Rural round-up

June 9, 2016

Five-year deal ‘huge’ for fine wool sector – Sally Rae:

“A breath of fresh air for fine wool” is how Central Otago farmer Bevan McKnight describes a $45 million deal between Italian textile company Reda and the New Zealand Merino Company.

Under a five-year contract to source fine wool from NZM, 2500 tonnes will be shipped to Italy to fuel the growth of Reda’s high-end suiting fabrics and active product ranges.

Mr McKnight and his wife, Tiffany, of Merino Ridges, in the Ida Valley, were ‘‘absolutely” passionate about merino sheep. . . 

Farmer buoyed by support – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille has suggested a pilot programme involving the University of Otago, Ministry for Primary Industries and himself, in an attempt to keep selling his milk.

Mr MacNeille and his wife Alex have been inundated with support from customers and the public since being ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on their property above Careys Bay.

For at least three years, he has been working with the university, supplying milk to use in an electronic milk purifier. Unlike regular pasteurisation, which heated milk to “crazy” temperatures and then cooled it, the machine did not heat the milk. . . 

South Canterbury deer farms join forces for feed for profit project – Pat Deavoll:

Martin Rupert of Mt Peel and Dave Morgan of Raincliff Station have teamed up in a DEEResearch funded project aimed at giving South Canterbury deer farmers the chance to pool skills, knowledge and experience.

The focus farms have informal field days allowing participants the opportunity to discuss shared issues. 

“It’s pretty basic. The theme is “feed to profit.” We all have to feed stock well to make a profit,” said Morgan. . . 

 Driving force behind wildlife sanctuary – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Andrew Lowe’s passion for conservation has seen him named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He was the driving force in the establishment of the 2500ha Cape Sanctuary wildlife restoration project at Cape Kidnappers.

It enabled the re-introduction of endangered wildlife species that once flourished at the Cape and Ocean Beach, and contains the greatest diversity of native birds on mainland coastal New Zealand. . . 

Fonterra Eltham – Filling Billions of Burgers World-Wide:

Fonterra today celebrated the official opening of its new slice on slice cheese expansion at Eltham, with the plant now able to produce enough cheese to fill more than three billion burgers each year.

The expansion opening, which was attended by Fonterra farmers, staff, iwi and central and local government representatives, was officiated by Whanganui MP, Hon. Chester Borrows and South Taranaki District Council Mayor Ross Dunlop, along with Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings, Director David MacLeod and Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway.

The first cheese marks the successful completion of the 10 month build to install two new lines that will double the site’s sliced cheese production. The new individually wrapped sliced cheese line was completed last year. . . 

Brushing up on first aid down on the farm – Joyce Wyllie:

“Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah…Staying Alive” is the rhythm to play in the mind while remembering guidelines for CPR compressions and breaths.

Who would have thought the Stayin’ Alive disco song by the Bee Gees would have a place on the farm?

The action plan acronym “DRS. ABCD” jogs the memory for action in an emergency situation.  First ensure there is no Danger to patient, self or bystander, check for Response, Send for help, then deal with Airways, Breathing, Circulation and finally D for Doctor.

All this and more will be familiar to those who have done a first aid course.  Jock and I had a day off the farm to brush up on these important skills and increase our confidence  dealing with a crisis. The others on the  training were mostly  farmers but also truck drivers, retired folk and young mums. . . 

Yili’s Oceania Dairy narrows full-year loss as production ramps up, sales surge – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Oceania Dairy, the South Canterbury-based dairy company owned by China’s Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, narrowed its annual loss as sales quadrupled from its processing facility at Glenavy.

The loss was $16.3 million in calendar 2015, from a loss of $17.6 million in 2014, the first full year for the company created in 2013. Revenue soared to about $141 million from $34 million a year earlier, according to Oceania’s financial statements. . . 

Leading New Zealand botanists honoured:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has presented New Zealand’s foremost botany award, the Loder Cup, to Neill and Barbara Simpson of Queenstown.

One of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, the Loder Cup recognises outstanding work to investigate, promote, retain and cherish the country’s incomparable native plant life.

“Neill and Barbara Simpson truly deserve to be honoured with the presentation of the cup at the Green Ribbon Awards tonight,” Ms Barry says.

“Their tireless work to protect native flora and get others involved in looking after it has been an almost life-long journey.

“They are an outstanding couple who have worked with extraordinary dedication, and represent the very best of the New Zealand conservation movement.” . . 

Canada’s dairy farmers say diafiltered milk from U.S. costs them millions – Lucas Powers:

Our wily neighbours to the south have figured out a clever way of not paying tariffs on a certain — let’s say “controversial” — commodity, and Canadian dairy farmers say it’s costing them hundreds of millions every year.

The product in question is called diafiltered milk.

Essentially, it’s milk that’s filtered, flushed with water, and then filtered a second time, with a few other steps along the way. The end product has a high concentration of protein, about 85 per cent, and very little of the fat and lactose that make up natural milk.

‘It’s a classic case of the right hand of the government doing one thing, and the left hand doing another.’
– Maurice Doyon, Laval University professor

The Canadian government allows it to cross the border without a tariff, because if it were dried into a powder, it would have the same amount of protein as the kinds of protein powders allowed to pass through tariff-free under trade agreements. . . 

Moving beyond pro/con debates over genetically engineered crops – Pamela Ronald:

Since the 1980s biologists have used genetic engineering to express novel traits in crop plants. Over the last 20 years, these crops have been grown on more than one billion acres in the United States and globally. Despite their rapid adoption by farmers, genetically engineered (GE) crops remain controversial among many consumers, who have sometimes found it hard to obtain accurate information.

Last month the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a review of 20 years of data regarding GE crops. The report largely confirms findings from previous National Academies reports and reviews produced by other major scientific organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization and the European Commission.

I direct a laboratory that studies rice, a staple food crop for half the world’s people. Researchers in my lab are identifying genes that control tolerance to environmental stress and resistance to disease. We use genetic engineering and other genetic methods to understand gene function. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 28, 2014

Martinborough winemaker receives conservation award:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has presented Clive Paton of Martinborough with the 2014 Loder Cup at a ceremony today, for his significant contribution to habitat restoration in New Zealand.

“Clive Paton is a remarkable individual and very deserving of being this year’s Loder Cup recipient. He is an inspirational example of somebody with drive, energy and a vision, who has woven conservation into his life,” says Ms Barry.

The Loder Cup is awarded and presented by the Minister of Conservation annually for outstanding achievements in flora conservation work.

Clive Paton ONZM is a respected conservationist and winemaker. Founder and co-owner of the Ata Rangi vineyard in Martinborough, he is a long-time supporter of “Project Crimson”, which restores New Zealand’s rata and pohutukawa trees. . .

 

Funding success will boost dairy environmental actions

A proven method of working with farmers to improve their environmental performance will be expanded and two new projects will start thanks to funding partnerships between dairy farmers and the Waikato River Authority.

Around $1.3 million of funding from the Waikato River Authority is being matched with $1.3 million from dairy farmers, funded through the levy they pay their industry body DairyNZ, to get the three environmental projects underway. . .

China’s crackdown on polluting tanneries, Russia sanctions drive record slump in lambskin prices – Tina Morrison:

Global lambskin prices have collapsed from the first quarter’s record highs, as a Chinese crackdown on polluting tanneries and Russian trade sanctions sapped demand.

The price for third-grade lambskins, a benchmark for leather garments, has fallen below US$50 per dozen from a record high of US$95/dozen in the first quarter of this year, according to Invercargill-based Alliance Group, the world’s largest processor and exporter of sheepmeat. The skins are currently fetching about US$45-$50/dozen with the price expected to decline to US$40-$45/dozen, the farmer cooperative said. Prices generally fluctuate between US$50-$70/dozen. . .

 

The Meat Workers Union has today urged the Select Committee hearing submissions on the Health & Safety Reform bill to strengthen provisions that protect the rights of workers to be involved and speak out, saying that it’s becoming increasingly unsafe to raise health and safety concerns in some companies.

In its submission to the committee, the union said the industry is one of New Zealand’s most dangerous, with a history of high injury rates and disease.

“In just the past few months, we’ve seen a worker with a hook through his scalp, another with a serious cut to his arm being left for three hours trying to find someone to take him to hospital and another group of workers exposed to fumigation chemicals” says Graham Cooke, National Secretary. . .

 

The Ministry for Primary Industries did not have sufficient evidence to lay charges following two animal welfare investigations into incidents at piggeries earlier this year.

The investigations involved incidents at piggeries in Christchurch and Kumeu. Both involved video footage gathered by a third party.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent said in both cases there was insufficient evidence to prove offences. . .

Third time’s a charm for Young Auctioneer:

PGG Wrightson auctioneer, Cam Bray proved that persistence pays off when he won the Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition held during the Canterbury A&P Show recently.

Eight auctioneers from throughout the country competed in the third year of the Competition, and Cam was pleased to take out the win after competing in all three years.

“It meant a lot to me to win the competition. Auctioneering is a big passion of mine and I hope the win leads to more opportunities.” . .

Selaks Celebrates 80 Year Heritage:

New ‘halo tier’ range of Founders wines launched

Respect for the brand’s creators and a celebration of its heritage are at the heart of the re-launch this month of a limited release range of Selaks Founders wines.

Re-introduced to commemorate the celebrated brand’s 80th anniversary, Selaks Founders Wines are a rare treat only previously produced in recognition of Mate Selak’s passing in 1991. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

September 14, 2013

More than 800 damaged irrigators:

IrrigationNZ says initial reports suggest more than 800 irrigators across Canterbury are severely damaged and will need to be repaired or written off following Tuesday’s big wind.

“The extent of damage to centre pivots and other irrigators across the region is unprecedented. This is an extremely serious situation as we simply don’t have enough parts to repair all of these machines in New Zealand. We’re looking at a six to eight week time lag before parts arrive and then a similar timeframe before repairs can be completed. If we experience a dry spring, the consequences could be dire for many Canterbury farmers as irrigation will effectively be stymied,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

Gavin Briggs, Owner of Rainer Irrigation, says his company alone is aware of 260 centre pivot spans lying on the ground and another 30 pivots across the region that have lost key components. He describes the situation as “a logistical nightmare”.

“It’s actually quite serious even though we’re still a couple of weeks away from the irrigation season starting. Many farmers don’t have back-up systems for effluent and were relying on centre pivots to do the job. It’s a disaster.” . .

Great support for Canterbury but it’s not over yet:

The past week has been devastating for South Island farmers and with a short sharp wintry blast hitting the far south of the South Island on Saturday, we are not out of the woods yet.

“This has been an overwhelming time for farmers they have taken a huge hit, being Canterbury’s worst wind storm in 40 years, this is likely to hurt them further down the track.” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson.

“The extent of the damage is still being accessed but it is likely to cost millions of dollars and a big part of that will be from over 800 irrigators being damaged. Water access is becoming a big concern and insurance companies are already receiving hundreds of claims. . .

Government’s helping hand for dairy reputation:

Federated Farmers thinks the new Market Connections Fund is an excellent initiative to help New Zealand businesses build back their relations with overseas customers.

“The dairy industry has some ground work to do after the fall out of Fonterra’s recall of product,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman.

“We know a number of dairy exporters have been affected by this. Many have had product stuck in ports, which is hardly their fault.

“Relationship building needs to be done face to face if it is going to mean anything and I know this is going to be a huge help to those who are serious about repairing the damage done. . .

Our future – Bruce Wills:

This year has been huge for agriculture. We have survived a drought and heavy snow, we have made huge in roads with local government and faced international scrutiny with trade and biosecurity. Despite it all we are still the ‘Silicon Valley’ of agriculture and well on track to reach the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector outputs by 2025.

With local elections here it has been a busy time for Federated Farmers. We have made a massive investment into communicating with regional and district councils, to get a balance between the social, cultural, environmental, and economic planning and outcomes.  This is vital not just for our industries but for all New Zealanders. We need to move forward together so the focus from local government needs to be balanced and fair.

The Minister of Trade, Tim Groser, recently referred to Agriculture being New Zealand’s ‘Silicon Valley’, which conjured up a real sense of optimism for the Federation and farmers alike. New Zealand really struggles with telling the good stories but we have every reason to be optimistic about our future in this country. Groser’s statement captures the reality that agriculture will be as important to New Zealand’s future as it has been to our past. Agriculture has remained the economic backbone of our country and will be for our trade future, the problem is New Zealanders have a bad case of tall poppy syndrome, so celebrating our strengths and successes can prove challenging. . .

Christchurch botanist awarded Loder Cup:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today presented the country’s most prestigious conservation award, the Loder Cup, to Christchurch botanist Nicholas Head.

“Nick Head is a very deserving winner of the country’s oldest conservation award. He has been a tireless advocate for Canterbury’s unique plant life, both through his professional work with the Department of Conservation and as a volunteer and advocate for numerous trusts and organisations,” Dr Smith says.

“His contribution has included extensive work in plant identification, guided field trips, public talks and advocacy for conservation before councils and the Environment Court. A particular benefactor of his work has been the unique plant life of the limestone areas of South Canterbury and the spectacular Mackenzie Basin.” . . .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2012

 

We’re the only protein production system that can say VISIT – Pasture Harmonies:

Forget the science, briefly, about our agriculture, even though that’s the wonderful legacy that has got us to where we are today.

Forget the rational.

Forget the food safety, the genetics of plants and animals, the fertiliser….all those things that are objective or measureable in their input and output.

For many of us, myself included, that’s a difficult thing. We’re programmed, almost obliged to look at the facts, to deal with what’s real.

Instead think emotions, hearts and minds, soul even when it comes to our farming.

Because that’s the trigger, hook, main consideration (even if they don’t realise it) for consumers. . .

Loder Cup awarded to Dunedin ecologist:

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has announced Dunedin Ecologist Dr Ralph Allen the 2012 winner of the prestigious Loder Cup for his outstanding achievements in plant conservation work.

A professional plant ecologist for 30 years with the former DSIR and then Landcare Research, Dr Allen has been pivotal in protecting thousands of hectares of native forest, shrublands, and coastal vegetation throughout Otago, Southland, and the Kapiti Coast.

“Dr Allen’s efforts have inspired others to cherish the native plants and ecosystems around them,” Ms Wilkinson says. . .

Very unlikely NZ bees have CCD

The National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand’s co-chief executive, Daniel Paul, doubts New Zealand is seeing the first signs of CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder).

Mr Paul was commenting on a NZ Herald article that indicated CCD may be occurring in NZ.

“It’s very unlikely,” he said.

“We’re probably seeing the effects of the increasing resistance to the treatments that are used to control the varroa mite and while that’s not unexpected, it is still a concern.” . . .

Last farmer out turn out the lights – Willy Leferink:

Here is a typical media scenario: anything to do with farming and water,they pull stock video of cattle shitting in water.

Instead of rational discussion on complex water policy, it is boiled down to images that yell stock exclusion. This misses the real story by the proverbial country mile.

Case in point was the 3News story about the Environment Court kicking the guts of independent hearings commissioners over Horizons One Plan. Now, these commissioners reached a quite different view in 2010 and after months of sitting through detailed evidence. On the evidence, they tended towards the arguments of Federated Farmers and those in the primary industries over that of the council

So did 3News show images of stream plantings, lysimeters and the marked improvement in dairy compliance? No, instead they showed beef cattle shitting into a river. . .

Ballance Supports Rural Leadership:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is backing a rural leadership programme to foster governance and business capabilities for women in the sector.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme is designed to build the skills already accumulated by rural women within their businesses and communities.

Ballance supports the Escalator programme through sponsorship of one of 14 places on the 10-month programme.

The recipient of the Ballance-supported spot is Ekatahuna sheep and beef farmer Lisa Sims. . .

Please ask dairy farmers to contribute to your research by using social media – Pasture to Profit:

Low input pasture based dairy farmers are generous with their practical information. In my experience they want to contribute to research that they help fund. However agricultural researchers rarely include farmers to the detriment of the research results & the practical usefulness of the project.

Farmers can easily respond through Facebook & Twitter networks greatly enriching research outcomes. Farmers are often the leading researchers in their field of expertise. Come on we all want good quality research outcomes so include farmers in your research team. . .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2011

Getting a slice of the dairy actionWilly Leferink:

For those who wish to ‘save our farms’ from foreign hands, I’m an immigrant. For others who view the cow as an environmental devil, I am a dairy farmer. To those who accuse corporate farmers of avarice, my family and I have interests in six farms. I just hope they’ll note ‘family’ in the last sentence. To those who accuse dairy farmers of tax evasion, I pay my taxes and employ people who do the same.

While I could recite economic numbers showing over a quarter of all exports are dairy, this tends to fly over the heads of many. Listening to the Herald’s Fran O’Sullivan on the radio recently, I was struck by her saying ‘people want a slice of the dairy action’. This was about ‘mum and dad’ investors getting their share in our biggest export industry. The argument is attractive, if somewhat idealised. There’s an assumption retail investors will collect dividends rather than selling their shares at the best possible price. This confounds my idea of what capitalism is . . .

Station wool deal with Japanese

 Mackenzie high country farmer is taking his merino wool straight to the Japanese market after securing a deal with a Japanese buyer that will turn his product into high-end fashion garments for wealthy consumers.

The agreement will see Maryburn Station owner Martin Murray supplying Japanese spinning company Nankai with 20 tonnes of his wool, which comprises about half of what he produces at his station in the Mackenzie Basin . . .

Tauranga horticulturist wins Loder Cup:

Tauranga horticulturalist Mark Dean has been awarded one of the country’s highest conservation honours, the prestigious Loder Cup for 2011, Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson announced today.

“Mark has made an outstanding contribution throughout his lifetime working in the horticulture industry specialising in native flora.

“He has spent much of the past 30 years inspiring others as an advisor, teacher and role model both within the horticulture industry and in community conservation projects.

“This prestigious Cup is awarded for outstanding service and commitment to the protection of New Zealand’s native plant species . . .  

Waning RHD effect spurs studySally Rae:

Recent research on possum control is being applied to rabbits.

The research programme was driven by the waning effectiveness of the rabbit-killing virus rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), with farmers increasingly having to rely on 1080 and pindone poisoning . . .

Farmer’s legacy of ingenuityMark Hotton:

It has been more than 40 years since Southlander Jack Pritchard came up with a simple solution to the annual problem of feeding orphaned lambs, but demand for his invention remains as strong as ever.

It is hard to know how many millions of his Pritchard flutter valve teat have been sold, but many farmers around the world will be familiar with the distinctive red rubber teat, which can be cut to adjust the feeding rate . . .

Fieldays king steps down after 20 yearsCeana Priest:

After two decades of guiding the National Fieldays to an international $500 million agribusiness event, general manager Barry Quayle has resigned.

Quayle, 56, will step down as head of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest field days and Mystery Creek Events Centre on November 1, saying he leaves behind a role that became his passion.

“I’m leaving with a sense of pride and recognising a lot of enjoyable days here,” he said. “It has become a passion and it gets into your blood. You live and breathe it.” . . .

Call to revive wool use in NZ:

As the international Campaign for Wool rolls on, the industry in New Zealand is looking to rebuild the demand for wool in its own back yard.

The latest step in the campaign to revive global interest in wool, the Wool Modern Exhibition, opened in London last week.

New Zealand products are featured in the exhibition which aims to break new ground in uses for wool by exhibiting work by leading fashion and interior designers . . .

Government, business and farmers to learn sustainability lessonsJames Houghton:

 I am astounded at some of the exorbitant prices being charged by some businesses now the Rugby World Cup is around the corner.

The World Cup may be a one off event, but treating it simply as a money grab is not sustainable thinking.

As a farmer and businessman myself, I am keen to see all industries operate a tight ship and turn a decent profit. However, farmers are starting to learn that business success in the long term is tied to sustainability and some stories of commercial greed in the news lately indicate not all industries have learnt that lesson. . .


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