Rural round-up

July 10, 2018

Waipahi young farmer keeps national title in South – Nicole Sharp:

Taking the bull by the horns, Logan Wallace did not let his second chance slip through his fingers and  won the FMG Young Farmer of the Year in Invercargill on Saturday night.

After competing in the grand final in 2016, Mr Wallace (28) had a rough idea of the battle in front of him on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The technical day on Thursday tested mental strength, while the practical day on Friday tested both physical and mental ability before the quiz on Saturday evening.

Mr Wallace won the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge, the Agri-Sports Challenge, Massey University Agri-Growth Challenge and the overall title. . . 

Chinese dairy giant Mengniu eyes formula expansion at Pokeno – Jamie Gray:

China’s Mengniu, through its subsidiary Yashili NZ, is looking at expanding its state-of-the-art infant formula plant at Pokeno, the company’s chief executive Lu Minfang said.

Lu, in an interview, said plans are afoot for a substantial expansion of the already busy plant, which opened late in 2015 at the end of Auckland’s Southern Motorway.

Last month French food giant Danone – which already has close ties with Mengniu and Yashili – said it planned to acquire up to 49 per cent of Yashili NZ. . . 

East Coast seeking solutions to slash floods a month after massive deluge – Patrick O’Sullivan:

The tsunami of forestry slash last month will likely happen again on the East Coast unless the industry stops clear felling erosion-prone area, says forester Chris Perley.

It’s been one month since a deluge in the hills above Tolaga Bay sent thousands of unwanted logs careering downhill – clogging up rivers, endangering lives and destroying homes.

Perley said similar events had occurred in Hawke’s Bay, such as in the Mohaka catchment eight years ago.. . .

Tough questions about ‘M. bovis’ raised by farmers – Nicole Sharp:

Hard questions were raised, some with no answers.

Farmers questioned the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and industry representatives about disease testing and biosecurity issues at a Mycoplasma bovis meeting in Winton last month.

One question raised was how some farmers would sell young stock, such as bobby calves, because putting calves together at stockyards could spread the disease.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand policy and advocacy general manager Dave Harrison said if farm systems involved saleyards and bringing in more calves, then farmers needed to decide whether or not that was a risk they were willing to take.

”Saleyards are going to be a risk area,” he said.. . 

Fumigant use research under way at PFR :

Research into the use of Vapormate, or ethylformate (including CO2) as a potential fumigant to kill mites, and other insects infecting export apricots post harvest, is under way at Plant and Food Research’s (PFR) Clyde base.

Research associate Kate Colhoun said the fumigant ethylformate (EF), which was also known as Vapormate, had proven effective against flower thrips.

The fumigant was ”generally recognised as safe” (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration, was fast acting, residue free and acceptable for most export markets. . . 

A2 milk wave coming – Woodford

Agribusiness expert Keith Woodford says within the next five years China could be accepting only A2 milk products.

Speaking at Federated Farmers Dairy conference in Wellington this morning, Woodford, a retired agribusiness professr, says the push for A2 milk won’t come from the Chinese Government but consumers.

He told dairy leaders that A2 milk was the “largest selling milk” in Australian supermarkets. “I know this because I’m part of the Australian A2 milk story,” he says. . . 

Looking back at a decade of deregulation – Gregor Heard:

It may seem like only yesterday, but July 1 marked 10 years since the Australian export wheat market was officially deregulated.

When the Rudd Government passed the Wheat Marketing Act of 2008, opening up the market to multiple exporters of bulk wheat, it marked the end of almost 70 years of single desk marketing.

Under the single desk, a national pool operated, with all wheat marketed on behalf of growers by the Australian Wheat Board. . . 


Rural round-up

July 7, 2018

Rural health wants tourists’ cash – Neal Wallace:

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

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

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

Trading times get challenging – Pam Tipa:

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

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

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

Concerns over Mycoplasma bovis leave farmer confidence in the balance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entire Northland school visits farm on paddock to plate learning journey

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

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

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

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

Omega lamb project update in third year:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

July 6, 2018

Milking it for deer – Nigel Malthus:

If the world is ready for deer milk, New Zealand is ready to supply it.

The product, believed unique, was simultaneously launched at Fieldays and at a VIP function in Auckland aimed at high-end restaurants and the food service industry.

It won the Grassroots Innovation Award at Fieldays for Pāmu (the commercial name of Landcorp Farming) and its primary partners Sharon and Peter McIntyre, deer farmers at Gore. . . 

Is deer milk the next big thing?

“I can absolutely see this going global,” says consultant executive chef Geoff Scott, of the deer milk now being pioneered in NZ.

Scott, engaged by Pāmu to help launch its deer milk, says it’s rare for chefs to work with a new ingredient they have never seen before.

He says deer milk’s most noticeable feature is its “phenomenal” texture. And contrary to his expectations, the aroma was not as strong as goat or sheep milk.

“It’s got a lovely gentle slightly savoury nose and when you drink it you get this amazing sensation with the texture of the milk,” said Scott. . .

MPI scotches professor’s blog – Annette Scott:

Cross-species transmission is not a risk in the spread of Mycoplasma bovis, Ministry for Primary Industries response director Geoff Gwyn says.

Animals other than cattle are considered to be dead-end hosts and not important in the ongoing spread of the cattle disease.

“There is no scientific evidence that non-cattle species can act as a source of infection to cattle,” Gwyn said.

He expressed concern the matter continues to be raised given it has potential to unnecessarily heighten farmers’ anxiety. 

“Our firm view is the transfer of M bovis from non-cattle to cattle is not of material concern,” Gwyn said. . . 

Mackenzie Basin: Fonterra dairying criticism rejected – Kate Gudsell:

The Dunedin businessman behind a planned mega-dairy conversion in the Mackenzie Basin is shrugging off criticism from Fonterra about further intensification on the vulnerable landscape.

Murray Valentine has 9600 hectares of land at Simon’s Pass near Twizel and wants to irrigate 4500 hectares of that.

Originally, he was granted resource consent for 15,000 cows, but plans to put 2000 on it by next year, rising to a maximum of 5500 cows when consents are gained for extra cow sheds. . . 

Biodynamic forum held

Maori star lore, the winter solstice and water and earth energy were popular topics for the nearly 100 people who attended the 2018 New Zealand Biodynamic Association’s conference, in Clyde and Wanaka from June 22 to 24.

One of the organisers, Su Hoskin, who is in charge of the organic and biodynamic practices at Domaine-Thomson Wines vineyard near Cromwell, also sits on the association’s council.

”The conference was great,” Mrs Hoskin said.

”The theme was water and light.” . . 

Feds and MPs put on a good show – Alan Emmerson:

I’ve been dealing with Federated Farmers and going to their functions for longer than I care to remember.

I’ve witnessed a strong, focused organisation and one with a distinct lack of focus.

Currently, in my view, Feds are as strong as they’ve ever been. 

They are well led, their staff contains a good mix of youth and experience and the policy and communications teams are second to none.

I believe Federated Farmers is becoming increasingly important because of its advocacy role. That advocacy allows us to continue farming. Without it we would be in some difficulty.

Until this weeks’ conference I hadn’t realised just how busy they are. . . 


Cruelty always wrong

June 29, 2018

Dairy NZ’s strategy leader Jenny Jago says the well-being of animals is at the heart of every dairy farm.

It is not okay to treat any animal poorly – ever – and the vast majority of farmers care deeply about their animals. This footage is disturbing and it has been reported that a complaint has been laid. This type of appalling behaviour is absolutely not representative of the thousands of farmers that work with cows every day and are passionate about animal welfare.

Cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the dairy sector as part of dairy farming. If a farmer treats their cows badly, they shouldn’t be working in the dairy sector. It’s as simple as that.

She was responding to a video which showed a sharemilker abusing cows:

A Northland sharemilker caught on hidden cameras hitting dairy cows with a steel pipe in his milking shed had previously been the subject of a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries about other claims of animal abuse.

That inquiry was dropped due to a lack of evidence but the new video from the milking shed cameras has been given to the Ministry by farm animal advocacy group Farmwatch as part of a new complaint.

A month’s footage from the hidden cameras supplied to Newsroom by Farmwatch shows the sharemilker repeatedly hitting cows during milking. At times the cows were hit on the head, at other times their legs were struck with a steel pipe.  . .

What makes this case worse is that a farm worker complained to MPI whose investigation found nothing amiss the first time and said they could do nothing the second.

The former worker contacted MPI again by phone to tell them about the steel pipe. They said MPI told them the case was closed and nothing more could be done without proof. 

“We went through the right channels. We went to the owner first, nothing was done. We went to MPI, nothing was done. We didn’t want to leave it,” said the former worker who made the complaint. 

At this point, worried for the welfare of the herd and with nowhere else to turn, the former worker contacted farm animal advocacy group, Farmwatch. 

Farmwatch installed hidden cameras in the milking shed to gather proof.

Farmwatch volunteer investigator, John Darroch, said he has spent time in milking sheds in the past and knew good farming practice. He was shocked at what was caught on camera. 

“I was stunned and sickened by what I saw. The level of anger towards the cows was quite disturbing to see.”  

This footage has now been supplied to MPI in the hope something can be done.  

“We’re willing to co-operate with MPI so that they can prosecute people based off our hidden camera footage. This includes a willingness to give formal statements to MPI and to appear in court as witnesses,” Darroch said. . . 

Treating cows like this is inhumane and also stupid – cows need quiet and calm to produce milk. The sharemilker wasn’t only being cruel to the stock, his actions would have reduced milk production which would have reduced his income.

There is no excuse for cruelty to animals and MPI must learn from this case so that any complaints made in future are investigated more thoroughly.

The abuse was bad enough, that it continued after complaints were made makes it worse.


Rural round-up

June 24, 2018

Joint operation to check Nait compliance – Sally Rae:

Knowledge of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) system has increased in the wake of the Mycoplasma bovis response but some farmers are continuing to break the rules.

In a statement yesterday, compliance investigations manager Gary Orr said the Ministry for Primary Industries and Nait Ltd had been running joint operations around the country to check compliance with Nait requirements.

The disease response had highlighted the importance of tracing animal movements and having complete and accurate information available. It was critical all farmers complied with Nait and tracked all animal movements on and off their farms and those who weren’t were putting the rest of the industry in jeopardy, Mr Orr said. . . 

Manuka protection needs cash – Richard Rennie:

Manuka Honey Appellation Society members are optimistic money will be forthcoming for a bid to protect the manuka honey brand as a trade mark and ultimately as a Geographical Indication (GI).

A high-level conference on manuka’s status earlier this month was met with a largely positive reception from Government officials, society spokesman John Rawcliffe said.

Rawcliffe and others in the industry hope a cash injection to protect the brand for New Zealanders will soon be forthcoming.

“So far, as an industry group, we have invested $1 million into manuka honey for its protection and we have already seen the landmark decision made in the United Kingdom where their Trade Registry has accepted the filing of the term manuka as a certification mark,” Rawcliffe said. . . 

Farming at the southernmost point of NZ -Brittany Pickett:

Dot and Colin McDonald are farming at the end of the world.

Their 534 hectare Haldane farm Stonewood is only a skip away from Slope Point, the southernmost point in the South Island, making the couple among the southernmost farmers in the world.

They bought the west side of Stonewood in 2003, before buying the east side in 2005.

“We had to completely do it over,” Dot said.

Both properties were run-down, with extensive development needed. The one small woolshed was run by a generator, and other than that there were no buildings and almost non-existent fencing throughout the property. . .

Catch contest win a distraction – Neal Wallace:

Mairi Whittle is having quite a year. Last week she won the Fieldays Rural Catch competition and if that isn’t enough at the end of July she takes over her family’s Taihape sheep and beef farm. She spoke to Neal Wallace.

It is proving to be a busy few weeks for Mairi Whittle.

Having won the Golden Gumboot at the Fieldays Rural Catch Competition earlier this month she becomes the fourth generation of her family to run the 6000 stock unit, Makatote Station north east of Taihape at the end of July.

A former rural banker, Whittle, 28, and her family have been working on a succession plan, A former rural banker, Whittle, 28, and her family have been working on a succession plan, allowing her parents Jim and Maggie to retire from the hill-country sheep and beef farm. . .

 Irrigation helps out with sheep production, during dry times

While Walandi Farms White Suffolk and Poll Dorset stud was founded in 2007, moving to a new property has seen stud principals Ash and Janine Murphy seek new markets.

“We’ve moved to a new area and we thought we would open our gates to get some interest from people, where we are now,” Mr Murphy said.

Operating at Kotta, on the Echuca-Mitiamo road, Victoria, the Murphys were former dairy farmers. . .

Could agricultural robots replace glysophate

Glyphosate is a herbicide that’s used to kill undesired plants. Pulling up plants, or “weeding,” does the same thing without chemicals, but it’s very labor-intensive. What if tireless robots could weed fields cheaply?

Professor Simon Blackmore, head of robotic agriculture at the UK’s National Centre for Precision Farming at Harper Adams University in England, says that increasingly sensitive and precise sensors and instruments are being developed that can measure the “complex nature of the growing environment” on every square meter of farmland — the soil and water conditions; the presence of pests and diseases; the location of weeds, and the size of crop plants.

In addition to measuring the state of a crop, robots will be able to actively improve growing conditions, not least by getting rid of weeds. . .


Rural round-up

June 20, 2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

June 7, 2018

We can’t have any beef with the MfE on the matter of meatless days – can we? – Point of Order:

It might not be the facile question of the day but it deserves a place as a front-runner for the title.

It came from RNZ’s Guyon Espiner when interviewing Sam McIvor,chief executive of Beef and Lamb NZ.

The interview  (HERE, duration 4′ :37″0) was a reasonable followup to an idea which won headlines and air time for James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change.

New Zealanders should eat one less meat meal a week, he suggested. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand welcomes launch of Good Farming Practice Action Plan

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed today’s launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan as providing a whole of sector approach that builds on the good work already being done by individual industries.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO Sam McIvor says that the launch of the Good Farming Practice Action plan is an exciting opportunity for New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

“This is the first time that farming and horticulture leaders, regional councils, and central government have come together and agreed to a set of good practice principles, and actions to implement those across the country”, Mr McIvor said. . .

Horticulture supports action plan for water quality:

With the communication tools available today, consumers are able to access information about the origin of their food and make buying decisions based on how food producers show responsible and sustainable farming practices, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“It is important for our fruit and vegetable growers to show they are using best practice when managing their properties and that they are offering healthy food,” Chapman says.

“So we support today’s launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan for Water Quality, on World Environment Day. . . 

More dairy farmers feeling financial pressure:

More farmers are feeling under financial pressure, and satisfaction with their banks has slipped, the May 2018 Federated Farmers’ Banking Survey shows.

The biannual survey drew 1,004 responses, more than double that of the last survey in November.  While results indicate the vast majority of farmers are still satisfied with their banks, those saying they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ fell from 81% to 79% since November.

The fall was particularly pronounced for sharemilkers (68.5% satisfaction, down from 77%) although for them the drop was mainly driven by more of them having a neutral perception rather than being dissatisfied. . . 

Shearers moot 25% pay rise – Neal Wallace:

Shearers and woolhandlers look set to receive pay and entitlement increases of up to 25% this season as the industry tries to retain and recruit skilled labour.

The recommendation from the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association is part of a three-year strategic plan focused on improving the association’s profile, lifting recruitment and retention rates, improving training opportunities and improving health and safety.

The industry has struggled to retain and recruit young people.

Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said the pay rise would also address the gap with Australia and help retain NZ wool harvesters. . . 

NZ orchards audited after biosecurity concerns :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seizing plant material from five apple and stone fruit nurseries across the country, as a precautionary measure against biosecurity risks.

The seizures some after an audit found incorrect record keeping at a US facility which is responsible for screening apple and stone fruit plant cuttings before they are imported.

MPI response manager John Brightwell said following the March audit, it put an immediate stop to imports and began tracing plants imported from Clean Plant Centre Northwest – Fruit Trees.

Mr Brightwell said about 55,000 plants had been traced and five affected nurseries and a small number of growers were told plant material will be seized from their properties. . . 

MPI’s seizure of fruit trees unlawful:

The New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated, which represents commercial plant producers, is challenging the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI)’s intention to use section 116 of the Biosecurity Act to seize fruit trees that have been caught up in the US quarantine issue.

MPI announced today that it would be seizing approximately 55,000 fruit trees from 4 nurseries around New Zealand. It follows an MPI audit in March which uncovered incomplete and incorrect record keeping at a US facility, which is responsible for screening apple and stone fruit plant cuttings before they are imported. . . 


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