Rural round-up

July 24, 2020

That’s Northland’: floods follow droughts and tests farmers’ resolve – Brad Flahive:

While most of the floodwater in Northland has receded after the weekend’s deluge, the silt it left behind is a frustrating reminder of how vulnerable farmers are to the extremes of mother nature.

After months of near-crippling drought, more than 200mm of rain fell during two storms last weekend, and now the silt-laden paddocks can’t be used for pasture at this crucial time of year.

“The cows just won’t eat it, they just walk around in the mud and make a big mess,” said farmer Nick Bishop from his dairy farm, 10 kilometres east of Dargaville. . . 

Farm interactive learning platform – Yvonne O’Hara:

Chris and Desiree Giles, of Waimumu Downs, use their property as a giant interactive learning platform for children from the 16 eastern Southland schools.

“We are in the process of putting a classroom down on the farm. Getting the kids involved is a means of bringing in their parents and getting their buy-in,” Mr Giles said.

The couple, who have two children — Danielle (9) and Andrew (7) — have a 306ha dairy property (206ha effective), which was converted in 2014.

The family bought the original property six years ago and since then had almost doubled the acreage. . . 

Lowest number of of non-compliance’s in Taranaki since 2015 – Mike Watson:

Covid-19 and Taranaki residents’ growing environmental awareness have resulted in a record number of environmental incidents reported to the Taranaki Regional Council, but also a record low for the number of actual non-compliances.

During the past 12 months, 529 cases were reported – the highest figure for five years, the council’s consents and regulatory meeting was told on Tuesday.

But the number of non-compliances during the same monitoring period was 185 – the lowest in five years.

This was partly because of more consent holders following the rules but also because of reduced monitoring during the lockdown. . .

Group to set beef’s priorities – Annette Scott:

Grant Bunting never thought he would become so passionate about sustainability but says the sustainability challenge cannot be ignored if New Zealand producers want to improve their standing on the world stage. He talked to Annette Scott.

Grant Bunting has long had a genuine interest in farming systems and practices but new and evolving industry challenges have somewhat changed his outlook.

The inaugural chairman of the recently formed New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef said the growing importance the world puts on sustainability credentials across the supply chain has changed many a view.

“I have to admit I am quite traditional in my views but these sustainability challenges can’t be ignored.  . . 

Events celebrate rural communities :

Agritech industry transformation plan leader David Downs is returning to his roots as part of Pride in our Land events being held throughout the Manawatu-Wanganui Region.

Whanganui-born Downs, a general manager at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise who is head of the Government taskforce behind the agritech plan, is guest speaker at events in Raetihi and Whanganui next Thursday and Friday, July 30 and 31.

They are part of a wider series of get-togethers that began at Mokotuku’s Black Dog Pub on July 9 and wind up at Makoura Lodge at Apiti on August 15.

Whanganui Federated Farmers president Mike Cranstone says it has been a rough start to the year for landowners dealing with the adverse weather conditions and supply chain disruptions of the past six months. . . 

Farming is a great way of life – let’s make it a safe one – Jacqui Cannon:

There’s no doubt that farming, one of Australia’s most important industries, is also one of its most dangerous.

Big open spaces, big animals, big machinery, big workload.

In the past 18 months, more than 200 Australians have died in farming accidents, tearing apart families and communities – one in six are kids under five years old.

This goes beyond tragic; it’s horrifying. But the most horrifying aspect is that it’s so readily accepted by many as “just a part of life on the land“. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 12, 2020

Farm owner rejects carbon bids to buy East Coast station – Tom Kitchin:

A Gisborne farmer is ecstatic that a large sheep and cattle station in Tolaga Bay – which has just changed hands for the first time in nearly half a century – will not be turned into forestry.

Earlier this week the Labour Party announced plans to introduce legislation limiting forestry conversions of the most productive land, if it wins re-election.

Annette Couper is saying goodbye to Mangaheia Station, a farm that’s been in her family since the 1970s.

She said selling up was tough, but none of her daughters were farmers. . .

Shortage of skilled operators – Yvonne O’Hara:

Invercargill agricultural contractor Daryl Thompson is more than “extremely worried” about finding enough skilled and experienced staff to operate his expensive equipment for the coming season.

“On a scale of one to 10, ranging from not worried to extremely worried, I am sitting at a 12.”

Mr Thompson, of DThompson Contracting, usually employs 50 to 60 people in Southland during the season, including trainees and retired farmers. . .

Tahr Foundation welcomes landmark High Court decision on DoC’s controversial extermination plan:

The Tahr Foundation is welcoming the High Court decision halting DOC’s controversial plan to kill thousands of tahr through the Southern Alps.

The Foundation asked the High Court for a judicial review of DOC’s plan to exterminate all Himalayan Tahr in national parks and sharply reduce tahr populations in other areas.

The application was heard in the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday and Justice Dobson has just released his decision this afternoon.

In the decision, Justice Dobson says that DOC is to reconsider its decision to proceed with the 2020-2021 plan after consulting with interests represented by the Foundation and other stakeholders. . . 

B+LNZ’s Economic Service celebrates 70th anniversary:

This month marks the 70th anniversary of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service, which was initially set up in 1950 to help a struggling post-war sheep sector.

The Service was established as a joint venture between the Meat Board and Wool Board after a 1947 Royal Commission study recommended establishing a Sheep Industry Board to collect and document factual information about farm production and economics.

This continues to be done today, as it was back in 1950, through the Economic Service’s Sheep and Beef Farm Survey.

As well as giving insight into the state and financial health of New Zealand’s agricultural industry, the information gathered through the Survey is used to inform local, regional and central government policy, underpin forecasts and trends in meat and wool production. It also enables farmers to benchmark their own businesses against others in their cohort. . . 

Property sales to finance wool :

Plans to sell and lease back its portfolio of properties are part of a range of ways Cavalier is financing its natural fibre strategy, chief executive Paul Alston says.

Alston said listing the firm’s three industrial sites in Auckland, Napier and Whanganui is about transforming the company into a high-end, premium flooring brand rather than strengthening the balance sheet.

“We are comfortable with current debt levels,” he said, referring to the sale and lease back plans and noted the firm can access more bank funding to cope with any covid-related impacts. . . 

£2m grant to help Scottish farmers create more woodland :

Over £2 million is being made available to Scottish landowners and farmers to help them play their part in creating more woodland.

The support is part of Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant, which will help farmers and foresters buy specialist woodland equipment.

This could range from poly tunnels, seed trays through to mounding equipment, work site welfare units and small scale sawmills for wood processing. . .


Rural round-up

January 17, 2020

Meat industry pans climate-change teaching resource that recommends cutting meat, dairy – Dubby Henry:

A recommendation that students eat less meat and dairy to take action on climate change has raised the ire of New Zealand’s meat industry.

The new resource – Climate Change: Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow – is from the Ministry of Education and is aimed at Level 4 teachers teaching children aged 7-10 about climate.

Suggestions for taking action include talking more about global warming, reducing electricity use and driving and flying less.

But it’s a short blurb that suggests reducing meat and dairy intake that has riled the meat industry’s lobby group, Beef + Lamb NZ. . . 

The problem with veganuary – Jacqueline Rowarth:

As people are encouraged to take part in “Veganuary” in the New Year, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates the problems with the idea of eating less meat to save the planet.

Veganuary – the northern hemisphere initiative involving becoming vegan for a month – will not solve climate change.

Becoming vegan forever will likewise do little, despite the calls to “give up meat to save the planet”. . . 

New Year’s Honour a family achievement for Nelson farmer and conservationist – TIm Newman:

Nelson farmer Barbara Stuart says her New Year’s Honour was a recognition for her whole family’s work for the environment.

The Cable Bay resident has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list, for services to conservation. 

Stuart said she was very privileged to receive the award, but it had been an effort made by her whole family. 

“You don’t feel you deserve it, but I sort of see it as award for the family for the work that earlier generations have done – I feel it’s a recognition of all of those things.” . .

Central Otago shearer on the benefits of Tahi Ngatahi

Shearer Tamehana Karauria works in Central Otago. He’s one of 800 shearers, wool handlers and farmers who’ve signed up for online, video-based learning platform Tahi Ngātahi. The initiative aims to reduce workplace injuries by 30 per cent.

Tamehana first picked up the hand piece working with his family in Gisborne and has been in the industry ever since.

What’s a good week look like for you?

As long as the sun’s shining, the sheep are dry and we’re at work, I’m in my happy place.

How does Tahi Ngātahi work?

It is all done through the Tahi Ngātahi website. You watch the videos and answer the questions. Some of the questions can be tricky, so you’ve got to watch the videos properly. . . 

Forestry investment far from straight forward venture – Scott Mason:

As forest fires, and climate change debate, rage across the Tasman (and our thoughts and best wishes go out to our Australian cousins), the topic of forestry in NZ has arisen over the Christmas break.

Most of the barbecue conversations have been quite generic, for example focusing on what the true impact of the planting of a billion new trees will have on our ecosystem as we strive towards addressing our carbon neutrality goals via a massive carbon sink consuming hundreds of thousands of acres, whether intense forestation of otherwise productive land will have a material negative cash-flow consequence for NZ in the short term (e.g. milk sells annually, trees are harvested every 25 years or so), and whether the regularity of forest fires in NZ will also increase as we experience forestation and climate change.

We even debated the concept of farming carbon credits, versus (or to exclusion of caring about) wood, and the long-term impacts that could have on good forestry management. . . 

What will happen with dairy markets in 2020? – Chris Gooderham:

Despite the uncertainty in 2019, the market value of milk in the UK was the most stable it’s been for a decade. But as we enter the next decade, how long will that stability last? We take a look at the key dynamics that are playing out in the dairy markets at the moment.

Globally:

  • Global milk production is set to grow by just 1% in 2020. The majority of the additional milk is expected to come from the US and EU. Australian production has been declining as it struggles with impacts of record high temperatures and drought, and the recent widespread bush fires. Growth in New Zealand production is expected to be relatively flat.
  • Global dairy demand is forecast to rise by 2.1% for fresh product and 1.5% per annum for processed products, according to the latest FAO-OECD predictions. Demand may however be impacted by a slowdown in economic growth over the coming year, particularly from the oil rich countries who are large importers of dairy. . .

 


One std for town, higher one for country

December 23, 2019

Farmers are angry over Te Papa’s portrayal of dairying:

Farmers have hit out at Te Papa over its use of fake farm stream water, calling the move “a disgrace” and accusing the national museum of having a biased agenda.

The outrage comes after National MP Todd Muller tweeted a picture of the bottle of dyed brown water, part of a display in the museum’s Te Taiao Nature exhibition.

The bottle features an image of a cow defecating in a waterway and indicates the water is from the Waikato. . .

Muller said the bottle and its contents were a “completely unrealistic” depiction of rural life and the work farmers were doing to improve and protect waterways.

“It’s a ridiculous, simplistic image. Dairy farmers have fenced almost all of the rivers and streams on their properties in the last decade and cows can’t get near them,” he said.

“Displays like this are part of the reason farmers are feeling so beaten up – everywhere they look, there’s the narrative that they’re destroying the environment.” . .

It wasn’t even a genuine sample:

DairyNZ said we’re not mad, we’re just disappointed:

It’s incredibly disappointing to see our national museum Te Papa reinforcing an overly simplistic anti-farming narrative that negatively impacts the public’s perception of New Zealand farmers and the dairy sector” DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle says.

“The water in their display is not reflective of what your average farm stream in NZ would look like. If you don’t believe me, you just need to look at the countless videos and pictures farmers have posted to social media to correct the perception.

“Farmers were right in demanding to know when and where this water was taken from. Te Papa have since confessed that the water wasn’t actually from a farm at all but was made up in a back room using brown dye.

“It’s not just about the quality of the water in the bottle either” Dr Mackle added.

“The imagery on the bottle of a cow standing in water defecating is highly deceptive and entirely out of step with the reality of dairy farming in New Zealand today where we are proud to have fenced off 98.3% of waterways in recent years.

“Farmers who have done the right thing and voluntarily invested their time and their money to fence off waterways and plant riparian strips deserve better than this from their national museum.

“Dairy farmers have fenced over 24,744km of waterways.

Under the Sustainable Dairy Water Accord New Zealand dairy farmers have achieved some fantastic results: 98.3% of waterways have been fenced on dairy farms to keep cattle out, 100% of stock crossing points have bridges and culverts and 100% of farms have been assessed for effluent management practices.

“The situation is all the more disappointing because it was only last week that we hosted our 7th annual Dairy Environment Leaders Forum dinner at Te Papa to celebrate the great work dairy farmers have undertaken.

“We think it’s great that Te Papa have produced a display on NZ’s water quality to help educate young kiwis, but it’s a real shame they haven’t taken the opportunity to tell the full story. DairyNZ would be happy to work with them on a fair and accurate display in the future.

“As a popular tourist attraction that is frequented by thousands of young families and international tourists each year Te Papa should be enhancing the brand of NZ Inc. instead of detracting from it with false information” Dr Mackle concluded.

Te Papa needs to get up to date and tell the modern story of farmers doing good work to protect and enhance waterways instead of buying into the out-dated dirty dairying rhetoric.

Meanwhile, Wellington wastewater is entering the harbour:

Wellington’s wastewater leak has been reduced to one-tenth of its size, meaning a new year’s dip at Oriental Bay could be on the cards.

Workers have worked  through nights after a wastewater pipe collapsed at the corner of Wills St and Dixon St on Friday.

At its peak it sent up to 100 litres of wastewater per second into the harbour – roughly a swimming pool’s worth per day.

On Sunday, this had been reduced to 10 litres per second after much of the wastewater was diverted through a disused 1890 pipe beneath Willis St, Wellington Water chief executive Colin Crampton said. . . 

That was an accident, this is dirty business as usual:

There’s a little creek running through suburban Auckland, a decent stride wide and water shin deep, that moonlights as one of the country’s biggest drains.

Not so long ago, it was called Waititiko, ‘water of the periwinkles;’ now, it’s a regular conduit for raw human sewage, and a living illustration of the city’s complicated relationship with waste. . . 

It’s a long read and a shocking indictment on successive councils that have not invested in the necessary infrastructure to cope with a growing city and it waste water.

Is it any wonder farmers are angry.

Urban councils get away with this disgusting pollution but farmers could be, and have been, fined for spilling effluent that could, that is has the potential to or might, reach a waterway.

Matthew Herbert has worked out the cost to councils if they were treated as farmers are:

It’s one standard for towns and another much higher and more expensive one for the country.


Rural round-up

November 8, 2019

Muller: Labour wants ag gone – Annette Scott:

The Government does not see agribusiness as part of the future of New Zealand’s economy, National Party agriculture spokesman Todd Muller says.

And the freshwater reforms are potentially damaging to the rural community, he told about 200 people at a meeting in Ashburton.

He is wary of new rules without factoring in the potential economic impact.

“You can only get sustainable, enduring outcomes if farmers can see a way they can farm to their limits.

“Economic, social and environmental implications are all perspectives that need to be in communications.

“That’s why we are pushing back very hard and will do if we are in government after September next year.”   . . 

Fonterra wants change to water rules – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra wants the Government to remove suggested maximum required levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in streams.

In its submission on the Government’s Action of Healthy Waterways proposal, Fonterra says it “strongly opposes” some of the maximum required levels for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP).

Farm Source Group director Richard Allen says the discussion document does not contain sufficient economic analysis to justify the proposed bottom line values.

Fonterra believes that in-stream bottom lines should only be used where there is a direct link to the outcomes sought. . .

‘Some mud needs to be thrown’ – farmer at Fonterra AGM :

Fonterra shareholders are frustrated and want accountability after turbulent times for the country’s biggest enterprise.

About 200 farmers gathered in Invercargill for the dairy giant’s annual general meeting.

The co-op recently posted a $605 million loss for the last financial year, and didn’t pay dividends to shareholders.

Farmer shareholders acknowledged that today was going to be tough for Fonterra’s leaders during an Q and A session. . .

Breeders boost eating quality – Neal Wallace:

Breeders are responding to customers’ desires and positioning the sheep farmers for the day when processors start grading meat for its eating qualities. Neal Wallace reports.

Meat processors don’t recognise eating quality yet but a group of ram breeders is preparing for when they do.

Andrew Tripp from Nithdale Station in Southland is involved in the South Island genomic calibration project, which uses DNA testing to let breeders predict terminal sire rams likely to produce offspring with meat that has superior qualities of tenderness and juiciness.

Other partners in the project include Beef + Lamb Genetics, Pamu, AgResearch, Focus Genetics, Kelso, the Premier Suftex group, the Southern Suffolk group and Beltex NZ. . . 

A blaze of yellow – Nigel Malthus:

Several thousand hectares of South Island farmland is a blaze of yellow as the annual rapeseed crop welcomes the spring.

Cropping farmer Warren Darling is one whose display regularly wows the public, since his farm straddles State Highway One just south of Timaru. His 120ha of rape is at “peak flower” and he expects to harvest at the end of January.

Darling has been growing the crop for about 12 years, along with wheat and barley.

He is now also trying sunflowers, beans and industrial hemp, in an effort to find compatible crops to move to a four-year rotation. . .

Busy music career gathers speed – Alice Scott:

Farmer’s wife, teacher, mother of twin boys, fledgling musician and all while recovering from brain surgery … it’s fair to say Casey Evans hasn’t been taking things easy over the last few years.

Casey moved to husband Rhys’ family farm near Owaka just under three years ago and things have been moving rapidly since, as her country music career begins to gain momentum and she is about to set off on a Somewhere Back Road music tour, raising funds to produce her first solo album.

It is just over a year since Casey underwent surgery to extend the size of her skull and release the pressure on her cerebellum and brain stem tissue which was pushing against the hole at base of her skull. For years Casey said she has experienced chronic fatigue and headaches which she attributed to “a few too many” horse falls. Being pregnant with twins, the symptoms compounded and Casey blacked out.

“It was then they did a scan and diagnosed the problem.” . . 

EcoScapes: Stunning views, mental massages and the country’s coolest cinema – Brook Sabin:

I’ve come up with a great concept: the mental massage.

Let me explain. It’s a crazy time to be a human: we’re bombarded with so much information, we’re expected to do more than ever, and we’re all feeling, well, a little bit tired. 

So, you’ll like this next bit: it’s time for a mental massage. I’m talking about a little holiday that slows the heartbeat. That relaxes the muscles. That gives your brain a break. 

And, boy, I think I’ve found it. 

It’s a luxury pod in the mountains, where you can sit back in bed and stare at the Southern Alps. And with the flick of a button, the room transforms into the country’s coolest cinema – all to enjoy with just one other person. . . 


Rural round-up

October 3, 2019

Gas targets will divide society – Alan Williams:

Alliance believes its Dannevirke sheep meat plant’s small size will let it survive a big fall in eastern North Island livestock numbers because of a loss of farmland to forestry.

If a similar change in land use happens in Southland the farmer-owned co-operative could be more exposed because the bigger operators in a region are likely to be most affected, chairman Murray Taggart said.

Anecdotal evidence indicates the scale of land use change could mean the loss of half a meat plant in the eastern North Island, he told shareholders in North Canterbury.

The industry believes taking out half a million stock units would essentially close down the equivalent of one plant, he told Farmers Weekly. 

The transparency of the scale of forestry interests buying farmland appears greater in the eastern North Island than in other regions.

It is possible the full extent of the loss of productive farmland might not be picked up until the damage is done. . . 

GM safe and we need it: plant biologists – Associate Professor Richard Macknight, Dr Lynette Brownfield, Associate Professor Paul Dijkwel, Associate Professor Michael Clearwater, Professor Paula Jameson and Dr Nijat Imin:

 A group of scientists belonging to the New Zealand Society of Plant Biologists say it’s time to review GM laws. They say new techniques in gene-editing can help ensure a clean green future for New Zealand.

When genetic modification technologies were newly-developed, people were rightly concerned that this relatively untested technology might harbour risks to health and the environment. So in the year 2000, the NZ government established a Royal Commission into the use of GM. After widespread and careful consultation, the commissioners’ report recommended an approach that preserved opportunities and that NZ should “proceed carefully, minimising and managing risks”. Specifically, around crop plants, the commissioners suggested New Zealand postpone any decision until more information had been obtained and the technology had developed.

The Royal Commission was nearly 20 years ago, so where do things now stand around crop plants?  . . 

Controversial red meat research bucks vegan diet trend recommendations – Stephanie Bedo:

As more people turn to eating less meat, new and “controversial” research gives you reason to return to red meat.

While the vegan trend has taken off, a series of reviews has found there are very few health benefits to cutting your meat consumption.

Based on a series of five high-quality systematic reviews of the relationship between meat consumption and health, a panel of experts recommends that most people can continue to eat red and processed meat at their average current consumption levels. . . 

Miraka pioneers farm carbon report :

Māori-owned milk processor Miraka is now reporting carbon emissions for each of its 100-plus supplier farms.

The Taupo company claims this as a first for New Zealand.

The farm-specific reports give detailed understanding of each farm’s greenhouse gas emissions and compare results between farms.

Miraka’s general manager of milk supply, Grant Jackson, says many of its farmers know little about their carbon footprint. . . 

A toast to the future – what we’ve learned from 200 years of New Zealand wine – Sarah Templeton & Lisette Reymer:

A birthday is always a time for reflection; a time to consider all you’ve achieved and what goals you’d want to tackle in the future.

I imagine that’s no more relevant than at a cool 200th – maybe one day I’ll know, if modern medicine does its thing. 

But believe it or not, this year we’re celebrating the 200th birthday of the New Zealand wine industry, which outdates even the Treaty of Waitangi. 

Aussie Reverend Samuel Marsden recorded September 25, 1819 as the day he first planted a vine in Kerikeri. The birthday was celebrated last week with the replanting of a vine in the same spot outside the Stone Store, accompanied by a celebration dinner and of course, a lot of wine.  . . 

Dutch tractor protest sparks ‘worst rush hour’ – Anna Holligan:

Tractor-driving farmers taking to the streets to demand greater recognition have caused the worst ever Dutch morning rush hour on Tuesday, according to motoring organisation ANWB.

There were 1,136km (700 miles) of jams at the morning peak, it said.

Farmers reacted angrily to claims that they were largely responsible for a nitrogen oxide emissions problem.

A report has called for inefficient cattle farms to be shut down and some speed limits lowered to cut pollution.

Farming groups believe they are being victimised while the aviation industry is escaping scrutiny. . . 


Rural round-up

September 20, 2019

Call for an end to scaremongering – David Hill:

Incessant scaremongering over the threat to the livestock industries from plant-based food has to end, the chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research says.

Dr Alison Stewart says while the attention on plant-based proteins could be seen as a win for the arable sector, the debate should not be seen as an ”either/or” scenario.

”New Zealand has to stop endlessly talking about what its future could look like and just go out and make things happen, and it has to stop the incessant scaremongering around the threat to the livestock industries from plant-based food.

”It should not be an either/or situation but a win-win where New Zealand is seen as a leader in both animal and plant production systems.” . . 

Enjoy NZ meat and dairy without guilt – Katie Milne:

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne explains why consumers can tuck into the milk and meat that New Zealand produces without qualms about global warming and health impacts.

You are what you eat.

To each his own.

Two time-worn sayings that have much to recommend them, and that are relevant in today’s discussions about vegetarianism, red meat, nutrition and the environment.

They’re certainly worthwhile topics to talk about and in recent years voices saying meat eaters are doing a disservice to their health and the planet have become more insistent and strident. . . 

Freshwater changes not set yet – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Government’s   Action Plan for Healthy Waterways  proposal includes tighter restrictions for farmers, including restrictions on land intensification, improvements to “risky” farm practices, and more controls on changing land use to dairy. Consultation meetings in Southland attracted hundreds of vocal farmers. Yvonne O’Hara reports.

Farmers need to “make some noise”, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s general manager policy-advocacy Dave Harrison.

All farmers, rural business owners and employers are urged to make submissions to the Ministry for the Environment (MFE) about the Government’s Essential Freshwater: Action for healthier waterways package.

The Government has released a discussion document that outlines proposed changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the National Environmental Standards, to clean up and prevent further water quality degradation. . . 

 

5 Fast Takes after Freshwater Consultation Meeting – Siobhan O’Malley:

Summary of my thoughts after attending the Freshwater Consultation Meeting in Nelson for the Ministry for the Environment last night…

Number 1 – gratitude. I am so grateful for industry organisations like Beef+Lamb, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers who look at all the details of this legislation through the lense of their industries and who have teams of people who understand policy fineprint. There are so many details and implications to be understood. The farmer is already working 90 hours a week right now in calving and lambing, and it isn’t their zone of genius to analyse policy. So I felt mega grateful we have those organisations to do the heavy lifting. I plan to check out the summaries they have emailed me, because I realised last night I need help understanding this far reaching and massively complex legislation.

Number 2 – wow this is going to cost a lot. This is something not being well communicated in the current media reporting, who seem to be describing mainly what farmers will have to do. I began to appreciate the scale of spending required by local councils all over the country to upgrade their infrastructure for sewage, wastewater and stormwater, and that about blew my mind. And that was before I thought about how much individual farmers will be spending on farm environment plan consultants, fencing, riparian planting and infrastructure, as well as loss of income from retired land.  . . 

Vote for those who understand farming – Rhea Dasent:

Local elections are coming up and Federated Farmers reminds members how important it is to vote.

The quality of local government in rural communities can mean the difference between dodgy roads and safer ones, thousands of dollars in rates, and the kind of regulation you face on-farm.

Councillors have an important role in influencing the development and implementation of regional and district plans.

Councillors who know and understand farming, or who recognised the practical need to engage with farmers on plan development and implementation, are critical to good resource management. . . 

Female farmers gather to celebrate women in ag at Longerenong – Gregor Heard:

THE INSPIRING story of a former Vietnamese refugee now part of a broadacre farming business in South Australia’s Barossa Valley was a highlight at this week’s Emmetts Celebrating Women in Agriculture Ladies Day event at the Longerenong field days site in Victoria’s Wimmera region.

A large crowd of females in agriculture gathered at Longerenong for the day, organised by Emmetts, one of south-eastern Australia’s largest John Deere dealerships.

The group heard the story of Yung Nietschke, who along with participating in her family farm business with her husband, also works as an educational consultant developing mentoring programs for women and youth. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 11, 2019

Fact check: Are our farm systems any better for the climate? – Esther Taunton:

Kiwi farmers love to claim their meat and dairy products come from farms with some of the smallest carbon footprints in the world. 

Unsurprisingly, they were quick to defend their systems after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Report on Climate Change and Land on Thursday.

Federated Farmers led the charge, saying it was concerned New Zealanders “simply don’t understand how much better we are at low-emissions farming than other countries“. . .

Kiwi farmers defend meat after report calls for more plant-based food – Rebecca Black:

We should be eating plenty of plants, South Taranaki dairy farmer Matthew Herbert says, but that doesn’t mean we should reduce our animal-based protein production.

A new IPCC report into climate change makes the recommendation that we alter our diets from being high in meat and dairy to include more plant-based food choices.

The report indicates that more efficient farming methods could dramatically increase food output while keeping emissions in check. . .

AbacusBio merges with plant breeder – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based agribusiness consulting firm AbacusBio has merged with a North Island-based plant breeding company.

Rotorua-based Gemnetics did similar work to AbacusBio but in plants, not animals, and it was a very complementary skill set, AbacusBio managing director Anna Campbell said.

Plant and animal breeding methodologies were converging with the growth in genomics and big data tools and technologies.

The merger would allow the company – retaining the name AbacusBio for operations and Gemnetics for specific plant-breeding software – to offer clients access to leading-edge genetic and system services, software and data management products, she said. . .

Milking it: Tapping into coffee culture – Sally Rae:

Two young Dunedin entrepreneurs are tapping into the nation’s coffee culture.

Jo Mohan and Luka Licul have co-founded Spout Alternatives, with Nick Jackson, of Christchurch, to put milk into kegs and reduce the number of plastic milk containers used in cafes.

The trio are preparing to launch their permanent dispensing system, which is similar to the way beer is available on tap in bars. . .

Let people eat as much red meat as they want Norway’s health minister says :

Norway’s new head of health has criticised the ‘moral police’ and said people should be allowed to eat as much red meat as they want.

In her first days as the country’s new health minister, Sylvi Listhaug implied that Norwegians shouldn’t be told what to do when it comes to health.

The comments come as part of an interview with Ms Listhaug conducted by Norwegian broadcaster NRK. . .

Can the Prairie Generation save rural America? – Laurent Belsie :

Outside Unadilla, Hannah Esch walks into her cooler and pulls out packages of rib-eye, brisket, and hamburger. Over the past nine months her new company, Oak Barn Beef, sold out of meat four times and brought in $52,000 in sales. Over the next year, she expects to double those sales numbers.

That will be a milestone. It will also be when she finishes her last year of college.

Some 150 miles northwest, the Brugger twins, Matt and Joe, show off how they’re diversifying from traditional agriculture. They directly market the beef from the cows they raise and they grow hops for local microbreweries. But the most visible sign of their commitment to the rural Plains is the two-story farmhouse they’re renovating on the family homestead. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2019

88-year-old dairy farmer keeps ahead of technological changes – Gerard Hutching:

“If you don’t comply you won’t be able to supply.”

Ngatea dairy farmer Ken Jones has seen the future – and at 88 years of age a lot of the past.

He knows farmers will soon be confronted with an assortment of environmental rules they will have to abide by – in fact they already are – and he wants to get ahead of the game.

“I don’t know how far off that is but it’s no good hitting your head against a brick wall. I just want to make the farm compliant so I can hand it on to the family.” . . 

Tech journey discussed – David Hill:

Tina Mackintosh admits there were some late nights loading data after she and husband Duncan opted to embrace technology more than a decade ago.

The Mackintoshs, who farm at White Rock Mains, north of Rangiora, shared their journey of using technology to improve their farm system at last month’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand FarmSmart conference in Christchurch.

”We have a curious mind about data and what it can do, and we also believe it’s about sharing the good things when they work and, equally, not being afraid of sharing when the shite happens,” Mrs Mackintosh said.

”As we were going along the journey we had two babies, so we were entering data late at night. There was a lot of data to enter so it was quite frustrating. . .

$10,200 dog makes quick impression – Yvonne O’Hara:

A farm dog that sold for more than $10,000 in Gore yesterday marked the occasion by lifting his leg on his new owner’s gumboot.

Heading dog Glen sold for $10,200 at the annual sheep and cattle dog sale at the Charlton saleyards.

PGG Wrightson Gore sheep and beef representative Ross McKee said his company was calling it ”a New Zealand record”.

”At $10,200 he is in a league of his own.”

Glen was sold by his breeder, trainer and farmer David Parker, of Teviot Valley, and bought by sheep, beef and venison farmer Richard Tucker, of Becks. . . .

The Poison of Precaution: The Anti-Science Mindset -Riskmonger:

In last year’s excellent book, The Wizard and the Prophet, Charles Mann juxtaposed two polemics on the environment in the 1940s during the turning point of agricultural development: Norman Borlaug and William Vogt. Borlaug (the Wizard) took the scientific approach to innovate and develop new tools to solve problems facing agriculture. Vogt (the Prophet and arguably the founder of the modern environmental movement) would see an environmental problem as a reason for man to pull back and let the planet heal itself.

To this day, both approaches (to innovate or to pull back and take precaution) have defined environmental debates. There is no doubt which side I fall on. Borlaug’s scientific route has allowed humanity to thrive over the last 70 years. The Green Revolution in agriculture led to global economic expansions as abundance led to generations of risk-takers being able to leave the land and develop other opportunities for wealth generation. Environmentalists argue that the agri-technologies have led to deeper problems from saturated soil and poisoned water tables to serious human health issues to climate calamity. Social justice theorists are proposing agro-ecology as a Vogtian response in pulling back from seven decades of agricultural development. . .

Landmark report shows value of pesticides to NZ’s land-based industries:

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Development today released a landmark report, showing that New Zealand’s economy would lose up to $11.4 billion without crop protection products – and that crops would lose 30 percent of their value overall.

The report covers forestry, pasture, horticulture, field crops and vegetable production.

Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross, says that the report highlights the importance of the crop protection industry to New Zealand’s economy. . .

African farmers increase yields and income with their smartphones -Bekezela Phakathi:

From drones and big data to financing apps, advanced technology can be a game changer.

More farmers across Africa are set to turn to digital solutions within the next three years, which will boost productivity and, potentially, employment across the value chain, according to a new study.

The study by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) and advisory firm Dalberg Advisors, says that several barriers hindering the adoption of digital solutions in agriculture across the continent — notably, limited access to technology and connectivity — will be overcome. . .


Rural round-up

July 20, 2019

Social licence about trust – Sally Rae:

Penny Clark-Hall is passionate about helping rural communities.

Ms Clark-Hall is the founder of New Zealand’s first social licence consultancy, helping farmers and agri-businesses earn and maintain their social licence to operate.

She is excited about speaking at the Women’s Enviro Evening in Clinton later this month, saying meaningful change had to come from grassroots, or “the ground up”.

That had a domino effect and, if everyone did their “own little bit” then it all added up to something big, she said. . .

Need for study of winter grazing – Sally Rae:

There is no place in modern farming for winter grazing practices that compromise animal health and welfare, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

Chief veterinary officer Dr Helen Beattie, of Dunedin, has strongly advocated for a national-level, pan-sector working group to be formed, saying a collaborative approach is needed to assist farmers through a fair transition away from such practices.

Intensive winter grazing was common and could lead to poor animal welfare and environmental damage, particularly during prolonged periods of wet weather, Dr Beattie said.

“We need to take a second look at these practices and, when animal welfare isn’t protected, find solutions that rectify this safely,” she said. . .

Thinking outside the square – Jenny Ling:

A Waikato couple are finding doing things a bit differently is paying off. Jenny Ling reports.

Hard work, a shared passion for science and technology and sheer grit and determination are helping a Waikato dairy farming couple create their dream property and life together.

Bill and Michelle Burgess milk 340 cows on 100ha of prime land in Te Poi, a small but thriving farming area 10km south of Matamata.

Here they milk and manage their elite herd of mostly Friesian and Friesian crosses and a small amount of Jerseys, while raising their two children, Alex, 3, and Sophie, 5. . . 

Government ‘don’t have a clue’ when it comes to rural living – Kate Hawkesby:

Interesting that 6,000 Aucklanders have moved to Northland over the past 4 years. 

I’m not surprised. 

Auckland traffic’s a nightmare, public transport isn’t up to scratch, property prices are still excessively high, and I think these days we’re getting better at prioritising quality of life. 

We bought a place in the country on a whim, and we haven’t looked back. 

There’s something very soothing about rural life.. trees, birds, animals, rolling hills, quiet roads.  . .

Farmers help pooh-powered milk lorries become a reality :

Farmers who supply Arla are starting to make the most of their cow’s manure by using it to power up milk lorries.

Farmers in Sweden are contributing to a fossil-free fuel future by turning manure into biogas, which in turn powers vehicles.

Biogas can also be a source of the income for farmers, and the biomass that remains after the cow manure is digested can be used as a fertiliser. . .

Rejoice: the earth is becoming greener – Matt Ridley:

Amid all the talk of an imminent planetary catastrophe caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, another fact is often ignored: global greening is happening faster than climate change. The amount of vegetation growing on the earth has been increasing every year for at least 30 years. The evidence comes from the growth rate of plants and from satellite data.

In 2016 a paper was published by 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries that analysed satellite data and concluded that there had been a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation over 30 years. The study attributed 70% of this increase to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The lead author on the study, Zaichun Zhu of Beijing University, says this is equivalent to adding a new continent of green vegetation twice the size of the mainland United States.

Global greening has affected all ecosystems – from arctic tundra to coral reefs to plankton to tropical rain forests – but shows up most strongly in arid places like the Sahel region of Africa, where desertification has largely now reversed. This is because plants lose less water in the process of absorbing carbon dioxide if the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher. Ecosystems and farms will be less water-stressed at the end of this century than they are today during periods of low rainfall. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 22, 2019

Farming to create fresh air – Luke Chivers:

When people think of farming, few think of carbon farming. But Canterbury farmers Warrick and CeCe James are using agriculture to feed people and fight climate change. Luke Chivers spoke to them on-farm.

Imagine carbon emissions and what springs to mind? 

Most people tend to think of power stations belching out clouds of carbon dioxide or queues of vehicles burning up fossil fuels as they crawl, bumper-to-bumper along congested urban roads. 

But in Canterbury’s picturesque Selwyn Gorge the owners of a forest of 18-year-old pine and Douglas fir trees are confident that at harvest age the trees will still be worth more alive than dead and will continue to be indefinitely. . .

Lower carbon food chain challenges – Richard Rennie:

A dive into the little-known field of energy return on investment for his Nuffield Scholarship was the extension of a long-held interest for Solis Norton of Otago. It measures energy flows through New Zealand’s primary food chains to see how we might move to zero emissions by 2050 while remaining a viable economy. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

Nuffield scholar Solis Norton acknowledges the area of energy return on investment (EROI) is not top of mind for many but his year’s study found the field holds important tools for one of this country’s most pressing demands – getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Mapping out the transition to carbon zero using economics is a good starting point but mapping our true energy use during the transition is critical too. This is what EROI does. Our path to carbon-zero economic prosperity will collapse if we run short of energy along the way.”  . . 

Mānuka honey regulatory definition throws industry into turmoil :

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) regulatory definition of mānuka honey has thrown the honey industry into turmoil and European authorities are beginning to notice there’s something wrong, a Northland honey expert says.

Dr John Craig, a veteran beekeeper and former professor of environmental studies, said the ministry’s challenged the industry to prove that its definition needs to change.

But he said the ministry’s own research has already done that. . .

High octane’ deer feeds examined at workshop – Yvonne O’Hara:

”High octane” feed was the subject at the Otago Advance Party regional workshop in Poolburn last week.

Deer farmers and industry representatives met at the Poolburn/Moa Creek Hall last Wednesday in a meeting organised by Abacusbio consultant Simon Glennie.

The Advance Party workshop was part of the deer industry’s Passion2Profit programme.

The group visited Poolburn deer farmer Cam Nicolson’s property to look at his deer, then returned to the hall to discuss how he could improve growth rates and profits by using ”high octane” forages. . .

 

Capturing the spirit of New Zealand by turning sheep’s milk into booze – Esther Taunton:

Like many off-the-wall ideas, Sam Brown’s came to him on a night out with friends.

The Kiwi entrepreneur and founder of The White Sheep Co was living in China when he realised New Zealand had no national drink.

“I was out with friends and we decided to have a drink for everybody’s country.

“We had a bit of tequila for a guy from Mexico, some vodka for a guy from Russia and even some brandy for a person from France,” he said. . .

Regional wrap:

Northland still has green grass everywhere, but there’s not much of it .. normally farms would be knee deep in kikuyu and it would be a challenge to manage it, but that’s not the case. It’s not a disaster but lots of dairy herds have been partially dried off.

Outstanding autumn weather has been the main feature this week for Franklin vege growers .. in fact for much of the North Island. . .


Rural round-up

April 2, 2019

ClearTech an effluent game-changer – Alan Williams:

Ravensdown says its new ClearTech dairy effluent treatment system will allow two-thirds of the water used to wash farm milking yards each day to be recycled.

It removes up to 99% of E coli and phosphorus from the raw effluent water and cuts nitrogen concentration by about 70%.

ClearTech’s promise, based on Lincoln University dairy farm results, convinced the judges at the South Island Agricultural Field Days to make Ravensdown the Agri Innovation Award winner.

“It’s a privilege for us to achieve this and the culmination of our partnership with Lincoln,” Ravensdown’s ClearTech product manager Carl Ahlfeld said.  . . 

Value of apparel wool surges – Sally Rae:

A new era of profitability is being heralded for mid-micron wool growers.

Despite mid-micron wool being labelled in the McKinsey report of 2000 as having a bleak future, the outlook is looking bright.

New Smartwool contracts have just been released at prices that had not been achieved before, the New Zealand Merino Company said.

South Otago farmer Stephen Jack, who has developed a dual-purpose sheep, described it as “exciting times” in the sheep industry. . . 

Distillery dreams see daylight – Sally Rae:

Young Wade Watson might not know it yet but he is going to have a heck of a 21st birthday party.

The nearly two-month-old infant already has an oak barrel of whisky bearing his name, maturing nicely at Lammermoor Distillery in the Paerau Valley.

The distillery has been established by Wade’s grandparents, John and Susie Elliot, who farm the 5200ha Lammermoor Station. . . 

Definition of lamb now officially changed in export legislation – Kristen Frost:

Australia’s new definition of lamb is on track to take effect from July 1 this year with legislative changes this week registered by the Australian Government.

The move means Australian farmers will be able to sell more lamb with the definition matching our competitors in export legislation.

The new definition is ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’. . . 

Silver Fern Farms cites tough sheep market in profit slide – Gavan Evans:

 (BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms says poor trading in its sheep meat business contributed to a 62 percent decline in full-year profit.

Sales in 2018 rose 9 percent to $2.4 billion but net profit fell to $5.8 million from $15.4 million in the 2017 calendar year. The year-earlier figure was reduced by $10.2 million of one-off costs, mostly related to the closure of the firm’s Fairton processing plant near Ashburton.

While the Dunedin-based company had achieved a “back-to-back profit”, chief executive Simon Limmer stated said the level of profitability was not good enough. . . 

Coastal livestock farm with private airstrip up for sale :

The biggest farm within the Gisborne/Wairoa/Northern Hawkes Bay region to come on the market in the past five years is up for sale.

Tunanui Station at Opoutama sitting on the Mahia Peninsula – which separates Poverty Bay in the north from Hawke’s Bay to the south – is a 2,058-hectare property which comes complete with its own private airstrip. . . .


Rural round-up

January 4, 2019

M. bovis response far from over:

Increased confidence that cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated from New Zealand should be greeted with very cautious optimism.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor announced last week that international experts were impressed by the eradication efforts and were more confident the campaign was working.

The Technical Advisory Group was more optimistic than six months ago, having confirmed that evidence showed the response was dealing with a single and relatively recent incursion from late 2015-early 2016. . . 

Public wanting cleaner water no surprise – we all have the same vision:

The results from the Colmar Brunton survey of the public that showed the public care about waterways is no surprise, and reinforces that all kiwis care deeply about New Zealand.

DairyNZ CE Tim Mackle says “we believe so strongly that kiwis care about waterways that we’re starting a movement, where the vision is clear – we want all new Zealanders to do their bit to look after rivers, lakes and beaches and you can find out more at thevisionisclear.co.nz” . .

Big plans for predator control in the Mackenzie Basin – Matthew Littlewood:

There are big plans to protect some of our smallest insects and birds in the upper Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Reporter Matthew Littlewood talks to some of those involved in an ambitious project to make the Basin predator-free.

It’s been roughly 18 months in the making and much of it is still in the planning stages, but already there is momentum building around Te Manahuna Aoraki.

Everything from expanding a breeding area for kakī/black stilt to building a massive predator fence is on the cards as part of the major, multi-agency predator control programme involving Department of Conservation, the NEXT Foundation, Ngai Tahu, local run holders, philanthropists and other agencies.

Be safe on the farm this summer :

Summer is a busy time on the farm, but it’s also among the most hazardous periods for accidents, says WorkSafe NZ.

Almost 550 farmers suffered injuries serious enough for them to take at least a week off work over the last summer (December 2017-February 2018) while there were three fatalities on farms.

Overall, trips, slips and falls, being hit or bitten by animals, hit by moving objects and incidents involving vehicles were the major causes of injuries, according to data from ACC. . . 

Owl farm flying high

Owl Farm uses proven research and good practice and, importantly, encourages young people into the dairy industry.

The joint venture demonstration dairy farm run by St Peters School Cambridge and Lincoln University had its Farm Focus Day in mid-November and gave visitors an overview of how the 2018-19 season was shaping up compared to the previous year. . . 

Red meat and dairy good for a healthy diet, study suggests

Researchers have found that people who eat higher levels of red meat and cheese are more likely to live longer.

The study of 220,000 adults found that eating three portions of dairy and one and half portions of unprocessed red meat a day could cut the risk of early death by one quarter.

Chances of a fatal heart attack decreased by 22 percent, according to the study by McMaster University, in Canada. . .


Give shareholders first option on Tip Top

December 7, 2018

Fonterra is considering selling its Tip Top ice cream brand:

Chairman John Monaghan said it was looking at its ongoing ownership of Tip Top and had appointed FNZC as an external advisor to consider a range of options.

“We want to see Tip Top remain a New Zealand based business and this is being factored into our options,” Monaghan said.

“While performing well, Tip Top is our only ice cream business and has reached maturity as an investment for us. To take it to its next phase successfully will require a level of investment beyond what we are willing to make.” . . 

Fonterra shareholder Matthew Herbert has started a petition opposing the sale:

Problem
Fonterra is looking at selling off it’s Tip Top ice cream brand.
Kiwi’s eat more ice cream per person than any other country on earth.
Tip Top ice cream is one of the biggest links between fresh New Zealand milk from Fonterra farmers, and people who live in our cities.

Solution
Sign the petition and help farmers save Tip Top from the chopping block!

Lets tell Fonterra to hold onto Tip Top and keep our delicious ice cream going from farm to freezer.
#SaveTipTop

 

I’m not opposed to the idea of selling the company.

Fonterra needs to reduce debt. If it can’t make the investment needed to take the company further then it is better to sell it to others who can, and sell it at the best price it can get.

But why not give Fonterra shareholders first option to buy Tip Top?


Rural round-up

November 21, 2018

Big year for young viticulturist – Adam Burns:

The hard graft of the past year has paid off with two big industry awards for Bannockburn woman Annabel Bulk. Central Otago reporter Adam Burns talks to the viticulturist about the key ingredients to her success.

A semi-rural upbringing in Dunedin’s Pine Hill kindled Annabel Bulk’s love of the outdoors.

“My mum is an avid gardener.

“We were always encouraged to grow our own veges as a kid.”

That childhood introduction to horticulture is reaping rewards for Ms Bulk.

Last week the 30-year-old beat five other finalists to take out the New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year prize.

The award capped off a fruitful year for Ms Bulk. . . 

Huge’ frost could have been dire – Pam Jones:

Central Otago viticulturists and orchardists are feeling “positive” about the upcoming season and pleased to have “dodged a bullet”  recently in the form of  “once in a lifetime” frosts, horticulture leaders say.

Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey said a “huge and highly unusual” frost throughout Central Otago on October 13 could have been catastrophic but ended up causing “very little damage” to grapes.

Extremely dry air conditions at the time of the -5degC frost meant there was a “freeze” rather than a frost, Mr Dicey said.

The phenomenon had been “totally, 100% unheard of” for at least 60 years, but the unusual nature of the conditions meant there was very little damage and viticulturists had “dodged a bullet”, only losing about 5% to 10% of grapes overall, he said. . . 

Re-elected Fonterra director keen to restore trust – Angie Skerrett:

Newly re-elected Fonterra director Leonie Guiney wants to have New Zealand farmers “proud” of the company again.

She was voted back onto the board at the annual Fonterra AGM earlier this month after previously serving on the board from 2014 to 2017.

Ms Guiney is keen to see faith restored in Fonterra.

“Trust is everything in a co-operative, and it’s our responsibility at board level to ensure that Fonterra’s owners trust their leaders with their capital,” she told RadioLIVE’s Rural Exchange. . .

 

Wool prices are still falling – Alan Williams:

Wool prices fell sharply again, dampening the spectacle of the third annual live auction at the Agricultural Show in Christchurch on Thursday.

The crossbred market heads towards Christmas with a lot of concern about the international wool textile sector after earlier price falls in the North Island, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

CP Wool auctioneer Roger Fuller didn’t want to sound too pessimistic but said the trend is quite concerning. . . 

Westland Milk Products seeks outside capital in bid to improve payouts – Heather Chalmers:

Despite low payout returns for the last three years, Westland Milk Products shareholder-supplier Stu Bland says he’s done the sums and wouldn’t be better off joining Fonterra. 

That’s even if he could, with many Westland Milk Products (WMP) suppliers tied to the co-operative because of their geographical isolation. 

At a payout of $6.07 a kilogram of milksolids after a five cent company retention for the 2017-18 season, Bland would have been $77,000 better off it he’d been supplying Fonterra or Synlait, who both paid 50 cents/kg more.   . . 

Death of disease still the aim – Annette Scott:

The Mycoplasma bovis response is focused squarely on phased eradication despite rumours to the contrary, Primary Industries Ministry M bovis response director Geoff Gwyn says.

“There’s some belief out there that MPI is preparing for long-term management – that is totally not the case at all.

“Many farmers are going through a challenging time with the M bovis outbreak and, unfortunately, their stress and anxiety is being compounded by some misinformation.”

Gwyn assures farmers the Government and industry partners remain highly committed to eradicating the cattle disease and early results from nationwide bulk milk testing indicate eradication is possible. . . 

Massive Canterbury irrigation scheme to transform region – for better or worse – Heather Chalmers:

Water is flowing through a huge new irrigation scheme on the Plains. But the water is so expensive farmers may turn away from dairy to more profitable crops. Heather Chalmers reports.

Travellers across the upper Central Canterbury plains in the last year will have noticed a quiet transformation of the landscape. 

Shelterbelts have been bowled and burnt and trenches dug across paddocks and roads. 

The biggest clue is the hulking metal spans emerging in paddocks as dozens of centre pivot irrigators are put together like giant Lego sets.   . . 

New biosecurity fines to be introduced:

Arriving vessels, transitional and containment facilities and cruise ship passengers will face new infringement offences for sloppy biosecurity practices that expose New Zealand to risk from harmful diseases and pests.

The new offences will introduce fines of $400 for individuals and $800 for other entities, such as companies, for low-level offending that is not significant enough to warrant prosecution, says Steve Gilbert, Border Clearance Services Director, Biosecurity New Zealand. . . 

Dairy farmers face squeeze:

Dairy farmers are getting a lower payout for milk but their costs are rising for goods and services like feed, fuel, and freight, Stats NZ said today.

The prices received by dairy farmers fell (4.8 percent) in the September 2018 quarter, due to a lower farm-gate milk price. In contrast, their costs rose (1.5 percent), mainly influenced by higher prices for animal feed, fuel, and freight.

“Dairy manufacturers paid less to buy raw milk in the latest quarter. They also received higher prices from our export markets and local customers,” business prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

It’s important to note there’s often a lag time between changes in costs and what businesses charge customers. . . 


Rural round-up

November 1, 2018

The sun must never set on New Zealand’s agriculture – Keith Woodford:

 These are increasingly troubled times for New Zealand agriculture. A significant proportion of the population has turned against farmers for environmental reasons relating to nutrient leaching and water quality. There is also a loud political narrative about methane from ruminant animals and the need to reduce livestock numbers.

There is also a group of agricultural doomsayers who state that new plant-based foods and even totally artificial foods can mimic meat, and that they will do so at much cheaper cost than the real thing. And finally, there is an increasing group of consumers who are committed to vegan diets for perceived health reasons or relating to personal ethical perspectives. . . 

On the home straight to CPTPPP benefits:

It’s been a long and sometimes bumpy road to achieving a Pacific Rim trade deal but New Zealand producers and our economy will soon reap the benefits, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We’re on the home straight. The required six nations have now ratified the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the countdown has started towards the first round of tariff cuts early next year. . . 

CPTPP move momentous for NZ:

ExportNZ says today’s CPTPP ratification by Australia is a momentous day for New Zealand.

Australia’s ratification today of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership has now delivered the quorum required to start the process leading to the CPTPP taking force.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says the CPTPP deal, a tantalising prospect for years, will now become a reality by the end of this year. . .

Bee Keepers Can Now Check Seasonal Weather Outlooks Against High Resolution Land Cover:

Summer likely to lack widespread monthly extremes in temperature and precipitation

The rapidly growing honey industry in New Zealand has had some weather challenges over the last few years. As Karin Kos noted regarding the 2017 season ‘very dry and windy weather was not conducive to honey and due to the nature of the industry unfortunately it is weather dependent’. Bees also find different land covers to exploit depending on the weather with pastures, indigenous forest and manuka/kanuka forests if made available being just a few examples of how bees can change their diet when weather vagaries occur
. . .

Guy Trafford summarises the debate around how we should deal with methane emissions, and introduces you to the global regulation of SLCPs:

The issue around methane is not going to go away. In the last couple of days two respectable and well known identities have commented.

Phil Journeax, currently with AgFirst and previously with MPI as an economist, and Rod Oram a well-known commentator particularly on things rural. They have both tackled the issue around methane, and climate change from different angles.

Largely both correct but could be talking about two totally different things. Confused? It’s likely to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Cars or lisevstock which contribute more to climate change? – Anne Mottet and Henning Steinfeld:

The pitfalls of simplification when looking at greenhouse gas emissions from livestock What we choose to eat, how we move around and how these activities contribute to climate change is receiving a lot of media attention. In this context, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and transport are often compared, but in a flawed way. The comparison measures direct emissions from transport against both direct and indirect emissions from livestock. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identifies and monitors human activities responsible for climate change and reports direct emissions by sectors. The IPCC estimates that direct emissions from transport (road, air, rail and maritime) account for 6.9 gigatons per year, about 14% of all emissions from human activities. These emissions mainly consist of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from fuel combustion. By comparison, direct emissions from livestock account for 2.3 gigatons of CO2 equivalent, or 5% of the total. They consist of methane and nitrous oxide from rumen digestion and manure management. Contrary to transport, agriculture is based on a large variety of natural processes that emit (or leak) methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide from multiple sources. While it is possible to “de-carbonize” transport, emissions from land use and agriculture are much more difficult to measure and control. . . 


Rural round-up

October 9, 2018

Alliance has work still to do on beef prices – Alan Williams:

Alliance has a lot of work to do to get up to competitive pricing for prime beef and bulls.

“We’re a mile off where we need to be,” chief executive David Surveyor told shareholders in North Canterbury.

It will be working to get a better offer in the market this season but there will not be an overnight fix.

“We need to get the price to a point where its profitable for us and for farmers,’’ he said afterwards.

The co-operative’s beef suppliers are loyal but it is important to be frank with the owners about the issues. . .

Recovery worries buyers – Hugh Stringleman:

Prospects of a good spring flush for milk production have again trimmed world prices at the most-recent Global Dairy Trade auction, when the index fell by 1.9%, the ninth consecutive fall.

Its is now mid May since the GDT index registered a rise and during that four and a half months the dairy market has lost a cumulative 15.7%.

That is a slow decline by international dairy market standards, showing supply and demand are balanced but the market is worried by New Zealand milk production recovery.

Rabobank said near-perfect weather and more cows milked over the winter resulted in production growth of 5% year-on-year during the seasonal trough from June to August. . . 

Giving rural people’s health top priority – Sally Rae:

Kelly Burnett’s career aspiration is simple: to continue helping rural people get the best out of their bodies.

The Dunedin-based osteopath has a passion for farming and the rural community, and her masters degree research looked at how to help farmers maintain their physical health.

As she put it, tractors and motorbikes were regularly serviced and working dogs went to the vet for any injuries or ailments. But rural people often did not see themselves as the most important tool on their farm or in their business. . . 

Kiwis win blade shearing, wool handling – Sally Brooker:

New Zealand won the transtasman blade shearing test and the New Zealand woolhandling champion won his third consecutive title at the Waimate Shears on Saturday.

The 51st annual two-day shears at the Waimate showgrounds attracted strong entries across its categories, which began with woolhandling at noon on Friday.That culminated on Saturday afternoon with the open section win to Joel Henare, who splits his time between Gisborne and Motueka.

A highlight of the programme was the test between Kiwi blade shearers Tony Dobbs,  of Fairlie, and Allen Gemmell,  of Rangiora, and their Australian rivals Johnathon Dalla and Ken French. The New Zealanders finished 13.63 points ahead. . . 

Sustainability experts join Fonterra’s new advisory panel: 

Fonterra has appointed an independent Sustainability Advisory Panel to guide the Co-operative as it strives to be a world leader in sustainably produced dairy nutrition.

The panel features a diverse range of experts including:

• Sir Rob Fenwick (Chair), who co-founded the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development and was the first New Zealander knighted for services to both business and conservation. . . 

Fonterra has three alternatives for its China Farms and none are attractive – Keith Woodford:

This is the second part of a two-part series putting Fonterra’s China Farms under scrutiny. The first part is here

In the preceding article I traced the internal thinking within Fonterra as to why Fonterra decided to produce milk in China. The underlying belief was that Fonterra had the necessary expertise but could not play the desired role within China without having in-country production systems.  By late 2009, having lost its key China partner San Lu from the melamine disaster, Fonterra decided to go it alone with an expansion that would become known as the Yutian hub. From there, additional hubs would be developed.

Fonterra decided it would work towards a supply of one billion litres of China-produced milk per annum and this would require about 80,000 cows milking at any one time. There was an assumption that high-quality milk from these farms would sell at a premium to other China-produced milk. Whether or not Fonterra would also undertake processing operations was seen as a question for the future, but with a likelihood this would occur. . . 

Profiting from precision irrigation: –  Andrew Swallow:
Economic, environmental and social benefits are prompting a growing number of Australasian and US farmers to adopt precision variable rate irrigation systems.

New Zealand, a country generally known for its ample annual rainfall and phenomenal natural crop growth, is an unlikely origin for a precision irrigation development that’s gaining traction globally. However, light soils and sporadic precipitation in some regions, plus readily available water for irrigation, mean close to 800,000 ha or 6.5% of the country’s farmland is artificially watered.

Originally, much of that was with flood irrigation using border-dykes but, in the drive for water use efficiency and environmental protection, spray irrigation has become the norm, mostly with centre-pivots. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 9, 2018

Make jobs attractive to youth – Neal Wallace:

Farmers need to change their approach to employment conditions to encourage more people to work for them, Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis says.

Low regional unemployment is making staff recruitment more challenging but there are already fewer people choosing agricultural careers.

To be competitive farmers need to consider more than just pay but also rosters, hours of work, housing, the workplace environment, pressure of the job and ensure they meet their legal payroll and time-recording obligations. . .

Annual results will put Fonterra under microscope – Sally Rae:

Scrutiny from farmers is expected next week when new chairman John Monaghan and recently appointed interim chief executive Miles Hurrell front Fonterra’s 2017-18 annual results presentation.

While commodity price fluctuations were “part and parcel” of the reality of being a dairy farmer, grumblings about Fonterra’s corporate performance have been growing, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said.

From an historical perspective, prices remained at relatively robust levels and, at $6.50, most farmers would be in positive cashflow territory. . . 

FENZ urges caution on controlled burns – John Gibb:

Large, controlled burn fires at Northburn Station, near Cromwell, produced huge smoke clouds on several days this week, but burned without any problems, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said.

Otago principal chief rural fire officer Graeme Still, of Dunedin, said permitted fires at Northburn had produced large clouds of smoke on Monday, Wednesday and yesterday, but finished without incident.

Fire conditions were suitable at Northburn, partly because remaining snowpack restricted any potential fire spread, he said yesterday. . . 

Wool recovery continues – Alan Williams:

Wool prices made another step forward at Thursday’s Napier sale, building on the gains of a fortnight earlier.

After a disappointing start to the season prices have lifted in the last few weeks and strong wools in the 35-37 microns range were up by another 4% to 5%, PGG Wrightson’s North Island auctioneer Steven Fussell said.

Second-shear wools were mostly up by similar margins on a fortnight earlier with good style 2 to 3 inch fibre length ahead about 7%. . .

On the farm: our guide to what’s been happening rurally:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

North Island-Te Ika-a-Māui

The week finished off much better than it started in Northland. Mid-week the Far North town of Kaitaia had its second 13 degree day of winter – that’s chilly for them. A cold southerly is blasting through and apparently farmers are “right up against it” for pasture. Any strongly kikuyu dominant sward is very slow growing; rye grass is going okay but patches of it are few and far between on most farms. . . 

Fruit exports boost wholesale trade in June quarter:

Fruit exports drove wholesale trade sales up in the June 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

The seasonally adjusted total sales value for wholesale trade rose 2.6 percent in the June 2018 quarter, following a modest 0.3 percent rise in the March 2018 quarter.

Five of the six wholesaling industries had sales rises in the June 2018 quarter. The largest industry increase was in grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, which was up 3.0 percent ($236 million). . . 

Deer milk hits the spot as finalist in NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu’s deer milk is on the awards stage again with today’s announcement that it is a finalist in two categories in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

The NZ Food Awards have been a highlight of the food sector for over 30 years and aim to demonstrate innovation, creativity and excellence in the food industry in New Zealand. . .

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Rural round-up

August 30, 2018

Farmer gets back on feet after cattle disease Mycoplasma strikes – Gerard Hutching:

Ashburton dairy farmer Frank Peters is feeling more optimistic than in May when he tearfully watched 300 of his “beautiful” calves being sent off to slaughter.

They had no signs of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis but the fact others in the 1400-strong herd were infected was enough for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to pronounce the death sentence.

So far he has been compensated “about $2 million” for the replacement of his cattle. Nationwide $18.9m worth of claims have been paid out, from $25.3m received. . .

Mycoplasma bovis confirmed in Northland district:

Biosecurity New Zealand today confirmed a property in Northland has tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis. It’s the first time the disease has been found in this region. 

The infected property is a dry stock beef farm. The farm, as with all other infected properties, was identified through the tracing of animals movements from known infected farms and is under a Restricted Place legal notice under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm. . .

Micro-credentials give biosecurity industry edge – Yvonne O’Hara:

Biosecurity-focused micro-credentials (MC) will be the one of the first bite-sized qualifications available from Primary ITO, once the relevant rules and paperwork are signed off.

The industry training organisation is also planning micro-credentials for dairy and horticulture.

Primary ITO chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said the relevant legislation had been passed earlier this year, which allowed training organisations to offer the micro-credentials to their workplace-based students. . .

 Guy Trafford confronts the challenges of extensive milk regulations, and relates that to the incidence of Listeriosis and its fatal outcomes:

Just when the M Bovis story appeared to have had quietened down another twist has appeared, although this may not be what the headlines intimate.

Earlier this week, it was reportedAlfons Zeestraten, the farmer MPI appeared to consider to be at the centre of where M Bovis got started, was to appear at the Invercargill District Court. The charges relate to the importation of machinery; Zeestraten has stated that he is innocent of the charges. MPI have refused to comment on the case. If the charges are indeed unrelated to the M Bovis outbreak MPI would be doing everybody a service in stating that, given the emotions and interest surrounding the disease, and stop a lot of speculation.

On to more normality, the price of milk to consumers has reared its head again, this time with Chris Lewis Federated Farmers Dairy Chair leading the calls to boycott supermarkets and support corner dairies who he finds sell it far cheaper. New Zealand has the third highest milk consumption per head of capita, however, our milk prices appear to be driven by the highest price able to be gained on the international markets. Consumers point to other countries that can sell milk at a considerable discount to what is charged in New Zealand. . .

Farmers are now ‘up to their elbows’ in calves – Ella Stokes:

Calving season is in full swing for many dairy farmers around the region. This week Southern Rural Life reporter Ella Stokes  caught up with Clydevale farmer and calf rearer Phillippa Foster.Polaris

At this time of year Phillippa Foster said she was always ”up to her elbows in calves” but said she loved the job.

She and husband Greg originally farmed in Taranaki before moving south five years ago.

They were now 50/50 sharemilkers on their Clydevale farm near Balclutha. Their children Greer (10) and Preston (12) attended Clutha Valley School . .

 

LUV training hits the spot – Mark Daniel:

Quads and light utility vehicles (LUV) get a bad rap because operators’ poor skills and riding judgement cause crashes. Quality training can reduce such incidents.

Jacks Farm Machinery, Whakatane, a forward-thinking machinery dealer in the Bay of Plenty region known for horticulture, decided to act.

This supplier of Polaris quads and LUVs was already in the business of certified modifying Ranger and Ace models to allow them to work under pergolas in kiwifruit orchards; this also allowed orchardists to switch from quads to LUVs. . . 

Not a bad apple – Gala passes Red Delicious as America’s favourite – Nathan Bomey:

At their core, Americans have changed – at least when it comes to their apple preferences.

The Red Delicious apple is expected to lose its title as the most popular apple in the US this year, a perch it held for more than half a century.

The US Apple Association is projecting that the gala apple will usurp the red delicious for the top spot.

The group, which advocates on behalf of 7500 US apple growers and 400 companies in the apple business, predicted that the US would grow 52.4 million Gala apples in 2018, up 5.9 per cent from a year earlier. . .

 

Environment water for sale in drought-hit Victoria

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has announced a sale of 20 gigalitres of water from the Goulburn Valley in Victoria.

The water will be sold udner a competitive tender which opens at 10:00am Monday September 3 2018 and will close at 2:00pm Wednesday September 5.

There will be a minimum bid size of 5 megalitres and a maximum bid size of 500ML, which the CEWH said would balance the access of small and large irrigators to the trade.


Rural round-up

August 19, 2018

Supreme Court issues victory for private land conservation:

The Supreme Court has delivered a historic decision to protect covenanted land against a land developer who bought the property with the intention of carving it up, developing on the beautiful and protected bush and then selling the land for profit.

QEII National Trust Acting CEO, Paul Kirby says “this is a victory for conservation on private land in New Zealand and a blow for those who think that they can overturn QEII legal protection of the land. The Supreme Court has reinforced that QEII covenants protect natural spaces against the people who buy a property to divide and develop the land. We are proud to have lead the fight to protect the land against this kind of development. . .

Foresters fear carbon auction’s implications – Richard Rennie:

Forest Owners Association president Peter Weir is troubled by Government proposals to use an auction system to allocate extra carbon units under a revised Emissions Trading Scheme.

The proposal is for a sealed-bid, single-round auction where bidders submit their bids simultaneously. 

Each bidder can submit multiple bids, ultimately creating a demand curve ranking all bids from highest to lowest. A clearing price is then determined, where supply and demand meet.

But Weir is concerned the proposal is going to cause more problems than it solves.

Fonterra pauses to take stock – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra dropped another bombshell with the appointment of an interim chief executive, Miles Hurrell, to take over immediately from departing Dutch dairy industry veteran Theo Spierings.

The internal promotion of Hurrell came as Fonterra’s directors reconsider the company’s direction of travel and its needs in a chief executive.

An external recruitment process, started in November last year, is suspended in the meantime, chairman John Monaghan said.

Hurrell has the right mix of talents and experience needed at this time and he will not be paid what former chairman John Wilson called the eye-watering salary and bonuses that Spierings received. . .

 

Sheep wool can help cats’ diet:

Proteins from wool can be added to the diets of animals to improve their health, AgResearch scientists have shown.

Researchers say the positive findings in the diets of domestic cats open up exciting possibilities for new uses of sheep wool to improve digestive health for a broader range of animals, and potentially human beings.

The findings have just been published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Food & Function journal, and are available here . . 

NZ blister protection company, Walk On, names first CEO:

Walk On, the blister protection company known for its luxuriously soft Hyperfine merino wool product, has appointed Dr. Mark Davey as its first CEO.

Walk On Founder and Chairman Lucas Smith made the announcement as part of a 2018 initiative to carry the momentum of Walk On’s initial domestic success into international markets. Walk On recently secured a national distribution deal with outdoor and adventure sports multi-channel retailer Torpedo 7, and is also available in 10 retail stores nationally.

“Mark Davey’s experience as a New Zealand apparel innovator will be pivotal to the company as we embark on the next steps of the Walk On journey during our capital raise and international market development efforts,” remarked Lucas Smith. “Mark has experience with both, and we are excited to have him on board.”. . .

End of a family dynasty on Gunningbar Creek – Peter Austin:

A useful grazing block in the tightly-held Gunningbar Creek area north of Nyngan will go to auction later this month, ending nearly a century of ownership by the local Green family.

The 2668 hectare (6594ac) “Belarbone” has been listed for sale by Phil Wallace of Landmark Nyngan on behalf of Gavin and Jenny Green, who are selling in their lead-up to retirement.

Gavin took on the management of “Belarbone” in the early 1980s, at which stage it was an undeveloped block with no electricity connection, no buildings and no infrastructure. . .

 


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