Rural round-up

May 11, 2016

Dairy cattle number falls for first time since 2005:

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand fell to 6.5 million in 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the first decline after nine years of consecutive increases.

”The dairy cattle number is now similar to the level back in 2013,” business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said. “This reduction was caused by an increase in the number of cows slaughtered and was against a backdrop of declining milk solid payouts.”

The 2015 Agricultural Production Survey final result shows that, for the year ending June 2015, there were 213,000 fewer dairy cattle. This follows a record high of 6.7 million dairy cattle in 2014. In the Waikato region, a traditional dairy farming area, there were 153,000 fewer dairy cattle than in 2014. . . 

Australian dairy farmers call for independent govt review after Fonterra slashed farmgate prices – Fiona Rotherham:

A group of Australian dairy farmers is planning a rally this week and more to follow in a push for the federal government to urgently establish an independent review of the country’s dairy industry after farmgate milk prices were slashed by Fonterra Cooperative Group and other processors.

The group, Dairy Power, said the “unacceptable retrospective reduction in milk price”, which affects 75 percent of farms in Victoria, threatens to push farmers off the land or further cull their herds.

“Dairy farmers are not going to survive if they’re losing money,” said group president Chris Gleeson. “The average farmer is forecast to lose A$15,000 this season and more next season. Without immediate action, the industry will continue its downward spiral.” . . 

The money’s in the honey:

The money’s in the honey

A dawning realisation that unused blocks of manuka covered land could be an untapped source of sustainable income is attracting a steadily increasing number of students of all ages in Northland to train in apiculture.

Manuka honey, or liquid gold as it’s fast becoming known, is a growing industry, with enrolments in the Kaitaia based Lincoln University Certificate in Apiculture up from eight students in 2015 to 22 in 2016. The course has support from local iwi, and is run in partnership with Te Runanga o Te Rarawa School of Honey Gatherers. . . 

Speech to the B3 biosecurity conference:

As you know, I’ve always said that biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister.

That’s because it underpins all of our other goals. We want to double the value of our primary sector exports by 2025, but we can’t do that unless we protect ourselves from pests and diseases.

Today I want to give a bit of context on what we’ve achieved over the last few years, the challenges ahead of us, and the importance of all sectors working together.

What we’ve done in recent years

In Budget 2015 I was proud to announce $27 million in new funding for biosecurity. As a result of that, MPI has employed 90 new front line biosecurity staff and introduced 24 new biosecurity detector dog teams. . .

Ministers announces Green Ribbon finalists:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced the 2016 Green Ribbon Awards finalists to celebrate exceptional environmental achievements by New Zealanders.

“We are delighted to recognise these community groups, scientists, schools, councils and businesses for their innovation and achievements in the 26th annual Green Ribbon Awards,” Dr Smith says.

“This year we received a very commendable 106 nominations across the ten categories, with some projects making a positive difference over many years.

“Environmental initiatives include protecting our precious biodiversity, reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, reducing water pollution, educating and inspiring leadership and implementing more sustainable business practice.” . . 

Gift to help grow seed industry:

A former Lincoln University student who went on to carve out an illustrious career in the seed industry has provided a significant boost to seed science education in New Zealand.

Selwyn and Mary Manning signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lincoln University Foundation last Friday to mark the creation of the Manning Seed Awards, which are dedicated to furthering education in seed science and seed technology for the benefit of New Zealand. 
“The seed industry is sometimes overlooked for funding, as a lot of people don’t realise how significant it is,” Mr Manning said at the MOU signing event.
 
“These awards are our way of giving back to a vital sector of New Zealand’s agricultural industry, which has given our family so much for so many years.” . . 

Zooming in on heat for herring bones:

Farmers who milk in herringbones now have an easy to use and high tech solution to accurately identify which of their cows are on heat.

The innovative system has been developed in New Zealand by farmer owned co-operative LIC, and is now commercially available in this country and overseas. It uses exclusive camera technology to automatically identify heat events, saving farmers time and money.

The technology was developed to meet farmer demand for a herringbone heat detection solution, LIC Automation Chief Executive Paul Whiston said. Protrack EZ Heat for rotaries had been available for four years and a large number of farmers had asked for a herringbone solution. . . 

Shearer, farmer and former soldier wins premier book award – Beattie’s Book Blog:

Stephen Daisley has won New Zealand’s richest writing prize, the inaugural $50,000 Acorn Foundation Literary Award, for his novel Coming Rain, announced this evening at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards..

Daisley (60), who was born and raised in the Raetihi Hotel, which his parents owned, is a former soldier in the NZ Army. He was 56 years old when his first book, Traitor, was published to wide literary acclaim in Australia, winning a Prime Minister’s Award for Literature. Daisley now lives in Western Australia, where he is a farmer and shearer. . . 

Staying fit on the farm!  5 keys to finding time to workout – Uptown Farms:

Over the last few years I’ve had the privilege of speaking to women from all aspects of our industry. One question keeps coming up.

Other farm moms always ask, “How do you have time to stay in shape?”

Every time it’s asked, I have a lousy answer. I just smile and shrug, or reply “I don’t know!”

For moms on the farm, life is so different. Our mornings already start earlier than most with morning chores. For moms
who farm full time, there isn’t a break between sun up and sun down. Many of us leave the farm for a career during the day, only to return to more chores in the evening. We often eat meals on the go, in the tractor or in the barn. . . 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2015

Former Fonterra boss Craig Norgate dies:

The former Fonterra boss, Craig Norgate has died. He was 50.

Mr Norgate had a spectacular rise in business, becoming head of New Zealand’s biggest company, Fonterra, at the age of 36. . .

$158,000 to protect Taranaki biodiversity:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced a $158,000 Community Environment Fund grant for a project which aims to protect native birds and forest at Rotokare Scenic Reserve in South Taranaki.

“This funding will help support the work underway to ensure a ‘halo’ more than 2000 hectares in area surrounding the predator-proof fence of Rotokare Scenic Reserve. This funding will extend the successful work of the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust as well as neighbouring property owners and local councils to create a flourishing ecosystem in an area that was previously threatened by predators and land use change,” Dr Smith says. . .

ComCom to file court proceedings over price fixing – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission intends to file court proceedings against PGG Wrightson, Elders New Zealand and Rural Livestock by the end of the month, claiming the three fixed fees charged during the implementation of a national livestock tagging scheme.

The consumer protection authority is investigating fees charged during the adoption of the National Animal Identification and Trading Act 2012, commonly known as NAIT. A spokesman for the commission confirmed it intends to file proceedings against the three agricultural companies and five undisclosed individuals before the end of this month. . .

Improvements sought for forestry scheme:

A review to increase uptake for the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative is underway and the government is seeking feedback from industry on the proposed changes, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

Introduced in 2006, the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative was the first national scheme that allowed forest landowners to earn emissions units for the carbon stored within their forests. . .

More than one prize to aim for in South Island farming competition:

In addition to the top prize of a $20,000 travel fund, entrants in the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year Competition will also be able to pitch for one of four special category prizes, with a cash prize of $5000 each.

Lincoln University Foundation Chairman Ben Todhunter said generous support from sponsors meant that the four prizes could again be offered this year, after their debut in the 2014 season. . .

Two Brands, Three Blokes, One New Wine Company:

Two renowned Marlborough wine brands are joining forces, with the backing of former employees.

Highfield and TerraVin Wines will now be known as Highfield TerraVin Ltd.

Winemakers Alistair Soper and Gordon Ritchie have joined with General Manager Pete Coldwell to run the new company, with all three men having some strong goals in mind. . .

 

Technology takes vineyard to the world:

One of New Zealand’s fastest growing and most innovative wine companies, Yealands Family Wines is taking its sustainability story to global markets via a leading edge, digital platform.

YealandsLive.co.nz features dynamic content captured via a series of live feeds, directly from the Yealands Estate Seaview Vineyard and Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand. The website aims to give consumers and the wine trade a unique, and authentic behind the scenes look at one of the world’s premier sustainable wine producers. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

February 12, 2014

Syndicate farming a growing venture – Sue O’Dowd:

School didn’t fit the bill for a young Taranaki man wanting to party and make money.

The man behind Taranaki’s Farm Venture, a business that establishes syndicates to buy and operate dairy farms in Taranaki and the King Country, wanted to get on with life.

Tim Barrett was a pupil at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth and principal Brother Peter Bray was adamant he wanted the 15-year-old to stay at school so he could go to university.

“But I had stuff I wanted to do,” the now 50-year-old millionaire businessman said, “and I needed money to do it.” .

So Barrett got his way and embarked on a farming career. He managed to fit in some partying but he was more focused on becoming a farmer, so he followed the traditional path of working for wages and as a variable order and 50/50 sharemilker to dairy farm ownership at Te Kiri in South Taranaki. Along the way he also spent a year in Canada working on beef and cropping farms. . .

Changing world for sheep farming and sheep meat – Allan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the world for sheep farming, processing and sheep meat has changed dramatically, particularly in the past 30 years.

The age of massive single shift plants, high wool prices, large stations, the frozen carcase trade with the UK and farm subsidies has disappeared for ever. It has been replaced by a new era in which the main characteristics are no subsidies, less sheep and lambs, smaller, more flexible plants, an increasing proportion of chilled product, higher value co-products with less income from wool, and progressively more trade with markets other than the UK and Europe.

To a casual observer or time traveller who has spent the last 30 years elsewhere, there are still some obvious similarities, but a more careful study would show the differences pretty quickly. For example the swathes of irrigated land from mid Canterbury to Southland with dairy cattle instead of sheep grazing, thousands of hectares now covered with vines in Central Otago, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, the size of lambs going to slaughter, the volume and price of wool at auction and the number of saleyards round the country would all indicate more than a token shift in farming practice. . .

The South Island’s best farmer grows grapes:

The colourful Peter Yealands, who was named 2013 South Island Farmer of the Year, is hosting the winner’s Field Day at his multi award winning Marlborough winery this Thursday (13 February).

“Federated Farmers congratulates the Lincoln University Foundation for recognising the best of South Island farming through its South Island Farmer of the Year competition,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“This Thursday, farmers will have a chance to see just why Marlborough entrepreneur and winemaker, Peter Yealands, was named the South Island’s best farmer for 2013.

“From biological lawn mowers using “baby-doll” sheep to his overall ‘vine to bottle’ approach, the Lincoln Foundation is right to say the knowledge shared at this field day will not just be inspirational, but have relevance to all primary industries. . .

Loyalty and contribution to the betterment of the people of Sarawak honoured:

A man whose career has been marked by an outstanding ability to relate to people across a wide spectrum, from poor indigenous farmers and their communities through to commercial agribusiness and industrial companies, senior government officials and political figures at state and federal level, was today (11 February) awarded the Lincoln Alumni International Medal.

Datu Dr Ngenang Ak Jangu of Sarawak, Malaysia has made an outstanding contribution in his home country, in his chosen field of agriculture.

The Lincoln Alumni International Medal is awarded to a former student, or a past or current staff member of Lincoln University who, in the opinion of the Lincoln University Council, has made an outstanding contribution to his or her chosen field, and brought credit to Lincoln University through achievements in a country other than New Zealand. . .

Weakened milk price predicted to fall back to $7 – Gerald Piddock:

An expected softening in milk prices in mid 2014 has bank economists predicting a milk price of around $7/kg milk solids for the 2014-15 season.

This weakened payout is predicted to occur when northern hemisphere production peaks later this year. The resulting extra supply would push prices down, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said. The bank had forecast an opening price of $7.10/kg MS for the 2014-15 season.

“We’re expecting dairy prices to soften a little bit over the course of 2014 as global supply increases.

“It was still a good price. It’s not quite as good as 2013-2014, but not too bad either.” . . .

A floral fight against green terrorists:

Flower power is alive and well in the Waikato. No, it’s not a hemp-wearing, nettle-tea drinking hippy commune promoting pacifism. Rather, depending on where you stand in the food chain, this one’s a bit more sinister. In fact, it’s designed for death.

No need to alert the authorities, however. The horror is taking place at a more microscopic level, and it’s all for a good cause.

To promote biodiversity and reduce the use of pesticides, award winning food company Snap Fresh Foods has teamed up with Lincoln University to harness the pest-killing attributes of flowers. More to the point, the flowers are being used to attract the right kind of killer insects. . .

Enjoy your kiwi heritage – rafting the Clarence – Stephen Franks:

I’ve just come off 6 days rafting down the Clarence River with 13 friends. We’re raving about good times that surpassed all expectation.

The river starts above Hanmer and reaches the sea near Kaikoura. Rafting it should be on every New Zealander’s heritage ‘must do’ list, like the Otago Rail Trail.

Do it for the scale of the country, its emptiness, the clarity of the sky, the alternating serenity and rush of rafting. Do it to enjoy the chatter of your raft-mates, the walking and climbing from campsites among scrub and snowgrass. Do it to swim in deep blue pools and drink the water you swim in all the way down. Do it to boil the billy on wood fires and taste the difference between manuka  and willow smoke in your tea. Do it to be without electronic contact for the entire trip.

Do it to sip your Waipara wines as the swallows zip and dart over your camp after insects in the evening. . . .


Rural round-up

January 11, 2014

Inquiry after routine spray ruins vines:

The head of a chemical manufacturing giant has launched an investigation after winegrowers had their vines virtually destroyed after a routine insecticide spray went horribly wrong.

North Canterbury winegrowers Brent Knight and Trevor Bunting claim that a common moth insecticide used on the vines in early December last year had been mislabelled by Dow AgroSciences.

They say their vines have been devastated by the compound, which was sprayed over their vineyards.

The managing director of Dow AgroSciences says the company is investigating, but has not admitted liability. Pete Dryden says it is working with the growers to establish what happened, but would make no further comment. . . .

Federated Farmers’ options for red meat reform:

Federated Farmers has publicly released its discussion paper on major options for reforming New Zealand’s $6 billion red meat export industry. 

“The OECD-FAO expects world meat exports to increase by 19 percent by 2022, so the need for reform has never been clearer,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“The OECD-FAO said last year that meat prices will remain high in real terms over the next decade.  This was due to changing market fundamentals of slower production growth and stronger demand and represents the opportunity we have.

“What New Zealanders need to understand is that red meat could be so much more.  If it was a schoolchild then it would be the C+ pupil. The one with massive potential but has issues with concentration and does not play well with others. . .

Why I’m not an ‘agvocate” – Modern Milkmaid:

Advocating for agriculture is a worthwhile goal, no doubt. But who knows what being an agvocate means? Other agvocates. Your typical non farmer thinks you just spelt advocate wrong. The label serves only to identify yourself to others in the industry, most often those who farm the same way you do.

Lately, I’ve become frustrated and disillusioned with where I see agvocacy heading, primarily on twitter. Calling consumers ignorant, stupid, uneducated, brain dead, or scientifically illiterate for not understanding the industry is common. For many farmers, it’s the only life they’ve known. It makes it easy to forget that not everyone lives and breathes agriculture and food issues on a daily basis! I’ve lived both sides, and remember how difficult it was to cut through all the “facts” and “evidence”. We’re experts in our own field, but do you know every facet of the oil or aviation or whatever industries?! . . .

Vice getting prepped to be president – Abby Brown:

Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills, who will stand down in July, says it is normal for the vice president to take over as national president.

“Dr William Rolleston is working to replace me,” Wills said.

All the board members expressed confidence in Rolleston. . . .

 Calendar showcases women in agriculture – Jaclyn Pidwerbesky;

The Women in Ag calendar initiative was founded by three women proud to be members of the agriculture business community and even prouder to be Saskatchewan farmers.  Our mission is to raise awareness within the ag industry by showcasing smart and talented women of all ages, backgrounds and professions, and to contribute to a cause that advances the presence of agriculture in Saskatchewan.

Thus, the 2014 Women in Ag calendar was born.  Women from many different careers are involved in this project. The calendar has been designed to display and represent these women in their everyday work environment.  Our goal is to create a platform for women to promote each other, work together, and network. . .

South Island Farmer of the Year Winner’s Field day:

One of New Zealand’s most successful primary producers will share their ideas, learning and innovation at the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year winner’s field day next month.

Peter Yealands, of Yealands Wine Group, won the prestigious title for the 2013 season and will host the field day at the Yealands Estate Winery near Seddon, Marlborough, on Thursday 13 February.

Lincoln University Foundation Chairman Ben Todhunter says the informative programme planned for the field day will have practical relevance for farmers and other producers across the primary industries. . .

The Best Farmers’ Market in Munster – John Daly:

According to a survey conducted by Bord Bia earlier in 2013, 68% of Irish people admitted buying local products to support the economy, even if they sometimes cost more. Many small food and drink producers began life at farmers’ markets, and the effect of such direct, weekly contact with the public has provided an important stepping stone to many a fledgling start-up.

Farmers’ markets allow producers to develop a loyal customer base in their community, gather valuable feedback and suggestions for new products, as well as a vital source of regular cashflow. Farmers’ markets have experienced substantial growth in recent years, from less than 100 in 2006 to well over double that number today. Recognising the importance of neighbourhood markets to the general economy as well as encouraging local enterprise, a voluntary Good Practice Standard for Farmers’ Markets was launched in 2009. . .


Rural round-up

January 25, 2012

New Zealand’s first independent product development spray dryer:

 New Zealand’s first and only independent product development spray dryer is one step closer to being open for business.  The 10.5 metre high stainless steel dryer, weighing 7.5 tonne was lifted into the new pilot plant today on the Waikato Innovation Park campus in Hamilton.

The $11 million product development spray dryer facility, primarily funded by Innovation Waikato Ltd, is the Waikato component of the Government-sponsored New Zealand Food Innovation Network.  Capacity of the multi-purpose spray dryer is one-half tonne/hour.

Construction of the facility will be completed in April 2012 and the first product run is scheduled for mid-May.

“We’re now looking for commitments from companies that want to research and develop new spray dried food products in the pilot plant.  Our message out to the market is that we’re open for business and we want to help companies create new products and reach new export markets. . .

Strong finish for rural property sales in December:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 140 more farm sales (+65.7%) for the three months ended December 2011 than for the three months ended December 2010.  Overall, there were 353 farm sales in the three months to end of December 2011, compared with 213 farm sales in the three months to December 2010.  The number of sales increased by 38 (+12.1%) in the three months to December 2011 compared to the three months ended November 2011.  1,193 farms were sold in the year to December 2011, the highest number of farm sales on an annual basis since June 2009.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to December 2011 was $20,445, the same as for the three months ended November 2011 and down $3,230 per hectare on the $23,675 recorded for the three months to December 2010. . .

Red meat potential is there but so are challenges – Suzie Horne:

“You can win … you can grow … you can be one of the food industry’s great success stories,” was the positive message from Joanne Denney-Finch to producers at Quality Meat Scotland’s conference this week.
IGD’s research showed that farmers were viewed as hardworking, down to earth, professional and vital to the future, said chief executive Ms Denny-Finch . . .

Livestock prospects for 2012 – Allan Barber:

Livestock processing volumes have been very low so far this season and the prices being paid to farmers are at historically high levels for both beef and lambs. This has got very little to do with the overseas markets, nothing at all with the exchange rate and everything to do with the grass growth everywhere except Otago and Southland.

Many farmers are holding onto their stock with little prospect of being able to afford to buy replacements because of the state of the store market. Although the published schedules are closer to $4.30, current North Island prime beef prices are as high as $4.70, which reflects saleyard prices for 2 ½ year old steers as high as $2.75, equivalent to $5.50 a kilo. This is a grass market running rampant . . .

Anger at loss of lamb weighing at saleyards

GISBORNE farmers are appalled that livestock companies have revoked access to weighing lambs at Matawhero, Stortford Lodge and Feilding saleyards.

PGG  Wrightson and Elders have told iFarm that the lamb weights reported in Livestock Eye were playing a part in increased competition from paddock-based agents, by providing independent benchmark lamb pricing.

Since 2006, iFarm had a contract to weigh a sample of each pen of lambs sold at the yards . . .

Hat tip: interest.co.nz

Farmers’ group aims for greater urban ties – William McCorkindale:

New Zealand Young Farmer leaders have revealed the organisation’s intention of creating closer ties to city contacts.

Young Farmer organisation chief executive Richard Fitzgerald, speaking at the beginning of the 2012 Young Farmer of the Year contest in Dunedin yesterday, stressed the need for agriculture to market itself into urban areas.

Staging the grand final in Dunedin in May would be one of the few times the event had been hosted in a large centre, he said.

“We are taking a more proactive approach to marketing the contest and agriculture in general to an urban audience by holding the grand final in a large centre.”

The Young Farmer competition highlighted the need for today’s farmers to have a diverse range of qualifications, technical skills, and abilities, he said . . .

Potatoes New Zealand appoints  new interim board:

Potatoes New Zealand has appointed a new interim board ahead of changes to the organisation’s structure to help the industry achieve its goal of tripling the value of the potato supply chain by 2020.

Potatoes New Zealand’s structure is changing to reflect its new role representing not just growers, but the whole potato supply chain – from grower to seller – who all face the same industry challenges such as psyllid, tightening margins and maintaining consumer demand. Previously, Potatoes New Zealand was a grower-only organisation.

Ron Gall, Potatoes New Zealand Business Manager, believes the new Potatoes New Zealand structure will present greater opportunities for growth and collaboration among its expanded membership base.

From the paddock to the packet field day:
The 2011 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year will hold a field day on their South Canterbury property in early March.

Raymond and Adrianne Bowan will open Fallgate Farms and their Heartland Potato Chip factory to the rural community to show how innovation helped them turn well grown potatoes into great tasting chips.

Lincoln University Foundation chairman Neil Taylor expects many people from throughout the South Island and potato growers from around the country to attend the field day.


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