Rural round-up

May 1, 2020

Broadband money ‘just a drop’ – Gerald Piddock:

A $15 million fund for ultra-fast broadband in rural areas is not enough to improve the technology for farmers.

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” Technology Users Association chief executive Craig Young said.

The Government money will upgrade some existing mobile towers and wireless backhaul that connects remote sites and for the installation of external antennae on houses to improve coverage. . .

Winter grazing drought hits farms – Gerald Piddock:

North Island dairy farmers are struggling to find graziers to take their cows over winter because many don’t have enough feed.

The effects of the drought across Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Manawatu mean demand for graziers outweighs supply this autumn. 

Waikato Federated Farmers dairy chairman Ben Moore said farmers are getting calls from graziers saying they cannot take their cattle as planned.  . .

West Cost Regional Council reverses wetland decision – Lois Williams:

The West Coast Regional Council has reversed its controversial decision on wetlands – giving relief to sphagnum moss harvesters around the region.

The council rejected recommendations in February on a change to the regional plan, identifying significant wetlands and giving them additional protection.

The change would also have taken some wetlands off the list and made moss harvesting a permitted activity in those areas. But the council’s resource management committee voted against it, saying the plan change did nothing for other private landowners whose properties were still on the list. . . 

Forest Growers Levy Trust commits to support industry:

The New Zealand Forest Growers Levy Trust is anticipating borrowing and using reserves to maintain as much of its yearly work programme as possible.

The Trust has decided today (29 April eds) to reduce its work programme by a million dollars, following disruption to forest exports and production caused by the international spread of coronavirus.

But the Chair of the FGLT, Geoff Thompson, says it’s anticipating covering an even larger fall in its revenue and is planning on using reserves and borrowing so as not too significantly disrupt its funding of industry good activities. . . 

Kiwifruit gives March exports a golden glow:

Exports hit a new high in March 2020, driven by kiwifruit, dairy, and meat, even as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, Stats NZ said today.

The value of total goods exports rose $215 million (3.8 percent) from March 2019 to reach $5.8 billion in March 2020. This was a record for any month – the previous high was in May 2019.

The increase in total goods exports reflected a bumper kiwifruit harvest and higher prices for milk powder and meat. This rise was partly offset by a fall in log exports, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. . . 

US could be weeks from meat shortages with shutdowns spreading – Michael Hirtzer and Tatiana Freitas:

Plant shutdowns are leaving the U.S. dangerously close to meat shortages as coronavirus outbreaks spread to suppliers across the nation and the Americas.

Almost a third of U.S. pork capacity is down, the first big poultry plants closed on Friday and experts are warning that domestic shortages are just weeks away. Brazil, the world’s No. 1 shipper of chicken and beef, saw its first major closure with the halt of a poultry plant owned by JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat company. Key operations are also down in Canada, the latest being a British Columbia poultry plant. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 30, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

An historic month:

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

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


Rural round-up

December 8, 2019

The changing face of the dairy farm – Gerald Piddock:

It wasn’t easy for Doug and Tracey Chappell to get onto their own land.

But their entry-level Pukeatua dairy farm means more than just what the 60 hectares and its relatively small 150 cow herd add to their long-term business plan.

“It’s our place and it’s something for our kids as well and they have even talked about running the farm in the future,” said Doug. . . 

Shortsighted? – Annette Scott:

Experts fear high ewe prices are encouraging farmers to sell breeding stock to processors at such a rate New Zealand exports might in a few years not have enough product.

That would provide an opening for Australia to grab market share from NZ. There is also a worry a shortage of stock could lead to a single desk seller, thus eliminating procurement competition.

The problem is compounded by the falling number of farmers willing to breed the lambs. Many young farmers are not interested and instead buy in store lambs to fatten. . . 

Striped dairy cows – a rare breed :

Opunake farmer Andy Whitehead milks eight different breeds of cattle, but Lakenvelders are his favourite. They hail from the Netherlands and are easy to spot in the dark.

If you drive past Andy Whitehead’s Taranaki farm at night, his favourite cows are easy to spot.

They look as though they’ve been draped with a white blanket.

“Lakenvelder simply means ‘white blanket’ or ‘white sheet’ which describes the cow with a stripe over her back,” Andy says. . . 

50 avocado trees completely stripped in Hawke’s Bay orchard – Georgia May Gilbertson:

“Stupidity and desperation” are the only reasons a police officer can think of after 50 avocado trees were completely stripped of their fruit in Hawke’s Bay. 

Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said the theft happened at an orchard belonging to Crab Farm Winery in Bay View and was reported to police last weekend. 

He said the thieves cut through a fence near a group of beehives and it was  estimated they took an apple crate worth of fruit. . . 

Xmas cheer from Fonterra as the bosses at the dairy co-op get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy   farmers  had  some   Xmas cheer  this   week,  as  dairy  giant  Fonterra told them  the  forecast  payout  would  be the fourth-highest-ever,  at the mid-point of its farmgate milk price range.

The  $7.30kg/ms means   the cash payout  for the season  will  reach $11.2bn, a rise of about $400m from the earlier  forecast.

There  could  even  be  a  clap  from the cowsheds for the  new bosses of   Fonterra  who are  turning around the co-op’s  financial  performance, as they apply  a back-to-basics  approach  to  recovering from last year’s  horrendous  $605m  loss.  The first  quarter of the  new financial  year has  gone  well. . . 

Canterbury running out of water??? – Gravedodger:

I have returned to the world after another time of peace and calm at “The Gorge”.

Rakaia Gorge that is and it was somewhat different this time. The river that ruled Mona Anderson’s life inspired her to write of her time married to the then manager of Mt Algidus Station, which lies above the confluence of the Rakaia and Wilberforce rivers, the story related in her first book of nine, “A River Rules my Life”. That river was in flood for many recent days peaking at over three thousand cumecs at least twice.

A cumec is a cubic meter of water flowing past a point each second. Just absorb that figure,  three thousand cubic meters every second!

Do the maths. . . 


Rural round-up

December 4, 2019

An exciting future – Mike Petersen:

Special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says New Zealand leads the field in many areas but cannot rest on its laurels.

These are exciting but also challenging times for New Zealand agri-food and fibre. 

At a time when demand and prices for NZ food are at near-record highs the mood among farmers is subdued with new environmental policies being developed and fears about the impact from the brinksmanship being played out in the complex world of international trade.  . . 

Chinese ban on Oamaru Meats lifted Jacob McSweeny:

A suspension to the China market has been lifted on Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) and the company has begun trying to re-recruit seasonal workers and suppliers.

The meat processor shut down on September 13 after its access to the Chinese beef markets was suspended. Some 160 seasonal workers were laid off temporarily.

Yesterday, OML director Richard Thorp said the suspension came after some beef fat packaging was not up to standard. . . 

AgriSea boss takes women’s award – Annette Scott:

Seaweed products pioneer AgriSea is the 2019 supreme winner of the NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards.

Celebrating and showcasing entrepreneurship and innovation by rural women the annual awards take in seven categories with the supreme winner judged from the category winners.

While excited about the win AgriSea business manager Clare Bradley said it was unexpected given the high calibre of every woman in the finals.

“We are often caught up in keeping our heads down, working hard to achieve our goals in our businesses, communities and families.

“The awards are an opportunity for both me personally and our whanau at AgriSea to take a breather and celebrate where we’ve come from.  . . 

 

Looking back moving forward:

Five farmers featured in Inside Dairy in 2019 tell us about their year, where they’re heading in 2020 and what they’d like others to know about dairy farmers and the dairying sector.

Mark and Vicki Meyer – Tangiteroria, Northland

Most proud of in 2019?

“On the farming front, we’re proud of how we managed to turn around our end of 2018/19 season. We’d ended up slightly down in production, due to minimal rain in autumn and a lack of grass growth.

“We’d been staring down the barrel of going into winter with skinny cows and not enough pasture for feed. We bit the  bullet and made the hard decision to dry off the cows earlier than normal, which enabled us to get cows off grazing earlier and build cover here on the farm. This worked well, as we had awesome winter growth. . .

Abuse of farmers only strengthens corporate agriculture’s hand – Adam Currie:

Condemning agriculture and tarring all farmers with the same brush does nothing to further environmentalists’ cause, argues Adam Currie.

Are there simply too many cows in our country? Or are urbanites just aggressively exacerbating the farming crisis from their sterile offices?

The inconvenient truth is that both are true.

We urgently need to change our approach to land use and kai production – or our environment will experience irrevocable collapse. But this urgency needs to be communicated in a new way, because the current paradigm not only unhelpfully condemns all farmers as ‘bad’; the pressure it puts on farmers also only serves to stir up hatred and division. If nothing else, framing the debate in such an antagonistic way puts a damper on political support for any environmental measure deemed to be ‘anti-farming’. . .

Cosmic Crisp: the apple that can last a year in the fridge :

A new breed of apple that took two decades to develop and supposedly lasts for up to a year in the fridge is going on sale in the US.

The apple – Cosmic Crisp – is a cross-breed of the Honeycrisp and Enterprise and was first cultivated by Washington State University in 1997.

The launch of the “firm, crisp, and juicy apple” cost $10m ($NZ15.6m).

Farmers in the state of Washington are exclusively allowed to grow the fruit for the next decade. . .


New Zealand begins genetic programme to produce low methane-emitting sheep
– Ben Smee:

The New Zealand livestock industry has begun a “global first” genetic program that would help to tackle climate change by breeding low methane-emitting sheep.

There are about six sheep for each person in New Zealand, and the livestock industry accounts for about one-third of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The livestock industry’s peak body, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, already uses a measure called “breeding value” to help breeders select rams with characteristics they want to bolster within their flocks. Within two years breeders will be able to select rams whose traits include lower methane emissions.

“Farmers are more interested than I anticipated,” said a stud breeder, Russell Proffit. His family has been producing rams for more than 40 years. . . 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2019

Get on with it – Neal Wallace and Colin Williscroft:

Politicians might be slow acting on climate change but retailers and consumers who buy New Zealand produce aren’t and they expect Kiwi farmers to reduce their carbon footprint, special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says.

He urges food producers to stop arguing about details and start reducing carbon emissions to preserve demand in lucrative markets.

“It is very real in-market,” he said.

Peterson said “If people think this is being dreamed up by NZ politicians to get at NZ farmers then you need to think again.”

It is being driven by those who buy our food.

“Companies and consumers are driving climate change. . . 

Number of natives under one billions trees anyone’s guess -Eloise Gibson:

How many of the one billion trees planted in the next decade will be native species? Government tree planting agency Te Uru Rakau has clarified that it can’t hazard an estimate. 

The Government’s tree planting agency, Te Uru Rakau, says it can’t estimate what proportion of the one billion trees programme will be native species, saying a previous figure it gave to Newsroom was meant to be purely “illustrative”.

The illustrative figure was used to calculate the estimated climate benefit from the tree scheme, which Te Uru Rakau has put at 384 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the trees’ lifetimes. . . 

Bunds offer phosphorus solution – Richard Rennie:

Capturing phosphate in water spilling off farm catchments has been made easier thanks to work done by a Rotorua farmer group and a doctoral student who have developed detainment bunds on trial properties.

A field day later this month gives farmers the chance to look at work that has largely been under the radar but offers a practical, farmer-focused solution to improving water quality. Richard Rennie spoke to the group’s project manager John Paterson.

While nitrogen mitigation has played on the minds of most regional councils and many farmers, phosphorus losses are also required, under the Government’s latest water quality rules, to be measured and curtailed.  . . 

Exotic breeds offer genetic diversity – Yvonne O”Hara:

Anieka and Nick Templer like a bit of variety in their dairy herd, adding panda-eyed, triple-cross Montbeliarde, Normande, Fleckvieh and Aussie Reds to their mix.

They are are 50/50 sharemilkers on 230ha near Balfour, with 630 cows, and they are targeting 500kgMS/cow and 330,000kgMS production this season. Their herd includes 35 pedigree Ayrshires.

The 2015 Southland/Otago Farm Manager of the Year winners have daughter Maycie (5) and employ two Filipino staff: Emman Orendain and David Lupante.

Mrs Templer grew up on a dairy farm and has always been interested in the more unusual cattle breeds. . . 

‘If we lose these communities we won’t get them back‘ :

AgForce Queensland chief executive Michael Guerin says “if we lose these communities, we won’t get them back”, as “unprecedented” drought conditions continue to affect Australian farmers.

Hundreds of drought-stricken farmers have reportedly stopped receiving payments in the past two years, through a government assistance program, after having reached the four-year limit.

Under the allowance, more than 1,300 households are given $489 a fortnight.

“This federal government is working with us, trying to work with communities that are in incredible trouble” Mr Guerin told Sky News host Paul Murray. . . 

The latest flip-flop on red meat uses best science in place of best guesses – Nina Teicholz:

Eggs are bad; eggs are good. Fat is bad; fat is good. Meat is bad; meat is… OK?

That last food flip-flop made big headlines last week. It was a “remarkable turnabout,” “jarring,” “stunning.” How, it was asked, could seemingly bedrock nutrition advice turn on a dime?

The answer is that many of the nation’s official nutrition recommendations — including the idea that red meat is a killer — have been based on a type of weak science that experts have unfortunately become accustomed to relying upon. Now that iffy science is being questioned. At stake are deeply entrenched ideas about healthy eating and trustworthy nutrition guidelines, and with many scientists invested professionally, and even financially, in the status quo, the fight over the science won’t be pretty.

Red meat is a particularly contentious topic because people have such strong objections to eating meat for a variety of reasons: the environment, animal rights and even religion (Seventh-day Adventists advise against it). . . .


Rural round-up

September 3, 2019

FMA looking into Fonterra’s asset write downs and financial performance following complaint – John Anthony:

The Financial Markets Authority is seeking information from Fonterra after receiving a complaint expressing concerns about the dairy cooperative’s expected record annual loss and asset write downs.

In early August Fonterra said it expected to make a loss for the 2019 financial year of between $590 million and $675m due to asset write downs of up to $860m.

A Financial Markets Authority (FMA) spokesman said it recently received a complaint about Fonterra’s financial reporting, and its audited financial statements over the last few years.

The complaint came from shareholder Colin Armer, who said he and his wife owned 10 million shares. . . 

Passion for sheep runs deep – Sally Rae:

She is known simply as “Sheepish Sophie”.

In the world of social media, Sophie Barnes – who has a strong following – is more well-known by that moniker.

Most recently, the young English shepherd and lamb-rearing specialist has been documenting her travels around the South Island with partner Dorrien Neeson and six dogs, working on various stations and farms.

At present stationed in the Waitaki Valley, Ms Barnes (27) admitted she had tried to find other hobbies apart from sheep farming and genetics but for her they did not exist . . 

The battle for trust – Peter Burke:

With distrust growing in consumers, even for science, gaining their trust is now more valuable to win than ever.

Tim Hunt, the head of RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness in Australasia, says trust is becoming more complex to succeed in and more valuable to win because of what is happening in New Zealand’s markets.

He says in emerging markets, such as China and Southeast Asia, consumers are placing enormous value on the safety of products, whereas in western markets they increasingly value sustainability, animal welfare, fairness and provenance.

Five years of Water Accord show dairy farmers doing their bit to improve water quality:

One of New Zealand’s biggest hands-on environmental efforts has created a wave of change on dairy farms across the country and is contributing to progress in improving water quality.

Today, the Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord farmers and partners announced their achievements to date, including:

  • fencing off dairy cattle from 24,249km (98.3%) of significant dairy accord waterways (waterways which are more than one metre wide and more than 30cm deep). That’s the equivalent of nearly 12 road trips from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Excluding stock from waterways is one of the most beneficial ways to improve water quality
  • installing bridges and culverts on 100% of stock crossing points dairy cows use
  • preparing 10,396 nutrient budgets – up from 6,400 budgets in the first year of the Accord. Nutrient budgets allow farmers to carefully plan nutrient applications and manage nutrient losses
  • assessing 100% of Accord farms for effluent management practices – this process checks that farms have appropriate infrastructure and systems in place to manage effluent
  • developing riparian management plans to protect water quality on 52% of Accord farms with waterways. . . 

Taking the bad with the good in dairy industry report:

Federated Farmers congratulates the dairy industry on another robust environmental report, which shows there are some good things to celebrate and some things that need further work.  

Today’s release of the now five year’s running Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord report shows there are still areas that need work, but overall dairy farmers should be proud of what they’ve achieved in a very short timeframe.

Amongst those matters that need further work are the 6.15% of significant non-compliance with effluent management requirements.

But overall Federated Farmers wants to give a big positive shout-out to what hard working farmers have achieved for the environment in the last 12 months. . .

Lamb export prices spring to a new high :

Export prices for lamb reached their highest point in the June 2019 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

This level is the highest since the series began in 1982, and follows steady increases from the second half of 2016.

“Both lamb and beef prices rose this quarter, up 4.7 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, on the back of strong overseas demand,” overseas trade statistics manager Darren Allan said. . . 

Burgers and climate: the real beef

I have two burgers. One is a beef burger from McDonald’s on the left and the other on the right is a Beyond Meat, plant-protein burger from A&W.

You’ve been told by companies, groups and the media to choose; to eat less meat because one is better for the environment, and we’ve been led to believe that by picking one over the other, we’re doing our part in climate change and being more environmentally-friendly.

What if I told you that both burgers are doing their part and all agriculture is part of the solution, not the problem? What if I told you it’s not one versus the other when it comes to climate change? What if I told you there is more to the story than these companies are sharing? . . 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2019

NZ customers admire our values – Mike Petersen:

The international trading system is facing one of its biggest challenges in recent times.

The building trade war between the US and China and the impasse at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are two significant global events that demand the attention of New Zealand in its dependence on trade for continued success.

Alongside these two geopolitical power plays runs a creeping tide of protectionism in the form of nationalist inward-looking policies that challenge the global value chain model which is increasingly becoming the future of food. . .

From the ground up – Penny Clark-Hall:

Rural communities are incredibly powerful and beautiful things. I’ve seen them in action during natural disasters, family tragedies, raising children, supporting each others businesses, families, hopes and dreams. It’s this calibre of people that are now starting to take charge of their own Social Licence to Operate (SLO) – helping and learning from each other. Many forming their own catchment groups and managing, measuring and improving their own environmental impact.

The isolation of rural communities makes them incredibly vulnerable to the calibre of its inhabitants. But thankfully, it is also a breeding ground for creating a rich tapestry of people that build communities out of necessity. Our remoteness creates a much stronger reliance on each other where we all strive to bring something valuable to the community, to make it our own – our home. It’s got a name – resilience. . .

Success in its rawest form

Northland sharemilkers Guy and Jaye Bakewell’s number-eight wire ingenuity is not only helping pay off their dairy cows faster but capitalising on consumers’ growing demand for raw milk. Luke Chivers reports. 

Open any dairy farmer’s fridge and you will likely find it stocked with raw, untreated milk.

Now more and more urban consumers are catching on.

Four days a week in Auckland’s inner-city suburbs many people look twice as a sign-written truck delivers raw milk in glass bottles to residents.

“It’s just like it used to be done back in the day,” 31-year-old Guy Bakewell says. . .

 

Rural mental health lacks detail – Richard Rennie:

Rural health supporters and agencies are not holding their collective breath for a major windfall from the Government’s massive $1.9 billion mental health package in the Budget.

The mental health package is to be spread over five years and includes $455 million to expand access to primary mental health and addiction support, particularly for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues.

But Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand executive director Marie Daly said so far there is only resounding silence from government agencies about where rural mental health sits in regard to the money.

Rural mental health has become a pressing issue with statistics recording 20 farmers taking their own lives in the year to June 2018, a figure relatively unchanged over the past five years. Rural health providers are also reporting significant increases in rural depression and mental health issues. . . 

Dual cropping to increase efficiency in commercial hemp farming:

Developments in hemp cropping could place New Zealand at the forefront of innovation globally, says Craig Carr, group managing director of Carrfields.

New multi-purpose cropping innovations being developed by Hemp NZ, Carrfields and NZ Yarn are paving the way for highly efficient use of the whole plant – resulting in higher potential returns for growers.

Under a partnership established late last year, Hemp NZ, NZ Yarn and Carrfields are making changes to hemp harvesting technology which allows the stalks and seed to be separated at harvest. . .

Finding the best diet for you and the planet – Carolyn Mortland:

Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability Carolyn Mortland looks at finding a diet that’s good for you and good for the planet.

It’s hard enough working out what food is nutritionally good for us. But what about throwing in the question around what we eat and how it might impact the health of the planet?

With the challenges we face around climate change and a rising global population, we’re starting to see more studies and assessment tools that look to draw conclusions on what is a healthy and sustainable diet.

The debate is heating up around what foods have the smallest environmental footprint, and what proportion of our diet should be animal-based vs. plant-based. . . 

 


Brexit trilemna shows referendum risks

June 13, 2019

Theresa May has resigned as leader of the British Conservative Party having failed to get a Brexit deal passed by parliament.

Will her successor do any better?

The whole mess illustrates the risks of a referendum that required a black and white answer to a vague question, the consequences of which were understood by too few voters.

There’s a lesson here for all governments.

Any referendum on constitutional or other complex matters should require more than a simple majority to change anything.

Every referendum should clearly spell out  the question and be accompanied by a comprehensive education campaign clearly explaining the issues so that voters understand not just what they’re voting for or against, but what will happen if those wanting change win.

We know there will be a referendum on decriminalising or legalising cannabis  at next year’s election. We still don’t know exactly what the question we’ll be voting on is yet.

Without that knowledge the latest polls here and here show a majority aren’t in favour of change, though given how divergent both polls were on politics, it’s difficult to know how reliable those results are.


Rural round-up

May 4, 2019

The prospects for post-Brexit trade with New Zealand – Mike Petersen:

In spite of the uncertainty in the UK with regard to Brexit, the key message from New Zealand is that we will continue to be a constructive and valuable partner for the UK on agriculture and trade issues after Brexit.

Of course, our relationship is not without its challenges, but we are like minded on so many levels. The issues facing farmers the world over are largely the same, and I firmly believe there are compelling reasons for the UK and New Zealand to work together to tackle agricultural trade issues after Brexit.

New Zealand agricultural trade profile

New Zealand is a dynamic, outward looking economy with a highly diversified export market profile. This market diversification can only succeed with improved market access. While governments negotiate to open up and maintain market access in the WTO and through trade agreements, industry itself plays a critical role in identifying and utilising these market access opportunities and navigating constantly changing international commercial challenges and trends. . . 

Mum, teacher, farmer, winner – Annette Scott:

Taranaki dairy farmer Trish Rankin was a self-acclaimed townie having never been on a farm until her husband decided to go dairy farming. Now the passionate environmentalist has been crowned Dairy Woman of the Year. She talked to Annette Scott.

Dairy farmer, passionate environmentalist and part-time teacher Trish Rankin has taken out the prestigious Dairy Woman of the Year 2019 title.

The Taranaki mum headed off the field of four finalists at the Dairy Woman’s Network conference in Christchurch last week.

Rankin balances full-time farming with her husband Glen and their four boys with teaching part time at Opunake Primary School. . . 

Huge pond enhances efficiency – Toni Williams:

Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation’s (BCI) new multi-million dollar water storage facility was made on time and within budget. It will give BCI members access to water at peak times. Reporter Toni Williams found out about BCI and the Akarana Storage Pond construction.

Akarana Pond gets its name from the farm site where it sits, on Barkers Road near Methven.

The pond was designed by NZ company Damwatch Engineering, and built by Canterbury based contractors, Rooney Earthmoving Limited.

Carrfields Irrigation, Electraserve and Rubicon Water Management were also involved. . .

Duck hunters’ delight: is this the world’s best mai-mai?:

A group of duck hunters from Gore have built a mai-mai that is giving “pride of the south” a whole new meaning.

From the outside the hut is inconspicuous, with long grass growing over the roof, but inside it has all the comforts of home.

It’s equipped with a six-burner stove, a bar laden with Speights, two fridges, couches and four beds. The fully functional bathroom even has a hand dryer.

But the most luxurious features must be the Sky TV and a closed-circuit video feed of the pond outside constantly displayed on another screen. . .

Opportunities Party identifies safe and valuable use of genetic technology:

The Forest Owners Association and Federated Farmers congratulate the Opportunities Party for its balanced and sensible gene editing policy, which recognises the significant economic and environmental benefits gene editing technology can provide.

The presidents of the respective organisations, Peter Weir and Katie Milne, say the time for an informed public debate is well overdue as genetic technologies have changed dramatically in recent years and their safety and value has been proven oversees. . . 

Summer Cervena 2019 campaign launched in Europe:

Alliance Group, Duncan NZ and Silver Fern Farms are working together with Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) in the third year of Passion 2 Profit (P2P) Primary Growth Partnership activity raising awareness for Cervena for Northern European summer menus.

This year’s Summer Cervena campaign, running from late-March through to August, has a primary focus on foodservice. The venison exporters are building on the previous activity and now working together with their respective importers/distributors in Benelux and German markets to lift sales to chefs and foodies in the region.

The predominantly foodservice campaign is seeking to attract the attention of high-end and more casual-upmarket establishments, in particular, says DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor. . .

7 mistakes rural marketing managers make and how to fix it – St John Craner:

Over the years I’ve worked with some great rural marketing managers and I’ve also met some poor ones. It’s the same for most of us, a mix of good and bad. So what distinguishes the best rural marketing managers from the worst? The worst commit the crimes below. However they can improve their careers and remuneration prospects if they follow the recommendations below.

Do you want to be a more effective and valuable rural marketing manager who craves more reward and recognition for what you do?

Do you want to secure that raise and promotion this year? Yes? . . 


Rural round-up

April 21, 2019

Meat bonanza – Alan Williams:

Hang on for the ride, New Zealand – the African swine fever disaster breaking down pork supply in China is creating a huge opening for sheep meat and beef producers, special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says.

The Chinese need for protein will push up both demand and thus prices there and for other customers. 

Pork is easily the number one meat protein in China and research indicating the swine fever impact could create an 8.2 million tonnes gap in total protein supply there this year.  . .

MPI raises restrictions on farms to stop spread of Mycoplasma bovis – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers will need to brace themselves for a surge in the number of properties that cannot move stock off their farms as officials grapple with controlling the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said 300 farmers who had high risk animals move on to their properties would be contacted, of whom 250 would have notices of direction placed on them. . .

Exploring potential of dairy sheep, goats – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Sheep and Goat Dairy Project (SGDP) is to hold a workshop in Invercargill tomorrow to explore the potential for dairy sheep and dairy goats as an alternative income stream for farmers and others along the supply chain.

The national Provincial Growth Fund-funded project was launched in January and will continue until March 2020.

Project leader John Morgan, who is also the manager of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network (Fin) at Lincoln University, said there had been pockets of interest and activity to do with sheep and goat milk in the past. . .

Truly outstanding in their fields – Peter Burke:

The East Coast of the North Island features prominently in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award for Sheep and Beef.

Two of the three men work on farms on the East Coast, the others in the South Island.

The three finalists were selected from entrants NZ-wide: 

Outbreak delays bee project – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Southern Beekeepers discussion group has completed the first two rounds of sampling southern beehives at sites in Mosgiel and Lake Hawea for the American Foulbrood (AFB) research project, Clean Hive.

However, a major AFB outbreak in the North Island is keeping the laboratory they are using busy with samples, so the results have been delayed.

The sampling is part of the beekeeping industry’s research project to trial three different methods to detect the disease in hives before symptoms become visible or clinical. . .

Celebrating women in agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Words spoken during a panel discussion at the Women of Influence Forum in 2016 struck a chord with Chelsea Millar from Grass Roots Media.

The panel consisting of several high-profile women from various sectors was discussing how women don’t get enough recognition for their work, whether it be equality, pay parity or so on.

“It struck me that this was true in the agriculture sector,” Millar says. . .

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Rural round-up

April 6, 2019

FARMSTRONG: Putting people first comes first

A thriving Canterbury dairy farmer puts as much thought into looking after his staff as he does stock and pasture. 

Duncan Rutherford manages an operation with 14 staff, 2300 cows and some sheep and beef on a 3300-hectare property. 

He and his family are still dealing with the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. 

“It was a reasonable challenge all right. A couple of houses got fairly damaged and one is still being repaired.  . . 

Exporters’ Brexit concerns grow – Peter Burke:

New Zealand primary produce exporters’ concerns continue rising about the confusion in the British parliament over Brexit.

NZ’s agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says given the possibility of a no-deal, exporters are making contingency plans for such an event.

But they also still hope a deal will be agreed so they won’t have to trigger plans for a no-deal. The whole thing is a terrible mess, Petersen told Rural News last week. . . 

Young farming couple applauded for farm sustainability – Angie Skerret:

A farming couple applauded for their commitment to farming sustainability have a simple message for other farmers – make a plan and make a start.

Simon and Trudy Hales, of Kereru Farms, are one of eleven regional winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards – taking out the Horizons regional award.

The Hales are the fourth generation to farm the land, and have worked hard to make positive changes on their 970ha sheep and beef farm near Weber. . .

A2 Milk says lift in dairy prices may impact in FY2020 – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Company said recent increases in dairy pricing will have an impact on gross margin percentages in the 2020 financial year but it doesn’t anticipate any significant impact this year.

Dairy product prices rose for the ninth straight time in the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction. The GDT price index added 0.8 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago and average prices are now up 28 percent since the auction on Nov 20.

“We do not anticipate any significant impact to gross margin percentage during FY19 as a result of recent increases in dairy pricing as reflected in Global Dairy Trade Indices. . . 

Dairy industry tells EU ‘hard cheese’ – Nigel Stirling:

The dairy industry is digging its heels in over the European Union’s attempts to seize dozens of cheese names for the exclusive use of its own producers.

The EU has long sought to use its free-trade agreements to extend its system of Geographical Indications (GIs) and its trade talks with NZ have been no exception.

As part of the talks the European Commission has given NZ negotiators a list of 179 food names and hundreds more wine and spirit names linked to European places it says should be given legal protection over and above that provided by this country’s own system of GIs protecting names of wines and spirits introduced several years ago. . . 

Scott and Laura Simpson’s focus on data collection pays off in Inverell drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

SOME of the toughest decisions are made during unfavourable seasons but for Inverell’s Scott and Laura Simpson their efforts during the good times are making their management easier. 

The couple are into their fifth year of ownership of the 1700 hectare property Glennon, which was previously run by Mr Simpson’s parents. 

At the time they had a herd of Brangus content types so the pair moved to incorporate more Angus genetics and breed more moderate females.  . . 


Rural round-up

January 25, 2019

UK agreement ensures status quo for exporters  – Sally Rae:

The signing of a veterinary agreement between the United Kingdom and New Zealand will provide reassurance to farmers and exporters, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor says.

Uncertainty has prevailed in the red meat sector since the Brexit vote in 2016. The UK accounted for $560million worth of the sector’s exports, dominated by sheepmeat which represented 85% of that total.

In a joint statement with Beef + Lamb, Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said the signing of the agreement, together with recent advice from the UK about the acceptance of EU health certificates post-March 29, meant the sector was assured existing regulations would remain the same. . .

Elers’ life wrapped up in wool – Alan Williams:

 Tina Elers is working seven days a week but is still finding time to improve her fitness ahead of the World Shearing Championship in France later this year. She also found time to talk to Alan Williams about her busy life.

Thirty years into her wool-classing career Tina Elers is as busy as ever and very motivated.

When some might think it is time to slow down she’s working a seven-day week around Southland, weather permitting, and doing extra fitness work. . .

Milk production record possible – Sally Rae:

 Milk production is on track to set a record this season as the risk of drought derailing it continues to recede.

Earlier in the season, an increasing chance of an El Nino weather pattern this summer was raised and the expectation was the associated dry conditions could crimp production later in the season.

Yesterday, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said relatively healthy soil moisture levels suggested production should “kick on” over the next few months. . .

Surplus research farm gets the chop– Annette Scott:

More than 70 years of agriculture history will go under the hammer when AgResearch sells its Mid Canterbury research farm next month.

Bought in 1946 to provide local research into the use of border-dyke irrigation with long-term fertiliser trials started in the 1950s, the Winchmore research farm has contributed to more than 500 science publications.

But AgResearch has called time on its 72 years. . .

Farmer living the dream on Ponui island :

Living on an island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf has its perks for sheep and beef farmer George Watson.

The 26-year-old works on one of three farms on Ponui Island, which lies southeast of Waiheke Island.

The picturesque island has rolling grass-covered hills, pockets of bush and sheltered bays with white sandy beaches.

Agria rep to step down as Wrightson chair by June 26 – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says current chair Joo Hai Lee will step down before June 28 but that the board will continue its governance review in the meantime.

Lee represents Wrightson’s former majority shareholder, Singapore-registered Agria, and took over as chair in early November after Agria principal Alan Lai abruptly resigned the day before the scheduled annual shareholders’ meeting.

Wrightson says in a statement that the board “will provide an update in the near future regarding the outcomes of the review and the chair’s appointment.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 22, 2019

No “over the fence” spread of Mycoplasma bovis, says MPI– Heather Chalmers:

The Ministry for Primary Industries says there have been no cases of “over the fence spread” of Mycoplasma bovis, as three more farms are confirmed as infected with the cattle disease.

The three new properties were beef farms in the Far North and South Canterbury and a dairy farm in Otago. The Far North farm was only the second case confirmed in Northland. MPI said the farms were linked to other infected farms and their infection status was not unexpected.

Five previously-infected farms, four in Canterbury and one in Tasman, were declared free of contamination, after being destocked, fallowed and cleaned. . . 

Miners discover gold but few celebrating – Madison Reidy:

A small company wanting to extract gold from a mine on conservation land fears for the future of the industry in the face of red tape, local hostility and official indifference.

New Talisman Gold Mines has spent $1.8 million over 18 months to get the century-old mine in Mount Karangahake near Waihi back in to production.

It has a resource consent to extract 20,000 cubic metres of ore a year for sampling, and it estimates it could produce as much as 51,000 ounces of gold from the mine once it starts full commercial production. . .

North Island stag fetches $155,000 – Sally Rae:

Some “exceptional” sales have been recorded at recent deer sales, including a record price of $155,000 in the North Island.

The 5-year-old trophy stag was described by Carrfields Livestock auctioneer Neville Clark as a “phenomenal” animal.

“Something to behold when you saw him in the pen,” he said. . . 

Why are American farmers killing themselves? – Debbie Weingarten:

It is dark in the workshop, but what light there is streams in patches through the windows. Cobwebs coat the wrenches, the cans of spray paint and the rungs of an old wooden chair where Matt Peters used to sit. A stereo plays country music, left on by the renter who now uses the shop.

“It smells so good in here,” I say. “Like …”

“Men, working,” finishes Ginnie Peters.

We inhale. “Yes.”

Ginnie pauses at the desk where she found her husband Matt’s letter on the night he died. . . 

Huge station bought by Aussie farmers –  Mollie Tracey:

IN a monumental sale, one of the world’s biggest stations and the country’s second largest cattle property has been purchased by Australian beef cattle farmers.

Clifton Hills Station was bought by Viv Oldfield and Donny Costello, of Crown Point Pastoral Company, with the deal being confirmed last month.

Mr Oldfield is well-known in the racing industry as a horse trainer and owns properties in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

He also owns an outback trucking business called Tanami Transport. . . 

Henare bounces back to claim lambswool title:

World champion woohandler Joel Henare got one back on leading rival Pagan Karauria as he won the Southland Shears’ national crossbred lambs woolhandling title at the Winton A and P Show on Saturday.

Now based back in hometown Gisborne, after about two years in Motueka, where he took a break from the woolsheds to work in the fish shed, Henare beat Karauria by just 0.76pts in reversing the result of the previous day’s Northern Southland Community Shears longwool championships at Long Range, near Lumsden. . . 

Two in a row for champion shearer Smith:

Shearing champion Rowland Smith has taken just two days of the New Year to reinforce his claims to the major titles and possibly a second World championship by winning his first two Open finals of 2019 over the weekend.

Smith won the Horowhenua Shears Open final today in Levin, just 24 hours after winning another Open final 340km away in Wairoa. . . 

Wedd lcocks up second open win:

Mobile shearing operator Phil Wedd drew first blood for the Warkworth team as he won the Kaikohe show’s Open final in the first round of the second ANZ Northland Shearing Competition on Saturday.

Wedd was scoring just his second win in a lengthy but sparsely-competed Open-class career which he’s mixed with shearing abroad and testing his form also as a golfer. . . 

Baigent wins Golden Bay title:

Wakefield shearer Travers Baigent scored his second win of the season and the fifth Open class title of his career at the Golden Bay A and P Show at Takaka on Saturday.

Among one of the smallest entries of shearers at shows in the Top of the South region, Baigent still managed to give the public their money’s woth in a three-man final of 20 lambs each, which he shore in 17min 33sec, 40 seconds clear of runner-up Paul Hodges, of Reefton. . . 


Rural round-up

November 6, 2018

Why Fonterra’ farmers should be wondering what the Irish could teach us – Point of Order:

It’s a critical week for the country’s largest company, Fonterra, which has to find a new direction after shipping out its chief executive, Theo Spierings, writing off more than $1.5bn from its balance sheet, and posting its first loss in its 17-year history.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, Fonterra’s suppliers are absorbing payout downgrades as well as a slump in dairy farm prices.

At the same time they are seeing the valuations of other companies in the dairy industry—notably A2 Milk and Synlait— soaring on the NZ sharemarket. . . 

Merinos, matagouri and moving on – Sally Rae:

 The Upper Waitaki has historically been known as the land of Munros, merinos and matagouri.

For more than a century, the Munro family have farmed Rostriever Run, a high country property alongside what is now the Otematata township.

But their roots in the area dated back to the 1860s, when William and Lavannah Munro first arrived in the district. In latter years, Rostriever has been farmed in partnership by three brothers — John, Ian and the late Ronnie — and their families.

But change is in the wind as the family have decided to put the pastoral lease up for sale. . . 

Wool group takes blanket approach – Annette Scott:

A working group tasked with seizing opportunities to create a sustainable and profitable wool industry will have an action plan to revitalise the languishing sector by the end of the year.

The working group made up of 20 wool producers, processors and wider industry stakeholders will continue the momentum of the Wool Industry Summit initiated by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in July in an attempt to move the industry forward with a new purpose and a fresh plan for action. . .

‘M. bovis’ action group vying for national award – Sally Brooker:

A group set up to help farmers stave off Mycoplasma bovis is vying for a national award.

Morven dairy farmer Hugh Le Fleming and Veterinary Centre Oamaru created the Morven Action Group to find pragmatic ways for farmers to safeguard their livestock from the bacterial cattle disease.

It was discovered for the first time in New Zealand on a Morven dairy farm in July last year. The vets and farmers sought best practice information, from which they compiled a ”Top 11 Checklist and Biosecurity Action Plan”.

It could be used for other potential biosecurity incursions as well as M. bovis. . .

Targeted share offer and buy-back strengthens ownership and alignment :

Zespri has made good progress in strengthening alignment and grower ownership and control of the company through a targeted share offer and buy-back programme.

The offer closed on 19 October and Zespri has accepted 427 applications to purchase over 12 million shares for a total of over $95 million. Participation was open to growers who do not own shares and to growers who hold less than one share per tray of their production. Over half of the applications were from previously unshared growers and the percentage of total shares in Zespri held by growers has increased to 85 percent.

Asparagus on a roll:

One of the great delights of New Zealand’s spring is asparagus rolled in fresh, white bread; steamed and served with a little butter; or juicy and delicious from the barbecue, says Mike Arnold, Chairman of the New Zealand Asparagus Council.

“The weather has been kind to us and the quality and taste of New Zealand grown asparagus is excellent this season, but it is going to be a relatively short season so people should start enjoying asparagus now. We expect asparagus harvesting to finish early to mid-December,” says Mike Arnold. . . 


Rural round-up

October 22, 2018

The business giving tourists a taste of the country – Sally Rae:

It is probably just as well that Laura Douglas has ditched her stiletto heels, given her days can include chasing errant pigs.

And while leading a runaway porker next to a state highway might draw a few odd glances from passing motorists, it is all in a day’s work for the self-confessed farm girl.

In a gutsy move, Miss Douglas (31) traded in a successful corporate career to establish an agri-tourism venture near Kingston in late 2016. In a major development for her fledgling business, Real Country recently confirmed a contract with international bus tour company Contiki to provide travellers with an authentic Southland farm experience.

Shares wobble as rules change – Hugh Stringleman:

Sharemarket high fliers A2 Milk and Synlait have lost considerable market value over the past month as investors try to make out the impact of forthcoming Chinese e-commerce regulations.

The prospects for both dairy companies run in tandem because Synlait produces most of A2 Milk’s infant formula and A2 now has a 17.4% stake in Synlait.

Both reported the doubling of sales and profits for the 2018 financial year when their share prices nudged $13 but A2 has since fallen to $10 and Synlait to $9. . . 

 

Butlers put berry farm up for sale – Chris Tobin:

Donald Butler (78) has spent most of his life growing berry fruit – strawberries especially – but now he and wife Jacky (76) have decided it’s time to step back.

The couple have placed their cafe and 11.95ha property at Hook, on State Highway 1 north of Waimate on the market, and will move to another property they own to run sheep.

Mr Butler has lived in the Hook area his entire life and has always been on a farm. ”My parents farmed on the Lower Hook Road and had 14 cows and apple orchards on a 40-acre [16ha] block. . .

Glysophate foes driven by hatred for Monsanto – Peter Griffin:

The NZ Environmental Protection Authority made the right call last week to leave glyphosate​ off a list of chemicals it will reassess to determine their risk to people and the environment.

In doing so, it resisted political pressure to put use of glyphosate-based weedkiller like Roundup in the spotlight. Associate Environment Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage had wanted the EPA to consider classifying glyphosate as a hazardous chemical.

There’s a movement, particularly in Europe, to have glyphosate banned. . .

Property steeped in history on market for first time in over a century – Pat Deavoll and Rob Smith:

A historic farm near Culverden in North Canterbury is up for sale for the first time in 110 years.

PGG Wrightson real estate agent Bruce Hoban said that Mandamus Downs, owned by the Hammond family, had a “fine heritage” and was “held in high regard by North Canterbury farmers.”

“This is one of the Amuri Basin’s most admired grazing properties. It has an excellent scale, a good balance of hills, downs and flats, and has never been offered for sale before.” . . 

If we’re going to eat cattle let them eat grass – Jared Stone:

Stories about impending environmental apocalypse circulate almost daily, especially in drought-ravaged California. Many of these stories tend to blame agriculture — and specifically, beef — for gobbling up our resources. Though numbers vary widely and are hotly contested, some researchers estimate that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce each pound of beef.

The real problem, however, isn’t cattle. It’s industrial feedlots, where more than 70% of U.S. cattle eventually live.

In an industrial feedlot, potentially thousands of animals are packed together in an enclosure of bare, unproductive dirt. Nothing grows there. Operators have to bring in water for the cattle to drink, and for the enormous manure ponds that contain the cattle’s waste. But the majority of the water used in raising industrial cattle goes into growing their feed. These operations are tremendously resource-intensive. . .


Rural round-up

September 28, 2018

NZ farmer confidence slides into negative territory– Rabobank:

New Zealand farmer confidence has eased from the previous quarter and is now at net negative levels for the first time since early 2016.

The third quarterly survey for the year – completed earlier this month – has shown net farmer confidence has fallen to -three per cent, down from +two per cent recorded in the June 2018 survey.

The survey found a fall in the number of farmers expecting agricultural economy conditions to improve in the coming 12 months (down to 20 per cent from 26 per cent last quarter) as well as those expecting conditions to worsen (23 per cent from 24 per cent previously) while an increased number of New Zealand farmers were expecting the performance of the agricultural economy to stay the same (54 per cent from 46 per cent last survey). . .

Room for improvement despite progress on M. bovis awareness:

Survey shows room for improvement despite progress on M. bovis awareness

More than half of sheep and beef farmers have made changes to reduce the risk of their stock becoming infected by Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), according to research by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

57 per cent of farmers recently surveyed reported they had taken precautions against the disease while 71 per cent of farmers feel that they have a high level of knowledge on how to protect their stock from M. bovis.

Around a third of farmers surveyed (34 per cent) said they had implemented a buffer zone between them and their neighbours’ stock, as well as communicating with their neighbours about stock on the boundary. . . 

A jigsaw with bits missing – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis had a head-start on officials trying to eradicate it but Nait is helping them catch up.

While Nait is not perfect it has enabled the eradication attempt that otherwise might not have been possible, Ministry for Primary Industries intelligence group manager Alix Barclay says.

That head-start has, over time, meant changes to the design of surveillance and how it is implemented, Barclay said.

The intelligence team is responsible for tracing the disease, surveillance, targeting of sampling, data management and the diagnostic laboratory systems. . . 

Westland Milk’s payout at low end of guidance; cuts 2019 forecast – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products has cut its forecast for the 2019 season due to weak global butter prices and announced a farmgate return near the bottom end of guidance.

New Zealand’s third-largest dairy company said its final milk payout for the 2018 season was $6.12 per kilo of milk solids, less a 5 cent retention. That delivered a net average result for shareholders of $6.07 per kgMS. The cooperative had forecast a payout of $6.10 to $6.40 and the retention enabled it to report a pre-tax profit of $3.3 million for the 12 months ended July 31. . .

Tatua Financial Results for the Year Ended 31 July 2018:

The Tatua Board or Directors and Executive met on 26 September 2018 to consider the financial results for the 2017/18 season and decide on the final payout to our Suppliers. We are pleased to report that Tatua has had a good year and has achieved record Group revenue of $357 million, and earnings of $127 million.

Our focus on growing our value-add businesses has contributed significant additional revenue and our bulk ingredient product mix has served us well. . .

Selling bulls but keeping semen rights – Alan Williams:

Te Mania Stud is looking for sons of its sale-topping Australian sire to move the Angus breed forward.

Starting this year the stud is keeping a 50% interest in the semen of all the bulls it sells.

“This keeps us protected if one of the bulls comes through with brilliant traits and we can get that semen back to use through our dam line,” stock manager Will Wilding said.

The deal involves only semen sales. There’s no income-share when buyers use the bulls for physical mating.

Semen from Te Mania Garth was brought from Australia and used to breed the top-priced rising  . .

2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries open October 1st:

With less than a week until entries open in the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional competitions are gathering in Rotorua for the annual conference to fine tune processes and launch events.

General Manager Chris Keeping says the conference is an opportunity for the many volunteers from around the country to come together after a busy winter season. “The conference will be a busy few days, bringing everyone up-to-date with the changes made to the entry criteria and visa requirements,” she says. . .

On the brink of innovative Ag technology acceptance: A Kenyan farmer’s perspective – Gilbert Arap Bor:

Farmers have good years and bad years. Here in Kenya, however, the good years never have seemed quite as good as they should be and the bad years have felt worse than necessary.

That’s because we can’t take advantage of a tool that farmers in much of the developed world take for granted: GMO crops. In many countries, they’ve transformed farming, helping farmers contend with weeds, pests, and drought. In my country, we’re still languishing in the 20th century, waiting for the arrival of this 21st-century technology.

We may in fact be on the brink of embracing innovative technology for agriculture, but the long and winding road to this welcome destination has been full of frustration and false starts. We’ve been at it for an entire generation. Africa already faces plenty of problems: poverty, climate change, a poor infrastructure, political instability, corruption and more. So the failure of Kenya and most other African nations to take up GMOs is especially painful because this problem is almost entirely self-imposed. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 21, 2018

2019 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced: 

Six young agriculture professionals from both sides of the Tasman have been announced for the prestigious badge of honour for the primary industry, the Zanda McDonald Award.

Now in its fifth year, the award recognises innovative young professionals in agriculture from across Australasia. Five Australians and one New Zealander have been selected as finalists for the 2019 award based on their passion for agriculture, strong leadership skills, and their vision for the primary industry.

The shortlist is made up by Australians Alice Mabin 32, owner of Alice Mabin Pty Ltd in Linthorpe Queensland, Harry Kelly, 26, Manager of Mooramook Pastoral Co. in Caramut Victoria, Luke Evans, 28, Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture in Tennant Creek Northern Territory, Nick Boshammer, 30, Director of NBG Holdings Pty Ltd in Chinchilla Queensland, and Shannon Landmark, 27, Co-ordinator of the Northern Genomics Project of the University of Queensland. Kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms in Oamaru, North Otago rounds off the six. . . 

Kiwi farmers take on growing South American super food – Catherine Groenestein:

Growing Taranaki’s first commercial crop of quinoa was challenge enough, but finding a combine harvester in a district devoted to dairying proved tougher.

Luckily for Hamish and Kate Dunlop of Hāwera, they found someone who owns the only suitable machine in the region living just down the road.

The couple’s journey into growing a crop native to South America on their sheep and beef farm began with a discussion about whether quinoa, a food the health-conscious family was already familiar with, would grow in South Taranaki, Kate said. . .

 The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers – Point of Order:

It  must have felt  like  salt being rubbed into  their  financial wounds   for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders, when Synlait  Milk this week  reported  its  net profit  soared  89%  to  $74.6m.   Fonterra’s  mob   saw  their  co-op  notch  up  a  loss of  $196m, and  with prices  at GDT auctions trending down,  they may also have to accept a trim  to the forecast milk price.

Where  Fonterra  talks of   slimming its  portfolio,  Synlait  is still investing  in expansion.

In the latest year Synlait has been working on new and expanded plants in Dunsandel, Auckland and Pokeno as well as a research and development centre in Palmerston North. . .

Much more mozzarella – Chris Tobin:

Cutting-edge technology used in Fonterra’s new mozzarella line at its Clandeboye plant is the first of its kind in the world, and being kept under wraps.

”It’s the result of years of investment into R&D and hard work at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre,” Clandeboye cheese plant manager Chris Turner said.

”The work has been supported in part by the Primary Growth Partnership between the Government, Fonterra and Dairy NZ.

”Other than that we can’t tell you too much more. . .

Fonterra steers clear of consultants after paying millions to McKinseys – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will not use external consultants for its newly-announced everything-on-the-table asset review, the dairy processor says. This follows allegations it paid up to $100 million a year between 2015 and 2017 to global consultancy giant McKinsey as part of its “Velocity” cost-cutting and restructuring programme.

It also forked out millions of dollars in CEO and other staff bonuses as part of its Velocity Leadership Incentive scheme. . .

Balle and Coull to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ shareholders have chosen Dacey Balle and Duncan Coull from an unprecedented field of 19 candidates to join the Co-operative’s Board, representing the North Island.

Murray Taggart, who retired by rotation this year, was unopposed in the South Island Ward and re-elected to the Board – while the decisions of Gray Baldwin to not seek re-election and Donna Smit to step down in the North Island Ward, opened a rare opportunity to secure a governance role with a leading rural business. . .


Rural round-up

August 15, 2018

Appeal decision a win for irrigators but more work needs to be done:

An appeal to Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 nutrient modelling rules has been resolved with a major win achieved for irrigators, says IrrigationNZ.

A Hearings Panel on the Plan Change proposed a new requirement that would have effectively required that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. It was estimated that this change would cost irrigators $300 million.

All parties to the appeal agreed that an error in law had been made when the Hearing Panel introduced this as a new requirement because no submitter had asked for this change.

INZ carried out testing on 300 irrigation systems in Ashburton and Selwyn districts over two summers recently which found that older spray irrigation systems can achieve good levels of water efficiency if regular checking and maintenance is carried out

First M bovis case confirmed near Motueka in Tasman – Sara Meij:

The first case of M. Bovis has been confirmed in the Nelson region.

Biosecurity New Zealand said on Tuesday a property near Motueka, in the Tasman district, had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease.

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm.

The farm was identified through tracing animals from known infected farms and it was now under a Restricted Place Notice, which meant it was in “quarantine lockdown”, restricting the movement of animals and other “risk goods” on and off the farm. . .

At the grassroots: farmers contribute too – John Barrow:

I recently returned a little disappointed from the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch.

From a dairy farmer’s perspective I was disappointed at the lack of recognition of the cost of farming and issues we are facing – all the emphasis was on urban.

The conference theme was We are Firmly Focused on the Future: Future Proofing for a Prosperous and Vibrant NZ. . .

Draft report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids for the season just ended.

The report does not cover the forecast 2018/19 price of $7.00 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success.

MOBH Farm, an equity partnership made up of Kevin Hall, Tim Montgomerie, Jodie Heaps and Mark Turnwald, won two category awards as well as being named the supreme winner at the 2018 Dairy Business of the Year awards (DBOY). . .

Farmers rally around Cancer Society fundraiser at Feilding Hogget Fair – Paul Mitchell:

The rural community is banding together to get behind the Cancer Society, with personal connections running as deep as their pockets.

The annual Hogget Fair at the Feilding Stockyards on Wednesday is one of the biggest in New Zealand. For the second year running, farmers will donate sheep to help those who are doing it tough.

The money raised from selling the sheep will go directly to supporting Manawatū-Whanganui cancer patients. . .

Rare heifer triplets thriving on Taieri farm – Sally Rae:

Holy cow – it’s a girl. Or in the case of a heifer calving on a Taieri dairy farm last week, it was a gaggle of girls, handful of heifers.

The first-calver produced a very rare set of heifer triplets on the Miller family’s farm at Maungatua. Andrew Miller and his father Jim had never encountered triplet calves before.

Andrew was particularly amazed the Kiwi-cross calves had all survived and were now doing well in the calf shed. . .

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Rural round-up

July 7, 2018

Rural health wants tourists’ cash – Neal Wallace:

A rural South Canterbury general practitioner was paid $13 for each of the 150 emergency calls she made in the last year, a pay rate described by the Rural GP Network as a joke.

The network’s chief executive Dalton Kelly said with such low pay rates plus the demands on rural GPs it is understandable rural health professionals are leaving the sector, prompting a call for a portion of the proposed tourist tax to be directed to rural health services.

Kelly said rural GPs and nurses are regularly called to tend to sick and injured tourists and unlike an urban incident, patients cannot be transferred to someone else who is on call. . .

Trading times get challenging – Pam Tipa:

A trade expert has backed up comments by agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen, who says New Zealand is facing its most challenging time in trade in 30 years.

Petersen told Rural News that the established rules on trade via the World Trade Organisation, particularly for agricultural products, are at risk from the US-China trade war.

While the products being targeted now are not NZ products, the risk of spillover into our products is very high, he says. . . 

Concerns over Mycoplasma bovis leave farmer confidence in the balance:

Concerns about the impact of Mycoplasma bovis disease on the country’s agricultural sector have seen New Zealand farmer confidence decline over the past quarter, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While farmer confidence remains at net positive levels, the overall reading dropped to +two per cent in the latest quarter, from +15 per cent in the previous survey. . .

A strong bull-seeking season in south – Nicole Sharp:

Prices are up and bull breeders are happy following a successful selling season.

Bull breeders throughout Southland and Otago have been hosting fellow farmers on farms for sales over the past couple of months.

PGG Wrightson livestock genetics representative Callum McDonald said sales came to a conclusion at the end of last month and there was positivity in the air.

”We have seen a great bull-selling season for the South, with high demand for quality bulls“ . . 

Hundreds gather to celebrate 50th anniversary of FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Hundreds of people have celebrated the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s longest-running agricultural contest.

The first FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final was held in Auckland in 1969.

Former winners and finalists were among a 400-strong crowd which gathered in Invercargill last night to mark the milestone.

“It’s amazing. It’s just like a school reunion isn’t it,” said Levin farmer Geoff Kane, 66, who won the national final in 1981. . .

Entire Northland school visits farm on paddock to plate learning journey

A national project is helping a Northland teacher combine her two passions of education and food production.

Natalie Lynch teaches a class of Years 5-8 students at Matakohe School in the Kaipara District.

Last week the small school’s entire roll of 47 pupils visited the farm of Marshall Walton in Whangarei.

“Watching a sheep being shorn, pressing a bale of wool in a manual press, and using the drafting gates was a new experience for everyone,” said Natalie. . . 

Omega lamb project update in third year:

The Omega Lamb Project is now in its third year and well over 100 restaurants in New Zealand and Hong Kong have had Te Mana Lamb on their menus.

The project builds on a decade-long scientific programme and breakthrough research. It found that the right combination of genetics, management and feeding can alter the fat profile of lamb and produce animals that are healthy, while delivering a tastier and healthier product.

Te Mana Lamb is higher in Omega-3 than other lamb available on the market.

Mark Williamson, general manager of the Omega Lamb Project, a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership, the farmer-owned Headwaters and leading food company Alliance Group, said Te Mana Lamb is being praised by chefs for its flavour and consistent eating quality. . . 

Fears for future of Scots beef and lamb production – Colin Ley:

The viability of beef and sheep production in Scotland is being threatened by a Scottish government climate change bill that includes a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren said that will make it virtually impossible for the country’s farmers to produce beef and lamb.

“Moving to net zero GHG emissions would be absolutely devastating for our livestock industry,” he told an industry meeting at the Royal Highland Show.  . . 

 


Mike Petersen Ag Comunicator of Year

June 14, 2018

The New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists announces:

The current New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, is the 2018 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year. This was announced at a dinner in Hamilton last night, when he was presented with a trophy and a cash prize.

This is the thirty-second year the Agricultural Communicator of the Year title has been awarded, and is the second year of involvement by sponsor Ravensdown.  This year there were six people nominated and the decision was reached by a panel of 10 judges from around the country.

Mike has been described as a superb communicator and always able to deliver his messages in tune with his audience in any location anywhere in the world.

Mike has been involved in leadership positions within the agri-food sector for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has been elected to positions on industry organisations representing farmers such as chair of Beef + Lamb, and the ability to communicate effectively has been a core component of these positions.

He has travelled the length of the country speaking to hundreds of meetings over the years, providing the opportunity for farmers to engage with their organisation and discuss opportunities for the sector.

Over the past five years he has spent a considerable amount of his time in the role of New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy. This is a ministerial appointment to advocate for the dairy, sheep, beef, horticulture and wine industries in their efforts to improve market access and trading environment.

In this role, he travels offshore about six times per year to all markets of the world where New Zealand is looking to improve market access and market reputation. He speaks to numerous conferences and meets with the complete range of stakeholders from farmers, industry groups, corporates, officials, ministers and Prime Ministers dispelling myths and promoting the New Zealand agri-food sector.

As New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, he also presents to numerous conferences and events in New Zealand, reports back to industry following his travels and responds to many media requests for interviews and commentary on all issues relating to trade.

The Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year award is administered by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, and recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues, events or information.    Guild president Elaine Fisher said the Guild is delighted to partner with Ravensdown in offering this long-standing award, which recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues events or information.

“This year’s winner, Mike Petersen, epitomises all that it is to be a highly effective communicator for our primary industries. He has advocated on behalf of sheep and beef farmers, promoted Māori agribusiness, and effectively represents New Zealand’s primary industries on the international stage, all underpinned by his background as an award-winning Hawke’s Bay farmer.

Taking communications even further, Mike also shares his knowledge and skills with the next generation of leaders through working with Young Farmers, university students, Nuffield and Kellogg scholars. The Guild is pleased to join with Ravensdown in honouring Mike as the 2018 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year,” Elaine said.

Regarded as the premier award for agricultural communicators, the Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year is also the most valuable prize the Guild offers. Ravensdown provides a prize of $2,500 for the winner, part of a sponsorship package of nearly $6,000 for the Guild. The additional funding assists with administration costs for the award, including the awards dinner in Hamilton.


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