Rural round-up

October 19, 2017

Alliance poised with strong balance sheet – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s profit this year will be “substantially up” on last year’s result, chief executive David Surveyor says.

Speaking at a roadshow meeting in Waimate last week, Mr Surveyor could not give a figure as he did not yet have the audited accounts, but said a pool payment would also be made.

Last year, the company posted a pre-tax profit of $10.1million for the year ended September 30, based on a turnover of $1.36billion.

Last year’s debt figure of $41million would be halved to somewhere around the $20million mark, Mr Surveyor said. . . 

Don’t call me a “female farmer” – Milk Maid Marian:

I’m just a farmer. Not an “invisible farmer”, not a “woman in ag”, just a farmer. Being able to prime a pump and drain a sump does not make me exceptional either. Just another farmer.

I’m not sure, really, why there are so many women-in-ag groups. Their existence suggests the female form is somehow a problem when it comes to twisting wire into a figure 8 knot or developing a new plot. It’s not.

All my life, I’ve watched women farmers at work. My grandmother, mother, neighbours and friends. There’s nothing new – or second-rate – about female farmers. . .

New Zealand Grown And Made Tamarillo Products Exported to Major US Boutique Food Company:

New Zealand’s Tamarillo Co-operative has signed a major deal with a distributor allowing Tamarillo Marinade and Tamarillo Vinegar to be sold in the US and Canada.

The first of shipment of tamarillo pulp has left Whangarei for US-based food producer and distributor, Serious Foodie. Tamarillos are processed into pulp and vinegar concentrate in New Zealand and exported to Serious Foodie in bulk. Florida-based Serious Foodie then makes the pulp into Tamarillo Marinade and Tamarillo Vinegar.  . .

Family farm trusts at risk:

Agri family businesses that have a trust structure need to make sure they’re not burnt by the changes in legislation that governs trusts.

Crowe Horwath Business Advisory Partner Denis Hames says neglecting your family trust has never been a good idea and in light of the new Trusts Bill currently going through parliament, which would tighten up the obligations and responsibilities of trustees, trusts will need to be reviewed to ensure their ‘fitness’ in the current environment. . . 

$40,000 MPI funding to get high value ginseng exporting:

A South Waikato ginseng producer is ready to approach potential investors to increase its production and exports with the help of funding of up to $40,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Maraeroa has 20 hectares of high value wild simulated Asian panax ginseng growing on the forest floor of its 5,550 hectare pine plantation. The group is looking to double the size of its ginseng plantation by raising capital and having a purpose designed processing factory built at Pureora. . . 


Rural round-up

April 11, 2015

Big jump in number of agriculture students:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand is welcoming an increase in enrolments in agricultural courses at Massey and Lincoln universities as a sign that more school leavers are considering careers in the primary sector.

Massey University has had its biggest intake into agricultural courses for at least 25 years, with almost 190 first year students enrolling in the compulsory Plants in Agriculture class.

Lincoln University’s Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Diploma in Agriculture programmes both attracted 20 percent more enrolments than last year, and enrolments have doubled for the new Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing and the Master of Science in Food Innovation programmes. . .

Motivated dairy couple aim high – Gerard Hutching:

Matt and Tracey Honeysett are hoping it will be third time lucky when the national sharemilker/equity farmer of the year category is decided later this year.

In 2009 the couple won the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa farm manager of the year title, and this year the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa sharemilker/equity farmers of the year, milking 1200 kiwi cross cows for the Pahautea Ltd Partnership. 

The farm is 420 effective hectares, with 266 ha support.

It is the fourth time they have entered the dairy awards. . .

Mastitis, antibiotics and milk – Milk Maid Marian:

Why do we use antibiotics on our farm? Very simply, because despite everything we do to look after their well being, cows, just like people, sometimes fall ill and need antibiotics to get better.

It’s very rare that any of our 260 milking cows become lame with an infection while digestive problems are almost unheard of here and, in any case, do not require antibiotics.

The number one illness we treat on our farm is mastitis. If you’ve breastfed a baby yourself, there’s a fair chance you’ve experienced mastitis. In both cows and women, the symptoms include swelling, warmth and redness for light cases. Nasty cases bring flu-like symptoms that, in cows, can progress to become extremely serious. . .

Rural women and olive oil – what a great mix! And it all came about over a cup of coffee:

Where to house the new community olive press was the big topic of conversation when Gendie Somerville-Ryan, President of Awana Rural Women on Great Barrier Island, met Carol and Trevor Rendle of Barrier Olive Growers Ltd for coffee. Awana Rural Women, a branch of Rural Women NZ, owns its own premises – a hall and a garage. The garage was undergoing a major upgrade and would make the perfect place for the olive press. All it took was a cup of coffee and a chat and the olive press had a new home.

“Awana Rural Women activities encourage community cooperation and development and what better way to demonstrate this than to help promote economic growth through horticulture,” said Mrs Somerville-Ryan. “Our facilities are centrally located, of a high standard and well-known around Great Barrier Island. Housing the olive press is very much in line with our philosophy of helping the community to help itself through education, personal development and building community capacity. It’s a win-win for everyone.” . . .

 

Fodder beet poised to revolutionise beef production:

The beef industry is poised for a revolution driven by explosive growth in the adoption of fodder beet by Kiwi farmers to finish cattle faster and cheaper than it has ever been possible before.

That was the simple message Dr Jim Gibbs, a senior lecturer in animal science at Lincoln University, gave farmers at a fodder beet field day in Middlemarch.

“The beef industry in New Zealand ought to be one of this country’s premier primary industries, but it’s not,” he told NZ Farmer later. “For 15 years it has just been treading water or probably going slightly backwards.” . . .

Kiwifruit orchard top returns, again :

For the second time in two seasons, Owen St George’s kiwifruit orchard has posted a top orchard gate return (OGR) for its green variety with post-harvest company DMS.

This year, despite producing less fruit than the previous season, the Te Puna orchard saw an increased OGR of $99,000 based on 11,760 trays per hectare, thanks to an outstanding $3.37 per tray Kiwistart payout. Last year’s 15,109 trays per hectare produced an OGR of $90,000, after having been stored throughout the season.

Owen says the two top consecutive results – albeit on opposite sides of the scale – are all about income consistency. . .

Hokonui rural radio hits South Taranaki airwaves – Sue O’Dowd:

South and Central Taranaki radio listeners can now tune in to a dedicated rural radio station.

They’ve been able to listen to Hokonui Radio on 88.2FM or 1557AM since Tuesday.

Announcer Bryan Vickery has moved from Coast to host the new Hokonui breakfast show from 6am to 9am weekdays.

“It’s a privilege to be the first presenter to front the Hokonui breakfast show,” Vickery said. “I’m excited because its local radio at its very best.” . . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2014

Drought great time to show some compassion – James Houghton:

Another week and no drought declaration yet it is the second driest year on record in Waikato, and my has it revealed some peoples true colours! Default settings with graziers contracts are being ignored, and cooperatives are pretending there is no drought.

Farmers and graziers need to be working together through times like this. Not allowing for the affects of the drought to be considered and holding graziers to their contracts, can see them loosing money on a daily basis, trying to feed your stock. To expect a grazier to lose money to look after your stock shows no sense of community, which is what gets us through these adverse weather conditions, and could ostracise you in the long run. People do not forget unkindness. It goes both ways – if you are not showing flexibility on your grazing contracts, it could have a detrimental affect for you next time there is a drought, graziers could start charging you 10 to 50 percent more next time round.  It pays to compare that to the money you are saving in the short term, and whether it is really worth it. . .

Changing beef outlook – Allan Barber:

There have been some interesting beef market developments in recent days.

 Of immediate interest is the news of a forecast excess of US exports over production in the second half of the year as against a relatively small increase in production, reported in the USDA livestock supply and demand report which was released yesterday.

 This leads to a prediction of firmer prices for lean beef, although this will coincide with the seasonal downturn in New Zealand production. Australia is expected to be in a good position to take advantage of this situation.

 The other item of interest is the bi-lateral trade agreement between Japan and Australia which will reduce the tariff on frozen beef from 38.5% to 19.5% over 18 years and on fresh beef to 23.5% over 15 years. . .

Dairy Pawn – Milk Maid Marian:

These days, I feel a little like a chess piece; more pawn than queen.

The Australian federal government has rushed into a free trade agreement with Japan that does next-to-nothing to help Aussie dairy break through tariff barriers, even though Japan is hardly known for a growing dairy industry of its own that deserves protection. I don’t know why we were overlooked but a Sydney Morning Herald story quotes Warren Truss as citing “compromises”.

It’s been an interesting few days for dairy. Coincidentally, the ACCC forced supermarket superpower, Coles, to confess that it was lying when it claimed the $1 milk had not hurt dairy farmers. . .

Farmers back major Local Government NZ funding review:

Federated Farmers is fully behind a fundamental review by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) into the way local government and local roads are funded.

“LGNZ deserves praise for tackling a ticking time bomb made up of demographics and an ever narrowing funding base for council services and our local roads,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government spokesperson.

“This affects everyone but it is especially pronounced in our rural districts.

“Federated Farmers is very keen to participate in this review because for years, we have lobbied for alternative funding options over the antiquated narrow property value basis, we use for rating.

“LGNZ’s review is the biggest advance since the 2007 Local Government Rates Inquiry, which emerged from public unease over the rates burden. . .

Meat and fibre’s going green – Jeanette Maxwell :

I have been told by a staff member that a major retirement village operator has specified only nylon carpet for its villages. I don’t want to reveal the name just yet as we will be contacting them, let alone the Campaign for Wool, but it dumbfounds me. 

If it is what I suspect, a spurious concern over linting, then that’s a specification issue.  It seems very strange to deny people the choice of healthy natural fibres especially in a retirement village because natural wool is good for you.

A big benefit of wool is outstanding flame resistance.  Having a high moisture and protein content it tends to extinguish flames and does not melt or drip either like synthetics.  Wool also stabilises relative humidity by absorbing or releasing moisture during periods of high or low atmospheric humidity. That’s a benefit from evolution.

If wool is maintained then it will absorb and neutralise airborne particles and fumes such as formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides.  Wool is also resistant to static build up and being naturally curly, bounces back into shape after being crushed.   . . .

Awards spur on young dairy trainee  – Gerald Piddock:

Entering the Dairy Industry Awards has helped motivate Nathan Hubbard to focus on how he can improve his performance and progress his dairying career.

The 26-year-old, who was recently named Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year for 2014 said he entered the competition to show future employers his dedication to the industry.

“I want to challenge my knowledge against others at the same level that are motivated and thriving to succeed like I am.”

It was the second time he had entered the awards. After not making the top six on the first occasion, Hubbard said he was determined to do better this year. . .

‘Expensive brand beats expensive land’ – Tim Cronsahw:

Dairy farmers need to demand that dairy giant Fonterra invests heavily in brand development if increasing costs are to be offset by high-priced milk products, says a food marketing expert.

Global food and drink industry international speaker Professor David Hughes said New Zealand’s dairy companies had to spend more on developing patented clever dairy brands as domestic milk growth could not continue at its same rate forever.

“If you want to see Fonterra and smaller companies have higher valued products, they have to spend more on branding and research and development, and to do that has to be through brave farmer leadership saying hold on to more [revenue] and invest it on our behalf for our longer term, and don’t send it back to the farm and there would lots of farmers who don’t agree with that,” said Hughes who spoke at the Zoetis Dairy Summit in Christchurch this week. . .

Millar, Clark lead charge for dog trialling glory – Tim Cronshaw:

Every dog has its day, but only a select few will make the final cut at the Tux New Zealand and South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championship trials at Waihi Station near Geraldine next month.

As many as 300 competitors and their canine partners will line up for each of the four main national events in the main feature of the dog trialling calendar. The heading events are the long head and short head and yard and the huntaway events are the zigzag hunt and the straight hunt.

In good form is Stu Millar from Peak Hill Station who, with dog Rose, is the defending champion of the national short head and yard event in Taupo last year.

Canterbury Sheep Dog Trial Association promotions officer Sally Mallinson said the club trials had yet to be completed, but several Canterbury competitors and their dogs were standing out as possible contenders at the South Island and national events. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 6, 2014

Dam agreement averts legal action – Marie Taylor:

Ngati Kahungunu’s threats of legal action to stall Hawke’s Bay’s $265 million Ruataniwha dam and irrigation scheme have been put aside.

A new agreement has been reached between Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated (NKII), Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and its investment company Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC), Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea.

Ngati Kahungunu held a meeting last week with marae, whanau and hapu to discuss the details of the proposed amendments. 

Chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said NKII had always preferred negotiation to litigation.

Council chairman Fenton Wilson and HBRIC chairman Andy Pearce said the recent developments kept lines of communication open between the parties. . .

NZ, Welsh shearers to compete – Sally Rae:

There will be an international flavour at this week’s Otago shearing and New Zealand wool-handling championships in Balclutha.

The event will host the second test in the four-test Elders Primary Wool series between New Zealand and Wales.

Rowland Smith (Hastings) and Tony Coster (Rakaia) will face Welshmen Gareth Daniel and Richard Jones, intent on avenging a 3-1 defeat in Wales last year. . .

Inheriting the farm no cheap transaction – Dr Ann Pomeroy:

An astonishing number of people think that sheep farmers are handed their properties on a plate, writes Ann Pomeroy.

They think that because the farm has been in the family for two or three generations, the farmer has inherited the property and hasn’t had to pay for it.

WRONG. Intergenerational transfers cost money. Lots of it – even when payment isn’t in one lump sum. For a son or daughter, nephew or niece to buy stock and equipment and add their name to the property title, acquire the farm outright or join the family partnership or trust, money changes hands.

This money goes into buying a retirement home for the retiring parents as well as funding parents’ retirement living expenses. The purchase price may also be funding the grandparents’ living expenses. . .

 

Bathurst Resources buys nursery for revegetation – Simon Hartley:

West Coast coal mine developer Bathurst Resources has bought a 51ha cranberry farm in the Buller district as a propagation nursery for replacement native trees and plants.

The listed Australian company has just been granted Overseas Investment Office permission for the purchase, the cost of which was undisclosed.

Following two years of court battles over the consents it was issued by the two West Councils, which delayed the mining start-up, Bathurst is expected to begin operations this month. . .

A better snake trap for the Drover’s Wife – Milk Maid Marian:

The twist of a tail was all it took to drive me and the kids indoors. Normally, prematurely extracting them from the sandpit is a big job but even an ebullient two-year-old can sense the importance of a “Don’t panic but…” message from his mum.

A snake (most likely a copper-head or tiger) had appeared at the bottom of Alex’s favourite climbing tree, just inches from the verandah and the children and I sat frozen in silence, listening to it swish through the dry leaves. And I am not Henry Lawson’s gutsy Drover’s Wife, for I am yellow to the core.

The drover’s wife makes the children stand together near the dog-house while she watches for the snake. She gets two small dishes of milk and sets them down near the wall to tempt it to come out; but an hour goes by and it does not show itself.

Instead, I send the kids scurrying indoors while I deploy my secret weapon: the Snake Trap. Purchased a couple of summers ago after another close encounter of the scaly kind, the trap has been waiting for just this moment. . .

Mildura Living: Angus Whyte: Outback NSW Station Life –  Jodie Morgan:

Yes, yes I know, Wentworth NSW is not Mildura so not technically Mildura Living….. but we consider it a part of our wonderful region as it is very close to Mildura.

Angus has been chatting  with me on  twitter and he finds this a great way to communicate with people, friends and family. We were intrigued to find out more about his life as a Station owner. (Say hello to Angus on Twitter)

He and his family lives on Wyndham Station, a 12500 ha property 85kms out from Wentworth in NSW.   Here Angus shares with us what he loves about being a farmer and also what he loves to do when he gets a chance to come into Mildura.  . .

 


Rural round-up

January 28, 2014

Synlait hikes annual profit forecast on value-add earnings growth, unsure on Chinese sales target – Paul McBeth:

Jan. 28 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy Food as a cornerstone shareholder, will beat its annual profit forecast by as much as 77 percent on earnings growth, though might miss its sales target for infant formula into China due to stricter regulations.

The Rangiora-based company anticipates net profit of between $30 million and $35 million in the year ending July 31, up from the $19.67 million forecast in the company’s prospectus when it listed in July, it said in a statement.

Synlait lifted its forecast milk payout to between $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and $8.40/kgMS from $8/kgMS previously as global dairy prices climbed, but is reaping earnings growth from its value-add products and a favourable product mix, chairman Graeme Milne said. . .

Sheep farming area now a dairy melting pot – Mike Crean:

The old mail box has the name Inniskillen stencilled on the front. Beside it are nine small, modern mail boxes. To Dick Davison, they illustrate the greatest social change in the history of North Canterbury’s Amuri Basin.

It is the change from an aristocracy of established sheep farming families to a multi-cultural society of dairy farmers, managers, labourers and sharemilkers. The change is greater even than the transformation caused by breaking up the large estates a century ago, Davison says.

He and wife Liz bought his family’s farm, Blakiston, across the road from Inniskillen, in 1976. Recently they sold most of it, retaining an elevated block where they have built their dream house. . .

Honey price tipped to rise:

Beekeepers are struggling through one of their most challenging seasons, with cool temperatures and wind significantly slowing honey production.

National Bee Keepers Association president Ricki Leahy said the weather so far this summer had been exactly what the bees did not thrive in.

“We have hives down the West Coast and it has certainly been a miserable summer down there, really,” Mr Leahy said.

“The main problem we have with unsettled weather is the bees need to build up a momentum to get a good honey flow going.

“You also need that constant heat to get the nectar in the flowers … so everything depends on a nice, long stretch of fine weather.” . . .

Little risk in biocontrol insects:

An international study into the use of introduced insects to control weeds has found little evidence of them going wrong.

Dr Max Suckling of Plant & Food Research said there had been concerns about introducing non-native insects as weed biocontrols because of the risk of them attacking non-targetted plants.

But Dr Suckling said their worldwide survey of more than 500 insect biocontrol cases, dating back more than 150 years, had found few examples of them causing serious damage to other plants. . .

China pays up big for Australian cattle – Warwick Long:

Australian dairy and even beef farmers are making the most of Chinese demand for live cattle.

China’s dairy industry killed two million cows last year as smaller subsistence farmers left in droves on the back of high meat prices.

The price of an Australian six-month-old dairy heifer for live export has risen by over $400 in just a couple of months.

Independent livestock agent Darren Askew says farmers are now earning over $1,350 per animal.

The trade of dairy cattle to China is a volatile market, which has been this high before and then crashed. . .

What inspires a young man to become a dairy farmer – Milk Maid Marian:

We received an unusual phone call the other week. A vet student with no family connections to dairy, Andrew Dallimore rang out of the blue saying he was keen to become a dairy farmer and wondered if he could ask us a few questions.

Well, what a series of questions! What were the challenges we faced becoming dairy farmers, why did we choose it, the ups and downs, where we look for knowledge and what are the pros and cons of raising children on a farm? At least, these are the ones I remember. And he took notes.

It felt like being at confessional, somehow. You have to be totally honest with someone so earnestly and diligently researching his future. Wayne and I were both immensely impressed, then gobsmacked when he offered to do a few hours work on the farm with the payment of just our thoughts and a banana! . . .


Rural round-up

January 27, 2014

Three horses expected to sell for $½m at Karaka:

About 14,00 horses are for sale there this week.

Three horses are tipped to pass the $500,000 mark on Monday at the annual Karaka yearling sales.

About 14,00 horses are for sale there this week.

New Zealand Bloodstock managing director Andrew Seabrook says the price for each animal is expected to average about 70,000 , but three yearlings are likely to sell on Monday afternoon for at least $500,000. . . .

Niche dog food that’s delivered – Sally Rae:

Mighty Mix dog food has come a long way from being whipped up in a high-country kitchen.

A woman’s concern for the health of her working dogs during extreme weather conditions more than 20 years ago led to the development of a business which now sells products throughout New Zealand.

In June last year, Mighty Mix’s head office opened in Oamaru, the home of newly-appointed general manager John Walker, who has spent 35 years in the food manufacturing industry, most recently as site manager for Rainbow Confectionery. . .

It’s late – Milk Maid Marian:

The story of Cliffy Young has just finished on the tele but Wayne is still slogging through his own ultra-marathon at the dairy. It’s 10pm and it’s been a tough day that started at 5am.

As I was rattling the kids around the house in readiness for Nippers this morning, Wayne was having some youngster trouble of his own. A freshly-calved heifer simply sat down on the milking platform behind her neighbour. Now, if you’ve worked in or watched a herringbone dairy in action, you’ll say that doesn’t happen.

It did.

The cows are lined up at right angles to the pit we stand in to position the cups, with their buttocks against a “bum rail” that’s designed to guide them into position for milking and prevent a cow from falling onto a milk maid.

It didn’t. . . .

Bark on vines being trialled:

A DRIVE towards more sustainability has led to a new initiative at Eastland Port’s debarker and Gisborne growers could benefit.

The debarker is a machine which removes the bark from logs at Eastland Port’s log yard on Kaiti Beach Road and has just had a new addition to further break down the bark.

Eastland Debarking operations manager Steve O’Dwyer says there it has been a limited market for the large bark pieces, a by-product of the debarker.

“I thought there would be a market for these fines (smaller pieces of bark that are usually 20mm and under),” says Mr O’Dwyer.

So he set about to do some trials and Gisborne grape grower John Rafferty agreed to test the bark fines on 1.7 hectares of new plants. . .

MicroFarm concept a ‘sandpit’ for cropping:

“WHAT WE have here is like a big sandpit – a place where people can get together to play to try and achieve great outcomes.”

That’s how LandWise’s Dan Bloomer describes the MicroFarm, a 4ha property on the Heretaunga Plains, near Hastings.

“We’ve got paddocks that are big enough to have real toys in so we are doing work on a farm-sized scale. A high percentage of paddocks are headlands but between these we have paddocks just like a real farm,” he told an open day in December. . .

Expression of genetic growth potential underpinned by feed allowance:

Recent research by a group of scientists, Dr Long Cheng , Mr Chris Logan , Professor  Grant Edwards and Dr Huitong Zhou from the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Lincoln University, is helping to unravel a long-standing puzzle in the farming world.

“Traditional wisdom among farmers is that sheep with the genetic potential to grow faster will be more efficient at converting their feed into weight gain (known as higher feed conversion efficiency) than sheep without this genetic potential,” said Dr Cheng, the lead researcher.

“Work in this field has, however, been restricted by the inability to make accurate measurements of the intake of individual animals.” 

Dr Cheng discovered to his surprise, after analysing the results of measurements taken during the trial, that the expectation that sheep with the potential to grow faster would be more efficient was only true when the sheep were well feed (170 % of maintenance metabolisable energy requirement, in this case). . .


Rural round-up

December 3, 2013

Environmental analysis role exciting  – Sally Rae:

Mark Crawford is excited about his new role as a Ravensdown environmental consultant.

The fertiliser company has launched an environmental analysis and planning service, in the wake of increasing demands on farmers to meet environmental standards and regional regulatory requirements.

The adoption of stricter nutrient management regulations was being led by the Horizons Regional Council in the lower North Island, with Otago and Canterbury also nearing completion of recent plan changes. . .

Top of the south for Farmax consultancy – Sally Rae:

Simon Glennie reckons he does his farming vicariously through his clients.

Mr Glennie, a consultant at Dunedin-based AbacusBio, has been named South Island Farmax consultant of the year.

The inaugural awards honoured the top North and South Island consultants who used the farm support software. . .

Dairying women learn to ‘dig deep’ through good and bad at annual conference:

Hundreds of women who work in the dairy industry will be tackling some of the big issues that affect today’s farmers including how to reach and sustain a level of performance that matches medal winning athletics and world champion sports teams when they get together at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in March 2014.

The line-up of high calibre keynote speakers includes Hamilton sports psychologist David Galbraith who has worked with the Chiefs rugby team, Magic netball team and Olympic silver medal winner Sarah Walker.

The two-day conference at Hamilton’s Claudelands Event Centre, starting on 19 March 2014, is themed ‘Keeping your finger on the pulse’. . .

Otago link highlighted in Fonterra book – Sally Rae:

Think Park Beede and basketball immediately springs to mind.

Dr Beede was heavily involved with the sport in Otago and coached the Otago Nuggets.

What is not so well known is that he was tasked with coming up with a name for the new dairy company that was to become Fonterra.

The story of the creation of the name – and the Otago connection – is highlighted in the new book Till the Cows Came Home by Wellington journalist and former Southland Times editor Clive Lind. . .

Farmers urged to plan ahead to prevent game bird crop damage

With the start of summer, farmers are starting to see large groups of paradise shelducks moving into their newly-planted crops or onto their irrigation lakes.

Fish & Game Northland says if farmers plan ahead, they can reduce the damage done by these flocks of ‘parries.’

“We encourage farmers to place bird-scaring equipment out before their grasses or crops emerge,” Fish & Game officer Nathan Burkepile says.

“And farmers with paradise shelduck problems on irrigation lakes should start scaring the birds off these lakes before the birds start moulting in January.” . . .

At least one dairy farmer won’t mind the summer heat – Milk Maid Marian:

Wayne has a reputation for getting stuck and he’s outdone himself this year by bogging a quad bike on the first day of summer. Worse, he left his helmet at the scene of the crime and by the time the kids and I came to the rescue, his gear had been given a beating by the local hoons.

Cows may be vegetarians but don’t for a minute think that this in itself bestows innocence. They are merciless with unattended vehicles. This time the helmet, fuel breather line and rubber boot for the brake assembly were squelched deep into the quagmire but I’ve seen much worse. . . .


Rural round-up

August 3, 2013

Report’s honesty on Chinese meat delays will rebuild trust:

“Refreshingly honest” is how Federated Farmers is describing the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) report into the delays, which affected New Zealand meat exports to China.

“Having read the MPI report and chronology involved, this is a refreshingly honest and critical self-examination of what went wrong in China,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As the report comes out of the MPI, its honesty will help to rebuild trust. The recommendations are sensible in a market where we have seen phenomenal growth since 2008 when the Free Trade Agreement was signed.

“This rapid growth is no excuse so the report highlights that resources need to match growth. As an exporting country we must listen to our customers and this report tells us that this did not happen. . .

New anti-rustling online map gets the farmer tick:

Federated Farmers is applauding Stop Stock Theft, New Zealand’s first ever online map designed to report and track suspected stock theft. This joint initiative between Crimestoppers NZ, NZX-Agri and the Police will be welcomed by all farmers.

“While shoplifting costs New Zealand some $730 million each year, stock theft is reportedly costing the country a further $120 million,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“These are massive sums for red meat farmers who are struggling against a backdrop of the New Zealand dollar and difficult market conditions. . .

Dairy intensification not all bad – vet leader :

WIDESPREAD CONCERN about the welfare of fully housed cows in New Zealand is not well-founded, says the chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Dr John Hellstrom. If such systems are good, animal health should improve, he says.

In a paper delivered at the recent NZVA annual conference in Palmerston North, Hellstrom argues that many large-herd cows kept outside all their lives suffer poor welfare at certain times of the year. 

For example, sacrifice paddocks don’t provide good animal welfare especially when calving cows are not drafted out onto dry calving places. Hellstrom notes the current DairyNZ advice on sacrifice paddocks makes no reference to animal welfare. . .

Primary jobs for Maori:

Some primary industries are hiring staff from overseas, whereas there are many young Maori ready to enter the workforce, says chairman of the Export Industry Skills Analysis Advisory Group, Peter Douglas.

They need to be found and assisted through their training, says Douglas.

The Export Industry Skills Analysis Advisory Group met for the first time recently as part of Maori Economic Development Action Plan. The plan was announced by Minister for Economic Development Stephen Joyce and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples in November 2012. . . .

A very unpopular dairy blog post – Milk Maid Marian:

I suspect I am about to make a lot of enemies because there is an elephant in the room and few are in a position to point it out.

Here are the facts:

  • the last season has been dreadful
  • dairy farmers have free access to lots of information about we can keep cows healthy during fodder shortages
  • many dairy farmers who couldn’t afford skyrocketing feed costs have sold a lot of cows at ridiculously low prices so they can feed the remainder of their cows properly
  • farmers have gone broke but kept their cows healthy
  • cows do not starve overnight and watching them weaken over weeks or months would be more than I could bear yet reports of them dying in their hundreds have hit the national news

I was stunned. Perhaps people who would normally sell their cows off long, long before they reached the point of starvation couldn’t for some reason? Maybe they were hoping for a miracle? Maybe they were in denial? . .

Breakthrough on noxious alga :

New Zealand scientists have made a breakthrough in the battle against the noxious pest sometimes known as “rock snot”.

In a world first, researchers at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson have bred the invasive alga, Didymo, in the laboratory.

The scientist say it took four years of research and will allow them to more accurately identify which conditions promote and which deter blooms of Didymo. . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2013

Korean visit to address fears about trade direction – Marie

Prime Minister John Key heads for South Korea on Thursday for an official visit warning that New Zealand’s fifth biggest trading partner will slip down the rankings without a free trade agreement.

War commemorations will be a central feature of the visit, with 30 New Zealand veterans joining Key’s entourage to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. 

Key said outside those events, the priority was to make progress on reaching an FTA. . .

Farmer Confidence Rebounds, New Survey Finds:

Federated Farmers’ New-Season Farm Confidence Survey, undertaken at the start of the 2013/14 season, has shown a major turnaround in farmer confidence.  This result is in keeping with other recent farm and business confidence surveys.

“Farmers are showing a lot more optimism in both the wider economy and individual farm prospects,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“You could say farmers are in recovery mode but this bounce back comes off a low base.  There is still a large gap in the sentiment of dairy farmers when compared to the other farming sectors.

“Six months ago, farmers were fairly negative about the wider economy and were very pessimistic about their own profitability.   This was particularly the case for sheep and beef farmers. In contrast, dairy farmers were feeling more optimistic than they had been at this point last year [July 2012], thanks mainly to better dairy commodity prices and growing conditions. . .

Alliance lamb in Oliver’s Russian eatery – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group lamb from New Zealand will be on the menu at the new Jamie Oliver restaurant due to open in Russian city St Petersburg.

The contract was a good boost to the business Alliance had built with Russian food service companies and restaurants over the past 12 years, marketing general manager Murray Brown said.

It highlighted the growing status of the group’s Pure South brand as a leading red-meat export, he said. . .

Eliminating wool’s dirty secret:

With New Zealand’s main-shear approaching, Federated Farmers and the NZ Shearing Contractors Association are backing moves to cut the woolshed contamination of wool. If successful, it could boost farmgate returns by a couple of million dollars each year.

“When you are dealing with a $700 million export, cutting wool contamination translates into a big opportunity for fibre farmers,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“As a farmer, the easiest way for us to increase our returns is to focus on what we can control. Woolshed contamination is a perfect example of this. . .

Head in a bucket – he does that every morning – Mad Bush Farm:

 He’s old, muddy, grumpy and he wasn’t making it any secret he wasn’t going to be sharing his breakfast with Ranger and the other little horses. As for me well the black eye has at last waned to a faded reminder of Muphy’s visit last week to the farm. The cows and naughty little Tempest, are finding out the hard way that an electrified wire is now on the road fence. We’ve had a few fine days, it’s still a bog hole here. My complaints are going unheeded by Mr Winter. He won’t be leaving until the end of August – darn. I’m going back to the mud now to complain some more or mayube I’ll just go and have a coffee instead

Talking of horses I found this beautiful tribute to the Arabian horse done with clips from the Black Stallion and other films. . .

Jousting for poll position – Milk Maid Marian:

Scuffles broke out right across the paddock as the weak winter sun lit the stage for a bovine pugilism festival. The cows were feeling magnificent and, unable to contain their energy, were ready to take on all comers.

The kids and I love watching the cows “do butter-heads” and the cows seem to love it, too. For every pair or trio engaged in warfare, there will be a group of curious onlookers and one scuffle seems to inspire more outbreaks.

Does butter-heads have a serious purpose though? Yes, it does. The herd has a very structured pecking order. Cows come into the dairy in roughly the same order every milking and the smallest and most timid are inevitably last. Mess them up by splitting the herd into seemingly random groups for a large-scale vet procedure like preg testing and you can expect trouble. . .


Rural round-up

June 14, 2013

The primary industry powerhouse:

Governments have tried over the years to steer attention away from New Zealand’s primary industries as being the powerhouse of the economy.

As examples, tourism has been accepted as a large earner of foreign exchange, and with a prime minister serving as tourism minister, the spending ploughed into promoting New Zealand as a destination has increased. Sir Peter Jackson and the Weta Workshops have for some time now been used as illustrations of what clever New Zealanders can achieve. And the phrase ”knowledge economy” has been bandied around for a generation as ministers of the Crown promote learning and technology as a way of breaking down the barriers of distance for New Zealand. . .

Cracker innovation entries at Fieldays:

Judges were overwhelmed by the high standard of entries in the Fieldays Innovation Competition at Fieldays yesterday.

 Darren Hopper, spokesperson for Vodafone, the major partner of the Fieldays Innovation Centre , says the competition is crucial to growing good ideas and gaining efficiency. New Zealand’s agricultural sector is the envy of the world and synonymous with Kiwi ingenuity, he says.

The Fieldays International Innovation Award recognises the best agri-business innovations being launched on the world stage. The award was presented at last night’s Fieldays Opening Cocktail Function. . .

MPI called into UK disease outbreak simulation:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been called into a large scale United Kingdom animal disease outbreak exercise.

The UK authorities have asked MPI to advise on the availability of New Zealand vets, emergency managers and technicians to help manage the simulated outbreak.

The EXERCISE is testing the UK’s capacity to deal with a nationwide outbreak of classical swine fever. In the simulation, the outbreak has become so large that the supply of local animal health experts cannot cope alone and authorities have called on New Zealand for help.

New Zealand is party to a six-country (New Zealand, Australia, UK, Canada, Ireland and USA) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form an international animal health emergency reserve. In the event of a disease outbreak, vets and other animal health experts can be called in from participating countries. Under the MOU New Zealand vets helped out in the UK’s 2001 foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. . .

A purple blister on the weather map is coming to get us – Milk Maid Marian:

It’s not a good sign when the local weather forecaster gets a spot on ABC Radio’s National news. Our forecast is so shocking that, yes, it made headlines today.

A massive chunk of Victoria is about to go underwater and, with it, a massive chunk of our farm. We’ve had an inch of rain in the last two hours and the prediction is for between 51 and 102mm tomorrow, followed by another 20 or 30mm over another couple of days.

I’m thankful for the undulations at the southern end of the farm. The cows will at least be safe. . .

Informed, proactive decision making during drought will pay off:

Cutting cattle numbers by a total of 59 percent and sheep by 30 percent by March during this season’s big dry may seem brutal, but it was a proactive decision based on sound figures, which has given Paul Dearden confidence heading into winter and lambing.

The Waipukurau sheep and beef farmer says regularly monitoring the situation and making timely decisions based on accurate figures was crucial in trying to minimise the cost of the drought to his farming business.

“Like others in drought regions, our challenge was to identify when to de-stock and by how many in order to preserve the health of our animals and look after the pasture we did have. More recently, we needed to get the timing of our Urea application right and make the most of the good rainfall. . .

New Wines to Taste At Hot Red Hawke’s Bay:

New releases, new wine labels and award-winners will be on offer at this year’s Hot Red Hawke’s Bay, the region’s flagship wine event being held next week.

Over 200 wine media, trade representatives and connoisseurs have snapped up tickets to the two events being held on June 18 at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre and on June 19 at Te Papa in Wellington.

Now in its tenth year, Hot Red originally only offered red wines for tasting but given the region’s increasing dominance with award-winning white wines, for the second year there will be a strong showing of Chardonnays amongst the 150-plus wine line-up. . .


Rural round-up

April 23, 2013
Lies, damned lies and statistics or historical facts about sheepmeat – Allan Barber:

A brief comparison of sheepmeat and milk solids prices since 1991 throws up some interesting facts. These give the lie to the belief that the dairy industry is consistently more profitable than the sheep sector.

The statement that there are three kinds of lie – lies, damned lies and statistics – is often attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, 19th century British Prime Minister, but it was popularised by Mark Twain. Students of two of this country’s best known (and generally most profitable) agricultural commodities may find it hard to believe, but you can’t really argue with the facts.

In 1991 soon after I started my agricultural career in the stock and station industry before moving to the meat industry two years later, the price of lamb hit a low point of $14 a lamb; mutton was even worse, being down around $4 a ewe at the meat plant. In contrast the 1991 dairy payout was $3.40 per kilo of milk solids. . .

Committees starting point for law – Tim Fulton:

Environment Canterbury is assuring the public the plans it is generating in land and water committees won’t be obliterated by the Resource Management Act process. Tim Fulton examines what Hurunui-Waiau’s ground-breaking process means for other catchments.

Cantabrians have heard a lot about the exhaustive toil of their zone committees.

They have also had a sense that most of the recommendations will be merged into law.

The Hurunui-Waiau zone committee is the first to have its recommendations to a hearing panel measured against a Resource Management Act-based regional river plan. . .

My new job and youth employment – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve decide to trial a video blog, simply because I don’t seem to have much time to write a blog post any more.

So when I’m busy I’ll just talk about whats on my mind for 5 minutes and just post the video.

I’ll be honest and say I’m a little nervous about posting the video. I’ve followed people on blogs or read their books etc and formed an opinion about the person based on what they have written. . .

A cow portrait for the neighbours – Moon Over Martinborough:

When our neighbors John and Aussie Bronwyn announced that they were selling their property and moving away, CJ and I were mortified. More than anyone, those two have taught us how to live on 20 acres. How could they abandon us?

Aussie Bronwyn is our High Priestess of Chicken Wisdom. John lets CJ borrow and break his tractor on a regular basis. And every Tuesday we spend wild evenings with them – playing cards, accusing each other of cheating, and heading home to bed by 8:30pm. . .

The sun is up and so is the sparky (or the day began pear shaped) – Milk Maid Marian:

Dairy cows are rounded up before dawn but, today, they slept in. We had a bit of a disaster in the dairy last night that would have meant the girls missed breakfast. That certainly would not do, so while they waited for the sparky to weave his magic in the grain auger control box, this is how the cows enjoyed watching the sunrise. . .


Rural round-up

October 11, 2012

Strong tug at Canterbury teat – Tim Fulton:

By building a plant at Darfield Fonterra fired the “first shot” in competition on the West Coast, Westland Milk Products CEO Rod Quin says.

Steve Murphy, Fonterra’s general manager for milk supply, says his crew collects only a “tiny” amount of milk from the coast, from around Springs Junction. A fair number of coasters wouldn’t even call Springs Junction their patch, he says.

A Fonterra letter drop into Westland Milk country in mid 2011 generated “quite a bit of interest”, but nothing more has come of it apart from promises to keep in contact. . .

The perfect farmer’s body – Milk Maid Marian:

What does the perfect body look like? Not mine, that’s for sure! Yesterday, I was reminded just how bad my genes are for farming. Allergies run on both sides of my family and the worst irritant of all looks like this:

(Click link above for photo)

I’m told it’s called “fog” grass because the pollen is released in such huge quantities, it makes everything go misty. Dynamite! Yesterday, I had to wander through thigh-high forests of it to get the dam siphon running again. My scalp, eyes, nose, mouth and arms are all still desperately itchy 15 hours later.

The cows don’t like it either. Fog grass is covered in thick velvety “fur” that understandably is most unpalatable. . . .

How would you design a “future dairy farm? – Pasture to Profit:

Imagine what a “Future Dairy Farm” might look like.

How would you set up a “Future Dairy Farm”? What dairy farm system will be best? Dairy farms in the future must be profitable. Farm businesses must be resilient to increasing risk. Farmers will need to operate within stricter environmental rules. There will be environmental guidelines for farms to meet. Do we understand economic comparative advantage?  . . .

Synlait Milk Announces Milk Price for 2011/2012 Season

The average price paid by Synlait Milk for milk supplied in the 2011/2012 season is $6.22 per kg MS.

This is made up of an average base milk price of $6.14 per kg MS, autumn premiums of $0.01 per kg MS, colostrum and other special milk payments of $0.04 per kg MS, and winter milk premiums of $0.03 per kg MS.

Synlait Milk Chairman Graeme Milne said “This is a solid payout for our suppliers, and demonstrates our continued focus on ensuring we leave our farmers better off than their alternatives.” . . .

Primary industry merger welcomed:

DairyNZ says the merger of the agriculture and horticulture industry training organisations this month has real benefits for the dairy industry.

AgITO and Horticulture ITO have been merged to form the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO).

The new organisation will be officially launched tonight at a celebration event in Wellington attended by Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Steven Joyce as well as industry representatives. The new ITO, which will also be responsible for water and equine industry training and NZ Sports Turf industry training, will facilitate on-the-job training for 15,000 employees across the primary industries. . .


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