Rural round-up

November 23, 2019

Take us with you – Rural News editorial:

According to a newly released Rabobank report, New Zealand farm businesses need to get ready for the full cost of environmental policies coming down the track as they make future investment decisions.

The report says with the country’s agricultural sector facing increasingly tougher environmental constraints, its decisions on investment and land use will need to take account of how these constraints impact on their farming businesses.

Rabobank says that despite the significant investments made by many New Zealand farmers over the past decade to improve performance of their farming operations, the increasingly tougher environmental reforms relating to water quality and climate change will progressively require farmers to account for a greater range of environmental impacts resulting from their farming operations. . .

Making it okay to ask for help – David Anderson:

Meat processing company Alliance has started an employee support programme aimed at getting colleagues to look after each other and keep an eye out for possible mental health issues.

Its ‘Mates at the Gate’ programme encourages staff to ask for support at an early stage and also educates employees on the signs their colleagues might be depressed or distressed.

The programme, which is specifically tailored to Alliance’s workforce, was launched across the company’s processing plants and corporate offices in November 2018.  . . 

Call for NZ and Scotland to join forces – David Hill:

A Scottish farmer and cattle judge would like to see New Zealand and Scotland work together to promote meat.

John Scott, who judged the all-breeds beef cattle competition at last week’s New Zealand Agricultural Show, has just completed an eight-year stint on the Quality Meat Scotland board, the equivalent of Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

”We’ve got some huge challenges with Brexit and the anti-red meat lobby,” Mr Scott said.

”It’s a world market now and I would like to see Scotland having closer ties with New Zealand.

”We need to increase consumption of meat around the world and the seasons are different between our countries, so we don’t need to be competitive. We have a lot of similarities and we can work together.” . . 

A day out at Fonterra’s PR farm – Alex Braae:

Were Fonterra’s Open Gates events a shallow PR stunt, or was there something deeper going on? Alex Braae went to Mangatawhiri to find out.

Walking into the Fonterra Open Gates event in Mangatawhiri, the first animals to see weren’t actually dairy cows. 

In an enclosure just next to the welcome tent, there were three beautifully clean and fluffy sheep. Their faces were sharp and alert, like the healthy energetic dogs that herd them. A throng of kids hung around them, reaching out to touch the exotic creatures.  . . 

Strong returns forecast from Zespri’s record European harvest:

Zespri’s European kiwifruit harvest is again expected to deliver strong returns for growers in Italy and France, along with another great tasting crop for consumers around the world to enjoy.

Sheila McCann-Morrison, Zespri’s Chief International Production Officer, says that with the Northern Hemisphere harvest well underway, Zespri is expecting to harvest around 19 million trays or almost 70 tonnes of kiwifruit from orchards throughout Italy, France and Greece. . . 

It’s forestry that must change not farmers – Rowan Reid :

AS a young forest scientist, I chose to work in the farming landscape in Australia. Despite the slogans of our conservation groups, the environmental frontline was not occurring at the forest blockade; it was at the farm gate. In just 200 years of white settlement, we had cleared the native forests off more than 60 per cent of the continent to create family farms. That’s about 15 times the area of the entire UK. The result was the greatest extinction of native animals and plants seen in modern times, massive land degradation problems, the release of millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, and mounting animal welfare issues due to heat and cold stress in farm stock.

Seeing that forestry – even the act of harvesting trees for timber – had a role to play in repairing the environmental damage and helping develop resilient family farms, I set my goal to make forestry attractive to the farming community. But rather than just promote what my peers saw as ‘good forestry practices’, I could see that it was forestry, rather than the farmers, that had to change. In 1987, I purchased a small degraded farm and set about planting trees for both conservation and profit. . . 


Rural round-up

November 6, 2019

Hort strong but uneasy – survey – Pam Tipa:

Positive sentiment still prevails across horticulture, but Government policies are weighing on the minds of growers.

So says Hayden Higgins, Rabobank horticulture senior analyst. He was commenting on results of Rabobank’s early September confidence survey of 59 horticulturalists (see sidebar for details).

The results saw only minor shifts, some up and some down, in results pertaining to their own businesses. . . 

Farmers need empowerment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Reducing stock numbers and increasing legislation is not the way to empower farmers – or attract newcomers to the sector, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

People hearing the media coverage of farmers under stress can be forgiven for wondering why the farmers are so worried.

After all, they have been told repeatedly that they can reduce their environmental impact by reducing stock numbers, and that doing so will increase farm profitability as well. . . 

Directors Donna Smit, Andy Macfarlane returned to Fonterra board :

Fonterra directors Donna Smit and Andy Macfarlane have been returned to the co-op’s board after retiring by rotation.

Shareholders Scott Montgomerie and Ellen Bartlett were elected unopposed to the directors’ remuneration committee and Ian Brown was elected unopposed as the Fonterra farmer custodian trustee, Fonterra said.

All successful candidates will take office at the close of Fonterra’s annual meeting in Invercargill on Thursday. . . 

 

Meat processor still shut down –  Sally Brooker:

Oamaru Meats is still working through the problems that forced it to shut down in September.

The company, owned by China’s BX Foods, stopped all processing after access for its beef to China was suspended.

Director Richard Thorp said about 140 staff were stood down while managers worked with New Zealand and Chinese authorities to regain the lost access.

A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said the suspension was not related to food safety issues and applied “only to Oamaru Meats and not to exports from any other New Zealand meat establishments”. . . 

Naked and afraid: breeding for shedding sheep – Nicola Dennis:

I have written before about how much we love our shedding sheep. We love our Wiltshires from a distance because they never really need any hands-on work. Wiltshires don’t need shearing, dagging or tailing.

Our Wiltshires were “bred up” from minimally shepherded Perendales by the previous occupants of our land. They stag leap over fences at the very sight of us. Because of this, we have also discovered that we can forgo drenching and almost all other forms of handling. From my window, I can see the ewes roaming over the hills in the distance with troupes of energetic lambs bouncing behind them. That is about as close as I will get until it is time to draft the lambs for their big OE. . . 

Livestock farmers feel ‘under siege’ amid climate change and vegan debates – Chris Hill:

Livestock farmers feel “under siege” from a barrage of negativity over climate change, agricultural emissions, healthy diets and veganism – and they urged a more balanced discussion about more sustainable meat production.

In recent months, the under-fire industry has been highlighted as a key component of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, sparking discussions on the global impact of farm animals on the environment, and debates about whether meat-free diets could be part of the solution to global warming.

It added to the ethical arguments of a vocal vegan movement, endorsed by influential celebrities like Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who recently sparked controversy by saying adopting a vegan diet is the “only way to truly save our planet”. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 24, 2019

Former Manawatū rugby player directs Kiwi movie about farmers’ mental health – Sam Kilmister:

A former Manawatū rugby player has taken the plight of farmers’ mental health to the big screen. 

Hamish Bennett played a handful of games for the province in the late 1990s and he returns to Palmerston North on Sunday for a special screening of his first feature film, Bellbird.

Bennett lived in Manawatū while studying a bachelor of arts and a post-graduate diploma in teaching. During that time, he played rugby for Feilding Old Boys and donned the green and white four times across two seasons at halfback.  . . .

Stricter winter grazing rules hinted at in government’s first report – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers could expect stricter enforcement of winter grazing practices next winter, and they should be planning ahead for it now.

But the Winter Grazing Taskforce says there is no there is no united view and guidance on best practice for winter grazing in the industry and farmers are not all receiving the same information.

The taskforce was set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in response to environmentalists campaign against winter grazing practicesin Southland this winter. . .

National kudos for Kurow venture – Sally Brooker:

A family orchard near Kurow has earned a major national food award.

Waitaki Orchards, which featured in Central Rural Life in March, won the Inspire+ Artisan Awards’ ”frozen” category with its apricot, peach, golden plum and red plum sorbets.

Ellen Watt, one of owners Justin and Julie Watt’s eight children, is responsible for the sorbets. She spends Friday mornings in a commercial kitchen at the orchard, having attended a Timaru baking school for a year and spending nearly a year completing her food compliance qualification. . .

Cheese is the word bank report says – Brent Melville:

The time is ripe for the global cheese industry, agribusiness specialist Rabobank says.

And as with many New Zealand exports, all roads lead to Asia.

In its report, Global Cheese Trade Dynamics, the bank says strong demand prospects for cheese in emerging markets will drive much of the export market expansion.

The report says market opportunities will be underpinned by increasing cheese demand in emerging markets and deficits in those markets, as their domestic production remains limited . . .

 

Don’t blame meat for climate crisis say European farmers -t TOm Levitt:

Meat and farmed animals are wrongly blamed for the climate crisis without considering their benefits for society, argues a new campaign launched by the livestock industry in Europe.

Billboards appeared this week in Brussels metro stations together with a social media campaign #meatthefacts. The adverts are being funded by European Livestock Voice, which is backed by organisations representing EU farmers, foie gras producers and the fur and leather industry.

We believe this campaign is necessary in order to address misinformation,” said a spokesperson for Livestock Voice. The group said they want people “to think about the whole picture and all the consequences that simplistic speeches calling … for a ‘drastic reduction of livestock’ could have on Europe’s rural areas and on society in general.” . .

Vanilla Boom Is Making People Crazy Rich — And Jittery — In Madagascar – Wendell Steavenson :

About 80% of the world’s vanilla is grown by small holding farmers in the hilly forests of Madagascar. For a generation the price languished below $50 a kilo (about 2.2 pounds). But in 2015 it began to rise at an extraordinary rate and for the past four years has hovered at 10 times that amount, between $400 and $600 a kilo.

The rise is partly because of increased global demand and partly because of decreased supply, as storms have destroyed many vines, and a lot to do with speculation. Local middlemen have rushed into the market, leveraging deals between village growers and the international flavor companies that distill the cured beans into extract and sell it to the big multinationals like Mars, Archer Daniels Midland and Unilever. . . .


Rural round-up

July 30, 2019

Leading the world and saving it, too – but let’s brace for a drop in our standard of living (and wellbeing) – Point of Order:

So  how  “transformational”  will  the   zero  carbon  legislation  prove to be?

Many  New Zealanders  have come to believe  global  warming  poses  a  real danger  to  their lives – but will the new legislation remove, or even lessen, the danger?

Under the legislation, agriculture   for the first time is brought into the emissions trading  scheme.  That’s won  support from Green lobbyists, but many  say it’s too little, too late –  “a  weak-ass  carbon  reform”.

On  the  other side,  the  criticism is  just as pointed.  There are  no tools to  measure  on-farm emissions and what  the  government proposes   could   shrivel  NZ’s growth rate  by  up to  $50bn   a year. . . .

Planting a billion trees by 2028:

What’s not to love about a billion trees?

Plenty, if you farm in rural New Zealand. For a start, trees require land.

And it’s the fear that farmland will be turned into pine forest that has some worried about the government’s ambitious target of getting a billion trees in the ground by 2028. . . .

Warning of green desert of trees – Tim Fulton:

Incentives for tree-planting credit schemes could create a great, green desert of radiata pine and trample native bush, officials have heard.

The Government proposes taxing farm livestock emissions and fertiliser emissions from 2025.

A Primary Industries Ministry public consultation meeting in Christchurch debated the policy linked to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), a closed, government-managed carbon credit market that’s changing agricultural land use. . . 

Small gains mount up – Colin Williscroft:

Taking small but simple steps on farms can help cut greenhouse gas emissions without biting too deeply into the bottom line, Tirau farmer Adrian Ball says.

With Parliament’s Environment Select Committee hearing views on the viability and fairness of agricultural greenhouse gas reduction targets in the Zero Carbon Bill and debate building on how best to move towards on-farm emission charging, what’s been missed is the work already done by farmers.

However, Ball and others are making incremental changes to reduce their emissions while keeping their eye on the bottom line. . .

Reduction of Johne’s disease possible – Sally Rae:

A case study involving Otago-based DRL Ltd has demonstrated that effective reduction in the prevalence of Johne’s disease is possible for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The study has been completed, in collaboration with Temuka veterinarian Andrew Bates, and a paper accepted for publication in the journal BMC Veterinary Research.

It described the control of Johne’s disease – a chronic wasting disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis – on a large South Canterbury dairy farm with an ongoing Johne’s problem. The farmer was culling between 80 and 100 cows a year on the 1200-cow farm. . . .

Outlook remains for sheepmeat producers -Sally Rae:

Sheepmeat prices are expected to stay at elevated levels over the remainder of this season and into the next, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

Pricing levels out to the end of the season in October were expected to be at least as high as the mid $8 mark per kg seen last year and there could even be some “upside potential” on top of that.

Sheep meat supply from both New Zealand and Australia – the key exporters of sheepmeat to international markets – was expected to remain tight over the coming year.

New Zealand had limited capacity to lift domestic production, given where ewe numbers were at. . .

Women of the Irish food industry- Susanna Crampton, farmer and educator  – Katia Valadeau:

I first met Suzanna Crampton, at her farm, in leafy Kilkenny, a couple of years ago.  She was one of the first small food producers I visited when I started branching out from recipes. She welcomed me at her home and I was lucky enough to meet Bodacious, the wonderful Cat Shepherd and Ovenmitt, the cuddliest cat I’ve ever met. I wrote all about my visit to the zwartbles farm at the time. The hour at Suzanna’s kitchen table is an hour I often think about when I try to explain why I’m so passionate about small food producers in Ireland. 

I am still just learning about the many aspects of life of a farm, the sacrifices, the hard work, the rewards and the glorious food. The conversations I had that day with Julie of Highbank Orchardsand with Suzanna Crampton have stayed with me and I think of them as the true start of my education in all things Irish food. Before, food writing was a hobby. It has since become a full blown passion and has gone into all sorts of directions.  . .

 


Rural round-up

July 18, 2019

Suggestions definitely off the agenda – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra will not retain 50c of the milk payout, as suggested by commentators, or change the way it sets the milk price as part of its business reset, chief financial officer Marc Rivers says.

It is confident it can address its debt issue and strengthen its balance sheet without those measures.

The reset is on track to meet its target of $800m this year while reduced spending will boost its profitability.

“We’re both tightening our belts and looking for savings but also looking at our investment portfolio,” Rivers said. . .

Speculators push lamb prices up – Neal Wallace:

Speculators have pushed North Island store lamb prices 35c/kg above the same time last year despite winter slaughter prices being similar to last year.

Affco’s recent $9/kg contract for prime lambs appears to have hyped the store market even though AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says other meat companies are offering winter slaughter prices that mirror last year’s at about $7.50 to $7.80/kg.

The contract is available only in August to Affco clients who have been regular suppliers and applies only to stock processed at North Island plants. . .

Grower group still busy after 100 years – Pam Tipa:

A group of vegetable growers centred on Pukekohe in South Auckland say regulatory changes could be do-or-die for their growing enterprises.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and vice president Kylie Faulkner says the advocacy role of the group is crucial.

“There are a lot of changes happening now with the Resource Management Act, the National Water Policy Statement and how the different councils are approaching those rules,” she told HortNews.  . . 

Vege growing nice addition to farming business – Peter Burke:

It’s easy to see what the small central North Island town of Ohakune is famous for. On the outskirts of the town is a huge carrot and a children’s play area based on this popular vegetable.

Peter Burke reports on a vegetable grower who has helped enhance the town’s great reputation.

Ron Frew started growing carrots in 1967, just after coming home to Ohakune from completing his university degree. Since then, he and his family have built up a huge farming business which includes growing carrots and potatoes.

They also have a dairy farm and a large sheep and beef property running 25,000 breeding ewes and 650 breeding cows.  . . 

Protein competition on the rise in China – Sally Rae:

Increased protein competition in China is being cited by Rabobank as something to watch as strong demand for beef from China drives up export returns.

In Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Monthly report, animal protein and sustainability analyst Blake Holgate said the China Meat Association had announced the Chinese government would be expanding its sourcing of animal protein products in an attempt to replace the lost pork production that had resulted from the African Swine Fever outbreak.

That might include allowing imports of Indian buffalo and lifting the current ban on UK beef. There were also reports of an increase in the number of international meat facilities being accredited for export into China. . .

Why George Monibot is wrong – grazing livestock can save the world – L. Hunter Lovins:

George Monbiot’s recent criticism of Allan Savory’s theory that grazing livestock can reverse climate change ignores evidence that it’s already experiencing success

In his recent interview with Allan Savory, the high profile biologist and farmer who argues that properly managing grazing animals can counter climate chaos, George Monbiot reasonably asks for proof. Where I believe he strays into the unreasonable, is in asserting that there is none.

Savory’s argument, which counters popular conceptions, is that more livestock rather than fewer can help save the planet through a concept he calls “holistic management.” In brief, he contends that grazing livestock can reverse desertification and restore carbon to the soil, enhancing its biodiversity and countering climate change. Monbiot claims that this approach doesn’t work and in fact does more harm than good. But his assertions skip over the science and on the ground evidence that say otherwise. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 8, 2019

Katie Milne addresses national conference:

Kiwis can be proud of the rural women and men who produce the top quality food that arrives daily in supermarkets, and the extra which is shipped offshore as exports that help fuel our economy.  Over 65% of our exports come from agricultural food production and we produce it with a lower carbon footprint than any other country in the world.  

Biosecurity threats, geopolitics, alternative proteins, robotics, disruptors, food and environment sustainability…there’s no shortage of challenges and change confronting us. 

But you should also know – especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to catch some of the keynote addresses and panel discussions of the inaugural Primary Industries Summit that Federated Farmers organised and has hosted Monday and Tuesday – that New Zealand also has a wealth of ideas, talent and drive to deal with these big issues coming at us. . .

Tougher bank capital rules could slice 10% from dairy profits – Rabo NZ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Stricter bank capital requirements would severely dent dairy farm profits if the Reserve Bank goes ahead as planned, warn dairy interests in submissions on the contentious proposals.

“Our initial estimates are that the proposals could – at least in the short term – result in approximately a 10 percent decrease in profit for the agriculture sector,” Rabobank New Zealand said in its submission. . .

Trees replace top cattle – Annette Scott:

As far north as sale yards get in New Zealand the Broadwood selling centre in Northland hosted one of the country’s more notable capital stock clearing sales last week.

On behalf of Mark and Michelle Hammond of Herekino, Carrfields Livestock held the sale of a Hereford beef herd that put 50 years of top-quality genetics under the hammer, the animals’ grazing land destined for pine trees. . .

Ruapehu rural reading scheme spells out a winning idea  –  Katie Doyle:

A pair of librarians from the central North Island town of Taumarunui are bringing a love of reading to rural school children.

Fiona Thomas and Libby Ogle have started their very own mobile library – each month ferrying a load of books to two isolated primary schools in the Ruapehu District.

The idea came to life eighteen months ago when Mrs Thomas realised some kids in the region couldn’t access the library because they lived too away. . .

Blue Sky reports best result in 8 years – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Southland meat processor and marketer Blue Sky Meats says the year to March was its best result in eight years as a strategic plan bore fruit.

The company, which is due to release its annual report shortly, said the March financial year ended with revenue up by 34 percent to a record $140 million. Pre-tax profit was up 36 percent at $5 million. . .

Overseas investors fined almost $3 million for illegal purchase of Auckland properties:

The High Court yesterday ordered the overseas owners of two rural properties at Warkworth, north of Auckland, to pay $2.95 million to the Crown after an Overseas Investment Office (OIO) investigation found they were bought without consent. The properties were bought in 2012 and 2014.

The court ordered the owners to sell the properties and pay penalties, costs and the gain made on the investment.

The overseas owners – Chinese businessmen Zhongliang Hong and Xueli Ke, and IRL Investment Limited and Grand Energetic Company Limited – should have applied to the OIO for consent to buy both properties because they are rural land of more than five hectares. . .

Latest technology to be demonstrated at the Horticulture Conference 2019:

Technology that will help fruit and vegetable growers now and in the future will be demonstrated at Our Food Future, the Horticulture Conference 2019 between 31 July and 2 August at Mystery Creek, Hamilton.   

‘We’ve gone all out to ensure that this year’s conference features demonstrations of technology that can help growers tackle some of the challenges that they face,’ says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘From biological control products for crop protection to robots for asparagus harvesting and greenhouse spraying, they will all be demonstrated during the morning of second day of the conference.  . .

Ben Richards becomes Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of Year 2019:

Ben Richards from Indevinbecame the Bayer MarlboroughYoung Viticulturist of the Year 2019 on 4 July following the competition held at Constellation’s Drylands Vineyard.

Congratulations also to Jaimee Whitehead from Constellation for coming second and Dan Warman also from Constellation for coming third. . 


Double winners for Zanda McDonald Award

May 22, 2019

A media release from Allflex:

For the first time in the award’s five-year history, not one but two young Australian agriculturalists have been crowned as winners of the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award.

Queenslander Shannon Landmark, 27, and Luke Evans, 29, from the Northern Territory will share this prestigious badge of honour, which seeks to recognise young professionals in the primary sector from Australia and New Zealand.

Landmark is a trained vet, and the coordinator of the Northern Genomics Project at the University of Queensland. Her work focusses on improving genetic selection and reproductive technology, and sees her working with beef producers, beef extension officers from state governments, consultants and vets, and university researchers and scientists.

Evans, 29, is the Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture, based at Rockhampton Downs Station, a 450,000-hectare beef property in Tennant Creek Northern Territory. He not only runs this significant operation, but also mentors’ youth, and provides on-the-job training and employment opportunities at the property.

Richard Rains, Chairman of the Zanda McDonald Award, says “The judges were faced with a very tough decision when it came to singling out one winner, as both Shannon and Luke are carving out their own distinct and different paths in their careers. However, we just couldn’t separate the two on their leadership qualities, determination and spirit,”

We felt that both would get immense value from the prize, particularly the tailored mentoring package, which will provide them with a great insight into some of the best agriculture farms and companies in the industry. We’re committed to recognising and supporting talented young individuals in the ag sector, and this prize package will really help take both of their careers to the next level.”

Landmark and Evans were initially shortlisted with four other candidates, with interviews held in Brisbane last October. Following these interviews, they were named as finalists alongside kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms, a 6300-hectare dairy operation in Oamaru, North Otago NZ.

The award, sponsored by Allflex, Pilatus, CBRE Agribusiness, Zoetis, MDH and Rabobank, was presented last night in Port Douglas at the annualPlatinum Primary Producers (PPP) Gala Dinner. This was part of the group’s annual PPP Conference, a group comprising of 150 influential agri-business men and women from across Australasia, of which Zanda McDonald was a foundation member.

Landmark and Evans will each receive a prize package which includes a trans-Tasman mentoring trip to farming operations and businesses from within the PPP network, $1,000 cash, a place on Rabobank’s Farm Managers Program,  and membership to the PPP Group. The pair will each travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to parts of their Australian mentoring trips, enabling them to reach diverse and remote farming operations.


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