Rural round-up

July 14, 2018

Good times are here – Annette Scott:

It’s been a long time coming but sheep farming is where it should be, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

With winter schedules knocking on the door of $8, global markets largely continuing to track along at the solid pace of recent months and global inventories remaining low it’s a good time to be a sheep farmer, he said.

Confidence at the farmgate in sheep is strongest since 2011. . .

Get picky when buying stock – Glenys Christian:

More than 150 farmers at a Mycoplasma bovis meeting in Dargaville were told to choose their breeder rather than their bull.

“You need to ask some very strong questions,” Chris Biddles, who established Te Atarangi Angus stud on the nearby Pouto Peninsula over 30 years ago, said.

Firstly, farmers looking for service bulls for their herds should choose a breeder with a registered herd. . .

Tractor sales could reach record high :

Tractor and machinery sales could hit a record high by the end of the year, even though rural customers are exercising caution, says an industry body.

Sales of tractors are up more than 25 per cent on this time last year and all sectors are showing buoyancy, said new NZ Tractor and Machinery Association president John Tulloch.

Year-to-date figures to the end of June showed a total of 1876 sales across all HP categories compared with 1448 in 2017: a total increase of 26.1 per cent. . .

Mycoplasma bovis: supposed facts don’t add up – Keith Woodford:

[With the re-organisation of the New Zealand rural media and the demise of NZ Farmer for which I previously wrote, this is the first of a new series of fortnightly articles I will be writing for Farmers Weekly and also published at http://www.interest.co.nz. Whereas my articles in Stuff  (online and in their hardcopy newspapers ) are about rural issues, but largely for an urban audience, the Farmers Weekly articles are primarily for farmers and those more directly involved in rural matters.]

A key message from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has been “generally prolonged or repeated contact with infected animals is required for the disease to be transmitted” (MPI website). Another key message has been that the disease has only been here since the end of 2015. . . .

One week left to influence emissions bill:

Farmers have just one week left to submit their opinions on the Zero Carbon Bill. Climate change ambassadors for the dairy sector are urging farmers to have their say on the new 2050 emissions target the bill will set in place.

The government is asking for public feedback on three possible 2050 emission reduction targets.

DairyNZ and many other primary sector organisations are supportive of a new target which will reduce carbon emissions to net zero, and stabilise methane emissions. This is an option dairy farmers can support by submitting online. . .

Motor Industry Association calls for new safety rules for ATV operators – Olivia Fairhusrt:

The Motor Industry Association (MIA) is calling for mandatory safety rules for the use of quad bikes and small utility vehicles in the workplace, after several coronial inquests.

The inquests revealed new rules would reduce serious injuries and fatalities, which prompted the call to the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety for compulsory regulations.

The association called for helmets to be made compulsory, children under 16 to be forbidden from riding adult size quad bikes and passengers to be banned from single seat bikes.

Association chief executive David Crawford said the safe use of small vehicles, farm bikes, ATV (All-Terrain Vehicles) and side-by-side vehicles is “of paramount importance to manufacturers, distributors, dealerships and their customers“. . .

Fixating on the milk price is distracting the dairy industry from its own decline, expert says – Margot Kelly:

A leading dairy figure is warning the Australian industry needs to address underlying issues affecting farm profitability, rather than fixating on milk prices.

Farmgate milk prices have been in the spotlight since major processors suddenly and retrospectively cut prices in 2016.

The man who has headed up some of the largest dairy companies in the southern hemisphere said the trend of decreasing farm profitability in Australia had been emerging well before the dairy crisis. . . 

 

Lab meat: more hype than substance – Post Veganism:

If you believe all the headlines, in a few short years or even less time, the way meat is grown will radically change. Brewing like tanks full of dividing  cells will replace farms and factory farms raising livestock, thus no more animals will be slaughtered, all environmental issues- including climate change and water scarcity- will be resolved, world hunger will no longer exist, and deforestation will no longer be necessary. Plus best of all there will be meat a plenty that even die-hard vegans can consume with a clear conscience.

Okay, maybe this representation is a little bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. A lot of hyped up marketing spin is involved and has been expended to “position” lab meat, including re-branding it as “clean meat” (in vitro meat, cell meat, and cultured meat also didn’t do so good in the marketing surveys). That hype involves creating a market for a product line that might otherwise only have a very limited audience and appeal. To build a market, consumers have to be dissuaded from consuming real meat. So to build an audience a whole litany of out of context statistics are repeated about water footprints, land use, feed efficiency, deforestation, greenhouse gases, health concerns, and animal welfare. . . 


Rural round-up

July 11, 2018

Prized stock castration frustrates farmer – Andrew Ashton:

After waking up to find someone had castrated two of his bulls, a Hawke’s Bay farmer expected the police to arrest and charge the culprit. Instead he says he was advised to sell up and move.

Pongaroa farmer David Vitsky said the incident was the latest in a litany of stock rustling and rural crime stretching back several years.

But Hawke’s Bay police say they are unable to gather firm evidence to charge anyone.

“We’ve been plagued by a continuous raid of stock rustling, thefts and the police fail to get prosecutions,” Vitsky told Hawke’s Bay Today. . . 

Pagan’s shear determination on screen – Sally Rae:

She might be the South’s latest film star but Pagan Karauria is no prima donna actress.

Left in charge of  father Dion Morrell’s shearing business while he is in Japan for several weeks, the Alexandra woman  has been up every morning between 4.15am and 4.30am.

Her day is full as her mobile phone rings constantly and she ensures the smooth running of seven gangs. But, as she puts it, “I’m just cruising along doing what I love.”

Mrs Karauria’s passion for the shearing industry is undeniable –  she is both a shearer and  woolhandler and had the remarkable distinction of competing in both disciplines in the All Nations competition at last year’s World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill. . .

PGG Wrightson says “no comment” on report of possible $600M buyout – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says it has no comment on Australian media reporting that ASX-listed agribusiness company Elders is looking to buy it for $600 million.

A column in The Australian says Elders may seek to raise A$300 million via a rights issue to help fund the purchase, with the remainder funded via debt. The PGG Wrightson board “met on Friday to discuss the sale of the business and speculation is building that Elders has already been told that it is the preferred bidder”, The Australian reported. . .

Decision made on fate of defunct Gore meat plant – Sally Rae:

Blue Sky Meats has decided to sell its Gore plant which has been non-operational since late 2016.

Last year, the company announced it was reviewing its options for the unprofitable plant. Options ranged from reinstatement of full operations to an asset sale.

When the plant was temporarily closed, Gore staff were offered secondment to the company’s Morton Mains plant.

In a statement, the company said the decision was not made lightly but the board felt it was the best course of action for the company’s ongoing financial performance.

Blue Sky Meats has released details of its annual report for the 2018 financial year which showed a much improved result with a net profit before tax of $3.7million, compared to a $2.5 million loss the previous year. . .

The science behind the Impossible Burger – Siouxsie Wiles:

Air New Zealand has just announced The Impossible Burger is now available to a minuscule number of their customers, a move described as an “existential threat” by New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson. So what is all the fuss is about?

This week, Air New Zealand announced that Business Premier “foodies” on their Los Angeles to Auckland flights would be able to try out the “plant-based goodness” that is the Impossible Burger. Lamb + Beef New Zealand, which represents sheep and beef farmers, is clearly peeved that our national carrier wouldn’t rather showcase some great Kiwi “grass-fed, free range, GMO free, naturally raised” beef and lamb instead. Mark Patterson, New Zealand First’s spokesperson for Primary Industries even went as far as to put out a press release calling the announcement an “existential threat to New Zealand’s second-biggest export earner”. Meanwhile, vegetarians on social media are left a bit puzzled as to why Patterson is so against them having a special vegetarian option for dinner. My guess is it’s because the Impossible Burger is no ordinary veggie burger. . . 

Sheepdog trialists gather for annual battle of wits against woolly opponents in Hāwera – Catherine Groenestein:

“Wallago, Dick! Wallago, Dick!”

Dick the sheepdog’s muzzle is greying but his eyes are still fixed on the sheep. He trots with purpose, rather than running flat out like his apprentice, a youngster called Jay.

After a lifetime of farm work and winning many trials, Dick, who’s 14,  can almost work the sheep around the obstacles on a course by himself. . . 

Whopping truffle from Waipara farm sets NZ record – Gerard Hutching:

Waipara’s Jax Lee has unearthed a New Zealand record of 1.36 kilograms for a black truffle, worth thousands of dollars when she exports it.

Truffle expert Dr Ian Hall said a similar sized black (or Perigord) truffle had been dug up in Gisborne in the 1990s, “but I’m sure Jax’s would be a New Zealand record.”

Truffles may not be quite black gold, but they are considered the world’s most expensive food. The equivalent weight in gold of Lee’s example is 43 ounces, worth $54,000. . . 

A tale of two expos – Post Veganism:

A couple years ago, I attended the Natural Food Expo West for the first time. The section of the main exhibit hall that I first wandered into was row after row of nutraceutical suppliers. These suppliers, including many from China, provided many of the vitamins, minerals, herbs used to supplement and fortify many of the “natural” and “healthy” foods and drinks I’d later see a plethora of elsewhere at this expo. What was less ubiquitous was real whole food, that is food that was minimally processed, well grown or raised  and that didn’t need to be fortified or supplemented to be nutrient dense.

So this past April, I returned to Anaheim once again to attend the Natural Food Expo West held at the convention center. This year the event was larger than ever, and I only had portions of two days so couldn’t cover the entire hall. Maybe I just missed it, but all the nutraceutical suppliers seemed to be organized more around the periphery rather than taking so much area on the floor this time. Though there still was plenty of “natural” and ‘healthy” junk food fortified with vitamins, minerals, herbs and- the new rage- probiotics. However, much to my surprise, there was a larger presence of real food with more fermented foods, minimally processed seaweed items, and vinegar as well as plenty of bone broth, jerkies and other grass finished meats . . 


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