Rural round up

August 4, 2013

Food, drink and stock feed in whey crisis – Stephen Bell,

No Fonterra-branded consumer products are affected by contaminated whey, the firm said this morning.

It referred to the crisis following revelations it had produced 38 tonnes of whey concentrate contaminated with the potentially deadly Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism, as “the quality issue”.

The farmer co-operative’s statement said it had assured consumers in global markets including Australia, Asia, China, Latin America, New Zealand and the Middle East that none of its range of branded consumer products contained the affected whey protein concentrate (WPC80).

In addition to branded consumer products, Fonterra markets a range of commercial ingredients under its NZMP label. These ingredients are sold to other food companies that use them to manufacture their own consumer products. . .

Fonterra botulism scare caused by dirty pipe –  Amelia Wade , Matthew Theunissen:

The potential contamination of Fonterra products with botulism occurred as a result of a dirty pipe at the company’s Hautapu plant, it says.

Fonterra is still refusing to disclose which of its eight customers were potentially affected by the contamination, saying it was up to them and their regulatory authorities to make those decisions.

Managing director of New Zealand milk products Gary Romano said the contamination occurred as a result of a dirty pipe at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in Waikato. . .

Russia bans all Fonterra products  – Christopher Adams:

Russia has made one of the most extreme responses to Fonterra’s contamination scare so far, banning all goods made by the New Zealand dairy giant, according to media reports.

Russia was not on the list of affected countries released by Trade Minister Tim Grocer yesterday, which included New Zealand, Australia, China, Vietnam and Thailand.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the country’s consumer-protection watchdog was recalling Fonterra’s products, including infant formula, and advising consumers in Russia not to buy its products. . .


Asparagus bred to beat fungus – Tony Benny:

Canterbury plant breeder Peter Falloon has developed the world’s first asparagus cultivar to have resistance to phytophthora, a fungus that eats the plants’ roots and can devastate crops.

“It is exciting and the nice thing is it’s done in New Zealand, so the growers here can take advantage of it,” he said.

“One of the main drivers in food crops is reduced chemical application and this is a major aim of the asparagus industry in New Zealand. So this gives it a jump on the rest of the world.

“We can back some of our clean, green claims with the fact that this is one more chemical that we’re not using.” . . .

New HortNZ head well know to industry – Peter Watson:

Life just got even busier for Nelson fruit and berry grower Julian Raine with his election as president of Horticulture New Zealand.

Raine, who already has roles in other industry organisations, took over this week from Andrew Fenton who has been president since HortNZ’s inception in 2005.

Fenton said Raine was well respected in the industry and the ideal person to steer the national organisation through the next stage of its journey to becoming a $10 billion industry by 2020.

Raine, who was elected to the HortNZ board in 2011, said he accepted the nomination for president because he wanted to make a difference. . .

Organic carrots no hippy operation – Tony Cronshaw:

Rows of carrots spaced with a precision that could not be done by the human eye give the first clue that the Hicks family runs a modern arable operation.

There are no sandals or hippy beads at Willowmere Organic Farm in Hororata.

On the contrary, cultivated rows of carrots and other crops are prepared and planted at the large operation owned by the Hicks family of Kelvin and his parents, John and Trish, with satellite- aligned GPS equipment.

Kelvin says they make the most of advanced technology to push organic production. . .

Meads goes from breeding to beefing up events – Hugh Stringleman:

Performance Beef Breeders (PBB) chief executive Murray Meads has stepped down after 16 years to concentrate on events management and a new restaurant for the centre of Feilding.

Since 1997 Meads has grown the PBB bureau from four full-time staff members to 16, for the needs of 13 beef cattle breed societies and ancillary services and events.

His future role is events and project manager for Hot Wire Events, a new subsidiary of PBB. . .

This beautiful “189 Miles” wool installation by Angela Wright, featured in the Wool Modern Exhibition in Syndey in 2012 and wallspace at All Hallows church, London:

This beautiful wool installation by Angela Wright, featured in the Wool Modern Exhibition in Syndey in 2012. Click on the link to see the original exhibition and the creation process behind it
An illustrated explanation of how it was made is here. (Hat tip: Campaign for Wool)

Rural round-up

May 9, 2013

Conservation farming at work in NZ:

“Seek the power of narrative” was the parting plea of world-renowned American Landscape Architect, Thomas Woltz, when he recently spoke at the 50th International Federation of Landscape Architects World Congress in Auckland.

Woltz – principle of the esteemed Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, with offices in Manhattan, Virginia and California, and clients spanning nine nations – is no stranger to New Zealand farming, having worked on and off in the rural realm here for over a decade.

Most famously, it is Woltz’s ongoing, 11-year work at the 607ha Young Nick’s Head Station on coastal Hawkes Bay that is his firm’s Kiwi showcase and, as his inspirational talk demonstrated, it’s not hard to see why. . .

What is drought?:

What is a drought? The traditional sense is defined by a “long period of abnormally low rainfall,” but the amount of rainfall, or even irrigation, is arguably less than half the bigger picture; the remainder is capturing and retaining moisture in the soil.

A field not far from Cambridge is a good place to start. In the heart of one of the worst droughts in living memory, there grows plentiful pasture in a paddock surrounded by brown, crisp and short feed.

Father and daughter team, John and Janie Taylor, run this family sheep and beef farm in the heart of the Waikato. Three years ago, they found themselves disillusioned with the mainstream fertiliser approach and began to learn more about soil nutrition.

“We thought that’s got to be the approach we’ve got to take, in terms of feeding the plants to feed the animals, and get a better result around our animal fertility, lambing percentages and all the rest,” says Janie. . .

Life is sweet for organic farmer:

On the edge of Hororata township at the inland edge of the Canterbury Plains Kelvin Hicks grows some of the sweetest carrots around.

They are big, organically grown and in nice straight rows.

At 120ha, plus another 80ha leased, Willowmere, the Hicks’ certified organic, mixed livestock-cropping farm is one of the larger units of its type in the country.

Recently Kelvin collected the Harvest Award in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Canterbury where the judges said:

“You have proven the business’s sustainability: yours is an enduring business, your products are highly specialised, you are successfully working through succession arrangements and the business is well positioned to take future opportunities as they presents.” . . .

Students get dirt under their fingers – Jill Galloway:

Riding a quad bike, fencing, operating a chainsaw and dealing with animal health are just some of the things students of a UCOL and Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre course learn.

It is all about preparing students for life on a farm and they have to have skills in a number of rural fields.

Cam Nossiter works on a dairy farm in Marton fulltime, and uses his two days off a week for the practical learning associated with the general farm skills programme.

“It’s good for my CV. I’ve learnt a few new skills, and honed a few.”

Some people want the certificate, to show they completed the course.  . . .

DairyNZ welcomes strategy for animal welfare:

Industry body DairyNZ is welcoming the New Zealand Animal Welfare Strategy released by the Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.

DairyNZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader for Sustainability Dr Rick Pridmore, says New Zealand’s dairy farmers take animal welfare matters seriously and it is useful to have an overarching strategic framework for guiding how the country approaches the care of animals.

“Animal welfare is one of the dairy industry’s 10 objectives in the newly refreshed Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming. We’re committed to farming to high standards of animal health, welfare and well-being. As the Minister points out, New Zealand has a world-leading reputation for animal welfare and we need to recognise and protect that as it is a vital part of continuing our success as an export industry,” he says. . .

McDonald’s removes the lamb from Lambton:

While Federated Farmers is saddened it understands why McDonald’s has removed lamb as a permanent item from its local menu. Federated Farmers still has big hopes this breakthrough will eventually appear in other markets where lamb is widely consumed.

“McDonald’s may have removed the lamb from Lambton, but to us, the decision is more a speed hump,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“China has become our largest lamb market by volume and if we look to India, where free trade negotiations are underway, it has a 300-million strong middle class fast developing a taste for meat. .

“It looks promising if we put these together with the substantial intellectual property McDonald’s New Zealand has for how lamb works within the McDonald’s system. In ANZCO’s Taranaki plant it has the means of production while our farms provide the raw ingredients and an impressive back story. . .

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