Rural round-up

April 16, 2018

Farmers have lost faith in MPI – Annette Scott:

Farmers must not let dairy cattle be taken for slaughter till they are sure they will get compensation, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

He wants the Mycoplasma bovis decision-makers to front up as the second round of culling infected herds gets going.

All confidence in compensation promises had been lost, he said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries late last month said a further 22,300 cattle from all infected properties will be killed by the end of May. . . 

Science and technology at every farmers’ fingers tips – Pat Deavoll:

In the three and a half years I have spent as a farming reporter, nothing has struck me more than how hi-tech the industry has become.

Gone are the days when a farmer could step into his father’s shoes and expect to follow the same time-tested methods and be successful.

In this age of uber-production, every sector is based on an application of science, research and technology that is changing at a mind-boggling rate. And farmers are required to change with it. In fact, I read somewhere that by 2025 farmers will need a tertiary qualification to keep up. . .

Lactoferrin – a magic ingredient – Hugh Stringleman:

Lactoferrin became the flavour of the month when Fonterra’s giant New Zealand Milk Products division held an exhibition of its advanced ingredients on the day rival processor Synlait said it will double its production of the pricy protein.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding milk protein distinguished by its pink crystalline form, produced in small quantities and sold for high prices – perhaps $500/kg or more.

NZMP’s display said it takes 10,000 litres of milk and smart freeze-dry technology to make one kilogram of lactoferrin, which has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancement qualities. . .

Kiwi farmers’ validity at stake – Deborah Rhodes:

As we stare down the barrel of a global consumer revolution we need to be brave to tell them what they want: not what they demand, but what we are going to supply them.

The concept of appealing to every whim of the consumer has driven our farming mentality to that of the oil business: reap now and pay later. Now we are starting to pay as we scramble towards trying to prove in our dairy business that we are different from the rest, and we are — but for how long? . . .

Good – could have done better at Owl Farm – Mark Daniel:

It’s been a challenging season down on the banks of the Waikato River for St Peters School’s Owl Farm.
Tracking behind the previous season, the farm is hoping an extended lactation will help pull things back into line.

Visitors at a farm focus day in late March were told that overall production is down by about 5000kgMS (-3%) and still trending downward.

The farm has more cows (412) than last season (378) but performance per cow has been lower, as has the average yield of 363kgMS versus last year’s 370kgMS in the same period. . . .

As dairy crisis crushes farmers, Wisconsin’s rural identity in jeopardy – Rick Barrett:

Kyle Kurt fought to keep his emotions just below the surface as he talked about selling off his herd of Holstein dairy cows, which he’s milked twice a day, 365 days a year, through good times and bad.

Dairy farming has been Kurt’s livelihood, and his passion, since he graduated from Lodi High School 18 years ago. But come Monday, he’s having an auction to sell his cows, his milking equipment, his tractors and other farm machinery that he’s spent years acquiring.

It’s probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Kurt said, “but I have been told it’s going to be a big weight lifted off my back.”

Scores of Wisconsin farmers are in a similar predicament. And with them, a way of life that has defined much of the state for more than a century and a half is disintegrating. . .


Rural round-up

April 6, 2018

Vet companies importing illegal drugs likely source of Mycoplasma – Gerard Hutching:

Officials on the hunt for the source of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis have narrowed their search to two properties in the upper North Island and one in Southland, sources say.

Two sources with a close knowledge of the situation said the North Island raids carried out in late March by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials were related to veterinary businesses importing illegal drugs.

The Southland search involved a farm.

One of the sources said some veterinary pharmaceutical companies sold cheaper drugs not commonly used in New Zealand. . . 

Devastating disease has huge impact on those farmers affected – Joyce Wyllie:

 “It’s just a hill…get over it !” Golden Bay locals often repeat that slogan to visitors who find the long winding trip over the Takaka hill challenging and occasionally nausea inducing.

Getting over that hill has been more of a trial since cyclone Gita’s devastation and on-going closures during required major repairs. Much to relief of travellers, especially freight firms, the road crew are making great progress. We still have queues and convoys to make the trip but now one-lane flow is safe for all vehicles including truck and trailer units. Traffic controllers report 1000 to 1200 vehicles passing through daily which is a surprising number considering only 4000 of us live in Golden Bay.

Last week I left home before daybreak and already a stream of traffic was driving south through Takaka. Looking up from the bottom of the hill I could see dozens of headlights zig-zagging upwards through the blackness. It gives a sense of being on the move together and I wondered at the purpose of all these other travellers. Having to head over at restricted times does mean more organisation, earlier mornings and no chance to pop over and back for an appointment.

But any feelings of being hard done by hold ups and disgruntled about delays and disruptions to my routine and life were put in perspective when I listened to news on the radio. . . 

Woolhandler determined to succeed – Sally Rae:

Pagan Karauria believes it is mental training that has helped her perform so well on the competitive woolhandling circuit this season.

Karauria (29) won the open woolhandling title at the Royal Easter Show in Auckland at the weekend, beating world champion Joel Henare who helped mentor her to the win.

The Alexandra shearer reached more finals than ever before this season, bouncing back from the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a place in the New Zealand team for last year’s world championships in Invercargill.

Karauria was born into shearing royalty; her father Dion Morrell is a master shearer and world record-holder, while her mother Tina Rimene is a former world champion wool-handler.

She attributed her success this season to the mental training, mainly with her father and also some work she had done with Henare. . .

Husband and wife battle for top woolhandling honour – Doug Laing:

The opening day of the New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling championships in Te Kuiti tomorrow could see a unique piece of matrimonial property decided by a couple whose family exemplify the adage “the family that plays together stays together.”

Ricci and Angela Stevens, of Napier, are currently tied for first place in Shearing Sports New Zealand’s 2017-2018 Senior woolhandling rankings going into the last event, the New Zealand Senior Woolhandling Championship, the final of which will be held late tomorrow afternoon.

Only Dannevirke woolhandler Ash Boyce can deny them the season’s honour, and then only if he reaches the championships final, and they don’t. . . 

Statistics eye-opener during push to connect rural Tararua – Christine McKay:

With 1311km of rural Tararua mapped for Connect Tararua, the results have been a real eye-opener, district councillor Alison Franklin says.

“Of the rural area mapped, 75.5 per cent has no cellphone coverage and 6.1 per cent can access four bars of reception,” she said.

Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis said the statistics were incredibly powerful, even if some weren’t good to hear.

“Those statistics don’t include Tararua’s three biggest towns, but do include Norsewood.” . . 

Synlait to double lactoferrin capacity following new supply agreement:

Synlait Milk  has secured a multiyear lactoferrin supply agreement[1] that will underwrite an investment of approximately $18 million to double lactoferrin manufacturing capacity at Synlait Dunsandel.

“Lactoferrin is a high value, specialty ingredient used in a range of nutritional food products around the world. This agreement is a major step forward for our growing lactoferrin business and delivers to our strategic commitments,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein recognised for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. As a naturally occurring milk protein, it is commonly used in infant formula products throughout the world. . . 


Rural round-up

May 2, 2017

Young Kiwis needed to help shift NZ’s primary industry focus to environmentally friendly horticulture:

OECD warns New Zealand’s current economic growth model approaching environmental limits

More young Kiwis are needed to roll up their sleeves and help save New Zealand’s environment, particularly our waterways, by participating in careers that expand horticulture as the higher value land use activity of choice. This needs to be given considerable urgency following last month’s warning from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) that New Zealand’s economic growth model is approaching its environmental limits.

Chair of the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2017 Competition’, Elle Anderson, says she hopes that the OECD’s warning that New Zealand’s economic growth model was approaching its environmental limits will make more young people choose to make a difference with a career in horticulture . . . 

More can be done to protect New Zealand’s waterways:

Protecting New Zealand’s waterways are a priority and dairy is one of many sectors that needs to play a role.

The Ministry for the Environment’s Our fresh water 2017 report released today, Thursday 27 April, identified that more needs to be done to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen and E.coli entering the waterway, in both rural and urban settings.

New Zealand’s dairy farmers have been on this journey for many years now, and the improvements to the quality of their waterways are beginning to show. Over the past five years, dairy farmers have built 26,000 kms of fences to protect waterways on their farms. That’s the equivalent of a journey from downtown Auckland to the steps of the United Nations in New York – and almost all the way back again. . . 

‘Our fresh water 2017’ highlights the need for collective action:

The release of ‘Our fresh water 2017’ is a call to action for all New Zealanders, says IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis. The report measures fresh water quality, quantity and flows, biodiversity and cultural health.

“This report highlights the impact we all have on fresh water resources. I have no doubt it will provoke further finger-pointing at the rural sector, but the reality is, all human activities are placing pressure on our fresh water environments and we must all do our bit to limit and reverse those impacts. ‘Our fresh water 2017’ is a call to action for communities to work together to implement sustainable solutions.”

Mr Curtis said that whilst the report contained some good data on the impacts of certain activities in specific catchments, it was constrained by a lack of consistent data and knowledge gaps – particularly around irrigation. While the report shows 51% of the water allocated by councils is for irrigation, it was not able to determine how much of the allocated water was actually used because data quality and the completeness of records on actual takes is inconsistent. . . 

World Championships big earner for region:

The 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, held in Invercargill in February, was widely heralded as the best event in the competition’s 40-year history.

Now, independent analysis has backed that up, revealing a $6.78 million to $7.48 million economic impact to the Southland economy.

The economic impact report, commissioned by the event and undertaken by Venture Southland, has revealed that international visitors to New Zealand for the event stayed an average of 31.3 days in New Zealand, 14.5 of those in Southland. . . 

Lactoferrin receives GRAS Notice for use in Infant Formula:

Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) has been given the green light to export its lactoferrin to the United States for use in infant formula and toddler formula.

Synlait is the second company in the world to receive a GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) notice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use lactoferrin in these applications.

A GRAS notice is added to the FDA Register once a food ingredient is scientifically proven to be safe for its intended use. . . 

US food guru to speak at horticulture conference:

American food and agribusiness guru Roland Fumasi has today been announced as one of the keynote speakers for the Horticulture Conference 2017, on 14 July in Tauranga.

“Roland Fumasi is well-known worldwide for his work for Rabobank’s RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness group,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“He understands the consumer-led market that growers are providing for and the challenges around that, so his presentation will be of great interest at our conference and beyond. . . 

Dairy and lamb to China boost March exports:

Exports rose $446 million (11 percent) when compared with March 2016 to reach $4.6 billion in March 2017, Stats NZ said today.

Exports to China in the March 2017 month were valued at $1.1 billion, up $326 million (43 percent). Milk powder, butter and cheese (dairy), and lamb led the rise. Dairy rose $114 million and lamb rose $57 million.

“China continues to be our top destination for goods exports, and accounts for a quarter of the total dairy exports value,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “This March, exports to China exceeded $1 billion for the first March month since 2014.” . . 


Westland gets it right

August 20, 2013

If there’s a good time to find high levels of nitrate in  Westland Milk’s lactoferrin, a couple of weeks after the precautionary recall of products which used a shipment of Fonterra’s why protein concentrate isn’t it.

However, Prime Minister John Key said China is responding constructively to the issue.

. . . The Ministry for Primary Industries today announced it had revoked export certificates for four consignments of lactoferrin made by Westland Milk after unacceptable levels of nitrates were found in two batches. The nitrates, reportedly from detergent products not properly flushed away in a plant in Hokitika, were missed in New Zealand testing, only to be picked up by a Chinese customer.

“The Chinese authorities were working very constructively with us over the weekend,” Key said at his post-cabinet media conference. The nitrate find is regarded as a “technical breach” rather than a food safety issue, he said. . .

The way Westland is handling the issue should help.

It’s media release explained clearly and fully what had happened and what the company is doing about it:

Hokitika based dairy company Westland Milk Products announced today that a small amount of lactoferrin powder with elevated nitrate levels has been exported to China. The product has been traced and quarantined. Further, the nitrate levels did not comprise a food safety risk.

Chief Executive Rod Quin said Westland had reported to the Ministry of Primary Industries that two batches of lactoferrin (totalling 390kg) showed nitrate levels of 610 and 2198 parts per million respectively. The New Zealand maximum limit for nitrates is 150 parts per million. The product was initially not identified as non-compliant during Westland’s routine testing regime prior to export. All of the 390kg of non-complying lactoferrin was sent to China.

“We immediately initiated a process to find and quarantine all of the product and it has been put on hold,” Quin said.

Quin says nitrates are a naturally occurring substance found in such foods as leafy green vegetables. The issue is not the fact that it was present in the lactoferrin powder, but that the 390kg was over allowable levels.

“Food safety is not the issue in this instance because lactoferrin is used as a very minor ingredient in food products. This means that, even if the lactoferrin with elevated nitrates had been added to food, the retail products would still have nitrate levels significantly below allowed limits.”

Westland also put a hold on all of its lactoferrin in its own warehouse and commenced re-testing all individual batches. All other lactoferrin product tested to date has returned results well below the New Zealand nitrates limit. No other Westland products were affected.

“Based on these results and our investigations to date,” Mr Quin said, “Westland is of the view it is an isolated incident in the lactoferrin plant only, where traces of cleaning products (which contains nitrates) were not adequately flushed from the plant prior to a new run of product.

“Our investigation is underway to establish the root cause and we have implemented corrective actions,” Quin said, “so we can ensure this does not happen again.”

Had Fonterra responded this way the furore over the precautionary recall of some products would have been avoided.


MPI revokes export certificates for 4 Westland dairy consignments

August 19, 2013

The Ministry of Primary Industries has revoked export certificates for four consignments of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland Milk Products following the detection of levels of nitrate that exceed the New Zealand standard.

 Lactoferrin is a naturally occurring protein found in milk. The consignments were derived from two affected batches of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland at its Hokitika factory. One batch was exported directly to China as an ingredient for other dairy products by Westland, and the second batch was supplied to Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company, and also exported to China.

MPI has been advised by Westland, Tatua and their customers, that a small proportion of the lactoferrin was used in consumer products. Almost all of these products are now confirmed as detained in the supply chain. There was no affected lactoferrin used in products in New Zealand.

“MPI’s technical experts have looked closely at this issue and believe any food safety risk to Chinese consumers is negligible because the quantities of lactoferrin used in consumer products was very small, meaning the nitrate levels in those products would easily be within acceptable levels”, MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher said.

“MPI, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the companies concerned are working closely with the Chinese authorities on this issue,” MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher said.

“MPI has sent a team to the Hokitika factory to confirm how this problem arose, and verify the problem is limited to just the two batches identified. It appears to be so, at this time.”

“The consignments exported to China were accompanied by official export certificates stating that the product complies with New Zealand and China’s regulatory requirements.  This was based on testing of composited batches undertaken at the time of manufacturing, which showed no issue. We now know that is not the case and certification has been withdrawn,” Mr Gallacher said.

This isn’t good timing, coming so soon after the precautionary recall of some products which used Fonterra’s  whey protein concentrate.

But it’s important to keep it in perspective.

The affected product has been identified, almost all of it has been contained and there is no food safety issue.

But it will add to perceptions that our quality standards aren’t as high as we boast and put another dent in our reputation for food safety.


Rural round-up

July 23, 2013

Synlait Milk jumps 19% in NZX debut after raising $75m:

Business Desk – Synlait Milk jumped 19 percent in its NZX debut after raising $75 million in an initial public offering that was restricted to clients of brokers and institutional investors.

The shares first traded at $2.62 compared with the IPO price of $2.20. They were last at $2.75, valuing the company at $402 million.

Synlait Milk will use the $75 million raised to repay debt and help fund construction of a new lactoferrin extraction and purification facility, an on-site blending and consumer packaging plant, a new dry store, a quality testing laboratory, a butter plant, and a new spray dryer, according to the prospectus. Existing shareholders took advantage of the sale to sell down their own holdings, raising $38.7 million. . .

Strong Chinese Interest in Westland’s New Infant Range:

Westland Milk Products’ launch of its new Westpro NutritionTM range in China on Thursday last week (19 July) was well received with strong interest from customers and Chinese media.

The official launch of Westland’s range of infant nutrition base powders was part of a week-long visit to Shanghai by the company to demonstrate Westland’s commitment to the China market, raise awareness of the Westland Milk Products brand and to promote Westpro Nutrition. . .

International student exchanges opportunity of a lifetime – Pasture to Profit:

International Agricultural Student Exchanges offer an opportunity of a life time experience, few will ever forget. Exchange to another country, another University with a mix of exchangees from many different nations provides endless excitement, friendships & cultural appreciation at an age when you can “suck it all in” big time. I’d like to encourage many more agricultural students to apply for exchanges.

Potential employers look very favourably on any graduate who has taken these opportunities & made the most of them. . .

Entries Open for Next Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Entries for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on August 1, 2013, and organisers are again expecting strong interest in the popular competition.

Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE), the awards promote sustainable land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a way that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Held in nine regions, the awards are open to all farming and horticultural types. . .

Chair appointed to racing board:

Racing Minister Nathan Guy today announced the appointment of Glenda Hughes as Independent Chairperson of the New Zealand Racing Board’s (NZRB’s) governing body.

Ms Hughes was appointed as Independent Chairperson following consultation with the racing industry.

The racing industry makes an important contribution to the New Zealand economy, generating around $1.6 billion annually and around 17000 jobs. . .

Rotorua to host Maori Forestry Forum:

Registrations are now open for ‘Mai i te ngahere oranga – Māori Forestry Forum’ to be held at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua on Friday 16 August.

With $2 billion in forestry assets that include land, trees and energy options, Māori are set to become key stakeholders in the future of forestry.

This inaugural Māori Forestry Forum will provide a platform for Māori land and forest owners to discuss their experiences, issues and aspirations for Māori forestry in Aotearoa. . .


Rural round-up

May 8, 2013

Reserve Bank watching farming sector after drought adds more stress –  Paul McBeth:

The Reserve Bank is “carefully monitoring” an already highly indebted agriculture sector after the recent drought in the North Island is likely to more strain on already stretched balance sheets.

The central bank has previously flagged concerns about the high level of indebtedness among farmers and its dairy concentration, and warns the recent drought could “expose financial vulnerabilities” across the sector, according to its six-monthly financial stability report.

“Parts of the agriculture sector in particular remain quite leveraged, and progress in reducing debt loads in recent years has been fairly limited,” the bank said. “For these reasons, the Reserve Bank will be carefully monitoring developments in these markets for signs that systemic risks are increasing.” . . .

$15 Million Investment In Lactoferrin Production For Infant Formula:

Synlait Milk is investing $15 million to upgrade its Special Milks Drier at Dunsandel as it looks to further tap into the $15 billion a year demand for infant formula in China.

The investment will enable Synlait Milk to become one of only two manufacturers in the world to produce lactoferrin as a spray dried powder, and will also allow the Company to manufacture dairy ingredients to a pharmaceutical standard.

Lactoferrin is a bioactive protein extracted from milk that provides significant antibacterial protection and other health benefits for people of all ages. It is in demand globally for health foods including infant formula and adult nutritional powders. With the new capability, Synlait Milk expects production to reach 18 metric tonnes within four years of commissioning in late 2013 to early 2014. . .

Benje Patterson finds that pasture-raised Kiwi cows are highly productive specimens living in a sweet spot:

When we talk about the dairy industry in New Zealand, we tend to focus on how farmers are going, however, we rarely stop to think about the plight of the cows they milk.

Over the past decade, these dairy cows have become increasingly indebted and the number of other cows they are forced to share paddocks with has also increased.

This article examines how dairy cows have responded to these conditions, and if their underlying financial positions compensate them for all of their hard work. . .

Telford open day:

About 70 southern dairy farmers will hear the first year results of an industry research project at the Telford Farm Training Institute open day on Wednesday.

Dairy NZ senior scientist Dr Dawn Dalley said three different approaches to farming cows over winter are being trialled to help farmers maximise their performance and minimise their environmental impacts.

She said one approach uses a largely traditional method while the second introduces several innovative measures, including calving the herd two weeks later so the cows return to more pasture cover, reducing the need for supplementary feed. . .

Meat Industry Excellence Gisborne & Te Kuiti meetings:

Following the enormous success of its Feilding meeting, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) is holding additional meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne next week.

“As both Gisborne and Te Kuiti are major sheep producing areas, it is important that they be given the opportunity to be part of the meat industry’s change process,” says John McCarthy, MIE Executive Member.

“The MIE initiative is based around the premise that the industry model is broken.

“The ‘Boom and Bust’ model is not serving any of its participants well and needs serious attention if sheep and sheep farmers are to have a future. . .

Meat farm environmental impact steady – research:

New research suggests the environmental impact of sheep and beef farming in New Zealand has remained steady over the past 20 years despite a big increase in productivity.

AgResearch scientist Dr Alec MacKay has compared sheep and beef farm inputs – livestock and fertiliser – with the outputs of meat, greenhouse gases and nutrients.

Dr MacKay said he found huge eco-efficiency gains. . .

Vintage 2013 Keeps Marlborough Winemakers on Toes:

• Cooler Nights Ensure Aromatic Expression
• Pinot Noir Described as “Sensational”

Marlborough winemakers were kept on their toes, during what has been described as one of the most “intense” vintages ever experienced in the region. However no one is complaining about the quality of the fruit harvested in 2013.

After last year’s lower than average yields, Marlborough benefited from more ideal flowering conditions in December. While there has been some variability throughout the region, crop levels are described as being nearer to average this year – which will help to overcome the shortage of wine experienced in 2012.

The drought that impacted on most of the country, did not affect Marlborough. Instead timely rain events allowed the vines to stay healthy, without the fruit suffering disease pressure. . .


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