Rural round-up

February 23, 2018

Southland eyes oats instead of dairy – Baz Macdonald:

Southland is looking into an alternative to dairy farming that taps into surging Asian demand, but uses less capital and water and produces less nitrates and greenhouse emissions. Baz Macdonald reports.

Agriculture represented 4% of NZ’s real GDP in the 2016 financial year, yet an OECD report released last year showed the sector produced half of our countries greenhouse emissions – making NZ the second highest creator of emissions per unit of GDP in the world. The recommendation from the OECD was that we develop “alternative measures to counter the pressures of farming”. . . 

Gita: Motueka orchards hit hard – Alexa Cook:

Orchards in the Motueka area have been hit hard by flooding from Cyclone Gita, prompting fears fruit will not make it to market.

The Nelson region grows a quarter of the country’s apples, and in the past week has started harvesting this year’s crop.

Apple and Pears Incorporated chief executive Alan Pollard said the flooding came at a bad time and was a big set back. . . 

Cyclone devastates ‘up to 50 percent’ maize crops – Alexa Cook:

The pressure is on for Taranaki farmers to harvest maize crops that have been flattened by Cyclone Gita, before the crop starts to die and rot.

The cyclone hit the region on Tuesday with wind gusts of up to 140km/h.

Southern and coastal Taranaki farmers have struggled with drought this summer, but conditions were just right for growing maize – and a bumper crop was expected.

However, Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntyre said the cyclone might have put an end to that. . . 

NZ’s largest pine-to-native forest regeneration project reaches major milestone:

The last pine trees have been felled in a major Hawke’s Bay conservation project that aims to convert a 4,000-hectare pine plantation back to regenerating native forest.

Over 3,500 hectares of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest have now been logged since 2006 and are now in the process of being re-converted back to native forest by land owner Simon Hall, Chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawkes Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest. . . 

Rural women need access to midwifery care:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned that Wanaka is soon to lose one of the community’s two midwives.

“Midwives practicing in rural communities have long battled the problems of geographical isolation in areas where the population continues to grow,” says Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Resourcing has been lacking for so long that rural families are suffering – it is absolutely unacceptable that expectant mothers and their families have been placed in the firing line. . . 

New Zealanders warned of stink bug risk to their own households:

Warnings are going out about the devastating impact the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug would have on New Zealand households and urban communities as the potential risk of an incursion escalates.

New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on high alert because the Stink Bug was not just a risk for orchardists.

The Stink Bug would also be devastating to urban communities where home gardens would be destroyed and houses would become safe havens for the invasive pest, he said.

Mr Pollard praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the work that they are doing to protect New Zealand’s borders against the Stink Bug, including four shipments of cars from Japan recently turned away from entering the country. He has also commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, for making biosecurity his number one priority. . . 

Dairy farming – the ancient history of producing milk – K. Kris Hirst:

Milk-producing mammals were an important part of early agriculture in the world. Goats were among our earliest domesticated animals, first adapted in western Asia from wild forms about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated in the eastern Sahara by no later than 9,000 years ago. We surmise that at least one primary reason for this process was to make a source of meat easier to get than by hunting.

But domestic animals also are good for milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt (part of what V.G. Childe and Andrew Sherratt once called the Secondary Products Revolution). So–when did dairying first start and how do we know that?

The earliest evidence to date for the processing of milk fats comes from the Early Neolithic of the seventh millennium BC in northwestern Anatolia; the sixth millennium BC in eastern Europe; the fifth millennium BC in Africa; and the fourth millennium BC in Britain and Northern Europe (Funnel Beaker culture). . . 

Forget sauvignon blanc, New Zealand’s new big thing is pinot noir Elin McCoy:

Actor Sam Neill just finished a six-part television documentary on the voyages of Captain Cook, but right now he’s focused on the role of proud farmer. I’m walking with him on a tour of his organic vineyard in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand as he shows off his prize pigs and pulls out bottles of his much-talked-about Two Paddocks pinot noirs.

“What do you think?” he asks.

Thumbs up, for sure. 

When it comes to wine, New Zealand is on a roll. According to a just-released Vinexpo study, it’s now the fastest-growing wine-exporting country to the U.S. By 2021, it’s predicted to become the No. 4 exporter to the U.S., right behind Italy, Australia, and France—which is pretty remarkable, considering that the country makes barely 1 percent of the world’s wines. . . 

Young leaders to drive conversations at agritech event:

New Zealand’s agritech community will be joined by some of the country’s best young leaders at MobileTECH 2018. One of the key highlights at the upcoming agritech event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel.

“In addition to unveiling the very latest agritech innovations, we have lined up three emerging leaders to share their visions on just where the technology is heading, what areas they see as the most beneficial to their businesses and how it will impact on the sector’s future,” says Ken Wilson, programme manager for the MobileTECH 2018 event. . . 

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Rural round-up

February 21, 2018

Farmers face hefty riparian planting bills – Robin Martin:

Taranaki farmers could face hefty bills as the regional council toughens enforcement of its riparian planting programme to clean up waterways.

The council has begun auditing more than 1700 dairy farms and now says their plans for planting along riverbanks and streams must be completed by 2020.

Taranaki’s riparian planting programme – the largest in the country – has received international recognition and is has been credited with improving water quality. . . 

NAIT problems stymie M. bovis response – Nigel Malthus:

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says farmers’ problems in complying with NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) have slowed the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

NAIT could be a lot easier to use, she says.

While it works well for recording animals arriving at a processing works, there are apparent breakdowns in compliance when farmers are transferring stock among themselves. . .

Robotics opportunities in forestry being explored

Forest safety, improving productivity and getting workers off the felling site has been a major push for forestry managers, forest owners, logging contractors and equipment suppliers to modify their wood harvesting operations over the last few years. Another major driver to increased mechanisation has been the skilled machine operator shortages that many forestry companies are now currently facing. The ultimate goal of the industry is to have “no worker on the slope, or no hand on the chainsaw”.

Technology development and the pace of change over the last couple of years, in keeping with other industries, has been rapid and exciting for the forestry industry. Recent research is suggesting that by 2019, 35% of leading organizations will be exploring the use of robots to automate operations. Forestry isn’t any different. In fact, the switch is already underway. . .

Fonterra And the A2 Milk Company Form Comprehensive Strategic Relationship:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) and The a2 Milk Company (a2MC) have today entered into a comprehensive strategic relationship that links Fonterra’s global milk pool and supply chain, manufacturing capability and in-market sales and distribution capacity with a2MC’s brand strength and capabilities.

As part of the partnership, Fonterra will now begin conversations with its farmers to source an A2 milk pool for a2MC products in New Zealand, which is intended to significantly expand over time to help meet the growing demand for a2MC products. A similar milk pool in Australia will also be developed. . . 

MPI targets vehicles and machinery from Japan:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced new measures to reduce the risk of brown marmorated stink bugs arriving in vehicles and machinery from Japan.

The changes will require all used vehicles (cars and trucks) to undergo inspection and cleaning at an MPI-approved facility in Japan prior to export.

In addition, any used machinery or other types of used vehicles from Japan will require certification proving it has undergone cleaning by an appropriate provider, says Paul Hallett, MPI Biosecurity and Environment Manager.  . .

Feedback sought for upgrade of fertiliser-spreader standard:

The (NZGFA) is calling on fertiliser spreaders up and down the country to have their say ahead of a review of the industry’s Spreadmark programme.

Dean Brooks, the NZGFA’s president, says the programme – which was first developed in 1994 to raise the standard of fertiliser spreading performance and to provide a benchmark for best practice – will soon be reviewed by the Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC). . .

Funding request to federal Health Minister met with ‘positive response‘ – Sally Cripps:

We were swamped.” That was how psychologist, Dervla Loughnane, described the overwhelming response to the news that a texting counselling service had been launched for rural people in need.

Announced by the Queensland Country Life at the start of February, it was hoped the Virtual Psychologist service, supported by Aussie Helpers, would save lives and that’s what has happened, according to Dervla.

“It was so overwhelming that in the first 24 hours we had to double our staff on the lines,” she said. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 19, 2018

Syrian lamb commands higher prices than ours; alternative proteins are next threat – Sam McIvor:

If you think our meat is premium, export boss Sam McIvor has a wake-up call. Fake meats and other lab-grown alternatives are threatening our farms. 

 The Stuff series “Meat under heat” has led to a robust debate among farmers. I speak with farmers every day and they tell me that while they understand the scale of challenges outlined in the series, they are excited about the future and the opportunities which lie ahead. Farmers certainly do not have their heads in the sand.

They can see for themselves the rise of alternative proteins and I know a number, like me, who have tried an Impossible Burger and other similar products.  I consider myself a bit of a meat connoisseur and cooked well, the Beyond Burger was a realistic substitute.

That’s why we’ve invested in a large research project to better understand the implications of alternative proteins. Early conclusions indicate that alternative proteins are likely to become major competition. It also showed, however, that the same forces driving investment and demand for alternative proteins, including concerns about industrial (feedlot) farming; health concerns arising from the use of hormones and antibiotics; environmental and animal welfare concerns, offer an opportunity to differentiate New Zealand red meat internationally.  . . 

 – Allan Barber:

The global market for New Zealand’s meat exports and exporters is undergoing quite a rapid change, judging by movements in the industry’s latest quota entitlements and market destinations. The differences between exporters and markets over a ten and five year period provide an interesting snapshot of the relative position of the meat companies and the impact of changing market dynamics.

A comparison of quota entitlements over 10 years illustrates some sizeable changes in market share, but also considerable industry rationalisation. A number of smaller exporters have either disappeared or been absorbed by a larger company, but for the most part the same companies still dominate the industry, but with some noticeable changes in share. . . 

My tips for 2018 – Allan Barber:

It’s the time of year for making predictions, some of which may turn out to be close to the mark, but most, like horse racing tips or economists’ forecasts, will end up looking slightly silly, if anybody takes the trouble to remember what they were. The luxury of writing a column is the ability to speculate without being held to account for any inaccuracies.

Before I make any predictions for the year ahead, it’s worth taking a moment to highlight some of the main features of the year that has just finished. Two events of major significance actually had their roots in 2016 – the US election and the BREXIT referendum – but nobody is much the wiser about how they will play out from a trade perspective. As is often the case, what appears to be a seismic event takes longer than expected to have any noticeable impact. . . 

PSA heroes rewarded – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research that helped take the kiwifruit industry from zero to hero in the space of a few years in Psa’s wake has earned Plant and Food Research scientists the country’s richest science award.

The Crown research institute’s multi-disciplinary team collected $500,000 of prize money in the 2017 Prime Minister’s Science Prize for the intensive work they did after the Psa disease incursion in November 2010 as they battled to identify the strain of the disease, develop a test for it and determine replacement cultivar tolerance to the disease.

The disease ultimately laid to waste the original gold kiwifruit variety Hort16a, the up and coming hope for the industry’s future growth.  . . 

Rare sheep music to couple’s ears – Yvonne O’Hara:

Country music singers Ron and Kathleen Gallagher have a small flock of some of the rarest sheep in the country.

There are thought to be about 100 Stewart Island sheep left in New Zealand and the Owaka couple have about 30 on their 8ha lifestyle block.

The Stewart Island sheep are a coloured, feral version of the merino, and are descended from those released by sealers and whalers on to Stewart Island in the 1800s and those which escaped from sheep farming operations.

They look similar to Arapawa sheep and Pitt Island sheep, with black and brown-toned fleeces. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication still on the table as milk testing results flow in:

Initial results from the first round of milk testing from all producing dairy farms for Mycoplasma bovis indicate eradication of the disease remains a viable option as work to contain it ramps up, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

The first round of the joint industry MPI surveillance programme is near completion with no positive detections.

Tests have been completed on the tanker milk from 9100 dairy farms without a positive detection. The remaining tests will be completed early next week. . . 

DIRA Bill a good move for dairy industry:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (DIRA) has finally made it through Parliament.

“I think most of the industry will agree this is long overdue and should have happened at least six months ago,” says Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Chair.

The Federation was looking forward to working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the dairy sector on a comprehensive review. . . 

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Accept no substitutes. 8 0z of real milk contains 8g of protein. 

8 oz of almond beverage contains only 1g of protein.

Cavalier boosts first-half profit on benefits from restructuring – Rebecca Howard

Feb. 15 (BusinessDesk) – Carpet maker Cavalier Corp reported an improved first-half net profit on better margins, after restructuring the business to reduce costs and introduce a more efficient manufacturing system.

Net profit rose to $1 million, or 1.5 cents per share, in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $31,000 in the prior period. Revenue fell to $75.3 million from $84.3 million, reflecting reduced carpet sales in the first half due to market conditions as well as the materially lower wood prices which impacted the revenue of its wool buying business Elco Direct. . .


Rural round-up

February 18, 2018

Are you bogged mate? – Mary O’Brien Rural:

I spend a lot of time raising awareness about spray drift but recent events have compelled me to talk about something that disturbs me even more than spray drift.

I have spent my whole life working in rural and remote Australia and always around country blokes; working with them, for them, and beside them. My father was one, my brother is one, and most of my dearest friends are country blokes. I have always worked in male dominated occupations and that certainly doesn’t make me special but I believe it has given me a good understanding of rural men and it has definitely given me a deep and profound respect for them.

So when I see country blokes facing challenges like never before, I need to say something because I know none of them will. I’m talking about rural men’s mental health and more specifically, rural male suicide. Yes, that mongrel black dog that sneaks in when you least expect it, grabs all of your rational thoughts, buries them somewhere you can’t find them, and without you or those close to you noticing, it gradually pulls you into a hole, a bog hole. . . 

Taupo Beef and Lamb starts exporting its meat range to Japanese supermarkets – Gerald Piddock:

Taupo Beef and Lamb has begun exporting its meat range to Japan.

The company, established by farmers Mike and Sharon Barton, sent the first container load of product in December which went on sale at five high end supermarkets east of Tokyo in mid-January.

The response from shoppers so far had been great, said Mike Barton at a field day at Onetai Station.. . 

NZ Ireland collaboration confirmed – Nicole Sharp:

Similarities between Ireland and New Zealand are leading to collaborations on research and development in the dairy industry.

Southland dairy farmers Tim Driscoll and Tony Miles travelled to Ireland recently with DairyNZ research and development general manager David McCall and AgResearch scientist Jane Chrystal.

The aim of the visit, which had funding from the two organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries, was to cement the collaboration between the two countries.

Mr Driscoll said both countries were similar in climate which made them ideal for comparisons in research and development.

Mr Driscoll and Mr Miles, both trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, wanted to make sure the Southern Dairy Hub was a part of the ongoing collaboration. . . 

Climate work ramping up:

With climate change champions, partnership farms and greenhouse gas roadshows in the pipeline, the Dairy Action for Climate Change is accelerating its work in 2018. Here are some details from DairyNZ senior policy advisor Kara Lok and developer Nick Tait.

The aim of the Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC), launched in June last year, was for the dairy sector to proactively take action to mitigate against agricultural emissions. This initiative, by DairyNZ and Fonterra, has come at a time when it is increasingly imperative for the dairy sector to take leadership on such challenges.

At a climate conference in Germany late last year, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said New Zealand would be a world leader on climate change. The Government is looking to have the Zero Carbon Act in force by the middle of this year, which will enforce a net zero emissions target by 2050, and set up an independent Climate Change Commission that will decide whether agriculture should enter the Emissions Trading Scheme. Regardless of the outcome, it has never been more important for the dairy sector to take action on agricultural emissions. . . 

Plenty more lambing seasons in store – Yvonne O’Hara:

Even though he is 82, John Benington recently completed 57 consecutive lambing seasons. And he is intending to add to that number.

He still helps son Jamie on the family farm, Craigellachie Downs, near Beaumont, when needed, and he and wife Anne have their own smaller unit, near Lawrence.

Mr Benington is the third generation to live in the area.

”I was born and bred in Lawrence,” he said. . . 

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Put that baler twine back in your pocket son, this fence is beyond fixing, said no farmer ever.

Decisive action on Brown Marmorated Stink Bug necessary:

New Zealand Winegrowers applauds the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) decisive action in turning back three cargo vessels contaminated with Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB).

BMSB is one of the wine industry’s most significant biosecurity risks due to the insects’ potential to impact on both the production and quality of processed red wine.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says a BMSB incursion would significantly affect the wine industry’s ongoing export success. . .


Rural round-up

February 17, 2018

Disease has two hubs – Annette Scott:

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for at least two years and is spread wider than first thought, Southland veterinary clinic Vet South says while Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says there are now two infection hubs.

The Winton practice sent an email to clients on Thursday urging people whose stock or properties might have been linked to Southern Centre Dairies to come forward.

Southern Centre Dairies, the hub of infected properties in Southland, is owned by Gea and Alfons Zeestraten.

Vet South director veterinarian Georgette Wouda said Ministry for Primary Industries surveillance work indicated the disease was limited to a relatively small group of farms but more needed to be known.

“Down in our region all of the infected properties to date have links with Alfons Zeestraten’s farms. . .

Lamb and wool marketers confident – Sally Rae:

Farmers visiting Alliance Group’s tent at the Southern Field Days had mostly one burning question — how long could lamb prices be sustained.

And the response? “We feel market fundamentals around the world give us some confidence,” chairman Murray Taggart said.

The North Canterbury farmer acknowledged that his position was a “bit easier” than what it was when he first took on the role.

The mood among farmers was “pretty positive” and, despite climatic conditions, he was “really chuffed” with market prices.

“You’ve done a bloody good job,” a long-time shareholder told Mr Taggart on the way past, but Mr Taggart said the company was not resting on its laurels. . . 

Momentum grows in understanding of farming, farmers – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne believes there is real momentum building for farming — “and in the right way”.

The straight-talking West Coast dairy farmer — who last year broke a 118-year history of male leadership of the rural lobby organisation — has been at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu this week.

Joking that she had left her partner unsupervised around the many machinery sites, she helped a Federated Farmers team to victory over FMG in a tug-o-war competition.

Ms Milne, who is known for her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach,  said the leadership role was “really exciting” and it was a privilege to be a voice for farmers. While she knew it was a big job, it had surprised her the places that she ended up and the people she had met.

It had been somewhat of a baptism by fire, with the general election  being held straight after she came into the role. . . 

Honey season better but patchy – Richard Rennie:

With parts of Northland and Bay of Plenty grappling with major rainfall while parts of Taranaki and Otago remain parched, honey producers are reporting mixed results for the season’s honey collection.

Comvita, one of the country’s largest honey producers, has already informed investors this season has been a successful one, largely thanks to more favourable conditions in December and January. 

However, severe weather in early January hit Northland and Waikato hard at a critical flowering period, pushing yields down towards a more average season.

Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter told investors if the above-normal temperatures remain for the rest of this summer, Wairarapa, Whanganui, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay are expected to have an above average season. . . 

Big toy has price tag to match – Sally Rae:

If you’ve got a spare $625,000 sitting in the wallet, then a Fendt 1050 tractor could be just the ticket.

The world’s largest conventional tractor was attracting plenty of interest at JJ Ltd’s site at the Southern Field Days.

There are only three of the 500hp tractors — described by JJ’s staff as being in a “class of its own” — in New Zealand, two demonstrator models and one that had been bought by a North Island contractor. . . 

NZ Well Positioned to be global player in alternative protein market – producer:

Eco conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein according to the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods.

Mark Roper spokesperson for Life Health Foods – which makes plant based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products, says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet.

A nationwide survey commissioned by the company has found that millennials aged 18-34 are the most likely demographic to adopt a mostly meat-free lifestyle in the next decade. . . 


Rural round-up

February 16, 2018

Drought, disruption undermines farmers’ confidence:

A marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about the ability to recruit suitable staff are stand-out features of the Federated Farmers Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey.

For the first time in two years, farmer optimism has decreased, including negative perceptions of the economy, farm profitability, farm production and farm spending. Farm debt levels have also increased and fewer farms are now debt-free.

The Federated Farmers survey is conducted by Research First twice a year (January and July) and 1070 farmers responded to the questionnaire last month. . . 

Time to get real about forestry – Graham West:

Last year I commented on the high returns from current harvesting, however I don’t believe this is being translated into significant interest in new planting, certainly not at the rate of the governments aspirational target of 50,000ha per year. The Crown Forestry action is clearly around doing deals to secure land for leasing and other deal makers, like Toitu Te Waonui, and various forestry consultants, are doing the same, good on them.

But this doesn’t really raise the general awareness of the forestry business opportunity for land owners and investors. The challenge is how to create a pipe line of prospects who are considering land use change. The target group must be the approximately 25,000 drystock farmers in New Zealand, owning 9.5m hectares. The timeline is also important, seedlings for next winter are already booked, but the deadline for orders to secure plants for the following winter (2019) needs to be placed with nurseries by Oct-Nov 2018. . . 

Minister needs to step up as drought worsens in Coastal Taranaki:

The Minister for Primary Industries needs to step up and listen to the rural sector in the face of the worsening drought in Coastal Taranaki, National’s Rural Communities Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

Mrs Kuriger reached out to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week to discuss ideas put forward by the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, but the Minister has not accepted the invitation to meet.

“It would seem that the response by the Minister – since initially declaring the drought – has been to bury his head in the sand on the Coastal Taranaki issue. . . 

Govt passing the cap around primary industry:

The Government is going cap-in-hand to the primary sector seeking support to help eradicate the rapidly-spreading cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“It’s my understanding that the Ministry for Primary Industries is canvassing the dairy and red meat industry for contributions to fund the response and eradication of this disease.

“In Parliament yesterday the Minister Damien O’Connor couldn’t say how much money the Government is prepared to contribute to fully eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis.

“Knowing how tight the Government’s finances are because of its other big-spending commitments – and even with financial contributions from industry – Mr O’Connor has an uphill battle convincing his Cabinet colleagues how critical funding of over $100 million actually is,” Mr Guy says. . . 

National welcomes continuation of 1080 policy:

A reassurance from the Department of Conservation (DOC) that there has been no change in policy over the use of 1080 poison is welcome, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“At today’s annual review the Director General, Lou Sanson, reassured the Environment Select Committee that not only has there been no change in 1080 policy, but DOC expects to expand its use.

“This approach is critical to achieving National’s long term Predator-Free NZ by 2050 vision. Possums, rats and stoats kill 25 million birds a year, and if DOC was hamstrung from using 1080, we would see further unique species becoming extinct. . . 

Regulator asks how gene-edited food should be treated:

Planning for future GM foods coming down the line, the food safety regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for suggestions for how it should consider applications for foods that have been made using new genetic techniques that aren’t currently covered by their laws.

The current code only covers food produced by genetic techniques that add DNA into a genome and doesn’t cover newer gene editing techniques like CRISPR/Cas9 which knock out genes or proteins, or others that don’t change the DNA of the final food product.

FSANZ are asking for submissions on how these newer techniques should be assessed before they go to market. Options range from treating them like conventional breeding techniques – given a green light once a technique has been proved safe – or to be treated like current genetically modified organisms which would mean that each application requires a rigorous safety assessment. . . 

Golden Rice: Loved by humanitarians, reviled by environmentalists – Green Jihad *

Despite the Philippines and Bangladesh edging toward commercializing it, New Zealand’s food regulation agency (FSANZ) endorsed approving importing Golden Rice for sale in order to reduce trade disorder with Asian countries that allow it.

Unfortunately, an opposition group named GE-Free New Zealand has started an effort urging New Zealand’s food safety minister to review the FSANZ’s recommendation in hopes of eventually halting the importation of Golden Rice. The organization’s views are nearly in line with what environmentalist groups, like Greenpeace, have been claiming about GMO’s for years.

Golden Rice has been a vital source of nutrition for many people in developing countries who lack Vitamin A that humans need to help them survive. Sadly, environmentalist groups are undaunted in halting not only the dissemination of Golden Rice and all other GMO’s but their production too. This being done so that more humans die of starvation or illness resulting from malnutrition due to a reduction in the food supply. . . 

Sustainable ag series – farmers – Dirt to dinner:

The agriculture industry is often criticized for using too much water, using too many chemicals, and adding more carbon to the atmosphere.

However, farmers have their boots on the ground and occupy the front lines of sustainability initiatives within agriculture. No farms, no food!

While some farmers employ better approaches to farming sustainably, no farmer deliberately damages human or environmental health or wants to waste their inputs, such as water, pesticide, and labor. As stewards of the land, it is in a farmer’s best interest to preserve all of their resources for future generations of farming. . . 

* (Hat tip: Utopia):


Rural round-up

February 13, 2018

Crown Forestry offering farmers deal to plant pines – Andrew McRae:

Crown Forestry is chasing unproductive farmland suitable for commercial planting of pinus radiata to help it meet the government’s one billion trees program.

The 10-year target will require new planting to cover 500,000 hectares.

Farmers and other landowners with at least 200ha to spare are being asked by Crown Forestry, a business unit of the Ministry for Primary Industries, to consider the offer.

Land owners are being offered a lease or joint-venture option with Crown Forestry paying all establishment and management costs, paying rent to the land owner and allowing any carbon credits to be retained.

The land would need to pass a few other tests, such as being reasonably fertile, have easy access and be identified as suitable for production forestry. . . 

Champion pair marching towards the Golden Shears:

Reigning Golden Shears champions Rowland Smith and Joel Henare loom as possibly the hottest favourites to win again this year after dominating the major events at the 58th Otago Shearing and woolhandling championships in Balclutha.

The two young dads have each been competing in the top class since their teens, and in The Balclutha Memorial Town Hall on Saturday 31-year-old Smith blitzed even reigning World champion and New Zealand teammate John Kirkpatrick to win the Otago Open shearing title and head New Zealand to a test-match win over Wales, while Henare, 26, won both the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year and Southern Circuit woolhandling titles.

Smith’s Otago championships was his 8th in a row in the four weeks since his last blemish, when he failed to qualify for the final at the Tauranga show on January 14. But he’s had 31 wins in finals in a row in New Zealand since he was fourth at the Rotorua A and P Show in January last year. . . 

Ship and cargo causing a helluva stink for farmers:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to hold firm on a shipment which has been previously turned away from the Ports of Auckland.

The vessel, carrying motor vehicles from Japan, was deemed a biosecurity risk after the discovery of over 100 brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB).

As no port in New Zealand has the capacity to fumigate the ship, it has been subsequently re-routed to Australia.

“That ship and its cargo should not be allowed anywhere near our shoreline until we have assurances that it is comprehensively fumigated with all the marmorated stink bugs destroyed,” says Guy Wigley, Federated Farmers’ Biosecurity Spokesperson. . . 

Rural Life reporter made Youth Ambassador :

Southern Rural Life journalist Nicole Sharp is the Southland A&P Show’s John Robins Youth Ambassador for 2018.

The John Robins Youth Ambassador is awarded each year in the memory of the late John Robins, who was  passionate about getting young people involved with the Southland A&P Show.

Miss Sharp was presented with the award by Mr Robins’ wife Joyce, at a function at Ascot Park Hotel, Invercargill,  on Sunday, commemorating 150 years of the A&P show.

The John Robins Youth Ambassador position was established as a way of encouraging youth to become involved in the show. . . 

Choosing technology to enhance sustainability – Terry Wanzek:

I choose to grow genetically modified crops on my farm for a simple reason: sustainability.

These products of modern science make me more economically and environmentally sustainable, allowing me to grow more food on less land, benefitting my family, consumers, and the wider world.

My 84-year-old father helps me put things in perspective. He worked this land before my brother and I did, teaching us the value of hard work and the art of agriculture.

Back in his heyday, he mostly grew wheat.  Today’s biotechnology has allowed us to expand our crop choices to more corn and soybeans, along with wheat.  My father was delighted when an acre produced 80 bushels of corn. Today, that would be an economic calamity – worse than letting the land lie fallow. We like to see an acre produce at least 150 bushels, are pleased when it hits 170, and always hope for more. . . 

https://twitter.com/FAOKnowledge/status/961725791787773952

Hundreds turn up to sheep milking events:

New Zealand’s dairy sheep industry took a big step forward when a major investment in genetic improvement and farm system development was formally launched at Waikino Station on the western shores of Lake Taupo. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by dozens of potential investors and distributors from overseas, and a farmer open day attracted 300, including rural bankers and accountants.

The investment has been made by the Chinese partner in the Maui Milk joint venture with local dairy sheep pioneers, the Waituhi Kuratau Trust, whose farm also borders the lake. The JV has milked 3000 ewes on that property since 2015 and lessons learned are being implemented in the green-field development at Waikino Station which adds another 2000 ewes to the tally. . . 


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