Rural round-up

June 20, 2013

Zimbabwe’s first cattle bank opens – Gillian Gtora:

William Mukurazita’s deposit at the bank has four legs and moos.

Zimbabwe’s first “Cattle Bank” has just opened its books in a unique kind of banking where owners bring in their animals as collateral against cash loans.

For many rural poor in this southern African country once wracked by world-record inflation, it’s the first bank account they’ve ever had.

“Cattle banking is the only way owners can get monetary value for their animals without having to sell them,” bank executive Charles Chakoma told The Associated Press amongst fields and small farming plots near Marondera, east of Harare, the capital. . .

Farmers respond to an animal part found in PKE:

Federated Farmers considers the proposed improvements to the biosecurity of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE), following the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) response to the Federation’s Clark-McKinnon Report, cannot come soon enough.  It also comes on the same day an exotic animal body part was confirmed to have found in PKE on a Bay of Plenty farm.

“Can we first pay tribute to the Bay of Plenty dairy farmer who absolutely did the right thing when he or she discovered an animal part in PKE,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“Any farmer who finds something untoward must do what this farmer rightly did and call the Biosecurity hotline; 0800 80 99 66.  Do not ignore or dispose of it.  Report it. . .

Zespri Gold3 licence allocation significantly oversubscribed:

The Zespri Board has announced that 1,130 hectares of licences for the more Psa-tolerant gold kiwifruit cultivar Gold3 will be allocated to Zespri growers in 2013, as the next step in the Psa recovery pathway – 288 hectares more than was originally intended for allocation.  This includes 688 hectares of new gold licences for Green growers and new developments, as well as 442 hectares of Gold One-for-One licences, where Hort16A growers can transfer to Gold3.  

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride says the significant over-subscription clearly demonstrates the confidence the kiwifruit industry has in the recently-licensed gold cultivar, its performance to date in the Psa environment and growers increasingly looking to diversify their orchard portfolios. . .

Young viticulturists challenged to test themselves:

Young viticulturists around the country are being challenged to step up and enter the annual competition to find their best and brightest to represent the sector in the national young horticulture competition later in the year.

An Open Day is being held to give those who need a bit of encouragement or convincing, the chance to find out from previous winners just exactly what’s involved and how good the spoils of winning $12,000 worth of prizes are. . .

Invivo Named Finalist at Export Awards:

New Zealand winery Invivo continues their success in export markets and has been named finalist for 2013 BDO Food and Beverage Exporter of the Year at the Air New Zealand ExportNZ Auckland Awards.

Executive Officer Catherine Lye from ExportNZ Auckland that organises the awards, says, “It was a tough field, with such highly motivated and innovative exporters. “The entrants in this year’s awards were totally unlike each other as far as their businesses and customers were concerned. Yet each of them demonstrated particular areas of excellence.  . . .”

Church Road releases a duo of iconic TOM wines

2009 TOM Cabernet Merlot likely the “best TOM ever”
2010 TOM Chardonnay from “one of the very best Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay vintages”

Church Road, the winery that helped establish Hawke’s Bay as a premier winemaking region is proud to announce the simultaneous release of its two iconic wines – TOM Cabernet Merlot 2009 and TOM Chardonnay 2010.

Crafted only in outstanding vintages, TOM showcases the power and vibrancy of the best hand-harvested parcels of fruit, coupled with the traditional Bordeaux and Burgundian influence of winemaking. . .

Top accolades for 2011 Syrah:

Two Sacred Hill Wine Company Syrahs have recently been rated in the top tier of New Zealand Syrahs in an influential tasting.

Both Sacred Hill Halo Syrah 2011 and Ti Point Syrah 2011 wowed the Cuisine judges in their annual New Zealand Syrah tasting which features in the July edition of the magazine.

The results of the tasting, released today, see Sacred Hill Halo Syrah 2011 with a triple success – 5 stars; ranked in the top 5 wines of the tasting (at No 4); and rated as one of New Zealand’s best Syrah buys. . .


PKE import rules tightened

June 20, 2013

Rules are on the importing of palm kernel expeller are to be tightened.

Federated Farmers have been airing concerns about the biosecurity risks from the import of PKE for some time.

Grains executive members Colin McKinnon and David Clark travelled to Malaysia last September for an official Palm Industry Board briefing; they also made an unofficial, unannounced visit to another plant, chosen at random.

They saw PKE in silos open to birds and other animals, and contamination was probable. Product would probably not have met New Zealand’s Import Health Standard, but the mill owner believed it was suitable for export to New Zealand and was willing to sell it to them.

Clark and McKinnon detailed their concerns in a report to MPI in November (Rural News, December 4 and February 19). Late last month, the ministry issued a statement saying it took Feds’ report very seriously. . .

MPI sent two inspectors to PKE meal processing facilities and Malaysia and Indonesia and requirements will be tightened as a result.

The audit reports show good biosecurity systems are in place in the two main PKE-supplying countries, but some tightening up is recommended to ensure New Zealand’s standard is met.

Deputy Director-General, Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman says the reports conclude that any biosecurity risk from the importation of PKE is very low, but the strengthening of import requirements will be accelerated after a small part of an animal limb was recently discovered in a PKE shipment.

MPI is sending a senior manager to Malaysia today and then on to Indonesia to work with authorities there.

“The focus will be on working together to ensure that PKE from unapproved facilities cannot be exported to New Zealand. In addition, a small number of processing facilities will need to improve their systems to keep birds and rodents out of the product in storage,” Mr Coleman says.

“This work is timely given the recent discovery of the animal limb which was reported to MPI by a Bay of Plenty farmer. The lower part of an animal leg, approximately 18cm in length, has been identified by a zoologist as most likely from a small deer or goat species not present in New Zealand,” Mr Coleman says.

“Our risk assessors have told us that the risk of the introduction of any animal disease posed by this find is very low. However we took the precaution of sending a vet to the property where they found all animals in excellent health.

“A find like this one is rare, given that approximately 1.5 million tonnes of PKE are imported annually.”

PKE is a vital import for New Zealand’s dairy farmers who rely on it for supplementary feed – particularly now in the aftermath of the summer’s drought and with the onset of winter.

“The changes we are introducing will help strengthen our system further,” Mr Coleman says. Currently every shipment of PKE must meet strict requirements before it can be imported to New Zealand, including heat treatment, fumigation and inspection.

“A further option being considered is a new levy on PKE imports, or an increase to the existing biosecurity levy to increase the level of inspection in these countries. Any such proposal would have to be consulted on and have industry support. MPI is now beginning work on various options for consultation.”

The audit reports are here and here.

 

 


Rural round-up

December 17, 2012

MPI investigating palm kernel biosecurity-risk – Gerald Piddock:

The Ministry of Primary Industries is investigating claims by Federated Farmers that Malaysian-grown palm kernel expeller (PKE) could present a biosecurity risk to New Zealand.

The claims come after Federated Farmers grains executive vice-chairman David Clark and maize growers committee chairman Colin MacKinnon visited Malaysia in September to investigate the country’s palm industry.

“What we saw would be a complete breach of the import health standard if that palm kernel, when it was consolidated, formed part of a shipment coming to New Zealand,” Mr Clark said.

The pair were hosted on a plantation and shown around a mill where the PKE was processed. They attended a conference on PKE and spent time visiting the installations where PKE is stored and loaded onto container ships bound for New Zealand. . .

Farmlands CRT favour merger – Rebecca Harper:

Farmlands and Combined Rural Traders (CRT) directors are recommending in favour of a merger between the two farmer-owned rural supplies co-operatives.

The New Zealand Farmers Weekly revealed the two farmer-owned co-ops were in merger talks in early October.

The chairmen of the two co-ops, Don McFarlane (CRT) and Lachie Johnstone (Farmlands) confirmed exclusively to Farmers Weekly on Friday that a letter had been sent to shareholders that day saying the boards of each society were in favour of the merger. Directors had “agreed to take steps to merge the two societies together”. . .

Poor pasture quality costly – Gerald Piddock:

The poor quality of New Zealand pastures is one of the main reasons agricultural debt levels are so high, a leading soil scientist says.

Dairy cows are being presented too often with a nitrate-crude protein-rich pasture that does not provide them with enough energy, Graham Shepherd says.

It meant farmers brought in high levels of supplementary feed to give the rumen the energy required to process that type of pasture, he told farmers at a field day at Bryan and Jackie Clearwater’s farm near Geraldine. . .

Glyphos hit by grass resistance – Richard Rennie:

The discovery of glyphosate resistant ryegrass in Marlborough has sparked calls for compulsory labels on agri-chemicals highlighting resistance risks.

Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) CEO Nick Pyke officially confirmed the discovery at a field day in Hamilton on Thursday.

The discovery came during work for a Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) funded project on studying glyphosate resistance. It was identified in grasses from a vineyard after a call from a chemical company. . .

Really important to have social scientists working in agriculture – Pasture to Profit:

Social scientists are very active in agrifood.

That’s great! I welcome these intelligent minds working in both the agriculture & food space. Agrifood is about people. Dairy Farming is primarily about people. 
 
How people think, make decisions, work with each other, how we collectively live & work together is really important stuff. Yet mainstream agricultural science, farmers & farming largely ignore the social scientists & their work. I’ve just attended the Australia-NZ Agri-food Research Network conference held at Massey University. . .

Greenpeace back on PKE hobbyhorse

December 6, 2011

Greenpeace have resurrected their campaign against Palm Kernel Expeller.

Despite the many real issues facing the planet, Greenpeace New Zealand is back on its supplementary feed hobbyhorse. This time with a report written by a consultant who lives in the south of France.

“It must be summer because here comes Greenpeace again on Palm Kernel Expeller. You can almost set your watch by them,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Wikipedia defines palm kernel expeller (PKE) as, “the leftovers after kernel oil is pressed out from the nut in the palm fruit. Palm kernel cake is commonly used as animal feed for dairy cattle because of its high protein content. If not, it is usually treated as biomass to fuel up boilers to generate electricity for use at palm oil mills and surrounding villages”.

“From a quick read of Greenpeace’s report I found a huge flaw in its logic. Their report wrongly treats PKE as a‘coproduct’ of palm oil, rather than it being a byproduct. It’s like saying orange peel is a coproduct of orange juice so must carry the same carbon footprint as orange juice. I think accountants call this type of error double counting.

“Greenpeace tries to use tonnage to talk up the issue, but that’s like saying a kilogram of feathers is the same as a kilogram of gold. According to publicly available statistics on the Malaysian industry, Palm Kernel Cake generates less than one percent of that industry’s export earnings. Being a byproduct, PKE is worth well less than one percent of palm oil’s value.

“Consumers deserve to know that 99 percent of the value derived from Palm Oil isn’t in animal feed. You can actually say some farmers are recycling a byproduct that would otherwise go up in smoke or be left to rot generating methane. Where’s the greenhouse gas sense in that?

If palm oil is such a problem, Green peace should be directing its efforts at the 99% of the industry which uses the product, not the 1% which makes good use of the by-product.

“Until we can get water storage infrastructure in place New Zealand’s farming system is subject to the vagaries of rainfall. The most cost effective supplemental feed is what is grown on-farm and thankfully, water storage is coming due to Federated Farmers’ lobbying.

“You are left with the impression Greenpeace’s questioning of our carbon footprint has an anti-trade dimension to it. This report could be seen as economic vandalism.

“The recent Caygill Report on the Emissions Trading Scheme said that since 1990, New Zealand agriculture has been cutting emissions in each unit of production by an average of 1.3 percent a year. That’s an environmental positive I would have thought.

“Individual farmers through their commodity levies are directly investing in greenhouse gas research and New Zealand is now a world leader in agricultural greenhouse gas research.

“If Greenpeace is truly about the environment, why aren’t they protesting against oil based carpets instead?

“Can you honestly say in a world of food scarcity that recycling PKE as animal feed is the number one environmental issue? Especially if the ‘high value’ product it claims it to be, is either left to rot on the ground or burnt as fuel,” Mr Leferink concluded.

A wet start to summer has enabled farms in most areas to make their own supplements.

But the weather can and will change and it’s possible some farmers will have to buy feed later int he season and PKE will be one of the options.

Even if they do, New Zealand dairy farming is among the most efficient in the world and the industry has been doing all it can to make it even better.

If supply drops off here it will be replaced by milk from other countries whose carbon footprints are much greater than ours. That will cost farmers, the wider economy and the environment.


%d bloggers like this: