Rural round-up

February 12, 2019

Nelson bush fire: Richmond’s land-based ark caring for evacuated animals- Jessica Long:

Emotional owners evacuated from their homes in the Nelson fires are leaving animals on Richmond Showground’s 100 acres which has transformed into a land-based ark. 

The grounds have not been used for any large scale events since soldiers trained for World War I, Richmond Showground Nelson A&P Association treasurer John Harwood said.

Streams of cars have flowed into the grounds since a devastating forest fire broke out in Pigeon Valley, about 30 kilometres south of Nelson on Tuesday afternoon. A second fire broke out in Nelson City on Friday afternoon prompting further residential evacuations. . . 

Southern catchment groups hailed as leaders in field – Ken Muir:

The South is taking the lead in the formation of local catchment groups to improve water quality and the environment, says Sarah Thorne, project co-ordinator for the NZ Landcare Trust in Southland.

”Other areas are closely watching the progress of bodies such as the Pourakino catchment group and larger-scale projects such as Aparima Community Environment [Ace] Project,” Thorne said.

The NZ Landcare Trust is an independent, non-governmental organisation that was established in 1996. . . 

‘Shear for Life’ charity event draws some big names:

Current and former world shearing champions, stars from the She Shears movie and former All Black greats are among the shearers getting together at a one-off event in Mid Canterbury this month to raise money for cancer.

The ”Shear for Life” charity shearing event, hosted at the Ewing family woolshed in Hinds, started as a chance for a few of the old crowd to catch up.

But the idea has ballooned, and now 70 international and national veteran shearers will converge on Mid Canterbury to shear 3000 crossbred sheep for fun – and to raise money for Ashburton Cancer Support Group, Breast Cancer NZ and Prostate Cancer NZ. . . 

North Canterbury dairy farmer wants to bridge rural-urban divide through communication – Emma Dangerfield:

Connecting people with different lifestyles is vital for breaking down the rural-urban divide, according to North Canterbury farmer Michelle Maginness.

Maginness runs 220-hectare dairy farm Lake Ernmor in Eyrewell, her fourth farm since starting out as a sharemilker after graduating from Lincoln University.

She said farmers should proactively invite their communities to their farms to show them what they are doing to care for their animals and land. . . 

Farmers’ industry doesn’t make them industrial – Lyn Webster:

Back in the early nineties when I started milking cows the strategic application of nitrogen fertiliser commonly in the granulated form of Urea was widely promoted.

That was done by government agencies, fertiliser sellers, farm consultants and industry good agencies (now Dairy NZ) as the cheapest way to grow grass, and at $200 (now $700) a tonne many started adopting it as good option.

A few years later PKE meal (Palm Kernel Expeller) came into the country and was quickly adopted by dairy farmers as a relatively cheap, easily fed out way to fully feed animals as a complement a pasture-based system.  . . 

Trees can help erosion problems – Tim Warrington:

Hill country farmers’ efforts to prevent soil loss through erosion are being increasingly scrutinised.

This comes from environmental regulators and people wanting cleaner rivers and coastlines, says Northern Hawke’s Bay catchment manager Nathan Heath.

“And there is likely to be increasing regulatory pressure put on landholders who are not doing anything about erosion on their properties,” he says. “But there is money available for landholders to do soil conservation works on their properties.” . . 

Helicopter inspections reveal the worst in north west Queensland – Sally Cripps:

Stock losses of 50 to 60 per cent and more were being estimated across a large portion of north west Queensland this morning as graziers got their first access to the watery bombshell that hit earlier this week.

That will total up to thousands of head dead in one of the worst natural disasters seen in the region.

Winton stock and station agent and grazier, Tom Brodie, said it was a common belief that any places on the open downs black soil country would fare the worst. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 17, 2018

Climate change debate is heating up – Andrew Hoggard:

Science and practicality should underpin the climate change discussion but sometimes that’s de-railed by politics writes Federated Farmers dairy chairperson, Andrew Hoggard.

Debate about how New Zealand will honour the commitments we gave under the 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming and climate change is – if you’ll excuse the pun – heating up.

In the last few months a series of weighty reports on options and forecasts have been published, notably from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), the Productivity Commission (a whopper, at 620 pages), and earlier this month from BERG (the Biological Emissions Reference Group). . . 

Tararua dairy farmers out to curb nitrate leaching and negative whispers – Sam Kilmister:

Tararua dairy farmers are turning over a new leaf to reduce their environmental footprint. 

Plantain, a common weed, is being injected into pastures to help reduce nitrogen leaching into the district’s waterways. 

The fibrous plant holds less nitrogen, meaning less passes through a cow’s system after they eat it. It also causes them to pass urine more frequently, resulting in less concentrated urine patches in a paddock.  . . 

 

More stories from on-farm :

For the last edition of Farmers Weekly we went back to some of the farmers featured in On Farm Story this year and asked them to look back on the year that’s been, and ahead to what’s in store for New Zealand agriculture.

Morrison Farming

Will Morrison is looking forward to having time to enjoy the farm scenery and healthy livestock.

What has 2018 been like for your farming business?

Seasonality for Morrison Farming feels like an increasing challenge. The consistent, well spread 1000-1200mm annual rainfall and summer-safe tag for western Rangitikei no longer feel so consistent or safe. However, prices were fantastic and financially 2018 has been one of Morrison Farming’s strongest. . . 

Richard Thompson steps down from Landcare Trust

The long-time chairman of NZ Landcare Trust and Whanganui man, Richard Thompson, has retired after 22 years on the board.

And in his place the trust has chosen its first woman chair in Fiona Gower, who is also Rural Women New Zealand national president.

Landcare Trust is an independent NGO that attempts to bring together various stakeholders to work on sustainable water and land quality. . . 

From dust bowl to productive farmland: Farmers visit Nebraska – Pat Deavoll:

A party of 25 farmers and irrigation experts has returned from Nebraska, United States, with some fresh ideas about how to improve environmental management in New Zealand.

“Nebraska was one of the states which were devastated by the dust bowl storms during the depression and farming families had to leave the land,” outgoing IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said, who was part of the group.

“By 1932, 750,000 acres (300,000 hectares) of farmland had been abandoned in Nebraska due to soil erosion and dust storms. . . 

 

There’s Hope for wool in art show :

Dunedin artist Hope Duncan says a wolf-shaped rug made from crossbred wool is the perfect analogy for the state of the carpet fibre industry.

The Dunedin School of Art graduate loves wool but despairs about the state of the crossbred wool sector so for her end-of-year exhibition she chose a two-piece item with a wool carpet in the shape of a wolf as an eye-catching element in a none too subtle dig at how synthetic carpet manufacturers have laid claim to wool’s natural attributes.

Duncan hopes it will provoke conversation about the attributes of wool and issues with synthetic fibres. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 15, 2018

Variety is the spice of life  – Annette Scott:

It’s tough, rough country but Island Hills Station owners Dan and Mandy Shand are passionate farmers and innovative in their diversification to achieve financial sustainability. Annette Scottcaught up with them on their remote North Canterbury high-country property. 

Dan and Mandy Shand farm Island Hills, a 7000ha station in the back of beyond in the rugged Hurunui high county.

When the young couple took over the property from Dan’s parents Ed and Jan, they knew from the generations before them it would be tough going. In the early days access and weeds were the two biggest challenges.

For Dan initially, it was possums. . . 

OutcomesshouldberuralproofedRWNZsays – Yvonne O’Hara:

Gower Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) would like to see any outcomes of the Government’s mental health and addiction inquiry report, which was released last week, ”rural proofed”, national president Fiona Gower says.

”Quite a few of our members went to workshops held around the country to ensure we had coverage,” Mrs Gower said.

”We wanted to make sure the rural message was heard loud and clear.” . . 

Drought relief grows recogniton:

As Jessie Waite drove down Taranaki’s coastal highway there was no escaping the savage drought gripping the region.

It was January 2018. Parched, dusty paddocks flanked the busy tourist route. Failed turnip crops were a stark reminder of rains that never came.

For many coastal farmers it was the worst season in decades. . .

Deer farmer no quitter:

When 300mm of rain fell in four hours and blew out a year’s worth of environmental mitigation work, Steve Borland admits “it just about broke me”.

But the Oparau, Waikato, deer and sheep farmer is no quitter. Now the new fencing is repaired, and work to protect the fragile volcanic soils and water quality on the farm – Shabor – is underway.

Borland, with wife Judy, son Chris and business partners Bob and Jackie Sharp, is winner of the NZ Landcare Trust Award in the 2017-18 Deer Farmers Environmental Awards. The award is for excellence in sustainable deer farming by action on the ground. . .

Parentsholdkidsbackfromagcareers – Nigel Malthus:

The biggest barrier to youngsters choosing careers in agriculture is parents’ thinking that agriculture is “just a dumping ground.”

So says Gillian Koster, head of Rangiora High School’s land-based studies department.

“The parents won’t let their kids do it, in some cases because they see it as just where you go if you’re not very bright,” Koster told Rural News.  . .

Sheepmeat hitting record returns:

 Ten years ago the sheep farming sector in New Zealand was facing some tough assaults upon its claim as one of the country’s most important export sectors. The strong growth in dairying was knocking sheep farms out from some of the country’s most traditional sheep farming areas like King Country and Southland, while exceptionally low returns were threatening the viability of many smaller dry stock units struggling to stay afloat.

Fast forward 10 years and the sector can claim to be one of the most sustainably profitable contributors to the pastoral sector. Sale yards around the country are testimony to the level of optimism the sector is experiencing. . .


Pomahaka Catchment Project

July 2, 2018

Mini doco highlights sustainability work of Pomahaka farmers:

As part of their contribution to NZ Landcare Trust’s Pathway for the Pomahaka Project, Rabobank has released a mini-documentary that focuses on farmers in the Pomahaka catchment. This 10 minute video follows one sheep and beef farmer and two dairy farmers, highlighting the work they have undertaken to protect the environment through the winter. The video outlines areas of improvement that the farmers identified during the development of their Farm Environment Plans.

The film documents a sheep and beef farmer as he attends a Beef + Lamb NZ Land Environment Plan Level 2 workshop, while one of the dairy farmers is joined on-farm by a consultant, who runs through a DairyNZ Sustainable Milk Plan.

NZ Landcare Trust Project Coordinator Craig Simpson said the highlight of the Pomahaka project is the catchment scale work of the Pomahaka Water Care Group. “The video includes an interview with a water quality scientist who is undertaking water testing throughout the catchment for the Water Care Group, and discusses the work he is doing and the information he provides for the group.”

NZ Landcare Trust has been working for a couple of years to support and bring together the Pomahaka community. This community involvement is the key to the success of the project to date, and will be a real strength as the project continues.

The Pathway for the Pomahaka project is primarily funded by the Ministry for Prmary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund, with other contributions from Dairy NZ, Ravensdown, Ernslaw One Ltd. and NZ Landcare Trust.

NZ Landcare Trust has been working with farmers, landowners and community groups on sustainable land and water management projects for 20 years.


Rural round-up

March 27, 2018

MPI cattle cull “the right thing” – Jono Edwards:

The  farming industry is viewing a Mycoplasma bovis cull of more than 22,000 cattle as a tragic necessity.

The Ministry for Primary Industries announced yesterday it would begin a cull of 22,332 cattle today on all infected sites after scientific testing and tracing confirmed the disease was not endemic.

It was working immediately with farmers to kill the stock on the 22 active infected properties which still contained cattle, it said.

The disease can cause pneumonia, abortions, lameness and mastitis and can result in the deaths of infected cows. . . 

Sheep goes for $8k at first NZ auction of Beltex ram lambs – Maja Burry:

About 300 people attended the first ever sale of Beltex ram lambs in New Zealand on Friday.

The Beltex, whose name combines Belgium and Texel, are a breed of muscle heavy sheep that have higher meat yield.

Beltex breeder Blair Gallagher said the interest around the inaugural sale, which was held at his mid-Canterbury farm was very positive.

On offer was 16 purebred Beltexes, 20 Beltex-Poll Dorsets, 18 Beltex-Suffolks and 10 Beltex Perendales. . .

Farmers given food for thought – Sally Rae:

Hakataramea Valley farmers have been given some food for thought with the suggestion they could market their products directly to consumers.

The idea was raised by Prof Keith Woodford during a field day at Waikora Station last week organised by the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective.

The collective, set up in 2016, comprises a group of farmers whose aim is to assist and encourage the protection and enhancement of the valley’s environment and promote profitable and sustainable farming practices for future generations. It has been working closely with the New Zealand Landcare Trust, Environment Canterbury, the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game, local iwi and the Waimate District Council to ensure a collaborative and cohesive approach. . . 

Thermal imaging reveal Tekapo pests predator – Kathy Guthrie:

When Sam Staley went to the Defence Force’s Tekapo Military Training Area back in 1996 to run the Military Camp and Training Area for a three year stint, one of the tasks at the time was pest control. Today, 22 years later, he’s still there, and so are some of the rabbits, but after two decades of the comprehensive rabbit control operation which Sam initiated, the rabbits are nothing like the problem they used to be on the 19,000 hectare military site.

“The training area is unique,” Sam says. “It’s a very special bit of dirt! It’s probably the most intensively managed, non-grazed piece of high country land in Canterbury. It includes unique and nationally threatened plants and native fauna like alpine weta, rare butterflies and moths and many endangered vertebrates such as the Mackenzie Basin skink.” . . 

Robots are trying to pick strawberries. So far they’re not very good at it – Dan Charles:

Robots have taken over many of America’s factories. They can explore the depths of the ocean, and other planets. They can play ping-pong.

But can they pick a strawberry?

“You kind of learn, when you get into this — it’s really hard to match what humans can do,” says Bob Pitzer, an expert on robots and co-founder of a company called Harvest CROO Robotics. (CROO is an acronym. It stands for Computerized Robotic Optimized Obtainer.)

Any 4-year old can pick a strawberry, but machines, for all their artificial intelligence, can’t seem to figure it out. Pitzer says the hardest thing for them is just finding the fruit. The berries hide behind leaves in unpredictable places. . . 

Dairy farmers plea for help after Dean Foods ends milk contracts –  Sarah Gisriel:

Sixteen percent of the nation’s dairy farms are in Pennsylvania, but that industry is in crisis.

Two weeks ago, life changed for 26 farmers in Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

“I went to the mail, and in it was a certified letter from Dean Foods,” said Alisha Risser, the owner and operator of an 80-cow farm.

The letter told farmers that Dean Foods was ending its contract by June 1, due to a market surplus of milk.

“It’s the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to do in our lifetimes. To get that notice, and your world is absolutely rocked,” said Kirby Horst, of Lynncrest Holsteins. . . 


Rural round-up

July 24, 2017

Help sought for flood-hit farmers – Timothy Brown:

The Otago Regional Council is calling on any farmers in the wider region able to offer support to those affected by the weekend’s deluge to contact Federated Farmers.

Dozens of properties on the Taieri Plains remain evacuated with paddocks and pastures inundated with water from a wild storm that began on Friday afternoon.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said on Sunday it would be a difficult road ahead for farmers affected by the downpour and they would need assistance from the wider rural community.

“Federated Farmers is seeking assistance with feed and grazing,” he said. . . 

NZ the home of real free-range meat – Rod Slater:

The arrival of alternative proteins creates an opportunity for New Zealand to sell its natural pasture-to-plate story, says Beef + Lamb NZ marketing supremo Rod Slater.

 I want to address a certain issue that’s been driving plenty of chatter, both among those in the industry and those interested in food, our environment and our economy, and that’s the rise of alternative proteins.

There is no denying that this conversation, which is not just isolated to New Zealand, is gaining momentum and given the speed in which our current world operates we have no choice but to take notice of it.

However, I’m a huge believer that in every challenge lies a greater opportunity and I believe that if we adapt at speed we can make the most of the situation facing our industry. . . 

Meat substitutes’ rise a danger to NZ farmers – KPMG – Alexa Cook

New Zealand farmers could be under threat from a rise in plant-based products that mimic animal products such as burger patties, KPMG says.

Its global head of agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, said he has been to Silicon Valley and seen firsthand what alternative proteins were on the menu.

Mr Proudfoot said New Zealand meat and dairy producers needed to identify what level of risk the products presented for their industry and plan accordingly.

The threat of vegetarian alternatives to meat products was looming as companies were beginning to create products that would genuinely appeal to consumers, Mr Proudfoot said. . . 

Dairy beef profitable for beef and dairy – Allan Barber:

For well over 20 years one of the largest challenges in the meat industry has been dairy farmers’ lack of recognition of the opportunity to make more money from their calves by selling them to calf rearers for beef production. There have always been calf rearers willing to stick their neck out and buy calves, but this was highly dependent on both beef and milk price. But for dairy farmers it was easier to select their replacement heifers and put the rest on the bobby calf truck, rather than find rearers to take the bull calves or keep them on the farm for up to three months.

The importance of dairy beef has been inevitable ever since the dairy industry started to increase in size at the expense of the sheep and beef industry which was forced to retreat further up the hillside to land unsuitable for other farming types. 70% of cattle born in New Zealand are born on the dairy farm and dairy cows now outnumber beef cows by about five to one which makes it essential to encourage the dairy industry to assume a significant role in breeding replacement beef cattle. . . 

New Zealand Landcare Trust regional coordinator Annette Litherland ready for top of the south challenge – Jeffrey Kitt:

They are big shoes to fill after 18 years, but Annette Litherland says she is determined to continue the fight for farmers and the environment.

Annette has taken over as the New Zealand Landcare Trust regional co-ordinator for Nelson and Marlborough, taking the top job from Barbara Stuart following her retirement.

Barbara worked for the trust since 1999, finding her niche in helping farmers reduce their impact on the land and seeing a huge shift in attitudes about sustainability. . . 

LIC full year results announcement:

Farmer-owned co-operative, Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited (NZX: LIC), announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2017.

As forecast in the half year result in February, LIC has returned to a modest level of profitability in the 2016-2017 year.

Strong performance in its core services of artificial breeding and herd testing, and a reduction in operating costs across the business all contributed to a positive result and a return in value to all shareholders. . . 

Great progress with PEFC Eco-Certification of NZ forest practices:

Illegal forest management practices are a global problem. Governments and markets around the world are increasingly requiring proof of legality for harvested wood products. This has created a demand for labelling and endorsement of sustainably managed and legally harvested forest and wood products.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an eco-certification system that is recognised as providing assurance of legality and sustainability and is increasingly required for access to some of NZ’s major markets. . . 

Agricultural Census a valuable resource to farmers and wider primary sector:

This year’s Agricultural Production Census is an important survey that assists all farmers and the primary sector says Federated Farmers.

Farmers are generally bombarded with questionnaires and surveys and replying can be time consuming, but the Federation recommends that members take time to fill in the census and answer the questions accurately.

The compulsory survey, conducted every five years by Statistics New Zealand, is a valuable outlet for monitoring industry trends and a resource used by local authorities. . . 

Australian MPs visit to discuss biosecurity and water use efficiency:

A delegation from the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources is visiting New Zealand 23-27 July 2017. The visit is part of an annual exchange of select committees between New Zealand and Australian Parliaments.

New Zealand’s Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter, is pleased to host this visit.

“The Australia-New Zealand agriculture and science relationship is very significant. This visit will enable the parliamentary delegation to cover important inquiry topics for Australia with New Zealand’s Primary Production Committee members as well as New Zealand academic, farming and business sectors. It is an opportunity to share information of mutual benefit.” . . 

Government funding wetland enhancement project:

Hohepa Hawke’s Bay has been awarded nearly $175,000 from the Government’s Community Environment Fund to restore and increase a wetland adjacent to the Taipo Stream in Napier, Associate Minister Scott Simpson announced today.

Hohepa Hawke’s Bay is owned by the Hohepa Homes Trust, which has provided homes, education and vocational services in Hawke’s Bay to people with intellectual disabilities since 1957.

“The wetland is an important natural habitat for many native and endangered species. The two-year Lower Taipo Stream Environmental Enhancement project will increase the wetland by at least 6 hectares, providing additional habitat for the nationally endangered matuku or Australasian bittern,” Mr Simpson says. . . 

It’s not all gold for some kiwifruit growers:

Despite what people might believe, some kiwifruit growers are a long way from recovering from the 2010 Psa-V outbreak which devastated the kiwifruit industry in New Zealand, Te Puke kiwifruit grower Alistair Reese said today.

“It really concerns me that a lot of the commentary about the kiwifruit industry is that Sun Gold (“G3”) has been the ‘saviour’ post PSA, and that the industry is now doing very well because of the new varieties. . . 

Can New Zealand repeat stellar success in 2017 Sydney International Wine Competition? Entries invited from NZ wineries for 38th Competition:

New Zealand wineries are expected to holder even greater sway in this year’s Sydney International Wine Competition, following the huge success of Kiwi producers in the 2017 judging.

Entries for this year’s Competition – the only international wine show that judges all its finalists in combination with appropriate food – can be made up till 15 September, with judging in mid-October and provisional award and trophy winners notified by the end of October. . . 


Rural round-up

December 23, 2016

Probe of shot-calf incident  – Shannon Gillies:

Police are investigating the brutal death of a bobby calf near Waimate at the weekend.

The calf was found at the side of a road on Sunday morning, apparently shot five times and struck by a vehicle.

Dan Studholme, on whose property near Waimate the calf had been grazing, said it was apparent the calf did not die instantly from its wounds.

Mr Studholme was called by a forestry worker who discovered the calf. Then a vet and the police were called.

Rifle round casings were found lying near the dead animal, which had been shot in the leg, stomach and jaw. . .

New tools needed to ensure pollination – Maureen Bishop:

Breeding flies to act as pollinators, fitting queen bumblebees with radio transmitters, and preloading honeybees with pollen. These are all methods being trialled to increase the range of crop pollinators.
New Zealand crop industries need a box of new tools to ensure sufficient pollination into the future, a pollination scientist told the audience at the Foundation for Arable Research’s field day at Chertsey on December 7.

Dr David Pattemore, of Plant & Food Research, said scientists were seeking new methods of crop pollination for industries such as avocado, kiwifruit and other agricultural crops. . . 

Kakanui River finds new support group :

North Otago’s Kakanui River, the subject of a three-year community programme that finished in October, has a new champion.

The North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group (NOSLaM) has taken over from the Kakanui Community Catchment Project to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and increase biodiversity. The project was funded by the Ministry for the Environment’s  and the New Zealand Landcare Trust, with support from the North Otago Irrigation Company, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Ravensdown.

NOSLaM chairman Peter Mitchell said the group had held meetings and made funding applications so it could continue the progress already made. . . 

Support for Gisborne conservation work:

Four ambitious conservation projects in Gisborne have received $78,000 in support from the DOC Community Fund, Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner have announced.

The projects range from weed eradication on Gisborne’s Titirangi Maunga to protecting wild kiwi in Maungataniwha and represent the best of community conservation, the Ministers say.

“Each of the groups is helping wage the War on Weeds and protect native species from introduced predators and invasive plants,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Kaikōura Cheese keeps going after quake – Max Towle:

Immediately after the Canterbury earthquakes, Daniel and Sarah Jenkins decided to pack up everything they own and move from Christchurch to Kaikōura.

A year later they fulfilled their dream and were cheese making, and eventually opened a shop, Kaikōura Cheese, on the main street.

Last month, when the shaking started again, they were hit with a severe case of deja vu and are only now starting to get their business rolling again. . . 

Fridge stoush over, copyright claim continues: Lewis Road claims partial victory over Fonterra – Ellen Read:

Boutique dairy producer Lewis Road Creamery is claiming a partial victory in its battle with dairy giant Fonterra and is praising social media for the outcome.

The two have been at odds for several weeks over the similarity of labelling on Fonterra’s new Kapiti premium milk range to Lewis Road bottles, as well as who has access to what shelf space in Foodstuffs’ New World and Pak ‘n Save supermarket fridges.

Co-founder Peter Cullinane said on Thursday that his lawyers received a letter from Fonterra lawyers late on Wednesday that showed Fonterra had updated plans it had been making to take up to 97.5 per cent of the supermarket shelf space meaning it was “business as usual” for all suppliers now. . . 

Will the Prime Minister accept Sir David’s challenge?

The challenges for a new Prime Minister are many and varied.

Over the last two weeks Bill English has negotiated a successful leadership campaign to succeed former Prime Minister John Key and a cabinet reshuffle, but now he faces a challenge of a unique kind.

Speaking with Jamie Mackay on NZME’s The Country radio farming show yesterday, Sir David Fagan, the world’s most decorated shearer and a member of the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships’ Organising Committee, laid an invitation at the new Prime Minister’s feet.

“Our new Prime Minister, I know he can shear. I’ve seen him shear at Lumsden many, many years ago at the Full wool Champs. Now there is a challenge for you Jamie, to get our new Prime Minister to shear a sheep down there.” Sir David said. But he didn’t stop there. . . 

Soils, climate, proximity key to new Marlborough vineyard development as sheep farm sold – Mike Watson:

A long-established Marlborough sheep farm has become the latest pastoral property in the region to be sold for vineyard development.

Vendor Mostyn Wadsworth has been a mainstay on the Northbank of the Wairau Valley for the past 33 years.

The Wadsworth family has farmed in the area for nearly a century. . . 


Rural round-up

August 25, 2016

Is it normal to tie a cow to a tractor?:

When a concerned citizen saw a cow chained to a tractor in Southland, they thought it was odd enough to ring police about.

But instead of being an animal welfare issue, the case turned out to be a common(ish) farming practice.

It was Sunday afternoon when the police station phone rang – the caller having just seen the bovine suspended in its field along Gore’s Waikaka Rd. Officers were told the animal couldn’t get food or water, and the owner was nowhere to be seen.

The matter was referred to animal control.

Though what looked like cruelty was in fact the opposite, the farmer says – insisting it’s a life-saving measure. . . 

Forestry industry must remain vigilant about health and safety:

WorkSafe New Zealand says the latest forestry death in Hawkes Bay is a sad reminder to the industry of the need to remain vigilant about health and safety.

Monday’s death follows three earlier confirmed forestry fatalities so far this year, and is the second death in the Pohakura Forest.

“It is obviously concerning to see two deaths in the one forest within a matter of months. Any deaths are a tragedy for family, friends and co-workers and the wider community,” says WorkSafe’s chief executive Gordon MacDonald. . . 

Picton predator-free group targets less than 5 per cent pests by 2020 – Mike Watson:

A Picton group that pre-empted the Government’s predator-free push by 12 months plans to create a line of defence surrounding the entire town.

Volunteer group Picton Dawn Chorus has already started setting 150 traps, or a trap every 100 metres, on public walkways in the town’s Victoria Domain to kill rats, stoats and possums.

The next step is to set more than 700 traps in private gardens and outlying coastal and bush areas, eventually covering an expected 2000 hectares. . . 

Videos Highlight Sustainable Deer Farming:

NZ Landcare Trust has been working with deer farmers to capture examples of excellent sustainable land and water management from around the country. This information has been distilled into fifteen short videos that are now available to view online. The final five videos from Waikato and Southland join the ten previously released (Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury) to create an informative video based resource.

NZ Landcare Trust’s Regional Coordinator Janet Gregory said, “I’d like to thank the deer farmers who welcomed us onto their properties. They have taken the time to share some of the good management practices that they have put in place on their respective properties, demonstrating a proactive approach to addressing issues around the environment and water quality.” . . 

Interest in dairy sheep builds :

The dairy sheep industry is gaining traction as a viable alternative to traditional land uses, say rural property experts.

As the ability to convert to dairying faces greater challenges on environmental and economic fronts, the option of leaving the land as a milking sheep unit is coming into focus for farmers in regions like Southland and central North Island.

Invercargill-based Bayleys rural consultant Hayden McCallum says his patch of New Zealand’s rural landscape offers some significant opportunities for milking sheep, given its well established sheep sector and strong pastoral property base. . . 

Farm life in Taradise – Brad Markham:

Have you ever slipped your hand inside a cow having difficulty calving, felt two large front feet, and thought ‘I’m going to need a lot of lube to get this one out’? I’ve had to deliver a few monster calves this winter. Several were almost half my body weight. I often joke that semen from a certain bull with a reputation for producing huge calves, should come with a complementary container of lube. . . 

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Rural round-up

May 28, 2016

Westland ups its payout prediction for the coming season:

New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative Westland Milk Products has released a budget for the 2016-17 dairy season of $4.55 – $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS).

Payout for the current season will be in the range of $3.80 – $3.90 per kgMS.

Westland will also start its payout advance payments for the 2016-17 season at $3.80 per kgMS, payable 20 September 2016. . . 

Westland tops Fonterra – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers received cold comfort when Fonterra announced a low forecast milk price of $4.25/kg milksolids for the new season from June 1, with an advance rate beginning at $3.01.

Analysts’ expectations had been for an opening price of $4.60 or more, as well as some upside when world product prices steadily improved as expected towards the end of 2016.

They said Fonterra seemed to base its opening forecast on spot market prices and not the generally expected improving trend. . .

Farm profits help rural students get ahead – Kate Taylor:

A hill country farm east of Dannevirke has helped hundreds of young people with their tertiary studies. Kate Taylor visited to find out how.

Sheep and beef farmer Max Buckendahl has called the Weber district home for almost three decades but when his 30th anniversary rolls around next year he’s off to see the country.

Together with partner Lynn Moss and a fifth-wheeler artic truck caravan, he’s going to work (and fish) in the warmer climates of Northland for half the year and travel New Zealand for the other half.

“There’s no particular reason to go now but I wanted to stay here 30 years first,” he says. . . 

Silver Fern Farms:Details of Special Meeting:

• Special Meeting date set for Monday, 11 July 2016

Dunedin 27 May 2016: Silver Fern Farms has today settled the statement from two of the 80 requisitioners, in a form that Silver Fern Farms is willing to include in its Notice of Meeting, and has set a date of Monday 11 July to hold the Special Meeting.

The Board has received a statement from two of the 80 requisitioners and notes that the original 80 requisitioners sought a meeting of shareholders to consider: . . 

Silver Fern shareholders to vote again on Shanghai Maling deal in July – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Shareholders of meat processor Silver Fern Farms will have a second vote on whether to approve its planned tie-up with China’s Shanghai Maling Aquarius in July, though the board intends to go ahead with the deal irrespective of the outcome.

The cooperative today set the meeting for July 11 in Dunedin where shareholders will vote on approving the proposed partnership and restructure, where the Chinese firm takes 50 percent ownership of the meat processor in return for $261 million of cash, a special dividend, and funds to bankroll the cooperative for seven years. Shareholders backed the deal in October, but John Shrimpton and Blair Gallagher, representing a group of 80 shareholders, have since sought a special meeting to effectively reconsider the transaction. . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes Freshwater Improvement Fund:

Federated Farmers is commending the Government on a new $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund to aid communities investment in solutions for water quality in New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and groundwater supplies, announced in yesterday’s budget.

Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen says the fund will help communities achieve desired water quality outcomes sooner.

“It’s going to take innovative thinking, time and money to get to the level of water quality our communities aspire too,” he said. . . 

TB continues to be challenge for next decade:

Funding for TB control is less than it has been in the past but Federated Farmers is confident the new programme will continue to make progress with a more efficient spend of the money.

Federated Farmers OSPRI (TB Free NZ) spokesman Anders Crofoot said: “The amended TB Plan is a shift in approach from containing the disease to active eradication in livestock and wildlife. To date we’ve been successful at removing TB from large areas of New Zealand. This means with improved operational efficiencies and targeted work, enabled by advances in modelling we should see new TB Plan targets achieved.

The programme carried out by OSPRI will aim to eradicate bovine TB from cattle and deer by 2026, and from TB-infected wildlife in New Zealand by 2055. . . 

Government Support for Landcare:

Yesterday’s Budget marks a return to stable base-line funding for the work of NZ Landcare Trust.

The Minister for the Environment is responsible for financial appropriations for the 2016/17 financial year which include approximately $27 million for grants to third parties for water initiatives, environmental management and education programmes.

A specific appropriation identified within ‘Vote Environment’ has been established for the promotion of sustainable land management practice through a national network of coordinators. These funds are available due to the reprioritisation of $800,000 from the Community Environment Fund. This transfer reflects joint Ministers’ decision to fund the NZ Landcare Trust activities for 2016/17 and out years. No expiry date for this resourcing commitment has been set and it is identified as an on-going commitment. . . 

DairyNZ’s commitment to supporting dairy farmers:

Industry body DairyNZ is committed to supporting dairy farmers following the announcement by Fonterra of an opening forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $4.25 per kgMS for the 2016-17 season.

“The $4.25 per kgMS is not a surprise, although the particularly low opening advance rate of $2.50 per kgMS plus capacity adjustment is tough for farmers who will find the winter particularly difficult,” says DairyNZ chief executive, Tim Mackle. “This is the lowest opening advance rate in at least the last 14 years.

“The break-even milk income required for the average farmer is $5.25 per kgMS, yet under this forecast scenario they’ll only be receiving $4.45 per kgMS all up in terms of farm income, including retro payments from last season and dividends. . .

PwC supports NZ Milk Futures to manage milk price risk:

The NZX today launched a NZ Milk Futures contract that will eventually provide the opportunity for large and small dairy farmers to proactively risk manage milk price movements and volatility.

“The new futures contract essentially replaces, and considerably enhances, the Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) contract previously offered by Fonterra,” says Roger Kerr, PwC Partner and Treasury Advisor.

“While the new futures contract has been expected, it will need support from the market to ensure its viability. This means that industry players with resources available to make this commitment, should be encouraged to participate,” says Mr Kerr. . .


Rural round-up

May 12, 2016

Gentle giants deliver the meat – Kate Taylor:

A Pahiatua farmer is pleased his family dairy farm is still in the family because it allows him to enjoy his passion for south devon cattle. Kate Taylor paid him a visit.

Pahiatua south devon breeder Mark Eagle talks enthusiastically about the temperament of his “gentle giants”.

We pride ourselves on breeding cattle with quiet temperaments and a decent strong, meaty carcass,” he says.

Mark and Di Eagle and their Kaimoa South Devon Stud can be found on the 230-hectare Chessfield Farm in the Mangaone Valley about 11 kilometres south east of Pahiatua. Their annual bull sale is on May 23. . .

Farmers think about the future at Federated Farmers Southland meeting – Brittany Pickett:

Primary industries production remains crucial in Southland’s future.

That was the message given to farmers at the Federated Farmers annual meeting on Wednesday at Bill Richardson Transport World.

Speakers and leaders had farmers thinking about what farming in Southland would be like within the next 10 years.

Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird said his desire for the future would be to have a healthy environment alongside a growth in production. . . 

Views on animal welfare heard across the country:

Close to 500 people attended six public meetings across the country, to express views on animal welfare.

MPI is currently seeking feedback on 85 proposed animal welfare regulations and took to the road as part of the five week consultation. The proposals set out tougher rules around animal management and would put new fines and infringements in place.

Director of Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Julie Collins has been pleased with the amount of feedback MPI had received to date. . . 

Solar powered pump sells to 20 countries:

A central Hawke’s Bay company has signed a deal to sell its solar powered water pump in 20 countries.

Isaacs Electrical launched its ePump last December, and strong demand nationally and internationally has led to it signing a major distribution partnership with Waikato Milking Systems.

The ePump can pump up to 20 litres of water per minute in daylight hours, and for a distance of up to 120 metres, making it ideal for use in remote locations. . . 

Waikato forum: what dairy can learn from kiwifruit crisis:

Dairy farmers facing the industry’s lowest milk price in years will this month hear lessons learnt by the kiwifruit industry when Psa struck in 2010.

“We are different industries, but we are still people. One looks after animals, one looks after plants – but we are people, we have passion, we have drive, we earn our income and live our lifestyles this way,” says Ian Greaves, kiwifruit industry representative.

The kiwifruit vine disease, Psa, devastated all Gold kiwifruit orchards across the Bay of Plenty but also affected Green, with many growers only now getting their first or second crop since it occurred. . . 

Battle for our birds 2016:

The largest pest control operation in New Zealand’s history will be launched this winter in response to a pest plague which threatens vulnerable native wildlife, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

Battle for our Birds 2016 will receive $20.7 million in new operating funding for 2015/16 from this month’s Budget, helping to fight back against an expected pest population boom caused by a heavy forest seeding, or mast.

“DOC scientists have confirmed the seed fall predicted last year has eventuated,” Ms Barry says. “We must respond if we’re to protect our native birds and animals from the threat – and the funding will enable DOC to achieve this.”

This autumn around a million tonnes of beech seed will drop to the forest floor, providing a bonanza of food for rats and causing their population to boom.

“As rats increase due to the readily-available food source, so will the number of stoats which feed on rats,” Ms Barry says. “Once the seeds germinate and the food source disappears in early spring, the plague of millions of starving rats and tens of thousands of hungry stoats will turn on native wildlife, bringing disaster if we do nothing.” . . 

Welcome to New Trustee from Rural Women NZ:

This months meeting of NZ Landcare Trust’s Board of Trustees will see a new face at the table, as Fiona Gower takes over from Liz Evans as the representative for Rural Women New Zealand.

NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr Nick Edgar said, “On behalf of Trust staff I’d like to welcome Fiona to the Board of Trustees. Fiona’s extensive knowledge of rural issues and her understanding of community involvement will be a real asset.”

Fiona is looking forward to the new role. “With the growing importance, emphasis and pressure on freshwater in New Zealand, organisations such as NZ Landcare Trust will play an increasingly important role in achieving positive outcomes for our land and water resources, and I am looking forward to being a part of that journey,” Fiona added. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 24, 2015

Groser: TPPA not a gold-plated deal – Patrick Smellie:

New Zealand negotiators expect to conclude a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) deal with some improved access for dairy exports to the highly protected markets of North America and Japan but it won’t be a “gold-plated deal”, says Trade Minister Tim Groser.

He acknowledged that comments from Prime Minister John Key on Monday, that whatever deal was achieved would be “at least the very best we can do”, had been interpreted as a sign of a poor deal on dairy in the offing.

But Mr Groser told BusinessDesk that New Zealand negotiators weren’t in “capitulation mode”. . . 

No drought-breaker but ‘darn good help‘:

A farmer in the heart of the North Canterbury drought is welcoming the rain currently falling in parts of the region, describing it as a good morale boost for many farmers.

Vince Daly runs a 160 hectare cropping farm in Cheviot. He said the NIWA weather station on his farm showed the soil moisture level on his farm has gone from 32 percent to 37 percent this week so far. Normally it is at 100 percent at this time of year.

Mr Daly said 43 millimetres of rain had fallen but farmers further inland have, so far, not been so lucky. . . 

Aorere Wins NZ RiverPrize:

NZ Landcare Trust’s Aorere River Project won the inaugural Morgan Foundation NZ Riverprize at the International Riversymposium Gala Dinner in Brisbane last night.

Richard Thompson Chair of NZ Landcare Trust’s Board of Trustees said “What a fantastic result for the Trust and the Aorere community. This is an amazing result given the strength of the competition… it really underlines the value of this project and the work carried out by NZ Landcare Trust.”

NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr Nick Edgar accepted the award on behalf of the Aorere River Initiative. “I think this is a real victory for community-led grassroots river management in New Zealand. Without the Aorere river community, the story really wouldn’t have happened.” . . 

Rural areas feeling agricultural sector slowdown:

Almost a third of businesses in regions see revenues fall

Three quarters of agricultural businesses expect economy to decline

Businesses in New Zealand’s rural areas are already feeling the effects of a significant slowdown for the agricultural sector, according the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey of over 1000 businesses nationwide, which includes over 200 rural SMEs.

Over the last 12 months, just 18 per cent of rurally-based SME operators have seen their revenue rise, compared to the SME average of 31 per cent. Almost a third (32 per cent) have seen revenue decline in the year to August 2015 (25 per cent SME average). . . 

Fonterra director Farrelly replaces Norris on Fund board – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group director Ian Farrelly will replace Ralph Norris as one of the dairy exporter’s representatives on the board of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund manager.

Farrelly will join the board of the fund’s manager at the close of its annual meeting on Nov.27 when Norris retires, Fonterra said in a statement. Farrelly has been on the board of Fonterra since 2007, having clocked up a 20-year career in banking including 15 years as head of ASB Bank’s rural division. He operates a 400-hectare calf rearing farm in Te Awamutu and has dairy farm interests in Canterbury and Waikato. . .

Lasers: the transformation to come –  Lynley Hargreaves:

Cather Simpson wants every child and parent in New Zealand to know the word photonics – and to consider photonics science or engineering as a career. An Associate Professor at the University of Auckland and Director of the Photon Factory, she’s worked on problems as diverse as robotic surgery and sorting dairy herd sperm by sex. Now as part of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, Associate Professor Simpson is working to give school children, and the general public, a glimpse of the future of laser manufacturing.  . . 

Official start of new PGP lamb programme:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official start of a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme involving premium quality lamb products.

“The ‘Targeting New Wealth with High Health’ PGP programme aims to reach existing and emerging markets with a new class of premium lamb products with improved health qualities,” says Mr Guy.

“This is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It will help our producers tap further into the increasing demand for premium and healthy foods, and add value to our exports. . . 

Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly (NZ) – September 2015:

Rabobank’s Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key highlights
Agribusiness Monthly

Dairy – Global commodity prices have shown signs of recovery in recent weeks, as international buyers look for short-term cover, given that prices appear to have reached a floor.

Beef – Steady demand from the US continues to fuel farmgate prices, with record levels reached this September (NZD 6.10/kg cwt). Prices have edged up 33% from last year, supported by seasonal tightening of supplies.

Sheepmeat – Farmgate prices have continued to improve into September 2015, with supply tightening heading into lambing season. . . 


Rural round-up

May 30, 2015

Ahuwhenua Trophy winner congratulated:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell have tonight congratulated Mangaroa Station, this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy winner.

Mangaroa Station was presented with the 2015 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award at an awards dinner tonight in Whanganui.

“The owners of Mangaroa Station set a fantastic example to other Māori landowners of what can be achieved through ambition and hard work,” says Mr Guy.

“They’ve created a successful family-run farm and sustainably developed their land for future generations.” . . .

Farmers confronting second season of low dairy payouts:

Federated Farmers says the latest Fonterra $5.25 payout prediction for farmers for next season is a signal that the low payment this year is not a one off.

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says a more immediate impact will be felt from a further 10 cents a kilo reduction in the current season payout down to $4.40.

“This will make it really tough for farmers managing their cashflows through the low winter months with the likelihood of little or no retro payments helping to smooth out that cashflow.”

Hoggard notes Fonterra’s advance rate of $3.66 isn’t scheduled to pick up to $4.17 until February 2016, for the milk produced in January. . .

Swede survey results show multiple factors to manage:

Industry body DairyNZ is advising farmers to focus on managing a number of factors involved in feeding swedes this season, including the proportion of swede that makes up the diet of their cows.

In the wake of preliminary analysis of an in-depth farmer survey, DairyNZ’s Southland/South Otago regional leader Richard Kyte says farmers have been advised<http://www.dairynz.co.nz/swedes> of its key findings including that cow ill-health increased last season as the proportion of swedes fed as part of the total diet increased. Feeding swedes on the milking platform (farm) in spring when cows approached calving and early lactation also increased the incidence of ill-health. . .

Agri-event to strengthen links between research and industry:

On the eve of Fieldays, the University of Waikato will host agri-stakeholders at an event to showcase its latest research and strengthen links with the agricultural industry. It features a presentation on the importance of soils, a panel discussion on how industry can work with Waikato, and the presentation of the 2015 New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays Sir Don Llewellyn Scholarship prize.

The importance of soils

University of Waikato soil expert, Professor Louis Schipper, will discuss how we can improve the environmental outcomes of farming by looking at the use of soils to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and approaches to help reduce nitrogen losses to waterways. . .

Growing knowledge through collaboration:

A collaborative workshop to help food producers gain specialist knowledge and skills was held at Lincoln University yesterday.

Entitled “Growing You”, it is part of a series covering topics such as sustainable weed management and sustainable pest and disease management, and was a joint effort of the University, MG Marketing, and the Lincoln-based Biological Husbandry Unit (BHU) and Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC).

MG Marketing is a co-operative organisation with over 90 years of growing, distributing and selling fresh vegetables and fruit. . .

Blue cod fishery consultation launch:

Consultation on new proposals to manage the blue cod fishery in the Marlborough Sounds will begin on 2 June.

The Blue Cod Management Group, which developed these proposals, is made up of recreational and commercial fishing representatives and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Group spokesperson, Eric Jorgensen, says the proposals were developed following feedback from the community and an analysis of the science earlier this year.

“Our goal is a sustainable fishery for the current and future generations. Your feedback on these proposals will help us arrive at the best way forward. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Using Online Tool to Engage with More Sheep And Beef Farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has launched a new interactive communication tool, “Farmers’ Voice” to provide another way to engage with sheep and beef farmers and provide a forum for them to share information with each other.

B+LNZ chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said Farmers’ Voice will be accessed through the B+LNZ website atbeeflambnz.com/farmersvoice and would be another way to get information to farmers and receive feedback on topical issues. It is designed to complement existing face-to-face, print, radio and electronic channels used by B+LNZ.

“As an online forum, Farmers’ Voice provides the opportunity to post stories and videos, follow blogs, have online conversations and run quick polls on a topical question. . .

Pomahaka Project Scales Up:

Following the success of a one year scoping exercise NZ Landcare Trust has secured nearly $150,000 from MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund to facilitate a catchment scale project within the Pomahaka catchment. With support from Pomahaka Farmers Water Care Group and the Pomahaka Stakeholders Group the ‘Pathway for the Pomahaka’ project will utilise and showcase industry tools that demonstrate the benefits of good farm management practices on water quality. . .

Finer Wools Firm, Coarse Wools Ease:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that continued shipping pressure for China kept Finer Crossbreds firm however coarse wools eased as volumes available increase.

The weighted indicator remained unchanged compared to the last sale on 21st May.

Of the 8,900 bales on offer, 94 percent sold. . .


Rural round-up

March 11, 2015

Federated Farmers receives threat to contaminate dairy infant formula product:

Federated Farmers has confirmed it has received a threat to sabotage New Zealand infant formula with the pesticide 1080.

The anonymous letter was received at Federated Farmers Wellington offices in late November.  It was addressed to the Chief Executive Graham Smith.

The letter was accompanied by an enclosed plastic bag containing a powder.

Federated Farmers gave the letter and bag to the Police. . .

Fonterra Acknowledges Threat Investigation:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited acknowledges the announcement by the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Government about an investigation into a criminal threat relating to the Government’s use of Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) poison as pest control to protect the country’s native flora and fauna.

The Government said today that there was no health risk to consumers. It has assessed the likelihood of the threat being carried out as ‘extremely low’. For further information please go to: http://www.foodprotection.govt.nz

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the criminal threat targeted New Zealand and the entire dairy industry. . .

Westland says its products are safe:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative, says there is no evidence that the safety of its products has been compromised by a threat to contaminate infant and other dairy formula with sodium monoflouroacetate (1080).

CEO Rod Quin says, “We are very confident that our products are secure while within our manufacturing and distribution systems,” he says. . .

 

Synlait Milk confident in its food safety systems:

Synlait Milk is confident that its food safety systems and security standards protect the integrity of its products.

They have been specifically designed to protect against threats such as that announced today by the New Zealand Police and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Managing Director Dr. John Penno.

“Food safety and product quality is our highest priority. Our standards and systems reflect this,” said Dr. Penno. . .

NZ infant formula among safest in world:

Mothers in New Zealand and around the world can be assured that infant formula sourced in New Zealand is among the safest available anywhere, says the Infant Nutrition Council.

Chief Executive Jan Carey deplored the anonymous threats made to Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

She says infant formula manufacturers and exporters in New Zealand have full confidence in the safety of their products and in the security of their manufacturing processes.

“These products made in New Zealand are safe and always have been safe.

“We are absolutely confident about the safety of infant formula manufacturing in New Zealand and the products sold in supermarkets. . .

Nominations Open for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards 2015:

Nominations are now open for this annual event that champions the country’s top performing sheep farmers, breeders, and industry innovators.

The fourth Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards will take place in Invercargill on Wednesday 1 July 2015.

“It’s fitting that the New Zealand sheep industry recognises and rewards its top performers, and in doing so profiles the significant contribution it makes to the New Zealand economy,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive, Dr Scott Champion.

“Productivity levels have improved dramatically over the past 20. Lambing percentages are 20 per cent higher than they were in 1995, and lamb carcase weights are up 28 per cent. . .

 Future of Farming – NZ Landcare Trust:

Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and current Chair of WWF-NZ Dr Morgan Williams was the guest speaker at a recent Community Catchment Management Workshop organised by NZ Landcare Trust in Murchison. The programme also included presentations from community farming representatives, who highlighted the benefits and successes of community involvement within projects in this region.

Dr Williams began by voicing his support for the work rural communities are doing in sustainable catchment management projects, before outlining his perspectives on broader global and national issues shaping agriculture. . .

 

Career Changes Clean-up in Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The three major winners in the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards had all switched careers to dairy farming in recent years.

The 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Evan and Jan Billington had been in the New Zealand Police and teaching until seven years ago, while the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, James Foote, had been a professional rugby player, and the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Royce King, was a plumber and gas fitter. . .

 All-Rounder Wins Waikato Dairy Awards Title:

The 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Aaron Price, has it all – he’s a young, fit, professional, married man with a plan. He’s also persistent and great to have in the community.

Mr Price, aged 29 years, took out the major title at last night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, with his win netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Claudelands Events Centre were Paul and Kate Manion, the 2015 Waikato Farm Managers of the Year, and Brett Steeghs, the Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Housing cows not the only way to increase production –  Wayne McNee:

The recent visit by Professor Aalt Dijkhuizen, the president of Topsector Agri and Food in the Netherlands, raised some interested points about how New Zealand dairy farmers can learn from their Dutch counterparts.

But there was a flaw in his argument – profitability and efficiency did not seem to feature highly.

The two go hand in hand here. Profit is the ultimate goal for New Zealand dairy farmers, regardless of the system or technology utilised.

The best way to make a profit is by breeding animals that will efficiently, and repeatedly, convert feed into quality, high-value milk. . .

 Fledgling agri-food course whetting student appetites:

A new multi-disciplinary degree course taking food production beyond the farm gate and onto the world stage is experiencing 150 per cent growth in new enrolment numbers in only the second year it has been offered at Lincoln University.

Developed to meet the needs of an industry decrying a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain the Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree (B.AFM) has gone from 20 students in 2014 to 50 students this year.

It is one of the success stories at Lincoln University’s Te Waihora campus which has seen good growth in new student enrolments in 2015, both for New Zealand and international students. . .

Moving stock? Think about your Theileria risks:

Industry body DairyNZ is warning farmers to assess the risks to their herds from the tick-borne disease Theileria if they are moving stock this autumn and winter.
.
DairyNZ veterinarian and technical policy advisor, Nita Harding, says stock out at grazing such as heifers that will be coming onto the farm could pose a risk, or be at risk of Theileria, depending on the situation on farm.

Nita says farmers can help the industry and veterinarians manage and prevent the spread of the disease if they are moving cattle between Theileria zones this season. . .

Giesen stamps mark in China:

Giesen Wines is earning a growing following in China, where it has been exporting for the past five years.

Its wines recently won acclaim at China’s largest and most prestigious wine competition, CWSA (China Wines & Spirits Awards), which brings together winemakers from all over the world to compete in a blind tasting. Giesen’s haul included a trophy, two double golds, five golds, and it was named the CWSA Marlborough Winery of the Year.

General manager Kyle Skene said Giesen’s total wine portfolio is exported to China, including Giesen Estate, The Brothers (Reserve) and Single Vineyard series. Its wines are sold across 12 Chinese cities and seven provinces. . . .


Rural round-up

November 21, 2014

Canterbury’s Patoa Farms wins South Island Farmer of the Year for 2014:

Patoa Farms Ltd, a large scale free-farmed pig breeding and finishing operation at Hawarden in North Canterbury, has won the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition for 2014.

The finals held yesterday evening at Lincoln University saw four very high calibre entrants vie for the top prize of a $20,000 travel grant for business study.

Foundation Chief Judge Nicky Hyslop said Steve and Josie Sterne, with daughter Holly Sterne, edged out stiff competition with their impressive growth, technical excellence, efficiency of production and strategic focus. They demonstrated that it was possible to achieve at the highest levels of farming technology and business management in an outdoor free-roaming stock operation. . .

Federated Farmers leader wants farmers to report rural crimes:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Industry Group Chair Rick Powdrell says farmers aren’t diligent enough in reporting stock thefts from their properties.

“Unfortunately they might think the police aren’t interested or are too hard pressed to investigate,” he told the Meat and Fibre Council meeting in Wellington today.

“Federated Farmers surveyed members and our farmers have told us they don’t bother to report almost two-thirds of stock thefts.” . . .

CEO Successful Fellow:

NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr. Nick Edgar has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Dr Edgar’s Churchill Fellowship will involve examining local food system initiatives in Connecticut and Vermont, USA, that are creating economic and environmental improvement opportunities for farmers, producers and consumers.

In June 2013 Dr Edgar participated in a knowledge exchange workshop between land and water professionals from New Zealand and Vermont that was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The workshop was focused on managing agricultural non-point source pollution, in particular, comparing the different policy, research and farm-based approaches being implemented between New Zealand and Vermont. Vermont was chosen for a comparison with New Zealand due to similarities in that State’s reliance on both agriculture and tourism to support its economy. A situation closely mirrored in New Zealand. . .

Dairy Awards Secures Future in Industry:

Participating in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards has turned dreams into reality for the 2014 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year, Nick Bertram.

“I am pretty happy as we know that we have got job security in the dairy industry. We are 100% going 50:50 sharemilking. Entering the dairy awards has made our dreams become reality,” Mr Bertram says.

Entries are now being accepted online at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz in the 2015 awards programme, including the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

All entries close on November 30. . . .

Wealthy Waikato farmers stonewall ‘foreign’ ownership:

Waikato dairying and grazing blocks going on the market for sale are remaining under the ownership of ‘local’ farmers who are far better financially resourced than their counterparts from other New Zealand provinces, according to the latest batch of rural real estate sales data.

Leading agency Bayleys has sold 11 of the 15 diary and grazing farms in the region to have gone under the auctioneer’s hammer over the past two months – with Waikato farmers outbidding hopefuls from Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Southland, and the Bay of Plenty on every occasion.

Bayleys Waikato country manager Mark Dawe said that while ‘out of town’ bidders were active on many of the farms going up for auction, they simply couldn’t foot it financially with the ‘local boys’, in what has been the busiest quarterly sales period since 2007… even with another month of selling days left. . .

Prices surging, but volumes steady in October Rural Property Market:

Summary
Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were three fewer farm sales (-0.9%) for the three months ended October 2014 than for the three months ended October 2013. Overall, there were 346 farm sales in the three months to end of October 2014, compared to 347 farm sales for the three months ended September 2014 (-0.3%) and 349 farm sales for the three months to the end of October 2013. 1,920 farms were sold in the year to October 2014, 17.9% more than were sold in the year to October 2013.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to October 2014 was $27,898 compared to $24,590 recorded for three months ended October 2013 (+13.5%). The median price per hectare rose 7.3% compared to September. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

September 22, 2014

IrrigationNZ sees National’s re-election as opportunity to progress water infrastructure

IrrigationNZ congratulates the National Party on winning the 2014 general election.

“National’s re-election is an opportunity to develop the infrastructure New Zealand needs to provide surety of water for agriculture, town drinking water supply, waterways, recreational use and to future proof the country from climate change,” says Andrew Curtis, CEO of IrrigationNZ.

“The RMA reforms proposed by National will allow irrigation schemes to get up and running without further delay,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ acting Chair.

These schemes include Ruataniwha in the Hawke’s Bay, Hurunui in North Canterbury, Hunter Downs in South Canterbury and the Wairarapa. . .

Telford offers chance to pass on knowledge – Sally Rae:

Having worked in the dairy industries in both Africa and New Zealand, Justin Pigou says they are like ”chalk and cheese”.

Now dairy farm manager at Telford, a division of Lincoln University, in South Otago, Mr Pigou (50) is sharing his experiences in the industry.

Brought up in Zambia, he was from a farming background, which included beef, sheep, tobacco, cropping, maize and soya beans. . .

Glad he joined Young Farmers – Sally Rae:

Clinton Young Farmers Club president Andy Wells believes the skills he has learned through his involvement with the organisation will help him in the future. Photo supplied.

When Cantabrian Andy Wells (28) moved south to farm near Clinton, he thought joining Young Farmers might be a good way to meet people.

Not only had he since made ”a hell of a lot of friends” but he had also made a lot of useful connections.

The skills he gained through his involvement with the organisation would also stand him in good stead in the future, when he hoped to take on other roles in the agricultural sector. After studying environmental management at Lincoln University, Mr Wells headed overseas with a friend. . .

Synlait Milk full-year profit rises 70%, to take 25% stake in New Hope Nutritional – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, which twice cut its earnings forecast, posted earnings growth that met revised guidance and said it plans to take a 25 percent stake Sichuan New Hope Nutritional Foods Co to gain a direct interest in a Chinese infant formula brand.

Profit rose 70 percent to $19.6 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $11.5 million a year earlier, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Sales rose 43 percent to $600 million.

Profit was within the guidance of between $17.5 million and $22.5 million Synlait gave in May, when it said earnings growth would be less than previously forecast because of a strong currency and an unfavourable product mix. Profit still met its prospective financial information (PFI) target. Its shares have fallen 16 percent this year as the NZX 50 Index gained 9 percent and last traded at $3.30, up from its $2.20 listing price last year. . .

Pomahaka catchment plan to manage water quality – Sally Rae,

Janet Gregory is passionate about both farming and the environment; a firm believer the two go ”hand-in-hand”.

One of the biggest challenges at the moment was the public perception of farming and its impact on water quality.

”So many people don’t think farmers care about their water and they do,” Mrs Gregory, who is NZ Landcare Trust Southland regional co-ordinator, said. . .

Primary ITO board member helping to shape the future of training in the arboricultural industry

For Primary ITO board member Richard Wanhill it took him a while to uncover his true passion.

“After school I went overseas, and when I came back to Auckland I started University. I studied a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geography and Geology. But I didn’t really feel it was for me and I dropped out after the first year”, Richard explains.

After almost two years with no real focus and living off the unemployment benefit, Richard spotted an ad in a local newspaper for a trainee arborist.

“I didn’t even know what an arborist was!” Richard laughs. “I had to look it up in the dictionary”.

It was that newspaper ad thay spurred Richard towards a career in arboriculture. . .


Blue better for water than Green

July 30, 2014

Green isn’t the best colour for water, Federated Farmers environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie says:

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for freshwater may not have razzmatazz, but arose from that exercise in consensual collaboration called the Land and Water Forum [LawF].  It was the first time industry, councils, government departments and groups from Federated Farmers to Fish & Game, sat down to openly address water issues and find solutions.

At the heart of the NPS are our regional councils, who have been tasked with maintaining and improving water quality while bringing the poorest water quality up to a national minimum standard.  With next to no exceptions, this policy applies to all water bodies whether they are in town or country. This was an essential part of the LawF consensus and the government chose secondary human contact as the national minimum standard.  All of New Zealand’s top water scientists were involved in this.

The Green Party claim they are advocates for the environment and I would have thought they would have welcomed this important piece of legislation; whose intent is to keep New Zealand’s fresh water as the best in the world.

Being a farmer and with so many conflicting claims about water quality you may be dubious about what I am saying.  For an objective ‘warts and all’ water picture, can I direct you to the Land and Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website at www.lawa.org.nz.  It confirms our water quality is generally good, with many rivers and streams improving thanks to farmers’ efforts at riparian protection.

What we know is that most swimming spots monitored by regional councils over the warmer months are generally satisfactory for swimming.  The Greens often claim “60 percent of our water” is unsafe, but a vast number of sites are affected by urban runoff.  

When poor water standards are mentioned too many people blame farming but some of the worst water quality is in urban areas and the result of urban activities.

Now, the Green Party wants to make all water bodies swimmable.   This is disingenuous because of the sheer difficulty and cost of achieving it.

There are 425,000 kilometres of waterways in New Zealand, which would have to meet those swimming standards, 24 hours a day and 365-days of the year. 

The LAWA website states, “rivers and streams in (or downstream of) urban areas tend to have the poorest water quality (the highest concentrations of nutrients and bacteria, and lowest macroinvertebrate community index (MCI) scores).” This is because all our urban storm water systems are designed to use urban rivers and streams to take away all this run-off.  

The Landcare Trust is running a community project to clean up some of the urban streams that flow into the Tamaki River. Regardless of that effort and enthusiasm they will never be able to stop those streams from being contaminated to the extent that they will become safe for swimming. Think of the 150-page NZ Standard for public swimming pools, “to ensure the risk to public health is minimised.”  Most small schools have had to close their swimming pools because of problems maintaining that and other standards.   Trying to apply that standard to all fresh water bodies is a nonsense. 

This is where the Green Party is disingenuous.

When they say ‘all water bodies,’ they really mean only those in the countryside because they do not wish to alarm their core urban constituency.  The Green Party ignores the huge shift in farmers’ attitude towards environmental stewardship and underplays quantum leaps in management and mitigation of farm nutrients, the fencing of waterways, riparian planting, the strategic application of fertilisers and nutrient budgeting and the effects these are having on improving water quality.  The Greens do not mention that many of the sites NIWA test for its National Rivers Network that fail swimming standards are in fact rivers and lakes affected by urban run off. Instead they continue to blame farmers.

There is still more to be done but the imposition of higher standards by regional councils and improvements in farming practices are making a positive difference in many areas.

Farmers like me acknowledge that there is a lot more work we need to do and the vast majority of us are adopting practices and spending tens of millions of dollars a year which, given time,  will sort out our contribution.  But we are not the sole cause or the sole solution.  River quality reports are already showing the benefit of a change in farmers’ attitude toward environmental stewardship, but this narrative doesn’t fit the Green’s script.

The NPS by contrast will be law.  It gives communities the power to decide how much progress needs to be made and over what timeframe. It specifically encourages communities to decide what they want for their rivers and lakes while balancing that with the costs to society and the economy. It has the fish hook that over time, all water bodies will have plans for how they will meet community aspirations, so if the students of North Dunedin decide they wish to swim in the Leith at anytime and the ratepayers of that great Southern town can afford it and are prepared to prioritise that spending over all other, then that is their choice. My guess is the cost will have that city’s burghers muttering darkly at their haggis and prevarication will win.  That’s been the case in most major urban centres. 

The NPS may not have the sexy but implausible sound bite ‘swimmable for all’ but it gives that choice to the community to decide. It is practical, pragmatic and is the law. With water we’re in this together and the NPS underscores that. 

 The idea of being able to swim in every body of water is attractive but expensive and almost certainly an impossible standard to reach everywhere.

Dairying and recent intensification is blamed for poorer water quality but dirty water isn’t new.

My father was a carpenter at what was then Waitaki freezing works at Pukeuri  more than 40 years ago. That’s when the company had to build a huge reservoir to hold water which had to be treated because the water from the Waitaki River, which supplied Oamaru and other smaller settlements, wasn’t fit to wash export meat.

We’ve come a long way since then and while dairying is blamed for the problem it’s also working hard to be part of the solution with initiatives such as Fonterra’s Grassroots Fund:

Fonterra Grass Roots Fund

For those of you in Southland, head on down to Fonterra’s Living Water programme tomorrow with the Department of Conservation which works to enhance sensitive water catchments across New Zealand! Hear our plans, suggest ideas and get involved with some future volunteer opportunities. Enjoy demonstrations by freshwater scientists, a live fish tank display of local freshwater species and a BBQ lunch. It should be a great day! Address: Craws Creek Scenic Reserve, Waituna Lagoon Road, Friday 25th 2014 from 9:30 – 12:30. Any questions, please contact livingwater@fonterra.com
Photo: For those of you in Southland, head on down to Fonterra's Living Water programme tomorrow with the Department of Conservation which works to enhance sensitive water catchments across New Zealand! Hear our plans, suggest ideas and get involved with some future volunteer opportunities. Enjoy demonstrations by freshwater scientists, a live fish tank display of local freshwater species and a BBQ lunch. It should be a great day! Address: Craws Creek Scenic Reserve, Waituna Lagoon Road, Friday 25th 2014 from 9:30 – 12:30. Any questions, please contact livingwater@fonterra.com

There is general acceptance of a need to improve water quality in many areas.

The argument is about how far improvements need to go.

National’s policy imposes a a minimum standard.

It leaves it up to communities to decide how much higher they want, and can afford, their water quality to be.

They are the ones with the most to gain from cleaner water and they are the ones who will have to pay for it.

The Green policy sets an impossibly high standard and leaves communities with no choice regardless of their wishes and priorities.

Blue is a much better colour for water than green.


Alistair Polson dies aged 58

June 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Farm Environment Trust also pays tribute:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Polson farmed in the Mangamahu Valley, near Wanganui.

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

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


Rural round-up

December 26, 2013

When Christmas is no holiday :

For some Kiwis, Christmas is just another day at the office. Among those at work on Christmas Day this year are a midwife, firefighter, zookeeper, farmer and paramedic. SIOBHAN DOWNES finds out how they will celebrate.

THE FARMER

One Dannevirke sharemilker is making sure you get “a nice bit of cream on your strawberries” come Christmas morning.

Neil Filer will be sneaking out at 3.30am to tend to the cows, trying not to wake his two excited children.

“They won’t be going back to sleep otherwise!” . .

Year in review – January – Rebecca Harper:

Beef exporters received a boost with the news United States imported beef prices were at record levels and expected to go higher during the year. The price lift was attributed to high feed grain prices, the smallest US cattle herd in 50 years and limited supplies from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Latin America.

The Fonterra Shareholders Fund unit price rose over December and January – up 32% from the November 30 opening price of $5.50 to $7.29. . . .

Loss of ‘adopted’ eels upsets Fonterra staff – Charlottte Squire:

A project to clean up Watercress Creek that runs through the Fonterra factory at Takaka has won a national river award, but its staff are upset at the loss of their “adopted” long-term resident eels.

Last month a National Rivers Award was given to Tasman District Council environmental educator Claire Webster for the significant improvement of the waterway and habitat.

The combined efforts of Keep Golden Bay Beautiful, Fonterra and local schools meant the quality of the water in the creek and its habitat has dramatically improved over the last few years.

Ms Webster, who co-ordinated the project, gave strong credit to Fonterra for the clean up of the waterway. . .

Taking the fight to field horsetail – Rebecca Harper:

A collaborative approach to weeding out a troublesome pest is yielding results in Rangitikei and Manawatu.

Field horsetail is a notoriously difficult weed to control.

It appears after winter from an extensive underground root system up to three metres deep.

It is spreading throughout the district, particularly on the lower floodplains of Rangitikei River, prompting NZ Landcare Trust to partner with local farmers to try to combat it. . .


Rural round-up

March 27, 2012

Fertiliser Use Increases As Farmers Reinvest In The Land:

Total fertiliser use on New Zealand farms increased for the first time in three years in the 2010/11 fertiliser year, reaching just over 3 million tonnes.

This is a significant increase in fertiliser use compared to the previous year, which was 2.3 million tonnes, but is below the peak use of 3.3 million tonnes recorded in 2004/05 and close to total fertiliser use in 2007/08 of 3.1 million tonnes.

The fertiliser use data are reported in the March edition of Fertiliser Matters, published by Fert Research. . .

New Zealand…A Place Where Talent Wants To Live & Proudly Farm –  Pasture to Profit:

“New Zealand…A Place Where Talent Wants To Live” this was the NZ strategic vision that Sir Paul Callaghan(New Zealander of the year 2011 & ex Massey University Scientist) spoke so passionately about before his death last week. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY&feature=related  Sir Paul Callaghan was a world class scientist, leader & a passionate advocate for a better more prosperous New Zealand. . .

Are You Using Farm Business Management “Apps” on Your Farm? – Pasture to Profit:

The Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management is a joint virtual centre of the Farm Management Departments at both Massey & Lincoln Universities in New Zealand. The Centre is conducting a number of research projects in Farm Business Management. One of those projects is investigating what Apps (Applications) are available for IPhones/IPads & Android mobile phones.  . .

If You Don’t Measure You Can’t Control…Basic Pasture Management! – Pasture to Profit:

What’s going on? Have New Zealand dairy farmers taken their eye off the ball…..or even worse “lost the plot”? What has happened to their famous pasture grazing skills?

 Throughout the low cost pasture dairying world NZ farmers have a reputation of being expert grazing managers & very efficient users of low cost pasture. Is this still true? From my observations I’d say it’s no longer the case that NZ farmers are the best in the world.  . .

We All Cast Our Shadow on The Environment..NZ Landcare Trust Conference – Pature to Profit:

  “We are born into the shadow of our parents & eventually we create our own shadow”. Powerful story telling from George Matthews (a NZ Landcare Trustee) opened the NZ Landcare Trust Conference in Hamilton NZ.

Although his Maori proverb has to do with life itself….we all do cast our shadow on the environment in which we live & farm. Our Earth’s environment is in trouble. It was Albert Einstein who said that …” Insanity: was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”      . . .

The changing face of the global dairy industry – Dr Jon Hauser:

Australia – A switch from cooperatives to private processors

The Australian dairy industry has undergone vast changes over the last ten years. The biggest shift is in the composition of ownership of the industry; Bonlac, Bega, Tatura, Warnambool Cheese, Dairy Farmers, Challenge Dairy … almost all the major milk processors except Murray Goulburn have gone from being cooperatives to private processors.

In just over a decade 65 per cent of Australian milk, from all states, has been lost to the farmer co-operative sector. This is a monumental change in the culture and direction of the industry. . .

Meat and dairy prices off their peak for now  but outlook positive – Allan Barber:

The recent fall in Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade on line auction for the fifth time in six months means global dairy prices have fallen by 9% since last May and by 24% over the season when adjusted for the value of theNew Zealanddollar. The dollar has only just come off historical highs against both the UKpound and the euro, so the combined effect on our dairy, beef and lamb exports has been disappointing to say the least.

But the outlook in the medium term is still good, provided our exports are not derailed by one or more of the dire forecasts of Greek debt default, general lack of buoyancy inUKand Europe, and the lower growth forecast in China. . .

AFFCO able to operate despite lock-out – Allan Barber:

Interested observers of the argument between AFFCO and its unionised meat workers may be confused by a state of affairs which results in a portion of the workforce being locked out, another percentage going on strike in support of their colleagues, and the rest of the workforce being able to keep production going. Read the rest of this entry »


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