Rural round-up

January 8, 2019

Concerns over farmers’ approach to financial wellbeing – Alan Wills:

Financial resilience of some businesses in our farming community is a real concern.

Alarm bells rang for me after a recent comment from a rural consultant was aired. He told me he was organising finance for some of his clients because Fonterra had re-adjusted the advance payment rate.

The payout prediction and the advanced payments are still based on $6-plus. . . 

Fears part of bumper apple crop could be lost :

New Zealand’s apple growers fear a bumper crop coupled with a shortage of workers could mean some of the summer harvest is lost.

The group New Zealand Apples and Pears, which represents the pip fruit industry, wants the government to step in and allow tourists to pick fruit without a working visa.

Group spokesperson Gary Jones said this could happen if the government declares a seasonal labour shortage in the country’s primary apple growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

This would allow overseas visitors in the country on tourist visas to work in the horticulture industry without obtaining the usual work permits. . . 

Will cheese become New Zealand’s next craft beer? – Kevin Jenkins:

I once read that before World War I, back before decades of blander mass production, New Zealand seed catalogues looked a lot more like they do in the 21st century, with much more variety. People were growing endive and cavolo nero, for example, and lots of interesting fruits.

But with one of the highest mortality rates among countries who participated in the war, followed by a deadly flu epidemic and then the Great Depression a decade later, it’s no wonder that from the 1920s New Zealand focused on survival … and therefore on potatoes, cabbages and the accursed mashed swede.

In parallel, better transport links and better refrigeration and mass production led to lots of our food industries consolidating. Local dairy factories progressively closed and companies combined until eventually Fonterra emerged as the behemoth it is today. Local breweries followed the same path until DB and Lion shared most of the market. Flour and bread, seafood, vegetables, canned fruit … all followed suit. . . 

Ideas coming thick and fast at RMPP Action Network :

Farmers are reported to have joined a Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group at Rangiwahia to upskill the people in their businesses and boost their profitability.

Eight farm businesses in northern Manawatu have joined the RMPP Action Network to learn from each other and various experts.

Murray Curtis, who hosted the action group’s third meeting, welcomes the opportunity to “be part of a group that gets you thinking and gives you ideas you can put into action on your farm”. . . 

Farmers urged not to forget TB:

Farmers, especially in the South Island, are being reminded that while Mycoplasma bovis has captured headlines, TB is a continuing problem in small pockets of the country.

Kevin Crews, head of disease management for OSPRI (manager of the TB-free programme) says outbreaks have spiked in the Strath-Taieri (Otago) area, with “niggles” in the last two to three years.

TB has been found in ferrets, pigs and possums in the area and work is underway to see whether it is related to the incidence in cattle herds. . . 

Pig rearing to return to rural school following vegan backlash

Keeping pigs on a rural Hampshire school farm to show children how food is produced is to return following vegan backlash which temporarily axed it.

The pigs are kept in Priestlands School grounds, in Lymington, and the practice of rearing them on-site seeks to educate the children where food comes from, and how it is made, from farm-to-fork.

But a petition spearheaded by a vegan campaign group in January sought to axe the scheme, and the school temporarily stopped rearing pigs for a short while to avoid vegan upset. . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2013

Grain farmers step up to meet stock feed needs:

With the availability of supplementary feed in the North Island becoming tight due to extremely dry conditions, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed is promoting New Zealand feed grains and straw as a major supplementary feed solution.

“North Island dairy farmers in particular are weighing up the economic cost of drying off early,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Grain and Seed chairperson and a dual grains and dairy farmer himself.

“Federated Farmers Grain & Seed believes New Zealand feed grains and straw are solutions, especially out of the South Island.

“These are not only cost competitive to imported feeds but are available in quantity right now. These could help hard pressed dairy farmers in seeing the milking season through to its proper end and could also help out our meat and fibre colleagues too. . .

Happier cows could be one solution to industry’s employment issues:

With more and more dairy farm staff entering the industry from urban backgrounds an animal husbandry expert says there has to be more emphasis placed on stockmanship skills, which start with managers and owners having farm policies that put animal welfare first.

 animal husbandry expert Chris Leach and farm dairying specialist Mel Eden share a passion for interpreting cow behaviour and helping farmers get “inside the cow’s head.” By understanding their animals, they say farmers will improve job satisfaction for farm staff, animal health and the bottom-line.

In March the two experts will present a workshop called ‘Interpreting cow behaviour’ to more than 300 dairying women at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Nelson – most of them farm owners and managers. . .

Bovine TB control achieves less cattle and deer TB testing:

The success of the TBfree New Zealand programme has led to more than 3750 cattle and deer herds having their movement control restrictions, or number of bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests, scaled down.

Animal Health Board (AHB) National TB Manager Kevin Crews said the decrease is due to a strong focus on TB-infected wild animal control, strict movement rules on infected herds and an extensive cattle and deer testing programme.

The AHB is responsible for implementing the TBfree New Zealand programme which is working to eradicate bovine TB in New Zealand. Changes to movement restrictions will affect around 50 herds across Tasman, Marlborough and North Canterbury from 1 March 2013. . .

MPI Applauds Stiff Fine For Border Cheat:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) applauds the stiff fine handed down to a woman who three years earlier tried to deceive an airport quarantine inspector and illegally bring packets of bird nest into New Zealand.

Chen Shar Wong was arrested at the Auckland International Airport on Wednesday after arriving from Taiwan. She faced two charges under the Biosecurity Act 1993 of knowingly making false and misleading statements to an inspector, and knowingly attempting to possess unauthorised goods under the Crimes Act.

On 28 February 2010, an MPI quarantine inspector seized four packets of bird nest from Mrs Wong at the airport. Mrs Wong had claimed the bird nests were sea weed. . .

Biosecurity Report Welcomed By Beef + Lamb New Zealand:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the release today, by the Office of the Auditor General, of the report into the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) preparedness and response to biosecurity incursions.

Dr Scott Champion, B+LNZ CEO, said the report made a number of observations and recommendations that have previously been identified by a joint-Government and industry report into the current state of readiness for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), published last year.

“These and other learnings from Exercise Taurus (a FMD incursion simulation) are the ongoing focus of a collaborative process between the affected livestock industries and MPI to make the improvements required in this area,” he said. . .

Ballance closes the loop on investments for growth:

Ballance has taken a further step in its growth strategy, moving to full ownership of animal nutrition company Seales Winslow Limited and farm technology company Farmworks Systems Limited. It has held 51% shareholdings in both companies since 2011.

Ballance Chief Executive Larry Bilodeau says full ownership will see the co-operative better placed to support the growth goals of both business units, enabling Ballance to meet increasing demand from customers for the full range farm nutrients and technology which enable them to farm smarter and more productively.

“Farm nutrients and technology are clearly two growing areas of the market and a natural fit with our core business. We know that farmers are looking towards strategic animal nutrition supplementation and farm technology to get the best returns from their businesses and reduce their environmental footprint. . .

Soil and Health Association applauds new organic research report:

New Zealand’s oldest organic organisation, and publishers of Organic NZ , the Soil & Health Association – Organic NZ, is delighted with the growth in the number of organic producers and consumers over the past three years.

“The results in the latest organic market research report show that organics is definitely moving from the fringe into the mainstream,” says Debbie Swanwick, Spokesperson, Soil & Health – Organic NZ.

Soil &Health – Organic NZ has sponsored a new section in this year’s report,which covers the organic community sector. “Our National Council was delighted to be able to offer their support to such worthy research” said Ms Swanwick. . .


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