Rural round-up

July 1, 2012

The risks of global worming:

FOR decades, the overuse of antibiotics has encouraged the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria which, though they have never broken out and caused an epidemic in the way that was once feared, have nevertheless been responsible for many deaths that might otherwise have been avoided. Now something similar seems to be happening in agriculture. The overuse of drugs against parasitic worms which infest stock animals means that these, too, are becoming drug-resistant. That is bad for the animals’ health and welfare, and equally bad for farmers’ profits.

This, at least, is the conclusion drawn by Ray Kaplan, a parasitologist at the University of Georgia who has just published a review of research on the problem. His results, which appear in Veterinary Parasitology, make grim reading. . .

Young man on a mission – Sally Rae:

Tangaroa Walker is a young man with a very clear and bold vision for his future.   

By the time he is 40, Mr Walker (22) wants to own holiday homes in Queenstown and Mt Maunganui, a dairy farm in Southland and be living on a beef farm at Whakamarama, in the Bay of Plenty, the area where he grew up.   

They might be hefty goals but, given what the Southland-based lower order sharemilker has already achieved, you get the feeling he will most likely achieve them . . .

Dad’s death led to organis shift – Sally Rae:

Southland dairy farmer Robin Greer always had a desire to    process his own milk.   

He did some research and spent one day a week for 18 months in his kitchen, making cheese from recipes he found on the internet and in books.   

 He taught himself to make most of the cheeses now produced at the factory he and his wife Lois established on their farm.

They market their products – milk, cheese and yoghurt – throughout New Zealand, under the Retro Organics label, and  are looking at export opportunities. . .

Tests uncover way to cut use of 1080 poison – Gerald Piddock:

Landcare Research scientists are cautiously optimistic they have discovered a method of killing rabbits as effective as current methods but using significantly less 1080 poison. 

    The breakthrough came after Landcare and the Otago Regional Council carried out experiments on two high country stations in Central Otago last winter. 

    The experiments were based around refining how bait was sown on rabbit-prone country from fixed-wing aircraft by altering the volume of bait used for rabbit control. . .

Helicopters only way to cull deer:

It took sweat, precision and millions of dollars to make Highland Cuisine Ltd a venison exporter but owner Bill Hales fears a game council will put its deer procurement and customer relationships to the sword.

Parliament is mulling legislation for the council as part of a national wild game management strategy.

Submissions to the bill have poured in to the Environment and Local Government select committee, including those dismissing it as excess political baggage from MP Peter Dunne.

Yes, the council and wild game strategy is part of the Government’s confidence and supply agreement with Dunne’s one-man United Future Party. But that political history doesn’t change much for people like Hales. . .

Young agribusiness team from Massey competes in China – Pasture to Profit:

Massey University(NZ) had a team competing in theInternational Food and Agribusiness Management Association student case study competition, held in Shanghai,China.

The competition is in its 7thyear and is held in conjunction with the IFAMA annual forum and symposium. The late “Daniel Conforte” (an inspirational lecturer at Massey University) had a long standing association with IFAMA and at the opening of the Symposium was made a fellow of IFAMA the highest honour, a well deserved tribute recognising his passion and contribution to the organisation.  . .

Young farmer contest announces first ever patron:

A career in education and working with young people provided an excellent foundation for Dr Warwick Scott’s involvement with The National Bank Young Farmer Contest.

After 12 years of close association with the event, Dr Scott has recently been appointed as the first Contest Patron.

“I am deeply honoured,” he says. “It is a privilege to work with this amazing event which, year after year, showcases the on-going talent New Zealand has among its young famers, both men and women.”

ANZ Bank, DairyNZ partner on financial benchmarking of farms – Peter Kerr:

DairyNZ is partnering with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group to boost the financial performance of dairy farms.

Under a memorandum of understanding, DairyNZ’s business performance analysis tool, DairyBase, will be available to ANZ Bank economists and agri managers when working with farmers, they said in a statement.

DairyBase consolidates the financial results from more than 1,800 farmers, allowing like with like comparisons. Some 41% of dairy farmers currently use benchmarking . . .

First ever ‘Green 50’ list shows booming green sector:

New Zealand’s first definitive list of companies making money improving the environment has just been launched by strategic research company New River.

Top of the New River Green 50 list is Auckland-based Chem Recovery, which recovers and recycles heavy metals to produce 99.9 per cent pure re-usable metals; followed by Stonewood Homes, builder of a 7-star green building; and Reid Technology, a New Zealand leader in solar power. Other companies on the list include Flotech, a technology pioneer allowing organic waste to be converted into methane for pipeline gas; and Outgro an innovative fetiliser company enabling farmers to reduce phosphorous and nitrogen run-off into waterways while increasing their yields. . .

Winner proof you don’t have to be one to be one

May 28, 2012

Young farmers used to have a recruitment slogan you don’t have to be one to be one.

It was aimed at attracting people who weren’t farmers but would enjoy and contribute to the organisation.

I don’t think they use the slogan any more but the winner of this year’s National Bank Young Farmer contest, Michael Lilley, is proof it still applies.

He’s a rural vet, though he grew up on a farm and hopes to combine his vet work with farming in the future.

He’s not only an example you don’t have to be a farmer to be in Young Farmers, but also that farming by itself isn’t the only road to farming.

Some people use dairying to save enough to invest in another business and some like Michael, use another career to help them into farming.

RivettingKate Taylor has more on the contest here.

Young Farmer Grand Final

May 26, 2012

The 44th National Bank Young Farmer Contest Grand Final opened in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Since then contestants have had their intellectual and physical skills tested and tonight they face their final test.

Among them is  Northern’s representative, Katherine Tucker, who is only the third woman to reach a final.

Other contestants are Otago/Southland’s Pete Gardyne, Sam Williams from the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Region, Tasman’s Michael Lilley and Andrew Scott from the Aorangi Region, who have all reached the final before. the other two finalists are Tony Dowman from the East Coast Region and Taranaki/Manawatu’s Brad Lewis.

RivettingKateTaylor is there and has photos.

Rural round-up

May 1, 2012

Top Sheep Breeding Operation Wins Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Well-known Wairarapa hill-country sheep and beef farm Wairere Station has been named Supreme winner of the 2012 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Owned by the Derek Daniell Trust and situated north east of Masterton, the 1206ha property is home to an internationally recognised Romney sheep stud.

Ballance Farm Environment Award (BFEA) judges described Wairere as“a sustainable, innovative and financially-sound farming operation”.

“Strong consideration has always been given to conservation practices alongside the ability to be a leading entrepreneur of sheep genetics in New Zealand.” . . .

Cow pooling and homekill:

With ‘cow pooling’ in the spotlight following TV One’s Sunday programme, Federated Farmers Rural Butchers believes it has a role to play in reconnecting the public to their food.

“From what I saw on Sunday last night, ‘cow pooling’ seemed legitimate,” says Mike Hanson, Federated Farmers Rural Butchers chairperson.

“The impression I got was that people owned the farm animal and had it processed through a licensed abattoir. If that’s the case the meat is legitimate. So much so, they’ll even pay a Beef+Lamb NZ levy on it. . .

Go Young Farmer:

After 22 District Finals and seven Regional Finals featuring New Zealand’s best young farming talent, The National Bank Young Farmer Contest is down to the last seven Contestants.  They’ll battle it out in Dunedin from 23 May – 26 May 2012 to see who will take the title. 

There’ll be plenty of pressure on the seven Grand Finalists.  And when the going gets tough, a bit of support can make all the difference. . .

Fortunately, even if you can’t be in Dunedin for the Grand Final, you can still cheer on your favourite contestant.

The National Bank’s website is the next best thing to being there.


Differences more apparent than real – Allan Barber:

In spite of recent disagreements, most notably between Keith Cooper of Silver Fern Farms and Beef and Lamb NZ, there doesn’t appear to be too much wrong with relationships between meat companies and the industry good organisation representing sheep and beef farmers

Cooper has listed several bones of contention which pushed him to the point of resigning from the B&LNZ board – the proposal for PGP funding had several aspects which cut across FarmIQ, the launch of the Suretrim industry trim standard went ahead without getting full commitment from the processors, and, in his own words, the straw that broke the camel’s back was an article in the Christchurch Press in late January quoting B&LNZ chairman Mike Petersen on the sustainability of lamb prices. . .

Crafar farms sale appears to be over at last – Allan Barber:

The sale of 16 assorted, somewhat rundown dairy farms to the Chinese buyer, Shanghai Pengxin, looks as though it can finally go ahead, although there is still talk of an appeal by the group headed by Sir Michael Fay.

It is hard to see on what basis an appeal could be successful, because the OIO tightened its criteria for recommending the Chinese bid which was already required to jump through more hoops than any previous application for foreign ownership. The Ministers were satisfied by the OIO’s changes and would clearly have taken great care not to land the Government in any more embarrassment over the issue. . .

Will Grayling Young Farmer of Year

July 3, 2011

Will Grayling is the 2011 Young Farmer of the Year.

Twenty five year old Will from the Pendarves Club was representing the Aorangi Region. He’s a manager on a 1600 cow dairy farm in Ashburton and is due to marry Kim in December this year. He has a Masters of Applied Science from Lincoln University and was a first time Contestant at Grand Final level.

It didn’t look like it was going to be Will’s night earlier on and even he was worried that the title could be out of his grasp after he made some mistakes in the early question buzzer rounds.

“I thought it was slipping away several times – I got off to a rough start.”

In the end though, his all-round performance secured him the win; he took out the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge after delivering a presentation on the supply of colostrum earlier in the week. He received an AGMARDT Scholarship towards a career development programme valued at $15,000. He also won the Lincoln University Agri-growth Challenge, taking away a Lincoln University conference package for an industry related conference – domestically or internationally to the value of $8,000. It was a tight race though; Will won the Challenge by only .2 of a mark over Tim van de Molen.

Will also won a $62,000 Grand Final prize package that includes 12 month’s complimentary use of an Isuzu D-Max valued at approximately $15,000, a Honda TRX420FPM power steer four-wheel drive manual ATV $ valued at 15,000, $10,000 cash from The National Bank, quality products and services from Ravensdown to the value of $7,000, a selection of quality outdoor power equipment from ECHO to the value of $7,000, a Lincoln University scholarship for study towards a Specialist Masters of Professional Studies or entry to the Kellogg Programme valued at $5,000, an AGMARDT Scholarship towards a career development programme valued at $2,000 and a range of Swanndri clothing to the value of $1,000.Isuzu Agri-Sports winner – 12 month’s complimentary use of a Isuzu D-Max valued at $15,000.

RivettingKateTaylor has update #3 on the contest and update #4 with photos of the winner..

When my farmer was runner up in the 10th contest he won a Honda 90 motorbike. The winner, Steve Ryan who very sadly died about 10 years later, got a tractor and a trip round the world.

In those days, when there were fewer alternative social and leadership opportunites for rural youth, Young Farmers had about 7,000 members.

Membership dropped to about 1,500 a few years ago but that was its nadir. It has turned around and is increasing again.

Hopkins hanging up mic after 21 years as voice of Young Farmer Contest

July 2, 2011

The grand final of the National Bank Young Farmer contest tonight will be the last one for Jim Hopkins who’s been the voice of the contest for 21 years.

If you only ever watch the show on television you would have only got a glimpse of or a few words from Jim who commentates the practical day. It’s quite a challenge, requiring good knowledge of the contestants and what they’re doing as well as a sense of humour and quick wit.

Jim’s had to show a more serious side compeering the regional finals and he’s needed all his skills to warm up the audience before the filming of the grand final and keep them warmed up during sometimes long pauses in filming.

Jim’s left big gumboots to fill and the man tasked with filling them is Craig Wiggins  who has been  attending Regional Finals.

“I’m really looking forward to stepping into the role; it’s going to be great watching the Contestants improve over the years and to see our youth being further educated in agriculture.”

Craig, a former mechanic by trade, brings a long history of announcing to the role; he’s the main announcer for New Zealand Rodeo and travels the country announcing around 35 rodeos a year. Craig has also been a jet sprints commentator and has acted as Master of Ceremonies at many different events during his announcing career. He has television and radio experience as a result of his career too.

Originally off a 300 hectare sheep and beef unit in Raetihi, Craig now lives near Ashburton in Mid Canterbury on a 28 hectare horse training and dairy grazing property. Craig’s background in agriculture meant he jumped at the chance to be a part of the iconic Contest.

“I’ve always been an avid follower of The National Bank Young Farmer Contest, my farming background means it’s something that has always appealed to me.”

Hopkins fans will still be able to tune into his regular Monday chats with Jamie Mackay on the Farming Show.

The grand final is being held in Masterton. RivettingKate Taylor has progress reports here,  here and here.

Rural round-up

June 25, 2011

Farming editor wins premier award

Dominion Post farming editor Jon Morgan is this year’s Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year.

He was selected ahead of five other nominees from throughout the agriculture sector and was presented with the award at a dinner in Hamilton last night.

Morgan has worked as a reporter or sub-editor for 45 years on newspapers in New Zealand and Australia. He joined The Dominion in 1988 as a news editor and has been farming editor of The Dominion and then the Dominion Post for the past 10 years.

This is a well desered win for a journalist whose writing does a lot to bridge the rural-urban divide.

Winners accentuate the positive – Jon Morgan:

When Gisborne sheep and beef farmers’ son Richard Greaves met Manawatu dairy farmers’ daughter Joanna Olsen at university, they agreed on two goals in life. They wanted to own a farm and they wanted four children.

Twelve years later, they can tick off one of them: three girls and a boy aged under six race around their home.

The second aim is in sight too. They expect to have $3 million of equity within seven years, enough to buy an 800-cow farm.

Amazingly, the couple, who sharemilk at Sherwood in Central Hawke’s Bay, have been in dairying just four years.

5 -year project roaring success – Sally rae:

When Shane and Leona Trimble bought a Hampden sheep and beef farm five years ago, they could see the potential for a deer conversion.

Shifting to North Otago was a big move for the couple and their children,who previously lived at Haldon Station – a vast, isolated property in the Mackenzie Basin . . .

Pick me! Pick me! :

Central Otago apple growers are vying for their produce to be eaten by the Australian Prime Minister if New Zealand Prime Minster John Key wins a bet he made earlier this week on the Rugby World Cup.

Mr Key became the first New Zealand leader to address the Australian Federal Parliament in Australia on Monday and afterwards propositioned Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with a bet which could see the loser eating an apple produced in the winning country . . .

Contest involves a lot of prep

Winton sheep stud farm stock manager HAYDEN PETER talks about the countdown to the final of the Young Farmer Contest, just over a week away.

The days appear to be flashing past much faster now. After the regional final it seemed like the final was ages away but, in a week, I’ll be in Masterton. And that’s when the really pressure comes on.

The challenge isn’t just to turn up on the day, having done some study and hoping for the best for the final. And there’s not just the study and preparation, I’ve also had to submit work in advance . . .

Applause, another record falls

It is seldom that the public claps a sale of store sheep but that is what happened at Stortford Lodge last week when a capital stock line of 384 2-tooth ewes, SIL163%, were knocked down at $310.
The same vendors (story and picture on P11) received $225 twice for their 5-year lines and some mixed age fetched $222, PGG Wrightson livestock manager Vern Wiggins said. . .

Overseas buy-up of South Island farms

If New Zealand was to stop foreign investment into its farm land then the agricultural sector would have to up its performance to attract on shore capital or be prepared for poor returns and the major sector of the economy underperforming.

Before making a decision on whether foreign investment in New Zealand agricultural land was good, consideration should be given as to whether it was needed, head of agribusiness BNZ Partners Richard Bowman cautioned.

In recent months foreign investment had been relatively rampant with German investment funds spending a further $14 million buying two Southland farms with another $4 million tagged for on-farm capital investment.

Growers toil to yield the good oil – Peter Watson:

Ed Scott is in manic mode.

Plastic crates of freshly picked olives are stacking up outside his press and require his attention. He jumps off his tractor and hurries in to check how processing is going, emerging a few minutes later with his moustache stained from the virgin oil he has just sampled.

He was up until 1am feeding the latest lot of fruit through, and faces another long day as the mechanical harvester shakes off tonnes more from his 4500-tree grove near Neudorf. With an expected crop of 40 to 50 tonnes – almost double last year’s total – he will be flat out processing the harvest until the end of this week . . .

Little asparagus crop to spare – Jill Galloway:

Asparagus plantings in New Zealand almost need to double to meet the demand, says George Turney, a grower at Mangaweka in Rangitikei.

Chairman of the Asparagus Council, he grows 160 hectares of the crop in the Kawhatau Valley and is a keen supporter of the vegetable.

“There’s a crisis in the industry. There is not enough product for export, local market and processing.”

The asparagus crop was 600 hectares at present, but needed to grow to about 1000 hectares to meet demand, he said. . .

If we could talk to the animals :

 It is 250 years since veterinary education began in Lyon, France. JILL GALLOWAY talks to the head of Massey University’s vet school about 2011, the Year of Veterinary Science.

Animal science and human medicine will link more closely in future, predicts Massey University’s head of the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Frazer Allan.

When veterinary science began in 1761, “it was originally set up to look at diseases of livestock, such as rinderpest, a cattle plague, and a lot has happened since then.” . . .

Crafar’s strike deal with receivers – Andrea Fox:

Crafar farms patriarch Allan Crafar says his family has reached an agreement with receivers that “clears the air” and allows family members to stay in their Reporoa homes for now.

Crafar said the deal would allow the family to start “organising the  finance … to redeem the debt.” 

He declined to discuss the details.

The family’s nearly 8000ha dairy farming estate across the Central North Island was put into receivership by banks and financiers nearly two years ago, owing around $200 million.

Crafar said redeeming the debt did not mean buying back the farms, but paying off the debt. . .

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