Rural round-up

July 13, 2018

Blue Sky Meats may adopt small-is-beautiful branding as point of difference to big-budgeted rivals, CEO says – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats, which sells chilled and frozen meats under two B2B brands, is on track to roll-out direct to consumer products in 2019 and is market-testing a strategy that may try to make a virtue out of being a minnow.

Sales rose 7 percent to $104.5 million in the year ended March 31 while expenses were little changed at $100.8 million, resulting in pre-tax earnings of $3.7 million from a loss of $2.6 million a year earlier, according to its annual report released at the weekend. . .

NZ Institute of Forestry proposes new national forest policy – Margreet Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Institute of Forestry proposed the introduction of a new national policy for the industry at the sector’s annual conference in an effort to help the government “develop sound long-term strategies for forestry development.”

David Evison, president of the NZ Institute of Forestry, presented the document, titled Forest Policy for New Zealand, to Forestry Minister Shane Jones, who formally opened the conference today, the group said in a statement. . .

Maize sector buoyant after strong growing season:

Levels of confidence are returning to New Zealand’s maize sector, with a healthy rise in average yields and prices remaining firm at around $400/tonne.

Reuben Carter, Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group Vice-Chairperson (Maize/Forage), said most growers enjoyed excellent growing weather and harvest conditions in 2018 and this is reflected in the latest AIMI survey. Data from 77 survey farms, scaled up for a national picture, show an average maize grain yield of 12.8 t/ha, compared to 10 t/ha in 2017, and 20.6t maize silage dry matter/ha (18.5t in 2017). . .

Nominations open for 2018 agribusiness leadership awards:

Nominations have opened for this year’s Rabobank Leadership Awards, recognising outstanding individual achievement in, and contribution to, New Zealand and Australia’s food, beverage and agribusiness industries. . .

Workplace safety gets top billing in forest workplaces:

In August a major national forest safety conference – Forest Safety & Technology 2018 – will show how well forest workers have embraced new techniques for integrated workplace safety. (https://forestsafety.events)

“The engagement with loggers and tree-planters by Fiona Ewing’s team at the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) has been outstanding,” says Forest Industry Engineering Association spokesman, Gordon Thomson. “In planning our case studies for this year’s conference, we found plenty of examples of people taking the things that FISC have been promoting and putting them into practice,” he adds. . .

Hawke’s Bay to host 2019 FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final:

Hawke’s Bay is set to host the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final for the first time in 16 years.

It’s been confirmed Hastings and Napier will play host to the national final of the iconic contest in July 2019.

The announcement was made at this year’s grand final in Invercargill on Saturday night. . .

Seeka markets Northland horticultural orchards:

 Seeka Limited has released its information memorandum to market nine horticultural properties in Northland. The properties are proposed to be sold by tender with orchard management and postharvest supply contracts back to Seeka. The land holdings include the six properties recently purchased by Seeka from Turners and Growers Horticulture Limited and in total covered 288 title hectares. Varieties grown on the properties include kiwifruit [Zespri SunGold, ENZAGold, EnzaRed and Hayward] along with avocados and lemons. There is significant bareland suitable for horticulture development. . .

Turkey: overview of the world’s seventh-largest agricultural producer:

Agriculture comprises around 23% of the Turkish economy. Approximately 3.5 million farmers look after 20 million ha of productive land. Average farm size is around 60 decare [a unit of surface measure equal to 10 acres, or 1000 square meters: equivalent to 0.2471 acre]

Agriculture comprises around 23% of the Turkish economy. Approximately 3.5 million farmers look after 20 million ha of productive land. Average farm size is around 60 decare [a unit of surface measure equal to 10 acres, or 1000 square meters: equivalent to 0.2471 acre]

Wheat is the most widely grown commodity, but milk is the most valuable. “If your most valuable product is wheat, that’s a sign that you’re an ‘old’ agricultural country,” says İsmail Ugural, an agricultural media commentator. “The country has entered a more modern phase now.” . .


Rural-round-up

June 26, 2018

New Zealand primary sector nervous over prospect of trade wars – Jamie Gray:

New Zealand’s primary sector is viewing the rising tide of global trade protectionism with trepidation, but escalating trade tensions between the United States and China have yet to spill over into this country’s main exports.

Primary sector and trade representatives welcomed last week’s launch of trade talks with the EU as positive step.

At the time, European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström voiced concerns about trade issues that have plagued markets in recent weeks after the US Donald Trump administration imposed steel and aluminium tariffs and the US and China stepped up their war of words. . . 

Guy Trafford traces the implications for agricultural trade flows from the game of poker the US is playing with China. All sides are vulnerable, even those not directly involved – Guy Trafford:

President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping are involved in a high stakes game of poker. Trump played the first hand with a $5 0billion tariff card. Xi Jinping immediately matched it with a similar call and put tariffs on US products, namely sorghum and soya beans.

Trump then matched and raised the stakes by increasing the tariffs to another $200 billion with the threat that if China matched this then another raise to $450 billion would be played.

This threat would put tariffs on over 90% of China’s exports to the US. . . 

Clampdown on foreign farm buyers scares off investors with ‘tens of millions’ in funds, agents say – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The government’s directive to the Overseas Investment Office to raise the bar in overseas applications to buy sensitive New Zealand land has scared away tens of millions of dollars in investments in rural property and will hurt farm values, real estate firms say.

The ministerial directive in a letter from Finance Minister Grant Robertson last November to Land Information NZ chief Andrew Crisp said the government is concerned to ensure any benefits from overseas investment in rural land “are genuinely substantial and identifiable” and economic benefits must be considered alongside environmental, social and cultural goals. Owning sensitive New Zealand assets was “a privilege, not a right.” The directive came into effect on Dec. 15 last year. . . 

Foreign farm buyer applications withdrawn in the past 12 months have tripled, OIO figures show – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The rate at which potential foreign buyers of New Zealand farms subsequently withdrew their applications to the Overseas Investment Office tripled in the past 12 months, OIO figures show.

The data captures the period since the government’s directive to the OIO to tighten rules for overseas applications to buy sensitive New Zealand land (which means any farmland over 5 hectares). The ministerial directive in a letter from Finance Minister Grant Robertson last November to Land Information NZ chief Andrew Crisp said the government aims to ensure any benefits from overseas investment in rural land “are genuinely substantial and identifiable” and economic benefits must be considered alongside environmental, social and cultural goals. Owning sensitive New Zealand assets was “a privilege, not a right.” The directive came into effect on Dec. 15 last year. . . 

Bayer Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 announced:

Congratulations to Jonathan Hunt from Delegats, Crownthorpe Vineyard, who became the Bayer Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 on Thursday 21st June.

This is the third year Hunt has competed and he is thrilled to have won the title and to be going on to represent Hawke’s Bay in the National Final.

Congratulations also goes to Nick Putt from Villa Maria who came second and Grace Petrie from Trinity Hill who came third. . . 

Creative tea and coffee trends good news for NZ dairy:

It’s tea, but not as you know it. Right now people are adding more than just milk and sugar to their cuppa’s and Fonterra is set to meet the demand for adventurous tea and coffee drinks around the world.

Beverages made with yoghurt, topped with cream cheese and mixed with cream are growing in popularity, leading Fonterra to establish a new channel within its Global Foodservice business, Beverage House.

Almost 600 million cups of tea and coffee are consumed out-of-home daily in the Asia Pacific region, a 22% increase on five years ago. . . 

Report Provides Zero Carbon Solution:

Smoke free, plastic free but, more significantly, tillage free.

A report to the Productivity Commission is recommending “bold action” to eliminate tillage or ploughing within the next five to 10 years and replace it with low disturbance no-tillage.

Every time soil is tilled through conventional methods, it releases huge quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere which contribute to global warming.

While the government has introduced a Zero Carbon Bill, it has overlooked the impact of cultivation which causes up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and the report challenges the Minister, James Shaw, through the Productivity Commission, to do something about it. . . 

In dairy, a cutthroat U.S. business versus a Canadian cartel – Jerry Zremski:

A little comparison shopping goes a long way toward explaining why President Trump decided to wage a trade war with Canada.

A gallon of milk cost $2.89 at the Tops Friendly Supermarket on Niagara Street last week, while the same product at the Avonmart on Garrison Road in Fort Erie cost $3.35 in American dollars. And Fort Erie shoppers are getting a bargain: According to Numbeo, a crowd-sourced comparison price guide, the average cost for a gallon of milk throughout Canada is $6.32 in American dollars, nearly twice the U.S. price.

And it’s all because the United States and Canada operate their dairy industries in ways that are as different as a bald eagle and a maple leaf. . . 

World Desertification Day: Stories of Resilience from Somalia :

In observation of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, delve into four stories of resilience from desert lands in Somalia. Meet two farmers and two female entrepreneurs, who—supported by the Somalia Emergency Drought Response and Recovery Project (SEDRP)—share their experiences of grit, hope, and resilience despite years of drought and famine risks.  Together with partners, particularly the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the project aimed to scale-up drought response and recovery in Somalia.

1. An impressive harvest, a happy farmer

The story of Saed Mohamud may not typically be expected from Somalia in 2017, two years into a severe drought that put the country in a nationwide state of natural disaster and famine—yet Mohamud is not alone. In 2017, thousands of families beat the odds and produced good yields, thanks to concerted efforts from government and partners, and solid donor investment in building farmers’ resilience against drought. . .


Rural round-up

June 22, 2018

Chinese eggs not all in one basket – Fonterra – Sudesh Kissun:

China’s digital world is second to none, but Fonterra isn’t putting all its eggs in one basket in selling fresh and packaged food.

Fonterra chief operating officer global consumer and foodservice Lukas Paravacini says the co-op is embracing e-commerce and traditional brick-and-mortar as its sales strategy.

Speaking at a recent New Zealand China Business Council conference in Auckland, Paravacini outlined lessons Fonterra has learned over the last five years while building a $3.4 billion business in China. . .

Communication seen as key in eradication – Sally Rae:

A Mycoplasma bovis-affected farmer’s heartfelt plea for communication brought a round of applause at a meeting in North Otago yesterday.

About 100 people attended the MPI roadshow at Papakaio, including Waimate farmer Martyn Jensen, who described himself as “farm No39 infected”.

He addressed the meeting reluctantly, as a dairy support farmer who was grazing heifers for a farmer whose herd was confirmed with having M. bovis.

In April, the farmer contacted Mr Jensen to tell him of the infection and, several weeks later, he was contacted by MPI.

What made it harder was they were “perfectly good” heifers and there had not been one clinical sign of the disease. . . 

‘M. bovis’ concerns aired at MPI meeting – Tom Kitchin:

Government officials say they are doing all they can to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis but there are still major concerns from farmers in the Central Otago region.

About 80 people attended a meeting held by the Ministry for Primary Industries in Alexandra yesterday.

A woman in the audience said she thought the ministry was “struggling”. . .  . . 

Rabbits not dying like flies – Nigel Malthus:

Scientists say although the new rabbit calicivirus is working as expected, farmers are not seeing the knockdown they may have hoped for.

The new strain of rabbit haemorrhagic virus disease, RHDV1-K5, was released several weeks ago at 150 sites.

Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research) has monitored release sites since then. . .

Comvita buys 20% stake in Uruguay’s Apiter for US$6.25M to secure propolis supplies – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita said it has acquired 20 percent of Uruguay’s Apiter for US$6.25 million and signed a long-term supply agreement to secure another source of propolis for sales into Asia.

The purchase price is comprised of US$5.65 million in cash and milestone earnouts and US$600,000 of Comvita shares, with settlement due on July 2, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Propolis is made by bees from plant resins to protect and sterilise their hives. . .

New Zealand’s ultimate steak connoisseur judging experience:

We found New Zealand’s Ultimate Steak Connoisseur, Gretchen Binns and brought her along to help determine the country’s tastiest and most tender steak at the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin competition. Here is her experience of the day:

Foul weather, farmers, red bands galore, Field days 2018!

The ultimate day of all days…well it was for this steak connoisseur.  And no doubt for a nervous farmer or three whose paddock to plate skills were being put to the ‘taste’.

PGG Wrightson/Beef and Lamb NZ’s Steak of Origin finals time. . .

Steady volume at end of season:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 71 fewer farm sales (-13.8%) for the three months ended May 2018 than for the three months ended May 2017. Overall, there were 443 farm sales in the three months ended May 2018, compared to 418 farm sales for the three months ended April 2018 (+6.0%), and 514 farm sales for the three months ended May 2017. 1,453 farms were sold in the year to May 2018, 18.8% fewer than were sold in the year to May 2017, with 4.0% more finishing farms, 1.7% fewer dairy farms, 36.3% fewer grazing and 34.3% fewer arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2018 was $26,219 compared to $27,212 recorded for three months ended May 2017 (-3.6%). The median price per hectare fell 4.0% compared to April. . .

 Get out of farmers’ way: In the end government interventions end up sustaining, not reducing, rural poverty – Sanjeev Sabhlok

While most other sectors were liberalised in 1991, agriculture was not. Indian farmers arguably remain among the most unfree in the world.

Some claim India won’t be able to feed itself without the government playing a hands-on role in agriculture. But countries like New Zealand and Australia with liberalised agriculture have become more productive. Each Australian farmer produces enough to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas. Liberalisation of agriculture in 1991 in India could well have made us a middle-income nation by now. Instead, our small farmers remain under chronic stress.

Another argument, sometimes made, is that farmers are frequently seen to agitate for government support. That’s not necessarily true. Farmer organisations like the Kisan Coordination Committee and Shetkari Sangathana have for decades opposed government intervention in agriculture. After their leader Sharad Joshi passed away in 2015, new leaders like Anil Ghanwat have vigorously argued for the government to leave farmers alone. . .


Rural round-up

June 16, 2018

Cube cleans up farm and orchard footwear – Hugh Stringleman:

Farm and orchard gate footwear cleaning and disinfection is expected to be a growing business for Jacson3 of Hamilton, which launched its portable biosecurity system at the National Fieldays.

Partners Jackie Humm and Russell Knutson, pictured, showed their Jacson Cube for the first time, after 18 months in development.

The product replaces the messy and often ineffective buckets and brushes that are now used on most farms and orchards. . . 

Regulator says Fonterra’s asset beta for calculating milk price ‘not practically feasible’ – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission says it is concerned that the ‘asset beta’ Fonterra Cooperative Group uses to determine the farmgate milk price is too low, meaning it ends up paying its farmers a higher price for their milk than would be warranted under the company’s enabling law.

“The impact of this is that Fonterra calculates a higher milk price than would be the case if it used a more feasible allowance for risk in the cost of finance, consistent with other processors,” the commission said in a statement accompanying an ’emerging views’ paper. . . 

Second place still winner for NZ food if branded:

Lincoln University agrifood marketing expert Dr Nic Lees says we need to make more of being second when it comes to international food ratings.

Research from Lincoln University and the University of Florida, showed that most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their local products.

However, Dr Lees said we are not taking advantage of this positive perception of the quality and safety of our food products.

“Unfortunately we are missing out on this premium because many overseas consumers are unaware their food originates in New Zealand.” . .

Deer milk wins Innovation Award at Fieldays:

Pāmu’s (formerly Landcorp) focus on innovation in the food business has been recognised at the 50th Fieldays, winning the Innovation Grassroots awards, with its ground-breaking deer milk product.

After three years of trial and testing, with partners Sharon and Peter McIntyre, who farm near Gore, today’s award caps an exciting week for deer milk, with a chefs tasting in Auckland on Monday.

Chief Executive Steve Carden says that deer milk was the sort of innovation that the agriculture sector needs to invest in to make sure we remain competitive. . .

Growing the future of forestry – top scholars rewarded:

Winners of the inaugural IFS Growth Tertiary Scholarship awards have been announced for 2018.

This prestigious scholarship initiative was established by innovative industry specialists IFS Growth, to support exemplar students, in pursuit of a qualification for the forestry industry. The award provides a powerful kick-start into the world of forestry with cash towards course tuition fees, work experience opportunities and entry into the company’s graduate career programme. . .

Sowing seeds of healthy childhood motivation for new charity partnership :

Helping young New Zealanders have the best chance of a healthy childhood is the driving force behind a new partnership between New Zealand’s leading charitable child health research funder and premier seed supplier, Pioneer® brand products.

Pioneer Head of Commercial Operations, Steve Richardson, said that the partnership with Cure Kids is a tangible way that our organisation, as a seed supplier can take an active role in improving health outcomes for New Zealand children. . .


Rural round-up

June 13, 2018

New faces take on arable roles – Annette Scott:

Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams made history as she took up the reins of the Federated Farmers arable section at its annual conference.

The first woman to head the section, the 2017 biosecurity farmer of the year and former Ballance Farm Environment Award winner takes on the job with a bundle of enthusiasm.

“I am excited about the opportunity. 

“For me this role gives me the opportunity to continue to work in biosecurity and engage in that space in Wellington. . . 

Drones prove worth on farms – Richard Rennie:

Drones initially welcomed as great novelties are now fixtures as business tools and on farms they can have multiple uses. Richard Rennie talked to farmers who have used them and found a new drone firm setting up shop here as their use becomes more widely accepted.

IN THE heady early days of drone deployment many promises were made about how they would revolutionise some of the grinding daily farm jobs, often all from the comfort of the farm kitchen table. 

A few years on they have proved to be more than a flash in the pan. 

For some farmers they are now an established tool but still as dependent on the technology they take into the sky as the inventiveness of farmers using them. . . 

Meat company results only average for 2017 – will 2018 be any better?  – Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s lacklustre result for 2017, posted last month, concludes the financial reporting for last year by the three major processors which publish their results. ANZCO’s pre-tax profit was $1.8 million which compares disappointingly with Alliance Group’s $16.7 million profit and Silver Fern Farms Cooperative’s 15 month profit of $7.8 million.

None of the three companies achieved a particularly good return on their investment in the business, but both Alliance and SFF showed improvement on the previous year which was in each case the result of substantial changes in the business structure and balance sheet. The $261 million investment by Shanghai Maling in acquiring 50% of SFF had an immediately positive impact on the company’s balance sheet strength and interest bill. During its year to September Alliance was able to reduce debt and make increased investment in plant upgrades at the same time. . . 

Danone adds to investment in NZ infant formula with proposal to buy up to 49% of Yashili New Zealand – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Danone plans to increase its investment in New Zealand infant formula manufacturing by acquiring up to 49 percent of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co, the local unit of China Mengniu Dairy, according to a filing in Hong Kong.

Terms of the transaction haven’t been finalised, including the price and method of payment, Yashili International said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. “The consideration, the payment method and the payment schedule shall be determined after arm’s length negotiations and mutual agreement between the parties,” it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. . .

Changes on board of Young farmers – Sally Rae:

Experienced Dunedin marketer Sharon Angus has joined the board of New Zealand Young Farmers as an appointed director.

Ms Angus (54), who is former general manager of marketing at Silver Fern Farms, has extensive experience with food brands.

The marketing consultant was excited about joining the board as she felt New Zealand Young Farmers “represents the future”. . . 

Process vegetables industry signs up to GIA:

Today, Horticulture New Zealand signed a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response on behalf of Process Vegetables New Zealand (PVNZ).

PVNZ chair David Hadfield says robust biosecurity should be seen as an investment for growers.

“Committing to the GIA enables us to have closer, more informed interactions with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and other GIA industry partners around biosecurity. This includes planning for potential incursions and taking a leading role in collective biosecurity management where it impacts our members,” Hadfield says. . . 

Knitted with love:

How Fonterra is helping keep Gore’s newest residents warm and cosy this winter.

It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Gore and Lois Shallard’s knitting needles are working over-time. Beside her on the table is a pile of tiny knitted baby socks, singlets and hats and at her feet are balls of wool – hot pink, lime green, lavender and a “lovely mottled blue”.

Lois is 70 this year and she’s been knitting since her teens. She knitted clothes for all her children back in the day and now she’s moved on to knitting for her town’s new mums.

“I love knitting the little socks the best, they are just so tiny and cute.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 30, 2018
Collective responsibility tough – ODT editorial:

The Government and farming leaders have made one of the hardest decisions imaginable in deciding to attempt the eradication of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand.

The decision has been made to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

Farming leaders have thrown their support behind the eradication attempt, but it is the actual farmers with the infected herds who will now be facing the reality of losing cows they may have bred into milk-producing animals. . . 

Mycolplasma bovis – focusing on the immediate – Keith Woodford:

[This is an open letter to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, sent on the evening of 29 May 2018, as part of an ongoing dialogue.]

Dear Damien

Mycoplasma bovis: focusing on the immediate

This is a further open letter. It is an open letter because it contains information that I believe both you and others need to hear.

First of all, I want to acknowledge phone and email interactions we have had in recent days. I note in particular that you emailed me at 3am this morning which surely tells its own story. Farmers too are emailing me at that time, indicative of the stress they are under.

Now that the eradication decision has been made, then I do not wish to debate that here. Instead I want to focus on maximising the chances that it will work and minimising the pain to the affected farmers.

On the Newshub AM show this morning I focused among other things on the need for MPI to ‘up its game’. Response Director Geoff Gwyn subsequently acknowledged that there may well be lessons to learn, but did not name any when asked by the presenter, and said that he thought that MPI had done many things well. . . 

Mental health fears for farmers over mass cow cull – Tim Brown:

The people at ground zero of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak are warning that the eradication bid could have disastrous knock-on effects.

Others in the small Southland town of Winton are backing the government cull of 150,000 cows.

Yesterday, the government announced it was committed to eradicating the illness with a ten year plan that would cost about $886 million.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease.

It was discovered in July last year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis rated ‘low risk’ by health officials – Gerard Hutching:

The possibility of humans contracting Mycoplasma bovis from eating meat or drinking milk from infected cattle has been dismissed by officials and food safety experts as a “low risk”.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the disease was not a food safety risk. Concerns have again been raised over the culling of 152,000 cattle and whether their meat or milk might threaten human health.

“There is no issue with eating beef or drinking milk from infected herds. This disease is in every other farming nation and people have been consuming products from cattle with Mycoplasma bovis for decades,” MPI said. . . 

Good on-farm management essential for eradication plan to succeed:

Good on-farm animal management will be essential if plans to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) are to succeed, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

“This will be essential to stop the infection spreading and to ensure M. bovis isn’t re-introduced into New Zealand,” NZVA President Dr. Peter Blaikie said.

The industry and government today announced a phased eradication plan to attempt to get rid of M. bovis. . . 

M, bovis: how did we get here?:

Everyone’s been playing catch-up since the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak – and everyone’s blamed each other.

On Monday, the government announced a 10-year plan to eradicate the disease, saying about 150,000 cows would have to be slaughtered.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease, at a cost of about $886 million to government and industry bodies.

The news is devastating for many farmers who have devoted their lives to the industry. Some fear their livelihoods will be destroyed.

But how did we get here? . . 

In a word from Sir Humphrey – courageous – Gravedodger:

During my life spent in primary production one of the most stressful segments arose around the determination to eradicate TB. Bovine Tuberculosis is one insidious little beastie with a remarkable ability to thwart detection.

Once every  year all bovine stock were mustered and put up a race where a MAF person would inject a small dose of reagent  in the soft skin  between the tail and the rump, three days later that crat would return and scan by feel for a lump at that injection site and if a reactor (a palpable lump) was discovered that beast would be slaughtered asap where TB would be confirmed  post mortem but alas sometimes the animal would be a “clear”.
One reactor and the whole heard would be placed on ‘movement control’ requiring any cattle for sale to carry a “white ear tag” and receive  a discounted price.

We farmed in an area of the Wairarapa where our eight neighbours all went on and off “movement control” over the twenty years yet surprisingly  we managed to remain “Clear” throughout the two decades we operated there.
It did not come easy, I wish to forget how many nights were spent sometimes more than five hours on an open quad bike seeking the dreaded Possum, an uninvited guest that could become infected with Bovine TB but before inevitable death could infect pasture from suppurating lesions, leaving infected grass to be ingested by a grazing beast and a “reactor”  created. . .

Olive Oil 
the New Zealand Way: –

David Walshaw 

“I have a lot invested in each drop of this gorgeous, golden liquid. There is the time and money, of course, but there is far more than that, too. It is the distillation of a dream and the physical and emotional effort required to realise that dream. The flavours and the aromas of the oil are like a story — the story of the tree’s experience of a year, itself a chapter in the life of the tree, and the tree’s life a volume in the ages long story of the cultivation of the olive. My own story is in there, too, intertwined with the gnarled wood of the olive tree.” 

When, after a successful career in banking and finance, David Walshaw decided it was time for a change, he settled on growing olives for oil as his new direction. Neither he nor his wife Helen had any previous experience, but by doing the research, by seeking the advice of other growers, by putting in the work, by trial and not a few errors, they made a go of it. . . 

The build of Synlait’s liquid packaging facility is on track:

Synlait Milk is pleased with the progress made on the building of its advanced liquid dairy packaging facility by Tetra Pak.

The two companies have worked together for over ten years, beginning with the building of Synlait’s anhydrous milkfat (AMF) plant in 2007.

The new facility will produce fresh milk and cream for Foodstuffs South Island’s private label brands from early 2019, and will be a platform for Synlait to pursue a range of dairy-based products for export markets. . . 

Milk NZ Holding surprised by Fonterra’s $7 payout for 2019 given outlook for global demand Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Milk New Zealand Holding, which owns and manages dairy operations controlled by Shanghai Pengxin, says it didn’t expect such a bullish forecast from Fonterra Cooperative Group for its 2019 milk payout.

Last week Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for 2019 of $7 per kilogram of milk solids from the $6.75 /kgMS projected for the current season, while cutting its projected dividends for 2018, saying rising global dairy prices were squeezing margins. . .

Federated Farmers appoints Terry Copeland as its new CEO:

The man who helped transform NZ Young Farmers has been appointed to lead the country’s most influential rural lobby group.

Terry Copeland, 50, has been named the next chief executive of Federated Farmers. He replaces Graham Smith.

Mr Copeland has been the chief executive of NZ Young Farmers since 2013 and is looking forward to a new challenge. . . 

Butchers ‘living in fear’ as vegan attacks on the rise, says Countryside Alliance – Helena Horton:

Attacks on small businesses by vegan activists are on the rise, according to the Countryside Alliance.

Death threats, stoked by social media and encouraged by international groups of activists, have caused butchers and farmers to “live in fear.”

Marlow Butchers, in, Ashford, Kent, was targeted earlier this month by activists who daubed red paint on the doors and windows of the shop . .

Organic vs conventional food fight: Focus on pesticides distracts from real environmental problems – Marc Brazeau :

A quick note in my news feed highlighted a new data set from the World Bank that shows that while the US has one of the most productive agriculture sectors in the world, it also has some of the lowest rates of pesticide and fertilizer use. Good news. The author’s title, however, stuck me as unfortunate: World’s Model for Sustainability in Food Production. His write up was about pesticide and fertilizer use, and while high yields, with low pesticide and fertilizer rates are very commendable (and surprising to many), pesticide and fertilizer use is hardly the last word in sustainability in agriculture. And among the biggest impacts of agriculture: land use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution; pesticides hardly rate. And yet…

One of the things that has really begun to stand out in the debate between advocates of technologically progressive agriculture and the critics of technological agriculture is the persistence of the idea that the use of pesticides is still a major problem, if not the central environmental impact of agriculture, that needs to be addressed. This is unfortunate. It’s just not accurate. It’s a cul-de-sac in the discussion about how to improve the environmental footprint of agriculture. It’s a distraction from the addressing the major environmental impacts. . .


Rural roundup

May 27, 2018

Vet answers pressing Mycoplasma bovis questions:

Trying to stop the spread of Mycoplasma bovis can be a complicated process, with some confusion around winter grazing and Gypsy Day, where stock is moved between farms.

Central-Southland vet Mark Bryan spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay and Andy Thompson in a bid to answer some questions surrounding Mycoplasma bovis.

What happens if you send animals away to grazing and while they’re there some other animals are classed as infected? Do your animals become infected and can you bring them back home?

Bryan says farms that are under restriction, (Infected Properties (IPs), Restricted Place (RP) and Notices of Direction (NOD), can only move to other restricted farms. . . 

MPI ‘slow, uncoordinated’, under-prepared in M bovis response:

One of the owners of the South Canterbury farm where Mycoplasma bovis was first found says MPI has been slow, uncoordinated and under-prepared in its response to the disease.

Wilma Van Leuuwen said she knew the farmer who managed the Waikato farm where the disease was found in December.

“It was traced to them, up there in Cambridge in December, and nobody came on the farm to do testing straight away.

“That person was able to trade stock or do whatever he wished until February when they locked him down and started doing the testing – and they didn’t even notify it until May that he was positive. It’s rather slow.”

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was never prepared to manage the disease, and would never have enough staff to cope with it now it had spread throughout the country, she said. . .

‘M. bovis’ outbreak devastates couple’s life – Sally Rae:

Thousands of cattle have been slaughtered because of Mycoplasma bovis, but there has also been a very real human cost.

Until Wednesday, former Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) sharemilkers Sarel and Mary Potgieter were living in a leaking caravan in Australia.

They had been forced to sell anything they could, including household items, to pay debts, and both were now taking anti-depressants, Mrs Potgieter said.

They also had the “heartbreaking” sight of watching the cattle in their charge dispatched for slaughter, including pet cows.

“On the last day, myself and Sarel could not face it. But the worst was the newborn calves that MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] instructed pet foods to shoot and slit their throats,” Mrs Potgieter said. . . 

Infected farm’s use of distant vet concerns– Sally Rae:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has expressed concern over the use of distance veterinary services in light of news the farm at the centre of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was using a vet clinic about 1600km away.

It is understood Southern Centre Dairies in Southland, owned by Alfons and Gea Zeestraten, which is believed to be the first farm infected, has been using a Waiheke Island-based vet clinic.

Vets on Waiheke manager Stephen Gilmore confirmed to RNZ’s Checkpoint programme that his wife Alexandra was the vet responsible for the Zeestraten herd, and had been for two years, and that they tried to make six-monthly visits to the dairy farming operation.

In a statement, NZVA president Peter Blaikie said the association did not know the details and could not comment on the specific situation. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis: do we need to go so fast and should the North and South Islands be managed separately? – Keith Woodford:

[This is a letter that I sent today (25 May 2018)  to the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor]

Honourable Damien O’Connor
Minister of Agriculture 

Greetings Damien

Mycoplasma bovis

I am writing this to you because of the huge decision that Government has to make on Monday. It is an open letter, because there are issues which all New Zealanders need to be informed of.

In a perfect world, we would all hope for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis. But the world is not perfect, and there are no good solutions. Unfortunately, there are real risks that an ongoing policy of eradication is one where the medicine is worse than the disease.

I have been following developments since the first identification of an infection, this being the Tainui property owned by the Van Leeuwen Group and share-farmed by Mary and Sarel Potgieter. I contacted the Van Leeuwens at that time, and I have written about Mycoplasma on six occasions since then (at my own website  . . 

‘Your support brought me to tears’: Glen Herud on life after his Happy Cow story went viral – Glen Herud:

His company has been liquidated, his mobile milking shed sold for a song. But Glen Herud is not giving up on his ethical milk mission.

Last month, we hit the wall and shut the doors – but our customers encouraged us to go on.

I founded the Happy Cow Milk Company in 2012, and my mission was to create a more ethical and sustainable diary model.

In April, I faced the hard reality that I couldn’t do it. I was out of money and out of energy. But when I announced I was shutting down, something amazing happened; this passionate community of supporters told me not to give up. . . 

 

We should value our workers, says 2018’s Central Otago Young Fruit Grower:

Hamish Daring from Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, Cromwell has been named Central Otago Young Fruit Grower of the Year, following a day of intense competition in Cromwell today.

The competition saw six of the region’s top young orchardists engage in a series of challenges designed to test the skills needed to successfully run a thriving fruit-growing business. Events included tractor maintenance, pest and disease identification, and first aid.

Hamish, 21, is a third generation horticulturist who cut his teeth helping set up Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, just north of Cromwell, in the summer of 2012/13.  . . 

NZ Meat Board chases higher returns from $70M of funds now held in term deposits – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Meat Board will increase the risk profile of its $70 million of reserve funds, adding shares to what is now mainly held in term deposits in a bid to lift returns.

The shift to a balanced portfolio is aiming to achieve a return of at least 3.3 percent “after all investment, funds management and custodial costs, inflation and any tax drag” are deducted. It generated interest income of $2.3 million in 2017, a yield of 2.95 percent, according to its annual report. . . 


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