Rural round-up

18/11/2022

No workers to harvest, so farmer sacrifices 300,000 heads of lettuce – Gerhard Uys:

A farmer has been forced to plough more than 300,000 heads of fresh lettuce into the ground because he cannot find enough workers to manually harvest them.

Farm labour woes come on the back of the Government announcement that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% in the three months to the end of September.

Alan Fong, a Waikato vegetable grower, said ploughing produce back into the ground was sad, especially because of high vegetable prices. In October, vegetable prices were up 17% on the year before.

In October, the average price of 1kg of lettuce was $6.43, Stats NZ said, up from $5.39 a year earlier and $3.64 the year before that. . . 

Lamb processing delays expected due to labour shortage – Sally Murphy :

Farmers are being told to expect delays for this years peak lamb kill, with the season expected to be longer due to labour shortages.

Processors have been struggling with staff shortages for the past two years due to the border closure and staff being off sick with Covid-19.

AgriHQs latest market update said staff shortages had been a major problem for some processing plants and in some cases lambs were sent back to the farm as there were not enough staff to process them all.

Alliance Group, which operates five meatworks in the South Island and two in the lower North Island, had not had to send lambs back, but farmers were experiencing wait times of 10 to 14 days. . . 

Lifecycle study challenges methane measurement – Richard Rennie:

A carbon lifecycle study on New Zealand red meat has been welcomed as a good start, with provisos, by climate change (āhuarangi panoni) researcher Professor David Frame.

Released by Beef + Lamb NZ, the lifecycle assessment (LCA) study has determined NZ’s red meat is among the most efficiently produced in the world. 

Per kilogram, sheepmeat produces 15kg of carbon dioxide, while beef produces 22kg per kilo of meat.

The report determined the outcome is largely driven by farm-level efficiencies, representing 95% of the products’ carbon footprint. . . 

Dairy land being lost at 1 percent a year, Fonterra – Nikki Mandow :

Fonterra says declining annual milk production will likely continue in the foreseeable future, as dairy farmers sell their properties or switch to alternative land use. But forests aren’t to blame.

Dairy farmers are converting their land away from cows and milk at about 1 percent a year, Fonterra chair Peter McBride says. And that’s something the company is going to have to live with. 

Speaking at the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund annual general meeting, McBride said land use change could even go faster, as a variety of factors – from ageing demographics and farmer lifestyle choices to stricter regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and water quality – put further pressure on farmers.

The trend is despite record farm gate dairy prices, which rose from $6.35 per kilo of milk solids in the 2018/19 season to $7.14 in 2019/20, $7.54 in 2020/21 and $9.30 last season. . . 

EastPack announces $30 million notes issue to meet growth in kiwifruit demand :

EastPack, the largest post-harvest operator in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and one of the country’s largest cooperatives, today announced that it intends to raise $30 million via an issue of five-year subordinated Notes to New Zealand investors. EastPack will have the ability to take oversubscriptions of up to $10 million.

The amount raised will help expand packing capacity at EastPack including processing and packing efficiency.

The minimum interest rate for the Notes will be 8.5% per annum, paid quarterly in arrears. The interest rate is set annually and will be set at the higher of the minimum rate or the five-year government bond plus 4.5%. The initial interest rate is 8.9% per annum.

In its discretion, EastPack may redeem the Notes any time after 3 years. There is no intention to list the Notes on the NZX debt market but the notes will be tradeable via Syndex. . .

Livestock is a form of climate justice in the global south – Simplice Nouala:

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) proceeds in Egypt, few seem to be acknowledging that the elephant in the room is actually a cow. The livestock sector has faced global scrutiny for its contribution to climate change, but is reducing livestock production actually a fair, or even an honest, climate outcome?

The answer is less than straightforward when considering the billions of people living in the Global South. As counterintuitive as it might seem at a first glance to people living in the “Global North”, there is a strong case to invest more in sustainable livestock systems across the developing world as a matter of climate justice. Let me explain.

Having been widely recognised as the “African COP”, this year’s negotiations are emphasising the need to support the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change by requiring the wealthiest historic emitters of greenhouse gases to pay for the loss and damage that has already occurred. Livestock actually offers a compelling case for both of these priorities.

If COP27 is to truly deliver for Africa, this should start with recognising the vast differences between livestock in the Global North and South. Viewing livestock and its climate impact in developing countries through the same lens as livestock in the Global North is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, actively harmful. . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/11/2022

Country roads not taking us home – Richard Rennie :

New Zealand’s long skinny, swampy, steep terrain has never made for easy road building and it’s a tribute to our pioneering forefathers this country has the roads it does, going to the places they do.

But the escalating impact of climate change, bringing rainfall events of ever greater intensity, is making keeping that spiderweb network of 76,000km of rural roads tougher to keep open, let alone improve.  

Rural local roads are already the poor relative to their state highway links. 

For 2021-22 an average of $170,000 per km is budgeted for state highway improvements, compared with only $14,700 a km for local roads. . . 

Low methane sheep coming to a farm near you? –  Esther Taunton

Farmers will soon be able to breed low methane sheep through a “world first” genetics programme. 

Beef and Lamb New Zealand has added low methane production to the list of traits breeders can target when choosing rams.

Farmers already use several “breeding values” (BV) to select animals with characteristics they want to strengthen in their flocks, including meat yield and lamb survival rate.

With the addition of a methane BV, they could also breed animals that produced less of the agricultural greenhouse gas. . . 

The problem with coconut milk – Pete Fitz-Herbert

His father-in-law’s innocent “coconut milk” mistake at the supermarket has Manawatū farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert thinking about food labels, “nut juice” and the meaning of communication in relationships.

Every relationship has communication issues at times.

Generally, it comes about because we switch roles temporarily. I know in this modern world we are meant to do everything equally but some days we should just be thankful we aren’t the Taliban.

So, when my father-in-law got released into the supermarket with an essential Covid grocery list (during those interesting times), it was something David Attenborough should have been commentating. . .

Final Zespri charter vessel departs :

Zespri’s last charter vessel carrying some of the final volumes of this season’s New Zealand kiwifruit crop has now departed the Port of Tauranga, bound for Tokyo and Kobe in Japan.

Around 158 tonnes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit and 2,231 tonnes of Zespri Green Kiwifruit is onboard the charter reefer vessel MV Kowhai and is expected to reach Tokyo by the end of this month, with the season’s final container shipments scheduled to conclude over the coming weeks. In total, Zespri has used four charter vessels to Northern Europe, eight to the Mediterranean, four to North America’s West Coast and forty-one to Asia, along with almost 17,000 refrigerated containers to ship more than 160 million trays of New Zealand-grown Zespri Kiwifruit this season.

Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer Alastair Hulbert says that there had been a huge effort right across the industry and supply chain to ensure fruit could get to market this season given the headwinds experienced in 2022.

“This has been a really challenging season given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 across the global supply chain, as well as the need to manage our fruit quality. . . 

Orchard sector manager Regan Judd names Young Horticulturist of the Year :

Twenty-six-year-old Regan Judd has taken out the title of 2022 Young Horticulturist of the Year.

Regan, an orchard sector manager at T&G Global in the Hawke’s Bay, represented fruit and vegetable growers across the two-day event in Karaka, Auckland this week.

The competition brings together finalists from all corners of the horticulture sector to vie for the grand title in a series of tasks designed to test their practical and theoretical skills, leadership qualities and more.

Regan says he is “stoked” to have won the grand title, particularly given the calibre of the six other finalists and the effort that went into preparing for the event. . . 

Red meat is not a health risk. New study slams years of shoddy research – Ross Pomeroy:

Studies have been linking red meat consumption to health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer for years. But nestled in the recesses of those published papers are notable limitations.

Nearly all the research is observational, unable to tease out causation convincingly. Most are plagued by confounding variables. For example, perhaps meat eaters simply eat fewer vegetables, or tend to smoke more, or exercise less? Moreover, many are based on self-reported consumption. The simple fact is that people can’t remember what they eat with any accuracy. And lastly, the reported effect sizes in these scientific papers are often small. Is a supposed 15% greater risk of cancer really worth worrying about? 

Study slams lazy research 

In a new, unprecedented effort, scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) scrutinized decades of research on red meat consumption and its links to various health outcomes, formulating a new rating system to communicate health risks in the process. Their findings mostly dispel any concerns about eating red meat

“We found weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease. Moreover, we found no evidence of an association between unprocessed red meat and ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke,” they summarized.  . . 


Rural round-up

04/11/2022

Southland consent boycott grows – Neal Wallace:

Nearly two-thirds of the 3500 Southland farms (pāmu) that intensively winter-graze stock may need resource consent, according to the ACT Party.

But for some of those farmers (kaimahi pāmu), that will be irrelevant, with about 1000 who attended a meeting in Invercargill last week supporting action that ignores the requirement to get consent for winter grazing.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said there is no compulsion to take this approach, but the federation’s executive has agreed not to seek resource consent to show solidarity with farmers who take a similar stance.

“People will now know if they make a decision not to apply for consent, they are not the only person operating illegally.” . . 

Costs subdue sheep, beef outlook – Sally Rae:

The outlook for global sheepmeat and beef demand is positive for the 2022-23 season, although an increase in farm expenditure and inflation could significantly reduce farmers’ margins, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s new season outlook report says.

In Otago-Southland, gross farm revenue was forecast to drop 4.5% to average $654,900 per farm, driven by lower sheep revenue, which was forecast to decline 7.7%.

That decline was driven by lower sheep prices, fewer store lambs sold and reduced lambing percentages because of drought conditions in autumn.

Snow storms in early October were also likely to impact lambing results for many, especially high and hill country farms. . . 

a2 Milk gets approval from American food authorities to break into the US infant formula market – Point of Order :

The  a2 Milk  Company has  made a  breakthrough  into  the lucrative  US  market, winning approval  from the  US  Food  and  Drug  Administration to  market  its infant formula product  in  the  US.

The company will be  able  to take  advantage  of  the  shortage  of  supply   there  because  one  of  the  main  local  manufacturers  went  out of  production.  Another  beneficiary   will be  Synlait  Milk  which  manufactures  infant formula   for  a2Milk.

Previously   a2 Milk has  been  limited  to  marketing  its  liquid  product  in  the  US.

Now, once  it  gets  a  foothold  in the  US  for  its  infant  formula,  it could  get  a  sharp  boost  to  its  revenue. In   its  most  recent  year, it  achieved  a net  profit  of  $114m,  59%  ahead of the  previous  year. . . 

Letting go of the reins – Russell Priest

Letting go of the reins can be hard for many farmers, but Mairi Whittle says her dad was happy to step back and take orders.

Taihape farmer Mairi Whittle has no regrets her dad, Jim threw her in at the deep end when she returned to the family farm, Makatote, 24km northeast of Taihape four years ago.

The 32-year-old Lincoln graduate and ex-rural banker has nothing but praise for her father, especially the way he managed the transition and the excellent state of the farm when she took over.

“Dad was happy to take orders but didn’t want the responsibility of running the farm any more,” Mairi says. 

Robotics to turn vines into no man’s land – Richard Rennie :

A concentrated five-year stretch of research and development by Tauranga-based agri-tech firm Robotics Plus is poised to pay off in coming months as the company goes commercial with its unmanned ground vehicle design.

Robotics Plus CEO Steve Saunders has just returned from California, where he oversaw the launch and demonstration of the unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) at FIRA USA, an event showcasing autonomous agricultural equipment and robotics for the United States market.

The company has already built a strong presence in the States, thanks to its automated apple-sorting and -packing equipment installed in the country’s apple-growing capital, Washington, among other states.

Saunders says the UGV is designed as a modular machine capable of having multiple tools interchanged depending upon the orchard application, whether that be spraying, pruning, harvesting or mowing. It can also be adapted to different crop types. . . .

Argentina set to permit wheat export delays amid drought – sources – Maximilian Heath:

Argentina’s government is set to announce measures, potentially within days, to allow wheat exporters to delay agreed shipments after a major drought hammered the crop, raising concern about domestic supply.

A source at the country’s CEC grains exporting chamber, which represents companies buying the grain, said measures would be released “in the coming days” to allow firms to reschedule agreed wheat exports without facing the normal 15% fine from authorities.

A government source with direct knowledge of the matter said that measures to permit wheat shipment delays were “probable”. “It’s being studied,” the source said.

The comments are the strongest indication yet that Argentina, one of the world’s top wheat exporters, will seek to delay exports of the grain amid a drought that threatens to cause the worst harvest in nearly a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

17/10/2022

Farmers react to government’s HWENN stance– Richard Rennie & Annette Scott:

Masterton farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ councillor Paul Crick says there’s a fundamental unfairness in the government’s interpretation of He Waka Eke Noa, one that conflicts with its own policy goals.

“Reading the ‘Fit for a Better World’ policy document, in Damien O’Connor’s foreword he writes how its aim is to build a more productive, sustainable and inclusive food and fibre sector. That appears a lot throughout the document, ensuring a better future for farmers and growers. How then do we throw that lens over what we heard on HWEN this week?”

Crick said there is a fundamental unfairness in the removal of the ability to sequester methane against farm vegetation, and in ignoring the 1.4 million hectares of woody vegetation already growing on NZ drystock farms that could be applied.

“It seems they are saying on one hand we will take it, and on the other we will take it as well. There is no balancing of the ledger there.”  . . .

Why blame cows Maori farmer rejects ETS money grab? – James Perry:

Paki Nikora, a trustee of Te Urewera-based Tātaiwhetu Trust, says he can’t fathom why farmers continue to be blamed for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Mēnā tātou ka whakaaro i te wā ka pā mai te mate uruta kia tātou, ka makere mai ngā ēropereina i te rangi, ka makere mai ngā motuka i ngā huarahi ka mārama te kitea atu i te taiao ki te whare rā anō o te atua. Kei te whakapae rātou nā ngā kau kē te hē.
(If we think back to when the covid pandemic hit us and the planes were grounded and cars were off the roads, it was clear to see the improvement in the environment. But they still want to blame the cows.) 

He describes the government’s emissions reduction scheme is a “senseless tax” on the industry.

“Kāore au i te mārama he aha rātou e huri mai nei ki te tāke i a tātou whenua. He mahi moni noa tērā.”
(I don’t know why they keep trying to tax us on our whenua. It’s just a plain money grab) . . 

Why New Zealand meat is outstanding in its field – Annette Scott :

Going from the laboratory to the family dinner table, a multi-year research programme looked into the relative nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef and lamb, and plant-based alternatives. Annette Scott found out why grass is so great.

A New Zealand research programme has found pasture-raised beef and lamb beats both grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives when it comes to health and wellbeing benefits for consumers.

The four-year programme brought together researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland and included two ground-breaking clinical trials to look at the impact of red meat on the diet.

The clinical trials assessed the physical effects on the body from eating beef or lamb raised on grass, grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives, and looked at measurements of wellbeing such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels. . . .

 

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon to build innovative land-based salmon farm :

A prototype for New Zealand’s first sustainable, land-based salmon farm is in the early stages of development, with backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

SFF Futures is committing $6.7 million over six years to the $16.7 million project, which was officially launched in Twizel today. Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker attended the launch and visited the freshwater salmon farms to hear about Mt Cook Alpine Salmon’s plans for building the prototype.

“Demand for healthy, sustainably produced aquaculture products continues to grow, and land-based salmon farming will enable New Zealand to boost the supply of this high-quality, high-value product,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

Mr Penno says the project aligns with the Government’s aquaculture strategy, which outlines a sustainable growth pathway to an additional $3 billion in annual revenue. . . 

Fonterra revises milk collection :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised the forecast for its 2022/23 New Zealand milk collections to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids (kgMS), down from its previous forecast of 1,495 million kgMS.

Fonterra last reduced its 2022/23 milk collections forecast in early September. Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says this was due to weather conditions in parts of New Zealand causing a slow start to the season.  . . .

 

My food bag launches homegrown taste adventures to celebrate Nadia’s farm :

My Food Bag has released its latest meal kit offering to enable Kiwi foodies the opportunity to recreate dishes featured on Three’s new programme, Nadia’s Farm.

My Food Bag is a proud sponsor of Nadia’s Farm, an unfiltered look at Nadia and her husband Carlos as they re-establish Royalburn Station, airing Wednesday nights on Three and ThreeNow.

Bringing the fresh and high quality ingredients seen on television direct to Kiwi kitchens, My Food Bag is releasing meal kits inspired by meals seen on Nadia’s Farm and has launched a farm shop filled with products from Royalburn Station, and other boutique New Zealand suppliers.

Jo Mitchell, Chief Customer Officer of My Food Bag, says supporting Nadia’s Farmis a way to celebrate the best of New Zealand food and what happens on the farm to make that possible for us. . . 

 


Rural round-up

04/10/2022

Massive stockpiles as mānuka buzz fades – Richard Rennie:

Massive stockpiles of both mānuka and non-mānuka honey are the downside of a decade’s worth of double-digit growth as producers face the reality of disposing tonnes of product at severe discounts just to stay afloat.

Jane Lorimer, Waikato beekeeper and president of New Zealand Beekeeping Inc, said she expects to witness a lot of pain before any real gains come out of the industry’s current situation. 

The country’s total stock of honey in storage is estimated to exceed one year’s entire production.

“There will be pain before we see any real gain, most definitely. There are people who came into the industry thinking they would make money relatively easily out of mānuka, only to find they now have to exit.” . . 

 Mayor contenders agree on water storage and ‘broken’ council funding model – Simon Edwards:

They differed on priorities and approach but mayoral candidates for the Wairarapa’s three councils found some common ground on issues impacting farmers and the wider community.

At a 28 September election event in Carterton organised by Federated Farmers Wairarapa and Business Wairarapa, not one of the 11 would-be mayors had any quibble with an audience member who said more water storage in the region was vital.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he was “laser-focused” on the five key focus areas of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy:  “First is land use, and vital to that is water.  The only way to unlock our future is to unleash the delivery of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy,” Lang said.

There also appeared to be a high degree of agreement that amalgamation of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils – probably as a unitary council (i.e. with both territorial and regional council responsibilities) – is on the cards. . . 

 

English hands to the plough – Shawn McAvinue:

English farm machinery operators are travelling to the South to bridge a “dire” staff shortage, agricultural contractors say.

Hunt Agriculture co-owner Alistair Hunt, of Chatton, north of Gore, said it was hard to find staff.

“It is slim pickings.”

Agricultural contractors would be busy up to Christmas, he said. . .

Winners announced in the  inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand awards  :

The winners in the inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Napier War Memorial Centre last night.

It was a celebration of the people, innovation, technologies and management systems that make New Zealand’s grass-based red meat industry world leading.

Andrew Morrison, Chairman of B+LNZ reflected on the achievements of the sector over the last couple of years and its resilience in maintaining strong exports in light of COVID-19. 

“Environmentally, our sheep and beef production systems are amongst the most sustainable in the world with around 24 percent of New Zealand’s native vegetation flourishing on our sheep and beef farms, and one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints.”  . . 

Highly regulated industry better than complete ban supported by research :

Live Animal Export New Zealand (LENZ) says that the passing of the Act banning live animal exports will damage the New Zealand economy and is out of step with the views of the New Zealand public.

According to an independent research report by science insights company Voconiq, over half of New Zealanders surveyed have confidence that regulation can hold the industry accountable.

Research respondents believe with better regulation the Government can hold the live export industry accountable (55% agree) and that rather than banning live export, New Zealand should raise the standards required of the industry (59% agree).

Eighty-five percent of New Zealanders either agree (54%) or are neutral (31%) that the live export industry is an important part of the agricultural sector in New Zealand. . . 

Industry partnership to launch meat-based vending machine meals in China :

Consumers will soon be able to buy ready-to-eat meals, made with New Zealand beef and lamb, from vending machines in Shanghai.

Major red meat exporters Beef + Lamb NZ, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms are piloting beef and lamb vending machines with meals ready for time-poor consumers.

Beef and Lamb spokesperson Michael Wan said the two Pure Box vending machines will be located in Shanghai’s busy business districts, offering another food option for busy workers.

Wan said buyers would be able to choose from six meals that had been co-designed by Shanghai chef Jamie Pea. They fuse traditional Chinese ingredients and flavours with Western food trends to highlight the taste of New Zealand-produced beef and lamb. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/09/2022

Lamb losses as spring storm brings snow – Neal Wallace:

Two days of snow, rain and bitterly cold temperatures on the east coast of both islands have caused lamb losses and added to already saturated soils.

Snow up to 50mm fell on Monday night in Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay, central North Island and Gisborne Wairoa.

Lambing has started in some lower areas of the North Island and farming leaders said there have been losses.

Snow was lying down to sea level in parts of the South Island on Monday night, and at higher altitude in the North Island where lambing has yet to begin. . . .

High country lessees have high carbon hopes – Richard Rennie:

Lessees of Crown land want clarity – and fairness – when it comes to the carbon work they put in.

High country leaseholders are crossing their fingers the government will see sense in adjusting legislation to better enable them to capitalise on carbon opportunities Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) bring.

Gerald Fitzgerald, legal counsel for the High Country Accord group, said Wellington has repeatedly overlooked high country Crown pastoral lessees when drawing up legislation, whether it be stock exclusion, biodiversity, and more lately new carbon rules.

“Again and again, we have been frustrated there is no recognition in policy design work of the particular tenure of Crown pastoral leases. This is at a technical legal level, and a lack of insight at a practical level on the different farm management systems on high country farms,” Fitzgerald said. . .

 

 

Cheesemaking waste product potential gamechanger for diabetes sufferers :

A New Zealand-based company researching alternative uses for a by-product from cheesemaking has its sights on developing it into a remedy for people with type 2 diabetes.

WheyTech Bionics NZ is partnering with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on a 2-year project that aims to develop technology to process whey permeate as a sweetener product with anti-diabetic properties.

Whey permeate is a by-product from the cheesemaking process. 

“An existing patent from Germany shows the high levels of glucose in whey can create a sugar with properties that are anti-diabetic,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes. . . 

War on weeds – could a wasp join the fight? – Emile Donovan :

We know New Zealand’s ecosystem is precious: our islands are home to flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world.

This is special, but it also means we have to be careful. An introduced species from another part of the world can quickly become invasive, take a foothold and wreak havoc.

One way of controlling invasive species is to bring in yet another species to essentially prey on the thing you don’t like.

This is called biological control.  . . 

Agricultural Biotech’ Research Centre for sale goes under the microscope with property investors :

A former equestrian school, wedding and function venue – converted into a high tech’ agricultural biotechnology company’s research headquarters – has been placed on the market for sale.

The property and buildings housing the laboratories and research facilities for ground-breaking rural science company Ecolibrium Biologicals is located in Bombay just south of Auckland, and sits on some 18.55-hectares of land.

The substantial property was originally developed as a kiwifruit orchard in the early 1980s when its owners built a three-bedroom home, while simultaneously converting an old cow shed and building which were later developed into an equestrian riding centre & school.

The venue’s infrastructure was expanded in the early 1990s when a lodge was constructed as a riding school lodge, which later morphed into a wedding reception venue – known as Footbridge, with its own chapel on site, allowing wedding ceremonies to be held on-site. . . 

New Zealand butchery team take third place at world competition :

The Hellers Sharp Blacks have won third place at the World Butchers’ Challenge in Sacramento held over the weekend. The team, made up of six Kiwi butchers, travelled to the U.S.A. last week to compete against 12 other countries in a three-and-a-half-hour showdown at the Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento.

Team captain of the Hellers Sharp Blacks, Riki Kerekere says that after two years of covid cancellations it was amazing for the team to finally be sharpening their knives and competing on the world stage.

“To come third is a massive achievement and I am really proud of how well the team performed on the day,” says Riki.

The competition was held on Saturday 3rd September, Californian time, and saw the Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento transformed into the world’s largest butchery. Local and international visitors were treated to a spectacular three and a half hour cutting competition where each team had to turn a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display of value-added cuts. Teams had to demonstrate their carving, boning and finishing skills underpinned by their own creative and cultural flair. . . 


Rural round-up

16/08/2022

Lack of rural health services distressing – RWNZ :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) say it is distressing to see rural communities suffer due to a lack of access to quality health services.

RWNZ president Gill Naylor says the health and wellbeing of rural communities is at risk of further deterioration if something is not done to resolve the issues facing people who live, work and play in rural New Zealand.

In June this year, a rural health strategy was added to the Pae Ora Healthy Futures legislation which came into effect last month. The strategy had been removed during the select committee phase but was added back into the legislation after Health Minister Andrew Little was convinced to add it by his party’s ‘rural caucus’.

Naylor says the challenges rural families face with access to health services are varied and include a lack of rural midwives, lack of rural nurses and GPs, lack of rural mental health services, delays in emergency services such as ambulances and long distances to travel for services like allied health and cancer treatment. . . 

Exotics forestation surges on ETS carbon values – Richard Rennie:

The Climate Change Commission is estimating exotic forestation has surged to a rate well beyond the annual levels it says is required for New Zealand to achieve 380,000ha of exotic plantings by 2035.

The commission’s general manager for emissions budgets, Stephen Walter, told delegates at this year’s Carbon Forestry conference that the latest data indicates 60,000ha of exotic forest will be planted this year. That is more than twice the rate the commission envisaged.

This is also reflected in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ workload for accepting forests into the Emissions Trading Scheme. MPI’s ETS forestry manager, Simon Petrie, said there is an application queue of 130,000ha of forest awaiting scheme approval as of June.

The recent move by the commission to recommend the government limit carbon units is partly due to concern that current ETS emissions prices will drive large-scale afforestation for sequestering carbon, rather than behaviour change to reduce emissions. . . 

Rural residents ropeable over lack of cellphone coverage – Rachel Graham :

Residents in Ladbrooks, a seven-minute drive from the edge of suburban Christchurch, say living in a cellphone coverage blackspot is annoying and dangerous.

Ladbrooks School, with its 150 pupils, sits in the centre of a semi-rural area with an increasing number of lifestyle blocks.

It also sits in the middle of a cellphone black spot.

Ladbrooks School principal Margaret Dodds said the lack of cellphone coverage was much more than an inconvenience. . . 

Bale-grazing experiment benefits cows and soil – Shawn McAvinue:

A grass and hay wintering system is showing promising results in Northern Southland.

AgResearch Invermay soil scientist Ross Monaghan is running a nearly $1 million project to explore whether dairy cows grazing on pasture in winter can reduce nitrogen leaching and mud compared with being on traditional forage crops.

The Soil Armour Project was launched in October 2020.

Experiment sites are live on a dairy farm on the Telford campus near Balclutha and Freedom Acres Dairy Farm at Wendonside. . . 

New Zealand’s pipfruit industry gathers in August for National conference :

More than 250 growers, suppliers, industry leaders and government officials from around the country will gather at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson for the 2022 NZ Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) Conference.

The Conference will be held on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 August, with the industry AGM being held on Wednesday 24 August at 4pm. An ‘Agritech in the Orchard’ field day will be also be held on Wednesday 24 August, a collaboration between Callaghan Innovation and NZAPI.

The theme for the 2022 conference is ‘Adapting to New Horizons’. NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says that two years on from the beginning of the pandemic, we have learned to modify and adapt to a new environment to ensure New Zealand pipfruit can continue to compete on the global stage, demand premiums and remain an industry exemplar.

“NZ is widely regarded as the best apple and pear producer in the world, but to retain that title, we must continue to adapt and innovate. The Conference will explore how we as an industry can meet and succeed in these new environments. . . 

Improving crop resilience with nanoparticles – Neil Savage:

Materials that can carry CRISPR gene-editing into plant cells could be key in the fight against global hunger.

There were sceptics when Michael Strano and his colleagues published their method for using nanoparticles to alter the biology of living plants (J. P. Giraldo et al. Nature Mater. 13, 400–408; 2014). In a letter to Nature Materials, one prominent plant scientist stated that the findings were wrong. “She wrote to the editor and said, ‘What these authors are proposing is not possible. We think they’re misinterpreting their data’,” Strano recalls.

But the chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, won over his critics, overturning an assumption that the membrane of the chloroplast — an organelle within plant cells that is responsible for photosynthesis — was impervious. “We had real-time video of particles going into this seemingly impenetrable chloroplast,” he says. The method, known as lipid exchange envelope penetration (LEEP), allows scientists to calculate where a nanoparticle will go to inside a cell — such as into the chloroplast or another organelle — or whether it will remain in the cytosol, the fluid that surrounds the organelles. This information can inform the design of nanoparticles that carry gene-editing machinery to targeted areas to rewrite the plant’s genome and imbue it with properties such as pest and disease resistance.

In particular, researchers are exploiting the CRISPR gene-editing system to engineer food crops that offer higher yields, or plants that produce compounds used in medications. The technology, for which Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, allows specific stretches of DNA to be targeted for editing, deletion or replacement. . .

 


Rural round-up

01/08/2022

Look up tables undersell carbon capture efforts – RIchard Rennie:

Latest data shows significant disparities between actual averages and the tables.

Farmers and small woodlot owners are missing out on thousands of dollars in carbon payments due to carbon estimation, or look-up tables, falling well short on trees’ actual carbon storage ability.

Forest owners with over 100ha use Field Measurement Assessment (FMA) data, an actual in-forest sampled measurement to assess carbon sequestration. But those with less than 100ha use the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) look-up tables that offer estimates of carbon storage by species.

MPI’s latest FMA data averaged across the country highlights the significant disparities between actual averages and the look-up tables. . . 

As Australia beefs up sheep tracing should NZ follow suit? – Country Life:

New Zealand’s system of tracing sheep movements around the country could be a weak link in protecting against foot and mouth disease, according to a biosecurity risk expert.

However, Aaron Dodd of the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA), says overall New Zealand is in a “really good position” to deal with any outbreak.

Farmers here use a paper-based system to identify and trace whole mobs of sheep as flocks move between farms, saleyards and slaughterhouses, although the industry is encouraging farmers to move online.

The tracing system for sheep is different from the system for cattle and deer, which must be individually tagged under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme. . .

Land of milk and honey – Alice Scott:

A Papakaio farmer’s passion of being in the outdoors has paid off with a win in the ApiNZ national honey awards.Steve Kirkman agrees he quite literally comes from the land of milk and honey.

The contract dairy milker is also a commercial honey producer and recently his Hyde Honey Co won three medals at the ApiNZ National Honey Competition, including a gold medal in the clear honey category.

Mr Kirkman, who farms at Papakaio with his wife Belinda and their three children, entered their honey into the competition for the first time this year.

“We wanted to enter to get some feedback and find out what it might take to perhaps one day win a medal. We certainly didn’t expect to do as well as we did.” . . 

Kiwifruit growers to vote on expanding sun gold variety year round – Sally Murphy:

Kiwifruit growers can now vote on whether they think Zespri should increase plantings of the lucrative SunGold variety in existing production locations overseas.

The kiwifruit marketer wants to increase plantings in Italy, France, Greece, Korea and Japan by up to 10,000 hectares to ensure it has SunGold to sell all year round.

Voting on the proposal opened on 28 July and growers have until 24 August to cast their vote; the idea needs 75 percent of growers support to pass.

Company chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert said the current approval of 5000 hectares for Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit outside of New Zealand was not going to produce sufficient fruit to achieve 12-month supply in key markets. . . 

MPI reminds farmers stock transport companies are checking NAIT declaration :

The Ministry for Primary Industries is reminding farmers that stock transport companies are checking their cattle and deer are tagged and registered under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme.

Under the NAIT scheme all cattle or deer must be fitted with a NAIT tag and registered in the NAIT system by the time the animal is 180 days old, or before the animal is moved off farm.

MPI’s national manager of animal welfare and NAIT compliance Gray Harrison says transporting an untagged animal is an offence and transporters could be liable unless the truck driver has a declaration from the supplier stating the animals are tagged and registered.

“Under recently changed rules, livestock transporters can request a declaration as an alternative to physically checking for tags. This recognises that checking individual cattle for NAIT tags early in the morning when it is dark, ahead of a busy schedule of other stops, is easier said than done.” . . 

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2207/S00440/new-zealands-top-bacon-and-ham-announced.htm

https://www.levernews.com/governments-are-ignoring-an-easy-climate-fix/


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. . . 


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