Rural round-up

06/10/2021

Keeping sheep out of the sunset – Paul Burt:

With more than 30 years of sheep farming behind him, Paul Burt hopes to see a halt in the decline of the industry.

When you stick at something long enough you witness a world of change. In 1988 farms were relatively cheap (ridiculously so in hindsight) but with interest rates at 20% my brother and I didn’t have enough capital to make the risk worth taking. 

Lamb prices were depressed but we saw an opportunity in a big lease block and tendered for it on the basis of an all-wool, low-input policy. Shearing costs were 10% of the value of a full fleece. We made the shortlist but eventually missed out. The ROR was potentially very good but it’s crystal ball gazing to guess where a successful bid might have taken us.

It wasn’t too many years after that I attended a presentation about the economic potential for keratin powder made by reducing wool fibre to it’s base components. It was a surprise to see in last weeks’ press, the process being reclaimed as a breakthrough.  . . 

North Otago farmer positive about region – Sally Rae:

North Otago Sustainable Land Management’s long-serving chairman Peter Mitchell recently stood down from the position. He talks to rural editor Sally Rae about why he is so passionate about farming in the district.

For 150 years, North Otago has provided opportunities for the Mitchell family with their farming business.

The current generation actively farming Rosedale, near Weston, are Peter and Sandra Mitchell, who were joined several years ago by Henry, one of their two sixth-generation sons.

“We’ve had a wonderful run really when you look back on it, on the farming side of things, a lot of family involvement,” Peter Mitchell said. . . 

Finding the winners – Rebecca Greaves:

Analysing data to find the winners, whether it’s selecting sires or identifying trends, appeals to Emma Pettigrew’s competitive side.

She’s relishing her new role as research and development manager at Wairarapa sheep stud, Wairere, where she has been working since October last year.

Her role is primarily data analysis and administration, but she can be called on to help out on farm at busy times, which suits her just fine.

Stud breeding has always been part of life for Emma, 28, who grew up on farms in the Pohangina Valley and Kimbolton, in the Manawatu. . .

From honeymoon to dairy farming – Valu Maka:

Dairy Women’s Network member Lauren Badcock traded a career in law for greener pastures.

Alongside husband Ollie, the pair moved to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 2018.

‘‘We gave up our jobs in the UK and came to New Zealand for our honeymoon and we didn’t go back home.

‘‘I got a job with Ollie on the farm and I haven’t really looked back.’’ . . 

Connected Farms New Zealand launch innovative ZOLEO device to address lone-worker safety concerns :

Connected Farms New Zealand Launch Innovative ZOLEO Device to Address Lone-Worker Safety Concerns.

In 2020, there were 22,796 farm-related injury claims accepted by ACC. That’s over 60 incidents a day, taking a huge toll on farms, families, and the rural community whenever a farm worker is hurt on the job. Today, Connected Farms New Zealand is launching ZOLEO Satellite Communicator, a farm safety device designed to transform the way rural communities approach on-farm connectivity and safety. Now, tens of thousands of NZ farmers across all farm types can remain accessible, connected, and safe regardless of how isolated they are, with the ZOLEO device.

Operating on the Iridium network, ZOLEO Satellite Communicator facilitates 2-way communication from anywhere including the highest, remotest high-country station. This multi-award winning product is easy and intuitive to use with a familiar messaging experience when integrated with smartphones, improving remote communications simply and effectively. This allows farmers and lone-workers to check-in to let others know they’re ok, or get help quickly and easily, even outside of mobile phone range. . .

Entries open for refreshed NZDIA programme:

Entries are now open and excitement is high for the refreshed 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) programme, which gives New Zealand dairy farmers the opportunity to challenge themselves, earn a regional or national title and to share in substantial regional and national prize pools.

All three categories have been refreshed and revamped, after months of consultation, feedback and discussion.

Entries can be made via www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz with full details of the changes available there also.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon says it’s very important that the Awards programme remains relevant and that issues raised in feedback were addressed. . . 

 


Rural round-up

26/08/2021

Why the rush? – Barbara Kuriger:

The pace of regulatory change for rural communities has been relentless under the current government.

It’s the concern I hear most when I move among them around the country and speak with rural advocacy groups.

It’s the reason why Groundswell NZ founders, Otago farmers Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson organised a tractor protest in Gore against the National Policy Statement on Freshwater in November. The group’s overwhelming national support since then led to the Howl of a Protest’ on July 16.

Agricultural, horticultural communities aren’t the types to jump up and down, so when they take to the streets in their thousands, you can bet there’s a reason. . .

Why NZ farmers should hope for positive results from research into the methane effects of lacing stock feed with seaweed – Point of Order:

A warning  bell  sounded  for  New Zealand farmers  when The Economist – in an editorial  last week headed “It  is  not  all  about  the  CO2” – argued  that carbon  dioxide is by far the most important   driver of  climate  change, but methane  matters  too.

The  final  sentence of  the  editorial reads,  ominously:

“Methane  should be  given priority on the  COP26 climate  summit  this  November”.

NZ may  fight  its  corner   vigorously   at the   Glasgow  summit,  but  the   risk is  that  delegates  there   will  seize  on  the  thesis  advanced  by The Economist    that   methane is  a more  powerful  greenhouse  gas  than  carbon   dioxide,  and  decide  to  target  it harshly. . . 

UK releases NZ free trade negotiation details as agreement nears :

The UK government has released more details of how negotiations have been progressing.

Tariffs on exports of honey and apples to the UK would be slashed and wine which faces tariffs of up to 20 pence per bottle would also be expected to be cut.

In return tariffs on British gin, chocolate, clothing and cars we import would be dropped.

Britain trade secretary Liz Truss said teams were working around the clock to get the deal done in the coming weeks.

“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive,” Truss said. . . 

Carbon farmers need to understand the ETS – Keith Woodford:

The price of carbon is determined by Government. There lies the risk for carbon farming. 

Two recent articles of mine have explored the economics of carbon farming on land that is currently farmed for sheep and beef.  Those articles showed that, if financial returns are what matters, then at current carbon prices the development of permanent forests for carbon credits provides significantly higher returns than sheep and beef.

My focus there was on the close to three million hectares of North Island farmed hill country, but a similar situation exists in considerable parts of the South Island. One big exception is the Canterbury Plains, where history shows that shallow soils plus norwest wind storms wreak periodic havoc to forestry operations.

Those findings on the apparent economics of forestry lead to a series of other questions. First, how reliable is this carbon market? Second, what are all the other important things apart from simple economics that need to be considered? . .

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2021:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) has announced the winners of its prestigious 2021 awards. In what has been an exceptionally volatile year for many, the forestry sector remains a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President James Treadwell says the industry is working hard to benefit Aotearoa / New Zealand and New Zealanders, not only with significant returns to GDP but also to offer social benefits including carbon capture, recreation opportunities, clean water, biodiversity and general wellbeing. “We’re fortunate with our high-calibre industry professionals who set the standards for others to aspire to. The NZIF relishes the opportunity to celebrate with ‘the best of the best’ and to proudly champion the recipients of NZIF’s awards.”

This year’s recipient was acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level to high level policy planning and execution and academic leadership.

The NZ Forester of the Year award, which was presented in Wairarapa on Monday night by Minister Nash (Minister of Forestry) went to Paul Millen. . .

Sponsor support continues for Dairy Industry Awards:

Entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) open October 1st with planning well underway and National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm DeLaval have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years. “It’s a significant commitment and we’re rapt to have world leaders in milking equipment and solutions for dairy farmers as part of our national sponsor family.” . .

 


Rural round-up

16/07/2021

Anyone listening? – Rural News:

The country’s farmers are feeling disregarded, discontented, disrespected and disgruntled.

On July 16, in more than 40 towns and cities (at the time of writing) around NZ, farmers will descend on to their main streets in their utes and tractors to express their utter exasperation with government, bureaucrats, mainstream media – even their own sector leadership.

This farmer angst has been building for more than a year, so the aptly-named Groundswell protests could well be the biggest show of farmer discontent in this country since the protests held at the height of the economic reforms of the 1980s.

How has it come to this? One would have thought that with record dairy prices, a strong red meat outlook and a booming horticulture sector, those on the land would be happy. However, that is far from the case. . .

Farmers to protest at ‘ill thought out’ government policies :

A farmer group is planning a protest at what it describes as unworkable government regulations and interference in farmers’ lives.

Groundswell NZ is organising ‘A Howl of a Protest’ in 47 towns and cities on Friday.

Co-founder Laurie Paterson said the “ute tax” was the issue people pointed the finger at, but farmers were also unhappy with the bureaucratic approach to the national policy statement for fresh water management.

Paterson said he had been involved in a catchment group which helped clean up the the Pomahaka River in Otago. “Eight years ago that was the worst river in Otago for quality and now, because the local people have bought into it, set up their own catchment group, all the things are in the green. . . 

Hundreds expected to roll into Timaru and Oamaru in protest – Chris Tobin & Yashas Srinivasa:

Organisers of the South Canterbury part of a nationwide protest on Friday are unsure how many vehicles to expect, but based on the interest registered – it is expected to run into the hundreds.

The protest, organised by rural pressure group Groundswell NZ, is in response to the impact of Government rules and proposed regulations, including the new Clean Car Discount Scheme, which will levy penalties on high-emission utes from January 2022.

Those organising the South Canterbury protest have divided participants into five groups – which will then travel in convoy towards Caroline Bay.

Meeting points have been arranged at five locations in Timaru, Temuka and Washdyke, which means they will be travelling on State Highway 1 into Caroline Bay. . . 

‘Enough is enough’: Canterbury’s rural mayors lend support to rural protest – Nadine Porter:

Mayors, tradies and business owners are set to join farmers in their thousands in what could be the largest mass rural protest in New Zealand’s history.

With more than 1000 farmers indicating they would bring their tractors into Christchurch’s Cathedral Square on Friday, Banks Peninsula farmer Aaron Stark had to take action.

“It was getting too big for our liking.”

Stark has been co-ordinating the Christchurch “Howl of a Protest” on behalf of Groundswell NZ against increasing Government interference in people’s life and business, unworkable regulations and unjustified costs. . . 

Farmers gearing up to descend on New Plymouth for Taranaki’s ‘howl of protest’ – Brianna Mcilraith:

A man who’s been part of the rural community his entire life has organised Taranaki’s leg of a nationwide protest against a raft of new regulations seen as a threat to the country’s farming future.

“The ute tax is the straw that’s broke the camel’s back,” Kevin Moratti said of recently announced regulations making lower-carbon-emitting cars more affordable for New Zealanders, while putting a fee on higher-emission vehicles such as utes.

“We just need the whole community to realise what’s happening to us,” he said.

“I’ve had to calm so many people down. There’s a lot of feeling out there, enough is enough.” . . 

“Get the shingle out” say Ashburton’s flood-hit farmers – Adam Burns:

Get the shingle out of the river, then come back with more money.

This was the bottom line for the flood-wrecked farmers of Ashburton’s Greenstreet area at the first of three community meetings held this week.

The region’s flood protection infrastructure, and funding were some of the main topics covered off during the 90 minute session at the Greenstreet community hall in a meeting attended by nearly 80 people.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) rivers manager Leigh Griffiths told attendees that there remained “some risk with the river”.

One woman, who was facing more than a year out of her home due to flood damage, told speakers of how disappointed she was around how the river was going to be managed moving forward. . .

Evolving NZ Dairy industry sparks changes to dairy trainee category:

The New Zealand dairy industry is constantly evolving and with this in mind, exciting changes to the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards programme have been announced.

The age range for the Dairy Trainee category is now 18 years to 30 years with a maximum of three years’ experience from the age of 18, and the online entry form has been simplified.

Additional conditions for visa entrants have been removed with no minimum length of time in New Zealand required.

The modifications to the Dairy Trainee age range recognises that traditional pathways into the dairy industry have altered. . . 


Rural round-up

12/07/2021

Govt sends mixed signals on forest cap – Richard Rennie:

Putting a cap on exotic forest plantings is still an option on the table for the Government as it considers its response to the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations.

Last year in the lead up to the election, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor undertook to make resource consent a requirement for landowners seeking to convert over 50ha of higher-quality land into forestry.

The decision came amid mounting concern that greater areas of farmland were being lost to forestry, some to unharvested carbon forest plantings.

But Forestry Minister Stuart Nash signalled recently that the Government plans to back away from planting restrictions. . . 

Calls to diversify and integrate – Annette Scott:

New Zealand agriculture is missing the opportunity to diversify and integrate and come up with one good story.

Sectors are pushing their own barrows and not achieving maximum potential as an industry, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive Alison Stewart says.

Speaking at the Primary Industries New Zealand Summit, Stewart urged collaboration.

“We do not work in a cohesive world; when are we actually going to agree to come together?” she asked. . . 

Caution urged for dog owners as lambing season approaches:

SPCA is urging dog owners, particularly those living near lifestyle blocks, to take extra care and keep track of their pets at all times, as early lambing season gets underway.

Every year sheep and lambs are injured or killed by roaming dogs in attacks that are not only traumatic for animals and people involved, but are often completely avoidable through responsible dog ownership.

With 175,000 lifestyle blocks nationwide and rural properties continuing to grow in popularity, SPCA Scientific Officer Dr Alison Vaughan says it’s important for dog owners – particularly those living in rural areas – to make sure their dog is secured and unable to roam. . . 

Emma Boase named emerging leader at Primary Industry Awards:

Horticulture New Zealand People Capability Manager Emma Boase was among a stellar line-up of primary industry excellence at last night’s 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards in Christchurch.

Recognised as one of seven winners from a pool of 65 nominations, Emma took out the title of the Lincoln University Emerging Leaders Award for her efforts in attracting new talent into the horticulture sector.

The award is testament to Emma’s outstanding leadership and ongoing commitment to championing horticultural careers. . . 

Craig Muckle named Wheat Grower of the Year:

The champion wheat grower for 2021 is Craig Muckle.

Craig, who farms at Dorie in mid-Canterbury, was presented with the Champion Cup at the awards ceremony in Christchurch for winning the premium milling wheat award and also won the United Wheat Growers Bayer wheat grower of the year award with his wheat entry ‘Reliance’.

The judges said Craig’s entry’s quality specification was “bang on”. Craig was presented with the Champion Cup, by Garth Gilliam from Champion.

Craig was also the winner of the UWG Bayer wheat grower award. This award is to recognise excellence in the industry. . . 

Agronomist of the year award for what industry announced:

Kerry Thomas from Luisetti Seeds, was recognised as Agronomist of the Year in the United Wheat Growers Bayer Wheat Awards held in Christchurch on Wednesday 7 July.

The award was open to all industry professionals involved in seed and grain crop production.

The inaugural Agronomist of the Year Award, sponsored by the NZ Grain & Seed Trade Association, is designed to recognise an agronomist who has an endless knowledge of crop production and goes above and beyond to make sure the best possible crop is produced by growers said NZGSTA Grains & Pulses Chair Ed Luisetti. . . 

Sponsors sustain support for Dairy Industry Awards:

Planning for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continues at pace with National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm Meridian have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years along with a name change to the merit award. . . 


Rural round-up

18/05/2021

Broken election promise on carbon farming will hurt rural communities :

Federated Farmers has been checking the calendar – six months on from last year’s election and the government has broken an election promise to protect productive farmland.

Labour pledged if re-elected it would take less than six months to protect productive farmland from the rampant spread of large-scale exotic tree planting across the country.

“We were told they would revise the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to require forestry blocks intended to be larger than 50 hectares on elite soils, that means Land Use Capability Classes 1-5, to have to get a resource consent,” Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Award winners underline contribution of migrant workers – Feds:

Federated Farmers offers hearty congratulations to winners of its merit awards who went on to take national honours at the Dairy Industry Awards on Saturday.

Judges described Dairy Trainee of the Year Ruth Connolly, who won the Federated Farmers Farming Knowledge Award, as articulate, considered and concise; someone who “will lead by example and will bring people into the industry.”

2021 NZ Share Farmers of the Year Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj, who also took out the Federated Farmers Leadership Award, had immersed themselves in their community and industry, promoting Primary ITO courses to everyone and even offering up one of their buildings to ensure the training takes place.

“In this pandemic era, as we debate at national level the role of migrant workers and border security, the success and contribution to our primary industries of these newcomers to our shores is sometimes overlooked,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard said. . . 

Inquiry into the future of the workforce needs in the primary industries of New Zealand:

Parliament’s Primary Production Committee has initiated a select committee inquiry into the future of the workforce needs in the primary industries of New Zealand.

The aim of the inquiry is to look into issues about the future of the workforce needs in the growing food and fibre industries, and what that they will look like in the short, medium and long term future, as we continue to innovate and develop new technologies.

In the 52nd Parliament, the committee opened a briefing about vocational training in agriculture. The issues raised during the briefing will feed into the broader inquiry. . . 

 

Young Māori farmer award winner’s Covid-19 career change

A Whakatāne man forced to head back to New Zealand as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded has found a new career, and scooped a Young Māori Farmer Award.

Quinn Morgan, who is working his first season on a dairy farm was awarded this years Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award at a gala dinner in New Plymouth on Friday.

The award was set up in 2012 and is designed to recognise up and coming young Māori in the sheep beef, horticulture and dairy sectors.

The 26-year-old said it was unreal to receive the award. . . 

Jeff Bolstad Receives Inaugural Lifetime Contribution Award For Dedication To NZDIA:

A rural sector stalwart and mentor to many has been recognised for his contribution to the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards programme.

Jeff Bolstad, a Morrinsville farmer, was presented with a Lifetime Contribution Award by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trust Chair Natasha Tere, in recognition for his long service and contribution to the Dairy Industry Awards and wider agriculture sector.

“This is the first time this Award has been presented. It’s a prestigious honour that is awarded to an individual that has provided exceptional service to the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.”

“We have chosen Jeff as he has been a bonding strength behind our organisation. He is a quiet achiever who has guided and mentored many entrants over the years,” says Natasha. . . 

Farm surplus egg scheme provides food for struggling families :

A Cornish free range egg producer has explained how the adversity of the pandemic led to the creation of a scheme to provide hungry families with eggs.

A surplus of eggs had led St Ewe Free Range Egg to create a temporary scheme to provide food to struggling food banks in the South West of England.

CEO Rebecca Tonks has explained how this had developed into ongoing support for families who are finding it difficult to feeds themselves. . .


Rural round-up

15/05/2021

Why are we making life harder for farmers? – Mike Hosking:

The Fonterra capital changes announced last week have a story behind them.

It’s a complex business, and Andrew Kelleher explained them very well to us Friday, look it up if you missed it.

This is important because the farmer is gold to this country, Fonterra is our biggest business, and dairy and agriculture are saving us, given the other big game in town is closed.

Now, as Andrew put it, Fonterra have come to the conclusion they have reached peak milk. That doesn’t mean the world is over milk and dairy, because it isn’t. As the world grows, the middle class want good food, and that’s what we do.

So, Fonterra’s move means producing things in this country is getting harder. Between the rules and attitude of the government, making stuff is an uphill battle. . . 

The big dry: Drought hits farmers hard as winter looms – Kurt Bayer:

Up the brown hill where his grandfather lies, Stu Fraser’s epic view tells two stark tales.

Down on the flat of Amuri basin, the local irrigation scheme flaunts its lush rewards: emerald swathes of dairy land, crisscrossing the scenic North Canterbury landscape.

And down by the meandering Hurunui River, Fraser has some green strips too.

But up here on the steep hill country and rolling downs, where 5600 ewes scratch around and trot hopefully behind the red ATV, it’s a different story. . . 

Photographs spur journey from Argentina to Mid Canterbury farm – Toni Williams:

Maria Alvarez was drawn to New Zealand by photographs of a friend’s working holiday.

Those photographs started her on a journey from Argentina to working in the New Zealand dairy industry.

She arrived in New Zealand in 2013 and spent the first few years getting settled in.

“Everyday I get to see a sunrise. It’s beautiful,” she said last week from her home in Mid Canterbury. . . 

Sri Lankan dairy workers move up – Toni Williams:

Dairy farmers Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage are living the dream.

They are passionate share farmers on a 245ha Dairy Holdings farm at Ealing, milking 980 cows, and are finalists in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, Share Farmer of the Year category.

They won the final of the Canterbury-North Otago region and will find out this weekend how they fared. The national finals are in Hamilton on Saturday.

Dinuka and Nadeeka love being their own bosses and working with animals in the outside environment. . . 

Collaboration key to meat assurance programmes – Colin Williscroft:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers may be behind Ireland in their ability to measure farm-level carbon footprints but that is set to change, Beef + Lamb NZ general manager market development Nick Beeby says.

Beeby was responding to comments by Lincoln University agribusiness senior lecturer Dr Nic Lees who spent three months in Ireland looking at the Irish Origin Green programme, which claims to be the world’s first national level, third-party verified sustainability programme and brand for agriculture.

As part of the programme, farm-level carbon footprints and other sustainability measures have been available to Irish farmers since 2011.

Lees says in contrast, NZ is only beginning to implement a comprehensive farm-level carbon footprint measurement system. . . 

Safer farm equipment creates happy vets:

All good livestock farmers know the value of having a good relationships with their vets. And while vets expect to be on call to help with birthing issues, give vaccinations, or check any number of health concerns of farmers’ animals, a breach of safety could lead to vets fearing accepting such calls when they come in. Farmers should be aware, then, that if vets do not feel safe when administering their services, chances are, the farmers themselves may suffer in the long run as a result of high vet turnover or even possibly being sued for negligence.

It is imperative, therefore, to ensure the safety of all vets, along with all other farm workers, who attend to livestock. By ensuring high overall safety standards on farms, farmers are more likely to build robust relationships with those responsible for their animals’ wellbeing. Good relationships, in turn, could ensure higher profits due to trading in healthy stock, lower employee turnover, and the peace of mind that everyone on the farm – both people and animals – is happy and healthy. . . 


Rural round-up

31/03/2021

500 migrant staff needed to fill labour shortage – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ are requesting the Government allow 500 migrant dairy staff into New Zealand to avoid a worker shortage in the new milking season.

These staff would fill positions in the mid to high skilled employment category that New Zealanders new to the sector or in lower skilled dairy assistant roles would be unsuitable for in time for the 2021-22 season, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

The request comes after the two organisations commissioned a survey in March to gain a better understanding of the staffing issues facing dairy employers.

That survey drew 1150 responses in just one week. . . 

Money versus morals – Robert Carter:

The continued conversion of hill country farmland to forestry is a trend concerning Robert Carter.

The 50 Shades of Green has led a good informative campaign about the spread of pines onto good hill country farmland, however I too feel compelled to say something before I become relegated to the state of a ‘quaint curiosity’ folks will pay to visit to see how things used to be in the good old days.

I’m referring to the steady and seemingly unstoppable conversion of our hill country breeding farms to hectares of pine trees for carbon sequestration purposes.

Just recently another couple of local farms succumbed.

The carbon investors, buoyed by our government policy, which encourages conversion in this market, are buying properties as they come up for sale. . .

Guardians of the land – Fiona Terry:

Innovating to advance is something that runs in the blood of those at Caythorpe Family Estate in Marlborough. Fiona Terry spoke to the Bishell brothers managing the business they hope will thrive for many generations to come.

As fifth-generation guardians of the land first purchased by UK immigrant David Bishell, Simon and Scott Bishell are continuing a long-standing tradition of diversification and trend-bucking to future-proof.

Their great, great grandfather was a farm labourer who arrived in Nelson in 1876, with his wife Mary and three children. He leased some land to grow pumpkins, and following a successful crop, purchased 50ha west of Blenheim township in 1880.

Within two years, and despite the hard mahi converting the flax-covered swamp land into a productive area, he became the first farmer in the country to grow red clover as a seed crop, commissioning the build of an innovative thresher to harvest. . . 

Product check: how to find the good oil – Jacqueline Rowarth:

As the tsunami of mail arrives in the inbox, through rural delivery or the internet, there can be some confusion in sorting whether the products and suggestions will be useful or not. Are the fliers marketing or science? How do you know whether adoption will be positive – or whether not taking up the offer will mean you drop behind?

For people swimming in a flood of information and trying to find the good oil, consider asking the following questions:

Is there a time limit or quantity limit on the offer? Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) induces rash behaviour. The Auckland housing market makes the point…

What problem is the new thing solving? Do you actually have that problem? I was offered a product that would improve animal health on the farm. I replied that the farm owner is a vet. I was then told that the product would improve soil health. I replied that I am a soil scientist. At that point I was told that it would do other things as well…

Triple Whammy for 2021 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards:

The 2021 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year is no stranger to the programme, having won both the Farm Manager and Dairy Trainee categories in different regions previously.

John Wyatt won the 2009 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year category and was named the 2015 Manawatu Farm Manager of the Year.

On Saturday night, he completed the category trifecta by winning the 2021 Taranaki Share Farmer of the Year.

The region’s annual awards dinner was held at the TSB Hub in Hawera with Diego Raul Gomez Salinas named the 2021 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year and Sydney Porter the 2021 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners believe a good team with a can-do attitude is vital to the success of their business.

Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj were named the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards last night in Masterton. Other major winners were Leon McDonald, the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, and Tony Craig, the 2021 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The brothers are 50/50 sharemilkers on Andrew and Monika Arbuthnott, Geoff Arends and Ester Romp’s 285ha, 460-cow Eketahuna property. They won $7,882 in prizes and four merit awards.

Both Manoj and Sumit have entered the Awards previously, with Sumit placing third in the 2018 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager category. . . 


Rural round-up

29/03/2021

 Reduced foreign Labour in New Zealand fields failed experiment – Kate MacNamara:

It’s time to call New Zealand’s experiment in reduced foreign labour this harvest season a failure.

One of the country’s largest berry farmers has abandoned growing after a season of chronic labour shortage. Apple growers say they’re so shorthanded that exports will drop some 14 per cent this year, a loss of $95-$100 million. The grape harvest has come off with the help of more machinery, a tradeoff that’s likely to result in less premium wine. And growers estimate they’re still 1400 hires shy of the 4000 workers needed for grape cane pruning in Marlborough next month, the country’s most valuable wine region.

Perhaps the Government’s original idea sounded good in theory: redeploy the rump of seasonal foreign workers who remained stranded in New Zealand from the previous season, update working conditions for the few remaining backpackers, and make up the rest of the workforce from local Kiwis.

But if you add a few numbers, that calculation was always heroic. The need for seasonal hands through New Zealand’s harvest and pruning work approaches 40,000 in the peak summer and early autumn months. Before Covid, Immigration NZ anticipated that 14,500 Pacific workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and some 50,000 backpackers with working holiday visas would help to make up the labour force. But New Zealand’s closed border changed that. . . 

Orchard work shortage bites – Jared Morgan:

Some workers sent to Central Otago’s orchards and vineyards are not up to standard and the lack of seasonal workers from the Pacific is beginning to bite, an industry leader says.

Continuing labour shortages across both sectors have affected planning for key phases in production cycles such as picking and pruning.

This has led to calls for the Government to open quarantine-free travel bubbles to allow seasonal workers from Covid-free countries to plug labour gaps before it is too late, if not for this season then the next.

Pipfruit industry pioneer Con van der Voort, who operates a major packing facility in Ettrick, said the “come and go” nature of this season’s workforce was affecting orchardists not just in Central Otago but nationally. . . 

NZ’s potato chip industry threatened by cheap European imports – Sally Blundell:

The impact of Covid-19 on the potato chip industry in the Northern Hemisphere is putting locally grown and processed hot potato chips at the local chippie under threat.

The problem is that quiet streets and empty bars in Covid-ridden Europe have resulted in an estimated 1.7 million tonne surplus of raw potato material.

“People can’t go out, have a beer and buy some chips,” Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge told Frank Film in a recent interview. “That means there’s a big lump of frozen fries that’s got to go somewhere. Our economy’s working, they are sending it here – it is as simple as that.”

Claridge is looking for government action to protect New Zealand potato farmers from the influx of frozen fries grown and processed in Europe undercutting their locally grown equivalent. . . 

‘Milking cows is the easy part now’ – Sally Rae:

South Otago dairy farmers Scott and Ann Henderson were last week crowned Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners. They talk to Sally Rae about a career they say is not just about milking cows. 

She was from a sheep and beef farm in Scotland, he was a qualified carpenter from Balclutha.

Scott and Ann Henderson might not have grown up in the dairy farming industry, but the pair have made their mark on the sector, winning the 2021 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year title.

Industry recognition was not new for Mrs Henderson, who won the dairy manager of the year in the Southland-Otago awards in 2017, having finished runner-up the year before. . . 

Happy to be farming hops – Country Life:

Harvesting is the busiest time of the year for Holmdale Farm’s Cameron Ealam and his extended family.

They work from dawn to dusk picking, cleaning and drying several varieties of aromatic hop cones that grow on long leafy hop vines.

“The machine starts at seven each morning. We’re doing 12-hour days picking at the moment. The drying kiln will run through the night as well, so big days but (it’s) a short window to get a valuable crop in,” Cameron says.

On the floor behind the kilns are large piles of Motueka and Riwaka hop cones, waiting to be pressed and baled. . . 

Call for long-time enemies cotton and wool to join forces to push enviro credentials – Chris McLennan:

Long-time market enemies, the wool and cotton industries are looking to join forces globally to take on synthetic fibres.

Wool and cotton believe they both have the same eco-friendly credentials to challenge for better environmental ratings in Europe.

They want to form an alliance to champion the benefits of natural fibres as offering many solutions to the world’s current environmental challenges.

A wool industry leader entered uncharted waters when invited to speak to an international cotton conference in Bremen last week. . . 


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

21/03/2021

B+LNZ defend rules approach – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is defending its dealings with the Government in the face of farmers claiming they are not being hard-nosed enough.

There was an obvious undercurrent from many of the 150 farmers at this week’s B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill that their sector leaders and representatives are not being publicly assertive enough in criticising policy.

Wyndham farmer Bruce Robertson told the meeting the implications for his farm of the intensive winter grazing provisions were huge and he questioned whether bodies like B+LNZ have emphasised the impact of such policy on farm businesses.

Other farmers raised similar concerns, which were echoed by B+LNZ Southern South Island farmer council chair Bill McCall when wrapping up the meeting. . .

Extra time will enable development of practical winter grazing solutions:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Government has taken the time to listen to and understand the practical difficulties that accompanied the Essential Freshwater rules on winter grazing.

“In announcing tonight a temporary delay until 1 May 2022 of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect, Environment Minister David Parker has recognised workability issues need to be sorted, and that extra time is vital to ensure we get this right,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“This is not kicking for touch. The Minister has accepted a commitment from regional councils and the farming sector to use this time to develop, test and deploy an IWG module and practices that will ultimately be a part of a certified freshwater farm plan.”

There is universal recognition that the Essential Freshwater national rules passed in August last year have a number of unworkable parts. The parts that relate to the regulation of intensive winter grazing were one of the first ones to take effect and therefore needed urgent attention. . .

Tropical fruit, coffee crops potential for winterless north :

A Northland family is preparing to harvest the country’s first ever commercial pineapple crop – and they are looking for more New Zealanders to grow the golden fruit and supply the country.

Linda and Owen Schafli moved to Whangārei from Hamilton 10 years ago with plans to grow tropical fruit, specifically bananas and pineapples.

Their vision was initially greeted by laughter from those they told, with not many people convinced it would work.

“Because it’s never been done before here in New Zealand, people thought it could never be done,” Linda said. . . 

2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aim to continue to grow their farming business while protecting the environment through sustainable farming.

Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand in Wigram on Tuesday evening.

Other major winners were Maria Alvarez, who was named the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Mattes Groenendijk, the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Gamages say the networking, strength and weakness identification and recognition they gain through the Awards process were all motivating factors to enter again. Dinuka was placed third in the 2016 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager category. . .

2021 West Coast/Top of South Island Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

First-time entrants who embrace a sustainable version of farming have been announced as major winners in the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards. 

Mark Roberts and Sian Madden were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year Category at the West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Shantytown on Thursday night. The other big winners were Rachael Lind, who was named the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Smithers, the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mark and Sian are contract milkers and 20% share milkers on Stu and Jan Moir’s (Moir Farms Ltd) 215ha and 377ha Reefton farms milking 1300 cows across the two properties. They won $6,500 in prizes and three merit awards.

“We have a genuine passion for the dairy industry and are committed to farming sustainably and showing others how we do this for future generations.” . .

E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri summit set to spark innovation across the food and fibre sector:

Boma New Zealand is proud to present E Tipu 2021 | The Boma NZ Agri Summit, the biggest food and fibre event of the year featuring remarkable local and global guest speakers at the forefront of the industry.

Held on May 11–12 at the Christchurch Town Hall, E Tipu will see a mass gathering of both local and international thought-leaders, game-changers, business operators and like-minded attendees from the primary sector.

Amongst the confirmed guest speakers will be prominent business leader and respected CEO Paul Polman. Formerly CEO of Unilever, Paul is the Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, an organisation that works with CEOs who are building their companies into beacons of sustainable business and leveraging their collective power to drive change on tipping points in their industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

16/03/2021

Forestry issues still need much debate – Keith Woodford:

Land-use decisions between farm and forest need unbiased information from within New Zealand, without Government screwing the scrum towards foreign investors

In my last article on forestry, a little over two months ago, I ended by saying that “there is a need for an informed and wide-ranging debate as we search for the path that will lead to the right trees in the right place, planted and owned by the right people”. Here I take up that issue again.

In the interim, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) has published its draft report on how New Zealand might meet its Paris obligations through to 2050. A key message in the report is that forestry must not be used as the ‘get out of jail card’ (my term) that avoids facing hard decisions elsewhere in the economy.

The CCC estimate is that under current policy settings and with carbon priced at $35 per tonne, then new forests will increase by 1.1 million hectares by 2050. If the carbon price rises to $50 then the CCC thinks new plantings will increase to 1.3 million hectares. . . .

Small steps boost farm’s biodiversity:

Farmers discovered that there are many ways to protect and enhance mahinga kai and biodiversity values while visiting Waimak Farm in Eyreton recently.

The 612-hectare farm includes the largest remaining kanuka stand in North Canterbury. Due to its important biodiversity values this area is being protected by farm managers Richard and Susan Pearse.

Richard Pearse says the kanuka stand provides an important seed source and seedlings have been taken from the area to try and recreate a similar ecosystem in other dryland areas. He is aiming to plant approximately 1000 native trees per year throughout the entire farm.

“It’s important for us to protect this area as there are hardly any of these dryland areas left. It is easier to protect what you already have on farm than starting from scratch.”

Arts approach to rural mental health in Tairāwhiti – Alice Angeloni:

A mental health service that uses mahi toi (the arts) to create culturally safe spaces will reach into rural Tairāwhiti.

The primary mental health service will support west rural and East Coast communities and is expected to start between April and June.

A report before Hauora Tairāwhiti’s district health board last month said $900,000 left over from another Ministry of Health contract would fund the service over two years.

But as it was a “finite resource” to 2022, with no guarantees of funding being extended, building leadership capability within the community would be key to making the service sustainable, the report said. . . 

Nature school demand grows post lockdown – Emma Hatton:

The demand for one-day nature or forest schools is on the rise, with advocates saying if schools do not provide more outdoor-based learning, the demand will continue to grow.

At Battle Hill farm in Pāuatahanui in Wellington, about a dozen children aged between four and 12, gather every Wednesday for nature school.

They start the morning with a hui to decide what the day will look like, possibly geo-caching, tree climbing or making damper to eat over the fire they will build. They also check the weather and debrief on any safety issues. . .

2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner is excited to be part of the New Zealand dairy industry, producing dairy products with the lowest carbon footprint in the world and is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy. 

Women achieved a clean sweep, winning all three categories in Auckland/Hauraki. Rachael Foy was named the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Thames Civic Centre on Thursday night and won $10,300 in prizes and four merit awards. The other major winners were the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Stephanie Walker, and the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Emma Udell.

Rachael was named the Auckland/Hauraki Dairy farm manager of the year in 2017 and placed third at the National Finals.

“The benefits of entering the Awards are numerous, including networking, benchmarking my business, the prizes, raising my profile and the National finals week,” she says. . . 

Carbon bank – Uptown Girl:

Everyone is all paper straws, and bicycles, and reusable grocery bags and water bottles, and then we’re over here like, “Here’s our dirt.”

Actually, we call it soil. And we have to make that clarification or our college soil professor will drive down here and make it for us.

But seriously. Did you know our soil, when managed right, is a massive carbon bank? That’s right – we are storing carbon right here, right below our feet!

What you’re looking at is a crop field where we grow grains to harvest every year. You’re seeing green cover crop, that was planted in the fall before harvest of our corn to make sure our soil was never bare. . .

 


Rural round-up

14/03/2021

Setback for China’s producers may boost NZ meat exports – Maja Burry

A second wave of a serious pig disease in China is expected to slow the country’s efforts to rebuild its national herd and help sustain demand for New Zealand red meat.

China is the world’s top pork producer and consumer, but in 2019 [https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/the-detail/story/2018694109/why-we-re-about-to-see-a-global-pork-shortage

a large outbreak of the pig disease African Swine Fever] (ASF) resulted in the culling of about half of the country’s herd.

That outbreak led to scarcity of the meat and big price hikes, which in turn prompted a lift in imports of other proteins into China – including sheepmeat and beef from New Zealand. . .

Live exports ban effects on farmers ‘significant’ – exporter – Maja Burry:

A live cattle exporter is hitting back at calls for the trade to be banned, warning the impact on the farming sector would be significant.

The government launched a review of the trade nearly two years ago and last week told RNZ it was close to making a decision on its future, with options ranging from improving systems to a total ban.

Figures from StatsNZ show more than 100,000 breeding cattle were shipped to China last year, to the value of $255.89 million.

Some animal welfare advocates, including a former head of animal welfare for the Ministry for Primary Industries, want an end to the trade – saying the cattle ended up in poorer conditions than they would have experienced had they remained in New Zealand. . . 

Scenic Hotel Group announces closure of  four West Coast properties including premium Eco Luxe property:

New Zealand’s largest independently owned hotel group, Scenic Hotel Group, has made the tough but strategic decision to place its four West Coast properties into extended hibernation.

Consideration and consultation are currently underway with staff and General Managers of affected properties with the Group undertaking its best endeavours to redeploy staff where they can. In addition to this, Scenic Hotel Group will retain an essential crew of staff to maintain the properties during this period. Scenic Hotel Group Managing Director, Brendan Taylor saying, “Despite strenuous investment by ourselves in the region and a reimagined price point and proposition for flagship property, Te Waonui Forest Retreat, the volume and appetite are simply not there from the Kiwi market.” Taylor believes that over the past year, the Group has exhausted all avenues to stimulate domestic tourism to the region in an effort to make up for the loss of international tourism and ongoing uncertainty around an Australian travel bubble.

In the wake of what he describes as a “Decimated tourism market,” there is now a significant oversupply of accommodation and tourism product in the region. “Whilst unpalatable and at an estimated cost to the Group of around NZ$2m a year, we have made a decision that will hopefully be for the betterment of the region. This will allow smaller operators who do not have the strength of a National Group to take up what tourism dollars are left.” Taylor also expresses a commitment to the Group continuing to promote the region where they can through redirecting online searches directly to other operators. . . 

Turning animal fat into futuristic fuel for cleaner cars – Ben Fahy:

Ben Fahy learns how biodiesel is made and its role in a lower carbon future. 

In the boardroom at Te Kora Hou, Z’s biodiesel plant in south Auckland, the whiteboard is full of chemical equations, an almost-finished packet of chocolate chip biscuits sits on the table, and Glen Carpenter and Wayne Reid – men with good, solid industrial names; good, solid industrial demeanours; and good, solid industrial outfits – are the happiest they’ve been in a long time. 

After a detailed safety briefing, I put on my glasses and hi-viz and head out on a tour of the plant. Carpenter checks to see if his personal gas detector is working and Reid talks about how the fire systems are able to detect invisible flame (methanol, one of the ingredients used in the process, burns clear). 

“We’re in a state of chronic unease,” says Reid, which is a very good attitude to have when you’re surrounded by fuel. . . 

2021 Northland Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

The 2021 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year is a former police officer who would like to change the opinion of people who criticise the dairy industry without looking at the facts.

Katrina Pearson was named winner of the 2021 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Semenoff Stadium in Whangarei on Tuesday night and won $7250 in prizes plus seven merit awards. The other major winners were the 2021 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Ravindra Maddage Don, and the 2021 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Bella Wati.

First-time entrants achieved a clean sweep of first, second and third places across all three categories in Northland.

Katrina entered the Awards programme to grow her knowledge about her own business. “I wanted to improve my skills around managing the business and financial side of the job, rather than just focusing on the practical parts.” . . 

Feed your animals not hungry pests :

Unusually high insect pressure saw spring-sown crops take a real hiding in some regions this season.

Now farmers about to drill new pasture seed are urged to plan for similar challenges or risk losing valuable feed.

Between them, Argentine stem weevil, black beetle, black field crickets, porina, grass grub and springtails can make a meal of new grass and clover before you realise there’s a problem.

Sowing perennial ryegrass seed with novel endophyte doesn’t give strong protection of the plant from insects until later in life, so even these cultivars can be heavily predated as seedlings. . . 


Dairy Industry Award winners

05/07/2020

The 2020 Dairy Industry Share Farmers of the Year winners demonstrate the perfect progression pathway:

The 2020 Share Farmers of the Year are an outstanding example of hard work, dedication and leadership who are honest, traditional and epitomise sharemilker progression planning.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a gala dinner to announce the winners was not possible, so another way was found to celebrate success within the dairy industry. For the first time ever, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners were announced on national television and aired on Country TV on Saturday night.

Nick and Rosemarie Bertram from Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa were named the 2020 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Bay of Plenty’s Andre Meier became the 2020 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Grace Gibberd from Waikato was announced the 2020 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $215,000.

Share Farmer head judge, Jacqui Groves from Westpac, says the Bertrams impressed the judges by remaining true to their vision, their mission and values in life. “They were high achievers in all areas.” . . 

The full results are here:

 


Rural round-up

19/04/2020

Dairy farmers committed to water quality – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers are committed to protecting New Zealand’s environment and taking action on-farm to support that, says DairyNZ.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for environment, Dr David Burger says the dairy sector is on the journey to improve and protect water quality outcomes.

His comments came at the release of Our Freshwater 2020 report, highlighting New Zealand’s environmental challenges and where we can all play our part.

“Our farmers have been working toward this for over a decade. We are continuing to do more every year,” says Burger.  . .

Demand in China good news for Fonterra :

China’s economy is “slowly returning to normal”, a fact that is reflected in last week’s positive Global Dairy Trade auction, says Fonterra’s Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers.

“Chinese participation [in the GDT] was pretty strong and it gives us some hope. China’s experience with Covid shows us that overall demand for dairy does recover” Rivers told The Country Early Edition’s Rowena Duncum.

Fonterra was also beginning to see demand for “out of home consumption” returning, as China started to open up more restaurants, said Rivers. . . 

NZ economy – sapped by Covid-19 – gets a lift from exports helped by kiwifruit – Point of Order:

The Covid-19 pandemic has savaged   several   of  New Zealand’s major  foreign exchange  earners,  particularly  tourism.  Even those still  trading  into  markets  that have   held up  well   face  an uncertain  outlook.

Yet the red  meat industry, whose exports earned NZ $9bn last year, and  the  $3bn  kiwifruit   industry  look as if they will be up there with the dairy  industry  as vital  props  underpinning  the  NZ  economy over coming years.

For  meat  producers, after the significant drop at the beginning of the year from the combined effect of Chinese New Year and Covid-19,  the return of China to the market, has been a positive factor compensating for the pandemic-led disruption to traditional European and North American markets. . . 

Lack of market access still a concern for growers in level 3 response – Tracy Neal:

The country’s fruit and vegetable growers say moving to level 3 on the Covid-19 scale will ease pressure on some in the sector, but many consumers still won’t be able to get their greens.

From later next week businesses and industries not considered essential, but able to demonstrate they can operate safely, could be back up and running if the government announces on Monday a move to level 3.

Head of Horticulture New Zealand, Mike Chapman, said that was good news for orchard development programmes as construction, trades and manufacturing look set to be revived. . .

Covid-19 level 3 hunting ban:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association Inc (NZDA) is disappointed that hunting has seemingly been blanket banned following the Government’s release of its Covid-19 Level 3 guidance yesterday.

The NZDA is calling for a re-think and further clarification by Government and strongly recommends that hunting should be permitted at Level 3 subject to the overriding health and safety guidelines imposed on permitted activities and adherence to the “keep it local” and “apply common sense” principles stated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

NZDA National President, Trevor Chappell says, “There are many elements that make up hunting and that needs careful consideration by Government. The NZDA is open to consultation and can help draft a framework for hunters. NZDA also strongly advises that Government urgently seeks the input of the Game Animal Council, Fish & Game, Mountain Safety Council, Professional Guides Association and others like the NZDA who each can offer a deep understanding on the subject because we all represent different stakeholders in the hunting industry”. . .

Economic recovery from Covid 19 through development of infrastructure – Primary Land Users Group:

Currently New Zealand is in the early stages of an economic crisis due to the advent of the Coronavirus and its effects through the level 4 Emergency lockdown provisions and others.

The current coalition government is proposing taking direct action to support the economic recovery from the effects of the lockdown by using infrastructure development in what they are calling “shovel ready projects” to stimulate the national economy.

This is in effect a brilliant strategy “Yeah Right”.

Anybody that truly believes this strategy will give the desired results must be totally divorced from the actual reality of New Zealand’s development constrictions with the most influential one being the Resource Management Act. . .  . . 

NZDIA national judging programme to continue:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) are pleased to announce that Nationals Judging 2020 will continue, within the guidelines of Covid-19 restrictions.

“After consulting our finalists, national sponsors and stakeholders, we have carefully designed a robust judging process that will enable a fair and level playing field, minimise stress to entrants and focus on finding the best farmers,” says NZDIA General Manager, Robin Congdon.

“Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, finalists will be asked to submit their presentations for judging digitally and speak with the judges online rather than face-to-face.” . . 

South Island salmon harvest survey to start:

South Island salmon anglers are being asked for their help in the first east coast wide salmon harvest survey.

The Nelson/Marlborough, North Canterbury, Central South Island and Otago Fish and Game Councils are asking anglers to actively participate in the annual sea-run salmon harvest survey that is about to be undertaken.

The survey comes at a critical time when sea run salmon populations are at depressed levels and the Covid-19 alert level restrictions may compromise the ability of Fish & Game to undertake annual population monitoring in the field, like helicopter-assisted spawning surveys. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

09/04/2020

COVID-19: Farming focused on playing its part:

A week into the COVID-19 lockdown, DairyNZ says dairy farmers are settling into life in lockdown but the sector’s focus remains on ensuring support for farms.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the Government support for farming as an essential service has been positive to date and is helping ensure all farms can be kept ticking.

“DairyNZ is working closely with dairy farmers and agri-partners to ensure all farming families, staff and support services are safe, and that farmers have access to the equipment, services and people they need,” said Dr Mackle.

“We all share concerns about the health and economic effects COVID-19 will have on our families, communities and New Zealand, and farmers are working hard to minimise risks to keep their businesses running smoothly. . . 

Milking shed projects stymied by lockdown rules – Rod Oram:

Dairy farmers trying to get ready for the new season are striking lockdown problems, writes Rod Oram

A farmer in Northland has a problem: his milk processor had condemned his milking shed; a new one was under construction; work has stopped because the Government has yet to classify such projects as essential; and precious time is being lost before the new milking season starts in July.

This is a real example playing out now, says Justin Thompson, DeLaval’s vice president of sales and support in Oceania. The Swedish-based company, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of milking systems, is supplying equipment to the Northland project. But as soon as New Zealand went into Covid-19 lockdown, subcontractors packed up and left the site. . . 

Commodity prices continue to fall but offset by weakening dollar:

Commodity prices continue to fall as the impact of the Covid-19 virus continues to be felt on international markets, but the blow is being cushioned by a weaker New Zealand dollar.

The ANZ World Commodity Price index dropped 2.1 percent in March and has now fallen 8.3 percent in the past four months.

In local currency terms the index actually lifted 3.3 percent due to a sharp fall in the New Zealand dollar.

Dairy, meat and fibre, forestry and aluminium all fell, but horticulture remain unchanged. . .

Chair of Ballance Agri-Nutrients retires in September:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited Chairman David Peacocke, is stepping down as a Director in September 2020 at the Annual Shareholders Meeting (ASM). Duncan Coull has been elected as the new Chair by the Board of Directors taking up the post after the ASM.

David a Waikato farmer and businessman has been a Ballance Director since 2005 and was elected as Chair in 2013.

“After 15 years, seven as Chair, this is a logical step in the Ballance board’s succession planning and I felt it was time to let someone else take up the challenge,” says David.

“Duncan is the right person to lead Ballance into our next phase , he brings a strong personal view that we need to work collaboratively as a sector to be future-ready.” . . 

Forestry industry preparing for back to work

Forest industry organisations are planning how to get back to work when restrictions on non-essential work are lifted for the industry.

Organisations, representing forest growers, transport, processing and contractors have set up a working group to develop risk assessment protocols in readiness for start-up of the industry sector.

The National Safety Director of the Forest Industry Safety Council, Fiona Ewing says the aim is to assure government that the sector will be able to comply with the epidemic management conditions of COVID-19. . . 

Update on 2020 Awards:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards final four regional winners and placegetters have been announced via Facebook Live video and were warmly received by entrants, winners, sponsors and supporters.

The New Zealand dairy industry is resilient, flexible and adaptable to change. The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, adapting and leading with their response to the Covid19 crisis, can be seen as a reflection of the industry and all entrants.

Entrants, families, supporters and sponsors watched with excitement and anticipation in their bubbles. There were hundreds of live streams out numbering the usual attendance to the dinners. It was magical to see the live engagement and comments and likes floating up the screen during the announcements. . . 


Rural round-up

04/04/2020

Change of tune needed – John Jackson:

It has been some weeks since we have had to face the ideological rhetoric, in any quantity, that has pervaded our lives for much of the last three years – and I haven’t missed it one bit!

I’m referring, of course, to the campaigns on agricultural greenhouse gasses, water quality and afforestation. All of which unnerved many of us who work the land.

When it suited the current Government, we were a country in a world with international obligations. For some, it was important to be a leader – even if it was to our detriment or to the detriment of the world. However, also when it suited, we were a country with no greater or lesser natural attributes than any other.  . .

Support teams ready to help :

Dedicated teams have been set up to provide support for Hawke’s Bay farmers and rural communities affected by drought and constrained by the national lockdown.

Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group co-chairmen Wade Nilsson and Lochie MacGillivray say the eight teams cover water, feed, logistics, finance, welfare, animal health, Maori liaison and Wairoa. 

“These teams are operational and can provide specialist support in their particular area,” MacGillivray says. . .

Sarah’s Country: It’s a wild world:

The lyrics of a brand new song by one of my favourite artists, Kip Moore, released this week nails it. 

It is so humbling that rural media is valued as essential by Government as the food and fibre sector puts the boot to the ball like Beaver in the last 30 seconds of the game. . .

Diversity valued as business strength:

A qualified artificial insemination technician and former builder were named the winners of the 2020 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year.

Sam and Karen Bennett, who milk 630 cows on Andrew and Jenny Calder’s 223ha farm in Wyndham, believe diversification and excellent staff are two major strengths of their successful business.

“We went contract milking in 2016, and are currently contract milking two separate farms,” Mr Bennett said.

“Diversification is a key strength of our business. As well as running two farms, we have also diversified into investment properties which helps reduce any risk.” . . .

Milking continues as normal – Gus Patterson:

Cows have no idea there is a pandemic, Natural Dairy co-owner Bethan Moore says.

The 12-cow organic dairy farm in Alma, near Oamaru, is continuing production and selling milk locally.

“That’s why we are so glad to keep going. We can’t dry them off and try to start milking again.”

In normal times, the dairy delivered 1000 litres of milk a week throughout Otago, but now operations had been restricted to the farm shop and local deliveries. . .

Agave turns into tequila but did you know it can produce a moist hand sanitiser? – Jamie Brown:

Agave plants grown under trial at Ayre, North Queensland show that ethanol production is higher than from corn and more economical than from sugar cane, while surviving drought in marginal landscapes.

University of Sydney agronomist associate professor Daniel Tan says there is scope for the crop to be grown in northern NSW.

In an article published this week Prof Tan, with international and Australian colleagues, analysed the potential to produce bioethanol from the agave plant. . .


Rural round-up

29/03/2020

Covid-19 and New Zealand’s agricultural trade – Keith Woodford:

Despite any attempts to diversify away from China, exports to China will be increasingly important in coming months as much of the world descends into increasing turmoil

With COVID-19 now dominating all of our lives, it was easy to decide that COVID-19 would determine the focus of my rural-focused article this week. However, in choosing COVID-19 and agricultural trade, I want to focus primarily on the world beyond the current lockdown and explore where we might be heading in the months thereafter.

The starting point is that in times like these, export markets choose New Zealand, rather than New Zealand choosing its export markets. In this environment, all we can do is hang out our shingle, and help potential buyers to manage the logistics. . . 

Coronavirus: Rural communities ‘more vulnerable’ says expert – Angie Skerrett:

Questions have been raised about how rural communities will cope with COVID-19 after new cases of the virus in a number of small towns.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed 78 new coronavirus cases in New Zealand, bringing the total to 283.

Locations of new cases included small towns such as Te Anau, Roxburgh, Cromwell, and Alexandra.

While some farmers have suggested the isolation of rural life provided an extra sense of security during the pandemic an expert said that was not the case. . . 

Are we fit for a better world? – Sarah Perriam:

It’s being described as the ‘rehab’ from our destructive farming practices weaning our land off the ‘drugs’. Sarah Perriam digs deeper into what’s driving a new way of farming that is creating a groundswell of support in Canterbury, but not everyone’s convinced.

Internationally renowned ecologist Allan Savory’s TED Talk with over 4 million views on YouTube titled ‘How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change‘ was my introduction to the concept of ‘regenerative agriculture’.

Allan has dedicated his life to turning around ‘desertification’ which he refers to two-thirds of the world’s grasslands degraded from erosion from intensive livestock grazing and extensive soil cultivation. . .

The race to save a bumper kiwifruit season – Jim Kayes:

Tougher Covid-19 restrictions would have a massive impact on the billion-dollar industry, but growers remain cautiously optimistic they can beat the clock, writes Jim Kayes.

Craig Lemon sits in a room usually teeming with people, surrounded by bottles of hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.

With 260 hectares of kiwifruit orchards producing about 48 million of the green and yellow pockets of juicy vitamin C, his mind should be solely on the harvest. This is the time when the fruit is picked and packed, with Lemon’s Southern Orchards filling 1.5 million trays at his packhouses in South Auckland and Tauranga over the next few months. . . 

2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards say good, capable people are the cornerstone of their business.

Ralph and Fleur Tompsett were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards. Other major winners were Stephen Overend, who was named the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Lucy Morgan, the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Tompsetts say they want to continue to grow and develop their business. “It’s a goal of ours to bring great people along with us to share and enjoy the growth opportunities which our dairy industry provides.” . . 

Coronavirus: Taranaki farmer makes giant hay bale teddy for ‘Ted in the window’ campaign – Angie Skerrett

A Taranaki farmer has created a giant hay bale teddy bear as part of the international ‘Ted in the Window’ campaign.

The campaign which has been sweeping the globe, aims to entertain children during the COVID-19 restrictions by giving them something to look out for in their neighbourhood on a social-distanced scavenger hunt.  . . 


Rural round-up

18/01/2020

Disease’s cost killed meat firm – Jacob McSweeny:

Meat production at a 100-year-old Dunedin company has ceased and 13 staff have been made redundant but the owner of The Craft Meat Company says the business will live on.

The decision came after meat producers’ profits were cut by rising costs due to a global shortage of protein triggered by the African swine fever epidemic, owner Grant Howie said.

‘‘[It was] the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do,’’ Mr Howie said of the decision to axe staff. . . 

Sage softens lease land changes – Neal Wallace:

The Government appears to have softened the sharpest edges of proposed changes to the management of pastoral lease land while confirming farming will continue in the South Island high country.

The bill detailing changes to the Crown Pastoral Lands Act appears to back down on initial proposals that included greater political oversight of the activities of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, traditionally an independent position.

It seems also to accept submissions from farming sectors that lessees have legal rights to pasturage and quiet enjoyment of their land, which would have been compromised by the original recommendations. . . 

Fonterra pioneer expects much better:

One of the architects of Fonterra says he’s very disappointed with the co-op’s performance over the years.

Tirau farmer, Tony Wilding says farmers expected better when they formed the co-op in 2001. “It’s not the performance we had in mind when we formed Fonterra,” he told Rural News.

Wilding received a New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s honours list for his contribution to the dairy sector and community. . .

New chief executive for Meat Industry Association – Sudesh Kissun:

The Meat Industry Association has appointed Sirma Karapeeva as its new chief executive.

Karapeeva, who is currently the Meat Industry Association’s (MIA) trade and economic manager, has been with the trade association since 2015. She replaces Tim Ritchie who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Karapeeva, who takes over in April, held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles in Government before joining MIA.

Kiwifruit prices hit record high:

Kiwifruit prices were at an all-time high in December 2019, with prices for seasonal fruit and vegetables also up, Stats NZ said today.

“Kiwifruit prices rose 32 percent in December to a weighted average price of $8.27 per kilo, an all-time high,” acting consumer prices manager James Griffin said.

“This compares with $4.24 in December last year.” . . 

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open January 15th.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz. . . 


Rural round-up

19/11/2019

Tolaga Bay: A beach covered in forestry waste – Rebecca Black:

As temperatures rise in the Gisborne district, Tolaga Bay locals face a beach covered in logs and expect more debris every time it rains.

More than a year since a huge storm hit the district on Queen’s Birthday weekend 2018, washing over 40,000 cubic metres of wood onto beaches, rain is still sending forestry waste down the district’s rivers to Tolaga Bay beach.

On October 15, the beach was covered in 15,000 cubic metres of wood in what the Gisborne District Council described as, “a storm that could be expected every couple of years”. . . 

Recipient off to study operations – Yvonne O’Hara:

As one of five new Nuffield Scholarship recipients, sheep, beef and dairy farmer Ed Pinckney, of Manapouri, will be spending several months overseas next year exploring different farming operations.

The experience gained will enhance his own farming operations and also form part of a study project each scholar is required to do.

Although he has yet to distil his ideas into a specific topic, he is keen to look at how to encourage more people to enter the agricultural industry and develop their skills.

”There will be something to learn from most businesses [I visit] around the world and will be applicable back here to what we do,” Mr Pinckney said.

The Nuffield Scholarships provide new scholars with an opportunity to travel abroad in groups and individually, and study the latest developments in several leading agricultural countries. . . 

New man at the helm – Jenny Ling:

The new person at the helm of the Dairy Industry Awards has never milked a cow but has business skills that will serve him well in the role. Jenny Ling reports.

A solid understanding of rural life combined with a high-flying international career in marketing and events has secured Robin Congdon his latest role as Dairy Industry Awards general manager.

Congdon has some big shoes to fill as he took over from long-serving leader Chris Keeping, who had 18 years in the role. . .

NZ, a great place for  agri-tech – Tim Dacombe-Bird:

New Zealand agritech start-ups are creating value, powered by technology.

We are at the beginning of a golden age of artificial intelligence and the possibilities of what it and other modern technologies can deliver are still to be seen.

The agritech sector here is in a unique position to address critical global issues such as meeting the food demand from a growing global population. . .

Spring Sheep is bringing sheep milk to Kiwi homes:

Following popular demand to make it available locally Kiwis are now able to receive the nutritious benefits of New Zealand’s own grass-fed sheep milk, with the launch of Spring Sheep® Full Cream Sheep Milk Powder in convenient 350g and 850g resealable pouches.

It is now available at Aelia Duty Free stores in Auckland and will be followed by select supermarkets in early 2020.  . . 

Groundspreaders’ Association encourages incident reporting amongst all members:

The New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) is actively encouraging all its members to sign up to free, real-time incident reporting app, Spotlight. The move comes as interest in best practice incident reporting is on the rise and as vigilance around health and safety continues to climb to the top of the industry’s agenda.

Grant Anderson, the NZGFA’s Health & Safety representative, says health and safety is of paramount importance  in every industry where there is risk and that ground spreaders are making great efforts to ensure their health and safety and incident prevention procedures are effective. . . 


Rural round-up

16/10/2019

Farmers backed by court – Jono Edwards:

The Environment Court has backed Lindis River farmers and water users with a potentially precedent-setting minimum-flow decision.

In a ruling released this week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

This will cancel the limits set by Otago Regional Council-appointed commissioners of a minimum flow of 900 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1200 litres per second.

The catchment group is hailing the decision, having long said the original limits would be devastating for farmers and the local economy.

Water users are awaiting the second proceeding from the court on the issue, which is an “application for a suite of water permits to take water from the river”. . . 

 

Water groups welcome Lindis ruling – Jono Edwards:

Central Otago water leaders hope the Otago Regional Council will back future minimum flows with evidence after an Environment Court decision in the Lindis River.

In a ruling released last week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

The decision could have implications for the setting of minimum flows in the Manuherikia, Arrow and Upper Cardrona rivers.

Manuherikia farmer and water leader Gary Kelliher, who is chairman of the Manuherikia subgroup of the Otago Water Resource Users Group, said water users all over Central Otago would be relieved “to see a sensible outcome has been found”. . . 

 

Cheap avocados: good for consumers but selling at a loss – Eric Frykberg:

Remember the bad old days of the $11 avocado? That was back in May.

The passage of the seasons has subsequently done wonderful things for deprived palates, which were forced to salivate in vain back then.

Vegeland in Christchurch has been advertising avocado at 39 cents each on Facebook.

In Waikato, a roadside stall went further, selling small avocados for $3 for a bag of ten.

However, the industry organisation, New Zealand Avocado, said these prices were unrealistic. . . 

NZ Dairy Industry Awards gives Taranaki sharemilkers confidence to expand

An award-winning South Taranaki couple has doubled the size of their dairy herd in less than four years.

Hollie Wham, 26, and Owen Clegg, 27, 50:50 sharemilk 400 cows across two properties at Manutahi, south of Hawera.

The couple bought their first 180-cow herd in 2016. Condensing the long calving spread was a priority. . . 

Nanotechnology solutions explored in agricultural sector :

Researchers from Lincoln University are investigating how to use nanotechnology in agriculture to increase productivity and reduce environmental impact.

Lincoln University Associate Professor in Animal Science Craig Bunt said his team was looking to develop a groundbreaking nano-coating which could be applied to fertiliser to control its rate of release into soil, and to seeds to control their timing of germination.

Dr Bunt said controlling the rate of release for fertiliser was important because release that was too rapid can result in excessive nitrogen being lost into soil and waterways, causing significant pollution and other negative environmental impacts. . . 

Time to be reasonable on convergence spend – James Porter:

This is going to be a difficult one, because I don’t think it is possible for us all to agree on what is a fair allocation of the promised ‘convergence’ money.

But, before we get started, can we at least agree the ground rules? Can we disagree without being disagreeable, can we listen to each other and assume the best and not the worst? Because tone matters – treating each other with civility and dignity matters.

We only have to look at the toxic state of UK politics to see what happens when the other path is taken and I – and I’m pretty sure most farmers, be they hill or lowland – want nothing to do with it.

My family has a foot in both camps, because although I farm on arable land, my heart is in the highlands. In 1976, my father bought a farm called Cashlie, near the top of Glen Lyon, that is where we spent our summer holidays growing up, fishing and swimming in the lochs and river, walking in the mountains, and helping with the gathering, marking, shearing and dipping. . .


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