Rural round-up

December 31, 2018

Westland Milk loan heightens PGF slush fund suspicions – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones’s $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund has the laudable aim of enhancing development opportunities in the regions.

But National’s Paul Goldsmith’s dogged unanswered questioning inevitably raises the spectre that the fund may be little more than Jones’s slush fund.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which administers the fund, describes the fund’s aims as “to lift productivity in the provinces. . . 

South Canterbury farm extensively damaged by vandals – Mark Quinlivan:

A South Canterbury couple has been left devastated after vandals caused “extensive” damage at the dairy farm they sharemilk on at Glenavy.

Tracy Thompson and her partner, Brent McEwan, were shocked to find thousands of dollars worth of vandalism and graffiti in one the Pike Point Rd farm’s dairy sheds on Friday morning.

“It’s just devastating,” an emotional Thompson told Stuff on Friday. . .

Rural Health Alliance revitalised – Mike Houlahan:

Reports of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand’s demise have proved premature and the advocacy organisation has restructured and refocused on its work to improve the wellbeing of people who live outside the major cities. RHAANZ put itself in self-described “hibernation” in mid-year after it failed to secure financial support from the government. A registered charity, RHAANZ had done considerable work on rural mental health and suicide prevention, as well as and supporting the recruitment and retention of rural health professionals.

November flood aftermath lingers for Otago farms and businesses:

Farmers and business owners in Otago are still picking up the pieces after November’s floods.

Widespread flooding in the region inundated farmland near the Taieri and Waipori Rivers, and caused issues for Middlemarch, Henley and communities in the Clutha district.

The downpours came during the one of the wettest Novembers on record.

The effects are still being felt particularly hard by the Tap and Dough Bistro in Middlemarch which had sewage knee deep flow through the restaurant during the deluge. . .

Bee farmer seeks compo over bees ‘cooked’ while being couriered – Jonathan Mitchell:

A bee farmer is demanding compensation from New Zealand Post after queen bees were “cooked” while being couriered.

Gary Milne runs Southern Sun Queen Bees in Horowhenua and has been breeding the bees for more than two decades.

He said a recent courier trip turned into a nightmare after 27 of the 100 queen bees were dead on arrival. . .

NZAgbiz recognised for creating value from recycled dairy industry products – Award win for making animal nutrition products from dairy industry loss streams:

Since the industrial revolution, businesses have been built on a linear ‘take-make-waste’ model. But as pressure on resources grows, there is a need to shift to a more ‘circular’ economy.

The circular model seeks to maximise the lifecycle of materials, optimise usage, and re-use materials.

NZAgbiz is a Hamilton-based company whose business model has been circular since its inception in 2008. A Fonterra business unit, NZAgbiz manufactures livestock nutrition products using primarily Fonterra ingredients and has recently won a commendation at the prestigious 2018 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards for its work. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 12, 2018

Inspirational focus in driving NZ wool business honoured – Sally Rae:

Dave Maslen is a reluctant sustainability superstar.

The New Zealand Merino Co’s general manager for markets and sustainability was a finalist in the sustainability superstar category in the recent NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

The category, won by Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown, celebrated people who inspired and led others to make a difference.

Mr Maslen’s own nomination came as a surprise and he was reluctant to be singled out, saying it was “most definitely” a team effort. . . 

Leaders discuss sustainable farming – Sally Rae:

Agriculture, as a whole, needs to be brave.

That was the take-home message for North Otago dairy farmer Lyndon Strang after attending the annual DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Forum in Wellington recently.

The three-day event was attended by nearly 100 dairy farming leaders who discussed sustainable farming and progressed goals for the future.

Mr Strang and his wife Jane milk 450 cows at Five Forks and run a self-contained operation, wintering all cows, rearing young stock and growing the majority of their supplements. . . 

Waimea Dam to aid eels on journey to Pacific – scientist – Tracy Neal:

The Waimea Dam will improve the health of the river downstream, and ensure the path of eels to their breeding grounds in the Pacific is not hindered, a freshwater scientist says.

The Tasman District Council recently voted to go ahead with the $105 million irrigation and urban supply scheme, despite levels of public opposition, mainly over cost.

Scientist Roger Young, from Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, has been involved in the project since its inception. . .

More farmers feel under financial pressure:

Farmer satisfaction with their banks is dropping, and more are feeling they are under financial pressure, the Federated Farmers November Banking Survey shows.

While 73.7% of the 750 farmers who responded to the Research First-conducted survey said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their bank, that was a drop of 5% since the previous survey in May.   It’s also the lowest satisfaction level recorded in any of the 10 surveys conducted since 2015.

“The results show a need for renewed efforts to improve relationships between farmers and banks,” Federated Farmers Economics and Commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

SenseHub monitors treats – Sonita Chandar:

Consumers of Nestle products can be assured the treats they like best have been made with milk from happy, healthy cows.

As part of Nestle’s commitment on animal welfare it has partnered with Antelliq’s Allflex on a pilot programme to monitor dairy cows’ wellbeing through Allflex’s SenseHub on several Nestle farms.

The collaboration aims to provide Nestle with full visibility into the wellbeing of individual cows and the herd according to a set of key performance indicators. . . 

Group of sheep breeders running parasite resistant stock:

A group of leading sheep breeders have formed WormFEC Gold to show farmers that breeding for parasite resistant genetics will strengthen flocks and save time and money on-farm.

Growing concerns from farmers around increasing levels of drench resistance, rising farming input costs, and issues getting farm labour have prompted 10 WormFEC breeders from across New Zealand to join forces. The breeders’ group brings together more than 200 years combined experience breeding highly productive, parasite resistant rams.

Chairman Robert Peacock of Orari Gorge Station in South Canterbury said the WormFEC Gold group aims to show farmers that breeding sheep for parasite resistance is achievable and will save farmers time and money. He said breeding animals with natural resistance to parasites is part of the long-term sustainable solution for parasite management. . . 

Researchers conclude livestock have no detectable effect on climate – Amanda Radke:

Cow burps are destroying the ozone layer — we’ve all heard that one, and frankly, it’s time for the industry to ditch that myth once and for all.

As our industry zeroes in on topics of sustainability and ways we as beef producers can improve for the better, I continue to beat the same drum — cattlemen and women already do a spectacular job of managing our land and water to produce more beef using fewer resources.

Simply stated, beef production isn’t just sustainable; it’s regenerative. And despite what the naysayers claim, cattle grazing and consuming by-products of crop production play a critical role in our ecosystem. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 4, 2018

Superstar spotlights dairy efforts – Luke Chivers:

DairyNZ Environmental Leaders Forum chairwoman Tracy Brown has won a Sustainable Business Network award. She spoke to Luke Chivers about some of the challenges facing the rural sector.

Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown has been named a dairy sustainability champion for inspiring farmers to change on-farm practices, protect waterways, enhance biodiversity and lower their environmental footprints.

She was rewarded for her efforts by winning the Sustainability Superstar category at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

The award marks a momentous occasion for New Zealand’s primary industries, Brown says. . . 

Town folks love a good farm story – Pam Tipa:

‘A good story’ was a key motivator for fourth-generation Helensville farmers Scott and Sue Narbey to open their farm to the public.

The couple opened their farm as part of Fonterra’s Open Gates 2018 day.

“We entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and when we started writing down all the good things we were doing we thought we were doing a pretty good job,” Scott told Dairy News.

“And we were sick of hearing all the bad things and how people perceive dairy farms. . . 

A hand up or corporate welfare? – Andrea Fox:

Westland Milk Products, approved for a taxpayer-funded Provincial Growth Fund loan branded “corporate welfare” by some critics, says it would have been happy for the commercial terms to be disclosed but Government officials ruled them confidential.

The Westland dairy exporter, which in its 2018 annual report discussing a capital restructure said it had “relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility”, is to get a $9.9 million interest-bearing, repayable loan towards a $22 million manufacturing plant project to produce higher-value goods.

The annual report noted Westland’s cash flow for the year was below expectations, its milk payout to farmers was not competitive and “obtaining new capital would make a significant difference to the co-operative”. . . 

People need to be told ‘what wool is about’ – Sally Rae:

Education is the key to lifting the state of the wool industry, industry leader Craig Smith says.

Mr Smith, general manager for Devold Wool Direct, is a member of the Wool Working Group, which has been working on how to create a more sustainable and profitable sector.

Made up of 20 wool producers, processors and other industry representatives, it has been charged with developing a pan-sector action plan.

Earlier this year, Mr Smith was  the first New Zealander to be appointed to the global executive committee of the International Wool Textile Organisation, and he is also heavily involved with Campaign for Wool. . . 

Hill country’s development risks and opportunities:

Sheep and beef farmers are increasingly finishing stock on hill country forage crops and pastures, with a resultant drop in erosion risk.

But some farmers had difficulty assessing the potential environmental impact and the financial return of hill country development, due to the unpredictability of sediment loss and the costs.

This was discovered by studies done as part of the Sustainable Hill Farming Tool project (SHiFT), says Paul Hulse, of Environment Canterbury (ECan).

The SHiFT project is to tell landowners the best ways to address these concerns, says Hulse . .

Smartphone cattle weighing technology set to expand – Lucy Kinbacher:

A HUNGARIAN developed smartphone accessory is helping producers weigh their cattle without the use of any scales or yard infrastructure. 

Known as Beefie, the new technology allows producers to calculate their cattle weights in less than half a minute by attaching an external device to an Android 5.1+ smartphone and capturing a range of photographs.

Livestock are analysed from two to six metres away, even whilst in motion or partially obscured, with more than 5000 tests on animals producing a 95 per cent accuracy rate.  . . 

 


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