M bovis confirmed on 17 farms

January 19, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis has now been confirmed on 17 farms:

Three new properties have been identified as being infected with the Mycoplasma bovis bacterial cattle disease, bringing the total to 17, but the Ministry of Primary Industries still believes eradication is possible.

“Eradication still remains our prefered option. We have containment at the moment of the infected places to prevent further onward spread. Our belief is that the infection hasn’t been in the country for a large number of years and eradication is still firmly on the table,” David Yard, MPI incident controller, told BusinessDesk. “Clearly if it had been established and been silently dormant for 10 years or so, spreading from animal to animal, we would find it on a lot more farms or herds,” he said.

It might not have been here for 10 years but it is possible the disease was in New Zealand before it was first identified last year.

It’s also probable that it has spread further than the 17 farms which have been identified so far.

Mycoplasma bovis was first confirmed in July on two farms in South Canterbury, marking New Zealand’s first official outbreak of a disease that is present in many other countries. While the disease presents no food safety risk, it can cause a range of symptoms in cattle including mastitis that doesn’t respond to treatment, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. There are now nine infected properties in South Canterbury, five in Southland, two in Ashburton and one in Hawkes Bay.

Given it was detected seven months ago, 17 confirmed farms is “not a huge number” when you look at the number of dairy and even beef farms across the country, Yard said. There are about 12,000 dairy herds in New Zealand but some farms will have more than one herd.

According to Yard, a national milk testing programme will help determine whether there are any other pockets of infection in the country. Under the testing regime – slated to start in February – every dairy farm will provide three milk samples, one from bulk milk and two from discarded milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis.

Yard said the results should be ready by the end of March and “if we suddenly found that we have another 10 different pockets then that might change the ball game. We might say eradication is off the table and we are moving to containment or long-term management but that’s a very long bow to draw at the moment,” he said. . . 

But what if beef cattle are infected? They won’t be identified through milk testing.

MPI’s Yard said the ministry is not “chasing the disease as it spreads” but rather the increased number of infected farms is a reflection of MPI’s tracing and testing: “We are actually picking out properties that were probably already infected and we just now know about them.”

However, MPI expects to find more. “We do logically expect that because of the severity of the disease, in some areas, particularly down in the Southland area, further properties because the animals were quite heavily infected and there are have been large number of movements of young susceptible animals,” he said.

In an earlier email Thursday MPI said “we expect that more properties will become positive as our tracing and testing programmes continue to ramp up. From one farm in Ashburton alone, we anticipate tracing some 30 additional properties.” Not all, however, are necessarily infected.

Yard also said MPI is progressing with compensating affected farmers but that there is a process to be followed. He declined to give a dollar figure but said “obviously the cost escalates on a day-to-day basis because every time we serve a notice, those people are entitled to compensation.”

While it is difficult to estimate the final amount “it’s going to be quite a large sum,” he said.

Farmers and sharemilkers with infected herd will have lost at least many 10s of thousands of dollars through the loss of  stock and income.

Confirmation of the disease or concern about the potential for it has stymied the sale of stock for some farmers who rely on it for a considerable amount of their income.

The threat of the disease is causing a lot of stress for anyone with cattle and speculation over its origins isn’t helpful.

Federated Farmers National President Katie Milne says in the current circumstances “patience and a dose of realism” is required.

“Of course there is curiosity among farmers and the media as to how mycoplasma bovis started as it has never been detected before in New Zealand to our knowledge.

“This is a complex disease and there is a significant amount of resources going into testing and surveillance carried out by MPI and the industry.

“Farmers also have a role to play making sure traceability is up to scratch ensuring NAIT tagging and recording of all cattle and deer. We advise also an on-farm disinfecting policy, buffers on boundaries and quarantine of newly introduced stock to their properties.

“This should become part of a new best practice of making your farm a fortress when it comes to biosecurity,” says Katie.

Now that the disease has been identified on so many farms, every farmer with cattle, trucking firms and anyone else working or visiting farms must do everything possible to stop it spreading further.

The disease isn’t harmful to humans and milk and meat from infected animals is safe for consumption. But it compromises production and any ill health in stock also raises welfare issues.

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Rural round-up

January 16, 2018

Women’s shearing record set in ‘epic’ sporting feat:

A nine-hour slog to set a new world shearing record is being described as an ‘epic sporting feat’.

Kerri-Jo Te Huia sheared 452 ewes in a Wairarapa woolshed yesterday to set a record that no-one has held before: that for the women’s nine-hour strongwool ewe category.

Champion shearer Jills Angus Burney watched Ms Te Huia make history and said she did an amazing job. . . 

Growers’ dilemma: Killing a crop to survive the dry:

After a drought-inducing start to summer, fruit and vegetable growers are pleading for more dams to avoid having to kill off their own crops.

Much of the country has been facing water restrictions after the early dry season, with even the usually rain-soaked West Coast having declared drought conditions.

Canterbury went weeks without rain in November and December, and Wellington was forced to use reserve water two months earlier than usual.

Otago settlement Glenorchy was the latest affected with Queenstown Lakes District Council announcing restrictions this morning, asking residents to switch off all irrigation and automatic watering systems. . .

What does the future hold for NZ”s largest farm? – Alexa Cook:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is calling for public opinion about how New Zealand’s largest farm, Molesworth Station, should be managed.

The 180,000ha cattle station is owned by the government farmer Landcorp, which has a farming lease and grazing licence for the land.

A management plan for Molesworth was approved in 2013 with the intention of moving it from its traditional focus on farming to include more recreation and conservation activities.

The farming lease expires in two years, and Federated Farmers high country spokesperson Simon Williamson said it was crucial it remained a working station.

“It’s very important for that type of land that someone is maintaining it for the pests and weeds … and the public access side of it, if people get in trouble.” . . 

Close your farm borders to unwanted invaders – Katie Milne:

Here are some New Year resolutions for all of us who work the land: Treat your farm as a biosecurity fortress, with its defences tightened to shut out pest and disease threats.

Confirmation this week that the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present on a farm in the Ashburton area – bringing the number of infected properties around the nation to 14 – is the latest wake-up call.  All farms are at risk when it comes to pests and diseases.  Regarding Mycoplasma bovis, movement of infected animals is the main risk followed by animal to animal contact and transmission through milk and semen, but the disease can also be transferred directly on equipment such calving and AI equipment.

MPI staff work hard to knock out biosecurity threats at our airports and ports but they’re just the first line of defence.  You’re the fullback.  You need a game plan to repel weeds, bacteria and other harmful substances that would hurt your livelihood.

Now for those resolutions. . . 

Feds’ Hoggard urges farmers to pay backpackers regular rates – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says farmers should pay backpackers market rates if they want to keep a handy pool of casual labour and avoid volunteer workers.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled an organic farm near Christchurch breached worker rights by paying them $120 a week plus providing food and lodging irrespective of the hours worked, and claiming they were volunteers after a Labour Inspectorate investigation. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement that thousands of people had been exploited at the farm, working up to 40 hours a week and often as hired out labour at a profit for Robinwood Farms director and shareholder Julia Osselton. . . 

Canada’s Public Sector Pension Board gets OIO approval to buy $17.7M dairy farm and block – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, or PSP Investments, got a green light to buy a medium-sized dairy farm and a neighbouring dairy support block in Canterbury for $17.7 million just ahead of tougher requirements on land sales to foreign buyers.

Ramsay Dairy Farm, which is indirectly owned by PSP Investments, was granted consent to buy 335.2 hectares of land and 77.2 hectares of land in Hororata, Canterbury by the Overseas Investment Office.

According to the OIO, the properties will be amalgamated to create a larger dairy farm. “The applicant proposes to convert some of the dairy support land to create a larger milking platform, and to support increasing the total number of cows by approximately 400 cows,” it said in a summary of the decision.. . .

Butter prices drop almost 5 percent in December:

Butter, chocolate bars, and wholemeal bread prices all fell in December, Stats NZ said today. Tomatoes and nectarines were also cheaper, but avocado prices remain almost twice as expensive as they were a year ago.

After four successive monthly rises, butter prices dropped 4.9 percent in December 2017 to an average of $5.46 for the cheapest available 500g block. This compared with the previous month when they hit a record high of $5.74. Butter prices had been falling at international dairy auctions since October. . . 

MPI aims to wrap up PGP review by end of April – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The government’s review of the Primary Growth Partnership is underway, with the first phase due to be wrapped up by late January and the second by the end of April, with one programme partner providing feedback and ideas to date.

The research and development programme was launched in 2010 and, to date, government and industry have invested some $759 million in 22 programmes, with 16 still underway. In late November Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, who was critical of the programme while in opposition, called for a review, stating the new government needs to prioritise spending. . .

2018 Set To Be A Year Of Growth For Taratahi:

Taratahi’s efforts to attract new students has paid off with solid enrolments for 2018.

Taratahi upped its marketing and as a result, the definite enrolments for 2018 are looking great, says chief Executive Arthur Graves.

Arthur says the institutions taster courses have attracted large numbers of students.

“Taratahi and the wider primary industry have been promoting the job rich agricultural environments and extensive career pathways on offer and those campaigns are now yielding some great results. . . 


Rural round-up

December 20, 2017

Six suspected suicides of farmers ‘tragic’ – Alexa Cook:

A group representing young farmers says a spate of suicides over the past few weeks is tragic – but not surprising – after a really stressful year for the sector.

New Zealand Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said it’s been a really tough time for the farming community and there have been six suspected suicides in recent weeks.

“My understanding is that there were four young men in Canterbury last week that had taken their own lives.

“But also I’ve heard two in the Waikato as well, and one of them in the Waikato was one of our young farmer members … it’s tragic,” he said. . . 

Federated Farmers president’s message to workers after sudden deaths in rural communities

Farming groups are pleading with stressed workers to speak up if they need support in the wake of a series of deaths of young men across the country.

The Herald on Sunday understands four farmers died suddenly in the past few weeks, including a Hamilton City Young Farmer member, and a popular rodeo competitor in Canterbury. Both were aged in their 20s.

The coroner’s office has confirmed one of the deaths is before coroner Michael Robb.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne broke down in tears while speaking to the Herald on Sunday, saying she was becoming increasingly desperate to remind farmers that help was available if they needed it. . . 

The faces of disease-fearing farmers: Mycoplasma bovis meeting spills out of Southland hall – Dave Nicoll:

Farmers spilled out of a Winton hall as hundreds of them gathered at a meeting, concerned about the discovery of Mycoplasma bovis in Southland.

The Memorial Hall was packed to capacity with people standing, and even spilling outside as they waited to hear what the Ministry for Primary Industries had to say about the containment of the disease.

Ministry director of response Geoff Gwyn said the response team was working to identify where in Southland infected cattle had been moving, in an effort to contain the disease. . . 

Japan’s Itoham Yonekyu buys 100% of Anzco Foods as part of Asia growth strategy – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – Japanese-listed Itoham Yonekyu Holdings has received Overseas Investment Office approval to increase its shareholding of Anzco Foods to 100 percent, from the 65 percent it already owned.

Anzco was New Zealand’s second-largest meat company and fifth-largest exporter in 2016, with turnover of $1.5 billion and 3,000 employees. It was already 83.3 percent overseas owned, with 16.8 percent of the company held by Japanese marine products company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, known as Nissui, and the remaining 18.2 percent owned by the company’s chair Graeme Harrison and management. Harrison will step down at the company’s next annual meeting in March, having signalled his plans for retirement in 2015. . . 

What do we do? Agriculture in the age of synthetic food – William Ray:

Meatless meats and milkless milks seem to be just over the horizon and with many companies aiming to undercut the price of the ‘real’ stuff there’s the potential for a real threat to the New Zealand economy.

In this special episode of Our Changing World, William Ray investigates.

“We’ve got chicken or beef!” yells comedian Ben Hurley from an ad in my Facebook feed (cue sound effects for clucking chickens and mooing cattle).

“Wow, that’s absolutely delicious!” gushes a smiling stranger, which is the only polite response when someone hands you a free taco and pushes a microphone into your face.

Now the big reveal: “Do you know what… that’s 100 percent plant based!” (cue record scratch sound effect). . . 

Social licence and NZ aquaculture:

Research from the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge has found that personal relationships go a long way towards aquaculture companies gaining/maintaining community acceptance and social licence to operate.

Interviews with aquaculture, fishing and enviro community groups have revealed that social licence to operate (SLO) is easily lost – or absent – if a company’s relationship is purely transactional; ie if links with the local community are solely business-related.

“Relational relationships, where one or more employees have personal as well as professional relationships with community, go a very long way to gaining and maintaining SLO,” said Peter Edwards, a co-author of the paper and a Political Scientist at Scion. “In other words, these employees are part of community life.” . . 

Director election for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island electoral district:

A Director election will be held for Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Northern North Island electoral district after three nominations were received.

Martin Coup of Aria, Murray Jagger of Whangarei and Ross Wallis of Raglan will stand as candidates to replace current Northern North Island director and chairman James Parsons, who announced last month he was not seeking re-election. . . 


Where else is M Bovis?

December 14, 2017

Mycoplasma bovis has been found in the North Island and Southland.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has identified 4 new properties as positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and strongly suspects one further property.

One of the latest infected properties is in the Hastings district, the other 3 are within a farming enterprise in Winton. The suspect property is near Ashburton.

MPI’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn says early indications are that all the properties have links with the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) through cattle movements.

“The Hastings and Ashburton properties were identified through our tracing programme and the Winton property was identified through the industry milk testing programme.

“All of the movements we have been tracing are prior to 21 July, when the disease was first detected and notified to MPI.

The stock on these properties all has links back to the property where the disease was first identified.

The problem is no-one knows where it came from and how it got there.

It is possible, maybe probable, it is on other farms but hasn’t been identified which raises the question of where else it might be.

It carries no risk to people but it is serious in cattle and spreads from animal to animal.

“The Hastings and Winton properties are now under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act. This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm. The suspect property is under voluntary movement controls until their status is confirmed. MPI is working closely with them.

Mr Gwyn says these new developments are not good news.
“We’re still analysing what this means for the wider response. We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Our investigators are building a picture of stock movements onto and off these farms so we will not be making hasty decisions on next steps.

“While it’s really disappointing to have these new properties, it is not totally unexpected. We know that this disease is spread through contact between animals and through the movement of stock – as is the case here.

“It was always possible further infected properties would be found, buying, selling and moving stock is a common practice in farming. A key part of our response has been identifying and investigating animals that have moved to or from affected properties before Mycoplasma bovis was first detected. This tracing is complex detective work which takes time.

“I know an obvious question people will have is ‘Why has it taken this long to find these properties?’. The answer to that lies with the nature of this particular bacteria.

“It is a tricky thing to find and often hides within an animal, lying dormant and not revealing itself for weeks or months. Some cattle may be infected and never show signs of the disease. This is why we test multiple times using multiple kinds of tests. Sometimes to confirm the disease we have to test organ tissue from animals at slaughter as was the case in Hastings.

This is a very slow process which is frustrating and concerning  for everyone involved but the diffiuclty in identifying infected animals isn’t peculiar to Mycoplasma bovis.

Some cows in our herd tested positive for TB several years ago. The infected cows were killed, the herd was tested again and any cow that reacted was killed – most didn’t have the disease.

The herd eventually tested all clear but a couple of years later we got another positive test. We went through the same process and eventually the herd was cleared.

Some time after that a cow from our original herd dried herself off and was culled. When she was killed she was found to be riddled with TB. The vets said that was the carrier they’d been looking for and, if I understand what they said correctly, her system hadn’t reacted to the multiple tests she’d undergone because it was busy fighting the disease.

Mr Gwyn said MPI is continuing with its policy of not naming the affected properties if the owners did not want this.

MPI is prevented from doing otherwise by the Privacy Act. However, we do understand community concern about the disease and we are strongly encouraging farmers under controls or investigation to talk to their neighbours, customers and suppliers.”

That would be my advice.

Neighbours and anyone coming on to the farms will know which properties are under controls and the grapevine will be spreading the news.

It’s far better to be up front and give the facts than to let rumours spread based on only part of the story and misinformation.

Mr Gwyn said the depopulation programme is almost complete on the infected Van Leeuwen properties and is on track to be completed before Christmas. To date over 3,500 animals have been culled.

“Our extensive testing and tracing work also continues. So far the MPI lab has completed over 55,000 tests and our investigators have followed up 250 properties around the country.

“We encourage all farmers and rural contractors to help protect their farms and businesses by following standard on-farm hygiene best practice and to ensure their NAIT and all farm records are kept up to date.” Full information on hygiene measures and other resources are available on the MPI website.

“This is a really tough time for all the affected farmers who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own. MPI, Rural Support Trusts and industry are supporting them but they will also need support from their neighbours and communities, especially at what is already a stressful time of year.”

MPI will be holding a public meeting in the Hastings area on the evening of Wednesday, 20 December. Time and venue are to be confirmed. Keep an eye of the MPI Facebook page for event details.

Federated Farmers echoes the advice on hygiene measures:

Good on-farm biosecurity and accurate tracing of animal movement is not an option in today’s world, it’s an imperative, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said.

Positive tests for Mycoplasma bovis in herds in Hastings and Winton (Southland) and a suspected case in Ashburton further underline the need for farmers to treat biosecurity measures on their own properties as a top priority.

Federated Farmers and other industry leaders remain committed to eradicating Mycoplasma bovis, even though today’s announcement makes that a bigger but by no means impossible challenge, Katie said.

“Don’t rely on others to protect your patch, protect it yourself. In the end, we are all biosecurity officers with a role to play.”

Establishing a 1.5m buffer along fence lines with neighbouring properties should be standard practice. Where practical that could be a vegetation buffer, which would deliver biosecurity and biodiversity benefits. Close and repeated contact with an infected animal is still regarded as the most likely way Mycoplasma bovis is spread. As one farmer said at a recent meeting, “losing some grazing is a small cost compared to losing your herd”.

If vets and AI technicians are visiting your property make sure they have thoroughly cleaned their equipment before they arrive and do so before they leave, and provide hot water and disinfectant for their hands and equipment. Consider making a footbath and a scrubbing brush handy for the boots of all visitors coming onto, and leaving, your farm.

“Think about your own actions too. If you’re visiting a neighbour, clean your boots and any gear you might bring,” Katie said.

“Making sure your NAIT records are right up to date, giving special attention to recording stock movements. 100% compliance with traceability requirements [NAIT and Animal Status Declaration (ASD)] is not only vital for biosecurity but increasingly important as we sell our high quality product to discerning customers.”

Where practical, limit cattle movements onto your farm. Mycoplasma bovis can be present in apparently healthy animals and there is currently no sufficiently reliable, pre-movement test that can be applied to detect latent or hidden infection. Farmers with leased/loaned terminal bulls may need to think about sending them straight to slaughter. This may well mean a change in practice, but it’s well worth thinking about and discussing with the bulls’ owner.

Federated Farmers does not know who the newly-affected farmers are as their privacy is important, Katie said. “We certainly extend our best wishes to them in what will be a stressful time, and we will continue to work closely with MPI and other sector groups on this sensitive and vital issue.

“Federated Farmers has been helping affected farmers where we can and as we are asked. I encourage any of the new farmers to contact us or their local Rural Support Trust if they have any questions or want assistance.”

Other biosecurity measures farmers can take are listed on the MPI’s web page.

MPI knows where the disease was first identified but nobody knows where it came from.

Any farm with cattle could be harbouring the disease without knowing it.


Rural round-up

December 6, 2017

Wrapping bales a job for kings – Liam Hehir:

If I could do anything with my life, it would be this…

When you grow up on a small farm you find that weird affections stay with you for the rest of your life. For example, the whiff of silage is really comforting to me. Same with cows first thing in the morning and the relentless beat of the engine room in the shed. It’s weird.

Then there are things like the wonderful feeling that comes with walking home after the morning milking, the day still crisp and new. Getting in bone tired from a miserable day, kicking off your boots and overalls and drying off in front of the fire is another one. So is letting a bunch calves into a paddock for the first time since they were born — the sigh of which will never not make me smile.

But nothing ever made me happier than the prospect of wrapping baleage in the early summer. If there were some way I could do that for a job and support my family, I’d take it in a heartbeat. Not even joking. . . 

European Meat Sector issues dire warning about impact of hard Brexit – Allan Barber:

The European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV), the body that represents producers, consumers and distributors of meat, has commissioned a report entitled The EU Meat Industry in a hard Brexit scenario – CRISIS. The major finding of the report concludes the impact of a hard Brexit would be a catastrophic disaster for both UK and Europe because of the reversion to WTO tariff arrangements.

A hard Brexit would arise if there is no agreement between the UK and Europe on key issues – divorce bill, the Irish border, citizens’ rights, future trade relationship – by the end of March 2019 when the notice period expires. At this point, nearly 18 months since the referendum voted to leave the EU and eight months since the final exit date was triggered, but looking at it from the outside British negotiators had made no tangible progress at all until an announcement of an unspecified agreement on the exit cost late last week. . . 

“Knack’ required to work with deer – Yvonne O’Hara:

Logan Bain and Caleb Neilson are among the next generation of deer farmers.

Both work at Landcorp’s Thornicroft Station near Lake Mahinerangi and both are interested in deer and can imagine their futures linked to the industry in some way.

Mr Neilson (22) is the station’s deer manager, along with station manager Lindsay Cunningham.

Mr Bain (21) has just finished his last year at Lincoln University and was on his second day as shepherd at the station when Southern Rural Life talked to him.

Mr Neilson starting working with the station’s sheep and cattle before moving to the deer unit, which has about 2500 hinds plus fawns, and 100 stags.

He grew up on a sheep and beef farm in the Maniototo but had always liked deer. . . 

Farmers’ Satisfaction with Banks Remains Stable, Survey Shows:

The level of investment required in modern dairy farming is underlined in the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey, with the size of mortgages and the number of dairy farms with overdrafts increasing.

Across dairy and non-dairy sectors, three quarters of the 480 farmers who responded to the survey said they felt under the same pressure from their banks as six months ago. Eight per cent said they felt under more pressure and just under 10 per cent were feeling less pressure. . . 

New podiTRAP a long time in the making – Kate Guthrie:

Inventing a new kind of trap can be a slow kind of process. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re on that journey until you’re well on your way. Take the podiTRAP for example. It’s probably still a year away from commercial release, but the podiTRAP may well be ‘the tool to use’ in the future.

“I never expected it to be where it is now,” says its inventor, Pouri Rakete-Stones. “It’s evolved into this big monster project!”

Pouri is an engineer by trade. He spent 10 years as a fitter/welder, doing research and development work on machinery, before getting involved with Hawkes Bay kiwi conservation and outdoor education organisation ECOED in 2010. . . 

Bugs as snacks among UF/IFAS experts’ predicted 2018 food trends – Brad Buck:

From eating bugs for protein to raising chickens in your backyard to eat their eggs, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts say some food trends grow in popularity over time. Here are the food trends for 2018, as predicted by some UF/IFAS faculty:

Are you bug-eyed for protein?

Insects are trending as a food source and are now being termed “micro-livestock,” said Rebecca Baldwin, a UF/IFAS associate professor of entomology. In fact, a chef who advocates for edible insects has attracted the attention of the Entomological Society of America and will speak to the group in Denver in November. . .


Rural round-up

December 3, 2017

Winner learned it all along the way – Nicole Sharp:

Debra Cruikshank is a woman on a mission, writes Nicole Sharp.

Winning the Supreme award at the Enterprising Rural Women Awards in Invercargill recently, Ms Cruikshank was overwhelmed.

The Tannacrieff Wines and DC Wines owner, as she puts it, sort of fell into winemaking.

From day one on her journey with her own business, she knew she had to create a niche market and she has done just that.

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve learned along the way.”

It is only a small business, so Ms Cruikshank puts her hand to everything and at busy times of the year turns into a bit of a superwoman.

Trying her hand with port, her most recent venture, she has had to teach herself a lot, she said. . .

Growers rapt about early fruit, weather – Tom Kitchin:

It’s looking like a bumper fruit season for Central Otago, and happy fruit producers may be in line to break some records.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and 45 South orchard CEO Tim Jones, of Cromwell, said everyone was talking about the record warm weather.

“We’re 10 to 14 days ahead of where we’d normally be. The only thing that would affect that right now would be substantial rain.

“It’s looking like a record crop for cherries.”

So far, his cherry orchard in Cromwell had plenty of people knocking on the door for work, he said, and that was fine, because he might need more workers than ever. . . 

Record lambing percentage for NZ sheep farmers:

A record lambing percentage underpins a lift in lamb numbers, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Lamb Crop 2017 report.

Research by B+LNZ’s Economic Service estimates the number of lambs tailed in spring 2017 was 23.7 million head, up 1.9 per cent (436,000 head) on the previous spring.

The average ewe lambing percentage for 2017 was 127.2, up 4.4 percentage points on last year and up 6.4 percentage points on the 10-year average (2008-09 to 2017-18) of 120.8 per cent.

Overall, this means 127 lambs were born per hundred ewes compared with an average of 121 over the last 10 years. For spring 2017, a one percentage point change in the New Zealand ewe lambing percentage is equivalent to 178,000 lambs. . . 

Healthy velvet sales sought – Annette Scott:

The deer industry is embarking on a joint venture health project with one of South Korea’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

Deer Industry New Zealand had agreed to support Yuhan Corporation in its plan to develop and market a product with proven health benefits based on NZ deer velvet.

In a world first, Yuhan’s objective was to successfully develop, register and market a health food product containing scientifically validated components of NZ deer velvet.

Yuhan chief executive Jung Hee Lee and DINZ chief executive Dan Coup signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this month. . . 

New Zealand needs to pull ahead of world on agri-innovation – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand must pull ahead of the rest of the world in agri-food innovation in order to retain a competitive advantage, speakers told the Ministry for Primary Industry’s food and fibre innovation conference on Thursday.

“We need to be in a better position to respond to challenges like increased competition, potentially disruptive technologies such as synthetic alternatives and environmental and climatic impacts,” said Martyn Dunne, MPI’s director general. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 14, 2017

Landpro director gets time away – Sally Rae:

Otago’s Solis Norton and Kate Scott were recently named among the latest crop of Nuffield scholars. They talk to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about their work and the adventure that lies ahead.

Kate Scott quips that Landpro — the Central Otago-based planning and surveying company she jointly founded a decade ago — is “taking over the world, one small regional town at a time”.

From a staff of one to about 30 now, the business expanded  incrementally as its reputation grew, with more people and disciplines added, and there were long-term goals to maintain that growth.

An office was established in Cromwell 10 years ago and there were now also offices in Gore and New Plymouth. . . 

Passionate about energy – Sally Rae:

“It will be an adventure.”

So says Solis Norton, of Port Chalmers, who has been named a 2018 Nuffield scholar, along with Simon Cook (Te Puke), Andy Elliot (Nelson), Turi McFarlane (Banks Peninsula) and Kate Scott (Central Otago).

He expected it would be a  very busy time but  was looking forward to making the most of the opportunity.

Dr Norton grew up in Dunedin’s Northeast Valley and went to Massey University, where he completed a bachelor in agricultural science degree in 1996, a masters degree in applied science and then a PhD in the epidemiology of Johne’s disease in New Zealand dairy herds. . . 

North Island leaders up for Australasian agri-business award:

Three diverse and inspirational young agribusiness leaders have been selected from across Australasia as finalists for the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.
The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour for the industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

Lisa Kendall, 25, hails from Auckland, and is owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd, a business she established to provide agricultural services to people in and around her home city. She was a Grand Finalist in the 2017 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, and took out the People’s Choice Award, the AgriGrowth Challenge and the Community Footprint Award. Kendall plays an active role in schools, encouraging urban students to consider the career opportunities in agriculture. She is also vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club. . . 

Joint efforts on water quality – Rebecca Nadge:

The Otago Regional Council is working with Central Otago farmers in a bid to monitor and improve water quality in the area.

At a meeting in Omakau last week, local farmers discussed the strategy with ORC environmental resource scientist Rachel Ozanne and environmental officer Melanie Heather.

The plan involves ongoing testing of water at Thompson’s Creek in a cross-section of three tributaries, as well as regular monitoring in Waipiata and Bannockburn.
Ms Ozanne said the project would continue until May, with testing carried out on a fortnightly basis. . . 

Strong interest shown for Future Farm programme:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s search for a “Future Farm” is in its final stages and farmers are being urged to get in touch if they’re interested in being part of this unique programme.

B+LNZ is seeking to lease a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 stock units for the Future Farm, which will trial new technologies and farm systems. . .

TPP agreement safeguards New Zealand’s export sector:

Federated Farmers congratulates Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition government for recognising the importance of free trade to New Zealand.

Following a frenetic few days of negotiations at the APEC summit in Vietnam, the New Zealand Trade delegation has succeeded in brokering agreement with 11 countries from the Asia-Pacific region- to move the deal forward.

Federated Farmers thanks all the Ministers and officials involved for their dedication and resolve. . . 

CPTPP important to maintain competitiveness:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the progress made towards realisation of a TPP agreement (now referred to as CPTPP).

“Timely implementation of the CPTPP market access arrangements is necessary to ensure New Zealand exporters do not end up at a tariff disadvantage into one of our largest dairy markets” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther

The trade dynamic for dairy in the trans-pacific region has evolved in recent months with the European Union and Japan concluding negotiation of an FTA agreement which delivers market access gains to European dairy exporters similar to those agreed for New Zealand under TPP.  . . 

Cultivate With Care After Big Wet – Bala Tikkisetty

Following the wettest winter on record, farmers are currently cultivating their paddocks for pasture or crop rotation.

As they do so, it’s important to be aware of and manage the associated environmental risks.

Sediment and nutrients from farming operations, along with erosion generally, are some of the most important causes of reduced water quality and cultivation increases the potential for problems. . . 

Argentina is saying hello to the world again – Pedro

We’re saying hello to the world again.

That’s the simplest way to understand last month’s elections in Argentina, in which the party of reform-minded President Mauricio Macri made important legislative gains, picking up seats in both chambers of our Congress.

 

As a farmer in Argentina, I’m pleased by this political victory—but I’m even more encouraged by what it means for my country’s general direction.

For too long, we’ve faced inward rather than outward. Although Argentina grows a huge amount of food and depends on global trade for its prosperity, we have behaved as if none of this mattered. The previous government slapped huge export taxes on farm products and didn’t consider the consequences. We stepped away from the world market.

This wasn’t my decision, but rather the decision of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the head of the Peronist Party. When she took office a decade ago, export taxes were already high—and she worked to raise them even more.

The American President Ronald Reagan once made a wise observation: “If you want less of something, tax it.” . .

Vietnamese farmers flourish in the Northern Territory to become Top End’s top growers – Kirsty O’Brien:

Michael Quatch arrived in Australia as a refugee of the Vietnam War. Now he is one of the most successful growers in the Northern Territory.

During picking season, work starts well before sunrise and does not end, but Mr Quatch is not complaining — he snags a few hours of rest here and there as he works hard to get the fresh produce from his farm at Lake Bennet in the Top End onto supermarket shelves.

The 45-year-old is the biggest hydroponic farmer in the Northern Territory, running 16 hectares of shaded cropping mainly producing tomatoes and cucumbers.

But Mr Quatch had to overcome obstacles difficult to fathom when you first meet this jovial, optimistic farmer. . . 

 


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