Rural round-up

July 11, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Farm worked by same family for 171 years:

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

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

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

Most dairy farmers will run at loss this season:

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

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

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

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

West Coast wetlands protected by Nature Heritage Fund:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New possibilities for NZ urea production:

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

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

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

 

Success at Fieldays means boost for Kiwi economy:

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

April 13, 2015

Shearing king David Fagan calls time – Libby Wilson:

Shearing king David Fagan had a fitting send-off to his competitive career last night, cheered on by a capacity hometown crowd in his final shear in Te Kuiti.

Having shorn 26,000 sheep in the course of his 640 open wins stretching back 37 years, the 16-time national champion put down the handpiece after contesting the Running of the Sheep in his Te Kuiti home.

His final contest came against his nephew James Fagan, whose father John beat David to second place in the 1984 Golden Shears. . .

Running of the sheep craws big crowd to Te Kuiti – Mike Mather:

A mob of hundreds of determined sheep made their way down Te Kuiti’s main street on Saturday, flanked by thousands of cheering humans.

The ovine athletes were the unwitting participants in the Running of the Sheep, an annual event that is part of the town’s Great New Zealand Muster, held to celebrate its claim of being the country’s sheep capital, and which also includes the New Zealand Shearing Championships.

Although a tad skitterish at the start of their run, the flock behaved in a very un-sheeplike manner, running straight and true down the centre of Rora St, through the centre of the town.

Waitomo District Council community development co-ordinator Donna Macdonald said she was very impressed with the behaviour of both the 342 four-legged runners and their two-legged audience. . .

Nitrate absorption trialled – Allison Beckham:

Scientists are trialling a filter system which they hope will provide dairy farmers with a simple and cost effective way of removing nitrates and phosphorus before they reach waterways.

A nitrate catcher was commissioned recently near Waituna Lagoon, southeast of Invercargill, and a phosphorus catcher will be built nearby soon. . . .

Blazed a trail in sales – Sally Rae:

Looking back, Katrina Allan wonders how she ever managed to juggle motherhood with work and tertiary study.

But, with a determination to finish her university studies before her son started his, Mrs Allan (44) did manage, finishing a year before he started, although she joked that she never wanted to see another textbook again.

Mrs Allan has the distinction of being the first female salesperson at Alliance Group, having worked for the company for 17 years. . .

Securing Glenfern Sanctuary’s future:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has announced the Government will contribute towards a joint bid to buy Glenfern Sanctuary on Great Barrier Island for the nation.

The Nature Heritage Fund, which is allocated at the Minister’s discretion, will put a significant amount of funding towards a consortium including the Auckland Council and Great Barrier Local Board looking to purchase Glenfern.

The sanctuary, in Port Fitzroy in the north of the island, was founded by the late sailing champion Tony Bouzaid in 1992 and is now for sale. . .

We don’t know how lucky we are – Chris Lewis:

As New Zealand Dairy farmers we often take for granted the sophistication of our industry and the relative ease we have in producing food for the nation and the World. April will not be one of those months for me.

I received a phone call last month from a Tear Fund organiser about this woman who was coming over from Sri Lanka to talk about the benefits of a project that has been designed and supported by TEAR Fund and the New Zealand Government, with Kiwi expertise to improve milk quality.  She is Selina Prem Kumar and is the Director of the successful dairy project in Sri Lanka. Her story will shock and move you.

The Wanni Dairy Regeneration programme she heads, started during the protracted civil war in Sri Lanka, has brought together both Singhalese and Tamil small hold dairy farmers for the common purpose of raising their incomes and revitalizing the dairy industry which stalled during the conflict. . .

A hill lambing made simple:

Zan Kirk, from Low Kilbride, in Dumfries, has struck upon a novel way of making hill lambing that little easier if you are dealing with small numbers, perhaps on the scale that smallholders deal with.

‘There comes a time in everyone’s life when things need to be made easier, computers help in many ways, but not with lambing. So here is the fail-safe way to a simple, stress-free lambing – keep your pet lambs and lamb them!
We have been doing this for some time now and most of our flock started out life as pet lambs. This removes the inherent fear that most sheep have of humans and means that, as we are getting on and still lambing outside, if we need to catch a ewe, most respond to a ‘shoogle’ of cake. They can then be caught, popped into the transport box and taken up to the shed to be lambed in comfort, and with warm water.
On Sunday, my most pet ewe lamb from last year lambed, albeit not in the best place – right in the middle of the field! I wandered up, asked her if she needed some help and she just sat there pushing. I helped lamb her, saw the lamb was breathing fine, told her how clever she was, gave her an hour and brought her into the shed for her tea and toast. . .


Parker mistaken about Labour’s mistakes

October 28, 2010

David Parker has admitted he got something wrong:

Parker now says he approved too many land sales when he was Land Information Minister in the Labour government and that Labour “didn’t get it right on farm sales”.

That statement would have a lot more validity if he gave examples of which sales were a mistake and why. What are the new owners doing to their properties and its produce that makes him think the land would be better in New Zealand ownership?

He was concerned about the growing asset inequality in NZ. “Assets ought to be priced within reach of ordinary NZers.”

“Before the global financial crisis most successful bidders for Kiwi land were NZers, Parker said. Since the crisis there had been a significant change and the only way to sustain high prices was to sell on the international market, effectively shutting out the average NZer.

What he omits to say is that one of the successful bidders for a large amount of New Zealand farm land between 1999 and 2008 was the government which paid well above market rates for high country properties. Most notable was St James Station, which the Labour government bought for $40 million, plundering the Nature Heritage Fund in the process.

This is the mistake he ought to be admitting. While he’s doing a mea culpa he could admit the tax and spend policies his government practised were also wrong. They contributed to the blowout in bureaucracy and the housing bubble which contributed to asset inequality by putting urban property prices out of the reach of many.

With no evidence to support his statement on lands sales, he’s mistaken in thinking he made a mistake by approving too many. He’s  mistaken again in not admitting Labour’s mistake in paying far too much for high country farms and poor policies which put the productive sector into recession long before the global financial crisis.


Cullen culling himself?

February 25, 2009

A party ousted from government after three terms needs to cull some of those who’ve been there, done that and will be blamed for doing it,  if it’s to present new faces and fresh direction at the next election.

Those who don’t  go voluntarily face the ignomy of a public ousting of the dead wood, as happened with National after 1999.

The Dominion Post reports that Michael Cullen  is not waiting to be culled and is planning to step down in the next couple of months.

There is no doubting his intelligence and wit, but the latter was sometimes harsh and I think his reputation as a prudent Finance Minister was ill founded.

New Zealand was in recession months before most other countries and he must bear some of the responsbility for that because of the policies of over taxing and over spending.

He and his colleagues sqaundered the good economic years of the noughties. We’ve been paying for that with restricted growth for years and the bill will get bigger.

The ACC  blowouts ought to have been in the PREFU and he left other financial timebombs in expenditure promised but not budgeted for on top of reckless spending such as the purchase of St James Station at an inflated price which has left the Nature Heritage Fund’s coffers all but empty.

In December Bill English identified gaps in the budget he inherited including:

* $1 billion for the insulation fund agreed to with the Greens in the last few months of the last government (though this was flagged as fiscal risk in Treasury documents).

* Only $8 million was set aside in 2009/2010 as part of the ongoing $600 million promised in the budget for the growth of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

* Other spending had been “creatively funded” such as the $40 million to buy the St James Station which was funded by “cleaning out” the Nature Heritage Fund for the next four years.

* The need for unbudgeted government payments to ACC would also “unexpectedly” increase government debt by $1.2 billion over the next four years.

Keeping Stock reminded me of the train set Cullen bought. The multi-thousands of hecatres of land expensively purchased through tenure review and now in the DOC estate are another monster he’s created with an appetite for taxpayers’ dollars.

He apologised for the quip he made in his maiden speech about getting stuck in to farmers:

 “I’m proud of the fact that my secondary education was not paid for by the taxpayers of New Zealand but by the farmers of Canterbury and Hawkes Bay [he was given a scholarship to Christ’s College]. I ripped them off for five years then, and I shall get stuck into them again in the next few years.”

But his actions speak louder than his words. His rich prick  sneer at John Key was just one of many examples which show he resented wealth and didn’t understand wealth creation. He got stuck into not just farmers but all taxpayers and we’re all the poorer for that.


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