Rural round-up

February 28, 2018

Diverse entries recognised in Irrigation Innovation Awards :

A water race safety video for children, a GIS Database system helping farmers to meet environmental requirements and a new effluent screen which allows effluent to be more easily applied via centre pivot irrigators have been named as finalists in IrrigationNZ’s Irrigation Innovation Awards for 2018.

Be Water-Race Safe is a video for school age children developed by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective. Some of the Collective’s member schemes operate open water races in parts of Waitaki and Waimate, which supply water for irrigation, stock, town supply, and industry. . . 

Will Taylor wins Taranaki/Manawatu regional final of FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

A technical field representative for PGG Wrightson has been named the Taranaki/Manawatu FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Will Taylor, 26, took out the title after winning the hotly-contested Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final in Wellington tonight.

The event saw eight finalists from across the sprawling region tackle a series of gruelling modules, including a fast-paced agri-knowledge quiz. . . 

Fonterra finally makes a move on a2 milk – Pam Tipa:

a2 Milk Co has struck a deal with Fonterra that will enable it, over time, to diversify its milk sourcing, processing and manufacturing to meet growing demand for its products, the company says.
It will not affect its current relationship with Synlait, a spokesman told Dairy News.

Fonterra and a2 Milk Company (a2MC) have signed a deal that links the co-op’s global milk pool and supply chain, manufacturing, and sales and distribution with a2MC’s brand strength and capabilities.

Fonterra will now begin talking to its farmers to source an A2 milk pool for a2MC products in New Zealand. A similar milk pool in Australia will also be developed. . . 

Synlait Milk buys Pokeno site for new factory, flags $260M investment – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk has conditionally bought a site in Pokeno in Waikato where it plans to spend $260 million developing its second nutritional powder manufacturing factory.

The Rakaia-based milk processor’s acquisition is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval, and the company said it will know the commissioning date for the factory once it’s got consents and approvals. The first dryer at the Pokeno site is expected to have annual capacity of 40,000 metric tonnes, matching dryer three at its Dunsandel site. . . .

More NZ organic winegrowers are needed to meet growing international demand:

Organic Winegrowers New Zealand is calling for more grape growers to convert to organic production to meet growing international demand.

There is currently a shortage of organic winegrapes in New Zealand.

“I’m constantly fielding phone calls from established wine companies and new wine companies looking to purchase organic fruit, because they’re seeing and –

being asked for it in markets around the world, and the supply’s not there,” says Bart Arnst.  . .

TOMRA Continues Expansion in Global Food Sorting Solutions Sector with acquisition of BBC Technologies:

TOMRA today signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of the shares in BBC Technologies*. The deal sees BBC Technologies’ precision grading systems and innovative punnet and clamshell filling solutions for blueberries and other small fruits join TOMRA Food’s own fruit inspection and grading technology portfolio.

TOMRA will also, innovative software which TOMRA foresees complementing its other developments in data and analytics solutions. Freshtracker™ enables traceability of the origins and characteristics of individual products from harvesting, processing and packaging, through to point-of-sale. . .

What happened when New Zealand got rid of government subsidies for farmers? – Josh Siegel:

In 2006, Chris Hausman, a fourth-generation Midwestern farmer long accustomed to depending on government support for survival, traveled across the world to witness a revolution in agriculture.

It had been more than 20 years since a left-leaning government in New Zealand chose to eliminate government subsidies for farmers, and Hausman was surprised at what had transpired since.

“I will tell you it was a shock to their agricultural system,” says Hausman, 58, who farms corn and soybeans on a 1,500-acre plot 150 miles south of Chicago. . . 



Rural round-up

February 11, 2018

Pest eradication has more birds singing – Kerrie Waterworth:

A four-year plan to trap stoats, rats, possums and weasels in the Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka, is music to the ears, writes Kerrie Waterworth.

This summer, for the first time in years, tourist jet-boat operators report hearing birds in the forests of the Matukituki Valley between Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring.

Wanaka-based River Journeys guide James Blunt has been taking tourists up the Matukituki River for six years and said he had really started noticing the birdsong since October.

“We’ve gone from long periods of nothing to now getting four to six species of birds most trips.” . . 

Environmental concerns prompt changes – Pam Tipa:

Concerns about the sensitive environment of the Kaipara Harbour prompted the top-performing drystock unit Te Opu to transition from sheep and beef breeding to a successful unit finishing bulls and lambs.

This gave the farm the flexibility needed to respond to the sensitive environmental challenges of its location on the Kaipara Harbour shores.

The farm is now a three year Beef + Lamb NZ environmental focus farm sponsored from several sources. . .

Fish farms get pollution blame – Tim Fulton:

Fish farming in Mackenzie Basin hydro canals is feeding worms usually found in sewage, aquatic expert Rowan Wells says.

Wells, a NIWA freshwater botanist, monitored the health of the glacier-fed water and said the ecosystem in the waterways around the area’s salmon farms was clearly degraded.

NIWA was reporting to Meridian Energy on algae and periphyton and fungal bacterial matter coating rocks and plants. . . 

First up best dressed – Mark Daniel:

The rising fortunes of global farming are raising the demand for European-made tackle, which might signal supply problems for Kiwi farmers and contractors looking to hit the new season with new toys.

Several importers and distributors — including Origin Agroup that imports Pottinger, Joskin and Alpego, and Power Farming Wholesale that imports and distribute McHale, Kverneland and Maschio – are advising early ordering to guarantee delivery by late August.

“European manufacturers were predicting a 3% rise in volumes for the 2018 season after a couple of stagnant years,” David Donnelly, managing director of Origin Agroup told Rural News. . .

Dual meat-Wool sheep sell well – Alan Williams:

Good prices were secured across the board at the annual Rollesby Valley onfarm lamb sales on Thursday with halfbreds especially in strong demand for their dual wool and meat income.

About 20,000 lambs from 12 vendors were sold across nine properties in the wider Burkes Pass area of inland South Canterbury.

Most were store lambs but a good number of primes sold well for processing,with a top price of $160 and the better types trading up from about $130. The second cut of primes sold at $120 to $129, PGG Wrightson’s South Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said. . .

Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.


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 10, 2017

Liam Hehir DESTROYS a neoliberal farmer – Liam Hehir:

When I went out to see my parents the other night, Dad looked pretty worried. Every now and then I would catch him looking out the window at the sea of yellowing grass on our little dairy farm. “It’s going to be one of the worst droughts in decades,” he said absentmindedly.

My patience wore thin. “You usually vote for National, right?” I asked. Dad said nothing in silent confirmation.

I adopted my most scolding voice.

“You farmers have a lot of nerve being upset about this. You lot are always voting National. But National is the party that allowed water bottling companies to dig up our water and ship it overseas. Surprise, surprise, we’ve run out – it’s all in other countries! Now you have the temerity to wince and try to guilt us over the great summer we’re enjoying?” . . 

James and Bridget’s farm:

From the farmers:

Hi, we’re James and Bridget and we run Quambatook farm near Oamaru. The Aboriginal name of Quambatook means ‘place of rest’. We are fifth generation farmers in partnership with James’ parents Ray and Kathrin McNally.

We converted to dairy ten years ago and currently milk 800 cows increasing to 900 in the 18/19 season. We have three children, Charlotte (5), Jimmy (3) and Olivia (1). They all love getting out and about on the farm and helping.

Our main purpose is to be environmental stewards for the next generation and dairy farming is providing us with a pathway to succession.  We would love to have people come and visit our farm to inform and educate them about how a sustainable dairy business works and show them how much we care about our environment. . . 

Open Gates day a chance for farmers to show they care about the environment – Gerald Piddock:

Wynn Brown hopes opening the gates of his dairy farm will put a human face on an industry that increasingly is offside with the public.

The Matamata dairy farmer is one of eight farmers around Waikato and 40 around the country taking part in Fonterra’s Open Gates day on Sunday, December 10.

The industry “had taken a fair bit of a beating” over the last six months and he hoped the day would go some way to changing that.

“My hope is that it bridges the gap between urban and rural and that urban people can see that we are trying hard to do the right thing.” . . 

Meat company choice clearer than it’s every been – Allan Barber:

November used to be the month when we could get a comprehensive idea of the financial state of the meat industry because annual results were published in quick succession by three of the major processors: Alliance, Silver Fern Farms and AFFCO. When AFFCO was absorbed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Talley’s, there were still the two cooperatives to provide a comparison, but now SFF’s balance date is 31st December. So we must now wait until March to find out about ANZCO and SFF. This means Alliance’s result is the only one which can give a factual record of the traditional meat year, while it is still reasonably fresh in the mind.

Therefore the headline numbers – turnover up 13%, $20.2 million operating profit (2016 $10.1 m), $11.4 million pool distributions ($9.8 m) and 71% equity (70.6%) – make encouraging, if not exactly overwhelming, reading and suggest Alliance has turned a corner after last year’s near breakeven performance, while also indicating a better trading environment for the industry as a whole. This has also occurred against the backdrop of improved returns for sheep and beef farmers. That said, last season was easier for sheep meat dominant processors than for those with larger beef businesses because of the respective climate effects on livestock flows. . . 

Mouldy fed threatens animal health – Pam Tipa:

Mycotoxins threaten animal health and producer profits, so identifying and addressing these hidden challenges is important for farmers.

The Alltech 37+ test now identifies five extra mycotoxins that can threaten animal health and producer profitability.

The testing is available to New Zealand farmers, but it is done in Ireland, an Alltech NZ representative says. At least 140 samples have been sent from NZ with interesting results. . .

‘Choose Black’ wins gold:

A campaign to market mastitis treatments to dairy farmers has been recognised at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards.

The Choose Black marketing campaign was developed to showcase Virbac New Zealand’s locally made mastitis treatments.

At the start of the 2016-17 season Virbac targeted the lactating cow intramammary market where rival products had been used for many years. . .

Rural round-up

November 28, 2017

Irrigation makes the difference – Sally Rae:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Big Day Out — Farming Without Boundaries — was held at Matakanui Station, near Omakau, last week. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae went along for a look.

Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of Paterson family ownership of Matakanui Station, near Omakau.

It is a markedly different property to the vast 32,000ha property for which a depasturing licence was issued to Richard Anthony Filleul in September 1859 . . 

EPA chief scientist says irrigation good for environment – Sally Rae:

Irrigation, when carefully managed, is a “great boon” to the environment, Environmental Protection Authority chief scientist Dr Jacqueline Rowarth says.

When she looked at irrigation, she saw organic matter growing in the soil, schedules being met and therefore happy bank managers because farmers could guarantee their income stream.

It provided income to control rabbits, wilding pines — “and whatever else you want to do”, she said. . .

Protecting an environment includes the economy – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The role of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in New Zealand is to keep the environment and people safe, whilst enhancing lifestyle – which means considering the economy as well.

These aspects are taken into account in all the decision-making processes, recognising that lifestyle requires income – and that goes for NZ as a whole as well as individuals.

Much of the EPA’s work involves facilitating the decision-making process for proposals from applicants for nationally significant resource management proposals under the Resource Management Act (RMA). Another role of importance for the primary sector is administering and making decisions on new applications under the Hazardous Substance and New Organisms (HSNO) Act. . . 

Farming people the biggest concern – Pam Tipa:

If you think milk price or weather are dairy farmers’ biggest concerns, think again – it’s people.

That is what a survey by Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) has revealed. Chief executive Zelda de Villiers says the results were “quite surprising” and provided a clearer picture about what is important to dairy farmers. ‘What is Important’ was the theme of the recent DWN annual meeting where the survey results were presented.

“When farmers were asked about the difficulties they faced on farm, issues like financial, weather or milk price, none of those things made the top deck of challenges,” de Villiers told Dairy News. . .

Farmers become cash cows – Glenn’s Christian:

The Local Government Commission is set to decide on December 1 whether northern Rodney residents can break away from Auckland.

The long-awaited decision comes after two reports were released, one by the commission showing a large deficit for the small unitary council many local northern Rodney residents want to be set up.

Morrison Low suggested that based on Auckland City Council figures a North Rodney Unitary Council would have a deficit of $13.5 million, meaning rates would need to increase by 48%. . .

Quality wool sells well – Alan Williams:

Good quality wool sold well at the latest Napier auction last Thursday but buyers paid less for average types than they did at the previous sale.

Gains included a 3% lift for good style 35 micron and up to 4% better for 37 micron and stronger style.

However, more average wool was up to 8% cheaper than previously, PGG Wrightson North Island auctioneer Steve Fussell said. . . 

Rural round-up

November 24, 2017

NZ food shortages in 5 years – report – Pam Tipa:

New Zealand has no food security policy and will be short of some foods within five years, says a Horticulture NZ report on domestic vegetable production.

“We complacently believe we will always be able to sustainably grow enough food to feed ourselves and contribute to the country’s economic wellbeing,” the report says.

“However with prime production land being lost, climate change, competition for water resources, extreme weather events and the constant threat of pests and disease we must turn our minds to food security issues for the future of NZ’s domestic production.” . . 

Young Farmers search for talent – Tim Fulton:

Young Farmers is re-inventing itself as an agency for talent attraction from schools, helping farming to compete for staff in towns and cities.

The organisation was pitching for funding from industry groups and corporates to inject more farming-based curriculum into the education system.

The project would cost $1.5m, chief executive Terry Copeland said.

Once in place Young Farmers staff would manage the relationship with schools and commercial backers of the project like a sales account, he said. . .

Sweet success in manuka honey – Peter Burke:

Manuka honey could long term earn more money for a central North Island Maori trust than its sheep and beef farming operation.

Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, whose large land holdings range from the central North Island to the Whanganui River, is planting manuka on steep country largely unsuitable, or less productive, for sheep and beef.

Chief executive Andrew Beijeman says they are also letting land, which is naturally reverting back to manuka. . .

Possums sorted – look out Omaui rats – Kate Guthrie:

A few years back, John Collins of Omaui got sick of shooting possums every night. He decided more needed to be done.

Omaui is a small village of about 30 houses in Southland, located right at the mouth of the Oreti River estuary, opposite Oreti Beach.

“I’ve always been environment-minded,” says John, who is now Chairman of the Omaui Landcare Group, “But until I came to Omaui I’d never settled in a place where that feeling for the environment came out. . .

IrrigationNZ back to help improve irrigation management:

IrrigationNZ will be back on farms this summer testing irrigation systems and helping farmers improve the efficiency of their irrigation.

Last summer, IrrigationNZ in partnership with Environment Canterbury, developed a new testing programme which saw 131 Ashburton farms have their irrigation systems tested to see how they were performing.

Over the next three months, IrrigationNZ will be testing irrigation systems in Selwyn district. As part of the testing process, farmers and farm staff are also interviewed to find out how they manage their irrigation systems. . . 

Can we sustainably meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries?—Yes, says Louise Fresco – Susan MacMillan:

The following argument for continuing to use livestock to use the planet’s full ecological potential is made by Louise Fresco, a Dutch writer and food and agricultural scientist specializing in sustainable tropical agriculture. President of the executive board of Wageningen University and Research, Fresco is a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors and holds many other distinguished appointments and honours.

Fresco says that the short answer to the question of whether livestock production can meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries is ‘yes’.

‘Livestock production cannot only meet the growing demand for animal proteins, but we absolutely need livestock to use the planet in a sustainable and healthy way. . .


%d bloggers like this: