Rural round-up

July 1, 2018

Farmers stop cow abuser from working with animals unsupervised – Gerard Hutching:

The Northland contract milker caught hitting cows by hidden cameras has been banned from working unsupervised around animals.

Owners of the dairy farm said “as lifelong and committed dairy farmers we are shocked and deeply saddened” by the reports of the ill treatment of some stock on their farm.

“As of today the contract milker concerned has been removed from all duties requiring unsupervised contact with stock pending the outcome of due process with regard to our contractual obligations,” they said in a statement.

The man had earlier been described as a sharemilker, but the owners clarified that he is a contract milker. Sharemilkers own their own cows, whereas contract milkers work with a farm owner’s livestock. . . 

Reigning Young Farmer grand final winner ready for 50th anniversary – Mary-Jo Tohill:

If he had not won the FMG Young Farmer of the Year last year, Lovells Flat sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead would be in Invercargill giving it another go next week.

The 50th anniversary event kicks off in Invercargill on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

“I would be studying my backside off right now to have another go,” the 29-year-old said.

It is now up to another past grand finalist and this year’s Otago-Southland regional winner Logan Wallace, who farms at Waipahi, to have a shot at the Southland-based grand final. . .

Youngsters get say on future :

Farmstrong has developed a new online survey to better understand the pressures facing younger farmers and farm workers and ask them what works to improve their wellbeing.

The nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative provides tools and resources for farmers, growers and farm workers to help them better cope with the ups and downs of farming.

It will help provide a clearer picture of the things that might work to improve the wellbeing of younger farmers and farm workers.  . . 

Why there’s no rural-urban divide when it comes to caring for the environment – Melissa Clark-Reynolds:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says farmers care just as much about the environment as everyone else, and with its new Environment Strategy and Implementation plan, it plans to help sheep and beef farmers promote reduced carbon emissions, cleaner water, thriving biodiversity, and healthy productive soils. 

I recently spoke at a farmer’s event in Christchurch with a few hundred sheep and beef farmers from the northern part of the South Island. At the end of my talk, an older farmer came up to me and asked why I hadn’t talked about organics. On my way home, someone tweeted me that they’d “always said we should have declared all of New Zealand organic and GMO-free. The price premium could have been whatever we asked for.”

At the Beef + Lamb AGM recently, a group of farmers (mixed ages, from their 20s through to their 60s) asked me why I hadn’t talked more about Regenerative Agriculture – farming that heals the land, the lifeforms that dwell there, and the communities of people too. The fact that I keep being surprised by this stuff says more about me as an urban Kiwi than it does about farmers. . .

Nutrient management valuable tool if handled correctly says Allen:

The National Party’s announcement of bipartisan support for the Climate Change Commission last week made it clear that environmental conservation is currently at the forefront of political and social concern in this country.

Part of that concern is the issue of national water quality, breached by David Parker several weeks ago with his announcement of plans to introduce nationwide farm nutrient limits.

A particular point of contention was the suggestion that destocking would have to take place in certain areas to meet the new limits. However, Federated Farmers national board member Chris Allen says if all else fails, it’s just something some farmers may have to accept: . .

What makes a good farmer – Blue North:

What are the attributes of a really good farmer? Would they include a penchant for order and neatness? A single-minded focus on efficiency and yield maximization? A bullet-proof resolve in the face of risk? What about drive for expansion and scale or technical proficiency? While some or all of these may currently inform our rating of farmers, I want to propose some alternative attributes in response to this question. But before getting there, some context is needed.

One of the formative ideas, probably the most important one, that shaped our thinking when we started Blue North in 2011, and which fundamentally shapes what we do to this day, is understanding farmers as the key role-players in determining the sustainability of food supply-chains, and, by extrapolation, the sustainability of mankind as a whole. . .

What are the challenges facing farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .


Rural round-up

March 29, 2018

Free trade trumps protectionism, we hope – Allan Barber:

It’s ironical the same week the CPTPP agreement was signed President Trump proudly announced new tariffs on steel and aluminium which threaten to undermine the World Trade Organisation’s function as the global regulator of international trade. The jury is still out on whether Trump can get the tariffs signed off by Congress and he has already created exemptions, at the time of writing for Australia, Canada and Mexico. But it’s an uneasy period, particularly for a country as dependent on trade for its economic survival as New Zealand, because we might well get caught in the crossfire from a trade war.

Meanwhile supporters of free trade can celebrate the signing of the CCTPP which I admit I didn’t rate as a certainty in my tips for 2018 in January. There has been a lot of noise from those against the agreement, either because it doesn’t differ markedly from the original TPP since rejected by Trump or because 22 clauses negotiated by the USA, including Investor State Settlement Disputes provisions, have only been suspended rather than removed altogether. But I suspect the antis would have objected regardless, wanting neither the original nor current agreement to be signed under any circumstances. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand urges farmers to comply with NAIT:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is urging all farmers to comply with the National Animal Identification Tracing (NAIT) scheme requirements following the announcement of a programme to track cattle movements as part of the Mycoplasma bovis response.

The Ministry for Primary Industries will stop trucks in the upper South Island to check that farmers moving cattle from the South to the North Island are complying with their legal obligations under the NAIT Act.. . . 

Technical advice and pathway tracing reports released following compliance searches:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today released reports by a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to its Mycoplasma bovis response and an internal report examining potential entry routes (pathways) to New Zealand for the disease.

The TAG report contains a reference to possible legal breaches in relation to how the disease entered the country.  While these have largely been redacted from the report, MPI has been unable to release it until those matters were sufficiently examined by compliance investigators.

Note: Redactions have been made to the TAG and pathways reports consistent with provisions of the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). Where required, the Ministry for Primary Industries has considered the public interest when making decisions on the information being withheld. . . 

Environment under the spotlight at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Annual Meeting:

The sheep and beef sector is well-placed to turn the challenges into opportunities and reap the rewards, farmers were told at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Annual Meeting in Gisborne today.

James Parsons, outgoing Chair at Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) said strong prices and recent trade gains such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will undoubtedly help lift the profitability of sheep and beef farming. . . 

First Tauranga kiwifruit for 2018 sailing tomorrow

As chocolate eggs are being dispensed this weekend, New Zealand kiwifruit growers are shipping a much healthier alternative to Chinese consumers.

The Klipper Stream will carry New Zealand’s first load of Zespri Kiwifruit from the Port of Tauranga to China for the year, marking the start of what looks like another record-breaking season. Loading began this morning and the ship is scheduled to pass through the harbour entrance on Good Friday. . . .

Nigel Woodhead to put his ploughing skills to the test in Southland:

One of the country’s most recognisable young farmers will put his ploughing skills to the test in Southland next month.

Nigel Woodhead has been invited to compete at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury on April 14th-15th.

The 30-year-old is a sheep and beef farmer at Milton and was named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year last July. . . 

Go for 5G, but bring rural NZ along too:

New Zealand’s ambitions to get on with the roll-out of 5G technology should be applauded but don’t put dealing with woeful rural coverage on the back-burner, Federated Farmers Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says.

Tests of 5G mobile technology were carried out on the streets of downtown Wellington this week and industry players are talking about putting this next generation of digital communications infrastructure in place from 2020. Meanwhile plenty of towns and provincial hinterland limp on without broadband, and patchy or non-existent mobile coverage.

“Primary producers play a dominant role in earning the nation’s living and technology is pervading every aspect of agriculture. With poor or no access to ultra-fast broadband and mobile, faming businesses – and family life – suffers,” Andrew says. . . 

2018 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards Winners Announced:

The major winners in the 2018 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards are relatively new to the dairy industry and believe their success is due to their full involvement in their business.

Daniel and Paula McAtamney were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Addington Raceway and Events Centre last night. The other big winners were Will Green, who was named the 2018 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Salem Christian, the 2018 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Second time lucky for 2018 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards winners:

A Hokitika couple have been announced as major winners in the 2018 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards.

Carl Wilmshurst and Anna Boulton were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Nelson last night. The other big winners were Anthony Lamborn, who was named the 2018 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Goffriller, the 2018 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .  

Inventors and innovators wanted for the 2018 Fieldays Innovation Awards:

Calling all agricultural inventors and innovators: entries are now open for the 2018 National Agricultural Fieldays Innovation Awards.

The Innovation Awards showcases innovation across several industry areas: dairy and drystock farming, horticulture, information and communication technology, cloud and mobile-based software, animal health and genetics, water and waste management, environment and clean-tech, animal and farm management, farm safety and leading research. . . 

Fewer weeds, more wheat:

A herbicide to control problematic weeds in wheat crops and so increase crop yield, has been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

An application from Bayer New Zealand Limited to import Sakura 850 WG was considered by a decision-making committee convened by the EPA. This product contains pyroxasulfone, an active ingredient not used before in New Zealand. It will be imported ready-packaged for sale, and is intended for use by commercial growers and contractors, not home-gardeners.

“The EPA has concluded that this product offers considerable benefits to wheat growers,” said General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter. . . 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2017

Wool needs red carpet treatment – Neal Wallace:

Wool growers need to put their hands in their pockets to fund the education of marketers and retailers on the merits of carpet wool, an industry veteran says.

Richard Bloemendal, a director of Tech ‘N’ Color, has worked in the New Zealand textile industry since 1980. He said key people in the retail chain today were ignorant of the merits of wool.

He was commenting on news that thousands of bales of short, strong crossbred wool were being placed in storage since the price collapsed because of a lack of demand from yarn manufacturers. . .

Young blood comes in from the cold –  Neal Wallace:

As the country shivered this week through its coldest period of winter so far, 28-year-old Nigel Woodhead conceded the timing wasn’t great.

For the past nine months or so the newly-crowned FMG Young Farmer of the Year confessed to most days making sure his stock was shifted, healthy and fed before returning home to study and prepare for the annual contest.

Now, as the mercury plummets, he has no such excuse. . .

Footrot result a boost for merino – Annette Scott:

A scientific breakthrough has put Kiwi farmers a step closer to breeding footrot-resistant flocks and increasing production of premium Merinos.

Scientists from the NZ Merino Company broke new ground using DNA sampling to accurately predict how resilient a sheep’s progeny would be to footrot.

The breakthrough was the result of four years research and studies using the world’s largest single-site central progeny test. . .

Stink Bug Agreement signed:

 The Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is one of the biggest threats facing New Zealand’s horticultural sector. It threatens the livelihoods of primary sector producers, and would impact on the quality of life of all New Zealanders if ever able to establish here.

An agreement to reduce the damaging impact of BMSB incursion was signed today by a number of horticultural sector groups and Government at the Horticulture NZ Conference in Tauranga. . .

Letters to a Young Farmer– Danielle Nierenberg:

Today, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture released Letters to a Young Farmer,  a book which compiles insight from some of the most influential farmers, writers, and leaders in the food system in an anthology of essays and letters.

The United States is on the cusp of the largest retirement of farmers in U.S. history, with more farmers over the age of 75 than between the ages of 35 and 44. Letters to a Young Farmer aims to help beginning farmers succeed through advice and encouragement, while inspiring all who work in or care about the food system. Among the 36 contributors to the book are thought leaders Barbara Kingsolver, Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, Dan Barber, Temple Grandin, Wendell Berry, Rick Bayless, and Marion Nestle. I was honored to contribute to the book as well! . . 

Barbara Kingsolver Cheers on Young Farmers:

Letters to a Young Farmer is full of good counsel for the next generation from the likes of Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, and the noted novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

Dear young farmer,

Let me speak to you as a familiar, because of all the years I’ve cherished members of your tribe. Of course, I also know you’re only yourself, just as I remember the uniqueness of every intern, WWOOFer, and summer weed-puller who has spent a season or two on our family’s farm. Some preferred to work without shoes. Some were captivated by the science of soils, botany, and pest management. Some listened to their iPods, or meditated, or even sang as they hoed and weeded, while others found no music among the bean bee­tles. A few confessed to finding this work too hard, but many have gone on to manage other farms or buy places of their own. In these exceptional souls I invest my hopes.

I don’t need to tell you what there is to love in this life; you’ve chosen it. Maybe you’ve even had to defend that choice already against family or academic advisers who don’t see the future in farming. . . 


Rural round-up

July 12, 2017

Young farmer win ‘still sinking in’ – Vaughan Elder:

Winning the title of Young Farmer of the Year was a dream come true for a Milton man who has fond memories of watching the competition as a child.

Sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead was named Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday night after three days of intense competition spread across Palmerston North and Feilding.

Winning the event was ”unbelievable” given the high standard of the six other finalists he was facing, Mr Woodhead said.

He won a prize worth almost $100,000, including a 25hp tractor, a quad bike and $15,000. . .

Inspirational farmers awarded – Andrew Morrison:

We all have people in our lives who inspire us.

They are often the unsung heroes who, through their words and actions, enrich our lives and make us want to be – and do – better.

They may be friends, family, work colleagues or teachers – or the neighbour who isn’t afraid to give things a go. They strive for excellence and lead by example.

Over the past year Southland has been fortunate to host many of agriculture’s most inspirational people. We saw the skills of the world’s-best shearers and wool handlers on display at the World Shearing Championships in January and in May we hosted the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ National Showcase. . .

Dairy hub set to open – Sally Rae:

The Southern Dairy Hub at Makarewa, near Invercargill, will be officially opened on Friday.
The hub, which includes a working dairy farm and centre for science and research, will allow farmer-led and local issues to be researched on southern soils, in southern conditions.

DairyNZ and AgResearch are the principal shareholders, investing $5 million each, while local farmers and businesses contributed a further $1.25 million through the Southern Dairy Development Trust. . . 

Southland farmers concerned proposed Water and Land Plan will cut land use – Brittany Pickett:

Ian and Heather Smith are worried they could lose the use of up to a quarter of their farm if the Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan remains unchanged.

The couple run Erme Hill, at Waimahaka, in Southland, a 413 hectare rolling country dairy and sheep farm and are in the Bedrock/Hill Country physiographic zone.

They have 480 dairy cows, 700 ewes and 650 hoggets and winter almost all of their stock on the farm. . .

Southern entries vie for top steak award:

Several Southern entries are among the finalists in this year’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition.

Judging will be held this week at Auckland’s University of Technology with the winners announced at an awards dinner in Auckland on July 20.

Ceri Lewis (Otautau) and Dougal Stringer (Gore) are both finalists in best of British breed (Angus), Laurie Paterson (Gore) is a finalist in best of British breed (Hereford), and Anita Erskine (Tuatapere) is a finalist in best of British breed (other) with a Shorthorn entry.

Bowmont Meats, in Invercargill, is in the final of best of brand-retail with a Hereford Prime entry. . .

British adults shun dairy farm labour – sector could be threatened if EU labour cut

Questions have been raised over the future of the dairy industry after only 4 per cent of UK adults said they considered all key aspects of work on dairy farms ‘personally acceptable’.

Industry chiefs sounded warning bells over the industry’s ‘image problem’, but said the domestic workforce could not be relied on to plug labour shortages.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) highlighted that of the 2,000 people questioned, many were put off by a role when linked to the dairy industry – such as working with animals or jobs situated in rural locations – with only 9 per cent of skilled or qualified UK adults confident they would consider a job in dairy. . . 


Woodhead 1st Otago Young Farmer of Year winner

July 9, 2017

A media release from the FMG Young Farmer contest:

For the first time in its 49-year history, an Otago farmer is the FMG Young Farmer of the Year with Milton sheep and beef farmer, Nigel Woodhead, convincingly winning the prestigious title after three days of gruelling competition.

The 28-year-old was overwhelmed and emotional after 3 days of intense competition.

“I watched FMG Young Farmer of the Year when I was a child, so to win it, is a childhood dream that I think will take a long time to sink in,” Woodhead said.

A popular winner, Nigel graduated from University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science before working at Midlands Seed in Ashburton for five years, prior to heading home to the family farm.

The win is particularly relevant in the Woodhead household as Nigel grew up in a family that watched the Contest every year with his Dad competing at a young age.

For Nigel it is the realisation of a dream.

“My wife Leanne and I worked really hard and to win this is incredible!”

Contest Chairman and former Grand Finalist Dean Rabbidge said he was thrilled to see an Otago Southland farmer take the title home.

“History has been made tonight in a proud farming province and we couldn’t be happier.”

NZ Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland said Nigel was the epitome and pinnacle of what future leaders in the Agri-sector need to be.

“The FMG Young Farmer of the Year continues to showcase the brilliant young leadership our organisation strives to develop. Nigel is an inspiring future leader who showcases the exceptional leaders we strive to develop.”

RESULTS:

FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

First Nigel Woodhead, Otago Southland

Second, Hamish Best, East Coast

Third, Andrew Wiffen, Tasman

AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge winner: Hamish Best

Massey University Agri-Growth Challenge: Lisa Kendall

Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge : Nigel Woodhead

Hynds Agri-sport Challenge: Arjan van’t Klooster

Meridian Energy Agri-knowledge Quiz and Speech challenge: Hamish Best

 How the FMG Young Farmer of the Year works:

400 contestants competed in 22 District Contest and Skills Day nation-wide.

56 contestants compete in seven regional finals from Northern, Waikato-Bay of Plenty, Taranaki-Manawatu, East Coast, Tasman, Aorangi, Otago-Southland from February to April.

The seven winners of the regional final will now compete at the Grand Final in the Manawatu this week.

In 49 years only four females have ever made the Grand Final:

Denise Brown who placed Seventh in 1981

Louise Collingwood who was Placed Third and Runner Up in 2001 and 2003

Katherine Tucker placed Seventh in 2012

Lisa Kendall in 2017.

Update:

He’s not the first Otago winner, but he’s the first from the province in more than 20 years.


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