Rural round-up

23/08/2014

Speed milking becomes a sport – Jackie Harrigan:

The northern European rural sport of speed milking will be starring at the inaugural New Zealand Rural Games in Queenstown in February.

Games sponsor and Fonterra chief executive Theo Speirings is right behind it.

Having seen the sport known as dairy hand milking in action in his home continent, Speirings said it will be great to see it in NZ.

Rural Games organiser Steve Hollander says the speed milking competition will introduce a dairy component to fit well alongside speed shearing, speed gold panning and coal shovelling. . .

Australian, China-backed company targets NZ forest owners – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – United Forestry Group, backed by Australian timber marketer Pentarch and China’s Xiangyu Group, is targeting small forest owners in New Zealand in a bid to cash in on a looming ‘wall of wood’ it estimates will generate $30 billion over the next two decades.

The Wellington-based company wants to consolidate the country’s 14,000 small forests, which account for just over a third of New Zealand’s plantations, and use its forestry management skills and supply chain to achieve a more efficient network and boost returns for the owners, it said in a statement.

United Forestry, which counts Pentarch and Xiangyu joint venture Superpen as cornerstone investors, is offering to buy small forests outright, or buy a combination of land and trees. It will also offer advice on harvesting and marketing mature forests. . .

Varroa and bee viruses linked – study:

An Otago University study has thrown more light on the role that the varroa honey bee mite plays in spreading diseases through beehives.

A PhD student, Fanny Mondet from the University’s Zoology Department and Avignon University in France, investigated the effect of the varroa parasite as it spread south after its arrival in New Zealand more than 10 years ago.

Otago University zoology professor Alison Mercer said the study had confirmed the link between varroa and the spread of some bee viruses, including the deformed wing virus which has been associated with colony collapses. . .

Hill Laboratories appoints new Agricultural Divisional Manager:

New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory, Hill Laboratories, has appointed Dr Bart Challis as new Agricultural Divisional Manager for the company.

Dr Challis brings to Hill Laboratories 16 years of international experience in the fields of Life Science and Biotechnology.

After completing a PhD in microbiology from the University of Otago, Dr Challis began his career in Sales in the United Kingdom in 1999. . .

Funding boost for tutsan fight – Bryan Gibson:

Taumarunui’s Tutsan Action Group (TAG) hopes new funding will help find a biological control for the invasive plant tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum).

Chairman Graham Wheeler said the group has secured a further three years of government and community funding to complete its investigation.

Tutsan now costs some landowners up to $400 a hectare a year to control.

An economic assessment found there is $2.3 million a year in direct and indirect costs, with a capital cost to New Zealand of up to $32m because of the reduction in land values. . .

Pineland Farms: Magic Happens When Private Funding Meets Family Farming – Food Tank:

Pineland Farms, located in New Gloucester, Maine, is a 2,020-hectare working farm, as well as an educational and recreational campus. Pineland Farms comprises three for-profit companies that are supplied by local family farms: Pineland Farms Creamery; Pineland Farms Potatoes; and Pineland Farms Natural Meats. Owned by the Libra Foundation (a Maine-based private charitable foundation), Pineland profits are reinvested in the companies, as well as in other charities that support local communities.

Food Tank spoke with Erik Hayward, Vice President of the Libra Foundation; Rodney McCrum, President and Chief Operating Officer of Pineland Farms Potatoes; and, William Haggett, President of Pineland Farms Natural Meats.

Food Tank (FT): What inspired the creation of Pineland Farms and how is its structure different from smaller family farming operations?

Erik Hayward (EH): In early 2000, a state property came up for sale in New Gloucester, Maine. Built in 1908, it was originally a hospital for the mentally disabled. There were a number of farms on the campus, however these had basically been abandoned and were in various states of disrepair. . .

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