Rural round-up

02/06/2022

Rethink on GM policy needed – Richard Rennie:

John Caradus, scientist and chief executive of AgResearch’s commercial entity Grasslanz Technology, is pushing industry leaders, politicians and farmers to reconsider genetic modification (GM) as the primary sector grapples with the challenges of climate change, nutrient losses and disease. He spoke to Richard Rennie about his recent work reviewing GM globally.

There is a level of hypocrisy within New Zealand’s stance on genetically modified (GM) foods that does not sit well with John Caradus. 

He points out NZ consumers can shop for over 90 different GM foods produced from 10 plant species here, but NZ farmers are unable to grow any of them.

“We have a regulatory system that makes it extremely difficult for any entity considering doing so,” he says. . . 

Up to 6 week delay in cattle processing as meat works face backlog – Sally Murphy:

Processing capacity at meat works around the country is returning to normal but a backlog remains.

There had been a backlog for months due to staffing shortages as workers isolated with Covid-19.

That made it harder for farmers to offload stock, which caused huge stress, especially in areas where feed levels were tight.

An update provided to farmers by Beef and Lamb and the Meat Industry Association showed staff levels were now returning to normal and capacity from plant to plant was ranging from 80-100 percent. . . 

Keep driving innovation, meat sector leader says – Sally Rae:

Last week, Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva visited North Otago, the birthplace of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae  about the state of the red meat sector.

It is time to celebrate.

That is the message from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva to all levels of the red meat sector, from the farming community through to processors and other industry organisations.

Ms Karapeeva was in Oamaru last week for a function to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom in 1882, and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board. . . 

Red meat exports achieve record April but markets prove volatile :

New Zealand red meat exports hit a record in April however ongoing volatility in China indicates head winds in the coming months, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported products worth $999.6 million during the month of April, up 16 per cent on April 2021 with the value of overall exports increasing to most major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said that while red meat exports continued to achieve good returns, there was some fluctuation in demand, particularly in China and the US.

“The value of overall exports to China was down six per cent year on year. There was also a small drop in the volume of both sheepmeat and beef exported. The reduction in sheepmeat was largely due to China, with beef exports to the US also dipping. . . 

Reaping rewards of maize crop – Shawn McAvinue:

In a bid to protect against the impact of dry conditions, a trial maize crop on a West Otago dairy farm will return next season and be more than twice the size.

Matt Haugh and his partner Kirsten McIntyre own Cottesbrook Dairy, milking 1450 cows across two platforms on about 470ha near Heriot.

Mr Haugh said pasture growth had been good for most of the summer but dry conditions started to bite in late summer and early autumn.

The dry conditions were an “absolute killer”, because the farm traditionally relied on rain at that time of year. . . 

NZ farmer wins world wood-chopping title – Carmelita Mentor-Fredericks:

How much wood could a Kiwi cut if a Kiwi could cut wood?

A lot – if Taumarunui sheep and beef farmer Jack Jordan and Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry’s performances at the Timbersports World Trophy event on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, is anything to go by.

However, it was Jordan who came out tops after taking on national champs, many of whom are lumberjacks from around the world, for the coveted title.

The competition, which is organised by Stihl France, sees 16 competitors take metal to wood as they face off using a variety of chopping tools to out chop each other – whoever chops the most wood in the least amount of time wins. . .


Rural round-up

18/05/2022

Dairy event will be all about change – Sally Rae:

Dynamic.

That is the theme of the South Island’s largest dairy event, SIDE 2022, which is being held in Oamaru on June 8-9.

It was the first time the event had been held in the town and it was expected to attract more than 350 farmers, rural professionals and sponsors.

Event committee member Rebecca Finlay, who came up with the theme, said dairy farmers needed to be dynamic — they could not be stuck in their ways.

There was constant change as they dealt with the likes of new compliance and regulations and they had to be agile and responsive to that change. . .

Exile on Main Street – Neal Wallace:

This week, Farmers Weekly journalists Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace investigate how two different districts, Opotiki and Gore, are trying to encourage new workers and address an ageing workforce while facing a static or falling population.

New Zealand’s rural-led economic recovery is being hamstrung by a shortage of working-age staff, an inability to retain people and intergenerational social issues.

Some rural districts already struggling for staff face even greater labour challenges in the coming years if demographic predictions proved accurate.

Work by retired University of Waikato demography professor Dr Natalie Jackson, is forecasting that in the next decade 75% of the country’s regional authorities will experience a decline in their working age population as young people either leave for bigger urban centres or are not being born. . . .

The ag-sector’s Budget 2022 wish list is for science – Business Desk:

If increasing productivity is the name of the government’s game, then the agriculture sector’s wish list for budget 2022 is all about science. 

The farming sector helped bankroll the economy through covid-19, generating 30% of the country’s export income at a time when sectors like tourism were at a standstill.

Rather than being rewarded, however, the sector is under immense pressure from rising costs, scarce labour and, increasingly, regulation and compliance.  

You’d be hard-pressed to find a farmer who doesn’t want to increase productivity and farm for better environmental outcomes but – across the board – they want more research and development to help them get there. . .

A sick joke – Rural News:

When the Covid pandemic broke out over two years ago, Jacinda Ardern waxed lyrical about the importance of the rural-based primary sector and how it would pull the NZ economy through the tough times ahead.

It has delivered on that with interest.

The sector has come together like never before, from workers on farms, in orchards and processing plants – not to mention the marketers and managers who have got our product to market on time and at good prices.

However, it’s come at a price: people in rural NZ are fatigued and are having to cope with the additional burden of a bundle of stressful compliance. . . 

All hands on deck – Peter Burke:

Growers are mucking in and helping staff to pick this year’s kiwifruit crop. At this point, the Ruby Red variety has all been picked and about a third of the gold crop has also been harvested, with workers now starting to pick the green crop.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) chief executive Colin Bond told Hort News that everyone in the industry is working together to ensure the crop gets picked this season.

He says many growers themselves have been out in the orchards with the picking crew and also helping out in pack houses.

Bond says there have been instances of staff who normally just pick the fruit, doing shifts in the pack houses on wet days when it’s not possible to pick fruit. . . .

2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award winner taking all opportunities:

For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

The 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year is driven, inspirational and a great example of a farmer who is taking every opportunity the New Zealand dairy industry offers.

Will Green was named the 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, the region’s Jaspal Singh became the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000.

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on Saturday, in front of more than 540 people, making it the largest dinner to be held at the new venue since opening. . . 

Fonterra responsible dairying award winner lead change through innovation :

Craigmore Farming Services, Canterbury/North Otago were named the 2022 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners during the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on Saturday night and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

 The prestigious award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Fonterra to recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are respected by their fellow farmers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

“It was a privilege to engage with all three finalists and the quality of the presentations was exceptional,” says head judge Conall Buchanan.

Fellow judge Charlotte Rutherford from Fonterra, agrees. “The future of the industry feels in such good hands when you are able to spend time with people like our finalists.” . . 


Rural round-up

17/05/2022

Farmers overwhelmed by new regs – Peter Burke:

Farmers are getting overwhelmed by all the new regulations and compliance requirements they are facing now and in the future.

Leading farm consultant Phil Journeaux, of AgFirst, told Rural News that farming is a complicated enough business as it is. But he says the compliance cost on farm – in terms of time and paperwork – is growing rapidly and with the advent of all the water, animal welfare and labour regulations, the pressure is on farmers.

“I have been doing a lot of work in the last few years around greenhouse gas emissions, which is very complicated and this has yet to really hit farmers,” Journeaux explains.

“I don’t think they (farmers) understand how much paperwork and compliance they will be required to do. This whole compliance thing is becoming a really big component of farming and that’s why a lot of farmers are reaching for advisors to help them work it through.” . . 

New regulations compel consents for 2023 crops – Richard Rennie:

As many farmers grapple with a looming feed crisis this winter, planning for next winter may also demand attention sooner rather than later with changes in the winter grazing regulations effective from November 1.

The revised intensive winter grazing (IWG) regulations finalised last month may require some farmers to apply for resource consent to winter graze crops on their farm and timelines are getting tight to ensure consent is granted before crops are sown.

AgFirst director of farm consulting James Allen says time can run surprisingly short for a feed supply that is not needed for another 12 months, once resource consent application processes are factored in.

“Basically, a resource consent is required if you are looking at a new wintering programme, there are a series of conditions you have to meet and it’s likely it will take time to ensure you meet them.” . . 

‘Red wave’ sweeps national dairy awards – Sudesh Kissun:

A red wave swept through the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards last night.

And the 2022 Share Farmer of the Year Will Green rightly pointed out in his acceptance speech that red wave wasn’t about the Labour Party but Canterbury. For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/North Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

Joining Green on the podium last night, Jaspal Singh, the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000. . . 

All hands to the vine for harvest – Ashley Smyth :

A warm, dry autumn has been the saving grace for winegrowers in the Waitaki this season.

Harvest was in full swing in the Waitaki Valley this week, and it had been an ‘‘atypical’’ season for the region, new Waitaki Valley Winegrowers Association chairman Dave Sutton said.

‘‘It’s been more of a La Nina rain pattern this year, which has meant a lot of easterly rainfall, so a lot of the winegrowing regions on the East Coast — for example Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Waiheke Island — they’ve seen a lot more rainfall.

‘‘Things were looking a little bit grim, but we’ve had a beautiful ripening period, late, and it’s actually saved the vintage, I think. . . 

Calmer farming through pressure and change :

A new online programme – Know your Mindset. Do what Matters – is boosting the ability of rural communities to handle pressure and change. Dairy farmer Matt Goodwin discusses how it’s helped him.

Matt Goodwin has plenty on his plate. 

He oversees not just one farm, but two – the family’s South Canterbury dairy operation comprises a 600-cow farm and a 300-cow farm. 

It’s a big job, but Matt loves dairying.  . . 

Glass ceiling obliterated by Taupō dairy farm managers – Rachel Canning:

Three Taupō women are proving their doubters wrong as they prepare for their first season as managers of dairy farms.

The trio will each manage Pāmu Farms dairy farms located just out of Taupō.

When they started out, two had never set foot on a dairy farm and one grew up on a sheep and beef farm. One had family members who doubted she would cope with the mud, the stink, and hours outside in the cold.

Resolution Dairy Unit manager Mona Cable, Quarry Dairy Unit manager Liza Arnold and Burgess Dairy Unit manager Carol Cuttance have worked their way up from the bottom, spent time “riding the train” while their children were young, taken up study opportunities to learn about milking and effluent management systems, and all three say they still experience moments of self-doubt. . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/03/2022

RUC reduction brings no relief for farm machinery users – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to cut road user charges (RUC) by 36% for three months is cold comfort for contractors and farmers using off-road vehicles that will not qualify for the exemption, Federated Farmers says.

The cut, which will take place from late April to late July, is in response to the spike in global fuel prices. Transport Minister Michael Wood said the change was to support the road transport industry.

For the arable industry, the reduction in charges is too late for this season, with much of the harvest already completed apart from harvesting maize grain, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

On Williams’ own farm, fuel costs for the three months during peak harvest had almost doubled from $4000-$7000 a month in 2020 to $8000-$9500 a month this year. . . 

Omicron: ‘major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking peaks  – Tom Kitchin:

Some orchardists say Covid-19 is running rampant through their harvest fields.

It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association chair Brydon Nisbett also runs his own 16-hectare two-orchard apple operation. . . 

Bacteria corralled for quality food outcomes – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann admits he has a dream to see a charcuterie of uniquely New Zealand meats and salamis, along with fermented dairy and plant products on the market someday soon. Richard Rennie spoke to him on how his and his team’s work on fermented foods will make that a reality.

Over the past four and a half years AgResearch’s Fermented Foods research team has managed to slice through tens of thousands of evolved bacterial strains to find those with traits most suited to enhancing the flavour and texture of meat, dairy, and plant fermented food types.

The tool that has enabled them to accelerate the natural process of genetic change, which would otherwise have been an almost impossibly time-consuming and frustrating process, has been a high-throughput robotics handling and assaying (screening) platform, developed by AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann and his team. 

“The platform’s technology allows us to take bacteria, subject them to rapid genetic evolution using sources such as UV light and then identify those evolved variants which exhibit a positive change towards the desired traits,” Altermann said.  . . 

Awakiki Ridges owners clearing out for retirement – Shawn McAvinue:

A couple of teenage sweethearts are looking forward to retirement on their sheep and beef farm in South Otago.

Howie and Marion Gardner (both 66) will hold a clearing sale on their farm Awakiki Ridges in Puerua Valley tomorrow.

Awakiki Ridges has come a long way since his parents, Clyde (now 93) and his late mother, Beth, bought the land and started developing it in the mid-1960s.

The property was once considered “the worst bit of dirt in South Otago,” Mr Gardner said. . . 

Sharing enthusiasm for red meat sector – Shawn McAvinue:

Maniototo man Dean Sinnamon’s new job allows him to pursue his passion for the red meat sector.

Mr Sinnamon, of Oturehua, started in a new role at Beef + Lamb New Zealand in January this year.

His job title is Central South Island South extension manager.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” . . 

China tariffs causes Victorian harvest to tank Annabelle Cleeland:

The 2.1-billion litres of unsold Australian wine sitting in storage is wreaking havoc on Victoria’s grape harvest this season, as a storage shortage forces growers to leave grapes on vines.

Last year the nation’s wine exports plummeted $860 million, or 30 per cent, due to China’s crippling tariffs on bottled Australian wine.

China’s anti-dumping duty introduced the last march of up to 218pc for containers of two litres or less, and is set to remain in place for five years.

It has been a blow for the industry with Australia’s wine exports the lowest in nearly two decades, as the volume of wine sent overseas dropped 17pc to 619-million litres in 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

23/02/2022

Baa humbug! Demand for sheep milk is “booming” but taxpayers are being milked to help a Maori collective invest in the industry – Point of Order:

As Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor has dipped into one of the troughs in his bailiwick to nurture a Maori sheep-milk enterprise.  As Minister of Rural Affairs, he has declared a medium-scale adverse event in cyclone-battered bits of the North Island.

This declaration (he announced) enabled the government to dip into other troughs to provide support for farmers and growers hit by the storms.

For starters, a modest – almost trifling – sum of $200,000 was made available for local Rural Support Trusts and Mayoral Relief Funds to use to help recovery efforts in Taranaki, Wairarapa, and the Waitomo district.

Damien O’Connor popped up again to announce state support for Māori landowners to invest in New Zealand’s rapidly growing sheep milk industry. . . 

Council-farmer bond important – Jessica Marshall:

The relationship between council and farmers is important, says outgoing Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips.

“I’ve always had a clear view that… we’ve got some regulatory responsibilities but actually we are focused on improving outcomes, we can’t do that without a good relationship with farmers,” Phillips told Dairy News after announcing that he will retire from the role in May.

That relationship hasn’t been without its tensions with some farmers, he says, but overall it’s been a positive one.

“I think if you look at some of the things we’ve done, we’ve changed our compliance activities, putting some emphasis on shed talks and those types of things.” . . .

‘We desperately need a bigger harvest in 2022’ – NZ Winegrowers :

The first grapes of the 2022 vintage have been picked and winegrowers are hoping for good yields as they try to replenish their cellars.

Last year’s harvest was 20 percent smaller than the previous year, forcing wineries to draw down on stocks to maintain their place in overseas markets.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said its members were feeling nervous heading into this crucial time of the year.

“This stock drawdown highlights that we desperately need a bigger harvest in 2022, to replenish cellars, and help satisfy international demand,” he said. . . 

Stonefruit picked for food banks – Tracie Barrett :

The saying goes that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade, but for orchardist Lars Molving, the fruit in question would be apricots.

Mr Molving’s main fruit crop is cherries, but he also has 100 to 120 Nevis apricot trees, which in the past have been picked by staff from Jackson Orchards and sold at their roadside stall.

Bumper crops this year meant the apricots were not needed by Jackson’s, so Mr Molving’s wife, Felicity Pugh, looked at who might be able to take them for foodbanks.

The couple contacted the Salvation Army in Alexandra, the Cromwell Foodbank and KiwiHarvest, a logistics and distribution agency that collects food that might otherwise go to waste and delivers it to foodbanks and service agencies. . . .

Blackcurrant molecule packs brain-boosting punch – Richard Rennie:

New Zealand blackcurrants are proving to hold a secret ingredient that helps maintain healthy brains and deliver significantly increased values to the country’s small group of growers. Richard Rennie spoke to Canterbury agronomist Jim Grierson about the brain boost delivered by blackberries.

Almost 30 years ago, Auckland University health researcher Dr Jian Guan identified the molecule cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP) as a key brain nutrient that normalises a hormone known as IGF-1, essential for body health.

She found its presence contributed to improved health outcomes for people suffering from a number of age-related neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia. Keeping IGF-1 levels maintained through old age can help retain cognitive function.

Unknown to her, but about the same time blackcurrant growers were researching the key health compounds in their crop. . .

NZ seed exports holding up 22 February 2022 :

Despite ongoing COVID pandemic complications and shipping challenges, New Zealand’s seed exports are holding up well.

Over 55,000 tonnes or the equivalent of around 2750 shipping containers of high quality specialty seed was sent to over 70 international markets, worth more than $236m (FoB) in calendar year 2021, according to latest StatsNZ’s Overseas Trade Statistics.

Export revenue for the year ended December 2021 was 5% lower than a year earlier.

Around half of NZ seed exports by value go to the Netherlands (22%), Australia (11%), Germany (10%), and USA (8%). . . 


Rural round-up

21/02/2022

No cheap entry to split gas options – Richard Rennie:

The cost to run the alternative greenhouse gas (GHG) system for the primary sector now under discussion could cost the sector as much as $90 million a year.

The He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) split-gas emissions proposal roadshow is now well under way across New Zealand, with farmers having a chance to get under the hood of the two schemes presented, both likely to hit farm profits by between 4-6%.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the estimate of up to a $90m a year cost was “quite possible”, but was also one that had been fully imputed into estimates of what the respective farm based or industry-based schemes are likely to have on farm profits.

“There is no doubt, when you scale up the costs at a farm level to an industry level it does come to quite a big number,” Mackle said. . . 

Carbon report calls for a more strategic approach – Colin Williscroft:

Short-term land-use decisions risk the long-term future of New Zealand’s rural landscapes and communities, according to a green paper by former Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, however, some industry players are questioning parts of the paper’s content.

Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.

It was released ahead of a workshop early next month involving stakeholders, including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and Local Government NZ.

Yule said the paper outlines the risk that short-term decisions will make to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . . 

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest begins :

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first crop being picked this morning in Te Puke and more kiwifruit to be picked around New Zealand over the coming months.

The 2022 season has the potential to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before. A forecast of at least 190 million trays will need to be harvested, overtaking last year’s record of over 177 million trays. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

Zespri’s new RubyRed variety is picked first which is then followed by the Gold and Green varieties. The harvest traditionally peaks in mid-April and runs through until June.

The sweet, berry-tinged tasting Red kiwifruit will also be picked for supermarket shelves in New Zealand and some overseas markets this year. 2022 marks the first year that RubyRed will be sold as a commercial variety. . . 

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka reports record revenue :

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka has reported a record revenue for the year driven by a rebound in kiwifruit volumes and a lift in production.

Key numbers (for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 vs year ago)

  • Net profit $14.9m vs $15.2m
  • Revenue $309.6m vs $251.5m
  • Operating earnings $56.8m $42.9m
  • Dividend 13 cents per share vs 12cps

The company’s net profit is down 2 percent as 2020’s result included a $5.6 million deferred tax benefit. . . 

Precision Growing technology takes top honours at New Zealand International Business Awards 2021:

A Bay of Plenty business dedicated to “the art of growing for a healthier world” is the supreme winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2021, announced tonight [17 February] at the Awards’ first-ever broadcast ceremony. 

The Supreme Award winner, Bluelab, provides high-precision measurement technology for controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouses, vertical farms and hydroponic production. Operating for more than 30 years, Bluelab is internationally recognised as an industry leader, and provides tools and systems to measure critical factors like pH, temperature and moisture levels when growing plants in controlled environments. 

Bluelab’s products are designed, manufactured and exported globally from its base of operations in Tauranga. Bluelab previously won the Excellence in Innovation category at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.   . . 

Producer prices increase in the December 2021 quarter :

Producer input and output prices increased in the December 2021 quarter, led by rising prices in dairy and construction industries, Stats NZ said today.

In the December 2021 quarter compared with the September 2021 quarter, prices received by producers of goods and services (outputs) increased 1.4 percent. Prices paid by producers of goods and services (inputs) increased 1.1 percent over the same period.

“Producer prices are increasing, but slower than in the middle of 2021,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said.

“Most industries had increases in input and output prices, with dairy and construction industries having the largest contribution to increases in overall producer prices.” . . 


Rural round-up

09/02/2022

Staffing shortages cause processing delays – Neal Wallace:

Farmers already facing up to six weeks delay getting stock killed are being warned to prepare for a longer than usual season as the meat industry continues to struggle with staffing shortages.

Silver Fern Farms has warned suppliers that for the season to date the ovine kill is 8% behind the same stage last year and bovine by 3%.

“Early indications show that for most stock classes it will not be until July before we will catch up with current backlogs,” chief executive Simon Limmer told suppliers in the newsletter.

Just how late will depend on any impact of Omicron. . . 

Robots offer a tireless staffing option – Richard Rennie:

The prospect of autonomous robotic tractors has long been a lure for growers and farmers, often pushed beyond the bounds of reality by cost and existing technology. But a Blenheim company has been quietly building a fleet of automated machines that are proving their worth with one of the region’s largest winegrowers. Richard Rennie reports.

For any innovative agritech company, New Zealand’s small market size demands founders have an eye out from the start on their tech’s applicability in larger global markets. For the founders of the Oxin automated viticulture tractor, Marlborough has proven an appealing place to start, prior to making that international leap.

“We have been fortunate to have an excellent industry partner right from the start in Pernod, one of the largest grape growers in the region, but also one that has very strong international connections,” Smart Machine director Andrew Kersley said.

Blenheim’s unique concentration of 35,000ha of vineyards, grown primarily by only a few large industry players, makes the company’s ability to showcase the technology, and get it dispersed, a simpler task.  . . 

Stud owners ready for a new chapter – Sally Rae:

For more than a century, the Punchbowl name has been synonymous with stud sheep breeding in North Otago.

But a new chapter is looming for its current owners, Doug and Jeannie Brown, who are holding ewe dispersal sales in Oamaru this month.

It was Mr Brown’s grandfather Henry (HJ) Andrew — a legendary figure in the stud sheep industry — who came to Punchbowl, near Maheno, in 1915 after graduating from Lincoln College.

Originally from the Leeston area, he shifted south with his parents and began breeding Southdowns. Over time, his Southdown stud became very prominent at a time when Southdowns were the main terminal sire breed in New Zealand. He exported sheep to many parts of the world and also imported sires. . . 

Seeds of traceability in digital move – Tim Cronshaw:

Arable growers will enter the digital world for their seed certification this month.

All the paperwork will be replaced by online entries in a $2million industry and government investment, which industry chiefs have called a watershed moment.

About $400million of certified seed crops — including brassicas, herbage grasses and legumes — will be checked throughout their growing cycle for quality control and consistency by about 800 growers, seed merchants and Assure Quality inspectors.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association manager Thomas Chin said the app-based system would provide traceability so quality assurances could be given to overseas markets that export seed shipments leaving the country were ‘‘true-to-label’’. . . 

Potato milk hits UK supermarket shelves :

Described as “deliciously creamy” and the “perfect foam” for your cuppa, potato milk is the latest contender to the plant milk market.

Milk developer at Lund University professor Eva Tornberg said she was working with a potato starch company in Sweden when she came up with the idea.

The amino acid composition of potato protein is much like milk and egg, she said.

“I thought perhaps it would be good to use potato protein to make a milk.” . . 

Farmer who flipped car cleared of criminal damage because ‘Englishman’s home is his castle’ – Martin Evans:

A farmer who wrecked a car parked on his land with a tractor has been cleared of criminal damage after he successfully used the 400-year-old legal principle that “an Englishman’s home is his castle”.

Robert Hooper, 57, became an internet sensation in June last year, when a video of him using the spikes on his telehandler to flip a £16,000 Vauxhall Corsa went viral on social media.

The hill farmer from Upper Teesdale said he had been forced to take action after he came under attack from a “strutting and agitated” shirtless youth, who had refused to move the car from his land.

Mr Hooper said he did not call police because he had been burgled eight times and found they were often slow to respond. . . 


Rural round-up

19/01/2022

Vaccination critical – MPI boss – Peter Burke:

Vaccination against Covid-19 is absolutely critical to the success of the whole primary sector.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director-general Ray Smith told Rural News that he’s encouraging every business in the primary sector to get their people vaccinated and have strong supporting policies around this.

“It underpins our mobility as individuals and for firms to prosper without having sickness,” he says. “My own organisation with 4,000 staff has a 97% vaccination rate and now, unless you have been vaccinated, you can’t come into work here.”

Smith admits one of the big challenges for MPI in 2022 will be bedding in the environmental changes, which he claims are needed to improve NZ’s sustainability and farming practices. He says the country is starting in a good place but it has more to do. . . 

Strong carbon prices blow into new year – Richard Rennie:

A new year surge in the New Zealand carbon values has caught the market by surprise, with traders anticipating values may well impact upon the first carbon auction of the year due to be held in mid-March.

Values for mid-January are now trading at $72.10 a unit, with a bullish sentiment on the market also reflected in future spot prices. The contracted market has April 2023 values trading at $75.20, and April 2026 at $83.40 a unit.

Lizzie Chambers, director of carbon trading company Carbon Match, said trading is now characterised by a myriad of buyers and sellers across the breadth of the market, including investors, farmers and emitters requiring credits to operate.

“Over the new year the market really gapped it from $69.50 to $71.50 a unit very quickly. It appears almost as if there was a decision made by many buyers first off at the start of the year to get in and tick the box on buying,” Chambers said. . . 

Launch of new social enterprise set to boost sustainably sourced wool sales :

The launch of a new tech start-up and social enterprise is set to provide a significant boost for New Zealand’s sustainably sourced wool sales.

Comfi provides a sleep solution for a child in need, including a single bed and base, and a pillow for every five beds sold.

The company is the brainchild of Vicki Eriksen and Susie Harris who developed the concept after struggling to find suitable beds online during the first Covid lockdown.

Other shareholders in the start-up include Neat Meat chief executive Simon Eriksen, Jucy co-founder Tim Alpe, and director/investor Andrew Harris. . . 

Hopes new tech will attract top cherry pickers :

Central Otago cherry producer Tarras Cherry Corp has implemented New Zealand-developed orchard management technology this season to attract and reward productive workers.

Orchard and project manager Ross Kirk said the company was the first New Zealand cherry business to implement radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology developed by Auckland software firm Dataphyll.

“At a time when pickers are in short supply, investing in smart technologies is a way to attract and retain quality workers.

“We want to lead the charge as an innovative and progressive operation throughout the supply chain,” he said. . . 

Food and Fibre Careers Day doubles in size as universities come on board:

The Westpac Agri Futures Careers Expo is returning to Palmerston North in March with an expanded line-up of attendees that will offer more exciting pathways into rural employment for young New Zealanders.

Hosted in association with Property Brokers and the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Expo provides youth and those interested in a food and fibre career with the chance to explore possible careers and job opportunities throughout the food and fibre industry.

The event is for secondary and area school students from Paraparaumu through to Napier and across to New Plymouth. It’s run as part of the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games in Te Marae o Hine/The Square in Palmerston North, from March 11-13, 2022.

New Zealand Rural Games Trust Chair Margaret Kouvelis MNZM said the event has grown significantly, attracting attention from tertiary providers from across the country as well as more local businesses. . . 

Young Winemaker national final heads to Central Otago for first time :

The 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year National Final is finally set to go ahead on Thursday 3 February 2022, following postponement last year. For the very first time the National Final will be held in Central Otago with the competition taking place at Amisfield Winery in the Pisa Ranges near Cromwell.

The Awards Dinner will be held the same evening at the stunning venue – The Canyon at Tarras Vineyard in Bendigo. The 2021 national champion will be announced that evening.

This programme supports emerging Young Winemakers helping them upskill, widen their network and giving them a platform to share their ideas for the future.

Having already won their regional competitions, the finalists will be stretched even further and will be tested on all aspects of wine production including laboratory skills, wine market knowledge and wine tasting and judging. . . 


Rural round-up

09/10/2021

Gas profiles on target – Richard Rennie:

The pastoral sector is doubling down on its efforts to measure and price its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission as an alternative to becoming captured under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

He Waka Eke Noa, the primary sector’s climate action partnership is working to implement a pricing and allocation scheme specifically for the primary sector’s emissions that keep it separate from the ETS.

One requirement the Government placed upon the industry was that 25% of all farms must know their annual on-farm GHG emissions by the end of this year, and 100% by the end of 2022.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says the dairy sector has calculated the GHG profiles of 91% of the country’s dairy farms, largely in part to the efforts of Fonterra in recording farmer suppliers’ emissions. . . 

Cruel April Fool’s joke! – Mark Daniel:

In an ironic twist, the Government has pushed back the date of its so-called ‘ute tax’ or feebate scheme to April 1 next year – April Fools’ Day!

The delay – from the original January 1 date – was announced by Minister of Transport Michael Wood. “The rollout has been delayed because of the disruption caused by the current Delta outbreak,” he claims.

This is despite the unworkability of the scheme that has been identified by the motor industry and users like farmers and tradies.

Many in the vehicle sector also point out that Delta is actually the reason for increased production costs, monumental rises in shipping costs and long delays in product landing in New Zealand. . . 

Event winners world class

It was a fierce battle on the board between the wool industry’s elite shearers and woolhandlers in Alexandra at the weekend.

The 60th New Zealand Merino Shears were held at a near-empty Molyneux Stadium in compliance with Covid-19 Level 2 guidelines.

More than 70 woolhandlers and 65 shearers took part, and in the end it was two former world champions walking away with the major titles.

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford claimed the NZ Merino Open shearing title for the fifth time, beating runner-up Ringakaha Paewai. . . 

Cold August weather sees NZ milk production fall :

Cool, wet weather is being blamed on a 4.2% fall in milksolids production during August, Fonterra’s latest Global Dairy Update says.

Following a good start to the season, pasture conditions were impacted as a result of colder and wetter weather in August compared to a milder August last year. New Zealand milk production for the 12 months to August was 2.4% lower than last year.

The co-operative’s milk collection for August was 96.7 million kg MS, 4% lower than the same month last season and its season-to-date collection was 130.9m kg MS, 2.8% behind last season.

The colder month affected collections across both North and South Islands. Its North Island milk collection was 71.8m kg MS, 2.3% lower than August last season and its season-to-date collection was 101.7m kg MS, 0.1% ahead of last season. . . 

Much experience packed into 100 years – Sandy Eggleston:

From the farm to Karitane nursing to working in Harrods in London to back on the farm, Eleanor Logan has packed many interesting experiences into a century of living.

The Resthaven Care Home resident celebrates her 100th birthday in Gore today.

Mrs Logan (nee Galt) said she grew up on a farm at Tuturau.

Life on the farm was busy with children helping out before and after school. . .

Agritourism’s ‘no vaccine, no entry’ – Annabelle Cleeland:

Tourism industry providers across regional Victoria are preparing for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations to be a key feature of their industry going forward.

The ‘no vaccine, no entry’ is the position of Donovan and Melissa Jacka of Tolpuddle Goat Cheese and Farm Foods, near Wangaratta, as they prepare to introduce a vaccine passport system when they re-open to tourists in November.

In a post on Facebook and Instagram, the Jackas wrote when they re-opened, visitors to Tolpuddle must be fully vaccinated (if they were eligible and can be vaccinated).

“The idea that a person has the right to choose not to be vaccinated, thereby jeopardising the health of someone who cannot be vaccinated, is deeply offensive,” the post stated. . . 


Rural round-up

05/10/2021

Farmer who contracted Covid-19 urges public to get vaccinated – Maja Burry:

Some farmers impacted by one of last year’s high-profile Covid-19 clusters are encouraging people to get vaccinated, no matter where they live in the country.

As the global pandemic was being declared in March last year, around 400 delegates from around the world were attending the World Hereford conference in Queenstown.

There were 39 people identified in the cluster, including Roxburgh farmer Robyn Pannett. She became very sick and is still feeling the impact of the virus – even today.

“I still have a really distorted sense of taste and smell. At the same time, my immunity is not where it was. And I am a bit more fatigued. So it has had an ongoing effect.” . . 

Hopes of relocation to NZ dashed– Neal Wallace:

Raynardt van der Merwe and his family will board a plane in November and head back to South Africa, their dream of relocating to NZ eroded by the Government’s uncertain immigration policy.

A taxidermist and hunting guide based in Hawea, Central Otago, van der Merwe has been working in partnership with Glen Dene Hunting and Fishing since December 2019.

“I was reasonably confident I had a good opportunity by relocating to NZ and in fact getting a work visa and working towards residency.”

Even though he has an essential skills visa, the lack of certainty about the path to residency, meant they could not plan for a future. . . 

Discovery brings replaceable closer to irreplaceable – Richard Rennie:

Making formula milk more like Mum’s could provide a means to not only improve its nutritional profile, but also prove to be a valuable formula additive in an industry with a global value of US$60 billion a year. Richard Rennie spoke to AgResearch scientists developing a component that makes infant powder almost as good as the real thing.

Working in the area of infant nutrition and formulation, AgResearch scientist Dr Caroline Thum points out much of infant formula production requires processors to take out some of milk’s best components, and then try to add them back in for the final product.

Typically, infant milk processing has bovine fatty acids replaced with non-bovine fatty acids to try and replicate the fat’s ratio, and resemblance to human fatty acids as close as possible. 

That usually involves adding vegetable oils as the fat source. . . 

New tech helping meat industry mitigate skills shortage :

New retail automation technology introduced by one of the country’s largest beef and lamb suppliers is helping to increase efficiency within its growing domestic business.

PrimeXConnect, an automated transaction platform designed for the meat supply chain, was first piloted by ANZCO Foods in the New Zealand market in 2019 as they sought new ways to help manage the unique nature of the domestic business model.

The system is designed to replace the traditional email and phone call based offer-and-order model that has been favoured by generations of Kiwi butchers.

The platform allows ANZCO Foods customers to place orders from the shop floor at any time from their computer, laptop or phone. The automated process then ensures that the confirmed orders are routed to the company’s distribution centres for delivery. . .

Tatua annual results for the year ended 31 July 2021:

The Tatua Board of Directors and Executive met on 30 September 2021 to consider the financial results for the 2020/21 financial year and decide on the final pay-out to our supplying shareholders.

The lingering uncertainty related to Covid-19 and the ongoing global shipping disruption continued to create challenges through the year. However, we acknowledge that many businesses and individuals have faced greater hardships, and that we are fortunate to have been able to continue to operate as we have.

We are pleased to report that the business has had a good year, achieving Group income of $395 million and earnings available for pay-out of $162 million.

Our earnings equate to $10.43 per kilogram of qualifying milksolids, before retentions for reinvestment and taxation. This is an improvement on the previous year earnings of $9.96 per kilogram of milksolids, and is a record for Tatua. . . 

Farm boost with new agricultural visa signed off – Andrew Brown:

Farmers could soon have access to more workers from overseas, following the creation of a new agriculture visa.

The new visa type, which came into effect from Thursday, will allow for the entry and temporary stay in Australia of workers across primary industries.

While the final numbers of how many workers would be able to enter the country on the visa are yet to be confirmed, the first workers are expected to arrive from late 2021.

Entry to the country will be subject to quarantine arrangements and agreements with partner nations. . . 


Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Rural round-up

02/05/2021

Lack of skill costs contractors – Gerald Piddock:

Inexperienced Kiwi farm machinery operators are costing the industry stress, accidents and insurance claims, a new survey of Rural Contractor NZ (RCNZ) members has revealed.

While the industry will continue to train and recruit more New Zealand staff to meet demand, it was fortunate there had been no serious accidents this season, RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton said.

Many rural contractors were only barely able to meet farmer demand this season by working unacceptably long hours in machinery, as well as trying to supervise inexperienced staff.

“We appear to have been extremely lucky that there have not been any serious accidents, but health and safety cannot rely on luck,” Parton said. . . 

Why we should care more about wool – Nadia Lim:

 I find it intriguing that, in a world where we are so keen on being more environmentally friendly and sustainable, the industry for one of the most sustainable, durable and biodegradable materials is in dire straits, and at an all-time low.

I’m talking about wool. Strong wool – produced by the majority of New Zealand sheep breeds – can be used in clothing, carpets, curtains and insulation, not to mention furniture, bedding, weed mat, fertiliser and more. It has a higher micron count than merino wool, so it is thicker and stronger; merino is finer and softer, which is why it’s ideal for clothes worn close to the skin.

We run about 2000 Perendale ewes on our mixed cropping and sheep farm in Central Otago. We reduced the stock numbers significantly when we came here, to give the land a rest but also because there is so little demand for wool these days.

That’s the sad, and ironic, thing. There’s so little demand for wool that we literally have tonnes of it sitting in our shed in bales. It must be an education and awareness thing, because if everyone was actually serious about wanting to be more sustainable, do you think as many of us would be wearing (synthetic, petroleum-based) acrylic jumpers and polar fleece, or that we’d put synthetic insulation and carpets in our homes? . . 

Forage may unlock low gas options – Richard Rennie:

Leafy turnips and winter forage rape crops may yet provide a means for farmers to ensure their livestock emit less methane, without compromising productivity.

AgResearch forage scientist Arjan Jonker acknowledges finding lower methane-emitting feeds is one of agriculture’s “wicked problems”, but says the AgResearch team is well-advanced in understanding what feeds can produce less ruminant methane.

AgResearch forage scientists are working alongside their livestock research colleagues on potential pasture types that may play a key role in helping the sector lower its methane emissions.

With both crops comprising most of the sheep’s diet, the researchers have achieved methane emission reductions of 20-30%. . .

Geoff Ross on New Zealand’s first certified carbon positive farm :

If farmers want to increase profits they need to “look beyond the gate” at the big picture, Geoff Ross says.

Ross and his wife Justine run Lake Hawea Station, the first farm in New Zealand to have its carbon footprint certified.

The Rosses used certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, which found that the 6500-hectare station was actually carbon positive.

This was a “big deal” for Lake Hawea Station, and for its offshore customers, Ross told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

What lessons can we learn from European glyphosate review? – Mark Ross:

The prospect of a ban on glyphosate is placing enormous pressure on European farmers and Kiwis should be taking notice, Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says.

Glyphosate use in Europe has resulted in reassessments, reviews and bans in some countries, causing a backlash by farmers.

The controversial herbicide is touted by New Zealand Professor of Toxicology Ian Shaw as a victim of its own success.

It’s successful because it is the most widely used herbicide in the world, it is versatile, and its use can benefit the environment. . . 

 

Summerfruit industry looking forward to growing strong conference in Hawkes Bay:

Summerfruit NZ has just opened registration for the Growing strong – Success in a changing world conference. The industry event is being held at various venues in Hawke’s Bay, including the War Memorial Centre in Napier, where trade exhibits will be on display and speaker presentations will be made.

The Growing strong theme indicates an industry that has experienced tough times but has come through 2020-21 and is ready to reflect, build resilience and celebrate the end of a season like no other.

‘Unfortunately, last year’s conference had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,’ says Summerfruit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom. ‘Growers and other members of the summerfruit industry are really looking forward to meeting with friends and colleagues they may not have seen for well over a year. . . 


Rural round-up

01/05/2021

Canterbury irrigation scheme will hold farmers to account – Adam Burns:

Replacement consent for the Mayfield Hinds Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme was granted after an independent commissioner released a decision last week.

The 10-year consent is subject to a series of conditions, including a 15 percent reduction in nitrogen losses by 2025 and 25 percent by 2030, auditing of farm environment plans, monitoring ground and surface water quality and remediation and response plans.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) can review the consent if improvements are unable to be achieved.

“This consent is granted on the basis that the significant adverse cumulative effects on the receiving environment will be reduced and there will be measurable environmental improvements within the consent term,” the hearing commissioner’s report states. . . 

Research into sheep farmers’ experiences – Annette Scott:

The call is out for New Zealand sheep farmers to help with a research project on the industry’s bioeconomic transition to sustainability.

Lincoln University Masters student Jemma Penelope is preparing to survey sheep farmers across all regions of NZ about their on-farm experiences and challenges as they strive for sustainability.

Penelope, currently undertaking her second Masters, is leading research projects that develop innovative solutions for the agri-food industry.

Having grown up and studied in Canterbury, Penelope then worked abroad in business management and conservation and environmental markets in several countries, including Australia, America and Canada, before realising a place for her back home. . . 

Sheep lead methane research – Richard Rennie:

A mob of low methane sheep are proving it is possible to produce less methane and grow a healthy, productive animal that farmers will want to put into their flock bloodlines in coming years.

For the past decade New Zealand scientists have largely flown below the radar with the work, but are enjoying world leading success in identifying high and low methane emitting sheep. 

The work means today researchers including AgResearch scientists, with the support of farmers through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium  have two flocks of sheep, one high and one low methane emitting, and have established a genomic profile over three breeding generations. 

These provide sheep breeders with useful and accurate data on what their animal’s “methane value” is, relative to its breeding value. . . 

Directors returned to Silver Fern Farms co-operative board:

Rob Hewett, Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited has been re-elected to the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited’s Board of Directors. Gabrielle Thompson, who was a Board Appointed Director, has also been elected to the Co-operative Board by farmer shareholders.

The Board was delighted with the calibre and number of candidates that put themselves for election. Those that were unsuccessful were William Oliver, Simon Davies, Rob Kempthorne and Charles Douglas-Clifford. We thank them for their ongoing commitment to Silver Fern Farms.

The total weighted vote represents 50.59% of total shares, compared to the 62.68% turnout in the previous election in February 2018. . . 

 

Lawson’s Dry Hills wins at the 2021 Cawthorn- Marlborough Environment Awards:

Lawson’s Dry Hills was awarded winner of the wine industry category at the 2021 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards, announced in Blenheim on Friday night.

In February, Lawson’s Dry Hills became a Toitu carbon zero certified organisation making the company the only New Zealand wine producer to be certified with both ISO14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO14064 (carbon zero).

The Awards judges praised Lawson’s Dry Hills for their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Awards Coordinator and Judge, Bev Doole said, “These internationally recognised certifications reflect the culture at Lawson’s to improve and innovate across a wide range of areas, including recyclable and biodegradable packaging, generating solar power and storing water off the winery roof.” . . 

Central Otago’s oldest remaining stone packhouse on the market for sale:

The oldest standing stone packhouse in Central Otago, forming part of a sprawling lifestyle property, is on the market for sale.

Set in the heart of New Zealand’s original stone-fruit growing region, the 8.4-hectare property at 3196 Fruitlands-Roxburgh Road is offered for sale by Bayleys Cromwell for $1,560,000 plus GST (if any).

“The property, affectionately dubbed ‘Stonehouse Gardens’, offers a wonderful blend of home, income, lifestyle and priceless local history,” says Bayleys Cromwell salesperson Renee Anderson, who is marketing the property for sale with colleague Gary Kirk.

“Roxburgh and the Coal Creek area saw the start of stone-fruit cultivation during the 1860s gold rush, when the Tamblyn family first imported stone fruit trees from Australia,” Mr Kirk says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/04/2021

Winter colony loss rates climb – Richard Rennie:

Beehive losses over winter have continued to show an insidious lift in numbers as the industry seeks out more answers on what is afflicting queen bee populations.

Latest survey data has found winter colony loss rates in New Zealand have lifted 10% on last year to afflict 11% of hives, in a continuing upward trend. The losses have crept upwards over the past few years with 2015 losses reported at 8%.

But Apiculture New Zealand Science and Research Focus Group chair Barry Foster says the rate remains comfortably below that of countries like the United States with a winter loss rate of 22%, and an international average loss rate across participating countries of 17%.

“It is hard to draw a real conclusion as to what the exact cause is, but the hard data is that it is largely due to problems with queen bees, along with varroa mite,” Foster said, . . 

B+LNZ seeks region-based slope maps – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is calling on the Government to replace its low-slope stock exclusion map and stocking regulations with a region by region approach.

The map and associated stock exclusion rules were introduced last August as part of the Essential Freshwater regulations but have been deemed unworkable by farmers and farming groups.

Encouraged by the Government’s recognition that the intensive winter grazing rules needed modifying, B+LNZ is seeking the low-slope map to be replaced, saying it is inaccurate and unworkable, and stocking rules should be set regionally.

“Our position has been clear all along,” chief executive Sam McIvor said. . . 

Live export ban wrecks a growing industry – Mike Hosking:

Damien O’Connor has added another industry this Government has destroyed to its growing list.

Live animal exports are done.

While telling us it wouldn’t hurt our GDP, and despite admitting it’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars – he did concede there had been a bit of a “gold rush” of late.

That’s spin for “the industry is growing”. There is increasing demand for it, and in general I thought gold rushes were good. . .

Dairy farm trials app letting staff choose hours they want to work

A Mid-Canterbury dairy farm that is offering staff flexible work hours is seeing major benefits from the change.

Align Farms is trialling an app which lets staff to book in the hours they want to work.

Chief executive Rhys Roberts said a set number of people are needed for milking, but the app gives much more flexibility than a traditional roster where they are on deck from 4.30am until 5pm but only get paid for 10 hours because of meal breaks.

The new system allowed for a 9 hour paid workday in 9 hours. Freeing up 3 and a half hours. . . 

Business plan hatched to keep 320,000 hens in 139ha forest :

A South Waikato free-range egg company is setting up a new model of business – creating a forest for its hens to live in

The 139 hectare property will produce eggs under the Heyden Farms Free Range brand for egg producer and supplier Better Eggs Limited.

Developing over the next five years it will home 320,000 laying hens with eight laying sheds amongst 90,000 native and exotic trees.

Better Eggs chief executive Gareth van der Heyden said it was a whole new way of poultry farming in New Zealand that would enable the hens to live in a natural environment while producing eggs in a sustainable manner. . . 

In the Know – A New Mental Health Program for Farmers :

In the Know is a mental health literacy program developed at the Ontario Veterinary College (University of Guelph) created specifically to educate the agricultural community. With support from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, several CMHA branches in rural and agricultural communities offer this training.

The four-hour mental health literacy workshop is designed to fit with farmers/producers limited availability owing to rigid daily schedules, distilling critical information and incorporating agricultural community culture. The workshop was developed in collaboration with stakeholder groups, including various agricultural sectors, mental health literacy trainers, government and representatives from social work, psychology, epidemiology, and education.

In the Know is meant for farmers, producers and persons with whom they have regular contact. This may include, but is not limited to, family members, peers and allies in the agricultural industry such as veterinarians, breeders, seed or feed salespeople, financial institutions, accountants or community members who have direct contact with farm owners/operators. . . 

 

 


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. . . 


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