Rural round-up

16/02/2021

Hackles rise over stock reduction numbers – Hamish MacLean:

A possible 15% reduction in livestock numbers on red meat and dairy farms by 2030 could break New Zealand’s under-pressure agriculture industry, some farmers fear.

While industry groups are taking a cautious approach to the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice package, its preferred path includes reduced livestock numbers by 2030.

And the already weary farming sector feared an urban-centred Government could again make changes for rural New Zealand that did not match what was happening on the ground, Riverton sheep farmer Leon Black said.

Mr Black, a former Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island director, said any policy that led to fewer farms in the South would be catastrophic for rural communities. . . 

Concern over land reform changes – Annette Scott:

Changes proposed in the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill threaten the viability of high country farming for pastoral lessees.

The Bill proposes to amend the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and the Land Act 1948, to end tenure review and redesign the regulatory system to deliver improved Crown pastoral outcomes.

But farmers say the Bill is poorly drafted, placing unreasonable limitations on day-to-day farming activities for pastoral leaseholders.

Farmers will be bogged down in red tape and environmental outcomes would go backwards. . . 

Zespri faces a China conundrum – Keith Woodford:

China is New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit market. Growth of this market has been spectacular with the Zespri-owned SunGold variety much-loved by Chinese consumers. The problem is that the Chinese are also growing at least 4000 hectares of SunGold without the permission of Zespri. 

That compares to about 7000 hectares of SunGold grown in New Zealand.

The question now facing Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is what to do about it.  There are no easy solutions.

This issue is something I discussed with local folk in the kiwifruit-growing regions of China way back in the years between 2012 and 2015. It did not need an Einstein to work out that the SunGold budwood was already there. . . 

Kiwifruit settlement a token, but an important one – Nikki Mandow:

This weekend’s settlement over PSA kiwifruit disease compensation is good news for the taxpayer, but bad news for business owners, particularly farmers. 

On Saturday morning, a group of kiwifruit growers announced they had reached a settlement with the Crown over damages they suffered after virulent kiwifruit vine disease PSA entered New Zealand. The bacteria arrived in 2009 in imported Chinese pollen because of a Ministry of Primary Industries biosecurity blunder at the border, and it devastated the industry.

The growers wanted $450 million, plus interest, to compensate them for the destruction of their orchards; in some cases the destruction of their livelihoods. 

But late on Friday night, with the final stage of a seven year-long court battle due to start in the Supreme Court today, they settled for $40 million. . . 

‘Absolutely gutted’: Maniototo A&P Show cancelled over alert level move – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Maniototo A&P Show, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled.

Secretary Janine Smith said organisers made the tough decision to cancel the show after the Government moved the nation to Alert Level 2 and Auckland to Alert Level 3 on Sunday night.

The situation was being assessed by the Government every 24 hours. . . 

Cattle game is trusted; but society still wants oversight – Shan Goodwin:

Cattle producers enjoy a high level of trust by the Australian community but that does not equate to support for a relaxed regulatory environment.

This is the key finding from first-of-its-kind independent research into public perceptions of the cattle industry’s environmental performance, from a team headed up by The University of Queensland.

The work points to the need for a rethink of how the industry sometimes frames the relationship between environmental regulation and community trust.

A well-designed regulatory framework that is developed with the engagement of key stakeholders enables the demonstration of sound environmental performance and should not be framed as a burden, or the result of society being ‘on our back’, says lead researcher Dr Bradd Witt. . . 


Pay rise ought to be commended

17/08/2016

Spark is  introducing a benchmark salary above which its staff are paid.

All non-commission full-time staff will earn at least $40,000 a year, and front-line commission employees who earn a lower base salary will earn an average of $42,000.

If compared to the current living wage of $19.80 an hour, $40,000 a year minimum falls short at $19.23 an hour.

Spark general manager of human resources Danielle George said the company wanted to “do the right thing” for its staff and attract the best talent, as well as contribute to turning New Zealand into a higher wage economy. . . 

“We have revised our entire value proposition, exploring how we can best deliver base pay and meaningful benefits, all designed to meet the needs of a very diverse workforce.”

The new Spark pay policy has benefited more than 250 staff who have received pay increases over the past two years to bring them up to the new level. . . 

That ought to be cause for commendation but the Council of Trade Unions’ Richard Wagstaff doesn’t think so:

“Their $40,000 salary that they’re promoting is actually a little under the living wage which doesn’t really inspire too much in terms of fair pay for people.”

Spark says the pay scheme is a commitment to a higher-wage economy, and once you take into account staff benefits, the overall package is better than the living wage.

“We want to do the right thing for our people and to attract the best people to a career in Spark,” says general manager of human resources Danielle George.

“If that sets a standard that encourages others to follow, that’s got to be a good thing for New Zealand.”

Benefits include credit towards Spark products and services, life and income insurance, flexible working arrangements and interest-free loans to buy company shares. . .

Spark is offering more than $4.00 an hour more than the minimum wage which is $15.25.

Paying that is a legal requirement and it’s reviewed each year, taking into account that increasing it could price some people out of jobs and threaten some businesses. The living wage is an artificial construct which takes no account of what’s affordable.

Another union, the PSA is praising three Wellington mayoral candidates who support the living wage:

The PSA held a forum for candidates which was attended by Justin Lester, Jo Coughlan, Helene Ritchie, Keith Johnson, Andy Foster, Nicola Young and Nick Leggett.

Mr Lester, Ms Ritchie and Mr Leggett confirmed they support the Living Wage for all council workers, including those employed through contractors and council-controlled organisations.

“We’re extremely pleased to hear three candidates plan to build on the good work already done by Wellington City Council towards making this a fairer city”, PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

“The PSA decided to hold this forum to hear from the candidates first-hand about their vision for Wellington – including their stance on local ownership of local services and privatisation.

“Wellington City Council has already taken great strides towards becoming New Zealand’s first accredited Living Wage council since it voted to do so in 2013.
“We know this has the backing of Wellington’s voters – what’s now needed is a mayor and a council that will deliver on the promises and finish the job.”

Do voters really support that and if they do, are they happy to be rated more to pay for it?

Unlike the minimum wage, the living wage takes no account of the value of work being done or the danger that some businesses couldn’t survive if they were forced to pay it.

It’s also based on what a vicar thinks a family of four needs to participate in society which ignores the fact that not everyone has to support a family of four on their wages, and if they do Working For Families would give them a generous top-up if they were on a low wage.

New Zealand isn’t a high-wage economy and that’s a weakness. But the solution is increased productivity and upskilling, not the job-threatening imposition of the so-called living wage.


Rural round-up

06/09/2015

Farmers frustrated with increased poaching – Mike  Watson:

Kit Sandall shakes his head.

Normally mild mannered, the Awatere, Marlborough, sheep farmer is bemused by the sentencing of a helicopter pilot caught poaching on his property earlier this year.

Sandall was reacting to a report that the pilot, Dean Matthews, of Renwick, had been fined $2000 for unlawful hunting after being caught on film poaching on Sandall’s land in April.

The maximum penalty for the court to uphold is $100,000 fine, and/or $200,000 for corporate offending.

Sandall received the $2000 fine payment as reparation but he is still shaking his head. . . 

It’s all about teamwork for Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells – Sonita Chandar:

An award-winning Otago farming couple credit their success to hard work and good governance.

Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells who farm at Outram were this year’s Supreme winners of the Dairy Business of the Year competition.

The couple who are 50 per cent equity shareholders in the business, say the support they receive immeasurable. . .

Crop spraying drone approved:

An unmanned crop-spraying helicopter has become the first drone to be approved for commercial work under new aviation rules.

The Yamaha Rmax, reportedly costing $120,000, on Thursday received the Civil Aviation Authority’s first certification to be used as a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle.

Before August 1, the old rules meant it could not have been used because of its weight (at nearly 100kg) and the intention to use chemicals. . . 

NZ Farm Environment Trust/Balance Farm Environmental Awards:

The lingering effects of the devastating PSA outbreak didn’t stop Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit growers Stephen Kenna and Phillipa Wright entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“We are passionate about the Kiwifruit industry, despite its biosecurity issues, and we thought we had a good story to tell,” Stephen says.

He and Phillipa run a 15ha orchard at Ongare Point, north of Katikati. Like many kiwifruit growers they were hit hard by the vine disease PSA-V, but the couple’s positive attitude and careful planning have helped them cope with the disaster. This impressed judges of the 2015 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), who awarded the operation three category awards, including the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award. . . 

Nominations open for 2015 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal

The Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal judging panel is once again calling on the kiwifruit industry to nominate their finest leaders for the 2015 award.

The kiwifruit Industry Advisory Council (IAC) set up the Hayward Medal four years ago to honour the people who have led the industry and established it as a New Zealand export success story, selling more than $1.57 billion of premium-quality Zespri Kiwifruit last year.

IAC chairman Paul Jones says nominations are encouraged for people right across the industry who’ve shown excellence, commitment and leadership. . . 

Fonterra holds Aussie price but gives a warning :

Fonterra Australia has told its farmers to be prepared for the possibility of a step-down in milk price this season.

At the same time it held its farmgate opening price at $5.60 a kilogram of milksolids as part of review.

Fonterra Australia managing director Judith Swales said the company had put its Australian farmgate price and forecast closing price range for this season “under review given the challenging conditions and extreme volatility that are impacting domestic and global dairy markets”. . .

Nurse Loves Farmer's photo.


Rural round-up

14/05/2015

Drought conditions remain in South Island:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says farmers throughout the eastern South Island are still feeling the effects of drought, particularly in North Canterbury.

“It’s likely the medium-scale adverse event classification will remain in place until August or September this year, depending on conditions over autumn,” says Mr Guy.

“Despite recent rainfall, farmers and growers are still feeling the impacts of these prolonged dry conditions.

“In particular, the driest area is around Cheviot in North Canterbury which has been largely missed by most of the recent rainfall. . .

 

Drought takes its toll – feed an issue:

Federated Farmers North Canterbury say farmers affected by the drought are facing a tough year ahead and will be struggling with some tough decisions.

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses,” says Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair. 

“With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.” . . .

El Niño pattern blow to Canterbury farmers – Susie Nordqvist:

North Canterbury farmers already in the grip of their worst drought in 60 years have been dealt another blow today.

NIWA says we are on the cusp of an El Niño weather pattern, meaning things are about to get even drier in the east and wetter in the west.

Canterbury’s trademark Nor’west winds are exactly what drought-stricken farmers don’t need.

“When you just get the wind likes this it’s stripping out the moisture in it,” says Federated Farmers north Canterbury president Lynda Murchison. . .

Relentless drought and El Nino means more water storage needed:

Today it was confirmed that drought conditions in the South Island will likely drag on until September this year, emphasising the risk of dry weather patterns to New Zealand and highlighting the need for regional water storage and irrigation infrastructure,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “These conditions are only likely to worsen in the long term and spread to other parts of the country as a predicted El Nino weather pattern sets in.”

Concerns about how these warm weather patterns will impact our economy were set out in a recent International Monetary Fund report

(http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp1589.pdf). As part of its findings, the report recommended further investment in irrigation. . .

Bay of Plenty set for good growth:

The Bay of Plenty region and its industries could grow substantially thanks to its resource, population, location and climate advantages, a newly published report reveals.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released the Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which shows that the region has a number of natural advantages and is well placed to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment.

“This study provides a detailed summary of the opportunities for the Bay of Plenty’s future,” Mr Joyce says. “It outlines the potential of the primary sector, manufacturing and tourism industries in particular to grow the region. . . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth, thanks Prime Minister for support:

The kiwifruit industry came together to thank the Government for its support with efforts to manage the bacterial disease Psa, when the Prime Minister John Key visited Zespri’s Mt Maunganui office this afternoon.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride says senior representatives of postharvest, growers and industry organisations took the opportunity to show the Prime Minister how far the industry has come since Psa was first discovered in New Zealand in 2010.

“It’s hard to recall now just how uncertain and dark those days were, when we simply did not know how the industry could continue with Psa. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

03/05/2015

Westland Milk building $40m plant in Canterbury –

The West Coast’s dairy co-operative is ramping up its Canterbury presence by building a $40 million plant to make long life milk at Rolleston.

Westland Milk Products has begun building the plant in its first venture into retail-ready liquid milk at the Izone industrial park. The long life product known as UHT milk for its ultra high temperature processing usually has a shelf life of six to nine months and is usually used in hot climates.

Commercial production is scheduled to begin early next year and the plant will be capable of packing more than 50 million litres of UHT milk and cream a year. The product will mainly be sold into China’s UHT market, where returns are high and growth prospects are strong. . .

Farmers borrow $60m for environment projects –  Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers are borrowing big money for environmental projects on their farms with one bank alone lending more than $60 million.

The loans are on top of farmers funding waterway fencing and other projects from farm cashflows and savings.

ASB bank has provided low interest loans for more than 500 farm projects through its Rural Environmental Compliance Loan so farmers can fence, plant trees and put in culverts to keep stock away from streams and do other projects such as meeting their environmental compliance obligations by upgrading or building new effluent ponds.

Farmers have taken out an average loan of $105,000 with the bank. . .

Top Farmers Recognised in This Year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

The 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards have produced another exceptional line-up of Supreme winners.

Award ceremonies in the ten regions participating in the annual competition have been completed and Supreme Winners from each region will now contest the highly-prized National Winner title.

Simon Saunders, chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE), says the calibre of entrants in this year’s competition was again very high, making it tough for judges to select the finalists let alone the Supreme Winners. . .

New Zealand Merino and Landcorp fashion new market for ‘carpet’ wool:

New Zealand strong wool, renowned for its use in carpets, is set to become world famous for a new use – on people’s feet.

Danish footwear firm Glerups has signed a two-year deal with The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and New Zealand’s largest farming company, Landcorp to exclusively supply New Zealand strong wool for its indoor shoe range.

The “addictive” indoor shoes, renowned for comfort, warmth and durability, are felted in 100% pure natural wool with soft leather soles. They are sold throughout Denmark and in more than 20 countries, including New Zealand (www.glerups.co.nz). . .

HortNZ taking water concerns to govt:

The national horticulture industry body is taking its concerns about an Environment Court ruling on water quality to the Government as it can not afford to go through legal channels, it says.

Horticulture New Zealand is concerned about the court’s decision to uphold an appeal from Ngati Kahungunu, in Hawke’s Bay, against proposed changes to water quality provisions in the regional plan there.

HortNZ natural resources manager Chris Keenan said the court’s interpretation effectively meant the quality of every single water body must be managed in a way which ensured it was maintained or enhanced.

However, that was unworkable because it could be used to challenge any land development for any purpose. . .

Meat giant playing catch-up on antibiotics:

Plans by a major meat producer to stop using human antibiotics in its chickens means it will be playing catch-up with New Zealand, this country’s industry says.

US-based multinational Tyson Foods – one of the world’s largest meat producers – has announced it will stop using human antibiotics in its US chicken flocks raised for meat.

The company’s chief executive Donnie Smith said the company wanted to take similar steps overseas and in other farming operations.

“We’ve also started talking to independent farmers who supply us with cattle and hogs and turkeys about working towards reducing the use of human antibiotics on those farms as well.” . . .

Gold Kiwifruit Exports to Australia up; Green Consistent – Industry to launch its first marketing campaign in Australia:

The export of New Zealand kiwifruit to Australia has begun and is showing signs of the recovery of GOLD Kiwifruit from Psa.

A hot, dry New Zealand summer will see increased volumes of GOLD exported to Australia, however the volume of GREEN New Zealand kiwifruit is forecast to be similar or lower than last year. 2014 saw 285,000 cartons of GOLD exported to Australia and just over 1.35 million cartons of GREEN.

Tony Ponder, the chairperson of New Zealand’s Kiwifruit Product Group (KPG), the body representing kiwifruit exporters to Australia, says production from New Zealand continues to increase, in line with world-wide demand for New Zealand kiwifruit which has lifted significantly over the last three years. . .

NZ Marine Industry Training Organisation undergoes name change:

Reflecting the developing nature of the New Zealand marine industry, the New Zealand Marine Industry Training Organisation has changed its trading name to the New Zealand Marine and Composites Industry Training Organisation.

At the New Zealand Marine Industry Association AGM in March, members decided that a change in the industry training organisation’s name was the best way to reflect its diversified purpose, Since 2007, the ITO has trained skilled members not only for the marine sector, but the composites sector also. . .

 


Rural round-up

30/03/2015

Candid advocate top dairy woman – Sally Rae:

West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne was recently named Dairy Woman of the Year. She talks to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae. 

Katie Milne is a straight shooter.

So it’s not hard to imagine those attending a meeting on the West Coast, in the early 1990s, took notice when she went along with some concerns about the Resource Management Act’s impact on her ability to farm.

There were a large number of Federated Farmers people there, but they were ”all older fellas with grey hair”. . .

Landcorp’s Carden optimistic despite low half year profit – Allan Barber:

The state owned farmer Landcorp last month reported a substantial drop in both revenue and profit for the six months ended 31 December last year, but CEO Steve Carden is still very positive about future prospects and the importance of Landcorp as a farming business.

In response to a question about the impact of dairy and whether the exposure to it has gone too far, he said he felt the balance was about right at a similar proportion to red meat which had traditionally been the dominant farming type. Dairy represented over half the turnover last year, but in the current year that percentage had fallen to 46%, as evident from the almost $10 million decline in first half year revenue. . .

Synlait releases Interim Report for 2015 financial year:

Synlait Milk has posted a $6.4 million net loss after tax for the first six months to 31 January in the 2015 financial year (FY15).

This result includes after tax unrealised foreign exchange losses of $6.8 million.

The underlying after tax financial performance of $0.4 million for the period was lower than expected and primarily due to delays in the shipment of infant formula and nutraceutical products.

A one-off, after tax product mix benefit of $7.5 million in the first half of FY14, combined with increased depreciation and interest costs from the commissioning of three growth initiatives projects in the second half of FY14, are the primary reasons for a $11.7 million variation between the underlying FY15 interim result of $0.4 million and the FY14 interim result of $12.1 million net profit after tax. . .

New kiwifruit variety revives industry – Jenna Lynch:

Kiwifruit growers are celebrating a bumper export season, with fruit volumes at their highest since the outbreak of the vine-killing disease Psa in 2010.

The disease devastated New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry, costing growers millions.

But a new variety has helped bring the industry back from the brink of collapse.

It’s the industry king, its green brother fetching a fraction of its price, but after years of small crop yield due to Psa the gold kiwifruit is back. . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth in 2015 season:

The first kiwifruit charter ship for 2015 is set to sail from the Port of Tauranga tomorrow (Sunday 28 March), marking the start of a season promising strong growth with volumes back to pre-Psa levels this season, Zespri’s Chief Executive Lain Jager says.

The 2015 harvest began in orchards in Gisborne, Katikati and Te Puke last week, with the first charter shipments of gold kiwifruit leaving on the MV Atlantic Erica today for Zespri’s long-standing premium market of Japan. Zespri has chartered 55 refrigerated ships – including five ships direct to Shanghai – and 8,000 refrigerated containers to carry the 2015 Zespri harvest to 54 countries around the world. . .

Swedes farmer survey results coming in May:

The results of an in-depth farmer survey carried out to help understand the factors behind the toxic swedes issues that hit Southland dairy herds last year are expected to be available by the end of May.

DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader Richard Kyte says DairyNZ interviewed 134 affected and unaffected farmers and 34 graziers last year as part of its study into why many cows became ill after feeding on swedes last season. The detailed interviews followed a general short survey of all dairy farmers that generated more than 400 replies. Analysis of all the survey data is now nearly complete.

“We interviewed farmers across the region to help us understand whether farm management practices may have been a contributing factor. We had some delays in getting the data from the field as farmers got busy just as we started approaching them for information. Until all this analysis is complete, we won’t know if we need to gather more background information. We are expecting to have the results of all this work released to farmers from around mid to late May,” he says. . .

 

Consultation on Campylobacter performance targets open:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is asking for feedback on a range of proposed options for testing of Campylobacter in poultry.

The consultation considers the need for any change to Campylobacter performance targets – contamination limits poultry processors must meet as part of MPI’s routine testing for Campylobacter in broiler chickens.

Paul Dansted, MPI’s Acting Director Systems Audit, Assurance and Monitoring, says that while there have been significant improvements in the control of Campylobacter since performance targets were introduced, it’s important they are continually reviewed. . .

 


Rural round-up

26/05/2014

Golden times return for kiwifruit trade – Jamie Gray:

Just as the last rites were about to be administered to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry, a new disease-resistant variety has restored grower confidence to where it was just before the devastating Psa virus swept through Bay of Plenty orchards late in 2010.

Orchard prices have rebounded, investment has started again and fruit prices are better than for more than 10 years, giving growers reason to be more optimistic, industry representatives say.

Psa has already had a big impact on kiwifruit “gold” volumes, which fell by 55 per cent in 2013/14 compared with the previous season and to the lowest ever, but higher prices overall have helped to boost returns. Zespri estimates that this season will yield 17 million trays of Gold, up from 11 million trays in the previous season — thanks mostly to the fact that the new variety, called Gold3, is Psa-tolerant compared with its highly susceptible predecessor, Hort16A. . .

Open day showcase for award winner – Sally Rae:

”Capturing sunlight in a form you can eat.”

That is how Wayne McIntosh describes the fruit produced on his family’s award-winning orchard at Earnscleugh, near Alexandra.

Mr McIntosh, who has been managing the orchard for 10 years, was the supreme winner of this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards and hosted a field day on the property on Wednesday.

The 64ha property has about 34,000 trees producing cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, apples and a range of trial fruits. . .

Dairy boss picks industry evolution – Jamie Gray:

The acquisition by French food giant Danone of two New Zealand dairy companies last month signals a new phase in the evolution of the local dairy industry – one in which manufacturers will get closer to their brands, says Synlait Milk managing director John Penno.

Danone last month said it had entered an agreement to buy processing firms Sutton Group and Gardians.

The announcement came as the dairy industry negotiated its way through new Chinese infant formula regulations.

Auckland company Sutton is best known for contract manufacturing of infant formula; Gardians has a milk powder spray drying plant in Otago. . . .

Pastoral lifestyles on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau – Keith Woodford:

This week I am writing from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in Western China, at 3600 metres above sea level. The Plateau is part of China’s pastoral zone where lifestyles are based on sheep and yak farming systems. I am here with three New Zealand colleagues from Lincoln University and AgResearch. Jim Moir is our soils specialist, Phil Rolston is our agronomy specialist, and Sharon (Xiaomeng) Lucock is our science and general translator who also helps co-ordinate the program. We are working with colleagues from Qinghai University, and also working with a commercial partner who processes yak milk into yoghurt which sells as far afield as Beijing and Shanghai.

The zone that we are working in is part of the Sanjiangyuan (Source of Three Rivers) Ecological Zone with an area 25% larger than all of New Zealand. The winter lasts for more than six months and the growing season is limited to late May through to the end of September. . . .

Theme recognises Fieldays’ future success – Tony Benny:

The theme for the National Fieldays premier feature this year recognises that the future success of New Zealand agriculture rests on effective use of all resources, says Fieldays chief executive Jon Calder.

Called Managing resources for a competitive advantage, the theme recognises that resources can be human, capital, natural, assets or livestock.

“There’s really a two-fold view. One is that we have got strength and capability in the way we manage our resources and the other is looking at what the future holds in terms of new innovations, new technology and new ways of managing resources,” he says.  . .

Volunteers key to Fieldays success – Sonita Chandar:

While visitors to the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays check out the latest products and innovations from the rural sector, a dedicated team of staff and volunteers work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure all is running smoothly. 

“We have a team of around 36 fulltime staff five of who work solely on Fieldays and more than 120 volunteers,” said Mystery Creek membership administrator Sierra Jenkins.

“Every single one of the volunteers is invaluable and without them the event wouldn’t be the success it is.” 

Volunteers are split into four teams covering all aspects of Fieldays. Around 30 people work in the guest services area overseen by Shirley Murphy. . .

Happy Beef month! We keep one of our steers every so often to use as meat for our family to eat..... it lasts us forever! #EATBEEF Some have pointed out some flaws in this picture and we apologize for that! (It's not ours) But the message to take away is that one steer feeds a lot of people!! (Picture via Kansas Department of Agriculture)


Rural round-up

22/05/2014

Dambusters must not damn Hawke’s Bay’s future:

The draft report from the Tukituki Board of Inquiry is a poor outcome for the entire Hawke’s Bay community, not just farmers.

“The recent Board of Inquiry draft report won’t be a good outcome for Hawke’s Bay if it ends up blocking the single largest environmental and economic opportunity we’ve got from progressing,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“We mustn’t kid ourselves that Ngai Tahu’s polite wording in its withdrawal, simply reflects the kicking Ruataniwha got in the draft decision. 

“They are a big loss but Ngai Tahu is also one very smart farmer.  If it can see the scheme is a financial goer then I am certain they’ll be back, as will other investors. . .

Recovery from Psa and record returns drive rebound of orchard values:

New Zealand kiwifruit growers have received the highest-ever average per-hectare return for supplying Zespri Green Kiwifruit, Zespri’s 2013/14 annual results show.

While the return to the individual grower is influenced by factors such as orchard yield, costs and fruit characteristics, the average $42,659 per-hectare Green return underlined confidence in the industry’s future, Zespri chairman Peter McBride said.

“After the impact of Psa over the past three years, there is a real sense of optimism in the industry now. Orchard prices have rebounded, investment has started again and the future looks bright,” Mr McBride said. . . .

Federated Farmers backs wool levy vote:

Federated Farmers welcomes the opportunity wool growers will have to vote on whether to reinstate a levy on wool.  It urges its members to engage in the process to come, to talk with the Wool Levy Group we’ll help to set up meetings with and above all, to vote.

“Wool has been the quiet export achiever worth $700 million to New Zealand in 2013,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“At that level, it easily eclipsed the exports of personal, cultural, and recreational services, which, by the way, includes motion pictures.

“We are here now because the pan sector Wool Levy Group has learned from history. It is defining what the levy will fund and do but boy, do we need to crack some industry good issues that are holding wool back. . .

$33,000 sale ‘amazing highlight’ for family – Sally Rae:

Selling a bull for $33,000 at the national Hereford sale at AgInnovation was an ”amazing highlight” for the Paterson family from Greenvale, near Gore.

Waikaka Skytower 1289 was bought by Peter Reeves, from Mokairau Station at Gisborne – the third-highest-priced Hereford bull at the sale.

The Paterson family, from Waikaka Station, have been breeding Herefords since 1954 and it was the highest price they have achieved. . .

Student ‘gets his name out there’ – Sally Rae:

It may have been his debut at the Hereford national show and sale – but young Middlemarch breeder Will Gibson made his mark.

His bull Foulden Hill McCoy was third in the Honda Motorcycles Impact Sires led class and went on to sell for $9000 to Nelson Hereford stud Lake Station.

Mr Gibson (20), a third-year student at Lincoln University studying agricultural commerce, also received the Hereford herdsman award. . . .

The simple answer to MPI milk chilling regulations:

There are very few dairy farmers who will not be affected by the new MPI milk chilling regulations. An innovation first revealed at Central Districts Field Days promises to be the simple solution, with some added advantages. And it’s already creating a flurry of interest in the industry.

Matt Parkinson and Dale Stone are already well known in the dairy and refrigeration industries and Snapchill is their answer to the issues that the MPI’s regulations will create.

Snapchill is a milk chilling solution aimed at the 75% of New Zealand farmers who have herds if between 300 and 600 cows. The unit can typically be fitted in a day or two and does not require a power upgrade to the farm supply. It sits between farmers’ existing pre-chillers and the bulk milk vat and works by creating ice during off-peak times when power is cheaper. As it does so, it recovers heat – enough to make a tank full of water at around 82° for the plant wash. . . .


Wide approval for workplace safety reform

08/08/2013

Labour Minister Simon Bridges has announced the most significant reform of New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system in 20 years.

“The Working Safer package represents a major step change in New Zealand’s approach to meet our target of reducing the workplace injury and death toll by 25 percent by 2020,” says Mr Bridges.

“The reforms recalibrate our approach so we are working smarter, targeting risk and working together to improve performance in workplace health and safety.

“This is the legacy we owe to the Pike River families, the families of the 75 people who are killed each year in New Zealand workplaces, and the estimated 600 to 900 who die annually from the long-term effects of occupational disease.”

Mr Bridges says Working Safer addresses the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety which provided Government with a solid foundation to work from.

“We will improve the legislation and back it up with clear guidelines and enforcement, and investment in a strong new regulator WorkSafe New Zealand.

“But achieving the target is not something we can do alone. It also requires leadership and action from business and workers, working with government, sharing the responsibility and driving the solutions on the ground.

“Good health and safety makes good business sense.  It is an investment in improved productivity, staff engagement and in an organisation’s reputation in the community,” Mr Bridges says.

The rabid anti-business sector doesn’t get this.

Safe businesses are better businesses for people, productivity and profits.

Included in the reform package are:

  • an overhaul of the law, supported by clear, consistent guidelines and information for business on their requirements
  • more funding for WorkSafe New Zealand to strengthen enforcement and education and implement the changes
  • a focus on high risk areas
  • stronger focus on occupational harm and hazardous substances
  • better coordination between government agencies
  • improved worker participation
  • stronger penalties, enforcement tools and court powers.

More details on the package here.

BusinessNZ welcomes the changes:

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said it was a significant step in the right direction.

“Moving to a principles-based regime in which health and safety responses are tailored to the business rather than the current one-size-fits-all approach will be a real help to many businesses, as will a simpler approach to levy setting and other costs.

“We are also pleased to see a heavy emphasis on clarifying responsibilities and on providing information and guidance to businesses and their employees.” 

Mr O’Reilly urged that care be taken in finalising the law to avoid unintended consequences. . .

ACC is supportive:

ACC’s Chief Executive, Scott Pickering, says ACC is looking forward to working closely with the new Crown agent ‘WorkSafe New Zealand’. The agency forms the cornerstone of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Health and Safety.

“WorkSafe New Zealand will bring a new, sharper focus to the importance of workplace safety, and ACC will provide all the support we can to ensure more Kiwis go home safe and sound at the end of their working day.”

Mr Pickering says he’s very mindful of the important role ACC plays in injury prevention, but he also looks forward to seeing what can be achieved with a more collaborative approach.

“There’s a growing awareness that New Zealand’s high work-related injury rates require united action, with Government agencies, businesses and workers all working together towards the same goal. . .

Forest Owners Association supports the reforms:

“The government has a vital role to play in improving safety in the workplace,” says president Bill McCallum. “It has the power to pull a range of levers that will influence attitudes, understandings and behaviours of all involved.”

He says lax attitudes to safety are prevalent in New Zealand and even with the best will in the world, it is a battle to get safety to be seen as the number one priority by every individual in the workplace.

“What we desperately need is a change in culture at all levels of our society, so that unsafe work practices are rejected as being socially unacceptable. We have seen huge changes in social attitudes to drink driving and tobacco smoking, thanks largely to government support for campaigns addressing those issues.

“We now need the same focus brought to bear on cultural attitudes that portray risk-taking as being acceptable.

“The real game changer will be when we get acceptance from everyone involved – from the boardroom through to the worker in the forest – that we have a collective and personal responsibility for health and safety. This is a responsibility to and by the worker, as well as to their workmates, their families and the businesses they work for.”

The package has also been welcomed by the CTU:

Helen Kelly, CTU President said “the announcements today acknowledge that our health and safety system is in need of an overhaul, and we welcome the direction taken by the Government with these proposed changes.”

“Moves to strengthen worker participation at the workplace are particularly positive and will help keep Kiwi workers safer at work. The inclusion of a general duty to involve and consult with workers on health and safety matters, and strengthen the role of H&S representatives will give workers a voice in how health and safety is handled in their workplace”.

Her only complaint is no worker representative on the Worksafe New Zealand Board.

Even the  the Public Service Association: welcomes the reforms, though it too complains that there’s no representative for workers on the Worksafe board.

Work safety is the responsibility of employers and employees, wide support for the reforms from representatives of both is a good start.


Rural round-up

23/06/2013

Agri-tech firm big winner at Auckland Export Awards

Farm technology company Tru-Test Group took out the top honours at last night’s Auckland Export NZ awards.

The company which manufactures livestock weigh scale indicators and milk meters also won the Westpac Exporter of the Year – total sales over $25 million. . . .

Zespri’s gold dream back – Richard Rennie:

The rebuilding of gold kiwifruit orchards has met with unprecedented demand from growers this season, with allocations 34% ahead of Zespri’s expectations.

Zespri has allocated 1130ha of licences for the gold fruit in the Psa-tolerant variety Gold3.

This is 288ha more than intended and includes 688ha of new orchard plantings.

The remainder is replacing the more Psa-vulnerable Hort16A variety with Gold3. . .

Yeah right – everyone loves a farmer – Stephen Bell:

I’m continually and increasingly seeing headlines and stories about farmers wanting to improve the opinion urban Kiwis have of them.

But I see little evidence of them doing much to improve their image, apart from moaning about the fact townies don’t understand them and implying this is somehow the townies’ fault.

Fonterra has made a bloody good start with its school milk programme, backed up by a clever and engaging advertising campaign, where the kids are grateful for the milk but relieved the farmers aren’t taking over the running of schools.

However, contrast that with the Silver Fern Farms ads, which portray negative stereotypes of farmers and urban dwellers. If I ever meet the farmer from those ads I might be tempted to whack him in the mush – if someone gives me something to stand on – such is the way he annoys me. He really is a drongo. . . .

Silver Fern Farms Appoints New Independent Director:

Silver Fern Farms has appointed Jane Taylor of Queenstown to the role of Independent Director, following the retirement of Richard Somerville, who was appointed to the Board in 2004.

Jane Taylor, who will be one of the three independent appointees to the Board, is a barrister, a chartered accountant and member of the Institute of Directors and Global Women.

Jane is a Director of Radio New Zealand and the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS Science). She has a strong interest in both the primary sector and the food industry, and was previously a Director of Scion as well as the former Forestry Corporation of New Zealand Ltd. . .

Shining the light on cotton – Art4Agriculture:

Last week 10 of our Young Farming Champions went to Cotton HQ at Mascot where they got the inside story on the Australian Cotton Industry and what an exciting story it is.

Cotton is grown on the east coast of Australia from Emerald to Hay. Just love the denim map

Cotton is seen as an opportunity crop by Australian farmers in the regions where it is grown. It is only grown when water is plentiful and when it provides the best return on investment at that point in time

Now 20 years ago the cotton industry was shall we say not feeling the love from the community and getting a bit of a bad rap about its environmental footprint. Well kudos to them wow have they got their act together to address this by using Cotton BMP to guide their farmers to grow cotton in harmony with our natural environment. Cotton BMP is your guarantee of Australian cotton farmers environmental and ethical stewardship with audited processes and traceable supply chains – from the farm to you. . .

Entries are now open for the 2013 New Zealand International Wine Show:

Established in 2005 this competition has been the largest wine judging event in New Zealand every year and it is also one of the largest international wine shows in the Southern Hemisphere.

There were 2122 entries in 2012 resulting in a total of 22 Trophies and 224 gold medals.

Bob Campbell MW is New Zealand’s leading wine judge and once again he will lead a team of 26 wine senior wine judges. Assistant Chief Judges this year will be Larry McKenna, Peter Cowley and from Australia, Ralph Kyte-Powell. . .


Rural round-up

20/06/2013

Zimbabwe’s first cattle bank opens – Gillian Gtora:

William Mukurazita’s deposit at the bank has four legs and moos.

Zimbabwe’s first “Cattle Bank” has just opened its books in a unique kind of banking where owners bring in their animals as collateral against cash loans.

For many rural poor in this southern African country once wracked by world-record inflation, it’s the first bank account they’ve ever had.

“Cattle banking is the only way owners can get monetary value for their animals without having to sell them,” bank executive Charles Chakoma told The Associated Press amongst fields and small farming plots near Marondera, east of Harare, the capital. . .

Farmers respond to an animal part found in PKE:

Federated Farmers considers the proposed improvements to the biosecurity of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE), following the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) response to the Federation’s Clark-McKinnon Report, cannot come soon enough.  It also comes on the same day an exotic animal body part was confirmed to have found in PKE on a Bay of Plenty farm.

“Can we first pay tribute to the Bay of Plenty dairy farmer who absolutely did the right thing when he or she discovered an animal part in PKE,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“Any farmer who finds something untoward must do what this farmer rightly did and call the Biosecurity hotline; 0800 80 99 66.  Do not ignore or dispose of it.  Report it. . .

Zespri Gold3 licence allocation significantly oversubscribed:

The Zespri Board has announced that 1,130 hectares of licences for the more Psa-tolerant gold kiwifruit cultivar Gold3 will be allocated to Zespri growers in 2013, as the next step in the Psa recovery pathway – 288 hectares more than was originally intended for allocation.  This includes 688 hectares of new gold licences for Green growers and new developments, as well as 442 hectares of Gold One-for-One licences, where Hort16A growers can transfer to Gold3.  

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride says the significant over-subscription clearly demonstrates the confidence the kiwifruit industry has in the recently-licensed gold cultivar, its performance to date in the Psa environment and growers increasingly looking to diversify their orchard portfolios. . .

Young viticulturists challenged to test themselves:

Young viticulturists around the country are being challenged to step up and enter the annual competition to find their best and brightest to represent the sector in the national young horticulture competition later in the year.

An Open Day is being held to give those who need a bit of encouragement or convincing, the chance to find out from previous winners just exactly what’s involved and how good the spoils of winning $12,000 worth of prizes are. . .

Invivo Named Finalist at Export Awards:

New Zealand winery Invivo continues their success in export markets and has been named finalist for 2013 BDO Food and Beverage Exporter of the Year at the Air New Zealand ExportNZ Auckland Awards.

Executive Officer Catherine Lye from ExportNZ Auckland that organises the awards, says, “It was a tough field, with such highly motivated and innovative exporters. “The entrants in this year’s awards were totally unlike each other as far as their businesses and customers were concerned. Yet each of them demonstrated particular areas of excellence.  . . .”

Church Road releases a duo of iconic TOM wines

2009 TOM Cabernet Merlot likely the “best TOM ever”
2010 TOM Chardonnay from “one of the very best Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay vintages”

Church Road, the winery that helped establish Hawke’s Bay as a premier winemaking region is proud to announce the simultaneous release of its two iconic wines – TOM Cabernet Merlot 2009 and TOM Chardonnay 2010.

Crafted only in outstanding vintages, TOM showcases the power and vibrancy of the best hand-harvested parcels of fruit, coupled with the traditional Bordeaux and Burgundian influence of winemaking. . .

Top accolades for 2011 Syrah:

Two Sacred Hill Wine Company Syrahs have recently been rated in the top tier of New Zealand Syrahs in an influential tasting.

Both Sacred Hill Halo Syrah 2011 and Ti Point Syrah 2011 wowed the Cuisine judges in their annual New Zealand Syrah tasting which features in the July edition of the magazine.

The results of the tasting, released today, see Sacred Hill Halo Syrah 2011 with a triple success – 5 stars; ranked in the top 5 wines of the tasting (at No 4); and rated as one of New Zealand’s best Syrah buys. . .


Rural round-up

28/05/2013

Alliance eyes Indian market:

The Alliance Group says the Indian market provides the group with a potentially lucrative export market.

Management from the meat company have just been visiting the country to get a better idea of the market and trading opportunities for the company’s Pure South lamb.

The company says it will be aiming its product at the five-star food service market in top hotels and restaurants. . .

Record returns delivered to New Zealand kiwifruit growers in the shadow of Psa:

Zespri’s annual results for 2012/13 show the highest-ever average Orchard Gate Return (OGR) returns of $51,153 delivered to New Zealand kiwifruit growers. However, the record result comes as the impact of Psa on individual orchards continues to be felt across the industry.

A highlight of the year’s returns was the performance of the Zespri Green category, which accounts for around 70 percent of Zespri’s exported volume. Average per-tray Green returns increased by 21 percent from 2011/12 to $4.62, their highest level since 2003/04. This strong result flowed through to Zespri’s highest-ever average returns per hectare for Green growers of $37,959. . .

Deer industry ponders name change for  venison in Europe:

The deer industry is considering whether to have another go at marketing New Zealand venison in Europe under the name Cervena.

It’s looking for a new approach to counter falling sales in its biggest export market, Germany, where New Zealand venison is under pressure from cheaper European venison coming from countries like Spain and Poland.

Cervena is an appellation for New Zealand farmed venison, developed about 20 years ago.

It’s been used successfully in the United States, as well as New Zealand and Australia. . .

Cardona sale marks first step in Singapore refocus

Vealls Ltd has named its preferred bidder for Cardrona Alpine Resort, the first step in a strategy to refocus on Singapore that is opposed by shareholder Elevation Capital Management.

Te Anau-based tourism company Real Journeys, whose businesses include the TSS Earnslaw and Milford Sound cruises, will make its first foray into skifields if the acquisition meets due diligence and gets shareholder approval.

Cardrona’s operating assets were valued at $A40.9 million, according to Vealls’ first-half accounts, and the skifield was the biggest source of earnings, at $A5.7 million, while the Australian company’s biggest asset, some $A57 million held on deposit with banks, generated just $A509,000, reflecting low interest rates. . .

Richie McCaw lends a hand to support launch Fonterra milk for schools in Christchurch:

Home-town hero Richie McCaw knows the milk being delivered to Christchurch’s Burnside Primary School children as part of Fonterra Milk for Schools will be top-notch. That’s because the rugby legend understands the value of dairy nutrition as part of a balanced diet.

“Throughout my career, my nutritionists have made sure that dairy is a big part of my diet. The message I’ve always got from them is that when it comes to keeping my body in top shape, a few daily serves of dairy should always be on the menu.”  
 
Richie says it is great to know that kids from his home town will directly benefit from having milk every school day with the help of Fonterra farmers, the commitment of local schools and the support of the Christchurch community.  . .

 

Double GOLD for Cirro at 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards:

Cirro is on ‘cloud nine’ after recently being awarded two Gold medals in the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards for their 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon blanc and 2010 Marlborough Pinot noir.

Cirro wines are grown and produced in Marlborough, New Zealand. Winemakers David Tyney and Richard Green released their first vintage in 2009 after deciding to ‘join forces’ and combine their extensive winemaking experience. “From the beginning we wanted to create wines that epitomise the best of Marlborough, classic regional wines that over deliver on flavour and intensity” says David. . .


Rural round-up

04/04/2013

Farmers need to agree what they want – Allan Barber:

The recent meeting in Gore, organised by the Meat Industry Excellence Committee and attended by about 1000 farmers, gave an overwhelming mandate for change to the present condition of the meat industry.

Key aspects of the Excellence Committee’s plan are one company controlling 80% of processing and marketing, a change in farmer supply culture, procurement equality and transparency, farmers to fund the restructure with assistance from the banks, and government backing.

This wish list may sound completely logical and comparatively simple, but it contains a number of assumptions, all of them very hard to achieve and some pretty unrealistic. In the first flush of optimism after the meeting Gerry Eckhoff suggested the new structure could be in place by the start of next season in October. That is patently ridiculous because a wish list doesn’t equate to a workable strategy and business plan. . .

Drought saves gold kiwifruit harvest in north:

The drought that has plagued Northland this summer has brought an unexpected reprieve for kiwifruit growers battling the PSA virus.

The dry weather has stopped the spread of the disease and, against all expectation, Northland’s gold kiwifruit harvest is shaping up to be a good one.

Fruitgrowers Federation Northland director Rick Curtis says growers feared the worst when the virulent strain of PSA was reported in several orchards in and around Kerikeri last spring. . .

Federated Farmers promotes Commerce Commission swaps investigation:

Having written to the Commerce Commission last November, Federated Farmers welcomes the Commerce Commission’s update on its investigation into the promotion and sale of interest rate swaps marketed by various banks.

“If farmers have concerns about the mis-selling of swaps then now is the time to raise them with the Commerce Commission,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Having broken the $50 billion barrier the rural debt market is large and some of the debt instruments are complicated. There has also been a lot of discussion about swaps so the Commerce Commission is best placed to properly investigate them.

“The Commission is rightly looking at swaps from the perspective of the Fair Trading Act 1986. This includes misleading and deceptive conduct in trade such as false and misleading representations. . .

Forest owners vote yes:

The Forest Voice referendum will deliver a clear yes vote in favour of a commodity levy when final results are released in a few days.

The levy, which will be used to fund activities that benefit all forest owners, was the subject of a referendum that ran from 1-29 March. . .

Campaign for Wool — Wool House in Design Spotlight:

International enthusiasm and accolades endorsed wool in London recently at a Campaign for Wool showcase, Wool House.

Over 15,000 people visted Wool House, a two-week event hosted in Somerset House Wool House presented wool as a modern, versatile, lifestyle fibre. It featured a showcase of interiors, fashion and the world of artisan and craft making, along with a hi-tech educational suite.

Wool House invited leading interior designers to offer their vision and seven individual rooms to show how the design community uses wool extensively within their work. Exclusive room sets from designers Donna Wilson, Ashley Hicks, Josephine Ryan, Anne Kyyro Quinn, Mary Fox Linton of Fox Linton Associates and Kit Kemp featured alongside a wool art installation commissioned by the Campaign from Dutch tapestry artist Claudy Jongstra. . .

Coopers Creek Vineyard joins the fight to save our kauri forests:

The Kauri Dieback (KDB) Programme has formed a marketing alliance with New Zealand vineyard Coopers Creek, in an effort to slow the spread of kauri dieback disease.

Relationship Manager for the KDB Programme, Ian Mitchell says, “We are really excited and pleased to welcome Coopers Creek into the ‘save our kauri forests whānau’. Kauri dieback is a devastating disease. Hundreds of our majestic kauri trees have died and we need all the help we can get to prevent it spreading.

Coopers Creek winery is close to Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges where many patches of the forest have been decimated. “We’re acutely aware of the kauri dieback problem”, says Coopers Creek General Manager, David Nicholas. . .

Global Glassware Masters to Create Wine Glass for Central Otago Pinot Noir:

The Austrian director of the esteemed Riedel Glass Company, Georg J. Riedel has travelled to Queenstown to develop a specialty wine glass for Central Otago Pinot Noir in consultation with a group of New Zealand’s leading wine experts.

More than 20 wine producers and writers, including Master of Wine Bob Campbell, took part in a blind glassware taste test with Georg at Jacks Point, Queenstown on Tuesday 19 March to help Riedel create the perfect glass shape for Central Otago Pinot Noir.

Georg is a 10th generation member of the Riedel dynasty, which is renowned for producing high-quality, wine-friendly stemware which delivers the bouquet, taste, balance and finish of a wine to the senses. . .


Rural round-up

06/01/2013

An inspiring start to farming life – Diane Bishop:

The Otago Southland farmer names Tangaroa Walker as its 2012 newsmaker of the year.

The world is Tangaroa Walker’s oyster.

Since winning the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Trainee-Cadet of the Year Award in June last year, he has taken up a lower order sharemilking position on the farm he previously managed at Rimu, near Invercargill.

“I’m really loving it,” Tangaroa said. . .

Beekeepers eschew kiwifruit orchards as Psa sprays create ‘hazard’ – Jonathan Underhill:

Some beekeepers have pulled their hives out of kiwifruit orchards, concerned that sprays used to control the Psa vine-wilting bacteria are the latest hazard for an under-siege bee population.

“More than one beekeeper has withdrawn their hives,” said John Hartnell, honey exporter and bees spokesman at Federated Farmers. He wouldn’t put his own hives on a kiwifruit orchard, saying “that would destroy my business overnight.” . . .

Varroa spread takes heavy toll – Tim Cronshaw:

Some South Island beekeepers with hives freshly exposed to varroa mites have lost up to 25 per cent of their bees.

They have been forced to replenish their hives with new bees by putting in a man- grafted queen cell in the top box of a non-infected colony and shifting it across to restore a full population.

Varroa has continued its run to as far south as Invercargill now, with the few remaining pockets in the South Island expected to be infected by autumn. . .

Pasture for dairy cows under trial – Terri Russell:

A Southland agricultural research centre is participating in its first trial of grass that will be grazed by dairy cows instead of sheep, a likely result of the shift to dairying in Southland, the centre manager says.

Woodlands Research Station is one of four sites throughout New Zealand hosting the trial, run by DairyNZ and AgResearch, to measure the growth of different pasture varieties.

The centre is monitoring eight varieties of grass over five years and across 20 paddocks. . .

Outlook cloudy for 2013 – Allan Barber:

As we head into the New Year, the Christmas break has provided an opportunity to consider how the meat industry is likely to pan out during 2013. But literally as I write this speculative opinion piece, the fate of the American economy is still uncertain – although the Senate approved a restructured deal on taxes and expenditure yesterday, Republican dominated Congress has yet again balked at reaching an acceptable conclusion.

By the time you read this, the situation will no doubt have changed again for the better or the worse, but it isn’t easy to predict which. . .

Ministry needs recreational quad bike focus:

Farmers are taking quad bike safety seriously, but the latest incident in the Hawke’s Bay, again highlights this message is not getting through to recreational users.

“Recreational users, quad bikes and alcohol are a cocktail for disaster,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers spokesperson for health and safety.

“While many farmers are heeding the safety message, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment need to find a better way to convey safety when it comes to recreational users. . .


Rural round-up

23/10/2012

New growing sites may help save kiwifruit – Jamie Morton:

The Psa bacterium is here to stay so growers must manage it, says horticulture expert.

Kiwifruit growing regions outside the Bay of Plenty could soon play bigger parts in a $1 billion-a-year industry battling a bacterial scourge that is here to stay.

Professor Ian Warrington, co-president of the International Horticulture Congress, has suggested ways New Zealand could live with Psa-V, which has now spread as far as Hawkes Bay since its discovery in heartland Te Puke nearly two years ago. . .

Landcorp denies Crafar farms ale meddling – Andrea Fox:

Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly says he’s getting fed up with suggestions that, as intended Crafar farms manager for Chinese purchaser Shanghai Pengxin, he is frustrating iwi efforts to buy two of the central North Island farms.

The state-owned enterprise boss said he had heard the rumours and they were “simply not correct”.

However he said that as the two farms at Benneydale constituted a significant 25 per cent of the whole 16 farm Crafar estate package, personally, he would be asking Landcorp’s future Chinese partner to consider why it would want to sell them. . .

 

Trial may be of global importance:

The Clutha Agricultural Development Board’s latest project, on the value of probiotics to calves in their first few weeks of life, is believed to be of national and possibly international importance.

The project involved about 300 calves on three farms in the Clutha district.

In New Zealand, only one limited study of the possible weight gain and health benefits to calves has been done previously, and the board was thought to be undertaking a “significant study of national and perhaps international importance”, the board said. . .

Future of sheep farming ‘not flash‘ – Sally Rae:

The potential for New Zealand’s primary sector is significant but the industry must get better at how it takes its products to markets, both individually and collectively, New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge tells Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae.

Imagine New Zealand without sheep and without a sheep industry.

That is a scenario New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge poses.

A scenario that he says is “actually quite on the cards” if the status quo continues. . .

Bettering deer genetics just the job for Sharon – Sally Rae:

Sharon McIntyre reckons her new role as DEERSelect manager is about “a perfect fit” for her skill set.

The Gore-based farm consultant, who has been heavily involved in genetics for 25 years, was enthusiastic about the part-time position.

She has provided technical assistance to Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL) for five years and it was a “logical step” to be involved with improving deer genetics as well.

DEERSelect runs a system to evaluate the genetic worth of stags which then allows breeders and finishers to select for desirable traits in their deer herds. . .


Rural round-up

16/10/2012

Bacteria Are Smart Survivors, Including PSA – Sue Edmonds:

The PSA bacteria (Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae) isn’t just attacking New Zealand kiwifruit vines. Now considered a pandemic, it has spread to twelve countries.

First recorded in China in 1984, attempts to curtail its spread are not working very well here, with affected vines being removed, and copper and streptomycin sprays proving ineffectual.

Fred Harvey of Te Puke, a relatively small grower who has been using biological methods focused on soil and vine health, had heard reports from Italy that things were improving there. Although his orchard has some PSA infection, he wasn’t convinced that the advice being given to New Zealand growers was the total answer. So he took a trip to a major Italian growing area south of Rome, and spent four days interviewing kiwifruit orchardists whose revised systems were showing both lowered rates of infection and increased harvests. . .

Mission Estate’s revolutionary new technique could minimise major economic threat to New Zealand’s vineyards:

It’s the often-invisible virus that lowers vineyard yields and affects wine quality, making it arguably the most economically damaging threat to the New Zealand wine industry.

Now, a world first indicator grafting technique developed by Mission Estate Viticulturist Caine Thompson and Professor Gerhard Pietersen from the University of Pretoria, South Africa could identify leaf roll virus in white varieties before it takes hold. . .

If we imagine beyond the actuality of how we produce – Pasture Harmonies:

Science has served New Zealand agriculture extremely well. It should and needs to do so in the future.

It is also that pragmatic rationale approach that has delivered and developed a wonderfully integrated on-farm representation of responsible pastoralism.

Put another way, we’ve engineered a farming solution that makes best use of the temperate climate and relatively thin, bony, young soils of New Zealand.

We are one of the few countries in the world where farmers aren’t peasants.

We tend to take it so much for granted, that what we have, what we project from (most of) our farming, is ‘normal’. In doing so we forget what it looks like. . .

Ministry for Primary Industries’ Strategy 2030 – Allan Barber:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has set itself an ambitious strategy to 2030 with the subtitle ‘Growing and protecting New Zealand.’ In its introduction, the Ministry asks ‘Why this strategy?’ which it answers by saying a re-balancing of the economy towards more productive sources of growth is required and New Zealand must trade itself to greater growth and prosperity.

When one considers that 71 cents in every dollar of merchandise export earnings come from the primary sector, there are no prizes for guessing where most of this is expected to come from. The Government’s strategic growth agenda contains the goal of increasing the ratio of exports to GDP from 30% to 40% of GDP by 2025, so clearly agriculture will be expected to generate the majority of this increase. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand support Café Challenge

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is teaming up with NZX Agri on an initiative to create a greater understanding of the agriculture sector.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Dr Scott Champion said the two organisations were working together on the Café Challenge, a light hearted initiative to get rural publications onto the magazine racks of city cafes.

“We want to share positive farming stories with city folk and a great way to do that is to ensure rural publications are among the magazines they read in city cafes.” . . .

Hey, Farmer man, What Are You Doing? that’s Not Your Land. NZ’s State-Run Farms – Life Behind the Iron Drape:

I’m in the process of penning a piece regarding Tyler Cowan’s interesting Great Stagnation Thesis, as it may apply to farming in New Zealand, and much sooner than might be thought with a Labour/Green government artificially stopping on-farm innovation and taxing the last life out of the sector from 2014 – for the good of the environment, of course – however, in the interim, there is one frightening connection between farming in New Zealand and China, that has nothing to do with the Labour/Green/NZ First xenophobia regarding Chinese investment, that may also feed into this: it’s the out-of-control, indebted state, again, and it’s destruction of private property rights as a means for its survival. . .

Rural round-up

01/09/2012

NZ beef carbon footprint study highlights productivity gains

The New Zealand beef industry has completed a study1 examining the full carbon footprint of New Zealand beef, and it highlights significant productivity gains.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand General Manager Market Access, Ben O’Brien says the study was driven by the industry’s sustainability focus and the dual challenges posed by an increasing global population and pressure on the planet’s limited resources.

“We see this study as making a valuable contribution to the global livestock production story and we will be contributing the results of this study to the FAO work programme on environmental performance of livestock food chains.” . . .

A tale of two countries on pest control – Bruce Wills:

Sometimes we Kiwis don’t appreciate how good we’ve got it.

That truth was rammed home to me in a discussion I had with a visiting British academic, Dr Gareth Enticott.

Dr Enticott is looking into lessons that could be taken back to Britain to deal with their Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) problem.

He was also on the West Coast earlier in the week to meet with one of our board members, Katie Milne. . .

Merino mitts a hot seller – Rebecca Ryan:

Tucked away just off Oamaru’s main street is Kate Watts’ boutique studio – the home of her popular range of fine merino fingerless gloves.

 From Auckland to Invercargill, Miss Watts has about 100 stockists of her hand-printed range, but she is thrilled with the way they have taken off in Oamaru.

“The small towns are definitely the biggest part of my business. There’s a surprising number of small towns across the country and that seems to be where we make most of the money,” she said. . .

Ram testing has lifted quality of lamb flock – Jacquie Webby:

In the 10 years since it was introduced, Central Progeny testing has become a recognised tool for New Zealand sheep farmers.

Launched in June 2002, the Central Progeny Test (CPT) helps farmers identify rams that are superior for traits which add value to sheep farming operations.

The tests compare rams by running their progeny in identical environments, allowing a comparison not by environmental conditions but by genetics. . .

Sowing seeds of new hobby – Jacquie webby:

Rural schoolchildren are being encouraged to experience the magic of growing vegetables and fruit trees – helped along by hopefully securing one of two grants from Rural Women New Zealand.

The organisation has joined forces with Meridian, which is funding two $2000 cash grants for schools to buy equipment, seedlings or plants.

National president Liz Evans said knowing how to grow fruit and vegetables was a basic skill that would stand children in good stead during their lives. . . .

Progressive global beef and lamb developments:

While a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) points towards growing New Zealand agribusiness globally, Craig Hickson, of Hawke’s Bay based Progressive Meats, proves there is opportunity left in our traditional markets.

“While we must maximise the potential of New Zealand’s land resource, there is an inescapable logic about taking our intellectual property and skills globally,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“If we take a leaf from the automotive industry, Toyota now makes most of its vehicles outside Japan. . .

Dairy NZ is calling for applciations for its On-Farm Innovation Fund:

The On-Farm Innovation Fund helps turn great ideas into better on farm  practice. It is aimed specifically at farmers, people who work with farmers and  smaller organisations that would not normally have ready access to innovation  and research funding.

Projects that are funded will demonstrate their success by showing on farm  improvements that can be readily and easily taken up by New Zealand dairy  farmers. . .


Zespri releases Gold3 for PSA revocery

15/06/2012

 

Zespri has released 2068 hectares of Gold3, a commercialised kiwifruit variety with tolerance to PSA which has decimated orchards.

Gold3 is a kiwifruit variety commercialised in 2010 by ZESPRI after 10 years of development.  It was selected from the extensive ZESPRI and Plant & Food Research new variety programme for its qualities of high orchard yields, handling characteristics, storage and positive appeal to consumers determined through in-market sensory work over consecutive seasons.

Subsequent to its commercial release, Gold3 has, to date, shown a greater level of tolerance to Psa than the original ZESPRI® GOLD variety, Hort16A.  This level of Psa tolerance combined with Gold3’s commercial qualities has made it the cornerstone of the recovery pathway from Psa.

ZESPRI Chief Executive, Lain Jager, said the wide-scale release of Gold3 was significant for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry for two reasons. 

Firstly, of the 2068 hectares of Gold3 released, 1610 hectares will be to Hort16A growers, starting the process of all Hort16A growers eventually transitioning their orchards to a more Psa tolerant Gold cultivar?

Secondly, this will be the largest transition to a new variety in a year that has ever been undertaken by the industry and represents the transition of almost 15 percent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit hectarage to a new variety.  The previous largest transition to a new variety was in 2000, with the release of 1200 hectares of Hort16A to the industry.

“The impact of Psa on the New Zealand kiwifruit industry has been devastating.  Almost half of all New Zealand kiwifruit hectares now have some level of infection.  With this transition to Gold3 we can see that around 1600 hectares of Hort16A canopy will be cut out as a result of Psa since November 2010?

“The announcement today is a significant turning point for our industry both in terms of beginning to emerge from Psa and in cementing the future growth of the industry,” Mr Jager said.

As well as the release of Gold3 to current Hort16A growers, a further 359 Gold3 hectares have been released to non-Hort16A growers, to give them an opportunity to diversify their orchard portfolio and have access to a higher-performing cultivar. 

Mr Jager cautioned while the release was a real positive for the industry, there still remained a high level of risk around the Gold3 recovery pathway?

“There are no Psa resistant varieties.  This means even with the introduction of a variety with greater Psa tolerance, the learning curve for the industry as to how to best manage orchards in a Psa environment remains steep.

“Mitigating this risk will require the proactive management of orchards and an ongoing commitment to innovation.  Managing the threat of Psa must now be considered as business-as-usual for all growers and the wider industry.”

Mr Jager said while the presence of Psa would mean a level of ongoing uncertainty for kiwifruit producers, the kiwifruit industry’s unified structure coupled with the resilience and determination of New Zealand kiwifruit growers has allowed it to find a way forward in the face of the devastation caused by Psa.

This isn’t a cure but  it is progress.

New Zealand research on the disease is being watched closely by other countries which have had the disease for much longer but had little success in combating it.

P.S.

Are New Zealand and Australia the only countries which call the fruit kiwifruit?

Whenever I’ve seen it in North and South America or Europe it’s just called kiwi, presumably because people there wouldn’t confuse it with the bird or the people as we might on either side of the Tasman.


Desperate and stupid

30/05/2012

While the sinking of the Rena  and the impact on the Bay of Plenty economy was getting headlines, the far more serious impact of PSA on kiwifruit orchardists was largely under-reported.

People lost not just crops but their whole orchards. Jobs have gone, livelihoods have been destroyed and with them have gone many retirement plans.

Desperate circumstance demand desperate measures, but injecting vines with antibiotics was not just desperate, it was really, really stupid.

Zespri spokesman Dave Courtney said about 40 growers were referred to the ministry and “a majority of them will be in the Bay of Plenty region”.

Mr Courtney said Zespri tested every kiwifruit orchard in New Zealand and 99 per cent were cleared for exports.

But about 0.5 per cent – about 500,000 trays – of this year’s harvest would not be sold as a result of the misuse of streptomycin.

They would be destroyed through mulching.

Mr Courtney said Zespri made it “very clear” to growers that injecting vines was not permitted and there would be consequences for any fruit found with residual antibiotics at harvest.

“It was very well advertised through the industry. However, some people didn’t follow the rules and that’s what has happened here.”

All farmers, be they raising livestock or growing crops, ought to know about what can and can’t be used on their produce.

Injecting vines  didn’t just endanger their own crops. Had it not been discovered it could have done great harm to the industry and New Zealand’s reputation for food safety.


Election returns

08/04/2012

Candidate returns and registered promoter expense returns for last year’s election and referendum have been made public.

A summary of data disclosed in each candidate return is now available here.

The information includes amounts disclosed for donations, contributions to donations, anonymous donations, and overseas donations, and election expenses for newspaper advertising, radio and television advertising, internet advertising, and other forms of advertising.

• Candidate returns organised by electorate are available here.

• Candidate returns organised by party are available here.

Only registered promoters who spent more than $100,000 on election or referendum expenses during the regulated period (which started on 26 August and ended on 25 November 2011) were required to file a return. Copies of the registered promoters’ returns are available here.

Only four organisations filed promoter returns: Campaign for MMP spent $156,568.61 and Vote for Change spent $79,047.66 on the referendum; the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and Public Service Association (PSA) spent $280,100.86 and $196,368.34 respecitively on the election.

Any thoughts on which party or parties the two unions were promoting and whether they thought it was money well-spent?


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