Rural round-up

26/10/2021

Costs wave to break over farming – Hugh Stringleman:

A one-and-a-half percent rise in interest rates over the next year will be a large component of rapidly rising on-farm inflation.

After a decade of low interest rates, the forecast increase in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) from 0.5% to 2% looks set to increase the interest portion of debt servicing by as much as one-third.

For individual farmers, the added interest cost will be dependent on total indebtedness and their mixture of fixed and floating rates.

The most recent Federated Farmers banking survey said the average farm mortgage rate was 3.8% and the average farm debt, across all types, was $4.3 million. . .

Peak milk underway in second Covid-affected season – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra is facing its second consecutive season where peak milk collection is affected by covid-19.

The co-operative is expecting to process 80 million litres a day over the next few months, while at the same time keeping its 12,000 staff nationwide safe from the virus.

Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says the co-operative had been working through a lot of management and business continuity plans to deal with covid while ensuring it was able to process the volumes coming through the factory.

“They are dynamic and they change because the environment changes,” Whineray said. . .

Shearing  his passion for six decades – Shannon Thomson:

Shearing — both the industry and the sport — has been a lifetime love for New Zealand Merino Shearing Society life member Graeme Bell.

A wool classer and master woolhandler, Mr Bell has been involved with shearing since the Merino Shears began in Alexandra in 1961.

He was 10.

Growing up in the centre of Alexandra, he did not come from farming stock, but as a young boy the lifesyle of the local shearers caught his eye. . .

Getting broadband to everyone – Mike Smith:

Recent episodes of Fair Go have highlighted the difficulties a number of rural people have in getting access to quality, reliable broadband and how tough this makes their lives.

Businesses can’t operate without a solid connection, kids can’t be educated from home when required, and life is just harder for everyone.

As chair of WISPA-NZ, which represents specialist internet providers who look after many rural users, I understand why having access to the Internet is now a vital part of everyday life.

The 37 companies that make up our group are all specialists in using wireless internet technology to get to the places phone cable and fibre don’t reach. . . 

Farmers urged to plan for dry summer – Shawn McAvine:

Farmers are being encouraged to plan ahead in the event of another dry summer.

Otago Rural Support Trust trustee and Otago Drought Recovery Committee member Amy Francis said the trust formed the committee after a drought was declared in Otago in April this year.

Her sheep and beef farm in Five Forks had been dry.

Recent rain had been ‘‘amazing’’ but the soil lacked moisture. . .

Country diary: My first sheep auction since Covid is an emotional one – Andrea Meanwell:

In my quest to buy some Swaledale gimmer lambs, I’m reminded that farmers in their 50s are considered youngsters.

As I walk through the double doors and into the auction, the smell of sheep and sawdust makes me feel suddenly emotional. During Covid I missed going to sales, missed chatting to other farmers and just being in a busy place with other people.

Today is one of the biggest sales of the year, the Swaledale and Rough Fell draft ewe sale at Kendal auction. Traditionally sheep were “drafted” off the fells after about four lambings, and sold to other farmers with better land for the remainder of their lives. While there are plenty of draft ewes here, there are also sheep of all ages from all over the Lake District.

I don’t really need to buy any sheep, but I have agreed with my son, whom I farm in partnership with, that should I see some Swaledale gimmer lambs I like, we can pay up to £70 each for them. We have calculated that at £70 they are affordable. Some people like to go to shopping centres for their retail therapy; I go to sheep auctions. . .

 


Rural round-up

13/05/2021

Fonterra floats deep reform – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra may be reformed with farmer-only shares of lower value and a share standard reduced by one-for-four in the preferred new capital structure.

Six months of consultation have begun on options to change the structure to give farmers greater financial flexibility.

If a general agreement emerges, shareholders could vote on a new structure at the November annual meeting where 75% majority approval would be required.

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (FSF), the mirror market which sets the value of supply shares, has been temporarily capped in size and may disappear in the future. . . 

Water to transform mid-north – Huigh Stringleman:

The first community water storage and irrigation scheme to be built in Northland for more than 30 years is taking shape on higher ground northeast of Kaikohe.

Diggers and earthmovers are about to begin the footings of an earth dam to define Matawii reservoir, which will be filled by rainfall from streams and drains in the small catchment when the flow rate is above median.

Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust (TTTWT) is building the dam to retain 750,000 cubic metres of water when full on 18ha of former dairy farm off State Highway 12 near Ngāwhā Springs, in the region locals call the Mid-North.

It will then build the infrastructure to distribute the water to private and corporate users in the district, including augmenting the Kaikohe town water supply. . .

50 years in shearing shed enough – Alice Scott:

Owen Rowland might have just celebrated his retirement after 50 years in the shearing shed — but he’s quick to point out he only did 49 on the handpiece.

Shearing is in the Rowland family blood. His father and uncle both shore their way into farm ownership, buying land at Enfield.

He can recall as a young fellow heading off to sit an exam at school.

“My uncle yelled out to not take too long so I could get back into the shearing shed, so I just went in, signed my name on the sheet and walked out again. And I have been shearing ever since.”   . . .

Merino shears found looking forward to 60th anniversary – Jared Morgan:

The New Zealand Merino Shears turns 60 in October and front and centre at the celebrations will be one of its founders.

The Alexandra man is the last of three, the late Brent Gow and the late Fred McSkimming, who “started the thing”.

He had, in part, been inspired by the exploits of Godfrey Bowen whom a British newspaper described as “shearing with the grace of [Rudolph] Nureyev’s dancing”.

Now aged 94, Mr Dreckow remembers being less impressed . . 

Lands of lonlieness the unbearable pressure of farm life – Nadine Porter:

Young farmworkers continue to be disproportionately represented in farm suicide figures despite higher awareness of mental health issues. A Stuff investigation by NADINE PORTER considers whether the isolation of farm life can exacerbate problems in vulnerable young men.

By the time Mark (not his real name) attempted to end his life, his farm job had all but consumed him.

Grafting 15 hours most days on an isolated West Coast property as a dairy farm manager and then as a contract milker, he had little time to deal with the thoughts in his head.

Employing staff, handling costs and organising day to day management of the farm was part of the plan to get ahead financially, but it also led to him becoming self-absorbed and distant from his wife and children. . . 

We’re on track to set a record for global record consumption – Dan Blaustein-Rejto and Alex Smith:

Bill Gates made headlines earlier this year for saying that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef” in an interview with MIT Technology Review about the release of his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. Although he recognized the political difficulty of telling Americans they can’t eat any more red meat, Gates said he sees real potential in plant-based alternatives from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Nevertheless, the world is expected to eat more meat in 2021 than ever before. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization projects that global meat consumption will rise by more than 1% this year. The fastest growth will occur in low- and middle-income countries, where incomes are steadily climbing. . .


Rural round-up

08/10/2018

Passion for industry that has a strong future – Sally Rae:

Katrina Bishop was exposed to the fine wool industry from a young age.

She grew up at Mt Otekaike Station in the Waitaki Valley where her father Geoff had a merino stud and a passion for fine wool.

That love of wool was passed on to her — “it’s in my veins, I had no choice” she laughed — and eventually led to a career in wool-classing.

More recently, she moved to a newly-created position with the New Zealand Merino Company as a wool preparation consultant. . . 

Award for “ODT” journalist:

Otago Daily Times agribusiness reporter Sally Rae has won the Alliance Group Ltd red meat industry journalism award.

The award recognised the ability to communicate the complexities of the red meat industry.

Ms Rae’s entries included a profile on former Central Otago man Mark Mitchell, who has spent the past 30 years working in the meat industry in the United States, particularly as a pioneer for New Zealand venison, and a feature on the Antipocurean Series which covered a visit to Minaret Station with a group of international chefs and food media. . . 

Adverse events scheme set to go – Neal Wallace:

The Government is planning to repeal the Adverse Events Scheme that smooths tax liability following an extreme event but say the process will be retained in other legislation.

The Adverse Events Scheme lets farmers and rural businesses smooth extreme income earned through an adverse event such as drought, flood or a Mycoplasma bovis cull and later spending for restocking.

Inland Revenue has proposed retaining the scheme by amending an existing law and including improved aspects of the scheme.

An IRD spokesman said a review of the scheme’s provisions found it is inflexible when compared to corresponding schemes. . . 

No surprises in government’s fresh water management strategy:

The government’s announcement this morning of its determination to encourage the entire community, not just farmers, to continue to clean up waterways came as no surprise to Federated Farmers.

The report outlined the government’s intention to keep the pressure on all Kiwis to continue to work towards better fresh water systems, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“All we ask is that the government uses an even hand. For example, the commitment to getting tougher on nutrient discharges to waterways needs to be applied fairly to both councils, corporates and farmers. 

Fast Five: The outdoor life :

Joe Lines grew up in the small seaside community of Tangimoana in Manawatu.

He describes himself as townie who spent most of his youth at the beach.

He left school and went farming because the money was good and he enjoyed working outdoors and with the stock.

He has been dairying for seven years and has worked his way up the progression ladder and is in his fourth season as a 2IC.   . . 

Stratford’s shearing season off to super start – Rachael Kelly:

It’s two from two for top shearer Nathan Stratford.

Fresh from a win at the New Zealand Merino Shears at Alexandra, he won the open competition at the Waimate Spring Shears on Saturday.

It’s only the beginning of the shearing  season but New Zealand representative Stratford said the competition was “top level,” with plenty of shearers from the North Island on the boards.

“There were four North Islanders and two South Islanders in the final.

Farmers lead community to fight local river pollution –  A New Zealand community stands up for clean water:

In New Zealand, the recently completed Pathway for the Pomahaka project showcased an innovative approach to sustainable development. Farmers took responsibility for improving local water quality in partnership with their community.

On its face, the area around the Pomahaka River in South Otago, on New Zealand’s South Island, is typical of the sort of unspoiled landscapes the country is famous for. Local water quality, however, has become a cause for concern. Levels of phosphates, nitrogen and E. coli were getting too high, with sediment entering the river and increasing pollution. The intensification of agriculture in the region, a shift toward dairy farming, and heavy soils coupled with a wet local climate all compounded the problem.

Without action, water quality would have continued to deteriorate. The Pomahaka might have eventually become unsuitable for recreational purposes like fishing, swimming and boating. . . 


Rural round-up

09/10/2013

Woman wins in rare shearing feat – Sarah Marquet:

For the first time since 1985, a woman has won the senior shearing title at the New Zealand Merino Shears, held in Alexandra on Saturday.Te Atakura Crawford (26), originally of Te Karaka, near Gisborne, but working in Australia, had only been back in New Zealand a few hours before she picked up the handpiece and took on 28 other shearers from around the country.

She was not the fastest shearer in the field but made up for it in quality points, something women are known for, according to New Zealand Merino Shearing Society president Mervyn Kinaston. . .

How dung beettles will improve NZ farms –  Dan Satherley:

Around 500 dung beetles have been released in the south Wairarapa as part of a plan to improve the soil on dairy farms.

This release will be the second to take place in New Zealand, after a Southland farm introduced dung beetles to its soil last month.

The big question is, what they will actually do for our ecosystem?

Bug expert Ruud Kleinpaste says the species being introduced into the North Island are “master diggers” that will return nutrients in cow manure right back into the soil where they fall.

“Nature knows no waste – whatever you and I may think of as waste, they think is a resource,” he said on Firstline this morning. . .

Silver Fern Farms addresses capacity issues, but no progress on meat industry restructure – Allan Barber:

The only meat industry capacity rationalisation evident so far is beef not sheepmeat related. Silver Fern Farms has announced the closure of the beef chain at its Waitoa plant which it bought 18 months ago from Wallace Corporation in, what CEO Keith Cooper said at the time, was an essential contribution to the meat industry’s sustainability.

The logic behind the purchase was to take out a competitor and to provide cover for the loss of Te Aroha’s capacity from a fire. According to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Winders the plant has fulfilled its purpose, but will be retained specifically for bobby calf processing for 12 weeks of the year. Management and veterinary oversight will be provided from Te Aroha which will not be operating at full capacity during the calf season.

Although Waitoa will be mothballed for the remaining 40 weeks of the year, it can be restarted on beef in the event of a drought. There will be 17 salaried positions made redundant as a result of the transfer of beef processing and management to Te Aroha. . .

Forest growers to elect first board:

The Forest Growers Levy Trust, the new organisation representing the interests of all plantation forest owners, large and small, is calling for nominations for its first elected board.

Chair Geoff Thompson says the referendum board of the Trust has applied to associate minister for primary industries Jo Goodhew for a commodity levy on logs and some other plantation forest products. The levy order, which is expected to be issued shortly, will establish a compulsory levy that will apply from 1 January 2014.

“In anticipation of this, elections are being held for the Trust board that will administer the funds raised by the levy. Nominations will be open from 14-31 October, followed by an on-line election for board members from 5-22 November.” . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest Launches in Christchurch:

The 46th season of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest officially got underway last Friday 4th October at the Commodore Hotel in Christchurch.

There was ample turnout at the launch from Young Farmers members, volunteers and representatives from sponsors ANZ bank, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
The Contest’s compere, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, opened the proceedings and was followed by other speakers such as outgoing NZYF CEO Richard Fitzgerald and Graham Turley, Managing Director Commercial and Agri for ANZ. . .

Second National Conference on Biological Farming Systems announced due to popular demand:

A Second national conference on biological farming systems will be held on 13-14 February 2014 in Rotorua. Theme of the conference is “Biological farming under different land uses”.

Biological farming is a holistic approach to modify and improve soil conditions for beneficial microbes to increase soil microbial activity that helps speed-up nutrient cycling, and to re-establish mineral balance in the soil. It is a mix of conventional and organic farming practices involving careful crop and soil monitoring to ensure optimum yields, nutritional density and humus production.

The conference will provide a forum for discussion of a wide range of topics for current and future biological farming systems research. The programme will include two days of technical sessions of oral and poster presentations, panel discussions and scientist-farmer interaction. . .


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