Rural round-up

March 31, 2014

Drought relief some way off – Mike Dinsdale:

Northland’s drought-stricken farmers can’t expect any rain relief over the next two weeks as an urgent call goes out for help with grazing and supplementary feed.

This week most of Northland’s west coast, from Cape Reinga to Pouto Pt, has been classified a localised drought area under government regulations for a small-scale adverse climatic event, covering an estimated 400 dairy farms and 700 sheep and beef units.

It’s the third drought in four years in the area and there’s little chance of any significant rain to end the drought for at least the next two weeks. . . .

 ‘Green’ dairy farming proves profitable – Tina Law:

Mark and Devon Slee are proving dairy farmers can remain profitable while adopting techniques to care for the environment.

The South Canterbury couple, who have 2640 cows on 1014 hectares at Ealing, south of Ashburton, won the supreme award at the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards, announced last week.

Mark Slee said it was great to win the award, and he and Devon were keen to highlight the good environmental practices they had adopted.

“There is a lot of concern about the expansion of dairying, and we just wanted to be out there saying ‘this is what we are doing with our property’.

“It’s worthy of mention,” Slee said. . .

Farmer’s win more significant after near death – Diane Bishop:

Four months after suffering a near-fatal cardiac arrest, Kaiwera farmer John Chittock is at the top of his game.

The 55-year-old won three of the four events at the Mossburn sheep dog trials this month – the short head and yard, the straight hunt and the zig-zag hunt with Blue, Pod and Angus, respectively.

Chittock said he had won two hunt events at a district competition before, but this was the first time he had won three events in almost 40 years of dog trialling.

“I took it with a grain of salt.

“It wasn’t until people started congratulating me that I thought it was pretty special,” he said. . .

Picking up the pace – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confirmation last week of a record milk payout forecast came with a commitment to stay on course, but pick up the pace.

The forecast cash payout of $8.75 a kilogram of milksolids is 42% more than last season and the first-half revenue of $11.3 billion was up 21%.

Full-year milk production in New Zealand is expected to grow 7% and that means farms will receive nearly $14b this year, at least half of which will be spent in the regions.

However, normalised earnings and net profit in the first half of the financial year were only half those of the previous corresponding period because high commodity prices have slashed margins on value-added products. . . .

Powell wins Shepherd of the Year competition:

The 2014 Shepherd of the Year was awarded to Jason Powell on March 27 after a successful tour of the farm he works on, while answering questions from the two judges Shayne Rankin and George Tatham about his role.

He won $4500 in cash and prizes and the two merit placegetters, Jakeb Herron and Cameron Dallas, both won a Lister handpiece.

The inaugural competition was part of the Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year competition.

The Farm Business of the Year winners were Don McCreary and Anna Johnston and a field day was held on their farm in Hinakura in the Martinborough area.

Of the seven finalists in the Taratahi Shepherd of the Year competition, three were ex-Taratahi students, including Powell.  . .


Rural round-up

November 8, 2013

‘Farmers understand need to improve water quality’:

PRIMARY INDUSTRIES Minister Nathan Guy believes most farmers are environmentalists and understand the need to improve our water quality.

Speaking at the launch of freshwater proposals yesterday, he said farmers want to leave the environment in a better state than they found they found it.

“Farmers recognise the importance of our freshwater resource and understand there will be costs; and they have shown they want to work constructively,” he says. . .

China helps lifts co-op’s returns:

Meat co-op Alliance Group has reported a net profit before restructuring costs and tax of $10.9 million for the year ending 30 September 2013. The co-op’s turnover for the year topped $1.4 billion

After providing for restructuring costs of $2.5 million and tax of $2.8 million, the company recorded a net profit after tax of $5.6 million.

The company’s balance sheet is also strengthening with an equity ratio of 61% and an operating cash flow surplus of $89 million.

In announcing the result, Alliance Group chairman, Murray Taggart, said the return to profitability was a positive result, albeit at an unsatisfactory level, and follows a year with widespread drought conditions and lingering economic weakness in key export markets. . .

Wild pigs a potential TB risk in Waikato:

Reports of wild pigs being illegally released and the risky disposal of their remains has prompted a Waikato farmer to speak out about the bovine tuberculosis (TB) threat it potentially poses to domestic cattle and deer.

Pigs can carry TB and spread the disease when infected carcasses are scavenged by wild animals, mainly possums and ferrets. Bovine TB-infected possums are responsible for the majority of new herd infections in TB risk areas.

Local farmer and Waikato TBfree Committee Chairman John Bubb expressed concern over the reported practices on behalf of herdowners in the region.

“People need to consider the possible consequences of dumping wild pig remains that could be infected with TB,” said Mr Bubb. . .

Public perception vital in a crisis – Hugh Stringleman:

Rescuing Fonterra’s reputation after its botulism scare is problematic, crisis communications researcher and adviser Professor William Hallman says.

“The first thing they taught me as a psychologist is that perception is reality,” Hallman said.

“The fact that it was a false alarm is important, but reputation isn’t entirely based on facts.”

Hallman is head of the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers, the New Jersey state university.

He was contracted to provide information to the Fonterra independent inquiry into the whey protein concentrate recall on best practise in crisis communications, his principal area of expertise. . .

Southern land producing quality wool – Alan Williams:

Good, clean Southland pasture through spring and early summer helps Jeff Farm produce lambs’ wool to the standard required by United Kingdom fabric manufacturer Camira.

“We put the wool in from 10,000-12,000 lambs and most of it gets accepted,” farm manager John Chittock said.

The wool has to have 0% vegetable matter (VM) and be pesticide-free to meet Camira’s exacting standards under the Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) contract.

“At this time of year we don’t have any problem with the VM. The country here is pretty clean and we don’t have to do anything special with them,” Chittock said.

Mixed response to buffer zone compromise – Richard Rennie:

Western Bay of Plenty landowners have gained a compromise on proposed buffer zones sought by Transpower around electricity lines on their land.

The State-owned enterprise had wanted zones on existing lines inluded in a district plan change, which put it offside with horticulturalists, farmers, and even Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

The dispute was destined to be heard in the Environment Court after Transpower appealed the council decision to follow the recommendation of a commissioner, which was to note the buffer areas in planning documents.

Federated Farmers has arrived at a compromise on the changes being sought by Transpower, with the proposed buffer zones significantly reduced. . .

Great Start for 2014 Dairy Awards:

Nearly 100 people have entered the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards since entries opened a week ago, up 10 on the same time last year.

“The signs are promising that the 2014 awards are going to be a boomer,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“What is really satisfying is the number of people who are entering for a second or successive time. We work really hard to make sure all entrants – not just the winners – gain real value and benefits from their experience and so it is heartening to see that about half the entries so far are from those that have entered in the past.” . . .

#gigatownoamaru has had a great start too.

 


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