Rural round-up

June 17, 2018

Infected cattle bring opportunity for study – Sally Rae:

It will not be possible to control Mycoplasma bovis if an eradication attempt fails, given the present lack of understanding of the infection and the “gross inadequacy” of existing diagnostics, Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says.

Otago-based Prof Griffin, whose career has focused on animal health research, described that as the “sad reality”.

He believed the Government’s decision to attempt eradication first was the correct one, even though it brought considerable public liability for taxpayer funding. . .

TB work will help fight M. Bovis:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis could be supported by the 25-year legacy of co-operation between OSPRI/TBfree and AgResearch in tracking and researching bovine tuberculosis.  Richard Rennie spoke to Dr Neil Wedlock, one of the country’s senior bTB researchers on what can be learned.

Collaboration between AgResearch scientists and disease control managers at OSPRI TBfree and its predecessor the Animal Health Board has led to important technical breakthroughs resulting in a drastic reduction in the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in livestock.

Eradication of TB from the national herd by 2026 will be hailed as a disease control success story but there are some challenges to deal with before that happens. . . .

Trio share their travels through hills and valleys – Toni Williams:

You can’t go from mountain to the next mountain without going in the valley,” says farmer and author Doug Avery.

Mr Avery, along with Paul ”Pup” Chamberlain and Struan Duthie, was guest speaker at a Rural Support Mid Canterbury session at the Mt Somers Rugby Club rooms.

Rural Mid Cantabrians were encouraged to ”take a break” with the trio as they spoke of their life experiences – the ups and the downs.

From front-line policing during the 1981 Springbok tour, reaching rock bottom farming in drought-stricken Marlborough to cracking open emotions, they shared it all.

All three spoke of the importance of having a mentor, or a support network of people to help when times were tough. . .

Pure taste sours :

Meat companies have asked Beef + Lamb New Zealand not to launch the Taste Pure Nature origin brand in North America fearing it will confuse consumers and give competitors a free ride.

The Lamb Company, a partnership between the country’s three largest lamb exporters Alliance, Anzco and Silver Fern Farms, has spent 54 years jointly developing the North American market.

Its chairman Trevor Burt fears the origin brand will clash with its Spring Lamb brand. . .

Climate change discussion ‘direction of travel’ is positive – Feds:

The National Party’s five principles on which it will base emission reduction policies, including science-based and taking into account economic impact, are spot on, Federated Farmers says.

The Opposition’s support for a bi-partisan approach to establishing an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission was outlined by Leader Simon Bridges in a speech at Fieldays this morning.  National’s three other emission reduction criteria are technology driven, long-term incentives and global response.

“We’re delighted that the Coalition Government, and now National, have both signaled their recognition that there’s a good case for treating short-lived greenhouse gases (such as methane) and long-lived (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) differently,” Katie says. . .

Different treatment of methane the right thing for global warming:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is pleased to see a differentiated approach, to treat methane differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, being given serious consideration in New Zealand’s climate change policy dialogue.

“Policy must be underpinned by robust science and be appropriate to the targeted outcome. If the outcome we want is climate stabilisation, then the science is telling us to treat long-lived gases differently to methane in policy frameworks” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther . . .

This generation of women not just farm wives anymore – Colleen Kottke:

For many generations, the heads of farm operations across America were likely to be men clad in overalls wearing a cap emblazoned with the logo of a local seed dealership or cooperative.

Back then, most women were viewed as homemakers who raised the children, kept the family fed and clothed, and were delegated as the indispensable “go-fer” who ran for spare parts, delivered meals out to the field and kept watch over sows during farrowing – all the while keeping hearth and home running efficiently

Although many of these duties were important to the success of the farm, they were often looked upon as secondary in nature. Today women are stepping into the forefront and playing more prominent roles on the farm and in careers in the agribusiness industry once dominated by their male counterparts. . .


Dairying making good progress on protecting waterways

May 16, 2017

Dairy farmers have made significant progress on their commitment to protecting dairy waterways, according to a new progress report on the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord ‘Three Years On’.

The independently audited report shows that 97 percent of dairy cattle are fenced off from waterways on farms. That equals 26,197km of measured Accord waterways excluded from dairy cattle or the equivalent of 12 trips by road from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

National levels of significant non-compliance for dairy effluent systems on farms have dropped to their lowest ever, at 5.2 percent (down from 7 percent in 2013-14).

Eighty-three percent of farmers (compared to 56 percent in 2013-14) are now getting nitrogen information to help them farm more responsibly – with 9,517 nutrient budgets processed last year. The nitrogen management programme collects data to show nitrogen loss on-farm. This enables farmers to make improvements to their farm systems to reduce nitrogen loss and improve efficiency of use.

More than 99 percent of 44,386 regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts to protect local water quality.

DairyNZ CEO Dr Tim Mackle, says it’s heartening to see what farmers have achieved in the past three years.  “I acknowledge that there is still some work to do, but dairy farmers are making a positive difference.

The decline in water quality occurred over time and will take time to reverse but most dairy farmers are making significant, and expensive, efforts to protect and enhance waterways.

“They have made great strides since the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was launched in 2013. Dairy farmers made a commitment to good management practices and the actions they have taken, both large and small, are reflected in these results. The really special thing is that they have made this commitment voluntarily, and I take my hat off to them”, says Dr Mackle.

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther says that since the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was launched in 2013, the industry has made significant progress on meeting it’s environmental commitments.

“The annual process of independent auditing of results gives a high degree of assurance that real progress is occurring against targets”, she says.

This is good progress on a long journey. Farmers have done a lot but there’s still more to be done to clean up waterways by both rural and urban people.

You can read more about the Water Accord here.


Rural round-up

February 9, 2016

Southern Field Days: from humble beginnings to huge event – Brittany Pickett:

From humble beginnings the Southern Field Days at Waimumu have transformed into the second largest in the country. Brittany Pickett set out to find out how Southland’s biennial agricultural magnet began and where it goes to next.

Some have dubbed it the “friendly field days”, a more laid-back version of the National Field Days, but behind the scenes Southern Field Days is anything but laid-back.

Like most events, the Southern Field Days began with an idea; hold an ag-focused event for Southland farmers which was farm-related and had a technical agricultural focus. . . 

Subsidies stall recovery – Neal Wallace:

Subsidies for European and United States farmers, that could be stalling the much-anticipated recovery in global dairy prices, are now being investigated by the New Zealand dairy industry.  

The subsidies were mostly linked to environmental protection rather than milk production but special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen and Dairy Companies Association chief executive Kimberly Crewther both believed the payments were shielding farmers from market reality.

“If price signals are masked for European farmers it could mean a delayed response to the dairy price cycle,” Crewther said. . .

‘People Lift’ having an effect – Sally Rae:

During challenging times such as those the dairy industry is now experiencing, being efficient on-farm is crucial.

So for Waipahi farm manager James Matheson, being involved in People Lift has been a beneficial experience.

The initiative, which is being trialled in the Waikato and Southland, has been created by DairyNZ. . . 

Training for Farmstrong cycling tour – Sally Rae:

A cycle seat is not the sort of saddle that Olivia Ross is ordinarily accustomed to.

But Miss Ross (27), a keen equestrian rider and barrel racer, has been enjoying a change of horsepower.

As Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s southern South Island extension manager, a keen Young Farmer, and supporter of all things rural, she has embraced Farmstrong, an initiative launched in June last year to promote wellbeing for farmers. . . 

Big traders forced to rethink –

A World Trade Organisation ban on agricultural export subsidies was more important for its signals on where global trade negotiations could go next than the ban itself, former top trade negotiator Crawford Falconer says.  

Fonterra immediately hailed a “watershed moment for global trade” with the removal of what it described as the “most damaging” subsidy available to governments wanting to support their farmers.  

The description of the subsidies – undoubtedly a drag on world dairy prices in the 1980s and 90s but not used for the best part of a decade – raised eyebrows among some local trade-watchers. . .

Historic Otago coastal property up for sale – Brooke Hobson:

Another piece of New Zealand paradise is up for sale, this time at the other end of the South Island.

Nature Wonders, a privately owned 172-hectare property at Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula is on the market as of today.

It comes after Awaroa Inlet in the Able Tasman National Park was listed for sale and a Givealittle campaign started for Kiwis to buy a piece of the property and gift it the Department of Conservation to oversee. . . 

Duck eggs hatch into growing business for Taranaki couple – Christpher Reive:

Forget chickens, duck eggs are the next big thing.

After doing their research about the health benefits of the duck eggs, Taranaki couple Dawn and have started to make a living out of making people, including themselves, healthier. 

“It’s not just about us and the ducks, it’s about helping people,” Dawn said. . . 

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games

Nathan Guy the Minister for Primary Industries and Steve Holland founder of the ‪#‎hilux‬ ‪#‎ruralgames‬ finding a good moist cowpat to throw.

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games's photo.

TVNZ coverage of the games is here  and Newshub’s report is here with the Minister trying cow-pat throwing and saying: “Sometimes we dish it out, sometimes we receive it.”

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games

Who will be judged Outstanding Rural Sports Competitor at this year’s Games and win the Grumpy Graham Trophy? Here’s Games founder Steve Hollander with Mitre 10 New Zealand‘s Stan Scott who made the shield in memory of our founding patron Neil ‘Grumpy’ Graham.
Hilux New Zealand Rural Games's photo.


Aberrant and abhorrent

November 30, 2015

Cows like all other mammals have to deliver a baby before they start lactating.

If animals are farmed to produce milk their offspring, be they calves, lambs or kids, are a by-product.

Dairy farms here usually keep most of their heifer calves to raise as replacements or for later sale.

Some might raise some bull calves for beef but most are sold to others to raise or sent for slaughter as bobby calves.

Normal practice is to treat all animals well and make the process from birth to death as fast and humane as possible for the calves.

The mistreatment of calves  shown on Sunday last night is not normal practice.

It is aberrant, abhorrent and appeared to be illegal.

No-one is trying to excuse it.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is investigating and DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and the New Zealand have condemned it:

Dairy industry bodies say they are appalled at the bobby care practices revealed in video footage recorded by animal rights group Farmwatch and released as part of a SAFE public campaign launched against dairy farming.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are in no way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

“We are shocked and farmers are too,” he says. “We will be asking questions of everyone involved. Farmers don’t see what goes on when calves leave their farm and we need to be holding the transport operators and processing plants to account to ensure bad practices get stamped out of our industry.

“Our surveys show that 95 percent of farmers are compliant with all animal welfare codes and they take great care of their animals including calves. We obviously want to see that even higher because the dairy industry takes its animal welfare responsibilities seriously and we are committed to farming to high standards,” he says.

“There is a range of industry initiatives already in place and we will be boosting our actions with other groups to ensure the care of calves.”

Federated Farmers’ dairy section chair, Andrew Hoggard says “farmers have to farm within strict animal welfare rules and the vast majority care for their animals humanely and responsibly”.

He says the footage released by SAFE and Farmwatch includes some appalling behaviour, by a minority of farmers but also by transport companies and slaughterhouse workers. “This is something we and the industry will not tolerate.

“Federated Farmers strongly, and each season, reinforces to its members that the highest standards of animal welfare must apply when dealing with all calves. The federation will also put resources behind any industry initiatives to review the handling, transport and processing of bobby calves,” says Mr Hoggard. 

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther says that compliance with the New Zealand codes of welfare is important to dairy companies.

“These codes are internationally recognised as robust.  Where there are breaches we fully support and expect Ministry for Primary Industries’ compliance action,” she says.

This abuse of animals is an indictment on the perpetrators, it should not be taken as a reflection on the whole industry in which most people in the production chain strive for, and achieve, high standards of practice with animal welfare a priority.

UPDATE:

Fonterra says any mistreatment of animals is completely unacceptable to the company and its farmers:

Fonterra has seen the upsetting footage of bobby calves being ill treated provided by SAFE NZ, the subject of this week’s Sunday show on TVNZ.

Any mistreatment of animals is completely unacceptable to Fonterra and our farmers.

Immediate action

We’re taking immediate steps to deal with it alongside the rest of the New Zealand dairy industry:

  • We’ve requested a meeting with SAFE, and will let them know that we share their concern for the treatment of animals, and to seek further information from them on the footage
  • We’re in contact with representatives from the meat industry to discuss what we have seen in the footage to express to them our concerns around the treatment of bobby calves

Animal welfare is our priority

While bobby calves will always be part of the dairy industry, they must be treated with care and respect. Behaviour in this footage in no way represents the vast majority of New Zealand farmers who care about their animals.

As a Co-operative we take a hard line on animal welfare. We’re investigating this and will be taking strong action if any of our people were involved.

Five Freedoms

We work proactively with our farmers to embed best practice and uphold the Five Freedoms:

  • Freedom from hunger or thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress through conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

Responsible dairying

Fonterra is absolutely committed to responsible dairying. We work with our farmers to ensure they maintain the highest standards of animal welfare and they have a strong track record when it comes to on-farm animal welfare practices.

We audit farms annually and have strict controls in place in any instance where these Five Freedoms are not being observed.

Working together with the dairy industry

This includes working with industry representative bodies like Dairy NZ and MPI to support our farmers and ensure best practice is observed on-farm.

We want to let our customers and consumers know that we are taking action to ensure these practices do not happen on Fonterra farms and will be front-footing this issue with other primary industries.


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