Rural round-up

17/08/2021

Feds’ worst fears realised on drinking water reforms:

Federated Farmers is profoundly disappointed to see the Water Services Bill reported back to the Parliament with the definition of a “water supplier” unchanged.

“The government has now signed itself up for the enormous task of tracking down every single source of drinking water in the land and making them belong to a register if they supply any other household,” Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

Despite extensive arguments from Federated Farmers and many others at the select committee hearings, tens of thousands of rural and farm supply arrangements will fall within the scope of the new water regulator Taumata Arowai.

The new agency takes over from the Ministry of Health to take responsibility for the quality and provision of drinking water in New Zealand. . .

Cutting red tape will help farmers in the emissions reduction race:

New Zealand’s farmers are already well into the emissions reduction journey. Science, innovation and unblocking regulatory bottlenecks by government is needed to hasten progress, Federated Farmers President and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“The latest IPCC report has been described as code red for humanity, and we need to take that seriously. But for us it’s not just about cows, and it’s not just about New Zealand.

“One reporter asked me ‘when are farmers going to start taking action?’. For a 400m Olympics analogy, we’re leading around the back straight with other nations in our wake. Our emissions per kilogram of meat and milk produced are world leading and New Zealand farmers are committed to further improving on this lead.”

There is no win for global emissions if New Zealand’s highly efficient farmers cut back production and it is replaced by less efficient farmers offshore, Andrew said. . . 

IPCC report: Important science on methane and GWP*:

Buried in a landmark IPCC report this week is a detailed and important section on the metrics for short-lived gases. We summarise the key findings and what these mean for our sector.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report reinforces that climate change is real, it’s already happening and it is contributing to the extreme weather events such as floods, storms and droughts that we are experiencing.

There’s no question that all New Zealanders, including farmers, have to contribute to reducing emissions, if we are to keep global warming in check. 

We’re working through the detail in the report, including the latest developments in the science around methane. . . 

Former townie making a go of it as head shepherd on Longacre Station – Jared Morgan:

Ben Maxwell could be described as a throwback to a different era, one where the best rugby players were weaned on the land.

Except the 25-year-old former Southlander’s journey to a career in farming and path towards becoming a handy player has not followed that playbook.

Born and raised in a city — Invercargill — his aspirations to become a farmer were forged by his extended family.

‘‘Dad’s father had a farm just out at Gorge Rd [outside Invercargill], and my uncle has a farm. . . 

WorksSafe warns of spring fatalities spike :

WorkSafe is giving farmers a heads up to be mindful of risks on farm this spring.

In spring 2020, fatalities spiked to five during the months of August and September.

Vehicles continue to be the primary source of harm in on farm fatalities. On Monday this week a person was tragically killed in an incident involving a tractor on a farm outside of Oamaru. It is understood the victim was trimming hedges at the time.

WorkSafe Manager for Regulatory Practice Brent Austin strongly urged farmers to consider four key things to avoid a repeat of 2020 as they head into the busier months on farm. . . 

Horticulture right fit for new leader – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Whitney Conder climbs off her hydraladder and gives her spaniel Dash a pat.

It is likely that he has been her only companion on this winter’s day, as she prunes the 6ha cherry block single-handed.

It is the type of resilience that has earned her a seat at the table of the Women in Horticulture executive committee.

Mrs Conder, who manages El Pedregal Orchard in Earnscleugh, was selected from 13 candidates New Zealand-wide for the role, and was one of four new members elected.

She already heads Central Otago Women in Horticulture and has been involved in the industry for 18 years. . . 

Woolgrowers roll-out a strategic plan for the next decade based on sustainability – Mel Williams:

Australia’s wool growing fraternity has set a target to grow the value of its sector by 2.5 per cent per annum – up to at least the year 2030 – and better promote the fibre’s sustainability credentials.

A key driver to achieving this will be arresting and turning around the decline of the national flock and boosting Merino ewe numbers to about 70 per cent of total sheep on the ground.

It will also require a 15pc increase in sheep and wool values, and growing the national flock from about 64 million to 75 million head.

These are key targets of the industry’s Wool 2030 Strategy, which was released in late 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

31/07/2021

‘Better off with M bovis’ – farmer relays concerns to O’Connor – Adam Burns:

I wouldn’t want to go through this again.”

This was the enduring feeling for dairy farmer Laurence Rooney who believes he would have been better off if his farm caught M. bovis after “taking a hit” for the Ashburton town during the May floods.

Laurence and Philippa Rooney received a fleeting visit from the Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday to his flood-ravaged Ashburton Forks property and are facing a long farming and financial road after losing half of its herd during the May 30-31 Canterbury floods.

Rooney said it was good to illustrate the scale of the impact to the Minister. . .

There’s no escape from climate change – and NZ should brace for the tariffs imposed by our trading partners to deal with it – Point of Order:

When a magazine as authoritative as The Economist  heads   up   its  lead  “No Safe Place” ,   even  climate  change  deniers  should  sit  up  and  take  notice.

The  Economist”  says  the  most terrible  thing   about the  spectacular scenes of  destruction that  have played out  around  the  world  over recent  weeks  is  that there  is  no  safe place  from  which  to  observe  them.

“The  ground under the German  town of Erftstadt is torn apart like tissue paper by flood  waters; Lytton in British Columbia  is  burned  from the map just a  day after setting  a freakishly  high temperature record; cars  float  like  dead fish  through the streets-turned-canals in  the Chinese  city  of Zhengzhou. All  the  world  feels  at risk,  and  most  of  it  is”.

NZ   had  its  own   headline:  “The  Buller River  recorded  largest NZ  flood  flows in  almost 100  years”. . . 

Commitment to biomass big in the south – Mary-Jo Tohill:

With this week’s announcement that the Fonterra Stirling plant would be converting to biomass energy, South Otago looks to be leading the way in showing a multimillion-dollar commitment to sustainability with many of the major manufacturing plants moving to wood-burning boilers or alternative energy sources. Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

Clydevale

Clydevale-based infant milk formula makers Danone Nutricia NZ expected to commission its $30 million biomass boiler in the last quarter of 2021, sustainability communication and stakeholder relations manager Helen de Laguiche said.

This was originally planned for August, but the project had faced delays because of Covid-19 restrictions in Oceania.

The South Otago wing of the French food company recently completed installation of the main equipment and a 75m long conveyor belt system. So far, more than 300 tonnes of building steel had been erected. . .

Sustainable agriculture finance guidance launched :

Rural bank finance will increasingly be guided by sustainability considerations including climate change mitigation and adaptation, water use, waste minimisation, labour rights and animal welfare following today’s launch of the Sustainable Agriculture Finance Initiative (SAFI) guidance.

ASB, ANZ, BNZ, Rabobank and Westpac, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) joined forces in early 2020 to develop the SAFI guidance, to improve the flow of sustainable finance to New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

The SAFI guidance is intended to support a framework, from the finance sector, for integrating sustainability considerations into funding for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. . .

Carbon farming steps forward on the North Island hard hill country – Keith Woodford:

In recent months I have been analysing New Zealand sheep and beef farming to try and understand the changing scene. Here, I shift the focus to carbon farming on the North Island hard-hill country where sheep and beef currently predominate.

In this article I am not looking at lumber because much of the hard-hill country has lumber problems arising from logging costs and associated infrastructure. Rather, I am focusing on permanent pine forests and asking whether the economics now stack up.

In telling this story I am going to be challenged by some people who hate pine trees and also by others who love them but have a focus on lumber. Here, I am not taking sides on either of those issues. My approach is simply to report what the carbon numbers are saying. . . 

Acting the goat comes naturally to Ralph – Sally Rae:

This is the story of Ralph the goat.

Ralph is no ordinary goat. He resides on a farm near Weston, in North Otago, where he lives the proverbial life of Riley.

His life could have been so very different — in fact, his name could well be Lucky — given he was spotted during a goat culling trip.

His story begins in June last year, in Central Otago, where feral goats were common pests. . .

Kiwi avocado company wins internationally acclaimed award:

Te Puna-based avocado oil producer, Grove, has been granted the Superior Taste Award with two stars for its Extra Virgin Avocado Oil by the prestigious International Taste Institute in Brussels, Belgium.

The jury of the International Taste Institute, composed of over 200 of the world’s best chefs and sommeliers, gather every year to flavour test, evaluate and certify the taste of food and drinks from around the world. The jury follows a rigorous blind-tasting methodology in which product samples are anonymised to avoid any scoring biases.

Greg Ryan, Grove’s Business Development Manager, says that the award announcement has highlighted the quality of their avocado oil and created a buzz within the business. . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/06/2021

Farmers, builders keen for EVs but right vehicles not for sale :

Farmers and tradies say the government’s clean car package is an unfair tax on them as no alternatives are available for their work vehicles.

From next month, people buying new or used imported electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids will be eligible for a rebate.

But from next year fees of up to $5875 will need to be paid on new combustion-engine vehicles depending on their emissions.

A Toyota Hilux, for example, could incur a fee of almost $3000. . .

Biting the hand:

Be careful.”

That’s the response by National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Barbara Kuriger to Sunday’s unveiling of the Government’s electric vehicle rebate scheme.

Under the new Clean Car package scheme, rebates of $8625 will be given to buyers of imported new electric and plug-in hybrids from July 1. Used EV buyers will receive $3450. The discounts only apply to vehicles costing $80,000 or less, with a minimum 3-star safety rating.

Meanwhile buyers of higher emission vehicles like utes will be taxed from January. . . 

Robots aiding expansion of innovative apple company:

Introduction of world-leading robotic technology is one of the driving forces behind a New Zealand apple exporter’s expansion.

Rockit Global, which exports snack-sized apples packed into handy tubes for on-the-go consumption to more than 30 countries, unveiled its new state-of-the-art apple packhouse in Hastings earlier this month.

Alongside its 120 permanent staff and 300 seasonal contractors, four H&C apple tube filling machines which each contain three robots, automate the picking and packing of apples into Rockit’s signature tube packaging.

The robots were custom designed by global food processing technology company, MHM Automation. . .

Research and trails taking fodder beet to the next level – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is a bright crisp autumn day in North Otago, and the fodder beet crop waves gently in the breeze.

Behind it stands Dr Jim Gibbs, an Australian vet and university lecturer from Canterbury. He has devoted much of his career to fodder beet’s establishment as a winter grazing crop in New Zealand, and debunked myths about its toxicity to the international farming world.

He was guest speaker at the recent Catalyst Performance Agronomy field day at Altavady farm near Oamaru, one of dozens he attends every year.

The sometimes controversial root crop has taken Dr Gibbs on quite a journey. . . 

Chief executive of LIC to step down:

Chief Executive Wayne McNee has advised the Board of his intention to step down on 30 November after eight years in the role.

LIC Chair Murray King said that through a significant business transformation Wayne McNee has contributed to sustained growth and development of the business.

“From his appointment as Chief Executive in 2013 Wayne has led the organisation through a period of significant growth and development across all areas of the business while delivering strong shareholder returns,” said Mr King.

“Over the past year, Wayne and his leadership team led LIC through the challenges of COVID-19 and the co-op is on track to deliver record results for the fourth consecutive year. . . 

Carrfields appoints two new directors to board:

Lain Jager and Ken Forrest have been appointed to the board of Carrfields Ltd as independent directors.

Lain Jager is a highly experienced professional in New Zealand primary industries with vast experience in the food and fibre sector, including a long tenure as CEO of kiwifruit marketer Zespri from 2008 to 2017.

His appointment is in line with Carrfields’ strategy to boost investment into its food and fibre divisions, says Craig Carr, managing director of Carrfields Ltd.

“Lain’s appointment as a director of Carrfields is tremendously exciting. We are now at a critical time for New Zealand’s primary sector, with our country poised to become a leading innovator in food and natural fibre production which will help address some of the biggest issues facing the world,” he says. . . 


Rural round-up

28/04/2021

Migrants adding value to NZ dairy industry – Sudesh Kissun:

Migrant workers add value to the dairy industry and Philippines-born Waikato farm manager Christopher Vila is a prime example.

In two weeks, he joins 10 other regional farm manager winners at the New Zealand Dairy Awards national finals in Hamilton. Vila is Waikato’s Farm Manager of the Year and will be gunning for the national title.

A trained vet, he moved to New Zealand 13 years ago.

Starting as a farm assistant on a 1,200-cow farm in Reporoa he worked his way up to his current role sevent years ago – farm manager on a 340-cow family trust farm in Ohaupo, outside Hamilton. . . 

$8 opening forecast may be on the cards – Sudesh Kissun:

Strong dairy prices point to a record opening forecast farmgate milk price for the next season.

Westpac is forecasting an $8/kgMS opening forecast and ASB has boosted its opening forecast by 20c to $7.50/kgMS.

With five weeks left to run, the 2020-21 season is wrapping up and the next two Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions are likely to have little impact on this season’s farmgate milk price. Last week’s GDT auction saw a 0.4% rise in whole milk powder prices.

Dairy prices are holding most of their gains from earlier in the year and remain remarkably high, a good omen for the coming season. . . 

Fruit picking subsidy fails to lure kiwis – Business Desk:

The Government’s Seasonal Work Scheme (SWS) subsidising jobseekers has lured just 195 new fruit pickers to move to where work is.

Pre-pandemic, temporary migrant workers from the Pacific Islands were the backbone of the horticultural seasonal workforce but with border closures preventing their entry, the Government tried to attract New Zealanders to where the work was.

Announced in November, the SWS aimed to fill the shortage by giving financial aid and support to people relocating for horticultural work. This was alongside other measures, such as bringing beneficiaries into picking jobs.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni is hesitant to label the scheme a success or a failure. . . 

Heifer winner encouraging others – Mary-Jo Tohill:

When you have won as many heifer titles as David Wilson, you would be forgiven for thinking why bother with all the effort of entering competitions.

He has won the South Island-wide title three times and been runner-up twice.

However, the gongs are not everything, says the South Taieri dairy farmer who has lost count of the number of southern district competitions he has won with his purebred Friesian calves.

To the fourth-generation farmer, it is all about taking part. . . 

Farmers encouraged to look to hemp to improve sustainable farming practices :

Representatives of New Zealand’s industrial hemp industry are encouraging farmers to move to growing hemp as a way to reduce their impact on the environment.

Chair of the New Zealand Hemp Industry Association Richard Barge says that the hemp industry offers a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s agricultural sector and urges farmers to learn more about hemp at the upcoming iHemp Summit & Expo in Rotorua this May.

“For years now the Government has been pushing for farmers to publicly address their sustainability – from the pollution of waterways to their greenhouse gas emissions. Hemp can help alleviate some of these issues, working to create a smaller environmental footprint.”

Barge says that hemp has impressive cleansing properties which could help tackle polluted farmland and filter runoff that’s going into our waterways. . . 

Industry groups work with tertiary sector to attract jobseekers into horticulture jobs:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc. and GoHort have teamed up with eCampus NZ to launch 10 free online courses to attract New Zealanders into roles in the horticulture industry.

The short, online taster courses introduce learners to the career opportunities available in horticulture. They cover a range of topics, from health and safety to leading a team in an orchard or packhouse.

The courses are being promoted through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Opportunity Grows Here campaign, which was launched last year to help New Zealanders find employment opportunities in the primary sector.

The course content was developed collaboratively by horticulture industry groups, with support from eCampus NZ. . . 


Rural round-up

18/04/2021

New report warns that we’re building over our food basket – Alex Braae:

The 2021 Our Land report has raised serious warnings about our most productive food-growing land being turned over to housing. Alex Braae explains.

What’s all this then?

The environment ministry and Stats NZ have produced a new report called Our Land, which outlines exactly what New Zealand’s land is being used for, or how it is being left alone. Over and above the stats, it also shows the connections between land use, the economy, environmental outcomes, and even human wellbeing. 

What’s the big takeaway from the report?

A major fear that gets outlined in detail is about the spread of cities and residential areas into highly productive land – the sort that is vital for the growing of food. One point the report opens with is that our cities were mostly founded near this sort of top quality land, because that allowed enough food to be grown to sustain them.  . . 

O’Connor opts for a ban on exports of live beasts (rather than tighter regulations) to demonstrate our high animal-welfare standards – Point of Order:

Commodities are leading the global economic recovery. International demand for grains, dairy and forestry products is extremely strong – driven primarily by increased demand from China, ANZ Bank  economists say in their latest NZ Agri Focus.

Dairy markets shot up in March, driven by strong buying from China, among challenging conditions to deliver product to market. Since then prices have stabilised near current levels, encouragingly, despite more product being added to the GlobalDairyTrade sales channel.

The recent strength in global markets, combined with a slight softening in the NZ dollar. has been supportive of farmgate milk prices. . . 

Heriot saleyards closure sad but inevitable– Shawn McAvinue:

The Heriot saleyards closing after being a community meeting point for more than a century is sad but the writing was on the wall, a West Otago farmer says.

Farmer Graham Walker owns a 394ha sheep and beef farm in Park Hill and was the second generation of his family to sell stock at the saleyards, about 50km west of Lawrence.

The saleyards were a social place, which brought the community together.

However, the closure was inevitable, as fewer sales were being held as years passed, and as health and safety regulations had tightened. . . 

From dairy giant to tiny player: Miraka CEO Grant Watson – Laurilee McMichael:

It’s eight weeks in and Miraka’s new chief executive Grant Watson says that so far, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Information overload,” he jokes. “Lots to learn, lots to soak up. It’s a big industry, that’s for sure, lots of moving parts.”

Happily though, dairy is not a new industry to Watson, who took up the Miraka role on February 3, replacing departing chief executive Richard Wyeth, who had been with the company for 11 years and who had taken it from being a plan with a greenfields building site to a respected player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Wyeth is now chief executive of Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products. . . 

Rural postie makes last run – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is the end of the road for a South Otago postie — but in a good way.

After 18 years, David Fenton (67) has parked his rural post truck. He delivered his last parcel before Easter, and the new owners, Jane and Richard Whitmore took over the run early in April.

In almost two decades, Mr Fenton has covered about 846,000km. And while somewhat miffed not to have hit the million km mark — he would have got close had he kept going for a few more years — he was pleased with the decision to call time.

“I’ve been getting super for two years, so I’ve been double-dipping. Colleen [his wife] is retiring soon, and we’ve got to get out there and see more of New Zealand. There’s a whole lot more we want to see and go back to see, while we have the health to do it. . . 

Blue Peter drops anti-meat message after farmer’s beef with BBC – Ben Webster:

The BBC has dropped an anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after it drew a furious response from farmers.

The children’s programme offered the green badges, similar to the traditional blue ones, for youngsters who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to “go meat-free”, switch off lights or stop using plastic bottles.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a father of three who runs a 2,000-acre farm in north Wales, last week condemned what he described as a “sweeping statement” that overlooked the lower environmental impact of grass-fed British beef and lamb. . . 


Rural round-up

12/04/2021

A victory for common sense – Alan Emmerson:

My views on the original wintering rules are well known. Basically, the original system, the Essential Freshwater Rules on winter grazing, were unworkable and promulgated by a bureaucracy without any knowledge of rural issues.

It was obvious at the start that the rules wouldn’t work, but the civil servants continued at pace.

The Southland farmers protested, backed by the local council.

Then Environment Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage labelled them irresponsible. I’d have called them realistic. I remain unconvinced that Sage has any idea of the practicalities of farming despite the nation relying on the ag sector for its prosperity. I’d have said the same for her department. . . 

Native forestry good for environment and climate – Paul Quinlan:

The Climate Change Commission says NZ should plant 300,000ha of new permanent native forests by 2035, but indigenous forestry advocates argue we should go much further in harvesting indigenous timber.

Nature-based forestry is ‘a blend between art, culture, and science’, where forests are managed on a continuous cover basis and allowed to reach their full potential in terms of the holistic services they can provide, including timber. Harnessing the power of markets is suggested as an effective way to shift land-use towards more natural forest management.

Last year, Dame Anne Salmond articulated an aspirational vision for “intelligent forestry” in Aotearoa. She has clearly been inspired by models of continuous cover forestry – specifically, ‘close-to-nature forestry’ practices, where the emphasis is on management of a whole and healthy natural ecosystem and where timber production is only one objective to be managed in a compatible way with the many other cultural, environmental and recreational values in each part of the forest. . . 

Environmental impact of forestry taking a toll on East Coast communities – Tom Kitchin:

East Coast locals are disheartened by the prospect of more forestry in the area as the industry grows.

The Climate Change Commission is encouraging the planting of thousands of hectares of forestry in decades to come.

But many people in Gisborne and Wairoa say the industry is damaging their pristine environment and ruining communities.

In Tolaga Bay, a small town of about 800 people nearly an hour north of Gisborne, one end of the beach near the famous wharf is almost clear and sandy, with only a touch of wood nearby. . . 

Team of 5 million – Gerald Piddock:

The new DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair says New Zealand as a whole needs to work together to achieve climate goals.

Getting the dairy industry to achieve tough new climate goals is like running an ultramarathon, recently appointed DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair Fraser McGougan says.

Both require small steps to get to the finish line and both are huge undertakings.

McGougan has already accomplished one of these milestones, having completed an ultramarathon in February. . . 

Trusty tractor at farmer’s side over decades, across world – Mary-Jo Tohill:

A tractor, is a tractor, is a tractor … but then there’s Ian Begg’s tractor. The former Wyndham Station owner talks about how this humble piece of farm machinery shaped his life. Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

People ask him: “What are you?”

He answers: “I’m still a farmer, cos I’m nothing else.”

Ian Begg, the former owner of Wyndham Station in Southland has been many other things — orchardist, importer, real estate agent and developer. But the farm boy remains.

The 75-year-old was reminded of his roots when he attended Wheels at Wanaka at Easter, and was reunited with the tractor that took him 27,000km across the globe, and set a world record for the longest journey by a tractor in 1993-94. . . 

New chief at VFF eyes closer links with consumers – Gregor Heard:

NEW VICTORIAN Farmers Federation chief executive Jane Lovell believes agriculture has an excellent story to tell, but it needs stronger links to consumers and the community to do so.

Ms Lovell, who has a background in areas as diverse as plant pathology, politics and quality assurance, said providing a solid platform for agriculture to be able to demonstrate its credentials was a key goal in her new role.

“Talking about and demonstrating our sustainability and environmental stewardship are going to become even more important with consumers,” Ms Lovell said.

“Gone are the days when everyone had a farmer as a close relative and sadly, this means many people don’t have that connection to farming and the land,” she said . . .


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

20/02/2021

Regenerative farming fight sad – Anna Campbell:

The New Zealand Merino Company and wool brands Allbirds, Icebreaker, and Smartwool have announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform, which represents more than one million hectares in New Zealand.

Consumers want products produced through regenerative farming practices. In the United States, the high-end supermarket chain, Whole Foods Market, declared that regenerative agriculture was the No 1 food trend for 2020. Given some of the environmental challenges we have in New Zealand farming, regenerative farming surely makes sense from a production and marketing perspective?

Well maybe — it certainly sounds good, but do we understand what regenerative farming means and what it means specifically in a New Zealand farming context? . . .

Native trees come with some caveats – Richard Rennie:

Planting more native trees for carbon sequestration features strongly in the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) recommendations released this month. Scion scientists Dr Tim Payn and Steve Wakelin are leading work to help provide a better understanding of how native trees can be integrated back into New Zealand’s landscape and carbon soaking toolbox. Richard Rennie reports.

While recommending more native trees be planted in coming years, the CCC also notes there is limited knowledge on cashflows and carbon absorption rates for natives.

Steve Wakelin and Dr Tim Payn agree in principle with this goal to plant more natives for carbon benefits, but also want to highlight the additional environmental and biodiversity benefits of this focus.

They also note there is a devil in the detail behind the commission’s recommendations. . . 

Grand house’ hosts eco-tourism business – Mary-Jo Tohill:

You can take the farmer out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the farmer.

Catlins eco-tourism couple Lyndon and Gill McKenzie supposedly left agriculture 21 years ago for pastures new.

Mr McKenzie grew up at Merino Downs at Waikoikoi, between Gore and Tapanui, and Mrs McKenzie at Mataura.

Since they sold the farm in 2000, life has taken the dynamic duo on a series of jobs and ventures in Wanaka, Cromwell, Dunedin and Australia. They’ve done hospitality, mining and even run an outback diner. . . 

Kate Stewart – her story:

The confidence to create my career 

Next Level graduate Kate Stewart on taking charge of her future in agriculture, following the AWDT leadership and governance development programme. 

“I have a checklist now to vet any new opportunities that come my way. It’s called the ‘is this what Kate wants and is good at’ checklist.”

For Kate Stewart, Next Level was about taking ownership of her new career. At 24-years old, the Palmerston North local and Dairy NZ regional consulting officer was considering new leadership opportunities, but unsure of where to turn next. . .

A day in the life of an arable farmer  – Simon Edwards:

New Zealand’s arable industry is worth $2.1 billion each year to the economy, and earns us $260 million in export sales.  It also employs more than 11,300 Kiwis.

It’s a diverse sector, and a world leader in both volume and quality producing the likes of radish seed, white clover seed and carrot seed.

But while many New Zealanders could probably offer some general details about what a dairy or sheep and beef farmer gets up to in working day, the daily tasks facing an arable farmer might be more of a mystery.  So we decided to ask some Federated Farmers arable sector leaders what they’re currently busy with, starting in the deep south… . . 

£1m micro food business scheme to open in NI :

A £1m capital grant scheme will open in March to help small Northern Irish food firms upscale production to secure new markets for their produce.

The aim of the Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is to enable firms that are processing primary agricultural produce to expand.

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 will be made available to micro food and drink manufacturing businesses.

A micro enterprise is defined as an enterprise which employs less than 10 full time equivalent employees with a total annual turnover of less than £1.8m. . . 


Rural round-up

06/01/2021

Why it was good to be a farmer in 2020 – Ben Speedy:

 2020 has been full of surprises. I’m not sure there has been a more disruptive year in my lifetime. For many across New Zealand, 2020 suddenly morphed into the year of “resetting”; a year to take stock, re-evaluate priorities and stay close to home. But for many Kiwi farmers and growers, it’s also been a year to make hay while the sun is shining.

The outlook wasn’t always so rosy. Back in January and February, the north and east of the North Island were officially in drought – some regions for a sustained period – significantly impacting production outputs for many. No one knew what the future would hold and what they’d need to get through.

Then, Covid-19 – and later the rain – arrived.

For an exporting country like ours, initial predictions the pandemic would result in a broad slowdown in international trade amid border closures, logistics difficulties and reduced demand did dampen the economic outlook. However, fears Covid-19 would send globalisation into reverse have so far proved unfounded. . . 

The High Court bombshell that has pig farmers facing an uncertain future – Jason Palmer:

Last month, the High Court dropped a bombshell. A judge in Wellington made a decision which left pig farmers like me facing an uncertain future almost overnight.

The judge ruled that two regulations and two minimum standards in the Pig Code of Welfare, that permit the use of mating stalls and farrowing crates, are now unlawful and invalid.

Now, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), which provides independent advice to the Government minister responsible for animal welfare, must assess the validity of New Zealand pig farmers continuing to use the most common indoor farrowing system globally, to raise pigs.

The Court also directed the Minister to consider recommending new regulations that provide a transition period to phase out the use of farrowing crates and mating stalls. . . 

Maintaining our slice of heaven – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Investment in primary sector research and development will assist in maintaining our “slice of heaven”, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

“May you live in interesting times.”

What has been described as the translation of a Chinese curse is, in fact, a western and modern invention.

Probably the same is true of “May all your children be daughters”. And in the same way that most people have come to accept that girls are as good as boys, and for different reasons, we also accept that if times aren’t interesting, we’re bored. . . 

Culture shock almost overcome – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Just imagine having been brought up in highly urbanised London.

You’ve spent your career working in hospitality and you have only a rudimentary idea of where milk comes from. Then your Kiwi girlfriend tells you she’s got you a job on a dairy farm in the wilds of rural New Zealand.

That’s exactly what happened to Daniel Bergin (26) when he and Kerryn Brunton moved back to her hometown, Tapanui, from the United Kingdom in July.

More accustomed to pulling pints than a dairy cow’s teats, he’ll never forget his first day in the cowshed.

“I walked in and thought, ‘What have I done?’.” . . 

An 11ha avocado orchard – Brent Melville:

New Zealand produces just 2 percent of the world’s avocados but is the ninth-largest exporter of a fruit that has been touted as the ‘superfood’ of the 21st century. 

Horticulture was the bright spark in New Zealand’s primary export world last year, with fruit, vegetables and wine generating $6.5 billion in export receipts, a healthy chunk of total primary sector revenues of $47.5 billion.

And the Ministry for Primary Industries expects horticulture to continue being the star of the show, with forecasts of a 9 percent increase to $7.1 billion for the 2021 season. 

The biggest contributor to that is kiwifruit, which saw exports valued at $2.5 billion this past year followed by wine, which bottled up $1.9 billion in exports. . . 

Resilient agriculture requires trade barriers be removed – Grace Bwogi Namukasa :

The average person in Uganda eats 660 pounds of bananas each year.

That’s a lot of bananas: It’s at least 50 percent more than the weight of a full-grown male mountain gorilla. Ugandans eat more bananas per person than the people of any other nation.

I’m a banana farmer in the Rakai district of Uganda, so you might think that I’d have trouble keeping up with our country’s strong demand for bananas. The vast majority of Uganda’s bananas supply local markets, but we also export them. More than 1,000 tons each year head to Europe. Many of the bananas on my farm make their way to the United Kingdom, and other Ugandan farmers send bananas to Belgium and Germany as well as neighboring African countries. . . 


Rural round-up

20/12/2020

Why banning RSE workers here won’t improve wages for local agricultural workers – Eric Crampton:

They thought banning migrant farm labour would boost wages for native-born farm workers. They were wrong. And New Zealand may be getting ready to repeat their mistake.

On December 31, 1964, the United States ended the bracero agreements between the US and Mexico, after two years of tightened restrictions. The agreements, which began in 1942, regulated the movement of lower-skilled migrant labour – particularly for seasonal agricultural work. By the early 1960s, about half a million Mexican farm workers migrated to American farms for seasonal agricultural work on contracts lasting from six weeks to six months.

The Kennedy administration believed that the bracero agreements reduced American farm labour wages. It also did not help that the senior commissioner in the Department of Labour investigation of the bracero programme was a eugenicist who believed Mexicans were genetically inferior. . .

How $2 a punnet of strawberries is bad for kiwi growers

A punnet of strawberries for $2 at the supermarket may be a bargain for consumers, but it’s “particularly painful” for Kiwi growers, Michael Ahern says.

“Growers are not happy at all, in fact some of them are opening up their gardens to pick-your-own early to find some way to gain recovery by keeping costs down,” Ahern, who is executive manager for Strawberry Growers New Zealand, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“That’s not the way they want to do it – but they’re professional growers and they want normal, orthodox channels to market on a weekly basis.”

“They’re big boys and girls and they can suck it up to a certain extent – but this one is particularly painful.” . .

Agility key to Alliance success board chair says – Louise Steyl:

Agility is Alliance Group’s biggest strength as it battles trade issues around the world, board chairman Murray Taggart says.

Apart from the obvious impacts of Covid-19, issues like Great Britain exiting the European Union posed potential export risks, he said.

“Trade relationships always wax and wane.”

But the Chinese market remained the meat processing co-operative’s most important market. . .

A gut feeling backed by science – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Sheep breeding has become a science, and with technology and stock management, these three elements have combined in the sheep breeder of today.

For South Otago farmer Garth Shaw, it began with the Coopworth, the result of crossing the Romney and Border Leicester, developed at Lincoln College as a dual-purpose breed in 1950.

The Shaws began farming at Wharetoa, which means strong house in Maori, near Clydevale in 1966. They started breeding Coopworth rams in 1975.

“We have always run a commercial flock alongside our stud flock and have used the commercial flock to benchmark as new breeds and markets become available and also to test our genetic progress within a commercial setting,” Mr Shaw said. . . 

Shift from town to country rewarding:

Nicky Tily works with up to 4000 pigs — and loves every minute of it.

Ms Tily (23), who grew up in urban Christchurch and worked in the food service sector, is now a junior stockperson.

“Pigs are so intelligent. I enjoy everything about the job.”

She had always liked the idea of working with animals or on a farm and considered a career in vet nursing. However, having completed a six-month course, gaining a National Certificate in Animal Husbandry, she decided against vet nursing.

Her first job in the farming sector was with Mapua stud at Southbridge, which included a sheep stud, dairy grazing, cropping and a 120 sow outdoor piggery. She enjoyed all of the work, but particularly working with the pigs. . . 

Picking a poinsettia – Heather Barnes:

Poinsettias may traditionally be red, but as I learned on a recent visit to Homewood Nursery and Garden Center, these holiday decorating staples come in many colors.

Unlike many flowering shrubs (yes, poinsettia is a shrub), their color doesn’t come from the flowers.  The colorful part is a bract, or modified leaf.  

I have a cat who loves to eat plants, so I’ve never bought poinsettias because I thought they were poisonous.  I thought wrong. The American Veterianary Medical Assocaition says they can cause a skin irriation but rates them a lower risk than other holiday plants. While people shouldn’t eat them either, Poison Control says the plant “can be irritating but it is not fatal if eaten.”  The sap can cause a skin rash on people wo are allergic to latex, since both have some of the same proteins. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/12/2020

Freshwater reforms may stifle farm profitability by 83% per year – report  :

Farm profitability across the Ashburton District is expected to decline 83 percent per year due to the government’s freshwater reforms, a new report states.

The changes are aimed at improving the quality of waterways and include new rules for winter grazing, nitrogen pollution and farm intensification.

The desktop report, requested by the council, notes dairy farming takes place on nearly a third of the district’s agricultural land and would be the hardest hit financially.

“The regulations will challenge existing farming systems with a number of established farm practices needing to change, and new technology and innovation adoption will be required.” . . 

‘We’ve been given a real wake up call’ – Alice Scott:

Will Halliday says he acts much the same as a farmer on a drafting gate when new proposals and ideas come across his desk.

“In terms of biosecurity and animal welfare, there is a lot to keep ahead of when it comes to New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry. The expectations of our trade partners are very high. For me it’s keeping an eye on the horizon and making sure the demands and regulations put forward are achievable in real world situations.”

Part of the “drafting” process involves consultation with the
B+LNZ farmer councils.

“Talking to our people on the ground that are actually out there doing it and discussing what will work and what won’t. . .

Sheep farming runs in the blood – Mary-Jo Tohill:

The Robertsons were not meant to continue sheep farming.

In 1998, the West Otago couple were advised to go dairying. It would be more lucrative. But it was the dual-purpose Romney all the way to the bank.

“The accountant thought we were crazy,” fourth generation sheep farmer Blair Robertson said.

“We sacked the accountant and got a new one.”

Borrowing to buy the family farm at Waikoikoi between Tapanui and Gore has meant huge debt servicing and it has been a tough grind for the past 20 years, but they are living their particular dream. . . 

A life’s work of plant breeding – Richard Rennie:

Ten years after the kiwifruit sector was all but wiped out by Psa, Te Puke plant breeder Russell Lowe takes some humble satisfaction knowing his work brought it back from the brink to become the country’s highest value horticultural crop.

Lowe has been part of Plant & Food’s kiwifruit breeding programme at Te Puke for 30-plus years and while just retired, he continues to keep a watching brief on how future breeding work is coming along.

Today’s world-leading kiwifruit breeding facility is a far cry from the wooden bungalow, maize crops and pile of orchard posts that greeted him and his wife when they arrived in the early 1970s. 

He had got the position after completing a major in chemistry at Canterbury and building an interest in horticulture while working in the Horotane Valley over the holidays. That had been followed by a stint at the then DSIR Research orchard in Appleby in the Tasman district as a horticultural technician. . . 

Proudly sponsoring Surfing for Farmers since 2018:

Our Kiwi farmers and growers leave everything they have on the field, they give their all to support New Zealand’s economy and ensure we have access to the very best food and beverage. However, this does take a toll on their wellbeing and mental health. Helping farmers and growers take care of their mental health is as important to Ballance Agri-Nutrients as the health and safety of our own team, that’s why we are a founding partner of the Surfing for Farmers programme.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of New Zealand farmers is an important topic,” says Jason Minkhorst, GM Sales, Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

“When you consider all the factors that farmers deal with on a daily bases such as working remotely, animal welfare, financial pressure, consumer demands, media and lobby group commentary, long hours and weather events like drought, it is easy to understand why mental health is an issue in rural New Zealand. . . 

Network 10 signs Rabobank to help Farm to Fork cooking show

Agribusiness lender Rabobank is partnering with Network 10’s television cooking show Farm to Fork.

The bank – a global specialist in food and agribusiness and one of the leading providers of Australia agricultural financial services – has joined with Network 10 and Farm to Fork’s producers Dual Entertainment as a partner in season two of the television program.

The show, which airs nationally on weekday afternoons, aims to help inform Australians how to eat and live well.

The program aims to inspire viewers to not only cook at home but also have a better appreciation of where and how their food is grown. . . 


Rural round-up

27/11/2020

Farmgate prices for red meat set to fall – Sudesh Kissun:

Red meat farmers are being warned to brace themselves for a dip in market returns.

A new report from Rabobank says reduced global demand for higher-value beef and lamb cuts in the year ahead will see New Zealand farmgate prices for beef and sheepmeat drop from the record highs experienced over recent seasons.

In the bank’s flagship annual outlook for the meat sector, Global Animal Proteins Outlook 2021: Emerging from a world of uncertainty, Rabobank says a slow and uneven recovery in the international foodservice sector, combined with weak global economic conditions, will reduce demand for higher-value New Zealand red meat cuts such as prime beef and lamb racks. . . 

NZ venison ‘facing perfect storm’ – Annette Scott:

Despite currently facing the perfect storm, the deer industry is confident New Zealand farm-raised venison has a long-term future.

With the covid-19 resurgence disrupting key venison markets across Europe and the US, NZ venison processors and marketers are making major efforts to again find new outlets for farm-raised venison cuts.

Many countries and regions have reimposed hospitality lockdowns, meaning expensive cuts such as venison striploins are sitting in freezers in Europe and the US waiting for restaurants to re-open.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says the current situation is a challenge with the bulk of NZ venison sold to the US and Germany destined for the food service. . . 

 

Challenges ahead but opportunities abound – Colin Williscroft:

Melissa Clark-Reynolds is stepping down from her role as independent director at Beef + Lamb NZ at the end of the year but she is excited about the future of the primary sector. Colin Williscroft reports.

In-market strategies used to market and distribute New Zealand-produced food will need to be increasingly agile during the next few years, Melissa Clark-Reynolds says.

With food service overseas under pressure due to lockdowns, the emphasis has gone back on retail sales and she predicts traditional markets will be disrupted until at least 2022.

However, the current importance of retail avenues does not mean outlets such as supermarkets are going to have it all their way, with direct-to-consumer products gaining an increasingly strong foothold. . . 

Shearing company scoops business award

Higgins Shearing, Marlborough, was named the Supreme Award winner at the NZI Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) Business Awards last night.

The company was one of seven category award winners announced at the Public Trust Hall in Wellington.

“We strive to break through the status quo of the shearing industry,” owner Sarah Higgins said.

Higgins said that her inspiration comes from passion for the job. . . 

Family lavender farm flourishing – Mary-Jo Tohill:

When there’s a will there’s a way.

That would just about sum up things for the Zeestraten family when they first came to a bare paddock in Wanaka about eight years ago, and began to establish their 12ha Wanaka Lavender Farm.

With the lavender beginning to bloom for a new season, co-owner Tim Zeestraten (37) recalls a journey that began 25 years ago when the family moved from Holland.

“My opa (grandfather) was a tomato grower, which my dad, Jan Zeestraten took over. I was probably — actually most definitely — going to be next in line to continue the family tomato farm, which I was very excited about at the young age of 10. . . 

New England Peonies enjoy bumper peony season on the Northern Tablelands – Billy Jupp:

THEY are one of the most highly sought-after features of Australia’s spring wedding season and are often the centrepiece of a couple’s special day.

Despite COVID-19 forcing many people to postpone their nuptials, 2020 still proved to be a stellar year for peonies.

The colourful, full-bodied flower was still in high demand and the chilly winter conditions on the state’s Northern Tablelands proved to be the perfect breeding ground.

New England Peonies owner Barry Philp said this season was one of the best in his family’s 20 years of growing peonies on their Arding property, near Armidale. . . 


Rural round-up

21/10/2020

Urban New Zealand – you have been lied to – Jane Smith:

 Environmentalist and farmer Jane Smith says she wants to make urban New Zealand aware of the true long term costs of “headline-grabbing heroic environmental crusades”.

Urban New Zealand you have been lied to. You believed someone had your back, a master plan, a blue print for the future. In its place is a lonely black box. They say the devil is in the detail. There are no details – only hyperbole and headlines.

At record speed, New Zealand is blindsiding opportunities to embrace the unique advantage we have as a sustainable island nation.

As a humble food producer, environmentalist, taxpayer and common sense advocate I can’t help but analyse all aspects of policies, not just a one-sided narrow environmental view. . . 

Farmers want Labour to govern alone – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are anxiously waiting to see whether or not Labour will choose to govern alone or bring in the Green Party.

In one of the elections biggest surprises the strong National electorate of Rangitata swung with Labour candidate Jo Luxton winning the seat – becoming the first Labour MP to do so.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark said he has heard of farmers voting strategically.

“I think potentially plenty of farmers have voted Labour so they can govern alone rather than having a Labour-Greens government- there’s been a lot of chat around about that but each to their own, the people have spoken.” . . 

IrrigationNZ appoints Vanessa Winning as new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ is delighted to announce that Vanessa Winning has been appointed as the organisation’s new chief executive starting on Monday 19th October, based in its new Wellington HQ.

Vanessa is a strategic executive leader with over 20 years experience in the agriculture, banking and corporate sectors with excellent stakeholder management and engagement skills.

Vanessa was most recently General Manager Farm Performance at DairyNZ, where she led a large team across the country to help farmers improve their businesses and reduce environmental impacts. Prior to DairyNZ, Vanessa spent 18 years in banking; trade; product development; marketing and communications. Vanessa has a commerce degree in economics and management, and a postgraduate degree in marketing. . . 

The cavalry arrives — finally! – Sudesh Kissun:

The first batch of overseas drivers for local agricultural contracting work is expected in the country next week, says Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) chief executive Roger Parton.

He says 119 applications filed on behalf of members by RCNZ were approved by the Ministry of Primary Industries and passed onto Immigration NZ for final verification and issuance of visas.

After arriving in the country, the drivers will spend two weeks at a Government quarantine facility. The cost will be met by the sponsoring contractor. Visas are being issued for six months and this includes the two-week spent in quarantine.

Parton says contractors will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. . . 

Family farm and sport combine for simple balanced life – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Farmer, husband, father, multisporter: Hamish Mackay prides himself on keeping life simple.

He owns Spotts Creek Station, a 1300ha property in the Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka, that he runs himself, with a bit of help from his father and uncle.

“I don’t have health and safety, PAYE or employment contracts, because I don’t need to, and because it’s frustrating. Keeping things simple is my priority.”

The straight-talking eldest son of Don and Sally Mackay grew up on Motatapu Station, near Wanaka, one of four stations in the Wanaka-Queenstown high country leased from the Crown by Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain’s ex-husband, Robert Lange. . . 

New Tasmanian program to look at wool workforce needs – Caitlin Jarvis:

Tasmania’s shearer shortage will be put under the microscope as part of a new program run by Primary Employers Tasmania.

PET has secured funding from Skills Tasmania to run a program to examine the present and future workforce needs of wool.

Shearers and wool classers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the inability to move around the country.

Border restrictions and quarantine measures have left some shearers stranded in a state, other than the one where they normally live. . . 


Rural round-up

03/10/2020

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

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

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

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

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

Big costs for freshwater compliance – Neal Wallace:

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

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

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

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

Crown land limits harm NZ branding – Philip Todhunter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring surprise – Neal Wallace:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

30/09/2020

Storm reminiscent of 2010 mega-storm that killed hundreds of thousands of lambs, say Fed Farmers – Bonnie Flaws & Rachael Kelly:

Farmers in the Otago and Southland regions of the South Island say any lambs born overnight on Monday could not have survived.

Federated Farmers Southland vice-president Bernadette Hunt said it was beginning to look a lot like 2010, when a nasty storm followed by days of rain left an estimated 250,000 to one million lambs dead.

“Before this event started, the province was already wet, now there’s this ongoing event with snow and wind, and there’s a wet forecast to follow.

“Farmers were well-prepared, but as this drags on, the sheltered areas are turning to mud, making conditions awful for lambs and ewes. Coupled with the windchill, this is tough even on lambs that are several days old, and on ewes whose milk production will be affected,” she said. . . 

Think rural mental health while drafting policies – Sudesh Kissun:

The effects of government policies on rural communities and farmer wellbeing must be considered when drafting them, says Federated Farmers dairy section chair Wayne Langford.

“As we move from a quantity to quality form of agriculture, having a clear mind is key and will result in amazing increases in productivity, profitability and passion for farming,” he told Dairy News.

Langford made the comments to mark the Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand last week. He joined other sector leaders in urging rural mental health to be a priority.

Langford, who farms in Golden Bay, says mental health support for farmers and others working in agriculture has improved immensely over the last ten years. However, he says there is an opportunity to increase training through inter-personal skills and personality profiling. . . 

Tough times called for tough decisions – Sudesh Kissun:

Retiring Fonterra chairman John Monaghan steps down from the cooperative’s board, satisfied at leaving behind a business in good stead.

Monaghan took over as chairman in July 2018, right in the middle of Fonterra’s financial struggles and just months before the departure of then-chief executive Theo Spierings.

After two years of financial losses, Fonterra this month announced a $659 million annual profit, turning around a $605m loss the previous year.

Regarded as a safe pair of hands, Monaghan –backed by a management team led by chief executive Miles Hurrell – steered the co-op back to profitability.

Complex family legacy – and name – continued on farm – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Scottish lairds and ladies, ancient deeds, unimaginable wealth, the slave trade.

The Glassford family history reads like an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, the British genealogy documentary series on the BBC.

Central Otago farmer Antony William Gordon Glassford chuckles at the suggestion that his descent from a Scottish tobacco lord could make him “Tony the Toff”. No silk frockcoats for this fifth-generation New Zealander, who farms near Omakau.

Tony Glassford’s family have farmed Dougalston, the name taken from his ancestors’ long vanished Scottish estate, at Drybread for 156 years. They have been recognised twice in the Century Farm Awards, which is given to properties in continuous ownership for 100 years, or in their case for more than 150 years. . . 

FarmIQ appoints chief executive officer:

FarmIQ is pleased to announce the appointment of Will Noble in the role of Chief Executive Officer, starting in late September 2020.

Mr Noble is an experienced strategic and operational leader. He is a strong all-rounder with a background in a range of areas such as digital, software-as-a-service, niche market, management consulting, advisory, and project management. His most recent role was as the Client Services Director at Fujitsu New Zealand.

FarmIQ’s Chairman John Quirk says, “Mr Noble is a customer-orientated New Zealand business leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and solutions-focused approach. Will has demonstrated he can transform organisations to achieve growth in complex environments through a focus on innovation, customers and his team. . . 

Farmers warned to check fuel tanks after driver seriously injured:

Farmers are being warned that poorly maintained tripod tanks are a serious health and safety risk to fuel users.

The safety alert from the Fuel Distributors Industry Safety Committee and WorkSafe New Zealand follows a recent incident where a fuel tanker driver was seriously injured on a farm where a tripod overhead tank collapsed while he was filling it.

The root cause of the collapse was significant rust corrosion on one of the tank legs. Farm implements close to the tank also contributed to the driver’s injuries.

“No farmer wants to be responsible for an incident like this happening on their farm,” says Al McCone, WorkSafe Agriculture Lead. . .


Rural round-up

22/09/2020

Water and labeling high on hort sector’s election wish-list – David Anderson:

New Zealand’s horticulture industry has set out its wishes for the upcoming election campaign, covering water, climate change, country of origin labelling and labour issues.

Industry body Hort NZ is asking that any future government ensures the horticulture sector can develop “within a supportive framework that enables sustainable growth”.

It says the sector currently contributes more than $6 billion to NZ’s economy, is the country’s third largest export industry and employs approximately 60,000 people.

“What horticulture needs in order to continue its success in producing fresh and healthy food for New Zealand and export markets is quite simple.” . . 

Rural environment grows ideas just fine – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Two years ago when he was playing for the Southland Sharks, Clinton man Lydon Aoake struggled to stay motivated.

The now 30-year-old was in the team that took out the 2018 New Zealand Basketball League. That year he juggled training, a full-time job at Danone Nutricia, and fatherhood.

“When I was working out trying to get fit for the Sharks, I wanted to get a personal trainer, but Clinton was pretty rural,” Mr Aoake said.

“So I had a little bit of a fitness background, I knew what I needed to do — it was just the PT motivation that I wanted.” . . 

Fonterra’s dividend – my five cents – Elbow Deep:

It has been quite the year for Fonterra, the co-operative not only won unanimous parliamentary support for the changes they sought to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, they also returned to profit after last year’s first ever financial loss. That profit, a stunning $1.3 billion turnaround from the previous season, saw Fonterra pay suppliers their fourth highest payout in the Co-op’s history; $7.14 per kg of milksolids and a 5c dividend on shares.

As dairy farmers we have been pretty well insulated from the worst financial effects of the pandemic, it has been business as usual thanks largely to Fonterra’s ability to navigate the strict requirements of operating under various levels of lockdown and to quickly react to changes in demand caused by Covid-19.

It struck me as curiously ungrateful, then, that the first response I saw on social media to Fonterra’s excellent result was a complaint the dividend was too low. This, it turns out, was not an isolated expression of that sentiment. . . 

Fonterra stabilises finances with back to basics model, selling assets and retaining profits – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has stabilised its finances with more asset sales forthcoming. It now operates a conservative model supported by its farmer members. But the model will not create the ‘national champion’ that the Labour Government has always hoped for

Fonterra’s annual results announced in 18 September for the year ending 31 July 2020 indicate that Fonterra has made good progress in stabilising its financial position. A key outcome is a reduction in interest-bearing debt by $1.1 billion, now down to $ 4.7 billion. This has been brought about through asset sales and retained profits.

Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers told a media conference immediately after release of the results that further debt reductions were desired.  The key measure that Fonterra is now using for debt is the multiple of debt to EBITDA, which now stands at 3.4. The desired level in the newly conservative Fonterra is between 2.5 and 3. . . 

Self-shedding sheep study:

Massey University is examining the economic impact and the production consequences of crossbreeding with Wiltshire sheep to a fully shedding flock.

Coarse wool sheep farmers are struggling with the cost of shearing in relation to the value of the wool clip. Many are considering if changing to a self-shedding flock, such as a Wiltshire, is a better way forward.

However, the cost of purchasing purebred Wiltshires – and the limited numbers available – means this is not a viable option for many. However, there are examples of farmers successfully grading up to Wiltshires by continual crossing.

But there is a general lack of accurate recorded information on the costs, benefit and pitfalls from doing so. . . 

Plug pulled on 2021 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival – Tracy Neal:

Organisers of next February’s Marlborough Wine & Food Festival have pulled the plug early.

It is the first time in the event’s 36-year history it has been cancelled, but the potential lingering challenges over Covid-19 posed too much risk.

Marlborough Winegrowers Board Chair Tom Trolove said it had been a really tough decision that would impact businesses in our community.

“But the board was clear that in these unprecedented times, it had to prioritise the safety of the harvest. . . 


Rural round-up

21/09/2020

Minus 12.2.% – Mike Chapman:

Our GDP has hit rock bottom at minus 12.2% in the June quarter, and on top of that, the Government has already spent the $50 billion recovery package.  The financial cupboard is literally bare.  Everyone is talking about the rebound and they seem very confident about it.  If there is one thing that Covid has taught us, it is that predicting what is going to happen is not easy.  In fact, I would say it is near to impossible.  The result is we have all had to be very flexible- what we planned to happen has more often than not had to be changed.  I can’t see any reason why the current uncertainty and the ever-present unpredictable future will suddenly become certain and predictable.

The problem with spending the $50 billion is that it has not by in large been spent on enabling New Zealand’s economic recovery.  It has been spent propping up the status quo with wage subsidies and the like.  With that money spent, how are these workers going to get paid?  Where are they going to work?  Accommodation and food services took a 47.4% hit in the June quarter with hits also in mining, clothing and footwear, furniture manufacturing and transport.  Just walk down any main street and see empty shops.  Agriculture went down 2.2%, but that drop was saved from going further down with fruit exports up 10% and wine up 15%.

New Zealand is in recession.  Tourism, international education and hospitality will not be the drivers for economic recovery in the immediate future.  The main driver for economic recovery will be the primary sector and within the primary sector horticulture and wine. . .

Helping grow farming’s future – David Anderson:

John Jackson’s ability for future and critical thinking saw him deeply involved in the development of an agribusiness programme that has now been rolled out in secondary schools throughout NZ.

The North Waikato sheep and beef farmer has had an interesting and eclectic journey on the way to his eventual farming career and farm ownership. With a long history of community service, Jackson was invited to join the Waikato Anglican Trust Board in 2012 that governs the running of St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, where his children went to school.

“John Oliver – a notable King Country farmer and philanthropist – encouraged the school to consider teaching agriculture and develop a curriculum accordingly,” he explains. . . 

NZ’s largest ever medical marijuana crop gets the go-ahead :

A Marlborough medicinal cannabis company has secured a licence to grow New Zealand’s largest ever crop.

Puro received the license allowing it to commercially cultivate 90,000 plants for medical use from the Ministry of Health on Thursday.

The crop will be germinated in tunnel houses before being transplanted into the company’s site at Kekerengu.

But it will hold no recreational appeal with it being used for CBD and cannabinoids to be exported overseas. . . 

Move over, mānuka honey, bee pollen is creating a buzz – Esther Taunton:

Move over mānuka honey, there’s a new bee product creating a global buzz.

Demand for New Zealand bee pollen has skyrocketed since the outbreak of coronavirus, with one company saying sales have soared and there are no signs of a slow-down.

NatureBee says sales of its potentiated bee pollen capsules have increased five-fold over the last year as the Covid-19 pandemic drives a shift in consumer behaviour. . . 

Cows big change from animals in Laos – Mary-Jo Tohill:

She has swapped monkeys and tigers for dairy cows and is loving the change of animal.

Sonya Prosser was one of 13 students who took part in the first SIT-Telford GoDairy course at the South Otago campus near Balclutha, which began on August 24.

Before the pandemic, she had been working in Laos for three years, where her partner, Maddie, had got a job with the world’s largest sun bear sanctuary, Free the Bears, in Laos and where Ms Prosser was doing freelance wildlife work.

This included Project Anoulak, in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area in central-eastern Laos, which is home to nine species of primates. . . 

Where would we be without bees? – John Harvey:

It’s fair to say that most of us have some understanding that bees play an important role.

But do we understand why?

Because bees are more than important, in fact they’re critical to our food security.

Through the process of pollination we depend on bees for one in every three mouthfuls of the food we eat. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/09/2020

Imminent crisis threatens Central Otago fruit exports:

Central Otago fruit growers support their industry’s call for urgent action from Government to address the looming shortage of horticultural workers, says Ettrick Fruit Growers Association Chairman, Peter Vernon. Last week, New Zealand Apples and Pears raised concerns that the $870 million dollar apple industry will be at risk if a seasonal workforce is not assembled.

The New Zealand horticulture sector usually hosts more than 14,000 workers from the Pacific Islands for up to seven months to strengthen the workforce on local orchards and vineyards. The New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme was established in 2007 by Helen Clark’s Labour government. The RSE scheme is viewed internationally as a best practise model in social responsibility for labour mobility. The Central Otago region employs up to 5,000 temporary staff at the peak of the season for apple, apricot and cherry work, comprising New Zealand and RSE workers, plus working holiday visa holders. Labour planning shows that even with the numbers of recently unemployed New Zealanders now available, there will simply not be enough suitable people to fill all the seasonal roles needed . . 

Rural road-users heading for potholes – Feds:

Rural road users are in for a continued bumpy ride with no extra money for local road improvements in the final Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2021.

“The final GPS released this week has investment in local road improvements unchanged from the draft at an upper level of $300 million down to as low as $100 million in 2021/22, and steadily declining each year for the decade after,” Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

“However, it is pleasing to see increases in local road maintenance and renewal, with a forecast range of $650m-$760m next financial year, and slow but steady increases thereafter.”

Central and local government share the costs of upgrading local roads, which includes most rural roads. With councils under heavy financial pressure, there has been considerable under-investment, Karen said. . . 

Family shares the shearing – Yvonne O’Hara:

When Colin “Mouse” O’Neill first considered setting up as a shearing contractor five years ago, he knew it was a big risk, and he had his family’s future at stake.

Mr O’Neill, of Alexandra, has worked in shearing sheds since he was 12 and has been shearing professionally and competitively for 27 years.

His parents, Marie and Terry, worked in the woolsheds and his grandparents were orchardists in Alexandra, where O’Neill Cres is now. . .

On the farm – a wrap of farming conditions around New Zealand:

Our contact in Northland says it’s unusually dry. Feed is short usually at the end of winter, but it’s come six weeks earlier than normal. It’s affecting the market for cattle as farmers are careful about what they’re buying. Dairy farmers are at the tail end of calving while beef farmers are 50 to 60 percent of the way through.

Around Pukekohe it’s been dry and breezy. The wind  made it tricky to spread lime and fertiliser and spray crops. Work activity and crop growth could best be described as “steady”.  It’s probably been busier in kiwifruit orchards with their shelter belts receiving an annual trim.

It cooled down a little bit in Waikato this week and grass growth rates have tapered off in response, but farmers have either supplements on hand or a bank of feed still to rely on. With calving ending, they’re catching up on jobs before the start of mating next month. . . 

Heading back to the land – Mary-Jo Tohill:

A job loss has brought Mosgiel man Steve Morris back to his agricultural roots, and the 55-year-old is glad of it.

He grew up on a farm on the Otago Peninsula, near Larnach Castle.

“It was a small farm, and you don’t always want to work with your father,” Mr Morris said.

He left school and became a glazier, holding down his first job for 16 years and the second for 18, before making a complete change and driving trucks for three years. . .

Britain needs to grow more trees – are sheep farms the answer? – Connie O’Neill:

Britain’s green fields and “wild” uplands may have become important parts of the national heritage, but they are landscapes wholly created by people. There’s no reason to think of these areas as precious natural resources to be preserved at all costs.

If humans hadn’t chopped down the trees, most of what are now Britain’s sheep farms would still be part of the large forests that once covered the islands. So why can’t some of these areas be turned back into woodland?

Doing so would help fight climate change, as trees absorb carbon from the air and keep it out of the atmosphere. As we found in our new research, there’s even a solid economic case for sheep farmers to instead grow forests and become carbon offsetters.

Tree growing is a political hot topic in the UK, since vast areas of new forest will be needed if the country is to achieve net zero emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

16/09/2020

Greens warned fertiliser tax will ‘create pressure on farmers’ :

The Green Party is being warned that a fertiliser levy is not a solution to more sustainable farming.

The Greens unveiled its agriculture policy in Canterbury at the weekend, where the party announced its plans to levy nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser sales.

They also want to establish an almost $300 million fund for the transition to regenerative and organic farming.

Environmental consultant Dave Ashby runs a dairy farm in North Canterbury.

Keeping animals fenced out, planting along the banks and adding oxygen weed are just a few of the measures he takes to keep his waterways clean.

To prove how clean the water is at his man-made drain he took a handful and drank it. . . 

Independently assessed candidates for Fonterra Board of Directors’ election announced:

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack, along with Nathan Guy, Cathy Quinn and Mike O’Connor have been announced as the Independently Assessed Candidates for the 2020 Fonterra Farmer Directors’ election. This year there are two Board positions up for election.

Nathan Guy, Mike O’Connor and Cathy Quinn were recommended by the Independent Selection Panel after their assessment process.

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack is seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. The Panel’s assessment of Brent will be included in the voting pack and as a re-standing Director he automatically goes through to the ballot. . .

Farm worker shows what folk with disabilities can do – George Clark:

A South Canterbury-based farm hand hopes to shed light on people with disabilities who have been overlooked for employment.

Timaru’s David Hanford Boyes has no balance and requires a walking stick to move.

While picking fruit in Australia in 1996, he was swept off a ladder by a branch and fell to the ground, crushing three vertebrae in his back.

Mr Hanford Boyes said he was lucky to have leading surgeons in Melbourne at the time offering a surgery not before tried on humans. . . 

Sharing his passion for dairy farming – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Telford dairy farm manager John Thornley has played a key role in getting the first GoDairy course under way at the Southern Institute of Technology Telford campus. He has first-hand knowledge of making a career change, as Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

After going from cook to cow cocky, Telford dairy farm manager John Thornley can relate to change.

He played a key role in getting the first GoDairy course under way at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Telford campus near Balclutha last month, and said he got a real kick out of seeing the 13 people taking part make big changes to their lives.

“They’re like a breath of fresh air and they’re wanting to learn all they can about dairying.” . . 

New director will help push for smarter farming:

Intellectual property lawyer and farm owner Jane Montgomery is Ravensdown’s newest shareholder-elected director, announced at yesterday’s 2020 annual meeting.

Christchurch-based Jane owns a farm in North Canterbury and has been elected as director of Area 3, which extends from Selwyn to the top of the South Island and includes the West Coast.

Ravensdown Chair John Henderson says Jane’s new perspective will be important as the co-operative and its shareholders tackle opportunities and challenges in a volatile world. . . 

 

Commission releases final report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2019/20 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price Fonterra sets for raw milk supplied by farmers, which is currently forecast to be $7.10 – $7.20 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019/20 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review the calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). The regime is designed to provide Fonterra with incentives to set the base milk price consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

24/08/2020

Family first for these high flyers – Ashley Smyth:

Topflite tends to fly under the radar when people think of Oamaru businesses, but for this family-owned success story, things are quietly taking off. Ashley Smyth reports.

While being Oamaru-based can present its challenges, these are far outweighed by the benefits the small-town lifestyle offers, Topflite general manager Greg Webster says.

“The fact we’re close to where the product is grown is a big one. Also, being a family business, family is always something we’ve put importance on.

“We want people to have a life outside of work. Living in Oamaru allows that – your staff don’t have an hour commute.”

The company, perhaps most famous locally for its striking sunflower crops, was founded by Greg’s father Jock Webster and Jock’s brothers-in-law Ross and Bruce Mitchell, in the 1970s. . . 

Minister missing in action:

The Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has taken a staggering 10 days during the Auckland level 3 lockdown to grant a blanket exemptions for sheep and beef farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“The previous lockdown allowed farmers to continue operations and travel between properties as essential workers, the current lockdown has imposed stricter requirements of needing a Ministry of Health exemption.

“The delays and confusion are a direct result of the Government’s lack of planning for an outbreak.

“Minister O’Connor has failed to see that this would require further compliance from farmers. It was only after heavy pressure from various sectors that saw exemptions for diary, horticulture and poultry. . . 

New rules go ‘too far’ – farmer – Sally Rae:

“Farming’s a tough game but they are hellbent on making it tougher.”

West Otago dairy farmer Bruce Eade is concerned about the Government’s new freshwater regulations which start coming into force from September 3, saying many of the rules concerning winter cropping and grazing were “almost unfarmable” in the South.

The Eade family are longtime dairy farmers and converted their Kelso property 25 years ago. They milk about 550 cows, have a free-stall barn and also winter beef cattle on crop.

“We’re lifers, you could say. We do it for the cows is the biggest thing for us. If I didn’t love my cows, I wouldn’t be doing it. There’s far easier ways to make a living,” Mr Eade said. . . 

Scramble over new freshwater rules – Colin Williscroft:

Regional councils and industry good groups are scrambling under a tight timeframe to get to grips with how new freshwater regulations will be implemented and what its impact on farmers is likely to be.

The new Essential Freshwater rules became law earlier this month and in the past couple of weeks councils and groups including Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ have been studying the detail of the regulations so they and the people they represent are as prepared as possible for changes when they come into effect.

Some of those changes come into effect next month, while others will be rolled out over the next few years. . . 

Wool handler keeping work local – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It’s a perfect early spring-like day in the Ida Valley in Central Otago.

Merinos bleat in the yards, and the shearing machines buzz inside the woolshed as the crew gets to work.

Southland-based world-class woolhandler Tina Elers quickly finds her rhythm as the fleece hits the table.

This time of year, she’s chasing the work as well as thinking about upcoming competition as a woolhandler.

“Do I treat the fleece any differently? No. What I do every day in the shed as a wool classer is practice for competition.”

Both come down to quality and speed. . . 

Expensive Geraldine-produced Wagyu beef being auctioned for charity– Samesh Mohanlall:

A South Canterbury farm has produced one of the biggest rare Wagyu steers ever seen in New Zealand.

Evan and Clare Chapman of Rockburn Farming near Geraldine have been raising Wagyu (a term referring to all Japanese beef cattle), which is renowned for its sought after marbled meat and costs hundreds of dollars for a simple steak since 2017.

Last week a 946 kilogram Wagyu steer from the farm was processed by First Light, the New Zealand farming co-operative the Chapman’s belong to.

“This isn’t a one-off,” the co-op’s managing director Gerard Hickey said. . . 

Using data in Nigeria to reduce violence and build food security – Rotimi Williams:

Farming should be safe, but in Nigeria it can be deadly.

It’s so dangerous, in fact, that a report released on June 15 by an all-party parliamentary group in the United Kingdom asks a provocative question in its title: “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?

Thousands of Nigerian farmers are murdered each year, according to human-right groups such as Amnesty International-and all we want to do is protect our land so that we can grow the crops our families need and our country requires.

As a rice farmer in Nigeria, I’ve seen this problem up close-and I’m trying to solve it with technology. . . 


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