Rural round-up

March 31, 2020

Resuscitating a virus-ravaged economy – the answer lies in the soil and the exports it generates – Point of Order:

Westpac is forecasting 200,000 jobs will be lost in NZ as a result of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Chief economist Dominick Stephens estimates economic activity during the four week lock-down would decline by a third, despite the government and the Reserve Bank having “done a lot to calm financial markets”.

Stephens said his feeling was that GDP in the three months to June would fall by more than 10%— “which is completely unprecedented in our lifetimes”.

The  Westpac  diagnosis  reinforces  the argument  advanced  by  Point of   Order   in  one of  its most intently  read  posts:  “After the lock-down the  economy’s  recovery  will be  dependent on dairy farmers and  their  milk”. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: It’s essential that agriculture does its bit – Chris Lewis:

To beat Covid-19 those working on the land must do their bit on-farm and off, writes Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis.

Just like our hard working medical and emergency services, communications and infrastructure teams, the next four weeks will see farmers and their supporting services continuing to work while most of the country is locked down.

Being away from the high populations of our urban centres is an advantage in a time when we need to limit people contact and for many, business on the farm will largely feel like usual.

But for all of us to beat this, those working on the land must do their bit on the farm and off. . . 

Protocols present harvest challenges – Richard Rennie:

As Covid-19 protocols for essential industry staff become clearer, the kiwifruit sector is facing some tough decisions on how realistic they will prove for this year’s harvest to be successful.

Growers have only one day to go for registration as an “essential business”, and all growers and contractors with over five staff will be required to be registered with Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). 

Businesses have until 5pm on Friday March 27 to be registered.

Doug Brown NZKGI chairman said he could not reiterate enough the importance of registering under Level 4 Covid-19 rules. . . 

 

Whanganui meat business Coastal Spring Lamb wins another food award – Laurel Stowell :

A second food award is a ray of sunshine amid a time of drought and pandemic for Turakina farmer Richard Redmayne.

He founded and, with farming partners, owns the Coastal Spring Lamb brand. Its lamb backstraps have won a gold medal in the Outstanding New Zealand Food Producers Awards, announced on March 24. Other gold winners in the category were beef and chicken products, and eggs.

The awards are judged 75 per cent on taste, 15 per cent on sustainability and 10 per cent on brand. Judges said the lamb backstraps were “a real class act”, with sustainability built in, consideration for animal welfare and care for the land. . . 

Raw milk rings alarm bells – Richard Rennie:

The increasingly popular and often controversial choice to drink raw milk has had alarm bells ringing among public health officials in recent years. Richard Rennie spoke to veterinarian and researcher Genevieve Davys about her work with Massey University disease experts on the link between raw milk and campylobacter.

Research has revealed children under 10 are most likely to contract campylobacter disease by drinking raw milk and account for 29% of the raw milk-related cases notified in the MidCentral Health district from 2012 to 2017.

The study collected data on all cases of campylobacter notified in that period. It then dug deeper into raw milk campylobacteriosis cases, comparing the demographics of them to other campylobacter cases where raw milk was not drunk.

Raw milk was linked to almost 8% of the notified cases.  . . 

New protocols to keep the shears clicking during the coronavirus emergency – Vernon Graham:

Shearers and shed hands should travel to work in separate vehicles, according to new wool harvesting protocols.

They should only travel together if the vehicle (eg, a bus) is big enough to allow the recommended 1.5 metres spacing between them.

The protocols have been developed in a collaboration between AWEX, WoolProducers Australia, Sheep Producers Australia, the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia and the WA Shearing Industry Association. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2020

Essentially we are struggling – Sarah Perriam:

It’s a nice feeling to be essential huh?

But, farming in New Zealand is facing the perfect storm of challenges, which makes it hard to provide that essential service.

This week in Sarah’s Country we talk to to Lochie Macgillivray from the Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group who talks about the layers of mounting situations that the region’s farmers face from movement control with M bovis and the TB outbreak, water and feed storage issues and livestock returned from processors due to Covid-19 – all while being in drought.  . . 

Rural businesses carrying on – Annette Scott:

Being there for farmers is what Ruralco is about, chief executive Rob Sharkie says.

“And that means through all times where at all possible, the good and the not so good. 

“It’s about looking after our backyarders. That’s what we are set up to do.”

On the first day of the level three covid-19 Ruralco had 900 people through the doors.

“Nine hundred customers in one day is very busy but it wasn’t panic buying, it was the uncertainty. . . 

Covid-19: Farmer lobby’s strength on display :

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says COVID-19 has highlighted the strength of the farmer lobby. “

It shows the strength of Federated Farmers that we’re being looked to as the ‘go to’ source of advice and conduit of essential information to the agriculture sector during Covid-19,” she told Feds members in an email last night.

“We’ve found answers to pretty much every question our members have fired at us over the last week or two and it’s all summarised on our website and in the regular advisories we’ve emailed.” . . 

Food sector to continue as normal: Professor – Alice Scott:

It is business as usual for farmers around the country, despite Covid-19.

Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says that as the nation scrambles to contain the virus, the food sector will continue as normal.

Prof Griffin has spent a career in animal health research.

He also has a strong interest in New Zealand’s food production systems and he is director of Agriculture at Otago (Ag@Otago), an initiative launched in 2016, involving more than 60 Otago researchers with active interests in agriculture. . . 

New associate director for Beef + Lamb board:

Wairarapa farmer Kate Wyeth has been appointed this year’s associate director on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand board.

Wyeth, who alongside her husband James, farms a 380ha sheep and beef farm in the Northern Wairarapa has a background in farm consultancy with BakerAg and is a facilitator on the Agri-Women’s Development Trust and chairperson on the Opaki School Board of Trustees.

She says she is excited by the opportunity to learn from and contribute to c’s governance team. . . 

Badge ‘just a tremendous honour’ – Toni Williams:

“It’s just a tremendous honour,” Women’s Institutes stalwart Jude Vaughan, the unsuspecting recipient of a WI Good Service Badge, said.

Mrs Vaughan was completely taken aback when presented with the award at the Mid Canterbury Federation of WI’s annual general meeting after a secret nomination of her peers at Lowcliffe WI.

“It just blows you away, it’s not for me, it’s for the organisation. The acknowledgement from your peers, that means so much,” she said.

In nominating Mrs Vaughan, members of Lowcliffe WI said: “She is very proactive member wanting to spread the WI word and fly our banner when possible. . . 


Rural round-up

March 25, 2020

Farmers urged to continue producing food:

New Zealand farmers are being urged to carry on producing food while respecting coronavirus guidelines issued by the Government.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says farming is classified as an essential service, so is milk and meat processing.

Lewis says that meat and dairy companies will continue to operate as the country moves into the highest level of alert for coronavirus from midnight Wednesday. . . 

Coronavirus: Farmers’ mental health important says Katie Milne -:

Farmers may be used to isolation but they still need to take care of their mental health says Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

As efforts to slow the Covid-19 outbreak escalate in New Zealand, people are being asked to stay home and keep their distance from others, while social gatherings and events have been also cancelled.

As a result, farmers may find themselves cut off from everyday rural events that afford them much-needed social interaction, such as rugby games and catch ups at the pub. . . 

Friendly solution to farm water issues – Richard Davison:

A farmer-led catchment monitoring group wants to expand its activities following a successful first year.

In 2014, the Pathway for the Pomahaka water quality improvement project was launched in West Otago, which led to the establishment of the Pomahaka Water Care Group.

Last February, the award-winning group launched the latest phase of its action plan, in the shape of a ‘‘Best Practice Team’’ of 12 volunteers, set up to provide ‘‘self-policing’’ of water quality compliance among the catchment’s about 600 farms.

Team co-ordinator Bryce McKenzie — who farms 700 cows on 320ha adjoining the Pomahaka River — said the concept had worked well during its inaugural year. . . 

Westland Milk unveils Covid-19 strategy:

Westland Milk Products says Covid-19 is causing “minimal disruption” to its supply chains, with the company working to meet rising demand from China.

The second-largest dairy enterprise in New Zealand says domestic demand for its product range is also remaining consistent.

To keep up with demand in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company this morning announced that it is issuing measures to keep staff well and the factory running. . . 

Research reveals fodder beet value – Annette Scott:

New research into fodder beet shows portion control is critical to ensure safe feeding to dairy cows.

Fodder beet is widely used on South Island dairy farms as a versatile, high-energy, high-yield crop that allows cows to put on body condition quickly, if transitioned correctly. 

“This makes it an attractive option for farmers but because of the high sugar content careful transitioning onto the crop is critical,” DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said.

The Sustainable Use of Fodder Beet research project confirms the crop can be a key part of dairy farm systems. . . 

 

Butchers run off their feet – and it’s not expected to ease – Shan Goodwin:

As butchers report they are now mincing higher value cuts like rump to keep up with astronomical demand, marketing experts and psychologists suggest empty red meat supermarket shelves are likely to be around for months.

It’s not that Australia will run out of beef. Export and food service orders are already being diverted to retail cabinets.

Rather, the unfolding dynamics of consumer behaviour amid the virus crisis indicates the inclination to fill freezers won’t fade. . . 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2020

Farmers want essential services clarity :

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne is urgently seeking clarity from the Government about what primary sector activities will qualify as essential after the Government effectively put the country into lockdown for four weeks to stop the spread of covid-19.

Milne said she has made it clear in conversations with the Government the definition of essential business has to be as wide-ranging as possible so farmers can keep functioning.

“They are part of the food chain and we need them. 

“The people who do service farming, they have an as equally critical role as us who are growing the food.  . . 

Otago farmers nervous about labour from border restrictions :

Uncertainty over travel for the international workforce is compounding what has been a difficult season for orchardists in Central Otago.

Border restrictions and reduced airline capacity in response to Covid-19 are creating anxiety in the industry.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of 45 South – New Zealand’s largest cherry exporter – Tim Jones said traditionally two-thirds of his workforce came from overseas, half on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visas and half backpackers.

“As a grower, I sit here nervous about labour and we know we use as many Kiwis as we can but to supplement that we employ RSE labour and we employ a lot of backpackers and our obvious concerns are they may not be around in the sort of numbers we’ve had recently. . . 

A DIRA decision – Elbow Deep:

As the world is faced with torrents of horrific news as the pandemic sweeps the globe, it feels like there is little to be positive about. But over recent weeks there have been two small gems for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The first piece of good news was Fonterra’s half year financial results, which are a remarkable turnaround from the Co-op’s first ever loss posted last year. The loss wasn’t insignificant or so small it could be dismissed as a rounding error, the Co-op lost over half a billion dollars which only makes the recent turnaround even more impressive.

At a time of mass uncertainty when many people don’t know if they’ll still have a job in a few months, it is somewhat relieving that these results will see Fonterra inject more than $11 billion into the New Zealand economy through milk payments to their farmers. Those farmers will in turn spend over half of that in their local communities, communities which need money now more than ever before. It’s not just Fonterra farmers who will benefit from the Co-op’s strong performance; independent processors around the country will be benchmarking themselves off the Co-op’s strong performance. . .

Rural sector crying out to recruit more staff – Jacob McSweeny:

While thousands of people around the country are facing joblessness a recruiting company is calling out for workers in the primary sector, saying there were 40 jobs in South Canterbury available now.

Agstaff, Canstaff and New Zealand Dairy Careers managing director Matt Jones said the need for workers had increased as a result of implications from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The work does not stop — it’s ramped up as some of our clients in the primary production sector increase production to meet New Zealand’s needs.

“The cows still need milked and the crops must be picked,” Mr Jones said.

He said he had a client in South Canterbury who needed 40 people to start immediately. . . 

Post-quake study reveals hort potential – Nigel Malthus:

Large areas of North Canterbury and South Marlborough – affected by the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquakes – offer wide potential for horticulture.

A Plant and Food Research investigation has found that several crops – in particular, apples, grapes, hazelnuts and walnuts – could be grown in pockets throughout the region.

It identified 41,515 ha of land – or about 9% of the total 466,000ha – that would potentially be suitable. . . 

Vets offer Covid-19 advice:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has some advice for animal owners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association representing New Zealand veterinarians says COVID-19 should not reduce the care owners give to their animals’ health and welfare.

“We appreciate there are many issues that people are dealing with in relation to COVID-19, particularly those self-isolating or with family members taking this precautionary measure,” says New Zealand Veterinary Association chief veterinary officer, Dr Helen Beattie.  . . 

Why cradle-to-cradle needs to be included in fashion’s sustainability rating tools :

A review of a leading environmental impact tool for apparel finds that unless improvements are made, weaknesses in the underlying science could lead to misleading results, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the environment.

What do textile lifecycle assessment tools do?

Textile lifecycle assessment (LCA) tools aim to understand, quantify and communicate the environmental credentials of textiles with the intent of minimising environmental impact.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Material Sustainability Index (MSI) is increasingly being adopted by industry but this LCA method currently fails to account for the complexity of the textile industry.

“Several significant environmental impacts and processes are excluded from the MSI and PM, including recyclability, biodegradability, renewability of resource used, microfibres, abiotic resource depletion (minerals) and abiotic bioaccumulation,” said Dr Steve Wiedemann of Integrity AG & Environment.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 17, 2020

Federated Farmers calls for fiscal stimulus from government:

Federated Farmers congratulates the Reserve Bank on a decisive monetary policy stimulus in response to the worsening economic situation, cutting the OCR to 0.25%.

“We also strongly support its decision to delay implementation of its tougher requirements for bank capital to help the banking sector support the economy,” Feds President Katie Milne said.

One bank has already agreed to immediately pass on the lower OCR rate to borrowers.  Federated Farmers calls on other banks to follow suit. . .

Supermarket demands for perfection require pesticides – growers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Supermarkets demand perfectly formed fruit and vegetables, but perfection requires pesticides, growers say.

The biggest supermarkets – Countdown, Pak ‘n Save and New World – dictate the colour, shape and size that growers must adhere to in order to get their produce onto their shelves, a large grower says.

The grower, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that if farmers don’t grow to the specifications, the produce is rejected by supermarket inspectors and must be thrown out. . .

 

Global merino conference in Otago: president says industry better than ever – Sally Rae:

World Federation of Merino Breeders president Will Roberts reckons he has never seen the merino industry has never been so good as it is now.

Mr Roberts and his wife Nada have been in Otago attending the Merino Excellence 2020 Congress, and Mr Roberts also judged at the Wanaka A&P Show.

The couple farm a 13,000ha sheep and cattle property in Queensland, originally bought by Mr Roberts’ family in 1906. The Victoria Downs merino stud was established in 1911. . .

Cowpats, cabers and clouds of soot in showcase of country life – Harry Lock:

Thousands descended on Palmerston North over the weekend to witness cowpat throwing, hay bale stacking and sheep shearing.

While other events across the country were put off, the annual Rural Games went ahead as planned, with the city’s central square transformed into a farmer’s paradise.

Onlookers were treated to a premier experience, with some of the best in the world showcasing their skills. . .

NZ Champions of Cheese medal winners announced:

After judges smelled, crumbled and tasted their way through almost 300 New Zealand cheeses, the medal winners of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020 have been announced.

Run by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) for the 17th consecutive year, Australian Master Judge Russell Smith oversaw judging on Sunday 23rd February, working with a panel of 25 specialist judges.

NZSCA chair Neil Willman said the judges made special note of the quality and variety of cheese they assessed this year. . .

Grasslands as vital as trees for environment, sheep farmers say :

Livestock farmers have challenged the government’s focus on tree planting and peatland restoration as a means to help nature address climate change.

Wednesday’s budget committed £640 million to be spent on 30,000 hectares of trees, and 35,000 hectares of peatland restoration.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said both the restoration and tree planting are funded by a new Nature for Climate fund.

“This government intends to be the first in history to leave our natural environment in a better state than we found it,” said the chancellor. . .


Rural round-up

February 3, 2020

Worst time for virus – Neal Wallace:

Coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for meat processors, analysts say.

With no one dining out, Chinese cold storage facilities are flooded with product, AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said.

“From a New Zealand perspective the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“Large-scale buying for the Chinese New Year festivities meant processors’ inventories were well-stocked going into the outbreak. 

“A large portion of the Chinese workforce remains on leave too, further slowing down the movement of product.” . . 

Fighter for free trade will be sorely missed – Federated Farmers

Many farmers will remember Mike Moore as a man who rolled up his sleeves to fight for global trade liberalisation and making things better for New Zealanders in general.

“He was brimming with talent and positivity and wasn’t afraid to stick his neck out,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said. “Who can forget his tireless efforts to promote the lamb burger? He took quite a bit of stick for that but was ahead of his time in terms of creating markets for our products.”

For his roles with the World Trade Organisation and as our ambassador to the United States he was away from the home shores he loved, but he continued to strive for the interests of Kiwis. . .

Farmers encouraged to open their gates to connect with urban New Zealand:

Greg and Rachel Hart are opening their Mangarara Station gates on Open Farms Day (Sunday 1 March), and inviting urban Kiwis to learn about their how they farm first-hand.

The Hart family are on a mission to connect New Zealanders with what they eat, how they live, and back to the farm where it all begins.

Greg Hart says, “When we learned about Open Farms Day, it was a no-brainer for us.”

“We love sharing Mangarara Station and offering the farm as a place where people can connect back to the land.” . . .

Walking a mile in her gumboots – Cheyenne Nicholson :

Matamata farmer Ella Wharmby feels more at home in the back paddocks than shopping in the high street. Farming was not her first choice but fate had different ideas. She tells Cheyenne Nicholson how she found her calling.

As the saying goes, you can’t fully understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And if you swapped the shoes for gumboots, Waikato farmer Ella Wharmby could tell you a thing or two about that.  

Looking at her now, it is hard to believe that she had barely stepped foot on a farm before embarking on a career that would see her combine her passion for food, animals and the outdoors. 

“Having not come from a farming background I now realise how far removed we’ve become from the food chain,” Ella says. . . 

Kiwigrowers to help pay for $18m Queensland fruit fly response:

Kiwifruit growers will fork out around a million dollars toward a year-long operation to eradicate the Queensland fruit fly.

An $18 million biosecurity response in Auckland finished on Friday, with New Zealand declared once again free of the pest.

The total cost will mostly be covered by the government, but industry groups will also have to chip in. . . 

Rothesay Deer operation grew to take over entire farm – Toni Williams:

Rothesay Deer owner Donald Greig has been building up the genetics of his English and composite deer operation for more than three decades.

The farm, near Methven, is spread over three sites but the home block has been in the family for two generations.

The land the stag block is on is an extension of the original farm secured by his father, Tom Greig, following World War 2.

That land was part of a rehabilitation block for ex-servicemen to use for farming after the war. . .

 

Site builds under way at Southern Field Days near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

As trucks roll into the Southern Field Days site at Waimumu to start setting up the South Island’s largest agricultural trade fair, the event secretary has a lot on her plate.

There’s phone calls from exhibitors, a third reprint of 4000 day passes to organise, and a gale warning from the Metservice which may have slowed down progress on putting marquees up.

It’s still two weeks until the crowds begin to flock to Field Days, but the site was a hive of activity already. . . 


Rural round-up

January 29, 2020

Seaweed supplement developer confident – Colin Williscroft:

Development of a feed supplement aimed at reducing methane emissions is well advanced, as Colin Williscroft reports.

The methane-busting seaweed technology developer who got $500,000 from the latest Provincial Growth Fund round expects to do product trials here this year and maybe have a product commercially available by next year.

CH4 Global, based in New Zealand and the United States, is focused on commercial scale aquaculture and processing of native asparagopsis seaweed in Southland, Marlborough and Northland and initially in the Port Lincoln area in South Australia. . .

Synlait increases forecast milk payout:

Dairy company Synlait has increased its forecast payout for the current production of milk solids on the back of strong market prices.

The company is now forecasting a payout of $7.25 a kilogram of milk solids from its previous assessment of $7 a kilo.

Synlait chief executive Leon Clement said prices had been strong since the end of last year. . .

Grains harvest shaping up well – Annette Scott:

Cropping farmers across the country are chomping at the bit eager to get their headers onto what is shaping up to be a late but good harvest season, Federated Farmers arable sector grains chairman Brian Leadley says.

Canterbury growing conditions, in particular, have been favourable and with cooler temperatures this summer crops are running a couple of weeks behind normal harvest time.

But that’s not a problem yet with crops looking good and with a spell of warm, sunny weather over the next couple of weeks harvest will kick into full swing. . . 

Perfect day for all who like ‘farm stuff’– Karen Pasco:

Chugging, hissing, thudding and whirring, along with the smell of coal burning and smoky steam filling the air. There was no question — this was Edendale Crank Up Day 2020.

The sun shone as lawnmower races, tractor-pulling events, parades, novelty competitions and bands entertained spectators sitting up to eight-deep around the main ring on Saturday.

Thousands of tractor and traction engine enthusiasts, as well as people just looking for something fun to do, came to the annual three-day event hosted by the Edendale Vintage Machinery Club. . .

Let’s celebrate our frontrunners – entries open for PINZ Awards

Entries are now open for the national Primary Industries New Zealand Awards.

This year’s award winners will be presented at the Primary Industries Summit at Te Papa in Wellington on June 24.

“These awards are all about celebrating the significant achievements being made every week, every month and every year by New Zealand’s primary sector, and its supporters,” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . .

British farmers are not the enemy in the battle against climate crisis – Joe Stanley:

I am a farmer, the third generation to grow crops and pedigree beef cattle on my family’s modest farm on the edge of the picturesque Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire. Summer and autumn is primarily given over to long days of harvesting and planting crops while our 150 traditional longhorn cattle munch at grass; in the long winter nights, they come indoors to shelter and chew at hay harvested and stored in the spring.

Most of you reading this, I would wager, are not directly associated with agriculture. It might therefore be assumed that there’s a gulf between our plains of existence, that we do not and cannot understand each other. I believe this is a false assumption. . .


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