Let some knowledge flourish?

06/08/2018

Then-vice chancellor of Massey Chris Kelly provoked outrage after making comments about women vets:

Kelly told Rural News that 75 to 85 per cent of vet students were women and in the first year when there was a high ‘cull’, it was the female students who continued because the work was largely academic.

“That’s because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass,” he told Rural News. “Whereas men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year.” . . 

When I went through vet school, many years ago, it was dominated by men; today it’s dominated by women. That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a fulltime equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal. So, though we’re graduating a lot of vets, we’re getting a high fallout rate later on.” . . 

Shortly after the outrage, he stepped down.

He apologised yesterday and said the information he gave in the article was incorrect.

He told the university today that he intended to step down from his position, effective immediately.

In a statement, Mr Kelly said his decision followed media coverage of his comments.

“Having had time to carefully consider the views of many staff, students and stakeholders, I believe that it is in the interests of the university that I step aside,” he said. . .

Martin van Beynen wrote at the time that the chancellor’s point was lost in the silly vet sexism fracas:

 . . But there is a wider problem with jumping from a great height on a man like Kelly.

Kelly spoke his mind giving a view which was not hateful or disrespectful. Essentially he was saying the taxpayer gets more bang for their buck by training male vets because of the nature of the job and the fact women, due to an unfortunate quirk of biology, have babies and want to spend some time with them.

It sounds like a defendable view which should prompt some debate. There might actually be a problem brewing away in vet education due to the dominance of female graduates. That won’t be talked about now because no-one will be brave enough to raise it.

The danger is that due to the sensitivity of the issue and possible ramifications of expressing a view, the wrong decisions will be made, not because people don’t know the facts or what to do, but just because to raise the difficult matters is a career wrecker.

The last and important point is that it’s quite healthy for people to shoot their mouths off now and again. It’s much better to know what people think than to have their views massaged by public relations or communications staff into nothingness. People censoring themselves is far more dangerous than saying what they really think.

Exactly. It is far better to know what people think than to have their views and opinions, whether they be right or wrong, silenced.

The importance of free speech is not something the current Massey vice chancellor Jan Thomas appears to believe in:

The right to speak freely is a bedrock principle of democratic society. This includes the right to hold opinions and express one’s views without fear and the ability to freely communicate one’s ideas.

History is littered with examples of tyrants who have sought to stymie this freedom of expression and, conversely, reveals the tragedy of those whose voices have been silenced under such oppression.

So far so good but then she writes:

Freedom of expression is one thing, but hate speech is another. As a concept that has now entered common parlance, hate speech refers to attacks based on race, ethnicity, religion, and increasingly, on sexual orientation or preference. . .

But not all religions are equal when it comes to criticism. I’ve yet to read or hear anyone attacking Christianity accused of hate speech.

Let me be clear, hate speech is not free speech. . .

She’s right that hate speech, however, it’s defined, isn’t free speech.

But the point that free speech would permit people to indulge in hate speech appears to have escaped her.

. . . Academics have a responsibility to engage with the communities we serve, to correct error and prejudice and to offer expert views, informed by evidence, reason and well-informed argument.

Given the current dominance of wall-to-wall social media and the echo chambers of fake news, universities are in many ways obliged to make positive societal interventions.

Universities support our staff and students to push boundaries, test the evidence that is put to them and challenge societal norms, including examining controversial and unpopular ideas.

This also obliges our institutions to support staff if and when they are attacked for engaging in such debates.

In this regard, I am guided by the University of California’s former President Clark Kerr’s oft-cited maxim that “the role of universities is not to make ideas safe for students, but to make students safe for ideas”.

And as I regularly remind our graduates, with rights come responsibilities.

Public universities have an obligation to uphold our civic leadership role in society and our first responsibility, I would argue, is to do no harm.

Universities are characterised by the academic values of tolerance, civility, and respect for human dignity.

All of that is reasonable.

And that is why it is important to identify and call out any shift from free speech towards hate speech. The challenge we face is to clarify when that shift occurs and to counter it with reason and compassion.

While I have concerns about what exactly hate speech is, I can’t argue against countering it with reason and compassion.

But then she concludes:

Hate speech has no place at a university. My university values our commitment to ideas and scholarship and free expression. . .

Spot the contradiction: a commitment to free expression and the exlusion of hate speech.

A university of all places ought to be able to counter the misguided, misinformed and mistaken by reasoned and reasonable debate, not by shutting them up and shutting down their right to express their views, however wrong or revolting those views are.

Karl du Fresne writes we should be very suspicious about claims of “hate speech”:

. . . My first concern is that much of what is emotively described as hate speech isn’t hateful at all. Too often it simply means opinions and ideas that some people find distasteful or offensive. But merely being offended is no justification for stifling expressions of opinion in a liberal, open democracy that depends on the contest of ideas. 

More worryingly, accusations of “hate speech” can be used to intimidate people into silence and put discussion of certain issues and ideas off-limits. In fact I believe that’s the over-arching aim.

Anyway, who defines hate speech? The term is bandied around as if there’s some agreed definition. But there’s not, and freedom of expression is too precious to leave it to an aggrieved minority or an academic elite to define it and therefore determine what the rest of us may say.

It’s also an infinitely elastic term. In Britain, where police have the power to prosecute for hate speech, there have been some frightening cases of overkill and heavy-handedness. 

Better to set the legal bar high to allow plenty of space for free speech, as the courts have tended to do in New Zealand. By all means, draw the line at harmful acts, direct threats to people’s safety or incitements to violence against minorities. But the law already allows for criminal prosecution in such cases.

We have far more to fear from people who want to suppress speech than we do from those who say things that others find objectionable. The real issue here is language control – because if you can control the language people are allowed to use in political discourse, you can control the range of ideas people are permitted to articulate and explore. . .

No, language is the latest battleground in what is known as the culture wars. The mounting clamour for tougher laws against so-called hate speech is an outgrowth of identity politics, in which minority groups are encouraged to see themselves as oppressed or disadvantaged because of their colour, ethnicity, gender, religious belief or sexual orientation. 

Hate speech makes some colours, ethnicities, genders, religions and sexual orientations more equal than others.

This has generated a demand for protection from comments that might be seen as critical or belittling – hence the frequency with which we hear people being accused of xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and misogyny.

No one likes to have these labels pinned on them, so people keep their heads down. Accusing someone of hate speech has the same effect. It’s a quick way to shut down debate. . .

It’s so much easier to accuse someone of hate speech than it is to debate and counter what they say with facts and reason.

Journalists, of all people, should be ardent advocates of free speech because they have the most to fear if it’s abolished. In totalitarian regimes, journalists are often the first people to be imprisoned (as in Turkey) and even risk being murdered (as in Putin’s Russia).

But the most illiberal pronouncement I have read on the supposed dangers of free speech came from a university vice-chancellor who clearly thought that ordinary New Zealanders can’t be trusted to form their own sensible conclusions about contentious issues.

This pompous academic thought we needed guidance to keep us on the right path. And where from? Why, from universities.

We can infer from this that universities see themselves as having taken over the Churches’ role as moral arbiters. God help us all.

That the academic is vice chancellor of the same university the former-chancellor resigned from for saying something which got the crowd baying intrigues and concerns me.

Kelly wasn’t criticised for saying young men mature later and drink too much. He didn’t say that women don’t make good vets. He did say women work shorter hours than men.

He got his numbers wrong – saying women vets worked two-fifths of the time men did when younger vets work similar hours and after 30 women vets work an average of 37 hours a week and men an average of 45.

He might also be accused of not wording what he said better.

But over-egging the numbers and wording what he said somewhat clumsily ought to be a minor transgression.

A vice chancellor of a university, which is supposed to be a bastion of free speech, declaring that hers won’t  be ought to be a major one.

Kelly’s comments provoked an outrage, lots of media coverage and led to his resignation. All I’ve come across in response to Thomas’s declaration that Massey won’t uphold free speech are a very few well reasoned opinion pieces arguing against her.

Liam Hehir didn’t refer to Thomas’s remarks but he highlights the value of free speech and the danger in silencing it:

. . . New Zealand has developed a similar free-speech culture.

And the value of that culture isn’t that it protects racists and crackpots. It’s that it protects the humane and decent, who will not always hold the reins of power. The re-emergence of authoritarianism in continental Europe, where free-speech rights are less embedded, may well provide a warning here.

So should we accord liberal free speech rights to those with deplorable views? Yes. But it’s not to protect them from us. It’s to protect us from them.

Kelly stood down as chancellor for speaking freely, if what turned out to be unwisely in these politically-correct times. Vice chancellor Thomas declared Massey a free speech-free university and hardly raised an eye brow.

The uiniversity’s motto is floreat scientia – let knowledge flourish.

It isn’t qualified as some knowledge but if free speech can’t flourish there, can all knowledge?


Rural round-up

10/10/2017

Dairy company Synlait to spend on research at Massey University – Jill Galloway:

A rival to dairy giant Fonterra could spend millions of dollars on research in Manawatū.

Canterbury-based dairy company Synlait will use some of its $7 million annual research and development budget at Massey University and its FoodPILOT​ unit.

It wants to spend the money on innovation, specifically on processing and packaging, as well as new products, and plans to develop a new centre for its operations. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk something special – Bernard May:

Mataura Valley Milk is creating something special just north of Gore.

We’re building a highly specialised nutrition plant unlike any other in Australasia to manufacture premium nutritional formulas.

It’s a completely different business from a dairy company, as we will be making highly functional and high-value products to order.

Mataura Valley Milk is a positive, and many would argue necessary, addition to the dairy industry in Southland. . . 

Tihoi Farm finds right balance:

Taking part in DairyNZ’s P21 research programme has helped Parkhill Farms to not only reduce its environmental impact, but also maintain profitability.

Chris Robinson of Parkhill Farms values having a choice about which farming system he wants to run. However, he also values water quality and understands that regional regulations limiting nutrient loss from his operation will affect his farming practice.

In 2015, DairyNZ was searching for a commercial farm on which to apply research proven at a farmlet scale. For Chris and brother-in-law Richard Webber, it was a great opportunity to investigate changes to their farming system to meet potentially conflicting goals. And so the P21 Focus Farm was created. . . 

Feds calls for stable and responsible government negotiations:

 

Next week promises to be a defining period for negotiations to form a new government and Federated Farmers is asking that whoever governs is pragmatic about future actions.

“Federated Farmers is ready to work with any government. We are an advocacy organisation for farmers, it is our job to work with all government, and opposition, representatives,” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Rural video blogger shares positive farming stories – Brad Markham:

Staring down the barrel of a camera, Sophie Brown is momentarily distracted by a noisy, low-flying plane overhead.

The usually unflappable Taranaki farmer quickly tilts her camera skyward, attempting to catch a glimpse of the winged intruder.

The chatty blonde’s out in an old barn introducing viewers of her video blog to the 80 bull calves she’s rearing this spring. . .

Farmers Fast Five: Sophie Brown – Claire Inkson:

Proud to be a Farmer Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Heels 2 Boots Video Blogger and Proud Farmer Sophie Brown

How long have you been farming?

I honestly don’t know when I became a farmer. Coming from the city, farming wasn’t natural to me, so when I started dating my husband eight years ago, everything farm related was new! Three years ago when we moved to the new family farm, I gave up my day job, so I guess I became a ‘farmer in training’ then! I only recently, on a departure card at the airport, described myself as a farmer, that was a big step for me! . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2017

Fear and loathing in the farming press – Colin Peacock:

Claims that the election pitted town against country were strongly echoed in the media – especially the farming press.

Hundreds of farmers beat a path to Jacinda Ardern’s home town of Morrinsville last Monday.

They feared a change of government would hit their bottom line and that they were being blamed too much for the state of the environment. Their strength of feeling prompted many pundits and reporters to say the gulf between town and country was widening. . .

Farmers ‘ batten down their hatches’ post election – Alexa Cook:

Some farmers are “genuinely worried” about the uncertain outcome of the election and are keeping their wallets in their pockets, Federated Farmers says.

Farmers have demonstrated against several Labour Party policies – including a proposal to introduce a charge for irrigation, and to include agricultural in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Last week New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said he would not support National or Labour’s policies to impose new taxes on farmers nor include agriculture in the emissions scheme. . .

World Rivers Day heralds boost for water quality data:

Understanding and improving our waterways requires high quality information and communities can now access the latest on their rivers, lakes and streams thanks to fresh data available today. World Rivers Day highlights the value many people see in rivers, and strives to increase public awareness and improved stewardship of rivers around the world.

Water quality is of high importance to many across New Zealand and became a key election issue. It is clear New Zealanders want to see a lift in the quality of our fresh water resources.

This World Rivers Day environmental monitoring organisation Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) is adding the latest fresh water quality data at lawa.org.nz, where communities can easily access data from over 1400 lakes and river monitoring sites. . .

Synlait to invest in Palmerston North research and development centre – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the South Island-based milk processor, will establish a research and development centre in Palmerston North to drive new product development, process technology and packaging.

Rakaia-based Synlait is partnering with Massey University and FoodPilot, which is located at the university’s Palmerston North campus and houses the largest collection of pilot-scale food processing equipment in the southern hemisphere. The business-to-business dairy products manufacturer, which counts milk marketer A2 Milk as a key customer, announced last week that it’s looking to enter the market for branded consumer products for the first time. . .

Where are they now?  – Anne-Marie Case-Miller;

The winners of the 2003 New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year title believe the Dairy Industry Awards are an important part of the industry and career succession, and potential entrants should prepare well and have a go.

It took Andrew and Alison Watters two attempts to win what was then called Sharemilker of the Year, now known as Share Farmer of the Year competition. . .

Zespri chooses head of sales Dan Mathieson as new CEO – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri, New Zealand’s statutory kiwifruit exporter, has chosen its global president of sales and marketing Dan Mathieson as its new chief executive.

Mathieson, who first joined Zespri in 2003, has worked in multiple roles in the business primarily based in Asia. Chair Peter McBride said Mathieson has an impressive track record and in his time leading the company’s sales and marketing he had grown Zespri’s mature markets and diversified the business into new markets. . .


Rural round-up

31/10/2016

Graduates take red meat path – Sally Rae:

Young Telford graduates William Benson and Lisa Bonenkamp will today embark on careers in the red meat sector.

The pair have completed their studies at Telford, where they were involved in the Red Meat Network, a tertiary network designed to increase the number of high achieving graduates entering the sheep and beef industry. Established last year, the network allowed 20 leading students from six tertiary institutions to hear high calibre speakers from the red meat sector, including New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Mike Petersen. It was funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership, a Primary Growth Partnership programme.

Encouraging young people into the red meat sector was a key part of increasing productivity, RMPP general manager Michael Smith said. . . 

Chinese investment in NZ likely to shift to companies – Alexa Cook:

Public suspicion and red tape is discouraging Chinese investment in New Zealand, a Shanghai Pengxin boss says.

Shanghai Pengxin president of overseas investment Terry Lee told a Chinese agriculture conference in Wellington they wanted to control the value chain from farm gate to the table, but New Zealand kept putting up hurdles.

Mr Lee told the audience New Zealand’s government tailor-made regulations so Shanghai Pengxin could not buy Lochinvar station last year.

He said there should have been an apology, and while suspicion was a natural reaction to foreign investment it was not helpful for New Zealand. . . 

The future of milk – Lynley Hargreaves:

Value-added milk products are likely to continue their rise, says new Royal Society of New Zealand Fellow Dr Skelte Anema. That means we’ll keep moving away from commodities like dried milk powder and export more expensive products such as fresh and long-life liquid milk and cream. A Principal Research Scientist at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre, Dr Anema has worked in the New Zealand dairy industry since 1990. He tells us how the science and economics have changed, and how processing milk in different ways can effect milk proteins, making for more consistent products, a longer shelf life, or even pourable cheese.

When you first started working in this area, New Zealand had cream-topped glass bottles of home-delivered milk. How has the research environment changed in the last 26 years?

Fresh milk that is sold in New Zealand is only a very small part of our milk supply. But one thing that’s very different now is that we used to do a lot of research on milk powder. . . 

Jane Hunter Honoured by Marlborough Wine Industry:

Jane Hunter, owner of Hunter’s Wines in Marlborough, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the board of Wine Marlborough.

The annual award is given in recognition of services to the wine industry over a period of time.

Jane, who arrived in Marlborough in 1983, has played an integral role in making Marlborough a household name in international wine circles.

Arriving in the province in 1983 as a viticulturist for Montana Wines, she went on to marry Ernie Hunter, the founder of one of Marlborough’s first wineries. When Ernie died in 1987, Jane took over the reins of the company. . . 

Future of Food:

The Netherlands and New Zealand have much in common, in both culture and economics, particularly in the areas of agri-food, horticulture and trade. Next month, the Embassy of the Netherlands is hosting a one-day forum, in cooperation with Massey University and FoodHQ, which will take advantage of the many parallels between the two nations with the aim of creating momentum for exploring new opportunities where we can collaborate on the issues of sustainable food commerce in key global markets.

Next month’s Future of Food Forum will be opened by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Netherlands Minister for Economic Affairs Henk Kamp. The Forum includes presentations and discussions between leaders from the private and public sector, including Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings, Zespri chief executive Lain Jager and Massey Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey. . . 

Insects are the sustainable food of the future –  Dick Wybrow:

The buzz is getting louder as we make more room on our dinner tables for bugs.

With a growing global population and shrinking resources, some experts think insects could eventually replace meat and fish.

It’s been estimated that it takes 1750 litres of water and more than 6kg of feed to make an average hamburger.

So maybe it’s time to bite the bugs back.

We already know a handful of freeze-dried ants or a salad sprinkled with crickets can provide heaps of protein. . . 

Meth use spikes amongst rural Australians:

There are calls for drug monitoring in rural areas after a study found meth use among rural Australians is twice as high as those living in cities.

One in 43 people in rural areas are using the drug, according to researchers from the University of Western Australia – that’s 150 percent more than in 2007.

In cities, use has only gone up 16 percent.

The highest rates of usage were found in rural men aged 18 to 25, particularly tradies. . . 

Nine Hours in the Combine : Reflecting on #My60Acres – Uptown Farms:

The corn is harvested!  It took Matt and I, each running a 9500 John Deere combine with a 6 row corn head, about nine hours to harvest the entire 60 acres.  So now that it’s all done, here are my thoughts.

Farming is hard work!

There might be a reason only 2% of Americans do this – it’s hard!  I try to battle that fairy-tale version of farming on my  blog but I don’t think I’ve given enough credit to the physical aspect of farming. 

I see him come home every night  covered head to toe in dust and looking physically exhausted.  But it never really registered with me.  Especially this time of year.  I know working cattle is hard, shearing sheep is hard. But driving a tractor or a combine?  . . 


Rural round-up

19/10/2016

New Zealand Food Awards unveils the ‘best of the best’ for 2016:

The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Food Awards, in association with Massey University, were unveiled this evening at a gala dinner among 400 guests at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, with nine products from 11 companies taking out the top spots.

A record number of entries – up 62 per cent on last year – made competition for the prestigious awards more intense than ever this year.

Wanganui’s Coastal Spring Lamb proved the overall champion, claiming the ultimate accolade of the Massey University Supreme Award, as well as the Export Innovation and Chilled Foods Award categories with its Lamb Rack. Judges were particularly impressed with the process used to grow, market and sell the product from pasture to plate.

Coastal Spring Lamb owners, Richard and Suze Redmayne, say winning the Massey University Supreme Award was a dream come true and great recognition for the farming families behind the high quality product. . . 

Exporters back single QA standard for deer farms:

All five major venison marketing companies and the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA) are backing the introduction of a revamped quality assurance programme for farmed deer.

The companies have agreed on a single standard for deer that will eliminate duplication between companies running their own QA programmes. They have also agreed that, after a three-year phase-in period, compliance with the QA standard will be a requirement for the supply of animals for Cervena™ venison.

The development of the single standard was initiated by the marketers and co-ordinated by Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) as part of the industry’s Passion2Profit (P2P) programme. . . 

NZ to support dairy development in Peru:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has today announced New Zealand will contribute $4 million to a four-year dairy development partnership with Peru.

“The New Zealand Peru Dairy Support Project will use our expertise to improve the profitability of up to 90,000 dairy farmers in the Peruvian Sierra,” Mr Joyce says.

“The project will focus on assisting Peruvian farmers with New Zealand technologies to improve milk and cheese production, handling and processing practices, and more effective research and extension.

“Dairying has good potential to increase smallholder dairy productivity and incomes in the Sierra, generating regular cash income and contributing to household nutrition and food security. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Apple Crop Budding Well for a High Quality Season:

Hot, sunny weather in Hawke’s Bay is budding well for another high quality apple crop as the trees reach full bloom.

One of New Zealand’s largest apple growers, BOSTOCK New Zealand is expecting a solid season in 2017.

BOSTOCK New Zealand Owner John Bostock says the outlook is positive thanks to mild weather and few frosts.

“Warm, dry conditions are ideal when trees are in bloom – we have had some really hot days in Hawke’s Bay, with temperatures reaching the mid 20s and indications show it’s a strong bud. . . 

The Stories of Ehrlich, Borlaug and the Green Revolution – Gopi Rajagopal:

 Fifty years after high yielding variety seeds came to India, a look at how they got here – and what may have happened if they didn’t.

For the average person, the names Ehrlich and Borlaug may not mean anything. However, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the two Americans, in their own way, did something extraordinary. Paul R. Ehrlich, a professor of biology at Stanford University, painted a depressing picture of the state of the world – a picture that had hundreds of millions dying within a decade, and nations such as India and England ceasing to exist.

Norman Borlaug, along with his associates, proved Ehrlich wrong. Borlaug helped nations such as Mexico and India double, even triple, their crop yield – an increase that outpaced the population growth rate and ensured that famines would remain only in the history books. . . 

Inland Revenue considers updating farmhouse expenses rules:

Inland Revenue is looking to bring tax accounting practice regarding farmhouse expenses into line with the law.

This is all part of a review of out-dated practices and policies.

The practice of full-time farmers deducting 25% of farmhouse expenses without needing to provide evidence of their business use has been accepted by the department since the 1960s.

Farmers have also been able to deduct 100% of rates bills and interest costs on loans.

Inland Revenue Group Tax Counsel Graham Tubb said this has allowed some farmers to claim deductions for private spending. . . 

Farmers’ Market Comes to Town:

Four New Zealand farmers have joined forces to bring the freshness of farmers’ market free range eggs to selected supermarkets across the country – introducing Craft Farmers’ Co-op. Kiwis can now enjoy premium free range eggs, within days of local hand-picking.

Located in Northland, Auckland, Wairarapa and Canterbury, the four independent farmers share common philosophies in the way they care for their hens and respect their environment. By collaborating as Craft Farmers’ Co-op, the farmers can provide farm-fresh free range eggs direct to more Kiwis in more locations.

Craft Farmers’ Co-op eggs are hand-packaged at the farm, into biodegradable, recyclable cartons, each with a story about the local farmer who picked them. This means people know exactly where their eggs have come from – the ultimate in traceability. . . 

Pioneering vineyard placed on the market for sale:

The first sheep farm/vineyard conversion property in the Marlborough district of Ward, continuously owned by the same family for six generations, has been placed on the market for sale.

A pioneering vineyard that led the conversion from sheep farming to grape growing in its region has been placed on the market for sale, ending six generations of family ownership.

Francis Estate Vineyard at Ward, South-East Marlborough, was established as a sheep and beef breeding farm by Frederick William (Billy) Francis and his wife Agnus Elizabeth Francis in 1905. The farm remained a meat and wool production focused operation until the late 1980s when the removal of farm subsidies affected the profitability of the sector nationwide. . .

Image may contain: 1 person , text


Rural round-up

12/08/2016

Kiwi world leader in precision farming – Nigel Malthus:

Mid-Canterbury farmer and businessman Craige Mackenzie was recently named the international Precision Farmer of the Year for 2016.

He is travelling to St Louis, Missouri, in early August to receive the award from the US-based PrecisionAg Institute. Nigel Malthus caught up with him before he left.

The award recognises “outstanding people, programmes and organisations making a difference in the precision ag industry”. It is a high honour for a man who was first invited to present a paper at an international conference in 2008 – but who did not then consider himself a precision farmer. . . 

$34-$35 Million FY16 reported earnings forecast for Synlait:

Synlait Milk’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $34 – $35 million.

Underlying NPAT for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $32 – $33 million.

Earnings guidance for the financial year ending 31 July 2016 (FY16) has been provided to clarify market expectations around FY16 performance.

“Our IPO growth projects added the capability and capacity to execute our strategy of making more from milk,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman. . . 

Collaborative group to improve nature protection:

A new collaborative group involving environmental and landowner organisations has come together to improve national policy on protecting nature on private land, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today at the Environmental Defence Society’s ‘Wild Places’ conference in Auckland.

“New Zealand is globally recognised as a hotspot environmentally for the loss of unique species. One of the most challenging issues for councils and communities is improving the protection of our native species on private land while respecting the reasonable rights of owners to use their land for farming, forestry and other economic activities. This initiative is about bringing environmental groups and landowners together to develop clearer national policy on protecting the plants and animals that make New Zealand special.” . . 

Feds welcome biodiversity forum:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new national biodiversity forum announced by Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference today.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for biodiversity Chris Allen says we now have the opportunity to come to a common understanding of the pressures and priorities for biodiversity, on land and in water.

“From here we chart a way forward. Part of this will be agreeing on a national policy statement. . . 

Threatened wildlife the winner if National Policy Statement on Biodiversity succeeds:

Forest & Bird is cautiously optimistic that the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will help New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, and streamline the process of protecting the environment.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced today that core stakeholders have been invited to meet over the next 18 months and collaboratively work on a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) is a statutory document that guides and directs the contents of regional and district plans. All regional and district plans must give effect to the policy. . . 

Entries open for the 2016 Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award:

Rural Women New Zealand is offering the Journalism Award in a partnership with the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

The Award recognises the important contribution women make in the rural community, either through their role in the farming sector or to the general rural environment.

The Award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities. The award recipient will demonstrate excellent understanding of issues and effectively communicate women’s responses to farming, family and business challenges, in a way which inspires and informs the audience. . . 

Changes to kiwifruit regulations:

The Government is updating kiwifruit regulations to ensure the industry is best structured for future growth, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“New amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations will allow Zespri shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and eligibility for dividend payments. 

“This will give Zespri more options for managing its shareholding available to any other company operating under the Companies Act, and will ensure that the interests of all shareholders are recognised in any decision affecting them. . . 

Zespri welcomes changes to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

Zespri welcomes the Government’s announcement that Cabinet has approved amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains these regulatory changes represent the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.

“The Kiwifruit Regulations have served the industry very well and extensive industry consultation showed more than 97 percent of growers support the industry structure, with minor changes identified to position the industry for the strong growth ahead. . . 

NZKGI welcomes amendments to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes today’s announcement by the Government to approve amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

These changes will ensure a regulatory structure that supports the sustainable, long-term growth of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry into the future.

The announcement today reflects considerable effort and investment by growers into ensuring the industry has the foundations to sustain its future in good and adverse times. . . 

Pahiatua Farmers Enjoy Participating In Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Wairarapa sheep and beef farmers Tim and Nicola Hewitt are proud of the environmental work on their family’s 724ha (640ha effective) property south of Pahiatua. While they were initially reluctant to enter the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they are glad they finally gave it a go.

“We didn’t want to be seen as blowing our own trumpet,” says Tim.

“But ultimately I think farmers have a responsibility to our industry to show that we are trying to do a good job when it comes to the environment.” . . 

New agri-food research centre in Palmerston North:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced that AgResearch and Massey University will jointly build New Zealand’s largest agri-food research centre in the Food HQ Precinct on the Massey University campus in Palmerston North.

As part of AgResearch’s Future Footprint Programme, AgResearch and Massey University are investing $39 million in the Food Science Research Centre and the design for the new buildings is well underway.

“The research conducted at the Centre will span the agriculture sector from farm to consumer, with a focus on dairy and red meat research,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

Association backs ‘thorough’ maunka honey verification – Alexa Cook:

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association says it can now classify what is genuine manuka honey, which it believes is a world first.

John Rawcliffe, from UMF Honey Association, said clarification around what constituted genuine manuka honey would help protect the brand and identify legitimate honey.

“Everyone who puts the word ‘manuka’ on a bottle is required to ensure that it is, so from any export honey the requirement is to show that you are labelling correctly that it is manuka.

“There have been question marks on how to go about it, and today under the UMF quality mark at least we can say ‘this is manuka’.” . . 

Rodent eradication lies in directed vitamin dose:

Rats die of a heart attack within 48 hours of being sprayed with a new chemical formulation invented by a New Zealand – United Kingdom joint venture.

The formula includes Cholecalciferol, better known as vitamin D3 and used as a health supplement in humans.

But Peter Signal, a director of New Zealand company Advanced Animal Technologies (AAT), says it’s the combination of the chemical formula with a specially designed delivery system, called PiedPiper, that has been shown to deliver outstanding results in trials in the UK, Europe and Kenya. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/08/2016

Falling NZ lamb numbers may not bolster prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – An expected decline in New Zealand’s lamb numbers this season to the lowest level in more than 60 years may not bolster prices amid uncertainty in key markets and as the higher kiwi dollar depresses local returns.

The country’s lamb crop is expected to drop for a second consecutive year this spring, slipping 2.9 percent to 23.3 million, which would make it the lowest lamb volume since the early 1950’s, according to the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

New Zealand lamb prices have firmed at the farmgate, at saleyards and in overseas markets in response to lower supply, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly data for July. . . 

Cost of dairy products continue to fall:

Food prices decreased 1.3 percent in the year to July 2016, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows a decrease of 0.5 percent in the year to June 2016.

Grocery food prices decreased 2.9 percent in the year, influenced by all the main dairy products decreasing in price:

  • cheese (down 11 percent)
  • fresh milk (down 3.2 percent)
  • yoghurt (down 9.7 percent) 
  • butter (down 11 percent).

“The price of cheese has continued to fall in the year to July 2016, to its lowest price since October 2009,” consumer prices manager Matt Haigh said. “The average price of a kilo block of the cheapest available mild cheddar cheese was $7.39 in July 2016, down from $9.07 in July 2015.”  . . 

Arable Industry Fares Well After Drought Like Conditions:

The 2016 arable harvest has fared well despite challenges, according to survey results released by the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative.

Federated Farmers arable vice-chairperson grains Brian Leadley says drought like conditions leading into harvest had many farmers concerned with how and what yields may look like this season.

“Survey figures show that while yields were slightly down in places, there were still some exceptional yielding crops.

“Feed wheat yields (343,700 tonnes) were up 7 percent on last season with 70 percent sold so far; sales are well ahead on previous years,” says Mr Leadley. . . 

 

Financial sting from honey bee loss:

New Zealand agriculture stands to lose $295-728 million annually if the local honeybee population continues to decline, according to a new study into the economic consequences of a decline in pollination rates.

One of the co-authors of the study, Lincoln University Professor Stephen Wratten of the Bio-Protection Research Centre, says it is well known that a global decline in the populations of insect pollinators poses a major threat to food and nutritional security. “We’ve lost most of our wild bees in New Zealand to varroa mite, and cultivated bees are becoming resistant to varroa pesticides. Functioning beehives are becoming increasingly expensive for farmers to rent.

We know the decline in bee populations is going to have a major impact on our economy, but we wanted to measure the impact.”   Previous methods of estimating the economic value of pollination have focused on desktop calculations around the value of crops and the dependency of those crops on pollinators. Professor Wratten says the experimental manipulation of pollination rates is a more direct estimation of the economic value of pollination, or ecosystem services (ES). . . 

Funding for Uawa River, estuary clean-up:

 Gisborne’s Uawa River and estuary will get a clean-up with funding of $500,000 from the Te Mana o Te Wai fund, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox announced today.

“The Government is committed to working with local communities, councils and iwi to improve water quality in our waterways. This funding will support fencing, planting, pest control and sustainable farm management practices in the Uawa catchment so as to improve water quality in the river and estuary,” Dr Smith says.

“This two-year, $575,000 project involves a partnership with local iwi, Tolaga Bay Area School, Massey University, the Gisborne District Council and the Allan Wilson Centre. The focus is not only on improving water quality but also on restoring whitebait spawning grounds and using the project for environmental and science education. . . 

  Cardrona Chondola a Game Changer for NZ Ski Industry:

Cardrona Alpine Resort are changing the game for the New Zealand ski industry – installing a $10million combined lift of gondola cabins and chairs in time for the 2017 winter season. The new McDougall’s Express Chondola will be the first cabin-style lift on a ski area in New Zealand, replacing the existing McDougall’s Quad chairlift.

The current McDougall’s fixed-grip quad was installed in 1985, and has been a Cardrona stalwart ever since. The lift is the main access point to all the Cardrona beginner terrain, and runs slowly to load and unload first-time chairlift users safely.

The goal for a new McDougall’s lift is to make it an access lift for the whole mountain and all of Cardrona’s visitors, not just beginners. . . 


Rural round-up

20/07/2016

Improved vintage augurs well – Simon Hartley:

A near 35% increase in the countrywide 2016 grape harvest could buoy the wine industry’s exports to the tune of $1.7 billion by the end of next year.

However, the sector also faces some headwinds, including a high cost of production and seemingly constant volatility in foreign exchange rates.

Central Otago appears to be holding its own after an improved 2016 harvest, with quality from the larger harvest already showing positive signs.

Demand for New Zealand wine was continuing to grow in the key markets of the US, UK and Australia, global accountancy firm Crowe Horwath’s viticulture specialist, Alistair King, said. . . 

All sheep are not born equal – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Some people reckon all sheep look just the same.

But not me nor all the other people at the Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep Industry Awards in Masterton a couple of weeks ago.

We look at them and think “There is a specific individual who has some qualities its mates lack and I really like the cut of its jib”.

The awards celebrate high-performing sheep farmers and leadership in the sheep industry. . .

North Canterbury dam project targets investment partners – Chris Hutching:

The $180 million Hurunui irrigation scheme is seeking money from investors and construction companies for its planned dam in North Canterbury.

But before Hurunui Water Project can issue a prospectus it must raise about $900,000 in loans from its current shareholders to fund the offer.

If successful in raising the $900,000 it will be eligible for a $3.3m loan from the Government’s Irrigation Accelerator Fund.  . . 

School students explore agriculture and horticulture opportunities at Massey University – Jill Galloway:

Curious secondary school students have a better idea if studying in agriculture and horticulture is for them after an experience day at Massey University.  Jill Galloway was there to observe them.

An experience day at Massey University is, in essence, about attracting students and getting bums on seats.

Visiting senior high school students in Year 12 and 13, with a sprinkling in Year 11, could be the university’s next studying intake for agriculture and horticulture lecture rooms. . . 

Rangeland income reliability lifts with carbon cash – Andrew Marshall:

Understocking does not normally help a livestock producer’s bottom line, but increasing numbers of pastoral landholders are getting paid to reduce their carrying capacity.

Strategic understocking and vegetation management has enabled these producers to tap into a decade-long income stream which even pays up in tough drought years.

They are cashing in on a national carbon farming program paying landholders who sign up to a vegetation management schedule which encourages woodland regrowth to sequester carbon on their land. . . 

Life, legacy and living well – Briar Hale:

For someone who doesn’t get out much, George of Motueka sure knows how to live well. He never pops out to the supermarket and hasn’t been to the doctors in living memory, so you could be forgiven for thinking George’s life is somewhat constrained. But au contraire; George finds his wellness by working the land and enjoying the pleasures of home. At 89, George still works a full day on his farm, doing an impressive four-hour stint either side of his midday siesta. Health and vitality, as well as joy in his labours, make his old age a beautiful balance of keeping busy and slowing down.  . . 

Computer Protection Software, made in: the world.

A global software enterprise run from a rural NZ lifestyle block. A look behind the scenes.

At Emsisoft, there is no corner office with a view, no central headquarters that I could wander through unseen. Only a blue and grey logo, existing only online, with an untold story behind it. The lack of office makes Christian Mairoll a hard man to interview, yet, here I am with an appointment, winding up a back road through the heights of a valley, near Nelson, New Zealand. Population 5,321. I cannot see any of them, the road is deserted. Locals call this part of the country the Top of the South, I call it the beginning to nowhere. Not even a cafe at sight. The gravel pit road is cradled by mountains and tall pine trees. Christian Mairoll is the face of a company that – apparently – doesn’t have a company face. Given that Emsisoft was founded in Austria in 2003 and is now run from Christian Mairoll’s eco lifestyle block in rural New Zealand, there are many questions to be asked. If only I can find the house in the raising fog. . . 


Rural round-up

01/06/2016

Intergenerational links forge deep connections to the land at Te Nihi Nihi – Gerald Piddock:

Six generations of family farming by the Muirs at Te Nihi Nihi in northern Waikato has led to a deep respect for the land, Gerald Piddock writes.

Farming and land stewardship is more than just about milk in the vat for Stuart Muir and Kim Jobson.

Muir is the fifth generation of his family to farm the land at Aka Aka in North Waikato. He can can trace his family back to when his Scottish ancestor Sandy settled on the land in the 1850s, droving cattle from the East Cape to the Auckland markets. . . 

New rules hit job prospects for Filipino dairy workers – Tess Brunton:

New rules introduced to protect Filipino workers from taking out huge loans to secure work in New Zealand are now being blamed for preventing those very people from landing jobs here.

Filipino Dairy Workers in New Zealand (FDWNZ) chairman Earl Magtiday said the rules, introduced by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) late last year, could cost Kiwi employers up to $10,000 to recruit a single Filipino worker.

“Employers are not keen to pay out so much money, especially now the payout is low,” Earl Magtiday said. . . 

Close watch on dairy auction – Dene Mackenzie:

The GlobalDairyTrade auction early tomorrow morning takes on more significance than usual because of Fonterra’s first indication of next season’s milk price being lower than the market consensus.

Fonterra last week indicated a milk price of $4.25 per kg of milksolids, lower than the informal market consensus of $4.60 kg/ms and the ASB expectation of $4.80 kg/ms.

“To us, the forecast is conservative as it appears to be based off recent spot dairy price with no future increases in global dairy prices built in,” ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said. . .

Consumers split on market choice – Rebecca Harper

A major change in the values driving consumer decisions means businesses have a choice about which side of the consumer fence they sit on, Massey University Business School’s Dr James Lockhart says.

Speaking at the 2016 Primary Industries Summit, Lockhart cited a Deloitte study, Capitalising on the Shifting Food Value Equation, that showed consumers are now split 50-50 into two groups – a traditional value group and an evolving value group. . . 

Stream work wins unlikely praise:

Bill Wilson smiles as he looks down on the Waikuku Stream: below him is a superb example of a restored lowland Canterbury stream.

The efforts of Wilson and his fellow farmers have recently been recognised with an environmental award from Fish & Game.

The Waikuku Water Management Group is the first recipient of North Canterbury Fish & Game’s ‘Working with Nature Award’ for outstanding efforts to improve local freshwater habitats. . .

ADF: no silver bullet solution to dairy crisis – Colin Bettles:

AUSTRALIAN Dairy Farmers CEO Ben Stapley says milk processors could help ease immediate pressure on dairy farmers by announcing next season’s prices now but has stressed there’s no silver bullet solution to the current crisis.

Mr Stapley said the support package announced by the federal government with $555 million in dairy-specific concessional loans and other measures was a “really good starting point”. . .

Indonesian live export scandal revisited – Colin Bettles:

FIVE years ago today, the ABC Four Corners program “A Bloody Business” exploded onto television screens throughout the nation, igniting a cataclysmic chain of events that catapulted Australia’s northern beef cattle industry into its deepest crisis.

The dramatic, emotion charged broadcast showed repeated images of graphic and intolerable animal cruelty, originally captured by animal rights group Animals Australia in mid-March 2011, from deliberately targeted Indonesian abattoirs.

Intertwined with vision also filmed by the ABC’s own investigation a month before, the expose zoomed-in on the gore and violence, to portray the live animal export trade as being systematically cruel and desperately needing government intervention to enact urgent reforms. . . 


Rural round-up

03/06/2015

At Mt Mable what you see is what you get– Kate Taylor:

A PASSION for bloodlines and pedigrees is evident when talking with Norsewood angus breeders Kevin and Megan Friel.

Mt Mable Angus Stud was established at Ohura, west of Taumarunui, almost 50 years ago by Kevin’s parents Allen and Maisie Friel, with the majority of foundation stock acquired from the Puketutu Stud.

On-farm sales started in 1986. Kevin and Megan took over in 1997 and moved the stud to the 880ha Pukerimu Station at Norsewood, north of Dannevirke, in 2008. . .

BERL projects calf feeding could give dairy economy a $340m GDP boost:

Economic benefits worth up to $340m in GDP could accrue from an innovative new science-based and internationally peer-reviewed calf nutritional programme if adopted by 10% of the national herd, new research shows.

Economic research firm BERL has analysed the results from a seven-year ongoing longitudinal study conducted by Massey University (the first research of its kind in New Zealand) into the efficacy of the Queen of Calves feed supplement programme, which uses marine and land plant extracts to enhance the nutritional value of the milk fed to calves. . .

Applications Open for Fonterra Farmers to Lock in Guaranteed Milk Price:

Following last week’s announcement of the 2015/16 forecast Farmgate Milk Price, applications are now open for Fonterra farmers to lock in a Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) for a percentage of their milk.

There are two opportunities in the 2015/16 season to secure a GMP on 60 million kgMS – up to 40 million kgMS is available in June, and up to 20 million kgMS will be available in December. Farmers who are looking for a GMP can now apply to supply some of their estimated milk production across one or more of five prices ($5.25, $5.15, $5.05, $4.95, and $4.85) at and below the 2015/16 forecast Farmgate Milk Price. . .

Southern Dairy Hub Gets Green Light:

The Southern Dairy Hub has the approval needed to proceed from its industry partners, DairyNZ and AgResearch.

Southern Dairy Development Trust Chair Matthew Richards says the Trust presented the results of its fundraising efforts to the Board of Directors of DairyNZ and AgResearch this month, and sought their approval and financial backing.

The Trust received 516 farmer pledges, with funds committed totalling $1.3 million. It had targeted $2 million in farmer pledges towards the proposal but the support from a majority of southern dairy farmers was a key determining factor in both Boards’ decision for the Hub to go ahead. . .

NZX dairy derivatives have record month in May as uncertainty, liquidity drive demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – NZX had a record trading month for dairy derivatives in May, as increased liquidity and uncertainty around dairy prices stoked demand for options.

The NZX Global Dairy Derivatives market traded 18,225 lots across futures and options in May, beating the previous record of 14,723 in August last year. Some 65 percent of the May trades were in options, compared with just 15 percent in August. . .

Briefing on the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative:

The committee commends the work of the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative. NZDFI is a research and development project working to develop ground-durable eucalypt species suited to New Zealand’s dryland regions.

On Thursday the committee heard from representatives of NZDFI including its founder Paul Millen, and Chairman, Shaf van Ballekom. The vision of NZDFI is for New Zealand to be home to a multimillion dollar sustainable hardwood industry based on 100,000 hectares of eucalypt forests, by 2050. . .

Mid-Canterbury Rural Business Network focuses on turning obstacles into opportunities:

Rural business professionals in Mid-Canterbury will have an opportunity to develop their businesses and strengthen their networks with the second Mid-Canterbury Business Network event for 2015. Mid-Canterbury will host its second event for the year on 9 June at the Hotel Ashburton, Ashburton.

The Rural Business Network provides an opportunity for rural-based business people to participate in events that will help them grow their businesses through networking and learning from others. RBN aims to connect innovative, motivated people from across the range of primary industry sectors with successful, experienced businessmen and women creating opportunities to share ideas, be inspired and learn by example. . .


Rural round-up

11/05/2015

$48m contract signed to expand NOIC scheme – David Bruce:

A $48 million contract has been signed to extend the North Otago irrigation scheme to another 10,000ha, with work to start this month and water expected to be flowing in September next year.

It is the major cost of the expansion, which is expected to total about $57 million once company and design costs are added.

The North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) and McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd signed the infrastructure contract on Thursday after enough farmers had committed to the scheme in December for the expansion to the Kakanui Valley.  .  .

Government invests in Primary Industry Research Centre:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see two of the country’s top research institutes’ second application for Government funding under the CoREs (Centre of Research Excellence) has been successful.

The two institutes, The Riddet Institute (Massey University) and the Bio-Protection Research Centre (Lincoln University) are crucial to New Zealand’s primary industries and have each made significant advances for New Zealand’s economy, society and the environment thanks to previous Government funding.

“I am thrilled that these highly innovative research centres have made it through the selection process and will now be able to continue their crucial work in sustainable pest management solutions and food science and human health,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President. . .

Carpet wool comes into fashion:

New Zealand strong wool, renowned for its use in carpets, is set to become world famous for a new use – on people’s feet.

Danish footwear firm Glerups has signed a two-year deal with The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and New Zealand’s largest farming company, Landcorp to exclusively supply strong wool for its indoor shoe range.

The indoor shoes, renowned for comfort, warmth and durability, are felted in 100% pure natural wool with soft leather soles. They are sold throughout Denmark and in more than 20 countries, including New Zealand (www.glerups.co.nz). . .

Climate Change Conversation welcomed:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s public consultation on climate change, ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, in December.

“We live in a global world, where as much as we are a part of its problems we are a part of its solutions,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Climate Change Spokesperson.

“It is important that the public are a part of the discussion in setting New Zealand‘s post 2020 climate change target. A critical element to having that discussion is that everyone understands the issues and trade-offs involved in setting our contribution.”

“New Zealand’s economy is driven by exports with 73 percent of our merchandise exports coming from the primary industries, worth $35.2 billion. UN projections have the global population peaking at 11 billion by 2075 and the FAO estimates that agricultural output must increase by 60 percent by 2050 to meet this growth. While New Zealand cannot feed the world we will play our part. It would be irresponsible of us to squander or underutilise our resources.” . . .

Unlocking secrets behind footrot:

New Zealand’s fine wool sector is a step closer to eradicating footrot thanks to ground-breaking research in sheep genetics.

The FeetFirst project, part of a Primary Growth Partnership between the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is using genetic testing to identify fine-wool sheep with resistance to footrot.  Researchers are now close to developing a simple test for growers to eliminate footrot using selective breeding. . .

Fund helps township with projects

A Waitaki Valley township is cashing in on its history as tourism grows, particularly because of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

Duntroon is undergoing a transformation to re-create its history, with the help of more than $100,000 so far from the Meridian Energy Waitaki Community Fund.

The Duntroon Development Association is leading the work, based on a community vision conceived about 12 years ago, with several projects, including restoration of Nicol’s Forge and a wetland area.

”It’s fantastic what’s been achieved,” association spokesman Mike Gray said yesterday. . .

Adventure & outdoor conference focusing on the future:

Adventure and outdoor tourism operators will have the opportunity to focus on growing their sector at a one-day conference in July, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.

The Great Adventure 2015, the only conference specifically for New Zealand’s adventure and outdoor tourism sector, will take place in Wellington on 2-3 July 2015. Registrations open today at www.tianz.org.nz/main/The_Great_Adventure_2015

Now in its third year, The Great Adventure will focus on growing a strong and unified sector that succeeds and leads at every level from safety to profitability. . .


Rural round-up

16/04/2015

Call for Cantabs to think about future of water:

Canterbury would have much to gain from improving its water management practices but needs more information on how land use affects the water supply, Waterways Centre director Jenny Webster-Brown said during a recent talk at Lincoln University.

Almost three-quarters of New Zealand’s total water allocation comes from Canterbury, and current land and water use practices mean the future of the region’s water quality is far from certain, Dr Webster-Brown said.

“The region’s water management challenges have arisen for a unique combination of reasons. The main causes include a reliance on untreated groundwater for drinking, intense agriculture production and the fact that most of the population live in the lower catchments.”

Dr Webster-Brown said while a lot of water is used in irrigation on the plains, urban Christchurch residents go through around 400 litres of water each per day; one of the highest rates of city use in New Zealand or Australia. . .

 Student in take welcome:

A significant lift in numbers of students studying agriculture is overdue and ”great news” for the sector, Beef and Lamb New Zealand chief executive Dr Scott Champion says.

This year, Massey University recorded its biggest intake into agricultural qualifications for at least 25 years.

At Lincoln University, the Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Diploma in Agriculture programmes both attracted 20% more enrolments than last year. Enrolments doubled for the new Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing and the Master of Science in Food Innovation programmes.  . .

Local government funding reform good news – Dr William Rolleston:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this evening. Federated Farmers has for many years been a strong proponent for reform of local government funding. We particularly support reduced reliance on the system of property rates, which in our view is inequitable from both the redistribution of wealth and the beneficiary pays perspectives.

Overall, rates revenue amounts to around 58 to 60 percent of the local government sector’s total operating revenue.

The difficulty with this system is that it seeks revenue for public goods from only those who own property in the community.  Thus the burden falls disproportionately on those who have relatively high value properties without necessarily the ability to pay. Compare for example rates paid by a super-annuitant living in their own home with a business such as the Warehouse in a provincial centre paying less in rates than an average farm. In fact rates constitute one of the top five expenses in many farming enterprises. . .

Nutrients Are Pesticides: The Dose Makes The Poison – The Foodie Farmer:

Most people find it odd that I am a Registered Dietitian who is licensed as a commercial pesticide applicator. I actually find it quite advantageous because what I studied in my nutrition degrees both undergrad and grad school, applies across multiple biological systems, not just human systems, but soil and plant systems too. Because I have a solid understanding of the science of nutrition, I therefore have a solid understanding of the science of pesticides. Many of the nutrients I studied as an RD, have applications as pesticides.

Paracelsus was correct when he coined the term “The dose makes the poison“. 

First, lets start with some definitions: . . .

 

Mr and Mrs Flowers – Thekitchensgarden:

Yesterday, after milking the cow and feeding the goats and the cows and the big pigs and the little pigs and the chickens of all descriptions, John and I loaded two dog crates into The Matriarchs jeep and went to the Bantam Swap. Do you remember last years Bantam Swap we brought home Godot and Carlos Garcia and the year before we brought home BooBoo and the year before that it was The Duke of Kupa. 

Well this year was just as successful. . .

Fruit and vegetable market ripe with growth opportunities goes up for sale:

A well-known fruit and vegetable market in Napier’s ‘Golden Mile’ – known as the centre of lifestyle, horticulture and market gardens – has been placed on the market for sale.

McKelvie’s Country Market is a long-established, family owned produce business operating from 284 Meeanee Road in Napier. The area is locally known as the ‘Golden Mile’ for its fertile soil resulting in the high quality fruit and vegetables produced and sold. . .

 


Rural round-up

11/04/2015

Big jump in number of agriculture students:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand is welcoming an increase in enrolments in agricultural courses at Massey and Lincoln universities as a sign that more school leavers are considering careers in the primary sector.

Massey University has had its biggest intake into agricultural courses for at least 25 years, with almost 190 first year students enrolling in the compulsory Plants in Agriculture class.

Lincoln University’s Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Diploma in Agriculture programmes both attracted 20 percent more enrolments than last year, and enrolments have doubled for the new Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing and the Master of Science in Food Innovation programmes. . .

Motivated dairy couple aim high – Gerard Hutching:

Matt and Tracey Honeysett are hoping it will be third time lucky when the national sharemilker/equity farmer of the year category is decided later this year.

In 2009 the couple won the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa farm manager of the year title, and this year the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa sharemilker/equity farmers of the year, milking 1200 kiwi cross cows for the Pahautea Ltd Partnership. 

The farm is 420 effective hectares, with 266 ha support.

It is the fourth time they have entered the dairy awards. . .

Mastitis, antibiotics and milk – Milk Maid Marian:

Why do we use antibiotics on our farm? Very simply, because despite everything we do to look after their well being, cows, just like people, sometimes fall ill and need antibiotics to get better.

It’s very rare that any of our 260 milking cows become lame with an infection while digestive problems are almost unheard of here and, in any case, do not require antibiotics.

The number one illness we treat on our farm is mastitis. If you’ve breastfed a baby yourself, there’s a fair chance you’ve experienced mastitis. In both cows and women, the symptoms include swelling, warmth and redness for light cases. Nasty cases bring flu-like symptoms that, in cows, can progress to become extremely serious. . .

Rural women and olive oil – what a great mix! And it all came about over a cup of coffee:

Where to house the new community olive press was the big topic of conversation when Gendie Somerville-Ryan, President of Awana Rural Women on Great Barrier Island, met Carol and Trevor Rendle of Barrier Olive Growers Ltd for coffee. Awana Rural Women, a branch of Rural Women NZ, owns its own premises – a hall and a garage. The garage was undergoing a major upgrade and would make the perfect place for the olive press. All it took was a cup of coffee and a chat and the olive press had a new home.

“Awana Rural Women activities encourage community cooperation and development and what better way to demonstrate this than to help promote economic growth through horticulture,” said Mrs Somerville-Ryan. “Our facilities are centrally located, of a high standard and well-known around Great Barrier Island. Housing the olive press is very much in line with our philosophy of helping the community to help itself through education, personal development and building community capacity. It’s a win-win for everyone.” . . .

 

Fodder beet poised to revolutionise beef production:

The beef industry is poised for a revolution driven by explosive growth in the adoption of fodder beet by Kiwi farmers to finish cattle faster and cheaper than it has ever been possible before.

That was the simple message Dr Jim Gibbs, a senior lecturer in animal science at Lincoln University, gave farmers at a fodder beet field day in Middlemarch.

“The beef industry in New Zealand ought to be one of this country’s premier primary industries, but it’s not,” he told NZ Farmer later. “For 15 years it has just been treading water or probably going slightly backwards.” . . .

Kiwifruit orchard top returns, again :

For the second time in two seasons, Owen St George’s kiwifruit orchard has posted a top orchard gate return (OGR) for its green variety with post-harvest company DMS.

This year, despite producing less fruit than the previous season, the Te Puna orchard saw an increased OGR of $99,000 based on 11,760 trays per hectare, thanks to an outstanding $3.37 per tray Kiwistart payout. Last year’s 15,109 trays per hectare produced an OGR of $90,000, after having been stored throughout the season.

Owen says the two top consecutive results – albeit on opposite sides of the scale – are all about income consistency. . .

Hokonui rural radio hits South Taranaki airwaves – Sue O’Dowd:

South and Central Taranaki radio listeners can now tune in to a dedicated rural radio station.

They’ve been able to listen to Hokonui Radio on 88.2FM or 1557AM since Tuesday.

Announcer Bryan Vickery has moved from Coast to host the new Hokonui breakfast show from 6am to 9am weekdays.

“It’s a privilege to be the first presenter to front the Hokonui breakfast show,” Vickery said. “I’m excited because its local radio at its very best.” . . .


Rural round-up

26/03/2015

Clever clover management boosts output at Tempello  – Tony Benny:

Tempello Station has been in David Grigg’s family for 101 years. The 4800-hectare property lies between the Awatere and Wairau Valleys, climbing from 100 metres, just out of Renwick, up to 1000m in the hills south of Blenheim.

It’s mix of intensively managed flats and lower hill country and lightly stocked high run country and carries 10,495 stock units, 51.4 per cent cattle and 48.6 per cent sheep. There’s also 13ha in grapes, grown on contract.

Over the past 10 years or so, David and wife Jo have fine-tuned their system and by getting the most out of their sub clover they’ve upped total meat production from 60 tonnes to 76 tonnes, despite having fewer ewes. . .

ASB Farmshed Economics Report:

Special Quarterly Edition

Special edition: Cherry picking in the USA and the US dairy renaissance

A better milk price will have to wait until next season after all

Parity against the Australian dollar is a possibility for the NZ dollar this year

Special topic: Cherry picking in the USA: The US dairy renaissance

The NZ dairy production outlook is not as bad as first feared according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report. Prices have moved to reflect this changing view – up sharply in February on the plunging production fears, and then down by a lesser amount as those fears eased. . .

 Aerial tool a game-changer for agriculture:

A new aerial imaging tool is capturing the attention of the agriculture sector with its ability to provide nutrient, soil and water information about land.

Massey University bought the $500,000 imaging system from Finland for a primary growth partnership programme involving the Ministry for Primary Industries and fertiliser company Ravensdown, which aims to improve how fertiliser is applied to hill country.

The university’s Professor in Precision Agriculture, Ian Yule, says the sensor, which is attached to a plane, can capture large amounts of information on the nutrient content of land. That information may have previously been inaccessible.

“We can use it to identify the nutrient concentration in pasture or any crop that we would want to look at. We can identify different plant types, different species. We think we can find the differences between cultivars and so on, just from looking at the crop from the air. It’s a very fast developing technology but I think we’re kind of in the forefront with it here, with the use we’re trying to make of it.” . . .

Natural Progression for West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Awards Winners:

It was a natural progression for Greymouth’s Kelvin and Heather McKay to take out the 2015 West Coast/Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title – the couple were last year’s runners-up and placed third in 2013.

Kelvin and Heather McKay were the major winners at the 2015 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards at Shantytown last night, winning $7100 in prizes. The other big winners were Thomas and Hannah Oats, the region’s 2015 Farm Managers of the Year, and Danny Mitchell, the 2015 Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“Entering the competition made us look closely at all aspects of our business,” the McKay’s said. “It has made us focus more on what it is we want to achieve and identify areas of our farming operation which we can improve.” . . .

 

Maori growers back record result in kiwifruit industry vote:

Kiwifruit grower and post-harvest entity Te Awanui Huka Pak has congratulated growers for turning out in record numbers for the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) grower referendum.

“Maori are a key driving force in the kiwifruit industry, and the KISP process was about ensuring that this industry creates wealth for Maori both now and for future generations” says Te Awanui Huka Pak Chair Neil Te Kani.

“With a record voter turnout and over 90% support for all recommendations, the kiwifruit industry is in a strong position to deliver a strong economic growth platform for Maori” says Mr Te Kani.

“Te Awanui Huka Pak are strong supporters of the Single Point of Entry (SPE) structure as this is a crucial element to increase wealth for Maori in the industry. To see 98% grower support for the SPE is a fantastic result, and one that I endorse” says Mr Te Kani.

McCashin’s Brewery Wins Supreme Cider Award in Ireland:

A sugar-free berry cider produced by McCashin’s Brewery in Stoke, Nelson, has claimed the Supreme Cider Award in a country that’s been making cider for over 2000 years.

The Rockdale Three Berry Cider was one of six McCashin’s Brewery products to gain recognition at this month’s Dublin Craft Beer Cup in Ireland, taking out a gold medal and the Supreme Cider Award.

Market representative Scott McCashin said the Supreme Award was a tremendous accolade to receive as the competition attracted entries from all around the world, and it validated the effort that McCashin’s had put into its cider production. . .

 

 

Dairy farmers work stories's photo.


Rural round-up

04/11/2014

Read the story not just the headline – Jon Morgan:

Milk not as good as we thought? Milk may do more harm than good – not quite the headlines to lift the confidence of dairy farmers.

Unfortunately, they and others like them have been seen in major newspapers, on TV news and on news websites around the world in the past week.

They come from a study by Swedish researchers that comes to the conclusion that drinking more than three glasses of milk a day may not protect bones against breaking, and may even lead to higher rates of death.

The study suggests certain types of sugars found in milk may increase inflammation and oxidative stress, which can damage body cells.

To the credit of some reports, they also added high up in the story the researchers’ comment that they could not prove “cause and effect” and much more research was needed before anyone would be advised to limit their milk consumption. . .

Dairy farm focus on cost-cutting – Dene Mackenzie:

Dairy farmers will focus on the parts of their business they can easily change as their income drops in the 2014-15 season, according to ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley.

In his quarterly economic forecasts, released this morning, Mr Tuffley said the firstthings farmers would look at were likely to be feed and farm maintenance.

Last season, farmers had incentive to increase production through additional feed and, generally, the feed price was of secondary importance to feed availability. That resulted in palm kernel imports rising by 400 million kg, or 29%, on the previous season, at an additional cost of $120 millon, he said.

”This season, in many cases extra feed doesn’t pay. Farmers may reduce the amount of feed they purchase or make what they do have go further.” . . .

Uruguay link still strong – Sally Rae:

Back in the 1960s, a young Enrique Larraechea, from Uruguay, visited the Robertson family in West Otago and bought a Romney ram.

Decades later, Mr Larraechea has returned, recently purchasing rams from Blair Robertson at the Merrydowns stud at Waikoikoi, and his uncle David Robertson, at the Aurora stud at Palmerston.

Buying from the Robertson family had become a ”very, very nice family tradition” over the years.

”I feel very much together with them … we have complete faith in each other,” Mr Larraechea, known as Kike, said.

In the 1960s, he travelled throughout New Zealand looking at sheep. While the rams in the north were ”very nice” and very refined, they were not what he wanted in a commercial sheep. . .

Speech to Fonterra UHT plant opening in Waitoa – Nathan Guy:

It’s great to be here today at the official opening of Fonterra’s new UHT milk processing plant.

This is a $126 million project which has been completed in just 12 months, and has created 100 new local jobs.

It’s a real vote of confidence in New Zealand’s dairy industry, which continues to be a major contributor to our economy. Dairy is our biggest single export earner.

Our farmers produce a quality product that ends up in over 100 countries around the world. The primary sector is the backbone of our economy that generates around $4 million an hour. This helps the Government get back into surplus and invest in things like schools, hospitals and roads.

As a Government we have an ambitious goal of doubling the value of our primary sector exports to $64b by 2025. . .

 

 

Building sheepmeat demand globally:

The Sheepmeat Council of Australia (supported by Meat & Livestock Australia), Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Organismo de la Unidad Nacional de Ovinocultores (‘the National Mexican Sheep Producers Organisation’) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on sheepmeat cooperation.

The MoU recognises that the sheepmeat industries of Australia, New Zealand and Mexico share the goal of building sheepmeat demand globally. There are also a number of other common objectives including animal health and welfare, food safety, environmental sustainability, and industry profitability.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Director Andy Fox said there are considerable advantages to be gained by working together to further these objectives.

“The Australian and New Zealand sheepmeat industries are seeking to build relationships with producer organisations from around the world. The reality is sheepmeat faces strong competition in the marketplace from other protein sources. It is important the sheepmeat industry works together to promote our premium product,” Mr Fox said. . .

New Agri One chief executive appointed:

Lincoln University and Massey University are pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Williamson as chief executive officer of their joint venture, Agri One.

Mr Williamson was formerly domestic marketing manager at Solid Energy and has extensive management and marketing experience.

Agri One was set up in 2011 with a focus on the two institutions working together to create new market opportunities. It promotes research-led education to assist farming and agri-food industries and facilitates professional development courses, joint research proposals, and seminars and symposia in the area.

It also undertakes a brokering role to introduce agri-food businesses to academics at Lincoln University and Massey University. . . .

 

 


Move to country to become a have

13/08/2014

A reversal of  rural-urban migration could help more have-nots become haves,  Massey University professor of pasture science Peter Kemp, says.

Clinical psychologist Nigel Latta painted a gloomy picture in his recent television programme “The Haves and Have Nots” that highlighted the thousands of unemployed university graduates in New Zealand.

It provided a stark contrast to the agriculture sector crying out for qualified workers to meet the growing demand over the next 10 years.

I suggest too many urban people are looking in the wrong place for a career with a good salary and the opportunity for wealth creation. If people are looking for a lifestyle that incorporates running your own business and being able to afford hobbies ranging from horses to helicopters, they should target a career in agriculture, food and agribusiness. In other words, join the agrifood industry that drives New Zealand’s economy. . .

It would help if more people studied the subjects which are in demand in land-based careers, but smart people trained in one discipline can usually learn fast in another, and the agrifood sector is far broader than farming.

Agrifood doesn’t just underpin our economy with food exports, it supports jobs in almost everything – banking, software development, mechatronics, food technology, veterinary science, environmental management, manufacturing and marketing to list a few. Whether you want to be a farmer, bank manager or entrepreneur, you will find success in the agrifood industry.

Let’s look at some facts and figures. The Government’s latest “People Powered” primary industries future capability report projects there will be 50,000 new jobs in agriculture by 2025. Many of these will be service workers with qualifications such as researchers, rural business consultants, food safety specialists, irrigation specialists and sales professionals. The report also shows the need for 15,000 qualified workers in horticulture by 2025. Horticulture is a multi-billion dollar industry yet there is a chronic shortage of managers and consultants with horticulture degrees.

Not all these jobs start with high salaries but they all come with the potential to get ahead.

New Zealand is well placed to provide the eduction to support the need for more qualified workers in primary industries. We have Massey University, ranked 19th in the latest QS rankings, which offers programmes across the whole spectrum of agrifood and agribusiness, as well as Lincoln University, which focuses on production agriculture and Waikato University that offers agribusiness.

There are many entry points into jobs in agrifood and there is training and education at all levels. Secondary Schools such as St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton are setting up an elite academy for students heading into agribusiness. Taratahi College near Masterton will teach you how to manage and work on a farm, while the Primary Industry Training Organisation supports on-the-job training across the country.

Some schools still think agriculture is a subject for the less able and deter brighter students from studying it.

I do not have the solution to all the economic ills that worry Nigel Latta but if you are a person who wants to get ahead in life then I believe you should consider a job in the agrifood industry. Who knows, you might end up with a multi-million dollar business.

Paddocks aren’t paved with gold but there’s opportunities in the agrifood sector to earn good incomes.

The demand for good workers is high and there are plenty of opportunities for becoming your own boss.


Rural round-up

08/07/2014

National Ballance Farm Environment Award Winners Ready to Spread the Word:

 

Mark and Devon Slee celebrating their success with their family

 

Winning the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards gives Canterbury dairy farmers Mark and Devon Slee the opportunity to tell some ‘good news’ stories about their industry and New Zealand agriculture in general.

The Slees were presented with the Gordon Stephenson trophy at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The couple was surprised and delighted to receive the award, accepting it on behalf of the entire dairy industry.

Mark Slee says he and Devon are proud to be dairy farmers. . .

 Soil mapping technology a big step forward  – Tim Cronshaw:

Four South Canterbury cropping farmers were so smitten with the precision of a soil sampling machine that they brought it back with them from the United States.

The Veris MSP3 3150 was imported by Colin Hurst and Hugh Wigley, who farm at Makikihi, in Waimate, and Michael Tayler and Nick Ward, from Winchester.

Commonly used in the big corn belts of the US since 2003, the technology is new to New Zealand, with only one other machine here.

The $70,000 machine is towed behind a tractor, and uses electrical conductivity to map paddocks for soil texture, and infrared measurement to detect organic matter, while constantly sampling soils for their Ph levels. . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

New Hort Graduate School launched:

Massey University and Plant & Food Research have formed a new joint graduate school to increase collaboration between the two institutes.

About a dozen Massey masters and doctoral students are studying topics that would in future be offered at the school.

This number is expected to increase with the availability of new research projects and supervisors from Plant & Food Research. . .

Spinal injury doesn’t stop Dave – Tim Cronshaw:

Dave Clouston knew his life would change the moment his pelvis jackknifed to his chest.

The fit farmer, hardened from years of mustering, was at his working peak and had earlier run through the forest to grab a tractor before his next job of stacking hay in a barn.

Clouston had worked his way up as a sheep and beef farmer on some of the best mustering blocks in Canterbury, and the young married man was managing a family business at Whitecliffs.

“I was stacking some hay we had brought in, and there was some loose hay on the floor of the barn. I jumped off the tractor to clear that away, and while I was bending over to do that the hay unsettled enough to come down on top of me – I never dreamed it would do that – from five high. They were big, square bales, and at least a couple hit me, and I was left pinned under one of them with my pelvis under my chest.” . .

 Shades of grey: ag’s power play – Sam Trethewey :

THE discovery of some snowy strands in my dark brown ‘do this week brought me both pleasure and pain – the ‘pain’ of ageing of course stings, but the pleasure was based on the realisation that the older I grow, the more I’ll be taken seriously in Australian agribusiness.

Most Australian business, including agribusiness, uses age-old management styles. It’s a vertical, top heavy system that that needs ‘workers’ not ‘contributors’. The sector has limited time for innovation and is resistant to change. We live in a fast-paced, globalised world and this structure is failing us.

These old school management styles put a lot of power at the top of the hierarchy and from there it’s a top down management approach (autocratic). . .


Rural round-up

10/06/2014

More qualifications needed in future:

A new report released by the Ministry for Primary Industries indicates a lot more people in the sector are going to have to have a tertiary qualification if they hope to take advantage of a predicted 15 percent increase in jobs by 2025.

MPI manager of science and skills policy Naomi Parker said even roles that traditionally did not require post secondary school qualifications would do so in future because of the increasing reliance on technology. . . .

Eradicating TB from Rangitoto enhances biodiversity:

TBfree New Zealand is working with environmental groups to stamp out pests in the Rangitoto Range to control bovine tuberculosis (TB) and bring the birds back.

The Hauhungaroa and Rangitoto ranges make up a part of New Zealand’s 10 million hectare TB risk area in which TB-infected wild animals have been found.

The objective of the national pest management plan is to eradicate the disease from at least 2.5 million hectares of the country’s total TB risk area by 2026. TBfree New Zealand aims to eradicate the disease from the Rangitoto Range as part of this plan. . . .

Water and governance under scrutiny at Massey:

Framing new ways for organisations to collaborate over controversial decisions, such as water use, is the focus of a Massey University symposium involving some of New Zealand’s key leaders in governance.

The July 8 symposium, Redefining Governance for the new New Zealand, brings together a diverse range of experts and thought leaders with experience in governance.

Speakers and panellists include Alastair Bisley (chair of the Land and Water
orum), Suzanne Snivelly (economic strategist), David Shand (public sector reformer and a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance), Grant Taylor (Auckland Council’s governance director), and Dave Hansford (award-winning photographer and environmental journalist). . . .

Fonterra Appoints MD Global Operations:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the appointment of Robert Spurway to the role of Managing Director Global Operations, a newly-created position on Fonterra’s management team.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Mr Spurway was uniquely qualified for the position.

“Robert is currently Acting Director New Zealand Operations in NZ Milk Products, responsible for overseeing milk collection, manufacturing and logistics for the Co-operative’s New Zealand milk supply.

“One of our top business priorities is to optimise our global ingredients sales and operations footprint, so we can better manage price volatility and increase value, while ensuring a total focus on food safety and quality, and our customers’ needs. . .

 

 Technology to top farmers’ shopping list:

Agricultural Fieldays 2014 will be a measure of how the agribusiness sector is gearing up to capitalise on growing export opportunities, according to New Zealand’s largest agricultural lender, ANZ New Zealand.

“With an economic recovery in full swing and growing export demand for New Zealand agricultural products, the scene is set for farmers to again invest in the technology that will drive productivity,” said Graham Turley, ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri.

“Agri-business is New Zealand’s most productive and successful business sector and it achieves this through ongoing investment in market leading technology. Agri businesses are only as successful as they are because they constantly innovate. . .

 

Hottest new dairy technology designed in New Zealand:

Technology designed to bring the power of intelligent communication and unprecedented future proofing to dairy farmers’ milking systems will be highlighted at National Fieldays.

The product in the spotlight at this year’s show (11-14 June) on the Waikato Milking Systems stand is a newly designed product known as the Bail Marshal.

The New Zealand owned company’s Chief Executive Dean Bell says the innovative product has been designed to enable all technology devices on a milking system to work together seamlessly and continually communicate with each other. . . .

Sharp Blacks Get Ready for the Tri-Nations:

 

Pure South Sharp Blacks

Our national butchery team diced up their final practice yesterday proving they have got what it takes to defend their title against Australia and England next month.
This year our team of six top butchers, the Pure South Sharp Blacks, travel to Yorkshire, England to compete in the Tri-Nations Butchers’ Challenge.

After many months of refining their skill, the Pure South Sharp Blacks performance at their last practice, held at Wilson Hellaby in Auckland, has confirmed just how promising our national team is. . .

Ambitious Butchers Make the Cut:

The Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year is well underway with the Lower North Island Regional held yesterday in Palmerston North.

The Alto Young Butcher winner Alex Harper of The Village Butcher in Frimley, Hastings and Competenz Butcher Apprentice winner Amy Jones of New World Taumarunui have successfully secured their place to challenge some of the finest butchery talent in the country at the Grand Final in September.

Alex and Amy’s motivations are high with a study tour around Europe up for grabs if they are successful in the next stage of the competition. . . .

A taste of New Zealand in Dubai, Taiwan and Singapore:

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has been giving the world a taste of New Zealand.

In Dubai, New Zealand was centre stage for the 2014 Taste New Zealand chef competition. Targeted at professional chefs, the competition aims to raise awareness of the diversity and quality of New Zealand food and drink products available in the United Arab Emirates amongst chefs, buyers, and food service and retail industry leaders. Last year, the competition helped NZTE customers secure $4 million in new deals. . . .


Rural round-up

07/05/2014

Farmers ‘need to meet minimum standards’:

Farm employment issues will be high on the agenda at Dairy New Zealand’s farmers forum in Waikato on Wednesday and Thursday.

Dairy NZ is responding to farmers’ requests to provide some practical guidance following a recent survey by labour inspectors found most of the farms checked were breaking employment rules. Most of the breaches related to record-keeping.

The organisation, along with Federated Farmers, is seeking changes to the minimum wage order so farmers can average out their employee’s pay over a fortnight rather than a week. . .

Rural lending growth may slow after dairy-fuelled expansion – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s rural lending, which more than doubled to an all-time high of $50.6 billion in the past decade on dairy farm expansion, may slow as farmers use record milk payouts to reduce debt, spurred on by rising interest rates.

In the past 10 years to June 30, 2013, agricultural debt has risen mostly due to the dairy sector where lending has almost tripled to $32.4 billion. The surge in lending to the dairy industry far exceeds the $1.4 billion debt owed by sheep farmers and $1.2 billion accrued by beef cattle farmers, according to Reserve Bank figures.

Dairy sector lending has soared as farmers have invested in converting land to dairy farming to take advantage of high milk prices and the associated strong growth in farm land prices, the central bank said in its last Financial Stability report in November. Indebted dairy farmers will be weighing up using high dairy payouts to pay down debt or increase farm investment in anticipation of a positive outlook, it said. Since then, the bank has begun to raise interest rates, hiking the benchmark twice in as many months, and milk prices have weakened in response to increased production. . .

Passionate about the Perendale – Sally Rae:

Ask Duncan Smith why he has stuck with the Perendale breed and the answer is succinct.

”They are just so tough and they just don’t die,” Mr Smith, who farms Islay Downs, on the Pigroot, said.

Mr Smith and his wife Claire are among the four entrants in the Sir Geoffrey Peren Cup competition, judged on farm last month and held in conjunction with Perendale New Zealand’s national conference in Otago this week.

The winner will be announced during the conference. It was Mr Smith’s late father, Ross, who took up the Perendale breed in the late 1970s. He was a ”very staunch Perendale man”. . .

Breed event in Otago – Sally Rae:

More than 60 registrations from throughout New Zealand have been received for Perendale New Zealand’s national conference in Otago this week.

Planning for the annual event, which alternates between the North and South islands, began nearly a year ago. The conference begins on Thursday with registrations and a dinner.

On Friday, there is a bus tour to South Otago, visiting the Mitchell family’s Hillcrest stud at Clinton, and the Gardner family’s stud near Balclutha. There will also be a visit to AgResearch’s Invermay research centre, and to the Elders woolstore to view a wool competition. . . .

 

NAIT helping graziers keep up to date:

Farmers grazing stock this season can keep track of their animals by ensuring their NAIT records are up to date.

“It’s important to record all off-farm movements of stock to grazing blocks and confirm with NAIT when the animals arrive back on your property,” said Dr Stu Hutchings, OSPRI New Zealand Group Manager, Programme Design and Farm Operations.

“NAIT tags provide a unique identification number for each animal, which can help farmers verify that the same animals they sent for grazing are the ones they are getting back.” . .  .

Small-scale pest control still helps:

A study of rat poisoning in small forest blocks has shown that pest control on a small-scale can still provide a huge boost to native bird populations.

The six year study was carried out by Massey University researchers who analysed the effects of rat control in 19 blocks near Bennydale in the King Country.

It showed that small-scale control increased the number of North Island robins by 50 percent on average each year and also helped other species favoured by rats . . .

Federated Farmers initiative makes employing easy:

Federated Farmers has developed a New Employers Pack to help first time employers meet their employment obligations and develop better working relationships on farm.

“We want all employers to be able to put their best foot forward and this pack allows them to do that,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Employment Spokesperson.

“The New Employers Pack is in response to an overwhelming demand for it from our members. In a member survey 97 percent wanted an employment pack produced. So Federated Farmers has created one, which helps farmers get it right from the very start, and that ticks all the boxes.

“As a farmer myself, I know farmers would prefer to know they are doing it right and understand what is required of them. This pack is designed for all farm types so I know all farmers will jump at this innovative employment pack. . . .

Rural Equities lifts stake in Tandou to 21% after rights issue:

Rural Equities, the farming group controlled by the Cushing family, has lifted its stake in Tandou after taking up its entitlement in the ASX-listed agribusiness’s three-for-eight rights offer.

Entities associated with Rural Equities now hold 21 percent, up from the 17.7 percent owned in August. Tandou’s offer at 47 Australian cents a share closed on April 28. Shareholders subscribed for about A$13.5 million of the A$25.2 million sought. Underwriter Petra Capital made up the shortfall of about A$11.7 million, placing the stock with institutions and professional investors.

Tandou shares last traded at 46.5 Australian cents on the ASX and have gained about 12 percent in the past year. They are rated a ‘strong buy’ based on two analysts polled by Reuters. . . .

Zabeel Mares Highlight NZB Broodmare Sale:

A prime opportunity for new players to enter the breeding game and for existing breeders to expand their portfolio is presented by New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Broodmare Sale, next week (13 May) at Karaka.

There are 209 broodmares catalogued for sale by leading damsires from New Zealand, Australia and further afield, in foal to proven and exciting young sires.

One of the highlights of the Sale will be the 12 broodmare entries by legendary sire Zabeel. The recently retired Cambridge Stud stallion is the damsire of 24 individual Group 1 winners including Dundeel (High Chaparral), Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock),Silent Achiever (O’Reilly), Go Indy Go(Bernardini) and O’Marilyn (O’Reilly) this season. . . .


Alastair Scott Nat candidate for Wairarapa

26/04/2014

Alastair Scott has been selected by the National Party to contest the seat of Wairarapa.

Alastair Scott, 48, is owner and director of Wairarapa’s Matahiwi Estate winery. He is also Chairman of Henergy Cage Free Eggs, a director of Transpower, Councillor of Massey University, and Trustee of the Wairarapa Region Irrigation Trust and NZ Scout Youth Foundation.

His successful business career sits alongside a strong track record of community involvement as a founding Trustee of  ‘Kiwi Can’ Charitable Trust Wellington, Deputy Chair of the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce, and a Member of the Wairarapa Development Group.

Mr Scott is a father of three. He lives between residences in Masterton and Wellington with partner RobynNoble-Campbell and their blended family.

A successful business career and a strong track record of community involvement are far better credentials for an aspiring MP than most candidates standing for parties, and many sitting MPs,  on the left.


%d bloggers like this: