Rural round-up

08/03/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Genetics gain facilitates lower cow numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why we should be using wool carpets – Jacqueline Rowarth:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

31/12/2020

Tasman growers and farmers brace for lasting damage from hail storm – Tracy Neal:

Farmers and growers are counting the cost – thought to be in the tens of millions of dollars – of the Boxing Day hailstorm in Tasman.

It shredded vineyards, smashed greenhouses, dented and bruised apples, kiwifruit and hops and severely damaging buildings in Motueka.

Some say it was the worst hailstorm in living memory, in a region where recent summers have been marred by cyclones, floods, and fires. . .

Brexit: EU-UK deal hurts NZ exporters says  Beef + Lamb :

The meat industry is urging the government to fight new quotas for local exporters as part of new trade deal between the UK and European Union.

The post-Brexit agreement will mean access will be more controlled.

A new quota will force Kiwi sheep and beef exporters to split their product between the UK and EU, even if one of the markets is not going well.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said it was a major step back in trade. . . 

High season for rural theft – Mark Daniel:

Rural insurance company FMG claims data has shown that January is the time when thieves are out and about looking to relieve farmers and rural dwellers of their property.

Stephen Cantwell, FMG’s manager advice services, says theft is the leading cause of farm contents claims at that time of year.

“January appears to be the month when thieves are at their most active, resulting in a higher number of claims, but also with average values up by 23%,” he says.

The rural insurance specialist suggests there are actions people can take to help to deter thieves targeting your property. . . 

Concerns over ‘rural generalists’ as doctors in Greymouth – Lois WIlliams:

Is rural generalism best for the Coast?

In recent weeks, various medics and their union have – unusually for the profession – aired their views in this paper on the use of ‘rural generalists’, a new breed of doctor increasingly being employed on the West Coast to work both in hospitals and at GP clinics.

For the West Coast District Health Board, ‘rural generalists’ or rural health specialists, as they’re also known, are a godsend: the answer to the region’s perennial difficulties in attracting specialists and GPs. But the senior doctors union, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, has warned of their potential to displace more highly-trained doctors, and ultimately reduce West Coast residents’ access to that level of care. What is the community supposed to make of this? What exactly are rural generalists and how safe are people in their hands? . .

Conduit for growers, researchers – Colin Williscroft:

Late last month Kiwifruit Vine Health liaison adviser and technical specialist Linda Peacock received the Minister’s Award at the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, recognising more than 30 years of dedicated service to the industry. Colin Williscroft reports.

When Linda Peacock received her award from Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor she told the Wellington audience that a key part of her work involves providing a link between growers and researchers to ensure the collaboration the industry is renowned for continues.

“I talk to people,” Peacock said.

“I help people on the land understand what some of the big words mean and I tell scientists what those people want and have to know, so they can do what they do. . . 

Developing a Great Pyrenees into a poultry guardian – Uptown Farms:

When we first started raising working Great Pyrenees puppies, our dogs went almost exclusively to sheep and goat farms or occasionally to guard cattle herds. But initially, we fielded no requests at all for poultry dogs.

Fast forward to today, and sometimes as many as half the pups in a single Uptown Farms litter are being sent to farms to actively guard birds. Below are some considerations we share with our customers who are looking for poultry or small animal guardians. Please note, we do currently have birds at Uptown Farms, but this is a combination of advice and tips from our customers through the years who have successfully developed poultry dogs. For information on bringing home a livestock guardian, please refer here.

1. Start with a working dog. Starting with a working pup is the most important step for whatever type of working dog you are needing. . .


Rural round-up

07/12/2020

Real meat is green – Viv Forbes:

Wandering recently through an arcade popular with the green smoothie set, I saw a sign boasting: “Plant Based Meat”.

Someone should advise those nutritional dunderheads that all real meat is plant-based. Real beef and lamb are built from live plants like grasses, lucerne and mulga, plus salt, minerals and clay; the best chicken is built mostly on seeds and shoots of wheat, corn and grasses plus a few worms, insects and gizzard-grit; and when I was a kid our bacon was built by porkers from pollard, whey and vegetable scraps.

Cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, deer, bison, rabbits, turkeys and kangaroos have a long history of providing meat for our ancestral hunters and farmers. In tough times the gatherers and gardeners collected and cultivated survival foods like wild onions, seasonal fruit, cabbages, tubers and grass seeds. But there was always a celebratory feast when the hunters returned with high-nutrition meat. . . 

Meat sector’s five-year targeted plan – Neal Wallace:

The meat sector has outlined four goals for the next five years, which it says will target the sustainable growth of value and enhance people, animals and the environment.

The heart of the strategy, set by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), is to generate sustainable profits, premium value, vibrant communities and to be trusted guardians. 

Sustainable profits will come from greater innovation, performance and productivity; premium value from creating and capturing value; vibrant communities from economic growth and employment; and trusted guardianship from being guardians of reputation, animals, water and land.

The latest strategy follows the Red Meat Sector Strategy from 2011 and establishes the priorities B+LNZ and the MIA will work on with industry partners over the next five years. . . 

Contribution to wellbeing recognised – Mark Daniel:

Farmstrong is tipping its hat to the farmers and growers of New Zealand who have contributed to it winning two awards at the recent 2020 New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards.

Farmstrong took out the sector leadership and overall honours with the Supreme Award. The judges highlighted that Farmstrong’s intense focus on the mental health of the rural community…”with a programme that seeks to engage with farmers in a relatable and authentic way, which a generation ago would have seemed unlikely”.

“Everyday farmers and growers have driven this programme by sharing their personal wellbeing stories and, with it, giving other farmers and growers the permission, confidence and practical ideas on how they can invest in their own wellbeing,” says Farmstrong project manager Gerard Vaughan. . . 

Big toys for old boys – Tom Hunter:

Attentive readers of this blog – especially our TDS-infused Lefties – will have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much as normal, even as an important US election has been playing out.

There’s a simple reason for this, and it’s based on something I spotted some months ago via our linked blog, Home Paddock.

With the border closures in early 2020 every agricultural contractor found themselves in trouble because they had come to rely upon a flow of young English and Irish guys who knew how to drive combine harvesters, side-dressers, planters and the rest of the complex, computerised machinery that is the basis of modern farming. Think of them as the harvesting version of snow bums who follow Winter around the world’s skifields.

As a result of this, contractors have been forced to call on guys like me; old bastards who last drove tractors decades ago. But the call had gone out, so in the manner of the Soviet call for all hands on deck in 1941, I decided to give it a crack. . . 

Fonterra forks out for Christmas – Hugh Stringleman:

The 20c increase in advance payments will deliver $300 million more into farmers’ bank accounts, more than half of it before Christmas.

The new range is $6.70 to $7.30 and the midpoint has risen from $6.80 to $7.

When back-paid, the 20c increase in advance payments will deliver $300 million more into farmers’ bank accounts, more than half of it before Christmas.

The widely anticipated upgrade for the milk price accompanied its first quarter trading results, including a 40% increase in normalised earnings compared with the previous corresponding period. . .

Brexit is a betrayal of Britain’s farms – James Rebanks:

I think George Eustice, the PR man turned Secretary of State for the Environment, was still telling homely stories about his Cornish farming grandfather when my mobile phone starting ringing. I was moving my flock of sheep down a lane with my sheepdogs and had planned to catch up with the news when I got back to the farmhouse. I looked at the missed calls then stuffed the phone back in my pocket.

Lots of people, including journalists and friends, were calling to ask what I made of the new agricultural policies announced by Mr Eustice. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised: I wrote a book called English Pastoral about how farming and nature in this country got into this mess, so people expect me to have some kind of intelligent opinion on what is happening and whether it is good or bad. And so, having read the documents and listened to Mr Eustice, here is mine.

Our agricultural policies are going to change — hugely — from what they have been under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). And since the tragic decline of biodiversity on British farmland happened under that policy, this is overall a welcome development. . .


Rural round-up

12/08/2020

Leading by example – Gerald Piddock:

Being responsible to their land, animals, people and their community has earned a Hawke’s Bay couple the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. Gerald Piddock reports.

Being a responsible dairy farmer means more than just being industry role models to Nick and Nicky Dawson.

It involves working beyond the farm bubble in the wider community and nurturing the health of people, the environment and their animals.

“It’s all interconnected,” Nicky says. 

“It’s like a three-legged stool. You can’t have one without the other.” . . 

Time running out for ag contractors as spring approaches – Gerald Piddock:

October is looming as a crunch-month for agricultural contractors and dairy farmers as the scramble continues to find staff to drive machinery to plant summer feed crops and cut grass cut for silage.

Waikato Federated Farmers vice-president Ben Moore said there was huge concern that contractors would not have enough staff on the ground to meet demand from dairy farmers as border restrictions continue to prevent overseas farm machinery operators from entering the country to work this spring and summer.

The region was still recovering from last summer’s drought with feed reserves on many farms already low. 

Moore feared there could be a potential disaster if farmers are unable to get their summer supplementary feed supply organised and there was another very dry summer. . . 

Ag contractor training gearing up – Mark Daniel:

Agricultural contractors are warning about a severe shortage of skilled machinery operators for the upcoming harvest season.

The shortage is due to New Zealand’s closed borders, shutting out staff from overseas. In response, a number of training organisations are offering displaced local workers and jobseekers a basic grounding in the sector.

In the South Island, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is promoting its ‘An Introduction to Agricultural Contracting’ course – based at its Telford Campus, near Balclutha. This initiative was the result of SIT’s discussions with Rural Contractors NZ Ltd (RCNZ) and some key players in the contracting sector in Otago and Southland – who all wanted to do something positive to address the need for trained contracting staff. . .

Lake Hawea to host world ploughing championships

The world’s best exponents of the art of ploughing are coming to Lake Hawea, but not for quite a while.

An Upper Clutha group of ploughing enthusiasts announced on Saturday they had secured the 2028 world championships.

That means 60 of the best “ploughmen” from farming communities around world will load up their tractors and ploughs, ship them to New Zealand and carve out furrows across the flat paddocks south of the lake.

Organising committee chairman John Osborne said his committee had spent two years preparing Lake Hawea’s case for the event, “basically trying to prove to the New Zealand executive we have facilities up here to have all these world guys here”. . . 

Industry hunters step up for annual event  – Jared Morgan:

Ask hunters where exactly in Central Otago they shot their haul in the annual Manuherikia Boar, Buck and Stag Hunt and they are unlikely to tell you.

They want to protect their turf and believe the results speak for themselves.

Yesterday marked weigh-in day in the annual three-day fundraiser for the Alexandra Scout Group.

It was heartland rural New Zealand at its best if the atmosphere at the weigh-in and prize-giving was anything to go by. . . 

Matching beef yields and consumer expectations :

ENHANCING the red meat value chain through a greater understanding of efficient use of farm resources, better use of grazing mosaics, and the production of cattle that reach and exceed domestic and export ready standards is the aim of a new four-year partnership for the west.

The University of Western Australia and Meat & Livestock through the MLA Donor Company have joined forces to coordinate and drive an integrated research and practice change program for the West Australian beef Industry.

The partnership, BeefLinks, will provide better knowledge and a range of technologies to support the sustainability credentials of products and interconnectivity between producers, processors and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/01/2020

The journey’s only just begun – Mark Butterick:

Member of lobby group 50 Shades of Green, Mike Butterick on what the group is standing for in 2020.

What an extraordinary nine months since the first meeting in the Wairarapa of people concerned with the rapid change of land use from sheep and beef production into blanket planting pine trees.

It’s been quite the journey; our conclusion is a lack of strategic thinking and a reluctance to get out from behind Wellington desks has driven some bizarre decision making delivering perverse outcomes for NZ Inc. NZ farming won’t be digging itself out of these impacts with production gains.

We are opposed to the sale of good productive agricultural land to subsidised forestry in the way of carbon credits. In our view, it’s undermining all kiwis’ short- and long-term wealth and wellbeing.  . . 

Meat tax ‘unnecessary’ when primary sector already making emission cuts, farming industry says :

Beef and Lamb New Zealand says a potential meat tax in the United Kingdom would be “unnecessary” when the primary sector is already doing their bit to cut emissions. 

A report by the UK’s Climate Change Committee is proposing a tax could help reduce consumption of meat and dairy products by 20 per cent.

The Committee said the ‘meat tax’ could also prevent seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere by the industry. 

However, Beef and Lamb NZ spokesperson Jeremy Baker told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning the “blunt” proposal by the Climate Change Committee would not be needed, when the industry has already cut their emissions by 30 per cent since 1990.  . . 

Farming leaders must set record straight – Steven Cranston:

Now the Government has handed the responsibility of how agriculture will manage and reduce its emissions back to the industry itself, we have been landed an incredible opportunity to turn our emissions profile into the positive story it deserves to be.

The message we need to start sending is that agriculture has one of the smallest global warming impacts of any major industry in New Zealand. The only way to demonstrate that is by completing a full emissions budget.

The routine criticism that farmers receive is largely a result of our industries own failure to tell the whole story. Agriculture has taken a defensive approach for too long. Simply saying we are efficient compared to other global producers is selling ourselves short. Agriculture in general is nowhere near as harmful to the climate as is often described and NZ, with our large swaths of native bush probably contributes less to global warming than any other international producer. We only have ourselves to blame for the situation we now find ourselves in. . .

 

Helping hand with heavy metal – Mark Daniel:

Tractor and machinery distributors have stepped in to offer assistance to fire-affected Aussie farmers.

While rain has brought some relief to the fire-ravaged areas of Australia; it will take many months to clean up, re-fence, re-stock, replant crops, grow forage for animals and restore a sense of normality.

Several tractor and machinery distributors have recognised the plight of their customers and are taking positive steps to help with the recovery. New Zealand-owned PFG Australia, part of the Power Farming Group based in Morrinsville, has launched its Fire Relief Programme 2020. This will see the company working with key suppliers to initiate clean up and recovery operations throughout Australia. The initiative will run for the whole year, utilising a fleet of tractors and machinery valued at around AU$2million.  . . 

Sisters taking equestrian world by storm – Sally Brooker:

Sisters growing up on a North Otago dairy farm have leapt into national prominence.

Emma (13) and Samantha (14) Gillies finished first and second respectively in the open pony championship at the national showjumping championships in Christchurch this month.

Less than three seconds and only five points separated them after five rounds of competition.

The girls live at Waitaki Bridge, just south of the Waitaki River, on a farm running 1100 cows. . . 

Records all round for dairy and meat exports:

The first four months of the 2019/20 dairy export season has set records, boosted by higher prices and volumes, Stats NZ said today.

Lamb and beef export prices also reached record levels at the end of 2019. Dairy products and meat, New Zealand’s top goods exports, together account for almost 40 percent of the value of annual goods exports.

In the ongoing 2019/20 dairy export season, the value of dairy exports rose 17 percent from August to December 2019 compared with the same period last year, with quantity up 6.7 percent. . . 

Brit meat eaters say they feel ‘shamed’ but James Haskell slams ‘dangerous nonsense’ – Rob Knight &Joseph Wilkes:

As a study of 2,000 adults found a quarter of meat eaters feel shamed in this pro vegan/vegetarian era, I’m A Celeb star James Haskell slams ‘nonsense written about meat which I think is really dangerous’

Beefcake athlete James Haskell advised true meat eaters not to be ‘shamed’ into shunning bacon, beef and banger meal favourites – as long as their diet is balanced.

Man-mountain rugby star James revealed millions of carnivores fear criticism over their choice of food in this pro vegan/vegetarian era.

A study of 2,000 adults found a quarter of meat eaters feel shamed for their culinary choice, with one half admitting they went on to cut down their meat-based protein intake. .  .


Rural round-up

15/11/2019

Talking key on young farmers’ road home – Alice Scott:

The pressures of the modern world are taking their toll on the mental state of the country’s young people. Alice Scott talks to a young rural lad who has been through it and come out the other side.

Ticking along in his tractor at 11kmh, Harry Railton is drilling the last of the 100ha of oats for the next season, the ryecorn paddocks are up next and then that will be him for the season, as far as tractor work goes.

We establish that his location, in Tekapo, is somewhat outside the Southern Rural Life delivery zone, but, he agrees, it doesn’t matter; battling one’s own inner demons is a universal issue and one that is becoming more important to talk about as the modern world becomes just too much to take for some . .

National and Freshwater November 2019 – Elbow Deep:

I was less than enthusiastic at the thought of attending National MP Todd Muller’s water meeting in Ashburton last month. This wasn’t through any fault of Muller, National’s spokesperson for agriculture, but rather his party’s approach to the raft of challenges farmers are currently facing.

National’s proxies have been advocating for public protest both openly on social media and behind closed doors with industry groups. Protest was a disaster for farmers at the last election and, no matter how good it may have been for the National Party, I still don’t see it as a constructive or useful tool.

Another reason for my antipathy was the recent policy announcement coming from the National Party leaders; the dog whistling has been so loud my Labradors are in a constant state of confusion. Even if there was evidence unvaccinated children of solo mums had caused the measles outbreak in Auckland, and there isn’t, cutting the benefits of those parents still wouldn’t have prevented it. . . .

Political parties and GMOs: we all need to move on – Grant Jacobs:

Recently more than 150 post-graduate students and young scientists presented an open letter to the Green Party via The Spinoff, encouraging them to reconsider their position on genetic modification. Their target is tackling climate change issues.[1]

Can any party continue to be dismissive about genetic modification (GM) contributing to better agriculture?

We all want safe food, and the environment and climate change are important issues to tackle. New varieties can contribute, including those developed using GM. . . .

Couple’s jersey venture promoting wool:

Two years ago, Lawrence farmers Julie and Murray Hellewell decided to seize the day and find their own answer to the dire state of New Zealand’s strong wool industry.

”We just got sick of seeing people not wearing wool. Everyone is going on about doing something about the state of the wool industry but no-one ever actually does anything. We just decided we might as well have a go ourselves,” Mr Hellewell said.

The Hellewells teamed up with wool buyer John Milne of Balclutha’s Ken Milne Wools to establish contacts in the wool sector. All of the fleece is from the Hellewell’s Perendale lamb flock; at 30 microns, the lamb fleece is used for the outer shell of the jersey and lined inside with New Zealand merino wool which is supplied through the knitwear factory. . . .

Dairy sheep open day draws huge crowd– Mark Daniel:

300 plus rurals turned up at the fifth annual Spring Sheep Co open day at Matangi near Hamilton.

The high turnout was little surprise with New Zealand’s bovine dairy industry under the pump. Pushing the message ‘Discover New Zealand’s Gentlest Milk’, building on advantages for those struggling to digest cow milk, the presenters talked the audience through Spring Sheep’s journey so far.

That journey centred around bringing together aspects like the NZ production environment, building a scaleable supply chain, understanding the needs of consumers and new product development. . .

Red meat ‘most perfect food’ for humans, closely followed by milk – Abi Kay:

Red meat is the ‘most perfect food’ for humans, closely followed by milk, according to a leading nutrition expert.

Professor Robert Pickard, emeritus professor of neurobiology at Cardiff University, said the agricultural industry had been ‘the butt of an enormous journalistic effort to sell copy by producing totally indefensible headlines’ about red meat causing cancer.

Prof Pickard also hit out at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report which claimed processed meats ‘definitely’ cause cancer and lean red meat ‘probably’ causes cancer. . .


Rural round-up

02/10/2019

Are the water proposals a done-deal? – Mark Daniel:

Big questions have been raised by farmers at an environmental roadshow on the Government’s freshwater proposals.

What’s the difference between a dairy heifer and a beef heifer? It depends. Not a lot if you’re changing from a dairy to a beef operation, as it’s not a problem.

But a change from beef to dairy heifer rearing is demanding and will likely require resource consent as it’s likely to be considered intensification. . . 

Tatua pays $8.50/kgMS for last season’s milk:

Waikato milk processor Tatua has announced a final payout of $8.50/kgMS for last season, beating all other processors including Fonterra.

The co-op, supplied by 107 shareholder farms, achieved record group income of $364 million and earnings of $140 million in 2018-19. Milksolids processed from Tatua suppliers was 14.5 million kgMS, which is our divisor for earnings.

This was lower than the prior season, due to extended dry summer conditions across our milk supply area. . .

Work to control ryegrass flowering :

A quintessential Kiwi landscape usually includes green pastures dotted with livestock munching on healthy, vibrant grass.

Those green fields are generally full of ryegrass and in late spring the ryegrass flowers. When it does, it is no longer as nutritious for the livestock feeding on it.

A research project from the University of Otago’s department of biochemistry is aiming to develop a ryegrass that does not flower on-farm.

That project, headed by Associate Prof Richard Macknight and Dr Lynette Brownfield, was this month awarded $999,999 by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Endeavour Fund “Smart Ideas”
programme. . .

Agcarm affirms safety of glysophate:

Glyphosate is used in New Zealand by farmers, councils and home gardeners. It has recorded more than 40 years of safe use and has been the subject of over 800 studies, all of which have confirmed its safety.

The herbicide offers effective and safe weed control, is low-volatility and degrades quickly in soil. It continues to be rigorously tested by regulators in New Zealand and throughout the world, with over 160 countries approving its safe use.

At the heart of the hype that questions the safety of the herbicide, is a misleading classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) made in 2015. IARC classifies substances using terms such as ‘possibly’ or ‘probably’ carcinogenic to define the potential hazard of a substance. This has led to several everyday products, including coffee, bacon and talcum powder, being categorised as ‘possibly carcinogenic’.  But the IARC report is not a risk assessment – it is the type and extent of human exposure that determines the actual risk. . .

Financial workshops aiming to empower dairy farmers planned by Dairy Women’s Network:

Helping dairy farmers gain a better understanding of their farming business and strengthening the relationship with their accountant is the focus of 10 workshops throughout New Zealand being run by the Dairy Women’s Network with support from NZ CA and CRS Software.

“As a not for profit organisation we have a focus of supporting woman in dairying in New Zealand to be the best they can be both on and off farm,” Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton said. . .

Producing food and capturing carbon – Arty Mangan:

An interview with Ariel Greenwood, a “feral agrarian” and grazer who manages a herd of cattle while restoring ecosystems.

Describe where you work.

I live and work on a 3,000-acre research preserve in the inter-coastal Mayacamas mountain range region of Sonoma County. Pepperwood has around 1,000 acres of open grassland, another several hundred of mixed oak woodland mosaic, deciduous and evergreen, and some serpentine outcropping, and then some dense dark woodlands. We actually have, I think, the eastern most stand of redwoods in the County. There’s a lot of bay trees and scrubby chaparral too in its own natural state. It’s a really breathtaking and in many ways really challenging landscape.

Pepperwood is a private operating research and ecological preserve. Really, every aspect from the vegetation to the soil to the broader watershed, and then even more largely the climate that we’re situated in is monitored and researched here with staff and other visiting researchers, so it’s very much a progressive conservation-oriented place. This is considered quite a robust eco-tone, the meeting of several different environments. . .


Rural round-up

16/07/2019

Saving the planet one post at a time – Mark Daniel:

Working as a farmer and fencing contractor for 15 years made Jerome Wenzlick very familiar with fence posts — now he’s “saving the planet one post at a time”.

Over these 15 years, Wenzlick says he saw quality slipping, wastage rising because of breaking posts and at times post availability was a problem.

He had a ‘eureka moment’ during a fencing job next to an old rubbish dump where he had posts breaking on plastics hidden below the surface.

“Surely if plastics are this tough we should be making fence posts from them,” he mused. . . 

The nation’s least worst farmers – Luke Chivers:

Banks Peninsula farmer and self-confessed radical Roger Beattie is never short of new ideas for the primary sector. Luke Chivers visited him to hear about some of the maverick’s pet projects.

On the south side of Banks Peninsula, where the wind gives the tussocks a permanent bend and the next stop is Antarctica, Roger Beattie is mustering his next big plan.

The wild sheep breeder, blue pearl and kelp harvester and would-be weka farmer wants to explain how unique foods and fibres can be produced by combining the diversity of nature with Kiwi can-do ingenuity. . .

How to make $700 a day from trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Let us talk about planting trees.

It is, after all, the season for doing just that.

I’m not planting the big numbers I once did, mainly because I’ve filled in all the places where trees were a better option but partly because I’m slowing down.

I’ve planted something like 60,000 trees myself, which sounds reasonably impressive until I mention 30,000 were pine trees. . .

From the ground up – Maureen Howard:

We’ll need to feed extra billions by mid century while being kinder to the land and reducing planet-heating carbon emissions to zero. The challenge has prompted some to call for a great food transition.  Maureen Howard talks to a farmer playing his part.

“It’s like cottage cheese, but black,” says Peter Barrett of the soil that lies beneath Linnburn Station, his 9300ha beef and sheep station at Paerau in Central Otago.

Above ground, depending on the time of year, sheep may be spotted grazing beneath the gaze of yellow sunflowers, surrounded by a mix of up to 30 other plant species.

Not just a pretty postcard, Linnburn Station is home to 25,000 winter stock units. In fact, this is farming close the limits. Much of the terrain is exposed rocky high country and for the past two years, the already low mean annual rainfall has declined to just 170mm. Temperatures fluctuate from below zero to 40degC. . .

The record-setting $10,000 dog – Sally Rae:

This is the story of a dog called Jack.

Bear with, as it can get a little confusing given that Jack – sold for a record price of $10,000 at last week’s PGG Wrightson Ashburton dog sale at Mayfield – was bred by another Jack.

Lake Hawea Station farm manager Jack Mansfield (24) bred Jack the heading dog, giving him to his great-uncle, renowned triallist Peter Boys, when the pup was 2 months old.

Mr Boys owned Jack’s sire and it was “general rule of thumb” to give a pup in return.

Mr Boys, a retired farmer who lives in Timaru, named the pup Jack and trained him up. . .

Rural Safety and Health Alliance kicks off – Sharon O’Keeffe:

Sometimes you need to go back to square one when tackling something as important as farm safety, particularly when there hasn’t been a significant improvement in the statistics.

A new partnership of rural research and development corporations is investing in a fresh approach to improve primary production’s health and safety record centred on innovative research and extension.

The partnership, called the Rural Safety and Health Alliance will invest in practical extension solutions informed by industry input on work, health and safety risks. . . .

 


Rural round-up

30/08/2018

Farmer gets back on feet after cattle disease Mycoplasma strikes – Gerard Hutching:

Ashburton dairy farmer Frank Peters is feeling more optimistic than in May when he tearfully watched 300 of his “beautiful” calves being sent off to slaughter.

They had no signs of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis but the fact others in the 1400-strong herd were infected was enough for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to pronounce the death sentence.

So far he has been compensated “about $2 million” for the replacement of his cattle. Nationwide $18.9m worth of claims have been paid out, from $25.3m received. . .

Mycoplasma bovis confirmed in Northland district:

Biosecurity New Zealand today confirmed a property in Northland has tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis. It’s the first time the disease has been found in this region. 

The infected property is a dry stock beef farm. The farm, as with all other infected properties, was identified through the tracing of animals movements from known infected farms and is under a Restricted Place legal notice under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm. . .

Micro-credentials give biosecurity industry edge – Yvonne O’Hara:

Biosecurity-focused micro-credentials (MC) will be the one of the first bite-sized qualifications available from Primary ITO, once the relevant rules and paperwork are signed off.

The industry training organisation is also planning micro-credentials for dairy and horticulture.

Primary ITO chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said the relevant legislation had been passed earlier this year, which allowed training organisations to offer the micro-credentials to their workplace-based students. . .

 Guy Trafford confronts the challenges of extensive milk regulations, and relates that to the incidence of Listeriosis and its fatal outcomes:

Just when the M Bovis story appeared to have had quietened down another twist has appeared, although this may not be what the headlines intimate.

Earlier this week, it was reportedAlfons Zeestraten, the farmer MPI appeared to consider to be at the centre of where M Bovis got started, was to appear at the Invercargill District Court. The charges relate to the importation of machinery; Zeestraten has stated that he is innocent of the charges. MPI have refused to comment on the case. If the charges are indeed unrelated to the M Bovis outbreak MPI would be doing everybody a service in stating that, given the emotions and interest surrounding the disease, and stop a lot of speculation.

On to more normality, the price of milk to consumers has reared its head again, this time with Chris Lewis Federated Farmers Dairy Chair leading the calls to boycott supermarkets and support corner dairies who he finds sell it far cheaper. New Zealand has the third highest milk consumption per head of capita, however, our milk prices appear to be driven by the highest price able to be gained on the international markets. Consumers point to other countries that can sell milk at a considerable discount to what is charged in New Zealand. . .

Farmers are now ‘up to their elbows’ in calves – Ella Stokes:

Calving season is in full swing for many dairy farmers around the region. This week Southern Rural Life reporter Ella Stokes  caught up with Clydevale farmer and calf rearer Phillippa Foster.Polaris

At this time of year Phillippa Foster said she was always ”up to her elbows in calves” but said she loved the job.

She and husband Greg originally farmed in Taranaki before moving south five years ago.

They were now 50/50 sharemilkers on their Clydevale farm near Balclutha. Their children Greer (10) and Preston (12) attended Clutha Valley School . .

 

LUV training hits the spot – Mark Daniel:

Quads and light utility vehicles (LUV) get a bad rap because operators’ poor skills and riding judgement cause crashes. Quality training can reduce such incidents.

Jacks Farm Machinery, Whakatane, a forward-thinking machinery dealer in the Bay of Plenty region known for horticulture, decided to act.

This supplier of Polaris quads and LUVs was already in the business of certified modifying Ranger and Ace models to allow them to work under pergolas in kiwifruit orchards; this also allowed orchardists to switch from quads to LUVs. . . 

Not a bad apple – Gala passes Red Delicious as America’s favourite – Nathan Bomey:

At their core, Americans have changed – at least when it comes to their apple preferences.

The Red Delicious apple is expected to lose its title as the most popular apple in the US this year, a perch it held for more than half a century.

The US Apple Association is projecting that the gala apple will usurp the red delicious for the top spot.

The group, which advocates on behalf of 7500 US apple growers and 400 companies in the apple business, predicted that the US would grow 52.4 million Gala apples in 2018, up 5.9 per cent from a year earlier. . .

 

Environment water for sale in drought-hit Victoria

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has announced a sale of 20 gigalitres of water from the Goulburn Valley in Victoria.

The water will be sold udner a competitive tender which opens at 10:00am Monday September 3 2018 and will close at 2:00pm Wednesday September 5.

There will be a minimum bid size of 5 megalitres and a maximum bid size of 500ML, which the CEWH said would balance the access of small and large irrigators to the trade.


Rural round-up

16/04/2018

Farmers have lost faith in MPI – Annette Scott:

Farmers must not let dairy cattle be taken for slaughter till they are sure they will get compensation, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

He wants the Mycoplasma bovis decision-makers to front up as the second round of culling infected herds gets going.

All confidence in compensation promises had been lost, he said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries late last month said a further 22,300 cattle from all infected properties will be killed by the end of May. . . 

Science and technology at every farmers’ fingers tips – Pat Deavoll:

In the three and a half years I have spent as a farming reporter, nothing has struck me more than how hi-tech the industry has become.

Gone are the days when a farmer could step into his father’s shoes and expect to follow the same time-tested methods and be successful.

In this age of uber-production, every sector is based on an application of science, research and technology that is changing at a mind-boggling rate. And farmers are required to change with it. In fact, I read somewhere that by 2025 farmers will need a tertiary qualification to keep up. . .

Lactoferrin – a magic ingredient – Hugh Stringleman:

Lactoferrin became the flavour of the month when Fonterra’s giant New Zealand Milk Products division held an exhibition of its advanced ingredients on the day rival processor Synlait said it will double its production of the pricy protein.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding milk protein distinguished by its pink crystalline form, produced in small quantities and sold for high prices – perhaps $500/kg or more.

NZMP’s display said it takes 10,000 litres of milk and smart freeze-dry technology to make one kilogram of lactoferrin, which has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancement qualities. . .

Kiwi farmers’ validity at stake – Deborah Rhodes:

As we stare down the barrel of a global consumer revolution we need to be brave to tell them what they want: not what they demand, but what we are going to supply them.

The concept of appealing to every whim of the consumer has driven our farming mentality to that of the oil business: reap now and pay later. Now we are starting to pay as we scramble towards trying to prove in our dairy business that we are different from the rest, and we are — but for how long? . . .

Good – could have done better at Owl Farm – Mark Daniel:

It’s been a challenging season down on the banks of the Waikato River for St Peters School’s Owl Farm.
Tracking behind the previous season, the farm is hoping an extended lactation will help pull things back into line.

Visitors at a farm focus day in late March were told that overall production is down by about 5000kgMS (-3%) and still trending downward.

The farm has more cows (412) than last season (378) but performance per cow has been lower, as has the average yield of 363kgMS versus last year’s 370kgMS in the same period. . . .

As dairy crisis crushes farmers, Wisconsin’s rural identity in jeopardy – Rick Barrett:

Kyle Kurt fought to keep his emotions just below the surface as he talked about selling off his herd of Holstein dairy cows, which he’s milked twice a day, 365 days a year, through good times and bad.

Dairy farming has been Kurt’s livelihood, and his passion, since he graduated from Lodi High School 18 years ago. But come Monday, he’s having an auction to sell his cows, his milking equipment, his tractors and other farm machinery that he’s spent years acquiring.

It’s probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Kurt said, “but I have been told it’s going to be a big weight lifted off my back.”

Scores of Wisconsin farmers are in a similar predicament. And with them, a way of life that has defined much of the state for more than a century and a half is disintegrating. . .


Rural round-up

11/02/2018

Pest eradication has more birds singing – Kerrie Waterworth:

A four-year plan to trap stoats, rats, possums and weasels in the Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka, is music to the ears, writes Kerrie Waterworth.

This summer, for the first time in years, tourist jet-boat operators report hearing birds in the forests of the Matukituki Valley between Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring.

Wanaka-based River Journeys guide James Blunt has been taking tourists up the Matukituki River for six years and said he had really started noticing the birdsong since October.

“We’ve gone from long periods of nothing to now getting four to six species of birds most trips.” . . 

Environmental concerns prompt changes – Pam Tipa:

Concerns about the sensitive environment of the Kaipara Harbour prompted the top-performing drystock unit Te Opu to transition from sheep and beef breeding to a successful unit finishing bulls and lambs.

This gave the farm the flexibility needed to respond to the sensitive environmental challenges of its location on the Kaipara Harbour shores.

The farm is now a three year Beef + Lamb NZ environmental focus farm sponsored from several sources. . .

Fish farms get pollution blame – Tim Fulton:

Fish farming in Mackenzie Basin hydro canals is feeding worms usually found in sewage, aquatic expert Rowan Wells says.

Wells, a NIWA freshwater botanist, monitored the health of the glacier-fed water and said the ecosystem in the waterways around the area’s salmon farms was clearly degraded.

NIWA was reporting to Meridian Energy on algae and periphyton and fungal bacterial matter coating rocks and plants. . . 

First up best dressed – Mark Daniel:

The rising fortunes of global farming are raising the demand for European-made tackle, which might signal supply problems for Kiwi farmers and contractors looking to hit the new season with new toys.

Several importers and distributors — including Origin Agroup that imports Pottinger, Joskin and Alpego, and Power Farming Wholesale that imports and distribute McHale, Kverneland and Maschio – are advising early ordering to guarantee delivery by late August.

“European manufacturers were predicting a 3% rise in volumes for the 2018 season after a couple of stagnant years,” David Donnelly, managing director of Origin Agroup told Rural News. . .

Dual meat-Wool sheep sell well – Alan Williams:

Good prices were secured across the board at the annual Rollesby Valley onfarm lamb sales on Thursday with halfbreds especially in strong demand for their dual wool and meat income.

About 20,000 lambs from 12 vendors were sold across nine properties in the wider Burkes Pass area of inland South Canterbury.

Most were store lambs but a good number of primes sold well for processing,with a top price of $160 and the better types trading up from about $130. The second cut of primes sold at $120 to $129, PGG Wrightson’s South Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said. . .


Rural round-up

29/01/2018

Raising profile of farm careers – Sally Rae:

Brought up in a Southland farming family, Olivia Ross grew up living and breathing  the red meat sector.

From raising pet lambs to seeing processing chains process the property’s lambs each year, her exposure to the industry was unlimited.

After leaving Takitimu Primary School in the rural township of Nightcaps, she headed to boarding school in Invercargill and that was when her association with, and understanding of, the urban population began. . . 

Strong sales show venison, velvet booming:

Confidence in the future profitability of venison and velvet production has flowed through to the market for sire stags, with strong sales reported throughout the country, Deer Industry New Zealand says.

Breeders reported a marked improvement on last year’s results. Although no stags broke the $100,000 mark, average prices were up strongly for most sales, several by more than 50%. The overall clearance rate was  94%, compared with 83% last year.

Venison schedule prices to farmers normally peak  each year in October before the last chilled shipments leave for Europe for the annual game meat season. This season, prices  continued to rise into January, with the published average now around a record $10.30kg for a carcass in the preferred weight range, DINZ chief executive Dan Coup said. . . 

Better dialogue needed to help bridge divide with farming’s critics – Andrew McGivern:

The weather certainly plays on people’s minds in different ways at this time of year.

Those planning a holiday at the beach naturally have a different perspective to those estimating pasture growth to determine if there will be a feed surplus or deficit for their animals.

Until last year, I would have never said that you can’t get too much rain over that late summer/early autumn period, but the Tasman Tempest closely followed by two cyclones made a liar out of me.

And with the early hot and dry start to summer we had in December, the immediate future for farmers in the Waikato was looking bleak. But we had that rain in early January and have now had a bit of a follow up, so once again the grass is growing, and things are starting to look up.

The decline in milk production has stirred the overseas markets up with GlobalDairyTrade prices improving. That also buoys farmers’ morale, knowing that it is strengthening the milk price. . . 

Synlait’s 2017 / 2018 Forecast Milk Price Remains Steady at $6.50:

Synlait Milk has reaffirmed its milk price forecast of $6.50 kgMS for the 2017 / 2018 season.

However the company has signalled that this forecast is dependent on commodity prices continuing to firm for the rest of the season.

“Our price of $6.50 kgMS has remained in place since May 2017, but global pricing remains unpredictable,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

No regrets after going robotic – Mark Daniel:

While robotic (voluntary) milking systems appear to be gaining in popularity, the Fisher Farm, between Cambridge and Te Awamutu, has a head start on today’s converts.

Now well into its sixth season, the operation milks 300 cows over 80ha, and lays claim to the title of being the first farm in Waikato to install a DeLaval VMS.

When owner John Fisher first looked at the concept, the farm had a traditional herringbone milking shed without a feed pad, and was operated by two full-time staff and a relief milker.  . . 

 

Booming horticulture exports forecast to soon rise to $5.6b – Jamie Gray:

Horticulture is fast becoming agriculture’s “fourth engine” and will soon rival the meat industry in export receipts, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, in its latest update, said horticulture’s strong growth is forecast to continue, with exports expected to reach $5.4 billion for the year ending June before rising to $5.6b in the next year.

Meat and wool export revenue is forecast to increase 4.2 per cent to $8.7b in the year, supported by strong red meat prices and increasing exports of value-added products, then to $8.8b the following year. . . 

Hort’s performance worth watching as avocados smash records – Andrew Marshall:

Supercharged activity in several horticulture categories in recent years has prompted Rural Bank to tag the sector as one to watch closely in 2018.

In particular, a couple of notable movers smashing records in domestic and export markets are avocados and oranges.

In the vegetable industry, crops with increasing export market traction and likely price growth in the year ahead include asparagus, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, according to Rural Bank’s Ag Answers research team. . . 


Rural round-up

20/11/2017

Out fishing while his cows milk – Mark Daniel:

Dairy farming was always a likely career path for Graham Barlow, of Fermanagh Farm, in the Piako district of Waikato.

The farm name gives a clue to the family heritage: a great-grandfather came to New Zealand from County Fermanagh in northwest Ireland many moons ago.

Milking 320 Jerseys calving in March (75%) and November (25%) on 90ha, Barlow went straight from schooling to dairy farming, soon realised he hated milking but was interested in all things technical; he describes himself as a techno-geek. . .

62 years and counting:

AI technician Don Shaw (79) has been surrounded by dairy cows his entire life, bringing many calves into the world.

Raised on an Ohaupo farm, Shaw is a fourth generation New Zealand dairy farmer. For the last 62 years he’s worked as an AI technician, inseminating about 250,000 cows.

Although now retired from a sales consultant role at CRV Ambreed, Shaw is still an AI technician, working October and November on four Waikato farms, inseminating cows. . . 

First and second wins for southern family in Mate & Wool cup – Pat Deavoll:

The Gibson family of Foulden Hill, Middlemarch earned a quinella when their cattle took out first and second places in the Meat & Wool Cup at the Canterbury A&P Show.

Yearling hereford bull Foulden Hill Mustang narrowly pipped its two-year-old santa gertrudis colleague to take the title. 

What’s more, Mustang had earlier won the Junior Meat & Wool Cup over a charolais heifer owned by the Fisher family of Banks Peninsula. . . 

Open Gates:

The whole country cares about what’s happening with our waterways, including us.

And we want to show you what we’re doing to protect them. Things like planting, fencing to keep cows out of the water and managing nitrogen. So, come and visit one of the 40 farms we’re opening.

Open Gates is a chance to talk first hand to farmers, walk around their farm and see what they’re doing to care for the environment and their animals. It’s also an opportunity to ask them about their farm management and future plans.  . . 

Gene discovery may halt world-wide wheat epidemic

University of California, Davis, researchers have identified a gene that enables resistance to a new devastating strain of stem rust, a fungal disease that is hampering wheat production throughout Africa and Asia and threatening food security worldwide.

The discovery by UC Davis wheat geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky and his team will help breeders more quickly develop varieties that can fend off the deadly pathogens and halt a worldwide wheat epidemic.

The findings were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Wheat and stem rust have been in an evolutionary arms race for more than 10,000 years. . .

Collecting information from farm machinery ot gain insight – Johanna Legatt:

DON’T be thrown off by the odd-looking acronym and the complex-sounding jargon.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is really just a fancy way of talking about new technology that talks to each other with minimal human intervention.

“The concept is simply based around connected devices — they can be sensors, monitors or some sort of data-collecting device, that help perform an automatic action, such as closing a gate or recording the soil temperature,” explains General Manager of Research at the Australian Farm Institute Richard Heath.

“These devices then talk to other devices that help farmers make better decisions.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/01/2017

Trade is the life blood of the New Zealand sheep and beef sector:

While disappointed by the US decision to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the New Zealand sheep and beef sector remains strongly supportive of the Agreement and its aims, its representative organisations, the New Zealand Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) say.

Multilateral trade liberalisation creates a stable and level playing field on which to compete and it’s hugely important to the growth and future prosperity of the sheep and beef sector and New Zealand as a whole, the two organisations say.

“We estimated that a 12 nation TPP would have delivered around $72 million in tariff savings a year for the red meat sector alone – not to mention that volume growth in high-value markets that would flow from tariff reduction. The US withdrawing from the TPP is a real setback to our capitalising on these opportunities – and it’s a loss for consumers in the TPP nations,” MIA Chief Executive Tim Ritchie said. . . 

Three astronauts land in Manawatu – Mark Daniel,

Brian and Margaret Schnell bought their Bunnythorpe, Manawatu dairy farm in 1984, and were joined by their daughter Amy and husband Greg Gemmell, who became sharemilkers in 2003.

Fast forward to 2016, when they decided to replace a tired 24-aside herringbone set-up with three Lely Astronaut robots, meaning labour requirements dropped from 1.5 to 0.5 units, and a change from being milkers to supervisors.

The Schnell and Gemmell Partnership farms 240 Friesians, split 75:25 between spring and autumn calvers, now producing about 390kgMS/cow on an all grass system, and expected to rise to 450- 500kgMS/cow within three years. . . 

Champion schooled in some hard sheds – Sally Rae:

As a youngster growing up in Gisborne, champion woolhandler Joel Henare struggled with mainstream schooling.

He left school when he was about 11 and continued his studies through correspondence. 

Sometimes he accompanied his mother, who worked as a shedhand, and would “help out a bit and play around” in the woolsheds. . . 

Bee keepers say honey season ‘worst in 20 years’ :

Some frustrated beekeepers have now declared our dismal summer the worst in two decades for honey-making – but it’s still too early to say whether consumers will also feel a sting.
Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said the consistent message from beekeepers across the country was this had been a particularly bad season for yields, as poor weather kept bees from collecting nectar.

“We’ve had unseasonable weather conditions, and less predictable and shorter flowering seasons, and that is absolutely affecting honey production this year.”

No Increase in Bid for Blue Sky Meats:

NZ Binxi has received a good volume of acceptances for its offer for Blue Sky Meats (BSM) to date but would need to see acceptances continuing to flow if the offer is to succeed. All acceptances must be received by BSM shareholders by 18 February 2017.

The directors of NZ Binxi consider the cash offer of $2.20 per BSM share correct and full value for the BSM company, as it is at the top end of the value scale and is supported by the Target Company Statement. We have fully considered all aspects of the business, the competitive environment, historical and current financial results, overseas market conditions and future capital required to operate the improved business performance. . . 

The public is finally coming round to GM crops – Tom Bawden:

The public has become much more welcoming towards genetically-modified crops in the past few years, preparing the ground for them to be introduced to the UK, a leading expert has predicted.

Professor Christine Raines is in charge of a major GM project that could herald the beginning of a new era in an area that detractors say has seen disappointing progress in the past three decades.

The project, which the government will decide whether to approve next March, would involve trialling a new type of GM wheat – the first time a crop has been engineered to produce a higher yield.


Rural round-up

17/11/2016

Quake carnage raises 10m new hill at Clarence River – Tim Cronshaw:

A 10 metre high hill pushed up by the 7.5 earthquake on a previously flat river paddock has left valley farmers along the Clarence River completely flabbergasted.

The hill has appeared from nowhere on farmland along river flats about eight kilometres up the valley.

“It was completely flat and now there is a 30 foot hill in the middle of Priam’s Flat and the whole river has come up,” said Matariki farmer James Murray. “it’s unbelievable and if you hadn’t know what it looked like before you would never notice it.” . . .

Fairlie couple 2016 South Island Farmer of the Year:

A husband-and-wife “super team” has secured the title of the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year at the 2016 finals held tonight (Wednesday 16 November).

Chief Judge Nicky Hyslop says that Neil and Lyn Campbell won the judges’ praise with the “efficient, incredibly flexible and adaptive” approach to the way they have developed their dryland property. Their focus has been on systems that allow them to pursue activities that generate the most profit at the most effective point of time, with land stewardship always the foundation of their decisions.

The Campbells’ farm consists of 769ha of rolling hills and flats in Middle Valley near Fairlie in South Canterbury, producing sheep, deer breeding and finishing, and a variety of crops. . . 

Nattrass eyes another stint on Fonterra board:

Former Fonterra director Stuart Nattrass is making a bid to rejoin the co-op’s board. The South Canterbury farmer has been confirmed as a self-nominated director candidate.

He will face off with the two board-nominated directors Michael Spaans and Donna Smit.  

The self nomination process allowed any Fonterra shareholder (with the support of 35 different shareholders) to put themselves forward as a director candidate and be considered for election by their fellow shareholders alongside the previously announced Independent nomination process candidates. . . 

Fonterra running normally, helping quake-hit farmers – Mark Daniel:

With the South Island earthquake dominating our screens, Rural News Group had the opportunity to catch up with Fonterra’s Director of Farmer services, Matt Bolger at Wednesday’s Farm Focus Day at Owl Farm, Cambridge.

Bolger confirmed that since the seismic event they had been in close contact with their teams on the ground in the area, and could confirm that there were no injuries to Fonterra staff or suppliers.

He also told the largely farmer based audience that all factories in the organisation were running normally, although some had shut down automatically due to aftershocks, but were now all back on line. . . 

Crayfish confused by quake ushered back into the water – Kate Newton:

Disorientated crayfish, thrust out of the ocean onto the Kaikoura coastline, have been slowly ushered back into the water by locals.

Along the Kaikoura coastline, earthquake conversation keeps turning to the native crayfish for which the coast is named.

A horde of escaped crayfish (koura) was a side effect of Monday’s massive 7.8 magnitude shake, according to Ward resident Kerry Snell.

“When we got to the [Burkhart Fish] factory, the crayfish that were ready for the load-out, all the bins had tipped over and there were crayfish crawling everywhere. A couple of hundred. I think it was two tonnes of crayfish, just all crawling around. Disoriented too, as we all were.” . . .

Appeal Court turns down Fonterra’s bid to keep inferior terms for ex-NZDL suppliers – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has lost its bid to overturn a High Court ruling against inferior terms offered to the suppliers of the failed New Zealand Dairies Ltd business in South Canterbury. 

The Court of Appeal bench, comprising Justices Tony Randerson, Helen Winkelmann and Brendan Brown, today rejected Fonterra’s application to throw out a ruling that it breached the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act by imposing less favourable terms on farmers who had previously supplied NZDL.  . . .

Sanford’s Move From Volume to Value Helps Boost Profit 152%:

Sanford Limited (NZX:SAN) has today posted a 152% increase in net profit after tax to $34.7m for the year ended 30 September.

The Group posted an 85.5% increase in reported EBIT to $57.7m, with revenue up $13.2m to $463.5m.

Sanford CEO, Volker Kuntzsch said it’s a pleasing result after a year of focus across the business on executing the company’s volume to value strategy. . . 

Sanford annual profit more than doubles on weaker kiwi, cheaper fuel – Paul McBeth:

BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, more than doubled annual profit as a weaker kiwi dollar and cheaper fuel bolstered earnings in the face of a smaller catch, and as year-earlier impairment charges weren’t repeated.

Net profit rose to $34.7 million, or 37.1 cents per share, in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 from $13.8 million, or 14.8 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue rose 2.9 percent to $463.5 million, even as the volume of its catch shrank 11 percent as the company extracted more from a higher-value catch and a weaker kiwi generated bigger export receipts. . . 

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd v McIntyre and Williamson:

PARTNERSHIP AND ORS (CA736/2015)
[2016] NZCA 538
PRESS SUMMARY

This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found at http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz.

1. The Court of Appeal has today dismissed an appeal brought by Fonterra against a High Court ruling that Fonterra had discriminated against a group of dairy farmers by offering them less favourable terms on which it would purchase their milk.

2. The respondents are South Island dairy farmers who were contracted to supply milk to New Zealand Dairies Ltd (NZDL) when it went into receivership in May 2012.

Fonterra successfully tendered to purchase NZDL’s plant in Studholme. As part of the deal, NZDL’s suppliers agreed to switch to selling their milk to Fonterra. . . 

Good news for wine and spirit industries:

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the passing of a bill which will enable New Zealand wine and spirit makers to register the geographical origins of their products.

“The value of our wine exports has now reached $1.6 billion. We must jealously guard the reputation of New Zealand wines if we are to continue growing our wine exports,” says Mr Goldsmith.

The Bill amends the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act (the Act) to ensure the process for registering geographical indicators runs smoothly. . . 

Largest robotic farm taking shape:

A 6500-head dairy farm in Chile will become the world’s largest robotic dairy after signing an agreement to install 64 DeLaval VMS milking robots.

The farm, owned by AgrÌcola Ancali and part of the Bethia Group, already has 16 DeLaval VMS installed and averages 45.2 litres for the 920 cows going through the robotic milking system.  

Ancali AgrÌcola chief executive, Pedro Heller, says the expansion follows good results from first stage of the robotic dairy. . . 


Rural round-up

07/10/2016

NZ meat industry pioneer honoured:

New Zealand meat industry pioneer Sir Graeme Harrison has won this year’s Rabobank Leadership Award in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the food, beverage and agribusiness sectors.

Harrison, the founder and chairman of one of NZ’s largest exporters, Anzco Foods, was presented with the trans-Tasman award at the annual Rabobank Leadership Dinner in Sydney, Australia, last night.

It is the second year in a row a New Zealander has taken the honour with former Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden the recipient of the award last year.

Presenting the award, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Peter Knoblanche said Sir Graeme was a “true champion of agribusiness” who had made an enormous contribution not only as a NZ business leader, but also in the international meat industry trade”. . .

Farmers say river plan will kill businesses – Glenys Christian:

Many of the more than 150 farmers who gathered in Pukekohe last Monday believe the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers Wai Ora plan will drive them out of business or severely limit what they can do on their properties.  

And Waikato University Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth told them if the plan came into force there would be a dearth of young people returning to the land.  

New Zealand enjoyed some of the best quality wild water in the world, backed up by a huge amount of environmental protection.  

She questioned comparisons made and said a lot of the research work used by the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora collaborative stakeholder group (CSG) was based on modelling without giving enough attention to the constraints and uncertainties involved, especially went it came to Overseer programme predictions. . . 

Farmers praise Northland plan – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland’s draft regional plan is pragmatic and headed in the right direction, Federated Farmers says.  

Federated Farmers Northland province found the overall thrust of Northland Regional Council policy-making was appropriate for dairy, sheep and beef cattle farmers.  

In particular, it responded to livestock exclusion rules, setback distance from waterways, farm wastewater storage, wetlands and catchment plans for improving water quality.  

It said Northland’s freshwater resources were in a reasonable state and over-allocation and nitrate loadings were not issues. . . 

A damn load of emotional effluent – Tim Gilbertson:

The Ruataniwha water storage scheme saga has gone far beyond soap opera territory: fantasy has long since replaced fact, the noisy quashing any sense.

Here are some examples. Serial anti-RWSS crusader Grenville Christie claims riparian planting stops only phosphate from entering the waterways (CHB Mail Sept 20). Incorrect. It stops virtually everything except nitrogen.

Filtering improves water quality, in some cases by up to 80% within a few months. Nitrogen enters the rivers via groundwater, so riparian planting is ineffective. But nitrogen will be severely limited by Plan Change 6, so Grenville can rest easy. . . 

Time to wake up and get safe! – Mark Daniel:

While quad fatalities keep fuelling a media frenzy, it’s time to look at the broader picture and try to understand what makes our farms such dangerous places.

Dangerous they are: statistics between 2013 and December 2015 show farmers suffered 63 deaths*; the next-highest sectors, transport and warehousing, had 17 and forestry 14 respectively during the same period.  

So the death rate on farms is around four times higher; why is that? If you’ve visited a quarry, warehouse or forest lately, you’ll know that before you get to the action you’ll be hit with rules, hazard identification, hi-vis vests, hard hats and steel-toe boots. Easy to do, you say, on a compact ring fenced site, but much harder to do in the backblocks of New Zealand. . . 

New challenge in milking goats –  Sudesh Kissun:

South Auckland farmer Hamish Noakes had no crystal ball four years ago when he pulled out of cow dairying and started milking goats.

The 40ha family-run farm at Karaka was “just too small and milking 160 cows just wasn’t working”.  

“I was always chasing my tail; I had a lot of leased blocks so I was always running around between leased blocks and running this farm,” Hamish told Rural News. . . 

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