Rural round-up

July 21, 2020

Coronavirus leads to uncertainty for slinkskin industry – Rachael Kelly:

Southland farmers may have to dispose of dead stock on their own farms this spring as the Covid-19 pandemic takes a toll on the slinkskin industry.

Usually dead stock is picked up by slinkskin companies, which process the skins for export, but Southland’s two processors were yet to decide whether they would collect dead lambs this spring.

And while company has implemented a charge for dead calf and cow collection, another has put their calf collection on hold.

Trevor Newton, of Newton Slinkskins at Mataura, said he had made the decision to put the calf collection on hold this season, and a decision on whether the company would collect dead lambs would be made ‘’in due course.’’ . . 

Mataura Valley Milk needs more money to stay afloat – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland milk company Mataura Valley Milk will require additional funding to stay afloat, after reporting a net loss of $47 million in the financial year ending December 2019.

The company, which earlier this year had been eyed up by a2 milk as a potential investment target, reported a projected funding deficit of $26 million by December 2020.

Financial statements were filed with Companies Office on July 14.

Shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group would provide financial support by helping to pay debts as well as offering possible cash injections and shareholder loans. The latter would not require principal or interest repayments if it would cause the company to default on debts. . . 

Rain in Bay helps but a long way to go – Peter Burke:

A Hawke’s Bay farm consultant is pleasantly surprised by what has happened in the region over the past few weeks, with rain falling in most places.

Lochie MacGillivray, who works for AgFirst and is also the chairperson of the Rural Advisory Group set up to help manage the drought recovery, says there has been an improvement in conditions. He says Hawkes Bay has had mild weather and soft rain, and the pasture response has been phenomenal.

“Typically, at this time of the year, farmers might think of having 9kg of dry matter growth, but right now they are getting between 12 and 14kg of dry matter,”

MacGillivray told Rural News. He says farmers will still have to conserve feed for their animals, but the good weather has enabled pastures to recover and shortened the time between now and the end of winter. . . 

Putting the fun back in farming – Andrew Hoggard:

 Federated Farmers’ new president Andrew Hoggard says farmers need more fun and less admin.

I have been involved with Federated Farmers leadership for 17 years now, starting out as the Young Farmers rep, then moving into the provincial Vice-Dairy role once I became an old fart at 31.

Now I have only three years left – or less if I really suck at my new job as national president.

Since taking on the role three weeks ago I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to what I would like to see achieved in my term

It’s certainly not lost on me the responsibilities that go with this privileged position within New Zealand’s agricultural scene. . . 

Keeping the lustre alive – Sally Round:

Despite the dire prices for wool, a couple in Kapiti are continuing a 130-year family tradition breeding sheep for their lustrous fleece.

Country Life producer Sally Round dropped in.

Ravenswood has a long history breeding the hardy English Leicester whose long curly wool has been likened to Bob Marley’s dreadlocks.

Its genetics contributed to the New Zealand Halfbred and Corriedale so it’s been a big player in the development of the country’s sheep industry.

Ravenswood is New Zealand’s oldest English Leicester stud, according to Fiona and John Robinson, who are continuing the family tradition and finding a niche market for their flock’s lustrous wool. . . 

Wandering steer Boris back after 13 years in the Canterbury wilderness :

A “crazy big” Angus steer who has wandered the mountainous Hurunui back country for nearly 13 years has returned home.

He turned up last week with a couple of Angus cows, and happily headed back to an easier life on the homestead paddocks of the 7000-hectare Island Hills Station, north-west of Culverden.

Station owner Dan Shand and his wife, Mandy, reckon the steer is at least 13 years old, and has been nicknamed Boris.

Boris still has the tag in his ear put there when he was weaned, but Dan says he will need his binoculars to read it, at least until the new arrival settles in with the bulls. . .


Rural round-up

June 28, 2020

One billion . . .  wilding pines – Rachael Kelly:

Is this simply the dumbest waste of Government money to be spent in New Zealand?

The Government has committed $100m​ dollars to tackle wilding pines infestations during the next four years but under the One Billion Trees Fund, it’s also paying for the invasive species to be planted in the first place.

In Southland, a trust that has worked hard to eradicate wilding pines has written to Government ministers asking why they allow, under the fund, the planting of wilding species.

The Mid Dome Wilding Pine Trust has spent more than $10m​ clearing wilding contorta pines from northern Southland since 2007. . .

Farming vs Forestry: carbon credit  policy ‘idealistic’ :

The Government’s carbon credit policy is “idealistic” and missing “the big picture” says Mike Cranstone.

“Allowing an overseas fund manager to use our productive land to grow carbon credits – that’s like cutting off a finger of our productive hand,” the Whanganui Federated Farmers president and hill country farmer told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Cranstone was also not a fan of giving up profitable sheep and beef land to forestry.

“Let’s have the government set the incentives and the policy to actually encourage farmers to think about their marginal land and plant that”. . . 

Govt underestimating Labour shortage – National :

The government is underestimating the size of the labour shortage rural contractors are facing, according to National’s ag spokesperson David Bennett.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says he expects rural contractors generally require 350 foreign workers to get through the season. But contractors dispute this, saying many more will likely be needed to fill the labour shortage,’ claims Bennett.

“He also admitted the Government’s Covid-19 training programme is only training 40 people across the country to fill these highly-skilled roles.

“The Minister implied that if someone is capable of driving a van then they are qualified to drive a tractor. This is a simplistic view that doesn’t take into account the complexities of rural contracting and the high-value crops that are at stake. . .

Farms rich family heritage recognised – Molly Houseman:

A Taieri farm, owned by the same family for 150 years, has been given a New Zealand Century farm award.

Despite the cancellation of the usual awards dinner due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Janefield farm and its rich family history did not go unnoticed.

The 220ha farm is owned by father and son Ian and Simon Bathgate.

To be considered for the award, an application including photographs and documents supporting the farm’s history had to be submitted. . .

Selling makes no sense when you’re living the dream – Hugh Collins:

The drive between Arrowtown and Queenstown contains arguably some of the most sought-after high-country land in the South Island.

With no shortage of wealthy developers moving into the area in the past decade, many would be adamant the region’s rich farming days are numbered.

But for Malaghans Rd farmer Chris Dagg, it would be a cold day in hell if he ever chose to sell his 404ha sheep and beef farm beneath Coronet Peak.

“I’ve had countless people say ‘why don’t you just sell and go sit on a beach?,” Mr Dagg said when asked about selling. . . 

Pig farmers feed million bees in wildlife project :

Two pig farmers have succeeded in feeding one million bees after participating in a project that saw them turn over half their land to wildflowers.

Four years ago brothers Mark and Paul Hayward decided to farm 33ha – the equivalent of 83 football pitches – in the most wildlife positive way.

This involves planting nectar-rich blooms around the pig site at Dingley Dell Pork, Suffolk with the aim of embracing a sustainable way of farming. . . 


Rural round-up

June 3, 2020

Stress pockets in agricultural lending – Hugh Stringleman:

Agriculture has fared relatively well during the covid-19 pandemic but vulnerabilities in the sector remain, the Reserve Bank says.

In its Financial Stability Report for May it said lending to the agricultural sector is a key concentration of risk for the banking system, accounting for about 13% of loans, of which around two-thirds is to dairy farming.

“The industry is vulnerable to income shocks given its dependence on global commodity prices and pockets of dairy lending have yet to recover from the 2015 downturn. . .

The popular ‘New Zealand’ foods made overseas – Esther Taunton:

Think your favourite food is made or grown in New Zealand? Brace yourself for some bad news.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown, many Kiwis are making a conscious effort to support local businesses and brands.

There are Facebook groups connecting Kiwi shoppers with local makers, and a large-scale media campaign encouraging New Zealanders to back small and medium enterprises.

There’s even an online platform for potato lovers to pledge their support to local growers in the face of a potentially devastating influx of imported frozen chips. . . 

Judge’s 50 years of close shaves – Sally Brooker:

The magnet on Colin Gibson’s fridge says “I thought growing old would take longer”.

It seems appropriate for the man who has been a shearing judge for 50 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

He was aware of his long history in the industry when he was involved with the world record attempt by Stacey Te Huia near Ranfurly in January. The attempt was abandoned at morning smoko when the total had slipped out of reach, but Mr Gibson featured in television coverage of it recently on the equally long-running Country Calendar

He was a mentor for trainee referees at the event, teaching them to officiate when records were being contested. . . 

Down but not out:

The wool industry has taken a significant blow in recent months. Prices have eased back by 25% on the first sales back since covid-19 lockdowns. 

New Zealand is not alone as Australian wool prices have also decreased by 25% since March. Prices achieved in New Zealand have dropped to average $1.50-$1.70/kg greasy for good crossbred second shear fleece. This is a hard pill to swallow for many as crossbred wool returns are no longer covering the cost of the shearing. AgriHQ data shows current crossbred wool prices are $1.84/kg clean, back by about 31% on this time last year to what can only be described as dire. However, the industry is far from giving up. Those involved in the wool sector from the woolshed to the end market are working hard to ensure that wool will continue to have its place in the market and recover from the current downturn. . .

Eyes open to different ways of farm ownership :

Farmer Jane Smith was “blown away” by the group dynamic and drive when she and husband Blair hosted the North Otago-based Growth and Development in Farming Action Group at Newhaven Farms in Oamaru.

While the group members are all working in diverse farming operations, they all have a common purpose – aspiring to farm business ownership.

“It was inspiring to host a group of young people that are passionate about the industry and looking at ways, outside of the box, to get a step up into their own farming businesses,” Smith says. “They are very focused on what they are doing now and what it will take for them to get where they want to be.”

Wild about wilding pines – Rachael Kelly:

They’re considered an environmentalists’ nightmare.

Some groups work tirelessly to remove invasive wilding trees from the high country, but others now have resource consent to plant them.

The Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust, which has spent thousands of hours clearing wilding pines from other sites, is dismayed that the Southland District Council has granted a non-notified consent, with conditions, to Mataura Valley Station, near Kingston, to be planted out mainly in Douglas fir.

The trust was now seeking advice from Government ministers. . . 


Rural round-up

April 17, 2020

Pig-headed butcher ruling causing issues – Nigel Malthus:

The country’s pork producers say relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown rules might still not be enough to prevent an animal welfare crisis on the country’s pig farms.

They say pig farming is geared almost entirely to domestic consumption, depends on weekly throughput with no spare capacity, and unlike red meat has no established export market to take up the slack.

With the forced closure of restaurants and independent butchers, they are hurting, says NZ Pork chief executive David Baines. . .

Coronavirus: Lingering drought prompts more calls to rural helpline during Covid-19 – Lawrence Gullery:

Tight feed supplies and the ongoing drought has pushed up calls to the Rural Support Trust’s national helpline as more farmers seek help.

The trust’s national chairperson, Neil Bateup, said there had been a 40 per cent increase in calls since the dry weather started to grip the country in February.

He said traditionally the trust records around 35 calls at this time of the year but it was now up to 50.

“Difficulties around the drought, particularly low feed supply, would be the main reasons for the increase but we’ve got all of the other issues around financial planning, wellness, unemployment, relationships that are still coming in too.” . .

Coronavirus: tulip bulb export still a grey area – Rachael Kelly:

Tulip exporter Rudi Verplancke says it was a relief to watch a truck leave his plant in Southland with the hope to fulfil export orders.

The bulb growers have had 150 million bulbs sitting in storage, collectively worth $32 million, that are destined for lucrative northern hemisphere markets.

Triflor operations manager Rudi Verplancke said it was “a very big relief” to see an order leave the company’s plant near Edendale on Thursday morning but it was still a grey area regarding final permission to export. . .

Essential food teams need more staff:

Keeping food on the table is trickier under COVID-19 physical distancing conditions, but Hawke’s Bay’s food producers are focused on the task.

Hastings’ primary industry starred in national media this week, with a call for more workers. The need to keep everyone safe through physical distancing, from pickers in the field to the staff in pack houses and processing factories, means more people are needed across a whole range of steps in the food production process.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst is focused on ensuring people who may have lost their normal employment because of the virus are aware of other opportunities available.

“Our economy is our fertile land and what we harvest from it. To keep our economy moving, we must support our primary producers and keep our people in jobs.” . . .

Positive 2019 result gives certainty in disrupted global environment:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $34.9m for the 2019 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $70.7m for the 2019 financial year.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2019 year provides stability for both the Co-operative and the operating company.

“The Co-operative is in a strong position with no debt. Whilst this was achieved last year, we now have a strong platform to weather a period where our country and the world is in a period of considerable economic uncertainty.” . .

Avoparty with avocados:

NZ Avocado have teamed up with dinner party pop-up professionals, Kitchen Takeover, to unite separated friends and family around virtual dining tables during lockdown.

NZ Avocado and Kitchen Takeover want to help Kiwis connect with each other through food whilst they are apart, by providing the tools needed to host a virtual dinner parties at home.

#Avopartyanyway is a virtual dinner experience designed to be as heart-warming and fun as before lockdown began. Participants invite their friends, set up a video call, and get inspired by easy to follow, fun and healthy recipes. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 3, 2020

Farmers feeling socially disconnected as younger generation migrate to social media – Lawrence Gullery:

A trail of dust follows Philip Dench’s motorbike as he rides up to the milking shed in the baking sun.

He steps off his bike wearing boots, shorts, a singlet, cap and sunglasses.

It’s hard to figure out what he’s thinking behind those sunglasses but that’s the way he likes it.

“I have to know the person first, I won’t talk to a stranger, no way,” Philip says. . . 

Southland farmers face winter grazing charges – Rachael Kelly:

Three charges have been laid against Southland farming companies for breaches of winter grazing rules last year.

Environment Southland compliance manager Simon Mapp said the charges related to incidents on two sites.

“The charges are for discharges where they may reach water,” Mapp said.

The first court appearance was scheduled for this week but that was subject to change, he said. . . 

High standards pay off – Charlie Williamson:

While his friends dreamed of glamorous sporting careers Mihaka Beckham dreamed of working the land and being a dairy farmer. Charlie Williamson reports.

While his primary school friends were talking about how they would be the up and coming All Blacks stars when they grew up young Mihaka Beckham was saying he would one day be a dairy farmer. 

And with the help of a few mentors and his ability to seize any opportunity he could find along the way Mihaka, now 23, is living his childhood dream. 

Mihaka works as herd manager on a Taupo dairy farm milking 440 Jersey-Friesian cows on 170ha effective for Bryan and Tesha Gibson. . . 

Farmers call for ORC rates details -Brent Melville:

Federated Farmers says back-to-back annual rates increases from the Otago Regional Council should come with a more detailed plan of what benefits would come from farmers’ money.

The ORC yesterday announced it would push rates up by 9.1% as part of overall spending of $75.5million, including expenditure on reworking water plans, increasing consent processing staff and capacity for environmental incident response.

Federated Farmers South Island regional policy manager Kim Reilly said the second consecutive year of rates rises had come without firm detail as to how the rate adjustments might be packaged. . . 

Epidemiologist embracing ‘M.bovis’ battle :

Mark Neill says he likes a challenge, and admits he’s got one on his hands.

Mr Neill, a veterinarian, is the lead epidemiologist in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme. He was one of the speakers at the Ministry for Primary Industries’ public update meeting in Oamaru last week.

Since September, Mr Neill has been seconded by the ministry from Ospri’s TBfree programme, where he has worked since 2002. . . 

Welsh woman declares vindication after ‘guerrilla rewilding’ court case

Sioned Jones used to adore the landscape and wildlife of her adopted home in Bantry, a bucolic region in west Cork on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. She planted vegetables and herbs, foraged for nuts and berries and observed birds, insects, frogs and lizards.

Then, on land above her house, the state-owned forestry company Coillte planted a forest of Sitka spruce, a non-native species that Jones considered a dark, dank threat to biodiversity.

The Welsh grandmother got a chainsaw and started cutting – and cutting. A few trees at first, then dozens, then hundreds. In their place she planted native broadleaf trees – birch, hazel, oak, alder, crab apple and rowan – a guerrilla rewilding campaign that lasted more than 20 years. . . 


Rural round-up

February 3, 2020

Worst time for virus – Neal Wallace:

Coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for meat processors, analysts say.

With no one dining out, Chinese cold storage facilities are flooded with product, AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said.

“From a New Zealand perspective the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“Large-scale buying for the Chinese New Year festivities meant processors’ inventories were well-stocked going into the outbreak. 

“A large portion of the Chinese workforce remains on leave too, further slowing down the movement of product.” . . 

Fighter for free trade will be sorely missed – Federated Farmers

Many farmers will remember Mike Moore as a man who rolled up his sleeves to fight for global trade liberalisation and making things better for New Zealanders in general.

“He was brimming with talent and positivity and wasn’t afraid to stick his neck out,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said. “Who can forget his tireless efforts to promote the lamb burger? He took quite a bit of stick for that but was ahead of his time in terms of creating markets for our products.”

For his roles with the World Trade Organisation and as our ambassador to the United States he was away from the home shores he loved, but he continued to strive for the interests of Kiwis. . .

Farmers encouraged to open their gates to connect with urban New Zealand:

Greg and Rachel Hart are opening their Mangarara Station gates on Open Farms Day (Sunday 1 March), and inviting urban Kiwis to learn about their how they farm first-hand.

The Hart family are on a mission to connect New Zealanders with what they eat, how they live, and back to the farm where it all begins.

Greg Hart says, “When we learned about Open Farms Day, it was a no-brainer for us.”

“We love sharing Mangarara Station and offering the farm as a place where people can connect back to the land.” . . .

Walking a mile in her gumboots – Cheyenne Nicholson :

Matamata farmer Ella Wharmby feels more at home in the back paddocks than shopping in the high street. Farming was not her first choice but fate had different ideas. She tells Cheyenne Nicholson how she found her calling.

As the saying goes, you can’t fully understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And if you swapped the shoes for gumboots, Waikato farmer Ella Wharmby could tell you a thing or two about that.  

Looking at her now, it is hard to believe that she had barely stepped foot on a farm before embarking on a career that would see her combine her passion for food, animals and the outdoors. 

“Having not come from a farming background I now realise how far removed we’ve become from the food chain,” Ella says. . . 

Kiwigrowers to help pay for $18m Queensland fruit fly response:

Kiwifruit growers will fork out around a million dollars toward a year-long operation to eradicate the Queensland fruit fly.

An $18 million biosecurity response in Auckland finished on Friday, with New Zealand declared once again free of the pest.

The total cost will mostly be covered by the government, but industry groups will also have to chip in. . . 

Rothesay Deer operation grew to take over entire farm – Toni Williams:

Rothesay Deer owner Donald Greig has been building up the genetics of his English and composite deer operation for more than three decades.

The farm, near Methven, is spread over three sites but the home block has been in the family for two generations.

The land the stag block is on is an extension of the original farm secured by his father, Tom Greig, following World War 2.

That land was part of a rehabilitation block for ex-servicemen to use for farming after the war. . .

 

Site builds under way at Southern Field Days near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

As trucks roll into the Southern Field Days site at Waimumu to start setting up the South Island’s largest agricultural trade fair, the event secretary has a lot on her plate.

There’s phone calls from exhibitors, a third reprint of 4000 day passes to organise, and a gale warning from the Metservice which may have slowed down progress on putting marquees up.

It’s still two weeks until the crowds begin to flock to Field Days, but the site was a hive of activity already. . . 


Rural round-up

October 4, 2019

Sheepmeat and beef exports in 2019-20 both forecast to break $4 billion for the first time:

China’s demand for New Zealand’s beef, lamb and mutton is forecast to propel both sheepmeat and beef exports past the $4 billion mark for the first time.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) New Season Outlook 2019-20 report forecasts beef, lamb and mutton prices to lift from historically high levels, helped by continuing strong export demand and an expected weakening of the New Zealand dollar.

“We have forecast increases in farm-gate prices for beef, lamb and mutton in 2019-20, because small increases in in-market prices are expected to be further assisted by an easing of the New Zealand dollar,” says B+LNZ Chief Economist Andrew Burtt. . . 

Agriculture Minister O’Connor under fire at Gore meeting – Rachael Kelly:

The Minister of Agriculture refused to accept that the Government is affecting farmers’ balance sheets.

O’Connor fronted up to a Ministry for the Environment freshwater consultation meeting in Gore attended by about 400 farmers on Thursday.

He told farmers to “get over it” when he was questioned about farmers’ equity.

While he told the crowd the one thing the Government needed to front up to was how banks were treating farmers at the moment, it wasn’t long before a heckler said it was O’Connor’s Government that was driving the equity out of farmer’s balance sheets. . .

Farmers urged to have say on water – Yvonne O’Hara:

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young can see why some farmers could become disheartened and consider giving up their farms if they continue to get hammered by new regulatory requirements and increasing compliance costs.

He has done the maths on the impact the Government’s proposed Essential Freshwater rules would likely have on his ability to earn a living from his 5400ha hill country sheep and beef Cattle Flat Station, near Balfour.

It runs about 15,000 stock units including 8000 breeding ewes and 550 cows, on mainly hill country. . . 

Celebrity chef Al Brown says city slickers are the ones ruining the environment – Teresa Ramsey:

City slickers need to clean up their own backyard before criticising farmers, top New Zealand chef Al Brown says.

Brown, who owns restaurants in Auckland and Wellington, slammed “urban keyboard warriors” in a Facebook post aimed at defending farmers.

During a weekend in rural Raglan, Brown said he was impressed by the “extraordinary beauty of the NZ countryside”.

“Farm after farm in beautiful condition…..we witnessed many new plantings of native trees, fenced off waterways and blocks of old established bush breaking up the pastural land and providing ample shade for the stock,” he said in the Facebook post. . . 

The Trans-Tasman honey wars :

Small jars of New Zealand Mānuka honey are about to go on sale in the UK for nearly $3000 each.

The ‘super’ honey is collected by helicopter from remote parts of the North Island where there are heavy concentrations of Mānuka trees.

The high price is driven by a limited supply. A thousand jars only will be available exclusively from Harrods. While most of New Zealand’s Mānuka honey does not command such an extravagant price there is strong and growing demand internationally. . . 

Nelson man takes Young Grower of the Year – Angie Skerrett:

A Nelson man with a strong family connection to horticulture in the region has been named as New Zealand Young Grower of the Year 2019.

Jono Sutton was announced as the winner at an awards dinner in Tauranga on Wednesday night.

As the regional Nelson finalist he was up against six other contestants from around New Zealand.

The finalists were tested on a range of practical tasks and theory during the week, culminating in the awards presentation. . . 

 

Sour milk: how are US dairy farmers coping? – Lindsay Campbell:

US farming has seen better days.

Matt Moreland has taken what little hope he had left in dairy farming and put it behind him.

Moreland, who comes from three generations of dairy farmers, thought that after graduating from college he would follow that path as well.

But with the decline of milk prices and uncertainty of the industry’s future, he says it didn’t take long for him to come up with other ways to pay the bills. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 21, 2019

New water policies will hobble farmers – Simon Davies:

Farmers are being hamstrung by well-meaning but poorly targeted regulation, writes Simon Davies of Otago Federated Farmers.

Today, while crutching my breeding rams, I was considering the latest policy package from central government.

To be fair there was not a lot of constructive thought undertaken, as this task is a fairly intense activity as those of you who have done it know. For those of you who have not, crutching rams (removing the wool around the tail and between the legs for hygiene purposes) is a bit like wrestling 80 to 100kg sacks of potatoes that fight back.

As I was struggling with a sore back, the term hamstrung came to mind. . .

How did farmers become public enemy number one? – Rachael Kelly:

Last November, Southland dairy farmer Jason Herrick contemplated taking his own life.

A wet spring had turned his farm to mud, his family was “going through some stuff” and anti-farming messages on social media all affected his self-worth.

They’re our number one export producers, an industry that was once seen as the proud back-bone of the nation.

But farmers are almost becoming ashamed of what they do because they’re being attacked from all fronts, Herrick says. . . .

No quick change to farm systems – Pam Tipa::

People don’t appreciate how difficult it is to change farm systems quickly, says Pāmu chief executive Steven Carden.

“They are difficult biological systems and people who are not in farming expect you to be able to switch on the new system overnight,” he told Dairy News.

“It takes a long time to get those changes right, to embed the new technologies in farm systems to make them work effectively. Farmers fundamentally are small business people who can’t risk their entire business with a big shift in how they operate one year to the next. . .

They like you – Luke Chivers:

Public perceptions of farming are more positive than farmers think, a survey shows.

“The strong theme we have heard from farmers in the past is that they do not feel well-liked by their urban counterparts. However, when you poll the general population, this is simply not true,” UMR research executive director Marc Elliot says.

UMR surveyed more than 1000 people last month and found the response at odds with the view held by many in primary industries. 

New Zealanders are almost five times as likely to hold a positive view of sheep and beef farming than a negative one, the research showed. . .

Tractor protest on Saturday – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland farmers have been asked to join a tractor protest over the costs and effects of Government regulations.

Protest organiser and dairy farmer Mark Dawson said the event will be on the southern side of Ruawai township in the Kaipara District between 11am and 1pm on Saturday.

It will be a symbolic protest aimed at what he believes will be the horrendous effects on farming of the proposed freshwater legislation.

Northland MP Matt King, National, has promised support along with Kaipara mayor and beef farmer Jason Smith. . .

ORC candidates quizzed on future of farming :

How do candidates standing for the Otago Regional Council see the future of farming in Otago? That question and others has been posed to all candidates by Southern Rural Life ahead of next month’s local body election. It is shaping up to be an interesting election, with 28 people vying for 12 positions.

All candidates were asked by Southern Rural Life to respond to the following questions and their responses are below (responses were not received from Matt Kraemer, Andrew Noone, Gail May-Sherman and Gordon Dickson)

Question 1
Why are you standing for council?

Question 2
How do you see the future of farming in Otago?

Question 3
Good management practice and improvements to some farming activities will be needed if Otago’s water aspirations are to be achieved. What approach to regulation and rules do you support and where do you think partnerships,  incentives and industry support might fit in (if at all)?

Question 4
Do you think there should be discretion for regional councils to determine local solutions for local issues or should a centralized response always apply instead? . . .

c


Rural round-up

September 10, 2019

2050 deadline to improve freshwater in New Zealand – Rachael Kelly and Gerard Hutching:

A lobby group says some Southland farmers may abandon their land because of new water rules but the agriculture ministers says it’s a ridiculous statement to make.

Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker released a draft National Policy Statement and National Environment Standards: Freshwater, on Thursday.

They propose changes to farming practices and new rules for councils, aiming to stop the degradation of waterways and clean up rivers and lakes within a generation.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young says some of the rules nitrogen may be able to be met but the numbers around freshwater may just be a step too far and there is going to be a significant financial cost. . . 

Water policy is doomed to fail – Aan Emmerson:

I can’t see anyone in the provincial sector being remotely surprised at the draconian nature of Environment Minister David Parker’s policy announcement on water quality.

For a start, Parker told us in June there would be tighter regulation of the agricultural sector.

He also made the earth-shattering statement he would regulate what, in his view, were some of the riskier farming practices.

Last Thursday’s statement came in three parts, a diagram, a bland summary then the actual document, all 105 pages of it.

Climate change Bill concerns for SFF – Brent Melville:

Silver Fern Farms, the nation’s largest procurer and exporter of red meat, has tabled “significant concerns” related to the economic impacts of the Government’s proposed climate change response Bill.

In its submission to the environment select committee this morning, the company said while it supported the Bill’s ultimate temperature increase goals, it had concerns specific to methane reduction targets, the inability of farmers to offset the warming effects of biogenic methane and processor obligations for farm emissions.

Silver Fern Farms head of communications and sustainability Justin Courtney said the submission had largely been informed by discussion with more than 750 of the company’s 15,500 farmer suppliers across New Zealand. The zero carbon proposals as tabled were “top of the list of farmers’ concerns”, he said. . . 

The unpopular tree sucking carbon from our air – Eloise Gibson:

Pinus Radiata grows like a weed, which is why it’s so fast at sequestering carbon. But since many people prefer native trees, forestry scientists are proposing an unconventional solution to get the best of both worlds.

To measure how much carbon is in a tree, you first have to kill it.

You slice up the trunk, branches, twigs, leaves and roots and dry the dismembered tree parts in an oven. Then you weigh them.

“It takes a long time,” says Euan Mason, a professor at the University of Canterbury’s School of Forestry. “I did some in 2012 with two students, and in six weeks I think we did 25 trees.” . . 

New campaign promotes wool’s benefits – Brent Melville:

Recent experiments in Japan measured the efficiencies of using wool carpet versus a synthetic option in two identical houses.

The wool option resulted in electricity savings of between 8% to 13%, with additional savings of up to 12% for cooling under the same conditions.

It is one of the fast facts contained in an informative and highly stylised campaign, designed to educate international frontline carpet and other retailers on the benefits of strong wool.

The “back to basics” approach is the brain child of wool sales and marketing company Wools of New Zealand (WNZ), in the belief that frontline retailers are neglecting the natural benefits of the fibre in the rush to sell synthetic product.

The heart of the programme is a 12-part “wool benefits” marketing campaign, which the company says has resonated strongly with local and international customers alike. . . 

NSA celebrates ban on false advertising about wool:

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is pleased to see the response by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) banning some misleading advertising from PETA propagating the lie that wool is cruelly obtained from sheep.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: ‘NSA is pleased to hear this decision by ASA that exposes PETA’s advertising for what it is, grossly inaccurate jargon which is misleading the public as well as damaging farmers reputations and livelihoods. The simple undeniable fact is that removing wool from sheep is necessary for their health and welfare. It does not harm them, and it does not exploit them. Wool is a by-product of their existence.”

Following reports of cruelty during shearing last year (2018), NSA joined with several other industry bodies to create a clear set of guidelines for farmers and shearing contractors to follow to ensure they shear to the highest standard possible. . . 


Rural round-up

July 3, 2019

Snowstorm inspires stock-saver – Tim Fulton:

A shattering snowstorm changed David Brown’s life and inspired a life-saving product.

The founder of the Woolover started out as a sheep and cropping farmer at Clandeboye in South Canterbury, near the Fonterra milk factory. 

Running 3500 ewes he had lost his fair share of new-born lambs over a couple of decades, especially in three-day southerly storms. . . 

Iwi milk plant delivers value – Richard Rennie:

The skyline of the small Bay of Plenty town Kawerau has been dominated for the past 40 years by the big Tasman paper mill but now has another profile in the form of the new Waiu Dairy plant.

The joint iwi-Cedenco plant has been commissioned and its first commercial milk collection this week will be processed through the 900kg-an-hour drier.

Waiu chairman Richard Jones said the plant is the result of a bar-side conversation in 2012 with iwi business representatives when they were kicking around options for revitalising eastern Bay of Plenty. . . 

 

One Plan changes should bring relief to nearly 180 unconsented farmers – Jono Galuszka:

Nearly 180 farms in the wider Manawatū are operating without a consent and cannot get one without changes to contentious planning rules.

But even if the changes are made, the region’s economy is expected to lose tens of millions of dollars.

Horizons Regional Council is putting proposed changes to its One Plan out for consultation, with people having 60 days from July 22 to make a submission. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk expanding plant near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

Infant nutrition formula producer Mataura Valley Milk has begun work on a $5m expansion to its plant at McNab near Gore, less than a year since it began operations.

General manager Bernard May said the company had secured a 37 per cent increase in milk supply for the coming season and needed to expand the plant.

New silos would be constructed and a new tanker bay were included in the expansion, and there was the possibility of more jobs being created. . . 

Application to import wilding conifer herbicide :

Views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Your views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd has applied for approval to import the herbicide. . .

Agri-tech sector to pioneer govt industry transformation strategy Pattrick Smellie

(BusinessDesk) – Agricultural technology should be one of New Zealand’s leading sources of high-value jobs, exports and improved farming practice, but has failed to grow much in the last decade, prompting the government to make it the focus of the first of four new industry sector transformation plans.

In what was probably his last public act as Economic Development Minister before handing the portfolio to Phil Twyford after last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, Parker released both a general guide to the industry transformation plan concept and a draft ITP for the agri-tech sector this morning.

The other sectors targeted for such plans are food and beverages, digital technology, and forestry and wood processing.

Speeding breeding and other ways of feeding 10 billion people

Improvements to make crops more nutritious, disease resistant and climate smart are essential to feed a burgeoning world population.

While a host of fascinating innovations are primed to change the face of agriculture, there remains a stubborn limiting factor for plant breeding.

This is the long generation times of crops that allow only one or two generations per year. Unless this changes it is unlikely that we will be able to feed the 10 billion people who will be sharing the planet by 2050.

This roadblock to progress has been alleviated by speed breeding protocols developed by research teams at the John Innes Centre and the University of Queensland. . .


Rural round-up

January 6, 2019

Niche winegrowers put valley on the map – Hamish Maclean:

New signs welcome drivers on State Highway 83 to wine country. Waitaki Valley North Otago, New Zealand’s newest, smallest wine region, is home to boutique vineyards that many — even in Otago — do not know about.

But just as the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand approved the Waitaki Valley Winegrowers Association’s application for a geographical indication — used internationally to promote and protect the reputations of wines’ places of origin — a third cellar door opened in the valley in December. 

And the owners of River-T Estate Wines are committed to telling the region’s story. With 11,000 vines — pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, pinot gris and a “just planted” gewurztraminer — producing 1500 cases, fourth-generation horticulturist Murray Turner and his partner Karen Tweed know River-T Estate Wines and the wines the valley produces are considered “niche”. . .

A threat to hort exports – Peter Burke:

While horticultural exports rise in value, there are concerns that this growth is being impeded by a mix of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

The state of the sector and the changes occurring there are reviewed in detail in the two-yearly report of the Horticultural Export Authority (HEA).

Chief executive Simon Hegarty says the industry has maintained momentum despite two challenging years in international trade and at home, notably because of the weather. . .

Review of access satute welcomed – Guy Williams:

A mandatory review this year of the statute underpinning the Walking Access Commission is timely, Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) president Peter Wilson says.

Mr Wilson said the commission had done a good job in the past decade but there was plenty of scope for improving its legislative framework. That included a register of “past or potential access issues” that would place an obligation on government agencies to better consider opportunities for improving public access to the outdoors.

The commission’s role includes resolving disputes over public access to the outdoors, negotiating new access and providing the public with information and maps.

The Walking Access Act was passed into law a decade ago with a clause requiring it be reviewed in 10 years. . .

Survival of the honesty stall – Alice Angeloni:

For decades they were a common sight on many Kiwi highways, but honesty boxes have been targeted by the not so honourable.

The roadside stalls, which rely on passing customers to pay the correct amount, advertise a range of goods – from fresh lemons and blueberries to walnuts and lilies.

And while small thefts are commonplace, one grower-family was targeted with a spate of $100 per day thefts. . .

Farmer padlocks gate to swimming hole after nappies found on riverbank – Rachael Kelly:

A northern Southland farmer has padlocked a gate leading to a popular swimming hole after finding soiled nappies on the riverbank.

Waikaia farmer Ray Dickson took the action to cut access to a spot known locally as Roly’s Rock, at the edge of the popular holiday town, after finding nappies in grass on the riverbank on December 29.

“It really p….. me off. . . 

No-deal Brexit will be nightmare for farmers, warns Michael Gove

Farmers will face a grim barrage of export tariffs, increased haulage costs, paperwork and looming labour shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Michael Gove warned yesterday.

He painted a nightmare scenario for Britain’s food producers as he urged fellow MPs to back the prime minister’s Brexit deal
.

“It’s a grim but inescapable fact that in the event of a no-deal Brexit the effective tariffs of meat and sheep meat would be above 40 per cent. In some cases well above that,” Mr Gove told the Oxford Farming Conference
. . .


Rural round-up

October 8, 2018

Passion for industry that has a strong future – Sally Rae:

Katrina Bishop was exposed to the fine wool industry from a young age.

She grew up at Mt Otekaike Station in the Waitaki Valley where her father Geoff had a merino stud and a passion for fine wool.

That love of wool was passed on to her — “it’s in my veins, I had no choice” she laughed — and eventually led to a career in wool-classing.

More recently, she moved to a newly-created position with the New Zealand Merino Company as a wool preparation consultant. . . 

Award for “ODT” journalist:

Otago Daily Times agribusiness reporter Sally Rae has won the Alliance Group Ltd red meat industry journalism award.

The award recognised the ability to communicate the complexities of the red meat industry.

Ms Rae’s entries included a profile on former Central Otago man Mark Mitchell, who has spent the past 30 years working in the meat industry in the United States, particularly as a pioneer for New Zealand venison, and a feature on the Antipocurean Series which covered a visit to Minaret Station with a group of international chefs and food media. . . 

Adverse events scheme set to go – Neal Wallace:

The Government is planning to repeal the Adverse Events Scheme that smooths tax liability following an extreme event but say the process will be retained in other legislation.

The Adverse Events Scheme lets farmers and rural businesses smooth extreme income earned through an adverse event such as drought, flood or a Mycoplasma bovis cull and later spending for restocking.

Inland Revenue has proposed retaining the scheme by amending an existing law and including improved aspects of the scheme.

An IRD spokesman said a review of the scheme’s provisions found it is inflexible when compared to corresponding schemes. . . 

No surprises in government’s fresh water management strategy:

The government’s announcement this morning of its determination to encourage the entire community, not just farmers, to continue to clean up waterways came as no surprise to Federated Farmers.

The report outlined the government’s intention to keep the pressure on all Kiwis to continue to work towards better fresh water systems, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“All we ask is that the government uses an even hand. For example, the commitment to getting tougher on nutrient discharges to waterways needs to be applied fairly to both councils, corporates and farmers. 

Fast Five: The outdoor life :

Joe Lines grew up in the small seaside community of Tangimoana in Manawatu.

He describes himself as townie who spent most of his youth at the beach.

He left school and went farming because the money was good and he enjoyed working outdoors and with the stock.

He has been dairying for seven years and has worked his way up the progression ladder and is in his fourth season as a 2IC.   . . 

Stratford’s shearing season off to super start – Rachael Kelly:

It’s two from two for top shearer Nathan Stratford.

Fresh from a win at the New Zealand Merino Shears at Alexandra, he won the open competition at the Waimate Spring Shears on Saturday.

It’s only the beginning of the shearing  season but New Zealand representative Stratford said the competition was “top level,” with plenty of shearers from the North Island on the boards.

“There were four North Islanders and two South Islanders in the final.

Farmers lead community to fight local river pollution –  A New Zealand community stands up for clean water:

In New Zealand, the recently completed Pathway for the Pomahaka project showcased an innovative approach to sustainable development. Farmers took responsibility for improving local water quality in partnership with their community.

On its face, the area around the Pomahaka River in South Otago, on New Zealand’s South Island, is typical of the sort of unspoiled landscapes the country is famous for. Local water quality, however, has become a cause for concern. Levels of phosphates, nitrogen and E. coli were getting too high, with sediment entering the river and increasing pollution. The intensification of agriculture in the region, a shift toward dairy farming, and heavy soils coupled with a wet local climate all compounded the problem.

Without action, water quality would have continued to deteriorate. The Pomahaka might have eventually become unsuitable for recreational purposes like fishing, swimming and boating. . . 


Rural round-up

July 2, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis: battle fatigue is growing but Government claims to be resolute – Keith Woodford:

Last week I was in Wellington speaking to Federated Farmers Dairy Council.    It gave me an opportunity to assess persistent rumours that Government and MPI were losing confidence in relation to the Mycoplasma eradication battle.

I heard both Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor say that they were resolute in their determination to eradicate the disease. Whether or not public positions and private concerns coincide could be another matter.

Everything I heard reinforced my concern that there is a gulf between the information MPI is providing Government and the realities of the situation. . . 

IHC calf scheme could be culled due to M bovis – Rachael Kelly:

A fundraising scheme that raises more than $1m a year for the IHC could become a victim of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

Since 1984 about 4,000 farmers nationwide have donated cull cows, steers, bulls, heifers, calfs, bale of wools, lambs, sheep, goats, and deer  to the charity.

The stock is then sold and the proceeds are donated to IHC.

But farmers raised concerns about the scheme at a meeting in Gore last week, which was hosted by MPI, Beef & Lamb NZ and Dairy NZ, saying the IHC’s stock sales could transmit M. bovis between stock, therefore transferring it between farms. . .

Loss of wool training organisation keenly felt – Sally Rae:

The demise of Te Ako Wools is a “significant blow” for the wool industry, Federated Farmers says.

The organisation, which was launched in Alexandra in mid-2016, was owned by the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association. It worked with Primary ITO to provide industry training, including shearing and woolhandling.

Training, attracting and retaining people in the industry had continued to be a challenge, Federated Farmers meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson and policy adviser Sarah Crofoot said in their report to the organisation’s national conference in Wellington last week. Finding staff had become increasingly difficult and the situation was expected to  continue over the next five years, making training “all the more important”. .  .

Big cheeses from UK and US cleared to buy farms in NZ – Martin van Beynen:

Two titans of niche agricultural markets in America and England are investing in New Zealand after getting approval from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO). 

American millionaires Margaret and Gary Hirshberg, who are from New Hampshire and in their early 60s, have been cleared to buy 69ha in Ngatimoti, near Motueka, to set up an organic sheep farm and an organic market garden. They also intend to do extensive native planting. 

The sellers, Andrew Guy and Rowan and Sharon Kearns, got $4m for the property. . . 

No monsters – science backs the safety of GMO foods:

Remember all the warnings about genetically modified organisms? They’re bad for us; they harm the environment; there is too little oversight; they fail to increase yields; and they will do little to help feed the world.

GMOs are plants and animals whose DNA has been modified by genetic engineering. The process has allowed researchers to develop corn that can survive drought, soybeans that stand up to weed killer, virus-free papayas, and potatoes that don’t bruise — in short, countless varieties of crops that yield more and cost less to grow. That’s good news for farmers and for our food supply. . . .

Lightening strike kills a dozen cows sparks strange Facebook posts – Wyatt Bechtel:

A lightning strike on a ranch in Oklahoma was not only a tragedy for the owners, but it also turned into a reminder of the lack of knowledge most people have about livestock production.

Jason Donathan, a cattle rancher from Henryetta, OK shared a photo with KOTV Channel 6 in Tulsa showing approximately 12 dead cattle under a tree. The group of primarily cows was killed by a lightning strike.

KOTV meteorologist Lacey Swope shared the picture on her Facebook page on June 24. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 31, 2018

Southern farmers feel the heat as crops fail – Simon Hartley:

Rural Otago and Southland continues to bear the brunt of the heatwave and farmers are facing hard decisions on destocking and replanting failed winter feed crops.

A smattering of rain across the North Island and upper South Island was allowing farmers there to consider holding on to stock for further fattening.

But in Otago and Southland meat processors are working to capacity as stock is sold off, according to Federated Farmers Otago province president Phill Hunt of Wanaka.

“The pasture has taken a hiding, dying in places. That will have to be replaced over the next two years, at a significant cost,” he said when contacted yesterday. . .

Southern drought meeting requested with minister – Rachael Kelly:

Southland and Otago Rural Advisory groups have written to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting him to declare a drought for both provinces.

Sweltering temperatures and little rainfall have put pressure on farmers as dry conditions have reached levels not usually seen in January.

Both Southland and Otago have formed drought committees with rural stakeholders including Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, Fonterra, regional councils and MPI, and they are asking the Minister to declare a medium-scale adverse event classification.

Regions get drought  classification  – Sally Rae:

Drought in Southland and parts of Otago has been classified as a medium-scale adverse event following a request from drought committees and rural communities.

Yesterday, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced the classification – already in place in parts of the North Island and the Grey and Buller districts – had been extended to all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts.

That triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . .

Two more farms found with Mycoplasma bovis in the South Island:

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on on two more farms, lifting the total number of infected properties from 18 to 20, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

One of the new farms is in the Waimate district and the other is in Gore, Southland.

M bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

There are 11 infected properties in South Canterbury (Waitaki and Waimate Districts), six in Southland, two in Mid-Canterbury and one in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

A straight talking farmer with an appetite for risk – John King:

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it,” said late comedian Jonathan Winters.

North Cantabrian James Costello has a similar attitude farming sheep on 300ha of alluvial flats at Hawarden next to the Hurunui River.

His business remained profitable during three years of drought while many in his district did not.

James has a reputation for being an innovator and is active in the Hurunui/Waiau Water Zone committee and Landcare group. He knows you cannot be passive when faced with overwhelming odds. . .

The future of farming – Grant Leigh:

Younger generations are growing up surrounded by technology and the advancement of these technologies is ferocious.

Along with being frightening and daunting to most of us, it is also exciting, challenging and now more than ever necessary.

The biggest hurdle will not be the appetite for young farmers and supporting industries to do the job, it will be capital and viability. . . 

Federated Farmers’ Katie Milne opens up about the changing times – Michelle Hewitson:

After breaking a 118-year history of male leadership of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne wants to convince townies that rural folk are the same at heart.

When you take the head of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne, out for lunch, it’s redundant to ask if we’re going to eat meat.

“Ha! Yeah. You know what I saw on there,” she says, gesturing at the menu, “and wanted to have a go at and share? That crackling.” Have a go at! She’s a West Coast sheila through and through. I ordered the crackling. She had the beef and bacon burger and chips; I had black pudding and spuds. We were having a health lunch. “We are. We are,” she says. “It’s Friday. It’s a mental health day when you’re eating great stuff like this, isn’t it?” We cracked into the crackling. . . 

Soil health comes first then grass and livestock – Burke Teichert :

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy. . . 

 


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