Rural round-up

01/08/2021

Unlikely pair guiding Groundswell juggernaut – Sally Rae:

Two weeks ago, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell New Zealand’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what the rural sector says are unworkable government regulations. At the core of the group are two southern farmers, who talk to business and rural editor Sally Rae about why they won’t go away.

They’re an unlikely pair of protesters.

In fact, Laurie Paterson and Bryce McKenzie have never been involved in any sort of protest during their lengthy farming careers. Until now.

The co-founders of Groundswell NZ have ultimately been responsible for the biggest protests some towns have ever seen. . .

Photographer bridging the urban-rural divide– Matthew Scott:

After travelling the country in search of sustainable and environmentally-friendly farms, a photographer is bringing her work to Auckland to show what it means to be stewards of the land

Queen Street has been a bit of a Mecca for farmers lately.

This month’s Groundswell protest saw a troupe of tractors and utes trundle through the central city in protest of government regulations targeting the agriculture sector.

The rural-urban divide had never felt as palpable as when the fleet of farm equipment joined Auckland traffic on a Friday morning. . .

Words do matter – Barbara Kuriger:

If you know me, you know how fiercely proud I am of being a farmer.

As an MP and National’s spokesperson I move in rural communities constantly and this month, during Parliament’s recent three week recess I visited many more from Timaru to Te Hapua.

I doubt many New Zealanders would realise rural communities are this country’s second largest city with 700,000+ people.

And despite what people are reading or hearing in media throughout the country, they are innovators. . .

Growing for Gold – Japanese Budou grapes thrive in Hawke’s Bay – Country Life:

Budou table grapes can fetch up to $160 a bunch in Japan.

Third-generation grape grower Tetsuya Higuchi is growing the enormous, sweet, picture-perfect Japanese style grape in Hawke’s Bay.

Tetsuya sees huge potential in his region for expanding the production of his Japanese-style table grapes.

The picture-perfect bunches are highly valued as gifts in Japan and can fetch extraordinary prices – up to $160 dollars for a single top-grade bunch. . .

Opportunities in a changing world highlighted at Red Meat Sector conference:

Climate change is the biggest opportunity for New Zealand agriculture since refrigerated shipping. This was the scene-setting message from entrepreneur and farmer Geoff Ross, who was the opening speaker at the Red Meat Sector Conference in Rotorua last week.

The founder of 42 Below Vodka, Ross is also the owner of Lake Hawea Station, New Zealand’s first carbon certified farm.

“What if we looked at climate change as an opportunity, and the reason why we have such a unique opportunity in a world demanding low carbon foot and fibre is our extensive food systems.

“We have this massive advantage; we are way ahead of other countries.” . .

Local producers band together to launch Good Farmers brand:

A community of passionate New Zealand farmers, growers and artisan food producers have joined forces to launch an exciting new brand – Good Farmers New Zealand.

Put simply, Good Farmers is a community that stands for ‘Good Food, grown on Good Land, nurtured by Good Farmers.’

The collective, which currently includes eight food producers with more joining shortly, has two key goals: . .


Rural round-up

02/05/2021

Lack of skill costs contractors – Gerald Piddock:

Inexperienced Kiwi farm machinery operators are costing the industry stress, accidents and insurance claims, a new survey of Rural Contractor NZ (RCNZ) members has revealed.

While the industry will continue to train and recruit more New Zealand staff to meet demand, it was fortunate there had been no serious accidents this season, RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton said.

Many rural contractors were only barely able to meet farmer demand this season by working unacceptably long hours in machinery, as well as trying to supervise inexperienced staff.

“We appear to have been extremely lucky that there have not been any serious accidents, but health and safety cannot rely on luck,” Parton said. . . 

Why we should care more about wool – Nadia Lim:

 I find it intriguing that, in a world where we are so keen on being more environmentally friendly and sustainable, the industry for one of the most sustainable, durable and biodegradable materials is in dire straits, and at an all-time low.

I’m talking about wool. Strong wool – produced by the majority of New Zealand sheep breeds – can be used in clothing, carpets, curtains and insulation, not to mention furniture, bedding, weed mat, fertiliser and more. It has a higher micron count than merino wool, so it is thicker and stronger; merino is finer and softer, which is why it’s ideal for clothes worn close to the skin.

We run about 2000 Perendale ewes on our mixed cropping and sheep farm in Central Otago. We reduced the stock numbers significantly when we came here, to give the land a rest but also because there is so little demand for wool these days.

That’s the sad, and ironic, thing. There’s so little demand for wool that we literally have tonnes of it sitting in our shed in bales. It must be an education and awareness thing, because if everyone was actually serious about wanting to be more sustainable, do you think as many of us would be wearing (synthetic, petroleum-based) acrylic jumpers and polar fleece, or that we’d put synthetic insulation and carpets in our homes? . . 

Forage may unlock low gas options – Richard Rennie:

Leafy turnips and winter forage rape crops may yet provide a means for farmers to ensure their livestock emit less methane, without compromising productivity.

AgResearch forage scientist Arjan Jonker acknowledges finding lower methane-emitting feeds is one of agriculture’s “wicked problems”, but says the AgResearch team is well-advanced in understanding what feeds can produce less ruminant methane.

AgResearch forage scientists are working alongside their livestock research colleagues on potential pasture types that may play a key role in helping the sector lower its methane emissions.

With both crops comprising most of the sheep’s diet, the researchers have achieved methane emission reductions of 20-30%. . .

Geoff Ross on New Zealand’s first certified carbon positive farm :

If farmers want to increase profits they need to “look beyond the gate” at the big picture, Geoff Ross says.

Ross and his wife Justine run Lake Hawea Station, the first farm in New Zealand to have its carbon footprint certified.

The Rosses used certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, which found that the 6500-hectare station was actually carbon positive.

This was a “big deal” for Lake Hawea Station, and for its offshore customers, Ross told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

What lessons can we learn from European glyphosate review? – Mark Ross:

The prospect of a ban on glyphosate is placing enormous pressure on European farmers and Kiwis should be taking notice, Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says.

Glyphosate use in Europe has resulted in reassessments, reviews and bans in some countries, causing a backlash by farmers.

The controversial herbicide is touted by New Zealand Professor of Toxicology Ian Shaw as a victim of its own success.

It’s successful because it is the most widely used herbicide in the world, it is versatile, and its use can benefit the environment. . . 

 

Summerfruit industry looking forward to growing strong conference in Hawkes Bay:

Summerfruit NZ has just opened registration for the Growing strong – Success in a changing world conference. The industry event is being held at various venues in Hawke’s Bay, including the War Memorial Centre in Napier, where trade exhibits will be on display and speaker presentations will be made.

The Growing strong theme indicates an industry that has experienced tough times but has come through 2020-21 and is ready to reflect, build resilience and celebrate the end of a season like no other.

‘Unfortunately, last year’s conference had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,’ says Summerfruit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom. ‘Growers and other members of the summerfruit industry are really looking forward to meeting with friends and colleagues they may not have seen for well over a year. . . 


Rural round-up

30/04/2021

Yes, there will be a cull – it will be aimed at cutting group that launched the “dirty dairying” campaign down to size – Point of Order:

Players in the country’s biggest exporter earner, the dairy and meat industries, would have shown more than a passing interest in two statements from the Beehive yesterday.

Agriculture Minister announced the roll-out of extra monitoring and a range of practical support to help farmers achieve immediate improvements in intensive winter grazing practices.

Acting Conservation Minister Ayesha Verrall  released a report outlining recommendations to strengthen the governance and good management practices within NZ Fish & Game, the outfit charged with managing sport fishing and game bird hunting across NZ that persistently harries farmers on environmental issues. . . 

New Zealand’s first farm to have carbon footprint certified is carbon positive:

Lake Hawea Station has been named as the first farm in New Zealand to have a carbon footprint certified by leading environmental certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, proving that farming can be a pathway to healing the planet.

Lake Hawea Station is owned by Geoff and Justine Ross and is pursuing a farming strategy that is both beneficial to the planet and the bottom line. Geoff Ross says “the process with Toitū highlights that farming need not be a problem in climate change. Rather farming can be a solution”.

The certification process Toitū has undertaken on Lake Hawea Station is planned to be the first of many New Zealand farms as New Zealand moves to lower its overall carbon footprint and consumers world-wide demand carbon positive food and fibre.

Becky Lloyd, Toitū Envirocare Chief Executive says Toitū carbonzero farm certification is important as it demonstrates to farmers, their customers, and regulators that pastoral farms can be carbon neutral and at the same time be commercially viable. . .

New National health service should be fit for rural:

We are not averse to having a national health service, however, we are looking forward to seeing the detail says Rural Women New Zealand.

“The Minister of Health, Andrew Little in his announcement of sweeping changes to abolish District Health Boards to have one health entity, said that “the kind of treatment people get will no longer be determined by where they live” – we want to see that in practice,” says National President Gill Naylor.

“RWNZ expects to see a rural health and wellbeing strategy which is fully resourced and funded to ensure rural postcodes aren’t in the losing lottery.

“It is our expectation that the detail will also include a solid mechanism for including the voice of rural women, children, and communities in decision-making by the new national health service. . . 

New Zealand cheesemakers concerned by Eu’s move to monopolise halloumi cheese:

New moves by the European Commission to grant exclusive use of the term ‘halloumi’ to cheesemakers from Cyprus are raising concerns among the New Zealand cheesemaking community.

“Halloumi is a popular cheese for New Zealand consumers, with a thriving and innovative community of New Zealand cheesemakers delivering this delicious product to New Zealand tables” says Neil Willman, President of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association.

“We are concerned at Europe’s continuing campaign to restrict the use of common names in international cheesemaking, at the expense of producers outside of Europe.”

New Zealand’s cheesemaking community is concerned that the European Union is continuing to protect cheese terms that are generic and in common use around the world. . . 

400 delegates to meat in Taupō for national Rural Health Conference 2021 :

This week approximately 400 rural health professionals and administrators will come together at Wairakei Resort in Taupō for this year’s National Rural Health Conference.

This conference is the first ‘in person’ health professionals conference in 2021 and the biggest event for rural health professionals for close to two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Health Hon. Andrew Little will open Conference on Friday 30 April.

Among the many other excellent speakers to present over the two days are Associate Minister of Health Hon. Peeni Henare and Martin Hefford from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Transition Unit. . . 

Five Riverina artists launch Regenerative Visions exhibition at Fitzroy gallery  – Jodie O’Sullivan:

In many ways the work of a farmer and an artist are not so dissimilar, insists Courtney Young.

“You try to look at the landscape with fresh eyes and see beyond what you can actually see,” explained the emerging artist from Savernake.

“There are correlations with farming where you have to think outside the box and look for nuance in the world around you.”

Young is one of five women from the Riverina who have created a collection of paintings for an exhibition exploring the similarities between art and farming. . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/01/2021

Why we can’t plant our way out of climate change – Marc Daalder:

As New Zealand gears up to fight climate change, experts warn that we need to actually reduce emissions, not just plant trees to offset our greenhouse gases, Marc Daalder reports

This year is shaping up to be a major one for climate policy. Between the Climate Change Commission releasing its recommendations around our Paris target and emissions budgets and a major climate summit in Glasgow in November, 2021 is the year the New Zealand Government will finally lay out in detail its plans to fight climate change.

Ahead of February 1, when the Commission will release drafts of its advice for consultation, experts warn that we shouldn’t be taken in by the allure of trees as a silver bullet. It’s true that major reforestation will be crucial to slowing global warming (and has added biodiversity benefits as well), because all plants sequester carbon breathed in from the atmosphere. . . 

Daigou disaster – Elbow Deep:

It is surprising how quickly a company’s fortunes can change; the A2 Milk Company (A2MC) played a dangerous high-stakes game, relying heavily on an informal network of Chinese students and personal shoppers to distribute much of its product into China. It’s a game that has cost other companies dearly in the past.

Daigou, buying on behalf, is a network of Chinese nationals living in or visiting Australia who buy local products and ship them back home to groups of friends, customers cultivated via the social media app WeChat. It is not uncommon for Chinese tour groups to visit stores like the Chemist Warehouse and buy products in bulk, much to the ire of locals.

Such is the demand from China for Australian packaged products that in 2019 a Sydney store owner was found to have stockpiled 4,000 1kg tins of baby formula ready for export. . . .

Concerns over shearer ‘bidding wars’ – Gerald Piddock:

Reports of unofficial bidding wars among Australian farmers to secure shearers has a New Zealand shearing boss worried it could lure Kiwi shearers across the Tasman to chase the money, leaving the industry short-staffed.

The shortage of shearers in Australia due to covid-19 restrictions meant some farmers were paying shearers 20-50% premiums per sheep above the usual rate, the ABC reported.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford told ABC farmers were offering shearers A$4-$5/head to shear sheep. The minimum pay rate to shear a sheep in Australia is A$3.24.

Prior to the covid-19 border restrictions, these jobs would have been taken up by NZ shearers. . . 

Exchange rate a pain point for meat export – Neal Wallace:

A wildly fluctuating exchange rate is causing headaches for meat exporters. Silver Fern Farms (SFF) says between October and November the NZ-US exchange rate rose from $US0.65 to $US0.71, wiping $140 a head off beef and up to $11 off a lamb.

As of late this week the exchange rate was $US0.72.

In a Christmas update podcast, SFF’s supply chain manager Dan Boulton says in addition to exchange rate fluctuation, the other headwind facing exporters as they enter peak production, is the congested global supply chain.

This is causing issues with container availability, shipping schedules and port access. . . 

Tractor industry remains optimistic for 2021:

The tractor sales industry finished 2020 on a strong note with December sales up 18.4 % on 2019.

Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president Kyle Baxter says that while 2020 definitely posed challenges for the industry, the current mood of members is positive.

Overall tractor sales for 2020 were down 15.3% compared with 2019, with sales for the bigger machines (375+ HP) particularly affected with a drop of 25%. . . 

Dairy markets stable despite Covid challenges – Carlene Dowie:

Global dairy markets appear to be weathering the COVID-19 storm with prices stable despite pandemic-induced changes in demand in key markets.

The Australian Milk Value Portal’s latest Global Dairy Update says resilience in demand for dairy products is underpinning the market.

International analysts are also pointing to stability – with ANZ in New Zealand last week lifting its forecast farmgate price there by 7.5 per cent while the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s dairy price index jumped for the seventh month in a row in December.

The Milk Value Portal’s Nanna Moller said the market outlook was mostly bullish, despite differences in global markets, with slowing growth in milk supply in Europe and Oceania and sustained demand for consumer staples. . . 


Rural round-up

16/07/2019

Saving the planet one post at a time – Mark Daniel:

Working as a farmer and fencing contractor for 15 years made Jerome Wenzlick very familiar with fence posts — now he’s “saving the planet one post at a time”.

Over these 15 years, Wenzlick says he saw quality slipping, wastage rising because of breaking posts and at times post availability was a problem.

He had a ‘eureka moment’ during a fencing job next to an old rubbish dump where he had posts breaking on plastics hidden below the surface.

“Surely if plastics are this tough we should be making fence posts from them,” he mused. . . 

The nation’s least worst farmers – Luke Chivers:

Banks Peninsula farmer and self-confessed radical Roger Beattie is never short of new ideas for the primary sector. Luke Chivers visited him to hear about some of the maverick’s pet projects.

On the south side of Banks Peninsula, where the wind gives the tussocks a permanent bend and the next stop is Antarctica, Roger Beattie is mustering his next big plan.

The wild sheep breeder, blue pearl and kelp harvester and would-be weka farmer wants to explain how unique foods and fibres can be produced by combining the diversity of nature with Kiwi can-do ingenuity. . .

How to make $700 a day from trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Let us talk about planting trees.

It is, after all, the season for doing just that.

I’m not planting the big numbers I once did, mainly because I’ve filled in all the places where trees were a better option but partly because I’m slowing down.

I’ve planted something like 60,000 trees myself, which sounds reasonably impressive until I mention 30,000 were pine trees. . .

From the ground up – Maureen Howard:

We’ll need to feed extra billions by mid century while being kinder to the land and reducing planet-heating carbon emissions to zero. The challenge has prompted some to call for a great food transition.  Maureen Howard talks to a farmer playing his part.

“It’s like cottage cheese, but black,” says Peter Barrett of the soil that lies beneath Linnburn Station, his 9300ha beef and sheep station at Paerau in Central Otago.

Above ground, depending on the time of year, sheep may be spotted grazing beneath the gaze of yellow sunflowers, surrounded by a mix of up to 30 other plant species.

Not just a pretty postcard, Linnburn Station is home to 25,000 winter stock units. In fact, this is farming close the limits. Much of the terrain is exposed rocky high country and for the past two years, the already low mean annual rainfall has declined to just 170mm. Temperatures fluctuate from below zero to 40degC. . .

The record-setting $10,000 dog – Sally Rae:

This is the story of a dog called Jack.

Bear with, as it can get a little confusing given that Jack – sold for a record price of $10,000 at last week’s PGG Wrightson Ashburton dog sale at Mayfield – was bred by another Jack.

Lake Hawea Station farm manager Jack Mansfield (24) bred Jack the heading dog, giving him to his great-uncle, renowned triallist Peter Boys, when the pup was 2 months old.

Mr Boys owned Jack’s sire and it was “general rule of thumb” to give a pup in return.

Mr Boys, a retired farmer who lives in Timaru, named the pup Jack and trained him up. . .

Rural Safety and Health Alliance kicks off – Sharon O’Keeffe:

Sometimes you need to go back to square one when tackling something as important as farm safety, particularly when there hasn’t been a significant improvement in the statistics.

A new partnership of rural research and development corporations is investing in a fresh approach to improve primary production’s health and safety record centred on innovative research and extension.

The partnership, called the Rural Safety and Health Alliance will invest in practical extension solutions informed by industry input on work, health and safety risks. . . .

 


Rural round-up

10/07/2019

From vodka to high country – Sally Rae:

Geoff and Justine Ross are best known as entrepreneurs and founders of the hugely successful 42 Below vodka company. But they have traded city life for a rural adventure at Lake Hawea Station where they are using the skills gained in business to apply them to the rural sector. They speak to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae.

Geoff Ross was always going to be a farmer.

But the career path he took to farm ownership was not necessarily what he envisaged growing up on a deer and dairy farm in the North Island.

His wife Justine recalls how she wanted to marry a farmer; in fact, she thought she was marrying a farmer. It did not quite pan out like that. . .

Keeping the farm in the family – Luke Chivers:

Kairuru farmer Amanda Henderson says there’s a whole lot more to farming than picking a paddock and putting some animals in it. The fourth-generation sheep and beef farmer is dedicated to shifting the perception of New Zealand’s primary sector. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

When people think of agriculture, not all think of science, innovation and technology. 

But, thankfully, one South Islander is set on changing that.

“I believe education is critical in the agricultural sector,” 33-year-old Amanda Henderson says. . .

Farmers find perfect match in 100% grass-fed wagyu beef producer group – Sally Rae:

Southland farmers Mike and Kirsty Bodle are looking to create a point of difference – or X-factor – in their farming operation.

The couple moved south from the North Island 14 years ago and bought a drystock farm after deciding they liked the region.

After a few years, they bought a neighbouring property to convert to dairy but when the dairy market started experiencing volatility, they decided they needed to spread their risk to cover themselves during those times . .

Chewing out the vegetarian preachers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I was a vegan myself once.

It was in India 40 years ago in a small village where it seemed everyone was vegan, going by the menus in the cafes.

But it was only for one day.

The next village appeared to eat meat and nothing else. . .

Kiwi healthcare company HoneyLab on the cusp of going global – Esther Taunton:

A decade after it was set up, healthcare company HoneyLab is on the cusp of going global, co-founder Dr Shaun Holt says.

A clinical study recently proved the company’s flagship kānuka honey jell, Honevo, is as effective in treating cold sores as well-known pharmaceuticals.

It was the second big win for the product, which has also been proven effective in treating rosacea, and growing international interest is keeping Holt busy. . .

Comedian Te Radar brings the light touch to agricultural events – Gerard Hutching:

After two decades on TV screens, the stage and the comedy circuit, beloved entertainer Te Radar has become the go-to jester for the agricultural crowd, and with good reason.

The funnyman has serious cred in rural circles; he grew up on a dairy farm in north Waikato, on the isthmus bordered by the Waikato River that juts into Lake Waikare. His father was a top elected official in Federated Farmers.

No stranger to the milking shed, he helped on the family farm until he was 20. But dairying held no long term attraction. . .


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