Rural round-up

20/06/2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

08/09/2015

Passion for irrigation still runs deep – Sally Rae:

Dave Finlay describes himself simply as ”an irrigation man”.

Ingrained in his memory is his time farming a dryland property at Windsor, in North Otago, battling drought and having to sell his sheep in drought sales. It was, he recalls, ”nightmarish stuff”’.

Those challenging times resulted in him later become a driving force behind irrigation development in North Otago.

At 78, Mr Finlay shows no signs of slowing down, as he continues working as a rural sales consultant for PGG Wrightson Real Estate in Oamaru. . . 

Retailers’ revenge could slow dairy recovery:

While wholesale milk prices may be on their way up, we need to be aware of “retailers’ revenge”.

Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees says two things need to happen for the market prices to recover to anywhere near previous levels.

“Retail prices need to fall to stimulate consumer demand and global supply needs to be reduced. Both of these take some time to occur.

“We are starting to see the milk tap being turned off with farmers’ globally selling cull cows and reducing supplement, and plans for future expansion and conversion are being put on hold.” . . 

Farm kids less likely to have asthma:

A new discovery has found that kids who grow up on farms are less likely to develop asthma and have a bigger immunity to allergies than the average city slicker.

It’s the kind of discovery that could completely change how we treat asthma in the future.

Nanotech scientist Michelle Dickinson joined Paul Henry this morning to explain how and why this is.

She says the study shows that farm dust in young children under the age of two can protect them from allergies later in life. . . 

 

Last few days to vote in 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum:

There is still a significant number of farmers yet to vote in the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum before it closes on Thursday this week (10 September).

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons said as of this morning 5,195 farmers (30 per cent of registered farmers) had cast their vote.

“It’s really important for the organisation that it has a strong mandate from farmers if they want Beef + Lamb New Zealand working for them in the next six years. . . 

Members sought for forest levy board:

Nominations are open for members of the Forest Growers Levy Trust board. There are vacancies for two members representing owners of large forests and one representing owners of smaller forests.

This is the first election since a commodity levy was applied to harvested plantation logs in January 2014. The levy raised $7.96 million in 2014 for activities that benefit all forest owners, including research, forest health, safety and training.

“Half of the six elected board members have retired this year after only one year in office. This sets in motion a rotational retirement policy for directors that will see half their number retiring every second year after a four-year term,” says trust chair Geoff Thompson. . . 

Dairy Graziers proactivity will stave off cost:

As the fallout from the steep decline in global diary prices spreads, Crowe Horwath agribusiness specialist Haylee Preston is advising dairy graziers to be proactive to avoid being out-of-pocket this coming season.

“With budgets under pressure from severely restricted cash flows, dairy farmers are moving to cut costs, with many looking to tweak their farming systems accordingly,” says Preston.

“In many farming operations, supplementary feed and grazing are a significant cost when it comes to production,” indicates Preston. “This means they will be some of the most closely scrutinised costs given the current drive to save.” . . 

Farm Environment Competition Pays Off For Young Taranaki Farmers:

Sami and Laura Werder are young and enthusiastic farmers with big plans for improving the sustainability of their new Taranaki sheep and beef farm. So entering the 2015 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way to check their plans were on the right track.

The Werders bought their 378ha breeding and finishing property at Huiroa, east of Stratford, two years ago and are currently in the process of developing the farm through subdivision, improved access and a new water system.

“We were both raised on farms and we were lucky to have help from family to get into our own farm,” says Sami, a former rural banker. . . 

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Annual Report 2015:

The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited Annual Report for the year ended 31 May 2015 is now available online at http://annual-report.ballance.co.nz/

Our interactive report includes video content and links to additional resources, as well as access to our full financial statements. . . 

Farmers can cut nitrogen loss with new N-Protect:

Farmers facing warm and dry conditions and who need to minimise losses of nitrogen into the air, have a new tool in the toolbox thanks to Ravensdown.

The co-operative’s new N-Protect has a urease inhibitor coating around the urea granule to reduce nitrogen loss to the atmosphere, otherwise known as volatilisation. This can lead to more growth-giving nitrogen kept available for the plant enabling production gains in a critical season for farmers facing El Nino conditions.

“Our advice has always been that there are several ways to ‘skin the N-loss cat’. These range from good management practice to urease inhibiting products like new N-Protect,” explained Lloyd Glenny, Fertiliser Product Manager at Ravensdown. . . 

Be careful with cheap grass seed:

Think twice before buying cheap pasture seed this spring – you may well get more (or less) than you bargained for, and not in a good way.

That’s the advice to farmers looking to save money re-sowing paddocks left bare after winter crop.

With poor germination, high weed content and/or minimal endophyte, cheap seed almost always works out to be anything but cheap at the best of times, pasture experts say.

“It’s even more of a false economy when cash is tight, because farmers need all the good grazing they can get,” says Agriseeds’ Graham Kerr. “No-one can afford paddocks to fail this spring.”

His advice? “Concentrate on sowing a smaller area of land, better. Use proprietary pasture seed which has guaranteed purity, germination and endophyte, so you know what you’re really planting, and do the best job possible of getting it into the ground so it establishes well.” . . 


Rural round-up

01/06/2015

Fonterra signals major shake-up – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra has signaled the possibility of a major shake-up throughout its operations entailing job losses from senior management down.

Fonterra has signaled the possibility of a major shake-up throughout its operations entailing job losses from senior management down.

It today confirmed it had launched an in-depth review of its business, when questioned by the New Zealand Farmers Weekly. . .

 Synlait’s tough road to riches – Neal Wallace:

Potential riches bypassing Synlait became apparent a year after the Canterbury company opened its milk drying plant.

Customers were buying powder to make their own infant formula and while Synlait had plans to eventually enter the added-value game, such was the demand for its powder and rate of international growth in formula, a strategy rethink was required, managing director John Penno said.

“It gave us an insight to the demand. We saw growth, we saw the market and we saw why they were coming to Synlait.” . . .

 The great Kiwi earthworm survey:

AgResearch scientists want farmer help to better understand the distribution of one of the little known heroes of New Zealand agricultural production.

Earthworms play a vital role in the soil by decomposing organic matter, making nutrients available to plants and creating burrows in the soil to improve the movement of air and water. Studies have shown the introduction of surface-active earthworms improves annual pasture growth significantly as well as boosting environmental performance and extending the growing season. . .

Doors open at training farm:

Waipaoa Station Training Trust is holding an open day on June 6 and 7 as part of its selection of cadets for 2016.

The two-year cadet training scheme is based at Waipaoa Station, a commercial sheep and beef farm 70km from Gisborne.

Each year five new cadets are selected, to learn practical skills and sit in classroom lectures. The cadets live on the station. . .

New Zealand ‘brand’ not being seen:

Many overseas consumers are unaware their food originates in New Zealand, undermining attempts to promote our “clean and green” and premium brand image, a new study finds.

It shows there are significant opportunities for New Zealand premium consumer food and beverage products in overseas markets but we are missing out because we are not communicating to consumers.

“Maximising Export Returns; Communicating New Zealand’s credence attributes to international consumers”, by Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees andAgribusiness and Economics Research Unit director Professor Caroline Saunders, finds having a visible label and a good relationship with industry buyers could improve the situation. . .

Growing knowledge through collaboration:

A collaborative workshop to help food producers gain specialist knowledge and skills was held at Lincoln University 27 May.

Entitled “Growing You”, it is part of a series covering topics such as sustainable weed management and sustainable pest and disease management, and was a joint effort of the University, MG Marketing, and the Lincoln-based Biological Husbandry Unit (BHU) and Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC).

MG Marketing is a co-operative organisation with over 90 years of growing, distributing and selling fresh vegetables and fruit. . .

 TB rate collection to continue one more year:

Waikato Regional Council has today agreed to continue collecting the rate for the national bovine tuberculosis (TB) programme, but at a reduced amount of $500,000.

Only ratepayers with properties two hectares or greater in area will pay this rate, which will be 23 per cent less than in 2014/15.

In making its decision during the first day of 2015-2025 Long Term Plan deliberations, the council made it clear 2015/16 would be the last year it would collect the rate. . .


Lower milk price good in long run

18/04/2015

Dairy farmers aren’t enjoying the lower prices that have followed a drop in demand for milk, but they could be good in the long run:

Low dairy prices will benefit the New Zealand dairy industry in the long term, Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees says.

“The low prices are the best thing that can happen as it will limit the European expansion.”

He says a cost war is going on between New Zealand and Europe at the moment.

“Quotas have come off production in Europe so they are expanding production. This is similar to what is happening in oil with expanding production due to shale gas,” Mr Lees says.

“Ireland, for example, is planning to increase milk production by 50 per cent.”

A Dutch dairy farmer who visited us last year had begun increasing his cow numbers in preparation for the end of quotas.

He says New Zealand is the Saudi Arabia of milk — “We can be the lowest cost producer, but need to focus on grass based production to weather the storm”.

“Grass will always be the lowest cost source of feed and New Zealand has the most efficient grass- based dairy system in the world.

“Ireland can grow grass too but currently they utilise less than half what they grow. The large housed dairy operations in Europe are also only profitable at high milk prices,’’ Mr Lees says.

“We need to focus on what we are good at, which is grass.”

Higher prices encouraged farmers to use more expensive feeding systems but our climate and soils give us a natural advantage in growing grass.

The halcyon days may be gone for a while though.

“We are unlikely to see high prices again soon.

“It is going to be a slow recovery of price and dairy farmers need to be able to be profitable at $5/kgMS or they won’t survive.”

He says the average milk price over the last 10 years was around $5.50/kg MS.

“It is likely that this will be similar over the next decade as well. What we are seeing though is greater volatility. This is going to continue so farmers need to have systems that are still profitable when the price is low. The most resilient system is the low input grass based system.”

As an economy we also need to see the opportunities in other areas, he adds.

“For example there have been record high returns for beef in the first six months of this season, with the average per tonne value up 28 per cent. Beef is a great story with China needing to increase its beef imports by up to 20 per cent a year for the next five years to meet its surging demand for protein.”

Lamb also has good prospects, Mr Lees says, and there are other opportunities, such as can be seen with the growing sheep dairy industry.

Lower dairy prices will take the heat out of land prices.

They’ll also make conventional sheep and beef farming more attractive and there is potential for more sheep milk production.

 


Rural round-up

13/03/2015

1080 threat will not harm trade but ongoing issues a concern:

Lincoln University experts say the blackmail threat to lace baby formula with 1080 unless the use of the poison is stopped will not have long-term effects on New Zealand agricultural exports.

However, continuously emerging food safety issues could cause concerns.

Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees does not see the threat as having a significant long term effect on either dairy exports or the New Zealand brand. . .

 

Rural health conference opens today:

More than 350 doctors, nurses, medical students and leaders in rural communities are expected to attend the first National Rural Health Conference in Rotorua today.

The Rural General Practice Network and the Rural Health Alliance are teaming up to run the conference over the next two days.

Opotiki GP Dr Jo Scott-Jones, who chairs both bodies, said the conference gives people working in remote places the chance to discuss and share ideas about the health problems rural communities face.

He said suicide prevention, reducing violence and workforce training problems in rural areas are among some of the key topics being examined. . .

Food safety a focus for Food HQ:

Food safety has emerged as a strong focus for the Palmerston North-based Food HQ research collaboration.

Food HQ, described as the power house of food innovation, was launched two years ago.

It is a first time exhibitor at the Central Districts fieldays, which opened in Feilding today. . .

New Zealand Dollar Lifts Wool Prices

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the weaker New Zealand dollar particularly against the US dollar saw all categories dearer this week.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 2.45 percent compared to the last sale on 5th March with many wool types appreciating by a corresponding amount.

Of the 8,000 bales on offer, 90 percent sold. . .

 

Introducing the next generation at Forrest Wines:

Doctors’ John and Brigid Forrest are excited to welcome home to Forrest Wines their daughter Beth. John says that “for Brigid and I this is a significant step in safe guarding the future of our family business. All 3 of our children have grown up here at Forrest; they have been a part of numerous harvests, worked in the vines and more importantly understood the manic hours their parents worked”.

Beth will join John and Dave Knappstein as winemakers for Forrest. Beth says that “I am here to learn as much as I can from John and Dave; to take all their knowledge and add some of my own experience and continue to create great quality wines made with passion. I am hoping neither of them are about to go anywhere.” . .

East Coast Young Farmers to be put to the test in ANZ Young Farmer Contest Regional Final

The fourth ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist will be determined next weekend, Saturday 21 March at the East Coast Regional Final held in Greytown.

“This contest season is shaping up to be very exciting, every year the calibre of contestants continues to improve and impress,” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Taupo 2 – 4 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $271,000 in products, services and scholarships from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . .

 


Agribusiness & food degree to fill gap in industry

22/09/2013

Lincoln University is proposing a new Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree which will target people looking for careers further along the food chain in processing, marketing and retail.

While agriculture and food have been at the core of that specialisation for more than a century, heightened awareness of global food supply and quality opportunities has led the university to refocus its agribusiness and food education and associated research programmes.

“This new degree will look at food innovation, the science around processing and technology, and production systems,” Lincoln University senior lecturer in agribusiness management Nic Lees said.

“It will also include marketing and agribusiness management, so people come out with an understanding of the technical food aspects and issues, as well as food marketing and management skills.”

While Lincoln traditionally had strengths in its three Bachelor of Agriculture Science, Commerce (Agriculture), and Food Science courses, all of which had grown rapidly in recent years, the opportunity to offer a degree specifically focused to the agri-food industry outside the specific farm roles had been realised, he said.

“These traditional courses prepare people for farm management, rural financial, and technical roles, either directly onfarm or farm facing but a big chunk of agri-food business is not covered.”

The new degree would target students looking to enter the agribusiness sector but not necessarily wanting to work on a farm or own a farm, Lees said.

“We need to make these agri-food business careers more accessible for students. We (Lincoln) are very good at the production side but we need people who also understand the business and marketing of that.” . . .

This is a very good idea.

We’re very good at primary production and processing, we’re not as good as we need to be at adding value further along the food chain and marketing.

There is a gap in the qualification market which this degree could fill to the benefit of students, the university, producers, processors and the economy.

 


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