Rural round-up

05/04/2021

CCC submissions flood in – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets remain a contentious issue for the livestock sector, which is critical of Climate Change Commission recommendations for an even steeper reduction pathway than proposed in the Zero Carbon Act.

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are labelling the proposed new targets as unrealistic and not backed by robust science, economic or farm system analysis.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the revised target is a 13.2% reduction in biogenic methane emissions below 2017 levels by 2030.

“This represents a 32% increase in the level of ambition compared to the 2030 biogenic methane target contained in the Zero Carbon Act, which is to reduce methane emissions to 10% below 2017 levels by 2030,” McIvor said. . . 

Smith to push for more automation in the hort sector – Peter Burke:

More automation in orchards – that’s what Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says he’s going to push hard for in the coming 12 months.

He told Rural News that there is real growth in horticulture and the opportunity for more, but New Zealand as not solved the labour supply problem.

“Too much of the horticultural industry has been built off the back of immigrant labour and the risk of that is what we see now,” Smith says.

“If anything goes wrong with that supply chain of workers then you have massive problems. That is why there is a need for the investment in automation and we want to see this directed to what can be done in orchards.”

Milking shed ravaged by fire, community spirit gets farmers back up and running – Joanne Holden:

A South Canterbury farmer whose milking shed, built by his father, was ravaged by fire has got his dairy operation back on track, with a little help from his friends.

The 30-year-old Waitohi milking shed was “fully ablaze” when Hamish Pearse, and five of his staff, grabbed a fire hose each and attacked the flames, keeping them at bay until the fire brigade arrived with five appliances about 20 minutes later.

“The staff were pretty shaken up by the whole thing,” Pearse, of Waitohi, said.

“My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself . . . He came back to see his pride and joy burnt down.” . . 

Synlait ponders lack of profit – Hugh Stringleman:

Synlait may not make a profit this financial year because of sharply reduced orders from a2 Milk Company for packaged infant formula, rising dairy commodity prices and global shipping delays.

At the start of the season Synlait directors expected net profit in FY21 to be similar to last year’s $75 million, then in December they said net profit would be approximately half that of FY20.

They have now said the anticipated result for FY21 will be “broadly breakeven”, which includes the possibility of no profit overall and a small loss in the second half, which is already two months old.

When releasing its first-half results, Synlait said the December downgrade from major customer and minority shareholder a2MC was significant and sudden. . . 

Wyeth’s move west welcomed – Peter Burke:

A few weeks ago, Richard Wyeth took over as chief executive of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products and says his first impressions of the company and its people are positive.

It was only a few months ago he was head of the highly successful Maori-owned dairy company Miraka – a company he helped set up from scratch.

However, Wyeth says he’s really enjoying the new job at Westland and what’s really impressed him is the people in the business.

“There is a really strong desire to see the business do well and people are working really hard to do this,” he told Rural News. . . 

Scientists are testing vaccines for flystrike – Chris McLennan:

Scientists believe they are closing in on a commercial vaccine for flystrike.

Prototype vaccines have already been developed half way through a four-year $2.5 million research project between the wool industry and CSIRO.

A potential vaccine against flystrike has been the subject of decades of research work.

Blowfly infestation of sheep wool, skin and tissue results in an estimated $280 million losses to the wool industry. . . 


Rural round-up

24/03/2021

Govt ‘naivety’ cause of crisis – Peter Burke:

Johnny Appleseed is one of the largest apple growers in New Zealand; director Paul Paynter says the current worker shortage crisis in the sector can be sheeted home to Government naivety.

He says when Covid-19 first hit the country – with many people losing their jobs and overseas workers stopped from coming to NZ – the Government was quick to claim it would provide an opportunity for Kiwis to take up jobs in the ag and hort sectors. However, he says while there has been some uptake, the reality has fallen well short of the enthusiastic expectations.

“It was just naïve optimism on the part of Government,” Paynter told Rural News.

He says people are not coming to the Hawkes Bay to pick apples for a number of reasons, the major one being the lack of accommodation. Paynter says there is a housing crisis in the region.

Drinking (milk) to economic recovery – The Detail:

When the price of milk surged 15 percent on the global dairy market earlier this month, even the boss of Fonterra was shocked.

“It was extraordinary,” says Jarden’s head of dairy derivatives, Mike McIntyre. “I’ve been following these auctions now for the better part of 10 years and I’ve seen it previously, but only in the past where we’ve been constrained.”

That was 2013 when the whole country was in drought and very little milk was being produced.

This time, says McIntyre, it is being driven by China’s thirst for milk.

“Last year, the Chinese government came out and essentially issued a directive to the public to say, to ward off the ill effects of Covid they should be consuming more than a glass of milk a day.” . . 

Covid-19 vaccine: Concerns over future uptake in rural areas – Riley Kennedy;

The government is being encouraged to think outside the box when rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine into rural communities.

Earlier this month, the government announced its plan to deliver the vaccine to the wider public.

From May, priority populations will be able to get the vaccine and from July, the remainder of the population will be able to get it.

There have been concerns from some health professionals that the uptake among people living in rural New Zealand could be slow – given some have to travel a long way to see their GP and therefore don’t always bother. . . 

Investing in consumers’ trust – Neal Wallace:

Meat companies are using the Taste Pure Nature brand alongside their own brands as they target environmentally-conscious foodie consumers.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) market development manager Nick Beeby told the organisation’s annual meeting that this demographic cares where their food comes from and are heavily influenced by digital channels such as food websites and bloggers who focus on natural foods.

They are considered a significant opportunity for NZ red meat sales, and Beeby says during the covid-19 pandemic consumers were increasingly discerning with their purchases, which was underpinned by the message associated with the B+LNZ developed taste pure nature brand.

“Consumers chose meat products that are better tasting, nutritious and satisfy environmental concerns,” Beeby said. . . 

A platform for red meat’s story – Neal Wallace:

A new website selling the virtues of red meat and dispelling some of its myths is being launched.

An initiative of Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), the Making Meat Better website will tell the sector’s story, and provide information and data, while reinforcing the merits of red meat.

The 150 people who attended the B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill this week were told the site will provide data and statistics about the red meat sector, sell the virtues of being grass-raised, its nutritional attributes, while also extolling the environmental stewardship of farmers.

Data on the site will provide a balance to some of the criticism about red meat and farming by providing information on farming’s carbon footprint, action being taken on climate change and provide infographic resources that can be used.  . . 

 

Showgirls, rural achievers shine the way for ag :

The bush has a wealth of young talent who are turning their fantastic ideas and aspirations into reality.

You only have to look at the pages in last week’s Land to find young people who are ready to act or are acting on their projects.

And they are motivated – either by issues that some members of older generations might not want to confront such as climate change – or value adding to the great contributions of previous generations.

They are doing this despite the enforced isolation of the last year from the pandemic. . . 


Rural round-up

13/03/2021

More scientific proof needed – David Anderson:

A new report has joined the chorus within the agricultural sector calling for proper scientific testing of the claims being made by regenerative agriculture practitioners and proponents.

Some of the claims made by regenerative agriculture advocates currently include that it can improve waterways, reduce topsoil losses, offer drought resilience, add value to primary exports and improve the ‘well-being crisis’ among rural farming communities.

However, a new white paper on regenerative agriculture, recently released by Our Land and Water, says there is an urgent need for clarity about what regenerative agriculture is in New Zealand and for accurate scientific testing of its claimed benefits.

The research was funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, the NEXT Foundation and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. . . 

Pork industry demands law change for imported products to be labelled– Riley Kennedy:

The pork industry has slammed the government for refusing to make labelling country of origin mandatory on all imported pork.

Laws designed to give people clarity on where their food comes from were passed in 2018. However, last year the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said there would be a 12-month delay in the new rules coming into effect due to Covid-19.

As part of this, imported pork will need to be labelled with its country of origin, however, the pork industry says a loophole has been left unadvised.

This means pork that is imported and then further processed in New Zealand, including bacon and ham, will not be required to have such labelling. . . 

MPI lost touch – Peter Burke:

MPI boss Ray Smith says with the advent of the climate change proposals and the new essential fresh water regulations, MPI is gearing itself up to help farmers deal with these matters by getting more staff out into the field.

He believes that climate change is the biggest challenge of this generation.

“When I first started it was obvious to me that MPI had lost its outreach and in a sense it had lost some key relationships,” Smith told Rural News. “So we have built an agricultural investment service that has started to put that back and we have more people now based regionally. They have tended to deal with adverse events and things like that, which is good. But I am keen to build that service even further so we can stand alongside farmers and be an independent voice.”

He says the aim is get back some of what was lost many years ago with the demise of the Farm Advisory officers. . .

Automation a mixed blessing for fruit sector – Richard Rennie:

Burgeoning crop volumes have prompted the horticultural sector to lift pay rates as it competes on a tight labour market. The shortage and the cost increases put automation and robotics under the spotlight to help ease labour pressures. Richard Rennie looks at whether robots will replace humans on orchards sooner than later.

Last week’s announcement the kiwifruit sector would be paying a living wage of $22.10 an hour for packhouse work has the sector hoping higher wages will help fill a yawning labour shortage this year.

Filling that gap has only grown more challenging with the exponential growth in kiwifruit volumes over the past five years. The 23,000 workers estimated to be needed by 2027 are needed this year, and the 190 million trays expected to be achieved by then is now likely next season.

Further south the apple sector is grappling with similar issues, requiring at least 10,000 pickers and packhouse staff this season, drawing off locals, a national shared pool of 7000 Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) staff and any remaining backpackers. . . 

Feijoa harvest in full tilt a month early in Gisborne – Hugo Cameron:

Feijoas are expected to hit the shelves this week as good growing conditions have seen harvesting of this season’s crop kick off a month earlier than usual.

Kaiaponi Farms has been growing feijoas in Gisborne for the past 20 years and sells the fruit through its Joa brand for both the local and export markets.

Spokesperson David Hansen said the first fruit would normally be picked at the start March but the harvest got under way last month and was now in full swing, with decent volumes coming through.

The farm had seen sunny conditions which was great for the crops, along with a decent dose of water, Hansen said. . . 

 

Now is the time to talk to consumers – Charlie Beaty:

There has never been a bigger gap between the people producing food and the people consuming it.

Most people knew a farmer or were even related to one 70 years ago. Today, there are children who have never seen a real sheep.

They have no idea that bread is made from a wheat crop that grows in the fields. It’s a threat to our industry, there’s no doubt.

But it’s also an opportunity to step in, share the “what”, the “why” and the “how” of our industry. So let’s seize it. . . 


Rural round-up

06/03/2021

Fonterra milk price forecasts give a fillip to farmers and the regions – the co-op has become an NZX favourite, too – Point of Order:

Fonterra has  confirmed  what  most analysts  had  been predicting and lifted its 2020/21 forecast farmgate milk price range to  $7.30 – $7.90 kg/MS, up from  $6.90 – $7.50. This should  send a  further surge of  confidence  across  NZ’s  rural regions, hopefully in  a  wave  strong enough to encourage  farmers  to plan to  increase production  next  season.

As  a  result  of  the  higher  payout, the co-op  will be  pumping $11.5bn  into the  rural economy, well ahead of the $10bn predicted  last year. Although  farmer-suppliers  to Fonterra  are paid off   the mid-point  $7.60  of the new range, most analysts  believe the final payout will reach $7.90.

That  should  ensure a  handsome  return  for most  suppliers,  whose  cost  of  production averages  around $5.80-$6 kg/MS—and for the  highly  efficient, at below $4, an even   better one. . . 

Lessons from M. Bovis outbreak – Peter Burke:

The chair of a new committee set up to review the handling of Mycoplasma bovis outbreak says it isn’t a witch-hunt.

Massey University academic Nicola Shadbolt says the review is about learning from the past and helping us to be stronger for the future. She says it’s about finding out what happened and seeing what might need to be put in place if there a biosecurity outbreak of this nature in the future.

Shadbolt, a professor of farm and agribusiness, served as a Fonterra director for nine years and is currently chair of Plant and Food Research. . .

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier at risk of losing key community members – locals – Tess Brunton:

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier communities have been told that the government can’t save every business that’s struggling during the pandemic.

A week ago the two communities sent Tourism Minister Stuart Nash a $35 million wishlist of what they need to survive.

Yesterday he visited Franz Josef with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor but didn’t make any promises.

Across Country Quad Bikes used to run four fully booked tours a day, closing for a few months over winter after a hectic summer. . .

Bees get a fighting chance – Neal Wallace:

University of Otago Researchers have made a discovery that may just give honeybees a fighting chance against the varroa mite. Neal Wallace reports.

Scientists have identified naturally occurring compounds which induces a cleaning response among some worker bees, killing juvenile varroa mites.

The University of Otago researchers are now looking at how to replicate the six relevant compounds they have discovered, and a way to deliver them to hives from which beekeepers can selectively breed bees that have this trait.

Emeritus Professor Alison Mercer of the university’s Department of Zoology says varroa mites reproduce in brood cells, but researchers have identified some worker bees can sense where the mites are using these compounds, then open those cells and pull out the contents, including the mite, killing it. . . 

Why aren’t farmers using more agritech on farm? – Phil Edmonds:

While internet connectivity may be viewed as a barrier to farmers adopting more agritech solutions, Phil Edmonds discovers there are many reasons for New Zealand’s low adoption rate, including technology not being developed with their needs in mind.

A fresh look is under way into understanding why agritech adoption in New Zealand has not escalated to the same extent that our primary sector exports have. A cursory glance at the unflattering data on uptake suggests farmers are content using tried and tested methods despite the increasing availability of ‘go faster’ solutions. However, ‘tried and tested’ will inevitably start to hold the industry back. The initial thinking on where to get the ball rolling faster is for agritech developers to focus on time-saving rather than insight solutions, and stop assuming farmers are inherent technophobes.

An analysis of the impact of agritech on the New Zealand economy published last year suggested that New Zealand is underperforming relative to its global peers. While food and fibre exports have grown substantially, the same can’t be said for agritech, which has netted a consistent (rather than accelerating) $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion over the past five years. . . 

Exclusion fence gives options for diversity at Bollon – Sally Gall:

A decision in the summer of 2017 to fully enclose their 36,420ha of country in the Bollon district has rewarded Scott and Alison Todd many times over.

The couple came to Brigalow Downs 90km south of Bollon in 2014, walking into one of the biggest droughts on record.

At that stage they were an all-cattle operation with rangeland goats running freely on the property, and with a good reserve of mulga and cattle selling very cheaply in the Barcaldine and Blackall districts, they began building cattle numbers.

As the drought went on, their mulga didn’t regenerate as well as expected, and with cattle agistment bills mounting, they decided to diversify. . .


Rural round-up

05/03/2021

Dairy price lift will give fillip to regional economies and fortify Fonterra’s confidence in pressing on with capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Our  dairy provinces  are  reverberating to  the  news that prices  soared  at the  latest Fonterra GDT auction. The prosperity  this  brings  to the regions  will  provide a  significant counterbalance  to the loss  of earning power  in the tourism sector because of the pandemic.

The average price at the auction climbed 15% to $US4,231 a tonne but,  more  importantly, the price for wholemilk  powder, which is  the  key to the payout  to farmers,rose an astonishing 21% to $US4,364 a tonne. Butter  was  up  sharply to $US5,826 a tonne, or 13.7%.

Overall, the increase compares with a 3% rise at the previous auction two weeks ago. . . 

Reducing cow numbers no silver bullet for emissions – Sudesh Kissun:

Reducing cow numbers isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, says Northland farmer and entrepreneur Tom Pow.

With the Government facing calls to slash cow numbers as part of its climate change action plan, Pow, the founder of HerdHomes, says a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cow numbers would be naïve.

He suggests looking at other options including reducing the number of hours cows spend in paddocks. “Balanced feed can lead to less greenhouse gasses (GHG) or effectively a smaller herd mis-managed could produce even more GHG,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Exciting board role for up and coming farmer – Peter Burke:

A 50/50 sharemilker at an award-winning Maori farming enterprise has been selected as one of two associate directors at DairyNZ for the coming year.

Carlos Delos Santo works for the Onuku Maori Lands Trust which runs a number of dairy farms near Rotorua as well as a sheep milking operation and other businesses. The other new associate director is Cameron Henderson who farms in Canterbury with his partner Sarah.

Delos Santo says he’s really excited to be selected for this role, as it allows him the chance to gain knowledge on what occurs at DairyNZ board meetings and contribute to important sector discussions. . .

Following his calling, not many downsides to farming – Toni Williams:

Mike Carr has had a calling to be a farmer since he was 8 years old; old enough to drive a tractor and help out on farm.

By the age of 25 he’d travelled overseas and had a mechanic’s qualification under his belt before returning to the family farm to work alongside his parents, Ian and Sue.

Then he took over.

He loves farming — and being outdoors.

“You’re your own boss. It’s great — you don’t answer to anyone else,” he said. . .

Shed consent application process could be improved – Shawn McAvinue:

A frustrated West Taieri farmer is calling for the Otago Regional Council to do better so he can achieve his dream of building a shed to keep his cattle warm and dry.

The council says it will seek ways to improve its service.

Fred Doherty, of Outram, said he had expected the process to get the consents required to build a wintering shed in the middle of his 90ha sheep and beef farm to be “simple and basic” but it had been “frustrating” and made considerably more expensive by red tape.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to put my stock inside for winter and to know that whatever nature throws at them, they are safe, warm and dry and your farm is getting looked after.” . . 

Could the next Emirates Team New Zealand boat be made entirely of hemp?:

With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’ time, innovators from a very different sphere have been wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp (iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects. Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static, antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant, breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete and continues to sequester carbon throughout its life. .  .


Rural round-up

25/02/2021

The rewards of good data – Peter Burke:

New Zealand’s primary sector is our equivalent of the USA’s Silicon Valley of excellence.

That’s the view of one of the country’s illustrious agricultural economists, Rob Davison, who recently received an award for his outstanding contribution to the primary sector.

The award goes alongside the ONZM he received in 2016 for his services to NZ’s sheep and beef sector.

This latest award is well deserved for a person who has helped build and shape one of the most respected economic institutions in the country. Davison has been with Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service for more than 40 years, much of that time as its executive director. . . 

Rural trust there for anyone having ‘tough time’ – Shawn McAvinue:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Mike Lord, of Outram, said if anyone in Otago’s rural community needed help — or knew of anyone who needed help — they could call the trust.

People called for a “range of reasons” such as financial stress, the impact of adverse weather such as flooding, snow, or drought or any other type of “tough time”.

“I have no doubt we make a difference.”

After Covid hit, a “desperate” farmer called because he had stock and a lack of feed due to meat works taking fewer animals as it dealt with new protocols. . . 

Recommendations ‘ambitious and challenging’ – Peter Burke:

Initial reaction to the Climate Change Commission report has been generally muted, but there are some concerns in the agricultural sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claims the commission’s draft advice, released earlier this month, sets out an ‘achievable blueprint’ for New Zealand. She says the report demonstrates NZ has the tools to achieve our target but calls on us to accelerate our work.

“As a government we are committed to picking up the pace and focusing much more on decarbonisation and reducing emissions rather than overly relying on forestry,” Ardern says. . .  . . 

North Otago chicken farm sharpens its focus – Shawn McAvinue:

Anna Craig knew it was the right time to get cracking and launch a new brand to market the free-range eggs produced on her family’s farm in North Otago.

The Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing student said she was “torn” about how to spend her summer break.

She could spend it working on her family’s 450ha farm in Herbert, about 20km south of Oamaru, or seek work elsewhere, which might look better on her CV.

She returned to the farm and set herself a goal of launching a new brand to sell some of the eggs laid by about 30,000 free range shaver chickens there. . . 

Strengthen your farming system by leveraging your #1 asset – people:

“Over the years of working with people in many different sized teams, we discovered that it mattered how we were behaving and acting with our team,” says Rebecca Miller of MilkIQ.

Dairy Women’s Network knows that putting people first drives a healthy business and will be running a series of workshops focused on this. They want to ensure that farmers attract and retain talent, and continue to grow the people in the industry.

The free workshops are funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through the DairyNZ levy and align with Commitment #5 of the Dairy Tomorrow Strategy: Building great workplaces for New Zealand’s most talented workforce.

It does not always require big changes to build a great workplace, but small changes that make a difference. The workshops will provide an overview of how to be a good employee or employer and the steps each can take. . . 

 

Handheld breath test device for pregnant cattle to move to industry trials – Joshua Becker:

A device that could change the way farmers preg test cattle is a step closer to commercialisation.

The federal government has offered $600,000 to help a company adapt advances in medicine for use in the grazing industry.

The prototype works by simply putting a device over the cow’s nose while it is in the crush and testing its breath.

Bronwyn Darlington, a farmer at Carwoola in southern NSW and the founder and CEO of Agscent, said the device worked by applying nanotechnologies to what was called breathomics. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/02/2021

EU carbon tax: threat or opportunity? – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand farmers have been quick to claim world champion status for carbon efficiency. So why are they so nervous about a planned European tax on the carbon emissions of imports? Nigel Stirling reports.

It has been described by the European Union’s top bureaucrat as the continent’s “man on the moon moment”.

An ambitious plan to decarbonise the European economy known as the “Green Deal”.

“The goal is to reconcile our economy with our planet,” European Commission president Ursula van der Leyen boldly declared when first revealing the plan in December 2019. . . 

M. Boris review gets underway – Annette Scott:

An independent review of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme is aimed at identifying lessons that can be learned from New Zealand’s largest biosecurity response.

Driven by the programme partners, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), the review is deemed best practice given the scale of the eradication programme.

It will also fulfil a commitment made to farmers at the start of the programme, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says.

“Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is hard work, but with the whole sector working together we have made really good progress,” Van der Poel said. . . .

A winning formula for good cows :

A Waikato dairy farming couple have proven they’re at the top their game, taking out two prestigious titles at New Zealand’s largest cattle showing event.

Tom and Francesca Bennett, Te Hau Holsteins, had both the best Holstein Friesian cow at New Zealand Dairy Event and Tom also took out the World Wide Sires, All Breeds Junior Judging Competition. The family was also named Premier Holstein Friesian Exhibitor.

“It was awesome, I did the Pitcairns Trophy judging competition at the Waikato Show and came second, but Dairy Event was my first really big judging competition to win,” says Tom. . . .

Dairy conversion Otaki style – Peter Burke:

From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. Near the Horowhenua town of Otaki, dairy conversion has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not a case of converting sheep and beef farms to dairy farms, rather it’s a case of just converting old dairy sheds to country style tourist accommodation. Reporter Peter Burke visited two such conversions by two pretty special and creative women.

The two conversions are complementary – one offers an experience on a commercial dairy farm while the other has a focus on horses.

Stacy Faith and her husband Andrew milk 360 cows once a day to supply Fonterra. They separately milk 20 more to supply A2 milk for the vending machine they have installed at their farm gate. It’s a farm that has long been in the Faith family. . . 

From working at the dairy farm to owning it – Ruby Heyward:

Raspberry Cottage owner Sarala Tamang is farming with a twist, but not without some help.

Originally from Nepal, Mrs Tamang moved to Waimate in 2010. She bought the Raspberry Cottage business and the attached farm from couple Barry and Margaret Little in 2019.

For the six years prior, Mrs Tamang had worked for Mr and Mrs Little, caring for the berries as though they were hers – and now they are.

Using her experience, and with the help of the previous owners’ continued guidance, Mrs Tamang wanted to grow what the supermarket did not offer. . . 

 

Mental health: young farmer recalls decision to quit farming >

A 23-year-old who had dreamed of being a farmer since he was a child had to quit the industry after his mental health started to slip.

Dan Goodwin from Suffolk has shared his story during the annual Mind Your Head, a week-long campaign raising awareness of farmers’ mental health issues and the support available to them.

When Dan turned 18, he moved from Bury St Edmunds and attended a land-based college in Norfolk.

Throughout his studies, he enjoyed learning and the structure that his apprenticeship with a small family-run farm gave him. . .

 


Rural round-up

09/02/2021

Environmental reforms putting more pressure on struggling farmers – Nadine Porter:

More mental health resources and shorter waiting times to access help will be needed to support dairy farmers trying to follow proposed new environmental rules, industry advocates say.

Rural Support Trust Mid-Canterbury wellbeing co-ordinator Frances Beeston said there had been at least a 30 per cent rise in farmers seeking support since Christmas, and she believed that would increase further as more environmental reforms were introduced.

The Climate Change Commission released a draft plan last week designed to help the Government meet its promise of reaching net zero emissions of long-lived gases by 2050, and reducing biogenic methane emissions by 24 to 47 per cent by 2050.

The plan noted current policies would lead to an 8 to 10 per cent reduction in New Zealand’s livestock numbers, but said a 15 per cent drop would be needed to meet the Government’s targets. . . 

More trees less stock – Peter Burke:

More science and technology, more trees and fewer livestock is the prescription that the Climate Change Commission has offered up in its draft report on how to reduce greenhouse gases in the agriculture sector.

The report covers all aspects of New Zealand society and includes agriculture. In the 200 page chronicle, the Climate Commission sets out a plan for NZ to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050.

It is a draft report, based on the commission’s own research and submissions from a wide range of organisations and individuals. It is now out for consultation before a final report is prepared by the end of May.

Commission chair Rod Carr says to achieve the Government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050, there needs to be transformational and lasting change across society and the economy. He says the Government must act now and pick up the pace. . .

Will wool go the way of whalers? -Pete Fitz-Herbert:

“Being the best whale hunters in the world didn’t protect the whaling fleets.”

That comment from Climate Commission chair Rod Carr about New Zealand’s low-emission beef and dairy production, has Manawatu farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert thinking about the future of the wool industry:

In the future – will farmers be seen as whalers are now?

How long, before the last whale was harpooned off the coast, was the writing on the wall that it wasn’t the career choice that it once was? . . 

Why you should eat your heart out for ‘Organuary’ – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Encouraging people to eat more animal organs for Organuary may seem like a light-hearted response to the vegan movement, but research shows it could reduce greenhouse gases, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Eating the heart of your enemy might seem a bit extreme these days but in the past it was an acceptable part of a surprising number of cultures – surprising until one considers food scarcity, that is.

Eating whatever was available was a matter of expediency and the lore that arose around what each part of the body signified shows an early awareness of basic function.

Eating the brain and tongue gave knowledge and bravery; the heart gave courage and power. . . 

MBIE funds hemp research :

A Taranaki-based medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp venture is part of a group that will investigate ways to turn hemp seed hulls into products for the global market. Greenfern Industries is part of a partnership that was awarded $145,000 in cash and in-kind funding for research into products created from the by-products of hemp seed oil processing. Greenfern will work alongside industry partners Callaghan Innovation and Hemp Connect as part of the project funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA).

BPA invests in research and development projects with the aim of generating additional export revenue for New Zealand by working with the primary sector to get better value out of biological by-products.

Boarding school parents sick of borders closing ‘at the drop of a hat’ – Jamieson Murphy:

THE parents of interstate boarding school students are constantly worried that when they drop their children off at school, they may not be able to get home, with state borders slamming shut “at the drop of a hat”.

The Isolated Children’s Parents Association has called for a nationally consistent and long-term approach to border restrictions for boarding students.

ICPA president Alana Moller said while urban schools were closed for weeks during COVID outbreaks, many rural students were not able to return to their boarding school for months, even several terms due to border closures.

“Students from western NSW who board in Victoria weren’t able to go, because they weren’t sure if they could come back,” Ms Moller said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/01/2021

Dollar causes fall in lamb prices – Peter Burke:

A report by the ANZ bank paints a somewhat sombre picture for sheepmeat in the coming year and mirrors a similar prediction in MPI’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report (SOPI) published in December.

ANZ says, overall, global demand for lamb products is relatively subdued and as a result farmgate prices for lamb and beef are expected to soften further as the country heads into the peak processing months.

It says while international prices for NZ lamb and beef seem to have stabilised after a fall, the strong NZ dollar is taking the edge off farmgate prices. Lambs destined for slaughter in the North Island are fetching $6.50/kg CW and $6.40/kg CW in the South Island, but the report expects these to fall to around $6.00/kg CW by February. . . 

Playing to our strengths in drought: are we missing Lucerne, the low hanging fruit – Harry Mills & Peter Kerr:

Since the dawn of farming, the rain has signalled renewal and hope while drought has signalled disaster and despair.

When Lincoln University-based plant scientist Derrick Moot returned from studying in the UK in 1996, he was convinced climate change was already impacting New Zealand’s drylands. The east coast of New Zealand, the home of many sheep farms was getting noticeably drier. Drought was becoming more prevalent. The number of hot summer days exceeding 30C was increasing. When summer air temperatures reach 30C, the dry soil temperature rises to 50C. Ryegrass pastures shrivel up and die in 50C heat.

Derrick Moot’s advice to drought-stricken sheep farmers was simple and low cost. Replace your ryegrass with lucerne and graze it in spring. . . 

Viruses can support sustainable food production – Richard Rennie:

2020 proved to be the year where most of the world learnt more than ever anticipated about viruses. Plant & Food Research lead scientist Dr Robin MacDiarmid views this increase in understanding as a silver lining in the covid cloud. But her research is also finding another silver lining in viruses, learning where they can serve good for more sustainable food production. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

A single slice from any flora or fauna sample analysed in a lab may contain hundreds if not thousands of viruses and bacteria, but the number actually known, categorised and understood by scientists may well pale against the total there.

For Dr Robin MacDiarmid, identifying and categorising the viruses represents barely half the job at hand. In recent decades genomic sequencing has made that task simpler, quicker and more affordable for researchers. 

“But once you have discovered and categorised a virus, you are really only at the ‘so what?’ stage. The big questions come after that, in terms of what is its cell biology, and what is the ecosystem it functions in?” MacDiarmid said. . . 

The rise and rise of the merino shoe – Michael Andrew:

Varieties of merino wool footwear are emerging faster than Netflix series about British aristocracy. Michael Andrew takes a look at the rise of the shoe that almost everyone – including his 95-year-old grandma – is wearing.

Some might say it all started with Allbirds. After all, to the average consumer, it was the New Zealand-American company founded by former all white Tim Brown in 2014 that successfully popularised the versatile, comfortable and, lets face it, kind of goofy merino wool shoe that is now synonymous with corporate sustainability and Silicon Valley.

But when we cast our minds – and google searches – back to the early 2010s, we see that sustainable shoe initiatives were happening long before Allbirds came along and dominated the market. . . 

Game Animal Council working to improve new rules for flare arms users:

The Game Animal Council (GAC) is applying its expertise in the use of firearms for hunting to work alongside Police, other agencies and stakeholder groups to improve the compliance provisions for hunters and other firearms users.

The GAC has been a part of the Firearms Community Advisory Forum (FCAF) since 2018 and along with other hunting sector stakeholders successfully advocated for a number of practical changes to the Arms Legislation Act.

“While we continue to have concerns over the fairness and practicality of some aspects of the legislation we are working with Police and other groups seeking to develop practical rules and guidance going forward,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “A major part of this work is making sure Police fully understand the impact of the new rules from a user’s point of view and apply them fairly.”

Lockdown games teach children about farm safety :

Educational games centred on farm safety have been developed for children studying at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The materials, which seek to raise awareness of the key dangers on farms, include interactive videos and colouring sheets.

Children can use the videos to identify animal emotions and understand the dangers relating to livestock and the rules to follow when coming into contact with them.

They have been created by SAC Consulting and 360 Degree Imagery company Exhibit Scotland for the Farm Advisory Service (FAS). . . 


Rural round-up

15/01/2021

Winter grazing costs climb – Neal Wallace:

Winter grazing prices for dairy cows are rising in Southland and Otago as farmers make changes to meet new freshwater regulations.

Adapting to those new regulations does not appear to have caused a reduction in graziers for the coming winter, but an Invercargill farm consultant warns that may not be the case in future, as they will require resource consent and face more stringent conditions.

“In the medium to long-term there is going to be pressure on dairy winter grazing,” AgriBusiness Ltd farm management consultant Deane Carson said.

The regulations were announced in September and some of the winter grazing policies have already been reviewed by a government-appointed working group which made recommendations prior to Christmas. . . 

GHG pricing will see farmers exit – Fitch :

Fitch Group expects marginal livestock producers to exit the New Zealand market in the coming years as government greenhouse gas (GHG) emission pricing starts to bite behind the farm gate.

In its outlook for the NZ agriculture sector, Fitch Solutions says that while it expects the livestock and milk production sectors to adapt to planned GHG pricing from 2025, methane reduction targets will be a greater challenge to farms, with rising on-farm costs hitting less profitable farmers harder.

But some farms may benefit from selling carbon credits through emissions trading, as well as the ability to sell meat at a premium to environmentally-conscious consumers.

Fitch notes while NZ will be the first country to introduce compulsory emissions pricing for the agriculture sector, it expects most farms to adapt to emission regulations – outside of methane – without having to reduce livestock numbers. . . 

Drought hits season’s lamb numbers – Peter Burke:

Drought in the North Island had a significant impact on the number of lambs tailed in the first half of this season.

According to Beef+Lamb NZ’s latest economic report, the total number of lambs tailed in the North Island was down 4.8% meaning a decline of 546,000 head to 10.8 million. This is in contrast to the South Island where the total number of lambs increased by 189,000 head, an increase of 1.6%, for a total lamb crop of 12.1 million

Overall, the report says total number of lambs produced this season is 357,000 head less than spring 2019. However, despite the problems with the drought, the overall picture is far from gloomy. . . 

Dry weather warning for lifestyle block farmers – Dr Clive Dalton:

This is the month to start and take seriously the warnings of another dry summer.

The rain most parts had in November (always a critical month) and December will have been enough. The trouble is that January is still “holiday month” and you don’t want to become miserable to friends and family about a drought coming, and precautions against fires on the block.

But it is a good time to check up with neighbours as it’s surprising how few folk on small blocks know their neighbours, especially after new subdivisions and new massive houses suddenly appear over the fence. . . 

The power of good facilitation :

“Without a facilitator, we would just have done that farmer thing and sat round, shuffled our feet and waited for someone else to say something,” says Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group member Reece Cleland.

Cleland, who farms sheep and beef cattle at Springfield in Central Canterbury, is part of an RMPP Action Group focused on members better understanding their farm finances and lifting productivity.

The RMPP Action Network model supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses to work together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help them to make positive changes on-farm. . . 

Veganuary? You’d be better going back to basics…. – Hannah Jackson:

The message is let’s stop eating meat for a month and together we’ll save the planet.

What makes this ironic is that whoever came up with the concept has chosen the month when the UK has the most limited range of homegrown seasonal fruit and vegetables available to encourage everyone to swap diets!

So, to cater for this trend, we find ourselves flying ‘trendy vegan friendly’ foods like avocados and almond milk, thousands of miles just to fulfil the Veganuary-based demand.

Let’s take the avocado, as it is so popular within the vegan diet. . . 


Rural round-up

28/12/2020

Some Motueka fruit growers lose entire crop in hail storm – Jean Bell:

A Motueka fruit growers association says the millions of dollars worth of fruit that is ruined following a devastating hail storm that hit the Nelson region yesterday is a bitter pill to swallow.

Richard Clarkson, president of the Motueka Fruit Growers Association, said some growers, depending on where they are based, had lost their entire crop due to the storm.

He said the storm had wiped out so much fruit that the labour shortage crisis was somewhat averted.

“There’s orchards out there that are going to be in that 80 to 100 percent loss of crop, which is huge in terms of income,” Clarkson said. . .

Sustainability is top issue – Peter Burke:

NZ’s primary sector’s strong commitment to sustainability holds the key to the country obtaining a quality, comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union.

Negotiations on an FTA have been going on for the past three years and it’s hoped a deal can be agreed within the next couple of years at the latest.

Government and industry sources have told Rural News that the European parliament, which has to ratify any FTA, will place strong emphasis on NZ’s commitment to sustainability. The message being put out to the farming community by officials is that they need to get real about sustainability and that anything less than a full commitment could put an agreement at risk. . .

Synlait Milk almost halves profit forecast:

Specialty dairy producer Synlait Milk has almost halved its profit forecast after its key customer downgraded its earnings outlook because of lower sales.

Synlait is a major supplier of infant formula to A2 Milk, which on Friday said disruption in the daigou sales channel, involving purchases in Australia and New Zealand on behalf of consumers in China, had been more significant than expected.

A2 said it expected full-year revenue between $1.4-$1.55 billion, down from guidance of $1.8-$1.9b given at the annual meeting last month, sending its shares 21 percent lower.

Synlait said it now expected sales volumes of infant formula to fall by 35 percent as a result of A2 Milk’s lower sales. . . 

Agcarm appoints new animal health expert:

The industry association for crop protection and animal health manufacturers and distributors has appointed Jeff Howe as its technical manager.

Jeff Howe replaces Jan Quay, after a seventeen-year tenure, as Agcarm’s animal health expert. As well as taking the lead on animal health issues, Jeff provides technical support on the company’s crop protection and rural supplier portfolios.

“Getting better outcomes for farmers, animals, and consumers of food and fibre is a key driver for me. I am excited about the possibilities for new technologies to increase productivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimise residues, and help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. . . 

Central’s lost cloak – Anna Yeoman:

Central Otago wasn’t always a golden grassland, discovers Anna Yeoman.

I start up the track on a bright Central Otago morning, as a light breeze sets the grass heads bobbing among the thyme. A small bird trills and chirps nearby, while a harrier hawk turns lazy circles over the hillside. With the golden brown hills stretching out in gentle folds under a wide blue sky, it’s a classic Central Otago scene. Classic, but as I’m coming to learn, far from the true Central Otago.

Over the brow of Flat Top Hill, where the thyme-covered land drops steeply towards the turquoise water of the Clutha Mata-au River, I find what I came here to see. Standing out in the barren brown hills is a shock of luminous green, the glowing foliage of a single kowhai tree.

Dhana Pillai, eco-nursery manager for the Haehaeata Natural Heritage Trust, is familiar with trees like this one. “You see them in strange places, often on their own, sometimes just a very stunted little thing, struggling on,” she says. “And you know those trees were once part of a forest, and we’ve lost all the rest of that forest.” . . 

Consumers associate plant-based with clean label: There is a ‘disconnect’ between perception and reality – Katy Askew:

Demand for plant-based products is booming and many consumers identify the sector as being ‘natural’, ‘healthy’ and ‘artisan’, new research reveals. “There is an apparent disconnect between the consumer understanding of natural products and the reality of the synthetic ingredients that are used to make many plant-based products.”

Demand for plant based products is rising fast. In the UK for instance, sales data from Kantar covering the lockdown period show meat alternatives are up 25% and free-from milks are up 28% year on year. A survey from the Vegan Society found 21% of people report cutting meat consumption during the coronavirus lockdown.

Concerns over animal welfare and a perceived ‘health halo’ are two of the drivers behind the plant-based movement. But plant-based is colliding with another food sector mega-trend: clean label. . .  


Rural round-up

14/12/2020

Environmental Protection Authority releases annual report on aerial use of 1080 :

The latest annual report on aerial use of 1080 has been released, showing that while use of the pest control poison increased in 2019, new research into alternatives is continuing.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report, titled 1080 use in Aotearoa New Zealand 2019, showed there were 44 aerial operations covering 918,000 hectares of land.

Aerial operations rose due to a mega-mast event in 2019, where beech seed, tussock seed, or podocarp fruit flower at once in forests, dropping seed and driving rat populations up, which then threaten native species.

However, according to the report, the average application rate was just above three grams of 1080 per hectare, which equates to roughly one teaspoonful of 1080 on a rugby field. This is well below the maximum allowable rate of 30 grams per hectare, the report stated. . . 

Working on an orchard – how hard could it be? – Marty Sharpe:

So how hard is it really to pick fruit?

It’s a topical question, what with the horticultural sector crying out for workers in light of their regular labour force drying up.

Covid-19 has meant the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme has been slashed and backpackers are scarce.This has led the sector to implore Kiwis to have a crack at working in the fields.

In a quest to get an idea of just how hard this could be, I arranged to spend a sweltering Wednesday this past week on an orchard just outside Hastings. . . 

Time to cut the No 8 wire concept – Peter Burke:

Scottie Chapman says New Zealanders should stop extolling the virtues of the No 8 wire concept.

The head of Spring Sheep Dairy says the No 8 wire concept was a success story of our past when, because of travel times, NZ was a long way from everywhere and we had to find a way to improvise

However, Chapman believes the link to improvisation in the form of the No 8 wire concept – from the past to the way we operate today with modern technology and transport – is completely wrong.

“The No 8 concept was important 150 years ago because it helped get us where we are today,” he told Dairy News. . .

Passion for chasing sheep key trait – Matthew Mckew:

Walter Peak High Country Farm rural operations co-ordinator Peter Hamilton is in the business of showing the public what the working dog can do.

His demonstrations educate people on the rich agricultural heritage of the country and display how dogs help keep the economy moving.

Mr Hamilton got his first dog — Sprite — when he was just 12, and has worked with the short-haired English collie since then.

Sprite is no longer able to get over the fence and chase the sheep, but she still watched from the sidelines. . . 

 

Kudos for landmark fertility research :

Ground-breaking collaborative research into improving dairy fertility genetics has been recognised in the annual Kudos Awards.

The Improving Dairy Fertility Genetics research project has determined new ways to select inherently fertile cows and that genetic selection for cow fertility will improve herd reproduction.

The project is part of DairyNZ’s Pillars of a New Dairy System research, which has funding from DairyNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Additional support comes from AgResearch, LIC, CRV Ambreed and AbacusBio. . .

Fewer anti-drug laws lets cannabis research gather pace :

Cannabis research and genetic improvements are gathering pace thanks to new genomic technologies, combined with fewer restrictive laws governing cultivation, research and use of the plant, according to a La Trobe University study.

In their paper published in New Phytologist, researchers from the La Trobe Institute of Agriculture and Food, home for the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub), reviewed international studies of cannabis genomics and identified significant gaps in the research.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Mathew Lewsey said cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants believed to have unique medicinal properties, but for decades research into identifying those properties had been restricted by anti-drug laws.

“These rules have meant that while our understanding of the basic biology and properties of other crop species has advanced through the use of genomics for example, our knowledge of cannabis has lagged,” Lewsey, who is Deputy Director of the ARC MedAg Hub, said. . . 


Rural round-up

22/11/2020

Woodchips to help solve nitrogen problem – Peter Burke:

Preventing nitrogen getting into waterways is high on the priority list for many farmers and growers.

There is no silver bullet because farms are different and what works on one property won’t work on another.

Peter Burke recently went along to a field day where a solution using innovative drainage technology, which is based on good science and with minimal cost to the farmer, is being trialled.

The setting is Waitatapia Station near Bulls in the Manawatu.

Weka could be the key to solve NZ’s pest problems –

Could weka be a key to helping deal with NZ’s pest problem? A new study shows weka eat rodents, rabbits and even stoats, helping to suppress population numbers and protect other wildlife.

Lead author of the study and post-doctoral researcher for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Dr Jo Carpenter, told Midday Report: “We were interested in whether weka could be able to help New Zealand out in controlling these invasive mammalian pests”.

Those involved reviewed scientific studies to find out about what weka ate to see if they had eaten invasive mammals.

“What we found was yes, there are quite a few studies that have found weka eating rodents, rats and mice and also quite commonly rabbits but also even stoats as well, which is pretty phenomenal.” . . 

Alliance puts in good performance despite Covid-19 :

Meat co-op Alliance Group announced an underlying profit of $27.4 million for 2020. Adjusted for one-off events, the annual profit result was $7.5 million before tax.

The co-operative achieved a turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

New Zealand’s only 100% farmer-owned major red meat co-operative achieved a record turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

Murray Taggart, chair of Alliance Group, said it is a good performance for the company given the disruption and volatility in global markets due to Covid-19.

Biosecurity champions recognised at 2020 awards night:

The winners of the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, announced last night at a ceremony in Wellington, represent some of Aotearoa’s most outstanding efforts to protect our unique environment from pests and diseases.

The awards recognise organisations, volunteers, businesses, iwi, hapū, government, and tamariki around the country who are contributing to biosecurity – in our bush, our oceans and waterways, and in our backyards.

Taking out top honours with the supreme award was Miraka, a Taupō-based dairy company that has created an extensive course educating their suppliers about biosecurity risks in the dairy industry from cow to bottle. 

The winners include people at the forefront of a wide variety of exceptional and innovative biosecurity-related projects, from those who have been trapping possums to protect our native birds, to learning about marine pests.  . . .

Buyers keep up with bumper crops AIMI survey shows:

With total grain production for the 2019/20 season well up over one million tonnes, it’s great to see that willing growers are finding willing buyers, Federated Farmers Arable Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, says.

According to the just-released October Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) report, cereal grain production (wheat, barley and oats) for the season totaled an estimated 881,800 tonnes, and maize grain 181,800 tonnes, for a total of 1,063,600 tonnes.

Unsold stocks of grain, across all six crops are estimated to have reduced by 50 percent between 1 July and October 10.

Even when compared to the same time last year, unsold stocks across all six crops are pretty much unchanged, with an increase in the unsold stocks of milling and feed wheat (57,600 tonnes, up by 18,600 tonnes) offset by a decrease in unsold stocks of malting and feed barley (38,700 tonnes, down by 18,900 tonnes), Brian said. . . 

New methane maths could take the heat off cows – Georgie Smith:

Oxford University researchers are pushing for a new method of measuring greenhouse gas emissions and their warming impact.

Myles Allen, Ph.D., a professor of Geosystem Science and head of the Climate Dynamics Group at Oxford Martin, University of Oxford, has a beef with how the impact of methane emissions on global warming is wrongly calculated — and then misconstrued to blame livestock for climate change.

He and his Oxford Martin colleagues have proposed a new metric called GWP* (global warming potential – star), which focuses on the warming effects of the different gases, rather than their rate of emissions. The current mischaracterization of methane’s impact on warming, Allen told The Daily Churn, ignores the “white elephant” in the room — fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide emissions. This in turn could lead to misguided policies that inaccurately target animal agriculture.

“If we all turn vegetarian, but we don’t do anything about fossil fuel emissions, in five years we’ll be in exactly the same position we were before,” Allen says of rising global temperatures. But “we’re vegetarians.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/11/2020

Farmers care about animals says vet – Peter Burke:

A leading veterinarian says in his opinion farmers are doing a better job now than ever in regards to animal welfare.

Richard Hilson is the managing director of Vet Services Hawke’s Bay, which has a staff of 120 people including about three dozen vets. Hilson says he gets frustrated when he sees a lot of publicity given to people who treat animals badly. He says the reality is that these few individuals unfairly give farming a bad name.

In recent months there have been several high profile cases of animals being mistreated and people being prosecuted for failing to adequately feed cows to killing a lamb. 

Hilson says there is a greater awareness about animal welfare and often people who harm animals find that others who know them report them to the authorities. Hilson says these days, people realise that it’s not okay to mistreat animals. . .

Making wool great again :

A West Otago couple were so sick of seeing so much synthetic clothing around they decided to do something about it.

Murray and Julie Hellewell run sheep and beef on their hilly 610-hectare Waitahuna West property. The focus though is the sheep.

“The sheep are our money and the cattle are here just to look after the pastures and make it better for the sheep,” Murray says.

However, strong wool prices have been trending down for years. . . 

Gisborne couple tout their smooth ‘never dud’ avocados :

Cutting into avocados can be a lottery.

They hold so much promise. A twist of the halves can reveal uniform, creamy, olive-green flesh.

But sometimes they’re destined straight for the compost bin.

They can be stringy, have brown spots or be disappointingly watery.

However Gisborne growers, David and Judi Grey, who have been growing and testing avocados for 50 years, have developed new varieties they say are perfect, every time. . . 

New research project to provide insight into kiwifruit disease PSA:

A new research project that may help future-proof the kiwifruit industry has received a Fast Start Marsden grant.

The project, led by Dr Jay Jayaraman at Plant & Food Research and titled: How do new pathogen incursions evolve during host infection, will investigate the plant pathogen Psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae), to understand how it evolves during infection of the kiwifruit plant.

Psa caused severe damage in New Zealand’s kiwifruit crops after its discovery in 2010. While the industry recovered, thanks to a new cultivar with improved disease tolerance, exploring alternative ways to manage the disease in future is still essential, particularly given the possibility that Psa could adapt to the new cultivar. . . 

Hi-tech hand-luggage scanner gives biosecurity a huge boost at Auckland Airport :

A new hi-tech baggage scanner at Auckland Airport will provide another crucial layer of protection against invasive pests and diseases, says Biosecurity New Zealand.

The computer tomography (CT) scanner made its first detection earlier this month – two bananas in a small carry-on bag arriving with a New Zealand family from Dubai.

Biosecurity New Zealand has been trialling the technology with selected flights since late October. Arriving passengers have their hand baggage scanned before they collect checked-in items from the airport carousels.

“We’re deliberately targeting baggage that travellers carry off the plane. It’s where we’re most likely to find food that could host fruit fly and other pests,” says Brett Hickman, Border Technology Manager, Biosecurity New Zealand. . . 

Ben Tombs from Peregrine Wines announced NZ Young Winemaker of the Year 2020:

Congratulations to Ben Tombs from Central Otago for becoming the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year. Ben is Assistant Winemaker at Peregrine Wines in the Gibbston Valley and the first Young Winemaker from Central Otago to win the competition.

The other national finalists were Ben McNab from Matahiwi in Wairarapa and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough, who both took out sections of the competition, showing the very high calibre of contestants taking part. The judges were hugely impressed with their knowledge, passion and professionalism throughout the day.

The competition is tough and really stretches the finalists. Firstly, they had to prepare a presentation in advance about what the future wine consumer looks like and how New Zealand can maintain its competitive edge around the world. . . 

 


Rural round-up

09/11/2020

Coal burner ban could lead to rise in imported food – Horticulture New Zealand – Tracy Neal:

New Zealand may need to import more food if it bans coal boilers too soon, crop, meat and dairy producers say.

The industries regularly use coal fired heat to grow, clean, and manufacture food.

Dairy giant Fonterra stood apart from others in the food sector, saying it supported a ban on all new coal boilers. It also supported a transition period for phasing out existing boilers, especially those that produced low and medium heat, but acknowledged that it needed to align with availability of alternative energy sources.

It was in the same camp as environmental groups who favour a move away from using fossil fuels as a heat source. . . .

Slim pickings for apples – Sudesh Kissun:

Labour supply remains the top concern as the apple harvesting season approaches, says ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

She says the horticultural sector is extremely worried about finding sufficient labour to pick and pack the new season’s harvest.

“The ability to access critical workers through the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme remains very uncertain and there will be significantly fewer backpackers looking for work this summer,” she says.

“There is little doubt that more New Zealanders will be employed, but it is extremely unlikely there will be sufficient locals available to fulfil these physically demanding roles.” . . .

Vets in short supply – Peter Burke:

Julie South, whose company VetStaff specialises in recruiting veterinarians, says there is a shortage of vets in New Zealand and that this has been compounded by Covid-19.

South told Rural News that even before Covid there was a shortfall in the number of vets in NZ. However, she says the closing of the border to experienced overseas candidates has made things worse and prospective candidates can’t get visas.

According to South, most of the vets that she recruits come from Ireland, the UK and South Africa. But she says others have come from places such as South America, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and Europe.  . .

Hope rural sector’s value remains recognised :

The election result has delivered a historic and resounding result, for the first time under New Zealand’s MMP system a government has a mandate to rule outright without having to seek a coalition partner.

While the shift to Labour may have been somewhat expected in the more urban electorates, what was most surprising to many was the unprecedented wave of red votes that washed through largely rural seats.

These included long time National electorates of East Coast, Wairarapa and Rangitata, while in almost every electorate the party vote percentage flipped from National to Labour, typically by 20-25 percentage points.
For the rural sector, the confidence expressed in Labour to date will need to be maintained to prove the switch to red in the provinces has not just been a strategic move to shut out the Green party from a coalition government. . . 

Top ram breeder’s offer of a lifetime – Hugh Stringleman:

More than 70 years of sheep breeding comes to an end for Northland’s Gordon Levet when his best rams and ewes will be sold this summer. Hugh Stringleman reports.

SHEEP bred for worm resistance is the Holy Grail quest that has energised Gordon Levet for the past 35 years, which is about half of his working lifetime on Kikitangeo, the family farm near Wellsford first settled by his grandfather in 1874.

His objective has been to breed sheep with strong, quickly responsive immune systems, which will ensure survival and productivity, particularly in less challenging environments further south. . . 

Developing North Australia. What would China Do? – Carolyn Blacklock:

While Australia’s relationship with China has its ups and downs, this is just a symptom of geo-political realignment, and from this Australia needs to be pragmatic and take advantage of opportunities while not compromising our own interests.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call for a global investigation into the origins and outbreak of the coronavirus sparked heated exchanges.

This was the right call as the Australian economy reels from impacts of the pandemic, and there is an overwhelming necessity to be better prepared if and when a future viral health threat emerges.

The arrest and detention of Australian journalists, ruthless trade sanctions and tariffs targeting our beef, wine, seafood and barely exports, and dispute over Huawei’s participation in the 5G network, are all part of the bluster and tit-for-tat rhetoric. . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2020

Southland Federated Farmers ‘farmer morale at an all-time low’ – Logan Savory:

A Southland farming leader says the morale of farmers is at an all-time low as they navigate their way through “impractical” freshwater policy rules.

The new rules aim to improve freshwater quality within a generation, but they’ve proven controversial with farmers, many of whom will have to apply for resource consent to winter graze stock.

Speaking to a gathering of rural professionals in Invercargill on Monday, Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said there was a massive divide between the understanding of farming from officials in Wellington to the reality of farming.

She said Federated Farmers had a difficult dilemma where they wanted to publicly raise concerns attached to the freshwater policy rules, but were wary of what it was doing to farmers’ mental health. . .

New Feds man keen to build – Peter Burke:

New Feds board member, William Beetham wants the organisation recognised for its significant contributions to NZ farming and society as a whole.

The sixth-generation farmer runs a major farming business, Beetham Pastural.

He says Federated Farmers has a long and proud legacy and has been involved in setting up a number of organisations – such as the insurance company FMG and the Golden Shears competition.

“We need to remember that we are not just an advocacy organisation and we need to tell the complete story about the inspiring contribution our farmers have and are making. We need to talk about the positive legacy of NZ farming and NZ Feds,” Beetham told Rural News.  . . 

Candidates for Fonterra election announced:

There are six candidates standing for two places on the Fonterra Board in 2020.

Brent Goldsack, Cathy Quinn, Mike O’Connor and Nathan Guy were announced on 14 September as the Independently Assessed candidates.

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack is seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. As a re-standing Director Brent automatically goes through to the ballot.

Nathan Guy, Mike O’Connor and Cathy Quinn were recommended by the Independent Selection Panel after their assessment process. . .

Building up potential of bumble bees:

Plant and Food Research scientist Dr David Pattemore would love to see orchards buzzing with bumblebees.

He’s part of a team that has developed a way to successfully breed bumblebees and now he’d love to see commercial beekeepers pick up the technology and run with it.

Dr Pattemore says bumblebees complement honey bees. He says they work at different times of the day and can work in higher winds and in the rain.  

And he says it makes sense to diversify pollination options. . . 

Raising meat rabbits proves food for thought for aspiring author :

Dana Thompson and her family are living off the land in South Otago and helping others who want to do the same.

Their property is perched on a barren hilltop behind Taieri Mouth, about 40 minutes south of Dunedin.

The family moved there to be self-sufficient four years ago. When they bought the land it was attractively priced for a reason.

“It’s pretty steep, we’ve got a big gully that runs down it and it’s covered in gorse,” Dana says. . . 

Fence – Uptown Farm:

“There’s always fence to be fixed.”

People say this all the time about life on a farm.

I don’t know if I heard it before I married a farmer or not. But if I did, I didn’t get it. Much like a lot of the people who say it, I wouldn’t have understood just how true it is. I didn’t know it wasn’t an over exaggeration in the least. If I had understood that, I might have thought twice before I said , “I do.”

But true it is. Fence isn’t a one and done kind of thing. You put it up. You fix it. You adjust it. Weeds and trees grow into it. You tear it down and build it new. Just when you do that a crazy cow comes along and rips it all down. . . 


Rural round-up

24/09/2020

What’s going on in Southland? – Peter Burke:

It is hard to fathom exactly what’s going to happen in Southland in light of the impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations.

There is clearly great mistrust on the part of Federated Farmers of Environment Minister David Parker, with Feds provincial vice president Bernadette Hunt saying they can’t get through to him on the issue of winter grazing.

It is no secret that Labour has an equal mistrust of Feds, frequently referring to them as the National Party in gumboots.

Feds see some aspects of the new freshwater regulations as unworkable and in this they are right. Furthermore, they question why such a law was passed with basic errors of fact.

Time to put mental health preparedness into action – Elle Perriam:

Being aware of mental health issues is admirable but sometimes it’s not enough, the founder of Will to Live charity, Elle Perriam says.

“I sort of don’t like to say mental health awareness as much because I think there is a lot of awareness out there – but awareness really means nothing to us unless we put it in to action” Perriam told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Perriam was no stranger to mental health battles herself, founding Will to Live after she lost her partner to suicide in 2017.

She suggested checking in on farmer friends this week and instead of asking them how they’re going – ask them if they’re happy. . . 

Lincoln PhD student receives prestigious Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award :

A Lincoln University PhD student has received this year’s Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award for her work in protecting crops from drought.

Laura Keenan, 28, received the prestigious award at a ceremony at the Kate Sheppard Memorial Wall on Worcester St in Christchurch on Saturday.

Keenan completed an honours degree in Agricultural Science at Lincoln University graduating in 2014. She worked within the area firstly with Soil Matters in Canterbury and then Agricom in Palmerston North before starting her PhD study at Lincoln University in June 2020.

Her PhD is focused on creating a tool that will help with predicting yield and the quality of several plants and herbs included in pasture mixes across New Zealand with the goal of improving drought resilience and feed supply for farmers. . . 

New tech to cut rural energy costs – Annette Scott:

An innovative new player in rural electricity supply has commissioned its first investor-owned solar system on a North Canterbury dairy farm. Solagri Energy Ltd founders share their business journey with Annette Scott.

NEW Zealand dairy farms can now get solar electricity and large-scale battery storage on-farm with zero capital outlay.

Solagri Energy Ltd, a new and innovative player in rural electricity supply, has commissioned its first investor-owned solar array and large-scale lithium ion battery system on a North Canterbury dairy farm.

Co-founders Peter Saunders and Hamish Hutton just happen to be cousins with their business idea stemming around a family campfire. . . 

Challenge to keep pastures resilient – Richard Rennie:

Commercial plant breeders are united in efforts to help deliver New Zealand farmers better options when it comes to selecting for more resilient pastures in years to come.

Head of Barenbrug’s plant breeding team Courtney Inch says the challenge in NZ, being a relatively small market on a global scale, is having enough capital to invest in developing commercially viable pastures for our market.

This is complicated by NZ being a relatively complex pastoral system, with climatic conditions in Southland for example quite dissimilar to those in Waikato, often requiring different feed types for a relatively small pastoral zone.

“But it is to the industry’s credit we are seeing some really good collaborative work being done now in this area of developing more resilient pastures,” he said. . . 

Superfines leading the charge in wool price spikes – Bruce McLeish:

The wool market surprised many participants last week, with a much stronger performance than expected.

While there had been some business done the previous week, and a positive tone was anticipated, it just got better and better as the week progressed.

A total offering across Australia of just under 30,000 bales – which these days is considered ‘on the large side’ – was keenly sought after, particularly at the finer end.

The Kiwi’s added to the total – with 3000 bales offered in Melbourne – and South Africa put up 6500 bales, almost all of which were consumed by a suddenly hungry wool trade. . . 


Rural round-up

08/09/2020

Much of the plan is not common sense’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson estimates it will cost him about $1.6 million to comply with the new freshwater rules for fencing off waterways on his Central Otago hill country property.

He will also have to take about 47ha out of use to follow the 5m buffer rule.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 sets out new objectives and policies for farming including waterways, nutrient losses and winter grazing and the rules come into effect tomorrow.

He agrees with Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young that some of the rules are unworkable and supports Mr Young’s recent call for a boycott of the new rules. . . 

Revelations in the cow shed – Peter Burke:

Mental health and connectivity are two of the main issues affecting dairy farmers in this country according to a survey by DairyNZ.

The so called ‘cow shed’ survey shows that 62% of farmers say that they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the last year.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says he was “quite surprised” at how high this number was.

“I think the stresses that came out in the survey were drought, with two thirds of those surveyed saying they had been affected by drought in the last little while,” he told Dairy News.

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Doc’s revised 2020/21 tahr management plan is ideology hidden in a glossy brochure:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association believes the Department of Conservation’s revised tahr control operational plan released yesterday shows that culling the Himalayan tahr herd as now planned is based on ideology, political interference, a lack of quality data and science, and made to appease the extreme views of Forest & Bird who continue to maintain their threat of bad faith court action.

Deerstalkers Association Chief Executive Gwyn Thurlow says the decision defies good sense and logic and is another example of a string of poor decisions made by this Government.

Gwyn Thurlow says “After reviewing the latest iteration of the plan, we can see no substantive change to the Department’s approach from before the High Court win by the Tahr Foundation because the bottom line is the number of operational hours has not reduced. This means our tahr herd will be decimated, as feared. . . 

$4.7 million in funding for SVSS from MPI:

A project to boost vegetable growers’ efforts to care for the health of the environment while supplying fresh, healthy food, has received $4.7 million in government backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The funding adds to the $2.8 million already invested by industry into Sustainable Vegetable Systems, a four-year project, focused on improving crop nutrient management for the growing of potatoes, onions, brassicas, butternut squash, carrots, and leafy greens.
MPI is investing in the project from the Productive and Sustainable Land Usepackage, which promotes farming and growing practices that deliver more value and improved environmental outcomes. . . 

Campaign to boost British venison amid fall in demend :

An innovative working group has been created across England and Wales to reignite the venison market following a drop in demand due to Covid-19.

The group will focus on strengthening existing markets and opening new channels to counter competition provided by imports and slashed demand.

The Wild Venison Working Group is chaired by the Forestry Commission and has representation from stakeholders in woodland management, shooting, gamekeeping, and venison supply sectors.

In the absence of natural predators, the deer population in the United Kingdom is at its highest level for the last 1,000 years. . . 


Rural round-up

05/09/2020

Local farmers in competition final – Sally Brooker:

North Otago has produced two of the eight finalists in an Australasian sustainable agriculture competition.

Farmers Nick and Kate Webster and Brock and Gemma Hamilton have been shortlisted from a slew of entrants on both sides of the Tasman for the Zimmatic Sustainable Irrigation Awards.

The contest aims to celebrate irrigation excellence and encourage farmers to share water management ideas.

The Websters run Totara Fields and Hillbrook Dairies – mixed beef finishing/cropping and dairy operations on a total of 700ha, 550 of them irrigated. . . 

RSE workers stranded in NZ: ‘Tonga needs to look after its own citizens’ – employer :

A large Hawke’s Bay fruit grower fears for the well being of Pacific Island workers still unable to return home and says Tongan authorities must help out.

Some 487 workers from Tonga and 763 from Vanuatu are registered as requiring urgent repatriation.

There are hundreds of others urgently wanting to get back to other countries including Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati.

A flight to Tonga yesterday was suspended until further notice because of Auckland’s Covid alert level 3 status. . .

Water the word on farmers’ minds – Sally Brooker:

North Otago farmers are feeling the effects of a dry winter, Federated Farmers provincial president Jared Ross says.

“We’re 100mm behind in rainfall,” he said of his Duntroon dairy-support farm.

Local contractors had sold out of their feed supplement supplies in the lead-in to winter, and one had been bringing in feed from Central Otago and Southland.

“It was priced accordingly.” . .

Sell venison or risk loss say experts – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers are being advised to take the going price for chilled venison now, or risk significantly lower returns.

With a short chilled season expected venison marketers are recommending to farmers to take the money being offered during the chilled season.

Currently, the market for frozen venison is subdued and the prospects post-Christmas are uncertain.

Deer that miss the chilled season cut-off at the end of October will be unable to reach Europe in time for the last game season sales.

While a portion will go to alternative markets, some venison will be frozen.  . . 

White Rock Station’s revival – Peter Burke:

One of New Zealand’s most historic sheep stations – White Rock – has a new lease of life thanks to family members who wanted to preserve the property for future generations. Peter Burke reports.

White Rock Station, way out on the isolated south Wairarapa Coast, is the epitome of rugged beauty that typifies much of NZ’s East Coast.

It’s named after a stunning white rock formation, which dominates the shoreline where the hills rise steeply from the relentlessly pounding surf. The property is about an hour’s drive from Martinborough, along a winding – mainly gravel – road.

Tim Ritchie, who earlier this year retired as the chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, is the great, great grandson of the original owner, Richard Barton who acquired the land in 1843. . .

New digital campaign thanks NZ farmers:

New digital campaign by OverseerFM thanks Kiwi farmers and lets them know they have choices when it comes to managing sustainable impact

From propping up our economy, to feeding the world, and overcoming numerous challenges along the way, Kiwi farmers play a vital role in keeping our nation, and its people happy and healthy.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to say thanks. It’s time to reassure those in the agricultural sector that we are there for them – every step of the way.

That sentiment is echoed in a new digital campaign for agricultural management tool OverseerFM fronted by rugby legend Buck Shelford, Dame Lynda Topp (Ken the farmer), TV presenter Toni Street, fishing legend Geoff Thomas and cricketing icon Sir Richard Hadlee. . .


Rural round-up

15/08/2020

Letter to the Prime Minister from New Zealand butchers:

Dear Prime Minister, 

We are writing to you on behalf of the independent butchers of New Zealand to urgently reclassify local butcheries as essential services in line with dairies. 

Like dairies, local butcheries have been the foundation of Kiwi communities for decades and are entwined in our community fabric. They proudly provide consistent, quality, nutritious products to all New Zealanders. 

At their core, butchers are committed to serving our communities, and to do that, need to be reclassified as an essential service. If they are not, these mainstays of our community risk disappearing forever. 

As a result of the first lockdown, many butchers have been left on the verge of financial ruin. Confused messaging in the lead up to the first lockdown in March meant many butchers stocked up on meat, only to be informed hours before Alert Level 4 came into effect, they would not be allowed to open. As a result, many butchers had to write off stock costing them tens, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars.  . . 

Feds backs the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer:

Federated Farmers says the government needs to reconsider and let small business fresh food sellers stay open under level 3 and, if necessary, at level 4.

“Let the little guys stay open, and sell fresh food, because it’s safer, fairer and better for small communities trying to buy local,” Feds president Andrew Hoggard says.

New Zealand’s first COVID-19 lockdown rules meant butchers, bakers and greengrocers could not open as the small retailers were considered non-essential.

“This rule needs a rethink if we are to go back into a full-scale lock down,” Andrew says. . . 

Retiring MP’s $2m vote of confidence in dairying – Peter Burke:

Former Minister for Primary Industries, and retiring MP, Nathan Guy says his plans to invest more than $2 million in a new innovative dairy shed is a vote of confidence in the future of the dairy industry.

Guy owns a large dairy farming operation near the Horowhenua town of Levin and is about to build a unique dairy shed that incorporates two 50 bail rotary platforms in the same building and is capable of milking 700 cows in just one hour. The design is identical to the one built by former National MP and Taranaki dairy farmer Shane Ardern.

The new shed will replace two other milking sheds on the property, but Guy says they will keep a small 28 bail rotary which his father built in 1975. It will be used for milking mainly the heifers on the property. He says his father had the vision to put in that shed back in the 1970’s and says his new shed is about investing for the next generation – his children. His children have been involved in the decision making and are also excited about the future of the industry. . . 

Working dog heading for retirement – Sally Brooker:

Man’s best friend” is the perfect description of Jimmy.

The 12-year-old heading dog has retired from an exceptional agility career in which he always did owner Allen Booth proud.

Mr Booth and his wife Kathy, who farm and own boarding kennels at Peebles, have been running dogs in agility competitions for 20 years. Mr Booth said he started when he was 50 and now, at the age of 70, he reckons it might be time to retire himself. . . 

Woollen mask sales spike – Annette Scott:

Suppliers of woollen face masks have been slammed with orders as a second wave of covid-19 threatens New Zealand.

Following the Government’s warning that face masks may become compulsory, suppliers and manufacturers have been challenged to meet demand as NZ-made woollen face masks take a top spot on the fashion accessory charts.

“Face masks are out of stock.

Due to order demand, we are not currently taking back orders.

Available again for purchase September 1.”

These are the messages heading several websites and Facebook pages of Merino wool mask suppliers. . . 

Lancashire farm welcomes yoga classes alongside cows – James Holt:

Dairy cows graze in a field as Yoga instructor Titannia Wantling takes part in the first ever Cow Yoga session at Paradise Farm in Leyland.

The experimental yoga class gives people a chance to experience movement with cows, as the animals are proven to lower stress whilst encouraging adults to enjoy exercising outdoors.

With tackling obesity currently high up on the government’s agenda, the Lancashire farm, alongside free range yogurt brand Lancashire Farm Dairies, has launched the Cow Yoga classes to get people motivated. . . 

 


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