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. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 1, 2020

Food producers in pressure cooker – Corrigan Sowman:

We are not alone as New Zealand farmers feeling the weight of change bearing down on us. 

It is a global trend.

It has many different, complex drivers but two stand out – consumers’ willingness to pay for sustainability and farmers ability to capture it.

The resulting pressure is evident a recent survey of Canadian farmers that found 45% have high levels of perceived stress, 58% met the criteria for anxiety classification and 35% met the criteria for depression. . . 

Mission completed – Carter bows out – Peter Burke:

David Carter’s served 26 years in parliament, including time as the Minister of Agriculture and speaker of the house and now he’s going back to his old job – that of a farmer.

Recently 67-year-old Carter announced that he’s ending his long parliamentary career and heading back home to his farms on Banks Peninsular, near Christchurch.

Since his days as a student completing an Ag Science degree in the 1970s, Carter harboured the notion of becoming the Minister for Agriculture . .

Bridging the communication gap – Hamish Murray:

This is the third in a series by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars. This week Marlborough high-country farmer Hamish Murray discusses the communications gap between older farmers and the youngsters working for them.

There is an increasing breakdown in the communications between young and older farmers and both are struggling to get what they want and need out of conversations.

We have a generation of farmers raised by parents who lived through World War II, which shaped their childhoods and ment no one spoke about the emotional stuff for fear of weakness. No positive feedback was given or received for fear of getting a big head. 

Contrast that with the generations entering the workforce today who are growing up with a constant stream of feedback via social media and online lives that is so constant they never consider life could be any different. . . 

 

Making the most of wine – Brad Markham:

A Canterbury couple had to make compromises to ensure their herd was all-A2, but it was key to them owning their first farm. Brad Markham reports.

A lucrative contract supplying sought-after A2 milk to Synlait has helped Daniel and Amanda Schat buy their first dairy farm.

The Canterbury couple is in their second season milking 385 mainly Holstein Friesian cows on 103-hectares (effective) at Darfield.

Before buying the irrigated property in June 2018, they were 50:50 sharemilkers on an 800-cow farm owned by Daniel’s parents at Te Pirita. . . 

 

Hot cows, less delicious wine: The problems food growers face with climate change – Eloise Gibson:

Twenty years ago, George Moss didn’t often worry about planting trees to shade his cows. Cows in chilly Tokoroa didn’t experience searing heat.

Now, he’s at the end of two extremely hot, dry, summers and he’s started having meetings with a tree-planting company.

“We are seeing significant change in the climate down here,” he says. “We have had droughts, the daytime highs are getting higher and the winters are warmer than they were when we came down here 25 years ago.” . . 

Tightening Agricultural Property Relief ‘could devastate’ farms:

Any move to tighten Agricultural Property Relief rules could ‘devastate’ family farms across the UK, the farming industry has warned.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking at plans to make inheritance tax (IHT) rules stricter in a bid to raise around £800 million a year, the Daily Mail reports.

Currently, people can invest in agricultural land and their children do not have to pay inheritance tax on their value if they are passed on after death.

Business property relief is also in Mr Sunak’s crosshairs. This gives up to 100% off IHT if the deceased has an interest in a firm or shares in an unlisted company. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 28, 2020

Farming needs policy certainty – SImon Bridges:

Our reputation as a producer of quality agricultural products is well known around the world and the sector contributes close to $48 billion in export revenue to our economy. The primary sector provides an economic shot in the arm to New Zealand, and we want to see it continue to grow.

If there’s one thing I’ve picked up from the many farmers I’ve spoken to over the past couple of years, it’s that they want certainty. Farmers and growers already have enough variables to deal with such as the weather, interest rates, disease and international markets. There needs to be a clearly sign-posted direction of travel from the Government that allows everyone to get on board without adverse effects. . .

Former National MP Shane Ardern builds New Zealand’s ‘fastest’ cow shed – Catherine

A former politician has built what could be New Zealand’s fastest dairy shed – able to milk 600 cows an hour.

Two 40-bail rotary platforms turn like giant clockwork dials side by side, and the cows choose the one they prefer to be milked on.

Shane Ardern, who farms at Te Kiri, South Taranaki, with his wife Cathy, is still remembered for driving a tractor named Myrtle up the steps of Parliament in 2003 to protest the Labour Government’s plans to impose a ‘fart tax’ on farmers.

Ardern returned to farming in 2014 after 16 years as National’s Taranaki King Country MP. . .

Southern peas please big producers  :

The Maw family, of Mid Canterbury, has been been farming at Barrhill for four generations, dating back to 1925.

They rotate a broad range of crops including cereals, grass and clovers for grazing and seed production, vegetable seed crops and peas, which are currently being harvested for produce giant, Wattie’s.

Colin Maw has been supplying Wattie’s for over 20 years.

Wattie’s farmers had vast experience in growing the very best peas with knowledge handed down and nurtured between generations, he said. . .

 

The importance of the humble blueberry – Dr David Chagné:

New Zealand is involved in a US$12.8 million USDA grant to improve the quality of blueberry and cranberry.

The four-year project, led by North Carolina State University, is part of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which funds multi-year, multi-institutional collaborative projects.

Genomics Aotearoa and Plant and Food Research Ltd have just become part of this project, and we’re very excited about what that offers – for blueberry producers here, for the New Zealand economy, the consumer and for other genomics researchers.

But what does this actually mean for us? . .

Robotics Plus a THRIVE Top 50 agtech company:

Robotics Plus, a world-leading robotics and automation company developing innovation to unlock new levels of productivity in agriculture, has been named in the THRIVE Top 50, an annual ranking of leading global AgTech companies exemplifying the best in agriculture innovation. Robotics Plus, the only New Zealand company to make the 2020 Top 50 ranking, was just one of five companies featured in the Robotics & Automation category.

Robotics Plus CEO Dr Matt Glenn says it’s a huge honour to receive a coveted spot on THRIVE’s Top 50 global list. “We’re thrilled to be showcased in such a prestigious list alongside exceptional AgTech companies from around the world who are pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation. . . 

Don’t mess with farmers – Peter Burke:

Policymakers in Ireland have learned the lesson about demonising farmers – just don’t do it.

That’s the word from a leading Irish scientist, Dr Karl Richards from Teagasc, that country’s semi-state organisation that is responsible for R&D, training and advisory services to farmers.

Richards told Rural News, at recent seminar at Massey University, that policy makers in Ireland have realised that farmers will react badly to being constantly demonised and are less likely to react positively to improving the environment. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 26, 2020

New policy might limit farming – Neal Wallace:

Farmers fear new biodiversity policy could force councils to make them restore areas of indigenous flora and fauna on their land.

The Government has released its proposed draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which leans heavily on councils to identify, monitor and manage areas with significant indigenous biodiversity.

Within five years councils will have to identify and map significant natural areas using standard national criteria, manage any adverse effects on those areas and survey native wildlife in and outside the areas to determine if they are threatened or affected by land use activities. . .

Sarah’s Country: Are we fit for a better world? – Sarah Perriam:

Sarah’s Country’s debut episode focuses on the key elements of this vision for New Zealand that includes a swing towards regenerative agriculture, capturing the value of the billion-dollar plant protein trend and offsetting our carbon emissions with environmental integrity, not ‘thin air fake’ credits.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Kate Scott. Kate is a director of LandPro and a 2018 Nuffield Scholar living in Central Otago. . .

Farm sales start to look up:

Farm sales were down 21.6% for the three months ended December 2019 versus the year prior ­— but sales look to be lifting.

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows that farm sales increased by 22.3% in the three months ended December 2019 compared to the three months ended November 2019, with 345 and 282 sales respectively. . .

$8 payout possible – Peter Burke:

The guessing game has begun to predict what dairy farmers will get for their milk this season.

The consensus in the sector is that the price will be positive: numbers ranging from $7.15/kgMS to $7.50/kgMS, although ASB rural economist Nathan Penny is sticking his neck out and suggesting it could reach $8/kgMS.

Fonterra says its forecast is in the range of $7.00 to $7.60 with the midpoint being $7.30.

Dr. Mitloehner issues warning on increasing herd sizes – Charles O’Donnell:

While there is not necessarily a need to cut herd sizes for the purpose of climate change mitigation, increasing numbers is also not the way to go, according to Dr. Frank Mitloehner.

Dr. Mitloehner, a well-known professor and air quality specialist, was speaking at an event called ‘Climate Action in Agriculture: A Balanced Approach’ in Dublin today, Tuesday, January 21, which was organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The German-born Californian-based professor spoke out against the perceived necessity to cut herd sizes. However, when asked about the growing numbers of animals in the dairy industry, he warned that going in the opposite direction by increasing numbers would pose a climate issue. . . 

Government urged to block high carbon food imports :

Britain cannot risk importing food with a higher carbon footprint than food which has been produced in the UK, a new report says.

Released by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), it says British farming produces some of the most sustainable food in the world and that emissions from UK beef is half that of the global average.

Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK presents a detailed range of options to drive emissions reductions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2019

Hocken wins Rabobank Emerging Leader award:

Manawatu dairy farmer Mat Hocken is the winner of the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award for 2019.

Hocken is director and owner of family business Grassmere Dairy, a 1000-cow dairy operation on the banks of the Oroua River in the Manawatu.

He becomes the first Kiwi to win the award since its introduction in 2013. The awards ceremony was held in Auckland last night. . . 

New Zealand arable farmers face unfair competition from imported grain – Gerard Hutching:

Arable farmers have appealed to their dairy farmer colleagues to buy their grain rather than importing it from overseas.

Federated Farmers arable spokeswoman Karen Williams complained about the lack of a level playing field over grain sales.

She was commenting on the Feds’ latest banking survey showing 30 per cent of the arable farmers surveyed felt under pressure and they also had the lowest percentage feeling very satisfied or satisfied (60 per cent). . . 

Boomer year for OAD farmers – Peter Burke:

A leading once a day (OAD) farmer says her farm is set to have a record year thanks to a combination of favourable circumstances – especially the weather.

Christine Finnigan who farms near Rongotea, Manawatu says the warm winter has seen good pasture growth into spring and her 220 Kiwi cross cows are in good condition.

She says the original target for this season was 78,000kgMS, but says if conditions stay favourable the record of 82,500kgMS could be reached. . .

Alliance pays out $15.2m:

Alliance Group says it has paid farmer shareholders a further $1.67 million in loyalty payments.

This brings the total bonuses it has distributed for the season to $15.2m.

The latest quarterly payments were made to the co-operative’s ‘platinum’ and ‘gold’ shareholders who supply 100% of their livestock to Alliance. The latest payments cover the July to September period. . . 

Last of Zespri’s 2019 New Zealand kiwifruit crop heading to markets:

The last of New Zealand’s successful 2019 kiwifruit crop has been shipped, with four containers of Zespri Green leaving Tauranga for North Asia, unloading in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Around 70 tonnes of the Bay of Plenty-grown kiwifruit was loaded onto the APL Denver this week which is expected to reach the first port in 15 days.

Blair Hamill, Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer, says 147 million trays of kiwifruit were shipped offshore this season to more than 50 countries, with record numbers of consumers creating unprecedented levels of demand.

“Our premium Zespri SunGold and Green Kiwifruit are more popular than ever, and over the course of the season we’ve moved 44 full charter shiploads and 17,160 containers, or more than 500,000 tonnes in total, to our markets,” Mr Hamill says. . . 

Women in Scottish farming ‘downplayed’ and ‘unseen’

A ‘fundamental cultural change’ is needed to ensure that women in the Scottish farming industry are valued more, a new report has revealed.

Women’s contribution to the sector can be ‘undervalued, downplayed, or simply unseen’, it explained.

The findings are included in a Women in Agriculture Taskforce report which was commissioned by the Scottish government. Taskforce co-chair Joyce Campbell said the the report has shone light into the ‘very dark corners of Scottish agriculture.’ . .

 


Rural round-up

November 1, 2019

Why low morale in a good season? – Peter Burke:

Low morale and uncertainty in the dairy industry appear to be overshadowing the positive outlook for the sector.

The latest ANZ Agri Focus reports a huge range of positives for the sector, yet the bank’s agricultural economist, Susan Kilsby, says dairy farmer confidence is the lowest they have seen in more than 20 years.

The biggest thing impacting farmer confidence is the uncertainty about Government regulations on environmental legislation, she says.  . .

Good farmers must change too -Annette Scott:

Freshwater and climate will be the big drivers of change in balancing competing interests and farmers are not the bad ones in the equation, Ecologic Foundation chief executive Guy Salmon says.

The problem is not that farmers are bad, Salmon told the Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum at Lincoln University.

“It is the institutes and incentives they face that are not the right ones.

“Yes, we need to find new ways of using land, water and greenhouse gas.

“My core argument here is farmers are grounded in this type of thing, they have always had values and bottom lines. They could be a model in the new way of NZ we are trying to form.” . .

Rules to add costs to councils – Neal Wallace:

Regional councils face higher costs, increased staffing needs and delays in implementing water plans because of the Government’s Essential Freshwater policy proposals, they warn.

While there is uncertainty about the effects until the proposed national policy statement freshwater standards are finalised, some councils say the new standard should be incorporated as plans are reviewed but others face long and involved processes.

Six regional councils approached said they face significant costs to plans and need more staff. . .

Carbon absorption on your farm :

New Zealand farmers can now estimate how much carbon their tree blocks are sequestering.

This follows a new addition to OverseerFM. The carbon stock tool in OverseerFM uses data from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Carbon Look-up Tables to estimate the carbon sequestration potential for existing and future tree blocks on a farm.

The new tool adds to OverseerFM’s existing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions analysis tool, which models the farm’s biological emissions (methane, nitrous oxide) and carbon dioxide as well asproduct footprint. . .

Cubbie Station tours Murray-Darling councillors through its controversial cotton holding to show there’s no water – Lydia Burton and Nathan Morris :

A controversial Queensland cotton producer has opened its gates to Murray-Darling Basin councils in an attempt to turnaround its poor reputation among drought-ravaged communities.

Cubbie Station — Australia’s largest cotton farm based in south-west Queensland — has come under pressure in recent years over its water use and impacts downstream.

Cubbie CEO Paul Brimblecombe said the tour allowed local government representatives from all Basin states to see the station and the drought for themselves.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to get out on the ground and put the full story in front of them,” he said. . .

Only a small % of what cattle eat is grain, 86% comes from materials humans don’t eat – Lauren Stine:

The plant-based industry wants you to believe that crops, like soy, corn, and barley, are mostly being fed to livestock, but according to the United Nations FAO, grain makes up only 13% of global livestock feed.

Only 13% of global animal feed (all animals for food, including chickens, pigs and cattle) is comprised of grain crops, according to United Nations FAO research, and only 32% of overall global grain production in 2010 was used to feed livestock.

A staggering 86% of global livestock feed consists of materials that we cannot digest as humans, like crop residues including stover and sugarcane tops. Pigs and chickens are also monogastrics (like humans) and cannot digest these products either. However, ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, and goats can safely consume these materials and turn them into nutrient-dense protein for humans.  . .


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