Rural round-up

August 18, 2016

Trade access landscape increasingly crowded – Allan Barber:

At the same time as the TPP is struggling to get across the finish line before the next American President takes over early next year, there are several signs of access to the USA freeing up for some of New Zealand’s competitors.

The announcement of greatest significance concerns access for Brazilian beef after 17 years of negotiations which will be permitted to begin in September. Admittedly Brazilian plants must still gain accreditation before they can export to the USA and, when they do, their entitlement will be included in the ‘other country’ quota of 64,800 tonnes at the same preferential tariff of 4.4 cents per kilo as New Zealand for its 213,402 tonne quota. However, there is a possibility Brazil’s eagerness to export, combined with its weak currency, will encourage it to sell at the 26.4% general tariff rate. . . 

The pros and cons of PKE – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks, PKE has been in the spotlight.  The key reason for this has been the decision by Landcorp to phase out its use on the Landcorp farms. This has brought back into focus Fonterra’s 2015 recommendation to farmers to only use 3kg per cow per day. It has also given a platform for various other groups to promote their own perspectives.

Amongst the environmental groups, there are two polar perspectives. Greenpeace says we should stop using all PKE. However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that palm oil production is OK as long as it sustainable, and certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). . . 

A farming mum who loves helping others – Kate Taylor:

Regular visitors to the Facebook site, Farming Mums NZ, will be familiar with an online blogger whose zest for life seems never-ending. Kate Taylor reports.

There’s an element of irony about the name of Chanelle O’Sullivan’s daily blog, Just a Farmer’s Wife, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

She is, actually, a farmer’s wife, but is also a mother of two, qualified vet nurse, blogger, project manager, 2016 scholar on the Kellogg Rural Leadership Course, guest speaker, online business woman, long-distance runner and admin for several flourishing Facebook pages.

Chanelle lives at Waitohi in South Canterbury with husband Dave, who is working on a farm on Rockwood Rd. He grew up near Timaru and has a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University. . . 

Silver Fern Farms shareholders vote conclusively in favour – Allan Barber:

The long awaited special meeting finally took place this afternoon with the company’s desired outcome. 80.4% of shareholders voting voted in favour of the Shanghai Maling deal, a small reduction from the 82% that voted in favour last October.

At today’s meeting in Dunedin, as soon as the result was announced, it appears John Shrimpton who led the requisition group shook SFF chairman Rob Hewitt’s hand and agreed that democracy had had its say and the campaign was over. . . 

Clear vision for red meat sector in sight at last – Allan Barber:

After many years of relatively low levels of expenditure on market development and promotion, the red meat industry faces a major challenge in deciding how best to create the desired image to appeal to the world’s affluent consumers. Currently expenditure is divided between generic promotion, funded by farmer levies, and brand advertising by the meat exporters, with a small amount of joint funding in some of the less mature markets.

Delegates at the recent Red Meat Sector Conference heard about the importance of telling a believable and emotionally compelling story built on the heritage and healthy attributes of New Zealand and its farming sector. But they were also challenged to make sure this story is constructed on credible building blocks of environmentally sustainable farm, animal welfare and processing practices. . . 

New primary sector groups to support climate change goals:

Two new reference groups will help support New Zealand’s climate change goals and reduce emissions from the livestock and forestry sectors, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“As part of ratifying the Paris agreement on climate change, New Zealand has set a target of reducing our emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The primary sector will need to be an important part of that,” says Mr Guy.

“The Biological Emissions Reference Group will bring together a wide range of agricultural, horticultural and farming stakeholders to collaborate with Government and build a solid evidence base. This will ensure we have the best possible range of information on what can be done right now to reduce biological greenhouse emissions. . . 

Glass half-full for dairy after price lift – Alexa Cook:

Dairy farmers could finally have break-even milk prices this season, AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

This season’s forecast of $4.25kg/ms is the third season of prices below $5.

Most farmers need about $5kg/ms to cover their costs, which is about $US3000 a tonne for whole milk powder, the industry’s main export.

In the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction prices lifted by 12.7 percent and whole-milk powder surged 18.9 percent to $US2695 a tonne. . . 

Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launches today – Supermarket assures farmers their investment in free range and barn eggs will pay off:

Countdown has today launched an Egg Producer Programme to support free range and barn egg farmers to increase the supply available for Countdown stores and our customers.

The Egg Producer Programme provides farmers an opportunity to increase investment in free range and barn egg capacity, as Countdown will make a commitment to take future supply through individual partnership agreements.

Currently, just 18 per cent of eggs produced in New Zealand are free range. Countdown wants to put in place plans with farmers, to increase the availability of the free range and barn eggs.  . . 

Bill to streamline Food Safety passes first reading:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the Food Safety Law Reform Bill having passed its first reading in Parliament last night, with unanimous support.

The Bill is the final step in implementing the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Inquiry recommendations, in particular those which require legislative change.

“This Bill is an important part of putting the false Botulism scare behind us. It illustrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and suitability of food, which is vitally important for the health of consumers – both in New Zealand and overseas – and our international trade reputation,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Retirement of Fonterra Director:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Mr John Waller ONZM will be retiring as an Independent Director on the Fonterra Board with effect from 31 August 2016.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said that Mr Waller is retiring to reduce his workload after serving on the Fonterra Board since 2009. He chaired Fonterra’s Fair Value Share Review Committee, the Trading Among Farmers Due Diligence Committee and the Milk Price Panel, and was a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and the Risk Committee.

“John has been an outstanding director of our Co-operative and has made an invaluable contribution by combining his strong personal values, drive and leadership with commercial common-sense. I am pleased that after such a significant contribution John is finding the time to rebalance his commitments so that he can spend more time with his family and pursue his other interests. . . 


Rural round-up

August 15, 2016

Unreliable rain reduces sheep numbers – Kate Taylor:

The seasons are changing at Patoka Station and less reliable rainfall is affecting the way it’s farmed. Kate Taylor reports.

It looks green but the grass is much shorter than normal for late winter on Patoka Station in Hawke’s Bay.

That picture is about to change, though owners Ben and Suzie Crosse are unaware of it as they discuss their upcoming lambing, starting from August 31. A storm is approaching the central North Island and will dump 190mm of freezing-cold rain on the 1200ha farm.

The farm has monthly records going back to 1948 but the rainfall hasn’t been reliable lately, Ben says. . . 

Biggest year’ ever for avocado growers

With avocados back on the menu, New Zealand growers are gearing up for their best season ever.

That’s according to John Carroll, director of the country’s largest exporter Avoco, who says his firm expects to ship off about 3.2 million trays of the fruit in the coming months.

In total, 5.1 million trays, about 28,000 tonnes, are predicted to depart our shores, mainly bound for Australia and Asia. . . 

Forest industry’s challenge to manage supply fluctuations:

The pan forest and timber processing industry organisation, the New Zealand Wood Council (Woodco) says there is a supply challenge for many regions in the domestic processing industry.

Woodco Chair, Brian Stanley says timber processors are being hindered by a current lack of logs, especially in the higher grades.

He says small scale woodlot owners are being enticed into quick export contracts instead, where the buyers are not providing the domestic processors with an opportunity to purchase these logs. . . 

Deputy PM Bill English visits Blue River dairy factory – Dave Nicoll:

It was a bit surreal for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to see award winning cheeses named after places his mother grew up.

English made a special visit to the Blue River Dairy factory in Invercargill on Friday as part of a trip to the Southland region.

Blue River Dairy produced a number of award winning cheeses, and milk powder from sheep milk and has expanded into exporting sheep milk baby formula into China. . . 

Fonterra Announces New Palm Products Sourcing Standard:

Fonterra has adopted a new standard for sourcing of palm products as part of its commitment to sustainability.

The standard was developed in consultation with key supply partners, and it follows discussions with Greenpeace that began in December 2015 to strengthen Fonterra’s existing sustainable palm products sourcing procedures.

“The new standard requires us to purchase only segregated supply palm oil by 2018, and to work with suppliers of palm products to ensure that plans are in place for full traceability to plantation by 2018,” said Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility, Carolyn Mortland. . . 

Action to help farming productivity in Manawatu-Whanganui:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says $465,000 towards primary sector initiatives in the ‘Accelerate 25 Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan’ launched today will make a real difference to the region.

“Manawatū-Whanganui has the largest sheep flock and beef herds of any region in the country, and half of New Zealand’s lamb exports come from within two hours’ drive of Feilding. We need farming to do well to drive economic prosperity here,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking at Ross and Wendy Humphrey’s farm in Cheltenham, Mr Guy says much of the funding will be used for information sharing to lift productivity.   . . 

Report shows good results from flood recovery money:

A report on Government assistance to farmers following the June 2015 Taranaki-Horizons storm shows that good results were achieved, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“These storms had a major impact on the region and caused widespread damage, so it’s pleasing to see that Government funding has made a real difference,” says Mr Guy.

“The storm on 18-20 June 2015 brought widespread heavy rainfall, flooding and erosion to the Taranaki and Horizons regions. Hill sheep and beef farmers were particularly affected by flooding of river margins and damage to tracks and fences, with damage also to dairy land and young forest plantations.” . . 

Wools of New Zealand well set for end of grower-funding

Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) Chairman Mark Shadbolt says the company is making strong commercial progress with an expected maiden profit for the 2016 financial year.

Shadbolt was responding to a recent shareholder comment in a local rural newspaper that the company would “almost certainly fail” without income from farmers’ Wool Market Development Commitment (WMDC).

“To the contrary, WNZ is making investments that are reducing the company’s reliance on the WMDC.” . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2015/16 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2015/16 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and it is currently set by Fonterra at $3.90 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2015/16 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2016/17 price of $4.25 that Fonterra recently announced.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation each year at the end of the dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s calculation of the 2015/16 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2016

Kiwi world leader in precision farming – Nigel Malthus:

Mid-Canterbury farmer and businessman Craige Mackenzie was recently named the international Precision Farmer of the Year for 2016.

He is travelling to St Louis, Missouri, in early August to receive the award from the US-based PrecisionAg Institute. Nigel Malthus caught up with him before he left.

The award recognises “outstanding people, programmes and organisations making a difference in the precision ag industry”. It is a high honour for a man who was first invited to present a paper at an international conference in 2008 – but who did not then consider himself a precision farmer. . . 

$34-$35 Million FY16 reported earnings forecast for Synlait:

Synlait Milk’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $34 – $35 million.

Underlying NPAT for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $32 – $33 million.

Earnings guidance for the financial year ending 31 July 2016 (FY16) has been provided to clarify market expectations around FY16 performance.

“Our IPO growth projects added the capability and capacity to execute our strategy of making more from milk,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman. . . 

Collaborative group to improve nature protection:

A new collaborative group involving environmental and landowner organisations has come together to improve national policy on protecting nature on private land, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today at the Environmental Defence Society’s ‘Wild Places’ conference in Auckland.

“New Zealand is globally recognised as a hotspot environmentally for the loss of unique species. One of the most challenging issues for councils and communities is improving the protection of our native species on private land while respecting the reasonable rights of owners to use their land for farming, forestry and other economic activities. This initiative is about bringing environmental groups and landowners together to develop clearer national policy on protecting the plants and animals that make New Zealand special.” . . 

Feds welcome biodiversity forum:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new national biodiversity forum announced by Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference today.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for biodiversity Chris Allen says we now have the opportunity to come to a common understanding of the pressures and priorities for biodiversity, on land and in water.

“From here we chart a way forward. Part of this will be agreeing on a national policy statement. . . 

Threatened wildlife the winner if National Policy Statement on Biodiversity succeeds:

Forest & Bird is cautiously optimistic that the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will help New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, and streamline the process of protecting the environment.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced today that core stakeholders have been invited to meet over the next 18 months and collaboratively work on a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) is a statutory document that guides and directs the contents of regional and district plans. All regional and district plans must give effect to the policy. . . 

Entries open for the 2016 Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award:

Rural Women New Zealand is offering the Journalism Award in a partnership with the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

The Award recognises the important contribution women make in the rural community, either through their role in the farming sector or to the general rural environment.

The Award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities. The award recipient will demonstrate excellent understanding of issues and effectively communicate women’s responses to farming, family and business challenges, in a way which inspires and informs the audience. . . 

Changes to kiwifruit regulations:

The Government is updating kiwifruit regulations to ensure the industry is best structured for future growth, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“New amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations will allow Zespri shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and eligibility for dividend payments. 

“This will give Zespri more options for managing its shareholding available to any other company operating under the Companies Act, and will ensure that the interests of all shareholders are recognised in any decision affecting them. . . 

Zespri welcomes changes to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

Zespri welcomes the Government’s announcement that Cabinet has approved amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains these regulatory changes represent the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.

“The Kiwifruit Regulations have served the industry very well and extensive industry consultation showed more than 97 percent of growers support the industry structure, with minor changes identified to position the industry for the strong growth ahead. . . 

NZKGI welcomes amendments to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes today’s announcement by the Government to approve amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

These changes will ensure a regulatory structure that supports the sustainable, long-term growth of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry into the future.

The announcement today reflects considerable effort and investment by growers into ensuring the industry has the foundations to sustain its future in good and adverse times. . . 

Pahiatua Farmers Enjoy Participating In Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Wairarapa sheep and beef farmers Tim and Nicola Hewitt are proud of the environmental work on their family’s 724ha (640ha effective) property south of Pahiatua. While they were initially reluctant to enter the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they are glad they finally gave it a go.

“We didn’t want to be seen as blowing our own trumpet,” says Tim.

“But ultimately I think farmers have a responsibility to our industry to show that we are trying to do a good job when it comes to the environment.” . . 

New agri-food research centre in Palmerston North:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced that AgResearch and Massey University will jointly build New Zealand’s largest agri-food research centre in the Food HQ Precinct on the Massey University campus in Palmerston North.

As part of AgResearch’s Future Footprint Programme, AgResearch and Massey University are investing $39 million in the Food Science Research Centre and the design for the new buildings is well underway.

“The research conducted at the Centre will span the agriculture sector from farm to consumer, with a focus on dairy and red meat research,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

Association backs ‘thorough’ maunka honey verification – Alexa Cook:

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association says it can now classify what is genuine manuka honey, which it believes is a world first.

John Rawcliffe, from UMF Honey Association, said clarification around what constituted genuine manuka honey would help protect the brand and identify legitimate honey.

“Everyone who puts the word ‘manuka’ on a bottle is required to ensure that it is, so from any export honey the requirement is to show that you are labelling correctly that it is manuka.

“There have been question marks on how to go about it, and today under the UMF quality mark at least we can say ‘this is manuka’.” . . 

Rodent eradication lies in directed vitamin dose:

Rats die of a heart attack within 48 hours of being sprayed with a new chemical formulation invented by a New Zealand – United Kingdom joint venture.

The formula includes Cholecalciferol, better known as vitamin D3 and used as a health supplement in humans.

But Peter Signal, a director of New Zealand company Advanced Animal Technologies (AAT), says it’s the combination of the chemical formula with a specially designed delivery system, called PiedPiper, that has been shown to deliver outstanding results in trials in the UK, Europe and Kenya. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 1, 2016

Farmers check out challenges in Zambia – Sally Rae:

When Nelson Hancox returned home from a trip to Zambia and had to write a brief statement on what he had learnt, it was not a difficult task.

“I wrote, ‘New Zealand’s a great place to do business’,” the Tapanui sheep and beef farmer said.

Mr Hancox recently attended a Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class in Zambia, which attracted 20 farmers from throughout the world and from a diverse range of farming operations.

The week-long programme brought farmers from nine key food and agriculture-producing countries to observe the potential of the Zambian agricultural sector and to discuss the challenges facing local producers. . . 

New regulations on live animal export rules announced:

New rules that will give the Ministry for Primary Industries greater visibility of the welfare of animals being exported from New Zealand will come into force on 25 August 2016, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced today.

“New Zealanders care deeply about the welfare of animals, and this was reflected during the consultation process” says MPI’s Director Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Julie Collins.

“The changes that are being introduced in August will further strengthen New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible exporter of animals and animal products.

They will give early effect to amendments made last year to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 that would have otherwise commenced in May 2020. . . 

Farming initiative the first of its kind for Northland and NZ:

A brand new farming initiative – Extension 350 – is an innovative programme, the first of its kind for New Zealand. Designed to lift on farm performance through improving farm systems and profitability through shared knowledge.

The programme aims to have 350 Northland farms involved in four years and is modelled on having clusters of five farms working together with business advice and direction provided to a Target Farmer by an expert consultant, with that relationship encouraged by a Mentor Farmer. The expectation is that the Target Farmer similarly influences a group of Associated Farmers.

The pilot scheme which ran at Candy Farm in Okaihau from 2011 to 2014 saw local farmers Alister and Lyn Candy make management changes which have resulted in greater resilience and an increase in profits of around $180,000 per annum. . . 

Farmers cooperating to lift performance:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed an innovative programme lifting the performance of 350 Northland farmers through shared knowledge.

“The first year of the Extension 350 programme will see the start of two dairy clusters and one sheep and beef cluster. Each cluster consists of five top performing ‘mentor farmers’ extending their knowledge, advice and direction to a group of five target farmers,” says Mr Guy. 

“These target farmers then interact and influence a surrounding group of five associated farmers, extending the benefits of top performing farm practice from the original target farmer. The farm clusters are supported with farm consultants and other service providers. . . 

War on predators: capture collective wisdom, Trust says

Plant pests must also be a focus

Hawke’s Bay-based conservation group Forest Lifeforce Restoration (FLR) Trust has welcomed the Predator-Free by 2050 initiative announced by the government earlier this week. It says the target is achievable but that success will rely on collaboration and information-sharing on a scale not yet seen in New Zealand conservation circles and that few have dared dream was possible.

“Conservation in New Zealand can no longer be purely the preserve of government agencies,” said Trust Chairman Simon Hall. “The job’s too big, the battle’s too fierce. Landowners and the private sector all have a role to play.

“It’s crucial for the success of this initiative, though, that Predator Free New Zealand Limited is able to harness not just the collective will, but also the expertise developed from decades of trial and error that exists in pockets right across the country.” . . 

Predator Free community fund to boost local conservation efforts:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has today welcomed the efforts of a young Taranaki conservationist which will contribute to making New Zealand predator free by 2050.

Ms Barry met with 8 year-old Monte Woodward while visiting New Plymouth on Saturday.

“Monte is to be congratulated. He has worked hard to raise money by running sausage sizzles and washing cars to purchase two traps which will help protect some of our most vulnerable native wildlife from rats, stoats and possums.” Ms Barry says. . . 

Briefing Paper: Mt Pisa, Doc & the Hunting Issue
A tragedy waiting to happen:

Earlier this year, historic Mt Pisa Station closed public access gates that run through its property to the adjacent DOC-managed conservation estate.

It was an action taken by the principals of Mt Pisa – Murray, Jacky and Shane MacMillan – for the purpose of safeguarding unsuspecting recreational users from potential danger and death.

The adjacent Pisa Conservation Area is managed by the Department of Conservation and allows uncontrolled access onto its estate for recreational trampers, trail-bikers … and hunters.

At no stage does it warn recreational trampers, hikers and bikers that armed hunters may be sharing their space. . . 

$30 million cash injection from Ballance rebate:

Results at a glance
Total distribution to shareholders of $30 million ($76 million last year)
Rebate payment of $25 per tonne ($55.83 last year)
Total revenue of $837 million ($893 million last year)
Gross trading result of $35 million ($81 million last year)
Total sales volumes of 1.62 million tonnes (1.75 million last year)
Equity ratio of 81% (80.4% last year)

Farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients is distributing a total of $30 million to farmers this week, returning 87 percent of its 2015/16 $35 million gross trading result to shareholders. . . 

Sustainable Farming Fund open for applications:

The 2017/18 funding round for MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) opens today.

“We welcome any groups keen to tackle a shared problem or develop a new opportunity related to the primary industries to apply for the fund,” says Investment Programmes Director Justine Gilliland.

“SFF supports farmers and researchers involved at grass-roots level and each year we receive a very high calibre of project applications.” . . 

Fonterra & LIC Investigating Tech Solution to Improve Farm Performance:

Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are teaming up to develop a new online technology solution designed to provide farmers with a view of their operation in one place.

The two farmer-owned Co-operatives are combining resources, knowledge and expertise to look at the best way to bring together a farmer’s milk production and quality data, herd data, pasture data, local weather forecasts and more into one easy-to-use online portal.

Farmers will be able to see their private individual farm information in one place, allowing them to make faster and easier decisions about their farming operation. . . 


Rural round-up

July 27, 2016

New rules for bobby calves confirmed:

New regulations to strengthen the law around the treatment of bobby calves have been officially gazetted today and most will be in place for the 1 August Spring calving season, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“As signalled earlier this year, these regulations have now been confirmed by Cabinet. They are an important step in protecting animals and New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible producer,” says Mr Guy.

“They set clear standards and include a wider set of compliance tools including the ability to issue infringement notices for lower level offending, and broader prosecutable offences. . . 

Ministry for Primary Industries's photo.

Time of the gentle greys is coming – Andrea Fox:

Pulling up to Paradise Valley Murray Grey Stud is a shot in the arm for jaded winter farming spirits and perhaps, the breed’s future, writes Andrea Fox.

It’s the middle of winter in the misty, chill hills on the way to Kawhia but you’d never know it looking at Micheal Phillips’ murray greys.

They’re looking a million bucks. Seal fat and well-content – from autumn calves up to the strapping big sire bulls. A sight for sore eyes compared to some livestock doing harder time in this western corner of the Waikato.

Shirt-clad Phillips, like his cattle apparently impervious to winter, farms a registered murray grey stud herd and a commercial herd on 250 hectares in the Honikiwi district, along with 150 non-murray grey heifers bought as weaners and destined for the prime meat and store markets, and 600 romney and coopworth ewes. . . 

Ewe pregnancies back as facial eczema takes its toll – Jill Galloway:

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers are facing fewer lambs than expected as facial eczema takes its toll on ewes.

Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei Meat & Fibre chairman, Richard Morrison said scanning was back about 10 per cent and ewes were carrying fewer lambs.

“And dry rates [ewes not in lamb] varied a lot across the regions.  We had 2 per cent, but some people were probably as high as 20 per cent.” . . 

Biosecurity 2025 discussion document released:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has launched the Biosecurity 2025 discussion document today, seeking public feedback on a long term direction for the biosecurity system.

“New Zealand has a world leading biosecurity system, but the challenges and opportunities we face are changing rapidly. The time is right to identify the changes and improvements that will be needed to maintain a resilient biosecurity system over the next 10 years,” says Mr Guy.

“The primary sector is a significant part of New Zealand’s economy, making up around half of all our exports. We need to protect our producers from unwanted pests and diseases, which is why biosecurity has always been my number one priority as Minister. . . 

Ministry for Primary Industries's photo.

Local dairy farms struggle to find staff, blame pot – Will Houston:

Several Humboldt County dairy farmers say they are facing a widespread shortage of employees due to restrictive immigration control as well as being outcompeted by the cannabis cultivation industry.

As result, some dairy farms may have to sell some of their cows or even close down their farms as their daily workload mounts, according to Western United Dairymen trade association’s Melissa Lema. Others say they will just have to grit their teeth and try to make up for the extra work as best they can.

“I’ve had a dairy producer tell me that it was the worst three months he has had than he has had in 45 years in the business,” said Lema, who is the trade association’s North Coast representative and represents 63 dairy farms in Humboldt County. . . 

Morning Frosts a Change From Tropical Conditions for Fonterra Visitors:

Getting up early on a foggy frosty Waikato morning for calving is quite a change for the nine Indonesian farmers in New Zealand this winter with Fonterra’s Dairy Development programme.

These farmers who would normally work in hot and humid 31 degree temperatures, are now rugged up to spend four weeks in New Zealand as part of their 12 week scholarship programme with Fonterra.

Fonterra’s Dairy Development programme teaches farmers in developing countries animal care best practice, and other key skills to improve on-farm efficiencies that produce higher volumes of better quality milk.

Joining the farmers in the programme are three Indonesian Government dairy extension officers and two Fonterra Sri Lankan supplier relationship officers. . . 


NZ predator free by 2050

July 26, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced the government’s goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

“While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators,” Mr Key says.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them.”

Mr Key says these introduced pests also threaten our economy and primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year.

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

The Government will lead the effort, by investing an initial $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.

This funding is on top of the $60 to $80 million already invested in pest control by the government every year and the millions more contributed by local government and the private sector.

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success.

The Government will look to provide funding on a one for two basis – that is for every $2 that local councils and the private sector put in, the Government will contribute another dollar.

“This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment.

“We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.

“This includes the decision to establish the world’s largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.

“We know the goal we have announced today is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand.

“And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”

This is a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is right when she says it will take a team effort to achieve it.

“New Zealand’s unique native creatures and plants are central to our national identity. They evolved for millions of years in a world without mammals and as a result are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, which kill around 25 million native birds every year,” Ms Barry says. 

“Now is the time for a concerted long-term nationwide effort to rid ourselves of the introduced rats, stoats and possums that have placed so much of our natural heritage in jeopardy.”

Under the strategy the new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says. 

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says. “The Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge. For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding. 

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been suppressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

“These are ambitious targets in themselves, but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together,” Ms Barry says. 

“New Zealanders have rightly taken great pride in our conservation efforts to date. If we harness the strength of everyone who is keen to be involved in this project, I believe we will achieve the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 and make our landscape a safe haven again for our native taonga species.”

 

Predator free in 34 years is a BHAG but Forest and Bird says it’s possible:

“A country free of predators would allow forests, towns and cities to fill with native bird life such as kiwi, kākāriki (parakeets), pīwakawaka (fantails), tīeke (saddleback), kōkako, and kākā. Other species like tuatara, hihi (stichbirds), toutouwai (robins), insects, and native snails would repopulate forests and other wild places,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The objective of a predator free country is one that many environmental groups, large and small, have been tirelessly working towards for a long time. However, Forest & Bird intends to look very closely at the detail of how the Government is planning to roll out their vision. For example, if the proposed Predator Free NZ Ltd. company is set up to deliver this programme, what will the role of the Department of Conservation be?”

“Reversing centuries of misguided predator releases and their ongoing devastating effect on our native species and habitats will take commitment, investment, and collaboration, but is entirely achievable by 2050, with the right resources, experts, and framework in place,” says Mr Hackwell. 

“A predator free country will also be of huge value to public health and our agriculture industries which currently spend many millions every year combating waste, contamination, and disease due to pests like rats and possums.”

We spent five days sailing round the Fiordland coast last year, landing occasionally to see native bush much as it would have been when Captain Cook first saw it in 1773. He would have been greeted by bird song but the bush through which we walked was almost silent.

Human and animal predators decimated the bird population and in too many places pests are still winning the battle against the birds.

The Department of Conservation is making a concerted effort to eradicate pests and re-establish species like the kakapo.

That’s not easy on islands and it is even more difficult on the mainland with possums, stoats, ferrets and rats breeding freely and preying on eggs and young birds.

Predator-free fences around bush have been established in several places but the Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 strategy recognises a lot more needs to be done.

It also needs to be done carefully with regard to the whole food chain. Rats prey on mice which prey on birds’ eggs. Eliminating rats would not be enough if that allowed the mouse population to explode.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of work but it will be worth it if it results in burgeoning bird populations with better public and animal health as a bonus from the eradication of pests which wreak havoc on native flora and fauna, and carry diseases.


Rural round-up

July 13, 2016

Waikato farmer spearheads wireless farming for the future of dairying – Gerald Piddock:

Tony Walters is farming’s ambassador of technology, writes Gerald Piddock.

Dairy farmers could soon be using wireless technology as proof that they are operating an environmentally sustainable operation.

The wireless connection could help sell the New Zealand story to overseas customers resulting in better prices for their products in the market. For farmers, that would mean they get paid better for their milk. 

Tony Walters is convinced the day will come soon when this works and is piloting the technology on his 95 hectare dairy farm at Waiuku in North Waikato. . .

Dairy – It’s Not Rocket Science. Or is It? Innovation the key to shaping the global dairy sector:

Using charged iron to capture tiny particles worth hundreds of dollars a kilo, creating technology to speed up nature more than 300 fold and real-time composition analysis with the potential to revolutionise a multi-billion dollar industry.

These may sound like scenarios borne out of a NASA testing facility, but in fact these space-age innovations have origins right here in New Zealand – part of Fonterra’s asset optimisation programme that’s helped position the Co-operative as a global leader in dairy R&D.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Global Operations Robert Spurway says R&D is one of the most important factors shaping the dairy industry today, particularly when it comes to selling our capabilities with new and existing customers around the world. . . 

NZ groundspreaders celebrate 60 years of helping farmers:

Nearly 200 groundspreaders from across the country will, next week, gather in Nelson for the 60th Annual Conference of long-standing trade organisation – the New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers’ Association (NZGFA).

Conference attendees – ground spreaders, suppliers, trainers, auditors and testers – will hear from key speakers including Hon. Damien O’Connor (West Coast MP and Labour’s Spokesperson for Primary Industries), Mark Wynne, CEO of Ballance Agri- Nutrients, Mike Whitty, General Manager Marketing of Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative and Nelson forestry contractor and health and safety pioneer, Dale Ewers.

“Health and safety and accident prevention are high on our agenda this year,” explains Brent Scully, NZGFA President. “Fertiliser spreading is a demanding job involving heavy plant, complex equipment and often steep terrain. Machine operators and spreader drivers undergo intense training; however, errors do occur and accidents do happen. We want to do everything we can to minimise risk for the men and women in this industry.” . .

New fisheries decisions bring closures and increases:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has decided for sustainability reasons to close part of the Southern Scallop Fishery (SCA7), which covers the top and northwest coast of the South Island, for the coming season.

The measures will prohibit commercial and recreational fishing for scallops in all of the Marlborough Sounds and part of Eastern Tasman Bay for the coming season, ending on 14 February 2017.

“This decision follows the latest scientific survey in 2015 which shows a continued and significant decline in the fishery, despite commercial catch reductions over the past three seasons,” says Mr Guy

“The strong message from the scientific evidence, as well as public submissions is the need to take the next step and close parts of the fishery to let it recover. . . 

Turn your best bull calf into cash:

Dairy farmers in the thick of calving are being offered thousands of dollars for their best bull calves by CRV Ambreed.

The company is offering farmers who breed the best bull calves $4,000 if their bull calves are selected for the CRV Progeny Test program. That $4,000 could turn into $11,000 from graduation payments or more if royalty options are taken.

CRV Breeding Program Manager Aaron Parker said with calving now underway, a lucrative source of extra income could be dropping in farm paddocks across the country right now.

As well as being welcome income for dairy farmers, delivering their best bulls to CRV Ambreed will contribute to genetic diversity, and thus advancement, across the national herd. . . 

South Islander quacks his way to US world champs – Brooke Hobson:

Luggate local Hunter Morrow has quacked his way to the US for the world championships in duck calling after taking out the national competition in Tauranga.

More than 20 duck callers from around New Zealand took part in the quack-off on Saturday, where they had 60 seconds to blow a greeting, pleading and feed call – plus a lonesome hen call.

Mr Morrow, a building apprentice, came 5th in the world champs last year.

Fish & Game says he told reporters duck calling had been a “weird obsession” since he was a young boy. . .

Marlborough Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker 2016 Announced:

Congratulations to Jordan Hogg from Seresin for winning Marlborough Young Winemaker 2016. The competition took place on 8 July at MRC in Blenheim where six contestants spent the day battling it out across various activities. Hogg scored very strongly across the board showing a great degree of knowledge and professionalism.

Congratulations also goes to Matt Fox from Hyland Viticulture who placed second and Shelley Young from Delegat who came third. . .

Massive New Plymouth store to benefit farmers:

Farmers of the Central and Western North Island are to benefit from a $30 million Ravensdown investment in a new fertiliser storage and blending facility in New Plymouth.

The 14,000 square metre facility adjacent to Ravensdown’s existing store will allow better customer service and better environmental performance according to the farmer-owned co-operative.

“The agri-sector in the Taranaki is feeling the pinch and service towns like New Plymouth are seeing the impact. This investment has spin-off benefits for local contractors and shows Ravensdown’s commitment to the community and to its North Island customers,” said Mike Davey, Regional Manager. . .


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