Rural round-up


Huge potential in textile blend – Annette Scott:

A new wool and rice straw blended textile will create huge opportunities for New Zealand wool, Wellington designer Bernadette Casey says.

The new eco-blend upholstery fabric has been developed by Wellington textile design and development company The Formary, co-founded four years ago by managing director Casey and Gisborne designer Sally Shanks.

The fabric will go into production in the next three months.

A visit in December to the top 10 North American furniture makers and distributors to present samples and start building interest boosted their confidence for the new textile.

“There is a huge shift happening away from synthetics to the more sustainable virgin yarns and textiles,” Casey said. . .

Milk collection up on last season and rising – Hugh Stringleman:

The favourable influences of regular rain and good pasture growth should show in the milk figures when compared with last year’s widespread late-summer and autumn drought.

Daily collection figures last week for six of Fonterra’s eight regional zones were 4-8% higher than last January, which illustrates how quickly milk production fell away last season.

While no one is predicting yet a repeat of the bumper autumn of 2012, rain patterns and soil-moisture figures promise a strong finish to the season for the majority of dairy farmers.

Farmers have a powerful incentive in the $8.30 a kilogram milksolids payout forecast to maximise production and prolong milking with supplementary feed if needed. . .

People management key for farm expansion – Lisa Deeney:

UK farmer Ed Dale spoke at today’s Positive Farming conference on the importance of people management for farm enterprises in the run up to the abolition of dairy quotas in 2015.

From Cheshire, his family’s farm business has over the past 10 years expanded from managing 220 cows in one herd with one employee to managing 2,000 cows in six herds over a 45-mile radius. He now has 14 full-time employees and 15 part-time.

In terms of advice for people management, he said it was vital to start with the right people. . .

Irish wasp may need help moving west:

Increasing clover root weevil populations are being seen on the West Coast, but the AgResearch-introduced biocontrol is hot on its tail.

Clover root weevil being stalked by its biocontrol agent

AgResearch entomologists Dr Scott Hardwick and Mark McNeill, based at the Lincoln Campus in Canterbury, have been tracking the spread of clover root weevil (CRW) in the South Island, so that they know if and where to release the Irish wasp, a very effective biocontrol agent for this serious pest of white clover.

Sampling last winter and early spring for the DairyNZ-funded biocontrol project has revealed that the weevil is now present through much of the northern parts of the West Coast. AgResearch is now asking southern West Coast farmers who suspect they may have the weevil to get in touch, so they can be sure the wasp keeps apace of the problem. . . 

Comparison of NZ and Australian red meat export markets – Allan Barber:

A cursory analysis of beef and lamb exports from New Zealand and Australia shows some similarities as well as some significant differences between them.

Some of these variations are due to quota constraints, notably New Zealand’s historical access to the EU for lamb, others to product type, such as Australia’s beef exports to North Asia and the growing influence of dairy beef in this country.

Australia exports roughly three times as much beef as New Zealand, although the US market takes comparable volumes of beef from both countries, 212, 000 MT versus 175,000 MT in the latest 12 months for which statistics are available. However a far higher proportion of our exports is in grinding beef for the hamburger trade. . .

The felfie: how farmers are embracing social media

Farmers are posting their ‘felfies’ online, but it’s not just for fun – social media is a lifeline for people in a lonely profession.

Pouting at a camera isn’t the preserve of trendy young urbanites. The “felfie” – or selfie snapped on the farm – is taking off, with farmers posting photos of themselves next to their favourite sheep, cow or tractor., a blog set up by Essex farmer @willwilson100, collects the latest felfies from around the world – showcasing rural working lives everywhere from Finland to Argentina. . .

Apprentice Chef’s Foodie Adventure Thanks to Fonterra:

Fonterra Foodservice, in partnership with William Angliss Institute, held the inaugural Fonterra Foodies Adventure Competition at the William Angliss Open Day 2013. The competition was designed to provide the Institute’s Level 3 Professional Cookery Apprentices with an opportunity to cook with Fonterra dairy products while presenting a main and dessert to a panel of four judges.

Matthew Moffat, a third year apprentice from the Society Restaurant in Melbourne, was named winner of the event.

Matthew won a five day, culinary immersion tour of New Zealand, visiting dairy farms, Fonterra factories and working at two award winning restaurants in Auckland, The Grove and The French Cafe.

Matthew’s main recipe was a “Good ol’ Caesar salad”, a recreation of a classic dish using modern methods. . .

Rural round-up


If it’s hotter or cooler we need to store water – Bruce Wills:

Since it’s healthy to push yourself each New Year I like to start with a brand new experience.  For me, that was filing a farming music video for Young Country magazine.  A video set to music may be a unique way to tell my story to younger farmers but it was fun doing it at a busy time on-farm.  Admittedly, I do not think NZ on Air funding will be in the mail.

This year means I am in my final seven months as the President of Federated Farmers and I genuinely hope this column will continue with my successor.  That person will be elected in early July, after Federated Farmers provinces and industry groups assemble in Palmerston North for our National Conference. 

Looking back, 2011 seems a world away when I undertook my first political interview on TV One’s Q+A.  It was with Massey University’s Dr Mike Joy and was hosted by the late Sir Paul Holmes. The subject was water quality and our dairy industry and in the minds of some people that has not changed.  The perception of what we do is yet to catch up to the realities of modern farming. 

When you’ve got older farmers, the sort that the Topp Twins satirise so well, actively swapping notes on riparian plantings then you know there’s been a shift in culture. . .

Water storage becomes vital in changing climate – James Houghton:

Now most of you will be back from a well-rested break, having indulged yourselves silly and feeling a little guilty perhaps? Well just thought you might like to know, like most farmers, I have been kept busy as farming is a 365-day-a-year job. Thankfully, summer has been kind to us so far and the ever-increasing threat of drought has been kept at bay.

Looking to the year ahead, I am hoping we will see an improvement in people and organisations being accountable for their actions and learning from their mistakes. Last year, we saw some disappointing performances in the biosecurity area and animal welfare. We also seem to be struggling with the ever-increasing reality that we need a reliable source of water to maintain a sustainable primary industry and our economic independence. When corporates make a mistake, they need to do what is right and not solely focus on the dollar.

My hope is that we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we don’t, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debates paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

‘Milk price outlook, the unforeseen risk of the US’ – Lisa Deeney:

“The huge increase in supplies of natural gas and oil in the US and Canada will probably pose a strong risk to future Irish milk price by enabling US milk producers to be competitive at lower prices than before.”

This is according to Cork-based dairy farmer and businessman Mike Murphy, who has interests in America, New Zealand and Chile, and an organiser of Positive Farmers’ dairy conference taking place in Clonmel, Tipperary today.

“Be aware to this risk. Farmers who borrow heavily based on current milk price may be in for a very rough time. Be a little conservative on milk price forecasts,” he cautioned to the packed attendance of more than 475 people. . .

Fonterra cream E.coli recall proves safety system ‘works’: Federated Farmers – Mark Astley

Fonterra’s decision to recall 8,700 bottles of potentially E.coli-contaminated fresh cream proves only that the cooperative’s “quality assurance system works,” New Zealand dairy farmer representative, Federated Farmers, has claimed. . .

Brown fat measurement could offer key to improving lamb survival:

Not all fats are created equal, and work by AgResearch is looking into how this knowledge can help reduce lamb deaths.

In good conditions mortality of twins and triplets is below 10% and 20% respectively, but in poor weather conditions it can be much more. Many of these deaths occur in the first three days of life, often because the lamb is unable to generate enough body heat to keep warm during periods of extreme weather.

Immediately after birth and until they get a feed, lambs have only one main way to regulate and maintain their body temperature: burn ‘brown fat’ to generate heat. . .

Irrigation scheme gets chief -Marta Steeman:

The company developing the $400 million Hurunui irrigation scheme has appointed a permanent chief executive to steer the company through the nitty gritty of design and development.

Hurunui Water Project Limited announced this week Alex Adams would take the helm on March 10.

The appointment follows the company being awarded its most critical consent – permission to take water from the Waitohi River – in August last year.

Hurunui Water Project proposes to develop four water storage dams on the Waitohi River to irrigate just under 60,000 hectares. . .

WCB slams MG’s ‘super co-op’ plan – Jared Lynch:

WARRNAMBOOL Cheese and Butter (WCB) has attacked Murray Goulburn’s takeover bid, saying any further consolidation of Australia’s dairy industry will hurt exports.

Murray Goulburn, Australia’s biggest dairy company, has argued that if it acquired WCB it would create a ”super co-operative”, giving Australia the scale necessary to compete globally.

But in a submission to the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT), WCB dismissed that claim.

”There is a risk that further ­consolidation of Australian dairy exporting companies could have a negative effect on Australian dairy exports,” WCB said. . . .

LePage signs bill to label genetically modified food – Steve Mistler:

Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill that would require food producers to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The law makes Maine the second state in the country to pass such a measure. However, other states must adopt similar legislation before Maine’s labeling provision goes into effect.

The governor promised last year to sign the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington. His signature is symbolic because legislative rules don’t allow the law to go into effect until the Legislature adjourns later this year. However, supporters of the bill hailed the law’s eventual passage as a victory for advocates of laws mandating the labeling of genetically modified foods. Such proposals have been introduced in nearly 30 states as part of a national effort to compel Congress to enact a comprehensive labeling law. . .

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