Rural round-up

February 16, 2018

Drought, disruption undermines farmers’ confidence:

A marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about the ability to recruit suitable staff are stand-out features of the Federated Farmers Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey.

For the first time in two years, farmer optimism has decreased, including negative perceptions of the economy, farm profitability, farm production and farm spending. Farm debt levels have also increased and fewer farms are now debt-free.

The Federated Farmers survey is conducted by Research First twice a year (January and July) and 1070 farmers responded to the questionnaire last month. . . 

Time to get real about forestry – Graham West:

Last year I commented on the high returns from current harvesting, however I don’t believe this is being translated into significant interest in new planting, certainly not at the rate of the governments aspirational target of 50,000ha per year. The Crown Forestry action is clearly around doing deals to secure land for leasing and other deal makers, like Toitu Te Waonui, and various forestry consultants, are doing the same, good on them.

But this doesn’t really raise the general awareness of the forestry business opportunity for land owners and investors. The challenge is how to create a pipe line of prospects who are considering land use change. The target group must be the approximately 25,000 drystock farmers in New Zealand, owning 9.5m hectares. The timeline is also important, seedlings for next winter are already booked, but the deadline for orders to secure plants for the following winter (2019) needs to be placed with nurseries by Oct-Nov 2018. . . 

Minister needs to step up as drought worsens in Coastal Taranaki:

The Minister for Primary Industries needs to step up and listen to the rural sector in the face of the worsening drought in Coastal Taranaki, National’s Rural Communities Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

Mrs Kuriger reached out to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week to discuss ideas put forward by the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, but the Minister has not accepted the invitation to meet.

“It would seem that the response by the Minister – since initially declaring the drought – has been to bury his head in the sand on the Coastal Taranaki issue. . . 

Govt passing the cap around primary industry:

The Government is going cap-in-hand to the primary sector seeking support to help eradicate the rapidly-spreading cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“It’s my understanding that the Ministry for Primary Industries is canvassing the dairy and red meat industry for contributions to fund the response and eradication of this disease.

“In Parliament yesterday the Minister Damien O’Connor couldn’t say how much money the Government is prepared to contribute to fully eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis.

“Knowing how tight the Government’s finances are because of its other big-spending commitments – and even with financial contributions from industry – Mr O’Connor has an uphill battle convincing his Cabinet colleagues how critical funding of over $100 million actually is,” Mr Guy says. . . 

National welcomes continuation of 1080 policy:

A reassurance from the Department of Conservation (DOC) that there has been no change in policy over the use of 1080 poison is welcome, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“At today’s annual review the Director General, Lou Sanson, reassured the Environment Select Committee that not only has there been no change in 1080 policy, but DOC expects to expand its use.

“This approach is critical to achieving National’s long term Predator-Free NZ by 2050 vision. Possums, rats and stoats kill 25 million birds a year, and if DOC was hamstrung from using 1080, we would see further unique species becoming extinct. . . 

Regulator asks how gene-edited food should be treated:

Planning for future GM foods coming down the line, the food safety regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for suggestions for how it should consider applications for foods that have been made using new genetic techniques that aren’t currently covered by their laws.

The current code only covers food produced by genetic techniques that add DNA into a genome and doesn’t cover newer gene editing techniques like CRISPR/Cas9 which knock out genes or proteins, or others that don’t change the DNA of the final food product.

FSANZ are asking for submissions on how these newer techniques should be assessed before they go to market. Options range from treating them like conventional breeding techniques – given a green light once a technique has been proved safe – or to be treated like current genetically modified organisms which would mean that each application requires a rigorous safety assessment. . . 

Golden Rice: Loved by humanitarians, reviled by environmentalists – Green Jihad *

Despite the Philippines and Bangladesh edging toward commercializing it, New Zealand’s food regulation agency (FSANZ) endorsed approving importing Golden Rice for sale in order to reduce trade disorder with Asian countries that allow it.

Unfortunately, an opposition group named GE-Free New Zealand has started an effort urging New Zealand’s food safety minister to review the FSANZ’s recommendation in hopes of eventually halting the importation of Golden Rice. The organization’s views are nearly in line with what environmentalist groups, like Greenpeace, have been claiming about GMO’s for years.

Golden Rice has been a vital source of nutrition for many people in developing countries who lack Vitamin A that humans need to help them survive. Sadly, environmentalist groups are undaunted in halting not only the dissemination of Golden Rice and all other GMO’s but their production too. This being done so that more humans die of starvation or illness resulting from malnutrition due to a reduction in the food supply. . . 

Sustainable ag series – farmers – Dirt to dinner:

The agriculture industry is often criticized for using too much water, using too many chemicals, and adding more carbon to the atmosphere.

However, farmers have their boots on the ground and occupy the front lines of sustainability initiatives within agriculture. No farms, no food!

While some farmers employ better approaches to farming sustainably, no farmer deliberately damages human or environmental health or wants to waste their inputs, such as water, pesticide, and labor. As stewards of the land, it is in a farmer’s best interest to preserve all of their resources for future generations of farming. . . 

* (Hat tip: Utopia):

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Rural round-up

February 15, 2018

Farmer compensation for cattle disease to cost over $100m: Nathan Guy – Gerard Hutching:

Compensation for farmers affected so far by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis could cost more than $100 million, National’s Primary Industries spokesman Nathan Guy says.

But he said the coalition Cabinet would probably soon decide it had other spending priorities, and farmers would be told to learn to live with the disease.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced on Friday a further two South Island dairy farms had been confirmed infected with Mycoplasma, bringing the total to 23. . . 

US vet: Mycoplasma need not cripple dairy profitability:

Mycoplasma bovis infection, now spreading throughout NZ dairying, needn’t be a death sentence for farm profitability, according to American veterinarian Dr Paul Dettloff, visiting here in early March.

Official response to the M. bovis crisis has focused on containment and keeping the contagious bacterial disease from spreading between animals. This infection is widespread in other dairying countries and needn’t reduce dairy profitability here. Dr Dettloff, who works for a large dairy cooperative in the US, indicates he sees farmers who don’t have M. bovis in their cows, despite being surrounded by farms with infected animals. . . 

Rural mum’s infectious enthusiasm part of Fantail’s Nest story – Kate Taylor:

The enthusiasm from Michelle Burden for her Fantail’s Nest business is infectious.

She smiles when she talks about what she does and what the future holds for her business and her family.

Running a small, rural business has its challenges. But they’re worth it.

Burden is one of hundreds of business people, many of them mothers, juggling life and work in a rural area. . .

Feed demand limits grass harvest :

Southern welfare groups are urging farmers not to be complacent after substantial falls of rain appear to have alleviated some areas of drought in Southland and Otago.

Southland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Wright said pasture response and aquifer recharge have been slower than expected and though the rain has jolted winter crops to start growing again, more is needed.

Farmers should assess whether they have enough feed for winter and if not they need to source extra supplies sooner rather than later. . . 

Farm visits link town and country:

Youngsters in Northland are getting the chance to experience dairy farming thanks to two couples taking part in DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer programme.

Creating a link between urban and rural communities and showcasing farming to the next generation are just two reasons why Terence and Suzanne Brocx and William and Robyn Hori host school visits.

Suzanne feels the connection many city families once had to relatives in the country has largely been lost. The Brocxs and Horis say joining DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer service has been their attempt to re-establish that connection. . .

Ag’s success should be stirring Australia’s future business entrepreneurs – Andrew Marshall:

First he turned smashed avocado into a much-discussed metaphor for the Millennial generation’s poor money saving discipline.

Now he’s challenging what he fears is often our overly casual national attitude to business entrepreneurship and ambition.

Notably, the demographer and social commentator, Bernard Salt, believes agribusiness and agricultural initiative on the global stage are obvious areas for Australia’s business spirit to rise significantly higher. . . 


Rural round-up

February 10, 2018

Claims costs soar – Annette Scott:

Farmers have so far lodged 44 Mycoplasma bovis compensation claims with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

While MPI would not give the total value of the claims farmer Aad van Leeuwen said his claim so far was for $4.5 million and that was likely to be tripled.

And despite the law saying compensation for losses made as a result of MPI exercising its powers should leave farmers no worse off, the ministry was likely to make offers to farmers even when they could document actual loss figures.

There is also little likelihood of payments being made quickly. . .

Labour’s 100 days fails farmers:

Labour’s first 100 days in Government has earnt it a dismal report card as far as farmers are concerned, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“The Labour-led coalition has been in government for over 100 days now, yet all they have to show for it is the announcement of a series of expensive reviews and rebrands all the while staying silent on the big issues facing the sector right now.

“The minister Damien O’Connor is raiding $17 million out of the Primary Growth Partnership fund to rebrand MPI, at the expense of vitally important research and development funding – which is now being put on hold. . .

Animal genetics ‘Olympics’ a first for NZ:

About 1000 people will this month travel to New Zealand for three prestigious animal recording and genetics conferences.
For the first time, the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (WCGALP) will hold its four-yearly conference in NZ.

The congress will be combined with the annual conferences for the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) and Interbull – the leading event for research and development in animal improvement, milk testing, DNA parentage analysis, genomics and genetics. . . 

Labour of love for the environment:

Protecting and nurturing the environment for our future generations is a key commitment in the refreshed strategy, Dairy Tomorrow. Many farmers already have their sleeves rolled up doing inspirational environmental work throughout New Zealand. They include third generation dairy farmer Andy Palmer.

It was a chance remark he made back in the late ‘90s that got Andy started on what has become a labour of love spanning two decades. And it’s a passion that’s resulted in an extraordinary legacy of lush riparian planting of native species on his farm near Temuka, which he owns with wife Sharon Collett. . .

Data from new smart sensors can help growers drive yields and cut costs:

Cutting-edge wireless sensor technology now available to UK growers that measures precise humidity, moisture and temperature points, is set to equip farmers with the data they need to help drive improvements throughout their businesses.

Agriculture is becoming increasingly data-driven, and sensing technology is becoming instrumental to the way farmers grow crops.

Access to precise, detailed data is helping farmers to make better, more informed decisions: tailoring cultivation, avoiding produce and crop damage, and reducing costs. . .

Rights granted for peach variety – Sally Brooker:

A new variety of peach has been bred by North Otago orchardists Helen Brookes and Terry Fowler.

The couple achieved the feat at their smallholding at Georgetown, just east of Duntroon, in the Waitaki Valley. They have been granted plant variety rights from the Intellectual Property Office for their ”Sweet Perfection” peach.

The orchard was more of a horticultural interest than a commercial venture, Dr Brookes said.

”We used to and still get a number of visits from organisations to see what we do here. . .


Rural round-up

February 4, 2018

Govt won’t support irrigaiton while farms dry:

The Government is holding back regional New Zealand through its opposition to water storage projects which help grow jobs in the regions, boost exports and provide environmental sustainability National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s description of funding for irrigation projects as ‘unnecessary’ will come as a huge shock to farmers – especially when he supports the construction of the Waimea Dam in his local area. . .

Allbirds shoe business growing as it highlights connection to NZ merino farmers – Gerard Hutching:

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but Allbirds wool shoes founder Tim Brown has had enough of the recognition from some rivals.

Late last year Allbirds filed a trade dress infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California against shoe giant Steve Madden for allegedly copying its signature wool lace-up sneakers.

Steve Madden is not the only established company venturing into the woollen shoes business. Adidas, Nike and Puma are also using wool in sneakers and clothing, as more consumers seek out natural fibres over synthetic.

It is all good news for New Zealand’s 400 merino farmers who are riding the wave of a boom in demand for the fine fibre. . . 

Nixing nitrate with nanoparticles

Smart catalytic conversion technologies are being used to find better ways of improving the quality of water affected by nitrate pollution.

Dr Anna Garden (Chemistry) is leading a research project that seeks a quicker and safer way of removing nitrate from waterways. Garden says that nitrate pollution of New Zealand’s waterways has become a serious problem over recent decades, due to agricultural intensification and associated overuse of nitrogen-based fertilisers such as ammonium nitrate and urea.

“We are putting so much nitrogen-based fertiliser onto our land these days, as well as increasing the density of stock. . .

Riparian fencing poses challenges – HUgh Stringleman:

Northland dairy farmers Richard and Bev Dampney, farming at Otaua, west of Kaikohe, must urgently complete 10 to 11km of riparian fencing to continue supplying milk to Fonterra.

Within only a few farms nationwide still to comply, the Dampneys had argued riparian fencing was impractical on local rivers that flooded an average of six times a year.

Furthermore, cows had reticulated water in troughs and were effectively excluded from the water courses by steep, overgrown banks.

Hot tapes were used to break feed, and where cows might venture down to the waterways. . . 

Late change for honey standard – Richard Rennie:

The manuka honey industry has welcomed the Government’s last-minute revision of honey standards that, left unchanged, would have sliced millions off the value of the country’s premium honey type.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has made a significant change to the level of a chemical marker that defined manuka honey from multi-floral honey only days before the standards are to be formally enforced on honey producers.

February 5 marks the official launch of the new standards.

The MPI standards were released just before Christmas to an industry outcry at their failure to adequately define manuka honey and the impact they were likely to have on multi-floral honey’s ability to be defined as manuka.  . . 

Death threat vegans bombard award-winning dairy farmers:

Vegans have bombarded an award-winning young dairy farmer, his wife and children with hundreds of chilling death threats.

The American activists blasted Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore with a firestorm of vicious non-stop online abuse for five days.

The mob latched on to the couple, who are in their 30s, after they posted on social media about their new triplet calves.

See also: FW Awards 2017 – Diversification Farmer of the Year winners

The Crickmores, who run Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay, north Suffolk, scooped the Farmers WeeklyDiversification Farmer of the Year Award last year. . . 


Rural round-up

September 18, 2017

DairyNZ slams farm tax proposals – Hugh Stringleman:

All of New Zealand’s 12,000 dairy farms face an average $18,000-a-year additional taxes under the carbon and nitrogen taxes proposed by the Green Party, DairyNZ has calculated.

Add in the Labour Party’s proposed water tax and those 2000 farms that also irrigate face more than three times the impost, an average of $63,000 per farm.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said details on the proposed new taxes were sketchy, but his economists used what was available from Labour and the Greens to come up with the figures. . .

Sell-off surprise – Alan Williams:

A process for the surprise sale of most Landcorp farms to young people will start very quickly if National is re-elected, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

Landcorp was unaware of the plan till told just before it was announced.

He hoped to have several farms leased to young farmers during the next term.

That would be the first step towards them buying the farms over the next five to 10 years. . . 

From milk to advanced medical nutrition – a farmer’s journey from Southland to Toronto:

Dylan Davidson was a passenger in a car when the driver lost control after a deer ran out. The car rolled and left Dylan with two broken vertebrae in his back and several other injuries. Dylan lost a lot of weight from being in a coma for three weeks, and Dylan’s parents, Paul and Carol Davidson, said the Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) from Fonterra farmers’ milk played a key part in the healing process. The value of milk protein in human nutrition and muscle recovery has been well known for many years – but, as delicious as milk is, it takes litres of whole milk to do what a small amount of milk protein concentrate (MPC) can. . .

Florida’s Farmers Look At Irma’s Damage: ‘Probably The Worst We’ve Seen’ – Dan Charles:

When the worst of Irma’s fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida’s extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country’s biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

It took a direct hit from the storm. “The eyewall came right over our main production area,” McAvoy says.

The groves of orange and grapefruit were approaching harvest. But after Irma blew through, it left “50 or 60 percent of the fruit lying in water [or] on the ground,” says McAvoy. Many trees were standing in water, a mortal danger if their roots stay submerged for longer than three or four days. . . 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects:

New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 16, 2017

Young farming families able to buy Landcorp farms:

A National Government will help young families into their first farms by allowing young farmers to buy state owned farms after they’ve worked the land for five to ten years.

“The Government owns a large number of commercial farms through Landcorp, but there is no clear public good coming from Crown ownership and little financial return to taxpayers,” Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“We think that some of these farms are better off in the hands of hard working young farming families who are committed to modern farming and environmental best practice. . .

National to strengthen bio-security rules:

A re-elected National Government will strengthen biosecurity rules, toughen penalties for stock rustling and help exporters add value, National Party Primary Industries Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“These policies will help grow and protect the primary sector sustainably, and support our goal of doubling the value of our exports to $64 billion by 2025,” Mr Guy says.

“We are proud to support the primary sector which is the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy, helping us earn a living and pay for social services. . .

Adapting dryland farming to climate change:

Seven years of dry weather and relentless wind erosion in the early 2000s had devastated the Flaxbourne-Starborough landscape of South Marlborough, one of the country’s earliest farmed areas.

Doug Avery’s Grassmere farm Bonaveree was one of those affected. “Over-grazing during the long dry was harming the financial, environmental and emotional sustainability of the farm,” recalls Barbara Stuart, regional co-ordinator of the NZ Landcare Trust (NZLT). “People like Doug were stressed, heartbroken, even a bit ashamed about what was happening.” . . 

AFFCO’s first chilled shipment unloaded in China – Allan Barber:

AFFCO chairman Sam Lewis visited China last weekend to greet the first container of AFFCO chilled meat to arrive for distribution to eager food service and retail customers throughout Henan Province in east-central China. The arrival was marked by an official reception at Zhengzhou attended by the NZ Trade Commissioner Liam Corkery, MPI representatives Dave Samuels and Steve Sutton, and a Kangyuan executive. According to Lewis the speed of customs clearance for the consignment was a record for meat shipments, taking no more than three hours for the whole process.

The distributor, Kangyuan Food Company, has cool storage and frozen storage facilities and imports more than 10,000 tonnes of meat annually from New Zealand, Australia and South America to supplement its own domestic processing capacity of 600,000 sheep and 100,000 cattle. Kangyuan is also the largest distributor of Halal product in China. . .

Time to walk the talk – Allan Barber:

There are large operators, small suppliers, traders and third party agents and, in times of tight livestock supply, the lines between them start to get a bit blurred and the classifications move around, depending on who is making the judgement.

From a competitor’s perspective one company’s large supplier is a trader who is always presumed to earn a massive premium over schedule, far higher than loyal suppliers who don’t have the same bargaining power. Of course it’s invariably other companies that are the guilty parties when it comes to using third party agents, generally the stock firms. As always the truth isn’t quite so simple. . .

Irish dairy farmers fortunate that consumers drinking ‘real milk’ – Caroline Allen:

While Irish liquid milk producers have been protesting about the possibility of a milk price war, there is still an appreciation of milk as a healthy natural product in this country, Mary Shelman, former director of Harvard Business School’s agri business programme, told AgriLand.

Shelman who is the “absentee owner” of a 475ac farm in Kentucky, which is a cash grain operation divided between corn and soya beans, was in Dublin last week to deliver a number of addresses. She was at UCD’s Michael Smurfit School and also delivering lectures for Bord Bia’s talent programmes, including the Origin Green Ambassador programme. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 9, 2017

Alliance Group beefing up facilities to meet demand for blood products –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group will invest $1.7 million in two plants in order to meet growing demand for New Zealand-sourced blood products.

In Pukeuri in Oamaru it will build a new facility created to help boost the recovery of blood-based products for sale to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries, the cooperative said in a statement. The meat processor will also improve the recovery of offal and upgrade the pet food area, it said. . . 

Kelso farmers raising bobby calves for beef – Nicole Sharp:

Kelso dairy farmers Ken and Bruce Eade have been rearing their bobby calves for the beef industry for the past three years.

The father-and-son duo farm 270ha with their wives, Nancy and Tanya, in West Otago and after they bought their heifer block, down from the main farm, they decided it made economic sense to hang on to the bobby calves, they said.

Bobby calves being kept back for beef

”We thought we might as well run some bull-beef there too,” Bruce said. . . 

New environmental focus for irrigation funding:

A change to the constitution of Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) will allow it to fund water storage projects with direct environmental and economic benefits, rather than on the basis of purely economic grounds, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This is an important change to CIIL’s mandate which recognises and reinforces how important water storage and distribution projects are to the environment,” says Mr Guy.

“The current rules limit CIIL’s purpose to considering the long-term economic benefits from projects that it invests in, but it makes sense to broaden the scope given the wider benefits of these projects. It will now be able to provide concessionary loans to local authorities for projects that directly lead to environmental benefits.”

The change was originally requested by CIIL and has now been formally approved by Cabinet. . . 

Irrigation changes needed to deliver prosperous and resilient rural areas:

“The change to the constitution of Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) to allow it to fund water storage projects that directly lead to environmental benefits is a very positive step and should be extended to recognise resilience and social benefits as well,” says Infrastructure New Zealand’s Chief Executive Stephen Selwood.

“To date, existing rules guiding the government’s irrigation investment arm have placed a too narrow focus on direct economic benefits.

“This has resulted in disproportionate emphasis on maximising land use productivity and insufficient recognition of wider economic, social and environmental benefits. . . 

Agrichemical recovery scheme gains extended Government recognition:

A nationwide programme to recycle agricultural plastics and dispose of agrichemicals has had its status as a ‘product stewardship scheme’ extended by the Government, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today

Mr Simpson met with representatives of Agrecovery to formally reaccredit them for another seven years as a product stewardship scheme under the Waste Minimisation Act.

Agrecovery collects unwanted chemical drums and containers from agricultural brand owners throughout New Zealand. The scheme is widely supported by farmers, growers, local government and agrichemical and dairy hygiene companies. . . 

Bright Future for Sustainable Forestry in NZ

A young New Zealander Alfred Duval has been launched onto the world stage. Celebrated for his outstanding achievements as an emerging leader in sustainable forestry.

Duval was awarded the inaugural Prince of Wales Award for Sustainable Forestry in Rotorua on Tuesday 5th September at the NZ Institute of Forestry’s annual awards ceremony.

The new prize was set up earlier this year, to reward and encourage a young New Zealand forestry professional working in the vital area of sustainable forest management. Similar initiatives have been established in Australia and Canada. . . 

Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade investigates European tie-up – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group’s online auction platform GlobalDairyTrade is looking at a tie-up with the European Energy Exchange to extend the dairy offering available in the region.

The two operators have signed a letter of intent to investigate whether they should set up a joint venture establishing and operating an auction mechanism for dairy products originating in Europe, they said in a statement. The companies will talk to buyers and sellers about joint price discovery through an auction designed for Europe. . . 


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