Rural round-up

15/10/2021

Investors see promising signs of recovery in infant formula sales in China – Point of Order:

After  a  rough  ride  since  Covid-19  struck, the New Zealand economy  is  in   better   shape   than might  have been  predicted  at the  onset  of the  pandemic.  Yet labour  shortages,  an energy crisis  in Europe  and  China, and  massive  inflationary  pressures suggest  that  the  passage  ahead   will  be  anything  but  smooth.

With  the  government abandoning  the  elimination  strategy  and  moving  towards  living  with  endemic  Covid, the  country  is adjusting  to  the  prospect  of  a  new  normal.  But  without  any  sign of  the  number of  cases  of the Delta  variant  diminishing, restrictions  may  persist  for  longer  than  might  have been  imagined  just  weeks  ago.

It’s  a  blow  to  industries  looking  to  inflows  of  workers  to ease  labour  shortages, particularly  in the  rural  regions,  which  last  season  sustained  the  economy  with  the  production of  commodities  that  were  in  relatively  tight  supply  in  world markets,  fetching excellent  returns. . .

Anchor Food Professionals reaches $3bn in annual revenue :

Anchor Food Professionals – Fonterra’s foodservice business – has defied Covid challenges to become a $3 billion annual revenue business.

Fonterra says the milestone was pleasing, despite restaurants around the world being affected by Covid-19.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell said the success was down to the the co-op’s strong connection to customers.

“Our people have worked hard to find new ways of working with customers and new product applications to suit the pandemic environment, and we can see this has been a success. . .

Kiwifruit growers take Gisborne District Council to High Court over land valuation method – Alice Angeloni:

Kiwifruit growers are taking Gisborne District Council to the High Court for including the licence to grow the gold variety in rating land valuations.

The national body representing growers, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI), has brought a judicial review proceeding of the decision to the High Court, and is supporting a grower on Bushmere Road, who has lodged an objection to their property valuation before the Land Valuation Tribunal.

Gisborne was the first region to adjust land valuation methods to include the value of the gold kiwifruit growing licence, known as the G3 licence, on the rateable value of the property.

The move has resulted in a rates hike Gisborne growers called “absurd” and inequitable, with reports of rates tripling for some. . .

A farming mystery hits social media – Vincent Heeringa:

Regenerative farming: only one person knows what it means (and it’s not you), writes Vincent Heeringa, but it is vital that it becomes known and understood

A new report by Beef and Lamb NZ sheds fresh light on the role that regenerative farming could play in growing our primary sector exports. The news is encouraging. Conducted by US food researcher Alpha Food Labs, the report shows that ‘conscious consumers’ in Germany, the UK and the US have a strong appetite for sustainable foods – and are even hungrier for foods labelled regenerative.

“After learning about the benefits of regenerative agriculture, the proportion of consumers willing to pay 20 percent or more increased in the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as the proportion willing to pay substantially more (i.e. 30 percent more) at least for the United States and Germany.” . . .

New Zealand pork tackles common misconceptions about pork nutrition :

As World Iron Awareness Week comes to a close, New Zealand Pork is reminding Kiwis of the many benefits of enjoying New Zealand pork as part of a healthy balanced diet.

“There are several misconceptions about pork, so this campaign has been designed to bust a few myths and give consumers simple easy facts around some benefits of enjoying delicious New Zealand pork in their diet,” says New Zealand Pork’s nutrition advisor Julie North of Foodcom.

“Some people believe all pork is a fatty meat, thinking of a pork roast with a thick layer of crackling or a juicy pork belly. However, most cuts of pork are quite lean when the external fat (which is easy to remove) is cut off. By trimming off the outer layer of fat, New Zealand pork is quite a lean meat.” . . 


Rural round-up

21/08/2021

Dairy auction prices deliver a pck-me-up for farmers and a tonic for the economy too – Point of Order:

New Zealand is back in lockdown and hopes of an early border   reopening  have been dashed, but  the   cows  still  have to  be  milked.  And  injecting  a  cheerful  note  into  an otherwise  downcast  country  this  week,  prices  at   the  latest  Fonterra global  auction  broke  a  losing run of  eight  consecutive  falls,  banishing  fears  that  the  opening  price  for  the  season  might  have to be trimmed.

The co-operative has set the opener  for the 2021/22 season at between $7.25kg/MS to $8.75  with a mid-point of $8. Its previous highest-ever opening price was $7kg/MS.

At  this  auction,  the price  index  lifted  0.3% from the previous auction a fortnight ago,  with the average  price   at US$3,827.  Prices for skim milk powder, butter and anhydrous milk fat rose, while whole milk powder declined. The average price is sitting 21% higher than at the same time last year. . .

An exciting chapter for wool – Annette Scott:

Wool growing as a business has been tough going in recent times but that is about to change as two major wool entities shore up a merger.

Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) and Primary Wool Co-operative are on the road promoting the benefits of their proposed merger ahead of the groundbreaking vote in November.

Primary Wool chair Richard Young told farmers at a meeting in Darfield the merger will mark the start of an exciting chapter for the wool sector.

“This is structural change that will act as a launch pad for NZ to truly realise the full potential of wool,” Young said. . .

A dome away from home – it’s the glamorous way of camping – Ashley Smyth:

Ask Amber and Patrick Tyrrell why they love what they do, and they are quick to tell you – it is the people, the people, the people.

The Otiake couple are the brains and determination behind Valley Views Glamping, which has been quietly overachieving in the accommodation sector for just over four years.

Valley Views offers completely off-grid, eco-friendly, luxury accommodation in six geodesic domes, and it delivers what it says on the packet, with expansive and impressive views over the Waitaki Valley.

Mr Tyrrell is South African-born, and Mrs Tyrrell (nee Slee) grew up not far from where they are based now. . . 

New Zealand’s largest kiwifruit grower posts increase in profit

Produce company Seeka has posted a 12 percent increase in profits for the first half of the year, driven by more volume coming through its kiwifruit business.

The company, which is the country’s largest kiwifruit grower, said net profit after tax was $20.6 million in its interim, unaudited results, up from 18.4million in the first half of last year.

Shareholders will also receive a dividend of 13 cents per share.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks said he was pleased with the result. . .

Skellerup delivers record profit :

Strong demand from the rural and industrial sectors has helped the rubber goods manufacturer Skellerup deliver a record profit.

The company makes hoses, nozzles and gumboots for the rural sector, and parts for boats, cars and kitchen appliances. It is perhaps best known for its red band gumboots.

Key Numbers . . .

Award sponsorship puts people at the centre of farm excellence:

As entries open for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Bayleys is proud to continue as sponsor of the Bayleys People in Primary Sector award, one of several offered in the prestigious farming competition.

Bayleys’ People in Primary Sector award recognises the effort made by entrants to attract, keep, and develop quality talent within their farming operations, while also incorporating the intrinsic values of environmental protection and outstanding farm management.

Bayleys is proud to support such an important initiative within the rural sector. Utilising our national rural network, it is an opportunity to showcase those individuals leading the way on farm and in their community. . . 


Rural round-up

26/07/2021

Wine journey culminates in sale – SallyRae:

Jim Jerram quips he has been out of his comfort zone for the past two decades.

Dr Jerram ditched a successful medical career to establish pioneering wine company Ostler Wines in the Waitaki Valley with his wife Anne.

He was convinced they could do something “quite special” with a style of wine that was different from Central Otago, given the geology and geography of the district.

That had proven to be the case and, while it had been a “wonderful journey”, the couple announced this week they had sold Ostler Wines to ACG Wines Ltd. . .

Passion to serve rural New Zealand – Neal Wallace:

Wilson Mitchell is a young man on a mission. The University of Otago medical student is passionate about rural communities and the health and wellbeing of those who live there. He spoke to Neal Wallace.

Wilson Mitchell attributes the hours spent crutching and drenching sheep over weekends and school holidays for helping fuel his desire to work in rural health.

The satisfaction of an honest day’s physical toil is one reason for his infatuation but more so mixing with rural people and observing the dynamics of their communities.

He may just be 23 years old and five years through his studies, but Wilson’s commitment to rural health has already extended beyond good intentions. . .

Merger would give stronger voice to farmers  – Wools of New Zealand :

Two farmer-owned wool companies are proposing to merge in a bid to create a stronger voice for the struggling wool industry.

Wools of New Zealand and Primary Wool Co-operative announced the move to their 2100 shareholders today – who will vote on the merger in November.

Ahead of the vote Primary Wool Co-operative will become the owner of CP Wool with the purchase of Carrfields Ltd’s 50 per cent shareholding.

Strong wool prices have been depressed in recent years with the price of wool sometimes not meeting the cost of shearing the sheep. . . 

Kiwi operator Apata on hunt for 200ha for new plantings

Whanganui looks set to become the next developing kiwifruit region.

A kiwifruit post-harvest operator and grower Apata is on the hunt for land to plant green and red kiwifruit.

Its chief executive Stuart Weston said the company had recently bought 60 hectares for new plantings, adding to the 70 hectares that they have had growing there for decades.

He said they are now pushing to get about 200 more hectares over the next season or two. . .

Kiwi made masks keeping our elite athletes at Olympic Games safe:

“Our New Zealand Olympic team will be protected by New Zealand made facemasks that use the same technology chosen to protect Nasa astronauts,” says Lanaco managing director Nick Davenport.

“Our elite athletes and wider team will use our unique New Zealand-made masks that use our specially designed Helix technology filters.

“We’ve provided more than 70,000 disposable facemasks, to the team, which can be re-used. They’ve received a mix of certified top-line respirators for high-risk use and resistance masks for non-competitive times. The masks are made in the national team colour of black.

“We worked with the New Zealand Olympic Committee and medical staff in the development process to produce an ideal mask for these elite athletes. . .

Growers seek to lock-in key crop ingredients – Wes Lefroy:

Unlike the toilet paper hoarders that emerged during COVID-19 lockdowns, Australian croppers have had valid reasons to swap their buying patterns from “just in time” to “just in case” when it comes to farm inputs, such as fertiliser and agri-chemicals.

This is to ensure product availability when it is needed most, and to mitigate against the risks of the exponential growth in prices that was experienced for a range of farm inputs in 2021.

Buyers of fertiliser and agri-chemicals, in particular, have felt the effects.

Year-to-date urea imports to the end of April were up by 59 per cent from the previous year. . . 

 


Rural round-up

14/07/2021

Farmer frustration is boiling over :

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says he’s not surprised frustration and anger about the deluge of new regulations and costs from central government is spilling over into protest meetings.

On Friday farmers in a number of districts around New Zealand are rounding up dog teams and firing up utes and tractors to head into their nearest town for peaceful protest rallies.

In his speech to the Federated Farmers National Council in Christchurch last week, Andrew referred to a “winter of discontent” in rural communities, with the so-called ute tax a straw that broke the camel’s back for many farming families.

The new “fee” on the farm vehicle work-horse to fund electric vehicle grants, when suitable EVs are not yet a realistic option for farmers, “has just highlighted in farmers’ minds that the Wellington Beltway thinkers just don’t get regional New Zealand“. . .

No workers, no growth! – Peter Burke:

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson says unless the kiwifruit industry gets more people to work in the sector, it may have to look at slowing down its speed of growth.

Matthieson told Hort News the biggest challenge for the industry is getting a good and consistent supply of people coming through the sector. Those who can help pick the fruit – as well as prepare the orchards for the next season’s crop. He adds the sector also want people to work through the post-harvest facilities to ensure that fruit is being managed well, to get it to market in the best condition.

Mathieson says New Zealanders currently make up about 55% of the kiwifruit sector’s workforce, while backpackers make up about 25% and RSE workers around 15%.

“We have a good mix, but we are certainly looking for more to supplement the migrant workers and the backpackers,” he told Hort News. . . 

Canterbury farmer’s only way out under threat – Sally Murphy:

A farmer in the Canterbury high country still cleaning up after last month’s flood is worried the bridge which connects them to the rest of the world could be washed away.

The heavy rain caused significant damage to Double Hill run road up the Rakaia Gorge leaving farmers isolated.

A four-wheel-drive track has since been cut on the road but a bridge near Redcliffs station is still surrounded by shingle.

Station farmer Ross Bowmar said he was still using a generator for power and had five kilometres of fencing to repair, but the bridge was his main concern. . . .

 

Farmer owned co-operatives need farmer-centered boards:

Former Ravensdown Board member Scott Gower is calling for farmers to step up and stay active in participating on boards of their co-operatives despite more demands being placed on farmers’ time.

Scott is a third-generation hill country sheep and beef farmer from Ohura near Taumarunui and retired from the Ravensdown Board last September after reaching the maximum term.

As an ownership structure, co-operatives contribute 18% of New Zealand’s GDP and one of the most important characteristics according to Scott is how they can take ‘the long view’ rather than seeking short-term commercial gain.

“The agsector is served by more co-operatives than most. Participation by working farmers is vitally important especially in the Board’s composition and determining its priorities. They can nominate candidates, they can run themselves and of course elect the directors that best represent how they think things should be governed,” Scott says. . .

Vegetables lead sharp rise in food prices:

The largest rise for vegetable prices in over four years pushed food prices up 1.4 percent during the June 2021 month, Stats NZ said today.

Vegetable prices rose 15 percent in June, mainly influenced by rising prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, capsicum, and broccoli. After adjusting for seasonal effects, vegetable prices were up 8.5 percent.

“We typically see price rises for many vegetables in winter due to seasonal effects,” consumer prices manager Matthew Stansfield said.

“However, we are seeing larger rises than usual for this time of the year and for a greater number of vegetables.” . .

Agritech industry grew over 2020, report shows – Nona Pelletier:

The agritech industry is growing steadily, despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Technology Investment Network (TIN) report for 2020 indicates there was growth across all parts of the sector, including the number of start-ups, export revenue, spending on research and development, and investment across all business types.

The top 22 agritech companies generated $1.4 billion in revenue.

Most of the new early stage companies offered information and communication technology, with a growing number offering biotech products. . . .


Rural round-up

05/05/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Hawke’s Bay farms short of specialist skilled workers – Sahiban Hyde:

Farms in Hawke’s Bay are at risk of staff fatigue as they struggle with a shortage of specialist skilled workers, says Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president.

This follows the decision of the Productivity Commission to hold an inquiry into our current immigration settings.

The inquiry will sit alongside existing changes planned by Immigration, including the implementation of reforms to temporary work visas and a review of the Skilled Migrant Category visa.

Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway said the closure of the border because of Covid-19 has seen roles typically filled by specialist skilled workers, relegated to inexperienced staff. . . 

We’ll pick ’em all – Peter Burke:

Kiwifruit is just too valuable not to be picked and despite the challenges of labour and weather, it will be picked.

That’s the message from the Kiwifruit Growers organisation (NZKGI) chief executive Nikki Johnson, who says wet weather and the late maturity of the fruit has slowed down picking. She told Hort News that some employers are faring better than others, which is consistent with other years, and there are still vacancies across packhouse and orchard roles – particularly for nightshift and weekend work.

“While there is a shortage of seasonal labour, we are focused on ensuring that all kiwifruit will be picked and packed this season. A shortage of labour may mean that managers need to be more selective about when particular fruit gets picked and packed,” Johnson says.

“People may also need to work longer shifts. However, the industry is extremely focused on ensuring that all kiwifruit is harvested. It is a high value crop, contributing around $2 billion to New Zealand’s kiwifruit regions in 2020.” . . 

Fruitful 10 years for avocado boss – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular has overseen the industry almost treble in value during the past 10 years. Scoular recently completed her 10th year as head of industry-good organisation NZ Avocado.

She and her team have helped guide the industry’s value growth from $68 million in 2011 to a forecast $200m in 2021.

She told Hort News that another achievement for her and the team was gaining crown funding for the first horticulture Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) to enable a step change in the industry. Scoular adds that NZ winning the rights to host the 2023 World Avocado Congress is another feather in her team’s cap.

She says the industry has also worked collaboratively to gain market access and to start exporting to China and India, two of the world’s largest economies. . . 

 

Family of farmers loving living the high life – David Hill:

A passion for farming is the secret to running a high country station, Annabel Tripp says.

Having lived all her life at Snowdon Station, north of Rakaia Gorge, Ms Tripp said there was no disadvantage to being a woman in the high country.

“It’s probably no different from being a man in the high country, really. It’s just about what your passion is, I guess.

“It’s really important that if you’re doing something, that you enjoy it and also that you try to do it to the best of your ability. . . 

Retirement a work in progress – Alice Scott:

Pat Suddaby says he might be retired but he’ll never stop working.

Since selling their 570ha sheep and beef farm in Hindon, near Outram, in 2010, Mr Suddaby and his wife Mary have ensured they have kept busy and active.

Mr Suddaby can be found these days working as a greenkeeper at the Middlemarch Golf Club and he is also an active member of the Strath Taieri Lions Club.

When the farm was sold, there was an adjustment period, Mr Suddaby said. . . 

 

Time the national beef herd’s facts were actually heard – Chris McLennan;

The Australian beef industry is already tired of being told their message of sustainability is not being heard.

But they have been reassured when they finally make headway against the anti-meat lobby, they will have transparency and truth on their side.

Australia’s beef industry has been patiently gathering key facts from individual farms for years.

Experts say all this data will be vital when the time is ripe to lay all the facts out before the public, the good, bad and the ugly. . . 


Rural round-up

07/03/2021

We need to remember the ‘silent majority’ who don’t want faux food – Andy Walker:

Being a Kiwi, I don’t want to argue with any Aussies reading this, but pavlova is, in fact, a Kiwi invention.

However, if it’s made from grass, like this one, you can have it. Will this trend towards plant-based food alternatives end? Probably not.

In the EU 3.2 per cent of people are vegans, and 30.9 per cent are either vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians.

In New Zealand, the number of people eating “meat-free” has doubled from 7 per cent tp 15 per cent in four years. Australia, which ranks in the top five meat eating nations, now ranks second in the world for vegans. . .

Vaccine timeline for truck drivers necessary – Road Transport Forum :

To ensure continuity in the supply chain, the road freight industry needs to know when truck drivers will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, says Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett.

Leggett says he wrote to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins in January to enquire about vaccine prioritisation used by the Government to determine workers in essential industries.

“The trucking industry is keen to understand when its frontline workers, mainly drivers, might be in line for a vaccination and whether they will be given priority over the general population, given their importance in keeping the supply chain running,” says Leggett.

He says there is increasing urgency in getting truck drivers vaccinated because of the current Auckland lockdown. . . 

Grape harvest gets under way – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago’s wine harvest is under way as sparkling varieties are being picked and pressed.

Winemaker Rudi Bauer, of Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate, said lessons learned from last year’s harvest, conducted during lockdown, had proved useful as the harvest began.

At the 30ha vineyard in Bendigo, pinot noir grapes were being harvested yesterday, with chardonnay soon to follow.

The challenges of getting this year’s crop off the vines were still there in terms of labour, but Central Otago had learned a lot from 2020’s lockdown harvest, Mr Bauer said. . . 

Projects closer to home ‘excite’ – David Hill:

Cam Henderson is excited about some new projects “closer to home”.

The Oxford farmer has already announced his intention to step down as Federated Farmers North Canterbury president at May’s annual meeting and has already filled the void.

Mr Henderson was recently appointed as one of two new associate directors on DairyNZ’s board of directors and has recently been made a trustee of the newly renamed Waimak Landcare Group.

He also planned to step down from his role as Waimakariri Zone Committee deputy chairman, Mr Henderson said. . . 

Largest ever kiwifruit harvest begins:

  • First of 2021’s kiwifruit crop picked in Gisborne
  • 2021 expected to overtake last year’s record of 157 million trays
  • Kiwis encouraged to get involved in kiwifruit harvest

New Zealand’s 2021 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first commercial crop being picked this morning in Gisborne and more kiwifruit to be picked across New Zealand over the coming days.

The 2021 season is forecast to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before, overtaking last year’s record of 157 million trays of export Green and Gold. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

The Gold variety is usually picked first, followed by Green kiwifruit in late March. Harvest peaks in mid-April and runs through until June. . . 

Aussies expected to dominate world sheepmeat export supply – Kristen Frost:

The gap between Australia and New Zealand’s export sheepmeat industry has narrowed, with industry experts anticipating Australia will continue to dominate world sheepmeat export supply for the remainder of the decade.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO), in 2019 Australia and New Zealand sheep meat exports was 71 per cent of the total sheep meat export volumes.

And recently Australia has eclipsed NZ to become the worlds largest exporter of sheep meat product with 36pc of global trade in 2020, compared to 30pc for NZ. . . 


Rural round-up

03/03/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Golden Shears cancelled for first time in 61-year history :

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled.

The decision was made at an emergency executive meeting this morning, following the overnight announcement of a return to Covid-19 alert level 2 across most of the country and the escalation to level 3 in Auckland.

Confirming the decision, Golden Shears said entry fees and tickets would be refunded.

Tickets purchased online through Eventfinda will be refunded, competitor entries done online will be refunded online through PayPal, and those having entered non-website are being asked to email competitor name and bank account details to office@goldenshears.co.nz. . . 

A woolly great idea – Sally Rae:

Phenomenal” is how South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie describes watching the processing of Bales4Blair wool at a Timaru scour — and seeing the piles of donations from around the country.

Bales4Blair was launched in memory of Winton man Blair Vining, whose petition to create a national cancer agency was signed by more than 140,000 New Zealanders.

The wool was given by farmers to be made into insulation for the new Southland Charity Hospital.

The initiative was started by Mrs Blaikie, who pitched the idea to a couple of friends, Eastern Southland farmers Brooke Cameron and Sarah Dooley. . . 

’Stormy fruit’ provides ray of sunshine from Motueka hailstorm – Tim Newman:

A Nelson apple company is hoping its new product will bring a ray of light out of the gloom brought on by the Boxing Day Hailstorm.

Over the weekend Golden Bay Fruit launched its new “Stormy Fruit” brand, comprised of apples which suffered cosmetic damage in the hailstorm but were otherwise unaffected.

Golden Bay Fruit chief executive Heath Wilkins said while the company had been mulling over the concept for several years – the hailstorm had significantly increased the amount of fruit that would fall into the new product line.

He said a significant portion of the fruit was severely damaged by the hail and had to be immediately picked and discarded, but there was another portion of fruit that just received small indentations on the surface. . .

Want to earn at least $22 an hour? Kiwifruit packhouses up rates – Carmen Hall:

Kiwifruit packhouses are offering workers more money and flexible shifts in a desperate effort to avoid a labour crisis as another record-breaking harvest looms.

The harvest is expected to kick off within the week with 23,000 seasonal workers needed nationally – including about 20,000 in the Bay of Plenty.

Packhouses spoken to by NZME are offering major incentives – including flexibility across shifts alongside roles that could lead to fulltime employment.

Starting rates will be $22.10 an hour compared with last year’s average hourly packhouse rates of $19 to $20. . . 

Avocados from Oaonui on your toast – Catherine Groenestein:

A tiny coastal Taranaki community known for dairy farms and a natural gas production station could one day become known for its avocados.

Oaonui, 8 kilometres north of Opunake, was identified in last year’s Taranaki Land and Climate Assessment as an area suitable for growing the fruit.

The report was part of the two-year Branching Out collaboration between economic development agency Venture Taranaki and the food and fibre sector to investigate new commercial opportunities for the region.

Next month, representatives from the avocado industry will be in New Plymouth for a seminar on growing the fruit commercially. . .

Beef demand volatile but there are green shoots – Shan Goodwin:

WITH many of Australian beef’s largest destinations still well in the grip of COVID, and tightening supply of cattle at home putting a hefty price tag on product, the demand outlook could not be described as anything other than volatile.

However, there are some solid fundamentals in place that suggest the outlook is not all doom and gloom.

Global beef consumption is still forecast to grow, Australia enjoys a reputation for safe, high quality, consistent beef and a key lesson from last year was that stable, well-established markets shine through in times of turbulence. . . .

 


Rural round-up

15/02/2021

A tradition of love for the land – Sally Rae:

Maniototo farming families have headed for the hills each summer, moving their sheep into the mountains for summer grazing, in what is believed to now be a unique pilgrimage in New Zealand. This weekend, the Soldiers Syndicate is celebrating its centennial, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

In the first year Phil Smith mustered on the Soldiers Syndicate, the mustering team got snowed in at Blue Duck hut in the remote Otago back country.

It was so cold the men’s hobnail boots froze to the floor and icicles hung around the old tin hut.

“I just thought to myself, what the hell are we doing?” the then 21-year-old recalled. . .

Call from uncle started decades of adventure – Sally Rae:

Tim Crutchley has a humorous explanation for why he keeps turning up for the Soldiers Syndicate musters.

“It’s a bit like working … on the wharf. If you don’t turn up, they all start talking about you. I’m a bit worried they’ll start running me down,” Mr Crutchley (63), who lives in Waikouaiti, quipped.

He would have notched up 40 musters last year — if Covid-19 had not interfered — and he reckoned he would probably keep returning as long as he was physically able to.

Despite being somewhat of a gypsy himself, and moving around, it was one place he kept going back to, and he was looking forward to the centennial celebrations and catching up with people he had not seen for a long time. . .

Kiwifruit growers’ PSA case: Government agrees to pay sector $40 million :

The government has agreed to pay $40 million to kiwifruit sector plaintiffs over the arrival of the vine killing disease PSA.

The disease arrived in New Zealand in 2010 and brought losses to the kiwifruit industry of an estimated $900 million.

Strathboss Kiwifruit Limited, representing a group of growers, and Seeka Limited, a post-harvest operator, and others, have agreed to accept a Crown offer of $40m, which includes a $15m contribution from the Crown’s insurers. The plaintiffs had brought a claim for $450m plus interest.

Legal challenges have been running since 2014, when the claimants filed against the Crown for what they alleged was actionable negligence in allowing PSA into the country. . . 

Banking on hemp becoming mainstream – Country Life:

A Canterbury hemp grower is swinging open his farm gates to showcase the crop.

Mainland Hemp’s Jamie Engelbrecht says people are learning of the plant’s potential but still have lots of questions so they are welcome to attend two upcoming field-day events.

Jamie was born and bred on a sheep and beef property in Waimate then studied farm management at Lincoln University.

The former rural bank manager has recently left his job at ASB to focus on the hemp growing and processing business he started with some Lincoln mates a couple years ago. . . 

Heat stress a priority during busy year for animal welfare work :

A significant amount of work is under way this year to update animal welfare codes and provide updated advice to farmers for issues such as heat stress, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

MPI veterinarian and director for animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell said early next month MPI, in collaboration with industry partners through the Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum, will review its work programme after recently completed shade and shelter research.

Dr Rodwell says that while mitigating heat stress in livestock is complex, MPI is confident that this pan-sector discussion will ensure a joined-up approach is taken.

“The industry has already been proactive on this issue and we are looking forward to keeping that momentum going in order to deliver the best welfare outcomes for outdoor livestock.” . . 

Buoyant year for primary sector with caveats:

New Zealand growers and farmers have kicked off the year with plenty of upbeat news, with strong commodity prices, relatively robust supply lines and continuing strong consumer demand for quality food putting farmers in a positive frame of mind as the new year starts.

The latest Federated Farmers farm confidence survey highlights just how positive farmers are, with a 34 point leap in confidence from last July, when farmers’ confidence was at its lowest in the survey’s 12 year history.

Bayleys national director rural Nick Hawken says the strong prices being received across the primary sector for red meat, milk, horticultural produce and wine is good not only for farmers’ returns, budgets, and frame of mind, but is also positive for the underlying productive value of their rural land investment. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/01/2021

A world first for collagen water – RIchard Rennie:

Collagen, often the main component of gelatin, has surged in profile over recent years. It is also the main structural protein in mammals’ bodies, and is now hailed as a nutritional supplement to help muscle mass, aid arthritis and improve skin quality. Richard Rennie spoke to Luci Firth whose idea for a collagen water has become a world-first reality.

Working as a graphic designer for a Japanese client, Luci Firth soon became aware of the significance Asian consumers place on collagen as a daily part of their diet, and how far behind New Zealanders were in awareness about its claimed health benefits.

“In places like Japan you will find it regularly used as something you sprinkle on your rice, or buy it from a corner store to add to your cooking. We have been a bit slower to pick up on it,” Firth said. . .

Rural literacy trust struggles for support – Jessica Marshall:

Jo Poland started the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust (RYALT), formerly the Adult Literacy Trust, from her kitchen table in 2011.

Poland, who has taught and been involved in teaching adult literacy since 1994, was approached by a local Port Waikato mother who was looking for help for her daughter who struggled with reading and writing.

Thus, Poland was inspired to found RYALT with two other trustee members.

Since then, RYALT has helped close to 1000 people – youths and adults.

Farms ales rise at the end of 2020:

Farm sales ended 2020 on a healthy note with a 15 percent increase compared to the same time the previous year.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data shows 32 percent more finishing farms and 26 percent more dairy farms were sold in the three months ended December 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. Sales of grazing farms were down 9 percent and 23 percent fewer arable farms were sold.

The median price per hectare was up $4000 to just over $27,000. . .

LIC half-year report – enomics investment delivering for farmers and co-op:

LIC announces its half-year financial results for the six months to 30 November 2020, which show continued strength in the cooperative’s financial performance with increased revenue and underlying earnings.

Performance Highlights H1 2020-21:

  • $169.7 million total revenue, up 3.8% from $163.4 million in the same period last year.
  • $33.4 million net profit after tax (NPAT), up 10.4% from $30.3 million. . .

Zespri plan to partner with Chinese growers off the table, for now :

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri’s hope to partner with Chinese growers illegally growing gold kiwifruit are on hold.

Last year unauthorised plantings of the high value fruit almost doubled to at least 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a hectare to grow it, so in a bid to control plantings in China, Zespri had hoped to work with Chinese growers and authorities in what it called a “win- win” commercial agreement.

But Kiwifruit New Zealand, which independently regulates Zespri, has thrown out the proposal for now. . .

‘Setting the example’: About 330 Riverside County farmworkers vaccinated at event in Mecca – Rebecca Plevin:

Beatriz Martinez has continued working in the fields of the Coachella and San Joaquin valleys throughout the coronavirus pandemic. She has followed a series of protocols — maintaining a 6-foot distance from other workers, avoiding eating in close proximity to others during her lunch breaks and washing her hands frequently — and she has not contracted COVID-19.

On Thursday morning, the 54-year-old Coachella resident took a break from pruning grapevines at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, where she has worked for 35 years, to get vaccinated. She was among approximately 330 agricultural employees who got the shot at the ranch, in what county officials believe was the state’s first large vaccination event specifically for farmworkers.

Martinez — who wore a surgical mask and a colorful bandana over her mouth, and clutched a wide-brimmed hat in her hand — said in Spanish she was “really happy” to get vaccinated. She was grateful to get inoculated during work hours, she added, calling it a “reward” for all the years she had worked for the company. . . 

 


Rural round-up

04/12/2020

Petition seeks rewrite of controversial regulations – Sally Rae:

A petition has been launched this week seeking a rewrite of the controversial new freshwater rules.

It has been organised by Groundswell NZ, a new group which stemmed from a tractor trek in Gore in October expressing farmers’ feelings about the regulations.

It comprised a mix of dairy and sheep and beef farmers and some involved in farm servicing and contracting. All were passionate about the rules being “unworkable”, Greenvale sheep and beef farmer Laurie Paterson, in whose name the petition is listed, said yesterday.

The petition requested the House of Representatives to urge the Government to review and amend the national policy statement for freshwater management to ensure it was based on science and best practice for each catchment and farm, and did not require farmers to sow on specific dates. Mandatory sowing dates would compromise health and safety and stress mental health, Mr Paterson said. . .

Biosecurity more important than ever – Peter Burke:

Biosecurity is even more important to New Zealand as the country starts to recover from Covid-19.

That’s the message from Penny Nelson, head of biosecurity at the Ministry for Primary Industries. She told Rural News, at the recent biosecurity awards at Parliament, that biosecurity underpins our primary sector exports – as well as many of the special taonga we have.

She says we just can’t afford to have big incursions at the moment. “I was interested to hear that in the KPMG’s agribusiness survey, biosecurity has been the top issue for the past 11 years. I think New Zealanders realise we have a special way of life and we want to keep it.” . . 

Zespri aiming for Crown research partnership to develop new kiwifruit varieties – Maja Burry:

Kiwifruit giant Zespri wants to establish a Kiwifruit Breeding Centre in partnership with Crown research institute Plant & Food Research.

In an update sent to growers today, Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said the proposed centre would be dedicated to breeding new kiwifruit cultivars, creating healthier, better tasting and more sustainability-focused varieties to fulfil the growing demand from consumers.

Mathieson said the 50/50 joint venture would strengthen the work already taking place in the breeding programme which it runs in partnership with Plant and Food.

“This is an exciting step forward for our industry and a natural evolution of the hugely successful 30-year relationship between Zespri and PFR which has delivered such strong returns. . . 

Licence to grow gold kiwifruit added to Gisborne rateable land value:

Authorities in Gisborne have decided a $400,000 per hectare licence to grow gold kiwifruit adds value to the land, and will mean a sizeable rates increase.

Gisborne is the first region to adjust land valuation methods for gold kiwifruit properties to now include the value of the growing licence on the rateable value of the property.

This follows a meeting between the Valuer-General and valuers in August, in which they decided the licence should be included in the Value of Improvements, which requires the “assessment of the value of all work done on or for the benefit of the land”.

All councils with gold kiwifruit would have to reassess their methods. . . 

Fresh milk in glass bottles vends itself – Abbey Palmer:

When Melissa Johnson first suggested the idea of selling raw milk in bottles from a vending machine, her husband thought it was a “stupid idea for hippies”.

Just over three years and two vending machines later, the Southland partners in life and business are delivering hundreds of bottles to thousands of customers across the South every week.

Following a decision to downsize and do their own thing, the former large-scale contract milkers started their milk business, Farm Fresh South, in Woodlands, with 35 calves in 2017.

Mrs Johnson spotted a raw milk vending machine when holidaying near Nelson and liked the business concept. . . 

Lifestyle venture, wine not?

A fantastic lifestyle opportunity in the heart of the East Coast wine-producing region is set to attract interest from across the country, says Bayleys Gisborne salesperson Jenny Murray.

“The character property at 16 Riverpoint Road, Matawhero typifies the relaxed atmosphere Gisborne is famous for while providing an exceptional home, lifestyle and business opportunity,” she adds.

Spanning nearly 8,000sqm (more or less) across the Waipaoa Bridge on the site of the Old Bridge Hotel, the property is offered for sale by auction at 1pm on 11 December. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/11/2020

The role of red meat in healthy & sustainable New Zealand diets :

For the last 25 years, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s health and nutrition portfolio has been underpinned by a strong scientific evidence base which continues to evolve through the release of a new report, titled The Role of Red Meat in Healthy and Sustainable New Zealand Diets.

The report pulls together the breadth of information of a complex topic, which we hope will help inform the many discussions around feeding a growing population well. The report includes the human evolution of eating meat, red meat’s nutritional contribution to the diet of New Zealanders, it’s role in health and disease and where New Zealand beef and lamb production, and consumption fits within our food system and ecosystem. The farming practices of our beef and sheep sector is profiled capturing all facets that reflects our pasture-raised systems here in New Zealand.

Compiling the report required a range of expertise from across New Zealand, which has cumulated in a piece of work that navigates through the scientific evidence of the ever-evolving areas of nutrition and environmental sustainability, and the interfaces which brings them together – sustainable nutrition and food systems. . . 

B+LNZ’s Rob Davison wins Outstanding Contribution Award:

Long-serving Beef + Lamb New Zealand economist Rob Davison won the Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand’s Primary Industries Award at this year’s Primary Industries Summit.

This prestigious award recognises a New Zealand-based individual, within the primary sector, who has been considered a leader in their field of work for 20 years or more.

In selecting the recipient for this prestigious award, the judges were looking for long-standing commitment to the New Zealand primary sector, passion for the sector and its future and actions or initiatives that go beyond their day job and benefit the industry, the community and country.

In his forty-plus years with Beef + Lamb New Zealand (and the organisation’s previous incarnations), Rob has done all of this and more. He is highly respected by farmers, the wider industry and his work colleagues within B+LNZ.  This was recognised by him being awarded an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List. . . 

Fruit-picking worries remain as growers lament dearth of Kiwi labour – Tom Kitchin:

Growers say fruit may still be left to rot, despite the government promising 2000 seasonal workers from the Pacific can come through the border to help with the harvest.

They claim thousands of workers are still needed and New Zealand employees are hard to come by.

The employers will have to pay isolation and hourly work rates while the seasonal workers are locked down for two weeks in hotels.

Bostock New Zealand’s John Bostock, from Hawke’s Bay, said this was not about cost saving, but Kiwis willing to do the work were difficult to recruit. . . 

 

Eastpack adds robots to packing lines as part of $155m investment – Carmen Hall:

Robots will pack kiwifruit at Eastpack this season as part of a 12-month, $35 million investment plan across its business.

The company has commissioned an automation conversion on its largest 14 lane kiwifruit grader with three massive robots and a number of automated packing machines.

But expense could stand in the way of new technologies replacing thousands of seasonal workers despite an ongoing labour shortage. However other packhouse evolutions had become game changers as the industry continues to boom.

Chief executive Hamish Simson said in the last five years the company had pumped more than $155m into increased storage capacity at its sites and innovation including automation technology. . . 

Moving to Mangawhai to experience the miracle of lambing – Chrissie Fernyhough:

From 10,000 acres at Castle Hill Station in the Canterbury high country to 25 acres on the clay soils at Hakaru in Northland has proven a big reach.

Hakaru is an old settlement on the east coast, midway between Mangawhai and Kaiwaka, an hour and a half north of Auckland. The property lies beautifully to the north and looks down into a green valley where the Hakaru River flows in the shade of old tōtara trees.

To the north, I have what I love in a view – the near and the far: paddocks, pine shelterbelts, the odd house lit up at night and, in the distance, the bush-covered
Brynderwyns – a range extending from Bream Bay in the east to the upper branches of the Kaipara Harbour to the west. . . 

Thankful for resilience in life and agriculture – Tsosie Lewis:

It has been a hard year: COVID-19, lockdowns, urban riots, a contentious US national election, and even murder hornets.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, I am focused on making extra time to think about the good things in our lives.

One of them is resilience.

This idea occurred to me the other day when I was standing in line at the grocery store, here in New Mexico. The guy ahead of me at the checkout was about my age. He made a comment that I’m starting to hear more and more. . . 


Rural round-up

18/11/2020

Farmers care about animals says vet – Peter Burke:

A leading veterinarian says in his opinion farmers are doing a better job now than ever in regards to animal welfare.

Richard Hilson is the managing director of Vet Services Hawke’s Bay, which has a staff of 120 people including about three dozen vets. Hilson says he gets frustrated when he sees a lot of publicity given to people who treat animals badly. He says the reality is that these few individuals unfairly give farming a bad name.

In recent months there have been several high profile cases of animals being mistreated and people being prosecuted for failing to adequately feed cows to killing a lamb. 

Hilson says there is a greater awareness about animal welfare and often people who harm animals find that others who know them report them to the authorities. Hilson says these days, people realise that it’s not okay to mistreat animals. . .

Making wool great again :

A West Otago couple were so sick of seeing so much synthetic clothing around they decided to do something about it.

Murray and Julie Hellewell run sheep and beef on their hilly 610-hectare Waitahuna West property. The focus though is the sheep.

“The sheep are our money and the cattle are here just to look after the pastures and make it better for the sheep,” Murray says.

However, strong wool prices have been trending down for years. . . 

Gisborne couple tout their smooth ‘never dud’ avocados :

Cutting into avocados can be a lottery.

They hold so much promise. A twist of the halves can reveal uniform, creamy, olive-green flesh.

But sometimes they’re destined straight for the compost bin.

They can be stringy, have brown spots or be disappointingly watery.

However Gisborne growers, David and Judi Grey, who have been growing and testing avocados for 50 years, have developed new varieties they say are perfect, every time. . . 

New research project to provide insight into kiwifruit disease PSA:

A new research project that may help future-proof the kiwifruit industry has received a Fast Start Marsden grant.

The project, led by Dr Jay Jayaraman at Plant & Food Research and titled: How do new pathogen incursions evolve during host infection, will investigate the plant pathogen Psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae), to understand how it evolves during infection of the kiwifruit plant.

Psa caused severe damage in New Zealand’s kiwifruit crops after its discovery in 2010. While the industry recovered, thanks to a new cultivar with improved disease tolerance, exploring alternative ways to manage the disease in future is still essential, particularly given the possibility that Psa could adapt to the new cultivar. . . 

Hi-tech hand-luggage scanner gives biosecurity a huge boost at Auckland Airport :

A new hi-tech baggage scanner at Auckland Airport will provide another crucial layer of protection against invasive pests and diseases, says Biosecurity New Zealand.

The computer tomography (CT) scanner made its first detection earlier this month – two bananas in a small carry-on bag arriving with a New Zealand family from Dubai.

Biosecurity New Zealand has been trialling the technology with selected flights since late October. Arriving passengers have their hand baggage scanned before they collect checked-in items from the airport carousels.

“We’re deliberately targeting baggage that travellers carry off the plane. It’s where we’re most likely to find food that could host fruit fly and other pests,” says Brett Hickman, Border Technology Manager, Biosecurity New Zealand. . . 

Ben Tombs from Peregrine Wines announced NZ Young Winemaker of the Year 2020:

Congratulations to Ben Tombs from Central Otago for becoming the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year. Ben is Assistant Winemaker at Peregrine Wines in the Gibbston Valley and the first Young Winemaker from Central Otago to win the competition.

The other national finalists were Ben McNab from Matahiwi in Wairarapa and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough, who both took out sections of the competition, showing the very high calibre of contestants taking part. The judges were hugely impressed with their knowledge, passion and professionalism throughout the day.

The competition is tough and really stretches the finalists. Firstly, they had to prepare a presentation in advance about what the future wine consumer looks like and how New Zealand can maintain its competitive edge around the world. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/10/2020

50 years of flower farming  – two families harness the power of sunflowers for bird food company – Emma Rawson:

Two Waitaki families farming in partnership for more than 50 years have developed a bird-loving business out of a crop sown on a wing and a prayer.

Riotous rows of yellow sunflowers beaming from fields south of Ōamaru are a shot of happiness in the Waitaki landscape. Sandwiched between crops of golden wheat and barley, the big friendly giants turn up the colour dial to a saturated yellow.

The exact location of the flowers, grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for more than 50 years, is usually kept on the low down.

Sometimes they are planted on Thousand Acre Road between Ōamaru and Kakanui, sometimes further inland towards Enfield. Crop rotation is the official reason; sunflowers need a five-year interval before being replanted in the same field since they are prone to fungal disease. However, transplanting the lots has the bonus of tricking the birds and keeping humans on their toes until the flowers hit their full two-metre height and yellowy glory at the end of January. . . 

Hawke’s Bay growers consider ‘every possible option’ to fill worker shortage – Thomas Airey:

Horticulture and viticulture growers are trying to be innovative and flexible in order to attract the employees they need to get through a worker shortage for the coming summer season.

There is an urgent need for local seasonal labour, with limited availability of overseas workers due to Covid-19 and 10,000 workers required to thin, pick, package and process the year’s crop between November and April.

The industry has joined up with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the region’s local government leaders to deliver a plan to the Government next month to resolve the situation.

Part of that plan includes a growers’ employment expo and information session on Tuesday, November 10, through which they plan to showcase the summer work and career opportunities in the sector. . . 

One-size-fits all-model no more – Anthony Beverley:

New Zealand’s farmers are among the most efficient and productive in the world — and they need to be.

Our world is demanding high-quality, environmentally-friendly food. At the same time, regulatory costs continue to build; our weather is increasingly challenging to bank on and farm profitability and balance sheets are under pressure.

As a result, farmers are increasingly looking more closely at the economic contribution of each part of their farms. Not all land is the same; some parts of farms — if farmers are really honest about it — cost them money to farm.

It’s the steep, rough hill country out the back that farmers are taking a second look at. Not only is this land unprofitable, but it’s often difficult and dangerous to farm. This land is typically erosion-prone and topsoil run-off is undermining farmers’ broader environmental efforts. . . 

Award winner a hands-on business owner – Sally Rae:

Whether  about horses or lambs, alpacas or goats — Henrietta Purvis derives satisfaction from positive feedback from happy animal owners.

She and her husband Graeme Purvis operate Purvis Feeds from their Waianakarua property, south of Oamaru, selling lucerne chaff throughout New Zealand.

Very much a hands-on business owner who spends time both in the cutting shed and on the books, Mrs Purvis has been named the innovation category winner in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards . . 

Researchers find ‘sweet spot’ for kiwi fruit pollination

Upping the proportion of female flowers in a kiwifruit orchard may boost production, according to new research.

Plant and Food Research scientists and collaborators from the USA have compiled more than 30 years of field-based data from kiwifruit research to create “digital twins” of pollination processes in kiwifruit orchards, and have used these to predict how growers can optimise their fruit set.

Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical systems – in this case mathematical models of the biology of the plants and the behaviour of pollinating bees.

These digital twins gave researchers the ability to examine complex scenarios which examine multiple, intertwined factors at once. . . .

Brahmans from North Queensland are in demand from NSW graziers – Kent Ward:

Demand for larger lines of quality cattle has seen North Queensland become the go-to market for New South Wales graziers as they rebuild their herds.

The strong demand from southern restockers has not only provided competition at northern store sales, but also seen paddock deals culminate in thousands of cattle being trucked across the border in recent months.

Since March of this year, private agency firm Kennedy Rural has successfully sold and overseen the transport of in excess of 10,000 head of cattle into areas of NSW. . . 


Rural round-up

27/08/2020

‘People, trust’ key to environmental work – Sally Rae:

A group of farmers in the Wanaka area have taken a proactive approach to water quality in  their patch and  are now moving into stage 2 of  their catchment group project. Sally Rae reports.

“Relationships and people. I don’t know why when it comes to the environment, we always forget that. I can wax on about science up to my wazoo — this thing is purely about people, relationships and trust.”

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle is referring to the Wanaka Catchment Group, set up three years ago and comprising 15 large properties that drain into or are upstream of Lake Wanaka.

Representing 95% of the farmed catchment, they range from fourth generation — such as the Aspinall family at Mt Aspiring Station — to overseas owners and everything in between. . . 

Why farmers are talking trees – Sam McIvor:

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says turning productive farmland to plantations for carbon farming will have negative effects on rural communities and the Government should rethink its flawed approach.

Trees have become a hot topic with farmers lately, and with good reason.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supports protecting and restoring native bush and the planting of forestry on farms in a way that complements the landscape. However, we’re concerned about the impact of policies that economically incentivise wholesale land use change from pastoral-based farming into exotic trees for carbon offsetting.

Put simply, we’re not anti-forestry – we’re against policies that will lead to widespread carbon farming, which will have detrimental effects on our rural communities. . . 

Big win for Fonterra in latest DIRA amendments – Keith Woodford:

New DIRA settings give Fonterra what it wanted but make life much more challenging for any new dairy processors.

Fonterra will be feeling very pleased with the final outcomes from the much drawn-out 2018-2020 review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). Last minute changes as a consequence of Fonterra’s lobbying have made it very hard for any new start-ups to nibble away at Fonterra’s dominance.

These latest DIRA amendments were passed in late July and were supported across the political spectrum.  They were inserted at a late stage in the Select Committee process, and were a fait accompli before outsiders realised what was happening.  Someone in Fonterra deserves a job promotion for their lobbying skill. . . 

Sixty hectares of kiwifruit being planted in the Whanganui region – Mike Tweed:

Whanganui dairy farmers Jarrod and Holly Murdoch will soon be turning 20 hectares of their Waitotara land into a kiwifruit orchard.

They’re part of a burgeoning kiwifruit growing industry in the region, which includes Mangamahu grower David Wells who is now adding 16.5ha to his existing 3.5.

These projects, along with another 20ha of kiwifruit planting in the Whanganui region, have resulted in New Zealand company Apata Group Limited, which harvests, packs and stores fruit, signing on to provide infrastructure and oversee the growing of these crops.

Wells, who began growing kiwifruit in 1978, said Apata’s involvement, as well as support from local investors “triggered it all”. . . 

Honey may be a better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicines –  Rob Picheta:

Honey may be a better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicines, a new study has found.

Researchers said honey was more effective in relieving the symptoms of cold and flu-like illnesses than the usual commercial remedies, and could provide a safer, cheaper and more readily available alternative to antibiotics.

They encouraged doctors to consider recommending it to patients in place of prescribing antibiotics, which can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance when overused.

The proven health benefits of honey

Honey has long been used as a home remedy for coughs, but its effectiveness in treating common illnesses has not been heavily researched. . .

Award winning Waiheke vineyard for sale offers vintage opportunities for investors:

The land and buildings sustaining an award-winning vineyard in one of Waiheke Island’s most commanding locations have been placed on the market for sale.

Peacock Sky, in the established rural residential area of Onetangi/Trig Hill, features a mature productive vineyard which was planted more than 20 years ago. Owners Connie Festa and Rob Meredith bought it in 2008, and have since developed the property and brand into a multi-award-winning vineyard.

Located at 152 Trig Hill Road in central Waiheke, on one of the island’s highest points, the site offers panoramic views – with available space mooted for development of a luxury residential retreat, destination restaurant or events facility. . . 


Rural round-up

17/06/2020

New contest celebrates agripreneurs – Richard Rennie:

GlobalHQ, publisher of Farmers Weekly and Dairy Farmer, is sponsoring B.linc Innovation’s inaugural awards celebrating innovation and technology in the primary sector.

The Celebrating Success Innovation Awards run by the Lincoln University’s Blinc Innovation centre have three sections.

They are for on-farm innovation, off-farm-consumer innovation and a creative innovation-future tech award for secondary school students.

Global HQ co-owner Dean Williamson said the primary sector has had to respond to covid-19 in numerous innovative and nimble ways to continue growing, harvesting and processing primary products. . . 

Te Puke’s golden promise: Harnessing the post-Covid potential of a furry little fruit – Josie Adams:

The Bay of Plenty is synonymous with kiwifruit. With a large contingent of new workers moving in this season from Covid-displaced industries, Josie Adams asked what life is like for those who’ve been there for years.

Under a very heavy tree in Tom French’s orchard waits a very heavy hedgehog. About a metre above the hog the tree has two branches grafted on; golden kiwifruit. This is one of only a few trees with fruit left; the rest have been picked, packed, and put in storage. This fruit is for the family, and for any roaming animal with enough patience. 

French has been in the kiwifruit business for 40 years, and hedging his bets on a 50/50 split between golden kiwifruit and traditional greens has helped him weather some of the industry’s storms.

First planted in the Bay of Plenty in the 1930s, by the 70s and 80s, kiwifruit – formerly known as Chinese gooseberries, and before that monkey peaches – were taking off. French estimates they were selling trays for up to $16. Then, there was a heart-stopping price drop: five competing export companies, combined with a slowdown in demand, meant those same trays were worth only $4. . . 

Fed Farmers boss welcomes environmentalists to Southland – Louisa Steyl:

Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young extended an olive branch to environmentalists by inviting them to see the improvements made to winter grazing conditions in the region.

Young invited Angus Robson, Geoff Reid and Matt Coffey to Southland at the weekend, on behalf of all farmers, after receiving an email from Robson raising concerns about practices on a particular farm.

The three visited the farm, along with two others, on Saturday, and Young said it proved to be a worthwhile day.

“It was quite a robust discussion,” Young said. . . 

Dairy just the job – Samantha Tennent:

A sharp rise in unemployment is on the horizon because of covid-19 but the dairy sector will offer some reprieve. 

DairyNZ is encouraging people to consider work on dairy farms in a new Go Dairy campaign that offers entry-level training to help the transition to farming.

While the Go Dairy career-changers campaign, supported by Federated Farmers, aims to create awareness of the job opportunities there is a big emphasis on ensuring new staff understand what is involved in farm life.

“We want a win-win situation for new dairy farming employees to be happy and fulfilled in their new lifestyle and jobs and for farm employers to have great talent working for them,” DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says. . . 

Bouncing forward :

The kids are back at school, we can once again spend time with small groups of friends and family, and takeaways can offer a night off cooking. Looking back, we dairy farmers were grateful to be essential workers during Covid-19 Levels 3 and 4, with kids able to roam around the farm and help us out!

With glorious Taranaki weather, and the mountain visible from the dining room window most days, our kids were very motivated to get their home learning tasks done by lunch so they could spend the afternoon outside. Riding their motorbikes around the farm improved their riding skills. Going for on-farm runs and bike rides or playing soccer and rugby on the front lawn kept them physically busy.

I took up running and joined the online fitness group ‘Strong Woman’. Now I take time most days to get in a run or a workout. I never felt I had time pre-Covid to focus on my fitness. . . 

Life attracts life’: the Irish farmers filling their fields with bees and butterflies – Ella McSweeney:

Michael Davoren shudders when he thinks of the 1990s. He’d been in charge of his 80-hectare farm in the Burren, Co Clare, since the 1970s, and the place was in his blood. The Davorens had worked these hills for 400 years.

But growing intensification fuelled by European subsidies meant that most farmers in this part of Ireland were having to decide between getting big or getting out. Hundreds were choosing the latter.

Davoren followed the advice to specialise and chase the beef markets. “The more animals I kept, the more money I got,” he says. “I put more cattle out, bought fertiliser, made silage. Slurry run-off was killing fish. But if I kept fewer animals I’d be penalised 10% of my subsidy.” . .

 


Rural round-up

10/06/2020

Why we need a national food strategy – Lindy Nelson:

Lindy Nelson says now is the time to come together to form a national food strategy and shape the future of New Zealand.

Belonging is a fundamental human need. When this need is not met, it is hard to feel a sense of purpose. Right now, farmers and food producers are starting to feel they belong again; they have a clear sense of purpose – to feed the nation and deliver economic stability.

The things that have threatened to divide urban and rural New Zealand – water, environment, reaching Carbon Zero – have faded for the time being as we have developed a more intimate awareness of our interdependence.

Food is vital for sustaining life. During the past few weeks, we have begun to realise just how much it shapes our sense of self, family and community and forms part of our cultural identity. . . 

Farmer picked for National in Wairarapa – Peter Burke:

The man who led the Fifty Shades of Green campaign is now going to be advocating for the one shade of blue – the National Party.

Mike Butterick, a Wairarapa sheep and beef farmer and Feds Meat and Fibre chair in the region, has been selected as the National candidate for the region. He beat off two other nominees including Mark Bridges, the brother of former leader Simon Bridges.

Butterick has been a vocal critic of plans to convert livestock farms to forestry and was one of the leaders of a protest at parliament on this subject last year. He replaces Alastair Scott who has held the seat since 2014 and is standing down at the election. . . 

High prices for gold kiwi fruit licenses :

The Kiwifruit industry is being given a huge vote of confidence, with stunning prices being paid for gold kiwifruit licences this year.

Each year Zespri releases new gold licences, and this year 700 hectares was up for grabs.

Successful bidders have been told the lowest price paid for a gold licence was $378,000 a hectare. That’s $100,000 more than last year’s lowest price. . .

From willows to whitebait :

Stu and Kim Muir take the long-term view of working their dairy farm in the Waikato River delta – the tangle of waterways, islands and wetlands close to the river mouth on the west coast.

“In the farming community, we usually think everything that’s done on the farm has an impact three months, six months, or a year ahead. We’re thinking six or seven generations ahead,” Stu says.

His family have been farming in New Zealand since the 1850s. His great-great grandparents bought  the present property in the 1890s; Stu and Kim’s children are the sixth generation to live and work on the land. . .

Wool plan delays frustrate sector – Annette Scott:

Frustration has set in as wool industry stakeholders await the release of a Government report they fear has lost momentum to pull the industry out of its doldrums.

In July 2018 the Wool Working Group (WWG) was tasked by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor with creating a sustainable and profitable wool industry action plan to revitalise the languishing sector.

Now wool industry stakeholders claim the work, due to be completed last September, is not happening fast enough. . .

New study: climate impact of grazing cattle over estimated – Dr David Whitehouse:

The climate impact of grass-fed cattle may have been exaggerated as scientists find emissions of a powerful greenhouse gas from certain types of pasture are lower than previously thought.

Researchers from Rothamsted Research found urine from animals reared on pasture where white clover grows – a plant commonly sown onto grazing land to reduce the need for additional nitrogen fertiliser – results in just over half the amount of nitrous oxide previously assumed by scientists to be released. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas some 265 times more harmful than CO2 and can account for 40% of beef supply chain emissions.

Co-author of the study, Dr Laura Cardenas said:

“Due to technical and logistical challenges, field experiments which measure losses of nitrous oxide from soils usually add livestock faeces and urine they have sourced from other farms or other parts of the farm, meaning that the emissions captured do not necessarily represent the true emissions generated by the animals consuming the pasture.”


Rural round-up

01/04/2020

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

29/03/2020

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

26/03/2020

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

22/03/2020

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. . . 


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