Rural round-up

05/01/2021

Cherry crops ruined by rain – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago cherry growers have lost millions of dollars of crop after 36 hours of persistent and heavy rain destroyed yet-to-be-picked fruit.

While damage was still being assessed some growers estimate losses at between 30% and 60% and more rain is forecast.

Growers in Earnscleugh, near Clyde, took advantage of a brief reprieve from the rain yesterday morning to assess the damage to what were bumper crops in a season plagued by concerns about labour shortages.

The area was one of the hardest hit by the rain which began on New Year’s Day and did not let up until about 8.30am yesterday, causing the Fraser River to breach its banks coupled with localised runoff from the hills. . . 

Waitaki District flooding: clean-up underway :

Farmers in the Waitaki District, which was inundated with heavy rain at the weekend, remain in clean-up mode today.

Parts of the region were battered by torrential rain on Saturday, flooding streets and closing roads.

Campers at the Otematata River had to be evacuated as the river threatened to break the flood bank.

Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher said it’s been a mixed bag for farmers in the district. . .  

Plea to report farm thefts as high season for crime nears – Lawrence Gullery:

Police and rural leaders are urging those living and working on the land to report crime as the traditional spike in summer theft approaches.

FMG Insurance said its claims data showed January was when thieves set out to steal from rural properties.

And FMG manager advice services Stephen Cantwell said theft was the leading cause of farm contents claims.

“In our experience lower value quad bikes are the most common stolen item on the farm. . . 

New Zealand cheeses could face renaming under EU rules – Dave Gooselink:

There could be some new names on your cheeseboards in summers to come if the European Union gets its way. It wants to stop Kiwi cheesemakers from using names like feta and gorgonzola.

This creamy cheese has been in development at Whitestone for the last two years, using a unique mould strain found in North Otago.

“When we talk about it, it’s like that style of a gorgonzola, but we’re calling it Oamaru blue because it’s here from Oamaru,” says Simon Berry, managing director of Whitestone Cheese and spokesperson for New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association.

Developing unique varieties is set to become more important. The European Union wants to ban other countries from using ‘their’ cheese names in local products. . .

Chops gained with time – Abbey Palmer:

For 15-year-old wood-chopper Jack Richards, it is all about not trying to “run before you can crawl’’.

The Eastern Bush resident was one of the youngest contestants to have a crack at this year’s Tuatapere Sports Day wood-chopping competition, an event he has taken part in for the past four years.

Axemen from across the country made their way to the Southland town yesterday for the annual event on the first day of 2021 to go head to head in the challenge.

When Jack was watching his parents take part in the sport when he was just 11 years old he thought, “why not give it a go?”. . . 

Carter joins Ruralco board – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Agriculture Minister and Banks Peninsula farmer David Carter has been elected to the board of rural trader, Ruralco.

Carter took up his directorship at the co-operative’s annual meeting last month, replacing former chairman Alister Body who stepped down after nine years on the board.

Carter, one of National’s longest serving MPs, retired at the last general elections after serving as a parliamentarian for 26 years and in a number of National governments as a cabinet minister, including Agriculture Minister and Speaker of the House.

He says joining the Ruralco Board is a chance to offer his experience to his first passion—New Zealand agriculture. . . 

UK farming to begin ‘new era’ in 2021, NFU president says

British farming is set to begin a ‘new era’ in 2021 as the UK leaves the Brexit transition period and implements a new agriculture policy for the first time in 70 years.

This is according to NFU President Minette Batters, who said in her new year message that 2020 was a ‘year like no other’ for British food producers.

“While we have all seen significant changes and challenges in the past 12 months, I would like to thank the public for their continued support for British farming and all it delivers; we simply wouldn’t be where we are today without it.”

She added that the successful conclusion of a deal between the UK and EU was a ‘very positive step forward’, and it should ‘provide comfort’ to farmers and the public. . . 


Rural round-up

29/12/2020

How to avoid harm on the farm – Rowena Duncum:

I’ve always loved rural New Zealand.

Growing up beside a farm, I’d spend hours hanging over the back fence talking to the animals or across the road in the other direction, feeding grass and carrots to the rescued horses in the SPCA paddock.

Some of my happiest memories of childhood holidays are visiting family on their farms around the country. It’s a rite of passage growing up in Aotearoa. As I reached adulthood and became a farmer myself, I loved being on the other side of the fence – hosting friends and family as they came to visit, bringing their own budding farmers to see the animals or milking. . . 

Alliance Group to repay wage subsidy in full :

Invercargill-based Alliance Group has chosen to return the balance of the Covid-19 wage subsidy to the Government.The farmer-owned meat processor had already repaid $21 million of the $34m wage subsidy and will return the balance, it said.

“From the outset, Alliance has been clear we would only use the wage subsidy in the way it was intended by government and our previous repayments reflect this commitment,” chairman Murray Taggart said in a statement.

“Following the filing of our company accounts last month, the Alliance board believes the co-operative is in a position to repay the remaining balance,” he said. . .

A2 Milk hopes to expand production at Southland plant :

A2 Milk is a step closer to taking a controlling stake in Mataura Valley Milk, but says it will be at least a couple of years before it starts making profits.

ATM disclosed its intentions in August and has now entered binding agreements to buy a 75 percent stake in the Southland based infant formula maker.

The move is part of ATM’s plans to diversify its production and broaden its range of products.

“MVM provides a unique opportunity to acquire a new world class nutritional products manufacturing capability in New Zealand, alongside a highly respected China state owned enterprise in China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG),” A2 Milk chief executive Geoff Babidge said. . .

M. bovis eradication going to plan but still work to do:

Significant progress has been made in driving down the numbers of farms affected by Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).


We’re on track to achieve eradication, but there’s still a lot of hard work ahead of us. We expect to find more infected herds as we actively look for those final pockets of infection, so we all need to remain vigilant.

As Programme partners, MPI, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand are working together to support affected farmers through this eradication programme. . .

Detector dogs could sniff out AFB and save beekeepers millions of dollars:

Training dogs to sniff out the highly infectious bacterial disease American Foulbrood (AFB) in beehives could save New Zealand’s beekeeping industry several million dollars a year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is contributing $50,000 through Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) towards the one-year, $95,000 project.

The project aims to develop a scientific methodology for training detection dogs to reliably detect AFB, by creating a ‘scent picture’ of the disease. . . 

Blurred lines between animal welfare and animal ethics – Shan Goodwin:

ONE of the key elements of animal welfare science commonly misunderstood is that it is the animal’s perception of its conditions that counts, not those of humans.

So says one of the country’s leading experts in the field, Warrnambool veterinarian and senior lecturer in cattle medicine at Melbourne University Dr David Beggs.

The differences between animal welfare and animal ethics – and where the biggest challenges to livestock production may lay with the latter – was explored by Dr Beggs in a recent episode of the RawAg podcast produced by southern seedstock operation Te Mania Angus. . .


Rural round-up

20/12/2020

Why banning RSE workers here won’t improve wages for local agricultural workers – Eric Crampton:

They thought banning migrant farm labour would boost wages for native-born farm workers. They were wrong. And New Zealand may be getting ready to repeat their mistake.

On December 31, 1964, the United States ended the bracero agreements between the US and Mexico, after two years of tightened restrictions. The agreements, which began in 1942, regulated the movement of lower-skilled migrant labour – particularly for seasonal agricultural work. By the early 1960s, about half a million Mexican farm workers migrated to American farms for seasonal agricultural work on contracts lasting from six weeks to six months.

The Kennedy administration believed that the bracero agreements reduced American farm labour wages. It also did not help that the senior commissioner in the Department of Labour investigation of the bracero programme was a eugenicist who believed Mexicans were genetically inferior. . .

How $2 a punnet of strawberries is bad for kiwi growers

A punnet of strawberries for $2 at the supermarket may be a bargain for consumers, but it’s “particularly painful” for Kiwi growers, Michael Ahern says.

“Growers are not happy at all, in fact some of them are opening up their gardens to pick-your-own early to find some way to gain recovery by keeping costs down,” Ahern, who is executive manager for Strawberry Growers New Zealand, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“That’s not the way they want to do it – but they’re professional growers and they want normal, orthodox channels to market on a weekly basis.”

“They’re big boys and girls and they can suck it up to a certain extent – but this one is particularly painful.” . .

Agility key to Alliance success board chair says – Louise Steyl:

Agility is Alliance Group’s biggest strength as it battles trade issues around the world, board chairman Murray Taggart says.

Apart from the obvious impacts of Covid-19, issues like Great Britain exiting the European Union posed potential export risks, he said.

“Trade relationships always wax and wane.”

But the Chinese market remained the meat processing co-operative’s most important market. . .

A gut feeling backed by science – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Sheep breeding has become a science, and with technology and stock management, these three elements have combined in the sheep breeder of today.

For South Otago farmer Garth Shaw, it began with the Coopworth, the result of crossing the Romney and Border Leicester, developed at Lincoln College as a dual-purpose breed in 1950.

The Shaws began farming at Wharetoa, which means strong house in Maori, near Clydevale in 1966. They started breeding Coopworth rams in 1975.

“We have always run a commercial flock alongside our stud flock and have used the commercial flock to benchmark as new breeds and markets become available and also to test our genetic progress within a commercial setting,” Mr Shaw said. . . 

Shift from town to country rewarding:

Nicky Tily works with up to 4000 pigs — and loves every minute of it.

Ms Tily (23), who grew up in urban Christchurch and worked in the food service sector, is now a junior stockperson.

“Pigs are so intelligent. I enjoy everything about the job.”

She had always liked the idea of working with animals or on a farm and considered a career in vet nursing. However, having completed a six-month course, gaining a National Certificate in Animal Husbandry, she decided against vet nursing.

Her first job in the farming sector was with Mapua stud at Southbridge, which included a sheep stud, dairy grazing, cropping and a 120 sow outdoor piggery. She enjoyed all of the work, but particularly working with the pigs. . . 

Picking a poinsettia – Heather Barnes:

Poinsettias may traditionally be red, but as I learned on a recent visit to Homewood Nursery and Garden Center, these holiday decorating staples come in many colors.

Unlike many flowering shrubs (yes, poinsettia is a shrub), their color doesn’t come from the flowers.  The colorful part is a bract, or modified leaf.  

I have a cat who loves to eat plants, so I’ve never bought poinsettias because I thought they were poisonous.  I thought wrong. The American Veterianary Medical Assocaition says they can cause a skin irriation but rates them a lower risk than other holiday plants. While people shouldn’t eat them either, Poison Control says the plant “can be irritating but it is not fatal if eaten.”  The sap can cause a skin rash on people wo are allergic to latex, since both have some of the same proteins. . .

 


Rural round-up

22/11/2020

Woodchips to help solve nitrogen problem – Peter Burke:

Preventing nitrogen getting into waterways is high on the priority list for many farmers and growers.

There is no silver bullet because farms are different and what works on one property won’t work on another.

Peter Burke recently went along to a field day where a solution using innovative drainage technology, which is based on good science and with minimal cost to the farmer, is being trialled.

The setting is Waitatapia Station near Bulls in the Manawatu.

Weka could be the key to solve NZ’s pest problems –

Could weka be a key to helping deal with NZ’s pest problem? A new study shows weka eat rodents, rabbits and even stoats, helping to suppress population numbers and protect other wildlife.

Lead author of the study and post-doctoral researcher for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Dr Jo Carpenter, told Midday Report: “We were interested in whether weka could be able to help New Zealand out in controlling these invasive mammalian pests”.

Those involved reviewed scientific studies to find out about what weka ate to see if they had eaten invasive mammals.

“What we found was yes, there are quite a few studies that have found weka eating rodents, rats and mice and also quite commonly rabbits but also even stoats as well, which is pretty phenomenal.” . . 

Alliance puts in good performance despite Covid-19 :

Meat co-op Alliance Group announced an underlying profit of $27.4 million for 2020. Adjusted for one-off events, the annual profit result was $7.5 million before tax.

The co-operative achieved a turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

New Zealand’s only 100% farmer-owned major red meat co-operative achieved a record turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

Murray Taggart, chair of Alliance Group, said it is a good performance for the company given the disruption and volatility in global markets due to Covid-19.

Biosecurity champions recognised at 2020 awards night:

The winners of the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, announced last night at a ceremony in Wellington, represent some of Aotearoa’s most outstanding efforts to protect our unique environment from pests and diseases.

The awards recognise organisations, volunteers, businesses, iwi, hapū, government, and tamariki around the country who are contributing to biosecurity – in our bush, our oceans and waterways, and in our backyards.

Taking out top honours with the supreme award was Miraka, a Taupō-based dairy company that has created an extensive course educating their suppliers about biosecurity risks in the dairy industry from cow to bottle. 

The winners include people at the forefront of a wide variety of exceptional and innovative biosecurity-related projects, from those who have been trapping possums to protect our native birds, to learning about marine pests.  . . .

Buyers keep up with bumper crops AIMI survey shows:

With total grain production for the 2019/20 season well up over one million tonnes, it’s great to see that willing growers are finding willing buyers, Federated Farmers Arable Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, says.

According to the just-released October Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) report, cereal grain production (wheat, barley and oats) for the season totaled an estimated 881,800 tonnes, and maize grain 181,800 tonnes, for a total of 1,063,600 tonnes.

Unsold stocks of grain, across all six crops are estimated to have reduced by 50 percent between 1 July and October 10.

Even when compared to the same time last year, unsold stocks across all six crops are pretty much unchanged, with an increase in the unsold stocks of milling and feed wheat (57,600 tonnes, up by 18,600 tonnes) offset by a decrease in unsold stocks of malting and feed barley (38,700 tonnes, down by 18,900 tonnes), Brian said. . . 

New methane maths could take the heat off cows – Georgie Smith:

Oxford University researchers are pushing for a new method of measuring greenhouse gas emissions and their warming impact.

Myles Allen, Ph.D., a professor of Geosystem Science and head of the Climate Dynamics Group at Oxford Martin, University of Oxford, has a beef with how the impact of methane emissions on global warming is wrongly calculated — and then misconstrued to blame livestock for climate change.

He and his Oxford Martin colleagues have proposed a new metric called GWP* (global warming potential – star), which focuses on the warming effects of the different gases, rather than their rate of emissions. The current mischaracterization of methane’s impact on warming, Allen told The Daily Churn, ignores the “white elephant” in the room — fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide emissions. This in turn could lead to misguided policies that inaccurately target animal agriculture.

“If we all turn vegetarian, but we don’t do anything about fossil fuel emissions, in five years we’ll be in exactly the same position we were before,” Allen says of rising global temperatures. But “we’re vegetarians.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

09/10/2020

Tractors take to Gore streets as farmers protest freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

Southland farmers have made their feelings about the Government’s new freshwater rules known by clogging Gore’s main street with tractors.

More than 100 machines and some bulk sowers were driven through the town in protest of new rules for farmers, which the Government introduced in September with the aim of improving freshwater quality.

And as the big machines convoyed down the street, many shoppers stopped to watch, and other drivers tooted their horns in support.

It was the first major protest after Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young called on farmers to boycott the new rules in August. . . 

 

 

 

Balance needed between regulation and innovation – Warwick Catto:

 In recent years, New Zealand’s farmers have found themselves subject to increasingly strict rules and regulations.

These are mainly in terms of how they operate, enforced as a key part of our nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contamination in our waterways. 

A quick review of the environmental policies announced so far by some of our key political parties, ahead of the election on October 17, suggests that further, harsher restrictions are likely. 

There’s no doubt that our agricultural sector has a vitally important part to play in New Zealand’s response to these key environmental challenges, and overwhelmingly, farmers are more than willing to adapt to meet the standards required of them.  . . 

Spotlight on vet shortage :

While the primary sector has been hailed as a saviour of the New Zealand economy during covid restrictions, a critical shortage of veterinarians and its impact on the primary sector just doesn’t seem to be viewed as important or sexy enough to see border restrictions streamlined.

“We’re led to the conclusion that veterinarians are just not viewed as important, or as sexy as other parts of the economy such as film making, which have seen wholesale exemptions created,” New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) chief executive Kevin Bryant says.

“This is surprising given veterinarians’ essential worker status during lockdown.

“We also understand that exemptions have been granted to build golf courses, build or repair racetracks and for shearers. Surely, veterinarians are at least as important in supporting the economic functioning of the country. . . 

Headwaters sheep ‘definitely superior‘ –

‘‘Being part of The Omega Lamb Project really gives you the best of both worlds,’’ North Otago farmer Ben Douglas says.

Mr Douglas and wife Sarah, and his parents, David and Cindy, farm 6000ha Dome Hills Station, near Danseys Pass.

‘‘My father tried various breeds in the past but we’ve found the Headwaters sheep is definitely superior for our type of farming. We’re very happy with their resilience and their performance. Then you have a whole other side, with the special qualities of the Omega lambs, the omega 3, the good intramuscular fats and the exceptional flavour and texture,’’ he said.

The 100% Headwaters flock was already established at Dome Hills when Mr Douglas returned to the station six years ago, following his university studies and then a banking career in New Zealand and London. . . 

It’s all kosher – Taggart –  David Anderson:

Farmer-owned cooperative Alliance Group says it has already returned $17 million of the $34.3 million it claimed from the Covid-19 wage subsidy.

In a statement to Rural News, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said the co-op had been “open and upfront” about the wage subsidy.

“We have been in ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Social Development about the application of the subsidy and stated from the outset that we would return any funds not used to pay people. In line with that commitment, we have returned $17 million of the subsidy.”

Taggart said the company’s application for the wage subsidy was supported and endorsed by the New Zealand Meat Workers Union. . .

Soil carbon influences climate, farm productivity– Professor Louis Schipper:

In the first of three articles about soil carbon, Prof Louis Schipper from the University of Waikato explains why soil carbon matters to farmers, what influences it and what we currently know about carbon stocks in New Zealand’s pastoral soils.

Soil carbon is one of the most talked-about subjects in agriculture. 

That’s not surprising because carbon-rich soils support vigorous crop and pasture growth, and may be more resilient to stressors such as drought.

Changes in soil carbon stocks over time might also affect the climate.  . . 

Sheep farmers ask industries to make wool ‘first choice’:

Sheep producers are encouraging industries to make wool their choice of fibre as a campaign gets underway to highlight its natural qualities.

The sheep sector is celebrating the start of Wool Week (5 October – 18) today, and farmers are calling on politicians and green activists to back British wool.

The annual event aims to put a spotlight on wool’s natural performance qualities and ecological benefits.

The sector is keen to highlight the fact that fabrics such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are all forms of plastic and make up about 60% of the material that makes up clothes worldwide. . . 


Rural round-up

31/12/2019

Land Champion: helping girls gain confidence – Neal Wallace:

Laura Douglas has successfully slayed her demons and is now using everyday farming skills to help teenage girls confront theirs.

Depression four years ago thrust the 32-year-old Southlander into some dark places, places unimaginable today given her boundless energy, endless positivity and zest for life and people.

Douglas addressed her depression by taking small steps, getting out and doing things such as volunteering at a horse refuge and celebrating small achievements. . .

Alliance aiming for ‘greater value’ as part of evolution – Brent Melville:

Southland-based  farmer co-operative Alliance Group wants to capture “greater value” from its products as part of its evolution to a food and solutions business, chairman Murray Taggart says.

Last month, Alliance Group announced a profit of $20.7million before distributions and tax, on revenue of $1.7billion.

It has now paid $9million to its supplying shareholders.

Mr Taggart said it was the best trading result since 2010.

“While this year’s result enabled us to reward shareholders with a profit distribution, we recognise the need to lift the profitability further. . . 

Land Champion: Many string in Jones’ bow – Annette Scott:

From humble beginnings 19 years ago Matt and Tracey Jones now do business worldwide to help Canterbury farmers staff their farms and have launched a world class learning environment in rural Mid Canterbury to provide elite education to strengthen New Zealand primary industries. Annette Scott caught up with the agribusiness entrepreneurs.

Mid Canterbury couple Matt and Tracey Jones’ agricultural staffing businesses is going world-wide recruiting and training people to work across all sectors of New Zealand’s primary industries.

Starting out as Mid Canterbury Casual Employment Services in 2001 their recruitment and training business has evolved and expanded to meet agriculture’s increasing needs. . .

$42.55m in I billion trees project funding:

Figures released by Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand) this week show 228 grant applications were received for funding under the Government’s One Billion Trees Programme this year, a total of $42.55million being allocated across 42 projects.

Te Uru Rakau acting deputy director-general Sam Keenan said $22.2million of that had been approved across 10,758.4 hectares of new planting.

“To date approximately 17,056,165 trees comprised of 9,785,067 native and 7,271,098 exotic trees have been funded.” . . 

Ngāi Tahu hopes to raise funds for undaria management by selling the seaweed – Louisa Steyl:

It’s a frigid morning off the coast of Dunedin when a wetsuit-clad diver rises to the surface clutching a slimy prize.

The trophy is a seaweed known as undaria pinnatifida – a pest native to Japan and Korea – and physically cutting it out is the only way to control it. 

On board the Polaris 2, a research vessel stationed just a few metres away, members of Ngāi Tahu is processing and packing the seaweed for research.

Its trying to determine the possible uses of undaria in the hopes that harvesting it could pay for control efforts.  . . 

 

Planning to feed? Try the calculator app to help come with complex decisions :

Livestock producers are now planning for difficult conditions through summer and autumn, going into winter.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services have advised producers to use available tools and tactics to develop feasible solutions for worst case to best case scenarios.

DPI sheep development officer, Geoff Casburn, said the free Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play to help calculate feed requirements, costs and budgets and develop cost effective feeding strategies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

24/11/2019

Canterbury farmers fearing as much as an 80 percent crop loss from hailstorm – Kaysha Brownlie:

Canterbury farmers are scrambling to salvage what was spared from hail the size of eggs which pummelled Canterbury this week.

Some of them are fearing as much as an 80 percent crop loss after two severe storms battered the region.

Insurers said they’ve received hundreds of claims after the egg-sized hail and driving rain caused extensive damage. . . .

Fowl under fire for pollution – Neal Wallace:

Southland dairy farmers have become more compliant with their resource consent conditions with the rate of significant non-compliance last year falling from 1.9% to 1.8%.

In the 2018-19 year council staff inspected 783 dairy effluent discharge consents either on-site or by air and found 634 fully compliant, 139 graded as low risk or moderately non-compliant and 10, or 1.8%, as significantly non-compliant.

The previous year 922 sites were inspected, some more than twice, and 17, or 1.9%, were found to be significantly non-compliant.

The council’s regulatory committee chairman Neville Cook said the improvement shows farmers are aware of their responsibilities and are doing something about it. . . .

Landcorp subsidiary sued for hundreds of thousands by Australian sheep farmers – Gerard Hutching:

An Australian farming couple is suing Landcorp subsidiary Focus Genetics for hundreds of thousands of dollars because they cannot access their sheep genetics data.

The Wellington High Court recently conducted an urgent hearing over whether Damien and Kirsten Croser, fourth generation farmers from South Australia, could access some of the data for this season’s mating.

The urgent hearing is separate to an application to sue Focus Genetics. Originally the Crosers said they would sue for $1.9 million, but their claim has been reduced to an undisclosed sum. . .

Profitable year leaves Alliance in strong position – Brent Melville:

Alliance group has doubled profits to $20.7 million and will pay its farmer shareholders a $9 million fillip for the year to September.

The country’s largest processor and exporter of sheep and lamb products, yesterday reported turnover of $1.7 billion, largely on the back of record demand and prices from China.

Alliance chairman Murray Taggart, said the increase in profit was pleasing and reflected the co-operative’s drive to maximise operational efficiency and focus on capturing greater market value. .

 

 

Wool stains could stop processing  – Alan WIlliams:

Dye-stained wool unsuitable for scouring could be problem for years because of the high volume being stored, New Zealand Woolscouring chief executive Nigel Hales says.

“We’d only be guessing how much wool there is out there but feedback from field reps is that every motorbike they see has a can of spray on it.”

The dye stains in wool cannot be scoured out and a lot of wool is now not being scoured at all though Hales said the amount is not material given the overall volumes. . .

How Dean Foods’ bankruptcy is a ‘warning sign’ to the milk industry – Lillianna Byington:

Wrestling with debt and struggling to adjust to consumer demands, ​America’s largest dairy producer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week.

Analysts told Food Dive this news didn’t come as a shock. A number of factors led to Dean Foods’ decline, including dropping fluid milk consumption, rising competition from private label and milk alternatives, and a complex company history with M&A gone wrong and financial missteps from which it never quite recovered. 

These factors culminated in a decline in revenues that led to the company’s bankruptcy filing​ after several CEOs failed to achieve the task of turning around the troubled business. Experts and analysts say what happened to Dean can serve as a cautionary tale to other businesses in the space.

 


Rural round-up

20/10/2019

Is this the future of irrigation? – Luke Chivers:

Curbing water consumption and the leaching of nitrogen is no easy feat but a major research programme has devised an ingenious plan. Luke Chivers explains.

A six-year research programme on irrigation has ended with a big win for agriculture – the development of promising new sensor technology systems that give arable, vegetable and pastoral farmers the tools to use precision irrigation at sub-paddock scales. 

The systems work alongside existing irrigation scheduling technology, mapping and monitoring a field at sub-paddock scales and calculating exactly how much water is needed at the right time and place. It is a leading development for irrigation and field trials have proved to dramatically reduce water wastage, save users money and minimise farm runoff. . .

On-farm research helps water quality :

An innovative approach to improving environmental sustainability is proving its success in intercepting and treating storm water before it leaves the farm and trials indicate it could be a game-changer for water quality.

A four-year trial has looked at intercepting and treating storm water before it leaves the farm – stopping the phosphorus, sediment and E coli from washing off into Lake Rotorua

The detainment bund science project manager John Paterson says while there is an increasing spotlight on farmers and the impact farming has on waterways, this is a project developed and led by farmers. . .

 

The fourth industrial revolution in agriculture – Sebastiaan Nijhuis and Iris Herrmann:

For agribusinesses, implementing new technologies requires focusing on four critical capabilities.

Do all cows’ faces look the same to you? They don’t to systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Bovine facial recognition technology, developed through a strategic partnership between Cargill and an Irish technology company called Cainthus, equips barns and fields with smart cameras that can identify each cow in a herd in seconds based on facial features and hide patterns. Linked to machine learning software, the system determines whether a cow isn’t eating or drinking enough, or if she’s sick, and can alert the farmer via smartphone app. It can also look at the whole herd’s behavior to identify how best to distribute feed or schedule cows’ stints in a specific pen or in the field. Over time, the platform learns from what it sees and begins to automate more of the daily care for each animal. . . 

Profit improves in better year for Alliance: -Sally Rae:

Alliance Group shareholders can expect a “substantial” improvement in profit performance when the company announces its year ended September 30 financial results, chief executive David Surveyor says.

Speaking at a roadshow meeting in Oamaru this week, Mr Surveyor said it was also very pleasing to announce a profit distribution would be made to shareholders.

Last year, the company posted an operating profit of $8million, down from the previous year’s $20.2million, and did not make a distribution to shareholders.

Chairman Murray Taggart said the company had made “really good” progress again this year but there was “still plenty to do“. . .

Hogget lambing ‘taken a hit’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

The recent bad weather has meant farmers in southern areas and the Southland hill country have ”taken a hit” with hogget lambing, says consultant Deane Carson, of Agribusiness Consultants, Invercargill.

Mr Carson said with the recent wet and windy weather last week, farmers had ”high losses”.

”While farmers in Central Southland have a good lambing and are nearly finished, those who are hogget lambing are getting impacted at the moment.”

He said hill country farmers were also affected by the poor weather, which ”knocked them about a bit”, and they also have had high losses, particularly as their lambing season was later than in other areas. . .

 

 

America’s first urban ‘agrihodd’ feeds 2000.  Households for free -Lacy Cooke:

When you think of Detroit, ‘sustainable‘ and ‘agriculture‘ may not be the first two words that you think of. But a new urban agrihood debuted by The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) might change your mind. The three-acre development boasts a two-acre garden, a fruit orchard with 200 trees, and a sensory garden for kids.

If you need a refresher on the definition of agrihood, MUFI describes it as an alternative neighborhood growth model. An agrihood centers around urban agriculture, and MUFI offers fresh, local produce to around 2,000 households for free. . .


Rural round-up

03/10/2019

Gas targets will divide society – Alan Williams:

Alliance believes its Dannevirke sheep meat plant’s small size will let it survive a big fall in eastern North Island livestock numbers because of a loss of farmland to forestry.

If a similar change in land use happens in Southland the farmer-owned co-operative could be more exposed because the bigger operators in a region are likely to be most affected, chairman Murray Taggart said.

Anecdotal evidence indicates the scale of land use change could mean the loss of half a meat plant in the eastern North Island, he told shareholders in North Canterbury.

The industry believes taking out half a million stock units would essentially close down the equivalent of one plant, he told Farmers Weekly. 

The transparency of the scale of forestry interests buying farmland appears greater in the eastern North Island than in other regions.

It is possible the full extent of the loss of productive farmland might not be picked up until the damage is done. . . 

GM safe and we need it: plant biologists – Associate Professor Richard Macknight, Dr Lynette Brownfield, Associate Professor Paul Dijkwel, Associate Professor Michael Clearwater, Professor Paula Jameson and Dr Nijat Imin:

 A group of scientists belonging to the New Zealand Society of Plant Biologists say it’s time to review GM laws. They say new techniques in gene-editing can help ensure a clean green future for New Zealand.

When genetic modification technologies were newly-developed, people were rightly concerned that this relatively untested technology might harbour risks to health and the environment. So in the year 2000, the NZ government established a Royal Commission into the use of GM. After widespread and careful consultation, the commissioners’ report recommended an approach that preserved opportunities and that NZ should “proceed carefully, minimising and managing risks”. Specifically, around crop plants, the commissioners suggested New Zealand postpone any decision until more information had been obtained and the technology had developed.

The Royal Commission was nearly 20 years ago, so where do things now stand around crop plants?  . . 

Controversial red meat research bucks vegan diet trend recommendations – Stephanie Bedo:

As more people turn to eating less meat, new and “controversial” research gives you reason to return to red meat.

While the vegan trend has taken off, a series of reviews has found there are very few health benefits to cutting your meat consumption.

Based on a series of five high-quality systematic reviews of the relationship between meat consumption and health, a panel of experts recommends that most people can continue to eat red and processed meat at their average current consumption levels. . . 

Miraka pioneers farm carbon report :

Māori-owned milk processor Miraka is now reporting carbon emissions for each of its 100-plus supplier farms.

The Taupo company claims this as a first for New Zealand.

The farm-specific reports give detailed understanding of each farm’s greenhouse gas emissions and compare results between farms.

Miraka’s general manager of milk supply, Grant Jackson, says many of its farmers know little about their carbon footprint. . . 

A toast to the future – what we’ve learned from 200 years of New Zealand wine – Sarah Templeton & Lisette Reymer:

A birthday is always a time for reflection; a time to consider all you’ve achieved and what goals you’d want to tackle in the future.

I imagine that’s no more relevant than at a cool 200th – maybe one day I’ll know, if modern medicine does its thing. 

But believe it or not, this year we’re celebrating the 200th birthday of the New Zealand wine industry, which outdates even the Treaty of Waitangi. 

Aussie Reverend Samuel Marsden recorded September 25, 1819 as the day he first planted a vine in Kerikeri. The birthday was celebrated last week with the replanting of a vine in the same spot outside the Stone Store, accompanied by a celebration dinner and of course, a lot of wine.  . . 

Dutch tractor protest sparks ‘worst rush hour’ – Anna Holligan:

Tractor-driving farmers taking to the streets to demand greater recognition have caused the worst ever Dutch morning rush hour on Tuesday, according to motoring organisation ANWB.

There were 1,136km (700 miles) of jams at the morning peak, it said.

Farmers reacted angrily to claims that they were largely responsible for a nitrogen oxide emissions problem.

A report has called for inefficient cattle farms to be shut down and some speed limits lowered to cut pollution.

Farming groups believe they are being victimised while the aviation industry is escaping scrutiny. . . 


Rural round-up

06/07/2019

BLNZ looking into impact of land conversion – Sally Rae:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has expressed concerns about the potential impacts on communities of ”wholesale conversions” of regions into forestry.

There have been growing concerns in the past few months about the increase in sales of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

In an update to farmers, BLNZ chairman Andrew Morrison said the organisation was working to get a better understanding of exactly what was happening, why it might be happening, quantifying the potential impacts on regional communities, and what the solutions might be. . .

Farmers’ returns should reflect value – Alliance – Brent Melville:

Alliance group chairman Murray Taggart is a firm believer in premium returns for premium products.

The North Canterbury sheep, cattle and cropping farmer wants red meat producers to get out what they put in, meaning Alliance needs to be in a position to objectively measure product value.

It has been an important part of the company’s strategic focus over much of his six years as chairman. He and the Alliance board have worked with CEO David Surveyor over the past four years to improve the company’s operational ”fitness”, transform production capacity and reinvent the company’s global marketing focus. . .

Report dodgy fliers :

Dairy farmers are being urged to tell authorities about “concerning activity” by helicopters and drones.

But farmers should also be aware that drones, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft have legitimate business in rural areas, like checking power lines and spreading fertiliser.

DairyNZ head of South Island Tony Finch says it has had reports of helicopters and drones flying low over Southland farms where they disturb stock. . . 

Triple the success:

The Dawkins family are Beef + Lamb New Zealand Innovation Farmers who are striving to maximise triplet lamb survival by developing an indoor lambing system. Now in their third year of the programme, the family are refining a system that has unexpectedly benefited the whole farm system while significantly reducing lamb losses.

In part one of this two-part series, we look at how the indoor system works.

A recipe for maximising triplet lamb survival is like the holy grail of sheep farming but the Dawkins family from Blenheim are getting closer to finding it.

Chris and Julia Dawkins and their son Richard, who farm The Pyramid, a 645ha down and hill country sheep and beef farm, are in the third year of a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Innovation Farm programme looking to maximise triplet lamb performance through an indoor lambing system. . .

Farming the Chathams: the tyranny of distance – Adam Fricker:

Like a small scale model of the challenges New Zealand agriculture faces being so far from its main markets, farmers on the Chatham Islands are far enough from the mainland to make shipping inputs in and livestock out a marginal exercise. Adam Fricker reports.

An Australian coined the phrase ‘the tyranny of distance’ but it certainly applies here. Rural News took the 2.5 hour flight on Air Chathams’ Convair 580, a graceful 1960s turbo prop.

We came courtesy of Holden who were celebrating their 65th anniversary with an SUV adventure on Chatham Island, the main island in the scattered group of 25 islands. It’s not a cheap flight, so most of the non-human freight, including livestock, goes by ship. . . 

A carnivore diet is more vegan than a vegan diet :

Whether you are ready to hear this or not, a Carnivore Diet, a diet comprised entirely of animal products, and more specifically, a diet comprised entirely or almost entirely of large herbivores such as cows and sheep, is more vegan than the vegan diet,  and we’ll prove this to you with incontrovertible facts.

If you thought veganism was just a diet that excludes animals, well, not quite. According to the Vegan Society, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” So, according to them, whatever diet accomplishes this best would be a ‘vegan’ diet, or more correctly THE vegan diet.  . . 


Rural round-up

15/03/2019

Farmers feeling nervous in regulatory environment – Sally Rae:

A high level of nervousness is apparent in the rural sector around the regulatory environment farmers are facing, Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says.

Both Mr Taggart and chief executive David Surveyor were at the Wanaka A&P Show last week, meeting farmers.

With strong commodity prices – apart from strong wool – and low interest rates, normally farmers would be quite positive, but they were not seeing that, Mr Taggart said. . . 

No land insurance means farmer pays in the aftermath of Nelson bush fire – Carly Gooch:

In the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fires, one farmer’s land has been left a mess due to fire breaks covering the pasture – so who’s going to pay for the clean up?

Pauline Marshall was one of the first residents evacuated from her Teapot Valley home, along with her son, Simon Marshall. They were unable to return to their properties for 17 days, with the exception of getting access a few hours a day, at best. 

The Marshalls were “extremely grateful” to the fire crews for saving their homes, but after those unsettling times, now the Marshalls are facing the unknown cost of rehabilitating the pasture before winter hits.  . . 

Future Angus leader learns from conference – Ken Muir:

reminder that farming is not just about profit was one of the important takeaways for Rockley Angus stud farmer Katherine McCallum after she attended the GenAngus Future Leaders programme in Sydney in February.

”The programme is designed to support the younger Angus breeders in Australia and New Zealand to grow their business and develop the skills to become future industry leaders”, Mrs McCallum said.

”It was an honour to be chosen from among the New Zealand applicants.” . . 

Fonterra making a move to environmentally friendly fuel option

–  Angie Skerrett:

A new diesel biofuel made from an agricultural by-product is helping power Fonterra’s milk tanker fleet, and it’s hoped more transport operators will follow suit.

Z Energy has built New Zealand’s first commercial scale bio-diesel plant, using a process which turns an unwanted tallow product, usually exported to make soap and candles, to make the high quality diesel. . .

Red-fleshed kiwifruit to be tested in NZ – Maja Burry:

A red fleshed kiwifruit variety is being tested on New Zealanders.

As part of a sales trial, the kiwifruit marketer and exporter Zespri will release 30,000 trays of Zespri Red to both national supermarket chains and selected retailers over the next five weeks.

The company said it wanted to know what consumers and retailers thought about the shelf-life, taste and colouring of the kiwifruit before it decided whether to move to full commercialisation. . . 

130,000 bees go under the microscope :

Sampling has been completed for the largest and most detailed study of honey bee health ever undertaken in New Zealand.

More than 60 beekeepers have participated in Biosecurity New Zealand’s Bee Pathogen Programme.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist, Dr Richard Hall, says the research will provide a wealth of valuable information to the beekeeping industry. . .

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy join forces in carbon afforestation partnership:

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy have today announced the formation of Dryland Carbon LLP (Drylandcarbon), a limited liability partnership that will see the four companies invest in the establishment of a geographically diversified forest portfolio to sequester carbon.

Drylandcarbon will target the purchase and licensing of marginal land suited to afforestation to establish a forest portfolio predominantly comprising permanent forests, with some production forests. The primary objective is to produce a stable supply of forestry-generated NZU carbon credits, but the initiative will also expand New Zealand’s national forest estate. These credits will support the partners to meet their annual requirements under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. . . 


Rural round-up

22/12/2018

Alliance chairman queries Govt’s subsidy stance – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart has expressed concern over what he sees as the Government’s apparent determination to subsidise forestry plantings at the expense of low environmental impact sheep and beef farming.

Addressing the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, Mr Taggart said it was occurring just when it looked like the ”bureaucratic playing field” was being levelled up for sheep and beef and recognising the sector’s lower environmental footprint relative to dairy.

”The apparent lack of rigour in relation to the social, economic and environmental impacts of this strategy is disturbing,” he said. . . 

Telford future in doubt following liquidation -Chris Morris:

The training institute running the Telford campus in South Otago has been placed in interim liquidation at the request of its board.

Taratahi, a private training establishment and agricultural education provider, runs residential campuses in Wairarapa and Reporoa in the North Island, as well as Telford.

It employs about 250 staff and boasted about 2850 students across all three campuses this year.

Today’s announcement was made by David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton, who were appointed interim liquidators by the High Court.

The liquidators, in a statement, said Taratahi was facing “financial and operational pressures caused by declining student numbers”, which had resulted in a reduction in funding. . . 

Risk of spreading Wallabies sparks pest action plan – Tess Brunton:

Fears Wallabies are placed to become the possum problem of the 21st century has prompted plans to create New Zealand’s first national wallaby management programme.

A business case has been submitted to the Treasury as part of a collaboration between regional councils, government and crown research agencies in the last couple of weeks.

Department of Conservation threats technical advisor Alastair Fairweather said New Zealand could not afford to wait before acting. . . 

Super cute sheep deliver Christmas lambs – but not for eating:

The sheep dubbed the world’s cutest have given birth to their first lambs in New Zealand.

Wairarapa farmer Christine Reed and her business partners imported Swiss Valais Blacknose sheep as embryos from the United Kingdom about 18 months ago.

Over the past two weeks, Ms Reed’s sheep have brought five tiny bundles of fluffy cuteness into the world, while her business partners had similar numbers of newborn lambs arrive. . .

New agreement to protect fresh tomato industry:

Biosecurity New Zealand and Tomatoes New Zealand have reached an agreement on the pathway forward to better prepare for future biosecurity responses.

Both parties signed a Sector Readiness Operational Agreement today (21 December).

“The agreement demonstrates both organisations’ commitment to strengthen readiness for incursions of specific pests and pathogens,” says Andrew Spelman, Biosecurity NZ’s Acting Director, Biosecurity Readiness & Response Services. . . 

Kiwi investors snap up cherry orchard investment:

Over 60 New Zealanders have invested $10.5 million to become the proud new owners of the largest modern cherry orchard development in Central Otago.

Central Cherry Orchard Limited Partnership will begin development of the 96 hectare bareland block in the Waikerikeri Valley north of Alexandra in autumn 2019.

New Zealand export cherries are recognised for their exceptionally high quality and freshness. This season it’s estimated 1.9 million 2kg boxes of cherries will be picked and airfreighted fresh to China and the rest of Asia to arrive in time for Chinese New Year on February 5. . . 


Rural round-up

21/12/2018

Taratahi agri training operator in interim liquidation – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre has been placed into interim liquidation at the request of its board of trustees as declining student numbers saw its funding drop faster than it could cut costs.

The High Court yesterday appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton as interim liquidators after the board sought to protect the position of its staff, students, creditors and other stakeholders, the accounting firm said.

Taratahi is a private training establishment, employing 250 staff, and educating 2,850 students this year. It owns and manages eight farms across the country. . . 

IrrigationNZ welcomes new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

“IrrigationNZ has recently adopted a new strategy which focuses on creating an environment for the responsible use of water for food production. As part of the strategy we will be focusing on advocacy, encouraging innovation through sharing ideas and adopting new technology, developing a robust information base, bringing the irrigation sector, researchers and decision makers together to make better decisions for our future and creating world‑leading irrigation standards,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Board Chair.

“Elizabeth has a strong background in water management, law and policy and she will help contribute to all of these goals but she is particularly well qualified to contribute to national discussions as we seek to achieve solutions to complex issues around water allocation which result in good outcomes for both communities and the environment.” . . 

Feds welcome new IrrigationNZ chief executive:

Federated Farmers welcomes Elizabeth Soal as the new chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand.

Federated Farmers maintains an excellent working relationship with Irrigation New Zealand,” Feds water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Elizabeth has the credentials and background, including her strategy and policy work for the Waitaki Irrigators Collective, to help ensure INZ continues its excellent work.” . .

Federated Farmers disputes E Coli claims – Eric Frykberg:

There is no proof that E. Coli found in three Canterbury rivers came from cows, according to Federated Farmers.

Research commissioned by Fish and Game found dangerous pathogens in three Canterbury rivers – the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata.

Fish and Game insisted the cause was leaching from dairy farms.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the problem could be caused by wildlife, or human activity, as well as from animals. . . 

Research suggests we should take a harder look at the benefits of organic foods – Point of Order:

The Green Party’s food policy may need revisiting, in the light of research published in the past week.

The policy was introduced in May 2017 by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, who lost her list place in Parliament at the general election.

How we produce, distribute and consume food is of critical importance to growing resilient healthy communities, minimising our ecological footprint and maintaining a
stable economy, she said.  That’s why food policy lies at the heart of Green policy. . . 

Reflections on the year that was – Allan Barber:

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

MPI is cautiously optimistic the disease can be eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before anyone can say with confidence that the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for certain, one way or the other. . . 

Guy Trafford finishes 2018 with a GDT review, news of a new Fish & Game river survey, calling out plant-based-milk, and an update on the MPB eradication – Guy Trafford:

An ever so slight increase in the Global Dairy Trade price for whole milk powder with a +0.3% lift. It may not put much of a smile on farmers faces but at least it is a not a drop.

Overall the GDT went up by +1.7% with both butter and cheddar making gains with lifts of +4.9% and +2.2% respectively so not such a poor result. With this now being the second – be they small – lift in a row and we have to go back almost 12 months before we had a repeat of two consecutive sales lifting. Dairy Futures had predicted a higher 3% lift in WMP for this period and with volumes sold down 0.7% on the previous sale, which was also down, the remainder of the season still looks precarious. The next sale is on the 2nd of January 2019. . . 

New captain for 2019 Meat Blacks:

One of the final jobs of 2018 is to take a look at the 2019 Meat Blacks team that will lead the sector next year.

There haven’t been too many adjustments to make, though the sector has had a couple of big retirements from the leadership, lock Sir Graeme Harrison (ANZCO) and number eight James Parsons (B+LNZ Ltd) have departed this year. Linesman Martyn Dunne also retired from MPI and has been replaced by Ray Smith, fresh from Corrections (Ed: appropriately!).

As a result, we have a new captain Murray Taggart (Alliance), promoted from vice-captain, and new vice-captain Tony Egan (Greenlea Premier Meats) to lead the team. . . 

T&G Global profit dented by cheaper tomatoes, small grape harvest  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global says its annual profit will more than halve this year after cheaper tomatoes and a weather-affected grape harvest in Peru dented earnings.

Net profit will be $8-10 million this calendar year, down from $22.6 million in 2017, it said in a statement.

Lower tomato prices affected T&G’s covered crops unit while its Peru grapes division dealt with a smaller harvest, it said. . .


Rural round-up

06/10/2018

Acquifer scheme off and running – John Keast:

A switch was flicked, Rangitata River water bubbled in a basin, then slid along a man-made creek bed in the dry South Hinds riverbed.

It is there it will do its work: increase flows in the Hinds River – often dry in its middle reaches – replenish underlying aquifers, feed newly planted native plants, enhance a wetland and, it is hoped, enhance bores used to supply water to Mayfield.

The water was released last week as part of the work by the Managed Aquifer Recharge Governance Group’s project to boost aquifers, dilute nitrates and lift river and stream flows. . .

Alliance backed on long term approach – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group management has received a strong message from suppliers to keep investing in the company’s longer-term strategy, rather than take a short-term approach, chairman Murray Taggart says.

Mr Taggart and fellow directors and management are travelling the country, attending the co-operative’s annual roadshows.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, he said feedback from shareholders and suppliers had been “pleasantly positive.” . . .

Where once was gorse, blackberry and bracken are fields of lush grass, vegetables, and sprightly calves – Marty Sharpe:

Over the course of his 36 years Hemi Robinson has watched the area he calls home slowly decay.

Rust and algae-covered car bodies litter paddocks, once-loved weatherboard homes crumble quietly into the dirt and wave after wave of blackberry, gorse and bracken encroach and consume once fertile and productive land.

This is Raupunga, between Napier and Wairoa. Population 250-ish and falling. . .

Benevolent history repeats – Ross Hyland:

The Duncan, Perry and Howard families have a long connection with farming.

They were instrumental in setting up Smedley, Taratahi and Massey University and the latest generation is doing it again with a group of farms in Rangitikei, particularly Otiwhiti and Westoe, providing a start on the land for cadets from all round the country.

Much has been said and written of the Duncans of the Turakina Valley but the transformation that has been happening on Otiwhiti Station deserves some focus of its own.

The farm cadet training school was established at Otiwhiti by Charles and Joanna Duncan and Charles’ parents, David and Vicky, in 2006. With the addition of Jim and Diana Howard’s Westoe Farm near Marton it could well be the premier farm cadet training establishment in the region. . .

Farmers have choice of five candidates to fill three seats

Fonterra is conducting a wide-open contest among five nominees to fill three vacancies around its board table, which consists of seven farmer-directors and four independents.

The retirements of former chairman John Wilson through ill-health and of long-serving director Nicola Shadbolt mean Ashley Waugh is the only sitting director seeking re-election.

Because the co-operative recently reported its first loss in 17 years of operations Waugh is exposed to a possible backlash through the ballot box from disgruntled shareholders. . .

An innovative lamb product is vying for two of New Zealand’s top food awards:

Alliance Group’s Te Mana Lamb has been announced as a finalist in two categories of this year’s : Frozen, which is offered in association with Palmerston North City Council; and the NZ Food Safety Primary Sector Products Award.

The Primary Sector Products Award looks for single ingredient foods – those sold in their purest form, with minimal processing – where producers, researchers and manufacturers have added-value to primary products through introducing new varieties, cultivars or breeds.

Te Mana Lamb has been produced as part of the Omega Lamb Project – a Primary Growth Partnership led by Alliance, in association with farming group Headwaters New Zealand Ltd and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . . 


Rural round-up

02/08/2018

Farmers seek off-farm income to counter rising costs – Heather Chalmers:

A farming leader says it is no surprise that farms are increasingly reliant on off-farm income.  

A Lincoln University survey has shown just over a quarter of farms obtained 30 per cent or more of their income from off-farm sources.

Farmers were struggling to keep up with the mainly inflation-caused price squeeze, the survey found. But the authors said some families found the rural lifestyle compensated for tight finances. . .

Dairy farm effluent compliance in Tasman District coming up roses – Cherie Sivignon:

Tasman district deputy mayor Tim King says the result of the 2017-18 dairy farm effluent compliance survey is a “good story all round”.

It revealed 90 of the 96 farms inspected were fully compliant for effluent management. The other six, graded non-compliant, comprised five with minor ponding and one that failed to adhere to setback rules.

In a report on the matter, council compliance and investigation officer Kat Bunting says all six instances of non-compliance were considered a minor breach of the rules that resulted in “no adverse environmental effect”.

Formal written warnings with directions for improvements were sent to those six farms and return visits found full and continued compliance. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the deck chairs:

Dairy price recovery in 2017 has positively affected the combined turnover of the top 20 global dairy companies, which, in 2017, was up 7.2% on the year in US dollar terms and 5.1% in euro terms, according to RaboResearch’s latest Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the Deck Chairs report.

“For the second consecutive year, there were no new entrants to the Dairy Top 20 list, with the USD 5bn threshold difficult to achieve due to a scarcity of large acquisitions or mergers.” says Peter Paul Coppes, Senior Analyst – Dairy. “However, while the names have remained the same, the order shifted in 2017.” . . 

UK’s Daily Mail urges Theresa May to listen to Kiwi trade expert– Point of Order:

Brits who may be despairing at the lack of progress on Brexit, as Britain’s political class trade blows and the process becomes bogged down in politicking, have been told “there is a small corner of a government department that they can turn to for cheer”.

This is the office of New Zealand’s Crawford Falconer, Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser at the Department of International Trade, described by the Daily Mail as

“… a man of immense experience in such matters. And, in contrast to the doomsayers, his message about Brexit is one of almost unbounded optimism.”

 The article goes on to say: . .

Comvita touted as potential bidder for Manuka Health company – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the NZX-listed manuka honey company, declined to comment on whether it is interested in making a bid for honey company Manuka Health New Zealand which has reportedly been put up for sale by its Australian owner Pacific Equity Partners.

The Australian newspaper suggested Comvita or its largest shareholder China Resources Ng Fung as possible buyers of Manuka Health, which was put on the market about six weeks ago for more than A$200 million by PEP and advisers Luminis Partners. Manuka Health was reportedly sold to the Australian private equity firm in 2015 for $110 million. . .

 

Inter-club challenge still going strong:

The last hurrah for the Canterbury dog trial season, the annual Inter-Club Challenge, was held at Waihi Station, home to the Geraldine Collie Club, on July 1.

The day turned from a ”rugged-up” winter’s morning to a balmy northwest afternoon.

The Canterbury Centre is one of the largest centres in New Zealand,comprising 18 club trials stretching from Cheviot in the north to Mackenzie in the east and Levels (Timaru area) in the south, encompassing all areas in between.

In its 25th year of competition, the trial attracted a strong gallery of spectators and team supporters from throughout the province, testament to the strength and popularity of the sport. . .

Strong interest expected with vacant governance roles on Ballance board:

 A “genuine and rare governance opportunity” has opened up with one of New Zealand’s industry-leading rural co-operatives with Ballance Agri-Nutrients announcing that two farmer-elected directors will be stepping down from its Board this year.

Ballance shareholders are currently being notified of the vacancies created by the decisions of Gray Baldwin not to seek re-election, and Donna Smit who is standing down in the North Island Ward (N). Murray Taggart is retiring by rotation (as required under the Co-operative’s Constitution) and seeking re-election in the South Island Ward (S). . .

MyFarm launches $17.6m Hop Garden investment

MyFarm has launched a $17.64 million investment into what will become New Zealand’s largest hop garden.

The opportunity to invest in Tapawera Hop Garden Limited Partnership includes the purchase of a 96-hectare property and the lease of a second 50-hectare property which will be developed into a 116 canopy (effective) hectare garden. Half of the garden will be planted this spring alongside other development such as building hop picking and drying facilities and worker accommodation. . . 


Rural round-up

17/02/2018

Disease has two hubs – Annette Scott:

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for at least two years and is spread wider than first thought, Southland veterinary clinic Vet South says while Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says there are now two infection hubs.

The Winton practice sent an email to clients on Thursday urging people whose stock or properties might have been linked to Southern Centre Dairies to come forward.

Southern Centre Dairies, the hub of infected properties in Southland, is owned by Gea and Alfons Zeestraten.

Vet South director veterinarian Georgette Wouda said Ministry for Primary Industries surveillance work indicated the disease was limited to a relatively small group of farms but more needed to be known.

“Down in our region all of the infected properties to date have links with Alfons Zeestraten’s farms. . .

Lamb and wool marketers confident – Sally Rae:

Farmers visiting Alliance Group’s tent at the Southern Field Days had mostly one burning question — how long could lamb prices be sustained.

And the response? “We feel market fundamentals around the world give us some confidence,” chairman Murray Taggart said.

The North Canterbury farmer acknowledged that his position was a “bit easier” than what it was when he first took on the role.

The mood among farmers was “pretty positive” and, despite climatic conditions, he was “really chuffed” with market prices.

“You’ve done a bloody good job,” a long-time shareholder told Mr Taggart on the way past, but Mr Taggart said the company was not resting on its laurels. . . 

Momentum grows in understanding of farming, farmers – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne believes there is real momentum building for farming — “and in the right way”.

The straight-talking West Coast dairy farmer — who last year broke a 118-year history of male leadership of the rural lobby organisation — has been at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu this week.

Joking that she had left her partner unsupervised around the many machinery sites, she helped a Federated Farmers team to victory over FMG in a tug-o-war competition.

Ms Milne, who is known for her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach,  said the leadership role was “really exciting” and it was a privilege to be a voice for farmers. While she knew it was a big job, it had surprised her the places that she ended up and the people she had met.

It had been somewhat of a baptism by fire, with the general election  being held straight after she came into the role. . . 

Honey season better but patchy – Richard Rennie:

With parts of Northland and Bay of Plenty grappling with major rainfall while parts of Taranaki and Otago remain parched, honey producers are reporting mixed results for the season’s honey collection.

Comvita, one of the country’s largest honey producers, has already informed investors this season has been a successful one, largely thanks to more favourable conditions in December and January. 

However, severe weather in early January hit Northland and Waikato hard at a critical flowering period, pushing yields down towards a more average season.

Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter told investors if the above-normal temperatures remain for the rest of this summer, Wairarapa, Whanganui, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay are expected to have an above average season. . . 

Big toy has price tag to match – Sally Rae:

If you’ve got a spare $625,000 sitting in the wallet, then a Fendt 1050 tractor could be just the ticket.

The world’s largest conventional tractor was attracting plenty of interest at JJ Ltd’s site at the Southern Field Days.

There are only three of the 500hp tractors — described by JJ’s staff as being in a “class of its own” — in New Zealand, two demonstrator models and one that had been bought by a North Island contractor. . . 

NZ Well Positioned to be global player in alternative protein market – producer:

Eco conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein according to the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods.

Mark Roper spokesperson for Life Health Foods – which makes plant based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products, says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet.

A nationwide survey commissioned by the company has found that millennials aged 18-34 are the most likely demographic to adopt a mostly meat-free lifestyle in the next decade. . . 


Rural round-up

25/11/2017

Farmer led project highlights innovative environmental work:

A North Canterbury river awarded as the country’s most improved- is testament to innovative environmental work undertaken by farmers and their community says Federated Farmers.

The Hurunui district’s Pahau River was bestowed supreme winner at last night’s 2017 National River Awards, achieving significant reduction in bacteria E coli levels over the past 10 years.

The river reportedly runs through one of the most densely irrigated catchments in the country. It had also demonstrated decreasing levels in nitrogen and phosphorous. . . 

Alliance Group Doubles Annual Earnings as Meat Prices Recover, Targets Fatter Profitability:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group, the world’s biggest sheepmeat exporter, doubled annual earnings as its sales rose 15 percent with a recovery in global meat prices, but wants to lift profitability further.

Operating earnings rose to $20.2 million in the year ended Sept. 30 from $10.1 million a year earlier, the Invercargill-based company said in a statement. It paid $11.4 million to its 5,000 farmer shareholders, up from $9.8 million, while revenue rose to $1.53 billion from $1.36 billion.

“We are welcoming new shareholders, achieving a stronger balance sheet, improving our profitability and most importantly, offering better livestock pricing for our farmers,” chair Murray Taggart said. “Alliance has a wide range of short, medium and long-term programmes underway as we seek to gain deeper market penetration and capture more value from existing markets.”. . .

Tax Working Group should have an Agri-sector voice:

 

A new Tax Working Group should have primary sector representation says Federated Farmers.

Sir Michael Cullen is to chair the Group from February next year and the Federation recommends that farming and fellow industry stakeholders get a voice.

“Ideally it would be good to have someone on the Group who understands the agri-sector and its tax issues. Given the likely focus on environmental taxation, capital gains and land taxes, it would same a reasonable thing to do,” says Federated Farmers Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . . 

Jersey Benne harvest delayed – Sally Brooker:

While the new potato season is being celebrated in a national campaign, North Otago’s Jersey Benne harvest has hardly begun.

Potatoes New Zealand is promoting the ”humble potato” with television advertising, having showcased varieties, recipes and nutritional facts to food writers and the media at an Auckland event. Potato growers from throughout the country took along samples of their produce being dug this month.

However, a shortage of cauliflower and broccoli has prompted one of North Otago’s biggest growers to delay his potato-digging.

Peter Armstrong, of Armstrong and Co, plants potatoes on several properties in the Totara and Kakanui areas south of Oamaru, where the soil and microclimate result in sought-after Jersey Bennes. . . 

Take alternative protein seriously, analyst warns – Alexa Cook:

The meat industry should not be complacent about the threat of alternative protein food products, a report warns.

The international Rabobank report looks into the success of alternative proteins, including plant-based meat substitutes, insect or algae-based products, and lab-grown meat.

The products were on the verge of becoming mainstream and ‘stealing’ growth from traditional meat product markets, it said.

The report projected that the market for alternative protein would grow 8 percent each year in the European Union, and six percent each year in the US and Canada. . . 

Zespri wins top award for best growth strategy:

Zespri was recognised last night in the 2017 Deloitte Top 200 Awards for its strong growth strategy, with the kiwifruit marketing company on track to more than double global sales to $4.5 billion by 2025.

Zespri Chief Executive Dan Mathieson says the 2degrees Best Growth Strategy award is welcome recognition for the work done across the industry to grow a genuine global sales and marketing organisation and drive demand for Zespri’s premium kiwifruit.

“This award is real testament to the great team we have at Zespri – passionate, dedicated people around the world who bring to life our global grower-to-consumer strategy day in and day out – and the long-term partnerships we have with our customers. . . 

Agritech Programme Focusing on Digital Technologies:

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and smart data are major themes at next year’s MobileTECH 2018. This is one of New Zealand’s largest agritech events and will see technology leaders from throughout the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors gather in Rotorua in late March.

The pace of change within the primary sector is continuing to be driven by advances in new digital technologies. While New Zealand has been a world leader in traditional farming systems, it is critical for the sector to maintain and grow productivity through the smart adoption of these new innovations. . . 

You can download the poster here.


Rural round-up

25/09/2017

Demonstration dairy farm cuts nitrate leaching 30% and stays profitable – Tony Benny:

Lincoln University Dairy Farm is close to achieving a 30 per cent reduction in nitrate leaching, while maintaining its profitability. The farm’s managers tell Tony Benny how it was done.

​Like other farms in the Selwyn Waihora zone, one of 10 catchment zones under Environment Canterbury’s water management strategy, Lincoln University’s dairy farm faces new environmental limits, including reducing nitrate leaching 30 per cent by 2022.

By adopting the findings of small-scale research on a nearby farmlet, the farm has all but achieved that well before the deadline and is at the same time nearly matching the financial performance of high-profit farms against which it is benchmarked. . .

Alliance buyout targets Asia – Alan Williams:

Buying its southeast Asian marketing agent is part of a 10 to 15-year strategy to increase sales and the range of meat cuts into the region, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart says.

Goldkiwi Asia has represented the southern farmer-co-operative for more than 25 years, helping to build up customer bases in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and in Singapore where it is based.

The arrangement had worked very well but there was “no substitute for ownership and control” of the business, Taggart said. . .

Price direction depends on weather – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy prices remained steady in the latest Global Dairy Auction, adding to speculation that continued wet weather in New Zealand might give the market a lift.

Already it was possible that NZ seasonal supply might increase 1.5% rather than the 3% predicted earlier.

The direction of international market prices would depend very much on weather conditions over the next month in NZ, the world’s largest dairy products exporter. . .

Australia threatens to cash in on NZ’s mānuka honey marketing heroics – Gerard Hutching:

First they claimed the pavlova and Phar Lap as their own, now Australians are arguing they have the right to use the Māori word mānuka for the expensive honey.

This week they racheted the dispute up a notch by setting up the Australian Manuka Honey Association.

“We’re the only two countries that produce it and the whole world needs it [mānuka honey]. We can’t understand what our Kiwi friends are trying to do,” Australian Honey Bee Industry Council chairman Lindsay Bourke said. . . .

Finalists say now is the right time to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Don’t wait until you think you have the perfect farm to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, say 2017 Southland finalists Derek and Bronnie Chamberlain.

“It’s all about work in progress. Set yourselves some goals and go for it. There’s always something more you can do,” Bronnie says.

“The more eyes you have on your property, the more advice and suggestions the better.”  . . 

Mixed New Season Outlook:

 Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive says the new season, which starts on 1 October, is expected to be mixed across beef, lamb and venison.

“On beef, we are at an interesting point. Store stock markets appear over-heated given where we expect volumes and schedules to end up. Current finished cattle schedules reflect a shortage of supply, which is typical at this time of the year.  . .


Rural round-up

21/08/2017

Labour needs to provide detail on water charging policy:

New Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern’s plan to charge water royalties for commercial bottlers and irrigation schemes is a pre-election crowd pleaser.

It capitalises on the outrage some people feel when they read of pure New Zealand water being shipped off in bottles overseas for the profit of foreigners. The idea that revenues raised can be redirected into cleaning up our stressed and polluted waterways also speaks to valid environmental concerns.

But the policy has come out of nowhere, and the lack of detail is worrisome. Voters could be excused for thinking it is a glib, once-over-lightly headline-grabber.

If they find themselves on the Treasury benches after next month’s election, Labour might learn the lesson with water that US President Donald Trump learned with healthcare – who knew that it could be so complicated? . . 

Te Mana brings the fat back into lamb to appease even the harshest critics – Pat Deavoll:

Chef and co-owner of the Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen, Dale Bowie reckons he can get even the most ardent critic to enjoy a lamb rack thanks to a product called Te Mana Lamb.

“We’ve had customers here say they don’t like lamb, but when others on their table start saying how great it is, they try some and think it’s brilliant,” Bowie says.

A generation of Kiwis has grown up with the mantra that fat is bad, yet Bowie’s table guests are told that Te Mana Lamb has a high level of Omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats that are good for you. . .

Poo-powered electricity, hot water – Pam Tipa:

A biogas recovery system using methane from dairy effluent to generate electricity and heat water was one of three finalists in the Energy Technology of the Year award in the 2017 Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards.

The system was installed by John Scandrett of Dairy Green Ltd with Fortuna Group Ltd.

The ground-breaking project implementing a prototype methane recovery system on a 950-cow farm in Southland has demonstrated for the first time commercial viability of this technology within a cool climate, says Dairy Green in its award entry. . .

Getting off the well-worn farm track – Jamie Gray:

New Zealand’s farming model will have to change as lab-grown meat gobbles up the low-cost market, and Landcorp can lead the way, says chief executive Steven Carden.

Carden, who heads up the country’s biggest farming company, says the old model – producing bulk commodities at low prices – has served the country well for the last century or so.

Until now.

“We see headwinds coming around the traditional protein farming model, [that’s] meat and milk,” he says. . .

Selling our meat is a game of two halves – Craig Wiggins:

Over the past few months I’ve emceed a fair share of rural awards and conferences where mention of synthetic proteins and insect flour scared many a middle-aged farmer.

The talk that’s being shouted from on high about being prepared for these new products to take over the world of food production as we know it was more than enough to cause many a listener to question their future as sustainable farmers of the future.

A synthetic steak, a petri dish hamburger and cricket flour chocolate mudcake all sound like a taste test from hell. However, we’re being led to believe these products won’t only be palatable but taste more like the real thing than the real thing. . .

FMG board revamp:

Three agribusiness leaders have been elected to the board of rural insurer FMG.

Geoff Copstick, Murray Taggart and Steve Allen were elected by FMG members at its annual meeting in Hanmer Springs this week.

Copstick was chief financial officer of Gallagher Group in Hamilton for nine years. He is now on Gallagher’s board and chair of its audit and risk committee. Copstick also serves as an independent advisor to Northland Regional Council on finance, audit and economic development issues. . .

Scarred country creates pest nest – Tim Futon:

Earthquake damage has helped gorse, broom and pest animals fan out across Kaikoura.

Kaikoura’s pest liaison committee chairman Derrick Millton said the region faced an explosion of deer, goats and possums.

Parts of the Clarence back-country were full of Red deer and there was serious risk of more erosion and fouling of waterways if they weren’t kept in check, he said. . .

Two NZ wineries sold to fine wine start-up – Lauren Eads:

Two prominent New Zealand wineries have been acquired by a newly-established fine wine company co-founded by the man who launched Craggy Range and a US-based wildlife conservationist.

Pyramid Valley Vineyards in Waikari, North Canterbury, and Lowburn Ferry Wines, Central Otago, have both become the first purchases of Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates Limited Partnership (ANZFWE) – a new venture between Brian Sheth, sole director of US-based Sangreal Wines LLC, and Steve Smith MW, sole director of LandbaseWineNZ Ltd. . .


Rural round-up

27/06/2016

Brexit has major implications for the New Zealand sheep and beef industry:

“We are concerned about the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports to the UK and the EU following the UK’s vote to leave the EU,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand.

“Our sheep and beef trade to both the UK and EU are inextricably linked through quota access and both are likely to be affected,” said Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The EU is New Zealand’s most valuable market for red meat and associated co-products, accounting for over NZ$2 billion in trade last year. . . 

Banks put heat on meat co-ops – Neal Wallace:

Banks appear to be running out of patience with meat company debt, asking both co-operatives to reduce their level of borrowing.

Both Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have confirmed they have been told by their banks to reduce seasonal and core debt, but Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said his board had decided to do that anyway.  

Late last month Alliance chief executive David Surveyor told shareholders at the Alliance Pure South Conference banks had sent a strong message to the co-operative to reduce debt. . . 

Changing world will suit our red meat sector – Allan Barber:

When sheep and beef farmers are questioning whether they will ever receive the returns they need, there is potentially considerable hope for the future. The changing demographics and spheres of global influence indicate a substantial change in the relative economic power of the markets with which we trade.

The ANZ Bank’s June report focuses on new horizons in Asia, highlighting the top six countries we already trade with, representing 80% of New Zealand’s bilateral trade with Asia, and a second division of up and coming prospects. The report’s focus on Asia means our trade with the rest of the world is excluded from the analysis, but it provides a timely reminder of the opportunities available in markets not previously seen as easy or possible to develop.

These opportunities are further underlined by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations held recently in Auckland involving 16 Asian countries which importantly include India. . . 

Dairy cow cull eases – Alan Williams:

Dairy cow cull numbers are finally reducing after spending most of the processing season in line with the high tallies of last year.  

Most people expected the cull to end early in the season but the numbers have only been falling since the end of May, week 33 of the killing season.

Going in to that week the tallies were down only 0.3% on the same time last year, at about 800,000; then the week itself was down 7% on last year and the companies have indicated the trend has continued. . . 

Silver Fern Farms seeks extension on Chinese deal :

Meat processing company Silver Fern Farms is seeking a time extension for official approval of its controversial deal with a Chinese company.

It also wants to defer a special meeting called by unhappy shareholders.

The joint venture with China’s biggest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, was approved by a majority of shareholders last October but still needs government and Overseas Investment Office approval. . .

Vineyards in growth mode – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s vineyard area could expand by as much as 7000ha during the next five years, an almost 20% boost to the present producing area.

The expansion was under way, with an estimated 1800ha of grapes in the ground coming into production by the 2018 vintage, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said.

Marlborough would remain the epicentre of the sector at 65%-70% of the growing area, with the next largest areas being Hawke’s Bay, Otago and Gisborne. . .


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