Rural round-up

06/06/2021

Where’s the dollars and sense? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

With all the hype around the benefits of regenerative agriculture, a significant aspect appears to be missing – economics.

We hear about farmer wellbeing. Sometimes we hear about production. But where are the accounts?

If the approach and rethink about systems is so good, why is the income side missing in discussion?

Most of us understand that Country Calendar is now more about lifestyles and people stories than working farms (with the occasional exceptions). RNZ’s CountryLife is tending the same way. Both are focused on motivating an audience, which is mostly urban, to tune in. . . 

Hīkoiof hundreds against far-north SNAs to follow Dame Whina Cooper’s footsteps – Susan Botting:

Panguru great-grandmother Hinerangi Puru (84) will journey in the footsteps of her iconic mother Dame Whina Cooper next week in a hīkoi fighting new Significant Natural Area “land grabs” converging on Far North District Council’s head office.

The Hokianga kuia will be among expected hundreds from across the Far North and beyond in the hīkoi to FNDC’s head office in Kaikohe on 11 June.

“My mother marched to Wellington in 1975 at the age of 83 to the call of ‘not one more acre’,” Puru said of the journey she was also part of.

“Now, nearly 50 years on we’re still having to do the same thing with this hīkoi.” . . 

Carbon forestry’s desirability challenged at meeting – Rebecca Ryan:

“Call it carbon mining.”

Addressing the crowd at a public meeting in Weston on Monday night, Five Forks farmer Jane Smith suggested the word “farming” was no longer used in association with carbon forestry.

“The term farming suggests you are looking after a resource sustainably, long term, into perpetuity — and this certainly is not,” Mrs Smith said.

“So let’s call it carbon mining.” . .

Farmers fill skill gap – David Anderson:

Finding and training skilled workers is a growing problem in many parts of the NZ economy and the sheep and beef farming sector is no exception.

However, instead of sitting around and bemoaning this fact, a number of like-minded sheep and beef producers from around the country have decided to do something about it.

They have established the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) charitable trust, which aims to provide industry-led, on-the-job training and work for young people keen to enter the sheep, beef and deer farming sectors. “Evidence from farm employers and recruitment agencies indicate a considerable shortfall of well-trained people entering the industry over the last decade,” GGF trust board chair John Jackson told Rural News. . . 

Searching for the future on North Island hills – Keith Woodford:

Some weeks back I wrote an article on New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms, focusing on the current situation. I said I would be back as there was more to discuss about both the present and the future. Here, I want to focus more specifically on the North Island hill (Beef+Lamb Class 4) and hard-hill country (Class 3). These land classes comprise around 4000 farms and contain approximately 45 percent of New Zealand’s commercial sheep and beef farms.

Before heading further down that track, I want to share some information supplied by Rob Davison from Beef+Lamb. The 2017 Statistics Department national census indicates there are approximately 26,400 sheep and beef farms in New Zealand. However, Beef+Lamb estimates that only 9200, or 35 percent thereof, are commercial farms. These commercial farms typically have at least 750 stock units and comprise 97 percent of New Zealand’s sheep production plus 88 percent of the beef cattle production. That means there are another 17,200 lifestyle and hobby farmers.

Although the 17,200 non-commercial farmers may not be particularly important from a production perspective, they are still a very important part of the rural community. Many of these people have a day-job in the agricultural servicing industry. . . 

Cost to beef of China dramas impossible to measure – Shan Goodwin:

It was impossible to measure how much Australia’s geopolitical tensions with China might cost the beef industry because unique market dynamics were at play, senate estimates hearings in Canberra have heard.

Representatives from the red meat industry’s big research, development and marketing provider Meat & Livestock Australia appeared before the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee and fielded questions on everything from global marketing budgets to carbon neutrality.

Managing director Jason Strong said China grew as a beef market for Australia extremely quickly. . .


Rural round-up

21/12/2020

Ministers receive recommendations from winter grazing advisory group – Rachael Kelly:

A Southland group is asking that pugging rules and, in particular, resowing dates imposed on farmers should be deleted from Government regulations as they are unfair.

The Southland Advisory Group has made the recommendations to the Government’s new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor are now considering the recommendations.

The group says the resowing date conditions should be deleted. Under the new rules, all sowing of winter crops in Southland and Otago needs to be completed by November 1. . .

Opportunity to close 13km cycle trail gap lost because of DOC’s ‘incompetency’ – Debbie Jamieson:

A 13-kilometre gap in the centre of one of Otago’s top cycle trails will likely remain after a Department of Conservation (DOC) “stuff up”.

Cyclists on the 34km Roxburgh Gorge trail have had to take a $100 jet boat ride along the length of the gap, where farmers have denied access, since the trail opened in 2013.

A pastoral lease review last year could have allowed the stretch to be transferred into public ownership and enabled the trail to be built, but DOC was two days late in submitting its request. . . 

Life as a solo farmer –  Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki farmer is doing it alone and although life can get hectic at times, every day she pulls on her gumboots and happily heads off to milk her cows.

Farming is hard work. But when you farm alone, there is no one to help when the work pressure mounts, and every decision falls squarely on your shoulders.

Maryanne Dudli milks 175 cows on an 84-hectare leased farm at Auroa, in South Taranaki. She runs the farm on her own and takes pride in running an efficient farm, and owning a high production herd. 

Dudli grew up on the family dairy farm and has been absolutely passionate about cows as far back as she can remember. . . 

Taking stock of farming – Laura Smith:

Regenerative agriculture is a buzz phrase in farming circles at the moment. A pilot study in Otago Southland has been building a base for research into it in New Zealand. Laura Smith reports.

The science

Southern farmers are among the first in the country to offer informed insight into the outcomes of regenerative agriculture.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investment programmes director Steve Penno said while there was increasing interest from farmers and the wider community, definitions for the practice varied. . .

Scheme aimed at easing way into orchard work – Mark Price:

Thirty young people willing to earn up to $25 an hour picking cherries have so far joined a pilot work scheme devised by three Upper Clutha women, (from left) Liz Breslin, Sarah Millwater and Sarah Fox.

All parents of teenagers, they met yesterday  to discuss their target of signing up 100 young people aged 16 to 25.

Their intention is to ease young people into paid holiday employment by providing transport to the Central Pac cherry orchard near Cromwell and helping them with tax and other employment-related issues.

The scheme, operating under the name Upper Clutha Youth Workforce also requires funding for two support workers. . .

Promising new test for Johne’s :

A promising new test for Johne’s disease in dairy cattle has been developed at the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) and School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast.

The new test is said to be both more rapid and sensitive in detecting the infectious agent (MAP) of Johne’s in veterinary specimens. It is showing greater detection capability than the milk-ELISA test that is currently used.

Crucially, it detects live infectious agent, not just antibodies against MAP as are detected by milk-ELISA.

In a recent study, the new test was able to detect more infected animals by milk testing than milk-ELISA, so could potentially facilitate control of Johne’s faster. . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2020

Scientists press to put ‘regenerative farming’ to the test – Sally Rae:

A call for proposals for projects that will investigate regenerative farming practices “can’t happen soon enough”, New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science president Jon Hickford says.

In a strongly worded statement, the NZIAHS said it was “concerned about the dearth of sound science underpinning the hype surrounding regenerative agriculture”.

The organisation had published a series of articles from scientists from different disciplines in this month’s issue of its online AgScience magazine which showed regenerative agriculture was “more hype than reality”, it said.

MPI said there was increasing interest from farmers and the wider community about regenerative agricultural practices. . . 

Fonterra, Nestlé and DairyNZ join forces to tackle nitrogen leaching:

Fonterra and Nestlé are teaming up with DairyNZ to expand a promising plantain trial to help improve waterways and reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Incorporating certain varieties of plantain into a cow’s diet has been shown to reduce the nitrogen concentration in their urine, which can leach through soil into groundwater.

To test the benefits in local pastures, DairyNZ has been leading the Tararua Plantain Project in the lower North Island, where farmers have been growing the leafy herb for their cows. The Ministry for Primary Industries is also involved as a key contributor. . .

Rams key to breeding top lambs – David Hill:

North Canterbury rams are the secret to breeding mint condition lambs, according to Marlborough farmers Ali and Stu Campbell.

The Marlborough father and son duo paid tribute to their ram breeders, Chris and Jane Earl, of Scargill in North Canterbury, after being announced as the winners of the Canterbury A&P Association mint lamb competition on Friday.

“It’s nice to give some recognition to Marlborough, but we couldn’t do it without our ram breeder,” Stu Campbell said.

“Chris and Jane look after us well and we appreciate what they do for us. . . 

My challenge to you – Anna Campbell:

For as long as I have been involved in agriculture, our industry has lamented our poor image and the fact that we struggle to attract young people.

I have heard people say we need a rebrand, agriculture is a term which brings to mind a lack of sophistication. In the game of cricket, an “agricultural batsman” is someone who dispatches the ball to “cow corner” in a rather basic manner!

Suggesting an agricultural career to a youngster will not automatically make them think about producing the finest food in the world, advanced genetics, machine learning, international food chains, global food security, financial modelling or GIS mapping. Yet, those of us in the industry understand agriculture encompasses all of that and so much more.

Various government and industry initiatives have produced scholarships for students and held open days to attract youngsters. This has helped, but we need more – we face an aging workforce, challenges in world food supply systems and a growing rural-urban divide. It will take a commitment from all agriculturalists to turn the tide – what might that commitment look like? . .

Shepherding when I’m 64 – Paul Brut:

I’m 64 and my heading dog is 63. We were watching a ewe standing awkwardly on a steep face above a dirty gully. She was trying to lamb but with only one foot showing I doubted she would cope on her own.

We needed to catch her. At 64 you can’t just do it, you need a plan. A shepherd’s crook is essential but I had temporarily misplaced mine… agility isn’t the only thing that deserts you at 64.

There was a whiff on the cool October breeze, at least about me, and I remembered where I had left the crook. Earlier that morning I had lambed a hogget with lambs that had been long dead inside her. That must be one of the most unpleasant jobs of shepherding as the state of decomposition meant the second lamb didn’t come out whole.

The extreme thing, apart from the smell is that that hogget will most likely survive. It’s a marvel that a mammal’s physiology can contain that level of infection and not let the body succumb. . .

Farmers could be ‘unintended victims’ of Wealth Tax plan:

Struggling farming businesses could be unintended victims of the recently proposed Wealth Tax plan, NFU Mutual has warned.

The Wealth Tax Commission issued its report this week, proposing a one percent tax for the next five years on individual wealth over £500,000.

The pandemic has placed a significant strain on the UK economy, and the government is exploring a number of different revenue-raising options.

The proposed tax would apply to all wealth, including homes and other property such as farms, pensions, as well as business wealth. . . 


Rural round-up

06/10/2020

Regenerative agriculture has become ‘political football’:

Regenerative agriculture has become “a bit of a political football” lately, and people need to regain perspective, Director and Management Consultant for Baker Ag Chris Garland says.

Farmers who practise regenerative agriculture were “sincere about what they’re doing”, and Garland thought they may be feeling “a bit overwhelmed” by the attention it had received lately.

Last week Environment Minister James Shaw was interviewed by The Country’s Jamie Mackay about the Green Party’s agriculture policy, which focused on moving New Zealand to organic and regenerative practices.

Garland heard the interview and accused Mackay of “whipping it into a bit of a frenzy”, although he did admit the Green Party co-leader didn’t really understand regenerative agriculture. . . 

Picture of snow costs to emerge – Laura Smith:

This day-old Southland lamb survived this week’s weather bomb, but most farmers around Southland are still working out the cost of the snow.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young said while some lamb deaths were normal, the snow would have affected the numbers — particularly in high country and foothills where lambing had just begun.

It was too early to tell how many died as the snow was only just clearing, he said.

“It was dry snow and that is not nearly as severe on young lambs as very heavy persistent rain.” . . 

Office to orchard, why these Kiwis are making the move to primary sector – Caitlin Ellis:

New Zealanders are switching the office for the orchard and the cockpit for cows in a bid to stay working following the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has reported a 60 percent increase in people receiving jobseeker benefits compared to this time last year in its quarterly labour market report. 

The report presents the state of the labour market in the March 2020 quarter in which the number of unemployed people rose by 5000 to 116,000. The current unemployment rate is 4.2 percent and economists are predicting a rise to somewhere between 5 to 6 percent. . . 

Lime business helps expand biodiversity – Yvonne O’Hara:

Following some trial and error, plus a little experience, a new nursery programme beside a lime mining site at Browns, near Winton, has germinated about 10,000 native seedlings in its first year.

The 480ha AB Lime site also has a 950-cow, 380ha dairy farm, with a neighbouring 70ha of native bush, including 13ha of wetlands, under restoration.

AB Lime environmental field officer Ainsley Adams said the ultimate goal was to translocate kakariki and South Island robins back into the area.

People would be able to see the dairy farm, native bush and wetlands at a field day hosted by the Mid-Oreti Catchment Group on October 8.

“We want to showcase what we are doing.” . . 

Fonterra sells China farms:

Fonterra has agreed to sell its China farms for a total of $555 million (RMB 2.5 billion*1), after successfully developing the farms alongside local partners.

Inner Mongolia Natural Dairy Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of China Youran Dairy Group Limited (Youran), has agreed to purchase Fonterra’s two farming-hubs in Ying and Yutian for $513 million (RMB 2.31 billion*1).

Separately, Fonterra has agreed to sell its 85 per cent interest in its Hangu farm to Beijing Sanyuan Venture Capital Co., Ltd. (Sanyuan), for $42 million (RMB 190 million*1). Sanyuan has a 15 per cent minority shareholding in the farm and exercised their right of first refusal to purchase Fonterra’s interest.

CEO Miles Hurrell says in building the farms, Fonterra has demonstrated its commitment to the development of the Chinese dairy industry. . . 

Wildfire ravaged this rancher’s cattle and maybe his family legacy. He blames politics – Anita Chabria:

Dave Daley stood recently on the edge of a barren ridge and bellowed out a guttural cry meant to call his cows home — if any remained alive after the North Complex wildfire decimated this national forest.

It was a long, mellifluous chant that sounded like “Come Boss,” taught to him by his own father and, he thinks, maybe originating with the genus of the species he hoped to find, Bos taurus, domesticated cattle.

When the sound finished bouncing off the far hills, miles across a plunging valley where the Feather River meandered into Lake Oroville, he waited in a silence so deep it can be made only by absence — of animals in underbrush, of leaves for wind to rustle, of life — hoping to hear the clanking of the bells each of his animals wears. But the silence held.

“You can replace a house,” he said, his voice hoarse and sorrow crinkling the sun-baked lines around his eyes, their color a pale green-brown that mirrored the scorched pine needles nearby. “You can’t replace this.” . .


Rural round-up

04/10/2020

Regenerative agriculture: let’s put these claims to the test – Catherine Wells:

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot and retired plant scientist Dr Warwick Scott have done an admirable job by drawing Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s attention to the pros and cons of “regenerative agriculture”.

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, a soil scientist, has written on the topic too. In an article for the New Zealand Herald’s “The Country section”, which challenged the notion that moving to regenerative agriculture with an organic focus will create a primary sector with more ability to help with Covid-19 recovery. Her conclusion: this is wonderful in theory, but doesn’t work in practice.

NZIAHS members should be lending their support – but the bigger issue which should perturb us is the attack on science itself in this era when easy access to the internet can spread fake news, deceptions, falsehoods, fabrications and canards faster and over a much vaster patch of the globe than a top-dresser can spread superphosphate. . . 

Banning nitrogen fertiliser would put food production back decades – Macaulay Jones:

When it comes to synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, good management practices should be encouraged, not an outright ban, writes Federated Farmers Climate Change and Trade Policy adviser, Macaulay Jones.

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is suffering from a PR problem in New Zealand.

It’s regularly demonised and blamed for the degradation of waterways, for contributing to climate change and for enabling a perceived unsustainable growth of farming. Some are even calling for it to be banned altogether.

But while synthetic nitrogen fertiliser can undoubtedly lead to environmental issues if used carelessly, it’s this careless use which should be avoided – not the use of the product. . . 

Feds reject trade concerns – Colin Williscroft:

Federated Farmers is confident that scaling back new freshwater regulations or making amendments to climate change legislation will not hurt New Zealand’s prospects of future free trade deals.

As reported in last week’s Farmers Weekly, NZ’s top trade negotiator Vangelis Vitalis has warned sheep and beef farmers that their environmental and animal welfare record will come under close scrutiny, as countries search for ways to protect their own food producers who have taken a hit to demand for their products as a result of coronavirus.

Vitalis acknowledged that environmental regulations will come at a cost to NZ farmers, but says it could pay off in terms of providing improved market access under future free trade deals by helping to quell opposition to them in those countries involved.

Feds president Andrew Hoggard agrees with Vitalis that NZ both needs and has a good environmental record that can be presented internationally. . . 

Nearly 5 million ewes lost in 10 years – Mel Croad:

The breeding ewe flock continues to battle land use changes and wavering popularity with farmers. However, with many water regulations and policies negatively targeting cattle, sheep farming could find favour once again. Achieving any growth in ewe numbers will be hard in the next 12 months though.

The latest Beef + Lamb NZ Stock Survey estimates breeding ewe numbers held at 16.86 million head. While the breeding flock has stabilised, there could be a real inability to build numbers. The number of hoggets that dispersed this year is the greatest issue. Drought conditions forced farmers to offload hoggets rather than keep them as replacements. This partially explains why the 2019 lamb crop was recently revised higher by over 500,000 head. 

Forecasts peg breeding hogget numbers to be back by 740,000 head on last year, mostly within the North Island. Chances are not all these hoggets were mated this year, or would have even entered the breeding flock next year, but the significant drop in numbers creates a couple of issues. . . 

A precious endeavour:

A possum hunter, a farming couple and a young Polish man are part of the small community who live in Endeavour Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds where, even in this remote spot, the effects of the global pandemic are being felt.

Country Life visited the bay and discovered Covid-19’s tentacles have a long reach indeed.

Listen duration22:24

A hammock in the bush and a feed of wild goat is heaven to Endeavour Inlet’s Possum Gary.

The tall lean Southlander has been living on and off in the bush around the furthest reaches of the inlet in the Marlborough Sounds for about five years now, setting traps and living off the land.

Endeavour Inlet is at the Cook Strait end of Queen Charlotte Sound/ Tōtaranui, a good hour from Picton by boat. . .

Green Party activists told don’t use ‘big words’ when talking to rural voters and Travellers – Cormac McQuinn:

GREEN Party activists have been told not to use ‘big words’ when trying to appeal to rural voters as they may not understand what they mean.

Senator Róisín Garvey said party members need to “choose their words” adding that she learned this from working with Travellers.

Ms Garvey made the remarks at the party’s National Convention during a debate on the “anti-Green narrative” in rural areas that sees the party struggle to win votes outside the big cities.

The Clare-based Senator said of rural voters: “we don’t have to give them statistics on carbon this and climate that and use big vocabulary. . . 


Rural round-up

03/10/2020

Project will identify marketing potential of regenerative agriculture – Allan Barber:

Earlier this year before lockdown B+LNZ announced its intention to conduct research into consumer attitudes to red meat produced using regenerative agriculture practices. This project has now been bolstered by an injection of financial support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and the involvement of the wine industry’s Bragato Research Institute which is keen to discover any potential for improving vineyard management, as well as evolving brand messaging across the wine industry.

B+LNZ’s purpose in conducting the research is to discover what RA, and as a result, the food produced from it mean to consumers in three major markets for our beef, lamb and venison. The research will explore the attitudes of consumers, retailers and experts in the USA, UK and Germany to identify how or if it can be defined in the New Zealand context, whether it can produce a premium and, just as relevant, what it implies for producers. An essential objective will be to determine how far current farming practice in this country conforms to the perception of RA in each of these markets. . . 

Ballance shareholders elect new director:

Dani Darke, one of six candidates vying for a spot on Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board of Directors, was announced as the successful North Ward candidate at the 2020 Annual shareholders meeting (AGM).

Andrew Morrison was also re-elected uncontested for the South Island Ward.

Newly elected Chair, Duncan Coull, congratulated Dani and Andrew, at last nights (30 September 2020) AGM. For the first time Shareholders were able to attend and participate in the AGM virtually and in person.

There are nine Ballance Directors, three independently appointed and six elected from North and South Island wards. . . 

Political panel webinar addresses rural health crisis:

On Tuesday evening, spokespeople from the four biggest political parties took part in the Rural Health Political Panel Webinar, convened by the Rural General Practice Network (the Network) and Mobile Health to address the crisis facing rural health and inequitable health outcomes for rural people, especially Māori. The webinar has been recorded and is available here.

The focus of the webinar was to give each Party the opportunity to respond to the Network’s Rural Health Election Manifesto and its three focus areas: workforce development, sustainable funding, and digital/connectivity.

There was a positive consensus from all four parties that rural health is important, and all indicated commitment to a rural health plan. . . 

Lifestyle blocks link town and country:

Despite the level of uncertainty Covid-19 has injected into everyday life globally, the New Zealand property market continues to remain strong and no more so than for rural lifestyle blocks.

Latest real estate data indicates just how strong this market has been for the past few tumultuous months. Sales for the three months to the end of August are up a massive 44 percent on the same period last year, at 2,354 properties sold. This marks the busiest sales period for over five years in the lifestyle block market.

Meantime year to date sales prove this is more than a blip, with the 7,298 properties sold to the end of August up six percent on last year. . . 

New research conducted by Lund University together with Tetra Pak presents four plausible scenarios for the future of the dairy industry​:

Tetra Pak and the Lund University School of Economics and Management have recently completed a joint study that presents four plausible scenarios for the future of the dairy industry. The study analyses six key global markets to examine the critical uncertainties of social environmental forces and technological transitions that could shift the dairy landscape in the next ten years.

Frederik Wellendorph, Vice President Business Unit Liquid Food, Tetra Pak said: “The Food & Beverage sector will undergo an enormous transformation over the next decade, with the dairy industry feeling this most acutely. Clearly, many challenges lie ahead – but there are plenty of opportunities for manufacturers too. The key to success in the new landscape will be in embracing flexibility and proactively responding to the wave of disruptive changes.”

Dr. Christian Koch, Lund University School of Economics and Management, said: “The global dairy industry is at the very heart of the global food transformation, and the contours of this transition are already starting to take shape. . . 


Rural round-up

12/09/2020

New freshwater rules ‘terrible’ for West Coast – regional chair – Lois Williams:

More resource consents, more monitoring, more money and more staff – the government’s new rules for managing freshwater will cost the West Coast big-time, according to regional council chairman Allan Birchfield.

The final policies and regulations on freshwater came into force last week and regional councils around the country now have to enforce them.

Among them, the new wetland rules posed the biggest headache and expense for the West Coast, Birchfield said.

The West Coast Regional Council had spent more than 10 years mapping and defining significant wetlands throughout the region, as required by the government under the Resource Management Act. . . 

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Demand for merino wool drops 40% – Maja Burry:

Demand for Merino wool has taken a hit, with fine wool prices at auction back by about 40 percent on this time last year.

Merino sheep are typically shorn between July and October. The main selling period for this wool runs from August through to early December.

Crossbred wool, typically used in carpets, makes up about 85 percent of New Zealand’s wool clip. Fine wools such as Merino attract a premium price and are often used in high end garments including sportswear and suits.

AgriHQ said at auction fine wool in the 17-18 micron range was fetching $13 to $15 a kilogram clean, down 35 to 40 percent on last year. . . 

US pandemic crisis stalls delivery of quad bikes for NZ farmers– Eric Frykberg:

Covid-19 has hit the farming community in an unexpected way: it is drying up the supply of farm vehicles such as quad bikes.

That is because factories that assemble them in the United States have had their production disrupted by the virus April.

Even where a factory has continued assembling the vehicles, vital spare parts have often been held up when the coronavirus has hit outsourced supply companies, meaning the final product cannot be completed because one vital component is missing.

“Sometimes, we are a month behind waiting for the stock to come in,” said dealer Blair Howden of Winton Motorcycles in Southland. . . 

Green vegetables grow at the foot of big mountains – Keith Woodford:

Green vegetables and hydroponics combine nicely when consumers are close but productive land is scarce

Green vegetables are best produced close to where people live.  But nature often needs a little help to make it happen.  That is where glasshouses and hydroponics come into play.  It is a combination that allows green vegetables to be grown throughout the year in most parts of New Zealand while still being aligned to nature.

Some of my readers will know that I am a fan for the mountains of the Otago Lakes District.  Also, for more than 50 years I have been a skier, becoming even more enthusiastic as the years go by, with skiing now providing both joy and adrenaline for a retired mountaineer. . . 

Rural Insight: NZ trial to crunch regen numbers:

Regenerative agriculture has become something of a buzzword in farming and food circles over the past year, and the subject of well populated field days, chat groups and media coverage.

As a practice, “regenerative” agriculture covers a broad sweep of land use practices, with a focus on regenerating topsoil while also improving water quality, building plant biodiversity on-farm and reducing the level of cultivation and tillage.

For its part, New Zealand is beginning to play catch up on acquiring data on its own regenerative experience.

In Canterbury, the Align Group of farms with four dairy units over 1,500ha has committed to a regenerative trial, effectively splitting the operation into conventional and regenerative across two dairy farms. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/08/2020

All well and good – Sam Owen:

Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen has learned from experience about the importance of looking after his mental health. Sam shares his story and his tips for maintaining wellbeing.

An overwhelming sense of joy or happiness doesn’t sound like depression or anxiety, but to me this is one of my triggers. That’s because I know it will usually be followed by an impending sense of ‘the only way is down from here’.

My wife Jacqui and I are 50:50 sharemilkers. We live on-farm with our kids Abbie (13) and Rhys (11). We’re milking 260 cows on 70ha (effective), on the W and T van de Pas farm at Eureka, just east of Hamilton.

I’m a DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leader (DEL), and a board member for the Port Waikato School Camp. I’m very focused on getting young people into the sector. Jacqui is also a qualified lawyer who contributes time to the Rural Support Trust. Both of us are passionate ambassadors for mental health and wellbeing. . .

‘Blown away’ by response to wool petition – Sally Rae:

South Otago sheep and beef farmer Amy Blaikie has been “absolutely blown away” by the response to her wool petition.

In June, Mrs Blaikie launched a petition calling on the House of Representatives to ensure all publicly funded buildings and KiwiBuild homes were built or refurbished with New Zealand wool carpet and insulation.

Tomorrow, Mrs Blaikie, her husband Victor and their children are due to head to Wellington, where she has asked New Zealand First list MP and Lawrence farmer Mark Patterson to present the petition, which has been signed by more than 14,000 people.

She said she was not only overwhelmed by the number of signatures but also by the phone calls and communication she had received. . . 

Is regenerative agriculture the real deal – Keith Woodford:

Regenerative agriculture is in vogue as a concept but what does it really mean?

I often get asked my opinion about regenerative agriculture.  My standard rejoinder is to ask what does the questioner mean by ‘regenerative agriculture’? That typically gets a response that it is somewhat of a mystery to them, but it is a term they keep hearing, and supposedly it is the way we need to act to save the planet.  My next rejoinder is that I too am struggling to know what it means.

Then some two weeks ago I was asked to join a focus group for a research project looking into what regenerative agriculture means specifically in the New Zealand context. The project has considerable backing, including from the Government-funded ‘Our Land & Water National Science Challenge’.

I was unable to participate in the focus group on account of another commitment. But it did make me think it was time for me to do my own research and find out what the term actually stood for. . . 

Application for prestigious agricultural award open:

Being mentored by some of the greatest leaders in the Australasian agriculture industry might sound appealing, but how about travelling by private jet as part of the experience? This very opportunity will be available to one young Kiwi or Aussie again next year, when they take out the 2021 Zanda McDonald Award.

The search is once again on for talented young individuals across Australia and New Zealand, with registrations opening for the annual award today.

Now in its seventh year, the award recognises those who are passionate about agriculture, wanting to make a difference in their sector, and looking to take their career to the next level. There’s an impressive prize package up for grabs, that will put the winner in the passenger seat with some of the biggest and best agriculture operators across both countries, through the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) network. . .

A love letter to the mighty Mataura River :

Dougal Rillstone’s new book, Upstream in the Mataura details his 70-year fascination for the Mataura River from his childhood in Gore through until the present day. 

Rillstone said he became fascinated by the river when he was still a child and at that time it was a place of recreation for swimming and picnicking.

He said one particular incident is imprinted in his memory.

“A memory of swimming in the river, a place we called the bend just on the north side of Gore, on a flat calm pool into the evening, sun dropping and my father was swimming near me because I couldn’t really swim properly, but I was in the river up to my shoulders and trout started to rise all around us and I was totally mesmerised by it – it’s what I later came to realise is called the ‘mad Mataura rise’.” . . 

 

Farm biosecurity a good BVD insurance:

Biosecurity is high on most New Zealanders’ minds this year, thanks largely to Covid-19 and the need to keep it firmly on the country’s border edges to avoid it spreading throughout the community. For New Zealand farmers there is another disease that does not affect humans which can, also with good biosecurity, be avoided.

Estimates are about 80% of this country’s dairy and beef herds have been exposed to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). Over the past decade as more herds have cleared it, they have again become susceptible, or “naïve”. This leaves them with no resistance to a disease that can account for a variety of undiagnosed ailments.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager says comprehensive control of BVD relies upon three key planks in any farm campaign – testing/culling, vaccination, and biosecurity. . . 

Ballance’s financial results are a positive sign for New Zealand primary sector:

New Zealand is looking to, and counting on, the primary sector to underpin our economy. The sector provides opportunities for thousands of kiwis every day.

Owned by 19,000 farming families, Ballance Agri-Nutrients is well positioned to support the sector to drive the prosperity of NZ with a strong balance sheet and another year of consistent farmer and grower rebates. Leading into 2021, the Ballance team continues their unrelenting focus on nutrient leadership and leading by science.

“I want to acknowledge all the individuals that come together to form the Ballance team, we are fortunate to have an extremely talented and passionate group focused on delivering value for our shareholders, customers and all kiwis,” says Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke. . . 


Rural round-up

01/07/2020

Regenerative ag’s mythology questioned – David Anderson:

The “mythology” of regenerative agriculture and lack of scientific evidence has prompted two renowned plant scientists to write to Ag Minister Damien O’Connor.

In the letter, Lincoln University’s Professor Derek Moot and retired plant scientist Professor Warwick Scott, express their concerns about the increased profile of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand media and farming sectors.

They have called on the minister to convene an expert panel of scientists to review all the claims made about practice.

“It is important that sound science drives our agricultural systems,” they say. “We believe such a panel should provide a robust critique of the claims made about ‘regenerative agriculture’ to ensure the public, industry and policy makers have a balanced and scientifically informed view of the ideas promulgated.” . .

Rachel Stewart on the Green Party and farmers:

To say Rachel Stewart isn’t backward in coming forward is somewhat of an understatement.

The self-described “ex-media, ex-farmer, ex-train driver” falconer has often ruffled feathers with her forthright opinions – especially when it comes agriculture.

So Stewart’s’ recent Twitter activity, criticising the Green Party and coming out in support of farmers, caught the attention of The Country’s Jamie Mackay, who invited her to talk on today’s show.

The Greens are moving away from their environmental roots and becoming too urban, Stewart told Mackay. . . 

Seeking new markets in the West – Keith Woodford:

Neither Europe nor the USA are going to do us any trading favours. It is all about self-interest

In recent weeks I have been exploring and writing about some of the challenges in finding new markets that would allow New Zealand to stem its increasing reliance on China. My focus in the last three trade articles has been first on North East Asia, then the ASEAN countries of South East Asia, then South Asia and Iran. This week I look further west to Europe and the Americas before completing the circle.

First to recap a little.

The emergence of China as the most important trading partner of New Zealand has been a function of natural alignment between what New Zealand produces and what China wanted, complemented by New Zealand also wanting what China has been producing at lower cost than anyone else. . .

Tomato red spider mite pest discovered in New Zealand for first time – Maja Burry:

A pest known for damaging tomato plants and other crops has been detected in New Zealand for the first time

Biosecurity New Zealand said two populations of the tomato red spider mite (Tetranychus evansi) were found near Auckland Airport and in Pakuranga as part of routine surveillance several weeks ago.

Tomato red spider mites are the size of a full stop and are very difficult to identify. The mite’s main hosts are plants in the Solanaceae family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. They also attack beans, kumara and some ornamentals – roses and orchids. . .

Juniper hunt seedlings could grow New Zealand’s first gin berry plantation – Robin Martin:

New Zealand is one step closer to establishing the country’s first plantation of Juniperus communis – whose berries are the key ingredient of gin – following a nationwide search for the elusive conifer.

About 40 trees were discovered as part of the Great New Zealand Juniper Hunt, and seedlings are now being nurtured at Massey University and at two locations in Taranaki.

Egmont Village lifestyle block owner Marlene Busby had aspirations of making gin herself when she snipped a bit of juniper bush at a garden centre some 30 years ago.

“At the time I sort of took a little bit. They were going to pull them out anyway so it didn’t really [matter] any way. . . 

Waitaki’s geological wonderland – Mike Yardley:

Crossing the border dividing Canterbury from Otago, the Waitaki River, is like a pathway into another world. A region built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world. The wondrous Waitaki District has always been proud of its rocks, lustily exemplified by the creamy pure texture of Oamaru Stone that underpins the classic good looks of the historic town’s Victorian Precinct. But before hitting town, I ventured west into the heart of the Waitaki Valley, to delightful Duntroon, with its pending designation as a Global Geopark by UNESCO. As Australasia’s first Geopark, it threads together the spell-binding natural landforms, abundant fossil finds and rich cultural history of the Waitaki Valley, which was under sea when Zealandia drifted away from Gondwana. Seismic forces later thrust the ancient seabed upwards, at the same time that the Southern Alps were formed.

Robert Campbell, the wealthy land-owner and runholder established Duntroon in 1864, naming it in honour of his Scottish birthplace. This cute-as-a-button village is home to the Vanished World Fossil Centre, but before heading there, don’t miss Duntroon’s assorted trove of evocative landmarks. . .


Rural round-up

18/06/2020

Farmers must drive change – Colin Williscroft:

Catchment groups offer farmers the chance to take the lead in freshwater quality enhancement while maintaining profits. 

In the process they encourage thriving farming communities, presenters told a Beef + Lamb eforum.

Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective chairman Roger Dalrymple said community catchment groups let farmers make change from the bottom up rather than having it forced on them from the top down, which has often been the approach.

Farmers in catchment groups can help lift knowledge and education and have more control of pressure to make environmental improvements while ensuring their businesses remain sound. . . 

Tough road ahead for wool – Sally Rae:

The costs incurred in shearing crossbred sheep are starting to seriously impede the profitability of sheep farming, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report says.

Strong wool prices were at the lowest level recorded this decade while shearing costs accelerated, a trend that would only continue. Returns were “absolutely dismal” and that situation was unlikely to improve significantly until existing stocks had cleared, the report said.

Wool had built up throughout the pipeline with in-market stocks elevated, local wool stores full and product starting to pile up in wool sheds.

End-user demand for coarse wool remained tied to carpet production. Wool carpets were generally still expensive relative to synthetic carpet which would make selling wool products even more challenging as global economic conditions imploded. . . 

Too important for lazy labels – Mike Manning:

The espoused benefits of regenerative agriculture have captured headlines recently. Proponents argue climate, soil health, waterways and food nutrition can all be improved by taking a regenerative approach. 

That’s quite a list for a cure-all.

Before we throw the export-dollar-generating baby out with the conventional-farming bathwater it pays to probe beneath the buzzword. Where did the concept come from and what is actually meant by the word regenerative?

The concept of regenerative agriculture originated from justifiable concerns about how continuous arable cropping can degrade soils, an example of which occurred in North American wheat and cornfields. The notorious dust bowls of the 1930s were the result of soil problems such as loss of organic matter, compaction, reduced water-holding capacity and diminishing fertility. . . 

New sheep breed key to organic success for Southland family :

Imagine a breed of sheep that requires no dagging, shearing, vaccinations or dipping. It is highly fertile, lives a reproductive life of 15 years or more and puts all of its energy into producing meat.

It has been a 30-year labour of love for Tim and Helen Gow and their family at Mangapiri Downs organic stud farm and this year they are busy selling more than 100 Shire stud rams.

The Gow family established their Wiltshire flock in 1987 after seeing them in England a couple of years earlier.

“Wiltshire horned are believed to have descended from the Persian hair meat sheep brought to Britain by the Romans as the first British meat sheep,” he said. . . 

Reproductive results: Bay of Plenty farm almost halves its empty rate:

A focus on cow condition helped Jessica Willis almost halve the empty rate on a dairy farm she managed for four years.

The 31-year-old ran a 48-hectare farm, milking 150 Holstein Friesians at Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty until May 2020.

The flat property was below sea level and got extremely wet during the winter and spring.

“It was a constant juggling act to ensure cows didn’t pug paddocks and damage pasture when it was wet,” said Willis. . . 

Farming for the future – Virginia Tapscott:

In a eucalyptus forest east of Monto in central Queensland, fat, glossy cattle have retreated to the shade to escape the midday sun. The sun in northern Australia stings even in the cooler months. Flicking flies with their tails, the animals seem completely oblivious to the vital role they have played in the transformation of Goondicum Station. They have enabled Rob and Nadia Campbell to capitalise on the dawn of an unconventional agricultural trade — natural capital.

Not only is the private sector paying them for their bushland and the carbon it captures, but the bank manager is on board too. National Australia Bank has recognised the value of environmental improvements that began at Goondicum in the 1960s, cutting interest rates on parts of the station under conservation. The grazing systems developed by successive generations of the Campbell family have allowed large areas of native vegetation to regenerate and encouraged native wildlife populations to increase. . . 


Rural round-up

12/06/2020

Experts call for review of regenerative farming ‘mythology’ –  Sally Rae;

Two prominent plant science academics have called for the establishment of an expert panel of scientists to review claims made about regenerative agriculture.

In a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Dr Derrick Moot, a professor of plant science at Lincoln University, and retired senior lecturer Dr Warwick Scott said they were concerned about the “mythology” of regenerative agriculture “and its worrying increased profile in the New Zealand media and farming sectors”.

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers had world-leading agricultural practices and the underpinning scientific principles of the country’s current agricultural systems were in danger of being devalued by a system they believed had several serious shortcomings, they said.

They were particularly concerned the “erroneous publicity” about regenerative agriculture would divert the limited New Zealand agricultural science resources from more important, substantive issues.

To define regenerative agriculture was difficult, the pair said. . . 

Dairy industry needs skilled, willing workers, wherever they’re from – Esther Taunton:

“New Zealand’s dairy industry has a shortage of skilled and willing workers.”

It’s a simple sentence so why does such a large chunk of the non-dairy farming population seem to have a problem understanding the key words – “skilled” and “willing”?

When Stuff ran the story of two South Island farmers desperately trying to get their skilled migrant workers back across our closed borders before the start of calving, it took just minutes for the keyboard warriors to roll out the same tired accusations and arguments.

“Serves them right for choosing migrants over Kiwis!” they cried.

But they didn’t. Not without trying to find Kiwi workers first, anyway. Because even if they didn’t want to employ New Zealanders, farmers have a legal obligation to advertise for local staff before they’re able to start recruiting offshore. . . 

Strong 2019/20 financial result for Zespri helps support regional New Zealand:

2019/20 Financial Results Summary:
• Total Operating revenue: NZ$3.36 billion
• Total fruit sales revenue: NZ$3.14 billion
• Total New Zealand-grown fruit and service payments: $1.96 billion
• New Zealand and Non-New Zealand trays sold: 164.4 million trays
• Zespri’s net profit after tax NZ$200.8 million
• Expected Total Dividends: NZ$0.94

Almost NZ$2 billion was returned to New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry following Zespri’s 2019/20 season, helping support thousands of businesses, workers and regional communities around the country.

Zespri’s 2019/20 Financial Results show total fruit and service payments, which are returns direct to the New Zealand industry, increased by 8 percent year on year to NZ$1.96 billion. . . 

Meating’ the need:

While COVID-19 lockdown rules have now been eased, many New Zealand foodbanks remain under huge pressure as breadwinners lose their jobs and savings run dry.

To help keep up with this demand and to provide something a bit different from the regular food box items, a charity set up by farmers is connecting donated produce from farmers with processors and foodbanks.

‘Meat The Need’ was founded by South Island farmers Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley. Since it started in mid-April, meat from more than 200 animals, including cattle, sheep and deer, has been donated to food banks around the South Island, enough for a staggering 90,000 meals for vulnerable families! . . 

Expos aimed at creating win-win – Tracey Roxburgh:

A Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) initiative is hoping to create a win-win from the Covid-19 economic crisis.

The SIT is holding two Agricultural Redeployment Expos, one each in Queenstown and Te Anau, this week, hoping to attract people who may have lost jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector to retrain in the agricultural sector, which is facing a shortage of about 150 skilled machinery operators this year.

Annually, the agriculture sector has sought fill those roles with workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, in particular, but given border closures this year due to the global pandemic, that will not be possible. . . 

Native plants sequester carbon for longer – Marc Daalder:

A new study indicates native plants, despite their tendency to grow more slowly than exotic species like Pinus Radiata, are better at storing carbon in the soil for longer periods of time, Marc Daalder reports

Exotic plant species release 150 percent more carbon dioxide from the soil than native New Zealand plants, according to a new study from the Bio-Protection Research Centre published in Science.

The research is the latest development in an extended scientific debate over whether to prioritise planting native or exotic species to increase biodiversity and fight climate change.

While it doesn’t upset the longstanding scientific consensus that faster-growing plants sequester more carbon – and that exotic species planted outside their usual range will grow faster – the study does complicate the picture of the carbon cycle. . . 

Time for EU to commit to level playing field for trade:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU.

Details leaked ahead of the 8th round of EU-NZ FTA negotiations have revealed the EU is seeking to maintain an extreme level of market access restriction against New Zealand dairy exports. The leaked EU market access offer comes despite both parties having committed to ‘work towards a deep, comprehensive, and high-quality Free Trade Agreement’.

DCANZ Chairman, Malcolm Bailey, says the reported EU offer, comprised of miniscule quota volumes and high in-quota tariffs, could never credibly form part of a free trade agreement between the economies. . . 


Rural round-up

22/05/2020

RA 20 virus danger to NZ farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation. It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus, which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long-term than COVID-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA 20, but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. RA 20 is believed to have originated in the Great Plains in America. It quickly spread to the Australian Outback and then hopped the ditch to New Zealand.

Interestingly, like Covid-19, it is particularly severe in those weakened by other complicating factors. Some victims are known to have no knowledge of the important values of science, evidence, logic and reason. Another cohort includes those who know little about the principles of soil fertility, pasture management and animal husbandry.  . . 

Film gets monkey off his back – David Anderson:

A young Kiwi, Los Angeles-based, filmmaker has made good use of the lockdown period to help farmers battling with mental health issues.

Twenty-year-old Hunter Williams has shot and produced a short video that addresses the poorer mental health outcomes facing the rural sector. The short film encourages rural people to talk about the struggles they may be facing and not keep their feelings bottled up.

Williams told Rural News that he’d had his own mental health issues growing up and the film was something that was close to his heart. The eight minute documentary is called ‘The Monkeys on Our Backs’. Various farmers and organisations have been involved in the production, including the Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong.

Williams was raised in Hawkes Bay and comes from a large farming family. 

Venison marketers building on-line and retail sales :

Marketers of New Zealand farm-raised venison are making a concerted push to build sales through on-line outlets and through gourmet retailers. This gourmet product, normally sold mainly through food service distributors to chefs, has been particularly hard-hit by the sound of restaurant doors slamming shut around the globe.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says Covid-related restaurant shut-downs created a crisis for their food service suppliers and the farmers that supply them. Demand from chefs for NZ farm-raised venison – one of the industry’s greatest assets – overnight became a vulnerability.

“Fortunately our venison export marketers and/or their overseas partners already had small retail and on-line marketing programmes. They are now putting a lot of energy into generating more sales through these channels, while looking out for the green shoots of recovery in food service.” . . 

Potato prices reach all-time high in April:

Rising prices for potatoes, soft drinks (large bottles), capsicums, and fresh eggs saw overall food prices up 1.0 percent in April 2020, Stats NZ said today.

Potato prices rose 18 percent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo, an all-time peak.

Some media reports suggest the potato industry has seen a 30–50 percent increase in demand from supermarkets and a shortage of workers.

“Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said. . . 

Hunting industry requires domestic support:

New Zealand’s guided hunting industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and is appealing for support from domestic hunters looking for a unique hunting experience.

“Guided hunting was worth over $50 million a year to the New Zealand economy and provided primarily international visitors with fantastic Kiwi hunting experiences on both private and public land,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “It has also been an extremely important employer in provincial regions and has a low impact on our environment.”

“It really has been a New Zealand tourism success story.” . . 

Why your rural sales reps won’t sell remotely – St John Craner:

Remote selling isn’t something new yet we’re seeing a lot of resistance to it right now.

Many clients are telling us their reps won’t sell remotely, complaining that they “need to see the customer”.

Whilst I buy that argument in-part, selling remotely has been around for a wee while. Phone, email or online have been a stable source of sales for years. They aren’t new technologies. 

The real reason why most sales reps feel they can’t sell remotely is because of fear. . . 


Rural round-up

21/12/2019

 Australian farmers receive sick letters telling them to ‘use a bullet on themselves – Karen Ruiz:

Farmers across NSW have become the targets of abusive letters urging them to ‘use a bullet’ on themselves if they ‘can’t handle’ the drought. 

Several residents in Dubbo, Walgett and Peak Hill in the state’s western region reported receiving the disturbing notes last month, police said.  

One of the letters, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, had been typed in a large font on white paper and is believed to have been hand delivered.   . . 

Profit shortfall from regenerative grazing spelt out – Shan Goodwin:

ANALYSIS has shown running a livestock operation under regenerative agriculture principles over a period of ten years sets profit back to the tune of $2.46m.

The work by prominent farm business consultants Holmes Sackett found farms not classified as RA systems generated operating returns of 4.22 per cent, compared to those who were classified RA returning only 1.66pc.

Holmes Sackett director John Francis said the analysis was not a criticism of the philosophy of RA but an analysis of the financial performance of these systems relative to other farm management practices. .

Farmers’ tips for staying well :

How do other farmers look after themselves and their teams? Check out the advice below, including some great ideas from Farmstrong.

Farmstrong’s top tips

Farmstrong is a nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative that helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming. Here are some of its suggestions for keeping well.

    • Stay connected – Surround yourself with a network of people you can reach out to. It can be as simple as having a conversation in the pub or over the fence.
    • Keep active – Biking, walking, hunting, team sport – whatever appeals. It keeps you ‘farm fit’, boosts your mood and gets you off-farm.
    • Enjoy the small stuff – When you’re working, take a moment to stop and enjoy the view or the nature. Not a bad office, is it?
    • Eat well – Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank to keep your energy levels up.
    • Look after yourself, look after your team – People are the most important part of the dairy sector. . .

Sheep milk more easily digested than cow milk – study:

Sheep milk’s protein is more readily digested and its fats are more readily converted into energy compared to cow milk, a New Zealand study has shown. The milk’s unique composition could make it a good option for the very young and the elderly, sports nutrition, and people who are looking for alternatives to cow’s milk, researchers say.

Anecdotally, evidence from consumers already suggests that sheep milk may be better tolerated than cow milk by some people.

This is believed to be the first human study in the world to investigate how differences in the composition of New Zealand sheep milk affect ease of digestion, digestive comfort, and the body’s ability to make use of milk protein. . . 

Fonterra to streamline Chilean operations:

Fonterra has purchased the minority interest in Prolesur, held by Fundación Isabel Aninat (the Fundación), as the Co-op looks to streamline its operations in Chile.

The Fundación has sold its 13.6% shareholding for $29.3 million NZD, which takes Fonterra’s ownership of Prolesur from 86.2% to 99.9%.

Prolesur is a milk processor in southern Chile which sells most of its production to Soprole. Soprole is a leading consumer branded dairy company in Chile and is 99.9% owned by Fonterra. . . 

Strong start to dairy export season:

Dairy led the rise in goods exports in November 2019 as milk powder exports reached $1.1 billion, Stats NZ said today.

This is the highest value of milk powder exports for a November month since dairy exports peaked in 2013.

The value of dairy exports (milk powder, butter, and cheese) increased $348 million in November 2019. Dairy was the main contributor to total goods exports reaching $5.2 billion, up $371 million from the same month last year. . . 

Big effort to deliver sustainable premium for NZ food:

Much has been made about New Zealand’s status as “100% Pure” and how much, or how little, needs to be done to keep that claim valid.

While that debate rumbles on, the primary sector has been doing much to deliver on Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s promise to the United Nations in September 2019 that New Zealand will be “the most sustainable food producing country in the world.”

As overseas consumers have become increasingly sophisticated and demand to know where their food has been sourced from, all parts of the New Zealand primary sector have been working to ensure the “paddock to plate” story is more than just a story.  . . 


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