Rural round-up

July 15, 2019

Mystery chopper hangs over stock – Neal Wallace:

Southland farmers are feeling under siege by campaigns believed to be by animal welfare and environmental activists questioning intensive livestock wintering practices.

There have been multiple reports in recent weeks of a helicopter with a camera on the front hovering over stock being wintered on crops in various parts of the province.

Separately, Waikato businessman Angus Robson has confirmed he plans to travel to Southland as part of a campaign highlighting questionable wintering practices. . .

Bacteria key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from sheep – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand scientists have singled out the microbes responsible for producing methane in sheep, a discovery which could help reduce emissions from livestock.

Scientists from AgResearch and Otago University are part of a global team that has identified processes that control methane production in sheep and other ruminant animals like cattle and deer.

As well as identifying gut bacteria which produce hydrogen during digestion in sheep, the researchers discovered which organisms feed on that hydrogen in the production of methane.  . .

New NOIC chief executive – Sally Brooker:

Andrew Rodwell brings international leadership experience to his new job as chief executive of the North Otago Irrigation Company.

He has replaced Robyn Wells, who spent nearly nine years in the role.

Mr Rodwell has a BSc from Canterbury University and a finance diploma from Auckland University’s Graduate School of Business.

As New Zealand’s trade commissioner in Los Angeles he focused on food and agritech, then formed and led a United States subsidiary for Telecom New Zealand. . .

Beekeeper buzzing after honey medals – Richard Davison:

A South Otago beekeeper is enjoying a sweet buzz after flying high at the country’s top honey awards.

Allen McCaw, of Milburn Apiaries near Milton, received the Supreme Award at the ApiNZ National Honey Competition in Rotorua recently, after hauling in two golds, a silver and a bronze medal for his creamed honey entries.

Although he and wife Maria were now working towards retirement, he still enjoyed competing with the honey from his ”cottage” factory to the rear of the couple’s 6.5ha smallholding on State Highway 1, Mr McCaw (69) said. . .

Young Farmers posts big loss – Colin Williscroft:

A one-off gift let Young Farmers record a surplus for its latest financial year instead of a significant loss.

The organisation reported a profit of $4.61 million for the year ending September 30, 2018.

But that was because it was bequeathed a farm valued at $5.5m. 

Its trading results show losses of about $900,000 for the year though chief executive Lynda Coppersmith is confident the organisation is on the right track to ensure that won’t happen again. . .

Stratford shearer Gavin Mutch wins for Scotland at world championships – Mike Watson:

Stratford shearer Gavin Mutch returned to the podium at the world shearing championships in France.

The Scottish-born shearer combined with compatriot Calum Shaw to win the teams’ event at the championships in Le Dorat, western France, at the weekend.

​Mutch and Shaw finished ahead of Welsh pairing Alun Lloyd Jones and Richard Jones, and New Zealand’s Cam Ferguson and Rowland Smith, who were third. . .


Rural round-up

July 2, 2019

Still no certainty over future of Telford -Richard Davison:

South Otago advocates for farm institute Telford have given mixed reactions to reports its long-term future remains undecided.

Reports surfaced this week that new Telford operator the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) had not received confirmation from the Ministry of Education about its future beyond the end of the year.

Doubts that annual ministry funding of $1.8 million would extend beyond December 31 had led SIT to freeze recruitment of international students and rendered longer-term planning for the 55-year-old institute near Balclutha ”difficult”, the reports said. . . . 

Definition of ‘rural’ vital for healthcare :

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network welcomed the Health Research Council’s decision to fund a research proposal to develop a consistent definition of ‘rural’.

NZRGPN represents almost every rural medical practice in the country, as well as the Rural Hospital Network and Rural Nurses.

“Securing funding for this research proposal, which will be led by respected clinician and University of Otago academic Dr Garry Nixon, is an important development for all of New Zealand,” said NZRGPN Chief Executive, Dalton Kelly.

“Generating a clear and consistent definition of what we mean by ‘rural’ sounds mundane and, frankly, boring. But the lack of a consistent definition is leading to inefficient and poorly designed policy and the inability to accurately measure rural outcomes.” . . 

Kiwi search brings more birds into the fold:

One of the most prolific and successful kiwi conservation programmes in the country has a raft of new birds to add to its work after a successful ‘prospecting’ exercise in May. Ten volunteers identified eight new breeding pairs, two breeding pairs that were already known about and five new male birds that can now be tagged and added to the Maungataniwha Kiwi Project operated by the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust in the mountainous forests of inland Hawke’s Bay.

The Trust recently released back into the wild its 300th kiwi reared over 11 seasons as part of the nationwide Operation Nest Egg initiative. This is where eggs are retrieved from nests, incubated and hatched under specialist care, and the resulting chicks reared in predator-proof areas to a size where they can safely be released back into the forests from where their eggs were taken. . . 

Agriculture profits grow:

Operating profit for the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries combined increased $1.0 billion (up 22.1 percent) to $5.6 billion in the 2018 financial year, Stats NZ said today.

Food product manufacturing, and grocery, liquor, and tobacco product wholesaling, which are related to the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries, also had increased profits.

Growth in the primary industries reflects favourable seasonal factors and export prices over this period, as seen by increased exports of beef, lamb, dairy products, logs, and kiwifruit. . . 

 

Genesis invests in McGrath Nurseries:

McGrath Nurseries Ltd, one of New Zealand’s largest and most successful fruit tree nurseries, has been sold to New Zealand investors.

New Zealand based Genesis Private Equity has purchased the nursery business, which is a major supplier of apple, pear, peach, nectarine, plum, apricot and cherry trees to commercial growers all around the country. McGrath Nurseries is the dominant supplier in the New Zealand summerfruit industry, growing more than 90 per cent of cherry trees and more than 75 per cent of apricot trees planted here; and is one of two major New Zealand apple tree nurseries, growing a significant proportion of this country’s apple trees. . . 

 

Female butchers are slicing through the meat world’s glass ceiling – Leoneda Inge:

Kari Underly is slicing through half a hog as if it were as soft as an avocado … until she hits a bone.

“So what I’m doing now is I’m taking out the femur bone,” she explains to a roomful of about 30 women watching as she carves the animal. “The ham is a little bit of a drag, if you will, ’cause we have to make money, and not everybody wants a big ham.”

Underly is a fit, 46-year-old master butcher from Chicago. Her father and grandmothers were butchers. She put herself through college cutting meat. These days, she encourages other women to enter the business. . . 


Rural round-up

May 22, 2019

Nats stunned by methane target – David Anderson:

National’s climate change spokesman Todd Muller says the proposed target for methane reduction puts the New Zealand agricultural sector at “real risk”.

Muller has spent the best part of 12 months negotiating with Climate Change Minister James Shaw to get a workable, bi-partisan deal on agricultural emissions. He told Rural News the proposed methane targets are “widely overdone” and set an “unjustifiable target” for the NZ farming sector.

“There is a body of credible advice – such as recently from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) and Victoria University’s David Frame – that advocates far more sensible targets for methane,” he says. . .

National supports climate change bill but with concerns:

National has decided to support the Climate Change Response Act Amendment Bill through its first reading, but with serious concerns around the proposed methane target and the potential economic impact, Climate Change spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“National is supportive of efforts to reduce emissions, however we must also ensure our approach manages economic impacts and is in line with a global response.

“National supports many elements of the Bill including establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission, a framework for reducing New Zealand’s emissions and a framework for climate change adaptation.

“We have serious concerns about the target level that has been set. . .

 

More than 300 sheep rustled from Waimumu farm – Richard Davison:

Police say a mystery $65,000 stock theft has left the victims “extremely gutted”.

Mataura Police issued a public appeal yesterday, following a lack of leads concerning the rustling of 320 sheep and eight rams from a Waimumu farm, believed to have occurred during Easter.

Mataura Constable Wayne McClelland said a stock theft of this scale was “unusual” in his experience, and had caused considerable distress to the farm owners.

“Obviously a theft of this magnitude, where you’ve lost tens of thousands’ worth of property, would hit anyone pretty hard. It’s a significant loss of assets given the size of the farm in question.” . .

All ‘Barred’-up over M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

South Canterbury rural consultant Sarah Barr says there is a huge degree of anxiety on the ground over the surge in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort.

She told Rural News the announcement of the surge, made just before Easter, was worrying for people who had been previously caught up in the effort.

“People who know they’ve got traces, but haven’t yet been followed up. And people who aren’t involved but are concerned that now they may be.” . . .

North Otago farmer fulfills childhood dream to compete :

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has dreamed of competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final since he was a child. He’ll finally get the chance in Hawke’s Bay this July.

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has ambitious plans to double the size of his sheep flock.

The 28-year-old’s family farm in North Otago has 500 Border-Romney cross ewes, 150-200 trading cattle and arable crops.

He’s in the process of farm succession and is set to take over in July. . .

Genesis reimagines with new product for dairy:

For the first time in New Zealand, dairy farmers will be offered an electricity plan created specifically for their unique energy use with the launch of a new Genesis product, For Dairy.

Genesis Executive General Manager, James Magill, says For Dairy recognises that the way dairy farmers use electricity is far from standard and with this product could ultimately result in savings of

between 5 and 25 per cent off their milking shed electricity bill. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 13, 2019

Two surveys, two different results on water quality  – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Media coverage of the Fish and Game Survey has eclipsed the results from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) released at the end of last year.

Both were done by Colmar Brunton. Both involved approximately 1000 people.

Fish and Game focussed on ‘Perceptions of the environment: what people think’ and had one results chart. MfE’s report was under the title of ‘Environmental Attitudes Baseline’ with 62 pages of results, analysis and reporting of further questions. . .

Milk miracle: New Zealand AgResearch scientists eye new baby booster – Jamie Morton:

Dr Mark McCann calls milk a miracle food.

And for good reason: over millions of years, it has evolved to cram all of the energy and nutrients we need in early life into one package.

“The sheer amount of growth that babies go through in the first 1000 days of life is astounding.”

McCann, a senior research scientist at AgResearch, said one important part of this period was how different organs and systems developed to boost our potential for good health over a lifetime. . . 

Let’s use real wool to make Kiwiana – Julie Geange:

When people from overseas think of New Zealand what do they think of?

The All Blacks, Flight of the Conchords and sheep. New Zealand produces the fourth largest export of sheep meat globally and has around 29 million sheep, although in the past this number has reached 60 million.

When close to four million international visitors come to our shores they look to buy things that will remind them of New Zealand. Visitors who find themselves in a tourist destination, like the Hawke’s Bay, are wanting to get something quintessential Kiwi to take home as a gift. They visit tourist shops and reach for pure white toy sheep decorated with cheeky grins. . .

Hotcompetitionatshearingwoolhandlingevents – RIchard Davison:

Aspiration met perspiration in Balclutha on Saturday, as the nation’s top shearers and woolhandlers battled it out for Otago honours.

Conditions for competitors at the Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were at the challenging end of the spectrum in the town’s War Memorial Hall, as temperatures topped 28degC.

Demonstrating why he is world champion was Gisborne woolhandler Joel Henare, competing in his final South Island event before he retires later this year. . .

NZ’s bid to hold world avocado congress :

The avocado industry has thrown its hat into the ring to bring the Avocado World Congress to New Zealand for the first time in 2023.

The congress, which is held every four years, brings together 2000 people in the industry including growers, researchers and investors.

The New Zealand industry is worth $150 million and it forecast to grow to $1 billion by 2040. . .

Welsh farmer’s daffodils could help 250,000 Alzheimer’s sufferers :

Daffodils grown by a Welsh sheep farmer have been found to contain a higher-than-usual amount of galantamine, a compound known to slow Alzheimer’s disease.

Kevin Stephens’ flowers, grown in the Black Mountains in Wales, produce unusually high amounts of the disease-fighting compound.

His flowers could now be used to help 250,000 patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. . . 


Rural round-up

February 4, 2019

Running Dry – Can NZ thrive without irrigation? – Eric Frykberg:

The government has pulled its backing for big irrigation projects, but smaller ones are still getting financial support. For Insight rural reporter, Eric Frykberg explores whether this middle path will be enough to keep farmers and growers in business and improve the quality of water in streams and rivers?

Stu Wright’s family is part of the fabric of Selwyn district, inland from Christchurch. They’ve worked the land near Sheffield for 125 years.  

The murky drizzle hanging over the furrows of his farm in the foothills of the Southern Alps, near Sheffield are at odds with his on-going struggle to keep his crops well hydrated.

Here he grows seed potatoes, garlic, radishes and rye.

But the way his family have farmed for over a century is no longer working. . . 

Virus has mixed results – Neal Wallace:

The new rabbit-killing K5 haemorrhagic virus has achieved an average kill rate of 47% of rabbits in Otago but rates on individual farms vary from very low to 80%, leading to farmer scepticism about its effectiveness.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead says while the 47% average is higher than forecast in the import application for the RHDV K5 virus, high immunity levels in parts of the province reduced its effectiveness.

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies has had reports from farmers saying they have not seen any evidence the new strain is working. . . 

 

Woolhandler aiming to go ‘all out’ at champs – Richard Davison:

A Milton woolhandler plans to go “all out” for honours in the Otago champs.

The two-day Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are taking place in Balclutha on February 8 and 9, and competitors will be vying for both podium places on the day and cumulative points towards circuit titles – and ultimately a better shot at nationals.

For Milton woolhandler Cheri Peterson, who started in the shed professionally in 2007 aged 21, this season’s circuit began as simply another opportunity to hone her skills at the table, but has acquired a sharper competitive edge as it progresses. . . 

 

Eight southern tracks to go in NZTR plan – Steve Hepburn:

Gore may get a reprieve but even more galloping courses may be under threat.

Following on from last year’s Messara report, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing produced a report yesterday calling for the reduction of courses around the country. And it is looking to close more courses than Australian John Messara proposed, with Waikouaiti and Riverton fingered for closure among 23 venues.

NZTR said in a release it wanted to drop to 27 venues across the country by 2030. The would leave just nine tracks in the South Island. Eight tracks south of Timaru would close.

The plan was not in reaction to the Government-commissioned Messara report, which proposed a widespread reduction in tracks throughout the country, NZTR said. . . 

New Zealand 2019 apple and pear crop forecast released :

The New Zealand apple and pear industry is forecasting a modest increase in the gross crop for 2019, according to the annual crop estimate just released. A forecast gross crop of 604,500 metric tonnes is 2.5% up on 2018 production.

New Zealand Apples & Pears Chief Executive, Alan Pollard, says that “Notwithstanding some hail in Central Otago, growing conditions across the rest of New Zealand this season have been very good. Adequate rainfall means that all regions have good quantities of irrigation water, and sunlight and warmth are at some of the best levels that we have seen”. . .

U.S. Dairy Farmers Say Billions of Exports at Risk – Lydia Mulvany:

The U.S. dairy industry stands to lose billions of dollars over the next two decades if trade agreements with Japan, one of the biggest buyers, don’t materialize, according to a U.S. Dairy Export Council report released Wednesday.

The Japanese are gobbling up more cheesy pizzas and proteins like whey, at the same time that its own dairy industry is seeing a decline. Exporters are aggressively competing to supply that growing demand, and the European Union has a leg up on the U.S. due to a trade agreement that went into affect at the end of last year. Other major exporting countries are set to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact from which the U.S. withdrew. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 10, 2019

No pay for Taratahi staff – Neal Wallace:

Staff at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre cease being paid from this week but have not been made redundant.

Tertiary Education Union organiser Kris Smith said liquidators had advised staff by letter that pay was being suspended from the end of this week but that they were not being made redundant.

She understood there were approximately 200 staff across all Taratahi campuses in Wairarapa, South Otago, Taupo and non-residential campuses in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay and Southland. . . 

Eco-tourism business booming – Sally Rae:

Southland has been investigating how best to boost its tourism opportunities, aiming to hit $1billion in tourism revenue by 2025. Business reporter Sally Rae speaks to one tourism operator in the region who is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

When Johan Groters and Joyce Kolk realised they needed to make their tourism venture into a ”proper” business two decades ago, there was no such thing as a business plan.

In fact, if someone had asked to see such a document, they would have looked at them blankly, Ms Kolk laughs.

All they wanted to do was ”make ends meet and have fun doing it” and they have maintained that philosophy as their eco-tourism operation in Western Southland continues to grow in ”leaps and bounds”. . . 

Labours recover ‘lost’ waterfall – Richard Davison:

A 15-year ”labour of love” is going viral for a pair of bush-walking cribbies from Papatowai, thanks to the power of the internet.

Local man Wayne Allen’s interest was piqued when he discovered the Catlins had several ”forgotten” waterfalls among its total of 140, alongside tourist drawcards such as Purakaunui and McLean Falls.

When he learnt one of them was a long-lost 20m cataract just 20 minutes south of his Papatowai crib, the die was cast.

”I set out with Peter [Hill] to see what we could see, just with a view to exploring initially . . 

 

Fonterra’s Farm Source™ to sell livestock division to Carrfields Livestock:

Fonterra has today announced that it will sell the Farm Source™ livestock division to Carrfields Livestock – an established livestock agency provider.

Richard Allen, Farm Source™ Stores Director, says the decision to sell was made in the context of a larger review underway within the Co-op.

“In the context of the review of the Co-op’s assets and investments, we have made the decision to sell the livestock division to Carrfields Livestock. This will better serve the livestock team and the farms they service. . . 

Dutch Courage: the little Kiwi cheese comapny taking on the world – Alice Neville:

Since 1981, a pioneering Dutch immigrant has been developing a distinctive New Zealand style of cheese, and now the world is starting to sit up and take notice.

But for Albert Alferink, he’s just doing what he’s good at: working. Waikato: home of the Tron, the mighty river, Hobbiton, Waikato Draught and Jacinda Ardern.

The region is also home, of course, to acre upon acre of lush green grass that’s munched by cows who produce milk that is, or so we’re told, the backbone of the nation. . .

Wool lovers battle animal-rights crowd over sheep shearing – Sarah Nassauer:

Quintin McEwen spotted the tag on a Lucky Brand men’s polyester sweater and decided he had had enough.

“Shearless Fleece,” it read next to a picture of a sheep heavy with wool. “Not a single sheep was sheared in the making of this garment.”

The sixth-generation sheep farmer in Monkton, Ontario, logged on to his farm’s Facebook page to lash out at Lucky. Not only is shearing not inhumane, he wrote, it helps sheep fend off disease and move around more comfortably. “I am absolutely shocked by your blatant disregard for my industry,” Mr. McEwen wrote in the post, eliciting more than 1,000 comments. . .

AsureQuality and Bureau Veritas form exciting new venture in South East Asia:

New partnership between two market leaders will benefit both the growing food industry in South East Asia and Kiwi exporters.

New Zealand’s premier food assurance business AsureQuality and global leader Bureau Veritas are pleased to announce the formation of a new joint venture in South East Asia, BVAQ. Based in Singapore, this new partnership will bring their combined expertise and extensive capabilities to the fast-growing South East Asian food industry, as well as provide on the ground support for New Zealand food and primary exporters to this region

The partnership will combine and strengthen the existing footprints across South East Asia. AsureQuality have been operating a strong food testing business with a state-of-the-art laboratory in Singapore since 2010; while Bureau Veritas has newly established food testing laboratories in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, plus a majority share in Permulab – a Malaysian leader in food and water testing. . . 

Changing the gender bias in agriculture – Busani Bafana:

Women entrepreneurs are playing an important role in transforming global food security for economic growth, but they have to work twice as hard as men to succeed in agribusiness.

“Agriculture and agribusiness are generally perceived as run by men,” entrepreneur and Director of  the Nairobi-based African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAN) Beatrice Gakuba, told IPS. She noted that women entrepreneurs have to prove themselves, even though they are as capable and innovative as men.

“Women entrepreneurs face more challenges in getting their foot in the door in agricultural business than men when it comes to access to finance because of several factors, including socio-cultural beliefs,” adds Gakuba, who runs a flower export business. . . 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2018

Big leap forward for New Zealand sheep genetics – Pat Deavoll:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics has launched a $5 million genetic evaluation system set to revolutionise the sheep breeding industry.

Beef and Lamb Genetics general manager Graham Alder said the new evaluation, named “single-step” was the result of four years of research.

“Single-step provides more accurate estimated breeding values in young animals,” Alder said.

“Breeders can work out a rams merit at birth rather than waiting for at least two years until the ram has lambs on the ground. . .

Milk and fires, a tricky combination – Samantha Tennent:

A Foxton Beach firefighter successfully combines fighting fires with milking. Samantha Tennent reports. 

Manawatu farmer and volunteer firefighter Tony Eade had been asleep for only a couple of hours when his pager and cellphone went off.

It was midnight and he was being called out to fight a fire. By the time the brigade put the fire out it was time to head to work. He left the site of the blaze and headed straight off to milk. . .

Telling farmers’ stories :

Every week Ash Robinson packs up his camera, overnight bag and gumboots and leaves his home in Auckland to go On Farm.

It’s his dream job. “It combines my passions for filming and farming.”

Equipped with the knowledge he learned growing up on a sheep and beef farm he heads away to another rural region. . .

Industry offers variety of careers – Yvonne O’Hara:

In the 20 years since Janiene Bayliss and husband David Pratt established their Ata Mara vineyard near Cromwell, she has seen the Central Otago wine industry grow rapidly.

There are increasingly challenging hurdles to over-come and benefits to harvest.

She said challenges included finding more workers to fill the increasing number of seasonal and permanent vacancies and how to provide accommodation for them. . .

Warning to take steps to avoid crime – Richard Davison:

Those living rurally should be taking simple steps to avoid falling prey to current trends in country crime, police say.

Levels of most types of crime remained steady in rural South Otago, and on average police were dealing with an incident every week, Sergeant Robin Hutton, of Balclutha, said.

Because of the remoteness and isolation of many rural properties, a certain segment of criminals targeted them specifically, regarding them as “easy pickings”, he said. . . 

Arable prospects ploughing ahead:

Good seasonal prospects, stronger markets and an increased variety of crop options are putting the cropping sector on a good footing after a two tough years, with farmers optimistic returns will be buoyant for some time yet.

The industry’s latest survey the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative has given farmers and investors an insight to their sector’s success, with the sector appearing to be significantly more positive than only two years ago. . .


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