Rural round-up

18/04/2021

New report warns that we’re building over our food basket – Alex Braae:

The 2021 Our Land report has raised serious warnings about our most productive food-growing land being turned over to housing. Alex Braae explains.

What’s all this then?

The environment ministry and Stats NZ have produced a new report called Our Land, which outlines exactly what New Zealand’s land is being used for, or how it is being left alone. Over and above the stats, it also shows the connections between land use, the economy, environmental outcomes, and even human wellbeing. 

What’s the big takeaway from the report?

A major fear that gets outlined in detail is about the spread of cities and residential areas into highly productive land – the sort that is vital for the growing of food. One point the report opens with is that our cities were mostly founded near this sort of top quality land, because that allowed enough food to be grown to sustain them.  . . 

O’Connor opts for a ban on exports of live beasts (rather than tighter regulations) to demonstrate our high animal-welfare standards – Point of Order:

Commodities are leading the global economic recovery. International demand for grains, dairy and forestry products is extremely strong – driven primarily by increased demand from China, ANZ Bank  economists say in their latest NZ Agri Focus.

Dairy markets shot up in March, driven by strong buying from China, among challenging conditions to deliver product to market. Since then prices have stabilised near current levels, encouragingly, despite more product being added to the GlobalDairyTrade sales channel.

The recent strength in global markets, combined with a slight softening in the NZ dollar. has been supportive of farmgate milk prices. . . 

Heriot saleyards closure sad but inevitable– Shawn McAvinue:

The Heriot saleyards closing after being a community meeting point for more than a century is sad but the writing was on the wall, a West Otago farmer says.

Farmer Graham Walker owns a 394ha sheep and beef farm in Park Hill and was the second generation of his family to sell stock at the saleyards, about 50km west of Lawrence.

The saleyards were a social place, which brought the community together.

However, the closure was inevitable, as fewer sales were being held as years passed, and as health and safety regulations had tightened. . . 

From dairy giant to tiny player: Miraka CEO Grant Watson – Laurilee McMichael:

It’s eight weeks in and Miraka’s new chief executive Grant Watson says that so far, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Information overload,” he jokes. “Lots to learn, lots to soak up. It’s a big industry, that’s for sure, lots of moving parts.”

Happily though, dairy is not a new industry to Watson, who took up the Miraka role on February 3, replacing departing chief executive Richard Wyeth, who had been with the company for 11 years and who had taken it from being a plan with a greenfields building site to a respected player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Wyeth is now chief executive of Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products. . . 

Rural postie makes last run – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is the end of the road for a South Otago postie — but in a good way.

After 18 years, David Fenton (67) has parked his rural post truck. He delivered his last parcel before Easter, and the new owners, Jane and Richard Whitmore took over the run early in April.

In almost two decades, Mr Fenton has covered about 846,000km. And while somewhat miffed not to have hit the million km mark — he would have got close had he kept going for a few more years — he was pleased with the decision to call time.

“I’ve been getting super for two years, so I’ve been double-dipping. Colleen [his wife] is retiring soon, and we’ve got to get out there and see more of New Zealand. There’s a whole lot more we want to see and go back to see, while we have the health to do it. . . 

Blue Peter drops anti-meat message after farmer’s beef with BBC – Ben Webster:

The BBC has dropped an anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after it drew a furious response from farmers.

The children’s programme offered the green badges, similar to the traditional blue ones, for youngsters who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to “go meat-free”, switch off lights or stop using plastic bottles.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a father of three who runs a 2,000-acre farm in north Wales, last week condemned what he described as a “sweeping statement” that overlooked the lower environmental impact of grass-fed British beef and lamb. . . 


Rural round-up

11/10/2020

Meat processing and exporting jobs in jeopardy unless specialist migrants are allowed to remain :

New Zealand’s meat processing and exporting sector faces being forced to limit production and let people go unless the Government recognises the essential role of its skilled migrant workforce.

Around a third of the country’s 250 essential halal processing workers, who help generate more than $3 billion in export earnings every year, will have to leave New Zealand next year due to the Government’s one-year stand-down policy.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA), said the loss of halal processing people — alongside hundreds of other essential meat workers — could result in reduced production and job losses in the sector, which is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Most of the 42 halal processing plants in New Zealand now operate between 10-12 months per year. A shortage of skilled halal processing people could result in production at many plants being limited to six months in the year, which would mean processing of livestock for farmers is severely disrupted and employees might be let go. . . 

Breeding beef to reduce N leaching :

Ben and Yvonne Lee weren’t born into farming but have taken it up with vigour.

They run Bluestone Herefords, 30 minutes inland from Timaru, on 600ha of tussock and rolling foothills, ranging from 300-550 metres altitude. The South Canterbury farm will mate about 300 cows this season. 

Yvonne, once a police officer, manages the farm day-to-day while Ben, formerly a lawyer, runs an animal health firm in Timaru. As stud owners, their cattle genetics are based squarely on client demand, typified by a growing call for cattle with low nitrogen output. . . 

Dairy data should delight Covid recovery monitors while discouraging industry detractors – Point of Order:

Farmers  are   back in the  frame  as  the  backbone  of  NZ’s  export economy,  after the  Covid-induced collapse of  the foreign  exchange earning capacity  of the  tourist  and international education industries.  But  it  is not  only  the  rural  industries themselves which  are  scrutinising bulletins  on  the  prices  being  earned  abroad  for  commodities.  Those data have  become a  vital  item  for  New Zealanders eager  to  monitor the recovery of an economy  battered  by a  one-in -100  year  event.

This  week  the  ANZ  reported  its  world commodity  price  index   had  eased  0.2%  in September as lower dairy and meat prices were largely offset by stronger prices for logs and fruit.

In local currency terms the index fell 1.3% as the NZ$ strengthened by 0.6% on a trade weighted index  basis during  the  month.

Hard on the heels  of those figures came   the  results   of  the latest  Fonterra  global  dairy   trade auction  where  the   average  price   strengthened  to  $US3143  a  tonne  and  wholemilk  powder (which  plays a  significant  role  on  Fonterra’s payout to  suppliers)  rose  1.7%  to  $3041  a  tonne. . . 

Clinton Young Farmer wins Otago contest – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Otago district skills final for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition was contested at Gimmberburn on Saturday.

Organised by the Maniototo Young Farmers Club, the competition attracted 10 entrants who completed 10 modules and later a quiz round.

The winner was George Blyth, of Clinton, with Josh Johanson, of Ida Valley, second, Adam Callaghan, of St Bathans, third and Matt Sullivan, of Oturehua, was fourth.

Club chairman Josh Harrex said the top four would go forward to compete in the regional final in Southland in March. . . 

Primary Industries NZ Awards finalists named:

Judges faced tough decisions choosing finalists for the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards, with no shortage of contenders.

The six independent judges deliberated over 40 nominations across the six award categories for the second annual PINZ awards, which are to be held at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington on November 23.

“More than ever New Zealand needs the primary sector to be innovative and enterprising,” Federated Farmers Chief Executive Terry Copeland says. 

“For our farmers, growers, foresters and fishers to continue to be at the top of their game as producers of quality goods exported to the world, we need suppliers and support agencies of the calibre of these finalists who can help us with cutting-edge technology and back-up.”

The finalists are: . . 

Piper in the paddock – Toni Williams:

The skirl of the pipes can be heard among the cows in Lagmhor as dairy farmer Joseph Williams plays a warm-up tune to his captive audience.

The cows are unfazed and continue grazing.

Mr Williams learned to play the bagpipes during his primary school years in his homeland of Scotland and, since relocating to New Zealand for work opportunities, has taken up with the Ashburton Pipe Band.

“There is a strong music culture at school,” he said, and the bagpipes were taken up in primary and secondary school, first learning finger movements on a practice chanter (similar to a recorder) before advancing to the bagpipes.

Mr Williams admits he wasn’t as committed to the bagpipes as he should have been through his teenage years and then flatting while at university in Aberdeen, Scotland. . . 


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