New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge has seen the future of the primary sector and pioneered many of its elements well in advance of most farmers, their processors and exporters.
Few people in NZ can claim the transformation of a primary industry through their life’s work and fewer still have taken the principles uncovered beyond their home industry for the betterment of the sector.
All that has been done by Brakenridge’s ideas, enthusiasm, business relationships and persistence.
The forging of long-term supply contracts between wool growers and apparel brands like . .
A Northland farming family is adding value and creating extra income by supplying milk in glass bottles direct to customers. Jenny Ling reports.
Far North sharemilkers Gav Hogarth and Jody Hansen knew they needed a plan B when Fonterra announced a forecast milk payout with a three in front of it.
The couple had been milking their herd of pedigree Jerseys on a conventional, twice-daily milking system for five years at their Kawakawa farm when the dairy co-operative dropped the milk payout from $4.15 a kilogram of milksolids to $3.90 in early 2016.
“At $3 you’re not making any money and farming is not sustainable at that level,” Gav says.
“The options were either I went back to work or we would have to borrow money to feed the cows,” Jody says. . .
Our wardrobes are growing, which comes as no surprise given fibre production for clothing and the amount of clothes produced, is on the rise. But, like most things in life, we have options. Consumers have the power to choose what they wear and this choice can ultimately have a huge impact on what designers, brands and retailers produce.
For many, it may come as a surprise that our love for clothing is putting a strain on the environment. And with phrases such as “climate crisis” becoming the new normal, it’s time for individuals to pay attention to everyday habits. One small action, as insignificant as it may seem, can cumulatively have enormous impact. From wearing our clothes for longer, doing laundry less frequently, or paying attention to what our clothes are actually made of, consumers have the power to make a difference and influence brands’ business decisions.
This report examines consumer wardrobe and laundry behaviours, offering solutions to help reduce our impact on the environment every day. . .
East Cape farmers Rob and Mary Andrews appreciate the opportunities they have been given by people who they have worked for in the past and they enjoy returning the favour to others, as Colin Williscroft discovered.
As the first place in the world to see the sun as it rises every day Mount Hikurangi is on a few bucket lists.
But few people venture to Pakihiroa Farms, about 20km inland from Ruatoria, where Rob and Mary Andrews live and work and which includes the mountain in its boundaries.
The farm is in an isolated spot in a part of the country that does not attract a lot of passing traffic, given it’s not on the way for most New Zealanders. . .
An artificial insemination run is just one of many things a West Coast farmer has up her sleeve to generate extra income for the farm. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.
RUNNING an Airbnb, milking 140 cows and raising two small children keep Hokitika 50:50 sharemilkers Thomas and Hannah Oats busy.
And if that isn’t enough, Hannah, in a bid expand her skills, to benefit their own business and generate some extra income has trained and qualified to become an artificial insemination technician. . .
Twelve hectares of cherry trees planted in September at Mt Pisa Station, Central Otago complete the first stage of a $15.5 million cherry project by the horticultural investment firm Hortinvest.
Mt Pisa Station’s landowners, the MacMillan family, are among the investors who underwrote the planting. The sheep and beef business has set aside 80ha of prime pastoral land for the venture as it diversifies into horticulture.
The orchard will produce cherries for export from the summer of 2021-2022. . .
An Invercargill Blue River Dairy manager believes the company is changing the face of the New Zealand dairy industry and recent recognition adds support to such a view.
Earlier this week, the Southland-based company received awards for fastest-growing manufacturing business and fastest-growing exporter at the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards, held in Auckland, which ranks the country’s fastest-growing businesses.
The company was also announced as the fifth-fastest-growing business overall. . .
People see the serrated leaves and the fuzzy buds from afar, but it’s the familiar smell wafting over the field that seals the deal.
They pack a not-so-brilliant idea into their heads and scramble to yank the hardy plants right from the soil. Back home, they light up and sit sober in the smoke, writing off their heist as a bunch of dank weed.
Hemp resembles marijuana, its much more psychoactive cousin, in just about every way except one: It probably won’t get you high. People in the US state of Pennsylvania caught stealing hemp still haven’t figured that out. . .
Fonterra directors Donna Smit and Andy Macfarlane have been returned to the co-op’s board after retiring by rotation.
Shareholders Scott Montgomerie and Ellen Bartlett were elected unopposed to the directors’ remuneration committee and Ian Brown was elected unopposed as the Fonterra farmer custodian trustee, Fonterra said.
All successful candidates will take office at the close of Fonterra’s annual meeting in Invercargill on Thursday. . .
Oamaru Meats is still working through the problems that forced it to shut down in September.
The company, owned by China’s BX Foods, stopped all processing after access for its beef to China was suspended.
Director Richard Thorp said about 140 staff were stood down while managers worked with New Zealand and Chinese authorities to regain the lost access.
A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said the suspension was not related to food safety issues and applied “only to Oamaru Meats and not to exports from any other New Zealand meat establishments”. . .
I have written before about how much we love our shedding sheep. We love our Wiltshires from a distance because they never really need any hands-on work. Wiltshires don’t need shearing, dagging or tailing.
Our Wiltshires were “bred up” from minimally shepherded Perendales by the previous occupants of our land. They stag leap over fences at the very sight of us. Because of this, we have also discovered that we can forgo drenching and almost all other forms of handling. From my window, I can see the ewes roaming over the hills in the distance with troupes of energetic lambs bouncing behind them. That is about as close as I will get until it is time to draft the lambs for their big OE. . .
Livestock farmers feel “under siege” from a barrage of negativity over climate change, agricultural emissions, healthy diets and veganism – and they urged a more balanced discussion about more sustainable meat production.
In recent months, the under-fire industry has been highlighted as a key component of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, sparking discussions on the global impact of farm animals on the environment, and debates about whether meat-free diets could be part of the solution to global warming.
It added to the ethical arguments of a vocal vegan movement, endorsed by influential celebrities like Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who recently sparked controversy by saying adopting a vegan diet is the “only way to truly save our planet”. . .
An independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) believes achieving eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still feasible.
The group’s latest report was released yesterday by the Ministry for Primary Industries in which it supported the changes the M. bovis programme had made over the past six months.
Given available data, achieving biological freedom from M. bovis was feasible provided the number of undetected infected herds was not large, infection had not established and spread within the non-dairy sector, and that the rate of transmission to new herds was reduced via continued shortening in the intervals from infection to application of movement controls, it said. . .
Southland farmers are community and spiritual leaders in the Islamic community. They put their faith above everything and answered the call to help after the Christchurch mosque shootings. They talk to Sonita Chandar about their experiences and farming.
On Friday March 15 Invercargill farmer and imam of the world’s southernmost mosque, Reza Abdul-Jabbar, was delivering his weekly sermon when a worshipper’s phone rang.
Until then it had been super quiet, as it usually is during the service.
He reminded the man it was a time for silence, not to take the call and continued.
Faced with all manner of economic worries — from Trump to freshwater policies — where might investors put their hard-won savings in the hope of a better than deposit rate return? Might cherries — the horticultural darling of the moment in Central Otago — be the answer? Mark Price sought out two opinions.
Ross and Sharon Kirk are cherry industry consultants trading as Hortinvest Ltd. They have the biggest netted orchard under management in Central Otago (close to 40ha), and are in the process of planting two 80ha, ‘‘fully-netted’’ development
Suitability for Central Otago
Q: What are the basic requirements for cherries to thrive?
A: Low rainfall over harvest, good winter chilling, reasonable soils (nutrient), adequate water, reasonable shelter from wind, and netting (to keep out birds).
Q: Which requirements does Central Otago meet?
A: All of the above, although the bird netting is expensive. . . .
Well we’ve put some runs on the board. A little early for us but I think these maybe the first bales made in our little part of the NI high country. Perfect day for it. pic.twitter.com/henc4cbbCC
North Canterbury farmers Melissa and Hayden Cowan have a small flock of rare black-nosed Swiss Valais sheep.
Often referred to as the “cutest sheep in the world” this distinctive breed with black face and ears, curly forelocks and spotted knees and hocks originate in the mountains of the Valais area of Switzerland.
They imported their first embryos from the UK in 2018 and from the 32 embryos 18 live lambs were born so there’s no guarantee they’ll work. The embryos cost $2000 a pop so it’s a quite an investment. .
A team of agricultural innovators wants to help farmers take clever ideas to market across at least 100,000ha of mixed Kiwi farmland. Tim Fultonreports.
The self-described social enterprise-plus, Leftfield Innovation, is helping farmers explore alternative land uses and contracts.
Funding the enterprise mostly from trust grants, processing companies, farmers and science funds the co-founders Nick Pyke and Susan Goodfellow and four colleagues are exploring commercial opportunities for farmers to convert low-yield farmland to grow high-yield crops. . . .
With data scientists and software developers at their disposal Jo Kerslake and Mark Teviotdale from AbacusBio are keen to help farmers understand their on-farm emissions.
When Kerslake heard the call for projects from the Rural Innovation Lab she applied without a clear picture of what an end product could look like.
“We were a little unsure about what farmers wanted to know,” she said. . .
Always fun having a side by side paddock trial. Prophet and Wintermax triticale in Pukekohe. Significant annual DM production when this follows and is followed by a 20t DM/ha maize crop pic.twitter.com/syH1YAOhRx
New Zealand’s wallaby problem could become a full-blown plague unless efforts to control them are ramped up and ‘shortsighted’ hunters start playing by the rules.
Forest and Bird says the pests could spread to cover a third of the country unless the Government steps in to fund a beefed-up control programme.
Central North Island regional manager Rebecca Stirnemann said wallabies were like giant rabbits, eating their way through native bush, damaging tussock grasslands and devouring pasture and young pine trees. . .
Farmers are being hamstrung by well-meaning but poorly targeted regulation, writes Simon Davies of Otago Federated Farmers.
Today, while crutching my breeding rams, I was considering the latest policy package from central government.
To be fair there was not a lot of constructive thought undertaken, as this task is a fairly intense activity as those of you who have done it know. For those of you who have not, crutching rams (removing the wool around the tail and between the legs for hygiene purposes) is a bit like wrestling 80 to 100kg sacks of potatoes that fight back.
As I was struggling with a sore back, the term hamstrung came to mind. . .
People don’t appreciate how difficult it is to change farm systems quickly, says Pāmu chief executive Steven Carden.
“They are difficult biological systems and people who are not in farming expect you to be able to switch on the new system overnight,” he told Dairy News.
“It takes a long time to get those changes right, to embed the new technologies in farm systems to make them work effectively. Farmers fundamentally are small business people who can’t risk their entire business with a big shift in how they operate one year to the next. . .
Finally a bit of heat. Been lucky with no rain but temperatures have been cold and slow growth rates. Even got cows in wearing a tshirt pic.twitter.com/C26PfUggnD
Public perceptions of farming are more positive than farmers think, a survey shows.
“The strong theme we have heard from farmers in the past is that they do not feel well-liked by their urban counterparts. However, when you poll the general population, this is simply not true,” UMR research executive director Marc Elliot says.
UMR surveyed more than 1000 people last month and found the response at odds with the view held by many in primary industries.
New Zealanders are almost five times as likely to hold a positive view of sheep and beef farming than a negative one, the research showed. . .
How do candidates standing for the Otago Regional Council see the future of farming in Otago? That question and others has been posed to all candidates by Southern Rural Life ahead of next month’s local body election. It is shaping up to be an interesting election, with 28 people vying for 12 positions.
All candidates were asked by Southern Rural Life to respond to the following questions and their responses are below (responses were not received from Matt Kraemer, Andrew Noone, Gail May-Sherman and Gordon Dickson)
Question 1 Why are you standing for council?
Question 2 How do you see the future of farming in Otago?
Question 3 Good management practice and improvements to some farming activities will be needed if Otago’s water aspirations are to be achieved. What approach to regulation and rules do you support and where do you think partnerships, incentives and industry support might fit in (if at all)?
Question 4 Do you think there should be discretion for regional councils to determine local solutions for local issues or should a centralized response always apply instead? . . .
Like my family before me, and following after me, I’ve always taken great pride in being a dairy farmer, and in the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry internationally.
My husband and I grew up in a generation where we had the opportunity to buy a farm and build our livelihoods on the land as our family had before us. It has been a privilege to forge an incredible career as a dairy farmer. My husband, Louis, and I are both award-winning dairy farmers and we’re proud of the mark we’ve made on the industry.
Sadly, the outlook for New Zealand’s primary sector is the worst that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t make this strong statement lightly, nor to scaremonger – but rather to reflect the policy settings under a virtue-signalling government which is setting the dairy industry up for failure. As a rural MP, but more importantly as a farmer, I won’t sit back and allow the ladder to be pulled up behind future generations of New Zealanders wanting to pave their way in the farming sector. . .
Tributes are flowing in from around the world in memory of Dannevirke shearing identity Koropiko Tumatahi (Koro) Mullins, who died suddenly on Monday at the age of 65.
Mr Mullins was known across all aspects for the shearing industry and sports, from shearer and shearing contractor to a frontman commentating role shearing great Sir David Fagan says set the standard on a global scale.
Born and raised in the Rotorua area, and of Te Arawa stock, he met the-then Mavis Paewai when he was a woolpressing teenager working for her brothers and father in Southern Hawke’s Bay.
It sparked what Fagan says was a unique family involvement and commitment to the shearing and wool industry, becoming the basis of Maori Television series Shear Bro which first aired in July last year. . .
Farming families and communities keen to do the right thing on water should not lose hope and confidence in the consultation process, says a Canterbury dairy farmer and industry leader.
The Government’s proposed nitrogen target for mid Canterbury isn’t attainable, says Colin Glass.
But that is no reason to give up on the consultation process, he says. “It looks as though there is nothing we could do today that would even come close to achieving that target. It simply means that if that target is not amended, farming as we know it today is not possible. Any form of farming.
“The key thing is that farmers are doing the right thing. Everyone is moving in the right direction. Now is not the time for people to lose faith or confidence in the process. . .
Climate change policies, the Billion Tree initiative and recent news promote the establishment of extensive pine plantations to benefit Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate change response by sinking carbon. Others have questioned the benefit of short-rotation plantation pines compared to natural regeneration of native forests. Whilst afforestation has an important role in New Zealand’s climate change response, we need to be clear about future implications.
There are both native and introduced tree species that grow fast and others that grow more slowly. Consider along with the speed of sequestration, the total carbon stocks that can be accumulated, and how long sequestration rates can be sustained. These rates depend on whether the forest is permanent and allowed to grow to maturity (i.e. not harvested) or harvested.
Fast-growing trees such as pines or eucalypts in harvested plantations reach their maximum carbon storage capacity in about 20 years. Landowners then lose most of those carbon stocks when the forest is harvested; NZ loses most of the embedded carbon when logs are exported; furthermore, the globe loses most of those stocks back into the atmosphere as the products decay, as well as through associated emissions from forest management, transport and processing. Thus to store more carbon actually requires another forest to be planted on new land that is not already forested, while also continuing to replant and maintain the previous area in forest to recover the lost carbon stocks. That is, plantation areas will need to be doubled in size with every crop. . .
Waikato dairy farmer Christopher Falconer is parked up on his farm looking out over the wetlands as he talks about mitigating the effects of climate change.
“I don’t make climate change-based decisions for what we do on-farm. I don’t. But as it happens, there’s a great deal of overlap between what is good for the climate, and what is good for all sorts of other things.”
Take riparian planting, the practice of growing plants alongside waterways. The goal is to mitigate nutrient loss and subsidence and stream bank erosion, but it’s also an effective carbon capture.
Fonterra’s delay in announcing its results, driven by Fonterra’s need for discussions with its auditors about appropriate asset values, provides an opportunity to reflect on Fonterra’s capital structure and whether it is still fit for purpose. The simple answer is that it is not.
The value destruction that has occurred and which is now coming to light means that inherent conflicts between the interests of farmer shareholders and investor unitholders have become too great to be papered over. Co-operatives do not survive long-term unless everyone’s interests align.
Two former directors of Fonterra, Colin Armer and Nicola Shadbolt, have both come out recently and said that reworking Fonterra’s capital structure is not the immediate priority. I agree with them. The immediate and urgent priority is to sell assets and create a new slimmed-down and financially-efficient organisational structure, with many fewer high-paid executives. . .
Attracting the best and brightest minds is and remains one of the international meat industry’s top priorities and for Sam Hitchman – a physicist in an industry dominated by biological researchers – the quest to attract new talent has paid off.
The AgResearch scientist recently won the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) Prize for Young Talent in Meat Science and Technology at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) near Berlin, Germany.
Sam Hitchman, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in AgResearch’s Meat Quality team, says he was thrilled with the recognition, while adding he didn’t feel “young” – as his award would suggest – upon his return to New Zealand. . .
It was just a few months ago that experts were declaring the end of meat. Earlier this year, consultancy firm AT Kearney predicted that by 2040, animal products will have become so socially and environmentally unacceptable that most “meat” eaten across the globe will come in the form of plant-based or lab-grown substitutes.
But a major study released this week just might put the brakes on the rapidly accelerating plant-based trend. According to Oxford University research, published in the British Medical Journal, vegetarians and vegans have a 20 per cent higher risk of stroke than those who regularly tuck into a plate of bacon and sausages.
The authors of the study, which tracked almost 50,000 Britons for 18 years, said this might be because veggies did not have enough cholesterol in their blood. The finding flies in the face of much conventional wisdom, which says that vegetarianism is a healthy alternative to a carnivorous lifestyle.
But nutritionists say the increased risk of stroke is just one of the many health risks that any would-be vegetarian should be made aware of before they take the plunge. . .