Rural round-up

11/04/2022

Feed shortage a concern for dry south – Neal Wallace:

Dry conditions continue to grip farms in Southland and Otago, worsening already stretched feed supplies compounded by delays in getting stock processed.

Between 8mm and 30mm of rain fell over Southland and southern Otago this week, but temperatures have also fallen.

Weather forecasters are offering little prospect of significant regular rainfall for the remainder of April, although there another southerly next week could deliver a further 20-40mm.

“It’s still below average but much better than we have had in the last few months,” WeatherWatch chief forecaster Philip Duncan said. . . 

Global dairy prices weaken as China reduces its demand – Point of Order:

The ANZ world commodity price index hit a new record in March, lifting  3.9%.  Prices are very strong across most commodities, although none of the sub-indices are currently at record levels.

In local currency terms, the index gained just 0.5%, as local returns were eroded by a 3.1% gain in the trade weighted index (TWI).

While farmers were  digesting this  news, the latest global dairy auction  recorded a dip in prices as  demand weakened from Chinese  buyers.  The GDT  price index slid 1% to 1564 at the  auction following a 0.9% fall at the previous bimonthly auction.

Dairy prices have risen steeply at auction this year, pushing the index to record levels, as tight supply underpins demand. . .

Kiwifruit picker reveals secret to earning $60 per hour – Annemarie Quill:

Is it really possible to earn $60 an hour picking fruit? “Absolutely,” says Maketū’s Trish Townsend, who has been a kiwifruit picker in the Bay of Plenty for four years.

“I did $60 per hour yesterday, and I am looking forward to $90 an hour at Easter when we’ll be on time-and-a-half. As long as the weather stays fine, I will be going hard.”

Last month Stuff revealed that high pay rates of up to $60 per hour, and incentives such as cash bonuses, prizes and free transport, accommodation and food, are being offered to lure pickers to the kiwifruit industry, which is experiencing its “toughest-ever season” due to the impact of Covid-19.

The industry usually requires 24,000 people to pick and pack over a typical harvest, but is drastically short this season due to a lack of international workers, such as backpackers or seasonal workers from overseas. . . 

Cannabis farm gets 32m grant new generation coming into agriculture – Tessa Guest:

The government has given a cash injection to the country’s largest medicinal cannabis grower, saying it could become as successful as the wine industry.

Puro, a specialist cannabis grower near Kēkerengū, between Blenheim and Kaikōura, was given a $32 million grant today.

The $13m is coming from taxpayer money, and the remaining $19m is from private investors.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the “weird and wacky” grant would kickstart the organic medicinal cannabis industry in New Zealand. . .

Mountain bike trails put new spin on Whanganui farm – Country Life:

Sheep bleating and shearing machines whirring are sounds of the past at the Oskams’ old woolshed.

Nowadays you are more likely to hear the buzz of bike chains, the hiss of tyre pumps and the whooping of mountain bikers stopping for a break after whizzing around the trails above.

Bikes hang in the sheep pens, the sheep dip has been turned into hot showers and the wool sorting table is used for preparing feasts when there’s a big crowd.

Tom Oskam spent his boyhood here on the land which is snuggled into a bend in the Whanganui River. It used to be part of a much bigger farm used for sheep, beef and forestry.   . . 

New Ravensdown chair to focus on pathways to progress :

Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer Bruce Wills has been elected the new Chair of Ravensdown as current Chair John Henderson concludes his term on 31 May 2022.

The former Federated Farmers national president is excited about the recently evolved strategy of the co-operative which is sharpening its focus on improving farmers’ and growers’ environmental and productive performance.

Bruce was voted in as a Ravensdown director in 2015, working closely with John Henderson who has been a director since 2004 and Chair since 2014.

“It’s been an eventful seven years on a Ravensdown board that, alongside the staff and management, have worked tirelessly towards a vision of smarter farming for a better New Zealand,” said Bruce. “I am passionate about Ravensdown’s role as the nutrient leaders in the areas of science, supply and solutions for an agsector striving for more sustainable ways forward.” . .

 


Rural round-up

09/03/2022

Oil and wheat price surges likely to hit consumers – Andrew Patterson:

Business and investing: Further sanctions on Russia remain a possibility and if bans on Russian oil are enacted, international crude prices could skyrocket to US$150 per barrel.

Brent Crude oil futures surged to a new 10-year high of US$118 a barrel, a jump of 20 percent for the week, as investors endured another rollercoaster week of markets lurching wildly in response to the news from Ukraine after Russia’s military intensification.

After Russia’s latest offensive and the potential for a prolonged conflict, analysts aren’t ruling out the possibility oil could reach upwards of US$150 a barrel in the coming weeks.

To date, the United States and the European Union have been reluctant to slap sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas exports following concerns about the repercussions such a move would have on Europe’s energy supply and already skyrocketing oil and gasoline prices. However, potential sanctions remain a possibility and if bans on Russian oil are enacted, international crude prices could skyrocket to US$150 per barrel according to analysts. . .

Honey company joins efforts to cull wasps :

Honey company Comvita has joined efforts to cull the numbers of wasps across the country.

Introduced German and common wasps are a damaging pest, invading beehives and eating insects – reducing the amount of food for native birds.

A Department of Conservation programme, Wasp Wipeout, raises funds for bait stations used to control populations.

Comvita head of industry affairs Tony Wright said increasing numbers of wasps led the company to get involved. . .

RWNZ marks International Women’s Day:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is marking International Women’s Day by reminding the rural sector why the day is important.

“By measuring progress and highlighting the work still to be done, we can ensure that we keep moving forward in addressing inequities faced by girls and women around the world,” says RWNZ president Gill Naylor.

She says the primary industry has typically been seen as a man’s world where women remain hidden as an invisible partner or in a support role where they are perceived as providing less value.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, she says.

Reliance on demotic market continues for feijoa growers :

Feijoa season has got underway and high freight costs means orchardists are focused selling their produce to the domestic market.

The first of this season’s fruit is landing on many supermarket’s shelves this week after picking of early varities kicked off late last month.

Kaiponi Farms in Gisborne is New Zealand’s largest feijoa grower and packer and expected volumes similar to be similar to last season.

Sales lead Olivia Abernethy said the growing season had been fantastic, with lots of hot days but also plenty of rainfall leading to some great sized fruit. . . 

Farming awards build networks and appreciation for the sector:

Ravesndown spoke with shareholder and FMG Young Farmer of the Year competitor Reuben Connolly ahead of the Waikato BOP finals last weekend.

Reuben came 4th in Saturday’s competition but was eager to speak to the benefits of competing in farm awards and the things which keep his young family motivated to grow in the industry.

You can catch what he had to share below:

Building lasting relationships and the farming lifestyle are two of the big reasons Reuben Connolly wants to stay in the farming sector. .

Ukraine Ag Minister: dairy farmers will fight for their farms – Tom Venesky:

One week after Russia launched a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations estimates that more than one million people have fled the Eastern European country.

As the war continues to escalate after the Feb. 24 attack, one segment of the Ukrainian population has found that the decision to flee isn’t that easy.

Despite the dangers posed by constant shelling and destruction, the country’s dairy farmers have largely remained on their farms and the threat of a Russian attack isn’t enough to sway them to leave, according to Taras Vysotsky, deputy minister for development of economy, trade and agriculture of Ukraine.

“In most cases, they’re on the farms. Only a few have been abandoned so far,” Vysotsky said during a phone interview with Lancaster Farming. “They’re staying on their farms. They’re going to protect it. They will fight for their farms and their animals to the end.” . . 


Rural round up

15/11/2021

Towards a sustainable future – Jackie Harrigan:

Dayna Rowe is looking to the future and plans to work with her parents on their family farm to bring in new initiatives around sustainability and efficiency.

The 22-year-old winner of the Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year award won $6000 in prizes and three merit awards after coming runner-up in the same category in 2020. Growing up on the family farm in Pongakawa, Dayna spent a lot of time learning about farming and animals. She had begun studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre Studies when she realised she’d rather be stomping through paddocks than treading the boards.

“I am still involved in competitive dance, it gives me a chance for some female company after working with lads on the farm, but I don’t have as much time for practicing for shows.” . .

EcoPond demonstrating methane leadership on world stage :

As the COP Climate Change Summit concludes, a New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative has showcased new methane mitigating technology that the dairy sector can start using from today to reduce emissions.

Developed with Lincoln University, Ravensdown’s EcoPond system virtually eliminates the methane emitted from effluent ponds.

The breakthrough discovery was to target methane with an additive normally used in the treatment of drinking water. Ravensdown and Lincoln University collaborated in the science that underpins this new technology and Ravensdown will provide the system to dairy farmers wanting to reduce their methane emissions.

“The New Zealand dairy sector is already a world leader in its carbon emissions efficiency, but the country has set a 10% target of biogenic methane reduction by 2030,” said Mike Manning, General Manager Innovation and Strategy. “This new tool in the farmer’s toolbox has the benefit of robust science behind it and will assist farmers who want to start tracking towards that target now.” . .

Capital restructuring is one big issue for Fonterra farmers but they must respond to environmental challenges too – Point of Order:

Just  as  the  dairy  season  hits its  peak, Fonterra   farmer-shareholders   are  confronted with a  key decision on the  capital  structure  of the  big co-op. The board is  asking  them to  vote on the  proposal  at the annual meeting next month.

Consultation on the proposal with farmer-owners has been ongoing throughout the year, with some tweaks announced in September before a second round of discussions.  But Fonterra leaders have been clear they wouldn’t put the reform forward for voting if they believed the support wasn’t there

Farmers have  had  little  time to  enjoy  the  news  that  the  co-op  has  raised  its  forecast  payout  for  the current  season  to  a  record level.  Nor  is the  capital structure the  only  issue triggering  worry in the  cowshed.

The  government’s  focus  on climate  change, particularly methane  emissions, is  another matter weighing on the  industry, exacerbated by outfits like  Greenpeace shouting  the  odds  about “industrial  farming’’  and  “dirty dairying”. . . 

Key competitions of A&P Show go ahead without spectators

The Canterbury Anniversary Day public holiday is known as Show Day in the region – the day the country comes to town.

But for the second time since World War II, there was no A and P show on in Christchurch today.

The Agricultural Show grounds are normally a throng of people on Canterbury Anniversary Day, with about 60,000 people squeezing in to eat hot dogs, look at the best chickens in the district, and sit on a tractor they have no need for.

Today, the streets of the show grounds were empty, with the show cancelled due to Covid-19. . .

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2111/S00140/pest-eradication-could-bring-massive-climate-change-gains-predator-free-2050-limited.htm

‘Woolies Jeans’ raises $239,226 halfway through PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign:

Woolies Jeans, a startup company created by farmer Jovian Garcia-Cummins, has completed the first of a 2 month equity crowdfunding campaign via PledgeMe, generating $239,226 in new funds. The investors are not the typical private equity or angels, but rather 174 fans, who turned their enthusiasm into company shares.

Woolies are not your everyday jeans. They are designed to ‘keep you cool when you are hot and warm when it’s cold’ and utilize NZ Merino to do so. “They will be the most comfortable pair of jeans on the market – always made in NZ” says founder Jovian Garcia Cummins. The jeans are lined with a special type of merino so customers get a traditional jean exterior denim look, with a comfortable merino interior.

The crowd-funding campaign, which kicked off in early October, hit its minimum target of $50,000 within a few days. The average investment has been around $1,400 per person. New investors can still invest via PledgeMe.co.nz and clicking on the Woolies Jeans Campaign. . .

Stop climate-shaming farmers – Margaret Donnely:

The Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has called for the ‘climate shaming’ of farmers to stop.

I think we should stop climate shaming farmers quite frankly. We need to bring farmers with us, we’ll never be able to achieve the reductions that we need, or to clean up our rivers or to win the new markets for food in the future where people are going to be much more concerned about the sustainability of the food that they buy and how it was produced. We need to bring farmers with us.”

Speaking on RTE radio this morning, he admitted that there was an increase in agricultural emissions last year, but said there was actually a 4pc decrease the year before.

The day after Government published its Climate Action Plan, the Tanaiste said if we were getting a 2pc decreases every year “we’d actually be achieving our targets by 2030 when it comes to agriculture”. . . . 


Rural round-up

02/11/2021

Farmers want clarity over vaccine mandates – Gerhard Uys:

Farmers and farm advocacy groups say they are not receiving clear guidelines from the Government on how to navigate vaccine mandates and subsequent staff management for farm businesses.

Chris Lewis, national board member and Covid-19 spokesman for Federated Farmers, said Covid guidelines seemed to be a moving target.

“We have had no indication from [Government] what exact guidelines farm employers should follow. Farm businesses are no different to other businesses operating during uncertain times and need clarity. Are we allowed to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, what is safe and not safe, we don’t know,” Lewis said.

Lewis believed that businesses would begin to take the lead in determining requirements, with the Government playing catch up. Corporations like Fonterra have already begun setting some guidelines for milk suppliers to follow. . .

Farmer protest group keen to meet Jacinda Ardern for answers on new rules –  Rachael Kelly:

The leaders behind one of the biggest farmer protest group in New Zealand are seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and say they are sick of being ignored.

Groundswell NZ galvanised thousands of farmers in July and protests were held in 50 towns nationwide, but since then the Prime Minister has never directly responded to their concerns about some Government freshwater rules not being practical to implement.

Groundswell NZ founder Bryce McKenzie will be in Wellington next week, and it’ll be the second time the group has tried to get a meeting with Ardern.

“We’re hoping she’ll meet with us this time, because the people of New Zealand that turned out for our last protest have essentially been ignored,’’ McKenzie said. . .

 

A rule of thirds – Neal Wallace:

It was not their original intent, but Central Otago’s Lake Hawea Station is at the sharp end of what some termed contentious innovation. Neal Wallace meets manager David O’Sullivan.

DAVID O’Sullivan admits he needed an open mind as he oversaw the transformation of the Otago high country fine wool property, Lake Hawea Station.

The station manager says a combination of the skills of the staff, input from consultants and the branding and business backgrounds of owners Geoff and Justine Ross, founders of vodka company 42 Below, created a powerful team that is not wedded to a particular farming system.

That diverse thinking reflects the station’s shift to regenerative farming but also a different approach to managing carbon emissions and sequestration.. . 

Sustainability sells: strong wools’ half billion dollar export opportunity:

New Zealand’s strong wool sector is sitting on at least a half a billion dollar opportunity thanks to a wave of eco-consumerism, coupled with innovative Kiwi businesses pushing the limits of wool.

Since the 1980s the export price of strong wool has tanked from a high of around $10 a kilogram, to now just over two dollars. But as eco-consumerism rises and plastic products lose their popularity, a group of New Zealand businesses are ready to drive strong wool’s resurgence.

Strong Wool Action Group executive officer Andy Caughey says for the first time in forty years the market conditions are optimistic for strong wool, a courser fibre than the likes of fine merino, which is exceptionally resilient and versatile in its use for homewares. . .

Ravensdown renews sponsorship of NZDIA :

Entries to the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continue to be accepted online until December 1st as national sponsors continue to commit to the programme.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to confirm that Ravensdown have renewed their sponsorship for the next two years.

“Ravensdown bring a particular style to their sponsorship. They care deeply about farmers and this is obvious through the Relief Milking Fund and that they want to be involved with education and development of farmers’ businesses and careers,” says Robin. . .

DJAARA’s new land acquisition protects country and culture – Annabelle Cleeland:

Culturally significant Buckrabanyule, in North Central Victoria, has been purchased by Traditional Owners and conservationists, in a bid to be protected from further land degradation and development.

Located between Boort and Wedderburn, the land covers 452 hectares, and was recently purchased by conservation group, Bush Heritage, to be jointly managed with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA).

The land is infested with the invasive wheel cactus, a thorny pest plant that classified as a weed of national significance. Djarrak rangers have spent recent months working at the site to control the weed, using mechanical chemical and bio-control methods. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/10/2021

Carbon farming – what is the end goal? – Mike Firth:

Wairarapa farmer Mike Firth voices his concerns about the effects of carbon farming on sheep and beef land.

It’s a pretty sad day when you sit inside reading an article in a popular farming paper and it’s talking about carbon farming.

Who would have ever thought we could get paid for air?

I have never written about stuff like this before, but this is starting to piss me off. . . 

Leadership is needed as sheep and beef farming face fight – Anna Campbell:

In 1881, the first frozen shipment of red meat left New Zealand for the United Kingdom.

It’s hard to imagine the planning and risks involved in that shipment.

The Government’s New Zealand History website describes how the voyage was organised by William Davidson, who was the British-based manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company. The company sent Thomas Brydone to Britain to study refrigeration technology; he was then responsible for handling the ‘‘experiment’’ in New Zealand.

The passenger sailing ship Dunedin had a complete fit-out with a coal-powered Bell Coleman freezing plant. The first 5000 carcasses originated from the Totara Estate in Oamaru, where they were cooled and sent by rail to Port Chalmers, then frozen aboard Dunedin. When the shipment reached the tropics, the crew on board noticed the air wasn’t circulating properly, so Captain John Whitson crawled aboard to saw extra holes for air circulation, nearly freezing himself in the process. . . 

Forecast positive for farmers – Sally Rae:

Covid-19 uncertainty reinforces the need for stable and predictable domestic regulation, to avoid putting pressure on the red meat sector whose exports are critical to the economy, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief economist Andrew Burtt says.

B+LNZ’s new season outlook, released yesterday, showed the forecast for global sheepmeat and beef demand was positive for the 2021-22 season, supported by solid market fundamentals, strong demand and tight supply.

It forecast average farm profit before tax to lift 9%, reflecting a 4% lift in gross farm revenue and increasing sheep revenue, including a modest lift in wool prices.

However, the forecast for a stronger New Zealand dollar would offset some of the buoyancy and limit increases in farmgate prices. . . 

Feds gives thumbs up for cross-border and jab efforts :

Federated Farmers is giving a shout out to government agencies handling the movement of essential workers across alert level boundaries, and to those DHBs and medical centres reaching out to rural people over COVID vaccinations.

“With Auckland now at Alert level 3 and access to takeaways resumed, there are still essential workers having to cross alert level boundaries south and north of Auckland. Many of them work in or with the primary industries – farmers, vets, stock transporters and food processors to name a few,” Feds national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Quite rightly, essential workers are required to have proper documentation and it might all have been a big hassle.

“However, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with the Ministry for Primary Industries, have made the process seamless and sensible. Hats off to them,” Chris said. . . 

New elected director in the western North Island:

Taranaki farmer and former Ravensdown employee, Mike Davey is the co-operative’s newest shareholder-elected director, announced at yesterday’s 2021 annual meeting

Mike Davey has been elected as Director for Area 5, which stretches from New Plymouth to Wellington City and includes southern parts of Ruapehu and Taupō. Mike is a cropping farmer, elected member of the Taranaki Regional Council and has over 40 years’ experience in the fertiliser business.

Ravensdown Chair John Henderson says Mike’s knowledge of the co-operative will be an asset as the co-operative and its shareholders navigate an evolving regulatory environment. . . 

Let’s give thanks to the ‘grassetarians’ – Tom Marland:

It is World Meat-Free Week.

This is a concept thought up by a group of well-meaning, but misinformed, inner-city environmentalists in order to “save the planet”.

A few people skipping a steak this week won’t have a huge impact on our meat protein production industries.

But we must be aware of the growing trend among many Australians and overseas consumers who are going “meat free”. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

02/09/2021

How dairy farmers can look after their mental health during lockdown – Sam Owen:

Dairy farmers may be essential workers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “business as usual” when it comes to mental health during lockdown. Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen offers practical advice on how to look after family, friends, staff and yourself.

Murphy’s Law – after dodging a bit of a bullet in 2020, Covid has now reared its ugly head during one of the busiest times on farm.

Luckily, there are so many ways we can look after not only ourselves, but our staff and others in our rural communities as well.

We all know that keeping good mental health during the spring period is critical. But what does that actually look like in practice? . . 

Keep in contact with each other’ – Peter Burke:

Keep connecting. That’s the message to farmers from the chair of the Rural Support Trust, Neil Bateup.

He told Dairy News that since lockdown the trust probably haven’t had as many requests as they normally get, but the trust is still there to help.

He says because of the Covid lockdown they won’t go out to a farm unless it’s an emergency but people can still do things by phone.

An issue that has cropped up, and one that is hard to deal with, is when farm staff change jobs and problems arise. Bateup says the best they can do is refer individuals to MPI or Federated Farmers, who can help deal with contractual matters. . .

Escalating women leaders :

”To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why,’” says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Donna, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire.

Donna says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Lip Gloss and Gumboots:

While some people are attracted to the more solitary parts of a rural working life, many farming women seek out others going through the same experiences, according to Ravensdown shareholder Jo Hay.

“Farming can be a pretty lonely lifestyle. It’s important for women in agriculture to have a supportive group where they can discuss their experiences and bring their ideas to life.”

Jo Hay and husband Ross have operated a family sheep and beef farm in Herbert, 20 minutes south of Oamaru since 2006. Jo was a teacher in Oamaru for 6 years before returning to farm life after the birth of their first child.

That’s when she took part in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) “Understanding Your Farming Business” course. . .

Helping farmers find ‘aha’ moments – Alice Scott:

Helping farmers find their “aha moments” was Steven Nichol’s reason for choosing to step away from the day-to-day rigours of running his own farm and set up a farm consultancy business.

Mr Nichol grew up on the family farm at Clarks Junction and, in 2007, he was able to farm a portion of the family property as a stand-alone economic unit.

“I reflect back on those early years; all the things I wish I knew then that I know now. The thing that always used to bug me was finding ways to create a farming system that would produce consistently good results.”

A season could be impacted in many ways and Mr Nichol said it was learning how to measure those variables in order to make “proactive decisions” rather than “reactive moves”. . . 

‘It’s not the cow, it’s the how’: why a long-time vegetarian became beef’s biggest champion – Patrick Barkham:

Nicolette Hahn Niman was an environmental lawyer who became a cattle rancher, and didn’t eat meat for 33 years. For both the ecosystem and human health, she argues, it’s how animals are farmed that matters.

After refusing to eat meat for 33 years, Nicolette Hahn Niman bit tentatively into a beefburger two years ago. She had become a vegetarian because she was concerned about animal welfare and the environmental cost of meat. Unlike most vegetarians, she had experience of the dire conditions on factory farms during her career as an environmental lawyer campaigning against pollution caused by industrial meat production in the US. Then she married a farmer.

Hahn Niman’s journey from vegetarian activist to cattle rancher to writing a book called Defending Beef may be driven by love, but it is also informed by a lawyerly desire to stick up for small farmers besieged by the growing ethical and environmental clamour against meat. The burger turned out to be an unexpectedly delicious brief pleasure, but it was the 18 years working on the ranch alongside the man who grilled it – and raised the cow – her husband, Bill Niman, that inspired her. . . 


Rural round-up

19/08/2021

Howl organisers planning even bigger protest – Sally Rae:

Groundswell New Zealand says it is planning a “major nationwide protest event” in November, following a lack of response by the Government to its concerns.

Although a date was yet to be set and details of the event outlined, spokesman Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, said it would be “of a scale and impact that will be significant in New Zealand’s history”.

Last month, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what it says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, which was delivered at the protests, gave the Government a month to address the issues, or it would take further action. . . 

Farm dream from bullock wagon – Shawn McAvinue:

A dream to farm in North Otago began on a bullock wagon.

Ray Lawrence was a young boy when grandfather William began teaching him about stockmanship.

‘‘He was a natural — a great stockman.’’

As a teenager, William Lawrence ran bullock wagons between Dunedin and Oamaru and dreamed of farming in North Otago. . .

Southland farmer and his dog to represent NZ :

The trans-Tasman rivalry has reignited once again – this time in the search for the hardest working farm dog.

It’s the first time New Zealand has entered the Cobber Working Dog Challenge, which tracks how hard each canine works over the three-week competition using GPS collars.

One duo representing the country is Josh Tosh and Trix – from Dipton in Southland.

Tosh told Morning Report he has had Trix since she was just 8 weeks old and has trained her up to the hard working 3-and-a-half year old farm dog that she is now. . . 

 

Iwi, industry and government unified in stance to protect mānuka honey in Aotearoa New Zealand’s ‘Champagne Moment’

Iwi, Government and the Mānuka Honey Industry are unified in their stance to protect the term Mānuka for all New Zealanders following opposition to registration of the term MANUKA HONEY at a hearing at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on 18 August, 2021. “

The goal is to protect the term MANUKA HONEY internationally so that it may only be lawfully used on honey produced in Aotearoa. For Māori, this means that our reo is respected and a precious taonga (treasure) is being honoured and protected. For consumers, it means that they can trust they are getting genuine honey produced in New Zealand from our Mānuka trees. It also protects the industry, export earnings and jobs,” said Pita Tipene, Chair of the Mānuka Charitable Trust (MCT).

“There are some similarities to when wine producers everywhere started branding their sparkling wines as champagne, until the French took ownership. Now anything labelled Champagne must be from that region. For us it runs even deeper because Mānuka is our taonga (treasure) and our reo (language),” said Pita. . . 

Ravensdown invests in future as team focuses on farm environment planning:

Ravensdown is gearing up for the growing demand for farm environment planning and investing in future capabilities. This ongoing investment in future on-farm performance meant the co-operative was unable to meet the previous year’s record profit performance, however last year did end with a satisfying and strong profit of $53 million from continuing and discontinuing operations, before tax and rebate.

The co-operative returned a total of $33 million to its eligible farmer shareholders including $16 million paid as an early interim rebate in June.

“We were right to view 2020-21 with cautious optimism. Our strong result was based on great shareholder support, a hard-working team and an effective strategy,” said Ravensdown’s Chair John Henderson. “Our shipping joint venture and long-term relationships with reliable suppliers proved extremely valuable as the supply disruption resulting from the pandemic impacted so many other industries. Along with sustained focus on product availability, we will continue to invest in the science, technologies and services that can help the agsector thrive into the future,” added John. . . 

Local company secures rights for ground breaking fertiliser:

NZ Premium Health Ltd has been appointed the exclusive New Zealand distributor for Swift Grow, a 100% Australian Certified Organic fish-based fertiliser.

Swift Grow is produced in New South Wales by River Stone Fish Farms. The company’s founder, Genetics Engineer Joseph Ayoub, developed the product in response to what he saw as a diminished fertility of soils, both in domestic and commercial environments.

Ayoub has fond childhood memories of the delightful flavour and aroma of naturally-grown food. “But I noticed that this gradually diminished over time because of decades of intensive commercial farming practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

12/08/2021

Farmers struggle after floods – Nigel Malthus:

A Wesport mother and daughter team, who only recently bought a small dairy farm bordering the Buller River, are just one of many still struggling to get back on their feet after the huge flood of mid-July.

Lisa Milligan and her mother Karen took on the 70-hectare property about 5km upstream from the town on June 1. One July 17, almost the entire farm was flooded, with water covering the pastures, running through the milking shed and other buildings and lapping around the house.

Milligan says they knew when they bought the farm that a couple of low areas got water through them when the river flooded, “but not 99% of the farm. It was massive.”

She told Rural News the flood was at levels no one in the district had ever seen. . .

No resolution to labour nightmare – Peter Burke:

Meat Industry Association (MIA) boss Sirma Karapeeva says she struggles to see how much more automation can be introduced into the meat industry to resolve the present labour shortages.

Karapeeva says many people seem to think that automation is the silver bullet that can compensate for labour shortages in the industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I struggle to see how that is possible. In the red meat sector, we have already done all that we can do in terms of the lower hanging fruit in automation,” she told Rural News.

“The big pieces of automation are already in place and the next areas of automation that could be developed are really challenging because you are dealing with the natural product – meat.” . .

New RSE season will be tough amid pandemic – researcher – Christine Rovoi:

Many Recognised Seasonal Employers expect they will struggle to survive the 2021-2022 season unless they can refresh and increase their RSE workforce through new recruitment.

More than 300 stakeholders in New Zealand’s RSE scheme gathered in Nelson last month for the 14th annual industry-led conference ‘RSE: The Post-Covid Future’.

A New Zealand-based researcher said compared with the last RSE conference in Port Vila, Vanuatu in 2019, which focused on sustainable growth of the RSE scheme to support expansion of New Zealand’s horticulture industry (including wine), this year’s meeting was a “sobering event”.

Australia National University research fellow Charlotte Bedford said the conference had possibly the largest turnout of RSE employers, contractors, industry representatives and other stakeholders for several years. . .

West Coast farmers say plan to sacrifice their land bad idea – Lois Williams:

A landowner whose family farmed near Franz Josef for decades says it is not the best idea to let the river have its way on the south bank, as the government and councils are now proposing.

The West Coast Regional Council originally pitched a plan for a $24 million upgrade of the stopbanks on both sides of the river, but that has since been scaled back to $12m, the bulk of the work on the north bank of the Waiho River to protect Franz Josef village.

On the south bank, the stopbanks would be kept up only as far as Canavans Knob, and eventually, the river would be left to fan out over its natural flood plain, wiping out the airfield, several farms and a number of houses now protected by the ‘Milton and Others’ stopbank.

Derrick Milton, whose family helped to build and pay for the stopbank 36 years ago, says if the river is allowed to have its way it will shift its bed south to Docherty’s Creek and make it very difficult to rebuild the state highway as planned. . . 

Shear inspiration – Nigel Beckford:

Rowland Smith is one of New Zealand’s best known shearers. He’s set world records and won both the NZ Shears and Golden Shears numerous times. Farmstrong asked him how he looks after himself in such a physically demanding occupation. 

Shearing’s in the blood for Rowland Smith – his father and brothers were shearers, and shearing had taken him all over the world – Latvia, Finland, USA, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

“Shearing’s a great job because you’re out there doing it every day, you’re not stuck in an office. I’ve travelled the world for years on the back of a handpiece,” he says.

Shearing is unique in that as well as being a job, it’s also a competitive sport. Iconic events like the NZ Shears in Te Kuiti and the Golden Shears in Masterton attract hundreds of competitors and large crowds each year. . .

Farmers look to local products as fertiliser prices skyrocket – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are turning towards New Zealand-made fertiliser as Ravensdown and Ballance Agri Nutrients report soaring price increases.

Ballance general manager of sales Jason Minkhorst said the price of DAP fertiliser had doubled in the last year and while the company absorbed some of the cost, the price farmers paid had gone up by about 55 percent.

“Several things are pushing up the prices, to describe it as Covid is to simple, there’s increased demand for food and particularly for meat and dairy products and a key input to producing food is obviously fertiliser,” Minkhorst said.

“Another driver is that Chinese factories and most fertiliser comes from China, have been told to focus on the domestic market to assure food security for China. And then the last driver is this seasonal purchasing supported by subsidies in countries like India and Brazil that’s also putting pressure on prices at the moment.” . .

Seeking skills to reap bumper crops – Andrew Weidemann:

Another big crop is forecast to be harvested across Australia this year, worth an estimated $15 million for the broadacre grains sector.

But coronavirus is again presenting significant hurdles for the industry to overcome.

There is no point repeating what we already know about the personal inconvenience and business frustrations caused by extended lockdowns in different states.

But for many Grain Producers Australia (GPA) members, a significant and immediate challenge stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic is securing farm labour. . .


Rural round-up

14/07/2021

Farmer frustration is boiling over :

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says he’s not surprised frustration and anger about the deluge of new regulations and costs from central government is spilling over into protest meetings.

On Friday farmers in a number of districts around New Zealand are rounding up dog teams and firing up utes and tractors to head into their nearest town for peaceful protest rallies.

In his speech to the Federated Farmers National Council in Christchurch last week, Andrew referred to a “winter of discontent” in rural communities, with the so-called ute tax a straw that broke the camel’s back for many farming families.

The new “fee” on the farm vehicle work-horse to fund electric vehicle grants, when suitable EVs are not yet a realistic option for farmers, “has just highlighted in farmers’ minds that the Wellington Beltway thinkers just don’t get regional New Zealand“. . .

No workers, no growth! – Peter Burke:

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson says unless the kiwifruit industry gets more people to work in the sector, it may have to look at slowing down its speed of growth.

Matthieson told Hort News the biggest challenge for the industry is getting a good and consistent supply of people coming through the sector. Those who can help pick the fruit – as well as prepare the orchards for the next season’s crop. He adds the sector also want people to work through the post-harvest facilities to ensure that fruit is being managed well, to get it to market in the best condition.

Mathieson says New Zealanders currently make up about 55% of the kiwifruit sector’s workforce, while backpackers make up about 25% and RSE workers around 15%.

“We have a good mix, but we are certainly looking for more to supplement the migrant workers and the backpackers,” he told Hort News. . . 

Canterbury farmer’s only way out under threat – Sally Murphy:

A farmer in the Canterbury high country still cleaning up after last month’s flood is worried the bridge which connects them to the rest of the world could be washed away.

The heavy rain caused significant damage to Double Hill run road up the Rakaia Gorge leaving farmers isolated.

A four-wheel-drive track has since been cut on the road but a bridge near Redcliffs station is still surrounded by shingle.

Station farmer Ross Bowmar said he was still using a generator for power and had five kilometres of fencing to repair, but the bridge was his main concern. . . .

 

Farmer owned co-operatives need farmer-centered boards:

Former Ravensdown Board member Scott Gower is calling for farmers to step up and stay active in participating on boards of their co-operatives despite more demands being placed on farmers’ time.

Scott is a third-generation hill country sheep and beef farmer from Ohura near Taumarunui and retired from the Ravensdown Board last September after reaching the maximum term.

As an ownership structure, co-operatives contribute 18% of New Zealand’s GDP and one of the most important characteristics according to Scott is how they can take ‘the long view’ rather than seeking short-term commercial gain.

“The agsector is served by more co-operatives than most. Participation by working farmers is vitally important especially in the Board’s composition and determining its priorities. They can nominate candidates, they can run themselves and of course elect the directors that best represent how they think things should be governed,” Scott says. . .

Vegetables lead sharp rise in food prices:

The largest rise for vegetable prices in over four years pushed food prices up 1.4 percent during the June 2021 month, Stats NZ said today.

Vegetable prices rose 15 percent in June, mainly influenced by rising prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, capsicum, and broccoli. After adjusting for seasonal effects, vegetable prices were up 8.5 percent.

“We typically see price rises for many vegetables in winter due to seasonal effects,” consumer prices manager Matthew Stansfield said.

“However, we are seeing larger rises than usual for this time of the year and for a greater number of vegetables.” . .

Agritech industry grew over 2020, report shows – Nona Pelletier:

The agritech industry is growing steadily, despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Technology Investment Network (TIN) report for 2020 indicates there was growth across all parts of the sector, including the number of start-ups, export revenue, spending on research and development, and investment across all business types.

The top 22 agritech companies generated $1.4 billion in revenue.

Most of the new early stage companies offered information and communication technology, with a growing number offering biotech products. . . .


Rural round-up

09/07/2021

Towns rally for a howl of a protest – Neal Wallace:

More than 40 towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill will reverberate to the sounds of tractors and utilities on July 16, as farmers and tradies protest multiple government policies.

Howl of a Protest is organised by pressure group Groundswell NZ, which says it is standing up for farmers, food producers, contractors, tradies and councils against what they claim to be a host of unworkable rules imposed by central government.

Organiser Laurie Paterson cannot say how many people will participate but says interest in the movement and the protest is growing with people frustrated by the deluge of government policy.

“They are sick of the avalanche of unworkable rules being dumped on them and the idea is to make a statement,” Paterson said. . . 

Rural group’s ‘wild conspiracy theories’ criticised

A Southern mayor and Federated Farmers president are alarmed a rural action group is taking advantage of valid concerns to push “wild conspiracy theories”.

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson and Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan attended an Agricultural Action Group (AAG) meeting in Balclutha last Wednesday, which Mr Patterson described as “unsettling and unhelpful”.

About 200 attended.

The former New Zealand First list MP said the content of the meeting conflated “valid concerns” of rural communities about current government policy with “wild conspiracy theories“. . .

Good work ethic goes a long way – Rebecca Greaves:

Hard work and personal drive led Joe McCash to take out the Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition recently. Rebecca Greaves reports.

Demonstrating a high level of personal drive helped Joe McCash over the line in a Hawke’s Bay shepherd competition.

Combined with his experience across multiple farming systems, it set him apart from other competitors to win the Rural Directions Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition.

Joe, 25, has been shepherding at Te Aratipi Station, a sheep and beef farm in the Maraetotara Valley, near Waimarama Beach, in Hawke’s Bay for 18 months.

Employed by Ed and Ro Palmer, Joe is focused on the stock side of the business. “I’d say it’s 90% stock work, all the handling, rotations, general yard work.” . . 

This Raglan couple rolled up their sleeves to transform their 14ha block into a tiny-home retreat – Nadene Hall:

There’s no power, no phone lines, and no cellphone coverage. It’s hilly to steep, mostly covered in trees, and ends at a cliff-face. The grass quality isn’t great, so there’s no point grazing stock, even if its vegetarian owners wanted to.

But this block just southwest of Raglan is a profit-making venture for Tara Wrigley and Guillaume Gignoux, thanks to hard work and a little serendipity.

They run Tiny House Escapes, with three unique accommodation options. There’s the LoveNest, a little cabin at the top of the property surrounded by a pine forest; the LoveBus, a converted bus that sits in a paddock with expansive ocean views; and the Treehouse, one of the most wish-listed places on Airbnb NZ. . .

New scientific officer passionate about solutions to N loss :

Ravensdown has appointed Dr Will Talbot to the newly created position of Scientific Officer, supporting the Chief Scientific Officer Ants Roberts in an ongoing programme of innovative science and technology projects.

Will brings strong soil knowledge to the innovation challenge from his undergraduate agricultural science and post graduate soil science studies as well as lecturing at Lincoln University in soil erosion, cultivation and physical properties.

It was through Ravensdown’s many projects with Lincoln that Will saw first-hand the co-operative’s innovative approach to solving production and environmental challenges simultaneously. . . 

New Zealand horticulture exports resilient in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic:

New Zealand horticulture exports weathered the effects of COVID-19 to reach new heights, climbing to a record-breaking $6.6 billion in the year ending 30 June 2020. This is an increase of $450 million from the previous year, and more than 11% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.

Plant & Food Research and Horticulture New Zealand publish ‘Fresh Facts’ annually to provide key statistics that cover the whole of New Zealand’s horticulture industries. According to latest edition, the value of the total New Zealand horticulture industry exceeded $10 billion for the first time in 2020.

New Zealand horticultural produce was exported to 128 countries in 2020. The top five markets were Continental Europe, Japan, the USA, Australia and China. Exports to Asia were $2.76 billion, 42% of total NZ horticulture exports. . . 

Celebrating primary sector people and innovation :

The Primary Industry New Zealand (PINZ) Awards are all about acknowledging and celebrating teams, individuals and organisations that are leading the way towards a better future through investing in science, innovation and communities.

“We were proud to be a finalist in three out of the seven categories – it’s real recognition of the leadership and innovation across our Ballance team,” says Mark Wynne, Ballance Agri-Nutrients CEO.

“The competition was tough in each category, highlighting the depth of talent and drive within the sector, and making the fact we and Hiringa Energy won the award for Innovation & Collaboration and Surfing for Farmers won the Team award even more fulfilling, knowing we were up against the best of the best.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

08/05/2021

Sheep and beef farms are getting squeezed – Keith Woodford:

The sheep and beef industry is getting squeezed from all sides, yet export returns exceed $7 billion.

I decided recently that it was time to take a closer look at what is happening on sheep and beef farms. The underlying motive is that I have been giving thought as to what the sheep and beef industry, which contributes around $7 billion of export income each year, might look like in another ten or twenty years. But before getting too immersed in that future, I needed to make sure I understood the present and how we got to where we are now.

When I left school a very long time ago, I had in mind that I wanted to be a sheep farmer myself. As a school boy, I used to peruse the advertisements each weekend in Saturday’s newspaper and figure out what a farm for 1000 ewes plus young stock and a few beef cows would cost. The land cost was around 20,000 New Zealand pounds, with this converting subsequently in 1967 to around $40,000. The figure now is about 30 times that, perhaps more, before taking into account that 1000 ewes would no longer be anywhere near enough for a living. . . 

Two big announcements awaited from Fonterra – one deals with dairy payout, the other with the co-op’s capital structure – Point of Order:

So what  are  the  chances Fonterra’s  payout  to its farmer-suppliers  could  top  $8kg/MS the  soon-to-end  current  season?

That would give a  timely  boost  to  the  rural economy  and give  farmers  the kind  of  surge  in incomes  which  would encourage them  to  step up the  pace  of  adapting their dairy farming practices as  the  country  moves  to meet its  climate  change goals.

In March, Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for this season to between $7.30 and $7.90kg/MS with a mid-point of $7.60. That was up from $7.14 last season.

But now, after several  good  results  from the fortnightly GDT auctions, and indications from futures contract prices, the  speculation  is that the payout  could go  higher. . . 

Farms hidden economic vulnerability revealed – Jonathan Milne:

A new stress test reveals just how exposed our farmers are to labour shortages, drought or a downturn in commodity prices.

Milk prices are high and times seem good for dairy farmers – but the Reserve Bank warns half of dairy farms face debt restructuring if milk solid prices drop back below $5.50/kg.

Dairy is just one of the primary production sectors where pockets of high debt create real economic exposure – for farming families, provincial communities and the economy.

While still relatively small, banks’ lending to horticulture producers has maintained a solid growth rate, increasing 11 percent in the year to March. Banks should continue to monitor associated risks, including the sector’s vulnerability to labour shortages and severe weather events, the Reserve Bank says in its first Financial Stability Report this year. . . 

Should rabbits be on the LIM report – Jill Herron:

It’s a dream lifestyle in a dream location, but owning property in Central Otago often comes with an expanding family of unwanted guests. Should real estate agents be telling prospective buyers about the rabbit problem?

World famous for its breathtaking landscape, skifields, wineries and pristine lakes, Central Otago is also fast becoming notorious for its pest population.

And those buying into the lifestyle dream need to be aware of what they are taking on, according to long-time real estate agent, Edwin Lewis.

The fact the costly, destructive and incredibly persistent pests accompany most purchases is proving a rude shock to many newcomers throughout the region. . . 

Minaret Station PLUS an amazing West Coast wilderness experienceJane Jeffries :

Arriving at the Alpine Helicopters hanger in Queenstown, I was full of anticipation for our three days at Minaret Station. I’d read about this property and have always had an inkling to go. Now three nights for the price of two, thanks to Covid, we are on our way. This much talked about Minaret luxury lodge, set in a glacial valley in the Southern Alps, is seriously remote. We had to chopper over some of New Zealand’s most inaccessible, jagged terrain to get there.

The well-known Wallis family are at the heart of this working farm. They are acknowledged in the Central Otago community for their contribution to aviation, farming, deer exporting and tourism. Sir Tim Wallis was one of the great deer farming pioneers. As a young man, his love of the land, aviation and adventure lured him into the helicopter business. He pioneered live deer capture from helicopters which lead to a significant industry in New Zealand. His nick-name, ‘Hurricane Tim,’ was well-earned for his daring flying and would not be approved by OSHA today!

As the helicopter fleet grew to support the commercial and agriculture arm of the family business, they decided to diversify into tourism. They started offering scenic flights and heli-skiing in the South Island in the 1980s. Then, in 2010 they opening the doors to the Minaret Alpine Lodge. The family wanted to share the beauty of the 50,000-acre working farm, home to some 12,000 deer, 1,300 cattle, and 1,000 sheep. . . 

Ravensdown appoints national agronomy manager:

Ravensdown has appointed Will Waddell as its new National Agronomy Manager. Will’s responsibility will be enhancing the co-operative’s service in seeds, agrichemicals and agronomic advice.

The new role leads a nationwide team of nine specialist agronomists supported by a product management team of four and benefits from Ravensdown’s partnership with Cropmark Seeds.

“I look forward to supporting and leading our talented team of agronomists to bring practical and innovative farm systems solutions to our shareholders as we respond to environmental and social needs,” says Waddell.

General Manager Customer Relationships Bryan Inch congratulated Will Waddell on his appointment to the newly created position. . . 


Rural round-up

03/05/2021

Health restructure leaving rural GPs and nurses in the dark:

Rural communities across the country will lose out under Labour’s radical health restructure, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“National believes our health system should fundamentally be based around need, those who have the greatest need receive the greatest resources.

“New Zealand’s rural communities are an essential part of New Zealand and face unique health challenges, but Labour has failed to put forward how its health restructure will benefit our small rural communities and their GPs.

“In any major merger or centralisation it’s the small communities who lose their voice, but they’re the ones who best know what works for them when it comes to keeping their people healthy. . . 

Battling pines on Molesworth Station – Country Life:

There’s a war being fought on the slopes and gullies of Marlborough back country.

Among the foot soldiers are students, builders and Coast to Coast athletes – their enemy, unwanted pine trees.

Their uniform is high viz and their weapons – “blue glue” pesticide and chain saws.

In the tree control gang is Anzac Gallate, a university student with an appropriate name for the task at hand. . . 

Efficient water use on a drought-prone farm:

In a region increasingly prone to drought, being able to reduce the amount of water being used in your dairy shed by 50% is a massive win.

For Hukerenui Holstein Friesian breeders Kevin and Michelle Alexander that win came down to measuring good data, a commitment to finding a better way to manage water on their farm and using better tools and methods, including a hose nozzle that uses a significantly less water than a normal hose.

The couple have been on their 178 hectare farm about 20km north of Whangarei for the past 20 years. They milk around 350 mainly Holstein Friesian cows, which in a good year return about 1,100kgMS/hectare. . . 

Never underestimate the great importance of farming friendship – Will Evans:

The recent, sudden passing of a very close friend has left me feeling both bereft and pensive and, being truly honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this achingly sad before.

The sense of loss and injustice is all consuming, and it’s hard to really concentrate on anything else. But it has led me to contemplate the true meaning of friendship and how very fortunate we are in the farming community in this regard.

Rachel was, in many ways, the heartbeat of a group of us who were thick as thieves from the start of our time at Harper Adams University more than 20 years ago, and we have remained as close as family ever since. Best men and bridesmaids at each other’s weddings, godparents to each other’s children, and unfailingly there for each other through life’s good times and bad.

Though we all scattered to the four corners of the world after university, and have become older and marginally more responsible over the years, on the occasions when we do reunite, it feels, temporarily at least, as if we’re young and daft and invincible again. What an incredibly joyous thing that is. . . 

Garry Diack appointed new Ravensdown CEO:

Ravensdown has announced Garry Diack as its new CEO, replacing Greg Campbell who has held the position at the farmer-owned co-operative for the past eight years.

Diack joins Ravensdown from his position as CEO and Executive Director of Tait Communications on 19 July 2021. He has over 30 years’ experience of improving corporate performance, effective governance and driving growth.

Ravensdown Chair John Henderson said Garry’s experience across many industries, his rural connections and his grounded-yet-innovative approach, made him a compelling proposition for the Board. “The Board is excited that its search for someone that offers strategic continuity and deliberate evolution has been successful.

“There’s no doubt that our purpose of enabling smarter farming for a better New Zealand has never been more important and Garry is passionate about that direction.” . . 

Reduce nitrogen, phosphate use without compromising pasture & milk production with NZ’s leading expert in soil fertility:

Developed from proven science, Hamilton-based Soil Scientist Dr Gordon Rajendram (PhD), shows how one farm improved plant nutrient uptake, pasture production, milk production, root growth, earthworm and increased water holding capacity through soil, pasture and clover only testing followed up by sound agronomic advice.

“This study is highly relevant, especially to Canterbury dairy farmers as the NZ Government requirement that no more than 190 kg of nitrogen per hectare is applied in any one year. It is also likely in the future that there will be restrictions in phosphate (P) use, as P is more of a threat to the environment if it gets into waterways than N” adds Gordon.

‘Farmers are very worried about the 190 N rule particularly in Canterbury, they do not have to be as you can grow enough pasture with high-quality feed if you get the right advice based on sound scientific principles’ adds Gordon. . . 


Rural round-up

26/03/2021

Sensible pause – Rural News:

Finally the Government has made a sensible move to temporarily pause the implementation of the impractical rules that accompany its proposed regulations on winter grazing.

Last week Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced a temporary delay, until 1 May 2022, of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect.

For months farmers, industry groups and councils around the country have highlighted the unworkability of the rules and that numerous issues need to be addressed. Hopefully, this extra time will ensure that both politicians and bureaucrats will now listen to the real concerns of farmers and councils, and implement rules that will actually work to benefit the environment and farming.

It is unbelievable that despite empirical evidence about how the IWG rules, that were part of the Essential Freshwater legislation passed in August last year, had a number of unworkable parts, ministers and bureaucrats took so long to act. This ‘we know best’ attitude needs to change as it is a huge hindrance to making any real progress in improving the country’s water. . . 

South Island Agricultural Field Days expects to draw 30,000 to N Canty – Hugo Cameron:

The Canterbury town of Kirwee is expecting to see up to 30,000 people turn up for one of the country’s largest regional field days events this week.

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, founded in 1951, is the oldest show of its kind in New Zealand and is taking place through until Friday.

Event chairperson Michaela McLeod said she was looking forward to bringing the sector together after a tough year due to Covid-19.

“There have been a number of A&P shows and other events cancelled around the country. They are such important events for farmers and traders, and I know it’s been very hard on a lot of people not having them,” she said. . . 

Anger, guilt and optimism: young farmers’ complicated relationship with climate change – Charlie O’Mannin:

As farming confronts its climate impact, Charlie O’Mannin speaks to the next generation about how they feel. In short: it’s complicated.

“If you’re waking up every morning feeling awful about the job you’re in, feeling like you’re the reason climate change is happening, like you need to counteract your emissions, like you need fewer cows, well what would be the point in waking up and getting the cows in?”

Briana Lyons belongs to a generation of young farmers facing a radical future.

Agriculture makes up 48 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Ministry for the Environment’s 2018 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report. . . 

Two million tonnes of greenhouse gas up for grabs with minimal production hit:

Ravensdown’s recommendations to the Climate Change Commission focus on three specific solutions that can save two million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year with minimal impact on agsector production.

The farmer-owned co-operative’s submission sent yesterday points out the potential savings of using inhibitors that reduce the amount of nitrous oxide being emitted and lost from granulated nitrogen fertiliser and livestock urine.

“Proven urease inhibitors are available for use at scale across New Zealand. Nitrification inhibitors have shown promise in the past and should also be pursued for the future. For both, we’re asking that the Commission looks into how obstacles to adoption can be overcome,” said Mike Manning, General Manager Innovation and Strategy at the co-operative.

“We agree with the Commission that agsector productivity is key – especially when the country is facing such debt and economic uncertainty. At the same time, we believe in smarter farming, in New Zealand’s ambition to hit its climate goals and in the need for practical, scalable innovations to do so,” added Mike. . . 

Leading kiwifruit companies to amalgamate:

Seeka Limited (“Seeka”) and Opotiki Packing and Cool Storage Limited (“OPAC”) are to join via amalgamation. This transaction will see Seeka expand further to be operational in all of New Zealand’s major kiwifruit growing regions in a deal that continues to consolidate the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

The OPAC shareholders will receive new shares in Seeka at the ratio of 1.4833 Seeka shares for every 1 OPAC share held, valuing the net assets of OPAC at $33.94m provided OPAC shareholders approve the transaction with a 75% approval required. Seeka will assume approximately $25.06m of debt as part of the acquisition bringing the total deal to $59.00m.

The offer is subject to a number of conditions, including approval of OPAC’s shareholders to the amalgamation at a shareholders’ meeting to be held on Tuesday 13 April 2021; and approval by Seeka’s shareholders to the issue of up to 7,042,574 new shares in Seeka at the ASM to be held on Friday 16 April 2021. Further details will be advised in the respective Notice of Meeting to be sent to each Company’s shareholders prior to their meetings. . .

Flood damage: where to find help – Andrew Norris:

As we watch the damage emerge along NSW’s coastal regions as the flood waters move through, you can’t help but feel for those who have copped the brunt of it.

The sheer extent of the flooding has been incredible, and to hear multiple stories about how livestock have been stranded or have turned up in unusual places like the beach or somebody’s backyard is quite bewildering.

This is all before the damage assessment begins in earnest. The extent of infrastructure that will need repairing or replacing and the amount of pastures that will remain unsuitable for grazing will be extensive.

The federal government already has lump sum payments available for which those affected by the March floods can apply, although Moree, which is also dealing with major flooding now too, was not on that list as we went to print (visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au). . . 


Rural round-up

01/03/2021

Hawke’s Bay farmer ready to repay feed favour if dry conditions worsen this summer :

A Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer is emphasising the importance of having a buffer of feed to get through tough seasons.

Bruce Goldstone farms 4000 breeding ewes, 1000 hoggets and 450 cattle on 1045 hectares at Putorino, north of Napier.

He started running short of feed for his livestock as a drought gripping the entire North Island early last year continued to worsen.

Goldstone turned to the national feed coordination service, funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), for help. . .

Trek has kept him coming back for 29 years – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Gold fever hits Otago and South Canterbury as the annual Otago Goldfields Cavalcade gets under way this weekend, finishing in Twizel on March 6. Among the participants is Catlins farmer Marty Miller (79) who is saddling up for the 29th time. He talks to Mary-Jo Tohill.

Marty Miller gingerly eases himself into the saddle.

This year will be the Owaka farmer’s 29th Otago Goldfields Cavalcade.

He has had a bit of back trouble in the past few weeks and has been on a stick, not to mention painkillers. . . 

Too many beehives, not enough buyers. New Zealand’s great honey glut – Jane Phare:

Mānuka honey producers have been reaping the profits of selling pots of gold in recent years, but now there’s a surplus of non-mānuka varieties as beekeepers stockpile, hoping prices will recover. The NZ Herald’s Jane Phare looks at why the country is oozing with honey, in this Herald Premium article.

It was always a Kiwi staple, honey on toast in the morning, a spoonful to help the medicine go down. It was sweet, yummy and affordable.

Then, the so-called magical health benefits of mānuka honey became known worldwide causing export sales to take off. As the mānuka honey story reached fever pitch, so did the prices. Honey producers were earning upwards of $100 a kilo, selling little pots of dark golden nectar.

Today, monofloral mānuka honey is still a good earner at $55/kg compared to less than $20/ kg, and in some cases as low as $5/kg, for non-mānuka varieties like the staple clover honey. . .

Records fall at Lawrence dog sale – Shawn McAvinue:

Farmers were loving bidding for working dogs as records were broken in South Otago on Valentine’s Day.

The highest price paid for working dog at the Lawrence Gymkhana Club dog sale was $8700 for huntaway Lace.

The 3-year-old bitch was sold by Ali Brenssell.

Mr Brenssell, of Ardgowan, north of Oamaru, said he was “very happy” with the sale.

“She was well worth the price.” . . 

Massey student wins scholarship :

Massey University student Sophie Ridd is this year’s recipient of Ravensdown’s Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.

The 19 year-old is about to start her second year of study towards a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus. She says the scholarship will reduce her financial burden and open up new opportunities for her to pursue tertiary study at higher levels.

“I am absolutely stoked to receive this support as it will enable me to pursue my passion even further.”

The Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship provides the recipient with $5,000 per year for each year of a student’s undergraduate study in agriculture or horticulture disciplines at Lincoln or Massey University. The recipient will also be offered the opportunity for paid holiday work at Ravensdown if available. . . 

Non dairy ‘milks’ say they’re ‘healthier’. That’s mostly wrong – Paul Kita:

First, deep breath.

And now…

Soy, pea, almond, cashew, potato, oat, hemp, peanut, lactose-free, coconut, rice, flax, pistachio, banana, “plant,” hazelnut, quinoa, annnnnnnd unless there’s another alternative milk out there (and there’s probably another alternative milk out there), that’s all the alternative milk out there.

Then, to further leave you winded, within each of these styles of non-dairy milk alternatives, there exists several brands each marketing that they’re somehow better for you than whatever dreck the competitors offer. . .


Rural round-up

05/12/2020

Government’s climate change emergency declaration: Government must shift its attention from offsetting emissions to reducing emissions from fossil fuel use:

With the New Zealand Government declaring a climate change emergency, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has renewed its call for the Government to put in place tangible measures that will lead to real reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use and limit the amount of pollution that can be offset through carbon farming.

“The science tells us that carbon dioxide emissions need to decrease significantly if the global community is to meet the temperature goals set in the Paris Agreement, yet carbon dioxide emissions have increased by nearly 40 per cent in New Zealand since the 1990s,” says Dylan Muggeridge, Environment Policy Manager at B+LNZ.

“The changes made to the emissions trading legislation earlier this year provide huge incentives for fossil fuel emitters to offset their emissions through large-scale planting of exotic trees, rather than incentives to change behaviour, reduce emissions and decarbonise the economy. . .

Regenerative agriculture is not redundant but can be misguided – Keith Woodford:

Arguments about regenerative agriculture illustrate the challenges of creating informed debate. More generally, democracies depend on voters understanding complex issues

The overarching title to this article, that regenerative agriculture is not redundant but can be misguided, contrasts with a recent Newshub article stating that “regenerative agriculture is a largely redundant concept for New Zealand” and hence “largely superfluous”.

According to the title of the Newshub article, “NZ farmers adopted regenerative agriculture years ago”. The supposed source of these claims was a retired university professor called Keith Woodford. That’s me!

The problem is that I don’t believe I have ever used the words ‘redundant’ or ‘superfluous’ in relation to regenerative agriculture. What I do say is that it has to be science-led and not simplistic dogma. Unfortunately, in many cases the dogma is not consistent with the science. . . .

Fonterra provides update on its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range and first quarter performance:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today narrowed its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range, reported a solid start to the 2021 financial year and reconfirmed its forecast earnings guidance. 

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says as a result of strong demand for New Zealand dairy, the Co-op has narrowed and lifted the bottom end of the forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from NZD $6.30 – $7.30 per kgMS to NZD $6.70 – $7.30 per kgMS.

“This means the midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $7.00 per kgMS.

“China is continuing to recover well from COVID-19 and this is reflected in recent Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions with strong demand from Chinese buyers, especially for Whole Milk Powder, which is a key driver of the milk price. . . 

CEO begins six-month notice period after giving intention to leave:

Greg Campbell, Chief Executive of Ravensdown has notified the Board that he will be leaving the role and has started his six-month notice period. This gives the Board time to search for a suitable replacement for Greg who has been CEO of the farmer-owned co-operative for eight years.

Greg explained that the time felt right to move on, but there was no specific role lined up. “I’m a director on several boards and that seems enough at this point. I’ve been a CEO for different organisations now continuously for over two decades so it will be good to pause, take stock and see what life holds in store.”

His pride in the Ravensdown team and all it has accomplished – especially coming through for the country as an essential service during Covid-19 – is undimmed. . . .

Silver Fern Farms helps Kiwis share the love with family and friends in the US this Christmas:

Silver Fern Farms is making it easy for Kiwis to share a taste of New Zealand with their US friends and family this Christmas. By ordering from its newly-launched US website us.silverfernfarms.com, Kiwis can still send Silver Fern Farms’ premium quality, grass-fed New Zealand lamb, beef and venison direct to the doorsteps of their US-based loved ones in time for Christmas dinner.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says thanks to the company’s US distribution centres, it’s a perfect option for people who’ve missed postal cut-off dates to the US, but want to send something special and memorable to Americans looking at a Christmas with restrictions on gatherings.

“Kiwis with friends and family over in the US are feeling farther away than ever this Christmas. We know that connecting over delicious food is a special part of the holidays, no matter what hemisphere you’re celebrating in, and while we can’t all get together just yet, we can help Kiwis share the love through a care package of Silver Fern Farms’ finest New Zealand pasture-raised red meat products.” . . 

Hannah – Hannah Marriott:

See the good in what you do and what you can contribute to society.

In January 2013, Hannah Marriott hit “send” on her Nuffield Australia report on individual animal management in commercial sheep production. Her report outlined the findings from her one-year scholarship, which took her to New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Kenya to complete her studies into using objective measurement to optimise production through to product.

Agriculture has always been a passion for Hannah, who through her Nuffield Scholarship, uncovered more about how objective measurement could deliver production benefits to commercial sheep producers.

As a second-generation sheep producer, Hannah grew up on her family’s property near Benalla in Victoria. . . 


Rural round-up

16/09/2020

Greens warned fertiliser tax will ‘create pressure on farmers’ :

The Green Party is being warned that a fertiliser levy is not a solution to more sustainable farming.

The Greens unveiled its agriculture policy in Canterbury at the weekend, where the party announced its plans to levy nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser sales.

They also want to establish an almost $300 million fund for the transition to regenerative and organic farming.

Environmental consultant Dave Ashby runs a dairy farm in North Canterbury.

Keeping animals fenced out, planting along the banks and adding oxygen weed are just a few of the measures he takes to keep his waterways clean.

To prove how clean the water is at his man-made drain he took a handful and drank it. . . 

Independently assessed candidates for Fonterra Board of Directors’ election announced:

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack, along with Nathan Guy, Cathy Quinn and Mike O’Connor have been announced as the Independently Assessed Candidates for the 2020 Fonterra Farmer Directors’ election. This year there are two Board positions up for election.

Nathan Guy, Mike O’Connor and Cathy Quinn were recommended by the Independent Selection Panel after their assessment process.

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack is seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. The Panel’s assessment of Brent will be included in the voting pack and as a re-standing Director he automatically goes through to the ballot. . .

Farm worker shows what folk with disabilities can do – George Clark:

A South Canterbury-based farm hand hopes to shed light on people with disabilities who have been overlooked for employment.

Timaru’s David Hanford Boyes has no balance and requires a walking stick to move.

While picking fruit in Australia in 1996, he was swept off a ladder by a branch and fell to the ground, crushing three vertebrae in his back.

Mr Hanford Boyes said he was lucky to have leading surgeons in Melbourne at the time offering a surgery not before tried on humans. . . 

Sharing his passion for dairy farming – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Telford dairy farm manager John Thornley has played a key role in getting the first GoDairy course under way at the Southern Institute of Technology Telford campus. He has first-hand knowledge of making a career change, as Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

After going from cook to cow cocky, Telford dairy farm manager John Thornley can relate to change.

He played a key role in getting the first GoDairy course under way at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Telford campus near Balclutha last month, and said he got a real kick out of seeing the 13 people taking part make big changes to their lives.

“They’re like a breath of fresh air and they’re wanting to learn all they can about dairying.” . . 

New director will help push for smarter farming:

Intellectual property lawyer and farm owner Jane Montgomery is Ravensdown’s newest shareholder-elected director, announced at yesterday’s 2020 annual meeting.

Christchurch-based Jane owns a farm in North Canterbury and has been elected as director of Area 3, which extends from Selwyn to the top of the South Island and includes the West Coast.

Ravensdown Chair John Henderson says Jane’s new perspective will be important as the co-operative and its shareholders tackle opportunities and challenges in a volatile world. . . 

 

Commission releases final report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2019/20 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price Fonterra sets for raw milk supplied by farmers, which is currently forecast to be $7.10 – $7.20 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019/20 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review the calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). The regime is designed to provide Fonterra with incentives to set the base milk price consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

19/08/2020

COVID-19: Time for a rethink on priorities – Doug Edmeades:

The Government needs to put environmental goals on the back burner whilst managing debt from COVID-19, according to Dr Doug Edmeades.

New Zealand’s Government has spent about $50-odd billion to-date to counteract the ravages of the COVID virus.

It is an enormous debt. Somehow, someday, we must repay it. But how?

Unfortunately, our tourism industry is also a casualty of the virus. This leaves agriculture as the only industry large enough to muscle-down this debt over time. . . 

Ruminant methane under the spotlight:

For over 20 years New Zealand’s farmers have been unfairly harangued and vilified for their animal’s ruminant methane emissions and a new farming group says it wants to set the record straight.

A recently established organization named “FARM”, which stands for Facts About Ruminant Methane, has been set up by concerned farmers and scientists to present the facts about ruminant methane to challenge unjustified, unscientific emissions reduction requirements imposed by the Government.

FARM says the politics is running away from commonsense and science with current climate policy based on flawed input data about ruminant methane’s impact. . . 

Long way from being out of the woods yet – Allan Barber:

The sense of calm and normality pervading the country for over three months has been shattered by the latest cases of community transmission the country. Until today New Zealanders have been going about their everyday lives, most of them still with jobs and being paid, at least until the wage subsidy ends, while the major concerns appeared to be what Judith’s raised eyebrows say, which political poll is closer to reality, and how many more people would break out of quarantine. Suddenly the media has a lot more than the election to get its teeth into.

Cars have been selling faster than ever, house prices remain steady, people have been able to eat out and travel round the country, enjoying local tourism experiences instead of flying round the world, and agricultural export prices have held up reasonably well. It seemed at first glance as if all was right in our little corner of the world. But the latest events have proved this may just be the calm before the storm which could be brewing in any number of different ways. While optimism is great, it would be as well to anticipate some of the risks facing New Zealand and ensure there are strategies to manage them. . . 

Fonterra confirms appointment of Teh-han Chow:

Fonterra is pleased to confirm the appointment of Teh-han Chow to the role of Chief Executive Officer, Greater China.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says since December 2019, Teh-han has been at the helm in an acting capacity, overseeing the Co-op’s overall Greater China business, including Ingredients, Foodservice, Consumer Brands and China Farms.

“He’s made an impressive contribution. It’s certainly not been a steady-state. Teh-han has been responsible for implementation of our new strategy across the Greater China business, and over the course of this calendar year, has shown outstanding resilience, resourcefulness and empathy in getting his team and our China business through the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 global pandemic. . . 

Growing Food Through COVID-19 – Nutrient Services Essential (again) :

As farming gears up for a busy spring, farm nutrient provider Ravensdown has been given the green light as an essential service as it was during previous levels 3 and 4.

Back in autumn, farmers were catching up on fertiliser and feed as they tried to recover from a crippling drought. A potentially COVID-disrupted spring places different demands on the farm nutrient and environmental experts as soil tests, fertiliser recommendations, nutrient budgets and farm environmental plans need to be generated.

“Our network will be operating as before ensuring the essential nutrients remain available as farmers grow the food for people and livestock,” said Bryan Inch General Manager Customer Relationships. “The team of on-farm advisors will try to do what they can remotely, but unlike the last lockdown, on really important occasions they will need to visit a farm. Of course, they will check ahead and comply with the relevant government advice around safe interaction.” . . 

Derecho: Assessing damage – Rob Swoboda:

Across a wide swath of central and eastern Iowa, people are dealing with the heartbreaking aftermath of a rare derecho windstorm that has turned what was looking like a big corn and soybean crop into deep losses for many farmers.

The Aug. 10 storm flattened cornfields and destroyed or damaged barns, machine sheds, livestock buildings, grain bins, and homes. Central and eastern Iowa were hit by winds up to 100 mph. A derecho is an inland hurricane with ferocious straight-line winds and varying amounts of rain.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig traveled the area to get a firsthand look at the damage, listening to farmers and other folks affected. He held a phone conference with reporters Aug. 12 after viewing fields in central and west-central Iowa. . . 


Rural round-up

08/08/2020

Expect increased rates costs from new government freshwater laws:

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

“We all want good water quality, that’s why farmers and growers have been spending time and money for decades doing all they can on-farm,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Millions of trees, hundreds of miles of fencing, sediment management, nitrogen controls … all these things are improving rural water quality.”

While there is still a good deal of detail Federated Farmers is working through to get a better understanding of to communicate to its members, “we do have concerns around the wording of the National Policy Statement. . . 

Red meat exports record seven percent increase year on year :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exported $9.4 billion of sheepmeat, beef and co-products for the year ending June 2020, according to the latest analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector saw an increase of $639 million – or seven per cent – compared to the year ending June 2019.

China remained the largest market for the year ending June 2020, accounting for $3.7 billion of New Zealand’s red meat exports. This was an increase of 24 per cent on the previous June year – and was partly driven by China’s demand for red meat protein as a result of the impact of African Swine Fever. . . 

More hands needed for milk processing – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has made a strong start to the dairy season and has more than 150 seasonal vacancies in its processing division spread throughout the country, director of manufacturing, Alan van der Nagel says.

The processing jobs at 30 manufacturing sites are among 770 current vacancies throughout Fonterra, including corporate roles, technicians, field staff and working in the Farm Source stores.

“We do gear up for the peak milk processing demand and we are looking for a wide range of skills and abilities,” van der Nagel said.

“We give the appropriate training and there are opportunities for re-skilling at a time when a lot of people are out of work.” . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s recognition of the importance of  vegetable growing in NZ in freshwater decisions:

Horticulture New Zealand is welcoming recognition of the importance of vegetable growing in the Government’s new national direction on freshwater management.

‘HortNZ has worked with growers in Pukekohe and Horowhenua to demonstrate to central and local government that modern vegetable growing techniques dramatically reduce environmental impact,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘Over the past decade, vegetable growers across New Zealand have been taking practical steps to reduce environmental impact through precision irrigation and fertilizer application, sediment traps and buffer zones, retiring land, and riparian planting. . . 

NZ apple industry on track to become a billion dollar export business :

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the representative industry body for the apple, pear and nashi industry, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hastings today, with members joining from around the country’s growing regions via Zoom.

With NZAPI’s financial year ending 31 March 2020, the published results were for the 2019 growing season and 2019/20 selling season, meaning that they reflect trading conditions pre- COVID-19.

Gross volume for the 2019/20 crop reached 566,200 metric tonnes (mT), similar to the previous year. The proportion of the crop that is exported rose 5 percent to 395,000 mT. . . 

Resilient Ravensdown responds with strong $69m profit – returning $68 million to farming:

After ensuring essential food-creating nutrients kept flowing during the pandemic, Ravensdown has recorded a profit from continuing operations and before tax, rebate and an earlier issue of bonus shares of $69 million (2019: $52m).

Returning a total of $68 million to its eligible farmer shareholders, the co-operative is confident in its financial strength and cautiously optimistic in the face of uncertainty around Covid-19 and emerging government policy.

“The resilience demonstrated was no accident, but deliberately built over five years of steadfast focus on fundamentals and performance. It meant that we could respond when shareholders needed us most and when New Zealand needed the agsector most,” said CEO Greg Campbell. . . 


Rural round-up

31/07/2020

Lessees can be forced to cull tahr – Neal Wallace:

High-Country pastoral lessees could be drawn into the contentious tahr cull issue with plans for a population survey on Crown pastoral lease land later this year.

Federated Farmers high-country committee past chairman Simon Williamson believes lease terms will force some landowners to cull tahr.

The Conservation Department has begun a major cull in Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks but operations director Dr Ben Reddiex says it is not eradication.

“The vast majority of commercial hunting takes place on Crown pastoral lease and private land. . . 

Cotter passionate about supporting farmers in need – Janette Gellatly:

Passionate about the rural sector and people’s welfare, Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter says the best aspect of her role is being there for farmers.

‘‘Our role is to talk to farmers who are having some kind of stress and . . .to connect them with the right people to make a positive difference.’’

These could include various agencies, such as mental wellness providers, financial institutions and other rural stakeholders such as DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. ‘‘We are here to support all farmers [whether it be aquaculture or on the land] in Southland.’’ As part of its holistic approach, the trustees were also volunteers. Most have been through challenging times themselves, so could relate and understand when others were having difficulties, Mrs Cotter said.

It was about farmers helping farmers. . . 

Pilot kickstarts shearing training – Colin Williscroft:

Almost $2 million will be spent developing and delivering sustainable and integrated training for shearing and wool handling.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says $1.86m from the Provincial Growth Fund will be invested over two years to establish a pilot for the Shearing Training Model programme.

It will use micro-credentialing, earn-as-you-learn training to upskill 150 new and 120 existing shearers.

It will target school leavers, unemployed and underemployed people, career changers and those already in the industry who want to learn new skills. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk – the zombie dairy company – Brent Melville:

When it started production outside Gore in late 2018, Mataura Valley Milk was greeted with huge excitement by the Southland community, government ministers and dairy farmers alike.

The growth of infant nutritional product sales into China offered the prospect of an export bonanza.

While the growth of New Zealand-sourced dairy formula exports into China lived up to hype – growing by almost a third last year to 120,000 tonnes and generating $1.7 billion in export receipts – Mataura Valley itself was moving in the wrong direction.

It is, after all, a competitive market with well established distribution channels, dominated by Fonterra, Synlait, Danone and GMP Dairy; so growing pains were expected. . . 

Fieldays Online: 2020 Innovation Awards winners announced :

Forward-thinking Kiwis have been celebrated with the annual Fieldays Innovation Awards, with the winners announced today.

Innovation has been at the heart of Fieldays since its inception over 50 years ago, say organisers.

“It is the very reason Fieldays exists and why Fieldays Online was launched. Innovation is not easy, it requires courage and a willingness to take on risk, yet it is also fundamental to the overall sustainability of any business or industry. It is necessary if we wish to solve today’s problems and prepare the ground for solving tomorrow’s.” . . 

A farmer perspective in the boardroom – Stuart Wright:

Deputy chair of Ravensdown, Stuart Wright on why farmers should throw their hat in the ring and join board rooms.

OPINION: The phrase ‘gumboot directors’ came about in the 1970s when co-operatives like Ravensdown were created.

Originally intended as a jibe from the corporate business world, it became a badge of honour as farmer shareholders put their hand up to influence the businesses they own.

These days, New Zealand’s agri co-operatives are multi-million-dollar operations, with complex business models and risk profiles. And the governance of such organisations has never been more important. . . 


Rural round-up

19/12/2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly – 2019 in review:

As we approach another year’s end we again highlight our annual review of 2019 in the primary sector as seen by Rural News’ editorial team.

THE GOOD

Good messaging award: Dairy Women’s Network’s new chief executive Jules Benton for her clear, confident and articulate communication of the network’s aims and aspirations, but in a real and down-to-earth manner.

Celebrating success: A lot of excellent events and conferences this year with a focus on celebrating the success of old and young people. The Massey Ag students’ dinner is a great example of this where some very smart future leaders come to the fore. The same for the Ahuwhenua Awards where Maori agri success is also celebrated in style. Feds, HortNZ and the dairy industry and others all did their bit to show NZ that the ag sector is well placed for the future.  . .

Phosphate vital, industry says – Brent Melville:

With the recent spotlight on importation of phosphate sourced in the Western Sahara into New Zealand, Brent Melville takes a closer look at the phosphate issue and why we rely on it for our food production.

Blocking  the importation of phosphate into New Zealand could have a $10 billion knock-on effect into the country’s food production and export sector, the fertiliser industry says.

The industry, dominated by the farmer co-operative duopoly of Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said without access to phosphate rock, rural production would fall by “at least” 50%.

Phosphate rock is the key ingredient in the country’s production of superphosphate, used primarily as a nutrient by sheep and beef and dairy farmers to boost phosphorus and sulphur levels in the soil. . . 

Land champion: it’s hard to find time to retire – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers high country champion Bob Douglas has contributed to the smooth running of South Island high country farming businesses for 25 years but next year his visits to the back of beyond will be as a tourist. He talked to Annette Scott about his high country office.

Endless dedication to Federated Farmers high country business will come to an end for Bob Douglas in the next few weeks.

By the end of January the South Canterbury Feds stalwart will be waking each morning to a new life.

“And it will be one that will now mean when I go to the high country it will be as a tourist,” Bob said. . . 

Migrant workers worth the effort :

Waikato farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says employing migrant workers isn’t always easy but is worth the investment.

Experience has shown me what works best. I could talk about this for hours but I will summarise some of the lessons here.

Employing migrants is not the cheap option for New Zealand dairy farmers. In fact, generally, it will cost you more but it is worth it in the long run.

Firstly, you might need some professional help dealing with Immigration NZ once you’ve found a migrant worker to employ. That will generally cost you $1600-$2000. Visa fees cost about $500 . . 

Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease:

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin. . . 

EPA’s Annual Report on aerial use of 1080 released:

The 2018 report on the aerial use of 1080 for pest control provides greater detail than previous years, giving more information on operations and research.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Annual Report on the aerial use of 1080 during 2018 shows a near halving of activity compared with the previous year, in terms of both the number of operations and total area treated.

There were 29 operations covering 441,000 hectares of land, compared with 50 operations across 877,000 hectares in 2017. This was due to the Department of Conservation (DOC) using less 1080, as there were no mast events in New Zealand’s forests. Heavy seed fall seasons (known as masts) drive rat populations up, threatening native species. . . 


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