Rural round-up

December 19, 2014

New tool to test sheep meat quality:

An international project testing the eating quality of sheep meat using DNA measurements will enter its final stage next year, with the tool developed set to be tested on commercial flocks in New Zealand.

In September last year, a sheep genotyping tool known as a SNP (snip) chip was created by an international team of scientists as part of the FarmIQ genetics project.

John McEwan, one of the project’s leaders and AgResearch principal scientist, says the chip measures hundred of thousands of DNA variances and allows a sheep’s performance to be predicted by testing its DNA, rather than extensive progeny testing being needed.

“We take an ear punch out of the sheep – just a very small piece of tissue about three millimetres in diameter – and we extract the DNA out of that from the sheep. Then we place that DNA on this slide or chip and develop it with a set of chemicals and the DNA variance appears as different colours.” . .

Farmer contracts not taxing water-take:

Contracts signed so far to take water from Hawke’s Bay’s Ruataniwha dam and irrigation project added up to only about 13 percent of the commitment needed to make the scheme commercially feasible.

But the company running the project says farmers representing more than half of the minimum water-take required have made the decision to join the scheme and have asked for contracts.

The figures are in a report that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company presented to the council today.

The company has until the end of March next year to decide whether the dam and irrigation project in the Tukituki River catchment will have enough backing to proceed. That includes having enough farmers signed up to take a minimum of 40 million cubic metres of water a year. . .

Ngai Tahu launches farming diploma:

Ngai Tahu has launched a new Maori Farming Diploma which it hopes will produce the country’s future leaders in agriculture.

Whenua Kura is a partnership between Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngai Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

The diploma course is the first of its kind where students will study in a Maori environment and learn how to apply critical Ngai Tahu values such kaitiakitanga (guardianship), manaakitanga (hospitality) and rangatiratanga (self-determination) to land use. . .

It’s always Christmas for farmers – Vincent H. Smith:

It is Christmas time once again and in my part of the world, southwestern Montana, the snow has arrived and will be with us until early March.  Most nights the temperature will fall well below 20 degrees Fahrenheit; some days the thermometer won’t rise above zero.

That’s winter time in the Northern Great Plains and the eastern Rocky Mountains, where cabin fever is a real phenomenon and ranching becomes truly hard work. In this world, cattle can be inconvenient. They need water and calories in places where they can feed and drink, and cows often calve on bitterly cold February and early March nights.

Ranching is also risky in the winter time; herds can be decimated by blizzards and what seem like mile high snow drifts. And ranchers, on the whole, are genuine risk taking entrepreneurs who, for the most part, neither seek nor receive substantial federal bailouts. Most of them also know that country of origin labelling is a bad economic idea that has reduced the prices they are paid by meatpackers and feedlots. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, for example, has recently argued that the US should “reform” and essentially terminate that program rather than appeal a recent WTO finding that the program violates US WTO commitments. . .

A new standard for labelling of export infant formula:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today issued a new standard to clarify the labelling requirements for exports of infant formula.

“The standard has been developed as part of the infant formula market assurance programme announced by the Government in June 2013,” said Scott Gallacher, MPI Deputy Director-General, Regulation and Assurance.

“It is the first of a set of technical regulatory changes that will be introduced progressively over the next six months to further strengthen our assurance system for exports of infant formula products.

“MPI consulted on the new standard during July and August. The new standard clarifies the information that must be on labels of infant formula intended for export, and information or representations that are restricted or prohibited on these products. . .

New labelling standard for infant formula:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has today welcomed a new standard under the Animal Products Act that clarifies the labelling requirements for infant formula exports.

“Currently all export dairy products are exempt from New Zealand’s food labelling standards, they instead meet labelling requirements of the importing country,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“Infant formula is a special product. For this reason, the Ministry has put in place this new standard, which applies regardless of where the infant formula is being sent. This will ensure exporters know what information must be on labels, and what information and images are prohibited.  . .

20 years of selling semen and nothing’s a problem:

Te Aroha local, born and bred, Butch Coombe celebrates 20 years working with CRV Ambreed as a field consultant.

Starting out part-time to supplement the income on his 110-acre farm, his sales patch grew and grew and enabled him to buy extra things for farm like a new four-wheeler with his ‘top up earnings.’ When his area grew to the point where it could support his family, he decided to sell the farm and join CRV Ambreed full-time.

It was a big move for Coombe and his wife Heather, who had been farming their whole married life – some 30 years – but he was pleased not to have to leave the industry or cattle completely. . .

 


5 Nations beef producers back TPP

September 27, 2013

Free trade has got a boost with Five Nations beef producers agreeing to core principles in support of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

An alliance of cattle producers representing Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States have signed a letter announcing their support for a comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand is delighted to be a signatory to this Five Nations Beef Alliance Joint Communique that outlines core principles to ensure the TPP negotiations fulfill the promise of a high-quality agreement that can serve as a standard for future trade agreements,” said Mike Petersen, chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“The TPP needs to be an ambitious, high quality, comprehensive agreement, with no product or sector exclusions, address non-tariff barriers, and be enforceable. The more we can work together with our international counterpart organizations on these trade issues the more likely it is to result in a win-win for all.”

“As a collective global beef industry, if we are going to feed a growing world population we need to facilitate the open and unrestricted trade of food around the world,” said Cattle Council president Andrew Ogilvie, from Kingston SE in South Australia.

“By removing trade barriers and tariffs to create fair and open access for all nations, the world’s population will have equal opportunity to a reliable and safe food supply without trade barriers inflating the cost of that food.”

The agreement is based on 10 core principles, ensuring any agreement must be comprehensive and must eliminate all tariffs and market access barriers while emphasizing the importance of unfettered trade.

“Working to achieve a TPP without product exclusions, especially in agriculture, that also eliminates tariffs and other market access barriers in the TPP region, is a goal worth striving for,” said Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Martin Unrau, a cow-calf producer from MacGregor, Manitoba.

“I am pleased to see momentum building in the TPP negotiations and am hopeful we can achieve a comprehensive result soon.”

The agreement also relies on risk based scientific decision making, based on international science-based standards.

“We are a strong supporter of this agreement and others like it, on the grounds that they increase market access and provide stable export markets based in internationally recognized scientific standards,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Scott George, a cattle and dairy producer from Cody, Wyo.

“With 96 per cent of the global population living outside of the United States, it is essential that we take measures to enable trade and expand market access, both to stimulate the economy and more importantly, to feed a growing global population.”

The Five Nations Beef Alliance is also asking the negotiating countries to push for arrangements where beef producers are all treated the same.

The Five Nations Beef Alliance comprises Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Cattle Council of Australia, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Confederacion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Together, the alliance represents producers from countries that account for one-third of global beef production and approximately half of global beef exports.

This is significant progress towards freer trade that will benefit producers and consumers.

New Zealanders have been farming without subsidies and tariff protection since for nearly 30 years.

The transition was abrupt and painful but I know no-one who wants to go back to the bad old days when we were answerable to politicians and bureaucrats rather than markets.

Farmers in many other countries have been slow to realise the benefits of free trade and those in North America have, unitl now,  been particularly reluctant to lose the protections they have.

The agreement to the principles by Canadian, Mexican and USA producers is a huge break through.The FNBA’s overriding principle is to exceed global consumers’ expectations in respect of beef, while eliminating non-scientific and political trade restrictions.fnba


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