Rural round-up

29/10/2020

Dairy industry short hundreds of staff

The dairy industry says despite a big push to try and attract locals, it is still hundreds of staff short this season.

Dairy NZ chief executive Tim Mackle said there were about 800 vacancies farmers were still looking to fill. The busy calving period had been challenging and exhausting for those who were unable to plug gaps, he said.

Mackle said a government-backed GoDairy course launched in May to attract and upskill locals did help, but like many in the primary sector, it had not seen as much demand for work as was expected.

“GoDairy was designed during the first Covid-19 lockdown in April when unemployment was expected to reach upwards of nine percent, if not higher, by late 2020. . . 

Is food too cheap? What makes up the price of your fruit and vegetables – Dr Helen Darling:

Warnings of an acute shortage of workers to harvest food crops in New Zealand are growing. But the problem – and potential solution – are more complex than they may seem, and give rise to the question: ‘Is food too cheap?’ Food Truth’s Dr Helen Darling considers the issues.

Spring brings hope on the orchard; trees burst to life with blossom signalling a good crop, however, the usual horticultural fears of frost, rain and hail have been joined this year by a significant shortfall of orchard workers.

The situation is not new, but it is usually addressed by the influx of seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands. This year is different, of course, because closed borders mean fewer workers are now available. Commentators (and there have been many) claim orchard workers are paid too little, and Kiwis are too lazy to do the work. The reality, however, is that it is not that simple and it raises the rather interesting question of who is responsible for our end-to-end food system? . . 

Helping the meat industry nurture female talent – Sally Rae:

When Ashley Gray was studying communications in Auckland, she dreamed of working for a large, “glossy” public relations agency.

The last thing on the self-described city girl’s mind was a job in the meat industry and yet, fast forward a few years, and she wears multiple “hats” within the sector.

Among those roles is chairwoman of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women, a professional networking initiative founded in the United Kingdom by Laura Ryan in 2015.

The New Zealand meat sector and Meat Business Women recently signed an agreement aimed at boosting the number of women in the industry . . 

Growers employment expo in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay growers are facing their most challenging season, with about 10,000 workers needed between November and April for thinning, picking, packing and processing the region’s world renowned produce.

COVID-19 has severely impacted the availability of overseas workers so the industry is looking for local heroes to help.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says we feed the country and the world with our produce and the industry needs everyone’s help in these unprecedented times.

“More than 8,000 local people are permanently employed in Hawke’s Bay in and around the horticulture and viticulture sectors, from pack-houses to the port. However these jobs are at risk if the fruit is not picked. . . 

Woolhandler wins two major titles at Waimate – Yvonne O’Hara:

Amber Poihipi is passionate about the wool industry and wool handling.

That passion contributed to her success when she won both the New Zealand Spring Championship and South Island Circuit senior woolhandling finals at Waimate.

Based in Winton, Ms Poihipi has been working for Shear Tech Ltd owners Ray Te Whata and Matt Watson for about a year.

She has been in the industry full-time for 14 years, and has worked throughout New Zealand and also spent six years in Australia, as well as several months in the United States, grading wool in a mobile woolshed.

“It was very different working out there in a trailer, and we graded into short, long, strong and coloured wools and we didn’t skirt,” she said. . . 

The farmers trying to  save the world and how you can help :

Farmers are using innovative methods, on their farms and further afield, to reduce their environmental impact. Some are creating products you may not know about, others are using techniques and technology designed to slash their carbon footprint. Just how far has environmentally friendly farming come, and what questions should you be asking about how your food is produced?

Slashing food waste

Fruit farmer Charlie Fermor has two main environmental focuses: to reduce food waste and find the most environmentally-friendly packaging for his farm. And he’s found ways to do both.

“We’ve always tried to be as efficient as possible on the farm, and reducing waste is probably the biggest part of that.” . . 


Rural round-up

02/03/2020

Global study to benchmark farms – Annette Scott:

A global study of regenerative agriculture is under way to identify chances to extract more value from sheep and beef exports.

Beef + Lamb is doing the study to understand the similarities and difference of regenerative agriculture to NZ farming practices.

The study will look at the opportunities for farmers and include a global consumer perspective to understand what potential there is for red meat exports.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said with increasing interest in regenerative agriculture here and abroad, sheep and beef farmers want to lead in that space.  . . 

The wool industry is still facing challenges – Pam Tipa:

The wool industry continues to face challenges with depressed wool prices for a third year in a row, says Primary Wool Cooperative chair Janette Osborne. 

“Combined with increased shearing and associated costs this now means a net loss on wool for many farmers,” she says in the co-op’s annual report

“We are also seeing an overall gradual decline in total wool volumes with both lambs and ewes going to the works woolly and lower grade oddments including dags being used on farm for environmental work.” . . 

Meat Businesswomen to address World Meat Conference:

Global networking group, Meat Business Women are stepping onto the world stage as they accept an invitation to speak at the World Meat Congress (WMC) in Cancun, Mexico on June 12. 

Touted as the most influential and informative event on the global meat industry calendar, the WMC brings together approximately 1,000 international delegates to discuss issues and trends affecting meat and livestock organisation which are fundamental for sector outlook. 

Meat Business Women Chair, Laura Ryan says she’s delighted with the opportunity to speak directly about the group’s goals to an audience that can instigate change.  . . 

History has a habit of repeating itself – St John Craner:

NZ Ag yet again faces a number of fronts. Plant-based food, trade wars, geopolitical tensions, coronavirus, commodity cycles and climate. Yet we have options. We can diversify our markets.

China’s coronavirus is highlighting the need for us to ensure we’re not over-reliant on one market. Maybe China is the easy option? Either way they say: “when you choose easy life can be hard, when you choose hard life can be easy”.

There are many other countries in South East Asia (49 to be precise) who want our world-class produce like India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar. These countries’ economies are predicted to grow faster than China due to their own growing middle class who are earning higher incomes.  . . 

Farm societies have common issues – Ben Hancock:

This is the fifth and final in a series of articles written by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars. This week Beef + Lamb insight and strategy analyst Ben Hancock looks at the possibility of farmers generating energy while combating climate change and being easier on the environment.

Farming the world over, as much as the context, production and scale vary, shows, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

After nearly six months on the road of my Nuffield journey I was struck by the similarities across continents and farming systems. 

So many of the issues we face in New Zealand can be translated to our counterparts around the world.  . . 

Elderly UK farmers should be paid to retire, says Minister :

UK Environment Secretary, George Eustice has an unusual solution to improving the environment: paying farmers to retire.

Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union’s 2020 Conference this week, Eustice said that some veteran farmers are ‘standing in the way of change’, reports The Telegraph.

He said that paying veteran farmers a lump sum would enable them to ‘retire with dignity’. . .


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