Rural round-up

24/07/2021

How real is the rural-urban divide? – Laura Walters:

If New Zealand is going to move towards a more sustainable primary sector, then media, politicians and fringe groups need to stop stoking division, writes Laura Walters.

Last week thousands of farmers descended on towns and cities across the country for the so-called Howl of Protest, a demonstration against government policies that farmers say are severely damaging the rural sector. The Southland town of Gore was gridlocked with 600 tractors, 1200 utes, and about 50 truck and trailer units. Overhead, four helicopters and a plane got in on the action. Similar scenes played out all over New Zealand. A resident of one provincial city described it as “the best Santa Parade, ever”.

To some onlookers, the protests would seem illustrative of a rural sector that is resistant to change, a far cry from the sorts of innovative, sustainable ideas – a whiskey distillery on a sheep and beef farm, for example, or an organic co-op with a reduced environmental footprint – that are celebrated on the likes of Country Calendar.

Ahead of the Howl of Protest, many left-wing politicians, farming industry bodies and even portions of the rural community itself predicted the protests would be dominated by this staunchly conservative rural minority. In anticipation of division and backlash, they distanced themselves from the protests. . .

Let’s get the real picture! – Dairy News:

 Just as Southland farmers were receiving praise from local authorities on their improved winter grazing practices, new photos surfaced of cows knee-deep in mud.

While there is debate about the authenticity of the latest photos, reportedly taken by environmental activist Geoff Reid, the truth remains that not all farmers are following winter grazing rules to the fullest.

Sadly, it is this small group of farmers who are trashing the reputation of hundreds of others doing the right thing.

Such farmers are only providing ammunition to activists roaming dairy paddocks with cameras and drones hoping to find distressed cows lying in mud and reigniting the debate on banning winter grazing practices. . .

African Swine Fever in Germany raises fears in New Zealand herds

There’s alarm in New Zealand’s pork industry following the discovery of the devastating pig disease, African Swine Fever, in Germany’s commercial pig farms.

The disease forced China, the world’s largest pig producer, to cull about half its herd after an outbreak two years ago.

NZ Pork chief executive David Baines said Germany now found the disease had gone from its wild herds into commercial farms.

Germany is the EU’s largest pork exporter, with product coming to New Zealand. . . 

A win-win deal for consumers and farmers – Annette Scott:

Thousands more Kiwi homes will be carpeted in wool following a landmark agreement between Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) and leading retailer Flooring Xtra.

Other independent retail stores are also in the partnership mix with WNZ in its bid to get affordable wool carpets into NZ homes.

Starting this month, WNZ will manufacture and supply wool carpet to Flooring Xtra’s 61 stores and independent flooring retailers across NZ.

Priced competitively compared with synthetic carpets, means New Zealanders have a genuine choice between a synthetic product or a natural product direct from WNZ’s 730 farmer-grower shareholders, WNZ chief executive John McWhirter says. . . 

LIC annual results: Farmers investing in high value genetics to help meet sector’s climate goals:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2021, reporting increased revenue, profit and a strong balance sheet with no debt at year end.

The farmer-owned co-operative will return $17.8 million in dividend to shareholders, which equates to 12.51 cents per share. The fully imputed dividend represents a 14.4% gross yield based on the current share price of $1.21. The dividend will be distributed on 20 August.

“The LIC Board is proud to present another strong result to our farmer shareholders for the fourth consecutive year,” said Murray King, LIC Board Chair.

“This result is in line with our market guidance and a credit to our shareholders for their support of significant initiatives in the last five years to transform LIC into a modern, progressive co-op. These initiatives have delivered the benefits we said they would, including focussed investment in the business and a better return for our farmers. . .

It is time to tell the truth about whole milk – Arden Tewksbury

I recently had a conversation with one of our member dairy farmers who has been a patient in at least two different hospitals. At one of those hospital, he asked for whole milk with his lunch. He was told that milk “ is not good for you.” He asked to see the dietician who met with him and told him milk is not good for you.

Several weeks later, this farmer was admitted into a second hospital and again, at lunch, he asked for whole milk. He got the same reply, “I am sorry, milk is not good for you.”

So this time he asked to speak to the hospital’s top dietician who claimed that milk was not good because “it is 100% fat!” He told her that you would need a knife and fork to eat it because it would be hard cheese.

Most hospitals and their personnel provide good service to their patients, but their dieticians know very little regarding the value of milk. The whole milk we buy in the store has only a 3.25% fat content.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/06/2021

Canterbury farmworker crushed by 600-kilogram hay bale during recent floods – Nadine Porter:

With a water-logged 600-kilogram hay bale crushing his once strong farming body, Dan began to fight for his life.

He had been sheltering from the heavy rain that flooded much of the Canterbury region late last month, waiting for his boss to finish a phone call before they took the feed wagon out to the cows.

He suddenly saw hay bales falling around him and shouted to his boss to move, but in that split second his choice to run forwards rather than sideways almost cost him his life.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew was in the process of getting Dan on the chopper to fly him to Christchurch Hospital when his partner arrived. . . 

Govt funds sort for Ashburton River shingle removal after floods – Sally Murphy:

Canterbury Regional Council (ECAN) says it needs financial help from central government ==to reinstate the Ashburton River, which flooded this month.

Farmers are frustrated they’ve been left with huge bills to remove shingle off their farms after the river flooded. Some have been offered $3500 from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Minutes of a council meeting in February show concerns were raised over the increasing amount of shingle in the north branch of the river – a compliance report said gravel was a serious concern and was causing flood capacity constraints.

ECAN said 60,000 cu/m of gravel needed to be removed from the river every year to maintain the flood capacity, but that figure was not met between 2009 and 2018 – gravel extraction averaged 38,000 cubic square metres annually. . .

Significant investment underway to help farmers tackle facial eczema :

We’re developing new methods to help farmers tackle facial eczema, a disease which is costing the dairy industry around $30 million in lost production each year.

Facial eczema (FE) is caused by a fungal toxin which is mainly found in summer and autumn pastures in the North Island and Upper South Island. When cattle eat this pasture they ingest the toxin which causes liver damage, lowered production and in some circumstances, skin irritation and peeling.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says the co-operative is leveraging its expertise in genetics and diagnostic testing to help farmers combat the effects of the disease.

“We’re focused on helping our farmers optimise value from their livestock by enabling them to produce the most sustainable and efficient animals,” says Spelman. . . 

Feds advocacy on true regulations pays dividends – Simon Edwards:

The new regulations for stockpiling tyres are about to become law, and Federated Farmers is mostly pleased with the way they have landed for farmers.

“We’ve been involved in the consultation with the Ministry for the Environment for almost four years.  But it’s been worth it and shows that it is possible to develop pragmatic regulations to achieve environmental aims and enable common farming practices,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Farmers, like urban residents, do not want used tyre dumps in our neighbourhood.  This regulation makes it clear that outdoor tyre dumps are unacceptable in New Zealand.” . . 

 

Horizon’s workshop a chance for farmers to discuss freshwater issues:

Federated Farmers is calling on farmers in the Horizons region to get out and get involved in community meetings being held this week and next about freshwater and farming.

Feds thinks the venues which have been selected for the workshops give an indication of the areas which need to be aware of increased council concern in the future.

“So it’s worthwhile showing up to the meetings if there is one being held in your patch,” Manawatu Rangitikei Fed Farmers president Murray Holdaway says.

Topics to be covered at the two-hour workshops include Te Mana o te Wai, intensive winter grazing, fish passage, feedlots, stockholding areas, synthetic nitrogen, stock exclusion and wetlands. . .

A breath of fresh air in the debate about carbon – Joanna Blythman;

I have lost count of all the headline stories reporting that livestock farming is an environmental disaster.

You know the script. A team of researchers at some respected university has calculated that the carbon footprint of animal foods is unsustainably heavy.

With our current forelock-tugging attitude to academia, the general public, and even specialist environment and science writers take such statistics at face value because we don’t know how to examine the metrics that underpin them.

Narrow calculations are applied, measurements based on the number of calories supplied, or protein per 100g, water usage and the like. None give a rounded picture. . .


Rural round-up

16/06/2021

Farmers, builders keen for EVs but right vehicles not for sale :

Farmers and tradies say the government’s clean car package is an unfair tax on them as no alternatives are available for their work vehicles.

From next month, people buying new or used imported electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids will be eligible for a rebate.

But from next year fees of up to $5875 will need to be paid on new combustion-engine vehicles depending on their emissions.

A Toyota Hilux, for example, could incur a fee of almost $3000. . .

Biting the hand:

Be careful.”

That’s the response by National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Barbara Kuriger to Sunday’s unveiling of the Government’s electric vehicle rebate scheme.

Under the new Clean Car package scheme, rebates of $8625 will be given to buyers of imported new electric and plug-in hybrids from July 1. Used EV buyers will receive $3450. The discounts only apply to vehicles costing $80,000 or less, with a minimum 3-star safety rating.

Meanwhile buyers of higher emission vehicles like utes will be taxed from January. . . 

Robots aiding expansion of innovative apple company:

Introduction of world-leading robotic technology is one of the driving forces behind a New Zealand apple exporter’s expansion.

Rockit Global, which exports snack-sized apples packed into handy tubes for on-the-go consumption to more than 30 countries, unveiled its new state-of-the-art apple packhouse in Hastings earlier this month.

Alongside its 120 permanent staff and 300 seasonal contractors, four H&C apple tube filling machines which each contain three robots, automate the picking and packing of apples into Rockit’s signature tube packaging.

The robots were custom designed by global food processing technology company, MHM Automation. . .

Research and trails taking fodder beet to the next level – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is a bright crisp autumn day in North Otago, and the fodder beet crop waves gently in the breeze.

Behind it stands Dr Jim Gibbs, an Australian vet and university lecturer from Canterbury. He has devoted much of his career to fodder beet’s establishment as a winter grazing crop in New Zealand, and debunked myths about its toxicity to the international farming world.

He was guest speaker at the recent Catalyst Performance Agronomy field day at Altavady farm near Oamaru, one of dozens he attends every year.

The sometimes controversial root crop has taken Dr Gibbs on quite a journey. . . 

Chief executive of LIC to step down:

Chief Executive Wayne McNee has advised the Board of his intention to step down on 30 November after eight years in the role.

LIC Chair Murray King said that through a significant business transformation Wayne McNee has contributed to sustained growth and development of the business.

“From his appointment as Chief Executive in 2013 Wayne has led the organisation through a period of significant growth and development across all areas of the business while delivering strong shareholder returns,” said Mr King.

“Over the past year, Wayne and his leadership team led LIC through the challenges of COVID-19 and the co-op is on track to deliver record results for the fourth consecutive year. . . 

Carrfields appoints two new directors to board:

Lain Jager and Ken Forrest have been appointed to the board of Carrfields Ltd as independent directors.

Lain Jager is a highly experienced professional in New Zealand primary industries with vast experience in the food and fibre sector, including a long tenure as CEO of kiwifruit marketer Zespri from 2008 to 2017.

His appointment is in line with Carrfields’ strategy to boost investment into its food and fibre divisions, says Craig Carr, managing director of Carrfields Ltd.

“Lain’s appointment as a director of Carrfields is tremendously exciting. We are now at a critical time for New Zealand’s primary sector, with our country poised to become a leading innovator in food and natural fibre production which will help address some of the biggest issues facing the world,” he says. . . 


Rural round-up

12/06/2021

Canterbury flooding: best friend safe but pain lingers – Adam Burns:

Dave Stewart and his family may have emerged from the floodwaters safe and well.

But the heartache of a flooding catastrophe which ravaged the Mid-Canterbury district has not subsided for the Greenstreet dairy farmer who was evacuated alongside wife Maree and son TJ on Sunday 30 May.

The image of 10-year-old dog Max being guided onto a truck by a member of the New Zealand Defence Force during the evacuation circulated across national and international channels as news broke of the Canterbury region being lashed by a one-in-100-year rain event.

As Stewart, 67, surveyed the damage to the 200ha family farm yesterday, which he said was going to absorb significant time and costs, there was only one feeling that came to mind. . . 

We are good at agriculture and we can be proud of it – Derek Moot:

Prof. Derrick Moot, head of the Dryland Pastures Research team at Lincoln University and a keynote contributor to MakingMeatBetter.nz, gives his thoughts on the NZ farming industry.

The adage ‘the consumer is king’ has never been more pertinent than it is today for New Zealand’s animal agriculture sector. What consumers think about our products, how they feel when they eat them, and their perceptions of how it’s produced, have become something of a national obsession.

After all, 40 per cent, or $17.4 billion worth of our annual export income, relies on global consumers continuing to place value on the animal-sourced products we produce – and preferably at a premium.

In this Covid-ravaged world, that export income has never been more important for Aotearoa. . .

Fears for productive farmland – Shawn McAvinue:

An overseas investor is seeking to buy a sheep and beef station in South Otago, sparking fears the productive farmland could become a carbon forestry block and force families out of the community.

A Land Information New Zealand spokeswoman said an application had been lodged at the Overseas Investment Office for the acquisition of the 5499.25ha sheep and beef farm Wisp Hill Station in Owaka Rd in Owaka Valley.

“The application is currently being processed and we do not know when a decision will be made.”

All other information relating to the application remained confidential, she said. . . 

LIC announces deal to divest automatum business:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) announces it has entered into an agreement to divest its automation business to MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (NYSE:MRK) for an amount of NZ$38,100,000 and subject to a working capital adjustment.

The LIC Automation product portfolio joins Allflex Livestock Intelligence (a business unit within MSD Animal Health which has manufacturing facilities at Palmerston North New Zealand).

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary requirements and the transaction is expected to complete on or about 11 June 2021.

The transaction includes the following: . . 

HortNZ welcomes Government Integrated Farm Planning (IFP) guidance:

Horticulture New Zealand says fruit and vegetable growers can meet new farm planning requirements, through adapting existing Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) programmes.

‘The farm planning principles and requirements announced by the Agriculture Minister today largely mirror existing GAP plans, which are integrated farming planning programmes,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘That said, as an industry, we will be reviewing our GAP programmes to see if there are any areas that we need to strengthen.’

Barry says that HortNZ and industry bodies have been working closely with growers on integrated GAP plans for more than 20 years. . .

Waikato Milking Systems at Fireldays 2021: Introducing CowTRAQ collars and  DairyHQ dairy management system:

Dairy farmers operating in a complex, modern industry can find the solutions to the challenges they’re facing, by partnering with Waikato Milking Systems at this year’s National Fieldays.

The dairy technology company will showcase new products aimed at helping farmers make decisions on how to improve efficiency and productivity, to meet the unique conditions of their operation.

There will also be a focus on helping farmers improve the milk quality of their herds, with labour-saving and data collection technology already tested around the world, from large-scale commercial operations to the traditional family-owned farms. . . 


Essential Day

25/03/2021

A year on from the level 4 lockdown, it’s time to celebrate Essentials Day:

This time a year ago, the whole of Aotearoa (and indeed the wider world) stepped up for the first big Covid lockdown. Together our nation united to face the largest health challenge facing the country since the First World War.

Everyone has their own memories of getting through that first Level 4 Lockdown and for so many it marked a period of terrible change, even an end of an era.

While we never want to belittle the myriad challenges people around the globe have faced since, we are forever aware of the large body of scientific research demonstrating the psychological benefits of gratitude. Tuning into what’s still good in our world (cognitive reappraisal) is a foundational skill for resilience. Multiple studies have demonstrated the psychological benefits of noticing positive events, gratitude, mindful awareness, positive reappraisal, the use of personal strengths and acts of kindness during times of significant stress and suggested the importance of these strategies for supporting people through the ongoing challenges of the pandemic (Waters et al, 2021).

Gratitude is just one positive emotion that serves to buffer and bolster mental health in times of adversity and stress, aiding recovery from loss and trauma via widening perceptual field and allowing people to see the big picture (Vernon et al., 2009).

Kim Tay, Director of Online Training from the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience says: “There’s no doubt the past year has been tough, and we don’t want to diminish that, but wherever you are on the spectrum of how the pandemic has impacted you, taking a moment to notice what’s still good in your world, and particularly who you are grateful for, is such a powerful way of broadening our perspective and enabling us to cope in the face of uncertainty, challenge and change.”

“The benefits of a grateful mindset and grateful orientation toward life would appear to be especially valuable in the midst of uncontrollable stress, such as that engendered by the coronavirus crisis”, reports Professor Lea Waters and colleagues from around the world in their recently published paper on psychological strategies for ‘buffering, bolstering and building’ psychological health.

And so, we encourage you, your colleagues, your teams, families, whanau and communities to make an intentional effort to tune into the good at this time. To pause and reflect, for a moment, on the magnificent job done by all the people involved with delivering essential services, on the extraordinary ways families coped with home- schooling, and the businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes doing their utmost to keep going.

Consider all those behind-the-scenes legends who keep New Zealand moving through adversity, never seeking the limelight or praise, and the massive contribution they make every day of the year.

We encourage you to take a moment to ponder, who is essential to you and your way of life? It could be anyone involved in keeping your whanau safe and healthy, the food flowing, the power on, the rubbish collected. Or simply someone you can’t imagine facing the tough times without.

Let’s call it, Essential Day, making it a chance to acknowledge everyone connected to those essential services who kept calm and carried on. And to all those in Aotearoa who keep working day in, day out for a better New Zealand.

Questions you can ask yourself and your teams:

  • Who are you grateful for?
  • Who wouldn’t you want to live without?
  • Who stood up for you last year – at work or home?
  • Who are you most proud of?
  • Have you ever thought of thanking the people behind the essential services in some way?

 


Rural round-up

08/03/2021

Experienced operators scarce as maize harvest ramps up– Gerald Piddock:

Agricultural contractors remain short of experienced operators as a bumper maize harvest gets underway across the North Island.

Contractors have been hard at work in Northland since early February, while further south in Waikato, harvest started a few weeks later.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) vice-president Helen Slattery says the New Zealanders that had been retrained and were employed by contractors were fitting in well in their new vocation.

“In saying that, we do still need those experienced harvest operators. You don’t learn how to operate a harvester in your first year,” Slattery said. . . .

Red meat sector exports reach $743.3 million in January 2021 :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $738.3 million in January 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Although this represented a 14% drop compared with January 2020, there was exceptionally strong demand for beef in China a year ago ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown and African Swine Fever was decimating Chinese pig herds, resulting in a surge in demand for other protein.

“Red meat exports hit record levels of $9.2 billion during 2020,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

 

Genetics gain facilitates lower cow numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

The national dairy herd already contains the calibre of cows that will be required in the future to allow farmers to reduce cow numbers without losing total farm productivity or profitability.

“We already have cows with the desired levels of productivity, we just need more of them,” LIC’s general manager of New Zealand Markets Malcolm Ellis said.

LIC says genetics are a big part of the dairy industry’s response to the Climate Change Commission’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction in agriculture.

NZ is already a low-emissions dairy producer, but the commission is signalling a 15% reduction in stock numbers in nine years. . .

Are the days of industrial fertiliser numbered? – Mark Daniel:

We’ve been encouraged to grow our own for many years, now researchers at two Sydney universities have found a way of making ‘green’ ammonia and say their discovery could provide a major boost to farmers and speed up a global push to renewable hydrogen fuel.

Chemical engineers at the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney say their method of making ammonia (NH3) from air, water and renewable electricity removes the need for high temperatures, high pressure and large infrastructure, currently needed to commercially produce the gas.

The new production system, demonstrated in laboratory trials, could potentially provide a solution to the problem of storing and transporting hydrogen energy.

So, is the day of reckoning coming for the world’s fertiliser manufacturers? . . 

Why we should be using wool carpets – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand had banned single use plastic bags, so why can’t we get rid of synthetic carpets? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

New Zealand banned single use plastic bags in 2019 from July 1.

Over 9000 people had their say in the consultation process, and the Ministry for the Environment took action. The aim was to reduce waste and protect the environment.

New Zealanders adapted so quickly that it is difficult to imagine how we could have been so profligate with plastic in the past. . . 

School leavers swap lazy days for hard yakka fruit picking on farmers’ Chinchilla melon farm – Vicki Thompson:

Brisbane school-leaver Rhys Burke never imagined he would end up picking watermelons under the blazing sun on a Chinchilla farm.

Four months ago, the city-based teenager answered the call from farmer Murray Sturgess, who was desperate for pickers to get his watermelon crop to market.

Rhys and school friend Aidan Stuart packed up and headed west, straight out of school into the hot paddocks of the Western Downs.

It is hard work after 13 years in the classroom, but, as Rees explains, “if you can survive the first three days, you’re sweet”. . . 


Rural round-up

30/01/2021

A world first for collagen water – RIchard Rennie:

Collagen, often the main component of gelatin, has surged in profile over recent years. It is also the main structural protein in mammals’ bodies, and is now hailed as a nutritional supplement to help muscle mass, aid arthritis and improve skin quality. Richard Rennie spoke to Luci Firth whose idea for a collagen water has become a world-first reality.

Working as a graphic designer for a Japanese client, Luci Firth soon became aware of the significance Asian consumers place on collagen as a daily part of their diet, and how far behind New Zealanders were in awareness about its claimed health benefits.

“In places like Japan you will find it regularly used as something you sprinkle on your rice, or buy it from a corner store to add to your cooking. We have been a bit slower to pick up on it,” Firth said. . .

Rural literacy trust struggles for support – Jessica Marshall:

Jo Poland started the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust (RYALT), formerly the Adult Literacy Trust, from her kitchen table in 2011.

Poland, who has taught and been involved in teaching adult literacy since 1994, was approached by a local Port Waikato mother who was looking for help for her daughter who struggled with reading and writing.

Thus, Poland was inspired to found RYALT with two other trustee members.

Since then, RYALT has helped close to 1000 people – youths and adults.

Farms ales rise at the end of 2020:

Farm sales ended 2020 on a healthy note with a 15 percent increase compared to the same time the previous year.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data shows 32 percent more finishing farms and 26 percent more dairy farms were sold in the three months ended December 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. Sales of grazing farms were down 9 percent and 23 percent fewer arable farms were sold.

The median price per hectare was up $4000 to just over $27,000. . .

LIC half-year report – enomics investment delivering for farmers and co-op:

LIC announces its half-year financial results for the six months to 30 November 2020, which show continued strength in the cooperative’s financial performance with increased revenue and underlying earnings.

Performance Highlights H1 2020-21:

  • $169.7 million total revenue, up 3.8% from $163.4 million in the same period last year.
  • $33.4 million net profit after tax (NPAT), up 10.4% from $30.3 million. . .

Zespri plan to partner with Chinese growers off the table, for now :

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri’s hope to partner with Chinese growers illegally growing gold kiwifruit are on hold.

Last year unauthorised plantings of the high value fruit almost doubled to at least 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a hectare to grow it, so in a bid to control plantings in China, Zespri had hoped to work with Chinese growers and authorities in what it called a “win- win” commercial agreement.

But Kiwifruit New Zealand, which independently regulates Zespri, has thrown out the proposal for now. . .

‘Setting the example’: About 330 Riverside County farmworkers vaccinated at event in Mecca – Rebecca Plevin:

Beatriz Martinez has continued working in the fields of the Coachella and San Joaquin valleys throughout the coronavirus pandemic. She has followed a series of protocols — maintaining a 6-foot distance from other workers, avoiding eating in close proximity to others during her lunch breaks and washing her hands frequently — and she has not contracted COVID-19.

On Thursday morning, the 54-year-old Coachella resident took a break from pruning grapevines at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, where she has worked for 35 years, to get vaccinated. She was among approximately 330 agricultural employees who got the shot at the ranch, in what county officials believe was the state’s first large vaccination event specifically for farmworkers.

Martinez — who wore a surgical mask and a colorful bandana over her mouth, and clutched a wide-brimmed hat in her hand — said in Spanish she was “really happy” to get vaccinated. She was grateful to get inoculated during work hours, she added, calling it a “reward” for all the years she had worked for the company. . . 

 


Rural round-up

09/01/2021

Feds call on government to correct misleading water stats – Neal Wallace:

The Government has been accused of using selective freshwater quality data and analysis to mislead public opinion on the true health of our waterways.

Federated Farmers says the Government’s freshwater quality analysis is so deficient and its public statements so selective that it misleads the public to believe our waterways are worse than they actually are.

Its Our Freshwater 2020 report provides examples of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and Statistics New Zealand using selective data in press statements on reports on the state of freshwater.

Federated Farmers is calling on the MfE and StatsNZ to publicly correct or clarify assertions they have made and to change their methodology.  . .

Putting the bite on 5 myths about meat – Simon Edwards:

If one of your New Year resolutions was to do better for your health and the planet by eating less meat, thumbs up to you.   Can’t fault the desire to be a more conscious consumer.

But before you entirely swap out beef steaks and rack of lamb for eggplant and lentils, you might check out the new edition of The Role of Red Meat in Healthy and Sustainable New Zealand Diets.  Released last month, it’s the fourth edition of a report that captures the evidence base underpinning the ongoing nutritional work of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

It’s just livestock farmer spin?  Well, 20 of the 88 pages in the report are swallowed by references to national and international research and scientific papers covering health, food systems and sustainability.  And cons feature with the pros – for example, the report notes that evidence for the carcinogenicity (ability or tendency to produce cancer) of processed meats is “convincing”, and the need for our sheep and beef sector to continue work on improving its impact on water quality is acknowledged

Retracing our wheel-marks – Steve Wyn-Harris:

When I started writing this column 25 years ago, we had two small lads and a third about to make an appearance.

The three of them were under five for a year until they started drifting off to school.

Busy times, and when I see others now with something similar, I’m reminded how great those times were but also pleased that the busyness, the constant vigilance required and the turmoil are well behind us.

One of my greatest pleasures was taking all three out on the two-wheeler with two sitting in front and the youngest in the backpack. . .

 

Cow production improved by genetic research and tech :

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) say continued investment in gene discovery and genetic analysis technology is allowing their farmer shareholders to improve cow production valued in the millions.

Investment into the understanding of bovine genetics undertaken by LIC scientists indicates farmers could be missing out on production to the tune of up to the tune of up to $10 million each year.

The co-operative spent $16 million on research and development during the 2019/20 season.

The discovery of genetic variations have been made from the farmer-owned co-operative’s database of genotyped cows and bulls and validated through on-farm inspections. . . 

Envy becomes the apple of global eye:

T&G Global are predicting that their Envy apple will become a billion-dollar brand by 2025. The apple had a record season in 2020, with the entire New Zealand crop sold well before the end of the year.

In 2020, 1.9 million tray carton equivalents (TCEs) of New Zealand grown Envy were sold, a 23% increase on the previous year across the United States, China and Asia.

This was part of a wider Envy sales programme of TCEs per annum, grown in both hemispheres.

T&G Global’s chief executive Gareth Edgecombe says that despite the market volatility caused by Covid-19, Envy sales have remained strong and the company is moving quickly to plant new trees to meet global consumer demand. . . 

Virginia Tech researchers find that removal of dairy cows would have minimal impact on greenhouse emissions – Max Esterhuizen:

The removal of dairy cows from the United States would only slightly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while reducing essential nutrient supply, Virginia Tech researchers say.

The dairy industry in the United States is massive. It supplies dietary requirements to the vast majority of the population.

This same industry also contributes approximately 1.58 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. A commonly suggested solution to reduce greenhouse gas output has been to reduce or eliminate this industry in favor of plant production.

A team of Virginia Tech researchers wanted to uncover the actual impact that these cows have on the environment. . . 


Rural round-up

04/01/2021

Weather: Central Otago growers attempt to salvage unharvested produce after extensive rainfall – Ruwani Perera:

Central Otago recorded its highest level of rainfall in 40 years as wild weather lashed the region.

About 150 millimetres fell on Saturday, but it means growers had the painful job of assessing the extent of the damage to their unharvested produce on Saturday and some have suffered substantial losses.

Hans Biemond of Biemond Market Gardens estimates one-third of his submerged broccoli crop won’t be able to be saved and he’s cutting his losses after the freak flood.

“If I cut them in the next wee while they’ll still be alright. By tonight they’ll all be buggered,” he says. . . 

Pivoting from production to permanent forests – Keith Woodford:

A fundamental change is occurring in the economics of production versus permanent forests. The policy environment is getting left behind

During 2019, I wrote five articles discussing land-use transformation that would be driven by forthcoming forestry investments.  One of the key themes of those articles was that New Zealand’s forestry policies are a mess. The rules are complex and confusing. Also, the alignment of those rules with the overall public good is at best debatable.

I wrote about how policy communication by Government has been driven by public relations spin about the so-called billion trees programme. It has been virtue signalling but little else.

I also wrote that the investor focus to date has largely been driven by production forestry with that focus shaped by proximity to ports rather than the most appropriate land-use.  In that context, selling carbon units has been seen as a bonus. . . 

Support keeps arable operation on the ‘case’ :

Turley Farms is a Canterbury-based, family-owned enterprise that grows vegetable, seed and pasture crops – including wheat, barley, potatoes, white clover, onions, grass seed and carrot seed.

Also on the agenda are hybrid radish, spinach, canola, sunflowers and peas for processing. During winter the business finishes store lambs, winters dairy cows and finishes some beef cattle.

The business is largely self-contained, backed by technology to keep the many wheels of its 12 prime movers rolling. Case IH tractors on the properties run from 75 to 550hp, many fitted with Case IH Advanced farming systems automated guidance, offering precision seed placement down to 2cm, delivered by Trimble RTK.

With this technology available, real-time data monitoring from the Vantage system – offered by Trimble – gives the operation insight into areas such as soil moisture levels, then by comparing the results from a weather station reading, it can calculate soil deficit and crop demand. . .

Proof of profitability in the North – Hugh Stringleman:

Far North beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan have spent 20 years refining the most profitable and sustainable management system for their land and have shared every step of the way with fellow farmers and rural professionals. They spoke to Hugh Stringleman.

On their 576ha effective Te Mataa Station at Taipa, most of which drains into the Parapara Stream and Doubtless Bay, Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan produce 500kg/ha/year carcass weight by rearing young Friesian bulls.

This is more than twice the provincial average for any form of beef production.

Almost the whole farm is covered with intensive beef systems (IBS), being TechnoGrazing and variations on cellular systems that carry 2400 yearlings in more than 100 groups. . . 

LIC delivers world-leading genetic wealth to New Zealand dairy farmers :

Thanks to the foresight of the LIC board and its farmer shareholders, three decades of research and investment focusing on increasing the rate of genetic improvement in New Zealand dairy animals is paying off resulting in markedly increased productivity and health traits for dairy cows, and better returns for dairy farmers.

LIC Board Chair Murray King says the investment of more than $78 million over the past 26 years has built substantial genetic wealth for the New Zealand dairy industry.

“Significant investment has been made to ensure LIC leads the world in pastoral genomic science, and the board is pleased to see this paying off with all shareholders able to share in the productivity and profitability improvements,” King says.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says the investment in genomic science has included genotyping over 150,000 animals, genomically sequencing over 1,000 animals and undertaking detailed statistical research. . . 

Ringer, pilot, diplomat … all in a day’s work for Beetaloo stockman – Shan Goodwin:

Hugh Dawson’s job description is unlike any others.

He’s a cattleman, a helicopter pilot and a maintenance man. At times he does the work of a mechanic, boilermaker, a plumber, an electrician, as well as being a human resources advisor.

He has to know about genetics, breeding, animal husbandry and animal behaviour. He could also be called an advocate, an industry leader, even a diplomat.

Such is life when one has chosen agriculture for a career. . . 


Rural round-up

02/01/2021

Dairy sector pushing for export tariffs removal – Tom Kitchin:

The dairy industry wants export tariffs scrapped as it tries to get the best bang for its buck overseas – and doesn’t think the new post-Brexit trade deal will help.

New Zealand is in the throes of sorting out trade agreements with the UK and the European bloc, after the two sides finally put a deal on the table just days before the deadline.

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther said Kiwi exporters had battled tariffs as they tried to find their way in the market. This even happened when the UK was part of the EU. . .

Motueka hop growers picking up pieces after hail stripped vines bare

Hop growers in the Motueka area are counting the costs of the area’s freak Boxing Day hail storm, with estimates that more than half the crop has been destroyed on some farms.

The hail storm damaged dozens of businesses in the town, west of Nelson, wiped out up to 100 per cent of some fruit-growers’ crops in Moutere, Motueka and Riwaka, and left a market gardening couple scrambling for cover as a mini-tornado tore up their glasshouse.

The losses have been estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, but the full impact will take time to assess.

Lower Moutere grower Brent McGlashen said his farm, Mac Hops, was one of the five to six hop farms that were hit hardest by the storm. . .

Wakefield farmer carries on tradition of community service – Tim Newman:

For most of his life, Wakefield sheep and beef farmer Colin Gibbs has been making time to lend a hand to help out his local community.

Gibbs has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to agriculture and the community, after more than 50 years working across various farming, sporting, and community organisations.

The fourth-generation Wakefield farmer has worn many hats over that time, becoming involved with volunteer work soon after leaving school to work on the family farm.

These included roles at the Waimea and Tapawera Dog Trial Clubs, the Nelson A&P Association, the Wakefield Target Shooting Club, and St John’s Church Wakefield. . .

Dairy’s record production in challenging year:

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics publication reveals another record year for the dairy sector, with total milksolids production at a record high.

The DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) statistics show that in the 2019-20 season, New Zealand dairy companies processed 21.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.90 billion kgMS, a 0.6% increase from the previous season.

Average milk production per cow also increased from 381kgMS last season to 385kgMS this season, while the latest count showed that New Zealand has 4.921 million milking cows – a decrease of 0.5% from the previous season. . .

Woodchopping royalty visits – Jared Morgan:

A pact made with her late husband has led axewoman Sheree Taylor to the South to compete on the gruelling Christmas woodchopping circuit for the first time.

The Te Aroha woman made good on that agreement at the Cromwell Town and Country Club on Sunday and the Gore Town and Country Club yesterday, competing for the Rotorua Axeman’s club some two years after the death of her husband, axeman Alastair.

His loss left her considering her future in the sport and her grief was still raw, but somehow she had rallied, she said.

“I’m doing it for him and I’m doing it for me. . .

Clydesdale horse breed faces uncertain future :

IT IS Scotland’s most iconic and distinctive horse, a beast which powered industrial and agricultural revolutions and helped to win the First World War.

Now a plan to save the Clydesdale horse in its homeland has been revealed in a new BBC Scotland feature-length documentary to be shown next week.

The film, Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse, reveals how the breed is entering the “vortex of extinction”.

Once exported from Scotland all over the world, the current small size and relative isolation of the population has impacted on its genetic diversity. . . .


Rural round-up

18/12/2020

A near miss – Nigel Beckford:

A near-fatal accident completely changed Owen Gullery’s approach to life and farming. Now he’s alerting other farmers to the dangers of fatigue and burnout.

Owen contract milks 480 cows on a dairy farm near Cambridge. He’s been in the industry 20 years and loves ‘the daily challenges of farming – good and bad.’

“We’re having a good year, spring’s been kind to us in terms of weather – we’re not swimming round in mud. Everything’s tracking along nicely, the cows are doing well, it’s a nice property and good people.”

Which all sounds cruisy, doesn’t it? In fact, it turns out Owen’s lucky to be farming at all. A few years back a tractor accident almost claimed his life. It’s a moment he still vividly recalls. . . 

Paving the way for nurse practitioners – Annette Scott:

Raised in a farming family on Pitt Island, Tania Kemp’s upbringing had a huge impact on her career path as a rural nurse practitioner. She talked with her Annette Scott about bridging the rural health gap.

South Canterbury-based nurse practitioner Tania Kemp says rural health care needs to be promoted as a specialty area and not seen as the poor cousin to the glittering lights of urban medical practices.

Kemp has been recognised for her commitment and leadership in her drive to improve health care for rural communities.

The recipient of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network 2020 Peter Snow Memorial Award says the inequities of the rural health statistics urgently need addressing. . . 

IrrigationNZ honours Canterbury farmer – John Donkers:

Former IrrigationNZ chair John Donkers has long been involved in the politics of water with his many years of service to the industry recently honoured by the organisation. He talked with Annette Scott about his interest in water and irrigation.

Honorary membership of Irrigation New Zealand recognises outstanding contribution to the organisation and the 2020 honour has been awarded to South Canterbury farm consultant John Donkers.

A farmer and dairy farm consultant for more than 25 years, with involvement in IrrigationNZ since 2003, Donkers has a good understanding of how Canterbury’s water runs.

His initial interest stems from farming in central Canterbury and the need to understand the groundwater network. . . 

Dairy’s record milksolids production in a challenging year:

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics publication released today shows another record year for New Zealand’s dairy sector, with total milksolids production at a record high.

The DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) statistics show that in the 2019-20 season, New Zealand dairy companies processed 21.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.90 billion kilograms of milksolids (kg MS). This is a 0.6 percent increase in milksolids from the previous season.

Average milk production per cow also increased from 381 kg MS last season to 385 kg MS this season, while the latest count showed that New Zealand has 4.921 million milking cows – a decrease of 0.5 per cent from the previous season. This is again down significantly from peak cow numbers in 2014/15, which were at over 5 million. . . 

New analysis highlights dairy’s economic contribution:

The dairy sector is encouraged by today’s GDP results that emphasise New Zealand’s economic rebound amid Covid-19.

The dairy sector is playing a key role in a stable economy, contributing nearly one in every four dollars earned from total goods exports and services in the year to September 2020.

Recent Sense Partners analysis, for DairyNZ and DCANZ, shows the sector is delivering $20 billion in export value.

“Today’s GDP rebound may be a short-term benefit from the recovery in retail spending, wage subsidy and a hot housing market. So, it is important we don’t forget to focus on export-led growth moving forward,” said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. . .

Careers in horticulture look bright for Northlanders :

A local horticulture expo and ‘speed meet’ attracted more than 200 people from across Northland and the North Island last Wednesday.

Held at the Cornerstone Church in Kerikeri, the speed meet matched jobseekers with Northland growers needing workers for the season, training providers and career advisors.

Bruce Campbell, a Director on the Horticulture New Zealand board, says in the current environment, industry led events like this are critical for growers, and for those looking for immediate employment or to build a new career for themselves. . . 


Rural round-up

01/10/2020

Time for a change?

This year has been a difficult and challenging time not just for farmers, but for all New Zealanders.

For the farming industry, changing regulations, uncertainties about staffing and a difficult financial outlook top the list. Add to that changing weather patterns and high levels of debt: all these factors impact their mental health and wellbeing.

Last week, the country marked Mental Health Awareness Week. Dairy industry stakeholders called on politicians to make rural mental health a priority.

DairyNZ’s report, The view from the Cowshed, released last month paints a sad picture. . . 

IrrigationNZ launches innovative way to learn about water quality:

IrrigationNZ believes it is important Kiwis get up-to-date information about freshwater in their local catchments and have created a new way to do it.

‘Know Your Catchment’ is an online platform which showcases water monitoring data and different ways freshwater supports wellbeing.

IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal says the platform is a step in the right direction to better inform the public about freshwater and help track the effects of farming practice change on water quality over time.

“This platform will engage and educate both rural and urban communities about the commitment farmers and growers have made to maintaining and improving water quality with information about water quality, irrigation, recreation, wetlands and more.” . . 

Candidates debate rural health priorities – Riley Kennedy:

Candidates from across the political spectrum went head-to-head in a debate to talk about their rural health priorities on Tuesday night.

The debate was organised in partnership with Mobile health and New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN).

In an election manifesto released by NZRGPN ahead of the debate, it noted three areas of concern, such as, long wait times for appointments to see health professionals, struggle to afford the costs of time and travel to manage their health and little to no access to specialist mental health and addiction services.

Its chief executive, Dr Grant Davidson, started off the debate by saying that rural health was in a crisis and it needs to be addressed. . . 

Decarbonisation is one option for Fonterra bosses to consider as they strive to make the co-op a national champion – Point of Order:

Rabobank’s  latest   survey    of farmer   confidence found dairy farmers more upbeat about the fortunes of the agricultural economy  than meat and wool  producers.  Dairy farmer net confidence rose to -29% (-33% previously).

Improving demand is the key reason for optimism among  dairy farmers. That’s  largely  because global demand for dairy has held up well during the course of Covid-19 with many consumers opting for simple, familiar, stable food products such as dairy during the pandemic.  And   since the last survey,  Fonterra has  lifted  the lower bound of its farmgate milk price pay-out range for the 20/21 season.

Then there is  Fonterra’s  performance  under   the  stewardship of  Fonterra chief executive Miles  Hurrell,    who  has succeeded  in  turning  the  co-op’s fortunes  around   after  two   grim  years. . . 

Ospri and LIC join forces :

OSPRI and the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are urging farmers to play their part in improving animal traceability at a critical time on farm.

As the management agency for the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system, OSPRI has been working closely with LIC to ensure livestock data recorded in its livestock management system MINDA LIVE, is more easily transferable and can be captured real-time in NAIT.

“The recent upgrades mean a seamless transfer of livestock movements between both systems within two hours instead of just once daily,” says OSPRI chief executive Steve Stuart.  . . 

Tasmanian shearers left in limbo due to border restrictions – Caitlin Jarvis:

Tasmanian shearers are facing financial limbo as the state’s border control measures force them to stay in the state or face lengthy and expensive quarantine.

Not classed as essential workers, shearers are not able to gain exemptions to enter Tasmania, and the state was left without its injection of New Zealand and interstate shearers it relies on for a speedy season.

As the Tasmanian season begins to wind up, Tasmanian shearers and interstate shearers who were in the state before the pandemic face financial uncertainty and the inability to find future work once the season finishes up in the state. . .

 


Rural round-up

28/09/2020

Farmers on board with environmental fairness but want time and fairness – Liz McDonald and Henry Cooke:

Canterbury farmers want politicians to stop painting them as climate change villains, listen to their needs and allow them more time to boost environmental standards.

The Labour, National, Act and Green parties have all released agriculture policies in the past few days as they vie for the government benches in October.

National’s agriculture policy, released on Thursday, promises to “review or repeal” the Labour Government’s nine freshwater regulations introduced this year, and remove the possibility of agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2022.

It also promised to allow skilled and seasonal workers to enter New Zealand with a fast-tracked primary sector visa. . .

Primary sector wary of health and safety if cannabis legalised:

Legalising of recreational cannabis could increase health and safety risks for the primary sector, say wary employers.

The sector already has one of the highest workplace accident and death rates in the country, and leaders say it could be another risk if the referendum gets support on 17 October.

Chris Lewis from Federated Farmers said while the organisation doesn’t have a stance on the referendum it does have concerns about the health and safety implications if the bill is passed into law.

He said farming already has a high accident rate around livestock and machinery, and workers need to be aware of what is around them without being impaired. . .

 

LIC begins insemination of millions of cows – recruits asked to put hands up:

Artificial breeding technicians (AB techs) across the country have begun rolling up their sleeves in order to get millions of dairy cows pregnant over the next six months. Their role is critical in producing the next generation of animals and ensuring New Zealand’s hugely valuable milk supply continues.

Last year LIC, which employs around 900 AB techs between September and March, oversaw the insemination of over four million cows. While undertaking this work, the cooperative is also seeking new recruits to train ahead of next season.

Once trained many return year-after-year including the McCarthy family. Paul McCarthy first trained with LIC in 1978 as a 20-year-old. After nearly 40 years he has inseminated thousands of cows while running a 134ha dairy farm in Galatea in the eastern Bay of Plenty with his wife Johanna. . . 

Bees are flourishing in New Zealand:

Bees are an essential component of a strong agricultural sector. They support New Zealand’s $6 billion horticultural industry by pollinating food crops as well as producing a multitude of honey-based products.

Despite recent reports of declining bee numbers due to pesticide use, figures released by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) show that beehive numbers have increased three-fold since 2005. According to its apiculture monitoring programme, hive numbers reached over 918,000 in 2019, up from below 300,000 fourteen years ago. The numbers have consistently been on an upward trend since then, with the latest figures showing a four percent increase on the previous year.

Independent scientific research included in the report concluded that the destructive varroa mite is the main cause of bee losses. . . 

Chop to it – Southland lamb goes nation-wide:

Southland meat processor Blue Sky Pastures is looking to new pastures by expanding its business, launching its namesake Blue Sky Butchery.

Bringing southern lamb to the digital fingertips of all New Zealanders, Blue Sky Butchery is a completely online store where users will be able to purchase the finest and freshest cuts of Southland lamb, delivered overnight nation-wide.

Many cuts of this New Zealand-favourite will be available, including Frenched racks, striploin, leg, shoulder, loin chops and mince. . .

Crops will be ploughed under if workers can’t be found – Andrew Miller:

A Bacchus Marsh vegetable grower says her farm will have to plough crops back into the ground, if sufficient workers can’t be found as harvest ramps up.

Rae McFarlane, Boratto Farms, Bacchus Marsh said the business produced fancy lettuce, rocket, parsley and baby spinach.

She said the coronavirus lockdown had hit the restaurant trade hard. . . 


Happy Fathers’ Day

06/09/2020

In humans, men fathering many children by many different mothers is one of the causes of many social problems, in animals it’s quite an achievement:

One of LIC’s longest-serving bulls has reached the landmark achievement of selling one million semen straws in New Zealand and overseas.

Holstein-Friesian bull San Ray FM Beamer ET S2F – better known as Beamer – reached the figure just in time for Father’s Day this year, ironic as he has sired around 170,000 daughters around the country over the last eight years. . . 


Rural round-up

06/09/2020

MfE on different page to farmers – Annette Scott:

Altering law before it has become effective is a tragic situation that farmers say could have been avoided if the Government had consulted properly.

That is the view of high country farmers struggling to come to grips with Government’s freshwater policy reforms that are now law.

Federated Farmers high country chairman Rob Stokes is bitterly disappointed over the Government’s approach.

“It’s been a case of rush through the legislation with no proper consultation and the result is an unworkable policy,” he said. . . 

Plan for the worst hope for the best – Gerald Piddock:

Each month the milk monitor Gerald Piddock delves into the dairy industry and gives us the low-down on the good, the bag, the ugly and everything in between.

NEW Zealand dairy farmers who felt the worst impact of last season’s drought are recovering well thanks to a relatively kind winter.

From all accounts, calving has gone smoothly and most farms have good pasture covers, setting them up well for spring.

But despite those positives, farmers will need this season to be as close to perfect as possible if they are to fully recover from the drought. . . 

Rural veterinarians empathetic but compromised over animal welfare reporting, vet says – Andrew McRae:

A vet who is also a farmer has come out in support of claims rural vets sometimes turn a blind eye to animal welfare issues because they are scared of how their community will react to it.

Animal welfare campaigner Angus Robson told RNZ on Thursday that rural vets are often compromised because reporting a farmer could affect their veterinary business.

Alison Dewes is a vet and farmer from Waikato and said vets played a major part in a rural community and this it made it difficult to dob someone in.

“I have worked myself for 30 years in rural communities and I think as veterinarians they are particularly compromised if they have got to be seen to be responsible for notifying welfare issues.” . . 

Farmers seeking more productive heifers turn to fresh sexed bull semen to meet mating goals:

Herd improvement and agri-tech cooperative LIC, the only provider of fresh, liquid sexed semen to New Zealand dairy farmers, is preparing for a busy spring as more farmers factor this new component into their 2020 breeding programmes.

Fresh sexed semen from LIC is helping dairy farmers accelerate genetic gain within their herds by enabling them to get more replacement heifer (female) calves from their top performing cows. It delivers a 90 per cent chance of producing a heifer, providing surplus calves with having an increased chance of being retained on farm and destined for either domestic or export beef markets.

LIC General Manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis says demand for fresh sexed bull semen has been steadily increasing over the last few seasons with this year set to more than triple 2019 sales. . . 

The value of long-acting drench treatments again under the spotlight:

The outcomes of a Beef + Lamb New Zealand co-funded study has cast even more doubt on the economic value of drenching ewes with long-acting products.

The study, led by AgResearch’s Dave Leathwick and co-funded by B+LNZ and AgResearch, showed that initial benefits of drenching with these products, especially to low body condition score ewes, were short-lived and declined in the interval after the treatments had expired. Untreated ewes tended to catch-up to their treated equivalents.

“This has also been seen in other New Zealand studies and highlights the danger of only assessing benefits at the end of the drugs pay-out period.”

He says many sheep farmers treat their ewes pre-lambing with long-acting drench products (capsules or injections) expecting their ewes and lambs to benefit, however this study shows that any benefits seen at weaning are likely to over-estimate the true value. . . 

Global investors boost NZ red seaweed farming venture:

Aquaculture startup CH4 Global has closed on seed funding of US$3 million (NZ$4.45 million) and will scale up its New Zealand operations with commercial marine and tank-based seaweed cultivation pilots based at Rakiura/Stewart Island. These pilots will serve as the platform to deliver an end to end production module in late 2021.

CH4 Global is currently operating a sustainable wild harvest programme at Rakiura of a specific species of red seaweed – Asparagopsis armata – to use as a livestock supplement solution to reduce ruminant methane emissions by up to 90 percent. The harvesting programme will provide the seed stock for the scale-up as well as finished product for dairy and sheep trials.

“Our focus is on urgently impacting climate change within the next decade, so this investment means NZ farmers, and farmers in the US and Australia, could be the first in the world to make a meaningful impact on emissions in this way,” comments Dr Steve Meller, President, CEO and Co-Founder of CH4 Global. . . 


Rural round-up

01/09/2020

Primary sector keen to streamline rules with govt – Neal Wallace:

Primary sector groups shut out of the final development phases of the Government’s freshwater policy are urging politicians to work with them to make the regulations workable.

Since late May, sector groups have been excluded from the formation of the policy other than a three-day opportunity to respond to the final draft.

“We had limited opportunity as an industry to provide feedback during the final rule writing process,” Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) chair Andrew Morrison said.

Until then, industry groups were working effectively with the Government and were getting concessions. . . 

Government refuses to act on workers – David Anderson:

Agricultural contractors are still struggling to fill the huge hole of workers it needs, despite recruiting 300 locals to the industry.

Meanwhile, the Government is refusing to allow more operators from overseas into the country. Read: Locals only will not ‘cut the mustard’.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has dashed any hopes of this happening, saying there will not be any special accommodation made for overseas agriculture contractor workers.

“The door won’t be open in time for the new season,” he concedes. . .

From Boeing to baling: pilots fly to the rescue of heavy agriculture industry for upcoming harvest:

New Zealand pilots waiting for international aviation to restart will be able to use their aviation transport skills to help meet the urgent need for heavy agriculture machinery operators throughout the country.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) Medical and Welfare Director, Andy Pender said that the Association had been working for several months with the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Rural Contractors’ Association, other government departments and training providers to match pilot expertise with the immediate needs of the agricultural sector.

“By matching skills and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) licences pilots already hold, we’ve found almost 200 opportunities for pilots to put their skills to use with land-based machinery and do their bit for New Zealand’s essential agriculture economy,” Andy Pender said. . . 

Innovation-led LIC launches ‘Ag-celerator’ investment fund:

Leading agritech and herd improvement cooperative LIC has launched a new fund to support innovations with the potential to positively impact New Zealand’s valuable dairy sector.

LIC has launched an early-stage investment fund, named the LIC AgCelerator™ Fund, for individuals and entities seeking to develop innovations that will deliver value to the dairy industry from generating higher yields, improving animal health, diagnostic tools and improved traceability to sustainability, advancements in breeding techniques and leveraging big data for improvements to farm management.

LIC Chief Executive, Wayne McNee says annual investment in upstream agritech companies grew 44% year-on-year from 2012 to 2018 and a further 1.3% from 2018-2019 highlighting both the opportunities and need for expansion. . .

Creating opportunities for New Zealanders with hemp:

The NZHIA are using “Innovation as a Service” to identify opportunities for industrial hemp in the food, fibre and processing sectors.

Hemp has long been known for its properties as a food, strong fibre, and an environmental super crop now, it could spell opportunity for New Zealand farmers.

As part of their agriculture super node strategy, Christchurch NZ, with the support of NZHIA (New Zealand Hemp Industries Association), Webtools Agritech, and Hemptastic, are hosting the “Hemp Ideation Challenge” from 5-18 September 2020. . .

Top End station hand Ricky Wilson spent 15 weeks in ultimate isolation on a remote cattle property – Jon Daly:

Ricky Wilson, 33, voluntarily spent almost four months on a remote cattle station without seeing another human and completely cut off from civilisation.

His bizarre and uniquely Territorian tale takes social isolation to the extreme, thanks to a can-do attitude and wanton disregard for personal safety.

“I don’t think many people could handle it,” Mr Wilson said.

“I’ve been metres from a crocodile, I’ve been metres from buffalo, I’ve been in a cyclone, and I’ve been metres from lightning hitting the ground.” . .


Rural round-up

14/08/2020

The ugly side of forestry clearly exposed for all to see – John Jackson:

I was horrified at the results of a weather event in the East Coast of the North Island on July 18. Forestry – the catch-cry of the current Government for all pastoral ills and the excesses of our modern lifestyles – stood out like an old man caught with pants down.

In this case, obese, ugly and exposed in all areas, which when clothed is touted as a saviour.

The hillsides where pines had been harvested, recently disturbed and long since naked of pasture, had let hundreds of tonnes of topsoil into the creeks below and onwards in a watery slurry out into the Pacific. Those areas where the slash and logs were contained mid river, turned into massive, festering, ugly boils on the landscape – often against bridges, culverts or anything that impeded their progress seaward.

Out around Tolaga Bay, and up the east coast, the carnage was truly gut wrenching.

New venture to train women in agriculture – Annette Scott:

Southern girl Laura Douglas is bubbling with passion and enthusiasm as she heads up an exciting new venture aimed at giving women a leg up into New Zealand’s agricultural industry. She shares her story with Annette Scott.

Laura Douglas grew up on a deer and sheep farm in Southland.

She always loved farming but admits she ignored her gut passion growing up and pursued a career in the corporate world. . . 

Opportunities for New Zealand goat milk products: what are they and how can we win? – Tim Fulton:

A report released recently by The Nutrition Bureau’s Jan Hales, who engaged me to help with the preparation of the material for the project team.

We are pleased to advise that the report “Opportunities for New Zealand Goat Milk Products: what are they and how can we win?” is now available to New Zealand businesses through our website https://sheepandgoatmilk.nz/resources/

This report follows a 14-month Provincial Growth funded project that looked at the opportunities for developing New Zealand’s sheep and goat milk industries to a scale that could bring significant economic benefit to our regional communities.

It includes information on the estimated size, growth and profit potential of consumer ready products sold in five export markets, and the processing infrastructure and farm supply requirements to meet forecast demand, as well as recommendations on how New Zealand can win. . . 

Vegetable prices continue to grow:

Courgettes and cucumbers reached record-high prices in July 2020, rising more than 30 percent in the month, as Queensland imports continued to be banned, Stats NZ said today.

Fruit and vegetable prices were up 9.8 percent in July 2020.

Courgette prices rose 38 percent to a weighted average price of $29.60 per kilo, up from a previous record high of $21.42 per kilo in June. Some reports showed courgettes prices reaching up to $38.99 per kilo (see Would you pay $39 a kilo for zucchini?).

Imports of fresh courgettes, cucumbers, and other cucurbit from Queensland have been banned this year because of a plant virus. . .

LIC wins ‘Choice’ award for being a top employer:

New Zealand’s leading agri-tech and herd improvement cooperative has today been named as a 2020 Employer of Choice through a survey conducted by HRD New Zealand.

The latest accolade from HRD (Human Resources Director) comes six months after LIC won both the Organisational Change/Development and Best Wellness Programme Awards at the 2020 NZ HR awards in February beating out Coca Cola and Xero in the latter category for the wellness programme title.

Now the cooperative, which employers over 750 full-time staff and nearly 2,000 seasonal staff across New Zealand, has become the only agriculture entity to win an Employer of Choice Award from HRD which focuses on analysis of the HR profession across not only New Zealand but also Australia, Canada, America and Asia. . . 

Lanaco founder advises on mask wear and care and says not all masks are made the same:

In response to Government Covid-19 announcement last night and following its launch at Parliament last week, NZ mask filter manufacturer Lanaco’s CEO Nick Davenport is available to demonstrate and discuss mask availability, wear and care.Lanaco supplies filters to more than 30 mask producers in New Zealand.

Lanaco started making Helix filters to specific accredited standards over five years ago, using a high-tech application of NZ wool, for other people to use to make masks and other respiratory devices.

In the past four months, Lanaco has developed formulations for masks to AS/NZS 1716 P2 (NZ’s national gold standard) and N95 (The USA gold standard) and makes masks to these formulations.

In order to sell them to these standards, the devices must be independently tested, and the manufacturing plant audited. The latter process takes months and is a very stringent process. . . 


Rural round-up

13/07/2020

IrrigationNZ pleased to see Government expenditure on water services across the country – but calls for joined-up approach to all water:

IrrigationNZ believes Government investment in the water sector is a step in the right direction – but calls for a broader strategy to encompass all water infrastructure, including storage and policy development.

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the Government will invest $761 million for a much-needed upgrade to water services across the country.

IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal says the proposal to reform water service delivery into large-scale multi-regional providers(for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater)will provide greater opportunities for investment in water infrastructure (such as water storage) that will improve outcomes beyond three waters, to include water for irrigation, reallocation, and the environment. . . 

Potatoes NZ anti-dumping tariff application:

On 3rd July 2020 Potatoes NZ submitted an application to Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment for anti-dumping duties on frozen potato products originating in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The application is based on the real threat of material injury to the New Zealand potato industry. 

The threat is a result of huge surplus inventories of frozen potato products and processing potatoes in Belgium and the Netherlands. 

This situation has arisen through the impacts of the Covid-19 global pandemic causing supply chain disruption in hospitality industries worldwide.  . . 

Quality beef bulls wanted:

Making quality beef genetics easier for dairy farmers to access is the aim of a new industry partnership.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics and LIC are collaborating to help fulfil growing demand for beef genetics suitable for New Zealand dairy cows.

The collaboration has seen the creation of the B+LNZ Genetics Dairy Beef Progeny Test, devised to identify quality beef bulls and help enable their widespread use for dairy beef.

Beef breeders can nominate their best bulls for consideration for the programme, with successful bulls then becoming part of the progeny test scheme. . .

Hunting guides welcome High Court decision on DOC’s Tahr plan:

The Professional Hunting Guides Association is welcoming the High Court decision on DoC’s controversial tahr campaign.

The High Court in Wellington was asked on Wednesday by the Tahr Foundation for a judicial review of DoC’s plan to kill thousands of Himalayan Tahr in the Southern Alps.

In a decision released this afternoon, the court ruled in the Tahr Foundation’s favour over the lack of consultation with hunting groups.

Professional Hunting Guides Association president James Cagney says the decision is a huge relief. . . 

High Court decision a win for hunters:

A High Court decision has stopped this clumsy and incompetent Government from destroying a $17 million industry and hundreds of jobs, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage gave permission for a large-scale cull of tahr to start on July 1st. The High Court decided to halt the controversial plan to kill thousands of tahr through the Southern Alps, which is not only a win for hunters, but for the many New Zealanders whose jobs were on the line.

“Eugenie Sage has made this brash decision before where she tried to enact a large-scale cull unsuccessfully. She must go back and consult with hunters and key stakeholders. . .

Welsh govt confirms farmers will adopt green farming:

The Welsh government has confirmed that sustainable farming will remain at the heart of future agriculture support post-Brexit.

An official response has been published to last year’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation, which received over 3,300 responses from farmers and landowners.

The consultation proposed that future funding should support farmers who operate sustainable farming systems and protect the environment.

NFU Cymru replied to it by urging the Welsh government to be ‘careful, considered and measured’, and to develop future policy through a ‘process of evolution rather than revolution’. . . 


Rural round-up

03/07/2020

Rock bottom crossbred wool prices pose dilemma for farmers – Maja Burry:

Crossbred wool prices have plummeted to new record low levels in the wake of Covid-19, with some farmers receiving less than a dollar a kilogram for their wool.

Coarse wool makes up about 85 percent of New Zealand’s total wool clip, but prices have been low for years.

South Canterbury sheep farmer and former Federated Farmers meat and wool chair, Miles Anderson, said the problems facing the sector had been exacerbated further by the coronavirus.

Miles Anderson said at the moment returns to farmers didn’t even come close to covering the costs of shearing and in some cases, it wasn’t even worth sending the wool off farm. . . 

Environmental devastation at Tolaga Bay may take a century to recover, says councillor – Bonnie Flaws:

Forestry waste has again flooded the beaches of Tolaga Bay.

A video of a log-covered Tolaga Bay beach had been shared widely on social media on Tuesday.

A storm hit the district on Queen’s Birthday weekend 2018, washing over 40,000 cubic metres of wood onto beaches.

“We had 300 millimetres [of rain] up there over the weekend and a total new amount of wood has come down,” local farmer Henry Gaddum said. . . 

Hunting & Fishing New Zealand calls for genuine government consultation over tahr kill:

New Zealand’s largest outdoor recreation retailer, Hunting & Fishing New Zealand, today called on the Government to get back around the table and genuinely work with the hunting community to develop a pragmatic and long-term solution for the management of the South Island’s tahr population.

Hunting & Fishing New Zealand Chief Executive Darren Jacobs says it is extremely disappointing that a lack of consultation has once again required legal action, with the Tahr Foundation seeking an injunction this week in the High Court to stop a widespread cull due to start on 1 July.

“This is the second time in less than two years that hunting groups have had to take court action to stop plans for an extreme tahr cull and force the Government back around the table to talk with hunting groups, and other interested parties, to develop a collaborative approach to managing the tahr population,” says Jacobs. . . 

Anger at DoC’s ‘sham consultation’ over tahr slaughter plans:

The Tahr Foundation is condemning the Department of Conservation for what it describes as DOC’s “sham consultation” over plans to kill thousands of Himalayan tahr.

DOC’s kill operation is due to start today but the final version of its plan was only released just before midnight, minutes before it came into force. The plan confirms that DOC aims to exterminate tahr from national parks and kill thousands more through the Southern Alps.

The Tahr Foundation says that is outrageous and confirms that the already suspect consultation process was a farce.

Foundation spokesperson Willie Duley says DOC’s tactics are cynical. . . 

LIC strengthens partnership to support future farming leaders:

LIC has strengthened its support for growing the next generation of primary sector leaders with the signing of a three-year agreement with Rural Leaders which runs the highly-respected Nuffield Farming Scholarship and Kellogg Rural Leadership programmes.

Farmer owned co-operative LIC is committed to further enabling rural business professionals and farmers to flourish at a time when career opportunities on and around farms are strong says LIC Chief Executive Wayne McNee.

“We’re proud to have strengthened our partnership with Rural Leaders having previously had an association for five years,” he explains. “We’re excited to further cement our support for the future leaders our sector needs to retain and grow if we are to maintain global status as a world-class provider of agritech, food and products. We need leaders with passion and depth to navigate the challenges and opportunities being faced. Like Rural Leaders, LIC is focused on empowering people to grow and we’re delighted to be working with Rural Leaders to support more talented Kiwis to embark on forthcoming Nuffield and Kellogg programmes.” . . 

Overwhelming support to continuing seed levy:

Growers have overwhelmingly supported the continuation of the Non-Proprietary and Uncertified Herbage Seeds Levy order for another six years.

“In fact, from 82 percent in favour at the last levy vote in 2014, support shown during the vote last November had risen to 91 percent,” Federated Farmers Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection Chairperson Hugh Wigley says.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and the rest of Cabinet have approved continuation of the levy, and it will be gazetted this week.

“Grasses and clovers are vital to our sector but contracts for growing from proprietary seed are not always available and are more expensive. This levy safeguards supply of non-proprietary and uncertified seeds and provides different options to our farmers,” Hugh says. . .

 Wine industry, researchers and educators mark milestone with MOU:

Three institutions offering wine and viticulture courses have signed an agreement that will see them collaborate on research and student learning with the Marlborough Research Centre and Marlborough-based Bragato Research Institute.

The Memorandum of Understanding brings together tutors and students from Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawkes Bay, Otago Polytechnic, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, whose Budge St campus also houses Bragato’s research winery, as well as the Marlborough Research Centre.

MRC Chief Executive Gerald Hope says the MOU is another milestone towards the development of the campus as the national centre for wine-making and viticulture, following on from the opening of the Bragato research winery in February. . .


Rural round-up

21/06/2020

NZ primary sector the fuel for the post pandemic engine room:

Bank of New Zealand’s (BNZ) Shift Happens Agribusiness survey reveals a significant change in the mindset of New Zealand primary producers with the vast majority excited about the primary sector’s prospects post COVID-19.

The survey, conducted before and during the COVID-19 lockdown, found a marked shift in mindset of New Zealand’s primary producers whose pre-COVID-19 outlook improved from 58% positive about the opportunity to embrace a new future for their agribusiness, to 89% being excited about their pivotal role in supporting the New Zealand economy.

BNZ’s Shift Happens Agribusiness survey also found: . . 

Some farmers get banned gun rights – Neal Wallace:

Select farmers now have the right to use prohibited firearms for pest control but there are warnings access to new weapons and spare parts could be restricted and the cost inflated.

Alexandra pest controller Robert Andrews is unsure he will be able to get spare parts such as rifle barrels, with one importer telling him it will no longer be involved because the market has shrunk.

“We are only looking at probably 300 commercial users with semi-automatics for pest control and they may have two or three firearms each and then factor in the part-timers so I would guess we are talking maybe 1000 to 2000 prohibited firearms nationwide.”

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners estimates 170,000 now-prohibited weapons were imported in the last 10 years. . . 

Index points to greener herds – Richard Rennie:

Genetics company LIC is providing a tool for farmers wanting to consider their herd’s gas and nitrogen footprint when breeding replacements. Environment and welfare manager Tony Fransen spoke to Richard Rennie about its new HoofPrint index and how it could help make herd environmental footprints lighter.

LIC’s annual genetics catalogue showcasing farmers’ bull options for breeding will this year include an extra column amid the usual production and economic traits. 

The HoofPrint index ranks its sires’ estimated ability to breed greener daughters that produce less nitrogen and methane.

“The objective was to determine how we can quantify the role genetics has had in achieving environmental gains over the last 20-30 years and, from that, estimate what the cow 20-30 years from now will look like,” Fransen said. . . 

Tenure review submitters highlight access :

Access is at the forefront of submissions on a tenure review of New Zealand’s largest high country station.

Many of the more than 30 submissions on a preliminary proposal developed for Northern Southland’s Glenaray Station, home to more than 60 threatened species and 15 rare plants, are focused on access.

Under the preliminary proposal, 38,000ha would become public conservation land, 13,400ha freehold subject to conservation covenants, and the remainder of the 62,000ha station freehold without conditions.

Submitters included Otago Conservation Board, Southland District Council, Game Animal Council and other individuals. . . 

North Canterbury farm wins two accolades in national dairy competition

A North Canterbury farm has clinched two awards in the national final of a major dairy cow breeding competition.

Almost 700 cows from 95 farms were entered in this year’s Holstein Friesian NZ Semex On Farm Competition.

Sherraine Holsteins, of Ohoka near Kaiapoi, won the two-year-old class and the veteran cow class.

“We are thrilled. The line-up of cows in this year’s national final was outstanding, so to take out two classes was exciting,” said Olivia Cahill. . . 

DCANZ welcomes launch of NZ-UK FTA negotiation:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the launch of free trade agreement negotiations between New Zealand and the UK as a positive development in the trade agenda.

“A high-quality and comprehensive FTA between the UK and New Zealand will further strengthen the historic and close relationship between our two countries” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey

“At this time, when we are seeing a number of countries revert to trade protectionist policies and subsidies, it is heartening to see like-minded countries like New Zealand and the UK showing leadership on trade issues”.

Currently, the UK is only a small market for New Zealand dairy exports, accounting for 0.08% of New Zealand’s dairy exports in 2019. This is despite the fact that the UK is one of the world’s largest importers of dairy products. . . 


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