Rural roundup

May 27, 2018

Vet answers pressing Mycoplasma bovis questions:

Trying to stop the spread of Mycoplasma bovis can be a complicated process, with some confusion around winter grazing and Gypsy Day, where stock is moved between farms.

Central-Southland vet Mark Bryan spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay and Andy Thompson in a bid to answer some questions surrounding Mycoplasma bovis.

What happens if you send animals away to grazing and while they’re there some other animals are classed as infected? Do your animals become infected and can you bring them back home?

Bryan says farms that are under restriction, (Infected Properties (IPs), Restricted Place (RP) and Notices of Direction (NOD), can only move to other restricted farms. . . 

MPI ‘slow, uncoordinated’, under-prepared in M bovis response:

One of the owners of the South Canterbury farm where Mycoplasma bovis was first found says MPI has been slow, uncoordinated and under-prepared in its response to the disease.

Wilma Van Leuuwen said she knew the farmer who managed the Waikato farm where the disease was found in December.

“It was traced to them, up there in Cambridge in December, and nobody came on the farm to do testing straight away.

“That person was able to trade stock or do whatever he wished until February when they locked him down and started doing the testing – and they didn’t even notify it until May that he was positive. It’s rather slow.”

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was never prepared to manage the disease, and would never have enough staff to cope with it now it had spread throughout the country, she said. . .

‘M. bovis’ outbreak devastates couple’s life – Sally Rae:

Thousands of cattle have been slaughtered because of Mycoplasma bovis, but there has also been a very real human cost.

Until Wednesday, former Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) sharemilkers Sarel and Mary Potgieter were living in a leaking caravan in Australia.

They had been forced to sell anything they could, including household items, to pay debts, and both were now taking anti-depressants, Mrs Potgieter said.

They also had the “heartbreaking” sight of watching the cattle in their charge dispatched for slaughter, including pet cows.

“On the last day, myself and Sarel could not face it. But the worst was the newborn calves that MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] instructed pet foods to shoot and slit their throats,” Mrs Potgieter said. . . 

Infected farm’s use of distant vet concerns– Sally Rae:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has expressed concern over the use of distance veterinary services in light of news the farm at the centre of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was using a vet clinic about 1600km away.

It is understood Southern Centre Dairies in Southland, owned by Alfons and Gea Zeestraten, which is believed to be the first farm infected, has been using a Waiheke Island-based vet clinic.

Vets on Waiheke manager Stephen Gilmore confirmed to RNZ’s Checkpoint programme that his wife Alexandra was the vet responsible for the Zeestraten herd, and had been for two years, and that they tried to make six-monthly visits to the dairy farming operation.

In a statement, NZVA president Peter Blaikie said the association did not know the details and could not comment on the specific situation. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis: do we need to go so fast and should the North and South Islands be managed separately? – Keith Woodford:

[This is a letter that I sent today (25 May 2018)  to the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor]

Honourable Damien O’Connor
Minister of Agriculture 

Greetings Damien

Mycoplasma bovis

I am writing this to you because of the huge decision that Government has to make on Monday. It is an open letter, because there are issues which all New Zealanders need to be informed of.

In a perfect world, we would all hope for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis. But the world is not perfect, and there are no good solutions. Unfortunately, there are real risks that an ongoing policy of eradication is one where the medicine is worse than the disease.

I have been following developments since the first identification of an infection, this being the Tainui property owned by the Van Leeuwen Group and share-farmed by Mary and Sarel Potgieter. I contacted the Van Leeuwens at that time, and I have written about Mycoplasma on six occasions since then (at my own website  . . 

‘Your support brought me to tears’: Glen Herud on life after his Happy Cow story went viral – Glen Herud:

His company has been liquidated, his mobile milking shed sold for a song. But Glen Herud is not giving up on his ethical milk mission.

Last month, we hit the wall and shut the doors – but our customers encouraged us to go on.

I founded the Happy Cow Milk Company in 2012, and my mission was to create a more ethical and sustainable diary model.

In April, I faced the hard reality that I couldn’t do it. I was out of money and out of energy. But when I announced I was shutting down, something amazing happened; this passionate community of supporters told me not to give up. . . 

 

We should value our workers, says 2018’s Central Otago Young Fruit Grower:

Hamish Daring from Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, Cromwell has been named Central Otago Young Fruit Grower of the Year, following a day of intense competition in Cromwell today.

The competition saw six of the region’s top young orchardists engage in a series of challenges designed to test the skills needed to successfully run a thriving fruit-growing business. Events included tractor maintenance, pest and disease identification, and first aid.

Hamish, 21, is a third generation horticulturist who cut his teeth helping set up Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, just north of Cromwell, in the summer of 2012/13.  . . 

NZ Meat Board chases higher returns from $70M of funds now held in term deposits – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Meat Board will increase the risk profile of its $70 million of reserve funds, adding shares to what is now mainly held in term deposits in a bid to lift returns.

The shift to a balanced portfolio is aiming to achieve a return of at least 3.3 percent “after all investment, funds management and custodial costs, inflation and any tax drag” are deducted. It generated interest income of $2.3 million in 2017, a yield of 2.95 percent, according to its annual report. . . 


Rural round-up

December 13, 2017

SFF forecasts record spend – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms is forecast to spend more than $230million on livestock this month – its biggest monthly livestock spend so far – as high volumes caused by dry conditions and high prices make their mark.
In an update to suppliers, chief executive Dean Hamilton said the warm weather being experienced throughout the country had pushed stock processing levels higher than normally seen in December.

Plants had been brought on early because of the rapid dry-off after good spring growing conditions and the company had recruited more than 1000 new seasonal staff, who had been trained over the past month. . .

Droughts are not ‘declared’ – so what makes a drought ‘Official’? – WeatherWatch:

WeatherWatch.co.nz head forecaster Philip Duncan speaks with the Ministry for Primary Industries to make sense of it all.

Parts of New Zealand are very dry now, which is concerning many farmers and growers up and down the country with many asking us if we are going into a drought.

But what actually is a drought and who decides if we are in one?

The process may not be quite what you think:

It’s a myth that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) “declares a drought”. In fact, the Government doesn’t declare a drought is present just like they don’t declare a river is flooded, or that there is snow on a mountain. However the Government may provide recovery assistance if it is requested, when it meets the criteria under the Primary Sector Recovery Policy. . .

Sometimes we’re mean to our cows – Dairy Carrie:

Well this is awkward. I have spent the last two years talking about our farm and how much I love my cows. If you have read more than a few posts here I hope that you understand my deep love for the cows in my care, “my girls“.

That being said sometimes I am mean to my cows. If you were to ask me if I have ever hit one of my cows I couldn’t tell you no without lying.

I am going to let you in on a secret, PETA and Mercy For Animals have shown you some truth in their undercover videos on dairy farms. The truth is sometimes as a dairy farmer I am mean to my cows.

I think it’s time we talk about “down” cows. . . 

Italian farmer wages lonely battle against a continental tide of superstition – Mark Lynas:

Near the north-eastern Italian town of Pordenone, where the fertile plain stretches between Venice on the Adriatic coast and the foothills of the Alps, one man has been waging a lonely battle against superstition.

Giorgio Fidenato is an unlikely warrior. He is a small-holder farmer, growing maize (corn), tomatoes and soybeans on just five hectares of cultivated land that was handed down to him from his father.

But Fidenato is also a campaigner. As chair of the local farmers federation he pushes for more sustainable agriculture and lower pesticide use — an effort that has driven him into an unlikely confrontation with environmentalists and even the Italian state.

Maize is an important food in the region. The local staple is maize-derived polenta rather than the more famous Italian pasta, which is derived from durum wheat. . . 


Rural round-up

December 9, 2017

Culling continues, MPI quashes ‘stories’ – Sally Brooker:

Cattle culling is continuing on the South Canterbury dairy farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis.

All cows have been removed for slaughter from the first two farms in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ ”depopulation” programme.

The number of farms where the bacterial infection has been confirmed since July remains eight, and 21 properties are still under quarantine restrictions.

After all the infected herds are culled, the farms will be disinfected and go into a stand-down period when no cattle will be allowed there.

The ministry has quashed what it said were ”stories circulating in the farming community that M. bovis survives in soil for years”. . . 

Farmers withdraw appeal to save ratepayers’ cash:

Farmers have pulled the plug on an expensive Environment Court hearing but are deeply disillusioned Invercargill City Council turned its back on an option to amicably settle points of difference.

They are disappointed the rural sector is under relentless pressure to deal with contaminants but the city council is being allowed to discharge stormwater containing untreated human waste into some of the same waterways farmers are working hard to improve.

In October four Southland farmers jointly appealed Environment Southland’s decision to grant Invercargill City Council (ICC) consent to discharge urban stormwater into five local waterways.

The discharges include stormwater from roads, hard stand areas, roofs and permeable surfaces, as well as drainage water.  The ICC has acknowledged this stormwater includes raw sewage, due to the deterioration of infrastructure and incorrect pipe connections. . . 

Reducing nitrogen leaching discussed – Sally Brooker:

Pastures containing plantain and Italian ryegrass could help reduce nitrogen leaching without compromising productivity.

At a North Otago Sustainable Land Management (Noslam) workshop at Weston last week, two scientists from the Forages for Reduced Nitrogen Leaching discussed a six-year programme across the dairy, sheep and beef, and arable sectors, involving nine Canterbury farms.

Paul Edwards, from DairyNZ, said the study looked at plants that were better able to take up nitrogen from the soil and that contained less nitrogen themselves. Pasture that reduced the amount of nitrogen a cow took in and had improved metabolisable energy content would improve animal performance and reduce leaching from urine patches. . . 

Dry weather brings warnings – Neal Wallace:

The country could be headed for drought with no widespread rain expected for the next month to provide relief from the sweltering start to summer, Weather Watch head forecaster Philip Duncan says.

Farmers have contacted him concerned at the dry conditions and with little obvious respite he has warned the Ministry for Primary Industries there are signs the country could be in the early phases of a drought.

“I think we’re going into one but it is a long way off being declared.

“It is very dry and some areas on the east coast of both islands and north of Auckland towards Whangarei are the areas to watch. . . 

Advice for irrigators over a long, dry summer:

With much of New Zealand experiencing exceptionally dry conditions, IrrigationNZ has some advice for irrigators on how to make the most efficient use of water over summer.

According to NIWA, several areas in the South and North Island came close to or broke low rainfall records during November, with rainfall well below normal for much of Canterbury, the West Coast, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu-Whanganui, and parts of Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty. . . 

Why demand for British wool is unravelling – Howard Mustoe:

It is in the finest carpets, it is in Harris Tweed, and now you’ll even find it in top-of-the-range beds; but at £1 a kilo, UK wool hasn’t been this cheap in seven years.

Only 14 months ago, it was worth 30% more. So why is wool coming down in price and how come the cost of that soft woollen jumper isn’t coming down as well?

According to Jo Dawson, who has spent 20 years in the wool trade, there are a number of reasons which have combined over time. Since sheep make wool come what may, if wool demand drops, prices can suffer quickly if fleeces go unsold. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 30, 2017

Mouldy hay bale discovery leads to new NZ cheese – Adriana Weber:

A discovery in a mouldy bale of hay has led to a new type of cheese its makers hope will put New Zealand on the map.

Whitestone Cheese, a family-run business based in Oamaru, has discovered a new, local blue mould culture.

Chief executive Simon Berry said he spent about six months trying to find a version of Penicillium roqueforti, originally found in limestone caves in France.

He and his head cheesemaker set out to swab similar caves in Otago, and had come close to calling it quits when they received a timely phone call. . . 

Our world of cheesecraft :

We’re often asked, how many of your cheese recipes come from the New World versus those based on old recipes? Great question…

 Cheese is just like wine, their heritage styles date back to old Europe and Middle East. And just like wine, each little village in Europe put their own twist on cheese recipes to forge their own style. Such as Camembert being from Camembert, while Brie is from Brie.

 This Old World would soon branch out into the new. As civilizations split and expanded around the globe, up popped the New World producers. In the case of wine, California’s Napa Valley, South Africa, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand all joined this group. They each made the most of similar climatic conditions to grow European grape varieties and developed their take on traditional wines.

 It’s exactly the same with cheese. Thousands of miles from the traditional home of Brie and Camembert, at Whitestone we discovered that the local great grass growing combined with fantastic dairy meant we could produce European style cheeses. The result was a Mt Domet Double Cream Brie, Waitaki Camembert and Lindis Pass Brie all named after local source icons, stamping our kiwi regional characteristics to these classics. . . 

Storm hits early crop of cherries – Tom Kitchin:

One Teviot Valley orchardist says between 30% and 40% of his crop was damaged because of the sudden torrential Central Otago downpours.

He has also had to lay off staff for the next 10 days.

Other orchards in the valley and Alexandra-Clyde area have fared somewhat better.

The Teviot Valley orchardist, who did not wish to be named, said his first varieties of cherry, Burlat and Earlise, were severely affected by Sunday’s downpour.

He said his varieties of cherries came earlier than other pre-Christmas and post-Christmas varieties.

About 30% to 40% of his crop was damaged by 50-60mm of rain, so he had to lay off staff.

”Roxburgh’s feeling it at the moment. I employ local people. I feel sorry for them.” . . 

Synlait founder Penno to step down as CEO after 12 years, will remain a director –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno is to step down after 12 years leading the Dunsandel-based milk processor, whose shares have almost tripled since listing in July 2013.

Penno will step down in the next 12 months in what the company said would be an orderly transition. He will stay on during an international search for his successor.

Penno, who has spent a total of 17 years with the company, said he was ” looking forward to getting back to my entrepreneurial roots and will be looking for opportunities to get involved with start-ups and young companies, which is where my wife, Maury, and I want to continue to make a contribution.” . . 

Celebrating the Kiwi inventor who transformed dairy farming:

Global dairy equipment company DeLaval today celebrated 100 years since the launch of the world’s first commercially successful milking machine by sharing the story of an unknown Kiwi inventor.

At an event held in Hamilton today, the company recognised the vision and innovation of Norman John Daysh. In the early 1900s, Norman invented the first commercial vacuum-pump milking machine that went on to revolutionize the dairy industry.

Norman’s grandchildren John Daysh and Mary Daysh were the guests of honour at the centenary event. John Daysh said he is thrilled his Grandfather is receiving recognition one hundred years after his machine was launched to the world, saying it’s been an untold story until now. . . 

Famous Cambridge stud sold:

One of the country’s most famous horse studs has been sold.

Cambridge Stud has been sold by champion breeder Sir Patrick Hogan.

It has been bought by businessman Brendan Lindsay, who founded and recently sold the Sistema plastic business, and his wife Jo Lindsay. . .

Strong Farm Machinery Sales Herald Strong 2018:

Sales of tractors are strong and the farm machinery sector is employing more workers, demonstrating a positive outlook in the primary industry, says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) President, Roger Nehoff.

Mr Nehoff said in the year to date (end of October) the total number of tractor sales was up about 11% on the year before with some regions up by 45 to 50%. Overall sales were 3164, compared with 2849 for the same period in 2016 and 2978 in 2015.

In addition, the total number of people employed in the tractor and farm machinery sales and servicing sector had increased by more than 350 since 2015 and was now at 2846. . . 

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