Rural round-up

September 8, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Revelations in the cow shed – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$4.7 million in funding for SVSS from MPI:

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

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

Campaign to boost British venison amid fall in demend :

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

September 5, 2020

Local farmers in competition final – Sally Brooker:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water the word on farmers’ minds – Sally Brooker:

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

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

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

“It was priced accordingly.” . .

Sell venison or risk loss say experts – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

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

White Rock Station’s revival – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

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

New digital campaign thanks NZ farmers:

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

August 15, 2020

Letter to the Prime Minister from New Zealand butchers:

Dear Prime Minister, 

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

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

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

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

Feds backs the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working dog heading for retirement – Sally Brooker:

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

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

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

Woollen mask sales spike – Annette Scott:

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

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

“Face masks are out of stock.

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

Available again for purchase September 1.”

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

Lancashire farm welcomes yoga classes alongside cows – James Holt:

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

August 6, 2020

No tears over RMA overhaul – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farm changes help environment:

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

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

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

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

Wetland aims for water quality rise:

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

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

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

Cheesed off by cheap imports – Sudesh Kissun:

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

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

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

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

How one woman fell in love with dairy farming:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

July 22, 2020

Alternative labour sources needed – David Anderson:

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

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

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

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

Desperate lobbying for the status quo – Elbow Deep:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope high for wool’s future :

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

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

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

Trusts to get extra help – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

June 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

The challenge of meeting environmental rules – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

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

Study beefs up meat’s importance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rail supporting Hawke’s Bay drought relief:

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

June 10, 2020

Why we need a national food strategy – Lindy Nelson:

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

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

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

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

Farmer picked for National in Wairarapa – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

High prices for gold kiwi fruit licenses :

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

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

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

From willows to whitebait :

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

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

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

Wool plan delays frustrate sector – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

June 6, 2020

Farmers facing undue Govt pressure – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

Intervention groups plan early action on winter grazing issues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

June 5, 2020

Saving livestock and saving lives – Peter Burke:

With $1 million now behind them, Hawkes Bay Rural Advisory Group is working to get as many farmers and livestock through winter as possible.

“We’ve got to get every farmer through the winter and save as much stock as possible.” That’s what chair of the Hawkes Bay Rural Advisory Group (RAG), Lochie MacGillivray, told Rural News.

MacGillivray’s been tasked with dispensing the recently established $1 million special mayoral and government fund set up to pay for transporting much-needed stock feed to the drought-stricken region. . .

 

Wairarapa farmers determined to win over Kiwis with love of wool – James Fyfe:

Auckland-born Kate Tosswill never imagined she’d end up living on a farm in the Wairarapa.

Now, not only is she loving the rural life, but she’s determined to prove she can overcome the odds and help Kiwis fall in love with wool again.

Tosswill, who lives with her husband and two young children on the Bagshot Farm 20 minutes from Masterton, is on a mission to breathe life back into the classic fibre that was once so important to the country’s economy. . .

Three new faces for Dairy Women’s Network board:

The Dairy Women’s Network will have three new faces when its board meets on Friday.

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the year 2019 Trish Rankin, Dairy Women’s Network Business Group Director Rachel Haskew and Chief Executive of iwi-owned Pouarua Farms Jenna Smith will all bring valuable varied skills and experiences, Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board Chair Karen Forlong said.

“They all have taken different paths which have led them to our board table that adds the diversity we need. They will bring an abundance of new thought and enthusiasm that links to present opportunities and challenges within Dairy.” . .

Export meat prices fall from recent highs:

Export prices for meat, including lamb and beef, fell in the March 2020 quarter, from record levels at the end of 2019, Stats NZ said today.

“The fall in export prices coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared a global pandemic in March 2020,” business prices delivery manager Geoff Wong said.

“The COVID-19 outbreak affected demand in export markets and disrupted supply chains, such as sea and air freight. . .

Red meat exports holding despite COvid-19 disruptions:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports for April was largely unchanged from the same month last year despite COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported $859 million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products in the month of April. While the overall value of exports was broadly similar compared to April 2019, there were changes to some major markets due to the impact of COVID-19.

Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27 per cent to $39.6 million compared to last April and down 30 per cent to Germany ($22 million). . .

Dairy farmers say yes to milk solids levy:

Levy paying dairy farmers have voted to continue the sector’s milksolids levy.

The one in six-year milksolids levy vote closed on May 30, with provisional results showing 57 percent of the 11,747 levy paying dairy farmers voted – and of those who voted, 69 percent voted ‘yes’ to continuing the levy.

Weighting the vote by milksolids production shows even greater representation and support for the levy, with this year’s votes equating to a 67 percent farmer vote and 74 percent voting ‘yes’. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 30, 2020

Southland on the brink – Peter Burke:

Southland is teetering on the edge of a bad situation, according to DairyNZ’s lead consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch.

He says if they can’t get rid of cull cows soon and if the weather doesn’t play its part, current problems will get even worse.

Southland is facing a major feed shortage, but not because of the drought – because of too much rain. The problem is that farmers came out of a pretty hard winter and a very wet spring, which delayed any winter crops being put in the spring, says Finch. . .

Fonterra and Air NZ race emergency protein order to the US for Covid-19 patients – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra teams have scrambled to answer an emergency call from the US for a big supply of a specialised protein product for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

After racing to make the hydrolysate product at its specialist plant which was about to close down for the season, the big dairy company chartered an Air NZ 787 jet to fly the first batch – 24 metric tonnes – direct to Chicago to be used in a medical food formula for intubated Covid-19 patients.

The SoS from a long-time big American customer came as the only Fonterra processing site that makes the special whey protein hydrolysate, the Hautapu factory near Cambridge, was preparing to shut and most of its 220 staff either to take annual leave or start annual maintenance work. . . 

Scientists understand cattle not climate villains, but media still missing message – James Nason,:

FOR a long time emissions from cattle have been lumped in with emissions from other sources as the same destructive forces for the planet in the global climate change narrative.

However, through research overseen by scientists including Dr Frank Mitloehner (right) from the University of California Davis and Dr Myles Allen from Oxford University, scientific consensus is starting to build around the point that livestock-related greenhouse gases are distinctively different from greenhouse gases associated with other sectors of society (more on this below).

Dr Mitloehner, an internationally recognised air quality expert, explained to the Alltech One virtual conference on Friday night (Australian time) that the concept of accounting for methane according to its Global Warming Potential, as opposed to just its volume of CO2 equivalent, which showed that not all greenhouse gases are created equal, has now made it all the way to the International Panel on Climate Change. . . 

Deer sector ready for challenges – Annette Scott:

After several seasons of strong export returns New Zealand’s venison farmers are well positioned to overcome the severe trade disruptions of covid-19, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

But the industry and venison marketers make no attempt to sugar-coat the difficult situation they are dealing with.

Holgate said venison producers have enjoyed a good run benefitting from healthy export sales into both established and new markets. 

“In the last five years we’ve seen significant export growth in the United States, partly due to increased demand for venison in pet food while we’ve also seen strong sales in long-standing European markets such as Germany and Belgium.”   . . 

Wool export contracts shaky – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign wool buyers are threatening to walk away from contracts with New Zealand exporters as they fight to survive the global coronavirus lockdown.

That was just one factor behind a savage 25% slump in crossbred wool prices at the first auction since the local lockdown ended at Napier on Thursday.

Exporter Masurel Fils managing director Peter Whiteman said many foreign buyers were being forced into desperate measures because of shut factories as well as a collapse in demand for the textiles they produced.

“We still sell a lot of wool to Europe and the UK for spinning to make carpets. Those customers are asking us for delays. . . 

NZ olive oil makes win big Kiwis encouraged to buy local:

Kiwis are being encouraged to support local and buy world-beating olive oil made by New Zealand growers, who have won seven Gold Medals at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Olive growers from Waiheke to Wairarapa and Kapiti and Nelson to Canterbury won top accolades at the competition, considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. New Zealand punched above its weight, taking home its best ever results against 26 other countries.

Stephen Davies Howard, Owner of Loopline in the Wairarapa, won two golds, one each for his Picholene and Picual oils. He says if New Zealanders ever needed a reason to buy local, the time is now. . . 


Rural round-up

May 23, 2020

Covid-19: trusting business to work – Todd Muller:

National’s agriculture spokesman, Todd Muller on the role the Government needs to play for agriculture businesses.

As we continue to grapple with the repercussions of COVID-19, we must look at what’s working and use that as a template for other business sectors.

The kiwifruit industry has been a shining example of how it is possible to continue operating at a high capacity, while adjusting to the restrictions of COVID-19.

It has completely re-engineered its systems from harvesting the fruit, to picking the fruit, to packing the fruit and we’ve seen a bumper season with record amounts of NZ kiwifruit making their way across the world as a result.

This has also meant the industry has been able to keep 28,000 seasonal workers in employment, while recording no COVID-19 incidents. This is the sort of leadership that shows how we can keep people safe and keep the economy moving at the same time. . .

Burger run shows food folly – Annette Scott:

The plan for a food security policy is long overdue with the McDonalds lettuce shortage highlighting its need more than ever, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

It is a warning that should not be ignored.

“Vegetable shortages will become a more frequent occurrence unless we get serious about ensuring we have enough food to feed NZ. 

“Like a dog howling at the moon HortNZ has been on about the need for NZ to have a food security policy and plan.  . . 

Milk price impacts vary widely – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has published a shiny set of third-quarter numbers to cushion the impact on farmer-shareholders of a $1/kg reduction in the mid-point of its milk price forecast for next season.

Ten days before the start of the new season it released a wide-ranging $5.40 to $6.90 opening forecast – representing the difference between despair and satisfaction for New Zealand farmers.

At the same time it shrank the range for this season, now $7.10 to $7.30, and showed the big blocks are in place for a solid outcome to a tumultuous year. . . 

Family sheep and beef farm takes top regional spot at Taranaki Farm Environment Awards:

A long-term commitment to environmental stewardship has earned Rukumoana Farms the top spot at Taranaki’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards, run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

The awards champion sustainable farming and growing through a programme which sees one Regional Supreme Winner selected from each of the 11 regions involved. As a Regional Supreme Winner, Rukumoana Farms is now in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, with the winner of this national award to be announced at a later date.

Rukumoana Farms is run by the Brown family – Robert, Jane, Nick, Sophie, Will, Kate and Sam. Thiscohesive family unitissuccessfully driving this farm that has significantlygrownduring the 34 yearsthatRobertand Jane have been involved. . .

Fonterra provides performance and milk price updates:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced its third-quarter business update, narrowed the range for its 2019/2020 forecast Farmgate Milk Price, and announced an opening forecast Farmgate Milk Price range for the 2020/2021 season.

  • Total Group Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT): $1.1 billion, up from $378 million
  • Total Group normalised EBIT: $815 million, up from $514 million
  • Total Group normalised gross margin: $2.5 billion, up from $2.2 billion
  • Normalised Total Group operating expenses: $1,665 million, down $148 million from $1,813 million
  • Free cash flow: $698 million, up $1.4 billion
  • Net debt: $5.7 billion, down from $7.4 billion
  • Normalised Ingredients EBIT: $668 million, up from $615 million
  • Normalised Foodservice EBIT: $208 million, up from $135 million
  • Normalised Consumer EBIT: $187 million, up from $128 million
  • Full year forecast underlying earnings: 15-25 cents per share
  • 2019/20 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: $7.10 – $7.30 per kgMS
  • Opening 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: $5.40 – $6.90 per kgMS
  • 2020/21 Advance Rate Schedule has been set off the mid-point of $6.15 per kgMS . .

Union boss doffs hat to meat companies – Peter Burke:

Meat processing companies have gained praise for the way they handled the challenges around COVID-19 from an unlikely source – the union.

National secretary of the Meat Workers Union, Daryl Carran, who recently took up the role, says all the meat companies have played the game by the rules very well. He told Rural News that if all the problems in the sector were handled in the way that COVID has been, it would be great.

Carran says currently between 75% and 80% of meat workers are on the job and those that aren’t working are either over 70 years of age, have underlying health issues or have personal family circumstances that make it safer for them – and others in the workforce – to remain in isolation

.

 


Rural round-up

May 18, 2020

Tears as convoy of trucks deliver donated bales to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers -Aroha Treacher:

More than 600 bales have been donated to drought-stricken farmers in the Hawke’s Bay as they struggle through one of the worst droughts the region has seen in decades. A convoy of trucks made the journey to Hawke’s Bay to drop off some much-needed relief.

“It’s so good to be here with this fantastic contribution of feed that’s come all the way to the Hawke’s Bay from farmers right throughout the Wairarapa,” says David Todd of the Rural Support Trust in Hawke’s Bay.

“There were tears we’ll say, and from big truckies. There was tears, so it’s quite a big deal,” says Poppy Renton of the Hawke’s Bay Drought Facebook page.

From here, the feed will be distributed out to needy farmers through the rural support trust. . . 

12 year-old photographer brings drought struggles home:

The Jowsey family are among many Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling with drought. The daily grind of feeding and watering stock on the parched paddocks is being documented on camera by the youngest in the family, 12-year-old Selby.

A rust-coloured paddock, a trail of sheep mid-trot, rolling grey hills and and a steely grey sky.

It catches your eye, this slightly tilted image of feeding out time on a drought-stricken farm in Hawke’s Bay.

Selby Jowsey, 12, says he’s tried to capture the moment. . .

Creativity in dealing with drought  –  Peter Burke:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is taking some creative initiatives to help farmers deal with the drought gripping large parts of the country.

Promoting alternative stock feeds, staging webinars and arranging feed coordinators are just some of the initiatives.

BLNZ North Island regional manager Matt Ward told Rural News that farmers are not only concerned with the immediate problem of the drought, but how they will be in spring.

He says supplies of baleage are very limited and his team of extension officers have been working to get what feed is available to the farmers that need it most.

Budget misses the boat on water – Annette Scott:

The Budget is missed opportunity for water, Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Elizabeth Soal says.

While the covid-19 recovery fund has $3 billion set aside for infrastructure Soal is not confident water storage and reticulation will fit the Government’s bill.

“We were really excited about the opportunity unfolding for water as we face huge economic challenges.”

But the Budget failed to deliver.

“This is missed opportunity,” Soal said.  . . 

Benefit uncertain in tense times – Hugh Stringleman:

Kiwi beef producers might not benefit from a significantly reduced Australian cattle kill this year, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad says.

“Too many other factors are working in world protein markets to be sure that Australia’s expected shortfall will flow on to greater demand for our beef exports,” she said.

A predicted 17% reduction in Australian beef exports in 2020 might help stabilise world prices rather than increase them for other supplying countries.

Australia is going to do what it would in a normal year, without covid-19, and that is rebuild its herd after widespread rain. . . 

ProductionWise® and OverseerFM can “talk”:

FAR’s ProductionWise® farm recording package is now able to interface directly with OverseerFM, a development which will make nutrient management reporting a lot faster and cheaper for most ProductionWise users.

FAR ProductionWise Manager, Melanie Bates, says that enabling the two systems to ‘talk to each other’ was always a goal, and although it’s taken a while, testing shows that the benefits will be huge.

“Formal discussions with Overseer about the project began in January 2019, and late last year, the ProductionWise technical team, headed by Chris Day from Flurosat, and the OverseerFM technical team started working together to plan out the integration process via computer ‘json’ files. Chris has developed a very simple and visual way to build up the json file from recorded data in PW into OverseerFM. In simple terms, you can extract your ProductionWise data to a file that can be imported into the OverseerFM platform, allowing you to create your year-end analysis easily.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 16, 2020

Frighteningly different priorities – Peter Burke:

In the cities people are clambering over each other to get the first Big Mac or piece of deep-fried chicken, not to mention a ‘real’ coffee.

So fanatical were some individuals for a fast-food fix that they were stupid enough to risk undoing the good work of the rest of the country by not sticking to the rules of physical distancing.

Having said that, a few idiot politicians and community leaders have yielded to temptation and broken lockdown rules, setting a poor example. Their actions are insulting to the rural community – farmer, growers, people who work in meat processing plants, packhouses and other facilities to provide food for these unthinking individuals.

And don’t let’s forget all the other essential workers that are the unsung heroes of this crisis.

Nothing for our most productive sector in Budget – National:

Budget 2020 hasn’t provided anything of note for the primary sector at a time when it is leading our nation’s rebuild, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

He says the Government’s claim of ‘rebuilding better’ is nothing but a meaningless slogan for the primary sector. Muller says costly Government proposals like Essential Freshwater are still on the way, there’s no large-scale water storage funding and not enough support to secure the 50,000 workers needed to stimulate the sector.

“Covid-19 has thrown our country into a deep economic hole and we’re now relying on our food and fibre sector to get out of it.

We should be encouraging this sector to grow and maximise its potential but funding has gone backwards. With farmers and growers across the country experiencing the worst drought in living memory this season, it’s disappointing to see no significant investment in water storage,” he says. . .

Farmers want new house rules – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy industry leaders have asked the Government to amend its covid-19 ban on landlords evicting tenants after reports of dairy staff exploiting the rules by refusing to leave supplied housing as the season draws to a close.

As a result, new staff moving onto the farms can’t move into the houses in time for the new milking season in June.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said the circumstances usually involve a staff member who was exiting dairying when the new rules became law. . .

High country – isolation goes with the territory – Kerrie Waterworth:

Adjusting to the isolation of Covid-19 restrictions has been difficult for many urban dwellers but for families on high country stations isolation goes with the territory.

Duncan and Allannah McRae run Alpha Burn Station, a 4519ha high country beef, sheep and deer farm at Glendhu Bay, 15 minutes drive west from Wanaka.

Before the Covid-19 crisis their two sons, Archie (15) and Riley (13), were at boarding school in Dunedin but they had returned home and were learning online.

Mrs McRae said both she and her daughter, Hazel (10), have had to adjust to having the two big boys back in the house. . . 

Taratahi might host short courses – Neal Wallace:

The Taratahi campus could again be training young people, albeit for short-term courses introducing prospective students to agricultural careers and proviing extra skills for existing workers.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Social Development are considering funding DairyNZ to develop and deliver three-week industry familiarisation programmes at the Wairarapa facility.

The future of the campus has been in limbo since the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was put in liquidation in December 2018. . .

Want safe affordable food? Reward those who produce it – Peter Mailler;

The world is certainly a paradise for anyone looking for an issue to express an opinion about this week, but I want to take a different approach.

Rather than trotting out my take on the barley tariffs issue and the complete insanity that is diplomacy with China by media, I thought I would try to foster a discussion on an earlier opinion published in The Gauge section and constructively contest some ideas around an issue that I think goes to the core of how the agricultural sector presents itself to the rest of the country. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2020

Build more and be damned! – David Anderson:

Water storage is one of the keys to helping rebuild NZ’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, says Ian Proudfoot, KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness.

This was the message he gave to Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee on the opportunities our food and fibre industries have to lead our national economic recovery.

“We have long been the developed nation with the greatest reliance on growing and selling biological products to the world to pay for our schools, roads and hospitals,” he explained.

“Now, more than ever, the industry recognises it needs to step forward to ensure that our country is able to maintain the living standards we have become accustomed to.” . . 

Drought relief ‘too little too late’ Hawke’s Bay farmer – Robin Martin:

A Hawke’s Bay farmer says the government’s latest drought relief package – a $500,000 fund for advisory services – is a “drop in the ocean” and won’t go far to alleviating struggling farmers’ problems.

Extremely dry conditions have hit much of the North Island and parts of the South Island in recent months and in some areas, including Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay, the situation remains dire.

Grant Charteris farms deer and beef cattle at Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay.

He said today’s relief package was a case of “too little too late”. . .

Telephone diplomacy to fight protectionism – Peter Burke:

Rising protectionism is one of the major concerns of New Zealand exporters in the light of COVID-19.

NZ’s chief trade negotiator, Vangelis Vitalis, told Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee that as a result of COVID, many countries will resort to protecting their own economies. NZ exporters fear this will make it much harder for them.

Vitalis says exporters are also concerned about the logistics of getting goods to market, but they have praised the work done by MFAT, NZTE and MPI in keeping freight lines open. . . 

New farm safety initiative aims to empower women to effect change :

A new farm safety initiative aims to rally rural women to help save injuries and lives on New Zealand farms.

Action group Safer Farms has partnered with Australian woman Alex Thomas to bring the #PlantASeedForSafety Project to New Zealand.

The project profiles women from all parts of rural industries and communities who are making positive and practical improvements to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them.

With the message “save a life, listen to your wife”, it aims to raise the voices of rural women and boost their confidence in their ability to influence change and to inspire others to make safer, healthier choices. . .

Quinoa growers urged to band together and take on the world – Nigel Malthus:

One of New Zealand’s very few quinoa growers is calling on his colleagues to band together to help market their product.

Andrew Currie, who farms near Methven in inland Canterbury, believes he is one of only three commercial quinoa growers in the country. He’s the only one in the South Island and the only one with a breeding programme of golden, white, red and black quinoa varieties.

He told Rural News if there is any good to come out of the current COVID-19 emergency, it may be renewed support for locally grown produce. Currie says the post-lockdown environment will be very different.

“New Zealand farming will be the strength of our economy. Some people will need to change occupation to more rural orientated jobs.”  . .

Ag’s critical role in post-COVID recovery a unique opportunity – Michael Guerin:

Although Australia is weathering the COVID-19 storm better than almost any other nation, there is no doubt that it has dealt us a sickening blow.

And the worst is definitely still to come, as the long-term economic, employment and social effects become apparent.

However, out of the tragedy emerges a unique opportunity for Australian agriculture to lead the country out of the COVID-19 doldrums.

The NFF’s “Don’t panic. Aussie farmers have your back” campaign was highly successful in reassuring the public that our robust industry would ensure the country could feed itself.. . 


Rural round-up

May 7, 2020

Horticultural labour shortage could mean food shortage, industry warns – Eric Frykberg:

Production of some food could become a casualty of the campaign against Covid-19, the horticultural industry says.

The industry said it strongly supported the fight against the disease, but no one should be blind to its real costs.

These included the risk of some growers quitting the business for lack of markets and workers, thereby reducing New Zealand’s food supply.

The comments come in the wake of a desperate plea from a Northland producer Brett Heap who grows zucchini on 30 hectares near Kerikeri. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers desperate in drought: ‘Mother nature has got it in for us’ – Eric Frykberg:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay are becoming desperate as drought conditions continue in their region.

A series of pictures have been posted on Facebook showing dehydrated paddocks, some with barely a blade of grass growing.

Feed brought in from outside is expensive and sometimes unavailable.

Occasional rain has done nothing to dent the real problem. . .

Water quality not just farming’s problem – Peter Burke:

A report by the Government is offering further evidence that New Zealand’s freshwater is being impacted not just by farming but equally by urban development, forestry and other human activities.

Our Freshwater 2020, by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and the Department of Statistics (DoS), highlights how climate change is set to make the issues faced by our freshwater environments even worse. The report’s authors say it builds on the information presented in previous reports but goes deeper on the issues affecting freshwater in NZ.

This includes new insights on the health of freshwater ecosystems, heavy metals in urban streams, consented water takes and expected changes due to climate change. . .

Coronavirus: The harvest bubble ‘flogging the wifi’ as hand picking starts to wrap – Jennifer Eder:

Many seasonal workers in Marlborough’s wine industry are also stuck at home on Coronavirus lockdown as hand harvesting of grapes comes to an end.

All non-essential businesses were to close when the country moved to alert level 4 on March 25, but people working in the grape harvest were categorised an essential service as part of food and beverage production.

Many vineyard workers brought into the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are approaching the end of their contracts, but cannot fly home during lockdown.

Hortus owner Aaron Jay said his RSE workers were “flogging the wifi to death” on lockdown like any other household in Blenheim; chatting to people at home, and watching movies and sport. . . 

We are starting to see some hope – Meriana Johnsen:

The heart of the Gisborne economy is beating again as the forestry industry is back in full swing under alert level 3..

About 300 forestry workers lost their jobs or had hours reduced prior to the lockdown after China, which takes over 90 percent of the region’s logs, stopped doing so in February.

Eastland Port has been able to retain all 50 of its staff, and its chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum was relieved it had work for them. . .

 

New British-made camera detects crop disease quickly:

A new camera that will detect crop disease quickly and at a significantly lower cost has been developed by British researchers.

The technology could potentially save farmers worldwide thousands of pounds in lost produce, while increasing crop yields.

Traditional hyperspectral cameras, which can be used in agricultural management to scan crops to monitor their health, are expensive and bulky due to the nature of complex optics and electronics within the devices. . .


Rural round-up

April 30, 2020

Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

April 29, 2020

Young film-maker shines spotlight on mental health challenges facing the rural sector – Nikki Preston:

Farmers are baring their souls about battling with mental health issues in what can be a lonely and isolating industry in a bid to encourage others to do the same.

A short video called The Monkeys On Our Backs looks to address the poorer mental health outcomes facing the rural sector than those in urban areas by encouraging people to talk about the struggles they may be facing, and not keep their feelings bottled up.

Director Hunter Williams said he had his own mental health issues growing up so it was something that was close to his heart.

But it was after a conversation he had with a farmer at his mum’s wedding about how he also had “monkeys on his back” before sharing his story that inspired the video. . .

Covid-19 prompts iwi-owned producer to speed new planting projects – Tracy Neal:

The head of iwi-owned Wakatū Incorporation says the Covid-19 crisis demonstrates the value of staying local, of food sovereignty and the strength of community networks.

Wakatū employs up to 500 people on orchards, farms, vineyards and factories across Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough, on a seasonal and permanent basis.

It has been able to continue food harvest and production during the level 4 lockdown, with some restrictions in line with new WorkSafe practices which will continue under level 3.

Chief executive Kerensa Johnston said they were wanting to step away from conventional farming, and focus more on regenerative farming techniques in what she said was one of the country’s best growing districts. . . 

Hunters urged to follow rules :

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association (NZDA) is urging hunters to follow the new anti-COVID rules with a shift to Level 3.

“Under Level 3, hunting and some other outdoor recreation will be permitted, although with tight rules around what is allowed,” says NZDA national president Trevor Chappell.

“Those include only allowing hunting on private land within your own immediate region and bubble, and with the landowner’s permission. “Overnight trips are not allowed, and hunting must be on foot. Helicopters, quad bikes and other motorised vehicles are not permitted.”  . .

 

Meat industry stalwart signs off – Peter Burke:

A man who has spent more than 40 years in the meat industry says the best thing that happened to the industry in NZ was the UK joining the European Union in 1973.

Tim Ritchie, who has just retired as Meat Industry Association chief executive – a position he held for the last 11 years. He says Britain joining the EU forced NZ to look at the world as its marketplace and not just rely on what was essentially a single market. It also forced us to move away from primarily sending frozen lamb carcasses to the UK.

Richie told Rural News this meant the NZ meat industry had to move from being a commodity supplier of meat to producing specialty packaged cuts, which could be sent to new, high-end markets.

Buying local critical to survival of Kiwi pork industry:

 A leading Wellington smallgoods producer is urging people to buy only NZ raised and farmed pork, to help keep Kiwi’s pork farmers going during the COVID-19 response; and is launching an online store to drive demand and support the local industry.

The NZ Pork Board estimates NZ has an oversupply of up to 5,000 pigs per week. Angus Black says farmers have been under mounting pressure with the closure of cafes, restaurants and butchers during Level 4.

“Before Level 4 restrictions around 60% of NZ pork went to cafes, restaurants, producers like ourselves and independent butchers. With most of these avenues closed over recent weeks farmers are struggling to feed their stock and provide enough space to house them and ensure their welfare. . . 

Appointment of independent director to Fonterra board:

Fonterra today announced the appointment of a new Independent Director, Holly Kramer, who will join the Fonterra Board as an Independent Director on 11 May 2020.

Ms Kramer is based in New South Wales and has extensive governance, multinational, and retail business experience.

She currently holds a number of significant governance positions, including the Board of Woolworths where she is an Independent Non-Executive Director and Australia Post where she is Deputy Chair and an Independent Non-Executive Director. . . 

Coronavirus: EU proposes €80m agricultural support package:

British farmers could benefit from measures included in a new €80m package of support for the EU agri-food sector impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

The UK could apply to take part in one measure included in the support package – the private storage aid (PSA) scheme.

The European Commission proposed to grant private storage aid for dairy and meat products, such as beef, sheep and goat meat.

While the UK left the bloc on 31 January 2020, it still participates in certain policies which will expire at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December. . .


Rural round-up

April 23, 2020

Farmstrong: focus on controlling what you can:

Learning to live with unexpected challenges is the key to getting through life in lockdown for Otago farmer Luke Tweed.

Luke and his family run a 730ha sheep and beef operation in Central Otago. It’s the family farm and he enjoys carrying on the tradition. 

“I love being able to work outside and with animals but the opportunity to bring up our kids on this farm is the really big one for us.”

Tweed, his wife Bridget and their four kids have coped okay with lockdown so far.  . .

Covid 19 coronavirus: Why New Zealand’s mānuka honey exporters are smiling again – Jamie Gray:

One of the strongest harvests on record, together with a big lift in sales resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, have combined to brighten the outlook for New Zealand’s mānuka honey sector.

The harvest, which ends soon, is well up on last year, and mānuka honey is in demand overseas for its claimed health benefits.

It’s not all good news, however. Domestic sales aimed at the incoming tourism sector have been hit hard as countries go into Covid-19 lockdown and air travel subsides. . .

 

Free range chooks scoop top award – Richard Rennie:

Living a carefree life comprising a diet of bugs, apples and organic maize has earned the chickens raised by Hawke’s Bay brothers George and Ben Bostock New Zealand’s supreme food award.

The Bostock brothers were named the supreme champions for their organic whole chicken brand in this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. 

The firm was established by Ben five years ago.

Today the brothers supply organic, free-range chicken to butchers, supermarkets and the pre-covid-19 restaurant trade.   . .

Bumper maze crop despite drought – Pam Tipa:

Waikato owner-operated farmers Nacre and Anthony Maiden says the “stars aligned” this year to give them a particularly bumper maize crop despite the drought and their sandy loam soils.

However being flexible with their planting timing, good communication and use of their Herd Homes effluent all helped with their maize crop.

“We were impressed with their maize this year considering the soils we farm,” Nacre told Dairy News.  . . 

NZ’s top young Maori growers – Peter Burke:

The finalists in the inaugural Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award have just been announced.

The finalists are:

• Twenty-four-year-old Brandon Darny Paora Ngamoki Cross, 24, works as trainee orchard manager for the large kiwifruit orchard management and post-harvest company Seeka.

• Maatutaera Tipoki Akonga, who is 26, works as a senior leading hand at Llewellyn Horticulture based in the Hastings area.

• Finnisha Nicola Letitia Tuhiwai, 25 who is a packhouse manager for Maungatapere Berries, located west of Whangarei.

Smithfield shutting U.S. pork plant indefinitely, warns of meat shortages during pandemic – Tom Polansek:

Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, said on Sunday it will shut a U.S. plant indefinitely due to a rash of coronavirus cases among employees and warned the country was moving “perilously close to the edge” in supplies for grocers.

Slaughterhouse shutdowns are disrupting the U.S. food supply chain, crimping availability of meat at retail stores and leaving farmers without outlets for their livestock.

Smithfield extended the closure of its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant after initially saying it would idle temporarily for cleaning. The facility is one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, representing 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, according to the company. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 13, 2020

Confidence of farmers falls:

Rabobank’s latest rural confidence survey shows the shadow covid-19 has thrown on the rural sector.

Farmer sentiment has slipped since late last year with net farmer confidence down from 112% to -44% in the March quarter.

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris said the survey results shine a light on the psyche of farmers at a critical time for the nation. 

“The food and agri sectors will be crucial in helping to rebuild the NZ economy and Rabobank continues to have a strong, positive long-term view of the sector outlook,” Charteris said.  . . 

COVID-19: Meat processing delays forecast – Peter Burke:

COVID-19 will continue to impact heavily on the ability of farmers to get stock killed during April and May.

The impact is due to physical distancing requirements between meat plant employees to prevent the spread of the virus Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service, in conjunction with the Meat Industry Association and the processors, have just released its assessment on processing capacity across the country and the potential impact on waiting times for farmers. 

The findings show the new meat processing protocols have reduced the industry’s peak processing capacity by approximately 50% for sheep and 30% for cattle. . . 

Don’t let fear overcome you – Colin Miller:

Farmer’s Chaplain, Colin Miller on overcoming fear during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before writing my column for this month, I have had to sit by and wait this out. The reason?

Things are changing so rapidly. By tomorrow, today’s breaking news may well be out of date. There is a good chance, by the time this lands at your place, our world may be quite different again.

So yes, I will need to conclude with something that has no ‘use by date’. . . 

Stock sale options being explored – Neal Wallace:

Stock agents and venders are getting innovative to ensure seasonal trading of livestock is occurring while traditional selling methods can’t be used.

Some sales of weaner calves and deer are being held online but others are being arranged privately by agents linking vendors and previous buyers. 

Philip Wareing, who owns Arrowsmith Station in the Ashburton Gorge, had to cancel his annual on-farm weaner deer and weaner calf sales but says he is fortunate agents worked with previous buyers to ensure the stock were sold over a similar time frame to last year. 

“We’re very, very happy with that but it was at substantially lower prices than last year.  . . 

Orchard takes to web to keep pumpkins rolling out – Richard Davison:

First pizzas, now pumpkins.

A rapid diversification into home delivery is paying dividends for a previously locked-down Central Otago business.

Darryl Peirce runs Peirce Orchard at Millers Flat — better known to passers-by as The Pumpkin Place — which a fortnight ago was forced to shut down its roadside shop to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

Reacting quickly to the change in circumstances, he activated fruit and vege home delivery website theorchardshop.nz, and appealed to the Ministry for Primary Industries for registration as an essential service. . . 

 

UK’s native breeds could ‘flourish’ post-CAP, charity says:

The UK’s native breeds could flourish and grow their demonstrated value to the countryside post-Brexit, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust has said.

The latest Watchlist, the charity’s annual barometer of breed numbers, shows that native breeds have a ‘sound platform’ for reviving in numbers post-CAP.

RBST says native breeds could bring ‘new levels’ of environmental, economic and cultural benefit to agriculture and to rural communities. . . 


Rural round-up

April 8, 2020

It’s okay to not be okay – Jamie Mackay:

 A recent personal tragedy has made The Country host Jamie Mackay reconsider his stance on mental health.

I’m ashamed to admit it, especially as there is a history of mental illness in my own family, but until relatively recently I was a bit blasé about mental health.

Back when my grandmother was a young mother under considerable stress raising six kids, she had what was at that time called ‘a breakdown’. She was sent off to a mental institution (as they were known then) three hour’s drive away.

We were often packed into the car when my father went to visit her, but we were never able to see her. She lived until I was 16 years of age, but I never met her. As a family we never talked about her, other than to acknowledge that she was institutionalised. . . 

Rural sector vital to recovery, despite confidence dip – David Anderson:

COVID-19 is negatively impacting New Zealand’s rural sector confidence.

The declining confidence comes as the country’s primary industries prepare to shoulder some of the heavy lifting for economic and social recovery, claims specialist rural bank Rabobank.

New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris says the bank’s latest rural confidence survey shines a light on the psyche of farmers at a critical time for the nation.

“The food and agri sectors will be crucial in helping to rebuild the New Zealand economy and Rabobank continues to have a strong positive long-term view of the sector outlook,” he says.  . .

Fruit, wine industries respond to coronavirus with vintage Kiwi adaptability – Georgia-May Gilbertson:

Kiwis are stepping in to cover a shortage of backpackers and overseas seasonal workers in the fruit and wine industries.  

For the last few years the kiwifruit industry has experienced a labour shortage when it comes to harvest, but New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) president Nikki Johnson says covid-19 has changed that. 

“The way that our labour situation is laid out is that about 50 per cent are New Zealanders,  25 per cent are working holidays visa workers or backpackers, then 20 per cent are RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) workers,” Johnson said.  . . 

COVID-19: Growing interest in NZ sheepmeat in China – Peter Burke:

Chinese consumers are increasingly positive about New Zealand-produced beef, lamb and mutton in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a social media analysis by Beef + Lamb New Zealand. 

B+LNZ’s market development team says it is monitoring Chinese consumers’ perceptions of the protein market, the perception of protein origin, and the changes in retail channel choice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The red meat grower organisation has published a report summarizing the latest findings, which can be found here:

Click here to view the full report. . . 

Coronavirus: The harvest bubble ‘flogging the wifi’ as hand picking starts to wrap – Jennifer Eder:

Many seasonal workers in Marlborough’s wine industry are also stuck at home on Coronavirus lockdown as hand harvesting of grapes comes to an end.

All non-essential businesses were to close when the country moved to alert level 4 on March 25, but people working in the grape harvest were categorised an essential service as part of food and beverage production.

Many vineyard workers brought into the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are approaching the end of their contracts, but cannot fly home during lockdown. . . 

‘Massive disconnect’: Helen Skelton urges public to respect farmers:

Television presenter Helen Skelton has said there is a ‘massive disconnect’ between food producers and the British public.

The BBC presenter, who currently hosts Springtime On The Farm, urged consumers to have greater respect for farmers.

The 36-year-old grew up on a farm herself, and has a ‘huge amount of respect’ for those who produce the nation’s food.

“Now I live on the edge of the city, and there’s a massive disconnect between food producers and the rest of the country,” she said. . . 

 


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