Rural round-up

August 10, 2018

Who cares about farmers? NZ needs them around – Anna Campbell:

Buzzwords and trendy phrases have a wave-like cycle.

When you first hear a phrase, your ears prick up, but you don’t necessarily take it in. When you next hear the phrase, you start to register its meaning and context. A few more hearings and the phrase becomes embedded – perhaps you use it yourself. The end of the phrase-cycle starts when the buzzword or phrase is used so often, it loses meaning and starts to irritate.

There are some tired words and phrases that have started to irritate me recently, so I hope this means they are ending their wave, or at least I stop using them – ”ripe for disruption” and ”social licence to farm” are two such examples. In their defence, such phrases come about because they are pithy, topical and represent something worth exploration.

Talking about buzzwords is really my way of introducing my growing irritation at the concept of farmers requiring a ”social licence to farm”. The phrase has come about because there is a realisation in the agri-community we need to improve some of our practices and provide evidence of such changes on the back of a growing rural-urban divide (another term starting to irritate me), food scares and a requirement for transparency around food production. . . 

Canines have nose for the job – Yvonne O’Hara:

A request from beekeepers in Canterbury led a Dunedin dog trainer to become a key element in the fight against the devastating bee disease American foulbrood.

Rene Gloor, of Rene Gloor Canine Ltd, is originally from Switzerland and has spent the past 30 years training dogs to detect many odours.

His dogs were used to detect biosecurity risks, including fruit, plants, meat, seeds, eggs and reptiles, for the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Since leaving MPI, he has set up his own business and worked in Taiwan, Korea and other Asian countries for the past eight years. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis compensation is a mixed bag with big delays and lots of angst – Keith Woodford:

The complexities of Mycoplasma bovis compensation are causing much angst both for MPI and farmers. Simple claims are being dealt with in a matter of weeks. More complex cases get stuck.  Unfortunately, most cases are complex.

The easiest cases for MPI should be where farmers have dairy beef.  Once the farms are ‘depopulated’, to use the official term, it is a painstaking but straight forward process of disinfection and then clearance some 60 days later.  Replacement dairy beef animals should be easy to find, although of course there is a risk of reinfection if bad choices are made. . . 

Collaboration tackling bee disease – Yvonne O’Hara:

Beekeepers and dogs are joining forces to combat the devastating American foulbrood (AFB), the beekeeping industry’s equivalent of foot-and-mouth disease.

If a new research project is successful, tools and tests may be developed that might eliminate the disease, commercial apiarist Peter Ward says.

The Southern Beekeepers Discussion Group has been given $143,000 from the Sustainable Farming Fund to develop and trial new tools to detect AFB. . . .

Why it’s okay to stick with meat and dairy – Lyn Webster:

I was cutting up a dead cow for the dogs and as my knife slid through the rich red meat which will provide days and days of dense nutrition, my thoughts turned to the prophesied meat- and dairy-free future we all face.

We are being led to believe that our future food lies not in the farmed animals which have provided us with life for generations but in engineered plant-based food and laboratory food grown from stem cells.

The fallout from this in New Zealand appears to be a mass exodus of support for the farmers who provide the food and a lean towards veganism and an attitude amongst some young people (the millennials, who apparently drive the buying decisions) that somehow vilifying (dirty) farmers and investing in these supposedly “clean” foods will somehow be the saving of the planet. . . 

Living Water: new approach delivering results:

The innovative mindset of the Living Water programme is delivering new approaches and tangible results for freshwater, biodiversity, farmers and communities.

Living Water is a 10-year partnership between Fonterra and the Department of Conservation that brings farmers, scientists, councils, communities and Mana Whenua together to identify and implement solutions that will enable farming, fresh water and healthy eco-systems to thrive side by side.

Dairy farming is central to New Zealand’s economy, but how we are farming is having an impact on our lowland freshwater ecosystems. Our streams, lakes, rivers, lagoons and coastal estuaries are being impacted by high levels of nutrients, sediment, effluent and other pollutants. This has resulted in freshwater ecosystems being reduced and degraded and that is where Living Water comes in. . . 

NFU warns net zero emissions goal could make UK farmers ‘uncompetitive‘ – Abi Kay:

The NFU has warned a net zero emissions goal being pursued by the Government could make UK farmers ‘uncompetitive’.

The union’s deputy president, Guy Smith, made the remarks after a cross-party group of more than 100 MPs wrote to the Prime Minister to urge her to back the target.

In the letter, the MPs said the UK should become one of the first countries to set the goal in law, citing a recent poll by Opinium which showed 64 per cent of adults agreed emissions should be cut to zero over the next few decades. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 30, 2018

Councils’ reliance on rating slammed as ‘abhorrent’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says councils need new ways to diversify their funding and the reliance on rating is “abhorrent” and needs addressing.

In her report to the rural lobby organisation’s national conference, Ms Milne said that would be particularly helpful for councils with a small rating base.

Central government must also make sure councils were reasonable in how they rated “and not bleed the public for projects which may never get off the ground or pet ideas that only serve the ideologies of the few rather than the many”.

“There is a belief we are all rich farmers but this is just a myth,” she said. . . 

Government negligent over PSA claim:

A landmark decision released by the High Court today has found that the Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) was negligent in allowing the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, which devastated the kiwifruit industry.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that it was also hugely significant for the kiwifruit industry and other primary industries that the Court also established that MPI owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers when carrying out its biosecurity functions.
“We completely agree with the Judge when she says that the wrong to the 212 kiwifruit growers should be remedied. . .
Psa Litigation:
MPI has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation and we are now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.
The 500 page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.
Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.
Until then, we will be making no further comment. . .

Early winners are still leading – Hugh Stringleman:

Hugh Stringleman looks back on the initial decade of the Young Farmer Contest and catches up with some of those who took part.

Winning the Young Farmer Contest’s national honours opened many doors to farming success and primary industry leadership for champions from the first decade.

Between 1969 and 1978 competition was very keen among thousands of Young Farmers Club members nationwide to achieve a place in the four-man grand finals, as they were then.

Every member was encouraged to participate to build public speaking skills, increase their industry knowledge and try to progress through club, district, regional, island and grand finals. . . 

Fonterra says climate change policy shouldn’t reduce methane emissions to zero – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said it supports a target aimed at mitigating and stabilising methane emissions, but not seeking to reduce them to zero, in its submission on the productivity commision draft report on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

“Agricultural emissions make up approximately half of New Zealand’s emissions and we support policies being set to help transition agriculture to a low emissions economy,” it said in the recently published submission. Submissions on the commission’s draft report – presented in April – were open until June 8 and the commission aims to present a final report to the government by August. . . .

AgResearch purchases full ownership of Farmax:
AgResearch has taken full ownership of agricultural software company Farmax Ltd by acquiring the shares of Brownrigg Agriculture, and Phil Tither, of AgFirst.
Farmax has been operating for 15 years and has already been used to add value to more than 5000 farm businesses in New Zealand and overseas. The software is used by farmers and their advisors to analyse, monitor and review farm operations to determine the production and economic outcomes of various managerial options. . .

Gallagher’s takes supreme ExportNZ award:

Gallagher Group has taken out the supreme award for the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the way the Hamilton-based business has become the leading technology company in animal management, security and fuel system industries over the past 80 years.

Founded in 1937, Gallagher’s was initially a 10-person business which designed and delivered New Zealand’s first electric fence solution. Today, it employs 1100 people across a global network of 10 countries through three business units. . . 

British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to deliver high quality food, says Michael Gove

NFU President Minette Batters has welcomed comments made by Michael Gove in his keynote speech at the NFU’s Summer Reception at the House of Commons on 25 June. 

Defra’s Secretary of State for food and the environment said he had ‘heard, received and understood’ the NFU’s call on government to uphold the high-quality produce that he said was a ‘hallmark of British agriculture’ in post-Brexit trade agreements.

He said that British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to fulfil the national and global demand for high-quality food. . .

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Rural round-up

March 17, 2018

Dairy Report: Irrigation in the South Island insulated dairy farms from drought this year allowing maintained production. North Island makes a fast recovery – Guy Trafford:

Fonterra states it has collected 2% less milk than the previous season. However, given it was 6% down up to the end of December on the previous calendar year and January was 8% down, since that period there must have be a great turn around.

This is no doubt driven by the good grass season experienced by farmers in many parts of New Zealand since mid-January and dairy farmers holding onto potentially cull cows to help control it.

Looking at the Fonterra milk collection data it appears likely that by April the 2017/18 season will come close to matching that of previous years. Most of the volatility around milk production is coming from the North Island with irrigation maintaining much of the South Island production at a status quo situation. . . 

Dairy capacity is manageable – Hugh Stringleman:

The latest milk market share figures show that Fonterra is approaching 80% of national milk collection at a time when dairy industry processing overcapacity is an emerging threat.

Two new dairy plants are due to open in August and if their operators attract their targeted milk supply Fonterra’s market share next season will fall from 82% to 80%.

The plants are industry number two Open Country’s fourth location, at Horotiu, in northern Waikato, and newcomer Mataura Valley Milk, in Southland. . . 

Project offers school children farm visits – Sally Rae:

Farming is not all about chasing sheep.

That was something Deep Stream farmer Preston Hope explained to a group of 29 city school pupils visiting his property yesterday.

Rather, there were a wealth of various career paths available in the rural sector, ranging from science to sales and marketing.

“There are a huge amount of opportunities,” he said. . . 

Lorna’s love of cows rewarded – Sally Rae:

Lorna Button started showing cattle at a very young age.

Miss Button (17) reckoned she was probably 4 or 5 when she first wielded a halter and lead, and paraded around the ring.

In fact, there were photographs from when she was young, showing her holding her charge’s head “right up high” and it was right above her head, she said.

This year, a highlight for the South Otago teenager was winning the intermediate-senior handler (14-18 years) class at the New Zealand Dairy Event, held at Manfeild Park, near Palmerston North. . .

Zespri shareholders back constitutional changes according to preliminary vote count – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri shareholders voted in favor of constitutional changes aimed at strengthening grower ownership and control of New Zealand’s statutory kiwifruit exporter, according to preliminary results from a special meeting held today in Mt Maunganui.

Shareholders voted on a series of resolutions that will impose a cap on the number of shares they can hold relative to trays of kiwifruit produced, and phase out dividends for non-producing shareholders over seven years. .  . 

National Farmers’ Union first female boss addresses sexism in farming – Adrian Lee:

FOR centuries farming’s image has revolved around ruddy-faced men toiling in fields while their loyal women folk run the home. It is a stereotype that has proved hard to break down.

However the election of the National Farmers’ Union’s first female president in its 110-year history will do much to prove that attitudes within the industry are changing. Minette Batters, who built up a 300-strong herd of pedigree Hereford cattle from scratch in Wiltshire, fought off male competition to secure the post this week.

She was told by her father that farming is not for girls but insists that agriculture as a man’s domain is being consigned to the past. “That really is a very out of date opinion,” says the 50-year-old single mother who took charge of the farm in 1998 and has steadily worked her way to the top. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2018

Ban kids from riding quad bikes RCH surgeon urges – Warwick Teague:

IN MY work as a surgeon and trauma prevention advocate, I see few better places to start saving lives than a ban on children getting on quad bikes.

This is a hard line, too hard for some, but I would challenge anyone — farmer, doctor, lawyer, voter, seller, buyer, parent or child to answer the question: How many more children do you think need to be injured on quad bikes before we say “Enough is enough”?

Since 2001, 42 Aussie kids aged under 16 have died from quad bike trauma. . .

Using technology to give farmers an eye in the sky:

Is there anything technology can’t do? It seems everyday something new pops up that makes our lives easier… and now one Taranaki dairy farmer has taken this to new heights, using a drone to get his cows in.

Hayden Fowles says it’s not just about getting the herd to the shed quicker, the drone also helps him keep his cows healthy.

“It gives me another pair of eyes. I can check for lameness and anything that might appear a bit odd sooner than I would if I was on foot or bike.”

Not only is the drone helping to keep his cows healthy, it’s also helping to improve his on-farm health and safety.

“It means a lot less time on and off the bike and I don’t need to go on to the steeper land.” . . 

NFU elects new officeholder team:

Minette Batters has been elected as the new President of the National Farmers’ Union.

Ms Batters, a beef farmer from Wiltshire, has been elected for a two-year term alongside Guy Smith as Deputy President and Stuart Roberts as Vice President.

The election took place after the AGM of the NFU Council, a representative body made up of its elected members, following the annual NFU Conference.

Ms Batters said: “I am delighted to have been elected as President of the NFU and I am grateful to all the members who have given me the opportunity to lead our industry through Brexit and beyond.

“At the heart of the NFU is its members and I would like the organisation to aim even higher on their behalf. British farming is in the spotlight like never before and this is a great opportunity to reposition the sector in the eyes of the nation. . . 

A2 Milk first-half profit soars 150%, aligns itself with Fonterra in new supply deal – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk more than doubled first-half profit on strong infant formula sales and has aligned itself with Fonterra Cooperative Group which will see the two companies partner up on a range of products.

Net profit rose to $98.5 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $39.4 million a year earlier as sales climbed to $434.6 million from $256 million, Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered a2 said. . . 

A2 shares soar 25%, making it NZ’s biggest listed company – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co shares jumped 25 percent, making the milk marketing firm New Zealand’s biggest listed company on a deal that will give it backing from Fonterra Cooperative Group.

The stock gained $2.31 to $11.60, valuing a2 Milk at $8.47 billion, toppling Auckland International Airport at $7.75 billion, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare at $7.37 billion and Meridian Energy at $7.29 billion. The spike underpinned the S&P/NZX 50 index, which gained 1.5 percent to 8,215.63 as at 2.35pm. . . 

No Change to Existing Synlait And A2 Milk Infant Formula Supply Arrangements:

Synlait Milk Limited and The a2 Milk Company Limited wish to clarify that the announcements made today by The a2 Milk Company and Fonterra do not change Synlait’s exclusive infant formula supply arrangements to The a2 Milk Company.

Synlait and The a2 Milk Company have an exclusive long-term supply agreement for the production of the a2 Platinum® infant formula range for China, Australia and New Zealand. . . 

Red Meat Sector welcomes release of the CPTPP text and National Interest Analysis:

The release of the text of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (CPTPP) and New Zealand’s National Interest Analysis represents important progress for trade leadership in the Asia-Pacific region, say the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

‘CPTPP brings some of the largest and most dynamic economies in the Asia-Pacific together around a common goal’, says B+LNZ Chief Executive, Sam McIvor.

MIA Chief Executive, Tim Ritchie, said ‘This new agreement addresses concerns many New Zealanders had with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and is a deal that is good for trade and good for New Zealand.  . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2016

Thousands of dairy farms face closure as debts reach crisis level – Elizabeth Anderson and Rhiannon Bury:

As many as one in five of the UK’s 10,000-plus dairy farms could be forced to close this year, as falling milk prices and rising debt reach crisis levels for farmers across the country, various industry bodies have warned.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) said many dairy farmers are at the end of their tether, operating at a loss and unable to receive any more finance from banks.

“We’re expecting an awful lot to exit the industry by the end of this year, when lots of farmers will have eaten up their savings. Last year the figure was 4pc, but the expectation is more will exit this year, whether it’s 10pc or 20pc,” said the organisation’s chairman Rob Harrison, who also runs his own dairy farm and says he lost £150,000 worth of income last year. . . 

Hurricane’ Carter :

Reuben Carter’s choice of the word “hurricane” for both his email address and sheep stud name couldn’t be more appropriate.

In his 31 years he’s been through three careers – as a fitter and turner, a tractor mechanic and now agronomist. He was runner-up in the 2014 Young Farmer of the Year competition, has just completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme and has his eyes firmly set on a Nuffield scholarship in the next few years. He is also heavily involved in the farming and development of his family’s sheep and beef farm at Opononi at the southern end of Hokianga Harbour in Northland, albeit from a distance.

His parents, Northland farmers Bill and Tric, didn’t name him after Reuben “Hurricane” Carter, the American boxer wrongly convicted of murder and immortalised in the Bob Dylan song of that name. But he was left in no doubt that after finishing Whangarei Boys’ High School as a boarder he could not come straight back to the Opononi farm. . .

These aren’t your grandmother’s GMOs – Jennifer Blair:

Of all the tools that plant breeders have at their disposal, a compelling story is perhaps the most important — and the most challenging to find.

“That’s one of the things in the modern breeders’ tool kit that needs improvement — our message out to the public and how it’s going to come across,” said geneticist Sean Myles of Dalhousie University. “We’re not good at it right now.”

Scientists have faced an uphill struggle in sharing facts about genetically modified organisms with consumers, partly because of how they were created in those early days, Myles said in a presentation at FarmTech last month. . . 

When size doesn’t matter – Andrew Hoggard:

Consultation on Fonterra’s Governance and Representation Review has begun, and credit where credit is due, I like how Fonterra have approached this.

The document outlines all the issues that farmer shareholders need to be considering, and the questions to be answered by the farmer, in shaping what the representation and governance of Fonterra needs to look like going forward.

 One of the concerns I have is everyone will just get focused on the board size argument. While that may well be one aspect that could well be changed depending on farmer sentiment, it is not the only one.

 And, if we get too myopic on that we could well ignore other issues in this document which I feel are equally important. . . 

Young leaders announced for upcoming primary industry technology event:

Young leaders in New Zealand’s primary industries are essential for increasing the future prosperity of the sector. One of the key highlights at the upcoming MobileTECH 2016 event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel. This session focuses on the next generation of farmers, orchardists and foresters and what their views and big ideas are for the future.

“While we will be heading a lot about new technologies at this event, it is equality as important to hear what the youth of today want to see developed”, said MobileTECH Programme Manager, Ken Wilson. “The young leaders have grown up with technology and there’s no doubt they will be the early adopters and visionaries for working with technology within our primary industries,” he said. . . 

Putting fun back into the community:

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers will be encouraged to think fun rather than falling dairy prices and dry conditions at a rural family day in Rongotea on 9 March.

The event – dubbed the Rural Family after Five – is being hosted by Manawatu/Rangitikei Federated Farmers together with members of the local farming community and rural support groups with the aim of helping to boost spirits in the region.

“There’s a lot of pressure on our farmers at the moment, so we wanted to create something for the whole community, bringing them together and taking some time off farm to focus on something more positive,” says Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei Provincial President James Stewart. . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes Bee Industry Unification:

Federated Farmers welcomes the announcement that the outcome of the National Beekeepers Association (NBA) special vote is positive.

The positive vote for change means the NBA will become Apiculture New Zealand as of 1 April 2016.

Members of the NBA voted for 58.63 per cent in favour which indicates a continuation of support for unification, creating a single and effective industry body. . . 

Giesen Wines announces internship winner:

Blenheim born Andrew Jeffries, 21, is no stranger to working in vineyards, and it’s this experience that has helped him to win the inaugural graduate internship at Giesen Wines.

Andrew, who attended Lincoln University, studying for his Bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Oenology, has just begun work with the family owned producer, working at Giesen’s premium organic high-density vineyards in Marlborough.

He is already well versed at working in vineyards as his parents own a small 22ha block in Marlborough, and as a teenager Andrew was busily employed during the holidays. For the past two years, he has been in a technical support role for Giesen Wines. . . 


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