Rural round-up

April 1, 2020

Hope from the high country – Philip Todhunter:

Covid-19? It’s like opening your front door and finding two metres of snow on the ground just after you’d put all your new fencing in.

The fences have been wrecked. You look at the damage, you shake your head, and then you get on with managing your way through it.

In the back of your mind, you know that spring will come, the tonnes of snow will melt, and the grass will grow again.

Farmers are an optimistic bunch. We’re used to things going in cycles: weather patterns, commodity prices, market demand … but we also know that sometimes the wheel doesn’t turn the whole way round, sometimes the change is permanent. . . 

Coronavirus: can the economy recover – Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor:

The economic ride down is likely to be sharp and steep. But when consumers eventually emerge from lockdown, what will the recovery look like? Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor investigate.

Weighing sheep in a yard in the brown foothills of North Canterbury’s Hundalee Hills, Ben Ensor is an unlikely soldier on the frontline of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the country prepared to shut down, to stop the spread of coronavirus, the sheep and beef farmer was separating merino stock under the shadow of rustic woolshed. Hooves beat up clouds of dust, as his farm dog herded them into a race.

With 6000 sheep, and around 500 cattle, Ensor can’t close down. Like nurses, doctors, pharmacists and supermarket staff, farming and cropping have been deemed “essential“. . .

Kiwifruit taste test goes south :

Kiwifruit growers will not be paid for their fruit’s taste profile this season after the country’s only testing facility dropped the test.

Eurofins Bay of Plenty is the country’s only testing facility for the drymatter component of kiwifruit, which gives growers and Zespri a direct indication of the fruit’s taste profile.  

The lab now tests only for residues in fruit, leaving post-harvest processors grappling with how to evaluate fruit quality. . .

Keep calm, carry on – Colin Williscroft:

The Government is well aware of farming’s importance and is doing everything it can to ensure the primary sector continues to operate as close to normal as possible, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

“Farming has been the backbone of New Zealand and that will that continue long into the future,” O’Connor says.

Cabinet understands the role farming plays in the economy, along with the need to maintain farming systems subject to seasonal and biological cycles, including the lifecycle of animals and grass growth, restrictions other businesses around the country are not subject to. . .

Meat industry in better shape today to cope with downturn – Allan Barber:

When I started to trawl through possible topics to write about this week, I had the bright idea it might be worth asking meat processors what contingency plans they have in place in case an employee, more particularly one on the processing floor, tests positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. So far my research suggests it’s not yet an issue that has received a great deal of consideration by many companies, although it’s certainly on their radar.

In an update to farmers, Silver Fern Farms states its position as “The reality is that an outbreak, or the understandable precautionary response of our people, is likely to see an impact on our processing capacity in coming weeks. It is realistic to expect that with a workforce of 7000 we will at least have precautionary isolation within our workforce. We have processes in place to ensure that, should this occur, it can be managed. We are working on the various contingent options and will keep you updated should there be any disruption to processing.” . . 

Coronavirus: George Eustice applauds farmers as ‘hidden heroes’ :

Defra Secretary George Eustice has labelled farmers ‘hidden heroes’ for keeping food on the nation’s plates during the Covid-19 crisis.

In an open letter to the food and farming industry, Mr Eustice paid tribute to ‘all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed.’

The statement described farmers’ response so far as ‘extraordinary’ and thanked those involved in food production on behalf of the country.

“In the face of what is perhaps the greatest health challenge this country has faced in our lifetime, I want to pay tribute to all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed,” he said. . .  

 


Rural round-up

March 29, 2020

Covid-19 and New Zealand’s agricultural trade – Keith Woodford:

Despite any attempts to diversify away from China, exports to China will be increasingly important in coming months as much of the world descends into increasing turmoil

With COVID-19 now dominating all of our lives, it was easy to decide that COVID-19 would determine the focus of my rural-focused article this week. However, in choosing COVID-19 and agricultural trade, I want to focus primarily on the world beyond the current lockdown and explore where we might be heading in the months thereafter.

The starting point is that in times like these, export markets choose New Zealand, rather than New Zealand choosing its export markets. In this environment, all we can do is hang out our shingle, and help potential buyers to manage the logistics. . . 

Coronavirus: Rural communities ‘more vulnerable’ says expert – Angie Skerrett:

Questions have been raised about how rural communities will cope with COVID-19 after new cases of the virus in a number of small towns.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed 78 new coronavirus cases in New Zealand, bringing the total to 283.

Locations of new cases included small towns such as Te Anau, Roxburgh, Cromwell, and Alexandra.

While some farmers have suggested the isolation of rural life provided an extra sense of security during the pandemic an expert said that was not the case. . . 

Are we fit for a better world? – Sarah Perriam:

It’s being described as the ‘rehab’ from our destructive farming practices weaning our land off the ‘drugs’. Sarah Perriam digs deeper into what’s driving a new way of farming that is creating a groundswell of support in Canterbury, but not everyone’s convinced.

Internationally renowned ecologist Allan Savory’s TED Talk with over 4 million views on YouTube titled ‘How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change‘ was my introduction to the concept of ‘regenerative agriculture’.

Allan has dedicated his life to turning around ‘desertification’ which he refers to two-thirds of the world’s grasslands degraded from erosion from intensive livestock grazing and extensive soil cultivation. . .

The race to save a bumper kiwifruit season – Jim Kayes:

Tougher Covid-19 restrictions would have a massive impact on the billion-dollar industry, but growers remain cautiously optimistic they can beat the clock, writes Jim Kayes.

Craig Lemon sits in a room usually teeming with people, surrounded by bottles of hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.

With 260 hectares of kiwifruit orchards producing about 48 million of the green and yellow pockets of juicy vitamin C, his mind should be solely on the harvest. This is the time when the fruit is picked and packed, with Lemon’s Southern Orchards filling 1.5 million trays at his packhouses in South Auckland and Tauranga over the next few months. . . 

2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards say good, capable people are the cornerstone of their business.

Ralph and Fleur Tompsett were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards. Other major winners were Stephen Overend, who was named the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Lucy Morgan, the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Tompsetts say they want to continue to grow and develop their business. “It’s a goal of ours to bring great people along with us to share and enjoy the growth opportunities which our dairy industry provides.” . . 

Coronavirus: Taranaki farmer makes giant hay bale teddy for ‘Ted in the window’ campaign – Angie Skerrett

A Taranaki farmer has created a giant hay bale teddy bear as part of the international ‘Ted in the Window’ campaign.

The campaign which has been sweeping the globe, aims to entertain children during the COVID-19 restrictions by giving them something to look out for in their neighbourhood on a social-distanced scavenger hunt.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 26, 2020

COVID-19: Support rural businesses – Rural Women NZ – Pam Tipa:

We need to make sure that our rural businesses are well supported, says Fiona Gower, Rural Women NZ national president.

“With the lack of tourists coming through we need to ensure the small businesses can survive because without them we don’t have a community,” she told Rural News last week.

“Once they are gone it is really hard to get them back.

She says digital communication will also play an important part in the coronavirus response.  . . 

Rural businesses band together – Colin Williscroft:

Rural businesses Farmlands, PGG Wrightson and FarmSource have pledged to work together during the covid-19 response.

In an open letter, the companies’ chief executives said they will harness their collective supply chain to maintain productivity.

“It is time for us all to do what we can to try and continue to support you through these challenging times,” the letter says.

“We are working closely together to ensure that all farmers and growers across New Zealand have the necessary products and supplies to keep your businesses operating.  . . 

Rules driving farmers out – Sudesh Kissun:

New farming rules around sustainability are driving elderly farmers out of the dairy industry, says agri-economist Phil Journeaux.

He says over the past three years, there’s been an increase in farmers, in their 60s and 70s, looking at other options. Journeaux, AgFirst Waikato, spoke at a Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) seminar in Te Aroha last week.

Attended by about 50 farmers, the event went ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Maize volume okay but feed still tight – Richard Rennie:

The maize silage supply has shaped up better than might have been expected despite one of the driest summers on record stifling production.

Bill Webb of Bill Webb Feed Solutions near Te Puke said crops on lower, wetter country have performed better this year than last season when heavy rain washed out many crops on the same land.

“But on the higher, drier country the yields have proved to be quite variable. Average block yields would still be 22 tonnes a hectare but there are some on that lower country that would be up to 26t.”  . . 

2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals winners announced:

In a world that’s a little topsy-turvy it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate great New Zealand produce with the announcement of 2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medal winners.

Twenty-five judges and eight stewards worked in panels to assess a record 225 food and drink entries at AUT School of Hospitality & Tourism on Saturday 7 March 2020. Following the judges’ assessment of aroma, appearance, taste, texture and quality which accounted for 75% of marks, products were assessed for sustainability and brand story. Shoppers will recognise outstanding food and drink as they proudly wear Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards gold, silver and bronze medals—a guarantee of product quality. . . 

Maori orchardists capitalise on global demand for organic produce – Bonnie Flaws:

Māori orchardist Otama Marere has embraced organic kiwifruit production, converting a total of 7 hectares of its 45 hectare block into organic SunGold kiwifruit, with further conversions being considered.

The trust that manages the land has also held educational days on the land for other Maori kiwifruit growers interested in organic production, says orchard manager Homman Tapsell.

The land, near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty is a former Māori settlement on the banks of the Kaituna river, with the name coming from a nearby pa site that was occupied by Rangiiwaho and his whanau. Trust members are the descendants of Rangiiwaho, he said. . . 


Rural round-up

March 22, 2020

Farming and coronavirus – Primary Land Users Group:

Currently New Zealand is looking down the barrel of a massive health crisis and equally as bad economic crisis due to the advent of the Coronavirus.

New Zealand farming has over the last couple of years under the current government has been berated, belittled & blamed for almost all of the pollution problems that we are facing as a country.

This coalition government has produced many polices aimed at the farmers of New Zealand that are supposedly going to fix all of the problems that we have with pollution of our land & waterways and protection of our national indigenous biodiversity. . . 

Chinese demand provides cushion – Neal Wallace:

Reviving demand in China is providing primary sector exporters with some cushioning from covid-19 fallout as other countries start slipping into recession.

Having earlier this year weathered the virtual shutdown of China as it battled to contain covid-19, meat companies are seeing improved demand as life there slowly returns to normal.

Government restrictions confined people at home, preventing them working, shopping or eating at restaurants but they are slowly being lifted. . . 

Kiwifruit harvest tougher with worker loss – Richard Rennie:

The kiwifruit sector has been left hundreds of workers short after New Zealand’s unprecedented border shutdowns locked out seasonal workers for good this season.

Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Nikki Johnson confirmed 1300 Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from the Pacific Islands unable to get here. That represents more than half the region’s allocation for RSE staff.

The sector is seeking special dispensation to fly the workers in despite the border closure.  . . 

Young breeders from round the world gather – Sally Rae:

Fernando Alfonso describes Hereford cattle as a “very complete breed”.

Mr Alfonso, his brother Guzman, and Agustin Pineyrua were in New Zealand for the Boehringer Ingelheim World Hereford Conference.

The four-yearly conference, which was based in Queenstown, was last held in New Zealand in 1984. It attracted breeders from around the world for the week-long event.

A pre-conference tour was held in the North Island and a post-conference tour was being held in the South Island this week. . .

Cute sheep the rage at UK weddings – Sally Rae:

Brides-to-be take note. Having a sheep at a wedding is apparently all the rage in the United Kingdom.

But not just any old sheep – the Valais Blacknose, which originates from Switzerland, and is dubbed the world’s cutest sheep, is the breed of choice at wedding venues.

It might not have been a wedding but Abraham the ram was a crowd-pleaser at the Wanaka A&P Show yesterday.

Abraham was the first lamb born from 25 embryos imported from the UK by Motueka couple Lindsay and Sally Strathdee and Wairarapa-based business partner Christine Reed. . . 

Inside Pahiatua looking out:

According to the news reports reaching the backwoods here in Pahiatua, we hear the logging industry in the far North has been hit hard by the de escalation of raw log exports to China. The stockpiles of logs at ports are at saturation point. Cutting crews are unemployed and trucks sit idle. It does not look good for their local economy.

Meanwhile here in Pahiatua things appear quite different. The town has  Highway 2 running through its middle, either  to Eketahuna in the South or Woodville in the north.

I live on the Main Highway at the North end of town and being a petrolhead of long standing, I can occupy my twilight years sitting under my shade trees watching the passing parade. Which generally speaking is an ever changing kaleidoscope of kiwi’s on the move.  I can go to all the car shows and never have to leave home. . . 


Rural round-up

January 18, 2020

Disease’s cost killed meat firm – Jacob McSweeny:

Meat production at a 100-year-old Dunedin company has ceased and 13 staff have been made redundant but the owner of The Craft Meat Company says the business will live on.

The decision came after meat producers’ profits were cut by rising costs due to a global shortage of protein triggered by the African swine fever epidemic, owner Grant Howie said.

‘‘[It was] the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do,’’ Mr Howie said of the decision to axe staff. . . 

Sage softens lease land changes – Neal Wallace:

The Government appears to have softened the sharpest edges of proposed changes to the management of pastoral lease land while confirming farming will continue in the South Island high country.

The bill detailing changes to the Crown Pastoral Lands Act appears to back down on initial proposals that included greater political oversight of the activities of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, traditionally an independent position.

It seems also to accept submissions from farming sectors that lessees have legal rights to pasturage and quiet enjoyment of their land, which would have been compromised by the original recommendations. . . 

Fonterra pioneer expects much better:

One of the architects of Fonterra says he’s very disappointed with the co-op’s performance over the years.

Tirau farmer, Tony Wilding says farmers expected better when they formed the co-op in 2001. “It’s not the performance we had in mind when we formed Fonterra,” he told Rural News.

Wilding received a New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s honours list for his contribution to the dairy sector and community. . .

New chief executive for Meat Industry Association – Sudesh Kissun:

The Meat Industry Association has appointed Sirma Karapeeva as its new chief executive.

Karapeeva, who is currently the Meat Industry Association’s (MIA) trade and economic manager, has been with the trade association since 2015. She replaces Tim Ritchie who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Karapeeva, who takes over in April, held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles in Government before joining MIA.

Kiwifruit prices hit record high:

Kiwifruit prices were at an all-time high in December 2019, with prices for seasonal fruit and vegetables also up, Stats NZ said today.

“Kiwifruit prices rose 32 percent in December to a weighted average price of $8.27 per kilo, an all-time high,” acting consumer prices manager James Griffin said.

“This compares with $4.24 in December last year.” . . 

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open January 15th.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz. . . 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2019

Hocken wins Rabobank Emerging Leader award:

Manawatu dairy farmer Mat Hocken is the winner of the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award for 2019.

Hocken is director and owner of family business Grassmere Dairy, a 1000-cow dairy operation on the banks of the Oroua River in the Manawatu.

He becomes the first Kiwi to win the award since its introduction in 2013. The awards ceremony was held in Auckland last night. . . 

New Zealand arable farmers face unfair competition from imported grain – Gerard Hutching:

Arable farmers have appealed to their dairy farmer colleagues to buy their grain rather than importing it from overseas.

Federated Farmers arable spokeswoman Karen Williams complained about the lack of a level playing field over grain sales.

She was commenting on the Feds’ latest banking survey showing 30 per cent of the arable farmers surveyed felt under pressure and they also had the lowest percentage feeling very satisfied or satisfied (60 per cent). . . 

Boomer year for OAD farmers – Peter Burke:

A leading once a day (OAD) farmer says her farm is set to have a record year thanks to a combination of favourable circumstances – especially the weather.

Christine Finnigan who farms near Rongotea, Manawatu says the warm winter has seen good pasture growth into spring and her 220 Kiwi cross cows are in good condition.

She says the original target for this season was 78,000kgMS, but says if conditions stay favourable the record of 82,500kgMS could be reached. . .

Alliance pays out $15.2m:

Alliance Group says it has paid farmer shareholders a further $1.67 million in loyalty payments.

This brings the total bonuses it has distributed for the season to $15.2m.

The latest quarterly payments were made to the co-operative’s ‘platinum’ and ‘gold’ shareholders who supply 100% of their livestock to Alliance. The latest payments cover the July to September period. . . 

Last of Zespri’s 2019 New Zealand kiwifruit crop heading to markets:

The last of New Zealand’s successful 2019 kiwifruit crop has been shipped, with four containers of Zespri Green leaving Tauranga for North Asia, unloading in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Around 70 tonnes of the Bay of Plenty-grown kiwifruit was loaded onto the APL Denver this week which is expected to reach the first port in 15 days.

Blair Hamill, Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer, says 147 million trays of kiwifruit were shipped offshore this season to more than 50 countries, with record numbers of consumers creating unprecedented levels of demand.

“Our premium Zespri SunGold and Green Kiwifruit are more popular than ever, and over the course of the season we’ve moved 44 full charter shiploads and 17,160 containers, or more than 500,000 tonnes in total, to our markets,” Mr Hamill says. . . 

Women in Scottish farming ‘downplayed’ and ‘unseen’

A ‘fundamental cultural change’ is needed to ensure that women in the Scottish farming industry are valued more, a new report has revealed.

Women’s contribution to the sector can be ‘undervalued, downplayed, or simply unseen’, it explained.

The findings are included in a Women in Agriculture Taskforce report which was commissioned by the Scottish government. Taskforce co-chair Joyce Campbell said the the report has shone light into the ‘very dark corners of Scottish agriculture.’ . .

 


Rural round-up

June 26, 2019

Farmers urged to submit on carbon bill – Pam Tipa:

Both DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ are urging farmers to have their say on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill by July 16.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for the agriculture sector.

“That’s why farmer engagement is so important,” he says. He is encouraging dairy farmers to make a submission.

The bill’s full name is the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. . . 

Kiwi’s quinoa dream now a reality – Andrew Stewart:

A liking for a particular food on a foreign trip is paying dividends for Dan and Jacqui Cottrell and providing extra income for their Taihape farm. They told Andrew Stewart how they discovered quinoa and set about growing it in the central North Island.

Dan and Jacqui Cottrell didn’t realise an overseas adventure would change their lives forever. 

The year was 2012 and the couple were making the most of their South American odyssey when they had an epiphany in Peru. 

They had been eating a lot of quinoa, of which 80% of the global supply is grown in Peru, on their trip.  . . 

 

DIRA changes fall short – farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers want dairy industry regulations to apply equally to all milk processors in New Zealand.

They still want an end to the open entry/exit provisions of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) and an end to Fonterra providing subsidised raw milk to rival processors.

However, in proposed DIRA changes the Government has retained the open entry provisions but has allowed Fonterra the right to refuse milk from suppliers who are “not compliant with the co-op rules and from new dairy conversions”. . . 

Small kiwifruit have big taste – Richard Rennie:

Fruit size is providing the headwind to the new kiwifruit season while taste is the tailwind thanks to an exceptional late season ripening period that has left Zespri marketers with a paradigm for foreign markets.

Zespri’s grower alliance manager David Courtney said Green fruit size this season is 2.5 sizes smaller than usual and SunGold two sizes down on usual with the long, dry, ripening period scaling fruit down but pushing up drymatter levels to create exceptionally well flavoured fruit.

“We have had one grower who has been growing kiwifruit for 40 years who said he has never reported better drymatter levels in his crop.” . . 

New Zealand’s most fertile land dug up for housing – Indira Stewart:

Over the last decade more than 200 produce growers in Auckland have closed up shop as more rural land has been rezoned to residential to keep up with the demand for housing.

Now, after 60 years of growing vegetables in South Auckland, celery farmer Stan Clark has decided to close up as well.

Mr Clark’s celery farms were re-zoned from rural to residential in 2009 and the rising land rates are making business unsustainable.

The family is preparing to sell their much-loved farms in Pukekohe, a suburb that holds some of the country’s most fertile land, much of which is being dug up for housing. . . 

Large-scale dairy conversion farm with its own lake-sized reservoir placed on the market for sale:

A large-scale dairy conversion farm – complete with a huge lake-like reservoir –which has seen primary sheep and beef production replaced over the past decade in favour of milking, has been placed on the market for sale.

Strathallan Station some 26-kilometres north-west of Gisborne is a 1,213-hectare property currently milking a herd of 1,000 cows. Towards the centre of the property is a two-and-a-half-metre-deep ‘reservoir’ lake large enough for recreational kayaking and duck hunting. The reservoir sustains not only the farm’s irrigation needs, but also its milk shed requirements. . .


%d bloggers like this: