Rural round-up

June 11, 2018

Good farm practice plan launched – Richard Rennie:

A plan to put the entire primary sector on the same environmental page might set the scene for a wider industry plan encompassing greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare, labour rights and sustainability.

A high-profile collective including DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, regional councils, Horticulture NZ and Irrigation NZ and the Environment and Primary Industries Ministries this week oversaw the launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan. . . 

Wiping out Mycoplasma bovis is a shot worth taking – Andrew McGiven:

So, it’s been nearly two weeks now since the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced the decision to continue to pursue Mycoplasma bovis eradication.

This decision was greeted with some relief by many farmers as it gave us all some clarity and reduced some of the Chinese whispers happening around the regions.

But there are plenty of farmers who are confused by this verdict and what the potential consequences may be for their businesses.

What I hope to provide here is some of the reasoning behind the decision that was reached and why it has been supported by all industry bodies and levy paying groups. . .

New Zealand gets it right – David Beggs:

NEW Zealand has just announced it will cull about 150,000 cows in order to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that is hard to diagnose and which is well established in most of the world.

It’s not a nice disease to have on your farm. While there are no human health issues, Mycoplasma can cause a wide range of diseases and when it does, they don’t respond well to treatment. In a farm with no immunity, disease rates can be very high. There are major problems with production loss from mastitis, arthritis, pneumonia, abortion and more. Not to mention the stress caused to farm staff or the animal welfare implications of high disease levels. But our experience, and that overseas, shows that as time goes on, the herd builds up an immunity and disease levels become low in unstressed animals. . .

Nation figures the Fieldays wide influence beyond farms – Hugh Stringleman:

Thirty eight permanent staff members, up to 10 temporary workers including interns and 300 volunteers make the National Fieldays happen, National Fieldays Society chief executive Peter Nation says.

Most of the volunteers do shifts on all four days and have done so for many years, being very valued members of the Fieldays Family, he said.

On site this week will also be more than 100 emergency service personnel and employees of contractors like Allied Security.

Nation said more than 9000 people were inducted into health and safety, of which 2500 put themselves through the online induction. . .

Recommended by ‘I wouldn’t be drinking that water’: Poo dumping plagues Waikato – Katrina Tairua:

A Waikato farmer is worried truck drivers are dumping stock effluent on a road, next to a stream supplying drinking water to hundreds of people.

Others are also worried effluent discarded on roads could hinder efforts to stop Mycoplasma bovis from spreading in the region.

Marcel Hannon said he had, on multiple occasions, witnessed effluent being dumped on Waterworks Road, a rural route between Te Miro and Morrinsville. . .

Massive fund manager BlackRock reveals 5 per cent holding in a2 Milk:

One of the world’s biggest fund managers has emerged as a significant shareholder in a2 Milk with a 5.03 per cent stake.

In a notice to the NZX, New York-headquartered BlackRock said recent purchases had taken it from 4.99 per cent to over the 5 per cent threshold, thereby requiring it to declare its stake.

A2 Milk earlier this year become New Zealand’s largest listed company by market capitalisation after announcing another bumper profit and the formation of a joint venture with the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra. . .

Loro Piana: the world’s most majestic wool :

Noted for their soft wool coats, Merino sheep are everywhere in Australia and New Zealand, and they account for more than 50% of the world’s sheep population. The thing that sets Australian/Kiwi Merino apart from wool produced in northern climates is its superfine quality, however not all Merinos are superfine.

To qualify as superfine, the wool fibres need to be 19.5 microns or less – 
a micron being a thousandth of a millimetre (the average human hair is about 60 to 70 microns). In short, the smaller the fibre, the softer and
 more comfortable it is against the skin, hence the allure for luxury brands. While Australia is home to around 75 million sheep, only 18 million produce wool finer than 19 microns. In New Zealand, there are 32 million sheep, but only a modest 2.2 million of them yield fibre under 21 microns. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 22, 2017

Consumers must be the focus: report – Sally Rae:

The need to create New Zealand provenance brands has been ranked by primary industry leaders as one of the top priorities for 2017.

KPMG’s latest Agribusiness Agenda, released last week, again ranked biosecurity as the highest priority.

It had ranked first in every survey completed, although the priority score was at its lowest level since 2012. . . 

Agri hub now open for business – Nigel Malthus:

Never mind the bricks and mortar, the Lincoln Hub is now open for business, says its recently appointed chief executive Toni Laming.

The Hub, or He Puna Karikari, brings several agricultural research and commercial entities together, to collaborate on basic and applied agricultural science.

It has five founding shareholders – Lincoln University, AgResearch, Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research and DairyNZ – and expects to attract others as it grows and develops. . .

First bull sale for Murray family since quake – Alexa Cook:

The Murray family in Clarence Valley have had their first big bull sale since the earthquake in November.

Because the road is closed to the south, the 65 buyers were flown in from Kaikōura on four different helicopters.

Over 100 bulls were up for sale from the Murray’s Matariki Hereford stud and the neighbouring Woodbank Angus stud. . . 

‘Trojan Female Technique’ could sterilise pest populations – Alexa Cook:

A new technique that could be used to eradicate pests like mice and wasps has just been proven in the laboratory on fruit flies.

The “Trojan Female Technique” is where females pass on genes that make male offspring infertile.

The head of the University of Otago’s Department of Anatomy, Neil Gemmell, said it was not a new idea to release sterile males, but creating and releasing females that produce sterile offspring was a first for pest control. . . 

Fieldays reflects positive outlook for Primary Sector:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated the National Fieldays Society for another successful event at Mystery Creek in Waikato.

“This year’s Fieldays was another success thanks to hard work from Peter Nation and his team, but also in part due to the positive outlook for the primary sector,” says Mr Guy.

“Many farmers and growers have dealt with some challenging past seasons, so it was great to feel a really positive mood across the many thousands who entered the gates. There’s a strong sense that many will be looking to use their extra forecast revenue to reinvest in their businesses. . . 

Rural confidence lifts with early frosts – Dene Mackenzie:

As early frosts and snowfalls signalled the approach of winter, confidence within the rural sector continued to build, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said yesterday.

Farmers were anticipating improving incomes during the forthcoming season.

Demand for quality properties and the shortage of supply remained constant, he said.

Figures released by the institute showed there were 25 more farm sales for the three months ended May than for the three months ended May 2016. . . 

Kūmara costs double in disastrous season:

Kūmara prices are nearly double what they were a year ago due to disastrous weather this season, growers say.

Kaipara Kūmara manager Anthony Blundell said the crop was down about 35 percent on normal years due to the wet weather that hit in March.

Mr Blundell said the season didn’t start off well with a wet spring but the biggest damage was done by the cyclones that swamped kumara fields in March. . . 


Rural round-up

June 20, 2017

Eating quality combats imitations – Annette Scott:

Grow them fast and kill them young is the recipe for the best eating quality in red meat.

And with the threat from synthetic and plant-based meats a good eating experience was critical to underpin New Zealand’s grass-fed, ethically produced red meat story, AbacusBio consultant Jason Archer said.

Older animals had more connective tissue in their muscles, which made their meat tougher, so fast-finishing made for more tenderness, Archer told farmers at a Beef + Lamb NZ beef-focused field day. . .

Synlait revises 2016 / 2017 forecast milk price to reflect current market:

Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) is forecasting a total milk price of $6.29 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season, consisting of a forecast base milk price of $6.15 kgMS and $0.14 of premium payments.

An average premium payment of $0.14 kgMS will go to Synlait’s Canterbury milk suppliers creating value behind the farm gate with seasonal and Special Milk progammes such as a2 Milk™, Grass Fed™ and Lead With Pride™. . . 

Impressed by carpet launch – Sally Rae:

Trevor Peters admits he was a bit sceptical before he headed to New York for the launch of Carrfields Primary Wool’s Just Shorn range of wool carpets and rugs.

But once there, the Otago farmer was ”pretty impressed”.

A group of farmers attended the launch last month, along with New Zealand Trade Commissioner-Consul General Beatrice Faumuina.

Mr Peters and his family operate Peters Genetics, a large-scale farming operation in Otago, running about 32,000 ewes.

All action at Holstein-Friesian conference – Sally Rae:

Holstein-Friesian breeders from throughout New Zealand will converge on Central Otago this week.

The New Zealand Holstein-Friesian (HFNZ) Association is holding its conference in Cromwell, organised by the Otago branch of the organisation.

Holstein-Friesian cattle make up more than 45% of the national dairy herd and HFNZ has more than 750 members nationally, Otago branch chairwoman Judith Ray said.

The conference theme was High Octane: Gold, Wine and Speed, with various activities organised around that, and it was ”action-packed”.

Planning began about 18 months ago and organisers wanted to ”showcase” what the region had to offer, Mrs Ray said. . . 

More irrigation work approved – Annette Scott:

The $195 million Hunter Downs Water project has received the all clear to implement its proposed irrigation scheme in South Canterbury.

Environment Minister Nick Smith has granted Hunter Downs Water requiring authority status to develop and operate the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme, effectively giving it the green light to go.

The milestone decision gave it the authority to apply to the Timaru and Waimate District Councils and Environment Canterbury for the necessary designations to implement the scheme. . . 

Fieldays showcases the tech changing farming:

A technology tsunami is set to change the way New Zealand agricultural producers do business according to ANZ’s Rural Economist Con Williams.

At Fieldays this week to talk about his latest Agri Focus research into the digital tsunami hitting the primary industries, Mr Williams said the number of apps and innovations designed to help improve agricultural businesses has exploded in recent years.

“A technology tsunami is upon the primary sectors. From meeting consumer demands around how food is produced to adapting to changing regulatory requirements, technology is poised to play a much bigger role in farm management,” Mr Williams said. . . 

Strong interest in on-farm bull sale at Rangiwahia – Jemma Brakebush:

As the bull sale season picks up around the country, the first on-farm bull sale in more than a decade was held in the small farming community of Rangiwahia, this week.

Murray and Fiona Curtis set up Riverlee Stud four years ago and held their first sale on Wednesday, to allow sheep and beef farmers to buy the bulls direct through them. , , 

What’s brown and sticky? – Thomas Lumley:

Q: What’s brown and sticky?

A: A stick!

Q: What do you call a cow on a trampoline?

A: A milk shake!

Q: Where does chocolate milk come from?

A: Brown cows!

There’s a popular news story around claiming that 7% of Americans think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

It’s not true. . . 

Wilderness Home in Fiordland National Park For Sale:

An idyllic waterfront holiday home in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, the ultimate wilderness playground, has been placed on the market for sale.

The property is one of only 25 privately-owned sections located within the majestic Fiordland National Park.

The traditional Kiwi bach is located in an area called Jamestown, which was founded in the 1870s on the shores of Lake McKerrow near the bottom of the South Island’s West Coast. . . 


Rural round-up

June 16, 2017

Mānuka genes could help fight myrtle rust – scientist:

Mānuka tree genetics has the potential to help the myrtle plant family develop resistance to myrtle rust, a scientist says.

The airborne disease has spread to Te Puke, meaning there are 46 infected properties across Northland, Waikato, Taranaki and the Bay of Plenty.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said it was no closer to containing the spread, which affects all members of the myrtle plant family – including pōhutakawa and mānuka. . .

Steady progress with Primary Growth projects – Allan Barber:

It is eight years since the Primary Growth Partnership programme was announced by the then recently elected National Government. At the end of 2016 there were 20 projects under way and just two completed, but 30th June sees the completion of FarmIQ, the largest of the red meat sector programmes. This seems to be an appropriate point to evaluate the success of PGP, in particular the six meat and two wool programmes which have been allocated total Crown and industry funding of $342 million.

The key point about PGP is its funding structure, with the taxpayer and industry putting up approximately half each, thus ensuring industry commitment to a better than even chance of a successful outcome. Nevertheless, as a general principle, the larger the amount of money invested, the greater the difficulty of measurement and the wider the potential for missing the target. . . 

Impassioned plea for rural health research funding:

The head of the national rural health group today made an impassioned plea for the government to consider much-needed rural research.

Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) says there is a strong feeling that rural health outcomes are poorer than urban health outcomes but until they have the hard data they can’t be sure whether there is a difference or understand the scale of the difference.

Earlier this year the RHAANZ presented its five most urgent priorities to government, one of which included comprehensive rural health research support. . . 

Cartel’s gonna cartel – Eric Crampton:

Canada’s dairy cartel continues to impress. After Canada negotiated increased access to Canadian markets for European cheesemakers, the dairy cartel managed to do this:

Under the terms of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Canada has agreed to allow nearly 18,000 additional tonnes of European cheese to be imported tariff free.

But CBC News has learned that when Canadian officials briefed their European counterparts on how they would allocate the quota for importing this new cheese, not everyone around Europe’s cabinet table felt Canada’s approach lived up to the spirit of the negotiations.

A European official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, characterized the state of things as a “row.” . . 

Beef and Sheep sector outline key priorities in their 2017 Manifesto: “Blueprint for partnership with the New Zealand Government”:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) are presenting the sector’s priorities to all political parties ahead of this year’s General Election.

The two organisations, who represent New Zealand sheep and beef farmers and meat processors, marketers and exporters have outlined in a manifesto a set of key priority policy areas on which to base a stronger partnership with government. 

MIA Chief Executive Tim Ritchie said the sheep and beef sector is our second largest goods exporter and a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. . . 

Launch of Māori Kiwifruit Growers Forum an industry first:

The Māori Kiwifruit Growers Forum was officially launched yesterday in Tauranga, representing a first for the kiwifruit industry.

The forum has been created to advocate for the interests of Māori growers in the sector and is a partnership between Māori kiwifruit growers, Te Puni Kōkiri and Zespri.

Minister for Māori Development, Hon Te Ururoa Flavell attended the launch at Te Hua Whenua Orchard in Welcome Bay. . . 

Finalists selected in NZ Sheep Industry Awards:

Leading farmers, scientists, a retired sheep breeder and a ground-breaking stock trading company are among the finalists selected in this year’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards.

This year’s Awards feature five people-related categories in which finalists were selected by a team of judges representing the farming and agribusiness industries.

These “people” awards sit alongside the Supplier of Year Award, where processing companies nominate a top supplier and four genetics awards, in which the top three animals in each category are selected through the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics evaluation. . . 

Kiwi entrepreneurial spirit on show at Fieldays:

From dairy to blueberries and from milk to beer, agribusiness diversification is the hot topic at this year’s National Fieldays according to ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri Mark Hiddleston.

Visiting Fieldays this week, Mr Hiddleston said many producers were looking outside their main business for ways to make their operations more profitable and resilient.

“In just half an hour I met three different dairy farmers who either have, or are in the process of, looking at other forms of milking. That might be diversifying to milking sheep or goats, or moving into something entirely different, such as hops to support the craft beer industry,” Mr Hiddleston said. . . 

Resurgent New Zealand Dollar Lowers Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Nathan Arthur advises that the rise in the New Zealand dollar generally saw corresponding lowering of local wool prices in most areas apart from fine crossbred fleece and some targeted coarser types.

Of the 7,930 bales on offer 56 percent sold. . . 

The value of a good rural school:

The integral role that a school plays in a local community is heightened in rural locations where it becomes a focal point for social activity and where a real sense of ownership is instilled among parents.

With more people seeking out lifestyle properties where they can raise their families away from the pressures of a fast-paced city, the educational opportunities on offer are very much part of the decision-making process. A good rural school is a key driver for a tree change lifestyle.

It’s not just a matter of reading, writing and arithmetic. The small country school takes on a life of its own. It’s usually a Civil Defence base, often its swimming pool is available to families after-hours via a key system, the principal will know all the children by name and will sometimes be teaching, and pet days are part of the school calendar. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people and text

A farmer’s tan from Agri 67


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 


Solution needs science not politics

June 15, 2017

Science will provide the answers to lowering dairy farming’s environmental footprint.

Modern, science-based farming is the way to achieve a future for New Zealand where dairy farming has a lower environmental footprint, says DairyNZ’s chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

His comment follows today’s announcement of the Dairy Action for Climate Change at National Fieldays 2017.

The Dairy Action for Climate Change lays down the foundation to reduce greenhouse gasses on dairy farms. The plan is spearheaded by DairyNZ, which represents all dairy farmers in New Zealand, and is in partnership with Fonterra. The plan has the support of the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Dr Mackle says dairy farmers, and the scientists working alongside them, are serious about improving the environment.

“This plan lays down the foundation for dairy’s sustained, strategic approach to a lower carbon future. We’re taking the first steps in understanding what dairy can do – in conjunction with the wider agricultural sector, plus industry and urban communities – to help meet New Zealand’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.

“Our farmers are already working on lowering emissions – they are used to rising to challenges, and they’re dedicated stewards of their land who want to do the right thing by the environment.”

Dr Mackle says addressing on-farm emissions – methane, which is formed when ruminant animals burp, and nitrous oxide, formed when nitrogen escapes into the atmosphere – is one of the most challenging issues facing the dairy and food producing sectors, globally and in New Zealand.

“Tackling the reduction of on-farm emissions is not going to be easy. It requires our Government and the agricultural sector to work together and, as such, the plan is an important part of a broader work programme underway.”

Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Farm Source, Miles Hurrell, says it is crucial to take an integrated approach to all the challenges facing dairy – from climate change and animal welfare, to the protection of waterways – and all the while maintain productivity and the profitability of dairy.

“The plan complements the environmental commitment dairy farmers have voluntarily undertaken through their work under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

“Some of their work – such as tree planting, better soil management and reducing nitrogen leaching, therefore reducing the release of nitrous oxide – is already helping to address emissions. Then there are the other science-based endeavours that are well underway, like the research to breed cows that produce fewer methane emissions, and a methane inhibiting vaccine.”

Dr Mackle adds that the Dairy Action for Climate Change dovetails with the work of the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), a joint sector and Government reference group. The BERG’s purpose is to build robust and agreed evidence on what the sector can do on-farm to reduce emissions, and to assess the costs and opportunities of doing so. The BERG’s final report in late 2017 will be necessary to inform future policy development on agricultural emissions.

“New Zealand’s agricultural output of greenhouse gas is accentuated because we have a relatively small population, and we are not heavily industrialised. In other countries where there are larger populations the greater contribution is from the transport, manufacturing, construction, and energy sectors.

“Our agricultural sector is a very efficient producer of high-quality food – food that feeds many millions, not only in our country, but also around the world.”

New Zealand is acknowledged as a world-leader for efficiently producing milk on a greenhouse gas per unit of milk basis, as identified in a 2010 report from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Dr Mackle says this position is the result of New Zealand dairy cattle being healthier and largely grass fed, unlike animals in many other agricultural countries which are fed grains and other supplements that are harvested and transported. Added to this, their animals are often housed in barns, sometimes year around, not just over the winter months.

The Dairy Action for Climate Change was launched during the opening of the 49th National Fieldays by Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett.

There is more on the DACC here.

Opposition parties and environmental activists want a substantial reduction to the national dairy herd.

That might lower New Zealand’s emissions but would add to global emissions as less efficient producers in other countries increased production to compensate for less milk from here.

We need a sustainable solution which lowers emissions here without compromising production and increasing emissions elsewhere.

That will  come from science, not politics.


Rural round-up

June 14, 2017

Man who coined Gypsy Day says controversy ‘ridiculous’:

Former Northland rural report broadcaster Goldie Wardell is amused, but slightly miffed, that a term he introduced to New Zealand’s farming lexicon is now being called derogatory, and is banned in some circles.

It’s Gypsy Day. There, we’ve said it (while we still can).

“I’ve come in to confess,” Mr Wardell announced not too penitently. “I started the expression.”

Mr Wardell’s voice sounds familiar as he relates the story of how, back in the 1980s, he coined the phrase Gypsy Day for June 1, the traditional day sharemilkers pack up their cows and households and move to a new farm. . . 

Primary Sector Science Roadmap launched:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith have tonight launched the Primary Sector Science Roadmap at the National Fieldays.

Mr Guy says science will be a key driver in lifting overall primary sector exports to the target of $64 billion by 2025.

“From climate change, to changing consumer preferences, to a greater emphasis on issues like traceability and provenance, science and technology have an important role to play in ensuring our primary industries remain globally competitive,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Smaller New Zealand wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said
Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets
wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however,
export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was
very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . . 

More success for Patersons – Sally Rae:

The Paterson family, from Gimmerburn, have added to their considerable farming successes by winning the New Zealand ewe hogget competition.

The awards night for the competition, which was in its 21st year, was held in Cromwell on Thursday.The family won both the fine wool and crossbreed categories and the overall title went to their crossbreed flock.

Father and son Allan and Simon Paterson, with their respective wives, Eris and Sarah, are the fourth and fifth generations to farm Armidale, which has been in the family since the 1880s. . . 

Positive steps towards tackling stock theft:

Federated Farmers is delighted to see the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill being drawn from the ballot to go before Parliament.

Livestock theft is not only a financial burden to farming businesses but also a risk to people’s safety. Farmers are often alone when confronting stock thieves.

“It’s frightening when you are faced with someone in a remote rural area who is most likely armed. The successful passing of this bill would show the victims of livestock rustling that the justice system is prepared to take these crimes seriously,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers’ Rural Security Spokesperson. . . 

More farmers seeking information on how to comply with water quality rules:

More Otago farmers are looking for information and advice on how to minimise their operation’s impact on water quality and comply with rules in the Otago Water Plan.

That’s one of the key findings of the Otago Regional Council’s annual survey to monitor the level of understanding and uptake among farmers about meeting their responsibilities under the Water Plan. . . 

Ravensdown Joins Agrigate Online Platform:

The Agrigate team has added another heavyweight data partner to the online tool, signing an agreement with agri-nutrient provider Ravensdown.

The agreement, signed last week, will see Ravensdown’s pasture and nutrient data added to the array of information that farmers can access using Agrigate.

Ravensdown captures and presents data on soil tests, nutrient status, pasture performance and proof of placement to drive better decisions.  . .

Live calf probiotic a world-first at Fieldays:

In a first for Fieldays, New Zealand company BioBrew is preparing to showcase CalfBrew, a live animal probiotic.

BioBrew will present its innovative product at the Callaghan Innovation Centre at this week’s Fieldays. CalfBrew is the first fresh probiotic containing live, active microbes to treat scouring and support optimal gut health in calves more effectively than current freeze-dried probiotics. As a world-first live probiotic supplement, CalfBrew has also demonstrated increased growth rate in calves. . . 

Wallace Corporation and Farm Brands Announce Merger:

Wallace Corporation Limited and Farm Brands Limited today announced the completion of the merger of their respective coproducts businesses and operations, to create Wallace Group Limited Partnership. The new multi-million dollar entity will also acquire the assets and business of Dunedin rendering business, Keep It Clean Ltd.

The merger of the two multigenerational coproducts businesses aims to optimise its processing capability, including developing higher value finished products, and establish an expanded casualty cow collection service in the South Island. . .  

Dairy sector well placed to take advantage of technology revolution:

Higher dairy payouts have put dairy farmers in a good position to take advantage of new technologies that will redefine farm efficiency in the years ahead, according to ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri, Mark Hiddleston.

“While diary and other commodity markets remain changeable, a higher payout provides an opportunity for our dairy farming customers to pay down some of the debt they’ve built up, and to reinvest in their businesses,” Mr Hiddleston said. . . 


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