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

May 5, 2019

Sensible immigration will allow rural communities to flourish – Nick Hanson:

A big shakeup could be coming for New Zealand’s immigration policy.

Many of the proposed changes are sensible and will lead to a simplification of the immigration system, but there is also concern that while the system might be easier to understand, it will be harder, longer and more costly to employ workers from overseas.

Under the proposals, every employer who wishes to employ a migrant must become an accredited employer. In theory, this is good  migrants deserve to come to New Zealand to an employer who treats them well and complies with New Zealand employment law.  . . 

Fonterra could learn lessons in enterprise and growth from Australia’s Wesfarmers – Point of Order:

NZ  co-ops have been  getting  a  bad  media  rap   lately.  Take  Fonterra, for example.  Andrea Fox, one of the  country’s  best-informed journalists  specialising  in agriculture  issues,  started   a  new series in the  NZ  Herald  with the  headline:  “Fonterra: Disappointment and soured  dairy dreams”.

Noting   the dairy goliath had a silver-spoon  birth   nearly  18 years ago she  wrote:

“Today the  co-operative  is looking a bit like  the family’s overweight, lazy teenager  hogging the remote  on the biggest couch in the room And the  credit card bills are coming in”.

After Fonterra posted a historic first net loss of $196m, Fox  says  calls  are heating up  for  the company to be split up  and a  company, perhaps  listed, spun off it, open to outside capital  investment to  chase  high-value product  markets. One of the country’s investment  gurus, Brian Gaynor, says even major shareholders  are telling him it’s  time for  change. . . 

Uncertainty swirls over Mackenzie dairy plan – David Williams:

The legal battle over a large dairy farm planned for the Mackenzie Basin is heading to the High Court. David Williams reports.

The future of the Mackenzie Basin’s Simons Pass Station – a lightning rod for national environmental opposition – remains as unclear as a swirling effluent pond.

Dunedin businessman Murray Valentine has spent 16 years and millions of dollars gathering approvals, court settlements, and building infrastructure for a $100-million-plus dairy development at Simons Pass, near Lake Pukaki. Valentine told Newsroom last year he plans to irrigate 4500 hectares at the property – some of which is Crown lease land – and stock more than 15,000 animals, including 5500 cows. (The average herd size in New Zealand is 431 cows. The national herd is five million milking cows.)

As of late last year, 840 cows were being milked and Valentine says the development is about a quarter finished. . . 

Regional wrap:

Confident sheep and beef farmers are paying top money and have out-bid foresters for land on the North Island’s East Coast. In the South Island apple harvesting’s almost finished in the Nelson Motueka region.

Kaitaia, in Northland’s north, needs a good dose of rain – the five or six millimetres at the weekend didn’t help much.  Where there are wet spots in paddocks new grass is germinating well.

Around Pukekohe it’s been quiet in market gardens because of the school holidays and the working week being interrupted by statutory holidays. Many staff have taken time off. It’s been warmer this week than last and Monday’s 15mm of rainfall has been enough for most crops. . .

Bumper crop of Young Vegetable Growers:

Seven of New Zealand’s best and brightest will vie for the title of Young Vegetable Grower of the Year in a competition in Pukekohe next Friday, 10 May.

The victor will be crowned Young Vegetable Grower of the Year, and move on to the Young Grower national final, to be held in Tauranga in October. There, they will join the winners of the Bay of Plenty, Central Otago, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, and Gisborne regional fruit-grower events, to compete for the national title of Young Grower of the Year 2019.

Contestants will demonstrate their knowledge and skills around topics vital to the management of a successful horticulture business, including tractor proficiency, sales and marketing, and health and safety. The winner will be decided at an awards dinner on Friday night, where they will speak to an audience from throughout the industry about growing in a climate of change. . . 

Stuart Varney is proud to be a farmer the Fox business star sees a Chinese trade deal coming soon – Betsy Freese:

Stuart Varney has a top-rated market program on television, but he is happiest when he is working on his 1,100-acre tree farm in upstate New York. The host of Varney & Co., weekdays 9 a.m. to noon EDT on FOX Business, is in the midst of his first timber harvest this spring. Born and raised in the U.K., Varney, 70, helped Ted Turner launch CNN in 1980. He became an American citizen in 2015. I caught up with Varney to talk about agriculture, trade deals, and the media.

SF: Tell me about your farm.

SV: It’s lovely rolling hills and forests, a delightful piece of land. It reminds me of my native England. I bought it 18 years ago because I wanted a big piece of land within a reasonable drive of my home in New Jersey. In England, the idea of owning 1,000 acres, or even 100 acres, is out of the question unless you are a billionaire. But in America, you can do it. We found this property for a reasonable price. It was my piece of America. I fell in love with it. The idea of creating a tree farm came later. I didn’t know anything about logging and didn’t buy it for that purpose, but we hired a forester and he created a plan. Our first harvest is this year. We will harvest 1,088 trees. . . 


Rural round-up

May 20, 2018

Too stoned to work – Pam Tipa:

Substance abuse problems, timekeeping and the attitude of young people entering workforce must be addressed for the future of the horticulture industry, says Vegetables NZ Inc. chairman Andre de Bruin.

The Dargaville kumara grower says the industry relies on a core of good “fantastic seasonal workers” but that core is not coming through in the younger generation. There is an occasional “gem” but they are getting much harder to find.

As de Bruin spoke to Rural News he could see five seasonal workers sitting in a vehicle either stoned or drunk when they should have been at work. . .

LINZ to ‘open up’ with new high country advisory group – Tom Kitchen:

Land Information New Zealand has announced the creation of a high country advisory group to help make better decisions for New Zealand’s high country regions.

Speaking at this year’s Federated Farmers High Country Conference in Cromwell yesterday, Linz  deputy chief executive Crown property Jerome Sheppard said Linz needed the group because of the complications and debates around the tenure review process and the influx of tourists in the country.

“We’re wanting to open up our shop a wee bit more so you can see what’s going on … we think debate needs to happen”. . . 

Wool prices cause disbelief – Alan Williams:

Buyers clearly had orders to fill as prices increased again at Thursday’s Napier wool sale.

The volumes rose on the floor as buyers tried to outbid each other, PGG Wrightson North Island auctioneer Steve Fussell said. 

There was some disbelief about some of the price gains.

Buyers were especially keen on very good style, new, second-shear wool with prices 6% to 7% up on the May 3 sale in Napier. . .

Present can make not a bad future :

Venison could become the next kiwifruit but getting there will be a tough mountain to climb, Primary Sector Council chairman Lain Jager says.

Speaking at the Deer Industry conference in Timaru Jager, the former Zespri chief executive, compared the deer industry model to the highly successful kiwifruit industry, looking at whether venison could become the next kiwifruit.

The two have a lot in common but venison lags on several counts. . .

Rural News Group ‘here to stay’:

Independently-owned Rural News Group says its newspapers will continue to serve the primary sector.

The company is not part of the closures and sell-offs announced this week by Fairfax and NZX. Rural News Group publishes leading national publications – Rural News, Dairy News and NZ Winegrower; it also provides daily news updates on www.ruralnewsgroup.co.nz.

“We are a strongly independent and New Zealand owned and are here to stay,” says Rural News Group general manager Adam Fricker. . .

Twice the talent; bumper crop of winners from Young Vegetable Grower:

For the first time in the competition’s history, there are two winners of the Young Vegetable Grower of the Year competition: Esteban Ibanez and Gurjant Singh.

The day-long competition in Christchurch saw entrants compete in a series of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test the skills needed to run a successful vegetable growing business, from pest identification to forklift proficiency.

Currently working as a production agronomist for Leaderbrand South Island and with a Bachelor in Agriculture, 30 year old Esteban is all about growing vegetables, and hopes that this win will be a step towards networking with people who share his same goals and ideals. . . 


Rural round-up

April 20, 2015

Future of the heartland – Dr William Rolleston:

When we think of the Heartland we conjure up images of the rough and ready can-do farmer striding across the high country. But the farmer of the Heartland is not confined to this image.

Farming in the Heartland is a technically challenging career. I am in constant awe of my fellow farmer, who every day must make complex decisions, dealing with the vagaries of weather, biology and the market. Like me, my grandfather also came to farming from medicine and for the rest of his life found incredible satisfaction in the scientific challenge farming brings.

The Heartland has contributed enormously to New Zealand and our development as a country. This month we commemorate 100 years since New Zealand’s recognised baptism of fire.

Farmers contributed their horses and their sons to the war effort. Almost every horse and many of our men never returned. Back in New Zealand the production of food and fibre had to continue apace. We remember the past but we also must look to the future. The future of the Heartland. . .

 Award-winning agriculture student gets the job done – Kate Taylor:

Kahlia Fryer wants to own her own farm one day and she’s likely to make it if her work ethic to date is anything to go by.

As well as studying and working fulltime as president of the Lincoln University Students’ Association, she has 41 high-breeding-worth heifer calves that are in the top 5 per cent of New Zealand crossbreds and destined for her father’s herd.

Fryer won the Lawson Robinson Hawke’s Bay A&P scholarship at the recent Hawke’s Bay Primary Industry Awards  – chosen as much for her extensive work experience as her wish to succeed in agriculture and to encourage others into the industry, according to one of the judges.  . .

Grower tops veggie patch:

Pukekohe grower Hamish Gates  has beaten off tough competition from four finalists to be crowned New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower of the year.

Gates had the home turf advantage in the Horticulture New Zealand competition at Pukekohe on April 16 where finalists competed in a series of practical and theoretical challenges  to test their skills needed to run a successful vegetable growing business.

Gates, 24,  works at AS Wilcox & Sons as a carrot washline supervisor and won a $2500 travel grant for professional development and other prizes. As the vegetable grower titleholder he will travel to Christchurch to compete for the national Young Grower of the Year title in August. . .

Game of two halves for 2015 Grain Harvest :

The 2015 Grain Harvest has been a game of two halves, according to survey results released by the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI).

Federated Farmers Grain and Seed Vice-Chairperson, David Clark, says “Whilst drought conditions during the growing season has reduced the yields on dry land that has been balanced out by improved yields on irrigated land resulting in total harvest yields being very similar to 2014 across all grains.”

“The survey shows the large surpluses of unsold grain in the previous 2013 season have well and truly gone, however available stocks of grain are very similar to last season which leaves the NZ Industry well placed to provide domestically grown feed to assist in drought recovery.” . . .

Paul Whiston appointed CEO of LIC Automation:

LIC has appointed Paul Whiston as chief executive of its new subsidiary business, LIC Automation.

Paul Whiston, originally from Rotorua, was previously head of sales and marketing for Paymark Ltd, the bank-owned payment network operator, where he was also acting chief executive for a time.

Prior to that, he was based in London as general manager international for Simpl, a New Zealand information technology professional services company. . .

 

ExportNZ welcomes introduction of U.S. legislation to facilitate trade agreements:

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says the introduction of bipartisan legislation in Congress to re-establish Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – trade legislation that facilitates the negotiation and implementation of U.S. trade agreements – is welcome news.

“There is still work to be done to pass this legislation, but this is an important step in that direction. We understand we are close to the final stages of the TPP negotiation.  . .

 


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