Rural round-up

June 18, 2018

Boffins want green tax on meat – Neal Wallace:

A suggestion from Otago University academics that a tax on meat is needed to highlight to New Zealand consumers the environmental cost of production has been rubbished by the meat industry.

Consumer and food science researcher and PhD student Garrett Lentz said research shows many NZ consumers are unaware of the environmental impact of meat production, which could lead to high rates of consumption and accentuate the cost to the environment.

A team of researchers found retail cost and potential health benefits are the greatest motivation for reducing meat intake, with the environmental impact of production one of the weakest. . .

Mycoplasma bovis – how long has it been here? – Keith Woodford:

A key question for MPI and Government to address is how long has Mycoplasma bovis been in New Zealand. The answer to that question, together with MPI’s capacity to upscale their operational capacity, will largely determine whether or not eradication is going to be successful.

If, as the Government now believes, Mycoplasma bovis first arrived here around December 2015 or January 2016 on the Zeestraten property in Southland, then it is reasonable to hope but not necessarily expect that the eradication program will be successful.  But if it was here prior to that, then eradication becomes an increasingly long shot.

Another way of describing it is that, in the battle between Mycoplasma and MPI, it is the head-start that counts. For each year that the disease has been here, there will have been an exponential spread of the little stealth bombers. . . 

Insight: The blight of Mycoplasma bovis – Conan Young:

The government has entered the fight against Mycoplasma bovis all guns blazing with a promise to spend almost one billion dollars trying to eradicate the cattle disease. Whether it will succeed remains uncertain.

While a technical advisory group said eradication was “technically feasible”, its decision was hardly unanimous.

The group of mostly overseas experts brought together by the government came out six to four in favour of the move.

Its chair, Scott McDougall, told Insight the dissenting opinion was based on the uncertainty surrounding just how many cows could be infected. . . 

Protect your beef herd from Mycoplasma bovis:

Regardless of the clinical impacts of Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), now that phased eradication is being pursued, beef farmers need to treat M. bovis extremely seriously.

If infection is detected in your herd, it will be accompanied by whole-herd depopulation.

Importantly, if you have a beef breeding herd and also rear bull beef or dairy beef steers, you are strongly advised to keep your breeding herd entirely separate and run as a closed herd.

Keep very good records of herd separation so that if infection is introduced with animals purchased for rearing, then response measures may only apply to those animals in contact with the purchased stock.  . .

Stepping out: Researchers seek genetic information in cattle that travel to graze – Carrie Stadheim:

Derek Bailey and his cohorts have been wondering – do your cows like to hike in the mountains?

This is just one aspect of research that the New Mexico State University professor and researcher, along with others has worked on since the 1990s to help determine if there are genetic variances between cattle that are willing to “work for their dinner” and those that aren’t. He will present his latest findings at the Beef Improvement Federation annual convention in Loveland, Colorado, June 20-23. Fellow grazing distribution researcher Milt Thomas with Colorado State University will also talk to BIF attendees.

Bailey uses GPS collars to record the movements of cattle in rugged terrain to learn which cows exhibit one or more of three characteristics: . . .

Half point loss brings winner back – Annette Scott:

A dare from his brother to change sheep breeds led Richard and Mez Power to top honours in the national ewe hogget competition.

The North Canterbury farming couple took out the Romney section finishing just 0.34 of a point ahead of runners-up Mathew and Amy Middlemiss of Rocklands Station, Outram, before going on to win the overall breeds supreme honour in the 22nd annual ewe hogget competition in Christchurch. 

The Powers have farmed the family sheep and cattle stud at Hawarden for the past 28 years. . .

Tourist Tax must address more than toilets, car parks:
The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network said a Tourist Tax needed to reflect that tourism was now placing real stress on delivery of rural health services.
The NZRGPN is the national network representing the doctors and nurses of rural medical practices across New Zealand.
“Tourism is a great thing for the New Zealand economy but managing its impacts goes beyond more toilets and car parks,” said Chief Executive, Dalton Kelly. . .


Rural round-up

November 3, 2017

The big dry – Waimea Water:

The 2001 drought was the most severe drought our region experienced in 60 years. Different phrases were used to describe it, including a shortage or a crisis. Early on it was ‘water fears.’ In the end, the drought stuck and it became known as the ‘Big Dry’ and it affected everyone in the region from Nelson to Richmond to Motueka to Golden Bay.

Riverbeds dried up. Saltwater threatened the bores in the lower Waimea River. Stories about the scarcity of rain appeared almost daily in newspapers. Councils met to assess the water supply risks and the rationing requirements. Green pastures were brown with no grass in sight. Dairy farm stock had to be dried off months early, with cattle and sheep sold below cost to cover lost revenue. Permitted users, including irrigators across the Waimea Plains, had been reduced to 40 percent of their allowed take.  . .

No Waimea dam: I’m out, says long-time market gardener Mark O’Connor – Cherie Sivignon:

For four generations, Mark O’Connor’s family have been on the Waimea Plains. For the past three, they’ve been growing vegetables.

But the Appleby Fresh managing director says if there’s no Waimea dam, he will consider subdividing some of the land and selling up.

“We actually had a meeting the other day and said what are we going to do if we don’t get the dam and I said: ‘I’m out of it; it’s too hard to farm without having water’,” he said. . . 

Fonterra to invest $100m in Australia after hitting full milk processing capacityFonterra sees Aus opportunities – Gerard Hutching:

Fonterra has unveiled plans to invest $100 million immediately into its Australian business in a major expansion plan.

It is also looking into the possibility of its Australian operation becoming a co-operative.

Chief executive Theo Spierings told the co-operative’s annual general meeting in Hawera on Thursday that Fonterra’s reputation had climbed from 9th to 5th in the RepZ survey and had “changed the minds of 1.5 million New Zealanders.” . . 

We’ve got the bull by the udder – John King:

Here’s a quiz for morning smoko. According to modern grazing practice, where’s best on the curve in the illustration for the following:

  • · Maximum livestock growth?
  • · Maximum pasture longevity?
  • · Maximum soil development and structure?

Many farmers and all agricultural professionals will know where’s best for growing livestock, a few less will know where’s best for pasture longevity, and most wouldn’t even consider where’s best for soil, let alone there might be two places. That’s due to the prevailing culture and training railroading what we believe is normal – focusing on single goals.John King

Farmer Fast Five – Richard Power – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Hawarden Proud Farmer Richard Power, who with his wife Mez, won the Romney section of this years Ewe Hogget Competition.

How long have you been farmer?

I am a third generation farmer.  I was bought up on our stud sheep and beef farm where from a young age was taught how to handle and judge stock.  After a stint at Lincoln I went lamb drafting for 5 years.  Travelling around so many different farms gave me a great insight into different breeds and ways of farming.  I carried on drafting for another 3 years after taking on the home farm with my wife in 1990 and changing to a commercial operation.

What sort of Farming are you involved in?

We are involved in a traditional dryland sheep/beef and crop operation, concentrating on early lamb production. All our lambs are gone by Christmas, and what doesn’t go prime is sold store.  On a normal season the split would be 80% sheep and the beef/crop sharing 10% each.  Beef cattle of any type are traded from Autumn to Spring and Barley is grown for a local farmer. . . 

Major deer shed upgrade underway:

Most deer farmers are upgrading their deer sheds so that velvet is harvested, handled, stored and transported in a clean environment.John Tacon, quality assurance manager for Deer Industry NZ (DINZ), says the regulatory bottom line is that all sheds must have a “clean zone” – a designated area where velvet antler is removed, handled and frozen. In this zone, all contact surfaces must be washable and clean prior to velvet removal and handling. 

“As soon as practicable after harvesting, but within 2 hours, velvet also needs to be placed in a velvet-only freezer capable of freezing to at least minus 15 deg C.” 

At some time in the future he expects standards could well be “ramped up, but it’s a good starting point”. . . 

Autumn – Ben Eagle:

 Today I began the first of what will be many bramble bashing (or should that be obliterating) sessions throughout the autumn/winter as I try to get on top of the scrub encroaching on some of the farm’s stewardship plots. The sky seemed to be missing today, a great grey and white canvas only intermittently marked by the odd passing pheasant or pigeon, the former unable to get much lift to make sufficient impact upon the bleak sky as I looked upward and across. Pheasants annoy me, with their loud cackling call, their pompous plumage and their inability to fly properly, but I know I shouldn’t hold it against them. As I write this post now I hear them outside. Something has spooked them and they are calling out, confused and terrified of the world. Who can blame them I suppose when you primary reason for existing so far as human kind is concerned is to be shot. . . 


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