Rural round-up

01/02/2021

B+LNZ awaiting CCC’s recommendations:

Industry good group Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) says it is awaiting with interest what recommendations the Climate Change Commission (CCC) makes when it releases its draft blueprint for how the country could reduce its carbon footprint on February 1.

B+LNZ environment policy manager Dylan Muggeridge says they will be particularly interested in the advice the CCC provides on what proportion of emissions budgets and targets should be met by reducing absolute emissions of greenhouse gases as opposed to offsetting emissions through carbon forestry.

“B+LNZ has advocated for some time that the large-scale afforestation of swathes of hill country farmland into exotic forestry is not an appropriate long-term solution to the climate change problem,” Muggeridge said. . . .

 

Building people capability on Lanercost:

Growing people is as important as growing grass on Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s North Canterbury Future Farm Lanercost.

Developing skills in the individuals working on the 1310ha North Canterbury hill country farm is part of the Future Farm’s management plan and for manager Digby Heard, this means growing his knowledge about the administrative side of farming including recording and utilising farm data, financial management and compliance.

A skilled stockman, Digby has proven his worth in the physical operation of Lanercost, the challenge now is to further develop the skills he needs to take on future senior management roles within the industry without the administrative support he has been receiving at Lanercost. . . 

Be brave farmers. People are genuinely interested in what you do – Daniel Eb:

Urban Kiwis are interested in farming – they just need somewhere to see it in action. With that in mind, Daniel Eb, the man behind Open Farms, is encouraging farmers to be brave, open up their gates, and make farming relevant again.

In the very first Open Farms market research panel, a Kiwi mum told us something that stuck.

“I need to take my kids back to the source.”

She was talking about a sense of loss of the natural way of life. A yearning for realness, to get some dirt under the fingernails and reconnect with the places where nature and people meet – our farms. . .

 

Rates rise targets plantation forestry – Colin Williscroft:

Forest owners in the Wairoa district are unhappy at a recent targeted rates increase they believe is unfair, but other councils around the country have either already adopted or are considering similar moves.

The Wairoa District Council recently approved changes to its rating model that included new rates differentials.

The new rating system, which takes effect from July 1, consists of five differentials. Forestry carries the largest weighting at a differential of 4.0, with commercial at 1.6, residential at 1.0, residential properties valued at over $399,999 at 0.8 and rural at 0.7. . . 

Shedding sheep hot under hammer :

Bidding was competitive at the Mt Cass Station Wiltshire sheep sale in North Canterbury.  

Nearly 3500 sheep reached higher than expected prices at Sara and Andrew Heard’s farm and were sold to bidders from Kerikeri to Cromwell.

Wiltshires shed their fleece annually, have a large lean carcass, no dags and naturally high fecundity.

The Heards have been farming the breed for about 12 years because the hardy sheep do well on their 2500 hectare organic property, that spreads from the Waipara wine country to the coast. . . 

 

New ad campaign pushes back against ‘anti-meat’ sentiment :

A new advertisement campaign which aims to ‘push back’ against unbalanced and inaccurate coverage regarding red meat has been launched in Scotland.

Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI hit TV screens across Scotland as part of a new January 2021 industry campaign.

The 60-second STV advert, developed by Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS), began on 20 January and runs until 2 February. . . 


Rural round-up

20/05/2020

Kiwi lamb in limelight – Annette Scott:

Changing consumer demand in China has opened an opportunity for New Zealand lamb to take centre stage.

In a move to encourage online sales of NZ lamb in China, Beef + Lamb and Alliance have joined forces to launch a digital campaign aimed at leveraging the new consumer behaviour.  

The e-campaign is focused on driving online red meat sales as Chinese consumers seek out healthier food options in the wake of covid-19.   

“Alliance and B+LNZ are co-investing in the initiative to drive the awareness of NZ’s healthy and natural grass-fed lamb but ultimately to drive sales,” B+LNZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

Wallaby curse – Farmer refuses to be caught on the hop – Sally Brooker:

Wallabies have been marketed as a cute local attraction in Waimate, but farmers curse the day they crossed the Ditch.

The problems began soon after Bennett’s wallabies from Tasmania were taken to The Hunters Hills in the Waimate District in 1874 for recreational hunting.

Their population boom led to damaged farm pasture, crops and fencing, and native bush and forestry plantings.

A 2017 Ministry for Primary Industries report predicted the cost to the economy of not controlling wallabies in the South Island could be $67million within 10 years.

Anecdotal reports say the numbers are increasing again in the Waimate area. Many farmers are upset about it, but few would go on the record.

Walter Cameron had no such qualms. He has been dealing with wallabies at his family’s 3900ha Wainui Station, near Hakataramea, for most of his life and knows how to keep them in check.  . . 

High paying environmental jobs not realistic:

The Government’s $1.1 billion idea of redeploying people into environmental jobs is great in concept but difficult to turn into reality, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“It’s a struggle to get Kiwis to take well-paying jobs in the horticulture or farming sector, so convincing people to become rat-catchers and possum-trackers in the numbers the Government is hoping for will be an enormous challenge.

“It’s all very well allocating the funding, but there’s no detail on how the job numbers will be achieved and this Government has a poor track record of delivering on their big policies.

“The $1.1 billion for 11,000 jobs means they’ve allocated $100,000 per job. There is no detail about how much of this is going to workers on the ground doing the environmental work and how much of this is going to added bureaucracy in Wellington offices. . . 

Training our rural doctors – Ross Nolly:

Attracting general practitioners to work in small rural areas has been challenging at times, which has led people to delay seeking medical care. Ross Nolly caught up with one Taranaki rural GP who says there are a lot of benefits to working in small communities.

In recent years finding doctors willing to work in rural general practices and rural hospitals has been difficult.

The Rural Hospital Medicine Training Programme is a subset of the Royal New Zealand GP College. It’s a relatively new programme and its aim is to give doctors an experience of rural hospital medicine. 

The programme has been operating at Hawera Hospital in South Taranaki for three years and shares some elements with general practice with many doctors practising rural GP and rural hospital medicine simultaneously. . . 

The power of community – James Barron:

Chairman of Fonterra Shareholders Council, James Barron on Fonterra, COVID-19, and the importance of community.

He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together. It’s a phrase that seems to be coming up a lot lately, and it reminds me how powerful community can be.

For wider New Zealand, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 have been significant.

But they have also presented some unexpected opportunities – to rediscover community spirit, spend quality time with our families, and do what’s best for the greater good. . . 

Tree planting is not a simple solution – Karen D. Ho and Pedro H. S. Brancalion:

A plethora of articles suggest that tree planting can overcome a host of environmental problems, including climate change, water shortages, and the sixth mass extinction (13). Business leaders and politicians have jumped on the tree-planting bandwagon, and numerous nonprofit organizations and governments worldwide have started initiatives to plant billions or even trillions of trees for a host of social, ecological, and aesthetic reasons. Well-planned tree-planting projects are an important component of global efforts to improve ecological and human well-being. But tree planting becomes problematic when it is promoted as a simple, silver bullet solution and overshadows other actions that have greater potential for addressing the drivers of specific environmental problems, such as taking bold and rapid steps to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

05/03/2020

Tears for a life’s work – Tim Fulton:

Farming with Mycoplasma bovis is an alien experience, one full of officials and strangers in full-length protective jumpsuits washing down yards and troughs, for the Wobben family. Tim Fulton reports.

Despite being a hard-nosed man with a bent for confrontation Roel Wobben is crying for his cows.

The family will lose their 2700 cows and have already lost nearly as many young stock and bulls to a Mycoplasma bovis cull.

They milk through two sheds on their irrigated 710ha North Canterbury farm, doing about 500kg MS a cow and calving twice a year. There’s also a second 285ha farm nearby milking 900 cows, run by a contract milker. . . 

Open Farm day draws 5,500 visitors:

Over 5500 people spent the day on farms around the country on Sunday.

45 farmers opened their gates to visitors on Sunday for New Zealand’s inaugural nationwide open farm day.

Farms of all types and sizes participated: from high-country sheep stations in Otago to dairy farms in the Waikato and even an indoor, vertical microgreens producer in Wellington.

A wide range of activities were on offer for visitors, says Open Farms founder Daniel Eb. . .

Shearer is up for a challenge :

Colin Watson-Paul shore sheep for 30 years. 

Now he trains others, including seven women who recently learned to shear to raise funds for Farmstrong.

He says he got a real buzz out of teaching the novice shearers.

“Shearing’s easier said than done but they can all shear a sheep now. There’s been a lot of humour. They’re a great bunch of women, who will have you in stitches. Now when they go out they talk about sheep shearing, believe it or not.” . . 

New Zealand grass-fed butter in Whole Foods first:

Premium butter produced by Lewis Road Creamery has become the first New Zealand dairy product to be stocked US-wide by American supermarket giant Whole Foods.

The New Zealand grass-fed butter is now on Whole Foods shelves in 37 states, including in flagship stores in Union Square, New York, and Austin, Texas.

The butter is made from milk that meets a stringent 10 Star Premium Standard that covers grass-fed, free-range, animal welfare, human welfare, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation. . . 

Bega value-add strategy helps combat drought impact – Carelene Dowie:

Bega’s milk intake has fallen 13 per cent on the back of drought and increased competition for milk supply, hitting the company’s earnings.

But the half-year statutory profit of NSW-based dairy and grocery business lifted 3.5pc to $8.5 million, due to growth in its branded consumer and food-service business.

The company also pointed to improved performance at the former Murray Goulburn Koroit, Vic, milk-processing plant, which it acquired last year, the improvement in milk returns following the closure of its Coburg, Vic, factory and new toll-processing arrangements as contributing positively to the result. . . 

Farmers angry after senior government adviser says UK could import all food ‘like Singapore’ – Greg Heffer:

The UK has a “moral imperative” to produce its own food, the chief of the farmers’ union has said after it emerged a senior government adviser argued Britain could import all produce.

Minette Batters, the president of the National Union of Farmers, hit back at suggestions the UK could copy nations such as Singapore and import all its food.

In emails obtained by The Mail On Sunday, Dr Tim Leunig – an economic adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak – wrote that the food sector “isn’t critically important” to the UK and farming and fishing “certainly isn’t”. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/03/2020

Farmers feeling socially disconnected as younger generation migrate to social media – Lawrence Gullery:

A trail of dust follows Philip Dench’s motorbike as he rides up to the milking shed in the baking sun.

He steps off his bike wearing boots, shorts, a singlet, cap and sunglasses.

It’s hard to figure out what he’s thinking behind those sunglasses but that’s the way he likes it.

“I have to know the person first, I won’t talk to a stranger, no way,” Philip says. . . 

Southland farmers face winter grazing charges – Rachael Kelly:

Three charges have been laid against Southland farming companies for breaches of winter grazing rules last year.

Environment Southland compliance manager Simon Mapp said the charges related to incidents on two sites.

“The charges are for discharges where they may reach water,” Mapp said.

The first court appearance was scheduled for this week but that was subject to change, he said. . . 

High standards pay off – Charlie Williamson:

While his friends dreamed of glamorous sporting careers Mihaka Beckham dreamed of working the land and being a dairy farmer. Charlie Williamson reports.

While his primary school friends were talking about how they would be the up and coming All Blacks stars when they grew up young Mihaka Beckham was saying he would one day be a dairy farmer. 

And with the help of a few mentors and his ability to seize any opportunity he could find along the way Mihaka, now 23, is living his childhood dream. 

Mihaka works as herd manager on a Taupo dairy farm milking 440 Jersey-Friesian cows on 170ha effective for Bryan and Tesha Gibson. . . 

Farmers call for ORC rates details -Brent Melville:

Federated Farmers says back-to-back annual rates increases from the Otago Regional Council should come with a more detailed plan of what benefits would come from farmers’ money.

The ORC yesterday announced it would push rates up by 9.1% as part of overall spending of $75.5million, including expenditure on reworking water plans, increasing consent processing staff and capacity for environmental incident response.

Federated Farmers South Island regional policy manager Kim Reilly said the second consecutive year of rates rises had come without firm detail as to how the rate adjustments might be packaged. . . 

Epidemiologist embracing ‘M.bovis’ battle :

Mark Neill says he likes a challenge, and admits he’s got one on his hands.

Mr Neill, a veterinarian, is the lead epidemiologist in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme. He was one of the speakers at the Ministry for Primary Industries’ public update meeting in Oamaru last week.

Since September, Mr Neill has been seconded by the ministry from Ospri’s TBfree programme, where he has worked since 2002. . . 

Welsh woman declares vindication after ‘guerrilla rewilding’ court case

Sioned Jones used to adore the landscape and wildlife of her adopted home in Bantry, a bucolic region in west Cork on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. She planted vegetables and herbs, foraged for nuts and berries and observed birds, insects, frogs and lizards.

Then, on land above her house, the state-owned forestry company Coillte planted a forest of Sitka spruce, a non-native species that Jones considered a dark, dank threat to biodiversity.

The Welsh grandmother got a chainsaw and started cutting – and cutting. A few trees at first, then dozens, then hundreds. In their place she planted native broadleaf trees – birch, hazel, oak, alder, crab apple and rowan – a guerrilla rewilding campaign that lasted more than 20 years. . . 


Rural round-up

07/02/2020

Coronavirus: Generates a “perfect storm” for meat exporters & a “get prepared” warning for other business:

Business exporters and importers are advised to take steps to ensure there are ‘no surprises,’ if trade with China is disrupted by the Coronavirus situation.

“Talk to your bank, make sure customer expectations are established and understood, and that no sudden surprises occur,” suggests Auckland Business Chamber head, Michael Barnett.

He sees a perfect storm coming for meat and other traders. . . 

New Zealand forest owners wary of closing access risk in Chinese market:

New Zealand log exporters are bracing themselves for supply chain problems in China due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Some forest owners are already reducing their harvesting rate. Regrettably this will have an immediate effect on harvesting crew employment.

The New Zealand Forest Owners Association says that the extended Lunar New Year public holiday makes it difficult to know what is going to happen when sawmills in China restart. . . 

Fake meat ‘an opportunity not a threat’ for Kiwi farmers – Esther Taunton:

Taranaki dairy farmer Trish Rankin used to worry about the rise of plant-based proteins. Not anymore.

Now she sees alternative proteins paving the way for Kiwi farmers to market their meat and dairy to consumers who just want to do one thing “better”.

“Things like the Impossible Burger aren’t aimed at vegetarians and vegans, they’re aimed at meat eaters who want a meal that’s better for the environment, better for animal health and welfare, and lower in cholesterol.  

“Our meat and dairy ticks those boxes and when people start realising that they can make better choices without having to eat fake meat, that’s where we can come in – we’re the ‘possible’ to the Impossible customer.” . . 

Farmers waiting to count the cost – Richard Davison, Louise Scott, and Karen Pasco:

Farmers across Southland and Otago are counting the cost of serious flooding which has left hundreds of farms underwater and resulted in lost livestock and ruined crops.

The Government declared last night it was a ‘‘medium scale adverse event’’, opening the way for funding of $100,000 through Rural Support Trusts to speed up recovery and provide technical advice.

Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor, who had flown over the affected areas, said the response to the flooding event had been ‘‘absolutely amazing’’. . .

Plant and Food Research sponsors Inaugural Ahuwhenua Trophy competition for horticulture:

Plant & Food Research is proud to be a Gold sponsor of the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy, Excellence in Māori Horticulture Award 2020. This year marks the first time since its establishment in 1933 that the competition has celebrated outstanding Māori in the horticultural industry.

David Hughes, CEO, Plant & Food Research says, “For decades the competition has alternated between dairy and sheep & beef farming each year. We appreciate this timely recognition of Māori contribution to horticulture. We’re particularly delighted to support this event and be part of its legacy because we believe good practices in horticulture are fundamental for us and te hapori whānui to build a smart green future together.” . .

Zero-carbon Britain presents a subsidy challenge for farmers – Jeremy Clarkson:

There is currently a lot of snarling and teeth-grinding about government plans to let a Chinese company called Huawei install and run lightning-fast 5G services for our driverless cars and our mobile phones and our wind farms.

The Americans say this is madness, because, should there ever be any hostilities with China, which isn’t entirely out of the question, Huawei could come through an electronic back door and instruct our driverless cars to crash into our wind farms, and our nuclear submarines to rain fire on our own cities.

Or the Chinese could simply push a button and switch the whole system off, which would turn Britain into a muddy, medieval hovel full of disease and people with warts on their faces. Imagine your kidwith no wi-fi. You can’t, can you? . . 

New partnership supports sustainable future for New Zealand farming:

We’re delighted to announce that Ruralco has become a strategic partner of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and will be aligned with the nationwide Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The new partnership is timely, as those eligible for the 2020 Awards have just been finalised and can be viewed here.

Ruralco is a values-led farming cooperative that has been supporting farming businesses and their families with competitive pricing and real value since 1963. Their vision is to be the partner of choice for rural New Zealand, a goal which includes supporting credible organisations that are committed to building a sustainable future for farming. . .


Rural round-up

05/02/2020

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

26/01/2020

New policy might limit farming – Neal Wallace:

Farmers fear new biodiversity policy could force councils to make them restore areas of indigenous flora and fauna on their land.

The Government has released its proposed draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which leans heavily on councils to identify, monitor and manage areas with significant indigenous biodiversity.

Within five years councils will have to identify and map significant natural areas using standard national criteria, manage any adverse effects on those areas and survey native wildlife in and outside the areas to determine if they are threatened or affected by land use activities. . .

Sarah’s Country: Are we fit for a better world? – Sarah Perriam:

Sarah’s Country’s debut episode focuses on the key elements of this vision for New Zealand that includes a swing towards regenerative agriculture, capturing the value of the billion-dollar plant protein trend and offsetting our carbon emissions with environmental integrity, not ‘thin air fake’ credits.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Kate Scott. Kate is a director of LandPro and a 2018 Nuffield Scholar living in Central Otago. . .

Farm sales start to look up:

Farm sales were down 21.6% for the three months ended December 2019 versus the year prior ­— but sales look to be lifting.

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows that farm sales increased by 22.3% in the three months ended December 2019 compared to the three months ended November 2019, with 345 and 282 sales respectively. . .

$8 payout possible – Peter Burke:

The guessing game has begun to predict what dairy farmers will get for their milk this season.

The consensus in the sector is that the price will be positive: numbers ranging from $7.15/kgMS to $7.50/kgMS, although ASB rural economist Nathan Penny is sticking his neck out and suggesting it could reach $8/kgMS.

Fonterra says its forecast is in the range of $7.00 to $7.60 with the midpoint being $7.30.

Dr. Mitloehner issues warning on increasing herd sizes – Charles O’Donnell:

While there is not necessarily a need to cut herd sizes for the purpose of climate change mitigation, increasing numbers is also not the way to go, according to Dr. Frank Mitloehner.

Dr. Mitloehner, a well-known professor and air quality specialist, was speaking at an event called ‘Climate Action in Agriculture: A Balanced Approach’ in Dublin today, Tuesday, January 21, which was organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The German-born Californian-based professor spoke out against the perceived necessity to cut herd sizes. However, when asked about the growing numbers of animals in the dairy industry, he warned that going in the opposite direction by increasing numbers would pose a climate issue. . . 

Government urged to block high carbon food imports :

Britain cannot risk importing food with a higher carbon footprint than food which has been produced in the UK, a new report says.

Released by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), it says British farming produces some of the most sustainable food in the world and that emissions from UK beef is half that of the global average.

Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK presents a detailed range of options to drive emissions reductions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. . . 

 


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