Rural round-up

18/05/2022

Dairy event will be all about change – Sally Rae:

Dynamic.

That is the theme of the South Island’s largest dairy event, SIDE 2022, which is being held in Oamaru on June 8-9.

It was the first time the event had been held in the town and it was expected to attract more than 350 farmers, rural professionals and sponsors.

Event committee member Rebecca Finlay, who came up with the theme, said dairy farmers needed to be dynamic — they could not be stuck in their ways.

There was constant change as they dealt with the likes of new compliance and regulations and they had to be agile and responsive to that change. . .

Exile on Main Street – Neal Wallace:

This week, Farmers Weekly journalists Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace investigate how two different districts, Opotiki and Gore, are trying to encourage new workers and address an ageing workforce while facing a static or falling population.

New Zealand’s rural-led economic recovery is being hamstrung by a shortage of working-age staff, an inability to retain people and intergenerational social issues.

Some rural districts already struggling for staff face even greater labour challenges in the coming years if demographic predictions proved accurate.

Work by retired University of Waikato demography professor Dr Natalie Jackson, is forecasting that in the next decade 75% of the country’s regional authorities will experience a decline in their working age population as young people either leave for bigger urban centres or are not being born. . . .

The ag-sector’s Budget 2022 wish list is for science – Business Desk:

If increasing productivity is the name of the government’s game, then the agriculture sector’s wish list for budget 2022 is all about science. 

The farming sector helped bankroll the economy through covid-19, generating 30% of the country’s export income at a time when sectors like tourism were at a standstill.

Rather than being rewarded, however, the sector is under immense pressure from rising costs, scarce labour and, increasingly, regulation and compliance.  

You’d be hard-pressed to find a farmer who doesn’t want to increase productivity and farm for better environmental outcomes but – across the board – they want more research and development to help them get there. . .

A sick joke – Rural News:

When the Covid pandemic broke out over two years ago, Jacinda Ardern waxed lyrical about the importance of the rural-based primary sector and how it would pull the NZ economy through the tough times ahead.

It has delivered on that with interest.

The sector has come together like never before, from workers on farms, in orchards and processing plants – not to mention the marketers and managers who have got our product to market on time and at good prices.

However, it’s come at a price: people in rural NZ are fatigued and are having to cope with the additional burden of a bundle of stressful compliance. . . 

All hands on deck – Peter Burke:

Growers are mucking in and helping staff to pick this year’s kiwifruit crop. At this point, the Ruby Red variety has all been picked and about a third of the gold crop has also been harvested, with workers now starting to pick the green crop.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) chief executive Colin Bond told Hort News that everyone in the industry is working together to ensure the crop gets picked this season.

He says many growers themselves have been out in the orchards with the picking crew and also helping out in pack houses.

Bond says there have been instances of staff who normally just pick the fruit, doing shifts in the pack houses on wet days when it’s not possible to pick fruit. . . .

2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award winner taking all opportunities:

For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

The 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year is driven, inspirational and a great example of a farmer who is taking every opportunity the New Zealand dairy industry offers.

Will Green was named the 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, the region’s Jaspal Singh became the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000.

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on Saturday, in front of more than 540 people, making it the largest dinner to be held at the new venue since opening. . . 

Fonterra responsible dairying award winner lead change through innovation :

Craigmore Farming Services, Canterbury/North Otago were named the 2022 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners during the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on Saturday night and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

 The prestigious award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Fonterra to recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are respected by their fellow farmers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

“It was a privilege to engage with all three finalists and the quality of the presentations was exceptional,” says head judge Conall Buchanan.

Fellow judge Charlotte Rutherford from Fonterra, agrees. “The future of the industry feels in such good hands when you are able to spend time with people like our finalists.” . . 


Rural round-up

17/05/2022

Farmers overwhelmed by new regs – Peter Burke:

Farmers are getting overwhelmed by all the new regulations and compliance requirements they are facing now and in the future.

Leading farm consultant Phil Journeaux, of AgFirst, told Rural News that farming is a complicated enough business as it is. But he says the compliance cost on farm – in terms of time and paperwork – is growing rapidly and with the advent of all the water, animal welfare and labour regulations, the pressure is on farmers.

“I have been doing a lot of work in the last few years around greenhouse gas emissions, which is very complicated and this has yet to really hit farmers,” Journeaux explains.

“I don’t think they (farmers) understand how much paperwork and compliance they will be required to do. This whole compliance thing is becoming a really big component of farming and that’s why a lot of farmers are reaching for advisors to help them work it through.” . . 

New regulations compel consents for 2023 crops – Richard Rennie:

As many farmers grapple with a looming feed crisis this winter, planning for next winter may also demand attention sooner rather than later with changes in the winter grazing regulations effective from November 1.

The revised intensive winter grazing (IWG) regulations finalised last month may require some farmers to apply for resource consent to winter graze crops on their farm and timelines are getting tight to ensure consent is granted before crops are sown.

AgFirst director of farm consulting James Allen says time can run surprisingly short for a feed supply that is not needed for another 12 months, once resource consent application processes are factored in.

“Basically, a resource consent is required if you are looking at a new wintering programme, there are a series of conditions you have to meet and it’s likely it will take time to ensure you meet them.” . . 

‘Red wave’ sweeps national dairy awards – Sudesh Kissun:

A red wave swept through the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards last night.

And the 2022 Share Farmer of the Year Will Green rightly pointed out in his acceptance speech that red wave wasn’t about the Labour Party but Canterbury. For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/North Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

Joining Green on the podium last night, Jaspal Singh, the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000. . . 

All hands to the vine for harvest – Ashley Smyth :

A warm, dry autumn has been the saving grace for winegrowers in the Waitaki this season.

Harvest was in full swing in the Waitaki Valley this week, and it had been an ‘‘atypical’’ season for the region, new Waitaki Valley Winegrowers Association chairman Dave Sutton said.

‘‘It’s been more of a La Nina rain pattern this year, which has meant a lot of easterly rainfall, so a lot of the winegrowing regions on the East Coast — for example Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Waiheke Island — they’ve seen a lot more rainfall.

‘‘Things were looking a little bit grim, but we’ve had a beautiful ripening period, late, and it’s actually saved the vintage, I think. . . 

Calmer farming through pressure and change :

A new online programme – Know your Mindset. Do what Matters – is boosting the ability of rural communities to handle pressure and change. Dairy farmer Matt Goodwin discusses how it’s helped him.

Matt Goodwin has plenty on his plate. 

He oversees not just one farm, but two – the family’s South Canterbury dairy operation comprises a 600-cow farm and a 300-cow farm. 

It’s a big job, but Matt loves dairying.  . . 

Glass ceiling obliterated by Taupō dairy farm managers – Rachel Canning:

Three Taupō women are proving their doubters wrong as they prepare for their first season as managers of dairy farms.

The trio will each manage Pāmu Farms dairy farms located just out of Taupō.

When they started out, two had never set foot on a dairy farm and one grew up on a sheep and beef farm. One had family members who doubted she would cope with the mud, the stink, and hours outside in the cold.

Resolution Dairy Unit manager Mona Cable, Quarry Dairy Unit manager Liza Arnold and Burgess Dairy Unit manager Carol Cuttance have worked their way up from the bottom, spent time “riding the train” while their children were young, taken up study opportunities to learn about milking and effluent management systems, and all three say they still experience moments of self-doubt. . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/04/2022

Rural focus missed in health reform – Neal Wallace:

Rural communities should be a priority health focus alongside women, Māori, Pacific and people with disabilities in the Government’s health reforms, according to a NZ Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN) submission.

The NZRGPN says the proposed legislation ignores the needs of 740,000 rural people and will mean the continuation of poorer health outcomes for those living in rural communities.

The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill, which amalgamates the country’s District Health Boards into a centralised body, will be reported back to Parliament later this month.

Despite the economic importance of rural-based industries, the network claims that unless “rural people” is added to the Bill as an identified priority population, then health inequities and the rural health staffing crisis will continue. . . 

Government regs take their toll on hort growers – Peter Burke:

Horticulture NZ’s chair is genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of growers with confidence at rock bottom.

Barry O’Neil told Rural News the pressure that growers are facing is on many fronts, including a plethora of new government regulations. He says 2022 will be the hardest year the sector has experienced for many and the heat is on growers because of this.

“It’s not just Covid, it’s all the other issues that are building in respect to the environmental settings the Government wants to achieve,” O’Neil explains. “There are shipping disruptions, labour shortages and rising costs on orchard as well.

“It’s not just about change – this is about the amount of change and the speed at which this happening.”  . . .

Planting trees ‘binds our community’ – Sally Rae:

“We are all in this together.”

As Emeritus Professor Henrik Moller points out, although 90% of voters live in urban centres, New Zealand’s biological industries — particularly farming and forestry — earn about 60% of the country’s national income.

Urban dwellers often went “hunting and gathering in supermarkets” and there was increasingly less understanding of the struggles their rural counterparts had.

“The more we understand, meet and support each other, the safer our country will be. Our future depends on it,” he said. . . 

‘Right tree, right place’ plan proffered

Environment Southland has proposed a “right tree, right place” policy in response to concerns about forestry taking over pastoral land as climate change bites.

In an extraordinary meeting of the council earlier this month, Environment Southland discussed its response to a document released by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) which proposes changes to forestry settings in the New Zealand emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The MPI is considering changes to the ETS, including a blanket ban on exotic forestry receiving carbon credits or a ban on nominated exceptions. Keeping the status quo is also being considered.

There is a concern good pastoral land is being eaten up by forestry being planted to earn carbon credits, which have more than doubled in price since June 2020. . . 

New research shows opportunity for NZ wool in US :

New research has found that Americans have different ideas about wool compared to New Zealanders – one that offers growers a huge opportunity.

The research commissioned by the Campaign for Wool NZ (CFWNZ) found a large education gap in how US consumers think about wool, CFWNZ chairman Tom O’Sullivan said.

“For example, 53% think of cashmere when they hear the word wool. Although they are aware of wool, it sits quite a bit lower down in their consciousness when compared to New Zealand consumers.”

The research by Fresh Perspective Insight canvassed 3000 consumers across three markets – New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States in November last year. . . 

JB Fairfax Award to Kate Newsome – Andrew Norris :

A budding journalist from Glen Innes with a passion to provide a voice for people in rural areas has been awarded the 14th JB Fairfax Award for Rural and Regional Journalism and Communications.

Kate Newsome has been undertaking a bachelor of arts and bachelor of advanced studies in media and communications at the University of Sydney, said the award’s benefactor, John Fairfax, during his presentation to Kate at Sydney Royal Show.

“… we need talented and well-trained journalists, individuals who can bring to all of us … balance and factual accounts of the many things that affect our lives,” he said.

“Kate is a great girl and she hopes to use a career in the media to bring greater attention to many of these issues.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/03/2022

Book culling space now! – Peter Burke:

Livestock farmers are being urged to plan ahead for possible meat processing disruption due to Covid-19.

The expectation of some farmers that they can ring up a buyer at short notice and have animals collected quickly and taken to the processing works is unrealistic at the moment.

The chair of the Animal Welfare Forum Lindsay Burton says with Omicron in the community, there is a high degree of uncertainty around the availability of a labour force in processing plants. He says even before the recent omicron outbreak, the industry was 5,500 workers short and the situation has the potential to get worse.

The Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum – a grouping of various industries related to livestock farming – says it is critical that farmers book space at meat processors well in advance. It is also warning farmers to be prepared to potentially hold stock on farm for longer. . . 

‘It’s beyond a joke’ – farmer outraged at milk tanker fracas near front gate – Chloe Blommerde:

A dairy farmer reckons $80,000 worth of milk could have gone down the drain during a milk tanker fracas with boy racers on the road near his front gate.

Footage of the incident shows a group of people crowding around a Fonterra tanker and its driver in the middle of the night as a stream of white pours onto the tarseal, however it’s unclear how much was lost.

Police received a report that a milk truck was damaged by a group of people near the intersection of Stokes and Orini roads in Waikato around 1.20am on Saturday.

The rural crossroads is a well-known spot for street racers to park up and do burnouts at the weekend. . . 

Fonterra to exit Russian business :

Fonterra has today announced it will exit its businesses in Russia. This follows the Co-op’s decision to suspend shipments of product to Russia at the end of February.

CEO Miles Hurrell says “our first step following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was to establish the safety of the team in Russia, and our priority through this process continues to be doing the right thing by our people.

“We then suspended shipment of product to Russia while we assessed the impact of economic sanctions and discussed our long-term plans with our customers and joint venture partner.

“Following careful consideration of the impact on our people and our long-term plans for the Russian market, we will now close our office in Moscow, re-deploying staff where possible, and withdraw from our joint venture Unifood.” . .

Business relationships crucial to success of winning farmers :

Bay of Plenty Share Farmer of the Year winners Scott and Becks O’Brien say farmers have nothing to lose and everything to gain in Dairy Industry Awards. Their advice to potential entrants is to give it a go.

“Whether you come first or last doesn’t really matter, because the networking with so many different people, and the feedback and information and scrutiny you’re getting on your business is as valuable as winning. You just have to give it a go. It’s little nerve wracking, but we really enjoyed it, and what you get out of it is so worth it.”

The O’Briens are sharemilking 900 cows on two farms about 10 minutes apart in the Galatea district. Since 2017 they have milked 650 cows on Rory and Susan Gordon’s 260-hectare farm, and since 2020 have been milking 250 cows on Cathy and Peter Brown’s 100-hectare property.

Scott has been dairy farming since he left school, just over 20 years ago. He and Becks have been married for 16 years. The start of their relationship was dramatic, with 21-year-old Becks diagnosed with cancer just after they met. It has permanently affected her voice, but after being at home with their young family – 12-year-old Hunter, 10-year-old Summer, and 8-year-old Piper – she has become an educational support worker at Galatea School (where Scott is also on the board of trustees). . . 

From Auckland to Reporoa lifestyle choice brings success in Dairy Industry Awards:

A former Auckland sales and marketing executive and a former adventure tourism guide and boutique lodge manager have won the 2022 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year title.

Todd and Renee Halliday were announced the winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Lake Taupō Yacht Club on Thursday night. The other big winners were Satveer Singh, who was named the 2022 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Zoe Bryson, the 2022 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Todd was born and bred in Auckland city and had never set foot on a farm until he met Renee, who is a dairy farmer’s daughter. The couple spent five years in the hospitality sector managing boutique lodges together before entering the dairy industry in 2009.

Todd initially spent two years as a farm assistant in Reporoa before progressing to a management role for a further two years. He and Renee then spent seven years in Mid Canterbury before returning to Reporoa where they now contract milk and are equity partners with Phil and Diane Herdman, on a 153ha Reporoa property, milking 520 cows. They won $17,060 in prizes and eight merit awards. . . 

RIP plant based meat mania – Prime Future:

I am often asked about my view on alternative meats and the threat they pose to old fashioned, plant-fed meat. I’ve stayed away from that question, for the most part because I’m just more interested in plant-fed meat.

First, it’s important to separate “alternative meat” into 3 distinct buckets: plant-based, fermented, cell-based.

Today we are looking at the plant-based meat category. Spoiler alert: I find the plant-based meat category bland and uninspiring. And honestly, I think we can reasonably lay plant-based meat mania to rest in peace in the history books, right alongside 1990’s emu farming mania in the US.

Some background on VC’s appetite for the category: . . 


Rural round-up

07/03/2022

Growers wary of Russia-Ukraine conflict – Annette Scott:

Cropping farmers are wrapping up one of the worst harvests they’ve seen.

Coupled with the threat of the long-term implications of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, things can’t get much worse, United Wheatgrowers chair and Mid Canterbury cropping farmer Brian Leadley said.  

“It’s got beyond urgent for many crops, the damage is done now, particularly for cereals and cut grasses,” Leadley said.

“The weather hasn’t played its part right back from flowering time in December, covid has created logistics issues and now we have the added confusion of the Russia-Ukraine war – both that are large and strong grain growing nations. . . 

Nervous final push ahead for Marlborough wine vintage – Morgane Solignac:

This year’s Marlborough wine vintage is shaping up to be a good one, but pressure is high as the industry navigates Covid, a labour crunch and Mother Nature.

Marlborough contractor Alapa Vineyard Services owner Alan Wilkinson usually employs 250 seasonal workers, but he is 60 per cent down this year with only 100 staff.

“We were supposed to get 22 Samoan workers last November, but they only just arrived last week,” he said.

“Last year we had 70 Thai workers but 20 of them have returned home over the last four months for various reasons. . . 

Diversity for sustainability – Hugh Stringleman:

Concern for the soil structure after summer maize cropping with conventional tillage has led Northland dairy farmers Adam and Laura Cullen to introduce multi-species cover crops over the prior winter and use direct drilling where possible. They are only beginning to see the benefits of this regenerative approach, they told Hugh Stringleman.

Adam Cullen, of Ararua in the Kaipara District, has rediscovered his enthusiasm for agriculture and applies his curiosity to finding new ways of dairying better, says his wife Laura.

The change of mindset prioritises improving the environment and the farm resources rather than constantly driving for production.

But the Cullens are not following a formula or prescription, rather being adaptive to their circumstances and farming conditions. . . 

 

Art for farming’s sake – Peter Burke:

A warning from his wife not to hang around the house and get under her feet when he retires has prompted a Feilding-based farmer to launch himself into a new and successful career – as an artist, painting rural scenes.

Seventy-three year-old Graham Christensen was brought up on a farm and as a youngster helped with shearing and the like before eventually doing a degree at Lincoln University.

His first job was with the old MAF where he managed the sheep breeding programme on Mana Island, near Wellington. . .

2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards open for entries :

The search has begun to find Aotearoa New Zealand’s most exceptional primary sector employers.

Entries have opened for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards, which are run by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT).

“The Awards provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding employers across the primary sector that may otherwise fly under the radar,” said MPI’s director of investment, skills and performance Cheyne Gillooly.

“The sector has been resilient throughout the pandemic and the hard mahi of farmers, growers and processors is leading our export-led recovery from COVID-19. . . 

Death by red meat is unsubstantiated – Frank Frank Mitloehner:

One might expect that a major breakthrough delivered by a well-respected organization – especially when the breakthrough seriously overrides a conclusion drawn merely two years earlier – to be backed by cold, hard facts. And yet, they are woefully absent from a Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) that calls unprocessed red meat an unconditional health risk.

The 2019 report points to a 36-fold higher estimate of deaths attributable to unprocessed red meat consumption than what is outlined in GBD’s 2017 study. In other words, any amount of red meat intake can lead to serious health complications, particularly cancer. The claim is made all the more shocking by the fact that GBD’s previous report assigns relatively low death risk to animal-sourced foods.

Prof. Alice V. Stanton, a world-renowned physician who specializes in the study of pharmacy and biomedical sciences at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is cautioning us not to buy in. After a period of intense work with a team of researchers, that included Stanton, Frédéric Leroy, Christopher Elliott, Neil Mann, Patrick Wall and Stefaan De Smet, their take on GBD’s no-red-meat-ever cry was published in the well-regarded Lancet Feb. 25. The GBD study fails to clarify how it came to its conclusions, Stanton says. 

The GBD report isn’t the only time meat has been castigated. A 2015 study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) tried its best to link meat with certain types of cancer, namely colorectal cancer. The organization eventually released the full scientific basis of its finding, confirming just how weak the evidence linking meat and colorectal cancer is. Amidst confusion, the World Health Organization (WHO) – the parent organization of IARC – came forward to deflate IARC’s claim and reassure the public that meat should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet. . . 


Rural round-up

02/02/2022

Farmers urged to plan for Omicron – Peter Burke:

Farmers are being urged to have good plans in place for dealing with any major community outbreak of Covid-19 and, in particular, the omicron variant.

Will Halliday of Beef+Lamb NZ is part of a pan-primary sector group – which include DairyNZ, MPI, the deer and pork industries and Federated Farmers – that have been preparing advice for farmers to deal with this contingency.

All of these organisations have advice on their respective websites aimed at making it easy for those in the primary sector to plan for such an outbreak.

There are also copies of this information in vet clinics and rural supply stores. . .

Virus stops Cavalcade in its tracks – Shannon Thomson:

“Gut wrenching.” That is how organisers describe the decision to pull the pin on the 2022 Goldfields Cavalcade.

The event’s cancellation – and its 30th celebrations along with it – was officially announced yesterday in the wake of ever-changing Covid-19 traffic light phases and regulations.

The event was scheduled for the end of this month, with hundreds of Cavalcaders expected to converge on host town Millers Flat on March 5.

Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust (OGHT) secretary and Cavalcade co-ordinator Terry Davis said he and fellow co-ordinator trust treasurer Odette Hopgood-Bride had hoped to continue the event under the Red traffic light setting but as new phases and restrictions were introduced last week, it became obvious it was not an option. . . 

The surf’s (back) up for farmers – Rebecca Ryan:

North Otago and South Canterbury farmers are enjoying being able catch a break.

Since Surfing for Farmers returned to Kakanui last month, 20 to 30 farmers have been heading to Campbells Bay each week to take part in the national mental health initiative aimed at helping farmers manage stress by teaching them to surf.

Kakanui co-ordinator Alfie Broughton said everyone had different reasons for attending the Wednesday night Surfing for Farmers events.

“Mainly people just love coming and doing something different,” he said. . . 

Horror trip finishes on a high note :

When 14 hours turned into 60 calamitous hours trucking 33-head from the South to the North Island, the Gilbert family knew they were up against it more than usual at the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE).

LITERALLY NEARLY EVERYTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG, DID.

Just north of Cheviot in North Canterbury their truck’s clutch went, which left them stranded on the side of the road with the cows on-board (top and bottom) from 9.45pm until 3.30am the next morning, when they were towed 92km back to a mechanic’s garage in Rangiora.

CRESSLANDS TO THE RESCUE . . 

Thank goodness NZDE pushed on :

The overwhelming response coming out the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE) was exhibitor relief that the show went ahead.

The timing of the government moving New Zealand to a red traffic light COVID-19 protection framework couldn’t have been worse – with exhibitors either already at the show at Manfield Park, Feilding – or on the way.

Exhibitor numbers were immediately limited on-ground to 100 (plus event staff), and any hope of spectators being allowed onto the showgrounds were dashed.

Part of the solution came in the form of bidr®, New Zealand’s online selling platform, which stepped up to livestream the event. It is the first time that’s happened in New Zealand. . . 

Struggling country churches a new target in city exodus – Chris McLennan:

City folk chasing a lifestyle change in the country are also turning their attention to abandoned churches.

A selling agent said he could hardly believe the amount of interest being shown in the Uniting Church at Glenthompson in Victoria’s western district which goes to public auction in a few weeks.

“People are ringing from Melbourne, from Sydney, from all over,” David Jennings, the Elders agent in Ararat, said excitedly.

This small rural town of about 250 people is about three hours drive west from Melbourne. . . 


Rural round-up

19/01/2022

Vaccination critical – MPI boss – Peter Burke:

Vaccination against Covid-19 is absolutely critical to the success of the whole primary sector.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director-general Ray Smith told Rural News that he’s encouraging every business in the primary sector to get their people vaccinated and have strong supporting policies around this.

“It underpins our mobility as individuals and for firms to prosper without having sickness,” he says. “My own organisation with 4,000 staff has a 97% vaccination rate and now, unless you have been vaccinated, you can’t come into work here.”

Smith admits one of the big challenges for MPI in 2022 will be bedding in the environmental changes, which he claims are needed to improve NZ’s sustainability and farming practices. He says the country is starting in a good place but it has more to do. . . 

Strong carbon prices blow into new year – Richard Rennie:

A new year surge in the New Zealand carbon values has caught the market by surprise, with traders anticipating values may well impact upon the first carbon auction of the year due to be held in mid-March.

Values for mid-January are now trading at $72.10 a unit, with a bullish sentiment on the market also reflected in future spot prices. The contracted market has April 2023 values trading at $75.20, and April 2026 at $83.40 a unit.

Lizzie Chambers, director of carbon trading company Carbon Match, said trading is now characterised by a myriad of buyers and sellers across the breadth of the market, including investors, farmers and emitters requiring credits to operate.

“Over the new year the market really gapped it from $69.50 to $71.50 a unit very quickly. It appears almost as if there was a decision made by many buyers first off at the start of the year to get in and tick the box on buying,” Chambers said. . . 

Launch of new social enterprise set to boost sustainably sourced wool sales :

The launch of a new tech start-up and social enterprise is set to provide a significant boost for New Zealand’s sustainably sourced wool sales.

Comfi provides a sleep solution for a child in need, including a single bed and base, and a pillow for every five beds sold.

The company is the brainchild of Vicki Eriksen and Susie Harris who developed the concept after struggling to find suitable beds online during the first Covid lockdown.

Other shareholders in the start-up include Neat Meat chief executive Simon Eriksen, Jucy co-founder Tim Alpe, and director/investor Andrew Harris. . . 

Hopes new tech will attract top cherry pickers :

Central Otago cherry producer Tarras Cherry Corp has implemented New Zealand-developed orchard management technology this season to attract and reward productive workers.

Orchard and project manager Ross Kirk said the company was the first New Zealand cherry business to implement radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology developed by Auckland software firm Dataphyll.

“At a time when pickers are in short supply, investing in smart technologies is a way to attract and retain quality workers.

“We want to lead the charge as an innovative and progressive operation throughout the supply chain,” he said. . . 

Food and Fibre Careers Day doubles in size as universities come on board:

The Westpac Agri Futures Careers Expo is returning to Palmerston North in March with an expanded line-up of attendees that will offer more exciting pathways into rural employment for young New Zealanders.

Hosted in association with Property Brokers and the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Expo provides youth and those interested in a food and fibre career with the chance to explore possible careers and job opportunities throughout the food and fibre industry.

The event is for secondary and area school students from Paraparaumu through to Napier and across to New Plymouth. It’s run as part of the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games in Te Marae o Hine/The Square in Palmerston North, from March 11-13, 2022.

New Zealand Rural Games Trust Chair Margaret Kouvelis MNZM said the event has grown significantly, attracting attention from tertiary providers from across the country as well as more local businesses. . . 

Young Winemaker national final heads to Central Otago for first time :

The 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year National Final is finally set to go ahead on Thursday 3 February 2022, following postponement last year. For the very first time the National Final will be held in Central Otago with the competition taking place at Amisfield Winery in the Pisa Ranges near Cromwell.

The Awards Dinner will be held the same evening at the stunning venue – The Canyon at Tarras Vineyard in Bendigo. The 2021 national champion will be announced that evening.

This programme supports emerging Young Winemakers helping them upskill, widen their network and giving them a platform to share their ideas for the future.

Having already won their regional competitions, the finalists will be stretched even further and will be tested on all aspects of wine production including laboratory skills, wine market knowledge and wine tasting and judging. . . 


Rural round-up

11/12/2021

Tim Ritchie – iconic meat industry leader dies – Peter Burke:

A man who dedicated his whole working life to the meat industry died suddenly on December 5.

Tim Ritchie, 71, made an outstanding contribution in his many roles in the industry over more than 40 years working for Government, the private sector and the Meat Industry Association and its predecessor, the Freezing Companies Association.

After completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree in marketing and economics at Lincoln University, Ritchie embarked on a wide ranging international career in the red meat sector. He started off at Treasury but then moved to Towers International and then to Waitaki International, both in NZ and overseas. Ritchie told Rural News just after his retirement last year that working for Waitaki in London was the highlight of his career

“There as a 30 something year-old my job was to manage the Waitaki operation in the UK and Europe,” he said. . .

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals. Anti-farming lobbyistsprobably don’t mean this to be the outcome of their activities, but outcomes are difficult to predict, even when the predictor is an expert in the appropriate discipline.

Lobbyists are experts at getting noticed in the media. The negative coverage of agriculture this month has been extraordinary. Anybody who has read the press, listened to the radio, watched the television or gone to a cinema would be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand is an environmental cot case.

The reality is that pre-Covid, tourists rated the environment at the top of New Zealand’s attractions. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has the data. The reality is also that without dairy, beef and sheep, New Zealanders would not have a first-world and flourishing economy. . . 

Fonterra are farmers under ‘enormous pressure’ – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride has acknowledged that despite the co-op’s improved performance, many shareholders feel under enormous pressure.

He says the rate of change on-farm, Covid, labour shortages and environmental reforms have pushed many farmers into protest, and others out of the industry.

He told Fonterra’s annual general meeting in Invercargill today that some of that change is being driven by regulation.

“More so, it is being driven by consumer, customer and community expectations,” he says. . .

Another day at the office for Pip – Simon Edwards:

Is this one of the best rural photos of the year (even decade)?

It was snapped earlier this week by Pahiatua farmer and Federated Farmers member Nick Perry and has already been seized on by media as a compelling shot.

This is how Nick described what happend:

While crossing a culvert on farm I heard a bleat from beneath me and thought ‘bother there’s a lamb in there’. Knowing full well extracting the lamb might involve getting wet I put off the decision until later in the day. But the bleat was still emanating from the culvert that evening so I selected my two most experienced working dogs, a huntaway and a heading dog, and explained the situation to them. . .

Family living the dream on beef farm – Shawn McAvinue:

An East Otago egg farming family is giving cropping and cattle finishing a crack in the Maniototo.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a field day at Rotherwood, a 737ha beef and cropping farm near Ranfurly, last week.

The farm is owned by the Winmill family — Jeff and Aileen and their children Nina and Ben.

Jeff Winmill, standing on the steps of the homestead, told more than 80 people at the event, about the purchase and transformation of the farm. . . 

Ag records to tumble for Aussie farmers – Liv Casben:

It’s set to be a record breaking year for Australian farmers thanks to strong growing conditions and high global prices according to a report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

If forecasts are realised, Australia’s agricultural production will reach a record $78 billion in 2021/22, with the most valuable winter crop ever expected worth $22.3 billion.

Meanwhile agricultural exports are also likely to hit a record $61 billion.

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the good results are expected to be enjoyed across livestock and cropping, with 30-year price highs being experienced. . . 


Rural round-up

29/11/2021

Which face do we believe – Peter Burke:

When Covid-19 first arrived in New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern made great play of the fact that it would be the primary sector – and that means rural NZ – would be the saviour of the economy.

Agriculture and the supporting processing and supply chain workers and farmers were deemed essential, and to their great credit these people have delivered 100% and more.

But if perchance, or maybe out of morbid curiosity, you tune into Jacinda’s daily sermons from the Beehive, you would struggle to hear the word ‘rural’ mentioned these days.

The vaccine roll-out has been urban driven with percentage rates in Auckland hailed and glorified. It seems to be all about high population numbers, which also means votes, or is that being too cynical? . .

Residents take up arms in Central Otago as rampant rabbits ruin land– Olivia Caldwell:

A plague of rabbits has destroyed thousands of grape vines, chewed through fence posts and rose gardens and left properties in Central Otago potted with holes, costing landowners thousands of dollars.

The trail of destruction has driven some to take up arms – despite never having owned a gun before – and shoot them from their front lawns.

The local authority says the responsibility for dealing with the pests lies with homeowners – a stance which has infuriated some, who say the buck should stop with the council, not them.

In recent months the Otago Regional Council (ORC) has visited more than 300 properties across the rabbit-prone areas of Lake Hayes, Morven Hill, Dalefield, Gibbston Valley and Hawea, and has now emailed hundreds of letters to landowners asking them to come up with their own compliance plan to get rid of rabbits. . . 

Bank opts for woollen carpet – Country Life:

The chief executive of Rabobank was so determined its new Hamilton HQ would have wool carpet he arranged for it to be craned in.

Todd Charteris says it was suggested synthetic carpet squares would be more appropriate because rolls of carpet were too big to be carried in the lift.

He wasn’t having a bar of it.

Rabobank specialises in rural banking and is relocating its head office from Wellington to the third and fourth floors of a central Hamilton building. . . 

Native dairy farmer – Country Life:

A Waikato farming couple will be hanging up their tennis racquets this year after transforming the farm’s tennis court into a native plant nursery.

Dave Swney and Alice Trevelyan started The Native Dairy Farmer and spent the latest Waikato lockdown potting up 22,000 plants now neatly lined up on the court.

Alice estimates they moved about 16 cubic metres of compost.

“Heaps of shovelling,” says Dave. “Some of us farmers have fatter fingers and probably aren’t as good on some of the more delicate jobs but we can get on the end of a shovel and shove a bit of compost.” . . 

First year EIT student chosen as Young Vintner of the Year:

Maddison Airey, a 23-year-old first year Bachelor of Viticulture and Wine Science (BVWSci) student from EIT, has won the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society & Craggy Range Young Vintners Scholarship for 2021.

Maddison received her award at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards dinner last night.

As part of the scholarship, Maddison wins $2,000 funding from the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society and a vintage position at Craggy Range Winery for the harvest season of ’22, and she will also be an associate judge for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards next year.

Maddison says she is excited about the scholarship and the opportunities it will offer her. . . 

‘I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis’: The energy crunch has made fertilizer too expensive to produce, says Yara CEO – Katherine Dunn:

The world is facing the prospect of a dramatic shortfall in food production as rising energy prices cascade through global agriculture, the CEO of Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International says.

“I want to say this loud and clear right now, that we risk a very low crop in the next harvest,” said Svein Tore Holsether, the CEO and president of the Oslo-based company. “I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis.”

Speaking to Fortune on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Holsether said that the sharp rise in energy prices this summer and autumn had already resulted in fertilizer prices roughly tripling.

In Europe, the natural-gas benchmark hit an all-time high in September, with the price more than tripling from June to October alone. Yara is a major producer of ammonia, a key ingredient in synthetic fertilizer, which increases crop yields. The process of creating ammonia currently relies on hydropower or natural gas. . .


Rural round-up

17/11/2021

Uncertain times ahead – Peter Burke:

NZ sheep and beef farmers will likely face different risks to their businesses in the coming years due to the Covid pandemic.

Beef+Lamb NZ’s chief economist Andrew Burt says there may be more volatility and risks that farmers will have to manage. He says these will be ones that they haven’t had to think about before or haven’t surfaced for over 20 years.

“It may be the case of unravelling the past and creating a new order.”

Burt confirms that while prices for meat are high at present, this is somewhat shielding significant rises in on-farm costs. He also warns that inflation could have a negative effect on farm profits. . . 

MIQ spots ‘bloody hard’ – Sudesh Kissun:

A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. Securing MIQ spots remain the biggest hurdle to getting overseas workers for the dairy sector.

Five months after the Government granted border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, just a handful of workers have arrived in the country.

Now in the dairy sector is pleading for 1500 overseas workers to be allowed into the country and self-quarantine on farms before the start of 2022 season to ease a severe staff shortage.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis says a lot of behind-the-scenes work is going with the Government. . . 

How Tomato Pete got lost and found again – Rachel Stewart:

This a story about Tomato Pete – a name given to him by a farmer amused by his vegetarianism.

Tomato Pete is the son of a friend I’ve known since primary school. She had two children to one man, who soon became largely absent from their lives. As a solo mother she worked hard to raise the kids on her own and, as is often the way, it wasn’t all beer and skittles. But it was okay.

I would show up in my truck every now and then, always with one canine or another in tow. Tomato Pete, a quiet town kid, was about seven when I noticed that he really came alive when he was around dogs.

At 13 he got his first puppy. Pip, a gentle-natured black mongrel, became his constant companion. (He’s still alive today, and enjoying his well-earned dotage). . . 

NZ wins big at World Steak Challenge :

Three New Zealand red meat producers won big at the World Steak Challenge in Dublin.

Anzco and First Light Foods won a gold medal each in the ribeye section, while Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef won three gold medals.

Hundreds of beef suppliers from around the world had their finest products judged by an independent panel of chefs and experts at the prestigious event.

Alliance general manager of sales Shane Kingston says the win reaffirmed the status of Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef as among the world’s best. . .

Gen Z it’s time to make your mark on New Zealand’s food and fibre sector :

Food and fibre sector leaders are counting on Generation Z (loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010) to take on the future of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and meet the challenges it faces.

The key to attracting Generation Z (Gen Z) to the sector will be making them aware of the scope of opportunities across the sector, says Madison Pannett, the Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar behind the report, Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

“I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join,” says Madison, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) as a Senior Adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team.

“From my research, I found that Gen Z mainly associates food and fibre sector careers with roles on-farm and not with the wider opportunities that are available,” Madison notes. She says that sector leaders need to tell the story of the scope of rewarding and diverse roles available for Gen Z to contribute and work in line with their values. . .

Western Station buy-up goes way beyond government promises

The acquisition of five western stations by NSW National Parks now totals almost 400,000 hectares in the last year. If you add on travelling stock routes, a large land ‘grab’ would appear to be underway.

Graziers and the community that need them for their economies in the western division are rightly asking questions.

Although some of the purchases were flagged by the government, they are wondering what now is the wash-out from these buy-outs, given the original buy-up was estimated at 200,000 hectares.

It’s estimated that each station in private hands, adds about $500,000 a year into local economies. It’s certain that the national park version will do nothing like that. . .


Rural round-up

02/09/2021

How dairy farmers can look after their mental health during lockdown – Sam Owen:

Dairy farmers may be essential workers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “business as usual” when it comes to mental health during lockdown. Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen offers practical advice on how to look after family, friends, staff and yourself.

Murphy’s Law – after dodging a bit of a bullet in 2020, Covid has now reared its ugly head during one of the busiest times on farm.

Luckily, there are so many ways we can look after not only ourselves, but our staff and others in our rural communities as well.

We all know that keeping good mental health during the spring period is critical. But what does that actually look like in practice? . . 

Keep in contact with each other’ – Peter Burke:

Keep connecting. That’s the message to farmers from the chair of the Rural Support Trust, Neil Bateup.

He told Dairy News that since lockdown the trust probably haven’t had as many requests as they normally get, but the trust is still there to help.

He says because of the Covid lockdown they won’t go out to a farm unless it’s an emergency but people can still do things by phone.

An issue that has cropped up, and one that is hard to deal with, is when farm staff change jobs and problems arise. Bateup says the best they can do is refer individuals to MPI or Federated Farmers, who can help deal with contractual matters. . .

Escalating women leaders :

”To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why,’” says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Donna, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire.

Donna says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Lip Gloss and Gumboots:

While some people are attracted to the more solitary parts of a rural working life, many farming women seek out others going through the same experiences, according to Ravensdown shareholder Jo Hay.

“Farming can be a pretty lonely lifestyle. It’s important for women in agriculture to have a supportive group where they can discuss their experiences and bring their ideas to life.”

Jo Hay and husband Ross have operated a family sheep and beef farm in Herbert, 20 minutes south of Oamaru since 2006. Jo was a teacher in Oamaru for 6 years before returning to farm life after the birth of their first child.

That’s when she took part in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) “Understanding Your Farming Business” course. . .

Helping farmers find ‘aha’ moments – Alice Scott:

Helping farmers find their “aha moments” was Steven Nichol’s reason for choosing to step away from the day-to-day rigours of running his own farm and set up a farm consultancy business.

Mr Nichol grew up on the family farm at Clarks Junction and, in 2007, he was able to farm a portion of the family property as a stand-alone economic unit.

“I reflect back on those early years; all the things I wish I knew then that I know now. The thing that always used to bug me was finding ways to create a farming system that would produce consistently good results.”

A season could be impacted in many ways and Mr Nichol said it was learning how to measure those variables in order to make “proactive decisions” rather than “reactive moves”. . . 

‘It’s not the cow, it’s the how’: why a long-time vegetarian became beef’s biggest champion – Patrick Barkham:

Nicolette Hahn Niman was an environmental lawyer who became a cattle rancher, and didn’t eat meat for 33 years. For both the ecosystem and human health, she argues, it’s how animals are farmed that matters.

After refusing to eat meat for 33 years, Nicolette Hahn Niman bit tentatively into a beefburger two years ago. She had become a vegetarian because she was concerned about animal welfare and the environmental cost of meat. Unlike most vegetarians, she had experience of the dire conditions on factory farms during her career as an environmental lawyer campaigning against pollution caused by industrial meat production in the US. Then she married a farmer.

Hahn Niman’s journey from vegetarian activist to cattle rancher to writing a book called Defending Beef may be driven by love, but it is also informed by a lawyerly desire to stick up for small farmers besieged by the growing ethical and environmental clamour against meat. The burger turned out to be an unexpectedly delicious brief pleasure, but it was the 18 years working on the ranch alongside the man who grilled it – and raised the cow – her husband, Bill Niman, that inspired her. . . 


Rural round-up

12/08/2021

Farmers struggle after floods – Nigel Malthus:

A Wesport mother and daughter team, who only recently bought a small dairy farm bordering the Buller River, are just one of many still struggling to get back on their feet after the huge flood of mid-July.

Lisa Milligan and her mother Karen took on the 70-hectare property about 5km upstream from the town on June 1. One July 17, almost the entire farm was flooded, with water covering the pastures, running through the milking shed and other buildings and lapping around the house.

Milligan says they knew when they bought the farm that a couple of low areas got water through them when the river flooded, “but not 99% of the farm. It was massive.”

She told Rural News the flood was at levels no one in the district had ever seen. . .

No resolution to labour nightmare – Peter Burke:

Meat Industry Association (MIA) boss Sirma Karapeeva says she struggles to see how much more automation can be introduced into the meat industry to resolve the present labour shortages.

Karapeeva says many people seem to think that automation is the silver bullet that can compensate for labour shortages in the industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I struggle to see how that is possible. In the red meat sector, we have already done all that we can do in terms of the lower hanging fruit in automation,” she told Rural News.

“The big pieces of automation are already in place and the next areas of automation that could be developed are really challenging because you are dealing with the natural product – meat.” . .

New RSE season will be tough amid pandemic – researcher – Christine Rovoi:

Many Recognised Seasonal Employers expect they will struggle to survive the 2021-2022 season unless they can refresh and increase their RSE workforce through new recruitment.

More than 300 stakeholders in New Zealand’s RSE scheme gathered in Nelson last month for the 14th annual industry-led conference ‘RSE: The Post-Covid Future’.

A New Zealand-based researcher said compared with the last RSE conference in Port Vila, Vanuatu in 2019, which focused on sustainable growth of the RSE scheme to support expansion of New Zealand’s horticulture industry (including wine), this year’s meeting was a “sobering event”.

Australia National University research fellow Charlotte Bedford said the conference had possibly the largest turnout of RSE employers, contractors, industry representatives and other stakeholders for several years. . .

West Coast farmers say plan to sacrifice their land bad idea – Lois Williams:

A landowner whose family farmed near Franz Josef for decades says it is not the best idea to let the river have its way on the south bank, as the government and councils are now proposing.

The West Coast Regional Council originally pitched a plan for a $24 million upgrade of the stopbanks on both sides of the river, but that has since been scaled back to $12m, the bulk of the work on the north bank of the Waiho River to protect Franz Josef village.

On the south bank, the stopbanks would be kept up only as far as Canavans Knob, and eventually, the river would be left to fan out over its natural flood plain, wiping out the airfield, several farms and a number of houses now protected by the ‘Milton and Others’ stopbank.

Derrick Milton, whose family helped to build and pay for the stopbank 36 years ago, says if the river is allowed to have its way it will shift its bed south to Docherty’s Creek and make it very difficult to rebuild the state highway as planned. . . 

Shear inspiration – Nigel Beckford:

Rowland Smith is one of New Zealand’s best known shearers. He’s set world records and won both the NZ Shears and Golden Shears numerous times. Farmstrong asked him how he looks after himself in such a physically demanding occupation. 

Shearing’s in the blood for Rowland Smith – his father and brothers were shearers, and shearing had taken him all over the world – Latvia, Finland, USA, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

“Shearing’s a great job because you’re out there doing it every day, you’re not stuck in an office. I’ve travelled the world for years on the back of a handpiece,” he says.

Shearing is unique in that as well as being a job, it’s also a competitive sport. Iconic events like the NZ Shears in Te Kuiti and the Golden Shears in Masterton attract hundreds of competitors and large crowds each year. . .

Farmers look to local products as fertiliser prices skyrocket – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are turning towards New Zealand-made fertiliser as Ravensdown and Ballance Agri Nutrients report soaring price increases.

Ballance general manager of sales Jason Minkhorst said the price of DAP fertiliser had doubled in the last year and while the company absorbed some of the cost, the price farmers paid had gone up by about 55 percent.

“Several things are pushing up the prices, to describe it as Covid is to simple, there’s increased demand for food and particularly for meat and dairy products and a key input to producing food is obviously fertiliser,” Minkhorst said.

“Another driver is that Chinese factories and most fertiliser comes from China, have been told to focus on the domestic market to assure food security for China. And then the last driver is this seasonal purchasing supported by subsidies in countries like India and Brazil that’s also putting pressure on prices at the moment.” . .

Seeking skills to reap bumper crops – Andrew Weidemann:

Another big crop is forecast to be harvested across Australia this year, worth an estimated $15 million for the broadacre grains sector.

But coronavirus is again presenting significant hurdles for the industry to overcome.

There is no point repeating what we already know about the personal inconvenience and business frustrations caused by extended lockdowns in different states.

But for many Grain Producers Australia (GPA) members, a significant and immediate challenge stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic is securing farm labour. . .


Rural round-up

27/07/2021

Opportunity obscured by rules – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers across the country descended on towns and cities on Friday to protest against the raft of reforms they say unfairly target their livelihoods.

When asked about the protests last week, the Prime Minister agreed that reform was coming thick and fast and that it was a challenging time for those working in the primary industries.

But she maintained that transforming our economy to limit climate change and environmental degradation would only get harder the longer it was left.

That may be true, but what is also true is that if a sector of society feels that its only way forward is to take to the streets, then there’s been a failure of communication and leadership. . .

Buller farmers in recovery mode – Peter Burke:

With calving just a few weeks away, farmers in the Buller district are now busy repairing damage to their properties.

The recent floods caused stock losses, ruined pasture and damaged sheds and tracks on about a dozen farms in the district.

This latest flood is being described as the worst anyone in  Westport has seen in their lifetime but most of the damage is in the town rather than in the rural areas. . .

Labour’s immigration policy could do lasting damage to the Pacific – John Roughan:

Next Sunday Jacinda Ardern is scheduled to make another of those nauseating apologies for the past, this time for the “dawn raids” against suspected overstayers from the Pacific Islands that happened a few years before she was born.

It’s not just the assumed moral superiority of the present that always gets up my nose, it’s also the injustice to people now dead and unable to speak for themselves. It makes me wonder what apologies the future might make for things governments are doing now.

One potentially regrettable project is particularly ironic. The Prime Minister who will apologise for the dawn raids next weekend is presiding over an immigration “reset” that could do far more lasting damage to the Pacific Islands than the clumsy policing their New Zealand expats suffered in the 1970s.

It surprises me that a Labour Government takes a dim view of seasonal work that enables Pacific Islanders to come here and earn some good money picking fruit for a few months. In a recent TVNZ item on our travel bubble with the Cook Islands we heard people there lamenting the loss of their younger people migrating permanently to New Zealand. . .

Spring Seep wins at Dairy Innovation Award – Gerald Piddock:

Spring Sheep Milk has beaten global giants Nestle and China Feihe to win the best infant nutrition category product at the World Dairy Innovation Awards.

The company won the category with its Gentle Sheep infant milk drink, beating Wyeth Nutrition, which is owned by Nestle, Chinese infant formula giant China Feihe and Blueriver Nutrition Co.

Spring Sheep’s general manager of milk supply Thomas Macdonald says they are proud of the achievement.

“They are some pretty big names playing in the infant space globally and a sheep milking company from New Zealand managed to beat them. It also validates the consumer story,” Macdonald said. . .

Direct drilling no-till system good – Shawn McAvinue:

Southern growers featured at the Federated Farmers Arable Industry Awards in Christchurch earlier this month. Shawn McAvinue talks to them about their mixed cropping operations.

The Horrell family has been cropping for five generations in Northern Southland and the future is looking bright.

Grain Grower of the Year winner Morgan Horrell said his great-great-grandfather started the farm in the 1860s.

The chances of his children — Zara (23), Jake (21), Sam (14) and Dan (12) — continuing on for a sixth generation was looking good.

“Sam’s driving tractors already.” . .

New grain legume varieties a step closer to commercial use:

Plant Research (NZ) Ltd is a New Zealand based R&D company specialising in the development of new grain legume varieties.

This summer, the company enters the final stages of development and multiplication of chickpea and soy varieties developed specifically for New Zealand’s maritime environment.

Managing Director and Principal Plant Breeder Adrian Russell says his team have worked through a large number of potential genetics from both programmes to identify varieties that are adapted to our unique environment and have functional traits for product development in the plant protein space. . .

The Golden Goose: Farmer’s poem for Jacinda Ardern – Graeme Williams:

Inspired by the Howl of a Protest last week and concerned with government regulations on the rural sector, East Coast farmer and bush poet Graeme Williams has put pen to paper in a plea to Jacinda Ardern to look out for farmers. He shared his poem, The Golden Goose, with The Country today.

The Golden Goose, by Graeme Williams

Dear Aunty Jacinda,
A moment if I may,
A response I think is needed,
To the protest the other day.

Farmers are generally too busy,
To rally and cause a stink,
But their overwhelming response,
Must have made you stop and think. . .


Rural round-up

14/07/2021

Farmer frustration is boiling over :

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says he’s not surprised frustration and anger about the deluge of new regulations and costs from central government is spilling over into protest meetings.

On Friday farmers in a number of districts around New Zealand are rounding up dog teams and firing up utes and tractors to head into their nearest town for peaceful protest rallies.

In his speech to the Federated Farmers National Council in Christchurch last week, Andrew referred to a “winter of discontent” in rural communities, with the so-called ute tax a straw that broke the camel’s back for many farming families.

The new “fee” on the farm vehicle work-horse to fund electric vehicle grants, when suitable EVs are not yet a realistic option for farmers, “has just highlighted in farmers’ minds that the Wellington Beltway thinkers just don’t get regional New Zealand“. . .

No workers, no growth! – Peter Burke:

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson says unless the kiwifruit industry gets more people to work in the sector, it may have to look at slowing down its speed of growth.

Matthieson told Hort News the biggest challenge for the industry is getting a good and consistent supply of people coming through the sector. Those who can help pick the fruit – as well as prepare the orchards for the next season’s crop. He adds the sector also want people to work through the post-harvest facilities to ensure that fruit is being managed well, to get it to market in the best condition.

Mathieson says New Zealanders currently make up about 55% of the kiwifruit sector’s workforce, while backpackers make up about 25% and RSE workers around 15%.

“We have a good mix, but we are certainly looking for more to supplement the migrant workers and the backpackers,” he told Hort News. . . 

Canterbury farmer’s only way out under threat – Sally Murphy:

A farmer in the Canterbury high country still cleaning up after last month’s flood is worried the bridge which connects them to the rest of the world could be washed away.

The heavy rain caused significant damage to Double Hill run road up the Rakaia Gorge leaving farmers isolated.

A four-wheel-drive track has since been cut on the road but a bridge near Redcliffs station is still surrounded by shingle.

Station farmer Ross Bowmar said he was still using a generator for power and had five kilometres of fencing to repair, but the bridge was his main concern. . . .

 

Farmer owned co-operatives need farmer-centered boards:

Former Ravensdown Board member Scott Gower is calling for farmers to step up and stay active in participating on boards of their co-operatives despite more demands being placed on farmers’ time.

Scott is a third-generation hill country sheep and beef farmer from Ohura near Taumarunui and retired from the Ravensdown Board last September after reaching the maximum term.

As an ownership structure, co-operatives contribute 18% of New Zealand’s GDP and one of the most important characteristics according to Scott is how they can take ‘the long view’ rather than seeking short-term commercial gain.

“The agsector is served by more co-operatives than most. Participation by working farmers is vitally important especially in the Board’s composition and determining its priorities. They can nominate candidates, they can run themselves and of course elect the directors that best represent how they think things should be governed,” Scott says. . .

Vegetables lead sharp rise in food prices:

The largest rise for vegetable prices in over four years pushed food prices up 1.4 percent during the June 2021 month, Stats NZ said today.

Vegetable prices rose 15 percent in June, mainly influenced by rising prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, capsicum, and broccoli. After adjusting for seasonal effects, vegetable prices were up 8.5 percent.

“We typically see price rises for many vegetables in winter due to seasonal effects,” consumer prices manager Matthew Stansfield said.

“However, we are seeing larger rises than usual for this time of the year and for a greater number of vegetables.” . .

Agritech industry grew over 2020, report shows – Nona Pelletier:

The agritech industry is growing steadily, despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Technology Investment Network (TIN) report for 2020 indicates there was growth across all parts of the sector, including the number of start-ups, export revenue, spending on research and development, and investment across all business types.

The top 22 agritech companies generated $1.4 billion in revenue.

Most of the new early stage companies offered information and communication technology, with a growing number offering biotech products. . . .


Rural round-up

01/07/2021

New Aussie farm visas could spell more trouble – Sudesh Kissun:

A new farm work visa proposed by Australia could cause more misery for labour-strapped New Zealand farmers.

By the end of this year, the new visa will be in place, ending a requirement for British backpackers to work on Australian farms for 88 days.

The visa will be extended to 10 ASEAN nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

New Zealand’s dairy industry is a popular destinations for Philippine workers but they could soon be heading to Australia. . .

Caring for the rural community – Neal Wallace:

An endless appetite for work is a feature of many young farming couples, but as Neal Wallace discovers, by any measure Southlanders Jono and Kayla Gardyne have shown an exceptional commitment to their futures – albeit in different areas.

The tribe of magpies chose the wrong time to invade the Gardyne property.

A shotgun resting against a wall was evidence Kayla could no longer handle the disruptive noise and activity outside her home office window, as she studied for her medical degree.

The pests progressively came off second best with six magpies dispatched, reinforcing that not only were they unwelcome, but that Kayla needed to focus on her studies. . . 

Grazing support needed for flood-affected Canterbury livestock – Laura Hooper:

Federated Farmers Southland has supported the Ministry for Primary Industries call to Southland for grazing support for more than 5000 livestock as a result of the Canterbury floods.

MPI spokesoman Nick Story said: “Our feed coordinators are currently seeking grazing for more than 5000 sheep from the Canterbury region. The sheep are owned by seven different farmers.”

“There are also six listings of grazing being sought for almost 300 beef cattle.”

The “one in 200-year” weather event has damaged thousands of hectares of Canterbury farmland. . . 

Covid boost kiwifruit demand – Peter Burke:

In a somewhat ironic twist, the global Covid pandemic is helping to drive demand for New Zealand kiwifruit.

This season, Zespri estimates that it will sell a total of 175 million trays to export markets – well up on last season’s 155 million trays.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson told Rural News the very strong demand for kiwifruit last season has continued this season.

“More consumers have been looking for healthy and nutritious foods and kiwifruit obviously fits in perfectly to that growing trend, which we also saw last year,” he says. . .

Wool campaign pays off :

An additional $78,500 has been raised for the Southland Charity Hospital after 64,000kg of donated wool was processed free of charge for sale by wool scour WoolWorks.

The cash is in addition to the hundreds of bales of wool donated by farmers to insulate the hospital in memory of Southland man and cancer sufferer Blair Vining, who died in 2019 but used his illness to raise awareness about the inequality of treatment.

He also successfully initiated a petition to the Government to create a national cancer agency.

The Bales4Blair appeal was spearheaded by South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie, with the goal of collecting bales to be turned into insulation for the Invercargill hospital; 181 farmers and businesses made donations through 21 wool stores. . . 

2021 and Beyond – the future of agriculture – Stephen Burns:

Where is agriculture at the moment and where is it going?

That is the background to a forum to be held in Temora on July 27, 2021.

With high prices for their commodities and record values being paid for farming land, it would be understandable to assume primary producers are enjoying a ‘purple patch’ of returns which might induce a sense of complacency.

That is the last emotion Craig Pellow, director of agency QPL Rural, Temora, wants to see happen to famers who have survived many years of drought, so he is hosting this forum. . . 


Rural round-up

26/06/2021

Farmer lobby groups defend teaching resource on climate change – Catherine Harris and Kate Green:

A teaching resource on climate change produced by meat and dairy interests is being criticised as targetting schools with a one-sided view on farm emissions.

The information focuses on the “important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population”.

Co-authored by Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, it explores “the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system”. . . 

Growing farming wellbeing awareness :

Working in the agri-nutrient sector, Calvin Ball says he has seen a significant change in farmers’ attitudes to health and safety in recent years.

Ball, the Northern 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, grew up on a Northland dairy farm, studied agriscience at Massey and began his career with an agri-nutrient company in 2013. After his OE in London, he returned to the company and is now Northern North Island regional sales manager, heading a team of nutrient specialists.

“Going out on farms, I have seen farmers’ attitudes change significantly since 2013,” Ball said.

“Back then, many could be pretty dismissive in their response to conversations about health and safety, but now they are much more on board with the requirements and attitudes are very different.” . .

Being green and profitable – Peter Burke:

A major, three-year research project is underway in Taranaki to see what can be done to practically reduce the environmental footprint of dairy farmers and, above all, ensure that farms remain profitable. Reporter Peter Burke looks at the initiative and how it’s progressing.

The project is led by Dairy Trust Taranaki in conjunction with Mark Laurence – DairyNZ’s regional leader in the province.

He heard about the trust working on a project called ‘Future Farming’, which was designed to see what farming might look like in the future with greenhouse gas and nitrate restrictions, as well as new animal welfare requirements, and still be profitable. . .

Icebreaker chief makes switch to carpet and wool company Cavalier :

The former chief executive of merino clothing company Icebreaker is heading to the strong wool sector.

Greg Smith will take up a new role as chief executive of the New Zealand carpet and wool company Cavalier in July.

The listed company last year announced it would stop producing synthetic carpets and would shift to wool-only.

Cavalier chair George Adams said Smith had extensive international business experience, running iconic New Zealand companies and helping them to scale on the world stage. . .

Focus turned to non-mānuka honeys at beekeepers’ conference :

Beekeepers from around the country have gathered in Rotorua to discuss challenges facing the industry.

The annual Apiculture Conference is being held over the next three days and is expected to attract about 900 people from the sector.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said one topic of discussion would be finding ways to add value for non-mānuka varieties – to solve the issue of low prices and an oversupply.

“The mānuka story has been very, very successful and has been a great platform to leverage New Zealand honey on the global market and what we’re saying is, it’s time for the other honeys to shine as well. . .

Defra unveils new green fund for farmers in National Parks:

Farmers in National Parks will receive more funding to help them make improvements to the environment, the government has today confirmed.

Land managers based in England’s National Parks or AONBs will also be able to use the funds to improve public access on their land.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers based in these areas.

The government, announcing the programme on Thursday (24 June), encouraged those interested to apply from 1 July. . . 


Rural round-up

17/05/2021

Aerial inspection proves farmers well prepared for winter grazing – Peter Burke:

Environment Southland says it’s had good support from the farming community for its fly-over of farms in the region checking there is compliance for the upcoming winter grazing season.

Winter grazing has been in the spotlight in recent years with bad examples of this being highlighted in the media resulting in a major move to get farmers to adopt better management practices when managing stock grazing crops.

Fiona Young, Environment Southland’s land and water services manager, says last year the regional council overflew farms and they were encouraged to do it again by the farming community. She says they recognise that it is a really positive way to reinforce what needs to happen or to highlight potential problems before they happen.

Sustainability, good team helps build better farmers’ :

Dairy Woman of the Year for 2019, Trish Rankin, says sustainable practices and picking the best team have helped her become a better farmer.

“Every year I’ve got more and more involved not just in our own farming business but all these other passions too – the environment, DairyNZ and helping develop waste reduction projects, working with AgRecovery,” says Ranking.

“As I’ve found more gaps where I can help solve a problem, I’ve been happily developing them all.”

Rankin believes that part of looking after the land means striving towards a circular economy. . . 

Risky processes hamper M bovis efforts – Annette Scott:

More than three years in and the Mycoplasma bovis programme is still seeing farming practices that contribute to the spread of the disease.

Insecure property boundaries, mixing cattle on grazing blocks, not recording on and off farm animal movements, sharing milk and colostrum for calves between properties, single NAIT numbers for multiple properties and not recording cattle movements between those properties, shared milking platforms, and inconsistent information from farmers, continue to be risky farming practices that need to change, M bovis programme director Stuart Anderson said.

The M bovis programme has expanded the National Beed Cattle Surveillance project to target surveillance of 2019-born heifers in Canterbury, Otago and Southland.  . . 

The pros and cons of fake meat – Nicola Dennis:

Nicola Dennis examines the different categories of fake meat, including meat grown in a lab and plant based products that look like meat.

I find the fake meat “revolution” fascinating. Not because I am scared that it is going to wipe out the animal agriculture industry and leave me living in a cardboard box. In the unlikely event that the very vocal vegan minority overthrows the other 97-99% of the population, I plan to land on my feet. You were open-minded enough to read one paragraph deep into an article that might say nice things about fake meat, so I think you will also do okay in the vegetable uprising.

No, this immense mash of science and marketing is interesting all on its own, regardless of the supposed threat to my occupation. Plus it’s not all bad news.

Let’s look at the three main categories of meat fakery and what they bring to the table. . .

Mission accomplished for Bremworth’s top man – Hugh Stringleman:

Paul Alston’s departure from the job of Cavalier Corporation chief executive should not reflect poorly on the company’s all-in change in strategy to sustainable natural fibres in carpets and rugs. He spoke to Hugh Stringleman.

Cavalier Bremworth has been redirected on to the crest of a wave of product sustainability running through consumer markets for interior textiles.

Plastics and synthetics have become increasingly decried for their carbon footprints and waste pollution. 

Wool is natural, renewable, recyclable and sustainable. . .

Victorian wins National Kelpie Field Trial Championship :

For the first time in more than 50 years of working dog competitions for the kelpie breed, a woman has won the prestigious Working Kelpie Council National Kelpie Field Trial Championship.

At 26-years-old Bree Cudmore is not only the first woman to win the coveted Australian title, she is also one of the youngest competitors to claim the top honour.

What’s more she secured the win with the first dog she has ever owned.

The Victorian-based livestock overseer stole the spotlight at the 51st championships hosted in Allora, Queensland, after a standout partnership with her four-year-old kelpie, Marista Zoe. . . 

 


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. . . 


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