Rural round-up

January 10, 2014

ANZCO opens new food laboratory – Alan Williams:

ANZCO Foods has set up a new innovation centre at Lincoln University to focus on new food developments.

Its research team was already working on new developments, with more in the pipeline, the company’s Food and Solutions business chief executive Rennie Davidson said.

The centre was opened last month by ANZCO chairman Sir Graeme Harrison, who said it was part of an $87 million project to generate more value from beef carcases.

The FoodPlus project is a joint venture between ANZCO and the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme. . .

Kiwis set to shine in New York – Alan Williams:

Promotion and sales are the focus for two top New Zealand knitting yarn marketers later this week at the Vogue Knit Live fair in New York.

Marnie Kelly and Bev Forrester will be showing their yarns in front of thousands of knitters from all over the United States and many others from round the world, in the heart of Times Square.

They sell to American and Canadian tourists in NZ and to customers online, and now they want to use the fair to attract retailers who can provide them with a bigger market. . .

Sizzling summer brings boats into play

SIZZLING, dry conditions in Queensland mean the prospect of feed grain being brought around from South Australia to Brisbane to boat becomes ever more likely.

Once considered fanciful, analysts now suggest the economics of bringing feed grain in from southern areas is now a strong possibility.

Lloyd George, AgScientia, said with the planting window for sorghum in southern Queensland rapidly closing and largely inelastic demand, end-users were casting their net ever further afield to source stocks. . .

ACCC has concerns over Murray Goulburn’s takeover of WCB –  Tim Binsted and Jared Lynch:

The competition regulator has cast doubts over Murray Goulburn’s claim that its acquisition of Warrnambool Cheese & Butter will yield benefits to the public and re-establish Australian dairy’s global competitiveness.

Murray Goulburn is locked in a fierce $500 million-plus takeover battle for control of WCB with Canadian dairy company Saputo.

Murray Goulburn must convince the Australian Competition Tribunal that the public benefits of its acquisition of WCB outweigh anti-competitive concerns or its bid is finished.

In an issues paper made public on Tuesday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – which is helping the tribunal – rejected Murray Goulburn’s claim that its takeover of WCB would cause no significant lessening of competition. . . .

Food campaigners target Oxford Farming Conference – Johann Tasker:

Campaigners have called on the Oxford Farming Conference to recognise the contribution of small-scale farmers and food producers.

Members of the Land Workers’ Alliance protested outside the conference venue as delegates arrived at the Oxford Examination Rooms on Tuesday (7 January).

The alliance – members of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina – is a group which campaigs for the rights of small producers and a better food system. . .

 Musterer injured after horse collapses – Murray Robertson:

A CASUAL musterer on a farm at Rere was flown to hospital yesterday morning when the horse he was riding died underneath him as they descended a steep hillside.

Emergency services were alerted at about 11am.

The 69-year-old horseman suffered neck, head and facial injuries in the mishap. He was flown to Waikato Hospital yesterday afternoon after being assessed at Gisborne Hospital’s emergency department. . .

Manning the panic station – Tim Fulton:

It was just on five minutes to six in the half light of the morning when a cry rang out.

My wife’s urgent tone was comparable to the fright of a burglar in the living room: “Tim, Tim…the sheep are in the garden.”

Our sheep – a modest tally of four ewes and five lambs – make a mockery of our attempt at fencing.

The artificial barriers between yard and garden grow ever higher but still the mini flock tests weak links in the wire. . .


Rural round-up

October 12, 2013

Living up to our global responsibilities – Bruce Wills:

Not to give you the wrong impression, but I am writing this column from Geneva, where I have co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s trade policy to the World Trade Organisation. I am back in Europe thanks to the WTO but it has helped to advance New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy.

As a trading nation, we absolutely depend on trade in a world that is utterly dependent upon food. There are some things which keep me awake at night. Adverse weather events and biosecuirty being chief among them but there is a third which increasingly gnaws at me. That is a perfect storm of food production not keeping pace with a world population expected to hit 9.3 billion stomachs in the year 2050; an amazing 2.3 billion more than today.

Henk-Jen Brinkman, of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, called food insecurity “a threat multiplier”. . .

Angus farmers see grass is greener – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand’s grass-based feeding system for cattle was the main talking point of 110 international visitors at Te Mania Angus, during one of the first stops of a South Island tour, before the World Angus Forum in Rotorua next week.

Overseas visitors were treated to a wide selection of angus heifers with calves, mature calving cows, yearling bulls and herd sires, at the breeding operation at Conway Flats, south of Kaikoura.

They were also impressed by food prepared by celebrity chef Al Brown for their Monday visit at one of the largest angus breeding operations in New Zealand, and its setting next to the sea, with a snow-topped mountain backdrop. . . .

Milk powder scare will cause long term disruption – Alan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the effects of Fonterra’s botulism scare will last much longer than originally hoped or imagined. Its impact on New Zealand’s international trade reputation gives the impression of being more disastrous than an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, always assumed to be the biggest disaster that could possibly happen.

Economically there is no comparison between the two, because the botulism that wasn’t has initially done no more than cause infant formula manufacturers a loss of business. There has been no apparent impact on dairy payouts or even global auction prices. Fonterra appears to be pretending the whole saga wasn’t even its fault, if its reaction to Danone’s damages claim is any guide.   . .

Sainsbury’s evaluating merits of docking – Alan Williams:

Big United Kingdom supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will be guided by the science on issues it is working on with leading lamb supplier Alliance Group.

These are the docking of lambs’ tails and the use of high-sugar grasses as a livestock feed in New Zealand.

Animal welfare and sustainable production were key parts of Sainsbury’s strategic vision and its work with Alliance was part of the process to have matching values between the main UK lamb supply group and NZ suppliers, the chain’s agriculture manager Philip Hambling said.

The first year of a three-year tail-docking research programme, reported in The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, has been completed.

It produced interesting findings but it was too early to draw conclusions, Hambling said. . .

Gisborne forest boom predicted – Pam Graham:

The harvesting of forests in the Gisborne-Tairawhiti region on the East Coast will create 630 jobs by 2020, potentially reducing drug abuse and crime in the region, according to a report.

A study by Waikato University for the Eastland Wood Council says that by 2020 up to 10 percent of the population of Gisborne will be involved in, or derive a living from forestry.

Salaries and wages to Gisborne residents are likely to increase to $151 million a year in that period.

The number of people receiving welfare benefits will go down, schools will benefit from having parents employed and there may be less drug abuse and crime. . .

Weather helping croppers – Murray Robertson:

THE weather has been helping the district’s croppers in the past week to catch up with their planting programmes after heavy rain last month.

This is a crucial time for every crop and cropper in the district.

Leaderbrand general manager Richard Burke said they had everything they needed at this time.

“Things are pretty good really. . .

Awards offer chance to put spotlight on sustainability – Sue O’Dowd:

There’s no time like the present to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says national judging co-ordinator Jamie Strang.

Earlier this week the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) confirmed eight entries had been received for the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The prestigious awards, which are held in 12 regions, are being staged in the province for the first time.

While some farmers said they wanted to delay entering the competition because they thought their farm wasn’t quite ready, often they’d say the same thing in following years, Strang said.

Many farmers did not like being in the spotlight, but entering the awards offered many benefits. . .

Solid start to avocado export sales:

The first of this season’s New Zealand avocados have started hitting the supermarket shelves in Japan this week in a buoyant start to export sales there, and opening prices in Australia are at their best.

Rival Mexican supply is lower, which has allowed Avanza, the international export brand channel for AVOCO, to start early season negotiations in Japan at significantly improved market prices. While this is partly offset by an unfavourable exchange rate it still reflects a significant improvement in grower OGR (orchard gate returns).

At the same time, interest in New Zealand avocados is proving to be strong in developing markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and there are encouraging signs that Avanza sales will resume in Hong Kong after a two-year absence. . .


Rural round-up

September 21, 2013

Champions drive clean streams – Jon Morgan:

Ossie Latham introduces himself as a tree hugger. But he’s more than that. He’s a tree hugger who aims to get everyone in Manawatu’s Mangaone West catchment hugging trees with him.

He’s a farmer who headed to Auckland to make his fortune in business before retiring back home to a small farm.

And he’s also one of Alastair Cole’s community champions. Cole, Landcare Trust’s regional co-ordinator, looks for enthusiastic volunteers to drive environmental protection.

Three big projects are underway in the region, all with the aim of making the Manawatu River cleaner. . .

Global Beef Priorities Advanced at Five Nations Conference – says Beef + Lamb New Zealand:

International trade was front and centre of discussions at the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) conference in Cairns Australia last week.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chair-Elect, James Parsons led New Zealand’s participation in the annual conference of beef cattle producer organisations from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Chief Executive, Scott Champion and General Manager Market Access, Ben O’Brien also attended alongside three “young ranchers” Richard Morrison (of Marton), Pete Fitz-Herbert (of Hunterville) and Lauren McWilliam (of Masterton).

The key action item was the signing of a position statement on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. . .

Farmers face two-year wait for new green scheme – Johann Tasker:

Environmental schemes that reward farmers who look after the English countryside will be closed to most new applicants for two years as the government implements CAP reform, it has emerged.

In a move described by some critics as a “massive threat” to wildlife and the countryside, DEFRA has no plans to let farmers sign new agri-environment agreements during the whole of 2015 as the department develops a successor to its existing environmental stewardship scheme. . .

Minister attending Inter-American agricultural conference:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will depart for Argentina tomorrow to attend the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) conference.

“This will be a valuable opportunity to meet with my counterparts from Latin America, the US, Canada and the Caribbean, to discuss some of the issues and opportunities facing the agricultural sector across the world.

“Some of the issues covered will include the work of the Global Research Alliance of which New Zealand is a major supporter, and the importance of water storage and management.”

Mr Guy will also visit Uruguay and Paraguay to meet with officials and his Ministerial counterparts. . .

Bumblebee talents being recognised – Richard Rennie:

The humble bumblebee is about to get a boost for its pollination skills from scientists and farm retailers this spring.

For the first time Farmlands is selling commercial box hives of bumblebees to kiwifruit and avocado growers, while scientists celebrate funding for more research into the bee.

Farmlands’ Te Puna branch in western Bay of Plenty is the first to start marketing the bees. . .

Horses sell at a brisk trot – Murray Robertson:

THE annual horse fair at Matawhero yesterday attracted about 140 head, with a top price of $3500 paid for a nine-year-old gelding — and an almost total clearance.

Thirty “broken” horses were sold and about 100 “unbroken” changed hands.

Only about six animals remained unsold at the end of the three-hour sale. . .


Rural round-up

September 1, 2013

Weather warning saved Molesworth – Tony Benny:

Even as a forecasters this week predicted a short, sharp, cold front bringing snow down to 300 metres in Canterbury and 400m in Marlborough, Molesworth Station manager Jim Ward was counting his blessings after escaping relatively unscathed from June’s big snow and was enjoying an early spring.

“At this stage, it’s like it is in October – we’ve got beautiful days, we’ve got a bit of green coming away, and the moisture levels are up in the soil,” Ward said.

“We’ve noticed the bird life that turns up in the spring, like oyster catchers – they turned up a bit earlier and there’s a lot more of them so I think that’s a pretty good indication. We could still get a dump now but we’re quite chirpy.” . .

Vision for dairying future is explained – Murray Robertson:

AN $18 million investment proposal has been laid out to get the Ata Milk concept up and running in the Wairoa-Gisborne-East Coast region.

The proposal was presented to a group of about 60 interested people on Thursday afternoon in Gisborne.

The man who has spent the past 10 years developing the principles of Caring Dairying and Ata Milk, Dr Hugh Jellie, outlined his vision for the resurgence of dairying in this region.

“I am very humbled by the level of interest and support shown.”

His dream was to take this region “back to the future”, he said. . .

Dairy potential profiled – Murray robertson:

THE Ata Milk and Caring Dairying proposal for Tairawhiti has the potential to produce more than double the returns achieved by dry-stock farming and cropping, initiator Dr Hugh Jellie said in a presentation in Gisborne this week.

Around 60 interested people heard his vision for the resurgence of dairying in this district.

An investment proposal was laid out for consideration, to raise $18 million to establish the first stage of the project. . .

Gaining a good foothold – Murray Robertson:

GISBORNE now has a new “master” farrier trained by long-time master farrier Dick Parsons.

Ben Akuhata-Brown recently passed his final examination.

“Ben has attained the top qualification for equine practice in New Zealand,” Mr Parsons said.

The 28-year-old started work as an apprentice farrier with Mr Parsons when he left school. . .

Pea-fect conditions for crops – Tim Cronshaw:

Pea crops are springing out of the ground because of unseasonably warm Canterbury weather.

Processor and exporter Wattie’s is already 10 per cent through its sowing schedule ending December and at this rate is expected to bring forward harvesting to the last week of November.

Planting is based in Pendarves in the early pea growing Rakaia area and in Southbridge and Leeston and will then move to Aylesbury and Kirwee before advancing further afield.

Wattie’s South Island agricultural manager Mark Daniels said contracted growers had made a fast start to the planting season, and this was always preferred to get a crop established. . .

Sophie happy to swap fame for farm

She may have travelled the world chasing rowing medals, but for Sophie MacKenzie there’s no place like home. The 21-year-old enjoyed some well-earned time off after picking up a bronze in Austria, checking out the sights of Europe, but she couldn’t wait to return to the top of the valley, her hugely-supportive parents and a menagerie of animals.

As comfortable in gumboots and a farm ute as she is in a double scull, Sophie has found the ideal place to chill out after the high-pressure demands of international sport.

“I’ve never been so excited to come home . . . and see all my animals (I love them), do a bit of farm work, get back to my hills,” she said. . .


Rural round-up

August 19, 2013

Growing good apps to protect crops:

Smartphones that respond to signals from plants? Laptops that co-ordinate irrigation at dozens of vineyards? Remote weather stations programmed to text frost alerts?

Many commercial growers are using laptops, tablets or smartphones to keep costs down and production up. Home gardeners too, if they can afford it.

Apps may get more attention but they’re small potatoes compared with the software and online programs already at work or being tested for horticultural use. Simply scanning a monitor or applying a few keystrokes can save water and fuel, redirect a labour force or protect a crop. . .

New role fulfils rural passion – Sally Rae:

Kim Reilly recalls how she was a ”ridiculous tomboy”, growing up in a farming family on the Taieri Plains, – so it was no surprise that she pursued a career in the rural sector.

Dunedin-based Mrs Reilly (41), a senior policy adviser for Federated Farmers, has taken over from Matt Harcombe as regional policy manager South Island, following his move to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Working for the rural lobby organisation provided her with the challenge of utilising her tertiary qualifications, while also maintaining her passion for the rural lifestyle and a firm belief in the importance of farming. . .

Unmanned aerial vehicle monitors river pollution – Laura Macdonald:

A Wairarapa farmer’s developing an unmanned aerial vehicle that can be programmed to fly remotely to take video of the state of our rivers.

It’s being tested with the help of Victoria University in the hope it’ll be used by regional councils trying to get to grips with the problem of polluted waterways.

An unmanned aerial vehicle is the last tool in the effort to monitor New Zealand’s fresh water. It’s being test flown in the Wairarapa over the Muir family farm.

“We don’t actually see a lot of what is going on in the back country of New Zealand, and with this we can actually see it,” says farmer James Muir. . .

Making money on dairy futures – post botulism – Michael Field:

Fonterra’s botulism scare may have scared people off buying milk powder and knocked New Zealand’s international trade, but it may have helped financial traders making money off it.

Two years ago, the New Zealand stock exchange launched a futures trading market for milk powder.

NZX Dairy Futures notched up a record trading month last month, and this week – just as Fonterra executive Gary Romano resigned over the botulism scandal – it had a record trading day. . . .

Bold dairy comeback – Murray Robertson:

DAIRY farming will make a big comeback to the Gisborne-East Coast district if a bold new move by landowner partners in the new Ata Milk brand comes to fruition.

The man spearheading the Ata Milk concept, Dr Hugh Jellie, said it’s about “taking the region back to the future”.

He has been working on the project for 10 years.

Dr Jellie and his partner Sheryl Andersen moved to Gisborne from the Bay of Plenty six months ago.

“To get this community project off the ground, it’s important to be part of the community.” . . .

Wineries suffer further damage from latest quake:

Marlborough wineries have suffered more losses and damage from Friday’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake than they did from the 21 July event.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens says a number of wineries in the region closed after the big quake struck on Friday afternoon and structural engineers will be assessing the damage during the week.

He says there has probably been some wine loss, although how much is not really known at this stage.

“I think a number of the tanks, the way they behave would have spilt wine out the top … and those wine losses are financial losses as well.” . . .

Science award winner values time at Invermay – Sally Rae:

George Davis, who spent decades working at Invermay, has been acknowledged by the sheep industry for his contribution to sheep industry science.

Now retired, Dr Davis received the Silver Fern Farms sheep industry science award at the second annual Beef and Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards in Invercargill last week.

It was both a very nice occasion and a nice surprise to receive the award and it was also special to be recognised by the industry, Dr Davis said.

The award acknowledged his contribution to New Zealand’s significant international profile in sheep genomics research. . .

What is a new potato? New guidelines issued:

A complaint to trading standards officers in Scotland has led to an industry body issuing a new description of what constitutes a “new potato”.

South Ayrshire Council was asked to investigate whether new potatoes were stored for long periods before sale.

It found that in some cases newly-harvested potatoes were stored for up to seven months before being sold.

The Potato Council has now drawn up an industry standard definition after the council raised its concerns.

The traditional description of a new potato is that it has been specially grown and harvested early, with a thin skin or one you can rub off with a finger. . .


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