Rural round-up

July 26, 2020

Pork farmer predicts ‘massive’ productivity drop – Yvonne O’Hara:

Like many in the pork industry, North Otago pig farmer Ian Carter is dependent on experienced and skilled migrant workers to run his 318ha, 2000 pig, 700 cattle operation.

If farmers cannot access migrant workers with the needed skill sets and experience, including from the Philippines where there are large commercial pork operations, he predicts a “massive drop in productivity” within the industry.

As a result of Covid-19, workers who would ordinarily be arriving to work here on three-year visas had been unable to fly into the country.

Although the former New Zealand Pork chairman was pleased to see the recent visa extensions introduced by the Government, he did not think those changes would be enough to meet the needs of the industry. . .

M bovis eradication on track -Annette Scott:

The number of properties infected with Mycoplasma bovis has dropped to an all-time low, triggering a wave of confidence that the plan to eradicate the cattle disease from New Zealand is on-track.

Three years on since the disease was first confirmed in NZ, industry leaders are confident the world-first attempt to eradicate the disease is making positive gains towards eradication being within reach in the coming seven years.

As of July 22, the M bovis programme had just four confirmed active properties on its books.

Of these,  two are dairy and one beef in the North Island, with one beef property in Canterbury.  . . 

Smith downplays British farming fears – Nigel Stirling:

A former Trade Minister is hopeful he can play his part convincing Britain to open its farmers up to increased competition from New Zealand and other rival producers once it leaves the European Union.

Lockwood Smith credited his appointment to a new commission advising the British government on trade agreements and agriculture to his long experience as a farmer and former trade and agriculture minister, as well as his knowledge of the British farming and political scene as a recent High Commissioner to London.

“There is a realisation that (British) agriculture needs to move forward and this is an attempt to find a consensus on how best to do that,” Smith said. . . 

Can-do farm installs methane-run generator – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy effluent is being used to power an Isla Bank milking shed and mitigate methane emissions at the same time.

Dairy Green and Scandrett Rural owner and consultant John Scandrett has been overseeing a biogas conversion project at Glenarlea Farm, Isla Bank, since November 2016.

Glenarlea Farm, which is owned by the Fortuna Group and managed by Brendon and Lorelai Santos, milks about 900 cows at peak.

Bacteria convert effluent solids into biogas, of which methane and carbon dioxide are the main constituents.

The methane fuelled a converted diesel motor, which drove a generator to make electricity, Mr Scandrett said. . . 

Taranaki dairy farm doing twice the average milk production scoops national awards :

A Taranaki dairy farmer who has won a raft of production awards attributes his success to having well-grown young stock.

Stefan Buhler milks 260 Holstein Friesian cows on his 80-hectare coastal farm at Manaia near Hawera.

The herd produced 202,000 kilograms of milksolids (kgMS) in the 2019-20 season.

“It was a record season for us, despite the drought. We produced 2525 kgMS per hectare, which is quite incredible,” he said. . .

Report questions gender bias in succession planning – Mollie Tracey:

WHILE the agricultural industry has made great progress in advancing women in the workforce, little work has looked into shifting traditional patterns of patrilineal farm succession, which act as gender barriers for daughters growing up on farms.

That’s according to a new report by 2017 Nuffield scholar and Morawa farmer, Katrina Sasse, who investigated the position of daughter successors in United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark – a study that was motivated by her own keen interest as a daughter successor and desire to help women in Australia find a pathway back to the family farm. 

It’s an unfortunate fact that in rural communities some people continue to view daughter successors differently to sons and more needs to be done to empower young Women to remain in family farming operations. . . 


Rural round-up

May 30, 2020

Southland on the brink – Peter Burke:

Southland is teetering on the edge of a bad situation, according to DairyNZ’s lead consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch.

He says if they can’t get rid of cull cows soon and if the weather doesn’t play its part, current problems will get even worse.

Southland is facing a major feed shortage, but not because of the drought – because of too much rain. The problem is that farmers came out of a pretty hard winter and a very wet spring, which delayed any winter crops being put in the spring, says Finch. . .

Fonterra and Air NZ race emergency protein order to the US for Covid-19 patients – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra teams have scrambled to answer an emergency call from the US for a big supply of a specialised protein product for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

After racing to make the hydrolysate product at its specialist plant which was about to close down for the season, the big dairy company chartered an Air NZ 787 jet to fly the first batch – 24 metric tonnes – direct to Chicago to be used in a medical food formula for intubated Covid-19 patients.

The SoS from a long-time big American customer came as the only Fonterra processing site that makes the special whey protein hydrolysate, the Hautapu factory near Cambridge, was preparing to shut and most of its 220 staff either to take annual leave or start annual maintenance work. . . 

Scientists understand cattle not climate villains, but media still missing message – James Nason,:

FOR a long time emissions from cattle have been lumped in with emissions from other sources as the same destructive forces for the planet in the global climate change narrative.

However, through research overseen by scientists including Dr Frank Mitloehner (right) from the University of California Davis and Dr Myles Allen from Oxford University, scientific consensus is starting to build around the point that livestock-related greenhouse gases are distinctively different from greenhouse gases associated with other sectors of society (more on this below).

Dr Mitloehner, an internationally recognised air quality expert, explained to the Alltech One virtual conference on Friday night (Australian time) that the concept of accounting for methane according to its Global Warming Potential, as opposed to just its volume of CO2 equivalent, which showed that not all greenhouse gases are created equal, has now made it all the way to the International Panel on Climate Change. . . 

Deer sector ready for challenges – Annette Scott:

After several seasons of strong export returns New Zealand’s venison farmers are well positioned to overcome the severe trade disruptions of covid-19, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

But the industry and venison marketers make no attempt to sugar-coat the difficult situation they are dealing with.

Holgate said venison producers have enjoyed a good run benefitting from healthy export sales into both established and new markets. 

“In the last five years we’ve seen significant export growth in the United States, partly due to increased demand for venison in pet food while we’ve also seen strong sales in long-standing European markets such as Germany and Belgium.”   . . 

Wool export contracts shaky – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign wool buyers are threatening to walk away from contracts with New Zealand exporters as they fight to survive the global coronavirus lockdown.

That was just one factor behind a savage 25% slump in crossbred wool prices at the first auction since the local lockdown ended at Napier on Thursday.

Exporter Masurel Fils managing director Peter Whiteman said many foreign buyers were being forced into desperate measures because of shut factories as well as a collapse in demand for the textiles they produced.

“We still sell a lot of wool to Europe and the UK for spinning to make carpets. Those customers are asking us for delays. . . 

NZ olive oil makes win big Kiwis encouraged to buy local:

Kiwis are being encouraged to support local and buy world-beating olive oil made by New Zealand growers, who have won seven Gold Medals at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Olive growers from Waiheke to Wairarapa and Kapiti and Nelson to Canterbury won top accolades at the competition, considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. New Zealand punched above its weight, taking home its best ever results against 26 other countries.

Stephen Davies Howard, Owner of Loopline in the Wairarapa, won two golds, one each for his Picholene and Picual oils. He says if New Zealanders ever needed a reason to buy local, the time is now. . . 


Rural round-up

February 6, 2020

Significant risks highlighted in ETS reform bill:

Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) today warned the Government’s proposed reforms to the Emissions Trading Scheme risk accelerating the conversion of productive pasture land into forestry.

The lack of any restriction on how much carbon dioxide can be offset using forestry carbon credits and the lack of any robust analysis of socio-economic impacts of the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill will have major unintended consequences for farmers and regional New Zealand.

All three organisations have expressed concerns about the Bill in submissions to the Environment select committee. . .

Foreign funds talk to farmers – Nigel Stirling:

As many as 10 foreign funds are talking to large-scale farmers about refinancing loans the big banks want rid of, farm debt adviser Scott Wishart says.

Sydney-based Merricks Capital was the first foreign investment fund to break ranks with a $140m refinancing of dairy farmer Van Leeuwen Group in December.

The money manager said it is targeting $2 billion out of $10b in farming loans it believes the Australian-owned banks want off their balance sheets in the next five years.

After years of strong lending growth the Australian banks are reassessing their involvement in the New Zealand market after the Reserve Bank doubled the amount of capital they must hold against their loans. . . 

Cereal crops deluged:

Chris Dillon was 10 days away from harvesting 280ha of cereal crops when the Mataura River burst its banks and flooded his Ardlussa farm north of Gore on Tuesday.

He estimates about 1000ha of cereal crops on eight farms beside the river are under water,

His wheat, barley and peas were exceptional this year.

Provided the water drops quickly he can salvage some crop while insurance will cover a percentage of the production cost of the wheat only. . . 

New Zealand wine exports soar :

In 2019 there was an 8% increase in New Zealand wine exports, with total export value now reaching a record $1.86 billion according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The USA continues to be New Zealand wine’s largest market with nearly $600 million in exports.

The non-stop increase in international demand is testament to the premium reputation of New Zealand wine, especially in its major markets where the country remains either the highest or second highest priced wine category in the USA, UK, and Canada. . . 

Consortium led by Lynker Analytics awarded government contract to identify New Zealand forest loss using Artificial Intelligence:

Wellington technology start-up Lynker Analytics has been selected by the Ministry for the Environment (the Ministry) to lead a consortium including UAV Mapping NZ and Carbon Forest Services to inventory the extent of forest loss in New Zealand during 2017 and 2018.

Each year 40,000 – 50,000 hectares of forest is harvested in New Zealand as part of normal forestry land use activity. Most of this forest area is replanted, however a small but significant area is deforested and converted to another land use. Deforestation is an important form of land-use change from a greenhouse gas perspective. The Ministry assesses deforestation in New Zealand every two years to meet international reporting obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. . .

Presbyterian Support Central funds support farming students, youth camps and community events

Presbyterian Support Central has distributed more than $170,000 from its Ann Sinclair Trust and James Gibb Fund this year.

Ann Sinclair Trust

Administered by Presbyterian Support Central, the Ann Sinclair Trust provides financial assistance to farming, agriculture, horticulture, orcharding and animal husbandry students. . .


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

September 14, 2019

Farmers feeling victimised by current government:

Farmers feel they are being dragged through the mud as continued environmental regulations are imposed on the sector.

An open letter has been sent to the Prime Minister this week asking for more consideration for the rural industry.

The letter says the Government’s approach to environmental policy is undermining the mental health and well-being of the pastoral sector . .

Govt freshwater proposals a blunt instrument for complex water problems:

The meat industry says the Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said they generally welcomed the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways.

“Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.” . . 

Foreign buyers circle dairy debt – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign hedge funds have approached the country’s largest rural lender about buying dairy loans the bank wants off its books.

It is understood a large international investment bank has flown in to sound out industry consultants on the potential for buying assets from the big banks, including loans to dairy farmers.

The international interest comes as the Australian-owned banks review their New Zealand operations in light of proposals from the Reserve Bank to significantly increase the amount of capital they must hold against their loans.

Feds plead for rates fairness – Hugh Stringleman:

Rating for revenue gathering by councils based on the salable value of farms is not a true assessment of ability to pay, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.

“It is a bit like assessing someone’s wealth on the basis of the car they drive,” she said in a forward to Federated Farmers Platform on the 2019 local government elections.

The federation makes no apology for focusing heavily on the cost of local government and how that cost is recovered. . . 

There are 600 jobseekers in Wairoa. Its major employer Affco meatworks wants to hire immigrants :

A leading Wairoa youth advocate hopes the town’s major employer will never have to use imported labour despite lodging an application with Immigration New Zealand for approval to hire overseas workers.

The application has been lodged by Affco Talley, current operators of a plant that has a history in the town dating back 103 years and employs hundreds of workers each year.

It’s opposed by the New Zealand Meatworkers Union, but Wairoa Young Achievers Trust youth service manager Denise Eaglesome-Karekare, who is also the town’s deputy mayor, has a goal to make sure any shortfall in the available labour force is still able to be filled by those in the town. . .

Vegan activists are tormenting farmers into quitting – Tim Blair:

Farms run as much on trust as they run on sweat, long hours and hard work.

By nature accessible and open, farms are not easily secured against destructive forces. That’s where the trust comes in. Farmers trust us not to damage their properties and livelihoods, and in exchange they feed and clothe us.

It’s a win-win social pact. Or at least it was, until the recent rise of militant veganism.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke last month described the torment caused by vegan and animal liberationist farm invasions. . .


Rural round-up

August 21, 2019

Output record delights new manager – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group recently marked the 2019 season at its Mataura plant in Southland by breaking a beef processing record. Business and Rural Editor Sally Rae talks to plant manager Melonie Nagel about breaking records — and life in New Zealand.

When cattle beast number 150,216 went through the Mataura plant last week, a photograph was taken to record the occasion.

The vibe in the factory – having beaten the previous record by more than 8000 – was “wonderful”, plant manager Melonie Nagel said.

It was an opportunity for staff to gather and also recognition that without a team effort – involving both Mataura employees and the farmers supplying the stock – it never would have happened, Ms Nagel said. . .

Banks want farm billions back – Nigel Stirling:

Floating farm mortgage rates and some fixed rates fell after the Reserve Bank slashed the Official Cash Rate but not all farmers are benefiting.

The country’s largest rural lender, ANZ, said it will cut its agri variable base rate by 40 basis points from today and its fixed base rates by between 20 and 30 basis points.

Other banks also signalled cuts to rural lending rates after the Reserve Bank moved to head off a slowing economy by lopping 50 basis points off the benchmark interest rate to a record low 1%. . .

Farmers furious at Australian animal rights activists publishing addresses and location on map – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers are furious that an Australian animal rights group have begun listing descriptions and addresses of Southland farms on a website map, claiming it could encourage illegal activity by activists on farms.

The map, created by activist group Aussie Farms lists 150-200 farms, both drystock and dairy across the Southland region.

National president Katie Milne said it was hugely worrying that it could be the start of a more extreme form of animal activism in New Zealand, which in Australia and Europe had seen people break into farms, releasing and stealing stock and chain themselves to farm machinery. . . 

Making a difference:

John Ladley will go down in history as the person who took a broken Doug Avery to that life-changing lucerne workshop where he first met Professor Derrick Moot.

Over the years, John has watched with interest – and immense satisfaction – as Doug has transformed his business and life, raised awareness of mental health issues in rural communities and written a best-selling book.

“It has made me very aware of the influence you can have on one person’s life.”

For John, helping others become the best version of themselves is what gets him out of bed in the morning and as B+LNZ’s South Island General Manager, John sums his job up in just three words – “it’s all about people.” . .

Dairy product prices for manufacturers up 8.7 percent :

Prices received by manufacturers of butter, cheese, and milk powder rose 8.7 percent in the June 2019 quarter compared with the March 2019 quarter, after falls in the previous two quarters, Stats NZ said today.

Dairy product manufacturers received higher prices for products such as butter, cheese, and milk powder in the June 2019 quarter. Together, output prices for this group of products increased 8.7 percent from the previous quarter, the biggest rise in over two years. Prices rose by 16 percent in the March 2017 quarter. . . 

Cultured lab meat may make climate change worse – Matt McGrath:

Growing meat in the laboratory may do more damage to the climate in the long run than meat from cattle, say scientists.

Researchers are looking for alternatives to traditional meat because farming animals is helping to drive up global temperatures.

However, meat grown in the lab may make matters worse in some circumstances.

Researchers say it depends on how the energy to make the lab meat is produced. . . 


Rural round-up

July 5, 2019

User-pays emphasis in productivity report is spot on, Federated Farmers says:

The Productivity Commission’s report on local government funding is another step in a very long journey to genuine equity for farmer ratepayers, Federated Farmers says.

“To cover costs of council services, we value the emphasis in this draft report on the principle that who benefits should pay a fair amount, and that the legislative framework be changed to back this principle,” Federated Farmers local government spokesperson Andrew Maclean says.

“We agree this ‘benefit principle’ should be the primary basis for deciding cost allocations.

“Paying huge amounts of money for council services distant from farms is a key problem. Farmers need this resolved and we see potential in this report to achieve fairness,” Maclean said. . .

It’s not weak to speak – Luke Chivers:

Farmers are by nature independent, optimistic, proud, resilient and strong. But the perfect storm of terrible weather, prolonged market weakness, global trade wars and more is driving some farmers to breaking point. Luke Chivers spoke to a dairying couple whose change in perspective has transformed their farm, their family and their community. 

It was a warm, sunny afternoon in Takaka in Golden Bay. 

As daylight beamed through a window only to hit the back of a curtain Wayne Langford found himself bedridden in a cool, dark room. He had been flat on his back every afternoon for more than a week to escape his constant mental anguish. 

But this day was different.

“I had like an out-of-body experience.

“It was as though I was hovering above myself looking down and saying ‘what the hell are you doing in bed?” . . .

NZ questions US farm subsidies – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand is among a handful of World Trade Organisation members pushing the United States to come clean over billions of dollars paid to its farmers as compensation for the trade war with China.

In May US President Donald Trump announced a further US$16b in payments to follow US$12b in aid dispensed in July last year.

American farmers have borne the brunt of retaliatory tariffs on US exports to China. . .

Rural contractors worried about spreading Mycoplasma bovis – Tim Newman:

Rural contractors have expressed their fears about unwittingly spreading Mycoplasma bovis between farms. 

The issue came up during a panel discussion on M bovis and biosecurity at the Rural Contractors New Zealand national conference in Nelson on Thursday. 

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) admitted farmer privacy issues made the situation challenging for contractors but the chance of them spreading the disease further was low.   . .

Fonterra tries again in India, launches ‘Dreamery’ yoghurt and milks — Anuja Nadkarni:

Fonterra has launched a range of four products in India under the brand Dreamery through a joint venture with retail giant Future Group.

Fonterra first entered the Indian market in 2001 but the venture fell through.

The Dreamery range of products is the first brand under the joint venture Fonterra Future Dairy, which included two flavoured milk drinks, yoghurt and skim milk in tetra-packs. . .

Darfield partnership named top wheat growers

A Darfield father and son have claimed this year’s top wheat growers’ award.

Syd and Earl Worsfold were named 2019 supreme award winners in the United Wheat Growers wheat competition awards recently. The pair also won the feed wheat section.

Earl Worsfold farms in partnership with his parents Syd and Trish Worsfold on 400ha, including 260ha which Earl leased from a neighbour. . .

Why veganism is not the answer to reducing our environmental impact – Emma Gilsenan:

Reducing our environmental impact is more complex than simply removing animal products from the diet.

This week, on Wednesday, June 12, the National Dairy Council (NDC) – in association with Teagasc, Ornua and Lakeland Dairies – hosted its annual farm walk and seminar on the McKenna family farm in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan.

Speaking on the day, Dr. Marianne Walsh – a senior nutritionist with NDC – made some interesting points about veganism and the affect a complete plant-based diet would have on the environment and the population as a whole.

She said: “At the moment we have about 7.7 billion people and this is set to rise to about 9.7 billion by the year 2050. Which can exasperate some of the current problems that we are facing. . . 


Rural round-up

June 3, 2019

Townies ringing the changes on rural folk – Nigel Malthus:

Decisions are being made about and for New Zealand’s rural communities by the 80% of the population who live in urban areas, say the authors of a new book on rural change.

Current trends favour a market led, business focussed approach to regional growth, but these trends downplay social and community considerations, and that needs further thought, the authors say.

Heartland Strong: how rural New Zealand can change and thrive finds that rural communities have enormous strengths which could be enhanced and maintained even in the face of inexorable change. . .

Debt problems rise only slightly – Nigel Stirling:

The number of dairy farmers struggling with high debt has risen slightly, according to the Reserve Bank’s latest stock-take of the health of the financial system.

In its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report it said the number of non-performing dairy loans reported by the trading banks has increased slightly.

“The dairy sector is continuing to recover from the two major dairy price downturns in the past decade. . .

Plan needed for competing wood demands – Fonterra – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Wood is a viable industrial fuel but greater effort may be needed to ensure that new demand from processors doesn’t strip supplies from existing users, Fonterra says.

Co-firing the firm’s Brightwater milk powder plant near Nelson on a wood-coal blend shows that wood is a viable means to reduce emissions from process heat, Tony Oosten, the firm’s energy manager, says.

Capital and fuel costs for new wood or coal boilers are now very close and the company could – were it to be building its Darfield 2 dryer in Canterbury again – do that with wood. . . 

 

World leading scientist teaming up with Fonterra on sustainability:

Professor Ian Hunter is a serial entrepreneur. Born in New Zealand, he started his first company at age nine and published his first scientific paper at age 10.

Now living in Boston, he’s the Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, the co-founder of 25 companies, and has more than 100 patents to his name.

He’s also working on a new project – a partnership with Fonterra to solve some of dairy farming’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Kakariki Fund to help horticulture starts accelerate growth:

A wholesale investment offer being launched this week is aimed at helping the emerging stars of the New Zealand horticulture sector accelerate their growth.

Kakariki Fund Limited, which is seeking $100 million, will invest in orchards, vineyards, plantations and farms to be co-managed by leading horticulture processors and exporters including apple growers Rockit Global and Freshmax, Sacred Hill wines, craft beer hop grower Hop Revolution, Manuka honey producer Comvita and kiwifruit grower and packer DMS Progrowers.

Kakariki is targeting annual investment returns of 10%*, which will be made up of earnings from the sale of crops through the partners and any increases in land values.  . . 

Meat is magnificent water, carbon, methane & nutrition  – Diana Rodgers:

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

There was a recent article in The Washington Post entitled “Meat is Horrible”, once again vilifying meat, that was full of inaccurate statements about the harm cattle impose on the land, how bad it is for our health, and how it should be taxed. Stories like this are all too common and we’ve absolutely got to change our thinking on what’s causing greenhouse gas emissions and our global health crisis.

Hint: it’s not grass-fed steak

In the few days since the story originally came out, I’ve been brewing up some different angle to write. I’ve written here, and here about the benefits of red meat, and how Tofurky isn’t the answer to healing the environment or our health. I keep saying the same thing over and over. Recently, I posted this as a response to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new claims that a plant-based diet is optimal. I also wrote about Philadelphia’s sugar tax here, and I don’t think a meat tax is any better of an idea, especially when the government is subsidizing the feed. I’m feeling quite frustrated. . . 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2019

FARMSTRONG: Putting people first comes first

A thriving Canterbury dairy farmer puts as much thought into looking after his staff as he does stock and pasture. 

Duncan Rutherford manages an operation with 14 staff, 2300 cows and some sheep and beef on a 3300-hectare property. 

He and his family are still dealing with the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. 

“It was a reasonable challenge all right. A couple of houses got fairly damaged and one is still being repaired.  . . 

Exporters’ Brexit concerns grow – Peter Burke:

New Zealand primary produce exporters’ concerns continue rising about the confusion in the British parliament over Brexit.

NZ’s agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says given the possibility of a no-deal, exporters are making contingency plans for such an event.

But they also still hope a deal will be agreed so they won’t have to trigger plans for a no-deal. The whole thing is a terrible mess, Petersen told Rural News last week. . . 

Young farming couple applauded for farm sustainability – Angie Skerret:

A farming couple applauded for their commitment to farming sustainability have a simple message for other farmers – make a plan and make a start.

Simon and Trudy Hales, of Kereru Farms, are one of eleven regional winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards – taking out the Horizons regional award.

The Hales are the fourth generation to farm the land, and have worked hard to make positive changes on their 970ha sheep and beef farm near Weber. . .

A2 Milk says lift in dairy prices may impact in FY2020 – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Company said recent increases in dairy pricing will have an impact on gross margin percentages in the 2020 financial year but it doesn’t anticipate any significant impact this year.

Dairy product prices rose for the ninth straight time in the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction. The GDT price index added 0.8 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago and average prices are now up 28 percent since the auction on Nov 20.

“We do not anticipate any significant impact to gross margin percentage during FY19 as a result of recent increases in dairy pricing as reflected in Global Dairy Trade Indices. . . 

Dairy industry tells EU ‘hard cheese’ – Nigel Stirling:

The dairy industry is digging its heels in over the European Union’s attempts to seize dozens of cheese names for the exclusive use of its own producers.

The EU has long sought to use its free-trade agreements to extend its system of Geographical Indications (GIs) and its trade talks with NZ have been no exception.

As part of the talks the European Commission has given NZ negotiators a list of 179 food names and hundreds more wine and spirit names linked to European places it says should be given legal protection over and above that provided by this country’s own system of GIs protecting names of wines and spirits introduced several years ago. . . 

Scott and Laura Simpson’s focus on data collection pays off in Inverell drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

SOME of the toughest decisions are made during unfavourable seasons but for Inverell’s Scott and Laura Simpson their efforts during the good times are making their management easier. 

The couple are into their fifth year of ownership of the 1700 hectare property Glennon, which was previously run by Mr Simpson’s parents. 

At the time they had a herd of Brangus content types so the pair moved to incorporate more Angus genetics and breed more moderate females.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 5, 2019

Irrigation issues in Soal charge –  Annette Scott:

Elizabeth Soal started her new role as chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand last week and while a lot of challenges lie ahead there’s also a load of opportunities for the irrigation industry. She talked to Annette Scott.

PUBLIC awareness of water quality and how water is used and is changing the debate around water policy, Irrigation New Zealand’s new chief executive Elizabeth Soal says.

“The wider public is becoming more involved in debates and this trend will continue in the future. . . 

Mycoplasma Bovis risks are much greater than admitted – Keith Woodford:

Taxpayers and farmers are collectively committed to pay more than $800 million for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis. It is therefore reasonable that they are provided with good information as to how eradication is proceeding.

Unfortunately, the current information from MPI is not the full story. At the heart of the problem is the unwillingness of MPI to admit many of the things they do not know or are uncertain about. As one senior MPI person said to me in an unguarded moment, we would come across as clueless. . .

Call surprises agents – Nigel Stirling:

The body representing livestock agents is surprised at renewed calls for regulation after it moved to more strictly police the conduct of members just last September.

The Stock and Station Agents Association for the first time adopted a code of practice for its members and set up a disciplinary body for those failing to uphold the new code. . .

Otago farmers may voluntarily restrict water usage due to dry conditions – Tim Brown:

Farmers in Central Otago may resort to voluntarily restricting their water use in the next week as the prolonged hot and dry weather shows no sign of abating.

There’s plenty of feed locked away after a wet spring but the ground is now brown and dry, and there’s not much rain on the horizon. . .

 

Strength lies in team work for Manawatu Dairy Awardw inners:

The 2019 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say the strength of their farming business lies in the teams they have created to support their goal of growing their business.

Jemima and Thomas Bebbington say that entering the dairy industry awards has given them a better understanding of their business. “The Dairy Industry Awards gave us the opportunity to look into every nook and cranny of our farming business, and receive feedback from farming professionals,” say the couple, who have entered the Awards twice previously. . . 

Former livestock farm land placed up for sale as upmarket residential  enclave :

A large portion of elevated countryside pasture land previously run as a part of a dry stock farm has been placed on the market for sale for conversion into an upmarket boutique housing subdivision.

The approximate 12.8-hectare site overlooks the Waikato township of Paeroa, and is consented for subdivision into low density residential housing sections. The land is being subdivided off a bigger 302 hectare drystock farm which will remain in primary production use as a grazing block. . .


Rural round-up

March 4, 2019

EU makes a galling offer – Nigel Stirling:

The European Union is pressing New Zealand to drop the use of some cheese names in free-trade talks but is refusing to open its own dairy markets to increased competition in return.

Negotiators met for the third round of talks in Brussels last week. NZ’s lead negotiator Martin Harvey said the talks had made progress since being launched in July last year and the EU had already tabled an offer on agricultural market access.

“The EU has made us an offer but it is not satisfactory.” . . .

Milk price up but decisions loom – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra decided not to pay an interim dividend because of its debt reduction priorities and steps to improve its operational performance, chairman John Monaghan says.

Fonterra lifted its forecast farmgate milk price range 30c to $6.30-$6.60/kg MS on the back of improved demand from Asia, specifically China, and bad weather slowing production in Australia and Europe.

Countering that, geopolitical pressure in Latin America has made trading conditions difficult in some countries, chief executive Miles Hurrell said. . .

History made as Canterbury woman qualifies for for FMG Young Farmer of the Year final:

A North Canterbury shepherd has made history after qualifying for the prestigious FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.

Georgie Lindsay, 23, won the fiercely-contested Tasman regional final in Culverden last night, beating seven other contestants.

She’s the first woman from the sprawling region to make it through to the grand final in the contest’s 51-year history. . .

Chance to lower N leaching – Ken Muir:

Southern Dairy Hub business manager Guy Michaels said the key takeaway from last week’s field day at the Hub near Wallacetown was that there is a range opportunities for farmers to save money and reduce nitrate (N) leaching. ”While it is still early days for our research, our monitoring programme being carried out in association with AgResearch is starting to provide a picture of the differences in nitrate leaching in different situations,” he said. . . 

Enterprising family’s team work bears fruit – Sally Brooker:

Usually, it’s the kids who leave home. In the Watt family, it was the parents.

Julie and Justin Watt own Waitaki Orchards, just east of Kurow. Their eight children have become so involved in the business that they have stayed to run different aspects of it.

“Justin and I and the youngest are in Duntroon,” Mrs Watt said when the Oamaru Mail called in last month. “We were the first to leave home.” . . . 

The high school where learning to farm is a graduation requirement – Mary Ann Lieser:

A group of teens gathers quietly in the predawn darkness. Dressed in warm clothing, they meet before breakfast to help capture and pack broiler chickens to be taken to a slaughterhouse. They fed, watered, and watched the birds grow; now they prepare them for their final trip. Eventually, the birds will return as meat and be cooked for the teens to eat.

High school students at Olney Friends School, located on 350 acres near Barnesville, Ohio, witness the cycle of birth and death time and again during their four years on campus. Founded in 1837 to serve the children of Quaker families, Olney has always had a farm program and students have been involved in its operation to varying degrees. . .

 


Ag journalists recognised with awards

October 16, 2017

The role of agricultural and rural journalists is even more important now that fewer people have links to farming and rural New Zealand.

The best have been recognised in the annual Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ Awards.

Wellington-based Radio New Zealand Radio Rurals journalist took out the top award for agricultural journalists at the 2017 awards night for the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

Alexa Cook won the supreme award, the Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award, which recognises excellence in agricultural journalism. She won the award for coverage of a week-long mustering in Muzzle Station, the first after the Kaikoura earthquake. Her items were featured on Morning Report, Checkpoint, and Insight programmes and on the Radio NZ website. 

Rural New Zealand is very well served by specialist rural and farming publications but many of these are delivered free only to those on rural delivery postal routes.

Radio NZ, is broadcast nationwide with a big urban audience which means Alexa’s work has a broader reach in both town and country.

Runner-up in the MPI Rongo Award was The Dairy Exporter team of NZ Farm Life Media, for several features, particularly the Team Building feature.

Other award winners were:

  • The AgResearch Science Writers Award, established to enhance standards of science writing, especially about pastoral agriculture, was won by Alexa Cook and Carol Stiles
  • The Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award was won by Sally Rae of Oamaru, for articles which appeared in the Otago Daily Times
  • The Federated Farmers Broadcast Journalism Award was won jointly by Carol Stiles and Alexa Cook
  • The DairyNZ Dairy Industry Journalism Award which recognises the ability to communicate the complexities of the dairy industry, was won by Jackie Harrigan for articles in The Dairy Exporter.
  • The inaugural Zespri Export Journalism Award, which recognises the vital importance of exports to the New Zealand economy, was won by Fairfax Media’s Gerard Hutching.
  • The Alliance Group Ltd Red Meat Industry Journalism Award, which focuses on all aspects of the red meat industry was won by Alexa Cook, of RNZ Rural News
  • The Beef + Lamb New Zealand News Award, which recognises excellence in hard news journalism, focusing on any aspect of the beef and sheep industry, was won by Nigel Stirling for articles in Farmers Weekly and NZX Agri’s Pulse, both on trade talks.
  • The Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award was won by Des Williams, for a photo which appeared in Shearing magazine.
  • The inaugural Rural Women New Zealand Rural Connectivity Award, recognising the importance of connectivity to rural communities and agri-businesses in rural areas, was won by Alexa Cook.
  • The Guild’s own award – the Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award – is designed to encourage and recognise excellence among journalists with three or less years reporting on agricultural issues. This year, it was won by Brittany Pickett, of Invercargill, for articles which appeared in the NZ Farmer.

 

The ODT covers Sally’s Rae award here.


Rural round-up

October 9, 2017

Water conservation orders dam up vital conversation – Andrew Curtis:

The past few weeks have seen hundreds of Hawke’s Bay residents take to the streets to protest against a proposed water conservation order that would limit the amount of water taken from the Ngaruroro River. Nearly 400 submissions on the order have been received, with submitters split evenly between those for and against.

The Ngaruroro has had water drawn from it since the time settlement of the Heretaunga Plains started more than 100 years ago. Its waters support the orchards and vineyards that contribute to Hawke’s Bay’s identity and our enjoyment of New Zealand grown produce. Two-thirds of New Zealand’s apples come from the area, along with nectarines, onions, sweetcorn, squash and internationally renowned red wine. Thousands of jobs in Hastings and Napier rely on produce and business from these fertile plains. . . 

Healthy returns likely to continue – Tony Leggett:

Volatility is ever present but Alliance Group expects to deliver healthy farmgate returns for all types of livestock over the coming months.

Speaking at a roadshow meeting in Feilding on Tuesday, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Heather Stacy presented positive price ranges for lamb, mutton and beef.

“It’s been a strong year to date for farmgate prices but we’re really looking forward with caution. These price ranges I’m about to deliver are not a guarantee,” Stacy said. . .

Getting women active in decision making:

A course designed to lift farm profitability by helping farming women become more active partners in their farming businesses is achieving outstanding results, according to new research.

The Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) course funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Primary Growth Partnership Programme and run by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust has since 2014 built up the skills, knowledge and confidence of 650 farming women. . .

Meat quota outrage – Nigel Stirling:

The New Zealand sheep meat industry has gained a powerful new ally in the United States as access arrangements to its single most valuable market, Europe, are again thrown into doubt.

The industry was jolted by Britain’s announcement last week that it had agreed with the European Union how import quotas would be split after it left the 28-country bloc in 2019.

It was thought Britain had agreed to take part of the 228,000 tonne tariff-free quota previously covering the whole EU. The British portion would be based on its previous three years of imports. . .

Bananapocalypse: The race to save the world’s most popular fruit – Paul Tullis:

In a hot, dry field near a place called Humpty Doo in Australia’s Northern Territory, scientists are racing to begin an experiment that could determine the future of the world’s most popular fruit, the lowly banana.

Dodging the occasional crocodile, researchers will soon place into the soil thousands of small plants that they hope will produce standard Cavendish bananas — the nicely curved, yellow variety representing 99 percent of all bananas sold in the United States. But in this case, the plants have been modified with genes from a different banana variety. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 17, 2017

Susatainability key to role as new AgResearch leader – Sally Rae:

The big thrust for AgResearch in the future has to be around farm and environmental sustainability issues, new chairman Jeff Grant says.

His focus would be continuing to build on AgResearch’s ability to deliver science that was “highly relevant” to the future of farming.

Regional council changes, in a bid to get better outcomes around land and water, would force AgResearch to provide the science to ‘‘get the answers’’ and the tools for farmers.

“I see the organisation as being the lead provider of answers that allow farmers to meet the expectations for producing high quality food in natural and sustainable environments, while also being able to run a viable business. . .

Cattle grazing on river edges keeps weed ‘shambles’ down on extensive farms – Bob Todhunter:

With alI the bad publicity our rivers are receiving I feel the general public is confused between extensive and intensive grazing.

I would like to make some observations about stock grazing alongside waterways. I am no scientist, however I do have 70-plus years of practical observation.

I remember being taught fishing by my grandfather in the 1950s on the rivers of the Canterbury Plains when sheep and cattle were grazed extensively by the riverbeds. . .

Pine tree seedlings in short supply after poor growing season  – Jill Galloway:

A shortage of pine tree seedlings after a poor growing season for tree nurseries has hit some forest owners and farm foresters.

Patrick Murray ,who is owner of Murray’s Nurseries at Woodville in Tararua, said he had turned down orders of 1.2 million pines.

“We grew around five million pinus radiata but could easily have sold more. It has been a wet summer and poor autumn and that affected badly the growth of the trees.” . . 

EU farmer subsidies under threat – Nigel Stirling:

There are signs that the massive subsidisation of European agriculture could be cut back.

New Zealand has long fought the policy, which tops up the incomes of millions of European farmers.

For decades, NZ has argued the policy keeps European production higher than justified by market prices, and supply on global markets out of kilter with demand. . .

Alliance looks to food service growth – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group hopes that its new food service business will be achieving annual sales above $100 million in the next three years or so.

A four-strong development team is working up a pilot programme in the United Kingdom that the meat exporter will use as a springboard for wider Europe, and into Asian markets as well, general manager sales Murray Brown said.

“Who knows how it could go – we’re a $1.5 billion business and if we could get the food service up to 10% of total sales over three years that would be $100m to $150m.” . .

Nitrate data suggests a corner turned – Nicole Sharp:

Environment Southland’s latest water quality report shows a trend of decreasing or indeterminate nitrogen levels and Southland farmers deserve a pat on the back for this, Agribusiness farm consultant Deane Carson says.

Nitrate levels in Southland had always been an area of significant concern for him, and for a while were somewhat out of control, he said.

But the latest report showed the majority of the sites were indeterminate for nitrite­nitrate nitrogen (NNN) levels over the five years covered and nine of the 49 sites had a decreasing trend. . .


Rural round-up

January 9, 2017

Hold trade partners to account – Nigel Stirling:

They are expensive and have been used only sparingly in New Zealand’s history.

But one of the country’s top trade lawyers, Tracey Epps, says the Government shouldn’t shy away from taking cases against protectionist trading partners to the World Trade Organisation.

She tells Nigel Stirling why.

It amounted to a billion-dollar Christmas present for the country’s beef farmers. . . 

New plan ready to go – Alan Williams:

Farmers want Beef + Lamb NZ to step up its market development work and chairman James Parsons says a start is under way.

The new plan would involve more development work in key, mature markets alongside the export companies, Parsons said.

Promotions would be made only if companies were prepared to follow through with products and had already helped to develop the strategy. . . 

Reforming our regional economy – Chris Perley:

Why do we manage land the way we do? Why does New Zealand focus on ever-more gross production over a great scale of sameness?

Why do we talk of “feeding the world” when we can at best feed 40 million or so? Why do some defend the consequences of pollution of streams?

Why do we think we can keep on farming the way that we do, and then add some token riparian fences as some panacea solution – which it patently is not?

Enough with all the mechanical in-the-box thinking. It is leading us in a vicious treadmill downwards. . . 

High tech solution to invasive mammal pests – James Russell:

This year the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge in New Zealand launches its project on high tech solutions to invasive mammal pests, hosted by the University of Auckland. The high tech solutions project aims to deliver the long-term science solutions which will become a part of Predator Free New Zealand. In July 2016 the New Zealand government officially adopted Predator Free New Zealand and in December appointed the PFNZ2050 board of directors and announced its commitment to the Honolulu Challenge. In 2017 the high tech solutions project will commence researching the science which will eventually be needed to achieve the 2050 target. . . 

New Year honours for dairy, beef and wine leaders – Gerard Hutching:

Former National Cabinet minister John Luxton has been honoured with a Companion of the Order of New Zealand (CNZM) for his services to the dairy industry.

“This award is a recognition of the importance of the dairy industry, which is very innovative and responsible for earning nearly half New Zealand’s primary sector exports,” he said.

A National Party MP from 1987 to 2002, Luxton held numerous Cabinet portfolios including Agriculture, Housing and Commerce.

He oversaw the development of industry-good body DairyNZ, stepping down as chairman of the board last year, having held the position since 2008. . . 

Farm-turned-amusement park provides ‘good, wholesome, old fashioned fun‘ – David Burroughs:

If you’ve ever wanted to ride a cow, or get towed behind a tractor, or ride a bike like ET, you need to visit Fernbrooke Farm Amusement Park.

Sitting near the base of Mt Taranaki, the park is the brainchild of Stratford farmer Dave Hunger, who for the last five years has spent his spare time creating weird and wonderful machines and toys.

Hunger started bringing visitors on to his farm five years ago after making a trebuchet, similar to a catapult, out of a 13 metre long tree. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor, text and nature

I work out (side).


Rural round-up

July 2, 2015

Stoat threatens sanctuary kiwi:

Conservation staff are hunting a stoat that has breached a native wildlife sanctuary’s $2 million fence.

The Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin is home to several species of native birds, insects, and tuatara.

The centre’s conservation manager, Elton Smith, said a ranger spotted the stoat’s footprints in the snow last week.

“Experts confirmed the worst case scenario that it was in fact a stoat,” he said. . .

$8.8m in erosion grants awarded

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $8.8 million in funding grants over four years to help councils tackle hill country erosion.

“We’ve seen the serious damage that erosion has caused after the severe storm in the Whanganui, Rangitikei and Taranaki regions, both economically and environmentally,” says Mr Guy.

“This funding round is timely, given that $4.7 million out of the total $8.8 million is going towards the Horizons Regional Council. This covers the Whanganui and Manawatu regions which have been badly affected by flooding and landslides.” . .

 

Getting the right TPP deal – Nigel Sitrling:

Farming leaders say they will not be bounced into accepting a poor deal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Government should walk away from the talks if they do not deliver significant improvements in access to overseas markets for this country’s major exports.

After several times looking like it might fail in recent weeks the 12-country negotiation took a sizable step forward yesterday when the United States Senate finally passed legislation giving President Barack Obama authority to negotiate trade deals on behalf of Congress.

The so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill was passed 60-34 and is now ready to be signed into law by Obama in a move expected to clear the way for countries in the TPP talks to bring six years of talks to a close. . .

The bigger picture is progress – Rick Powdrell:

My November address to council had a theme of change. This is a topic our wider industry regularly focuses on, but concentrates on the big macro burning issues often without giving credit to the many progressive changes being made.

I don’t need to highlight the on farm productivity gains made in recent years to this council.  Our progressive farmers have adopted practices and technology to significantly lift the performance of their stock and the quality of the product to the end consumer.

At the same time the meat companies have been adopting modern technologies to improve the throughput performance of their plants. . .

Life membership takes Elliot by surprise – Sally Rae:

When Mike Elliot was presented with life membership of Otago Federated Farmers, he said it took him by complete surprise.

”It certainly blew my socks off. It was totally unexpected; just brilliant,” the 66 year old South Otago farmer said.

Mr Elliot first became involved with the rural lobby organisation in the early 1980s, attending Clinton branch meetings. In those days, the branch system in the organisation was very strong.

He later became chairman of the dairy section of Otago Federated Farmers and served as national senior vice president of the section. He was also a former provincial president. . .

 

Disappointment with ORC over wilding trees – John Gibb:

Otago Regional Council member Gerry Eckhoff says it is ”regrettable” the council has earmarked no funding to support community groups, including those in Central Otago, battling to remove wilding trees.

At an ORC meeting this week Cr Eckhoff, who lives near Alexandra, voted for the ORC’s amended long-term plan (LTP) overall.

But he voiced concern that no money was being provided to support community groups undertaking good work in tackling the growing wilding pine ”disaster”. . .

“Resounding support” for new arable industry structure:

Federated Farmers new Arable Industry Group Chairperson Guy Wigley says some “minor changes” has the arable sector on a secure footing for the forseeable future.

The industry group held its AGM in Wellington today with council elections and confirmed it’s name change from Federated Farmers’ Grain and Seeds Industry Group to the Federated Farmers’ Arable Industry Group. . .

 

New faces on federation’s dairy executive:

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Group has announced changes to its national executive this afternoon.

At the industry’s national council in Wellington there were two new delegates elected with one retiring.

Marlborough dairy chair Wayne Langford was elected vice chair to the national executive, while Mid Canterbury dairy chair Jesse Chan-Dorman was appointed to the executive. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 4, 2015

Unlikely lower dairy payout will lead to immediate land use change – Allan Barber:

Previous downturns or relative changes in sector profitability have generally led to a change of land use; and because sheep farming was the predominant 20th century rural activity, land use change was usually to a form of farming other than sheep. Think forestry in the late 80s and 90s, dairy since the early years of this century, horticulture, grape growing and rural subdivision for lifestyle blocks since the 1980s.

Now the dairy payout has almost halved in 12 months because of global overcapacity and weaker economic conditions, the question arises whether there will be a flight from dairy, either back to sheep and beef or to one of the other agricultural options.

There are two main facts about the dairy sector: the current price is below the cost of production and global dairy production will continue to increase. There are also differing opinions about the implications of the price downturn and the prospect of improvement in the near future. . .

Dairy Awards Winners Lead Profitability Charge:

The winners of the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are ahead of the game in driving profitability on farms, during a forecast period of low milk payouts.

At Auckland’s Sky City Hotel last night, Justin and Melissa Slattery were named 2015 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, James Foote became the 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and James Davidson was announced 2015 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Judges say the winners were actively seeking to manage through tougher economic times in the dairy industry. “They are ahead of the game and are planning to ensure they will be profitable if the payout is bad,” Sharemilker/Equity Farmer contest head judge Mark Horgan says. “The whole group were focused on operating profitable systems.”

Some finalists were actively involved in trialling new grasses on their farms while all were monitoring stock liveweights to ensure they met targets for optimum reproductive performance. . .

 

Culverden sharemilkers win national dairy title – Gerald Piddock:

The 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are ahead of the game in driving profitability on farms, during a forecast period of low milk payouts.

Justin and Melissa Slattery, who farm in Culverden, North Canterbury, were named 2015 NZ Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year at the annual awards in Auckland on Saturday night.

James Foote was named 2015 NZ Farm Manager of the Year and James Davidson is the NZ Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The winners were actively seeking to manage through tougher economic times in the dairy industry, the awards judges said. . .

Nervous wait on backlogs – Nigel Stirling:

The United States’ emergence from its economic slumber looks certain to rev up beef prices again this year. First though, large inventories built up during last year’s ports strike will need to be worked through. 

Prices for imported cow and bull beef reached record highs of US$2.97/lb and US$3.17/lb respectively in November because of high consumer confidence and because the long-awaited rebuild in the domestic herd squeezed local supplies. . .

Vet LSD shows promise for cattle:

Farmers who have enjoyed improved flock performance using Vet LSD (Livestock Survival Drench) mineral supplement will welcome early trial results on its use in cattle.

Developed by respected Marlborough veterinarian Peter Anderson, Vet LSD is now recognised as the benchmark for quality mineral supplementation, providing a valuable boost to vitamin and trace element deficiencies.

Its success as a quality mineral supplement for sheep has made it a mainstay for farmers using it pre-mating to lift fertility performance and again at pre-lambing to boost lamb survivability. . .

 Tales of a bushman and businessman – Inga Stunzer:

DESPITE being softly spoken and self-deprecating, Tim Connolly has a mischievous twinkle in his eye that hints at a roguish past.

And this is all laid out in print in his self-published autobiography, Bushman Bullrider Bushman – well, let’s say a sanitised version of his life.

The title says it all. His book maps his life as a six-year-old on a remote property at the foot of the Carnarvon Ranges, to life on the professional bull-riding circuit in the US, to droving and working in the mines at Mt Isa.

Now living in Miriam Vale, Tim says the idea to write began about 30 years ago. . .

Harris Tweed – the wool to succeed – Victoria Moss:

Even through the clouds on a murky day, as your plane begins its descent, the islands of the Hebrides are breathtaking: the barren landscape, that mixture of vibrantly coloured furrows accented with heaps of peat, has an earthy beauty. Driving across the Isle of Lewis, you see a bare expanse dotted by small villages, the houses flecked in pebbledash, all built to endure their environment rather than to please the eye. But aesthetics have long had a home here. These undulating roads have welcomed Dame Vivienne Westwood (who apparently complains if she arrives in good weather, preferring the biblical wind, rain and hailstones that more fittingly frame these islands) and designers from Chanel, Comme des Garçons, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, as well as a harried employee from a Parisian fashion house sent here on a wait-and-return private jet to pick up a pre-fashion-week panic roll of Harris Tweed.  . .


Rural round-up

January 6, 2015

Pink is in vogue as the ‘girls’ forge ahead with family farm – Sally Rae:

An inspirational North Otago mother-and-daughter duo who run a busy pig-farming operation are proof that women can do anything.   Sally Rae reports. 

“Pink definitely belongs on the farm,” Sam Fox reckons.

Sam (24) can be found most days in hot-pink overalls, working alongside her mother, Debbie, at their North Otago piggery.

”She says that’s the boss’ colour,” her mother says, while Sam quips she needs a badge to identify that she is ”chief executive” of Rayburn Farm Ltd.

The pair’s obviously strong relationship goes deeper than the usual mother-daughter bond because they are also business partners, together running an intensive farming operation. . .

Century of family’s effort celebrated with fine fruit –  Leith Huffadine:

The Webb family recently celebrated 100 years of horticulture on the same property, a part of an iconic Central Otago industry which evokes memories of hot summer days and ripe fruit. Leith Huffadine discussed family history, technology changes, and growing fruit with fourth-generation orchardist Simon Webb.

From father to son for four generations, the Webb family has been supplying people with fruit from their orchard, located just outside Cromwell, which has been in the family since 1914.

Established by John Robert Webb, in early summer that year, about 8ha of the 32ha section he purchased was planted in fruit trees.

Going by the numbers, Stonehurst Orchard is now just over 100 years old and has about 25ha planted in trees which produce about 550 or 600 tonnes of fruit a year. . .

Journalist writing new life on the farm Hamish McLean:

Gumboots are more part of Nigel Stirling’s wardrobe than suits these days but the former journalist has not gone “cold turkey” on his news
background, despite the demands of farming life. He tells Hamish McLean about his return to the family farm in South Otago.

One would forgive former colleagues for doing a double take, but Nigel Stirling has no trouble recalling how he was introduced to audiences in his four years at Radio New Zealand.

”They’d read out an intro that I’d written and then they’d say, `Economics correspondent Nigel Stirling has been covering the story – and he joins us now.’ ”And I’d say, ‘Good morning, Jeff’ or `Good morning, Sean’ or I’d just launch straight into it.

”They’d finish it by saying, `Thanks, Nigel.

”That was our economics correspondent Nigel Stirling.” . . .

More than just a cottage industry – Sally Rae,

An enterprising Central Otago farming family has diversified to successfully add tourism to its busy business operation, as Sally Rae reports.

Life is just busy enough at Penvose Farms.

Ask Stu and Lorraine Duncan how they balance a wide-ranging farming operation in the Maniototo with a successful tourism venture, family life and even civic duties, and the answer comes quick.

”Bloody hard at times,” says Mrs Duncan, a calm and capable woman who appears the perfect foil for her dry-witted and ever-thinking husband.

Stu Duncan is a fourth-generation farmer on the block at Wedderburn that was taken up by his forebears in 1894.

Additional land has since been bought and the enterprise now encompasses 2000ha, running sheep, deer and beef cattle, including an Angus stud. . .

Lack of sheep shearers threatens future events:

Falling sheep numbers are threatening the future of rural New Zealand shearing competitions due to a shortage of local shearers. 

The sheep population is at its lowest since World War II which has led to a lack of shearers. 

According to Statistics New Zealand the number of sheep declined by 1.2 million between 2013 and 2014 and now sits at 29.6 million.

Doug Laing of Shearing Sport New Zealand said the reduced flock is threatening the future of the events, which have dropped from around 100 nationally to 60 events a year.

Laing said the problem was a lack of shearers. “It’s a question of how long we can keep running these shows.” . . .

Planning for FMD outbreak – Simone Norrie:

THE Department of Primary Industries (DPI) estimates an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Australia could cost the economy up to $52 billion over a decade.

Exercise Odysseus brought together representatives from key industry bodies and government agencies to step out the action that could be taken if an outbreak occurred.

DPI hosted one of 40 simulation exercises across Australia at Wagga Wagga in December, with discussions centred on the ripple effect of an umbrella 72-hour livestock standstill if an outbreak did occur.

Independent consultant Ron Glanville, Biosecurity Advisory Service, Melbourne, Victoria, had run 10 exercises across Australia, and said the workshops discussed existing plans and highlighted the gaps. . . .

Artistic take on Molong’s scrap – Rebecca Sharpe:

FOR motorists heading through Molong along the Mitchell Highway, Caldwell Molong may only look like a scrap metal business.

But looking closer, gems of fine art sculptures are hidden.

A dinosaur proudly stands above the scrap while sunflowers poke their bright yellow heads into the sky.

Panel beater Mark Oates and mechanic Ben Caldwell are an unlikely artistic duo but they are the masterminds behind the beautiful recycled sculptures. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 8, 2014

Little water left for new schemes -David Bruce:

Virtually no water will be available from the lower Waitaki River for new irrigation schemes, if Environment Canterbury changes a water allocation plan for the river.

That possibility is revealed in a report on ”plan change 3” for the Waitaki catchment water allocation regional plan. Environment Canterbury (Ecan) earlier this year called for public submissions on the plan change, receiving 549. It is now in the second round of submissions.

As part of the plan change, a report under section 32 of the Resource Management Act, that contains details of what the change contains and the effects, has had to be prepared. . .

Westland Milk records highest-ever one-day milk collection – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products, the country’s second largest dairy cooperative, has recorded its highest ever one-day collection, with its tankers bringing in slightly more than four million litres of milk on Oct.31.

The Hokitika-based cooperative’s farmer shareholders have lifted production by more than 5 percent this season in spite of wet and cold weather on West Coast with 335 million litres of milk sent so far to the company’s plants in Hokitika and Rolleston, Westland said in a statement. Coast-based farmer suppliers have produced a 3 percent rise on this time last year while Canterbury shareholders are up by more than 14 percent. . .

 

Putting in 100% pays off with win – Sally Rae:

Reward for effort.

That is a common saying in the Engelbrecht household in East Otago, applied to anything from farming to the sports field.

”That sums up everything in life,” Simon Engelbrecht told those attending a field day at his farm last week.

Mr Engelbrecht, who farms at Stoneburn, near Palmerston, with his wife Kirstin, was a firm believer in ”do it 100% or don’t do it”.

The couple were the winners of this year’s New Zealand ewe hogget competition. First-time entrants in the competition, they won the crossbred section with their Coopdale hoggets and the flock performance award, before winning the overall title. . .

Exporters paying lower tariffs:

A report into trade barriers for New Zealand’s horticulture industry reveals the amount exporters have had to pay on tariffs was 25 percent less than two years ago.

The Trade Barriers report shows tariffs imposed by other countries cost New Zealand growers on average $36,000 each – about $8000 less than in 2012.

Sixty percent of New Zealand’s total production of fruit and vegetables is exported and is worth just over $2.4 billion.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock said it is important to continue efforts on getting free trade agreements because while progress has been made there is still a long way to go. . .

Non-tariff barriers next hurdle – Nigel Stirling:

A shift in New Zealand’s trade strategy looks to be underway as primary industry bosses question the value in launching yet more tariff-tackling negotiations when potentially larger obstacles to trade exist elsewhere.

The recent deal with South Korea meant NZ now had trade agreements with six of its top 10 export markets.

Of the remaining four (the United States, Japan, the European Union and India) negotiations were under way for tariffs-busting deals either through the 12-country TransPacific Partnership or in bilateral talks either underway or expected soon. . .

Study of kea strike starts – Sally Rae:

Clio Reid wants to help prevent sheep being attacked by kea – and kea being shot.

Ms Reid is seeking help from farmers in a study of sheep and kea that she is conducting as part of her PhD through the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University.

They were encouraged to take part in a survey to find out the extent of kea strike on South Island high country sheep stations.

Kea strike was discovered in the Wakatipu area in the 1860s, with a legal government bounty initiated in the same decade which resulted in an estimated 150,000 kea killed up until the early 1970s. . .

Farm Environment Trust Celebrates ‘Great Farming Stories’:

 Many of the great farming stories delivered by the Ballance Farm Environment Awards are showcased on New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust’s website.

NZFE chairman Simon Saunders says the Trust recently revamped its website to make the “vast wealth of educational material and fantastic farming stories” easily accessible to farmers and the wider community.

The ‘Great Farming Stories’ link on NZFE’s homepage www.nzfeatrust.org.nz will take the viewer through to an extensive choice of ‘Sustainability in Action’ video presentations and written reports. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 19, 2014

Peony growers’ business blooming – Sally Rae:

When Rodger and Cindy Whitson decided to get into the cut flower industry back in 2000, they started with a bare paddock and no horticultural knowledge.

They trialled gentians, viburnum and peonies before deciding peonies were best suited to their property, near Mosgiel.

Peony plant numbers have since swelled from 2000 to about 10,000, with plans for more plantings. . .

 Profitable harvest of Jersey Bennes – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s most famous produce is being harvested for the new season.

Rows of Jersey Benne potatoes are coming out of paddocks in the Totara area just south of Oamaru, renowned for the tarry, fertile soils that produce exceptional early spuds.

A workforce boosted by tertiary and secondary students as they finish their exams is picking and packing the Jersey Bennes.

Organic horticulturist Marty Quennell said his harvest started early this year – the week before Labour Weekend. That meant he had the market to himself for the first three weeks, when a premium price was being paid. With others growers now getting going, the price would drop back, he said. . .

NZ tractor sales set to match records this year on buoyant farming – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand tractor sales are expected to match record highs for the modern farming era this year, as farming incomes are boosted by high milk prices and good growing conditions.

Sales of tractors of at least 40 horsepower, the most common measure for farm tractors, have reached 2,536 in the first nine months of this year and are expected to climb by year’s end to match the 3,515 total for 2005, the highest level since the Tractor and Machinery Association began gathering the data in 1990. Some 60 percent of the nation’s farm tractor sales are estimated to relate to the dairy industry.

Farmers had more cash this year to buy farm equipment such as tractors after Fonterra Cooperative Group paid out a record $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids and the agriculture sector generally benefited from good growing conditions which meant farmers could boost production without having to divert funds into areas such as extra stock feed. . . .

 Ambitious predator-free plan launched:

A group of prominent individuals and private businesses has joined forces with the Department of Conservation in a plan to eradicate all pests from mainland New Zealand.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust unveiled its vision of an Aotearoa free of rats, stoats and possums at the Place To Live conference in Whanganui today.

Trust chairman Devon McLean said that the secret weapon in the battle against pests would be the thousands of New Zealanders already dedicated to controlling predators.

China-Australia FTA milks NZ’s – Nigel Stirling:

Australia’s new trade agreement with China could give it an edge in milk powder exports unless New Zealand can invoke a clause in its own agreement to get similar tariff concessions.

The two countries yesterday announced the end of ten years of talks for a free trade agreement which Australia says is superior to NZ’s 2008 deal which allowed for the full elimination of tariffs on dairy products by 2019.

Australia’s deal allows for the elimination of tariffs on dairy products within eleven years, but crucially does not include the use of special safeguards by China to protect its farmers from surges of imported skim milk powder from Australia. . .

A2 Milk to list on ASX in 1Q 2015 – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co, the milk marketing company, is planning to list on the Australian stock exchange next year, where it has 9 percent of the fresh milk market sold in grocery stores.

The Auckland-based company doesn’t plan to raise any new capital in a float on the ASX and will keep its New Zealand incorporation and NZX listing, it said in a statement. It has hired Goldman Sachs New Zealand and DLA Piper Australia to manage the listing, and hopes to join the Australian bourse in the first quarter of 2015.

In August, managing director Geoffrey Babidge called the Australian market A2’s “big cash generator”, and said it will bankroll its push into new markets. The company reported annual sales rose 17 percent to $111 million in the year ended June 30, of which 96 percent came from Australian sales. A2 reported a drop in annual profit to $10,000 from $4.1 million a year earlier, as the strength of the kiwi dollar against its Australian counterpart weighed on sales. . .

Ballance helps farmers better weather the weather:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has joined forces with NIWA to bring advanced hi-resolution weather, climate and environmental forecasts to farmers via the co-operative’s Ag Hub online farm management system.

Announcing the partnership, Ballance General Manager AgInformation Graeme Martin said farm profitability and sustainability are increasingly affected by variable weather patterns, growing conditions and the availability of water.

“Farmers are looking for the best possible support to make operational decisions. NIWA’s advanced forecasting systems and its national climate station network are at the leading edge of weather and environmental information. . .


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