Rural round-up

October 8, 2015

Key sectors welcome TPP – Colin Bettles:

SUGAR may have been served a bitter-sweet outcome in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership but other key Australian commodities like beef, grains, dairy and cotton have tasted some success.

The Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) said the TPP deal – signed overnight by Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb – would provide significant increased market opportunities for Australian grassfed beef producers, when it comes into force.

Game changer for beef

CCA president Howard Smith said the agreement signifies a game changing opportunity for the Australian beef industry which sees a positive future fort itself, in export markets. . . 

Rolleston wants GM use debate – Richard Rennie:

Councils’ efforts to ban genetically modified crops have Federated Farmers banging up against public opinion in some rural districts.

But federation president Dr William Rolleston argues the move to ban GM crops threatens farmers’ ability to innovate and is a choice they might lose through misinformation and misunderstandings about what the science is really about.

The federation’s case against council bans on GM use got a severe bruising when they lost on appeal to the Environment Court earlier this year. . . 

Milk price expected to hit $3000/t this year – Jemma Brackebush:

Banks and analysts are predicting international dairy prices will continue to rise, and a lift in Fonterra’s forecast payout looks likely.

Prices in the global dairy trade auction rose for the fourth consecutive time on Tuesday night.

The price for the key commodity, whole milk powder, which underpins the price Fonterra pays its farmers, increased by 12.9 percent to $US2,824 a tonne. . . 

Record jail sentence for animal abuser Michael Whitelock:

A dairy worker has been handed what is believed to be New Zealand’s longest-ever prison sentence for animal cruelty, after cows were beaten, had their tails broken and were shot in the kneecaps on a farm he managed.

Michael James Whitelock was sentenced in the Greymouth District Court on Wednesday to four and a half years jail and banned from owning animals for 10 years.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including ill treatment of animals, unlawful possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice. . . 

Farmer suicides up – Jemma Brackebush:

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show 27 men in farming communities committed suicide in the past year ended June.

The chief coroner Deborah Marshall released annual provisional suicide statistics on Tuesday, which showed 564 people died by suicide in the past year, up 35 on the previous year and the highest number since records began eight years ago.

Male suicides rose from 385 last year to 428, and female suicides dropped from 144 to 136. . . 

Banks fork out a total $25.5M over rural interest rate swaps – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission has completed the distribution of $25.5 million to complainants and rural charities after reaching settlements with banks who had marketed interest rate swap products to farmers.

The commission says nearly $20 million in cash has been paid to eligible customers while $1.9 million was offset by the banks against debts some complainants owed to them. A further $2.5 million went to 14 regional Rural Support Trusts and the Dairy Women’s Network and the commission received $1 million to cover a portion of its investigation costs, including legal expenses. The bulk of the money came from the ANZ Bank New Zealand, which paid out $19.3 million in total, $3.2 million from ASB Bank and $3 million from Westpac Banking Corp. . . .

All Geared Up For The Glammies:

Entries are now open for the 2016 Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, which seeks out the tastiest and tender lamb in New Zealand.

The competition gives farmers the opportunity to enter their lamb into one of the most highly regarded competitions the industry has to offer.

The entries are then assessed by Carne Technologies in Cambridge for tenderness, yield, succulence and colour.

The scientific testing determines which top four entries from five categories will make it through to the final stage of the competition, a taste test, held at the Upper Clutha A&P show in Wanaka on 11 March 2016. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock to Sponsor New Race in China:

New Zealand Bloodstock and the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry Co. Ltd have partnered together to introduce the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup to be held in Inner Mongolia, China next year.

2015 RTR
The race is open to horses purchased by any Chinese buyer at this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale in November. To be held in July 2016 at Korchin, Inner Mongolia, the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup is worth RMB500,000 and will be run over 1800m.

NZB’s Co-Managing Director Andrew Seabrook is excited about the formal partnership reached between NZB and Rider Horse Group. . . 

Serious savings from whole-farm soil testing:

Whole-farm soil testing saves Taranaki farmer Hayden Lawrence about $15,000 on fertiliser each year.

Hayden, who farms in equity partnership with his wife Alecia and parents in Taranaki, began whole-farm soil testing seven years ago. To date, he has reaped about $90,000 in savings and has increased pasture production from 14.5 tonnes per hectare to 18.6T/ha on the 97ha property.

The Lawrences milk a maximum of 240 cows on an 85ha milking platform, using their hill country block to graze heifers. They also follow an 18-month cropping rotation, that sees paddocks planted into silage, oats, chicory and then into pasture. . . .

RHĀNZ welcomes Government’s new rural connectivity target:

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the new rural connectivity target announced by the Government today.

The target means nearly all rural New Zealanders will be able to access broadband speeds of at least 50Mbps by 2025.

RHĀNZ Chairperson, Dr Jo Scott-Jones, says securing reliable and affordable telecommunications services is critical to the health and wellbeing of rural communities and is a top priority for all 40 RHĀNZ members.

“As part of our RBI phase 2 submission to Government earlier this year, we called for more ambitious targets for rural broadband speeds, so it is really pleasing to hear Minister Adams’s announcement today,” he says. . . 

Anglers urged to vote ‘in best interests of our fishing and hunting resources’:

The country’s anglers and game bird hunters are being reminded to make sure they vote in the Fish and Game Council elections.

Fish & Game Communications Manager Don Rood says that because voting closes at 5pm on Friday (9 October), those who are eligible and haven’t voted are advised to do so online, rather put voting papers in the post.

“We urge licenceholders to take the time to vote – to exercise their right to choose the people who can best advance their local region’s hunting and fishing interests. . . 

Free entry for 2016 Games:

The second annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games takes place in Queenstown next Waitangi weekend (Sat 6th – Sun 7th Feb) and entry won’t cost you a cent.

Two days of ‘sports that built the nation’ and live entertainment on the Recreation Ground plus the Running of the Wools – more than 400 merino sheep herding through downtown Queenstown – will be completely free to watch.

We’ve been able to waive ticket prices thanks to the generous support of our patrons and event partners including major sponsors Toyota, Fonterra, Line 7, Ngai Tahu Farming, Jetstar and Husqvarna which has increased its support from the inaugural Games.

The Running of the Wools is once again supported by our friends at clothing and gift retailer, Global Culture. . . 


Rural Games to be annual event

February 9, 2015

Take a man with vision and the determination to showcase the sports that built a nation; add the Topp Twins, three former All Blacks and hundreds of elite rural sportspeople, mix them in a variety of competitive endeavours in Queenstown under blue skies and sunshine and what do you get?

The inaugural New Zealand Rural Games which were so successful it is to be an annual event:

Organisers of the first ever Hilux New Zealand Rural Games confirmed it will become an annual event after attracting more than 7,500 spectators to Queenstown over the Waitangi holiday weekend.

An estimated crowd of 5,000 people lined the downtown streets on Waitangi Day to watch around 400 locally-bred merino sheep pass by in the Running of the Wools. The free event, co-sponsored by the Otago Daily Times and clothing and gift retailer, Global Culture, proved the perfect curtain raiser for the next two days of traditional sports and live entertainment staged on Queenstown Recreation Ground.

Snow on the mountains around Lake Wakatipu after storms earlier in the week quickly melted as the sun ensured a warm and sunny atmosphere for competitors and spectators alike.

Billed as a showcase for ‘sports that built the nation’, nearly 200 competitors took part in 13 national and trans-Tasman championships including sheep dog trials, coal shovelling, wood chopping, speed shearing, speed fencing and gumboot throwing plus the Wild Buck Challenge taking place in the beer tent.

Spectators were entertained on both days by roving MCs, musical comedy duo the Topp Twins, plus three former All Blacks in Jeff Wilson, Justin Marshall and Toyota ambassador, Marc Ellis who competed with and against each other in several events over the weekend.

Day one highlights included the North Island taking out the NZ Inter-Island Challenge Sheep Dog Trials in association with Ngai Tahu Farming while former NZ strongman champion and national Highland Games number two, Reuben de Jong winning the NZ Rural Highland Games ‘Heavies’ trophy. The overall title of this new addition to the NZ Highland Games calendar, presented in association with PlaceMakers, was decided over the four traditional events of caber toss, stones lift, farmer’s walk and heavy stone toss.

The ANZAXE Trans Tasman Wood Chopping Championship pitched the four top-ranked Aussies – Jamie Head, Laurence O’Toole, Brent Rees and Brayden Myer – against New Zealand’s reigning world champion team of Shane Jordan, Jason Wynyard, Adam Lowe and Kyle Lemon.

Queenslander, Jamie Head took the overall trophy from Kiwis Shane Jordan (second) and Jason Wynyard (third), while the home team won the team event.

Australia had more individual success in the New Zealand championships for coal shovelling on Saturday and cherry stone spitting on Sunday. The reigning Australian champions in each sport, Stuart Turner from New South Wales and Clint Thompson from WA respectively, will take the titles back across the Ditch with them.

Elsewhere on Sunday, the NZ Wine Barrel Racing Championship attracted a global field including entrants from North America, Europe and Asia as well as home grown talent. Eventual men’s winner, Csaba Szondi was visiting from Hungary.

In the throwing events, 10-year-old Adam Stevens from Invercargill won the Bill Tapley Trophy for cow pat tossing held as part of Jetstar Kids ‘n Country, a series of fun events for the under-12s.

Interviewed after his victory he revealed the secret of his success: “I chose a nice tight turd and threw it as far as I could.”

After speed competitions for hand milking in association with Fonterra (featuring a pair of specially adapted fibreglass cows), tree climbing, fencing (in association with Line 7) and gold panning there was victory for five-time world shearing champion, David Fagan in the NZ Speed Shear Championship in association with Toyota Hilux. The veteran from Te Kuiti will retire from competition in April at the end of the current New Zealand season.

In the Games’ penultimate event, an excited crowd witnessed a new national record for egg throwing and catching of 61.7m recorded by Justin Marshall (throwing) and Jeff Wilson (catching). Then the first NZ Gumboot Throwing Championship, in association with Skellerup, saw both men and women’s North Island teams (selected during last year’s Taihape Gumboot Day) win against South Island teams that qualified through Saturday’s regional champs.

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games founder and trustee, Steve Hollander was delighted with how the event turned out.

“What a weekend! We’re all taken aback by the New Zealand public’s enthusiasm for rural sports some of which have all but died out as spectator events. That’s our vision – to preserve the legacy of traditional sports for future generations, bringing them to the attention of the wider population and ensuring this country’s rural spirit is celebrated for many years to come,” he said.

“Huge thanks for everyone who competed and came along to make the event such a success, as well as our amazing volunteers and event crew. We’re already planning for next year so see you in Queenstown on Waitangi weekend 2016.”

Sky Sports will be showing an hour-long highlights programme of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at 6.30pm on Friday 13 February.

TV3’s coverage of the Games is here.

TV1’s coverage is here.

Steve Hollander has been working on the concept for about five years.

I became chair of the Games Trust late last year after most of the hard work had been done.

The last three days were a very good reflection on Steve’s drive and determination and the work he and his team had put in to dotting is and crossing ts.

Competition was fierce and competitors and spectators were treated to a weekend of excitement and entertainment.


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