Rural round-up

May 19, 2019

Selling sheep and beef farms to forestry is a threat to food and trade – Stuff Editorial:

His pockets stuffed with millions of dollars for regional development, his mind set on getting unemployed cousins off the couch to plant a billion trees, he stood before a mayoral reception and urged people to get involved.

“If you have an aspiration to turn marginal land into forestry, we are going to do it …” he told his hosts.

The official guide to his One Billion Trees Programme featured the Manawatū sheep and beef farm owned by Justin and Mary Vennell. . . 

Farmer uneasy over farm to forestry conversion plan – Heather Chalmers:

Government incentives to plant trees is leading to a rush of sheep and beef farms being sold for conversion to forests.  

Farmers are worried about the trend, saying that once hill country properties are planted in forests, they will never return to pastoral farming.     

While the Government had banned overseas people, apart from Australians and Singaporeans, from buying existing residential and lifestyle properties, rule changes had made it easier for foreigners to invest in forestry.   . .

There’s rarely a day at least one story from New Zealand Farmers Weekly doesn’t feature in my rural-round-up.

It’s also the one give-away paper that is a must read not just in ours but in every other farming house I know.

It deserves its title of Best Trade Publication in the Voyager NZ Media Awards.

Climate policy still clouded – Neal Wallace:

The government is still to decide the mechanics of how and how much farmers will pay for methane emissions and if it will mean inclusion in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Initially, the point of obligation will be with milk and meat processors but Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says that is for ease of administration and he has made research on shifting the liability to individual farms a priority.

“I want to see us reward good on-farm behaviour and practice as quickly as we can.” . .

Northland a centre of share farming excellence – Hugh Stringleman:

Share Farmers of the Year Colin and Isabella Beazley have their hands full with winter milking and a herd expansion by 200 cows for next season.

The magnitude of their win on the national stage, carrying more than $50,000 worth of prizes, is slowing sinking in amid the enhanced planning and provisioning alongside usual farm work and family life.

Fortunately, they do not have to move farm or home for the next three contracted years of their dairying careers, milking 530-550 cows and aiming for more than 200,000kg milksolids next season. . .

Preventing farmer suicides through helplines and farm visits – Allee Mead:

In 2016, dairy farmers Meg Moynihan and her husband lost the buyer for their organic milk. Because she was working for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Organic Program at the time, Moynihan thought it’d be easy to find a new buyer, but “all doors were closed,” she said. “It was the beginning of the milk glut.”

 


Rural round-up

May 15, 2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

May 10, 2019

Trade water NZ Initiative says – Neal Wallace:

A trading scheme for water, similar to that for emissions, will improve water quality, the New Zealand Initiative says.

Its chief economist Eric Crampton’s report, Refreshing Water: valuing the priceless, advocates a cap and trade market system backed by hard-wired environmental constraints to manage and sustain freshwater resources.

A well-functioning system can ensure all users follow best practice but cannot choose between the merits of competing water and land uses. . .

Bid to assess ‘M. bovis’ scheme surge – Sally Rae:

An independent report has been commissioned into the cause and effects of the current surge in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme and to identify additional immediate improvements.

Last month, the Ministry for Primary Industries announced the programme was increasing activity before autumn and winter stock movements.

About 300 farmers would be contacted as a priority and it was expected 250 of those would have notice-of-direction movement controls placed on them immediately and, following testing, that 10% to 12% might become confirmed properties. . . 

 

Dairy can protect water gain – Tim Fulton:

Water carried Graeme Sutton’s forebears to a life of freedom in New Zealand and it keeps doing the same for them on land. Tim Fulton reports.

Five generations ago, in 1842 Graeme Sutton’s English family landed in Nelson. 

It was the start of a family partnership that has endured and expanded into several irrigated dairy ventures.

“The reason they came out, I understand, is that New Zealand gave them an opportunity for land ownership. They never had that in England. They just worked for a Lord,” Graeme says. . .

Giant new painting reflects Tauranga’s rich horticulture history :

New Zealand’s largest rural art collection that tells the stories of provincial communities has a giant new painting.

Award-winning artist Erika Pearce completed her striking mural on the side of Tauranga’s Farmlands store on Taurikura Drive off State Highway 36.

Pearce started work on April 28 and managed to finish by her May 4 deadline, despite the project being rained off earlier in the week.

The finished product is an impressive 23 metres long. . .

Southland TeenAg member puts love of tractors to work

Southland student Hamish Goatley is using his love of tractors and machinery to make hay while the sun shines.

The 18-year-old spent six weeks over the summer school holidays driving for an agricultural contractor.

“It was an amazing learning experience. I really enjoyed it. It was my first season operating a round baler,” said Goatley.

Goatley is the vice-chair of Gore High School’s thriving TeenAg club. . .

The erosion of trust in society’s food regulators – Scott McPherson:

In a twist of remarkable irony, the very agencies that were put in place to protect each nation’s food supply, health, and environment are now often viewed with suspicion. This follows an overall trend in where, in general, trust in the expertise of society’s authorities appears to be at an all-time low.

What psychology repeatedly tests as the most fearful, anxious, and worried generations in history did not happen by accident. World War II had developed in the previous generations a genuine sense that citizens were united in making society happen. The natural deterioration of that sense happened over time, to everyone except farmers. They still needed their neighbors.

By the 1980s, cities were getting so disconnected that impressionable parents were teaching their children the concept of stranger danger. Considering the fact that modern parents were taught as children that strangers were potentially lethal, today’s lack of trust makes more sense. . .


Rural round-up

May 6, 2019

Gas compromise won’t be enough – Neal Wallace:

It appears the Government has compromised in the treatment of biological and long-lived greenhouse gases but a farming leader warns it is too early to break out the champagne.

Pressure from coalition partners is said to have forced Climate Change Minister James Shaw to agree to separate greenhouse gas reduction targets but Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says the new levels appear to ignore the views of scientists and studies.

Those studies claim that because methane is short lived in the atmosphere, cutting emissions rather than eliminating it will reduce global warming.

Hoggard declined to release the targets he has heard saying they are not official but says it appears the Government has fallen well short of the advice. . . 

Robots take charge – Sonita Chandar:

It is 2am and though it is pitch-black a small mob of cows is strolling toward the cowshed – it is their third visit in one day.

They are the cows that somehow just know a new is paddock available and the only way to get there is through the shed. 

They are what Auckland farmer Brian Yates refers to as hoons.

“Some girls hoon around the three-way grazing system like three-year-olds on red fizzy, arriving at each new break as it becomes available and getting up to three milkings per day. . . 

Joint opportunity – Sheryl Brown:

Cam and Jess Lea have earned the respect of their neighbours to the point that four farming couples have backed them financially into their first sharemilking position after their second year in the industry. Sheryl Brown reports. 

Four Opotiki neighbouring couples have backed Cam and Jess Lea into their first sharemilking business, holding 16% equity share apiece. Andrew and Kelly Clarke, Dave and Nat Wilson, Rob and Moira Anstis, and Colin and Maria Eggleton are all born and bred in Opotiki and knew a good investment when they saw one.

Cam, 28, and Jess, 27, sold their house, their nice vehicle and their boat to put $75,000 into the equity partnership and borrowed the rest to buy the Jersey herd that was already on the farm. . . 

Collins family’s long history of dairying – Julia Evans:

The Collins family celebrated 150 years of farming in Springston on Saturday. Julia Evans speaks to Murray Collins about his family who have lived and worked the land and their roots in the newspaper industry.

There’s Murray and Judy, their daughter Jenny and grandchildren Elsie, Henry and Leila.

Those are the three generations of the Collins family currently living on Springston’s Pendah Farm, which has celebrated 150 years of operation.

But before them there was William, Walter, Leslie and Jack Collins.

William was a typographer who sailed to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 1850, after working for the London Morning Post.

Though he did not settle in Canterbury. . . 

Government should fund fire research:

The National Party is calling on the Government to fund potentially lifesaving research into preventing rural fires, National’s Research, Science and Innovation spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar says.

“Crown Research Institute Scion, which specialises in forestry science, is involved in creating a new fire spread model and investigating new extreme fire prevention methods.

This includes developing new response technologies to prevent and suppress extreme fires,” Dr Parmar says.

“I’m calling on the Government to give Scion the security it needs of $3 million a year so it can continue research and come up with new models to suppress wildfires. This research has previously come from contestable funds but there is no security with that funding. . . 

Cows and climate change: A closer look – Andre Mayer:

The extent to which meat production contributes to climate change is hotly contested. We highlighted some of the concernsin our last issue, but heard from some readers who felt it didn’t convey the full picture.

Earlier this year, when U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first started promoting the Green New Deal — the Democratic proposal to mobilize government to address climate change and income inequality — she made comments about the significant impact of “cow farts” on carbon emissions.

That concerned Frank Mitloehner, an esteemed animal science professor at the University of California, Davis, who tweeted at AOC, telling the rookie lawmaker that “meat/milk” was only responsible for four per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. . . 


Rural round-up

April 20, 2019

Better data will help us do a better job – Federated Farmers:

The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report released today will help all New Zealanders, not just farmers, identify the priorities for action.

But we can only manage what we have information on, Federated Farmers environment and water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our message during the last central government election campaign, when various candidates and commentators were putting the boot into farmers for environmental impacts, was that all Kiwis were in this together. This new report underlines exactly that. . .

Irrigation sector committed to continuing to improve environmental practices:

IrrigationNZ says the recent Environment Aotearoa report highlights the need for farmers and growers to continue work underway to: improve practices on-farm and upskill farmers; invest in cutting edge technology; and implement Farm Environmental Plans to change the way water is used for production.

“In partnership with national and regional government, it’s essential we continue to research, trial and adopt new practices and technology,” says Ms Soal.

“It is critical that we recognise that water is a precious resource which is essential for primary production and regional resilience in the face of climate change and that we use it in a way that is environmentally responsible,” says IrigationNZ Elizabeth Soal. . .

Dairy committed to a better environment:

DairyNZ says today’s Environment Aotearoa 2019 report gives honest insight into New Zealand’s environment and where the opportunities lie for the dairy sector, particularly for water quality, biodiversity and climate change.

Strategic leader for DairyNZ’s environmental portfolio, Dr David Burger, said while the report shows the dairy sector has work to do, there is no doubt farmers are working hard to look after the environment – with significant work already undertaken over the last 10 years to improve environmental practices across New Zealand. . .

Living affects the environment – Neal Wallace:

Our way of life is putting the environment under pressure.

A report produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand with evidence and trends of what is happening to the environment highlights nine key issues.

It is based on a comparison with previous reports, analysis of more than 60 indicators and new methods.

It found native plants, animals and ecosystems are under threat, changes to land vegetation are degrading soil and water, farming is polluting our waterways and water use affects freshwater ecosystems.

Urban centres create environmental pollution with urban sprawl occupying the best soils and destroying native biodiversity, it said. . .

Water tax decision allows environmental improvements to be targeted:

IrrigationNZ says the government’s decision not to introduce a water tax in the near future is good news for all New Zealanders.

“The Tax Working Group proposed a nationwide tax on all water use including for hydroelectricity, household, business and agricultural use. That would have resulted in higher power and food prices for households and businesses and higher rates bills for everyone,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal. . .

Wrightson gets OIO approval to sell seeds unit, still mulling size of return – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson has cleared the final hurdle to sell its seeds division to DLF Seeds for $434 million after securing Overseas Investment Office approval, but still hasn’t figured out how much to return to shareholders.

Now the OIO has signed off on the transaction, the rural services company anticipates the deal to settle either this month or May. . .

Whio ducks make a comeback after predator programme :

A nationally vulnerable duck species is making a comeback following a programme to curb predators in Fiordland.

About 64 breeding whio have been found during surveying of a security site for the blue ducks.

Department of Conservation Senior Ranger Andrew Smart said extended trapping efforts and predator control enabled the whio to make a strong comeback. . .


Rural round-up

April 15, 2019

Diversity makes a sound business – Neal Wallace:

Glen Eden farm is a busy place. Mark and Susannah Guscott, the owners of the South Wairarapa property, have fingers in multiple pies and for good measure are about to open tourist accommodation. Neal Wallace spoke to Mark Guscott.

Discussion groups visiting the Guscott family’s Glen Eden farm near Carterton comment on the complexity of the business.

But Mark and Susannah don’t see it that way. 

Certainly, there is plenty happening but Mark says once you get your head around the various elements it is not daunting. . .

Win a huge surprise – Yvonne O’Hara:

Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten, of Outram, have had an excellent couple of weeks.

Not only were they stunned to hear their name announced as the winners of the Share Farmer of the Year (SFOTY) competition in the 2019 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards, they also spent a couple of weeks in Bali shortly after.

The awards dinner was held in Invercargill on March 27, and they won nearly $12,000 in prizes and four merit awards.

Mrs van Dorsten said they were stunned and thrilled with their success, especially as it was the first time they had entered. . .

From the shed to the kitchen – Yvonne O’Hara:

Jude Gamble’s day starts at 3.30am and often finishes about 7.00pm.

Her shopping list includes 10 trays of eggs a week and she uses two and a-half dozen every morning. She uses 2kg of bacon, 10 loaves of bread and 8 litres of milk a day.

She buys in 12 litres of cream a week, as well as 10kg lots of scone and muffin mixes, and the odd trailerload of potatoes. . .

Farmers ready for peas’ return – Annette Scott:

One more year under a pea-growing moratorium will ensure New Zealand can deliver a powerful message to overseas customers, Federated Farmers arable industry chairwoman Karen Williams says.

Pea growers were forced out of business in August 2016 when action kicked in to eradicate a pea weevil pest threatening the $150 million pea industry, including both the export pea seed markets and the processed green pea industry. . .

Eric Rush inspires Extension 350 farmers with rags to riches :

From the humble beginnings of hand-milking eight cows as a young Kaeo lad, to meeting the Queen of England, Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela – Former All Black Eric Rush had his audience captivated with his message that “success breeds success” when he spoke to 200 people involved in Northland’s Extension 350 project this week.

Rush was the keynote speaker at two events aimed at recognising the hard work of the target farmers, mentor farmer, consultants and partners of the Extension 350 farmer-to-farmer learning project in Northland. . . 

A tech revolution in agriculture is leaving some farmers without broadband behind – Tim Johnson:

Hundreds of thousands of American farmers wrestle with balky — or nonexistent — internet connections, the exasperating modern-day equivalent of the stubborn mule that wouldn’t pull a plow.

Farmers who lack rural connectivity increasingly lag in a tech revolution that offers robots, drones, sensors and self-driving tractors to farms lucky enough to have robust broadband. It is a rural digital divide on America’s farms that threatens to grow wider. . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2019

Poll says farmers open to change – Neal Wallace:

Increasing numbers of farmers are focused on making their properties more environmentally sustainable but few plan to take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

A Nielsen Research survey commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries shows 92% of farmers are addressing environmental sustainability, up from 79% in 2009, but just 23% are focused on reducing greenhouse gases, a drop from 30%.

That is despite 63% of farmers agreeing or strongly agreeing human activity is contributing to climate change, up from 54% in 2009, but lower than the 82% of New Zealanders who believe human activity is contributing to climate change. . . 

A lesson in clean dairying from two Waikato farmers – Gerald Piddock:

Being an effluent compliant dairy farmer is about pride and attitude for Alistair Johnson and Tony and Fran Allcock​.

Knowing that the potentially harmful cow muck is properly contained gives them peace of mind after the two Waikato dairy farmers spent thousands on upgrades for new systems on their respective farms near Te Awamutu and Te Rore.

Both opened up their farms to show off their systems to farmers at a recent DairyNZ field day. . . 

Gut health at heart of biotech success – Richard Rennie:

Chinese consumers’ understanding of the brain-gut health axis is paying dividends for Hamilton biotech firm Quantec following the launch of an award-winning nutrition drink. Co-founder Dr Rod Claycomb and chief executive Raewyn McPhillips spoke to Richard Rennie about the exciting potential of some of the company’s patented ingredients.

QUANTEC took out this year’s supreme award from the natural health products industry for the second time in as many years, making it the only company to do so. 

It is a reflection of the recent success the company has enjoyed following the launch of its milk protein and flax seed oil drink on the Chinese market. . . 

Dannevirke A&P show going to the dogs – Sue Emeny:

Dogs of all shapes and sizes will take over the Dannevirke A & P Showgrounds at the weekend when the Ruahine Kennel Association hosts its Dog Dayz show.

It’s an annual event that attracts dog owners from throughout New Zealand.

Ruahine Kennel Association president Tim Delaney says it’s a busy time for owners of pedigree dogs as there are shows just about every weekend.

The show is run over the two days with judging commencing at 9am on both days. . . 

I left Auckland to take the $150,000 job that no-one wanted – Fleur Guthrie:

Sitting down for a cuppa after cycling through the central North Island’s picturesque Timber Trail, Tracey Goodall turned to her partner, Michal Mudroncik, and made a throwaway comment: “Imagine if we lived somewhere like this.”

The outdoors-loving couple thought nothing more of it as they headed back to Auckland, but serendipity had already intersected.

Several days later, at work, Tracey’s colleague asked if anyone had seen “that job doing the rounds on social media” for a general manager of Forgotten World Adventures in Taumarunui. . . 

Let’s talk law: Bees over the boundary – Amy Cranston:

Gold fever has taken hold in the beekeeping industry.

The value of mānuka honey has led to unprecedented returns on marginal land, in both revenue and land value. Ironically, land once cleared for grazing is now left to revert to gorse and scrub to feed the bees.

Councils too are contributing to the planting of mānuka. In return, landowners are retiring steep or sensitive areas from grazing. . . 

 


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