Rural round-up

19/02/2021

Gore estimates cost of $300m to comply with freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

A small Southland council with less than 6000 ratepayers is potentially facing a $300m bill to comply with new freshwater regulations.

Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said meeting the cost of the Government’s compliance was “the perfect financial storm.’’

The government’s new rules aim to improve freshwater quality in a generation.

Councils countrywide were now realising the enormity of the costs involved in complying with the rules, Parry said. . .

UK warned to honour FTA commitments – Peter Burke:

Plans for the United Kingdom to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have come with a warning from New Zealand dairy companies.

Dairy Companies of New Zealand (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey says while he welcomes the intent of the UK to join the group, he wants the NZ government to send a strong message to the UK about how it must honour its commitment to freeing up global trade. He says before being admitted to the CPTTP, as the first nation outside the trans-pacific region to benefit from it, the UK must fully embrace free trade. He wants actions, not just words.

Bailey says the UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation.

But he says the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations.

 

Impact of irrigation on the soil – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Soil organic matter was a hot topic for environmentalists, ecologists and primary producers in 2020.

It is likely to remain at the centre of debate this year as well.

All parties agree it is an important factor of soil quality; the arguments are about how to look after it.

Soil organic matter is increased or decreased by management. Because farmers and growers rarely alter one factor of management in isolation, the drivers of an effect on soil organic matter after a change in management can be difficult to identify. . . 

Holgate ready to tackle new role – Neal Wallace:

Long gone are the days of a bank’s sole function to take an investor’s money and lend it to borrowers. Today, banks are becoming intimately involved in the businesses in which they invest. Neal Wallace spoke to Rabobank’s new head of sustainable business development Blake Holgate.

Blake Holgate has some big questions for which he hopes to find some answers.

Rabobank’s newly appointed head of sustainable business development says near the top of the list is defining exactly what sustainability means in the context of New Zealand farming.

Defining the much maligned word is central to the future of NZ agriculture, and Holgate is confident that meeting such a standard, once it is defined, is achievable. . . 

We’ll eat huhu grubs and pigs’ nipples, so why not possum? – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand is famous for its meat exports and love of a Sunday roast but there are some meats Kiwis have never taken to.

Although some like to dabble in the unusual – crowds flock to events like Hokitika’s famous Wildfoods Festival to down huhu grubs and pigs’ nipples – for many, a venison steak is about as adventurous as dinner is likely to get.

But, with a veritable feast of wild and surplus animals on our doorstep, that needn’t be the case.

So, what’s our beef with alternative meats? . . 

The bogus burger blame  – Frank Mitloehner:

One of the most popular meals in America is one of the most maligned.

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our lifetime, which we must address with urgency, but swapping out a hamburger once a month isn’t how we do it. While the burger does have an impact on our climate, which we’re working to reduce, it’s simply not the climate killer it’s made out to be.

Animal agriculture, including ruminant animals like the cows that belch methane as they digest food, has an environmental footprint. That’s a fact. According to the EPA, animal ag is responsible for 4 percent of the United States’ direct greenhouse gas emissions. Of that amount, beef cattle are in for 2.2 percent. If you want to use the more encompassing cradle-to-grave formula, beef cattle still only account for 3.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The dairy sector is responsible for 1.9 percent. (Lifecycle assessments are the preferred method of measuring a sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it’s not always the most appropriate, which I’ll explain in a minute.)

The greenhouse gas emissions of our four-legged friends? Clearly, they’re not nothing. But they’re not everything, either.  The elephant in the room (or rather, in the atmosphere) is fossil fuel. Its sectors combined account for nearly 80 percent of direct U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. There are no life-cycle assessments for these sectors, which is why direct emissions is most appropriate when making comparisons between sectors; between animal agriculture and transportation, for example. . . .


Rural round-up

08/02/2021

Climate focus highlights need for water storage – Vanessa Winning :

We should no longer be afraid of the conversation about water storage, dams, and reservoirs in the right places, as they are necessary for a sustainable, inclusive, productive and decarbonised economy, chief executive of Irrigation NZ Vanessa Winning writes.

It has been hot, very hot, especially in the central north island, Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago areas.

Then it was cool – still dry for most of us, but temperatures dropped a minimum of 10 degrees in the space of 24 hours in the height of summer.

Southerlies have settled into the lower North Island and we may get a storm next week in the South. Climate scientists tell us that these swings are expected to get more extreme all year round. . . 

Climate hurdle a high bar for farmers – Tom O’Connor:

Farmers in Waikato and across the country are to be commended for their courage in facing up to what they rightly say are the daunting changes ahead them following a report by the Climate Change Commission.

The 800-page report is wide-sweeping, thorough, challenging, hugely ambitious and more than a little frightening for those locked into our extensive agricultural industry and those in wide-spread supporting industries.

In a first draft of the report, dealing with carbon budgets, released last week, the commission has suggested that dairy, sheep and beef cattle numbers must be reduced by 15 per cent by the end of the decade. That is a very short time frame for such a major change and some probably won’t make it.

Fortunately, we seemed to have passed through the phase of blind opposition to the concept of climate change. For about thirty years a number of sceptics challenged almost every scientist who presented evidence of climate change or predicted what climate change would do. . . 

Exports remain strong – Neal Wallace and Gerald PIddock:

Farm gate prices for New Zealand dairy and meat exports have defied economic fallout from the global pandemic and are trading at above long-term averages.

Demand from China and Asian economies emerging from the covid-19 pandemic are underpinning the buoyant prices, but there are warnings a strengthening exchange rate and prolonged supply chain disruption will put pressure on returns.

Fonterra this week lifted its farm gate milk price guidance range from $6.90 to $7.50kg/MS, up from $5.90 to $6.90 at the start of the season, potentially making this the second consecutive year of a $7-plus milk price. . . 

The dream team: Jess, David and Bronwyn Hill :

A Raglan dairy farming family set up a wee milk bottling plant three years ago.

Then, the Hill family produced 30 litres of drinking milk a week and delivered it to local customers. Now they bottle and deliver 5000 litres – in one-litre bottles – from the west coast to the east coast.

Their website has a rolling tally of the number of plastic milk bottles they’ve saved from re-cycling or landfill – over 150,000  and counting.

Jess Hill says customers are loving the glass bottles and the fact they’re supporting a local enterprise.   . . 

Mustering at Molesworth – Sally Round:

It’s an early start for the musterers at Molesworth Station. The bulls are out with the cows for the mating season and the stockmen need to beat the heat. Country Life producer Sally Round spent a day with the musterers, the farmer and the cook, peeling back some of the mystique of New Zealand’s most famous farm.

Duncan, Connell, Josh and Liam  are up before the birds.

Head torches on, they catch their horses before tucking into a pile of bacon and eggs in the kitchen at Tarndale.

The homestead there is one of Molesworth Station’s far-flung camps where the musterers can have a feed and bed down for the night while working on the furthest reaches of the 180,470-hectare property.

Molesworth, in the backcountry of Marlborough, has a mystique and mana which few other high country farms can match. . . 

 

Are cows accelerating climate change? – Stu McNish:

Cows have rapidly moved into the crosshairs of climate change and diet. But Frank M. Mitloehner of University of California, Davis says much – if not most – of what you think you know about ruminants and climate change is inaccurate.

His findings align with those of climate scientist Myles Allen, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor and Oxford professor who says the global warming carbon equivalency formula commonly applied to livestock is incorrect.

Both Mitloehner and Allen point to the impact a stable or declining herd has on methane production. Add in improving dietary and animal husbandry practices, along with methane-capturing systems, and the picture for livestock farms in northern hemisphere countries is positive. . . 


Rural round-up

31/01/2021

Changes coming for farmers, consumers – Hamish MacLean:

The Climate Change Commission will release on Monday its recommendations on our national response to our obligations under the Paris Agreement, specifically a plan to meet emissions-reduction targets. How we get our food and farming is likely to be in the spotlight. Hamish MacLean reports.

Livestock numbers in the lower South Island could come under the climate change spotlight as New Zealand starts to make the far-reaching changes it needs to to reach its carbon emissions goals.

New Zealand has kept the methane produced on farms, one of its biggest sources of greenhouse gases, out of its net-zero 2050 emissions target.

But when the Climate Change Commission releases its draft advice on Monday, future reductions in emissions from livestock digestion will be part of the discussion. . .

Final call for wool donations – Neal Wallace:

Crossbred wool may be lacking consumer interest and economic relevance for most sheep farmers, but it is underpinning two Southland charitable events.

The Bales4Blair project is using donated wool to insulate the Southland Charity Hospital being built in Invercargill and has one more week before donations close.

The Riverton Lions Club charity lamb shearing fundraiser held this week, with volunteers expected to shear 2300 lambs at the Woodlands AgResearch farm. . . 

Kaikōura wetlands: ‘100 years to destroy, another 100 to restore‘ – Anan Zaki:

Precious wetlands in Kaikōura that have been drained and degraded for generations, are now being lovingly restored and protected – in projects that landowners and farmers hope will inspire others to do the same.

Those behind the restoration work say changing attitudes among farmers are helping create more awareness about protecting natural habitat in farms.

Environment Canterbury (regional council), which is supporting the work, said although it will take decades for the wetlands to fully recover, there are already promising signs.

About five minutes’ drive from the Kaikōura township is the home of Barb Woods. . .

Fonterra joins with Royal DSM to lower carbon footprint:

Fonterra and Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and sustainable living, are teaming up to work on reducing on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in New Zealand.

While the organisations have a long-standing working relationship, the new collaboration is based around DSM’s feed additive product Bovaer®, which effectively and consistently reduces methane emissions from cows by over 30 percent in non-pasture-based farming systems.

The question that needs answering now is: Can it do the same in New Zealand’s pasture-based farming systems? . . 

High sugar grass ranks as key profit driver :

Profit for some NZ dairy farmers set to increase through innovative ryegrass.

Dairy farmers in parts of New Zealand could generate hundreds of dollars of additional profit per hectare by sowing an innovative High Sugar Grass.

The 2021 DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI), released in January, identifies Germinal New Zealand’s AberGain AR1 High Sugar Grass as a leading five star cultivar for the South Island and lower North Island – making it one of the most profitable ryegrass varieties for dairy farmers in these regions. . .

Novel trait clarification could prove significant – Sean Pratt:

Health Canada plans to publish a new guidance document that could have a profound impact on crop breeding in this country, says an industry official.

The document will clarify what the government deems to be plants with novel traits, which are crops that are subject to regulation.

Seed companies hope the new definition will create a more predictable and transparent system for crop breeders.

“We’re encouraged to see that the government is taking this very seriously,” said Ian Affleck, vice-president of plant biotechnology with CropLife Canada. . . 


Rural round-up

19/01/2021

Why we can’t plant our way out of climate change – Marc Daalder:

As New Zealand gears up to fight climate change, experts warn that we need to actually reduce emissions, not just plant trees to offset our greenhouse gases, Marc Daalder reports

This year is shaping up to be a major one for climate policy. Between the Climate Change Commission releasing its recommendations around our Paris target and emissions budgets and a major climate summit in Glasgow in November, 2021 is the year the New Zealand Government will finally lay out in detail its plans to fight climate change.

Ahead of February 1, when the Commission will release drafts of its advice for consultation, experts warn that we shouldn’t be taken in by the allure of trees as a silver bullet. It’s true that major reforestation will be crucial to slowing global warming (and has added biodiversity benefits as well), because all plants sequester carbon breathed in from the atmosphere. . . 

Daigou disaster – Elbow Deep:

It is surprising how quickly a company’s fortunes can change; the A2 Milk Company (A2MC) played a dangerous high-stakes game, relying heavily on an informal network of Chinese students and personal shoppers to distribute much of its product into China. It’s a game that has cost other companies dearly in the past.

Daigou, buying on behalf, is a network of Chinese nationals living in or visiting Australia who buy local products and ship them back home to groups of friends, customers cultivated via the social media app WeChat. It is not uncommon for Chinese tour groups to visit stores like the Chemist Warehouse and buy products in bulk, much to the ire of locals.

Such is the demand from China for Australian packaged products that in 2019 a Sydney store owner was found to have stockpiled 4,000 1kg tins of baby formula ready for export. . . .

Concerns over shearer ‘bidding wars’ – Gerald Piddock:

Reports of unofficial bidding wars among Australian farmers to secure shearers has a New Zealand shearing boss worried it could lure Kiwi shearers across the Tasman to chase the money, leaving the industry short-staffed.

The shortage of shearers in Australia due to covid-19 restrictions meant some farmers were paying shearers 20-50% premiums per sheep above the usual rate, the ABC reported.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford told ABC farmers were offering shearers A$4-$5/head to shear sheep. The minimum pay rate to shear a sheep in Australia is A$3.24.

Prior to the covid-19 border restrictions, these jobs would have been taken up by NZ shearers. . . 

Exchange rate a pain point for meat export – Neal Wallace:

A wildly fluctuating exchange rate is causing headaches for meat exporters. Silver Fern Farms (SFF) says between October and November the NZ-US exchange rate rose from $US0.65 to $US0.71, wiping $140 a head off beef and up to $11 off a lamb.

As of late this week the exchange rate was $US0.72.

In a Christmas update podcast, SFF’s supply chain manager Dan Boulton says in addition to exchange rate fluctuation, the other headwind facing exporters as they enter peak production, is the congested global supply chain.

This is causing issues with container availability, shipping schedules and port access. . . 

Tractor industry remains optimistic for 2021:

The tractor sales industry finished 2020 on a strong note with December sales up 18.4 % on 2019.

Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president Kyle Baxter says that while 2020 definitely posed challenges for the industry, the current mood of members is positive.

Overall tractor sales for 2020 were down 15.3% compared with 2019, with sales for the bigger machines (375+ HP) particularly affected with a drop of 25%. . . 

Dairy markets stable despite Covid challenges – Carlene Dowie:

Global dairy markets appear to be weathering the COVID-19 storm with prices stable despite pandemic-induced changes in demand in key markets.

The Australian Milk Value Portal’s latest Global Dairy Update says resilience in demand for dairy products is underpinning the market.

International analysts are also pointing to stability – with ANZ in New Zealand last week lifting its forecast farmgate price there by 7.5 per cent while the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s dairy price index jumped for the seventh month in a row in December.

The Milk Value Portal’s Nanna Moller said the market outlook was mostly bullish, despite differences in global markets, with slowing growth in milk supply in Europe and Oceania and sustained demand for consumer staples. . . 


Rural round-up

16/01/2021

Shearer toughs it out to set world record – Sandy Eggleston:

It was tough at the end” but Gore shearer Megan Whitehead battled the afternoon blues to set a world shearing record.

She bettered Emily Welch’s 13-year solo women’s nine-hour record of 648 lambs after shearing 661 near Gore yesterday.

Whitehead (24) said the last session was the hardest.

“[The lambs] were quite kicky and I was struggling mentally, trying to stay positive and get over it. . .

Waiting for a ray of sunshine – Annette Scott:

Summer is a long time coming for Canterbury arable farmers waiting to get their crops off the paddocks.

While little bits of harvest have been done here and there, there are a few farmers getting itchy feet as they wait for the sun to shine, arable industry grains vice-chair Brian Leadley says.

“It’s a case of grey overcast days, the ground is full of moisture from the rain over Christmas and New Year, and that’s holding humidity levels up,” he said. . .

Generations bring home the bacon – Kayla Hodge:

It is a meaty piece of family history.

Oamaru’s Campbells Butchery has always been in a safe pair of hands, with six generations of the Campbell family involved in the business over the past 109 years.

The business was started in 1912 by Robert Campbell and was taken over by Robert’s sons Laurie and Bruce, before Laurie’s son Roy took over in 1975.

Roy’s wife Heather also joined the business, and his son Tony started working there in 1980 before taking over in the 1990s. . . 

No end in sight for shipping disruptions – Neal Wallace:

Exporters scrambling to find containers and shipping space are being warned the issue is unlikely to be resolved for this year’s peak export season.

Shipping rates to New Zealand have increased fourfold since April, access to shipping containers is being hampered by port congestion caused by resurgent global demand some vessels are not backloading empty containers.

The problem has been accentuated by industrial action at Australian ports and capacity issues and a skilled worker shortage at the Port of Auckland. . .

Blueberry season delayed but going well – Luisa Girao:

A Southland blueberry orchard manager is grateful the operation has not been hit as hard as those of Central Otago’s fruitgrowers despite a late start to the season.

Blueberry Country general manager Simon Bardon said the Otautau orchard would usually start its season around new year but the wet ground meant a delay of about two weeks.

However, the hiccup did not dampen his enthusiasm for growing blueberries.

Mr Bardon said he was really excited about this season and hoped the orchard reached its target. . .

No bull: Hereford stud relies only on AI – Brian Eishold:

Relying purely on artificial insemination allows Bill Kee to focus his attention more closely on breeding objectives in his Hereford stud herd in Victoria’s east.

The former lawyer turned stud principal and dairy farmer’s son knows a thing or two about cattle but says his out-of-the-box thinking was perhaps due to his experience in law and his belief that change is not necessarily all that bad.

Mr Kee along with his wife, Minnie, run Warringa Herefords at Sarsfield. . .


Rural round-up

15/01/2021

Winter grazing costs climb – Neal Wallace:

Winter grazing prices for dairy cows are rising in Southland and Otago as farmers make changes to meet new freshwater regulations.

Adapting to those new regulations does not appear to have caused a reduction in graziers for the coming winter, but an Invercargill farm consultant warns that may not be the case in future, as they will require resource consent and face more stringent conditions.

“In the medium to long-term there is going to be pressure on dairy winter grazing,” AgriBusiness Ltd farm management consultant Deane Carson said.

The regulations were announced in September and some of the winter grazing policies have already been reviewed by a government-appointed working group which made recommendations prior to Christmas. . . 

GHG pricing will see farmers exit – Fitch :

Fitch Group expects marginal livestock producers to exit the New Zealand market in the coming years as government greenhouse gas (GHG) emission pricing starts to bite behind the farm gate.

In its outlook for the NZ agriculture sector, Fitch Solutions says that while it expects the livestock and milk production sectors to adapt to planned GHG pricing from 2025, methane reduction targets will be a greater challenge to farms, with rising on-farm costs hitting less profitable farmers harder.

But some farms may benefit from selling carbon credits through emissions trading, as well as the ability to sell meat at a premium to environmentally-conscious consumers.

Fitch notes while NZ will be the first country to introduce compulsory emissions pricing for the agriculture sector, it expects most farms to adapt to emission regulations – outside of methane – without having to reduce livestock numbers. . . 

Drought hits season’s lamb numbers – Peter Burke:

Drought in the North Island had a significant impact on the number of lambs tailed in the first half of this season.

According to Beef+Lamb NZ’s latest economic report, the total number of lambs tailed in the North Island was down 4.8% meaning a decline of 546,000 head to 10.8 million. This is in contrast to the South Island where the total number of lambs increased by 189,000 head, an increase of 1.6%, for a total lamb crop of 12.1 million

Overall, the report says total number of lambs produced this season is 357,000 head less than spring 2019. However, despite the problems with the drought, the overall picture is far from gloomy. . . 

Dry weather warning for lifestyle block farmers – Dr Clive Dalton:

This is the month to start and take seriously the warnings of another dry summer.

The rain most parts had in November (always a critical month) and December will have been enough. The trouble is that January is still “holiday month” and you don’t want to become miserable to friends and family about a drought coming, and precautions against fires on the block.

But it is a good time to check up with neighbours as it’s surprising how few folk on small blocks know their neighbours, especially after new subdivisions and new massive houses suddenly appear over the fence. . . 

The power of good facilitation :

“Without a facilitator, we would just have done that farmer thing and sat round, shuffled our feet and waited for someone else to say something,” says Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group member Reece Cleland.

Cleland, who farms sheep and beef cattle at Springfield in Central Canterbury, is part of an RMPP Action Group focused on members better understanding their farm finances and lifting productivity.

The RMPP Action Network model supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses to work together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help them to make positive changes on-farm. . . 

Veganuary? You’d be better going back to basics…. – Hannah Jackson:

The message is let’s stop eating meat for a month and together we’ll save the planet.

What makes this ironic is that whoever came up with the concept has chosen the month when the UK has the most limited range of homegrown seasonal fruit and vegetables available to encourage everyone to swap diets!

So, to cater for this trend, we find ourselves flying ‘trendy vegan friendly’ foods like avocados and almond milk, thousands of miles just to fulfil the Veganuary-based demand.

Let’s take the avocado, as it is so popular within the vegan diet. . . 


Rural round-up

09/01/2021

Feds call on government to correct misleading water stats – Neal Wallace:

The Government has been accused of using selective freshwater quality data and analysis to mislead public opinion on the true health of our waterways.

Federated Farmers says the Government’s freshwater quality analysis is so deficient and its public statements so selective that it misleads the public to believe our waterways are worse than they actually are.

Its Our Freshwater 2020 report provides examples of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and Statistics New Zealand using selective data in press statements on reports on the state of freshwater.

Federated Farmers is calling on the MfE and StatsNZ to publicly correct or clarify assertions they have made and to change their methodology.  . .

Putting the bite on 5 myths about meat – Simon Edwards:

If one of your New Year resolutions was to do better for your health and the planet by eating less meat, thumbs up to you.   Can’t fault the desire to be a more conscious consumer.

But before you entirely swap out beef steaks and rack of lamb for eggplant and lentils, you might check out the new edition of The Role of Red Meat in Healthy and Sustainable New Zealand Diets.  Released last month, it’s the fourth edition of a report that captures the evidence base underpinning the ongoing nutritional work of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

It’s just livestock farmer spin?  Well, 20 of the 88 pages in the report are swallowed by references to national and international research and scientific papers covering health, food systems and sustainability.  And cons feature with the pros – for example, the report notes that evidence for the carcinogenicity (ability or tendency to produce cancer) of processed meats is “convincing”, and the need for our sheep and beef sector to continue work on improving its impact on water quality is acknowledged

Retracing our wheel-marks – Steve Wyn-Harris:

When I started writing this column 25 years ago, we had two small lads and a third about to make an appearance.

The three of them were under five for a year until they started drifting off to school.

Busy times, and when I see others now with something similar, I’m reminded how great those times were but also pleased that the busyness, the constant vigilance required and the turmoil are well behind us.

One of my greatest pleasures was taking all three out on the two-wheeler with two sitting in front and the youngest in the backpack. . .

 

Cow production improved by genetic research and tech :

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) say continued investment in gene discovery and genetic analysis technology is allowing their farmer shareholders to improve cow production valued in the millions.

Investment into the understanding of bovine genetics undertaken by LIC scientists indicates farmers could be missing out on production to the tune of up to the tune of up to $10 million each year.

The co-operative spent $16 million on research and development during the 2019/20 season.

The discovery of genetic variations have been made from the farmer-owned co-operative’s database of genotyped cows and bulls and validated through on-farm inspections. . . 

Envy becomes the apple of global eye:

T&G Global are predicting that their Envy apple will become a billion-dollar brand by 2025. The apple had a record season in 2020, with the entire New Zealand crop sold well before the end of the year.

In 2020, 1.9 million tray carton equivalents (TCEs) of New Zealand grown Envy were sold, a 23% increase on the previous year across the United States, China and Asia.

This was part of a wider Envy sales programme of TCEs per annum, grown in both hemispheres.

T&G Global’s chief executive Gareth Edgecombe says that despite the market volatility caused by Covid-19, Envy sales have remained strong and the company is moving quickly to plant new trees to meet global consumer demand. . . 

Virginia Tech researchers find that removal of dairy cows would have minimal impact on greenhouse emissions – Max Esterhuizen:

The removal of dairy cows from the United States would only slightly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while reducing essential nutrient supply, Virginia Tech researchers say.

The dairy industry in the United States is massive. It supplies dietary requirements to the vast majority of the population.

This same industry also contributes approximately 1.58 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. A commonly suggested solution to reduce greenhouse gas output has been to reduce or eliminate this industry in favor of plant production.

A team of Virginia Tech researchers wanted to uncover the actual impact that these cows have on the environment. . . 


Rural round-up

19/12/2020

Open letter to Prime Minister Ardern re Immigration NZ border exemption confusion– Julie South:

Dear Prime Minister (and Minister Faafoi & Ms Standford)

Open Letter:  clarification sought on rationale used for border exemption denials for health care workers

I’m writing this Open Letter with the hope you’ll be able to answer my questions because it appears no one else in your government is able to.

There are quite a few questions in this letter, so to make it easy for you, I’ve highlighted them in blue.  I’ve also provided some background information to give you context.

I’m hoping you can help me because my colleagues and I are struggling to understand the rationale applied by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in recent border exemption denials for the health care workers I specialise in finding jobs for. . . 

Shares in a2 tumble as company slashes forecast – Catherine Harris:

Shares in dairy company a2 have plunged more than 20 per cent on Friday as the company slashed its forecast to reflect a longer than expected recovery in its some of its selling channels.

The glamour stock’s share price fell more than 23 per cent to $10.78 in late afternoon trading, after a2 downgraded its revenue forecast for the first half to $670 million, and between $1.40 billion to $1.55b for the full year.

That was well down on 2020’s stellar full year revenue of $1.73b, and its September guidance of $1.8b to $1.9b, with $725m to $775m for the first half. . . 

A new lease on life – Neal Wallace:

Torrid life experiences proved to be Lindsay Wright’s apprenticeship for work with the Rural Support Trust in Southland. Neal Wallace talks to the former Wendonside farmer about the scratches and bruises that life has served up to him.

Lindsay Wright agonised for months about what to do with his fourth-generation family farm.

The uncertainty was adding to his depression but in the end, the decision only took a few minutes to make once he started working with a counsellor to address his health issues.

She asked him three questions: Did he want to stay as he was? Did he want to sell it? Did he want to employ a manager? . . 

Alliance demonstrates agility in tough year:

Shareholders at the Alliance Group Annual Meeting this week were told the cooperative showed agility in an unprecedented year as a result of Covid-19 and adverse weather events.

Last month, Alliance Group announced an underlying profit of $27.4 million.

Adjusted for a one-off event of ‘donning and doffing’, the annual profit result was $7.5 million before tax.

The red meat co-operative achieved a record turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

Lawyers called in over 119 year old mistake – David Williams:

Officials want to exclude a reserve from a Crown pastoral lease, which might spark a court battle, David Williams reports

When Lukas Travnicek flew over Canterbury’s Mt White Station he’d done his research.

The Czech Republic native, and New Zealand resident, knew the average rainfall of the Crown pastoral lease property, which borders the Arthur’s Pass National Park, and factored its 40,000 hectares (about a quarter of Stewart Island) into his development plans, should he buy it.

“I saw it from the chopper, the very first time and they didn’t want me to land because they said that it would be disturbing for the manager and you’re not sure if you really want to buy it. But I made the pilot land.” . . 

Govt must listen to farmers on freshwater rules:

The Government must listen to feedback from farmers on its freshwater rules,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

Stuff reports that the Southland Advisory Group has recommended pugging rules and resowing dates be scrapped from the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

“ACT has said from the outset that the rules are impractical and will seriously impact on production.

Last week, an Economic Impact Report on Land and Water Management in the Ashburton District suggested the rules would reduce farm profitability by 83 percent a year. . . 

The mystery of Tekapo’s disappearing lupins: Who killed the social media star? – Brook Sabin:

It’s one of New Zealand’s most iconic shots: Lake Tekapo, the mountains and a bright glow of purple. You probably know what purple I’m talking about. Yes, the “L” word – “lupins”.

Mackenzie Country is known around the world for its lupins; before Covid-19 Lake Tekapo would often have traffic jams around lupin hotspots.

The trouble is, when some strike that perfect Instagram pose – little do they know they’re actually frolicking among weeds.

Lupinus polyphyllus (which to be fair, sounds like the plant equivalent of an STI) is commonly known as the russel lupin, or just “that purple Instagram flower”. It is the weed equivalent of 1080; opinions are bitterly divided. . . 


Rural round-up

01/12/2020

Over 200 farmers challenge low slope maps – Neal Wallace:

More than 230 farmers have raised issues with the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) over the accuracy of its low-slope maps.

The online maps, part of the Essential Freshwater Policy, identify slopes of 10 degrees or less for the purposes of stock exclusion and permitted intensive winter grazing.

But the MfE maps have been roundly criticised for being inaccurate.

In response to a question from Farmers Weekly, a Ministry statement says around 200 people have filled out the online form and another 30 have sent information via email. . .

Beech trees herald huge eco venture – Guy Williams:

It is billed as New Zealand’s largest commercially funded native reforestation project. Two years ago, the Otago Daily Times unveiled Treespace Queenstown Ltd’s plans to reforest a high country farm with a wilding tree problem. Two months ago, the planting of beech trees on Mt Dewar Station began. Reporter Guy Williams talks to the man behind the project.

Drive the road along the foot of Coronet Peak between Arrowtown and Queenstown, look up at the mountainside above the skifield’s access road and you will see clusters of hundreds of plastic green sleeves.

Each one is protecting a precious mountain beech tree.

They are the first tangible sign of a long-term project to re-cloak the 1768ha former farm with 140,000 beech trees . . 

Alexandra woman elected to lead RWNZ – Sally Rae:

Challenging, exciting, daunting, motivating and humbling.

That is how Alexandra woman Gill Naylor described her feelings on recently being elected national president of Rural Women New Zealand, an organisation she said had to meet the needs of the “women of today”.

Mrs Naylor has been a member of the Cambrian St Bathans branch of RWNZ for more than 30 years.

Joining Women’s Division Federated Farmers (as it was known before a name change in the late 1990s) was a natural progression for the mother of three, having been involved with the likes of Plunket and play group. . . 

Up to 60 overseas shearers to be granted border exemptionsl – Maja Burry:

Up to 60 overseas shearers will be allowed to enter the country between January and March to help fill a gap in the local workforce.

The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association (NZSCA) told the government in July that keeping shearers out because of Covid-19 travel restrictions could harm farmers’ incomes and cause animal welfare issues for unshorn sheep wilting in the summer heat.

There were further talks this month, and on Friday Immigration New Zealand said border exemptions had been granted for up to 60 shearers to enter the country between January and March.

Conditions include that they have to have at least two years’ experience and be contracted by an approved NZSCA employer. . . 

Fish and Game and Federated Farmers try to find some common ground – Eva Corlet:

Fish and Game and Federated Farmers have met up for a ‘goodwill’ meeting in an effort to work better together.

The two organisations have regularly clashed in the past over issues of dairy farming, freshwater and sustainability.

But, six members of the NZ Fish & Game Council met with their counterparts from Federated Farmers on 22 November, for a “cordial get-together”.

The groups discussed issues such as access, catchment groups, wetlands and connecting farmers with fishers and hunters. . . 

 Sailors Cutting to Benmore trail development:

The long awaited ‘missing link’ trail section from the Sailors Cutting camping ground through to Benmore Dam is due for opening on December 18th. Last week, the A2O project team collectively rode the trail to seek group consensus on safety and recommended duration.

Make no mistake – this section will be another real highlight of the A2O! At 16kms in length, its likely to take 3-4 hours of riding – when you are not racing and perhaps wanting to take time out to have a swim and relax a bit. The ride will feel remote – because it is! Cell phone coverage probably shouldn’t be relied on, so be self contained and ready. Most importantly, be prepared to relax & enjoy, and smell the roses if you can find any.

Starting the trail from the campground, the trail is wide and accommodating. For the first 4kms, it’s wide enough to ride two abreast as the trail climbs up to the low saddle above the Bach bay – and then the easy cycle down to the lakefront. Eventually the trail narrows for the 4-5km middle section and riding becomes single file, to accommodate two way traffic.

The many bays just invite a stop and a swim, and the 30m span of the bridge will excite many. From here, riders regain the wider 4WD track on the Benmore section, which gradually climbs and climbs to the saddle above Benmore dam and Otematata. . .


Rural round-up

07/11/2020

Meat’s outlook looks reddish – David Anderson:

New Zealand beef and sheep farmers are facing more than 25% less income in the season ahead.

That’s the conclusion of Beef+Lamb NZ (BLNZ) in its recently released new season outlook for 2020-21. It is forecasting lamb export receipts to decline by almost 15% and sheepmeat co-products to decline by around 8% compared to the 2019-20 season.

Beef and veal export revenue is forecast to decline by 9% on 2019-20. “The uncertainty in the export market will be reflected in farm-gate prices and subsequent farm profitability,” says BLNZ’s chief economist Andrew Burtt. . . 

NZ challenges US farm subsidies :

New Zealand is questioning whether Donald Trump’s payments of billions of dollars to American farmers go beyond the limits allowed under international trade rules.

The Trump administration forked out US$12 billion in subsidies in 2018 to buffer American farmers from the fallout of the President’s trade war with China. It topped that up with another US$16bn in 2019.

Billions more were set aside after covid-19 dealt a further blow to US farm incomes, which are forecast to drop this year by 15% even after subsidies are accounted for.

According to one US report, payments from the federal government will make up 36% of American farm incomes this year – the highest share since 2001. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports to United States leap 50 per cent in third quarter:

New Zealand’s red meat sector continued to demonstrate its agility in the third quarter with exports to the United States growing by 50 per cent over the three months from July to September compared to a year earlier.

Total exports to the US reached $400 million for the quarter, closely followed by a 42 per cent rise to the UK ($71m) and Germany, a 25 per cent increase to $70m.

The growth in the third quarter offset a 25 per cent decline to China ($530m) although the value of sheepmeat and beef exports to China remains at an historically high level. Overall, exports in the third quarter were $1.69 billion, unchanged from the same period in 2019. . . 

Wool course plans national rollout – Neal Wallace:

The level of interest in a wool grading course has encouraged organisers to take it on the road.

Organised by the Southern Institute of Technology and held at its Telford campus near Balclutha, the plan is to buy a trailer to take equipment and samples to woolsheds to make it easier for people to access training.

The two-day block session for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) approved course held earlier this month, attracted 14 wool handlers from throughout the South Island.

The course is completed through distance learning and filing assignments; one on shed inspection and a grading report on a clip they prepared. . . 

2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarship recipients selected :

Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarship is pleased to support another eight aspiring New Zealanders to study and pursue careers in forestry, with its 2021 Scholarship recipients announced today.

Now in its third year, the Scholarships are increasing diversity in forestry sciences and engineering, with a strong focus on encouraging Māori and women to embark on forestry careers.

“Māori and women represent only a small percentage of the forestry workforce. Te Uru Rākau endeavours to change that and make the forestry and wood processing sector more reflective of our communities,” says Henry Weston, Acting Deputy Director-General Te Uru Rākau/ Forestry New Zealand. . . 

Heirlooms – naturally – for one Mansfield small farm business – Andrew Miller:

Mansfield’s self-confessed “small scale farmer” Simone Boyd is on a mission to show Victorians carrots come in more colours than orange and not every lettuce is green.

Ms Boyd, and husband Cam, grow vegetables on a small property in the north-eastern town, selling at farmers markets, to restaurants and now branching out into online sales through their Heirloom Naturally business.

She says heirloom vegetables are much like precious pieces of jewellery, or furniture, which are passed down from generation to generation, after being saved season after season. . . 

 


Rural round-up

06/11/2020

Feds: staff shortages are undermining safety, mental wellbeing:

Skilled staff shortages are not only taking a toll on productivity but also farmer mental wellbeing, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair and rural health spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“Farmers across New Zealand are having to push the limits to get silage/baleage cut, with many crops in the South Island being harvested when it’s wet.

“With variable weather conditions and a lack of skilled contracting staff, farmers are being pushed to make questionable decisions, such as pushing on with mowing because if they don’t they may not see the contractor again for weeks.” . . 

Dairy farming ‘one of the shining stars of Covid’ – ANZ :

Recent banking results show dairy farming might be one of the “shining stars” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ANZ chief executive Antonia Watson said New Zealand’s farming sector had taken advantage of good prices for their products.

This means they were able to pay down the principal of their loans.

The problems in the dairy industry usually feature large in ANZ Bank’s full year results but they were absent from its latest annual report. . . 

Foreign investors get land purchase approval – Neal Wallace:

Two foreign-owned forestry companies have been given Government approval to buy land in multiple transactions without requiring approval for each purchase from the Overseas Investment Office.

Known as standing consent, Oji Fibre Solutions and Nelson Forests can both buy up to 15,000ha of sensitive land up to a maximum single purchase of 2500ha of land that is exclusively or nearly exclusively in forestry.

The approval also allows the two companies to buy a maximum of 500ha of land per transaction that is not currently in forestry.

The permission is capped at 25 transactions, excludes residential land and expires on 30 September 2023. . . 

Feds on labour issues as DairyNZ shelves GoDairy – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’S shelving of its GoDairy campaign has shown how hard it is to recruit people into the dairy industry, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

DairyNZ has put the dairy training initiative on hold until March as it reviews the three-week course and looks at ways it could be improved.

Federated Farmers assisted DairyNZ in getting GoDairy up and running while at the same time, launching its own scheme to get more New Zealanders onto farms.

He says those who had successfully gained employment were given starter packs from Federated Farmers and so far, 240 packs had been sent out. . . 

Feds president Andrew Hoggard elected to IDF board:

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard is well used to representing New Zealand’s farmers. On top of that, he’ll now be representing dairy farmers from all corners of the planet on the board of the International Dairy Federation.

The Manawatu dairy farmer gets up at 4.30am to milk his herd but at least once or twice a month it’s going to be midnight or 1am starts as he joins on-line northern hemisphere meetings.

The IDF is the only organisation which represents the entire dairy value chain at global level – from farm gate to retailer fridge. Hundreds of millions of people depend on the dairy sector for their livelihoods as farmers, processors, suppliers or traders and every day billions of people consume protein, calcium and other key nutrients from milk and dairy products. . . 

Avian flu: 13,000 birds to be culled at Cheshire farm :

A total of 13,000 chickens are to be culled after an outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) was confirmed at a Cheshire farm.

The H5N8 strain of the disease was confirmed at a broiler breeder’s premises near Frodsham on Monday (2 November).

It follows the unrelated discovery of the H5N2 low pathogenic strain of the virus at a small commercial poultry farm in Deal, Kent, where 480 birds have been culled.

Authorities said all 13,000 birds at the Frodsham premises, which produces hatching eggs, will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. . . 


Rural round-up

28/10/2020

Back the sector that backs New Zealand – Sam McIvor:

The biggest issue currently facing our industry is environmental policy, writes Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor.

Farmers are passionate about being good stewards of their land and want to do the right thing. However, the scale and pace of new government regulations is impacting the financial viability of farming, affecting farmers’ confidence in their industry and having adverse effects on mental health.

In the next government term, we need to see improvements in the essential freshwater regulations to make the rules workable for farmers so they can get on with achieving the desired water health outcomes.

Meanwhile, the government must get fossil fuel emitters to reduce their emissions rather than just planting their pollution on our farms. Limits must be set on the amount of offsetting allowed in the ETS before it’s too late and further swathes of productive sheep and beef farmland are converted to forestry for carbon farming. The RMA isn’t the right tool to fix this problem, but we can work with the government on what is.  . . 

Meat forecast raises questions – Neal Wallace:

Forecasts that this year’s export lamb crop could be below 18 million for the first time has observers questioning what the impact will be.

Beef + Lamb NZ’s (B+LNZ) new season outlook is forecasting the value of meat exports to fall $1 billion to $7.4bn in the coming year due to market uncertainty from the covid-19 pandemic and increased competition for beef markets.

The report forecasts a lamb crop of 22.3 million, of which 17.4m will be processed for export.

Last year the crop was 23.3m, of which 18.7m were processed. . . 

Sector needs breathing space – Neal Wallace:

Farming leaders say they can work with the incoming government but are asking for space to allow the sector to adjust to regulations introduced by the previous administration.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) chair Andrew Morrison says a priority for the next three years will be developing and enhancing trade, especially free trade agreements with the UK and European Union.

But he is asking that the Government give farmers time to implement new freshwater and climate change rules and regulations.

“Don’t give us more stuff, let us deliver this stuff first,” he said. . . 

Van der Poel, Glass re-elected by farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers have returned Jim van der Poel and Colin Glass as DairyNZ directors for another three-year term.

Van der Poel, who chairs the industry-good organisation and Glass, chief executive of Dairy Holdings Ltd, saw off a challenge from young Ashburton farmer Cole Groves in this year’s director elections.

The result was announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Ashburton last night. . . 

History underpins infant formula operation – Richard Davison:

French food and drink giant Danone enjoys closer links to New Zealand — and particularly the deep South — than might at first be apparent. Richard Davison finds out more about the company’s plans for its Clydevale, South Otago, operation as it invests $30million in green energy, and in its latest boost to local employment.

Danone, founded in Barcelona, Spain in 1919 by Isaac Carasso, and perhaps best known for dominating the yoghurt and dairy food markets in Europe, is better known domestically for its foothold in the infant formula market.

Brands such as Aptamil and Karicare are familiar names to many a Kiwi mum, and the latter brand also has a close historical association with a key New Zealand identity.

New Plymouth-born Sir Truby King was a noted innovator in many areas and, during the early 1900s, ran a dairy farm and logging operation in remote Catlins hamlet Tahakopa. . .

From defense to disruption, how companies are approaching sustainability in the food system:

When Mary Shelman, an internationally recognized thought leader and speaker, takes to the stage, there are many accolades and qualifications she could list to introduce herself. But she always starts like this:

“You’ll see that I live in Boston. You know, I was at Harvard Business school, but I’m from Kentucky. And not only Kentucky- my Dad was a farm equipment dealer there, and then when I was in middle school, he bought one farm and then a second farm.”

The generations before her -on both sides – were all from Kentucky.

 “Always in agriculture, always too poor to own their own land,” she said.  . . 


Rural round-up

20/10/2020

New government needs to release the uncertainty handbrake – Andrew Hoggard:

As politicians engage in a last-week frenzy of campaigning and sniping and mall walkabouts, it’s now up to the voters.  Surely there’s enough at stake this election to galvanise even the most jaded elector into exercising their democratic right. 

COVID-19 and our push for economic recovery is just another reason why we need MPs who will listen carefully, work hard and put pragmatism ahead of rigid ideology.

Farmers, like all New Zealanders, are vitally interested in Saturday’s result.  The fact that agricultural issues have gained more of the spotlight on the hustings and in the televised debates this time around than in some elections past is probably due to recognition that we need thriving primary industries if we’re to dig our way out of the pandemic financial hole, and start to pay back some of the billions of dollars borrowed since March.

Federated Farmers has hammered three key issues that the nation needs to get right if we’re to look after our producers, the backbone of our exports and our environment.  Whatever government dominates the front benches after the weekend, we need: . . 

MfE steadfast on winter grazing dates – Neal Wallace:

Dates by when grazed winter cropped paddocks must be resown were included in freshwater legislation to provide regulatory compliance, Government officials say.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) says in response to questions from Farmers Weekly, the resowing dates provide “regulatory certainty” and that they will not be changed.

“Without a fixed date the status of the activity, that is whether it was permitted or needed a consent, could remain unresolved after it concluded. This would have made it difficult for councils to enforce,” they said.

Introduced as part of the Government’s essential freshwater rules, most of NZ-grazed winter crop paddocks must be resown by October 1. . .

Katie Milne wins Agricultural Communicator of the Year:

West Coast dairy farmer and former President of Federated Farmers Katie Milne was last night named the 2020 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the year.

The award recognises people making a significant contribution to communicating agricultural issues, events and information.

Katie Milne was the first female President of Federated Farmers in its 118-year history and served between 2017 and 2020. She advocated on behalf of farmers affected by M-bovis and helped spearhead the subsequent eradication programme. Most recently she argued powerfully to have primary sector businesses recognised as essential services during the Covid-19 lockdown. . .

Honouring our wartime ‘land girls’ – Simon Edwards:

The ‘Land Girls’ are largely unsung heroes of New Zealand’s World War II experience and Fiona, Lady Elworthy, of Timaru was determined that in her district at least there should be a memorial to them.

While men took up arms against the Axis enemies, Women’s Land Service (WLS) members placed on farms back home had their own sorts of battles with totally unfamiliar tasks, long hours, isolation, equipment shortages – and with prejudice.

Thanks to the efforts of Lady Elworthy, former Women’s Land Service members Sadie Lietze now 97, and Joan Butland – who forged her father’s signature at age 17 so she could join the WLS – a plaque and seat will be unveiled during a ceremony and picnic at Maungati in South Canterbury on Sunday.

The memorial sits among the cherry trees and native plants of Rongomaraeroa (the Long Pathway to Peace), a reserve established by Lady Elworthy to honour her late husband.   Sir Peter Elworthy, a former Federated Farmers president, was a Nuffield Scholar who was also founding president of the NZ Deer Farmers’ Association. . . 

Fonterra’s Chile investment looking good :

Fonterra’s Prolesur is leading the charge in the dramatic recovery in Chilean milk production as the company reaps the benefits of rebuilding relationships with farmers.

The Latin American nation’s liquid milk collection reached 1.3 billion litres in the first eight months of the year, up 6.3% from a year earlier, or 79 million litres. More than half of that increase went to Prolesur. This compares to the 12.8bn litre collection in New Zealand in the first eight months of the year. 

“Prolesur has been working over the last 18 months to regain milk volumes that it lost in 2018-19. This has been achieved through working closely with farmers to regain trust and competitive pricing,” Prolesur managing director Erich Becker said.

Prolesur collected 147ML versus 103.5ML in the eight months through August 2019, a whopping 42% lift. Fonterra’s other Chilean business, Soprole, also posted an increase, collecting 124ML versus 120m in the prior year. . . 

 

 

Villa Maria Estate launches  the New Zealand’s first wine-based seltzer:

New Zealand’s most awarded winery, Villa Maria Estate, owners of the Villa Maria, Esk Valley, Leftfield, Vidal and Thornbury brands, is launching the country’s first wine-based seltzer – LF Wine Seltzers.

The iconic wine business founded in 1961 will launch LF Seltzer later this month, a product crafted using its premium Leftfield wines, sparkling water and locally-sourced natural botanicals in three flavours – Yuzu, Mint & Cucumber with Sauvignon Blanc, Pear & Ginger with Pinot Gris and Strawberry & Hibiscus with Rosé.

The move comes amidst a serious shake up of the RTD category which continues to expand in line with the booming global seltzer market. . . 

From paddock To Ponsonby – dogs’ appetite for possum growing nationwide:

Kiwi pooches’ growing appetite for possum is helping to create jobs and putting a dent in New Zealand’s pest population.

In the past year, New Zealand dogs have devoured more than 100,000 kg of possum meat – or approximately 70,000 possums – in the form of Possyum dog rolls and dried treats.

New Zealand’s largest possum meat dog food producer Fond Foods has seen demand for Possyum double since 2017 and has recently hit a milestone of 500,000 kg of possum meat used in its possum meat products since 2010. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

07/10/2020

Weather leaves SI farmers feeling defeated – Neal Wallace:

Dean Rabbidge, who last week had five centimetres of snow on his farm but after thawing was inundated with between 60mm and 70mm of rain at the weekend, is normally a glass half-full type of bloke, but the Wyndham, Southland, farmer concedes his usual optimism is being sorely tested this spring.

“I’m over it,” he said.

“We’ve had no reprieve since the end of August.

“It has been weather event after weather event after weather event.

“We get three or four nice days then another weather event either rain, snow or wind. . . 

Southland’s ‘crazy weather’ makes freshwater rules difficult to follow

Flooding in lower Southland over the weekend shows how difficult it is for farmers to adhere to controversial new government regulations, Bernadette Hunt says.

“It is another example of why resowing by a regulated date, as opposed to when conditions are suitable, just doesn’t make sense,” Hunt, who is Federated Farmers vice president for Southland, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Hunt was referring to regulations in the government’s National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, which said farmers in Southland and Otago would be required to resow winter feed crop paddocks by November 1.

Although the sudden flooding over the weekend was unexpected, “crazy weather in October” was not unusual in the region, and any environmental regulations had to take that into account, Hunt said. . . 

Longest running field days all go :

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, held in Kirwee on the outskirts of Christchurch, will celebrate its 70th year in March 2021 with a bigger demonstration area.

Chairperson Michaela McLeod is describing it as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the industry that has been the backbone of New Zealand’s economy during the uncertain times of Covid-19.

“The agricultural industry has hardly skipped a beat over the past few months, and we see the South Island Agricultural Field Days as the perfect place for farmers, contractors and our industry to come together and share their stories, celebrate their successes and look for opportunities to improve their businesses. . . 

Kidding around on farm – Gerald Piddock:

An Auckland farmer has made the transition from milking cows to goats and has now established the largest goat farm in New Zealand. Gerald Piddock reports.

Matthew and Sarah Bolton established Oete Farm to showcase the dairy goat industry to New Zealanders.

Their success at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards, where they won the supreme award along with four category awards for the Auckland region, validated the journey the business has undertaken since it was established six years ago.

Matthew says the awards success reflected the hard work and team effort from his 30 full and part-time staff spread across the 273-hectare farm at Patumahoe, west of Pukekohe. . . 

Tatua Co-Operative Dairy announces record earnings of $151m for year – Lawrence Gullery:

A Waikato dairy company credits its strong end of year result to its staff which adapted and worked through the Covid-19 alert levels.

Tatua Co-Operative Dairy achieved group revenue of $381 million, and earnings of $151m, in its financial results for 2019-20.

Group revenue was the income received from selling product, goods and services. Earnings was the profit before milk payments to suppliers and tax. . . 

Farming through risk – Tim Keegan:

I’ve lived through tornadoes and hailstorms—but I’ve never seen anything like the derecho that blasted across Iowa and the Midwest on August 10.

Only in the last few days has life on my farm returned to something that resembles normal. For nearly three weeks, we’ve been cleaning up, helping neighbors, and assessing the massive damage.

My family is luckier than a lot of my fellow Iowans. On our farm, near the town of Mount Vernon, the storm did a lot of damage to trees, buildings, and grain bins. It also flattened or damaged a lot of our corn. We’re still not sure how much of it we’ll recover.

But in so many places the devastation is a lot worse. . . 


Rural round-up

03/10/2020

Green bureaucrats pushing our farmers to the brink – Nick Cater:

While it would be foolish to judge a movie by its trailer, the Australian-made feature film Rams is looking like a parable for our times. It is a battle between bureaucrats and two honest, hardworking farmers played by Sam Neill and Michael Caton, heavily disguised behind beards.

When inspectors discover a single sick ram they respond by seizing every sheep in the valley. Neill and Caton resist by hiding their breeding stock in their homes, covering their tracks with copious quantities of air freshener.

Let’s hope it ends happily, unlike in real life, when a farmer caught in the sights of the farming police is generally on a hiding to nothing.

Late last year the National Farmers Federation set the laudable goal of increasing the value of farm production from about $60bn a year to $100bn a year by 2030. Good luck. The regulators and their enforcers have other ideas. Their intention is to limit the expansion of farming and, if possible, force it into retreat, turning farmers from food producers into unpaid stewards of native trees and grasses. . . 

Big costs for freshwater compliance – Neal Wallace:

Meeting new freshwater regulations will cost landowners $900 million and another $140m a year in annual compliance costs and loss of profits.

Farmers Weekly has collated forecast costs from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) in the Action for Healthy Waterways policy, which variously came into force from September 3.

Fencing 32,000km of waterways to meet new stock exclusion, regulations will cost farmers $773m, while the loss of production on the 19,000ha lost from the three-metre riparian setback is estimated at a further $17m.

The MfE calculates fencing costs at $5/m for dairy, $14/m for sheep and beef and $20/m for deer. . . 

Crown land limits harm NZ branding – Philip Todhunter:

“Our primary sector is such a huge part of our economy and our brand.”

So said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on July 7, announcing the launch of a plan to help farmers “to fetch more value, create more jobs and bolster our green reputation”.

Sixteen days later, her Land Information Minister introduced a Bill that threatens the economic future of a collection of farms that embody Brand New Zealand; compromises the ability of those farms to provide the raw materials that underpin some truly global labels; and puts at risk the long-term environmental wellbeing of the land it is supposed to protect.

A week, as they say, is a long time in politics.

Currently, 1.2million hectares of the South Island comes under the Crown Pastoral Lease regime. These are not the type of leases that cover a house or commercial building: while they have 33-year terms, they are perpetually renewable, meaning the leaseholder enjoys exclusive possession of the land indefinitely. . . 

Proud to reach 30 year milestone – Mary-Jo Tohill:

On Christmas Eve 1989, two Earnscleugh orchardists walked into an Alexandra lawyer’s office — and walked out with an irrigation scheme.

There were two key players in ‘Team Tony’; Tony Banks, the 2016 recipient of the Ron Cocks Memorial award for outstanding leadership in the irrigation industry, and Earnscleugh Irrigation Company managing director Tony Lepper.

These were the days when landowners were promised a new, fully piped irrigation scheme, through the Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act 1982, and when the Government was divesting itself of irrigation schemes.

“By 1986, $21million was touted for an Earnscleugh upgrade, but the settlers [the landowners] said they couldn’t afford $677 per hectare,” Mr Lepper said. . . 

Spring surprise – Neal Wallace:

A rapid thaw has eased the worst effects of this week’s storm, which blanketed much of Otago and Southland in snow and caused lamb losses described by some farmers as the worst ever.

Actual losses will not be known until tailing, but Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young expects the storm will reduce his lambing percentage by 5%.

His Cattle Fat Station property is in the area hit by the heaviest snow, which encompasses Waikaka, Waikaia and West Otago hill country areas, where lambing was under way.

Coastal South Otago and the southeast corner of Southland were also hit hard. . . 

Gutsy fight: Livestock agent Mike Wilson shares his story of survival to help save others in the bush – Lucy Kinbacher:

Most people know Mike Wilson as the bloke at the bull sale with a pen in his hand and notepad in his back pocket.

He takes a seat on the bottom row of the grandstand, a strategic position where the auctioneer can see his subtle, yet impactful bids.

There’s a couple of buyers cards wedged inside his catalogue and he wears a vest, even when the weather is a little warm.

On the outside you’d hardly think there was anything different with the 70-year-old livestock agent. . . 


Rural round-up

23/08/2020

Water rules ‘unworkable’ – Neal Wallace:

Environment Southland may ask the Government to relax new strict rules controlling the winter grazing of livestock which is widely considered as unworkable in the cooler southern region.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young has upped the pressure on the Government, advising members not to seek resource consent if they are unable to meet the new grazing regulations.

Southern farmers are angered at the requirement to resow winter crop paddocks by November 1, a month later than the rest of NZ, the extent of pugging permitted on paddocks and limits on winter grazing paddocks with a mean slope exceeding 10 degrees.

These provisions are included in the suite of essential freshwater measures regulations released in May.

Labour fails to plan for primary sector :

Labour needs to stand up for the essential primary sector workers who are wrongly being turned away at Auckland region checkpoints, MP for Hunua Andrew Bayly and National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett say.

“Auckland is almost 10 days into their regional lockdown and there has still been no specific exemptions granted by the Ministry of Health to allow primary sector workers to carry out essential services across the Auckland regional border.” Mr Bayly says.

“These travel exemptions should have been ready to go at the first sign of regional restrictions. Instead, it has taken a week for the Minister to secure exemptions for the dairy, horticulture, and poultry sectors.”. . . 

Meat companies forced to divert product – Neal Wallace:

Meat companies are changing portion sizes and targeting mid-week meals as they switch products from food service to chilled retail markets.

Farmers Weekly last week reported the demise of food service markets around the world due to the global covid-19 pandemic forcing meat companies to divert product away from traditional frozen and food service markets.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says any increase in chilled meat volumes is welcome. . .

It’s the beta-casein and premium product that makes a big difference between a2 Milk and Fonterra – Point of Order:

Investors  this week took  the  phenomenal result  for a2 Milk   in  their  stride, but  it  may have produced  a few blinks  round   the   nation’s  dairy farms,  particularly  with  the  farmer-suppliers  of  Fonterra. 

Take – for example – a2 Milk’s  earnings  per share  of  52.39c  and contrast them with Fonterra’s 17c per share  in 2019,  or  its  net  profit  of $385.8m   versus  Fonterra’s loss  of $605m.

There  are  other  mind-blowing  figures  from  a2 Milk: total revenue  of  $1.73bn, up  32.8%; ebitda of $549.7m, a  rise of 32.9%;  and operating cash flow of $427.4m. Not to  mention  a  cash  mountain  it has  built up of  $854.2m. . . 

Career off to a good start :

Nineteen-year-old Ashlee Ennis is thrilled she has got a job on a dairy farm after recently completing three-weeks of GoDairy Farm Ready Training with DairyNZ.

Hailing from Tauranga, Ashlee has moved to Taupo for a role as a farm assistant and is excited by her new career.

She says she is relishing getting stuck in helping out with calving.

“It’s been great to get into the work and learn more on the job. I definitely see a future for myself in dairy farming,” she said. “I didn’t grow up on a farm but my mum did and she always loved it. I love working with animals.” . . 

One scientist’s ambitious plan to achieve global cooling with cattle – Farmer Georgie:

Farts are funny. Burger King thinks yodeling about cow farts is even funnier. In mid-July, the fast food chain released on Twitter an ad campaign starring boot-stomping kids, led by Mason Ramsey of Walmart Yodeling Kid fame, singing about cow farts contributing to global warming and claiming that lemongrass can reduce methane in those farts by a third.

The ad, part of the company’s #CowsMenu campaign, generated a backlash of social media criticism. Pissed-off ranchers and a concerned science community pointed out that the ad perpetuated a long-standing misconception about cow farts and the hotly debated narrative that cows are a major climate change problem. Plus, it promoted an unproven solution as its big greenhouse gas win. In doing so, Burger King missed the chance to highlight the real potential for change: turning cows and their methane-producing digestive systems into a climate cooling solution. . .


Rural round-up

21/08/2020

Coronavirus: Millions of bees starve to death as beekeepers held up at COVID-19 checkpoints – James Fyfe:

Millions of bees have starved to death after COVID-19 checkpoints in and out of Auckland caused a delay in beekeepers accessing their hives.

Wetex Kang of Waitakaruru Honey Limited says around 2.5 million bees died after workers were unable to travel from Waikato to Auckland to feed the bees.

Kang, who is based in Auckland, says many of his business’ 2000 beehives are scattered across the North Island, as are the staff who care for them. . . 

Women’s farm training winner – Sally Rae:

A farm training institute with a difference is opening its gates in Northern Southland next year. Business and rural editor Sally Rae finds out more.

When Covid-19 claimed the clientele of her agri-tourism venture near Kingston, Laura Douglas spent a couple of days crying inconsolably.

Still on a high from taking her farm animals to Wanaka A&P Show for a display, she received a phone call from international bus company Contiki two days later, cancelling its visits.

Those tours came through Real Country every month – every week in summer – and represented about 65% of her revenue. Corporate groups also cancelled as the country went into lockdown. . . 

Armadillo Merino aims for the moon – Neal Wallace:

Merino wool has long been praised for its versatility, but Andy Caughey tells Neal Wallace how he is taking use of this miracle fibre to a whole new level.

THE qualities of New Zealand Merino wool clothing are being tested in some of the planet’s most hostile and extreme workplaces and environments – and beyond.

Otago-raised Andy Caughey has for the past nine years been developing and promoting next-to skin Merino wool clothing and socks under his brand Armadillo Merino.

Armadillo clothing is now being considered for astronauts involved in NASA’s 2024 expedition to the moon. . . 

Arable sector must determine its future – Annette Scott:

The next five years will be crunch time for the arable sector that can choose to stand up and shine or remain under the radar and let the larger primary sectors direct New Zealand’s agri-economic development, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive Alison Stewart says.

For many years the arable sector has been viewed as the invisible partner of NZ agriculture, given the arable industry’s predominantly domestic, commodity market focus and the fact that it has chosen to fly under the radar on most of the major policy issues affecting NZ’s economic, environmental and social development, Stewart says.

“However, I believe the invisible partner image is slowly changing and could change even more if the entire sector worked together to make it happen,” she said. . . 

Pāmu announces new GM sustainability and farming systems:

Pāmu has appointed Lisa Martin to the executive leadership team in the newly created role of General Manager, Sustainability and Farming Systems.

Ms Martin has extensive experience improving the sustainability practices of the organisations she has worked with, including seafood company Sanford where she was GM of Group Sustainability and at Downer Group where she was GM of Environment and Sustainability. She also co-founded a successful sustainability consultancy, Sustainz which provides sustainability advice to a range of organisations including New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

In her earlier career Ms Martin worked in the environmental science field in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. . .

Sugar price rebound sweetens La Niña risk – Shan goodwin:

REBOUNDING global sugar prices are putting a spring in the step of Queensland cane growers who have been hampered by wet weather hold-ups since the crush started in early June.

Raw sugar traded in New York on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the global benchmark, broke through the US13 cents per pound barrier last week for the first time since March.

Analysts say that has been on the back of easing lockdown restrictions, the resumption of food service, strong demand from Asia where drought has hit local crops and speculative moves by funds shifting to a bullish outlook for sugar. . . 


Rural round-up

31/07/2020

Lessees can be forced to cull tahr – Neal Wallace:

High-Country pastoral lessees could be drawn into the contentious tahr cull issue with plans for a population survey on Crown pastoral lease land later this year.

Federated Farmers high-country committee past chairman Simon Williamson believes lease terms will force some landowners to cull tahr.

The Conservation Department has begun a major cull in Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks but operations director Dr Ben Reddiex says it is not eradication.

“The vast majority of commercial hunting takes place on Crown pastoral lease and private land. . . 

Cotter passionate about supporting farmers in need – Janette Gellatly:

Passionate about the rural sector and people’s welfare, Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter says the best aspect of her role is being there for farmers.

‘‘Our role is to talk to farmers who are having some kind of stress and . . .to connect them with the right people to make a positive difference.’’

These could include various agencies, such as mental wellness providers, financial institutions and other rural stakeholders such as DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. ‘‘We are here to support all farmers [whether it be aquaculture or on the land] in Southland.’’ As part of its holistic approach, the trustees were also volunteers. Most have been through challenging times themselves, so could relate and understand when others were having difficulties, Mrs Cotter said.

It was about farmers helping farmers. . . 

Pilot kickstarts shearing training – Colin Williscroft:

Almost $2 million will be spent developing and delivering sustainable and integrated training for shearing and wool handling.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says $1.86m from the Provincial Growth Fund will be invested over two years to establish a pilot for the Shearing Training Model programme.

It will use micro-credentialing, earn-as-you-learn training to upskill 150 new and 120 existing shearers.

It will target school leavers, unemployed and underemployed people, career changers and those already in the industry who want to learn new skills. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk – the zombie dairy company – Brent Melville:

When it started production outside Gore in late 2018, Mataura Valley Milk was greeted with huge excitement by the Southland community, government ministers and dairy farmers alike.

The growth of infant nutritional product sales into China offered the prospect of an export bonanza.

While the growth of New Zealand-sourced dairy formula exports into China lived up to hype – growing by almost a third last year to 120,000 tonnes and generating $1.7 billion in export receipts – Mataura Valley itself was moving in the wrong direction.

It is, after all, a competitive market with well established distribution channels, dominated by Fonterra, Synlait, Danone and GMP Dairy; so growing pains were expected. . . 

Fieldays Online: 2020 Innovation Awards winners announced :

Forward-thinking Kiwis have been celebrated with the annual Fieldays Innovation Awards, with the winners announced today.

Innovation has been at the heart of Fieldays since its inception over 50 years ago, say organisers.

“It is the very reason Fieldays exists and why Fieldays Online was launched. Innovation is not easy, it requires courage and a willingness to take on risk, yet it is also fundamental to the overall sustainability of any business or industry. It is necessary if we wish to solve today’s problems and prepare the ground for solving tomorrow’s.” . . 

A farmer perspective in the boardroom – Stuart Wright:

Deputy chair of Ravensdown, Stuart Wright on why farmers should throw their hat in the ring and join board rooms.

OPINION: The phrase ‘gumboot directors’ came about in the 1970s when co-operatives like Ravensdown were created.

Originally intended as a jibe from the corporate business world, it became a badge of honour as farmer shareholders put their hand up to influence the businesses they own.

These days, New Zealand’s agri co-operatives are multi-million-dollar operations, with complex business models and risk profiles. And the governance of such organisations has never been more important. . . 


Rural round-up

29/06/2020

Agriculture emerges from lockdown relatively unscathed, but coming global recession will bite, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Agricultural incomes are expected to take a hit later this year as the effects of the global recession caused by coronavirus kicks in, says Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny.

The sector was likely to remain profitable, however.

Despite having come through the lockdown and its immediate effects relatively unscathed, due largely to agriculture’s classification as an essential service, the forecast 3 per cent hit to global growth over 2020, meant there would be less demand for the forseeable future.

As a country that exported over 90 per cent of its agricultural production, New Zealand would be heavily exposed, Penny said. . .

McBride optimistic about Fonterra’s future despite global uncertainty – Esther Taunton:

Fonterra will face “bumps in the road” as the global economy rebuilds after the coronavirusoutbreak, but chairman-elect Peter McBride is optimistic about the dairy co-op’s future.

“Businesses learn more from challenges than successes and there will be plenty learnt from this,” the South Waikato dairy farmer said.

And McBride should know.

As the chairman of the Zespri board from 2013-18, he led the kiwifruit marketer through a crippling outbreak of the vine disease Psa, estimated to have cost growers close to $1 billion . .

Few winter grazing issues found – Neal Wallace:

Soutland farmers are being given a pat on the back for their winter grazing management so far this year, which Environment Southland says is an improvement on last year.

An aerial inspection by regional council staff prompted chief executive Rob Phillips to conclude farmers have made positive improvements.

“I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen. Farmers appear to have made a real effort, which is exactly what we need.”

Phillips said it is early in the season so wet weather will change conditions. . . .

Outstanding vintage despite Covid-19 conditions:

While it will be forever remembered as the Covid-19 harvest, an excellent summer throughout most of the country has contributed to an outstanding vintage for New Zealand’s wine regions.

“Although Covid-19 restrictions did have a huge impact on the way the harvest was run, they will not affect the quality of the wine, and we are really looking forward to some exceptional wines coming from this year’s vintage” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The New Zealand wine industry had hoped for a larger harvest in 2020, after smaller than expected crops over the last three years. With 457,000 tonnes of grapes harvested, this year’s vintage will help the industry to meet the high demand for New Zealand wine.

With New Zealand moving into Alert Level 4 just as Vintage 2020 began, the industry was acutely aware that it was in an incredibly privileged position to be allowed to pick the grapes, says Gregan. . .

Tug-of-war fan desperate to keep sport alive – ‘It’s weightlifting lying down’ – Carol Stiles:

A Waikato farmer is building a museum on his farm to preserve memorabilia from New Zealand’s oldest introduced sport – tug-of-war.

Graham Smith has a dairy farm 50 minutes south of Hamilton.

He is also a passionate advocate for a sport which is dwindling. He’s preserving the memory of tug-of-war in case one day it sparks up again.

He is the president of the New Zealand Tug of War Association and has been involved for more than 40 years. . .

Record on-farm price for EC Angus – Hugh Stringleman:

An Angus bull from Turiroa Stud, Wairoa, has made $104,000 at auction, believed to be a New Zealand on-farm sale record.

Turiroa’s best-ever sales performance also featured a price of $86,000 and an average of $12,560 for a full clearance of 50 bulls.

Andrew Powdrell said there was good buying further into the catalogue and there was a bull for everyone.

The Powdrell family was humbled by the result and thrilled the bulls are going to good homes. . .


Rural round-up

22/06/2020

Agriculture Minister is missing in (in)action while climate change warriors harry NZ’s dairy industry – Point of Order:

The  world stands  on  the  brink of a  food crisis worse  than  any seen  in the last  50 years, the  UN has  warned  as  it  urged  governments to  act swiftly to avoid  disaster.

So what  is the  Ardern  government  doing about  it?   Shouldn’t   it  be working  to  ramp  up  food production?  After  all,  NZ   prides  itself  on being  among  the world’s  leaders  in producing  high-quality  food.

Instead,  Climate  Change  Minister  James  Shaw is celebrating  being  “ ambitious” in tackling  what he calls the climate crisis with,  he   says, . . 

Carbon farming ‘a waste of land’ driving rural residents away – farmers – Lisette Reymer:

There are warnings that New Zealand’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 is destroying rural communities.

Productive sheep and beef east coast farmland is being blanketed in pine trees that may never be harvested in a mission called ‘carbon farming’, where trees are grown for carbon credits, not for sale.

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) makes carbon farming a financial windfall for landowners – often making it more lucrative than farming stock or milling the trees for export.

And east coasters fear an impending forestry boom will turn more of its communities into ghost towns. . .

Rural women missing out on vital pregnancy ultrasounds – Conor Whitten:

Maternity care is supposed to be free and available to every woman – but that isn’t the case. 

Senior doctors have told Newshub Nation that funding for maternity care is broken and pregnant women are missing out on ultrasound scans – and Health Minister David Clark has known about it for at least two years.

Lack of access to healthcare for pregnant women can see them miss out on crucial scans, including some that should be offered to every pregnant woman. Going without can have tragic consequences, as Kaitaia midwife Shelley Tweedie told Newshub Nation. 

“The worst outcome you could look at is having a foetal demise, a baby dying. That would be the worst outcome that could happen from a lack of access to ultrasound services. It is absolutely devastating. Nobody would want to go through that.” . . 

Action, not old news, needed now – Neal Wallace:

There is plenty the Rural General Practice Network likes about the just released review of health services. 

Now it wants to see action to address the issues.

The Health and Disability System Review said the inequitable access by rural communities to health care is unacceptable, Network chief executive Grant Davidson said.

Rural health in New Zealand is at breaking point. . . 

Art raising money and awareness – Colin Williscroft:

A painting created in support of farmers’ mental health will raise funds for the Rural Support Trust and reduce the stigma of depression.

Taranaki artist Paul Rangiwahia wrote and produced Top Six Inches in a collaboration with Taranaki Rural Support Trust chairman and national council member Mike Green. 

Green says art is a great way to break down the stigma of mental health while helping people talk about what they are experiencing and feeling.

“Two things which make depression much more likely are having long-term sources of stress and an insecure future,” he says. . .

Working in cheese a world-first for TIA student :

In a world first, a PhD student at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture is developing predictive tools to influence food safety management decisions for the soft cheese, paneer.

Paneer is a fresh, unaged, soft cheese that is particularly popular in South Asia, but is made and sold around the world.

In Australia, there are currently eight major brands producing paneer, across NSW, Victoria and northern Tasmania.

Not a lot is known about how pathogens behave in paneer and this information is important for refining food safety regulations. . . 

 


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