Rural round-up

26/04/2021

Political expediency – Rural News editorial:

Moves by the Government to end New Zealand’s live export trade is more about politics than ethics.

Sure, it argues that the trade “does not uphold New Zealand’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare” and that it does not fit with the country’s “social conscience”. But that is just – to coin a phrase used by Gulf War veteran General Norman Schwarzkopf – bovine scatology. These claims do not marry with the actual facts. The reality is that the Government is shutting down a legitimate $500 million trade because it polls well to ban it.

The screaming skulls from the likes of SAFE, Greenpeace and other so-called animal activist groups have got in the Government’s ear and won them over by feeding constant, unchallenged misinformation about the live export trade to the public.

David Hayman, spokesman for the Animal Genetics Trade Association, is right on the money when he describes the Government’s decision as one that is aiming for short-term political kudos. . . 

Meat plant delays – Neal Wallace:

Container shortages and shipping issues are forcing some meat plants to work shorter weeks, as companies grapple with the largest prime beef kill in over 30 years.

Alliance Group has on occasion reduced operating hours at its Smithfield and Pukeuri plants in the South Island and Silver Fern Farms (SFF) has on three instances reduced processing capacity at one of its plants as they manage logistical issues.

The shipping logistic problem affects all species, but coincides with a record prime beef kill.

AgriHQ analysts report 637,700 prime steers and heifers have been killed in the year to March 27, 92,000, or 17%, more than the previous record kill, which was last year. . . 

Otago Action Group keen to carry on :

The Otago-based Bruce District Action Group is transitioning to a self-funded group now that the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) has ended. The group wants to ensure its members can continue to build on the gains they have made.

Group facilitator, Abacus Bio farm consultant Simon Glennie, said the seven group members had originally been part of a farmer discussion group, before switching to become and RMPP Action Group with a business focus.

“This group had already been working together so had a lot of confidence and trust,” he says.

The group undertook the RMPP Taking Ownership of Your Financials programme with farm accountant Lawrence Field early on. . . 

Harvest begins at New Zealand’s biggest cannabis crop

Tens of thousands of cannabis plants are being picked over the coming weeks, as harvest begins at New Zealand’s largest commercial medical cannabis crop.

It’s all happening on Winterhome farm, on the coast of Kēkerengū north of Kaikōura.

The Macfarlane family have farmed Winterhome for five generations, and sons Sank and Winston returned home to convert part of it into a 10 hectare cannabis crop.

“It’s exciting to be part of,” Sank Macfarlane told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

Honest Wolf – accessories from the Turakina Valley – Country Life:

Sophie and Sam Hurley are turning some of their wool clip into bags, caps, wallets and laptop sleeves. They’ve been in business less than a year but orders are flying out the door – or rather rumbling down their gravel road towards their destinations.

Some days Sophie Hurley writes 30 hand-written notes to customers. Among other things, she always expresses her gratitude for their support of the wool industry.  

Less than a year ago Sophie and her husband Sam Hurley launched Honest Wolf – a line of accessories made from wool from the family farm, Papanui Estate.

The couple were spurred into action by the pitiful returns from wool. . . 

Nicola Sturgeon urged not to sacrifice gamekeeper livelihoods in pursuit of Greens’ policy support – Claire Taylor:

AN OPEN letter has been sent to Scotland’s First Minister, highlighting concerns that the Scottish Green Party’s election proposals could ‘destroy a significant part of Scotland’s cultural heritage’.

Behind the letter are the 5300 members of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who believe their livelihoods and that of their families could be under threat, if the next government were to call an end to all game management and angling in Scotland – as proposed by the Greens.

The SGA claim that not only will such a move place thousands of rural workers on the dole, impacting on their wellbeing and the future prospects of their family, but would impose ‘crippling burdens’ on the public purse.

The letter urges Nicola Sturgeon not to bargain with the livelihoods of rural workers, in order to gain the Greens support over future policies. . .


Rural round-up

15/01/2021

Winter grazing costs climb – Neal Wallace:

Winter grazing prices for dairy cows are rising in Southland and Otago as farmers make changes to meet new freshwater regulations.

Adapting to those new regulations does not appear to have caused a reduction in graziers for the coming winter, but an Invercargill farm consultant warns that may not be the case in future, as they will require resource consent and face more stringent conditions.

“In the medium to long-term there is going to be pressure on dairy winter grazing,” AgriBusiness Ltd farm management consultant Deane Carson said.

The regulations were announced in September and some of the winter grazing policies have already been reviewed by a government-appointed working group which made recommendations prior to Christmas. . . 

GHG pricing will see farmers exit – Fitch :

Fitch Group expects marginal livestock producers to exit the New Zealand market in the coming years as government greenhouse gas (GHG) emission pricing starts to bite behind the farm gate.

In its outlook for the NZ agriculture sector, Fitch Solutions says that while it expects the livestock and milk production sectors to adapt to planned GHG pricing from 2025, methane reduction targets will be a greater challenge to farms, with rising on-farm costs hitting less profitable farmers harder.

But some farms may benefit from selling carbon credits through emissions trading, as well as the ability to sell meat at a premium to environmentally-conscious consumers.

Fitch notes while NZ will be the first country to introduce compulsory emissions pricing for the agriculture sector, it expects most farms to adapt to emission regulations – outside of methane – without having to reduce livestock numbers. . . 

Drought hits season’s lamb numbers – Peter Burke:

Drought in the North Island had a significant impact on the number of lambs tailed in the first half of this season.

According to Beef+Lamb NZ’s latest economic report, the total number of lambs tailed in the North Island was down 4.8% meaning a decline of 546,000 head to 10.8 million. This is in contrast to the South Island where the total number of lambs increased by 189,000 head, an increase of 1.6%, for a total lamb crop of 12.1 million

Overall, the report says total number of lambs produced this season is 357,000 head less than spring 2019. However, despite the problems with the drought, the overall picture is far from gloomy. . . 

Dry weather warning for lifestyle block farmers – Dr Clive Dalton:

This is the month to start and take seriously the warnings of another dry summer.

The rain most parts had in November (always a critical month) and December will have been enough. The trouble is that January is still “holiday month” and you don’t want to become miserable to friends and family about a drought coming, and precautions against fires on the block.

But it is a good time to check up with neighbours as it’s surprising how few folk on small blocks know their neighbours, especially after new subdivisions and new massive houses suddenly appear over the fence. . . 

The power of good facilitation :

“Without a facilitator, we would just have done that farmer thing and sat round, shuffled our feet and waited for someone else to say something,” says Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group member Reece Cleland.

Cleland, who farms sheep and beef cattle at Springfield in Central Canterbury, is part of an RMPP Action Group focused on members better understanding their farm finances and lifting productivity.

The RMPP Action Network model supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses to work together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help them to make positive changes on-farm. . . 

Veganuary? You’d be better going back to basics…. – Hannah Jackson:

The message is let’s stop eating meat for a month and together we’ll save the planet.

What makes this ironic is that whoever came up with the concept has chosen the month when the UK has the most limited range of homegrown seasonal fruit and vegetables available to encourage everyone to swap diets!

So, to cater for this trend, we find ourselves flying ‘trendy vegan friendly’ foods like avocados and almond milk, thousands of miles just to fulfil the Veganuary-based demand.

Let’s take the avocado, as it is so popular within the vegan diet. . . 


Rural round-up

31/03/2019

We cannot take food supply for granted – Neal Wallace:

News the Government will protect elite soils is welcome but by no means signals the resolution of broader challenges facing land use and the productive sector.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1As reported in Farmers Weekly’s Land Squeeze series, the Ministry for the Environment has started the process of preparing a national policy statement for high-value soils, which will be finalised after consultation later this year.

That protection is needed because urban sprawl and lifestyle blocks swallow up to 100,000 hectares a year including Auckland paving 10,500 hectares of high-quality soil in the last 35 years.

Domestic food demand will only increase as New Zealand’s population is expected to hit five million in 2020 and 5.5m in 2025 while demand will also rise from an ever-expanding global population. . . 

Spud family name’s on the packet – Tim Fulton:

James Bowan grows potatoes for a nationwide paddock-to-packet potato chip brand.  Nearly a decade after the business started he’s still happiest in the paddock. Tim Fulton reports.

The Bowan family farms more than 600ha at Orari in South Canterbury. Down the road at industrial Washdyke, in the slipstream of Timaru, the family also runs the Heartland chips processing plant.

Fallgate Farm includes 250-odd hectares of spuds, 320ha of combinable cereals,150ha of grass seed and a few other bits and pieces, especially seeds.

It adds up to a lot of business from farm to shop shelf but James isn’t bothered with the trappings of corporate hierarchy. . . 

Action groups following different paths – Sally Rae:

More than 900 farmers have signed up to the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network to help make their farming businesses more productive and profitable.

Each of the Action Groups involved chose a different pathway in the search for solutions to the challenges they faced.

Four action groups in the Milton and Lawrence districts had a lot in common, both in their origins and their goals.

They grew out of two large discussion groups of sheep and beef farmers running in these areas for several years before the RMPP programme kicked into action.

The common link between all four was Simon Glennie, a sheep, beef and deer farming consultant with AbacusBio. . . 

Fonterra’s new management team gives hope – Sudesh Kissun:

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is happy to see Fonterra back in the black.

He hopes that changes heralded by the new management team signal the start of “some green shoots” for the co-op.

“As a Fonterra farmer I am happy to see that they have posted a net profit and I am happy with some of the rhetoric from board and management about the consolidation of the business,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Support for biosecurity levy:

A big majority of 1794 submissions received by DairyNZ on the biosecurity response levy were supportive.

Sixty-one percent of submissions from farmers backed DairyNZ managing the levy on their behalf and raising the maximum cap to 3.9 cents/kgMS. That totalled 1088 supportive submissions and 706 against.

“We appreciated the candid conversations and the opportunity to discuss not just the proposed levy, but also DairyNZ more widely,” DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says in a letter to farmers. . . 

Win proves area’s wine can age well: manager:

Wild Earth Wines’ success at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards earlier this month proves Central Otago wines can age gracefully, marketing and sales manager Elbert Jolink says.

The boutique winery in Cromwell won the Best Pinot Noir trophy of the show during the formal awards dinner in Auckland on March 9.

Mount Pisa winery Ata Mara won both a gold medal and the Red Badge Security Champion Riesling trophy for its Central Otago 2018 Riesling. . . 

 


Rural round-up

08/01/2019

Concerns over farmers’ approach to financial wellbeing – Alan Wills:

Financial resilience of some businesses in our farming community is a real concern.

Alarm bells rang for me after a recent comment from a rural consultant was aired. He told me he was organising finance for some of his clients because Fonterra had re-adjusted the advance payment rate.

The payout prediction and the advanced payments are still based on $6-plus. . . 

Fears part of bumper apple crop could be lost :

New Zealand’s apple growers fear a bumper crop coupled with a shortage of workers could mean some of the summer harvest is lost.

The group New Zealand Apples and Pears, which represents the pip fruit industry, wants the government to step in and allow tourists to pick fruit without a working visa.

Group spokesperson Gary Jones said this could happen if the government declares a seasonal labour shortage in the country’s primary apple growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

This would allow overseas visitors in the country on tourist visas to work in the horticulture industry without obtaining the usual work permits. . . 

Will cheese become New Zealand’s next craft beer? – Kevin Jenkins:

I once read that before World War I, back before decades of blander mass production, New Zealand seed catalogues looked a lot more like they do in the 21st century, with much more variety. People were growing endive and cavolo nero, for example, and lots of interesting fruits.

But with one of the highest mortality rates among countries who participated in the war, followed by a deadly flu epidemic and then the Great Depression a decade later, it’s no wonder that from the 1920s New Zealand focused on survival … and therefore on potatoes, cabbages and the accursed mashed swede.

In parallel, better transport links and better refrigeration and mass production led to lots of our food industries consolidating. Local dairy factories progressively closed and companies combined until eventually Fonterra emerged as the behemoth it is today. Local breweries followed the same path until DB and Lion shared most of the market. Flour and bread, seafood, vegetables, canned fruit … all followed suit. . . 

Ideas coming thick and fast at RMPP Action Network :

Farmers are reported to have joined a Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group at Rangiwahia to upskill the people in their businesses and boost their profitability.

Eight farm businesses in northern Manawatu have joined the RMPP Action Network to learn from each other and various experts.

Murray Curtis, who hosted the action group’s third meeting, welcomes the opportunity to “be part of a group that gets you thinking and gives you ideas you can put into action on your farm”. . . 

Farmers urged not to forget TB:

Farmers, especially in the South Island, are being reminded that while Mycoplasma bovis has captured headlines, TB is a continuing problem in small pockets of the country.

Kevin Crews, head of disease management for OSPRI (manager of the TB-free programme) says outbreaks have spiked in the Strath-Taieri (Otago) area, with “niggles” in the last two to three years.

TB has been found in ferrets, pigs and possums in the area and work is underway to see whether it is related to the incidence in cattle herds. . . 

Pig rearing to return to rural school following vegan backlash

Keeping pigs on a rural Hampshire school farm to show children how food is produced is to return following vegan backlash which temporarily axed it.

The pigs are kept in Priestlands School grounds, in Lymington, and the practice of rearing them on-site seeks to educate the children where food comes from, and how it is made, from farm-to-fork.

But a petition spearheaded by a vegan campaign group in January sought to axe the scheme, and the school temporarily stopped rearing pigs for a short while to avoid vegan upset. . . 


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