Rural round-up

June 22, 2018

Chinese eggs not all in one basket – Fonterra – Sudesh Kissun:

China’s digital world is second to none, but Fonterra isn’t putting all its eggs in one basket in selling fresh and packaged food.

Fonterra chief operating officer global consumer and foodservice Lukas Paravacini says the co-op is embracing e-commerce and traditional brick-and-mortar as its sales strategy.

Speaking at a recent New Zealand China Business Council conference in Auckland, Paravacini outlined lessons Fonterra has learned over the last five years while building a $3.4 billion business in China. . .

Communication seen as key in eradication – Sally Rae:

A Mycoplasma bovis-affected farmer’s heartfelt plea for communication brought a round of applause at a meeting in North Otago yesterday.

About 100 people attended the MPI roadshow at Papakaio, including Waimate farmer Martyn Jensen, who described himself as “farm No39 infected”.

He addressed the meeting reluctantly, as a dairy support farmer who was grazing heifers for a farmer whose herd was confirmed with having M. bovis.

In April, the farmer contacted Mr Jensen to tell him of the infection and, several weeks later, he was contacted by MPI.

What made it harder was they were “perfectly good” heifers and there had not been one clinical sign of the disease. . . 

‘M. bovis’ concerns aired at MPI meeting – Tom Kitchin:

Government officials say they are doing all they can to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis but there are still major concerns from farmers in the Central Otago region.

About 80 people attended a meeting held by the Ministry for Primary Industries in Alexandra yesterday.

A woman in the audience said she thought the ministry was “struggling”. . .  . . 

Rabbits not dying like flies – Nigel Malthus:

Scientists say although the new rabbit calicivirus is working as expected, farmers are not seeing the knockdown they may have hoped for.

The new strain of rabbit haemorrhagic virus disease, RHDV1-K5, was released several weeks ago at 150 sites.

Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research) has monitored release sites since then. . .

Comvita buys 20% stake in Uruguay’s Apiter for US$6.25M to secure propolis supplies – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita said it has acquired 20 percent of Uruguay’s Apiter for US$6.25 million and signed a long-term supply agreement to secure another source of propolis for sales into Asia.

The purchase price is comprised of US$5.65 million in cash and milestone earnouts and US$600,000 of Comvita shares, with settlement due on July 2, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Propolis is made by bees from plant resins to protect and sterilise their hives. . .

New Zealand’s ultimate steak connoisseur judging experience:

We found New Zealand’s Ultimate Steak Connoisseur, Gretchen Binns and brought her along to help determine the country’s tastiest and most tender steak at the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin competition. Here is her experience of the day:

Foul weather, farmers, red bands galore, Field days 2018!

The ultimate day of all days…well it was for this steak connoisseur.  And no doubt for a nervous farmer or three whose paddock to plate skills were being put to the ‘taste’.

PGG Wrightson/Beef and Lamb NZ’s Steak of Origin finals time. . .

Steady volume at end of season:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 71 fewer farm sales (-13.8%) for the three months ended May 2018 than for the three months ended May 2017. Overall, there were 443 farm sales in the three months ended May 2018, compared to 418 farm sales for the three months ended April 2018 (+6.0%), and 514 farm sales for the three months ended May 2017. 1,453 farms were sold in the year to May 2018, 18.8% fewer than were sold in the year to May 2017, with 4.0% more finishing farms, 1.7% fewer dairy farms, 36.3% fewer grazing and 34.3% fewer arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2018 was $26,219 compared to $27,212 recorded for three months ended May 2017 (-3.6%). The median price per hectare fell 4.0% compared to April. . .

 Get out of farmers’ way: In the end government interventions end up sustaining, not reducing, rural poverty – Sanjeev Sabhlok

While most other sectors were liberalised in 1991, agriculture was not. Indian farmers arguably remain among the most unfree in the world.

Some claim India won’t be able to feed itself without the government playing a hands-on role in agriculture. But countries like New Zealand and Australia with liberalised agriculture have become more productive. Each Australian farmer produces enough to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas. Liberalisation of agriculture in 1991 in India could well have made us a middle-income nation by now. Instead, our small farmers remain under chronic stress.

Another argument, sometimes made, is that farmers are frequently seen to agitate for government support. That’s not necessarily true. Farmer organisations like the Kisan Coordination Committee and Shetkari Sangathana have for decades opposed government intervention in agriculture. After their leader Sharad Joshi passed away in 2015, new leaders like Anil Ghanwat have vigorously argued for the government to leave farmers alone. . .


Rural round-up

May 3, 2018

Some immunity to virus confirmed – Pam Jones:

Central Otago farmers are still being encouraged to remain patient while the K5 variant continues to takes hold among the rabbit population, even though it has been confirmed some rabbits will be immune to the virus.

The Otago Regional Council announced the first rabbit deaths from RHDV1 K5 earlier this month, saying it was “excellent news” and patience from landowners had been “paying off”.

Omakau farmer and Federated Farmers high country Central Otago chairman Andrew Paterson said at the time it was important landowners were patient, as the regional council had warned interfering with the release programme could limit the spread of the virus in the long term and allow rabbits to build an immunity to the new strain.

Farmers threaten to shoot drones spooking animals:

Horse riders and farmers fed up with unmanned aerial drones traumatising animals want to start shooting them “out of the sky”.

After a Dannevirke horse-rider posted on social media about being harassed by a drone operated by an unseen person, a host of people suggested drones should, and could, be shot if they flew over a farm and were worrying animals.

When approached by Hawke’s Bay Today to clarify whether a drone could be legally shot at over a farm, the Police said a number of agencies, including CAA and the Privacy Commissioner, had a role to play in relation to the use of drones. . . 

Mangarara Family Farm tackles predators with high-flying support:

When Greg Hart’s family moved to Mangarara Station in Central Hawkes Bay in the mid 1990s, they shot 3 possums on their first night at the property – in a cabbage tree growing at the front door. How times have changed. Greg has now taken over the farm from his parents and his oldest son George, 14 years old, has never seen a possum on the farm.

“The Hawkes Bay Regional Council had a massive campaign to eradicate possums,” Greg explains. “They did an outstanding job. They did the initial knockdown and we do the ongoing control with bait stations. . .

Arable farmers consider their options after tough summer season:

Having come through a tough summer for growing crops and with current market signals muted, it appears arable farmers are pulling back on planned autumn plantings.

“The flat prices of the last few years are now rebounding a bit but growers remain hesitant to plant massive areas,” Federated Farmers Arable executive member Brian Leadley said. . .

Four vie for Horticulture New Zealand Board

Four candidates will vie for two positions on the Horticulture New Zealand Board as elections open today, with voting closing on 28 May 2018.

“We haven’t had such a strong contest for some time and the calibre of candidates is an indication of how well horticulture is doing and the high profile the industry is enjoying on the back of that success,” Horticulture New Zealand President Julian Raine says. . .

‘All we want are fair rules for farmers’ – Scott Kovacevic:

BEEF producer Ivan Naggs fears coastal farmers will find themselves hog-tied by red tape if new draft vegetation legislation becomes a reality under the State Government.

Mr Naggs, who has been a member of the Gympie and District Beef Liaison Group, said these laws had the potential to place severe restrictions on their operations.

Small farmers in particular would be left exposed. . . 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2018

Don’t move carcasses ORC warns – Hamish MacLean:

Desperate farmers could be unintentionally sabotaging the release of the new strain of rabbit calicivirus in Otago.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said yesterday he did not want to point fingers, but he had heard “second-hand” that some landowners were attempting to remove carcasses of animals where the virus had been released.

And while “absolutely understandable”, it was a report the council was taking “very, very seriously”, as it could jeopardise plans to create a natural epidemic and knock back the pests’ numbers by up to 40%.

Otago Regional Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said the council’s release of 100 doses of the recently approved RHDV1 K5 (K5) virus was now “substantially complete” with only the “the last few” areas in Queenstown and Coastal Otago outstanding. . . 

Decision time for Gita recovery – Annette Scott:

Taranaki farmers battling the ongoing challenges of the weather gods are facing a critical decision time.

While managing their way through the hammering of Cyclone Gita last month the region’s dairy farmers are also still recovering from the drought, Federated Farmers provincial president Donald McIntyre says.

“Our province was hit this summer with the drought first then we were served another big blow, literally, from the Gita storm. . . 

Officials set up Cook Strait checkpoint to stop cattle disease – Gerard Hutching:

Cattle crossing Cook Strait will be checked from Friday in a bid to stop the disease Mycoplasma bovis travelling north.

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said farmers were not complying with their legal obligations.

“At the weekend I received the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (Nait) Review report, which shows the system is not working well enough. Only 57 per cent of farmers who record their animal movements do so within the required 48 hours. I’m told overall farm-to-farm recording may be as low as 30 per cent.”

Fines of up to $10,000 can be issued for non-compliance. Nait was set up to rapidly and accurately trace animals from birth to slaughter or live export. . . 

Tough times and tough cattle – Annette Scott:

With just a ute, a saddle, a rifle and some dogs as collateral, Rit Fisher walked into a bank in Timaru in 1978 seeking $1.2 million to buy Shenley Station. He told Annette Scott about his odd but fun 40-year farming journey.

Simplicity has been the key to success for Rit Fisher who grew up on Shenley Station, a 3500 hectare sheep and beef property at Albury, inland from Timaru.

Shenley, bought by his grandparents in 1912, has now been farmed by the Fisher family for 106 years. . .

Strong conservation values evident in Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Manaia dairy farmers showing sustainable and appreciable biodiversity and conservation values have won the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Grant, Dinny and Leedom Gibbs from the Gibbs G Trust were announced supreme winners at the region’s awards dinner at the Devon Hotel in New Plymouth on Thursday night (March 22). They will host a field day on their Sutherland Road property on Thursday April 5 at 10.30am.

The dairy farm, 3km south of Manaia on the south Taranaki coast, is among those supervised by Leedom Gibbs, one of Grant and Dinny’s three daughters. Half of the farm is irrigated with two centre-pivots and contains a wetland that was established as part of the farm’s development. Water for the irrigation system is taken by consent from the Waiokura Stream and stock water comes from the Waimate West Water Scheme, on which Grant is a trustee. . .

Whananaki Coastal Charolais owners win Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Whananaki beef farmers Greta and Craig Harman have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The awards were held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands at Paihia, on Wednesday night (21 March). The judges said both the Harmans’ coastal hill properties, home to Whananaki Coastal Charolais, were a showplace of biosecurity and biodiversity management that combine cattle farming, bull breeding and community involvement. They said Greta and Craig have a passion for their stock, the land they farm and for the natural environments that exist within it.

“They show how farming and environmental stewardship can work hand in hand to protect and enhance natural biodiversity while maintaining a productive asset. “The Harmans have completed an extraordinary amount of environmental protection work on the property, not because they had to, but because it was the ‘right thing to do’.” . . 

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Rural round-up

March 21, 2018

New strain of calicivirus released on the Taieri – Elena McPhee:

An important moment for farming in the Taieri area occurred last night, when the Otago Regional Council released the new strain of rabbit-killing calicivirus.

Clad in overalls and armed with a bucketful of contaminated carrots, council environmental officer for biosecurity Kirk Robertson released the virus RHDV1 K5 in the hills near Outram.

He had nine other sites to visit, and across the wider Otago region a team of six or seven people had been laying poisoned carrots in about 100 locations. . .

Struggle to find enough homes for Kaimanawa horses – Alexa Cook:

More than 200 Kaimanawa horses could be sent to slaughter following this year’s muster.

This year is expected to be one of the largest wild horse culls on record, with about 300 animals being mustered from the Waiouru Military Training Area.

The muster is carried out every two years, organised by the Department of Conservation and Kaimanawa Heritage Horses. . . 

Rodeo rider’s success dedicated to mother – Sally Rae:

When Jenny Atkinson won her record sixth national barrel racing title this month, it was a poignant moment.

Mrs Atkinson (44) dedicated the win at the national rodeo finals to her mother, Ann, Ashford, who died in July last year.

And she was delighted to have her father, Ron, in the crowd at Wanaka to watch her ride to victory. . . 

Software softens blow of M. bovis hit:

Good farm records have helped to relieve a South Island farming business of some of the effects of getting through a Mycoplasma bovis infection, reports FarmIQ Systems Ltd, a software company.

MPI placed a restricted place notice on two properties owned by Lone Star Farms in mid-January because they had infected calves. Lone Star was among the first non-dairy businesses identified with the disease.

“We brought in about 400 calves for rearing — 200 of them from a Southland property later found to have M. Bovis,” says Lone Star general manager Boyd Macdonald. “So we know exactly how it’s got here.” . . 

Dairying not all bad tourism not all good – Alistair Frizzell:

Is it fair that the New Zealand dairy industry is criticised while tourism is lauded?

Overseas income from tourism is now claimed to exceed the dairy industry’s export income.

Dairy farmers are accused of polluting not only our waterways but now also our air as a result of burning farm waste. Tourism is said to be ‘clean and green’, rapidly growing and promoting the best of NZ to the rest of the world.

Like many glib statements, the truth is often more complicated. . .

More digital adoption could fuel rural business boom – Gordon Davidson:

GREATER DIGITAL adoption in rural areas could add £12 to £26 billion a year to the UK economy, according to a new report.

Research by Rural England and Scotland’s Rural College, commissioned by Amazon, concluded that greater use of digital tools and services could deliver 4 to 8.8% of additional Gross Value Added per year for the rural economy, as annual business turnover in rural areas grew by at least £15 billion, with rural microbusiness and small-sized business seeing the greatest returns. . . 


Rural round-up

March 10, 2018

Farmer plagued by rabbits in life and grave – Sally Rae:

Sarah Perriam finds it ironic her late grandfather spent his lifetime fighting rabbits – and he is still plagued by them in death.
Looking at signs of rabbits digging on Charlie Perriam’s grave in the Cromwell cemetery yesterday, Ms Perriam recalled how the Central Otago farmer, who died in 2009, even had a team of ferrets to try to keep numbers down on his Lowburn property.

Her own earliest rabbit-related memory was the illegal release of the rabbit calicivirus in 1997, when she was about 12. . . 

Spreading of virus to begin – Hamish MacLean:

The groundwork has begun for the release of a new strain of rabbit virus now approved for use in New Zealand.

A Korean variant of the rabbit calicivirus will be released across the province in about three weeks.

Otago Regional Council staff have started laying the first tranche of pre-feed carrot in select locations around Otago with landowners’ full co-operation and permission.

None of the council’s 100 doses of RHDV1 K5 have been released yet. . .

Defection disappoints – Annette Scott:

A decision by Alliance not to adopt a nationwide meat industry farm quality assurance programme puts the industry’s integrity at risk, Anzco agriculture general manager Grant Bunting says.

Alliance will use its own programme in preference to the red meat industry’s collaborative Farm Assurance Programme (FAP).

The FAP, established to enhance customer confidence in the NZ supply chain, is funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) under a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme. . .

Sheep run riot as Hilux Rural Games begin in Fielding – Sam Kilmister & Bethany Reitsma:

Sheep, working dogs and bales of wool stumbled down Feilding’s main street in a celebration of all things rural.

The Manawatū town heralded the start of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games on Friday with an array of events, including the “running of the wools”. The America’s Cup was also paraded by hometown hero Simon van Velthooven, whose pedal power helped drive Emirates Team New Zealand to victory in Bemuda last year.

People came out in force, crowding the barrier-lined streets, while a mob of the area’s finest woolly residents made their way from the saleyards to the clock tower in Manchester Square and back. . .

Smart Farmer: Ashley Wiese:

For Ashley Wiese, who owns and manages 5,000 hectares in Western Australia, sustainable farming is the smartest way to secure optimum output and food quality, but also to survive as a business in a challenging industry.

Ashley Wiese started off working as an accountant in Perth. However, he always intended to use those skills in agriculture and soon decided to go back to his roots, a farm in Western Australia first established by his great-grandfather. Today, Wiese is the Director of Yarranabee farm. Together with his wife Jo, he farms 5,000 hectares in total: 4,000 hectares of grains such as oats, barley, canola and lupins, and 1,000 hectares of sheep for lamb and wool production. . . 

How can NZ agritech feed the world even more?:

How New Zealand can meet the challenge of feeding some of the predicted global population of 10 billion by 2050, will be a major focus at a Techweek event in Tauranga in May.

World-leading meat, dairy and horticultural industries have established New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of food.

But NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the country’s collaborative agricultural ecosystem is shifting its efforts to developing sustainable ways to feed the world. . .


Rural round-up

January 11, 2017

South Island’s two-year drought ends:

After two years, regions along the South Island’s east coast are no longer considered to be in a state of drought.

In 2015, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy classified the drought as “a medium-scale adverse event” affecting Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago.

The following two years made the drought the longest recorded in this country – but the official period has not been extended since 31 December. . . 

Putting New Zealand’s farming woes in perspective – Pat Deavoll:

Over the last 10 years, I have been a few times to an area of northern Afghanistan called the Wakhan Corridor.

I am reminded of the dichotomy between the farmers of this area and the farmers in New Zealand whenever a weak GlobalDairyTrade auction result is announced, or the poor state of the meat industry is bandied around the media, or a wool auction fails to meet expectations.

The Wakhan Corridor is split east-west by the Panj River. On the northern side is Tajikistan and nomads herd sheep and cattle, and above 4500 metres, yaks.

Bio-diesel drives milk flow – Richard Rennie:

Fuel is starting to flow from New Zealand’s first commercial bio-diesel plant with Fonterra in line to be one of the first large-scale fleet operators to power its tankers with the Z Energy blend.  

Z Energy’s $26 million bio-diesel plant in Wiri, South Auckland began processing tallow based bio-diesel before Christmas, with the first commercial product due to be at the commercial pump by February.  

The plant’s commissioning marked a milestone in the country’s chequered history of domestic bio-fuels production. . . 

New weapon in rabbit war – Neal Wallace:

A NEW strain of rabbit-killing RHD virus could be released this winter.  

Increasing immunity among rabbits means the existing RHDV1, or Czech strain, has become less effective and advocates say the RHDV1 K5, also known as the Korean strain, would overcome protective antibodies and improve kill rates by up to 40%.  Federated Farmers South Canterbury high country section representative Andrew Simpson said the original RHD strain was still working to a point but growing immunity had allowed populations in some areas to recover, meaning a new, virulent strain was needed.  

Rabbits less than three months of age exposed to the Czech strain became immune, which resulted in the population returning to plague proportions in some parts of the South Island. . . 

Consumers drive move back to dairy:

The new year is marked by resolutions, often about healthier lifestyles. A new series backed by Fonterra looks at the nutritional and lifestyle benefits of dairy – and at some of the old views now being slowly discarded.

The Wall Street Journal headline ran over two lines: Grass-Fed Milk Is Taking Off With Health-Conscious Shoppers. It was a sign of things to come.

That was in 2014 – a story about how shoppers were prepared to pay more for grass-fed milk (many cows in the US eat feed derived from corn) because it was considered healthier.

Now, an article on the Gallagher Group’s website relates how US dairy retail supplier Organic Valley (the one highlighted in the WSJ two years ago) is enjoying an 82 per cent dollar growth in their grass-fed yoghurt, more than three times that of non-grass-fed yoghurts. Their Grassmilk brand is the top-selling grass-fed dairy brand in the US, experiencing double-digit growth since its launch in 2012. . . 

WTO decision important for NZ beef and horticulture into Indonesia

Trade Minister Todd McClay today welcomed the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) decision upholding New Zealand’s challenge to 18 agricultural non-tariff barriers imposed by Indonesia.

New Zealand and the United States jointly brought the case against Indonesia in 2013 over a range of barriers imposed on agricultural imports since 2011. These included import prohibitions, use and sale restrictions, restrictive licence terms and a domestic purchase requirement.

The barriers are estimated to have cumulatively cost the New Zealand beef sector alone between half a billion and a billion dollars. As recently as 2010, Indonesia was New Zealand’s second-largest beef export market by volume, worth $180 million a year. . .

Quality Pedigrees Abound at Karaka 2017;

Full-brother to G1 winner Lucia Valentina (NZ) (Savabeel) to be offered at Karaka 2017.

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2017 National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka has impressive depth with a large quantity of siblings and progeny of Group 1 winners.

For the second consecutive year, the National Yearling Sales Series will present a full-sibling to the winner of one of Australia’s richest and most prestigious races. . . 

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Farming it’s an addiction.


Rural round-up

November 3, 2016

Chinese investment fears unfounded – Neal Wallace:

New Zealand pretty much has everything a cash-rich, densely populated country like China desires and needs.

It had an abundant supply of high-quality food and the NZ China Council described the other desirable features as a stable economic and political environment and investor-friendly policies.

But there were two other significant features attracting Chinese investment.

NZ businesses had historically struggled to attract investment capital, especially for the primary sector, and the Chinese government’s Going Out policy encouraged Chinese companies to invest offshore. . .

Extra staff and water crucial for dairy farm production boost – Mike Watson:

Murray and Tanya Frost’s Linkwater dairy farm may seem an oasis of lush, green pasture cover to the casual observer.

But it is clear to the couple more water and more staff are crucial if they are to meet their long term yearly production target of 200,000 kilograms of milksolids.

The couple are about to enter their fifth season of milking after buying the 263 hectare farm on Kenepuru Road four years ago after a stint farming at Cape Foulwind, south of Westport. . .

Is forestry the answer? – Keith Woodford:

In late 2015, the New Zealand Government made a commitment at the Paris climate negotiations that by 2030 New Zealand will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent compared to the 2005 levels. This overall commitment includes methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture. These agricultural emissions are converted for carbon-accounting purposes to the equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide. The daunting and unique challenge for New Zealand is that agriculture emissions comprise some 50 percent of total emissions.

Given the fundamental biology of ruminant animals, there are limits as to what can be done to reduce livestock emissions without drastic destocking. And destocking would have a major impact on the whole economy. Also, in a global context, and unless everyone goes to a vegan diet, eliminating New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture would not make a great deal of sense. This is because New Zealand is one of the more efficient producers of milk and meat on a relative GHG intensity basis. . .

Irish Uni tells students to work down under  – Peter Burke:

Ireland’s largest university is encouraging its dairy business undergraduates to get work experience in New Zealand, and students say the event is a highlight of their four year degree course.

University College Dublin (UCD) is described as Ireland’s global university and its School of Agriculture and Food Science is among its largest schools.

It offers degrees in agri-environmental sciences, food science, human nutrition, forestry, horticulture and a range of options under the broad heading of agricultural science. . .

Rural banking beckons top Massey ag student – Peter Burke:

The winner of the Massey Agricultural Student of the Year prize, DairyNZ scholar Jack van Bussel (20), is planning a future in rural banking.

The award is for the student judged to have made the largest contribution to the wellbeing and reputation of his/her fellow agricultural students.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “When they started describing who the winner was I thought ‘that sounds like me’, but I never really thought it could be. I am honoured to get it, I still can’t believe it and I really appreciate it.” . . .

New biological control for rabits to roll out in 2017 – Bridie Edwards:

A NEW weapon to fight the exploding wild rabbit population will be trialled at 418 sites across the country next year.

The RHDV1 K5 virus will be launched as part of the coalition’s $1.2-million campaign to research and develop new wild rabbit control methods.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, along with community organisations, Landcare groups and government land managers will be participating in the national roll out of the virus. . . .


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