Rural round-up

28/07/2022

Devil in the detail of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

Free trade agreement’s finer points are still being worked out – and not all of them are going NZ’s way, says Beef+Lamb policy tsar.

Meat exporters are already facing a reduction in their new access to the European Union market, just weeks after New Zealand apparently concluded a free trade agreement with the bloc.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travelled to Brussels in Belgium last month to clinch the deal with the EU after four years of negotiations.

But Beef+Lamb NZ’s general manager for policy and advocacy Dave Harrison said negotiations between the EU and NZ had not stopped with the PM’s announcement. . . 

Right time and right place(ment) – Leo Argent:

With labour shortages a grim reality for many farmers across the country – and no end in sight – recruitment agencies have seen demand increase drastically.

With offices in Timaru and Ashburton, overseeing areas ranging from Darfield to Invercargill, Wendy Robertson has run Personnel Placements (PPL) for 22 years, Gaye Scott oversees PPL’s agricultural team, which is involved in jobs ranging from dairy to meat to horticulture.

As a recruitment agency, PPL puts candidates on a database who can then be sent out for clients for work. Along with part-time and full-time jobs, agencies also cover permanent and temporary employment placement, saving clients the time and cost involved in interviewing prospective employees.

Robertson told Rural News that agriculture is an important part of her business’ success and that a large part of the agriculture team’s work is in seasonal jobs. . .

 

 

New Tech promises to make shearing sheep less of a drag – Tim Lee:

Australia’s shearer workforce has dwindled from about 15,000 when wool prices were booming in the 1980s to about 2800.

The pandemic has further reduced the small pool of skilled labour and woolgrowers who are struggling to get their sheep shorn.

Australian Wool Innovation chairman Jock Laurie said Covid had made the problem worse.

“The border closures have stopped people moving across borders and stopped the New Zealanders coming in,” Laurie said. . . 

Fonterra welcomes Milk-E New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker :

New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker, Milk-E, has been officially launched by the Minister for Energy and Resources, Hon. Dr Megan Woods, in Morrinsville.

Local Government, Iwi, Industry and Fonterra employees were also present to recognise the significant milestone in the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s heavy transport, while also recognising the team behind the build.

Named by Fonterra farmer Stephen Todd from Murchison, Milk-E is part of Fonterra’s fleet decarbonisation work, which is one of a number of programmes that’s helping the Co-op towards becoming a leader in sustainability.

“Right across the Co-op our teams are constantly looking at how we can decrease our emissions – from on farm, to at our sites and throughout our transport network,” said Chief Operating Officer, Fraser Whineray. . . 

Baseline set for subsurface irrigation trial :

While Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson are disappointed not to have collected the data they were hoping for from their subsurface drip irrigation trial due to a wet summer, the couple have established a baseline for the next irrigation season which they hope will follow a more normal weather pattern to enable data collection.

Gary and Penny are participating in a farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

The subsurface drip irrigation system on their two-hectare test block in Cust consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . .

The Walking Access Commission changes its name:

Trails aren’t just for walkers, they’re for all of us – and so is Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, formerly the Walking Access Commission.

Our new name recognises more than the breadth of trail users, which range from people in tramping boots to fishing waders, sitting astride a horse or a bike, shouldering a rifle or pushing a stroller. Herenga ā Nuku refers to the rich connections we find on the trail – with the whenua and its stories, with ourselves and with each other.

Herenga is a bond, obligation or tie. Nuku refers to Papatūānuku, the earth mother. She is the land in all her beauty, power, strength and inspiration. She sustains us.

Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa – connecting people, connecting places. . .


Rural round-up

26/07/2022

Climate Change Commission pours reality on HWEN proposals – Keith Woodford:

Industry groups now need to decide how to manage the HWEN stand-off with the risk of being left outside the tent

Big decisions are now required, both by rural industry groups and Government, following the Climate Change Commission advice on the He Waka Eke Noa proposals (HWEN). The Climate Change Commission, chaired by Rod Carr, has supported some aspects of the HWEN proposals put forward by industry, but has poured cold reality on other aspects.

Beef+ Lamb and DairyNZ have responded by suggesting that it is all or nothing.  However, that is not going to wash with Government. Once again, the rural industry groups have challenging decisions to make as to whether they are inside the tent or outside the tent.

First, there is a key area of agreement which needs to be celebrated.  The Climate Change Commission supports the split-gas approach, with this being fundamental to keeping methane away from the Emission Trading Scheme.  Given this support, the Government can now be expected to align firmly with this.   But there is still a lot of hard work to be done on sorting out the pricing mechanism for methane. . . 

Calls for help over ‘exploding’ rabbit plague grow louder – Jill Herron:

A government agency has been instructed to crack down on an out-of-control rabbit population decimating lakeside land

Government-managed land in Central Otago with an “exploding” uncontrolled rabbit population is finally getting attention after the Otago Regional Council stepped in.

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has confirmed the council inspected land it manages near Cromwell and Lake Dunstan and found it has “unacceptable levels” of rabbits.

The agency, along with a number of land-holders, has received a council “request for work” letter as part of a reinvigorated effort to push back the tide of rabbits decimating lifestyle blocks, farms and crown land. . .

 

Use of cover crops encouraged :

Farmers who are intensively grazing forage crops are being encouraged to consider planting a catch crop to make use of the nutrients left in the paddock once grazing has finished.

Heather McKay, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Environmental Policy Manager, says farm-scale trials has shown that catch crops can reduce nutrient losses from the soil by up to 40% in some soil types.

“Sown as soon as ground conditions allow, catch crops such as oats or rye corn can be really effective at capturing nutrients and turning them into valuable drymatter.”

Trial work carried out by Plant & Food Research has shown oats to be an ideal catch crop in that they are cold tolerant and germinate at five degrees and above. They reduce water in the soil and capture soil nitrogen (N) left in the wake of winter grazing. . .

Kiwi-designed frost fighting machine gaining interest in France

A New Zealand-designed frost fighting machine that looks like a giant hair dryer could become hot property in France.

Hamilton engineer Fred Phillips, along with two colleagues, started working on the machine, called the Heat Ranger ten years ago.

It is a five-metre tall machine that heats up to between 300 and 600 degrees Celsius, and pushes out air that is 35 degrees C, protecting 15 hectares of grape vines.

In 2020 one machine was used in Blenheim and one in France. . . .

Covers give calves a jump start – Nigel Malthus:

A Christchurch manufacturer of woollen calf covers says his newest product should find favour with the dairy farmers of Southland – even though his main market is the beef ranchers of North America.

David Brown is promoting his Fit N Forget calf covers, made of hessian-reinforced wool. They are sized for the typical American black Angus beef calf, at 85kg liveweight and with leg holes more closely spaced than a dairy calf cover, to match their stockier build.

Selling online, his main market is in the northern states of Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota, with their particularly harsh winters.

But Brown also sees a market for them in New Zealand, even on dairy farms, whenever a farmer is not seeking dairy replacements but is using beef genetics to enhance the value of his calves. . . 

 

Laura Schultz is 2022 Bay of Plenty Young Grower of the Year:

Three outstanding women have taken out first, second and third place with Laura Schultz from Trevelyans named Bay of Plenty’s Young Grower for 2022 at an awards dinner in Tauranga last night.

The competition took place yesterday, 20 July, at Mount Maunganui College, where eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful horticulture business in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition titled ‘What I’ll be growing in 2050’, at a gala dinner last night.

Laura excelled in the individual challenges, and impressed judges with her speech on providing the best quality produce by adapting to climate change to grow crops which meet the changing environment. Yanika Reiter came in second place, while Emily Woods was third.

Laura’s prize includes an all-expenses paid trip to Wellington to compete for the title of National Young Grower of the Year 2022, in September, as well as $1,500 cash. . .

 


Rural round-up

20/07/2022

Former Ministers critical of PM’s comments – Nigel Stirling:

More voices have joined the chorus of condemnation aimed at the Prime Minister for comments they feel hurt New Zealand’s chances of getting a meaningful deal with the European Union.

Two former trade ministers have joined the dairy industry in condemning comments made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a critical point in trade talks with the European Union.

The Dairy Companies Association believes Ardern scuppered the industry’s last chance of a commercially meaningful outcome from the talks by revealing a weakening in New Zealand’s negotiating position.

Before flying to Brussels for the final few days of the talks last month Ardern told media that NZ was ready to accept an improvement on the “status quo” market access NZ exporters already had in the EU. . .

NZ’s European Union free trade agreement – was a better deal left on the table? – Jane Clifton:

Our recently signed free-trade deal with the European Union has upset the dairy and beef sectors. Was a better deal left on the table?

As a country, we’ve just flunked that test psychologists set for small children, offering them one marshmallow now, or two if they wait five minutes.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided delayed gratification wasn’t the right strategy for the much-anticipated European Union free-trade agreement (FTA) and returned from her travels with just the one marshmallow.

After a couple of days’ hearty talk about how marvellous the deal was, Trade Minister Damien O’Connor conceded, “It’s probably fair to say that no one likes it, so we probably have it about right.” . . .

Farmers farm because it’s a way of life, they’re not asking for sympathy – Kerre Woodham:

I wanted to have a look at our farming sector this morning, because I think the grumpiness from a number of farmers over a Country Calendar show featuring Lake Hawea station probably gave us a heads up on where farmers’ confidence is at.

And it’s low, very, very low. According to a Rabobank quarterly rural confidence survey, it’s the lowest since the pandemic began. Back in March, farmers’ confidence was the lowest it had been since Federated Farmers began a twice a year survey in 2009. 

When you think about the reality of farming for most Kiwis, I guess you can understand and empathise with their frustration. It’s a cold, wet, miserable job in winter and a hot, dry dusty one in summer. Most farmers can’t delegate their farm chores, no matter if they’ve got the flu or if they’re feeling under the weather with a head cold, or if they’ve got Covid, they have to drag themselves up or call in favours from neighbours, which they will then repay. . . 

Council candidates deserve searching questions Feds says :

With sweeping changes facing local government, and the very existence of some councils under threat, Federated Farmers is urging rural New Zealanders to step up their interest in the election campaign this year.

“The Three Waters juggernaut is gathering steam despite a great deal of opposition,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard said. “Unchanged, it will put control of critical infrastructure in the hands of unelected and hard to hold to account entities, likely headquartered far away from rural New Zealand.”

This, plus moves for district planning functions to be regionalised, will leave some provincial councils with little left to do, “and thus ripe for forced amalgamations, given the review of the future of local government doesn’t wind up until next year,” Andrew said.

Local body elections happen again in September/October and Federated Farmers has just released its 2022 Local Elections Platform. It’s on the Federated Farmers’ website and sets out the federation’s position on the major issues swirling around local government, with questions and advice for voters and candidates. . . 

Food charity run by farmers says demand increasing nationwide

A food charity set up during the first wave of Covid-19 says two years on demand is outstripping what they can supply.

The Meat the Need charity takes donated livestock from farmers and processes it into premium mince, which is then donated to food banks nationwide.

Since it was founded in early 2020, the charity said it had supplied meat for more than 760,000 meals across the country.

Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford co-founded Meat the Need with Motueka Valley-based sharemilker Siobhan O’Malley. . .

Chance, choice and the avocado: the strange evolutionary and creative history of earth’s most nutritious fruit – Maria Popova:

In the last week of April in 1685, in the middle of a raging naval war, the English explorer and naturalist William Dampier arrived on a small island in the Bay of Panama carpeted with claylike yellow soil. Dampier — the first person to circumnavigate the globe thrice, inspiring others as different as Cook and Darwin — made careful note of local tree species everywhere he traveled, but none fascinated him more than what he encountered for the first time on this tiny island.

Dampier described the black bark and smooth oval leaves of the tall “Avogato Pear-tree,” then paused at its unusual fruit — “as big as a large Lemon,” green until ripe and then “a little yellowish,” with green flesh “as soft as Butter” and no distinct flavor of its own, enveloping “a stone as big as a Horse-Plumb.” He described how the fruit are eaten — two or three days after picking, with the rind peeled — and their most common local preparation: with a pinch of salt and a roasted plantain, so that “a Man that’s hungry, may make a good meal of it”; there was also uncommonly delectable sweet variation: “mixt with Sugar and Lime-juice, and beaten together in a Plate.” And then he added:

It is reported that this Fruit provokes to Lust, and therefore is said to be much esteemed by the Spaniards. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

04/02/2022

Feds: High price on NZ farmers will increase global emissions :

Price penalties won’t drive down livestock emissions without affordable and practical new technologies being available to farmers – unless the aim is to kill off the sector, Federated Farmers says.

The Federation is baffled by comments by Climate Change Minister James Shaw that “…Pricing isn’t the only tool in the toolbox, but it remains the best way to reduce emissions directly – and that’s name of the game.”

Feds President Andrew Hoggard said that was “an overly-simplistic and domestic focused solution to a complex global problem.

“The global atmosphere does not benefit from New Zealand shrinking food production, even if our politicians can crow about local emissions reductions. Our farms’ emissions footprint is world-leading; forgone production here would just shift offshore to less efficient farmers.” . . 

Gain and pain in move to carbon pricing – David Anderson:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison concedes that the two alternative options to the ETS that the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) partnership has developed are not perfect.

However, he says they are as good as they can be and describes the upcoming consultations on them as one of the most important issues for farmers in 2022.

“It’s a complicated topic and we’re strongly urging farmers to come along to a roadshow event to find out more and to have their say,” Morrison told Rural News.

He believes that farming leaders made a significant gain by collectively getting a split gas outcome in the Zero Carbon Bill. . .

MIQ border changes ‘too late’ for sector – Neal Wallace:

The Government’s gradual opening of New Zealand borders is too late for worker-short primary sector employers seeking an injection of foreign workers for the harvest season.

Under a five-step graduated process announced today, New Zealanders fully vaccinated against covid living in Australia and those with border exemptions can return home from 11.59pm on February 27, with 10 days of self-isolation.

From 11.59pm on March 13, the borders will open to New Zealanders and eligible travellers under current border settings from the rest of the world.

Under this step, self-isolation will reduce to seven days. . .

Agriculture needs to adapt or die – Nigel Stirling:

NZ’s agricultural sector needs to recognise Covid-19 as the “new normal,” says leading expert on international trade, Professor Hamish Gow.

He says a lot of firms have used the pandemic as a positive opportunity and have been very successful in driving change within their firms, their value chains, and their industry.

“Then there’s other ones who have sat back and said, ‘We don’t need to change, this will all be over’,” Gow told Rural News. “And we’re now into our third season and they’re still trying to run everything the same way, complaining that they can’t, for example, find workers.

“But they haven’t done anything to change and they’re in the same situation that they were at the start of the pandemic.”

Plans to ‘blanket’ plant trees across Wales could ‘decimate’ farming communities, campaigners claim – Dan Whitehead:

Rural farming communities in Wales could be “decimated” if blanket afforestation is allowed, according to the president of the National Farmers Union in Wales.

The warning comes amid large scale government plans to plant millions of trees across the country to create a new national forest.

But there is concern from some communities about the number of Welsh farms being sold to large-scale investment firms, which plan to create woodland to offset carbon emissions.

In the tiny Carmarthenshire village of Cwrt-y-Cadno, Frongoch Farm was sold earlier this year to Foresight Group – a multi-billion pound private equity firm based in The Shard. . . 

NZ agri-tech start-up Cropsy Technologies successfully raises $15 million in an over-subscribed capital raise:

Cropsy Technologies has successfully completed its first capital raise, with the award-winning ag-tech company raising $1.5 million in an over-subscribed round, ensuring it is perfectly positioned to commercialise its world-first AI-enabled crop vision system.

CROPSY unlocks the full potential of crops with its unique visioning technology that combines mobile, continuous and GPS-tracked high-definition image capture, with AI-enabled software to analyse crops and aid decision making for growers. Attached to a tractor and powered by the tractor battery, the Cropsy vision system sees and understands every single plant while a grower runs their daily crop operations, profiling every leaf, fruit, shoot, cane, and trunk in real-time as the tractor passes by. Eliminating sun, shadows, and reflections from the captured images preserves accurate colours and textures regardless of the time or weather.

The technology enables growers to identify pests and diseases early, for targeted spraying and reduced crop loss, as well as efficiently understanding crop growth and saving time for vineyard and orchard managers. It will boost sustainability goals for growers by ensuring resources are not applied when not needed. . . 


Rural round-up

28/01/2022

Farmers want to be critical workers as part of Omicron response

Farmers are warning of huge pressures on food supply if they’re not considered part of the critical workforce.

The government has laid out its three-phase plan to tackle Omicron, which would allow critical workers who are close contacts of a case to return to work after a negative rapid antigen test.

But they haven’t defined exactly which workers it covers yet.

Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard told Checkpoint that farmers and other workers in the industry definitely met the criteria of being critical due to looking after animals and producing food. . . 

Farmers prepare as closed borders disrupt harvest amid Omicron outbreak – Samantha Gee:

With harvest season set to kick off for the horticulture sector in the top of the South Island, orchardists, growers and hop farmers are faced with staff shortages due to closed borders.

It is estimated the region needs 1500 more staff across a number of industries: hops, apples, pears, kiwifruit and pipfruit to name a few.

Valima Orchard business manager Matthew Hoddy, who grows apples near Nelson, said more than half of his 220 employees during harvest were made up of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers and those on working holiday visas.

But February 2020 was the last time that car loads of travellers showed up at the orchard, looking for seasonal work picking apples. . . 

‘Razor’ shares rugby secrets with farmers :

Make sure you have someone to talk to when life gets tough.

That was the key message from Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and some rural mental health advocates at a packed gathering of the Ellesmere farming community recently.

Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture Inc (ESAI), with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries, invited its members and community to listen to four speakers sharing their experiences around leadership, stress, anxiety and depression and the strategies to cope with the pressures life creates in rural communities.

A capacity crowd of nearly 100 farmers, their families and their neighbours were captivated by Robertson sharing some of the secrets of the culture that created the Crusaders dynasty, including their methods to handle setbacks and stress, which according to Robertson apply to both the rugby field as well as the farm. . . 

Quinedale Farm & Stud – a family affair

Taupiri dairy farmer Balraj Singh jokes that when he married his wife Hardeep, he ‘converted’ her.

He’s not talking about sports teams or coffee brands, but cattle breeds.

“I’ve been milking cows since I was 14-years-old, and I was brought up with Holstein Friesians,” he says.

“Before we got married, Hardeep had a small herd of 75 pedigree Jersey cows, but I convinced her to start milking Holstein Friesians. . . 

New lending rules could benefit sector – Nigel Stirling:

New lending rules wreaking havoc on residential borrowers have not had any noticeable impact on farm lending and could even spur the banks to look favourably again at the sector after a lean couple of years.

Since the start of December, banks have been applying extra scrutiny to loan applications in response to legislation designed to protect borrowers from saddling themselves with unaffordable levels of debt.

While the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act had seemingly been motivated by a desire to crack down on loan sharks, it has ended up capturing a far larger share of the market than ever intended.

Bankers are being extra cautious under pains of fines of up to $200,000 if they are found to have failed to follow the letter of the new law when assessing loan applications. . . 

Upland farmers face ‘income crisis’ in transition to new  schemes :

Upland farmers have warned they face an income crisis if significant changes are not made to the UK’s post-Brexit agricultural support system.

In a meeting with Defra, the NFU uplands forum said the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) failed to offer a meaningful return for the costs of managing upland landscapes.

The SFI – the first of the UK’s new environmental land management schemes replacing the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy – will be rolled out this year.

The reform is the most significant change to UK farming and land management in over five decades. . .


Rural round-up

27/04/2021

Farming director on SFF knew the time to go – Sally Rae:

When Fiona Hancox stood for the board of Silver Fern Farms, it was all about timing.

Six years later, the West Otago farmer’s decision to not seek re-election in this year’s farmer director elections for Silver Fern Farms Co-operative was also about timing.

While acknowledging it was sad to leave what was a “fantastic company and board” and also such an important part of her family’s own farming business — it was the right time, she said.

“I think I’ll be just be able to be pleased with what I’ve done,” she said. . .

Govt hasn’t got its ducks in a row on firearms licensing:

The Government’s focus on hitting legal firearms owners with more costs and regulations has meant those keen to participate in the Roar and duck shooting season may miss out.

Opening weekend of duck shooting season is just around the corner and the Roar is drawing to a close but many hunters are still waiting for their paperwork to be processed in order for them to hunt legally.

National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says police have been unable to get on top of the situation.

“Police are telling people it’s taking four months for a license renewal and six months for a new license. But in reality, for some it’s taking much longer than that. . . 

Ag export sector backs scrapping UK Tariffs – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand’s largest agricultural export industries have given conditional backing to calls for Britain to scrap tariffs on food imports.

Britain’s Trade Minister Liz Truss set up the Trade and Agriculture Commission last year, to plot a path forward for the country’s trading relationships with the rest of the world following its departure from the European Union’s customs union on January 1.

Former NZ trade minister Lockwood Smith, who joined the commission as an expert on international trade and helped write its final report published in February, has said its recommendation to Truss to open the border to food imports from countries with equivalent animal welfare and environmental standards as the UK is potentially a breakthrough moment for NZ dairy and beef exports shut out of the British market by high EU tariffs since the 1970s. . .

Using Mandarin to meat a need – Shawn McAvinue:

Southern students considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector were among the Meat Industry Association scholarship recipients for 2021. In a series, reporter Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study and plans.

A Nelson Mandela quote resonates with Meat Industry Association scholarship recipient Joelle Gatenby: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Her dream was to use her agribusiness and Mandarin language skills to “bridge the friendship” between New Zealand and China and sell more red meat to the populous nation.

She learned to speak, read and write Mandarin at high school and represented Columba College at national Chinese speech and essay competitions. . . 

Defining year for winter grazing practices:

While the Government has delayed the implementation of winter grazing regulations by 12 months, it has made it clear it will be keeping a very close eye on wintering practices this year.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s North Island General Manager Corina Jordan says farmers should follow the good practice management advice developed by B+LNZ, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and other industry partners and ensure they have a plan in place that identifies any winter grazing risks and outlines the strategies to mitigate them.

Based on recommendations from the farmer-led Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, B+LNZ is planning to hold Forage Cropping Workshops this winter, which are a component of the organisation’s recently released Farm Plan.     . .

* Big agriculture is best – Ted Nordhaus and Dan Blaustein-Rejto:

In some ways, it is not surprising that many of the best fed, most food-secure people in the history of the human species are convinced that the food system is broken. Most have never set foot on a farm or, at least, not on the sort of farm that provides the vast majority of food that people in wealthy nations like the United States consume.

In the popular bourgeois imagination, the idealized farm looks something like the ones that sell produce at local farmers markets. But while small farms like these account for close to half of all U.S. farms, they produce less than 10 percent of total output. The largest farms, by contrast, account for about 50 percent of output, relying on simplified production systems and economies of scale to feed a nation of 330 million people, vanishingly few of whom live anywhere near a farm or want to work in agriculture. It is this central role of large, corporate, and industrial-style farms that critics point to as evidence that the food system needs to be transformed.

But U.S. dependence on large farms is not a conspiracy by big corporations. Without question, the U.S. food system has many problems. But persistent misperceptions about it, most especially among affluent consumers, are a function of its spectacular success, not its failure. Any effort to address social and environmental problems associated with food production in the United States will need to first accommodate itself to the reality that, in a modern and affluent economy, the food system could not be anything other than large-scale, intensive, technological, and industrialized. . .

* Hat tip: Offsetting Behaviour


Rural round-up

28/03/2021

Call for native tree policy rethink – Colin Williscroft:

A farmer involved in a new initiative that’s calling for a radical change in thinking to meet the Climate Change Commission’s target of 300,000ha of new native forests by 2035 says it’s going to be a big ask – but that’s not putting him off.

O Tātou Ngāhere is a programme launched on Thursday night by Pure Advantage and Tāne’s Tree Trust that not only calls for greater ambition in meeting the commission’s target, but also seeks an urgent change to the way native forests are planted, managed and valued.

Tane Tree Trust trustee Ian Brennan, who runs a small drystock farm providing dairy grazing near Cambridge that he aims to half plant in native trees, says while pine trees have been the focus of a lot of plantings for those targeting carbon credits, he cannot imagine anyone regretting planting natives – although they are a much longer-term project. . . 

UK trade talks going nowhere, slowly – Nigel Stirling:

It appears that Britain’s trade negotiators haven’t yet caught up with the news that their farmers want tariffs on imported agricultural products scrapped.

Ditching high tariffs on agricultural products from countries which meet the same environmental and animal welfare standards as British farmers was one of 22 recommendations made by British Trade Minister Liz Truss’ Trade and Agriculture Commission earlier this month.

Britain’s farmers were fully represented on the commission by the representatives of the English, Welsh and Scottish branches of the UK’s peak farming lobby, the National Farmers Union (NFU), along with several other farmer bodies. . . 

 

Smedley runs faster with FarmIQ:

Running a 5660ha dry stock operation is a big ask at the best of times, but add in a teaching role and it can prove a juggling act which Smedley Station manager Rob Evans is more than up for.

Rob admits having a young crew of cadets to oversee helps him stay sharp, and has also encouraged him to look harder at the new technology out there that young cadets will be engaging with in their farming careers.

This includes FarmIQ, and for the past two years Smedley has been gradually adopting many of the features FarmIQ offers into its day to day operations, and for bigger picture planning during the season.

Initially when he started using FarmIQ Rob had been inputting stock numbers and feed budget data to give himself and staff a more up to date picture of feed supply-demand. This enabled him to share potential options with staff via the computer or cell phone. It has also meant he can get a real time picture across the station’s four blocks. . . 

Kiwi hunters likely to miss another roar due to police firearm licensing delays:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association says the backlog in Police’s processing of new and renewing firearms licences will mean that many New Zealanders will, again, miss out on hunting during the deer roar this March and April.

NZDA Chief Executive, Gwyn Thurlow, says “after missing out on the 2020 roar due to Covid-19 Lockdown, hunters are looking forward to the 2021 roar this March and April however many hunters will be forced to sit on the side-lines because of Police administrative delays in renewing their firearm licences.”

“Many hunters have been in touch to tell NZDA that they are one of the many people caught up in the huge backlog in firearms licence processing delays by Police.

“The timing is particularly unfair on hunters who rely on securing meat for their families at this time of year”, says Gwyn Thurlow, noting “the roar is upon the Kiwi hunting community but sadly a good number will miss out through no fault of their own, simply because of the administrative backlog at Police.” . . 

Biosecurity Amendment Bill has HortNZ’s backing:

Horticulture New Zealand is thrilled that the Biosecurity (Information for Incoming Passengers) Amendment Bill has been drawn from the Private Member’s Ballot.

‘When the border re-opens, it will be important to remind travellers of the need to be particularly vigilant when entering New Zealand,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘New Zealand’s top performing horticulture and other primary industries would be easily destroyed if a particularly virulent pest or disease entered the country. This would have catastrophic effects on exports and the New Zealand economy, at a time when things are already fragile. . . 

2021 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner says he wants to contribute positively to the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry.

Sam Howard was named the 2021 Manawatū Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards announced at Awapuni Function Centre on Wednesday night. The other major winners were Karl Wood, the 2021 Manawatū Dairy Manager of the Year, and Josh Wilkinson, the 2021 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Sam won $10,465 in prizes and a clean sweep of eight merit awards. He is 50/50 sharemilking for John Gardner, on his 80ha, 240-cow Palmerston North property. Sam was also named the 2016 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

22/02/2021

EU carbon tax: threat or opportunity? – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand farmers have been quick to claim world champion status for carbon efficiency. So why are they so nervous about a planned European tax on the carbon emissions of imports? Nigel Stirling reports.

It has been described by the European Union’s top bureaucrat as the continent’s “man on the moon moment”.

An ambitious plan to decarbonise the European economy known as the “Green Deal”.

“The goal is to reconcile our economy with our planet,” European Commission president Ursula van der Leyen boldly declared when first revealing the plan in December 2019. . . 

M. Boris review gets underway – Annette Scott:

An independent review of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme is aimed at identifying lessons that can be learned from New Zealand’s largest biosecurity response.

Driven by the programme partners, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), the review is deemed best practice given the scale of the eradication programme.

It will also fulfil a commitment made to farmers at the start of the programme, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says.

“Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is hard work, but with the whole sector working together we have made really good progress,” Van der Poel said. . . .

A winning formula for good cows :

A Waikato dairy farming couple have proven they’re at the top their game, taking out two prestigious titles at New Zealand’s largest cattle showing event.

Tom and Francesca Bennett, Te Hau Holsteins, had both the best Holstein Friesian cow at New Zealand Dairy Event and Tom also took out the World Wide Sires, All Breeds Junior Judging Competition. The family was also named Premier Holstein Friesian Exhibitor.

“It was awesome, I did the Pitcairns Trophy judging competition at the Waikato Show and came second, but Dairy Event was my first really big judging competition to win,” says Tom. . . .

Dairy conversion Otaki style – Peter Burke:

From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. Near the Horowhenua town of Otaki, dairy conversion has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not a case of converting sheep and beef farms to dairy farms, rather it’s a case of just converting old dairy sheds to country style tourist accommodation. Reporter Peter Burke visited two such conversions by two pretty special and creative women.

The two conversions are complementary – one offers an experience on a commercial dairy farm while the other has a focus on horses.

Stacy Faith and her husband Andrew milk 360 cows once a day to supply Fonterra. They separately milk 20 more to supply A2 milk for the vending machine they have installed at their farm gate. It’s a farm that has long been in the Faith family. . . 

From working at the dairy farm to owning it – Ruby Heyward:

Raspberry Cottage owner Sarala Tamang is farming with a twist, but not without some help.

Originally from Nepal, Mrs Tamang moved to Waimate in 2010. She bought the Raspberry Cottage business and the attached farm from couple Barry and Margaret Little in 2019.

For the six years prior, Mrs Tamang had worked for Mr and Mrs Little, caring for the berries as though they were hers – and now they are.

Using her experience, and with the help of the previous owners’ continued guidance, Mrs Tamang wanted to grow what the supermarket did not offer. . . 

 

Mental health: young farmer recalls decision to quit farming >

A 23-year-old who had dreamed of being a farmer since he was a child had to quit the industry after his mental health started to slip.

Dan Goodwin from Suffolk has shared his story during the annual Mind Your Head, a week-long campaign raising awareness of farmers’ mental health issues and the support available to them.

When Dan turned 18, he moved from Bury St Edmunds and attended a land-based college in Norfolk.

Throughout his studies, he enjoyed learning and the structure that his apprenticeship with a small family-run farm gave him. . .

 


Rural round-up

21/02/2021

Anxious times – Rural News:

The recent Climate Change Commission discussion document has made many farmers anxious.

Quite rightly, they are keen to know what’s in store for them and DairyNZ has been fielding calls from farmers. The Climate Change Commission was formed alongside work to set the country’s climate targets (including biogenic methane targets).

The establishment of the commission is legislated under the Zero Carbon Act 2019 and its main purpose is to provide evidence-based advice on climate issues.

Under the Act, the commission is required to deliver advice on setting emissions budgets across the entire economy to government. This advice has implications for all sectors of the economy, including farming. . .

Tackling climate change – Andy Loader:

Is it time to take a deep breath and stop to consider the whole climate change debate on a global scale rather than just based on New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Accord?

We should also consider how we measure the climate change impacts on the environment and move from a per capita basis to one where impact is measured against production outcomes, as this will give a truer picture of the direct impacts on the environment from agricultural production on a global scale.

In last week’s Rural News, Waikato farmer George Moss likened the position New Zealand farmers find themselves in to Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup: “Yes, we are the holders of the cup now, but if we don’t keep innovating and be smart, our competitors will take it off us.”

It’s a great analogy. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers not getting enough help with Bovine TB – Sally Round:

A Northern Hawke’s Bay farmer caught up in the response to a bovine tuberculosis outbreak in the area says they’re not getting the support they need to stay afloat.

The animal health agency, OSPRI, works to control the spread of the disease, which is mainly transmitted by possums.

While OSPRI has been working to get the outbreak under control, more than 500 farms have had to spend the last 12 months operating under restricted livestock movement controls. Latest figures released from OSPRI this month showed there were 15 TB-infected herds – down from 20 last year.

Sonya Holloway, who has been farming in the area for 18 years, said the long-running restrictions and additional TB management costs were adding up and they didn’t feel like they were getting enough support. . . 

Gumboot sales booming – Nigel Stirling:

Rubberware sales in export markets and rubber footwear sales in New Zealand boosted Skellerup’s agri division to a record earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) of $15.3 million in the first half of FY2021.

The interim result for the division was an increase on the previous corresponding period of 56% as revenue grew 18%.

The agri division result also contained the first full six-month contribution from the Silclear business in the United Kingdom.

The agri division manufactures dairy consumables and rubber footwear, including milking liners, silicone tubing, teat sprayers and hose nozzles. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours.

Their interest in milking sheep goes back to when Guy was manager of a 3300ha property near Gisborne, owned by Māori incorporation, Wi Pere Trust. They considered sheep milking and went as far as buying some of the first East Friesian sheep embryos brought into New Zealand. . . 

 

While cities are shut down farmers are making hay – Aaron Patrick:

Australia’s greatest ever wheat crop has made history, and offers lessons for policymakers grappling with natural crises, such as droughts and the pandemic.

From the flat West Australian wheat belt to the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, exhausted farming families have hung up their work boots and parked their tractors, quietly satisfied with making history.

After a drought that tested many farmers’ will to work the dusty soil, this year’s winter crop will be the second-biggest in history, at 55 million tonnes, according to an estimate published on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Plenty of rain in NSW and Victoria, and good conditions in Western Australia, helped farmers grow 33 million tonnes of wheat – the largest crop ever. . .


Rural round-up

26/07/2020

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

30/05/2020

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

06/02/2020

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

28/01/2020

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

14/09/2019

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

21/08/2019

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

05/07/2019

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

03/06/2019

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

06/04/2019

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

05/03/2019

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

04/03/2019

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. . .

 


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