Rural round-up

13/04/2021

Red meat retreat – Neal Wallace:

This year’s prime lamb production is headed to be the lowest on record, reflecting low farmer confidence, and could result in fewer ewe numbers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is warning.

The number of lambs likely to be processed this season is estimated at 18.2 million, a drop of 4.5%, or 900,000, compared to 2019-20, with total export production of 347,600 tonnes bone-in.

“This will be the lowest lamb production on record. Confidence in the industry is subdued,” the B+LNZ report said.

“Farm gate prices have eased from recent high levels, farmers are wary of the volatility of weather events and environmental regulation is weighing heavily on morale. Forestry is also spreading into sheep farming land. . .

Bills on tax creep and sound law-making deserve public debate – Feds:

A government committed to fairness and responsible law-making should not allow two bills recently drawn from the Member’s Ballot to sink without debate, Federated Farmers says.

“At the very least the Regulatory Standards Bill and the Income Tax (Adjustment of Taxable Income Ranges) Amendment Bill deserve to go to select committee for examination and public submissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

The Regulatory Standards Bill would require any proposed legislation to be subject to clear analysis of the problem the legislation is aimed at solving, a thorough cost-benefit analysis of expected outcomes and adequate consultation with affected parties.

“Quite frankly with such requirements, the Essential Freshwater legislation and the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill – to name just two recent examples – would not have got through as written,” Andrew said. . . 

Resting in fleece – Annette Scott:

Choosing an end of life in wool has become a popular option as woollen caskets take off in New Zealand.

Ten years ago when Polly and Ross McGuckin launched Natural Legacy woollen caskets in NZ the idea struggled to gain traction.

“We were seen as eco warriors, there wasn’t the interest then, I was flogging a dead horse, but now people are waking up, the public is listening and the table is turning,” Polly McGuckin said.

“The world is changing and funeral homes want to do the right thing by being eco-friendly and sustainable – it’s a lot easier to talk about wool now, every year we are seeing interest grow. . . .

Love of the land a Shaw thing:

Farm Environment Plans are not just about cows, grass and other farm management practices, says Ross Shaw – they are an integral part of any farmer’s connection to the land.

Shaw, along with wife Karla and parents Jim and Helen, have a deep and strongly held philosophy about the land. That dovetails with his recent enthusiastic embrace of a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) – one of the many compulsory (by 2025) calls on farmers’ time and wallets in order to improve nutrient management and reduce farming’s impact on water quality.

Jim and Helen Shaw bought the Reporoa property 36 years ago when it was 62 hectares and with 150 cows; it’s now 400ha, with many more cows and farmed, for the last 13 years, with Ross and Karla.

It is also the subject of a long-held family belief in multi-generational farming and what that means in terms of custodianship of the land: “We are like most New Zealand farmers – we want to be here for multi-generations,” Ross says.  “We were farming in our own right [before joining up with his parents] and our kids will be the third generation on this farm. . . 

Relief in Australia as welcome mat goes out for New Zealand shearers – Sally Murphy:

Australian farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as much needed New Zealand shearers will now be able to travel over for their busy spring season.

Covid-19 border closures have meant nearly 500 New Zealand shearers who normally travel to Australia to help out have been unable to.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said it’s been tough going with farmers paying almost double per sheep to have them shorn.

“It’s been really tough and there’s been months of delays. The standard rate over here for shearing a sheep is $A3.24 [$NZ3.51] but now in New South Wales which has about 40 percent of the country’s sheep it’s hard to get a shear for under $A3.72. . . 

China trade tactics didn’t hurt AUstralia as anticipated – Jamieson Murphy:

CHINA’S aggressive trade tariffs have cost the Australian economy millions of dollars, but the damage isn’t anywhere nearly as bad as originally anticipated, according to leading think tank economists.

Across the affected commodities, trade to China is down about 78 per cent. But the trade sanctions took place against the backdrop of COVID-19 which “significantly clouds the picture”, Lowy Institute lead economist Roland Rajah said. 

Nonetheless, one can parse the evidence to arrive at some conclusions and it would seem the impact has in fact been quite limited,” Mr Rajah said.

“Exports to China have predictably collapsed in the areas hit by sanctions, but most of this lost trade seems to have found other markets.”. . .


Rural round-up

23/05/2014

Beef producers demand a high quality TPP deal:

Beef producers from four Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries have again demanded that any TPP agreement be a high quality deal that eliminates all tariffs on beef.

Members of the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA)* from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, urge all participants involved in the TPP negotiations to re-commit to securing a comprehensive, non-discriminatory outcome – one which eliminates tariffs and importantly addresses behind the border trade barriers.

FNBA is concerned that TPP members have not been able to craft a tariff-eliminating deal for beef, and unless all parties step up to the plate and reaffirm their commitment to a trade liberalizing outcome, countries could begin to drift away from the goal of achieving a 21st century agreement. . .

Forest researchers frustrated by ruling:

A High Court ruling against the use of genetic engineering techniques for tree breeding has frustrated forestry researchers but relieved GM opponents.

The Sustainability Council challenged a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that allowed Forest Research Institute Scion to use two new plant breeding technologies to grow pine trees that among other things would cope better with climate change, and be more disease resistant.

But the High Court has ruled the authority misinterpreted the law and should not have approved the techniques.

Scion said the court decision showed up serious deficiencies in the law covering genetically modified organisms. . .

Native plants often the best answer:

Native plants can help farmers in a multitude of ways, South Canterbury expert Hugh Thompson says.

Speaking at the Trees on Farms workshop at Pleasant Point on April 30, Mr Thompson said native species could be used in shelter belts and riparian plantings, for soil stability in creeks and steep areas, for biodiversity, and for aesthetic reasons.

”They look natural and they’re there forever.”

Six years ago, concerned by the neglect of native vegetation on farmland, Mr Thompson became a full-time horticulturist and started a native nursery.  . .

Goat Conference to address adding value to New Zealand:

Federated Farmers is pleased to announce that the inaugural NZGoats Conference in Queenstown, on 23-25 May, will be focusing on adding sustainable value to the industry.

“Right now the goat industry has a lot to offer with goat meat leading global red meat consumption and Mohair becoming a popular niche fibre so this conference is at a pivotal time for the industry,” said John Woodward, Federated Farmers Mohair New Zealand (INC) Chairperson.

Chairperson of Federated Farmers NZGoats, Dawn Sangster, added “The event is a collaboration between Mohair New Zealand (Inc), Meat Goat New Zealand and NZ Goats, under the Federated Farmers Goats industry umbrella, and the New Zealand Boer Goat Breeders Association (Inc).

“It is aimed at both experienced goat farmers and those interested in the potential of goat farming as a way to diversify their farm business”. . .

Chilly diners get blanket coverage – Sally Rae:

When it came to warming up Queenstown’s Public Kitchen and Bar over winter, the solution was simple – New Zealand wool.

And it all fell into place after Domenic Mondillo was tackled by restaurant manager Heidi Thomson about ways to promote Mondillo Wines and also how to keep customers warm.

Mr Mondillo’s wife Ally had been looking for wool blankets to put their branding on and use as promotional items for clients and overseas visitors and met Polly McGuckin at Exquisite Wool Blankets. . . .

Outdoors Lobby Seeks Party Election Policies:

A national organisation is seeking the views of political parties and current MPs on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) has prepared an election charter and sent it to political parties and MPs said Andi Cockroft, CORANZ co-chairman of Wellington.

“Responses will be later collated and made public,” he said.

Andi Cockroft said CORANZ was strictly apolitical and “politically impartial” but had increasingly viewed with alarm the style and policies of recent governments that were bypassing democracy and eroding the public’s heritage of the outdoors and environmental quality.  . .


Rural round-up

07/04/2012

Chemical-free farming still regarded with scepticism:

Chemical free farming is a multi-million dollar industry that has copped its  fair share of criticism.

The couple behind New Zealand’s first organic farm say it’s time conventional  farmers embraced the concept. but they’ve had to put their beloved property on  the market after more than 30 years.

They call them their secret weapon.

Millions of black dung beetles roam John and Norrie Pearce’s Kaipara Harbour  property and without them they say they’d be in a stink.

Farming organically means relying on the hand of nature, which is where dung  beetles come in . . .

Castle Hill Station on the market – Liz McDonald:

Castle Hill Station, a high-country farm owned by businesswoman Christine Fernyhough, is for sale.

The author and philanthropist bought the 3000-hectare station for about $2.4 million in 2004, with the Conservation Department taking on the remainder of what had originally been an 11,000ha block.

The land was first settled by the Porter brothers in 1858. Real estate group Bayleys is now seeking offers for the farm, with a late May deadline. . .

Fine deal for merino farmers – Sally Rae:

On a gloriously sunny autumn day in the Maniototo this week, a small Cessna aircraft landed on a farm strip at Gimmerburn. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae was on hand to discover more about the visit.

It was, as they say, a flying visit.   

Alighting from the plane, in that most rural Central Otago landscape, were three Japanese gentlemen, bedecked in suits.   

They had made a special trip from Japan to meet the Clarke family from Closeburn Station.

The visit by Konaka Co Ltd chief executive Kensuke Konaka,      technical adviser Mitsuo Hori, and Kento Nagao, from wool      trading company Nagao Shoji, was a goodwill gesture.  . .

Woollen coffin a hit at show – Sally Rae:

You wouldn’t normally expect to find a coffin among the fleeces on display at the quintessentially rural Malvern A and P Show in Canterbury.   

When Polly McGuckin was approached by the convener of the wool section at the Sheffield show to see if she would like to have a woollen coffin on display, she was initially not sure it would be appropriate. . .   

China blamed for PSA-V outbreak – Richard Meadows:

Scientists are on the edge of unravelling the origins of the Psa-V disease devastating the country’s kiwifruit vines – and China is the most likely culprit.

A team of Otago University biochemists is confident it will be able to confirm the source of the virulent disease, which was first detected here in November 2010.

The scientists were able to map out the bacterium’s entire genetic code using a multi-million dollar advanced genetic sequencer, provided through the government-funded New Zealand Genomics Limited (NZGL). . .

Putting the fizz into wine ‘visonary’

Staff at Cloudy Bay Winery in Blenheim are enjoying what is likely to be a short-lived leisurely work pace as the last of its sparkling grapes are brought in to press, says winery spokeswoman Stephanie McIntyre. . .

“At the moment, everyone’s just taking it easy. You can see there aren’t too many people around, but that will all change in a few weeks when all the ripening comes on at the same time.”

Cloudy Bay winemaker Sarah Burton anticipated the first lot of grapes for the still variety would be brought in today. There was usually a one week gap before this harvest began, so it was a good way to prepare the crew for what was in store. . .


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