Rural round-up

September 18, 2019

If we undermine farming we undermine our entire economic fabric – Barbara Kuriger:

Like my family before me, and following after me, I’ve always taken great pride in being a dairy farmer, and in the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry internationally.

My husband and I grew up in a generation where we had the opportunity to buy a farm and build our livelihoods on the land as our family had before us. It has been a privilege to forge an incredible career as a dairy farmer. My husband, Louis, and I are both award-winning dairy farmers and we’re proud of the mark we’ve made on the industry. 

Sadly, the outlook for New Zealand’s primary sector is the worst that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t make this strong statement lightly, nor to scaremonger – but rather to reflect the policy settings under a virtue-signalling government which is setting the dairy industry up for failure. As a rural MP, but more importantly as a farmer, I won’t sit back and allow the ladder to be pulled up behind future generations of New Zealanders wanting to pave their way in the farming sector.   . . 

Dannevirke shearing legend Koro Mullins passes away:

Tributes are flowing in from around the world in memory of Dannevirke shearing identity Koropiko Tumatahi (Koro) Mullins, who died suddenly on Monday at the age of 65.

Mr Mullins was known across all aspects for the shearing industry and sports, from shearer and shearing contractor to a frontman commentating role shearing great Sir David Fagan says set the standard on a global scale.

Born and raised in the Rotorua area, and of Te Arawa stock, he met the-then Mavis Paewai when he was a woolpressing teenager working for her brothers and father in Southern Hawke’s Bay.

It sparked what Fagan says was a unique family involvement and commitment to the shearing and wool industry, becoming the basis of Maori Television series Shear Bro which first aired in July last year. . . 

“Don’t lose hope’ – Pam Tipa:

Farming families and communities keen to do the right thing on water should not lose hope and confidence in the consultation process, says a Canterbury dairy farmer and industry leader.

The Government’s proposed nitrogen target for mid Canterbury isn’t attainable, says Colin Glass.

But that is no reason to give up on the consultation process, he says. “It looks as though there is nothing we could do today that would even come close to achieving that target. It simply means that if that target is not amended, farming as we know it today is not possible. Any form of farming.

“The key thing is that farmers are doing the right thing. Everyone is moving in the right direction. Now is not the time for people to lose faith or confidence in the process. . . 

Radiata pine plantations a band aid to nowhere – Di Lucas:

Climate change policies, the Billion Tree initiative and recent news promote the establishment of extensive pine plantations to benefit Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate change response by sinking carbon. Others have questioned the benefit of short-rotation plantation pines compared to natural regeneration of native forests. Whilst afforestation has an important role in New Zealand’s climate change response, we need to be clear about future implications.

There are both native and introduced tree species that grow fast and others that grow more slowly. Consider along with the speed of sequestration, the total carbon stocks that can be accumulated, and how long sequestration rates can be sustained. These rates depend on whether the forest is permanent and allowed to grow to maturity (i.e. not harvested) or harvested.  

Fast-growing trees such as pines or eucalypts in harvested plantations reach their maximum carbon storage capacity in about 20 years. Landowners then lose most of those carbon stocks when the forest is harvested; NZ loses most of the embedded carbon when logs are exported; furthermore, the globe loses most of those stocks back into the atmosphere as the products decay, as well as through associated emissions from forest management, transport and processing. Thus to store more carbon actually requires another forest to be planted on new land that is not already forested, while also continuing to replant and maintain the previous area in forest to recover the lost carbon stocks. That is, plantation areas will need to be doubled in size with every crop. . . 

Here are three farmers who are taking action on climate change – Rebecca Black:

Waikato dairy farmer Christopher Falconer is parked up on his farm looking out over the wetlands as he talks about mitigating the effects of climate change.

“I don’t make climate change-based decisions for what we do on-farm. I don’t. But as it happens, there’s a great deal of overlap between what is good for the climate, and what is good for all sorts of other things.”

Take riparian planting, the practice of growing plants alongside waterways. The goal is to mitigate nutrient loss and subsidence and stream bank erosion, but it’s also an effective carbon capture.

With nearly half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases coming from agriculture, farming is under scrutiny and some farmers feel the country has turned its back on them. But by making climate change action part of their everyday work, three farmers says the rewards speak for themselves. . . 

Fonterra’s capital structure is no longer fit for purpose – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s delay in announcing its results, driven by Fonterra’s need for discussions with its auditors about appropriate asset values, provides an opportunity to reflect on Fonterra’s capital structure and whether it is still fit for purpose. The simple answer is that it is not.

The value destruction that has occurred and which is now coming to light means that inherent conflicts between the interests of farmer shareholders and investor unitholders have become too great to be papered over. Co-operatives do not survive long-term unless everyone’s interests align.

Two former directors of Fonterra, Colin Armer and Nicola Shadbolt, have both come out recently and said that reworking Fonterra’s capital structure is not the immediate priority. I agree with them. The immediate and urgent priority is to sell assets and create a new slimmed-down and financially-efficient organisational structure, with many fewer high-paid executives. . . 

Physicist Sam Hitchman wins top meat science talent award:

Attracting the best and brightest minds is and remains one of the international meat industry’s top priorities and for Sam Hitchman – a physicist in an industry dominated by biological researchers – the quest to attract new talent has paid off.

The AgResearch scientist recently won the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) Prize for Young Talent in Meat Science and Technology at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) near Berlin, Germany.

.

Sam Hitchman, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in AgResearch’s Meat Quality team, says he was thrilled with the recognition, while adding he didn’t feel “young” – as his award would suggest – upon his return to New Zealand. . . 

Why going meat-free could damage your health – Luke Mintz:

It was just a few months ago that experts were declaring the end of meat. Earlier this year, consultancy firm AT Kearney predicted that by 2040, animal products will have become so socially and environmentally unacceptable that most “meat” eaten across the globe will come in the form of plant-based or lab-grown substitutes.

But a major study released this week just might put the brakes on the rapidly accelerating plant-based trend. According to Oxford University research, published in the British Medical Journal, vegetarians and vegans have a 20 per cent higher risk of stroke than those who regularly tuck into a plate of bacon and sausages.

The authors of the study, which tracked almost 50,000 Britons for 18 years, said this might be because veggies did not have enough cholesterol in their blood. The finding flies in the face of much conventional wisdom, which says that vegetarianism is a healthy alternative to a carnivorous lifestyle.

But nutritionists say the increased risk of stroke is just one of the many health risks that any would-be vegetarian should be made aware of before they take the plunge. . . 


Rural round-up

June 18, 2019

Concerns in Whanganui that billion trees protagonists can’t see the wood for the trees – Iain Hyndman:

Blanket planting of tree has put mainstream farming and rural communities at risk.

The relentless march to plant a billion trees brings with it dire consequences for mainstream New Zealand agriculture.

The very real fear is that those leading the charge simply can’t see the wood for the trees.

A growing groundswell of opinion suggests the negatives of blanket planting trees far outweigh the positives and these voices are coming from farmers and even rural real estate agents themselves. . .

Mavis Mullins’ journey from shearing shed to boardroom:

New Zealand Business Hall of Famer Mavis Mullins’ life has been a fascinating journey from a shearing shed on the outskirts of Dannevirke to multiple governance role and collecting an MBA along the way. Her CV is extensive, there’s the family business Paewai Mullins Shearing and wool industry offshoot Wool Systems, but also her governance roles include Landcorp, Health boards, Massey University Council, the Maori business development trust Poutama and the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre. . . 

Making small herd farming a team effort – Louise Hanlon:

Keith and Tracey Crawford began their dairy careers with big dreams of farm ownership, then still a highly achievable goal for a determined young couple.

“Keith went dairy farming when he left school” says Tracey Crawford. “I left school and worked as a microbiologist at the dairy company.

“When we got married in 1986 we decided to go on the path of 29%, 39%, 50:50. We were pretty fortunate that we got to do all those stepping stones to set us up 50:50.”

A&P Society sets up Northland farm cadet scheme :

In a modern twist on the old farm cadet scheme, Whangārei A&P Society is developing a new live-in, on-farm training initiative to help grow future farmers.

The A&P Society has committed a seeding fund to establish a programme which will focus on providing job-ready Northland interns with the right skills and attitudes.

The society’s president, Murray Jagger, said the Farm Intern Programme is a reinvention of former on-farm learning models.

The aim is for graduates of the two-year training scheme to come out with Levels 2, 3 and 4 New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture, and with practical experience and life skills that make them employable in the industry while also being ”good” citizens. . . 

Farm debt mediation a useful tool – Feds:

Federated Farmers supports the Government’s decision to proceed with a Farm Debt Mediation Bill.

The proposed legislation will require creditors to offer mediation to farmers who default on payments before they take enforcement action and it will allow farmers to initiate mediation.

“Federated Farmers is in favour of this,” Feds Vice-President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . .

Fieldays enables real conversations – Dr Paul Le Mière:

Fieldays is an opportunity for Federated Farmers to get some valuable face-to-face time with its members, writes North Island Regional Policy Manager Dr Paul Le Mière.

Getting to the heart of the matter is what we at Federated Farmers are about.

Federated Farmers is at the National Agricultural Fieldays this week.

It’s New Zealand’s biggest agricultural show and for me it is always a great chance to have a good chat to farmers from around the country, and sometimes beyond, about what is happening in their patch.

It is also a good opportunity for all farmers to find out a bit more about what is going on in their industry and what issues and opportunities are coming their way. . .

Rancher refutes Impossible Burger criticisms of regenerative grazing, invites CEO to leave his lab and visit a real farm

Will Harris, a fourth-generation farmer-rancher in Bluffton, Georgia, called out Impossible Burger for claims the company made today that regenerative grazing is “not sustainable at scale,” and that grassfed beef “generates more GHGs than feedlot beef.”

Harris responded to Impossible Burger’s claims with this statement:

“As an independent professional rancher, who has practiced regenerative land management on our family farm for more than 20 years, I can state unequivocally that Impossible Burger’s claims about regenerative grazing are incorrect. . . 


Rural round-up

December 21, 2014

Chinese seek bigger stake in Oamaru meat plant – Sally Rae:

Overseas Investment Office approval is being sought to increase a Chinese-based shareholding in Lean Meats’ Oamaru plant.

NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, whose shares were owned by Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co Ltd, has already bought a 24.9% stake in the plant and wants to increase that to 50%.

Yesterday, Richard Thorp, who finishes this week as chief executive of Lean Meats and will join NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods as chief operating officer, said it was positive news for North Otago. . .

Other iwi benefiting from sweet success:

The Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation is sharing its business knowledge with neighbouring tribes to help generate money for their descendants by using land that’s unsuitable for beef and sheep farming.

Last year, the incorporation collaborated with the Ruapehu iwi Ngāti Rangi to survey the Whanganui River valley using traditional knowledge and modern science to identify the potential of harvesting mānuka honey.

The incorporation’s chairperson, Mavis Mullins, says it is now sharing that information with other tribes, which is paying off as they include different ways of making the whenua more productive. . .

Fashion queen weaves good yarn – Rob Stock:

Few people can claim to have developed a genuinely new fibre. Peri Drysdale has just unveiled her second.

Twenty years ago, Drysdale, founder of Christchurch’s Snowy Peak and Untouched World, blended possum fur, which had previously been considered too short for weaving, with merino wool to create “merinomink”, a much-mimicked yarn that launched an industry.

“It was the first new yarn in 200 years,” Drysdale said. “Now we’ve done it again.” 

Drysdale has now unveiled a textile she’s called Kapua in the Untouched World range, the Maori name for cloud, which she hopes will command prices even higher than merinomink. . .

The big kill – New Zealand’s crusade to rid itself of mammals – Elizabeth Kolbert:

In the days—perhaps weeks—it had spent in the trap, the stoat had lost most of its fur, so it looked as if it had been flayed. Its exposed skin was the deep, dull purple of a bruise, and it was coated in an oily sheen, like a sausage. Stoat traps are often baited with eggs, and this one contained an empty shell. Kevin Adshead, who had set the trap, poked at the stoat with a screwdriver. It writhed and squirmed, as if attempting to rise from the dead. Then it disgorged a column of maggots.

“Look at those teeth,” Adshead said, pointing with his screwdriver at the decomposing snout.

Adshead, who is sixty-four, lives about an hour north of Auckland. He and his wife, Gill, own a thirty-five-hundred-acre farm, where for many years they raised cows and sheep. About a decade ago, they decided they’d had enough of farming and left to do volunteer work in the Solomon Islands. When they returned, they began to look at the place differently. They noticed that many of the trees on the property, which should have been producing cascades of red flowers around Christmastime, instead were stripped bare. That was the work of brushtail possums. To save the trees, the Adsheads decided to eliminate the possums, a process that involved dosing them with cyanide. . .

RWNZ windfall to benefit rural communities – Yvonne OHara:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) sold its home care organisation, Access Homehealth Limited (Access), to Green Cross Health for $18 million last month and intends to use the money to further enhance its charitable and advocacy work in rural communities.

Access, which had its beginnings in a 1920’s bush nurse scheme, provides home health care services to more than 16,000 people throughout New Zealand, including in Otago and Southland, and is one of the largest home care providers in the country, with contracts with DHBs, the Ministry of Health and ACC. Access chief executive Graeme Titcombe said Green Cross Health would continue to provide specialised home-based care and support, as well as funding the organisation’s rural scholarships and awards and Access’s 4000 staff would retain their jobs. . .

Ram breeder a CT scanning fan  – Tim Cronshaw:

A Canterbury ram stud breeder has become a convert to CT scanning after selling a southdown ram for $14,000.

Brent Macaulay, from Maclaka stud, Lincoln, was one of two breeders to take the top price honours, with Chris Medlicott’s ram from his Clifton Downs Southdown stud sharing the same price, at the Canterbury A&P Association’s Elite Ram and Ewe Sale last month.

Both breeders sent their sires through a Lincoln University CT scanner as ram hoggets to examine their bone and muscle composition.

Macaulay was so impressed that he will be sending another five or six rams with sires from other southdown breeders for CT scanning in February or March. . .

 

*                     *                 *

image Hat tip Utopia


%d bloggers like this: