growing Competition 2015.

What makes this competition extra special is that for the first time, the Wattie’s tomato seed used to grow their iconic canned tomatoes is available for purchase by the public. Wattie’s field tomatoes, aka Wattie’s ‘SuperRed’ seedlings, are unique to traditional ‘beefsteak’ tomatoes. They grow as a bush and not a vine, with firm, flavour packed fruit that are more elongated than round. The fruit is relatively high in natural sugars and lycopene, and the fruit on the bush ripen around the same time making them perfect for Wattie’s Canned Tomatoes. Now they can be grown at home to enjoy fresh and for a season of homemade chutneys and relishes. . . 

Woman made her favourite cow bridesmaid at her wedding:

Like most brides, Caroline Conley Buckingham wanted to be surrounded by her loved ones when she walked down the aisle on her big day.

Buckingham says her wedding wouldn’t have been complete without one honorary bridesmaid — her favorite cow. And, no, that’s not a fat joke.

The Jonesboro, Tenn. native has a self-proclaimed “cow obsession” and she couldn’t have imagined saying, “I do,” this June without her favorite cow, Roxie, by her side. Buckingham loved her cows long before her husband, Ethan, came into the picture. . .


Rural round-up

September 14, 2015

Federated Farmers welcome court ruling on genetic modified crop:

A Western Australian Court of Appeal ruling on genetically modified (GM) crop liability has been welcomed by Federated Farmers as a landmark decision which clearly sets out fundamental responsibilities of good neighbours that apply equally well in New Zealand and around the farming world.

In 2014, organic farmer Steve Marsh sued his neighbour, GM farmer Michael Baxter, for damages after sheaves of GM canola blew onto his property, resulting in his partial decertification as an organic farmer. Mr Marsh also sought a permanent injunction preventing his neighbour from growing GM crops.

At the time the case went to court, anti-GM groups, confident of a win, hailed it as potentially precedent setting. . . 

25 pieces of advice for 25 year-old farmers – Matthew Naylor:

I have been a farmer in my own right for a quarter of a century.

I know that I look unfeasibly young to make such a claim; I started work at 15 and pretty well managed to avoid higher education.

Twenty-five more years of toil and I will be looking at the age of retirement from the other side.

To commemorate this halfway milestone, I have compiled the little that I have learned over my 25 years of experience into 25 pieces of advice for 25-year-old farmers.

  1. Set a clear and simple business plan and stick to it. Tell it to anyone who will listen – your family, colleagues, customers, competitors and even the postman.
  1. Kill weeds when they are small – this rule applies to any problem you encounter in life. . . 

Street doctor tells rural people to watch their health – Jill Galloway:

A doctor who specialises in treating people in rural regions says farmers need to get their own health checked more often.

Dr Tom Mulholland talked to about 50 people at the old Parewanui school near Flock House, Bulls this week.

“Farmers are good at looking after their stock and their land, but not so good at looking after themselves and their top paddock [their heads].”

About half the group listening to him talk were men. . . 

NZ stands firm on lamb export deal:

New Zealand will not agree to a review of New Zealand’s quota of lamb exports to Europe despite pressure from British farmers, the government says.

Livestock board chairs from Britain’s farming unions, meeting in Brussels, have called for the review. They say New Zealand has moved from sending frozen lamb to chilled lamb and from carcasses to bone-in cuts, representing a substantive change to the original deal signed in the 1980s.

But Trade Minister Tim Groser points to later trade negotiations which changed that agreement. . .

Avocado congress should ‘raise industry profile‘:

The World Avocado Congress get underway in Peru today.

The congress is held every four years and New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular, who is in Peru, said it was a great opportunity to raise the profile of the industry.

Ms Scoular said the congress, which runs for a week, allows countries to share science and research information. She said tree productivity and irregular bearing of avocados would be a hot topic because it was a global issue. . . 

Whitebait, birds receive conservation boost:

Whitebait will be making a comeback into Christchurch and more will be done to protect the habitats of Canterbury’s colony-nesting river birds, says Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner.

The Community Conservation Partnership Fund is providing more than $126,000 to the Whaka Inaka project to restore whitebait habitat in Christchurch, and more than $33,000 to the Braided River Partnership project to improve the success of colony-nesting birds along Canterbury rivers.

“Whitebait spawning in Christchurch has declined, particularly after the earthquakes caused significant habitat damage. The Whaka Inaka project will provide an immediate temporary spawning habitat for whitebait along 3km of Christchurch river banks,” Ms Wagner says. . . 

A falling dollar not all bad news – Rick Powdrell:

I was just thinking lately how things can change so abruptly in a year.

Farmers are once again facing tough realities of global export trade, price volatility and geopolitical unrest.

This time, last year, dairy was buoyant with record payout and nothing looking at halting the juggernaut.  Sheep meat prices were positive for the season; beef was in the ascendancy and wool finally rebounding.

Fast forward and dairy is struggling with sheep meat failing to deliver on anticipated returns. Still, beef is extremely strong and wool has continued its gradual recovery. . .


Rural round-up

February 18, 2015

No muddying water issues – Jill Galloway:

Tim Brown is a water quality specialist. Jill Galloway found he started his life as a bookie’s son in Britain, but as an academic he made Palmerston North his home.

Professor Emeritus Tim Brown, a water quality specialist and former Massey University micro-biologist, says a friend of his was on tank water.

“When he cleaned it out, he found a dead possum at the bottom of the tank that had been there for some time. The outlet was higher and he’s still alive.”

Brown says rural people have been living on tank water for years and have not come to any harm. . .

(Hat tip: Farmerbraun ).

Swaps settlements finalised, time to move on:

Federated Farmers is pleased the Commerce Commission has now reached settlements with all three banks, ANZ, ASB and Westpac, over the sale of interest rate swaps.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says the agreements are a fair and equitable solution and it’s time to move on.

“Some rural people signed on for interest rate swaps as long ago as 2005 and so for many customers it has been a long running issue that now can be brought to a conclusion, with the three banks involved set to pay a total sum of $24.67 million to approximately 256 eligible farmers,” Dr Rolleston says. . .

State of the environment on farm – James Stewart:

While brought up on a sheep farm I have spent the past 20 years dairy farming.

I have also had a brief stint as a registered commercial jet boat operator, taking locals and international visitors through the Manawatu Gorge, giving them some close contact with our precious Manawatu water through the Hamilton jet spins.

After all the positive comments on water quality that I often receive you can imagine just how disappointed I was with the river being labelled as one of the worst in the west.

Over the past 20 years of farming, there have been many changes to the farming sector. The synthetic carpet now dominates carpet stores as the polar fleece jumpers do in clothing stores. While wool is the superior product, it is left to high top end markets in which exporters fight over with the result of farmers often becoming price takers. . .

More success for Primary Growth Partnership:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming more success stories from the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), with several programmes making big steps forward.

“Government and industry are together investing $720 over time million into 20 innovation programmes, and many of these are already delivering results,” says Mr Guy.

Mr Guy is speaking today at the annual open farm day at Limestone Downs, which is involved in the “Pioneering to Precision” PGP programme, led by Ravensdown.

“As part of this programme drones and light aircraft are being used to scan the hill country at Limestone Downs Station to develop precision fertiliser applications for hill country. This programme will deliver productivity and environmental benefits. . .

Global Consumer Watchdog gives Mount Cook Alpine Salmon Highest Rating:

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Ltd has been recognised as one of the most sustainable salmon farming operations worldwide by a globally-renowned consumer watchdog.
The Queenstown-based company said it was delighted to earn a Best Choice (Green) rating from the widely-acclaimed Seafood Watch organisation.

Company chairman and former New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger said the accolade was a huge endorsement for aquaculture in New Zealand.

“In keeping with Mt Cook Alpine Salmon’s previous sustainability credentials, this demonstrates we’re the best of the best,” he said. . .

Southern Discoveries celebrates Chinese Year of the Sheep… with mob of woolly stars:

Tourism operator Southern Discoveries will be celebrating the Chinese Year of the Sheep by welcoming visitors on its Mt Nicholas Farm Experience with a mob of 500 sheep.

Over the next three weeks, visitors can get up close to the 500-strong merino mob, the same woolly ‘stars’ of the ‘Running of the Wools’ as part of the Hilux Rural Games.

This time around, the sheep have agreed to stay (almost) still so that visitors can have their picture taken with them.

Also waiting to greet guests at Mt Nicholas will be two pet sheep and sheepdog Belle to accompany the group on their visit to the working merino farm. . .

 

 

 


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