Rural round-up

February 5, 2020

It’s tinder dry – Sonita Chandar:

As temperatures soar and paddocks start to frizzle farmers in Northland are destocking and buying in feed while firefighters are nervously standing by waiting for the sirens to go.

“You could say we are pretty much on edge and on constant standby,” Northland deputy principal fire officer Wayne Martin says.

“Whenever we are called to an event we pretty much throw everything we have got at it to make sure we don’t end up with an Australia-type incident, especially if we have to travel a fair distance to get there. We will send the helicopter out as well to reduce the risk of it spreading and to contain the loss of acreage.” . . 

Hard yards on family farm pays off – Sudesh Kissun:

Harvesting 15 tonnes of cabbage in hailstorms and hand weeding paddocks under a scorching sun made a perfect training ground for Austin Singh Purewal.

The 18-year-old, who won the NZ Young Vegetable Grower of the Year award two months ago, says the hard work on the family farm is paying off.

Purewal, the youngest-ever to win the title, told Hort News that although growing up on the family farm wasn’t easy, he enjoyed the challenges. . . 

LIC delivers steady first half – Hugh Stringleman:

LIC has delivered a steady interim result in line with expectations during the 2020 financial year, including a small rise in revenue and a small drop in first-half earnings.

Revenue in the six months to November 30 was $163 million, up 1.4% from the corresponding period last year.

Earnings before interest and tax were $43.1m, down 6.5% and net profit after tax was $30.3m, down 7.6%.

The artificial breeding and farmer information company said earnings and profit were down because of the timing of expenses. . . 

Two cents’ worth – beetle mania – Nikki Mandow:

One man’s decades-long fight to deal with NZ’s farm effluent problems by bringing dung beetles into the country

As a child, scientist Dr Shaun Forgie was obsessed with snakes, so it was unfortunate he grew up in one of the few countries in the world that don’t have any. Instead he grubbed about in Ruakaka looking for other creepy crawlies, then completed a science degree specialising in insects.

He had planned a masters on parasitic wasps and their impact on fly strike in sheep. As one does. But one day in the lab, Forgie had a Road to Damascus moment that was to change his life, but could potentially have a far greater influence – producing a major change in New Zealand’s farming ecosystems.  . .

No sausages or salami?! The country-of-origin regulations let pork eaters down – Hilary Pearson:

Finally, New Zealand is getting country-of-origin food labelling. But the recently released draft regulations are a missed opportunity to provide consumers with clarity around where their food comes from and how it’s produced, writes Hilary Pearson of Freedom Farms.

It seems a bit laborious to rehash the already storied history of the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Act. At this point it feels like it’s been talked about for eleventy-seven gazillion years. The bill was passed by parliament at the end of November 2018 and now, 12 months later, draft regulations have been released so we know what it’s going to look like in practice. And it’s clear it’s not as robust as pork eaters need it to be. 

In many ways we’ve timed our run poorly in terms of getting this legislation across the line. In 2018, when the bill was going through the select committee stage, some people delighted in telling me that no one really cared that much about how their food is produced, so country of origin wasn’t a big deal.

We’re now 18 months down the road from the select committee consultation and suddenly one in three New Zealanders are reportedly thinking about reducing their meat consumption because of the environmental impact of how it is produced. . . 

Rural golf course where sheep graze is teed-up for sale:

A quirky provincial golf course where sheep graze the fairways to keep the grass under control has been placed on the market for sale.

The Tumahu Golf Club near Okato in Western Taranaki is an 9-hole course where players have been driving down the fairways and putting on the greens for some 70 years. As a classic Kiwi ‘rural’ course, sheep graze the fairways, with knee-high electric wire fencing keeping stock off the putting greens.

However, with many Tumahu Golf Club members now aged in their 60s and 70s, the steady decline in core membership has seen the club’s fortunes wane. Big swinging Tumahu Golf Club members played their last club day just before Christmas. The course remained open until just after the start of the new year to allow for holiday golfers to get a final round in. The course has now officially closed down. . . 


Rural round-up

January 1, 2020

South Waikato dairy farmer recognised in New Year honours – Gerald Piddock:

Championing the rights of sharemilkers has seen Tony Wilding recognised in the New Years honours list.

The dairy farmer, who farms at Okoroire in South Waikato, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his work in the dairy industry and the community.

He said his initial reaction when he found out was disbelief. Once it sunk in, he began to realise how special it was.

“I”m pretty delighted and particularly my family who have seen me doing such a lot of stuff that was unpaid for in a lot of areas.” . .

Prices strong, farmers low – report – David Anderson:

Despite generally strong commodity prices, farmer confidence remains at near record lows, according to the latest Agri Focus report from ANZ Bank.

“Confidence at the farm level remains subdued despite returns being near record levels,” the bank’s December 2019 report says.

“Farmers remain concerned as to how future environmental legislation will impact the profitability of their business.”

It adds that dairy land values are also under pressure for the same reason.  . .

LAND CHAMPION: Wool fashions farming’s future– Hugh Stringleman:

New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge has seen the future of the primary sector and pioneered many of its elements well in advance of most farmers, their processors and exporters.

Few people in NZ can claim the transformation of a primary industry through their life’s work and fewer still have taken the principles uncovered beyond their home industry for the betterment of the sector.

All that has been done by Brakenridge’s ideas, enthusiasm, business relationships and persistence.

The forging of long-term supply contracts between wool growers and apparel brands like . . 

Going green makes money – Jenny Ling:

A Northland farming family is adding value and creating extra income by supplying milk in glass bottles direct to customers. Jenny Ling reports.

Far North sharemilkers Gav Hogarth and Jody Hansen knew they needed a plan B when Fonterra announced a forecast milk payout with a three in front of it.

The couple had been milking their herd of pedigree Jerseys on a conventional, twice-daily milking system for five years at their Kawakawa farm when the dairy co-operative dropped the milk payout from $4.15 a kilogram of milksolids to $3.90 in early 2016. 

“At $3 you’re not making any money and farming is not sustainable at that level,” Gav says.

“The options were either I went back to work or we would have to borrow money to feed the cows,” Jody says. . . 

Contract milking offers opportunities – Pam Tipa:

Contract milking is a good introduction to self-employment, says Northland AgFirst consultant Kim Robinson.

Her advice to young people wanting to go 50/50 sharemilking is, to do one year of contracting milking first.

“Contract milking teaches people how to become self-employed, to run their own businesses . .

Global wardrobe study:

Our wardrobes are growing, which comes as no surprise given fibre production for clothing and the amount of clothes produced, is on the rise. But, like most things in life, we have options. Consumers have the power to choose what they wear and this choice can ultimately have a huge impact on what designers, brands and retailers produce.

For many, it may come as a surprise that our love for clothing is putting a strain on the environment. And with phrases such as “climate crisis” becoming the new normal, it’s time for individuals to pay attention to everyday habits. One small action, as insignificant as it may seem, can cumulatively have enormous impact. From wearing our clothes for longer, doing laundry less frequently, or paying attention to what our clothes are actually made of, consumers have the power to make a difference and influence brands’ business decisions.

This report examines consumer wardrobe and laundry behaviours, offering solutions to help reduce our impact on the environment every day. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 20, 2019

Manager no stranger to plant reality – Sally Rae:

As Alliance Group holds its annual meeting in Palmerston North today, business and rural editor Sally Rae speaks to its new general manager, livestock and shareholder services, Danny Hailes about his long and varied tenure with the co-operative.

Danny Hailes always gets a little anxious around the summer holidays.

His anxiety is understandable, for it was a Sunday morning in January 2006 when he was in Wanaka to watch his son play tennis, and got a phone call to say there was a fire at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant which he managed.

Quickly driving back, Mr Hailes could smell smoke in his car as he hit Peebles on the lower Waitaki Plains. . . 

Pāmu revises full year financial forecast:

Pāmu has revised its full year EBITDAR (Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Revaluations) forecast to between $73 million and $78 million. This compares to the previous forecast of $61 million.

Chief Executive Steve Carden said the increased forecast was pleasing and demonstrated both a lift in milk and meat prices, plus a strong focus on productivity improvement on farm and securing premiums for its products.

“The improved milk price principally reflects the revision in Fonterra’s forecast milk payment to $7.00 – $7.60 per kg of milk solids, while the strong beef and sheep prices are being driven by strong global demand for protein, particularly from China. . .

Pair travelling country on Kaimanawa horses – Laura Smith:

It is an ambition of many to travel the length of the country, but wild horse is not typically the transport of choice.

In 2018, during the annual muster of Kaimanawa horses near Taupo, Jess Mullins and Bijmin Swart took on three wild horses.

The muster occurs to maintain good health within the population and protects fragile ecosystems that are unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone.

Unfortunately, not long after they took him on, one of the three horses died of illness. . . 

Measles epidemic taking toll on Samoan seasonal workers

The measles epidemic has been “taxing” on Pacific workers in New Zealand’s horticultural industry, a co-ordinator with the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) says.

Jerf van Beek said many Samoan RSE workers had been affected by the impact of the epidemic on their families back home.

“Funerals are a very important part in the Samoan culture and we know it’s very expensive,” Mr van Beek said.

“We as an industry really want to support our RSE workers who are being affected by it, that they are able to come to New Zealand, earn the money and actually take it back again, under a very taxing situation.” . . 

Matakana Island joins the medical cannabis industry:

 Local whānau on one of New Zealand’s most intriguing islands have just received a licence* to grow medicinal cannabis. Grown outside in the Matakana Island sunshine, Mahana Island Therapies will be one of the only legal and naturally grown cannabis products of its kind in the world.

Matakana is a narrow, 28 kilometre-long sandbar at the head of the Tauranga harbour in the Bay of Plenty. Renowned for its unique geology, history and ecology, the island’s primary industries are forestry, dairy farming, kiwifruit and other horticultural activities. Famed for its stunning surf beach, the island is home to about 200 permanent residents. . . 

Survey reveals what kiwis eat on Christmas Day:

Lamb was voted as the meat of choice for Kiwis this Christmas as part of the Classic Kiwi Christmas Census 2019, followed in a very tight second by ham.

The poll – which was conducted by Retail Meat New Zealand in conjunction with Beef + Lamb New Zealand – of over 1,300 Kiwis covering a range of Christmas traditions, saw lamb as the go-to meat of choice with 34% of respondents. Ham was only two votes behind in second with 33% and beef came third with 13%. This represents a significant change in meat choice, with last year’s survey returning a strong mandate for ham which secured 37% of the vote versus 30% for lamb in the 2018 survey.  . . 


Rural round-up

December 17, 2019

Ag-Proud founder says rural-urban goodwill already exists – Logan Savory:

Ag-Proud founder John Douglas says they have discovered there is more goodwill, when it comes to New Zealand’s rural and urban folk, than initially thought.

Douglas, along with three others in the Southland farming sector – Jon Pemberton, Jason Herrick, and Jason Checketts – setup Ag-Proud in August.

The point of the organisation was to try to develop some goodwill between those in the rural farming sector and those in the cities. . . 

Making change for the better – Deborah Rhodes:

Farmers are change adaptive, we can make change for the better. When we see a problem we fix it, when something is broken we rebuild it.

Heritage farmers have focused not just on change but improvements for the better, of knowing the challenges and taking them on.

When we see neighbours and locals in need, we wrap around them, when we need labour we provide them with on farm housing because that is what farmers do, and that is what we will keep doing. . .

Expert sees apple varieties blossom and fade over time:

John Wilton starts each day with an apple – and he knows which ones to choose.

John’s been a horticultural consultant for 57 years and was MAF’s national pipfruit and summer fruit specialist for 15 years.

Carol Stiles headed out to an orchard with John to hear about the state of the apple industry and the changes growers have seen.

When John started working on apple orchards in 1962, most of the trees had been planted before WW1. . . 

Gisborne forestry firm fined, council’s lack of action ‘irresponsible’:

A Gisborne forestry company has been fined $152,000 for contributing logging debris that caused millions of dollars of damage during two heavy rainfall events.

Juken New Zealand is one of 10 companies prosecuted by Gisborne District Council after tonnes of debris – known as slash – washed onto farms, roads and waterways in June last year.

In his sentencing notes, Judge Brian Dwyer said Gisborne District Council’s failure to monitor Juken is reprehensible and irresponsible, and it failed to meet its obligations by ensuring the company kept to its consent conditions. . . 

Manawatu strategy wins award :

The Manawatu Agritech Strategy, created by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) and Sprout, has won the Best Practice Award for Integrated Planning at Economic Development New Zealand’s annual Wellbeing and Prosperity Awards.

The award was presented at the Economic Development New Zealand delivering inclusive growth conference. Ten organisations were recognised for their outstanding contributions to the wellbeing and prosperity of their communities.

“Having the Manawatu Agritech Strategy recognised for integrated planning is a testament to the leadership, people and organisations in the region who were involved in its creation. This is a win for all of us,” CEDA chief executive Linda Stewart said. . . 

Animal feeding testing upgrade:

New Zealand feed manufacturers are lifting their game when it comes to quality and safety of their products.

New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) has introduced a new risk management programme that sees significant upgrades to the auditing and testing conducted by feed manufacturers.

The move comes as more imported non-grain ingredients arrive in the country. . . 

Top women wanted :

A celebration of women who make outstanding contributions to the dairy industry enters its ninth year as nominations for the 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year are now open.

The prestigious award, which celebrates the outstanding leadership of women in the business of dairy, was established in 2012 by the Dairy Women’s Network as a key strand in its support of women in their leadership journeys through providing inspiration, learning and education.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Jules Benton said she was inspired by the high calibre of last year’s finalists and is looking forward to see who will be nominated for the 2020 awards. . .


Rural round-up

October 23, 2019

No change to methane targets – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets are to remain but the Environment Select Committee considering submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill is recommending greater safeguards for using forestry to offset emissions.

The committee recommends the proposed Climate Change Commission be given power to consider the form of greenhouse gas emission targets to ensure targets stay fit for purpose and to consider the impact of forestry offsets.

Another change will allow the commission to recommend changes to the 2050 targets if a significant change is likely to occur. . .

Fonterra’s milk price forecast will cheer farmers but govt has given ample cause for grumbling to persist – Point of Order:

At  last,  a  break in the  clouds for  NZ’s  dairy farmers :  Fonterra  suppliers  could be looking at a  sharp  lift in income,  as the co-op revises   its  forecast  range for the  milk price   to $6.55-$7.55 kg/MS.And  the signals  are   strong enough to underpin projections the  milk price  will rise to its  highest level  since  2014  when the price  hit $8.40.

This  may  diminish, if not completely  halt, the   grumbling in the cowsheds  at  Fonterra’s  dismal  performance  over the last  couple of  seasons, racking  up  losses and  cutting  its dividend.

Whether  it  will  eliminate  the  animosity towards the government,  which  is  proposing to penalise dairy farmers  over  methane emissions and through its freshwater  policy, is  less certain. . .

Digging deeper into soil’s black box – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Could soil organic matter be used for carbon credits?

Organic matter is the black box of the soil: it determines many factors in biological activities but predicting the outcomes of those biological activities is not easy.

With sand, silt and clay, organic matter affects soil structure, porosity, drainage and nutrient availability. It supports soil organisms by providing energy and nutrients for growth and reproduction.  . .

Vaccinations protect people, animals – Mark Ross:

As we struggle to fathom how we ended up in the throes of a measles outbreak again, we’re reminded of the importance of vaccinations to protect us from life-threatening diseases.

This is no less true for animals which can share diseases with people. Vaccination vastly improves the health of people and animals and is vital for continuing to meet the health challenges of growing populations. . .

Is technology a threat to dairy? – Danielle Appleton :

The New Zealand dairy industry is facing major disruption from synthetic dairy, similar to the synthetic fibres that triggered the decline of the wool industry in the 1980s.

Technology companies are now making real dairy products, without cows. 

Their aim is to make real dairy products far cheaper than traditional farming can within the next 10 to 15 years. . .

Dairy price prospects firm :

Prospects for a $7-plus farmgate milk price in 2020 have firmed with the lower New Zealand dollar value and a spring production peak that might not reach any great height.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny believes the NZ dollar falling below US63c is worth up to 50c/kg to the milk price after the delay of the Fonterra currency hedging policy works through.

Fonterra was already forecasting $6.25-$7.25/kg ahead of any currency boost and ASB has pegged $7 before the possible currency upside, Penny said. . .

$2800 a jar: Hawke’s Bay company’s Manuka honey vintage now the most expensive in world :

One single windswept tree block has produced the most extraordinary and expensive Mānuka honey that the world has ever seen.

Ahuriri-based The True Honey Co is now selling its supplies of its 2017 Rare Harvest to luxury retailers such as Selfridges and Harrods in London.

The retailers are buying up to 10 of the 230 gram jars at a time to secure a supply with each jar selling for £1388 (NZD$2815) in the United Kingdom. . .

Why farmers  should avoid magic and opt for science -Phil Holmes and Ian McLean:

Unfortunately, and to its detriment, broadacre agriculture is not always an evidence-based industry at producer level.

Yes, there are areas where evidence drives what is done, but it is far from universal. Too much attention is placed on fads and searches for silver bullets.

By way of contrast, consider engineering. If it was not based on hard evidence, planes would fall out of the sky, buildings would collapse and bridges would cave in. It is the ultimate discipline in everyday life. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 5, 2019

Reform plans created in silos – Colin Williscroft:

Environmental changes farmers are being forced to deal with were developed separately rather than in conjunction, Beef + Lamb environmental policy leader Corina Jordan says.

At the B+LNZ environment issues roadshow stop in Feilding Jordan said a lot of the work the proposed changes are based on was done in silos, with little or no thought about how they might affect each other or of the cumulative affect of everything happening at once.

“The full impact of the suite has not been considered,” she said.

“That’s not just at a farm level but also a community level.”

Proposals already announced as part of the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and essential freshwater package will soon be added to by a new biodiversity strategy.

Jordan said it looks like, when coming up with some of the proposals, the experiences of other countries trying to deal with the same problems have not been taken into account either. . . 

Farmers fear the unknown over freshwater water plans – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers are worried about proposed water policy changes, but their concerns are largely based on a fear of the unknown, says Northland dairy farmer Andrew Booth.

In recent weeks social media has been rife with comments from on-edge farmers, and small town halls packed to the rafters as officials have been quizzed over the proposals.

Environment Minister David Parker released them last month, saying the health and wellbeing of water would be put first when making decisions, “providing for essential human needs, such as drinking water, will be second, and all other uses will follow”. . . 

Farmers see authentic strategy – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmers have decried the bad results of 2019 while approving the transparency and logic of the strategy reset, co-operative affairs managing director Mike Cronin says.

Speaking after three of the shareholder roadshow meetings in the South Island he said farmers welcomed the new strategy as authentic and self-explanatory and, therefore, convincing.

“Some want more detail on how we got here but the overall impression is that the strategy is back to basics, co-operative, New Zealand milk and all those good things.” . . 

International wool award for Kiwi:

One of New Zealand’s longest-serving champions for New Zealand wool, John Dawson, has been awarded the prestigious International Wool Trade Co-operation Award.

The award was presented at the 31st Nanjing Wool Market Convention at Qufu in Shandong Province, China.

John Dawson is chief executive of New Zealand Wool Services International and chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests.

He was one of just six global wool industry leaders to receive the award and the only New Zealander. . . 

Texel stud happy with Scottish influence – Yvonne O’Hara:

The second crop of lambs on the ground from Scottish genetics are looking good, Texel stud breeder and farmer Brent Busby says.

”They came out with a kilt,” he said.

He and wife Heather own the Cromarty Texel Stud and run 110 pedigree registered Texel ewes on 20ha at Myross Bush, Invercargill, with a further 15ha leased.

”We have finished lambing early and have 170% tailed, (including a set of quads)” he said.

Mrs Busby said they imported semen from Scottish studs in 2018 and inseminated 18 ewes. . .

Sheep farmers ‘astonished’ over live export ban proposal :

Sheep farmers have highlighted their ‘astonishment’ over the government’s proposal to put in a place a live export ban once the UK leaves the EU.

Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers is proposing a ban on live exports of farm animals, stating that livestock should only be slaughtered at their most local abattoir.

A consultation will be created to gather opinion on the controversial proposal.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has already criticised the plan, saying that it ‘exposes a serious lack of knowledge’ of how the industry works.

The group adds that there is an ‘absence of awareness’ of transport related welfare research. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 27, 2019

Has farming lost its ability to influence? – Lindy Nelson:

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Lindy Nelson questions if real is the new fake and fake is the new real when it comes to media coverage of agriculture.

I’ve been thinking about influence lately and how as a sector we seem to be losing the ability to do this effectively with our fellow New Zealanders.

As hard as we try to tell our good stories, others speak louder about all that is wrong with how we produce grass-fed, free-to-range food.

So it was fascinating to listen to Frederic Leroy at the Red Meat Sector Conference recently present “Red meat – facing the challengers in the post-truth area. What’s real, what’s not“. . .

Ag Proud engages urban folk – Neal Wallace:

Southland farmers have formed a group to engage with their urban neighbours on what happens on farms and why.

Ag Proud member Jon Pemberton says stress among farmers from a recent winter grazing media campaign by activists was the catalyst for its formation. It launched last week by hosting a free barbecue in Invercargill to engage with city people.

It does not have an agenda other than to celebrate the rural sector and to share that pride and information about what farmers do and why.

The movement also hopes to highlight the issue of mental health among those in rural NZ. . . 

Government must provide leadership– Allan Barber:

In contrast to its positive social agenda to improve the average person’s lot by lifting the minimum wage, increasing teachers’ pay rates and attempting to increase home ownership, this government seems to have gone missing in action with respect to the farming sector. Apart from Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor’s rather lonely efforts as a cheerleader for agriculture, other government ministers only pop their heads above the parapet when there’s some good environmental news or forestry initiative to crow about, or a new, and scientifically flawed, methane reduction target to ask farmers to meet. 

Agriculture contributes about 80% of merchandise exports and employs 15% of the workforce which underlines how critical the sector is to the New Zealand economy. Yet to observe the government’s attitude, one would think agriculture’s contribution to the economy was relatively insignificant or easy to replace. When it comes to addressing climate change and formulating the Carbon Zero strategy, agricultural production, at least red meat and dairy, appears to be an inconvenience which must be discouraged so New Zealand can meet a set of unachievable targets. These targets are being negotiated against a backdrop of dire predictions about the catastrophic effect of global temperature and sea level increase which the world’s economies should have addressed 50 years ago to avoid disaster. . .

Cavalier announces strategic collaboration with NZ Merino Company –  Rebecca Howard:

Cavalier Corp announced a “collaboration” with the New Zealand Merino company as it looks to cash in on a growing consumer trend toward natural fibres and away from synthetics.

Yesterday its shares tumbled after it said it will write-down or impair the value of goodwill and various plant and equipment by as much as $9 million and was in discussions “with a respected industry participant regarding a collaboration that will build on Cavalier’s capabilities and make a transformative change into a design-led, wool focused company.”

Today it identified that company as New Zealand Merino. Chief executive Paul Alston told BusinessDesk that NZ Merino wasn’t buying a stake in Cavalier but would supply them with wool and use their expertise to help market and promote the benefits of wool. . . 

Woolless lamb ‘one of the ugliest lambs I’ve ever seen’:

A Rotorua farmer reckons he is the proud owner of the ugliest lamb he has ever seen.

Javier Browne said the “really shy” newborn was now a family pet.

One of a set of triplets – the lamb is woolless, basically bald – and a genetic rarity.

“When I first saw her I was shocked, didn’t really know, like ‘is that actually a sheep or what’,” Mr Browne said.

5 ways UK farmers are tackling climate change – David Brown:

Farmers are on the front line of climate change – vulnerable to changes in temperature and rainfall, as well as increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

They also face criticism , in particular over greenhouse gas emissions from the meat and dairy industry, with calls for a move to a more plant-based diet.

Agriculture is currently responsible for about 9% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from methane.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which represents 55,000 UK farmers, has set a target of net-zero emissions in British farming by 2040. . . .

Could the Biblical practice of gleaning cut food waste? – Rebecca Wearn:

It is a hot July day in Lancashire and a dozen people are gathering on a dusty farm track two miles outside the market town of Ormskirk. They are gleaners – volunteer harvesters picking what’s left in the ground.

It’s for a good cause: the unwanted kale from this farm will be donated to local food projects and charities. And it is good weather; the broad blue sky is softly streaked with cirrus clouds. Cabbage white butterflies flit between the chamomile blooms and bushy deep green brassica leaves.

Feedback Global is one of a handful of campaign groups organising gleans across Britain. It’s seen its efforts swell – more than doubling the days in the fields between 2014 and 2018, working with four times as many volunteers and harvesting more than a hundred tonnes of unwanted fruit and vegetables from farms – that would otherwise be left to rot. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 3, 2019

NZ Centre for Political Research: A sacrificial lamb – Dr Muriel Newman:

The PM’s plan is to put so much pressure on farmers that she will drive them out of business, just as occurred in the coal industry, and oil and gas.

In a speech to state sector workers and children in Melbourne, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described a period of economic turmoil in New Zealand: “Starting in 1984, through to the 1990s, we removed regulations that were said to hamper business, slashed subsidies, transformed the tax system, dramatically cut public spending … “

She questioned whether the reforms were really necessary, then added, “I was a child back then, but I remember clearly how society changed. I remember nothing of Rogernomics of course — I was five. But I do remember the human face.”. . .

Allan Barber challenges Shane Jones to consider the unintended consequences of his headlong rush into forestry, as well as to disclose where all these logs or added value timber will be sold – Allan Barber:

There’s an irony about the combination of the Provincial Growth Fund funded one billion trees programme, sheep and beef land being sold without needing Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval for conversion to forestry, the sharp fall in Chinese log prices, and Shane Jones ranting about log traders being intoxicated by high prices.

According to Jones, these log traders should have supported the domestic timber processing industry, although it’s not immediately obvious how domestic sales would have compensated for log exports to China which exceeded $3 billion over 12 months.

The history of tree planting, well before it was seen as essential for meeting greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) targets, is no different from any other commodity. After an exciting start too much of anything inevitably provokes indigestion; think oil, dairy, sheep meat, wool, angora, alpacas, logs – you name it, there is always a cycle; the world may even turn away from New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc one day. China features strongly as a market which has a habit of dominating purchasing patterns, driving prices up before turning the tap off, although this was more of an issue when the state rigidly controlled all purchasing. . . 

Growers slam ‘very clunky’ process for claiming fuel tax rebates – Maja Burry:

Some growers say they are being left out of pocket by Auckland’s regional fuel tax because there is no simple way to claim back for on-farm vehicles and machinery.

The 11.5 cents-a-litre regional fuel tax was introduced last July to fund transport projects around the region. It is expected to raise $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

A rebate system, overseen by the Transport Agency, is meant to help growers and farmers claim back for on-farm vehicles and machinery.

Brendan Balle of Pukekohe-based Balle Brothers helps run a family-owned market garden business which employs about 300 staff. . . 

Northland dairy farmers win top milk award for fifth year running –  Susan Botting:

Producing top-of-the-line milk from 6000-plus dairy herd milkings over five years has earned Far North dairy farmers Terrence and Suzanne Brocx a dairy industry acknowledgement.

The Puketi couple have this year won a Fonterra award acknowledging their top-of-the-line milk production — for a fifth consecutive year.

Milk from the 2018-19 dairy season on their Puketi and Ohaeawai farms has this winter been awarded a Fonterra gold standard “grade-free” quality award, adding to four previous annual awards of the same type. This means all of the milk produced on their two farms since 2014 has reached the dairy co-operative’s highest gold standard quality standards. . . 

Stink bug warning to importers:

Biosecurity New Zealand has sent a stark message to shippers, agents, and importers that imported cargo must meet new rules intended to keep brown marmorated stink bugs out of New Zealand.

“The importing industry needs to be aware that high-risk cargo that hasn’t been treated before arrival will not be allowed to come ashore in most instances,” says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Paul Hallett.

“The aim is to keep out a highly invasive pest that could devastate New Zealand’s horticulture industry if it established here.” 

Biosecurity New Zealand formally issued new import rules on 22 July. They require off-shore treatment of imported vehicles, machinery, and parts from 33 identified risk countries, and all sea containers from Italy during the stink bug season.

In the past, only uncontainerised vehicle cargo from risk countries required treatment before arriving in New Zealand. . . 

Hunters have their sites on a shareholding in a stunning high country shooting and fishing station:

Avid big-game hunters and trout anglers are being lined up as potential shareholders in a remote South Island high country partnership on the market for sale.

Shares are being sold in the land and buildings at the Miners Creek high-country station some 13 kilometres west of the Central Otago township of Ettrick.

The 513-hectare freehold property is located on the Mount Benger Range adjacent to the Department of Conservation’s Mount Benger Reserve. Combined, the two landholdings are home to red stags on its stark hills and brown trout in its pristine rivers. . . 


Rural round-up

July 21, 2019

Meeting the gas challenge – Tim Fulton:

New legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will hit farmers in the pocket. Tim Fulton reports.

Waikato farmer George Moss, who operates two dairy farms, believes running a small business can be just as difficult when meeting environmental targets as large scale farming.

Moss and wife Sharon operate two small dairy farms at Tokoroa in south Waikato. One is 72ha milking 180 Friesians and the other is 67ha milking 175 crossbreds. They also own an adjoining 40ha drystock block. . .

Fonterra co-op leader Miles Hurrell – we can turn this around – Jamie Gray:

Nearly a year into his job as chief executive of Fonterra, Miles Hurrell is a man on a very public mission.

Since late last year, the co-op has been pulling out all the stops to streamline itself, improve earnings and trim debt.

There has been no shortage of criticism and there’s a lot at stake. The livelihoods of about 10,000 farmer-shareholders depend on it, and Fonterra is New Zealand’s biggest exporter by far.

Stung by the co-op’s first-ever loss last year, Hurrell’s job is to turn around the supertanker that is Fonterra. . .

Berry farm gets government help to expand hydroponic operation – Esther Taunton:

A $2.37 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund will allow a Northland company to expand its hydroponic berry-growing operation, creating dozens of new jobs in the process. 

However, not everyone is happy about the arrangement, with the Taxpayers’ Union saying Maungatapere Berries should have got a bank loan.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the partnership on Friday, saying it would allow the Whangarei-based business to add four hectares of berries to its existing operation. . .

Fingerprinting food :

AgResearch is finding new uses for a machine that uncovers the unique fingerprint of food.

The Crown agency’s lab at Lincoln is using a mass spectrometer to quickly analyse the interaction of genes and the environment.

In a sign of technology advances in the field, work that previously took over an hour can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine.

It will open up new opportunities for food science and industry, AgResearch senior research scientist Dr Alastair Ross, who leads the metabolomics platform, says. . .

Handpicked is judges’ top pick

Meat co-op Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef has won international honours in the World Steak Challenge for the second year running.

Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef, which combines selection for exceptional quality and marbling with extensive wet ageing, took out a gold medal for ribeye and a bronze medal for fillet at the event in Dublin, Ireland, on July 10.

The latest honours repeat the premium product’s success at last year’s contest, which helps benchmark the quality of beef production against global competitors. There were more than 300 entries from 25 countries in the competition. . . 

A 20% drop in methane emissions would cause global cooling, says expert – Lauren Dean:

A leading environmental professor has said farming can become completely ‘climate neutral’ if agricultural methane emissions are reduced by just 20 per cent over the next 30 years. . . 

Myles Allen, a professor from the University of Oxford, who has served on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claimed this kind of gentle reduction in methane emissions would be enough to fully compensate for the warming impact of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from agriculture.

Farmers have already been cutting methane emissions by 10 per cent every 30 years, through measures such as better slurry storage and application. . .

Ongoing stable methane emissions from cattle doesn’t change the climate – Alan Lauder:

Could it be that a lot of cattle producers world-wide are being unfairly blamed for progressing climate change because of the methane released by their cattle? Going one step further, in this contributed article Alan Lauder, long-time grazier and author of the book Carbon Grazing – The Missing Link,  suggests that the methane emissions of the Australian sheep and cattle industry are not changing the climate, because they have been stable since the 1970’s.

WE have to ask the question, is the current way of comparing methane and carbon dioxide, using the Global Warming Potential (GWP) approach, the best way to assess the outcome of the methane produced by ruminant animals like sheep and cattle?

I raise the point, keeping in mind that the debate is about “climate change”. We keep hearing the comment that we have to limit “change” to two degrees.

I am not suggesting that the science the IPCC and the world is relying on is wrong, but maybe it is worth having another look at how we are interpreting it in the area of ruminant animals. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 10, 2019

Tell your story don’t dump data – Annette Scott:

Farm environment plans, while not yet mandatory, offer a unique opportunity for the high country, AgFirst environmental consultant Erica van Reenen says.

Talking to the high country farmers’ conference in Blenheim van Reenen acknowledged they are challenged with climate and market vulnerability.

They are also challenged to get up with the game and communicate in the same space as their urban counterparts.

That means telling their farming stories where urban people tell their stories – in social media circles.   . . 

Adrian and Pauline Ball of Dennley Farms from Waikato Announced as new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing:

Adrian and Pauline Ball, owners and operators of Dennley Farms Ltd, are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made at tonight’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards National Sustainability Showcase at Claudelands in Hamilton. The Ballance Farm Environment Awards celebrate and promote sustainable farming and growing practices.

Dennley Farms’ strong environmental, social and economic sustainability was a stand-out for the National Judging Panel. The business’ tagline is ‘creating value inside the farm gate,’ and the farm team is active in the creation of meaningful industry change and driven to improve consumer perception of the sector. . .

Grass-fed message won’t sell NZ products but health benefits could – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s “clean, green, grass-fed” message isn’t unique and exporters should instead focus on the nutritional benefits of their food products, Andy Elliot says.

Elliot spent much of last year studying the business models of New Zealand producers and exporters as part of the Nuffield agricultural scholarship programme.

He says that in order to get more value from existing production, the country needs to find a way to stand out in the increasingly competitive global market. . . 

Wool bonanza – Annette Scott:

Increased international demand for fine wool is putting Kiwi wool within reach of becoming a $2 billion industry.

New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge said if half NZ’s crossbred wool clip shifts into higher-value fine wool contracts the economic upside will be as high as $2b.

Increased international demand for fine wool could spell profit for sheep farmers with wool giving kiwifruit and wine a real run for their money in terms of exports, he said.

There is a future in wool for farmers and for NZ, he said.

“Which is great news for fine wool producers and farmers considering transitioning into it.” . . 

NZ grower the first to use compostable stickers on its apples :

A Hawke’s Bay apple grower says it is the first in the Southern Hemisphere to use compostable stickers on its apples.

The organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand, planned to roll out more compostable stickers next year after a successful trial.

The new sticker meets regulations for direct food contact and breaks down when put in an industrial compost, according to the company’s organic supply manager Heidi Stiefel.

Ms Stiefel said they supplied apples labelled with those stickers to a European customer and some New Zealand supermarkets this year. . . 

Carbon neutral livestock production — consumers want it and farmers say it is achievable – Angus Verley, Aneeta Bhole, Tyne Logan and Lydia Burton:

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) believes a zero carbon footprint nationally — considered by some the holy grail for the red meat industry — is possible by 2030.

It is a target that has the backing of some of the industry’s leading farmers, and the demand for projects is on the rise.

Climate Friendly, a carbon farming project developer, said the policy was a “hotbed of action”. . . 


Rural round-up

June 2, 2019

National’s support ends if methane targets don’t change – Simon Edwards:

National will not support the Zero Carbon Bill passing into law if “ridiculous” methane targets are not wound back, the party’s climate change spokesperson Todd Muller said.

“I totally reject the view that when there is no ability to mitigate (methane emissions), you just push on regardless,” he told the Federated Farmers Taranaki agm in Stratford on May 24.

Farmers had some tough questions for him on why National had supported the bill in its first reading.  Muller said he achieved “about eight of the ten things I wanted” in terms of the framework for a new Climate Change Commission, and it was “better to be in there wrestling for something sensible” than throwing rocks from the outside . .

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters – Point of Order:

Many New  Zealanders may  be unaware that China, home to  half the world’s pigs, is suffering  a  catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.  According  to  one  authoritative estimate, the disease may have  wiped out one-third of the population  of 500m  pigs.

The  London  “Economist”  says  that for as long  as it takes  China’s pig industry  to recover —which may be   years—farmers  elsewhere  may have  cause to  celebrate.  Yet  foreign producers cannot  make up  the vast amount of production  which  will be  lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade  war  with China.

So, as  Point of Order sees it,  a big opportunity is opened for  NZ  food  producers, particularly  meat exporters,  to  be  diverting  as  much of their product  as  they can to  China. . . 

The value of meaningful protest – Gavin Forrest:

I value the right to protest. Without protest and people standing up for a better society or against threats to their current way of life many of my friends would not be able to exist in the way they do today.

Farming wouldn’t  be the way it is today if it were not for the actions of those who came before us.  

While still in shock farmers protested in the streets of Wellington against a background of having subsides ripped from them with little to no consultation and at breakneck speed in the 1980s. . .

Woman makes history at dog trial championships – Sally Rae:

Sheer grit helped former Otago woman Steph Tweed make history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship.

Miss Tweed (27) won both the North Island and New Zealand championship straight hunt at the New Zealand championships in Northland this week with Grit, whom she describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime” dog.

It was an all-male final, apart from Miss Tweed, who topped the first round with 97 points to clinch the North Island title, and then won the run-off with 95.5 points to secure the national title. . .

Women set to drive change in New Zealand’s meat industry :

Woman working in the meat industry have gathered for an inaugural meeting of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women (MBW) in Napier this week, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector.

Ashley Gray, General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Chair of MBW New Zealand has been instrumental in launching the professional networking initiative here in Aotearoa and says there is plenty the group can achieve once underway.

“Once I began on this journey, the interactions I had with women working in the supply chain, were for me – revolutionary. Women in our sector are incredibly passionate. They are forward thinkers, conversation starters, game changers, shakers and movers and I believe, collectively, have a huge role to play in shaping how the meat industry is perceived and operates in years to come. . . 

Appropriate rural midwifery resourcing must be addressed:

The College of Midwives is calling on health officials and the Minister to urgently address the shortage of midwives and facilities in the Southland DHB region.

The College’s Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says contrary to the DHB CEO, an ambulance is not an entirely appropriate place to have a baby – something that happened earlier this week between Lumsden and Invercargill.

“I’m not going to repeat the issues related to having a baby on the side of a road in an ambulance however this is something that underlines significant ongoing issues in this area of New Zealand,” she says. . . 

Jersey cows star in new single-breed milk launch:

Lewis Road Creamery today launched a new range of milk sourced solely from Jersey cows, as it unveiled the first single-breed standard milk to go on sale in supermarkets nationwide.

“The Jersey cow is rightly famous for her milk. It is richer, creamier, with higher butterfat and a more velvety texture,“ said Peter Cullinane. “A single-breed milk really lets those qualities shine.”

Mr Cullinane said as a dairy producing nation, New Zealanders deserved to have access to the best possible drinking milk, free from PKE and permeate. . . 

New directors elected to Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board welcomes re-elected directors Barry O’Neil and Hugh Ritchie, as well as new director Kathryn de Bruin, after four candidates contested three vacant Director roles.

Kathryn de Bruin joins the Board with a wealth of experience in the vegetable sector. Based in Dargaville, she splits her time between an accountancy practice focused on the primary sector, and growing 40ha of kumara with her husband Andre.

Katikati kiwifruit grower and Chair of Tomatoes NZ, Barry O’Neil offered himself for re-election, and has served as Board President since the departure of former President Julian Raine at the end of last year. . . 


Rural round-up

April 2, 2019

ClearTech an effluent game-changer – Alan Williams:

Ravensdown says its new ClearTech dairy effluent treatment system will allow two-thirds of the water used to wash farm milking yards each day to be recycled.

It removes up to 99% of E coli and phosphorus from the raw effluent water and cuts nitrogen concentration by about 70%.

ClearTech’s promise, based on Lincoln University dairy farm results, convinced the judges at the South Island Agricultural Field Days to make Ravensdown the Agri Innovation Award winner.

“It’s a privilege for us to achieve this and the culmination of our partnership with Lincoln,” Ravensdown’s ClearTech product manager Carl Ahlfeld said.  . . 

Value of apparel wool surges – Sally Rae:

A new era of profitability is being heralded for mid-micron wool growers.

Despite mid-micron wool being labelled in the McKinsey report of 2000 as having a bleak future, the outlook is looking bright.

New Smartwool contracts have just been released at prices that had not been achieved before, the New Zealand Merino Company said.

South Otago farmer Stephen Jack, who has developed a dual-purpose sheep, described it as “exciting times” in the sheep industry. . . 

Distillery dreams see daylight – Sally Rae:

Young Wade Watson might not know it yet but he is going to have a heck of a 21st birthday party.

The nearly two-month-old infant already has an oak barrel of whisky bearing his name, maturing nicely at Lammermoor Distillery in the Paerau Valley.

The distillery has been established by Wade’s grandparents, John and Susie Elliot, who farm the 5200ha Lammermoor Station. . . 

Definition of lamb now officially changed in export legislation – Kristen Frost:

Australia’s new definition of lamb is on track to take effect from July 1 this year with legislative changes this week registered by the Australian Government.

The move means Australian farmers will be able to sell more lamb with the definition matching our competitors in export legislation.

The new definition is ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’. . . 

Silver Fern Farms cites tough sheep market in profit slide – Gavan Evans:

 (BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms says poor trading in its sheep meat business contributed to a 62 percent decline in full-year profit.

Sales in 2018 rose 9 percent to $2.4 billion but net profit fell to $5.8 million from $15.4 million in the 2017 calendar year. The year-earlier figure was reduced by $10.2 million of one-off costs, mostly related to the closure of the firm’s Fairton processing plant near Ashburton.

While the Dunedin-based company had achieved a “back-to-back profit”, chief executive Simon Limmer stated said the level of profitability was not good enough. . . 

Coastal livestock farm with private airstrip up for sale :

The biggest farm within the Gisborne/Wairoa/Northern Hawkes Bay region to come on the market in the past five years is up for sale.

Tunanui Station at Opoutama sitting on the Mahia Peninsula – which separates Poverty Bay in the north from Hawke’s Bay to the south – is a 2,058-hectare property which comes complete with its own private airstrip. . . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2019

Dairy industry riding to rescue as property boom economy falters – Liam Dann:

It looks like New Zealand’s dairy sector is riding to the economic rescue – again.

Given the aspirations we have to transform and diversify the economy, that’s almost a bit disappointing.

But right now I’ll take it – and so should the Government. . . 

Shania effect swallows farmland:

It is called the Shania effect, named after the Canadian singer-songwriter who in 2004 with her then husband Mutt Lange, paid $21.5 million for Motatapu and Mt Soho Stations in Otago’s lakes district.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The marriage subsequently split and Lange kept ownership of the properties before adding Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, taking his holding to more than 53,000ha of pastoral land from Glendhu Bay near Wanaka to Coronet Peak near Queenstown.

He later invested heavily in environmentally sympathetic development that removed reliance on livestock farming.

That included spending $1.6 million over three years controlling wilding pines, weeds and pests, planting river margins and fencing waterways and sensitive shrublands. .

Rabobank head strongly linked with land, South – Sally Rae:

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris has always had a connection with farming – and the South.

While not choosing to pursue a career in hands-on farming, the way it worked out meant he had that “absolute connection” and focus on agriculture, he said during a visit to Dunedin last week.

He might not get back to the South that often but when he did get the opportunity to drive through his old haunts, it was a reminder of what it was “all about”, he said.

Born in Tapanui, where his father was a stock agent, Mr Charteris grew up in West Otago, South Otago and Southland. . . 

Raukumara Conservation Park, the dying forest – Michael Neilson:

A bare forest floor, erosion, slips and no birdsong explain the state of the once-flourishing Raukumara Conservation Park. And experts say there might be less than 10 years to save it. Michael Neilson reports.

Standing in the middle of the Raukumara Conservation Park should be one of those picture perfect, 100% Pure New Zealand moments.

The birdsong should be deafening, rich with raucous kākā, chirping tūī and kōkako.

The forest floor should be lush, with new trees rising up and filling the gaps in the canopy. . . 

We’re doing it wrong – Alan Williams:

Exporters are sitting on a gold mine but failing to sell their provenance story overseas, British grocery expert Rob Ward says.

They need to cash in on sensory perception and the Love Triangle.

“New Zealand is incredibly good at what it does but not enough people know about it,” Ward, a United Kingdom grocery data and analytics expert has been told people at Agri-food Week in Palmerston North.

Lamb is a prime example of how the NZ message can be improved. . . 

Rise of women in agriculture an encouraging sign – Robbie Sefton:

Of all the various ways that humanity has devised for splitting itself into tribes, gender tribes are surely the most pointless. 

Men and women are undoubtedly capable of widely differing viewpoints, and are perfectly capable of exasperating each other, but we are literally nothing without each other.

That’s why it’s been wonderfully encouraging to watch the rise of women in agriculture over the past few decades. 

What was once an industry wholly associated with blokes (at least on the surface) is rapidly becoming one that, in terms of participation, is pretty gender-equal. . . 


Rural round-up

March 7, 2019

Miles Hurell says Fonterra top job was never a done-deal :

The Country’s Jamie Mackay always thought Miles Hurrell would be a shoo-in for Fonterra’s chief executive position but the man himself says it was never a done deal.

“Far from it. They gave me an opportunity to see what we could do in that six months [as interim CEO] and clearly it’s worked. The board have liked what they’ve seen,” said Hurrell.

Fonterra’s new chief executive told Mackay he is well aware that he has a big job ahead of him. . . 

Years of work ahead to eradicate M. bovis, programme director says  – Brianna McIlraith:

More than 80,000 cows have been culled around the country as part of the effort to stop the spread of the Mycoplasma bovis disease, but eradication is still a long way off, the man in charge of the programme says.

Geoff Gwyn said another two years of ‘heavy lifting’ lay ahead before the Ministry for Primary Industries was confidently on top of the bacterial disease, and experts had advised that eradication could take between five and 10 years. . .

Potentialseen in double-muscled Beltx sheep breed – Sally Rae:

A Southland farming family has invested significantly in the Beltex sheep breed, believing it will be of ”major benefit” to the New Zealand sheep industry.

Brent and Ann-Maree Robinson, and son Michael, who farm at Glenham, near Wyndham, last year paid $12,000 for a ram lamb at the inaugural Beltex sale in Canterbury.

Last week, they bought the second top-priced ram lamb for $21,000 at this year’s sale at Mt Somers, a 2-tooth ram for $11,500 and some Beltex ewes to help build their breeding programme. . . 

Woman claims inaugural female shearing crown – Ellen O’Dwyer:

Emily Welch still remembers the time a fellow male competitor refused to shake her hand for out-shearing him.

That was in 2007, when Welch came second in the senior finals at the Golden Shears.

Now the Waikato shearer is the first to have her name etched on the women-only trophy after taking first place in the inaugural event at this year’s Golden Shears competition in Masterton. . . 

Community rallies to support Cambridge wetlands project :

A Cambridge school’s planting project not only assisted local farmers’ environmental efforts, but also attracted plants and sustenance from local businesses.

As part of an environmental initiative between DairyNZ’s education programme and the Student Volunteer Army, 26 rural schools were matched recently with 26 farmers to carry out riparian planting projects around the country.

Two farmers taking part were sharemilkers Stu and Leah Gillanders, who teamed up with a class from Cambridge Middle School to plant a wetland on Merv and Marion Hunt’s Karapiro farm. . .

Dannevirke TeenAg award winner’s passion for Hereford  cattle :

Dannevirke teenager Niamh Barnett knows first-hand how nerve-racking bidding at a livestock auction can be.

The 17-year-old bought some Hereford cows at the Woodlynd Polled Herefords dispersal sale in Gisborne in February 2018.

“I went with a price I was prepared to pay for each animal. I just hoped I didn’t get outbid,” she laughed. . . 


Rural round-up

March 5, 2019

Irrigation issues in Soal charge –  Annette Scott:

Elizabeth Soal started her new role as chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand last week and while a lot of challenges lie ahead there’s also a load of opportunities for the irrigation industry. She talked to Annette Scott.

PUBLIC awareness of water quality and how water is used and is changing the debate around water policy, Irrigation New Zealand’s new chief executive Elizabeth Soal says.

“The wider public is becoming more involved in debates and this trend will continue in the future. . . 

Mycoplasma Bovis risks are much greater than admitted – Keith Woodford:

Taxpayers and farmers are collectively committed to pay more than $800 million for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis. It is therefore reasonable that they are provided with good information as to how eradication is proceeding.

Unfortunately, the current information from MPI is not the full story. At the heart of the problem is the unwillingness of MPI to admit many of the things they do not know or are uncertain about. As one senior MPI person said to me in an unguarded moment, we would come across as clueless. . .

Call surprises agents – Nigel Stirling:

The body representing livestock agents is surprised at renewed calls for regulation after it moved to more strictly police the conduct of members just last September.

The Stock and Station Agents Association for the first time adopted a code of practice for its members and set up a disciplinary body for those failing to uphold the new code. . .

Otago farmers may voluntarily restrict water usage due to dry conditions – Tim Brown:

Farmers in Central Otago may resort to voluntarily restricting their water use in the next week as the prolonged hot and dry weather shows no sign of abating.

There’s plenty of feed locked away after a wet spring but the ground is now brown and dry, and there’s not much rain on the horizon. . .

 

Strength lies in team work for Manawatu Dairy Awardw inners:

The 2019 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say the strength of their farming business lies in the teams they have created to support their goal of growing their business.

Jemima and Thomas Bebbington say that entering the dairy industry awards has given them a better understanding of their business. “The Dairy Industry Awards gave us the opportunity to look into every nook and cranny of our farming business, and receive feedback from farming professionals,” say the couple, who have entered the Awards twice previously. . . 

Former livestock farm land placed up for sale as upmarket residential  enclave :

A large portion of elevated countryside pasture land previously run as a part of a dry stock farm has been placed on the market for sale for conversion into an upmarket boutique housing subdivision.

The approximate 12.8-hectare site overlooks the Waikato township of Paeroa, and is consented for subdivision into low density residential housing sections. The land is being subdivided off a bigger 302 hectare drystock farm which will remain in primary production use as a grazing block. . .


Rural round-up

November 27, 2018

Only two left for new Fonterra vote – Hugh Stringleman:

John Nicholls of Canterbury and Jamie Tuuta of Taranaki and Wellington will contest the rerun of the Fonterra director election to fill the one remaining vacancy.

One-term director Ashley Waugh has decided not to run again though he came within a whisker of being re-elected in the first round of voting.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman Duncan Coull sent an email to all farmer-shareholders explaining the rerun process and the council’s reasons for not opening it up to new candidates.

The rerun was necessary because only two of five candidates for three seats received the required 50% approval of farmers, Peter McBride at 80% and Leonie Guiney at 63%.

Waugh got 49%, Nicholls 44% and Tuuta 40%. . . 

Dairy-farm price per hectare plunges – Sally Rae:

Farm sales across the country for the year to October were down more than 10%, while dairy farm  per-hectare prices have pulled back almost 30% during the past year.

In Otago and Southland, there was strong activity in finishing, grazing and arable properties, but dairy farm purchases in both provinces were affected, with restricted supply of capital.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said for the three months to October there were 263 sales, just two more than a year ago.

Across the country for the year to October 1475 farms were sold, a 10.5% decline on the same period last year. Dairy farm sales were down 7.7%, grazing farms fell 5.6%, finishing was down 13.2% and there were 22.5% fewer arable farms. . . 

Genetic changes will allow merino sheep come down from the mountains – Heather Chalmers:

Synonymous with the South Island high country, merino sheep may be farmed more widely as farmers are lured by high fine wool prices and genetic improvements. 

Merino woolgrower Bill Sutherland, of Benmore Station near Omarama, said it was boom times for the New Zealand merino industry. 

“In a time when strong wool prices are at a historical low, the prices for merino wool have rarely been better,” he told the New Zealand Grassland Association conference in Twizel.  . . 

New boss hears farmers:

Farmers delivered a stern message to new director-general of primary industries Ray Smith at a meeting in Ashburton on Wednesday – they want to be top of his list.

He attended the meeting, facilitated by Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in response to desperate calls for help from local farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovi, off his own bat.

Farming leaders from across the country including national dairy chairman Chris Lewis and meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson also attended the closed session.

“This meeting was organised so these national leaders could hear from affected farmers and get their stories straight from the horse’s mouth,” Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Chris Ford said. . . 

Interest in competition suggests promising future for agriculture – Sally Rae:

McKenzie Smith grasps every opportunity to learn new skills.

Mckenzie (17), a year 13 pupil at Southland Girls’ High School, is chairwoman of the school’s TeenAg club.

TeenAg — which comes under the umbrella of New Zealand Young Farmers — is aimed  at introducing and promoting a positive picture of agriculture and agricultural careers to pupils from an early age. The club has organised an AgriKidsNZ competition at Southland Girls’ High School on Thursday, for years 7-8 pupils, and team numbers have more than doubled from last year. . . 

Jersey cows eat differently – Abby Bauer:

Each dairy cattle breed has its perks and its quirks, and Jerseys are no exception. On our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm, we certainly notice differences in personality and behavior between our Jerseys and Guernseys.

These breed differences are what led the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All Jersey Inc. to partner with university and industry experts to create a webinar series focused on the Jersey breed. One of their webinar topics was feeding the lactating cow, and the presenters were Bill Weiss and Maurice Eastridge from The Ohio State University.

The pair of professors pointed out that much of the research in the field of nutrition has been done on Holsteins. While many of these recommendations can fit other breeds, there are a few ways that Jerseys are unique. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 18, 2018

Old values and new practices – Glenys Christian:

Richard Cookson and his wife Louise Cullen studied at Lincoln University but then went overseas for work at scientists rather than heading for the farm. However, 12 years ago they answered a call to return home and now run a cow and goat dairy unit.

They not only enjoy it but are proud of what they are doing and want all New Zealanders to be proud of farmers as the keepers of Kiwi values. They are leading by example, not just on the farm but also by giving back to the sector and community and setting environmental standards. . .

Lamb prices pushing the limit – Annette Scott:

Lamb prices are not aligned with global market fundamentals, prompting a warning of a looming correction.

Procurement prices as high as $8.70 a kilogram are out of whack from a global perspective but reflect the limited number of lambs in the market, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Heather Stacy said.

While the weaker New Zealand dollar is playing a key role in keeping lamb prices up, a push-back is imminent. . .

Better understanding of nutrient movement – Pam Tipa:

We need a better understanding of nutrient transport across catchments, says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), Simon Upton.

And he says we also need better understanding of what nutrient models can and can’t do to assist in building a picture and better communication of what is happening to water quality. . .

Young Farmers’ Next 50 message: move with he times or wither – Simon Edwards:

There were some blunt words on glyphosate, fake meat burgers and farmers who won’t embrace change at the Wellington Young Farmers Club’s 2018 Industry Function.

During a panel discussion The Next 50: Future of Farming the conversation roved from 3D conferencing and holograms to Maori business models, and from disruptive technologies to milking sheep.

Dr Linda Sissons, of the Primary ITO, agreed with other speakers that increasing numbers of people will need to re-train every 10 or 15 years, if not more frequently.  Her organisation was introducing a suite of ‘Micro-credentials’ – short and sharp courses that farmers and others in the primary sectors could study in between other commitments. . .

German investment company to sell central North Island farms in Taihape and Waikaha – Sam Kilmister:

German company is offloading two central North Island farms, totalling about 1150 hectares.

Aquilla Capital, an asset management and investment company, bought the two sheep and beef blocks in 2012, but the Taihape and Waikaha properties are being offered for sale within the next month. 

The European company bought the farms on a fixed-term investment, requiring them to be sold by a specific date.

MyFarm, a Feilding-based investment service, oversaw on-farm operations. Its sheep and beef director Tom Duncan said the two properties were much better than when they were bought six years ago. . .

Cricketers’ company spins NZ lamb onto airlines’ menus:

Premium airline travellers departing India are now being served Pure South lamb from New Zealand.

Lamb is on the menu for first-class and business class passengers flying Air Canada, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and Air France after QualityNZ, Alliance Meat Co-op’s India partner, signed an agreement with two airline catering companies in India.

QualityNZ, whose shareholders include cricketing legends Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, is also celebrating success in the foodservice sector with Pure South lamb now available at more than 300 five-star hotels in India. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

August 6, 2018

Top official knows the human cost of bovis – Sally Rae:

July 22, 2017, will go down as a significant date in New Zealand’s agricultural history. On that day, bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was confirmed as being in the country, triggering New Zealand’s largest and most expensive biosecurity response. Sally Rae, who has covered the outbreak since the beginning, reflects on the past year and also talks to the man charged with heading the national response.

Geoff Gwyn admits hearing from farmers hit by Mycoplasma bovis is the toughest part of his job.

“These stories are intensely personal. Being under regulatory control or, worst case scenario, having a herd built up over decades culled is a really tough time for people.

“It has a large impact on their psyche, their mental health, the financial viability of their business. All these are hard conversations to have.” . .

US company buys NZ wool for insulation – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand wool producers have landed a large contract to supply a United States company with fibre for home insulation.

They also claim wool is a healthier product than fibreglass which is the dominant insulating material on the market, a claim that has been disputed by fibreglass manufacturers.

The deal, brokered by NZ Merino (NZM), will see 200 tonnes of Landcorp coarse wool supplied to US insulation company Havelock Wool. This represents about 10 per cent of Landcorp’s supply to NZM. . . 

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd continues to grow:

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 1.9 per cent over the past year while the decline in the sheep flock was slowed by a lift in hoggets as farmers responded positively to strong prices and good grass growth leading into winter, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The annual stock number survey conducted by B+LNZ’s Economic Service, shows 3.7 million beef cattle with beef production continuing to grow.

The largest contributor to the increase in the number of beef cattle was a lift in weaner cattle in Marlborough-Canterbury, which was driven by younger cattle being retained by beef breeders. . . 

No big rise in calf kill expected – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers should get a little more money for their bobby calves this season but meat companies don’t expect a big increase in slaughter tallies.

Higher prices overseas for skins and the lower value of the New Zealand dollar have enabled some meat companies to add up to 20c/kg to their bobby calf schedules.

Others said they are paying the same as last winter and will be competitive with prevailing prices.

The range for medium calves, 13.5kg to 18kg carcaseweight, where most weights fall, is reportedly $1.85/kg to $2/kg. . . 

Storage ponds a ‘ludicrous’ alternative to dam:

Claims about storage ponds being a viable alternative to the Waimea Community Dam are ludicrous, says Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) Chair Murray King.

“There are many reasons storage ponds won’t solve the region’s water problem, including insufficient capacity, ponds not addressing the minimum flow requirements on the Waimea River, and the lack of funding available for them.

“The idea is utterly ludicrous. A combined storage volume of 6 million cubic metres of water won’t meet the minimum flow requirements set out in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) and provide adequate water for water users in dry periods. The minimum flows were established through an Environment Court process so the Council can give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. . . 

Collaboration critical to capture red meat sector opportunities:

The opportunities and challenges facing New Zealand’s red meat sector were highlighted at the annual Red Meat Sector conference held in Napier this week.

The one-day conference, which attracted around 250 red meat industry stakeholders, featured a range of speakers who set the scene for the sector, identified the challenges and highlighted the many opportunities for red meat in a dynamic global market.

One of the over-riding themes was the need to work collaboratively to ensure the red meat sector is well positioned to capture premiums for its product on the world stage.

In setting the scene, former Zespri CEO and chair of the Primary Sector Council Lain Jager said he is convinced there will always be a market for ruminant protein because the world needs more protein. . . 

The dairy season in New Zealand kicks off with a reasonable seasonal weather outlook:

Even with El Nino talk intensifying the weather looks good for the start of the dairy season

Dairy cows around the country tend to freshen in the month of August and grass growth becomes important as production ramps up with warmer weather. It was only last December when large parts of the country were shocked by the dry and exceptionally warm weather. This year, in contrast, looks to be headed in a slightly different direction. The latest and updated every ten-day seasonal rainfall and temperature outlook is for benign conditions through October.

The slightly drier monthly forecasts for Northland through the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and the Manawatu and down the west coast of the South Island and into Southland might be welcomed. . . 

Cedenco Foods is Hawke’s Bay Exporter of the Year:

An impressive commitment to product development and innovation has seen fruit and vegetable manufacturer Cedenco Foods New Zealand named as ExportNZ Hawke’s Bay ASB Exporter of the Year.

The Gisborne-based business was presented with the award by the Head of Trade Finance at ASB Bank, Mike Atkins, at the sold-out awards dinner last night at the Napier Conference Centre. Earlier in the evening, Cedenco had won the inaugural T&G Global Best Medium to Large ExporterAward.

The judges said Cedenco impressed them with their investment in market research, customer relationships, and R&D to get their product right for the customer. . . 

Kiwi ingenuity a stand-out at  this year’s Pork Awards – winners announced at NZPork’s annual gala dinner:

New Zealand’s creative culinary ingenuity shone bright at The Orange in Auckland last night, where a mix of local farmers, butchers, retailers and industry leaders gathered to celebrate the winners of the eleventh annual Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards.

The competition, which took place in July, provided more than 40 pork retailers from across the country with the chance to showcase their best and most innovative New Zealand born and raised pork products. . . 


Rural round-up

March 31, 2018

Synthetic clothing damaging to ocean says NZ Merino chief – Gerard Hutching:

Wool could be part of the answer to the scourge of microplastics, the New Zealand Merino Company says.

A grouping of manufacturers spearheaded by the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) will soon launch an international campaign highlighting the virtues of natural fibres.

new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) shows 35 per cent of minute plastic particles in the ocean are caused by washing synthetic clothing such as polar fleeces.

The Government has moved to ban microbeads, which make up just 2 per cent of the oceans’  plastic particles. . . 

Shearathon raises money for suicide help groups – Annette Scott:

The success of a 24-hour shearathon raising awareness of suicide prevention has virtually blown its organisers off the board.

Hosted at White Rock in North Canterbury, the shearathon pulled in more than $45,000 including close to $18,000 raised in a charity auction after the shearing.

Spokesman Mark Herlihy said the event exceeded any expectation.

Herlihy lost his young brother to suicide in 2016.

The tragedy left the family questioning why he hadn’t asked for help, prompting the drive for greater awareness of mental health and suicide prevention.  . . 

Meat processors gearing up for extra cattle from Mp. bovis outbreak:

New Zealand’s meat processors are gearing up for the extra cattle expected to go through the plants as a result of the Mycoplasma Bovis (Mp. bovis) cull.

“Over the past five years, the average number of adult cattle processed in April has been 278,000, but this has ranged between 254,000 and 318,000 head for the month over this period. The average number of adult cattle processed in May over the last five years has been just under 349,000 thousand, ranging from 310,00 to 392,000 during the month over the period,” says Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Tim Ritchie, adding the numbers fluctuate from year to year dependent on climate and other factors. . . 

Anchor cheese is back with a difference:

Anchor cheese is back and this time there’s a guaranteed lactose free option. For years milk, butter and yoghurt have all been part of Fonterra’s Anchor range and now cheese is coming into the fold. 

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Director of Marketing, Clare Morgan, says the addition of cheese to Fonterra’s Anchor family continues Anchor’s tradition of a love of dairy and innovation.  

“When pioneer Henry Reynolds launched Anchor in 1886 he would have never imagined that over a century later more than 150 Anchor products would be sold every minute. This week it’s set to grow even more.”

As well as the traditional Tasty, Colby and Edam, there are two new additions – Protein+ and Zero Lacto. . . 

Sheep farmers in row with WWF after wildlife foundation claimed lamb stew environmentally unfriendly – Francesca Marshall:

Sheep farmers have butted heads with a national wildlife foundation after it published a report labelling lamb stew as one of the most environmentally unfriendly meals in the UK.

Farmers’ Unions have been left “astonished” and “disappointed” by a report published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which labelled Welsh lamb cawl as the most polluting classic British meal.

The report, published to highlight how some of Britain’s favourite dishes could change as a result of climate change, said a bowl of lamb cawl produced as much pollution as boiling a kettle 258 times because of methane from sheep. . . 

Don’t blame growers and bakers for the $10 heirloom loaf. Blame American farm policy – Stephen S. Wade:

The day is cold and windy, a sunny but bracing 32 degrees in New York City. But at the Union Square Greenmarket, one of more than 50 farmers’ markets in the city, and a stalwart in operation since 1976, a brisk business is afoot at the Regional Grains Project stand. While the winter tends to be quiet for many regional farmers who sell their products at the market, it’s high season for the stand, a collaborative effort between the Greenmarket and a number of farmers, millers, and distributors in the Northeast.

Piled high with freshly milled flours, whole grains, beans, and cooking oils, all sourced from the northeastern United States, the stand sees a steady early morning stream of visitors. Home bakers, interested eaters, and regulars all pop by to pick up bulk bags of rolled oats for the hot breakfasts that sustain them through winter’s last gasp. A baker connected to Greenmarket favorite She Wolf Bakery, stops by to pick up several bulk bags of rye flour—a stopgap measure meant to last until the company can get a full pallet of flour from the same mill. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 19, 2017

Further 1000 Mycoplasma Bovis cattle to be culled in South Canterbury – Ryan Dunlop:

A further 1000 cattle will be culled in South Canterbury due to the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis.

According to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), that will bring the total cull number up to 5000.

Meanwhile several people have applied to the ministry for compensation for loss of livestock and productivity. 

On Wednesday, MPI confirmed another farm in South Canterbury was infected with the disease, bringing the total infected properties to eight. . . 

Safe’s distortion of harmless farming practice – Jon Morgan:

 Take a look at this video supplied by the animal rights group, Safe. It shows a cow running behind a car towing a trailer holding three calves.

Safe sent the video to TVNZ and it has been picked up by other news organisations and run by them without any attempt to find out what is actually happening.

Safe alleges that this is a “distressed” cow “chasing” after her calves, showing a strong bond between them.

However, the overwhelming opinion of dairy farmers who have seen the video is that nothing of the kind is happening. . . 

Wool sale best in a long time – Alan Williams:

Prices gained ground across the board at Thursday’s special live wool auction at the Christchurch A&P Show.

“Best sale in a long time,” PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager and auctioneer Dave Burridge said.

He estimated nearly $6 million of wool was sold at the sale, the second auction staged at the show.

First-up at the sale was the New Zealand Merino co offering and auctioneer Mike Hargadon later noted a little more enthusiasm on the buyer bench than at the usual market venue, in what was a very firm market for its fine wools. . . 

Shearing: Tony Coster wins national title at Canterbury Show:

Former New Zealand representative shearer and multiple national all-breeds champion Tony Coster reckoned he only shore in yesterday’s New Zealand Corriedale Championship to get out of doing a job.

But trading the job he says he would have otherwise been doing produced unexpected results, for the now 50-year-old Rakaia veteran when he beat World champion John Kirkpatrick by over a minute in a six-man final over 12 sheep each and won the Canterbury Show feature for a third time.

“I’m on the committee, or at least I help run a few things,” he said. “If I hadn’t shorn I would have had a few jobs to do.” . . 

ACCC set to deliver “myth busting” analysis of $1/L milk selling – Colin Bettles:

MICK Keogh has delivered a comprehensive update of the competition watch-dog’s legal enforcement and oversight activities in different troublesome segments of agricultural supply chains.

Mr Keogh – a long term policy analyst and respected commentator at the Australian Farm Institute – is one of seven Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Commissioners and is spearheading its Agricultural Enforcement and Engagement Unit.

He spoke at an Agribusiness Australia forum in Canberra last week providing a frank assessment of current competition issues which carry economic and political consequences, for the farm sector,

That list includes an ongoing inquiry into the dairy supply chain that’s set to deliver a “myth busting” report in terms of dissolving common misconceptions about food retailers selling $1 per litre milk. . . 

 


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