Rural round-up

24/03/2021

Govt ‘naivety’ cause of crisis – Peter Burke:

Johnny Appleseed is one of the largest apple growers in New Zealand; director Paul Paynter says the current worker shortage crisis in the sector can be sheeted home to Government naivety.

He says when Covid-19 first hit the country – with many people losing their jobs and overseas workers stopped from coming to NZ – the Government was quick to claim it would provide an opportunity for Kiwis to take up jobs in the ag and hort sectors. However, he says while there has been some uptake, the reality has fallen well short of the enthusiastic expectations.

“It was just naïve optimism on the part of Government,” Paynter told Rural News.

He says people are not coming to the Hawkes Bay to pick apples for a number of reasons, the major one being the lack of accommodation. Paynter says there is a housing crisis in the region.

Drinking (milk) to economic recovery – The Detail:

When the price of milk surged 15 percent on the global dairy market earlier this month, even the boss of Fonterra was shocked.

“It was extraordinary,” says Jarden’s head of dairy derivatives, Mike McIntyre. “I’ve been following these auctions now for the better part of 10 years and I’ve seen it previously, but only in the past where we’ve been constrained.”

That was 2013 when the whole country was in drought and very little milk was being produced.

This time, says McIntyre, it is being driven by China’s thirst for milk.

“Last year, the Chinese government came out and essentially issued a directive to the public to say, to ward off the ill effects of Covid they should be consuming more than a glass of milk a day.” . . 

Covid-19 vaccine: Concerns over future uptake in rural areas – Riley Kennedy;

The government is being encouraged to think outside the box when rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine into rural communities.

Earlier this month, the government announced its plan to deliver the vaccine to the wider public.

From May, priority populations will be able to get the vaccine and from July, the remainder of the population will be able to get it.

There have been concerns from some health professionals that the uptake among people living in rural New Zealand could be slow – given some have to travel a long way to see their GP and therefore don’t always bother. . . 

Investing in consumers’ trust – Neal Wallace:

Meat companies are using the Taste Pure Nature brand alongside their own brands as they target environmentally-conscious foodie consumers.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) market development manager Nick Beeby told the organisation’s annual meeting that this demographic cares where their food comes from and are heavily influenced by digital channels such as food websites and bloggers who focus on natural foods.

They are considered a significant opportunity for NZ red meat sales, and Beeby says during the covid-19 pandemic consumers were increasingly discerning with their purchases, which was underpinned by the message associated with the B+LNZ developed taste pure nature brand.

“Consumers chose meat products that are better tasting, nutritious and satisfy environmental concerns,” Beeby said. . . 

A platform for red meat’s story – Neal Wallace:

A new website selling the virtues of red meat and dispelling some of its myths is being launched.

An initiative of Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), the Making Meat Better website will tell the sector’s story, and provide information and data, while reinforcing the merits of red meat.

The 150 people who attended the B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill this week were told the site will provide data and statistics about the red meat sector, sell the virtues of being grass-raised, its nutritional attributes, while also extolling the environmental stewardship of farmers.

Data on the site will provide a balance to some of the criticism about red meat and farming by providing information on farming’s carbon footprint, action being taken on climate change and provide infographic resources that can be used.  . . 

 

Showgirls, rural achievers shine the way for ag :

The bush has a wealth of young talent who are turning their fantastic ideas and aspirations into reality.

You only have to look at the pages in last week’s Land to find young people who are ready to act or are acting on their projects.

And they are motivated – either by issues that some members of older generations might not want to confront such as climate change – or value adding to the great contributions of previous generations.

They are doing this despite the enforced isolation of the last year from the pandemic. . . 


Rural round-up

08/03/2021

Experienced operators scarce as maize harvest ramps up– Gerald Piddock:

Agricultural contractors remain short of experienced operators as a bumper maize harvest gets underway across the North Island.

Contractors have been hard at work in Northland since early February, while further south in Waikato, harvest started a few weeks later.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) vice-president Helen Slattery says the New Zealanders that had been retrained and were employed by contractors were fitting in well in their new vocation.

“In saying that, we do still need those experienced harvest operators. You don’t learn how to operate a harvester in your first year,” Slattery said. . . .

Red meat sector exports reach $743.3 million in January 2021 :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $738.3 million in January 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Although this represented a 14% drop compared with January 2020, there was exceptionally strong demand for beef in China a year ago ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown and African Swine Fever was decimating Chinese pig herds, resulting in a surge in demand for other protein.

“Red meat exports hit record levels of $9.2 billion during 2020,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

 

Genetics gain facilitates lower cow numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

The national dairy herd already contains the calibre of cows that will be required in the future to allow farmers to reduce cow numbers without losing total farm productivity or profitability.

“We already have cows with the desired levels of productivity, we just need more of them,” LIC’s general manager of New Zealand Markets Malcolm Ellis said.

LIC says genetics are a big part of the dairy industry’s response to the Climate Change Commission’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction in agriculture.

NZ is already a low-emissions dairy producer, but the commission is signalling a 15% reduction in stock numbers in nine years. . .

Are the days of industrial fertiliser numbered? – Mark Daniel:

We’ve been encouraged to grow our own for many years, now researchers at two Sydney universities have found a way of making ‘green’ ammonia and say their discovery could provide a major boost to farmers and speed up a global push to renewable hydrogen fuel.

Chemical engineers at the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney say their method of making ammonia (NH3) from air, water and renewable electricity removes the need for high temperatures, high pressure and large infrastructure, currently needed to commercially produce the gas.

The new production system, demonstrated in laboratory trials, could potentially provide a solution to the problem of storing and transporting hydrogen energy.

So, is the day of reckoning coming for the world’s fertiliser manufacturers? . . 

Why we should be using wool carpets – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand had banned single use plastic bags, so why can’t we get rid of synthetic carpets? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

New Zealand banned single use plastic bags in 2019 from July 1.

Over 9000 people had their say in the consultation process, and the Ministry for the Environment took action. The aim was to reduce waste and protect the environment.

New Zealanders adapted so quickly that it is difficult to imagine how we could have been so profligate with plastic in the past. . . 

School leavers swap lazy days for hard yakka fruit picking on farmers’ Chinchilla melon farm – Vicki Thompson:

Brisbane school-leaver Rhys Burke never imagined he would end up picking watermelons under the blazing sun on a Chinchilla farm.

Four months ago, the city-based teenager answered the call from farmer Murray Sturgess, who was desperate for pickers to get his watermelon crop to market.

Rhys and school friend Aidan Stuart packed up and headed west, straight out of school into the hot paddocks of the Western Downs.

It is hard work after 13 years in the classroom, but, as Rees explains, “if you can survive the first three days, you’re sweet”. . . 


Rural round-up

28/02/2021

Meat processing industry supports move away from coal, but concerned about livestock cuts:

New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry is generally supportive of the Climate Change Commission’s draft report and its focus on reducing the use of fossil fuels but is concerned about the stated 15 per cent reduction in sheep, cattle and dairy numbers.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, says red meat processors and exporters are committed to reducing and eventually eliminating the use of coal, although achieving the commission’s 2037 target will be difficult.

“We do need a fair and just transition away from coal to ensure jobs and livelihoods are not put at risk.  However, our chief concern is any drop in livestock numbers may jeopardise the viability of some processing plants and jobs in rural communities.

“Meat processors rely on throughput of livestock to create efficiencies of scale and be profitable. The commission estimates that without major on-farm practice change and new technologies, a 15 per cent reduction in livestock numbers will be required to achieve the targets by 2030. This would have a serious impact on the ability of many processors to keep operating. . . 

Meat industry calls for Covid vaccine priority :

The meat processing and export industry wants its workforce to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the industry was considered high-risk, due to the large numbers of people working closely together.

Countries such as Australia, the US and the UK have all had Covid-19 outbreaks at meat processing facilities.

“We saw a significant increase in the spread of Covid in that workforce, which led to the closure of plants,” Karapeeva said. . . 

Time for UK to ‘walk the talk’ – Todd Muller:

One of life’s commercial shibboleths is that one should be wary of going into business with close friends because emotion is always involved.

But shibboleths are meant to be broken – as we have proven with our dear friend Australia over 40 years. You can have remarkably close economic relations with mates, and it can work.

You have to have a unifying idea (in our cases, closer economic integration and freedom of movement) and the strength of relationship to say it like it is.

So, I believe it’s time to address the elephant in the trading room. The eye-watering gap between the UK’s rhetoric on free trade and its current approach to NZ.  . .

 

Fonterra details how farmers will be paid for sustainable, high value milk :

Fonterra has released the details of how it will pay farmers for producing sustainable, high quality milk as part of The Co-operative Difference framework.

From 1 June 2021, up to 10 cents of each farm’s milk payment will be determined by the farm’s sustainability credentials and milk quality.

“Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s best in these areas and we’re really proud of that. The Co-operative Difference payment is another way we can recognise farmers, while also supporting our strategy to grow the value of our New Zealand milk by responding to increasing demand around the world for sustainably produced dairy,” says Richard Allen, Group Director, Farm Source. . . 

Volume of wine on the rise :

The total volume of wine available for consumption in New Zealand rose in 2020, Stats NZ said today.

“The volume of wine available to the New Zealand market was up 4.3 percent in 2020, in contrast to falls in each of the previous two years,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.

“This year’s wine volume available to the domestic market is nearly 113 million litres, surpassing the previous high of 2017.”

The volume of wine made from grapes rose 4.9 percent to 94 million litres, following falls of 2.7 percent in 2019, and 2.6 percent in 2018. . . 

FarmIQ adds value to compliance:

The demands on farmers to become more compliant have grown significantly in only five short years, with expectations from the public, processors and government all requiring greater accountability for how resources of land, water and people are managed.

Regardless of what government is running New Zealand, it is more likely than not the regulations proposed or in place around water and land management are not going to change significantly. New Zealand’s need to stake its reputation as a food producer delivering high quality, sustainable products requires regulatory effort to deliver on that promise.

As the demands around compliance have grown, the ability to capture data that proves a farmer is compliant in areas of environmental management, health and safety and ultimately green-house gas emissions has never been greater. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/02/2021

Dismay at conversion to forestry – Sally Rae:

Among the steps the newly  formed Climate Change Commission laid out in its recently issued draft advice to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets was more forestry. It recommended slashing livestock numbers by about 15% by 2030 and planting 380,000ha of new exotic forestry by 2035. In North Otago, the proposed conversion of a 2590ha sheep, beef and deer property to carbon forestry is creating waves as concerns are raised about environmental impacts and fears that forestry conversions are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as other land use changes.  Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

“I just think it’s an absolute injustice, it’s a crime to have that land put into trees.”

North Otago farmer Murray Simpson has farmed Balmoral, near Tokarahi, for 45 years. The property neighbours Hazeldean, a 2590ha sheep, beef and deer farm in the headwaters of the Kakanui River catchment which appears destined to be planted out in pine trees.

The property is in the throes of being sold to New Zealand Carbon Farming — the largest provider of carbon credits in Australasia. Not mincing his words, Mr Simpson fears the development will be “an absolute shambles”. . . .

Exotic plantations to have a ‘crucial role’ :

The Forest Owners Association says the Climate Change Commission has endorsed the “crucial role” exotic forestry will carry out in meeting New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emission targets in 2030 and 2050.

In a recent statement, president Phil Taylor said the 380,000ha of new exotic plantations the commission anticipates will need to be planted between now and 2035 will be the “support act” for the commission’s targets of massive reductions of the overall carbon dioxide emissions from industry and transport.

“This decarbonisation has to be the thrust of meeting New Zealand’s climate change mitigation obligations. Anything else is delaying solving the problem. Pines are great at buying time, but they don’t cut gross emissions themselves,” Mr Taylor said. . .

Kiwi research on infant milk powder colour goes global :

A Wintec science student Rehana Ponnal has had research published in the International Dairy Journal late last year, a big accomplishment for an undergraduate student.

Done while Rehana was on a work placement at Fonterra, the research tested the effectiveness of using a colorimeter to measure the colour of baby milk powder. Rehana worked on the research with a number of other scientists, and the journal entry, published in September last year, gives positive results of their findings.

As a result of the research, Fonterra is procuring a colorimeter to continue their testing.

“Colour is measured because it’s an important aspect of a product. It’s the first thing you perceive. If milk powder was brown for instance, you wouldn’t buy it,” she says. . . 

Red meat exports reached record highs in 2020 :

The New Zealand red meat sector exported $9.2 billion worth of products during 2020, an increase of 1% on the previous year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports during the year reached historically high levels – and were 7% above 2018 exports ($8.6 billion) and 21% above 2017 ($7.6 billion).

“The results demonstrate that New Zealand’s red meat exports have remained stable despite the challenges of the global pandemic,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. “That is great news for the New Zealand economy and for farmers.

We have a diverse market portfolio and last year exported products to 111 countries around the world. . . 

Wairarapa peas harvested for first time in more than four years:

Wairarapa peas are being harvested for the first time in over four years.

ban was placed on growing peas in the region in 2016, after the discovery of pea weevil.

Production was allowed to resume last year after the Ministry for Primary Industries announced the insect pest had been successfully eradicated. . .

Silver Fern Farms pulling out of contract with Hawke’s Bay’s Graeme Lowe Tannery, union says – Thomas Airey:

The union for workers at Graeme Lowe Tannery says staff have been told a large contract with Silver Fern Farms will not be renewed.

The Hastings tannery is one of the biggest hide processing plants in the country and is owned by Lowe Corporation.

Lowe Corp has interests in other agri-business companies, property and farming around NZ.

The tannery’s exact number of employees is unknown but in 2020 Graeme Lowe Tannery Limited applied for 80 employees to be paid under the initial Covid-19 wage subsidy, then 90 employees in the wage subsidy extension. . . 


Rural round-up

31/12/2020

Tasman growers and farmers brace for lasting damage from hail storm – Tracy Neal:

Farmers and growers are counting the cost – thought to be in the tens of millions of dollars – of the Boxing Day hailstorm in Tasman.

It shredded vineyards, smashed greenhouses, dented and bruised apples, kiwifruit and hops and severely damaging buildings in Motueka.

Some say it was the worst hailstorm in living memory, in a region where recent summers have been marred by cyclones, floods, and fires. . .

Brexit: EU-UK deal hurts NZ exporters says  Beef + Lamb :

The meat industry is urging the government to fight new quotas for local exporters as part of new trade deal between the UK and European Union.

The post-Brexit agreement will mean access will be more controlled.

A new quota will force Kiwi sheep and beef exporters to split their product between the UK and EU, even if one of the markets is not going well.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said it was a major step back in trade. . . 

High season for rural theft – Mark Daniel:

Rural insurance company FMG claims data has shown that January is the time when thieves are out and about looking to relieve farmers and rural dwellers of their property.

Stephen Cantwell, FMG’s manager advice services, says theft is the leading cause of farm contents claims at that time of year.

“January appears to be the month when thieves are at their most active, resulting in a higher number of claims, but also with average values up by 23%,” he says.

The rural insurance specialist suggests there are actions people can take to help to deter thieves targeting your property. . . 

Concerns over ‘rural generalists’ as doctors in Greymouth – Lois WIlliams:

Is rural generalism best for the Coast?

In recent weeks, various medics and their union have – unusually for the profession – aired their views in this paper on the use of ‘rural generalists’, a new breed of doctor increasingly being employed on the West Coast to work both in hospitals and at GP clinics.

For the West Coast District Health Board, ‘rural generalists’ or rural health specialists, as they’re also known, are a godsend: the answer to the region’s perennial difficulties in attracting specialists and GPs. But the senior doctors union, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, has warned of their potential to displace more highly-trained doctors, and ultimately reduce West Coast residents’ access to that level of care. What is the community supposed to make of this? What exactly are rural generalists and how safe are people in their hands? . .

Conduit for growers, researchers – Colin Williscroft:

Late last month Kiwifruit Vine Health liaison adviser and technical specialist Linda Peacock received the Minister’s Award at the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, recognising more than 30 years of dedicated service to the industry. Colin Williscroft reports.

When Linda Peacock received her award from Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor she told the Wellington audience that a key part of her work involves providing a link between growers and researchers to ensure the collaboration the industry is renowned for continues.

“I talk to people,” Peacock said.

“I help people on the land understand what some of the big words mean and I tell scientists what those people want and have to know, so they can do what they do. . . 

Developing a Great Pyrenees into a poultry guardian – Uptown Farms:

When we first started raising working Great Pyrenees puppies, our dogs went almost exclusively to sheep and goat farms or occasionally to guard cattle herds. But initially, we fielded no requests at all for poultry dogs.

Fast forward to today, and sometimes as many as half the pups in a single Uptown Farms litter are being sent to farms to actively guard birds. Below are some considerations we share with our customers who are looking for poultry or small animal guardians. Please note, we do currently have birds at Uptown Farms, but this is a combination of advice and tips from our customers through the years who have successfully developed poultry dogs. For information on bringing home a livestock guardian, please refer here.

1. Start with a working dog. Starting with a working pup is the most important step for whatever type of working dog you are needing. . .


Rural round-up

07/12/2020

Real meat is green – Viv Forbes:

Wandering recently through an arcade popular with the green smoothie set, I saw a sign boasting: “Plant Based Meat”.

Someone should advise those nutritional dunderheads that all real meat is plant-based. Real beef and lamb are built from live plants like grasses, lucerne and mulga, plus salt, minerals and clay; the best chicken is built mostly on seeds and shoots of wheat, corn and grasses plus a few worms, insects and gizzard-grit; and when I was a kid our bacon was built by porkers from pollard, whey and vegetable scraps.

Cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, deer, bison, rabbits, turkeys and kangaroos have a long history of providing meat for our ancestral hunters and farmers. In tough times the gatherers and gardeners collected and cultivated survival foods like wild onions, seasonal fruit, cabbages, tubers and grass seeds. But there was always a celebratory feast when the hunters returned with high-nutrition meat. . . 

Meat sector’s five-year targeted plan – Neal Wallace:

The meat sector has outlined four goals for the next five years, which it says will target the sustainable growth of value and enhance people, animals and the environment.

The heart of the strategy, set by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), is to generate sustainable profits, premium value, vibrant communities and to be trusted guardians. 

Sustainable profits will come from greater innovation, performance and productivity; premium value from creating and capturing value; vibrant communities from economic growth and employment; and trusted guardianship from being guardians of reputation, animals, water and land.

The latest strategy follows the Red Meat Sector Strategy from 2011 and establishes the priorities B+LNZ and the MIA will work on with industry partners over the next five years. . . 

Contribution to wellbeing recognised – Mark Daniel:

Farmstrong is tipping its hat to the farmers and growers of New Zealand who have contributed to it winning two awards at the recent 2020 New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards.

Farmstrong took out the sector leadership and overall honours with the Supreme Award. The judges highlighted that Farmstrong’s intense focus on the mental health of the rural community…”with a programme that seeks to engage with farmers in a relatable and authentic way, which a generation ago would have seemed unlikely”.

“Everyday farmers and growers have driven this programme by sharing their personal wellbeing stories and, with it, giving other farmers and growers the permission, confidence and practical ideas on how they can invest in their own wellbeing,” says Farmstrong project manager Gerard Vaughan. . . 

Big toys for old boys – Tom Hunter:

Attentive readers of this blog – especially our TDS-infused Lefties – will have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much as normal, even as an important US election has been playing out.

There’s a simple reason for this, and it’s based on something I spotted some months ago via our linked blog, Home Paddock.

With the border closures in early 2020 every agricultural contractor found themselves in trouble because they had come to rely upon a flow of young English and Irish guys who knew how to drive combine harvesters, side-dressers, planters and the rest of the complex, computerised machinery that is the basis of modern farming. Think of them as the harvesting version of snow bums who follow Winter around the world’s skifields.

As a result of this, contractors have been forced to call on guys like me; old bastards who last drove tractors decades ago. But the call had gone out, so in the manner of the Soviet call for all hands on deck in 1941, I decided to give it a crack. . . 

Fonterra forks out for Christmas – Hugh Stringleman:

The 20c increase in advance payments will deliver $300 million more into farmers’ bank accounts, more than half of it before Christmas.

The new range is $6.70 to $7.30 and the midpoint has risen from $6.80 to $7.

When back-paid, the 20c increase in advance payments will deliver $300 million more into farmers’ bank accounts, more than half of it before Christmas.

The widely anticipated upgrade for the milk price accompanied its first quarter trading results, including a 40% increase in normalised earnings compared with the previous corresponding period. . .

Brexit is a betrayal of Britain’s farms – James Rebanks:

I think George Eustice, the PR man turned Secretary of State for the Environment, was still telling homely stories about his Cornish farming grandfather when my mobile phone starting ringing. I was moving my flock of sheep down a lane with my sheepdogs and had planned to catch up with the news when I got back to the farmhouse. I looked at the missed calls then stuffed the phone back in my pocket.

Lots of people, including journalists and friends, were calling to ask what I made of the new agricultural policies announced by Mr Eustice. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised: I wrote a book called English Pastoral about how farming and nature in this country got into this mess, so people expect me to have some kind of intelligent opinion on what is happening and whether it is good or bad. And so, having read the documents and listened to Mr Eustice, here is mine.

Our agricultural policies are going to change — hugely — from what they have been under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). And since the tragic decline of biodiversity on British farmland happened under that policy, this is overall a welcome development. . .


Rural round-up

15/11/2020

‘Frustration and desperation’ as harvest workers struggle to enter NZ – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural contractors and farmers are “beside themselves with frustration and desperation” at the log jam in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, despite 100 new rooms being made available on Monday.

Rural Contactors chief executive Roger Parton said in a statement that the industry was at crisis point trying to get sufficient labour into the country, after suffering a series of delays and setbacks already.

The Cabinet approved 210 border exemptions for rural contractors in September but many have not yet made it in.

Parton said that unless more managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities were made available urgently only one third of workers approved by the Cabinet would make itto New Zealand. . . 

Likely reduction in overseas travellers picking blueberries in Southland – Jamie Searle and Jo Mckenzie-Mclean:

A blueberry farm manager is hopeful he’ll get 100 workers needed to pick this summer’s crop but with borders being closed the usual tourists are scarce to hire.

Blueberry Country Southland general manager Simon Bardon said up to 100 extra staff could be needed during the six-week season, starting in early to mid-January, at the company’s farm near Otautau.

“We are facing challenges [to get workers] but every business in New Zealand is facing its own challenges.

“Covid-19 has made us all nervous, it’s changed the environment.” . . 

Challenges of new job ‘invigorating’ – Sally Rae:

Sirma Karapeeva began her new role as chief executive of the Meat Industry Association on April 9 this year — “slap bang in the middle of Covid”.

While the timing might have appeared a little unfortunate, there was no choice and she took it in her stride.

“To be honest, in crisis comes resilience and creativity and energy,” she said.

It was fortunate Ms Karapeeva had worked in the organisation for five years and knew its membership well. . . 

Genetic diagnosis life-changing – Yvonne O’Hara:

Allesha Ballard feels like her life is on hold as she waits for a date for surgery to have her stomach removed.

As she waits, life on a Southland dairy farm has become even more important.

The Dacre contract milker decided on the operation after she and her two siblings tested positive for the inherited cancer-causing gene CDH1.

She and her brother, Josh Ballard, and sister, Melissa Thompson, had watched a programme about singer Stan Walker, who had inherited the gene and later developed stomach cancer, then had his stomach removed.

Their father, Bryce Ballard, had died from stomach cancer nine years earlier. . . 

Applications open for 2021 Meat Industry Association scholarships:

Students considering a future career in New Zealand’s red meat sector are encouraged to apply for a Meat Industry Association Scholarship.

Six undergraduate scholarships providing $5,000 a year for each year of study and four post-graduate awards of $10,000 a year for each year of study are awarded to the successful applicants.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said the awards are aimed at scholars who are looking to contribute their skills to New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Our scholarships provide a great pathway for undergraduate or graduate students into what is a productive, innovative and progressive sector. There are significant and exciting opportunities for young people.” . . 

Lambpro ram sale becomes highest grossing single vendor Australian stud sale -Lucy Kinbacher:

The Lambpro prime lamb brand cemented itself in the seedstock record books last week as the highest grossing single vendor beef or sheep studstock sale in the country.

In a year when the supply of sires has struggled to keep up with buyer demand, Holbrook’s Tom Bull and his team didn’t struggle to clear just over 1200 ram lambs across two days for an overall average of $3295 and gross of $3.977 million.

On Thursday 304 of 327 terminal and Lambpro Tradie rams sold to average $1459 before auctioneer Paul Dooley and Elders agent Ross Milne raced through 903 Primeline Maternal rams in four hours on Friday to average $3913 and top at $15,000 to Buckley Farms, Mt Gambier, South Australia.

Sometimes it took them just 40 to 50 seconds to sell individual lots. . . 


Rural round-up

13/11/2020

MIA wary as second wave hits

New Zealand’s red meat trade continues to generate crucial export revenue but with the full economic impact of covid-19 yet to hit, the industry cannot afford to be complacent.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the red meat processing and exporting sector has been NZ’s success story during the covid-19 crisis but with further disruptions in the global markets expected, she urged caution. 

“The red meat processing and exporting sector has been a real success story during the covid-19 crisis and continues to generate crucial export revenue for the country when other sectors are facing significant headwinds,” she said. . . 

North Otago farmers call for more fire ponds  – Kayla Hodge:

A large fire has highlighted the need for a greater water supply in one of the “driest areas” in North Otago.

Last month, a blaze in a pine forestry block near Livingstone burnt through 611ha.

At a public meeting with officials last week, farmers asked if there was a plan to install more water in the area, to help fight fires.

One farmer, whose pond was used during the emergency, knew there was no water for the helicopters to use when the October 4 fire started. . . 

How are you dealing with change? :

Farming into the future is changing in New Zealand to meet consumer demand – but change can be scary.

 Sarah’s Country host Sarah Perriam has teamed up with Farmlands to bring you a thought-provoking seminar series at AgFest on November 13-14.

Join the conversation at the Farmlands site during AgFest dealing with change and advice on the season ahead from the Technical and Growth and Innovation teams.
You won’t want to miss these expert panel discussions covering topics specific to West Coast challenges, as well as dealing with national regulation changes. . . 

Car-racing farm manager artificially inseminates more than 25,000 dairy cows in 10-year career :

It is 3.15am on a calm spring morning as Dannevirke dairy farmer Tania Cresswell slides on her gumboots and heads outside.

The 29-year-old manages her parents’ 55-hectare dairy farm at Papatawa, milking 160 predominately Holstein Friesian cows.

Cresswell jumps on to a two-wheeler motorbike, giving it a kick-start. The engine roars to life, piercing the pre-dawn silence.

It is not long before the farm’s 14-aside milking shed starts to fill with cows gently jostling for position and eager to be milked. . . 

LIC invests in first of two start-ups to deliver more value to dairy farmers:

LIC has increased its level of investment in its AgCelerator™ Fund and announced its first two investments designed to deliver more value to New Zealand dairy farmers. The cooperative has confirmed investments in New Zealand-based TrackBack and Mastaplex.

Auckland-based TrackBack uses blockchain technology in the agriculture sector to provide trust and transparency through the supply chain for global confidence in quality, integrity and provenance. Fuelled by the pandemic, traceability is increasingly front of mind for consumers and the data LIC holds on animal health is an important contribution to providing quality assurances for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The other business LIC is investing in is Dunedin-based Mastaplex which has developed a proprietary mastitis testing device, Mastatest®.  . . 

New chief scientist Cathy Foley to get research out of the lab – Sally Whyte:

Australia’s incoming chief scientist wants to help Australia’s “fabulous” research move beyond the laboratory and “turn it into prosperity and impact”.

Dr Cathy Foley, currently the chief scientist at the CSIRO, will take over from Dr Alan Finkel at the start of next year, and she has a long to-do list, much of it continuing the work she has already been doing at the national science research agency.

The world-renowned physicist wants to continue increasing diversity in science, increasing work in national preparedness, and championing “research translation” – moving discoveries beyond the theoretical and into making a difference in people’s lives.

“We’ve got fabulous research in Australia, but everyone knows we haven’t necessarily been able to take that from the laboratory bench turn it into prosperity and impact in a whole range of ways,” Dr Foley said. . . 


Rural round-up

11/10/2020

Meat processing and exporting jobs in jeopardy unless specialist migrants are allowed to remain :

New Zealand’s meat processing and exporting sector faces being forced to limit production and let people go unless the Government recognises the essential role of its skilled migrant workforce.

Around a third of the country’s 250 essential halal processing workers, who help generate more than $3 billion in export earnings every year, will have to leave New Zealand next year due to the Government’s one-year stand-down policy.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA), said the loss of halal processing people — alongside hundreds of other essential meat workers — could result in reduced production and job losses in the sector, which is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Most of the 42 halal processing plants in New Zealand now operate between 10-12 months per year. A shortage of skilled halal processing people could result in production at many plants being limited to six months in the year, which would mean processing of livestock for farmers is severely disrupted and employees might be let go. . . 

Breeding beef to reduce N leaching :

Ben and Yvonne Lee weren’t born into farming but have taken it up with vigour.

They run Bluestone Herefords, 30 minutes inland from Timaru, on 600ha of tussock and rolling foothills, ranging from 300-550 metres altitude. The South Canterbury farm will mate about 300 cows this season. 

Yvonne, once a police officer, manages the farm day-to-day while Ben, formerly a lawyer, runs an animal health firm in Timaru. As stud owners, their cattle genetics are based squarely on client demand, typified by a growing call for cattle with low nitrogen output. . . 

Dairy data should delight Covid recovery monitors while discouraging industry detractors – Point of Order:

Farmers  are   back in the  frame  as  the  backbone  of  NZ’s  export economy,  after the  Covid-induced collapse of  the foreign  exchange earning capacity  of the  tourist  and international education industries.  But  it  is not  only  the  rural  industries themselves which  are  scrutinising bulletins  on  the  prices  being  earned  abroad  for  commodities.  Those data have  become a  vital  item  for  New Zealanders eager  to  monitor the recovery of an economy  battered  by a  one-in -100  year  event.

This  week  the  ANZ  reported  its  world commodity  price  index   had  eased  0.2%  in September as lower dairy and meat prices were largely offset by stronger prices for logs and fruit.

In local currency terms the index fell 1.3% as the NZ$ strengthened by 0.6% on a trade weighted index  basis during  the  month.

Hard on the heels  of those figures came   the  results   of  the latest  Fonterra  global  dairy   trade auction  where  the   average  price   strengthened  to  $US3143  a  tonne  and  wholemilk  powder (which  plays a  significant  role  on  Fonterra’s payout to  suppliers)  rose  1.7%  to  $3041  a  tonne. . . 

Clinton Young Farmer wins Otago contest – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Otago district skills final for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition was contested at Gimmberburn on Saturday.

Organised by the Maniototo Young Farmers Club, the competition attracted 10 entrants who completed 10 modules and later a quiz round.

The winner was George Blyth, of Clinton, with Josh Johanson, of Ida Valley, second, Adam Callaghan, of St Bathans, third and Matt Sullivan, of Oturehua, was fourth.

Club chairman Josh Harrex said the top four would go forward to compete in the regional final in Southland in March. . . 

Primary Industries NZ Awards finalists named:

Judges faced tough decisions choosing finalists for the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards, with no shortage of contenders.

The six independent judges deliberated over 40 nominations across the six award categories for the second annual PINZ awards, which are to be held at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington on November 23.

“More than ever New Zealand needs the primary sector to be innovative and enterprising,” Federated Farmers Chief Executive Terry Copeland says. 

“For our farmers, growers, foresters and fishers to continue to be at the top of their game as producers of quality goods exported to the world, we need suppliers and support agencies of the calibre of these finalists who can help us with cutting-edge technology and back-up.”

The finalists are: . . 

Piper in the paddock – Toni Williams:

The skirl of the pipes can be heard among the cows in Lagmhor as dairy farmer Joseph Williams plays a warm-up tune to his captive audience.

The cows are unfazed and continue grazing.

Mr Williams learned to play the bagpipes during his primary school years in his homeland of Scotland and, since relocating to New Zealand for work opportunities, has taken up with the Ashburton Pipe Band.

“There is a strong music culture at school,” he said, and the bagpipes were taken up in primary and secondary school, first learning finger movements on a practice chanter (similar to a recorder) before advancing to the bagpipes.

Mr Williams admits he wasn’t as committed to the bagpipes as he should have been through his teenage years and then flatting while at university in Aberdeen, Scotland. . . 


Rural round-up

08/10/2020

Changes just don’t add up :

Farmer Jane Smith claims that farmers find comments from David Parker, Damien O’Connor and the Green Party’s James Shaw nauseating.

“This is our licence to operate with our global trading partners and will attract added-value premiums,” she says.

“This lacks any metric or rationale,” says Smith. “We are creating our own hurdles at a rate higher than any other primary producer in the world. For every dollar spent on food worldwide, the farmer receives on average, less than 10 cents.”

This is a topic of discussion Smith often has with offshore peers around the Global Farmer Roundtable.  . . 

Critic calls for major investigation into freshwater reforms :

Award-winning, environmentally-focused farmer Jane Smith wonders whether she’s farming in North Otago or North Korea.

She is calling for a full review into the process behind Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) Fresh Water National Policy Statement – particularly around the recent legislation for winter grazing practices and land use categorised solely on slope.

“The public have been sold a sanitised version of the truth and are going to pay an unacceptable price for what I suggest is effectively an abuse of legislative power,” she told Rural News.

While Smith is opposed to the punitive regulations in their current form, it is the process that she is challenging – rather than the outcome itself. She says her time in a myriad of governance roles have shown the importance of transparency in procedure behind every decision.  . .

Fonterra sells farms in China to reduce debt get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy  giant  Fonterra  has  scooped in  $555 million by selling  its   China  farms  and is now aiming to unload   its yogurt business, a partnership with Nestle, located in Brazil, as  it  pursues  its  strategy of seeking  greater value, rather than volume,  in its  business.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell   conceded  the  China  farm  business

“ … has  been a tough journey for us along the way, we had to take an impairment to that asset in 2019 and again in 2020 so certainly they haven’t been as operationally effective as we would have liked.  That said, we have made significant progress of late and that’s put us in a better position to sell these assets.”

Fonterra  is  expected    to  use   the proceeds to pay  down  debt  which under  Hurrell’s  watch  has  already been trimmed  in the past year  to $4.7bn  after  peaking at  $7.1bn.  . . 

Lift in sheepmeat exports to Europe and UK shows importance of retaining WTO tariff quota:

New Zealand sheepmeat exports rose 12 per cent by volume and five per cent by value in August compared to a year ago, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

A fall in sheepmeat exports to China (-13% by value) was offset by a significant increase in demand from the UK and Europe despite the uncertainty of the fast-approaching Brexit.

A total of 2,044 tonnes of sheepmeat was exported to the UK in August 2020, a 43 per cent increase on August 2019. Exports to the Netherlands rose by 80 per cent and to Germany by 30 per cent. France and Belgium also saw increases. . .

New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle lands on shelves:

Anchor has added to its Blue range, with a new 2L bottle made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material

    • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which research indicates is increasingly important to consumers.

Anchor is set to launch New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle which is 100% kerbside recyclable, and aligns with Fonterra’s commitment to have all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Anchor Blue 2L in the new plant-based bottle will land on shelves across New Zealand’s North Island from October 13th. And while it’s still filled with the same fresh NZ dairy milk from Fonterra farmers – the bottle is made from sugarcane. . . 

Stahmann Farms plants close to 40,000 more pecan trees at Pallamallawa property near Moree – Sophie Harris:

Trawalla has well and truly cemented its place as the largest pecan nut farm in the southern hemisphere, with close to 40,000 more pecan trees planted at the Pallamallawa property in north west NSW over the past few weeks.

A total of 39,000 pecan trees have been planted on 195 hectares of Trawalla’s neighbouring property, Long Creek, over the past five weeks. 

This brings the total number of trees in the ground on Stahmann Farms’ Pallamallawa operation, including Trawalla, Red Bank and Loch Lomond, to 150,000. . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2020

Southland Federated Farmers plan ‘town and country’ hui over freshwater rules  – Rachael Kelly:

Southland’s farmers are being encouraged to drive their (road registered) tractors or utes to a ‘town and country hui’ being organised to inform people about the new freshwater regulations – and townies are invited too.

Southland Federated Farmers and the Southland Chamber of Commerce are hosting the hui at Queen’s Park in Invercargill on October 9, to ‘’bring town and country together over something that affects us all,’’ Southland Federated Farmers president Geoff Young said.

“This isn’t just about farmers. We all live off the land, so this will bring town and country together to highlight some of the concerns farmers have about the new freshwater rules are, and what the ramifications are for us all.” . . 

How agritech can provide the green shoots for NZ’s post-Covid economic recovery – Wayne McNee:

In the wake of Covid-19, New Zealand should be focusing on industries that can help drive our economic recovery and growth over time.

While some of our key sectors have been hit hard, the dairy industry, and wider food sector, is well-positioned to continue to deliver for Kiwis through Covid-19 and help our economy get back on its feet.

But like all sectors, particularly at the moment, the dairy industry needs to keep evolving to meet new challenges head-on and maximise new opportunities.

With Kiwis relying on the primary sector to help lead them out of this crisis, agritech has a vital role to play. . . 

 

$50m commitment not enough for farmers — National:

Labour’s $50 million commitment to support integrated farm planning will do little for farmers, claims National’s ag spokesperson David Bennett.

He says Labour doesn’t back farmers and today’s announcement will do little to ease burden of meeting regulations.

“Today’s promises around farm environment plans will do little to alleviate the individual farm cost and won’t necessarily mean that there will be a streamlined process for all farmers,” says Bennett.

“Labour can’t be trusted to deliver reasonable and rational rules when farmers know the true intentions of their party.“. . .

Cow-shy hairdresser now cutting it – Yvonne O’Hara:

Before she met her dairy farmer partner, hairdresser Ashleigh Sinclair did not own a pair of gumboots and was scared of cows.

Now she co-owns 20.

She spends most weekends with Clint Cummings on his family’s 106ha, 230-cow Wyndham dairy farm.

“I started off being petrified of cows, and going out on the farm was a challenge for me, but now I’ve seen how friendly they are and I love spending time with them. . . 

Scholarship opportunity firms up career – Yvonne O’Hara:

Ella Zwagerman intends to follow a food science career in the meat industry, and after a recent trip to Wellington as part of the Meat Industry Association’s scholarship programme is even more convinced it is the best path for her.A trip to Wellington as part of the Meat Industry Association scholarship programme helped convince Ella Zwagerman she was on the right career path.

Ms Zwagerman’s parents are dairy farmers at Isla Bank, near Invercargill, and she is studying for a bachelor of science (human nutrition) at Otago University.

She and 10 other scholars were hosted by the MIA in Wellington earlier this month and spent the day listening to speakers from several meat industry organisations, the Ministry for Primary Industries and AgResearch, and people who had various careers within the sector such as trade, food safety, nutrition, science and engineering. . .

Kiwi farmers identify pros and cons of conservation :

New Zealand farmers identified a wide range of advantages connected with on-farm biodiversity in a recent scientific survey.

The study, which surveyed 500 sheep and beef farmers from around Aotearoa, received nearly 700 responses that described advantages to managing and protecting biodiversity on their land.

While most participants were male Pākehā/NZ European over the age of 45, responses to the questions showed a huge variety of viewpoints when it came to native biodiversity on farms.

“This study highlighted that many farmers associate a range of values and benefits with biodiversity on-farm, spanning social, environmental and economic themes,” lead author Dr Fleur Maseyk from The Catalyst Group said . . 

Countryside improvements fund could be raided – Roger Harrabin:

A budget designed to fund improvements to Britain’s countryside is set to be raided, the BBC has learned.

Cash will be diverted away from ambitious conservation projects and towards protecting farm businesses.

The government previously promised that the £3bn currently paid to farms under EU agriculture policy would be wholly used to support the environment.

Ministers had said that, after Brexit, farmers would have to earn their subsidies. . .


Rural round-up

08/08/2020

Expect increased rates costs from new government freshwater laws:

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

“We all want good water quality, that’s why farmers and growers have been spending time and money for decades doing all they can on-farm,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Millions of trees, hundreds of miles of fencing, sediment management, nitrogen controls … all these things are improving rural water quality.”

While there is still a good deal of detail Federated Farmers is working through to get a better understanding of to communicate to its members, “we do have concerns around the wording of the National Policy Statement. . . 

Red meat exports record seven percent increase year on year :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exported $9.4 billion of sheepmeat, beef and co-products for the year ending June 2020, according to the latest analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector saw an increase of $639 million – or seven per cent – compared to the year ending June 2019.

China remained the largest market for the year ending June 2020, accounting for $3.7 billion of New Zealand’s red meat exports. This was an increase of 24 per cent on the previous June year – and was partly driven by China’s demand for red meat protein as a result of the impact of African Swine Fever. . . 

More hands needed for milk processing – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has made a strong start to the dairy season and has more than 150 seasonal vacancies in its processing division spread throughout the country, director of manufacturing, Alan van der Nagel says.

The processing jobs at 30 manufacturing sites are among 770 current vacancies throughout Fonterra, including corporate roles, technicians, field staff and working in the Farm Source stores.

“We do gear up for the peak milk processing demand and we are looking for a wide range of skills and abilities,” van der Nagel said.

“We give the appropriate training and there are opportunities for re-skilling at a time when a lot of people are out of work.” . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s recognition of the importance of  vegetable growing in NZ in freshwater decisions:

Horticulture New Zealand is welcoming recognition of the importance of vegetable growing in the Government’s new national direction on freshwater management.

‘HortNZ has worked with growers in Pukekohe and Horowhenua to demonstrate to central and local government that modern vegetable growing techniques dramatically reduce environmental impact,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘Over the past decade, vegetable growers across New Zealand have been taking practical steps to reduce environmental impact through precision irrigation and fertilizer application, sediment traps and buffer zones, retiring land, and riparian planting. . . 

NZ apple industry on track to become a billion dollar export business :

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the representative industry body for the apple, pear and nashi industry, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hastings today, with members joining from around the country’s growing regions via Zoom.

With NZAPI’s financial year ending 31 March 2020, the published results were for the 2019 growing season and 2019/20 selling season, meaning that they reflect trading conditions pre- COVID-19.

Gross volume for the 2019/20 crop reached 566,200 metric tonnes (mT), similar to the previous year. The proportion of the crop that is exported rose 5 percent to 395,000 mT. . . 

Resilient Ravensdown responds with strong $69m profit – returning $68 million to farming:

After ensuring essential food-creating nutrients kept flowing during the pandemic, Ravensdown has recorded a profit from continuing operations and before tax, rebate and an earlier issue of bonus shares of $69 million (2019: $52m).

Returning a total of $68 million to its eligible farmer shareholders, the co-operative is confident in its financial strength and cautiously optimistic in the face of uncertainty around Covid-19 and emerging government policy.

“The resilience demonstrated was no accident, but deliberately built over five years of steadfast focus on fundamentals and performance. It meant that we could respond when shareholders needed us most and when New Zealand needed the agsector most,” said CEO Greg Campbell. . . 


Rural round-up

19/06/2020

Rural communities under threat from carbon off-setting farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural communities are being hollowed out as carbon investors buy up farm land at prices well over those farmers might pay, Pahiatua sheep and beef farmer Lincoln Grant says.

School closures were just one symptom of the trend towards increased pine plantations on former sheep and beef farms, he said. Tiraumea school, north of Masterton, is one school that closed its doors two years ago after changing land use led to dropping role numbers.

As farming families sold up and moved away, jobs went with them. . .

The challenge of meeting environmental rules – Peter Burke:

Complying with new and stricter environmental requirements is for farmers a major challenge worldwide.

When Rural News reporter Peter Burke was in Ireland last year, he met up with Professor Tommy Boland of University College Dublin (UCD) who, like colleagues in NZ, is looking to find practical solutions that farmers can use to reduce their environmental footprint and somehow meet the new standards of policy makers and politicians.

Tommy Boland has been to New Zealand several times and understands the situation in this country.

He says both countries are recognised for their efforts and achievements in environmental pasture-based meat, milk and fibre production, while leading the way in developing new approaches to ensuring future sustainability. . .   

Study beefs up meat’s importance:

New research highlights value of New Zealand’s red meat sector as the industry launches its general election manifesto. 

The red meat sector’s contributes $12 billion in income to the economy and employs almost 5% of the full-time workforce.

The study commissioned by the Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb shows the meat processing and exporting sector is also responsible for $4.6b in household income and represents a fifth of New Zealand’s productive sector. 

The release of the research by S G Heilbron Economic and Policy Consulting coincides with B+LNZ and the MIA launching a joint manifesto ahead of the election.  . . 

Terrible news: the avocado crime gangs are about to strike again – Hayden Donnell:

For four years running, at the exact same time of year, New Zealand has been savaged by gangs of avocado thieves. Hayden Donnell sounds the alarm about the country’s most predictable crisis.

They come every year like clockwork. As winter starts to bite, and our summer produce hits its peak price point, the thieves rouse themselves and head out to pillage. They always have the same target. They usually have the same MO. In the dead of night, they steal our avocados.

This year, their timing couldn’t be worse. Most New Zealanders are still reeling from the Covid-19 lockdown. We’re slowly readjusting to normal life: blinking like stunned owls at the white lights of the newly reopened retail stores. Struggling to remember the way to our offices. The last thing we need is another crisis. . .

Silver Fern Farms no available direct to customers with Gourmet Direct partnership:

Silver Fern Farms’ full retail range of natural, grass-fed, premium red meat products are now available to be ordered online and delivered direct to consumers across New Zealand thanks to a new partnership with Gourmet Direct, a nationwide e-commerce business specialising in premium New Zealand meat products.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says the partnership with Gourmet Direct was a natural fit, with online shopping becoming more popular than ever following the Covid-19 lockdown.

“At Silver Fern Farms we are thrilled to partner with Gourmet Direct, who have developed a loyal customer base which values their selection of premium meats, product quality and superior customer service. . . 

Rail supporting Hawke’s Bay drought relief:

KiwiRail is helping the drought relief effort by shifting stock feed for free from the South Island to parched farms in Hawke’s Bay.

“On top of the Covid-19 crisis, the prolonged drought in parts of the North Island has put some farmers and stock under great stress,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.

“We move dairy products, beef, lamb, horticulture and viticulture for the rural sector so it is one of our most important customers, and we’re pleased to support it now at this time of need. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/06/2020

Farm jobs offer competitive pay rates say industry experts – Bonnie Flaws:

Former sports trainer Tim Wilson had always harboured dreams of working on a farm, and last year changed career to do just that.

Wilson was motived by both the lifestyle and the potential earnings that farming offered, he said.

He took a $20,000 pay cut to start as a farm assistant, but said he knew long term his earning potential was much higher on the farm.

Wilson started out as a farm assistant and was now beginning his first year training in herd management on a farm near Te Puke, close to Tauranga. . . 

Kiwi workers hold the key to vineyards’ survival, but could we cut the mustard? – Maia Hart:

As thousands become beneficiaries, New Zealand’s biggest wine region still has job opportunities. Could white collar workers really earn their keep in the vineyards? Reporter Maia Hart attempted a morning in the vines. She made minimum wage.

Flanked by rural Marlborough’s grapevines before sunrise, 34 overseas workers in their high vis vests are illuminated by headlights from the company car, jogging on the spot to get their blood pumping and stretch their muscles against the autumn chill.

The workers are in the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, a huge labour force doing critical hand pruning over winter. Amongst the group are beginners, who worked in New Zealand during summer, stuck in the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic closing borders.

Thornhill Horticulture and Viticulture supervisor Francis Law said it takes a couple of seasons before workers start to realise how much money they can make. They’re likely to make minimum wage to start with. . . 

How many logs do we need? – Dileepa Fonseka:

A new bill has forest owners fuming, but it could be the tip of the iceberg for them if NZ First are re-elected to Government

Forest owners feel blind-sided by a bill before Parliament, but more changes could be coming.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the owners of forests hadn’t lived up to their end of a social contract to grow the domestic wood processing industry. 

He signalled they could expect harsher treatment next term if NZ First were re-elected to Government.

That could start with reversing forestry’s special exemptions under the Overseas Investment Act, and could see NZ First could join forces with National after the election to make that change. . .

No going Dutch on farms – Gerard Hutching:

A Nuffield scholar from the Netherlands has been researching the difference in the roles women play in agriculture in New Zealand, which is quite different in her native country. Gerard Hutching reports. 

Dutch dairy farmer and Nuffield scholar Heleen Lansink left New Zealand recently with a heightened appreciation of the differences between the roles of women in agriculture in this country and the Netherlands. 

Lansink lives and works with her husband Rogier and their four children on a dairy farm in eastern Holland, close to the German border. They run 85 milking cows on 55ha. . . 

Asian markets bolster red meat exports :

The overall value of New Zealand red meat and co-products exported for April might have been broadly similar to the same period last year, but the impact of Covid-19 resulted in changes to some major markets.

Analysis by the Meat Industry Association showed New Zealand exported $859million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products during the month. Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27% to $39.6million compared with last April, and down 30% to Germany ($22million).

Exports to China continued to recover, up 16% to $353.6million.

There were also increases for other Asian markets, particularly Japan, with total exports up 66% to $46.8million and Taiwan up 36% ($36.4million). . . 

New Ballance recruit is a positive sign for agriculture:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients reputation and great farmer-led culture were just some of the reasons why Auckland based IT professional, David Healy, wanted to join the team.

David Healy, an executive with over 20 years of experience leading change management initiatives for start-ups, public organisations and private companies has accepted the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) with the 100% New Zealand (NZ) owned farming co-operative.

David has a proven track record in operations management and research, product and business development across diverse industries including lifestyle company VF Corporation, Icebreaker (before and after they were purchased by VF) and Kathmandu Ltd. . . 


Rural round-up

05/06/2020

Saving livestock and saving lives – Peter Burke:

With $1 million now behind them, Hawkes Bay Rural Advisory Group is working to get as many farmers and livestock through winter as possible.

“We’ve got to get every farmer through the winter and save as much stock as possible.” That’s what chair of the Hawkes Bay Rural Advisory Group (RAG), Lochie MacGillivray, told Rural News.

MacGillivray’s been tasked with dispensing the recently established $1 million special mayoral and government fund set up to pay for transporting much-needed stock feed to the drought-stricken region. . .

 

Wairarapa farmers determined to win over Kiwis with love of wool – James Fyfe:

Auckland-born Kate Tosswill never imagined she’d end up living on a farm in the Wairarapa.

Now, not only is she loving the rural life, but she’s determined to prove she can overcome the odds and help Kiwis fall in love with wool again.

Tosswill, who lives with her husband and two young children on the Bagshot Farm 20 minutes from Masterton, is on a mission to breathe life back into the classic fibre that was once so important to the country’s economy. . .

Three new faces for Dairy Women’s Network board:

The Dairy Women’s Network will have three new faces when its board meets on Friday.

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the year 2019 Trish Rankin, Dairy Women’s Network Business Group Director Rachel Haskew and Chief Executive of iwi-owned Pouarua Farms Jenna Smith will all bring valuable varied skills and experiences, Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board Chair Karen Forlong said.

“They all have taken different paths which have led them to our board table that adds the diversity we need. They will bring an abundance of new thought and enthusiasm that links to present opportunities and challenges within Dairy.” . .

Export meat prices fall from recent highs:

Export prices for meat, including lamb and beef, fell in the March 2020 quarter, from record levels at the end of 2019, Stats NZ said today.

“The fall in export prices coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared a global pandemic in March 2020,” business prices delivery manager Geoff Wong said.

“The COVID-19 outbreak affected demand in export markets and disrupted supply chains, such as sea and air freight. . .

Red meat exports holding despite COvid-19 disruptions:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports for April was largely unchanged from the same month last year despite COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported $859 million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products in the month of April. While the overall value of exports was broadly similar compared to April 2019, there were changes to some major markets due to the impact of COVID-19.

Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27 per cent to $39.6 million compared to last April and down 30 per cent to Germany ($22 million). . .

Dairy farmers say yes to milk solids levy:

Levy paying dairy farmers have voted to continue the sector’s milksolids levy.

The one in six-year milksolids levy vote closed on May 30, with provisional results showing 57 percent of the 11,747 levy paying dairy farmers voted – and of those who voted, 69 percent voted ‘yes’ to continuing the levy.

Weighting the vote by milksolids production shows even greater representation and support for the levy, with this year’s votes equating to a 67 percent farmer vote and 74 percent voting ‘yes’. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/05/2020

Accidental farmer now a winner–  Gerald Piddock :

Dairy farmer Ash-Leigh Campbell has come a long way in a short time and now wants to encourage young people into the dairy sector and do what she can locally while travel restrictions limit what she can do with the $20,000 prize she took home as the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Ash-leigh Campbell didn’t set out to have a career in dairying.

Instead, she stumbled into the industry, starting out relief milking for a local farmer to earn extra cash for her first car while still at high school in Canterbury.

She was an accidental dairy farmer, she says.

Ten years on the 29-year-old has had a meteoritic rise, capped off by being the youngest person to become Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network Awards. . .

Rural fok rally round – Colin Williscroft:

Rural communities are banding together to help Hawke’s Bay farmers dealing with drought and a feed shortage.

Wairarapa farmers Daniel and Sophie Hansen are gathering feed in their region to send to their northern neighbours.

They hoope if farmers there have a bale or two of hay or balage they can do without then, despite it being a small amount individually, combined it could provide a real lifeline to Hawke’s Bay farmers.

Initially, the Hansens aimed to get every farmer on their road to either give or sell one or two bales to make a unit load but the idea has grown. . . 

Red meat exports pass $1b – Sally Rae:

Exports of New Zealand red meat and co-products in March passed the $1billion mark, a first for monthly exports.

Analysis by the Meat Industry Association showed total exports reached $1.1billion, an increase of 12% on March 2019.

While overall exports to China in March were down 9% on the corresponding month last year, due to Covid-19, exports to all other major markets increased, a statement from MIA said.

Sheepmeat export volumes were up 4% and value up 13% compared with last March. And while sheepmeat exports to China were down 11% by volume compared with last March, they still recovered significantly from February, doubling to nearly 25,000 tonnes. . . 

Keytone Dairy a secret Kiwi success – Rebecca Howard:

Keytone Dairy may not be listed on the NZX but it’s one to watch as it inks new orders and ramps up production.

The ASX-listed stock took a tumble on global panic hitting 20.5 Australian cents on March 19.

Since then it’s more than doubled to 43 cents as investors buy into its growth story that Covid-19 triggered “significant” global demand for its products. Appetite for its formulated milk powders is four times greater than before the crisis, it said.

The company was incorporated in September 2017 to buy and run New Zealand’s Keytone Enterprises. It wrapped the deal up in July 2018 and listed on the Australian stock exchange at the same time, choosing Australia because of its proximity to a larger pool of funds. . .

Current grower meeting challenges – George Clark:

Hamish McFarlane is a third-generation blackcurrant grower with a farm 10 minutes north of Temuka.

He grows the superfood, with a mix of cattle and the odd vegetable, for Barkers of Geraldine.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 allowed business to continue for the McFarlane family but there were challenges.

‘‘We were pretty uncertain what the future was going to hold for us. Once we went into lockdown we were unsure with what government levels immediately meant,’’ he said. . . 

View form the Paddock: don’t fall for plant-based meat hype – Trent Thorne:

In 1787, Catherine the Great toured the recently annexed Crimean Peninsula with her conquering Commander-in-chief, Grigory Potemkin.

In an effort to thoroughly impress the Tsarina with the work he had done in the south of Russia (which for many years had been a desolate area ravaged by constant warfare) following the annexation, Potemkin constructed pasteboard facades of fake village.

As a result of his artifice, the term ‘Potemkin village’ is now used to refer to an impressive show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition.

You may well ask what does modern Russian history and the COVID-19 pandemic have in common? . . 


Rural round-up

08/05/2020

Concern farmers’ wellbeing affected: –  David Hill:

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro is concerned for the wellbeing of farmers as they negotiate the ongoing effects of a dry season and the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said last month’s rain was “a great morale booster” for farmers in the drought-affected area in North Canterbury.

“Since that rain four weeks ago, things went pretty quiet. But it’s just a pity we haven’t had a follow-up rain and we really need a good warm follow-up rain, particularly for the farmers from Waipara north to get some growth before winter.

“It’s starting to get dry and cold in that northern part, but other than that it’s business as usual. . . 

Farmers need to be heard not patronised:

The Government’s drought recovery advice fund announced today is merely a drop in the bucket for supporting farmers affected by drought, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The fund is specifically for providing affected farmers with recovery and planning advice, but does not contribute to farmers’ rising feed costs or general business costs.

“Most farmers already know what is needed to help their business recover and it is insulting for the Government to tell them they simply need to seek more advice to get through the drought. . . 

Rural GPs not just another business – Peter Burke:

Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden is disappointed that the Government is treating rural general practices the same as any other business in the community.

Bolden told Rural News that rural GPs were expecting to get two payments from the Government to assist them financially.

However, she says while they had received the first payment, Cabinet vetoed the second payment – just days before it was expected to be paid.  . .

Differing responses to wage subsidy scheme – Allan Barber:

The country’s meat processors have followed two distinctly different paths in response to the government’s wage subsidy scheme which is available to all businesses for 12 weeks, providing they can substantiate a 30% drop in revenue during the period. Silver Fern Farms, Alliance, ANZCO, Taylor Preston and Blue Sky Meats have all claimed the subsidy to varying extents, whereas AFFCO, Greenlea and Wilson Hellaby have decided it is not justified or necessary, at least partly on ethical grounds.

The contrast in approach has already been commented on by independent economist, Cameron Bagrie, who has slammed the two largest claimants, SFF which has claimed $43 million and Alliance $34 million, for taking advantage of taxpayer funding when they are classified as an essential business, operating in lockdown. Equally Bagrie complimented those companies not making a claim because they were getting on with business as usual. Speaking to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, he said “the wage subsidy is out there to support businesses that are getting clobbered, that are effectively in lockdown.”

I am not convinced this interpretation is either totally fair or even correct. Both SFF’s Simon Limmer and Alliance’s CEO David Surveyor are clear the wage subsidy is not a company entitlement, but is paid directly to various categories of employees: firstly it maintains standard wage rates at normal processing speeds despite the 30-50% reduction to meet distance requirements, it retains those who would have to have been terminated seasonally, and it is used to pay those who cannot work e.g. because of age,  compromised immunity or family circumstances. . .

Community to the rescue for harvest – Toni Williams:

CharRees Vineyard owners Charlie and Esma Hill put a call out on social media for help to harvest during lockdown.

They were so overwhelmed by community response, including some from Christchurch, they had to turn people away.

The lockdown harvest, approved by Ministry for Primary Industries as essential for food and beverage production, attracted about 20 people from Ashburton and Methven — many who had never harvested grapes before — to put their hands up to help.

The pickers worked alongside family members of the couple and vineyard workers to pick the first of three annual grape harvests. . . 

Red meat exports top $1 billion in March 2020, a first for monthly exports:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports topped $1 billion for the first time, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Total exports reached $1.1 billion in March 2020, an increase of 12 per cent on March 2019.

While overall exports to China for the month of March were down by nine per cent compared to last March as a result of COVID-19, exports to all other major markets increased, demonstrating the agility and resilience of the New Zealand red meat sector. . . 

Time to take ag reform out of the “too hard basket” – Fiona Simson:

Regional Australia is well placed to be the engine that powers Australia’s COVID-19 recovery. The bush has done this before, with strong exports helping keep recession at bay during the Global Financial Crisis.

And, after a challenging period of drought, bushfires and floods, widespread rainfall has seen the fortunes of farmers begin to improve. Agriculture is ready and raring to grow.

As we dare to cast an eye to the world post-COVID-19, now is the opportune time to consider the changes agriculture and regional Australia needs to best contribute to the recovery task. . . 


Rural round-up

30/04/2020

Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

16/04/2020

If a tree falls in the forest can it be exported? – Dr Eric Crampton:

We need to be watching closely how the Government proceeds. We risk falling into the same kind of value-added magical thinking that ended badly in the past; messing up our international trading position; and returning to bureaucratic control over domestic industry, warns Eric Crampton.

Last week, Forestry Minister Shane Jones warned of impending restrictions on New Zealand’s international trade in logs.

Even if you don’t really care much about forestry, the Government’s response here may signal what’s in store for the rest of the economy after lockdown.

Will New Zealand continue as a trading nation and open economy, building on the recent success in setting a free trade agenda in essential goods with Singapore? Or, will it retreat to a more Muldoonist policy in which people like Minister Jones decide what can be exported?

This matters.

Processing delays to lengthen :

Already significant waiting times faced by farmers to get stock processed are likely to get worse in the short term, Beef + Lamb’s Economic Service and the Meat Industry Association say.

Processing capacity for sheep has been cut in half while beef is about 30% lower as plants adjust to covid-19 rules.

The latest analysis forecasts South Island lamb processing in April and May to be pushed back another week to five weeks though the backlog is expected to be cleared by the end of May.

In the North Island no further delays are expected on top of what farmers are already experiencing. . . 

Funding pushes efforts to eradicate stoats on Rangitoto ki te Tonga / d’Urville Island – Tracy Neal:

New Zealand’s eighth-largest island is on a mission to become stoat-free.

The island in the western Marlborough Sounds was said to be free of ship rats, Norway rats, possums and weasels, but stoats had led to the local extinction of little spotted kiwi, yellow-crowned kākāriki and South Island kākā.

They also threatened an important population of South Island long-tailed bats/pekapeka. . .

AgTech hackathon:

Pivoting around a global pandemic, the fourth annual AgTech Hackathon team is once again seeking ambitious problem solvers to ideate five Primary Industries challenges – albeit from their bubble.

Originally planned to be the last weekend of March as an active part of New Zealand AgriFood Week, the event was postponed due to COVID-19. True to creative and tech roots, the Hackathon is determined to go ahead but with a twist.

Introducing AgTech Hackathon Lite. . . 

Cauliflower prices on the march:

Cauliflower prices rose more than 60 percent in March, as prices for a wide range of vegetables also increased in the month, Stats NZ said today.

Prices for vegetables rose in March 2020 (up 7.4 percent), mainly influenced by rises for broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, capsicums, and carrots.

Overall food prices were up 0.7 percent, with most other staple foods holding steady, although prices for many meat products fell.

Cauliflower prices rose 64 percent to a weighted average price of $5.75 per kilo. . . 

Avocado orchard conversion block on the market:

A former small-scale dairy farm and maize cropping block set up for conversion into a commercial-sized avocado orchard has been placed on the market for sale.

The 95.8-hectare property at Waiharara, some 28-kilometres north of Kaitaia, was originally established to run as a dairying unit bolstered by the capacity to produce economic levels of stock feed.

However, a decade of cumulative economic, legislative, and environmental changes have motivated the Waiharara, property owners to sell up their dairying interests and the land which previously sustained the dairying-related activities. . . 


Rural round-up

15/04/2020

New research indicates NZ’s sheep and beef greenhouse gas emissions have been overstated:

AgResearch has developed a more accurate calculation of the nitrous oxide emissions from sheep, beef and dairy production, which shows that nitrous oxide emissions are two thirds and one third respectively lower than previously thought.

The new nitrous oxide measurement will reduce each sector’s total greenhouse gas emission by the following:

    • Total sheep emissions (including methane and nitrous oxide emissions) will be around 10.6 percent lower than previously reported. 
    • Total beef cattle emissions (including methane and nitrous oxide emissions) will be 5.0 percent lower than previously reported. . . 

Workers give up Eater break to clear logjam at meat plants – Eric Frykberg:

Staff at 12 meat plants run by Silver Fern Farms worked on Good Friday and Easter Monday to try to catch up with a serious backlog of animals needing to be processed.

The company won’t give any numbers because of commercial confidentiality but says a dent was made in the logjam of stock at hardpressed processing plants.

The problem arose even before the Covid-19 crisis, when drought killed off grass growth on many New Zealand paddocks, leaving little feed available for livestock.

To solve this problem, farmers sent their stock to the works early, creating a backlog of stock in waiting yards. . . 

Shearing not cut out – Pam Tipa:

Shearing has been deemed an essential service, but people must come first, says Mike Barrowcliffe, NZ Shearing Contractors Association president.

“The last thing an 80-year-old farmer wants is a whole lot of young people who haven’t been self-isolating turning up to his place to shear his sheep,” he says.

Everyone should put safety first throughout the whole supply chain – from the farmers themselves to contractor employees, Barrowcliffe told Rural News.

“They need to ask the questions, is it essential and can it wait?” he says. . . 

Vet firm uneasy over what services to offer – Sally Rae:

It’s not business as usual for vets — despite what the public’s perception might be, Oamaru vet Simon Laming says.

Mr Laming, of Veterinary Centre Ltd, which has clinics throughout the region, expressed concerns about the services the business should continue to offer, and the public perception of continuing to operate as an essential service.

A visit from police recently followed a complaint from a member of the public who had seen two people in one of the Veterinary Centre’s trucks.

What had been difficult to establish was exactly what services should be offered as guidelines were not very specific, Mr Laming said. . . 

Meat Industry Association calls for fair treatment in renewable energy targets:

New Zealand’s meat processing sector will need more time if it is to meet proposed targets for renewable energy, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sirma Karapeeva, Chief Executive of the MIA, said the vast cost of converting coal-fired boilers to alternative heating by the proposed deadline of 2030 would place huge pressure on an industry that is already facing significant headwinds.

If the proposals go ahead in their current form, the sector would not be able to absorb the estimated $80 million capital cost of converting to direct electric, heat pump or biomass options in such a short time frame. . . 

Wattie’s is setting production records to help supermarkets meet consumer demand:

Teams of employees in Wattie’s factories in Hawke’s Bay, Christchurch and Auckland have been working as never before to help keep supermarkets stocked in their efforts to satisfy consumer demand in these unprecedent times of the Covid-19 crisis.

The range of products include Wattie’s tomato sauce, Wattie’s baked beans & spaghetti, soups and canned and frozen meals, frozen peas and mixed vegetables, and dips. On top of these are the seasonal products like peaches, pears and beetroot.

All this while, the country’s largest tomato harvesting and processing season is underway in Hawke’s Bay. Harvesting started on February 21 and is scheduled to continue until April 22. With social distancing requirements extending to the fields, the job of harvest operators can become very lonely with 12-hour shifts. . . 


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