Rural round-up

July 1, 2018

Farmers stop cow abuser from working with animals unsupervised – Gerard Hutching:

The Northland contract milker caught hitting cows by hidden cameras has been banned from working unsupervised around animals.

Owners of the dairy farm said “as lifelong and committed dairy farmers we are shocked and deeply saddened” by the reports of the ill treatment of some stock on their farm.

“As of today the contract milker concerned has been removed from all duties requiring unsupervised contact with stock pending the outcome of due process with regard to our contractual obligations,” they said in a statement.

The man had earlier been described as a sharemilker, but the owners clarified that he is a contract milker. Sharemilkers own their own cows, whereas contract milkers work with a farm owner’s livestock. . . 

Reigning Young Farmer grand final winner ready for 50th anniversary – Mary-Jo Tohill:

If he had not won the FMG Young Farmer of the Year last year, Lovells Flat sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead would be in Invercargill giving it another go next week.

The 50th anniversary event kicks off in Invercargill on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

“I would be studying my backside off right now to have another go,” the 29-year-old said.

It is now up to another past grand finalist and this year’s Otago-Southland regional winner Logan Wallace, who farms at Waipahi, to have a shot at the Southland-based grand final. . .

Youngsters get say on future :

Farmstrong has developed a new online survey to better understand the pressures facing younger farmers and farm workers and ask them what works to improve their wellbeing.

The nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative provides tools and resources for farmers, growers and farm workers to help them better cope with the ups and downs of farming.

It will help provide a clearer picture of the things that might work to improve the wellbeing of younger farmers and farm workers.  . . 

Why there’s no rural-urban divide when it comes to caring for the environment – Melissa Clark-Reynolds:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says farmers care just as much about the environment as everyone else, and with its new Environment Strategy and Implementation plan, it plans to help sheep and beef farmers promote reduced carbon emissions, cleaner water, thriving biodiversity, and healthy productive soils. 

I recently spoke at a farmer’s event in Christchurch with a few hundred sheep and beef farmers from the northern part of the South Island. At the end of my talk, an older farmer came up to me and asked why I hadn’t talked about organics. On my way home, someone tweeted me that they’d “always said we should have declared all of New Zealand organic and GMO-free. The price premium could have been whatever we asked for.”

At the Beef + Lamb AGM recently, a group of farmers (mixed ages, from their 20s through to their 60s) asked me why I hadn’t talked more about Regenerative Agriculture – farming that heals the land, the lifeforms that dwell there, and the communities of people too. The fact that I keep being surprised by this stuff says more about me as an urban Kiwi than it does about farmers. . .

Nutrient management valuable tool if handled correctly says Allen:

The National Party’s announcement of bipartisan support for the Climate Change Commission last week made it clear that environmental conservation is currently at the forefront of political and social concern in this country.

Part of that concern is the issue of national water quality, breached by David Parker several weeks ago with his announcement of plans to introduce nationwide farm nutrient limits.

A particular point of contention was the suggestion that destocking would have to take place in certain areas to meet the new limits. However, Federated Farmers national board member Chris Allen says if all else fails, it’s just something some farmers may have to accept: . .

What makes a good farmer – Blue North:

What are the attributes of a really good farmer? Would they include a penchant for order and neatness? A single-minded focus on efficiency and yield maximization? A bullet-proof resolve in the face of risk? What about drive for expansion and scale or technical proficiency? While some or all of these may currently inform our rating of farmers, I want to propose some alternative attributes in response to this question. But before getting there, some context is needed.

One of the formative ideas, probably the most important one, that shaped our thinking when we started Blue North in 2011, and which fundamentally shapes what we do to this day, is understanding farmers as the key role-players in determining the sustainability of food supply-chains, and, by extrapolation, the sustainability of mankind as a whole. . .

What are the challenges facing farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .


Rural round-up

February 16, 2015

Work of dedicated greenie on view  – Tim Cronshaw:

A lifetime’s work by a Canterbury farmer to lay out a tree canopy on his property, the envy of many farmers, will be opened up to visitors this month.

Lochaber Downs was until lately the home of Graeme and Christine McArthur and they spent decades putting in shelterbelts, woodlots and many varieties of native trees and plants on the 680 hectare hill country and downs property at Whitecliffs, inland Canterbury.

This was rewarded with the couple being named the Husqvarna Farm Foresters of the Year for the South Island. As part of the award they will hold a field day on February 21 despite since selling the farm. The field day has been allowed to continue with the consent of new owner Ken Wragg. . .

Kiwi smashes world barley record – Alan Williams:

Timaru farmer Warren Darling set his mind on a new world barley growing record after going close last season without really trying.

His determination has paid off with the numbers and now he’s just waiting to see if Guinness World Records will ratify the result. Word from the United Kingdom-based group was expected any time.

The January 23 harvest produced a yield of 13.8 tonnes a hectare from the 11.5ha block of land on the coastal Poplar Grove Farm. . .

 Dairy man disputes barn finding – Neal Wallace:

A study questioning the merits of wintering barns or free stalls has been slammed as muddled and narrow-focused by an advocate of the system.

Ray Macleod, the manager of Landward Management, a Dunedin company specialising in hybrid dairy farming systems, said the report failed to look at the barn system as part of a year-round production cycle and confused farm intensification with better use of resources.

The study by DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman and AgFrirst consultant Phil Journeaux said the jury was still out on the financial and environmental merits of the barns. . .

Astronauts catch on to wool’s fire resistant qualities – Mary-Jo Tohill:

For merino wool protective clothing specialist Andy Caughey, there’s nothing like going straight to the source.

The New Zealand merino wool advocate was at the Central Otago A&P Show at Omakau yesterday, mingling with some of the farmers who grow wool for his UK-based brand, Armadillo Merino. 

From the sheep’s back to outer space might sound a bit far-fetched, but not when you’re talking about astronauts, whose under-garments are made from merino wool. . .

Government distrust of Fonterra ‘staggering’:

The level of Government distrust in Fonterra was a “huge shock” according to the man who led the dairy giant’s board inquiry into 2013’s botulism scare.

Speaking at an Institute of Directors function in the Waikato today, Jack Hodder, QC, said the inquiry team was taken aback by the lack of goodwill between the country’s largest company and politicians.

“That was a huge shock. That was probably the most staggering thing,” the Chapman Tripp partner said. 

“Accidents happen, but the lack of goodwill Fonterra had in Wellington was a real concern.”

Hodder said what goodwill had existed between the two “evaporated” once the botulism scare broke. . .


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