Rural round-up

November 7, 2019

Canterbury farmer fears sheep and beef property might be turned into forest – Gerard Hutching:

Waimate sheep and beef farmer David Gardner is “gobsmacked” a government policy might see his property sold to an overseas investor and converted into pine trees.

Having reached retirement age, Gardner is looking to sell his 800-hectare Melford Hills farm, about 50 kilometres south of Timaru. He would prefer it remains as it is, but the likely buyer is a forest investor.

In fact he’s already spurned an offer that would see some of the property continue as a farm, and the balance as forestry. . .

Less fat on meat income – Alan Williams:

Scott Technology revenues have jumped in the last year but its automated equipment for meat processing plants played a lesser role.

Revenue from meat processing work for the year ended August 31 was $34.5 million, down from $45m a year earlier, as total revenue from the world-wide activities rose to $225m from $181.8m.

Some of the bigger overseas projects have been challenging and while the operating earnings were higher, at $20m from $19.3m, the after-tax profit fell to $8.6m from $10.77m.

Dunedin-based Scott Tech warned of those challenges in early July and chairman Stuart McLauchlan and managing director Chris Hopkins said the projects are now nearing completion. . .

Kea attack sheep in low numbers, study finds – Will Harvie:

Kea attacks on sheep have been measured for the first time.

About 0.5 per cent of sheep at five South Island high country farms were attacked by the alpine parrots, according to just published research by wildlife scientist and kea specialist Clio Reid and colleagues.

It was the first time “kea strike”, as these attacks are known, has been quantified, she said.

“This study showed that kea strike on sheep was occurring at a low prevalence on the high country farms surveyed. The wounds identified were survivable.” . .

NZ River Awards 2019 River Story finalist: Wharekopae River, Gisborne :

Cawthron is proud to be running the 2019 New Zealand River Awards. As part of the celebration, the River Story Award category sponsored by the Ministry for the Environment recognises interesting and compelling stories about individuals, businesses and communities working to improve the health of our rivers.

Each year Cawthron receives River Story entries that are representative of our collective desire to improve New Zealand waterways. The stories are inspirational projects that involve community collaboration, science and innovative ways to address freshwater-related challenges.

This year, eight stories were selected as finalists and from these, the judges have selected the top three. The work being done to restore Rere’s Wharekopae River catchment is our second story. . .

With the walls closing in, regenerative farming is a way forward for agriculture – Daniel Eb:

A quiet revolution is growing on New Zealand farms. As debates on water and emissions grind on, a new group of farmers are showing us the way forward – regenerating the land, and themselves, writes Daniel Eb.  

Mum has a saying: when you’re boxed into a corner, move the walls. It’s a reference to the two-sided nature of crisis – that in difficulty lies opportunity.

New Zealand agriculture is not in a crisis, but we all feel the tension rising. They’re a tough bunch, our farmers, but this wave of anger and pain in response to new freshwater and emissions proposals is a clear indication that they’re hurting. A recent morning radio show turned into a public, cathartic release for many Kiwi farmers who just wanted to be heard.

There’s a pervading sense that farming as we know it is under threat – that the walls are closing in. This is a global issue. Australian farmers are losing the fight against historic drought. American farmers are struggling, battling record flooding, reckless trade policy and the breakdown of the family farm way of life. Dutch farmers recently blocked motorways in protest against environmental reforms; some Kiwi farmers have called for the same. . .

Narrandera grower Nathan Heckendorf credits water saving product for reviving crop – Lucy Kinbacher:

A NARRANDERA grower has turned his harvest prospects around and retrieved up to 2.5 tonnes a hectare from his barley crop thanks largely to a water saving organic fertiliser.

Nathan Heckendorf, Top Reeds, Sandigo, was very skeptical when he heard about a product that could hold twice its weight in water and eliminate loss of water to a crop from evaporation or frosts.

Operating a 1600 hectare property, Mr Heckendorf planted 150ha of canola from April 20, 200ha of barley from May 10 and 1000ha of wheat from May 15, along with a summer crop of 70ha of maize. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 9, 2019

Extinction Rebellion should unglue their hands and reach out for the potential of gene editing technologies – Point of Order:

History was being made (we  were  told  by  mainstream media)  when  170,000  New Zealanders  took to  the streets to  demand  decisive  action  against  climate  change.  It capped a  week in which the  16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg dressed down a  summit in New York of world leaders:

“We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”.

That  apocalyptic   vision  was  clearly  shared  by  many young  New Zealanders: one Wellington student called on the government immediately to  cull the   country’s entire  dairy herd.

So   what   has   happened in the  fortnight  since? . .

Water rules’ outcome predetermined – Alan Emerson:

I joined more than 400 local farmers at the Ministry for the Environment consultation meeting in Carterton. 

In addition it was streamed to Federated Farmers members. It was an interesting experience.

The meeting started with MfE staff telling Wairarapa rivers are in good shape. 

They then went on to outline all the expenses to be foisted on us even though our rivers are, in their words, in good shape.

We were then told we need to manage our emotions and to be respectful of other attendees.

I’d suggest it’s not easy to manage your emotions when you are getting considerable costs foisted on you for no good reason. . . 

Kiwi clarity inspires import – Samantha Tennent:

Being a foreigner in a strange land is no barrier to progression in the dairy industry for one young woman from England. Samantha Tennent reports.

Nicola Blowey is the manager on 575-cow farm at Fairlie.

She was also the 2019 national winner of the Dairy Trainee of the Year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

She has found consistency and clarity across the NZ dairy sector compared to the diversity in Britain where farmers use grass in some way across their systems.

“Back home discussions don’t have the same clarity,” Blowey says. . .

Meat company still in limbo – Brent Melville:

About 160 seasonal workers at Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) are entering their fourth week off the job after the meat processor shut down the majority of its processing on September 13.

The unplanned closure followed the suspension of its access to China beef markets.

The North Otago company, owned by Chinese company BX Foods, said it had been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Chinese authorities to get more information.

OML director Richard Thorp, who had described the shut-down as a “temporary break in production”, said the plant had continued and about 20 staff had been retained for “non-China” processing. . .. 

Pioneer of Central Otago winemaking still in the business – Yvonne O’Hara:

Reverend Samuel Marsden did not know it, but when he planted the first grapevines in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, on September 25, 1819, he was indirectly introducing an industry that is now earning Central Otago millions of export dollars.

Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud introduced wine grapes into Central Otago in 1864 at Clyde, as did Alexandra businessman Thomas Oliver in the same decade.

They were also indirectly responsible for the modern vibrant wine industry in Central Otago.

There are now 135 wineries and 32 grape growers, producing wines that attract global accolades.

There is 1884ha planted in vineyards, of which 1502ha is planted in pinot noir, and last season the region produced 11,868 tonnes of wine grapes, New Zealand Wine Growers says. . . 

Minnesota farmers diversify into hemp production to stay viable – Lucy Kinbacher:

An American farming family are among a host of Minnesota growers taking up new hemp crops as prices for corn and soybeans tumble.

The Peterson family of Sever and Sharon, along with their son Aaron and his wife Nicola, operate about 445 hectares growing everything from corn, soybeans, pumpkins and apple trees, and are no strangers to business restructure.

Traditionally a truck garden vegetable farm in the early 20th century, they went on to dabble in wholesale production throughout the US and central Canada, roadside retail stores and even established Sever’s Corn Maze for added income. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 29, 2019

Meetings show farm frustration – Colin Williscroft:

High farmer turnouts at meetings trying to explain the Government’s freshwater proposals show the degree of frustration the sector is feeling, Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Robinson says.

Robinson, who attended a meeting a meeting in Napier that attracted 300 to 400 farmers and growers said he and just about everyone else there do not disagree with the proposals’ objectives. It is the approach causing frustration among farmers.

Frustration was also the overwhelming feeling at a meeting in Carterton, targeted specifically at farmers and growers, Farmers Weekly columnist Alan Emerson said. . .

Fonterra faces painful reality – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra has confirmed a farmgate milk price of $6.35/kg MS for last season while recording a net loss after tax of $605 million, an improvement on the forecast loss of up to $675m.

It had sales revenue of $20.1 billion, down 2% with operating expenses of $2.3b, down 7% and capital spending of $600m, down 30%.

Th co-op is reshuffling its management team with its global operations chief operating officer Robert Spurway the only casualty. Fonterra said he chose to leave to return to directly running a company.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell said 2019 was incredibly tough for the co-op but also the year Fonterra made decisions to set it up for future success. . .

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell: ,I knew 100% what I was getting in to’ :

Financial results media scrum over, two interviews with journalists down and a swag more scheduled, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell’s baby face is starting to take on some harder edges.

It’s been a marathon couple of months leading to Thursday’s formal presentation of the dairy cooperative’s grim annual results, tempered only slightly by the simultaneous unveiling of a bright and shiny new business strategy.

There are only so many times a man can smile while saying “mea culpa New Zealand”. . .

From city to country: Award-winning shepherd kicks career goals.

It’s a brisk winter’s night as Kristy Roa and her teammates jog onto a floodlit sports field in Gisborne.

The 20-year-old shepherd heads for the nearest goal, pulling on a clean set of goalkeeper’s gloves as she goes.

A whistle sounds and it’s not long before a muddy soccer ball is hurtling towards the left corner of the goal. . .

Farmers look after rare mudfish – Toni Williams:

Arable farmer Ian Mackenzie and his wife Diana, opened their Eiffelton property in Mid Canterbury to Foundation for Arable Research’s Women In Arable group, to have a close up look at how farming and environmental protection can work hand in hand.

Mr Mackenzie, a third generation farmer on the Akaunui Farm site, spoke about the efforts to help protect the endangered mudfish which live in the farm’s Purakaunui Creek.

The Mackenzies, even after more than 25 years dealing with mudfish on farm, were still learning about the rare breed, as there were few people who knew a lot about them. . .

Dubbo to host life facilitator Viv Adcock who can talk to animals including livestock – Lucy Kinbacher:

A life facilitator who says she can talk to animals will visit Dubbo in October to offer livestock producers an opportunity to better understand their animals needs.

Sunshine Coast based woman Viv Adcock will visit the property of Merino sheep breeders, the Coddington family, from October 11 to 13 to talk to their animals about a range of topics including nutrition, handling and welfare. Her work is based on building a connection with animals, along with using body language, to perceive an animal’s behaviour.

Ms Adcock said often failure to fall pregnant, lack of production or low yields for either meat or fleece were signals of bigger problems. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2019

FARMSTRONG: Putting people first comes first

A thriving Canterbury dairy farmer puts as much thought into looking after his staff as he does stock and pasture. 

Duncan Rutherford manages an operation with 14 staff, 2300 cows and some sheep and beef on a 3300-hectare property. 

He and his family are still dealing with the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. 

“It was a reasonable challenge all right. A couple of houses got fairly damaged and one is still being repaired.  . . 

Exporters’ Brexit concerns grow – Peter Burke:

New Zealand primary produce exporters’ concerns continue rising about the confusion in the British parliament over Brexit.

NZ’s agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says given the possibility of a no-deal, exporters are making contingency plans for such an event.

But they also still hope a deal will be agreed so they won’t have to trigger plans for a no-deal. The whole thing is a terrible mess, Petersen told Rural News last week. . . 

Young farming couple applauded for farm sustainability – Angie Skerret:

A farming couple applauded for their commitment to farming sustainability have a simple message for other farmers – make a plan and make a start.

Simon and Trudy Hales, of Kereru Farms, are one of eleven regional winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards – taking out the Horizons regional award.

The Hales are the fourth generation to farm the land, and have worked hard to make positive changes on their 970ha sheep and beef farm near Weber. . .

A2 Milk says lift in dairy prices may impact in FY2020 – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Company said recent increases in dairy pricing will have an impact on gross margin percentages in the 2020 financial year but it doesn’t anticipate any significant impact this year.

Dairy product prices rose for the ninth straight time in the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction. The GDT price index added 0.8 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago and average prices are now up 28 percent since the auction on Nov 20.

“We do not anticipate any significant impact to gross margin percentage during FY19 as a result of recent increases in dairy pricing as reflected in Global Dairy Trade Indices. . . 

Dairy industry tells EU ‘hard cheese’ – Nigel Stirling:

The dairy industry is digging its heels in over the European Union’s attempts to seize dozens of cheese names for the exclusive use of its own producers.

The EU has long sought to use its free-trade agreements to extend its system of Geographical Indications (GIs) and its trade talks with NZ have been no exception.

As part of the talks the European Commission has given NZ negotiators a list of 179 food names and hundreds more wine and spirit names linked to European places it says should be given legal protection over and above that provided by this country’s own system of GIs protecting names of wines and spirits introduced several years ago. . . 

Scott and Laura Simpson’s focus on data collection pays off in Inverell drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

SOME of the toughest decisions are made during unfavourable seasons but for Inverell’s Scott and Laura Simpson their efforts during the good times are making their management easier. 

The couple are into their fifth year of ownership of the 1700 hectare property Glennon, which was previously run by Mr Simpson’s parents. 

At the time they had a herd of Brangus content types so the pair moved to incorporate more Angus genetics and breed more moderate females.  . . 


Rural round-up

December 4, 2018

Superstar spotlights dairy efforts – Luke Chivers:

DairyNZ Environmental Leaders Forum chairwoman Tracy Brown has won a Sustainable Business Network award. She spoke to Luke Chivers about some of the challenges facing the rural sector.

Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown has been named a dairy sustainability champion for inspiring farmers to change on-farm practices, protect waterways, enhance biodiversity and lower their environmental footprints.

She was rewarded for her efforts by winning the Sustainability Superstar category at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

The award marks a momentous occasion for New Zealand’s primary industries, Brown says. . . 

Town folks love a good farm story – Pam Tipa:

‘A good story’ was a key motivator for fourth-generation Helensville farmers Scott and Sue Narbey to open their farm to the public.

The couple opened their farm as part of Fonterra’s Open Gates 2018 day.

“We entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and when we started writing down all the good things we were doing we thought we were doing a pretty good job,” Scott told Dairy News.

“And we were sick of hearing all the bad things and how people perceive dairy farms. . . 

A hand up or corporate welfare? – Andrea Fox:

Westland Milk Products, approved for a taxpayer-funded Provincial Growth Fund loan branded “corporate welfare” by some critics, says it would have been happy for the commercial terms to be disclosed but Government officials ruled them confidential.

The Westland dairy exporter, which in its 2018 annual report discussing a capital restructure said it had “relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility”, is to get a $9.9 million interest-bearing, repayable loan towards a $22 million manufacturing plant project to produce higher-value goods.

The annual report noted Westland’s cash flow for the year was below expectations, its milk payout to farmers was not competitive and “obtaining new capital would make a significant difference to the co-operative”. . . 

People need to be told ‘what wool is about’ – Sally Rae:

Education is the key to lifting the state of the wool industry, industry leader Craig Smith says.

Mr Smith, general manager for Devold Wool Direct, is a member of the Wool Working Group, which has been working on how to create a more sustainable and profitable sector.

Made up of 20 wool producers, processors and other industry representatives, it has been charged with developing a pan-sector action plan.

Earlier this year, Mr Smith was  the first New Zealander to be appointed to the global executive committee of the International Wool Textile Organisation, and he is also heavily involved with Campaign for Wool. . . 

Hill country’s development risks and opportunities:

Sheep and beef farmers are increasingly finishing stock on hill country forage crops and pastures, with a resultant drop in erosion risk.

But some farmers had difficulty assessing the potential environmental impact and the financial return of hill country development, due to the unpredictability of sediment loss and the costs.

This was discovered by studies done as part of the Sustainable Hill Farming Tool project (SHiFT), says Paul Hulse, of Environment Canterbury (ECan).

The SHiFT project is to tell landowners the best ways to address these concerns, says Hulse . .

Smartphone cattle weighing technology set to expand – Lucy Kinbacher:

A HUNGARIAN developed smartphone accessory is helping producers weigh their cattle without the use of any scales or yard infrastructure. 

Known as Beefie, the new technology allows producers to calculate their cattle weights in less than half a minute by attaching an external device to an Android 5.1+ smartphone and capturing a range of photographs.

Livestock are analysed from two to six metres away, even whilst in motion or partially obscured, with more than 5000 tests on animals producing a 95 per cent accuracy rate.  . . 

 


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