Rural round-up

November 30, 2018

Flying the flag for female farmers – Sally Brooker:

Kerry Watson is a can-do person.

The Five Forks dairy farm worker is the only woman in the Aorangi regional final of the Young Farmer of the Year competition.

But rather than being concerned about its physical challenges, she is more worried about the theory.

Miss Watson (27) grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Cumbria, in the northwest of England, until her family emigrated to New Zealand when she was 11. . . 

Farm advisors helping improve water quality – Pam Tipa:

Fonterra’s director of sustainability Carolyn Mortland says she is very heartened by the work farmers are putting into the environment.

“I think we will see it really turning around in future years,” she told Dairy News.

Fonterra recently put out a progress report on its six commitments to improve waterways — one year on from launching the actions. . .

Partnership approach pays off – Pam Tipa:

The partnership approach was a key to Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) winning the industry award at the 2018 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards last week, says KVH chief executive Stu Hutchings.

The partnership approach has ensured the industry was better placed for any future biosecurity event, he says.

“There is no doubt that by working in partnership we can achieve better biosecurity outcomes,” Hutchings says. . . 

What’sthe beef with methane? – Eloise Gibson:

The Government’s proposal for a Zero Carbon Bill has exposed an argument between scientists about the importance of methane. But it’s not really about science, as Eloise Gibson reports in this deep-dive news feature.

There’s beef in the world of methane. Like a piece of marbled Wagyu, it is probably quite healthy — if consumed in moderation.

The argument is over when and how much New Zealand should reduce the methane from cow and sheep burps, which make up almost a third of our emissions, as we currently record them. . .

Anonymous anti-dam brochure reckless, says MP:

Nelson MP Nick Smith is concerned at the distress being caused by an anonymous anti-dam brochure delivered to all households in Brightwater that makes false claims of the town being at risk of an eight metre tidal wave if the dam proceeds.

“I am appalled that dam opponents have resorted to this sort of desperate scaremongering. I have had frightened older residents contacting my office scared witless and mothers in tears at the A & P show over the weekend out of fear for their family. Nobody should be publishing or distributing made up claims on issues as serious as earthquake and tidal wave risks.”

“It is bad enough that those responsible for this scaremongering have not put their name to it, but worse that they have tried to give it credibility by using the good names of Dr Mike Johnson of GNS and Tonkin and Taylor. These experts have dismissed the accuracy of the claims in the brochure, saying they are “very misleading” and “mischievous.” . . 

Farmers’ perspective vital to long-term improvements in agricultural practices:

A study published by scientists from The University of Western Australia jointly with farmers is one of the first to address the role of temperate perennial grass pastures in contributing to soil organic carbon in south-western Australia.Intensive sampling was conducted on a trial site near Wagin consisting of a mix of temperate perennial and annual grasses that had been sown over a ten-year period. The results demonstrated the potential of perennial pastures for short-term gain in soil organic carbon stocks.

Emeritus Professor Lynette Abbott from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment and Institute of Agriculture said temperate perennial grass pastures are currently an uncommon choice in this region but have the potential for future development.  . . 

Yorkshire shepherdess and her nine VERY free-range children: Christmas presents for £2, no computer games and six mile walks to buy a packet of peanuts – meet the ultimate antidote to helicopter parenting:

  • Amanda Owen gave birth to five of her nine children in a car or an ambulance 
  • She lives in an isolated farmhouse in the Yorkshire Dales with her large family
  • She grew up in suburban Huddersfield but fell in love with the idea of rural life  
  • Her family were filmed on and off for a year and will star in a TV show next week

Five of Amanda Owen’s nine children were born in either cars or ambulances at the side of the road. Quite frankly, on the tortuous (if scenic) journey to her farmhouse high in the Yorkshire Dales, you wonder how she made it to hospital with any of them.

On the map, it looks as if Amanda, better known as the Yorkshire Shepherdess, lives just a hop and skip from civilisation. In reality, the drive is a precarious one involving a twisty road, with sheer drops. The nearest maternity unit is two hours away. For a woman in labour, in the dark, this must be the road to hell.

Little wonder, then, that when the contractions started for baby No 8, Amanda didn’t even wake husband Clive and tell him to get the car keys. She simply piled towels in front of the fire, gave herself a stern talking to, and eased the baby out with her own hands. . . 


Rural round-up

November 1, 2017

Farmers’ efforts rewarded with improving water quality – Esther Taunton:

Taranaki has recorded its best stream health trends in 21 years, a new report shows.

The 2017 Healthy Waterways report showed water quality in the region was ‘fit for purpose’ by almost all measures within the compulsory national criteria at almost all sites most of the time.

Published by the Taranaki Regional Council, the report looked at trends from 20 years of monitoring and showed most measures were improving or not changing significantly for the ecological health and physical and chemical state of 99 per cent of Taranaki rivers and streams. . . 

No Sign of Bonamia in wild oysters:

The latest testing of the Bluff wild oyster fishery shows no sign of Bonamia ostreae, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The testing was part of MPI’s surveillance programme for the invasive parasite, says MPI Director of Readiness and Response Geoff Gwyn.

“This is great news for the local industry and everyone involved in the response,” says Mr Gwyn. . . 

Global meat trends look positive – Allan Barber:

2016 saw widely differing agricultural export performances between New Zealand and our trans-Tasman neighbours. According to the Red Meat Advisory Council’s State of the Industry 2017 report, Australia broke all records by increasing its exports of red meat to A$15.1 billion, up by nearly A$6 billion since 2009. It was the world’s biggest exporter of beef, second biggest for sheep meat and third biggest live exporter.

In contrast New Zealand’s exports of red meat and offal declined by $909 million to $5.9 billion or 7.4% from 2015; the fall was shared fairly evenly between beef (down $481 million) and sheep meat (down $415 million), although the percentage drop for beef was much higher at 14.4% compared with 4.6% for sheep meat. Both volume and value contributed to the decline, with the United States responsible for three quarters of the beef shortfall and the EU, including UK, responsible for half that of sheep meat. . . 

Building a NZ brand:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s market development team is building a compelling case for the red meat industry to work with a New Zealand brand story under which individual brands could sit.

Michael Wan, who led a marketing team on a research trip to China, United States, Germany, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand, says this country needs a strong value proposition at a national level and to invest in telling its story.

The trip, which included comprehensive qualitative research at every level of the supply chain in each of the markets they visited, highlighted both a low awareness of NZ – especially its food production systems – but also the potential for growth in the lamb category. . .

Farmer Fast Five – Charles Douglas-Clifford – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Ballance Farm Environment Award Winner and Proud North Canterbury Farmer Charles Douglas-Clifford.

1.         How long have you been farming?

I have been involved in farming in one way or another all my life. I grew up on the family farm as a 6th generation descendant, finished
school and worked on various farms in Australia for a year. I then went to Lincoln University to study a BCom Ag. I went on to spend 6 years working as a rural bank manager for the National Bank in Palmerston North, Nelson and Timaru. Then in early 2012 I returned home to Stonyhurst with Erin, after getting married and have been here ever since.           

2.         What sort of farming were/are you involved in?                    

In the 6 years working as a rural manager I got to see a wide range of farming operations throughout the country. I was also
fortunate to have been in the finance sector through the global financial crisis. . . 

2017 Fonterra Elections Results Announced:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2017 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to elect incumbent Director John Monaghan and new Directors Brent Goldsack and Andy Macfarlane. . . 

Velvet market underpinned by growing demand:

The new deer velvet season has opened strongly, with farmers reporting early enquiry from buyers at prices 10-15 per cent above last season’s close.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia market manager Rhys Griffiths says the price recovery is timely, given the investment many farmers are making in upgrades to their velvetting facilities.

“Regulatory changes in China last season led to a loss of buyer confidence and a dip in prices that did not reflect the steady growth in demand for NZ velvet from China and Korea, our major markets,” he says. . . 

Biosecurity Week 2017 kicks off:

Pests and diseases from offshore can cause serious harm to New Zealand’s unique environment and primary industries; and the Port of Tauranga is one of many potential gateways.

Biosecurity Week activities highlight the importance of biosecurity and the role that everyone in the Bay of Plenty can play in managing unwanted biosecurity risks says Kiwifruit Vine Health Chief Executive Barry O’Neil.

“We’re looking forward to talking to people who work on and around the Port about biosecurity – it’s such an important issue and one that really does affect everyone.” . . 

NZX plans to launch skim milk powder option contract – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – NZX, the financial markets operator, plans to launch a global skim milk powder option contract in December in response to customer demand.

The Wellington-based company said trading volumes in its skim milk powder futures market are up 113 percent this year as interest in its suite of dairy risk management tools increases. The new contract will add to the NZX’s existing futures contracts for whole milk powder, skim milk powder, anhydrous milk fat and butter, and its whole milk powder options. . . 

Innovative trading platform Syndex announces partnership with agritech firm:

Online share exchange Syndex is supporting New Zealand agritech company Regen to undertake a major expansion.

Syndex is an independent online trading platform for any proportionally owned asset for the private economy. Fractions of agricultural assets, units in commercial property and private equity can all be funded and purchased through the Syndex exchange. . . 


Rural round up

September 25, 2015

AgResearch confirms 83 lay-offs, hires 27 for new roles – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – AgResearch has confirmed speculation it is axing jobs, announcing plans to lay off 83 scientists and technicians because of declining investment in some areas of research and development, while hiring 27 for new roles.

AgResearch chair Sam Robinson said the Waikato-based crown research institute had to balance shifts in its sector’s research needs, and therefore revenue, with the need to respond to emerging science opportunities to maximise the impact for New Zealand’s pastoral sector.

“Declining R&D investment in some areas means that we are currently facing a significant and ongoing funding challenge in those areas,” he said. “While both private sector and government revenue is increasing in other areas, our net science revenue is forecast to be $5.3 million less for FY16 compared to FY15,” he said. . . 

Federated Farmers disappointed with AgResearch redundancies:

Further job cuts at AgResearch back up Federated Farmers concern that science capability in agriculture continues to be eroded through inadequate funding and a lack of strategic planning.

“Agriculture science is a long term investment which is difficult for governments on a short term three year election cycle, but we owe it to our future farmers, and all New Zealanders, to make the investments now, develop our capability and build the basic sciences which provide the necessary grunt to ensure commercialisation of innovation is optimised,” says Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston.

“We appreciate that AgResearch needs to ensure its capacity aligns with the work it has ahead of it, but the continual downsizing at AgResearch is a symptom of this bigger problem.” . . 

Napier road washout cancels wedding, isolates farmers – Simon Wong:

A wedding at a remote venue near Napier has been forced to cancel after heavy rain washed out the only road to the site.

McVicar Rd, which runs along the Mohaka River in Te Haroto, has cut off the 10 permanent residents including farmer and Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar.

The only road to his farm and the neighbouring Mountain Valley Adventure Lodge, where the wedding was to be held this weekend, has been completely washed out. . . 

Are microbes the key to geographical differences in wine?:

A new study of six of New Zealand’s major wine-growing regions has found that differences in flavour and aroma of wine from different areas may depend more on microbes than was previously thought.

Classically the reason that wine, and other agricultural crops such as coffee, from different places tastes and smells different was thought to be due to a range of environmental reasons such as climate and soil minerals. The idea that organisms such as microbes played a role in this was not appreciated until very recently.

Previous work by Associate Professor Mat Goddard and Research Fellow Sarah Knight from the School of Biological Sciences published in Nature’s microbial ecology journal ISME demonstrated that different regions of New Zealand have different types of the main yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that ferment juice into wine. . . 

Positive Psa-V result on Whangarei kiwifruit orchard:

Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has received a Psa-V positive test result on Hort16A and male vines on a kiwifruit orchard in Whangarei. This is the first confirmed case of Psa-V on an orchard in the Whangarei region.

All growers in the region have been advised of the situation by KVH, including best-practice advice going forward. KVH will hold a meeting for Whangarei growers next week and will be carrying out extensive monitoring in the region over the weekend.

There are a total of 49 orchards in the Whangarei region comprising of approximately 144 canopy hectares.

KVH Chief Executive, Barry O’Neil, said this new find in Whangarei is very disappointing and will be particularly hard for local growers and the regional committee. . . 

Minister welcomes passage of Korea FTA Bill:

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the passing of the Tariff (Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea) Amendment Bill in Parliament today.

“Under this FTA, approximately 98 percent of tariffs on New Zealand’s current exports to Korea will be progressively eliminated,” says Mr Groser.

“This FTA will play an important role in strengthening the relationship between New Zealand and Korea. It delivers significant benefits across a range of areas including goods, services, and investment by breaking down trade barriers, facilitating the movement of goods and services, and establishing a framework for resolving any trade-related issues in the future. . . 

Zespri looks forward to sales growth in South Korea following passage of Tariff Amendment Bill:

Zespri welcomes the passage of the Tariff Amendment Bill through parliament yesterday, which is a significant step towards the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea. The agreement will provide significant benefit for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

Ratification of the FTA this year would mean a 33% reduction in tariffs on exports of New Zealand kiwifruit to South Korea for next year’s kiwifruit season. During 2014, Zespri growers paid approximately $22 million in tariffs, with the rate set at 45 percent. The tariff for kiwifruit will reduce to zero over the next five years. . . 

Tariff Amendment Bill a Significant Win for Kiwifruit Growers:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes yesterday’s passing of the Tariff Amendment Bill in parliament – a positive step toward a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

NZKGI president Neil Trebilco said cutting the tariff is a big win for kiwifruit growers.

“The agreement will eliminate a 45 per cent tariff on New Zealand kiwifruit over five years, creating significant savings for growers.”

“The agreement will also bring about parity with Chilean competitors who have been on a zero tariff since concluding their own Free Trade Agreement in 2004.” . . 

Fastline's photo.
Not just during harvest and not just farmers – many who service and supply farmers and work in businesses which turn what comes off the paddock in to what’s put on the plate, also work long and irregular hours. And of course, lots of other people work long and irregular hours in lots of other jobs.


Rural round-up

September 11, 2015

Sheep and beef farmers to benefit from weaker NZD:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service released its New Season Outlook 2015-16 today. It predicts the average sheep and beef farm in New Zealand will see its profit before tax lift to $109,900 this season – 9.6 per cent more than last season, but 3.1 per cent below the five-year average.

B+LNZ Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says this is positive news, at a time when the New Zealand economy will benefit from increased farm sector spending.

“This season, New Zealand’s 12,300 commercial sheep and beef farmers will spend a total of $4.66 billion on fertiliser, interest, repairs and maintenance and general farm operating costs. This will be welcomed by rural suppliers and communities, particularly at this time.” . . 

Techno lucerne: getting the best out of bulls – Kate Taylor:

Nothing spells out spring more than lambs and daffodils.

You won’t find many woolly creatures on the Central Hawke’s Bay farm of Angus and Esther Mabin, apart from the ones keeping the grass down in the home paddock.

You will find daffodils though. Thousands of them planted across more than 8ha by Angus’ Mum Railene over 40 years and now sold as a fundraiser for CHB Plunket. Every September, giant-sized daffodil signs grace the side of SH2 south of Waipukurau and locals and visitors swarm to the farm known as Taniwha. . . 

Will ants bee the saviours of our hives? – Alexa Cook:

Scientists have discovered a new ant virus related to the deformed wing virus, which kills honey bees.

Bees and ants often forage together, and may be capable of passing on diseases to each other.

The new virus is carried by Argentine ants, which are one of New Zealand’s major bee pests.

The ants already carry a deformed wing virus, which can cause bee colony collapses. . .

Silver Fern Farms ‘strategic’ not even close – Gravedodger:

The entire  NZ Meat Industry may qualify in that category but there is absolutely nothing about a farmer supplier owned part player processor, I hesitate to call them marketer, in the meat industry to what I understand Strategic to involve.

Yes there is farmer supplier investment  in SFF and if the whole shambolic outfit went broke tomorrow it would have some dire effects for many but in the absence of any significant new meatworks being created, those that were built in the latter years of last century have all outlived the planned obsolescence and the older ones are more relics than meatplants.

The entire meat industry since the “Dunedin” departed New Zealand waters with the first refrigerated cargo of meat for the UK over 130 years ago, is littered with incompetence and manipulations bordering on fraud as aspiring entrepreneurs attempted to make their fortune. . . 

New great walk to be ‘one of the best‘ – Paul Taylor:

The Department of Conservation is working on plans for a Great Walk near Queenstown, the country’s 10th.

The proposed three day route is through the spectacular scenery of nearby Mt Creighton Station.

The ”Moonlight Trail” is part of a mooted trade off between the Government and the company which owns the perpetual lease for the 15,000ha station. . . 

New Zealand Winegrowers launches consumer focused education programme in China:

The New Zealand Wine Intermediate Certificate was launched in Shanghai last week, giving Chinese wine consumers the chance to learn about New Zealand’s diverse wine styles.

The education programme was developed by New Zealand Winegrowers and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise in response to a growing demand for information about New Zealand wine from consumers across China.

“This certificate has been several years in the making. We are working with New Zealand based Master of Wine Jane Skilton and her team at the New Zealand School of Wines & Spirits, whose experience will prove invaluable” said Chris Yorke, Global Marketing Director at New Zealand Winegrowers. “Education plays a huge part in our marketing strategy for China, and the launch of a programme specially tailored for consumers will help raise awareness and appreciation of our premium wines in a growing market.” . . 

Watch your back this spring:

Sheep farmers busy with tailing/docking of lambs are being urged to take extra care of their backs.

With spring comes more stock handling,” says Al McCone, WorkSafe’s Agriculture Programme Manager. “Injuries often happen when people do routine tasks like tailing/docking over and over again. Before you or your workers start any job on the farm, stop and consider what you need to watch out for and how to get it done safely.”

In September last year, people working on farms made 600 claims qualifying for ACC funding for back injuries. In addition to injuries suffered as a result of tailing/docking work, other back-related injuries came from kicks or crushing by animals, slips, trips and falls, and injuries from vehicles and heavy machinery. . . 

True Dairy Trainees Targeted in Contest Revamp:

Changes to the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition will give genuine dairy trainees the opportunity to succeed.

National Convenor Chris Keeping says the entry criteria in the dairy trainee competition has been tightened to ensure it caters for young people, who have less experience and qualifications than other potential new entrants to the dairy industry.

“The dairy trainee contest aims to foster and assist new people coming into the industry to gain the skills, knowledge and reputation they need to progress,” Mrs Keeping says. . . 

2015 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards:

Entries in New Zealand’s most prestigious competition for extra virgin olive oil closed on Wednesday 9th September, with a total of 70 entries. There were 60 entries in the Extra Virgin classes and 10 entries in the Flavoured Oil classes, which are new classes for these Awards.

The 2015 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards have attracted entries from all of the major olive growing regions across the country. . .

Save on calf rearing this season:

Weaning calves from milk when they reach 65 kilograms could add to the bottom line if a good value meal and pasture is added to the diet early on – especially when it comes to replacement heifers.

Wendy Morgan, Nutrition and Quality Manager at animal nutrition company SealesWinslow said the cost of rearing calves can be reviewed by farmers who are looking for ways to make cost savings this season.

“To wean from milk, start weighing calves at six weeks of age. An animal can be weaned once it has reached 65 kilograms, has an obvious rumen (a pot belly when looking at it from behind) and is eating 1 kilogram of meal for three consecutive days,” she said. . .

The Global Forest Industry in the 2Q/2015:

Excerpts from the Wood Resource Quarterly (www.woodprices.com)

Global Timber Markets:

Sawlog prices fell again in the 2Q/15 in most of the 19 regions worldwide that are part of the Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI). The Index is at its lowest level since 2009, and is down 20% from its all-time high four years go.The only regions where prices increased in the 2Q were in Northwest Russia andthe Interior of British Columbia.

Global trade of softwood roundwood slowed down towards the end of 2014 and log shipments have continued to be slow during the first half of 2015, with the biggest reduction in imports being in Japan, South Korea and Sweden. . . 

Increased cruise ship biosecurity a welcome result for kiwifruit:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) announcement to beef up biosecurity on incoming cruise ships is a welcome result for the kiwifruit industry.

Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) Chief Executive, Barry O’Neil, says KVH has been working with MPI for increased border interventions on the cruise ship pathway, and supports the work being done to address the increasing risks.

“The cruise ship pathway is one the kiwifruit industry is concerned about so we are fully supportive of MPI’s proactive approach following a cruise ship passenger risk review.” . . 


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