Rural round-up

May 30, 2018
Collective responsibility tough – ODT editorial:

The Government and farming leaders have made one of the hardest decisions imaginable in deciding to attempt the eradication of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand.

The decision has been made to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

Farming leaders have thrown their support behind the eradication attempt, but it is the actual farmers with the infected herds who will now be facing the reality of losing cows they may have bred into milk-producing animals. . . 

Mycolplasma bovis – focusing on the immediate – Keith Woodford:

[This is an open letter to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, sent on the evening of 29 May 2018, as part of an ongoing dialogue.]

Dear Damien

Mycoplasma bovis: focusing on the immediate

This is a further open letter. It is an open letter because it contains information that I believe both you and others need to hear.

First of all, I want to acknowledge phone and email interactions we have had in recent days. I note in particular that you emailed me at 3am this morning which surely tells its own story. Farmers too are emailing me at that time, indicative of the stress they are under.

Now that the eradication decision has been made, then I do not wish to debate that here. Instead I want to focus on maximising the chances that it will work and minimising the pain to the affected farmers.

On the Newshub AM show this morning I focused among other things on the need for MPI to ‘up its game’. Response Director Geoff Gwyn subsequently acknowledged that there may well be lessons to learn, but did not name any when asked by the presenter, and said that he thought that MPI had done many things well. . . 

Mental health fears for farmers over mass cow cull – Tim Brown:

The people at ground zero of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak are warning that the eradication bid could have disastrous knock-on effects.

Others in the small Southland town of Winton are backing the government cull of 150,000 cows.

Yesterday, the government announced it was committed to eradicating the illness with a ten year plan that would cost about $886 million.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease.

It was discovered in July last year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis rated ‘low risk’ by health officials – Gerard Hutching:

The possibility of humans contracting Mycoplasma bovis from eating meat or drinking milk from infected cattle has been dismissed by officials and food safety experts as a “low risk”.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the disease was not a food safety risk. Concerns have again been raised over the culling of 152,000 cattle and whether their meat or milk might threaten human health.

“There is no issue with eating beef or drinking milk from infected herds. This disease is in every other farming nation and people have been consuming products from cattle with Mycoplasma bovis for decades,” MPI said. . . 

Good on-farm management essential for eradication plan to succeed:

Good on-farm animal management will be essential if plans to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) are to succeed, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

“This will be essential to stop the infection spreading and to ensure M. bovis isn’t re-introduced into New Zealand,” NZVA President Dr. Peter Blaikie said.

The industry and government today announced a phased eradication plan to attempt to get rid of M. bovis. . . 

M, bovis: how did we get here?:

Everyone’s been playing catch-up since the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak – and everyone’s blamed each other.

On Monday, the government announced a 10-year plan to eradicate the disease, saying about 150,000 cows would have to be slaughtered.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease, at a cost of about $886 million to government and industry bodies.

The news is devastating for many farmers who have devoted their lives to the industry. Some fear their livelihoods will be destroyed.

But how did we get here? . . 

In a word from Sir Humphrey – courageous – Gravedodger:

During my life spent in primary production one of the most stressful segments arose around the determination to eradicate TB. Bovine Tuberculosis is one insidious little beastie with a remarkable ability to thwart detection.

Once every  year all bovine stock were mustered and put up a race where a MAF person would inject a small dose of reagent  in the soft skin  between the tail and the rump, three days later that crat would return and scan by feel for a lump at that injection site and if a reactor (a palpable lump) was discovered that beast would be slaughtered asap where TB would be confirmed  post mortem but alas sometimes the animal would be a “clear”.
One reactor and the whole heard would be placed on ‘movement control’ requiring any cattle for sale to carry a “white ear tag” and receive  a discounted price.

We farmed in an area of the Wairarapa where our eight neighbours all went on and off “movement control” over the twenty years yet surprisingly  we managed to remain “Clear” throughout the two decades we operated there.
It did not come easy, I wish to forget how many nights were spent sometimes more than five hours on an open quad bike seeking the dreaded Possum, an uninvited guest that could become infected with Bovine TB but before inevitable death could infect pasture from suppurating lesions, leaving infected grass to be ingested by a grazing beast and a “reactor”  created. . .

Olive Oil 
the New Zealand Way: –

David Walshaw 

“I have a lot invested in each drop of this gorgeous, golden liquid. There is the time and money, of course, but there is far more than that, too. It is the distillation of a dream and the physical and emotional effort required to realise that dream. The flavours and the aromas of the oil are like a story — the story of the tree’s experience of a year, itself a chapter in the life of the tree, and the tree’s life a volume in the ages long story of the cultivation of the olive. My own story is in there, too, intertwined with the gnarled wood of the olive tree.” 

When, after a successful career in banking and finance, David Walshaw decided it was time for a change, he settled on growing olives for oil as his new direction. Neither he nor his wife Helen had any previous experience, but by doing the research, by seeking the advice of other growers, by putting in the work, by trial and not a few errors, they made a go of it. . . 

The build of Synlait’s liquid packaging facility is on track:

Synlait Milk is pleased with the progress made on the building of its advanced liquid dairy packaging facility by Tetra Pak.

The two companies have worked together for over ten years, beginning with the building of Synlait’s anhydrous milkfat (AMF) plant in 2007.

The new facility will produce fresh milk and cream for Foodstuffs South Island’s private label brands from early 2019, and will be a platform for Synlait to pursue a range of dairy-based products for export markets. . . 

Milk NZ Holding surprised by Fonterra’s $7 payout for 2019 given outlook for global demand Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Milk New Zealand Holding, which owns and manages dairy operations controlled by Shanghai Pengxin, says it didn’t expect such a bullish forecast from Fonterra Cooperative Group for its 2019 milk payout.

Last week Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for 2019 of $7 per kilogram of milk solids from the $6.75 /kgMS projected for the current season, while cutting its projected dividends for 2018, saying rising global dairy prices were squeezing margins. . .

Federated Farmers appoints Terry Copeland as its new CEO:

The man who helped transform NZ Young Farmers has been appointed to lead the country’s most influential rural lobby group.

Terry Copeland, 50, has been named the next chief executive of Federated Farmers. He replaces Graham Smith.

Mr Copeland has been the chief executive of NZ Young Farmers since 2013 and is looking forward to a new challenge. . . 

Butchers ‘living in fear’ as vegan attacks on the rise, says Countryside Alliance – Helena Horton:

Attacks on small businesses by vegan activists are on the rise, according to the Countryside Alliance.

Death threats, stoked by social media and encouraged by international groups of activists, have caused butchers and farmers to “live in fear.”

Marlow Butchers, in, Ashford, Kent, was targeted earlier this month by activists who daubed red paint on the doors and windows of the shop . .

Organic vs conventional food fight: Focus on pesticides distracts from real environmental problems – Marc Brazeau :

A quick note in my news feed highlighted a new data set from the World Bank that shows that while the US has one of the most productive agriculture sectors in the world, it also has some of the lowest rates of pesticide and fertilizer use. Good news. The author’s title, however, stuck me as unfortunate: World’s Model for Sustainability in Food Production. His write up was about pesticide and fertilizer use, and while high yields, with low pesticide and fertilizer rates are very commendable (and surprising to many), pesticide and fertilizer use is hardly the last word in sustainability in agriculture. And among the biggest impacts of agriculture: land use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution; pesticides hardly rate. And yet…

One of the things that has really begun to stand out in the debate between advocates of technologically progressive agriculture and the critics of technological agriculture is the persistence of the idea that the use of pesticides is still a major problem, if not the central environmental impact of agriculture, that needs to be addressed. This is unfortunate. It’s just not accurate. It’s a cul-de-sac in the discussion about how to improve the environmental footprint of agriculture. It’s a distraction from the addressing the major environmental impacts. . .


Rural round-up

October 15, 2015

Farmer saved seed to be retained:

The recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks have created disappointing doomsayer discourse.

Some misinformed commentators have a view that farmers will be stopped from saving some seed from their crops.

NZ Plant Breeding and Research Association (PBRA) President Tom Bruynel says there is no intent at all by the seed industry to get rid of farmer saved seed.

He says the Association and the Arable Industry Group of Federated Farmers have been jointly saying that the right to save seed needs to be part of any updated plants legislation and there is agreement in principle that there be a fair and simple system of royalty collection for seed that has been kept back for sowing. . . .

Judicial review sought of Lochinver decision:

Pure 100 Farm Limited (Pure 100), a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin, is seeking a judicial review of the Government’s decision to decline its application to purchase Lochinver Station.

Announcing the decision, Terry Lee, Director of Milk New Zealand (a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin) said the aim of the review is to obtain clarity on the ‘counterfactual’ to be used when assessing sales of non-urban land of greater than 5 hectares to overseas investors.

“To assess the benefits of an investment in such land, the regulator assesses the application against 21 factors which are laid out in the Overseas Investment Act and the Overseas Investment Regulations. These benefits are assessed relative to what would have occurred if this particular investment was not to occur i.e. ‘the counterfactual’. . . 

Ploughing the perfect well-turned furrow – Kate Taylor:

The drawcard of ploughing competitions for Tirau farmer Angela Taylor are the challenge and the camaraderie.

“There’s a lot of technique to it and you need a lot of concentration,” she says.

“There’s the satisfaction of achieving and improving, and the pride when you look at the straight furrows afterwards.” . . .

Innovation key to food security – Daniel Kruithoff:

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has put innovation at the heart of the government’s efforts to improve the country’s global competitiveness.

The government’s renewed focus on the pivotal role innovation plays in helping us overcome complex challenges is welcome.

And I can think of no more complex challenge than sustainably producing enough food to meet rapidly rising global demand.

It is hard to not be alarmed by the looming collision of a rapidly growing population and a changing, more volatile climate. . . 

Organic GMOs Could Be The Future of Food — If We Let Them – Ferris Jabr:

Two years ago, I traveled to Woodland, California, to meet scientists who were developing tastier and more nutritious fruits and vegetables. On the way to the research center, my taxi driver asked what had brought me to town. “Well,” I started, “I’m a journalist and I’m here to visit Monsanto.” “Monsanto? They do all that unnatural GMO stuff, right?” “They do make a lot of GMOs,” I replied, “but the scientists I’m visiting do not use genetic engineering.” Instead, they perform marker-assisted breeding. They chip off tiny bits of seeds and young plants and analyze their genes in search of desirable traits. Then they use that information to decide which seeds to plant and, later, cross-pollinate and which ones to reject, speeding up the traditional plant breeding process. “And that’s not GMO?” my driver asked. “Since they are just reading the DNA, not changing it, it’s technically not a form of genetic engineering,” I answered.

I was about to go on, but I caught myself. In part because I worried that I was on the verge of subjecting another human to an unexpected seminar on plant genetics. But, more fundamentally, because I realized that what I had just said was wrong. Of course the breeders at Monsanto were changing the plants’ DNA. That is what breeders everywhere have done for centuries, regardless of their tools. That is what the pioneers of agriculture started doing at least 10,000 years ago. That is what sex itself does: it shakes up DNA. In that moment, I realized just how meaningless the term GMO is, and how obfuscating it is, too. . . 


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