Rural round-up

July 22, 2018

Fonterra faces crisis of confidence – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Fonterra director Leonie Guiney says the co-op is facing a crisis of confidence.

She says the dairy co-op’s balance sheet is no longer in a position to handle more of the investment culture, while its leadership continues to deny there are any issues with strategic direction.

Guiney, a director for three years, says because the current leadership is overseeing the recruitment of a new chief executive, farmers face more of the same from the co-op. . .

Concerns over Mycoplasma bovis leave farmer confidence in the balance:

Concerns about the impact of Mycoplasma bovis disease on the country’s agricultural sector have seen New Zealand farmer confidence decline over the past quarter, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While farmer confidence remains at net positive levels, the overall reading dropped to +two per cent in the latest quarter, from +15 per cent in the previous survey.

The latest survey – completed last month – found the number of farmers expecting the rural economy to improve in the next 12 months had fallen slightly to 26 per cent (from 27 per cent last quarter), while the number expecting the rural economy to worsen rose to 24 per cent (from 12 per cent). A total of 46 per cent were expecting similar conditions (down from 59 per cent). . .

Hastings’ company First Light Gains gold at World Steak Challenge – Doug Laing:

Innovative Hastings meat company First Light has suddenly become the little mouse that roared by claiming two major steak awards in less than a month, including a rare win for New Zealand beef overseas.

Its grass-fed Wagyu rib-eye, from a Taranaki farm and processed for the company in Hamilton, won a gold medal at the World Steak Challenge which ended in London on July 4, just three weeks after the company won New Zealand’s Best of Brand title, one of the two major titles in the Steak of Origin at the National Agricultural Fieldays on June 13. . .

Eight ways to improve native vegetation on private land:

Researchers have come up with eight recommendations on how New Zealanders can help increase the benefits they reap from large-scale native restorations located on private land.

To substantially increase the scale of native restoration, several issues need to be built into restoration planning, implementation and monitoring, according to a paper co-authored by Challenge Project LeaderProfessor David Norton of the University of Canterbury

The study focuses on areas that have been used for pastoral farming – which comprise 40% of Aotearoa’s land area – because these are the areas that will get the most conservation benefit from substantially upscaling restoration activities. Upscaling means dramatically increasing the land area of restoration activities to tens or hundreds of thousands of hectares. . .

Beetles find an answer to nitrogen – Peter Burke:

While scientists and farm consultants in laboratories try to solve the problem of nitrogen loss on farms, a large force of creatures works underground 24/7 on the issue.

Peter Burke reports on the work of the dung beetle and a man passionate about their progress.

Dr Shaun Forgie, an entomologist who has studied dung beetles in various countries, is one of a small group of international experts. . .

World famous in New Zealand: saleyard tour Fielding – Pamela Wade:

Twice a week, Manawatu Manawatū farmers pour into the middle of the pretty town of Feilding to empty or fill their trailers and stock trucks with the sheep and cattle that are sold at its busy and long-established livestock market.

They reckon it’s the oldest in the country, running since 1880; and that it’s one of the biggest in the southern hemisphere.

Certainly, dogs and people funnel thousands of sheep and hundreds of cattle through the saleyards each week, and the air is full of baaing and mooing – as well as that other distinctive indication that you’re in the presence of large numbers of farm animals. . .

Cultivar performance under the FVI spotlight:

DairyNZ’s Forage Value Index (FVI) helps farmers choose the best-performing grasses for their region using its simple five-star rating system. Trials have now started to test the FVI systems under realistic dairy farm management conditions, as DairyNZ senior scientist Cáthal Wims explains.

The DairyNZ FVI is an independent, regionspecific, profit-based index for short-term and perennial ryegrass cultivars, which allows farmers to select cultivars based on the expected economic value to their business. It categorises cultivars into five ‘star rating’ groups in each dairy region – those with a higher star rating are expected to deliver greater economic value for dairy farmers. . .


Rural round-up

June 20, 2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

March 25, 2018

Growing NZ pride in dairy – Colin Glass:

It’s an exciting time in the dairy sector. There is so much change happening: we have a new strategy, ‘Dairy Tomorrow’, and changes to the DairyNZ board, to name a few.

I’ve seen a marked change in dairy farmers over the past year too.

People outside the sector may think I’m referring to the extensive work farmers are doing to make their farms more environmentally sustainable. But as you all know, this isn’t new; farmers have been doing this for a long time. . . 

Rural Women critical of maternity services :

Rural Women New Zealand say it is ironic that in the 125th year of suffrage, New Zealand women are struggling to gain and retain health services.

“New Zealand is still hailed as a world leader because New Zealand women won their right to vote in 1893, however, we are behind in maternity care,” says board member and Health convenor Margaret Pittaway.

“RWNZ has been observing the developing dilemma for midwives and those they care for, with increasing concern. Rural midwives are simply not receiving a living wage due to the expectation they travel many more miles to visit patients,” says Margaret. . .

Don’t be complacent :

Sheep and beef farmers should not be complacent in grasping opportunities, retiring Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

He told the annual meeting in Gisborne the Red Meat Story should be rolled out to global markets later this year.

Final details were being signed off with processor partners on the proposed brand mark, story and Go-to-Market strategy. . .

Farmer relationship with processor costing NZ:

New research from Lincoln University shows poor relationships between farmers and their meat processors could be costing New Zealand.

Dr Nic Lees said improving those relationships was essential to New Zealand producing higher value products that meet consumer needs.

He surveyed over 1000 sheep, beef and deer farmers. These three industries together make up 12 per cent of New Zealand’s exports and currently contribute $5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy. . . 

Westland signs with South East Asia’s largest-listed consumer health and nutrition firm:

Building on its growing market presence in China, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, Westland Milk Products, signalled an increased presence in South East Asia by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesian consumer health and nutrition giant Kalbe (PT Sanghiang Perkasa).

Today’s signing, in the presence of visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a business forum held in Wellington, is the first step toward forming a strategic partnership between Westland and Kalbe. . .

Sheep milking serious business – Peter Burke:

The sheep milk industry has made huge strides in the last four years, says Massey University associate professor Craig Prichard.

The 4th annual Sheep Milking Conference was held in Palmerston North last week, attracting 150 producers, scientists and interested observers.

Prichard, known as a driver of the industry, says four years ago only four cheese makers attended; this year there were 16.

He says in four years the industry has moved from being “gee whizz isn’t that interesting” to a serious business with a future. . . 


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

December 14, 2017

Out of pocket by hundreds of thousands – Sally Rae:

A South Otago farmer who estimates  he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak remains concerned about the future of his main income earner.

It was not just the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group — on whose farms the disease was first detected in the Waimate district — that was affected, Ross Clark said.

“A lot of other people are hurting because of this,” Mr Clark, who farms at Glenore, 5km southwest of Milton, said yesterday while in the middle of weaning lambs on his father’s farm near Lovells Flat.

He said the main part of his income was from providing service bulls to the dairy industry, either by lease or sale.

The business, built up over the past decade, had about 600 bulls destined for properties throughout the South Island.

In June, he bought 52 calves from a property in North Otago that later tested positive for the bacterial disease. . .

We will always be here’ – a young farmer’s passionate message to animal rights activists – Alison Waugh:

Animal rights activists have been staging protests at livestock auction marts across the UK over the last couple of months.

Young farmer and student Alison Waugh, 20, has seen enough…

I, like many of my contemporaries, am proud to be part of British agriculture. Farming is the oldest way of life, and the only way we know.

Practically born wearing wellies, I grew up jumping in puddles and feeding pet lambs. My teens were spent perusing science, eyeing up the strapping great young farmers at the shows, and gaining a voracious appetite for all things agriculture. . . 

Dairy farmers clean up act in response to public pressure – Pat Deavoll:

Public pressure is working and Canterbury’s dairy farmers are knuckling down and making an effort to improve the state of the waterways, says a dairy leader.

There has been a “significant shift” in the attitude of dairy farmers towards water quality over the past couple of years, said Mid Canterbury farmer Tom Mason, a member of the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Network.

“The lead up to the last election reminded anyone who was a bit reluctant in shifting their practices that they didn’t have much choice – that’s public pressure,” he said. . . .

Farming needs to cultivate a positive image – Peter Burke:

Telling the real dairy story is crucial in being able to attract the next generation of farm staff, scientists and rural professionals, says DairyNZ consulting officer Anna Arrends.

Arrends gave Wellington secondary school teachers, attending the agri-teachers’ day out, insights into the range of career opportunities in dairy science and business.

The teachers also learnt about future farm systems and the range of skills that will be needed as the dairy sector maintains and increases productivity and profitability, while meeting animal welfare and environmental expectations. . .

Botulism poisonings spark warnings over homekill sold on social media

The increasing amount of hunted and homekill meat being offered for sale illegally over social media is causing concern in Ruapehu.

Phoebe Harrison, environmental health officer for Ruapehu District Council, referred to a recent case of a Waikato family falling gravely ill after eating wild boar.

She said the meat was suspected to be contaminated with the potentially fatal botulism toxin.

“This highlights the dangers in eating meat that had not been prepared properly. . . 

When poor listening, financially phobic and wheel-loving farmers go bad – Pita Alexander:

A few weeks ago I referred to the characteristics of top New Zealand farmers, and the response to that has been both encouraging and strong.

To get some balance here, I need to refer to characteristics that people exhibit who do not survive well in business.

Towards that end, here are some less than desirable traits. All going well, you should tick very few of them. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 12, 2017

Family focussed on top quality – Sally Rae:

Think of the Armidale farming operation in the Maniototo and the word “quality”  springs to mind.

It is a family operation in every sense of the word and the Paterson family is justifiably proud of what they have achieved. Young Hugo (5) and Bede (3) Paterson — already keen  farmers — are  the sixth generation on the Gimmerburn property.

Last week, the Paterson family hosted a field day, as winners of the New Zealand ewe hogget competition, an accolade adding to their  considerable list of accomplishments.Armidale is farmed by Allan and Eris Paterson in partnership with their son Simon and his wife Sarah.

The family has had a presence at Armidale since the early 1880s, when a small block of land was first drawn. . . 

From Mediterranean to Maniototo farm – Sally Rae:

For the 26 years that Janine Smith lived in Greece, she always knew she would one day return home to the Maniototo — she just did not know how or when it would happen.

Managing a sailing company was a serious job that came with a lot of responsibility and, for her to leave it, it had to be ‘‘a monstrous change’’.‘‘It had to be a big contrast for me to leave Greece behind and embrace New Zealand. It had to be a steep learning curve and something I could really get hold of. So far, so good,’’ she said.

Last December, she and  partner Simon Norwick made that monumental change and traded life in the Mediterranean for farming in the Maniototo.‘‘I grew up on a farm and I’m starting from the beginning,’’ the 50-year-old said. Ms Smith, who has taken over her father Ian’s Romney and Dorset Down sheep studs, had considerable success at last month’s Canterbury A&P Show in Christchurch, winning supreme champion Romney and champion strong-woolled sheep with a Romney ram hogget. . . 

Old wool knocks prices back – Alan Williams:

Prices disappointed again at the Napier and Christchurch wool sales last Thursday.

There was strong interest in 27 to 29 micron fine lambs’ wool at Napier and other new-season lambs’ wool was also in good demand but otherwise the market was back on the previous sale, PGG Wrightson North Island auctioneer Steve Fussell said.

There were 17,000 bales split between the two venues, with 11,000 in Napier, of which 14% were passed in, not meeting the vendor reserve. The smaller Christchurch offering had a 25% pass-in rate but some second shear crossbred wools were sold higher.

The volumes included more wool from last season coming out of storage as growers decided to try to cash in on it but the clearance rate was not as good as other recent sales. . . 

Spring sheep NZ bringing sheep milk to the masses:

Spring Sheep New Zealand, a joint venture between Landcorp & a boutique food marketing company, aims to produce & market the very best sheep milk in the world.

Spring Sheep New Zealand chief operating officer Nick Hammond joins Rural Exchange about the journey of the company from its inception.

“We are fantastic at dairy. We are fantastic at sheep,” he says. “But we have no sheep milking industry.”

That’s exactly what Spring Sheep NZ aims to address, with co-funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries. . . 

Vegans are the new vegetarians – Amy Williams:

Veganism is no longer just the domain of animal rights activists and hippies but everyday people concerned about their health, animal welfare and the environment.

There’s no doubt plant-based eating is becoming more mainstream – just look at Instagram and the big money being injected into lab-made meat.

Let’s be clear, I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian but a term exists for people jlike me. We’re reducetarians.

We aspire to eat less meat and for me it’s mainly for health and environmental reasons.

I like to eat good quality meat, knowing its provenance. . . 

 

Image may contain: cloud, sky, text, outdoor and nature

“I plant GM crops so I can spray more pesticide, destroy the environment and poison my friends, family and neighbours” said no farmer ever, in the history of farming.

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. . . 


Rural round-up

October 25, 2017

Nitrogen-busting genetics could prevent millions of kilograms of nitrates landing on dairy farms – Pat Deavoll:

Nitrate reducing forage plants and bacteria, denitrification walls and now nitrate-busting bulls are being developed to lower farming’s impact on the environment.

Thanks to an international breakthrough by dairy herd improvement company CRV Ambreed, bulls have been identified that pass lower nitrate levels through their urine onto soils.

The company has selected bulls genetically superior for a trait related to the concentration of urea nitrogen in milk. . .

Sone up, some down, some firm – Nigel Malthus:

Lamb, sheep and deer prices are likely to remain firm, but cow and bull prices could soften, according to the Alliance Group’s projections for the new season.

Heather Stacy, Alliance’s general manager livestock and shareholder services, told a recent meeting of shareholder farmers at Little River, Banks Peninsula, that prime beef prices should remain similar to last year at $5.00 – $5.40/kg early season and $4.80 – $5.20/kg post-Christmas. . . 

Kiwifruit’s bright outlook – Peter Burke:

There’s gold for New Zealand growers in Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.
Overseas demand is high for the new Psa-free variety and prices continue to rise.

As a result, Zespri chairman Peter McBride is forecasting a net profit after tax of $96 million to $101m for the year ended March 31, 2018. Profit last year was $73.7m. . .

Science to rule on farming’s role in ETS:

Farmers are relieved that science – rather than politics – will decide whether agriculture should be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Under the coalition agreement unveiled yesterday, a new Climate Commission will make the decision.

Other details made public yesterday include scrapping the controversial water tax, but introducing a royalty on bottled water exports, along with higher water quality standards for everyone.

Labour went into the election promising to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. . . 

Dairy fund takes stake in Lewis Road to support NZ, international expansion – Sophie Boot:

Dairy farming investment fund Southern Pastures has taken an undisclosed but significant stake in Lewis Road Creamery, with executive chairman Prem Maan set to join the Lewis Road board.

The investment “will enable further expansion of Lewis Road’s popular product portfolio in New Zealand, and support the company’s push towards exporting to lucrative overseas markets”, Lewis Road said in a statement. Founder and chief executive Peter Cullinane will remain the company’s largest shareholder. . . 

Increase in illegal seafood sales on Facebook prompts warning:

A significant increase in the number of illegal seafood sales via Facebook has prompted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to warn those offending that they will face penalties for violating the Fisheries Act.

Since the beginning of the year, MPI has received more than 160 calls and emails reporting Facebook posts by people selling recreationally caught seafood including crayfish, kina and pāua.That’s up on the previous year where 96 complaints were received and the year before that when 57 complaints were registered. . . 

The many paradoxes of life on and off farm – Joyce Wylie:

Paradoxes are part of our lives, and they are not skydiving medical teams. Paradox is defined as “a person or thing exhibiting apparently contradictory characteristics” which can make them both humorously absurd and irritating nonsense.

For example 3.57 million New Zealanders enrolled for our recent election. So, 79.8 per cent of us used our democratic privilege meaning 2.63 million votes were cast and counted. But amazingly after this major public participation the final result came down to a small number of candidates who didn’t win a single electorate seat between them. They made a choice behind closed doors about who holds power in the 52nd parliament of our country.

10 things only a farmer’s child would know – Hayley Parrott:

We recently had a chuckle at an article about 10 things anyone marrying a farmer can expect to encounter and it got us thinking. Lots of us in the Farmers Weekly office grew up on farms and here are a few memories we think those of you born and bred on a farm might empathise with.

1. Summer holidays. Or so-called “holidays”. For those six weeks you await with such anticipation, you will spend most of it helping to feed the chickens, walk the dogs and painting fences. You’ll be granted a well-earned break on the day of the county show. . .


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