Rural round-up

March 28, 2020

After the lockdown, the economy’s recovery will be dependent on dairy farms and their milk – Point of Order:

The planet is  in a state of   flux,   economies are tumbling into  recession, no-one (not even Donald Trump) can predict  when the agony will  end.

Suddenly, the streets  are  empty:  life  as  we have  known  it is  now  very  different. The  nation  is  in   lockdown.

As  the  London  “Economist” put it:

“The struggle  to  save  lives  and the  economy  is  likely to present  agonising choices…As  that  sends economies  reeling, desperate  governments are trying to tide over  companies and  by handing out millions of  dollars in  aid and loan guarantees. Nobody can be sure how these rescues  will work”. . . 

Don’t stress weakening economy – Neal Wallace:

Economist Cameron Bagrie is joining a chorus of calls for the Government to delay introducing policy imposing new environmental rules and costs on a rapidly weakening economy.

Bagrie says Government borrowing as a percentage of gross domestic product has doubled from 20% to 40% in the last few weeks as it tries to protect jobs and businesses from the impact of measures to control the covid-19 virus pandemic.

He expects Government borrowing will increase further and warns now is not the time to introduce more costs on businesses in freshwater regulations and the new minimum wage, which applies from April 1.

“Farming has been unloved and beaten up by the Government for the last two or three years but the Government is going to need farmers for the next few years.” . . 

Virus adds to woes of North Canterbury farmers – David Hill:

The uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic is adding yet another headache for North Canterbury farmers.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Cameron Henderson and North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro say dry conditions, the ongoing effects of Mycoplasma bovis and coronavirus, and this week’s 5.1-magnitude earthquake near Culverden are creating uncertainty.

‘‘The effects of the virus seem to be changing day to day as we have seen with share markets and travel bans,’’ Mr Henderson said. . . 

Meat matters to sector stalwart – Colin Williscroft:

Tim Ritchie retires as Meat Industry Association chief executive on April 7 after a career in primary sector roles that began in the 1970s. Colin Williscroft reports.

THE meat industry has come a long way since Tim Ritchie got involved and a decision made on the far side of the world about then that has provided the biggest advantage to the sector here in the years since.

Though it might not have seemed like it at the time, in retrospect Britain joining the then European Economic Community in 1973 was the best thing that could have happened for New Zealand farmers. . . 

Leader learnt a lot in dairy industry – Yvonne O’Hara:

‘‘It was like being dropped into the mothership of emergency management.’’

That is how Katrina Thomas describes her involvement with the recent flood recovery effort in the South.

The Wreys Bush dairy farmer was Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) southern regional hub leader for Otago and Southland since 2016, and regional leader for Southland since 2012.

However, this year she decided she wanted to try other challenges. . . 

Wine industry faces worker accommodation woes during lockdown:

The wine industry is facing criticism for continuing harvest during the Covid-19 lockdown, and is facing problems with worker accommodation

The government says the grape and wine industry can continue to operate as an essential business, but strict conditions apply as the country moves to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Some Marlborough people have noticed the hundreds of workers travelling to work in vineyards all over the district, and have questioned whether this was safe in the current climate. . . 


Rural round-up

March 8, 2020

No need to destroy the perfect way of farming – Lone Sorensen:

Why are we accusing farming and in particularly dairy farming for being the cause, at least here in NZ, for global warming?

Would it by any chance be because it is a lot easier finding a scapegoat to blame everything on than actually cleaning up one’s own back yard first.

The atmosphere now contains 409 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO₂), when it is claimed that it can only cope with 350 ppm without a change in climate. The reason for this is that for the last 200 years, or since the industrial revolution, we have overused the earth’s resources of fossil fuels and by industrialising our farming methods also the humus in the soil: basically an overuse of stored carbon in the ground which we have turned in to CO₂, and methane. All this has made our life as humans more comfortable, but it has come at a cost.  . .

Biosecurity cost blowout for councils – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers is warning rural district councils could face cost blowouts in meeting the requirements of the Government’s National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

Councils will have to map all land classified as a significant natural area in five years.

They already have to protect and map those areas in district plans and many have already done so. 

However, the new policy changes the criteria of for those areas, meaning some councils might have to redo their mapping, Federated Farmers regional policy analyst Paul Le Miere told about 20 farmers at a meeting in Te Awamutu. . .

Award for irrigation innovation :

Farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation could win a trip to America.

Encouraging farmers to share their ideas for sustainable water management has motivated the launch of an award by agricultural irrigation systems company Zimmatic.

The Zimmatic Trailblazer Sustainable Irrigation Awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainable irrigation. recognising farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation, innovative water management and environmental stewardship. . . 

Being a good boss:

If you’re a dairy farmer reading this, then ask yourself, are you a good boss?

Do you value your workers and is their wellbeing your priority? 

Most farmers are good employers and to celebrate this, industry stakeholders have launched the Good Boss campaign.

A sector-wide initiative by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Dairy Women’s Network and NZ Young Farmers it was launched last month . . 

M Bovis research to look at milk yield impact– Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is commissioning new research into the impacts of Mycoplasma bovis on cattle in New Zealand.

Scientists at Massey University would undertake the one- to two-year study, where they would look at the symptoms of the cattle disease, the effects on milk yield and composition and the duration of these effects.

MPI chief science advisor John Roche said the work would help accelerate eradication of the disease from New Zealand farms and minimise the negative impacts. . .

 

Red meat exports reach more than $870 million in January as sector demonstrates resilience:

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $873.2 million in January 2020, an increase of 26 per cent compared to January 2019, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite global market instability as a result of the Coronavirus, the market prices achieved in January were still stronger than the same month last year. The value of beef exports was up by 50 per cent sheepmeat was up by 18 per cent and co-products were up two per cent.

While the average value of sheepmeat exports to China declined from $8.87/kg in December 2019 to $7.63/kg in January, it was still significantly higher than in January 2019 ($6.57/kg). . . 

Whenua Ora Tangata Ora partnership leads the way forward in regenerative agriculture:

An initiative targeted at establishing and supporting a critical mass of New Zealand landowners to use regenerative farming practices was launched today.

Whenua Ora Tangata Ora is a joint partnership between FOMA Innovation, the science and technology arm of the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA); Soil Connection, biological farming and soil health experts; and Toha, an environmental impact platform that recently launched Calm The Farm to support farmers to reduce their environmental and climate impacts while improving financial resilience.

“Transforming ‘industrial farming’ practices in Aotearoa through regenerative agriculture to reflect true kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is the way of the future,” says FOMA Innovation lead representative, Te Horipo Karaitiana. . .


Rural round-up

March 7, 2020

Farm confidence – already bruised by the effects of drought – becomes a victim of Covid-19 – Point of Order:

As the country’s  front-line export  sector,  NZ agriculture  is  bearing  the brunt of the global  trade slowdown.  ANZ Bank’s chief  economist  Sharon Zollner says  the  human and  economic damage from the  Covid-19 outbreak is taking a  heavy toll on sentiment in the agriculture  sector.

“Our  best  hope is that the  disruption proves  short-lived but there is not   question the export-oriented  sector is  reeling”.

Authorities   such  as  Keith Woodford  believe NZ, as well as most of the world,  will head into recession.  Woodford contends the key issue becomes rapid support for those who lose their employment.

He  sees  a  “considerable  risk” that the government and Reserve Bank will use the wrong macro tools. . .

The problem with vegans and climate change – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Veganism is a distraction from the major climate change issues of increase in population and lifestyle, including travel, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Farmers cannot grow whatever food they like.

This is contrary to ongoing statements in the media, from, for instance the Vegan Society.

Quite apart from the legal restraints to do with type of crop and chemicals that can be used, there are temperature, rainfall, soil and topographical constraints. . .

Court to rule on M Bovis compo – Annette Scott:

The Mycoplasma bovis compensation battle has ramped up following a High Court ruling it is allowed to decide what farmers can be repaid for.

In October last year lawyer Grant Cameron sought a judicial review, on behalf of the van Leeuwen farming group, of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ compensation system.

The van Leeuwens, the first to have the cattle disease confirmed in New Zealand, claim they have been left $3million out of pocket. . . 

Future fails to make present – Neal Wallace:

The present has caught up with AgResearch’s Future Footprint plans which are now a thing of the past. It is now going it alone at Lincoln but collaborating with Massey University in Palmerston North and will keep its centres at Ruakura and Invermay. Neal Wallace reports.

AGRESEARCH has abandoned elements of its Future Footprint proposal begun eight years ago and will keep its four national campuses but expand two.

The original plan was to severely downsize its Invermay campus near Dunedin and Ruakura in Hamilton with the focus on centres at Lincoln and Palmerston North.

Acting chief executive Tony Hickmott says the plan now is to retain all four sites and construct new buildings at Palmerston North, which is under way, and Lincoln. . . 

Magic tonic needed to open wallets – Pam Tipa:

Rain is the magic tonic in the farming community, says Northland based AgFirst consultant Tafi Manjala.

But without it the sentiment going into the Northland Field Days from the farming community will likely to be “cautious”, he says.

“When it is raining and things are going well people are more buoyant and positive about the future,” Manjala told Rural News.

“They feel more confident about things, they can justify to themselves why they can have some discretionary expenditure at the field days. . . 

Agrifeeds invests in increased precision blending and storage:

Agrifeeds have started the new decade in a strong position, having invested significantly in new blending and storage facilities to help increase their nutritional offer to customers.

Following the opening late last year of two new storage facilities in New Plymouth and Marsden Point in Northland, two new blending operations have also been built in each location. . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2020

Farmers feeling socially disconnected as younger generation migrate to social media – Lawrence Gullery:

A trail of dust follows Philip Dench’s motorbike as he rides up to the milking shed in the baking sun.

He steps off his bike wearing boots, shorts, a singlet, cap and sunglasses.

It’s hard to figure out what he’s thinking behind those sunglasses but that’s the way he likes it.

“I have to know the person first, I won’t talk to a stranger, no way,” Philip says. . . 

Southland farmers face winter grazing charges – Rachael Kelly:

Three charges have been laid against Southland farming companies for breaches of winter grazing rules last year.

Environment Southland compliance manager Simon Mapp said the charges related to incidents on two sites.

“The charges are for discharges where they may reach water,” Mapp said.

The first court appearance was scheduled for this week but that was subject to change, he said. . . 

High standards pay off – Charlie Williamson:

While his friends dreamed of glamorous sporting careers Mihaka Beckham dreamed of working the land and being a dairy farmer. Charlie Williamson reports.

While his primary school friends were talking about how they would be the up and coming All Blacks stars when they grew up young Mihaka Beckham was saying he would one day be a dairy farmer. 

And with the help of a few mentors and his ability to seize any opportunity he could find along the way Mihaka, now 23, is living his childhood dream. 

Mihaka works as herd manager on a Taupo dairy farm milking 440 Jersey-Friesian cows on 170ha effective for Bryan and Tesha Gibson. . . 

Farmers call for ORC rates details -Brent Melville:

Federated Farmers says back-to-back annual rates increases from the Otago Regional Council should come with a more detailed plan of what benefits would come from farmers’ money.

The ORC yesterday announced it would push rates up by 9.1% as part of overall spending of $75.5million, including expenditure on reworking water plans, increasing consent processing staff and capacity for environmental incident response.

Federated Farmers South Island regional policy manager Kim Reilly said the second consecutive year of rates rises had come without firm detail as to how the rate adjustments might be packaged. . . 

Epidemiologist embracing ‘M.bovis’ battle :

Mark Neill says he likes a challenge, and admits he’s got one on his hands.

Mr Neill, a veterinarian, is the lead epidemiologist in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme. He was one of the speakers at the Ministry for Primary Industries’ public update meeting in Oamaru last week.

Since September, Mr Neill has been seconded by the ministry from Ospri’s TBfree programme, where he has worked since 2002. . . 

Welsh woman declares vindication after ‘guerrilla rewilding’ court case

Sioned Jones used to adore the landscape and wildlife of her adopted home in Bantry, a bucolic region in west Cork on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. She planted vegetables and herbs, foraged for nuts and berries and observed birds, insects, frogs and lizards.

Then, on land above her house, the state-owned forestry company Coillte planted a forest of Sitka spruce, a non-native species that Jones considered a dark, dank threat to biodiversity.

The Welsh grandmother got a chainsaw and started cutting – and cutting. A few trees at first, then dozens, then hundreds. In their place she planted native broadleaf trees – birch, hazel, oak, alder, crab apple and rowan – a guerrilla rewilding campaign that lasted more than 20 years. . . 


Rural round-up

February 25, 2020

The only way forward for farming is to do it together as a country – Daniel Eb:

Dad and I had an argument recently.

We’re fencing off a stream on the farm soon and I want to include a patch of bush in the job. 

We traded reasons for and against. “It’s good for biodiversity, there’s no feed in there anyway”.

“The stock need the shelter, we’re already losing grazing around the stream.” . .

 

Elle Perriam and Harriet Bremner join forces to empower Canterbury farmers :

Two young rural women who have a friendship with a difference will make their first public appearance together in a bid to change the way those in the rural sector think.

Elle Perriam, founder of Will To Live, and Harriet Bremner, children’s author and safety campaigner have both lived through tremendous grief, suffering the loss of both of their partners.

With a bond shared through their deep grief, love of dogs, horses, farming and passion for people – the duo are pairing up for the first time to tell their stories, hosting an event at the Rolleston School Auditorium on March 2. . . 

How China became NZ’s number one trading partner – Jamie Gray:

China’s coronavirus outbreak has delivered a fast, sharp shock to the New Zealand economy.

From tourism to the meat trade, the disease has highlighted just how reliant New Zealand has become on China.

In less than a decade, the People’s Republic has come to dominate nearly all New Zealand’s major merchandise exports.

Already, some economists are saying the virus – officially named Covid-19 – and a local drought could tip New Zealand into recession this year. . . 

Bovis eradication still realistic – Annette Scott:

Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is proving realistic, M Bovis Programme communications manager Joe Stockman says.

But it is highly unlikely how it got here will ever be known.

Addressing a large gathering of farmers, rural professionals and community leaders in Oamaru on Wednesday Stockman said there’s confidence in a successful eradication.

M bovis is not right across New Zealand, making eradication feasible.

“The current spread is very limited to the movement of infected animals. . . 

New face for meat body :

Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva is the organisation’s new chief executive.

She succeeds Tim Ritchie, who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Before joining the association in 2015 Karapeeva held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles at the Ministries for Primary Industries, of Business, Innovation, and Employment and Economic Development. 

She said the red meat sector is operating in an increasingly complex environment and faces a number of challenges domestically and internationally. . . 

NZ’s ‘largest one-day show’ is coming:

The Mackenzie A&P Highland Show will be held on Easter Monday.

Described by organisers as the largest one-day show in New Zealand, the event at Mackenzie A&P Showgrounds is expected to draw up to 15,000 people.

Organising secretary, Jodi Payne is promising visitors there will be “plenty to see”. . . 

Northern NSW beef producers show faith in future wool industry – Lucy Kinbacher:

A growing number of cattle producers looking for a quick turnover and restocking option after recent rain are entering the wool game and building their own Merino flock.

The new players to the Merino game are doing battle with established wool growers who are also ditching their sideline cattle herds to reestablish their traditional sheep carrying capacity.

Narrabri-based couple Jon and Claire Welsh may be fifth generation cattle producers but their newly acquired the 930 hectare (2300 acre) Guyra property, Oban View, is being stocked with a Merino flock. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 19, 2020

Avocado trees killed in Far North orchard :

An avocado orchard in the Far North has been vandalised – alongside the words “water thieves” – in an apparent protest against water usage in the parched region.

Windbreaks have been slashed and graffitied, water pipes have been cut and about 20 trees have been killed over the Christmas period at Mapua Orchard, near Houhora.

Orchard manager Ian Broadhurst said it wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it was definitely the worst.

He said Mapua was part of a wider group of 17 orchards in the region that had applied to the Northland Regional Council for consents to draw water from the Aupōuri aquifer. . . 

Federated Farmers: Mycoplasma Boris tax hit unfair:

Federated Farmers is seeking Ministerial support for a change to tax legislation so farmers whose breeding stock are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort are not disadvantaged by the tax regime.

“Currently farmers whose dairy or beef breeding cows are valued on their books under the National Standard Cost scheme and whose cattle are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis response will most likely end up with a hefty tax bill. This is not a fair outcome for affected farmers and we believe it’s an unintended consequence of the tax legislation,” Federated Farmers economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . .

All work and no play for southern food producers – Jacqui Dean:

For most of us, the first days of the New Year are spent resting, reflecting and rueing the excesses of the Christmas period.

The ham on the bone is being whittled away, the recycling bin is housing a few too many empty bottles and we’re all hoping that someone else will take the initiative and tidy away the Christmas decorations for another year.

But for a great many people, the early weeks of January are all about work.

With Central Otago accounting for nearly 60 per cent of planted summer fruit orchards in New Zealand, it’s fair to say that all eyes are on this neck of the woods as the country hankers after its fresh produce. . . 

Native trees supply looks tight – Richard Rennie:

The nation’s Billion Trees target by 2028 might be missed by a quarter because of a lack of capacity and resources to meet it.

The goal includes having 200 million native trees planted by 2028. 

However, a survey commissioned by the Forests Ministry survey indicates only 160m native seedlings can be supplied by then. 

That is based on a sustainable growth rate of 7.5% a year for a sector that has had 12-15% growth for the past three years but that has been described unsustainable over any length of time. . . 

‘Unusable’ plastic sitting at Smart Environmental has future in fence posts

Change is on the way for the classic Kiwi fencepost, with a new venture making them out of recycled plastic.

Future Post has joined forces with Smart Environmental’s Kopu site, collecting bales of recycling which will then be turned into fence posts.

The Smart Environmental plant services Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako and Waipā, and Future Post is expecting to save around 15 tonnes of plastic a month.

“It means there’s a reasonable percentage of plastic now being reused; however, there’s still a hell of a lot that is unusable and still has no market,” Smart Environmental’s Waikato and BOP regional manager Layne Sefton said. . . 

Food made from ‘bacterial dust’ is ‘ludicrous’, beef group says :

British beef producers have called a proposal to feed the population with synthetic lab food made from bacteria as ‘ludicrous’.

George Monbiot claimed in the recent documentary ‘Apocalypse Cow’ that conventional farming will end in 50 years time.

Instead of food produced from farms, the human diet will eventually rely on synthetic food made in laboratories, the environmental activist claimed in the show.

Monbiot visited a team of researchers in Finland who unveiled their process for food production – made out of bacteria and water. . .


Rural round-up

January 9, 2020

Farmer fears M Bovis back on property despite culling of 700 cattle

A Southland farmer is concerned the Mycoplasma bovis disease could be back on his farm, 18 months after his previous cattle herd had to be culled.

The disease can cause mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis, and late-term abortions.

Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft had 1700 cattle culled after M bovis was discovered on their farm which was later declared disease-free.

Afterwards, they told RNZ they hoped they would never have to go through such an ordeal again. . . 

Kiwifruit seeks social license – Richard Rennie:

The term social licence to operate could be discarded as yet another slick marketing phrase but it is the guardrail that will keep New Zealand’s primary sector front and centre of this country’s continuing economic growth.

Richard Rennie spoke to Kellogg scholar and Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated communications manager Mike Murphy about his research on social licence and the kiwifruit sector.

Trust is probably the best descriptor when trying to define social licence to operate, a term that i relatively new to the primary sector, Kellogg scholar and Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated communications manager Mike Murphy says. . .

Shed upgrade cuts milking time :

Matamata goat farmers Wiebe and Piety Smitstra have retrofitted their goat milking shed with a GEA WestfaliaSurge low line double-up herringbone system.

The system, including automatic cup removers, milk meters and DairyPlan software, have contributed to worthwhile efficiency gains, say the Smitstras.

They have ‘gained’ two extra hours per day and the ability to identify their top performing goats for breeding. . .

Green tea instead of sulphur – Tessa Nicholson:

A Marlborough winery is attempting to replace sulphur dioxide (SO2) from their organic Sauvignon Blanc with green tea.

SO2 is a preservative that’s widely used in winemaking for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. In terms of wine, adding it helps prevent oxidation, ensuring the wine stays fresh. In recent years the use of SO2 has come under scrutiny as some consumers say they react to wines that contain it. Reactions range from allergy effects, such as runny nose, itchy throat, skin rashes to asthma attacks. The number of producers not wanting to add sulphites is increasing world-wide and the orange wine movement has grown exponentially on the back of this. . .

Record attempt abandoned – Adam Burns:

A Central Otago shearer’s bid for a world record was abandoned after a few hours near Ranfurly on Saturday.

Stacey Te Huia, of Alexandra, was aiming to break a nine-hour merino wethers record of 418 set by Canterbury shearer Grant Smith in 1999.

The attempt was originally scheduled for December 7, but was postponed because the weight would not have been met.

Mr Te Huia started at 5am needing an average of about 47 an hour to break the record. . .

Hot cows affect reproduction – Greg Jarratt:

Heat stress has a big effect on reproduction, explains Greg Jarratt, vet and director of Matamata Veterinary Services.

One of the biggest headaches faced by NZ farmers is reproductive failure where in a herd six–week in calf rates fall and empty rates climb.

This translates to a major hit to the businesses bottom line due to lower production and more involuntary culling.

For this reason, many farmers consistently devote significant resources and efforts towards optimising reproductive performance and regularly review their reproductive performance and policies.


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