Rural round-up

April 9, 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

April 4, 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

March 29, 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

January 18, 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

November 19, 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

October 16, 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. . .


Rural round-up

September 6, 2019

Farmers face $1b bill to meet new freshwater requirements :

Government proposals to radically improve the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater resources look likely to cost farmers at least $1 billion over 10 years.

Environment and Agriculture ministers David Parker and Damien O’Connor released a swag of documents from the government’s Essential Freshwater policy review at Parliament this morning.

The discussion document on a new National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management details proposals that would:  . . 

New rules to manage water – Neal Wallace:

The Government wants to take a tougher stance on and have a greater say in freshwater management, a discussion document released today reveals.

Action for Healthy Waterways will require every farmer to have a farm plan to manage risks to fresh water by 2025, extends rules on the exclusion of stock from waterways and sets new standards for intensive winter grazing.

Regional councils will have until 2025 to implement a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater and till then the Government proposes tighter controls on land-use intensification and the introduction of interim measures to reduce nitrogen loss within five years in identified catchments with high nitrate or nitrogen levels. . .

Rural innovations secure support – Luke Chivers:

A 14-year-old entrepreneur with an ingenious scheme to provide broadband access to isolated, rural communities is one of four ventures to receive support from the Rural Innovation Lab.

The backing was announced at the Beehive by Lab chairman Mat Hocken.

The initiatives came after a wide call for people to submit ideas to help solve rural issues. . .

Commodity export prices provide some cheer, even for those downcast Fonterra farmer-suppliers – Point of Order:

NZ lamb export prices have hit their highest level since 1982. That mightn’t be good news if you are contemplating a roast leg of lamb for the barbecue this weekend.

But for NZ meat producers that, and the high prices being earned in markets like Japan for beef, suggest it’ll be a good season for NZ’s meat producers.

This is despite the global uncertainty stemming from trade wars particularly between China and the US, two of NZ’s main markets. The outbreak of swine fever in China is likely to sustain demand for other meat such as beef. . . 

Breeding for parasite resistance important:

WormFEC Gold a collective of farmers breeding for parasite resistant genetics are leading the pack as drench resistance becomes more prevalent and drench failure is reported across the country.

Ten breeders across New Zealand have joined forces creating WormFEC Gold bringing together more than 200 years combined experience breeding highly productive, parasite resistant rams. The aim of their breeding programme – verified by Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL) – is to strengthen flocks and save farmers time and money by reducing the number of times flocks need to be drenched. As a group they work collaboratively to improve parasite resistant stock genetics and educate farmers about the value of including parasite résistance in stock selection decisions. . . 

Benefits of entering Dairy Industry Awards numerous:

Entries for the 2020 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards open on Tuesday 1st October and are an opportunity for entrants to secure their future while learning and connecting with others and growing their career. The 2019 Share Farmers of the Year say the benefits to their career and business from entering are worth the effort and time.

Colin and Isabella Beazley won the 2019 Northland Share Farmers of the Year and went on to win the National title as well. “We entered to benchmark ourselves against the best and also for the networking opportunities,” they say. “The networking and contact with industry leaders is unparalleled and we have used these relationships to grow our business.” . .

Farmers could lose tens of thousands as vegan activists plan fortnight-long blockade of UK’s largest meat market – Greg Wilford:

It is the largest wholesale meat market in Britain, and celebrated for selling some of the nation’s finest cuts of beef, lamb and pork for more than 800 years.

But, if vegan activists have their way, London’s Smithfield Market could be transformed into a parade of fruit and vegetable stalls without any animal produce in sight. . .


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