Rural round-up

20/07/2022

Former Ministers critical of PM’s comments – Nigel Stirling:

More voices have joined the chorus of condemnation aimed at the Prime Minister for comments they feel hurt New Zealand’s chances of getting a meaningful deal with the European Union.

Two former trade ministers have joined the dairy industry in condemning comments made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a critical point in trade talks with the European Union.

The Dairy Companies Association believes Ardern scuppered the industry’s last chance of a commercially meaningful outcome from the talks by revealing a weakening in New Zealand’s negotiating position.

Before flying to Brussels for the final few days of the talks last month Ardern told media that NZ was ready to accept an improvement on the “status quo” market access NZ exporters already had in the EU. . .

NZ’s European Union free trade agreement – was a better deal left on the table? – Jane Clifton:

Our recently signed free-trade deal with the European Union has upset the dairy and beef sectors. Was a better deal left on the table?

As a country, we’ve just flunked that test psychologists set for small children, offering them one marshmallow now, or two if they wait five minutes.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided delayed gratification wasn’t the right strategy for the much-anticipated European Union free-trade agreement (FTA) and returned from her travels with just the one marshmallow.

After a couple of days’ hearty talk about how marvellous the deal was, Trade Minister Damien O’Connor conceded, “It’s probably fair to say that no one likes it, so we probably have it about right.” . . .

Farmers farm because it’s a way of life, they’re not asking for sympathy – Kerre Woodham:

I wanted to have a look at our farming sector this morning, because I think the grumpiness from a number of farmers over a Country Calendar show featuring Lake Hawea station probably gave us a heads up on where farmers’ confidence is at.

And it’s low, very, very low. According to a Rabobank quarterly rural confidence survey, it’s the lowest since the pandemic began. Back in March, farmers’ confidence was the lowest it had been since Federated Farmers began a twice a year survey in 2009. 

When you think about the reality of farming for most Kiwis, I guess you can understand and empathise with their frustration. It’s a cold, wet, miserable job in winter and a hot, dry dusty one in summer. Most farmers can’t delegate their farm chores, no matter if they’ve got the flu or if they’re feeling under the weather with a head cold, or if they’ve got Covid, they have to drag themselves up or call in favours from neighbours, which they will then repay. . . 

Council candidates deserve searching questions Feds says :

With sweeping changes facing local government, and the very existence of some councils under threat, Federated Farmers is urging rural New Zealanders to step up their interest in the election campaign this year.

“The Three Waters juggernaut is gathering steam despite a great deal of opposition,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard said. “Unchanged, it will put control of critical infrastructure in the hands of unelected and hard to hold to account entities, likely headquartered far away from rural New Zealand.”

This, plus moves for district planning functions to be regionalised, will leave some provincial councils with little left to do, “and thus ripe for forced amalgamations, given the review of the future of local government doesn’t wind up until next year,” Andrew said.

Local body elections happen again in September/October and Federated Farmers has just released its 2022 Local Elections Platform. It’s on the Federated Farmers’ website and sets out the federation’s position on the major issues swirling around local government, with questions and advice for voters and candidates. . . 

Food charity run by farmers says demand increasing nationwide

A food charity set up during the first wave of Covid-19 says two years on demand is outstripping what they can supply.

The Meat the Need charity takes donated livestock from farmers and processes it into premium mince, which is then donated to food banks nationwide.

Since it was founded in early 2020, the charity said it had supplied meat for more than 760,000 meals across the country.

Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford co-founded Meat the Need with Motueka Valley-based sharemilker Siobhan O’Malley. . .

Chance, choice and the avocado: the strange evolutionary and creative history of earth’s most nutritious fruit – Maria Popova:

In the last week of April in 1685, in the middle of a raging naval war, the English explorer and naturalist William Dampier arrived on a small island in the Bay of Panama carpeted with claylike yellow soil. Dampier — the first person to circumnavigate the globe thrice, inspiring others as different as Cook and Darwin — made careful note of local tree species everywhere he traveled, but none fascinated him more than what he encountered for the first time on this tiny island.

Dampier described the black bark and smooth oval leaves of the tall “Avogato Pear-tree,” then paused at its unusual fruit — “as big as a large Lemon,” green until ripe and then “a little yellowish,” with green flesh “as soft as Butter” and no distinct flavor of its own, enveloping “a stone as big as a Horse-Plumb.” He described how the fruit are eaten — two or three days after picking, with the rind peeled — and their most common local preparation: with a pinch of salt and a roasted plantain, so that “a Man that’s hungry, may make a good meal of it”; there was also uncommonly delectable sweet variation: “mixt with Sugar and Lime-juice, and beaten together in a Plate.” And then he added:

It is reported that this Fruit provokes to Lust, and therefore is said to be much esteemed by the Spaniards. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

05/07/2022

Feds slam miserly EU meat and dairy quotas :

The trade deal with the EU is a slap in the face for New Zealand farmers, Federated Farmers says.

“That the Europeans’ protectionist mindset on livestock products remains entrenched is sadly not a surprise but the very small quotas agreed are considerably worse than we expected,” Feds President and trade spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently stated that she will come home from the EU without a deal if there isn’t a good one on the table. This is what she should have done.

The beef quota for New Zealand is 10,000 tonnes, just 0.1% of the 6.5m tonnes of beef Europeans consume each year. The EU has a cheese market of 9.5 million tonnes. After seven years New Zealand exporters will have access to just 0.14% of this market. . . 

Lake Hawea farmer hits back at critics :

A Lake Hawea farmer has hit back at critics accusing his practices of being woke nonsense at Australasia’s first certified carbon zero farm, saying no sector advances “without the trial of new and ideally better ways”.

Last Sunday’s episode of Hyundai Country Calendar profiled Lake Hawea Station, near Wanaka, and owners Kiwi entrepreneurs and 42 Below vodka company founders Geoff and Justine Ross.

It quickly attracted an intense online backlash from those purporting to be from parts of the farming sector, leading to the TVNZ show replying to the criticism on its Facebook page.

With the goal of becoming 10 times climate positive, the couple also introduced alternative techniques to the woolshed to improve animal welfare, including switching music from AC/DC’s Thunderstruck to Vivaldi. . .

Waikato creating a buzz on international stage as Raglan couple win silver at London honey awards – Danielle Zollickhofer:

Raglan honey business Hunt and Gather Bee Co is creating an international buzz as its Kānuka honey won a silver medal at the London International Honey Awards.

Together with Te Aroha-based company Ora Foods whose Raw Manuka Honey (UMF 25+) won gold, Hunt and Gather Bee Co is the only Waikato brand that was recognised in the awards out of 17 New Zealand winners.

Hunt and Gather Bee Co’s honey has already won some national awards, including the Outstanding Food Producer Awards, but getting international recognition was unexpected for founders Hannah and Rory O’Brien. . . .

Relief as just one cheese has to be renamed in EU trade deal – Rebecca Ryan:

When you say cheese your feta had better be Greek.

As part of the free-trade agreement signed between New Zealand and the European Union yesterday, new geographic indications that protect the names of products that originate from specific areas will be introduced, preventing cheeses produced in New Zealand from being branded as “feta”, beloved to Greece, in nine years’ time.

However, the industry has not been as fettered by the deal as had been initially feared.

Whitestone Cheese managing director Simon Berry said it was a relief that only feta would need to be rebranded for now. . .

Plant-based testosterone in pine pollen offers high value opportunity :

Pine pollen containing a rare natural source of plant-based testosterone could prove a goldmine for New Zealand’s forestry sector.

Pine Pollen New Zealand Limited, trading under the name Bio Gold, has received $288,500 in Government funding through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to lay the foundations for a pine pollen industry in New Zealand.

“Pine pollen has been consumed for health and wellbeing in China, South Korea and Japan for more than 3000 years,” says Bio Gold founder Carl Meyer.

“It’s been found to contain a naturally occurring testosterone, and lately there’s been a new wave of interest from the natural health industry in the United States and Canada.” . .

 

Fonterra, NZX and EEX confirm GDT strategic partnership:

Fonterra today confirms the finalisation of the strategic partnership with New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX) and the European Energy Exchange (EEX) to each take ownership stakes in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) alongside the Co-op.

As announced in February 2022, the partnership was subject to the approval of Boards, clearance from relevant competition law authorities, and finalisation of transaction documentation. With those approvals now received, Fonterra, NZX and EEX each hold an equal one-third (33.33%) shareholding in the global dairy auction platform GDT as of 30 June 2022.

CFO Marc Rivers says the confirmation of the strategic partnership is an important milestone for Fonterra and global dairy participants.

“The move to a broader ownership structure marks the next step in the evolution of GDT – giving it a presence in prominent international dairy producing regions, with greater participation expected at GDT events. . .


Rural round-up

04/07/2022

Dairy welfare code needs work – Gerald Piddock :

Farmer organisations have called the proposed changes to the code of welfare for dairy cattle as big, complex and overly prescriptive.

The scale of change outlined by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and presented to farmers last month is overwhelming, DairyNZ’s general manager for sustainable dairy David Burger says.

It was hard for farmers to assess the impact on their farm given the volume of change and the complexity of the document and the language used in it.

“Farmers are very concerned with it.” . . 

   AWDT chair steps down :

Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) chair Linda Cooper has stepped down after three years serving the charitable trust.

As part of its succession planning and maturing governance model, trustees Murray Donald and Keri Johnston have been appointed as co-chairs and took up their roles on 1 June.

Cooper has served the trust since mid-2019, leading it through further growth and extension of its impact across the primary sector, from farms to boardrooms.

“We’ve come through some challenging times with the pandemic over the past couple of years as we committed to investing in our programmes, and our women and men to help meet the future needs of the primary sector,” she says. . . 

Country Calendar uproar: Lake Hawea Station criticism is ‘raging tall poppy syndrome’ – Julia Jones:

This year hasn’t been short on emotion, debate and outrage, but the most surprising uproar for me has come from the Country Calendar episode on Lake Hawea Station.

I hadn’t seen the episode but started to see unhappy murmurs on Twitter on Sunday evening, then who could miss the onslaught that followed on Facebook. I was intrigued, wow, what terrible things had been said? How insanely outrageous was this episode? What epic conspiracies are being brewed up there in Hawea Station? I immediately checked out the episode.

After watching my first thought was, is that it? I wasn’t disappointed with the episode but couldn’t calibrate the incredibly negative comments with what I had just watched. So, I watched it again and took notes, I observed the language, the tone of conversation, noted the references to their own beliefs and listened hard to their philosophy. I don’t know Geoff and Justine Ross but after watching this I have a great deal of respect for them.

When did great business capability, strong values and following your belief system become offensive? . . 

Hawke’s Bay company now the world’s biggest scourer – Doug Laing:

The Hawke’s Bay-based company that is now the world’s biggest scourer of wool has committed $2.4 million aimed at helping New Zealand lead the way in the global wool market.

The investment comes in the form a contribution by WoolWorks, the sole-surviving scourer from 28 that once clogged the industry throughout the country and formed around what was best known as Hawke’s Bay Woolscourers.

The world’s biggest scourer by volume, it operates scours at Awatoto and Clive, and in the South Island at Washdyke. The contribution supports new industry-good organisation Wool Impact Ltd, which will work with brands and companies to get strong-wool products onto markets quickly and ultimately lift returns to farmers.

It comes as the sheep and wool industry starts bouncing back from declines which have seen the sheep population nationwide drop from its peak of 70 million in 1982 to 26 million last year – about two-thirds. . .

Predator Free 2050 on track to reach target says incoming boss :

The new boss of Predator Free 2050 says New Zealand is on track to reach the target and he is excited to be involved in the effort.

Rob Furlong, who has held leadership roles at The Whangārei District Council and Environmental Protection Authority, will take over the job as chief executive from Brett Butland on 11 July.

The government-owned charitable company was set up in 2016 to make a significant contribution to the government’s goal of removing possums, stoats and rats from Aotearoa.

Furlong said he always had a strong interest in the environment. . .        

 

The many uses of CRISPR: scientists tell all – Oliver Whang:

Smartphones, superglue, electric cars, video chat. When does the wonder of a new technology wear off? When you get so used to its presence that you don’t think of it anymore? When something newer and better comes along? When you forget how things were before?

Whatever the answer, the gene-editing technology CRISPR has not reached that point yet. Ten years after Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier first introduced their discovery of CRISPR, it has remained at the center of ambitious scientific projects and complicated ethical discussions. It continues to create new avenues for exploration and reinvigorate old studies. Biochemists use it, and so do other scientists: entomologists, cardiologists, oncologists, zoologists, botanists.

For these researchers, some of the wonder is still there. But the excitement of total novelty has been replaced by open possibilities and ongoing projects. Here are a few of them.

Cathie Martin, a botanist at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, and Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men superhero team: They both love mutants. . .

Taranaki medicinal cannabis company secures lucrative export deal :

Medicinal cannabis company Greenfern Industries has secured a lucrative export deal that could be worth more than $1.6m.

The initial two-year agreement is an offtake order for the purchase of Greenfern’s Taranaki-grown medicinal cannabis.

An offtake agreement is a binding contract that formalises the buyer’s intention to purchase a certain amount of the producer’s future output.

Managing director Dan Casey said the cannabis will be for use in an overseas medicinal market and, depending on which chemotypes are supplied, could be worth in excess of NZD1.6 million over the contract’s duration. . . 


Rural round-up

02/11/2021

Farmers want clarity over vaccine mandates – Gerhard Uys:

Farmers and farm advocacy groups say they are not receiving clear guidelines from the Government on how to navigate vaccine mandates and subsequent staff management for farm businesses.

Chris Lewis, national board member and Covid-19 spokesman for Federated Farmers, said Covid guidelines seemed to be a moving target.

“We have had no indication from [Government] what exact guidelines farm employers should follow. Farm businesses are no different to other businesses operating during uncertain times and need clarity. Are we allowed to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, what is safe and not safe, we don’t know,” Lewis said.

Lewis believed that businesses would begin to take the lead in determining requirements, with the Government playing catch up. Corporations like Fonterra have already begun setting some guidelines for milk suppliers to follow. . .

Farmer protest group keen to meet Jacinda Ardern for answers on new rules –  Rachael Kelly:

The leaders behind one of the biggest farmer protest group in New Zealand are seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and say they are sick of being ignored.

Groundswell NZ galvanised thousands of farmers in July and protests were held in 50 towns nationwide, but since then the Prime Minister has never directly responded to their concerns about some Government freshwater rules not being practical to implement.

Groundswell NZ founder Bryce McKenzie will be in Wellington next week, and it’ll be the second time the group has tried to get a meeting with Ardern.

“We’re hoping she’ll meet with us this time, because the people of New Zealand that turned out for our last protest have essentially been ignored,’’ McKenzie said. . .

 

A rule of thirds – Neal Wallace:

It was not their original intent, but Central Otago’s Lake Hawea Station is at the sharp end of what some termed contentious innovation. Neal Wallace meets manager David O’Sullivan.

DAVID O’Sullivan admits he needed an open mind as he oversaw the transformation of the Otago high country fine wool property, Lake Hawea Station.

The station manager says a combination of the skills of the staff, input from consultants and the branding and business backgrounds of owners Geoff and Justine Ross, founders of vodka company 42 Below, created a powerful team that is not wedded to a particular farming system.

That diverse thinking reflects the station’s shift to regenerative farming but also a different approach to managing carbon emissions and sequestration.. . 

Sustainability sells: strong wools’ half billion dollar export opportunity:

New Zealand’s strong wool sector is sitting on at least a half a billion dollar opportunity thanks to a wave of eco-consumerism, coupled with innovative Kiwi businesses pushing the limits of wool.

Since the 1980s the export price of strong wool has tanked from a high of around $10 a kilogram, to now just over two dollars. But as eco-consumerism rises and plastic products lose their popularity, a group of New Zealand businesses are ready to drive strong wool’s resurgence.

Strong Wool Action Group executive officer Andy Caughey says for the first time in forty years the market conditions are optimistic for strong wool, a courser fibre than the likes of fine merino, which is exceptionally resilient and versatile in its use for homewares. . .

Ravensdown renews sponsorship of NZDIA :

Entries to the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continue to be accepted online until December 1st as national sponsors continue to commit to the programme.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to confirm that Ravensdown have renewed their sponsorship for the next two years.

“Ravensdown bring a particular style to their sponsorship. They care deeply about farmers and this is obvious through the Relief Milking Fund and that they want to be involved with education and development of farmers’ businesses and careers,” says Robin. . .

DJAARA’s new land acquisition protects country and culture – Annabelle Cleeland:

Culturally significant Buckrabanyule, in North Central Victoria, has been purchased by Traditional Owners and conservationists, in a bid to be protected from further land degradation and development.

Located between Boort and Wedderburn, the land covers 452 hectares, and was recently purchased by conservation group, Bush Heritage, to be jointly managed with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA).

The land is infested with the invasive wheel cactus, a thorny pest plant that classified as a weed of national significance. Djarrak rangers have spent recent months working at the site to control the weed, using mechanical chemical and bio-control methods. . . 

 


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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