Rural round-up

May 19, 2019

Selling sheep and beef farms to forestry is a threat to food and trade – Stuff Editorial:

His pockets stuffed with millions of dollars for regional development, his mind set on getting unemployed cousins off the couch to plant a billion trees, he stood before a mayoral reception and urged people to get involved.

“If you have an aspiration to turn marginal land into forestry, we are going to do it …” he told his hosts.

The official guide to his One Billion Trees Programme featured the Manawatū sheep and beef farm owned by Justin and Mary Vennell. . . 

Farmer uneasy over farm to forestry conversion plan – Heather Chalmers:

Government incentives to plant trees is leading to a rush of sheep and beef farms being sold for conversion to forests.  

Farmers are worried about the trend, saying that once hill country properties are planted in forests, they will never return to pastoral farming.     

While the Government had banned overseas people, apart from Australians and Singaporeans, from buying existing residential and lifestyle properties, rule changes had made it easier for foreigners to invest in forestry.   . .

There’s rarely a day at least one story from New Zealand Farmers Weekly doesn’t feature in my rural-round-up.

It’s also the one give-away paper that is a must read not just in ours but in every other farming house I know.

It deserves its title of Best Trade Publication in the Voyager NZ Media Awards.

Climate policy still clouded – Neal Wallace:

The government is still to decide the mechanics of how and how much farmers will pay for methane emissions and if it will mean inclusion in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Initially, the point of obligation will be with milk and meat processors but Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says that is for ease of administration and he has made research on shifting the liability to individual farms a priority.

“I want to see us reward good on-farm behaviour and practice as quickly as we can.” . .

Northland a centre of share farming excellence – Hugh Stringleman:

Share Farmers of the Year Colin and Isabella Beazley have their hands full with winter milking and a herd expansion by 200 cows for next season.

The magnitude of their win on the national stage, carrying more than $50,000 worth of prizes, is slowing sinking in amid the enhanced planning and provisioning alongside usual farm work and family life.

Fortunately, they do not have to move farm or home for the next three contracted years of their dairying careers, milking 530-550 cows and aiming for more than 200,000kg milksolids next season. . .

Preventing farmer suicides through helplines and farm visits – Allee Mead:

In 2016, dairy farmers Meg Moynihan and her husband lost the buyer for their organic milk. Because she was working for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Organic Program at the time, Moynihan thought it’d be easy to find a new buyer, but “all doors were closed,” she said. “It was the beginning of the milk glut.”

 


Fonterra has a heart

May 8, 2019

The world’s biggest dairy exporter shows  it has a big heart:

Fonterra’s milk tankers are Andrew Oliver’s favourite thing in the world and local tanker drivers have long known that Andrew won’t go to bed until they’ve been on the farm.

But when it became unmanageable for his 65-year-old parents, the world’s biggest dairy exporter stepped in to help.

They changed their milk tanker schedule in the entire district so that Andrew would go to bed on time.

Andrew Oliver is one of about eight people in the world living with Fryns-Aftimos syndrome – he’s the oldest known to have it and the only one in New Zealand with the condition.

The extremely rare syndrome is the result of a mutation in one of his chromosomes which means that, at 35 years old, he has the mental age of a 6-year-old and suffers many other symptoms.

For the past 15 years he’s had a special relationship with Fonterra tanker drivers.

Ken Oliver, his father, said Andy discovered the tanker when the farm went onto the night shift for milk pick up.

“[He] learned what it was, came out to see it occasionally and once in awhile would talk to a driver. But then with Andy, the normal thing is with something like this – it would become a habit. And so he had to be out to see the tanker. That became part of his nightly routine.”

Andy’s nightly routine consists of a list of things he has to tick off.

Every night he draws a picture to give to the tanker driver, he has to watch the weather report on the 6pm news, then he has dinner and a bath.

But the last thing to tick off – is the tanker.

Ken said that if the tanker hadn’t come, Andy wouldn’t go to bed. For him, waking up at 5am to tend the farm, it became a struggle.

“We simply didn’t know when the tanker was coming. You might get 2am in the morning or something like that and he wouldn’t go to bed until the tanker had come.”

For over a decade, Andrew’s parents managed his tanker visits until one day Ken says he came to a breaking point.

“Deirdre had just been diagnosed with having had a minor stroke, I was absolutely out on my feet trying to keep the farm going. Surviving on three or four hours sleep and I’d just run out. I’d hit the wall and so I phoned the call centre and actually started crying on the phone, I was just so shot.

“I just said look, my life has just become impossible and just explained what was going on. I need sleep and I can’t get sleep until this boy’s in bed.”

The person at the call centre decided to help. . .

The company changed its tanker schedule for the whole Te Rapa district so that Andy could go to bed on time.

Tanker drivers have also given Andrew a hi-vis Fonterra jacket and raised money to buy him a bike.

I’m delighted to be a shareholder in a company with employees who care.

UPDATE: TIm Fulton wrote about this in NZ Farmers Weekly several years ago.


Rural round-up

March 2, 2019

Proposed water tax a ‘burden’ on low-water  regions – Stuart Smith:

The proposed new water tax that was announced as part of a swathe of other new taxes potentially facing Kiwis will disproportionally impact on low-rainfall regions like Marlborough.

There are eight new taxes in Michael Cullen’s proposal: the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), tax on vacant residential land, agriculture tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, environmental footprint tax, natural capital tax and a waste tax.

Much has been said about the CGT but the suggested water tax, too, would impact all Kiwis negatively and in particular our farmers, horticulturalists and wine growers in low-rainfall areas. . . 

Partnerships between men and women are critical for farming success – Bonnie Flaws:

With many farms run by married couples, the role of women in farming is a critical one, a female dairy farmer says.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a former dairy woman of the year, said male farmers could see everyday how women contribute to the business, and they respect that.

“I would say the percentage of women in farming is at least 50 per cent. Nearly every farming business has a partnership that has historically not been seen. But they’ve always been there.” . . 

Studies smoke out fire behaviour – Richard Rennie:

The risk of summer fires is a constant farmers and foresters learn to live with. But the Port Hills fire in 2017 and the Nelson fire last month have brought a human threat to wildfires many Kiwis thought was confined to Australia and North America. With wildfires now affecting rural and urban people Richard Rennie spoke to Scion rural fire researcher Dr Tara Strand about how we are getting smarter at understanding rural fires.

A TEAM of Scion researchers is part of a 27-year history of research into New Zealand’s rural fires, a quiet brigade of climate experts and fire analysts whose job is to help make rural firefighters’ jobs more effective and safer. . .

Grape yield under threat – Joanna Grigg:

Marlborough is experiencing a hydrological drought.

Lack of rain in the mountain catchment has left the Wairau River low, Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsdworth said.

And summer storage capacity on the plains has been found wanting as a result. January rain of 18mm was soon sucked up by 30C plus temperatures in February.  . .

Matamata to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final :

A Waharoa dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in her quest to be named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Sophia Clark will take on seven other contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final in Matamata next month.

It will be the 30-year-old’s fourth attempt at clinching a coveted spot in the national final. . .

Scott St John leaves Fonterra Fund manager’s board as units hit record  low – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra director and veteran capital markets executive Scott St John has left the board of the shareholder fund’s manager, the same day the units plunged to a new low.

A notice to the Companies Office last night noted St John ceased being a director of FSF Management Co, the manager of the dual-listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to the cooperative’s earnings stream. He is still a director of Fonterra. . .


Rural round-up

January 13, 2019

No rescue for Taratahi :

A rescue package for the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was rejected by the Government last year, which left the national training provider no option but to face liquidation.

The Farmers Weekly has been told the package consisted of cost savings, a restructured business and courses, the planned sale of the 518ha Mangarata farm in the Wairarapa, a $6 million working capital cash injection and moratorium on refunding over payments to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

Last year the Government spent nearly $100m bailing out Unitec, Whitireia and Tai Poutini polytechnics. . .

The vegans are coming, so Kiwi farmers need to give us something to believe in – Daniel Eb:

Environmental limits, changing tastes and a redefined social licence are driving consumers away from animal proteins. In part two of a series on the rise of veganism, Daniel Eb looks at what New Zealand must do to get on board.

There is a sense of impending transformation ahead for agriculture in New Zealand. The world’s richest consumers – New Zealand’s target market – want products that speak to their identity. They are increasingly perceiving value in terms of experience, and are less willing to tolerate our production-first model. In short, they want something to believe in. In the second part of this series on veganism I outline a way forward, an opportunity to re-imagine our value as food producers and our impact on the world. . .

Postive start for wool sales – Alan Williams:

The calendar 2019 wool sales season in the South Island started brightly, with indications of business being written in China, and helped by lower volumes.

Crossbred prices remain at depressed levels and there are still issues to be faced, but the positive start was refreshing, with finer crossbred wools up to 6% dearer at Christchurch on Thursday, and strong wools up to 2% better, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

The small volumes of new season’s lambs’ wool were keenly sought after, with prices well ahead.  . .

Meet the couple at No.1 State Highway, Far(thest) North – David Fisher:

At the point in the road where there is little left of State Highway 1, you’ll find Herb and Colleen Subritzky.

In the evenings they sit on the deck of their home, overlooking the road – New Zealand’s longest road stretching more than 2000km from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south – nursing cold beers and listening to birds filling the silence of the Far North.

All day, buses and cars race by their home to cover those final few kilometres to Cape Reinga. At 6pm, the main parking area shuts and the flow reverses, dwindles then stops. From then until morning, it must be one of the quietest stretches of road in the country. . . 

Eight vie for Otago/Southland FMG Young Farmer title – Sudesh Kissun:

Two former workmates at the iconic Mount Linton Station are set to clash in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest.

Jacob Mackie and Allen Gregory, who are both 25, will go head to head in the Otago/Southland regional final in Milton next month.

“I can’t wait. I really enjoy the challenge of competing. It pushes your boundaries and makes you work on your weaknesses,” said Allen. . . 

Farmer credits his dog with fighting off attacking steer – Kristin Edge:

Johnny Bell reckons his little dog, Jade, saved his life by fighting off a steer that bowled the veteran farmer and was attacking him on the ground.

The canine companion then ran along the road to get help for her wounded master who had been knocked unconscious. Bell’s front teeth had been smashed out, his right eye severely bruised as was his ribs and legs.

What was not immediately evident was the Northland farmer was suffering a brain bleed. . .


Reluctant farmer sees light

September 22, 2018

NZ Farmers Weekly profiles Cameron Henderson:

Cameron Henderson grew up on a dairy farm in Waikato but early in his career he decided dairy farming wasn’t for him. Eight years ago he saw a new light in the industry and joined the gold rush of dairying in a new pocket of Canterbury. His journey to farm ownership has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride but he has no regrets. Annette Scott joined him on-farm to hear his story.

Cameron Henderson started his journey in the dairy industry working for Fonterra as a business analyst.

Growing up on the family dairy farm in Waikato he’d made the call early that he wasn’t keen on being a dairy farmer.

“As a kid I thought there’s got to be more to an agricultural career than wet, cold and mud. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 25, 2018

Call for compo for farmers maintaining walkways – Maja Burry:

A high country farmer says there should be compensation for landholders affected by increasing visitor numbers.

A draft report published earlier this year by the Walking Access Commission found that a growing population, combined with record international tourist numbers is putting pressure on some access to the South Island High Country.

Andrew Simpson, who owns Balmoral Station at Lake Tekapo, said about 100,000 people use the Mt John Walkway on his farm each year.

Mr Simpson said he wanted people to enjoy his land, but he was having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on track maintenance this year, even with some support from the Department of Conservation. . .

Farmer leaders back off – Neal Wallace:

Farming sector leaders are unimpressed by the last-minute inclusion of far-reaching search and surveillance powers changes to the National Animal Identification and Tracking Act.

Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ leaders, who endorsed the changes a week ago, said they understand the need for the change but the late additions should have been open to public scrutiny instead of being pushed through Parliament under urgency.

The Farmers Weekly was told a drafting error omitted the search and surveillance powers from the original Nait Act.

Farming sector leaders have been criticised for supporting the changes but they now say they were unhappy at the rushed legislated process. . . 

NAIT still long way from meeting original objective – Allan Barber:

NAIT is like a long running soap opera which viewers can watch faithfully for a couple of years, go back to after a long absence and find nothing much has changed. It was first thought of back in 2004, took eight years of argument, design, business case preparation and readings in parliament and it was finally implemented in July 2012 with a three year lead-in for cattle.

In 2016 a review was started which was finally completed in May this year and presented to the present Minister for Primary Industries. When it finally saw the light of day, you could have been forgiven for thinking it would be a review of all the reasons NAIT doesn’t yet appear to be working properly, but I understand it was always intended to be a routine review of the programme after three years in operation. . . 

Exchange rate reset will breathe new life to agriculture – Keith Woodford:

The recent decline in the value of the New Zealand dollar is about to breathe new life into agriculture. It will take some months before the benefits flow through to farm level, but the macro signs are there to be seen.

The key question is whether we are seeing a strategic reset or is it just short term. My own thinking is that it is medium term through to around three years and maybe beyond, but with inevitable volatility. Beyond that I cannot see.

First let’s get the basic maths sorted out. A lower value of the New Zealand dollar means that we get more New Zealand dollars for exports. And in the New Zealand context, that largely relates to our primary industries, principally agriculture and horticulture, but also forestry and fishing. . . 

A new weapon will help in the Stink Bug battle:

The addition of another weapon to fight any incursion of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug on our shores is excellent news, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson Karen Wiliams says.

“We’re delighted to learn the Environmental Protection Authority will allow controlled release of the tiny Samurai Wasp if this stink bug were ever to get a foothold here.

“The BMSB is a scourge that could put a multi-billion dollar hit on our economy. For arable and horticulture farmers, a scenario where a breeding population could get established here is a nightmare,” Karen says. . .

Seeka 1H profit falls on further banana business writedown – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, posted a 6.5 percent decline in first-half profit despite revenue rising, as it wrote down the value of its banana-sourcing business further.

The Te Puke-based company reported profit of $10.4 million in the six months ended June 30, from $11 million in the same period a year earlier. Seeka said the bottom line included a $1.5 million writedown of goodwill to its tropical fruit business, Seeka Glassfields. Revenue rose 8.5 percent to $145.4 million, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation lifted 7 percent to $23.5 million. . . 

Federated Farmers keen to work with new Extension Service:

A new extension service intended to bring knowledge and resources to farmers struggling to keep up on production efficiency and environmental protection fronts is a “positive”, Federated Farmers board member and Arable chairperson Karen Williams says.

“Offering support so farmers can get up to speed is certainly preferable, and more likely to achieve progress, than wielding the big stick of fines and more regulations.

“The new extension service could prove helpful but we would urge MPI to continue to work with farming groups on the mechanics of it and how it is rolled out,” Karen said. . .

Apple and stonefruit group willing to engage in meaningful discussions with MPI following High Court judgment:

The group of five industry members who joined together to challenge MPI’s directive for nurseries and orchardists to contain and/or destroy tens of thousands of apple (Malus) and stonefruit (Prunus) plants has received the High Court judgment and is currently reviewing this in detail.

The judge found that the MPI directions, issued under s116 of the Biosecurity Act were unlawful and has directed MPI to reconsider.

The judgment encourages MPI to work with industry to develop and agree a more appropriate set of directions that address their key biosecurity concerns. . .


Rural round-up

May 7, 2013

Fixed price contracts not priority for most meat companies – Marie Taylor:

As debate on the state of the red-meat sector continues, Marie Taylor asked 12 meat processors what they had to offer farmers in terms of stable pricing they could bank on.

Fixed-price contracts are few and far between in the meat industry.

The New Zealand Farmers Weekly surveyed 12 meat companies in New Zealand to find out what was on offer in terms of predictable, stable pricing farmers could bank on.

The most encouraging responses came from Silver Fern Farms, Ovation, Progressive Meats, Lean Meats and Firstlight Foods. . .

New animal welfare strategy released:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has launched the New Zealand Animal Welfare Strategy today, setting out a high level framework for how we treat animals.

“The strategy Animal Welfare Matters sets out a formal foundation for New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation and policy,” says Mr Guy.

“It says that it matters how animals are treated, and that we have responsibilities toward animals. It also says that using animals for activities like farming and racing is acceptable as long as it is humane.”

The strategy lists four main routes to improved animal welfare: . . .

Federated Farmers back new animal welfare strategy:

Federated Farmers is fully supporting the release of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Animal Welfare Strategy.

“The strategy reflects Federated Farmers own policy on animal welfare,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“It really does matter how animals are treated and farmers have both a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure requirements are adhered to.

“New Zealand’s farmers are actually world leaders in integrating animal health and welfare into their farm management planning. Something recognised by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

“This strategy reaffirms our international leadership and reputation. It is a strategic means to ensure this reputation is not only maintained but improved and Federated Farmers supports it. . .

Word of Hawke’s Bay Wines Spreading In China:

Hawke’s Bay wines, in particular high quality reds, are steadily gaining exposure in the expansive Chinese market with two recent initiatives adding to the awareness. 

Four influential Chinese media writers visited the region and were hosted by Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers and five wineries, while four local wineries attended one of China’s most important international wine trade fairs, the Chengdu Wine & Spirits Fair.

Immediately after her visit, Sophie Liu, an independent wine writer and educator, has blogged positively about her time in Hawke’s Bay and is planning articles to appear in Wine World, Wine & Taste and World Cuisine magazines, as well as http://www.wines-info.com

Her colleague Fan Yiren, who is one of China’s most influential social bloggers with accumulated fans of 63,374,307 on one site and over 330,000 on Weibo (Chinese Facebook equivalent), blogged daily. He is also planning to write four to five feature blogs. . .

At home and overseas, New Zealand seafood is on the dinner table:

When fish is on the menu, the type of fish you get can depend heavily on where you live.

Salmon, tarakihi, and gurnard are the most-commonly available fish species in supermarkets and fish shops as tracked in the consumers price index (CPI), Statistics NZ said today. However, some species are not widely available in all regions.

“Snapper and trevally are generally available in shops from Nelson northwards, but barely feature further south where sole is more commonly available,” prices manager Chris Pike said.

New Zealand’s seafood industry, published today by Statistics NZ, gives an economic overview of selected parts of the country’s seafood industry and provides a comparison between 2007 and 2012. . .

Trials show there’s a lot to love about molasses:

A further round of farm trials in the Waikato has reconfirmed the value of Crystalyx Dry Cow dehydrated molasses blocks as a Dry Cow winter management tool.

The results were shared at a farm open day in Putaruru, in March, with Jackie Aveling, Animal Nutrition Manager at Altum, saying the good turnout reflected farmers’ interest.

“Overseas trials over some 20 years have consistently confirmed the performance of dehydrated molasses blocks. Farmers want to know if the same results can be achieved in New Zealand. Our trial work with Crystalyx, which is specifically formulated for local conditions, gives them the facts they need to support its performance.”

The repeated trial work done by Dr Mark Oliver, science director of the Liggins Institute’s Ngapouri Farm research station near Rotorua, which saw a control herd supplemented with magnesium and trace elements following current best practice guidelines, and the other Crystalyx Dry Cow. . .

Organic Farm Pioneers High-tech Voluntary Milking System:

Robotic or voluntary milking systems, where the cows choose for themselves when they want to be milked and the whole job is done by a computerised machine, are still as rare as tits on a bull in New Zealand.

Heritage Farm, a certified organic dairy farm at Karaka, just south of Auckland, was the first farm in New Zealand to install a DeLaval Voluntary Milking System.

Early adopters David and Cathy Yates, who own and run Heritage Farm with their son Brian, are really pleased with their move to computerised milking. They have now had two and a half year’s experience with the system and say that its benefits go way beyond not having to spend hours in the milking shed every day putting on and taking off teat cups. They include improved animal health and welfare, and better pasture and feed management – all made possible by the quantity and quality of the data that the system provides, along with doing the manual work of milking. . .


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