Rural round-up

08/10/2021

Post-1990 forest owners face complex decisions – Keith Woodford:

There are close on 400,000 hectares of non-registered post-1989 forests eligible to join the ETS. Once registered, many owners could within one year earn $7500 or more per hectare in historical credits back to 2018

 This is a further article in a series I have been writing exploring the issues of carbon farming.   The issues are important because we are on the cusp of massive land-use changes. These are driven by the current economics of carbon farming now being far superior to sheep and beef farming on most classes of land.

Carbon farming is part of a virtual market, called the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) in which there is no exchange of a physical product. As such, the ETS is controlled by Government rules and regulations, rather than by physical supply and demand factors.

The carbon farming component of this virtual market relates to post-1989 forests. These are forests on land that was not in forest on 31 December 1989 or in the immediately preceding years.   . . 

From ‘hopeless in the hills’ to hearty hunter – Tracey Roxburgh:

Partly, it’s the thrill of the chase. Mostly it’s spending hours alone in his backyard — the hills around Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes — that puts a smile on Lee Murray’s dial.

Originally from Cromwell, Mr Murray moved to Australia when he was about 11 after his father got a job there in the mines.

After attending high school there, he moved back to Cromwell when he was 17 and decided he wanted to get into hunting.

‘‘I used to try and tag along with the boys that were hearty hunters [such as] Duncan Stewart. He’s a really well-known hunter in the Central Otago region, and I was terrible,’’ the 36-year-old said. . . 

Vet labour shortage at crisis point, recruitment agency says – Sally Murhpy:

Some vet clinics around the country are closing down – because they can’t get enough staff – a recruiter says.

In June the government announced 50 general practice vets would be allowed to enter the country with a border exception – to help with the labour shortage.

But The New Zealand Veterinary Association says only two have arrived – a further 11 are waiting for a spot in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).

Chief executive Kevin Bryant said they were hearing from overseas vets that they were reluctant to start the visa process due to the delays they are seeing with the MIQ process. . . 

Sunsmart farming is smart farming :

Federated Farmers wants to remind farmers and growers this is a good time to be thinking about getting “sunsmart” for summer.

More than 4000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year, accounting for 80% of skin cancer deaths in New Zealand.

It has been estimated up to 25% of farmers and growers have had a skin cancer.

Farmers and growers are at higher risk of catching melanoma due to New Zealand’s UV radiation intensity, and the time they spend outside. . . 

Lanolin market driven by increase in end-use industries :

Lanolin Market Driven By Increase in end-use industries, such as personal care and cosmetics, baby care products, and pharmaceuticals.

The worldwide market research report Lanolin Market scrutinizes the market’s current trends and growth indicators from 2021 to 2030. The research gives a detailed analysis of global demand, developing trends that are affecting this demand’s potential.

This report covers a variety of crucial but different topics. Moreover, it studies the latest technologies that will influence the Lanolin market future and global acceptance. As efficiency-enhancing technologies are condemning for market progress, our research analysts spoke with key opinion leaders and Lanolin industry players to provide the clients with an extensive picture of the market’s potential. . . 

Experience Comvita’s story of innovation and connection at World Expo 2020 Dubai:

Comvita, global market leader in Mānuka honey, is celebrating the start of Expo 2020 Dubai, with its own Expo experience, including the launch of an immersive digital showcase, designed to create a global movement where bees, people and nature can thrive in Harmony.

Comvita is a member of the Care Collective, one of the key sponsors and suppliers of the New Zealand Pavilion and is proud to share its connection to the New Zealand Pavilion theme of Care for People and Place.

Comvita Group CEO, David Banfield, says “The concept of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship of nature, has been one of Comvita’s guiding principles from the day we were founded in 1974. So for us, there is a genuine sense of alignment and connection with that New Zealand theme, which really embodies our entire purpose as an organisation. . . 


Rural round-up

09/09/2021

We need to step up water resilience resourcing and leadership  :

News that development work on the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme has been halted should be deeply troubling to every resident of the Wairarapa, the region’s Federated Farmers President David Hayes says.

“Water storage is critical to the future of our towns and rural hinterland, to employment, production and the health of our rivers and wider environment.”
The Wakamoekau scheme was seen as a foundation block of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy.

“It’s highly concerning we have stumbled at the first step,” David said.
“I grew up in South Australia – the driest state on the driest continent. I’ve seen how severe water shortages undercut so many aspects of life.

“The Wairarapa must not underestimate the shock that climate change-accelerated lack of water will mean to our Wairarapa communities and to the environment. It is time to act! . . 

Grape shortage to hit winegrowers in pocket – Maja Burry:

The wine industry is bracing for two consecutive years of falling export revenue due to tight grape supplies.

Latest industry figures show in the year to June export value was down 3 percent to $1.87 billion, the first fall in export value in 26 years.

New Zealand winegrowers chief executive Phillip Gregan said the sector had experienced strong growth over a number of years, but it was now being constrained by a lack of supply.

“Despite the fact that we had a record harvest in 2020, our winery simply did not have the volume of wine available to them to support market growth for the whole for the whole year. And so we saw the first decline in wine exports.” . . 

Long hours at a busy time of year – Toni Williams:

Husband and wife Vincent and Rebecca Koopmans, like their farming peers, have been putting in some long hours during Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Mr Koopmans is a dairy farmer, near Methven, and Mrs Koopmans a primary school teacher reaching out to pupils about ongoing learning under Covid restrictions.

‘‘Although it is business as usual during lockdown and we are very proud to be an essential service, it’s not life as normal and lockdown does still add pressure on farmers,’’ Mr Koopmans said.

‘‘We are lucky to be in a position to continue working, and providing work for our team as well, but like everyone else we are hoping this [Covid] outbreak is contained soon.’’ . . 

Comvita partners with celebrity brand promoter Caravan:

Mānuka honey exporter Comvita is teaming up with one of America’s most powerful sports and entertainment agencies to market a new line of products.

Comvita has announced a new partnership with the US brand development company Caravan, which is a joint venture with talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which represents celebrities and sports stars such as Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Caravan helps high profile individuals build companies around their personal brands. . . 

Lockdown auction achieves record sale price :

The sale of a Tatua dairy supply farm has just set a new price-per-hectare record in the Waikato.

The rural property has also set an agency record as the most expensive property sold by Bayleys via live virtual auction since lockdown restrictions were put into place more than two weeks ago.

Alert level four lockdown restrictions didn’t allow Bayleys country real estate agent Mike Fraser-Jones much time to come to grips with the technological nuances of live virtual auctions. . . 

 

Property investors buzzing as honey warehouse up for sale:

The land and building housing the regional operations for one of New Zealand’s premier honey harvesting and retail companies has been placed on the market for sale.

The substantial site in the Waikato township of Te Awamutu features a 1,885-square metre building sitting on 5,226 square metres of freehold land zoned commercial 8A. The modern warehousing and administrative premises at 249 Bruce Berquist Drive is located in the heart of Te Awamutu’s industrial precinct – a wedge of properties between Bond Road and Te Rahu Road.

Leading New Zealand native honey harvesting and retail brand Manuka Honey occupies the rear 1,125-square metre portion of the building premises. The remaining 600 square metres of high-stud warehousing and 160 square metres of office space at the front of the property are currently vacant. . . 


Rural round-up

28/08/2021

Feds: Be targeted, not revolutionary, about RMA change –  Simon Edwards:

Federated Farmers has called for “extreme caution” in repealing or re-writing the Resource Management Act.

Targeted and focused change, rather than wholesale replacement, would provide the ability to make changes to address problems with the RMA whilst minimising the disruption to 30 years’ of case law, to councils, resource users and communities, Feds said a submission to the Environment Select Committee.

An independent economic assessment of the proposed Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) warns of higher costs and more uncertainty.

Federated Farmers commissioned Douglas Birnie, Director of Enfocus to assess the economic implications of the NBA, the first of three new pieces of legislation planned to replace the RMA. His assessment is that the resource management approach proposed in the NBA risks: . . 

Pāmu reports a 29 million after tax profit:

A strong year for its dairy and forestry portfolios has seen the state owned farmer, Pāmu, report a $29 million after tax profit.

The company which owns about 200 farms said total revenue was $250 million – with the milk cheque accounting for half of all farm operating revenue.

Chief executive Steve Carden said the company was still hit with covid-19 disruptions such as lower prices for some red meat categories.

But as a diversified farming business, its capacity to offset any downsides in year on year returns with upsides across other aspects of its portfolio is growing. . . 

Food-derived opioids are a medical frontier – Keith Woodford:

In late 2020, I was invited to write a paper on food derived-opioids for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, with a focus including effects on microbiota.  Eight months later and the paper has been written, then refereed by three scientists chosen by the journal, then modified in response to the referees’ critiques and now published. The paper draws on and integrates evidence from 125 prior-published papers. It is available online via a link at the end of this post.

The key messages are that food-derived opioids from A1 beta-casein and also from gluten are a medical frontier, with clear evidence that they affect the microbiota in our digestive system, but also linking within a complex system to the brain and multiple internal organs.

Fundamental to this system is the widespread presence of opioid receptors to which the food-derived opioids attach. These opioid receptors are present in the brain, intestines, pancreas, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, adrenal glands and many other places.

The natural role of opioid receptors is as part of the internal messaging system between the gut, brain, internal organs and peripheral tissues. But when external opioids are consumed, either in the form of drugs or within food, then the internal messaging is disrupted. The body then reacts to this in multiple ways, including inflammation and autoimmune responses. . . 

Good Progress on intensive winter grazing rules:

The Government’s confirmation it is shelving the unworkable pugging and sowing date rules in its latest intensive winter grazing proposal is positive for farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says.

The controversial pugging and resowing date rules have been replaced with a practical management approach under the revised intensive winter grazing proposals, which have just been released for public consultation.

“We, and other industry groups, have for some time been calling on the Government to replace the pugging and sowing date rules with sensible and pragmatic alternatives,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“It is positive for farmers that we now have clarity on the proposed approach in this area, which aligns with the recommendations of the Southland Winter Grazing advisory group last December. . .

Mānuka honey sales in US and China drives profit for Comvita :

The listed honey producer Comvita is crediting strong growth in Mānuka sales to the US and China for helping drive a return to profit.

Reported net profit after tax was $9.5 million, compared to a loss of $9.7 million in the previous year.

Comvita said the 2021 financial year had been a crucial one for the company, as it looked to prove the businessess’ significant potential.

In 2020 the company completed a strategic review and chief executive David Banfield said the business had gone through significant change in order to arrive at this point. . . 

Non-urgent veterinary appointments on hold:

Non-urgent veterinary appointments on hold until COVID-19 levels reduce

While veterinarians are still providing care and treatment for animals during lockdown, it’s far from business as usual.

According to two of Aotearoa’s key veterinary organisations, the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), COVID-19 restrictions have changed how animals, as well as people, receive healthcare.

“Under Alert Level 4 restrictions, veterinarians can only provide care that can’t be postponed,” according to the Council’s Veterinary Advisor Dr Seton Butler. “As a result, non-urgent healthcare, routine vaccinations and regular checks need to be postponed until the situation changes.” . . 

Enviromark diamond certification for Silver Fern Farms:

Enviromark diamond certification reflects Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to sustainability best practice

Silver Fern Farms has achieved Toitū enviromark diamond certification, the highest New Zealand-based environmental certification. This represents another important step in Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to playing a leadership role in driving sustainability in the red meat sector.

Enviromark diamond is recognised internationally as equivalent to ISO 14001 accreditation, and to achieve enviromark diamond certification New Zealand companies in fact need to exceed some ISO requirements.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer said achieving enviromark diamond is a massive endorsement for the company’s systems and the ways it is managing environmental impacts and risk. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/08/2021

Lockdown shuts sale yard gates again – Suz Bremner:

The livestock-selling market was again put on hold as the country moved into Alert Level 4. This followed confirmation of the covid-19 Delta variant in the community and meant sale yards were not able to open their gates for the rest of the week.

PGG Wrightson North Island livestock manager Matt Langtry says the options are slightly limited this week.

“Under Level 4 all sale yards are closed, however, we will continue to re-evaluate the situation as Government and MPI updates come to hand. As an essential service provider under Level 4, PGG Wrightson agents can operate in private sales (farm-to-farm) and prime (meat processor) consignments, where there needs to be a focus on animal and farmer welfare and feed levels,” Langtry said.

“We are operating under strict MPI protocols, which includes a very transparent traceability and audit process for our team. Through this challenging time, it is imperative we keep communicating with the industry, we are in this together. It’s a bugger of a situation again, but we will pull through.” . . 

Meat processors temporarily reduce capacity after lockdown announced – Rachael Kelly:

Some meat processing plants closed temporarily on Wednesday to put social distancing protocols in place, and others are working at a reduced capacity after the level four lock down was announced.

But farming leaders do not expect too much disruption on farms, as calving continues and lambing begins.

New Zealand is now in a nationwide level 4 lock down, with a total of seven Covid-19 cases in the community They are all in Auckland and all confirmed to be the more transmissible Delta variant.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said the company paused processing across its plant network on Wednesday morning to allow it to reconfigure plant operations to reflect the new protocols and give staff an opportunity to make suitable home arrangements such as childcare. . . 

Whales and dolphins stuck on inland farm – Country Life:

Sheep and cattle graze where whales and dolphins once swam 25 million years ago.

Bones from their skeletons are fossilised in cliffs and rocks on Grant Neal’s farm at Duntroon in North Otago.

”There’s 12 whale and dolphin fossils scattered through one gully and down the next there must be five, so it’s awesome how concentrated it is,” Grant says.

The area on the farm where the fossils were discovered is an official geo-site in the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. . . 

Scrumming to support farmers – Annette Scott:

Farmers and Parliament representatives tackled their skills on the rugby field in an event that raised more than $110,000 for Canterbury’s flood affected farmers.

The farmers’ Fonterra Good Together team – featuring former All Blacks Aaron Mauger, Casey Laulala and Kevin O’Neill, and coached by legendary Crusaders coach Scott (Razor) Robertson – proved too good.

Captained by Mid Canterbury dairy farmer and representative rugby player Jon Dampney, the farmers meant business, thumping the Parliamentary team 51 points to 10, but it was head-to-head all for a good cause.

In a brainstorm of ideas to raise money and support farmers impacted by recent flooding, Fonterra challenged the Parliamentary rugby team to the charity rugby match hosted by the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union at the Ashburton showgrounds. . . 

Lockdown protracts fight to protect mānuka honey as Kiwi – Jonathan Milne:

Mānuka honey by any other name would be as sweet – but would it be as lucrative? NZ and Australia fight over whether its name can be trademarked as distinctively Kiwi.

The opening of the US judgment is to-the-point: “The parties find themselves in a sticky situation,” says the panel of judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The new California court ruling is in a class action against Trader Joe’s, a retailer that markets its store brand mānuka honey as “100% New Zealand mānuka Honey”. It isn’t – it’s only about 60 percent from mānuka nectar. But the court ruled: “100% could be a claim that the product was 100 percent mānuka honey, that its contents were 100 percent derived from the mānuka flower, or even that 100 percent of the honey was from New Zealand.” 

It’s cases like these that highlight the challenge for New Zealand’s mānuka honey producers, who have been trying (and failing) to put out fires like Trader Joe’s for years. . .

New £5k innovation prizes for ventures run by pioneering farmers:

New prizes worth £5,000 have been launched to identify and support innovators and entrepreneurial thinkers who can drive sustainable change in British farming.

The Farming Innovation Pioneers Awards will be delivered through Harper Adams’ School of Sustainable Food and Farming (SSFF) and sponsored by Trinity AgTech’s Pioneers program.

They will be made to farmers who work with cross-industry stakeholders to spearhead transformational sustainability projects – those which drive the industry forward environmentally, socially or commercially, or a combination of all three.

Examples of innovations the judges expect to see include farmers working together with banks and retailers to set up new types of a more sustainable farm enterprise. . . 


Rural round-up

19/08/2021

Howl organisers planning even bigger protest – Sally Rae:

Groundswell New Zealand says it is planning a “major nationwide protest event” in November, following a lack of response by the Government to its concerns.

Although a date was yet to be set and details of the event outlined, spokesman Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, said it would be “of a scale and impact that will be significant in New Zealand’s history”.

Last month, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what it says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, which was delivered at the protests, gave the Government a month to address the issues, or it would take further action. . . 

Farm dream from bullock wagon – Shawn McAvinue:

A dream to farm in North Otago began on a bullock wagon.

Ray Lawrence was a young boy when grandfather William began teaching him about stockmanship.

‘‘He was a natural — a great stockman.’’

As a teenager, William Lawrence ran bullock wagons between Dunedin and Oamaru and dreamed of farming in North Otago. . .

Southland farmer and his dog to represent NZ :

The trans-Tasman rivalry has reignited once again – this time in the search for the hardest working farm dog.

It’s the first time New Zealand has entered the Cobber Working Dog Challenge, which tracks how hard each canine works over the three-week competition using GPS collars.

One duo representing the country is Josh Tosh and Trix – from Dipton in Southland.

Tosh told Morning Report he has had Trix since she was just 8 weeks old and has trained her up to the hard working 3-and-a-half year old farm dog that she is now. . . 

 

Iwi, industry and government unified in stance to protect mānuka honey in Aotearoa New Zealand’s ‘Champagne Moment’

Iwi, Government and the Mānuka Honey Industry are unified in their stance to protect the term Mānuka for all New Zealanders following opposition to registration of the term MANUKA HONEY at a hearing at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on 18 August, 2021. “

The goal is to protect the term MANUKA HONEY internationally so that it may only be lawfully used on honey produced in Aotearoa. For Māori, this means that our reo is respected and a precious taonga (treasure) is being honoured and protected. For consumers, it means that they can trust they are getting genuine honey produced in New Zealand from our Mānuka trees. It also protects the industry, export earnings and jobs,” said Pita Tipene, Chair of the Mānuka Charitable Trust (MCT).

“There are some similarities to when wine producers everywhere started branding their sparkling wines as champagne, until the French took ownership. Now anything labelled Champagne must be from that region. For us it runs even deeper because Mānuka is our taonga (treasure) and our reo (language),” said Pita. . . 

Ravensdown invests in future as team focuses on farm environment planning:

Ravensdown is gearing up for the growing demand for farm environment planning and investing in future capabilities. This ongoing investment in future on-farm performance meant the co-operative was unable to meet the previous year’s record profit performance, however last year did end with a satisfying and strong profit of $53 million from continuing and discontinuing operations, before tax and rebate.

The co-operative returned a total of $33 million to its eligible farmer shareholders including $16 million paid as an early interim rebate in June.

“We were right to view 2020-21 with cautious optimism. Our strong result was based on great shareholder support, a hard-working team and an effective strategy,” said Ravensdown’s Chair John Henderson. “Our shipping joint venture and long-term relationships with reliable suppliers proved extremely valuable as the supply disruption resulting from the pandemic impacted so many other industries. Along with sustained focus on product availability, we will continue to invest in the science, technologies and services that can help the agsector thrive into the future,” added John. . . 

Local company secures rights for ground breaking fertiliser:

NZ Premium Health Ltd has been appointed the exclusive New Zealand distributor for Swift Grow, a 100% Australian Certified Organic fish-based fertiliser.

Swift Grow is produced in New South Wales by River Stone Fish Farms. The company’s founder, Genetics Engineer Joseph Ayoub, developed the product in response to what he saw as a diminished fertility of soils, both in domestic and commercial environments.

Ayoub has fond childhood memories of the delightful flavour and aroma of naturally-grown food. “But I noticed that this gradually diminished over time because of decades of intensive commercial farming practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


Rural round-up

01/03/2021

Hawke’s Bay farmer ready to repay feed favour if dry conditions worsen this summer :

A Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer is emphasising the importance of having a buffer of feed to get through tough seasons.

Bruce Goldstone farms 4000 breeding ewes, 1000 hoggets and 450 cattle on 1045 hectares at Putorino, north of Napier.

He started running short of feed for his livestock as a drought gripping the entire North Island early last year continued to worsen.

Goldstone turned to the national feed coordination service, funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), for help. . .

Trek has kept him coming back for 29 years – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Gold fever hits Otago and South Canterbury as the annual Otago Goldfields Cavalcade gets under way this weekend, finishing in Twizel on March 6. Among the participants is Catlins farmer Marty Miller (79) who is saddling up for the 29th time. He talks to Mary-Jo Tohill.

Marty Miller gingerly eases himself into the saddle.

This year will be the Owaka farmer’s 29th Otago Goldfields Cavalcade.

He has had a bit of back trouble in the past few weeks and has been on a stick, not to mention painkillers. . . 

Too many beehives, not enough buyers. New Zealand’s great honey glut – Jane Phare:

Mānuka honey producers have been reaping the profits of selling pots of gold in recent years, but now there’s a surplus of non-mānuka varieties as beekeepers stockpile, hoping prices will recover. The NZ Herald’s Jane Phare looks at why the country is oozing with honey, in this Herald Premium article.

It was always a Kiwi staple, honey on toast in the morning, a spoonful to help the medicine go down. It was sweet, yummy and affordable.

Then, the so-called magical health benefits of mānuka honey became known worldwide causing export sales to take off. As the mānuka honey story reached fever pitch, so did the prices. Honey producers were earning upwards of $100 a kilo, selling little pots of dark golden nectar.

Today, monofloral mānuka honey is still a good earner at $55/kg compared to less than $20/ kg, and in some cases as low as $5/kg, for non-mānuka varieties like the staple clover honey. . .

Records fall at Lawrence dog sale – Shawn McAvinue:

Farmers were loving bidding for working dogs as records were broken in South Otago on Valentine’s Day.

The highest price paid for working dog at the Lawrence Gymkhana Club dog sale was $8700 for huntaway Lace.

The 3-year-old bitch was sold by Ali Brenssell.

Mr Brenssell, of Ardgowan, north of Oamaru, said he was “very happy” with the sale.

“She was well worth the price.” . . 

Massey student wins scholarship :

Massey University student Sophie Ridd is this year’s recipient of Ravensdown’s Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.

The 19 year-old is about to start her second year of study towards a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus. She says the scholarship will reduce her financial burden and open up new opportunities for her to pursue tertiary study at higher levels.

“I am absolutely stoked to receive this support as it will enable me to pursue my passion even further.”

The Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship provides the recipient with $5,000 per year for each year of a student’s undergraduate study in agriculture or horticulture disciplines at Lincoln or Massey University. The recipient will also be offered the opportunity for paid holiday work at Ravensdown if available. . . 

Non dairy ‘milks’ say they’re ‘healthier’. That’s mostly wrong – Paul Kita:

First, deep breath.

And now…

Soy, pea, almond, cashew, potato, oat, hemp, peanut, lactose-free, coconut, rice, flax, pistachio, banana, “plant,” hazelnut, quinoa, annnnnnnd unless there’s another alternative milk out there (and there’s probably another alternative milk out there), that’s all the alternative milk out there.

Then, to further leave you winded, within each of these styles of non-dairy milk alternatives, there exists several brands each marketing that they’re somehow better for you than whatever dreck the competitors offer. . .


Rural round-up

18/01/2021

Mobile black spots: Meet the Kiwis with worse mobile coverage than the developing world – Tom Dillane:

Teresa Wyndham-Smith remembers with a laugh when it first dawned on her that mobile coverage was better in West Africa than the West Coast of New Zealand.

That was five years of signal silence ago.

The 57-year-old writer and journalist returned to her home country after a decade in Ghana, and plonked herself down in Te Miko, a settlement on the 1000-plus kms of mobile black spots along New Zealand highways.

“I’m originally from Wellington but I was living in Ghana in West Africa for 10 years before I moved to the Coast,” Wyndham-Smith said. . . 

SWAG ready to tackle 2021 – Annette Scott:

The Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool industry out of the doldrums, has kick started the new year on a positive footing.

Since putting the call out in November for financial support, industry contributions have now reached more than $500,000.

SWAG, established and incorporated late last year, is targeting a $3 million working budget to fund identified opportunities that will increase the demand and value of NZ produced strong wool.

The company aims to raise $700,000, matched with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) funding, will secure a total operational budget of about $3m. . . 

From liquid gold to price crash : NZ’s honey hangover – Jane Phare:

Mānuka honey producers have been reaping the profits from selling pots of gold in recent years but now there’s a glut of non-manuka varieties as beekeepers stockpile, hoping prices will recover. New Zealand has more than 918,000 beehives, and Jane Phare looks at why the country is oozing with honey and why Kiwis looked for something less expensive to spread on their bread.

It was always a Kiwi staple, honey on toast in the morning, a spoonful to help the medicine go down. It was sweet, yummy and affordable.

Then, the so-called magical health benefits of mānuka honey became known worldwide causing export sales to take off. As the mānuka honey story reached fever pitch, so did the prices. Honey producers were earning upwards of $100 a kilo, selling little pots of dark golden nectar. . . 

Alliance partners with children’s charity :

Alliance Group will become an official partner of Ronald McDonald House South Island, the independent charitable trust providing free accommodation and support to families who need to travel to Christchurch and Invercargill for their children’s medical treatment.

The partnership will see the co-operative provide support for the Ronald McDonald House major 2021 fundraiser – the annual Supper Club events in Christchurch, Queenstown and Invercargill – and donate meat for a range of events throughout the year.

Alliance will also play a key role in the charity’s Host a Roast month in July – when people are encouraged to host a roast, brunch or lunch and invite friends and colleagues to attend for a $20 donation to support the Ronald McDonald House programmes.

“Ronald McDonald House is very close to the hearts of many of our people, our farmer shareholders and the wider community,” Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said. . . 

 

New Alps2Ocean leg opens to rave reviews – Doug Sail:

A new $1.2 million section of the Alps2Ocean cycle trail has proved a hit with holidaymakers as they discover rarely seen South Island scenery.

The 16-kilometre section from Sailors Cutting to the top of the Benmore Dam in the Waitaki Lakes region follows the Ahuriri arm of Lake Benmore serving up sights that users have raved about since it opened on December 18.

Among the more than 7000 cyclists and pedestrians to have tried the track so far was Stuffphotographer John Bisset who has previously completed the four sections from the start in Aoraki/Mt Cook through to Omarama.

“It was an awesome ride with great vistas. . .

America’s biggest owner of farmland is now Bill Gates – Ariel Shapiro:

Bill Gates, the fourth richest person in the world and a self-described nerd who is known for his early programming skills rather than his love of the outdoors, has been quietly snatching up 242,000 acres of farmland across the U.S. — enough to make him the top private farmland owner in America.

After years of reports that he was purchasing agricultural land in places like Florida and Washington, The Land Report revealed that Gates, who has a net worth of nearly $121 billion according to Forbes, has built up a massive farmland portfolio spanning 18 states. His largest holdings are in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres). Additionally, he has a stake in 25,750 acres of transitional land on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona, which is being developed as a new suburb.

According to The Land Report’s research, the land is held directly and through third-party entities by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment vehicle. Cascade’s other investments include food-safety company Ecolab, used-car retailer Vroom and Canadian National Railway.  . . 


Rural round-up

23/04/2020

Farmstrong: focus on controlling what you can:

Learning to live with unexpected challenges is the key to getting through life in lockdown for Otago farmer Luke Tweed.

Luke and his family run a 730ha sheep and beef operation in Central Otago. It’s the family farm and he enjoys carrying on the tradition. 

“I love being able to work outside and with animals but the opportunity to bring up our kids on this farm is the really big one for us.”

Tweed, his wife Bridget and their four kids have coped okay with lockdown so far.  . .

Covid 19 coronavirus: Why New Zealand’s mānuka honey exporters are smiling again – Jamie Gray:

One of the strongest harvests on record, together with a big lift in sales resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, have combined to brighten the outlook for New Zealand’s mānuka honey sector.

The harvest, which ends soon, is well up on last year, and mānuka honey is in demand overseas for its claimed health benefits.

It’s not all good news, however. Domestic sales aimed at the incoming tourism sector have been hit hard as countries go into Covid-19 lockdown and air travel subsides. . .

 

Free range chooks scoop top award – Richard Rennie:

Living a carefree life comprising a diet of bugs, apples and organic maize has earned the chickens raised by Hawke’s Bay brothers George and Ben Bostock New Zealand’s supreme food award.

The Bostock brothers were named the supreme champions for their organic whole chicken brand in this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. 

The firm was established by Ben five years ago.

Today the brothers supply organic, free-range chicken to butchers, supermarkets and the pre-covid-19 restaurant trade.   . .

Bumper maze crop despite drought – Pam Tipa:

Waikato owner-operated farmers Nacre and Anthony Maiden says the “stars aligned” this year to give them a particularly bumper maize crop despite the drought and their sandy loam soils.

However being flexible with their planting timing, good communication and use of their Herd Homes effluent all helped with their maize crop.

“We were impressed with their maize this year considering the soils we farm,” Nacre told Dairy News.  . . 

NZ’s top young Maori growers – Peter Burke:

The finalists in the inaugural Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award have just been announced.

The finalists are:

• Twenty-four-year-old Brandon Darny Paora Ngamoki Cross, 24, works as trainee orchard manager for the large kiwifruit orchard management and post-harvest company Seeka.

• Maatutaera Tipoki Akonga, who is 26, works as a senior leading hand at Llewellyn Horticulture based in the Hastings area.

• Finnisha Nicola Letitia Tuhiwai, 25 who is a packhouse manager for Maungatapere Berries, located west of Whangarei.

Smithfield shutting U.S. pork plant indefinitely, warns of meat shortages during pandemic – Tom Polansek:

Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, said on Sunday it will shut a U.S. plant indefinitely due to a rash of coronavirus cases among employees and warned the country was moving “perilously close to the edge” in supplies for grocers.

Slaughterhouse shutdowns are disrupting the U.S. food supply chain, crimping availability of meat at retail stores and leaving farmers without outlets for their livestock.

Smithfield extended the closure of its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant after initially saying it would idle temporarily for cleaning. The facility is one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, representing 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, according to the company. . .

 


Rural round-up

23/10/2019

No change to methane targets – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets are to remain but the Environment Select Committee considering submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill is recommending greater safeguards for using forestry to offset emissions.

The committee recommends the proposed Climate Change Commission be given power to consider the form of greenhouse gas emission targets to ensure targets stay fit for purpose and to consider the impact of forestry offsets.

Another change will allow the commission to recommend changes to the 2050 targets if a significant change is likely to occur. . .

Fonterra’s milk price forecast will cheer farmers but govt has given ample cause for grumbling to persist – Point of Order:

At  last,  a  break in the  clouds for  NZ’s  dairy farmers :  Fonterra  suppliers  could be looking at a  sharp  lift in income,  as the co-op revises   its  forecast  range for the  milk price   to $6.55-$7.55 kg/MS.And  the signals  are   strong enough to underpin projections the  milk price  will rise to its  highest level  since  2014  when the price  hit $8.40.

This  may  diminish, if not completely  halt, the   grumbling in the cowsheds  at  Fonterra’s  dismal  performance  over the last  couple of  seasons, racking  up  losses and  cutting  its dividend.

Whether  it  will  eliminate  the  animosity towards the government,  which  is  proposing to penalise dairy farmers  over  methane emissions and through its freshwater  policy, is  less certain. . .

Digging deeper into soil’s black box – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Could soil organic matter be used for carbon credits?

Organic matter is the black box of the soil: it determines many factors in biological activities but predicting the outcomes of those biological activities is not easy.

With sand, silt and clay, organic matter affects soil structure, porosity, drainage and nutrient availability. It supports soil organisms by providing energy and nutrients for growth and reproduction.  . .

Vaccinations protect people, animals – Mark Ross:

As we struggle to fathom how we ended up in the throes of a measles outbreak again, we’re reminded of the importance of vaccinations to protect us from life-threatening diseases.

This is no less true for animals which can share diseases with people. Vaccination vastly improves the health of people and animals and is vital for continuing to meet the health challenges of growing populations. . .

Is technology a threat to dairy? – Danielle Appleton :

The New Zealand dairy industry is facing major disruption from synthetic dairy, similar to the synthetic fibres that triggered the decline of the wool industry in the 1980s.

Technology companies are now making real dairy products, without cows. 

Their aim is to make real dairy products far cheaper than traditional farming can within the next 10 to 15 years. . .

Dairy price prospects firm :

Prospects for a $7-plus farmgate milk price in 2020 have firmed with the lower New Zealand dollar value and a spring production peak that might not reach any great height.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny believes the NZ dollar falling below US63c is worth up to 50c/kg to the milk price after the delay of the Fonterra currency hedging policy works through.

Fonterra was already forecasting $6.25-$7.25/kg ahead of any currency boost and ASB has pegged $7 before the possible currency upside, Penny said. . .

$2800 a jar: Hawke’s Bay company’s Manuka honey vintage now the most expensive in world :

One single windswept tree block has produced the most extraordinary and expensive Mānuka honey that the world has ever seen.

Ahuriri-based The True Honey Co is now selling its supplies of its 2017 Rare Harvest to luxury retailers such as Selfridges and Harrods in London.

The retailers are buying up to 10 of the 230 gram jars at a time to secure a supply with each jar selling for £1388 (NZD$2815) in the United Kingdom. . .

Why farmers  should avoid magic and opt for science -Phil Holmes and Ian McLean:

Unfortunately, and to its detriment, broadacre agriculture is not always an evidence-based industry at producer level.

Yes, there are areas where evidence drives what is done, but it is far from universal. Too much attention is placed on fads and searches for silver bullets.

By way of contrast, consider engineering. If it was not based on hard evidence, planes would fall out of the sky, buildings would collapse and bridges would cave in. It is the ultimate discipline in everyday life. . .

 


Rural round-up

26/09/2019

Trees don’t pay tax. Government’s Action for Healthy Waterways discussion document a massive subsidy for tree planting:

Environmental lobby group 50 Shades of Green says the government’s policy document on waterways will provide a massive subsidy for forestry.

Spokesman, Andy Scott said the problem was it would make sheep and beef farming less economic thereby encouraging farmers to walk away and sell their land for trees.

“Modelling suggesting 68% of dry stock farms in the Waikato/Waipa catchment would be converted to forestry as a direct result of the proposed regulations will send a chill through the entire sheep and beef industry,” Andy Scott said. . .

Time for a ‘cup of tea’ over trees policy:

Minister Jones Needs Assurance That His ‘Trees Fund Branching Out’ Doesn’t End up as a Knot According to 50 Shades of Green.

Conservation Group 50 Shades of Green supports Minister Jones in his efforts to put the right tree in the right place.

It also supports Iwi initiatives to regenerate native bush.

What it doesn’t support is easy access for foreign investors and carbon speculators to plant good farmland in trees for no other reason than to claim carbon credits. . .

Millions poured to ensure mānuka honey is a NZ only product  – Yvette McCullough:

The government is allocating nearly $6 million to a campaign to stop Australian beekeepers marketing their products as “mānuka” honey.

The Mānuka Honey Appellation Society is being granted $5.7 million through the Provincial Growth Fund, including a $1.7 million loan, to help in its bid to secure international property rights.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones accused Australian honey producers of trying to steal what was indigenous to New Zealand. . .

Major dairy producer unveils $30m expansion:

When a group of dairy families opened Idaho Milk Products a decade ago, the company faced a murky future at best.

The $80 million facility began churning out cream and protein during a recession, at a time of painfully low milk prices.

“These dairy families risked everything,” Idaho Dairymen’s Association CEO Rick Naerebout said. “They rolled the dice, put everything on the line that their families had built for generations.”

Ten years and a $30 million plant expansion later, it looks like the gamble is paying off. . .

Welsh dairy farmers plan to blockade lorries of ‘cheap’ Irish beef :

Farmers in Wales are planning to disrupt Irish trucks carrying beef from entering Wales via the Port of Holyhead.

The blockade is planned for Friday 27 September.

According to North Wales Live, the protest is a result of farmer complaints that “prices are down £150-£200 (€170-€ 226) on this time last year, blaming the slump on imports” coupled with the uncertainty of Brexit.

Farmers are urged to make a stand against “rock-bottom beef prices and ‘subsidised’ Irish beef imports.”. . .

 


Rural round-up

23/04/2019

Leaked report sheds light on mine project – Simon Hartley:

The prospect of an open pit diatomite mine in Middlemarch has caused division, and many are concerned about the effects of hundreds of trucks, mine dust, and the loss of Foulden Maar (MAAR), a “pre-eminent” fossil cache.

There are also corporate links to controversial palm oil plantation developments.

With no information released since mid-2018, Simon Hartley revisits the proposal, based on a leaked investment document penned by investment bankers Goldman Sachs.

A proposal to mine diatomite near Middlemarch for the next almost 30 years appears to have stalled as feasibility studies and regulatory hurdles take their toll. . . 

Farmstrong: Stop and sell the roses :

Time off farm is the number one wellbeing priority for farmers but many are still reluctant to take breaks. 

Kate and Mike Gee-Taylor of Rangiwahia are on a mission to change that.

They own a typical family farm, a 566ha sheep and beef operation in hill country at Rangiwahia in Manawatu. Mike grew up there and met Kate 28 years ago. They still both love the area and the lifestyle.

But life’s thrown up a few challenges too. Two years ago Kate fell ill and nearly died. It took 30 units of blood to save her. . .

Otago farm’s food award:

The Crutchley family from Maniototo high country have claimed a top award in this year’s Food Producer Awards with their Provenance lamb.

The family’s Provenance brand won the Ara Wines Paddock Champion Award for a lamb product judges praised for its juiciness, moistness and good flavours. 

David and Glenis Crutchley’s 6121ha dryland farming operation near Naseby transitioned from conventional farming systems to biological farming eight years ago. They dropped conventional fertilisers for fish-based nutrients and a focus on building up soil micro-bacterial activity. . . 

Representing dairy in the south – Sally Rae:

On May 11, the national winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be announced at a black-tie awards dinner at TSB Arena in Wellington. The South will be represented by Southland-Otago share farmers of the year Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten, farm manager of the year James Matheson and dairy trainee of the year Caycee Cormack. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae attended the regional winners field day at the van Dorstens’ property last week.

Farm ownership remains one of the goals of Taieri dairy farmers Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten.

The couple, who won this year’s Southland-Otago share farmer of the year in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, are 50:50 sharemilking 575 cows on a 204ha farm owned by Ray Parker and Sharon Corcoran

Businesses using blockchain, invisible ink to protect mānuka honey – Esther Taunton:

Jars of mānuka honey are being marked with invisible ink and tracked with blockchain technology in an effort to keep counterfeit products off the market.

The honey has become such a precious commodity, producers are using increasingly high-tech methods to prevent imitation.

Midlands Apiaries, manufacturers of Puriti mānuka honey, has introduced jars with 11 consumer security and anti-counterfeit features, including invisible ink and laser etching. . .

Farming is tough but we don’t always want it easy – Glen Herud:

The hard thing about doing hard things is it’s always a lot harder than you expect.

So it’s best to quit right at the start of the project. Quitting early will save a lot of heartache and pain.

The only time you should not quit is when you’re absolutely prepared to pay the price that this difficult project will inflict on you.

But the problem is we don’t really know what the true cost is until we’re well into a hard project. . .

 


Rural round-up

22/04/2019

Farming to create fresh air – Luke Chivers:

When people think of farming, few think of carbon farming. But Canterbury farmers Warrick and CeCe James are using agriculture to feed people and fight climate change. Luke Chivers spoke to them on-farm.

Imagine carbon emissions and what springs to mind? 

Most people tend to think of power stations belching out clouds of carbon dioxide or queues of vehicles burning up fossil fuels as they crawl, bumper-to-bumper along congested urban roads. 

But in Canterbury’s picturesque Selwyn Gorge the owners of a forest of 18-year-old pine and Douglas fir trees are confident that at harvest age the trees will still be worth more alive than dead and will continue to be indefinitely. . .

Lower carbon food chain challenges – Richard Rennie:

A dive into the little-known field of energy return on investment for his Nuffield Scholarship was the extension of a long-held interest for Solis Norton of Otago. It measures energy flows through New Zealand’s primary food chains to see how we might move to zero emissions by 2050 while remaining a viable economy. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

Nuffield scholar Solis Norton acknowledges the area of energy return on investment (EROI) is not top of mind for many but his year’s study found the field holds important tools for one of this country’s most pressing demands – getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Mapping out the transition to carbon zero using economics is a good starting point but mapping our true energy use during the transition is critical too. This is what EROI does. Our path to carbon-zero economic prosperity will collapse if we run short of energy along the way.”  . . 

Mānuka honey regulatory definition throws industry into turmoil :

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) regulatory definition of mānuka honey has thrown the honey industry into turmoil and European authorities are beginning to notice there’s something wrong, a Northland honey expert says.

Dr John Craig, a veteran beekeeper and former professor of environmental studies, said the ministry’s challenged the industry to prove that its definition needs to change.

But he said the ministry’s own research has already done that. . .

High octane’ deer feeds examined at workshop – Yvonne O’Hara:

”High octane” feed was the subject at the Otago Advance Party regional workshop in Poolburn last week.

Deer farmers and industry representatives met at the Poolburn/Moa Creek Hall last Wednesday in a meeting organised by Abacusbio consultant Simon Glennie.

The Advance Party workshop was part of the deer industry’s Passion2Profit programme.

The group visited Poolburn deer farmer Cam Nicolson’s property to look at his deer, then returned to the hall to discuss how he could improve growth rates and profits by using ”high octane” forages. . .

 

Capturing the spirit of New Zealand by turning sheep’s milk into booze – Esther Taunton:

Like many off-the-wall ideas, Sam Brown’s came to him on a night out with friends.

The Kiwi entrepreneur and founder of The White Sheep Co was living in China when he realised New Zealand had no national drink.

“I was out with friends and we decided to have a drink for everybody’s country.

“We had a bit of tequila for a guy from Mexico, some vodka for a guy from Russia and even some brandy for a person from France,” he said. . .

Regional wrap:

Northland still has green grass everywhere, but there’s not much of it .. normally farms would be knee deep in kikuyu and it would be a challenge to manage it, but that’s not the case. It’s not a disaster but lots of dairy herds have been partially dried off.

Outstanding autumn weather has been the main feature this week for Franklin vege growers .. in fact for much of the North Island. . .


Rural round-up

04/04/2019

Beef and lamb campaign chases conscious foodies – Alan Williams:

Up to 16 million conscious foodies in California are the target of a major new beef and lamb marketing project.

The aim is to make New Zealand top-of-mind for a group passionate about the idea of grass-fed red meat and wanting to know where it comes from.

After months of research Taste Pure Nature was launched in California on March 20 and straight away there were 151 automatic pick-ups on the multi-media release, providing potentially millions of potential impressions among individual consumers, Beef + Lamb NZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

‘Devastated’ Northland mānuka honey producers seek chemical markers definition review from MPI – Lois Williams:

The legal definition of mānuka honey could change, if new evidence shows the chemical makeup of the honey is different in Northland, MPI says.

Far North honey producers say the Ministry of Primary Industries’ regulatory definition, published a year ago, excludes up to 50 percent of their honey, based on just one chemical marker – even in areas where the bees have nothing but mānuka to feed on.

About 80 beekeepers and honey producers from Auckland to Kaitaia turned out to challenge MPI scientists at a hui yesterday at Ōtiria marae, near Kaikohe.

They believe the definition established to protect New Zealand’s mānuka brand overseas fails to take into account regional variations in the chemical makeup of the honey. . . 

Diversified and innovative Whangarei orchard wins Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A Whangarei family growing raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and green and gold kiwifruit have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Malley family of Patrick and his wife Rebecca and their children Austin, 4, and Eloise, 1, and Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi own and operate their diversified horticulture business, Maungatapere Berries, just outside Whangarei.

Raspberries are the biggest berry crop, processed through a packhouse on the orchard, and sold domestically under their own Maungatapere Berries brand along with blackberries, and blueberries under the Eureka brand. Kiwifruit canopy extends over 16.25ha, including 3.36ha of Gold 3 under cover, to target high-taste, high-production, early season fruit. . . 

Diversity and tolerance – now is the time –  Karen Williams:

Federated Farmers arable sector chairwoman Karen Williams says it is time for bold leadership.

With the traumatic events in Christchurch front of mind it has been hard to focus on topics worthy of commentary when so many of our daily tribulations seem comparatively insignificant.

This atrocity is beyond belief.

It has severely affected the Christchurch community, stunned and saddened New Zealand and sent shock waves around the globe. 

Is there something we can take out of this that will at least in some small way add value to a grieving country?

I believe there is. . . 

Australian snail farmer struggling to keep up with demand

Snails, ants and even fried cockroaches are increasingly popping up on Australian menus, as people seek more environmentally friendly meat.

However, with extreme weather and increased popularity, Australian snail farmers are struggling to meet demand.

Claudia Ait-Touati is a not-for-profit snail farmer in Coonalpyn, about 150 km south-east of Adelaide. . . 

Another pea weevil free year needed in the Wairarapa:

The current Biosecurity New Zealand ban on pea growing in the Wairarapa is knocking down the pea weevil population, but another pea weevil free year is needed to be confident of eradication.

The pest was first discovered in the Wairarapa in 2016 and has been subject to an eradication programme since then.

“Our trapping programme did not find any pea weevils in the 2018 surveillance, which is a promising result after the discovery of just 15 the previous season, says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Dr Cath Duthie. . . 

Kiwifruit orchard with growth potential for sale:

One of closest commercial kiwifruit orchards to Auckland’s urban boundary – with potential to treble its production capacity – been placed on the market for sale.

Known as MacLachlan Orchard, the 12.2-hectare property at 90 Mullins Road in Ardmore is planted on flat land, and is forecast to produce some 42,000 trays of fruit in the current season.

The orchard’s 3.3 canopy hectares of productive land comprises some 2.29-canopy hectares of the Hayward green kiwifruit variety and 1.07 canopy hectares of the G3 gold kiwifruit strain picked off vines which were grafted some six years ago. . . 


Rural round-up

06/02/2019

Could turning aquifers into managed reservoirs prevent water shortages and seawater contamination?  – Nikki Macdonald:

It seems the neatest of solutions: take the winter water that rages, unneeded, to the sea, put it in a great underground tank, and drag it out again as the summer dry threatens to brown the grass and suck the life out of parched apples, lettuces, peas.

Managed aquifer recharge is the new buzz phrase in the search for answers to New Zealand’s twin problems of increasingly scarce water and weed-choked rivers toxic enough to kill fish.

Proponents tout it as a potential solution to everything from aquifers being sucked dry by irrigation to nitrogen pollution to seawater contamination of drinking water supplies. But critics say it could actually worsen New Zealand’s water pollution problems. . .

Slaughtered cattle dumped in WhanganuI puts spotlight on stock theft bill  – Liz Wylie:

The remains of two slaughtered cattle have been found dumped at Languard Bluff in Whanganui following numerous reports of livestock thefts and moves to introduce tougher penalties for those convicted of such crimes.

Spotted by passersby early yesterday morning, the remains appeared to be fresh and there was still a considerable amount of meat on the bones.

Stock thefts have long been a concern for Rangitīkei MP Ian McKelvie who has introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament to seek tougher penalties for those caught. . .

NZ commodity prices have strong start to 2019  – Rebecca Howard:

New Zealand commodity prices rose in January, arresting the downward trend of the past seven months, ANZ Bank’s monthly commodity price index shows.

The world price index rose 2.1 percent last month but was down 2.1 percent from a year earlier. In local currency terms, the index rose 2.9 percent on the month and 3.8 percent on the year. ..

Vertical farming is not the answer: New Zealand food security in jeopardy at current urbanisation levels – Pearly Neo:

A New Zealand report has revealed that the country’s horticultural industry and food security could face increasing challenges if it intends to rely on vertical farming to replace crops lost to a lack of land post-urbanisation.

This is mainly because vertical farming requires high investment costs, particularly when it comes to paying for electricity to provide suitable artificial conditions for crop growth. . . 

Honey NZ commits to 5 year Manuka planting programme:

One of New Zealand’s largest producers of Manuka honey has committed to plant at least 360,000 Manuka seedlings in the first half of this year, creating what it claims will be one of the biggest privately-owned Manuka plantations worth millions to the country’s future economy.

Auckland based Honey New Zealand has recently added 4,000 acres of land to its owned supply chain in a remote region of native bushland near the town of Taupo. . . 

Nelson Forests’ acquisition of Manuka Island estate confirmed by Overseas Investment Office:

OneFortyOne (OFO) has received confirmation that the Overseas Investment Office has approved Nelson Forests’ acquisition of Manuka Island estate in New Zealand. The completion date for the purchase will be mid-late February.

The Manuka Island estate, currently owned by Merrill and Ring, is approximately 2000 hectares of forest in the Wairau Valley near Blenheim. . .

Comment from Grant Rosewarne, CEO of New Zealand King Salmon:

I stand by the statement that finfish aquaculture has the potential to become New Zealand’s most valuable industry and its greenest primary industry. Salmon farming is one of the most efficient forms of animal food production in the world, and we categorically affirm that our farms are managed in balance with the environment.

The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers have misunderstood a lot of New Zealand King Salmon’s farming practices and have made the mistake of assuming that fish farming in other countries can be directly compared to New Zealand. The article makes allegations about our farming practices that are unsubstantiated and incorrect. . .


Rural round-up

08/11/2018

Peony growers flat out until Christmas – Ella Stokes:

As spring turns into summer,  the peony growing season is in full swing. Last week, reporter Ella Stokes went to catch up with Mosgiel grower Rodger Whitson, of Janefield Paeonies and Hydroponics, to see what it involves.

What started as a plan to diversify their property is now a full-time business for Rodger and Cindy Whitson, who have 10,000 peony plants on their 4ha block in Mosgiel.

In 2000, Mr Whitson, originally a meat worker, and Mrs Whitson, a dispensary technician, were looking into ways they could diversify their property.

After looking at a range of flowers to grow, they decided peonies were the best option. . . 

Mānuka honey: who really owns the name and the knowledge – Jessica C Lai:

Adulterated honey and fake mānuka honey have repeatedly made headlines in recent years.

The arguments around adulterated honey are relatively simple. These honeys are diluted with cheaper syrups and their lack of authenticity is unquestionable. The discourse around mānuka honey is different, as there are serious questions about what authentic mānuka honey actually means.

Two warring families

The term mānuka carries with it a premium. Mānuka honey is made from the nectar of the Leptospermum scoparium flower. This plant is native to New Zealand and south-east Australia. It is, thus, not surprising that much of the war around the term mānuka has played out between Australian and New Zealand producers.

There are many registered trademarks in Australia and New Zealand that include the word mānuka and relate to honey-based products. In July, the Australian Manuka Honey Association filed to protect its name. . . 

Research to help regions plan for tourism growth:

Lincoln University is making a major investment to support and grow our understanding of tourism.

A new Lincoln University Centre of Excellence, called ‘Sustainable Tourism for Regions, Communities and Landscapes’, has been created to tackle the dual challenge of growing the value of tourism and enriching the tourist experience in Aotearoa New Zealand, while restoring, protecting and enhancing the quality of regional destinations.

The multi-disciplinary centre is drawing on the expertise of researchers from across the university in such diverse areas as destination management, landscape design, policy and planning, marketing, rural regeneration, parks and protected areas, resource economics and community resilience. . . 

Limited progress on China dairy safeguards ups the ante for other negotiations:

News that the review of the China-New Zealand FTA is unlikely to result in improvement for dairy access is disappointing for the New Zealand dairy industry. The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) says this increases the importance of high quality and timely access improvements for dairy from the other trade negotiations currently underway.

“Despite the close relationship that New Zealand and China enjoy, New Zealand dairy exports to China continue to incur over a $100 million in tariffs each year, with the safeguards regularly triggered in early January” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. “Additionally New Zealand exporters of milk powder, cheese, and butter will be at a growing tariff disadvantage relative to Australian competitors until these safeguards end in 3-5 years”. . . 

Construction of purpose-built cannabis cultivation and medicine manufacturing facilities on the East Coast is now progressing with Hikurangi Cannabis Company announcing its first wholesale investment round is fully funded.

A small number of high net worth investors have contributed an initial $7 million to complete the next stage of development for the first New Zealand company to receive a cultivation license. Another investment offer is likely to be pursued in the new year as milestones are achieved to further accelerate research and development activities. . .

Joint agreement to protect onion industry:

Biosecurity New Zealand and Onions New Zealand Inc have reached an agreement on funding to prepare for future biosecurity responses.

Both parties signed a Sector Readiness Operational Agreement today (7 November).

“The agreement demonstrates commitment to working in a strong partnership to strengthen readiness for incursions of specific pests and diseases,” says Andrew Spelman, Biosecurity NZ’s Acting Director, Biosecurity Readiness. . . 

Pioneering cattle grazing block up for sale set to become avocado or kiwifruit orchard:

A portion of a pioneering cattle grazing and fattening farm that has been owned by members of the same family for 178 years has been placed on the market for sale.

The 23-hectare property at Maungatapere some 11 kilometres west of Whangarei was formerly a much bigger dairy farm known as Crystal Springs which was the first pedigree Jersey stud in Northland, with a gene-poll of breeding cattle brought out from the United Kingdom. . . 


Rural round-up

05/03/2018

Upset farmers still in the dark – Annette Scott:

Farmers desperately seeking answers feel they have been left in limbo as the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis takes hold and still the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it has no clear idea how it got here.

The ministry has confirmed the outbreak could cost $100 million in tracking and tracing the spread of the disease and paying compensation to farmers. It initially budgeted for $35m.

With too many gaps and too few answers farmers are understandably anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate it, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said. . . 

Healthy Rivers plan drags out – Richard Rennie:

Waikato farmers have found an upside in the continuing delays plaguing the Healthy Rivers plan and believe critical dates in it might be pushed out beyond the original timeframe.

Despite being notified in October 2016 the plan was derailed late that year when Hauraki iwi objected to part of the catchment being included, subject to that iwi’s claim over its ownership.

That required the plan to be effectively split with the 12% or 120,000ha of the catchment affected by the claim becoming subject to negotiation between iwi and the council on Healthy Rivers conditions, before being re-notified.

But Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said farmers are conscious the plan has some specific dates in it requiring them to submit nitrogen reference points by March next year. . . 

Higher meat yield from Beltex breed – Nicole Sharp:

Former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison, his wife Hilary and Canterbury farmer Blair Gallagher had the Beltex breed on show at this year’s Southern Field Days.

Together with farm adviser John Tavendale, and their families, the group is behind Beltex New Zealand, which has brought the breed to New Zealand.

”They’re a double-muscled Texel, with higher meat yield, bigger eye muscle areas, bigger legs. It’s all a plus in terms of meat production,” Dr Allison said.

The breed was imported from the UK, and was originally from Belgium and Holland. . . 

Mānuka honey definition could change if new science is developed – Gerard Hutching:

The definition for mānuka honey may be revised if fresh science shows the need, Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Martyn Dunne says.

MPI first announced the definition on December 11 last year but beekeepers objected to an aspect of the definition that required a kilogram of monofloral or multifloral honey contain at least five micrograms of  2′-methoxyacetophenone (known as 2 MAP).

They threatened legal action, claiming it would cost the industry $100 million. . . 

Live goat exports to Asia in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

More pure and composite meat goats are needed to fill four planned shipments of live goats and goat meat to Asian clients in the next few months, says Shingle Creek Chevon partner Dougal Laidlaw, of Clyde.

As the market for live exports was competitive, he did not wish to say which countries or clients the goats were going to.

However, he wanted to hear from farmers who might be interested in supplying or rearing goats, both for live and meat export as well as for the domestic top end restaurant trade.

”It will be a struggle to get enough animals,” Mr Laidlaw said. . . 

What turns some law-abiding Canadians into smugglers? The high price of imported cheese. – Nate Tabak:

Clara is a college student in Toronto, and in a few days, she’s flying home to Paris to visit her family and friends. She also stopping at a fromagerie to buy some cheese to bring back to Canada, specifically Comté, a cousin of Gruyere made under strict rules in the French Alps. 

“It’s not gooey, and you know it’s not going to give a scent to your entire suitcase,” Clara says. Comté is also a lot cheaper in France. It’s easy to find at supermarkets for the equivalent of about $6 or $7 a pound. In Canada, it’s both a lot harder to find, and it’s usually at least $20 a pound.

Clara’s yearly ritual becomes a source of anxiety when she flies back to Canada and prepares to face a border officer — and that dreaded question: “Are you bringing in any food?” . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/03/2018

Hauraki Plains dairy farmer elected to oversee the creation of Auckland educational farm:

A respected Hauraki Plains dairy farmer will lead the board overseeing the development of a new educational farm in Auckland.

Julie Pirie has been elected to chair the five-member Donald Pearson Farm Board.

The 74-hectare dairy farm in South Auckland was gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson last year. . . 

Slim pickings: Worker shortage leaves apple farms frantic – Anusha Bradley:

Apple growers in Hawke’s Bay are preparing to work around the clock to cope with what’s being described as an extreme shortage of seasonal workers.

Orchardists said they have less have than half the workers they need, and despite a recruitment campaign, are failing to attract the usual hordes of backpackers they rely on.

Hastings-based Bostock is the largest producer of organic apples in the country.

Bostock human resources manager Vikki Garrett said usually they’d hire about a 100 or so backpackers, but had only managed to recruit 10. . . 

Bug’s impact on horticulture devastating, report says:

An economic report, released today, says if the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) establishes in New Zealand it would dramatically impact New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) as well as export revenues from horticulture.

Prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), Quantifying the economic impacts of a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug incursion in New Zealand, shows GDP falling between $1.8 billion and $3.6 billion by 2038, and horticulture export value falling between $2 billion and $4.2 billion by 2038. . . 

Agriculture exporters meet to discuss issues:

Key stakeholders in the agro-export market today gathered to discuss possible solutions to address pertinent issues faced by exporters in the export pathways.

While officially opening the Agriculture Exporters Symposium at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel this morning, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. David Kolitagane said the objective of the workshop was to address constraints in the agro-export pathway as the impact of the contribution of agricultural exporters was integral to economic development.

“The rationale for organizing today’s symposium is to address constraints in the export pathway, collate information and make appropriate and . . .

Farmers left in limbo as Mycoplasma Bovis takes hold:

With just one month to go until a decision will be made, farmers will understandably be left confused and anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate the crippling cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials appeared before the Primary Productions Select Committee at Parliament this morning to answer questions about how the Government plans to contain the spread, compensate farmers for their losses and ultimately to eradicate it. . . 

Tractors lead agricultural imports:

Tractor imports have remained at high levels in January 2018, continuing the trend for the last year, Stats NZ said today.

The value of imported tractors rose $27 million (191 percent) in January 2018 from January 2017. For the year ended January 2018, values were up 51 percent compared with the January 2017 year.

“Imports of tractors can be an indicator of confidence in the agriculture industry,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The last time we imported this many tractors was in 2014 when dairy prices were at their peak.” . . 

Deborah Marris joins Synlait leadership team:

Synlait will welcome Deborah Marris to the Executive Leadership Team in the role of General Counsel and Head of Commercial on Monday 5 March.

“Deborah’s outstanding legal and commercial background makes her the perfect person to join our team. Our rapid growth requires strong leadership in this area and Deborah has the skills, foresight and international experience to support us well,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.

Ms Marris’ role will encompass legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters, including customer and supplier contractual relationships. . . 

NZ King Salmon sees weaker second half on hot summer; 1st-half profit soars 81% – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon says the “extraordinarily hot summer” has cut survival rates at its fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds and it expects weaker second-half earnings after profit in the first half soared 81 percent.

Profit rose to $15.7 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $8.7 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales climbed to $87.7 million from $63.6 million. . . 

Seeka annual profit falls 44% on lower kiwifruit volumes, impaired banana business – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka posted a 44 percent decline in annual profit as Australasia’s biggest kiwifruit grower booked a $2 million charge on its banana sourcing unit while managing a decline in kiwifruit volumes.

Net profit fell to $5.8 million, or 34 cents per share in calendar 2017, from $10.4 million, or 62 cents a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. The year-earlier figure was bolstered by a $3.1 million gain on an insurance payment. Revenue fell 2 percent to $186.8 million. . .

Comvita swings to first-half profit, reiterates full-year guidance – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the mānuka honey company, swung to a first-half profit on strong sales growth and a recovery in the “grey” or informal sales channel into China and reiterated its full-year earnings guidance despite bad weather hitting the 2018 honey season.

The Te Puke-based company reported a net profit of $3.7 million, or 8.31 cents per share, in the six months to Dec. 31 versus a loss of $7.1 million, or 17.18 cents, in the prior period. In January the company said net profit would be more than $3 million. Sales reached $83.6 million versus $57.7 million in the prior year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $9.9 million versus an ebitda loss of $2.8 million in the same period a year earlier. . . 


365 days of gratitude

16/02/2018

The science isn’t settled on whether manuka honey is helpful for sore throats or not.

I”m not ruling out the placebo effect, but have been sucking pure manuka honey lozenges today, am finding they’re reducing the soreness and I”m grateful for that.

 


Rural round-up

04/02/2018

Govt won’t support irrigaiton while farms dry:

The Government is holding back regional New Zealand through its opposition to water storage projects which help grow jobs in the regions, boost exports and provide environmental sustainability National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s description of funding for irrigation projects as ‘unnecessary’ will come as a huge shock to farmers – especially when he supports the construction of the Waimea Dam in his local area. . .

Allbirds shoe business growing as it highlights connection to NZ merino farmers – Gerard Hutching:

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but Allbirds wool shoes founder Tim Brown has had enough of the recognition from some rivals.

Late last year Allbirds filed a trade dress infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California against shoe giant Steve Madden for allegedly copying its signature wool lace-up sneakers.

Steve Madden is not the only established company venturing into the woollen shoes business. Adidas, Nike and Puma are also using wool in sneakers and clothing, as more consumers seek out natural fibres over synthetic.

It is all good news for New Zealand’s 400 merino farmers who are riding the wave of a boom in demand for the fine fibre. . . 

Nixing nitrate with nanoparticles

Smart catalytic conversion technologies are being used to find better ways of improving the quality of water affected by nitrate pollution.

Dr Anna Garden (Chemistry) is leading a research project that seeks a quicker and safer way of removing nitrate from waterways. Garden says that nitrate pollution of New Zealand’s waterways has become a serious problem over recent decades, due to agricultural intensification and associated overuse of nitrogen-based fertilisers such as ammonium nitrate and urea.

“We are putting so much nitrogen-based fertiliser onto our land these days, as well as increasing the density of stock. . .

Riparian fencing poses challenges – HUgh Stringleman:

Northland dairy farmers Richard and Bev Dampney, farming at Otaua, west of Kaikohe, must urgently complete 10 to 11km of riparian fencing to continue supplying milk to Fonterra.

Within only a few farms nationwide still to comply, the Dampneys had argued riparian fencing was impractical on local rivers that flooded an average of six times a year.

Furthermore, cows had reticulated water in troughs and were effectively excluded from the water courses by steep, overgrown banks.

Hot tapes were used to break feed, and where cows might venture down to the waterways. . . 

Late change for honey standard – Richard Rennie:

The manuka honey industry has welcomed the Government’s last-minute revision of honey standards that, left unchanged, would have sliced millions off the value of the country’s premium honey type.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has made a significant change to the level of a chemical marker that defined manuka honey from multi-floral honey only days before the standards are to be formally enforced on honey producers.

February 5 marks the official launch of the new standards.

The MPI standards were released just before Christmas to an industry outcry at their failure to adequately define manuka honey and the impact they were likely to have on multi-floral honey’s ability to be defined as manuka.  . . 

Death threat vegans bombard award-winning dairy farmers:

Vegans have bombarded an award-winning young dairy farmer, his wife and children with hundreds of chilling death threats.

The American activists blasted Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore with a firestorm of vicious non-stop online abuse for five days.

The mob latched on to the couple, who are in their 30s, after they posted on social media about their new triplet calves.

See also: FW Awards 2017 – Diversification Farmer of the Year winners

The Crickmores, who run Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay, north Suffolk, scooped the Farmers WeeklyDiversification Farmer of the Year Award last year. . . 


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