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

08/03/2021

Experienced operators scarce as maize harvest ramps up– Gerald Piddock:

Agricultural contractors remain short of experienced operators as a bumper maize harvest gets underway across the North Island.

Contractors have been hard at work in Northland since early February, while further south in Waikato, harvest started a few weeks later.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) vice-president Helen Slattery says the New Zealanders that had been retrained and were employed by contractors were fitting in well in their new vocation.

“In saying that, we do still need those experienced harvest operators. You don’t learn how to operate a harvester in your first year,” Slattery said. . . .

Red meat sector exports reach $743.3 million in January 2021 :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $738.3 million in January 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Although this represented a 14% drop compared with January 2020, there was exceptionally strong demand for beef in China a year ago ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown and African Swine Fever was decimating Chinese pig herds, resulting in a surge in demand for other protein.

“Red meat exports hit record levels of $9.2 billion during 2020,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

 

Genetics gain facilitates lower cow numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

The national dairy herd already contains the calibre of cows that will be required in the future to allow farmers to reduce cow numbers without losing total farm productivity or profitability.

“We already have cows with the desired levels of productivity, we just need more of them,” LIC’s general manager of New Zealand Markets Malcolm Ellis said.

LIC says genetics are a big part of the dairy industry’s response to the Climate Change Commission’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction in agriculture.

NZ is already a low-emissions dairy producer, but the commission is signalling a 15% reduction in stock numbers in nine years. . .

Are the days of industrial fertiliser numbered? – Mark Daniel:

We’ve been encouraged to grow our own for many years, now researchers at two Sydney universities have found a way of making ‘green’ ammonia and say their discovery could provide a major boost to farmers and speed up a global push to renewable hydrogen fuel.

Chemical engineers at the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney say their method of making ammonia (NH3) from air, water and renewable electricity removes the need for high temperatures, high pressure and large infrastructure, currently needed to commercially produce the gas.

The new production system, demonstrated in laboratory trials, could potentially provide a solution to the problem of storing and transporting hydrogen energy.

So, is the day of reckoning coming for the world’s fertiliser manufacturers? . . 

Why we should be using wool carpets – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand had banned single use plastic bags, so why can’t we get rid of synthetic carpets? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

New Zealand banned single use plastic bags in 2019 from July 1.

Over 9000 people had their say in the consultation process, and the Ministry for the Environment took action. The aim was to reduce waste and protect the environment.

New Zealanders adapted so quickly that it is difficult to imagine how we could have been so profligate with plastic in the past. . . 

School leavers swap lazy days for hard yakka fruit picking on farmers’ Chinchilla melon farm – Vicki Thompson:

Brisbane school-leaver Rhys Burke never imagined he would end up picking watermelons under the blazing sun on a Chinchilla farm.

Four months ago, the city-based teenager answered the call from farmer Murray Sturgess, who was desperate for pickers to get his watermelon crop to market.

Rhys and school friend Aidan Stuart packed up and headed west, straight out of school into the hot paddocks of the Western Downs.

It is hard work after 13 years in the classroom, but, as Rees explains, “if you can survive the first three days, you’re sweet”. . . 


Rural round-up

23/09/2020

Smart shift on border exceptions but shearers still missing:

The government’s decision today to slightly loosen border entry restrictions to allow in certain specialised staff crucial to the agriculture and fishing industries is excellent news, Federated Farmers says.

“Feds has been strongly advocating for exceptions for skilled operators of sophisticated agricultural machinery key to harvesting and other seasonal tasks for several months.  The pandemic response disrupted long-established workforce arrangements,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We’re very pleased that Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has now recognised it’s impractical to try and train enough New Zealanders in time to meet the immediate need, though that is the sector’s longer-term goal.” . . 

Establishment key to successful hemp crop – Gerald Piddock:

Blair Drysdale is into his third season of growing hemp on his Southland farm and is still fine-tuning how it fits into his crop rotations.

He grows 10ha of hemp on his 320-hectare farm, harvesting the seeds which are then pressed into oil and sold online.

“It’s a fully integrated system which was the plan from the outset. We spent 15 years looking to do something from paddock to consumer and it was about finding the right plant that fitted in with our infrastructure,” he said.

It also had to be healthy and beneficial to people and hemp ticked those boxes. . .

A cheering result for Fonterra but there are challenges ahead – Point of Order:

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and a strong milk price.  The  result,  a profit   of  $659m, may have  brought a  cheer   from the  co-op’s  farmer-suppliers and  Hurrell  deserves  a cheer, too, for   succeeding  in  turning around  the  fortunes of the  co-op,  after two  years  of  losses.

“We increased our profit after tax by more than $1bn, reduced our debt by more than $1 billion and this has put us in a position to start paying dividends again,” he says.

“I’m proud of how farmers and employees have come together to deliver these strong results in a challenging environment. They have had to juggle the extra demands and stress of COVID-19 and have gone above and beyond. I would like to thank them for their hard work and support.”

Fonterra  settled  on a  milk price for the  season  just  past  of  of  $7.14kg/MS—-one of the  highest on record—and  is  maintaining the current forecast  for the  current  season  within  the  range of  $5.90-$6.90. . .

Many farmers still stuck on connectivity slow lane Feds survey finds:

The vast majority of urban New Zealanders can get on the information superhighway at speed but the latest connectivity survey by Federated Farmers shows too many rural families and businesses are still stuck in second gear on a potholed back-road.

“We had nearly 900 responses from our members from every farm type and geographical spread but a bitter irony was that several more couldn’t complete the on-line questions because they didn’t have internet access or connectivity was too patchy or slow,” Federated Farmers President and telecommunications spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

Around 68% of respondents have download speeds of 20Mbps or less, and nearly 24% are enduring download speeds of just 0-5Mbps. . . 

Agri survey finds issues with rural connectivity:

A survey of rural landowners conducted by Whanganui & Partners has found issues with connectivity are impacting the sector.

The survey was undertaken in partnership with the Rural Community Board and was sent to landowners with 10ha or more. This week, Colleen Sheldon from Whanganui & Partners is reporting to the Rural Community Board on the survey’s findings around internet and mobile coverage.

Sheldon says the survey provides strong evidence to back up what farmers have told her, which is that poor rural connectivity is a challenge to their businesses. The survey found that while the majority of landowners have some form of internet access, rural landowners face obstacles conducting the same online tasks as urban residents. . .

NZ wool’s cost $10m market position – Annette Scott:

The beleaguered state of strong wool is not holding back all in the industry.

With several fleece to floor initiatives on the go, NZ Yarn, alongside Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), has contracted $10 million of wool from New Zealand growers in the past three years with new hemp and wool hybrid products set to realise new opportunities.

CP Wool, representing 3500 sheep farmers around NZ, is the exclusive supplier of wool to NZ Yarn that spins yarn for use in the soft flooring industry globally. 

Group chief executive of NZ Yarn and CP Wool Colin McKenzie says NZ Yarn contracts are for the direct supply of good-coloured shears and have generally been at a significant premium over the spot market, especially lots with little or no vegetable matter contamination. . . 

Higher stocking density and increased output boosts Shetland farm:

A higher stocking density and increased output has improved a Shetland farmer’s profits and boosted livestock performance.

Farming in the Shetlands brings many challenges including a shorter grazing season, strong west and south-west winds and salt spray from the sea damaging soils

But 2019 Scotch Beef Farmer of the Year finalist Jamie Leslie has maximised livestock performance and improved profit by focusing on four key objectives – cow and calf weaning ratio, kilograms of output produced per hectare, cow fertility and wintering costs. . .


Rural round-up

14/09/2019

Farmers feeling victimised by current government:

Farmers feel they are being dragged through the mud as continued environmental regulations are imposed on the sector.

An open letter has been sent to the Prime Minister this week asking for more consideration for the rural industry.

The letter says the Government’s approach to environmental policy is undermining the mental health and well-being of the pastoral sector . .

Govt freshwater proposals a blunt instrument for complex water problems:

The meat industry says the Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said they generally welcomed the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways.

“Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.” . . 

Foreign buyers circle dairy debt – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign hedge funds have approached the country’s largest rural lender about buying dairy loans the bank wants off its books.

It is understood a large international investment bank has flown in to sound out industry consultants on the potential for buying assets from the big banks, including loans to dairy farmers.

The international interest comes as the Australian-owned banks review their New Zealand operations in light of proposals from the Reserve Bank to significantly increase the amount of capital they must hold against their loans.

Feds plead for rates fairness – Hugh Stringleman:

Rating for revenue gathering by councils based on the salable value of farms is not a true assessment of ability to pay, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.

“It is a bit like assessing someone’s wealth on the basis of the car they drive,” she said in a forward to Federated Farmers Platform on the 2019 local government elections.

The federation makes no apology for focusing heavily on the cost of local government and how that cost is recovered. . . 

There are 600 jobseekers in Wairoa. Its major employer Affco meatworks wants to hire immigrants :

A leading Wairoa youth advocate hopes the town’s major employer will never have to use imported labour despite lodging an application with Immigration New Zealand for approval to hire overseas workers.

The application has been lodged by Affco Talley, current operators of a plant that has a history in the town dating back 103 years and employs hundreds of workers each year.

It’s opposed by the New Zealand Meatworkers Union, but Wairoa Young Achievers Trust youth service manager Denise Eaglesome-Karekare, who is also the town’s deputy mayor, has a goal to make sure any shortfall in the available labour force is still able to be filled by those in the town. . .

Vegan activists are tormenting farmers into quitting – Tim Blair:

Farms run as much on trust as they run on sweat, long hours and hard work.

By nature accessible and open, farms are not easily secured against destructive forces. That’s where the trust comes in. Farmers trust us not to damage their properties and livelihoods, and in exchange they feed and clothe us.

It’s a win-win social pact. Or at least it was, until the recent rise of militant veganism.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke last month described the torment caused by vegan and animal liberationist farm invasions. . .


Rural round-up

24/07/2019

No way yet to measure emissions – Neal Wallace:

It is impossible to measure greenhouse gas emissions on individual farms and it appears modelling will be used to calculate tax bills when farm-level obligations are imposed from 2025.

Scientists are still working to develop technology and systems but earlier this year AgFirst economist Phil Journeaux and AgResearch scientist Cecile de Klein delivered a paper to New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference saying it is impossible to measure farm level emissions.

The Interim Climate Change Committee and the Government both say farmers should pay for emissions from 2025 but the development of simple, cheap and credible technology to calculate those obligations still seems far off. . . 

Climate change – how can five per cent be a pass rate for farmers emissions deal? – Mike Hosking:

If talk was hot air then this Government would need to be part of the Emissions Trading Scheme and being paying large penalties for destroying the planet.

The deal has been struck, sort of, whereby agriculture gets dragged into our Emissions Trading Scheme. That’s the good news, if you think making business more expensive by piling on more costs is good news.

The rest of the news is that farmers will escape paying 95 per cent of the charges, which means they will pay, for example, 0.01 cents per kilo of milk solids. In other words having them in isn’t a lot different to not having them in, if in fact what you want to do is achieve something as opposed to making a lot of noise about it. . . 

Collective impact: how working together benefits the environment– Agrigate:

‘What are you doing!?’ Trish exclaimed to friends who failed to put bottles in the recycling bin at a dinner party she was hosting. This was the lightbulb moment which kickstarted her passion for change – to educate farmers on the importance of working together, to create a better environment.

South Taranaki farmer, Trish Rankin, was recently named the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year. This award is significant, as it recognises the work she is doing beyond her own farm gate to make an impact in the wider industry.

Trish is not afraid to take on a challenge. She’s completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, focusing on how a circular economy model can be extended to New Zealand dairy farms – all while juggling her roles as mother, farm assistant and CEO, teacher and Chair of the Taranaki Dairy Enviro Leader Group. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Biosecurity Response Levy set for dairy farmers:

This week, dairy farmers nationwide will receive information from DairyNZ about the Biosecurity Response Levy being set at 2.9 cents per kilogram of milksolids for the 2019-20 year. The levy will be collected by dairy supply companies from 1 September 2019.

“We consulted with our farmers earlier this year about increasing the biosecurity response levy cap to 3.9c/kg milksolids in order to pay our share of the M. bovis response,” says DairyNZ Chief Executive, Dr Tim Mackle.  We listened to the feedback our farmers gave us and made sure there was a strong farmer voice around the table.

“The 2.9c/kg milksolids is obviously less that than the 3.9c/kg milksolids cap we put in place. This reflects our conversations with farmers, plus the work we’ve been doing with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to develop the terms of payback in the operational agreement we have negotiated. . . 

Survey reveals our appetite for eating insects:

When it comes to eating insects, New Zealanders like them crunchy and if given a choice would opt to eat a black field cricket before other creepy-crawlies, according to a new AgResearch report that explores the nation’s appetite for insects.

The Crown Research Institute surveyed 1300 New Zealanders to assess which native insects respondents would be most likely to consume to test the market potential for each insect as a product. The survey found participants are more likely to eat – given the choice – black field cricket nymphs and locust nymphs, followed by mānuka beetle and then huhu beetle grubs.

For the record, participants said they would least like to consume porina caterpillars and wax moth larvae, which suggests we are more open to eating “crunchier” insects, as opposed to the softer “squishier” insects, reinforcing that texture is an important factor influencing decisions to consume insects. . . 

Grasslands more reliable carbon sinks than trees – Kat Kerlin:

Forests have long served as a critical carbon sink, consuming about a quarter of the carbon dioxide pollution produced by humans worldwide. But decades of fire suppression, warming temperatures and drought have increased wildfire risks — turning California’s forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

A study from the University of California, Davis, found that grasslands and rangelands are more resilient carbon sinks than forests in 21st century California. As such, the study indicates they should be given opportunities in the state’s cap-and-and trade market, which is designed to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. . .


Rural round-up

29/01/2019

Book charts history of Young Farmer contest – Sally Rae:

For 50 years, the Young Farmer of the Year contest has been part of the fabric of New Zealand’s rural sector.

Dubbed “the challenge second only to the land”, it tests the knowledge and skills of the country’s young farmers.

To mark the milestone, Hawke’s Bay writer Kate Taylor has recorded the contest’s history in 50 Years Young — A History of the Young Farmer of the Year.

But it is more than just a comprehensive history; it contains interviews with various winners, finalists and organisers, and is peppered with interesting and amusing anecdotes. . . 

Farmer shocked heifers missing – Hamish MacLean:

A North Otago dairy farmer says he is in a state of disbelief after realising 60 rising 2-year Friesian heifers had been taken from his farm.

Russell Hurst, of Awamoko, said the animals, taken between the week before Christmas and New Year’s Day, could be worth $100,000.

He and his staff went ”around and round the farm in circles” double-checking the mobs on the 2500ha farm to make sure the animals had been stolen.

”It’s just disbelief, really,” Mr Hurst said. . . 

Restrictions loom for river irrigators in Marlborough – Matt Brown:

New Zealand’s largest wine region could soon be facing water restrictions as record-high temperatures affect rivers.

The Rai, Waihopai and Wairau Rivers’ minimum flow rates were rapidly being approached and surface water “takes” were expected to be halted by the end of next week.

Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth said it was trying to “forward forecast” on the current rate of flow decline, but it was difficult to be concise. . . 

Pioneer works with maize insurer – Richard Rennie:

The country’s largest maize seed supplier is working with an insurance company to settle losses incurred after seed treatment failure in some hybrid varieties this season.

Early in the maize planting season late last year a number of growers in Waikato and Northland reported stunted crops post-germination, prompting some to replant crops before mid December.

Pioneer’s investigation team head Raewyn Densley said a number of growers have . . 

Taranaki honeymoon: whacking possums – Jamie Morton:

Forget Paris: for one newlywed couple, there’s no better honeymoon than killing possums in Taranaki.

Fresh from their wedding, Andrea and Max Hoegh are working at the frontline of New Zealand’s first large-scale possum eradication operation.

The biggest pest-busting project of its kind in the country, Towards Predator-Free Taranaki divided the region into pizza-slice sections around the mountain, with work kicking off in the New Plymouth area. . . 

Your dinner’s in the lab – the future of ‘cell-based’ meat – Gwynne Dyer:

“Right now, growing cells as meat instead of animals is a very expensive process,” says Yaakov Nahmias, founder and chief scientist of Israel-based startup Future Meat Technologies. But it will get cheaper, and it probably will be needed.

The global population is heading for 10 billion by 2050, from the current 7.7b. Average global incomes will triple in the same period, enabling more people to eat meat-rich diets. . .

 


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