Rural round-up

November 19, 2017

Further 1000 Mycoplasma Bovis cattle to be culled in South Canterbury – Ryan Dunlop:

A further 1000 cattle will be culled in South Canterbury due to the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis.

According to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), that will bring the total cull number up to 5000.

Meanwhile several people have applied to the ministry for compensation for loss of livestock and productivity. 

On Wednesday, MPI confirmed another farm in South Canterbury was infected with the disease, bringing the total infected properties to eight. . . 

Safe’s distortion of harmless farming practice – Jon Morgan:

 Take a look at this video supplied by the animal rights group, Safe. It shows a cow running behind a car towing a trailer holding three calves.

Safe sent the video to TVNZ and it has been picked up by other news organisations and run by them without any attempt to find out what is actually happening.

Safe alleges that this is a “distressed” cow “chasing” after her calves, showing a strong bond between them.

However, the overwhelming opinion of dairy farmers who have seen the video is that nothing of the kind is happening. . . 

Wool sale best in a long time – Alan Williams:

Prices gained ground across the board at Thursday’s special live wool auction at the Christchurch A&P Show.

“Best sale in a long time,” PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager and auctioneer Dave Burridge said.

He estimated nearly $6 million of wool was sold at the sale, the second auction staged at the show.

First-up at the sale was the New Zealand Merino co offering and auctioneer Mike Hargadon later noted a little more enthusiasm on the buyer bench than at the usual market venue, in what was a very firm market for its fine wools. . . 

Shearing: Tony Coster wins national title at Canterbury Show:

Former New Zealand representative shearer and multiple national all-breeds champion Tony Coster reckoned he only shore in yesterday’s New Zealand Corriedale Championship to get out of doing a job.

But trading the job he says he would have otherwise been doing produced unexpected results, for the now 50-year-old Rakaia veteran when he beat World champion John Kirkpatrick by over a minute in a six-man final over 12 sheep each and won the Canterbury Show feature for a third time.

“I’m on the committee, or at least I help run a few things,” he said. “If I hadn’t shorn I would have had a few jobs to do.” . . 

ACCC set to deliver “myth busting” analysis of $1/L milk selling – Colin Bettles:

MICK Keogh has delivered a comprehensive update of the competition watch-dog’s legal enforcement and oversight activities in different troublesome segments of agricultural supply chains.

Mr Keogh – a long term policy analyst and respected commentator at the Australian Farm Institute – is one of seven Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Commissioners and is spearheading its Agricultural Enforcement and Engagement Unit.

He spoke at an Agribusiness Australia forum in Canberra last week providing a frank assessment of current competition issues which carry economic and political consequences, for the farm sector,

That list includes an ongoing inquiry into the dairy supply chain that’s set to deliver a “myth busting” report in terms of dissolving common misconceptions about food retailers selling $1 per litre milk. . . 

 

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Rural round-up

June 27, 2017

Colostrum vital part of successful calf rearing system – Sally Rae:

When it comes to rearing calves, Nicola Neal knows the challenges involved.

Mrs Neal and her husband Grant are sharemilking on the lower Waitaki Plains in North Otago and she also works part-time as a vet.

Her particular interest in rearing young stock has led the mother of two to launch a new venture this year.

The Aspiring Calf Company offers an advisory service to farming clients for setting up and managing robust, fail-safe systems for rearing great calves.

It was while she was studying veterinary science at Massey University that Mrs Neal met her husband, who was working for an animal health company. . . 

Rural folk with MS sort for study – Alexia Johnston:

Medical researchers are turning their attention to the rural sector to benefit people who have multiple sclerosis.

People living in rural South Canterbury, Otago and Southland who have the auto-immune condition multiple sclerosis (MS) are needed for the University of Otago School of Physiotherapy study.

The 24-week study combines two interventions for people with MS living in rural areas – web-based physio and Blue Prescription. . . 

Jan Wright an emblem of our nation’s maturity – Jon Morgan:

Jan Wright will be a hard act to follow. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s term is up shortly and we will miss her.

She and her staff have produced a series of landmark reports on important issues over the past 10 years, rigorous reports firmly centred on science that have cleared up misunderstandings and set out clearly what is at stake.

Farmers have a lot to thank her for. In her reports she has exposed a lot of the lies and half-truths around arguments on clean rivers and how to manage water quality, the use of 1080, agriculture’s contribution to climate change and the Emissions Trading Scheme and high country tenure. . . 

Sale of Angus bull raises $4500 for rescue helicopter – Sally Brooker:

A North Otago Angus stud has raised $4500 for the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Fossil Creek, run by Neil and Rose Sanderson and Blair and Jane Smith, held its annual on-farm bull sale at Ngapara last week. One lot in its catalogue was sold to help the rescue chopper that has been a life-saver in the district several times in the past four years.

Thanks to strong bidding and awareness of the charitable cause, the bull sold for $4500 to the Cameron family of Wainui Station, on the northern side of the Waitaki River. . . 

Annual tackles food sustainability – Hugh Stringleman:

Massey University’s second Land and Food Annual asks Can New Zealand Feed the World Sustainably?

Its editor Professor Claire Massey and some contributors say we can’t, for a variety of reasons based on perceived lack of sustainability in farming practices, especially water quality.

However, by the end of the book there are enough wise words to re-address the proposition and answer yes instead of no. . . 

What Next? Futurists can take their cricket meat – I’m milking cows until I’m 130 – Lyn Webster:

I watched the ‘What Next’ TV programme with Nigel Latta, John Campbell and a team of ‘futurists’. They were making calls on how life in New Zealand will look in 2037.

I have never felt so happy that I will be dead or close to it by then.

They foresaw a world where jobs as we know them will be taken over by robots. We will all be whizzing around skyping each other from driverless cars and off to a ‘cricket’ (insect) restaurant to eat our daily protein.

Currently, I am driving around in a 1993 Honda Ascot which failed its warrant because of the horn. Now I can’t register it because it’s so old that getting the horn fixed has turned into a big drama. . . 

Planning, returns and looming stresses make feeding 9 billion people a challenge – Ryan O’Sullivan:

 I was fortunate to be part of a relatively small group of eight Nuffield scholars, of diverse farming backgrounds, who visited countries on the Brazil Global Focus Program (GFP).

Countries visited were well developed or mostly developed in terms of their economies and agricultural industries and included Brazil, Mexico, United States, Ireland, France and New Zealand.

One of the key benefits I believe the GFP offers is the context it gives of the global agri-food business and therefore the perspective around New Zealand as a producer and marketer.  As one large scale US milk producer put it “New Zealand is small and cute” – which is pretty hard to argue with.  . . 

It’s time to rethink debate around water quality and weed out the emotion – Alan Wills:

Anyone with an opinion or agenda about water quality has received plenty of media play of late.

We regularly hear about “dirty dairying”, “industrial dairy farming” and just the other day I heard someone on breakfast television talking about “rivers of milk.”

There are no rivers of milk.

Some of the debate is constructive but much of it is narrowly focused, emotional and politically driven. There seems to be no appreciation of the bigger picture. . . 


Rural round-up

March 9, 2017

The big deluge: Fresh weather warnings as slips affect Coromandel homes, close roads, power off:

Fresh dire weather warnings have been issued as slips force people out of Coromandel properties and roads remain closed across sodden parts of the North Island.

As water recedes and slips are cleared off roads from yesterday’s massive one-in-a-100-year deluge, Northland is being told to be on watch for potentially damaging thunderstorms to hit mainly south of Kaitaia as the region comes in for a period of torrential rain. . .

Lange, manager get access awards – Guy Williams:

The men responsible for opening up public access to high country land between Arrowtown and Glendhu Bay have been recognised by the Walking Access Commission.

Switzerland-based record producer Robert ”Mutt” Lange and his Arrowtown-based manager, Russell Hamilton, received Walking Access Champion awards at a ceremony at Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Hamilton, who accepted the famously publicity-shy Mr Lange’s award on his behalf, said it was ”very nice” to be recognised..

How I beat the black dog within myself –  Jon Morgan:

The latest person to come out and admit they have had problems with depression is a young Methven farmer, Sam Robinson.

Writing on NZ Farming’s Facebook page, he spoke movingly about how bleak it can be to feel so down that you want to kill yourself.

He acknowledged that it is difficult for those who have no experience of mental illness to recognise the signs and be supportive.

He had one suggestion for what they could do – just to say to their mate next time they are in a social situation something like, “I think you are a good sort and I bloody like you“. . .

Cattle lost in fire: it’s horrible out there, the things I saw – Michael Pearce:

Larry Konrade of Ashland likes hunting everything from doves to huge whitetail bucks.

But when he left his house Tuesday morning with a favored rifle, he was dreading the day. He felt even worse when it was over.

“It’s horrible, just horrible. I left the house with (60) shells and used them all,” Konrade said. He said he probably killed 40 cows, “and in a lot of places there weren’t even very many left alive to put down.” . .

Nuffield scholars identify challenges for NZ – Richard Rennie:

Last year’s Nuffield Scholars are uneasy at competing countries’ ability to match or outpace New Zealand agriculture.

In a summary of their experiences the unbalanced rhetoric around emerging technologies was also noted.

Wellington based government agricultural development manager Jessica Bensemann reported her concern over New Zealand agriculture’s level of disconnectedness from global trading trends and patterns after visiting Asia, United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Instead she warned New Zealand’s primary sector appeared to be transfixed within the farm gate. . .

Rugged rural fellas wanted:

The call has gone out for young, gallant rural gents to compete for this year’s New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays’ Rural Bachelor of the Year.

Eight finalists will be selected for the popular competition, which takes place during Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre from June 14-17.

The competition is in its seventh year and entries close at the end of March. . .


Rural round-up

January 5, 2017

From backwater to water ‘battleground’ – Sally Rae:

Farming in the Omarama area these days is very much like farming in the proverbial fish-bowl.

The spotlight is on both the Upper Waitaki and neighbouring Mackenzie district with changing land-use, water quality and environmental issues to the fore.

Twenty years ago, Omarama barely registered on the map; rather it was ”somewhere to drive through at high speed” to get to Wanaka or Queenstown, sheep and beef farmer Richard Subtil, from Omarama Station, said.

Bellamy’s organic infant formula derails in China – Keith Woodford:

For the last two years, Bellamy’s organic infant formula out of Australia has been one of the two rising stars of the Chinese infant formula market. The other has been ‘a2 Platinum’ produced here in New Zealand by Synlait for The a2 Milk Company (ATM).

In recent weeks, the Bellamy’s business has run badly off the tracks. This has sent jitters more widely through the infant formula industry.

First, there was a cautious market guidance release by Bellamy’s on 2 December, and the Bellamy’s share price immediately crashed 40%. Then on 12 December, Bellamy’s asked that its shares be suspended from trade for 48 hours while they assessed their position. This suspension has subsequently been renewed twice and currently runs through to 13 January 2017 while further assessment occurs. . .

Dairy turmoil shows folly of narrow focus;

Farming does not get the public attention is deserves these days, until this time of year when any road journey out of the cities reveals what a wealth of beauty and prosperity the countryside contains. Many farms somehow managed to look prosperous to the urban eye even when the main industry of most – dairying – was in the doldrums. But at least this summer, city holidaymakers on the roads can look at those verdant pastures and know that this, at last, is a happy new year for rural New Zealand too.

After two years of depressed dairy prices, the market began to turn in the middle of last year and for the past few months the price of milk powder has been back above break-even levels for most producers. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe the slump is over. The over-supply that caused it, largely from Europe, has been reduced or consumed and this season’s supply better matches demand.

The end of the world as we know it: What a vegan New Zealand would look like. – Jon Morgan:

Over Christmas lunch an earnest young niece asked, what did I have against vegans. I replied, nothing.

A couple of people I know profess to be vegans, migrating there from simple vegetarianism. They have to go to great lengths to ensure they have a balanced diet and I worry for their children, but otherwise they’re perfectly likable.

It’s the militant vegans I can’t stand, I told her. They’re the ones who have made veganism into a nefarious political movement, with the closure of all animal farms as their primary goal. . .

Rustlers take 1400 lambs in massive stock heist:

A Whanganui farmer has lost 1400 lambs to rustlers in what might be the largest stock heist in the country.

Police say they received a complaint about the theft from an owner of a property near Fordell.

More than 1400 lambs, worth about $120,000, reportedly went missing between October 25 and November 7, this year.

“That could be one of the biggest thefts involving sheep in the country,” Harry Matthews, president of Whanganui Federated Farmers, said. . . 

Texus Fibre eyes $2.9b face mask market in Asia :

A Kiwi company has secured a deal it hopes will unlock a lucrative $2.9 billion Asian healthcare market.

Texus Fibre uses natural wool to develop ‘functional materials’ – meaning they do something clever scientifically.

On Thursday it announced an investment and distribution deal with Auckland firm Healthy Breath Limited (HBL) for Texus’ wool-based air filter to be used in face masks marketed to city-dwellers in Asia. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 24, 2016

SPCA the voice of reason in farm animal welfare debate – Jon Morgan:

To many North Island farmers it must seem like yesterday that they were watching their animals struggle to deal with facial eczema. But now the warnings are here again.

With NIWA’s seasonal weather outlook signalling warm, wet conditions across the island, farmers will be doubly cautious. So far, there’s been an increase in demand – and prices – for rams that have been bred to be FE tolerant.

No farmer likes to see their stock suffer and no farmer likes to lose money, which is what facial eczema means. . . 

Avocado crops thrive under different systems – Anne Boswell:

The phrase ‘chalk and cheese’ has been bandied about when referring to Katikati avocado orchardists Barry Mathis and Bruce Polley.

It is true that the neighbours have a fair amount of differences in both their personalities and the way they grow their fruit, but it must be said that there is also a number of similarities at play. . .

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . .

Great white butterfly eradication success:

The invasive pest great white butterfly has been eradicated from New Zealand in a world-first achievement, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.

“This is the first eradication of an unwanted butterfly population in the world and is another impressive example of New Zealand’s innovation and skill in removing pests,” Ms Barry says.

Great white butterflies posed a major threat to native plant species and primary sector economy.

“They were first seen in Nelson in 2010 and the DOC-led joint agency eradication effort ran for three and a half years. It’s now been two years since any have been seen, and we’re confident we can declare them eradicated,” Mr Guy says.

Biosecurity 2025 direction statement launched :

The newly launched Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement will shape the long-term future of biosecurity in New Zealand, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The long term plan was launched today at the 2016 Biosecurity Forum in Auckland and follows widespread public consultation earlier this year.

“Biosecurity 2025 will guide New Zealand’s biosecurity system over the next decade. It provides a shared direction to ensure we can cope with increased challenges such as increasing trade, more complex markets and supply chains, and rising tourist numbers. . . 

Masterclass had lessons for all sectors:

Despite being the only winegrower in the Rabobank Master Class this year, New Zealander Duncan McFarlane says there’s been plenty to learn from the other sectors.
McFarlane, of the Indevin Group in Marlborough, says one issue that everyone is focused on is sustainability.

“We are very fortunate in the wine industry in New Zealand that the economy of the industry is in a strong phase with good growth prospects,” McFarlane told Rural News at the Rabobank Farm2Fork summit at Cockatoo Island in Sydney yesterday. . . 

Showing the boys how it’s done:

Helen Slattery is the rural contracting sector’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

A Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) board member and partner in the Matamata firm Slattery Contracting, Slattery has penetrated the ‘glass ceiling’ to be the industry’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

The qualification covers core management skills including scheduling infrastructure works project resources, health safety and environment, monitoring project quality assurance and documenting infrastructure works projects. . . .

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2016

Aussie townies put us to shame over support for dairy farmers – Jon Morgan:

A campaign in Australia to support hard-pressed dairy farmers by paying an extra dollar for milk has – surprise, surprise – been a roaring success.

Like us, the Aussie farmers are struggling with low prices. But for them, the perceived villain is closer to home.

Because the Australians have a large domestic market, sales of fresh milk to supermarkets are a big money-earner. But this is being undermined by competition between the two big chains, Woolworths and Coles.

They have used milk as a loss-leader and retail prices have plummeted to as low as $1 a litre. Dairy farmers have struggled because of this, and factors such as international prices and drought, and the call has gone out to city folk to help out. . . 

There are not two sides to the GMO story – Julia A. Moore:

Regarding the May 18 Politics & the Nation article “Are GMO crops safe? Focus on the plant, not the process, scientists say”:

Enough already! How many National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reports does it take to give the answer that after decades of research there is no conclusive evidence that genetically engineered crops pose heightened health risks or environmental problems?

Whether it is GMOs, climate change or evolution, two critical issues persist. First, how do you stop partisans from ignoring the weight of scientific evidence and cherry-picking or buying research findings that suit their prejudices or self-interest? And second, how do you build public trust in and regulate scientific and technological knowledge that is hitting us, to quote Isaac Asimov, “faster than society gathers wisdom”? . . 

You can’t buy the rain – Nick Hamilton:

You can’t buy the rain….

Thursday afternoon last week I was rung by a reporter asking if I had time to comment on the effect the drought was having. I got the feeling that she had absolutely no idea when I had to explain the term ‘grazing’ to her, but we pushed on. When she hung up the phone I thought to myself, at least the general public will know that we are still struggling with this bloody drought. Doesn’t help us much but it’s nice to know we are not being ignored.

On Friday morning I got a nice message on Facebook from my Aunty congratulating me on my article in the paper. Must have a look at that at some stage I thought as I leapt out of bed, helped Megan make the school lunches, let the dogs off for a quick run then headed off to work, not on the farm, down the road at Sherwood Estate wines. I was driving the tractor up and down the frosty rows of pruned vines when I got a text from a footy mate. “They’re talking about the drought on Newstalk ZB”. . . .

The story to which he refers is:

Two-year drought drives long-term farmer off his land – Leah Flynn and Gerard Hutching:

The farm has been in Nick Hamilton’s family for four generations, but today it sits barren and stockless.

Hamilton was born on North Canterbury’s Minnivey Downs, but abandoned it after two years of drought made the farm unsustainable. 

He took up work pruning grapes in Waipara to make ends meet.  . .

Recognition for passionate young sheep farmer – Sally Rae:

Ever since he was a young lad, Will Gibson’s passion for the farming sector has been remarkable.

Whether it was exhibiting his coloured merino sheep and fleeces at A&P shows, entering stock-judging competitions with considerable success, or embracing life at home on the farm, he displayed maturity beyond his years.

He was always destined to go places in the industry and, last week, that passion was recognised when he received the emerging talent award at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards in Masterton. . .

Yards ‘sold out from under us’ – Sally Rae:

Some Upper Clutha farmers are outraged by the sale of the Cromwell saleyards to a property developer, labelling the loss of the facility as a “disaster”.

Tarras farmer Beau Trevathan described the attitude of the Cromwell Saleyards Company’s directors as “bizarre”, saying they were elected to run the facility and ensure it was there for future generations.

“They’ve allowed it to be sold out from under us. As far as the farming community here is concerned, the majority of people are bewildered, to say the least. . . 

Breeding bulls for efficiency :

MILLAH Murrah Angus has taken part in the sire benchmarking program from the outset, with stud principal Ross Thompson a member of the program’s steering committee.

“The program has reached a state of useful maturity,” he said, noting that nominations were now being called for a seventh annual trial.

Mr Thompson said: “Traits such as feed conversion efficiency are very hard to measure without a structured progeny test and that’s one great positives of the sire benchmarking program. . .

Dorper value-adding idea leads Kings to LamHam – Sally Cripps:

It was a flourishing organic Dorper lamb grazing operation, combined with an online paddock to plate business that led Andrew and Maree King to a new lamb food marketing venture that is turning heads around Australia.

The couple were in Dubai in 2014, at the world’s largest food trade show, one of the prizes offered as MLA’s 2013 Queensland Sheepmeat Producer of the Year, when Maree had a “lightbulb” moment.

“We went over there with opportunities for our fresh Dorper lamb in mind but it all changed while we were eating at our hotel, where there were so many smoked offerings – turkey and fish and the like – standing in for bacon and pork. . . 


Rural round-up

October 19, 2015

Alliance Group makes pitch for ‘co-operatively minded’ farmers following SFF Chinese deal – Hamish McNeilly:

Confirmation of the Silver Fern Farms (SFF) deal with Chinese interests would not start a price war, Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor says.

The Alliance Group was now positioned as the country’s only major redmeat co-operative, after shareholders of rival SFF voted to sell a 50 per cent stake to Chinese food giant Shanghai Maling.

The vote was 82.2 per cent in favour of the deal, and Surveyor saw an opportunity for the Invercargill-based co-operative. . . 

NZ Farmer editor wins international award – Gerald Piddock:

NZ Farmer editor Jon Morgan has won the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Star Prize for writing at the organisation’s congress in Hamilton.

Morgan beat entries from 40 other member nations to win the award for his story on renowned South Wairarapa romney breeder Holmes Warren published in 2014.

He is the first New Zealander to win the award. . .

Launch of livestock trading platform:

A group of Hawke’s Bay entrepreneurs have launched StockX, an online rural trading platform for New Zealand farmers.

StockX say they will reduce wastage and inefficiencies in the current, outdated livestock trading system.

The platform says they allow farmers to buy and sell direct, operators to plan and optimise bookings and meat processors to source and buy direct from farmers. . . 

We don’t farm for free – and you don’t want us to!  – Uptown Girl:

When someone wants to discount my information on modern agriculture, they state that we are just “for profit farmers”.  People even protest farmers making a profit, with signs saying things like “people over profit”. 

Some people seem to be of the a mindset that those who are trying to make a living farming are in some sort of conspiracy with “Big Ag” that results in nearly all the evils of the world from starvation and obesity to autism and cancer. 

Last week, a visitor to my blog asked me to visit a website of a self proclaimed “sustainable farmer”.  He appeared to be taking full advantage of all the hot buzz words – he was verified organic, labor intense, small, local, natural, non-GMO, hormone free, antibiotic free, gluten free, Monsanto free – but he was not sustainable.   . . 

Farm-girl survival tips – Pink Tractor:

We know being a farm girl is the best, but it can also be a challenge. Whether you are new to farming or a lifelong farmer, it can be tough to juggle it all and be successful. There are times when you might feel like the only woman farmer in the world. But, you aren’t alone. Here are our best farm girl survival tips!

Find a seasoned farmer who can help you as a mentor. The farmers who know have tips, common farm sense and advice.

Accept that some years are better than others. Even if you do everything right, things will go wrong. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Farmers have to be optimistic and resilient. . .


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