Rural round-up

30/09/2022

Voluntary sequestration schemes create opportunities as well as confusion – Keith Woodford:

Native forests that began regenerating prior to 1990 are excluded from the ETS. This opens opportunities for voluntary schemes independent of Government.

In a recent article, I wrote how carbon credits are not created equal. This inequality is now leading to game-playing and confusion across society. Terms like ‘greenwash’ as the carbon equivalent of a ‘whitewash’ are increasingly heard and there is increasing talk of ‘hot air’ carbon claims.

Since writing that article, I have been wrestling with the challenge of further deepening my own understanding of how the carbon game is being played. It is a game where different players are playing by different sets of rules, as are the certifying referees.  Many of the certifying rules are far from transparent.

Here in this article my focus is specifically on the rules surrounding sequestration that removes carbon from the atmosphere. That leaves other aspects of the carbon rules for another time. . .

Better free trade outcomes an illusion – EU politician – Sam Sachdeva:

EU trade committee chair Bernd Lange argues the grouping’s trade deal with New Zealand is a “gold standard” agreement – even if Kiwi farmers disagree. Lange spoke to Sam Sachdeva about China’s coercive trade practices, cracking down on forced labour, and how the Ukraine invasion has changed attitudes on trade

Even a typically miserable Wellington spring day can’t shake the good mood of European parliamentarian Bernd Lange.

Speaking to Newsroom at the end of a week-long visit to New Zealand, Lange says the grey skies and rain remind him of his roots in northern Germany – although his cheer may be more down to the free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand he is here to discuss.

Lange visited New Zealand in late 2017 for a “fact-finding mission” with other members of the European Parliament’s international trade committee which he chairs. . . 

Synlait posts $38.5m annual profit

The South Island dairy company Synlait Milk is back in the black as its ingredients division saw higher than normal sales, while its major customer rebalanced inventory levels.

Key numbers for the 12 months ended July compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $38.5m vs $28.5m loss
  • Revenue $1.66b vs $1.37b
  • Total average payment $9.59 vs $7.82
  • Forecast 2023 payout $9.50 per kilo of milk solids

Synlait chair John Penno said the past year was “an important period of refocusing”. . . 

Fonterra trials world first in sustainable electricity storage :

A new organic, low-cost, safe, sustainable and long-life battery being trialled by Fonterra, could support greater energy security and distributed electricity generation for New Zealand.

PolyJoule, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-off, is partnering with Fonterra on the application of the battery made from electrically conductive polymers, an organic based compound with the ability to act like metal.

Late last year the world’s first industrial scale organic battery was installed on a Fonterra farm at Te Rapa. The battery was cycled daily, supporting dairy shed operations for 10 months. The Co-op is now moving this battery to its Waitoa UHT site, which can be impacted by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Fraser Whineray says as a significant electricity user at about 2.5% of the national grid, a sustainable and secure electricity supply is vital to the Co-operative’s local sales and exports. . .

Primary sector exporters buoyed by opportunities for a closer India-NZ relationship but different approach necessary :

Primary sector exporters recently returned from a visit to India are excited about the opportunities for a closer partnership between the two countries, however they are urging the New Zealand Government to adopt a more flexible and focused approach to trade.

New Zealand’s agriculture exporters and industry bodies, including representatives from the red meat, kiwifruit, apples & pears and dairy sectors, were part of an India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) delegation which coincided with a visit from Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.

“India has come out of COVID-19 with growing confidence and strength, and its leaders have a clear focus on accelerating economic growth including through trade,” says INZBC chair Earl Rattray, who has dairy interests in India.

“India is on track to become the world’s third largest economy within the next decade. There is a modern economic miracle unfolding there, with an openness to explore mutually beneficial ways to strengthen trade relationships. This is a good time for New Zealand business to embrace India.” . . 

NZ Young Farmers and Ministry for Primary Industries partner to boost wellbeing :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is supporting NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) to fund a series of events for NZYF members as part of an initiative to improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

MPI is contributing funding for the events, which will offer a channel for young people across the country to connect and learn ways to manage mental health and build resilience.

NZ Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says mental health is a key concern in rural communities, where factors such as isolation and high workloads can impact overall wellbeing and mental health.

“The mental and physical wellbeing of young people is a big focus of our organisation and is essential for the ongoing viability of many rural communities,” says Lynda Coppersmith. . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2022

Research set to improve safety over calving – Bronwyn Wilson:

Research into sprain and strain injuries over calving has identified some simple ways farmers can reduce injuries on dairy farms.

The three-year DairyNZ project, funded in partnership with ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention programme, is researching the causes of sprains and strains on dairy farms – and developing practical solutions to reduce injuries.

“Around 40 percent of injuries on dairy farms are sprains and strains, with the highest risk from August to October. As calving progresses, fatigue can set in and increase injuries,” says DairyNZ senior scientist and research lead, Dr Callum Eastwood.

As part of the Reducing Sprains and Strains project, 370 farmers were surveyed on how they managed health and safety, and whether injuries had occurred. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Mid Canterbury update – enhanced biosecurity measures in the Wakanui area :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, alongside DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is a partner in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme.

The M. bovis programme is now targeting the remaining known pocket of confirmed infection with depopulation starting on a mid-Canterbury feedlot in Wakanui and strict new biosecurity measures for the surrounding area.

Although further detections across the country are possible in future, the only properties known to have infected cattle are located in this small area, where there are three Confirmed Properties, including the feedlot.

M. bovis is known to be most commonly spread via direct contact between infected and uninfected cattle. However, despite recent thorough investigations, the programme has been unable to confirm the pathway(s) by which disease has been spreading in this area. . .

Gisborne drone spraying trial deemed a success – Hamish Barwick:

Gisborne based vegetable grower LeaderBrand recently trialled the use of drones for spraying at its Makauri Farm with positive results.   

LeaderBrand research agronomist Chris Lambert said the trial took place over three months during winter, an ideal time as the ground was too wet to operate a tractor on.

“We wanted to manage our weeds in winter. Rather than spray over a wide area, which is a big waste of chemicals, the drone was able to target weed clumps.”  

He said the advantage of drones is that they don’t compact soil like tractors do and they’re also more agile than helicopters. . . 

High-tech strawberry farm aims high in Foxton – Country Life:

Slip behind a bee-proof mesh curtain in an old Foxton factory building and a sweet surprise awaits.

“Welcome to our secret laboratory,” Matthew Keltie says.

Under the bluish glow of the high-tech lights, pops of red catch the eye.

A bee buzzes past and quiet music overlays the faint gurgle of nutrients swishing through tubes. . . 

Meryn Whitehead wins 2022 Young Grower of the Year national final :

Meryn Whitehead, a 28-year-old supervisor at Vailima Orchards, has won the national title of 2022 Young Grower of the Year, held in Nelson.

“It is a real privilege to be named the winner of this year’s competition, especially given the impressive talent on display,” says Meryn.

Meryn was one of six contestants that vied for the grand title in a series of practical and theoretical horticulture modules across two-days. The competition encourages young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrating their success in the industry.

Despite being Meryn’s second year entering the competition, she says the experience has been nonetheless valuable. . . 

Proposed Bill would support wine tourism in New Zealand :

New Zealand Winegrowers is thrilled the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill, proposed by Stuart Smith MP, has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today.

New Zealand Winegrowers has had longstanding concerns about aspects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act as they apply to winery cellar doors. This Bill would help to address some of our key concerns for wineries.

We congratulate Stuart Smith MP on having this Bill drawn from the ballot. As the Member of Parliament for New Zealand’s largest wine region, he understands first-hand the importance of this proposal.

Winery cellar doors are an important part of wine tourism, yet the current legislation does not permit wineries holding an off-licence to charge for tastings. “The current legislation is out of date,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “It either forces wineries to give wine away for free, or forces them to go through significant cost and time to acquire and maintain a separate on-licence.” . . 


Rural round-up

16/09/2022

Up a creek – Rural News:

The agriculture sector is continuing to find the rocky road to a solution to ag emissions may be paved with good intentions, but the outcome is a mess.

Ever since the formation of the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, made up of 11 sector groups, as well as Māori and the Government, it has courted controversy and struggled to get farmer buy in.

The partnership’s He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) current recommendations for mitigating agricultural emissions now appear to be up a creek without a paddle.

HWEN has struggled for farmer support from the very start. The partnership – especially the primary sector groups – have done a poor job in communicating with farmers. They have also been arrogant and dismissive of ongoing farmer concerns. . . .

Carbon credits are not created equal – Keith Woodford:

Carbon offsets are fundamental to New Zealand’s greenhouse-gas policies. However, not all offsets are created equal. That sets the scene for all sorts of games to be played, with winners and losers. This is further complicated by marketing ploys that can lack transparency as to what is actually being bought and sold, and where the credits have come from.

Understanding something about carbon offsets is fundamental to understanding the current drivers of forestry in New Zealand. Offset rules also lie at the heart of whether sequestration credits have official status.

At an official level, carbon offsets in New Zealand operate through the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).  Within this scheme, emitters purchase credits that have been allocated by Government to other people as a reward for sequestering carbon, typically through carbon forestry.

The current price for those credits, set by supply and demand in the market place, is about $85 per tonne of carbon.  . . 

Passing the ball to young Maori in ag recruitment drive – Charlie Williamson :

Sports event will see MPs face-off against dairy farmers and industry leaders.

DairyNZ is organising a memorial sports event with the aim of attracting young Māori into the dairy sector. 

The John Luxton Memorial Event will feature local dairy farmers, sector leaders, MPs and a former All Black facing off in light-hearted but competitive rugby and netball games. 

A dairy sector netball and rugby team, including local parents, children, grandchildren and others from rural communities will face off against parliamentary teams consisting of MPs and parliamentary advisors.  . . 

 

New markets for venison and more productive deer farms :

The deer farming industry is celebrating the success of a strategy that has resulted in successful venison market development in China and a retail breakthrough in the United States. It has also resulted in increased productivity on deer farms.

Known as Passion2Profit (P2P), it aimed to convert the passion that farmers have for their deer into greater farm profitability. Seven years and $14 million later it has resulted in the development of major new markets for venison and greater productivity on deer farms.

P2P was part of government’s Primary Growth Partnership programme and was funded 50/50 by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Deer Industry NZ.

Independent programme chair, Bruce Wills, says venison marketers have done what he describes as a “fabulous job” pivoting to retail, with prices well on the way to recovering from a Covid induced slump. . . 

Golden opportunity for Scott technology with Silver Fern Farms :

Scott Technology (NZX:SCT) is pleased to announce the signing of a multi-million dollar contract with one of New Zealand’s leading producers of premium red meat, Silver Fern Farms.

The $11.2 million investment will see Scott deliver a fully automated lamb processing system for the Silver Fern Farms Finegand plant in South Otago, designed to deliver exceptional product quality and increased yield of high value cuts.

Scott Technology CEO, John Kippenberger, says that they are delighted to be partnering once again with one of New Zealand’s most iconic meat producers and exporters.

“Silver Fern Farms is an enduring partner of Scott Technology. In the late 2000s we worked in collaboration to develop an early iteration of our automated lamb processing technology. The new primal system utilises advanced x-ray and vision technology to deliver even higher accuracy cutting, while also enabling important improvements in health and safety by removing much of the manual heavy cutting activity.” . .

Dutch farmers topple Agriculture Minister leading radical climate agenda – Frank Bergman:

The Netherlands’ agricultural minister Henk Staghouwer has been forced to resign following widespread protests from Dutch farmers over his radical climate agenda that seeks to destroy their livelihoods.

Staghouwer was leading the Dutch agriculture ministry’s climate policy that involved confiscating farms in a forced government buy-out scheme.

In the wake of the huge protests from farmers, Staghouwer has now been forced to step down.

He told the Dutch cabinet that pushback from farmers had meant he would not be able to meet a September deadline for rolling out the government’s radical green policy, the AP reported. . .


Rural round-up

15/09/2022

What the ‘F’ is going on? – Mark Daniel:

Rabobank’s Emma Higgins recently outlined some of the current headaches facing the agriculture sector.

At the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) Conference, held in Christchurch, she focused on a number of ‘F’ words – freight, fuel, fertiliser, feed, folk and farmer spending.

Higgins looked at the state of the global shipping industry and what had happened pre- and post-Covid, covering a period from early 2018 to June 2022. She explained that during the pre-Covid era, freight rates had remained largely static with most companies making little or no margin. However, since early 2020, rates had skyrocketed, alliances and consolidations had become the norm and major players were reporting margins approaching 40% or more.

Higgins warned those needing to ship goods in or out of the country not to expect freight costs to return to pre-Covid levels, even though there had been a recent softening of rates. She also noted there is an ongoing problem with scheduling reliability – boats arriving on time. Pre-Covid this was typically at 85%, but more lately was sitting at 35%. . . 

Many flow-on effects if scroll plains classified as wetlands – Shawn McAvinue:

A Maniototo Basin farmer fears proposed new freshwater rules will remove an important tool used to protect a unique scroll plain.

Puketoi Station owner Emma Crutchley said her nearly 3000ha sheep, beef and arable farm was often dry.

About 350mm of rain fell each year on the farm, which is about a 20-minute drive southwest of Ranfurly.

When it tips down, the overflow of the meandering Taieri River transforms a low-lying area of her farm to a “large, slow-moving lake”. . . 

Winter crop consent logjam ‘could reach 10,000’ – Neal Wallace:

Delays in finalising freshwater farm plans threaten bureaucratic snarl-up.

An estimated 10,000 farmers may require resource consent to intensively winter stock on crops next year.

A meeting this week between farming groups and the Ministry for the Environment (MFE) will confirm if a compromise can be found to the consenting requirement, which many fear will overwhelm regional council staff.

It has been estimated that 2000 farmers in Southland and 1000 in Waikato will require resource consent, and farming leaders calculate that nationally, potentially a further 7000 may also need consent. . . 

Ex-Feds dairy boss makes it 3-way battle for DairyNZ board seats – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers leader Chris Lewis is one of three candidates confirmed for DairyNZ director elections.

The Waikato farmer will take on sitting directors Tracy Brown, Waikato and Elaine Cook, Bay of Plenty, both retiring by rotation and seeking re-election.

Voting starts September 19 and ends on October 17. Results will be announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Invercargill the next day.

Lewis, who milks 970 cows at Pukeatua, believes he will bring a farmer’s perspective to the board. . . 

Vets hold the line against M bovis – Mary van Andel :

Local vets are putting the country on track to be the world’s first to eradicate the disease.

Much of the work veterinarians do is behind the scenes but underpins aspects of our economy, environment and way of life. Across New Zealand, veterinarians provide valuable technical expertise and are recognised as trusted advisers on a range of issues, including animal health and welfare, and disease surveillance and investigation. They play a key role in our biosecurity system.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the private veterinarian who first identified Mycoplasma bovis in NZ in 2017. Since those early and often difficult days, private veterinarians have made a significant contribution in identifying the index case and reporting cases of suspected disease, as well as undertaking on-farm testing and supporting their clients affected by the eradication programme. 

If it had been left unchecked, M bovis could have cost the industry $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns. As we near the halfway mark of our estimated 10-year eradication programme, we are aiming to move from controlling the last known pockets of the disease, to provisional absence. We are on track to become the first country to eradicate M bovis.

An important part of my role at the Ministry for Primary Industries is to identify ways to build relationships that bind our animal health community together to enable successful biosecurity partnerships. MPI is NZ’s largest employer of veterinarians, with 300 working in five of the nine business units, across all regions, including overseas postings.  . . 

Ploughwoman qualifies for national champs – Shawn McAvinue:

Southland ploughwoman Tryphena Carter is going to the National Ploughing Championships next year.

The Waimea Ploughing Club member qualified for the nationals on the first day of the Middlemarch, Taieri and Tokomairiro ploughing matches in Strath Taieri.

“That’s really exciting,” Carter said.

She got podium finishes in the conventional class on all three days — the Tokomairiro match in Sutton on August 26 and the Taieri and Middlemarch matches in Middlemarch on August 27 and 28 respectively. . . 


Rural round-up

18/08/2022

MPI allays foot-and-mouth rumours while prices fall again at dairy auction – Point of Order:

It’s a tense time in New Zealand’s farming industries. Already the Ministry for Primary Industries has  had to shoot  down  an  overseas  news  report that  China  had  shut  its  borders  to  NZ  and  Australian  products  due  to  concerns   about  foot-and-mouth.

NZ  exports  to  China  are  continuing  as   normal, a Ministry  for Primary Industries spokesman said.

And Fonterra’s  fortnightly GDT auction  went  ahead  as scheduled  this  week,  with  keen  bidding   by   Chinese buyers.

Prices fell  for the  fifth  consecutive  time but  buying  caution  was  attributed to  the  fact consumers  are  worrying about soaring food prices. Other  observers  noted  the  impact on demand of disruption from Covid-19 lockdowns in China, an economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. . . 

Dairy man laments lack of recognition of sector’s progress – Peter Burke:

The man who has led the Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) for the past 15 years believes the dairy sector does not get enough recognition for what it does for NZ.

Malcolm Bailey, who steps down from his DCANZ role this week, has made a huge contribution to NZ and the dairy sector in particular for nearly four decades.

Bailey says one of the difficult things he’s had to overcome in his tenure at DCANZ is getting traction in the media about all the initiatives and works that the industry has done in the face of public criticism.

He says individual farmers – and the industry itself – have invested massively to minimise the environmental footprint of dairying and there have been some real success stories that have not been recognised. . . 

Fielding boy made good :

Malcolm Bailey grew up on a dairy farm near the township of Feilding in the lower North Island.

He still farms there today, with his son doing much of the on-farm work, while he focuses on his numerous other roles.

After completing a Bachelor of Ag Economics, Bailey left the family farm and took a job in the economics section of the Reserve Bank. One of his roles was to crunch some of the balance of payments numbers. It was here that he experienced the power of one Robert D. Muldoon, a man whose interventionist policies were eventually one of the reasons the young Malcolm Bailey went back to the family farm.

“As far as I was concerned, he was a lying crook who took the NZ economy in completely the wrong direction,” Bailey told Rural News. “The Reserve Bank could do nothing, despite a lot of the officials hating what was going on, but they couldn’t speak out publicly.” . .

A 50 year deer affair at Invermay – Shawn McAvinue:

A milestone of 50 years of science delivering for the deer farming industry will be celebrated in Mosgiel next month.

AgResearch scientist Jamie Ward is on the committee organising a celebration of 50 years of deer farming science at Invermay Agricultural Centre on Monday, September 26.

“I’m the one who did the math and figured out it all happened 50 years ago.”

In 1972, scientist Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter launched a deer farming research programme at Invermay. . .

How Seremaia Bai uses ag as a vehicle for rugby :

Fijian rugby star merges agricultural work, rugby and entrepreneurship to help create financial security for players.

He’s instinctively working the Colin “Pinetree” Meads model, only in an entirely different context. And Fijian international rugby star Seremaia Bai is making a real success of it – not just for himself.

While Meads trained in his King Country paddocks for his superlative rugby feats back in the day, and went back to farming after active rugby playing, Bai is operating in the new world of professional sport – which is not all rosy, and which has its own attendant challenges.

“The average professional career of a Fiji rugby player is approximately 10 years. But while so many young players have dreams, only 2% make it to the professional level. What happens to the other 98%?” Bai asked.. . . 

Scenic Rim agritourism farmers enforce measures to protect against foot-and-mouth disease – Heidi Sheehan:

Agritourism operators in south-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim region are asking tourists to sign waivers — and some to avoid their properties altogether — due to increased vigilance about the threat of foot-and-mouth disease. 

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affects pigs, cattle, goats and sheep.

It was detected in Indonesia in May and spread to Bali earlier this month, prompting fears a tourist could carry the disease into Australia on clothing or footwear.

In the worst-case scenario, billions would have to be spent on a national response while scores of painfully diseased cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats could be culled. . .


Rural round-up

16/08/2022

Lack of rural health services distressing – RWNZ :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) say it is distressing to see rural communities suffer due to a lack of access to quality health services.

RWNZ president Gill Naylor says the health and wellbeing of rural communities is at risk of further deterioration if something is not done to resolve the issues facing people who live, work and play in rural New Zealand.

In June this year, a rural health strategy was added to the Pae Ora Healthy Futures legislation which came into effect last month. The strategy had been removed during the select committee phase but was added back into the legislation after Health Minister Andrew Little was convinced to add it by his party’s ‘rural caucus’.

Naylor says the challenges rural families face with access to health services are varied and include a lack of rural midwives, lack of rural nurses and GPs, lack of rural mental health services, delays in emergency services such as ambulances and long distances to travel for services like allied health and cancer treatment. . . 

Exotics forestation surges on ETS carbon values – Richard Rennie:

The Climate Change Commission is estimating exotic forestation has surged to a rate well beyond the annual levels it says is required for New Zealand to achieve 380,000ha of exotic plantings by 2035.

The commission’s general manager for emissions budgets, Stephen Walter, told delegates at this year’s Carbon Forestry conference that the latest data indicates 60,000ha of exotic forest will be planted this year. That is more than twice the rate the commission envisaged.

This is also reflected in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ workload for accepting forests into the Emissions Trading Scheme. MPI’s ETS forestry manager, Simon Petrie, said there is an application queue of 130,000ha of forest awaiting scheme approval as of June.

The recent move by the commission to recommend the government limit carbon units is partly due to concern that current ETS emissions prices will drive large-scale afforestation for sequestering carbon, rather than behaviour change to reduce emissions. . . 

Rural residents ropeable over lack of cellphone coverage – Rachel Graham :

Residents in Ladbrooks, a seven-minute drive from the edge of suburban Christchurch, say living in a cellphone coverage blackspot is annoying and dangerous.

Ladbrooks School, with its 150 pupils, sits in the centre of a semi-rural area with an increasing number of lifestyle blocks.

It also sits in the middle of a cellphone black spot.

Ladbrooks School principal Margaret Dodds said the lack of cellphone coverage was much more than an inconvenience. . . 

Bale-grazing experiment benefits cows and soil – Shawn McAvinue:

A grass and hay wintering system is showing promising results in Northern Southland.

AgResearch Invermay soil scientist Ross Monaghan is running a nearly $1 million project to explore whether dairy cows grazing on pasture in winter can reduce nitrogen leaching and mud compared with being on traditional forage crops.

The Soil Armour Project was launched in October 2020.

Experiment sites are live on a dairy farm on the Telford campus near Balclutha and Freedom Acres Dairy Farm at Wendonside. . . 

New Zealand’s pipfruit industry gathers in August for National conference :

More than 250 growers, suppliers, industry leaders and government officials from around the country will gather at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson for the 2022 NZ Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) Conference.

The Conference will be held on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 August, with the industry AGM being held on Wednesday 24 August at 4pm. An ‘Agritech in the Orchard’ field day will be also be held on Wednesday 24 August, a collaboration between Callaghan Innovation and NZAPI.

The theme for the 2022 conference is ‘Adapting to New Horizons’. NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says that two years on from the beginning of the pandemic, we have learned to modify and adapt to a new environment to ensure New Zealand pipfruit can continue to compete on the global stage, demand premiums and remain an industry exemplar.

“NZ is widely regarded as the best apple and pear producer in the world, but to retain that title, we must continue to adapt and innovate. The Conference will explore how we as an industry can meet and succeed in these new environments. . . 

Improving crop resilience with nanoparticles – Neil Savage:

Materials that can carry CRISPR gene-editing into plant cells could be key in the fight against global hunger.

There were sceptics when Michael Strano and his colleagues published their method for using nanoparticles to alter the biology of living plants (J. P. Giraldo et al. Nature Mater. 13, 400–408; 2014). In a letter to Nature Materials, one prominent plant scientist stated that the findings were wrong. “She wrote to the editor and said, ‘What these authors are proposing is not possible. We think they’re misinterpreting their data’,” Strano recalls.

But the chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, won over his critics, overturning an assumption that the membrane of the chloroplast — an organelle within plant cells that is responsible for photosynthesis — was impervious. “We had real-time video of particles going into this seemingly impenetrable chloroplast,” he says. The method, known as lipid exchange envelope penetration (LEEP), allows scientists to calculate where a nanoparticle will go to inside a cell — such as into the chloroplast or another organelle — or whether it will remain in the cytosol, the fluid that surrounds the organelles. This information can inform the design of nanoparticles that carry gene-editing machinery to targeted areas to rewrite the plant’s genome and imbue it with properties such as pest and disease resistance.

In particular, researchers are exploiting the CRISPR gene-editing system to engineer food crops that offer higher yields, or plants that produce compounds used in medications. The technology, for which Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, allows specific stretches of DNA to be targeted for editing, deletion or replacement. . .

 


Rural round-up

05/08/2022

Foot-and-mouth – the stock disease that could inflict a huge economic cost on our economy if Biosecurity defences fail – Point of Order:

Ray Smith,  director-general  of  the  Ministry for Primary Industries,  sent  a  shiver  through  the  NZ  China  Summit in Auckland  when  he  warned  that  foot-and-mouth  disease  getting  into NZ   would  be  a  “scary”  and  a “gigantic thing”.

The  highly  contagious  disease has  been  sweeping  through Indonesia  and  since  it  was  first discovered  in  May  429,000 cases   have  been  identified    through  24   provinces  including Bali,  a  popular  holiday  destination  for many  New  Zealanders.

Indonesia  is  struggling  to  bring the  disease under  control, underlining  what  a problem  it  could  be  for NZ’s  main  export  industries.

The disease, which could cost the country billions of dollars and more than 100,000 jobs if it ran rampant among our livestock, is causing major concern in South Asia. After  the disease was discovered in Bali fragments of the virus that cause the disease have also been found in meat products entering Australia from Indonesia, creating fresh concerns about the possibility of it arriving in New Zealand.  . . . 

Red meat sector defies global supply chain issues :

New Zealand exported red meat worth $1.1 billion during June despite the ongoing global supply chain issues affecting sheepmeat and beef volumes, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The 15 per cent increase in value compared to June 2021 was largely driven by beef exports, particularly to China. Although the total volume of beef exports was down seven per cent, the overall value was up 23 per cent to $504 million. The value of beef exports to China was up 39 per cent to $217m.

The overall volume of sheepmeat exported was largely unchanged compared to last June, at 32,470 tonnes, with value up 15 per cent to $398m. Volumes of chilled sheepmeat exports, however, continued to drop, down 31 per cent to 2,253 tonnes.

Sheepmeat exports to China saw a drop in both volume (21 per cent) and value (31 per cent) compared to the same period last year, but this was offset for by increases in exports to other major sheepmeat markets. . . 

Wool supply concern prompts Bremworth to consider contracting farmers –  Sally Murphy:

Carpet company Bremworth is looking at the option of providing farmers with long-term contracts to secure supply.

Strong wool prices have been subdued for years now – which has led many farmers to leave their wool in their sheds in the hope they will be able to get better prices in the future.

Bremworth chief executive Greg Smith said it has been a challenging time for farmers so the company wanted to provide more security to them while ensuring a secure supply of wool.

“The foundation of our businesses is 100 percent strong wool and at the moment, the strong wool industry is under enormous pressure because of prices. It’s a commodity which is not being valued as much as it has been in the past. . . 

Farmers, there’s plenty to celebrate:

“Despite yesterday’s Federated Farmers Confidence Survey results, there are many positives for the agricultural and horticultural sectors right now,” says National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

The survey conducted last month showed production expectations have dropped into negative territory for the first time since its inception in 2009.

Of the 1200 surveyed, 47% consider current economic conditions to be bad — down 55.6 points since January, when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good. A net 80% expect general economic conditions to get worse — up 16.9 points for the same period.

“These results are mood driven by what is coming at them driven by other factors outside their control like the Government’s fiscal policy. But the biggest culprit is compliance, mounting regulation, economic, business, environment costs and debt. . . 

Wool stations put a new spin on teaching children :

A project that educates children about wool will see its 25,000th student pass through its wool sheds this month.

As part of the Wool in Schools programme, schools can request one of two 20-foot shipping containers that have been converted into wool sheds to visit, so primary students can learn about wool and how it is used.

The half-hour experience involves interactive stations where children learn about wool processes and the different uses and benefits of wool and can even have a go at weaving on a mini loom.

The programme is run by the Campaign for Wool NZ, which aims to raise awareness about the uses and benefits of wool. . . 

NZ Winegrowers announce Fellows for 2022 :

The New Zealand wine industry has recognised the service and dedication of industry icons Dominic Pecchenino, Jim and Rose Delegat, Clive Paton and Phyll Pattie, and Chris Howell, by inducting them as Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

“The Roll of Fellows honours the modern pioneers of the New Zealand wine industry. We wholeheartedly thank Dominic, Jim, Rose, Clive, Phyll and Chris for their years of service, and their role in shaping the New Zealand wine industry to be what it is today,” says Clive Jones, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.

All the 2022 Fellows have worked over many decades for the “betterment of the wine industry,” says Clive. “The work of these individuals enables a small industry like ours to punch above our weight on the world stage, and we thank them for their efforts.” . . 


Rural round-up

01/08/2022

Look up tables undersell carbon capture efforts – RIchard Rennie:

Latest data shows significant disparities between actual averages and the tables.

Farmers and small woodlot owners are missing out on thousands of dollars in carbon payments due to carbon estimation, or look-up tables, falling well short on trees’ actual carbon storage ability.

Forest owners with over 100ha use Field Measurement Assessment (FMA) data, an actual in-forest sampled measurement to assess carbon sequestration. But those with less than 100ha use the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) look-up tables that offer estimates of carbon storage by species.

MPI’s latest FMA data averaged across the country highlights the significant disparities between actual averages and the look-up tables. . . 

As Australia beefs up sheep tracing should NZ follow suit? – Country Life:

New Zealand’s system of tracing sheep movements around the country could be a weak link in protecting against foot and mouth disease, according to a biosecurity risk expert.

However, Aaron Dodd of the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA), says overall New Zealand is in a “really good position” to deal with any outbreak.

Farmers here use a paper-based system to identify and trace whole mobs of sheep as flocks move between farms, saleyards and slaughterhouses, although the industry is encouraging farmers to move online.

The tracing system for sheep is different from the system for cattle and deer, which must be individually tagged under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme. . .

Land of milk and honey – Alice Scott:

A Papakaio farmer’s passion of being in the outdoors has paid off with a win in the ApiNZ national honey awards.Steve Kirkman agrees he quite literally comes from the land of milk and honey.

The contract dairy milker is also a commercial honey producer and recently his Hyde Honey Co won three medals at the ApiNZ National Honey Competition, including a gold medal in the clear honey category.

Mr Kirkman, who farms at Papakaio with his wife Belinda and their three children, entered their honey into the competition for the first time this year.

“We wanted to enter to get some feedback and find out what it might take to perhaps one day win a medal. We certainly didn’t expect to do as well as we did.” . . 

Kiwifruit growers to vote on expanding sun gold variety year round – Sally Murphy:

Kiwifruit growers can now vote on whether they think Zespri should increase plantings of the lucrative SunGold variety in existing production locations overseas.

The kiwifruit marketer wants to increase plantings in Italy, France, Greece, Korea and Japan by up to 10,000 hectares to ensure it has SunGold to sell all year round.

Voting on the proposal opened on 28 July and growers have until 24 August to cast their vote; the idea needs 75 percent of growers support to pass.

Company chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert said the current approval of 5000 hectares for Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit outside of New Zealand was not going to produce sufficient fruit to achieve 12-month supply in key markets. . . 

MPI reminds farmers stock transport companies are checking NAIT declaration :

The Ministry for Primary Industries is reminding farmers that stock transport companies are checking their cattle and deer are tagged and registered under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme.

Under the NAIT scheme all cattle or deer must be fitted with a NAIT tag and registered in the NAIT system by the time the animal is 180 days old, or before the animal is moved off farm.

MPI’s national manager of animal welfare and NAIT compliance Gray Harrison says transporting an untagged animal is an offence and transporters could be liable unless the truck driver has a declaration from the supplier stating the animals are tagged and registered.

“Under recently changed rules, livestock transporters can request a declaration as an alternative to physically checking for tags. This recognises that checking individual cattle for NAIT tags early in the morning when it is dark, ahead of a busy schedule of other stops, is easier said than done.” . . 

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2207/S00440/new-zealands-top-bacon-and-ham-announced.htm

https://www.levernews.com/governments-are-ignoring-an-easy-climate-fix/


Rural round-up

28/07/2022

Devil in the detail of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

Free trade agreement’s finer points are still being worked out – and not all of them are going NZ’s way, says Beef+Lamb policy tsar.

Meat exporters are already facing a reduction in their new access to the European Union market, just weeks after New Zealand apparently concluded a free trade agreement with the bloc.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travelled to Brussels in Belgium last month to clinch the deal with the EU after four years of negotiations.

But Beef+Lamb NZ’s general manager for policy and advocacy Dave Harrison said negotiations between the EU and NZ had not stopped with the PM’s announcement. . . 

Right time and right place(ment) – Leo Argent:

With labour shortages a grim reality for many farmers across the country – and no end in sight – recruitment agencies have seen demand increase drastically.

With offices in Timaru and Ashburton, overseeing areas ranging from Darfield to Invercargill, Wendy Robertson has run Personnel Placements (PPL) for 22 years, Gaye Scott oversees PPL’s agricultural team, which is involved in jobs ranging from dairy to meat to horticulture.

As a recruitment agency, PPL puts candidates on a database who can then be sent out for clients for work. Along with part-time and full-time jobs, agencies also cover permanent and temporary employment placement, saving clients the time and cost involved in interviewing prospective employees.

Robertson told Rural News that agriculture is an important part of her business’ success and that a large part of the agriculture team’s work is in seasonal jobs. . .

 

 

New Tech promises to make shearing sheep less of a drag – Tim Lee:

Australia’s shearer workforce has dwindled from about 15,000 when wool prices were booming in the 1980s to about 2800.

The pandemic has further reduced the small pool of skilled labour and woolgrowers who are struggling to get their sheep shorn.

Australian Wool Innovation chairman Jock Laurie said Covid had made the problem worse.

“The border closures have stopped people moving across borders and stopped the New Zealanders coming in,” Laurie said. . . 

Fonterra welcomes Milk-E New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker :

New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker, Milk-E, has been officially launched by the Minister for Energy and Resources, Hon. Dr Megan Woods, in Morrinsville.

Local Government, Iwi, Industry and Fonterra employees were also present to recognise the significant milestone in the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s heavy transport, while also recognising the team behind the build.

Named by Fonterra farmer Stephen Todd from Murchison, Milk-E is part of Fonterra’s fleet decarbonisation work, which is one of a number of programmes that’s helping the Co-op towards becoming a leader in sustainability.

“Right across the Co-op our teams are constantly looking at how we can decrease our emissions – from on farm, to at our sites and throughout our transport network,” said Chief Operating Officer, Fraser Whineray. . . 

Baseline set for subsurface irrigation trial :

While Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson are disappointed not to have collected the data they were hoping for from their subsurface drip irrigation trial due to a wet summer, the couple have established a baseline for the next irrigation season which they hope will follow a more normal weather pattern to enable data collection.

Gary and Penny are participating in a farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

The subsurface drip irrigation system on their two-hectare test block in Cust consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . .

The Walking Access Commission changes its name:

Trails aren’t just for walkers, they’re for all of us – and so is Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, formerly the Walking Access Commission.

Our new name recognises more than the breadth of trail users, which range from people in tramping boots to fishing waders, sitting astride a horse or a bike, shouldering a rifle or pushing a stroller. Herenga ā Nuku refers to the rich connections we find on the trail – with the whenua and its stories, with ourselves and with each other.

Herenga is a bond, obligation or tie. Nuku refers to Papatūānuku, the earth mother. She is the land in all her beauty, power, strength and inspiration. She sustains us.

Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa – connecting people, connecting places. . .


Rural round-up

11/07/2022

Foot and Mouth for NZ is worse than Covid – what is Labour doing? – Cactus Kate:

Why are New Zealand media not reporting on the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bali?

While there are a lot of Australians there presently, there will be during school holidays more than a few New Zealanders, if not now.

The Aussies are worried enough to be pumping out the articles in media.  Google right now there is a healthy sense of panic brewing.

The team of $55m? Silent apart from this.  Should New Zealand be hit again with it the result would be an apocalypse the likes the country has never seen. . . 

The above post was published four days ago. The next one was published yesterday:

Campaign to rise FMD awareness for travellers :

Biosecurity New Zealand is stepping up its work at the border with a campaign to ensure travellers do their part to protect farmers from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), says deputy director general Stuart Anderson.

Foot-and-mouth disease is in many countries, including Malaysia, China and most recently Indonesia. It’s a good time to remind people arriving in New Zealand how important it is that they follow our strict biosecurity rules to protect against FMD.

“From next week, arriving passengers will notice more information about FMD in the in-flight airline announcements and in arrival halls. We will also provide people with a check sheet of dos and don’ts with regard to FMD, and further promote FMD awareness on social media.

“Our border staff will also step-up searches of baggage for passengers who have travelled from Indonesia, including focussing inspections of footwear and disinfecting them at the airport if required.” . . .

Hands off farm carbon capture NP – Neal Wallace:

The National Party is reserving judgment on He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) but has taken issue with a Climate Change Commission proposal to change the rules of on-farm sequestration.

Barbara Kuriger, the party’s agriculture spokesperson, said she is disappointed the commission is recommending the removal of carbon sequestration by farm vegetation from HWEN, instead proposing to combine it with biodiversity and other environmental outcomes in a whole new system.

“If farmers are going to be charged for their on-farm emissions they should also be rewarded for on-farm sequestration either through He Waka Eke Noa or the Emissions Trading Scheme,” she said.

“The commission should not overcomplicate things. Its first priority must be emissions.” . . 

Getting the EU trade deal across the line – Sharon Brettkelly:

Before New Zealand’s free trade agreement with the European Union comes into force, it’ll have to be translated into the 23 different languages of the region. 

But considering what it took to get it over the line – and the fact many in the EU don’t even want it – the translation of the document is just one of the many complicated aspects of the deal. 

“We are worth nothing to them,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade deputy secretary Vangelis Vitalis told a room of several hundred farmers and other primary industry leaders this week. 

He said he shared their frustration of “where we had to land with Europe on beef and dairy”.  . . 

Desperate Banks Peninsular farmers enduring months of no rainfall – Kim Moodie:

A Banks Peninsula farmer says he has had no reprieve from drought conditions in the region and locals say they have not seen the region’s paddocks so parched in years.

NIWA’s latest climate summary shows the nationwide average temperature last month was 9.9C, making it the eighth-warmest June since records began back in 1909.

The report said rainfall levels were below normal, or well below normal, for the time of year for many western and inland parts of New Zealand.

Soil moisture levels in the eastern-most parts of Otago and Canterbury were significantly abnormal for this time of year at the end of June. . . 

Boosting rural connectivity aims to deliver sustainable benefits to Kiwi farmers:

New funding will help boost internet connectivity for remote rural communities.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund is co-investing $149,500 to help WISPA Network Limited (WNL) tackle the commercial roll-out of a collaborative delivery model for a nationwide, rural-focused LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network).

“Patchy network connection remains a significant barrier to many farmers looking to adopt agricultural technology solutions,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

“Improving connectivity in remote rural areas of New Zealand would help lift productivity and equip farmers and growers with tools to improve sustainability. . . .

 

Kind face No. 1 provider of premium wool cushion inners in NZ :

In 2020, when most operations for business establishments halted due to COVID-19, Chris Larcombe saw an opportunity amidst the pandemic. With the lack of supplies for face masks, Chris and his team designed and put together triple-layered, reusable face masks. And Kind Face was born.

Their customers love their products because they focus on natural materials and sustainable practices.

No home is complete without cushions on the couch, and they have been a part of every home for centuries.

In a world filled with synthetic fibres and foams, Kind Face offers natural wool pearl cushion inner. It is a handmade cushion inner made from wool. It is a non-allergenic product, offers better moisture management, and is guaranteed 100% to add a little softness and comfort to your home. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/07/2022

Feds slam miserly EU meat and dairy quotas :

The trade deal with the EU is a slap in the face for New Zealand farmers, Federated Farmers says.

“That the Europeans’ protectionist mindset on livestock products remains entrenched is sadly not a surprise but the very small quotas agreed are considerably worse than we expected,” Feds President and trade spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently stated that she will come home from the EU without a deal if there isn’t a good one on the table. This is what she should have done.

The beef quota for New Zealand is 10,000 tonnes, just 0.1% of the 6.5m tonnes of beef Europeans consume each year. The EU has a cheese market of 9.5 million tonnes. After seven years New Zealand exporters will have access to just 0.14% of this market. . . 

Lake Hawea farmer hits back at critics :

A Lake Hawea farmer has hit back at critics accusing his practices of being woke nonsense at Australasia’s first certified carbon zero farm, saying no sector advances “without the trial of new and ideally better ways”.

Last Sunday’s episode of Hyundai Country Calendar profiled Lake Hawea Station, near Wanaka, and owners Kiwi entrepreneurs and 42 Below vodka company founders Geoff and Justine Ross.

It quickly attracted an intense online backlash from those purporting to be from parts of the farming sector, leading to the TVNZ show replying to the criticism on its Facebook page.

With the goal of becoming 10 times climate positive, the couple also introduced alternative techniques to the woolshed to improve animal welfare, including switching music from AC/DC’s Thunderstruck to Vivaldi. . .

Waikato creating a buzz on international stage as Raglan couple win silver at London honey awards – Danielle Zollickhofer:

Raglan honey business Hunt and Gather Bee Co is creating an international buzz as its Kānuka honey won a silver medal at the London International Honey Awards.

Together with Te Aroha-based company Ora Foods whose Raw Manuka Honey (UMF 25+) won gold, Hunt and Gather Bee Co is the only Waikato brand that was recognised in the awards out of 17 New Zealand winners.

Hunt and Gather Bee Co’s honey has already won some national awards, including the Outstanding Food Producer Awards, but getting international recognition was unexpected for founders Hannah and Rory O’Brien. . . .

Relief as just one cheese has to be renamed in EU trade deal – Rebecca Ryan:

When you say cheese your feta had better be Greek.

As part of the free-trade agreement signed between New Zealand and the European Union yesterday, new geographic indications that protect the names of products that originate from specific areas will be introduced, preventing cheeses produced in New Zealand from being branded as “feta”, beloved to Greece, in nine years’ time.

However, the industry has not been as fettered by the deal as had been initially feared.

Whitestone Cheese managing director Simon Berry said it was a relief that only feta would need to be rebranded for now. . .

Plant-based testosterone in pine pollen offers high value opportunity :

Pine pollen containing a rare natural source of plant-based testosterone could prove a goldmine for New Zealand’s forestry sector.

Pine Pollen New Zealand Limited, trading under the name Bio Gold, has received $288,500 in Government funding through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to lay the foundations for a pine pollen industry in New Zealand.

“Pine pollen has been consumed for health and wellbeing in China, South Korea and Japan for more than 3000 years,” says Bio Gold founder Carl Meyer.

“It’s been found to contain a naturally occurring testosterone, and lately there’s been a new wave of interest from the natural health industry in the United States and Canada.” . .

 

Fonterra, NZX and EEX confirm GDT strategic partnership:

Fonterra today confirms the finalisation of the strategic partnership with New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX) and the European Energy Exchange (EEX) to each take ownership stakes in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) alongside the Co-op.

As announced in February 2022, the partnership was subject to the approval of Boards, clearance from relevant competition law authorities, and finalisation of transaction documentation. With those approvals now received, Fonterra, NZX and EEX each hold an equal one-third (33.33%) shareholding in the global dairy auction platform GDT as of 30 June 2022.

CFO Marc Rivers says the confirmation of the strategic partnership is an important milestone for Fonterra and global dairy participants.

“The move to a broader ownership structure marks the next step in the evolution of GDT – giving it a presence in prominent international dairy producing regions, with greater participation expected at GDT events. . .


Rural round-up

27/06/2022

Seed cleaning ingenuity earns global spotlight – Rebecca Ryan:

From a shed in Awamoko, Johnny Neill is getting global attention as he grows his mobile seed cleaning empire. He talks to Rebecca Ryan about how he got into the industry and started building world-leading mobile seed cleaning machines in rural North Otago.

When Johnny Neill was first approached to build a mobile seed cleaning machine, he had no idea what it was.

Fast forward 20 years, and the world is watching the Oamaru man making advances in mobile seed cleaning that no-one ever imagined were possible.

Mr Neill grew up on a dairy farm on the Taieri Plain and finished his secondary school years at Waitaki Boys’ High School. After a stint in dairy farming, he moving to the North Island, where he trained as an engineer and met his partner Kim Lyttle. . . 

Strategy will help farming face change – Annette Scott:

Te Puna Whakaaronui Thought Leaders group chair Lain Jager says New Zealand needs a strategy that will take the country forward as a nation.

He says there is a short window of opportunity to invest and make progress.

Strategies that are incomplete will not attract investment and if you can’t invest in them then you can’t move forward.

“Without clear strategy and capacity to implement change this country will go backwards,” Jager told the E Tipu Boma Agri Summit in Christchurch. . . 

Half year report is a mixed bag – Mel Croad:

At the halfway mark for the year, sheep and beef farmers are searching for some clarity in terms of what the rest of the season is going to look like. But after a roller coaster couple of years, there is no blueprint to follow. 

Breaking it down, market conditions are mixed at best.

For lamb, global markets appear more comfortable with dialling down pricing expectations. 

These lower asking prices and softer demand stretch across most key markets.  . .

Award respect rural health contribution – RIchard Davison:

A rural South Otago GP says his recent national award is recognition for the wider community.

Dr Branko Sijnja has been named recipient of the Peter Snow Memorial Award for 2022.

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network gives the award each year to medical professionals making outstanding contributions to rural health.

Dr Sijnja (75) has been a GP in Balclutha since 1980, and retires from his role as Director of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP) at Otago School of Medicine — his alma mater — next week . . .

Owners of unproductive land encouraged to grow black diamonds :

A Bay of Plenty truffle company is sharing the secrets of the industry in a bid to get landowners growing ‘black diamonds’ across the country.

Ohiwa Black Diamond Truffles is receiving more than $155,000 of Government funding over three years to share its knowledge with interested growers so New Zealand can grow enough truffles for a robust export industry. The business is also researching and developing new truffle products that incorporate the health benefits of truffles with traditional Māori rongoā (healing).

The business is run by Ohiwa-based couple Matui Hudson and Annette Munday. Since partnering with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund last year, they have held three workshops on truffle growing, with more lined up over the coming weeks.

“We’ve already received orders for around 10,000 inoculated truffle seedlings from several hapū, and we’ve helped a Kawhia whānau set up their truffière,” says Ms Munday. . . 

Chatham Island Food Co wins the top gong at the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards :

Producers spanning the breadth of Aotearoa from the Chatham Islands to Akaroa and its length from Southland to Northland were among the Champions in this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, with Chatham Island Food Co named Supreme Champion 2022.

It’s the first time in the awards six-year history that seafood has taken out the top award.

Established by seventh-generation Chatham Islander, Delwyn Tuanui and his wife Gigi, Chatham Island Food Co has turned the Chatham Islands distance into a positive. It’s isolation – 800 kms east of the South Island – means a pristine environment which is reflected in the flavour and quality of its harvest. The business processes its marine harvest on the island, freezing in the flavour to share with seafood lovers across New Zealand.

Studying agriculture in Melbourne in the early 2000s was life-changing for Del. He met Gigi on his first day and came to appreciate the love for quality of seafood from the Chathams when cooking it for friends and later supplying it to top Sydney and Melbourne restaurants. In 2015 the pair purchased a rundown fish-processing plant on Wharekauri and Chatham Island Food Co began in earnest. Now they employ 25 staff and work with 30 fishing boats. . . 


Rural round-up

22/06/2022

Rural backbone of regions expected to stand up better to economic woes:

Rural economies are expected to outperform their urban counterparts in the year ahead, due to the strong demand for agricultural exports.

Westpac Bank’s annual Regional Roundup report forecasts economic growth would slow in the year ahead, as high inflation and rising interest rates put pressure on household budgets.

But the severity of the slowdown would be felt differently across the country.

The outlook for the cities, in particular Wellington and Auckland, would be challenging because they had two of the worst performing housing markets in recent months. . . 

Farmers urged to tell their stories, develop brand – Sally Rae:

“Farmers are the world’s rock stars.”

That was the message from entrepreneur Justine Ross to more than 400 farmers, industry representatives and sponsors attending the two-day South Island Dairy Event (Side) in Oamaru yesterday.

But farmers also needed to be brave “and a little bit louder” as they were terrible at telling their stories, which consumers around the world were craving to hear.

“They want to hear about your farms, hear about your life. They want to know you,” Mrs Ross said. . . 

NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards 2022 open :

The NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards 2022 are now open for entries.

The Awards, run by Rural Women New Zealand and insurance company NZI, take place each year and are designed to celebrate rural women entrepreneurs.

Rural Women New Zealand national president Gill Naylor says the Awards are a great opportunity to showcase the contributions rural women entrepreneurs make to rural communities.

“We are delighted that NZI will join us for the sixth year as our Premier Partner in presenting the Awards. . . 

Science and genetics boost Fernside farm :

Fernside dairy farmer Julie Bradshaw has applied learnings from a five-year National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) irrigation study to make science-based decisions while also using genetics to improve her herd with the overall goal of reducing the farm’s environmental footprint.

Julie is participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovative approaches to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

From 2016 to 2021 Julie and a group of five neighbouring farmers participated in a co-innovation study which provided landowners with real time data and forecasts to make science-based irrigation decisions.

The data included measured rainfall, soil moisture, soil temperature, drainage, and estimated evaporation as well as two, six and 15-day rainfall and weather forecasts. . . 

Laura Marston from Craggy Range takes out Hawkes Bay 2022 Corveta Young Vit title :

Congratulations to Laura Martson from Craggy Range who took out the title of Corteva Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year 2022.

The competition took place in the stunning Paritua vineyards in Bridge Pa Triangle on 16 June 2022 with eight contestants competing for the title.

Congratulations also goes to Douw Grobler from Trinity Hill who came second and Robbie Golding from Crab Farm, who came third.

The judges commented on the professional and positive attitude of all the contestants and that there are many passionate and talented young people in the Hawke’s Bay wine industry. The other contestants were Daniel Brewster from AONZ, Jamie Scoon from Te Mata, Joseph Stenberg from Woodthorpe Terraces and Jessica Sunderland-Wells and Sarah St George, both from Villa Maria. . .

Innovative Pāmu deer milk product wins prestigious global award :

Pāmu’s awarding winning Deer Milk won the Best Dairy Ingredient category at the World Dairy Innovation Awards, announced in Laval, France overnight.

Pāmu Chief Executive Mark Leslie says the win in these prestigious awards is a validation of the hard work and innovation that has gone into creating an all-new product for the agri-sector.

“All New Zealanders, as shareholders in Pāmu should be really proud of this win, at what is essentially the World Cup for the dairy sector.

“Our deer milk product has been steadily growing in popularity among high end chefs and as a unique new ingredient in cosmetics. But that’s not where it ends. . . 


Rural round-up

30/05/2022

Fonterra announces record opening milk price payment for its farmers next season as demand remains strong – Point of Order:

New Zealand  has  suffered  several  jolts  in  the  past week, not  least a  higher interest rate regime as the Reserve  Bank counters  surging inflation.  But  at least  one  beacon of  light shines through the gloom:  the country’s leading primary  export  industry’s boom   is  moving  to a  second  season  of high prices.

Dairy  giant Fonterra,  which sets  the  pace  for  other dairy processors,  has announced a record opening milk price payment for farmers next season amid expectations of continued strong demand for dairy products and constrained global supply.

The co-op expects to pay farmers between $8.25 and $9.75kg/MS  for the season starting next month.  The mid-point, on which farmers are paid, is $9 kg/MS.

That breaks the previous record set at this time last year, when Fonterra’s opening price for the current season was $7.25 – $8.75kg/MS, with a mid-point of $8kg/MS. . . 

Rural mental health ignored again this budget :

The Government was made well aware of mental health concerns for rural communities in a meeting in December last year, this Budget has neglected to do anything to address this crisis, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“It is dead clear from the minutes we received under the Official Information Act that everyone around the table could see that things were bad and getting worse” Kuriger says

“The minutes note that clear themes emerged from a discussion of the drivers of poor mental health, including: workforce shortages, public perception of farmers, and the pace of new regulations.

“If they didn’t already know, it is clear that in December the Prime Minister and Minister O’Connor knew what was happening to our rural communities and were asked by rural sector leaders for help, they’ve had all this time to make a plan but have still done nothing in this budget to address it. . . 

Zespri global revenue exceeds $NZ 4 billion for first time despite challenging 2021-22 season:

. . . A record crop, ongoing investment in brand-led demand creation, and the industry’s ability to respond and leverage its scale and structure have helped Zespri deliver a record result for the 2021/22 season, with total global fruit sales revenue exceeding NZ$4 billion for the first time.

In spite of the immense challenges faced by the industry this season, Zespri’s 2021/22 Financial Results show total global revenue generated by fruit sales reached NZ$4.03 billion, up 12 percent on the previous year, with total global operating revenue up by 15 percent to NZ$4.47 billion. Global sales volumes also increased 11 percent on the previous year to 201.5 million trays.

The results saw direct returns to the New Zealand industry increase to a record $2.47 billion including loyalty payments, despite the considerable uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and cost increases across the supply chain. Earnings were again spread through regional communities including within the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Nelson, Gisborne, and the Waikato. . . 

Grower returns remained strong in a challenging season, with per hectare returns representing our second best on record across all varieties: . . 

Top ploughers head to Ireland to compete in world championship – Kim Moodie:

New Zealand’s best ploughing talent is set to represent the country in Ireland this year at the World Ploughing Championships. 

Ian Woolley and Bob Mehrtens, who took out the top titles at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Seddon earlier this month, are now preparing to compete against the world’s best in September.

Woolley, who won the Silver Plough conventional competition, told RNZ he’s excited to compete, and to soak up the atmosphere, as the event draws a huge crowd.

“It’s basically their National Field Days, there’s 100,000-odd people there each day for three days, although the plowing is on the outskirts of where the main show is taking place. . . 

Silver Fern Farms partnership between consumers and farmers key to nature positive food production :

Silver Fern Farms today celebrated the launch of its USDA-approved Net Carbon Zero By Nature 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef at a New York City event attended by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Held at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi rooftop in Chelsea, the Prime Minister was joined by the visiting New Zealand trade mission, Silver Fern Farms US customers and in-market partners, and New York and U.S. national media. The event was to celebrate the successful introduction of Net Carbon Zero By Nature Angus Beef to the U.S., which is already being sold in supermarkets in the New York Tri-state area, the Midwest, and California.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says closer partnerships between consumers and farmers through products like Net Carbon Zero beef hold the key to addressing our collective climate and environmental challenges.

“As New Zealand’s largest processor and marketer of red meat, we are in a unique position to build closer partnerships between the needs of discerning customers and our farmers in a way that incentivises nature-positive food production,” says Simon Limmer. . . 

MPI announces finalists in 2022 good employer awards :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) have announced finalists for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.

Now in their third year, the Awards are run by MPI and AGMARDT to celebrate employers who put their people at the heart of their businesses.

“We received a number of impressive entries,” says MPI’s Director Investment, Skills and Performance, Cheyne Gillooly.

“Central to all of the entries was a real passion shown by businesses towards supporting their employees by putting their health, welfare and wellbeing first.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/04/2022

Rural focus missed in health reform – Neal Wallace:

Rural communities should be a priority health focus alongside women, Māori, Pacific and people with disabilities in the Government’s health reforms, according to a NZ Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN) submission.

The NZRGPN says the proposed legislation ignores the needs of 740,000 rural people and will mean the continuation of poorer health outcomes for those living in rural communities.

The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill, which amalgamates the country’s District Health Boards into a centralised body, will be reported back to Parliament later this month.

Despite the economic importance of rural-based industries, the network claims that unless “rural people” is added to the Bill as an identified priority population, then health inequities and the rural health staffing crisis will continue. . . 

Government regs take their toll on hort growers – Peter Burke:

Horticulture NZ’s chair is genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of growers with confidence at rock bottom.

Barry O’Neil told Rural News the pressure that growers are facing is on many fronts, including a plethora of new government regulations. He says 2022 will be the hardest year the sector has experienced for many and the heat is on growers because of this.

“It’s not just Covid, it’s all the other issues that are building in respect to the environmental settings the Government wants to achieve,” O’Neil explains. “There are shipping disruptions, labour shortages and rising costs on orchard as well.

“It’s not just about change – this is about the amount of change and the speed at which this happening.”  . . .

Planting trees ‘binds our community’ – Sally Rae:

“We are all in this together.”

As Emeritus Professor Henrik Moller points out, although 90% of voters live in urban centres, New Zealand’s biological industries — particularly farming and forestry — earn about 60% of the country’s national income.

Urban dwellers often went “hunting and gathering in supermarkets” and there was increasingly less understanding of the struggles their rural counterparts had.

“The more we understand, meet and support each other, the safer our country will be. Our future depends on it,” he said. . . 

‘Right tree, right place’ plan proffered

Environment Southland has proposed a “right tree, right place” policy in response to concerns about forestry taking over pastoral land as climate change bites.

In an extraordinary meeting of the council earlier this month, Environment Southland discussed its response to a document released by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) which proposes changes to forestry settings in the New Zealand emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The MPI is considering changes to the ETS, including a blanket ban on exotic forestry receiving carbon credits or a ban on nominated exceptions. Keeping the status quo is also being considered.

There is a concern good pastoral land is being eaten up by forestry being planted to earn carbon credits, which have more than doubled in price since June 2020. . . 

New research shows opportunity for NZ wool in US :

New research has found that Americans have different ideas about wool compared to New Zealanders – one that offers growers a huge opportunity.

The research commissioned by the Campaign for Wool NZ (CFWNZ) found a large education gap in how US consumers think about wool, CFWNZ chairman Tom O’Sullivan said.

“For example, 53% think of cashmere when they hear the word wool. Although they are aware of wool, it sits quite a bit lower down in their consciousness when compared to New Zealand consumers.”

The research by Fresh Perspective Insight canvassed 3000 consumers across three markets – New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States in November last year. . . 

JB Fairfax Award to Kate Newsome – Andrew Norris :

A budding journalist from Glen Innes with a passion to provide a voice for people in rural areas has been awarded the 14th JB Fairfax Award for Rural and Regional Journalism and Communications.

Kate Newsome has been undertaking a bachelor of arts and bachelor of advanced studies in media and communications at the University of Sydney, said the award’s benefactor, John Fairfax, during his presentation to Kate at Sydney Royal Show.

“… we need talented and well-trained journalists, individuals who can bring to all of us … balance and factual accounts of the many things that affect our lives,” he said.

“Kate is a great girl and she hopes to use a career in the media to bring greater attention to many of these issues.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

26/04/2022

91 students enrolled with Growing Future Farmers in 2022:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) funds Growing Future Farmers (GFF) who aims to accelerate a graduate’s career from entry level Essential Farm Skills programme to advanced Farm Skills and Business Management.

GFF recently reported that 31 second year students and 60 first year students enrolled in the programme for the 2022 intake.

With a total of 91 students enrolled in 2022 Growing Future Farmers is cemented as the largest training organisation of its type in the country,” says GFF General Manager Cyn Smith.

Growing Future Farmers combines a range of specialised industry training and development with formal NZQA learning that includes classroom lectures, independent study, and group sessions. It is a two-year programme (46 weeks each year) with placements in 10 regions throughout the country. . . 

Winegrowers hopeful better harvest will allow renewal of stocks – Nicholas Pointon:

The 2022 grape harvest looks to have rebounded from the disappointment of last year allowing bigger production and winemakers to refill their cellars, after stocks were depleted a year ago.

The 2021 harvest was nearly 20 percent smaller than the previous year because of poor weather and wineries had to draw down on their reserves to meet market demand.

But reports are coming through from some makers of a much better year, with the stock exchange-listed company Foley Wines reporting its 2022 harvest was likely to be two-thirds higher than last year.

“The team across the business did a remarkable job in very difficult conditions,” chief executive Mark Turnbull said in a statement. . . 

 

Ukraine export woes prompt sunflower oil business to amend plans – Sally Murphy :

A New Zealand company is looking to more than treble its production of sunflower oil in response to global shortages.

Ukraine is the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil but due to the war its production is expected to be down 40 percent this season.

In a normal year it produces 7.5 tonnes of the oil each year, 7 million tonnes are exported.

Ukraine’s main sunflower oil producer is Kernel, its chief executive Ilevgen Osypov told CNN they’re struggling to get product to ports for export. . . 

Apiculture NZ secures funding for honey sector strategy :

Apiculture New Zealand has successfully secured funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, for a two-year project that will help identify how the New Zealand apiculture sector can achieve sustainable growth.

“The aim of the project is to establish a strategic direction for the apiculture sector by identifying actionable measures to enable sustainable value growth. This will be driven by a shared purpose, derived from engagement with all participants in the sector,” says Karin Kos, CE Apiculture NZ.

“The sector experienced huge growth following the quick escalation in demand from international consumers for New Zealand’s mānuka honey. But in many ways the sector’s response to meet that new demand has been unsustainable. Now is the time to understand how we can capitalise on the opportunities that have emerged, but at a rate that can be lasting, both for participants and the environment. Apiculture NZ welcomes the Government’s support to help us realise that goal,” says Ms Kos.

The work will look at opportunities to capture more value at all levels of the sector and understand what type of transformation, capability and innovation will be required to capture that value sustainably. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series regional finals a success :

The road to the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final is underway, with all regional finals now finished and competitors selected.

Seven FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalists, 14 FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year teams (28 competitors) and 21 AgriKidsNZ teams (63 competitors) will be heading to Whangarei to battle it out for the top awards, this July.

Wanting to celebrate the regional final season loudly and proudly, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO Lynda Coppersmith has called it an absolute success.

“To have travelled across the country during the omicron outbreak, held seven great regional finals with minimum disruptions and selected all our incredible competitors – all with no outbreaks at our events – is a testament to our exceptional teams and volunteers who put this contest together and their dedication and resilience. . . 

Award-winning riverfront cropping and grazing property is place don the market for sale :

A multi-award-winning agricultural block which has been diligently nurtured for generations to produce high cropping yields and grazing conditions has been placed on the market for sale.

The flat contoured 109-hectare property close to Wairoa between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay is known as Whakapau Farm and has sustained seasonal cropping of vegetables and grains, along with fattening of sheep and beef.

Whakapau Farm has been awarded multiple accolades by Hawke’s Bay-based agricultural and horticultural produce company Cedenco, including highest yield for sweet corn, Organic Grower of the Year, Highest Gross Return, and highest yield. . . 


Rural round-up

07/04/2022

Govt tightening screw on rural communities :

In allowing spiralling costs and rampant inflation to hit New Zealand’s most productive sector, the Labour Government is biting the hand that literally feeds it, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“New Zealand’s agricultural sector is seeing a dramatic rise in input costs as farmers and growers grapple with the same cost of living crisis that is impacting us all.

“The increase in costs is being felt particularly badly by our farmers. In the last year, the cost of fuel has risen more than 44 per cent, fertiliser more than 28 per cent, stock feed and grazing more than six per cent, seeds six percent and power 21 per cent.

“If you want to go out and buy a new Toyota Hilux you’ll now be paying an extra $5175 in ‘ute tax’ when registering it – and Labour will soon be introducing legislation requiring employers pay a 1.4 per cent levy on employees’ salaries into a new ‘income insurance scheme’. . . 

Predictable delays for meat processing :

Meat works around the country are struggling to meet demand due to the Government’s failure to keep pace with a vital cog in the supply chain, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Farmers are being forced to hold onto livestock longer as meat works across the country have wait times stretching up to six weeks. This adds even more pressure to our farmers, with some having to dip into their winter baleage supply early or buy in costly feed supplement alternatives.

“The Agriculture Minister and the Government made assurances that they would take steps to limit any disruption for our essential farming industry, but as predicted, they have failed to do this.

“Labour failed to deliver to bring in the necessary workers due to stringent immigration rules, and they failed to supply the meat works industry with rapid antigen test in a timely manner, causing disruptions to staff. . . 

Nursery aims to make native trees more accessible – Colin Williscroft:

For Adam Thompson, establishing native flora on farmland goes beyond the obvious environmental and biodiversity benefits.

It gives farmers a sense of pride in seeing a piece of marginal, unproductive land transformed into something that complements and enhances their farming operation.

“A lot of farmers are proud of growing food. “We’re helping them do it in a more sustainable way,” Thompson said.

The 35-year-old Cambridge farmer and owner of Restore Native tree nursery wants all farmers to feel that pride by making it as easy and inexpensive as possible to plant and grow native trees on farmland not suited for livestock. . . 

Synlait is confident it is back on the path to pre-2021 profitability levels – Point of Order:

ANZ  reports widespread autumn rain has devastated many arable and fruit crops, but has been welcomed by pastoral farmers.

Food commodities are in short supply globally.  New Zealand will  export less produce than normal this season as production of most  export commodities is impacted for varying reasons including delays with the processing of livestock and the impacts of labour shortages.

So it  was  something of  a  surprise,  but  a  welcome  one,  when Synlait Milk reported  its net profit (excluding the sale of an Auckland property) had risen 128% to $14.5m in the first half.

The  dairy  processing company said it was also on the way to reporting previous levels of profitability in the 2023 financial year after posting a $28.5m loss in 2021. . . 

NZ woolgrowers among sectors hit by China’s Covid-19 restrictions :

A resurgence of Covid-19 within China is causing headaches for some primary sector exporters, with lockdown measures disrupting economic activity and slowing down distribution networks.

China’s ongoing “zero-Covid” strategy uses swift lockdowns and aggressive restrictions to contain any outbreak. As part of this, late last month Shanghai was placed into the biggest city-wide lockdown since the Covid outbreak began more than two years ago.

PGG Wrightson’s South Island wool manager Dave Burridge said demand for wool had dropped off because China’s manufacturing regions had been affected by the Covid-19 restrictions.

“It’s having a direct impact on bottom-line returns to woolgrowers, certainly there is quite a dramatic effect on [prices for] the types [of wool] the Chinese normally buy.” . . 

Almonds a new high-value nut to crack :

Another ‘nutty’ idea could lead to a brand-new almond industry in New Zealand.

Plant & Food Research is embarking on a feasibility study to see if almonds can be grown sustainably in Hawke’s Bay. The project has backing from central and local government, alongside Picot Productions Limited – Kiwi producers of the Pic’s brand nut spreads.

“We’re already supporting peanut growing trials in Northland – now it’s almonds’ turn,” says Steve Penno, Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) director of investment programmes.

“The first step is to see whether we can successfully produce almonds with a low carbon footprint at scale and for a competitive price in New Zealand.” . . 


Rural round-up

18/03/2022

World dairy prices ease from record peak but the industry is the big driver of export receipts as trade deficit widens – Point of Order:

Dairy prices levelled  off  in  Fonterra’s  latest  Global Dairy Trade auction  but  remain  close  to the  peak reached  at  the  previous  auction  a  fortnight  previously.

The GDT price  index  eased 0.9%  to 1579, the second-highest level on record, down from 1593.

Dairy farmers   who  had  seen prices  surge  in  the  past  five  auctions  may  have  been disappointed.  But  as Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny pointed  out, uncertainties around global dairy demand arising from surging Covid-19 case numbers in China, the world’s largest dairy market, is likely to have weighed on prices.

Fonterra  has  steadily  raised  its  forecast payout  to  the  $9.30-$9.90kg/MS range – the  highest it has  ever been – as  the  GDT index  has  climbed  18%  this  season. . .

Kiwifruit harvest needs ‘all the help it can get’ – growers :

With travellers wanting to take a working holiday now able come to Aotearoa for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the kiwifruit industry is highlighting there are plenty of jobs on offer.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Colin Bond said pre-Covid New Zealand welcomed about 50,000 working holidaymakers into the country each year.

His industry required 24,000 seasonal workers for picking and packing roles and backpackers had traditionally make up about one quarter of the workforce.

“This year a record crop of over 190 million trays are forecast to be picked. Each tray has about 30 pieces of kiwifruit, meaning the industry needs all the help it can get.” . . 

Instead of being the best in’ the world be the  best ‘for’ the world – Sarah’s Country:

   In an environment where farmers & growers may be thinking it’s all coming at them, Becks Smith can see the light at the end of the tunnel when we condense the overwhelm and see the challenges through a more holistic approach.  

New Zealand farmers naturally have an inter-generational view of stewardship of their land, but sometimes need support to bring the right expertise together when they are on the next level of their sustainability journey.

Becks Smith discusses with Sarah Perriam, host of Sarah’s Country, how her career journey as a vet in Central Otago, alongside farming with her husband’s family, is evolving into the social enterprise The Whole Story.

She shares her insights into how to take small steps towards change and how important to pull an advisory board around our farmers that are all on the same page. . . 

UK and NZ animal health associations welcome regularity co-operation :

The animal health associations in the UK (NOAH) and New Zealand (Agcarm) have welcomed the publication by the countries’ regulatory agencies of guidance that will enable simultaneous review of animal medicine marketing authorisation applications in the two countries.

Arising from discussions between the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the guidance document ‘United Kingdom-New Zealand Regulatory Cooperation: Guidance on Veterinary Medicines Simultaneous Reviews’ will serve as the foundation to enable these simultaneous reviews to happen.

This comes as a far-reaching trade deal has also been announced between the two countries, which includes an animal welfare chapter with a clear statement that animals are recognised as sentient beings. Provisions include a commitment to increased bilateral cooperation, as well as working together in international fora to enhance animal welfare standards. . .

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual report supports Aotearoa’s beekeepers :

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual Winter Colony Loss survey results are out now and show that the country’s beekeepers are serious about working together to support a strong bee industry.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist Richard Hall says more beekeepers than ever took part in this survey, the seventh so far.

“This level of involvement and our beekeeper’s transparency in self-reporting shows how seriously they take biosecurity, and how valuable Biosecurity New Zealand’s support is in strengthening the bee industry.

“Strong biosecurity systems and management of pests and diseases are essential to production and the data gathered this year will help beekeepers identify where they need to focus their management efforts,” says Dr Hall. . . 

The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road – Jane Jeffries:

Having spent a large part of the summer in the Queenstown region we decided to explore The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road.

I was a little nervous, as I hate scary roads, but secretly wanted to do it. The thought of driving up the Remarkable ski field road makes me anxious, with sheer drops and no barriers. So a rugged road, with tight corners, possible oncoming traffic reeked of danger to me.

This classic piece of New Zealand road is only open in the summer for 4wd vehicles as it’s snow-bound in winter. The valley can be accessed from Bannockburn, just outside of Cromwell or Garston, near Kingston at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu.

Which ever way you start The Nevis, make sure you allow time for a meal at the legendary Bannockburn pub, the food is fabulous.  . .


Rural round-up

07/03/2022

Growers wary of Russia-Ukraine conflict – Annette Scott:

Cropping farmers are wrapping up one of the worst harvests they’ve seen.

Coupled with the threat of the long-term implications of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, things can’t get much worse, United Wheatgrowers chair and Mid Canterbury cropping farmer Brian Leadley said.  

“It’s got beyond urgent for many crops, the damage is done now, particularly for cereals and cut grasses,” Leadley said.

“The weather hasn’t played its part right back from flowering time in December, covid has created logistics issues and now we have the added confusion of the Russia-Ukraine war – both that are large and strong grain growing nations. . . 

Nervous final push ahead for Marlborough wine vintage – Morgane Solignac:

This year’s Marlborough wine vintage is shaping up to be a good one, but pressure is high as the industry navigates Covid, a labour crunch and Mother Nature.

Marlborough contractor Alapa Vineyard Services owner Alan Wilkinson usually employs 250 seasonal workers, but he is 60 per cent down this year with only 100 staff.

“We were supposed to get 22 Samoan workers last November, but they only just arrived last week,” he said.

“Last year we had 70 Thai workers but 20 of them have returned home over the last four months for various reasons. . . 

Diversity for sustainability – Hugh Stringleman:

Concern for the soil structure after summer maize cropping with conventional tillage has led Northland dairy farmers Adam and Laura Cullen to introduce multi-species cover crops over the prior winter and use direct drilling where possible. They are only beginning to see the benefits of this regenerative approach, they told Hugh Stringleman.

Adam Cullen, of Ararua in the Kaipara District, has rediscovered his enthusiasm for agriculture and applies his curiosity to finding new ways of dairying better, says his wife Laura.

The change of mindset prioritises improving the environment and the farm resources rather than constantly driving for production.

But the Cullens are not following a formula or prescription, rather being adaptive to their circumstances and farming conditions. . . 

 

Art for farming’s sake – Peter Burke:

A warning from his wife not to hang around the house and get under her feet when he retires has prompted a Feilding-based farmer to launch himself into a new and successful career – as an artist, painting rural scenes.

Seventy-three year-old Graham Christensen was brought up on a farm and as a youngster helped with shearing and the like before eventually doing a degree at Lincoln University.

His first job was with the old MAF where he managed the sheep breeding programme on Mana Island, near Wellington. . .

2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards open for entries :

The search has begun to find Aotearoa New Zealand’s most exceptional primary sector employers.

Entries have opened for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards, which are run by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT).

“The Awards provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding employers across the primary sector that may otherwise fly under the radar,” said MPI’s director of investment, skills and performance Cheyne Gillooly.

“The sector has been resilient throughout the pandemic and the hard mahi of farmers, growers and processors is leading our export-led recovery from COVID-19. . . 

Death by red meat is unsubstantiated – Frank Frank Mitloehner:

One might expect that a major breakthrough delivered by a well-respected organization – especially when the breakthrough seriously overrides a conclusion drawn merely two years earlier – to be backed by cold, hard facts. And yet, they are woefully absent from a Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) that calls unprocessed red meat an unconditional health risk.

The 2019 report points to a 36-fold higher estimate of deaths attributable to unprocessed red meat consumption than what is outlined in GBD’s 2017 study. In other words, any amount of red meat intake can lead to serious health complications, particularly cancer. The claim is made all the more shocking by the fact that GBD’s previous report assigns relatively low death risk to animal-sourced foods.

Prof. Alice V. Stanton, a world-renowned physician who specializes in the study of pharmacy and biomedical sciences at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is cautioning us not to buy in. After a period of intense work with a team of researchers, that included Stanton, Frédéric Leroy, Christopher Elliott, Neil Mann, Patrick Wall and Stefaan De Smet, their take on GBD’s no-red-meat-ever cry was published in the well-regarded Lancet Feb. 25. The GBD study fails to clarify how it came to its conclusions, Stanton says. 

The GBD report isn’t the only time meat has been castigated. A 2015 study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) tried its best to link meat with certain types of cancer, namely colorectal cancer. The organization eventually released the full scientific basis of its finding, confirming just how weak the evidence linking meat and colorectal cancer is. Amidst confusion, the World Health Organization (WHO) – the parent organization of IARC – came forward to deflate IARC’s claim and reassure the public that meat should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet. . . 


Rural round-up

02/02/2022

Farmers urged to plan for Omicron – Peter Burke:

Farmers are being urged to have good plans in place for dealing with any major community outbreak of Covid-19 and, in particular, the omicron variant.

Will Halliday of Beef+Lamb NZ is part of a pan-primary sector group – which include DairyNZ, MPI, the deer and pork industries and Federated Farmers – that have been preparing advice for farmers to deal with this contingency.

All of these organisations have advice on their respective websites aimed at making it easy for those in the primary sector to plan for such an outbreak.

There are also copies of this information in vet clinics and rural supply stores. . .

Virus stops Cavalcade in its tracks – Shannon Thomson:

“Gut wrenching.” That is how organisers describe the decision to pull the pin on the 2022 Goldfields Cavalcade.

The event’s cancellation – and its 30th celebrations along with it – was officially announced yesterday in the wake of ever-changing Covid-19 traffic light phases and regulations.

The event was scheduled for the end of this month, with hundreds of Cavalcaders expected to converge on host town Millers Flat on March 5.

Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust (OGHT) secretary and Cavalcade co-ordinator Terry Davis said he and fellow co-ordinator trust treasurer Odette Hopgood-Bride had hoped to continue the event under the Red traffic light setting but as new phases and restrictions were introduced last week, it became obvious it was not an option. . . 

The surf’s (back) up for farmers – Rebecca Ryan:

North Otago and South Canterbury farmers are enjoying being able catch a break.

Since Surfing for Farmers returned to Kakanui last month, 20 to 30 farmers have been heading to Campbells Bay each week to take part in the national mental health initiative aimed at helping farmers manage stress by teaching them to surf.

Kakanui co-ordinator Alfie Broughton said everyone had different reasons for attending the Wednesday night Surfing for Farmers events.

“Mainly people just love coming and doing something different,” he said. . . 

Horror trip finishes on a high note :

When 14 hours turned into 60 calamitous hours trucking 33-head from the South to the North Island, the Gilbert family knew they were up against it more than usual at the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE).

LITERALLY NEARLY EVERYTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG, DID.

Just north of Cheviot in North Canterbury their truck’s clutch went, which left them stranded on the side of the road with the cows on-board (top and bottom) from 9.45pm until 3.30am the next morning, when they were towed 92km back to a mechanic’s garage in Rangiora.

CRESSLANDS TO THE RESCUE . . 

Thank goodness NZDE pushed on :

The overwhelming response coming out the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE) was exhibitor relief that the show went ahead.

The timing of the government moving New Zealand to a red traffic light COVID-19 protection framework couldn’t have been worse – with exhibitors either already at the show at Manfield Park, Feilding – or on the way.

Exhibitor numbers were immediately limited on-ground to 100 (plus event staff), and any hope of spectators being allowed onto the showgrounds were dashed.

Part of the solution came in the form of bidr®, New Zealand’s online selling platform, which stepped up to livestream the event. It is the first time that’s happened in New Zealand. . . 

Struggling country churches a new target in city exodus – Chris McLennan:

City folk chasing a lifestyle change in the country are also turning their attention to abandoned churches.

A selling agent said he could hardly believe the amount of interest being shown in the Uniting Church at Glenthompson in Victoria’s western district which goes to public auction in a few weeks.

“People are ringing from Melbourne, from Sydney, from all over,” David Jennings, the Elders agent in Ararat, said excitedly.

This small rural town of about 250 people is about three hours drive west from Melbourne. . . 


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