Rural round-up

March 18, 2020

Be quick for worker visas :

Dairy farmers relying on migrant labour for the new milking season should get their visa paperwork in early because of expected delays caused by coronavirus.

The disease continues to spread around the globe. In the Philippines, which the dairy industry relies on as a pool of labour, there were 33 confirmed cases the past week with president Rodrigo Duterte declaring a public health emergency on March 10.

Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis said while he appreciates it is an evolving issue, delays in processing visas have big implications for the workers’ families as well as the wider dairy industry heading into calving in July and August. . .

National Fieldays won’t be going ahead in June – Business Desk and Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand’s National Fieldays – billed as the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere – won’t be going ahead in June due to the covid-19 outbreak.

“As this is an unprecedented environment we request the time between now and March 31 to present our loyal and longstanding exhibitors and stakeholders with potential options for preserving this event,” Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation said in an email to stakeholders. . .

‘Mystical product’ casts a spell on Wine Master to be – Tracy Neal:

A Marlborough wine maker is about to become one of only a few hundred Masters of Wine in the world, and one of a handful in New Zealand.

Sophie Parker-Thomson, who is general manager of Blank Canvas Wines she co-owns with her husband Matt Thomson, has the finish line in sight on years of intensive study.

She is now just a few ticks away from joining a league of people fewer in number than have qualified to go into space. . .

Marlborough winery aiming to be herbicide-free by 2025 :

The technical director of a major Marlborough winery says the tide is turning on the use of herbicides in European viticulture and agriculture.

Jim White of Cloudy Bay Wines said the movement was not as strident here in New Zealand, but it was coming, and they wanted to be ahead of the game.

The company is now running trials in its aim to be herbicide-free by 2025, after Winepress reported its parent company Moet Hennessy said its Champagne would have no herbicide by the end of the year. . . 

2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners have found success through their ability to look at the ‘big picture’ and aim to be the employer of choice in the Hauraki district.

Brendan and Tessa Hopson were named the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Karaka Pavilion on Thursday night and won $11,470 in prizes and six merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Daniel Colgan, and the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Crystal Scown. . .

Winners of 2020 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards use past experiences to move forward:

The 2020 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners believe the strength of their fourth-generation pure Jersey herd is their biggest asset and believe it will create further value to their business in the coming years.

Simon and Natasha Wilkes were named the 2020 Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the TSB Hub in Hawera on Saturday night and won $11,746 in prizes and three merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year Branden Darlow, and the 2020 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Sam Dodd. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

June 12, 2019

Dairy law changes spur dissent – Sally Rae:

Changes to dairy industry legislation will bring some improvements to the sector but also represent “a missed opportunity”, both Fonterra and Federated Farmers say.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday announced changes to be made to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) and the Dairy Industry Restructuring Raw Milk Regulations 2012.

The changes include allowing Fonterra to refuse milk supply from new conversions and from farmers who did not comply with its supply standards. . . 

Crush protection for quad bikes very worthwhile option – Feds:

Federated Farmers is on board with WorkSafe’s decision to “strongly recommend” installation of a crush protection device (CPD) on quad bikes used for work purposes.

“We support WorkSafe’s policy clarification.  For some time Federated Farmers has been saying CPDs, or roll over protection as it used to be called, can be a very useful injury prevention option in many – but not all – farm settings,” Feds President Katie Milne says.

“There is still some debate about CPDs, including from quad bike manufacturers who say they are unsafe, and those who say the device itself can cause injury in some circumstances.  But like WorkSafe, Federated Farmers believes there is now enough evidence from credible sources to say that farmers should at least be considering Crush Protection Devices. . . 

Forest awards apprentices of the year a chip of the old block – Sally Rae:

Paige Harland was born to be in the bush.

Miss Harland (21) comes from a Southland family who have sap in their blood over three generations.

Named apprentice of the year at the recent 2019 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards, she works for Harland Brothers Logging.

The business was established by her grandfather and great-uncle, later taken over by her uncle Peter and is now run by her cousins Jesse and Corrie Harland. . . 

Deer farmers set example:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter have won the premier Elworthy Award in the deer industry’s 2019 environmental awards.

The Potters were praised by the award judges for their work in enhancing the environmental performance of their property.

They have owned the 640ha Waipapa Station for 20 years.

A bush clad gully on their Elsthorpe farm is a highly visible and attractive aspect of the Potters’ contribution. . . 

 

Decision to not front Lumsden meeting ’embarrassing’, MP says:

The Ministry of Health and Southern District Health Board decision not to meet with Southland midwives today has been described as a slap in the face.

The meeting was called to help midwives practice safely in the area after the former Lumsden Maternity Centre was downgraded.

It was cancelled after both organisations decided not to front up to midwives this afternoon.

National’s Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said it was embarrassing that neither were prepared to meet with midwives for the good of the rural communities. . . 

Meet the midwives at Fieldays:

For this first time this year, midwives will have a stand at Fieldays at Mystery Creek in Hamilton.

Midwives play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of rural communities throughout New Zealand and the thousands of people who flock to the country’s premier agricultural show, will have an opportunity find out more about their work.

Out of New Zealand’s total population of 4.8 million, approximately 576,000* people live in rural areas. Around 55,000 women give birth annually in New Zealand; nearly a third of whom live in rural areas. . . 


It’s Fieldays’ week

June 12, 2019

The National Fieldays (and it is Fieldays not Field Days) officially open today.

We were there last year – met a lot of people we knew, got lots of invitations to eat and drink, only a few of which we accepted and got lots of invitations to buy, none of which we accepted.

We won’t be there this year but lots of other people are including:

and if you’re in need of some entertainment, there’s always the Rural Catch competition.


Rural round-up

May 29, 2019

Roadside birth: it could have been much worse – Tim Miller:

The Southland mother who gave birth to her son on the side of the road yesterday morning says the situation could have been much worse.

As a result of her experience with the newborn, Amanda McIvor will now join the campaign to improve maternity services in the South.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has also written to the Prime Minister this morning, asking her to reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Hospital.

Early yesterday, Ms McIvor knew she was in labour so called her midwife, Sarah Stokes, who advised her and partner Gordon Cowie to drive to Lumsden from their home between Mossburn and Te Anau for an assessment. . . 

Multi-million dollar cherry venture – Pam Jones:

Mt Pisa Station has been named as the location for the latest multimillion-dollar cherry venture in Central Otago.

Station manager Shane MacMillan said the family’s sheep and beef business would invest in the $15.5million project, which would result in 80ha of the station’s land being planted out in premium quality cherries for export from 2021-22.

It is one of three projects to be led by cherry investment firm Hortinvest in Central Otago in the past two years.

Another development – also worth $15.5million, and also on 80ha of land – is planned for Lindis Peaks Station and will be called the Lindis River development. . .

Drafting cows easy as :

Being environmentally friendly while farming happy and healthy cows and achieving a high in-calf rate were the three main drivers for Jonathan Power’s decision to install an autodrafter at his shed.

Power milks 530 Friesian-cross on 143 hectares at Lismore, Mid Canterbury. 

When he took over the property as the sharemilker five seasons ago the 40-aside herringbone was completely refitted with new plant. His earlier experience in an 80-bail rotary with a competitor’s drafting gate meant he already knew the value of autodrafting. . .

Fieldays: a food and fibre vision :

It’s an extraordinary time to be a farmer in New Zealand. On the one hand returns have been strong across most sectors and the demand outlook continues to look good for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, there is deep concern across the sector that farmers are not receiving credit for the hard work being done in the environmental sustainability space and, perhaps more concerning, we are being asked to shoulder an unfair share of the burden of addressing climate change. Primary Sector Council chairman Lain Jager explains.

It is in this context the Primary Sector Council set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April last year has been talking to farming groups around the country about what a vision for the future might look like. . .

What caused the abandonment of New Zealand’s freezing works – John Summers:

This story was originally published by North & South and is republished with permission.

OPINION: John Summers wonders if his abiding interest in New Zealand’s abandoned freezing works is actually a long farewell to his grandfather.

One summer, we drove north-east, beyond Gisborne to the quiet bays on that coast: Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay. Towns where sand settles between the stones in the asphalt and, walking down the street, you’re as likely to be passed by a kid on a horse as by a car.

There was a campground we planned to stay at, but it was a treeless field. No toilets, no kitchen. “We’re pretty relaxed around here,” the owner said, but we weren’t, so drove on to another. After pitching the tent, we walked to the end of the bay and onto a dilapidated wharf to look out at the empty sea – no ship had docked here for decades. . . 

Passion for merino ewes drives ambition – Stephen Burns:

“I’m truly fascinated by the Merino,” was Ross Walters’ comment after his flock of Bindaree-blood May-shorn maiden ewes had been awarded the Monaro Livestock and Property Trophy for Overall winner of the 90thBerridale Maiden Merino ewe competition.

“They live and perform under various conditions, but can still make a good return,” he said.

“The Monaro is some of the toughest country in Australia, if not the world, yet the Merino ewe is very productive with high lambing percentages and heavy wool cuts.” . . .


Rural round-up

June 14, 2016

Old meets new on China’s farms – Sally Rae:

The vast region of Inner Mongolia is an important agricultural producer in China. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae pays a visit.

The sight of an elegantly dressed woman, complete with red high heels, unloading sheep at a saleyards in Inner Mongolia is a little unusual.

But it is China after all.

Expect the unexpected.

Having spotted a small truck carrying a load of sheep, a detour proves enlightening for a group of Silver Fern Farm shareholders as the truck is destined for a sheep-trading centre in Wuchuan county, surrounding the capital city of Hohhot. . . 

Fieldays 2016: Govt looks to entice young people into farming Samantha Hayes:

The annual Fieldays farming extravaganza kicks off on Wednesday in Hamilton, bringing together farmers and 1008 exhibitors.

More than 120,000 people are expected through the farm gates at Mystery Creek between Wednesday and Saturday, but with falling dairy prices over the past two seasons will it be the money-go-round of previous years?

Around $1 million was withdrawn from ATMs on site last year. The trade show contributed $396 million to New Zealand’s economy, with Waikato’s slice of the pie totalling $132 million. . . 

Results of Fonterra shareholder voting at special meeting:

Fonterra’s Board and Shareholders’ Council will consider adjustments to the recommendations on the Co-operative’s governance and representation model with a view to bringing a revised proposal back to farmer shareholders before the end of the year.

This follows today’s Special Meeting where farmer shareholders did not pass a resolution regarding changes to Fonterra’s Constitution and Shareholders’ Council By-laws. 63.74 per cent of votes cast were in favour of the changes but under Fonterra’s Constitution 75 per cent support was required for the changes to be accepted. . . 

Back to the drawing board for Fonterra governance – Keith Woodford:

The key message from this month’s failed governance restructure vote is that Fonterra’s directors and the Shareholders’ Council must go back to the drawing board. Farmers do want change, but nothing can happen without 75% support from voting members.  So where to from here?

 Calculated over the total membership, approximately 37% of the voting electorate said ‘yes’ to the proposals, 21% said ‘no’, and 42% sat on the sidelines. Those 42% on the sidelines were either confused, disenchanted, or distracted by other events.

It is hard to believe that any of Fonterra’s farmers could consider themselves to be disinterested. This is because, unlike most investors who have diversified holdings across many companies, Fonterra’s farmers are totally dependent on Fonterra.   It is a very special relationship. . . 

Govt mulling options after velvetleaf outbreak:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says he had “strong words” with his Italian counterpart after seeds imported from Italy led to a potentially costly outbreak of velvetleaf.

Labour has called for the company behind the beet seed importation to be prosecuted, but MPI is still considering its options.

The contaminated seed has been sown on more than 250 properties from Southland to Waikato, and is linked to beet seeds imported from Italy. . . 

Horticulture Supports Primary Sector Skills Funding:

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes a new pilot programme which aims to encourage tertiary education providers to work more closely with primary industry.

The new programme will introduce a competitive process to the allocation of the $35 million annually spent on tuition for study in tertiary level primary sector qualifications.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced the new approach saying it would increase the tertiary sector’s responsiveness to industry education and training needs. . . 

ViBERi – NZ’s own organic blackcurrants – Just A Farmer’s Wife:

This week I was introduced to a fantastic, locally grown, superfood that is produced organically,  just 15 minutes from my door step – Organic Blackcurrants by ViBERi, Owned by Tony and Afsaneh Howey.

The packaging has caught my eye many times on supermarket shelving, local cafes and health food stores. As I knew little about them I never took it any further but made a note in my blog diary to look into them. In a strange twist of fate, just one week later I bump into Afsaneh, at Strawberry Divine (The local ice cream shop). Had a quick chat and got handed her card and flier with an offer to stop by!

Of course I cannot resist and here I am! Afsaneh was fantastic and took me for a look around the pristine facility and popped my head through the door of the sorting and packaging room where the overwhelming smell of sweet berries and even sweeter chocolate hit me like a freight train. (If they could bottle that smell I would buy it!). . . .


Rural round-up

July 11, 2015

Toughest farming conditions fro more than 25 years – Tim Fulton:

The micro-climate at Tim and Katie Wilding’s farm at Conway Flat in Canterbury is balmy enough for a crop of garden macadamias but the couple haven’t seen dry conditions like this since the 1980s.

All the natural springs “on the hill” have dried up. That’s never happened before, lifelong resident Tim says.

 Last summer had lifted soil temperatures to about 50 degrees Celsius. It killed a block of hopeful young grass with barely a fight.

The family runs one of New Zealand’s largest beef cattle studs, Te Mania. Their place is a narrow strip between North Canterbury and Kaikoura that usually gets plenty of rain and sun. hence the macadamias. The Wildings have been in full charge of the herd since 1982. . .

Farm worked by same family for 171 years:

A Nelson farm owned by the same family for 171 years is still going strong – and that’s despite the slump in dairy prices.

The Raine family have owned Oaklands farm since 1844 and began milking cows there in the 1930s, but they reckon weather and urban growth are bigger threats to its future. They have become the oldest family in New Zealand to receive a Century Farms Award, which recognises families who have worked the same land for a century or more.

The farm is now run by Richard’s eldest son Julian Raine and his wife Cathy, who live on a neighbouring house on the property. The farm currently milks 200 cows year-round and is run as part of an integrated farm business alongside other farms and horticultural interests in the Nelson region. . .

Most dairy farmers will run at loss this season:

The national dairy industry body says at current forecast milk prices, in Fonterra’s case $5.25 a kilo, most dairy farms will run at a loss this season.

To help them survive that, DairyNZ is providing a new service that they can tap into.

Farmers can go on-line and check out detailed budgeting information from top performing farms, which have pared back their production costs to below $3.50 a kilo of milk solids.

DairyNZ’s research and development head, David McCall, says as things stand the average dairy farmer will lose $150,000 to $200,000 this season if they don’t make changes. . .

West Coast wetlands protected by Nature Heritage Fund:

A significant wetland on the West Coast home to rare birds and plants will be preserved for the public thanks to the Nature Heritage Fund, Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner says.

“The Nature Heritage Fund has purchased 56 hectares of land in Okuru, South Westland to become part of the conservation estate. This land is a great example of open pakihi, a type of wetland characterised by low soil fertility,” Ms Wagner says.

“The pakihi provides a perfect home for the declining South Island fernbird and supports several types of native plants, including sun orchids, carnivorous sundews and bladderworts. . .

US market offers huge potential for New Zealand wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc:

New Zealand wine exports to the United States are growing faster than to our traditional international markets of Australia and the UK, and that pace is being matched by increasing recognition at the top competitions.

In the five years from 2010-2015, exports of Kiwi wines increased three times faster than the UK and Australia. For the 12 months ended April 2015, New Zealand exported 5.88 million cases of wine to the US – up three million since 2010. During that period, exports to Australia increased to 6.4 million (4.8 million five years ago), and in the UK to 6.3 million (4.7 million). . .

 

New possibilities for NZ urea production:

Tenders have been called for a possible redevelopment of Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ ammonia-urea plant at Kapuni in Taranaki.

The only plant of its kind in New Zealand, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the call follows a year-long feasibility study including discussions with international specialists in converting gas to fertiliser.

“This has given us confidence to make the next move and ask global experts to scope and cost a re-development. . .

 

Success at Fieldays means boost for Kiwi economy:

With the success of James & Wells’ clients at this year’s and previous Fieldays, there’s no denying that agriculture is still a huge part of New Zealand’s economy.

But it’s not necessarily agriculture as we used to consider it – traditionally farming, machinery and fruit growing – but innovation in agriculture that is allowing wealth to be created from ideas.

In the 27 years James & Wells have been involved with Fieldays, we’ve seen plenty of innovative agricultural ideas, and having our roots in the Waikato since the 1970s, we know a good one when we see it.  . .

 


‘Choice’ between sustainability and prosperity false dichotomy

June 12, 2015

The ‘choice’ between sustainability and prosperity is a false dichotomy, Treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said in a speech at the Fieldays.

There is a lot more in the speech, entitled Making Informed Decisions about our Natural Resources, which I am reproducing in full:

Hello, it’s a pleasure to be here with so many people who help our primary sector to thrive.

We live in a remarkable country, one that’s rich in natural beauty and wealthy in natural resources. New Zealand has plentiful, fresh water; clean air; fertile soil and a climate well-suited to growing things. We have long coastlines and significant aquaculture resources; sizeable mineral and petroleum reserves; and extraordinary bio-diversity.

 The World Bank estimates that New Zealand ranks eighth out of 120 countries and second out of the 34 OECD countries in natural capital per capita, which helps explain why three-quarters of our merchandise exports are from the primary sector. While primary sector exports may have dipped over the past year, steady growth is expected in the four years ahead.

Of course a big part of those exports come from the dairy industry, and I know there’s concern about the direction dairy prices have been heading recently. The Treasury’s base forecast in last month’s Budget is for dairy prices to recover towards the long-term levels forecast by the OECD-FAO of around US$3,900 per metric ton towards the end of 2016 as supply and demand become more balanced. But like dairy farmers everywhere in New Zealand the Treasury is closely watching the fortnightly auctions and monitoring developments.

We are fortunate to make our living off the land in a land worth living in. But we cannot be complacent if we want things to stay that way. We’re not pristine, and we can do better. New Zealanders have to make well-informed choices about how we conserve, use and manage our natural resources for the greatest overall benefit to society now and into the future.

Today I want to talk about choice.

I want to challenge some false ‘choices’; expose a few choices that we are denied by the systems we have created; and highlight the fact that more informed public debate can deliver us a system with more choice in it.

For a long time discussions over natural resources have been dominated by false dichotomies.

A key example is the supposed ‘choice’ between sustainability and prosperity. It’s nonsense to believe you have to pick one or the other and can’t achieve both.

A more prosperous economy creates higher incomes and jobs for New Zealanders. Higher incomes are linked to better outcomes across a range of economic, social, and indeed environmental measures that matter for living standards. And the Treasury knows that economic performance is not just about prosperity today; it’s also about prosperity tomorrow and the future prosperity of our children. Sustainable growth depends upon good management of our environment and natural resources, and the productivity with which we use these resources. 

Sustainability and prosperity are interconnected in the Treasury’s wider view of wellbeing and are encapsulated in our Living Standards Framework.

This identifies five ‘dimensions’ which we seek to advance when developing policy: sustainability; equity; social infrastructure; risk management; and of course economic growth. When wellbeing is understood in this broader sense, the assumption that there’s immutable conflict between prosperity and sustainability just doesn’t stack up.

Norway is a good example of a country that has grown wealthy from its natural resources – in its case oil and gas – while playing a pioneering role in environmental protection and sustainable development. As the OECD notes, the Norwegians have simplified their regulatory procedures related to environmental permits and reduced the administrative burdens people face.  Enforcement is risk based and better targeted.

Closer to home, many Māori-led businesses are demonstrating how prosperity and sustainability work together by embracing the concept of kaitiakitanga. They take a very long-term view and manage their assets in a way that meets their aspirations for people, the land, rivers and the sea. Last year a group from the Treasury visited Parininihi ki Waitotara or PKW, a company based in Taranaki who run a number of businesses in the primary sector. PKW are combining successful dairy farming with sustainable practices: protecting waterways, carefully managing nutrients, and even using solar energy to power their cowsheds.   

The falseness of the ‘choice’ between prosperity and sustainability is being shown up not just by countries and companies, but by consumers too.

The premium on ethical, sustainably produced, healthy goods continues to rise. Interest in working practices and supply chains means that companies have to be able to clearly demonstrate their sustainability credentials.

It’s also clear that productivity and sustainability are converging in ways not seen before.

For example, in recent years we have seen irrigation infrastructure, originally installed to boost farming productivity, helping to alleviate further pressure on struggling river and stream ecosystems. 

Central Plains Water scheme in central Canterbury is currently under construction, and will from September this year relieve climatic and allocation pressures on groundwater and lowland streams around environmentally and culturally important Lake Ellesmere Te Waihora.

The Opuha dam was able to keep streams flowing in South Canterbury during this year’s drought, which would otherwise have stranded fish.

The small Eiffelton scheme in mid-Canterbury pumps groundwater into ecologically important streams that would also have stopped flowing last summer without it. This leads me to the second false ‘choice’ I want to shed light on – between high technology and our primary industries.

Through companies specialising in precision agriculture, such as Varigate, Agroptics and others, New Zealand’s world-leading tech is both increasing productivity and serving environmental outcomes.

By mapping soil characteristics, tailoring the use of irrigation, fertiliser and other inputs to match, and ensuring accurate spatial delivery, the use of inputs can be reduced. This results in savings of energy, time and inputs, while pasture and crop yields increase and less nutrients are lost to the environment, leading to better water quality in our rivers and groundwater.

Progress in GIS technology and nutrient management data is enabling farmers to understand their farms in new ways. This is delivering environmental improvements and driving the best increases in productivity in the whole economy.

Another false ‘choice’ is between protection and use of natural resources.

As a country, we protect around a third of our land area for conservation, but the mountains and forests making up most of this area are used as a playground by our people.  They’re also a workplace for some of the 166,000 people employed in tourism industry; an industry that relies on us continuing to protect our outstanding natural beauty.

Instead of accepting these false ‘choices’ we have an opportunity to focus on ensuring our system gives us the freedom to make the choices we actually want.

One example is in the space of bio-technology.

I am not going to get into the question of genetic modification specifically.

What I will say is that when new technologies come along – both GM and non-GM – our current system denies us the choice over whether we want them. Meanwhile, our international competitors do have this option.

There is, for example, a new variety of high-yielding eucalyptus tree which has just been approved for cultivation in Brazil.  Using this variety, growers can get a 15 percent increase in wood for the same area, processors can get a 20 percent reduction in the cost of wood production, and the environment benefits from a 12 percent increase in the amount of carbon dioxide stored per hectare.
High-yielding wood is at the core of our pulp and paper industry.

However our current regime for regulating new organisms is highly restrictive in practice, which means we do not have the flexibility to choose whether this is something we would want in New Zealand.

I’ve heard it said that our current regulatory regime would deny us the choice to adopt many new plants and species that today offer us huge advantages: kiwifruit, rye grass, and even the ubiquitous pinus radiata.

Another example of a choice we are currently denied is found in our approach to risk.

This is particularly important when we consider the potential to sustainably use the resources contained in our precious marine environments.

I am not going to stand here and tell you that New Zealand does not take enough risk. That is for the country, through elected representatives, to decide.

The point I want to make is that we often deny ourselves the choice over how much risk we want to take. When systems adopt rigid approaches to risk, for example, rather than genuinely enabling adaptive management approaches, we limit our ability to explore and assess the potential risks of our actions.

Another restriction on our choice comes when we have inefficient systems. In these instances we deny ourselves the chance to decide, clearly and efficiently, how we want to manage our resources.

From an economist’s point of view, a resource management system like ours is intended to reduce the costs of allocating resources, account for factors which market forces don’t value, and manage collective action problems – including intergenerational fairness.

Our current system could be better on all of these fronts.

As we saw with the establishment of the Kaikoura marine protected areas, the transaction costs of making decisions on how to manage our resources can be extremely high.

Many of our resource management systems come in for regular criticism, although it’s often directed at how the decisions are made rather than the decisions themselves.

And our limited framework for valuing natural capital and ecosystem services often prevents us from understanding how much they are really worth to us. It also means weighing public benefits against the gains to be made from resource use is hard for decision makers.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

We are starting to reclaim some of these choices.

A number of Government departments are working together to assess the feasibility and benefits of more systemically gathering natural capital information to feed into decision-making.  Appropriately considering the impacts on natural capital, such as clean water, soil or habitat for threatened species, will allow us to make better, more balanced decisions.

The Government’s resource management reforms aim to provide greater certainty for communities to plan for, and meet, their area’s needs in a way that reduces costs and delays, while maintaining the environmental standards that are important to them. 

Freshwater policy is another area where we are reclaiming choice.

Here, communities are able to debate the value of public goods; public discussion is exposing and trading-off risks; and collaboration through the Land and Water Forum continues to help create a management system which is responsive to the goals of users.

But there is a price for moves to systems such as this, which give us the choices we really want.

The quality of information and the level of public debate must be raised. This is something for which all parties must share responsibility.

Government doubtless has a role here. The work to develop a Māori Land service is one example.

Here the Crown is providing the information and support that Māori landowners need to assess the different choices available to them from their land. This in turn exposes the true value to Māori of systems which allow us to choose how our resources are managed. 

However, businesses and industry sectors must play also play a part in setting the conditions for a more informed debate.

On the issue of climate change, for example, the agriculture sector has the opportunity to contribute to the public debate about New Zealand’s future emissions targets, and options for meeting these targets. 

It is important that we focus on what the science tells us.  

As the IPCC told us last year, carbon dioxide emissions fundamentally drive long-term global warming.  Methane has a larger impact initially, but its effect is only short lived. This clearly has little impact on most other developed countries whose emissions consist mainly of carbon dioxide, but it makes a huge difference for New Zealand because of our high agricultural emissions.

New Zealand has invested heavily in finding ways to mitigate the effects of biological emissions, though commercialisation is still some way away.

So science clearly plays an important role in helping us work out how we can have the greatest impact in reducing emissions.  And it has an important part to play in informing the public, in helping us avoid false dichotomies and giving us greater choices to enable living standards to continue to rise for generations to come.  And as part of this, the business community has the opportunity to explain how its actions contribute to increases in all areas of wellbeing.

I, for one, look forward to working together to make these challenging, but ultimately vital, choices about the future of our natural resources, the prosperity of our country and the living standards of New Zealanders.

Sustainability and prosperity aren’t mutually exclusive.

Furthermore,unless we want to return to subsistence living, which may or may not be environmentally sustainable but certainly isn’t socially and economically sustainable, prosperity is essential for sustainability.

That doesn’t mean that prosperity should be at the cost of the environment or people.

The challenge is to balance economic, environmental and social considerations.

 


Rural round-up

June 5, 2015

Central Plains Water moves to Stage II planning:

Central Plains Water is proceeding with planning for an enlarged Stage 2 of the $375m project on the back of fresh funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) Irrigation Accelerator Funding (IAF).

The $3.5 million investment from the IAF will allow CPW to proceed with the first phase of the Stage 2 design. This investment is one of two that the IAF has committed to CPW, which must match the commitment dollar-for-dollar. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces appointment of new general manager Country Banking:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Hayley Moynihan to the new role of general manager Country Banking.

Subject to regulatory approval from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Ms Moynihan will commence in the role from July 2, 2015.

Reporting to Rabobank New Zealand chief executive officer Ben Russell, the general manager Country Banking will be responsible for leadership of Rabobank’s rural banking business throughout New Zealand.

 

Farmers urged to have their say on future plans for fighting bovine TB:

New Zealand cattle and deer farmers are being urged to get involved in how the fight against bovine TB is carried out, with a review of the Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Plan underway.

Since the start of 2000, New Zealand has spent more than $1.2 billion fighting bovine TB and controlling the pests (especially possums) that spread the disease.

Independent Chair of the Plan Governance Group (PGG) Chris Kelly said, “To protect the health of farmed cattle and deer and our good international trade reputation around animal products, it is critical we continue to build on this large investment and maintain the low TB rates we see today.” . .

Research findings a promising start for PhD student:

Preliminary findings from a research project at the University of Waikato could mean good things for farmers dealing with the effects of ongoing drought.

Increasing drought resilience
Doctoral student Jack Pronger’s research focuses on identifying approaches to increase pastoral drought resilience by using more diverse mixes of pasture species. He’s comparing the seasonal water use of mixed-sward pasture systems (a combination of different grass, legume and herb species) with more traditional ryegrass/clover systems under dairy grazing. . .

Healthy thinking workshops for rural people:

A 1980s era ambulance will be on the road soon, helping to bring practical advice to farmers and others in the rural community about looking after themselves.

It is part of a new programme, Farmstrong, that rural insurer, FMG and the Mental Health Foundation have launched.

It is taking a different approach to other rural mental health initiatives, by promoting well-being, with advice on subjects such as nutrition, managing fatigue, exercise, and coping with pressure. . .

Growing value – an uncertain future:

The uncertain future of the dairy sector is currently top-of-mind for many primary sector leaders, reports KPMG New Zealand.

That was a key theme arising from the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2015, titled “Growing Value”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says conversations about the dairy industry’s future have “changed dramatically in the last year”.

“The extent of the downturn in milk returns for the 2014/2015 season was not expected. The belief that prices had moved to a new plain, driven by insatiable Chinese demand, has disappeared.”  . . .

Farmers score with new DairyNZ app launching at Fieldays:

A tool to allow farmers to perform one of their most important jobs on a smartphone will soon be available when DairyNZ launches its new free Body Condition Scoring (BCS) App at the National Agricultural Fieldays next week in the Waikato.

The app gives farmers the opportunity to body condition score cows on their smartphone using DairyNZ’s Body Condition Scoring Made Easy field guide.

DairyNZ animal husbandry specialist Andrea Henry says condition scoring cows is such an important job, DairyNZ wanted to make it as easy as possible. . .

Blocks help minimise metabolic disorder risks in herds:

It’s the calm before the calving season and a bit of planning now will help herds get through without the risk of metabolic disorders, such as milk fever, which can lead to downer cows or impact future milk production.

The disorders are prevalent just before or after calving, triggered by an inability to mobilise enough calcium. Subclinical cases of milk fever can be hard to pick up, with industry data indicating that for every downer cow it is likely that between 10 and 15 others in the herd will have early stage milk fever symptoms.

“It’s estimated that the cost of a clinical case of milk fever can reach up to $1,500 per cow* – including lost milk production, reduced fertility, and increased likelihood of culling due to other diseases such as mastitis. Not only is the risk a costly one, it’s also unnecessary,” says SealesWinslow Product Development Manager, Jackie Aveling. . .


Rural round-up

February 21, 2015

Further fruit fly found in Auckland:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that an isolated population of the Queensland fruit fly has been found in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn.

A resident of the higher-risk Zone A in the middle of the existing Controlled Area found a single fly in a lemon tree on his property, captured it and reported it to MPI.

The fly was formally identified as a recently-emerged un-mated female adult fruit fly. This is the only fly that has been found, over and above the initial trapped fly found earlier this week.

Chief Operations Officer Andrew Coleman says thanks must go to the resident who captured and reported the fly, allowing MPI to act swiftly to scope the problem. . .

Belief in sheep’s milk put to test:

One man who sees the potential in sheep milk opportunites is putting it to the test.

A Lincoln University farm management and agribusiness lecturer planned to manufacture his own ice cream from milking 125 ewes on his property in Darfield, Canterbury.

Guy Trafford said the roof for his dairy plant was to be put on next weekend.

He said the sheep milking industry was an untapped opportunity for farmers. . .

Irrigation gains reflected in updated Overseer:

Irrigating farmers and growers will soon have greater confidence in the outputs OVERSEER® Nutrient budgets (Overseer) generates with the release of the nutrient budget model’s new comprehensive irrigation module.

From late April, Overseer 6.2 will improve the ability to model a range of irrigation systems and practices, dramatically improving its ability to calculate N-loss for irrigated properties.

Overseer General Manager Dr Caroline Read says incorporating the breadth of irrigation systems and management in use today will allowOverseer to address a known shortfall. . .

 Pasture recovery plan – growing grass after the dry:

 Livestock has been the number one priority in areas hit by the recent dry – and rightly so – but now pastures also need attention, to fuel farm recovery after rain, and provide the main source of feed for the next 12 months.

A successful pasture recovery plan has three stages: current management while conditions are dry; actions to be taken when rain comes and an autumn pasture renewal programme.

Pasture specialist Graham Kerr says the best way to start is to assess all paddocks on the farm, and divide paddocks into three categories. . .

 

National Fieldays calls for single, rural blokes:

Entries are now open for the 2015 Rural Bachelor of the Year competition.

Single, rural men wanting to apply to enter the competition face a range of challenges over the National Fieldays week in their bid to be crowned Rural Bachelor and walk away with $20,000 worth of prizes.

Click here for more information.

The competition is held in the lead-up to, and during the New Zealand National Fieldays at Mystery Creek from June 10-13. . .

New Prime Off Mum Challenge launched to New Zealand Farmers:

New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics company is encouraging farmers to get in behind a new initiative which aims to get more prime lambs straight to the works off their mothers and in turn increase farm profitability.

Focus Genetics is launching the new benchmarking challenge “Prime off Mum” open to all New Zealand sheep farmers. Registrations open on Monday February 23 at www.primeoffmum.co.nz.

The challenge will give participating farmers an opportunity to find out how they are tracking against others with similar land classes. . .

 

"In anticipation of this weekend, have a look at our new and exclusive trailer"


Rural round-up

June 17, 2014

New $65m high-security biocontainment lab:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says a new $65m high-security biocontainment laboratory announced in Wallaceville today is another demonstration of the Government’s commitment to biosecurity.

“The new facility will replace the existing high security laboratory and continue more than 100 years of animal disease diagnostics at the site,” says Mr Guy.

“The existing laboratories and skilled personnel have an essential role in responding to disease outbreaks, protecting public health and providing international trade assurances about New Zealand’s animal disease status. . .

Agritech companies debut at the World Dairy Expo & Summit China:

 Seven companies joined New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) at the 12th World Dairy Expo and Summit in Xi’an, China, over the weekend.

The World Dairy Expo and Summit is the premier annual event for China’s dairy industry, attracting thousands of visitors from across China and around the world including professionals in dairy production and cow breeding, buyers, government officials, experts and media.

With an exhibition area of 25,000sqm, the Expo focuses on the entire dairy production chain, from breeding and farm facilities to processing and packing equipment, ingredients, and dairy products.
NZTE’s Trade Commissioner in Beijing, Liam Corkery, says that the Expo is an opportunity for New Zealand companies to present their solutions to potential customers in China that are actively looking for farming and milking systems expertise and technologies. . .

Taranaki bags Maori farming award:

A Taranaki dairy farming operation has won this year’s top Maori farming award, the Ahuwhenua Trophy.

Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd which runs 500 cows on a 170-hectare farm near Hawera, was one of three finalists for the award.

The farm trust’s chair Dion Maaka said it stood out because it was an amalgamation of four separate Maori trusts, representing more than 1000 landowners, who had successfully combined their small uneconomic blocks into one larger and more viable dairy farming operation. . .

A thousand owners share dairy delight:

An award-winning Maori dairy farming operation says its ownership structure provides a successful model for others to follow.

Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd, based in southern Taranaki, has won this year’s top Maori farming award, the Ahuwhenua Trophy.

It runs 500 cows on a 170-hectare farm near Hawera. . .

Lincoln University drives into the rough – Keith Woodford:

Lincoln University is New Zealand’s land-based university, with a special focus on agriculture and related industries. In recent years, the University has been facing hard times. This is despite the resurgence of New Zealand’s agricultural industries, and the export dominance of agri- food products.

This year the situation at Lincoln has reached crisis point. The University has been shedding academic and other positions in an attempt to balance the books.

The current shedding of staff involves a net decrease of 53 staff through a combination of voluntary redundancies, enhanced early retirements, and compulsory redundancies. Inevitably, the loss of staff is going to affect delivery capacity. The question now is whether Lincoln can survive in its present form. . . .

Fieldays looks at boosting footprint:

The organisation behind the national agricultural expo says it isn’t letting the grass grow under its feet after wrapping up this year’s event.

The organisation behind the national agricultural expo says it isn’t letting the grass grow under its feet after wrapping up this year’s event.

More than 900 exhibitors took up 50 hectares of space at the giant agricultural showcase this year, including 28 new large outdoor sites. . . .

Going ‘nuts’ for Mediterranean diet – Ashley Walmsley:

A MEDITERRANEAN diet could be the key to better health and increased nut sales according to an international researcher.

Professor Jordi Salas-Salvadó, chairman of the INC World Forum for Nutrition Research presented nut health information at the 33rd World Nut and Dried Fruit Congress, in Melbourne last month.

The Congress saw nearly 900 guests from Australia and overseas come together to talk about the current state and future of global nut consumption. . .

 New Zealand wine industry gets WiSE

A world leading sustainability scorecard and reporting tool is being launched to New Zealand wineries and grape-growers today. WiSE (Wine Industry Sustainability Engine) will be used by around 2000 wineries and vineyards from Northland to Otago. It will record and manage winery and vineyard activities to ensure they meet international sustainability standards required by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.

The New Zealand wine industry is already seen as a driving force in sustainability with over 94% of the vineyard producing area certified under an independently audited sustainability programme, and WiSE is set to bolster this reputation. . .

Canterbury Butchers Carve up the Competition:

The Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year is well underway with the Upper South Island Regional held yesterday in Christchurch.

Jeremy Garth of New World Woolston, Christchurch and Timmy Watson from Ashburton’s Allenton Meat Centre, drew a tie in the hotly contested Alto Young Butchery regional.

Competenz Butcher Apprentice regional winner Rowan Lee of Pak’ n Save Riccarton, Christchurch demonstrated he was a cut above the rest in yesterday’s competition, joining the two young butchers in the next stage of the competition. . . .

New acne cream brings new meaning to ‘adding value to dairy’:

Hamilton company, Quantec Personal Care, believes Cleopatra may have been onto something when she bathed in milk.

The research focused company has developed a clinically-proven anti-acne cream whose active, patented ingredient is derived from New Zealand cow’s milk.

The company believes this breakthrough skincare product, marketed under the Epiology brand, is a world first in its category and represents an entirely new approach to improving acne and problem skin.

Quantec founder and Managing Director, Dr Rod Claycomb, explains, “The bioactive enzymes and proteins found in our Epiology anti-acne cream are essentially the same active enzymes and proteins that all mammals produce to protect themselves from potentially harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. . . .

 


Fieldays good and bad

June 16, 2014

The National Agricultural Fieldays have come along way from its start in 1969 with a budget of $10,500 and 15,000 people attending.

Fieldays, billed as the largest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, has concluded after 900 exhibitors showed their wares to 120,000 visitors over four days. . .

The weather on Wednesday and Thrusday might have put some visitors off going but reports say sales were good and the economic impact spreads much wider than the site.

Accommodation in and around Hamilton was booked out months in advance.

We only made the decision to go last Tuesday and ended up staying in Auckland.

We can’t have been the only ones. When we returned the rental car with an apology for the dirt, the man receiving it laughed and said it was just one of many that showed signs of a visit to the Fieldays.

The mood among farmers and exhibitors was buoyant – and the response at this stand was very positive:

fieldays14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These four MPs, Scott Simpson, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Louise Upston and Todd McLay, and volunteers were very busy.

Labour has given up on farming, and as a consequence of that, the provinces. Farmers, the people who work for, service and supply them are seriously worried about the negative impacts a change of government will bring.

Organising an event as big as the Fieldays is a a major undertaking.

From the efficiency and friendliness of the ticket sellers at the entrance, the layout, range of exhibitors, quality and variety of food for sale, to the cleanliness of the loos – which is no small task with all those exhibitors and visitors – I have nothing but praise.

But I do have a major complaint about the traffic management.

We left Auckland at 6:30 on Friday morning. We got to a queue of vehicles 9 kilometres from the site at 8:30 and finally got to the car park at 11:40.

A couple of hours into the stop-start crawl I began to worry that I’d need a loo before we got there.

Eventually I started walking and came across a police officer at a round-about. He directed me to Regal Haulage a few hundred metres up the road where the receptionist greeted my plea for help with a smile and took me to their loo.

She turned down my offer to pay but I left a note anyway, telling her to shout herself a treat or give it to charity – it was worth every cent.

Our previous visit to the Fieldays was six years ago. We’d hit a long queue to the entrance on the Friday then too but put that down to leaving Auckland too late which is why we left so early.

But the problem wasn’t timing it was traffic management which requires a serious re-think.

If it’s not practical to close the road past the site to traffic going in the opposite direction they need to use cones to make two lanes going there in the morning and away in the afternoon and they need more entrances.

An alternative or addition to that would be to create parks some distance from the site and provide buses from there.

We’ll go back to the Fieldays in a few years but unless we can be sure of better traffic management we’re very unlikely to go back on a Friday.


Rural round-up

June 14, 2014

Integrated agri-food value chains – Keith Woodford:

Many New Zealand agri-food companies are still struggling to understand the global shift to integrated agri-food value chains. This move has been playing out most spectacularly in the infant formula industry, where the small companies have been badly caught out, but the trend is much broader than that.

A key driver is the need to have food safety systems in place that span from consumers back to producers. It is not simply a case of the food having to be safe, it is also a case of there being a transparent evidential trail. Food testing is just a small part of this system.
A major focus has to be on overall business systems that react to first stage mistakes before they compound into major events. It was just such a failure to react to the warning signals that led Fonterra down a shambolic path with the botulism scare in 2013.

There is also a key idea relating to provenance. Consumers not only want to know that something is safe; they also want to know that they are buying is what they think they are buying, and that the brand is genuine. . .

Milk spill stopper wins innovation award – Jamie Small:

The dragons have chosen, and another farm invention is one step closer to commercial success.

For the second year running, Fieldays had its own Dragons Den-style competition for agricultural innovations.

The joint initiative, run by Fieldays and Hamilton business incubator Soda Inc, selected nine innovators from a pool of 20 to present their gadgets to a panel of experienced investors and business leaders.

The top prize, Most Viable Business, went to Pahiatua couple Graeme and Alison Franklin with the DTexH2o. . . .

Primary Industry’s outlook good:

Federated Farmers believes the ‘2014 Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries’, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, shows a promising future for the New Zealand economy thanks to kiwi farmers.

“This report shows an increase of 16.3 percent in primary sector exports, to $37.7b on the previous year, which translates to increased farmgate incomes of 22 percent and an increase in off farm spending of 11 percent,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers National President.

“These statistics remind us of the importance of exports to New Zealand, in particular the impact on farmgate incomes and spending on farm inputs, which has a direct influence on rural and provincial economies. . . .

Applauding the night away: superb exporters win top recognition:

Spectacular export growth of hundreds of chicken and turkey products has won Tegel Foods the Supreme Award in the 2014 Air New Zealand Cargo Export NZ Auckland export awards.

Prime Minister John Key presented the award last night at the Langham hotel in Auckland also attended by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and ‘Minister for Business’, Steven Joyce.

The judges said Tegel has been an iconic brand in New Zealand for more than 50 years and began developing export markets 11 years ago. . . .

Fonterra slapped with $150,000 fine over NZX disclosure – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Markets Disciplinary Tribunal has fined Fonterra Cooperative Group $150,000 for breaching continuous disclosure requirements to the NZX during the dairy manufacturer and exporter’s botulism false alarm last August.

Auckland-based Fonterra undertook a world wide recall after it quarantined several batches of whey protein concentrate last August on concern it was contaminated with a potentially dangerous strain of clostridium bacteria, capable of causing botulism. The strain was ultimately shown to be harmless. . . .

Boys from the farm turn on the charm – Libby Wilson:

Fieldays’ rural bachelor contestants have done the hard yards in the leadup to their event.

The eight eligible blokes chased sheep, shot clay targets, and went zorbing on their journey from Auckland to Mystery Creek.

And the action continued yesterday, with fencing, speed-dating and cooking.

Yesterday morning they faced questions from Waikato women.

It seems ladies into a romantic but rural first anniversary picnic would be a good match with Wanganui’s Fraser Laird, 26. “I’ve got some back paddocks at the back of the farm. It’s got a bloody good view. Serious,” he said. . . .

Farmers encouraged to embrace technology – Susie Nordqvis:

Accounting firm Xero is laying down a challenge to farmers this week’s Fieldays: start embracing technology and innovation to maximise profits and grow the economy.

The innovation hub at Fieldays is not quite Dragon’s Den, but it is a sure fire way of fast-tracking participants onto the national stage.

“We have developed an ice maker that makes a slurry and you can reduce milk from 32degC down to 5degC in three seconds,” says innovation den participant Richard Upperton.

Xero says if more people followed Mr Upperton’s lead then the economy would be in better shape. . .

New Zealanders and shearing – Ali Ikram:

Sheep outnumber New Zealanders seven to one. 

They’re crucial to our economy and they get a bad wrap when it comes to their intelligence.

But there was one question we desperately wanted answered – as New Zealanders, can we all shear a sheep?

Is it innate in us – a birth-right?

Or are there some born and bred in cities who simply can’t shear, no matter what? . . .


Rural round-up

June 13, 2014

Farmers warned of dangers of meth labs – Susie Nordqvist:

Waikato police have told farmers at Fieldays they’re too trusting about whom they’re renting their farm cottages to, and tenants that end up using farmland for methamphetamine labs can cost farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Basically the chemicals are all placed into this flask and then it’s boiled, well it’s heated, on an element [and] the pseudoephedrine comes off, and you end up with the finished product,” explains Detective Senior Sergeant Nigel Keall. . . .

Red meat delegation heads to China:

A major delegation of New Zealand red meat exporters is heading to China next week.

The group, being led by the Meat Industry Association, represents more than 95% of New Zealand red meat exports.

The Chairs, Chief Executives and other senior staff will meet with Chinese regulatory agencies, industry bodies and customers. . .

Sheep and sheep meats in China – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about one specific region in China’s pastoral zone, high on the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau. This is just one part of China’s pastoral zone which extends for thousands of kilometres from Inner Mongolia across to Xinjiang and down through the western provinces of Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet. The precise numbers of sheep on these lands is unclear. It is not because the Chinese Government hides the correct numbers, but because pastoral farmers keep the numbers to themselves. The United Nations FAO agency estimates that in 2012 there were 187 million sheep in China, but no-one really knows.

What happens in China’s pastoral zone is important to New Zealand for two reasons. The first is that we are all part of a global environment, with sustainability a global issue. The second is that China is now New Zealand’s most important market for lamb and mutton; the gap between local demand and supply in China is the key driver of sheep industry profitability back here in New Zealand. . . .

Fieldays shoes might seem ‘exotic’ to Aucklanders – Mike McRoberts:

Footwear is an essential part of farming and also appears to be a big part of the National Fieldays this year.

Horselands’ Angie Gil is selling boots at the four-day event and says visitors are expecting a bargain.

“I think that you don’t come to park in a paddock and then walk around Fieldays to not get a bargain.” . . .

Minister welcomes KPMG Agribusiness Agenda:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today welcomed the annual KPMG Agribusiness Agenda at the National Fieldays, noting the strong correlation between Government and industry priorities.

This year’s Agenda reiterated the importance of strong biosecurity and food safety systems, and highlighted uncertainty around a potential change of Government as a major point of concern across the over 150 industry leaders surveyed.

“I’m not surprised to see the significance of biosecurity flagged again by industry, and it has been my number one priority since becoming a Minister,” says Mr Guy. . .

The biggest myth about organic farming – Ross Pomeroy:

The majority of Americans believe that organic foods are healthier than food grown using conventional methods. The majority of Americans are wrong. Two systematic reviews, one from Stanford University and the other by a team of researchers based out of the United Kingdom, turned up no evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or lead to better health-related outcomes for consumers.

But the idea that organic foods are healthier isn’t even the largest myth out there. That title belongs to the widely held belief that organic farming does not use pesticides. A 2010 poll found that 69% of consumers believe that to be true. Among those who regularly purchase organic food, the notion is even more prevalent. A survey from the Soil Association found that as many as 95% of organic consumers in the UK buy organic to “avoid pesticides.”

In fact, organic farmers do use pesticides. The only difference is that they’re “natural” instead of “synthetic.” . . .

Families mark a century on the land – Sally Rae:

Since 1905, successive generations of the Simpson family have farmed Springside at Tokarahi in North Otago.

From draught horses to large, modern tractors and combine harvesters, each generation has kept up with new farming practices.

The Simpson family was among 42 families to attend the recent New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards in Lawrence, for families who have farmed the same land for 100 years or more.

It was the highest number of families to be recognised for their commitment since the awards were first held in 2006. . .


Rural round-up

June 12, 2014

$16m export fish gets top sustainability marks:

New Zealand hake, a small but growing white fish export to Spain, China and Japan, has received a glowing report in an independent assessment, taking it one step closer to achieving certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The MSC holds the world’s best standards for sustainably managed fisheries. Its assessment process, which is transparent and inclusive, requires all fishery assessment reports to go through a public consultation period before certification can be achieved.

While many overseas hake fisheries have been overfished, the MSC independent assessment has confirmed New Zealand hake fisheries as having well managed, healthy fish stocks that are harvested with minimal impacts on the marine environment. . . .

International marketing specialist stands for Zespri board:

International produce marketing specialist, Hillary Brick, has announced her nomination for the upcoming director elections for the board of kiwifruit exporter Zespri.

Hillary is a New Zealander who has been living in the United States for the past 30 years.

Originally from Te Puke, Hillary is a long-term shareholder in a family owned kiwifruit orchard near the town.

“I have been very fortunate to enjoy 25 years of experience in international fruit marketing”, she said, “I’d be privileged to give back to an industry which has played such an important part in my life.” . . .

Firewood ‘slicer dicer’ on display at Fieldays – Mike McRoberts:

Mahoe Sawmill is at Fieldays with their firewood “slicer dicer”.

Mahoe’s John Bergman says the machine is part of the Fieldays innovation awards and is the first of its kind that the company has developed.

“It makes it [chopping firewood] really easy.” . .

Lessons with the Sharp Blacks: Can Campbell Live make the cut?

Kiwis are a nation of meat exporters – we all know that.

But who knew that there’s an international competition for the men and women who process that meat for our shops, and for global markets? Or that we have our own national butchery team?

They’re called the Pure South Sharp Blacks, and they are rather successful at what they do.  . . .

New code set to speed up rate of innovation in NZ rural industry:

The Farm Data Code of Practice, launched today, is a first for the New Zealand agricultural industry.

The new Code of Practice outlines steps organisations must take to safeguard farmers’ data. Adoption and implementation of the Farm Data Code of Practice is expected to improve how farm information is shared and used.

Development of the Farm Data Code of Practice was funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through DairyNZ, and also the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) andFarmIQ. It is part of the Transforming the Dairy Value Chain programme, led by DairyNZ and Fonterra, under MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership. . . .

Fonterra explains why it thinks international demand for milk powders and cheese will remain relatively strong – Interest.Co.NZ:

A shift in supply and demand over the past few months is indicating that volatility continued to exert influence over the global outlook for dairy.

Prices have come off the peak reached in February this year.

There is currently more milk available for the international market to absorb, although demand from China and Russia still appears strong as global supply and demand rebalances.

Fonterra’s assessment of published industry statistics indicates that total dairy exports have reached 14.2 million MT, up 3% for the 12 months through to February 2014. Most of this growth appears to be from the European Union (EU), New Zealand (NZ) and the United States (US). . . .

Ballance hits half way in its biggest product innovation programme:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has reached the half-way mark in its $19.5 million programme under the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

The seven-year Clearview Innovations PGP programme is aimed at developing products, technology and knowledge to support sustainable, profitable farming. The programme has $9.75 million in support from the PGP.

Ballance Research and Development Manager, Warwick Catto, says the co-operative has made nitrogen and phosphorus efficiency a high priority in the programme. It is aiming to increase nitrogen uptake efficiency from the usual 10:1 return to 15:1 and to increase phosphate efficiency by 20 percent while minimising losses. . . .

Hamilton-based SummerGlow Apiaries applauds a new Manuka Honey testing method.

TE KOWHAI’S SummerGlow Apiaries has welcomed news from Hill Laboratories of a new manuka testing method which could save the honey industry millions of dollars a year.

The test checks for the “Manuka factor” are in the honey. This is an indicator of antibacterial activity, used to determine whether honey is pure manuka or a blend. Not all manuka honey has the unique activity and among those that do then the strength varies.

The tests used to cost $105 each, or $315 for all three, but “this new three-in-one can achieve it for only $70.

“This initiative is an important step in the right direction. SummerGlow Apiaries applauds any scientific developments that focus the consumer on Manuka Honey’s all important Non Peroxide Activity,” says James Jeffrey of SummerGlow Apiaries. . . .

 

You might need to be a ram breeder to appreciate this:
Postura das pernas do posterior....


Staying connected in crowds

June 12, 2014

Whenever lots of people converge on places not usually very crowded, mobile connections falter.

It happened in Wanaka at Christmas and Easter and at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu in March.

People going to the Fieldays at Mystery Creek could be expecting similar problems but Telecom has boosted its network to cope with the extra traffic.

Telecom is supporting National Fieldays with its biggest ever mobile communications network build for a one off event – providing a combined network capability four and a half times that which was deployed for the Rugby World Cup 2011 final at Eden Park.

Telecom has deployed a complex mix of both 3G and 4G technology suitable to support more than 125,000 attendees over the four day event period at Mystery Creek Show Grounds.

Alex Lee, Mobile Network Capability Manager – Events says “This kind of capacity is required due to increased customer demand for data (especially in upload capability as people share their experiences on social media) and continuing new customer demand on the Telecom Mobile Network.”

The technology deployed at the event is equivalent to that of over 20 standard mobile sites, transmitting across multiple carriers of 3G on 850MHz, 2100MHz, and 4G LTE on 1800MHz, 2600MHz spectrum. Importantly the use of 700MHz at the event continues Telecom’s trial of 4G technology to the rural sector.

Grant McBeath, Telecom Retail GM Sales says “We’re excited to see how our agribusiness customers can benefit from the faster speeds, better coverage and increased network capacity that 700MHz 4G will deliver for New Zealand’s regions.”

Data traffic across the Telecom network increased by around 60% from March 2014 compared to March 2013. During recent major events, like the Bruce Springsteen concert in Auckland, Telecom have seen mobile uploads actually exceed download.

“As more people begin to use smart devices for things like watching video, using business apps, uploading photos and getting the most out of their music on Spotify, data speeds are going to become more and more important. 4G allows you to do all these things in seconds, and these faster speeds will quickly become the “new normal” for New Zealanders, just as 3G speeds did when they were introduced a few years ago.” McBeath says.

Telecom will be holding two ‘kitchen-chat’ style information sessions each day led by experts from the Telecom network team. The first session will lead a discussion around our networks, and what we’re doing to improve connectivity beyond the major centres. The second session will provide an overview of the Telecom 700MHz spectrum trial in the Waikato and how this will allow Telecom to hit the ground running to deliver 4G beyond the major metropolitan centres once the auction process has concluded.

Rural dwellers are used to less than ideal connections and speeds at home and being connected when you’re away has both pluses and minuses.

But if those at the Fieldays need to be in touch, they’ll be very happy if they can do it without the dropped calls and delays which have happened at other events when the technology can’t cope with the traffic.

They’ll also be keen to learn what improvements they might expect at home – and when they might expect them.


F is for . . .

June 12, 2014

This week F is for Fieldays and farming’s to the fore.

Prime Minister John Key opened proceedings yesterday.
Fieldays officially open!

The four-day event is expecting 120,000 visitors and sales are regarded as a barometer of rural confidence.

However, while farmers are reasonably comfortable about the outlook, they are also prudent.

Last season’s record dairy payout was used by many to retire some debt and they won’t be in a rush to spend, especially with concerns over the risks a change in government would pose.

They’ll be kicking tyres, looking and learning. They will also be spending, but probably with restraint.


Rural round-up

May 21, 2014

Finding alternatives to dairy – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand dairy production has increased by 80% since Year 2000. This has come almost equally from both more dairy hectares and more production per hectare. However, the limits to pastoral dairying in New Zealand have largely been reached. Where do we go from here?

First, there is a need to recognise the two reasons why pastoral dairying has largely reached its limits.

The most important reason is that society is no longer willing to accept the effects of cow urine leaching from pastures into waterways and aquifers. Huge progress has been made in fencing off livestock from waterways, and in tree planting alongside the streams, but that does not solve the problem of the urine patch. This 2013/14 year is therefore the last year of large-scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to pastoral dairying. New environmental regulations have effectively closed that door. . . .

Nominations & entries open for South Island Farmer of the Year:

Nominations and entries are open for the 2014 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition, and organisers are hoping for another record year.

“Last year we had entries from throughout the South Island, the quality of which were such that we were obliged to select six finalists instead of the usual four,” says Lincoln University Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter. “This, plus the very successful winner’s field day at Yealands Wine Estate, generated a lot of interest.

Todhunter says that one of the attractions of the competition is that size really doesn’t matter and is not one of the criteria for judging.

“We’re looking for leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, which can be found equally in a small family-owned farm business as they can within a large commercial agricultural entity. . . .

Central South too wet to drill:

CROPPING FARMERS in Canterbury and North Otago face a soggy battle to get winter cereals sown after another belt of rain swept the region this week.

Paddocks had only just become passable after an unusually wet April and now some fear they will not get back on again until spring. Where crops have been sown agronomists say slugs are having a field day.

“Slug pellet use has gone through the roof,” Mid Canterbury agronomist Roger Lasham told Rural News.
“Where people have gone on with pellets before any damage has been done it’s not too bad but if they’re late they’ll never get those plants back.”  . . .

Fresh look for Fieldays partnership:

A mutual interest in contributing to – and growing – New Zealand’s agricultural sector is behind an enduring strategic partnership between two iconic regional organisations.

The University of Waikato is into its eighth year as a strategic partner of the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek and Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says it is an important partnership for both organisations.

“The University has a shared interest with Fieldays in the agricultural sector, from our research which we will be showcasing on our stand, to our students who undertake internships with many agricultural organisations and our graduates who are employed in the agricultural sector,” he says.

The University and the New Zealand National Fieldays Society signed their latest strategic partnership in March and Fieldays Chief Executive Jon Calder says the relationship has developed well over the years “to the point where we now have a true partnership”. . .

Deal to develop wine tourism:

New Zealand Winegrowers and Air New Zealand have signed a deal which will see them jointly promote the country as a destination for wine tourists.

They believe that more than a million visitors have toured the country’s vineyards and wineries over the last five years and the sector has tremendous opportunity for future growth.

Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the North American and Asian markets will be targetted in the promotion. . .

Giesen single vineyard first release wins international recognition:

Giesen Wines has won international plaudits with its first release of premium single vineyard wines from Marlborough.

Three different single vineyard selections have won gold at two prestigious UK competitions. The Brookby Rd Pinor Noir 2012 and Clayvin Pinot Noir 2012 were awarded gold in the coveted Decanter competition while Giesen The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay 2012 captured gold at the International Wine Challenge (IWC).

Theo Giesen, of Giesen Wines, says this is the first time its wines have been awarded gold at either of the UK competitions. . . .


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