Rural round-up

March 12, 2018

Thousands of trees hide the scars of Cyclone Bola on Mangaroa Station at Tokomaru Bay – Kate Taylor:

‘It was like a bloody atomic bomb had gone off.’ An East Coast farmer looks back at Cyclone Bola. Kate Taylor continues her series marking the storm’s 30th anniversary.

Sam Reeves loves farming Mangaroa Station today but can only imagine its devastation at the hands of Cyclone Bola.

At age 27, he wasn’t born when the historic storm hit the East Coast of the North Island in 1988.

But he is the same age previous owner Graeme Williams was when Cyclone Bola dumped more than 900mm of rain on the Tokomaru Bay farm in just two days.

“When I went to bed on the night of the 7th it was pouring down with rain,” Williams says. . .

More weight for ag emissions tax – Neal Wallace:

Another unequivocal message has been delivered that agriculture needs to shoulder a greater share of the efforts and costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In January Climate Change Minister James Shaw signalled agriculture could be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme and this week the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton said climate change policy cannot ignore agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

New Zealand has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 but Upton said climate change policies lack bite for fear they would compromise competitiveness. . . 

Rabobank New Zealand Agribusiness Monthly March 2018:

The Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key Highlights:

Dairy
Can the price rally survive the EU Spring peak?

Beef
Is there potential for near term price falls? . . .

Industrialised meat backlash to favour NZ sheep and beef farmers – Bill Wright:

The planets seem to be aligning for sheep and beef farmers this season.

We have had that rare combination of excellent growing conditions and strong prices for both beef and lamb – prime and store.

Adding to what has been a positive start to the year was the release of a Beef + Lamb New Zealand- commissioned report on alternative proteins.

The research showed that despite the emergence of alternative proteins, the future for this country’s grass-fed red meat is healthy. Internationally, consumers are seeking red meat produced without hormones or antibiotics and to the highest standards of animal welfare – and NZ farm systems tick all of these boxes. . . 

Kansas City’s agriculture roots run deep: Cowtown turned animal health & technology centre:

At the bend in the Missouri River on grass covered flats if you listen close you might hear echoes of the past; hoofbeats, whistling, spurs jangling, the slap of leather and the high pitched zzzzzz of a lariat. Cowboys, dust covered and bone tired, riding weary cowponies barely heard over the bawling of thousands of Texas steers, “Hold’em here boys, the drives bout over.”

Kansas City sprouted from its agricultural heritage as a Cowtown. The transition to a center for animal health, education, and technology seems only natural for a town that for hundreds of years has had millions of animals pass through this gateway to the west. . .

 

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Rural round-up

March 4, 2018

Meat sector aiming high – Neal Wallace:

A national brand for meat supported by a story detailing New Zealand farming practices will be released within the next few months to spearhead the sector’s response to the growth of competing artificial protein.

A just-released study on the threat of alternative protein to NZ’s red meat sector commissioned by Beef + Lamb NZ identifies beef in our largest market, the United States, as most at risk from the growth of artificial protein.

It warns plant-based burgers and mince will likely be widely available throughout the US within five years and China in 10 years, potentially targeting the grinding beef market. . .

A2 Milk executives cash out of surging shares with combined $36.6 mln payday – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co executives have enjoyed a combined $36.6 million payday after cashing in on a surging share price since the milk marketer’s announcement last week that first-half profit more than doubled and it had inked a deal with Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Share sales over the four days following the Feb. 21 announcement included $18.5 million sold by departing chief executive Geoff Babidge, who hands over the reins to Jetstar chief Jayne Hrdlicka this year. . . 

Farmers’ stress over cattle disease: ‘We hope we will survive this onslaught – Gerald Piddock:

The distress of battling Mycoplasma bovis and trying to keep a multimillion-dollar farm business has been laid to bare in emails between the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLG) and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The strain VLG owners Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen were under as they battle to eradicate the cattle disease while saving their farm business during, at times, a tense relationship with the MPI was shown in the release of more than 250 pages of documents released under the Official Information Act to Stuff.

Parts of the documents were heavily redacted for privacy or commercial reasons. . . 

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q1 2018: Impact of Trade Agreements and Blockchain Technology:

A number of trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a proposed Mercosur/EU trade agreement, look set to start having an impact on global beef trade in 2018. At the same time, applications of blockchain technology are now being widely developed in the food industry, with opportunities to realise benefits further up the supply chain growing, according to the RaboResearch Beef Quarterly Q1 2018.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
The 11-member version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looks set for formal signing in March (although respective governments need to sign off on the details before implementation). Gains are expected for beef-exporting countries Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada—through reduced tariffs into key global beef importer Japan, plus reduced tariffs into smaller importing countries Chile, Vietnam, and Peru. . . 

Empowering rural women:

Farming Women Tairawhiti (FWT) has taken off since it was founded in 2014. Chairwoman Sandra Matthews from Te Kopae Station at Rere tells the Weekender about her role in the organisation and the support avaliable for women who want to achieve more in their farming businesses.

In resource terms, Rere farmer and Farming Women Tairawhiti (FWT) chairwoman Sandra Matthews has struck personal gold while the organisation has grown exponentially.

The Gisborne farmer has helped empower farming women in this region, tapping into an often under-utilised pool of talent that sits within New Zealand’s farming communities. . .

Winning share farmers love the thrill:

The Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year say entering the competition has been excellent for networking, growth and knowledge of their business.

“It’s been a huge benefit to receive feedback from the judges on ways we can improve our business. Plus we love the thrill of the competition,” say Thomas and Jennifer Read.

The region’s other major winners are Gerard Boerjan, the Dairy Manager of the Year, and Brock Cumming, the Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

March 2, 2018

Paving the way for better wool returns – Peter McDonald:

Is another “wool boom” on its way?

Well that’s a bold question to ask considering the prices we are receiving at this present time for our crossbred wool. If we can park the present and try to look to the future we may find some green shoots of optimism regarding wool.

I’m not going to list off wool’s attributes as most reading this column fully understand them and to a large degree here lies the problem. We know these attributes well but an entire generation of consumers has lost the connection with wool as a fibre. These characteristics I believe should be more relevant in the near future to connected modern consumers who are highly choice savvy.

Why am I optimistic? A growing global movement is expanding rapidly around fixing plastic pollution in our oceans. David Attenborough’s appeal through emotive images has placed the plastic catastrophe in our oceans directly into millions of living rooms. . . 

Record export lamb prices nudge terms of trade to new high:

Record export lamb and butter prices helped boost New Zealand’s terms of trade by 0.8 percent in the December 2017 quarter, to another new high, Stats NZ said today.

Export meat prices rose 7.5 percent in the December 2017 quarter, mainly reflecting high lamb prices (up 12 percent).

Total export prices rose 4.9 percent, with dairy and forestry prices also contributing to the rise. . . 

South Canterbury arable farmers lose $30m from stubble-burn ban – Pat Deavoll:

A fire ban and wet autumn and winter may have cost Mid and South Canterbury’s arable farmers more than $30 million, with several of them showing losses of more than $500,000. 

“I think the $30m loss is true, I’ve done the same calculations. It’s cost me a considerable amount of money,” said Federated Farmers arable industry group Guy Wigley, who farms at Waimate.

Wigley said every week of autumn planting which had been delayed had cost him about a quarter of a tonne of yield . . 

Call for farmers to report high-risk animal purchases:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) urges dairy or beef farmers who believe they may have animals that could be at high risk for Mycoplasma bovis infection to make contact immediately.

The Ministry’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn, says MPI is accelerating its tracing and surveillance programme so that a decision whether to proceed with eradication can be made as soon as possible.

“Right now, we need to hear from any farmers who have bought cows and calves or milk for calf feed from farms that have been publicly identified as infected. . . 

Farmers must voice concerns – Neal Wallace:

The chairman-elect of Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a Southlander who believes farming should not shy away from challenges or debate. He brought Neal Wallace up to date on what to expect when he takes over from James Parsons.

Andrew Morrison never intended having an involvement in farmer politics until he was drawn to make submissions on regional and district council plans.

Fearing councils could take control of riparian margins and strips and restrict cultivation on flood plains, Morrison lobbied to preserve landowners’ property rights and soon found himself involved with Federated Farmers.

It was an apprenticeship that taught him plenty and ultimately led to him being chairman-elect of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

High venison prices no big deal – Annette Scott:

European importers are starting to baulk at high New Zealand venison prices but it’s not a major concern – yet, Deer Industry NZ marketing manager Nick Taylor says.

“They are coming over here to negotiate export contracts saying it is very expensive but can we have some more.

“They still want it and they are still buying,” Taylor said.

But some importers are going home empty-handed, reluctant to pay the price some others, both from the United States and the European Union, are paying. . .

 

Richie McCaw’s flying milk run:

Fonterra provided nearly 20 million packs of milk free to 145,000 primary school students last year as part of its Milk for Schools scheme, now in its fifth year.

At the 2012 launch, 119 schools joined and last year 1431 schools took part.

To mark the fifth year, former All Black captain Richie McCaw will fly special helicopter milk runs to schools.

He will visit four schools selected from online entries saying why he should visit. Where possible, he will fly in to deliver milk. Local farmers will also be part of the visit. . .

Fonterra set to make further gains in global market with new Bangladesh partnership:

Fonterra is breaking new ground in South Asia’s rapidly growing dairy market, with the signing of a new distribution agreement that will make Anchor available to millions more consumers in Bangladesh. The deal is part of the Co-operative’s ongoing efforts to win in key overseas markets, by spreading the goodness of dairy nutrition.

The population of Bangladesh has grown by more than 10 per cent in the last 10 years reaching over 160 million people and it now makes up over two per cent of the world’s total population.  Matched by strong economic growth, consumers in Bangladesh are looking for affordable healthy nutrition options, such as high-quality dairy. 

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Sri Lanka and Indian Subcontinent, Sunil Sethi said Anchor is well placed to drive growth, while improving the wellbeing of Bangladeshis. . .

Joint venture company commences operations in Rolleston:

Pure Nutrition Ltd (PNL) the joint venture company formed by Ausnutria and Westland Milk Products, has commenced operation in the Izone business hub near Rolleston.

PNL is a stand-alone blending and canning company. It will can milk powders and other nutritional products sourced from Westland for Ausnutria and other customers. The company was established through an initial investment by Ausnutria of NZ$4.5million cash, and the transfer to Pure Nutrition of land owned by Westland at its Rolleston site, which had a value of NZ$3million. Ownership is 60% Ausnutria and 40% Westland Milk Products. . . 


Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.

 


Rural round-up

January 14, 2018

Opuha River ‘flushing’ to control algae, didymo barely noticeable with river in flood, Opuha Ltd says – Elena McPhee:

It may have been barely perceptible to the eye, but releasing water from the Opuha Dam on Friday has hopefully wiped out a large quantity of didymo and other algae in the river, Opuha Water Ltd says.

Operations manager Craig Moore said the dam released a flow peaking about 65 cubic metres per second (cumecs), or 300,000 cubic metres in total during the “flushing” process in the Opuha River on Friday morning.

The river “pulse” stayed within river margins, and the wave was not really noticeable as it made its way downstream, Moore said. . .

Farmers make tracing stock hard -Neal Wallace:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still the Ministry for Primary Industry’s goal but farmers appear unconvinced it is achievable.

Another case confirmed on an Ashburton farm this week took the total to 14 but some of the more than 800 farmers who attended packed meetings with MPI officials in Methven and Ashburton last Thursday think that while admirable, eradication is unlikely and they might have to learn to live with the disease.

The ministry’s response incident controller David Yard announced plans to test three samples of milk from every dairy farm in the country from February, including milk entering the food chain as well as milk excluded from the vat in a bid to uncover any infection clusters. . . 

Lambs wool in demand – Alan Williams:

Lambs’ wool was in short supply and sold strongly at Thursday’s wool sales in Christchurch and Napier.

Buyers pushed up prices as they worked to fill orders, especially for fleece at 30 microns and lower, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

Those wools were up to 8% higher in price with 30 to 32 micron lambs’ wool up to 4% dearer in Christchurch. . . 

Sex on the farm: How gene editing can revolutionize feeding the world – Ed Maixner:

(Editor’s note: Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new ways of farming and producing food. But there are big innovations underway in labs and universities that analysts describe as “revolutionary,” enabling the creation of new plants and animals in months rather than decades. For the next few weeks, Agri-Pulse will explore “The Breeding Edge” – a seven-part series on how these new precision methods for plant and animal breeding are set to transform global food production and the potential impact for agribusinesses, farmers and consumers around the world.)

The process of producing food, protecting the environment, and improving animal health is advancing at a seemingly breakneck pace.

These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power, and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR—an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. . . 

C


Rural round-up

December 9, 2017

Culling continues, MPI quashes ‘stories’ – Sally Brooker:

Cattle culling is continuing on the South Canterbury dairy farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis.

All cows have been removed for slaughter from the first two farms in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ ”depopulation” programme.

The number of farms where the bacterial infection has been confirmed since July remains eight, and 21 properties are still under quarantine restrictions.

After all the infected herds are culled, the farms will be disinfected and go into a stand-down period when no cattle will be allowed there.

The ministry has quashed what it said were ”stories circulating in the farming community that M. bovis survives in soil for years”. . . 

Farmers withdraw appeal to save ratepayers’ cash:

Farmers have pulled the plug on an expensive Environment Court hearing but are deeply disillusioned Invercargill City Council turned its back on an option to amicably settle points of difference.

They are disappointed the rural sector is under relentless pressure to deal with contaminants but the city council is being allowed to discharge stormwater containing untreated human waste into some of the same waterways farmers are working hard to improve.

In October four Southland farmers jointly appealed Environment Southland’s decision to grant Invercargill City Council (ICC) consent to discharge urban stormwater into five local waterways.

The discharges include stormwater from roads, hard stand areas, roofs and permeable surfaces, as well as drainage water.  The ICC has acknowledged this stormwater includes raw sewage, due to the deterioration of infrastructure and incorrect pipe connections. . . 

Reducing nitrogen leaching discussed – Sally Brooker:

Pastures containing plantain and Italian ryegrass could help reduce nitrogen leaching without compromising productivity.

At a North Otago Sustainable Land Management (Noslam) workshop at Weston last week, two scientists from the Forages for Reduced Nitrogen Leaching discussed a six-year programme across the dairy, sheep and beef, and arable sectors, involving nine Canterbury farms.

Paul Edwards, from DairyNZ, said the study looked at plants that were better able to take up nitrogen from the soil and that contained less nitrogen themselves. Pasture that reduced the amount of nitrogen a cow took in and had improved metabolisable energy content would improve animal performance and reduce leaching from urine patches. . . 

Dry weather brings warnings – Neal Wallace:

The country could be headed for drought with no widespread rain expected for the next month to provide relief from the sweltering start to summer, Weather Watch head forecaster Philip Duncan says.

Farmers have contacted him concerned at the dry conditions and with little obvious respite he has warned the Ministry for Primary Industries there are signs the country could be in the early phases of a drought.

“I think we’re going into one but it is a long way off being declared.

“It is very dry and some areas on the east coast of both islands and north of Auckland towards Whangarei are the areas to watch. . . 

Advice for irrigators over a long, dry summer:

With much of New Zealand experiencing exceptionally dry conditions, IrrigationNZ has some advice for irrigators on how to make the most efficient use of water over summer.

According to NIWA, several areas in the South and North Island came close to or broke low rainfall records during November, with rainfall well below normal for much of Canterbury, the West Coast, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu-Whanganui, and parts of Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty. . . 

Why demand for British wool is unravelling – Howard Mustoe:

It is in the finest carpets, it is in Harris Tweed, and now you’ll even find it in top-of-the-range beds; but at £1 a kilo, UK wool hasn’t been this cheap in seven years.

Only 14 months ago, it was worth 30% more. So why is wool coming down in price and how come the cost of that soft woollen jumper isn’t coming down as well?

According to Jo Dawson, who has spent 20 years in the wool trade, there are a number of reasons which have combined over time. Since sheep make wool come what may, if wool demand drops, prices can suffer quickly if fleeces go unsold. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 29, 2017

B+LNZ in global protein study – Neal Wallace:

The meat sector has launched a global study into the threats and opportunities posed by artificial protein, as the fledgling industry continues to attract eye-watering sums of money from rich people.

That investment had also started flowing domestically, with reports movie producers Sir Peter Jackson and his wife Frances Walsh and James Cameron and his wife Susan Amis-Cameron had established PBT New Zealand and started working with the Foundation for Arable Research in a future foods project. . . 

Conference focuses on the future of irrigation:

Registrations for IrrigationNZ’s 2018 national Conference are now open. Unlocking a Golden Future through SMART irrigation is the theme of the conference to be hosted at Alexandra from 17-19 April 2018.

“With so much public focus on irrigation and water issues in the media, this is an important opportunity for farmers and growers, the irrigation service industry, researchers, academics, councils and other groups to come together to discuss the future of water management and irrigation systems,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ Chief Executive. . .

IoT Alliance calls for Government backing to help grow more food – Stuart Corner:

The executive director of the recently formed New Zealand IoT Alliance, Kriv Naicker, has called for government support of the group, its sister organisation the New Zealand AI Forum and the broader tech industry to help address the food needs of a growing global population.

His comments were made in the run up to a conference in Christchurch in early December at which the future of food will be discussed.

“Key tech leaders will attend the Feed the World 2030: Power of Plants Hackathon event on December 2 and 3,” Naicker said. . .

New Chair for New Zealand Avocado Growers Association:

Avocado grower and Avocado Growers Association Representative Tony Ponder has been elected as the New Zealand Avocado Growers Association and Avocado Industry Council Chair.

NZAGA Grower Representative Linda Flegg has been elected as the Vice Chair of the NZAGA.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the New Zealand avocado industry, with an incredible increase in value and the positive collaboration throughout the industry,” says Ponder. . .

Primary Wool appoints new director:

Waikato agribusinesswoman Janette Osborne has been appointed to Primary Wool Cooperative’s (PWC) board.

Chairman Bay de Lautour says special skills and understanding are required with PWC being the only New Zealand wool cooperative, and with its unique cooperative / corporate joint venture with Carrfields in CP Wool. . .

Provincial wedding and function venue business groomed for sale:

One of the plushest function and corporate all-in-one event venues in provincial South Island – complete with its own specialised bakery and patisserie-making kitchen – has been placed on the market for sale for the first time.

StoneBridge wedding and function venue in the South Canterbury township of Geraldine is a purpose-built event-hosting destination which is operated in conjunction with a commercial accommodation arm. . .

 


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