Rural round-up

22/11/2022

Dairy producers gain fresh momentum so how sensible is it to impose a new levy on them – Point of Order?

After a slow start to the season, the NZ dairy industry has perked up,as at  the latest Fonterra  GDT auction prices firmed, after three successive falls.

That rise came on the heel of reports NZ dairy earnings from Australia have ballooned because processors there are short of milk and lining up to buy NZ dairy products.

Open Country Dairy, NZ’s second-biggest dairy processor and exporter, said it has had a 40% lift in demand for product from its Australian customers. South Island-based Westland Milk Products said it had been turning away approaches from across the Tasman.

Industry leader Fonterra, one of the world’s biggest dairy companies, said it was continuing to see strong demand from Australia. Fonterra had earlier earmarked for sale a stake in its Australian business,but only  last month announced it was not going ahead with that,a decision on which the board will be  congratulating itself. . . 

Alliance Group casts net for 400 seasonal workers – Luisa Girao:

The Alliance Group will look to the North Island and beyond to bring in 400 seasonal workers to cope with its employee shortfall.

Some of the imported staff may live on site due to the Southland accommodation squeeze.

Alliance manufacturing general manager Willie Wiese confirmed yesterday the company was recruiting up to 400 seasonal staff from across the country as well as from overseas for its Lorneville and Mataura plants.

They would help make up the shortfall in numbers Alliance could not recruit locally in Southland, he said. . . 

 

Agri commodity markets research outlook 2023: tightening the belt – Rabobank:

Agricultural commodities reached record nominal prices in May 2022, on the back of adverse weather, falling stockpiles, the war in Ukraine, the container shortage and various protectionist measures restricting food commodity exports. Between May and October, prices dropped 18% due to the USD strength, weak demand, a better container shipping situation, the temporary establishment of the Black Sea grain corridor and select bumper harvests. Presently, there are growing expectations for Brazil’s upcoming harvests of soy, sugar and coffee, as La Niña wanes and the wet season there has begun in a timely manner. Still, prices of agricultural commodities remain high, at about 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels, which is when we last saw some sense of ‘normalcy’ in agricultural markets.

Report summary

High prices would normally stimulate supply, but production is currently relatively inelastic to prices: area availability is limited as swaths of very fertile land are lost in Ukraine, farm input costs are high, La Niña is active and the cost of finance has increased. So there is more pressure on demand to balance the equation. Here we start to see some weakness that might continue through much of 2023. Global inflation has resulted in a loss of purchasing power globally, and subsequent hikes in interest rates could result in some major economies going into recession. A global recession would limit demand on a number of fronts, from feed and energy-related commodities to non-essential commodities like cotton, coffee and cocoa. . . .

Fonterra announces divestment of Chile business :

Fonterra is pleased to announce the divestment of its Chilean Soprole business. The divestment comprises a number of transactions that result in aggregate consideration of 591.07 billion Chilean Pesos (approximately NZD1.055 billion).

Fonterra CEO, Miles Hurrell, says that the divestment process for the Soprole business formally commenced in April 2022, following the launch of Fonterra’s strategy to 2030.

“A key pillar of our strategy is to focus on New Zealand milk. Soprole is a very good business but does not rely on New Zealand milk or expertise. We are now at the end of the divestment process and have agreed to sell Soprole to Gloria Foods – JORB S.A. (Gloria Foods).”

Gloria Foods is a consumer dairy market leader in Peru, with operations in Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.  Fonterra and Gloria Foods have a long-standing commercial relationship in South America. . .

Pig farmer tickled pink by top ham award :

 North Island farmer Jim Mather takes great pride in “growing fantastic animals” on his farm near Foxton – but he was still surprised to find a ham from one of his pigs had won the highly coveted Supreme Award in the 2022 100% New Zealand Bacon and Ham Awards.

Auckland’s Westmere Butchery won New Zealand’s best ham award for their bone-in leg ham, but a journey back along the supply chain to discover the provenance of the champion ham, leads to Jim Mather’s family farm.

“We know it’s fantastic pork – because our pigs want for nothing,” says Jim.

“But you don’t usually get a lot of validation for your product as a farmer. We really appreciate that the winner made a point of making sure we knew it was one of ours – we’re absolutely delighted.” . . 

The promise of seagrass pastures – Mel Silva :

In Lau Group in Fiji, seagrass meadows play a special and vital role for the environment, marine life and community. These underwater pastures help to maintain water quality, provide a habitat for diverse flora and fauna – while also supporting local industries and cultural practices.

On a broader scale, these marine environments are critical to the health of our global climate. Similar to forests on land, seagrass can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as it grows – storing it through a process called carbon sequestration. Seagrass is one of the world’s most effective carbon storage powerhouses, and it can store carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.

Measuring the carbon capacity of ecosystems allows nations to participate in climate discussions, evaluate their contributions and better manage their ecosystems’ vitality. However, gathering this information is much more complex in an underwater environment than it is on land. Traditional methods for carbon assessment of coastal and marine ecosystems have relied on remote geospatial and aerial sensing technology that can be affected by cloud cover, angle of the sun and weather – and getting results from this imagery relies on costly and time consuming manual image analysis.

Under the Digital Future Initiative, we’re launching a new ‘blue carbon’ project in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Tidal (an ocean health project within X) to address these barriers. Together, we’re exploring novel applications of artificial intelligence to measure, with greater efficiency and accuracy, the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to absorb and sequester carbon. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/09/2022

What the ‘F’ is going on? – Mark Daniel:

Rabobank’s Emma Higgins recently outlined some of the current headaches facing the agriculture sector.

At the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) Conference, held in Christchurch, she focused on a number of ‘F’ words – freight, fuel, fertiliser, feed, folk and farmer spending.

Higgins looked at the state of the global shipping industry and what had happened pre- and post-Covid, covering a period from early 2018 to June 2022. She explained that during the pre-Covid era, freight rates had remained largely static with most companies making little or no margin. However, since early 2020, rates had skyrocketed, alliances and consolidations had become the norm and major players were reporting margins approaching 40% or more.

Higgins warned those needing to ship goods in or out of the country not to expect freight costs to return to pre-Covid levels, even though there had been a recent softening of rates. She also noted there is an ongoing problem with scheduling reliability – boats arriving on time. Pre-Covid this was typically at 85%, but more lately was sitting at 35%. . . 

Many flow-on effects if scroll plains classified as wetlands – Shawn McAvinue:

A Maniototo Basin farmer fears proposed new freshwater rules will remove an important tool used to protect a unique scroll plain.

Puketoi Station owner Emma Crutchley said her nearly 3000ha sheep, beef and arable farm was often dry.

About 350mm of rain fell each year on the farm, which is about a 20-minute drive southwest of Ranfurly.

When it tips down, the overflow of the meandering Taieri River transforms a low-lying area of her farm to a “large, slow-moving lake”. . . 

Winter crop consent logjam ‘could reach 10,000’ – Neal Wallace:

Delays in finalising freshwater farm plans threaten bureaucratic snarl-up.

An estimated 10,000 farmers may require resource consent to intensively winter stock on crops next year.

A meeting this week between farming groups and the Ministry for the Environment (MFE) will confirm if a compromise can be found to the consenting requirement, which many fear will overwhelm regional council staff.

It has been estimated that 2000 farmers in Southland and 1000 in Waikato will require resource consent, and farming leaders calculate that nationally, potentially a further 7000 may also need consent. . . 

Ex-Feds dairy boss makes it 3-way battle for DairyNZ board seats – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers leader Chris Lewis is one of three candidates confirmed for DairyNZ director elections.

The Waikato farmer will take on sitting directors Tracy Brown, Waikato and Elaine Cook, Bay of Plenty, both retiring by rotation and seeking re-election.

Voting starts September 19 and ends on October 17. Results will be announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Invercargill the next day.

Lewis, who milks 970 cows at Pukeatua, believes he will bring a farmer’s perspective to the board. . . 

Vets hold the line against M bovis – Mary van Andel :

Local vets are putting the country on track to be the world’s first to eradicate the disease.

Much of the work veterinarians do is behind the scenes but underpins aspects of our economy, environment and way of life. Across New Zealand, veterinarians provide valuable technical expertise and are recognised as trusted advisers on a range of issues, including animal health and welfare, and disease surveillance and investigation. They play a key role in our biosecurity system.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the private veterinarian who first identified Mycoplasma bovis in NZ in 2017. Since those early and often difficult days, private veterinarians have made a significant contribution in identifying the index case and reporting cases of suspected disease, as well as undertaking on-farm testing and supporting their clients affected by the eradication programme. 

If it had been left unchecked, M bovis could have cost the industry $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns. As we near the halfway mark of our estimated 10-year eradication programme, we are aiming to move from controlling the last known pockets of the disease, to provisional absence. We are on track to become the first country to eradicate M bovis.

An important part of my role at the Ministry for Primary Industries is to identify ways to build relationships that bind our animal health community together to enable successful biosecurity partnerships. MPI is NZ’s largest employer of veterinarians, with 300 working in five of the nine business units, across all regions, including overseas postings.  . . 

Ploughwoman qualifies for national champs – Shawn McAvinue:

Southland ploughwoman Tryphena Carter is going to the National Ploughing Championships next year.

The Waimea Ploughing Club member qualified for the nationals on the first day of the Middlemarch, Taieri and Tokomairiro ploughing matches in Strath Taieri.

“That’s really exciting,” Carter said.

She got podium finishes in the conventional class on all three days — the Tokomairiro match in Sutton on August 26 and the Taieri and Middlemarch matches in Middlemarch on August 27 and 28 respectively. . . 


Rural round-up

02/09/2022

‘NZ farmers can show the way’ – Rabobank :

Rabobank has released a white paper outlining key actions to help guide New Zealand’s food production as it faces challenges around climate change and food security

Among the conclusions of “Steering into the food transition” is that we need to feed more people while cutting back on emissions.

The global population is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050, while at the same time there is scientific and political consensus that global warming must be contained to 1.5°C. 

Food producers will have to balance both challenges. . . 

Overseas firms buy more sheep, beef farms for forestry conversion :

The sale of four sheep and beef farms to overseas investors, who will turn about 7100 hectares into rotational forests, has been approved.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has issued its latest decisions made under the special forest test.

Introduced in 2018, the test was designed to support the government’s forestry priorities, including more tree planting. Farming groups have raised concerns too much productive farmland is being lost to trees.

Furniture store IKEA’s parent company Ingka Investments is continuing to buy land to plant trees with its latest purchase, the Huiarua and Matanui Stations in the Gisborne region with a combined area of just over 6000 hectares. . . 

South Westland rivers are pristine – told you so says Feds :

University of Otago research describing the water quality of South Westland rivers as pristine, despite 160 years of river flats farming, is no surprise to Federated Farmers.

Feds freshwater spokesperson Colin Hurst says we already knew this, but the additional science-based corroboration is great to have as we continue to put the case to government that blanket, one-size-fits-all stock fencing regulations are impractical.

The farming systems used on the West Coast take account of the province’s terrain, weather and environment.

“The West Coast has mountains very close to the coast meaning when it rains, rivers surge and often flood. Fences are inevitably swept away and simply become a hazard to river and marine life,” Colin says. . . 

Tool to boost high country health – Annette Scott:

The wellbeing of hill country farmers is at the heart of the new FarmSalus tool.

An innovative farmer wellbeing assessment tool for hill country farmers will help understand and monitor the human component of farming.  

FarmSalus, launched in August, is part of the $8.1 million Hill Country Futures (HCF) programme focused on future-proofing the profitability, sustainability and wellbeing of New Zealand’s hill country farmers, their farm systems, the environment and rural communities.

The wellbeing of hill country farmers is at the heart of the new FarmSalus tool developed by the HCF partnership programme, which includes the Ministry for Primary Industries and Nature Positive, and is facilitated by Beef + Lamb NZ. . . 

New arable tool aims to find true costs :

Arable farmers must understand their ‘true cost’ of production to ensure continued financial viability – and Federated Farmers has a new spreadsheet designed to do exactly that.

The cost of production spreadsheet offers growers a unique tool with which to analyse all relevant costs associated with growing ryegrass and white clover seed crops and running the farm.

It even allows for a return on investment.

Its release coincides with a recent Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) gross margin analysis for ryegrass seed production. . . 

Tahryn Mason is the 2022 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year :

Congratulations to Tahryn Mason from Villa Maria in Marlborough, who became the 2022 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year. The National Final was held on 30 August at Indevin’s Bankhouse in Marlborough with the announcement made at the Awards Dinner the following evening.

It has been a busy few months for Tahryn, aged 30, as he also recently became a father for the first time. The Young Vit competition is open to those 30 years and younger working in viticulture, so Tahryn was determined to take out the prestigious title in his last year of competing. Tahryn originally competed in the Auckland/Northern competition in 2019 when he was working at Villa Maria in Auckland, before moving to Marlborough in 2020.

“This competition has been the driving force and making of my career” he says. The competition helps grow Young Vits by giving them support, focus and opportunities to upskill and widen their networks. . . 


Rural round-up

17/08/2022

Concern about rate of forestry conversions – Sally Rae:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the rate of whole-farm sales and conversions to carbon farming in the country is “out of control”.

The Government’s announcement last week that exotic trees would no longer be removed from the permanent category of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) was a step back from addressing the “deeply concerning” sale of sheep and beef farms, chief executive Sam McIvor said .

Overseas Investment Office decisions for June show consent has been given under the special forestry one-off purchase for the acquisition of nearly 2300ha of land, running sheep and beef, for conversion to forestry.

Approval was also granted for the sale of a dairy farm for forestry conversion and an existing forestry block. . .

Kiwifruit returns not so juicy this year as rising costs and fruit quality issues bite – Andrea Fox :

Growers in New Zealand Inc’s sweetheart kiwifruit industry are in for some unusually downbeat news next week as rising costs and fruit quality issues combine to drive down forecast returns.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson has sounded the warning in an update to the global marketer’s 2800 New Zealand growers, saying the next orchard gate returns forecast on August 23 will reflect that fruit quality this season remains a significant issue as previously flagged.

Zespri, which has a statutory near-monopoly on kiwifruit exporting with record net global sales nudging $3.6 billion last year, is a little over halfway through its sales season.
Ongoing rain and cold weather in New Zealand and unseasonably high summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere had led to a crowded fruit market, Mathieson said.

“Fruit quality remains an ongoing and significant issue this season….We are not alone in facing this challenge, with quality issues evident across other global fruit categories this season, and our competitors and colleagues have also battled labour shortages, supply chain congestion and inflationary pressures, all of which impact grower returns. . .

Align Farms CEO Rhys Roberts on Government’s regenerative farming project

While chief executive of Align Farms Rhys Roberts has reservations about the Government’s new regenerative agriculture project, he welcomes another voice on the subject.

Ngāi Tahu and the Government are undertaking a seven-year research programme to validate the science of regenerative farming.

The trial will compare a conventional and regenerative farm side-by-side to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

Roberts, who is also the 2022 Zanda McDonald Award winner, has been running a similar trial at Align Farms for years. . . 

NZ avocado industry warned to brace for lower prices as key Aussie market swamped – Tina Morrison :

New Zealand’s avocado industry needs to brace itself for a period of lower prices and volatility ahead as its key Australian market is swamped with the fashionable fruit, and returns from its emerging Asian market lag behind.

Increased Australian production resulted in an “avalanche” of avocados last year which saw retail prices for the green creamy fruit fall to a record low A$1 and prices this year are 47% below the five-year average, according to Rabobank associate analyst Pia Piggott.

“It’s simple supply and demand – as the supply goes up, the price goes down,” she says.

Strong demand for the heavily promoted “superfood” which features in dishes such as smashed avocado, has prompted Australian farmers to plant more than 1000 hectares a year and after six years those trees are now coming to maturity, which is expected to see Australia’s production expand by more than 40% over the next four years. . .

Course tailored for workers – John Lewis :

The rhythms of the seasons have been taken into account in a new Otago Polytechnic education pathway aimed at refining wine-growing and fruit production skills in Central Otago.

It means those already working in the horticulture and viticulture fields can concentrate their energy where it is needed during peak production times of the year while studying for a New Zealand diploma in horticulture production (level 5).

Delivered online and run at night, it enables students to continue to develop their skills in two focus areas: orchard fruit production (stone fruit, pip fruit and berries); and vineyard wine growing.

When they graduate, students will be able to manage horticultural or viticultural operations to ensure fruit or wine grape quality requirements are met. . . 

Australian Dairy Nutritionals to stop milk and yoghurt production in Camperdown – David Ross :

Camperdown Dairy, a historic Victorian brand, will stop producing fresh milk as rising costs push its owner to turn to better margins on milk powder products.

The ASX-listed Australian Dairy Nutritionals, based in the southwestern Victorian town of Camperdown, on Tuesday said it would cancel its fresh dairy produce due to rapidly rising costs that had eroded margins. Woolworths supermarkets stock Camperdown milk in their stores.

Australian Dairy Nutritionals said the move would mitigate staffing shortages and allow it to focus production on higher-margin products such as infant formula and nutritional supplements, but three staff might lose their jobs.

It said margins on fresh milk products had made it uncompetitive to continue, with nearly all suppliers increasing prices by more than 10 per cent and logistics costs nearly doubling. . . .


Rural round-up

08/07/2022

NZ’s agricultural sector needs to take ‘bold actions’ to help steer ‘food transition’ – Rabobank CEO – The Country

Bold actions are required by New Zealand’s agricultural industry if it’s to take advantage of the global food transition, Rabobank NZ chief executive Todd Charteris has told the sector.

Speaking at the Primary Industries New Zealand Summit in Auckland earlier today, Charteris said New Zealand’s agricultural sector – and others around the world – was currently grappling with how to tackle the twin challenges of increasing food production and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

With the world population expected to grow to 10 billion by 2050, the global agricultural sector had “a big job on its hands” to ensure everyone had access to sufficient, safe and affordable food, Charteris said.

“But at the same time, the sector also needs to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions stemming from food production that risk warming our entire planet.” . .

Sequestration essential for He Waka Eke Noa :

Rewards for sequestration are an essential part of He Waka Eke Noa, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Climate Change spokesperson Scott Simpson say.

“National is disappointed the Commission wants to take sequestration out of He Waka Eke Noa and combine it with biodiversity and other environmental outcomes in a new system,” Barbara Kuriger says.

“If farmers are going to be charged for their on-farm emissions they should also be rewarded for on-farm sequestration either through He Waka Eke Noa or the ETS.

“The Commission should not over-complicate things. Its first priority must be emissions.” . . 

Weather hits hort crop hard – Peter Burke:

One of the big issues relating to the current supply of fresh vegetables has been the weather.

Some growers around the country have lost whole crops that were inundated during recent flooding. Leaderbrand is one of the country’s major horticultural producers and has its main base in Gisborne.

The company also has growing sites in Pukekohe, Matamata and Canterbury. Chief executive Richard Burke says in the case of Gisborne, the normal rainfall is about 1100mm a year, but it has already had more than 800mm so far this year.

He says there is nothing unusual about getting rain, but the weather patterns are just sticking around longer and that affects the ability to supply produce. . 

Primary Industries Award recognizes rapid response to feed the hungry and support growers during lockdown :

United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated have been presented the Primary Industries NZ Summit Team Award for their work delivering 300,000 boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables to whānau during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The management team of five were responsible for the development of the Fruit and Vegetable Box Project, a clever adaption of existing relationships and supply networks to address food shortages and provide an outlet for fresh produce that had been destined for restaurants, tourism outlets, cruise ships and airline catering.

United Fresh General Manager, Paula Dudley, says the award is a recognition of the whole supply chain.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with this award. It’s testament to the long-term relationships between United Fresh members and the professionalism of the food distribution centres that we worked alongside,” she says. . . 

Flocks of sheep are the fire-fighting solution we never knew we needed  – Julia Jacobo, Jp Keenan, and Janet Weinstein:

The answer to managing wildfires may have been hiding in nature all this time.

Wildfires are a natural occurrence in forest ecosystems, but certain fire management practices have also contributed to the scope of fires occurring today, according to experts.

Flocks of sheep are now being used to manage fires as megadroughtexacerbated by climate change contribute to record-breaking fire seasons in the Western U.S.

Climate change is not the only culprit. Six of the seven largest fires in California have occurred in the past two years, and experts including Glen MacDonald, professor of geography and environment sustainability at UCLA say natural fuel is building up in forests, sparking hot, intense and fast-moving fires. . . 

 

 

Farmgate stolen vehicle detection cameras roll our across New Zealand rural towns :

Farmgate announced today they plan to roll out up to 50 roadside stolen vehicle detection cameras across New Zealand, focused in rural communities, for free – in accordance with Farmgate’s social good strategy, says Managing Director Andrew Sing.

“Farmgate has an ambitious goal – to reduce rural crime by 50% through partnering with local rural communities. We are excited to invest in safe rural community strategies over the next 12 months,” said Mr Sing.

Farmgate’s tech uses German-made Mobotix Artificial Intelligence cameras that detect number plates – which are then compared to the NZ Police stolen vehicle database. Police are also notified when a stolen vehicle is picked up on a Farmgate camera.

“Farmgate has invested heavily in the best possible tech to ensure we shut down stolen vehicles entering our rural communities. Stopping criminals before they even start on a crime spree or a ram raid who know we are watching is the best deterrent,” says Sing. . . 

Fierce competition expected for NZYF Tournament Series national titles :

New Zealand Young Farmers Tournament Series finalists have spent the last two months fine-tuning their shooting, debating, stock judging and fencing skills for the national finals.

Hosted alongside the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final, the NZYF Tournament Series finals will go down on Thursday 7th of July at various locations around Whangarei.

Seven fencing teams competing in pairs will be hammering it in for the Goldpine Fencing title at 540 Millbrook Road, Taipuha from 7:30am to 10:30am.

It will be followed by the MyLivestock Stock Judging at 11am, where 20 NZYF members will be judged on their ability to score a range of animals across beef and dairy cattle, meat and wool breeds and fleece. . .

 


Rural round-up

28/03/2022

Not so fast – Rural News:

Predictions that NZ’s farming sector is in for a bumper year need to be put into context.

While many primary sectors – including dairy, horticulture and red meat – are experiencing record commodity prices, a number of factors are leading to some even bigger cost increases, which will mean less on-farm profitability.

As Rabobank NZ’s analyst Emma Higgins recently opined, “Rocketing input costs and crimped production in some regions will not translate into new benchmark profits”.

This is due to a number of reasons: the ongoing impact of Covid, the war in the Ukraine, growing inflation and the imposition of government-imposed regulations – to name just a few.

Worrying external deficit should give govt cause to shy away from calls to cull the country’s dairy herd – Point of Order:

Even  though NZ  is  reaping record prices for  its  primary exports, the  country’s current  account deficit  “exploded”  (the  BNZ’s  word  for it) in calendar  year 2021  to  the  equivalent  of  5.8% of  GDP,  or  $20bn. The  previous  year  the  annual deficit had been only  0.8%  of  GDP.

Economist  Cameron Bagrie  said  the current account deficit didn’t  get the  attention  it  deserved. The  BNZ’s  economists, noting there had been  a  very  big change in a  short  space  of time, said the deficit   is  the  largest   since 2009.

“It continues a rapid widening of the external deficit that we have been warning of for quite some time. The deficit is now getting to a level that some in the market and/or rating agencies might start paying attention to.”

Whether  the  government, preoccupied  with Covid  and  rising inflation, is  paying   any attention  isn’t clear — but  it  should be.  Some insiders  believe it is  beavering  away  on climate change  measures  that could have a  damaging effect on  farming  morale—particularly if the government goes  ahead with  measures as  proposed  by the Climate Change Commission to reduce  methane emissions  by  cutting cow herds by  15%. . . 

Otago pulls out the stops on its most insidious pest – Jill Herron:

When the rabbits spill off Otago’s land and on to its sea lion, seal and penguin-populated beaches, you know there’s a serious pest-control problem

For the first time in years – so many no one wants to put a number on it – non-compliance notices have been served on Otago landowners for letting rabbits run amok on their land.

A further 40 notices ordering immediate action or costly consequences are set to follow, as a shake-up in the pest department at the Otago Regional Council (ORC) last year starts to bear fruit.

Environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard, who has been in the role less than two years, concedes the ORC has had a “less than active stance” on the rabbit front and that this would have contributed to current numbers. . . 

Big names back NZ agtech breakthrough:

 Two global leaders in agriculture are helping advance world-first pasture technology designed, tested and made in New Zealand.

Investment from Gallagher and the Royal Barenbrug Group will fund wider farm roll-out and faster development for Christchurch-based Farmote Systems, company founder Richard Barton says.

Launched in Canterbury last spring, the Farmote System is a unique new way of automatically recording precise, consistent and reliable pasture data, 24/7. It now covers over 6000 hectares of farmland.

Fast forward

“We’re excited to have attracted new investment from Gallagher, as well as further investment from Barenbrug,” Richard Barton says. . . 

 

Export deal to see NZ wool carpet used in $1bn New York skyscraper :

A Kiwi company has secured a US export contract to supply one of New York’s tallest skyscrapers with its wool flooring product.

The $1.1 billion Brooklyn Tower will be home to hundreds of the city’s elite and will stand at 327 metres when it opens later this year, making it one of the world’s tallest residential buildings.

The new contract will see Bremworth supply over 3,000sqm of wool carpet for the 93 storey, supertall skyscraper and is one of the company’s largest ever installations of its natural fibre product in the US.[1]

The North American deal is the highest profile commercial contract for the company since Bremworth’s wool carpets were used in the refurbishment of dozens of US retail outlets owned by Cartier, the luxury French jewellery maker. . . 

Dairy giant Arla warns of supply issues unless farmers paid more – Emma Simpson:

The UK’s largest dairy has warned milk supplies could be under threat unless its farmers are paid more.

The managing director of Arla Foods said costs are increasing at rates never seen before and that farmers can no longer cover their expenses.

“Because of the recent crisis, feed, fuel and fertiliser have rocketed and therefore cashflow on the farm is negative,” said Ash Amirahmadi.

He added farmers are producing less milk as a result of the higher costs. . . 


Rural round-up

21/01/2022

NIWA predicts drought for top and bottom of the country – Tom Kitchin:

Parts of Aotearoa may have to prepare for a third consecutive year in drought.

Although spring rain may be keeping some hopeful, it is getting dry rapidly, with many farmers seeing their land dry out before their eyes in recent weeks.

The driest parts of the country are at opposite ends – Northland and Southland.

NIWA’s drought index is rating one part of Southland, dry, another very dry and a small part south east of Invercargill extremely dry. . . 

Low methane livestock a reality :

AgResearch scientists’ work to successfully breed low methane emitting sheep has the potential to help all NZ livestock farmers lower their carbon footprint.

The ground-breaking research took out the 2021 Supreme Award at the Science New Zealand Awards.

Backed by the industry through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) and the Government – via the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) – the AgResearch team spent over a decade working on the science.

They were able to identify genetic differences which influences how much methane an individual sheep produces. Methane is a relatively short-lived but potent greenhouse gas. . . 

Annual food price increase the highest in a decade :

Annual food prices were 4.5 percent higher in December 2021 than they were in December 2020, Stats NZ said today.

This is the biggest annual increase since September 2011, when annual food prices increased 4.7 percent.

The main contributor to this increase was higher prices for tomatoes.

Tomatoes nearly doubled in price between December 2020 and December 2021, increasing 99 percent. . . 

Rabobank appoints new head of food and agri research for New Zealand & Australia :

Rabobank has announced the appointment of Stefan Vogel as General Manager of its food and agribusiness research division in New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Vogel takes on the role after more than seven years with Rabobank in London, where he held two concurrent global positions with the bank – Head of Agri Commodity Markets Research and Global Grains and Oilseeds Sector Strategist.

In his new position, based in Sydney, Mr Vogel leads the New Zealand and Australian arm of the agribusiness bank’s highly-regarded global food and agricultural research division, RaboResearch.

In New Zealand and Australia, RaboResearch comprises a team of 10 specialist agri commodities analysts, who are part of a network of 75 research analysts worldwide focussed on providing comprehensive, leading-edge food and agribusiness research for the bank’s clients. . . 

Landmark Agreement Paves Way For NZ Grown Cannabis Medicines :

New Zealand’s two largest medicinal cannabis companies have signed a supply contract that will provide Kiwis further access to locally made medicines and pave the way for international export success. 

The five year multi-million-dollar deal between Marlborough-based cultivator Puro and Auckland-based Helius Therapeutics is New Zealand’s largest to date.

Under the partnership, Puro will supply over 10 tonnes of organic medicinal cannabis to Helius over the next five years, the equivalent of approximately five shipping containers of dried cannabis flower. . .

Comvita and Microsoft collaboration brings magic of the hive to utilising Hololens technology :

Comvita, global leader in Mānuka honey, has today announced a new collaboration with Microsoft, with the creation of an immersive multi-sensory consumer experience powered by Microsoft’s HoloLens technology.

Set to launch to consumers in January 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai, the experience represents the next step in Comvita’s mission to transform the consumer retail experience, following the opening of its award winning multi-sensory space, The Wellness Lab, in Auckland earlier this year.

With its application of Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, Comvita has transported the Wellness Lab’s 180-degree theatre experience into the fully mobile headset, enabling it to connect consumers anywhere in the world to the unique benefits of Mānuka honey and the magic of bees and nature. . . 


Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Emma Higgins

30/12/2021

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Emma Higgins is co-host of Black Heels and Tractor Wheels. She is a senior dairy analyst at Rabobank and has held a range of roles in corporate and agribusiness. She serves on the board of Rural Women NZ and is a third generation member of the organisation. 


Rural round-up

29/11/2021

Which face do we believe – Peter Burke:

When Covid-19 first arrived in New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern made great play of the fact that it would be the primary sector – and that means rural NZ – would be the saviour of the economy.

Agriculture and the supporting processing and supply chain workers and farmers were deemed essential, and to their great credit these people have delivered 100% and more.

But if perchance, or maybe out of morbid curiosity, you tune into Jacinda’s daily sermons from the Beehive, you would struggle to hear the word ‘rural’ mentioned these days.

The vaccine roll-out has been urban driven with percentage rates in Auckland hailed and glorified. It seems to be all about high population numbers, which also means votes, or is that being too cynical? . .

Residents take up arms in Central Otago as rampant rabbits ruin land– Olivia Caldwell:

A plague of rabbits has destroyed thousands of grape vines, chewed through fence posts and rose gardens and left properties in Central Otago potted with holes, costing landowners thousands of dollars.

The trail of destruction has driven some to take up arms – despite never having owned a gun before – and shoot them from their front lawns.

The local authority says the responsibility for dealing with the pests lies with homeowners – a stance which has infuriated some, who say the buck should stop with the council, not them.

In recent months the Otago Regional Council (ORC) has visited more than 300 properties across the rabbit-prone areas of Lake Hayes, Morven Hill, Dalefield, Gibbston Valley and Hawea, and has now emailed hundreds of letters to landowners asking them to come up with their own compliance plan to get rid of rabbits. . . 

Bank opts for woollen carpet – Country Life:

The chief executive of Rabobank was so determined its new Hamilton HQ would have wool carpet he arranged for it to be craned in.

Todd Charteris says it was suggested synthetic carpet squares would be more appropriate because rolls of carpet were too big to be carried in the lift.

He wasn’t having a bar of it.

Rabobank specialises in rural banking and is relocating its head office from Wellington to the third and fourth floors of a central Hamilton building. . . 

Native dairy farmer – Country Life:

A Waikato farming couple will be hanging up their tennis racquets this year after transforming the farm’s tennis court into a native plant nursery.

Dave Swney and Alice Trevelyan started The Native Dairy Farmer and spent the latest Waikato lockdown potting up 22,000 plants now neatly lined up on the court.

Alice estimates they moved about 16 cubic metres of compost.

“Heaps of shovelling,” says Dave. “Some of us farmers have fatter fingers and probably aren’t as good on some of the more delicate jobs but we can get on the end of a shovel and shove a bit of compost.” . . 

First year EIT student chosen as Young Vintner of the Year:

Maddison Airey, a 23-year-old first year Bachelor of Viticulture and Wine Science (BVWSci) student from EIT, has won the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society & Craggy Range Young Vintners Scholarship for 2021.

Maddison received her award at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards dinner last night.

As part of the scholarship, Maddison wins $2,000 funding from the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society and a vintage position at Craggy Range Winery for the harvest season of ’22, and she will also be an associate judge for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards next year.

Maddison says she is excited about the scholarship and the opportunities it will offer her. . . 

‘I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis’: The energy crunch has made fertilizer too expensive to produce, says Yara CEO – Katherine Dunn:

The world is facing the prospect of a dramatic shortfall in food production as rising energy prices cascade through global agriculture, the CEO of Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International says.

“I want to say this loud and clear right now, that we risk a very low crop in the next harvest,” said Svein Tore Holsether, the CEO and president of the Oslo-based company. “I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis.”

Speaking to Fortune on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Holsether said that the sharp rise in energy prices this summer and autumn had already resulted in fertilizer prices roughly tripling.

In Europe, the natural-gas benchmark hit an all-time high in September, with the price more than tripling from June to October alone. Yara is a major producer of ammonia, a key ingredient in synthetic fertilizer, which increases crop yields. The process of creating ammonia currently relies on hydropower or natural gas. . .


Nutrient density matters

16/10/2021

Nutrient density matters because not all carbon emissions are equal:

A lot of people make food choices based on what they think is good for the environment, and therefore also makes them feel good, but often their choices are hurting the environment unnecessarily.

This was the underlying message of Rabobank’s Netherlands-based managing board member, Berry Marttin’s talk at last month’s Farm2Fork summit, held at Cockatoo Island. . .

Today we talked a lot about world population – we have to produce more. But Paris is saying ‘no, no, we can only emit four megatonnes'”.

The Paris Accord also stipulated that emissions reductions must not come at the expense of food production.

He said the gap that our food producers will have to overcome is to lift from the current 13 trillion calories to “20-something trillion calories”, in 30 years time, which is an increase in the realm of 50-60 per cent.

At the same time, food production will have to go from 12Mt down to 4Mt of carbon output.

“Every calorie produced has to be four to five times more efficient,” Mr Marttin said.

“So we have to understand, what are we going to do? What are we measuring?”

He said a lot of current reports are measuring how much emissions per gram, or kilogram.

“But the issue is that we don’t live by kilos. We survive as humans by calories.”

He said if you look at it from a calorie point of view, it painted a clearer picture of the amount of carbon output along the whole supply chain versus what calorific value you obtained from that food – and also better reflected the amount of processing. . .

Milk production also represents 3-4pc of global carbon emmissions.

“And that brings us to the fact that people think that cows are polluters – it’s a big issue. That’s what people think about it.”

He said the Australia-New Zealand region did have the lowest output of carbon in the world per litre of milk produced.

“If you look at 100 grams of milk, it produces 100g of CO2. But if you look at the most important thing, which is actually the nutrition density of milk, it’s 50 (nutrients that we need daily).

“It’s a very high nutrition density.”

“Let’s look at the emission of soya drink – it has very low emissions (per unit of volume). But then let’s look at the nutrition density of soya drink, the problem is it has only one or two nutrients that we need every day.

“So are we measuring the right thing? Nope. Are we telling the right story? What’s better? Milk, or soya drink?

“Is the industry telling what is better for the environment?”

He said if you correlate the emissions with the nutrient density, you get a clearer picture of nutritional value against emissions output. . .

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

17/04/2021

Orchard staff may head west – Jared Morgan:

The lure of a transtasman bubble and a reinvigorated hospitality sector may lead backpackers away from Central Otago orchards and vineyards, industry leaders warn.

For a sector already faced with critical labour shortages, the consequences of that could be dire if the long-awaited travel bubble opens as scheduled on Monday.

With hopes of recognised seasonal employer workers from the Pacific being allowed into New Zealand in time to complete the 2020-21 season evaporating, the loss of backpackers before the season was complete would strike another blow.

Seasonal Solutions chief executive Helen Axby said the loss of backpackers to the warmer climes of Australia was a real possibility. . . 

Agrichemicals are a lifesaver – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Many experts regard agrichemicals as a lifesaver and they have the facts to back it up. However, this doesn’t stop people’s concern over their use, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Chemicals used in agriculture are termed “agrichemicals”. They are also called “agrochemicals” which sounds worse.

But while a few people rant about their existence, many experts regard them as just as much of a lifesaver as, for instance, the development of antibiotics and vaccines.

A series of articles published by geneticliteracyproject.org (a website with the strapline “science not ideology”) presents facts clearly. . .

 

Making the most of a move south – Rebecca Ryan:

Life is a balancing act for Celia Van Kampen. The Oamaru vet tells Rebecca Ryan how she successfully fits her busy sporting schedule in around her work.

What’s your background?  Where are you from?

I grew up in the Hawke’s Bay as one of four kids. I went to school at Taikura Rudolf Steiner School, then studied veterinary science at Massey University in Palmerston North, graduating in 2018, then I moved straight from studying down here. I have been working at the Veterinary Centre Oamaru for just over a year and a half. I started in January 2019.

Had you always wanted to be a vet?
I was quite young when I decided that becoming a vet was a good idea. I can’t remember exactly what my reasons were then, but as I got closer to finishing school I liked that being a vet you got to work with lots of different species, the challenge of trying to work out what was wrong and fix it. Now, I really enjoy the variation of getting outside and work with farmers, but also small animals case work-ups and surgery. . . 

Calling NZ Agtech, Food Tech And Food And Beverage Startups: Applications Are Open For Rabobank’s FoodBytes! Pitch 2021 :

Rabobank is kicking off the 2021 Pitch programme for FoodBytes!, the bank’s global food and agriculture innovation platform, which drives connections and collaboration between startups, corporate leaders,investors and farmers to implement solutions to food system challenges.

From now until Sunday 16 May, Kiwi agtech, food tech and consumer food and beverage startups are invited to apply for selection to present at the global virtual pitch competition in November.

FoodBytes! Pitch is an annual multi-week programme helping food and agriculture startups from throughout the world validate and grow their businesses, and their impact, through global industry exposure, tailored mentorship sessions, connection with corporates and investors, pitch refinement, industry awareness and recognition. . . 

Fieldays Innovations forecasting the future of the primary sector :

Entries are open for the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards, that have been refined to clearly represent the innovation lifecycle, resulting in three award categories: Prototype, Early Stage, and Growth & Scale.

Fieldays Innovations Event Manager, Gail Hendricks, says “ its no surprise that innovation has become a top priority for businesses, especially for primary industries in terms of providing sustainable and productive solutions that drive economic progress.

The Fieldays Innovation Awards entries will be on display in the new and enhanced Fieldays Innovation Hub, where entrants can test their innovation and connect with potential customers, industry professionals, investors, and corporate decision makers. In the Innovation Hub, Fieldays visitors will be able to tangibly experience the phases of innovation lifecycle represented by the three award categories.

Sheep assemble into mysterious ‘flock circles’ in Rottingdeam – Harry Bullmore:

WE’VE all heard of crop circles, and the many theories behind them.

Aliens and pranksters are among the explanations given for the intricate patterns which appear in fields and leave farmers scratching their heads.

However, in Sussex, there appears to be a new natural phenomenon – flock circles.

University lecturer Chris Hogg was cycling through the South Downs, behind Rottingdean, when he saw hundreds of sheep arranged into a series of concentric circles on a hillside. . .

 


Rural round-up

19/02/2021

Gore estimates cost of $300m to comply with freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

A small Southland council with less than 6000 ratepayers is potentially facing a $300m bill to comply with new freshwater regulations.

Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said meeting the cost of the Government’s compliance was “the perfect financial storm.’’

The government’s new rules aim to improve freshwater quality in a generation.

Councils countrywide were now realising the enormity of the costs involved in complying with the rules, Parry said. . .

UK warned to honour FTA commitments – Peter Burke:

Plans for the United Kingdom to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have come with a warning from New Zealand dairy companies.

Dairy Companies of New Zealand (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey says while he welcomes the intent of the UK to join the group, he wants the NZ government to send a strong message to the UK about how it must honour its commitment to freeing up global trade. He says before being admitted to the CPTTP, as the first nation outside the trans-pacific region to benefit from it, the UK must fully embrace free trade. He wants actions, not just words.

Bailey says the UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation.

But he says the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations.

 

Impact of irrigation on the soil – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Soil organic matter was a hot topic for environmentalists, ecologists and primary producers in 2020.

It is likely to remain at the centre of debate this year as well.

All parties agree it is an important factor of soil quality; the arguments are about how to look after it.

Soil organic matter is increased or decreased by management. Because farmers and growers rarely alter one factor of management in isolation, the drivers of an effect on soil organic matter after a change in management can be difficult to identify. . . 

Holgate ready to tackle new role – Neal Wallace:

Long gone are the days of a bank’s sole function to take an investor’s money and lend it to borrowers. Today, banks are becoming intimately involved in the businesses in which they invest. Neal Wallace spoke to Rabobank’s new head of sustainable business development Blake Holgate.

Blake Holgate has some big questions for which he hopes to find some answers.

Rabobank’s newly appointed head of sustainable business development says near the top of the list is defining exactly what sustainability means in the context of New Zealand farming.

Defining the much maligned word is central to the future of NZ agriculture, and Holgate is confident that meeting such a standard, once it is defined, is achievable. . . 

We’ll eat huhu grubs and pigs’ nipples, so why not possum? – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand is famous for its meat exports and love of a Sunday roast but there are some meats Kiwis have never taken to.

Although some like to dabble in the unusual – crowds flock to events like Hokitika’s famous Wildfoods Festival to down huhu grubs and pigs’ nipples – for many, a venison steak is about as adventurous as dinner is likely to get.

But, with a veritable feast of wild and surplus animals on our doorstep, that needn’t be the case.

So, what’s our beef with alternative meats? . . 

The bogus burger blame  – Frank Mitloehner:

One of the most popular meals in America is one of the most maligned.

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our lifetime, which we must address with urgency, but swapping out a hamburger once a month isn’t how we do it. While the burger does have an impact on our climate, which we’re working to reduce, it’s simply not the climate killer it’s made out to be.

Animal agriculture, including ruminant animals like the cows that belch methane as they digest food, has an environmental footprint. That’s a fact. According to the EPA, animal ag is responsible for 4 percent of the United States’ direct greenhouse gas emissions. Of that amount, beef cattle are in for 2.2 percent. If you want to use the more encompassing cradle-to-grave formula, beef cattle still only account for 3.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The dairy sector is responsible for 1.9 percent. (Lifecycle assessments are the preferred method of measuring a sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it’s not always the most appropriate, which I’ll explain in a minute.)

The greenhouse gas emissions of our four-legged friends? Clearly, they’re not nothing. But they’re not everything, either.  The elephant in the room (or rather, in the atmosphere) is fossil fuel. Its sectors combined account for nearly 80 percent of direct U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. There are no life-cycle assessments for these sectors, which is why direct emissions is most appropriate when making comparisons between sectors; between animal agriculture and transportation, for example. . . .


Rural round-up

04/02/2021

Pandemic’s silver lining – Anne Boswell:

The recognition of farmers’ contribution to New Zealand’s food production system has been identified as a positive aspect of the covid-19 pandemic experience, according to a new study released by AgResearch.

One farmer experienced “a change in attitude among the public around how they value the security of food production and therefore the role of farmers in providing that food.”

Others noted “NZ agriculture is starting to be seen as an important cog in the mechanism again,” “greater recognition of the true value of agriculture and primary producers,” and “governments and communities recognised the importance to our standards of living that agriculture provides plentiful safe food and fibre.”

The study, conducted by AgResearch scientists, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and several science organisations in NZ and Australia, surveyed farmers and others working in the agriculture and food systems in Australasia about the impacts of covid-19 in the period through to June 2020, which included national lockdowns. . . 

Outlook for 2021 ‘bristling with risk’:

Amid significant global turbulence, New Zealand agricultural producers are poised to enjoy a fifth consecutive year of general profitability in 2021, according to a new report by Rabobank.

In the bank’s Agribusiness Outlook 2021 report, Rabobank says while the outlook for the year is “bristling with risk”, and bumps are anticipated throughout the coming months, most agricultural sectors can expect to see average to above-average pricing, manageable cost inflation and production holding up well.

Report co-author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Emma Higgins says that as 2021 gets underway, the world is still turbulent for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. . . 

Important for UK to convert trade liberalisation narrative to action as it seeks to join CPTPP:

In welcoming the UK’s application to join the CPTPP agreement, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is stressing the need for the UK to convert its statements of commitment to leadership in global trade liberalisation to meaningful action.

“The UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation. However, the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Despite the UK’s strong statements of ambition, including for a high-quality UK-NZ FTA, we are yet to see it remedy concerns about diminished quota access following Brexit and we have detected hesitancy on its part to bringing real liberalisation to the FTA negotiating table. Avoiding a disconnect between intent and action is important if current and potential trade negotiating partners are to have confidence in the UK’s stated ambitions”. . . 

Zespri secures labs for taste tests – Richard Rennie:

Zespri has confirmed several laboratories have been approved for the next three seasons to conduct the vital taste profile tests for kiwifruit, a major component of grower payments.

Zespri’s chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert says following an intensive three-month procurement process, a range of service providers have been selected for the tests.

They include AgFirst in Hawke’s Bay and Nelson, Hill Laboratories, Linnaeus, Pinpoint Lab Services and Verified Lab Services.

The replacement companies were necessary due to Zespri’s previous lab service Eurofins Bay of Plenty dropping the test at the start of last season, leaving the industry without the valuable test. . . 

Station site of lotus research trial – Yvonne O’Hara:

When the Garden family at Avenel Station say Lotus pedunculatus or Lotus uliginosus, they are not casting Harry Potter spells.

They are talking about the legume, Maku lotus (Lotus uliginosus)

It is a variety of trefoil that has been trialled on a 500ha block on their high country property since 2014.

Pat Garden and his brother Eion had sown lotus on the property in the 1980s.

Subsequently, Pat and his son Nick took part in the more formal research “Legumes for Hard Hill Country” trial, which was funded through the Sustainable Farming Fund, with input from PGG Wrightson Seeds, Grasslanz Ltd, AgResearch’s Dr David Stevens, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Offal market lifts on pandemic demand – Shan Goodwin:

OVERSEAS demand for lower-value red meat products as the pandemic continues to cut into household incomes has served the Australian offal market well, with prices across the board either firming or stable.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest co-product market reports shows halal kidneys recording the strongest growth, up 93 per cent year-on-year, while lungs and hearts lifted 45 and 28pc, respectively. Halal hearts averaged a solid $3.15 a kilogram, up 70c from December.

Liver prices averaged $1.28 a kilogram, 19c up month-on-month.

On the other hand, premium products such as tongue, thickskirt and rumen pillars eased somewhat. . . 


Rural round-up

24/12/2020

Regional economies: agriculture strong, tourism struggling:

Regions with large agricultural bases have surging regional economies while those which relied heavily on tourism were struggling.

The latest quarterly figures from Westpac McDermott Miller showed that Gisborne/Hawkes Bay have recorded a huge bounce in confidence, followed by Nelson-Marlborough-West Coast and Taranaki/Manawatū-Whanganui.

It showed the “optimists now outweighed the pessimists” in most regions, except in Northland, Otago and Southland – although the news was not entirely grim for the southern regions which had been hard-hit by the Covid-19 linked downturn.

Senior agri economist Nathan Penny said the bounce in confidence for most regions was a reflection of the general rebound in the economy, helped by news of positive vaccine developments overseas. . . 

Milk price forecast boosted by banks – Sally Rae:

Rabobank and ASB have both increased their farm-gate milk price forecasts to $7 for the 2020-21 season, following an improving dairy outlook.

Prices edged up again at last week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction — the last for the year — with an overall price increase of 1.3%.

Gains were strongest for the fat products; butter prices were up 6% and anhydrous milk fat up 1.9% while whole and skim milk powder lifted 0.5% and 1.2% respectively.

ASB economist Nat Keall said the result reflected the fact global demand was still holding up well, providing support for dairy prices. . . 

Westpac Agri Futures established to help young people into rural careers:

The importance of our primary industries has been recognised with a new sector to be included in The 2021 Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games.

The Rural Games will now include Westpac Agri Futures in association with Property Brokers and this is to be held on Friday 12th March in Palmerston North.

Westpac New Zealand General Manager Institutional & Business Banking, Simon Power said Agri Futures is all about encouraging the next generation into agriculture sector careers.

“The demand for staff across rural New Zealand has only grown since COVID-19, and Westpac understands the need to support efforts to encourage more Kiwis to enter the rural workforce.” . . 

Federated Farmers hails pragmatic migrant worker visa decisions:

Farmers and growers up and down the land will be pleased with the pragmatic decision by government to extend visas for migrant workers already on our shores.

“The six-month extension for employer-assisted work visa holders and the postponed stand down period for low-paid Essential Skills via holders will come as a relief for the primary sector heading into the Christmas and New Year period,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We thank Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi for listening to our case for this, and recognising a common sense approach. . . 

NZ Rural Land Company has quiet NZX debut :

The New Zealand Rural Land Company (NZRLC) has had a quiet debut on the stock exchange, listing at a slight premium.

Its shares touched a high of $1.31 in early trading compared with the issue price of $1.25 in the recent share float, before settling at $1.28 with only small volumes being traded.

The company raised $75 million in the public share float, which along with debt will give it about $100m for rural land buying.

NZRLC plans to buy rural land and lease it to farmers or other producers. . . 

Tractor and Machinery Association announces 2021 scholarships:

The Tractor & Machinery Association Inc (TAMA) is offering to industry trainees who are studying towards a certificate or diploma.

There are several $500 scholarships available to industry trainees who can demonstrate their commitment and potential contribution to the industry. Applications for 2021 open on 18 January and close on 5 March with successful applicants advised in May.

TAMA general manager Ron Gall said the scholarships are part of TAMA’s wider efforts to encourage younger people to stay working in the industry and take advantage of the valuable career path it offers. . . 


Rural round-up

12/12/2020

Freshwater reforms may stifle farm profitability by 83% per year – report  :

Farm profitability across the Ashburton District is expected to decline 83 percent per year due to the government’s freshwater reforms, a new report states.

The changes are aimed at improving the quality of waterways and include new rules for winter grazing, nitrogen pollution and farm intensification.

The desktop report, requested by the council, notes dairy farming takes place on nearly a third of the district’s agricultural land and would be the hardest hit financially.

“The regulations will challenge existing farming systems with a number of established farm practices needing to change, and new technology and innovation adoption will be required.” . . 

‘We’ve been given a real wake up call’ – Alice Scott:

Will Halliday says he acts much the same as a farmer on a drafting gate when new proposals and ideas come across his desk.

“In terms of biosecurity and animal welfare, there is a lot to keep ahead of when it comes to New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry. The expectations of our trade partners are very high. For me it’s keeping an eye on the horizon and making sure the demands and regulations put forward are achievable in real world situations.”

Part of the “drafting” process involves consultation with the
B+LNZ farmer councils.

“Talking to our people on the ground that are actually out there doing it and discussing what will work and what won’t. . .

Sheep farming runs in the blood – Mary-Jo Tohill:

The Robertsons were not meant to continue sheep farming.

In 1998, the West Otago couple were advised to go dairying. It would be more lucrative. But it was the dual-purpose Romney all the way to the bank.

“The accountant thought we were crazy,” fourth generation sheep farmer Blair Robertson said.

“We sacked the accountant and got a new one.”

Borrowing to buy the family farm at Waikoikoi between Tapanui and Gore has meant huge debt servicing and it has been a tough grind for the past 20 years, but they are living their particular dream. . . 

A life’s work of plant breeding – Richard Rennie:

Ten years after the kiwifruit sector was all but wiped out by Psa, Te Puke plant breeder Russell Lowe takes some humble satisfaction knowing his work brought it back from the brink to become the country’s highest value horticultural crop.

Lowe has been part of Plant & Food’s kiwifruit breeding programme at Te Puke for 30-plus years and while just retired, he continues to keep a watching brief on how future breeding work is coming along.

Today’s world-leading kiwifruit breeding facility is a far cry from the wooden bungalow, maize crops and pile of orchard posts that greeted him and his wife when they arrived in the early 1970s. 

He had got the position after completing a major in chemistry at Canterbury and building an interest in horticulture while working in the Horotane Valley over the holidays. That had been followed by a stint at the then DSIR Research orchard in Appleby in the Tasman district as a horticultural technician. . . 

Proudly sponsoring Surfing for Farmers since 2018:

Our Kiwi farmers and growers leave everything they have on the field, they give their all to support New Zealand’s economy and ensure we have access to the very best food and beverage. However, this does take a toll on their wellbeing and mental health. Helping farmers and growers take care of their mental health is as important to Ballance Agri-Nutrients as the health and safety of our own team, that’s why we are a founding partner of the Surfing for Farmers programme.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of New Zealand farmers is an important topic,” says Jason Minkhorst, GM Sales, Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

“When you consider all the factors that farmers deal with on a daily bases such as working remotely, animal welfare, financial pressure, consumer demands, media and lobby group commentary, long hours and weather events like drought, it is easy to understand why mental health is an issue in rural New Zealand. . . 

Network 10 signs Rabobank to help Farm to Fork cooking show

Agribusiness lender Rabobank is partnering with Network 10’s television cooking show Farm to Fork.

The bank – a global specialist in food and agribusiness and one of the leading providers of Australia agricultural financial services – has joined with Network 10 and Farm to Fork’s producers Dual Entertainment as a partner in season two of the television program.

The show, which airs nationally on weekday afternoons, aims to help inform Australians how to eat and live well.

The program aims to inspire viewers to not only cook at home but also have a better appreciation of where and how their food is grown. . . 


Rural round-up

27/11/2020

Farmgate prices for red meat set to fall – Sudesh Kissun:

Red meat farmers are being warned to brace themselves for a dip in market returns.

A new report from Rabobank says reduced global demand for higher-value beef and lamb cuts in the year ahead will see New Zealand farmgate prices for beef and sheepmeat drop from the record highs experienced over recent seasons.

In the bank’s flagship annual outlook for the meat sector, Global Animal Proteins Outlook 2021: Emerging from a world of uncertainty, Rabobank says a slow and uneven recovery in the international foodservice sector, combined with weak global economic conditions, will reduce demand for higher-value New Zealand red meat cuts such as prime beef and lamb racks. . . 

NZ venison ‘facing perfect storm’ – Annette Scott:

Despite currently facing the perfect storm, the deer industry is confident New Zealand farm-raised venison has a long-term future.

With the covid-19 resurgence disrupting key venison markets across Europe and the US, NZ venison processors and marketers are making major efforts to again find new outlets for farm-raised venison cuts.

Many countries and regions have reimposed hospitality lockdowns, meaning expensive cuts such as venison striploins are sitting in freezers in Europe and the US waiting for restaurants to re-open.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says the current situation is a challenge with the bulk of NZ venison sold to the US and Germany destined for the food service. . . 

 

Challenges ahead but opportunities abound – Colin Williscroft:

Melissa Clark-Reynolds is stepping down from her role as independent director at Beef + Lamb NZ at the end of the year but she is excited about the future of the primary sector. Colin Williscroft reports.

In-market strategies used to market and distribute New Zealand-produced food will need to be increasingly agile during the next few years, Melissa Clark-Reynolds says.

With food service overseas under pressure due to lockdowns, the emphasis has gone back on retail sales and she predicts traditional markets will be disrupted until at least 2022.

However, the current importance of retail avenues does not mean outlets such as supermarkets are going to have it all their way, with direct-to-consumer products gaining an increasingly strong foothold. . . 

Shearing company scoops business award

Higgins Shearing, Marlborough, was named the Supreme Award winner at the NZI Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) Business Awards last night.

The company was one of seven category award winners announced at the Public Trust Hall in Wellington.

“We strive to break through the status quo of the shearing industry,” owner Sarah Higgins said.

Higgins said that her inspiration comes from passion for the job. . . 

Family lavender farm flourishing – Mary-Jo Tohill:

When there’s a will there’s a way.

That would just about sum up things for the Zeestraten family when they first came to a bare paddock in Wanaka about eight years ago, and began to establish their 12ha Wanaka Lavender Farm.

With the lavender beginning to bloom for a new season, co-owner Tim Zeestraten (37) recalls a journey that began 25 years ago when the family moved from Holland.

“My opa (grandfather) was a tomato grower, which my dad, Jan Zeestraten took over. I was probably — actually most definitely — going to be next in line to continue the family tomato farm, which I was very excited about at the young age of 10. . . 

New England Peonies enjoy bumper peony season on the Northern Tablelands – Billy Jupp:

THEY are one of the most highly sought-after features of Australia’s spring wedding season and are often the centrepiece of a couple’s special day.

Despite COVID-19 forcing many people to postpone their nuptials, 2020 still proved to be a stellar year for peonies.

The colourful, full-bodied flower was still in high demand and the chilly winter conditions on the state’s Northern Tablelands proved to be the perfect breeding ground.

New England Peonies owner Barry Philp said this season was one of the best in his family’s 20 years of growing peonies on their Arding property, near Armidale. . . 


Rural round-up

01/10/2020

Time for a change?

This year has been a difficult and challenging time not just for farmers, but for all New Zealanders.

For the farming industry, changing regulations, uncertainties about staffing and a difficult financial outlook top the list. Add to that changing weather patterns and high levels of debt: all these factors impact their mental health and wellbeing.

Last week, the country marked Mental Health Awareness Week. Dairy industry stakeholders called on politicians to make rural mental health a priority.

DairyNZ’s report, The view from the Cowshed, released last month paints a sad picture. . . 

IrrigationNZ launches innovative way to learn about water quality:

IrrigationNZ believes it is important Kiwis get up-to-date information about freshwater in their local catchments and have created a new way to do it.

‘Know Your Catchment’ is an online platform which showcases water monitoring data and different ways freshwater supports wellbeing.

IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal says the platform is a step in the right direction to better inform the public about freshwater and help track the effects of farming practice change on water quality over time.

“This platform will engage and educate both rural and urban communities about the commitment farmers and growers have made to maintaining and improving water quality with information about water quality, irrigation, recreation, wetlands and more.” . . 

Candidates debate rural health priorities – Riley Kennedy:

Candidates from across the political spectrum went head-to-head in a debate to talk about their rural health priorities on Tuesday night.

The debate was organised in partnership with Mobile health and New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN).

In an election manifesto released by NZRGPN ahead of the debate, it noted three areas of concern, such as, long wait times for appointments to see health professionals, struggle to afford the costs of time and travel to manage their health and little to no access to specialist mental health and addiction services.

Its chief executive, Dr Grant Davidson, started off the debate by saying that rural health was in a crisis and it needs to be addressed. . . 

Decarbonisation is one option for Fonterra bosses to consider as they strive to make the co-op a national champion – Point of Order:

Rabobank’s  latest   survey    of farmer   confidence found dairy farmers more upbeat about the fortunes of the agricultural economy  than meat and wool  producers.  Dairy farmer net confidence rose to -29% (-33% previously).

Improving demand is the key reason for optimism among  dairy farmers. That’s  largely  because global demand for dairy has held up well during the course of Covid-19 with many consumers opting for simple, familiar, stable food products such as dairy during the pandemic.  And   since the last survey,  Fonterra has  lifted  the lower bound of its farmgate milk price pay-out range for the 20/21 season.

Then there is  Fonterra’s  performance  under   the  stewardship of  Fonterra chief executive Miles  Hurrell,    who  has succeeded  in  turning  the  co-op’s fortunes  around   after  two   grim  years. . . 

Ospri and LIC join forces :

OSPRI and the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are urging farmers to play their part in improving animal traceability at a critical time on farm.

As the management agency for the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system, OSPRI has been working closely with LIC to ensure livestock data recorded in its livestock management system MINDA LIVE, is more easily transferable and can be captured real-time in NAIT.

“The recent upgrades mean a seamless transfer of livestock movements between both systems within two hours instead of just once daily,” says OSPRI chief executive Steve Stuart.  . . 

Tasmanian shearers left in limbo due to border restrictions – Caitlin Jarvis:

Tasmanian shearers are facing financial limbo as the state’s border control measures force them to stay in the state or face lengthy and expensive quarantine.

Not classed as essential workers, shearers are not able to gain exemptions to enter Tasmania, and the state was left without its injection of New Zealand and interstate shearers it relies on for a speedy season.

As the Tasmanian season begins to wind up, Tasmanian shearers and interstate shearers who were in the state before the pandemic face financial uncertainty and the inability to find future work once the season finishes up in the state. . .

 


Rural round-up

30/05/2020

Southland on the brink – Peter Burke:

Southland is teetering on the edge of a bad situation, according to DairyNZ’s lead consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch.

He says if they can’t get rid of cull cows soon and if the weather doesn’t play its part, current problems will get even worse.

Southland is facing a major feed shortage, but not because of the drought – because of too much rain. The problem is that farmers came out of a pretty hard winter and a very wet spring, which delayed any winter crops being put in the spring, says Finch. . .

Fonterra and Air NZ race emergency protein order to the US for Covid-19 patients – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra teams have scrambled to answer an emergency call from the US for a big supply of a specialised protein product for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

After racing to make the hydrolysate product at its specialist plant which was about to close down for the season, the big dairy company chartered an Air NZ 787 jet to fly the first batch – 24 metric tonnes – direct to Chicago to be used in a medical food formula for intubated Covid-19 patients.

The SoS from a long-time big American customer came as the only Fonterra processing site that makes the special whey protein hydrolysate, the Hautapu factory near Cambridge, was preparing to shut and most of its 220 staff either to take annual leave or start annual maintenance work. . . 

Scientists understand cattle not climate villains, but media still missing message – James Nason,:

FOR a long time emissions from cattle have been lumped in with emissions from other sources as the same destructive forces for the planet in the global climate change narrative.

However, through research overseen by scientists including Dr Frank Mitloehner (right) from the University of California Davis and Dr Myles Allen from Oxford University, scientific consensus is starting to build around the point that livestock-related greenhouse gases are distinctively different from greenhouse gases associated with other sectors of society (more on this below).

Dr Mitloehner, an internationally recognised air quality expert, explained to the Alltech One virtual conference on Friday night (Australian time) that the concept of accounting for methane according to its Global Warming Potential, as opposed to just its volume of CO2 equivalent, which showed that not all greenhouse gases are created equal, has now made it all the way to the International Panel on Climate Change. . . 

Deer sector ready for challenges – Annette Scott:

After several seasons of strong export returns New Zealand’s venison farmers are well positioned to overcome the severe trade disruptions of covid-19, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

But the industry and venison marketers make no attempt to sugar-coat the difficult situation they are dealing with.

Holgate said venison producers have enjoyed a good run benefitting from healthy export sales into both established and new markets. 

“In the last five years we’ve seen significant export growth in the United States, partly due to increased demand for venison in pet food while we’ve also seen strong sales in long-standing European markets such as Germany and Belgium.”   . . 

Wool export contracts shaky – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign wool buyers are threatening to walk away from contracts with New Zealand exporters as they fight to survive the global coronavirus lockdown.

That was just one factor behind a savage 25% slump in crossbred wool prices at the first auction since the local lockdown ended at Napier on Thursday.

Exporter Masurel Fils managing director Peter Whiteman said many foreign buyers were being forced into desperate measures because of shut factories as well as a collapse in demand for the textiles they produced.

“We still sell a lot of wool to Europe and the UK for spinning to make carpets. Those customers are asking us for delays. . . 

NZ olive oil makes win big Kiwis encouraged to buy local:

Kiwis are being encouraged to support local and buy world-beating olive oil made by New Zealand growers, who have won seven Gold Medals at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Olive growers from Waiheke to Wairarapa and Kapiti and Nelson to Canterbury won top accolades at the competition, considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. New Zealand punched above its weight, taking home its best ever results against 26 other countries.

Stephen Davies Howard, Owner of Loopline in the Wairarapa, won two golds, one each for his Picholene and Picual oils. He says if New Zealanders ever needed a reason to buy local, the time is now. . . 


Rural round-up

20/04/2020

Hope for less restrictions:

The wool industry hopes for some lifting of COVID-19 restrictions limiting shearing and crutching to animal welfare reasons only.

“The shearing and crutching that is happening is taking place in the sheds where the contractors are helping to introduce social distancinghttps://www.stuff.co.nz/national/121104102/coronavirus-will-the-duckshooting-season-go-ahead? protocols,” says Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson.

“The staff are all 2m away from each other and that sort of thing. So, the shearing and crutching that is happening on farm is taking a bit longer.

“Any wool that has been shorn in the last several weeks is being stored on farm.” . . 

Coronavirus: Overseas farmers forced to dump milk during Covid-19 lockdown – Esther Taunton:

Overseas dairy farmers are pouring millions of litres of milk down the drain every day but it is business as usual for their Kiwi counterparts.

With pubs, cafes and restaurants closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, farmers in Britain are dumping up to 5 million litres a week, the Financial Times reported.

In the United States, up to 14 million litres of milk is going down the drain each day, according to the Dairy Farmers of America co-operative. . .

Coronavirus: Will the duck-shooting season go ahead? – Kirsty Lawrence:

The duck-shooting season is due to start in two weeks, but there are still big questions about whether it will even be possible 

The Covid-19 website initially said no to hunting under level three, but then changed to say they are re-looking at this and would provide an update soon.

The New Zealand Fish & Game Council held an online meeting on Friday to discuss an options paper about the ways forward, a spokesperson said. 

“We appreciate that everyone wants some certainty around what we know is a national tradition. . .

Dairy’s corona headache – Rabobank:

The outbreak of COVID-19 is weighing on global market sentiment and the 2020 outlook.

The underlying assumption is that many of the disruptions in China will normalize by the end of Q2 2020.

Rabobank believes there has been a shift in the global market fundamentals. A material reduction in China’s 1H 2020 import requirements looms over the global market balance. Chinese dairy import volume is forecast to fall 19% in 2020.  . .

Farmer’s Voice: success is in the bloodline – Craig Wiggins:

Since the 1960’s the Blackwell’s have farmed on Mangaotea Station, taking pride in the high-quality cattle they produce. These days Rob, Jaqueline and Zarrah farm three separate cattle studs on the property, with an obvious family rivalry pushing them to breed the best they possibly can.

 

 

 

Adapt quickly – Colin Williscroft:

Traceable, trusted and safe food will be more important than ever before in post-lockdown society but consumer behaviour has changed and New Zealand food producers must adapt quickly, KPMG agribusiness global head Ian Proudfoot says.

An understanding of food’s importance in peoples’ lives is greater today than it has been in decades, probably since the 1940s, he told an AgriTech webinar.

“We’ve always assumed food will be there but now there is an awareness we could face food insecurity.

“Now we recognise food supply is not certain. Food availability will no longer be taken for granted.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

14/04/2020

Winter is coming – Tom Hunter:

Rabobank provides a regular newsletter to its farming clients and the latest one makes for grim reading.

They’re forecasting a milk payout next season (20/21) of $5.60 per kg. Currently it’s at $7+.

Ouch.

The farmers I talk to don’t accept Rabobank’s analysis. Yet. And Fonterra, Open Country and other dairy companies are still optimistic that next season’s payout will still be well north of $6, even at not at this season’s level. The trouble is that their forecasts have often missed the big swings, notably the $4.30 payout of 2014/15, which came so rapidly after the record $8.40 payout, and I don’t have much confidence in Fonterra in general. . . .

Farmers: “cool” not to be unique. When they started farm environmental improvements, couple were unique – but not any more:

Eastern Southland dairy farmers Chris and Lynsey Stratford fielded a lot of questions on the environmental improvements being made when the property they manage was converted from sheep farming 10 years ago.

“Initially there was a lot of interest from other farmers,” Lynsey said.  “We were unique at the beginning – but not now…and that’s cool.”

That was in Southland – and Lynsey believes there’s been a much greater national understanding by farmers of action leading to big impacts on the environment over the last 10-20 years. . .

 

New Zealand onion growers celebrate multimillion-dollar export success in Indonesia:

New Zealand onion growers are celebrating being able to export their world class crop to Indonesia again.

‘Indonesia has just re-opened its market to New Zealand onions after some clarification was required for the new import rules,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘This follows months of negotiations, but with the support of key figures such as Director General Horticulture, Indonesia, Prihasto Setyanto and the Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, the regulations have been clarified and exports have resumed.’ . .

Sheep conference going ahead via virtual technology :

The stage is set for an international sheep conference, thanks to virtual technology.

Called Head Shepherd, the event on April 16 has been organised by neXtgen Agri, whose team usually spent most of its days visiting clients and assisting with breeding programmes both in Australia and New Zealand.

It had come to a “screaming halt” with the Covid-19 lockdown and the team was now providing that support via video and phone calls, founder and agricultural geneticist Dr Mark Ferguson said. . . 

Straight off the tussock, farming at Okuku Pass – Tim Fulton:

Jack’s mother Winifred knew the Latin name for every plant in the garden but Bill Blain did most of the work. Bill came out to New Zealand from London in 1882 on the same ship as the English cricket team, who were heading to Australia for the first ever Ashes series.

He had been working in the tramway stables in London, where at one stage he had been in charge of feeding about 7000 horses, but came out because of his lungs were crook. Despite his apparent poor health, Bill’s first big job in New Zealand was draining the Coldstream swamp for John Macfarlane – and then working a paddock for him at Loburn. He also drove traction engines, and apparently went to the Boer War as a fully qualified steam engine driver – but he had a long, narrow trenching spade which he prized for the rest of his life.

He worked for both the Macfarlanes and Fultons from the moment he arrived in New Zealand. He was with us at Broomfield and then went into a boarding house in Rangiora. . .

Primary sector needs more govt support:

The Government needs to urgently engage with the meat industry to look at ways to allow increased productivity over coming weeks, otherwise there will be a significant animal and farmer welfare issue, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“While farmers are an essential business, they are still experiencing significant disruption from COVID-19 and are grappling with the ongoing effects of drought.

“Meat processing plants are an essential service and have taken the appropriate steps to enact social distancing and other precautions for staff, but this has also led to productivity constraints.

“Meat Industry Association Chairman Tim Ritchie told the Epidemic Response Committee there was 75 per cent less venison being processed, 50 per cent less sheep meat and 30 per cent less beef. . . 


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