Rural round-up

May 2, 2018

Rural-urban divide proves to be real – Neal Wallace:

The concept of an urban-rural divide can no longer be dismissed as a conspiracy theory given the deluge of Government decisions that negatively affect the rural sector.

The list is diverse: The end of Government money for irrigation schemes, fuel tax changes that suck money out of the regions for Auckland public transport, the end to offshore drilling for oil and gas which will affect Taranaki, the loss of air ambulance services in Taupo, Rotorua and Te Anau and the refusal to fund $600,000 for the Rural Health Alliance.

Sitting in the wings are promises of tougher regulations on water quality and taxing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. . . 

No rest for farm manager as industry awards beckon – Sally Rae:

Standing in the middle of a paddock fixing a water leak, Jaime McCrostie acknowledges there is still a farm to run ahead of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards next month.

Miss McCrostie (32) will head to Invercargill for the awards function on May 12, having previously won the 2018 Southland-Otago Dairy Manager of the Year competition.

It will be on her home turf, as she is farm manager for her employer Steve Smith and farm owner AB Lime on a 370ha, 930-cow farm in Winton.

Also representing the region will be Simon and Hilary Vallely, who won the Share Farmer of the Year, and Dairy Trainee of the Year Simone Smail. . .

Fed Farmers tenure drawing to close – Sally Rae:

Phill Hunt is looking forward to spending the next 12 months on the farm “and getting the gates swinging the way they used to”.

The sheep and beef farmer from Maungawera, near Wanaka, is standing down as president of Federated Farmers Otago at the annual meeting on May 15, after a three-year tenure.

It had been an enjoyable and interesting role, which he estimated was probably the equivalent of a two-day-a-week job, he said. . .

Class of 1980 reflects on work life 38 years after graduating from vet school – Joyce Wyllie:

In November 1980, 55 new graduates walked away from Massey vet school and into the big wide world.

It made no headline news, but for each of those fresh recipients of a hard earned veterinary science degree it was a mighty big step. Some began jobs in clinics the next week, others had a break before employment and a few headed overseas. After years of study we all left student life, joined the workforce and began contributing to the communities we had chosen to become part of.

A vet qualification leads to many job opportunities. The long list in the careers advice info covers work in clinics with large and small animals, drug companies, government departments, universities, and wildlife centres. There are opportunities in scientific research, animal welfare, areas of policies and regulations, and specialising in disciplines like surgery, eyes or medicine. Graduates from our class have filled nearly all those roles at some stage in their work-life. . .

Alliance makes loyalty payments :

Alliance shareholders will get a share of $5.9 million in loyalty payments.

The quarterly payments have been made to the co-operative’s Platinum and Gold shareholders who supply 100% of their stock to the company.

The payments cover January to March and bring the total distributed to shareholders for the season to date to $9.8m, an increase of 4.7% compared to the same period of the 2016-17 season. . .

In fire-scorched Oklahoma, help comes one bale at a time – Mitch Smith:

The hay began arriving before the fires were out. It came stacked on pickup trucks and strapped onto semis. From a few counties away. From halfway across the country.

For ranchers whose grazing land was destroyed by wildfires that tore across western Oklahoma this month, the cylindrical bales were an economic lifeline, a way to feed cattle marooned on grassless patches of charred red soil. The hay was also free, provided not by lawmakers in Washington or Oklahoma City, but mostly by strangers in other corners of rural America.

“If we waited on the government, we wouldn’t have it,” said Leo Hale, a local business owner who volunteered for 12-hour shifts distributing hay at the Vici rodeo grounds. Vici, population 700, was hit hard in the fires that scorched nearly 350,000 acres across the region, left two people dead, and blackened mile after mile of pasture. Donated bales of hay arrived from Kansas, Texas, Michigan and other parts of Oklahoma. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 9, 2018

Watch mates farmers told – Kerrie Waterworth:

Otago farmers are being asked ”to keep an eye on their partners and neighbours” as the stress from the drought, or what has been termed a medium-scale adverse weather event, continues.

Otago Federated Farmers president Phill Hunt said the rain last week was a big boost to the farming community but ”it’s not over yet”.

”The rain and the cooler temperatures have been very welcome; in particular the rain has filled up a lot of dams both for stock water and for irrigation.”

”People who have put infrastructure in for irrigation have been staring down the barrel of not being able to use it; a very expensive clothes line is how it was described to me by one farmer.” . . 

Two more farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis:

The number of properties with the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has risen, with 23 farms now infected.

The latest properties are in Southland and the Waitaki District.

First found in South Canterbury in July last year the disease is now spread from Southland to Hawke’s Bay.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has 38 farms in lockdown and said it was still aiming to eradicate the disease. . .

Friendship and farming for Hugh Abbiss and Patrick Crawshaw in Takapau – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay friends and workmates, Patrick Crawshaw and Hugh Abbiss, will become rivals in the East Coast Young Farmer of the Year on February 17. Kate Taylor reports.

The temperature has been higher than 30 degrees all week, so it’s no surprise to catch Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Hugh Abbiss and Patrick Crawshaw taking the chance to work inside in the shade.

They’re working out feed budgets and stock movements for the next two months as the above average Hawke’s Bay summer has given them an abundance of feed.

The pair work for Foley Farming, where the make-up of the staff is a bit different to most – with four staff, all aged under 30 and three with university degrees. . . 

New take on use of coarse, strong wool for commercial purposes – Annette Lambly:

A Northland farming couple are hoping to add value to the wool they shear from the family flock by creating high value, decorative and functional architectural products which includes a natural wall covering.

Sarah Hewlett and her husband Chris Coffey run Hewlett Point, a sheep and beef farm near Mata around 25 kilometres south east of Whangarei.

Their two young sons are the seventh generation to live on the family farm. . . 

Motion-sensor cameras on farms – Alexia Johnston:

Farmers are turning to hunting technology to protect stock from thieves.

While Parliament is debating a proposed law that would impose harsher penalties on stock rustlers, property owners are already taking steps to protect their stock.

Hunting and Fishing New Zealand Timaru owner Alister Jones said a ”huge” percentage of his sales were now going towards farmers who wanted to protect their land and property.

Previously, sales of motion sensor cameras, also known as game cameras, were predominantly made to hunters who wanted to monitor and catch animals such as deer. . . 

Irrigation an essential tool for Canterbury farmers – Sonita Chandar:

Wet spring conditions followed by a hot dry summer is creating havoc for a Canterbury Dairy farmer 

A Canterbury farmer wants whoever flicked the fine weather switch on, to switch it back to rain for a while.

Robin Hornblow and fiancée Kirstie Austin are farm managers on Willsden Farm Ltd, a 306ha farm at Te Pirita – one of several owned by the Camden Group.

This is their first season on this farm and so far, the weather has not been kind. . . 

Warning over rising facial eczema spore counts:

Farmers are being warned to keep a close eye on their stock as facial eczema spore counts rise around the country.

Spore counts are trending upwards in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, East Coast and the lower North Island, as well as in Tasman and on the West Coast.

Facial eczema affects cattle, sheep, goats and deer and can result in liver and skin damage, which can severely affect an animal, seriously reduce production and can in worst cases cause death.

It is estimated that production losses caused by the disease are around $200m annually in this country. . .

Autogrow opens virtual innovation community:

Autogrow has opened a virtual agtech and science lab and are inviting indoor ag developers, growers and enthusiasts to join in building a dynamic and innovative community.

Following on from the launch of their Jelly SDK, APIs and Autogrow Cloud platform last year, the Autogrow Lab was set up as a collaborative environment for continued research and development of control systems for indoor agriculture.

“The industry is a fragmented hardware landscape with software and data technology being introduced into the mix. Our goal is to bring much of that together in an open platform, add in the science of plant biology and create a space for discussion, invention and pushing the boundaries,” explains Chief Technology Officer Jeffrey Law. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2018

Still dry on Otago farms despite rain :

Recent rain is unlikely to be enough to break Otago’s drought. Farmers are still feeling the pressure of the extreme January heat as low water stocks start to take their toll.

Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt, of Wanaka, said farmers were still facing what some were describing as the worst dry spell in decades. The stock water supplies farmers relied on in a typical year were not available or sufficient this year, he said.

“Farmers are understandably concerned about the wellbeing of their stock and are de-stocking where needed.” . .

Pioneer to build new hydro scheme on Fraser River – Pam Jones:

A new Pioneer Energy hydro scheme on the Fraser River, on Earnscleugh Station, will generate enough electricity to power 4000 households.

Due to the altitude and topography of the area, construction would not be possible during the winter, but track construction and upgrades would begin this month, Pioneer Energy development general manager Peter Mulvihill said. The main construction of the intake, powerhouse and pipeline was scheduled to start in September.

The scheme would generate about 30GWh of power annually and should be supplying the local region by March next year, Mr Mulvihill said. . . 

Deal a good one for NZ farmers – Peter Burke:

The deal NZ has in the now-negotiated Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the best we could have expected, says NZ’s special agricultural trade envoy.

Mike Petersen told Rural News the deal is potentially better for NZ with the US pulling out of the discussions. It is effectively a series of 11 bilateral agreements between each group member, and while the US has pulled out the market access schedules have remained intact.

That means in theory that NZ has a greater opportunity to export products to the other 10 countries in the agreement, Petersen says. . .

Farmers want Healthy Rivers amendments that are practical and not a free pass – Andrew McGivern:

I would like to think that in 2018 this is, at last, when we all start finalising the Healthy Rivers Plan Change One provisions, with hearings scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

For farmers and rural communities within the Waikato-Waipa river catchments, it will be great to finally get some clarity around the rules and direction of this plan change.

This is because from a business point of view, these regulations have been operational and enforceable since it was notified back in September 2016 and are already affecting farm values and investment.

From Federated Farmers’ point of view, while we agree with the aspirations of the vision and strategy, we believe parts of the plan and some of the rules and implementation, is skewed and in need of change. . .

Sorting the wood from the trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

One billion trees. That’s a whole lot of trees.

I got an intriguing email last week.

It was from Crown Forestry, a business unit of MPI.

They were asking me if I had any suitable land to plant for the new government’s One Billion Trees programme, which is the ten-year target. To achieve, it will require new forests on up to 500,000 hectares.

This programme with Crown Forestry is but one of several initiatives to help achieve the target.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help them as I fell outside the criteria of a minimum 200 hectares, which is just over half of our farm area, but most of the other criteria like access within the block and to local roads, terrain, fertility and such applied as we are about to harvest 8 hectares of our own trees that I planted 30 years ago. . .

Rod Slater on how much beef and lamb we eat

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Rod Slater has gone in to bat for New Zealand farmers after a newspaper article suggested environmental sustainability concerns were putting the heat on meat, with rapidly declining domestic consumption of beef and, particularly, lamb.

Speaking to Jamie Mackay on The Country today, Slater said the figures in the article, including that New Zealanders are eating less than 1kg of meat each a year, were inaccurate, and Kiwis were still eating a lot of beef and lamb, though not as much as we used to. . . 

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Rural round-up

January 31, 2018

Southern farmers feel the heat as crops fail – Simon Hartley:

Rural Otago and Southland continues to bear the brunt of the heatwave and farmers are facing hard decisions on destocking and replanting failed winter feed crops.

A smattering of rain across the North Island and upper South Island was allowing farmers there to consider holding on to stock for further fattening.

But in Otago and Southland meat processors are working to capacity as stock is sold off, according to Federated Farmers Otago province president Phill Hunt of Wanaka.

“The pasture has taken a hiding, dying in places. That will have to be replaced over the next two years, at a significant cost,” he said when contacted yesterday. . .

Southern drought meeting requested with minister – Rachael Kelly:

Southland and Otago Rural Advisory groups have written to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting him to declare a drought for both provinces.

Sweltering temperatures and little rainfall have put pressure on farmers as dry conditions have reached levels not usually seen in January.

Both Southland and Otago have formed drought committees with rural stakeholders including Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, Fonterra, regional councils and MPI, and they are asking the Minister to declare a medium-scale adverse event classification.

Regions get drought  classification  – Sally Rae:

Drought in Southland and parts of Otago has been classified as a medium-scale adverse event following a request from drought committees and rural communities.

Yesterday, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced the classification – already in place in parts of the North Island and the Grey and Buller districts – had been extended to all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts.

That triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . .

Two more farms found with Mycoplasma bovis in the South Island:

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on on two more farms, lifting the total number of infected properties from 18 to 20, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

One of the new farms is in the Waimate district and the other is in Gore, Southland.

M bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

There are 11 infected properties in South Canterbury (Waitaki and Waimate Districts), six in Southland, two in Mid-Canterbury and one in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

A straight talking farmer with an appetite for risk – John King:

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it,” said late comedian Jonathan Winters.

North Cantabrian James Costello has a similar attitude farming sheep on 300ha of alluvial flats at Hawarden next to the Hurunui River.

His business remained profitable during three years of drought while many in his district did not.

James has a reputation for being an innovator and is active in the Hurunui/Waiau Water Zone committee and Landcare group. He knows you cannot be passive when faced with overwhelming odds. . .

The future of farming – Grant Leigh:

Younger generations are growing up surrounded by technology and the advancement of these technologies is ferocious.

Along with being frightening and daunting to most of us, it is also exciting, challenging and now more than ever necessary.

The biggest hurdle will not be the appetite for young farmers and supporting industries to do the job, it will be capital and viability. . . 

Federated Farmers’ Katie Milne opens up about the changing times – Michelle Hewitson:

After breaking a 118-year history of male leadership of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne wants to convince townies that rural folk are the same at heart.

When you take the head of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne, out for lunch, it’s redundant to ask if we’re going to eat meat.

“Ha! Yeah. You know what I saw on there,” she says, gesturing at the menu, “and wanted to have a go at and share? That crackling.” Have a go at! She’s a West Coast sheila through and through. I ordered the crackling. She had the beef and bacon burger and chips; I had black pudding and spuds. We were having a health lunch. “We are. We are,” she says. “It’s Friday. It’s a mental health day when you’re eating great stuff like this, isn’t it?” We cracked into the crackling. . . 

Soil health comes first then grass and livestock – Burke Teichert :

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy. . . 

 


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