Rural round-up

16/09/2021

‘I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of’ dairy farmers under siege – Joanne Wane:

Dairying has been so demonised for damaging the planet that the children of some Kiwi farmers have been beaten up at school, writes Joanna Wane. Two families who’ve been on the land for five generations talk back.

Northland dairy farmer Hal Harding describes his daughter, Anna, as “a bit of an eco warrior”. The pair work alongside each other on land south of Dargaville that his early-settler ancestors bought back in 1877. But when Anna moved back home just before Covid struck, after a few years in Europe, she was having serious doubts about whether the life she’d been born into was on the right side of history.

“In the UK, there were plant-based cafes popping up left, right and centre,” she says. “I started to think, ‘Is that what we should be doing? Is dairying bad? Is this stuff all these people are telling me true?’ There were facts for one side, and facts for the other that were just as convincing. But it felt too easy to say, ‘Just eat plants and the planet will be saved.’ When I heard about this whole regenerative farming thing, I was like ‘Thank God’. My gut feeling landed; it felt right.”

The Hardings have hand-planted thousands of native trees to reforest parts of the property and adapted their farming practices to nurture soil health by minimising the use of pesticides and commercial fertilisers. They’re also planning to move away from the traditional grazing regime. For Anna, who’s now 30, it’s about believing that a different model of farming can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, at a time when the agricultural sector is increasingly under siege. . . 

Unskilled pruning of labour force is rotten policy :

The Government’s confirmation of the availability of Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from selected countries is not enough to fix its rotten approach to labour supply, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“Prior to the Delta Covid outbreak the Government announced the availability of RSE workers from certain countries.

“While the Government’s decision to approve some RSE workers may provide some token assistance, it won’t change the fundamental flaws in a labour supply policy that’s rotten to the core.

“For example, we see 15 per cent increases in labour costs in the kiwifruit industry, and an apple industry that still has a gap in the loss of the backpacker labour supply. . . 

Low venison prices leave farmers frustrated – Maja Burry:

A deer industry leader is worried farmers will start exiting the sector if venison prices don’t improve.

Covid-19’s impact on the restaurant trade worldwide has come as a major blow, with deer farmers now facing depressed prices for the second year in a row.

The latest figures from AgriHQ show in July 2021 venison average export values fell short of the five-year average of $13.75/kg by $3.67/kg, and was $1.28/kg below July last year.

Deer Farmers Association chairperson John Somerville said the organisation recently shared the concerns of many farmers in a letter to all of New Zealand’s venison marketing company chief executives. . . 

Meat pushes food prices to fifth successive rise:

Food prices rose 0.3 percent in August 2021 compared with July 2021, mainly influenced by higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish, and restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food, Stats NZ said today.

Though modest, August’s movement is the fifth consecutive monthly rise. After adjusting for seasonality, prices rose 0.2 in August 2021.

Meat, poultry, and fish prices were up 1.3 percent in August, mainly influenced by higher prices for roasting pork (up 11 percent), sausages (up 3.5 percent), lamb chops (up 5.4 percent), and porterhouse and sirloin steak (up 2.3 percent). This was partly offset by lower prices for chicken pieces (down 3.3 percent).

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 0.4 percent, influenced by higher prices for some takeaway food. . .

Why would you want to own a forest? – The Detail:

The forestry industry is beset by supply chain issues, port disruptions, oversupply in China, sky-high shipping rates, the Delta disaster …. and that’s before you even look at the difficulties of cutting down the trees.

On top of that the industry gets a bad rap from the rural sector for being a ‘spray and walk away’ business that’s eating up valuable grazing land, for damage done to the landscape, and for contributing to a lack of employment.

So why would anyone invest in a forest?

Forestry is not for the faint-hearted – but for the persistent, there are good rewards. . . 

Netherlands proposes radical plans to cut livestock numbers by almost a third – Senay Boztas:

Dutch farmers could be forced to sell land and reduce the amount of animals they keep to help lower ammonia pollution.

Dutch politicians are considering plans to force hundreds of farmers to sell up and cut livestock numbers, to reduce damaging ammonia pollution.

After the highest Dutch administrative court found in 2019 that the government was breaking EU law by not doing enough to reduce excess nitrogen in vulnerable natural areas, the country has been battling what it is calling a “nitrogen crisis”.

Daytime speed limits have been reduced to 100kmph (62mph) on motorways to limit nitrogen oxide emissions, gas-guzzling construction projects were halted and a new law pledges that by 2030 half of protected nature areas must have healthy nitrogen levels. . . 

 


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

04/08/2021

Family ‘farming for the next generation’ – Sally Rae:

In rural North Otago, a hard-working high-country family is working to preserve their slice of paradise for future generations. Rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Back in 2004, Dan Devine’s image went global.

After he hoisted the newly-found Shrek, the hermit merino wether discovered on Bendigo Station in Central Otago, on to his shoulders, the subsequently-snapped Otago Daily Times photograph sparked a world media frenzy.

These days, Mr Devine is managing Awakino Station near Kurow, with his partner Jaz Mathisen and their two young daughters, Ava (4) and baby Ida, who arrived in February. . . 

Plea for more government funds to push health careers to rural teenagers – Susan Murray:

The Rural General Practice Network is calling on the government to continue funding a programme promoting health careers to rural high school pupils.

A pilot project which ran for 10 months has recently ended and so far there is no ongoing commitment for Ministry of Health money.

Rural GP Network chief executive Grant Davidson said without the programme long-term health services in rural communities will continue to be in crisis.

He said short term overseas medical graduates can fill gaps, but research shows medical students from rural areas often return to their communities and stay their long term. . . 

Pacific RSE plan should have come sooner:

The Government’s plan to allow one-way quarantine-free travel for Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu is the right one but should have come much sooner, says Leader of the Opposition and National’s Pacific Peoples spokesperson Judith Collins.

“We called for a move like this back in March to allow workers from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji to New Zealand for work in our staff-stretched agricultural sector. At the time, Fiji, like Tonga and Samoa, had never had a community case of Covid-19. But, given the current outbreak in Fiji, bringing Vanuatu onboard makes sense.

“It’s a good move but it should’ve happened much, much sooner. Our agricultural sector has been crying out for workers for a long time now, and they’ve paid a heavy price for the Government’s inaction. . .

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes labour crisis relief:

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes the Government’s announcement permitting Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, to enter New Zealand without the need for managed isolation.

The decision will provide both economic relief to the Pacific Islands and alleviate the pressure felt by New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries who face extreme seasonal labour crises for harvest and pruning.

HortNZ chief executive, Nadine Tunley, says without the support of this seasonal Pacific workforce, permanent jobs held by Kiwis, and the growth of New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries, are at risk. . . 

Future-focused training key to filling labour shortages in horticulture:

New Zealand growers are exploring new online training options in an effort to help seasonal workers understand ongoing career pathways in the horticulture industry, which continues to experience a shortage of workers.

Hayden Taylor, manager of Roseburn Orchard in Central Otago, said engaging and effective training is crucial to building a sustainable labour force.

“If we focus on attracting new workers and training them well, we’ll get younger people coming in, buying in, and staying for 30 or 40 years in the industry,” he said.

Taylor began managing the 32-hectare apple orchard, which is part of CAJ Apples NZ, in May, but he has been responsible for inducting and training new staff for several months. He is keen to use all of the tools and technologies he has available to him to help new workers understand the career opportunities that exist in the industry. . . 

Northland avocado opportunity beckons:

The opportunity to invest in one of the country’s most productive avocado orchard operations has arisen, offering investors good immediate returns and positive prospects of longer-term growth in future fruit volumes.

The Broadhurst portfolio in the Far North is located in the heart of the region’s rapidly developing avocado industry and has laid the template for the region’s latest, and future, avocado development.

Bayleys salesperson Alan Kerr says Broadhurst has tipped the conventional avocado growing model on its head, and the result is an orchard capable of producing two and a half times the industry’s per hectare average yield.

“There is a combination of ideal soils, good water supply and of course the Northland climate which makes the region capable of producing some of the highest avocado yields in the world. . . 


Rural round-up

12/05/2021

Forestry conversions election promise misses its deadline – Sally Murphy:

The government has failed to meet a deadline it set itself to give local councils more control when dealing with forestry conversions.

Last year the Labour Party made a pre-election promise that it would give local councils the power to determine what classes of land could be used for forestry in the first six months of its term.

This was in response to concerns from some rural communities that too much productive land was being lost to forestry.

Last week a public meeting was held in North Otago, where the community is outraged at plans that will see a large sheep and beef farm at the head of the Kakanui River converted into a permanent carbon forest. . . 

Hawke’s Bay grower’s $600k managed isolation bill: ‘It’s a complete train wreck‘ – Sahiban Hyde :

One Hawke’s Bay fruitgrower has revealed the eye-watering cost of bringing seasonal workers into New Zealand via managed isolation, describing the situation as a “complete train wreck”.

The Government’s allocation of more spaces in managed isolation for seasonal workers has had a lukewarm reception in the region.

Monday’s announcement included space for a further 2400 workers under the RSE scheme, arriving mostly from Pacific island countries, by March.

It also included the allocation of 500 spaces a fortnight in managed isolation over the next 10 months to specific groups based on demand – mostly for skilled and critical workers. . .

Tahr control operations more collaborative but tahr plan still  but needs updating :

The Tahr Foundation is pleased that the 2021-2022 tahr control operational plan released indicates the Department of Conservation has utilised the knowledge and expertise of the hunting sector. The Tahr Foundation and other hunting organisations are trying to assist DOC target control work where it is needed most.

“Hunters are in the hills very regularly and often for extended periods,” says NZ Tahr Foundation Spokesperson Willie Duley.

“Following consecutive years of heavy culling, there are now huge variations in tahr population densities, even within the same management units. We have been able to provide DOC with information and maps that set out where tahr numbers are low and no culling is required and also where we think tahr numbers still need reducing.”

“Coupled with information from population surveys and control operations this provides a more current and comprehensive knowledge base so more informed decisions can be made each year. It simply comes down to killing the right tahr in the right place and we look forward to seeing our input included when the control operations commence” . .

New Zealand wine industry welcomes government’s decision to recommence the movement of RSE workers from the Pacific:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the Government announcement today to recommence the movement of RSE workers from the Pacific to New Zealand.

“The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry secure access to the supply of off-shore labour that we need, to ensure that we can continue to make premium quality wine. At least some of these workers will arrive in time for winter pruning, a skilled role at which they excel. This decision will benefit workers, their families and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“The projected labour shortage has been a real concern for some regions, especially Marlborough and Central Otago, and we need this additional labour supply to meet our seasonal peak demands.” . . 

Public invited to join hemp revolution:

The countdown is on for the organisers of the iHemp Summit and Expo as they prepare to put the industry on display for the general public for the first time in Rotorua this May.

The Summit, which will see industry members come together for a two day conference, is followed by a free public expo of hemp food, fibre and health products.

Billed as one of the most sustainable plants in the world, Summit organiser Richard Barge says that the uses for hemp are virtually unlimited. . . 

New 100 percent merino range available for year-round wear:

The new pure merino range at Ecowool is a brilliant blend of comfort, style, and warmth.

Ecowool is pleased to announce they are now stocking a 100% pure merino wool range, available now at ecowool.com. It joins new possum merino products for the current season.

According to Ecowool spokesperson Karen Collyer, the new range consists of wardrobe staples that are perfect for all year round, such as polo necks, crew necks, jackets, and cardigans.

“We feel investing in quality basics is key to pulling your wardrobe together,” she says. . . 


Rural round-up

11/05/2021

Primary sector exports defy challenges – Sudesh Kissun:

Primary sector exporters, take a bow.

Despite major challenges, New Zealand primary sector exports are holding up well. And it’s not just dairy products leaving our ports in droves – beef, apples, kiwifruit, wine and sheepmeat are also being shipped out.

According to BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap, NZ primary sector exports have been impressively resilient to the massive global economic shock over the past 12 months.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel points out that exporters have been facing considerable challenges – many of which are ongoing.

Critical worker shortage on dairy farmers will take a toll:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed the government’s exception announcement today shows it could not find a way to bring 500 desperately needed skilled dairy employees into the country.

Feds believes the pressure some farming families are now under, due to a severe lack of people to work on farms, is already taking a toll on stress levels, wellbeing and health.

“Farmers have been telling us for well over a year there is a real shortage of suitable dairy staff,” Federated Farmers employment and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I am getting daily calls about the labour situation and many farmers don’t know what to do for the coming season. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry welcomes Government’s decision to bring in more workers from the Pacific:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Government’s latest move to increase the flow of workers from the Pacific, in support of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. 

‘Pacific workers are an integral part of the horticulture industry’s seasonal workforce, particularly for harvest and winter pruning.  They make up the shortfall in New Zealanders while at the same time, enabling the horticulture industry to grow and employ more New Zealanders in permanent positions,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Indeed, over the past decade, the New Zealand horticulture industry has grown by 64% to $6.49 billion while in 2019, before Covid struck, more than $40 million was returned to Pacific economies through the RSE scheme.  . .

Silver Fern Farms creates opportunities for young people to succeed in the red meat industry :

Silver Fern Farms will launch their search for the future stars of the red meat industry in the coming weeks, with applications opening for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Silver Fern Farms Graduate Career Programme.

Since 2017 Silver Fern Farms has invested $130,000 to further the careers of young people through Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships, and has also placed nine young people in roles around the business in the Graduate Career Programme.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Graduate Career Programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers. . .

Alternative proteins industry has huge potential but lacks direction – report – Maja Burry:

New Zealand’s alternative proteins sector has huge potential, but is fragmented and lacks clear leadership, according to a new report.

The report was done by FoodHQ, a group which represents the country’s food innovation organisations, and was based on input from 185 people working in the broader sector. Products considered to be emerging proteins include plant-based foods and beverages, insect foods and lab-grown proteins.

FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson said while there was huge potential to meet global demand for emerging proteins, the industry faced significant challenges.

“New Zealand is currently missing a co-ordinated approach that is going to help drive some of addressing infrastructure gaps that is going to really help with the attraction and retention and development of talented scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who can really drive some of this stuff.” . .

New technology brings vegetables centre stage:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is enabling New Zealand to tap into the growing market for plant-based products, where vegetables feature as a ‘centre of the plate’ item.

A diverse range of new processed vegetable products is now available on the market, thanks to $147,000 investment from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund – and more innovation is under way.

The two-year project led by Food Nation, which kicked off in mid-2019, aimed to develop a range of plant-based ‘meat alternative’ foods using mushroom seconds and an array of other more novel plants.

One year on, it has made some exciting progress. . . 


Still not kind enough

20/04/2021

The government is giving some long overdue relief to migrant families who have been separated for more than a year:

National is pleased a solution has finally been found for some of the migrants split from their families after the Government forced them to endure more than a year of distress and uncertainty, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“News that many migrants, including our critical nurses and health workers, will finally get to hug their children and partners will be an enormous relief to them.

“New Zealand is critically short of nurses and is undertaking the biggest vaccination programme in living memory, so it’s reassuring that migrant nurses caught by a policy anomaly can now stay here and be reunited with their families.

“We can’t afford to lose the highly-skilled migrants who fill gaps in our workforce that we can’t otherwise fill. They are our doctors, our engineers, our tech experts, and our children’s mathematics teachers – we desperately need them in this country.

We need them and they need their families.

“While National welcomes today’s announcement, which is clearly the right thing to do, it is a shame the Government only acted after intense and sustained pressure from the Opposition, the media and split migrant family advocates.

“It should not have taken nurses shedding tears on the 6pm news night after night, having been separated from their babies, for the Government to act after it ignored them for months.

“Today’s move is a good start, but there is more to do. This decision won’t cover many families whose visas were being processed but had not yet been approved.

“Families still left in limbo will be deeply disappointed the Immigration Minister did not give them a roadmap to reunification.

“This overdue announcement, coming after months of pressure, shows the Labour Government does not have a clear plan for our immigration settings.

“National will continue to closely scrutinise the Government’s immigration and border response, and will continue to be the party that values and speaks up for our migrants.” 

The government is acting on its be-kind mantra, albeit belatedly, but it is not yet being kind enough.

Too many families won’t qualify for this and there are a lot of businesses desperate for workers who still can’t get them through the border.

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them.

“When the labour shortage expired last Friday, we laid off 22 staff,” he said. “There simply aren’t the tourist numbers by the time you get into April to find those people [again].” . . 

Fruit growers further south are facing the same problem:

Central Otago’s horticulture sector fears fruit may be left to rot if a labour shortage isn’t filled soon.

The region is suffering from a lack of the usual seasonal workers from the Pacific because of Covid-19 border restrictions.

Many locals who filled in for the summer fruit harvest have left for university or jobs elsewhere.

With the borders creaking open with the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble last week, horticulturists are calling for a Pacific bubble to follow.

Wine grower James Dicey said this year’s vintage would be an expensive one.

“We’ve scrapped through by the skin of our teeth,” he said, of the difficulty of finding workers to pick grapes.

“It’s going to cost us a lot more – not only the minimum wage increase, but the loss of productivity we’ve had has been a double bite. I’ve had to put extra vans on, find accommodation for staff, go to a huge extra level just to make sure we are able to secure the people we need.”

Orchards and vineyards would pay the cost of getting foreign workers into MIQ, if that was an option, but the risk was so low from the Pacific workers should just be let in, Dicey said. 

The five main countries which supplied seasonal workers – known as RSE – had few or no cases of Covid. . . 

It’s not just added stress and loss income for the businesses, less fruit and vegetables picked means less to sell. That will result in less export income for the country and higher prices for households here.

The government needs to reassess its priorities when the cast and crew of The Lion King have been allowed in but the workers needed to pick fruit and vegetables aren’t.

Its current policy is not nearly kind enough.


Rural round-up

06/04/2021

Mayor calls on government to give MIQ spots to RSE workers

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan is calling on the government to offer some of the available MIQ spaces to foreign workers.

MIQ authorities are urging people to return to New Zealand to snap up a sudden glut of vacancies for April. There have not been as many vacancies since October.

In an open letter to ministers, Cadogan said Central Otago’s horticulture industry was desperate for workers and bringing in foreigners under the seasonal employment scheme would bring huge relief.

“I am sure I do not need to draw your attention to the labour shortage we have in Central Otago in our horticultural industry and the desperate need for increased numbers of RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme workers, but I do need to emphasise that things here are getting worse not better,” Cadogan’s letter said. . . 

Continued threat to NZ from severely impacted global supply chains:

  • As an open market economy, NZ is attractive to dumpers
  • Remedies available to local businesses and industries

Potatoes are not the only industry at risk from disrupted overseas businesses looking to dump cheap products in New Zealand, but the tools are there to ensure a level playing field for local businesses.

The longer the Covid-19 pandemic goes on across the world, the greater the risk to New Zealand markets from products imported and sold here at prices below the market price in their country of origin, according to a specialist advisor working with local interests on current anti-dumping cases.

Simon Crampton is assisting Potato New Zealand with its anti-dumping case and believes that other New Zealand industries and businesses are at risk of destabilisation from dumped products as the result of continuing turmoil in global supply chains, amongst other reasons. . . 

Fonterra to end coal use in factories by 2037 – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra has backed the Climate Change Commission’s decarbonisation pathway to lower industrial emissions by pledging to replace its coal and natural gas to fuel its processing factories with wood biomass by 2037.

Its submission to the commission’s advice to the Government on how to achieve zero emissions by 2050 acknowledged the difficulties in meeting such a target, calling it “ambitious” and “challenging”.

It pointed out that the nature of New Zealand dairy farmers’ milk supply curve gave it an extremely narrow window in which it can undertake changes to its factories.

“Over a six to eight-week period, we go from collecting around four million litres of milk a day to around 82 million litres a day. All of our sites must be working close to full capacity to cope with this volume,” it said. . . 

Silver Fern Farms responds to dynamic global trading environment with strong performance:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $32.4m for the 2020 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $65.4m in the same period.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2020 year is a strong result built off the skill and expertise of its people who navigated the company through a period of considerable uncertainty.

“The performance of the operating company in 2020 was truly commendable across a range of areas. Most important was how they put the health and welfare of their people first. In doing so they set a platform of trust and shared commitment from their staff to stand up as essential workers to service our regional communities, and to service our global consumers.” . . 

Awanui orchard offers step straight into market:

A large scale, well established avocado orchard in the Northland region offers the opportunity for an investor to enjoy immediate returns from the high value sector as demand continues to expand for the fruit.

Awanui orchard near Sweetwater represents 20 years of commitment from its original owner and founder, American-Kiwi Jerry Trussler.

Jerry’s far-sighted vision for the sector had him establish the 36-canopy hectare orchard at a time when the fledgling industry was distinguished by significantly smaller orchards. The entire land area comprises 79ha across an attractive, rolling block. . . .

California relocates mountain lions making a meal of endangered sheep :

Drastic steps taken to protect the Sierra Nevada’s 600 bighorn sheep after another charismatic species developed a taste for them

In order to save one endangered species, California scientists are having to relocate another iconic creature that is, regrettably, eating it.

The California department of fish and wildlife is in the process of moving mountain lions over 100 miles away from struggling populations of bighorn sheep, which are unique to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The herbivores were first listed as endangered in 1999, when their population was estimated at only 125 individuals, according to researchers.

“There’s no expectation that any of the lions we move are going to stay where we put it, regardless of age or sex,” acknowledged Danny Gammons, an environmental scientist for the sheep recovery program. “The goal is to get it away from bighorn sheep.” . . 


Rural round-up

03/02/2021

DairyNZ: Climate Commission lays out challenge :

Industry body DairyNZ says the Climate Change Commission’s new report is a welcome acknowledgement of a split gas approach and that methane does not need to reduce to net zero.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the Commission’s science-based approach is ambitious and challenging for all of New Zealand and farming is no exception.

Dr Mackle said the Climate Change Commission proposals and underlying assumptions will be closely examined over the next few weeks, in particular the biogenic methane targets and advice on reducing stock numbers.

“The short-term 2030 and 2035 methane targets are ambitious, making the next 10-15 years the most important for adapting farm systems and investment in research and development solutions  for agriculture,” said Dr Mackle. . .

Whaling a most unhelpful analogy:

“Climate Commission chair Rod Carr’s suggestion that New Zealand farmers could go the way of the whalers is an extremely unhelpful start to the six week consultation of his draft carbon emissions budget,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Asked on radio this morning whether the Commission accepted that New Zealand farmers already produce the lowest carbon-impact beef and dairy in the world, Dr Carr said ‘Given the way we produce it that is true, but being the best whale hunters in the world didn’t protect the whaling fleets.’

“To use as an analogy an industry that wasn’t only unsustainable but which has been outlawed in most jurisdictions because the vast majority of the world considers it to be morally reprehensible is extremely unhelpful.

“This sort of rhetoric risks taking us back to a sort of ‘them and us’ stand-off between farmers and the environmental lobby. . . 

Climate report set up fight over herd sizes – Mark Daalder:

The Climate Change Commission wants the primary sector to reduce livestock herds to reduce emissions, but some farmers aren’t so keen, Marc Daalder reports

The Climate Change Commission proved its independence on Sunday when it broke a political taboo in proposing one way to reduce methane emissions from the agricultural sector: Have fewer cows.

While the Commission estimated current policy settings would already lead to an eight to 10 percent reduction in the size of the national cow – and sheep – herds by 2030, it said something on the order of 15 percent would be crucial for meeting emissions reduction targets.

At issue is the thorny problem of biogenic methane, which is produced by decomposing organic matter (the waste sector is responsible for 10 percent of biogenic methane emissions) and the natural digestive processes of ruminant animals, including cows, sheep and goats (the other 90 percent).  . . 

Fonterra lifts its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today lifted its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to NZD $6.90 – $7.50 per kgMS, up from NZD $6.70 – $7.30 per kgMS.

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $7.20 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the lift in the 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range is a result of strong demand for dairy, which is demonstrated by the continued increase in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices since the Co-op last revised its milk price at the beginning of December.

“In particular, we’ve seen strong demand from China and South East Asia for whole milk powder (WMP) and skim milk powder (SMP), which are key drivers of the milk price. . . 

Surge in demand sees AWDT double intake :

A leading governance and leadership programme for primary sector women is doubling its 2021 intake in response to surging demand from aspiring female leaders across New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors, and rural communities.

The Next Level programme is researched, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) and runs across two North Island and two South Island intakes in 2021.

“Offering Next Level more widely is a response to the change in mindset of many primary sector women. They are recognising their value as leaders and choosing to step up as agents of positive change, without the need for permission or position,” AWDT general manager Lisa Sims said.

The six-month programme takes a strength-based approach, empowering women to understand their leadership style, define their personal “why” and design their roadmap to making a positive impact for the people and places they care about. . . 

Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers will arrive in New Zealand next week

Around 900 Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers will soon travel to New Zealand for work under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

Last November, the New Zealand government granted a border exception for up to 2000 experienced Pacific Island RSE workers to address labour shortages.

Local media in Vanuatu report that of the quota for the Pacific, Ni-Vanuatu make up 45 percent of the RSE labour for the February to March intake. . . 

Well-established avocado orchard with huge expansion potential placed on the market for sale :

A well-established and highly-productive avocado orchard in the heart of Whangarei’s foremost avocado growing district – and with the potential to double its production capacity – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 40.1-hectare property at Maungatapere on the western outskirts of Whangarei sits in a volcanic soil valley which was once a dairy and beef farming strong-hold, but is now Whangarei’s most concentrated conglomeration of avocado orchards due to the location’s deep fertile volcanic soil base.

The generally rectangular-shaped orchard for sale at 38 Kokopu Block Road features 10 blocks planted with 1,566 Hass on Zutano rootstock currently under production. Replacement clonal trees have also been planted to fill in all the gaps, and will further boost production over the coming seasons. . . 


Rural round-up

20/12/2020

Why banning RSE workers here won’t improve wages for local agricultural workers – Eric Crampton:

They thought banning migrant farm labour would boost wages for native-born farm workers. They were wrong. And New Zealand may be getting ready to repeat their mistake.

On December 31, 1964, the United States ended the bracero agreements between the US and Mexico, after two years of tightened restrictions. The agreements, which began in 1942, regulated the movement of lower-skilled migrant labour – particularly for seasonal agricultural work. By the early 1960s, about half a million Mexican farm workers migrated to American farms for seasonal agricultural work on contracts lasting from six weeks to six months.

The Kennedy administration believed that the bracero agreements reduced American farm labour wages. It also did not help that the senior commissioner in the Department of Labour investigation of the bracero programme was a eugenicist who believed Mexicans were genetically inferior. . .

How $2 a punnet of strawberries is bad for kiwi growers

A punnet of strawberries for $2 at the supermarket may be a bargain for consumers, but it’s “particularly painful” for Kiwi growers, Michael Ahern says.

“Growers are not happy at all, in fact some of them are opening up their gardens to pick-your-own early to find some way to gain recovery by keeping costs down,” Ahern, who is executive manager for Strawberry Growers New Zealand, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“That’s not the way they want to do it – but they’re professional growers and they want normal, orthodox channels to market on a weekly basis.”

“They’re big boys and girls and they can suck it up to a certain extent – but this one is particularly painful.” . .

Agility key to Alliance success board chair says – Louise Steyl:

Agility is Alliance Group’s biggest strength as it battles trade issues around the world, board chairman Murray Taggart says.

Apart from the obvious impacts of Covid-19, issues like Great Britain exiting the European Union posed potential export risks, he said.

“Trade relationships always wax and wane.”

But the Chinese market remained the meat processing co-operative’s most important market. . .

A gut feeling backed by science – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Sheep breeding has become a science, and with technology and stock management, these three elements have combined in the sheep breeder of today.

For South Otago farmer Garth Shaw, it began with the Coopworth, the result of crossing the Romney and Border Leicester, developed at Lincoln College as a dual-purpose breed in 1950.

The Shaws began farming at Wharetoa, which means strong house in Maori, near Clydevale in 1966. They started breeding Coopworth rams in 1975.

“We have always run a commercial flock alongside our stud flock and have used the commercial flock to benchmark as new breeds and markets become available and also to test our genetic progress within a commercial setting,” Mr Shaw said. . . 

Shift from town to country rewarding:

Nicky Tily works with up to 4000 pigs — and loves every minute of it.

Ms Tily (23), who grew up in urban Christchurch and worked in the food service sector, is now a junior stockperson.

“Pigs are so intelligent. I enjoy everything about the job.”

She had always liked the idea of working with animals or on a farm and considered a career in vet nursing. However, having completed a six-month course, gaining a National Certificate in Animal Husbandry, she decided against vet nursing.

Her first job in the farming sector was with Mapua stud at Southbridge, which included a sheep stud, dairy grazing, cropping and a 120 sow outdoor piggery. She enjoyed all of the work, but particularly working with the pigs. . . 

Picking a poinsettia – Heather Barnes:

Poinsettias may traditionally be red, but as I learned on a recent visit to Homewood Nursery and Garden Center, these holiday decorating staples come in many colors.

Unlike many flowering shrubs (yes, poinsettia is a shrub), their color doesn’t come from the flowers.  The colorful part is a bract, or modified leaf.  

I have a cat who loves to eat plants, so I’ve never bought poinsettias because I thought they were poisonous.  I thought wrong. The American Veterianary Medical Assocaition says they can cause a skin irriation but rates them a lower risk than other holiday plants. While people shouldn’t eat them either, Poison Control says the plant “can be irritating but it is not fatal if eaten.”  The sap can cause a skin rash on people wo are allergic to latex, since both have some of the same proteins. . .

 


Rural round-up

17/12/2020

RSE MIQ & WTF – Eric Crampton:

Late last month, the government announced it would allow 2000 seasonal workers into New Zealand’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine system on Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme, with workers to arrive from January to March 2021. 

There’s just so much that’s backward in all of this.

The RSE scheme is open to workers from the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The most recent World Health Organization COVID-19 situation report for the Western Pacific notes that the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu have not reported a case to date – as of 25 November. Since then, Samoa has had two positive cases caught at their border. . . 

A Christmas message of thanks from Federated Farmers:

Before Federated Farmers farewells 2020, it wants to salute and thank some generally unsung heroes.

“We all got used to talking about clusters of infection with Covid-19, but in another sense that word cluster is somewhat apt for the entire year,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard says.

“It could have been a lot worse for our export-earning primary industries were it not for the dedication and doggedness of a large number of people in supporting services.”

First up, Federated Farmers thanks the truckies, milk tanker drivers and others in the freight industry for working through the roller-coaster of alert levels to keep supplies coming to farms, and produce getting on the road to markets. . . 

Otago leads trend to larger lamb crop – Sally Rae:

Otago has been the major driver of a lift in lambs born in the South Island this year, with the region recording a 3.9% increase in total lamb crop.

Beef+Lamb New Zealand has released its annual lamb crop outlook report which measured lambing performance and forecasts lamb and sheep exports for 2021.

Nationally, sheep farmers achieved a near-record 130.3% lambing percentage, despite Covid-19 related processing restrictions and widespread drought in the first half of 2020. That was only slightly lower than spring 2019 where 131% was achieved, the report said.

Lamb and sheep export volumes were expected to be more significantly impacted by the follow-on impacts of the drought, due to lower animal weights and the retention of sheep for breeding to rebuild stock numbers. . . 

Farmer bank pressure drops but so do satisfaction rates:

Fewer farmers are feeling undue pressure from their bank but satisfaction rates continue to slide, according to the Federated Farmers November Banking Survey.

Of the 1,341 farmers who responded to the survey independently run by ResearchFirst, 65.4% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their bank relationship.  That’s down from 68.5% from the Feds’ survey in May.

“Satisfaction has steadily slipped over the past three years – in our November 2017 survey it was 80.8%,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“That’s probably no great surprise.  Banks have been trying to reduce their exposure to agricultural lending as it is considered ‘risky’, including by the Reserve Bank.   Banks put the pressure on farmers to reduce their debt when commodity prices are good to put them into a better position to weather the next downturn, and there is also a trend by banks to diversify agricultural lending from dairy to other sectors, especially horticulture. . . 

Commission publishes final report on Fonterra’s 2020/21 milk manual:

The Commerce Commission today published its final report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Farmgate Milk Price Manual for the 2020/21 dairy season (Manual), which contains Fonterra’s methodology for calculating its base milk price.

This year’s review focused on the changes Fonterra has made to the Manual since last year. These include moving the responsibility to independently review certain aspects of the milk price calculation to the Milk Price Group, and the introduction of the ability to apply the outcome of a ‘Within-Period Review’ to the year in which the review is undertaken.

The findings of the final report are unchanged from the draft released in October. . . 

Lamb losses, carcase downgrades costing farmers millions of dollars – Andrew Miller:

Cat-dependent diseases could be costing sheep producers in Tasmania up to $2 million a year, with the state being one of two significant hotspots for the pathogens in Australia.

Scientists from the Threatened Species Recovery Hub found the effects of four pathogens, including Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis gigantea, caused a range of animal health impacts, including spontaneous abortions, still births, neonatal deaths and visible cysts, in meat.

They found SA, particularly Kangaroo Island, and Tasmania, were the two Australian hotspots for the pathogens. . . 


Rural round-up

14/12/2020

Environmental Protection Authority releases annual report on aerial use of 1080 :

The latest annual report on aerial use of 1080 has been released, showing that while use of the pest control poison increased in 2019, new research into alternatives is continuing.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report, titled 1080 use in Aotearoa New Zealand 2019, showed there were 44 aerial operations covering 918,000 hectares of land.

Aerial operations rose due to a mega-mast event in 2019, where beech seed, tussock seed, or podocarp fruit flower at once in forests, dropping seed and driving rat populations up, which then threaten native species.

However, according to the report, the average application rate was just above three grams of 1080 per hectare, which equates to roughly one teaspoonful of 1080 on a rugby field. This is well below the maximum allowable rate of 30 grams per hectare, the report stated. . . 

Working on an orchard – how hard could it be? – Marty Sharpe:

So how hard is it really to pick fruit?

It’s a topical question, what with the horticultural sector crying out for workers in light of their regular labour force drying up.

Covid-19 has meant the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme has been slashed and backpackers are scarce.This has led the sector to implore Kiwis to have a crack at working in the fields.

In a quest to get an idea of just how hard this could be, I arranged to spend a sweltering Wednesday this past week on an orchard just outside Hastings. . . 

Time to cut the No 8 wire concept – Peter Burke:

Scottie Chapman says New Zealanders should stop extolling the virtues of the No 8 wire concept.

The head of Spring Sheep Dairy says the No 8 wire concept was a success story of our past when, because of travel times, NZ was a long way from everywhere and we had to find a way to improvise

However, Chapman believes the link to improvisation in the form of the No 8 wire concept – from the past to the way we operate today with modern technology and transport – is completely wrong.

“The No 8 concept was important 150 years ago because it helped get us where we are today,” he told Dairy News. . .

Passion for chasing sheep key trait – Matthew Mckew:

Walter Peak High Country Farm rural operations co-ordinator Peter Hamilton is in the business of showing the public what the working dog can do.

His demonstrations educate people on the rich agricultural heritage of the country and display how dogs help keep the economy moving.

Mr Hamilton got his first dog — Sprite — when he was just 12, and has worked with the short-haired English collie since then.

Sprite is no longer able to get over the fence and chase the sheep, but she still watched from the sidelines. . . 

 

Kudos for landmark fertility research :

Ground-breaking collaborative research into improving dairy fertility genetics has been recognised in the annual Kudos Awards.

The Improving Dairy Fertility Genetics research project has determined new ways to select inherently fertile cows and that genetic selection for cow fertility will improve herd reproduction.

The project is part of DairyNZ’s Pillars of a New Dairy System research, which has funding from DairyNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Additional support comes from AgResearch, LIC, CRV Ambreed and AbacusBio. . .

Fewer anti-drug laws lets cannabis research gather pace :

Cannabis research and genetic improvements are gathering pace thanks to new genomic technologies, combined with fewer restrictive laws governing cultivation, research and use of the plant, according to a La Trobe University study.

In their paper published in New Phytologist, researchers from the La Trobe Institute of Agriculture and Food, home for the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub), reviewed international studies of cannabis genomics and identified significant gaps in the research.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Mathew Lewsey said cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants believed to have unique medicinal properties, but for decades research into identifying those properties had been restricted by anti-drug laws.

“These rules have meant that while our understanding of the basic biology and properties of other crop species has advanced through the use of genomics for example, our knowledge of cannabis has lagged,” Lewsey, who is Deputy Director of the ARC MedAg Hub, said. . . 


Rural round-up

09/12/2020

Natural fibres could be a game changer – Annette Scott:

The launch of a new natural fibre company is set to re-emerge wool and hemp to the forefront of a global sea-change in consumer preference.

In a move to innovate for a greener tomorrow, NZ Yarn, a subsidiary of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), and hemp processing company Hemp NZ have joined forces to create New Zealand D a natural fibres and materials business with global ambitions.

NZNF chair Craig Carr says the new company is aiming to be a pioneer in the global natural fibres revolution.

Products will be made from renewable NZ-grown hemp and wool, as well as blends of the two fibres using proprietary technology to prototype, produce and market a wide range of consumer and industrial options. . . 

How do we brand differently? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The marketers are telling us that they have no choice – but to pursue it.

Big names like Danone, Cargill and Walmart are all trying to show they are being environmentally responsible by sourcing regenerative agriculture (RA) products. Danone is planting trees to offset activities. Cargill is encouraging farmers to move from permanent cropping monocultures in areas bigger than most New Zealand farms to no-till rotations. Walmart is aiming for ‘beyond sustainability’ across its supply chain – including agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

To support the move, environmental auditors are growing in number. . . 

Getting off the land and into the waves – Rebecca Ryan:

North Otago and South Canterbury farmers are being encouraged to get off their farms and into the waves this summer.

Surfing for Farmers, a mental health initiative which helps farmers manage stress by teaching them to surf, started in Gisborne in 2018. It has since spread to 15 other locations across the country, and will launch in Kakanui at Campbells Bay on December 9.

Surfing for Farmers founder Stephen Thomson got the idea from the Netflix documentary Resurface, about US soldiers with PTSD using surfing to help their rehabilitation.

He secured some sponsorship from local businesses, found a surfing instructor and put the word out to local farmers. . . 

Proposal to bring bubbles of 300 RSE workers to Hastings for managed isolation – Marty Sharpe:

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is considering a proposal to turn a former Hastings motel into a Managed Isolation and Quarantine facility specifically for 300-strong bubbles of returning fruit pickers from the Pacific Islands.

The proposal was included in a plan submitted by Hawke’s Bay councils and local horticultural and viticultural industries to the government last month.

The industry and councils are concerned about the huge shortage of workers and the “significant social and economic impact for New Zealand and the Hawke’s Bay region”.

The RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme usually brings in 14,000 workers. The government has agreed to allow 2000 workers in under strict conditions. These would add to the 5000 still in the country, meaning there would be roughly half the usual number of RSE workers for the upcoming picking season. . . 

‘Meat the Need’ way for farmers to help most vulnerable – Sally Rae:

Farmers feed people.

That, as West Coast dairy farmer Siobhan O’Malley succinctly puts it, is their job. And, in the case of “Meat the Need”, the charity she co-founded, farmers are helping feed those particularly in need.

Last month, Mrs O’Malley and Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford received the industry champion award at the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards for Meat the Need, which kicked off during the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Originally focused on supplying meat to City Missions and foodbanks, Meat the Need receives meat given by farmers, which is then processed and packed by Silver Fern Farms and delivered. . . 

 

What if the United States stopped eating meat? – Frank Mitloehner:

If Americans’ gave up meat and other animal products, would that solve our climate crisis? Research says no. In fact, it continues to demonstrate giving up meat would be a woefully inadequate solution to the problem of global warming and distracts us from more impactful mitigation opportunities.

But that’s not what certain people, companies, and news outlets would have you believe. Businesses invested in plant-based alternatives and lab-grown meat continue to exaggerate the impact of animal agriculture in efforts to convert meat-eaters to their products, mostly in the name of environmental health. But if Americans choose to forgo meat, it would have a minimal and short-term impact on the climate.

In 2017, Professors Mary Beth Hall and Robin White published an article regarding the nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from U.S. agriculture. Imagining for a moment that Americans have eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they concluded such a scenario would lead to a reduction of a mere 2.6 percent in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the United States. Subscribing to Meatless Monday only would bring about a 0.3 percent decrease in GHG emissions, again in the U.S. A measurable difference to be sure, but far from a major one.

As an aside, the solely plant-based agriculture hypothesized by Professors Hall and White would result in various negative results, economic and nutritional among them. For example, we would be able to produce 23 percent more food by volume, but the plant-based food would fall short of delivering essential nutrients to the U.S. population, they concluded. . . 

 


Rural round-up

29/11/2020

RSE deal too little too late:

The Government’s announcement it’s allowing 2000 horticultural workers enter New Zealand through the RSE scheme is better than nothing, but it’s still just a drop in the bucket of what is actually needed, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Overall this is a poor deal for New Zealand’s horticulture industry, for New Zealand, and for the RSE workers themselves. Firstly, 2000 workers is not enough, it’s less than one seventh of quota (which is more than 14,000) of RSE workers the sector would normally have available to pick these key export products.

“Secondly, it’s far too little and far too late. Spring and early summer crops have already missed out on these workers, but the Government has known about these problems for months, and is only acting at the eleventh hour.

“The time has come to allow RSE workers from Pacific countries to isolate in bubbles in RSE accommodation, like sports teams, provided by the industry. The countries where these RSE workers come from are Covid-free so there is little to no risk of transmission in transit as workers will come direct to New Zealand. . . 

Government’s seasonal workers move ‘not enough, but a good start’ – Charlotte Cook:

An influx of seasonal workers is a relief for the horticulture and wine industries with the government giving a border exemption to 2000 seasonal workers.

The experienced workers will begin arriving from the Pacific in January and will spend two weeks in isolation before starting the harvest.

So after months of angst, the horticulture and wine sector will get some of the seasonal workers they are desperate for.

But they come with a cost. Employers must first pay for managed isolation – currently estimated at $4722 per person and pay at least $22.10 an hour – the living wage. . .

Farrow crate use ‘saves piglets’ lives’ – Sally Rae:

Former New Zealand Pork chairman Ian Carter is saddened by a High Court ruling that the use of farrowing crates is unlawful, saying they save “millions” of piglets globally every year.

Animal welfare groups Safe and the New Zealand Animal Law Association took the Attorney-general, the Minister of Agriculture and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to court in June saying the use of farrowing and mating crates breached the Animal Welfare Act 1999, RNZ reported.

In its decision, the court said the agriculture minister must consider new regulations phasing out the use of farrowing crates and mating stalls, and improve minimum standards.

Mr Carter, who farms in North Otago, said no other system got close to meeting the needs of farmed pigs. He estimated farrowing crates could save more than 200 piglets a day in New Zealand if they were universally used. . . 

Dairying family reaps rewards from robots :

Manawatū dairy farmers Amy and Greg Gemmell are enjoying more family time these days, thanks to three shiny machines in their dairy shed.

No longer does Greg need to be out of the house before dawn to milk the herd as they have installed robots to do that chore 24/7.

The cows come to the dairy shed whenever they feel like it to be milked.

“They come in when they’re ready,” Amy says. . . 

A swing to sheep milk:

Switching from milking goats and cows to milking sheep has been likened to swimming three lengths underwater by Te Aroha dairy goat and cow farmer Paul Schuler.

He is one of four Waikato based farmers that this season have taken on milking sheep for Maui Milk.

Come June, as his new sheep were about to arrive on the former cow farm, he was still completing  a milking shed and fixing fences.

Covid slowed developement down, but Schuler says the ram didn’t know that. His lambs were going to arrive on time. . . 

Researchers make wheat genome breakthrough – Gregor Heard:

Just two years after the bread wheat genome was finally mapped for the first time, a crack team of international scientists, including researchers from the University of Western Australia, have sequenced and analysed the genomes of 16 key wheat varieties from around the globe.

The research, including varieties that represent different breeding programs from around the world, provides the most comprehensive atlas of wheat genome sequences reported to date.

The genomic study, published in Nature Journal by the University of Saskatchewan, involved an international effort by more than 90 scientists from universities and institutes in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Israel, and the U.S. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

09/11/2020

Coal burner ban could lead to rise in imported food – Horticulture New Zealand – Tracy Neal:

New Zealand may need to import more food if it bans coal boilers too soon, crop, meat and dairy producers say.

The industries regularly use coal fired heat to grow, clean, and manufacture food.

Dairy giant Fonterra stood apart from others in the food sector, saying it supported a ban on all new coal boilers. It also supported a transition period for phasing out existing boilers, especially those that produced low and medium heat, but acknowledged that it needed to align with availability of alternative energy sources.

It was in the same camp as environmental groups who favour a move away from using fossil fuels as a heat source. . . .

Slim pickings for apples – Sudesh Kissun:

Labour supply remains the top concern as the apple harvesting season approaches, says ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

She says the horticultural sector is extremely worried about finding sufficient labour to pick and pack the new season’s harvest.

“The ability to access critical workers through the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme remains very uncertain and there will be significantly fewer backpackers looking for work this summer,” she says.

“There is little doubt that more New Zealanders will be employed, but it is extremely unlikely there will be sufficient locals available to fulfil these physically demanding roles.” . . .

Vets in short supply – Peter Burke:

Julie South, whose company VetStaff specialises in recruiting veterinarians, says there is a shortage of vets in New Zealand and that this has been compounded by Covid-19.

South told Rural News that even before Covid there was a shortfall in the number of vets in NZ. However, she says the closing of the border to experienced overseas candidates has made things worse and prospective candidates can’t get visas.

According to South, most of the vets that she recruits come from Ireland, the UK and South Africa. But she says others have come from places such as South America, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and Europe.  . .

Hope rural sector’s value remains recognised :

The election result has delivered a historic and resounding result, for the first time under New Zealand’s MMP system a government has a mandate to rule outright without having to seek a coalition partner.

While the shift to Labour may have been somewhat expected in the more urban electorates, what was most surprising to many was the unprecedented wave of red votes that washed through largely rural seats.

These included long time National electorates of East Coast, Wairarapa and Rangitata, while in almost every electorate the party vote percentage flipped from National to Labour, typically by 20-25 percentage points.
For the rural sector, the confidence expressed in Labour to date will need to be maintained to prove the switch to red in the provinces has not just been a strategic move to shut out the Green party from a coalition government. . . 

Top ram breeder’s offer of a lifetime – Hugh Stringleman:

More than 70 years of sheep breeding comes to an end for Northland’s Gordon Levet when his best rams and ewes will be sold this summer. Hugh Stringleman reports.

SHEEP bred for worm resistance is the Holy Grail quest that has energised Gordon Levet for the past 35 years, which is about half of his working lifetime on Kikitangeo, the family farm near Wellsford first settled by his grandfather in 1874.

His objective has been to breed sheep with strong, quickly responsive immune systems, which will ensure survival and productivity, particularly in less challenging environments further south. . . 

Developing North Australia. What would China Do? – Carolyn Blacklock:

While Australia’s relationship with China has its ups and downs, this is just a symptom of geo-political realignment, and from this Australia needs to be pragmatic and take advantage of opportunities while not compromising our own interests.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call for a global investigation into the origins and outbreak of the coronavirus sparked heated exchanges.

This was the right call as the Australian economy reels from impacts of the pandemic, and there is an overwhelming necessity to be better prepared if and when a future viral health threat emerges.

The arrest and detention of Australian journalists, ruthless trade sanctions and tariffs targeting our beef, wine, seafood and barely exports, and dispute over Huawei’s participation in the 5G network, are all part of the bluster and tit-for-tat rhetoric. . . 


Rural round-up

10/10/2020

Prime Minister woefully ignorant on livestock emissions:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has displayed glaring ignorance about the impact of livestock biological greenhouse gas emissions on global warming in the latest leaders’ debate.

The Prime Minister stated that agriculture contributes 48 % of our total emissions to justify her position that these emissions are a problem.

What Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern does not realise is that cyclical carbon emissions from livestock are not comparable or equivalent to non cyclical carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel. Non cyclical carbon emissions add to the greenhouse effect by increasing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gas while cyclical carbon emissions do not. Just because it is claimed livestock carbon emissions make up 48% of our emissions it does not mean they are 48% of the problem because most of them are cyclical and atmospherically neutral. The 48% figure is also now debunked by leading IPCC scientists. . . 

Government nixes call for fruit pickers to be let into New Zealand, for now

The Minister of Immigration is adamant the government will not let overseas workers cut corners through border controls to fix a horticulture labour shortage.

Growers around the country are facing a crisis like they’ve never seen before.

Usually, about 14,000 workers come in to the country to work the apple season, taking part in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

But there’s only about six thousand in the country from last season, and not all of them want to stay in New Zealand. . .

Shearing her knowledge – Mavis Mullins – Suzanne McFadden :

In the first of three Q&As with keynote speakers from the Sport NZ Women + Girls Summit this week, Suzanne McFadden chats with Mavis Mullins, who’s as comfortable with the buzz of the boardroom as she is with the buzz of sheep clippers. 

A two-time national champion wool handler and the first female president of the world’s most prestigious shearing event, the Golden Shears, Mavis Mullins is also an agribusiness icon and an influential Māori leader.

She started her working life in her family’s shearing business, Paewai Mullins Shearing – which dates back to her grandfather, All Black Invincible Lui Paewai – and grew it to handling two million sheep a year.

After raising four children, Mullins built up an outstanding commercial and governance portfolio, and helped negotiate the treaty settlement of her iwi, Rangitāne. . . 

Innovative wintering research launches in Southland :

Southern dairy farmers will have a front-row seat in designing, approving and testing a new wintering system in Southland.

Invercargill’s Southern Dairy Hub research farm is hosting a new project that will take an innovative, cost-effective wintering system into a full on-farm trial in 2022. The research is the first time this infrastructure has been trialled in New Zealand.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the project is researching two concepts for uncovered structures where cows are kept during winter.

“As well as being effective for the environment and animal wellbeing, the infrastructure needs to be good for people working in it and cost-effective for farmers,” said Mr Mackle. “Investing in new systems and infrastructure is a big decision and cost. This work will not only stress-test the solutions, but also put farmers and their animals at the centre. . .

Sheep milk demand soars – Sudesh Kissun:

Sheep milk company Maui Milk is looking for new farmer suppliers as demand soars.

The company has taken on four new independent suppliers in Waikato this season to complement milk from its own farms.

Maui Milk general manager operations Peter Gatley says the company needs a lot more milk to satisfy demand from Danone for its Karicare brand sheep infant formula.

One of the new conversions is a greenfield site development on a sheep farm; others involve fitting out existing herringbone sheds on dairy farms.  . . 

Tatua payout tops – again! – Sudesh Kissun:

Small Waikato milk processor Tatua has done it again.

The cooperative has declared a 2019-20 season final payout of $8.70/kgMS, after retentions, to its farmer shareholders.

Tatua has continuously topped the milk payout chart over the last decade, leaving bigger players like Fonterra and Open Country Dairy in its wake.

Fonterra’s final payout for last season is $7.19/kgMS, $1.51 less than Tatua. OCD’s final payout hasn’t been made public yet. . . 

Tourism worker left without job sees future in horticulture industry :

A displaced tourism worker says he has no regrets about switching the office for an orchard.

After 18 years in the tourism industry, the impact of Covid-19 left Papamoa-based Geoff Rawlings out of work. In June this prompted him to take up a job in a completely new field, horticulture.

Geoff Rawlings, who is pruning and planting kiwifruit in Matapihi, recently became involved in the Ministry for Primary Industries campaign Opportunity Grows Here. The campaign is trying to attract thousands of New Zealanders to fill the gaps in the primary sector created by Covid-19 border restrictions.

Rawlings said he had spent his entire career in tourism and while it had its ups and downs, including the global financial crisis, this was the first time he had ever felt that it would take a long time to get back up. . . 


Rural round-up

20/09/2020

Imminent crisis threatens Central Otago fruit exports:

Central Otago fruit growers support their industry’s call for urgent action from Government to address the looming shortage of horticultural workers, says Ettrick Fruit Growers Association Chairman, Peter Vernon. Last week, New Zealand Apples and Pears raised concerns that the $870 million dollar apple industry will be at risk if a seasonal workforce is not assembled.

The New Zealand horticulture sector usually hosts more than 14,000 workers from the Pacific Islands for up to seven months to strengthen the workforce on local orchards and vineyards. The New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme was established in 2007 by Helen Clark’s Labour government. The RSE scheme is viewed internationally as a best practise model in social responsibility for labour mobility. The Central Otago region employs up to 5,000 temporary staff at the peak of the season for apple, apricot and cherry work, comprising New Zealand and RSE workers, plus working holiday visa holders. Labour planning shows that even with the numbers of recently unemployed New Zealanders now available, there will simply not be enough suitable people to fill all the seasonal roles needed . . 

Rural road-users heading for potholes – Feds:

Rural road users are in for a continued bumpy ride with no extra money for local road improvements in the final Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2021.

“The final GPS released this week has investment in local road improvements unchanged from the draft at an upper level of $300 million down to as low as $100 million in 2021/22, and steadily declining each year for the decade after,” Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

“However, it is pleasing to see increases in local road maintenance and renewal, with a forecast range of $650m-$760m next financial year, and slow but steady increases thereafter.”

Central and local government share the costs of upgrading local roads, which includes most rural roads. With councils under heavy financial pressure, there has been considerable under-investment, Karen said. . . 

Family shares the shearing – Yvonne O’Hara:

When Colin “Mouse” O’Neill first considered setting up as a shearing contractor five years ago, he knew it was a big risk, and he had his family’s future at stake.

Mr O’Neill, of Alexandra, has worked in shearing sheds since he was 12 and has been shearing professionally and competitively for 27 years.

His parents, Marie and Terry, worked in the woolsheds and his grandparents were orchardists in Alexandra, where O’Neill Cres is now. . .

On the farm – a wrap of farming conditions around New Zealand:

Our contact in Northland says it’s unusually dry. Feed is short usually at the end of winter, but it’s come six weeks earlier than normal. It’s affecting the market for cattle as farmers are careful about what they’re buying. Dairy farmers are at the tail end of calving while beef farmers are 50 to 60 percent of the way through.

Around Pukekohe it’s been dry and breezy. The wind  made it tricky to spread lime and fertiliser and spray crops. Work activity and crop growth could best be described as “steady”.  It’s probably been busier in kiwifruit orchards with their shelter belts receiving an annual trim.

It cooled down a little bit in Waikato this week and grass growth rates have tapered off in response, but farmers have either supplements on hand or a bank of feed still to rely on. With calving ending, they’re catching up on jobs before the start of mating next month. . . 

Heading back to the land – Mary-Jo Tohill:

A job loss has brought Mosgiel man Steve Morris back to his agricultural roots, and the 55-year-old is glad of it.

He grew up on a farm on the Otago Peninsula, near Larnach Castle.

“It was a small farm, and you don’t always want to work with your father,” Mr Morris said.

He left school and became a glazier, holding down his first job for 16 years and the second for 18, before making a complete change and driving trucks for three years. . .

Britain needs to grow more trees – are sheep farms the answer? – Connie O’Neill:

Britain’s green fields and “wild” uplands may have become important parts of the national heritage, but they are landscapes wholly created by people. There’s no reason to think of these areas as precious natural resources to be preserved at all costs.

If humans hadn’t chopped down the trees, most of what are now Britain’s sheep farms would still be part of the large forests that once covered the islands. So why can’t some of these areas be turned back into woodland?

Doing so would help fight climate change, as trees absorb carbon from the air and keep it out of the atmosphere. As we found in our new research, there’s even a solid economic case for sheep farmers to instead grow forests and become carbon offsetters.

Tree growing is a political hot topic in the UK, since vast areas of new forest will be needed if the country is to achieve net zero emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

05/09/2020

Local farmers in competition final – Sally Brooker:

North Otago has produced two of the eight finalists in an Australasian sustainable agriculture competition.

Farmers Nick and Kate Webster and Brock and Gemma Hamilton have been shortlisted from a slew of entrants on both sides of the Tasman for the Zimmatic Sustainable Irrigation Awards.

The contest aims to celebrate irrigation excellence and encourage farmers to share water management ideas.

The Websters run Totara Fields and Hillbrook Dairies – mixed beef finishing/cropping and dairy operations on a total of 700ha, 550 of them irrigated. . . 

RSE workers stranded in NZ: ‘Tonga needs to look after its own citizens’ – employer :

A large Hawke’s Bay fruit grower fears for the well being of Pacific Island workers still unable to return home and says Tongan authorities must help out.

Some 487 workers from Tonga and 763 from Vanuatu are registered as requiring urgent repatriation.

There are hundreds of others urgently wanting to get back to other countries including Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati.

A flight to Tonga yesterday was suspended until further notice because of Auckland’s Covid alert level 3 status. . .

Water the word on farmers’ minds – Sally Brooker:

North Otago farmers are feeling the effects of a dry winter, Federated Farmers provincial president Jared Ross says.

“We’re 100mm behind in rainfall,” he said of his Duntroon dairy-support farm.

Local contractors had sold out of their feed supplement supplies in the lead-in to winter, and one had been bringing in feed from Central Otago and Southland.

“It was priced accordingly.” . .

Sell venison or risk loss say experts – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers are being advised to take the going price for chilled venison now, or risk significantly lower returns.

With a short chilled season expected venison marketers are recommending to farmers to take the money being offered during the chilled season.

Currently, the market for frozen venison is subdued and the prospects post-Christmas are uncertain.

Deer that miss the chilled season cut-off at the end of October will be unable to reach Europe in time for the last game season sales.

While a portion will go to alternative markets, some venison will be frozen.  . . 

White Rock Station’s revival – Peter Burke:

One of New Zealand’s most historic sheep stations – White Rock – has a new lease of life thanks to family members who wanted to preserve the property for future generations. Peter Burke reports.

White Rock Station, way out on the isolated south Wairarapa Coast, is the epitome of rugged beauty that typifies much of NZ’s East Coast.

It’s named after a stunning white rock formation, which dominates the shoreline where the hills rise steeply from the relentlessly pounding surf. The property is about an hour’s drive from Martinborough, along a winding – mainly gravel – road.

Tim Ritchie, who earlier this year retired as the chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, is the great, great grandson of the original owner, Richard Barton who acquired the land in 1843. . .

New digital campaign thanks NZ farmers:

New digital campaign by OverseerFM thanks Kiwi farmers and lets them know they have choices when it comes to managing sustainable impact

From propping up our economy, to feeding the world, and overcoming numerous challenges along the way, Kiwi farmers play a vital role in keeping our nation, and its people happy and healthy.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to say thanks. It’s time to reassure those in the agricultural sector that we are there for them – every step of the way.

That sentiment is echoed in a new digital campaign for agricultural management tool OverseerFM fronted by rugby legend Buck Shelford, Dame Lynda Topp (Ken the farmer), TV presenter Toni Street, fishing legend Geoff Thomas and cricketing icon Sir Richard Hadlee. . .


Rural round-up

13/06/2020

Farm jobs offer competitive pay rates say industry experts – Bonnie Flaws:

Former sports trainer Tim Wilson had always harboured dreams of working on a farm, and last year changed career to do just that.

Wilson was motived by both the lifestyle and the potential earnings that farming offered, he said.

He took a $20,000 pay cut to start as a farm assistant, but said he knew long term his earning potential was much higher on the farm.

Wilson started out as a farm assistant and was now beginning his first year training in herd management on a farm near Te Puke, close to Tauranga. . . 

Kiwi workers hold the key to vineyards’ survival, but could we cut the mustard? – Maia Hart:

As thousands become beneficiaries, New Zealand’s biggest wine region still has job opportunities. Could white collar workers really earn their keep in the vineyards? Reporter Maia Hart attempted a morning in the vines. She made minimum wage.

Flanked by rural Marlborough’s grapevines before sunrise, 34 overseas workers in their high vis vests are illuminated by headlights from the company car, jogging on the spot to get their blood pumping and stretch their muscles against the autumn chill.

The workers are in the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, a huge labour force doing critical hand pruning over winter. Amongst the group are beginners, who worked in New Zealand during summer, stuck in the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic closing borders.

Thornhill Horticulture and Viticulture supervisor Francis Law said it takes a couple of seasons before workers start to realise how much money they can make. They’re likely to make minimum wage to start with. . . 

How many logs do we need? – Dileepa Fonseka:

A new bill has forest owners fuming, but it could be the tip of the iceberg for them if NZ First are re-elected to Government

Forest owners feel blind-sided by a bill before Parliament, but more changes could be coming.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the owners of forests hadn’t lived up to their end of a social contract to grow the domestic wood processing industry. 

He signalled they could expect harsher treatment next term if NZ First were re-elected to Government.

That could start with reversing forestry’s special exemptions under the Overseas Investment Act, and could see NZ First could join forces with National after the election to make that change. . .

No going Dutch on farms – Gerard Hutching:

A Nuffield scholar from the Netherlands has been researching the difference in the roles women play in agriculture in New Zealand, which is quite different in her native country. Gerard Hutching reports. 

Dutch dairy farmer and Nuffield scholar Heleen Lansink left New Zealand recently with a heightened appreciation of the differences between the roles of women in agriculture in this country and the Netherlands. 

Lansink lives and works with her husband Rogier and their four children on a dairy farm in eastern Holland, close to the German border. They run 85 milking cows on 55ha. . . 

Asian markets bolster red meat exports :

The overall value of New Zealand red meat and co-products exported for April might have been broadly similar to the same period last year, but the impact of Covid-19 resulted in changes to some major markets.

Analysis by the Meat Industry Association showed New Zealand exported $859million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products during the month. Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27% to $39.6million compared with last April, and down 30% to Germany ($22million).

Exports to China continued to recover, up 16% to $353.6million.

There were also increases for other Asian markets, particularly Japan, with total exports up 66% to $46.8million and Taiwan up 36% ($36.4million). . . 

New Ballance recruit is a positive sign for agriculture:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients reputation and great farmer-led culture were just some of the reasons why Auckland based IT professional, David Healy, wanted to join the team.

David Healy, an executive with over 20 years of experience leading change management initiatives for start-ups, public organisations and private companies has accepted the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) with the 100% New Zealand (NZ) owned farming co-operative.

David has a proven track record in operations management and research, product and business development across diverse industries including lifestyle company VF Corporation, Icebreaker (before and after they were purchased by VF) and Kathmandu Ltd. . . 


Rural round-up

22/07/2019

Large farms have more eco-options – Colin Williscroft:

Harder hill country farms have more options for increasing productivity and eco-efficiency than easy hill country farms, AgResearch scientist Alec Mackay says.

Farmers on extensive sheep and beef farms on hard hill country can continue to make production and eco-efficiency gains by increasing the reproductive performance of ewes and lamb weaning and growth rates, he told the Animal Production Society’s annual conference.

They can shift from breeding cows and older cattle to buying and finishing younger cattle. . .

Stinginess upsets plant breeders – Richard Rennie:

The Government has been accused of leaving plant breeders short when it comes to addressing Treaty of Waitangi issues around plant variety rights.

Policy makers are in the process of seeking breeder input on the revised Plant Variety Act to better protect breeders and their seed and germplasm.

Maximum fines are only $1000 and offer little disincentive to the theft of plant intellectual property. . .

Steak award gives company confidence – Sally Rae:

It’s a long way from Mataura to Dublin.

But that was the journey taken by Alliance Group’s steak, which won a gold medal in the World Steak Challenge in Ireland.

The company’s Pure South handpicked 55-day aged beef, processed at its Mataura plant, won a gold medal for ribeye and a bronze medal for fillet.

There were more than 300 entries from 25 countries and the title of world’s best steak was awarded to a grass-fed Ayrshire ribeye steak reared in Finland and entered by JN Meat International, from Denmark . . .

Latest survey: most employers delighted with RSE:

A survey of New Zealand companies involved in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme has garnered positive results.

The survey, by Immigration New Zealand, shows 45 percent of the RSE members grew their businesses as a result of employing workers from the Pacific.

Immigration’s Pacifica Labour and Skills Manager, George Rarere, said a stable, seasonal workforce meant more employers were able to expand, invest more in equipment and offer jobs to locals. . .

Flexi-milking – same Milk more sleep – Anne Hardie:

Flexible milking frequencies have proved a solution to a Westport farm’s problems with dry summers, Anne Hardie reports.

Last season John and Jo Milne milked their cows twice a day, 3 in 2, 10 in 7 and once a day to achieve good production results during a severe drought on their Westport farm and plenty of sleep-ins.

You read it right – 10 in 7. From mid-December to the end of February they were milking the cows 10 times during the week which meant twice a day (TAD) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then once a day (OAD) on the other days. And through the season they changed milking frequencies four times. . .

Exciting year in dairy for Kimberley – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kimberley Simmons (15) is passionate about dairy cows and has had an excellent year so far, dairy-wise.

It has included a trip to International Dairy Week in Australia in January, and a win in a national competition last month.

The Menzies College year 10 pupil lives with her parents Teena and Sandy and brother Jack on a 61ha property near Dacre.

The family runs 175 cows and several chickens, and they have three studs – the Brydale Jersey Stud, the Lowburn Milking Shorthorn Stud and the Lowburn Holstein Friesian Stud. . .

 


How much will they pay for food?

15/01/2019

Cows need milking, fruit and vegetables are ripe for picking and farmers and horticulturists are struggling to find staff.

The Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE), which allows industries to recruit workers from overseas for the season goes part way towards bridging the staff gap, but year after year farms, market gardens and orchards are desperately seeking workers.

One reason put forward for the shortage of workers when people are unemployed is that the work is seasonal and those who go off a benefit for short-term work find it difficult when they face a stand-down period before they can get a benefit again at the end of the season.

That might employ to some, but orchards which put a lot of effort into recruiting and training staff and finding work for them all year, still struggle to find enough staff.

Some say that workers aren’t paid enough to make the job attractive.

Dairy farm workers get well above the minimum wage plus accommodation.

A lot of horticulture work has performance pay – the more people pick the more they earn and anyone prepared to take the work seriously won’t find it difficult to make a decent wage.

But what’s enough?

Wages are a cost of production that has to be recovered when the produce is sold if the business is to be profitable.

Higher wages will lead to higher prices for food.

How much more are those saying people in dairying, horticulture and market gardening aren’t paid enough, prepared to pay for their food?

Nothing if complaints about the price of milk, butter, cheese, fruit and vegetables and tales of people being too poor to eat properly are taken seriously.


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