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. . . 


Rural round-up

22/03/2020

Farming and coronavirus – Primary Land Users Group:

Currently New Zealand is looking down the barrel of a massive health crisis and equally as bad economic crisis due to the advent of the Coronavirus.

New Zealand farming has over the last couple of years under the current government has been berated, belittled & blamed for almost all of the pollution problems that we are facing as a country.

This coalition government has produced many polices aimed at the farmers of New Zealand that are supposedly going to fix all of the problems that we have with pollution of our land & waterways and protection of our national indigenous biodiversity. . . 

Chinese demand provides cushion – Neal Wallace:

Reviving demand in China is providing primary sector exporters with some cushioning from covid-19 fallout as other countries start slipping into recession.

Having earlier this year weathered the virtual shutdown of China as it battled to contain covid-19, meat companies are seeing improved demand as life there slowly returns to normal.

Government restrictions confined people at home, preventing them working, shopping or eating at restaurants but they are slowly being lifted. . . 

Kiwifruit harvest tougher with worker loss – Richard Rennie:

The kiwifruit sector has been left hundreds of workers short after New Zealand’s unprecedented border shutdowns locked out seasonal workers for good this season.

Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Nikki Johnson confirmed 1300 Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from the Pacific Islands unable to get here. That represents more than half the region’s allocation for RSE staff.

The sector is seeking special dispensation to fly the workers in despite the border closure.  . . 

Young breeders from round the world gather – Sally Rae:

Fernando Alfonso describes Hereford cattle as a “very complete breed”.

Mr Alfonso, his brother Guzman, and Agustin Pineyrua were in New Zealand for the Boehringer Ingelheim World Hereford Conference.

The four-yearly conference, which was based in Queenstown, was last held in New Zealand in 1984. It attracted breeders from around the world for the week-long event.

A pre-conference tour was held in the North Island and a post-conference tour was being held in the South Island this week. . .

Cute sheep the rage at UK weddings – Sally Rae:

Brides-to-be take note. Having a sheep at a wedding is apparently all the rage in the United Kingdom.

But not just any old sheep – the Valais Blacknose, which originates from Switzerland, and is dubbed the world’s cutest sheep, is the breed of choice at wedding venues.

It might not have been a wedding but Abraham the ram was a crowd-pleaser at the Wanaka A&P Show yesterday.

Abraham was the first lamb born from 25 embryos imported from the UK by Motueka couple Lindsay and Sally Strathdee and Wairarapa-based business partner Christine Reed. . . 

Inside Pahiatua looking out:

According to the news reports reaching the backwoods here in Pahiatua, we hear the logging industry in the far North has been hit hard by the de escalation of raw log exports to China. The stockpiles of logs at ports are at saturation point. Cutting crews are unemployed and trucks sit idle. It does not look good for their local economy.

Meanwhile here in Pahiatua things appear quite different. The town has  Highway 2 running through its middle, either  to Eketahuna in the South or Woodville in the north.

I live on the Main Highway at the North end of town and being a petrolhead of long standing, I can occupy my twilight years sitting under my shade trees watching the passing parade. Which generally speaking is an ever changing kaleidoscope of kiwi’s on the move.  I can go to all the car shows and never have to leave home. . . 


Rural round-up

20/03/2020

Government needs to help farmers – Heather du Plessis-Allan:

Here’s a challenge to this government: help farmers.

If this government is serious about doing everything to get us through this economic crisis in the best shape possible, it has to push pause on all the extra rules it is planning for farming.  Farmers are the ones who are going to get us through this

Look at Fonterra today. It’s holding its forecast farm-gate milk price of between $7 and $7.60. That is good economic news, and we’re getting precious little of that at the moment.

The world can and will stop buying thing – cruises, steel, logs, computers, any number of things – but it can’t stop eating. . .

Dairy industry profits are a bright spot in an economy heading for recession – Point of Order:

NZ’s  dairy  industry, under constant  fire from critics for its methane emissions,  pollution of  waterways  and  intensive farming practices in recent years, almost  overnight  is shaping up   to be one of the  country’s  saviours  as the economy dives into  recession.

While  other   key export sectors — tourism, forestry, education — are jack-knifed by the  coronavirus  pandemic,  the dairy industry’s earnings  more than ever before are proving it to be  what the  critics  have scorned:  “ the backbone of the economy”. . . 

Coronavirus: all shearing competitions cancelled :

The New Zealand Shearing Sports season is over with the cancellation of nine competitions which were scheduled for the next three weeks.

The cancellations include six A and P shows, with confirmation on Wednesday that the Oxford and Mackenzie shows in the South Island weren’t going ahead, following the earlier cancellations of the Methven, Flaxbourne, Warkworth and Auckland Royal Easter shows, the Waimarino and Waitomo shearing competitions, and the New Zealand Shears national shearing and woolhandling championships. . .

Bay company only Kiwi in Top 50 – Richard Rennie:

A Bay of Plenty robotics company is now ranked in the top 50 leading global agri-tech companies. 

Robotics Plus, the only Kiwi company on the list, has made the cut in an annual ranking of companies judged by global agri-tech innovation company Thrive, based in Silicon Valley. 

The Thrive platform is responsible for investing and accelerating start-up agri-tech companies globally. . .

Electronic forms are more efficient – Annette Scott:

Livestock movements will become more accurate and efficient with the introduction of electronic animal status declaration (eASD) forms.

The forms have been tested and farmers moving stock are now being encouraged to go electronic to record their animal movements.

Use of the forms is voluntarily now. . .

New Zealand grown stock feed available for drought-hit farmers:

Latest forecasts suggest New Zealand’s arable farmers have to date been less affected than other primary industry sectors by COVID-19 and the drought.

“It’s clear there are still locally-grown quality stock feed solutions available to farmers in regions hit by drought,” Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

MPI’s just-released Situation Outlook Primary Industries (SOPI) report forecasts that arable production and export for the year ended June 2020 should see revenue increase by 10 percent to $260 million. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

22/02/2020

Workshops to build strong work places – Annette Scott:

Free workshops on building great workplaces are rolling out around the country this week.

The workshops, facilitated by the Dairy Women’s Network, are structured to help build great workplaces on dairy farms.    

Chief executive Jules Benton said the interactive workshops understand how valuable it is for dairy farmers, their teams and their communities to flourish in a positive, supportive environment. . . 

Kiwis hit home at agritech expo – Richard Rennie:

One of the agritech sector’s international leading lights in venture financing has given New Zealand an unequivocal thumbs-up for its ability to punch above its weight in the competitive global scene.

Addressing delegates at the EvokeAg agritech expo in Melbourne, Silicon Valley investment and tech firm SVG Ventures founder John Harnett said he is seeing more NZ agritech start-ups meeting farmers on the ground and integrating well with them to find solutions to their problems.

He also urged Australian counterparts to move further afield in the way NZ, Israel and Irish agritech entrepreneurs have done. . . 

Aussie farmer’s heartfelt message for drought-stricken Kiwis :

A photo shared on The Country’s Facebook page showing severe drought in the Waikato region has struck a chord with one Australian farmer.

After seeing NIWA weather forecaster Chris Brandolino’s post, which featured Sarah Fraser’s sobering image of parched fields, Cindy Bruce left a heartfelt message of support for her Kiwi counterparts.

Bruce, who runs a beef and wheat farm in Central inland Queensland, said the drought had so far cost her over $100k in feed and lost cows and calves, along with a failed wheat crop “which ironically, provided feed for the cows in October”. . . 

Drought’s mixed effects on sectors :

Prolonged dry weather will have mixed effects on commodity prices, says ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny.

For dairy, the drought will put upward pressure on prices as milk production will fall.

“Currently, we forecast 2019-20 production to be flat on 2018-19, but we are reviewing this forecast next week,” says Penny.

Meat changes coming – report – Pam Tipa:

New ideas of what equates to ‘premium’ in red meat are expected to change significantly in coming years, according to a new report from Beef+Lamb (B+LNZ). The traditional characteristics of premium today are marbling and exotic provenance such as Japanese Wagyu, which has been stable for some time.

So says the report called ‘Shaping the future of New Zealand’s Red Meat Sector’ released late last year.

Consumption of acorns by finishing Iberian pigs and their function in the conservation of the Dehesa agroecosystem – Vicente Rodríguez-Estévez*,
Manuel Sánchez-Rodríguez, Cristina Arce, Antón R. García, José M. Perea and A. Gustavo Gómez-Castro :

1. Introduction
The dehesa is an ancient agrosilvopastoral system created by farmers to raise livestock, mainly on private lands. This system is highly appreciated by society and enjoys legal
protection of the authorities because it is rich in biodiversity, a home to critically endangered species (Iberian lynx, imperial eagle and black vulture); a significant carbon
sink; ethnologically and anthropologically valuable (culture and traditions); and is known for its scenic value. The dehesa also underpins rural development and is valuable for, inter
alia, ecotourism and rural tourism; hunting and shooting; fire prevention; wood and charcoal; and for fodder (grass and acorns). However, most of these values do not produce
any benefit to farmers and they do not receive any kind of support from these contributions.

The dehesa is both a resilient and a fragile system; its resilience derives from the perseverance of its operators, and its fragility is its susceptibility to unfavourable economic
factors that influence its profitability (Siebold, 2009). . .


Rural round-up

14/02/2020

Kiwis import dodgy diets – Richard Rennie:

While New Zealand’s ability to export enough food to feed 40 million people is a rarely challenged source of national pride, research questions whether enough is being done to properly feed the five million at home. Richard Rennie spoke to Elaine Rush, emeritus professor of Auckland University of Technology’s health and nutrition department about the disparity between high quality food exports and the ailing diets of the local population.

Elaine Rush’s paper on New Zealand food exports and imports in relation to dietary guidelines is grounded in her growing concern over this country’s poor eating habits, something the number crunching in her work confirmed.

“It seems when I was growing up in the 50s in South Auckland butter was two shillings a pound, everyone had a veggie garden, diets were simpler but adequate and the level of malnourishment we see as obesity today, it just was not there.” . . 

Building great workplaces aim of Dairy Women’s workshops:

Helping build great workplaces for New Zealand’s most talented workforce is the aim of workshops being run throughout New Zealand by the Dairy Women’s Network.

“We are proud to deliver these interactive Supporting you and your team to thrive workshops aimed at understanding how valuable it is that dairy farmers, their teams and their communities can flourish in a positive, supportive environment,” Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton said.

“Having great workplaces and talented people is fundamental to the success of any business, so these workshops will focus on understanding why a culture of wellbeing is important, getting familiar with your own values and what really motivates you, understand the well-being bank account model and being aware of how to optimise team performance.” . . 

Former Nelson dairy farm hopping into a new life :

A 175HA dairy farm in Kohatu, Tapawera, 52km west of Nelson, sold in October 2018 for conversion to a hop garden, is another example of change in land use driving sales of rural property.

Joe Blakiston of PGG Wrightson Real Estate, Marlborough marketed the property, which was purchased by primary production investor MyFarm. He says the farm’s owner first approached PGG Wrightson in April to market the property.

“They were aware of developments around hops and knew the farm was suited to growing them, though were in no hurry to sell.  Because the hop industry hasn’t many big players we discreetly marketed it to reach each one,” Blakiston said. .

Kiwi’s deserve better pork; Kiwi farmers need better support:

Kiwi consumers will be left confused, and Kiwi pork farmers will continue to fight for space alongside imported pork if the Country of Origin labelling rules go ahead as proposed.

The Government is currently consulting on the Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations 2019 – following new laws passed in late 2018 which demanded clarity for consumers purchasing products like bacon and ham. Under the proposed application of the law, sausages are left out, and labelling requirements could still be used by manufacturers to confuse consumers. . .

Haast grazing licence granted, but with tight conditions:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has approved an application to continue grazing an area of the Haast River, provided strict conditions are met.

The application from John B Cowan is to graze 736 hectares of public conservation land along the Haast River, located between the Roaring Billy and the confluence of the Landsborough River.

DOC’s Deputy Director General Partnerships, Dr Kay Booth, who made the decision, says the grazing licence has been approved subject to a number of special conditions to manage the impact of cattle on vegetation and the environment. . .

Dog sleuths sniff out crop disease hitting citrus trees– Christina Larson:

Dog detectives might be able to help save ailing citrus groves, research published Monday suggests.

Scientists trained dogs to sniff out a crop disease called citrus greening that has hit orange, lemon and grapefruit orchards in Florida, California and Texas. The dogs can detect it weeks to years before it shows up on tree leaves and roots, the researchers report.

“This technology is thousands of years old – the dog’s nose,” said Timothy Gottwald, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a co-author of the study. “We’ve just trained dogs to hunt new prey: the bacteria that causes a very damaging crop disease.” . .


Rural round-up

23/01/2020

Farmers, wildlife and residents alike face water shortages as regions dry up fast – Tracy Neal:

Water cuts are looming in pockets of the country drying up fast. 

Councils in affected areas are assembling dry-weather crews, farmers are now giving extra feed to stock, and Northland kiwi birds are now struggling to feed on hard-baked soil, where the dry weather has lingered longer than usual.

Dairy farmer and kiwi conservationist Jane Hutchings said in her 30 years in the area, summer is either saturated by cyclones, or parched dry.

Right now it is the latter, and the kiwi population is struggling. . . 

Farmers’ green tinge growing – Tim Fulton:

Farmers are on a green binge recycling more waste and unwanted products through the Agrecovery scheme than ever before.

Now the Government and agri manufacturers are working on a plan to make industry hitchhikers pay their way.

Agrecovery’s waste collection rates rose 40% in the past couple of years, the animal health and agrichem lobby group Agcarm says.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross said the voluntary returns amount to about 437 tonnes of products, including 11 tonnes of chemicals. The total collected was about half the product in the New Zealand market at any time. . . 

Chinese palate has diverse tastes – Richard Rennie:

Shrink wrapped quail eggs, lifestyle choices and social media are all playing their parts in what and how Chinese will eat heading into the new decade.

Chinese media platform company Radii has analysed latest market trends in the country’s enormous food market as the middle class continues to grow and become a more sophisticated, discerning customer for food imports from the likes of New Zealand.

In its report food journalist Mayura Jain identifies takeout food delivery showing no signs of growth experienced in the past five years slowing down.  . . 

Project aims to give vineyard managers more information in a hail storm – Maja Burry:

Researchers are working to fill the information gap for winegrowers hit by extreme weather events.

The Blenhiem-based Bragato Research Institute has started a two-year project to work out how vineyard managers can best deal with hail storm damage to their vines.

The research follows severe hail in Hawke’s Bay in October last year, which damaged about 600 hectares of vines.

Hail in Central Otago and North Canterbury damaged vines during November. . . 

New market for sunflowers leads to big burst of colour near Timaru– Esther Ashby-Coventry:

It’s hard to miss the stunning burst of yellow in paddocks full of millions of sunflowers just south of Timaru.

They sunflowers may become a five yearly feature on owner Warren Darling’s 70 hectares of land as he takes advantage of a new market.

Usually he grows rape seed, which also produces a radiant yellow display when in flower, as well as wheat and barley, but is now considering sunflowers as part of his crop rotations. . .

Tickets on Sale for Women in Forestry conference:

Tickets are on sale for the Women in Forestry Conference, being held from 30 April – 2 May 2020 in Whangamata.

The Women in Forestry conference will bring together women in the NZ Forestry industry, to connect, learn and share experiences.

The third event of its kind, the conference is organised by the Women in Forestry Network, a grass-roots movement founded to support women in the industry.

Women in Forestry co-founder and General Manager Sarah Davidson says there is a need for more female support in the industry. . .


Rural round-up

19/01/2020

Avocado trees killed in Far North orchard :

An avocado orchard in the Far North has been vandalised – alongside the words “water thieves” – in an apparent protest against water usage in the parched region.

Windbreaks have been slashed and graffitied, water pipes have been cut and about 20 trees have been killed over the Christmas period at Mapua Orchard, near Houhora.

Orchard manager Ian Broadhurst said it wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it was definitely the worst.

He said Mapua was part of a wider group of 17 orchards in the region that had applied to the Northland Regional Council for consents to draw water from the Aupōuri aquifer. . . 

Federated Farmers: Mycoplasma Boris tax hit unfair:

Federated Farmers is seeking Ministerial support for a change to tax legislation so farmers whose breeding stock are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort are not disadvantaged by the tax regime.

“Currently farmers whose dairy or beef breeding cows are valued on their books under the National Standard Cost scheme and whose cattle are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis response will most likely end up with a hefty tax bill. This is not a fair outcome for affected farmers and we believe it’s an unintended consequence of the tax legislation,” Federated Farmers economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . .

All work and no play for southern food producers – Jacqui Dean:

For most of us, the first days of the New Year are spent resting, reflecting and rueing the excesses of the Christmas period.

The ham on the bone is being whittled away, the recycling bin is housing a few too many empty bottles and we’re all hoping that someone else will take the initiative and tidy away the Christmas decorations for another year.

But for a great many people, the early weeks of January are all about work.

With Central Otago accounting for nearly 60 per cent of planted summer fruit orchards in New Zealand, it’s fair to say that all eyes are on this neck of the woods as the country hankers after its fresh produce. . . 

Native trees supply looks tight – Richard Rennie:

The nation’s Billion Trees target by 2028 might be missed by a quarter because of a lack of capacity and resources to meet it.

The goal includes having 200 million native trees planted by 2028. 

However, a survey commissioned by the Forests Ministry survey indicates only 160m native seedlings can be supplied by then. 

That is based on a sustainable growth rate of 7.5% a year for a sector that has had 12-15% growth for the past three years but that has been described unsustainable over any length of time. . . 

‘Unusable’ plastic sitting at Smart Environmental has future in fence posts

Change is on the way for the classic Kiwi fencepost, with a new venture making them out of recycled plastic.

Future Post has joined forces with Smart Environmental’s Kopu site, collecting bales of recycling which will then be turned into fence posts.

The Smart Environmental plant services Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako and Waipā, and Future Post is expecting to save around 15 tonnes of plastic a month.

“It means there’s a reasonable percentage of plastic now being reused; however, there’s still a hell of a lot that is unusable and still has no market,” Smart Environmental’s Waikato and BOP regional manager Layne Sefton said. . . 

Food made from ‘bacterial dust’ is ‘ludicrous’, beef group says :

British beef producers have called a proposal to feed the population with synthetic lab food made from bacteria as ‘ludicrous’.

George Monbiot claimed in the recent documentary ‘Apocalypse Cow’ that conventional farming will end in 50 years time.

Instead of food produced from farms, the human diet will eventually rely on synthetic food made in laboratories, the environmental activist claimed in the show.

Monbiot visited a team of researchers in Finland who unveiled their process for food production – made out of bacteria and water. . .


Rural round-up

12/01/2020

Dairy farm sales dry up as tighter bank lending, foreign investment take hold – Catherine Harris:

Commentators say dairy farm values are falling, as bank lending tightens and foreign investment becomes harder to get.

According to the Real Estate Institute (REINZ), sales of dairy farms nationally tumbled 55 per cent in the three months to November on the same period in 2018, and 83 per cent on 2017.

Dairy farm prices slid 22 per cent, from $50,964 per hectare to $39,678 per hectare.

Lincoln University farm management professor and commentator Keith Woodford told RNZ that while other types of farms such as grazing or horticulture were holding their own, dairying had suffered, despite improving milk prices. . . 

Border collie saves flock of sheep from wall of fire in Australia: –  Joe Roberts:

A hero border collie has saved a flock of sheep as a wall of fire destroyed farmland in Australia.

Patsy the six-year-old working dog rounded the sheep up with a farmer as the flames bore down on them in the rural town of Corryong in Victoria.

She brought them to the safest paddock on the farm as her owner fought the fire in a tractor with a tank of water.

Thanks to Patsy and her owner, almost all of the sheep were saved, along with the hay bales, silage, shearing shed, and farm houses. . .

‘Mycoplasma bovis’ challenges faced – Laura Smith:

‘‘One of the greatest biosecurity challenges we’ve ever faced’’ — Mycoplasma bovis continues to affect farmers but the Ministry for Primary Industries is confident eradication of the disease can be achieved.

Southland farm owners Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft had 1700 cattle culled in 2018 after Mycoplasma bovis was discovered on their farm.

Since then they were declared disease-free, but are now awaiting results after tests on cows at one of their three cattle farms.

The bovine disease Mycoplasma bovis can cause mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. More than 130,700 cattle have been culled nationwide because of it. . . 

Fonterra rationalises in Chile – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra is buying the minority interests in its Chilean processing partner, Prolesur, to streamline its businesses and give it more options for the future.

Among the options could be an exit from the dairy industry in Chile after several decades of New Zealand involvement, firstly by the Dairy Board in 1986.

Fonterra has agreed to buy 13.6% of Prolesur for NZ$29.3 million from Fundacion Isabel Aninat, a church-owned charity. . . 

Remote island farm on market – Richard Rennie:

A long-held family property on Great Barrier Island offers the chance to own the last piece of land before Chile.

It includes private beaches and an historic grave site for shipwreck victims.

The Mabey family has farmed the 195ha property at the island’s northern end for almost a century and has decided to put the farm on the market as a bare block. 

The land is farmed by Scott Mabey who said he anticipates a buyer will be most interested in building a dream home on one of the farm’s many elevated positions. . . 

The beef farmer eats a plant patty – Uptown Farms:

Well… we did it. We were in a hip little craft beer joint in Nashville, saw the Impossible burger on the menu, and ordered one.

Of course they wanted to send it out with a fresh baked bun, cheese and all the sauces.

But we passed on all of that so we could really get an idea what all the fuss was about. Here’s what we decided:

🌱 It is better with ranch. Matt jokes, “What vegetable isn’t?” (His jokes are getting worse the older he gets.) . . 


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