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.


Rural round-up

November 26, 2019

Security for Otago farmers unclear amid water plans – Jono Edwards:

Some Otago farmers could be left with “unbankable” irrigation schemes as the Government recommends an overhaul of the Otago Regional Council’s planning processes.

Environment Minister David Parker yesterday released a raft of recommendations for the council after an investigation into its management of freshwater.

It said the council was not equipped to transfer hundreds of century-old water rights into resource consents by 2021, and regardless it should not do so because they would be processed under its current “inadequate” water plan.

On top of the rewriting of council plans already in progress, it recommended an interim plan change to transfer the permits into consents in the meantime.

They would be for a maximum of five years, which some farmers say is too short to ensure future security. . . 

Food bowl or toilet bowl? – John Jackson:

New Zealand shouldn’t become a ‘toilet bowl’ of trees for other countries’ carbon dioxide commitments, explains John Jackson. 

By the time this is published, a group representing everything good about provincial NZ will have marched on Parliament under the 5New Zealand shouldn’t become a ‘toilet bowl’ of trees for other countries’ carbon dioxide commitments, explains John Jackson. OPINION: By the time this is published, a group representing everything good about provincial NZ will have marched on Parliament under the 50 Shades of Green banner. I’ve never had much interest in trees. I have always enjoyed their ‘fruit’ – whether a physical product I could eat, a picture of might or magnificence in a singular or landscape perspective, or simply shade or shelter. banner.

I’ve never had much interest in trees. I have always enjoyed their ‘fruit’ – whether a physical product I could eat, a picture of might or magnificence in a singular or landscape perspective, or simply shade or shelter. . .

 

No slacking for M Bovis effort – Annette Scott:

There’s no time to slacken off over the next year if the , programme is to limit the disease, M bovis governance group chairman Kelvan Smith says.

The M bovis governance group, made up of Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Ray Smith, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle,  Beef + Lamb chief executive Sam McIvor and independently chaired by Smith, meets monthly to discuss and review the eradication programme.

Smith said the group is focused on strategic planning to ensure the programme builds on progress made to date and continues towards eradication.

“To date the programme has found 207 infected properties, stopping further spread of the disease and clearing the infection from these properties,” he said.  . . 

Beef + Lamb puts money where its mouth is- Nigel Malthus:

A ‘model’ sheep and beef farm in North Canterbury is away and running, its founders say.

The North Canterbury Future Farm, set up by Beef + Lamb NZ in partnership with local famers, has had an “OK” first full year of operation, said the organisers of its 2019 Open Day.

BLNZ’s partner is Lanercost Farming Ltd, formed by the landowner, Julia Whelan, with locals Simon Lee and Carl Forrester. . .

A natural blend of grains firms – Tim Fulton:

Two New Zealand-based, foreign-owned seed companies marked a milestone merger in October.

PGG Wrightson Seeds chief executive John McKenzie has seen a good number of mergers and acquisitions over 45 years in the grain and seed trade.

Some deals went well and good and others were distinctly disappointing. The lastest was a natural blend, he said.

The sale of PGG Wrightson’s former grain and seed division has put McKenzie in charge of an Oceania business unit in a global business, DLF Seeds. . .

Pet day a national school tradition :

Dogs of every shape and size, miniature ponies, cats, lambs and guinea pigs put aside their differences and got together for Fairton School’s annual pet day last week.

Fairton School principal Mike Hill said, ”We are a little country school and pet days are a national tradition, and a lot of fun.”

The majority of the pupils had pets at home, so it was good to recognise the way they cared for their animals, he said.

It was also a great chance for parents, and visiting preschoolers from Stepping Stones @ Braebrook, to come to the school and be involved. . . 


Rural round-up

November 4, 2019

$9 billion shock – Neal Wallace and Annette Scott:

Claims the Government’s essential freshwater proposals could cost the livestock industry over $9 billion a year are selective, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

That is the estimated cost of compliance and lower production of meeting proposed freshwater reforms, submissions from Beef + Lamb and DairyNZ say.

More than 12,000 submissions were made by last week’s deadline.

The reforms have been labelled by some farming bodies as unbalanced, unnecessarily harsh and unsustainable. . .

M bovis’ eradication initiatives vindicated – Sally Rae:

An independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) believes achieving eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still feasible.

The group’s latest report was released yesterday by the Ministry for Primary Industries in which it supported the changes the M. bovis programme had made over the past six months.

Given available data, achieving biological freedom from M. bovis was feasible provided the number of undetected infected herds was not large, infection had not established and spread within the non-dairy sector, and that the rate of transmission to new herds was reduced via continued shortening in the intervals from infection to application of movement controls, it said. . .

Faith, family and farming– Sonita Chandar:

Southland farmers are community and spiritual leaders in the Islamic community. They put their faith above everything and answered the call to help  after the Christchurch mosque shootings. They talk to Sonita Chandar about their experiences and farming.

On Friday March 15 Invercargill farmer and imam of the world’s southernmost mosque, Reza Abdul-Jabbar, was delivering his weekly sermon when a worshipper’s phone rang.

Until then it had been super quiet, as it usually is during the service.

He reminded the man it was a time for silence, not to take the call and continued. 

But other phones began ringing. . .

Fonterra’s dream run in India – Pam Tipa:

Fonterra three months ago launched its first consumer brand in India under the Fonterra Future Dairy joint venture.

The brand Dreamery has had a “fantastic reception”, says Judith Swales, chief operating officer, global consumer and foodservice.

Fonterra is working with joint venture partner Future Group which is present in 26 of 31 Indian states with over 2000 modern trade outlets and 5000 public distribution outlets. . .

Experts have their say on whether cherries justify their popularity – Mark Price:

Faced with all manner of economic worries — from Trump to freshwater policies — where might investors put their hard-won savings in the hope of a better than deposit rate return? Might cherries — the horticultural darling of the moment in Central Otago — be the answer? Mark Price sought out two opinions.

Ross and Sharon Kirk are cherry industry consultants trading as Hortinvest Ltd. They have the biggest netted orchard under management in Central Otago (close to 40ha), and are in the process of planting two 80ha, ‘‘fully-netted’’ development

Suitability for Central Otago

Q: What are the basic requirements for cherries to thrive?
A: Low rainfall over harvest, good winter chilling, reasonable soils (nutrient), adequate water, reasonable shelter from wind, and netting (to keep out birds).

Q: Which requirements does Central Otago meet?
A: All of the above, although the bird netting is expensive. . . .

Cute as buttons :

North Canterbury farmers Melissa and Hayden Cowan have a small flock of rare black-nosed Swiss Valais sheep.

Often referred to as the “cutest sheep in the world” this distinctive breed with black face and ears, curly forelocks and spotted knees and hocks originate in the mountains of the Valais area of Switzerland.

They imported their first embryos from the UK in 2018 and from the 32 embryos 18 live lambs were born so there’s no guarantee they’ll work. The embryos cost $2000 a pop so it’s a quite an investment. .


Rural round-up

October 17, 2019

Celebrating Mt Dasher’s centenary – Sally Rae:

When the result of a ballot to determine ownership of the newly created Mt Dasher run was announced, it was a popular outcome.

The successful applicant among the returned servicemen was Robert (Roy) Mitchell, an accountant in Wright Stephenson and Co’s Oamaru branch whose left arm was amputated during World War 1.

“He was heartily congratulated when the result of the ballot was declared,” the Otago Daily Times reported in 1919.

Mt Dasher, just over 30km inland from Oamaru, came into being as a run in its own right when it was cut off the property known as The Dasher.

Both properties were then put up for ballot as two separate blocks for soldiers – 98 applications were received.  . . 

Farmer takes a stand over M Bovis – Annette Scott:

Graeme Kenny has been farming sheep and beef on his 320 hectare property at Geraldine for 30 years but the past 18 months have been with no income.

As a former livestock agent of more than 40 years buying and selling stock right across the South Island he knows the importance of keeping impeccable animal movement records.

That has been fortunate given he and his wife Denise are now grappling with the trauma of Mycoplasma bovis.

Worse still, Kenny says dealing with the incompetence, lack of transparency, communication and understanding from the Ministry for Primary Industries has created an absolute nightmare. . . 

New hopes amid ugly numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s 2019 financial year results were a contrast between big, ugly numbers and attractive plans and predictions in its new corporate strategy.

Nothing was going to take away the shock of a $605 million loss on top of a $196m loss the previous financial year.

More than $800m of write-downs and impairments had been signalled six weeks in advance and the reported loss was towards the lower end of the forecast $590m-$675m loss range.

Dividends had been cancelled for the year and Fonterra’s directors have vowed never to borrow to pay dividends in the future as they effectively did in the first half of FY2018. . . 

Southern beef herd growing the fastest – Sally Rae:

Southern farmers have played a major role in boosting New Zealand’s beef cattle herd which increased 2.6% in the year ending June 30.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand yesterday released its annual stock number survey which estimated there were now 3.8million beef cattle and 27.4million sheep in New Zealand. The sheep flock was up 0.4%.

Otago and Southland were the fastest-growing regions in beef cattle, up by 12.9% and 12% respectively, as strong prices encouraged farmers to maintain or lift herd sizes, the report said.

New Zealand’s breeding ewe flock dropped 1.1% to 16.97million and most regions decreased, largely driven by strong prices for cull ewes. . . 

Countdown says customers moving to plant-based protein –

Countdown is reporting a surge in consumer demand for alternative proteins.

The supermarket chain, which has 180 stores in New Zealand, said sales of dairy-free milk had risen 14 percent in the past six months, while the number of sales of dairy-free cheese had grown by more than 300 percent.

It said in the last year, demand for plant-based vegan and vegetarian meal solutions had increased 36 percent. . .

Pest control advice from a small Canadian twin: get stuffed – Mirjam Guesgen:

A small Canadian town has the weirdest answer to its pest problem – a museum of stuffed and costumed animal dioramas that has become a cult tourist attraction.

Possums, stoats and rats are giving our native birds grief, and the New Zealand government has outlined an ambitious plan to get rid of them. All of them. That’s some 30 million possums and lord only knows how many rats and stoats.

Which begs the question: Once these animals have been trapped or poisoned out of existence, what will we do with their furry little bodies?

One option might be to make dioramas starring stuffed versions of these villains, like they have in the hamlet of Torrington in Canada. . .

Pot producer CannTrust to destroy $77M in plants, inventory -Shanti S Nair:

 Canadian cannabis producer CannTrust Holdings said Monday it would destroy about $12 million worth of plants and about $65 million worth of inventory as part of a plan to regain full regulatory compliance.

Health Canada canceled CannTrust’s license to produce and sell cannabis in September, months after it found the company was illegally cultivating pot.

The inventory to be destroyed will include product returned by patients, distributors, and retailers, the company said in a release Monday. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 11, 2019

Anger at slow compensation process –  Sally Rae:

”I think I would rather have cancer than Mycoplasma bovis.”

That was the hard-hitting opening line in a letter from North Otago farmer Kerry Dwyer, to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last month.

Mr Dwyer and his wife Rosie were among the first farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis when their property was confirmed as having the bacterial cattle disease in August 2017.

It was in March last year that Mr Dwyer first publicly expressed fears over the compensation process.

Now, more than two years after having all their cattle slaughtered due to the disease, and a year after lodging their last compensation claim, they were still waiting for settlement.

But after the Otago Daily Times contacted MPI yesterday, a spokesman said director-general Ray Smith had requested an urgent review of the Dwyers’ claims and MPI would pay what was owing by the end of the week. . . 

Hurunui mayor blames public opinion for ‘unattainable’ water targets – Emma Dangerfield:

An outgoing North Canterbury mayor says “public opinion and impatience” are driving proposed water quality targets that will be impossible to meet.

Environment Minister David Parker last week released the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Management and the Government’s rewritten National Policy Statement, which aims to improve New Zealand’s waterways, crack down on farming practices and increase regulation. The plan includes a mandate for councils to have freshwater plans in place by 2025.

In a statement published on the Hurunui District Council’s website, mayor and farmer Winton Dalley said the Government was responding to the “huge pressure of public opinion and impatience with what in their view is … [a] lack of progress to return all water to a quality, which – in many cases – is unattainable.”

Water quality issues in the district were not only caused by rural and urban pollution, he said. . . 

Irrigation achievement celebrated:

The prosperity of the Mid Canterbury district stems from the 67km-long Rangitata diversion race (RDR), which started from humble beginnings with workers using picks, shovels and wooden wheelbarrows in its development at Klondyke, Mid Canterbury in 1937.

It has gone on to supply water to the district’s plains and helping to generate social and economic benefits to Mid Cantabrians, from the people on the land, to those in its towns and villages.

The engineering feat required for its development was celebrated with new signage provided by the Mid Canterbury RDR community and those connected to the system.

They included farmer and RDR Management Ltd (RDRML) chairman Richard Wilson, irrigation scheme representatives, members of the engineering fraternity and other invited guests such as ”RDR Kid” Viv Barrett (87), who, at age 5, lived with his family in the RDR camp at Ealing as his father Jim was the first RDR raceman. . . 

Teenager creates company to get high-speed network to rural communities – Rebecca Black:

A Whanganui teenager has big plans to get fibre internet speeds to rural customers.

Alex Stewart, 14, says rural communities are paying fibre prices for copper speeds and face a huge bill to get access to faster internet.

Stewart was staying at Turakina Beach, 20 minutes south of Whanganui, when he got talking to frustrated locals who had been in touch with a telecommunications company about getting cell phone coverage and better internet. . . 

Painting cows like zebras keep flies at bay – study – Angie Skerrett:

A new study suggests painting cows with zebra stripes could be the answer to the age-old problem of fly attacks on livestock, and bring economic and environmental benefits.

Biting flies are serious pests for livestock, which cause economic losses in animal production. 

However a new study by Japanese researchers and published in PLOS One found that black cows painted with zebra stripes are nearly 50 percent less likely to suffer from the bites.

Researchers used six Japanese Black cows with different paint designs in the study. . . 

African Swine Flu just a stone’s throw from Australia :

The deadly virus which has claimed one quarter of the world’s pig population is now perilously close to our northern border.

A disease that has wreaked havoc and caused mass devastation to the global pig population, has now spread from China to other parts of Asia, including the Philippines, North and South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and now Timor-Leste.

Outbreaks of African Swine Fever also continue to be reported in eastern Europe as the deadly spread shows no signs of slowing. ASF is reported to have already wiped out a quarter of the world’s pigs, and the risk of it infecting pigs in other countries in Asia and elsewhere remains a serious threat. The disease is known to kill about 80 percent of animals which become infected. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 1, 2019

The climate change blame-game:

In spite of the abuse heaped on farmers by urbanites, the causes of climate change are a town and country problem.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern undersold New Zealand when she told the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York that we were “determined to show that we can be the most sustainable food producers in the world”.

By most key measures, and even counting food miles for our exports, we already are. But that message needs amplifying.

Never mind the world stage – farmers need defending at home against the current fashion for demonising them as the prime culprits for greenhouse-gas emissions and water pollution. . . 

Farmers’ inner-city BBQs aim to boost urban connections, mental health – Maja Burry:

A farming group is hosting barbecues in cities around the country to try to strengthen the relationship between rural and city people.

Ag Proud, a group formed by Southland farmers, aims to promote positive farm practices and raise awareness around mental health in the farming-sector.

Dairy farmer and Ag Proud co-founder, Jon Pemberton, said a recent winter grazing campaign by environmentalists in his region and some of the stress that had created among farmers sparked the group’s formation. . . 

Celebrity chef Al Brown pledges support for NZ farmers, takes swipe at ‘urban keyboard warriors’ – Angie Skerrett:

Celebrity chef Al Brown has taken a swipe at “urban keyboard warriors” he claims criticise farmers unnecessarily.

Brown posted a message on his Facebook page pledging his support for New Zealand farmers and calling on city-dwellers to stop bagging them.

“I just want to say thank you to our farmers of New Zealand,” the Depot owner wrote.  . .

‘M. bovis’ costs $203m to date – Brent Melville:

The costs of Mycoplasma bovis to the agricultural sector continue to stack up.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says the eradication programme has cost more than $203million to date – excluding compensation to farmers.

In that respect MPI has received a total of 1450 claims with a value of $109.9million and has so far completed 1100 of those, cutting cheques to farmers valued at about $96.5million.

According to the latest figures from MPI more than 116,526 cattle and cows have been culled in just over two years since the M. bovis eradication programme was launched.

That’s getting close to initial estimates that around 126,000 animals would be culled during the course of a multi-year surveillance and eradication strategy, or around 1% of New Zealand’s cattle population. . . 

New dehorning rules are here :

New rules will require pain relief when dehorning and disbudding cattle.

From tomorrow, new rules require people working with cattle to use local anaesthetic when dehorning and disbudding.

Veterinarian and director animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell says removing horns or horn buds is necessary on the farm to keep animals safe from each other, as well as for human safety.

“These regulations highlight that removal is painful and those carrying it out need to reduce the pain experienced. . . 

Wool price rebounds after dip :

After an extremely turbulent few weeks, fine-mid wool growers are breathing a sigh of relief that prices are on the mend.

The US-China trade war has been affecting demand, with factories in China feeling reluctant to buy wool to make garments they might struggle to sell.

PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager for wool Dave Burridge said at its peak three weeks ago mid-fine wool prices in New Zealand were down 50 percent compared to the same time last year, but they had now made a notable recovery, sitting about 25 percent back on 2018 levels. . .

 


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