Rural round-up

June 1, 2019

Treedom in Taranaki – Peter Burke:

Dairy industry critics – in fact every Kiwi – should look at the dairy farm run by Damian and Jane Roper on a small rural road near Patea, Taranaki.

There, with their children Jack, Harriet and Adelaide, the Ropers have created a model dairy farm — a haven for themselves and for their livestock, native birds and other creatures. Peter Burke reports on this remarkable yet unassuming family.

A few weeks ago Damian and Jane Roper won the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.  . . 

Support group wanted – Yvonne O’Hara:

Federated Farmers Otago president Simon Davies would like to see a support and advocacy group, similar to that established in Ashburton last month, rolled out for Otago and Southland and other regions affected by Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).

A group of representatives from the Ashburton District Council, agricultural industries and health industries has been formed to help address potential and ongoing concerns about the disease in the district to improve communication between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and relevant organisations. . . 

Fashioning a future for NZ’s natural fibres – Anna Campbell:

I have always found the fashion industry somewhat intimidating – fabulously creative designers, models who seem to walk on air and daunting trends which only emphasise how very un-funky I am.

As with many industries, the sustainability of the fashion industry is increasingly being called into question.

Designers and fashion houses are rated annually by TearFund according to their “ethics”, which incorporate environmental practices and how workers are treated (often in parts of Asia where labour is cheap).

The industry is also coming under criticism for synthetic fibres hitting our oceans via washing machine waste and the fact the average garment is worn a mere seven times (if you are a British female). . . 

Keeping an open mind – Dan Burdett:

Dan Burdett is back from his recent travels to the USA with an update on his Nuffield experience so far..

As I sit here in early May, my time in the USA seems like a world away. Looking out of the window I see green trees, glowing sunshine and the familiar black and white cows making the most of the verdant grass on offer at this time of year. For much of my time in Iowa and Nebraska all I could see as far as the eye could see was snow, grey skies and seemingly eternal miles of the great nothing that is the Midwest in winter. Even now on social media I’m seeing pictures of corn being planted as the snow falls once again.

Like all farmers across the globe, farmers in the mid west are suffering from extremes of climate that are stretching them to an occasional breaking point. After a late harvest in 2018, they had a very wet autumn followed by a much longer winter than normal. With margins being so tight there is little room for error during the farming year. . . 

Mush ado: Gore farmer swaps sheep for huskies in frozen Canada:

Six Alaskan huskies pant excitedly as they haul a red sled carrying Russell MacKay across a vast frozen lake in Canada.

The dogs’ paw prints dent fresh white snow coating two foot of ice. Their breath rises into the frigid minus 20 degree air.

The jagged, ice-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains tower above the lake, their slopes hidden beneath pine trees.

MacKay stands, steering the sled – while an excited tourist sits in front of him, shielded from the elements by a canvas cover. . . 

YFOTY: Formalising health and safety processes at Eilean Donan:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists in the 2019 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. 

During the next seven weeks we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work from managing a dairy farming to veterinary practice.

Brothers Matt and Joe McRae are in the process of formalising the health and safety processes for their family farm, Eilean Donan, in the Redan Valley in Southland and they’re finding they’ve already been doing a lot of what is required.  . . 


Rural round-up

April 30, 2019

Rural-urban divide highlighted in major new study on rural communities

New research from a major study looking at resilience in New Zealand rural communities has highlighted a disconnect between urban and rural areas.

Heartland Strong is anchored by a ten-year study led by AgResearch senior social scientist Dr Margaret Brown and involving a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand.

It looked at levels of resilience in rural communities, and what that meant for their future.

The book’s team of 14 writers found great examples of resilience and ways in which it was built by different communities.

However the research also found that New Zealand has a disconnect between urban and rural. . .

Is reducing cow numbers the answer? – Peter Burke:

he argument over whether New Zealand has too many cows is a regional issue, not a national issue, according to Ministry of Primary Industries’ chief science advisor, John Roche.

Speaking to Dairy News at the recent Agricultural Climate Change conference in Palmerston North, Roche stated that it’s too emotive to talk in general terms of there being too many cows in NZ. He says all regions are different and it’s a case of decisions being made at that level rather than taking the blanket view that NZ has more cows than it can effectively run.

But Roche says that he has concern about the cost of marginal milk. . . 

Does NZ win or lose as world agriculture gets remade for a planet of 10b? – John McCrone:

Scary things are coming down the road for New Zealand’s food industry. Like Glyph “molecular” whiskey.

Raymond McCauley, chair of biotechnology at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, already has his audience at Grow 2019 – a ministry-backed futurist conference – gripped by what is brewing elsewhere.

World agriculture is about to be remade, he warns. It is the Green Revolution 2.0 – cracking the problem of how to feed a planet that is going to be home to about 10 billion people by 2050 without completely trashing it in the process. . . 

Doing more with our milk – Hugh Stringleman:

In the never-ending debate about Fonterra’s follies and future, adding value is the constant theme.

The co-operative claims it now adds value (over the prices of standard dairy commodities) to 45% of external sales by volume, thus earning more than half of total revenue from such goods.

The added-value split is about one quarter each in consumer-ready products and food service products and half in advanced ingredients, which have added functionalities.

The external sales volume is more than 22 billion litres . . 

Still on the go with harness horses at 87 – Sally Rae:

Myrtle McCarthy describes herself as “a tiny cog” in the harness racing industry.

Yet the 87-year-old North Otago standardbred breeder is nothing short of remarkable as she continues a multi-generational family involvement.

Today, Mrs McCarthy will offer two yearling fillies at the All Aged Sale in Christchurch.

She has been breeding horses for about 40 years, since her father gave her a mare called Gypsys Chance.

The Dalgety name is synonymous with harness racing; her late father James (Jim) Dalgety operated the Belmedia stud near Kakanui and had many good horses. . . 

Graduation a celebration of achievement:

Honorary doctorates for Synlait co-founder John Penno and naturalist Hugh Wilson will be among nearly 600 awards presented at the 2019 Lincoln University Graduation on May 3.

The ceremonies will also feature posthumous awards to two victims of the Christchurch terror attacks, as well as a student who died in an accident last year.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bruce McKenzie said the graduation was a celebration of students’ hard work and achievements, and that included the posthumous awards.

“This occasion, while recognising the tragic circumstances surrounding the loss of those graduates is also about acknowledging their efforts and their time here, as well as the students who were their peers.” . . 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2019

FARMSTRONG: Putting people first comes first

A thriving Canterbury dairy farmer puts as much thought into looking after his staff as he does stock and pasture. 

Duncan Rutherford manages an operation with 14 staff, 2300 cows and some sheep and beef on a 3300-hectare property. 

He and his family are still dealing with the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. 

“It was a reasonable challenge all right. A couple of houses got fairly damaged and one is still being repaired.  . . 

Exporters’ Brexit concerns grow – Peter Burke:

New Zealand primary produce exporters’ concerns continue rising about the confusion in the British parliament over Brexit.

NZ’s agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says given the possibility of a no-deal, exporters are making contingency plans for such an event.

But they also still hope a deal will be agreed so they won’t have to trigger plans for a no-deal. The whole thing is a terrible mess, Petersen told Rural News last week. . . 

Young farming couple applauded for farm sustainability – Angie Skerret:

A farming couple applauded for their commitment to farming sustainability have a simple message for other farmers – make a plan and make a start.

Simon and Trudy Hales, of Kereru Farms, are one of eleven regional winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards – taking out the Horizons regional award.

The Hales are the fourth generation to farm the land, and have worked hard to make positive changes on their 970ha sheep and beef farm near Weber. . .

A2 Milk says lift in dairy prices may impact in FY2020 – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Company said recent increases in dairy pricing will have an impact on gross margin percentages in the 2020 financial year but it doesn’t anticipate any significant impact this year.

Dairy product prices rose for the ninth straight time in the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction. The GDT price index added 0.8 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago and average prices are now up 28 percent since the auction on Nov 20.

“We do not anticipate any significant impact to gross margin percentage during FY19 as a result of recent increases in dairy pricing as reflected in Global Dairy Trade Indices. . . 

Dairy industry tells EU ‘hard cheese’ – Nigel Stirling:

The dairy industry is digging its heels in over the European Union’s attempts to seize dozens of cheese names for the exclusive use of its own producers.

The EU has long sought to use its free-trade agreements to extend its system of Geographical Indications (GIs) and its trade talks with NZ have been no exception.

As part of the talks the European Commission has given NZ negotiators a list of 179 food names and hundreds more wine and spirit names linked to European places it says should be given legal protection over and above that provided by this country’s own system of GIs protecting names of wines and spirits introduced several years ago. . . 

Scott and Laura Simpson’s focus on data collection pays off in Inverell drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

SOME of the toughest decisions are made during unfavourable seasons but for Inverell’s Scott and Laura Simpson their efforts during the good times are making their management easier. 

The couple are into their fifth year of ownership of the 1700 hectare property Glennon, which was previously run by Mr Simpson’s parents. 

At the time they had a herd of Brangus content types so the pair moved to incorporate more Angus genetics and breed more moderate females.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 22, 2019

Staff shortages impacting on rural health – Peter Burke:

The health of rural business people – including farmers, orchardists and health facilities — is being affected because they cannot get sufficient good staff and must work longer hours to compensate.

So says rural health professional Professor Jane Mills, pro vice-chancellor of the College of Health at Massey University. She was raised on a farm in Australia and has extensively researched rural health issues.

She told Rural News that the staff shortage in rural areas is forcing many people to work extra hours beyond what is reasonable and that their work/life balance is out of sync, resulting in physical or mental health issues. . . 

Inhibitor can solve methane issue – Neal Wallace:

News the world’s first methane inhibitor for livestock will be released in New Zealand later this year has been greeted by scientists as evidence technology can solve our greenhouse gas problem.

Dutch company DSM has developed 3-NOP, a feed additive that inhibits a methane producing micro-organism in the rumen, reducing emissions by about 30% while also being safe for animals and consumers.

However, the effet stops within a few hours of feeding so it must be ingested regularly. . . 

Brexit: Should I stay or should I go now? – Stephanie Honey:

Just over a week before the Brexit deadline, the UK faces the prospect of a lengthy delay – but equally, the possibility of a “no-deal” Brexit looms larger than ever.  It is hard to predict which of these two extremes we may see next Friday.   In anticipation of no-deal, however, the UK has released a new temporary post-Brexit tariff schedule.  While most imports would be duty-free, sensitive agriculture products, including New Zealand exports of lamb, beef and dairy, would still face barriers.

If anything, the roadmap to Brexit is less clear than it was even at the start of this week.  (See our last blog here.)  The Parliamentary process has descended into chaos after “meaningful vote 3” was disallowed, under which PM May’s Withdrawal Agreement would have come back again to the House to attempt to clear the path for an orderly Brexit.   All eyes are now on Brussels.  The European Council meets on Thursday and will consider an extension – although this would need to have a clear purpose to satisfy EU member states. . . 

School and Trust boost farming – Neal Wallace:

Students at Wairarapa College are to get more farm training and career opportunities following an initiative with a Masterton community trust.

The Masterton Trust Lands Trust has provided 14ha next to the college for agricultural training for 64 years but is taking it a step further by establishing an advisory panel of local industry leaders to provide advice and expertise for the course.

More than 330 years nine to 13 students, a third of the roll, are studying agriculture this year and trust chairman Karl Taucher says the advisory panel will ensure teaching and skills developed on the farm are in line with what the industry needs. . . 

Cows are turning desert back into grassland by acting like bison – Sara Burrows:

The Savory Institute is transforming 40 million acres of desert back into grassland by “rewilding” cows and other domesticated grazing animals

Two thirds of the land on Earth is now desert or in the process of becoming desert, according to world-renowned ecologist and environmentalist Allan Savory.

If you know anything about deserts, you know that’s not good news, as neither humans nor many other species can survive very well in them.

Responsible for the collapse of many civilizations and now threatening us globally, Savory says humanity has never understood the causes of desertification. But the fact that it began around 10,000 years ago and has accelerated dramatically in the last 200 gives us a clue, he says. . . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 


Rural round-up

October 7, 2018

Quite and capable – Richard Rennie:

A farm apprenticeship course now a year old is starting to have an influence on getting more Kiwis in jobs on dairy farms.

Tirau farm apprentice Kadience Ruakere-Forbes is among the first year’s intake under the Federated Farmers’ Apprenticeship Dairy Programme, a pilot programme supported by PrimaryITO, the federation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . . 

Dairy database rules under review – Hugh Stringleman:

The valuable core database of the New Zealand dairy industry is subject to a regulatory review by the Ministry for Primary Industries, to which organisations and people can make submissions.

Consultation will run for six weeks until November 12 and any submission becomes public information, MPI said.

The key issue is whether the regulated dataset remains well aligned with the dairy industry’s current and future animal evaluation needs. MPI said there has been some concern expressed among dairy genetics companies about the management of herd improvement data. . .

Huge costs of pasture pests – Peter BUrke:

Grass grub and porina are causing $2.3 billion of damage to New Zealand pastures annually, according to an AgResearch study.

Of the total estimated annual losses in average years, up to $1.4b occurs on dairy farms and up to $900m on sheep and beef farms.

But scientist Colin Ferguson says this figure relates only to the damage to pasture and doesn’t include the cost of replacing the pasture, destocking and restocking and the long lasting damage to affected pasture. . . 

$11m study dives into high value milk products – Peter Burke:

A five year, $11 million research project has begun, aimed at producing new high value milk products.

Led by Professor Warren McNabb, of the Riddet Institute, Palmerston North, the project will seek better mechanistic understanding of the various milks produced in New Zealand including cow, goat, sheep and deer.

A particular aim will be to develop new products for babies, very young children and elderly people in New Zealand and, especially, for export. . .

 

First failed WorkSafe prosecution:

Athenberry Holdings Ltd grows Kiwifruit near Katikati. Zespri buy the fruit, brand, market and sell the fruit. Zespri engaged Agfirst to sample and test maturity and quality of fruit.

Agfirst use a local packhouse Hume to collect the samples. AgFirst’s sample collector died during the collection of fruit when her quad bike overturned on rough ground next to Athenberry’s kiwifruit block.

She was employed by AgFirst who had contracted a local packhouse – Hume Pack-N-Cool Ltd (Hume). It appears the rider had taken the quad bike over steep and rough terrain away from the area where she was required to collect samples.

Her training and industry practices are that you stick to the offical and mown access paths. No-one was sure why she deviated. . . 

Gene edited food is coming to your plate, no regulation included – Lydia Mulvany:

For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a “Frankenfood” future.

Zimmerman is among farmers in several states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet-unknown peril.

In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff — in this case, polyunsaturated fats — or enhance good stuff that’s already there. . . 


Rural round-up

September 5, 2018

Angst on NAIT – Peter Burke:

A rushed change to NAIT regulations has caused growing disquiet about the haste in which the new laws were passed under urgency in Parliament.

The farming industry at first publicly welcomed the changes: DairyNZ and Beef + LambNZ approved, although Federated Farmers said they were rushed.

Many people have told Rural News that they question the hastily enacted new laws and some of the new powers given to MPI. . .

Merino wool fetching strong prices – Sally Rae:

Merino wool is fetching prices at auction not seen since the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Last week’s South Island wool sale in Christchurch was “outstanding” for merino and mid micron wool, following on from the continued strengthening in Australia, Roger Fuller, of CP Wool, said.

Australia was experiencing horrendous drought conditions, which was reflected in the prices being achieved in New Zealand.

The problem would be exacerbated next year as a lot of sheep would not survive the dry conditions, Mr Fuller said. . . 

Changes as event continues to expand – Sally Brooker:

The Otago Field Days are expanding to fit their new name as their October dates approach.

The field days are about to be held for the third time, having sprung up in 2016 as a new initiative from the Palmerston and Waihemo A&P Association.

They were initially called the East Otago Field Days.

”What started out as a small local event has clearly struck a chord with people,” chief executive and A&P Association president Paul Mutch said. . . 

Get in behind Kelvin – the thermokennel, a Kickstarter to change the lives of kiwi dogs:

A dog’s life is about to get a whole lot better thanks to a brilliant bit of Kiwi innovation.

Our hardest working farm hands, the renowned New Zealand working dog, has always had a tough but rewarding job.

All day out in the weather mustering sheep and keeping the farmer company, only to spend the night under a makeshift shelter or kennel, on an old blanket for warmth – that’s the way it’s been since this nation was founded, but one Kiwi entrepreneur thinks it is time for a change. . . 

See more at the Kelvin the Thermokennel website here.

Trial will track calves’ growth:

A trial is underway to measure the growth rates of Angus/Jersey beef calves from birth to finished product.

Initiated by Greenlea Premier Meats, the project will track about 150 Jersey x Angus calves now being born on Zach and Laura Mounsey’s Arcadia Dairies Farm near Otorohanga. 

Semen from the pedigree Angus sire Matauri Crikey G244 was supplied free by Greenlea.  . .

Salute to our struggling farmers as Royal Adelaide Show kicks off

AROUND the Adelaide Showground’s cattle, pig and sheep sheds, farmers from across the state are proving they themselves are the toughest breed.

Low rainfall and high feed prices are putting huge pressure on their incomes and forcing some to make tough decisions about their future.

As the Royal Adelaide Show opened yesterday, behind the draw of the Showbag Pavilion and the excitement of the carnival, farmers who had travelled to Adelaide carried the weight of a tough season on their shoulders.

Among them was Michael Blenkiron, of Keyneton, in the Barossa Valley, who said many working side-by-side in the pig pavilion were “in survival mode”. . . 


Rural round-up

August 31, 2018

Commissioner releases research on the contribution of New Zealand’s livestock methane to global warming:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, has today released new research on the impact methane from New Zealand’s livestock has on global warming.

“I hope this new work will help promote debate on reducing methane emissions that is grounded firmly in science.” . .

Farmers face pressure under climate change legislation – Eric Frykberg:

Farmers’ hopes of getting an easy ride in climate change legislation has been dented by the combative stand on methane taken by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The commissioner said to prevent global warming, methane emissions would have to fall by 10 to 22 percent below 2016 levels by 2050.

There would then need to be further reductions by 2100. . .

B+LNZ welcomes PCE report on livestock methane emissions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on livestock emissions which recognises the difference in the warming potential between short and long term greenhouse gases.

The Commissioner’s report says that if New Zealand wishes to ensure that methane from livestock contributes no additional warming beyond current levels, methane emissions from all livestock will need to be reduced from 2016 levels by between 10 – 22 per cent by 2050, and 20 – 27 per cent by 2100. . .

Methane report shoots down ‘must be zero’ claims:

Another research paper – this one from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment – shoots down the claims that New Zealand must reduce its livestock methane emissions to zero, Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The paper, based on modelling by Dr Andy Reisinger of the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, suggests that to ensure no additional warming effects beyond current levels, methane emissions would need to be reduced by 10-22 percent below 2016 levels by 2050, with further reductions by 2100. . .

Snacking taken to a new high by Fonterra beverage – Peter Burke:

Fonterra is launching a milk beverage to tap into the emerging consumer trend called ‘snacking’.

The aim is to replace pies, crisps and sugar-filled soft drinks. Production is by new technology at a new plant in a deal with an apple juice processor. In a large industrial area near Hastings, Apollo Foods has set up a new processing plant, the brainchild of apple industry entrepreneur Ross Beaton who intends to make a quality, long life apple juice.

But the plant can do more than process apples: the technology is perfect for producing quality long life milk beverages, which Apollo has agreed to do for Fonterra. . .

Is agritech destined to save New Zealand?:

Agritech could be destined to save the New Zealand economy, leading New Zealand tech expert Graeme Muller says.

The tremendous worldwide demand for food continues to soar with some estimating the market to be worth $US3 trillion and much of the growth coming from specialty and healthy foods, Muller, the NZTech chief executive, says.

He is one of 30 New Zealand agritech delegates attending the Silicon Valley forum agritech immersion programme this week in San Jose, California, and they are finding that New Zealand is well placed to respond to the substantial changing demands. . .

Strong exports push King Salmon earnings – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Strong export growth in its lead North American market and in Asia pushed New Zealand King Salmon to record operating earnings in the year to June 30.

The result would have been stronger had the company not experienced high mortality among its salmon stocks because of high Marlborough Sounds water temperatures.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – the benchmark measure the company used for forecasts in its prospectus before listing on the NZX in 2016 – came in at $26.2 million, a 21 percent increase on the previous financial year and 17 percent ahead of prospectus forecasts. . .

 


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