Rural round-up

February 21, 2018

Farmers face hefty riparian planting bills – Robin Martin:

Taranaki farmers could face hefty bills as the regional council toughens enforcement of its riparian planting programme to clean up waterways.

The council has begun auditing more than 1700 dairy farms and now says their plans for planting along riverbanks and streams must be completed by 2020.

Taranaki’s riparian planting programme – the largest in the country – has received international recognition and is has been credited with improving water quality. . . 

NAIT problems stymie M. bovis response – Nigel Malthus:

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says farmers’ problems in complying with NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) have slowed the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

NAIT could be a lot easier to use, she says.

While it works well for recording animals arriving at a processing works, there are apparent breakdowns in compliance when farmers are transferring stock among themselves. . .

Robotics opportunities in forestry being explored

Forest safety, improving productivity and getting workers off the felling site has been a major push for forestry managers, forest owners, logging contractors and equipment suppliers to modify their wood harvesting operations over the last few years. Another major driver to increased mechanisation has been the skilled machine operator shortages that many forestry companies are now currently facing. The ultimate goal of the industry is to have “no worker on the slope, or no hand on the chainsaw”.

Technology development and the pace of change over the last couple of years, in keeping with other industries, has been rapid and exciting for the forestry industry. Recent research is suggesting that by 2019, 35% of leading organizations will be exploring the use of robots to automate operations. Forestry isn’t any different. In fact, the switch is already underway. . .

Fonterra And the A2 Milk Company Form Comprehensive Strategic Relationship:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) and The a2 Milk Company (a2MC) have today entered into a comprehensive strategic relationship that links Fonterra’s global milk pool and supply chain, manufacturing capability and in-market sales and distribution capacity with a2MC’s brand strength and capabilities.

As part of the partnership, Fonterra will now begin conversations with its farmers to source an A2 milk pool for a2MC products in New Zealand, which is intended to significantly expand over time to help meet the growing demand for a2MC products. A similar milk pool in Australia will also be developed. . . 

MPI targets vehicles and machinery from Japan:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced new measures to reduce the risk of brown marmorated stink bugs arriving in vehicles and machinery from Japan.

The changes will require all used vehicles (cars and trucks) to undergo inspection and cleaning at an MPI-approved facility in Japan prior to export.

In addition, any used machinery or other types of used vehicles from Japan will require certification proving it has undergone cleaning by an appropriate provider, says Paul Hallett, MPI Biosecurity and Environment Manager.  . .

Feedback sought for upgrade of fertiliser-spreader standard:

The (NZGFA) is calling on fertiliser spreaders up and down the country to have their say ahead of a review of the industry’s Spreadmark programme.

Dean Brooks, the NZGFA’s president, says the programme – which was first developed in 1994 to raise the standard of fertiliser spreading performance and to provide a benchmark for best practice – will soon be reviewed by the Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC). . .

Funding request to federal Health Minister met with ‘positive response‘ – Sally Cripps:

We were swamped.” That was how psychologist, Dervla Loughnane, described the overwhelming response to the news that a texting counselling service had been launched for rural people in need.

Announced by the Queensland Country Life at the start of February, it was hoped the Virtual Psychologist service, supported by Aussie Helpers, would save lives and that’s what has happened, according to Dervla.

“It was so overwhelming that in the first 24 hours we had to double our staff on the lines,” she said. . .



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.



January 21, 2018

Perendale tops sale at $8,600 – Sally Rae:

South Otago farmers Howie and Marion Gardner topped the South Island ram fair in Gore this week, selling a Perendale ram for $8600.

It was bought by the McKelvie family, from Wyndham, and Mike McElrea, from Edievale.

It was a solid sale for Perendales as 37 rams sold for an average of $2686. Richard and Kerry France, from Moa Flat, achieved the second-top price, $8500, for a ram sold to Fernvale Genetics.

Carrfields Otago genetics representative Roger Keach said the  two-day sale was sound but not spectacular, with a lot of good rams not finding homes. . . 

Increase in farm sales bucks trend – Nicole Sharp:

Southland was one of two regions with increased farm sales at the end of 2017.

Data released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) showed for the three months ended November 2017, Southland had seven more farm sales than in the same period in 2016.

Taranaki was the  only other region to record an increase, with one more farm sale for the three months ended November 2017 than for the same period in 2016.

REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said while the sales volume for the three-month period ended November 2017 showed a significant easing from the same period in 2015 and 2016, the figures, except for Southland and Taranaki, reflected the anticipated increase in volumes from the previous month of October for dairy, finishing and grazing properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: David Clark – Claire Inkson:

Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Mid Canterbury Proud Farmer David Clark.

1. How long have you been farming?
I grew up in the North Island and left school at the end of the 6th Form at a time when farming in New Zealand was very tough coming out of the ’80s downturn. I was very fortunate to be employed by the Cashmore Family at Orere, SE of Auckland. It was during this time that my employers showed me by example that there was a future in farming if you worked hard and did things well, this set me on my course.

2. What sort of farming were you involved in?
My parents had been both Town Milk Dairy and Sheep and Beef Farmers and I was determined to make a start for myself so started contract fencing which then led into a wider range of Agricultural Contracting activities. In 1994 my parents sold their farm and I sold my contracting business and we pooled our resources and purchased a dryland sheep property at Valetta, inland Mid Canterbury. . . 

Barn farmer got the very best advice – Nigel Malthus:

Pareora dairy farmer Peter Collins has paid tribute to the man at the centre of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in helping him set up his huge new dairy barn system.

“I was very lucky to have Aad Van Leeuwen to help me with it,” says Collins.

Collins converted his 800ha farm 10km south of Timaru about three years ago and built the 1200-capacity freestall barn two years ago. The farm now milks 1200 cows, including some winter milkers, and supplies the Oceania Dairy milk powder plant at Glenavy.

With the efficiencies afforded by the barn they are on track to produce 600kgMS/cow this season. . .

Record temperatures bring challenges for livestock and farmers:

With New Zealand experiencing record-breaking heatwaves this summer, AgResearch scientists say farmed animals can be susceptible and the pressure is on farmers to manage it.

The extreme temperatures across the country include the hottest recorded temperature in Dunedin and Invercargill over recent days. The increased heat and humidity raises issues of not only the welfare of livestock, but also production from those animals.

Fortunately extensive research over the last 15 years at AgResearch into dairy cows, and how they cope with the heat, has provided important insights for animal management, says senior scientist Dr Karin Schütz. . . 

Fonterra welcomes research findings that milk matters for healthy Kiwi kids:

Fonterra welcomes the findings of a Massey University that show a high proportion of young Kiwi kids are getting the goodness of dairy nutrition by drinking milk.

The research, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, showed 88 per cent of young children in New Zealand regularly consume cow’s milk and there was no relationship between full-fat milk consumption and the risk of children being overweight from drinking it.

Fonterra General Manager Nutrition Angela Rowan said the Co-operative supports the Ministry of Health guidelines which recommend reduced and low fat varieties for those two years and older. . . 

ASX-listed Bod Australia signs deal to produce hemp-based mānuka honey – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bod Australia has signed an agreement with mānuka honey producer Manuka Pharma to produce a hemp-based honey product line.

Bod, a developer and distributor of cosmetics and natural medicines, is aiming to develop a range of over-the-counter and therapeutic products using cannabis extracts. It says it’s building a sustainable, multi-faceted cannabis business through a deal with Swiss manufacturer Linnea Natural Pharma Solutions. The honey agreement will see Manuka Pharma source, develop and manufacture the product, with Bod then importing the honey to Australia and packaging it for sale. . .


Rural round-up

December 26, 2017

‘Drag ‘n drop’ grazing now a reality – Nigel Malthus:

The idea of virtual fencing has been around for 20 years, but AgResearch believes its time has come and will soon start testing an Australian product.
Farm systems scientist Warren King, of AgResearch Ruakura, says it has been watching the technology for years and now believes the eShepherd product from Melbourne company Agersens is “the real deal”.

New Zealand’s Gallagher Group is a lead investor in Agersens, with marketing manager Mark Harris on the board. . .

Recent heat boost for lavender crops:

A South Canterbury lavender grower is experiencing an early start to the season.

Rob Martin, of Limestone Valley Estate, near Cave, said his crop of Pacific blue lavender was two weeks early this year, and his other varieties were following close behind.

He put the ”very early” start down to the year’s weather patterns, which were ”excellent” for lavender.

”[There was a] sudden heavy wet winter and spring and that immediately changed to hot weather,” he said. . .

Mozzarella plant on track for May start – Alexia Johnston:

Clandeboye’s $240million mozzarella plant is on target for commissioning in May.

AThe project, which is the third mozzarella plant for Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, is three-quarters complete and has already created 75 new jobs.

A further 25 employees will join the team in February.

Clandeboye operations manager Steve McKnight was among those watching progress.

”There’s a real buzz in the air on site as we have more people on site and the plant takes shape,” he said. . .

Decades of service:

The 2017 NZ Winegrower Personality of the Year goes to the NZSVO and its departing Executive Officer, Nick Sage and the recently announced life member, Rengasamy Balasubramaniam – better known as Bala.

There seems to be a common thread when you look at the retiring committee members of the NZSVO. All seem to have landed the job after being lured to an AGM by the offer of free wine. . .

I can’t wait for when we don’t have any possums – Andrew Austin:

The rabbits populating my neighbourhood seem to have begun breeding like, well, rabbits.

They are all around – on the roads, in the gardens, in the paddocks. They are a menace. As I am not a gun owner, I simply have to live with them.

The dogs give them (literally) a run for their money, so at least they don’t come too close to the house.

But even worse than rabbits are the possums. I drive along a one kilometre-long shared rural driveway to get to my house and every night I see at least one possum waddling along the road. Workmates and others tell me that I should aim for them and run them over. I have tried, but always seem to pull out at the last moment. . .

Gove tells Brits to be more patriotic about cheese buying habits

Brits who are worried about the price of their foreign produce going up after Brexit should be more patriotic about their choices, according to Michael Gove.

Mr Gove, who attended the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) on Wednesday (20 December), has criticised claims that the price of cheddar cheese will go up by 40 percent if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal.

The Defra Secretary said Brits should instead focus their priority on British cheddar. He said that, in a WTO scenario, if cheese prices rise steeply then the British public should buy more British cheese. . .

Rural round-up

October 25, 2017

Nitrogen-busting genetics could prevent millions of kilograms of nitrates landing on dairy farms – Pat Deavoll:

Nitrate reducing forage plants and bacteria, denitrification walls and now nitrate-busting bulls are being developed to lower farming’s impact on the environment.

Thanks to an international breakthrough by dairy herd improvement company CRV Ambreed, bulls have been identified that pass lower nitrate levels through their urine onto soils.

The company has selected bulls genetically superior for a trait related to the concentration of urea nitrogen in milk. . .

Sone up, some down, some firm – Nigel Malthus:

Lamb, sheep and deer prices are likely to remain firm, but cow and bull prices could soften, according to the Alliance Group’s projections for the new season.

Heather Stacy, Alliance’s general manager livestock and shareholder services, told a recent meeting of shareholder farmers at Little River, Banks Peninsula, that prime beef prices should remain similar to last year at $5.00 – $5.40/kg early season and $4.80 – $5.20/kg post-Christmas. . . 

Kiwifruit’s bright outlook – Peter Burke:

There’s gold for New Zealand growers in Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.
Overseas demand is high for the new Psa-free variety and prices continue to rise.

As a result, Zespri chairman Peter McBride is forecasting a net profit after tax of $96 million to $101m for the year ended March 31, 2018. Profit last year was $73.7m. . .

Science to rule on farming’s role in ETS:

Farmers are relieved that science – rather than politics – will decide whether agriculture should be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Under the coalition agreement unveiled yesterday, a new Climate Commission will make the decision.

Other details made public yesterday include scrapping the controversial water tax, but introducing a royalty on bottled water exports, along with higher water quality standards for everyone.

Labour went into the election promising to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. . . 

Dairy fund takes stake in Lewis Road to support NZ, international expansion – Sophie Boot:

Dairy farming investment fund Southern Pastures has taken an undisclosed but significant stake in Lewis Road Creamery, with executive chairman Prem Maan set to join the Lewis Road board.

The investment “will enable further expansion of Lewis Road’s popular product portfolio in New Zealand, and support the company’s push towards exporting to lucrative overseas markets”, Lewis Road said in a statement. Founder and chief executive Peter Cullinane will remain the company’s largest shareholder. . . 

Increase in illegal seafood sales on Facebook prompts warning:

A significant increase in the number of illegal seafood sales via Facebook has prompted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to warn those offending that they will face penalties for violating the Fisheries Act.

Since the beginning of the year, MPI has received more than 160 calls and emails reporting Facebook posts by people selling recreationally caught seafood including crayfish, kina and pāua.That’s up on the previous year where 96 complaints were received and the year before that when 57 complaints were registered. . . 

The many paradoxes of life on and off farm – Joyce Wylie:

Paradoxes are part of our lives, and they are not skydiving medical teams. Paradox is defined as “a person or thing exhibiting apparently contradictory characteristics” which can make them both humorously absurd and irritating nonsense.

For example 3.57 million New Zealanders enrolled for our recent election. So, 79.8 per cent of us used our democratic privilege meaning 2.63 million votes were cast and counted. But amazingly after this major public participation the final result came down to a small number of candidates who didn’t win a single electorate seat between them. They made a choice behind closed doors about who holds power in the 52nd parliament of our country.

10 things only a farmer’s child would know – Hayley Parrott:

We recently had a chuckle at an article about 10 things anyone marrying a farmer can expect to encounter and it got us thinking. Lots of us in the Farmers Weekly office grew up on farms and here are a few memories we think those of you born and bred on a farm might empathise with.

1. Summer holidays. Or so-called “holidays”. For those six weeks you await with such anticipation, you will spend most of it helping to feed the chickens, walk the dogs and painting fences. You’ll be granted a well-earned break on the day of the county show. . .

Rural round-up

August 26, 2017

Farmers’ voices must be heard – Nigel Malthus:

Heading into an election that will be won or lost in the towns and cities, farmers must get a hearing on environmental issues, says Meat Industry Association chair John Loughlin.

He says with environmental issues “quite significant” in this election year, any changes to environmental regimes must be balanced and fair.

“The outcomes in our rivers don’t just reflect farming; they reflect towns and cities and industries as well.”

He was speaking after the recent two-day Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, jointly hosted by the MIA with Beef + Lamb NZ. . .

Urban invaders hurting hort – Sudesh Kissun:

Uncertainty over continued access to fertile land and irrigation water are potentially forcing some vegetable growers out of business.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Brent Wilcox says land and water are the main issues facing many of its member businesses; ranging from smaller single property units to large operations with diverse land holdings.

“Over time we are seeing consolidation of many small growers into fewer larger growers; there is uncertainty and many growers are faced with a decision trying to figure whether they can justify the cost of taking land and water issues on,” he told Rural News. . .

Dairy industry tackling shortage of quality environmental advisers -Stephen Macaulay:

Quality advice is key to whether farmers sink or swim in an environmental tsunami, writes Stephen Macaulay.

 A wave of unprecedented environmental compliance is crashing over New Zealand’s primary industries and it’s not just farmers who are working hard to stay afloat.

The implementation of farm environmental plans represents one of the most significant changes in how farmers think about and undertake their work. Solutions now and into the future will involve a fundamental rethink in the way we farm and manage our natural resources.

How the industry deals with those regulations and the associated scrutiny of urban New Zealand and international consumers will impact on the production and profitability of farming operations into the future, as well as farm property values. . .

Farmers are adding value to wool – Tim Fulton:

Home spinning entrepreneurs are defying wool’s doldrums.

Tracey Topp started the Cosy Toes children’s Merino sock range on a kitchen table at Rotherham, North Canterbury, more than 10 years ago.

Recently she branched into bigger sizes for adults and a variety of tights, blankets and clothing.

Topp grew up on a sheep farm at Summerhill, in the Canterbury foothills near Oxford. She still soaks in the smell and the memory of lanolin, tossing fleeces and the banter of the boards.

A Kiwi company makes Cosy Toes’ socks but it took years of hard work to build business credibility.

Fabricators wanted consistent wool supply, including minimum wool weight for dyeing. . . 

Don’t judge a conversion by its cover – Tim Fulton:

Ngai Tahu’s forest-to-farm conversion near the North Canterbury town of Culverden is about beef and dairy support, the developer says.

The iwi’s farming group had transformed part of the old Balmoral Forest over the past two years but it wouldn’t be milking, Ngai Tahu Farming chief executive Andrew Priest said.

The iwi had already transformed Eyrewell Forest on the north bank of the Waimakariri River, (Te Whenua Hou) into dairy farms and drystock units.

In 2016, 360 hectares of land at the west of the Balmoral block was put into irrigated pasture and was now being used for beef finishing. . . 

Cancer survivor, author donating proceeds – Alexia Johnston:

Ex Glenavy farmer Allan Andrews is topping up Cancer Society funds thanks to his many book sales.

His book titled Allan Andrews 70 Years On features a range of subjects, including farming, cricket and his battle with cancer.

It was his family’s history of cancer that prompted Mr Andrews to donate a portion of the book’s proceeds to the Cancer Society.

So far that includes $1000 – $400 to the South Canterbury division, $400 to North Otago and $200 to Ashburton.

The book was launched in late September to early October last year, with the aim of donating a portion of the proceeds from every book to the Cancer Society. . .  

No automatic alt text available.

Farm Girl 1. A person who solves problems you can’t. 2. One who does precision guess work based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge. See also Wizard, Magician.

Rural round-up

July 6, 2017

Farmers’ social licence fast expiring – warning – Nigel Malthus:

Dairying has a lot at stake as the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, says former DairyNZ chairman John Luxton.

A dairy farmer, businessman and former National minister of agriculture, Luxton gave the opening keynote address at the 2017 South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) conference at Lincoln University.

He says farmers’ social license to operate as in the past was now fast expiring. Rules and regulations requiring farmers to improve farm systems were becoming more and more complex. . . 

Military cameras help red meat – Sudesh Kissun:

Cameras used by the military are helping the New Zealand red meat sector produce premium lamb products.

One camera, installed in a South Island meat plant, scans eight lambs a minute, collecting from 45 data points per lamb in a round-the-clock operation. The technology is not available anywhere else in the world; AgResearch needed special approval to get the military-grade camera into NZ.

Chief executive Tom Richardson says the technology has the potential to help farmers double their income. . .

NZ support for agriculture innovation

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced an $11 million boost to global agricultural research.

“New Zealand is a world leader in international agriculture research and we want to help meet global food needs in ways that are positive for the environment,” Mr Brownlee says.

“New Zealand is committing $11 million over two years to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a network of research institutes around the world that focus on agriculture, forestry and fishing. . .

Feds’ commend Government on investment in global agriscience:

Federated Farmers commends the Government on investment of $11 million towards global agricultural research.

The announcement today, made by Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee, is a progressive step that will drive science and innovation in the agriculture sector.

“There is a great deal of work that governments and farmers worldwide should be collaborating on in the pre-competitive space to not only lift livelihoods in rural sectors, but also improve environmental outcomes,” says Federated Farmers’ National Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . .

Horticulture ripe for investment:

World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“Today, the government has released a business-focused overview in The Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Produce Industry 2017 which shows potential investors how well fruit and vegetable production in New Zealand is going,” Mr Chapman says.  . .

Healthy humans, lusty lambs:

Managing the diets of sheep to boost human health and keep stock in prime condition will be on the menu when NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers present their latest findings at a Graham Centre sheep forum in Wagga Wagga on Friday July 7.

NSW DPI livestock researcher, Edward Clayton, has investigated ways to lift omega-3 fatty acid levels in lamb to deliver human health benefits, which could decrease risks of cardiovascular disease and treat inflammatory conditions, including eczema and arthritis.

“Omega-3 fatty acid, found in high concentrations in oily fish, is also a component of red meat and levels can be altered considerably through the animal’s diet,” Dr Clayton said. . .

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