Rural round-up

November 19, 2018

The sky’s the limit –  Andrew Stewart::

Intergenerational knowledge has long been a sort of secret ingredient to success in sheep and beef farming in New Zealand. Though that component was vital in the early years of Tom and Sarah Wells farming careers they are also using their passion, drive and determination to forge their own brand of sustainably farmed products. Andrew Stewart reports.

Both Tom and Sarah Wells used to work in completely non farm careers. 

Sarah was a television journalist covering breaking news in a time poor, mentally draining role. 

“I grew up mustering with my father on horseback on the station and I wanted to be a shepherd right through school but somehow lost my way,” she said.

“But there was always a pull back towards the farm.” . . 

 

Farmer tells hearing of importance of irrigation -Mark Price:

The complexities of farming with irrigation in the Lindis and Ardgour valleys of the Upper Clutha were spelled out at an Environment Court hearing in Cromwell this week.

Bruce Jolly, who owns 3000ha “Ardgour” farm, which has 160ha of irrigated land, was the final witness before the hearing was adjourned until January 28.

After seven days of evidence from hydrologists, ecologists and specialists on trout, Judge Jon Jackson ended the hearing a day earlier than planned, admitting in a light-hearted moment, he was somewhat “overwhelmed” and needed a day to reflect on what he had heard.

The Otago Fish & Game Council is arguing 900litres per second of water flowing in the river is required to sustain the brown trout population, while the Lindis Catchment Group (LCG) considers 550litres per second is necessary to sustain irrigation systems. . . 

Council ruminating on re-run rules :

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council is working on the rules for the next election to fill the vacancy on the board that resulted from the incomplete 2018 director election.

Council chairman Duncan Coull said there is a range of scenarios and potentially the second election will not be held until early next year.

The constitution gives discretionary powers over the election procedure to the council and therefore the possibilities are quite wide-ranging, he said.

In the meantime, the board can appoint an interim director but not be one of the three unsuccessful candidates – Ashley Waugh, Jamie Tuuta and John Nicholls. . . 

Tahi Ngātahi enters the workplace:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see a new safety initiative made accessible for the wool industry workforce.

Education is key to improving most aspects of someone’s life, says Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne.

With that attitude in mind it is great to see the successful launch of health and safety programme Tahi Ngātahi at the New Zealand Agricultural Show today, she says. . . 

Sanford’s move up the value chain overcomes climatic vicissitudes –  Jenny Ruth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford says annual earnings fell short of its expectations due to “challenging” climatic conditions leading to a decline in harvest volumes.

However, that impact was more than compensated for by the company’s efforts to extract more value from both its wild and farmed fish and seafood and its underlying earnings rose 1.5 percent.

The fishing company lifted net profit 12.9 percent for the year ended September to $42.3 million, but that was largely driven by an insurance settlement for damage caused to its Havelock mussel processing facility by the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016. . . 

Te Wera forest agreements secures growth for Taranaki :

China Forestry Group NZ (CFGNZ) is once again backing local wood processing with a ground-breaking agreement on harvesting and processing wood from Taranaki’s largest forest.

China Forestry Group NZ and Taranakipine sawmill in New Plymouth have signed a supply agreement today that supports long term wood processing in New Plymouth and employment for the 170 workers at Taranakipine. It’s another initiative that demonstrates China Forestry Group NZ’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand. . . 

Apple and stonefruit industry members pleased relationship between MPI and US facility now heading in the right direction, but it is just the start for MPI :

The nursery and fruit-growing companies at the heart of the legal action against MPI over seized apple and stonefruit plants and plant material have been working hard to facilitate the rebuilding of the relationship between MPI and the USA-based Clean Plant Centre North West (CPCNW).

Overnight last night at the CPCNW facility in Prosser, Washington, representatives from MPI held their first face-to-face meeting with members of the CPCNW since a discontinued audit in March. . . 

B+LNZ calls for director nominations for annual meeting:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) today announced nominations have opened for two B+LNZ director roles and one position on its Directors’ Independent Remuneration Committee (DIRC).

Under the requirements of the B+LNZ constitution, two electoral district directors and one existing DIRC member retire by rotation at the Annual Meeting. . . 


Rural round-up

November 7, 2018

Farmers re-elect dissident ex-director Leonie Guiney to Fonterra board – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group shareholders have effectively delivered a rebuke to the sitting board by voting to elect outspoken former director Leonie Guiney to the board while failing to support two of three board nominations.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride was also elected to the cooperative’s governance team, but board-backed Maori commercial leader Jamie Tuuta and an incumbent director, Ashleigh Waugh, both failed to gain the 50 percent support required for election to the board, as did self-nominated candidate John Nicholls, leaving one board seat unfilled ahead of Thursday’s annual meeting in Lichfield. . .

Early testing indicates Mycoplasma bovis eradication still possible – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Early results from nationwide bulk milk testing for Mycoplasma bovis suggests eradication remains possible, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

To date, more than 51,000 of approximately 70,000 tests have been completed and only three farms have been confirmed to have the cattle disease.

Testing to date reinforces the theory the country is facing a single strain of the bacterial infection that affects cows. . .

 

Renewed FTA deal unlikely to bear more benefits for dairy industry – Craig McCulloch:

New Zealand looks highly unlikely to secure a better deal for dairy exporters as part of an improved free trade agreement with China. 

Under the current agreement, New Zealand’s dairy products are hit with higher tariffs once they reach a certain amount.

Those limits automatically expire by 2022 and 2024, but the dairy industry had hoped to bring those dates forward as part of negotiations to upgrade the overall deal. . .

Feds optimistic about local government review:

The thoroughness of an issues paper released today on local government funding and financing is cause for optimism, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“The Productivity Commission’s paper sets out key topics as it investigates what drives local government costs now and into the foreseeable future, and invites people to comment on the shortcomings of current systems, as well as suggest alternatives. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year 2019 nominations now open:

As Dairy Women’s Network nears the end of its 20th anniversary, it’s launching into its next celebration by announcing the opening of nominations for the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Next year will mark the eighth year for the prestigious award which celebrates women who have made outstanding contributions to New Zealand’s dairy industry.

Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton says with 2019 her first Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Awards as CEO, she’s looking forward to celebrating the leadership and diversity of women in the dairy industry.

Research forum helps build New Zealand’s primary sector workforce:

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) is set to host a one-day research forum for organisations, businesses and government agencies interested in building the human capability of New Zealand’s primary sectors.

Delegates will be updated with the latest analysis, research and various initiatives relating to the sector’s workforce. “For our primary sectors to continue leading the world,” PICA’s CEO Michelle Glogau says, “we need to attract and retain a diverse range of people with different talents in a diverse range of roles. Robotics engineers, geneticists, farm managers…We need 50,000 more people to join the sector by 2025.” . . 


Rural round-up

November 1, 2018

The sun must never set on New Zealand’s agriculture – Keith Woodford:

 These are increasingly troubled times for New Zealand agriculture. A significant proportion of the population has turned against farmers for environmental reasons relating to nutrient leaching and water quality. There is also a loud political narrative about methane from ruminant animals and the need to reduce livestock numbers.

There is also a group of agricultural doomsayers who state that new plant-based foods and even totally artificial foods can mimic meat, and that they will do so at much cheaper cost than the real thing. And finally, there is an increasing group of consumers who are committed to vegan diets for perceived health reasons or relating to personal ethical perspectives. . . 

On the home straight to CPTPPP benefits:

It’s been a long and sometimes bumpy road to achieving a Pacific Rim trade deal but New Zealand producers and our economy will soon reap the benefits, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We’re on the home straight. The required six nations have now ratified the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the countdown has started towards the first round of tariff cuts early next year. . . 

CPTPP move momentous for NZ:

ExportNZ says today’s CPTPP ratification by Australia is a momentous day for New Zealand.

Australia’s ratification today of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership has now delivered the quorum required to start the process leading to the CPTPP taking force.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says the CPTPP deal, a tantalising prospect for years, will now become a reality by the end of this year. . .

Bee Keepers Can Now Check Seasonal Weather Outlooks Against High Resolution Land Cover:

Summer likely to lack widespread monthly extremes in temperature and precipitation

The rapidly growing honey industry in New Zealand has had some weather challenges over the last few years. As Karin Kos noted regarding the 2017 season ‘very dry and windy weather was not conducive to honey and due to the nature of the industry unfortunately it is weather dependent’. Bees also find different land covers to exploit depending on the weather with pastures, indigenous forest and manuka/kanuka forests if made available being just a few examples of how bees can change their diet when weather vagaries occur
. . .

Guy Trafford summarises the debate around how we should deal with methane emissions, and introduces you to the global regulation of SLCPs:

The issue around methane is not going to go away. In the last couple of days two respectable and well known identities have commented.

Phil Journeax, currently with AgFirst and previously with MPI as an economist, and Rod Oram a well-known commentator particularly on things rural. They have both tackled the issue around methane, and climate change from different angles.

Largely both correct but could be talking about two totally different things. Confused? It’s likely to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Cars or lisevstock which contribute more to climate change? – Anne Mottet and Henning Steinfeld:

The pitfalls of simplification when looking at greenhouse gas emissions from livestock What we choose to eat, how we move around and how these activities contribute to climate change is receiving a lot of media attention. In this context, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and transport are often compared, but in a flawed way. The comparison measures direct emissions from transport against both direct and indirect emissions from livestock. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identifies and monitors human activities responsible for climate change and reports direct emissions by sectors. The IPCC estimates that direct emissions from transport (road, air, rail and maritime) account for 6.9 gigatons per year, about 14% of all emissions from human activities. These emissions mainly consist of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from fuel combustion. By comparison, direct emissions from livestock account for 2.3 gigatons of CO2 equivalent, or 5% of the total. They consist of methane and nitrous oxide from rumen digestion and manure management. Contrary to transport, agriculture is based on a large variety of natural processes that emit (or leak) methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide from multiple sources. While it is possible to “de-carbonize” transport, emissions from land use and agriculture are much more difficult to measure and control. . . 


Rural round-up

August 22, 2018

Co-op directors getting harder to find: Farmlands chairman – Andrea Fox:

Attracting directors for cooperatives is getting harder the fewer there are and the bigger they get, says Farmlands chairman Lachie Johnstone as the $2 billion revenue rural services business kicks off director elections.

Three seats are up for election as two long-serving directors step down and a third, Silver Fern Farms chairman and Clutha farmer Rob Hewett by rotation seeks another term.

Leaving the top table this year are Marlborough-based Joe Ferraby, who has been a director more than 20 years, including his time on farm services company CRT which merged with Farmlands in 2013, and Bay of Plenty dairy farmer and orchardist David Jensen. . .

 

Wool protein could boost digestive health – Esther Taunton:

Work to find new uses for wool has revealed the fibre could have digestive health benefits.

AgResearch scientists have found adding wool proteins to the diets of domestic cats improved their digestive health and could potentially do the same for people. 

“There is a lot of work going on to discover new uses of wool to support the sheep industry in New Zealand,” said Jolon Dyer, AgResearch’s science group leader for food and bio-based products.

“The research is telling us that sheep wool has many useful attributes and one of those now appears to be proteins derived from the wool that could be used as a dietary supplement to improve digestion and nutrition, and therefore overall health.”    . . .

Finding a better way to achieve our sustainability goals on farm:

Charlotte Rutherford, Fonterra’s General Manager of Sustainable Dairying is always looking for new ways to support the Co-op’s farmers in achieving their sustainability goals.

This month, Fonterra marks the one-year anniversary of TIAKI – our sustainable dairying programme that helps farmers make their operations more environmentally compliant. In doing so we will also celebrate more than 1,000 Fonterra farmers who now have a tailored improvement plan to help address environmental risks on-farm. Achieving this wasn’t easy and while a significant amount of progress was made pre-Tiaki it often felt like we were trying push a rock uphill. We knew there had to be a better way. . .

eShepherd creates a virtual fence – Nicola Bell:

FARMERS across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the UK will soon be using world-first virtual fencing technology.

The eShepherd technology by ­agritech start-up Agersens allows a farmer to create a virtual fence and remotely monitor, muster and move cattle, using a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Just like a traditional fence, a virtual fence is used to control the location of livestock and has huge potential for beef and dairy herds. . . 

Anti-meat message hurting poor countries – Shan Goodwin:

THE push to eat less meat in developed countries is posing threats to efforts to improve livestock production efficiency in poor countries, where there is no choice but to under-consume animal foods.

This message emerged from discussions among global livestock specialists at the Crawford Fund annual conference in Canberra this week around the need to reshape agriculture to address the increasingly competing needs of the hungry and the over-nourished and the finite resources of the environment.

Anti-livestock rhetoric missed some big points about the vital role of livestock in poorer countries, according to Dr Anna Okello, associate research program manager of livestock systems at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. . . 

Third of farmed fruit and veg deemed to ugly to sell:

More than a third of farmed fruit and vegetables never reaches supermarket shelves because it is misshapen or the wrong size, according to new research.

A University of Edinburgh study found more than 50 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown across Europe were discarded each year.

This was in part because they did not meet consumers’ expectations of how they should look.

The study was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. . .


Rural round-up

August 15, 2018

Appeal decision a win for irrigators but more work needs to be done:

An appeal to Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 nutrient modelling rules has been resolved with a major win achieved for irrigators, says IrrigationNZ.

A Hearings Panel on the Plan Change proposed a new requirement that would have effectively required that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. It was estimated that this change would cost irrigators $300 million.

All parties to the appeal agreed that an error in law had been made when the Hearing Panel introduced this as a new requirement because no submitter had asked for this change.

INZ carried out testing on 300 irrigation systems in Ashburton and Selwyn districts over two summers recently which found that older spray irrigation systems can achieve good levels of water efficiency if regular checking and maintenance is carried out

First M bovis case confirmed near Motueka in Tasman – Sara Meij:

The first case of M. Bovis has been confirmed in the Nelson region.

Biosecurity New Zealand said on Tuesday a property near Motueka, in the Tasman district, had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease.

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm.

The farm was identified through tracing animals from known infected farms and it was now under a Restricted Place Notice, which meant it was in “quarantine lockdown”, restricting the movement of animals and other “risk goods” on and off the farm. . .

At the grassroots: farmers contribute too – John Barrow:

I recently returned a little disappointed from the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch.

From a dairy farmer’s perspective I was disappointed at the lack of recognition of the cost of farming and issues we are facing – all the emphasis was on urban.

The conference theme was We are Firmly Focused on the Future: Future Proofing for a Prosperous and Vibrant NZ. . .

Draft report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids for the season just ended.

The report does not cover the forecast 2018/19 price of $7.00 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success.

MOBH Farm, an equity partnership made up of Kevin Hall, Tim Montgomerie, Jodie Heaps and Mark Turnwald, won two category awards as well as being named the supreme winner at the 2018 Dairy Business of the Year awards (DBOY). . .

Farmers rally around Cancer Society fundraiser at Feilding Hogget Fair – Paul Mitchell:

The rural community is banding together to get behind the Cancer Society, with personal connections running as deep as their pockets.

The annual Hogget Fair at the Feilding Stockyards on Wednesday is one of the biggest in New Zealand. For the second year running, farmers will donate sheep to help those who are doing it tough.

The money raised from selling the sheep will go directly to supporting Manawatū-Whanganui cancer patients. . .

Rare heifer triplets thriving on Taieri farm – Sally Rae:

Holy cow – it’s a girl. Or in the case of a heifer calving on a Taieri dairy farm last week, it was a gaggle of girls, handful of heifers.

The first-calver produced a very rare set of heifer triplets on the Miller family’s farm at Maungatua. Andrew Miller and his father Jim had never encountered triplet calves before.

Andrew was particularly amazed the Kiwi-cross calves had all survived and were now doing well in the calf shed. . .

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Beware council well-beings

July 5, 2018

Giving councils the power to put well-beings before core services poses big risks for ratepayers:

Federated Farmers says a return to a looser legislative mandate for local government activities presents a “depressing scenario” for those who foot the bill – ratepayers.

Feds President Katie Milne fronted the Government Administration Select Committee this morning and said farmers were deeply concerned that proposed changes will act as an impetus for higher local government spending and rates.

The Local Government (Community Well-being Amendment) Bill also “puts the cart before the horse” because the Productivity Commission hasn’t yet started its local government inquiry.

“Park this Bill at least until the Commission has done the grunt work and sorted out the drivers of council spending and recommended how councils should be funded in future,” Katie said.

Federated Farmers believed the vast majority of ratepayers favour the current purpose statement for local government, to provide good quality local infrastructure, local public services and legislative functions “…in a way that is most cost effective for households and businesses…”.

The bill proposes a return to the so-called ‘four well-beings’ purpose, where local authorities “…promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities…”, with no mention of cost-effectiveness.

The last time the four well-beings were in the Act, 2002-2012, local government annual rates revenue jumped 94%, when inflation was 28%.

“Since the removal of the four well-beings, growth in spending and rates have moderated significantly.  This despite stronger population growth,” Katie said.

“Despite some crazy ideas, like Rotorua’s infamous Mudtopia debacle, the signal from the Act’s current purpose statement has generally helped to focus council behaviour. However, in this year’s round of long-term plans we are starting to see some creep back; perhaps councils have been encouraged by the signals they are getting from government and this Bill.”

The original “four well-beings” legislation also included a robust consultative regime.  That’s missing in the current bill.

“With weak community engagement provisions and no relationship with funding, the re-insertion of the four well-beings is flawed and risky.

“Ratepayers cannot afford for us to go back to the out of control spending and rates increases of the 2002 to 2012 decade.”

Katie referred to the Local Government Business Forum’s report on council funding, noting the growth in non-core vs core spending over recent years, and the concern this Bill will exacerbate this trend.  To see the report, go to https://www.fixcouncilfunding.co.nz/

Property-value based rating imposes a disproportionate cost of local body funding on farmers.

This Bill will inevitably lead to higher rates and higher costs for farming.

It will also enable central government to load even more responsibilities and costs on to local government.

Councils should concentrate on core services and not saddle ratepayers with feel-good well-being projects that they can ill afford.


Rural round-up

June 30, 2018

Councils’ reliance on rating slammed as ‘abhorrent’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says councils need new ways to diversify their funding and the reliance on rating is “abhorrent” and needs addressing.

In her report to the rural lobby organisation’s national conference, Ms Milne said that would be particularly helpful for councils with a small rating base.

Central government must also make sure councils were reasonable in how they rated “and not bleed the public for projects which may never get off the ground or pet ideas that only serve the ideologies of the few rather than the many”.

“There is a belief we are all rich farmers but this is just a myth,” she said. . . 

Government negligent over PSA claim:

A landmark decision released by the High Court today has found that the Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) was negligent in allowing the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, which devastated the kiwifruit industry.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that it was also hugely significant for the kiwifruit industry and other primary industries that the Court also established that MPI owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers when carrying out its biosecurity functions.
“We completely agree with the Judge when she says that the wrong to the 212 kiwifruit growers should be remedied. . .
Psa Litigation:
MPI has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation and we are now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.
The 500 page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.
Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.
Until then, we will be making no further comment. . .

Early winners are still leading – Hugh Stringleman:

Hugh Stringleman looks back on the initial decade of the Young Farmer Contest and catches up with some of those who took part.

Winning the Young Farmer Contest’s national honours opened many doors to farming success and primary industry leadership for champions from the first decade.

Between 1969 and 1978 competition was very keen among thousands of Young Farmers Club members nationwide to achieve a place in the four-man grand finals, as they were then.

Every member was encouraged to participate to build public speaking skills, increase their industry knowledge and try to progress through club, district, regional, island and grand finals. . . 

Fonterra says climate change policy shouldn’t reduce methane emissions to zero – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said it supports a target aimed at mitigating and stabilising methane emissions, but not seeking to reduce them to zero, in its submission on the productivity commision draft report on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

“Agricultural emissions make up approximately half of New Zealand’s emissions and we support policies being set to help transition agriculture to a low emissions economy,” it said in the recently published submission. Submissions on the commission’s draft report – presented in April – were open until June 8 and the commission aims to present a final report to the government by August. . . .

AgResearch purchases full ownership of Farmax:
AgResearch has taken full ownership of agricultural software company Farmax Ltd by acquiring the shares of Brownrigg Agriculture, and Phil Tither, of AgFirst.
Farmax has been operating for 15 years and has already been used to add value to more than 5000 farm businesses in New Zealand and overseas. The software is used by farmers and their advisors to analyse, monitor and review farm operations to determine the production and economic outcomes of various managerial options. . .

Gallagher’s takes supreme ExportNZ award:

Gallagher Group has taken out the supreme award for the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the way the Hamilton-based business has become the leading technology company in animal management, security and fuel system industries over the past 80 years.

Founded in 1937, Gallagher’s was initially a 10-person business which designed and delivered New Zealand’s first electric fence solution. Today, it employs 1100 people across a global network of 10 countries through three business units. . . 

British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to deliver high quality food, says Michael Gove

NFU President Minette Batters has welcomed comments made by Michael Gove in his keynote speech at the NFU’s Summer Reception at the House of Commons on 25 June. 

Defra’s Secretary of State for food and the environment said he had ‘heard, received and understood’ the NFU’s call on government to uphold the high-quality produce that he said was a ‘hallmark of British agriculture’ in post-Brexit trade agreements.

He said that British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to fulfil the national and global demand for high-quality food. . .

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