Rural round-up

20/06/2022

Agriculture trip a ‘whirlwind’ of inspiration – Sally Rae:

Sam Vivian-Greer admits he is not usually the most emotional person.

But during this month’s mentoring trip around New Zealand for winners of the Zanda McDonald agribusiness award, the Wairarapa man acknowledged he was a little emotional, particularly as he wrote down each day’s experiences in a notebook.

The award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the agricultural sector from Australia and New Zealand.

Part of the prize package includes a trip to high-performing farms and businesses in Australia and New Zealand, travelling by a chartered Pilatus PC-12 aircraft. . . 

KPMG finds mixed fortunes and increasing demands within rural sector industries :

The rural sector is muddled and looking for the best way forward amid a wave of regulations, Covid-19 related fatigue, and varied outlooks for different parts of the industry.

Business advisory firm KPMG’s Agribusiness Agenda found a mixed picture among 122 primary industry leaders, with some straining to make the most of profitable overseas opportunities, while others were fighting to survive.

KPMG’s head of global agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said no single theme stood out for the sector with a multitude of issues vying for attention.

“For some leaders, things have never been better; others face an existential crisis, while many have aspects of their operations that are humming and other parts that are on, or are close to, life support.”

He said the sector was opportunity-packed and risk burdened by “high highs” and almost as many “low lows”, and had done a remarkable job in reconnecting with world markets and earnings record returns when the country needed it most during the pandemic. . .

 

 

Groundswell NZ challenges Climate Change Minister to tell the full story on farm emissions :

The Government is expecting the agriculture sector to subsidise the rest of the economy on climate change, so Groundswell NZ is asking for the evidence from James Shaw, Groundswell NZ emissions spokesperson Steve Cranston says.

“Groundswell NZ has written to Climate Change Minister James Shaw to request any modelling or data he relies on, showing that agriculture is contributing to additional warming of the climate.”

“We support the call to stop further climate warming from the agricultural sector, in accordance with the Paris Agreement objective of limiting warming to 1.5° C. The farmers we represent want to do the right thing and ensure there is no net increase in atmospheric warming due to farming activities.”

“Our position is that farming in this country is currently at or close to climate neutrality. Emission outputs from agriculture are being offset by natural atmospheric decay, in the case of methane, or offset by farm tree sequestration, in the case of carbon.” . . 

Grow another paddock – Ian Williams:

Farming is becoming increasingly complex. Until recentyl, farmers had relatively few issues to focus on: feeding cows, producing milk and hopefully making enough money to feed their family and pay off their mortgages.

Things are very different now. The historical issues remain but added to these are increased compliance requirements, regular staff shortages, more demands from milk and meat processors, climate change and of course, global supply chain issues brought about by war and pandemics.

This increased complexity results in increased risk. Until this season, payout has been relatively stable, sitting between $6.12 and $7.54/kgMS.

The biggest business risk has been around the variable climate and trying to produce enough milk to generate good profit. . . 

Early warning technology to help farmers battle costly cattle disease mastitis:

New research from Lincoln University could dramatically improve the treatment of a common cattle disease that costs farmers an estimated $280m a year.

Mastitis is a painful bacterial infection that affects cows’ udders and causes a drop in milk quality and production.

The disease is treatable but can prove costly for dairy farmers.

But a team of researchers from Lincoln University may have found a way to detect the disease in its early stages. . .

Wool farmers urged to take simple step to secure prosperous future :

The Campaign for Wool NZ Trust (CFWNZ) is encouraging New Zealand sheep farmers registered under the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) for their meat production to take the “very simple step” of adding their NZFAP assurance code to their wool specification sheet.

“This makes sure our farmers’ beautiful wool can be branded and marketed under this important new quality standard,” explains CFWNZ Chair Tom O’Sullivan. “The NZFAP is important, because it provides assurances to consumers across the globe that our wool is produced with integrity, traceability, and animal health and welfare top of mind. We’re hearing that while many of our farmers are already signed up to the programme for their meat operation, they might have neglected to include their NZFAP assurance code on their wool specification to ensure their wool is sold and promoted as NZFAP certified.”

The wool industry adopted the NZFAP as a national standard for wool in September 2021, and Tom says although there’s been an increase in farmers including their NZFAP assurance code on their wool specification sheet in recent months, there is still a long way to go.

Tom, himself an experienced sheep farmer based in Hawke’s Bay, says farmers could be slow to include their assurance code because they think the NZFAP auditing process might be expensive, daunting, or overly rigorous. “But there is no additional cost to farmers. When the NZFAP auditors visit a farm, wool is automatically included in the audit process.” . .

 


Rural round-up

20/04/2022

Flying high on the seeds of success – Sally Rae:

Topflite is a quiet North Otago success story, growing from humble beginnings amid the district’s farmland to one of New Zealand’s leading pet food brands. Business editor Sally Rae talks to general manager Greg Webster about joining the family business and the opportunities Covid-19 has afforded it.

When Greg Webster was growing up on a farm in rural North Otago, he vividly recalls his father, Jock, telling him never to be a farmer.

It was the 1980s — an era that was “so tough” for farmers who were battling crippling drought and huge interest rates.

“They were under the pump. Some of that probably rubbed off,” Mr Webster recalled this week. . . 

Freeze-dried meat for natural treats – Ashley Smyth :

Oamaru pet food brand Topflite has unleashed its latest project, Hound.

Topflite Hound is a line of minimally processed, freeze-dried meat treats for dogs. The treats were made from grass-fed, low-stress beef and cage-free chicken and were as natural as possible, which aligned with the brand, marketing manager Carolyn Webster said.

The product seemed a “logical next step” for the company, who already specialised in small animal pet food.

General manager Greg Webster had done some research into the market years ago and saw the opportunities in dog treats, so it had been on his radar for a long time. . . 

 

Staggeringly exciting research may save sheep farmers :

Livestock researchers around the world can now remotely detect ryegrass staggers in sheep using on-animal sensors.

This follows research findings from an international team – including researchers from Lincoln University and CQ University in Central Queensland.

Results from the study means that, in the future, farmers will be able to act quickly and move sheep to new pastures when they begin to display the signs of (grass) staggers – potentially improving their bottom line by $100 per hectare.

Grass stagger is caused by the consumption of plants such as phalaris and ryegrass – common in both Australia and New Zealand – that are infected with toxic strains of endophyte. It can be fatal if animals have experienced prolonged exposure to toxic pasture. . . 

Permission to discharge milk among regional council’s new consents – Brendon McMahon:

Westland Milk Products has been granted a renewed consent by the West Coast Regional Council to discharge milk waste to land from its Hokitika factory.

Council consents and compliance manager Colin Helem said the application, to discharge milk and milk by-products to land where it may enter water, was to renew the previous consent which was due to expire.

The non-notified consent allows the company to discharge on to areas at Ngāi Tahu Forestry’s Mahinapua, Kaniere, Waimea and Nemona forest blocks.

This was one of 15 non-notified consents issued by the regional council during March. . . 

New licence great news for Kiwi cannabis patients :

“The industry’s first licence renewal and expansion will enable Helius to produce New Zealand grown and made medicinal cannabis products – something Kiwi patients have been waiting for since the inception of the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme. It’s an exciting milestone,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Helius was New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to achieve a GMP Licence for Manufacturing Medicines in July 2021, covering the first products to market.

The Ministry of Health has now renewed and expanded Helius’ licence allowing the Auckland-based company to make active ingredients onsite from raw cannabis material.

Every New Zealand GP can now prescribe medicinal cannabis for any health condition, with Kiwi-manufactured products using imported active ingredients available for the past six months. . . 

GOR Woollen Mill set to be one of the largest in Australia under expansion plans – Rochelle Kirkham :

An alpaca farm and woollen mill’s move to Ballarat will add a highly-regarded ‘paddock to product’ business to central Victoria and create a new tourism drawcard.

Great Ocean Road Woollen Mill, now known as GOR Woollen Mill, is in the process of relocating its alpacas to Burrumbeet and setting up new machinery in Delacombe, near Ballarat.

The move from the business’s previous home in Ecklin South near Timboon was driven by a need to be on a bigger site to keep up with demand for their alpaca fibre and be located closer to their customer base.

Owners Nick and Isabel Renters have had a big week starting to unpack seven crates of new wool processing machinery from Italy at their Delacombe factory. . . 


Rural round-up

10/01/2022

What farmers are hoping for in 2022 – Mazz Scannell:

If New Zealand beef and lamb farmers were asked what they hoped for in 2022, the answers would be quick: two inches of rain, a slowing of rising land prices, reliable supply chain, consistent kill cycle, good product prices, the ability to manage political change and good staff.

There are more than 44,000 people employed in New Zealand’s meat and wool sector, and the scarcity of seasonal and specialist workers is an ongoing challenge. The one thing farmers can do is to keep the staff they have and grow the next generation of farmers.

Wairarapa farmer Derek Daniell says teamwork is what farming is all about. He knows of farms that have had the same staff for 30 or 40 years, even if the ownership has changed.

“It is about working together as a team and enjoying each other,” he said. “When word gets out someone is leaving, they are usually shoulder-tapped by someone else who wants to take their place.” . .

Reward for improving land – Annette Scott:

Informing policymakers can be challenging, but Professor Richard McDowell has a special interest in presenting understandable science and has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to environmental policy. He talked with Annette Scott.

Richard McDowell has been awarded the Hutton Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for his outstanding contributions to the knowledge of contaminant losses from land to water and informing environmental policy.

The Hutton Medal is awarded for significantly advancing understanding in the animal, earth or plant sciences.

A land and water scientist, McDowell works between AgResearch and Lincoln University making a major contribution to the scientific understanding of contaminant losses from land to water. . . 

Planning key to combat higher costs :

Strong financial management, grazing management and people management skills will help dairy farmers buffer rising input costs and produce milk more efficiently.

That’s the message from DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle who says despite a high milk price, high-cost pressures are expected to continue for at least the next couple of years.

Statistics New Zealand released its latest farm expense price index last month which showed large inflation costs for farmers over the past two years.

Four key farming costs have experienced inflation of more than 10 per cent between 2019 and 2021, including fertiliser with a 15.9 per cent increase; cultivation, harvesting and animal feed with an 18.9 per cent increase; electricity with a 21 per cent increase; and stock grazing costs which are 36.9 per cent higher this year than they were in 2019. . .

Dog training from the best – Hugh Stringleman:

Two of the best dog trialists in the country have been sharing their skills with a new generation, giving back to the community that has been the base of their own success. Hugh Stringleman went along to their training day.

The art of sheep dog training, for on-farm working and for competition, was taught in early December at the Maungakaramea farm of Murray and Kathy Child.

It was the Northland training day of the nationwide Purina Pro Plan training series, hosted on this occasion by the Maungakaramea Sheep Dog Trial Club.

Murray does up to 12 of these training days around the North Island every year in his role as a Purina Pro Plan ambassador. . . 

South Island Cheese Festival: a grate day to Brie a cheese lover!:

The South Island Cheese Festival – owned by Cranky Goat Ltd will be returning for its second ever time next month and will be located at the beautiful location of Clos Henri Vineyard kicking off from 10am on Saturday 5th February.

Cheese companies from all over New Zealand will be coming together to celebrate cheese! Giving visitors the perfect opportunity to explore the large variety of flavours, textures and milk types. There will be an abundance of cheeses on offer alongside a large selection of produce that compliments cheeses, giving visitors an instant high quality picnic to enjoy on the stunning lawn at Clos Henri Vineyard.

The South Island Cheese Festival is proud to be hosting incredible companies such as Meyer Cheese, Barrys Bay Cheese, A Lady Butcher, Proper Crisps – Crackerbread, Peckham’s Cider, Easy Cheesy Food Truck and many more! . . 

‘It’ll take away our livelihoods’: Welsh farmers on rewilding and carbon markets

Teleri Fielden is suddenly very despairing. After skirting around the topic for the best part of an hour at her farm in Snowdonia, we’re discussing rewilding and the idea of restoring land to a more natural state and creating more nature-friendly farming practices.

Wales has become one of the focal points of the debate playing out all over the world about how farms and rewilding can work together. Supporters of rewilding say the two can co-exist, but that farming has to change given it is the biggest contributor to nature loss in the country. . .

Around 1 in 6 species in the country are currently at risk of extinction and birds like turtle doves and corn buntings have already gone from Wales’ skies.

With close to 90% of land in Wales used for agriculture, there is currently little space for wildlife to exist free from the influence of farming. Rewilding, which can involve encouraging and supporting wildlife on-farm through replanting hedgerows as well as giving over unproductive land to nature, could help reverse the biodiversity decline. . .


Rural round-up

06/12/2021

Wool price making a comeback as overseas demand for product rises :

Higher demand for sportswear, rugs and other wool products has resulted in a resurgence in wool prices.

Prices across all wool types lifted in the year to October, Beef and Lamb’s latest wool export data shows.

Merino was up 28.4 percent to just over $18,000 a tonne and strong wool, which has been struggling with depressed prices, rose 12.1 percent.

PGG Wrightson general manager of wool Grant Edwards said prices are lifting due to higher demand. . . 

Commercial beekeeper numbers drop amid low prices – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest apiculture monitoring report showed the number of beekeepers with 500 or more hives fell by 9.9 percent to 316 oin the 2020/21 season.

This follows a 7.6 percent drop the previous season.

The total number of registered hives in New Zealand also fell over the last two years to 806,000.

Prior to this the commercial honey industry had been experiencing growth, with a jump in the popularity and price of manuka honey driving a boom in production. . .

NZ agriculture is starting to see value in celebrating its provenance – Tina Morrison:

Much of New Zealand’s agricultural produce is sold as unbranded commodities on global markets. But that’s starting to change as companies discover there is value in heralding their Kiwi provenance.

“New Zealand has got a really strong story and that’s something that we haven’t really told in the past,” says Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing programme director Dr Nic Lees. “We are making progress. I think we have started on that journey.”

Fonterra, the country’s largest dairy company, has been vocal about its shift in focus under new chief executive Miles Hurrell. Where his predecessor Theo Spierings envisaged the co-operative becoming another big global conglomerate like Danone or Nestle, Hurrell has sold off overseas assets and pulled back to New Zealand to focus on getting more value from the “white gold” produced by local farmers.

Hurrell says Fonterra is only now amplifying the New Zealand provenance message it always knew it had as demand has increased across its global markets to know more about the origin and purity of food. . . 

MLA becomes major supporter of award benefitting Australasian agriculture:

In an exciting development for future leaders in agriculture, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) have announced their partnership with Australasian agricultural badge of honour, the Zanda McDonald Award.

The Award, which recognises talented young individuals from Australia and New Zealand who want to make a difference in agriculture, helps take people’s careers to the next level for the betterment of the industry on both sides of the Tasman.

This is delivered through an impressive personal development plan for the finalists on both sides of the Tasman, and a ‘money can’t buy’ prize package for the winners. This prize includes media training, further education, and a tailored mentoring program across both countries, where they spend time up close and personal with some of the biggest leaders and influencers in the sector. . . 

Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers announced for 2021:

The New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

From making strides in wine governance to adding sparkle to the wine industry, the 2021 NZW Fellows are a group of highly respected and influential individuals who have helped to shape the success of New Zealand wine today.

We are pleased to announce the NZW Fellows for 2021: Steve Smith MW for service to NZW, Wine Institute of New Zealand, and other initiatives, John Clarke for service to NZW and New Zealand Grape Grower’s Council (NZGGC), Andy Frost for service to national research, Rudi Bauer for service to New Zealand Pinot Noir, and Daniel and Adele Le Brun for service to New Zealand bottle fermented sparkling wine. . . 

Eating less meat no climate solution – Shan Goodwin:

AUSTRALIAN-SPECIFIC research is showing the climate benefits of reducing red meat consumption below amounts recommended in dietary guidelines is small and could create negative environmental trade-offs such as higher water scarcity.

The industry’s big service provider Meat & Livestock Australia has released a fascinating report on the topic, which draws extensively from research conducted by CSIRO and other institutions.

Against a backdrop of increasing calls for affluent societies to significantly cut red meat consumption in the name of the environment, the work shows getting Australians to eat less beef is not an effective climate solution.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 65 grams of lean, cooked, unprocessed red meat a day.

The MLA report, called The Environmental Impact of Red Meat in a Healthy Diet, points out that Australian lamb production is in fact climate neutral already. Further, the water and cropland scarcity footprints of Australian beef and lamb are low. . . 


Rural round-up

24/11/2021

Sometimes we forget where our watches come from – Peter Cresswell:

The weekend’s #Groundswell protests, and the #Groundswell movement itself, were intended to highlight the plight of the New Zealand farmer under an unsympathetic regime. Instead, however, the organisers have allowed it to become easily gaslighted as something it’s not. As racist, or anti-vax. 

And the important message has been lost: that it’s NZ farmers who allow us to live in first-world comfort — that it’s their exported produce that allows us to buy, at not unreasonable prices, all the technology of the world. As Ludwig Von Mises explained back before electronics took over:

The inhabitants of [Switzerland] prefer to manufacture watches instead of growing wheat. Watchmaking is for them the cheapest way to acquire wheat. On the other hand the growing of wheat is the cheapest way for the Canadian farmer to acquire watches.

The lesson remains the same. To paraphrase now, for us: . . .

‘It’s getting harder and harder to farm’ – Farmers rally for second protest :

Farmers and their townie mates are determined to keep pressuring the government to back off what they see as unnecessary expensive changes after Sunday’s nationwide Groundswell protests.

Driving tractors and utes, they clogged streets in all of the main centres on Sunday to have their say on the government’s Three Waters reforms.

It was the second time the Groundswell group had organised such action, calling the rally the “Mother Of All Protests”.

It was hard to get a handle on the exact numbers taking part, with everybody mostly remaining in their cars and socially distanced, but one thing was for sure: the protesters were rowdy. . . 

New coalition demands a halt to further large-scale exotic carbon farming :

The Native Forest Coalition representing the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Rod Donald Trust, the Tindall foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Adam Forbes, has released a policy statement and recommendations on native forests, highlighting the urgent need to halt the rapid proliferation of pine plantations driven by high carbon prices and short-term policy settings.

The Coalition strongly favours prioritising native forestry over exotics and argues that before seeking offshore carbon forest credits, government should invest in native forests, for their myriad of benefits, at home. The Coalition’s concerns are summarised in the policy statement below: 

“In tackling the climate change crisis, there’s an urgent need to move away from short-term thinking and siloed government policy. We need a shift towards joined-up strategies that also address the biodiversity crisis, the degradation of waterways and risks to rural communities.  . .

Online job expo hopes to entice seasonal workers for picking season :

A job expo which helps link job seekers with jobs in the horticulture sector is moving online this year.

Last year, Employment and Careers South held a series of expos around Southland and Otago to help those who found themselves unemployed due to the pandemic get jobs in the horticulture sector which was short staffed due to the border closure.

With summer just around the corner and the border still shut – some growers are still facing a worker shortage going into the vital picking season.

With Covid event restrictions the job expo called Super Summer Jobs has gone online this year. . . 

Hill Country Futures programme:

Innovative tools to support farmers and farm consultants in pasture planning are expected to become available next year as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot, who is leading several of the research areas that make up the programme, said findings from a number of projects are now being written up.

These include a simple model to help farmers forecast potential yields of lucerne for their properties, a national database of pasture growth data, and legume production data to help farmers assess the difference in productivity they could achieve by replacing resident pasture with improved pasture.

Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m partnership programme, co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Seed Force New Zealand and PGG Wrightson Seeds. . .

Manawa Honey wins four awards at the London Honey Awards 2021:

A small honey producer from Ruatāhuna, in the remote Te Urewera wilderness, crowned Best Tasting Honey in the World earlier this year, has now won four awards at the London International Honey Awards 2021.

Manawa Honey’s Manuka Honey and Tawari Honey won Gold, and their Rewarewa Honey and Pua-a-Tane Wild Forest Honey won Silver. The London Honey Awards attract hundreds of entries from over 30 countries across the world each year. Entries are judged on a range of criteria including the general sense of enjoyment, taste and appearance.

These achievements and awards are now snowballing for this honey producer that has its community rather than commerce alone at heart. Ruatāhuna is situated deep in Te Urewera forest, home to the Tūhoe tribe. It has a population of only about 350 people residents and is a one-hour drive from the nearest town, Murupara and two-hour’s drive from Rotorua. . . 


Rural round-up

18/11/2021

Sheep researcher looks into methane reduction – Nigel Malthus:

How breeding sheep for intestinal parasite resistance or resilience affects their methane emissions is the focus of research currently being completed by a Lincoln University scholarship winner.

Kayleigh Forbes is the inaugural recipient of the John Reeves Memorial scholarship, awarded to a student at Lincoln doing an honours dissertation in sheep genetics.

The $2,000 scholarship has been established by the Reeves family, in honour of John Reeves, a pioneering Romney breeder who spearheaded efforts to breed for facial eczema resistance. He died after an accident on farm, still working at the age of 87, in 2019. His son Alistair runs the family farm, Waimai Romney on the rugged Waikato west coast.

He says Waimai Romney wanted to put something back into young people who were willing to follow genetics and try something different. . . 

Profitability underpins succession plan – Kate Taylor:

Running a profitable farming business and diversifying with off-farm investments is a Central Hawke’s Bay family’s key to succession.

Simon and Lou White and their three children – Millie, 8, George, 6, and Oscar, 4 – live near Otane, south of Hastings. Trading under the Ludlow Farms Trust, Simon and Lou lease the 665ha home farm from Waireka Family Trust, set up by Simon’s parents, Neil and Gwen.

“Mum and Dad’s family trust owns the land, and our family trust owns the farming company that leases it and farms it. We all thought leasing was the safest option; we’re safeguarding a valuable family asset at the end of the day.”

Getting the right advice is a big part of a successful ownership transition. . .

Rolling with risk for long-term gain – Tim Fulton:

Leasing for sheep and cattle is money in the bank for Banks Peninsula-bred Edward Harrington, a Cantabrian expanding across the plains.

Four years ago Edward and his wife Jenna took up a lease near Springfield, under the foothills of the Southern Alps. It’s one of three properties they lease, in addition to a down-country block at Leeston and a third on Edward’s beloved peninsula.

Edward is from a Banks Peninsula farming family and Jenna from a rural English town in Cornwall. Edward’s parents sold up the majority of their farming land that adjoined their Takamatua property when interest rates spiralled in the late 1980s. “We had a couple of hundred acres when I was a kid so I liked farming and used to go and watch the old man kill the odd sheep in the weekend or help feed out. After leaving school Edward went shearing for a couple of years, did a bit of casual work and then had eight years as a fulltime stock manager. . .

NZIER report: glysophate’s economic and environmental benefits :

Food and pasture growers as well as the forestry industry rely on glyphosate to prevent deep-rooted weeds from taking over their crops and decimating productivity, according to a report by the NZIER on the benefits of glyphosate to New Zealand.

The world’s most widely-used weed management tool has extensive economic and environmental benefits. It enables farmers and growers to deliver food and fibre efficiently, cost-effectively, and to a higher quality – allowing access to safe and affordable food.

The report estimates that herbicides are worth up to $8.6 billion to NZ agriculture, with an average impact on output of up to 20%.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that can eliminate nearly all weeds, which many other herbicides cannot. Without it, producers would face substantial weed pressure – as weeds compete with crops for light, water and nutrients. An even greater pressure exists with climate change and the need for farming practices to become more sustainable. . .

New Zealand wine in high demand :

International demand for New Zealand wine shows no sign of slowing, with export value reaching $599 million in the first quarter of the new export year, up 9% on the previous year. The demand for New Zealand wine is also reflected in an increase in price per litre, with the September quarter 2021 average value up 4% from September 2020.

“The ongoing demand for New Zealand wine has proven that the distinctive flavours, quality and sustainability of our wines increasingly resonate with consumers around the world. It is encouraging to see that during these uncertain times, consumers continue to choose a premium product they know that they can trust,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

Although the quality of the 2021 vintage was exceptional throughout New Zealand’s wine regions, the overall harvest was much smaller than hoped for, with 370,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during the 2021 vintage – down 19% on last year’s crop. This reduced supply is reflected in the decrease in volume of exports, with YTD September 2021 exports down 3% on the previous year. . .

Farmlands Co-operative to roll into Christmas giving with I Am Hope and local charities :

Farmlands has donated $37,500 to I Am Hope’s Gumboot Friday fund — providing 150 counselling sessions to rural youth in New Zealand.
And it’s just the start.

The announcement is the kick-start of Farmlands 2021 charitable Christmas campaign, uniting some of New Zealand’s biggest rural names with a pledge to support both local and national charities. Farmlands CEO Tanya Houghton is thrilled that Farmlands’ Partners Allflex/ MSD Animal Health Intelligence, Summit Steel & Wire and Z Energy have also jumped on board to support the campaign.

“Our hope is that our whānau of shareholders and customers will join in the Christmas giving as well!” Tanya says.

From 15th November, customers purchasing across the 82 Farmlands stores will have the opportunity to “Tag your Charity” by either donating to a local charity chosen by the store or to I Am Hope’s Gumboot Friday fund. In return, customers will be able to hang an Allflex/ MSD Animal Health Intelligence eartag on the Summit Steel & Wire designed Christmas tree in-store. . .

 


Rural round up

15/11/2021

Towards a sustainable future – Jackie Harrigan:

Dayna Rowe is looking to the future and plans to work with her parents on their family farm to bring in new initiatives around sustainability and efficiency.

The 22-year-old winner of the Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year award won $6000 in prizes and three merit awards after coming runner-up in the same category in 2020. Growing up on the family farm in Pongakawa, Dayna spent a lot of time learning about farming and animals. She had begun studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre Studies when she realised she’d rather be stomping through paddocks than treading the boards.

“I am still involved in competitive dance, it gives me a chance for some female company after working with lads on the farm, but I don’t have as much time for practicing for shows.” . .

EcoPond demonstrating methane leadership on world stage :

As the COP Climate Change Summit concludes, a New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative has showcased new methane mitigating technology that the dairy sector can start using from today to reduce emissions.

Developed with Lincoln University, Ravensdown’s EcoPond system virtually eliminates the methane emitted from effluent ponds.

The breakthrough discovery was to target methane with an additive normally used in the treatment of drinking water. Ravensdown and Lincoln University collaborated in the science that underpins this new technology and Ravensdown will provide the system to dairy farmers wanting to reduce their methane emissions.

“The New Zealand dairy sector is already a world leader in its carbon emissions efficiency, but the country has set a 10% target of biogenic methane reduction by 2030,” said Mike Manning, General Manager Innovation and Strategy. “This new tool in the farmer’s toolbox has the benefit of robust science behind it and will assist farmers who want to start tracking towards that target now.” . .

Capital restructuring is one big issue for Fonterra farmers but they must respond to environmental challenges too – Point of Order:

Just  as  the  dairy  season  hits its  peak, Fonterra   farmer-shareholders   are  confronted with a  key decision on the  capital  structure  of the  big co-op. The board is  asking  them to  vote on the  proposal  at the annual meeting next month.

Consultation on the proposal with farmer-owners has been ongoing throughout the year, with some tweaks announced in September before a second round of discussions.  But Fonterra leaders have been clear they wouldn’t put the reform forward for voting if they believed the support wasn’t there

Farmers have  had  little  time to  enjoy  the  news  that  the  co-op  has  raised  its  forecast  payout  for  the current  season  to  a  record level.  Nor  is the  capital structure the  only  issue triggering  worry in the  cowshed.

The  government’s  focus  on climate  change, particularly methane  emissions, is  another matter weighing on the  industry, exacerbated by outfits like  Greenpeace shouting  the  odds  about “industrial  farming’’  and  “dirty dairying”. . . 

Key competitions of A&P Show go ahead without spectators

The Canterbury Anniversary Day public holiday is known as Show Day in the region – the day the country comes to town.

But for the second time since World War II, there was no A and P show on in Christchurch today.

The Agricultural Show grounds are normally a throng of people on Canterbury Anniversary Day, with about 60,000 people squeezing in to eat hot dogs, look at the best chickens in the district, and sit on a tractor they have no need for.

Today, the streets of the show grounds were empty, with the show cancelled due to Covid-19. . .

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2111/S00140/pest-eradication-could-bring-massive-climate-change-gains-predator-free-2050-limited.htm

‘Woolies Jeans’ raises $239,226 halfway through PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign:

Woolies Jeans, a startup company created by farmer Jovian Garcia-Cummins, has completed the first of a 2 month equity crowdfunding campaign via PledgeMe, generating $239,226 in new funds. The investors are not the typical private equity or angels, but rather 174 fans, who turned their enthusiasm into company shares.

Woolies are not your everyday jeans. They are designed to ‘keep you cool when you are hot and warm when it’s cold’ and utilize NZ Merino to do so. “They will be the most comfortable pair of jeans on the market – always made in NZ” says founder Jovian Garcia Cummins. The jeans are lined with a special type of merino so customers get a traditional jean exterior denim look, with a comfortable merino interior.

The crowd-funding campaign, which kicked off in early October, hit its minimum target of $50,000 within a few days. The average investment has been around $1,400 per person. New investors can still invest via PledgeMe.co.nz and clicking on the Woolies Jeans Campaign. . .

Stop climate-shaming farmers – Margaret Donnely:

The Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has called for the ‘climate shaming’ of farmers to stop.

I think we should stop climate shaming farmers quite frankly. We need to bring farmers with us, we’ll never be able to achieve the reductions that we need, or to clean up our rivers or to win the new markets for food in the future where people are going to be much more concerned about the sustainability of the food that they buy and how it was produced. We need to bring farmers with us.”

Speaking on RTE radio this morning, he admitted that there was an increase in agricultural emissions last year, but said there was actually a 4pc decrease the year before.

The day after Government published its Climate Action Plan, the Tanaiste said if we were getting a 2pc decreases every year “we’d actually be achieving our targets by 2030 when it comes to agriculture”. . . . 


Rural round-up

05/11/2021

Hey Glasgow we’re way ahead of you :

Federated Farmers believes Climate Change Minister James Shaw should not hesitate to sign the global commitment to reduce methane by 30% by 2030, because New Zealand is already playing its part and working hard to become even better.

The pledge, signed by more than 100 countries, is a commitment to work together to collectively reduce global anthropogenic methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.

The pledge does not mean that New Zealand must or should increase our current domestic 10% by 2030 biogenic methane reduction target, which already goes well beyond what is required for the GHG to achieve warming neutrality.

The pledge is clear in recognising that the mitigation potential in different sectors varies between countries and regions, and that the energy sector has the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030. . . 

Farmers are making good money from milk but they should brace to meet commitment to reduce the methane – Point of Order:

A surge in  prices  at the latest  Fonterra global  dairy  auction once  again underlines  how  New Zealand’s dairy  industry  is the  backbone of  the  country’s export economy.  At  the level they  have  reached, dairy farmers  can  look  to  a  record  payout    this  season  from  Fonterra.

Overall,  prices rose 4.3% in  US dollars, and, better  still, 5.1% in NZ$. Star  of the  show  was  the  cheddar  cheese  price, which shot up  14%,  with other  foodservice products also  strong.

The average price for whole milk powder, which has the most impact on what farmers are paid, lifted 2.7% to US$3921 (NZ$5408) a tonne, prompting speculation it will push through US$4000/t.

A  record  payout  is  already  mooted  by  some some  economists  in  the agricultural  sector. Above  $8.80kg/MS, it might  dispel  the  gloom  being  cast across the industry  by Cop26, where the  focus has  shifted to the  need  to  cut methane  emissions. . . 

Food security needs certainty :

The Government must act now to ensure New Zealand growers have certainty in how Covid will handled, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“We are indebted to our growers and producers that provide the food security our country needs at this time.

“But Covid is here and it will inevitably impact essential services such as growers. . . 

Kit Arkwright appointed chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand Inc,:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc (BLNZ Inc) has appointed Kit Arkwright as the organisation’s new chief executive.

Mr Arkwright, who has been fulfilling the role of acting CEO during the recruitment process, has been with the organisation since 2017, most recently as General Manager – Marketing.

Prior to working for BLNZ Inc, he worked in the UK for Great British Racing – the central promotional body for the British horseracing industry – tasked with marketing the sport to the British public.

He succeeds Rod Slater, who retired earlier in the year after 27 years in the role. . . 

Horticulture students place in top three in international food marketing challenge :

Two teams of high-flying university students from Massey and Lincoln Universities have placed in the final three in the recent International Food Marketing Challenge.

The Lincoln University team, consisting of Grace Moscrip, Grace Mainwaring, Kate Sims and Emma Ritchie, came in third place. The Massey University team, consisting of Dylan Hall, Sre Lakshmi Gaythri Rathakrishna, George Hyauiason and Reuben Dods came in second place.

Massey student Sre Lakshmi Gaythri, who’s in her final year of her Agricommerce degree, says this year’s competition was essential for putting her learning into practice.

“It was a great way to challenge ourselves to learn about the structure of the agricultural industry in the US, working on the challenge problem and coming up with solutions all within a short period of time,” says Sre. . . 

Secure water supply offers exciting opportunities in Northland :

The new Kaipara water scheme now underway offers the opportunity to tap into this Northland farm’s horticultural potential. This Te Kopuru property provides a chance to secure an investment in a green field site with secure water access for high value horticulture, offering scale and superior soil types in a highly desired location.

Learn more about how the Te Tai Tokerau water storage project will transform Northland into a horticulture hub for high value crops – www.taitokerauwater.com

Horticultural investors looking beyond the Bay of Plenty for horticultural land with scale and water security can invest in a large Northland property offering excellent growing conditions. . . 


Rural round-up

29/10/2021

Tourism reset would hurt agricultural exporters :

The Government’s proposal to reduce future international tourism visitor numbers post-COVID to concentrate on higher spending visitors may solve one problem but create others.

Research by Lincoln University’s Dr Rob Radics, Dr Muhammad Umar, and Associate Professor Anthony Brien, highlighted that most of our agricultural products delivered fresh to market are transported on passenger planes, and tourists contribute to the cost.

The drop in tourism numbers could push up transport costs to the point some businesses do not export at all and are put out of business.

Their work showed that before COVID-19 hit, there were 550 international flights into and out of New Zealand each week, which carried 80% of New Zealand’s overall export airfreight in their belly-holds, and that it was worth $10.8 billion in December 2019. . . 

A fillip for farmers from Fonterra’s milk-payment forecast – Point of Order:

In    a  timely   boost  to  the  rural regions,  Fonterra has raised its forecast milk payment to farmers for this season to match its previous record high  of  8.45kg/MS, as demand for dairy holds up while supply tightens.

The giant co-operative lifted and narrowed its forecast farmgate milk price range for the 2021/22 season to between $7.90 and $8.90kg/MS from the  initial $7.25 to $8.75  kgMS.

The midpoint of the range on which farmers are paid increased to $8.40 kg/MS, from $8 last  season.  That would match the previous record, paid in the 2013/14 season, and would result in almost $13bn flowing into regional New Zealand.

The  country is heading into its peak milk production period in late spring and output so far is below last season, constrained by poor weather and limits on expansion. Milk production is also soft elsewhere, because  of  poor weather and high feed costs. . . 

Log exports to peak before dropping more than a third within decade – Forsyth Barr – Nona Pelletier:

Major changes are looming for the forestry sector as the deluge of raw log exports fades amid dwindling supplies and demands increase from the building industry and other users.

An industry report by investment house Forsyth Barr suggests the mainstay of the industry, log exports, will peak and then drop by more than a third within a decade.

“Export volumes will peak by 2026 then decline as insufficient planting activity after the 1990s boom means total harvest volumes will fall,” report author and head of research Andy Bowley said.

“The use of wood domestically is undergoing a transformation through the use of trees to sequester carbon, power boilers and as a low carbon building material alternative.” . . 

Primary sector returns strengthen export-led recovery:

Farmers’ hard work in leading New Zealand’s export-led recovery from COVID-19 is being rewarded with high prices forecast for milk and very strong returns for meat, says Trade and Export Growth and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Fonterra announced today a record predicted milk price of $7.90 to $8.90 for the coming season. The mid-point of $8.40 would match the previous record set in 2014. The announcement follows continuing high demand for NZ-grown meat.

“Our farmers and growers have been working hard maintaining their volumes and together, through the COVID response, we’ve been able to keep supply chains ticking and freight links open,” said Damien O’Connor.

“The resilience of all export sectors is vital to our ongoing economic strength. Just as we aim to have diversified export markets, we’re also focussed on growing all our export sectors.” . . 

Pāmu and Westpac NZ agree market- leading sustainability-linked loan :

Westpac NZ and Pāmu have signed New Zealand’s most comprehensive Sustainability-Linked Loan to date, also the largest in the agricultural sector, and the first involving a state-owned enterprise.

Pāmu, also known as Landcorp, is New Zealand’s biggest farming business. It will borrow $85m from Westpac NZ over three years. To incentivise continued improvement in sustainability performance, Pāmu will receive a pricing discount from Westpac NZ if it meets material and ambitious performance targets and pay higher interest costs if it fails to reach them.

It is the first Sustainability-Linked Loan in the agricultural sector to include a 1.5-degree Science-Based emissions reduction target that will be validated against global best practice. . .

Farm 2050 coalition names first five nutrient technology trial startups :

 Finistere Ventures and Innovation Endeavors today revealed the first five companies selected for the Farm2050 Nutrient Technology Trialing Platform, a dual-hemisphere agritech testing and validation platform. The Farm2050 Nutrient Trialing Platform aims to identify, validate and demonstrate at scale promising technologies in nutrient management and water contamination reduction across broad acre crops, horticulture and pasture-based dairy in collaboration with agritech investors, farmers, researchers and startup companies around the globe.

The innovators chosen for the first wave of trials in New Zealand include:

– ClimateAi, which uses AI to tackle climate risk across the food supply chain

– CropX, an established farm management platform with soil sensing and nitrogen monitoring solutions. . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2021

Access barrier for farmer mental health

A new initiative has been launched to improve access to counselling for farmers.

However, the founder of the charity behind it says accessibility is one of the main barriers for farmers seeking mental health assistance.

The Will to Live Charitable Trust’s ‘Rural- Change’ initiative will see farmers jump the sometimes eight-week queue to access three free private counselling sessions.

The initiative was launched in early September and Will to Live founder Elle Perriam told Rural News that they’d already had 15 farmers sign up. . . 

SWAG focused on the long game – Annette Scott:

The group tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool sector out of the doldrums is on track to deliver.

With a 12-month contract and a $3.5 million dollar budget, the Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) is working on leaving a legacy of a more connected and coordinated forward-looking, consumer-focused wool sector, embracing its place within the natural world.

The group is scheduled to sign-off at the end of this year and chair Rob Hewett is confident it is on track to deliver.

“We will make the grade, it’s a long game, but we are positioning sound opportunities to realise and commercialise several projects and who we are going to do this with,” Hewett said. . . 

Double-muscled sheep breed offers meaty gains -Country Life:

Beltex ram lambs are making farmers around the country lick their chops. Known for its heavy hindquarters and excellent kill weights, the breed is the sheep industry’s new kid on the butcher’s block.

A cross of Belgian and Texel sheep, the Beltex is used primarily for mating with ewes to produce lambs for meat.

Blair Gallagher and his son Hamish run New Zealand’s first Beltex stud at the family’s breeding and finishing property near Mount Somers.

Currently lambing’s in full swing on the scenic hill country farm. . . 

New Zealand red meat sector welcomes Chinese Taipei’s CPTPP membership application:

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) welcome Chinese Taipei’s formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ said the CPTPP was founded with a vision for regional agreement that provided for the accession of new members. Chinese Taipei’s application demonstrates the value of the agreement and its relevance to economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Chinese Taipei has been a longstanding and valuable market for New Zealand red meat products. Trade with Chinese Taipei was worth over $314 million in 2020, with trade in beef products worth over $170 million alone. This means that trade has almost doubled since the signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) in 2013.

“Like all other economies wishing to accede to the CPTPP, Chinese Taipei will need to demonstrate its commitment to the high standards contained in the CPTPP, and with a high-quality deal already in place with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei has demonstrated its commitment to trade liberalisation. . . 

Homegrown talent to tackle pesky pests :

Six of New Zealand’s young minds are setting out to revolutionise pest management, helping efforts to eradicate pests, possums, stoats and rats from New Zealand by 2050.

Supported by Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) and $2.4 million in Jobs for Nature funding, the post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers from University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, and University of Otago will be researching topics as diverse as genetics, biocontrol, audio lures, and social licence.

“Our work is certainly ambitious, but is a critical step to secure New Zealand’s biodiversity. Despite decades of valuable and dedicated conservation efforts, step-changes are needed to achieve our goals. And to achieve those step-changes, New Zealand needs new science talent to drive the cutting edge research needed,” says PF2050 Ltd science director Dan Tompkins.

Tompkins says the programme has garnered international attention with regards to whether its goal can be achieved. . .

The future of Fonterra in Australia – Marian Macdonald:

Australian milk might be some of the best in the world but, Fonterra Australia’s managing director says, it’s not New Zealand milk.

The result is that a chunk of the local business is being put up for sale, with strings attached.

In statements this morning, the giant NZ cooperative announced that it was placing “a greater focus on our New Zealand milk”.

Asked what that meant, Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker said Fonterra had made clear choices around New Zealand milk and would be directing capital towards leveraging its provenance. . . 

 


Rural round-up

09/07/2021

Towns rally for a howl of a protest – Neal Wallace:

More than 40 towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill will reverberate to the sounds of tractors and utilities on July 16, as farmers and tradies protest multiple government policies.

Howl of a Protest is organised by pressure group Groundswell NZ, which says it is standing up for farmers, food producers, contractors, tradies and councils against what they claim to be a host of unworkable rules imposed by central government.

Organiser Laurie Paterson cannot say how many people will participate but says interest in the movement and the protest is growing with people frustrated by the deluge of government policy.

“They are sick of the avalanche of unworkable rules being dumped on them and the idea is to make a statement,” Paterson said. . . 

Rural group’s ‘wild conspiracy theories’ criticised

A Southern mayor and Federated Farmers president are alarmed a rural action group is taking advantage of valid concerns to push “wild conspiracy theories”.

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson and Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan attended an Agricultural Action Group (AAG) meeting in Balclutha last Wednesday, which Mr Patterson described as “unsettling and unhelpful”.

About 200 attended.

The former New Zealand First list MP said the content of the meeting conflated “valid concerns” of rural communities about current government policy with “wild conspiracy theories“. . .

Good work ethic goes a long way – Rebecca Greaves:

Hard work and personal drive led Joe McCash to take out the Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition recently. Rebecca Greaves reports.

Demonstrating a high level of personal drive helped Joe McCash over the line in a Hawke’s Bay shepherd competition.

Combined with his experience across multiple farming systems, it set him apart from other competitors to win the Rural Directions Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition.

Joe, 25, has been shepherding at Te Aratipi Station, a sheep and beef farm in the Maraetotara Valley, near Waimarama Beach, in Hawke’s Bay for 18 months.

Employed by Ed and Ro Palmer, Joe is focused on the stock side of the business. “I’d say it’s 90% stock work, all the handling, rotations, general yard work.” . . 

This Raglan couple rolled up their sleeves to transform their 14ha block into a tiny-home retreat – Nadene Hall:

There’s no power, no phone lines, and no cellphone coverage. It’s hilly to steep, mostly covered in trees, and ends at a cliff-face. The grass quality isn’t great, so there’s no point grazing stock, even if its vegetarian owners wanted to.

But this block just southwest of Raglan is a profit-making venture for Tara Wrigley and Guillaume Gignoux, thanks to hard work and a little serendipity.

They run Tiny House Escapes, with three unique accommodation options. There’s the LoveNest, a little cabin at the top of the property surrounded by a pine forest; the LoveBus, a converted bus that sits in a paddock with expansive ocean views; and the Treehouse, one of the most wish-listed places on Airbnb NZ. . .

New scientific officer passionate about solutions to N loss :

Ravensdown has appointed Dr Will Talbot to the newly created position of Scientific Officer, supporting the Chief Scientific Officer Ants Roberts in an ongoing programme of innovative science and technology projects.

Will brings strong soil knowledge to the innovation challenge from his undergraduate agricultural science and post graduate soil science studies as well as lecturing at Lincoln University in soil erosion, cultivation and physical properties.

It was through Ravensdown’s many projects with Lincoln that Will saw first-hand the co-operative’s innovative approach to solving production and environmental challenges simultaneously. . . 

New Zealand horticulture exports resilient in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic:

New Zealand horticulture exports weathered the effects of COVID-19 to reach new heights, climbing to a record-breaking $6.6 billion in the year ending 30 June 2020. This is an increase of $450 million from the previous year, and more than 11% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.

Plant & Food Research and Horticulture New Zealand publish ‘Fresh Facts’ annually to provide key statistics that cover the whole of New Zealand’s horticulture industries. According to latest edition, the value of the total New Zealand horticulture industry exceeded $10 billion for the first time in 2020.

New Zealand horticultural produce was exported to 128 countries in 2020. The top five markets were Continental Europe, Japan, the USA, Australia and China. Exports to Asia were $2.76 billion, 42% of total NZ horticulture exports. . . 

Celebrating primary sector people and innovation :

The Primary Industry New Zealand (PINZ) Awards are all about acknowledging and celebrating teams, individuals and organisations that are leading the way towards a better future through investing in science, innovation and communities.

“We were proud to be a finalist in three out of the seven categories – it’s real recognition of the leadership and innovation across our Ballance team,” says Mark Wynne, Ballance Agri-Nutrients CEO.

“The competition was tough in each category, highlighting the depth of talent and drive within the sector, and making the fact we and Hiringa Energy won the award for Innovation & Collaboration and Surfing for Farmers won the Team award even more fulfilling, knowing we were up against the best of the best.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/06/2021

West Coast mayors call for halt to all SNA work in wake of Far North protests – Lois Williams:

West Coast mayors are calling for a halt to identifying significant natural areas (SNAs) on private land, after suggestions that the process could be paused in the Far North.

An item on TV One news on Friday night cited a leaked e-mail from the office of Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, indicating that councils which had not already mapped SNAs could hold off until the relevant government policy was finalised later this year.

As recently as 31 May, James Shaw’s office told the Greymouth Star in response to a query that there would be no ‘outs’ for councils when it came to identifying SNAs in their districts.

Since then, there have been strong protests from Māori landowners in the Far North who had received council letters alerting them to potential SNAs on their land. . . 

Can we produce high natural value? Conservation and livestock farming co-existing Prof Iain Gordon – Sarah’s Country:

In this week’s Sarah’s Country’s Opinion Maker we break-down the concept of ‘rewilding’ in a New Zealand concept and the value-add product opportunity with Prof. Iain Gordon, Lincoln University & Australian National University. Iain explains:

  • In Southern Europe, desertification of the land saw farming not financially viable and the farmers moved to the cities. Then there was a build up of biomass, vegetation and large wildfires broke out so the government is paying for farmers to go back and manage the land through grazing livestock!

  • If rewilding approach is adopted, then larger areas can be given over to conservation, because of the potential broader benefits to society from these spaces and the engagement of farmers in practises that are closer to their traditions.

  • In the UK rewilding or conservation grazing is seen as ‘public good’ and good environmental management commanding a premium in restaurants. . .

Orchardist to enjoy weekend sleep-ins – Sally Rae:

Wes Reichel will be entitled to a sleep-in this weekend.

For more than 18 years, Mr Reichel (73) has left his bed at 3.30am on a Saturday, had a coffee and climbed into his produce-laden vehicle and headed to the Otago Farmers Market in Dunedin.

But this past Saturday marked the end of an era, as the Teviot Valley orchardist retired from the market.

While he would continue to grow fruit and vegetables at Te Mahanga Orchard, south of Ettrick, which has been in his family since 1919, he rued he was ‘‘getting too bloody old’’ to continue travelling to Dunedin. . .

Growing professionalism driving awareness of health and safety in shearing industry:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Industry campaigns and growing professionalism are driving awareness of health and safety among shearers,” says national FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalist Joseph Watts. Yet, he still sees plenty of room for improvement.

Joseph, from Waipukurau, will represent East Coast in the national competition. He began his rural career as a shearer, having completed a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise degree and then played squash professionally for several years.

He went on to gain a Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies from Massey University and is now a Technical Field Representative for PGG Wrightson as well as farming some beef cattle on a 30 acre site at Waipukurau, with his partner, vet Lucy Dowsett. . . 

The Co-operative spirit helps Temuka farmer:

When Temuka-based farmer Hamish Pearse suffered a devastating fire in his milking shed in February he witnessed first-hand the benefits of the co-operative spirit of his neighbours, friends and Fonterra.

The fire was discovered around eight o’clock at night and also burnt through the adjoining office and wash room.

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.”

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.” . . 

NZ Apples and Pears chief executive to step down:

NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) chairman, Richard Punter, has announced that the organisation’s chief executive Alan Pollard will step down from his role later this year.

Pollard has been in his role for just over nine years. The industry realised about $340m in export earnings when he started as chief executive in March 2012, and about $920m last year, close to the $1billion by 2022 target that was set in 2013.

“As NZAPI defines what business as usual might look like post-COVID, Alan feels that this is the right time for a new leader to bring their own skills, experience and style to the organisation”, Punter said. “We are deeply appreciative of the contribution that Alan has made to the successful growth of the industry and the grower organisation”. . .


Rural round-up

01/05/2021

Canterbury irrigation scheme will hold farmers to account – Adam Burns:

Replacement consent for the Mayfield Hinds Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme was granted after an independent commissioner released a decision last week.

The 10-year consent is subject to a series of conditions, including a 15 percent reduction in nitrogen losses by 2025 and 25 percent by 2030, auditing of farm environment plans, monitoring ground and surface water quality and remediation and response plans.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) can review the consent if improvements are unable to be achieved.

“This consent is granted on the basis that the significant adverse cumulative effects on the receiving environment will be reduced and there will be measurable environmental improvements within the consent term,” the hearing commissioner’s report states. . . 

Research into sheep farmers’ experiences – Annette Scott:

The call is out for New Zealand sheep farmers to help with a research project on the industry’s bioeconomic transition to sustainability.

Lincoln University Masters student Jemma Penelope is preparing to survey sheep farmers across all regions of NZ about their on-farm experiences and challenges as they strive for sustainability.

Penelope, currently undertaking her second Masters, is leading research projects that develop innovative solutions for the agri-food industry.

Having grown up and studied in Canterbury, Penelope then worked abroad in business management and conservation and environmental markets in several countries, including Australia, America and Canada, before realising a place for her back home. . . 

Sheep lead methane research – Richard Rennie:

A mob of low methane sheep are proving it is possible to produce less methane and grow a healthy, productive animal that farmers will want to put into their flock bloodlines in coming years.

For the past decade New Zealand scientists have largely flown below the radar with the work, but are enjoying world leading success in identifying high and low methane emitting sheep. 

The work means today researchers including AgResearch scientists, with the support of farmers through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium  have two flocks of sheep, one high and one low methane emitting, and have established a genomic profile over three breeding generations. 

These provide sheep breeders with useful and accurate data on what their animal’s “methane value” is, relative to its breeding value. . . 

Directors returned to Silver Fern Farms co-operative board:

Rob Hewett, Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited has been re-elected to the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited’s Board of Directors. Gabrielle Thompson, who was a Board Appointed Director, has also been elected to the Co-operative Board by farmer shareholders.

The Board was delighted with the calibre and number of candidates that put themselves for election. Those that were unsuccessful were William Oliver, Simon Davies, Rob Kempthorne and Charles Douglas-Clifford. We thank them for their ongoing commitment to Silver Fern Farms.

The total weighted vote represents 50.59% of total shares, compared to the 62.68% turnout in the previous election in February 2018. . . 

 

Lawson’s Dry Hills wins at the 2021 Cawthorn- Marlborough Environment Awards:

Lawson’s Dry Hills was awarded winner of the wine industry category at the 2021 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards, announced in Blenheim on Friday night.

In February, Lawson’s Dry Hills became a Toitu carbon zero certified organisation making the company the only New Zealand wine producer to be certified with both ISO14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO14064 (carbon zero).

The Awards judges praised Lawson’s Dry Hills for their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Awards Coordinator and Judge, Bev Doole said, “These internationally recognised certifications reflect the culture at Lawson’s to improve and innovate across a wide range of areas, including recyclable and biodegradable packaging, generating solar power and storing water off the winery roof.” . . 

Central Otago’s oldest remaining stone packhouse on the market for sale:

The oldest standing stone packhouse in Central Otago, forming part of a sprawling lifestyle property, is on the market for sale.

Set in the heart of New Zealand’s original stone-fruit growing region, the 8.4-hectare property at 3196 Fruitlands-Roxburgh Road is offered for sale by Bayleys Cromwell for $1,560,000 plus GST (if any).

“The property, affectionately dubbed ‘Stonehouse Gardens’, offers a wonderful blend of home, income, lifestyle and priceless local history,” says Bayleys Cromwell salesperson Renee Anderson, who is marketing the property for sale with colleague Gary Kirk.

“Roxburgh and the Coal Creek area saw the start of stone-fruit cultivation during the 1860s gold rush, when the Tamblyn family first imported stone fruit trees from Australia,” Mr Kirk says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/02/2021

Dairy prices and Fonterra’s re-establishment as a global leader should be celebrated far beyond the cowsheds – Point of Order:

The New Zealand economy, although battered  by the  Covid-19 pandemic, has  moved   into 2021  in  better  shape  than  anyone  might have predicted  just six months ago.

To  a degree  this has been due  to  the  continuing vibrant performance  in the export  sector  particularly  by the  primary industries. This  week  there  was a  fresh surge  of  confidence   within that sector  because of the signal from the big dairy co-op, Fonterra, in lifting its  milk payout  forecast.

Fonterra  now expects to pay farmers between $6.90-$7.50kg/MS. That is up 20c a kg from its previous forecast range of $6.70 -$7.30. . . 

Dairy markets have hit a sweet spot but big challenges remain – Keith Woodford:

Global dairy markets continue to grow despite negative sentiment in some quarters. The Climate Change Commission expects less cows to be balanced by more milk per cow. Man-made ‘udder factories’ are yet to emerge.

The combined effect of the three latest global dairy auctions has been that US-dollar prices for dairy have risen eleven percent since Christmas. A farmgate payment above $NZ7 for each kg of milksolids (MS) of fat plus protein for the dairy year ending in May 2021 now looks close to ‘baked in’.

This means that for a second year, farmgate prices will exceed $7. This will be the first time that prices have stayed above $7 per kgMS for two consecutive years.

It will also mean that five years have passed since the two bad years of 2015 and 2016. The bad years were largely driven by EU internal quota removals and a consequent surge in EU production. . . 

Feds survey shows farmer confidence has bounced back:

Farmer confidence has bounced back to where it was pre-Covid19 but attracting and retaining staff remains a headache, the latest Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Of the nearly 1,100 farmers who completed the Research First survey in the second week of January, a net 5.5% considered current economic conditions to be good. That’s a 34-point jump from the July 2020 survey when a net 28.6% considered them bad, marking the lowest level of farmer confidence in the 12 years the six-monthly survey had been conducted.

“Looking ahead, a net 43.8% expect general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months. That sound a bit grim, but just six months ago 58.7% of survey respondents expected a deteriorating economy,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“I think farmers, like other New Zealanders, are feeling buoyed by the way we’ve handled the pandemic despite the torpedo to international tourism. The agricultural sector is willing and able to maintain production so long as regulatory and other stumbling blocks don’t trip us up.” . . 

Positive attitude asset during lockdown:

A new study* has found a strong ‘can do’ attitude and cooperative spirit in the agricultural industries were significant factors in minimising losses and uncertainties during the COVID restrictions last year in New Zealand and Australia.

Co-authored by Lincoln University’s Dr Lei Cong, with contributors from a number of institutions including AgResearch, The University of Queensland, NZ Institute of Economic Research, and Plant and Food Research, it measures the immediate impacts of COVID-19 control measures to June 2020 on the agri-food systems of Australia and New Zealand and how resilient those systems were.

It found the effects on both countries were broadly similar, and there were relatively minor economic impacts across the surveyed industries.

It stated the high level of ingenuity in the rural communities, both in Australia and New Zealand, was likely a key element of their resilience and capacity to overcome movement restrictions and the disruption of value chains. . . 

Kiwi conservationists count wins in war on wallabies – Nita Blake-Persen:

Pest control experts say they are finally starting to make a dent in New Zealand’s exploding wallaby population, as a battle to stop them destroying native forests rages on.

Checkpoint cameraman Nick Monro and reporter Nita Blake-Persen headed out on a hunt to see how it’s all going.

The government last year allocated $27 million towards culling wallabies as part of its Job for Nature programme.

Among those to receive funding is Dr Tim Day, a pest control expert working in the Bay of Plenty.

Wallaby numbers have been growing in the area in recent times, and Day described them as a “little known villain”. . . 

Scientists have taught spinach to send emails and it could warn us about climate change – Marthe de Ferrer:

It may sound like something out of a futuristic science fiction film, but scientists have managed to engineer spinach plants which are capable of sending emails.

Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.

When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists. . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/10/2020

Rural stakeholders meet over Mackenzie fires – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers and the Forest and Rural Fire Stakeholders Forum are calling for urgent action following two major fires in South Canterbury’s Mackenzie district.

The embers had barely cooled on the most recent, the Ohau fire, before the debate turned to causes and Feds and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage crossed swords on what degree fire fuel loads on Department of Conservation (DOC) land were a factor.

“We definitely need some answers sooner rather than later,” Feds high country chair Rob Stokes said.

At a rural stakeholders meeting, including farming and DOC representatives, Stokes said it was a matter of absolute urgency to start planning now before the next fire. . . 

Ag Uni staff facing job cuts – Colin Williscroft:

Staff cuts at Lincoln University and Massey University’s College of Sciences have raised concerns about the impact they could have on future teaching and research of agricultural and horticultural science.

Earlier this month, Massey science staff received a discussion document that says the college’s expenses urgently need to be cut, with most of its curriculum affected by unsustainably low enrolments as a result of New Zealand’s border closure to overseas students.

The document set out two options to address the situation, with both requiring changes to the curriculum, along with a reduction in staff numbers of around a third – which equates to about 100 jobs. . . .

Shareholders Council review – final report out– Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman James Barron says the council supports the recommendations of a review into its role and functions.

A steering group delivered its final report to the council today.

Barron says the council is committed to actioning the recommendations.

He says councillors will be meeting farmers in their respective wards next month “to get a greater understanding of their views and expectations”. . . 

Don’t fence me in :

Three New Zealand farms are now using electronic cow collars that use sound and vibration to guide and contain individual cows without the need for fences.

The collars are designed by the Kiwi agri-tech company Halter. 

Basil the Friesian cow munches calmly in the paddock.

As she moves there’s a quiet beep emanating from a collar around her neck. . .

Gisborne sheep shorn after five years producing record-breaking fleece :

A Gisborne sheep that evaded capture for five years has finally been shorn, producing a record-breaking fleece.

Gizzy Shrek was shorn at the Poverty Bay A & P show this morning, producing a 13kg fleece, said its owner Rob Faulkner.

“It’s a hell of a lot of wool to carry around.”

It broke the record for the world’s longest fleece, measuring in at 58 centimetres. . .

Women’s work in agriculture set to take leading role – Andrew Marshall:

Women working in agriculture are increasingly likely to be better educated than their male peers and are on course to make up about half of the industry’s managers in 10 years.

More women than men are now studying and graduating from tertiary degrees in agriculture and environment-related courses according to research by the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

The analysis, which covers the entire agribusiness service and production sector, noted a 23 per cent jump in the number of women who completed post school education qualifications in ag-related subjects between 2011 and 2016. . . 


Rural round-up

24/09/2020

What’s going on in Southland? – Peter Burke:

It is hard to fathom exactly what’s going to happen in Southland in light of the impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations.

There is clearly great mistrust on the part of Federated Farmers of Environment Minister David Parker, with Feds provincial vice president Bernadette Hunt saying they can’t get through to him on the issue of winter grazing.

It is no secret that Labour has an equal mistrust of Feds, frequently referring to them as the National Party in gumboots.

Feds see some aspects of the new freshwater regulations as unworkable and in this they are right. Furthermore, they question why such a law was passed with basic errors of fact.

Time to put mental health preparedness into action – Elle Perriam:

Being aware of mental health issues is admirable but sometimes it’s not enough, the founder of Will to Live charity, Elle Perriam says.

“I sort of don’t like to say mental health awareness as much because I think there is a lot of awareness out there – but awareness really means nothing to us unless we put it in to action” Perriam told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Perriam was no stranger to mental health battles herself, founding Will to Live after she lost her partner to suicide in 2017.

She suggested checking in on farmer friends this week and instead of asking them how they’re going – ask them if they’re happy. . . 

Lincoln PhD student receives prestigious Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award :

A Lincoln University PhD student has received this year’s Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award for her work in protecting crops from drought.

Laura Keenan, 28, received the prestigious award at a ceremony at the Kate Sheppard Memorial Wall on Worcester St in Christchurch on Saturday.

Keenan completed an honours degree in Agricultural Science at Lincoln University graduating in 2014. She worked within the area firstly with Soil Matters in Canterbury and then Agricom in Palmerston North before starting her PhD study at Lincoln University in June 2020.

Her PhD is focused on creating a tool that will help with predicting yield and the quality of several plants and herbs included in pasture mixes across New Zealand with the goal of improving drought resilience and feed supply for farmers. . . 

New tech to cut rural energy costs – Annette Scott:

An innovative new player in rural electricity supply has commissioned its first investor-owned solar system on a North Canterbury dairy farm. Solagri Energy Ltd founders share their business journey with Annette Scott.

NEW Zealand dairy farms can now get solar electricity and large-scale battery storage on-farm with zero capital outlay.

Solagri Energy Ltd, a new and innovative player in rural electricity supply, has commissioned its first investor-owned solar array and large-scale lithium ion battery system on a North Canterbury dairy farm.

Co-founders Peter Saunders and Hamish Hutton just happen to be cousins with their business idea stemming around a family campfire. . . 

Challenge to keep pastures resilient – Richard Rennie:

Commercial plant breeders are united in efforts to help deliver New Zealand farmers better options when it comes to selecting for more resilient pastures in years to come.

Head of Barenbrug’s plant breeding team Courtney Inch says the challenge in NZ, being a relatively small market on a global scale, is having enough capital to invest in developing commercially viable pastures for our market.

This is complicated by NZ being a relatively complex pastoral system, with climatic conditions in Southland for example quite dissimilar to those in Waikato, often requiring different feed types for a relatively small pastoral zone.

“But it is to the industry’s credit we are seeing some really good collaborative work being done now in this area of developing more resilient pastures,” he said. . . 

Superfines leading the charge in wool price spikes – Bruce McLeish:

The wool market surprised many participants last week, with a much stronger performance than expected.

While there had been some business done the previous week, and a positive tone was anticipated, it just got better and better as the week progressed.

A total offering across Australia of just under 30,000 bales – which these days is considered ‘on the large side’ – was keenly sought after, particularly at the finer end.

The Kiwi’s added to the total – with 3000 bales offered in Melbourne – and South Africa put up 6500 bales, almost all of which were consumed by a suddenly hungry wool trade. . . 


Rural round-up

17/06/2020

New contest celebrates agripreneurs – Richard Rennie:

GlobalHQ, publisher of Farmers Weekly and Dairy Farmer, is sponsoring B.linc Innovation’s inaugural awards celebrating innovation and technology in the primary sector.

The Celebrating Success Innovation Awards run by the Lincoln University’s Blinc Innovation centre have three sections.

They are for on-farm innovation, off-farm-consumer innovation and a creative innovation-future tech award for secondary school students.

Global HQ co-owner Dean Williamson said the primary sector has had to respond to covid-19 in numerous innovative and nimble ways to continue growing, harvesting and processing primary products. . . 

Te Puke’s golden promise: Harnessing the post-Covid potential of a furry little fruit – Josie Adams:

The Bay of Plenty is synonymous with kiwifruit. With a large contingent of new workers moving in this season from Covid-displaced industries, Josie Adams asked what life is like for those who’ve been there for years.

Under a very heavy tree in Tom French’s orchard waits a very heavy hedgehog. About a metre above the hog the tree has two branches grafted on; golden kiwifruit. This is one of only a few trees with fruit left; the rest have been picked, packed, and put in storage. This fruit is for the family, and for any roaming animal with enough patience. 

French has been in the kiwifruit business for 40 years, and hedging his bets on a 50/50 split between golden kiwifruit and traditional greens has helped him weather some of the industry’s storms.

First planted in the Bay of Plenty in the 1930s, by the 70s and 80s, kiwifruit – formerly known as Chinese gooseberries, and before that monkey peaches – were taking off. French estimates they were selling trays for up to $16. Then, there was a heart-stopping price drop: five competing export companies, combined with a slowdown in demand, meant those same trays were worth only $4. . . 

Fed Farmers boss welcomes environmentalists to Southland – Louisa Steyl:

Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young extended an olive branch to environmentalists by inviting them to see the improvements made to winter grazing conditions in the region.

Young invited Angus Robson, Geoff Reid and Matt Coffey to Southland at the weekend, on behalf of all farmers, after receiving an email from Robson raising concerns about practices on a particular farm.

The three visited the farm, along with two others, on Saturday, and Young said it proved to be a worthwhile day.

“It was quite a robust discussion,” Young said. . . 

Dairy just the job – Samantha Tennent:

A sharp rise in unemployment is on the horizon because of covid-19 but the dairy sector will offer some reprieve. 

DairyNZ is encouraging people to consider work on dairy farms in a new Go Dairy campaign that offers entry-level training to help the transition to farming.

While the Go Dairy career-changers campaign, supported by Federated Farmers, aims to create awareness of the job opportunities there is a big emphasis on ensuring new staff understand what is involved in farm life.

“We want a win-win situation for new dairy farming employees to be happy and fulfilled in their new lifestyle and jobs and for farm employers to have great talent working for them,” DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says. . . 

Bouncing forward :

The kids are back at school, we can once again spend time with small groups of friends and family, and takeaways can offer a night off cooking. Looking back, we dairy farmers were grateful to be essential workers during Covid-19 Levels 3 and 4, with kids able to roam around the farm and help us out!

With glorious Taranaki weather, and the mountain visible from the dining room window most days, our kids were very motivated to get their home learning tasks done by lunch so they could spend the afternoon outside. Riding their motorbikes around the farm improved their riding skills. Going for on-farm runs and bike rides or playing soccer and rugby on the front lawn kept them physically busy.

I took up running and joined the online fitness group ‘Strong Woman’. Now I take time most days to get in a run or a workout. I never felt I had time pre-Covid to focus on my fitness. . . 

Life attracts life’: the Irish farmers filling their fields with bees and butterflies – Ella McSweeney:

Michael Davoren shudders when he thinks of the 1990s. He’d been in charge of his 80-hectare farm in the Burren, Co Clare, since the 1970s, and the place was in his blood. The Davorens had worked these hills for 400 years.

But growing intensification fuelled by European subsidies meant that most farmers in this part of Ireland were having to decide between getting big or getting out. Hundreds were choosing the latter.

Davoren followed the advice to specialise and chase the beef markets. “The more animals I kept, the more money I got,” he says. “I put more cattle out, bought fertiliser, made silage. Slurry run-off was killing fish. But if I kept fewer animals I’d be penalised 10% of my subsidy.” . .

 


Rural round-up

12/06/2020

Experts call for review of regenerative farming ‘mythology’ –  Sally Rae;

Two prominent plant science academics have called for the establishment of an expert panel of scientists to review claims made about regenerative agriculture.

In a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Dr Derrick Moot, a professor of plant science at Lincoln University, and retired senior lecturer Dr Warwick Scott said they were concerned about the “mythology” of regenerative agriculture “and its worrying increased profile in the New Zealand media and farming sectors”.

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers had world-leading agricultural practices and the underpinning scientific principles of the country’s current agricultural systems were in danger of being devalued by a system they believed had several serious shortcomings, they said.

They were particularly concerned the “erroneous publicity” about regenerative agriculture would divert the limited New Zealand agricultural science resources from more important, substantive issues.

To define regenerative agriculture was difficult, the pair said. . . 

Dairy industry needs skilled, willing workers, wherever they’re from – Esther Taunton:

“New Zealand’s dairy industry has a shortage of skilled and willing workers.”

It’s a simple sentence so why does such a large chunk of the non-dairy farming population seem to have a problem understanding the key words – “skilled” and “willing”?

When Stuff ran the story of two South Island farmers desperately trying to get their skilled migrant workers back across our closed borders before the start of calving, it took just minutes for the keyboard warriors to roll out the same tired accusations and arguments.

“Serves them right for choosing migrants over Kiwis!” they cried.

But they didn’t. Not without trying to find Kiwi workers first, anyway. Because even if they didn’t want to employ New Zealanders, farmers have a legal obligation to advertise for local staff before they’re able to start recruiting offshore. . . 

Strong 2019/20 financial result for Zespri helps support regional New Zealand:

2019/20 Financial Results Summary:
• Total Operating revenue: NZ$3.36 billion
• Total fruit sales revenue: NZ$3.14 billion
• Total New Zealand-grown fruit and service payments: $1.96 billion
• New Zealand and Non-New Zealand trays sold: 164.4 million trays
• Zespri’s net profit after tax NZ$200.8 million
• Expected Total Dividends: NZ$0.94

Almost NZ$2 billion was returned to New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry following Zespri’s 2019/20 season, helping support thousands of businesses, workers and regional communities around the country.

Zespri’s 2019/20 Financial Results show total fruit and service payments, which are returns direct to the New Zealand industry, increased by 8 percent year on year to NZ$1.96 billion. . . 

Meating’ the need:

While COVID-19 lockdown rules have now been eased, many New Zealand foodbanks remain under huge pressure as breadwinners lose their jobs and savings run dry.

To help keep up with this demand and to provide something a bit different from the regular food box items, a charity set up by farmers is connecting donated produce from farmers with processors and foodbanks.

‘Meat The Need’ was founded by South Island farmers Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley. Since it started in mid-April, meat from more than 200 animals, including cattle, sheep and deer, has been donated to food banks around the South Island, enough for a staggering 90,000 meals for vulnerable families! . . 

Expos aimed at creating win-win – Tracey Roxburgh:

A Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) initiative is hoping to create a win-win from the Covid-19 economic crisis.

The SIT is holding two Agricultural Redeployment Expos, one each in Queenstown and Te Anau, this week, hoping to attract people who may have lost jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector to retrain in the agricultural sector, which is facing a shortage of about 150 skilled machinery operators this year.

Annually, the agriculture sector has sought fill those roles with workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, in particular, but given border closures this year due to the global pandemic, that will not be possible. . . 

Native plants sequester carbon for longer – Marc Daalder:

A new study indicates native plants, despite their tendency to grow more slowly than exotic species like Pinus Radiata, are better at storing carbon in the soil for longer periods of time, Marc Daalder reports

Exotic plant species release 150 percent more carbon dioxide from the soil than native New Zealand plants, according to a new study from the Bio-Protection Research Centre published in Science.

The research is the latest development in an extended scientific debate over whether to prioritise planting native or exotic species to increase biodiversity and fight climate change.

While it doesn’t upset the longstanding scientific consensus that faster-growing plants sequester more carbon – and that exotic species planted outside their usual range will grow faster – the study does complicate the picture of the carbon cycle. . . 

Time for EU to commit to level playing field for trade:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU.

Details leaked ahead of the 8th round of EU-NZ FTA negotiations have revealed the EU is seeking to maintain an extreme level of market access restriction against New Zealand dairy exports. The leaked EU market access offer comes despite both parties having committed to ‘work towards a deep, comprehensive, and high-quality Free Trade Agreement’.

DCANZ Chairman, Malcolm Bailey, says the reported EU offer, comprised of miniscule quota volumes and high in-quota tariffs, could never credibly form part of a free trade agreement between the economies. . . 


Rural round-up

21/04/2020

Our greatest opportunity – Penny Clark-Hall:

After 10 or so years of a society dislocating itself, with the farming community being challenged to meet the evolving values of its urban counterparts, we have been given a gift. A chance to reconnect.

We’ve been bemoaning the fact that no one wants to listen to the good stories for years. Who would have thought it would take a global pandemic to give us a window to be able to have that voice again? It seems bad taste to be observing silver linings and opportunities whilst so many are suffering however, an opportunity to connect and support our country can only be a positive for everyone in my books. The primary sector’s social licence and our economy depends on it.  . .

Sector wants deal on reforms – Neal Wallace and Colin Williscroft:

Primary sector leaders have been in discussions with the Government to try to reach a consensus on freshwater reforms.

The 11-member Food and Fibre Leaders’ Forum, which represents the primary sector, is adopting a similar approach to last year’s accord on reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and for several months has had regular meetings with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and senior Cabinet ministers.

The Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms have been temporarily stalled by covid-19 with Environment Minister David Parker saying dealing with the crisis necessitates the reconsideration of priorities and timing. . .

Wanna job? We’ve got it – Annette Scott:

Primary industries face a serious staff recruitment pinch of grave concern to AgStaff director Matt Jones.

The impact of covid-19 is alredy starting to bite and with hundreds of vacancies on his books it’s only going to get worse over the next year, Jones said.

Through his employment businesses Jones recruits staff for jobs from farm and agricultural contracting and food processing to seasonal staff and quality assurance experts, many coming from around the globe to work in New Zealand.  . . 

Are pine trees killing kauri?

A new study suggests that kauri dieback disease may be connected to the lack of protective fungi in plantation pine forest soil.

Published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology, the study, by Bio-Protection Research Centre PhD candidate Alexa Byers and others, looked at the differences in the bacteria and fungi living in the soil of kauri forest and surrounding pine plantations in the Waipoua area. It found soil in the pine forest’s neighbouring kauri forests lacked several species of fungi and bacteria that protect plants, promote growth, and improve their health (for example Trichoderma and Pseudomonas).

“The loss of core microbiota from native soil microbial communities… surrounding remnant kauri fragments could be altering the forest’s ability to respond to pathogen invasion,” Ms Byers wrote. . . 

Energy farm to trial zero carbon solutions – Nigel Malthus:

Lincoln University has unveiled plans for what is expected to be a globally-unique Energy Demonstration Farm to help the primary sector meet its future zero-carbon obligations.

The farm is designed to be fossil fuel-free and feature solar and wind power, bio-fuel, and energy storage solutions while showcasing the range of technology available and how it can be applied, as well as providing data for research and innovation.

Project leaders Dr Wim de Koning and Dr Jeff Heyl say the farm would allow the University and their research partners to make mistakes, so farmers won’t have to.

Fury of British farmers as public sector caterers vow to cut meat served ins cools, hospitals, universities and care homes by 20 percent to improve diets and help environment – Jack Wright:

  • British farmers are furious at public sector caterers vowing to cut red meat servings in schools, hospitals, and care homes by 20 per cent
  • NFU board member Richard Findlay described move as ‘frankly ridiculous’
  • He called #20percentless a ‘misguided project’ that is ‘wholly inaccurate’
  • The aim is to cut greenhouse gases linked to livestock and boost public health
  • Hitting the target would remove nearly 20million lb of meat every year in the UK . . .

Rural round-up

20/11/2019

Small dog helping with big message – Sally Rae:

Poppy might be a miniature dachshund but the message the diminutive dog is helping spread is a big one.

Poppy is the constant companion of Harriet Bremner, a North Canterbury-based teacher-turned-author who is focused on making the most out of life.

Miss Bremner’s partner, James “Bob” Hayman, was killed in a farm machinery accident in the Hakataramea Valley in January 2017.

Following his death, she launched the brand Gurt and Pops and released her first children’s book Bob `n Pops, which was a tale of the special relationship between Mr Hayman and the couple’s dog Poppy. . . 

How banks peddled a product that killed farmers – Nikki Mandow:

The disastrous impact of banks selling risky financial derivatives to farmers is still being felt in rural communities more than a decade later. How did it happen and how can we stop banks doing it again?

Rural advocate Janette Walker has a storage box at her house. She calls it her “suicide box”. In it are letters from farmers – mostly men, mostly in late middle age – who tell her about the impact on their lives of the events surrounding the global financial crisis (GFC) back in 2007-2008. 

The letters came to Walker as part of a research project she worked on in 2010 with Massey University banking specialist Dr Claire Matthews. . . 

Spooked insurers walking away from agriculture – Ean Higgins:

Farmers face potential ruin as insurers spooked by climate change, drought and bushfires ­refuse to cover crops worth billions of dollars.

Plantation crops such as ­bananas and pineapples, some of which were destroyed in the latest Queensland bushfires, could be the next to be uninsurable, a ­report published on Monday by global insurance broker Gallagher warns.

“Plantation insurance will be one of the first casualties of climate change,” the report says. Other crops including grapes, citrus and almonds could be not far behind, with insurers pulling cover altogether or raising premiums to the point where they become unaffordable for most growers. . .

Research to help rural health – Pam Jones:

A Central Otago health professional hopes her upcoming research will help address some of the inequities faced in the rural health sector. Pam Jones talks to Sarah Walker about a national fellowship she has received that will help her look into the challenges and complexities faced by rural allied health professionals.

A Central Otago physiotherapist will notch up a national first following health research she hopes will help all rural communities.

Sarah Walker has just been named a recipient of a Health Research Council of New Zealand Clinical Research Training Fellowship.

The $204,000 fellowship will allow Mrs Walker, who is a physiotherapist for Central Otago Health Services (Cohsl), which operates from Dunstan Hospital, to begin a doctorate at the University of Otago next year. . . 

Who should take up the challenge? – Gravedodger:

Many people who spend their time in cities with occasional trips to popular places for relief, often  have little idea how much of NZ landscape is bereft of communications as they have evolved to in the closing second decade of century 21.

We store our mobile home around five Kms from the northern end of CHC main runway. A site we used as a “Town House ” during our time in Akaroa.
It has zero access to the Spark network and is marginal for Vodafone.

We also have a site at a small camp just south of the two bridges that cross the Rakaia where it emerges from its gorge. That site has even more precarious phone links and our site has a luvly old Cabbage Tree,  ‘ti kouka’,   that completely blocks line of site to Optus. . .

ClearTech a gamechanger for Canterbury dairy farmer:

A revolutionary dairy effluent treatment system is delivering enormous environmental benefits for Lincoln dairy farmer Tom Mason.

Ravensdown’s ClearTech system, developed in conjunction with Lincoln University, uses a coagulant to bind effluent particles together to settle them out from the water. This clarifying process reduces freshwater use, helps existing effluent storage go further and reduces the environmental and safety risks linked with farm dairy effluent (FDE). . .


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