Rural round-up

July 17, 2017

Susatainability key to role as new AgResearch leader – Sally Rae:

The big thrust for AgResearch in the future has to be around farm and environmental sustainability issues, new chairman Jeff Grant says.

His focus would be continuing to build on AgResearch’s ability to deliver science that was “highly relevant” to the future of farming.

Regional council changes, in a bid to get better outcomes around land and water, would force AgResearch to provide the science to ‘‘get the answers’’ and the tools for farmers.

“I see the organisation as being the lead provider of answers that allow farmers to meet the expectations for producing high quality food in natural and sustainable environments, while also being able to run a viable business. . .

Cattle grazing on river edges keeps weed ‘shambles’ down on extensive farms – Bob Todhunter:

With alI the bad publicity our rivers are receiving I feel the general public is confused between extensive and intensive grazing.

I would like to make some observations about stock grazing alongside waterways. I am no scientist, however I do have 70-plus years of practical observation.

I remember being taught fishing by my grandfather in the 1950s on the rivers of the Canterbury Plains when sheep and cattle were grazed extensively by the riverbeds. . .

Pine tree seedlings in short supply after poor growing season  – Jill Galloway:

A shortage of pine tree seedlings after a poor growing season for tree nurseries has hit some forest owners and farm foresters.

Patrick Murray ,who is owner of Murray’s Nurseries at Woodville in Tararua, said he had turned down orders of 1.2 million pines.

“We grew around five million pinus radiata but could easily have sold more. It has been a wet summer and poor autumn and that affected badly the growth of the trees.” . . 

EU farmer subsidies under threat – Nigel Stirling:

There are signs that the massive subsidisation of European agriculture could be cut back.

New Zealand has long fought the policy, which tops up the incomes of millions of European farmers.

For decades, NZ has argued the policy keeps European production higher than justified by market prices, and supply on global markets out of kilter with demand. . .

Alliance looks to food service growth – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group hopes that its new food service business will be achieving annual sales above $100 million in the next three years or so.

A four-strong development team is working up a pilot programme in the United Kingdom that the meat exporter will use as a springboard for wider Europe, and into Asian markets as well, general manager sales Murray Brown said.

“Who knows how it could go – we’re a $1.5 billion business and if we could get the food service up to 10% of total sales over three years that would be $100m to $150m.” . .

Nitrate data suggests a corner turned – Nicole Sharp:

Environment Southland’s latest water quality report shows a trend of decreasing or indeterminate nitrogen levels and Southland farmers deserve a pat on the back for this, Agribusiness farm consultant Deane Carson says.

Nitrate levels in Southland had always been an area of significant concern for him, and for a while were somewhat out of control, he said.

But the latest report showed the majority of the sites were indeterminate for nitrite­nitrate nitrogen (NNN) levels over the five years covered and nine of the 49 sites had a decreasing trend. . .

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Rural round-up

November 27, 2015

Rural NZ areas sit on ‘powder keg’ as temperatures rise – Mike Watson:

Rural fire authorities are warning farmers and contractors to check for potential ‘hot spots’ inside machinery and farm equipment as temperatures rise in Marlborough.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority chief fire officer Richard McNamara said the rural region was on a “powder keg’ as temperatures rise and hot northwest winds continued to dry vegetation causing significant risk of fire outbreaks.

“It is a real issue, and anyone working with farm machinery and equipment, such as welding or grinding, needs to be aware of the risk of sparks igniting any vegetation nearby,” he said. . . 

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough:

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.” . . .

Alliance launches new products for Chinese market:

Meat cooperative Alliance Group is launching a new range of market-ready lamb, beef and venison products for the food retail market in China.

Alliance Group has reached an agreement with its in-market partner Grand Farm – China’s single largest importer of sheepmeat – to market the co-branded Pure South-Grand Farm products in the country from next year.

Marketing general manager Murray Brown said with meat volumes going into China becoming more difficult, the company was looking to add value to exports. . . .

Competitive future for “unbroken” NZ dairy – visiting global expert:

New Zealand dairy is well placed to compete in the global market as prices begin to recover in the coming 12 months, a visiting global dairy specialist has told localproducers.

Tim Hunt, New York-based global dairy strategist with international agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says while current market conditions are “extremely tough” for many local producers, the New Zealand dairy sector is “unbroken” and has the fundamentals in place to enjoy a strong, competitive future in the global dairy trade. . . .

Ongoing disruption and volatility in dairy, with winners and losers – Keith Woodford:

In the last two weeks we have seen increasing signs of further disruption and volatility in dairy. First, there was good news with Fonterra announcing that they had turned the corner In relation to enhanced corporate profitability. But then, only two days later, there was another decline on the (GDT Global Dairy Trade) auction – this time of 7.9 percent overall and 11 percent for whole-milk powder.

In the meantime, The a2 Milk Company announced that they were almost doubling their previous estimate of profitability for the coming year, triggering another increase in the share price. Since the start of November through to 24 November the price rose 60 percent on large volumes. . . 

Ruataniwha promoter seeks mix of equity, debt funding – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, the developer and sponsor of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, says the $275 million project will be funded with a mix of equity and debt, and is likely to result in a secondary market for water contracts.

HBRIC, the investment arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is in talks with three potential investors and banks about funding. The council is putting up $80 million for an equity stake in a yet-to-be formed irrigation company. The $195 million balance will come from outside investors, bank debt and an expected contribution from the government’s Crown Irrigation Investments, which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure developments. . . 

Cellphone helps save house from Australian bushfire:

An Australian man who saw his farm “explode in a fireball” on CCTV cameras at the property says his house survived because he used his phone to activate a sprinkler system from the other side of the country.

Charles Darwin University vice chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the reason his house at the 45-hectare wheat farm on the outskirts of Hamley Bridge escaped the fire was because of his neighbours – and the fact he activated an irrigation system at the property by remote control from Darwin.

Two people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in the fires which continue to burn north of Adelaide. . . 

Consultation on freshwater management ideas planned:

A report today published by the Land and Water Forum on the next steps needed to improved management of freshwater will be carefully considered by Government and help contribute to a public discussion paper to be published next year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today. 

“The Government has an ambitious programme of work on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management.  These ideas on requiring good management practice, of how we can maximise the economic benefit of water within environmental limits, integrated catchment management, stock exclusion and enabling more efficient use of water are a further contribution on how we can achieve that,” Dr Smith says.

“I acknowledge the Forum’s significant efforts in tackling difficult policy challenges and we welcome their recommendations,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Irrigation New Zealand Welcomes 4th LAWF Report:

Irrigation New Zealand welcomes the fourth Land and Water Forum (LAWF) Report.

“The diverse group of forum members have spent a lot of time collaborating to reach the additional recommendations,” said Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand. “This has resulted in constructive advice to Ministers for the development of freshwater policy. It’s now time for the government to act.”

“Freshwater is a natural and recurring resource we need to protect, and is a national asset which needs to be properly and carefully managed to bolster our agricultural-led economy. . . .

Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board:

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart’s second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome. . . .

Farm Environment Trust’s Annual Report Highlights Growth:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.

Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.

“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.” . . . 


Rural round-up

July 25, 2013

Korean visit to address fears about trade direction – Marie

Prime Minister John Key heads for South Korea on Thursday for an official visit warning that New Zealand’s fifth biggest trading partner will slip down the rankings without a free trade agreement.

War commemorations will be a central feature of the visit, with 30 New Zealand veterans joining Key’s entourage to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. 

Key said outside those events, the priority was to make progress on reaching an FTA. . .

Farmer Confidence Rebounds, New Survey Finds:

Federated Farmers’ New-Season Farm Confidence Survey, undertaken at the start of the 2013/14 season, has shown a major turnaround in farmer confidence.  This result is in keeping with other recent farm and business confidence surveys.

“Farmers are showing a lot more optimism in both the wider economy and individual farm prospects,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“You could say farmers are in recovery mode but this bounce back comes off a low base.  There is still a large gap in the sentiment of dairy farmers when compared to the other farming sectors.

“Six months ago, farmers were fairly negative about the wider economy and were very pessimistic about their own profitability.   This was particularly the case for sheep and beef farmers. In contrast, dairy farmers were feeling more optimistic than they had been at this point last year [July 2012], thanks mainly to better dairy commodity prices and growing conditions. . .

Alliance lamb in Oliver’s Russian eatery – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group lamb from New Zealand will be on the menu at the new Jamie Oliver restaurant due to open in Russian city St Petersburg.

The contract was a good boost to the business Alliance had built with Russian food service companies and restaurants over the past 12 years, marketing general manager Murray Brown said.

It highlighted the growing status of the group’s Pure South brand as a leading red-meat export, he said. . .

Eliminating wool’s dirty secret:

With New Zealand’s main-shear approaching, Federated Farmers and the NZ Shearing Contractors Association are backing moves to cut the woolshed contamination of wool. If successful, it could boost farmgate returns by a couple of million dollars each year.

“When you are dealing with a $700 million export, cutting wool contamination translates into a big opportunity for fibre farmers,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“As a farmer, the easiest way for us to increase our returns is to focus on what we can control. Woolshed contamination is a perfect example of this. . .

Head in a bucket – he does that every morning – Mad Bush Farm:

 He’s old, muddy, grumpy and he wasn’t making it any secret he wasn’t going to be sharing his breakfast with Ranger and the other little horses. As for me well the black eye has at last waned to a faded reminder of Muphy’s visit last week to the farm. The cows and naughty little Tempest, are finding out the hard way that an electrified wire is now on the road fence. We’ve had a few fine days, it’s still a bog hole here. My complaints are going unheeded by Mr Winter. He won’t be leaving until the end of August – darn. I’m going back to the mud now to complain some more or mayube I’ll just go and have a coffee instead

Talking of horses I found this beautiful tribute to the Arabian horse done with clips from the Black Stallion and other films. . .

Jousting for poll position – Milk Maid Marian:

Scuffles broke out right across the paddock as the weak winter sun lit the stage for a bovine pugilism festival. The cows were feeling magnificent and, unable to contain their energy, were ready to take on all comers.

The kids and I love watching the cows “do butter-heads” and the cows seem to love it, too. For every pair or trio engaged in warfare, there will be a group of curious onlookers and one scuffle seems to inspire more outbreaks.

Does butter-heads have a serious purpose though? Yes, it does. The herd has a very structured pecking order. Cows come into the dairy in roughly the same order every milking and the smallest and most timid are inevitably last. Mess them up by splitting the herd into seemingly random groups for a large-scale vet procedure like preg testing and you can expect trouble. . .


Rural round-up

March 17, 2013

Alumni awards honour Luxton:

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton has been honoured by Massey University at its Distinguished Alumni awards.

Luxton, QSO, a former MP and current Dairy NZ chairman, received the supreme honour, the Sir Geoffrey Peren Medal.

Named after Massey’s founding principal, the award recognises a graduate who has reached the highest level of achievement in business or professional life or who has been of significant service to the university, community or nation. . .

Alliance confident about lamb sales in northern markets

Southland-based meat processor the Alliance Group is quietly confident of a better season for meat sales in the pivotal Easter trade in northern hemisphere markets.

The last shipments of the company’s meat products for the Easter markets left New Zealand early in February and were still in transit, said chief executive Grant Cuff.

“We’ve only had early indications from those markets, but we’re more optimistic this Easter than we were last Easter,” he said.

Lamb prices were very high in northern hemisphere markets last Easter and customers were more pessimistic, with high unemployment and a lot of uncertainty around the world. . .

Working on quality – Terri Russell:

Southland meat processor Alliance Group is working on new initiatives after a visit from leading British retailer Marks and Spencer last month.

It was the retailer’s first visit since agreeing on an exclusive supply deal late last year. Marks and Spencer representatives visited the company’s Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to look at processing techniques and product specifications.

Alliance Group, in partnership with Marks and Spencer, will work together to improve shelf life and quality of product.

Alliance Group general manager marketing Murray Brown said the initiatives offered opportunities for farmer-suppliers. . .

Five star treatment for Camelot cows – Michelle Nelson:

In the shadow of the Mid Canterbury foothills lies a modern-day Camelot, where something magical is happening – huge super cows are milked by robots, and a dedicated team of humans attends to their every need.

Camelot Robotic Dairy Farm is owned by the Beeston family’s Blumoon Trust, and is a place where animal welfare and sustainable farming practices are kept at the forefront of decision making.

At 26, Frances Beeston manages the state-of-the-art robotic dairy farm, home to the Blumoon Holstein Fresian and Triann Brown Swiss studs. She says life doesn’t get much better.

The daughter of Bryan and Annette Beeston, Frances grew up with elite dairy cows, and wasted little time thinking about where her future lay.

“I worked on the farm with Mum and Dad when I was a kid. I had pet calves and loved going out at night to check on cows at calving – I always loved the lifestyle,” she says. . .

Alien weeds feared in imported hay – Terri Russell:

Southland farmers aren’t sending hay north to support drought-ravaged farms – and they would only accept North Island hay if they were “desperate” for the feed.

Truckloads of Canterbury hay have been sent to farmers in the North Island this week to underfed livestock in the drought-affected north.

While transport costs and dry conditions meant Southland farmers had shown no interest in sending hay north, industry leaders said if the situation was reversed farmers would need to be vigilant about hay coming to Southland. They did not want unwanted weeds in the hay to spread through the region. . . .

DoC tries to leave none behind – Tim Fulton:

Canterbury conservator Mike Cuddihy has a favourite song lyric, “I’ll be holding all the tickets and you’ll be owning all the fines”. Tim Fulton meets a top manager at the Department of Conservation.

Some trophy hunters shoot the bull tahr but leave the females behind to breed in great numbers, Mike Cuddihy has noticed.

His incidental comment on wild game captures his view of responsibility for the “huge canvas” of the environment.

DoC will happily work behind the scenes in conservation but the onus goes in all directions, the Canterbury regional manager says.

In the South Island high country, where DoC is a large landowner rubbing shoulders routinely with farmers, the bush-talk has been of a fractious relationship. . .


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