Rural round-up

October 15, 2018

Big changes coming – Neal Wallace:

Farming will change fundamentally if new freshwater quality management rules restricting intensive winter grazing and fertiliser use are introduced.

The Government last week released Essential Freshwater: Healthy water, fairly allocated, a report on how to improve freshwater quality within five years.

While it lacked detail the Government singled out winter grazing, hill country cropping, feedlots and nutrient use as causes of degraded water quality that will be a focus. . .

No rural-urban divide found here – Neal Wallace:

Anna Jones never forgot her rural roots when a career in journalism took her to live in some of England’s largest cities. Having experienced life on both sides of the fence she realised she had to do something about the role of the media in the urban-rural disconnect. She told Neal Wallace there are faults on both sides.

ANNA Jones concedes alcohol was involved in a game she created called Farmer Jargon Bingo, played with friends one evening in the English city of Bristol.

A simple concept, it required her urban friends to provide their definition of commonly used farming terms which the farmer’s daughter, journalist and Nuffield scholar duly recorded. . .

 

Move around world never regretted – Sally Rae:

Harry might have met Sally but when Rory met Frank, it was to lead to a move to the other side of the world.

Irish-born Dr Rory O’Brien is research manager at DRL Ltd, based at Invermay’s Agricultural Research Centre. Originally known as Deer Research Laboratory, it was established by Prof Frank Griffin in 1985 within the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago.

It has worked closely with veterinarians and farmers for more than 30 years to develop and make available custom-diagnostic services. . . 

Moo beat music for process manager – Sally Rae:

Working in a shiny new $240 million nutritional formula plant is a far cry from a dream of being a musician.

But Nathan McRae, process manager at Mataura Valley Milk on the outskirts of Gore, has no regrets about eventually choosing a career in the dairy industry.

His interest was sparked in Europe during a year-long OE with his wife. He decided he wanted to take the opportunity the industry offered and pursued that interest when he returned to the South.

Gore-born-and-bred, Mr McRae has lived in the Eastern Southland town all his life, with the exception of his OE. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2018/19 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual for the 2018/19 dairy season.

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s 2018/19 Manual remains largely consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The Commission has no concerns with Fonterra’s amendments to the Manual this year. However, the treatment of farmer support and the capacity of standard plants remain aspects of the manual that would benefit from revisions to improve consistency with the purpose of the regime and clarity, respectively. . . 

Hill country landscapes focus of five-year project:

Hill country landscapes are the subject of a comprehensive research project which focuses on growing diverse pastures to sustainably lift productivity and profitability, and benefit rural communities.

The five-year project, which is a collaboration between Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment, PGG Wrightson, Seed Force and the Federation for Maori Authorities, will be looking at legumes and forage options for hill country, matching land use with land use capability, developing pasture management guidelines and building strong rural communities.

B+LNZ ‘s Research Manager Tanya Robinson says field work, led by Professor Derrick Moot from Lincoln University, has already started with plot trials evaluating a number of legumes and forages. . .

A sheep that stole the A and P show:

An enterprising sheep stole some of the limelight at the Ellesmere A and P Show on Saturday, gatecrashing a ribbon ceremony and masquerading as an alpaca after escaping from a pen at the shearing shed.

The cunning plan came unstuck when there weren’t enough ribbons to go around, leaving the opportunist ovine without so much as a stitch of silk to wear, with barely anywhere to hide and looking decidedly sheepish as it stood beside the beribboned alpaca section winners with their owners in the main oval. . . 

Low emission cows: farming responds to climate warning – Jonathan Watts:

From low-emission cows to robotic soil management, the farming industry will have to explore new approaches in the wake of a UN warning that the world needs to cut meat consumption or face worsening climate chaos.

That was the message from Guy Smith, vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), this week as policymakers began to discuss how Britain can address the challenges posed by the recent global warming report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Farming and land use are set to move to a more central position in the climate debate in the wake of that report, which urged countries to widen their emissions-cutting efforts beyond the energy industry to agriculture and transport. . .

 


Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.

 


Rural round-up

November 14, 2017

Landpro director gets time away – Sally Rae:

Otago’s Solis Norton and Kate Scott were recently named among the latest crop of Nuffield scholars. They talk to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about their work and the adventure that lies ahead.

Kate Scott quips that Landpro — the Central Otago-based planning and surveying company she jointly founded a decade ago — is “taking over the world, one small regional town at a time”.

From a staff of one to about 30 now, the business expanded  incrementally as its reputation grew, with more people and disciplines added, and there were long-term goals to maintain that growth.

An office was established in Cromwell 10 years ago and there were now also offices in Gore and New Plymouth. . . 

Passionate about energy – Sally Rae:

“It will be an adventure.”

So says Solis Norton, of Port Chalmers, who has been named a 2018 Nuffield scholar, along with Simon Cook (Te Puke), Andy Elliot (Nelson), Turi McFarlane (Banks Peninsula) and Kate Scott (Central Otago).

He expected it would be a  very busy time but  was looking forward to making the most of the opportunity.

Dr Norton grew up in Dunedin’s Northeast Valley and went to Massey University, where he completed a bachelor in agricultural science degree in 1996, a masters degree in applied science and then a PhD in the epidemiology of Johne’s disease in New Zealand dairy herds. . . 

North Island leaders up for Australasian agri-business award:

Three diverse and inspirational young agribusiness leaders have been selected from across Australasia as finalists for the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.
The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour for the industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

Lisa Kendall, 25, hails from Auckland, and is owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd, a business she established to provide agricultural services to people in and around her home city. She was a Grand Finalist in the 2017 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, and took out the People’s Choice Award, the AgriGrowth Challenge and the Community Footprint Award. Kendall plays an active role in schools, encouraging urban students to consider the career opportunities in agriculture. She is also vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club. . . 

Joint efforts on water quality – Rebecca Nadge:

The Otago Regional Council is working with Central Otago farmers in a bid to monitor and improve water quality in the area.

At a meeting in Omakau last week, local farmers discussed the strategy with ORC environmental resource scientist Rachel Ozanne and environmental officer Melanie Heather.

The plan involves ongoing testing of water at Thompson’s Creek in a cross-section of three tributaries, as well as regular monitoring in Waipiata and Bannockburn.
Ms Ozanne said the project would continue until May, with testing carried out on a fortnightly basis. . . 

Strong interest shown for Future Farm programme:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s search for a “Future Farm” is in its final stages and farmers are being urged to get in touch if they’re interested in being part of this unique programme.

B+LNZ is seeking to lease a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 stock units for the Future Farm, which will trial new technologies and farm systems. . .

TPP agreement safeguards New Zealand’s export sector:

Federated Farmers congratulates Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition government for recognising the importance of free trade to New Zealand.

Following a frenetic few days of negotiations at the APEC summit in Vietnam, the New Zealand Trade delegation has succeeded in brokering agreement with 11 countries from the Asia-Pacific region- to move the deal forward.

Federated Farmers thanks all the Ministers and officials involved for their dedication and resolve. . . 

CPTPP important to maintain competitiveness:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the progress made towards realisation of a TPP agreement (now referred to as CPTPP).

“Timely implementation of the CPTPP market access arrangements is necessary to ensure New Zealand exporters do not end up at a tariff disadvantage into one of our largest dairy markets” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther

The trade dynamic for dairy in the trans-pacific region has evolved in recent months with the European Union and Japan concluding negotiation of an FTA agreement which delivers market access gains to European dairy exporters similar to those agreed for New Zealand under TPP.  . . 

Cultivate With Care After Big Wet – Bala Tikkisetty

Following the wettest winter on record, farmers are currently cultivating their paddocks for pasture or crop rotation.

As they do so, it’s important to be aware of and manage the associated environmental risks.

Sediment and nutrients from farming operations, along with erosion generally, are some of the most important causes of reduced water quality and cultivation increases the potential for problems. . . 

Argentina is saying hello to the world again – Pedro

We’re saying hello to the world again.

That’s the simplest way to understand last month’s elections in Argentina, in which the party of reform-minded President Mauricio Macri made important legislative gains, picking up seats in both chambers of our Congress.

 

As a farmer in Argentina, I’m pleased by this political victory—but I’m even more encouraged by what it means for my country’s general direction.

For too long, we’ve faced inward rather than outward. Although Argentina grows a huge amount of food and depends on global trade for its prosperity, we have behaved as if none of this mattered. The previous government slapped huge export taxes on farm products and didn’t consider the consequences. We stepped away from the world market.

This wasn’t my decision, but rather the decision of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the head of the Peronist Party. When she took office a decade ago, export taxes were already high—and she worked to raise them even more.

The American President Ronald Reagan once made a wise observation: “If you want less of something, tax it.” . .

Vietnamese farmers flourish in the Northern Territory to become Top End’s top growers – Kirsty O’Brien:

Michael Quatch arrived in Australia as a refugee of the Vietnam War. Now he is one of the most successful growers in the Northern Territory.

During picking season, work starts well before sunrise and does not end, but Mr Quatch is not complaining — he snags a few hours of rest here and there as he works hard to get the fresh produce from his farm at Lake Bennet in the Top End onto supermarket shelves.

The 45-year-old is the biggest hydroponic farmer in the Northern Territory, running 16 hectares of shaded cropping mainly producing tomatoes and cucumbers.

But Mr Quatch had to overcome obstacles difficult to fathom when you first meet this jovial, optimistic farmer. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 9, 2017

The big deluge: Fresh weather warnings as slips affect Coromandel homes, close roads, power off:

Fresh dire weather warnings have been issued as slips force people out of Coromandel properties and roads remain closed across sodden parts of the North Island.

As water recedes and slips are cleared off roads from yesterday’s massive one-in-a-100-year deluge, Northland is being told to be on watch for potentially damaging thunderstorms to hit mainly south of Kaitaia as the region comes in for a period of torrential rain. . .

Lange, manager get access awards – Guy Williams:

The men responsible for opening up public access to high country land between Arrowtown and Glendhu Bay have been recognised by the Walking Access Commission.

Switzerland-based record producer Robert ”Mutt” Lange and his Arrowtown-based manager, Russell Hamilton, received Walking Access Champion awards at a ceremony at Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Hamilton, who accepted the famously publicity-shy Mr Lange’s award on his behalf, said it was ”very nice” to be recognised..

How I beat the black dog within myself –  Jon Morgan:

The latest person to come out and admit they have had problems with depression is a young Methven farmer, Sam Robinson.

Writing on NZ Farming’s Facebook page, he spoke movingly about how bleak it can be to feel so down that you want to kill yourself.

He acknowledged that it is difficult for those who have no experience of mental illness to recognise the signs and be supportive.

He had one suggestion for what they could do – just to say to their mate next time they are in a social situation something like, “I think you are a good sort and I bloody like you“. . .

Cattle lost in fire: it’s horrible out there, the things I saw – Michael Pearce:

Larry Konrade of Ashland likes hunting everything from doves to huge whitetail bucks.

But when he left his house Tuesday morning with a favored rifle, he was dreading the day. He felt even worse when it was over.

“It’s horrible, just horrible. I left the house with (60) shells and used them all,” Konrade said. He said he probably killed 40 cows, “and in a lot of places there weren’t even very many left alive to put down.” . .

Nuffield scholars identify challenges for NZ – Richard Rennie:

Last year’s Nuffield Scholars are uneasy at competing countries’ ability to match or outpace New Zealand agriculture.

In a summary of their experiences the unbalanced rhetoric around emerging technologies was also noted.

Wellington based government agricultural development manager Jessica Bensemann reported her concern over New Zealand agriculture’s level of disconnectedness from global trading trends and patterns after visiting Asia, United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Instead she warned New Zealand’s primary sector appeared to be transfixed within the farm gate. . .

Rugged rural fellas wanted:

The call has gone out for young, gallant rural gents to compete for this year’s New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays’ Rural Bachelor of the Year.

Eight finalists will be selected for the popular competition, which takes place during Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre from June 14-17.

The competition is in its seventh year and entries close at the end of March. . .


Rural round-up

June 10, 2016

Synlait forecast milk price $4.50 kgMS next season:

Synlait Milk’s forecast milk price for the 2016 / 2017 season is $4.50 kgMS and will carry a higher than usual advance rate for milk suppliers.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the prospect of another tough season will be slightly offset for Synlait suppliers as they’ll start the season in a stronger cash flow position than they were expecting.

“Cash flow is really important at this time of year and we’ve prioritised a significantly higher advance rate for our milk suppliers’ benefit,” said Mr Milne. . . 

One more step to Open:

It’s a long way from Whangamomona to Somerset, but distance has been no barrier for Taranaki shearer Darren Alexander.

Alexander has celebrated his first trip to England by winning a title at one of England’s major shows.

The 22-year-old shearer, who graduated from Lincoln College in Canterbury with a B.Sc last year, won the senior final at the British Golden Shears, during last week’s Royal Bath and West Show at Shepton Mallet in the southwest of England. . . 

2016 Sheep Industry Awards Finalists Announced:

Finalists in the 2016 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards have been announced.

The awards are now in their fifth year and Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Sam McIvor said they were a great way to celebrate the New Zealand sheep industry and the farmers who produce the best sheep meat in the world.

“It’s right that we acknowledge the top performers and showcase our industry, which is a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy.

“These businesses and individuals can rightly take their place as outstanding performers on both the domestic and international business stage,” McIvor said. . . .

Environment Showcase Celebrates Best Of Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture:

Supreme winners from the eleven regions participating in the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards will be honoured at New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in June.

Celebrating environmental excellence and culminating with the naming of the National Winner of the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), the annual Sustainability Showcase is regarded as a premier event on the farming calendar.

This year’s Showcase is being held in Northland where the next recipient of the Gordon Stephenson trophy will be announced at a special gala dinner on June 22 at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, Bay of Islands. . . 

More funding for the New Zealand cycle trail:

The Government is investing more than $1.2 million in seven new projects for the upkeep and maintenance of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key announced today.

The investment comes from the fourth round of the Maintaining the Quality of the Great Rides Fund and priority has been given to proposals that aim to improve safety and quality of the Great Rides – the premier rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

“The Great Rides are used by thousands of people every day and have provided a significant boost to New Zealand tourism,” Mr Key says. “This funding will help ensure visitors can continue soaking up New Zealand’s beautiful scenery in a safe and enjoyable way. . . 

Nuffield scholar looking to Merino for returns

The sheep meat and wool industry is Victoria’s third largest agricultural industry by value, but 2014 Nuffield Scholar Tim Gubbins believes the future of this important industry could be even brighter with a greater focus on reproductive potential.

The Darlington farm manager is responsible for a sheep flock consisting of 10,000 composite ewes.

The operation also includes a winter grazed area of approximately 2,100 hectares, as well as an annual cropping program of around 600 hectares. . .

Seawater tomatoes set new farming benchmark – Andrew Marshall:

A landmark $100 million-plus greenhouse complex capable of producing 16,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually from solar power-filtered seawater officially opens in arid South Australia in October.

The much-anticipated 20-hectare Sundrop Farms development near Port Augusta will be the world’s biggest “seawater greenhouse”.

It is also the latest of about seven big scale hydroponic greenhouse developments to have sprouted in Australia in less than a decade. . . 


Alistair Polson dies aged 58

June 6, 2014

Agriculture envoy and former Federated Farmers president Alistair Polson has died.

“Alistair was a great farmer and a truly great New Zealander who has been taken from us way too soon,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Bo and their family. 

“Bo and Alistair formed the most amazing and loving partnership and while Alistair was called overseas as Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, she kept the farm and family running.

“Where do you start with someone who gave so unstintingly of himself?  It is telling that despite Bo and Alistair’s home being inundated by the 2004 floods they put community before self.

“Alistair has been an office holder at most levels of Federated Farmers of New Zealand, serving as Wanganui provincial president and later National President between 1999 and 2002.

“Alistair has also served as a director of both the Waitotara Meat Company, PPCS (now Silver Fern Farms) and the Agriculture Industry Training Organisation. He has also served on the New Zealand Veterinary Council and the then National Animal Welfare Advisory Board.

“With a strong environmental ethos Alistair chaired the NZ Landcare Trust for seven years and in 2012, he became chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Awards Trust. 

“Chairing the New Zealand Farm Environment Awards Trust was something I know Alistair was deeply proud of.  It assured him the next generation of farmers cared for the land every bit as much as he did.

“Alistair himself won the Grasslands Memorial Trust Award for sustained improvement of pastures and sheep breeds in Wanganui hill country.  He was a past Nuffield Scholar and would later chair the New Zealand Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust too.

“In 2004 he was appointed New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy by the Hon Phil Goff and continued in that role to 2013 under the Hon Tim Groser.

“In Argentina, for the World Farmers Organisation earlier this year, South American delegates mentioned Alistair’s name with reverence.  He was a noble man of true mana who gave his all for New Zealand.

“Alistair was a giant and his loss touches us all greatly,” Mr Wills concluded.

The Farm Environment Trust also pays tribute:

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust has lost a truly inspirational leader.

Alistair Polson died on Thursday, June 5, following a short illness.

The well-known Wanganui farmer was a highly respected member of the farming community. He had extensive experience in business management and farming politics, serving as national president of Federated Farmers from 1999 to 2002. In 2004 he was appointed Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for New Zealand, and in 2012 he was elected chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE).

NZFE acting chairman Simon Saunders says Mr Polson will be greatly missed by the Trust and by the wider farming community and he extends his sincere sympathy to Bo Polson and their children, Nick, Guy and Sarah.

“They have shared Alistair with so many and the loss of such a wonderful husband and father will be devastating, their family plans and dreams for the future have been so sadly taken from them.”

“Alistair made a massive contribution to New Zealand agriculture and he was a passionate and inspirational advocate for New Zealand farming. The Trust and New Zealand agriculture in general have lost a valued leader and a great friend.”

Mr Polson took over the chairmanship of NZFE in October 2012.

Prior to joining the Trust he was a member of the judging panel for the National Winner award in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. He was a key supporter of the concept that good environmental practice and profitable farming go hand in hand.

“Alistair jumped straight into the role of chairman and he led the organisation with considerable professionalism and a huge amount of enthusiasm,” Mr Saunders says.

“He quickly grasped what the Trust was all about and his proven leadership ability was a great asset for the Trust and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Mr Saunders says Mr Polson had a huge amount of passion for agriculture and a warm and approachable personality.

“Alistair loved nothing more than to be able to discuss and promote all the great attributes of our agricultural industry”

Mr Polson’s achievements in agriculture were extensive. He was a former director or committee member of a number of rural-based organisations, including AgITO, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Veterinary Council of New Zealand and NZ Landcare Trust.

An agricultural science graduate from Massey University and a Nuffield Scholar, he also held company directorships with two major meat companies.

Mr Polson farmed in the Mangamahu Valley, near Wanganui.

“The wheel has turned completely since the days when the hero in the valley was the farmer who chopped down as much bush and scrub as possible. Now the heroes are the farmers who are retiring native bush, fencing waterways and planting trees for shade, shelter and erosion control.” – Alistair Polson.

Farming and New Zealand are the richer from his contributions and the poorer for his too-early death.


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