Rural round-up

06/08/2021

Brainless idiots’: Mountain bikers criticised over cattle deaths – Marjorie Cook

Mountain bikers have been blasted as “brainless idiots” for causing the deaths of three pregnant cows after ignoring multiple signs and spooking them on a remote Lake Hawea station.

The accident happened last week on a notorious stretch of Dingleburn Station road while station farmers Nick Mead and Tim Lambeth were mustering a herd of 60 pregnant cows.

Nine cows plummeted off the remote Dingleburn Bluff.

Six were able to swim to safety, helped by people in boats. . . 

Compensation management concerns – Toni Williams:

Dairy farmer Laurence Rooney will likely be left with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of flood-damage on his Winchmore farm and it’s left a bad taste in his mouth.

He predicts the half-a-million-dollar flood clean-up from the May 31 flood will result in a $1m loss of income and no chance of compensation.

The government’s $4million fund pays up to 50% of non-insured damage but only on productive land.

It is not the weather Mr Rooney is frustrated with, it is paying a river rate to Environment Canterbury for river management that he, and a growing number of others, say is not happening. . . 

Innovative woollen plasters company Wool+Aid attracts big guns of Kiwi investors – Marta Steeman:

Lucas Smith’s brainchild, Wool+Aid, making biodegradable woollen plasters and bandages, has attracted the big guns of the local investment world like Sir Stephen Tindall and marketing guru Geoff Ross.

The startup launched five years ago by the then 21-year-old mountain guide has drawn $1.5 million in its first capital raising, valuing the company at about $7m.

Hailing from Tekapo, Smith wants to play his part in reducing the amount of plastic used and protect the environment, taking on the ubiquitous plastic-derived sticking plasters and bandages.

As a mountain guide he was frustrated there was nothing else on offer other than plastic bandages littering the great outdoors. . . 

Helius gains NZ’s first licence to manufacture cannabis medicines :

New Zealand’s largest licenced medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics, has been issued with the industry’s first GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) Licence to Manufacture Medicines by MedSafe. It allows the company to begin manufacturing locally made medicines for New Zealand patients.

“This is our most significant milestone yet at Helius. The GMP Licence means Helius can now move forward to manufacturing high-quality, affordable Kiwi-made medicinal cannabis products. New Zealand doctors will be able to confidently prescribe in the knowledge that Helius meets stringent quality standards,” says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Based in Auckland’s East Tamaki, Helius began the rigorous and complex journey for the GMP Licence as a start-up in 2018. Through an international recognition scheme, MedSafe’s latest approval also meets European standards, known as EU-GMP, opening future export possibilities for the 100% privately-owned Kiwi company. . . 

Feds heartened by QEII funding boost:

Federated Farmers is relieved to see the government put more money towards the Queen Elizabeth II Trust, to help landowner endeavours to protect and enhance areas of special native biodiversity on privately owned land.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allan has pledged $8 million to go to the Jobs for Nature programme. This should allow the QEII Trust to increase the number of sites protected by covenants by 264 during the next four years.

Federated Farmers board member and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says Feds has been asking for more help for the Trust for years, and the extra funding is very welcome.

More than 4600 unbreakable covenants have been established since 1977, covering 180,000 hectares of private land. . . 

Fighting fire with fire – Amanda Monthei, Zoeann Murphy , Lo Bénichou , Shikha Subramaniam and Dylan Moriarty :

It’s a clear, sunny spring morning in Seeley Lake, Mont., and 34 firefighters are gathering on a road east of town, drip torches in hand. They are here to set a fire, not stop one.

One of the primary defenses Western land managers have against large uncontrollable wildfires are small controlled fires like the one firefighters are setting this day, May 17.

The greater northwest Montana region has a long familiarity with wildfire, cultural fire and fire suppression. The landscape is peppered with fire lookouts, some staffed, some used for recreation, and all an evocation of a time before aircraft were widely available to spot new fire starts.

The terrain here is like much of Northwest Montana, defined by mountainsides rising steeply from a chain of glacial lakes before giving way to rugged ridgelines, all blanketed with brush and towering swaths of ponderosa pines, Douglas firs and western larches. . . 


Rural round-up

07/06/2021

‘More insulting than nothing’ – Govt cash not enough to fix single flood-struck station – Amber Allot:

Farmers in the Canterbury high country are dismissing as “woefully inadequate” a $500,000 fund from the government to restore their stations after they were hammered by rain.

Canterbury was battered by torrential rain on Saturday afternoon, with no reprieve until Monday evening. For some areas, up to half the usual annual rainfall fell in two days.

It has devastated much of the region, leaving huge swathes of land under water, animals dead and properties flooded, forcing many evacuations.

Rail and road infrastructure is also badly damaged, with repairs likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, while the region’s farmers face a huge clean-up bill. . . 

Rabbits not on Government’s radar – Jacqui Dean:

 Last year, $315 million dollars was directed to pest and weed control as part of the Government’s $1.2 billion Jobs for Nature programme. The fact that none of this money has gone towards targeting rabbits leaves me bewildered.

The recent images coming in from Australia of mice in their millions threatening homes and farms across New South Wales has been shocking to many New Zealanders.

But for people across large parts of the South Island, a plague of pests is their reality too, with rabbits running rampant across parts of North Otago, Central Otago and further afield.

Rabbits are an ecological disaster. . . 

Feds survey: Branch closures add to farmers’ bank concerns:

Concern about branch closures can be added to the continued slide in farmers’ satisfaction with their banks, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.

More than 1,100 farmers responded to the May survey and 71% of them said they were concerned about bank branch closures. Of those who were concerned, 42% said they needed branches to carry out their business and 56% were worried about the impact of closures on their local communities.

“Provincial towns are under all sorts of pressures, with workforce gaps, farms jobs disappearing as productive land is planted out in pines for carbon credits, competition from on-line sales trends that all traditional retailers face, to name some of the factors,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“Bank branch closures are just another hit on confidence, making doing business in rural areas that much harder, and another reason for young people to look to cities for their future when agriculture is the main way New Zealand earns its living in the world.” . . 

Farmers flock to see Wiltshire wool-less sheep benefits – Maja Burry:

It is hoped a multi-year study on a research farm near Masterton will give farmers a better understanding of the benefits and costs of shifting to a wool-less flock.

Massey University animal science professor Steve Morris said with the increased costs of shearing and ongoing poor returns for strong wool, many farmers were considering a transition to Wiltshire sheep, which naturally shed their fleece.

Morris said farmers were getting about $2-$2.50 a kilogram for crossbred wool and modelling showed prices needed to double for farmers to break even and cover the costs of shearing.

“We’re a long way off that and shearing costs are going up.” . . 

Plant & Food Research mentoring initiative wins HRNZ Award:

Our in-house mentoring initiative won the award for Learning and Development Capability at The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRNZ) national awards.

The initiative provides a formal system to create more value and impact from mentoring relationships among staff. Since a successful pilot of the programme in 2018, 70 mentoring relationships have been established

During the programme participants explore their career aspirations with their mentor and create a development plan. Included is a 2-day opening workshop, mentoring sessions throughout the year and a closing workshop. . . 

Biocontrol gene tech set to shred mice population – Samantha Townsend:

A technique that exploits the natural mating process in mice, which has previously been proven in insects is being explored to help reduce populations.

The technology aims to pass on an increased proportion of males genes to reduce the number of females to keep populations at manageable levels.

“The new technology we are trying to develop in mice is the same that we’ve had some success in this area for insects for malaria control,” lead researcher Professor Paul Thomas from the University of Adelaide said.

“The idea is that we using the natural mating process of mice to spread genetic traits through the population.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/09/2020

Fonterra back in the black :

Fonterra has posted a $659 million profit and will pay farmers $7.19/kg milksolids for the 2019-20 season.

It has held the forecast for the 2020-21 season at $5.90-6.90/kg MS.

The dividend for the 2019-20 season is 5c a share.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019-20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and a strong milk price.

“We increased our profit after tax by more than $1 billion, reduced our debt by more than $1 billion and this has put us in a position to start paying dividends again,” he says. . . 

Farmers and growers call for help with labour shortages – Katie Todd:

Farmers and growers say if agriculture is going to drag the country’s economy back into shape, they will need help to fix labour shortages.

While urban centres went into a strict lockdown in April and May – contributing to a 12.2 percent tumble in gross domestic product – agriculture, forestry and fishing saw only a marginal drop of 2.2 percent.

The pandemic has done little to disrupt business on Damien Roper’s south Taranaki farm, home to 420 dairy cows.

He said even in the throes of the level four lockdown, his classification as an essential worker made it almost business as usual. . . 

Urgent government intervention required for horticulture industry Finance Minister told :

Industry representatives met with Finance Minister, Grant Robertson in Hawke’s Bay earlier this week to discuss challenges facing the regional fruit and wine industry. The main item of discussion was around labour pressure for the coming grape, summerfruit and apple harvests – pressure that will see more than 10,000 seasonal workers needed.

Industry welcomed the Minister’s positive message that the government understood the issue facing these industries.

“With backpackers and Pacific seasonal workers down by 50,000, the industry is facing an incredibly difficult task across New Zealand this season,” says New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) chief executive Alan Pollard. . . 

‘Languishing’ Jobs for Nature process leave tourism operator fearful – Tess Brunton:

A South Island tourism operator says he could have prevented redundancies if wasn’t for delays to a nature-based job creation scheme.

More than $1 billion was earmarked for the Jobs for Nature programme in May as part of the government’s cross-agency Covid-19 recovery package to run over four years.

Today, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced an extra $19.7 million for kiwi conservation aimed at reversing the decline of the species.

While the funding has been welcomed, some applicants have been waiting months in limbo unsure if they will get a green light. . . 

Agricultural policy must incentivise innovation:

Agcarm calls on the government to introduce managed risk to legislation. Its chief executive Mark Ross says that the rural sector faces many, and often conflicting, demands. “Our farmers and growers are faced with the challenges of growing more food and fibre in reducing hectares of available space. They are also being asked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, keep up with international best practice, minimise residues and manage resistance.

“To support our farmers and growers to meet these challenges, we must allow them to have access to the latest technology and the most effective and sustainable animal medicines and pesticides to protect animals and crops from devasting losses,” he says.

In its election manifesto, Agcarm asks the new government to modernise the regulatory environment for new product approvals and base scientific decision-making on facts and evidence, not political popularity. . . 

Rural market poised for spring:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 121 more farm sales (+45.7%) for the three months ended August 2020 than for the three months ended August 2019. Overall, there were 386 farm sales in the three months ended August 2020, compared to 341 farm sales for the three months ended July 2020 (+13.2%), and 265 farm sales for the three months ended August 2019. 1,252 farms were sold in the year to August 2020, 7.2% fewer than were sold in the year to August 2019, with 22.9% less Dairy farms, 14.1% less Grazing farms, 15.3% less Finishing farms and 6.1% more Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2020 was $25,657 compared to $25,346 recorded for three months ended August 2019 (+1.2%). The median price per hectare increased 10.8% compared to July 2020. . . 


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