Rural round-up

March 31, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protocols present harvest challenges – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Raw milk rings alarm bells – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

March 26, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Rural businesses band together – Colin Williscroft:

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

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

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

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

Rules driving farmers out – Sudesh Kissun:

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

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

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

Maize volume okay but feed still tight – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals winners announced:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

March 22, 2020

Farming and coronavirus – Primary Land Users Group:

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

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

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

Chinese demand provides cushion – Neal Wallace:

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

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

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

Kiwifruit harvest tougher with worker loss – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

Young breeders from round the world gather – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

Cute sheep the rage at UK weddings – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

Inside Pahiatua looking out:

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

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

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


Rural round-up

March 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus: all shearing competitions cancelled :

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

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

Bay company only Kiwi in Top 50 – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

Electronic forms are more efficient – Annette Scott:

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

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

Use of the forms is voluntarily now. . .

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

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

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

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

 

 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2020

Workshops to build strong work places – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

Kiwis hit home at agritech expo – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drought’s mixed effects on sectors :

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

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

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

Meat changes coming – report – Pam Tipa:

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

February 14, 2020

Kiwis import dodgy diets – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

Building great workplaces aim of Dairy Women’s workshops:

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

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

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

Former Nelson dairy farm hopping into a new life :

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haast grazing licence granted, but with tight conditions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

January 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Farmers’ green tinge growing – Tim Fulton:

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

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

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

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

Chinese palate has diverse tastes – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tickets on Sale for Women in Forestry conference:

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

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

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

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


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