Rural round-up

April 25, 2014

Food Safety Assurance Advisory Council established:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council is being set up to provide independent advice to the government on issues relating to food safety.

Establishing this council is one of the 29 recommendations of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“At the moment there is no independent group that looks at the whole of New Zealand’s food safety and assurance system and is able to provide high-level independent advice and risk analysis,” Ms Kaye says.

“This council is being set up to do this and will report to the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It will provide a valuable sounding board for new ideas and contribute to raising consumer and market confidence in New Zealand’s food. . .

Memorandum to restore Waiapu catchment signed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Jo Goodhew today announced a collaborative partnership to restore the Waiapu catchment in the Gisborne District.

“The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between MPI, Te Runanganui O Ngāti Porou and Gisborne District Council demonstrates a long term commitment to work together and with landowners to address the erosion control problems in the catchment.

“The Waiapu River has the highest suspended sediment yield of any river in New Zealand and one of the highest in the world. If nothing is done, erosion and sedimentation could double by 2050.

“This is a great example of this Government working together with iwi and local councils to invest in and develop our regions. This long-term partnership will create significant environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits for iwi and the local community,” says Mr Guy. . .

Otago landowners help control TB through levy:

Consultation with Otago landowners over the levy for the region’s bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme has gathered positive responses.

TBfree Otago Committee Chairman Ross Beckingsale said through the levy and a grant from the Otago Regional Council, landowners will fund around 10 per cent of the $7.5 million TB control programme to be implemented in the region.

The remainder comes from the farming sector and central government.

The 2014/2015 programme will consist of about one million hectares of pest control, mainly ground-based possum trapping, and a single aerial operation in difficult terrain. There will also be work assessing the possum populations and surveillance of pests to detect if TB is present in wild animal populations. . .

Earnscleugh Orchard Supreme Winner of Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

An industry leading Central Otago orchard with a long term sustainability focus has won the Supreme title in the 2014 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Wayne McIntosh, manager of Earnscleugh-based McIntosh Orchard Ltd, received the Supreme award at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 11. He also collected the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

BFEA judges said the 64ha pip and stonefruit operation is a business at the forefront of its industry, describing it as a top producing orchard with “a vision and strategy to promote the Otago region and to be recognised nationally and internationally”. . .

How to lose an argument on food and agriculture topics – Agriculture Proud:

A few weeks back, I shared several lessons learned while sticking my neck out and engaging in discussions centered around food and agriculture topics. Today, I share a few lessons learned by failure; sometimes my own.

  1. Assuming science will give us all the answers; it only gives us some of the answers. Pick a topic, any topic. Chances are you can find “scientists” on either side of the issue. Many people in the general public do not trust science or believe it can be bought-off. Often times, questions may be more about the ethics than the science.
  2. Using economics as the justification for all of our practices. If you own a business or depend on something for your livelihood, chances are who know what makes sound economic sense. “Of course we treat our cows well or they wouldn’t produce for us,” probably doesn’t convey the right message to a non-farm consumer. Making more money and welfare of animals/environment doesn’t always go hand in hand.
  3. Assuming that you have to speak up in defense of all agricultural practices. Chances are you don’t have experience in all areas, you’ll get backed into a corner and lose all credibility. Also, not all practices are defensible. (Read more) Wait, why are we waiting to play defense? . . .

Resistance better than resilience – Jamie-Lee Oldfield:

DRY conditions have meant lower than usual worm egg counts in sheep throughout summer, but recent rainfall and warm temperatures could see a rapid rate of infection.

However, those producers focusing on resistance, rather than resilience, may be better off this season.

Veterinary Health Research lab manager Rad Nielsen said while the worm season will potentially be less severe than normal because of the drought, he has seen high counts in recent weeks, and producers should be cautious not to “get caught out”. . .

  “Agriculture, science …. And stuff like that”… A New Blog – Pasture to Profit:

“Agriculture,science and stuff like that” is a new blog created by AgResearch scientist Jill Walcroft as part of an action research project investigating the ins and outs of science communication with social media.

Worth exploring and discussing, especially science to do with land. I feel that sometimes science is not very accessible. So I’ve given myself a challenge, “can I present the stories in such a way that people’s eyes don’t glaze over after the first sentence”. I am also keen to understand the reasons scientists may or may not see social media as a good avenue for communicating their scientific findings, and to hopefully find ways of enabling scientists to uptake up these technologies with some confidence.

Summer shade for cool cows – Agriculture, science . . . and stuff like that:

A study investigating the impacts of shade on the wellbeing of cattle came up with some ‘cool’ stuff, really cool for the cattle that is.

AgResearch scientist, Keith Betteridge, started his science career at the Kaikohe Regional Station of DSIR Grasslands. When he arrived in the far north, he couldn’t understand why the land had not been cleared of trees and scrub. Conversely, when he returned to the Manawatu 12 years later, he could not understand why so many farmers had cut down nearly every tree on their farm. That shift in his perception about what makes an attractive and healthy landscape has sunk in deep and made the study he carried out recently seem very logical.

At a recent beef farmer discussion group an argument was put forward, that if cattle are under shade then they aren’t eating and therefore might be slower to fatten and this might lead to a loss of income. Since there was little science data to support or dispel this argument, AgResearch was asked to undertake a short experiment to provide some hard facts. . .


Rural round-up

August 7, 2013

Fonterra problem highlights danger of being a one-trick pony – Allan Barber:

It’s a change for the dairy industry to capture the negative agricultural headlines instead of the meat or kiwifruit sectors. Unfortunately for everybody in New Zealand the dairy industry has become such a critical and large part of our economy that the whey protein botulism scare has already caused, and will continue to cause, major concerns for our global dairy trade.

Only last week Fonterra was again the star of the economy with a $3 billion boost to farmers’ earnings because of a 50c lift in the payout. Yet this week the company’s very scale has been called into question. People are now asking whether Fonterra can survive its third health scare in five years.

Even if this is unnecessary scaremongering, another question which would have been unthinkable a week ago is being asked. Is Fonterra too big for the country or, to quote the Waikato Times, its gumboots? This ought to make those calling for one mega meat company hesitate for a moment, before they find that they are asking for something which may contain the seeds of its own destruction. . .

Winegrowers fear China backlash – Penny Wardle:

Marlborough winegrowers fear the discovery of a botulism risk in Fonterra milk products could taint the reputation of New Zealand wine and food in China.

China has suspended imports of products that contain Fonterra’s whey protein concentrate and a product known as base infant powder formula.

Allan Scott of Allan Scott Family Winemakers said everyone in the industry was nervous about market reaction to the contamination debacle which has dominated news headlines since Saturday. . . .

Scientist collars innovation prize – Jill Galloway:

A senior AgResearch scientist has been highly commended for his cow collar, winning $1000 at the Innovate Manawatu contest last week.

Keith Betteridge said he would form a start-up company, FarmSense, to produce the cow collar.

It measures pasture continuously during grazing, with results being sent to a central data handling centre.

“Only 20 to 25 per cent of farmers regularly measure pasture mass over their farms. The rest do it by eye, but according to dairy consultants that can be pretty inaccurate.” . . .

Election date now certain but policies unclear for farmers

With the election confirmed for September 7, the nation’s peak agriculture advocacy body, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is looking to politicians to provide clarity on their policies, and commit to action for the agriculture sector.

NFF President Duncan Fraser said Australian agriculture needs to be a priority for all sides of Parliament this coming election. The NFF will be looking for agriculture to be elevated in the policy debate between major parties.

“Now that we have certainty in terms of the election date, we’re looking equal certainty in policy issues, so farmers can get on with their job. We encourage all political parties to consider how they can best serve a strong, vibrant agriculture sector that ensures that Australians continue to have access to a sustainable supply of Australian grown food and fibre,” Mr Fraser said. . .

£160m agri-atech strategy ‘verging on insulting’

The Agricultural Engineers Association has branded the government’s £160m investment strategy for developing agricultural technology “very disappointing”.

Roger Lane-Nott, the director general of both the AEA and Milking Equipment Association, made the comments after the agri-tech strategy to invest more money in science and technology was launched two weeks ago.

“The fact that farm equipment was given a couple of small paragraphs was verging on insulting to an industry that has a turnover of nearly £4bn in the UK and is a fundamental part of agricultural production,” said Mr Lane-Nott. . .

Collier heads NZIPM:

EAST COAST AgFirst consultant Hilton Collier is the new president of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management, replacing Wayne Allan who’s completed the standard two-year term in the role.

“Wayne has been a driving force in developing NZIPIM’s new strategic plan and instrumental in its implementation,” says Collier, who says there’s an increasing need for NZIPIM and its members to play a leadership role within the primary industry, within and beyond the farm gate.

“This includes positioning our farmers and growers to capture global market opportunities and ensure we have a highly profitable primary sector to levels New Zealand formerly enjoyed as one of the best standards of living in the OECD.” . . .

My first attempt at homemade sausages – Cabbage Tree Farm:

After much procrastination I finally got around to making sausages. A few months ago we bought a meat grinder with a sausage making attachment and I had a bit of a hiccup with getting the correct type of skins – I bought edible collagen casings which did not fit on the end of the sausage maker….oops! Finally I tracked down a butcher that could supply the natural ‘hog’ casings (pig intestines) and we had some pork scraps that our butcher bagged up specifically for us to make sausages, from when he butchered our last lot of home raised pigs.

I did a quick search on You Tube to make sure I knew what to do, and to get some recipes. In the end I chose to make up some chorizo sausages after watching this helpful tutorial. . .


%d bloggers like this: