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. . . 

 


Rural round-up

06/08/2020

No tears over RMA overhaul – Peter Burke:

News that the controversial Resource Management Act (RMA) is to get a complete overhaul has been welcomed by many primary sector organisations.

Last week, Environment Minister David Parker released a report by a panel headed by retired Appeal Court Judge Tony Randerson which proposes that the Act, which has been in operation for thirty years, should be scrapped and replaced by two new laws – a Natural Built Environment Act and a Strategic Planning Act.

Its recommendations include a proposal for each region in the country to put forward a combined development plan, consolidating the myriad of local council plans that currently exist.

At present there are about 100 policy statements and plans put up by local authorities and under the new proposal there would be just 14 combined regional and district plans. . . 

United front over UN’s call to eat less beef – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is right behind the global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef taking a stand on the United Nations call to eat less beef.

The UN has published claims that the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies.

The Global Roundtable is taking a stand on this and is raising its concerns directly with the UN.

The NZ Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) is right behind condemning the UN campaign and its accusations of the impact of the meat industry on the environment.  . . 

Farm changes help environment:

Fifty dairy farms in Canterbury’s Selwyn and Hinds catchments are taking part in a five-year DairyNZ project influencing change on hundreds of farms in the region.

One of the partner farmers, Tony Dodunski, operates close to a lake considered one of New Zealand’s most important wetland habitats and has, just two years into the project, made great gains in reducing nitrogen loss.

Dodunski owns Beaumaris Dairies, a 219ha farm near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, and has cut his nitrogen loss from 32kg per hectare to 17kg per hectare: “Our plan requires us to achieve a 30 per cent reduction by 2022, so we are already well over that,” he says.

His property – low-lying and with more than 10km of drains feeding into an 11km wetland at its lowest point – borders a Department of Conservation (DOC) reserve near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. . . 

Wetland aims for water quality rise:

Fifteen years ago, South Taranaki dairy farmers Donna and Philip Cram began their environmental journey by wanting to stop finding cows stuck when walking through streams on their property.

Now the couple’s passion for sustainable farming practices, improving environmental and water quality, and a predator-free district, has seen them aiming to set up a catchment group in the Oeo Catchment.

Donna has had national and regional roles in DairyNZ’s Dairy Environment Leaders – and they’ve galvanised their farming and school communities. . . 

Cheesed off by cheap imports – Sudesh Kissun:

NZ cheesemakers are banking on anti-dumping legislation to bolster their battle against cheaper imported cheeses.

Simon Berry, managing director of Whitestone Cheese and spokesperson for New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association on EU tariffs and trade, says up to 25% of retail cheeses are imported – mostly subsidised European cheeses.

With imported cheeses often selling for around half the price of local ones New Zealand producers are struggling.

Berry says Kiwi cheese producers can’t compete with cheap European product flooding into the market and wants an anti-dumping duty to be placed on some imported speciality cheeses. . .

How one woman fell in love with dairy farming:

When Daisy Higgs first moved to New Zealand from England more than 15 years ago she never thought she’d end up falling in love with farming.

But now the 25-year-old says she can’t imagine another way of life, and she’s encouraging other Kiwis to give it a go too.

After developing a love of animals while growing up with her family on a lifestyle block in Taranaki, Higgs decided to major in animal science at Massey University.

However, when she realised there were more jobs in the agriculture sector she shifted her focus, finishing her studies with a major in agriculture and a minor in animal science. . . 

Red meat is not the enemy – Aaron E. Carroll:

There are people in this country eating too much red meat. They should cut back. There are people eating too many carbs. They should cut back on those. There are also people eating too much fat, and the same advice applies to them, too.

What’s getting harder to justify, though, is a focus on any one nutrient as a culprit for everyone.

I’ve written Upshot articles on how the strong warnings against salt and cholesterol are not well supported by evidence. But it’s possible that no food has been attacked as widely or as loudly in the past few decades as red meat.

As with other bad guys in the food wars, the warnings against red meat are louder and more forceful than they need to be. . . 


Rural round-up

22/07/2020

Alternative labour sources needed – David Anderson:

Industries that depend on migrant labour – like many in NZ’s primary sector – will need to find alternatives, according to a new report.

The need for alternatives is one of the key findings of the latest report on the agribusiness sector by KPMG in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The recently released 2020 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda says that there is a stigma attached to a career in the production and processing of food and fibre products.

“The jobs are seen as being low skilled, low paid roles which are done by those for which there are no other employment options,” the report says.

“While such perceptions are a million miles away from the truth, they have made it difficult for organisations to recruit the labour force they need, even in countries with significant levels of unemployment.” . . 

Desperate lobbying for the status quo – Elbow Deep:

You could be forgiven for thinking the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) reforms were a done deal; a cross-party panel of MPs had unanimously recommended a raft of sweeping changes that addressed issues that have been plaguing the industry for years, and they did so with a refreshing display of clarity, common sense and unity.

After eight years with no changes, a period during which independent processors have been given a leg up at the expense of New Zealand dairy farmers, the Select Committee decided that DIRA had achieved its goal of fostering competition in the dairy industry and it was time for all processors to stand on their own merits.

Having failed to convince the Select Committee to maintain the status quo with their formal submissions, the independent processors are now publicly lobbying to keep the uneven playing field tilted in their favour. They have arranged a last minute meeting with the Minister of Agriculture in an attempt to stop the legislation being passed before the election so they can have another go at arguing for the retention of DIRA’s open entry provisions. . . 

Forest owners to fund clean up of debris, logs at Tolaga Bay :

The Forest Owners Association has apologised and said the industry is committed to cleaning the beach and owners will pay for it, not ratepayers.

The beach in Uawa is strewn with logs and debris from forestry operations up in the hills.

The slash washed onto the beach over the weekend after a metre of rain fell in 24 hours.

Forest Owners Association president Phil Taylor said: “On behalf of the forest industry … I unreservedly apologise to the community for the debris on the beach. They acknowledge it is unacceptable. I can assure the community on the East Coast that the forest industry is committed to cleaning the beach up in conjunction with GDC (Gisborne District Council) … that planning is underway.” . . 

Hope high for wool’s future :

The latest wool working group report brings some hope for reform, innovation and, most importantly, boosted returns for a sector that has languished for almost a generation of farmers as the smallest part of their income stream.

Released this month, the vision and action plan developed by the Wool Industry Project Action Group contains three key recommendations to kickstart the strong wool sector as a sustainable economic fibre base once again.

These include developing a market focused investment case and road map for a strong wool sector, establishing the capability the sector needs to become “match fit” for future opportunities and establishing better co-ordination and governance capability. . . 

Trusts to get extra help – Peter Burke:

MPI says it’s looking at increasing its support to Rural Support Trusts and other rural advisory groups.

Director general of the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ray Smith, says it seems like the country is moving from one set of issues to another, which are all challenging to farmers.

He cites the droughts in the North Island and the feed shortage in the South Island – along with M. bovis and the damage from earthquakes.

“It feels like the expectations on those Trusts are growing and we are trying to increase our investment in them to help the local people,” he told Rural News. . . 

Rural data usage continues to soar as new tech drivers efficient farms and sustainable communities:

Rural broadband specialists, Farmside, have reported a massive 34% average year-on-year data usage increase in Aotearoa’s rural communities since 2017 as new technologies drive efficiency, productivity and sustainability in the sector. The internet provider, powered by Vodafone New Zealand, is a Gold Partner of the first Fieldays Online launched last week, showcasing three of the latest innovations driving smarter, and more connected, farms.

The Farmside and Vodafone site set up for Fieldays Online features: water quality monitoring system RiverWatch that analyses real-time data on the health of New Zealand’s waterways; smart traps run on Vodafone’s narrowband IoT (nb-IoT) network keep the bird sanctuary at Punakaiki predator-free; and a Wide Area Network (WAN) that securely connects all Pāmu New Zealand’s farms with its corporate offices.

Farmside CEO Jason Sharp says it is innovations such as these that has seen the demand for rural connectivity grow relentlessly over the last few years. . . 


Rural round-up

19/06/2020

Rural communities under threat from carbon off-setting farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural communities are being hollowed out as carbon investors buy up farm land at prices well over those farmers might pay, Pahiatua sheep and beef farmer Lincoln Grant says.

School closures were just one symptom of the trend towards increased pine plantations on former sheep and beef farms, he said. Tiraumea school, north of Masterton, is one school that closed its doors two years ago after changing land use led to dropping role numbers.

As farming families sold up and moved away, jobs went with them. . .

The challenge of meeting environmental rules – Peter Burke:

Complying with new and stricter environmental requirements is for farmers a major challenge worldwide.

When Rural News reporter Peter Burke was in Ireland last year, he met up with Professor Tommy Boland of University College Dublin (UCD) who, like colleagues in NZ, is looking to find practical solutions that farmers can use to reduce their environmental footprint and somehow meet the new standards of policy makers and politicians.

Tommy Boland has been to New Zealand several times and understands the situation in this country.

He says both countries are recognised for their efforts and achievements in environmental pasture-based meat, milk and fibre production, while leading the way in developing new approaches to ensuring future sustainability. . .   

Study beefs up meat’s importance:

New research highlights value of New Zealand’s red meat sector as the industry launches its general election manifesto. 

The red meat sector’s contributes $12 billion in income to the economy and employs almost 5% of the full-time workforce.

The study commissioned by the Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb shows the meat processing and exporting sector is also responsible for $4.6b in household income and represents a fifth of New Zealand’s productive sector. 

The release of the research by S G Heilbron Economic and Policy Consulting coincides with B+LNZ and the MIA launching a joint manifesto ahead of the election.  . . 

Terrible news: the avocado crime gangs are about to strike again – Hayden Donnell:

For four years running, at the exact same time of year, New Zealand has been savaged by gangs of avocado thieves. Hayden Donnell sounds the alarm about the country’s most predictable crisis.

They come every year like clockwork. As winter starts to bite, and our summer produce hits its peak price point, the thieves rouse themselves and head out to pillage. They always have the same target. They usually have the same MO. In the dead of night, they steal our avocados.

This year, their timing couldn’t be worse. Most New Zealanders are still reeling from the Covid-19 lockdown. We’re slowly readjusting to normal life: blinking like stunned owls at the white lights of the newly reopened retail stores. Struggling to remember the way to our offices. The last thing we need is another crisis. . .

Silver Fern Farms no available direct to customers with Gourmet Direct partnership:

Silver Fern Farms’ full retail range of natural, grass-fed, premium red meat products are now available to be ordered online and delivered direct to consumers across New Zealand thanks to a new partnership with Gourmet Direct, a nationwide e-commerce business specialising in premium New Zealand meat products.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says the partnership with Gourmet Direct was a natural fit, with online shopping becoming more popular than ever following the Covid-19 lockdown.

“At Silver Fern Farms we are thrilled to partner with Gourmet Direct, who have developed a loyal customer base which values their selection of premium meats, product quality and superior customer service. . . 

Rail supporting Hawke’s Bay drought relief:

KiwiRail is helping the drought relief effort by shifting stock feed for free from the South Island to parched farms in Hawke’s Bay.

“On top of the Covid-19 crisis, the prolonged drought in parts of the North Island has put some farmers and stock under great stress,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.

“We move dairy products, beef, lamb, horticulture and viticulture for the rural sector so it is one of our most important customers, and we’re pleased to support it now at this time of need. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/06/2020

Why we need a national food strategy – Lindy Nelson:

Lindy Nelson says now is the time to come together to form a national food strategy and shape the future of New Zealand.

Belonging is a fundamental human need. When this need is not met, it is hard to feel a sense of purpose. Right now, farmers and food producers are starting to feel they belong again; they have a clear sense of purpose – to feed the nation and deliver economic stability.

The things that have threatened to divide urban and rural New Zealand – water, environment, reaching Carbon Zero – have faded for the time being as we have developed a more intimate awareness of our interdependence.

Food is vital for sustaining life. During the past few weeks, we have begun to realise just how much it shapes our sense of self, family and community and forms part of our cultural identity. . . 

Farmer picked for National in Wairarapa – Peter Burke:

The man who led the Fifty Shades of Green campaign is now going to be advocating for the one shade of blue – the National Party.

Mike Butterick, a Wairarapa sheep and beef farmer and Feds Meat and Fibre chair in the region, has been selected as the National candidate for the region. He beat off two other nominees including Mark Bridges, the brother of former leader Simon Bridges.

Butterick has been a vocal critic of plans to convert livestock farms to forestry and was one of the leaders of a protest at parliament on this subject last year. He replaces Alastair Scott who has held the seat since 2014 and is standing down at the election. . . 

High prices for gold kiwi fruit licenses :

The Kiwifruit industry is being given a huge vote of confidence, with stunning prices being paid for gold kiwifruit licences this year.

Each year Zespri releases new gold licences, and this year 700 hectares was up for grabs.

Successful bidders have been told the lowest price paid for a gold licence was $378,000 a hectare. That’s $100,000 more than last year’s lowest price. . .

From willows to whitebait :

Stu and Kim Muir take the long-term view of working their dairy farm in the Waikato River delta – the tangle of waterways, islands and wetlands close to the river mouth on the west coast.

“In the farming community, we usually think everything that’s done on the farm has an impact three months, six months, or a year ahead. We’re thinking six or seven generations ahead,” Stu says.

His family have been farming in New Zealand since the 1850s. His great-great grandparents bought  the present property in the 1890s; Stu and Kim’s children are the sixth generation to live and work on the land. . .

Wool plan delays frustrate sector – Annette Scott:

Frustration has set in as wool industry stakeholders await the release of a Government report they fear has lost momentum to pull the industry out of its doldrums.

In July 2018 the Wool Working Group (WWG) was tasked by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor with creating a sustainable and profitable wool industry action plan to revitalise the languishing sector.

Now wool industry stakeholders claim the work, due to be completed last September, is not happening fast enough. . .

New study: climate impact of grazing cattle over estimated – Dr David Whitehouse:

The climate impact of grass-fed cattle may have been exaggerated as scientists find emissions of a powerful greenhouse gas from certain types of pasture are lower than previously thought.

Researchers from Rothamsted Research found urine from animals reared on pasture where white clover grows – a plant commonly sown onto grazing land to reduce the need for additional nitrogen fertiliser – results in just over half the amount of nitrous oxide previously assumed by scientists to be released. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas some 265 times more harmful than CO2 and can account for 40% of beef supply chain emissions.

Co-author of the study, Dr Laura Cardenas said:

“Due to technical and logistical challenges, field experiments which measure losses of nitrous oxide from soils usually add livestock faeces and urine they have sourced from other farms or other parts of the farm, meaning that the emissions captured do not necessarily represent the true emissions generated by the animals consuming the pasture.”


Rural round-up

06/06/2020

Farmers facing undue Govt pressure – Peter Burke:

Hawke’s Bay vet Richard Hilson says the effects of the lockdown with COVID-19 tended to isolate farmers more than people might have imagined.

He says towards the end of Alert Level 4, farmers needed to talk to people – their neighbours and others. He believes many felt they were being backed into a corner, on their own, having to deal with the drought.

Vets, says Hilson, were in a unique position to help farmers in this respect. He says when a vet goes on a farm they usually work with a farmer, unlike someone who comes on to fix a machine. He says vets are people that farmers more likely form a relationship with, chew the fat and have a laugh. . . 

Intervention groups plan early action on winter grazing issues:

As the temperature gauge starts to drop, Federated Farmers and allied groups have an action plan in place to head off any issues with winter grazing.

“Winter crops are gradually being opened up to stock around the lower South Island and although the weather has been kind so far, we all know that winter will arrive before long,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

Rural people know that a photograph taken of stock in a muddy paddock seldom tells the full story in terms of what the farmer has in place to protect waterways from run-off and ensure good animal welfare.

“Nevertheless, these selective photographs can generate negative publicity and we want to make sure any concerns are proactively addressed, and that any farmer needing advice or support gets it early,” Katie says. . . 

National’s new ag-man unknown – Peter Burke:

 Who is National’s new agriculture spokesman, David Bennett?

While new National Party leader and former agriculture spokesman Todd Muller may have been unfamiliar to urban New Zealand, he was well known in the rural heartland.

Now, with Muller’s elevation to the top job, he has named the relatively unknown Hamilton MP David Bennett as National’s new agriculture spokesman. Peter Burke finds out who he is.

From the corporate life to the good life and then politics – that’s the career path of National’s new agriculture spokesman David Bennett. . .

A1 milk predisposes to asthma and lung inflammation – Keith Woodford:

New findings published by Nature Research, demonstrating how A1 milk predisposes for asthma and lung inflammation, should bring the A1 milk issue back into focus for both consumers and farmers

Until May 15 of this year, there had been a lack of new scientific evidence about A1 milk for almost a year. The reason it was quiet is because no-one had been funding the next studies that needed to be undertaken. However, new evidence has now come forward from India, somewhat out of left field.

Prior to this, there had been multiple strands of evidence demonstrating that A1 beta-casein and hence A1 milk is pro-inflammatory and linked to auto-immune conditions. However, the new research published by Nature Research in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’ is the first to explore these pro-iinflammatory and immune-related effects of A1 beta-casein in the airway and lungs. . .

Best practice and vital new research focus of calf rearing webinar series :

Existing best practice and vital new research aimed at producing strong, healthy, well grown calves is the focus of five calf rearing webinars being run by the Dairy Women’s Network starting on Monday.

Calf rearing is a critical time for dairy farmers, with success determined by the quality and management of new-born calves. It covers the time from birth to 12 weeks of age and includes feeding (colostrum, milk, fibre, meal, and water), housing, general husbandry and health management of calves from the moment they are born up to four weeks post weaning. . . 

Are vegetables vegan? The man taking aim at animal products in organic farming – Jessica Glenza:

Will Bonsall is a homesteader and 45-year vegan living in rural Maine with a message for Americans – your vegetables are “very un-vegan”.

Bonsall is an influential member of a small but growing group of vegan and organic – “veganic” – farmers, who want to revolutionize organic agriculture, which traditionally depends on animals byproducts such as cow manure.

“There’s a little bit of a disconnect, even hypocrisy, in vegans … We vegans like to put on our plates [vegetables] grown in methods that are very un-vegan,” Bonsall said.“Most organic agriculture is focused on moo poo,” said Bonsall. “Cow manure, animal manure, but also blood meal and bone meal,” he said. . .

 


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