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? . . .

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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. . .

 


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