Rural round-up

19/03/2022

‘Russian soldiers took over my farm’: the battle for food supplies in Ukraine – Tom Levitt, Chris McCullough:

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended the farming industry, raising fears of disruption to domestic and international food supplies. The Guardian has spoken to three farmers about what life is like on the ground, with the Russian army hiding tanks in barns and stocks of potatoes expected to deplete within weeks.

Andrii Pastushenko, 39, is a dairy farmer who lives 12 miles from Kherson in the south of Ukraine, a city that has been under control of the Russian military.

On Monday, 10 Russian soldiers came to set up a base on the farm, leaving their tanks in barns, and more soldiers arrived later. But after overnight shelling by Ukraine’s military at Kherson airport, the Russian troops left on Wednesday morning.

“They quickly packed up this morning, taking two cars and food from the farm and saying they were ‘nationalising’ them,” he said, adding that they did not pay for either but said: “See you soon.” . . 

Smart tags help farmers to track cows’ health remotely :

A pair of Massey University students have developed game-changing technology that helps dairy farmers monitor their cow health remotely.

Engineering and PhD students Tyrel Glass and Baden Parr’s have set up an agri-tech start-up company called Protag, which has now raised $1m from investors.

This funding will be used to fast-track the development of their company’s smart ear tag sensors, which transmit crucial health and location data to dairy farmers within seconds. Protag’s small, internet-enabled device clips onto a cow’s ear. This allows farmers to continuously monitor the animal’s health, grazing and breeding habits.

Machine learning is used to process data from the device’s temperature, movement and location sensors. This helps farmers map animal behavioural patterns and detect the early onset of illnesses in real time. . . 

Tough times forge fighting spirit for Northland Dairy Industry Award winners :

The 2022 Northland Share Farmers of the Year identify their cows as their biggest asset and say looking after them in the best possible way is their greatest motivation.

Antje and Soenke Paarmann were named winners of the 2022 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands in Waitangi on Wednesday night.  The other major winners were the 2022 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Phillip Payton, and the 2022 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Macee Latimer.  

The third-time entrants believe the benefits from the Awards programme include making smart goals, forward-planning and using the judges’ feedback to improve weaknesses.  

“It is beneficial to sit down and work on your business instead of in your business.” . . 

David MacLeod appointed chair of Predator Free :

Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050) has welcomed the Minister of Conservation’s appointment of David MacLeod as its Board chair until 30 November 2025.

Mr MacLeod was appointed to the PF2050 Board in November 2016 and has been acting chair since the departure of inaugural chair Jane Taylor from the role in March 2021.

In addition to his role with PF2050, Mr MacLeod is chair of Taranaki Regional Council. He has iwi connections to Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāi Tahu, and Ngāti Porou.

“We have made some major strides since PF2050 was created from scratch five years ago and I’m honoured and excited to help lead the next phase of our mission,” Mr MacLeod said. . . 

Fruitful partnership nets bumper crop of Axis Awards for Rockit and Special:

Sometimes it pays for the apple to fall a really long way from the tree.

Doing things differently and continuing to disrupt the commodity apple category has seen the team at snack sized apple company Rockit nab nine gongs at the Commercial Communication Council’s 2022 Axis Awards, including one gold.

The awards, which celebrate the enormous breadth of talent within the New Zealand advertising industry, were held virtually yesterday afternoon, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Rockit™ Apple took gold in the coveted Design 360 category – which recognises a brand’s success across all its touchpoints – along with five silvers and three bronze awards in both the Craft and the Magazine and Newspaper categories. The accolades come 12 months after the innovative apple company partnered with agency Special to tell the story of its delicious, nutritious miniature apples. . . .

Diversified grazing and cropping bock with value high horticulture placed on the market for sale :

A block of productive rural land transitioning from traditional livestock grazing and feed production activities into more lucrative avocado orcharding has been placed on the market for sale.

The property at Maungatapere just west of Whangarei comprises some 47-hectares of long-standing grazing and cropping paddocks, alongside a burgeoning eight-hectare avocado orchard planted last year. The property predominately consists of volcanic soils with some clay loam, and flat to gentle sloping contour.

Farm records show the property has sustained between 100-130 cattle over winter, and between 50-70 cattle during summer. Concurrently, the farm has produced approximately 300 bales of baleage annually, along with 20-hectares of maize which has been grown on lease for approximately $1,000 per hectare. Annual ryegrass is sown in Autumn following the maize harvest for winter and spring grazing. . .

 


Rural round-up

17/02/2022

RATs and lanyards keep top cheese company rolling in Phase 2 – Checkpoint:

A top cheese company is relying on rapid antigen tests (RATs) to keep it going as New Zealand heads into phase two of the Omicron response.

Whitestone Cheese has sourced the rapid antigen tests itself and is waiting to be confirmed as a critical business.

Under the test to work scheme, critical staff who are close contacts of cases can bypass isolation as long as they return a daily negative RAT test.

The aim is to keep food production and critical infrastructure operating as Omicron spreads.

But for Whitestone it has been a maze of rules and an expense to get this far.  . . 

Discussion paper outlines carbon farming threat to sheep and beef sector :

Urgent national policy changes are required to ensure the increase in carbon farming to meet New Zealand’s climate change obligations does not come at the expense of the country’s rural communities, according to a discussion paper released today.

The Green Paper by former Hastings Mayor and MP Lawrence Yule, Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon, calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.

It has been released ahead of a workshop next month involving a range of key stakeholders including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Local Government New Zealand.

Mr Yule said the paper outlines the real risk that short-term land-use decisions will be made to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . . 

Mixed message – Rural News:

Farmers and growers can rightly feel somewhat confused about the mixed messaging coming from the Government about the risks to the sector from Omicron.

On the one hand, last week Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced that the Government had allocated $400,000 to support primary producers for contingency planning and response if farmers or growers get Covid-19.

“The Government is committed to keeping vital workforces going. Primary producers have always been essential workers throughout the pandemic, but as Omicron reaches further into our communities, we are stepping up to ensure we can protect the wellbeing of our rural communities,” the Minister claimed.

“Contingency planning by farmers, growers and lifestyle block owners will minimise the risk of further Covid-19 related disruptions, which can occur anywhere along the supply chain.” . . .

Sheep genetic potential holds challenges – Richard Rennie:

Growing pressure on sheep farmers over welfare concerns and climate change are demanding some shifts in what defines the ideal sheep. Richard Rennie spoke to AgResearch animal genomics scientist Patricia Johnson about her team’s work in trying to redefine sheep genetics in a shifting world.

Patricia Johnson likens the recent review she headed on New Zealand sheep and the potential to improve them through genetics as something of a “genetic warrant of fitness” for the species here.

“The work has really been a chance to reflect on where we are going with our sheep in NZ. After generations of breeding for more production, the industry is having to consider the complexities of breeding now for climate change and its impact,” Johnson said.

She acknowledges the significant and world-leading advances made in identifying methane inhibiting genetics in sheep. . . 

Multiple benefits of planting natives on farms :

Multiple potential benefits from planting native shrubs for use as sheep fodder are being researched as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.

The project, led by Dr James Millner, Academic Dean – Agriculture, at Massey University, was launched in 2019. It currently has three trial sites for a range of native shrubs, looking at palatability, digestibility, protein content and other nutritional charactersistics as well as the Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) for a range of species.

Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m programme focused on future proofing the profitability, sustainabiity and wellbeing of New Zealand’s hill country farmers, their farm systems, the environment and rural communities.

Overall, the research focuses include improving animal productivity, animal welfare, biodiversity and soil health, while mitigating soil eroision and climate change. . . 

Ag tech to drive labour efficiency no longer a now a must – Shan Goodwin:

ADOPTION of agtech that drives labour efficiency is fast becoming a necessity, rather than an option, in the cattle production business.

From drones doing water runs, fence checking and mustering to spraying weeds using artificial intelligence or remote devices removing the need for on-the-ground water and animal monitoring, the need for technology that replaces or improves labour has never been more intense.

Consultants and livestock agents say labour shortages are arguably the single largest issue producers are currently facing.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in the rangelands or in a high rainfall area close to services – labour shortages are real,” said NSW farm business consultant John Francis, Agrista at Wagga Wagga. . . .


Rural round-up

05/11/2021

Hey Glasgow we’re way ahead of you :

Federated Farmers believes Climate Change Minister James Shaw should not hesitate to sign the global commitment to reduce methane by 30% by 2030, because New Zealand is already playing its part and working hard to become even better.

The pledge, signed by more than 100 countries, is a commitment to work together to collectively reduce global anthropogenic methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.

The pledge does not mean that New Zealand must or should increase our current domestic 10% by 2030 biogenic methane reduction target, which already goes well beyond what is required for the GHG to achieve warming neutrality.

The pledge is clear in recognising that the mitigation potential in different sectors varies between countries and regions, and that the energy sector has the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030. . . 

Farmers are making good money from milk but they should brace to meet commitment to reduce the methane – Point of Order:

A surge in  prices  at the latest  Fonterra global  dairy  auction once  again underlines  how  New Zealand’s dairy  industry  is the  backbone of  the  country’s export economy.  At  the level they  have  reached, dairy farmers  can  look  to  a  record  payout    this  season  from  Fonterra.

Overall,  prices rose 4.3% in  US dollars, and, better  still, 5.1% in NZ$. Star  of the  show  was  the  cheddar  cheese  price, which shot up  14%,  with other  foodservice products also  strong.

The average price for whole milk powder, which has the most impact on what farmers are paid, lifted 2.7% to US$3921 (NZ$5408) a tonne, prompting speculation it will push through US$4000/t.

A  record  payout  is  already  mooted  by  some some  economists  in  the agricultural  sector. Above  $8.80kg/MS, it might  dispel  the  gloom  being  cast across the industry  by Cop26, where the  focus has  shifted to the  need  to  cut methane  emissions. . . 

Food security needs certainty :

The Government must act now to ensure New Zealand growers have certainty in how Covid will handled, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“We are indebted to our growers and producers that provide the food security our country needs at this time.

“But Covid is here and it will inevitably impact essential services such as growers. . . 

Kit Arkwright appointed chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand Inc,:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc (BLNZ Inc) has appointed Kit Arkwright as the organisation’s new chief executive.

Mr Arkwright, who has been fulfilling the role of acting CEO during the recruitment process, has been with the organisation since 2017, most recently as General Manager – Marketing.

Prior to working for BLNZ Inc, he worked in the UK for Great British Racing – the central promotional body for the British horseracing industry – tasked with marketing the sport to the British public.

He succeeds Rod Slater, who retired earlier in the year after 27 years in the role. . . 

Horticulture students place in top three in international food marketing challenge :

Two teams of high-flying university students from Massey and Lincoln Universities have placed in the final three in the recent International Food Marketing Challenge.

The Lincoln University team, consisting of Grace Moscrip, Grace Mainwaring, Kate Sims and Emma Ritchie, came in third place. The Massey University team, consisting of Dylan Hall, Sre Lakshmi Gaythri Rathakrishna, George Hyauiason and Reuben Dods came in second place.

Massey student Sre Lakshmi Gaythri, who’s in her final year of her Agricommerce degree, says this year’s competition was essential for putting her learning into practice.

“It was a great way to challenge ourselves to learn about the structure of the agricultural industry in the US, working on the challenge problem and coming up with solutions all within a short period of time,” says Sre. . . 

Secure water supply offers exciting opportunities in Northland :

The new Kaipara water scheme now underway offers the opportunity to tap into this Northland farm’s horticultural potential. This Te Kopuru property provides a chance to secure an investment in a green field site with secure water access for high value horticulture, offering scale and superior soil types in a highly desired location.

Learn more about how the Te Tai Tokerau water storage project will transform Northland into a horticulture hub for high value crops – www.taitokerauwater.com

Horticultural investors looking beyond the Bay of Plenty for horticultural land with scale and water security can invest in a large Northland property offering excellent growing conditions. . . 


Rural round-up

07/10/2021

Planning for farming’s future – Samantha Tennent:

Environmental challenges could threaten the country’s food production and food security.

Protecting the billions of dollars New Zealand agriculture contributes to our economy depends on how we deal with the environmental challenges and the future risks of adapting to climate change. Around 83,000 jobs are hinged on agricultural production and related industries in NZ and approximately 14% of Kiwis live rurally.

At a recent webinar hosted by Massey University, Dr Lucy Burkitt, a senior research officer from the School of Agriculture and Environment, explored the future of farming. She explained how Massey research is informing how we might best manage the environment for a sustainable future.

“With climate change, parts of the country will get warmer and drier, other areas will get wetter and colder, and this will influence the types of crops we grow, pests and disease prevalence and the risk of nutrient loss from storms,” Burkitt says. . . 

A Filipino migrant believes his farming success is his destiny – Gerald Piddock:

A migrant from the Philippines who won the national Farm Manager of the Year title for 2021, nearly chucked it all in before landing his dream role.

Christopher Vila is a believer in destiny.

The Ōhaupō dairy farmer believes it helped him in his journey climbing the industry progression ladder to farm management, as well as meeting his wife Jonah.

It also played a hand in him winning the Farm Manager of the Year title at the New Zealand Dairy Awards. He believes this because it almost all never happened. . . 

Seasonal work during pandemic not easy for ni-Vanuatu – Johnny Blades:

Ni-Vanuatu workers coming to New Zealand for seasonal employment are enjoying the benefits of a one-way travel bubble, but their mission abroad comes with steep challenges.

Around 150 ni-Vanuatu landed in Christchurch on Monday for work in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme in New Zealand’s South Island. 

RSE work offers them a chance to earn money to help their families back home, while providing much needed labour for New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture sectors

Coming from a covid-free country, ni-Vanuatu workers are exempt from managed isolation and quarantine at New Zealand’s border, and instead isolate at their workplace. . . 

New Zealand well-placed to ride regenerative agriculture wave:

There is a significant opportunity for New Zealand to position itself to take advantage of the global regenerative agriculture trend, according to research commissioned by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW).

“Although still in its infancy, regenerative agriculture is gathering momentum and is set to become a significant trend in food internationally,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“Brands are beginning to follow the leads of farmers and growers in the support of regenerative agriculture, and while the concept has yet to properly take hold among consumers, this research reveals there is a bright future.

“Fortunately, we believe the majority of New Zealand’s sheep and beef farming practices naturally align with key pillars of regenerative products or production . . 

Mid-Northland farm offers exciting options:

Investors and farmers will find plenty of appeal in a mid-Northland property near the Pacific coast that can offer the best of farming returns and lifestyle opportunities only an hour from Auckland.

Located on Gibbons Road about 15 minutes south-west of Mangawhai coastal village, the 220ha property is currently milking 440 cows and is one of the last remaining dairy units in the Mangawhai district.

Last season the farm produced 126,000kg milksolids, with its best year managing 131,000kg from the property that features largely easier country throughout.

Bayleys salesperson Catherine Stewart says a savvy buyer would be able to find a range of opportunities within the property’s boundaries, including the opportunity to ramp up the farm’s dairy production, capitalising on its good infrastructure that includes a 30-bail rotary dairy shed. . . 

Rising machinery prices a major concern for rural contractors :

Rising machinery prices are rivalling bad weather and breakdowns when it comes to the main worries keeping agri-contractors awake at night, according to a survey.

Breakdowns and weather problems continue to be agri-contractors’ biggest challenge, but the rising cost of machinery is catching up, NFU Mutual research shows.

Contractors put the escalating cost of machinery as their second biggest worry (28.6%), as contracting margins remain tight amid rising prices for new and used farm machinery.

Difficulty employing trained workers was rated as the third most serious concern (21.4%). . . 


Rural round-up

24/09/2021

The ETS is both a gold mine and a minefield – Keith Woodford:

The Government never foresaw the land-use forces they were unleashing with the ETS

In recent weeks I have written multiple articles on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) with a particular focus on forestry. This week I also had an extended interview with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ ‘Nine to Noon’.  However, there is still lots more that needs to be said.

The bottom line is that carbon forestry is now far more profitable than sheep and beef farming on nearly all classes of land. We are indeed on the cusp of the greatest rural land-use changes that New Zealand has seen in the last 100 years.

For many sheep and beef farmers, carbon farming can now be a gold mine. The key requirement is pastoral land that will grow an exotic forest that will not be destroyed by storm, fire or disease.  . . 

A new visa scheme offering 3 years in Australia to agricultural workers threatens to crush NZ’s primary sector – Aaron Martin:

Australians must be laughing at our immigration woes.

The Australian government has announced a new visa aimed at enticing agricultural workers by offering them three years of residency to live in rural areas. New Zealand, however, has no official pathway or plan for migrant worker residency.

Why is the Ardern government consistently the loser?

We have very proud history of sporting success against Australia. We love nothing better than to beat them at anything. We’ve had success on multiple fronts but, sadly, our government seems to come up the loser against theirs. . . 

The human cost of no response :

The Prime Minister’s ‘Be Kind’ message is obviously struggling to get past Wellington’s 50k boundary and out to Rural New Zealand.

You can tell because, if there was any response from her or her ministers to the concerns Rural NZ has, I’d know. To date, the tally is 0.

As both a farmer and National’s Agriculture spokesperson I find it deplorable.

The heavy-handed approach the Government has adopted in trying to reach unrealistic, impractical targets for water, climate change, zero carbon, emissions and land use, to name but a few, has placed enormous pressure on the farming sector. . .  

Fonterra completes reset, announces annual results and long-term growth plan out to 2030:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced a strong set of results for the 2021 financial year, reflected in a final Farmgate Milk Price of $7.54, normalised earnings per share of 34 cents and a final dividend of 15 cents, taking the total dividend for the year to 20 cents per share. The results come as Fonterra moves through its business reset and into a new phase of growing the value of its business.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the last three years have been about resetting the business. “We’ve stuck to our strategy of maximising the value of our New Zealand milk, moved to a customer-led operating model and strengthened our balance sheet.

“The results and total pay-out we’ve announced today show what we can achieve when we focus on quality execution and an aligned Co-op.

“I want to thank our farmer owners and employees for their hard work and commitment over the last few years that has got us to this position. Together, we’ve shored up foundations and done this despite the challenges of operating in a COVID-19 world.

“Although the higher milk price and tightening margins put pressure on earnings in the final quarter, this is a strong overall business performance, allowing us to deliver $11.6 billion to the New Zealand economy through the total pay-out to farmers. . . 

Hawke’s Bay A&P show cancelled over Delta risk fears – Maja Burry:

The Hawke’s Bay A&P Show, due to be held late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty and risks associated with the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Organisers said the executive committee of the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society met last night to review the risks and after significant consideration, made the hard decision to cancel.

The show was scheduled to run from October 20th-22nd. It’s one of the largest in the country and usually attracts 30,000 people to the Tomoana Showgrounds.

Society president Simon Collin said whilst the country was in differing levels of restrictions, and with Covid-19 cases still appearing the country, the event couldn’t go ahead. . . 

Scientists aiming to enhance the `human-ness’ of infant formula

AgResearch scientists think they have identified a unique new way to make infant formula more like breast milk and better for babies, using ingredients that could enhance brain development and overall health.

Research into this next generation infant formula could create new opportunities for New Zealand’s primary industries in a global market worth tens of billions of dollars annually.

With funding over three years recently announced from the government’s 2021 Endeavour Fund, AgResearch scientists Simon Loveday and Caroline Thum, along with collaborators from Massey and Monash Universities, are aiming to enhance the “human-ness” of infant formula produced from New Zealand ingredients.

“We’ve recently discovered a new natural source of nutritional oil that is surprisingly similar to the fat in breast milk,” Dr Thum says. . . 

Demand for NZ apples in India continues to grow – Sally Murphy:

An apple exporter says efforts to grow demand in India are proving fruitful with orders skyrocketing.

Although they only make up a small proportion of total numbers, exports of pip fruit to India have been growing.

Ministry for Primary Industries figures show last year 5.5 percent of apple and pear exports went there, but to July this year exports to India made up 8.2 per cent.

Golden Bay Fruit in Motueka has been exporting apples there for over 20 years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/07/2021

State likely to mismanage nature – Gerry Eckhoff:

Should the people be protecting New Zealand from the Government, asks Gerrard Eckhoff.

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain may enter but the King of England cannot enter — nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” — William Pitt the elder, 1763.

Two hundred and fifty years later we still have people in New Zealand (politicians and the botanical puritans) who simply do not understand the importance of that statement on the rights of the common man or women to hold property against the Crown and all its forces.

The recent controversy over significant natural areas has erupted over the identification of unmodified Maori land in Northland. The use rights to vast areas of private land have been identified for political seizure and effectively removed from private control. Most reasonable people assumed that Maori land rights were finally recognised as belonging to, and the property of, various iwi and individuals who wish little more than to exercise their rights to their land just as the rest of us do, or thought we could do. . .

Australia lures NZ”s migrant dairy staff – Gerald Piddock:

Migrant dairy workers are being lured from New Zealand to Australia by promises of residency for themselves and their families.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilkers chair Jason Herrick says his Filipino staff told him it was occurring among the migrant community.

It was also confirmed to him by farm owners he had contacted who had placed new advertisements over the past week wanting staff.

Four out of 15 of these new advertisements were due to workers leaving for Australia. The rest were because the staff had been poached by other farmers. . .

Lack of skilled staff at meat processors – Neal Wallace:

Meat processors will have to forgo further processing cuts due to a lack of skilled labour following Government changes to immigration rules, industry leaders warn.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is already short about 2500 people, including halal slaughtermen, skilled boners and butchers who have previously been recruited from overseas.

The staffing issue meant plants could not run at full capacity last season.

“What is new now is that it’s been made worse because of covid-19 and the borders being shut, meaning we can’t supplement the workforce with skilled migrant workers as we have previously been able to do,” Karapeeva said. . .

US buying up our primary industries – Farrah Hancock:

United States citizens and companies are buying up New Zealand land for farming, forestry and wine-making, an RNZ analysis reveals.

Almost 180,000 hectares of farming land was purchased or leased by foreign interests between 2010 and 2021.

During the 11-year period almost 460,000ha – a little under the size of the Auckland region – shifted out of New Zealand control through purchases, leases or rights to take forestry. For simplicity’s sake, this is referred to as bought land throughout this article.

More than 70,000ha of land was bought for dairying operations and more than 100,000 for farming other types of animals, such as beef, sheep or deer. . .

Will going meat-free really save the planet? :

Independent research by some of the world’s leading scientists shows the climate change benefits of substituting meat from the average New Zealander’s diet would only lead to a 3–4 percent decrease in an individual’s lifetime global warming impact from all activities, and could risk individuals missing out on key essential nutrients, such as iron.

The peer-reviewed research paper was developed by climate, nutrition and environmental scientists from the University of Oxford, Massey University, University of Auckland, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Riddet Institute, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka and the Ministry for Primary Industries. It has been published by the Switzerland-based Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) in the Sustainability Journal.

Reducing or eliminating meat consumption is often billed as one of the most effective ways for an individual to lower the climate impact of their lifestyle.

However, methane is a short-lived gas, whereas carbon dioxide is long-lived and, therefore, accumulates in the atmosphere. . .

Farmer to donate crop profit to mental health charities after mate’s death – John Dobson:

A Western Australian farmer touched by suicide will donate the profits from 60 hectares of his crop for the rest of his farming life to help mental health charities.

Sam Burgess, who farms near Arthur River — about 200km south-east of Perth — lost a friend to suicide last week and has dealt with his own mental health struggles in recent years.

Following his friend’s death, Mr Burgess decided to donate all profits from his 52 hectare crop to two mental health charities.

“I just want to do something,” he told ABC Great Southern. . .

 


Rural round-up

07/06/2021

‘More insulting than nothing’ – Govt cash not enough to fix single flood-struck station – Amber Allot:

Farmers in the Canterbury high country are dismissing as “woefully inadequate” a $500,000 fund from the government to restore their stations after they were hammered by rain.

Canterbury was battered by torrential rain on Saturday afternoon, with no reprieve until Monday evening. For some areas, up to half the usual annual rainfall fell in two days.

It has devastated much of the region, leaving huge swathes of land under water, animals dead and properties flooded, forcing many evacuations.

Rail and road infrastructure is also badly damaged, with repairs likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, while the region’s farmers face a huge clean-up bill. . . 

Rabbits not on Government’s radar – Jacqui Dean:

 Last year, $315 million dollars was directed to pest and weed control as part of the Government’s $1.2 billion Jobs for Nature programme. The fact that none of this money has gone towards targeting rabbits leaves me bewildered.

The recent images coming in from Australia of mice in their millions threatening homes and farms across New South Wales has been shocking to many New Zealanders.

But for people across large parts of the South Island, a plague of pests is their reality too, with rabbits running rampant across parts of North Otago, Central Otago and further afield.

Rabbits are an ecological disaster. . . 

Feds survey: Branch closures add to farmers’ bank concerns:

Concern about branch closures can be added to the continued slide in farmers’ satisfaction with their banks, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.

More than 1,100 farmers responded to the May survey and 71% of them said they were concerned about bank branch closures. Of those who were concerned, 42% said they needed branches to carry out their business and 56% were worried about the impact of closures on their local communities.

“Provincial towns are under all sorts of pressures, with workforce gaps, farms jobs disappearing as productive land is planted out in pines for carbon credits, competition from on-line sales trends that all traditional retailers face, to name some of the factors,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“Bank branch closures are just another hit on confidence, making doing business in rural areas that much harder, and another reason for young people to look to cities for their future when agriculture is the main way New Zealand earns its living in the world.” . . 

Farmers flock to see Wiltshire wool-less sheep benefits – Maja Burry:

It is hoped a multi-year study on a research farm near Masterton will give farmers a better understanding of the benefits and costs of shifting to a wool-less flock.

Massey University animal science professor Steve Morris said with the increased costs of shearing and ongoing poor returns for strong wool, many farmers were considering a transition to Wiltshire sheep, which naturally shed their fleece.

Morris said farmers were getting about $2-$2.50 a kilogram for crossbred wool and modelling showed prices needed to double for farmers to break even and cover the costs of shearing.

“We’re a long way off that and shearing costs are going up.” . . 

Plant & Food Research mentoring initiative wins HRNZ Award:

Our in-house mentoring initiative won the award for Learning and Development Capability at The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRNZ) national awards.

The initiative provides a formal system to create more value and impact from mentoring relationships among staff. Since a successful pilot of the programme in 2018, 70 mentoring relationships have been established

During the programme participants explore their career aspirations with their mentor and create a development plan. Included is a 2-day opening workshop, mentoring sessions throughout the year and a closing workshop. . . 

Biocontrol gene tech set to shred mice population – Samantha Townsend:

A technique that exploits the natural mating process in mice, which has previously been proven in insects is being explored to help reduce populations.

The technology aims to pass on an increased proportion of males genes to reduce the number of females to keep populations at manageable levels.

“The new technology we are trying to develop in mice is the same that we’ve had some success in this area for insects for malaria control,” lead researcher Professor Paul Thomas from the University of Adelaide said.

“The idea is that we using the natural mating process of mice to spread genetic traits through the population.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/11/2020

Biotech sector report calls for genetic modification rules review :

The biotech sector wants the government to review the rules around genetic modification saying the restrictions are holding the industry back.

A landmark report on the sector predicts the industry could be worth as much as $50 billion.

However, the Aotearoa Boosted by BioTech report pulls together a raft of constraints and challenges identified over the last decade, that need to be overcome before this can happen

A burgeoning part of the wider technology industry, BioTech mainly innovates out of the primary sector but is also popular in health, industrial and environment. . .

Moeraki’s indomitable slow fish legend :

Fleurs Place, in Moeraki, is one of New Zealand’s best-loved restaurants, and many people call it the best seafood restaurant in the country. However, Fleur Sullivan never even wanted to start a restaurant when she first came to Moeraki nearly 20 years ago. That’s just how things ended up after she started trying to help people out.

Thinking this month about Slow Fish – which is about preserving traditional fishing communities and connecting people more directly with the fish they eat, as much as it is about protecting marine reserves – Moeraki is an interesting case study. It illustrates just how vulnerable such fishing communities in Aotearoa have become in recent decades.

Ask most people what it is they like about Fleurs Place and, in addition to the beautiful setting and homely atmosphere (not to mention Fleur herself, who personally greets nearly every guest as if they’re old friends), a common answer will be its simplicity and honesty.

Fleur serves wholesome, simple, delicious food made with high quality local ingredients – including fresh fish caught by local Moeraki fishers, landed right on the dock beside the restaurant door. It seems like a simple enough model: put a restaurant by the jetty of a sleepy old fishing village, and serve fish straight off the boats. But as anyone who knows anything about commercial New Zealand fisheries will know, this “simple” set up is anything but simple. . .

Hunt scoops leadership award – Sudesh Kissun:

Southland drystock farmer Bernadette Hunt has scooped the 2020 primary industry’s leadership award.

The award, presented last night at the 2020 Primary Industries conference dinner in Wellington, recognises Hunt’s commitment to advocating for farming, particularly given her efforts to highlight the challenges farmers face nationwide measuring up to the government’s new freshwater regulations.

“Bernadette has the rare combination of having a clear vision of what’s right and wrong, being able to articulate a strong message and bring others on the journey. She absolutely leads by example,” Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said.

The Outstanding Contribution award, sponsored by Massey Ferguson and presented by chief executive Peter Scott, went to Beef and Lamb’s Rob Davison. . . 

Kiwifruit orchard wins inaugural award for excellence in Māori horticulture :

A kiwifruit orchard in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has taken out the inaugural Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Māori horticulture.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, which is in its 87th year, celebrates excellence by Māori across the farming sector.

For this first time this year the award was focused on recognising excellence in horticulture.

The award went to Te Kaha 15B Hineora Orchard, a 11.5 hectare freehold block of Māori land at Te Kaha, 65km east of Ōpōtiki. . . 

Training targets farm freshwater plans:

As farm freshwater plans are set to become part of industry requirements following the Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms, Massey University has created short courses to meet what will be a growing demand for training in the area.

As a result of changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, almost all farms in New Zealand will need to have a freshwater plan.

One of the concerns voiced by the industry about that, is there are not enough people with the necessary training to make that requirement a reality.

Massey dairy production systems professor Danny Donaghy says the new short courses are designed to fill that gap and move away from the traditional “hours and hours of online lectures,” and will instead focus on flexibility, new technologies and case studies. . . 

Constellation Brands NZ enters agreement  with Giesen Group to sell its Riverlands Winery:

New Zealand’s largest exporter of New Zealand wine to the US, Constellation Brands New Zealand, has sold its Marlborough-based Riverlands Winery to family-owned Giesen Group.

One of three Constellation-owned wineries in New Zealand, the Riverlands Winery has been part of the company’s portfolio since 2006. While the facility is no longer suited to Constellation’s ambitious growth plans, its capacity for smaller production runs ensured a great fit with Giesen’s production plans. Its location across the road from Giesen’s existing Marlborough winery cemented the extension as a logical and exciting strategic move for the innovative New Zealand-owned brand.

The sale of the winery is planned to settle in mid-December this year, in time for the upcoming 2021 harvest. Giesen is hopeful all current Riverlands employees will join the their team and be part of their future growth plans for the winery. . . 

Primary producers set to crack into nut producing orchard up for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest commercial macadamia nut orchards and associated macadamia nut processing and manufacturing operations have been placed on the market for sale.

The 8.1-hectare Top Notch Macadamias operation at Patetonga on the Hauraki Plains near the base of the Coromandel produces more than 15 tonnes of the high-value hand-harvested nuts annually – all of which are processed on-site and marketed through an established retail network, and directly via on-line sales.

Among Top Notch’s vast product catalogue range are salted nuts, roasted nuts, chocolate-coated macadamia nuts, honey caramel nuts, macadamia muesli, sweet macadamia brittle, macadamia butter, and macadamia dukkha. . . 

Classic country pub with mini golf course has buyers teed up:

A modern country pub operating in one of New Zealand’s premier year-round outdoor adventure and tourism regions – coming complete with its own 18-hole mini-golf course – has been placed on the market for sale.

Schnapps Bar in the centre of the North Island is located near the pivotal junction of State Highways 47 leading into and out of Tongariro National Park, and the north to south routed State Highway 4.

With World Heritage status, nearby Tongariro National Park is New Zealand’s oldest national park. Situated just a few hundred metres from National Park’s only petrol station and grocery store, Schnapps Bar is one of only a few licensed hospitality premises operating in the area. . . 

 


Foot in mouth outbreak at Massey

02/11/2020

A Massey University professor is suffering from foot in mouth:

National and ACT have become “vanishingly irrelevant” in Parliament following the Greens’ acceptance of the cooperation agreement offered by Labour, a politics professor believes.

The deal has locked in a political arrangement that will see Labour and the Greens “monster the Parliament” for the next three years, according to Massey University’s Richard Shaw, with a combined 74 of 120 seats held by the parties. . . 

“The National Party, ACT, and the Māori Party – assuming that the specials mean they keep Waiariki – are vanishingly irrelevant to what occurs in the Parliament,” Shaw told Newshub on Saturday.

He says the agreement – which the Greens will sign in a ceremony on Sunday – marks the largest political alliance in New Zealand’s parliamentary history.

It is the first time under MMP one party has gained more than 50% of the vote. But the political alliance isn’t very much bigger than the 2008 National-led government with 58 National MPs plus five each from Act and the Maori Party and one from United Future.

“It’s really hard to overstate how much the legislative agenda and the executive agenda will be driven by Labour with some support from the Greens, it’s a really remarkable state of affairs,” Shaw says.

Oh dear, it’s really hard to overstate what a very ill-informed remark that is. How can a professor of politics not understand how parliament works?

Unless it’s a minority government, the government has a majority as a result of which it passes the legislation it wants to. This one doesn’t have to negotiate with partners, but the major parties in previous governments could use their confidence and supply agreement to get their allies to support their Bills.

“And if you’re a National or ACT MP, you would be sitting there thinking, ‘Shit, what am I going to do for the next three years? I’m going to be surrounded by Opposition members in all of the select committees’ – it’s just dominated by Labour’s policy.” . . 

Yes it’s dominated by Labour policy and Act and National will be surrounded by government MPs. But good Opposition MPs won’t be wondering what they’ll be doing for the next three years. They’ll do what they’re paid to do – work very hard to to get better legislation, not by opposing for opposition’s sake, but by working with and against other members of select committees as appropriate, and on some, albeit rare, occasions they might even support government legislation.

If they hold a seat, they’ll also be very active in their electorate supporting and advocating for their constituents, and  a good list MP will also be doing electorate work.

They will be drawing up Members’ Bills in the hope they’ll be drawn out of the ballot too.

National MPs will be working very hard to be loyal members of a united caucus that doesn’t leak and will be contributing to policy development that is consistent with the party’s principles and philosophy unless they want to contribute to an even worse result for the party in three years time.

If they have spare time, they might also,  in an act of public service, help to extract the foot from the mouth of the professor of politics, and educate him on how the political system works and the essential democratic role a hard-working opposition plays in that no matter how outnumbered its members might be.


Rural round-up

19/10/2020

Rural stakeholders meet over Mackenzie fires – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers and the Forest and Rural Fire Stakeholders Forum are calling for urgent action following two major fires in South Canterbury’s Mackenzie district.

The embers had barely cooled on the most recent, the Ohau fire, before the debate turned to causes and Feds and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage crossed swords on what degree fire fuel loads on Department of Conservation (DOC) land were a factor.

“We definitely need some answers sooner rather than later,” Feds high country chair Rob Stokes said.

At a rural stakeholders meeting, including farming and DOC representatives, Stokes said it was a matter of absolute urgency to start planning now before the next fire. . . 

Ag Uni staff facing job cuts – Colin Williscroft:

Staff cuts at Lincoln University and Massey University’s College of Sciences have raised concerns about the impact they could have on future teaching and research of agricultural and horticultural science.

Earlier this month, Massey science staff received a discussion document that says the college’s expenses urgently need to be cut, with most of its curriculum affected by unsustainably low enrolments as a result of New Zealand’s border closure to overseas students.

The document set out two options to address the situation, with both requiring changes to the curriculum, along with a reduction in staff numbers of around a third – which equates to about 100 jobs. . . .

Shareholders Council review – final report out– Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman James Barron says the council supports the recommendations of a review into its role and functions.

A steering group delivered its final report to the council today.

Barron says the council is committed to actioning the recommendations.

He says councillors will be meeting farmers in their respective wards next month “to get a greater understanding of their views and expectations”. . . 

Don’t fence me in :

Three New Zealand farms are now using electronic cow collars that use sound and vibration to guide and contain individual cows without the need for fences.

The collars are designed by the Kiwi agri-tech company Halter. 

Basil the Friesian cow munches calmly in the paddock.

As she moves there’s a quiet beep emanating from a collar around her neck. . .

Gisborne sheep shorn after five years producing record-breaking fleece :

A Gisborne sheep that evaded capture for five years has finally been shorn, producing a record-breaking fleece.

Gizzy Shrek was shorn at the Poverty Bay A & P show this morning, producing a 13kg fleece, said its owner Rob Faulkner.

“It’s a hell of a lot of wool to carry around.”

It broke the record for the world’s longest fleece, measuring in at 58 centimetres. . .

Women’s work in agriculture set to take leading role – Andrew Marshall:

Women working in agriculture are increasingly likely to be better educated than their male peers and are on course to make up about half of the industry’s managers in 10 years.

More women than men are now studying and graduating from tertiary degrees in agriculture and environment-related courses according to research by the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

The analysis, which covers the entire agribusiness service and production sector, noted a 23 per cent jump in the number of women who completed post school education qualifications in ag-related subjects between 2011 and 2016. . . 


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

01/07/2020

Regenerative ag’s mythology questioned – David Anderson:

The “mythology” of regenerative agriculture and lack of scientific evidence has prompted two renowned plant scientists to write to Ag Minister Damien O’Connor.

In the letter, Lincoln University’s Professor Derek Moot and retired plant scientist Professor Warwick Scott, express their concerns about the increased profile of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand media and farming sectors.

They have called on the minister to convene an expert panel of scientists to review all the claims made about practice.

“It is important that sound science drives our agricultural systems,” they say. “We believe such a panel should provide a robust critique of the claims made about ‘regenerative agriculture’ to ensure the public, industry and policy makers have a balanced and scientifically informed view of the ideas promulgated.” . .

Rachel Stewart on the Green Party and farmers:

To say Rachel Stewart isn’t backward in coming forward is somewhat of an understatement.

The self-described “ex-media, ex-farmer, ex-train driver” falconer has often ruffled feathers with her forthright opinions – especially when it comes agriculture.

So Stewart’s’ recent Twitter activity, criticising the Green Party and coming out in support of farmers, caught the attention of The Country’s Jamie Mackay, who invited her to talk on today’s show.

The Greens are moving away from their environmental roots and becoming too urban, Stewart told Mackay. . . 

Seeking new markets in the West – Keith Woodford:

Neither Europe nor the USA are going to do us any trading favours. It is all about self-interest

In recent weeks I have been exploring and writing about some of the challenges in finding new markets that would allow New Zealand to stem its increasing reliance on China. My focus in the last three trade articles has been first on North East Asia, then the ASEAN countries of South East Asia, then South Asia and Iran. This week I look further west to Europe and the Americas before completing the circle.

First to recap a little.

The emergence of China as the most important trading partner of New Zealand has been a function of natural alignment between what New Zealand produces and what China wanted, complemented by New Zealand also wanting what China has been producing at lower cost than anyone else. . .

Tomato red spider mite pest discovered in New Zealand for first time – Maja Burry:

A pest known for damaging tomato plants and other crops has been detected in New Zealand for the first time

Biosecurity New Zealand said two populations of the tomato red spider mite (Tetranychus evansi) were found near Auckland Airport and in Pakuranga as part of routine surveillance several weeks ago.

Tomato red spider mites are the size of a full stop and are very difficult to identify. The mite’s main hosts are plants in the Solanaceae family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. They also attack beans, kumara and some ornamentals – roses and orchids. . .

Juniper hunt seedlings could grow New Zealand’s first gin berry plantation – Robin Martin:

New Zealand is one step closer to establishing the country’s first plantation of Juniperus communis – whose berries are the key ingredient of gin – following a nationwide search for the elusive conifer.

About 40 trees were discovered as part of the Great New Zealand Juniper Hunt, and seedlings are now being nurtured at Massey University and at two locations in Taranaki.

Egmont Village lifestyle block owner Marlene Busby had aspirations of making gin herself when she snipped a bit of juniper bush at a garden centre some 30 years ago.

“At the time I sort of took a little bit. They were going to pull them out anyway so it didn’t really [matter] any way. . . 

Waitaki’s geological wonderland – Mike Yardley:

Crossing the border dividing Canterbury from Otago, the Waitaki River, is like a pathway into another world. A region built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world. The wondrous Waitaki District has always been proud of its rocks, lustily exemplified by the creamy pure texture of Oamaru Stone that underpins the classic good looks of the historic town’s Victorian Precinct. But before hitting town, I ventured west into the heart of the Waitaki Valley, to delightful Duntroon, with its pending designation as a Global Geopark by UNESCO. As Australasia’s first Geopark, it threads together the spell-binding natural landforms, abundant fossil finds and rich cultural history of the Waitaki Valley, which was under sea when Zealandia drifted away from Gondwana. Seismic forces later thrust the ancient seabed upwards, at the same time that the Southern Alps were formed.

Robert Campbell, the wealthy land-owner and runholder established Duntroon in 1864, naming it in honour of his Scottish birthplace. This cute-as-a-button village is home to the Vanished World Fossil Centre, but before heading there, don’t miss Duntroon’s assorted trove of evocative landmarks. . .


Rural round-up

16/03/2020

Rural people show their support – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Mark Warren has posted a call for help on social media in an attempt to let other farmers who are finding life tough know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Warren, who owns Waipari Station in Central Hawke’s Bay, says after a sleepless few hours of the 2am churn and trying to be sensible and realise that his Ts and Ps (temperatures and pressures) are in the red zone, he realised he needed help.

“Although I keep hoping to be back to 12 volts, after a weekend wading through waste-deep mud and pulling lambs out of dams I realise my volt meter is struggling to stay in the safe zone. . .

It was all done on a handshake – Neal Wallace:

Stud breeding has enabled the Robertson family from Southland to settle family members onto farms. But Neal Wallace discovers that is only part of the formula for successful farm succession. Being a tight knit, focused and strong family unit also helps.

It might be dismissed as a cliche but the adage that an apple never falls far from the tree is applicable to the Robertson family from Southland.

The Robertsons farm Duncraigen Farm at Mimihau near Wyndham and the cornerstone of their business are stud Hereford cattle, Romney and Dorset Down stud sheep and various crosses of those breeds. . .

 Attracting more ag students – Peter Burke:

The numbers of students taking up agricultural degrees at Massey University is not really increasing, according to Professor Peter Kemp – head of the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey.

He says there are isolated areas such as animal science that have gone up. However, in horticulture and general agriculture the numbers are lower than they were a few years ago.

Kemp says this is despite the industry, at the same time, having more jobs. He says it’s really hard to unpack the reasons for this. . . 

Blade shear champ looks to 2022 – George Clark:

South Canterbury world champion blade shearer Allan Oldfield is training strategically in an attempt to retain his title at the next shearing and woolhandling world championships in Scotland in 2022.

Mr Oldfield, who is a finalist in the rural sportsman of the year category in this year’s Rural Games, started competing when he was 16 years old in New Zealand’s intermediate blade shearing grade . .

Business is blooming – Toni Williams’s:

Turley Farms Chertsey, in the heart of Mid Canterbury, is among a growing number of farms turning to sunflowers as a rotation crop to use between plantings.

Sunflowers are good for high oleic sunflower oil, which is high in oleic (monounsaturated) acid (at least 80%), and good as a frying oil. It also has a good shelf life and is used in infant formula.

The farm group, which has properties scattered throughout Canterbury, has planted more than 40ha of sunflowers at the Chertsey site. There are 62,000 sunflower plants per hectare. . .

Aussie flock hits 116 year low – Sudesh Kissun:

Prolonged dry conditions in rural Australia are taking a toll on its national sheep flock.

The latest forecast from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) says sheep numbers will fall 3.5% this year.

According to MLA’s 2020 Sheep Industry Projection, stock numbers have been dropping due to drought in key sheep producing regions. . .


Planet before people

07/01/2020

Some hospitals are forgoing science in putting the planet’s health before that of their patients:

Patients’ health will suffer if hospitals cut down on meat and dairy in meals, the country’s former chief education health and nutrition adviser warns.

However, another researcher has backed the push for plants to replace meat and dairy in meals, saying our meat consumption seriously harms health and the planet.

New sustainability guidelines for the health sector include a recommendation to reduce meat and dairy, including by developing new hospital menus and encouraging plant-based diets. Some hospitals have brought in “meat-free Monday” trials.

The environment can and does impact on health but thinking that a little less meat eaten in hospitals will have an impact on climate change is ridiculous and the health and welfare of patients must be hospital’s first priority.

The guidelines have been criticised by Grant Schofield, professor of public health at Auckland University of Technology.

“We are talking about our most vulnerable, sickest people, and food is an important part of that, and we take meat and dairy out – it just utterly beggars belief,” he told the Herald.

“Hospital food is generally of a pretty poor quality anyway, it is generally pretty highly processed. If you wanted to improve hospital meals you would look at the quality of the food, and meat would be my last possible target, because it is one of the best sources of nutrition, protein, good-quality fat and vitamins and minerals. To take that out of it seems objectionable.” . . .

My experience of hospital food is that it is high on stodge and low on protein, roughage and vitamins, of which meat can be a valuable source.

Vegetarian and vegan diets can be healthy but it takes a lot of care, and usually higher cost, to replace the nutrients lost from going meat-free.

Schofield, who advocates a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet and quit his Government advisory role over a lack of action on obesity, said cutting meat and dairy in hospital meals to counter climate change was “nonsense”.

“I think we have unfairly demonised meat and got it into our heads that it is somehow ruining the planet.”

The Ministry of Health’s sustainability guidelines were released in July, and note that agriculture accounts for almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Sigh, a repeat of the half-baked argument that doesn’t take into account either nutrient content of what agriculture produces nor that most of the produce is exported to feed people in other countries so eating less here will have no impact at all on production.

After the guidelines were released Dieticians NZ, the professional body for dietetics, labelled the meat and dairy recommendation disappointing and not appropriate for those in hospital, who are often malnourished.

People in hospital are there to be treated for what ails them, not to be used for virtue signalling.

Not everyone agrees.

That position drew a response from Professor John Potter, of the Centre for Public Health Research at Massey University, who wrote in a blog post that even if some patients needed more protein, this could be sourced from plants. . .  

It could, but not as easily and probably at a greater cost.

A nutritious diet is an important part of healing and good health.

Decisions on what people in hospital eat should be made on the basis of the science that determines what’s best for them, not that of the planet, especially when emotion rather than science often guides the anti-meat dogma of the dark green who put the health of the planet ahead of the health of people.


Rural round-up

13/11/2019

Banking pressures and Fonterra position prompt low dairy farm sales – Sam Kilmister:

Dairy farm sales are plummeting towards record lows as the sector faces uncertainty and a financial squeeze.

Banking pressures and the financial position of dairy giant Fonterra have been cited as the main factors for another drop in farm sales, which are down 6.7 per cent over the past 12 months. 

Despite an 8 per cent increase in the three months to September, the number of farms sold continues to drop as farmers come to grips with compliance laws, freshwater proposals and frugal banks. . . 

Meet the huntaway – the dog New Zealand calls its own – Jendy Harper:

Hamish Scannell doesn’t have a favourite dog. The Mt White Station shepherd says it “depends on the day”.

He’s certain about one thing, he couldn’t do his job without them. Like most New Zealand shepherds, Scannell and his dogs are a package deal. He owns a mix of heading and huntaway dogs.

Heading dogs are typically border collies, a breed of Scottish origin. The huntaway though, is uniquely New Zealand, acknowledged by the national Kennel Club as being the country’s only indigenous dog breed. . . 

Tree protest this week:

The protest group ‘50 Shades of Green’ is organising a march on Parliament this week to try and stop good farmland being covered in pine trees.

Asked why we they are marching, organisers say the answer is simple.

“Farmers love the land. Many farms have been nurtured for generations to feed not only New Zealand but 40 million people internationally as well.

“We’re now seeing that land gone forever, often to overseas based aristocrats and carbon investors.” . . 

Native planting tailored for better survival – Sally Rae:

Fonterra has announced a partnership between Farm Source and ecological consultancy Wildlands to reduce the cost of on-farm native planting.

Speaking at the dairy co-operative’s annual meeting in Invercargill last week, chairman John Monaghan said Fonterra understood the significant uncertainty and frustration farmers felt when it came to the likes of climate change and freshwater.

The co-operative was putting more energy and resources into developing on-farm tools, research and solutions to help farmers continue to run healthy and sustainable businesses. . . 

Bringing bacon home in south – Sally Rae:

American-born veterinarian and epidemiologist Dr Eric Neumann has made his home in the South while continuing to work around the globe. He speaks to rural editor Sally Rae.

He’s an international expert in pigs who has ended up living in Otago.

Dr Eric Neumann has an impressive list of credentials, having been involved in livestock production, aid and development projects, infectious disease management and research, controlled experimental trials, international project management and collaboration, government-sector biosecurity policy development, and one-health training around the world.

He is an adjunct associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Massey University, and also holds positions as adjunct research associate professor at the University of Otago, Centre for International Public Health, and as affiliate Associate Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology, Iowa State University. . . 

Cowboy’s last frontier: Rancher is a rare breed in O.C. raising cattle in the traditional way – Brooke E. Seipel:

From head to toe, Frank Fitzpatrick looks the part.

With a large, black cowboy hat tilted over his forehead, the 68-year-old cattle rancher casually propped a cowboy boot – fitted with spurs – on a post of a corral with about 20 bulls inside.

“I decided on my 8th birthday I wanted to be a cowboy, and I haven’t changed my mind since,” he said, looking at the herd of red Barzona cattle.

Fitzpatrick tends almost 600 head of cattle between ranches in Indio and Trabuco Canyon – the latter just miles from his home in Silverado, the same home he moved into on his 4th birthday. He attended Orange High School, where he joined the Future Farmers of America. By his senior year he had about 20 bulls. . . 


Why wouldn’t the Herald print this?

17/10/2019

Speak Up for Women has the column by Rachel Stewart the NZ Herald wouldn’t print:

It seems far-fetched that the mere hiring of a Massey University venue by a feminist organisation could cause so much indignation and rage, but these are not typical times.

A bunch of females getting together within a public space to discuss the issues currently affecting them is far from new, and very far from radical.

Yet, the idea that ‘Feminism 2020’ would dare to congregate at a venue on Massey’s Wellington campus saw a number of students stage a sit-in, which culminated in the handing over of a petition calling on the university to cancel the event.

What is so threatening about women coming together and talking? According to the protestors and petitioners, the organisers of the event – Speak Up for Women – are essentially devil incarnates.

Petition organiser Charlie Myer said the university shouldn’t be “facilitating this kind of discussion”. Feminism 2020 “could have [the event] anywhere” but it wasn’t appropriate for them to hold it at a university, which was supposed to support transgender students.”

Last time I looked universities were required to respect and uphold the quaint, old-fashioned tenet of free speech too. And Massey has, thus far, held out against the pressure of every thrown guilt trip known to mankind. You know, we don’t feel “safe”.

Myer also disputed the group was feminist and simply meeting to discuss women’s issues. “If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism.”

Don’t you just love it when men tell women what feminism actually is? I find it adorable. Like a possum in my pear tree. So endearing.

Another endearing move was to then see the spokesperson for diversity and inclusion accreditation business Rainbow Tick Martin King say that if Massey did not cancel the event it was likely it would trigger a review of its accreditation.

The spectre of losing their Rainbow Tick must be downright scary for them. I mean, since students are now their financial customers, Massey naturally wants to keep the client happy at all costs.

But back to ‘Speak Up For Women’ and their apparently devilish ways. Why do some students so feverishly want them cancelled lest they be “harmed” by their words? Of course, you’d think simply not attending would put paid to that, but I’m being far too logical.

No. These students believe that no one should be allowed to discuss, debate, or hear the reasons why many women are concerned about an amendment (currently on hold) to the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Bill that would allow a person to change their legal gender by simply signing a declaration.

The group formed because they were legitimately concerned the amendment would prevent women from excluding men from changing rooms, bathrooms, women’s prisons, women’s shelters and any other women and girls-only space. In a nutshell, they don’t agree that trans women are women just because they say they are.

The group supports the current law, which allows a person to change the sex on their birth certificate if they go through certain steps – specifically applying in writing to the Court and obtaining a medical sign-off from a doctor.

They also make it clear they support the rights of transgender people to live without violence and discrimination.

However they don’t agree that trans women should be allowed to compete against natal females in sport. In their view, it’s not a level playing field.

Now, what’s so heinous about that? Why does holding such views mean they should be de-platformed, cancelled, and marginalised?

Eerily, many of the organisers and some of the speakers are lesbian so why would the ‘L’ part of the LGBTQ be considered such a threat to organisations such as Rainbow Tick? Is the imperative of ‘diversity’ no longer extended to lesbians? Or feminists – regardless of their sexual preferences? Good ol’ intersectionalism strikes again! It’s a conundrum.

And therein lies the problem with intersectionalism. The manic race to win the title of ‘most oppressed and marginalised group’ sets up a spiralling vortex of ever-tightening circles of meaninglessness.

Will there be protests if the event goes ahead? Will the protestors consist mainly of male activists telling those women to shut up? Because that’s the rub for me. Seeing men shouting women down via megaphone, rattling windows, banging doors and generally screaming at them, reminds me why I’m a feminist all over again.

Tactics like these are being employed in Britain and the U.S. and where they go, we tend to go. If similar methods are on show at the ‘Feminism 2020’ event, it’ll be quite the statement.

Ask yourself this.

Why is it that some men are angry, abusive, and disruptive around such incredibly important issues to some women? What’s driving their need to shut women up? Why is free speech good for the gander, but not so welcome from the goose?

When did an open discussion by women about women’s rights become so threatening?

Actually, more to the point, when didn’t it?

What is in here that would stop it being published?

No-one is being defamed.

No-one is being incited to harm anyone or do anything illegal.

It’s a point of view with which some may agree or disagree, in part or in whole.

Why wouldn’t the Herald publish it?

 


Thugs’ veto wins again

17/10/2019

Massey University hasn’t learned from the Don Brash deplatforming debacle:

Massey University has advised Speak Up For Women to find an alternative venue for its Feminism 2020 event. The University has received external advice on its health, safety and wellbeing obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and its duty of care to the University community, and has made the decision on these grounds.

The legal advice we have received is that cancellation of the event, as concluded by the report, is the only way to eliminate the risk to health and safety and to ensure that the University would not be in breach of its health and safety obligations.

Massey University is committed to the values of academic freedom, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of expression, as values that lie at the very heart of the tradition of a university and academic inquiry. However, this event has created significant disruption to our students, staff and University operations, and we cannot accept any further risk or issues, or any risk of potential harm that may impact upon a particularly vulnerable community.

When health and safety is used as an excuse, it’s the thugs’ veto winning again.

Who’s Speak Up for Women?

Speak Up For Women is a diverse group of ordinary New Zealanders who initially came together to campaign against the sex self-ID amendment being pushed through as part of the BDMRR Bill.

We found each other on social media, at political party events, through our work, and through friends.

We began with a shared concern about the impact of transgender politics (including self-ID) on the rights of women and girls, but now realise that there is no one advocating for women across the board. Traditional women’s groups now focus heavily on gender identity and what is left is a void of services and advocates for women. . .

A lot of people will share these concerns.

Some might be threatened by this but the answer is to use logic and facts provide a counter-argument, not to use the thugs’ veto to shut down those espousing them.

A media release from Melissa Derby who was to speak at the event says:

In September, Massey said it would host the Feminism 2020 despite objections, and that it was ‘committed to free speech as a fundamental tenet of a university’. It looked like Massey had learned from the public backlash against its cancellation of last year’s event with Don Brash.”

“Yet, as of today, Massey has shut down the event, seemingly due to pressure from a vocal group of activists. Today’s announcement reveals the University’s true position is one of absolute weakness. Massey says it values free speech while its actions prove the opposite.”

“Not only has the University refused to uphold its stated commitment to free speech, it is being deliberately vague about its reasoning. Massey cites health and safety concerns, but it’s completely unclear whether this refers to threats of protest, or concern over ‘harmful’ speech. This is the most feeble use of a ‘health and safety’ excuse we’ve seen at a university yet.”

“Whoever thought we’d see the day when feminism is on the banned list at a New Zealand University? Ironically, I was going to speak at this event on the dangers of identity politics and the need for people to talk to one another.”

“If a University’s default response to ‘any risk of potential harm’ is the cancellation of speech, then it ought to shut up shop. Universities have traditionally been a space for free expression, protest, and the contest of ideas. Massey has disgraced this tradition.”

A woman who planned to speak on the need for people to talk to one another, has been deplatformed by threats from people too scared to hear what she has to say.

 

 


Rural round-up

16/05/2019

Tool for assessing water quality not reliable – scientists – Eric Frykberg:

A group of scientists have gone public with claims that the widely-used Overseer water quality system for farms might not be reliable.

They are the former Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group director Martin Manning, Massey University’s professor emeritus of industrial mathematics, Graeme Wake, Massey agricultural senior scientist Tony Pleasants and a retired associate professor of mathematics, John Gamlen.

Overseer is an online software model which was originally designed as a commercial mechanism for farmers to minimise the amount of fertiliser they used relative to their economic output from their farm. . . 

Looking after the people and the land  – Toni Williams:

Pencarrow Farm is a unique property just minutes from an urban shopping centre. Not only is it picturesque but it is a highly productive and environmentally sound enterprise.

It must be, as it has just won five awards in the 2019 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards – the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award, the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award, the Synlait Climate Stewardship Award and the Norwood Agri-business Management Award.

It is acknowledgement that owners Tricia and Andy Macfarlane, and contract milkers Viana and Brad Fallaver, are doing the right things. . .

Government’s targets for methane reduction are unrealistic:

Deer Industry New Zealand is disappointed by the government’s announced emissions reduction targets for agriculture. 
Dr Ian Walker, Chair of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), says that under current conditions these targets would result in significant reductions in stock numbers. Even if tools and technologies were available to reduce methane and nitrous oxide in the future, the level of reduction would effectively mean that the agriculture sector was being asked not just to cease its own contribution to global warming, but also offset the contribution of other sectors. 
“The deer industry as part of the pastoral sector is prepared to play its part in climate change mitigation. We do not deny human-induced climate change nor our responsibility to mitigate. The pastoral sector is willing to target net zero global warming impact from agricultural gasses.  But the targets for methane announced by the Government go beyond net zero global warming impact. DINZ cannot support these targets,” he says. . . 

Rural Equities sells second-largest property – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, has agreed to sell its second-largest property as it rejigs its portfolio.

Puketotara, a beef and sheep finishing operation near Huntly, covers 1,146 hectares and typically carries 12,000 stock.

The company, which trades on the Unlisted exchange, said it expects about $11.7 million from the sale including livestock. The deal will settle on June 20. . . 

YTD tractor and farm machinery sales steady:

Sales of tractors and farm machinery are currently steady compared to 2018 but there are a few challenges facing the sector, says Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president, John Tulloch.

TAMA year-to-date figures to the end of April showed a total of 1104 sales across all HP categories compared to 1111 in 2018: a drop of 0.6%. North Island sales decreased by 4.7% with 713 sales compared to last year’s 748 but South Island sales increased by 7.4% with 390 compared with 363. . . 

Established blueberry orchards placed on the market for sale:

The land, buildings and orchards sustaining one of New Zealand’s quality blueberry growing and processing operations has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio encompasses three separate properties in the Central Waikato areas of Rukuhia and Cambridge – the hub of blueberry production in New Zealand. Some 80 percent of New Zealand’s blueberry crop is grown in the Waikato region, with its nutrient-rich peat-based soils. . . 


Real Time GDP

18/12/2018

Massey University has launched a real-time gross domestic product (GDP) tracker, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

Called GDPLive, the online portal uses machine learning algorithms and the most up-to-date data possible, including live data sources. It allows users to instantly see estimates of how the New Zealand economy is performing on a daily basis, and provides GDP forecasts.

“GDP measures all market-based transactions, so it’s a very good indicator of how well an economy is performing,” says Professor Christoph Schumacher from Massey University’s School of Economics and Finance.

“GDPLive has been developed with the most up-to-date data from government sources and a diverse range of partners, including PayMark, KiwiRail and PortConnect, so we can get a sense of how the New Zealand economy is tracking in real time.”

Professor Schumacher says GDPLive’s use of cutting-edge machine learning technologies provides informed forecasts, making it a valuable supplementary decision-making tool for businesses. He says it will be a significant improvement on government reporting, which currently releases national GDP figures quarterly and regional figures annually. . . 


Rural round-up

23/11/2018

P kicking out dope in the provinces – Richard Rennie:

Rural New Zealand is playing host to a wave of methamphetamine (P) lab production and consumption that has knocked cannabis off its pedestal as the recreational drug of choice in the provinces.

Research by Massey University associate professor Chris Wilkins has highlighted that contrary to popular belief it is rural New Zealand, not large metropolitan centres, where P’s availability has resoundingly surged.

His research work has revealed small towns and rural areas where gang influence predominates are targeted specifically for P use to maximise gang drug revenue. . . 

Heading for a TB-free future – Barry Harris:

Ospri Chairman Barry Harris says New Zealand farmers can be proud of the progress of the TB Plan towards eradicating the infectious livestock disease bovine tuberculosis.

Among the most important challenges facing New Zealand agriculture is managing and eradicating diseases that threaten our dairy and meat exports. 

While Mycoplasma bovis has hogged the headlines recently, the progress of the TBfree programme to eradicate bovine tuberculosis has been quietly progressing as planned.

TB, caused by the similar-sounding Mycobacterium bovis, has been a problem for farmed livestock since they arrived in the 19th century.  . . 

Push for authorities to subsidise farmers’ use of dung beetles to help reduce environmental impacts – Gerald Piddock:

A company that grows and supplies dung beetles to farmers wants to partner up with local government to lift the insect’s uptake across New Zealand.

The insects are another tool to help pastoral farmers mitigate their environmental impact, according to Dung Beetle Innovations director Shaun Forgie​.

Forgie, along with business partner Andrew Barber and Peter Buckley, outlined to Waikato Regional Councillors at a recent committee meeting why it would be economically and environmentally beneficial for landowners and local government to include the beetles in steps for improving water quality and soil health. . . 

Stud stock agent judge of qualities – Sally Rae:

Among the hordes of exhibitors and visitors through the sheep pavilion at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week, there was a familiar face.

Stud stock agent Roger Keach is a well-known figure within the New Zealand stud stock industry and  regular show attendee for many years.

This year, he was tasked with judging the Hampshire sheep section and  all-breeds wool ram hogget class. . . 

Getting in behind – Rebecca Harper:

A lack of practical experience made it hard for Ashley Greer to get a foot on the career ladder in the sheep and beef industry, but she refused to take no for an answer. After years of trying, she has landed her dream job shepherding on a progressive sheep and beef farm near Masterton. Rebecca Harper went to visit her.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. It’s an old proverb, but one that is particularly relevant for 28-year-old Ashley Greer.

Ashley set her heart on a career in the sheep and beef sector and began studying towards her Bachelor of Science, majoring in agricultural science and minoring in animal science, at Massey University. In her holidays, she needed to obtain placements on farm. . .

North Otago meat plants ‘flat out’ – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s two major meat processing plants are working flat out.

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker said the site just north of Oamaru was operating three chains, processing both beef and sheep.

”Lamb is continuing to come through strongly, with the plant having just completed a very busy period processing chilled Christmas orders for the important United Kingdom market. . . 

Thriving horticulture sector behind new degree at Massey University – Angie Skerrett:

A booming horticulture industry has prompted the introduction of a new degree course at Massey University.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) quarterly outlook figures for New Zealand’s primary sector estimates growth in the horticulture sector for the coming year will be 13.1 percent, a $0.7 billion increase on the previous year.

A three-year Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree is set to begin in February to cope with the expected growth. . . 


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