Rural round-up

December 17, 2019

Ag-Proud founder says rural-urban goodwill already exists – Logan Savory:

Ag-Proud founder John Douglas says they have discovered there is more goodwill, when it comes to New Zealand’s rural and urban folk, than initially thought.

Douglas, along with three others in the Southland farming sector – Jon Pemberton, Jason Herrick, and Jason Checketts – setup Ag-Proud in August.

The point of the organisation was to try to develop some goodwill between those in the rural farming sector and those in the cities. . . 

Making change for the better – Deborah Rhodes:

Farmers are change adaptive, we can make change for the better. When we see a problem we fix it, when something is broken we rebuild it.

Heritage farmers have focused not just on change but improvements for the better, of knowing the challenges and taking them on.

When we see neighbours and locals in need, we wrap around them, when we need labour we provide them with on farm housing because that is what farmers do, and that is what we will keep doing. . .

Expert sees apple varieties blossom and fade over time:

John Wilton starts each day with an apple – and he knows which ones to choose.

John’s been a horticultural consultant for 57 years and was MAF’s national pipfruit and summer fruit specialist for 15 years.

Carol Stiles headed out to an orchard with John to hear about the state of the apple industry and the changes growers have seen.

When John started working on apple orchards in 1962, most of the trees had been planted before WW1. . . 

Gisborne forestry firm fined, council’s lack of action ‘irresponsible’:

A Gisborne forestry company has been fined $152,000 for contributing logging debris that caused millions of dollars of damage during two heavy rainfall events.

Juken New Zealand is one of 10 companies prosecuted by Gisborne District Council after tonnes of debris – known as slash – washed onto farms, roads and waterways in June last year.

In his sentencing notes, Judge Brian Dwyer said Gisborne District Council’s failure to monitor Juken is reprehensible and irresponsible, and it failed to meet its obligations by ensuring the company kept to its consent conditions. . . 

Manawatu strategy wins award :

The Manawatu Agritech Strategy, created by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) and Sprout, has won the Best Practice Award for Integrated Planning at Economic Development New Zealand’s annual Wellbeing and Prosperity Awards.

The award was presented at the Economic Development New Zealand delivering inclusive growth conference. Ten organisations were recognised for their outstanding contributions to the wellbeing and prosperity of their communities.

“Having the Manawatu Agritech Strategy recognised for integrated planning is a testament to the leadership, people and organisations in the region who were involved in its creation. This is a win for all of us,” CEDA chief executive Linda Stewart said. . . 

Animal feeding testing upgrade:

New Zealand feed manufacturers are lifting their game when it comes to quality and safety of their products.

New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) has introduced a new risk management programme that sees significant upgrades to the auditing and testing conducted by feed manufacturers.

The move comes as more imported non-grain ingredients arrive in the country. . . 

Top women wanted :

A celebration of women who make outstanding contributions to the dairy industry enters its ninth year as nominations for the 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year are now open.

The prestigious award, which celebrates the outstanding leadership of women in the business of dairy, was established in 2012 by the Dairy Women’s Network as a key strand in its support of women in their leadership journeys through providing inspiration, learning and education.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Jules Benton said she was inspired by the high calibre of last year’s finalists and is looking forward to see who will be nominated for the 2020 awards. . .


Caring more for cows than women

November 27, 2019

The government’s winter grazing taskforce has made 11 recommendations.

The report says some things should never happen, including animals giving birth on mud and avoidable deaths in adverse weather events.

Highlighted in the report is the fact that there is no agreed set of standards among farmers for good animal welfare practice, and what some consider good practice is still exposing animals to poor welfare.

But Dairy NZ strategy and investment leader Dr Jenny Jago said her organisation, Beef+Lamb NZ and Federated Farmers had talked with the taskforce about the objectives being more practical for outdoor pasture-based systems.

Some of the recommendations made under the premise of ‘always’ and ‘never’ to take place is unrealistic in our pasture-based system,” said Jago.

“The report states farmers should always provide animals with a soft dry surface to lie on, which in an outdoor system subject to weather conditions, is simply not achievable even with the very best management.  A ‘never’ standard would apply if there was a little bit of rain or a lot of rain, which makes it impractical.

“Many farmers follow good management practice which is particularly important in very wet weather or snow events where a ‘plan B’ ensures farmers keep stock off the crop for periods of inclement weather.”…

Good management should not be up for debate, the problem is marrying that with what’s practical.

Sorting that out will take time:

Southland dairy farmer Jon Pemberton co-founded the farmer advocacy group Ag-Proud this winter. The recent winter grazing campaign by environmentalists in his region and some of the stress it created among farmers sparked the group’s formation.

Mr Pemberton said there were some sensible expectations around farming practices outlined in the report, including making sure stock were slowly transitioned from grass onto crops, to ensure there were no health complications.

But he said he did have some concerns around the practicality of providing dry-bedding for livestock at night and worried about what any new regulations could mean when farmers faced adverse weather events.

“There will be a lot of guys scratching their heads thinking how are we going to work around this … so I just do hope we are allowed the time to work through this,” he said

While not questioning the need for some farmers to improve management, we can question government policy that requires higher standards for cows than women:

This refers to the closure of the Lumsden Maternity Centre which forces women to travel to Invercargill to deliver their babies.


Rural round-up

October 1, 2019

The climate change blame-game:

In spite of the abuse heaped on farmers by urbanites, the causes of climate change are a town and country problem.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern undersold New Zealand when she told the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York that we were “determined to show that we can be the most sustainable food producers in the world”.

By most key measures, and even counting food miles for our exports, we already are. But that message needs amplifying.

Never mind the world stage – farmers need defending at home against the current fashion for demonising them as the prime culprits for greenhouse-gas emissions and water pollution. . . 

Farmers’ inner-city BBQs aim to boost urban connections, mental health – Maja Burry:

A farming group is hosting barbecues in cities around the country to try to strengthen the relationship between rural and city people.

Ag Proud, a group formed by Southland farmers, aims to promote positive farm practices and raise awareness around mental health in the farming-sector.

Dairy farmer and Ag Proud co-founder, Jon Pemberton, said a recent winter grazing campaign by environmentalists in his region and some of the stress that had created among farmers sparked the group’s formation. . . 

Celebrity chef Al Brown pledges support for NZ farmers, takes swipe at ‘urban keyboard warriors’ – Angie Skerrett:

Celebrity chef Al Brown has taken a swipe at “urban keyboard warriors” he claims criticise farmers unnecessarily.

Brown posted a message on his Facebook page pledging his support for New Zealand farmers and calling on city-dwellers to stop bagging them.

“I just want to say thank you to our farmers of New Zealand,” the Depot owner wrote.  . .

‘M. bovis’ costs $203m to date – Brent Melville:

The costs of Mycoplasma bovis to the agricultural sector continue to stack up.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says the eradication programme has cost more than $203million to date – excluding compensation to farmers.

In that respect MPI has received a total of 1450 claims with a value of $109.9million and has so far completed 1100 of those, cutting cheques to farmers valued at about $96.5million.

According to the latest figures from MPI more than 116,526 cattle and cows have been culled in just over two years since the M. bovis eradication programme was launched.

That’s getting close to initial estimates that around 126,000 animals would be culled during the course of a multi-year surveillance and eradication strategy, or around 1% of New Zealand’s cattle population. . . 

New dehorning rules are here :

New rules will require pain relief when dehorning and disbudding cattle.

From tomorrow, new rules require people working with cattle to use local anaesthetic when dehorning and disbudding.

Veterinarian and director animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell says removing horns or horn buds is necessary on the farm to keep animals safe from each other, as well as for human safety.

“These regulations highlight that removal is painful and those carrying it out need to reduce the pain experienced. . . 

Wool price rebounds after dip :

After an extremely turbulent few weeks, fine-mid wool growers are breathing a sigh of relief that prices are on the mend.

The US-China trade war has been affecting demand, with factories in China feeling reluctant to buy wool to make garments they might struggle to sell.

PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager for wool Dave Burridge said at its peak three weeks ago mid-fine wool prices in New Zealand were down 50 percent compared to the same time last year, but they had now made a notable recovery, sitting about 25 percent back on 2018 levels. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 27, 2019

Has farming lost its ability to influence? – Lindy Nelson:

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Lindy Nelson questions if real is the new fake and fake is the new real when it comes to media coverage of agriculture.

I’ve been thinking about influence lately and how as a sector we seem to be losing the ability to do this effectively with our fellow New Zealanders.

As hard as we try to tell our good stories, others speak louder about all that is wrong with how we produce grass-fed, free-to-range food.

So it was fascinating to listen to Frederic Leroy at the Red Meat Sector Conference recently present “Red meat – facing the challengers in the post-truth area. What’s real, what’s not“. . .

Ag Proud engages urban folk – Neal Wallace:

Southland farmers have formed a group to engage with their urban neighbours on what happens on farms and why.

Ag Proud member Jon Pemberton says stress among farmers from a recent winter grazing media campaign by activists was the catalyst for its formation. It launched last week by hosting a free barbecue in Invercargill to engage with city people.

It does not have an agenda other than to celebrate the rural sector and to share that pride and information about what farmers do and why.

The movement also hopes to highlight the issue of mental health among those in rural NZ. . . 

Government must provide leadership– Allan Barber:

In contrast to its positive social agenda to improve the average person’s lot by lifting the minimum wage, increasing teachers’ pay rates and attempting to increase home ownership, this government seems to have gone missing in action with respect to the farming sector. Apart from Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor’s rather lonely efforts as a cheerleader for agriculture, other government ministers only pop their heads above the parapet when there’s some good environmental news or forestry initiative to crow about, or a new, and scientifically flawed, methane reduction target to ask farmers to meet. 

Agriculture contributes about 80% of merchandise exports and employs 15% of the workforce which underlines how critical the sector is to the New Zealand economy. Yet to observe the government’s attitude, one would think agriculture’s contribution to the economy was relatively insignificant or easy to replace. When it comes to addressing climate change and formulating the Carbon Zero strategy, agricultural production, at least red meat and dairy, appears to be an inconvenience which must be discouraged so New Zealand can meet a set of unachievable targets. These targets are being negotiated against a backdrop of dire predictions about the catastrophic effect of global temperature and sea level increase which the world’s economies should have addressed 50 years ago to avoid disaster. . .

Cavalier announces strategic collaboration with NZ Merino Company –  Rebecca Howard:

Cavalier Corp announced a “collaboration” with the New Zealand Merino company as it looks to cash in on a growing consumer trend toward natural fibres and away from synthetics.

Yesterday its shares tumbled after it said it will write-down or impair the value of goodwill and various plant and equipment by as much as $9 million and was in discussions “with a respected industry participant regarding a collaboration that will build on Cavalier’s capabilities and make a transformative change into a design-led, wool focused company.”

Today it identified that company as New Zealand Merino. Chief executive Paul Alston told BusinessDesk that NZ Merino wasn’t buying a stake in Cavalier but would supply them with wool and use their expertise to help market and promote the benefits of wool. . . 

Woolless lamb ‘one of the ugliest lambs I’ve ever seen’:

A Rotorua farmer reckons he is the proud owner of the ugliest lamb he has ever seen.

Javier Browne said the “really shy” newborn was now a family pet.

One of a set of triplets – the lamb is woolless, basically bald – and a genetic rarity.

“When I first saw her I was shocked, didn’t really know, like ‘is that actually a sheep or what’,” Mr Browne said.

5 ways UK farmers are tackling climate change – David Brown:

Farmers are on the front line of climate change – vulnerable to changes in temperature and rainfall, as well as increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

They also face criticism , in particular over greenhouse gas emissions from the meat and dairy industry, with calls for a move to a more plant-based diet.

Agriculture is currently responsible for about 9% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from methane.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which represents 55,000 UK farmers, has set a target of net-zero emissions in British farming by 2040. . . .

Could the Biblical practice of gleaning cut food waste? – Rebecca Wearn:

It is a hot July day in Lancashire and a dozen people are gathering on a dusty farm track two miles outside the market town of Ormskirk. They are gleaners – volunteer harvesters picking what’s left in the ground.

It’s for a good cause: the unwanted kale from this farm will be donated to local food projects and charities. And it is good weather; the broad blue sky is softly streaked with cirrus clouds. Cabbage white butterflies flit between the chamomile blooms and bushy deep green brassica leaves.

Feedback Global is one of a handful of campaign groups organising gleans across Britain. It’s seen its efforts swell – more than doubling the days in the fields between 2014 and 2018, working with four times as many volunteers and harvesting more than a hundred tonnes of unwanted fruit and vegetables from farms – that would otherwise be left to rot. . .

 


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