Rural round-up

11/02/2021

Southland farmers nervous about proposed 15 percent livestock reduction – Logan Savory:

Southland farmers are wary about what impact a reduction of livestock numbers will mean for the agriculture sector in the south.

A Climate Change Commission report has been released which outlines the draft plan to cut New Zealand’s emissions.

Included in the draft plan was the national reduction of livestock by 15 percent by 2030. Exactly how that reduction will be rolled out is not clear.

Paul Turner, who farms between Wreys Bush and Mossburn, when asked, for an example, what a 15 percent reduction might mean on his farm, he replied it would mean losing about 300 cows, which in turn would see about $1m drop out of the economy. . . 

Climate focus highlights the need for water – Vanessa Winning:

We should no longer be afraid of the conversation about water storage, dams, and reservoirs in the right places, as they are necessary for a sustainable, inclusive, productive and decarbonised economy, chief executive of Irrigation NZ Vanessa Winning writes.

It has been hot, very hot, especially in the central north island, Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago areas.

Then it was cool – still dry for most of us, but temperatures dropped a minimum of 10 degrees in the space of 24 hours in the height of summer.

Southerlies have settled into the lower North Island and we may get a storm next week in the South. Climate scientists tell us that these swings are expected to get more extreme all year round. . .

From The Ridge: you don’t get something for nothing – Steve Wyn-Harris:

We had a mini heatwave like many of you last week.

Over a few days, temperatures sneaked into the low 30s and working in the afternoon heat felt like you were in a furnace.

My thermometers are in well-shaded spots, so I’m doubtful about the claims of 40C from near here.

However, I do know that some of you had official recordings in the high 30s, so I guess I have little to complain about.

I made sure I drank plenty of water as I toiled in the afternoon sun, but it was surprising how thirsty I still was in the evenings and despite topping up, the body sucked it up, as little piddling was going on. . . 

Sheep milking to be showcased :

Matt and Tracey Jones will display their sheep milking operation tomorrow at Strathclyde Stud, in an open day event at Kirwee.

Sheep Milk New Zealand will join with the Joneses in running the open day at Tuscany Downs on West Coast Road, from 1pm.

There will also be industry speakers — able to highlight an industry capable of generating $250million in sheep milk export products by 2024, and which is already generating profitability for farmers in the North Island — and sheep milking demonstrations on show.

The Joneses started farming East Friesians in 2011 and established Strathclyde Stud in 2012, after a career in traditional sheep farming practices. . . 

Smash – dairy workshops for everyone – Yvonne O’Hara:

Smash is holding its first workshop in the southern region.

Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (Smash) was originally formed for farmers “at the smaller end of things”, with about 300 cows or fewer, organiser Will Rolton said.

However, the information delivered at its workshops was often also relevant to those with larger herds and all dairy farm owners, sharemilkers and contract milkers were welcome to attend the free workshops. . .

Chatham High School welcomes rare Tarentaise cattle – Lucy Kinbacher:

A Taree agriculture teacher is not only excelling in the classroom but becoming a key figure in keeping a number of near extinct cattle breeds alive.

Yan Kleynhans of Chatham High School has a strong passion for rare domesticated animals and recently managed to secure seven of the last 14 known Tarentaise cattle in the country for his crop of enthusiastic students.

The Tarentaise will join a Drakensberger heifer (also one of a handful left in the country), five Limousins and commercial cattle that run across the school property and another 141 hectares (350 acres) of agistment. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/11/2020

‘Frustration and desperation’ as harvest workers struggle to enter NZ – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural contractors and farmers are “beside themselves with frustration and desperation” at the log jam in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, despite 100 new rooms being made available on Monday.

Rural Contactors chief executive Roger Parton said in a statement that the industry was at crisis point trying to get sufficient labour into the country, after suffering a series of delays and setbacks already.

The Cabinet approved 210 border exemptions for rural contractors in September but many have not yet made it in.

Parton said that unless more managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities were made available urgently only one third of workers approved by the Cabinet would make itto New Zealand. . . 

Likely reduction in overseas travellers picking blueberries in Southland – Jamie Searle and Jo Mckenzie-Mclean:

A blueberry farm manager is hopeful he’ll get 100 workers needed to pick this summer’s crop but with borders being closed the usual tourists are scarce to hire.

Blueberry Country Southland general manager Simon Bardon said up to 100 extra staff could be needed during the six-week season, starting in early to mid-January, at the company’s farm near Otautau.

“We are facing challenges [to get workers] but every business in New Zealand is facing its own challenges.

“Covid-19 has made us all nervous, it’s changed the environment.” . . 

Challenges of new job ‘invigorating’ – Sally Rae:

Sirma Karapeeva began her new role as chief executive of the Meat Industry Association on April 9 this year — “slap bang in the middle of Covid”.

While the timing might have appeared a little unfortunate, there was no choice and she took it in her stride.

“To be honest, in crisis comes resilience and creativity and energy,” she said.

It was fortunate Ms Karapeeva had worked in the organisation for five years and knew its membership well. . . 

Genetic diagnosis life-changing – Yvonne O’Hara:

Allesha Ballard feels like her life is on hold as she waits for a date for surgery to have her stomach removed.

As she waits, life on a Southland dairy farm has become even more important.

The Dacre contract milker decided on the operation after she and her two siblings tested positive for the inherited cancer-causing gene CDH1.

She and her brother, Josh Ballard, and sister, Melissa Thompson, had watched a programme about singer Stan Walker, who had inherited the gene and later developed stomach cancer, then had his stomach removed.

Their father, Bryce Ballard, had died from stomach cancer nine years earlier. . . 

Applications open for 2021 Meat Industry Association scholarships:

Students considering a future career in New Zealand’s red meat sector are encouraged to apply for a Meat Industry Association Scholarship.

Six undergraduate scholarships providing $5,000 a year for each year of study and four post-graduate awards of $10,000 a year for each year of study are awarded to the successful applicants.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said the awards are aimed at scholars who are looking to contribute their skills to New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Our scholarships provide a great pathway for undergraduate or graduate students into what is a productive, innovative and progressive sector. There are significant and exciting opportunities for young people.” . . 

Lambpro ram sale becomes highest grossing single vendor Australian stud sale -Lucy Kinbacher:

The Lambpro prime lamb brand cemented itself in the seedstock record books last week as the highest grossing single vendor beef or sheep studstock sale in the country.

In a year when the supply of sires has struggled to keep up with buyer demand, Holbrook’s Tom Bull and his team didn’t struggle to clear just over 1200 ram lambs across two days for an overall average of $3295 and gross of $3.977 million.

On Thursday 304 of 327 terminal and Lambpro Tradie rams sold to average $1459 before auctioneer Paul Dooley and Elders agent Ross Milne raced through 903 Primeline Maternal rams in four hours on Friday to average $3913 and top at $15,000 to Buckley Farms, Mt Gambier, South Australia.

Sometimes it took them just 40 to 50 seconds to sell individual lots. . . 


Rural round-up

03/10/2020

Green bureaucrats pushing our farmers to the brink – Nick Cater:

While it would be foolish to judge a movie by its trailer, the Australian-made feature film Rams is looking like a parable for our times. It is a battle between bureaucrats and two honest, hardworking farmers played by Sam Neill and Michael Caton, heavily disguised behind beards.

When inspectors discover a single sick ram they respond by seizing every sheep in the valley. Neill and Caton resist by hiding their breeding stock in their homes, covering their tracks with copious quantities of air freshener.

Let’s hope it ends happily, unlike in real life, when a farmer caught in the sights of the farming police is generally on a hiding to nothing.

Late last year the National Farmers Federation set the laudable goal of increasing the value of farm production from about $60bn a year to $100bn a year by 2030. Good luck. The regulators and their enforcers have other ideas. Their intention is to limit the expansion of farming and, if possible, force it into retreat, turning farmers from food producers into unpaid stewards of native trees and grasses. . . 

Big costs for freshwater compliance – Neal Wallace:

Meeting new freshwater regulations will cost landowners $900 million and another $140m a year in annual compliance costs and loss of profits.

Farmers Weekly has collated forecast costs from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) in the Action for Healthy Waterways policy, which variously came into force from September 3.

Fencing 32,000km of waterways to meet new stock exclusion, regulations will cost farmers $773m, while the loss of production on the 19,000ha lost from the three-metre riparian setback is estimated at a further $17m.

The MfE calculates fencing costs at $5/m for dairy, $14/m for sheep and beef and $20/m for deer. . . 

Crown land limits harm NZ branding – Philip Todhunter:

“Our primary sector is such a huge part of our economy and our brand.”

So said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on July 7, announcing the launch of a plan to help farmers “to fetch more value, create more jobs and bolster our green reputation”.

Sixteen days later, her Land Information Minister introduced a Bill that threatens the economic future of a collection of farms that embody Brand New Zealand; compromises the ability of those farms to provide the raw materials that underpin some truly global labels; and puts at risk the long-term environmental wellbeing of the land it is supposed to protect.

A week, as they say, is a long time in politics.

Currently, 1.2million hectares of the South Island comes under the Crown Pastoral Lease regime. These are not the type of leases that cover a house or commercial building: while they have 33-year terms, they are perpetually renewable, meaning the leaseholder enjoys exclusive possession of the land indefinitely. . . 

Proud to reach 30 year milestone – Mary-Jo Tohill:

On Christmas Eve 1989, two Earnscleugh orchardists walked into an Alexandra lawyer’s office — and walked out with an irrigation scheme.

There were two key players in ‘Team Tony’; Tony Banks, the 2016 recipient of the Ron Cocks Memorial award for outstanding leadership in the irrigation industry, and Earnscleugh Irrigation Company managing director Tony Lepper.

These were the days when landowners were promised a new, fully piped irrigation scheme, through the Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act 1982, and when the Government was divesting itself of irrigation schemes.

“By 1986, $21million was touted for an Earnscleugh upgrade, but the settlers [the landowners] said they couldn’t afford $677 per hectare,” Mr Lepper said. . . 

Spring surprise – Neal Wallace:

A rapid thaw has eased the worst effects of this week’s storm, which blanketed much of Otago and Southland in snow and caused lamb losses described by some farmers as the worst ever.

Actual losses will not be known until tailing, but Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young expects the storm will reduce his lambing percentage by 5%.

His Cattle Fat Station property is in the area hit by the heaviest snow, which encompasses Waikaka, Waikaia and West Otago hill country areas, where lambing was under way.

Coastal South Otago and the southeast corner of Southland were also hit hard. . . 

Gutsy fight: Livestock agent Mike Wilson shares his story of survival to help save others in the bush – Lucy Kinbacher:

Most people know Mike Wilson as the bloke at the bull sale with a pen in his hand and notepad in his back pocket.

He takes a seat on the bottom row of the grandstand, a strategic position where the auctioneer can see his subtle, yet impactful bids.

There’s a couple of buyers cards wedged inside his catalogue and he wears a vest, even when the weather is a little warm.

On the outside you’d hardly think there was anything different with the 70-year-old livestock agent. . . 


Rural round-up

08/07/2020

Let them eat wood – Dame Anne Salmond:

The farmers are right. As the price of carbon rises, the settings in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will make it more profitable to plant pine trees than to grow food (or native forests) in many parts of New Zealand.

On the East Coast, for instance, a landowner will be paid 10 times more by year 5 for planting pine trees instead of native forest, and farmland is going under pine trees in many places. With wool prices at historic lows, and rising carbon prices, this trend will only accelerate.

On highly erodible soils, the folly of planting shallow-rooted pine trees and clear-felling them every 25-30 years is obvious. Witness the tsunami of logs and sediment that have drowned streams, rivers, houses, fields, beaches and harbours in places like Tolaga Bay, Marahau, and many other parts of New Zealand.

With two-thirds of the forestry industry owned overseas, like the logs, the profits are exported, but the costs remain behind. Ravaged landscapes, wildling pines, roading networks wrecked by logging trucks, workers killed and injured in the forests. . . 

Farmer’s pitch to big biz: My land, your trees, planet’s gain –  Jo Lines-MacKenzie:

One farmer’s novel pitch to big firms to use her land for carbon offset tree planting is being touted as a win-win for both the business and agricultural sectors.

Federated Farmers says the idea could catch on and they could be the organisation to make it work.

The idea has been sparked by King Country farmer Dani Darke who posted a proposal on social media to offer up 10 hectares of her own land to plant native trees.

She pitched the idea to Air New Zealand, Genesis Energy, Contact Energy, Z Energy, and anyone else who wanted to participate. . . 

Strath Taieri the new food bowl of New Zealand – Sally Rae:

Strath Taieri is a traditional farming district, best known for sheep and beef cattle. But an irrigation proposal being mooted has the potential to see it diversify into other areas, including horticulture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Strath Taieri — the new Food Bowl of Dunedin?

That’s what the Strath Taieri Irrigation Company (STIC) believes could happen if the Taieri Catchment Community Resilience Project wins approval.

It is a project that has been talked about for decades but which, in recent times, has gained momentum, with an application for funding made to the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. Without reliable water, the future for the district would be bleak, STIC said.

And by bringing more irrigation water to the area and ensuring certainty of supply, there was potential for diversification of the traditional sheep and beef farming area into the likes of horticulture, as well as increasing productivity within existing farming operations. . . 

Direction of horticulture industry aligns with Fit for a Better World:

Horticulture New Zealand says the horticulture industry’s future focused strategies align well with what is proposed in Fit for a Better World

‘Horticulture is already well into the journey that has been identified and proposed in these reports, and this journey will continue,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Immediately post lockdown, our entire industry – comprising more than 20 different fruit and vegetable product groups – got together with key government departments to develop and implement a strategy and work programme that will see horticulture spearhead New Zealand’s economic and social recovery from Covid.

‘We are encouraged to see that the proposal identifies a key opportunity to accelerate the horticulture industry’s development, which fits perfectly with our own work. . . 

Low-methane ‘elite’ sheep breeding project finds success – AgResearch scientist – Eric Frykberg:

Low methane appears to be a breedable trait that does not affect economic value in sheep, and could lead to a cumulative 1 percent reduction in emissions each year, farmers have been told.

AgResearch scientist Suzanne Rowe told a webinar organised by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Council that research into such animals had been going on for a decade.

Rowe said a study of 1000 sheep divided into high emitting and low emitting animals found these traits were passed on to successive generations.

“After three generations we have 11 percent less methane per kilogramme of feed eaten,” she said. . . 

Bingara producers turn to embryos to breed back out of drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

Bingara producer Rhonda King and her 86-year-old father Alf were steaming ahead with their Speckle Park herd when back-to-back droughts crippled their momentum.

In January they had made the decision to sell the final remnants of their 300-head herd at Doctors Creek when rain came not long after and saved them from the decision.

With cattle prices soaring to record levels Ms King opted to use her lifetime travel savings to purchase embryos rather than replacement livestock and is hoping to breed her way back into business.

Their herd currently consists of about 90 Speckle Park including cows, heifers and bulls with an additional 11 Angus recipients purchased from another stud. . . 


Rural round-up

25/02/2020

The only way forward for farming is to do it together as a country – Daniel Eb:

Dad and I had an argument recently.

We’re fencing off a stream on the farm soon and I want to include a patch of bush in the job. 

We traded reasons for and against. “It’s good for biodiversity, there’s no feed in there anyway”.

“The stock need the shelter, we’re already losing grazing around the stream.” . .

 

Elle Perriam and Harriet Bremner join forces to empower Canterbury farmers :

Two young rural women who have a friendship with a difference will make their first public appearance together in a bid to change the way those in the rural sector think.

Elle Perriam, founder of Will To Live, and Harriet Bremner, children’s author and safety campaigner have both lived through tremendous grief, suffering the loss of both of their partners.

With a bond shared through their deep grief, love of dogs, horses, farming and passion for people – the duo are pairing up for the first time to tell their stories, hosting an event at the Rolleston School Auditorium on March 2. . . 

How China became NZ’s number one trading partner – Jamie Gray:

China’s coronavirus outbreak has delivered a fast, sharp shock to the New Zealand economy.

From tourism to the meat trade, the disease has highlighted just how reliant New Zealand has become on China.

In less than a decade, the People’s Republic has come to dominate nearly all New Zealand’s major merchandise exports.

Already, some economists are saying the virus – officially named Covid-19 – and a local drought could tip New Zealand into recession this year. . . 

Bovis eradication still realistic – Annette Scott:

Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is proving realistic, M Bovis Programme communications manager Joe Stockman says.

But it is highly unlikely how it got here will ever be known.

Addressing a large gathering of farmers, rural professionals and community leaders in Oamaru on Wednesday Stockman said there’s confidence in a successful eradication.

M bovis is not right across New Zealand, making eradication feasible.

“The current spread is very limited to the movement of infected animals. . . 

New face for meat body :

Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva is the organisation’s new chief executive.

She succeeds Tim Ritchie, who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Before joining the association in 2015 Karapeeva held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles at the Ministries for Primary Industries, of Business, Innovation, and Employment and Economic Development. 

She said the red meat sector is operating in an increasingly complex environment and faces a number of challenges domestically and internationally. . . 

NZ’s ‘largest one-day show’ is coming:

The Mackenzie A&P Highland Show will be held on Easter Monday.

Described by organisers as the largest one-day show in New Zealand, the event at Mackenzie A&P Showgrounds is expected to draw up to 15,000 people.

Organising secretary, Jodi Payne is promising visitors there will be “plenty to see”. . . 

Northern NSW beef producers show faith in future wool industry – Lucy Kinbacher:

A growing number of cattle producers looking for a quick turnover and restocking option after recent rain are entering the wool game and building their own Merino flock.

The new players to the Merino game are doing battle with established wool growers who are also ditching their sideline cattle herds to reestablish their traditional sheep carrying capacity.

Narrabri-based couple Jon and Claire Welsh may be fifth generation cattle producers but their newly acquired the 930 hectare (2300 acre) Guyra property, Oban View, is being stocked with a Merino flock. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/01/2020

‘Tragic start’ to 2020: Six deaths on NZ farms in six days – Eleisha Foon:

Six people have died in workplace incidents on New Zealand farms in six days this year

The latest death came today when one person died in a quad bike crash on a Wharepuhunga farm, south of Cambridge.

Another death earlier this week included a 67-year-old man who died when the tractor he was driving rolled down a bank at the Goldfields Mining Centre near Cromwell on Wednesday. . .

Farmers take the lead – Sandra Taylor:

Two Rangitikei farmers are driving a bottoms-up approach to improving water quality in their region by encouraging and empowering farmers and their communities to work collectively to address water quality issues.

Roger Dalrymple, who farms Waitatapia Station, a large-scale mixed cropping operation near Bulls and Taihape sheep and beef farmer Mark Chrystall, were instrumental in setting up the Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective (RRCC) two years ago. This group acts as an umbrella organisation for community catchment groups based around three major river systems in the region. Collectively these groups involve at least 250 farmers and numerous other community stakeholders.

Roger, who like Mark is a passionate environmentalist, says over the past 100 years, everything about environmental management has been driven from the top down and it is a model that has failed. . . 

Trade Secrets makes its predictions for 2020 – Alan Beattie :

Happy new year and all that. Now, where we were? Ah yes, indefinite global trade tension and Brexit.

Making predictions is the done thing around this time of year, and we’re not unknown for sticking our necks out. So in today’s newsletter we give you ours (or at least this particular writer’s) for events in the trade world.

We plead in mitigation that predicting trade politics, particularly the timing of events, is difficult at the best of times given the interminable bureaucratic processes involved. And these days we have Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, possessing respectively no consistent decision-making criteria at all and a genius for unacknowledged U-turns. Also, Iran. Sometimes it feels like you might as well be betting on raindrops running down a window. Be kind to us if some of these forecasts turn out wrong. Our chart of the day looks at something which definitely did happen, namely the slump in trade between South Korea and Japan last year. . . 

Students push rural health work – Colin Williscroft:

Nursing students joined medical students late last year on a tour designed to promote rural health careers to pupils in rural schools.

Third-year Wellington nursing students Rachael Rowe, Lagisi Wirangi, Katrin Scott, Laura Winter and Mickey Walker took part in a five-day trip through Wairarapa and Central Hawke’s Bay to Napier and back to encourage country children to consider medical and health careers.

It was the first time nursing students took part in the tour, Whitireia Polytech nursing programme manager Leanne Pool said.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to promote nursing as a career choice to young people.” . . 

Reading to Reporoa – Sophie Barnes:

When Alexandra Lond began studying English Literature in 2012, the thought that, seven years later she’d be in Reporoa, New Zealand, managing an 800-cow herd would never have crossed her mind.

English woman Alex’s route into farming began while studying at Reading University. She befriended agricultural students during hockey practice, after hearing all the farming chatter “made me want to know more.”

A friend put her in touch with Sally Manford, of Hinxdon Farm, in Kent, and volunteered her way into a job.

“I spent two months shadowing the milker, working for free, before heading to my day job in town,” she says. . . 

Sticky wicket for honey producers – Richard Rennie:

Honey producers face a season of lean returns as prices plunge to well below break-even, leaving some having to decide if this year’s crop is even worth harvesting.

Beekeeping Incorporated president Jane Lorimer said prices for bulk honey have dropped to $3.50 to $4 a kilo, well down on the $6-$7 a kilo needed to break even on production costs.

Lorimer, a Waikato producer, said she has been lucky also having income generated through kiwifruit pollination, which will be a valuable side income. . . 

DairyNZ to host Farmers Forum

DairyNZ will hold a series of farmer meetings over the next two months to help participants better understand what is driving changes in the sector and how to respond.

The Farmers Forum 2020 programme kicks off in Northland on February 18. Events will follow in Waikato, Southland, Taranaki and Canterbury.

The events are free DairyNZ levy players and their staff. DairyNZ says farmers will get updated on regional and national policy development, latest science and an overview of the industry body’s activities. . .

Leading livestock photographer Ben Simpson shares his favourite photos – Lucy Kinbacher:

Have you ever seen a bull dance?

If you’ve got a paddock of stud sires, chances are you have. But it isn’t until you look behind the lens of Ben Simpson’s camera that you truly notice the ballroom spectacular taking place.

Dancing with Bulls is one of the many moments captured by this globally recognised photographer that the average human would probably fail to see.

When Ben was encouraged by a mate to buy his first Pentax camera while living in America, little did he know it would shape the rest of his life. . . 


Rural round-up

07/11/2019

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

09/10/2019

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

29/09/2019

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

06/04/2019

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

04/12/2018

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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