Rural round-up

May 24, 2017

One quick click can save a life – Sally Rae:

It’s a message you see regularly on roadside signs and on the television – a simple click saves lives.

Had that split-second decision been made on a Friday night three weeks ago in rural South Canterbury, a wife might still have a husband and two young children a father.

Amid her grief, it is a message  Paul Dee’s widow, Julie, wants to reinforce in a national campaign.

As she sees it, she is in a privileged position to potentially help save other lives by getting people to change their thinking.

Mr Dee (46) was killed on April 28 in an ATV side-by-side buggy roll-over,  a stone’s throw from his Waihao Downs home, near Waimate. . . 

Big things expected of Te Mana lamb – Sally Rae:

Te Mana Lamb, the product of the Omega Lamb Project, has been officially launched by Prime Minister Bill English in Hong Kong.

Promoted as being the world’s tastiest and healthiest lamb, the project is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

It involved bringing healthy fat back on to the menu by producing lambs with naturally higher polyunsaturated fatty acids, intramuscular fat and omega-3.

Guests at a gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, attended by Mr English and the Hong Kong business community, were among the first international diners to try Te Mana Lamb. . . 

Sweet finish key to success for winning blue cheese – Pam Tipa:

Much of the success of Whitestone’s Vintage Windsor Blue cheese comes down to North Otago milk, with the cows grazing off grass from limestone soils, says chief executive Simon Berry.

Their unique mould strain they developed themselves is the other flavour aspect.

“It has a sweet finish no one else in the world has. When taken onto the international stage it stands out,” Berry told Dairy News. . .

Money will attract rural volunteers – Neal Wallace:

Rural health leader Martin London hopes a $59 million Government investment to double crew ambulances will also attract more rural volunteers to the service.

London, the chairman of the Rural Health Alliance, said the boost from the funding needed to be supported by adequate training of ambulance crews.

If that happened, he was optimistic the spirit and confidence it created would encourage new volunteers to join rural ambulance services. . . 

Water Accord business as usual – Peter Burke:

The targets in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord are effectively becoming normal business practice for dairy farmers, says a DairyNZ director, Alister Body.

He made his comments at the release of a three year review of the accord, which covers a range of environmental targets dairy farmers are encouraged to achieve voluntarily. All dairy companies – except Westland which runs its own scheme — support the targets, as do the regional councils, Federated Farmers and some other agri-related organisations.

Body says the accord was agreed to and signed without a specific end date, but the signatories agreed to the three-year report on what has and has not been achieved. . .

Hops production in NZ slumps by 10% – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand hop production is down by about 10 percent, with the yield of some varieties falling by 30 percent.

The New Zealand Hops co-operative says its 18 growers, which are in the Nelson region, produced about 750 tonnes of hops, which was 33 tonnes less than the year before.

Chief executive Doug Donelan said the weather had not been right since spring.

“The growing season wasn’t very good. We had a cold summer and prior to that during the early stages it was a very wet spring. The two things you really don’t want when you’re growing hops.” . .

All New Zealanders to see connectivity benefits:

The Government is committed to making New Zealand’s communications network one of the best in the world, Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.

Minister Bridges spoke at the 2017 Rural Connectivity Symposium in Wellington today.

“In 2009 the internet in New Zealand was slow, and many people didn’t have adequate access at all – particularly in rural areas,” Mr Bridges says.

“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Over 1.1 million households and businesses can now connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband, and over one-third of those are already connected. . . 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2017

NZ beef, lamb and dairy prices on ‘reasonable’ footing – Simon Hartley:

Two separate New Zealand commodity price indexes have the country’s exports in good health, but the strength of the New Zealand dollar remains a concern.

ANZ agri-economist Con Williams said while the headline ANZ commodity price index dipped 0.2% in April, the underlying detail for New Zealand’s main commodities remained ”robust”.

The headline index was driven lower by dairy – it was down 2.5% month on month – while the non-dairy component rose 1.2% for the same period. . .

Gas to energy project – Rueben on line:

An Isla Bank dairy farm is saving money and preventing harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere by converting waste to energy.

Glenarlea Farm, a Fortuna Group dairy farm, is now converting methane gas captured from the dairy effluent pond into electricity for the dairy shed, as well as for heating water which can be used for wash-down purposes on the farm.

Quick decision lead to success – Neal Wallace:

Weo Maag concedes the Pukepoto Farm Trust does things a bit differently.

A trustee of the entity that owns the 1400ha breeding and finishing property at Ongarue near Taumarunui, Maag said the trust aimed to keep things simple but was a willing adopter of any systems or tools that worked.

An Ahuwhenua Trophy finalist, the Pukepoto trust was formed in 1978 and its 1000 shareholders owned land that was originally used as a thoroughfare for Maori travelling between Taranaki and Whanganui. . . 

Disastrous end-of-harvest for South Canterbury’s cropping farmers – Pat Deavoll:

Twice the normal rainfall in March followed by four times the amount in April has meant a disastrous end to the harvest for South Canterbury’s arable farmers.

Federated Farmers arable chairman for South Canterbury Mike Porter said he “struggled and battled” his way through harvest and finished last week.

“It’s been a very challenging harvest – the most challenging I have ever known.” . .

Dairy women gathering –  Sally Rae:

Dairying women from throughout New Zealand will converge on Queenstown this week for the Dairy Women’s Network conference.

The event, on Thursday and Friday, features practical workshops and keynote speakers, including All Blacks manager Gilbert Enoka and Corrections Minister Louise Upston. . . 

Water scheme will reflect demand – Annette Scott:

Hunter Downs Water will forge ahead with a multi-million-dollar irrigation scheme for South Canterbury despite falling short of its capital-raising target.

What form it would take was being worked through with the contractor in a redesigned scheme to meet the demand from farmers who had committed through the share uptake, Hunter Downs Water (HDW) project manager Stacey Scott said.

The deadline for the uptake of water and development shares in the $195m scheme was on April 28, after its initial April 10 deadline was extended. . . 


Rural round-up

April 20, 2017

Good PR is a self-help exercise – Neal Wallace:

A united agricultural sector needs to promote itself by telling positive farming stories, public relations expert Deborah Pead says.

Industries such as dairy were constantly under scrutiny and having to defend themselves when the correct strategy was to get in first and tell the public what they were doing to address those concerns.

“It is hard to argue when you see a river dried up and farmers are flat-out irrigating but what is the solution? What are farmers doing about it?” . . 

High country community divided by fence plan – Conan Young:

Green groups are outraged at a plan to spend ratepayer money on a fence that would allow iconic high country land to be more intensively farmed.

The 6km fence is proposed for Flock Hill Station, which is leased by a US-based company and contains scenery made famous in 2005’s The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Until now, Coast Range Investments has only been allowed to graze it in a low-level way, so as to have a minimal impact on the landscape and its environment. . . 

Water Fools? – Greening of Mackenzie – Kate Gudsell:

It’s the closest thing New Zealand has to a desert. The Mackenzie Basin landscape is not replicated anywhere else in the country, let alone the world, and it is being changed irreversibly.  

Not just the land is being changed, the once-pristine lakes are showing signs of strain too.  

The area has been at the centre of a 10-year court battle after farmers and landowners opposed tougher development rules proposed by the Mackenzie District Council.  . . 

Stable milk price crucial for strong farming season – Sally Rae:

Rabobank is picking a farm- gate milk price around $6.25 for the 2017-18 season, as it says a figure in that area would finally allow dairy farmers to ”emerge from the woods”.

Global dairy prices were now better balanced than at the start of this season.

This was likely to flow through and create largely stable commodity pricing in the new season, a bank report said.

However, despite the improved market balance, the possibility of further lifts to the current season milk price was limited, report author and Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The price rally experienced since the second half of 2016 had ”some of the gloss” removed, with stronger-than-anticipated New Zealand production impacting on prices.

Job Seekers drawn to plant – Sally Rae:

Hordes of job seekers from Nelson to Dunedin – including a group of Cadbury employees – converged on Fonterra’s Clandeboye site for a recent recruitment day.

A $240 million mozzarella plant development at the South Canterbury site is under way, creating full-time employment for a further 100 people.

There was a “fantastic” response to the recent recruitment day, with between about 1500 and 2000 people attending. That led to about 700-odd applications for the roles, operations manager Steve McKnight said.

The mozzarella plant, the third at Clandeboye, was the single largest food service investment in the history of New Zealand’s dairy industry. . . 

Cervena seeks its place in the sun – Annette Scott:

Marketing Cervena venison as a lighter summer eating option in Germany will be a challenge but it’s a move Deer Industry New Zealand has confidence in, venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) had begun marketing Cervena in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial. While relatively small the trial was symbolically important, Wilson said.

Traditionally the deer industry had been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which was highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2017

Mentoring part of the prize – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton says he is ”humbled” to win the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in
2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.

Mr Easton, along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney, was initially shortlisted for the award, along with Australians Anna Speer, Will Creek and Airlie Trescowthick. . . 

It’s not just farmers – Neal Wallace:

The country’s senior scientist has called for a more mature conversation on solving water quality issues and an end to the polarised positions that have characterised the debate so far.

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, said to have the pristine environment we all desired would not be achieved without having a conversation “where people are not threatened but will come together and discuss solutions”.

“Where we have gone is groups with extreme positions and people are not listening to each other.”

Farm’s efficiency gain, emissions fall impresses – Sally Brooker:

A South Canterbury farm has proved environmental gains can be made while production improves, scientists say.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand director Bill Wright and his wife, Shirley, have been farming a sheep and cattle property at Cannington since 1991. Their records have allowed scientists to study the profile of greenhouse gases while the farm evolved.

The the last two years’ data also gave insights into nitrogen-leaching.

“Farmers are conscious of their collective responsibilities to restore water quality and minimise their environmental footprint,” Mr Wright said.

“But this is material we are now only learning how to manage in a way that not only protects the environment but provides opportunities to be more productive with less impact.” . . 

Blue Sky left searching for positives after Binxi offer lapses – Allan Barber:

Invercargill based meat processor Blue Sky Meats is trying to put a positive spin on its prospects after being advised by Chinese cattle and meat company subsidiary NZ Binxi Oamaru that its takeover offer would not proceed. The main reason for the decision was failure to receive OIO approval by the 20th March deadline, but Binxi also cited a material adverse change in this season’s performance. As a result Blue Sky has advised shareholders they will continue to own their shares, 96% having already accepted the offer.

The offer for 100% ownership at $2.20 per share placed a value of $25.4 million on Blue Sky compared with a current valuation of just under $15 million based on the last trading price of $1.30. Chairman Scott O’Donnell made the point adverse seasonal conditions are part and parcel of agricultural businesses, while NZ Binxi has asked the OIO to continue to process its application in spite of its withdrawal. It also signalled its possible willingness to reconsider if the OIO were to come through with a positive response. . . 

UK will offer good trade deal :

New Zealand’s farmers and exporters will get a favourable post-Brexit trade pact with the United Kingdom but find a new European Union trade agreement much harder, Lord Sam Vestey believes.

The British peer and former owner of NZ meat processing plants under the name of Weddell until the 1990s was speaking at the opening of the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.

He was chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth and a regular visitor to major shows in NZ. . . 

Southland dairy consultant in the running for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Southland woman who only milked her first cow seven years ago is one of three finalists in the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Jolene Germann grew up on a Waikato sheep and beef farm and had no dairy experience until meeting her husband, Hadleigh, seven years ago. Now, she’s a busy dairy consultant with a full book and is an equity partner and sharemilker on a 200ha, 570 cow dairy farm in Aparima, Southland.

Germann’s husband nominated her for the Dairy Woman of the Year award and says her commitment to environmental sustainability and empathetic leadership style are her stand-out qualities. . . 

Dear Lady at the Bank – Ruby Uhart:

Last fall I went into the bank to deposit checks after we’d sold our calves.  The lady at the front desk wasn’t familiar with the company who had written the check.  I explained to her who they were and that we had sold two loads of calves.

She replied “wow.  I’m in the wrong business.”

At the time, it caught me off guard that she would say something like that and all I could do was chuckle a little and say “no.  You’re not.”

 I’ve been thinking about her all winter and different moments in particular made me wish I had said something to her other than what I replied in my dimwitted moment.  As with all of my best comebacks, they hit my brain later and are told with the story as “what I should have said was…”

So here goes.  Here’s my shoulda, coulda, woulda said….


Rural round-up

April 10, 2017

Taste is tops – Neal Wallace:

ONE of the biggest consumer taste tests ever has revealed the eating quality of New Zealand lamb is consistently high with very little variation.

The finding followed more than 3200 consumer taste tests in NZ and the United States last year and showed factors such as breed, gender, pasture, growth rates, fat cover, marbling, confirmation and locality had a minor effect on eating quality.

The research was part of a FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership programme in conjunction with Silver Fern Farms, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Landcorp.  . .

Sound science needed in policy making  – Mark Ross:

New Zealand’s strong export focus is unusual because our GDP relies heavily on our primary industries and export markets.
Revenue from these exports is estimated at $36.7 billion this year, but is at risk from unsubstantiated, over-hyped nonsensical claims.

The products we use to protect our animals and crops from pests and diseases have never been more thoroughly tested and screened to ensure product safety. But pseudo-science puts NZ farmers and growers’ chances of being world leaders in productivity at risk. Pseudo-science is beliefs or statements not backed by scientific evidence. Its promoters frequently play on people’s fears and cause needless confusion. . .

Farmers urged to use science to improve profitability:

Farmers are getting a push to use the “masses of science” available in New Zealand to improve their profitability.
Confusion exists about the key focus needed to increase farm profitability, says high profile farm veterinarian and consultant Trevor Cook.

The key point is how much product we produce per hectare, he says. And though body condition score and feed allocation are also key performance indicators, they alone are not the drivers of profit. . . 

Planting good for soldiers, farming – Nigel Malthus:

Even Canterbury’s arable farmers would benefit from the increased biodiversity offered by native reforestation, claims the man leading the largest dryland reforestation effort on the plains.
Tai Tapu native plant nurseryman and consultant Stephen Brailsford is managing the replacement of exotic trees at Burnham Military Camp. The project, three years on, has seen up to 45,000 natives planted.

Sparked by wind storm damage in September 2013, the project is to replace most of the camp’s exotic trees with the kind of native bush originally standing on the Canterbury Plains’ dry soils. . .

Dairy wants to play its part – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra recognises dairy is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and wants to do something about it, environment manager Francesca Eggleton says.

The industry faced a potentially extremely large liability.

Dairy produced gases from cows, effluent, fertiliser, deforestation to produce palm kernel, energy use and transport.

Of the gases produced 85% were created onfarm, 10% from processing site and 5% from distribution.

The Dumfries House declaration:

On September 9th 2016, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as Patron of the Campaign for Wool in association with M&S, hosted the historic Dumfries House Wool Conference in Scotland.

The conference brought together 250 leading members of the wool industry supply chain, from farm to store, to discuss the current challenges facing wool and how its further use can benefit the planet as a whole.

In his address to the conference, The Prince of Wales officially endorsed the Dumfries House Declaration.This is a ten-point declaration of intent to support an environmentally responsible, sustainable, and commercially viable wool industry. . .


Rural round-up

March 24, 2017

Rabbit virus setback ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ – Alexa Cook:

Canterbury’s regional council knew three weeks ago it could not release a much-anticipated rabbit virus this autumn.

It was not until yesterday Environment Canterbury (ECan) set a new release date of March 2018, saying “more work was needed to get the necessary approvals”.

Federated Farmers said it was disappointed by the setback. Farmers would have to rely on poisons yet again.

Its Otago president, Phill Hunt, said he spent about $15,000 a year controlling rabbits on his sheep and byeef farm near Queenstown. . .

British farmers want lamb deal with kiwis  – Colin Ley:

The idea of Britain and New Zealand working together to promote a complementary fresh lamb offer, with seasonality being used to stimulate demand, was discussed during a recent meeting between English and Welsh farming leaders and delegates from the kiwi meat industry.

A similar plea for closer co-operation between NZ and United Kingdom lamb producers, including on pricing levels, was also voiced to Farmers Weekly by north of England sheep sector leader, Richard Findlay. . . 

Quake hit farmers face winter in damaged homes – Maja Burry:

Quake-hit farmers with damaged homes urgently need suitable accommodation before winter, a group supporting them says.

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust spokesperson Sarah Barr said about 20 farming families were applying to buy temporary housing units from the government.

The units, which were no longer needed in Christchurch, could be bought for $25,000 excluding relocation costs of about $30,000. . .

Ag trainers to get more help – Neal Wallace:

The beleaguered training and education sector has received some welcomed news with PrimaryITO adopting a greater and more diverse training role.

The changes followed a difficult two years for primary sector training providers in which a number closed but that came with the realisation training was essential to meet the Government’s goal of doubling the value of primary sectors exports by 2025, chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said. . .

The Green Issue: Awatere Valley high country station farmers among environment award finalists – Mike Watson:

High country farmers Steve and Mary Satterthwaite have shown how to farm sustainably on difficult land through dedication, innovation and efficiency.

Steve has farmed Muller Station, in the upper Awatere Valley, for the past 37 years.

The 38,000-hectare high country station carries about 14,500 merino sheep, and 2000 angus cattle, and is self-sufficient with well-stocked gardens and freezers.

When he first arrived on the farm it was overrun by rabbits and scabweed, he said.

Fonterra Announces 2017 Interim Results

Results Highlights

• Forecast Farmgate Milk Price $6.00 per kgMS

• Forecast cash payout $6.40 after retentions*

• Interim dividend of 20 cents per share – to be paid in April

• Revenue $9.2 billion, up 5%

• Normalised EBIT $607 million, down 9% . . .

Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware –  Jason Koebler:

A dive into the thriving black market of John Deere tractor hacking.

To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America’s heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that’s cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.

Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform “unauthorized” repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time.

“When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don’t have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it,” Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. “Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix].” . . .


Rural round-up

March 6, 2017

Leading by example – Cheyenne Stein

Like many young girls, Megan Hands dreamt of being a vet. Today she’s a farm environmental auditor at Irrigo Centre helping farmers come to grips with environmental policies.

Megan grew up on her parents’ dairy farm in Shannon and it was during the early days of the Horizons One Plan that she revised her career path.

“When I was younger there were some resource management battles going on in Opiki near our farm and my dad started to get involved with that and that’s when I started to take an interest in the resource management side of agriculture.”

How many cows are polluting urban harbours? – Alan Emmerson:

I was really interested to read articles in the Herald on Auckland’s polluted beaches. Well-researched and well-written they showed me a problem of massive proportions. We have our nation’s biggest city’s beaches polluted by sewage every time it rains.

It is not an insignificant problem either as the Herald’s coverage showed. One million cubic metres of wastewater and raw sewage, the equivalent of 400 Olympic swimming pools, pours into Auckland Harbour each year.

The waste comes from 41 points around the city almost every time it rains.

As a farmer, albeit semi-retired, I found the story fascinating. Every week we read in the paper that Greenpeace, the Greens, Fish and Game or Massey’s Mike Joy are slagging farmers over water quality.

When it comes to our biggest city, however, it seems that councils can pollute with impunity. . . .

Water quality everyone’s goal – Neal Wallace and Richard Rennie:

Manawatu dairy farmer James Stewart believes the goals the Government has set in its latest freshwater standards are aspirational and should engage entire communities, rather than leave the farming sector on its own to solve.

“The goal to make 90% of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers swimmable is a message for us all as New Zealanders to step up and do our bit to achieve that,” he said. . . 

Walking access cut as cattle spooked  – Chris Morris:

Dunedin city councillor Doug Hall is at the centre of a fresh land dispute, after locking the gates on public access to a walking track crossing his farm.

It was confirmed yesterday the council had closed the Cleghorn St track, above St Leonards, and the Campbell St track, near Bethunes Gully, following complaints from the landowner, Cr Hall, last month.

The Cleghorn St track had since been reopened on a ‘‘restricted’’ basis, and walkers had been cautioned to beware of stock, but it appeared the Campbell St track would remain closed for now. . . 

Sleepy Central Otago town of Omakau comes of age – Rhys Chamberlain:

Remember when you could stop at an intersection and not have to wait for traffic to pass? Remember when cheese rolls weren’t fancy? Remember when you could wear stubbies to the pub? 

Omakau still has this. It might be small and slow-moving but all of a sudden people are taking notice.

Seemingly people are looking for a place where the climate is good, their kids are safe, the people are welcoming and which doesn’t have the overinflated housing hype of other Central Otago towns. . . 

Otago student wins Oceania scholarship – Sally Brooker:

Former Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil Tara Willans (18) has been awarded the 2017 Oceania Dairy scholarship.

She will receive an annual payment of $3000 for up to three years, plus the opportunity for paid work experience at Oceania’s milk factory near Glenavy during study breaks.

Tara is starting a bachelor of arts and science majoring in politics and environmental management, with a minor in accounting, at the University of Otago.

”We had more applications this year than any other year we have been doing this,” Oceania Dairy general manager Roger Usmar said.

Award finalists announced:

Six finalists have been named in this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The finalists are sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht (Stoneburn), Nelson and Fiona Hancox (West Otago), Graham and Pam Hunter (Tuapeka West), Simon, Sarah, Allan and Eris Paterson (Gimmerburn), Robin and Emma Wightman (Tuapeka West) and dairy farmers Ben and Tanya Davie (Clydevale).


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