Rural round-up

November 8, 2017

Tackling water resource conservation with modern agriculture – Craige Mackenzie:

As I sat in a board room in Minneapolis, I used a break in my meeting to check the moisture of the soil on my farm in New Zealand.   I didn’t walk into a field and dig a hole or stick a meter into the dirt. Instead, I pulled out my phone, looked at its screen, and saw what my sensors were saying.

Fellow Global Farmer Network board member V Ravichandran was checking his phone as well.  Ravi was looking at photos of his cotton crop that had just been sent to him from his farm in Tamil Nadu India. Ravi checked the photos and sent a reply e-mail to India with his observation and actions required.

This is what modern agriculture looks like: It’s global, it’s high-tech, and it’s all about sustainable conservation. . .

Diversifying in the Catlins – Sally Rae:

Enterprising Catlins farmers Carey and Tracey Hancox have diversified their busy farming operation near Owaka with an accommodation venture and an on-farm butchery, processing their homegrown lamb. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae pays them a visit.

Carey and Tracey Hancox make the most of opportunities as they arise.

The couple have a simple philosophy when it comes to their business — “no-one gets anywhere without hard work”.

“It’s just a fact of life, really. It’s not easy. People look happy once they’re successful but I think it’s reflected in how hard they have to work.

“That little bit of happiness is the payment for the stress and the worry. It balances itself out,” Mr Hancox explains. . . 

One enterprising rural woman – Yvonne O’Hara:

When Debra Cruikshank left school, she was not sure what she wanted to do.

She grew up on a sheep and beef farm in the Catlins and at the very least knew she wanted to do physical work.

She thought she might try art school.

Now, at 37, she has her own vineyard and winery and a successful business, DC Wines, that is growing each year.

After leaving school and the farm she chose to spend a year in Central Otago. . . 

New confidence and culture at Westland Milk Products:

New ways of working at board and management levels have led to a change of culture at Westland Milk Products, with a brighter outlook and growing shareholder confidence in the company, said Chairman Pete Morrison in the company’s 2017 Annual Report released today.

Commenting on the 2016-17 season, Morrison said extensive new thinking had come into the company with new management, a revised board structure and better ways of working.

“The 2016-17 financial year for Westland Milk Products was characterised by challenge and change,” Morrison said. “We began the 2016-17 year under considerable financial pressure. Shareholders, quite rightly, were demanding answers and calling for both the board and management to do much better and reverse the loss making result of the year before.” . . 

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When you lied on your CV abut having previous sheepdog experience – NZ Farming

Reda eyes Australia to secure supply – Annabelle Cleeland:

AN exclusive long-term contract has whet the appetite of a European fabric maker who is appealing to the very best Australian superfine woolgrowers to partner with them to help feed the growing demand for luxury and active wear fabrics.

There are only 20 members in the current Reda Future Project, set-up by 152 year-old Italian fabric maker Reda, who meet the quality standards of set by the country’s largest integrity scheme, SustainaWOOL. 

Last year, Reda chief operating officer Francesco Botto Poala said the company acquired 1500 bales of 15.8 to 19.2 micron wool from this exclusive group, and they are hungry for more. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2016

Five-year deal ‘huge’ for fine wool sector – Sally Rae:

“A breath of fresh air for fine wool” is how Central Otago farmer Bevan McKnight describes a $45 million deal between Italian textile company Reda and the New Zealand Merino Company.

Under a five-year contract to source fine wool from NZM, 2500 tonnes will be shipped to Italy to fuel the growth of Reda’s high-end suiting fabrics and active product ranges.

Mr McKnight and his wife, Tiffany, of Merino Ridges, in the Ida Valley, were ‘‘absolutely” passionate about merino sheep. . . 

Farmer buoyed by support – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille has suggested a pilot programme involving the University of Otago, Ministry for Primary Industries and himself, in an attempt to keep selling his milk.

Mr MacNeille and his wife Alex have been inundated with support from customers and the public since being ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on their property above Careys Bay.

For at least three years, he has been working with the university, supplying milk to use in an electronic milk purifier. Unlike regular pasteurisation, which heated milk to “crazy” temperatures and then cooled it, the machine did not heat the milk. . . 

South Canterbury deer farms join forces for feed for profit project – Pat Deavoll:

Martin Rupert of Mt Peel and Dave Morgan of Raincliff Station have teamed up in a DEEResearch funded project aimed at giving South Canterbury deer farmers the chance to pool skills, knowledge and experience.

The focus farms have informal field days allowing participants the opportunity to discuss shared issues. 

“It’s pretty basic. The theme is “feed to profit.” We all have to feed stock well to make a profit,” said Morgan. . . 

 Driving force behind wildlife sanctuary – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Andrew Lowe’s passion for conservation has seen him named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He was the driving force in the establishment of the 2500ha Cape Sanctuary wildlife restoration project at Cape Kidnappers.

It enabled the re-introduction of endangered wildlife species that once flourished at the Cape and Ocean Beach, and contains the greatest diversity of native birds on mainland coastal New Zealand. . . 

Fonterra Eltham – Filling Billions of Burgers World-Wide:

Fonterra today celebrated the official opening of its new slice on slice cheese expansion at Eltham, with the plant now able to produce enough cheese to fill more than three billion burgers each year.

The expansion opening, which was attended by Fonterra farmers, staff, iwi and central and local government representatives, was officiated by Whanganui MP, Hon. Chester Borrows and South Taranaki District Council Mayor Ross Dunlop, along with Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings, Director David MacLeod and Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway.

The first cheese marks the successful completion of the 10 month build to install two new lines that will double the site’s sliced cheese production. The new individually wrapped sliced cheese line was completed last year. . . 

Brushing up on first aid down on the farm – Joyce Wyllie:

“Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah…Staying Alive” is the rhythm to play in the mind while remembering guidelines for CPR compressions and breaths.

Who would have thought the Stayin’ Alive disco song by the Bee Gees would have a place on the farm?

The action plan acronym “DRS. ABCD” jogs the memory for action in an emergency situation.  First ensure there is no Danger to patient, self or bystander, check for Response, Send for help, then deal with Airways, Breathing, Circulation and finally D for Doctor.

All this and more will be familiar to those who have done a first aid course.  Jock and I had a day off the farm to brush up on these important skills and increase our confidence  dealing with a crisis. The others on the  training were mostly  farmers but also truck drivers, retired folk and young mums. . . 

Yili’s Oceania Dairy narrows full-year loss as production ramps up, sales surge – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Oceania Dairy, the South Canterbury-based dairy company owned by China’s Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, narrowed its annual loss as sales quadrupled from its processing facility at Glenavy.

The loss was $16.3 million in calendar 2015, from a loss of $17.6 million in 2014, the first full year for the company created in 2013. Revenue soared to about $141 million from $34 million a year earlier, according to Oceania’s financial statements. . . 

Leading New Zealand botanists honoured:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has presented New Zealand’s foremost botany award, the Loder Cup, to Neill and Barbara Simpson of Queenstown.

One of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, the Loder Cup recognises outstanding work to investigate, promote, retain and cherish the country’s incomparable native plant life.

“Neill and Barbara Simpson truly deserve to be honoured with the presentation of the cup at the Green Ribbon Awards tonight,” Ms Barry says.

“Their tireless work to protect native flora and get others involved in looking after it has been an almost life-long journey.

“They are an outstanding couple who have worked with extraordinary dedication, and represent the very best of the New Zealand conservation movement.” . . 

Canada’s dairy farmers say diafiltered milk from U.S. costs them millions – Lucas Powers:

Our wily neighbours to the south have figured out a clever way of not paying tariffs on a certain — let’s say “controversial” — commodity, and Canadian dairy farmers say it’s costing them hundreds of millions every year.

The product in question is called diafiltered milk.

Essentially, it’s milk that’s filtered, flushed with water, and then filtered a second time, with a few other steps along the way. The end product has a high concentration of protein, about 85 per cent, and very little of the fat and lactose that make up natural milk.

‘It’s a classic case of the right hand of the government doing one thing, and the left hand doing another.’
– Maurice Doyon, Laval University professor

The Canadian government allows it to cross the border without a tariff, because if it were dried into a powder, it would have the same amount of protein as the kinds of protein powders allowed to pass through tariff-free under trade agreements. . . 

Moving beyond pro/con debates over genetically engineered crops – Pamela Ronald:

Since the 1980s biologists have used genetic engineering to express novel traits in crop plants. Over the last 20 years, these crops have been grown on more than one billion acres in the United States and globally. Despite their rapid adoption by farmers, genetically engineered (GE) crops remain controversial among many consumers, who have sometimes found it hard to obtain accurate information.

Last month the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a review of 20 years of data regarding GE crops. The report largely confirms findings from previous National Academies reports and reviews produced by other major scientific organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization and the European Commission.

I direct a laboratory that studies rice, a staple food crop for half the world’s people. Researchers in my lab are identifying genes that control tolerance to environmental stress and resistance to disease. We use genetic engineering and other genetic methods to understand gene function. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 13, 2012

Cartels versus babies – Offsetting Behaviour:

Canada’s dairy cartel keeps milk product prices up. Baby formula is one pretty obvious example.
Here in New Zealand, a 900 gram can of baby formula (starter, for newborns) ranges in price from $15 for one that’s on special, to $20-$21 for the most popular brands, to $34 for the ones that give babies superpowers. We supplemented with the brand that’s now $21 per can. The NZ price range then, per kilo and in Canadian dollars at $1 NZ = $0.79 Cdn, is $13-$30; the one we typically bought was $18 Cdn. Unfortunately, the link might redirect to Countdown’s main site. A screenshot is below. . .

Omarama family wins clip of the year – Sally Rae:

The Sutherland family, from Benmore Station, has been awarded the Otago Merino Association’s clip-of-the-year title.   

Bill and Kate Sutherland, and Andrew and Deidre Sutherland,      from Omarama, received the award during The New Zealand Merino Company’s conference in Christchurch . . .   

Change a vital part of fine-wool revolution – Sally Rae:

Changes are inevitable. Not only is that now the motto of  luxury Italian woollen fabric manufacturer Reda, but it was    also a statement that was repeated during the New Zealand    Merino Company’s recent conference in Christchurch.   

The conference brought together about 600 growers and industry partners from around the globe. . .  

Farm holds long family history – Sally Rae:

 The Maclean family, of Omakau, will next year mark 60 years of breeding Southdown sheep.   

Don Maclean started the Bellfield Southdown stud in 1953 and the stud now encompasses 120 ewes.   

 Bellfield was one of 11 properties visited during the New  Zealand Southdown southern tour which was hosted in Otago and  Southland last week.   

 The property is farmed by Donny and Cathy Maclean, their  daughter Kate, and Mr Maclean’s parents, Don and Win . . .

Rates rises close to $5,000 – Gerald Piddock:

Waimate farmers are crying foul after being faced with a dramatic increase in rates for the 2012-2013 year.

The proposed increases will see some farmers pay out nearly $5000 more in rates than they did last year, Federated Farmers South Canterbury Waimate branch chairman Colin Hurst said.

“One farmer’s rates are increasing 37 per cent from just over $13,000 to around $18,000. . .

Barns to keep cows cosy in winter weather – Shawn McAvinue:

What prompts a 94-year-old dairy farm owner to build structures of biblical proportions to keep animals from the driving rain? Shawn McAvinue reports.

Eastern Southland dairy farm owner Dugald McKenzie, 94, looks up at the frame of one of the two wintering barns he is having built on his dairy farm near Edendale and estimates the size of the structure.

“It’s not quite as long as Noah’s Ark, but it’s slightly wider.”. .

Talleys immovable in dispute – Jon Morgan:

After 10 weeks of worker protests, punctuated by fruitless talks and exchanges of lock-out and strike threats, the Affco-meatworkers dispute is no closer to resolution.

The bitterness of the dispute – over pay and conditions for 1000 union workers at eight plants – comes as no surprise to anyone in the meat industry.

The protagonists, the Talley family on one side and the Meatworkers Union on the other, are an irresistible force coming up against an immovable object – or, as one industry source puts it, “a rock hitting a rock”. . .

“Manawhenua” the value placed upon land within the Maori culture – Pasture to Profit:

“Manawhenua” is one of the operating values of the Kapenga M Farming Trust. The exact English translation of “Manawhenua” is difficult to explain. However it relates to the pride and soul of Maori people & their attachment to traditional lands. Manawhenua is about creating links between the people & the land. The concept of ‘mana whenua’ has many layers of meaning. It tells of important relationships that Māori have with whenua (land) and of the value placed upon the land within the culture . . .

Sealord’s mussel farms up for sale:

Sealord Group is selling its last few South Island mussel farms and closing its Tahunanui factory, bringing down the curtain on what was once the biggest mussel operation in the South Island.

All 50 workers – 10 operating the farms and 40 at the Beatty St factory – are being offered new roles within Sealord.

The company announced yesterday that it wanted to focus more on its core fishing business. . .

Synlait Milk to supply colostrum to ASX-listed Immuron:

Synlait Milk, the Canterbury milk processor controlled by China’s Bright Dairy, has signed a deal to supply colostrum to ASX-listed biopharmaceutical company Immuron.

No value was put on the agreement.

Synlait spokesman Michael Wan said the company planned a production run of the “hyperimmune colostrum” in October.

While volumes would be small compared to Synlait’s total production, it was high-end in terms of value. . .

Primary industry working together to grow its people:

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) was officially launched in Wellington last night.

The initiative was warmly received by an audience of influential leaders in the primary industry. The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. David Carter presented at the launch along with several other speakers.

PICA is a collaboration between DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, New Zealand Young Farmers, AgITO, Lincoln and Massey Universities, Federated Farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

High expectations met by North Island Farming to Succeed programme:

Daniel Baker says this year’s North Island Farming to Succeed programme has shown him that farm ownership is possible for his generation. Daniel is currently a sole charge farm manager milking 280 cows near Te Awamutu for the Ferris family.

“I’ve been dairy farming since I left school at 16,” says the 28-year-old. “I grew up with an agricultural background in sheep and beef, rearing calves, dairy farming and my father’s agricultural contracting business. I chose to go into dairy because of lifestyle reasons.”

He was motivated to apply for Farming to Succeed after hearing good things about the programme from previous attendees . . .


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