World Food Day

October 16, 2017

Today is World Food Day:

FAO celebrates World Food Day each year on 16 October to commemorate the founding of the Organization in 1945. Events are organized in over 150 countries across the world, making it one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. These events promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all.

World Food Day is a chance to show our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.

It’s also a day for us to celebrate the progress we have already made towards reaching #ZeroHunger.

Why should we care about World Food Day and #ZeroHunger?

• The right to food is a basic human right.

• Investing in sustainable food systems and rural development means addressing some of the major global challenges – from feeding the world’s growing population to protecting the global climate, and tackling some of the root causes of migration and displacement.

• Achieving the 17 SDGs cannot happen without ending hunger, and without having sustainable and resilient, climate-compatible agriculture and food systems that deliver for the people and the planet.

• Reaching #ZeroHunger is possible: out of the 129 countries monitored by FAO, 72 have already achieved the target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015; over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half, with about 17,000 children saved every day; extreme poverty rates have been cut in half since 1990.

Ten facts you need to know about Hunger

  1. The world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet, about 800 million people suffer from hunger. That is one in nine people. 60% of them are women.
  2. About 80% of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture.
  3. Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and aids combined.
  4. Around 45% of infant deaths are related to malnutrition.
  5. The cost of malnutrition to the global economy is the equivalent of USD 3.5 trillion a year.
  6. 1.9 billion people – more than a quarter of the world’s population – are overweight.
  7. One third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted.
  8. The world will need to produce 60 percent more food by 2050 to feed a growing population.
  9. No other sector is more sensitive to climate change than agriculture.
  10. FAO works mainly in rural areas, in 130 countries. We work with governments, civil society, the private sector and other partners to achieve #ZeroHunger.

Let’s not forget where most of the food comes from:

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Eating is an agricultural act – Wendell Berry.

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A farmer works to that the world can eat.

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If you ate today, thank a farmer.

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4,000 cattle to be culled

October 13, 2017

The Ministry of Primary Industries has ordered around 4,000 cows from seven farms to be culled to prevent the spread of Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is moving forward with control measures to prevent further spread of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with plans being developed with farmers to cull animals from the known infected farms.

“Since the start of this response in late July, we’ve carried out tens of thousands of tests of the infected, neighbouring and trace properties as well as district-wide testing in Waimate and Waitaki, and nationwide testing of bulk milk,” says MPI’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn.

“The only positive results for the disease have been on 7 infected properties, leading us to be cautiously optimistic that we are dealing with a localised area of infection around Oamaru,” Mr Gwyn says.

“To prevent further spread of the disease, around 4,000 cattle on 5 of the 7 infected properties will need to be culled and a programme put in place to decontaminate the properties and then re-populate the farms. The 2 other properties have had a small number of animals culled already and no cattle remain.

“This whole operation is about managing the disease while keeping our future options open. We want to minimise the risk of further spread of the disease.  Moving ahead with depopulation of the affected farms will allow them to get back to normal business as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Currently there is no need to remove animals from other farms in the Van Leeuwen group that are under restrictions. Testing of animals on those farms continues and should infection be found, they will be subject to the same measures.

In the coming weeks MPI will be working closely with the animal industry bodies, the Rural Support Trust and others to support the affected farmers.

DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb New Zealand support the actions MPI is taking, while at the same time recognising that this is a difficult time for the farmers involved. The industry bodies believe the measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where Mycoplasma bovis is not endemic, which is why the industry groups support such significant measures to keep it that way.

“The coming weeks will present new challenges and will be tough for these affected farmers. MPI will work with those affected to make the process as straight forward as possible. I’d like to particularly thank the owners, sharemilkers and farm workers involved for their ongoing support, recognising this is a very difficult time for them,” Mr Gwyn says.

“I want to be very clear that this isn’t something that’s going to start tomorrow. This is a big logistical exercise, it needs to be thoroughly planned and co-ordinated and we will be doing it with the farmers who know their businesses best,” Mr Gwyn says.

MPI anticipates the first stage of the process – removing the animals – will start after consultation with affected parties. Most of the cattle will be sent for slaughter in accordance with standard practice.

All premises, transportation vehicles and equipment involved in culling will follow a strict decontamination and disinfection protocol to mitigate the risk of spreading the disease.

Once depopulation is completed, there will be at least a 60 day stand-down period where no cattle will be permitted on the farms. During this time the infected properties will be cleaned and disinfected.

Following this work, the aim will be to get cattle back on the farms as quickly as possible. Surveillance, monitoring and testing will remain in place for a period as a further safeguard.

The affected farmers can apply for compensation for verifiable losses relating to MPI exercising legal powers under the Biosecurity Act.

The disease carries no risk to human health but there is no cure for it. Culling is a drastic step but it has the support of affected farmers and industry groups including DairyNZ:

Dairy farmers around the country will be reassured by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) decision to cull animals on farms infected with the disease Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“Since M. bovis was first identified in July farmers have been on high alert and worried about the impact of this disease,” says Dr Mackle.

“DairyNZ is supportive of MPI’s decision to step up control measures by culling these animals. However, we also know that the decision will create heartache for the affected farmers, and our sympathies are with all those involved on-farm.”

Dr Mackle says the decision follows extensive work and testing by MPI, with significant support from DairyNZ and many other agencies. Since the disease was first identified in July over 30,000 tests have been carried out by MPI.

MPI is increasingly confident that infection has not spread outside the primary farming enterprise involved with this outbreak, or any of the other farms also under restricted place notices.

Over the coming weeks there will be continued monitoring and testing in the interests of shutting down this disease in New Zealand.

He says biosecurity is fundamental to the future success of all New Zealand’s primary sectors, dairy included. . . 

This is echoed by Beef + Lamb NZ:

. . . James Parsons, chairman of B+LNZ, said: “The decision will obviously have significant implications for the farm businesses and the rural communities affected by this disease outbreak and we wish to see all available support and compensation provided to those affected. We believe these measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease.

“New Zealand takes its biosecurity very seriously and is one of the few countries in the world where this disease isn’t endemic, so that’s why the industry is willing to support such significant measures to keep it that way.” 

Federated Farmers also supports the move:

The decision to destroy stock which have been in contact with affected animals is the only option which will ensure peace of mind for the rest of New Zealand’s dairy and beef farmers, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We also support the continuation of strict movement controls on the remaining 13 properties that have been placed under Restricted Place Notices.

“These restrictions have significant implications for the people concerned, and all other farmers, so this action is essential to keep the option of eradication on the table.”

M. bovis infected stock can be severely affected by the disease, causing pain and suffering.

“We recognise the disease has come at a significant emotional cost to the affected farming families and their animals. The process of culling whole herds will be very stressful for the people concerned.

“But the disease does not respond to treatment and cannot be vaccinated against. Culling is the only logical option to prevent ongoing suffering of the animals.”

From a national perspective, our size, relatively low population and geographic isolation gives us the ability to manage and attempt to eradicate biosecurity incursions, when other countries cannot.

“M. bovis is found in most countries, including Australia, this is a disease that we definitely don’t want and we should seek to eradicate it, if feasible.

“We’ve remained free of many pest animals and pest plants (weeds) and diseases that have decimated other country’s livestock industries. For the sake of our livestock industries and the economy, it’s crucial we act now to ensure this remains the case,” Katie says.

Culling the cattle is necessary but that won’t make it any easier.

When some of our cows tested positive for TB a few years ago we had to cull a few dozen from the herd.

That was hard enough but a very small loss compared with the thousands to be culled on these farms.

MPI will pay compensation based on the commercial value of the stock but that won’t cover the loss of income or the costs of rebuilding the herd. Nor will it replace generations of breeding that went in to building up the herd.


Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


Rural round-up

August 25, 2017

Clues to cow disease spread – Hamish MacLean:

The South Canterbury farmer whose property was first identified as infected with Mycoplasma bovis now fears the disease might also be present further north.

Glenavy farmer Aad van Leeuwen’s comments come after the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced yesterday the cattle disease was present in Otago.

It had been hoped the outbreak, first detected on Mr van Leeuwen’s Bennetts Rd farm on July 22, and then on his nearby Dog Kennel Rd farm on July 31, was confined to the South Canterbury area.

MPI said blood test results from a farm in the Oamaru area – known to have had a ”direct connection” with the Bennetts Rd farm prior to its current lockdown – showed ”some animals have been infected with the disease”. . .

Flux-meter data relevant for south – Yvonne O’Hara:

Information on nutrient losses from the Foundation for Arable Research’s (Far) flux-meter data-collection project will have applications for Otago and Southland arable farmers.
Far heard earlier this month it had been given $485,168 for its

”Protecting our groundwater: measuring and managing diffuse nutrient losses from cropping systems” project from the Ministry for the Environment’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.

The $1million project has been under way for three years in partnership with HortNZ, Ravensdown, five regional councils and Plant and Food Research. The balance of funding comes from industry and regional council partners. . .

Record 2016/17 season recounted at Zespri AGM

Zespri reported to around 500 grower-shareholders today at its Annual Meeting on a record 2016/17 season, with global sales up 19 percent from last season to $2.26 billion on the back of exceptionally high yields.

Pool results
Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains the high yields and late start to the New Zealand season meant lower per-tray returns for Zespri Green but continued strong per-hectare returns for the Green business. . . 

New initiative prepares women for calf rearing:

Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson is on a mission to reduce the number of injuries to female calf rearers during the physically demanding calving season.

She’s created a six-week online conditioning and strengthening initiative for women to prepare their bodies for the physically gruelling calving season, which is currently under way in many parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of information out there about things like getting meals and the kids ready for calving season but not a lot about getting your body ready,” says Nicole, a mother of two young boys.

“Women are often involved in calf rearing and it’s really hard physical work. Women are often busy juggling kids and work so it’s hard for them sometimes to stay active and find time to work on their fitness . . .

The secret to cutting nitrogen leaching – Laurel Stowell:

Napier-based farming expert Barrie Ridler has some answers for farmers struggling to curb their nitrogen leaching.

Dairy farmers, especially in the Tararua District, are waiting to see how Horizons Regional Council reacts to the Environment Court’s April declarations – but are already under pressure to reduce the nitrogen they leach.

Mr Ridler says matching stock numbers to pasture growth is the secret, and keeping the two in balance will limit greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Youth scholarships help develop Ag careers – Esther Taunton:

A former Inglewood High School student is among the first recipients of a Silver Fern Farms Pasture to Plate Youth Scholarship.

Jake Jarman, who grew up on a central Taranaki dairy farm, will receive $5000 to help further his career in farming.

The scholarships are aimed at helping young people develop their careers in the red meat, food and farming industries and SFF chief executive Dean Hamilton said the talent emerging from applications indicated a bright future for the broader red meat sector. . .

 

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I’m a farmer. I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I”m done.


Rural round-up

November 26, 2016

Farmers hit by triple whammy take stock – Gerard Hutching:

No time is a good time for an earthquake, but in the case of North Canterbury, Kaikoura and South Marlborough farmers the timing could hardly have been worse.

Not only is it the busiest period of the farm year, when stock has been fattened up to take advantage of premium prices, but the region was on the verge of recovering from two years of drought.

Nevertheless, people are responding to the emergency with a mixture of co-operation and ingenuity. . . 

Aussie farm labour website eyes NZ – Rob Tipa:

The creators of an Australian website that matches onfarm jobs with available workers hopes to launch in New Zealand soon.

“We already have had workers from NZ applying for work through AgDraft in Australia,” Grace Brennan, of AgDraft, told Rural News at a Rabobank Farm2Fork seminar in Sydney.

The AgDraft website is a platform where farmers can find reliable labour when they need it most, she says. . . 

Lift in forecast payout creates opportunities for farmers:

The recent increase in the forecast pay-out to $6 per kilogram of milksolids for the 2017 season means this year for Fonterra farmers, the perfect opportunity for farmers to enter the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and ensure they on the right track business-wise.

NZDIA General Manager Chris Keeping said farmers entering the Awards this year will use the competitions process to analyse their financial situation and look at how to best utilise the money, when it comes in.

“The Dairy Industry Awards encourage share farmers, dairy managers and dairy trainees to pull their business apart and scrutinise why they operate the way they do,” explains Chris. . . 

Chatham describes how the use of RPR will improve water quality in NZ:

OVERSEER is a software tool widely used by New Zealand farmers and their advisors to tailor fertiliser use to optimise farm production while minimising environmental impacts.

Developed originally by AgResearch, it’s now jointly owned with the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Fertiliser Association. An independent organisation, Overseer Ltd, has been licensed to use the OVERSEER IP to create a sustainable business that delivers OVERSEER to users.

Recently the software application was upgraded and the latest version 6.2.3 was used to compare various farming scenarios to assess what impact changing the type of phosphate fertiliser used has on the amount of P loss to water. In all scenarios evaluated the use of RPR resulted in less phosphate loss to water than would be the case with soluble phosphate fertilisers such as Superphosphate. . . 

Buzzing coastal farm delivers a hive of primary production activity:

A coastal sheep and beef farm with growing revenues from honey production and tourism has been placed on the market for sale.

Te Au Station near the entrance of Mahia Peninsula in northern Hawke’s Bay is a 710 hectare waterfront property traditionally capable of carrying approximately 4500 stock units.

However, entrepreneurial owners Malcolm and June Rough have been diversifying their asset’s revenue streams over the past decade through the development of several complimentary farm operations. . . 

Massive forestry landholding placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest privately-owned forestry land portfolios – comprising five separate plantations – has been placed on the market for sale.

The extensive land portfolio is owned by Forest Growth Holdings Ltd, a Southland based company. There is a 60-year forestry right leased to Wairarapa Estate Ltd, an Australian-based forestry investment company.

The portfolio encompasses more than 3,061 hectares of trees spread across the Manawatu and Wairarapa districts in the North Island. . . 

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Abuse should be reported immediately

October 26, 2016

Farmwatch has released footage from hidden cameras which shows abuse of bobby calves:

It has been almost a year since the group went public with its last major exposé, which showed similar treatment as well as calves being killed through blunt force, and kicked and beaten, resulting in a public outcry and new industry guidelines.

Back then, many in the industry blamed the mistreatment on a few bad apples.

However, Farmwatch says its latest investigation shows this is untrue – and that the abuse of calves is a common practice in one of New Zealand’s biggest industries. . . 

Animal abuse is not common practice. Farmwatch’s statement is a slur on the thousands of farmers and farm workers who treat stock humanely.

Farmwatch has completed another investigation, this time involving about 10 farms in Taranaki and Waikato from August this year. The latest video, released to Checkpoint with John Campbell, showed calves being thrown forcefully onto trucks and dropped onto the ground.

“What you can see here is the workers just throwing them, hurling them, into the back of the truck,” Farmwatch spokesman John Darroch said. “He just chucks it by the neck backwards.”. . 

The dairy industry had, in the past, pinned the abuse on a few bad workers, he said.

“This is representative of the handling of calves, and when we place hidden cameras we get this kind of footage … If it were only a few people doing this, it would be impossible for us to get this footage.” . . 

That’s a nonsensical statement. It takes only one person to do this to obtain footage. Ten is 10 too many but it is not representative of the industry.

Apart from the obvious and overriding importance of animal welfare, bruising of calves reduces the value of their meat.

Almost everyone in dairying will be as angry and upset by this maltreatment as the animal rights people.

Furthermore, almost everyone else, with animal welfare at heart rather than a political agenda,  would have reported the abuse to MPI or the SPCA immediately to ensure the abuse stopped immediately and not waited two months as Farmwatch did.


Rural round-up

September 20, 2014

New products to help meet regulations:

Agri-companies are under pressure to come up with innovative new products to assist dairy farmers as they struggle to comply with tough new environmental regulations.

For example, if a farmer fails a water quality test, they face stringent conditions such as wash down before and after every milking, as well as increasing fines.

At present, the most popular method of treating water is to run it through an UltraViolet lamp, but this can sometimes cause problems if it is not cleaned regularly. . .

Kick start your career with Balance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is calling for applications to its 2015 agricultural and process engineering scholarship programme.

Specialist skills in the areas of engineering, science, precision agriculture and agri-business have been identified, by a Ministry of Primary Industries report, as key areas to support the future of New Zealand’s primary sector. This is a view shared by Ballance.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) released a research paper ‘People Powered – building capabilities to keep New Zealand’s primary industries internationally competitive’, on 6 June 2014, in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ. The report summarises the expected capability needs for each of the primary industries and associated support services. . . .

A market for all except for the roar of the stag:

Pampered pooches in America and pizzle hot pots in China are helping support venison prices to farmers.

While the top priority for the deer industry is building restaurant demand for farm-raised venison, it also caters for customers eager to source every part of the animal except, perhaps, the roar of the stag.

“In the United States, venison and other game meats are now vital ingredients in gourmet pet foods. The inclusion of 10 per cent venison in a chicken-based formula can give it serious cachet, dramatically increasing the price consumers are willing to pay for the product,” says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive officer Dan Coup. . . .

 

Increase in milk production drives additional rail services for Hokitika:

Westland Milk Products has reached an agreement with KiwiRail for an additional daily rail service between Christchurch and Hokitika to meet the dairy company’s increasing freight needs.

Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin says the move will have substantial benefits for Westland, road users and the environment.

“During the last few years Westland’s rail freight requirements have increased substantially,” Quin says. “This has been driven by record increases in production by our shareholders, up nearly 22 percent in the 2013/14 season alone, along with an expanding product range and growing sales success in international markets. When our new nutritionals dryer comes into production in August next year, we can expect our demand for additional freight to increase further.” . . .

 

ASB Farmshed Economics Report

Mixed fortunes for long term commodity prices

• ASB revises its milk price forecast down to $5.30/kg of milk solids

• Beef prices could hit record high by year’s end.

• Lamb price gains running out of steam

The dairy markets can’t seem to catch a break, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“With bumper production driving down prices, the recent Russian dairy import ban will further add to the sluggish dairy price woes,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. . .


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