Rural round-up

June 20, 2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

June 15, 2018

Government ministers try to build bridges with the rural community, some by ‘friendship’, some by bullying. Also, why are there three national farm databases? -Guy Trafford:

The government certainly seems to be trying to build bridges with the farming sector based upon Damien O’Connor involvement.

Wearing his hat as Minister of Rural Communities he spoke to farmers and others at the Mystery Creek Field Days today. He was announcing the Rural Proofing Policy.

The focus of the policy is to make sure rural communities unique challenges are reflected in government policy. He said, “The bottom line is that rural Kiwis should have equitable access to social and economic opportunities, to reach their full potential,” . .

 NZ biosecurity top-scores in KPMG agribusiness survey :

Biosecurity has remained the highest-ranked priority for the New Zealand primary sector for the eighth year in a row, KPMG said in its latest issue of AgriBusiness Agenda.

KPMG, in releasing its survey results at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, said biosecurity incursions, environmental challenges, water quality, labour availability, trade wars and rural infrastructure all featured prominently among respondents, who were industry leaders across the primary sector. . .

Waikato farmers need an environmental plan :

Without a vision or a farm environment plan, it won’t happen, reckons Waikato sheep and beef farmer Bill Garland.

And he should know. Bill and his wife Sue have been retiring land — steep land and gullies prone to erosion, severely degraded forest fragments, waterways and other sensitive areas — since the 1980s.

He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to farming and conservation in 2004. . .

Nesting river birds at risk from ground and air predators – Tony Benny:

A trapping programme in Canterbury’s upper Rakaia River has revealed hedgehogs to be a major threat to the rare and endangered native birds that nest there. Tony Benny reports.

Canterbury’s ever-changing braided rivers are almost unique in the world. Fed by torrential alpine rains, they are constantly bringing down from the mountains gravel and sediment that over millennia have formed the Canterbury Plains.

Before Europeans arrived, the wide, gravelly riverbeds were largely free of plants, thanks to periodic floods. A variety of bird species evolved, specifically adapted to breed in this often-inhospitable environment where they were free of animal predators. . . 

Bia and Kai – the same only different – Brendan O’Connell:

In the next 4 months, as New Zealand enters its winter and Ireland leaves its summer, 2 events will bring together the productive drivers of each country, their farmers. National Field Days, the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere and National Ploughing Championships, the largest agricultural exhibition in Ireland, will both showcase all that is great about the agricultural capabilities of each country.

Following 6 weeks in my home country of Ireland the likeness of these islands has rarely been more acute to me as I now return to my adopted home of New Zealand, just in time for Fieldays. Like any good relationship, what you find similar kicks off the attraction but what you find different is the real basis for a long-lasting relationship. I’ve often described New Zealand as similar enough to be comfortable and different enough to be exciting.

In these global times of growing populations and shifting wealth profiles there is a lot to gain in exploring the role of these 2 producing nations and the differences that could add up to something. There are rich lessons in differences that encompass include food narratives, market access, farming practices, seasonal supply and technology applications. . .

How Lego and the farm came together to inspire a new generation about agriculture – Laura Chung:

For many young people deciding what career to pursue can be overwhelming.

Aimee Snowden, from the small town of Tocumwal in the New South Wales Riverina district, aims to make it easier for young people to consider a career in agriculture through her project, Little Brick Pastoral.

Little Brick Pastoral is an education tool for students, teachers and adults to learn more about the agricultural industry and careers in Australia through Lego. . .


Rural round-up

June 14, 2018

Fieldays 2018: NZ farming ‘boxes above its weight’

Nearly 25,000 people attended day one of the 50th New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation opened this year’s event on Wednesday speaking of the changes the agricultural industry has seen over the last 50 years and introduced this year’s theme of the future of farming.

“New Zealand and our agricultural industry is vastly different to what it was in 1969 largely driven by our hunger and desire to be leaders in our special industry,” he said. . .

Time for strugglers to sell?

Heavily indebted farmers may be under pressure from their banks to sell up on the rising farm market to get out of their debt.

“Reading between the lines, it might be a case of the banks suggesting to the perennial strugglers that it is time to sell up,” said Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard.

Banks may have been waiting “until things are looking rosy” on farm prices before encouraging customers to look at their options.

Hoggard was commenting on the May 2018 Federated Farmers’ Banking Survey, which showed that more farmers are feeling under financial pressure, and are less satisfied with their banks. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis threatens to put a dampener on children’s calf day – Gerard Hutching:

Girls at Hiwinui School in Manawatu have already started choosing names for the calves they are eagerly anticipating arriving in a few weeks’ time.

But this year the bogey of Mycoplasma bovis might be the party pooper that diminishes the fun for thousands of children who enjoy the traditional lamb and calf day at their local schools.

Each spring children attending rural schools bring in the animals they have raised since birth to show their classmates, and Hiwinui with a roll of 143 is no exception. . .

Farmers deserve answers – Steve Cranston:

Most farmers would be surprised to learn there is no evidence that New Zealand agriculture is warming the planet.

All that farmers have heard from scientists, the Government and at times their own companies is that agriculture is a major contributor to NZ’s emissions.

However, what everyone forgot to tell the farmers is that no direct correlation exists between methane emissions and global warming. The problem is that the accounting method used fails to acknowledge the fact methane is constantly degrading back to CO2, and it is only when emissions exceed degradation that warming will occur. . .

Bachelors and bachelorettes go head-to-head for Rural Catch of the Year – Ruby Nyika:

There’s no rose ceremony, but the love-catch competition might just be fiercer than ever. 

The Rural Bachelor – a 13-year-running Fieldays favourite – has been revamped to the Rural Catch of the Year. 

For the first time rural women join the men vying to be crowned the most eligible rural singleton.  . .

Waikato’s Te Poi farm changes hands after 103 years with Bell family – Kelly Tantau:

A farm in rural Waikato has history seeping into its soil.

For 103 years, one bloodline resided on the 56 hectare plot in Te Poi, living through two World Wars, economic changes, births and deaths.

The family was the Bells; pioneers of their trade and strong-willed labourers well-known in the small town 9km from Matamata.

Allan Bell, the grandson of the farm’s first owners John and Minnie Bell, said the family broke new ground. . .

 60 years of milk – Co-op farmer celebrates diamond supply anniversary:

When 88-year-old Raglan farmer Jim Bardsley first started supplying Fonterra, he remembers separating his own milk.

Always  the inventor, Jim’s flying fox was one of many memories shared by friends and family at his retirement lunch. Shareholders’ Councillor Ross Wallis and Raglan Area Manager Brendan Arnet were also on hand to congratulate Jim on six decades of supply. . . 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2017

Better communication will bridge rural urban divide – Hayden Dillon:

The farming community needs to step up to help lessen the rift between city and country.

I believe the debates during the course of the recent election campaign oversimplified some issues that are core to the agri sector, such as water and soil quality. These have created divisions that are not helping New Zealand move forward.

As with many complex issues, the rush to simplify the discussions and debate has seen farming, in particular dairying, blamed for many of our environmental problems.

That’s simply not correct. . .

Appreciate world’s best office :

Stopping to appreciate the small things in life really helps people handle the big stuff. 

That was one of the messages coming through loud and clear from farmers involved in rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong, project leader Gerard Vaughan said.

Over the last two years Vaughan and video maker Nigel Beckford have been busy interviewing Kiwi farmers about what they do to keep well and avoid burnout.

They’ve been sharing the best tips and advice in short video clips on the Farmstrong website – http://www.farmstrong.co.nz. . . 

It’s not smart to tough it out on your own:

It’s Mental Health Week and the theme is “Nature is Key – Unlock Your Wellbeing”.

The idea is to escaping stressful or ‘same old rut’ work and home environments to eat your lunch in a park or at the beach, to take the family for a weekend bush walk, etc.  It can lift spirits, put you back in touch with Nature, and get you thinking about your health, your priorities – and whether you may need to reach out for help or advice.

Federated Farmers President Katie Milne welcomes the focus on mental health and talking through issues and feelings with others.  “Our great outdoors can also be a wonderful tonic.”

But for rural folk, Mother Nature can also be a source of considerable stress.  Storms, floods, ailing livestock, droughts, etc., can ratchet up financial woes, relationship strains and the feeling ‘it’s all too much’.. . .

Mental health support needed for farmers – Alexa Cook:

A Waikato farmer is pushing for the government to provide better mental health support for the rural sector.

Research shows that the suicide rate in New Zealand’s rural sector is up to 50 percent higher than in urban areas.

Dairy farmer Richard Cookson has had his own struggle with mental health, and said while there is good crisis support for farmers, such as the Rural Support Trust, there isn’t enough for depression.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Mr Cookson said a good start would be free counselling to get farmers in the door, but the sector also needs quite specific help. . . 

Media accepts pseudoscience drivel unchallenged – Doug Edmeades:

 Damn it all. Someone is not listening and I am now forced to repeat myself. My last column ended thus:

“Without an independent principled fourth estate we may be drifting away from being a society in which our policies are based on evidence, rational thought and logic analysis and which encourages and embraces criticism. If we are not careful we could drift back to a time when humans believed in alchemy, witches and taniwha”.

In this last week, as if on cue, three media outlets coughed up three items of demonstrable drivel.

Exhibit 1: The NZ Farmers Weekly (October 2) gave their opinion page to Phyllis Tichinin in an article headlined, Urea cascade cause of problems. She attributes many animal health, soil and environmental problems to the overuse of urea. Opinion yes, evidence no. Her whole thesis fails the logical test of cause and effect. How can one thing – in this case urea – have so many unrelated effects? As one qualified reader expressed it to me: “I struggle to find one fact or one statement that isn’t a falsehood.” . . .

Is this synthetic food thing for real? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Synthetic food is being talked about rather more than it is being eaten.

The balance might change in future as the technologies develop, but at the moment there is more hype and interest than hunger and intake.

The Impossible Burger seems to be the focus at the moment. The burger is made in the laboratory from wheat (grown in a field) and involves a ‘haem’ from legumes. The haem is pink (it is responsible for the colour in healthy, nitrogen-fixing clover root nodules) and so confers the burger with ‘bleeding’ properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Doug Avery – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Marlborough Proud Farmer Doug Avery whose Resilient Farmer platform aims to deliver powerful support to New Zealand farmers across the three pillars — financial, environmental and social. Through road shows and ongoing mentoring, he helps farmers to adopt new thinking and practices. Check out his best selling book The Resilient Farmer, and his website http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz for more information .
How long have I been farming?

46 years but I am only involved in the directorship of the business now and financial control.
What sort of farming are you involved in?
We grow wool, meat, crops , dairy support and people. . .

Fieldays growth underlines primary sector importance:

The importance of the primary sector to the New Zealand economy is emphasised today by Fieldays’ 2017 Economic Impact Report.

A report prepared by the University of Waikato Management School’s Institute of Business Research, reveals that the biggest agricultural expo in the southern hemisphere, generated an estimated $238 million to New Zealand’s GDP, an increase of 24.7 per cent when compared to 2016.

Federated Farmers’ Board member Chris Lewis is particularly familiar with Fieldays and regards the event as a key indicator to how the country is faring. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 6, 2017

Ag-tech edge requires boldness – Conor English:

Just as the axe handle allowed the human race to prevail, New Zealand needs to put its mind to discovering the next combination of technologies that is going to keep our country at the forefront of ag and food technology.

That is going to take capital, risk, and some out-of-the-box thinking.  There is much to do if we want to lead the race, writes Conor English.

The axe handle was incredibly important for the human race.

By combining three previously separate elements — a stone, a stick and string — humans invented a tool that gave them leverage and strength to better hunt animals that were faster and stronger than us. . . 

New technologies helping clean up NZ’s waterways:

New Zealand farmers and companies are starting to use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, data analytics and automation to decrease impact on New Zealand rivers, a leading national tech expert says.

In countries, right across the world the IoT devices are being used to help clean up water, New Zealand IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says.

Irrigation is by far the largest use of water in New Zealand, making up 65.9 percent of water use between 2013 and 2014, the Ministry for the Environment says. . . 

Farmers becoming ‘lepers’ due to cattle disease scare – Gerard Hutching:

South Canterbury and Otago beef farmers are unwitting victims of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis even though testing so far has shown their livestock are free of any traces of the disease.

A farmer who rears calves as dairy support told Stuff he had a contract worth $100,000 for 200 calves cancelled as soon as the buyer heard the animals were being tested.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has indicated these farmers will not be eligible for compensation. . . 

Provisional tax relief at last – Chris Cunliffe:

Provisional tax has long been difficult to get right and expensive to get wrong.

But not anymore: the much-maligned old rules have been put out to pasture.

These assumed farmers and growers could correctly forecast their income tax liability ahead of time, but if their prediction was not spot-on they got slapped by Inland Revenue’s steep interest on top of the underpaid amount.

Now new rules provide greater certainty about payments and reduce compliance costs for businesses who calculate their payments using the standard method. This method means you base your payments on 105% of last year’s income tax liability (or 110% of the previous year’s liability if your return has not been filed). Most taxpayers pay provisional tax this way. . . 

Dunedin produces mastitis diagnostics – Sally Rae:

A Dunedin-based startup has produced a diagnostic test kit to help farmers deal with the costly problem of bovine mastitis.

Mastitis, which is inflammation of the udder, is a major financial burden to the dairy industry, both in New Zealand and globally.

It was predominantly treated using antibiotics and mastitis treatment was the largest single use for animal health antibiotics.

On average, it was estimated to cost about $60,000 a year for an 800-cow herd, and the industry, as a whole, about $280 million.

Mastaplex founder Dr Olaf Bork has been developing products for treating mastitis at the Bayer Centre for Animal Health, before patenting his own research and founding the startup company. . . 

Wet flattens milk curve – Hugh Stringleman:

The extraordinary number of wet days over winter has raised the worry of a repeat spring milk production plateau rather than peak.

Soils in almost all dairying districts were saturated and fine weather was needed to kick-start spring grass growth and milk production.

Dairy farmers in northern provinces had almost completed the extended winter pasture feeding rotation when cows were break-fed the saved autumn pasture growth for 90 days. . . 

Major increase in community conservation funding:

Conservation work in New Zealand will be supercharged by substantially increasing the amount of money available to hard-working volunteer groups, National Party Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“We have a beautiful natural environment, and the efforts of local communities are crucial to protecting our landscape and native species for future generations,” Ms Barry says.

To support these groups, National will more than double the amount of funding available through the Department of Conservation Community Fund, from $4.6 million to $10 million a year. . . 

Spring farm sales upturn expected – Alan Williams:

Winter calving and lambing preparations and rainfall impacts have slowed the rural real estate market but prices have remained firm.

With an increased milk payout and higher beef prices “a quiet air of confidence or perhaps relief is quietly growing with the rural sector”, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Sales for the three months to the end of July were down by 76 to 392 compared to the end of June when there were 459 sales. In the July period last year there were 468 sales. . . 

New Zealand King Salmon fy17 result and dividend exceed expectations:

A combination of operational achievements and a successful market positioning strategy underpins strong growth for New Zealand King Salmon Investments Ltd which today reported its full year result for the twelve months to 30 June 2017 (FY17). The Board affirms the Company’s full year FY18 forecast as presented in its Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) dated 23 September 2016, prepared for its Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Key highlights include:

• Net profit after tax of $22.8 million, up 778% on the comparable twelve month period to 30 June 2016 (FY16) and 125% ahead of the Prospective Financial Information forecast (PFI) . . 

Fieldays reveals post-event survey results and theme for 50th anniversary in 2018

Results from a recent visitor and exhibitor survey has New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays celebrating another successful year as preparations begin for their 50th anniversary event in 2018.

In the survey, 96 per cent of visitors rated their experience of Fieldays 2017 as “good” to “excellent” and 92 per cent of exhibitors said they would exhibit again.

The iconic event, billed as the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, saw a record 133,588 people through the gates – its highest visitor number yet. . . 


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