Rural round-up

May 6, 2015

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill passes final reading:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the unanimous support for the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill during its third and final reading in Parliament today.

“This bill will strengthen the protection of animals in New Zealand by improving the enforceability, clarity, and transparency of the Animal Welfare Act 1999,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealanders care deeply about how animals are treated. Sixty eight per cent of New Zealand households have at least one pet, and we earn around $25 billion a year by exporting animal products such as meat, milk and wool.

“How we treat animals matters not just to animals, but to ourselves and overseas markets.” . .

Leading light lost – Sandra Taylor:

This country’s beef industry lost one of its leading lights with the sudden death of Lindsay Haugh last month. The North Canterbury farmer’s enthusiasm for cattle breeding was reflected in the measurable progress he made in the commercial Angus beef breeding herd he ran on The Sisters, the Haugh family’s farm at Parnassus.

He bought the first of his Angus breeding cows in 1990 and this ignited his passion for breeding and genetics.

A great proponent of estimated breeding values (EBVs) Haugh showed how well they could work in a commercial breeding herd by incrementally increasing the efficiency and productivity of his cows. Haugh’s focus was on producing steers with superior-quality carcase characteristics for the Five Star Beef feedlot from cows that were able to survive and reproduce off marginal hill country. . .

‘Farming is a fantastic way to bring up a family’  – Kate Taylor:

The best fertiliser for any property is the farmer’s footprints say Sam and Gemma Hain, who own the 1050ha Waikura Station at Pehiri, west of Gisborne, and 135ha block Turiwai at Te Karaka.

The Hains were finalists in this year’s East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“I’m home for morning tea and lunch most days. Farming is a great lifestyle and financially very rewarding as well. It gives us a lot of pleasure and enjoyment to do it well,” says Sam.

Waikura has large tracts of native bush – about 150ha in total. Sam says their value is in the “health of the land… the wildlife… you can get up in the morning and hear a cacophony of bird sound. This is our slice of paradise,” he says. . .

New quad bike rules ‘heavy-handed’:

Farmers are increasingly frustrated and fearful over upcoming changes to health and safety legislation around quad bikes, a farming industry leader says.

Later this year, changes to the Health and Safety Act will result in tougher penalties for non-compliance, including higher fines for people riding quad bikes with passengers.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons said farmers in the meat and wool industry were concerned.

Farms were workplaces as well as homes, and new harsher penalties for having passengers on quad bikes would change things dramatically for families; what was needed was a code of compliance for for quad bikes rather than “draconian” new rules, he said. . .

Kiwi Sheep And Beef Farmers And French Counterparts Share Common Ground:

New Zealand and French livestock farmers face many similar challenges, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following a visit here by French livestock sector leaders.

“Farmers in France have a lot in common with Kiwi farmers – they are dealing with many of the same sorts of issues that sheep and beef farmers come up against here. The more we share perspectives on those issues, the better that we’re able to understand each other,” said B+LNZ chief executive Dr Scott Champion.

Supporting the sheep and beef sector’s market opportunities is a major priority for B+LNZ – including in high-value markets like France, where New Zealand has a stable and long-established trading relationship. New Zealand exported around $135 million of sheepmeat to France in 2014, more than half of which was chilled product. . .

 Wool scouring merger a win for New Zealand:

Christchurch-based wool processor and trader New Zealand Wool Services has welcomed the Commerce Commission’s preliminary endorsement of its merger with Cavalier Wool Holding’s wool scouring operations in New Zealand.

Cavalier’s scouring services will be merged with the scouring assets of New Zealand Wool Services International, owned by Australian-based wool processor and merchant Lempriere, pending final Commerce Commission approval.

Lempriere managing director William Lempriere said the purchase was a positive and overdue result for the New Zealand wool industry. . .


Berries and from China refuels Country of Origin labelling debate – Stephanie Melbourne:

New phone scanning technologies could add a new angle to Country of Origin labelling, which traditionally in New Zealand has been a voluntary practice for the food industry to use as a marketing tool, even though it is required in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia.

A recent labelling issue in Australia regarding frozen berries imported from China has further fuelled the ongoing debate surrounding Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) highlighting its relevancy and the value of knowing exactly where the food we eat comes from.

The Australian CoOL standard which commenced in 2006 requires mandatory country of origin labelling on all packaged foods, fish, pork and fresh whole or cut fruit and vegetables. They also have guidelines for the use of the terms “Product of Australia” and “Made in Australia”. Since then, there has been a raft of public reviews, and legislative and regulatory attempts to clarify the laws relating to CoOL in Australia. . . .

Rural round-up

April 10, 2015

No 1080 found in 100,000 plus tests:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has carried out more than 100,000 tests since a threat to contaminate infant formula but none has detected any trace of 1080, it says.

It is almost a fortnight since the deadline imposed by a blackmailer threatening to contaminate infant formula with the pesticide.

The ministry began its testing in mid-January, after the threat was made. . .

Dairy farm’s boss has eye for talent – Sue O’Dowd:

The 2015 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year is on track for his second record production season on a Central Taranaki dairy farm.

Lance Chadwick is in his second season as manager of a 115ha (effective) Toko property owned by farm consultant Brendan Attrill and wife Susan Mundt.

Chadwick’s win is also the second successive Taranaki Dairy Awards title with which Attrill has a connection.

The 2014 Taranaki and New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners, Jody and Charlie McCaig, were variable order sharemilkers on the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust Farm supervised by Attrill when they won both titles last year. . .

Stay safe on quads:

Farmers are being urged to take special care on quad-bikes after two fatalities this week. A farmer died on his Wairarapa farm on Tuesday, while a 17-year-old died today on a farm in Kaikohe.

“These two tragic events are a reminder to the farming community that while quad-bikes are a useful tool on the farm, they need to be used safely,” says Francois Barton, Manager of National Programmes at WorkSafe New Zealand.

“Five people died on quad-bikes in 2014 and many were seriously harmed. Using a quad safely comes down to the attitude of the user, their safety practices, making safe choices and using the bike responsibly.” . .

Former rural reporter becomes a dairy farmer in New Zealand Angela Owens and Sally Bryant:

It is not common to hear of young people leaving a successful career to go into farming but it is a move that has worked for one former journalist.

Former ABC Radio journalist Brad Markham worked in rural New South Wales and then became the state political reporter in Tasmania before throwing down the microphone and pulling on the gumboots.

Mr Markham grew up on a dairy farm, but chose a life in media and was having considerable success in that field. . .

Free workshops to up-skill NAIT users:

Farmers are being encouraged to get along to a series of workshops on how to use OSPRI’s National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme.

The workshops have been tailored to beef, deer and lifestyle farmers, and will provide a hands-on, interactive two-hour experience using NAIT’s online system.

OSPRI Acting Chief Executive Stu Hutchings said the workshops aim to help new users of the NAIT system and those needing a refresher course. The feedback to date from farmers who have attended a workshop has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The NAIT programme is critical to biosecurity and market access. To be effective, we need all cattle and deer tagged and registered with NAIT as well as up to date data on their location and movements,” said Dr Hutchings. . .

New manager to strengthen DairyNZ’s Forage Value Index:

The addition of persistence and metabolisable energy (ME) traits to the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) are seen as key targets for Cameron Ludemann in his new role as Forage Value Manager.

Cameron, originally from a mixed farm in mid-Canterbury, joins DairyNZ having submitted his PhD thesis last year at the University of Melbourne.

In his thesis he assessed the value of changes in perennial ryegrass traits for Australian dairy farmers. The work was funded through the Dairy Futures Co-operative Research Centre.

A major component of Cameron’s thesis was the assessment of the value of improvements in the ME concentration trait in perennial ryegrass for Australian dairy farmers. . .

 Final Results in Kiwifruit Grower Referendum Confirmed:

The final results in the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) referendum have now been officially confirmed by election management company Electionz.

KISP’s independent Chair, Neil Richardson, said that the official results have changed very little from the interim results and now they have been confirmed, the industry’s focus will turn to implementing the recommendations.

“With the official final results showing over 90% support for each recommendation in the referendum, including 97% support for the industry’s single point of entry structure, growers have sent a very clear message to the Government, Zespri, and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) on how they want their industry to be structured and controlled. . .



Farm tools not toys

January 9, 2014

The death of another child who was riding a quad bike is another tragedy.

Police are investigating and there will be an inquest.

Both are certain to reinforce what Southland Federated Farmers chair Russell MacPherson says – quads are farm tools not toys.

. . . Quad bikes looked like fun and could be fun but were terribly dangerous machines, especially in the hands of young people, Mr MacPherson said.

“This is a reminder to parents and grandparents, our children and grandchildren should not be on adult quad bikes, it’s that simple.”

Full-sized four-wheelers carried labels from the manufacturer specifying no-one under 16 should ride one.

The adult-size four-wheelers were heavy, powerful machines and needed an adult to control them, Mr MacPherson said.

“You need weight to manoeuvre and control an adult four-wheeler and kids don’t have that.”

No passengers should be carried on a four-wheeler either, unless designed to do so: passengers restrict the rider’s mobility and add weight, making it harder to control and more prone to tipping over.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the family involved, for Southland and farming communities and if anything can come out of it, it will be a reminder that four-wheelers are dangerous and potentially can kill,” Mr MacPherson said. . .

Few if any people would consider letting young children ride an adult 2-wheel motor bike; drive a tractor, truck or digger or use a chain saw.

The same cautious approach should apply to quads.

They are deceptively easy to ride in perfect conditions but they are large, heavy and unstable machines which can be very difficult for experienced adult riders to handle when even something minor goes wrong.

Rural round-up

December 21, 2013

Mixed feelings ond airy announcements – James Houghton:

There were several announcements last week in the dairy industry that kept everyone on their toes. There was Fonterra’s announcement that they are keeping the farmgate milkprice at $8.30, the Government’s release from the first round of their inquiry into the botulism scare and more recently Fonterra’s announcement that they are cancelling their colostrum collections.

Farmers will be happy to see the milk price confirmed but since 85 percent of the dividend payout goes to farmer-shareholders, they will have mixed feelings since its 22 cents per share haircut. Management needs to note the concerns we shareholders will have on the value-add, which seems to be struggling right now.  While key markets continue to struggle for growth that is set against a backdrop of improving economic numbers, we farmers seem to be missing out? Whilst I prefer to see the Board under promising and leaving something in the tank, we are still awaiting management to over deliver on the value add. Farmers will need to budget conservatively going into the New Year. Farmers will once again be accessing the benefits of remaining loyal to Fonterra. . .

Squatters invade Waitiki farm after Ruto reveals ministry will buy land – Mathias Ringa:

Thousands of people have invaded two farms in Mombasa after the government announced plans to buy them and settle squatters.

Residents have flocked to the 930-acre Waitiki farm and Kwa Bhulo since Deputy President William Ruto said the government will buy the two farms to settle over 100,000 squatters.

Some of the invaders are building houses and subdividing the properties to plots.

According to Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa, some land dealers were illegally selling off empty spaces at the farm and the 86-acre Kwa Bhulo plot at Bamburi to unsuspecting buyers. . .

VFF urges quad bike safety:

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) urges farmers to take care of their families and themselves during the upcoming holiday season by taking safety precautions with quad bikes.

Adult-size quad bikes are covered in manufacturer warnings stating children under the age of 16 should never operate the vehicle.

“Quad bikes are a major cause of deaths and injuries to Australian farmers and their children,” VFF Farmsafe Alliance manager Tim McKenzie said. “The trauma associated with a lot of these life-changing injuries is overwhelming. . .

Poppy trials in Vic:

SCIENTIFIC trials of poppies being undertaken across Victoria by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Australia are just one small step in what is a significant process before full-scale commercial production proceeds.

The Victorian trials began in July this year, following approval granted by the Victorian Government.

They involve small plots being growing in different areas of the state. . . .

Every School Should Have a Farm to Feed Its Students – Courtney Leeds:

I have always loved working with my hands. It is only now, after five years of farming that I realize I chose to farm as a way to work with my hands every day.
It started in San Francisco, where I worked as an apprentice at Little City Gardens and quickly fell in love with the meditative repetition of working the soil, planting, weeding, repeating. I also fell in love with doing work with a purpose, nourishing others and myself. After eight years in San Francisco, I left to work on rural farms in Oregon and abroad. Those experiences inspired me to make my way as a farmer. After a yearlong apprenticeship at Zenger Farm in Portland, Oregon, I jumped at the chance to start an urban farm with another apprentice, Justin Davidson.  . .

Expressive Reserve Pinot Gris 2013 from Gunn Estate :

Gunn Estate Reserve Pinot Gris has harnessed the best of the outstanding 2013 Marlborough vintage in a wine which is both complex and expressive.

The wine, released this week, is built on the strong winemaking tradition of the Gunn Estate brand, to showcase the essence of Pinot Gris as a varietal and the Marlborough origins of its fruit.

The Gunn Estate Reserve range was launched earlier this year with four wines from the 2012 vintage. They have quickly proved popular among Kiwi wine drinkers while attracting plaudits from many of the country’s wine writers for their quality and value for money. The 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc also won a gold medal at the Spiegelau International Wine Show shortly after its release. . .

Rural round-up

November 24, 2013

Demand grows for halal meat exports – Julian Lee:

Halal meat is becoming one of New Zealand’s major exports, with the billion-dollar industry now feeding 75 countries.

But as production expands, questions are being raised about whether all New Zealand meat should become halal.

Today was the first-ever meeting in New Zealand of the Muslim World Forum, a growing global organisation which looks after Muslim interests worldwide.

But the meeting was dominated by talk about a silently booming industry. . .

Chinese ‘still wary of formula from NZ’ – Nigel Stirling:

Chinese parents scared by reports of potentially fatal contamination of infant formula from New Zealand didn’t get the later memo telling them it was safe, a Chinese formula company owner says.

Suguo Wu, the owner of NZ Goldmax Health, was in Dunedin earlier this month for a global food-safety conference and said the future of infant formula sales from NZ to China hinged on restoring its reputation quickly.

Wu said the initial reporting of Fonterra’s botulism scare cost his company dearly as consumers deserted NZ-sourced brands.

Official reassurances from Fonterra and the NZ Government were not reported as widely in China and consumers remained wary, he said. . . .

Quad bike roll bars debated on both sides of Tasman:

Quad bikes are a major killer on farms on both sides of the Tasman, and farm safety experts in both Australia and New Zealand are debating the need for roll bars to be fitted to all vehicles.

Earlier this month a New Zealand coroner Brant Shortland found five quad deaths could have been prevented if bikes had roll bars.

“I still think it’s an individual decision, my view is I think there is enough information that suggests that roll over bars will save life more than others,” he told the ABC.

New South Wales University’s Professor Raphael Grzebieta has done extensive research to inform people about the limitations of these types of vehicles. . .

Call to retrain quad trainers – Richard Rennie:

Retraining the trainers of quad-bike riders has been offered as a means to reduce death and injury to farmers on the machines.

Tauranga-based driving instructor John James was asked to address the coronial inquest into five quad bike deaths this year (Farmers Weekly, November 18).

“The coroner Brandt Shortland contacted me and asked me to present to his inquest after I had taken him for a ride on a quad,” James said. . .

Chris Hay wins young auctioneer title – Abby Brown:

Chris Hay has beaten out eight auctioneers to win the Young Auctioneer title.

Hay won the second annual Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition held at the Canterbury A&P Show.

The New Zealand Farmers Livestock representative for Wanganui and Waverly put his 14 months of auctioneering experience to use in the mock auction, where he had to sell two live beasts on November 15. . .

UN International Year of Family Farming 2014 successfuly launched in New Zealand:

Representatives from around 40 family farming organisations and their associates gathered at Parliament today for a day-long Inaugural Forum to launch the UN International Year of Family Farming 2014. (The official UN launch at UN headquarters in New York was also on November 22.) . .

Rural round-up

November 4, 2013

Few farms in foreign hands says English – Alan Wood:

Foreign investment in New Zealand farmland, including dairy farms, remains relatively low and has significant safeguards, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Some investment, including that in the Crafar farms in the North Island by the Chinese, has raised the hackles of some Kiwis.

For example, Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa spokesman Murray Horton says he is firmly against ownership of New Zealand land by foreigners, whether they be Chinese, American, Australian or British.

Last month the China-based Shanghai Pengxin Group announced a takeover bid for Synlait Farms, in association with two of Synlait’s founders, John Penno and Juliet Maclean. . .

The Industrialisation of American Dairying and the Implications for New Zealand: Keith Woodford:

The ‘handout notes’ that follow were written  for a Lincoln University Dairy Farm Focus Day on 10 October 2013. These focus days are held every two months. This one was attended by about 200 farmers and rural professionals. I gave the presentation as Lincoln’s Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness, standing on a trailer out in the paddock – so basically it was all ad libbed without visual aids. Actually,  sometimes it is fun to talk without the distraction of powerpoints!


  • The American dairy industry is rapidly transforming to an industrial model based on large scale (>2000 cow) mega farms.
  • As of 2013, approximately 40% of American production comes from 800 mega farms.
  • Another 30% comes from a further 2500 farms, each with between 500 and 2,000 cows.
  • The final 30% comes from more than 50,000 farms with less than 500 cows
  • The mega farms have costs of production that are much lower than the smaller farms. . .


Farming robot could bring the cows in – Jill Galloway:

“Like a four-wheel-drive wheelchair on steroids” is how Andrew Manderson describes his Agri-Rover.

He designed the prototype farm robot which was built by a team from AgResearch and Lincoln University, using industrial parts and costing $4000.

It was a robust machine and had a powerful engine, said Dr Manderson.

It would comfortably trundle around a paddock, so long as it didn’t encounter a gradient of more than 20 degrees.

He said it had a top speed of 5kmh, but with a few adjustments it could really motor.

(Click on the link above to see a video of the robot in action)

Winning the battle against boxthorn pest – Ruth Grundy:

Graeme Loh is the first to admit he is more ”exterminator” than ”nurturer”.

He is the Department of Conservation (Doc) ranger who oversees one of the country’s newest reserves, a prominent and ancient limestone outcrop at Gards Rd, between Duntroon and Kurow.

He said his main focus was to eradicate an aggressive exotic invader – boxthorn – which threatened to appropriate this national treasure.

”People don’t realise how bad a weed it is and how difficult it is to remove.” . . .

Farmsafe says quad bike research backs roll bars – Anna Vidot:

Farm safety advocates say the science is in, and now is the time to start encouraging people to use quad bikes with roll bars.

Manufacturers of the vehicles have long argued that crush protection bars cause more injuries than they prevent, and take the focus away from other safety measures like helmets and proper training.

But Farmsafe Australia says there’s mounting evidence that crush protection bars are more likely to save a life than not, if a quad bike rolls. . . .

Dogs queue up for aversion training

Kiwi advocate Lesley Baigent  was  gratified by the response  to Saturday’s kiwi aversion  training session for dogs at the
Raetea reserve, at the northern foot of the Mangamuka  Gorge.

Dogs were literally queuing  up to undergo the training,  which involves a special collar  delivering an electric shock at  the appropriate moment to  persuade the dogs that kiwi  are best left alone. Success rates varied, Lesley said, and there were certainly  no expectations of 100 per  cent. . . .

Rural round-up

May 27, 2013

Go farming, young Kiwis – Bruce Wills:

What is your perception of a farm worker? The response from those who do not know much about farming is possibly that they are low-skilled, low-waged and over-worked.

Federated Farmers, with Rabobank, have produced an annual remuneration survey for a number of years with the most recent released last month. The positive thing about social media is that it is easy to catch out those ‘swinging the lead’. The downside is that it anyone with a keyboard can take aim and fire a salvo.

The response to our 2013 survey, aside from one colourful Facebook post, has been that it is on the money, if you excuse a poorly chosen pun.

We are coming out of the shadows on farm worker remuneration to counter the “response” we sometimes get. It also comes after seeing hundreds of Aucklanders queuing for seven jobs at a factory to earn just over $15 an hour. . .

Integration lifts Maori farming:

A STRATEGY shift a few years ago to integrate the dairy and sheep and beef units with a flexible stocking policy provided a step change in performance for large-scale Maori-owned farm business, Te Uranga B2.

Now, its sheep and beef unit is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Maori farming.

“The farming philosophy is around maximising pasture production, optimising feed conversion and then maximising productivity,” says Te Uranga B2 chairman Traci Houpapa. . .

Tech summit for primary industries:

For the first time in New Zealand, a mobile communications event is being run specifically for primary industries.

MobileTECH Summit 2013 runs in Wellington on August 7-8. A two-day programme bringing together this country’s leading communications specialists, technology providers and those working in the primary industries, has just been released. Details can be found on the event website, . .

Why export when you can milk it abroad? –  Simon Day:

Hundreds of plump cows line their concrete stalls like rows of dominoes at Fonterra’s Yutian 2 farm, 120 kilometres east of Beijing.

The cows push their heads through the steel bars of their confinements to eat imported alfalfa feed off the floor. Fans line the roof of the long barns, cooling the herd on a hot China day.

There is no grass in sight.

These are Kiwi cows, shipped to China or bred locally from New Zealand genetics. But this looks nothing like New Zealand farming. . .

Too late to avoid ‘dirty dairying’ taint – Aaron Leaman:

The directors of a Mangakino farming company fined $30,000 for breaches of the Resource Management Act have expressed their “shame” at being labelled dirty dairy farmers.

Fernaig Farms Ltd, owner of a 210-hectare block in McDonald Rd, Mangakino, was this week fined $30,037 and ordered to pay $132 costs after pleading guilty to two charges of unlawfully discharging animal effluent to land.

The prosecution, brought by Waikato Regional Council, related to offending on February 23 last year in which effluent was discharged from a holding pond and from an irrigator.

Council staff visited the property after an aerial flyover of dairy farms in the region. . .

Exploring alternatives to quad bikes –  James Houghton:

There has been a huge amount of discussion around quad bikes again, after LandCorp announced they are not using them on their new North Island farms and will be moving away from them on all other operations. Certainly, having 20 accidents involving their staff and quad bikes since December is a sobering statistic. Perhaps for large corporate farmers, with huge numbers of staff to think about, looking at other options is a sensible solution.

Just because LandCorp does something it doesn’t mean all farmers have to follow suit, but it is good to follow the discussion and know what the options are. Many farmers seem to be moving towards the “side by side” or farm utility vehicle options for getting about on their farms because they allow for passengers, carrying loads and do not require a helmet.

Within this category there are again many options. It is about looking at the needs you have on your farm, selecting the best tool for the job and making sure everyone using them is trained to operate that tool safely. . .


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