Rural round-up

September 29, 2018

Five things to know about the future of farming – Eloise Gibson:

Sir Peter Gluckman issued a flurry of reports in his last few months as Prime Minister’s science adviser. His final report to Jacinda Ardern made some striking points about the future of farming. Eloise Gibson digested the five main issues.

Methane matters

Don’t be fooled by anyone implying that methane doesn’t matter much in the scheme of things – cutting methane is crucial to New Zealand’s efforts to slow climate change. That, in essence, was one of the key messages from Gluckman’s final report to Jacinda Ardern.

Whether to ignore, eliminate or “stabilise” methane, the single biggest climate impact from cattle farming, has been major feature of debate about New Zealand’s proposed Zero Carbon Bill. . .

American farmers don’t need subsidies – Garland S. Tucker III:

Margaret Thatcher is said to have quipped, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” New Zealand has discovered that this result may not be all bad. In the mid 1980s, New Zealand faced bankruptcy. The tab for years of socialistic policies had finally come due. The Labour government was forced to act quickly and drastically to cut expenditures. 

The New Zealand economy was — and still is — heavily dependent on agriculture. Farmers and farm prices had been subsidized for years through a multitude of government programs. In 1984, the government eliminated over 30 subsidy programs, not gradually, but overnight. The ruling Labour Party predicted an economic disaster. They foresaw a mass exodus of farmers and fully expected to be forced to reinstate some type of subsidy program . .

Central Otago shearer to receive recognition – Pam Jones:

Central Otago’s shearing industry will honour one of its own in a double-billing today.

Alexandra woolhandler and shearer Pagan Karauria will not only be recognised as a Master Woolhandler at the annual New Zealand Merino Championships, but will also feature in a film about the shearing industry being launched in Alexandra.

Karauria is profiled in the film She Shears, which is about five women working in the shearing industry. It will screen at the Otago Daily Times Theatre in the Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery this afternoon at 4pm.

She will be present for the screening and take part in a question and answer session afterwards. . .

Teddies, a trophy and Trans-Tasman rivalry – Pam Jones:

It features shearing and woolhandling royalty, alongside “teddy bear” novices.

And there is also some “good old-fashioned” transtasman rivalry to boot, as Australasia’s best compete at this weekend’s New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships in Alexandra.

Up to 200 shearers and woolhandlers were competing at the two-day event, including Damien Boyle, of Australia, who had won the event’s open shearing category seven times, event organising committee member Graeme Bell said. . .

NZ export log market hurt by US trade war with China: – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s export log market took a hit from the trade dispute between the US and China as the declining value of the yuan crimps the buying power of the country’s largest log market.

The average price for New Zealand A-grade export logs dropped to US$133/JAS from US$141/JAS in August, and US$145/JAS in July, and is now the lowest since June 2017, according to AgriHQ’s Forestry Market Report for September. . .

Renewable diesel – an opportunity for the forest industry:

Most people in New Zealand are not aware that technology has been commercialised in the United States for the production of fully drop-in renewable diesel made from cellulosic feedstocks. This renewable diesel is a direct substitute for mineral diesel and meets all of the New Zealand specifications other than density (kilograms per litre). But it makes up for that by having a high energy density per kilogram so that the amount of energy per litre of fuel is equal to, or in some cases better than, that of fossil fuel diesel. . .

Cavalier to sell scouring interest, focus on carpets: – Gavin Evans:

Sept. 27 (BusinessDesk) – Cavalier Corp is close to selling its stake in New Zealand’s only wool scourer as part of a plan to reduce debt and free up capital to invest in carpet manufacturing.

The firm owns 27.5 percent of Cavalier Wool Holdings, alongside global giant Lempriere Wool, Accident Compensation Corp and Direct Capital. The scourer, known as CWH, operates plants in Napier and Timaru with a combined capacity of 100 million kilograms annually. . .

King Salmon braced for ‘disappointing’ fish farm relocation decision –  Pattrick Smellie

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon hopes it will be allowed to move around half of nine square hectares of its Marlborough Sounds fish farms to better locations, but is braced for a “disappointing” outcome for both the company’s growth and environmental outcomes.

Speaking to BusinessDesk at the Aquaculture New Zealand conference in Blenheim, NZKS managing director Grant Rosewarne expressed frustration at the likelihood of a “sub-optimal outcome”. . .

Coromandel dairy farmers lead the way through new genetics:

In 1995 Andrew and Maree Palmer saw the value of being part of CRV Ambreed’s progeny testing programme so jumped on board and haven’t looked back.

Andrew and Maree have had a hand in developing many generations of daughter proven sires.

Today, they’re still part of the herd improvement company’s progeny testing programme and reckon they’re doing their bit to strengthen the value of the national dairy herd. . .


Rural round-up

May 3, 2018

Some immunity to virus confirmed – Pam Jones:

Central Otago farmers are still being encouraged to remain patient while the K5 variant continues to takes hold among the rabbit population, even though it has been confirmed some rabbits will be immune to the virus.

The Otago Regional Council announced the first rabbit deaths from RHDV1 K5 earlier this month, saying it was “excellent news” and patience from landowners had been “paying off”.

Omakau farmer and Federated Farmers high country Central Otago chairman Andrew Paterson said at the time it was important landowners were patient, as the regional council had warned interfering with the release programme could limit the spread of the virus in the long term and allow rabbits to build an immunity to the new strain.

Farmers threaten to shoot drones spooking animals:

Horse riders and farmers fed up with unmanned aerial drones traumatising animals want to start shooting them “out of the sky”.

After a Dannevirke horse-rider posted on social media about being harassed by a drone operated by an unseen person, a host of people suggested drones should, and could, be shot if they flew over a farm and were worrying animals.

When approached by Hawke’s Bay Today to clarify whether a drone could be legally shot at over a farm, the Police said a number of agencies, including CAA and the Privacy Commissioner, had a role to play in relation to the use of drones. . . 

Mangarara Family Farm tackles predators with high-flying support:

When Greg Hart’s family moved to Mangarara Station in Central Hawkes Bay in the mid 1990s, they shot 3 possums on their first night at the property – in a cabbage tree growing at the front door. How times have changed. Greg has now taken over the farm from his parents and his oldest son George, 14 years old, has never seen a possum on the farm.

“The Hawkes Bay Regional Council had a massive campaign to eradicate possums,” Greg explains. “They did an outstanding job. They did the initial knockdown and we do the ongoing control with bait stations. . .

Arable farmers consider their options after tough summer season:

Having come through a tough summer for growing crops and with current market signals muted, it appears arable farmers are pulling back on planned autumn plantings.

“The flat prices of the last few years are now rebounding a bit but growers remain hesitant to plant massive areas,” Federated Farmers Arable executive member Brian Leadley said. . .

Four vie for Horticulture New Zealand Board

Four candidates will vie for two positions on the Horticulture New Zealand Board as elections open today, with voting closing on 28 May 2018.

“We haven’t had such a strong contest for some time and the calibre of candidates is an indication of how well horticulture is doing and the high profile the industry is enjoying on the back of that success,” Horticulture New Zealand President Julian Raine says. . .

‘All we want are fair rules for farmers’ – Scott Kovacevic:

BEEF producer Ivan Naggs fears coastal farmers will find themselves hog-tied by red tape if new draft vegetation legislation becomes a reality under the State Government.

Mr Naggs, who has been a member of the Gympie and District Beef Liaison Group, said these laws had the potential to place severe restrictions on their operations.

Small farmers in particular would be left exposed. . . 


Rural round-up

April 20, 2018

Irrigators should spread good news – Pam Jones:

Responsible irrigators need to spread the word about good work being done in the primary sector, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan says.

Mr Cadogan, who spoke at the opening of the Irrigation New Zealand conference in Alexandra yesterday, said the primary and irrigation sectors were “under pressure” from the public to act responsibly, but did not court publicity and the public therefore sometimes did not know about their positive actions.

Irrigators should not be afraid to “tell the good news”, Mr Cadogan said.

He said it was important for the public to realise there was no direct line between irrigation and degradation of land and water quality, and there was sometimes a disconnect between town and country. . . 

Smarter data push for irrigation – Tom Kitchin:

Data can make irrigation more efficient, Animation Research Ltd owner Ian Taylor told the third and final day of a national body conference yesterday.

Mr Taylor made the point at the 2018 Irrigation New Zealand Conference and Expo in Alexandra yesterday.

“Water is one of the most valuable resources. How can [farmers] manage it more efficiently and how are they held accountable for ways to manage it? Technology has the tools that will allow us to do that,” he said. . . 

Unlisted celebrates first $1 bln issue as Zespri resumes trading after 2018 Gold3 tender – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group’s shares rose to a record when they resumed trading, after being halted for the 2018 allocation of Gold3 kiwifruit licences, pushing the kiwifruit exporter’s market capitalisation to $1.1 billion and making it the first $1 billion company on the Unlisted platform.

Some 16,860 Zespri shares traded today, of which 2,440 changes hands at a record $8.35. The shares first traded at $1.75 after Zespri listed on the Unlisted Securities Exchange in February 2016. . . 

Arden-Peters raid on regionans ramps up:

The Government’s raid on regional New Zealand is ramping up, with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor telling farmers they’ll be taxed thousands for carbon emissions, National’s Nathan Guy and Todd Muller say.

“Mr O’Connor has reportedly told East Coast farmers they’ll be taxed around $5000 to offset their carbon emissions,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“He’s pulling numbers out of the air before the interim Climate Change Committee even begins its work. . . 

Let’s protect our valuable soils, Horticulture New Zealand:

The need to protect New Zealand’s best soils for growing healthy fresh fruit and vegetables is clear in the Our land 2018 report released today, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“This report highlights the expansion in urban areas (a 10 percent increase between 1996 and 2012) and the accompanying loss of some of our most versatile land.

“We have been talking to Government about this issue in Pukekohe, near Auckland, as well as other prime growing areas for fruit and vegetables. Some of this soil is unique, particularly the volcanic soils around Pukekohe where vegetables can be grown all year in a frost free environment. This area feeds a lot of New Zealand. . . 

Te Rapa celebrates 50 years:

For over half a century Te Rapa has been a place of work, a producer of world class dairy, a supportive community and, for some, it has even been home.  

Te Rapa’s official opening on April 20, 1968, was a milestone which represented the confidence the New Zealand Co-Operative Dairy Company (now Fonterra) had in the productive Waikato, it’s dairy farming community and its role in the national economy.

“We had a real sense of community living in that village. There was a swimming pool, tennis courts, a rugby field and always plenty to do when you weren’t working. We had inter-factory rugby and netball competitions in the off season.”  Brian Whittington remembers when the site was being built and moving into the small village on site where 35 key staff members were housed. . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2018

Still dry on Otago farms despite rain :

Recent rain is unlikely to be enough to break Otago’s drought. Farmers are still feeling the pressure of the extreme January heat as low water stocks start to take their toll.

Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt, of Wanaka, said farmers were still facing what some were describing as the worst dry spell in decades. The stock water supplies farmers relied on in a typical year were not available or sufficient this year, he said.

“Farmers are understandably concerned about the wellbeing of their stock and are de-stocking where needed.” . .

Pioneer to build new hydro scheme on Fraser River – Pam Jones:

A new Pioneer Energy hydro scheme on the Fraser River, on Earnscleugh Station, will generate enough electricity to power 4000 households.

Due to the altitude and topography of the area, construction would not be possible during the winter, but track construction and upgrades would begin this month, Pioneer Energy development general manager Peter Mulvihill said. The main construction of the intake, powerhouse and pipeline was scheduled to start in September.

The scheme would generate about 30GWh of power annually and should be supplying the local region by March next year, Mr Mulvihill said. . . 

Deal a good one for NZ farmers – Peter Burke:

The deal NZ has in the now-negotiated Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the best we could have expected, says NZ’s special agricultural trade envoy.

Mike Petersen told Rural News the deal is potentially better for NZ with the US pulling out of the discussions. It is effectively a series of 11 bilateral agreements between each group member, and while the US has pulled out the market access schedules have remained intact.

That means in theory that NZ has a greater opportunity to export products to the other 10 countries in the agreement, Petersen says. . .

Farmers want Healthy Rivers amendments that are practical and not a free pass – Andrew McGivern:

I would like to think that in 2018 this is, at last, when we all start finalising the Healthy Rivers Plan Change One provisions, with hearings scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

For farmers and rural communities within the Waikato-Waipa river catchments, it will be great to finally get some clarity around the rules and direction of this plan change.

This is because from a business point of view, these regulations have been operational and enforceable since it was notified back in September 2016 and are already affecting farm values and investment.

From Federated Farmers’ point of view, while we agree with the aspirations of the vision and strategy, we believe parts of the plan and some of the rules and implementation, is skewed and in need of change. . .

Sorting the wood from the trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

One billion trees. That’s a whole lot of trees.

I got an intriguing email last week.

It was from Crown Forestry, a business unit of MPI.

They were asking me if I had any suitable land to plant for the new government’s One Billion Trees programme, which is the ten-year target. To achieve, it will require new forests on up to 500,000 hectares.

This programme with Crown Forestry is but one of several initiatives to help achieve the target.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help them as I fell outside the criteria of a minimum 200 hectares, which is just over half of our farm area, but most of the other criteria like access within the block and to local roads, terrain, fertility and such applied as we are about to harvest 8 hectares of our own trees that I planted 30 years ago. . .

Rod Slater on how much beef and lamb we eat

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Rod Slater has gone in to bat for New Zealand farmers after a newspaper article suggested environmental sustainability concerns were putting the heat on meat, with rapidly declining domestic consumption of beef and, particularly, lamb.

Speaking to Jamie Mackay on The Country today, Slater said the figures in the article, including that New Zealanders are eating less than 1kg of meat each a year, were inaccurate, and Kiwis were still eating a lot of beef and lamb, though not as much as we used to. . . 

Read the rest of this entry »


Rural round-up

January 18, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis is unlikely to go away – Keith Woodford:

It now seems likely that Mycoplasma bovis is in New Zealand to stay. Just like the rest of the world, we must learn how to live with it. We do not yet have to give up totally on hopes of eradication, but eradication is looking more and more unlikely.

The control program has suffered from incorrect information and poor communication, and there is much to be learned from that. These information flaws have affected farmer and public attitudes. In some cases, this has created additional and unnecessary stress, and unfair criticism of individuals.

However, the probability is that these flaws have not affected the success or failure of the eradication program. The chances are that Mycoplasma bovis has been here for some years, in which case eradication was always going to be impossible. . .

Plants dying as drought threatens vegetable and fruit supplies to shoppers – Pat Deavoll:

Droughts are threatening the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables on shopping shelves and storing water in dams would rectify this, says Horticulture New Zealand.

“Relying on water to fall from the sky simply isn’t enough,” said HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman. “HortNZ believes we should be more proactive in capturing and storing that water to ensure sustainability of supply during times of drought.”

Chapman said the dry conditions of early summer were putting fruit and vegetable growers under pressure to the point where some of them were having to make decisions about which plants and trees they would plant or harvest. . . 

Kiwi-born Nasa scientist for CSST – Pam Jones:

An award-winning Nasa scientist has been appointed director of research for the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST).

The appointment of Delwyn Moller was announced yesterday.

Dr Moller was born and raised in the Waikato, studied at the University of Auckland and went on to design and implement technology for Nasa space missions. She will be moving to Central Otago from Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

CSST chief executive Steve Cotter said Dr Moller’s contribution would be invaluable to CSST and to New Zealand as a whole. . . 

Ask a farmer, we don’t hate you – Pete Fitzherbert:

It must be so easy for the average New Zealander to just start again at the end of one year and begin another – make some resolutions, forget about them within the week, and then if you are feeling a little overweight just go down to the food court at the local mall and problem solved, because compared to the fatty at the smorgasbord you are an athlete!

It’s fair to say it is not as easy for your average farmer. Our seasons roll over without ever having a definitive start or finish.

So, what kind of New Year resolutions or hopes could we have? The best we can do sometimes is hope for the best, plan for the worst and the rest of the time play it as it lays.

Maybe we could hope the next year brings the chance to take off a couple of those public holidays.

Maybe hope for a totally average year in every way, or hope that we can farm, just farm, to the best the season presents us with without the public scrutiny that has begun to develop around agriculture.

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers? . . 

Fonterra partners with Alibaba’s Hema Fresh to launch fresh milk product into China:

Fonterra has launched a new fresh milk product in China in partnership with Hema Fresh, Alibaba’s innovative new retail concept which combines traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping with a digital experience.

The new Daily Fresh milk range is now available in Hema’s 14 stores in Shanghai and Suzhou in 750mL bottles, sourced directly from Fonterra’s farm hub in Hebei province. The product boasts unique product labels to match each day of the week in order to emphasise freshness, with stock being replenished overnight ready for each new day.

Initial volumes are currently around three metric tonnes daily, with plans to scale-up over time and expand with the retailer as it rapidly grows its footprint of stores across China. . . 

A blast from the Haast – NZ’s most isolated town – Sarah Harris:

Of the 240 people who call Haast home there’s one policeman, 13 students at the only school, one electrician who is trying to retire and no plumber. If one comes to town residents chase him down the road.

There’s also no doctor – one comes once a fortnight. If there’s a medicial emergency a helicopter can land on the school field.

A drive to the closest supermarket is two hours away and the nearest hospital in Greymouth is a four-hour drive or 90 minute flight. . . 

Can we keep our country shows alive? – Alex Druce:

IT’s been nearly two years since Wingham last held a country show and organisers are determined to get it right.

“We had to go back to the drawing board, and we’ve got some pretty exciting new things,” says press officer Elaine Turner. 

“For starters, there’s the piggy races. And the demolition derby is going to be on again too . Everyone loves that.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 3, 2018

We don’t need a national conversation about Predator Free 2050 – Joanne Black:

We’re long passed needing to talk about wiping out pests – what we need is a national conversation about national conversations.

On a visit to Auckland recently, I saw that Predator Free 2050’s project manager had been quoted as saying the organisation was not advocating any specific technology for pest eradication. Rather, its role was to “advance our understanding of the range of options available for the task and facilitate a national conversation as to which approaches meet our collective social, ethical and practical standards”. . . 

Rising tide of milk weighs on sentiment- Rabobank’s latest dairy outlook :

The “rising tide of milk” has seen sentiment in the global dairy industry begin to wane, as growth in exportable surpluses across key milk-producing regions gains momentum, according to Rabobank’s latest Dairy Quarterly report.

The report says the global market will “confront a wave of exportable surplus” in coming months, estimated to be 3.2 billion litres higher year-on-year (in liquid milk equivalents) for the six month period October 2017 to March 2018. . .

Young couple show how it’s done – Pam Tipa:

A young dairy farming couple have increased their equity by at least $500,000 in two-three years on a less-than-ideal Far North farm and despite two years of low dairy payout.

They were losing money on a $7/kgMS payout before becoming a partner farm three years ago under the jointly funded DairyNZ and Northland Dairy Development Trust (NDDT) project.

Tony and Briar Lunjevich, of Kaitaia, told their story at the NDDT annual meeting. They are 50:50 sharemilking for Tony’s parents at Takahue and purchased an adjoining run-down beef block just before the partner farm started. About 22ha of this block has now been added to the 107ha milking platform. . .

Huntaway Bowie rescued after night trapped on ledge – Pam Jones:

When Bowie the 2-year-old huntaway decided to chase a rabbit over the cliffs in St Bathans on Sunday, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

But his holiday adventures led to a night stranded on a ledge and an emergency callout yesterday involving 13 volunteer firefighters. . .

NFU President’s New Year message 2018:

“As we look ahead to the next year, we will see an Agricultural White Paper and Agriculture Bill that will shape our industry for generations to come. Despite the uncertain times, I am confident that the NFU has set a clear path for farming and that working with the industry, stakeholders and Governments across the UK, we can all secure a future that delivers for the country, society and thousands of family farms.

“Farming is the bedrock of the UK’s food and drink sector, now worth £112 billion to the nation’s economy, providing jobs for 3.8 million people. Future policy must enable British farmers to invest and grow so the sector can continue to play its part in a successful UK post-Brexit.

 “With Brexit negotiations now past the initial phase, it is more important than ever that we recognise and support the work of British farmers in providing the food for our nation, maintaining our iconic farmed landscape and contributing billions of pounds to the UK’s economy.


Rural round-up

December 28, 2017

Lamb prices surprise in good year for farmers – Dene Mackenzie:

The year was one of surprises, consistency, comebacks and consolidation for New Zealand’s agricultural industry, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny says.

Lamb prices surprised by surging over the year, while beef prices were consistently strong.

Butter made a stunning comeback during the year, helping the dairy sector consolidate its position with another positive year.

The meat sector took centre stage in 2017 and the year was one out of the box for lamb prices, he said. . .

Sale marks new era for rail trail – Pam Jones:

A business that has transported thousands of cyclists over the Otago Central Rail Trail has notched up another milestone in its own journey. Pam Jones talks to Neville and Barbara Grubb about the beginnings of Trail Journeys and where the business will travel to next.

In the early days of the Otago Central Rail Trail it was not only the businesses and operators along the trail that were working things out from scratch, one of the biggest operators on the trail says.

”Those very first cyclists, they were the real pioneers of the trail,” Trail Journeys co-founder Neville Grubb said. ”They were just great. They didn’t mind what was there and they didn’t mind where they stayed. All they wanted was somewhere to rest their head at the end of the day.” . . 

MyFarm $13M Rockit apple investment offer closes oversubscribed – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – MyFarm Investments, which pools funds for rural investment, said its $13 million offer for growing miniature Rockit snack apples closed oversubscribed.

The company said its offer, under the Rakete Orchards Limited Partnership, closed on Dec. 15 having attracted 67 investors with an average investment of $195,000. The partnership will lease and fund the planting of 55 hectares of the Rockit apple variety across four orchard blocks in the Heretaunga Plains of Hawkes Bay, the only planting of new orchards of Rockit apple trees in the country in 2018. . .

Sealord’s annual profit falls 19% on write down of now-exited UK business – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Sealord’s annual profit fell 19 percent largely on an impairment charge of its British-based Sealord Caistor processing business, which was sold to shareholder Nippon Suisan Kaisha.

Net profit fell to $18.5 million in the year ended Sept. 30 versus $22.9 million a year earlier, according to holding company Kura’s financial statements, lodged with the Companies Office. Discontinued operations contributed a loss of $3.2 million to the bottom line, including an impairment charge of $4.9 million. Sealord’s income tax expense was $6.4 million versus $3.7 million in the prior year. . .

Dale Farm announcement widens North-South dairy split – Richard Halleron:

Confirmation of the two new production incentives announced last week by Dale Farm is further evidence of the growing production divide that now exists between the dairy industries on the island of Ireland.

The aforementioned measures, one targeting new entrants and the other encouraging the production of milk the year-round, confirm yet again that processors north of the border are committed to securing milk 12 months of the year.

And, what’s more, they are prepared to pay for this commitment on the part of farmers. 

Meanwhile, the southern co-ops and Teagasc remain totally wedded to the principle of getting as much milk as possible from grazed grass. At one level, this makes perfect sense. Irish dairy farmers should be getting as much milk from the cheapest source of feed available to them – grazed grass. . .


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