Rural round-up

January 28, 2020

Farmers face ‘catastrophic’ costs in coming years, despite all sectors performing well – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmer morale is low, despite record highs for commodity prices last year, farmers say.

Lamb, beef, forestry and fruit all saw record prices in 2019, and 2020 got off to a good start with milk prices up 2.8 per cent.

But the sheer amount of challenges “coming down the line”, from regulation like the zero carbon bill and freshwater management policies, to restricted lending from banks has resulted in low farmer confidence and morale, Canterbury dairy farmer Jessie Chan-Dorman said.

“Yes, it’s a really good milk price, but most of us will be paying down debt and consolidating. There won’t be the growth we’ve seen in previous years.” . . 

Drought conditions on the horizon with pockets of extremely dry weather in Waikato – Sharnae Hope:

The country’s biggest dairy region is facing the first signs of a “green drought” after a spell of limited rain for the last couple of weeks.

With summer weather finally in full force temperatures are expected to rise and soil moisture levels plummet throughout Waikato and Northland, NIWA say.

While much of the region still has green paddocks, Northern Waikato and Coromandel/Peninsula have entered very dry to extremely dry conditions.

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said it’s not unusual for this time of year, but if it continues into late February farmers will be concerned. . . 

Hailes a meat man to the bone – Neal Wallace:

Danny Hailes has had plenty of variety in his 27-year career with Alliance but it now reaches a new level with his elevation to livestock and shareholder services manager. He talks to Neal Wallace.

WHEN Danny Hailes looks back over his meat industry career he quotes one statistic he says reveals much about the capability of New Zealand sheep and beef farmers.

In 2004 Hailes managed the company’s newly bought and renovated Dannevirke plant where the average weight of lambs processed that season was 15.5kg.

Seven years later in his last year managing the Pukeuri plant north of Oamaru the average weight of lambs processed was over 18kg. . . 

2020 the year of ‘New-Gen’ ag – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Could 2020 be the year of New Zealand ‘generative agriculture’? 

A new thought for the New Year – New Zealand ‘generative agriculture’… or New-gen, for short.

New-gen captures New Zealand’s approach to the soil-plant-animal-environment continuum that makes up agriculture: animals have been moved in herds or flocks around the farm or station, enabling them to graze the pasture at its optimum quantity and quality and return dung and urine to the soil in situ. Earthworms have been introduced to enhance organic matter incorporation into the soil and water has been applied in some areas to overcome drought. The result is that organic matter has been maintained or increased.

Efficiencies developed over the past 100 years have been based on science, informed by research, and honed by farmers. . . 

Rabobank climbs rural loans ladder – Nigel Stirling:

Rabobank has leapfrogged ASB to become the country’s third largest rural lender in yet another sign the Australian banks are backing off lending to farmers.

The Dutch bank had $10.7b on loan to farmers at the end of September, behind ANZ with $17.4b and the BNZ with $14.1b, official figures show.

ASB, which is culling jobs at its rural lending division as it sets itself for a slow-down in lending growth, slipped to fourth place with $10.6b of rural loans. Westpac rounded out the top five with loans of $8.6b.

The switch in rankings follows a strong period of lending growth for Rabobank at the same time as three of the four Australian-owned banks throttled back their lending to the sector. . . 

Veganism may not save the world but healthier animals could – Jeff Simmons:

At this month’s Golden Globes, the meal got almost as much attention as the movies with award-winner Joaquin Phoenix and other celebrities touting veganism as a path to saving the planet. The event’s meatless menu created a lot of buzz and critics gave the effort mixed reviews.

I’m a big proponent of reducing our impact on the environment and I applaud people who want to be part of real change. We face big challenges and it will take all of us working together. If there’s one thing I can absolutely agree with Joaquin on, it’s that we should be talking about animals and their impact on our world. But his storyline is missing the bigger picture. Let’s make sure the facts don’t hit the cutting room floor.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 26, 2020

New policy might limit farming – Neal Wallace:

Farmers fear new biodiversity policy could force councils to make them restore areas of indigenous flora and fauna on their land.

The Government has released its proposed draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which leans heavily on councils to identify, monitor and manage areas with significant indigenous biodiversity.

Within five years councils will have to identify and map significant natural areas using standard national criteria, manage any adverse effects on those areas and survey native wildlife in and outside the areas to determine if they are threatened or affected by land use activities. . .

Sarah’s Country: Are we fit for a better world? – Sarah Perriam:

Sarah’s Country’s debut episode focuses on the key elements of this vision for New Zealand that includes a swing towards regenerative agriculture, capturing the value of the billion-dollar plant protein trend and offsetting our carbon emissions with environmental integrity, not ‘thin air fake’ credits.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Kate Scott. Kate is a director of LandPro and a 2018 Nuffield Scholar living in Central Otago. . .

Farm sales start to look up:

Farm sales were down 21.6% for the three months ended December 2019 versus the year prior ­— but sales look to be lifting.

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows that farm sales increased by 22.3% in the three months ended December 2019 compared to the three months ended November 2019, with 345 and 282 sales respectively. . .

$8 payout possible – Peter Burke:

The guessing game has begun to predict what dairy farmers will get for their milk this season.

The consensus in the sector is that the price will be positive: numbers ranging from $7.15/kgMS to $7.50/kgMS, although ASB rural economist Nathan Penny is sticking his neck out and suggesting it could reach $8/kgMS.

Fonterra says its forecast is in the range of $7.00 to $7.60 with the midpoint being $7.30.

Dr. Mitloehner issues warning on increasing herd sizes – Charles O’Donnell:

While there is not necessarily a need to cut herd sizes for the purpose of climate change mitigation, increasing numbers is also not the way to go, according to Dr. Frank Mitloehner.

Dr. Mitloehner, a well-known professor and air quality specialist, was speaking at an event called ‘Climate Action in Agriculture: A Balanced Approach’ in Dublin today, Tuesday, January 21, which was organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The German-born Californian-based professor spoke out against the perceived necessity to cut herd sizes. However, when asked about the growing numbers of animals in the dairy industry, he warned that going in the opposite direction by increasing numbers would pose a climate issue. . . 

Government urged to block high carbon food imports :

Britain cannot risk importing food with a higher carbon footprint than food which has been produced in the UK, a new report says.

Released by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), it says British farming produces some of the most sustainable food in the world and that emissions from UK beef is half that of the global average.

Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK presents a detailed range of options to drive emissions reductions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 21, 2020

Meat prices squeeze domestic suppliers – Neal Wallace:

A correction in global meat prices has prompted Alliance to scale back its minimum price contracts while sustained high values have forced the closure of a Dunedin meat small goods manufacturer.

Lamb volumes accepted for Alliance’s minimum price contracts have been scaled back because they were oversubscribed and international meat prices have eased, livestock and shareholder services manager Danny Hailes says.

Global demand for protein, primarily driven by China, which has lost half its pig population to African swine fever, is pushing up prices but there was a significant correction over Christmas.

Alliance’s minimum price lamb contract is set at $8.10/kg. Last week the South Island schedule was about $7.70/kg, AgriHQ analysts said. . . 

Happy to be involved with marketing bid – Sally Rae:

When it comes to the future of farming, Omarama farmer Trent Spittle believes it will be the end users of products who will decide what happens on farm.

So when approached by outdoor equipment and clothing retailer Kathmandu to be involved with a marketing campaign for its new merino range, showing the entire process from on the farm through to garment manufacturing, he was happy to oblige.

Mr Spittle manages Quailburn Downs, a 2600ha sheep and beef property near Omarama’s Clay Cliffs landmark. . .

Group aims to boost sheep milk – Annette Scott:

Most people in the South Island associate the iconic high country sheep with meat and wool but that is changing as enterprising pioneers establish sheep-milking operations. Founding member of the Canterbury Dairy Sheep Association David Waghorn talked to Annette Scott.     

Sheep milker David Waghorn is confident the Canterbury Dairy Sheep Association will drive opportunities for local sheep milking farmers.

Canterbury has fallen behind the North Island in developing a sheep dairy industry, missing out on investment in infrastructure and research funding, he says.

The association, set up in September, is charged with changing that. .. 

The case for protective planting :

 Catastrophic Australian bushfires are hardly the result of a single cause.

Those who argue this shouldn’t be seen as an up-close-and-personal face of climate change are delusional. Scientific predictions that the climatic fixings for more extreme bushfires – more intense drought, higher temperatures, stronger winds – have shown up as predicted and on cue.

That said, those who point instead to political issues bedevilling the management of the risk are hardly raising a red herring.

The incoherence of the decision making between federal, state and shire authorities has been horridly exposed in terms of the allocation, and marshalling, of resources. . . 

Family and successful farming career built in Gore – Sally Rae:

“Like all good stories, it began with a boy.”

When Jess Moore moved from Melbourne to Gore, she had no knowledge of farming, nor did she even know where the town was. Fast forward a decade or so and she is proud to be a Southland dairy farmer.

After almost nine years of marriage and three children, Mrs Moore and her husband Don have now bought their own farm northeast of Gore, having made progress through the industry.

Mrs Moore particularly loved how willing people in the industry were to share their knowledge and experiences.

They were a young couple, not from a farming background, and had taken all opportunities available and immersed themselves “in as much dairy as we could”. . . 

Freshwater management unit for Hokitika – Lois Williams:

People who care about their local rivers and the way the water is used might want to show up for meetings in Hokitika and Harihari this week.

The West Coast Regional Council is about to launch the Hokitika Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) and it needs volunteers from all sectors of the community to be on it.

The Hokitika FMU is the third to be set up on the coast, after the establishment of Grey/Mawhera and Karamea groups, and it takes in the area from the Taramakau River to the Waiau (Franz Josef).

FMU’s are part of the government’s strategy to stop the degradation of rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands around the country. . . 


Rural round-up

January 18, 2020

Disease’s cost killed meat firm – Jacob McSweeny:

Meat production at a 100-year-old Dunedin company has ceased and 13 staff have been made redundant but the owner of The Craft Meat Company says the business will live on.

The decision came after meat producers’ profits were cut by rising costs due to a global shortage of protein triggered by the African swine fever epidemic, owner Grant Howie said.

‘‘[It was] the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do,’’ Mr Howie said of the decision to axe staff. . . 

Sage softens lease land changes – Neal Wallace:

The Government appears to have softened the sharpest edges of proposed changes to the management of pastoral lease land while confirming farming will continue in the South Island high country.

The bill detailing changes to the Crown Pastoral Lands Act appears to back down on initial proposals that included greater political oversight of the activities of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, traditionally an independent position.

It seems also to accept submissions from farming sectors that lessees have legal rights to pasturage and quiet enjoyment of their land, which would have been compromised by the original recommendations. . . 

Fonterra pioneer expects much better:

One of the architects of Fonterra says he’s very disappointed with the co-op’s performance over the years.

Tirau farmer, Tony Wilding says farmers expected better when they formed the co-op in 2001. “It’s not the performance we had in mind when we formed Fonterra,” he told Rural News.

Wilding received a New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s honours list for his contribution to the dairy sector and community. . .

New chief executive for Meat Industry Association – Sudesh Kissun:

The Meat Industry Association has appointed Sirma Karapeeva as its new chief executive.

Karapeeva, who is currently the Meat Industry Association’s (MIA) trade and economic manager, has been with the trade association since 2015. She replaces Tim Ritchie who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Karapeeva, who takes over in April, held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles in Government before joining MIA.

Kiwifruit prices hit record high:

Kiwifruit prices were at an all-time high in December 2019, with prices for seasonal fruit and vegetables also up, Stats NZ said today.

“Kiwifruit prices rose 32 percent in December to a weighted average price of $8.27 per kilo, an all-time high,” acting consumer prices manager James Griffin said.

“This compares with $4.24 in December last year.” . . 

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open January 15th.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz. . . 


Rural round-up

December 31, 2019

Land Champion: helping girls gain confidence – Neal Wallace:

Laura Douglas has successfully slayed her demons and is now using everyday farming skills to help teenage girls confront theirs.

Depression four years ago thrust the 32-year-old Southlander into some dark places, places unimaginable today given her boundless energy, endless positivity and zest for life and people.

Douglas addressed her depression by taking small steps, getting out and doing things such as volunteering at a horse refuge and celebrating small achievements. . .

Alliance aiming for ‘greater value’ as part of evolution – Brent Melville:

Southland-based  farmer co-operative Alliance Group wants to capture “greater value” from its products as part of its evolution to a food and solutions business, chairman Murray Taggart says.

Last month, Alliance Group announced a profit of $20.7million before distributions and tax, on revenue of $1.7billion.

It has now paid $9million to its supplying shareholders.

Mr Taggart said it was the best trading result since 2010.

“While this year’s result enabled us to reward shareholders with a profit distribution, we recognise the need to lift the profitability further. . . 

Land Champion: Many string in Jones’ bow – Annette Scott:

From humble beginnings 19 years ago Matt and Tracey Jones now do business worldwide to help Canterbury farmers staff their farms and have launched a world class learning environment in rural Mid Canterbury to provide elite education to strengthen New Zealand primary industries. Annette Scott caught up with the agribusiness entrepreneurs.

Mid Canterbury couple Matt and Tracey Jones’ agricultural staffing businesses is going world-wide recruiting and training people to work across all sectors of New Zealand’s primary industries.

Starting out as Mid Canterbury Casual Employment Services in 2001 their recruitment and training business has evolved and expanded to meet agriculture’s increasing needs. . .

$42.55m in I billion trees project funding:

Figures released by Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand) this week show 228 grant applications were received for funding under the Government’s One Billion Trees Programme this year, a total of $42.55million being allocated across 42 projects.

Te Uru Rakau acting deputy director-general Sam Keenan said $22.2million of that had been approved across 10,758.4 hectares of new planting.

“To date approximately 17,056,165 trees comprised of 9,785,067 native and 7,271,098 exotic trees have been funded.” . . 

Ngāi Tahu hopes to raise funds for undaria management by selling the seaweed – Louisa Steyl:

It’s a frigid morning off the coast of Dunedin when a wetsuit-clad diver rises to the surface clutching a slimy prize.

The trophy is a seaweed known as undaria pinnatifida – a pest native to Japan and Korea – and physically cutting it out is the only way to control it. 

On board the Polaris 2, a research vessel stationed just a few metres away, members of Ngāi Tahu is processing and packing the seaweed for research.

Its trying to determine the possible uses of undaria in the hopes that harvesting it could pay for control efforts.  . . 

 

Planning to feed? Try the calculator app to help come with complex decisions :

Livestock producers are now planning for difficult conditions through summer and autumn, going into winter.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services have advised producers to use available tools and tactics to develop feasible solutions for worst case to best case scenarios.

DPI sheep development officer, Geoff Casburn, said the free Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play to help calculate feed requirements, costs and budgets and develop cost effective feeding strategies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 15, 2019

Otago institutions work to create virtual centre for rural health education :

Three Otago institutions are teaming up to improve the future of rural health care.

The University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic and Central Otago Health Services have signed a memorandum of understanding on rural health care practice, service, education and research.

The organisations want to create a virtual centre for rural health education. . .

Telford campus future secured at graduation – John Cosgrove:

During the 2019 graduation ceremony, Southern Institute of Technology chief executive Penny Simmonds spoke of the multimillon-dollar plans for the future of the Balclutha farming industry training institute.

“We are projecting to spend $6 million over the next couple of years on Telford, making sure that it is ramped up with plenty of students there getting graduates out into the primary sector.”

“I am really pleased that SIT have locked in a good level of funding to be able to do the upgrades they need to do at Telford. . .

Emissions profile sparks debate – Laura Smith:

It is a moot point; discussion about whether Southland has too many cows has been generated after Great South released the 2018 Southland greenhouse gas emission profile earlier this week.

Agricultural-related emissions were found to be the largest emission source for Southland, accounting for 69% of overall gross emissions.

Greenpeace sustainable agriculture campaigner Gen Toop said there were too many cows.

“We urgently need fewer cows if we are going to address the climate and water crises.” . .

Fortuna buys Zeestraten farms from Southern Centre – Neal Wallace:

Four farms at the centre of the Southland Mycoplasma bovis outbreak have been sold.

Southern Centre Dairies, owned by Alfons and Gea Zeestraten, has been bought by Southland dairy farming firm, Fortuna Group.

Zeestraten said he is uncertain what he will do next, before politely declining to comment further. . .

 

Commission grants clearance for Cardrona to acquire Treble Cone

The Commerce Commission has granted clearance for Cardrona Alpine Resort Limited to acquir either the shares of Treble Cone Investments Limited or the assets it uses to operate the Treble Cone ski field.

In considering Cardrona’s application for clearance, the Commission focussed on whether the price of single day, multi day and season ski passes would increase with the acquisition, including to skiers in the Wanaka region, and whether the acquisition would increase the likelihood of coordination on ski pass prices. The Commission also considered the extent to which an alternative purchaser would invest in, and develop, the Treble Cone ski field. . .

International Human Resources specialist to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients lead team:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is proud to announce that Jackie Rich, an internationally experienced human resources professional, has accepted the role of General Manager People and Capability.

“We’re excited to add Jackie to our team. She is a proven HR leader who has successfully led teams at both strategic and operational levels, with over 20 years’ experience spanning the full spectrum of HR functions”, says Mark Wynne, Chief Executive Officer. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 27, 2019

Australian pair are here to learn – Sally Rae:

When 2019 Zanda McDonald Award joint winners Shannon Landmark and Luke Evans visited Omarama last week, it truly was a flying visit.

The Australian pair flew into the Waitaki Valley township on a Pilatus aircraft that had been chauffeuring them around the country on a mentoring trip, as part of their prize package.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014, in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property. . .

Seaweed products pioneer named supreme winner in rural women business awards – Angie Skerrett:

A company that has pioneered the use of seaweed products has won the supreme award in this year’s NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards. 

The annual awards celebrate and showcase entrepreneurship and innovation by rural women.

At a function in the Banquet Hall at Parliament, AgriSea Business Development Manager Clare Bradley accepted the supreme award for the Paeroa-based family business.  . . 

AgriSea specialises in the manufacture of macro-algae concentrates and bioactive extractions to add high-value nutrition for soil, plant, animal and human health.  . . 

Seeking sustainability at scale – Neal Wallace:

Ross and Jo Hay are typical of thousands of young farming couples who work hard and continually search for a chance to grow and get ahead. Neal Wallace met the North Otago couple to find out how they are establishing their careers. 

Ross and Jo Hay are not oblivious to the uncertainty associated with the clouds of rules looming on the farming horizon but they have decided to take a glass half full approach.

Fuelled with enthusiasm and determination to pursue a farming career the Hays are confident there will be opportunity among the plethora of Government rules bearing down on the sector.

“People got through the 1980s,” Ross says. . .

Blueberry picking looms – Abbey Palmer:

As leaves fall and berries begin to change from green to blue, Southland’s only blueberry farm is gearing up for another season of hand-picked fun.

With 220 hectares of land planted in bushes, Otautau’s Blueberry Country will be opening its gates to the public this summer for the eight-week season.

Blueberry Country general manager Simon Bardon said the 10 staff members were hoping to be able to welcome visiting pickers from early January through till the end of February.

“One of the best parts of blueberry picking season is seeing all of the families out and kids knackered from running up and down the orchards,” Mr Bardon said. . .

 

Happy Cow Diaries part 4: We’re back, and ready to take on industrial dairying – Glen Herud:

Happy Cow Milk is poised to relaunch with a new business model and an invention that could revolutionise dairy production, explains founder Glen Herud, in the latest instalment of his Spinoff series documenting the company’s fall and rise again.

Just as we were chilling the beers for our equity crowdfunding launch last Thursday we crossed the line. We cracked those beers instead, because by the time I got home we had fulfilled our target of raising $400,000. After months of work it was a huge relief to reach our goal, and we did it in just 8 hours and 8 minutes.

It was a rare day of success in what sometimes feels like an endless start-up slog. The best part for me is the confirmation that New Zealanders are ready for change. They want solutions that reduce emissions, look after animals, protect waterways and reduce plastics. And they want to connect with farmers and food production in a more positive way . .

Staring into oblivion: People of the drought lands watch their world disappear – Rob Harris:

It’s 5.45am in Casino, just over an hour’s drive inland from Byron Bay in northern NSW, and the smoke from weeks of bushfires lingers, casting a gloomy haze over the sunrise.

The early shift at the town’s meat works has filed in and the piercing noise of an electric hand saw cutting its way through carcass after carcass drowns out the Monday morning chatter.

The Northern Co-operative Meat Company is the town’s biggest private employer with 1000 people – 10 per cent of Casino’s population – relying on a constant flow of cattle to make ends meet. . .


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