Rural round-up

29/12/2020

How to avoid harm on the farm – Rowena Duncum:

I’ve always loved rural New Zealand.

Growing up beside a farm, I’d spend hours hanging over the back fence talking to the animals or across the road in the other direction, feeding grass and carrots to the rescued horses in the SPCA paddock.

Some of my happiest memories of childhood holidays are visiting family on their farms around the country. It’s a rite of passage growing up in Aotearoa. As I reached adulthood and became a farmer myself, I loved being on the other side of the fence – hosting friends and family as they came to visit, bringing their own budding farmers to see the animals or milking. . . 

Alliance Group to repay wage subsidy in full :

Invercargill-based Alliance Group has chosen to return the balance of the Covid-19 wage subsidy to the Government.The farmer-owned meat processor had already repaid $21 million of the $34m wage subsidy and will return the balance, it said.

“From the outset, Alliance has been clear we would only use the wage subsidy in the way it was intended by government and our previous repayments reflect this commitment,” chairman Murray Taggart said in a statement.

“Following the filing of our company accounts last month, the Alliance board believes the co-operative is in a position to repay the remaining balance,” he said. . .

A2 Milk hopes to expand production at Southland plant :

A2 Milk is a step closer to taking a controlling stake in Mataura Valley Milk, but says it will be at least a couple of years before it starts making profits.

ATM disclosed its intentions in August and has now entered binding agreements to buy a 75 percent stake in the Southland based infant formula maker.

The move is part of ATM’s plans to diversify its production and broaden its range of products.

“MVM provides a unique opportunity to acquire a new world class nutritional products manufacturing capability in New Zealand, alongside a highly respected China state owned enterprise in China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG),” A2 Milk chief executive Geoff Babidge said. . .

M. bovis eradication going to plan but still work to do:

Significant progress has been made in driving down the numbers of farms affected by Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).


We’re on track to achieve eradication, but there’s still a lot of hard work ahead of us. We expect to find more infected herds as we actively look for those final pockets of infection, so we all need to remain vigilant.

As Programme partners, MPI, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand are working together to support affected farmers through this eradication programme. . .

Detector dogs could sniff out AFB and save beekeepers millions of dollars:

Training dogs to sniff out the highly infectious bacterial disease American Foulbrood (AFB) in beehives could save New Zealand’s beekeeping industry several million dollars a year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is contributing $50,000 through Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) towards the one-year, $95,000 project.

The project aims to develop a scientific methodology for training detection dogs to reliably detect AFB, by creating a ‘scent picture’ of the disease. . . 

Blurred lines between animal welfare and animal ethics – Shan Goodwin:

ONE of the key elements of animal welfare science commonly misunderstood is that it is the animal’s perception of its conditions that counts, not those of humans.

So says one of the country’s leading experts in the field, Warrnambool veterinarian and senior lecturer in cattle medicine at Melbourne University Dr David Beggs.

The differences between animal welfare and animal ethics – and where the biggest challenges to livestock production may lay with the latter – was explored by Dr Beggs in a recent episode of the RawAg podcast produced by southern seedstock operation Te Mania Angus. . .


Rural round-up

25/08/2020

Group to prioritise staff shortages – Yvonne O’Hara:

Addressing the shortage of primary sector staff in Southland will be one of the key roles for the new Southern Primary Sector Workforce Action Group (SPSWAG) co-ordinator.

The job will include matching jobseekers with employers in addition to establishing a regionally focused database of jobs and implementing a pastoral support programme.

Federated Farmers’ Southland provincial vice-president Bernadette Hunt said the group, which was launched in June last year, had received several “very good quality applications” for the one-year-contract position and they were now deciding on a shortlist of applicants to interview. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: Sir David Fagan on how the pandemic is affecting Kiwi shearers – Matthew Mckew:

Covid-19 restrictions mean there’s no shortage of shearers at the moment, but Sir David Fagan sees trouble ahead for the industry.

The reason there were plenty of Kiwi shearers about right now was that they can’t travel anywhere, the world champion told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We’re not getting New Zealanders going back to Australia for the season. So they’re here now shearing. I guess the winter time shearing’s pretty good for the workforce.” . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year takes the reins on Fairlie farm :

Even though Nicola Blowey’s parents sold their dairy farm in Devon just before she was born, farming has remained in her veins. After studying agriculture in the UK she came to South Canterbury to work on a dairy farm.

It was meant to be for 12 months but four years on she’s still here and rising up the industry ranks. Last year the 26-year-old won the Dairy Trainee of the Year title in the NZ Dairy Industry Awards. She then took up a farm manager position on one of Kieran and Leonie Guiney’s dairy farms near Fairlie.

Nicola now has three staff and a large herd of KiwiCross cows to look after. She’s loving the increased responsibility. . . 

 Velvet trumps venison – Sally Rae:

It is a tale of two halves in the deer industry as venison schedule prices drop to their lowest level in more than a decade while consumer demand for velvet remains robust.

ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said venison markets were “extremely challenging”; venison was highly exposed to the European restaurant trade and the industry was scrambling to move more products into the retail space to reduce reliance on the food service sector.

Farmgate prices for deer might have “ticked up a tad” recently but prices had not been at such low levels for more than a decade.

“It is a real blow for an industry that was doing so well and had appeared to have moved away from the volatile cycles of boom and bust that have long plagued the industry,” the report said. . . 

Why Synlait has nothing to fear from a2 Milk’s foray into infant formula – Jamie Gray:

A2 Milk will soon try its hand at infant formula making if it is successful in buying the debt-laden Mataura Valley Milk, but its supplier – Synlait Milk – has nothing to fear.

The dual-listed a2 Milk is in talks to buy three-quarters of the China-owned Mataura Valley Milk in Southland for $270 million.

A2 Milk has made a non-binding indicative offer to acquire a 75.1 per cent interest in Mataura Valley, based on an enterprise value of about $385m. . . 

Vegans urged to switch to cow milk instead of soya to save the planet – Rob Waugh:

Vegans should avoid soya milk if they want to save the planet, and even consider drinking cows’ milk instead, a sustainability charity has said.

The Sustainable Food Trust said that soya beans are associated with rainforest destruction, and that soya meal is also used in animal food, but that the amounts required to create soya milk meant that cow’s milk is healthier for the planet.

Researchers from the Sustainable Food Trust and the University of Nottingham calculated the amounts of soya used in both soya milk and cows’ milk in a new review of evidence.

The charity wrote: “Vegans and others who buy milk substitutes made from soya are also harming the planet. . .


Rural round-up

31/07/2020

Lessees can be forced to cull tahr – Neal Wallace:

High-Country pastoral lessees could be drawn into the contentious tahr cull issue with plans for a population survey on Crown pastoral lease land later this year.

Federated Farmers high-country committee past chairman Simon Williamson believes lease terms will force some landowners to cull tahr.

The Conservation Department has begun a major cull in Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks but operations director Dr Ben Reddiex says it is not eradication.

“The vast majority of commercial hunting takes place on Crown pastoral lease and private land. . . 

Cotter passionate about supporting farmers in need – Janette Gellatly:

Passionate about the rural sector and people’s welfare, Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter says the best aspect of her role is being there for farmers.

‘‘Our role is to talk to farmers who are having some kind of stress and . . .to connect them with the right people to make a positive difference.’’

These could include various agencies, such as mental wellness providers, financial institutions and other rural stakeholders such as DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. ‘‘We are here to support all farmers [whether it be aquaculture or on the land] in Southland.’’ As part of its holistic approach, the trustees were also volunteers. Most have been through challenging times themselves, so could relate and understand when others were having difficulties, Mrs Cotter said.

It was about farmers helping farmers. . . 

Pilot kickstarts shearing training – Colin Williscroft:

Almost $2 million will be spent developing and delivering sustainable and integrated training for shearing and wool handling.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says $1.86m from the Provincial Growth Fund will be invested over two years to establish a pilot for the Shearing Training Model programme.

It will use micro-credentialing, earn-as-you-learn training to upskill 150 new and 120 existing shearers.

It will target school leavers, unemployed and underemployed people, career changers and those already in the industry who want to learn new skills. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk – the zombie dairy company – Brent Melville:

When it started production outside Gore in late 2018, Mataura Valley Milk was greeted with huge excitement by the Southland community, government ministers and dairy farmers alike.

The growth of infant nutritional product sales into China offered the prospect of an export bonanza.

While the growth of New Zealand-sourced dairy formula exports into China lived up to hype – growing by almost a third last year to 120,000 tonnes and generating $1.7 billion in export receipts – Mataura Valley itself was moving in the wrong direction.

It is, after all, a competitive market with well established distribution channels, dominated by Fonterra, Synlait, Danone and GMP Dairy; so growing pains were expected. . . 

Fieldays Online: 2020 Innovation Awards winners announced :

Forward-thinking Kiwis have been celebrated with the annual Fieldays Innovation Awards, with the winners announced today.

Innovation has been at the heart of Fieldays since its inception over 50 years ago, say organisers.

“It is the very reason Fieldays exists and why Fieldays Online was launched. Innovation is not easy, it requires courage and a willingness to take on risk, yet it is also fundamental to the overall sustainability of any business or industry. It is necessary if we wish to solve today’s problems and prepare the ground for solving tomorrow’s.” . . 

A farmer perspective in the boardroom – Stuart Wright:

Deputy chair of Ravensdown, Stuart Wright on why farmers should throw their hat in the ring and join board rooms.

OPINION: The phrase ‘gumboot directors’ came about in the 1970s when co-operatives like Ravensdown were created.

Originally intended as a jibe from the corporate business world, it became a badge of honour as farmer shareholders put their hand up to influence the businesses they own.

These days, New Zealand’s agri co-operatives are multi-million-dollar operations, with complex business models and risk profiles. And the governance of such organisations has never been more important. . . 


Rural round-up

21/07/2020

Coronavirus leads to uncertainty for slinkskin industry – Rachael Kelly:

Southland farmers may have to dispose of dead stock on their own farms this spring as the Covid-19 pandemic takes a toll on the slinkskin industry.

Usually dead stock is picked up by slinkskin companies, which process the skins for export, but Southland’s two processors were yet to decide whether they would collect dead lambs this spring.

And while company has implemented a charge for dead calf and cow collection, another has put their calf collection on hold.

Trevor Newton, of Newton Slinkskins at Mataura, said he had made the decision to put the calf collection on hold this season, and a decision on whether the company would collect dead lambs would be made ‘’in due course.’’ . . 

Mataura Valley Milk needs more money to stay afloat – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland milk company Mataura Valley Milk will require additional funding to stay afloat, after reporting a net loss of $47 million in the financial year ending December 2019.

The company, which earlier this year had been eyed up by a2 milk as a potential investment target, reported a projected funding deficit of $26 million by December 2020.

Financial statements were filed with Companies Office on July 14.

Shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group would provide financial support by helping to pay debts as well as offering possible cash injections and shareholder loans. The latter would not require principal or interest repayments if it would cause the company to default on debts. . . 

Rain in Bay helps but a long way to go – Peter Burke:

A Hawke’s Bay farm consultant is pleasantly surprised by what has happened in the region over the past few weeks, with rain falling in most places.

Lochie MacGillivray, who works for AgFirst and is also the chairperson of the Rural Advisory Group set up to help manage the drought recovery, says there has been an improvement in conditions. He says Hawkes Bay has had mild weather and soft rain, and the pasture response has been phenomenal.

“Typically, at this time of the year, farmers might think of having 9kg of dry matter growth, but right now they are getting between 12 and 14kg of dry matter,”

MacGillivray told Rural News. He says farmers will still have to conserve feed for their animals, but the good weather has enabled pastures to recover and shortened the time between now and the end of winter. . . 

Putting the fun back in farming – Andrew Hoggard:

 Federated Farmers’ new president Andrew Hoggard says farmers need more fun and less admin.

I have been involved with Federated Farmers leadership for 17 years now, starting out as the Young Farmers rep, then moving into the provincial Vice-Dairy role once I became an old fart at 31.

Now I have only three years left – or less if I really suck at my new job as national president.

Since taking on the role three weeks ago I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to what I would like to see achieved in my term

It’s certainly not lost on me the responsibilities that go with this privileged position within New Zealand’s agricultural scene. . . 

Keeping the lustre alive – Sally Round:

Despite the dire prices for wool, a couple in Kapiti are continuing a 130-year family tradition breeding sheep for their lustrous fleece.

Country Life producer Sally Round dropped in.

Ravenswood has a long history breeding the hardy English Leicester whose long curly wool has been likened to Bob Marley’s dreadlocks.

Its genetics contributed to the New Zealand Halfbred and Corriedale so it’s been a big player in the development of the country’s sheep industry.

Ravenswood is New Zealand’s oldest English Leicester stud, according to Fiona and John Robinson, who are continuing the family tradition and finding a niche market for their flock’s lustrous wool. . . 

Wandering steer Boris back after 13 years in the Canterbury wilderness :

A “crazy big” Angus steer who has wandered the mountainous Hurunui back country for nearly 13 years has returned home.

He turned up last week with a couple of Angus cows, and happily headed back to an easier life on the homestead paddocks of the 7000-hectare Island Hills Station, north-west of Culverden.

Station owner Dan Shand and his wife, Mandy, reckon the steer is at least 13 years old, and has been nicknamed Boris.

Boris still has the tag in his ear put there when he was weaned, but Dan says he will need his binoculars to read it, at least until the new arrival settles in with the bulls. . .


Rural round-up

09/09/2019

Accord improves water quality – Hugh Stringleman:

The country’s dairy farmers have made significant achievements in water quality over five years of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, DairyNZ says.

Over 98% of eligible waterways have been fenced to exclude cattle, a total of more than 24,000km of measured waterways.

Almost all, 99.8%, of 36,000 regular livestock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts.

Some 94% of the Accord’s 11,079 dairy farms, or 10,396 farms, had nutrient budgets in the 2017-18 season and just over half of farms with waterways have riparian management plans. . . 

MVM seeks investors as cashflow issues draw near– Brent Melville:

Infant formula producer Mataura Valley Milk (MVM) can pay its bills for about another month.

The Chinese-owned infant formula producer, which moved into production scarcely a year ago and recently began work on a $5million expansion to its McNab plant near Gore, needs an additional $12million in funding to cover expected production and operational costs for the next nine months.

At its current rate of expenditure, the company directors say it will exhaust its existing bank facilities during September.

In an assurance to company directors, creditors and staff, MVM’s financial statements for its first full reporting period to end December 2018, note that it has a letter of financial support from main shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG), valid for a period of 13 months from May 27, 2019. . . 

Seoul restaurant orders NZ goat– Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago goat meat will be on the menu at a new New Zealand-themed restaurant in Seoul, South Korea, next month, and more chevon suppliers are needed to meet expected future demand if franchise plans take off.

The yet to be named restaurant, is part of the Shilla Hotel business, and will be open at the end of October, with the launch to be televised.

In addition to New Zealand goat meat, it will offer beef and lamb as well as wine, initially from Shaky Bridge and Clyde Village vineyards.

New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd, which was recently launched by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra, has been contracted to supply the new restaurant with goat meat. . . 

Forest and Bird calls for Government funding to eradicate wallaby ‘plague’ – Giles Dexter:

It turns out possums aren’t the only Australian invaders posing a major threat to New Zealand’s ecosystem.

The wallaby population is reaching plague levels in some regions, and if nothing is done, the marsupials could cost the country $84 million a year in economic losses.

“In Australia, they’re native. There, it’s a completely different thing. They’re supposed to be there, they’re not supposed to be in New Zealand,” says Forest and Bird’s central North Island regional manager Dr Rebecca Stirnemann. . . 

New owners but training role remains

In a win-win for the Rangitikei farming community and farm-based training, Otiwhiti Station is staying in local hands.

The property was put on the market in June and there were fears its sale could lead to the closure of its training school, which has been operating since 2007.

But it is business as usual for the 1679ha station near Hunterville after a group of local farmers and business people got together and bought the property for an undisclosed price.

The group’s was one of four tenders received for the property. . . 

Northland school’s lambe creche a great learning opportunity – Susan Botting:

Maungatapere School families are getting lambs from as far away as South Auckland for this year’s Ag Day due to a national shortage.

Lambs are typically sourced locally but this year are coming from as far afield as South Auckland, more than 185km away.

Increased demand for lambs because of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, fewer lambs produced than in previous years and later-than-usual lambing are among reasons for the shortage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/07/2019

Snowstorm inspires stock-saver – Tim Fulton:

A shattering snowstorm changed David Brown’s life and inspired a life-saving product.

The founder of the Woolover started out as a sheep and cropping farmer at Clandeboye in South Canterbury, near the Fonterra milk factory. 

Running 3500 ewes he had lost his fair share of new-born lambs over a couple of decades, especially in three-day southerly storms. . . 

Iwi milk plant delivers value – Richard Rennie:

The skyline of the small Bay of Plenty town Kawerau has been dominated for the past 40 years by the big Tasman paper mill but now has another profile in the form of the new Waiu Dairy plant.

The joint iwi-Cedenco plant has been commissioned and its first commercial milk collection this week will be processed through the 900kg-an-hour drier.

Waiu chairman Richard Jones said the plant is the result of a bar-side conversation in 2012 with iwi business representatives when they were kicking around options for revitalising eastern Bay of Plenty. . . 

 

One Plan changes should bring relief to nearly 180 unconsented farmers – Jono Galuszka:

Nearly 180 farms in the wider Manawatū are operating without a consent and cannot get one without changes to contentious planning rules.

But even if the changes are made, the region’s economy is expected to lose tens of millions of dollars.

Horizons Regional Council is putting proposed changes to its One Plan out for consultation, with people having 60 days from July 22 to make a submission. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk expanding plant near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

Infant nutrition formula producer Mataura Valley Milk has begun work on a $5m expansion to its plant at McNab near Gore, less than a year since it began operations.

General manager Bernard May said the company had secured a 37 per cent increase in milk supply for the coming season and needed to expand the plant.

New silos would be constructed and a new tanker bay were included in the expansion, and there was the possibility of more jobs being created. . . 

Application to import wilding conifer herbicide :

Views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Your views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd has applied for approval to import the herbicide. . .

Agri-tech sector to pioneer govt industry transformation strategy Pattrick Smellie

(BusinessDesk) – Agricultural technology should be one of New Zealand’s leading sources of high-value jobs, exports and improved farming practice, but has failed to grow much in the last decade, prompting the government to make it the focus of the first of four new industry sector transformation plans.

In what was probably his last public act as Economic Development Minister before handing the portfolio to Phil Twyford after last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, Parker released both a general guide to the industry transformation plan concept and a draft ITP for the agri-tech sector this morning.

The other sectors targeted for such plans are food and beverages, digital technology, and forestry and wood processing.

Speeding breeding and other ways of feeding 10 billion people

Improvements to make crops more nutritious, disease resistant and climate smart are essential to feed a burgeoning world population.

While a host of fascinating innovations are primed to change the face of agriculture, there remains a stubborn limiting factor for plant breeding.

This is the long generation times of crops that allow only one or two generations per year. Unless this changes it is unlikely that we will be able to feed the 10 billion people who will be sharing the planet by 2050.

This roadblock to progress has been alleviated by speed breeding protocols developed by research teams at the John Innes Centre and the University of Queensland. . .


Rural round-up

26/11/2018

Does Russia belong in the West or the East? – Keith Woodford:

The issue of whether Russia belongs in the West or the East might seem a strange topic for a New Zealand agri-food systems person like me to be discussing. However, political and food systems, and the associated international trade, are joined at the hip. Politics and agricultural trade are always fellow travellers.

These last two weeks, while working in Russia, I have pondered as to where Russia belongs. From a cultural perspective, I have no doubt it is in the West. Yet from a geopolitical perspective it would seem that Russia’s future is more with China in the East. Here, I explore the dichotomy and the contradiction.

Milk flush is depressing prices – Hugh Stringleman:

Record milk collection in New Zealand over the October peak has continued to depress Global Dairy Trade prices, which, in turn, threaten a reduction in the farmgate milk price closer to $6/kg.

The GDT index fell 3.5% after the auction on November 21, the twelfth consecutive fall or sideways movement since mid-May.

World prices are now 20% below their 2018 peak and 12% lower than this time last year.

Plenty of cattle left – Neal Wallace:

Stirring international and domestic storms have conspired to undercut bull beef prices.

A combination of falling United States prices in the last two months, processors trying to maintain margins and farmers being careful with stock purchases because of Mycoplasma bovis have reduced demand and prices, AgriHQ market analyst Reece Brick says.

At a recent Feilding calf sale those bred on the vendor’s property were $30 to $40 ahead of calves that weren’t. . .

The green, green grass of Maniototo – Jono Edwards:

Green fields in the usually-barren Maniototo have some farmers casting their minds back to the 1970s.

Unusually high rainfall, including a recent heavy downpour, was welcome news for the industry after months of dry heat last year.

Gimmerburn farmer Duncan Helm said things were looking “bloody magnificent”

Mataura Valley’s multimillion-dollar milk plant opens – Margaret Phillips:

The official opening of the $240 million Mataura Valley Milk plant at McNab brought guests from all corners of the globe today.

 MVM general manager Bernard May said the plant was forecast to pour about $90 million annually, directly or indirectly, into the South’s economy. Its major shareholder is the China Animal Husbandry Group. . .

Will Argentina be the first country approving a GMO wheat? -Javier Preciado Patiño:

 “We mustn’t do what other countries have already done; we must do what no other country did” Self-confident and why not a little bit provoker, the CEO of Bioceres, Mr. Federico Trucco, challenged the audience in the formal presentacion of the HB4 Wheat, the transgenic wheat that added drought tolerance to glufosinate-ammonium herbicide tolerance.

The beginning of this development dates from middles ’90 when scientist Raquel Chan’s team identified a gene (HB4) that confers sunflower seed a better performance under drought condition. In 2003, Bioceres reached an agreement with Conicet (the governmental Science and Technology Comission) to develop this finding in a commercial way. In 2007, HB4 was transferred to other crops like soybean, maize and wheat, and now only one formal step is missing to release this technology to the Argentinean farmers.

Mr. Trucco explained the three step deregulation process for a GMO crop in Argentina. HB4 wheat has already been approved by the SENASA (Food Quality and Health Service) and the Conabia (Biotechnology Advisor Commission), because there is not risk to the human health, animal health and the environment, and the characteristics of this wheat are the same of conventional ones. . . 

New app helps farmers finish cattle to retailers’ specifications:

A new app can help farmers finish cattle to retailers’ specifications with greater precision, avoiding lower prices for the farmer and waste in the value chain.

Changing customer tastes mean that almost half of prime beef now fails to meet ideal market specifications.

The app will help farmers finish cattle to retailers’ specifications with greater precision, underpinned by the data to evidence this. . . 


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