Rural round-up

12/09/2022

Cow versus plant-based milk which offers the most nutrition? – Gerhard Uys:

Plant-based milk alternatives contain just a fraction of the nutrition of cows’ milk, and are more expensive, a Riddet Institute study shows.

The study, done at Massey University and funded by dairy interests including Fonterra, compared the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based drinks like soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks, to standard cow milk.

For the study, 103 plant-based products were bought from supermarkets in Palmerston North. The plant based drinks had lower quantities of 20 nutrients measured, such as calcium and protein. They were also more expensive than cows’ milk, the study showed.

The institutes’ nutritional sciences professor, Warren McNabb, said plant-based beverages were often marketed as alternatives to cows’ milk, and consumers could easily believe they were nutritionally interchangeable. . . 

Here’s why food prices might have further to rise – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Organic pasture-fed ruminant meat animals are the farm products most damaging to the environment in terms of nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas production. This is according to UK-based science journalist Goerge Monbiot.

No doubt vegans will feel vindicated and organics people will feel misunderstood, while regenerative aficionados will be confident, until they read what he actually wrote – because regenerative involves pasture and eschews synthetic nitrogen like organics.

The conclusion will be disappointing to many people, who saw a ‘natural solution’ but there are no easy answers with an ever-growing global population to feed, and feed to meet their nutritional requirements.

No Hunger is the second of the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations, the first is No Poverty. Nearly a third of the global population lacks access to regular food and one in 10 are hungry. In 2020, 47% of countries reported escalating food prices in comparison with 16% in 2019. . .

Red meat exports reach $1.1 b in July 2022 :

New Zealand’s red meat sector achieved sales of $1.1 billion during July, a 26 per cent increase on July 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

China remained the standout market with red meat exports worth $460 million, up 42 per cent on last July.

Other major markets were Japan at $58 million, up 36 per cent, the Netherlands at $38 million, up 132 per cent, and the UK at $38 million, up 97 per cent. Exports to the US dropped by 22 per cent to $191 million.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says strong red meat prices in global markets were continuing to help absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs. . . 

Environmental efforts recognised with award – Tim Cronshaw:

A Canterbury grower who has put in more than 500 solar panels at his family’s vegetable growing operation has won high praise for his environmental work.

Oakley founder and head agronomist Robin Oakley has won the Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Environmental Award for his efforts, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen leaching.

The fifth-generation farmer grew up on his family farm and has been working the land since he was a young boy.

He started the Southbridge fresh vegetable business in the 1990s with his wife Shirleen. . . 

Forestry needs an urgent reset – Gary Taylor:

Forestry has an important place in our economy, but it’s time to improve the sector’s environmental performance. Gary Taylor explains how. 

The recent serious floods in Marlborough and Tasman and previous extreme weather events on the North Island’s east coast point to an urgent need to tighten up environmental controls on exotic forestry. The old method of allowing large scale clear-felling at harvest on erosion-prone land is no longer fit-for-purpose in a climate changing world.

Having large swathes of hill country denuded of stabilising vegetation for several years between forestry cycles is exacerbating run-off volumes and flood velocity, as well as vastly increasing sediment loads entering the coastal marine area. Sediment smothers and kills marine life.

The Government is about to release a discussion document on the review of the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). This is the opportunity to fix this problem through setting improved regulations for the sector and moving towards a safer and more environmentally responsible regime for forestry. . . 

Harnessing the power of saffron color for food and future therapeutics – Xiongjie Zheng:

A highly efficient enzyme combined with a multigene engineering approach offers potential for sustainable production of water-soluble pigments in plant tissues.

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Usually obtained from the stigma of Crocus sativa flowers, it takes 150,000–200,000 flowers to produce one kilogram of saffron. Now, KAUST researchers have found a way to use a common garden plant to produce saffron’s active ingredient, a compound with important therapeutic and food industry applications.

The color of saffron comes from crocins: water-soluble pigments derived from carotenoids by a process that is catalyzed by enzymes known as carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases (CCDs). Crocins also occur, albeit in much lower amounts, in the fruits of Gardenia jasminoides, an ornamental plant used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Crocins have high therapeutic potential, including their role in protecting neural cells from degradation, as well as their antidepressant, sedative and antioxidant properties. They also have an important role as natural food colorants. . . .


Rural round-up

05/08/2022

Foot-and-mouth – the stock disease that could inflict a huge economic cost on our economy if Biosecurity defences fail – Point of Order:

Ray Smith,  director-general  of  the  Ministry for Primary Industries,  sent  a  shiver  through  the  NZ  China  Summit in Auckland  when  he  warned  that  foot-and-mouth  disease  getting  into NZ   would  be  a  “scary”  and  a “gigantic thing”.

The  highly  contagious  disease has  been  sweeping  through Indonesia  and  since  it  was  first discovered  in  May  429,000 cases   have  been  identified    through  24   provinces  including Bali,  a  popular  holiday  destination  for many  New  Zealanders.

Indonesia  is  struggling  to  bring the  disease under  control, underlining  what  a problem  it  could  be  for NZ’s  main  export  industries.

The disease, which could cost the country billions of dollars and more than 100,000 jobs if it ran rampant among our livestock, is causing major concern in South Asia. After  the disease was discovered in Bali fragments of the virus that cause the disease have also been found in meat products entering Australia from Indonesia, creating fresh concerns about the possibility of it arriving in New Zealand.  . . . 

Red meat sector defies global supply chain issues :

New Zealand exported red meat worth $1.1 billion during June despite the ongoing global supply chain issues affecting sheepmeat and beef volumes, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The 15 per cent increase in value compared to June 2021 was largely driven by beef exports, particularly to China. Although the total volume of beef exports was down seven per cent, the overall value was up 23 per cent to $504 million. The value of beef exports to China was up 39 per cent to $217m.

The overall volume of sheepmeat exported was largely unchanged compared to last June, at 32,470 tonnes, with value up 15 per cent to $398m. Volumes of chilled sheepmeat exports, however, continued to drop, down 31 per cent to 2,253 tonnes.

Sheepmeat exports to China saw a drop in both volume (21 per cent) and value (31 per cent) compared to the same period last year, but this was offset for by increases in exports to other major sheepmeat markets. . . 

Wool supply concern prompts Bremworth to consider contracting farmers –  Sally Murphy:

Carpet company Bremworth is looking at the option of providing farmers with long-term contracts to secure supply.

Strong wool prices have been subdued for years now – which has led many farmers to leave their wool in their sheds in the hope they will be able to get better prices in the future.

Bremworth chief executive Greg Smith said it has been a challenging time for farmers so the company wanted to provide more security to them while ensuring a secure supply of wool.

“The foundation of our businesses is 100 percent strong wool and at the moment, the strong wool industry is under enormous pressure because of prices. It’s a commodity which is not being valued as much as it has been in the past. . . 

Farmers, there’s plenty to celebrate:

“Despite yesterday’s Federated Farmers Confidence Survey results, there are many positives for the agricultural and horticultural sectors right now,” says National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

The survey conducted last month showed production expectations have dropped into negative territory for the first time since its inception in 2009.

Of the 1200 surveyed, 47% consider current economic conditions to be bad — down 55.6 points since January, when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good. A net 80% expect general economic conditions to get worse — up 16.9 points for the same period.

“These results are mood driven by what is coming at them driven by other factors outside their control like the Government’s fiscal policy. But the biggest culprit is compliance, mounting regulation, economic, business, environment costs and debt. . . 

Wool stations put a new spin on teaching children :

A project that educates children about wool will see its 25,000th student pass through its wool sheds this month.

As part of the Wool in Schools programme, schools can request one of two 20-foot shipping containers that have been converted into wool sheds to visit, so primary students can learn about wool and how it is used.

The half-hour experience involves interactive stations where children learn about wool processes and the different uses and benefits of wool and can even have a go at weaving on a mini loom.

The programme is run by the Campaign for Wool NZ, which aims to raise awareness about the uses and benefits of wool. . . 

NZ Winegrowers announce Fellows for 2022 :

The New Zealand wine industry has recognised the service and dedication of industry icons Dominic Pecchenino, Jim and Rose Delegat, Clive Paton and Phyll Pattie, and Chris Howell, by inducting them as Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

“The Roll of Fellows honours the modern pioneers of the New Zealand wine industry. We wholeheartedly thank Dominic, Jim, Rose, Clive, Phyll and Chris for their years of service, and their role in shaping the New Zealand wine industry to be what it is today,” says Clive Jones, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.

All the 2022 Fellows have worked over many decades for the “betterment of the wine industry,” says Clive. “The work of these individuals enables a small industry like ours to punch above our weight on the world stage, and we thank them for their efforts.” . . 


Rural round-up

07/07/2022

Drop in volume but growth in value for New Zealand red meat exports :

New Zealand’s red meat sector overcame a significant drop in export volumes to achieve sales of $1.1 billion during May – a 28 per cent increase on 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

While the volume of sheepmeat exported was six per cent down compared to last May, the value was up 23 per cent to $456 million.

Beef export volumes increased one per cent year-on-year but value grew by 34 per cent to $484m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said that high values were helping to absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs. . . 

Let’s get real – Clive Bobby:

Why is that our leaders appear incapable of understanding the contributing factors involved in running a successful family business.

At a time when speculative decisions can have tragic consequences for the shareholders, one would hope that those who have responsibility for our survival maintain a tight control over the things that have been proven over time to matter. 

Yet the opposite appears to be true. 

We see the cornerstone industries of our economy – our agriculture industry in all its forms and the emasculated tourism industry bearing the brunt of the cost associated with our misguided pursuit of ideological purity and nobody seems to care.  . . .

Vege growers turn off the heat as coal and gas prices soar – Sally Murphy:

The soaring cost of energy such as coal and gas has led some indoor vegetable growers to turn off their heaters.

Many indoor growing operations use gas or coal boilers to heat their glasshouses.

There has been a nationwide shortage of commercial carbon dioxide supplies and the cost of using coal is going up.

Leanne Roberts sits on the board of Vegetables New Zealand and is a covered crop grower in Marlborough. . .

Grab your gumboots and go dairy:

Kiwis are being encouraged to join the dairy sector, as one-third of dairy farms seek to fill vacancies ahead of a busy calving season which begins in July.

Through a new GoDairy campaign, DairyNZ is looking to help recruit young Kiwis into dairy farm roles. Most young people enter the dairy sector in a farm assistant role and the campaign connects job seekers to the latest farm assistant vacancies across New Zealand.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Nick Robinson says the dairy sector offers job security and good career progression opportunities.

“Many existing skills are transferable to dairy farming and we welcome new people to consider a dairy career. The dairy sector currently has around 4000 vacancies,” Robinson says. . .

Sharing knowledge enables better farming decisions :

Fernside dairy farmer Julie Bradshaw says sharing scientific data in a way that was easily understandable and useful for farmers helped create close bonds between landowners and NIWA scientists during a five-year joint co-innovation study.

Julie is participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovative approaches to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

“It was a reciprocal relationship between our farmers and NIWA. They had no experience of dairy farming, but it worked because we were willing to listen to each other and NIWA had a genuine desire to provide us with data that was practical and helpful.”

Fellow co-innovation study group member Stu Bailey, a fourth generation Flaxton dairy farmer, says working with NIWA helped him to make better farming decisions, especially on irrigation. . .

 

New Zealand’s apiculture industry names top honey producers and honours outstanding achievements:

New Zealand’s best honey producers have been named at the Apiculture New Zealand National Honey Competition as part of the industry’s annual conference in Christchurch.

The conference hosted more than 750 delegates from the apiculture industry at the Te Pae Convention Centre, Christchurch on 30 June and 1 July. The National Honey Competition, held the day before the conference, featured products across a range of honey categories from creamed honey to chunky honey and cut honeycomb.

The 2022 Supreme Award winner was Timaru-based Jarved Allan of The Mānuka Collective, who took away the award for the second year in a row.

“There was consistently high quality across the board,” said head judge Maureen Conquer. She said the judges were impressed with the quality of honey, that is improving every year, and it was very difficult to choose the winners. The honeydew honeys, in particular, were of much higher quality this year, said Maureen Conquer. All entries were blind tasted, and an international scale of points was used to determine the winners across 12 main categories. . . 


Rural round-up

01/07/2022

Scottish farmers set to scale back food production, survey shows  :

Production on Scottish farms is set to be scaled back as farmers respond to unprecedented price increases for key inputs, NFU Scotland has warned.

The union has released the results of its intentions survey, sent to farmers in early June to gauge the impact that the surge in input prices is having on agricultural output.

Farmers are currently seeing a combination of several factors, including the war in Ukraine, which has triggered fertiliser and energy prices to treble, as well as for fuel and animal feed.

NFU Scotland received a total of 340 responses. The impact of cost increases has been immediate, with 92% of farmers indicating that they had already altered production plans. . . 

Youngsters urged to give dairy farming a go – Jessica Marshall:

With a third of dairy farms seeking to fill vacancies ahead of calving season, Kiwis are being encouraged to give dairy farming a chance.

And giving dairy farming a chance is something 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year Dayna Rowe knows a little about.

“Initially, I didn’t quite know if I liked it or anything,” the 23-year-old says of her start in the industry.

Rowe started out as a farm assistant back in 2017, now she’s farm manager on her parents’ Bay of Plenty farm, managing a team of four. . . 

 

Meat and dairy gains are vital in any EU trade deal :

A trade agreement with the European Union must include commercially meaningful outcomes for New Zealand’s meat and dairy exporters, National’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“If real gains for meat and dairy aren’t on the table, the Prime Minister should instruct negotiators to continue talks until a commercially meaningful offer is presented.

“Trade Minister Damien O’Connor has already confirmed New Zealand has agreed to the European Union’s demands for geographic indicators. This means Kiwi businesses will no longer be able to produce many food products and call them by their name, including feta, gouda and parmesan cheeses. The EU has consulted on a list that also includes restricting the names Mozzarella and Latin Kiwifruit (Kiwi Latina) and other agricultural products.

“The EU’s agriculture sector has expressed delight that restrictions would remain in place for New Zealand exporters, with the current offer meaning almost none of our meat or dairy would be competitive in the EU market. . . 

Nathan Guy appointed the new chairman of MIA :

Former Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has been appointed the new Chairman of the Meat Industry Association following the retirement of current Chairman John Loughlin from the role.

Mr Loughlin finishes his six-year term after the annual Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch on 31 July-1 August 2022.

“It has been a privilege to serve as MIA chair for the last six years,” says Mr Loughlin.

“This was a time of challenge and opportunity and it has been great to be part of the red meat sector working cohesively and contributing to the wider primary sector. . . 

Subsurface irrigation benefits clear despite wet season :

A wetter than usual irrigation season has hindered data collection efforts for Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson. They had planned to collect data over the season from their subsurface irrigation system and compare this with traditional irrigation methods. However, the couple have still been able to prove the system’s water and power saving benefits on their two-hectare test block.

Gary and Penny are participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

A subsurface drip irrigation system consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . . 

 

Food National leading the NZ plant food offerings :

A government-funded plant award-winning company Food Nation is a fast growing award winning supplier helping climate change by producing New Zealand grown food such as buckwheat, beetroot, hemp, mushrooms, chickpeas and quinoa.

In all cases they use mushrooms and chickpeas as a base rather than imported soy or gluten. The food is great for the planet, whether the consumers are flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian.

Their food includes pea and makrut balls; legumes, herbs, spices, cauliflower, turmeric, broccoli, ginger, red pepper and corn magic mince or mushrooms and ancient grained sausages.

The company is owned by Miranda Burdon and Josie Lambert who are co-founders and sisters and run it with a small team in their premises in St Johns, Auckland. . . 


Rural round-up

23/06/2022

New Zealand red meat sector representatives travel to EU ahead of crunch trade talks :

New Zealand red meat sector leaders head to Brussels this week as negotiations between the European Union and New Zealand for a Free Trade Agreement enter a critical stage.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva and Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor will be supporting New Zealand trade negotiators during the talks, which are being held just days before an end of June deadline to conclude an Agreement in Principle.

“Negotiations are coming to a crunch and this trip to Brussels highlights just how important these discussions are to New Zealand’s red meat sector,” says Ms Karapeeva.

“New Zealand has been a longstanding and trusted trade partner of the EU and our companies have been providing consumers with safe, nutritious and high quality product for decades. . . 

Biosecurity has taken the overall  #1 spot in New Zealand :

It will surprise nobody that for the twleth year in a row, world-class biosecurity has taken the overall #1 spot in the annual KPMG agribusiness industry leader’s priority survey, BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries suggest total exports of food and fibre products for the year to the end of June 2022 will reach a record $52.2 billion, up 9 percent on 2021.

“The growth comes from the dairy, horticulture, red meat, and forestry sectors, all delivering improved export returns.

“For others, the starting point was the disconnect between prices, profitability, and the green fields across most of New Zealand along with the uncertainty many farmers are feeling. . . 

Technology key to dairy’s future – Country Life:

Toilet trained cows may very well be peeing to order by 2032, agritech entrepreneur Craig Piggott says.

Well, in defined places on the farm, that is, and as a way of keeping dairy farming environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Technology around toilet training is one of the “threads” exercising the minds of Piggott’s team at Halter after the start-up’s phenomenal success using “cowgorithms” to farm dairy cows.

“If you can train a cow to move left and right … move them around a farm, then why can’t you train them to urinate in a shed?” he asks. . . 

Farmers shape a high value, high protein, low emissions future after meat and dairy – Jonathan Milne:

Government and industry investment could seed a new plant-based protein industry important to New Zealand’s survival on the global food market, according to a PwC report today

Jade Gray describes himself as a fourth-generation grocer. He’s worked on beef farms and in meat processing plants and butchers’ stores in Canterbury and China. He’s run a pizza restaurant. He knows about food – and he’s convinced there’s no real future in meat.

“I speak with a lot of farmers, I get heckled by mates and by strangers. It’s all good, it’s part of a good, fair and democratic society. But we’ve seen what happened to the wool sector in the past three decades, and we can’t allow that to happen to meat or dairy. We need to learn from that very harsh lesson.”

He argues we need to start turning over our paddocks to high-protein plants such as peas and fava beans. “We can create a whole new revenue stream for protein. The bonus is that brings more resilience. Or we can pitch ourselves against a major disruption that’s looking more and more likely in the next 10 to 20 years.” . . 

Lifeless market for meatless meat – Chloe Sorvino:

Ross Mackay and Eliott Kessas emigrated from Scotland with a dream. The longtime vegans founded Daring Foods, a meatless chicken-nugget startup, with the aim of reducing unhealthy meat consumption and creating more climate-friendly foods. At first, it caught on. Daring’s nuggets secured shelf space in Sprouts stores, Whole Foods and some Albertsons and Target locations.

Then came the big money. In October 2021, the Los Angeles-based brand, not yet two years old, raised $65 million at a valuation of more than $300 million. Investors included D1 Capital Partners, a hedge fund that’s backed companies such as Instacart, as well as DJ Steve Aoki and tennis superstar Naomi Osaka. All told, Daring has raised more than $120 million.

Less than a year later, however, the bottom is falling out. There are more than 100 plant-based chicken-nugget companies, many of them with products similar in taste and texture. To break out from the pack, Daring hired newlyweds Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker to take photos eating the faux nuggets while wearing lingerie. It was unclear whether the result — 1.2 million likes on Kardashian’s post; 5 million on a video Daring posted — was enough to goose sales. There’s simply too many brands struggling for space on supermarket shelves, and the rare chefs who adopt meatless products for their restaurants are reluctant to keep unpopular items on the menu. Consumers are ruthlessly weeding out the market while investors tread lightly now that money is more expensive than it’s been for a decade. . .

2022 harvest will help restore depleted New Zealand wine stocks :

New Zealand grape growers and wineries are breathing a sigh of relief following an improved vintage in 2022 that will help the industry rebuild stocks and sales, reports New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Going into vintage, wineries urgently needed a larger harvest as strong demand and smaller than expected crops in recent years had led to a significant shortage of New Zealand wine. That shortage has caused total New Zealand wine sales to fall 14% from the peak achieved in January 2021, even as wineries supported sales by drawing on stocks which are now at rock-bottom levels,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

In the domestic market, the same shortage has led to sales of New Zealand wine falling to their lowest level since 2004.

“There is no doubt we urgently needed an improved harvest this year after cool weather and frosts impacted Vintage 2021. The main challenge this year was COVID-19, which greatly complicated harvest logistics with Omicron rampant throughout New Zealand just as harvest began. This created additional pressure at a time many producers were already under pressure due to labour shortages,” says Mr Gregan. . . 

YILI scoops global innovation awards :

Global dairy giant Yili has scooped the innovation category at the 15th Global Dairy Congress in Laval, France.

Yili, which operates two dairy companies in New Zealand, and its subsidiary Ausnutria topped the tally for most awards at the World Dairy Innovation Awards held simultaneously with the Congress.

The awards were for packaging design, infant nutrition, intolerance-friendly dairy products, ice cream, cheese, and dairy snacks.

The judges noted that: “Yili have their finger on the pulse when it comes to identifying gaps in the market and creating brilliant innovative products that both taste and look great while simultaneously serving a purpose.” . . 


Rural round-up

02/06/2022

Rethink on GM policy needed – Richard Rennie:

John Caradus, scientist and chief executive of AgResearch’s commercial entity Grasslanz Technology, is pushing industry leaders, politicians and farmers to reconsider genetic modification (GM) as the primary sector grapples with the challenges of climate change, nutrient losses and disease. He spoke to Richard Rennie about his recent work reviewing GM globally.

There is a level of hypocrisy within New Zealand’s stance on genetically modified (GM) foods that does not sit well with John Caradus. 

He points out NZ consumers can shop for over 90 different GM foods produced from 10 plant species here, but NZ farmers are unable to grow any of them.

“We have a regulatory system that makes it extremely difficult for any entity considering doing so,” he says. . . 

Up to 6 week delay in cattle processing as meat works face backlog – Sally Murphy:

Processing capacity at meat works around the country is returning to normal but a backlog remains.

There had been a backlog for months due to staffing shortages as workers isolated with Covid-19.

That made it harder for farmers to offload stock, which caused huge stress, especially in areas where feed levels were tight.

An update provided to farmers by Beef and Lamb and the Meat Industry Association showed staff levels were now returning to normal and capacity from plant to plant was ranging from 80-100 percent. . . 

Keep driving innovation, meat sector leader says – Sally Rae:

Last week, Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva visited North Otago, the birthplace of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae  about the state of the red meat sector.

It is time to celebrate.

That is the message from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva to all levels of the red meat sector, from the farming community through to processors and other industry organisations.

Ms Karapeeva was in Oamaru last week for a function to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom in 1882, and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board. . . 

Red meat exports achieve record April but markets prove volatile :

New Zealand red meat exports hit a record in April however ongoing volatility in China indicates head winds in the coming months, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported products worth $999.6 million during the month of April, up 16 per cent on April 2021 with the value of overall exports increasing to most major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said that while red meat exports continued to achieve good returns, there was some fluctuation in demand, particularly in China and the US.

“The value of overall exports to China was down six per cent year on year. There was also a small drop in the volume of both sheepmeat and beef exported. The reduction in sheepmeat was largely due to China, with beef exports to the US also dipping. . . 

Reaping rewards of maize crop – Shawn McAvinue:

In a bid to protect against the impact of dry conditions, a trial maize crop on a West Otago dairy farm will return next season and be more than twice the size.

Matt Haugh and his partner Kirsten McIntyre own Cottesbrook Dairy, milking 1450 cows across two platforms on about 470ha near Heriot.

Mr Haugh said pasture growth had been good for most of the summer but dry conditions started to bite in late summer and early autumn.

The dry conditions were an “absolute killer”, because the farm traditionally relied on rain at that time of year. . . 

NZ farmer wins world wood-chopping title – Carmelita Mentor-Fredericks:

How much wood could a Kiwi cut if a Kiwi could cut wood?

A lot – if Taumarunui sheep and beef farmer Jack Jordan and Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry’s performances at the Timbersports World Trophy event on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, is anything to go by.

However, it was Jordan who came out tops after taking on national champs, many of whom are lumberjacks from around the world, for the coveted title.

The competition, which is organised by Stihl France, sees 16 competitors take metal to wood as they face off using a variety of chopping tools to out chop each other – whoever chops the most wood in the least amount of time wins. . .


Rural round-up

13/04/2022

How to keep feeding the world and fight climate change – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The latest IPCC report released last week was yet another “last warning” for humanity.

Yet again, the headlines have been designed to create immediate action. And yet again, different groups are pointing the finger at other groups to do something.

Whether or not you agree with the scientists who see positive evidence of anthropogenic global warming (Nasa puts the figure as high as 97%), is irrelevant in a globalised world.

The Glasgow Climate Pact 2021 was signed by 197 countries, including New Zealand. Our trade deals rely on us doing our part, and the success of New Zealand’s export economy is determined by the trade deals. . . 

Call for action over forestry slash in Tairawhiti – Matthew Rosenberg:

A former Gisborne district councillor hopes the council will step in to tighten forestry regulations after photos emerged showing logs clogging a river in Tairāwhiti during recent flooding.

Meanwhile, Gisborne District Council has not confirmed if prosecutions will be made over forestry slash following the recent rain events, but says it is possible.

Ruatoria-based Manu Caddie voiced concern about tonnes of logs and debris clogging waterways, after photos taken by media company Uawa Live showed a jam near Anaura Bay.

It comes after Eastland Wood Council – a collective voice for the forestry sector here – said it was encouraged by the “relatively small” amount of pine found in waterways and on beaches following the flooding two weeks ago. . . 

International workers will help address staff shortage:

Sustained advocacy from the dairy sector has helped secure 500 more international workers to help on dairy farms, however the Government’s border class exceptions still fall short of the sector’s 4,000 worker shortage.

DairyNZ is relieved the Government is allowing an extra 500 international dairy workers into the country through a border class exception. This means 800 international staff will be able to enter New Zealand to work on dairy farms.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says DairyNZ has been working hard to make sure the Government understands the huge pressure farmers are under, due to workforce shortages.

The organisation has pushed for 1500 international dairy workers into the country in time for the 2022 dairy season on 1 June. . . 

New Zealand meat processors and exporters welcome immigration boost :

The announcement by the Government that an additional 500 meat processing workers from overseas will be allowed into New Zealand will help ease the sector’s chronic labour shortages, says the Meat Industry Association.

“We are approximately 2,000 people short and this situation is being exacerbated by a number of our people isolating or having to stay at home to look after family members due to COVID-19,” says Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA.

“Right now, there simply aren’t enough people to process every part of the carcass to maximise its value so these additional workers will certainly help alleviate pressure in the industry.

“Without sufficient labour, companies cannot run their processing plants at the desired capacity. This means less opportunities for hard-working Kiwis, often in the regions to earn a good wage and longer waiting times for farmers to get their livestock processed. That can have a flow-on impact for animal welfare, farmer wellbeing and the regional economy. . .

Farmers urged to take up increased international worker opportunity  :

The government’s announcement today it will open up our borders to an additional 1,580 experienced primary sector workers is a shot in the arm for those struggling to recruit enough staff locally, Federated Farmers says.

“They say good things take time, and Feds has been ratcheting up the pressure for this necessary step for many, many months,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis said.

“Let’s hope the system is agile enough to get these people into New Zealand and out into workplaces by the time we need them – particularly for the super busy spring dairy calving season.”

The new settings include an increase in the current border exception for assistant dairy farm managers, 2ICs, dairy herd managers and dairy farm assistants by 500 to a total of 800 for those earning at least the median wage plus $1 per hour (currently equates to $28 per hour). . . 

NZ’s largest solar farm to be built near Taupo – Marc Daalder:

A solar farm larger than the Auckland and Christchurch CBDs combined could start construction near Taupō as soon as this summer, Marc Daalder reports 

A 400 megawatt solar farm planned for the Taupō region could produce 190 times more electricity than New Zealand’s current largest grid-connected solar facility, Newsroom can reveal.

Nova Energy, owned by the Todd Corporation, has applied for two resource consents from Taupō District Council to construct the project in three stages over six or seven years. When completed, it will involve more than 750,000 individual solar panels and could power 100,000 homes – more than one in every 20 houses across New Zealand.

“To meet the 2050 net carbon zero target, New Zealand needs more renewable energy, which Nova can provide,” the company’s CEO Babu Bahirathan said. . . 


Rural round-up

29/03/2022

Farmers unhappy crucial land will be lost of flooding over the government’s proposed hydro storage scheme at Lake Onslow – Kaysha Brownlie:

The Government is pouring millions into trying to fix New Zealand’s dry year electricity problem. 

But it’s also pouring water on people’s farms in the process.

A $4 billion pumped hydro storage scheme is being investigated against other options to create a battery to store power for when we run low.

One option would involve flooding Lake Onslow, a man-made lake 20 kilometres east of Roxburgh and roughly halfway between Dunedin and Queenstown.  . . 

New Zealand red meat exports top 1 billion in February but pressure mounting on sector :

Current strong export returns for New Zealand red meat face pressure in the coming months due to labour shortages and supply chain disruption, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The industry exported products worth $1.1 billion during February 2022, with increases in value to all major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said current strong meat prices were compensating for a drop in the volume of exports, with sheepmeat volumes down 11 per cent and beef down seven per cent compared to February 2021.

“Absenteeism in processing plants due to staff having to isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the pressure on our industry, which is already dealing with a significant labour shortage and ongoing global logistics challenges. . . 

Meat processors searching for skilled staff during challenging times – Yashas Srinivasa :

South Canterbury’s major meat processors are struggling in their hunt for staff.

Alliance Group’s Smithfield plant in Timaru is 30 workers short during what is an “extremely busy” processing period and require more halal butchers while at Silver Fern Farms, at Pareora, the shortage is around 150 for a season described as one of their most challenging.

Alliance Group general manager manufacturing Willie Wiese said like the rest of the meat processing and exporting industry, they are continuing to deal with labour shortage issues at their plants including Smithfield.

“The sector’s chronic labour shortage has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and border restrictions, which has prevented us from employing a small number of workers from overseas to help make up the shortfall in numbers we can recruit locally,” Wiese said. . .

How a Central Otago farm became Montana for Power of the Dog and the region’s film hopes :

Central Otago will be watching the 94th Academy Awards with anticipation as The Power of the Dog is up for a pack-leading 12 nominations.

The movie, a critical darling, was filmed primarily in Otago.

Dame Jane Campion has become the first woman to be twice nominated for best director, while its stars are also up for most of the major categories and the movie is tipped as favourite for best picture.

But closer to home it is the uncredited co-star – the sparse landscape of Maniototo – filling locals with pride. . . 

Wool Impact NZ plans for positive impact – Country Life:

Carpet marketer Wools of New Zealand says demand for woolen carpet is lifting and the new body forming to help the struggling strong wool industry will give it a further boost.

Wool Impact NZ will launch mid-year with the aim of working with brands to get strong-wool products into markets quickly and speed up returns to farmers.

Wools of NZ chair John McWhirter says in the past 6 to 12 months the demand for wool carpet has lifted from 15 percent of the soft flooring market to 20 percent.

“And what’s exciting about that is when you think about it, that’s actually a 25% increase in demand for wool carpet. Yes, it’s off a  small base. But it’s a clear signal that consumers are actually moving back to wool, to natural fibres and away from man-made fibres.” .  . 

 

 

Kabocha Milk Co wins 2 global wards for best health wellness drink and best plant based beverage with Kabochamilk :

 Fresh Kabocha (also known as pumpkin or squash – and not to be confused with ‘Kombucha’) has been eaten by the people of Japan, Korea & China since 1541. It is revered for its high Vitamin A & C content, and rich fibre and mineral content.

• Kabochamilk was created in collaboration between between veteran Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Japanese NZ celebrity chef Sachie Nomura with the goal of creating a visually beautiful, nutritious plant milk that isn’t affected by seasonality and can be consumed any time of the day.

• Kabochamilk upcycles NZ Kabocha and provides a high-value export opportunity – positively impacting nature and communities.

Kabocha Milk Co.– proudly made in the Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand has scooped another two international food innovation awards – this time at the 2022 World Food Innovations in London as the “Best Health and Wellness Drink” and “Best Plant Based Beverage” . . 


Rural round-up

15/03/2022

War and sanctions have caused commodities chaos :

Global commodity crises tend to cause severe economic damage and political upheaval. The oil shocks of the 1970s left Western economies with runaway inflation and deep recessions. Oil revenues also helped prop up the Soviet Union and fuelled the export of Saudi extremism. Soaring grain prices in 2010 and 2011 were a trigger for the street protests that led to the Arab spring and the toppling of dictators.

Today Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unleashing the biggest commodity shock since 1973, and one of the worst disruptions to wheat supplies since the first world war. Although commodity exchanges are already in chaos, ordinary folk have yet to feel the full effects of rising petrol bills, empty stomachs and political instability. But make no mistake, those things are coming–and dramatically so if sanctions on Russia tighten further, and if Vladimir Putin retaliates. Western governments need to respond to the commodity threat as determinedly as to Putin’s aggression.

The turmoil unfolding in energy, metals and food markets is broad and savage. Overall indices of commodity prices are now 26 per cent higher than at the start of 2022. The cost of a barrel of Brent crude oil has swung wildly around levels that indicate the biggest supply shock since Saddam Hussein’s army crossed from Iraq into Kuwait in 1990.

European gas prices have almost trebled amid panic that pipelines from the east will be blown up or starved of supply. The price of nickel, used in all-electric cars among other things, has spiraled so high that trading in London has been halted and Chinese speculators are nursing multi-billion-dollar losses. . . 

Ukraine farmer warns of looming food crisis – Country Life:

Ukrainian villagers and farmers have been thrown back into the Middle Ages, slaughtering pigs and milking cows by hand in an effort to keep the country fed, a farmer in Ukraine says.

Kees Huizinga said Russia’s invasion of its neighbour was not only creating a humanitarian catastrophe at home, but also a global food security crisis.

For the past 20 years the Dutchman has farmed 15,000 hectares about 200 kilometres south of the capital Kyiv.

He also milks 2000 cows, keeps 450 sows and plants a range of crops including wheat – the grain which helped give Ukraine, together with Russia, the moniker “breadbasket of Europe”. . . 

Farming in a pressure cooker – Colin Williscroft:

A rapidly changing world is forcing change on farmers faster than ever before, but 2019 Nuffield scholar Corrigan Sowman suggests taking some lessons from the All Blacks’ playbook can help.

A presenter at the Farmax conference webinar held on March 9-10, Sowman spoke on the topic of his Nuffield study paper, Farming in a Pressure Cooker, and applied it to farming three years on.

In his earlier paper, he noted that global agriculture was at a crossroads, with past practices no longer deemed acceptable and often scrutinised by people with half the facts and pressure on farmers compounding as a result. 

He said some farmers were being overwhelmed by the situation, which was reflected in their mental health. . .  

New Zealand red meat export values grow despite pressures on sector :

New Zealand’s red meat sector is continuing to achieve strong export results in the face of considerable labour shortages and global supply chain disruption, says the Meat Industry Association.

The latest MIA analysis shows the industry is overcoming significant headwinds with exports reaching $940 million during January, a 27 per cent increase by value on January 2021.

The value of exports increased to nearly all the major markets. China was up 25 per cent to $398m, the United States up 32 per cent to $195m, the United Kingdom up nine per cent to $41m and Japan up 76 per cent to $40m.

“January was another very positive month for exports, which reflects the efforts across the sector to overcome the many challenges in processing and exporting,” said MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

Hard work bears fruit for Central Otago orchardist – Country Life:

Kevin Jackson and his team go out on a limb to ensure the harvesting season runs smoothly at Jackson Orchards in Cromwell.

Kevin’s original orchard was located in the Cromwell Gorge but he was forced to leave the property when the Clyde Dam was being built.

Keen to stay local, he bought two large blocks of fertile land overlooking Lake Dunstan and developed new orchards and a roadside fruit shop.

“We started planting in 1969 and it was spread over five years before the total property was fully planted,” he says. . . 

 

Big wheat trouble in China – Andrew Whitelaw:

The Snapshot

  • The Chinese ag minister has declared that the winter wheat crop will be the worst in history.
  • >90% of the Chinese wheat crop is winter planted.
  • China is a huge producer of grain but requires a large import program.
  • Australia no longer sends barley, but we send wheat to China.
  • China has huge stockpiles (on paper) but has increased the import volumes during the past two years.
  • 2022 will test whether those stocks are as large as government sources suggest.
  • This development will likely see imports remain strong.

 


Rural round-up

04/03/2022

Farmers short changed by Labour yet again :

Labour needs to explain why it is severely restricting the number of dairy farm workers allowed into the country for no apparent reason, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford and Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger say.

“Last year the dairy sector requested border exceptions for 1500 international dairy workers that were urgently needed for this year’s calving season,” Ms Stanford says.

“But the Government only granted 300, meaning this crucial sector will be short staffed and overworked for yet another season.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, but farmers have had enough of the constant roadblocks from this Labour Government – this time in the refusal to grant border exceptions for urgently-needed workers.” . .

NZ-UK FTA ‘significant boost’ for farmers – Sally Rae:

The signing of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom represents a “significant boost” for New Zealand farmers and exporters, the Meat Industry Association says.

Lamb and beef would eventually be allowed quota- and tariff-free access for the first time in decades, it said.

Under the FTA, New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat exports to the UK would be fully liberalised over time, with no duties from the 16th year after the deal came into force following ratification by both countries.

During this time, beef and sheepmeat would be subject to duty-free transitional quotas, the quota for New Zealand beef rising in annual instalments from a starting point of 12,000 tonnes until it reaches 60,000 metric tonnes in year 15, after which it would be duty- and tariff-free. . . 

Businesses concerned over Gisborne’s kiwifruit ‘rates grab’ – Nikki Mandow:

The district councils attempt to treat kiwifruit licences as rateable land improvements will have wide-reaching affects on other businesses.

Kiwifruit grower Tim Tietjen didn’t know the Gisborne District Council would be doubling the rates bill for his property until he read about it in the local paper.

In a radical shift from previous rating policy, the council had decided licences for the SunGold or G3 variety of gold kiwifruit – licences Tietjen and his fellow growers buy from kiwifruit marketer Zespri – would now be counted as land improvements and billed accordingly.

Instead of his property having a rated value of $2.8 million, it was now calculated at $4.1 million. . . 

Build a resilient farm business with bloody good tips from DWN and DairyNZ :

Dairy Women’s Network are helping current and future farm owners and teams to future-proof their businesses with a webinar series on How to Build a Bloody Good Business, funded by DairyNZ.

Run between the 7th and the 10th of March, the online webinar series will look at the qualities of a resilient business and strategies that can be implemented to protect your current or future business from the unknown; how to increase the resilience of your team when considering the current talent shortage; and the role that different systems and technology can play in building a healthy and successful business.

Speakers from ASB, Xero, Figured and McIntyre Dick and Partners (part of NZ CA Group Limited) will discuss and answer questions on how great financial business systems will help your business thrive, led by people and strategy specialist Lee Astridge from No8HR. . .

NZ wine industry welcomes UK free trade agreement :

New Zealand Winegrowers is pleased with today’s announcement that New Zealand has signed a historic free trade deal with the United Kingdom.

“The agreement is very positive for the New Zealand wine industry. This will help remove technical barriers to trade, and minimise burdens from certification and labelling requirements. It will also support future growth in the market, and encourage exporters to focus on the UK,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Carbon neutral sheep and beef farm on the market for sale for the first time in 100 years:

A substantial highly developed sheep and beef breeding and finishing farm which has been continuously owned by members of the founder’s family for the past 100-years has been placed on the market for sale.

The 1,038-hectare property known as Te Maire at Flemington just south of Waipukurau in Southern Hawke’s Bay was established in 1920 by S.A. Robinson Senior who purchased 203-hectares following the splitting up of Tourere Station.

Over the ensuing decades, Robinson’s sons, and their sons, added to the property – buying neighbouring blocks with their associated infrastructure, and expanding Te Maire to its current size which is subdivided into some 222 paddocks.

Generations of the Robinson family have taken an environmental approach to Te Maire’s expansion – always conscious of balancing ecological aspects with improving productivity. . . 


Rural round-up

16/02/2022

The folly of carbon farming with pine trees – Dame Anne Salmond:

It’s time for Labour and the Greens to rescue their climate consciences and stop plans to plant vast, environmentally risky pine forests as a way of offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions

Opinion: In New Zealand, we have a Labour-Green government at present. There are many smart, switched on people, both in the Government and in Parliament. For tackling Covid-19, we now have a cross-party consensus that largely follows scientific advice on how best to deal with the pandemic.

Why then, is it so different when it comes to dealing with climate change? It is difficult to imagine a less sustainable set of strategies than those that New Zealand took to COP-26 in Glasgow last November. These were short sighted and cynical, winning New Zealand a second ‘Climate Fossil’ award, for good reason.

Unfortunately, New Zealand’s ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ to COP-26 at home relies on covering our landscapes with short-lived, shallow rooting, highly flammable monocultures of pine trees. This kind of ‘off-setting’ is high risk, socially, ecologically and economically. . . 

Unseasonable rain behind arable ‘harvest from hell’ – Feds :

Three weeks of on and off rain, with the weekend’s storm a sting in the tail, have caused widespread damage to arable crops up and down the country.

“Talking to farmers who have been around for a while, some of them are calling it the worst harvest season in living memory,” Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Colin Hurst said.

“Normally we’d be most of the way through harvest by now but three weeks of continual rain held everything up, and now many parts of the country were hammered by the remnants of the cyclone.”

Only Southland seems relatively unaffected. . .

Avocado, kiwifruit growers counting costs of Cyclone Dovi’s winds :

The strong winds that lashed the country at the weekend have caused significant damage to some kiwifruit and avocado orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

Cyclone Dovi caused flooding, downed trees and cut power to homes.

Bay of Plenty orchardist Hugh Moore said some avocado trees were completely uprooted by the wind, while others had lost branches full of fruit.

He said both new season fruit and the last of this season’s crop have been impacted. . . 

Upfront: log exports explained – Marcus Musson, Forest360:

If a tree falls in the forest … should it be exported?

Exporting primary products from New Zealand has long been celebrated and underpins our economy and way of life. We all hail increased dairy and meat exports, are more than happy our best fruit and crayfish go offshore but throw our toys out of the cot about log exports.

Most elections will see some ill-informed politician standing in front of a wharf full of logs pontificating about keeping the logs for our local industry. Builders are quick to point the finger at log exporters for high lumber prices and supply issues assuming it’s caused by the log exports.

For perspective, think of trees as sheep and cows. They’re all cut into different products for different markets. Your favourite restaurant in Parnell isn’t likely to serve you up a medium rare sheep bladder and the pet food factory probably doesn’t have much demand for a lamb rack. Logs are no different except, unlike the fruit and fishing industries, we keep most of our good product here for our domestic sawmills and export bladder and brains grades of logs. . . 

New Zealand’s red meat processing and exporting sector announces new scholars for 2022 :

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) has awarded new scholarships to seven young New Zealanders considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector.

Every year, the Meat Industry Association awards a number of undergraduate ($5,000 per year) and post-graduate ($10,000 per year) scholarships. The organisation currently has a total of 21 scholars, with 14 existing scholars also continuing to receive support under the scheme.

This year’s new scholars are studying subjects ranging from food science to agribusiness, food marketing and supply chain management.

The returning scholars include both undergraduate and post graduate students, studying at a range of universities across New Zealand and internationally. . . 

Kacific and farmer Charlie team up to grow agricultural output and support sustainable development across Pacific:

Kacific Broadband Satellites and Farmer Charlie will bring affordable satellite-powered agricultural information and expertise to farmers in remote and isolated places across South East Asia and the Pacific.

The companies have signed an MoU supporting sustainable development and agriculture in small holdings across the region.

Kacific and Farmer Charlie will work together to deliver agricultural advice, localised weather information, and agribusiness information – including data from in-field sensors — to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses, helping them improve land management and food production using smart digital tools. It will also help them reduce post-harvest loss, better manage the risk of drought, floods, and other extreme weather events and address the impacts of climate change. . . 


Rural round-up

08/02/2022

NZ”s border opening ‘too little too late’ – horticulture industry chief

New Zealand’s five-stage plan to reopen the border has come “too little, too late” for the RSE Scheme and does not spell the end of challenges currently crippling the industry, officials warn.

They say more could and should have been done to avoid the crisis facing the 2021-2022 harvest season.

From 28 February, New Zealanders will be able to arrive back from Australia and expatriates from the rest of the world can return from 14 March.

Aotearoa was expected to open to foreigners from visa-waiver countries such as the United States no later than July. . . 

Rhys Roberts crowned New Zealand winner of top agri-award:

An entrepreneurial approach to primary production has resulted in Rhys Roberts of mid-Canterbury receiving the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award.

Rhys Roberts is Chief Executive of the Align Group, who operate 7 farms, a market garden, and are vertically integrated with a yoghurt brand and milk processing facility.

The Zanda McDonald Award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. Rhys will receive an impressive trans-Tasman prize package centred around mentoring, education and training that is 100% tailored to his needs.

Roberts is passionate about food production and future workplaces. He’s currently running a regenerative agriculture project trial to monitor farm productivity, animal health, human health and environmental outcomes. His focus on building a ‘future workplace’ has resulted in creating a market garden that feeds his team through the fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and eggs from their farms. All of the team are on fully flexible rosters, and can manage their own schedules, choosing shifts that suit them. This frees them up for about 1000 hours combined per year, which they reinvest into the community.

Zanda McDonald Award Patron Shane McManaway says “Rhys is highly ambitious, and he’s prepared to break the mold of the past and do things differently. Some of the results he’s seeing, due to his innovative approach, are nothing short of exceptional. He has a strong environmental and wellbeing focus, as well as creating a significant difference to the company’s bottom line. As judges, we were extremely impressed and inspired by his leadership, and know he has a very strong future ahead of him.” . . 

Luring Kiwis back to farm essential amid border closures – Adam Burns:

The agricultural sector in North Canterbury has expressed relief at the Government’s border reopening plan, but those on the ground have highlighted a wider issue farmers are facing – a lack of home-grown skilled labour.

This has been compounded by farmers being unable to secure skilled workers off shore, due to a tightening of restrictions at the border over the past 24 months, causing significant strain for many in the primary sector.

Record low unemployment, which dropped to 3.2 per cent this week, further underlined how competitive the labour market was becoming.

But the agricultural industry is relieved some respite may be on the cards as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined a phased plan on Thursday to reopen the country. It starts with vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible workers from Australia from 27 February. . . 

NZ red meat sector achieves record exports during 2021 :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $10 billion in 2021 despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The exports represented a nine per cent increase on 2020. The value of red meat and co-products exported in December 2021 was also up 22 per cent year on year, at just over $1 billion.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said the sector had worked tirelessly in the face of ongoing global logistical challenges to continue to achieve the best possible results for farmers, the 25,000 people working in the industry and for the New Zealand economy.

“Despite all the disruptions and labour shortages, we were able to make the most of the global demand for red meat and generate record export revenue. . . 

Western Australia wool industry fears shearer exodus following NZ border opening

Kiwi shearers in Western Australia (WA) are already planning to return to New Zealand after the country announced its border reopening plan.

If they do return, WA’s wool industry may be unable to keep up with demands for shearing, putting animal welfare and lambs’ lives at risk.

Aromia Ngarangioni, a shearer in the Great Southern region of WA, estimates 60 percent of shearers working in WA are New Zealanders.

Like many, it has been years since Ngarangioni has been able to go home. . . 

 

NZ Dairy Industry regional wards dinner go ahead in red :

With judging for the 11 regional programmes underway around the country, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Award’s attention is turning to the regional award dinners being held in March and April.

After consultation with regional teams and national sponsors, the much-anticipated evenings will continue, following government guidelines for events in Red level.

“We know these award dinners are an important part of the rural community’s calendar on many levels, which is why we will follow government guidelines to deliver an evening where success can be recognised and celebrated,” says NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon.

“This means the dinners will have a maximum attendance of 100 people, who will be required to show vaccine passes at the venue. . .


Rural round-up

18/12/2021

 Government ‘tone deaf’ to meat industry’s needs – Sally Rae:

The Meat Industry Association has lambasted what is understood to be the approval of 15 long-term critical worker visas for halal butchers – when 45 are “desperately” needed – saying it shows the Government is “tone deaf to the needs of business”.

Muslim markets and many customers demanded meat be processed in the halal way; 49 out of 55 processing plants in New Zealand operated halal systems and relied on 250 halal butchers.

In a statement yesterday, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the “miserly” approval knee-capped the ability of the second-largest goods export sector to fully contribute to New Zealand’s economy and capture higher value from its exports.

Halal certified products contributed about $3.7 billion of annual export earnings. The sector could typically recruit only 100 halal butchers domestically due to New Zealand’s small Muslim population and the nature of the job. . . 

Farmers will want to milk it – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers will be milking cows for as long as they can to capitalise on a record milk price this season.

Soaring farm input costs may erode profit margins, but a milk price near $9/kgMS provides farmers the chance to boost income and reduce debt.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says farmers around the globe are facing inflationary pressures and NZ is no exception.

“But I don’t think there will be any adverse reaction to milk production,” says Hurrell. . .

T&G Global to invest millions in automated packhouse, orchard redevelopment

Produce company T&G Global has announced it will pour in millions of dollars to expand its apples business to meet growing consumer demand. 

The company will invest $100 million into a new automated packhouse and has committed millions more to orchard redevelopment across Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

The announcement comes after T&G downgraded its full-year profit expectations in October, due to persistent labour shortages and rising shipping costs.

T&G, which is one of New Zealand’s largest apple growers and marketers, said its premium Envy apple was on track to be a billion-dollar brand. . . 

Funding of hemp fibre innovation set to propel New Zealand on to world stage :

New Government funding will help a New Zealand hemp fibre company explore untapped opportunities – from soft flooring to food packaging that’s more environmentally sustainable.

The Government is contributing $1.34 million through MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to New Zealand Natural Fibres’ (NZNF) five-year research and development programme project. NZNF is the only hemp fibre company in New Zealand that controls its own supply chain end-to-end. The company is contributing a further $2 million in cash and in kind to the project.

“We plan to use the SFF Futures funding to develop our hemp growing, processing and marketing capability to ‘go further, faster’ towards taking a global leadership position in the development of industrial and consumer products made from hemp fibre,” says NZNF CEO Colin McKenzie.

“We are very pleased to have received government backing to continue our work with hemp fibre, which has huge potential to be part of the solution to some of the most crucial environmental challenges facing our planet today. . . 

Gearing up for harvest:

The export cherry season is now underway and in New Zealand, summerfruit has started appearing in the supermarkets.  In other words, the new season’s fruit harvest is gathering pace, as Christmas fast approaches and the great kiwi summer getaway also gets underway. 

Tomorrow, the Auckland borders will finally be open. Unfortunately across some areas of the country, there is apprehension and reservations about this change.  But let’s not pre-empt any negative thoughts.  Our Auckland comrades have done it very hard for a long period.  To help growers and packhouse operators prepare for in the event of a positive Covid test, we have worked with the Ministry of Primary Industries to pull together advice on what to do.  Click here to access that advice. 

The most important things to do are to isolate the worker and their bubble, alert your local District Health Board and follow their instructions regarding the public health implications, and contact your product group for further advice.  In terms of any media interest, it is recommended to direct any journalist to your product group or HortNZ for any comment as you will be busy managing the response and we are all here to help you.  . . 

Once perceived as a problem, conservation grazing by cattle a boon to vernal pools :

Giving 1,200-pound cows access to one of California’s most fragile and biologically rich ecosystems seems a strange way to protect its threatened and endangered species.

But a recently published study suggests that reintroducing low to moderate levels of cattle grazing around vernal pools – under certain conditions – leads to a greater number and greater variety of native plants.

“We found that after 40 years of rest from grazing, reintroducing conservation grazing had – across the board – positive impacts on vernal pool plant diversity,” said Julia Michaels, a visiting professor at Reed College who led a three-year study in a Sacramento-area reserve during her time as a UC Davis Ph.D. student.

Ecologists consider vernal pools – ephemeral ponds that form seasonally – “islands of native habitat” amid California’s grasslands that are dominated by exotic grasses. These biodiversity hotspots harbor about 200 native species of animals and plants, such as the coyote thistle, which germinates under water and forms a snorkel-like straw to deliver oxygen to its roots – and then “fills in” its stem as the pool dries. . . 


Rural round-up

10/12/2021

Feds backs withdrawal from governments archaic pay agreement laws :

Federated Farmers supports Business New Zealand’s decision to opt out of the government’s plans for it to be a partner in implementing so-called ‘Fair Pay’ agreements.

Federated Farmers has already indicated it will not function as a mediator for the government’s flawed pay negotiation scheme.

It fully supports Business New Zealand’s decision.
“We support them and for the same reasons they outline we will also refuse to be a negotiating partner for agricultural employers.

“We call on other agricultural organizations to take a similar stance,” employment spokesperson and national board member Chris Lewis says. . .

Fonterra’s Flexible Shareholding structure gets green light from farmers :

Fonterra shareholders have today given the Co-operative’s new capital structure proposal the green light with 85.16% of the total farmer votes in support of the proposal.

The final votes on the capital structure proposal were cast at a Special Meeting in Invercargill early this afternoon.

Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

“Today our farmers have agreed. We have received a strong mandate for change with 85.16% of votes cast in favour of the proposal and 82.65% of eligible votes being cast, , 

Rural schools cry out for mental health support – Matthew Scott:

Without proper access to mental health services for students, teachers in rural schools are left putting out fires

On paper, it was a dream job.

Sarah* had taught at an urban intermediate school for six years before packing up and moving to the country.

Her new school in rural Manawatu meant teaching a class of 18 students rather than her old class of 31. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports increase by 27 percent:

The value of New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $693 million during October, a 27 per cent increase year-on-year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat was a standout performer with the value increasing by 25 per cent to $309m. The major sheepmeat markets by value were China, up 25 per cent to $131m, the United States, up 54 per cent to $46m, and the Netherlands, up 94 per cent to $29m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said a mixture of supply constraints and good demand in key markets had contributed to the high sheepmeat prices. These factors included Brexit-related issues and Australia rebuilding its sheep flock.

“The average Free on Board* (FOB) value for sheepmeat exports for the quarter was $12.52/kg,” said Ms Karapeeva. . .

Forest Owners say Fish and Game barking up wrong tree :

The Forest Owners Association says Fish and Game’s criticism of exotic plantation forests doesn’t accord with reality.

“Fish and Game is, quite simply, barking up the wrong tree when it invents what it calls a ‘myriad of adverse impacts’ from exotic forests,” says Phil Taylor, the FOA President.

“It is true that forests moderate rainfall entering waterways – which reduces the risk of floods. But that also applies to native trees – which Fish and Game wants a lot more of – as well as to exotics – which Fish and Game wants less of.”

“The same applies to water quality. Water emerging out of forests is cleaner than that flowing off farmland – irrespective of the type of forest or type of farmland,” Phil Taylor says. . .

Te Mata Exports acquire rights to Bay Queen™ Apple:

New Zealand produce exporter, Te Mata Exports Limited, has acquired the exclusive rights to a new early season apple variety.

Developed by Hawke’s Bay growing operation, Bayley Produce, the Bay Queen™ is New Zealand’s earliest export apple variety. Bay Queen™ has a vibrant bright full block red colour with crisp flesh and it’s smooth, sweet balance makes it broadly appealing.

Te Mata Exports and Bayley Produce have enjoyed a close working relationship for 10 years, originally partnering to manage the global sale and distribution of apples and summerfruit, and more recently working together to trial and commercialise the Bay Queen™.

The exclusive rights will see Te Mata Exports manage all tree distribution, planting, exporting and marketing. . . .


Rural round-up

25/11/2021

Surge of demand for NZ meat, continuing supply chain disruption predicted for 2022 :

Disruption that has permeated primary sectors throughout 2021 will persist next year, a report from rural lender Rabobank says.

Demand was strong and set to grow further as economies continued to reopen, and balancing high costs through the supply chain would be a key challenge according to the Global Animal Protein Outlook report.

Rabobank global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard said changes within the market would be an opportunity for growth, rather than solely a risk.

“Rabobank sees agile business leadership as the most likely route to sustainable growth and is advising firms to embrace consumer preferences for sustainability and to be prepared for a surge in demand as economies continue to reopen and adjust following Covid-19-induced lockdowns.” . . 

Groundswell here to say – ODT Editorial:

It was always going to be a hard act to follow.

After the phenomenal turnout for Groundswell New Zealand’s Howl of a Protest in July — estimated nationally at around 60,000 people — the probability of a repeat performance seemed less likely.

Yet the turnout for the second protest event on Sunday, dubbed Mother of All Protests, showed the depth of feeling that continues to exist in the rural community, as horn-honking tractors and placard-bearing utes rolled into towns and cities throughout the country. From humble beginnings, dreamed up by a couple of concerned cockies in the South, Groundswell has become a juggernaut and that has brought its own difficulties.

Unable to manage all aspects of it, Groundswell has been forced to distance itself from controversy — as claims have been made linking it from everybody from Brian Tamaki to other anti-vaxxers — with social media unhelpfully helping to fuel the fire of misinformation. Throw in some particularly distasteful posts from agribusinessman Ross Townshend, a former Groundswell organiser in the North Island who should have known better and who has been kicked to touch by Tatua, the dairy company on whose board he was a director, and it has not helped the Groundswell name. . . 

Forget Groundswell: now farmers are in a real fight – Richard Harman:

Forget the tractors and the angry groundswell signs; the real battle between farmers and the Government kicked off yesterday when farmers got the formal proposal to price methane and nitrous oxide emissions from their farms.

The stakes, both political and economic, are huge.

That much was clear yesterday in the immediate reaction of Federated Farmers who even though they have been involved in developing the proposal offered it only a guarded welcome.

Farmers have been offered two schemes to consider; one which would price the methane according to a complex calculation based on the Farm Environmental Plan of how much methane their farm emitted. The other is a more straightforward levy on milk and meat delivered to processors. . .

No rest for the wicked at Less Valley Station :

The new farm manager at one of New Zealand’s biggest sheep and beef properties in North Canterbury has hit the ground running.

As well as getting up to speed with a holistic grazing system established by the farm’s US owners, Michael Whyte is also dealing with extensive damage to infrastructure caused by devastating floods in June.

The down-to earth farmer is relishing the challenge of running Lees Valley Station.

“I’m enjoying the valley life, but it’s also the climate. I love the seasonal changes. You get up in the morning and you don’t know if it’s going to snow or be 30 degrees. It’s really quiet and peaceful too,” he says. . .

Heritage vegetables, vintage tools, full skirts and bonnets – Guy Frederick:

It’s hard to believe that on September 1, 2020 there was nothing but a bare patch of ground where there is now a thriving vegetable garden.

Six months later, in the historic Totara Estate just south of Oamaru, bees were happily resident, herbs in full flower, and big, blood red, healthy beetroots were being pulled from the soil. It felt like the garden had been there for a mighty long time.

“We have to get cracking,” Alison Albiston had said in early September when she first visited the site, referring to summer’s imminent arrival.

Headhunted by Totara Estate Manager Keren Mackay and resident guide and cook Annie Baxter, Albiston jumped at the opportunity to get stuck into a project involving soils and plants, coinciding with her move into Oamaru after 45 years of country living at Burnside Homestead, inland from Oamaru, where Albiston and her husband Bruce lovingly restored the property to its original plans. . .

Halal certified red meat exports jump  :

Halal-certified red meat exports increased 13 per cent during the 2020-2021 season with most product going to non-Muslim markets, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported a total of 471,072 tonnes of halal product during the season (12 months ending 30 September) – 46.5 per cent of total red meat and offal exports. This compared to 417,323 tonnes during 2019-2020.

China was the largest market for New Zealand halal-certified red meat during the 2020-2021 season, purchasing 341,618 tonnes, 74 per cent of the total and a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.

The United States was the second highest with 20,042 tonnes, followed by Canada’s 18,945 tonnes, Indonesia with 17,604 tonnes, Saudi Arabia with 7,710 tonnes and Malaysia with 7,289 tonnes. . . 


Rural round-up

08/11/2021

Farmers urged to create Covid-19 checklist :

Farmers are being urged to create a check list on how to run their farm in case they get Covid-19 and can’t do so themselves.

Federated Farmers and other industry groups arranged an online meeting where farmers could put questions to experts about the virus, isolating on farm and vaccines to experts yesterday.

One specific question was what would happen if they’re not well enough to take care of their stock.

Federated Farmers team leader of industry policy Julie Geange said from a legal stand point the responsibility for animal welfare sits with the owner of the animal or the person in charge. . . 

Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalists announced for season 54 :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Aorangi Regional Final have been selected.

The preliminary stages of the contest have wrapped up for the region, with the top eight competitors selected out of 27, across two district contests (Aorangi North and Aorangi South).

Dairy farmer Peter O’Connor, DairyNZ Extension Partner Hugh Jackson, Senior Machinery Operator Lachlan Angland, Irrigation Management Technician Jess Cunliffe, new mother and casual shepherd Alice Perry, shepherd Tom Adkins, sheep beef dairy and walnut farmer James Hurst, and Daniel Durdle have qualified.

Only one person will win Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year, to qualify for the Grand Final in July, in Whangarei. . . 

Farmlands co-operative announces $8.1m NPBTR :

Rural service and supplies co-operative Farmlands has today announced an $8.1 million Net Profit Before Tax and Rebates for the 2020/21 financial year.

The result comes on the back of $2.7 billion in turnover and $1.1 billion in revenue. Farmlands’ more than 75,000 shareholders nationwide received $94.2 million in monthly rebates, discounts and loyalty reward redemptions over the course of the year.

COVID-19 again played a part in a result Chair Rob Hewett called “a pass mark and little more” and paid tribute to the hard work of staff across a challenging year. . .

Fonterra and VitaKey partner to enhance dairy’s contribution to health and wellness :

Looking to a future where it is likely that many foods will be more valued for their specific health benefits, Fonterra and VitaKey Inc. announced today a transformative dairy science collaboration to further unlock the benefits of Fonterra’s probiotic strains.

VitaKey specialises in precision delivery of nutrition – an emerging area of research that seeks to deliver the right nutrients, in the right amount, to the right part of the body at the right time.

Co-founded by Dr. Robert Langer, the VitaKey delivery technology platform for nutrients is based on technology licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and developed at the Langer Lab, the largest academic biomedical engineering lab in the world.

Utilising VitaKey’s proprietary technology and customised solutions, Fonterra is looking to design dairy products that incorporate targeted and time-controlled release of specific dairy nutrients, starting with probiotics, in a way that locks in the freshness for longer and allows the nutrients to be more active and beneficial in the body. . .

Applications open for 2022 Meat Industry Association scholarships :

Students considering a future career in New Zealand’s red meat industry are encouraged to apply for a 2022 Meat Industry Association (MIA) Scholarship.

Applications are now open for four MIA undergraduate scholarships, providing $5,000 a year for each year of study, and one post-graduate award of $10,000 a year for each year of study up to a maximum of three years for both. The association also runs a mentoring programme connecting the scholars with industry leaders.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the programme is aimed at scholars from across a wide range of study areas, who are looking to contribute their skills to New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Our scholarships provide a great pathway into a productive, innovative and progressive sector. Attracting skilled people and supporting their development is essential to the success of the industry. That in turn is critical to the prosperity and wealth of the country. . . 

Hazard classification underway for two fungicides :

A proposal to update the hazard classification of two fungicides, in line with changes recently made in the European Union and Australia, is now open for public submissions.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has initiated an application for a modified reassessment of the fungicides, propiconazole and tebuconazole. Both are active ingredients in timber treatments, and are also pesticides used on a range of cereal and fruit crops.

There are 125 mixtures approved for use in this country containing either propiconazole or tebuconazole. They can only be applied by trained professionals in commercial settings.

The EPA’s modified reassessment seeks to update the hazard classification of both substances, after investigations by EPA scientists, and conclusions from the EU and Australia on adverse health effects on the reproductive system. . . 


Rural round-up

03/11/2021

Business owner: ‘They won’t let me home to run our company’ –  Evan Harding:

The frustrated owners of a large farm contracting business have been stuck in Australia for six weeks, unable to secure MIQ spots to return to New Zealand and run their company.

The couple, Lindsay and Kaz Harliwich, say the Government’s MIQ [managed isolation and quarantine] system is “cruel”, and can’t understand how some sportspeople are allowed home but they and others aren’t.

They have tried to secure MIQ spots for six weeks running, but had been unsuccessful on each occasion.

Kaz Harliwich said they had not applied for emergency allocation spots in the MIQ system because there were no options for business people to do so. . .

Rural kiwis need to step up vaccination rates – Jamie Mackay:

I’ve always subscribed to the theory that heroes need to be older than their admirers. And I’ve (nearly) always practised what I’ve preached.

Sure, Richie McCaw sorely tested my resolve in 2015 when I wanted to run on to Twickenham to kiss him after he heroically led the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup glory, but the security guards were having none of it. Besides, I was a 50-something at the time and it would have all been a bit too undignified and cringeworthy.

So, yeah. Nah. My heroes belonged to a previous generation. Colin Meads, Brian Lochore and Ian Kirkpatrick. Sadly only Kirky, scorer of the greatest All Blacks test try of all time, remains with us. Sir Colin and Sir Brian are gone, but never forgotten. Heroes are, after all, for keeps.

When I was a seven-year-old growing up on a Southland farm, the 1967 All Blacks dominated my life and their poster adorned my bedroom wall. They remained in pride of place for the best part of a decade, until they were superseded by a brief, and embarrassing, infatuation with Farrah Fawcett-Majors (tail-end Boomers will know who I’m talking about). Mercifully, Farrah was relinquished for a real girlfriend but my love for the 1967 All Blacks has never waned. . .

Fed Farmers rubbishes Ashburton feedlot criticism among probe – Adam Burns:

Federated Farmers’ Mid Canterbury president says the animal and environmental standards of a major Ashburton farming feedlot under investigation are world class.

David Clark has rubbished fierce criticism from an environmentalist who has accused the Five Star Beef feedlot of animal cruelty in a series of social media posts recently.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirmed its animal welfare inspectors are conducting an investigation at the ANZCO-owned Five Star Beef feedlot this week after receiving a complaint.

Environmentalist Geoff Reid posted several aerial photos of the feedlot on both his Facebook and Instagram channels, condemning the operation. . . 

 

Business blooming for Southland tulips with $1.6m Dutch investment –  Blair Jackson:

A $1.6 million investment by way of the Netherlands signals growth for a Southland tulip business.

Horizon Flowers NZ plants and processes tulip bulbs for export, from Mabel Bush.

The business’ ultimate holding company is Dutch, and the Overseas Investment Office signed-off on the deal in September.

For the $1.6m investment, Horizon Flowers NZ have acquired a freehold interest in 41.5 hectares, adjoining its current bulb processing facility, information from the investment office shows. . .

New Zealand-United Kingdom trade agreement boost for red meat sector :

The Agreement in Principle (AIP) signed between New Zealand and the United Kingdom represents a significant boost for New Zealand’s red meat sector.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) say farmers, processors, exporters and the New Zealand economy will benefit from greater export revenue once the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) trade deal is signed and ratified.

Key features of the AIP include improved access for high-quality New Zealand beef and more certainty for sheepmeat exports. The New Zealand red meat sector has not had quota free access to the British market since the United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1973.

While there are still some issues to be worked through, Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, says the AIP is an important step towards the conclusion of an FTA between the two countries and builds upon the strong trade links between the United Kingdom and New Zealand. . . 

15 stores recognised for excellence promoting NZ cheese :

Fifteen stores – from Auckland to Oamaru – that specialise in selling locally made cheese have been named Top NZ Cheese Stores for 2021, marking the end of a successful NZ Cheese Month.

This is the second year the New Zealand Speciality Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) has recognised cheese shops across Aotearoa which celebrate and support the local industry by educating cheese lovers and promoting locally made cheese.

Announcing the Top NZ Cheese Stores for 2021, NZSCA Chair, Catherine McNamara said it was wonderful for the country’s speciality cheesemakers to be supported by such a strong and vibrant retail culture. . . 


Rural round-up

18/10/2021

Sector mulls staff vaccination options – Neal Wallace:

The meat industry wants mandatory vaccination of processing staff against covid-19, but says it requires Government help to make that happen.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is high-risk and the Government should extend the same protection to it as the recently announced mandatory vaccination for health and education sector employees.

“At present, our industry is unable to make vaccination a mandatory requirement for employees,” Karapeeva said.

“Although processors could look at making vaccination a health and safety requirement at plants, this is a difficult and complex process and would require companies to undertake an assessment of the different risks of vaccinated people versus unvaccinated people.”  . . 

This sister-run business aims to show people a more sustainable way to eat meat – Carly Thomas:

For the Macdonald sisters, the wild hills of their childhood provided the perfect launching pad for their business, Middlehurst Delivered. These days, working out of a converted garage in Rangiora, Sophie and Lucy are busy showing just how successful a family business can be with a bit of creative thinking.

When Lucy and Sophie Macdonald were kids, Tuesdays were town days. Growing up on Middlehurst Station meant their childhood playground spanned the mighty Kaikōura Ranges – snow-capped in winter, wide and sparse in summer, always changing beneath the big skies and rolling clouds.

Getting to head into town, with all its hustle and bustle, was a real treat. “I remember begging Mum and Dad to move us to town,” says Sophie, 28, laughing.

“It’s only when you get older that you realise what you had. This place is incredible, and I appreciate it now.” . .

Piritaha. Side By Side – Jacqui GIbson:

Twenty-two years ago, Emily Crofoot, 66, and her husband, Anders, moved their family from a 300 acre farm near New York to 7,400 acre Castlepoint Station in coastal Wairarapa. Her goal? To live in a country where farming really mattered. Today, her daughter, Sarah, 30,  has picked up the farming baton, while carving out a vision of her own.

Emily: Was I new to New Zealand when my husband, Anders, and our two children, David and Sarah, moved to Castlepoint in 1998? Not at all. My grandparents and parents had travelled here in the sixties, and my first visit was with my family in 1973, when I was eighteen. I just fell in love with New Zealand. I could see that farmers here were truly valued and were hugely innovative. 

That Kiwi spirit of innovation really appealed to me. In New York State, where I grew up, farming was more traditional and urban sprawl was encroaching on the area. Our farm had been in the family since 1809, but things were tough going because of predators and the extremes in weather.  

As I became more and more interested in farming, New Zealand was the place I looked to for inspiration. In my twenties, I returned here to help out on different sheep and beef farms. I came again a few years later to complete a shearing course in Tolaga Bay. I even applied to study agriculture at Lincoln College – now Lincoln University – but this was in the days before they accepted international students, so I didn’t get in.  . .

Small feet stay warm thanks to Amuri Basin entrepreneur – Country Life:

Tracey Topp started making merino socks for children 16 years ago. Now her Cosy Toes brand has expanded to adult socks and woollen clothing that has buyers all around the world.

Sixteen years ago North Canterbury entrepreneur Tracey Topp had a lightbulb moment. She’d been out shopping for her two young boys.

“I couldn’t find any woollen baby socks, there were no wool socks in any of the shops. All I could find were little acrylic or cotton socks imported from China!” she says.

Tracey found a small knitting mill with a sock making machine suitable for merino yarn. . .

Medicinal herb project gets underway in Taranaki – Catherine Groenestein:

Growers and gardeners around Taranaki are taking part in a project that could spawn a new industry – medicinal herb production.

Shonagh Hopkirk, who is president of the Stratford Herb Society and North Island vice president of the New Zealand Herb Federation, is collecting information on medicinal herbs that could be grown commercially.

“The majority of organic herbs used in quantity in New Zealand are imported, and there is a need for high quality, organic New Zealand-grown herbs,” she said.

“I think it would be fantastic if we could develop our own medicinal herb industry in Taranaki.” . .

 

Farmer is an artist first and foremost – Stephen Burns:

“I’m an artist first before I became a farmer,” Michelle Chibnall replied when asked about her career procession; although she did admit, with the ewes lambing at the time of interview in September, to being a farmer before having time to apply her talent to the paper.

She was sitting in her studio in a back room of the house sited on the small farm west of Narrandera and running alongside the Yanco Creek, where various unframed paintings and sketches adorn the walls and easel.

Naturally, the rooms and hallways of her home are also adorned with finished portraits of family and beloved animals.

Michelle shares the farm with her husband Peter, a truck driver, and a flock of Australian White ewes share equal billing with the Quarter Horses among the river red gums. . . 


Rural round-up

03/10/2021

Don’t be complacent about agriculture’s ability to rescue us – Gareth Kiernan:

The massive increase in tourist numbers coming to New Zealand between the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is well documented, lifting from under 2.5 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2019.

But it’s perhaps less well-known that agriculture and forestry exports held their own during this period, with their share of total exports increasing from 44 per cent to 49 per cent.

The drop in “other goods” in this chart implies that the squeeze was felt more by manufactured exports than the primary sector – a trend that is not unique to the last decade.

Since Covid-19 struck, a reliance on agriculture has been the defining feature of the best-performing regional economies. . . 

New visa some relief for rural communities :

The Government’s announcement of the 2021 Resident Visa will provide some welcome relief to rural communities, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Today’s announcement of the one-off 202 Resident Visa, which creates residence pathways for approximately 9,000 primary industry workers, is excellent news and will relieve some of the stress in our rural communities,” says RWNZ board member Sharron Davie-Martin.

Davie-Martin says that RWNZ understands the one-off visa will support workers elsewhere in New Zealand in retail, teaching, health care, construction and aged care which she says must be a great reassurance to all migrant workers and their families.

“However, RWNZ is acutely aware of the pressure on the health and well-being of rural communities caused by stressed migrant workers and staff shortages. . .

Sensible solution to desperate time keeping workers on farm :

Sighs of relief all round at Federated Farmers after the announcement of a clear and achievable residency process for international workers and their families.

“I am delighted. This gives 9000 of the workers who have stayed on to help run our farms some certainty about their future,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“And they deserve it. They’ve supported us through exceptionally difficult times on farm and we are going to need them even more in the future.

“There will be big smiles in cowsheds and tractors across the country after this announcement.” . . 

Alliance welcomes decarbonisation investment

Alliance Group says decarbonisation projects at three South Island processing plants is a major boost to its goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

Alliance Group and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will co-fund the projects at the co-operative’s Lorneville and Mataura plants in Southland and at Smithfield plant in Timaru. Together, the plants employ approximately 3,000 people at peak season.

As part of the decarbonisation project, Alliance will install an electrode boiler to reduce the use of existing coal fired boilers at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill, saving 11,739 tonnes of carbon per annum. . .

Soaring demand for beef drives 26 per cent increase in New Zealand red meat exports in August:

New Zealand’s red meat exports increased by more than a quarter in August compared to the previous year, according to an analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports for August 2021 reached $650 million with the 26 per cent increase largely driven by a growth in beef exports, up 39 per cent to $299m year on year.

Exports to the top three beef markets all increased, with China up 89 per cent to $117m, the United States by 31 per cent to $102m and Japan by 31 per cent to $15 million.

Sirma Karapeeva, MIA chief executive, said volumes of beef exported during August were also historically high. . . 

‘TRY A NEW CHEESE, NEW ZEALAND!’ October’s NZ Cheese Month encourages Kiwis to try a new cheese:

Kiwis are being encouraged to try a new cheese this month to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month.

A regular event on the country’s food calendar, New Zealand Cheese Month is an initiative created and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, to draw attention to the value of the local cheese industry. NZ Cheese Month occurs in October because it’s ‘spring flush’ the early days of spring, with warmth and soil moisture creating lush, green grass for animals to feast on. Sheep and goat milking resumes and there is plenty of fresh cheese available for cheese lovers.

NZSCA Chair, Catherine McNamara says the country’s cheesemaking industry is constantly evolving and she’s encouraging cheese lovers to take a fresh look and try something new.

“From its beginnings with the European settlers in the early 1800s, through to the present day; the art of cheesemaking has thrived in Aotearoa thanks to the environment producing some of the world’s best milk. This is reflected in the success small and large New Zealand cheese producers have enjoyed on the international stage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/09/2021

Access barrier for farmer mental health

A new initiative has been launched to improve access to counselling for farmers.

However, the founder of the charity behind it says accessibility is one of the main barriers for farmers seeking mental health assistance.

The Will to Live Charitable Trust’s ‘Rural- Change’ initiative will see farmers jump the sometimes eight-week queue to access three free private counselling sessions.

The initiative was launched in early September and Will to Live founder Elle Perriam told Rural News that they’d already had 15 farmers sign up. . . 

SWAG focused on the long game – Annette Scott:

The group tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool sector out of the doldrums is on track to deliver.

With a 12-month contract and a $3.5 million dollar budget, the Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) is working on leaving a legacy of a more connected and coordinated forward-looking, consumer-focused wool sector, embracing its place within the natural world.

The group is scheduled to sign-off at the end of this year and chair Rob Hewett is confident it is on track to deliver.

“We will make the grade, it’s a long game, but we are positioning sound opportunities to realise and commercialise several projects and who we are going to do this with,” Hewett said. . . 

Double-muscled sheep breed offers meaty gains -Country Life:

Beltex ram lambs are making farmers around the country lick their chops. Known for its heavy hindquarters and excellent kill weights, the breed is the sheep industry’s new kid on the butcher’s block.

A cross of Belgian and Texel sheep, the Beltex is used primarily for mating with ewes to produce lambs for meat.

Blair Gallagher and his son Hamish run New Zealand’s first Beltex stud at the family’s breeding and finishing property near Mount Somers.

Currently lambing’s in full swing on the scenic hill country farm. . . 

New Zealand red meat sector welcomes Chinese Taipei’s CPTPP membership application:

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) welcome Chinese Taipei’s formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ said the CPTPP was founded with a vision for regional agreement that provided for the accession of new members. Chinese Taipei’s application demonstrates the value of the agreement and its relevance to economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Chinese Taipei has been a longstanding and valuable market for New Zealand red meat products. Trade with Chinese Taipei was worth over $314 million in 2020, with trade in beef products worth over $170 million alone. This means that trade has almost doubled since the signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) in 2013.

“Like all other economies wishing to accede to the CPTPP, Chinese Taipei will need to demonstrate its commitment to the high standards contained in the CPTPP, and with a high-quality deal already in place with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei has demonstrated its commitment to trade liberalisation. . . 

Homegrown talent to tackle pesky pests :

Six of New Zealand’s young minds are setting out to revolutionise pest management, helping efforts to eradicate pests, possums, stoats and rats from New Zealand by 2050.

Supported by Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) and $2.4 million in Jobs for Nature funding, the post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers from University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, and University of Otago will be researching topics as diverse as genetics, biocontrol, audio lures, and social licence.

“Our work is certainly ambitious, but is a critical step to secure New Zealand’s biodiversity. Despite decades of valuable and dedicated conservation efforts, step-changes are needed to achieve our goals. And to achieve those step-changes, New Zealand needs new science talent to drive the cutting edge research needed,” says PF2050 Ltd science director Dan Tompkins.

Tompkins says the programme has garnered international attention with regards to whether its goal can be achieved. . .

The future of Fonterra in Australia – Marian Macdonald:

Australian milk might be some of the best in the world but, Fonterra Australia’s managing director says, it’s not New Zealand milk.

The result is that a chunk of the local business is being put up for sale, with strings attached.

In statements this morning, the giant NZ cooperative announced that it was placing “a greater focus on our New Zealand milk”.

Asked what that meant, Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker said Fonterra had made clear choices around New Zealand milk and would be directing capital towards leveraging its provenance. . . 

 


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