Rural round-up

03/08/2021

Dairy labour shortage: ‘I’m doing 16 hours a day minimum’ – Carmen Hall:

Fonterra dairy farmers are expected to pump $12 billion into the New Zealand economy including $1b to the Bay of Plenty, but the industry is still short of up to 4000 workers.

That means some farmers are working more than 16 hours a day as calving began, which is ”unsustainable” and is sparking fears for their wellbeing.

A joint survey by Dairy NZ and Federated Farmers this year, which received 1150 responses, showed 49 per cent of farms at the time were short-staffed while another 46 per cent of those vacancies went unfilled for more than three months.

Ōpōtiki dairy farmer Zac Brown said he was ”struggling big time to find skilled workers” and he still had a farm manager’s job up for grabs. . . 

Drowning in effluent – how a tired farmer was nearly a dead farmer

Owen Gullery grabbed a last lungful of air as his tractor cab filled with effluent, before desperately trying to kick out a window as it sank.

That moment in an effluent pond is one Gullery says he’ll never forget, and yet the kind of potentially fatal farm accident new figures from ACC show have reached a five-year-high.

In 2020, there were 22,796 farm-related injury claims accepted which came at a cost of $84 million. That is over 60 farmers getting injured every day.

ACC has spent more than $383 million on farm related injuries in the past five years, with the cost in 2020 the highest from this period. . . 

More farmer trainers needed – David Anderson:

There appears to be no shortage of school leavers wanting a career in the sheep beef and deer industry, but rather a lack of training farms.

That’s the view of the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) chair John Jackson. He says five open days – recently held by the trust in Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Te Kuiti and Taihape – saw 38, 46, 29, 28 and 21 students turn-up at each venue, respectively. Jackson says there are more GFF open days planned for the South Island in mid-August at Winton, Omarama, North Canterbury and Blenheim.

“However, at this stage less than 20% of these students will get an opportunity because we have not an adequate number of training farms on which to place these students,” Jackson told Rural News.

“Our problem is not the inability to attract potential staff to the industry, but an inability to train the numbers we require.” . .

Dairy companies and volunteers dig deep to help restore waterways and bat colony – Lawrence Gullery:

David Jack surveys the rolling country over Rosebrae​ Farms and points to where the 200 hectare property borders the Pūniu River.

“That’s our southern boundary where the river is, it’s important because it’s one of the tributaries to the Waipā River, which later on flows into the Waikato River.”

Over the river is the King Country, Jack points out.

“Witi Ihimaera wrote a great book about the land wars and how the women and children had to get across the Pūniu to get into the King Country, where the troops couldn’t follow. . . 

Lamb prices high but size of fall concerns – Annette Scott:

Strong advances in farmgate lamb prices have seen a phenomenal turnaround with the AgriHQ lamb indicator hitting $9.05 a kilogram this week in the North Island and $8.80/kg in the South Island but there’s concern going forward.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says some early new season contracts indicate the schedule will drop below $8 in December.

She says pricing would typically strengthen further through to October with expectation that $9 or above will still be around in September but the drop from there on raises concern.

The latest contracts released from some processors look to settle at slightly above $7.50 pre-Christmas. . . 

MPI using delay techniques – David Anderson:

Bureaucratic obfuscation is being used to stall the provision information about the costs and achievements of the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) ‘Fit for a Better World’ strategy.

On June 16, Rural News sent MPI an Official Information Act (OIA) request seeking more information relating to Fit for a Better World. The request asked only five questions relating to meetings, minutes, costs and outcomes of the programme.

However, on July 14 – on the last day of the 20 working day timeframe when an OIA must be answered – MPI replied that it would not be able to answer within the mandated timeframe.

In a classic stalling move, which has become a common tactic used by government departments around OIA requests, MPI has extended the time it will provide any answers till, “no later than September 8, 2021”, which adds another 40 working days, makking it more than three times the mandated OIA response timeframe. . .

Latest Tasmanian irrigation scheme underway – Andrew Miller:

Tasmania’s latest irrigation scheme, on the Tamar River, is expected to cover about 200 properties, producing a diverse range of crops and livestock.

Tasmanian Irrigation has called for expressions of interest in the scheme and held public meetings, to explain how it will work.

Tamar Irrigation Scheme Irrigators Representative Council chair Ed Archer, Landfall Angus stud, said the diverse range of producers would present challenges.

“It’s really a unique scheme as there is such a variety of producers in this region, some broadacre grazing, right through to small, niche cottage type enterprises,” Mr Archer said. . .


Rural round-up

27/03/2021

Kill rate sparks breeding flock concern – Neal Wallace:

A high mutton kill has commentators worried the country’s core ewe breeding flock could take a sharp fall.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says 3.1 million ewes were forecast to be killed this year, but up to February 13 – 19 weeks into the season – the kill was well on the way, sitting at 2.2m.

The five-year average kill for the remaining 33 weeks of the season is nearly 1.5m, potentially pushing this year’s ewe kill to about 3.7m.

Croad believes some farmers are looking at the capital tied up in breeding flocks and looking for less financial risk. . . 

Meat man’s mission ending – Sudesh Kissun:

It was around 27 years ago when Rod Slater agreed to step in as interim chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

He recalls getting a call from then-chairman Dennis Denton, who was worried about the future of the organisation. The chief executive had “gone AWOL” and things were looking dire.

Slater, then a board member of B+LNZ, had just sold out of Mad Butcher, the iconic NZ chain he had started with Sir Peter Leitch.

Slater told Rural News that was happy to help bail out B+LNZ. . .

Mid-Canterbury sheep milking business looks to expand – Maja Burry:

A Mid Canterbury sheep milking business is looking to establish itself as a major player in local industry with plans to take on more than 20 farmer suppliers over the next three years.

Matt and Tracey Jones from Sheep Milk New Zealand began commercial milking in 2019. As well as selling raw milk to other producers, they have developed their own fresh milk product range Jones Family Farm and a skin care range Sabelle.

Matt Jones said at the moment it had two farmer suppliers, but it would be taking on five more this coming season and 17 more were lined up for the season after.

“We’re building more processing facilities for that … because someone’s got to buy the milk and we’ve got to process it and sell it.” . . 

Millions of South Canterbury sunflowers heading for bottling plant – Eleisha Foon:

It’s hard not to miss the bright sea of yellow which turns heads just south of Timaru on State Highway 1.

Millions of sunflowers on a South Canterbury farm, are just weeks away from harvest.

Row upon row, standing two feet tall, they’re past their best now and are beginning to sag.

By next month the sunflower seeds will be processed into cooking oil, making it one of New Zealand’s only locally grown sunflower oil – soon to be ready for the domestic market. . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s moves to improve housing supply – but not on highly productive land:

HortNZ says the Government’s latest moves to improve housing supply are welcome but the new houses must not be built on highly productive land used for vegetable or fruit growing.

‘Every New Zealander deserves a house just like every New Zealander deserves fresh, healthy locally grown vegetables and fruit,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive Mike Chapman.

‘We can have both but current policy settings favour housing over food security, and keeping New Zealand’s most highly productive soils safe from urban creep.

‘In August 2019, the Government launched its draft National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land. This was at an event attended by two Government Ministers in Pukekohe, where some of the greatest pressures are. . . 

Actress Antonia Prebble joins Spring Sheep Milk Co to launch toddler milk:

Actress and mum to 20-month-old Freddie, Antonia Prebble is delighted to be helping introduce New Zealand to a brand-new source of toddler nutrition. Antonia is working with Kiwi company Spring Sheep Milk Co. as it launches its new premium Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink, a product made with grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk.

Antonia was drawn to Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s gentle approach to nutrition for Kiwi toddlers and the rich nutritional and digestive benefits of sheep milk.

“I am really mindful when it comes to what I give Freddie to eat and drink, and working with the team at Spring Sheep, I saw early on that they are just as passionate about what goes into their product. . . 


Rural round-up

04/10/2020

Regenerative agriculture: let’s put these claims to the test – Catherine Wells:

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot and retired plant scientist Dr Warwick Scott have done an admirable job by drawing Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s attention to the pros and cons of “regenerative agriculture”.

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, a soil scientist, has written on the topic too. In an article for the New Zealand Herald’s “The Country section”, which challenged the notion that moving to regenerative agriculture with an organic focus will create a primary sector with more ability to help with Covid-19 recovery. Her conclusion: this is wonderful in theory, but doesn’t work in practice.

NZIAHS members should be lending their support – but the bigger issue which should perturb us is the attack on science itself in this era when easy access to the internet can spread fake news, deceptions, falsehoods, fabrications and canards faster and over a much vaster patch of the globe than a top-dresser can spread superphosphate. . . 

Banning nitrogen fertiliser would put food production back decades – Macaulay Jones:

When it comes to synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, good management practices should be encouraged, not an outright ban, writes Federated Farmers Climate Change and Trade Policy adviser, Macaulay Jones.

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is suffering from a PR problem in New Zealand.

It’s regularly demonised and blamed for the degradation of waterways, for contributing to climate change and for enabling a perceived unsustainable growth of farming. Some are even calling for it to be banned altogether.

But while synthetic nitrogen fertiliser can undoubtedly lead to environmental issues if used carelessly, it’s this careless use which should be avoided – not the use of the product. . . 

Feds reject trade concerns – Colin Williscroft:

Federated Farmers is confident that scaling back new freshwater regulations or making amendments to climate change legislation will not hurt New Zealand’s prospects of future free trade deals.

As reported in last week’s Farmers Weekly, NZ’s top trade negotiator Vangelis Vitalis has warned sheep and beef farmers that their environmental and animal welfare record will come under close scrutiny, as countries search for ways to protect their own food producers who have taken a hit to demand for their products as a result of coronavirus.

Vitalis acknowledged that environmental regulations will come at a cost to NZ farmers, but says it could pay off in terms of providing improved market access under future free trade deals by helping to quell opposition to them in those countries involved.

Feds president Andrew Hoggard agrees with Vitalis that NZ both needs and has a good environmental record that can be presented internationally. . . 

Nearly 5 million ewes lost in 10 years – Mel Croad:

The breeding ewe flock continues to battle land use changes and wavering popularity with farmers. However, with many water regulations and policies negatively targeting cattle, sheep farming could find favour once again. Achieving any growth in ewe numbers will be hard in the next 12 months though.

The latest Beef + Lamb NZ Stock Survey estimates breeding ewe numbers held at 16.86 million head. While the breeding flock has stabilised, there could be a real inability to build numbers. The number of hoggets that dispersed this year is the greatest issue. Drought conditions forced farmers to offload hoggets rather than keep them as replacements. This partially explains why the 2019 lamb crop was recently revised higher by over 500,000 head. 

Forecasts peg breeding hogget numbers to be back by 740,000 head on last year, mostly within the North Island. Chances are not all these hoggets were mated this year, or would have even entered the breeding flock next year, but the significant drop in numbers creates a couple of issues. . . 

A precious endeavour:

A possum hunter, a farming couple and a young Polish man are part of the small community who live in Endeavour Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds where, even in this remote spot, the effects of the global pandemic are being felt.

Country Life visited the bay and discovered Covid-19’s tentacles have a long reach indeed.

Listen duration22:24

A hammock in the bush and a feed of wild goat is heaven to Endeavour Inlet’s Possum Gary.

The tall lean Southlander has been living on and off in the bush around the furthest reaches of the inlet in the Marlborough Sounds for about five years now, setting traps and living off the land.

Endeavour Inlet is at the Cook Strait end of Queen Charlotte Sound/ Tōtaranui, a good hour from Picton by boat. . .

Green Party activists told don’t use ‘big words’ when talking to rural voters and Travellers – Cormac McQuinn:

GREEN Party activists have been told not to use ‘big words’ when trying to appeal to rural voters as they may not understand what they mean.

Senator Róisín Garvey said party members need to “choose their words” adding that she learned this from working with Travellers.

Ms Garvey made the remarks at the party’s National Convention during a debate on the “anti-Green narrative” in rural areas that sees the party struggle to win votes outside the big cities.

The Clare-based Senator said of rural voters: “we don’t have to give them statistics on carbon this and climate that and use big vocabulary. . . 


Rural round-up

23/08/2020

Water rules ‘unworkable’ – Neal Wallace:

Environment Southland may ask the Government to relax new strict rules controlling the winter grazing of livestock which is widely considered as unworkable in the cooler southern region.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young has upped the pressure on the Government, advising members not to seek resource consent if they are unable to meet the new grazing regulations.

Southern farmers are angered at the requirement to resow winter crop paddocks by November 1, a month later than the rest of NZ, the extent of pugging permitted on paddocks and limits on winter grazing paddocks with a mean slope exceeding 10 degrees.

These provisions are included in the suite of essential freshwater measures regulations released in May.

Labour fails to plan for primary sector :

Labour needs to stand up for the essential primary sector workers who are wrongly being turned away at Auckland region checkpoints, MP for Hunua Andrew Bayly and National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett say.

“Auckland is almost 10 days into their regional lockdown and there has still been no specific exemptions granted by the Ministry of Health to allow primary sector workers to carry out essential services across the Auckland regional border.” Mr Bayly says.

“These travel exemptions should have been ready to go at the first sign of regional restrictions. Instead, it has taken a week for the Minister to secure exemptions for the dairy, horticulture, and poultry sectors.”. . . 

Meat companies forced to divert product – Neal Wallace:

Meat companies are changing portion sizes and targeting mid-week meals as they switch products from food service to chilled retail markets.

Farmers Weekly last week reported the demise of food service markets around the world due to the global covid-19 pandemic forcing meat companies to divert product away from traditional frozen and food service markets.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says any increase in chilled meat volumes is welcome. . .

It’s the beta-casein and premium product that makes a big difference between a2 Milk and Fonterra – Point of Order:

Investors  this week took  the  phenomenal result  for a2 Milk   in  their  stride, but  it  may have produced  a few blinks  round   the   nation’s  dairy farms,  particularly  with  the  farmer-suppliers  of  Fonterra. 

Take – for example – a2 Milk’s  earnings  per share  of  52.39c  and contrast them with Fonterra’s 17c per share  in 2019,  or  its  net  profit  of $385.8m   versus  Fonterra’s loss  of $605m.

There  are  other  mind-blowing  figures  from  a2 Milk: total revenue  of  $1.73bn, up  32.8%; ebitda of $549.7m, a  rise of 32.9%;  and operating cash flow of $427.4m. Not to  mention  a  cash  mountain  it has  built up of  $854.2m. . . 

Career off to a good start :

Nineteen-year-old Ashlee Ennis is thrilled she has got a job on a dairy farm after recently completing three-weeks of GoDairy Farm Ready Training with DairyNZ.

Hailing from Tauranga, Ashlee has moved to Taupo for a role as a farm assistant and is excited by her new career.

She says she is relishing getting stuck in helping out with calving.

“It’s been great to get into the work and learn more on the job. I definitely see a future for myself in dairy farming,” she said. “I didn’t grow up on a farm but my mum did and she always loved it. I love working with animals.” . . 

One scientist’s ambitious plan to achieve global cooling with cattle – Farmer Georgie:

Farts are funny. Burger King thinks yodeling about cow farts is even funnier. In mid-July, the fast food chain released on Twitter an ad campaign starring boot-stomping kids, led by Mason Ramsey of Walmart Yodeling Kid fame, singing about cow farts contributing to global warming and claiming that lemongrass can reduce methane in those farts by a third.

The ad, part of the company’s #CowsMenu campaign, generated a backlash of social media criticism. Pissed-off ranchers and a concerned science community pointed out that the ad perpetuated a long-standing misconception about cow farts and the hotly debated narrative that cows are a major climate change problem. Plus, it promoted an unproven solution as its big greenhouse gas win. In doing so, Burger King missed the chance to highlight the real potential for change: turning cows and their methane-producing digestive systems into a climate cooling solution. . .


Rural round-up

18/05/2020

Tears as convoy of trucks deliver donated bales to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers -Aroha Treacher:

More than 600 bales have been donated to drought-stricken farmers in the Hawke’s Bay as they struggle through one of the worst droughts the region has seen in decades. A convoy of trucks made the journey to Hawke’s Bay to drop off some much-needed relief.

“It’s so good to be here with this fantastic contribution of feed that’s come all the way to the Hawke’s Bay from farmers right throughout the Wairarapa,” says David Todd of the Rural Support Trust in Hawke’s Bay.

“There were tears we’ll say, and from big truckies. There was tears, so it’s quite a big deal,” says Poppy Renton of the Hawke’s Bay Drought Facebook page.

From here, the feed will be distributed out to needy farmers through the rural support trust. . . 

12 year-old photographer brings drought struggles home:

The Jowsey family are among many Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling with drought. The daily grind of feeding and watering stock on the parched paddocks is being documented on camera by the youngest in the family, 12-year-old Selby.

A rust-coloured paddock, a trail of sheep mid-trot, rolling grey hills and and a steely grey sky.

It catches your eye, this slightly tilted image of feeding out time on a drought-stricken farm in Hawke’s Bay.

Selby Jowsey, 12, says he’s tried to capture the moment. . .

Creativity in dealing with drought  –  Peter Burke:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is taking some creative initiatives to help farmers deal with the drought gripping large parts of the country.

Promoting alternative stock feeds, staging webinars and arranging feed coordinators are just some of the initiatives.

BLNZ North Island regional manager Matt Ward told Rural News that farmers are not only concerned with the immediate problem of the drought, but how they will be in spring.

He says supplies of baleage are very limited and his team of extension officers have been working to get what feed is available to the farmers that need it most.

Budget misses the boat on water – Annette Scott:

The Budget is missed opportunity for water, Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Elizabeth Soal says.

While the covid-19 recovery fund has $3 billion set aside for infrastructure Soal is not confident water storage and reticulation will fit the Government’s bill.

“We were really excited about the opportunity unfolding for water as we face huge economic challenges.”

But the Budget failed to deliver.

“This is missed opportunity,” Soal said.  . . 

Benefit uncertain in tense times – Hugh Stringleman:

Kiwi beef producers might not benefit from a significantly reduced Australian cattle kill this year, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad says.

“Too many other factors are working in world protein markets to be sure that Australia’s expected shortfall will flow on to greater demand for our beef exports,” she said.

A predicted 17% reduction in Australian beef exports in 2020 might help stabilise world prices rather than increase them for other supplying countries.

Australia is going to do what it would in a normal year, without covid-19, and that is rebuild its herd after widespread rain. . . 

ProductionWise® and OverseerFM can “talk”:

FAR’s ProductionWise® farm recording package is now able to interface directly with OverseerFM, a development which will make nutrient management reporting a lot faster and cheaper for most ProductionWise users.

FAR ProductionWise Manager, Melanie Bates, says that enabling the two systems to ‘talk to each other’ was always a goal, and although it’s taken a while, testing shows that the benefits will be huge.

“Formal discussions with Overseer about the project began in January 2019, and late last year, the ProductionWise technical team, headed by Chris Day from Flurosat, and the OverseerFM technical team started working together to plan out the integration process via computer ‘json’ files. Chris has developed a very simple and visual way to build up the json file from recorded data in PW into OverseerFM. In simple terms, you can extract your ProductionWise data to a file that can be imported into the OverseerFM platform, allowing you to create your year-end analysis easily.” . . 


Rural round-up

11/05/2020

Vanishing Lands – Andrea Vance & Iain McGregor:

The rutted track climbs up and up. Short, thick tussocks make the trail hard to discern, and a cold gale howls down the valley.

John Templeton doesn’t break stride. He bends into the wind and forges upwards with the speed and sure-footedness of a mountain goat. A dozen excitable dogs trot at his ankles, and at his side Holly Addison, a 24-year-old shepherd. 

The sun is bright in a clear, blue autumn sky. Far below, strands of the Rakaia river weave their way through grey, shingle beds. Mt Arrowsmith towers high above, snow sparkling on its unforgiving peaks. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers: ‘Help us feed our livestock’ – Suz Bremner & Mel Croad:

In some situations actions speak louder than words, and for Hawke’s Bay farmers who have been hit hard this year we have a simple message that we want heard – help us physically feed our livestock and if that can’t be done, allow us our channels to sell them.

We as farmers prepare for drought – we must, otherwise we will simply make life harder for ourselves.

There are enough farmers in Hawke’s Bay who farmed through the 1982-83 drought and learned from that, and the same will be said for this one.

But what could not be prepared for this year was the combination of drought and a pandemic, which has caused chaos for the wider industry and created issues such as reduced processing capacity and a sudden decline in demand from our international markets that we rely heavily on. . .

Pandemic disruption creates economic opportunity KPMG leader says :

In-house food and fibre production is being touted as one of the ways to claw the economy back post Covid-19.

A report from the business advisory firm KPMG says New Zealand is well-placed to develop greater domestic food production, for its own resilience, and also as a way to market itself as a trusted and reliable exporter.

Head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said the pandemic had forced countries to question their reliance on globalisation, and New Zealand was no different.

“I think governments are generally going to look to make themselves a little bit more resilient, and increase the domestic sourcing of key products and critical products to society. So that does mean we are going to see a lot more support for local food systems.” . .

Brothers juggling farm work and studies – David Hill:

Adjusting to the lockdown has proved to be a challenge for students who have returned home to rural areas.

When the lockdown was announced, Lincoln University Young Farmers Club chairman Callum Woodhouse and his brother Archie made the decision to return to the family’s sheep and beef farm at Eketahuna.

“My flatmates are from Canterbury, so when the lockdown was announced they weren’t too worried, but we were stressing about flights and we had to book a last-minute flight and get home.

“The old man was expecting us home anyway in April for the three weeks term holiday, but now he’s getting a few extra weeks’ work out of us.” . . 

A stoat trapper’s guide to elimination – Dave Heatley:

New Zealanders have a lot of experience with islands and unwanted organisms – keeping them away, learning to live with them, and – in just a few cases – eliminating them.

What can that experience tell us about plans to eliminate COVID-19? I can’t claim any expertise on polio, measles, Mycoplasma bovis or thar. But I do have lots of experience trying to eliminate other pests: the stoats, rats, mice and possums that threaten New Zealand’s native birds. At the forefront of that battle are New Zealand’s offshore islands. Following intensive pest-control efforts, many of those islands are now sanctuaries for native birds that are disappearing or gone from the mainland. . .

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2005/S00139/beef-cattle-numbers-up-as-prices-rise.

htmhttps://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/416045/pandemic-disruption-creates-economic-opportunity-kpmg-leader-says

Farmers use flock of sheep in message of support for NHS :

Farmers in Loch Lomond have spent three days trying to round up a flock of sheep to spell out NHS as a message of support to frontline workers.

They creatively paid tribute to health staff who are risking their lives fighting the spread of coronavirus. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

19/10/2019

Act now on swine fever – Neal Wallace:

Dr Eric Neumann’s career takes him to animal disease hot spots throughout the world to advise officials and farmers on their response and to monitor severity and behaviour of disease outbreaks Neal Wallace talks to the epidemiologist.

The savagery of African swine fever was starkly illustrated to Kiwi epidemiologist Dr Eric Neumann when he visited a 1000-pig farm in Vietnam.

The fever’s presence had been confirmed in the housed piggery two weeks before his visit but by time he got there 600 animals had died and most of the survivors were sick. . .

Time to effect meaningful change – Dairyman:

Bashing Fonterra in the media is so prevalent it’s almost a national pastime; farmer shareholders keen to share that phone call they got from the chairman, commentators sticking the boot in at the behest of their dairy processor clients and any politician looking for some airtime will happily have a crack.

If the payout is low it’s due to the incompetence of directors and management, if the payout is high it’s because Fonterra is screwing the scrum and forcing their competitors to pay more for milk than it’s worth.

While there are legitimate criticisms to be levelled at the Co-op, and they’re not above scoring own goals in that department, it’s so easy that writing a column panning them is almost lazy. I make no secret that I’m a fan of Fonterra’s new direction; the honesty that is largely on display at shareholder meetings, the way they now engage with the government instead of the ‘Fortress Fonterra’ mentality of old and their willingness to show leadership and vision in areas that affect their farmers. . .

The NZ Government strategy to destroy the farming sector – Barbara McKenzie:

‘If sheep and beef farms convert to forestry on a nationwide scale at just half the rate that has occurred in Wairoa this last year, there will be no sheep and beef farms left by 2050’ (Neil Henderson, Gisborne farmer)

The agricultural sector is New Zealand’s largest industry, made up chiefly of  pastoral farming and horticulture.

The coalition government, however,  is implementing a strategy squarely aimed at replacing the farming sector with forestry.  The result will be depopulation of the countryside, the destruction of  our environment and our way of life, and sets us on the road to poverty. . . 

Leather exporters struggle in oversupplied market :

Leather exporters are grappling with record low prices for hides.

The agricultral insights group, AgriHQ, said strong beef production in Australia, Brazil and the US had meant that the cattle hide market was significantly oversupplied.

A senior analyst at AgriHQ, Mel Croad, said this oversupply, combined with the rise of much more convincing synthetic leather substitutes and a downturn in the manufacture of luxury leather goods meant global demand was very weak.

“In addition, the closure of some Chinese tanneries due to environmental concerns has narrowed down selling options for hides,” Ms Croad said. . .

 

Demand from farmers for SurePhos expected to exceed supply:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients has produced a sustainable superphosphate product that is expected to displace traditional ‘Super’ fertiliser used by the majority of farmers – with clear environmental and productivity benefits.

SurePhosTM is expected to reduce phosphate losses by up to 75%, making a significant positive impact on the quality of waterways and, due to low water solubility, keeps nutrients in the soil system where they are available to plants.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman, David Peacocke, says SurePhosTM will be the choice of a new generation of farmers who have sustainability front-of-mind. . . 

I’m a farmer and a no-deal Brexit would put me out of business – Will Case:

Crashing out of the EU would not end uncertainty and would be a dark day for agriculture and food in Britain

Here in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, the sun is out, our grass is growing and the sky is blue. Sheep are busily nibbling the pasture while cattle are basking in the summer warmth. These are perfect conditions for farming. The animals are content and the farmers are working hard.

Everything should be fine, but there is a big, dark cloud lurking on the horizon: the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. This is a threat to everything we do. The uncertainty around Brexit and the prospect of trade tariffs that would cripple our business is a real worry. The future direction of UK-produced food is simply unknown.

Will we be forced to adhere to ever higher standards, while our government allows food to be imported from countries where farmers adhere to welfare or other standards that would, rightly, be illegal on my farm? Will our politicians assure British farmers that they will avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit? . . 


Rural round-up

02/06/2017

Differing water quality rules still an issue – Sally Rae:

Simon Williamson has been re-elected president of North Otago Federated Farmers.

Speaking at the branch’s annual meeting in Oamaru, Mr Williamson, who farms between Omarama and Twizel, said it had been a busy year ”on many fronts”.

It was apparent the two regional councils – Environment Canterbury and the Otago Regional Council – were still taking a very different approach to water quality. . .

Cows make a comeback – Neal Wallace and Mel Croad:

Buyers are chasing breeding cows and heifers in what could be the first sign of a revival in breeding cow numbers.

In-calf heifer and breeding cow fairs across the country in recent weeks have drawn large galleries of buyers paying prices akin to those paid in Australia where the herd was being rebuilt.

Prices for in-calf Angus heifers at Temuka exceeded $2400 a head in early May when a lack of numbers saw two fairs rolled into one. But prices were helped by farmers rebuilding breeding herds. . .

Decision ‘simple arithmetic – Maureen Bisop and John Keast:

They may have suspected it was coming, but the announcement of the proposed closure of Silver Fern Farm’s Fairton plant in Ashburton was still devastating for many of the 370 workers set to lose their jobs.

The proposal to close the 125-year-old plant was put to staff at a meeting in Ashburton last Wednesday. A two-week consultation period was to follow, although if there was significant feedback that this was too short or too long, that would be considered. It was hoped to have a final decision on May 31.

Most workers already knew the future of the plant was uncertain. The seasons were shorter and there was an ever dwindling supply of lambs. . .

NZ Binxi builds 20% stake in Blue Sky Meats, may revisit takeover after getting OIO sign-off – Rebecca Howard:

China’s Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co won’t rule out revisiting its takeover of Invercargill meat processor Blue Sky Meats now that the deal has Overseas Investment Office approval, having abandoned the bid in March when the OIO process missed a deadline.

“We don’t have any fixed position on what our next steps will be,” Richard Thorp, chief operating officer of Binxi Cattle’s local unit NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, told BusinessDesk after the OIO gave the deal a greenlight this week. . .

Principals fear visa change – John Lewis:

Proposed changes to New Zealand’s essential skills visa could result in some small rural Otago schools closing, principals say.
Many parents working in the region’s dairy industry are migrants, and their children make up a significant percentage of rural school rolls.

The proposed changes will limit essential skills visas to one year, and after a maximum of three years, immigrants would have to leave New Zealand for at least 12 months before applying for another work visa. . .

Honoured for advocacy role – Nicole Sharp:

Doug Fraser is a name well-known in the farming circle.
Dedicated to the sector and the people who work in it, for a long time Mr Fraser has been a strong voice in Federated Farmers.

His behind-the-scenes work and advocating for farmers was recognised recently at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM, when Mr Fraser was awarded life membership.

Former Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson presented Mr Fraser with the award, speaking of his time working with Mr Fraser. . .

Health hub has 25 exhibitors – Annette Scott:

Getting like-minded health organisations together to change how rural people think about health has been the driver for the inaugural Fieldays Health Hub.

Health issues affecting rural communities would be the focus as a whole host of relevant health professionals and organisations delivered interactive health care of the future messages, Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager said. . .

 


Ruralround-up

19/08/2016

Flaws to idea of reducing dairy herd – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A suggestion that New Zealand should remove 80per cent of dairy cows to return to a natural environment overlooks various fundamental problems including: what is natural?

Dairy farms tend to be in flat to rolling countryside where grass grows well and cows can create milk efficiently.

It is in this country that clear mountain streams become winding rivers, picking up sediment and nutrients from the soils through which they are travelling. As they slow down, plants and fish have a chance to grow.

Dairying occupies 1.7 million hectares of New Zealand’s 26.8 million hectares. This area, with the associated processing and value adding, resulted in export revenue for the year to June 2015 of $14 billion.

In some contrast, sheep, beef and deer farms cover 11.5 million hectares of mostly somewhat steeper land, and bring in $9 billion. . .

Lamb price spike to be brief – Alan Williams:

Sheep farmers could get $6/kg or more for a lamb this season – but only briefly.

The shortage of lambs also meant many farmers would not be able to take full advantage of the short-lived spike, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad said.

Some overseas markets were prepared to pay up for lambs, knowing there was a NZ shortage and she believed that might push South Island procurement prices to $6/kg and the North Island to $6.10/$6.20 in October and November. . .

Buyers caught napping by possible milk production decline – Gerard Hutching:

A milk futures broker says whole milk powder buyers have been “caught napping” by a potential shortfall in the product, explaining why the price has risen 28.8 per cent at the last two global dairy auctions.

Director of OM Financial Nigel Brunel said the price hike had been “staggering” and taken everyone by surprise.

“Buyers haven’t been able to source WMP at the right price and have been concerned that New Zealand supply could be well down this season. They have been caught napping in a sleepy sideways WMP market for almost a year,” Brunel said.

As a result the buyers had climbed over each other to source WMP and lifted the price.

North Canterbury’s bumper lamb crop hanging on for rain – Tony Benny:

Warm, settled weather and plenty of twins on the ground makes for the sort of lambing farmers treasure but after two years of drought, North Canterbury farmers are just worried about how they’ll feed the extra mouths. Tony Benny reports.

The countryside around Hawarden, North Canterbury, looks a picture.  The sky is clear, the air is still and warm, the paddocks are green, dotted with hundreds of healthy lambs and on the horizon are snow-capped mountains.

But talk to locals like Lew Wright and his son Iain and it becomes clear that they’re just hanging on, unsure how they’ll feed their bumper crop of lambs, let alone the 600 ewe hoggets due to come home from grazing in the next couple of weeks.

“The paddocks have got nothing in them, they’re just bare, they’ve just got no grass.  It’s scary,” says Iain. . . 


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