Rural round-up

29/12/2017

Thank you to the farmers who do a bloody hard job’ – ‘Latte-sipping’ Aucklander pens letter in support of farmers – Anna White:

An open letter written by a “latte-sipping” Aucklander has struck a chord with farmers.

Matt Shirtcliffe was compelled to show his support for the farming community after hearing the news six young farmers had lost their lives recently. . .

Farmers need compensation for stock losses caused by Mycoplasma bovis – MP – Andrew Marshall:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says farmers will need to be compensated for any stock losses accrued as a result of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

He said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor would need to provide “appropriate” compensation for cows culled to contain the disease.

Walker was in Winton visiting concerned farmers after three farms in the area were confirmed to have been infected, and said “cows are the income for farmers.” . . 

Unwelcome pests need firm response:

Just before Christmas, biosecurity investigators discovered an outbreak of a plant pest called Chilean needle grass on a North Canterbury farm. Steps were immediately taken to destroy the infestation which, if left unchecked, could reduce crop yields and cause animal welfare problems.

Its barbed seeds can work their way through animal hides into flesh and bone, leaving young animals in particular weak and vulnerable.

The discovery was the 17th known infestation of the plant invader and an unwelcome reminder that New Zealand’s primary-based economy is particularly vulnerable to pest incursions. . .

Santa fails to deliver drought-braking rain to lower North Island – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers on the west coast of the North Island have missed out on the Christmas present they most wanted – sufficient rain to break the drought gripping their regions.

In Taranaki alone there are up to 800 farms along the coast which have been harshly affected, the chairman of the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, Mike Green says.

A Ministry of Primary Industries spokeswoman said the medium-scale adverse event for the lower North Island declared by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week remained in force, despite the sprinkling of rain in the last few days. . .

These golden bananas could save the lives of many children in Uganda – Jonathan O’Callaghan:

Scientists have developed a new type of banana that could help the many children in Uganda who have a pro-vitamin A deficiency.

The so-called “golden bananas”, named for their appearance, were developed by a team from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, led by Professor James Dale. The findings have been published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

It’s hoped that by 2021, Ugandan farmers will be growing bananas rich in pro-vitamin A. About $10 million was supplied by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the research. . .

Select Harvest’s high hopes as new markets go nuts for almonds – Andrew Marshall:

The market prospects look, literally, very healthy but Australia’s biggest almond business has become more than a little gun-shy about over-anticipating its fortunes in the year ahead.

The nut harvest on about 4900 hectares of orchards in Victoria, South Australia and NSW is less than two months away, but after shock yield setbacks caused by unusually rainy, mild weather last summer and spring, nut grower, processor and marketer, Select Harvests, is not making rash promises. . . 

 


Appreciating the appreciation

24/12/2017

Aucklander Matt Shirtcliffe wrote a Facebook post expressing his appreciation of farmers:

Dear Farmers
I’m sitting here in my city office sipping my first of several lattes, and thinking of you.
This should be a time of peace and joy throughout the land. But for many on the land right now, this is a time of deep pain and sorrow. Six of your own have died from suicide over the last month alone. And they were all young, with a life full of promise.
That is heartbreaking news, and although I’m just another latte-sipping Aucklander, actually I give a damn. One life lost, is one too many. Six is an epidemic that’s hard to comprehend. It’s not just those precious lives that have ended. It’s the impact on the families, farm workers, and rural communities left behind to try and deal with what’s happened and pick up the pieces as best they can.
So what’s going on?
I heard a Masters student on the radio yesterday who’s been talking to many farmers. She said that amongst the triggers leading to farmer suicide, one factor was the feeling of being continually picked on by the media.
She’s right. You farmers get it in the neck for shitting in our rivers, using up our water, treating your stock badly, warming our planet with emissions, and so on.
Of course, we never stop and thank you for the milk for our lattes, the cream for our strawberries, the steak for our summer barbecues. These things all come from the supermarket, right? That’s about as much as we want to know.
We never choose to see or believe the care you have for your land, or the work that goes into providing exactly what we need.
So I want to say thank you to the farmers like you who do a bloody hard job, bloody well. No matter how tough it gets out there, please remember that even if you start to feel worthless, your life is a very precious thing. It’s worth a shit-tonne more than your farm will ever be.
So this Christmas, give yourself a break. And please, share the word dear farmers, that you’re not hated. You’re loved. Take care.
Merry Christmas.

Thanks Matt, we appreciate your appreciation.

 


Rural round-up

03/11/2015

Advertising executive’s shock speech tackles farmer depression – Rachel Thomas:

The final speech of the day was supposed to be a light-hearted talk about city boys working in the country.

Instead, advertising executive Matt Shirtcliffe stood up in front of a conference of roughly 120 farming and business folk and told them his wife was dead. 

“Depression took her life.” . . 

The presentation is here.

Kathryn Ryan interviewed Matt Shirtcliffe here.

India farmers’ ‘seeds of suicide’: 200-year old story behind a modern tragedy – Aneela Mirchandani :

In 1998, a farmer in Warangal, India killed himself after a failed crop by drinking pesticide. His body was found hours later lying amidst his one-acre crop, which was overrun by worms. This suicide was one of many that were reported on at the time; the incidence was particularly high among cotton farmers. It set off much hand-wringing in the press: how was India failing its farmers?

The stated cause of this farmer’s suicide was debt, and many anti-GMO activists have linked a spate of similar tragedies to the introduction of GMO cotton — although the genetically engineered crop was not introduced into India until 2002. But if one looks deeper, one can see the real cause: modern crops and a modern economy abutted against a rural population that had changed little since the nineteenth century. . . 

“We farm!”  Wait…  What?  (Our cows explained) – Uptown Girl:

“What do you do?”  Sometimes I identify myself with a lengthy description of my career in Ag finance, but often I just leave it at, “We farm!”
 
I also find myself using “We farm” as an explanation as to why I am alone so often at gatherings.  But the more people I talk to, the more I realize that not everyone knows what I mean when I say, “We farm”.  So I am going to explain exactly what “farming” means to my family.
 
Our farm consists of our cows, our sheep, and our row crops.  I will cover each of these over the next few posts, but will start with our cows.
 
One of my favorite parts of our farm is our cattle herd.  We have what is commonly called a “Cow/Calf operation” – meaning we maintain a group of cows who will raise a baby calf each year, and then sell the baby at weaning time.  . . 

New regulations to protect oceans:

New Government regulations to manage the waste and pollution within New Zealand’s vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) come into effect today, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says. 

“These new regulations cover discharges of pollutants and waste from offshore installations like oil rigs and ships in the six million square kilometres of ocean in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf. They provide clear rules that protect the ocean environment and are the final stage of implementing the Government’s new environmental law covering the ocean,” Dr Smith says.  . . 

Glerups extends wool contract with NZ Merino through 2017 – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Glerups, the Danish woollen slipper maker, has extended its contract with New Zealand woolgrowers to meet increased demand for its product.

The company inked a 2017 contract through the New Zealand Merino Company for 120 tonnes of wool for about $1.5 million, during a visit to New Zealand this week, and expects to return next year to secure a 2018 contract, said Glerups supply chain manager Jesper Glerup Kristensen, the son of the company founder Nanny Glerup. It also extended its 2016 contract by 20 tonnes to 100 tonnes, up from 80 tonnes this year. . . 

Red Meat Sector welcomes decision to negotiate an EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) are delighted that the European Union and New Zealand are set to progress negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, as announced by Prime Minister John Key in Brussels.

The European Union (EU) is a very significant export market for New Zealand red meat products, worth nearly NZ$1.9 billion for the year ended December 2014. The EU is New Zealand’s largest market by region for sheepmeat exports, and second-largest for chilled beef and wool exports. . . 

Appointment of Independent Director to Fonterra Board:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the appointment of a new Independent Director Clinton Dines who will take up the Board position made vacant when Sir Ralph Norris steps down at the Annual Meeting on 25 November.

Chairman John Wilson said world-class governance is one of the Board’s top priorities, and the Co-operative needed directors with a broad range of talent and depth of business experience.

“The Board welcomes Mr Dines, an Australian, who has outstanding business and governance credentials. . . .

Fonterra Welcomes Progress towards NZ EU FTA:

Fonterra has welcomed today’s announcement in Brussels that Prime Minister John Key will begin discussions on a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.

“This is an important first step towards a comprehensive and high-quality free trade agreement with the EU. We have free trade agreements with almost all of our other major trading partners, so this really is the missing piece,” said Miles Hurrell, Group Director of Co-operative Affairs. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes prospect of free trade with the EU:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement of a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the EU.

Improved access into the EU would be hugely beneficial to industry growth, commented Philip Gregan, New Zealand Winegrowers CEO. ‘An FTA with the EU would be a great outcome for New Zealand’s wine industry. The EU, as a whole, represents our single largest market, with exports totalling over $460 million and representing in excess of 30% of total wine exports. . . 

 


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