Rural round-up

14/04/2021

Time to listen – Rural News:

Now that submissions have formally closed on the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) draft recommendations, released in February, on reducing NZ’s emissions profile, will it actually listen and act on the advice it has received?

It is not hard to get cynical about so-called ‘consultation’. With this Government – more often than not – it is merely a box-ticking exercise, with little or no real changes made to its overall political objective.

One only has to look at its freshwater legislation and the negligible changes it made to this following ‘industry consultation’, for the country’s farmers to be rightfully nervouse about what regulations will be imposed upon them in the emissions reductions space.

The CCC’s draft advice recommended – among a plethora of changes across the economy – the Government should adopt measures that would hugely reduce livestock number on farms and see more good farmland planted in trees. . .

Hitting our target – Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace:

The Climate Change Commission is suggesting we need to reduce livestock numbers by up to 15% to enable agriculture to meet its methane emission targets. This week the Farmers Weekly begins a series looking at the implications of such a drop and what options are available.

A 15% reduction in livestock numbers may be the only way to meet tough new methane targets being recommended by the Climate Change Commission as there is no silver bullet yet available.

Researchers are working on breeding, farm systems and feed technology and the impact of new nitrogen limits will help, but the consensus is it will be tough to meet the commission’s 15.9% reduction by 2035 without some lowering of stock numbers. 

The commission claims that better feeding, breeding and land use change to horticulture, exotic and native forestry, will see farm livestock numbers fall 15% below 2018 levels by 2030, enabling biogenic methane targets to be met without new technology. . .

Local farmers grow quality wheat but most of us aren’t eating it. Here’s why – Bonnie Flaws:

Wheat farmers are some of most productive in the world but the vast majority of it is sold for animal feed while the bread we eat is made using imported Australian flour.

That was not always the case. Historically the country produced its own grain for baked products and not that long ago there were 30 or 40 mills across the country. Going back further there were hundreds of mills, according to the book, Flour Milling in New Zealand.

The country was self-sufficient in wheat production until government control of the industry under the Wheat Board ended in 1987, and led to imports by the mid-1990s.

The Foundation for Arable Research chief executive Alison Stewart said like many other industries, consolidation took its toll and big companies with economies of scale took over milling. . .

Spirit’s are up for makers of NZ’s first tequila – Country Life:

Golden Bay is a long way from home for the agave plant, a native of Latin America and most commonly found in Mexico.

Terry Knight is growing several thousand to produce top-shelf tequila at his Kiwi spirit distillery at Motupipi.

His plantation of Weber’s blue agave tequilana is the only plant stock and plantation in New Zealand.

Terry’s agave adventure started 20 years ago when he bought some seeds from a friend, who got them from a private collection in France. . .

Northland peanut farmers toast to Pic’s growth deal :

It’s crunch time in Northland for a pioneering peanut crop which government agencies hope could provide a viable product for the area.

Most people know the Kaipara region as kumara country, but things are changing. While in recent years there’s been a lot more dairy, things are now starting to look downright nutty.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has teamed up with the makers of Pic’s Peanut Butter to trial growing peanuts near Dargaville.

The hope is to create a totally homegrown peanut product – a perfect addition to toasts across the country. . .

New Countryside Code falls short on sheep worrying :

Sheep farmers have criticised the new Countryside Code for placing little recognition on the rising problem of irresponsible dog ownership and livestock worrying.

Changes in the guidance issued by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales include information on walking only on footpaths and not feeding livestock.

But the National Sheep Association (NSA) says not enough attention has been given to the issue of sheep worrying and out-of-control dogs.

Farmers have suffered an increase in attacks by dogs over the past year, as dog ownership has increased and walking in rural areas has become one of the few activities to be enjoyed during lockdown. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/03/2021

Agriculturists demand review to get through Labour shortage – Tom Kitchin:

Agriculturalists are demanding assurances from the government that the chronic labour shortage they are facing never happens again.

Covid-19 has left them without thousands of workers and with no certainty for the future, they are asking for action.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, along with other top ministers, met sector leaders in Hawke’s Bay today at a food and fibre leaders’ forum.

Horticulture New Zealand president and chairman Barry O’Neil, a kiwifruit grower from Bay of Plenty, had one question for the government. . .

Food, fibre’s biggest problem: – Annettte Scott:

Keeping focused and on track is the biggest challenge for the Food & Fibre Partnership Group (FFPG) on its transformational journey to accelerate New Zealand’s economic potential.

FFPG chair Mike Petersen says the food and fibre sector has a huge role to play in NZ’s economic recovery from covid-19.

“We’re already on the transformation journey but the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) sector-wide roadmap – Fit for a Better World, says there is opportunity to accelerate this further,” Petersen said.

“It is our (FFPG) role to coordinate transformation efforts across the food and fibre sector to improve sustainability and wellbeing, boost productivity and profitability and lift product value.” . . .

Organic proposals risk cost and complexity – Richard Rennie:

The organics sector is fearful its concerns about organic regulations have not been heard in the latest discussion paper on the sector’s proposed changes.

The discussion paper on regulations released by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is for the Organic Products Bill lays out how organic producers would be certified, regulated and audited.

The proposed regulations aim to strengthen standards and definitions of New Zealand’s organic food sector, valued at $700 million a year in domestic and overseas export earnings. . .

 Hawke’s Bay apple pickers: ‘It’s a walk in the park‘ – Tom Kitchin:

Huge shortages of pickers coupled with significant staff turnovers, it’s been a nightmare of a season for orchard growers across the country, but a few brave souls have come to the rescue.

RNZ’s Hawke’s Bay reporter Tom Kitchin takes a look at the personalities up and around the apple picking ladders.

“It’s just a walk in the park.”

That might not be what you expect to hear when someone describes apple picking. . .

A bright future in agriculture  – Louise Hanlon:

Recent St Peter’s School Cambridge graduate, Annabelle McGuire, set off to Lincoln University in mid-February full of excitement as she embarks on a Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing qualification.

“Heading to Lincoln, and the South Island, is a new adventure,” says Annabelle. “I am so excited about going.” And she won’t be alone, as six other St Peter’s graduate students are on their way to Lincoln also.

Agriculture student numbers are burgeoning at St Peter’s and the school’s situation, right beside Owl Farm, may be playing a part.

“Ag was opened up to year nines last year,” says Annabelle, “And they have a new teacher this year and a whole new classroom – the numbers in the classes have exploded.” . . .

 

Investing in shearer training – Mark Griggs:

MORE than 1750 shearers and shed hands have been trained in shearing schools conducted by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) in the past 12 calendar months.

AWI board member, Don Macdonald, said shearer training was on top of the AWI agenda but felt shearing contractors may not be doing their part by taking on learners.

He was informing 90 visitors at his Mullungeen property, between Wellington and Larras Lee, earlier this month during the inaugural Cumnock and District Commercial Flock Ewe competition in which the Mullungeen flock was awarded the winning place. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

13/03/2021

More scientific proof needed – David Anderson:

A new report has joined the chorus within the agricultural sector calling for proper scientific testing of the claims being made by regenerative agriculture practitioners and proponents.

Some of the claims made by regenerative agriculture advocates currently include that it can improve waterways, reduce topsoil losses, offer drought resilience, add value to primary exports and improve the ‘well-being crisis’ among rural farming communities.

However, a new white paper on regenerative agriculture, recently released by Our Land and Water, says there is an urgent need for clarity about what regenerative agriculture is in New Zealand and for accurate scientific testing of its claimed benefits.

The research was funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, the NEXT Foundation and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. . . 

Pork industry demands law change for imported products to be labelled– Riley Kennedy:

The pork industry has slammed the government for refusing to make labelling country of origin mandatory on all imported pork.

Laws designed to give people clarity on where their food comes from were passed in 2018. However, last year the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said there would be a 12-month delay in the new rules coming into effect due to Covid-19.

As part of this, imported pork will need to be labelled with its country of origin, however, the pork industry says a loophole has been left unadvised.

This means pork that is imported and then further processed in New Zealand, including bacon and ham, will not be required to have such labelling. . . 

MPI lost touch – Peter Burke:

MPI boss Ray Smith says with the advent of the climate change proposals and the new essential fresh water regulations, MPI is gearing itself up to help farmers deal with these matters by getting more staff out into the field.

He believes that climate change is the biggest challenge of this generation.

“When I first started it was obvious to me that MPI had lost its outreach and in a sense it had lost some key relationships,” Smith told Rural News. “So we have built an agricultural investment service that has started to put that back and we have more people now based regionally. They have tended to deal with adverse events and things like that, which is good. But I am keen to build that service even further so we can stand alongside farmers and be an independent voice.”

He says the aim is get back some of what was lost many years ago with the demise of the Farm Advisory officers. . .

Automation a mixed blessing for fruit sector – Richard Rennie:

Burgeoning crop volumes have prompted the horticultural sector to lift pay rates as it competes on a tight labour market. The shortage and the cost increases put automation and robotics under the spotlight to help ease labour pressures. Richard Rennie looks at whether robots will replace humans on orchards sooner than later.

Last week’s announcement the kiwifruit sector would be paying a living wage of $22.10 an hour for packhouse work has the sector hoping higher wages will help fill a yawning labour shortage this year.

Filling that gap has only grown more challenging with the exponential growth in kiwifruit volumes over the past five years. The 23,000 workers estimated to be needed by 2027 are needed this year, and the 190 million trays expected to be achieved by then is now likely next season.

Further south the apple sector is grappling with similar issues, requiring at least 10,000 pickers and packhouse staff this season, drawing off locals, a national shared pool of 7000 Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) staff and any remaining backpackers. . . 

Feijoa harvest in full tilt a month early in Gisborne – Hugo Cameron:

Feijoas are expected to hit the shelves this week as good growing conditions have seen harvesting of this season’s crop kick off a month earlier than usual.

Kaiaponi Farms has been growing feijoas in Gisborne for the past 20 years and sells the fruit through its Joa brand for both the local and export markets.

Spokesperson David Hansen said the first fruit would normally be picked at the start March but the harvest got under way last month and was now in full swing, with decent volumes coming through.

The farm had seen sunny conditions which was great for the crops, along with a decent dose of water, Hansen said. . . 

 

Now is the time to talk to consumers – Charlie Beaty:

There has never been a bigger gap between the people producing food and the people consuming it.

Most people knew a farmer or were even related to one 70 years ago. Today, there are children who have never seen a real sheep.

They have no idea that bread is made from a wheat crop that grows in the fields. It’s a threat to our industry, there’s no doubt.

But it’s also an opportunity to step in, share the “what”, the “why” and the “how” of our industry. So let’s seize it. . . 


Rural round-up

26/02/2021

Major task ahead for NZ farming – Matthew Reeves:

New modelling from the Climate Change Commission has outlined a major task ahead for the agribusiness industry in New Zealand.

The Government has committed to an extensive emissions reduction plan in order to combat climate change, involving a 10% decline in agricultural emissions by 2030, and a 24% to 47% decline by 2050.

Achieving this target will require major changes across the agricultural sector, including a significant decline in herd sizes and the uptake of new technologies.

The agriculture sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in New Zealand, accounting for around 40% of current emissions in the country. The bulk of this comes from livestock methane emissions, including 51% from the country’s 6.1 million dairy cattle, and 47% from the country’s 26.2 million sheep and 4 million beef cattle. . .

Milk packs punch agaisnt flu – Gerald Piddock:

We already know milk is good for the bones, but now research shows that drinking milk could help ward off the flu.

New research has found that a protein-based ingredient from milk is an effective antiviral agent against a common influenza virus species.

The study commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, found that Immune Defence Proteins (IDP) was 120% more effective against the virus Influenza A when compared to the protein lactoferrin.

Testing on the herpes simplex virus netted a similar result. . . 

‘RA 20 virus’ a danger to New Zealand 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 RA20 but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. . . 

Better connection now – Rural News:

We may now be into the third decade of the 21st century, but unfortunately much of NZ’s rural broadband and mobile coverage remains at third world levels.

That is unacceptable in a modern, first-world country like New Zealand. How is it still the case that many farmers and rural businesses around the country have to buy costly equipment to get broadband, while many others cannot even get mobile phone coverage at all?

As the Technology Users Association of NZ (TUANZ) chief executive Craig Young says, rural people should be getting the same level of connectivity in terms of broadband and mobile coverage as the people who live in urban areas.

It is even more important for rural people to have high quality connectivity, given their often remote locations and the fact that they are running significant businesses – not only farming, but other service related enterprises. . . 

Manuka saving honey’s buzz – Richard Rennie:

While demand for Manuka honey continues to surge, other honey varieties remain moribund, with low prices starting to pressure beekeepers out of the industry.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 2020 Apiculture Monitoring report has highlighted how a good harvest season last summer translated into a surge in volumes of all honey produced, with per hive yield of manuka up 39% on the year before in the North Island.

Overall however, the sector experienced a slide of 6% in average export prices despite a weaker NZ dollar, with a significant 28% export volume increase driving the overall 20% increase in total export value.

The report has highlighted the growing gap between high-value manuka and all other multi-floral manuka/non-manuka honeys. . . 

Helping emerging industries is growing Australian agriculture – John Harvey:

Opportunities within the agricultural sector are constantly evolving.

We see consumers hungry for new products and changing requirements and expectations for food production.

You only have to look at shifting attitudes about eating meat to see how quickly things evolve.

And that is one of the reasons I think it is vital that Australia continues to invest in our emerging agricultural and food production industries. . . 


Rural round-up

20/02/2021

Regenerative farming fight sad – Anna Campbell:

The New Zealand Merino Company and wool brands Allbirds, Icebreaker, and Smartwool have announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform, which represents more than one million hectares in New Zealand.

Consumers want products produced through regenerative farming practices. In the United States, the high-end supermarket chain, Whole Foods Market, declared that regenerative agriculture was the No 1 food trend for 2020. Given some of the environmental challenges we have in New Zealand farming, regenerative farming surely makes sense from a production and marketing perspective?

Well maybe — it certainly sounds good, but do we understand what regenerative farming means and what it means specifically in a New Zealand farming context? . . .

Native trees come with some caveats – Richard Rennie:

Planting more native trees for carbon sequestration features strongly in the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) recommendations released this month. Scion scientists Dr Tim Payn and Steve Wakelin are leading work to help provide a better understanding of how native trees can be integrated back into New Zealand’s landscape and carbon soaking toolbox. Richard Rennie reports.

While recommending more native trees be planted in coming years, the CCC also notes there is limited knowledge on cashflows and carbon absorption rates for natives.

Steve Wakelin and Dr Tim Payn agree in principle with this goal to plant more natives for carbon benefits, but also want to highlight the additional environmental and biodiversity benefits of this focus.

They also note there is a devil in the detail behind the commission’s recommendations. . . 

Grand house’ hosts eco-tourism business – Mary-Jo Tohill:

You can take the farmer out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the farmer.

Catlins eco-tourism couple Lyndon and Gill McKenzie supposedly left agriculture 21 years ago for pastures new.

Mr McKenzie grew up at Merino Downs at Waikoikoi, between Gore and Tapanui, and Mrs McKenzie at Mataura.

Since they sold the farm in 2000, life has taken the dynamic duo on a series of jobs and ventures in Wanaka, Cromwell, Dunedin and Australia. They’ve done hospitality, mining and even run an outback diner. . . 

Kate Stewart – her story:

The confidence to create my career 

Next Level graduate Kate Stewart on taking charge of her future in agriculture, following the AWDT leadership and governance development programme. 

“I have a checklist now to vet any new opportunities that come my way. It’s called the ‘is this what Kate wants and is good at’ checklist.”

For Kate Stewart, Next Level was about taking ownership of her new career. At 24-years old, the Palmerston North local and Dairy NZ regional consulting officer was considering new leadership opportunities, but unsure of where to turn next. . .

A day in the life of an arable farmer  – Simon Edwards:

New Zealand’s arable industry is worth $2.1 billion each year to the economy, and earns us $260 million in export sales.  It also employs more than 11,300 Kiwis.

It’s a diverse sector, and a world leader in both volume and quality producing the likes of radish seed, white clover seed and carrot seed.

But while many New Zealanders could probably offer some general details about what a dairy or sheep and beef farmer gets up to in working day, the daily tasks facing an arable farmer might be more of a mystery.  So we decided to ask some Federated Farmers arable sector leaders what they’re currently busy with, starting in the deep south… . . 

£1m micro food business scheme to open in NI :

A £1m capital grant scheme will open in March to help small Northern Irish food firms upscale production to secure new markets for their produce.

The aim of the Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is to enable firms that are processing primary agricultural produce to expand.

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 will be made available to micro food and drink manufacturing businesses.

A micro enterprise is defined as an enterprise which employs less than 10 full time equivalent employees with a total annual turnover of less than £1.8m. . . 


Rural round-up

04/02/2021

Pandemic’s silver lining – Anne Boswell:

The recognition of farmers’ contribution to New Zealand’s food production system has been identified as a positive aspect of the covid-19 pandemic experience, according to a new study released by AgResearch.

One farmer experienced “a change in attitude among the public around how they value the security of food production and therefore the role of farmers in providing that food.”

Others noted “NZ agriculture is starting to be seen as an important cog in the mechanism again,” “greater recognition of the true value of agriculture and primary producers,” and “governments and communities recognised the importance to our standards of living that agriculture provides plentiful safe food and fibre.”

The study, conducted by AgResearch scientists, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and several science organisations in NZ and Australia, surveyed farmers and others working in the agriculture and food systems in Australasia about the impacts of covid-19 in the period through to June 2020, which included national lockdowns. . . 

Outlook for 2021 ‘bristling with risk’:

Amid significant global turbulence, New Zealand agricultural producers are poised to enjoy a fifth consecutive year of general profitability in 2021, according to a new report by Rabobank.

In the bank’s Agribusiness Outlook 2021 report, Rabobank says while the outlook for the year is “bristling with risk”, and bumps are anticipated throughout the coming months, most agricultural sectors can expect to see average to above-average pricing, manageable cost inflation and production holding up well.

Report co-author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Emma Higgins says that as 2021 gets underway, the world is still turbulent for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. . . 

Important for UK to convert trade liberalisation narrative to action as it seeks to join CPTPP:

In welcoming the UK’s application to join the CPTPP agreement, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is stressing the need for the UK to convert its statements of commitment to leadership in global trade liberalisation to meaningful action.

“The UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation. However, the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Despite the UK’s strong statements of ambition, including for a high-quality UK-NZ FTA, we are yet to see it remedy concerns about diminished quota access following Brexit and we have detected hesitancy on its part to bringing real liberalisation to the FTA negotiating table. Avoiding a disconnect between intent and action is important if current and potential trade negotiating partners are to have confidence in the UK’s stated ambitions”. . . 

Zespri secures labs for taste tests – Richard Rennie:

Zespri has confirmed several laboratories have been approved for the next three seasons to conduct the vital taste profile tests for kiwifruit, a major component of grower payments.

Zespri’s chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert says following an intensive three-month procurement process, a range of service providers have been selected for the tests.

They include AgFirst in Hawke’s Bay and Nelson, Hill Laboratories, Linnaeus, Pinpoint Lab Services and Verified Lab Services.

The replacement companies were necessary due to Zespri’s previous lab service Eurofins Bay of Plenty dropping the test at the start of last season, leaving the industry without the valuable test. . . 

Station site of lotus research trial – Yvonne O’Hara:

When the Garden family at Avenel Station say Lotus pedunculatus or Lotus uliginosus, they are not casting Harry Potter spells.

They are talking about the legume, Maku lotus (Lotus uliginosus)

It is a variety of trefoil that has been trialled on a 500ha block on their high country property since 2014.

Pat Garden and his brother Eion had sown lotus on the property in the 1980s.

Subsequently, Pat and his son Nick took part in the more formal research “Legumes for Hard Hill Country” trial, which was funded through the Sustainable Farming Fund, with input from PGG Wrightson Seeds, Grasslanz Ltd, AgResearch’s Dr David Stevens, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Offal market lifts on pandemic demand – Shan Goodwin:

OVERSEAS demand for lower-value red meat products as the pandemic continues to cut into household incomes has served the Australian offal market well, with prices across the board either firming or stable.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest co-product market reports shows halal kidneys recording the strongest growth, up 93 per cent year-on-year, while lungs and hearts lifted 45 and 28pc, respectively. Halal hearts averaged a solid $3.15 a kilogram, up 70c from December.

Liver prices averaged $1.28 a kilogram, 19c up month-on-month.

On the other hand, premium products such as tongue, thickskirt and rumen pillars eased somewhat. . . 


Rural round-up

30/01/2021

A world first for collagen water – RIchard Rennie:

Collagen, often the main component of gelatin, has surged in profile over recent years. It is also the main structural protein in mammals’ bodies, and is now hailed as a nutritional supplement to help muscle mass, aid arthritis and improve skin quality. Richard Rennie spoke to Luci Firth whose idea for a collagen water has become a world-first reality.

Working as a graphic designer for a Japanese client, Luci Firth soon became aware of the significance Asian consumers place on collagen as a daily part of their diet, and how far behind New Zealanders were in awareness about its claimed health benefits.

“In places like Japan you will find it regularly used as something you sprinkle on your rice, or buy it from a corner store to add to your cooking. We have been a bit slower to pick up on it,” Firth said. . .

Rural literacy trust struggles for support – Jessica Marshall:

Jo Poland started the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust (RYALT), formerly the Adult Literacy Trust, from her kitchen table in 2011.

Poland, who has taught and been involved in teaching adult literacy since 1994, was approached by a local Port Waikato mother who was looking for help for her daughter who struggled with reading and writing.

Thus, Poland was inspired to found RYALT with two other trustee members.

Since then, RYALT has helped close to 1000 people – youths and adults.

Farms ales rise at the end of 2020:

Farm sales ended 2020 on a healthy note with a 15 percent increase compared to the same time the previous year.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data shows 32 percent more finishing farms and 26 percent more dairy farms were sold in the three months ended December 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. Sales of grazing farms were down 9 percent and 23 percent fewer arable farms were sold.

The median price per hectare was up $4000 to just over $27,000. . .

LIC half-year report – enomics investment delivering for farmers and co-op:

LIC announces its half-year financial results for the six months to 30 November 2020, which show continued strength in the cooperative’s financial performance with increased revenue and underlying earnings.

Performance Highlights H1 2020-21:

  • $169.7 million total revenue, up 3.8% from $163.4 million in the same period last year.
  • $33.4 million net profit after tax (NPAT), up 10.4% from $30.3 million. . .

Zespri plan to partner with Chinese growers off the table, for now :

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri’s hope to partner with Chinese growers illegally growing gold kiwifruit are on hold.

Last year unauthorised plantings of the high value fruit almost doubled to at least 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a hectare to grow it, so in a bid to control plantings in China, Zespri had hoped to work with Chinese growers and authorities in what it called a “win- win” commercial agreement.

But Kiwifruit New Zealand, which independently regulates Zespri, has thrown out the proposal for now. . .

‘Setting the example’: About 330 Riverside County farmworkers vaccinated at event in Mecca – Rebecca Plevin:

Beatriz Martinez has continued working in the fields of the Coachella and San Joaquin valleys throughout the coronavirus pandemic. She has followed a series of protocols — maintaining a 6-foot distance from other workers, avoiding eating in close proximity to others during her lunch breaks and washing her hands frequently — and she has not contracted COVID-19.

On Thursday morning, the 54-year-old Coachella resident took a break from pruning grapevines at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, where she has worked for 35 years, to get vaccinated. She was among approximately 330 agricultural employees who got the shot at the ranch, in what county officials believe was the state’s first large vaccination event specifically for farmworkers.

Martinez — who wore a surgical mask and a colorful bandana over her mouth, and clutched a wide-brimmed hat in her hand — said in Spanish she was “really happy” to get vaccinated. She was grateful to get inoculated during work hours, she added, calling it a “reward” for all the years she had worked for the company. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/01/2021

Dollar causes fall in lamb prices – Peter Burke:

A report by the ANZ bank paints a somewhat sombre picture for sheepmeat in the coming year and mirrors a similar prediction in MPI’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report (SOPI) published in December.

ANZ says, overall, global demand for lamb products is relatively subdued and as a result farmgate prices for lamb and beef are expected to soften further as the country heads into the peak processing months.

It says while international prices for NZ lamb and beef seem to have stabilised after a fall, the strong NZ dollar is taking the edge off farmgate prices. Lambs destined for slaughter in the North Island are fetching $6.50/kg CW and $6.40/kg CW in the South Island, but the report expects these to fall to around $6.00/kg CW by February. . . 

Playing to our strengths in drought: are we missing Lucerne, the low hanging fruit – Harry Mills & Peter Kerr:

Since the dawn of farming, the rain has signalled renewal and hope while drought has signalled disaster and despair.

When Lincoln University-based plant scientist Derrick Moot returned from studying in the UK in 1996, he was convinced climate change was already impacting New Zealand’s drylands. The east coast of New Zealand, the home of many sheep farms was getting noticeably drier. Drought was becoming more prevalent. The number of hot summer days exceeding 30C was increasing. When summer air temperatures reach 30C, the dry soil temperature rises to 50C. Ryegrass pastures shrivel up and die in 50C heat.

Derrick Moot’s advice to drought-stricken sheep farmers was simple and low cost. Replace your ryegrass with lucerne and graze it in spring. . . 

Viruses can support sustainable food production – Richard Rennie:

2020 proved to be the year where most of the world learnt more than ever anticipated about viruses. Plant & Food Research lead scientist Dr Robin MacDiarmid views this increase in understanding as a silver lining in the covid cloud. But her research is also finding another silver lining in viruses, learning where they can serve good for more sustainable food production. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

A single slice from any flora or fauna sample analysed in a lab may contain hundreds if not thousands of viruses and bacteria, but the number actually known, categorised and understood by scientists may well pale against the total there.

For Dr Robin MacDiarmid, identifying and categorising the viruses represents barely half the job at hand. In recent decades genomic sequencing has made that task simpler, quicker and more affordable for researchers. 

“But once you have discovered and categorised a virus, you are really only at the ‘so what?’ stage. The big questions come after that, in terms of what is its cell biology, and what is the ecosystem it functions in?” MacDiarmid said. . . 

The rise and rise of the merino shoe – Michael Andrew:

Varieties of merino wool footwear are emerging faster than Netflix series about British aristocracy. Michael Andrew takes a look at the rise of the shoe that almost everyone – including his 95-year-old grandma – is wearing.

Some might say it all started with Allbirds. After all, to the average consumer, it was the New Zealand-American company founded by former all white Tim Brown in 2014 that successfully popularised the versatile, comfortable and, lets face it, kind of goofy merino wool shoe that is now synonymous with corporate sustainability and Silicon Valley.

But when we cast our minds – and google searches – back to the early 2010s, we see that sustainable shoe initiatives were happening long before Allbirds came along and dominated the market. . . 

Game Animal Council working to improve new rules for flare arms users:

The Game Animal Council (GAC) is applying its expertise in the use of firearms for hunting to work alongside Police, other agencies and stakeholder groups to improve the compliance provisions for hunters and other firearms users.

The GAC has been a part of the Firearms Community Advisory Forum (FCAF) since 2018 and along with other hunting sector stakeholders successfully advocated for a number of practical changes to the Arms Legislation Act.

“While we continue to have concerns over the fairness and practicality of some aspects of the legislation we are working with Police and other groups seeking to develop practical rules and guidance going forward,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “A major part of this work is making sure Police fully understand the impact of the new rules from a user’s point of view and apply them fairly.”

Lockdown games teach children about farm safety :

Educational games centred on farm safety have been developed for children studying at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The materials, which seek to raise awareness of the key dangers on farms, include interactive videos and colouring sheets.

Children can use the videos to identify animal emotions and understand the dangers relating to livestock and the rules to follow when coming into contact with them.

They have been created by SAC Consulting and 360 Degree Imagery company Exhibit Scotland for the Farm Advisory Service (FAS). . . 


Rural round-up

12/01/2021

Water supply reform coming – Annette Scott:

Major reforms proposed for the water supply sector will pose significant implications for irrigation schemes that provide domestic water supply.

The new Water Services Bill currently before the Government’s Health Select Committee sets out new regulations that will need to be followed by rural agricultural drinking water supplies.

The reforms are designed to provide clear leadership for drinking water regulation through a new dedicated regulator.

They will also strengthen compliance, monitoring and enforcement related to drinking water regulations and equip the new regulator with the powers and resources needed to build capability, support suppliers of all kinds to meet their obligations and take a tougher, more consistent approach to enforcement where needed. . . 

Carbon market to surge in 2021 – Richard Rennie:

The new year promises to bring intense activity to New Zealand’s carbon trading market with new auction activity and investor interest picking up fast.

2020 closed off with NZ carbon units surging to a new high at $38.10 a unit, well ahead of the year’s starting point of $28.60 and significantly above the pre-lockdown low of $22.10.

With the price cap of $25/unit lifted to $35 mid-year, analysts are anticipating the values will continue to surge further still.

The CommTrade carbon trading platform has best offers for April next year at $38.90, rising to $41.05 by April 2024. . . 

Giving 2021 some certainty – Mike Chapman:

As 2020 drew to an end and we mistakenly thought that we were coming out of the Covid chaos, Covid and mother nature doubled down on us. The new more highly contagious Covid variants, hail storms, floods and seasonal labour supply have collectively made growing, selling and exporting fruit, berries and vegetables that much harder.  It is not a great start to 2021.

Looking back on 2020, some interesting trends have emerged, on which United Fresh has reported.  As a result of Covid, these trends include:

  • Eating healthy food is top of the list for consumers
  • Food hygiene is also very important
  • There are fewer visits to supermarkets with shoppers doing bigger shopping trips.  Pre-Covid, the trend had been towards more and smaller shopping trips. . .

2021 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards opens for entries:

Entries are open for the 2021 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards, says Ministry for Primary Industries’ Director of Investment, Skills and Performance, Cheyne Gillooly.

The Awards, run by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT), celebrate primary sector employers who demonstrate exceptional employment practices.

“The Primary Industries Good Employer Awards provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding employers who put their staff at the heart of their operations,” says Mr Gillooly. . . 

Agcarm appoints new animal health expert :

The industry association for crop protection and animal health manufacturers and distributors has appointed Jeff Howe as its technical manager.

Jeff Howe replaces Jan Quay, after a seventeen-year tenure, as Agcarm’s animal health expert. As well as taking the lead on animal health issues, Jeff provides technical support on the company’s crop protection and rural supplier portfolios.

“Getting better outcomes for farmers, animals, and consumers of food and fibre is a key driver for me. I am excited about the possibilities for new technologies to increase productivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimise residues, and help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

“I look forward to working closely with government and industry stakeholders to facilitate access to cutting edge products that will support a more sustainable and innovative sector, and Agcarm’s vision of healthy crops – healthy animals – healthy business,” says Howe. . . 

Chemical identification of lemon myrtle to future proof essential oil – Jamie Brown:

An Australian native whose leaves deliver a lemon scent fit for royalty is now attracting record prices for its essential oil, up from $100 a kilogram a few years ago to more than $350/kg with the price expected to rise as demand increases.

The industry’s next challenge is to fingerprint the plant’s chemistry and identify key components with the aim of branding it as 100pc natural in a way that sets itself apart from synthetic copies.

In a project managed by the Essential Oil Producers Association of Australia, plant cuttings from a range of lemon myrtle varieties originally found growing in the wild, from the Kimberley and North Queensland to the Sunshine Coast hinterland and Currumbin Valley in south east Queensland, will be distilled in a laboratory at Lismore’s Southern Cross University and the natural range of chemical variations within their oils will be analysed. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/12/2020

Freshwater reforms may stifle farm profitability by 83% per year – report  :

Farm profitability across the Ashburton District is expected to decline 83 percent per year due to the government’s freshwater reforms, a new report states.

The changes are aimed at improving the quality of waterways and include new rules for winter grazing, nitrogen pollution and farm intensification.

The desktop report, requested by the council, notes dairy farming takes place on nearly a third of the district’s agricultural land and would be the hardest hit financially.

“The regulations will challenge existing farming systems with a number of established farm practices needing to change, and new technology and innovation adoption will be required.” . . 

‘We’ve been given a real wake up call’ – Alice Scott:

Will Halliday says he acts much the same as a farmer on a drafting gate when new proposals and ideas come across his desk.

“In terms of biosecurity and animal welfare, there is a lot to keep ahead of when it comes to New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry. The expectations of our trade partners are very high. For me it’s keeping an eye on the horizon and making sure the demands and regulations put forward are achievable in real world situations.”

Part of the “drafting” process involves consultation with the
B+LNZ farmer councils.

“Talking to our people on the ground that are actually out there doing it and discussing what will work and what won’t. . .

Sheep farming runs in the blood – Mary-Jo Tohill:

The Robertsons were not meant to continue sheep farming.

In 1998, the West Otago couple were advised to go dairying. It would be more lucrative. But it was the dual-purpose Romney all the way to the bank.

“The accountant thought we were crazy,” fourth generation sheep farmer Blair Robertson said.

“We sacked the accountant and got a new one.”

Borrowing to buy the family farm at Waikoikoi between Tapanui and Gore has meant huge debt servicing and it has been a tough grind for the past 20 years, but they are living their particular dream. . . 

A life’s work of plant breeding – Richard Rennie:

Ten years after the kiwifruit sector was all but wiped out by Psa, Te Puke plant breeder Russell Lowe takes some humble satisfaction knowing his work brought it back from the brink to become the country’s highest value horticultural crop.

Lowe has been part of Plant & Food’s kiwifruit breeding programme at Te Puke for 30-plus years and while just retired, he continues to keep a watching brief on how future breeding work is coming along.

Today’s world-leading kiwifruit breeding facility is a far cry from the wooden bungalow, maize crops and pile of orchard posts that greeted him and his wife when they arrived in the early 1970s. 

He had got the position after completing a major in chemistry at Canterbury and building an interest in horticulture while working in the Horotane Valley over the holidays. That had been followed by a stint at the then DSIR Research orchard in Appleby in the Tasman district as a horticultural technician. . . 

Proudly sponsoring Surfing for Farmers since 2018:

Our Kiwi farmers and growers leave everything they have on the field, they give their all to support New Zealand’s economy and ensure we have access to the very best food and beverage. However, this does take a toll on their wellbeing and mental health. Helping farmers and growers take care of their mental health is as important to Ballance Agri-Nutrients as the health and safety of our own team, that’s why we are a founding partner of the Surfing for Farmers programme.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of New Zealand farmers is an important topic,” says Jason Minkhorst, GM Sales, Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

“When you consider all the factors that farmers deal with on a daily bases such as working remotely, animal welfare, financial pressure, consumer demands, media and lobby group commentary, long hours and weather events like drought, it is easy to understand why mental health is an issue in rural New Zealand. . . 

Network 10 signs Rabobank to help Farm to Fork cooking show

Agribusiness lender Rabobank is partnering with Network 10’s television cooking show Farm to Fork.

The bank – a global specialist in food and agribusiness and one of the leading providers of Australia agricultural financial services – has joined with Network 10 and Farm to Fork’s producers Dual Entertainment as a partner in season two of the television program.

The show, which airs nationally on weekday afternoons, aims to help inform Australians how to eat and live well.

The program aims to inspire viewers to not only cook at home but also have a better appreciation of where and how their food is grown. . . 


Rural round-up

26/11/2020

Pandemic pressure affects export supply chain – Richard Rennie:

Exporters can expect frustrating delays for container deliveries port schedules over the peak of the export season, as logistics and trucking companies struggle with supply chain bottlenecks.

National Road Carriers Association chief executive David Aitken says his members are experiencing unprecedented delays at container depots and ports, with trucks queueing for several hours before collecting their container load.

“There are capacity issues right now, with ships sometimes running 10-12 days behind schedule; I do not think they are taking as many voyages in and out,” he said. 

“The vehicle booking system (for container exchange) is simply unable to keep up. We have trucking companies that now have to give two to three days’ notice for container collection.” . . 

Convinced wool’s worth investing in – Sally Rae:

Bruce Abbott acknowledges he has got a lot out of the wool industry and, conversely, he always felt he should put something back.

Mr Abbott (74) retires at the end of this year as executive officer of the New Zealand Wool Classers Association. He will still keep his hand in an industry in which his involvement has spanned 60 years.

Established in 2006, NZWCA was established to promote the interests of its wool classer, grader and woolhandler members. It also welcomed participation of people working in other parts of the wool value chain.

Mr Abbott, who lives in Mosgiel, was on the board of NZWCA for four years before being appointed executive officer, a role he has held for six years. . .

PINZ Awards presented in Wellington:

The primary industry’s ‘Leadership Award’ was presented last night to Southland drystock farmer Bernadette Hunt at Te Papa in Wellington.

The Primary Industries awards are in their second year and aim to recognise and celebrate achievement within New Zealand’s most valuable industry.

Bernadette’s award recognised her commitment to advocating for farming, particularly given her efforts to highlight the challenges farmers face nationwide measuring up to the government’s new freshwater regulations.

“Bernadette has the rare combination of having a clear vision of what’s right and wrong, being able to articulate a strong message and bring others on the journey. She absolutely leads by example,” Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said. . . 

Decision on pay affects Alliance – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s annual result includes a $19.9million provision for back-paying employees for the time spent putting on and removing work-related protective gear and clothing.

In May last year, the Court of Appeal declined an appeal from meat industry employers against an Employment Court decision that ruled “donning and doffing” was “work”.

That decision meant workers would be paid for the time they spent preparing to go to and from rest and meal breaks, including taking off and cleaning their safety equipment and going through complex hygiene processes.

In a statement announcing the annual result yesterday, Alliance Group said a proposal to resolve those claims was subject to ratification by the New Zealand Meat Workers Union. . .

The dog and ram run :

Grizz, the huntaway, is not fond of being touched.

Which doesn’t make veterinarian Tara Gower’s job easy.

Grizz is one of hundreds of working dogs that, at this time of year, are visited for an annual check-up.

Tara says it makes sense for the vet to travel to the dogs. . .

New Zealand Rural Land Company to list on NZX stock market:

The recently formed New Zealand Rural Land Company is planning to list on the NZX stock market later next month with an initial public offer of shares.

The company is looking to raise between $75 million and $150m, and follows a private capital-raising for wholesale investors in June and July.

The company plans to invest in rural land, without direct exposure to agricultural operations and commodity price volatility.

It is offering between 60 and 120 million shares at an issue price of $1.25 each. . .


Rural round-up

24/09/2020

What’s going on in Southland? – Peter Burke:

It is hard to fathom exactly what’s going to happen in Southland in light of the impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations.

There is clearly great mistrust on the part of Federated Farmers of Environment Minister David Parker, with Feds provincial vice president Bernadette Hunt saying they can’t get through to him on the issue of winter grazing.

It is no secret that Labour has an equal mistrust of Feds, frequently referring to them as the National Party in gumboots.

Feds see some aspects of the new freshwater regulations as unworkable and in this they are right. Furthermore, they question why such a law was passed with basic errors of fact.

Time to put mental health preparedness into action – Elle Perriam:

Being aware of mental health issues is admirable but sometimes it’s not enough, the founder of Will to Live charity, Elle Perriam says.

“I sort of don’t like to say mental health awareness as much because I think there is a lot of awareness out there – but awareness really means nothing to us unless we put it in to action” Perriam told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Perriam was no stranger to mental health battles herself, founding Will to Live after she lost her partner to suicide in 2017.

She suggested checking in on farmer friends this week and instead of asking them how they’re going – ask them if they’re happy. . . 

Lincoln PhD student receives prestigious Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award :

A Lincoln University PhD student has received this year’s Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award for her work in protecting crops from drought.

Laura Keenan, 28, received the prestigious award at a ceremony at the Kate Sheppard Memorial Wall on Worcester St in Christchurch on Saturday.

Keenan completed an honours degree in Agricultural Science at Lincoln University graduating in 2014. She worked within the area firstly with Soil Matters in Canterbury and then Agricom in Palmerston North before starting her PhD study at Lincoln University in June 2020.

Her PhD is focused on creating a tool that will help with predicting yield and the quality of several plants and herbs included in pasture mixes across New Zealand with the goal of improving drought resilience and feed supply for farmers. . . 

New tech to cut rural energy costs – Annette Scott:

An innovative new player in rural electricity supply has commissioned its first investor-owned solar system on a North Canterbury dairy farm. Solagri Energy Ltd founders share their business journey with Annette Scott.

NEW Zealand dairy farms can now get solar electricity and large-scale battery storage on-farm with zero capital outlay.

Solagri Energy Ltd, a new and innovative player in rural electricity supply, has commissioned its first investor-owned solar array and large-scale lithium ion battery system on a North Canterbury dairy farm.

Co-founders Peter Saunders and Hamish Hutton just happen to be cousins with their business idea stemming around a family campfire. . . 

Challenge to keep pastures resilient – Richard Rennie:

Commercial plant breeders are united in efforts to help deliver New Zealand farmers better options when it comes to selecting for more resilient pastures in years to come.

Head of Barenbrug’s plant breeding team Courtney Inch says the challenge in NZ, being a relatively small market on a global scale, is having enough capital to invest in developing commercially viable pastures for our market.

This is complicated by NZ being a relatively complex pastoral system, with climatic conditions in Southland for example quite dissimilar to those in Waikato, often requiring different feed types for a relatively small pastoral zone.

“But it is to the industry’s credit we are seeing some really good collaborative work being done now in this area of developing more resilient pastures,” he said. . . 

Superfines leading the charge in wool price spikes – Bruce McLeish:

The wool market surprised many participants last week, with a much stronger performance than expected.

While there had been some business done the previous week, and a positive tone was anticipated, it just got better and better as the week progressed.

A total offering across Australia of just under 30,000 bales – which these days is considered ‘on the large side’ – was keenly sought after, particularly at the finer end.

The Kiwi’s added to the total – with 3000 bales offered in Melbourne – and South Africa put up 6500 bales, almost all of which were consumed by a suddenly hungry wool trade. . . 


Rural round-up

29/08/2020

Growers caught in no-man’s land – Richard Rennie:

Working south of the Bombays has taken on a whole new level of complexity for produce growers caught with land and operations between Waikato and the locked down super city of Auckland.

During the national level four lockdown the greatest problem for growers was the overnight loss of markets and outlets for produce.

But Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Kylie Faulkner said this time it was the logistics of trying to operate blocks of growing land lying in neighbouring Waikato region.

“There is this invisible line which we are dealing with here in Bombay,” she said. . . 

Young Waikato dairy farmer seizes opportunities :

Pete Smit is one of a growing number of young business-savvy New Zealanders seizing opportunities in the dairy sector.

The 22-year-old is in his third season as a herd-owning sharemilker on a 68-hectare farm at Ohaupo near Hamilton.

The property is jointly owned by his mother Nienke Hartog and brother Floyd Smit.

Smit’s herd of just over 200 Holstein Friesian cows produced almost 130,000 kilograms of milksolids (kgMS) in the 2019-20 season. . . 

Venison hits six-year slump due to Covid-19 – Maja Burry:

The impact of Covid-19 on the restaurant trade is expected to see returns for deer farmers slump to a six-year low this spring. The global pandemic has dented demand for venison, mostly eaten at restaurants.

Venison prices often peak in spring, when the meat is highly sought after by European customers during their autumn and winter game season. With winter drawing to a close here, many of New Zealand’s 1400 deer farmers have been focused on getting their stock ready for processing.

North Canterbury farmer, Sam Zino, said through no fault of farmers, returns this season would suffer as a result of Covid-19.

“I fully understand it hasn’t come from anything industry has done, it’s just good old Covid playing out,” Zino said. . .

Rural vet sees grass staggers cow disease spike – Maja Burry:

Having only recently escaped drought, a mild winter on the Hauraki Plains is now creating a different challenge for farmers; grass staggers.

Prolonged gentle rain, combined with mild temperatures and very few frosts has resulted in rapid pasture growth in recent weeks.

That means many farms have increased their pasture rotation, exposing the cows to younger grasses which were high in potassium and non-protein nitrogen, and low in magnesium. That’s a classic recipe for the condition known as grass staggers. . . 

Submissions open on new potato herbicide Soleto:

We are seeking views on an application to import or manufacture Soleto, a broad spectrum herbicide for potatoes.

Soleto contains the active ingredient metobromuron, which is approved in Europe but not currently in New Zealand.

The applicant, Belchim Crop Protection, wants to import Soleto for the control of broadleaf weeds in potatoes, using ground-based application methods. . .

Prince Charles donates funds to new farming mental health charity

Prince Charles has made a “significant” donation to a new charity which aims to tackle mental health in the farming community following the devastating impact of the coronavirus.

In a video message directed at tenants on the Duchy of Cornwall estate, the Prince of Wales admitted he felt “demoralised” to learn how many people working in the food, farming, tourism and hospitality industries had been affected by the pandemic.

“This coronavirus has perhaps reminded us that society works because people do things together for the common good – whether that it key workers keeping us healthy, farmers producing our food, or the supply chain meeting our needs,” he said. . . 


Rural round-up

21/06/2020

NZ primary sector the fuel for the post pandemic engine room:

Bank of New Zealand’s (BNZ) Shift Happens Agribusiness survey reveals a significant change in the mindset of New Zealand primary producers with the vast majority excited about the primary sector’s prospects post COVID-19.

The survey, conducted before and during the COVID-19 lockdown, found a marked shift in mindset of New Zealand’s primary producers whose pre-COVID-19 outlook improved from 58% positive about the opportunity to embrace a new future for their agribusiness, to 89% being excited about their pivotal role in supporting the New Zealand economy.

BNZ’s Shift Happens Agribusiness survey also found: . . 

Some farmers get banned gun rights – Neal Wallace:

Select farmers now have the right to use prohibited firearms for pest control but there are warnings access to new weapons and spare parts could be restricted and the cost inflated.

Alexandra pest controller Robert Andrews is unsure he will be able to get spare parts such as rifle barrels, with one importer telling him it will no longer be involved because the market has shrunk.

“We are only looking at probably 300 commercial users with semi-automatics for pest control and they may have two or three firearms each and then factor in the part-timers so I would guess we are talking maybe 1000 to 2000 prohibited firearms nationwide.”

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners estimates 170,000 now-prohibited weapons were imported in the last 10 years. . . 

Index points to greener herds – Richard Rennie:

Genetics company LIC is providing a tool for farmers wanting to consider their herd’s gas and nitrogen footprint when breeding replacements. Environment and welfare manager Tony Fransen spoke to Richard Rennie about its new HoofPrint index and how it could help make herd environmental footprints lighter.

LIC’s annual genetics catalogue showcasing farmers’ bull options for breeding will this year include an extra column amid the usual production and economic traits. 

The HoofPrint index ranks its sires’ estimated ability to breed greener daughters that produce less nitrogen and methane.

“The objective was to determine how we can quantify the role genetics has had in achieving environmental gains over the last 20-30 years and, from that, estimate what the cow 20-30 years from now will look like,” Fransen said. . . 

Tenure review submitters highlight access :

Access is at the forefront of submissions on a tenure review of New Zealand’s largest high country station.

Many of the more than 30 submissions on a preliminary proposal developed for Northern Southland’s Glenaray Station, home to more than 60 threatened species and 15 rare plants, are focused on access.

Under the preliminary proposal, 38,000ha would become public conservation land, 13,400ha freehold subject to conservation covenants, and the remainder of the 62,000ha station freehold without conditions.

Submitters included Otago Conservation Board, Southland District Council, Game Animal Council and other individuals. . . 

North Canterbury farm wins two accolades in national dairy competition

A North Canterbury farm has clinched two awards in the national final of a major dairy cow breeding competition.

Almost 700 cows from 95 farms were entered in this year’s Holstein Friesian NZ Semex On Farm Competition.

Sherraine Holsteins, of Ohoka near Kaiapoi, won the two-year-old class and the veteran cow class.

“We are thrilled. The line-up of cows in this year’s national final was outstanding, so to take out two classes was exciting,” said Olivia Cahill. . . 

DCANZ welcomes launch of NZ-UK FTA negotiation:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the launch of free trade agreement negotiations between New Zealand and the UK as a positive development in the trade agenda.

“A high-quality and comprehensive FTA between the UK and New Zealand will further strengthen the historic and close relationship between our two countries” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey

“At this time, when we are seeing a number of countries revert to trade protectionist policies and subsidies, it is heartening to see like-minded countries like New Zealand and the UK showing leadership on trade issues”.

Currently, the UK is only a small market for New Zealand dairy exports, accounting for 0.08% of New Zealand’s dairy exports in 2019. This is despite the fact that the UK is one of the world’s largest importers of dairy products. . . 


Rural round-up

17/06/2020

New contest celebrates agripreneurs – Richard Rennie:

GlobalHQ, publisher of Farmers Weekly and Dairy Farmer, is sponsoring B.linc Innovation’s inaugural awards celebrating innovation and technology in the primary sector.

The Celebrating Success Innovation Awards run by the Lincoln University’s Blinc Innovation centre have three sections.

They are for on-farm innovation, off-farm-consumer innovation and a creative innovation-future tech award for secondary school students.

Global HQ co-owner Dean Williamson said the primary sector has had to respond to covid-19 in numerous innovative and nimble ways to continue growing, harvesting and processing primary products. . . 

Te Puke’s golden promise: Harnessing the post-Covid potential of a furry little fruit – Josie Adams:

The Bay of Plenty is synonymous with kiwifruit. With a large contingent of new workers moving in this season from Covid-displaced industries, Josie Adams asked what life is like for those who’ve been there for years.

Under a very heavy tree in Tom French’s orchard waits a very heavy hedgehog. About a metre above the hog the tree has two branches grafted on; golden kiwifruit. This is one of only a few trees with fruit left; the rest have been picked, packed, and put in storage. This fruit is for the family, and for any roaming animal with enough patience. 

French has been in the kiwifruit business for 40 years, and hedging his bets on a 50/50 split between golden kiwifruit and traditional greens has helped him weather some of the industry’s storms.

First planted in the Bay of Plenty in the 1930s, by the 70s and 80s, kiwifruit – formerly known as Chinese gooseberries, and before that monkey peaches – were taking off. French estimates they were selling trays for up to $16. Then, there was a heart-stopping price drop: five competing export companies, combined with a slowdown in demand, meant those same trays were worth only $4. . . 

Fed Farmers boss welcomes environmentalists to Southland – Louisa Steyl:

Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young extended an olive branch to environmentalists by inviting them to see the improvements made to winter grazing conditions in the region.

Young invited Angus Robson, Geoff Reid and Matt Coffey to Southland at the weekend, on behalf of all farmers, after receiving an email from Robson raising concerns about practices on a particular farm.

The three visited the farm, along with two others, on Saturday, and Young said it proved to be a worthwhile day.

“It was quite a robust discussion,” Young said. . . 

Dairy just the job – Samantha Tennent:

A sharp rise in unemployment is on the horizon because of covid-19 but the dairy sector will offer some reprieve. 

DairyNZ is encouraging people to consider work on dairy farms in a new Go Dairy campaign that offers entry-level training to help the transition to farming.

While the Go Dairy career-changers campaign, supported by Federated Farmers, aims to create awareness of the job opportunities there is a big emphasis on ensuring new staff understand what is involved in farm life.

“We want a win-win situation for new dairy farming employees to be happy and fulfilled in their new lifestyle and jobs and for farm employers to have great talent working for them,” DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says. . . 

Bouncing forward :

The kids are back at school, we can once again spend time with small groups of friends and family, and takeaways can offer a night off cooking. Looking back, we dairy farmers were grateful to be essential workers during Covid-19 Levels 3 and 4, with kids able to roam around the farm and help us out!

With glorious Taranaki weather, and the mountain visible from the dining room window most days, our kids were very motivated to get their home learning tasks done by lunch so they could spend the afternoon outside. Riding their motorbikes around the farm improved their riding skills. Going for on-farm runs and bike rides or playing soccer and rugby on the front lawn kept them physically busy.

I took up running and joined the online fitness group ‘Strong Woman’. Now I take time most days to get in a run or a workout. I never felt I had time pre-Covid to focus on my fitness. . . 

Life attracts life’: the Irish farmers filling their fields with bees and butterflies – Ella McSweeney:

Michael Davoren shudders when he thinks of the 1990s. He’d been in charge of his 80-hectare farm in the Burren, Co Clare, since the 1970s, and the place was in his blood. The Davorens had worked these hills for 400 years.

But growing intensification fuelled by European subsidies meant that most farmers in this part of Ireland were having to decide between getting big or getting out. Hundreds were choosing the latter.

Davoren followed the advice to specialise and chase the beef markets. “The more animals I kept, the more money I got,” he says. “I put more cattle out, bought fertiliser, made silage. Slurry run-off was killing fish. But if I kept fewer animals I’d be penalised 10% of my subsidy.” . .

 


Rural round-up

08/06/2020

Deer industry wary on reforms :

The deer industry remains cautious of the Government’s latest freshwater policy decisions given there is little expertise outside of the deer industry about to how minimise the impacts of deer on the environment.

While the revised regulations give deer farmers more certainty about farm compliance there are still several impractical implications for deer farmers, Deer Industry New Zealand chairman Ian Walker said.

“As an industry we have supported the need for farm environment plans so making them mandatory should not be a burden as long as the proposed farm plans address actual environmental risks and auditing reflects deer farming knowledge and understanding of deer behaviours,” Walker said. . .

Giving hill country farmers a voice – David Hill:

Growing up in Rangiora, Teagan Graham never imagined what experiences lay ahead in the sheep and beef sector.

The University of Otago student gained a Silver Fern Farms scholarship last year and then landed a summer internship with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, assisting on a project studying the future of hill-country farming.

Ms Graham is in the final year of a degree in environmental management and ecology, but little did she know when attending Rangiora High School that she could make a career in agriculture, as she was not from a farm.

‘‘You definitely can have a career in agriculture. I one-hundred percent believe it now,’’ she said. . .

Technology collars ewe super mums – Richard Rennie:

A mother’s love might be unconditional but new collar technology for sheep proves love can be determined by an algorithm, helping New Zealand sheep become more productive in the process. Richard Renniespoke to Smart Shepherd director Mike Tate about his company’s cutting-edge tracking device.

Thirty years ago when scanning technology was developed for commercial use in sheep pregnancy detection it was deservedly hailed as a leap forward in helping better measure ewe productivity.

But former AgResearch developer Dr Mike Tate said despite having scanning data sheep farmers have always faced a gap in understanding why scanning percentages are not usually matched by weaned lamb percentages. 

The Smart Shepherd technology will provide the data to fill that gap.  .  .

Horticulture student’s drive to push New Zealand’s high quality produce around the globe is rewarded:

The journey of New Zealand’s high quality nutritious food from farmer to fork is what drives Agcarm’s horticultural scholarship winner, Alexandra Tomkins in her goal to be a leader in food production.

The Massey University student is in her third year of a Bachelor of AgriCommerce degree and will put her winnings towards her student loan, which she says is “fairly daunting”.

Growing up in New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand before finishing her school studies in New Zealand, Tomkins says that, as New Zealanders, we don’t realise how good our produce is – that high quality is the norm.  She intends to share New Zealand’s story and encourage the food industry to be more consumer-centric and sustainable. . .

Big winners featured on small screen:

For the first time ever, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be screened on national television on Saturday 4th July at 7:30pm.

The Awards will be televised on Country TV’s Sky Channel 81 which will be accessible to all viewers without subscription. It will also be available online for those who do not have Sky.

“We’re excited about airing our National awards on Country TV and the additional recognition our finalists, partners and national sponsors will receive,” says NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon. . .

The global forest industry this quarter:

Global Timber Markets

    • There were relatively few price changes for sawlogs throughout the world in the 1Q/20 despite interruptions in trade and uncertainty in short-term lumber demand in many of the key markets.
    • The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) remained practically unchanged from the 4Q/19 to the 1Q/20. This followed a period of two years when the Index was in constant decline.
    • Over the past two decades, sawlog prices in Eastern Europe have gone up the most on the continent, albeit from low levels, while prices in Central Europe have declined substantially, particularly in 2019. . .

Rural round-up

26/05/2020

Hundreds of pruning jobs and Gwen Di Schiena can’t get one of them – Maia Hart:

A woman in Marlborough is saddened she can’t work, despite multiple job opportunities, as her visa conditions do not allow it.

Gwen Di Schiena, from Italy, moved to New Zealand to work in an administration role in Marlborough’s tourism industry.

Di Schiena is on an essential skills visa, with conditions that attached her to her employer, job title and region.

Di Schiena was on a seasonal contract until the end of April. She planned to travel New Zealand for a month and then go back to Italy for winter. . . 

Northland forest owners and managers slam new legislation – Imran Ali:

Larger forest owners and managers in Northland are opposing new government legislation to strengthen domestic wood processing, citing insufficient consultation and unnecessary duplication of existing rules.

In its submission on the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisors) Amendment Bill, the Northland Wood Council said inadequate consultation with the region’s iwi who were important stakeholders in the forest industry was outside the Treaty of Waitangi principles.

The Bill, introduced as part of the Budget 2020, will require forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to register and work to nationally-agreed practice standards towards a thriving forestry sector that benefits New Zealanders first. . . 

Food Ministry would seize Covid moment – Richard Rennie:

A nation that manages to unite and fight covid-19 is well placed to draw breath, reform and address its next big campaign – supporting, nurturing and promoting Kiwi food. Food writer, editor and chef Lauraine Jacobs believes New Zealand is at a time that cannot be wasted, where our efforts on dealing with covid-19 put us in the global spotlight and having a Ministry of Food could ensure our high-quality produce gets to share that spotlight. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

Foodie Lauraine Jacobs says the concept of a Ministry of Food is not new and first mooted in 2006 by food writer Kate Fraser.

“It is a debate that has been ongoing but never come to fruition. Now it is time that it did.”

As the primary sector has grappled with perceived rural-urban divides, environmental criticism, labour challenges and debt stress its collective purpose  to produce high-quality, nutritious food for the local population and earn valuable export dollars has been lost on central government. . . 

Targeted response could be needed for rural communities – NZIER :

Rural communities which are already deprived or reliant on tourism will need the most support to recover from the pandemic’s economic damage.

The Institute of Economic Research has calculated which regions are likely to benefit most from targeted support.

The just-released report shows every regional economy will be hurt, but the hardest-hit will be areas with more tourism and construction.

The analysis shows existing inequities in communities such as East Cape and Ruatoria will be made worse if those areas are not supported in the economic recovery.

The report’s lead author, Bill Kaye-Blake, said New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery must include rural communities. . . 

Rates rise to hit Ōpōtiki orchardists hardest -Charlotte Jones:

Owners of high value kiwifruit orchards in the eastern Bay of Plenty will be the biggest rates losers in the coming year, forking out an extra $10,000.

While the average annual rate rise in the Ōpōtiki district is forecast to be 4.25 per cent – down from the 5.06 per cent originally signalled – the actual increase varies significantly depending on location and property type.

The big winners are the owners of coastal properties at Te Kaha who can expect an average decrease of 13 per cent and rural residential property owners whose rates will drop 8 percent.

Kiwifruit orchardists with properties valued at more than $9.3 million are the biggest losers with their rates due to rise 55 per cent, increasing from $20,000 a year to $31,000. . . 

“Pest” Wallabies could be earning money for NZ:

Wallabies given a dishonourable mention in government’s recent budget as a pest needing money to combat them, could be earning valuable local and export dollars money by way of meat and hides says a hunters’ environmental advocacy the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust.

The trust’s spokesman Laurie Collins of Westport, said the wild animals should be seen as a resource and in that way numbers could be heavily culled for wallaby-based pet food and meat for human consumption both in New Zealand and export markets such as Asia.

“The culture is wrong. Forget the word ‘pest’, think ‘resource’ and exploit them to manage and control,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/04/2020

Farmstrong: focus on controlling what you can:

Learning to live with unexpected challenges is the key to getting through life in lockdown for Otago farmer Luke Tweed.

Luke and his family run a 730ha sheep and beef operation in Central Otago. It’s the family farm and he enjoys carrying on the tradition. 

“I love being able to work outside and with animals but the opportunity to bring up our kids on this farm is the really big one for us.”

Tweed, his wife Bridget and their four kids have coped okay with lockdown so far.  . .

Covid 19 coronavirus: Why New Zealand’s mānuka honey exporters are smiling again – Jamie Gray:

One of the strongest harvests on record, together with a big lift in sales resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, have combined to brighten the outlook for New Zealand’s mānuka honey sector.

The harvest, which ends soon, is well up on last year, and mānuka honey is in demand overseas for its claimed health benefits.

It’s not all good news, however. Domestic sales aimed at the incoming tourism sector have been hit hard as countries go into Covid-19 lockdown and air travel subsides. . .

 

Free range chooks scoop top award – Richard Rennie:

Living a carefree life comprising a diet of bugs, apples and organic maize has earned the chickens raised by Hawke’s Bay brothers George and Ben Bostock New Zealand’s supreme food award.

The Bostock brothers were named the supreme champions for their organic whole chicken brand in this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. 

The firm was established by Ben five years ago.

Today the brothers supply organic, free-range chicken to butchers, supermarkets and the pre-covid-19 restaurant trade.   . .

Bumper maze crop despite drought – Pam Tipa:

Waikato owner-operated farmers Nacre and Anthony Maiden says the “stars aligned” this year to give them a particularly bumper maize crop despite the drought and their sandy loam soils.

However being flexible with their planting timing, good communication and use of their Herd Homes effluent all helped with their maize crop.

“We were impressed with their maize this year considering the soils we farm,” Nacre told Dairy News.  . . 

NZ’s top young Maori growers – Peter Burke:

The finalists in the inaugural Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award have just been announced.

The finalists are:

• Twenty-four-year-old Brandon Darny Paora Ngamoki Cross, 24, works as trainee orchard manager for the large kiwifruit orchard management and post-harvest company Seeka.

• Maatutaera Tipoki Akonga, who is 26, works as a senior leading hand at Llewellyn Horticulture based in the Hastings area.

• Finnisha Nicola Letitia Tuhiwai, 25 who is a packhouse manager for Maungatapere Berries, located west of Whangarei.

Smithfield shutting U.S. pork plant indefinitely, warns of meat shortages during pandemic – Tom Polansek:

Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, said on Sunday it will shut a U.S. plant indefinitely due to a rash of coronavirus cases among employees and warned the country was moving “perilously close to the edge” in supplies for grocers.

Slaughterhouse shutdowns are disrupting the U.S. food supply chain, crimping availability of meat at retail stores and leaving farmers without outlets for their livestock.

Smithfield extended the closure of its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant after initially saying it would idle temporarily for cleaning. The facility is one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, representing 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, according to the company. . .

 


Rural round-up

31/03/2020

Resuscitating a virus-ravaged economy – the answer lies in the soil and the exports it generates – Point of Order:

Westpac is forecasting 200,000 jobs will be lost in NZ as a result of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Chief economist Dominick Stephens estimates economic activity during the four week lock-down would decline by a third, despite the government and the Reserve Bank having “done a lot to calm financial markets”.

Stephens said his feeling was that GDP in the three months to June would fall by more than 10%— “which is completely unprecedented in our lifetimes”.

The  Westpac  diagnosis  reinforces  the argument  advanced  by  Point of   Order   in  one of  its most intently  read  posts:  “After the lock-down the  economy’s  recovery  will be  dependent on dairy farmers and  their  milk”. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: It’s essential that agriculture does its bit – Chris Lewis:

To beat Covid-19 those working on the land must do their bit on-farm and off, writes Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis.

Just like our hard working medical and emergency services, communications and infrastructure teams, the next four weeks will see farmers and their supporting services continuing to work while most of the country is locked down.

Being away from the high populations of our urban centres is an advantage in a time when we need to limit people contact and for many, business on the farm will largely feel like usual.

But for all of us to beat this, those working on the land must do their bit on the farm and off. . . 

Protocols present harvest challenges – Richard Rennie:

As Covid-19 protocols for essential industry staff become clearer, the kiwifruit sector is facing some tough decisions on how realistic they will prove for this year’s harvest to be successful.

Growers have only one day to go for registration as an “essential business”, and all growers and contractors with over five staff will be required to be registered with Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). 

Businesses have until 5pm on Friday March 27 to be registered.

Doug Brown NZKGI chairman said he could not reiterate enough the importance of registering under Level 4 Covid-19 rules. . . 

 

Whanganui meat business Coastal Spring Lamb wins another food award – Laurel Stowell :

A second food award is a ray of sunshine amid a time of drought and pandemic for Turakina farmer Richard Redmayne.

He founded and, with farming partners, owns the Coastal Spring Lamb brand. Its lamb backstraps have won a gold medal in the Outstanding New Zealand Food Producers Awards, announced on March 24. Other gold winners in the category were beef and chicken products, and eggs.

The awards are judged 75 per cent on taste, 15 per cent on sustainability and 10 per cent on brand. Judges said the lamb backstraps were “a real class act”, with sustainability built in, consideration for animal welfare and care for the land. . . 

Raw milk rings alarm bells – Richard Rennie:

The increasingly popular and often controversial choice to drink raw milk has had alarm bells ringing among public health officials in recent years. Richard Rennie spoke to veterinarian and researcher Genevieve Davys about her work with Massey University disease experts on the link between raw milk and campylobacter.

Research has revealed children under 10 are most likely to contract campylobacter disease by drinking raw milk and account for 29% of the raw milk-related cases notified in the MidCentral Health district from 2012 to 2017.

The study collected data on all cases of campylobacter notified in that period. It then dug deeper into raw milk campylobacteriosis cases, comparing the demographics of them to other campylobacter cases where raw milk was not drunk.

Raw milk was linked to almost 8% of the notified cases.  . . 

New protocols to keep the shears clicking during the coronavirus emergency – Vernon Graham:

Shearers and shed hands should travel to work in separate vehicles, according to new wool harvesting protocols.

They should only travel together if the vehicle (eg, a bus) is big enough to allow the recommended 1.5 metres spacing between them.

The protocols have been developed in a collaboration between AWEX, WoolProducers Australia, Sheep Producers Australia, the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia and the WA Shearing Industry Association. . .

 


Rural round-up

26/03/2020

COVID-19: Support rural businesses – Rural Women NZ – Pam Tipa:

We need to make sure that our rural businesses are well supported, says Fiona Gower, Rural Women NZ national president.

“With the lack of tourists coming through we need to ensure the small businesses can survive because without them we don’t have a community,” she told Rural News last week.

“Once they are gone it is really hard to get them back.

She says digital communication will also play an important part in the coronavirus response.  . . 

Rural businesses band together – Colin Williscroft:

Rural businesses Farmlands, PGG Wrightson and FarmSource have pledged to work together during the covid-19 response.

In an open letter, the companies’ chief executives said they will harness their collective supply chain to maintain productivity.

“It is time for us all to do what we can to try and continue to support you through these challenging times,” the letter says.

“We are working closely together to ensure that all farmers and growers across New Zealand have the necessary products and supplies to keep your businesses operating.  . . 

Rules driving farmers out – Sudesh Kissun:

New farming rules around sustainability are driving elderly farmers out of the dairy industry, says agri-economist Phil Journeaux.

He says over the past three years, there’s been an increase in farmers, in their 60s and 70s, looking at other options. Journeaux, AgFirst Waikato, spoke at a Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) seminar in Te Aroha last week.

Attended by about 50 farmers, the event went ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Maize volume okay but feed still tight – Richard Rennie:

The maize silage supply has shaped up better than might have been expected despite one of the driest summers on record stifling production.

Bill Webb of Bill Webb Feed Solutions near Te Puke said crops on lower, wetter country have performed better this year than last season when heavy rain washed out many crops on the same land.

“But on the higher, drier country the yields have proved to be quite variable. Average block yields would still be 22 tonnes a hectare but there are some on that lower country that would be up to 26t.”  . . 

2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals winners announced:

In a world that’s a little topsy-turvy it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate great New Zealand produce with the announcement of 2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medal winners.

Twenty-five judges and eight stewards worked in panels to assess a record 225 food and drink entries at AUT School of Hospitality & Tourism on Saturday 7 March 2020. Following the judges’ assessment of aroma, appearance, taste, texture and quality which accounted for 75% of marks, products were assessed for sustainability and brand story. Shoppers will recognise outstanding food and drink as they proudly wear Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards gold, silver and bronze medals—a guarantee of product quality. . . 

Maori orchardists capitalise on global demand for organic produce – Bonnie Flaws:

Māori orchardist Otama Marere has embraced organic kiwifruit production, converting a total of 7 hectares of its 45 hectare block into organic SunGold kiwifruit, with further conversions being considered.

The trust that manages the land has also held educational days on the land for other Maori kiwifruit growers interested in organic production, says orchard manager Homman Tapsell.

The land, near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty is a former Māori settlement on the banks of the Kaituna river, with the name coming from a nearby pa site that was occupied by Rangiiwaho and his whanau. Trust members are the descendants of Rangiiwaho, he said. . . 


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