Rural round-up

January 4, 2020

Nature policies an eco disaster – Jamie McFadden:

When government policy goes wrong it can deliver disastrous consequences. Such is the case with the Government’s climate change policies.

North Canterbury is a stronghold of agriforestry and there are many benefits to having exotic forestry integrated on farms. 

However, like the rural lobby group 50 Shades of Green, we have major concerns about the Government’s climate change policies. If the policy direction continues we will see changes to our landscapes and rural communities of a scale not seen since the land clearance subsidy days pre-1980. . .

Agritech worker raising awareness of diverse careers – Jacob McSweeny:

Working in farming doesn’t always mean driving the tractor, herding the sheep or milking the cows, says Next Farm’s Sammi Stewart. She talks to business reporter Jacob McSweeny about her hopes to inspire younger generations to realise the types of futures available in the agritech sector.

Sammi Stewart wants to get kids back into farming but she does not mean chucking on the gumboots and getting up early to milk the cows.

‘‘I grew up on a farm in Southland so my parents had a sheep and beef farm and when you live in rural Southland you either milk cows or shear sheep,’’ said the brand manager of Dunedin start-up Next Farm. . . .

Top seven must dos for employment contracts – Chris Lewis:

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers employment spokesman, lists his top seven “must-do’s” for farmers when it comes to employment contracts.

Recent legal decisions on employment agreements have highlighted the need for farmers to get the fine print right. Here are my top seven considerations from a farmers’ perspective.

1. Get an agreement in place

The first priority is to get a written employment agreement in place to begin with for every employee, even for casual and part time workers. This should outline the terms and conditions of employment fully, be provided to the employee before they start work, and be agreed upon and signed by both parties. . .

Taranaki rural woman Margaret Vickers is a Member of Excellence – Ilona Hanne:

Margaret Vickers is excellent.

That’s official now, as she was formally enrolled as a Member of Excellence of Rural Women New Zealand last year.

Margaret’s years of service to the organisation were recognised when she was enrolled as a Member of Honour and presented with the Olive Craig Tray in recognition of her dedication and commitment.

Only two women received this honour in 2019, and Margaret says it is still only just sinking in as to quite how special the honour is. . . 

Oamaru Meats to resume operations next week – Jacob McSweeny:

Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) is set to open again a week into the new year, after a suspension in the China market forced its closure in September.

The factory will open its doors again on Monday.

The suspension came after some beef fat packaging was not up to standard.

The closure put 160 seasonal workers out of work and OML director, Richard Thorp, said it was likely most of them would return.

‘‘I think for this start-up period it won’t be a lot different. There’ll be about 140 to 150 people employed on the site come the sixth. . .

 

The EU’s absurd risk aversion stifles new ideas – Matt Ridley:

With tariffs announced against Brazil and Argentina, and a threat against France, Donald Trump is dragging the world deeper into a damaging trade war. Largely unnoticed, the European Union is also in trouble at the World Trade Organisation for its continuing and worsening record as a protectionist bloc.

Last month, at the WTO meeting in Geneva, India joined a list of countries including Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Malaysia that have lodged formal complaints against the EU over barriers to agricultural imports. Not only does the EU raise hefty tariffs against crops such as rice and oranges to protect subsidised European farmers; it also uses health and safety rules to block imports. The irony is that these are often dressed up as precautionary measures against health and environmental threats, when in fact they are sometimes preventing Europeans from gaining health and environmental benefits.

The WTO complaints accuse the EU of “unnecessarily and inappropriately” restricting trade through regulatory barriers on pesticide residues that violate international scientific standards and the “principle of evidence”. Worse, they say, “it appears that the EU is unilaterally attempting to impose its own domestic regulatory approach on to its trading partners”, disproportionately harming farmers in the developing nations whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. . . 


Rural round-up

December 4, 2019

An exciting future – Mike Petersen:

Special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says New Zealand leads the field in many areas but cannot rest on its laurels.

These are exciting but also challenging times for New Zealand agri-food and fibre. 

At a time when demand and prices for NZ food are at near-record highs the mood among farmers is subdued with new environmental policies being developed and fears about the impact from the brinksmanship being played out in the complex world of international trade.  . . 

Chinese ban on Oamaru Meats lifted Jacob McSweeny:

A suspension to the China market has been lifted on Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) and the company has begun trying to re-recruit seasonal workers and suppliers.

The meat processor shut down on September 13 after its access to the Chinese beef markets was suspended. Some 160 seasonal workers were laid off temporarily.

Yesterday, OML director Richard Thorp said the suspension came after some beef fat packaging was not up to standard. . . 

AgriSea boss takes women’s award – Annette Scott:

Seaweed products pioneer AgriSea is the 2019 supreme winner of the NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards.

Celebrating and showcasing entrepreneurship and innovation by rural women the annual awards take in seven categories with the supreme winner judged from the category winners.

While excited about the win AgriSea business manager Clare Bradley said it was unexpected given the high calibre of every woman in the finals.

“We are often caught up in keeping our heads down, working hard to achieve our goals in our businesses, communities and families.

“The awards are an opportunity for both me personally and our whanau at AgriSea to take a breather and celebrate where we’ve come from.  . . 

 

Looking back moving forward:

Five farmers featured in Inside Dairy in 2019 tell us about their year, where they’re heading in 2020 and what they’d like others to know about dairy farmers and the dairying sector.

Mark and Vicki Meyer – Tangiteroria, Northland

Most proud of in 2019?

“On the farming front, we’re proud of how we managed to turn around our end of 2018/19 season. We’d ended up slightly down in production, due to minimal rain in autumn and a lack of grass growth.

“We’d been staring down the barrel of going into winter with skinny cows and not enough pasture for feed. We bit the  bullet and made the hard decision to dry off the cows earlier than normal, which enabled us to get cows off grazing earlier and build cover here on the farm. This worked well, as we had awesome winter growth. . .

Abuse of farmers only strengthens corporate agriculture’s hand – Adam Currie:

Condemning agriculture and tarring all farmers with the same brush does nothing to further environmentalists’ cause, argues Adam Currie.

Are there simply too many cows in our country? Or are urbanites just aggressively exacerbating the farming crisis from their sterile offices?

The inconvenient truth is that both are true.

We urgently need to change our approach to land use and kai production – or our environment will experience irrevocable collapse. But this urgency needs to be communicated in a new way, because the current paradigm not only unhelpfully condemns all farmers as ‘bad’; the pressure it puts on farmers also only serves to stir up hatred and division. If nothing else, framing the debate in such an antagonistic way puts a damper on political support for any environmental measure deemed to be ‘anti-farming’. . .

Cosmic Crisp: the apple that can last a year in the fridge :

A new breed of apple that took two decades to develop and supposedly lasts for up to a year in the fridge is going on sale in the US.

The apple – Cosmic Crisp – is a cross-breed of the Honeycrisp and Enterprise and was first cultivated by Washington State University in 1997.

The launch of the “firm, crisp, and juicy apple” cost $10m ($NZ15.6m).

Farmers in the state of Washington are exclusively allowed to grow the fruit for the next decade. . .


New Zealand begins genetic programme to produce low methane-emitting sheep
– Ben Smee:

The New Zealand livestock industry has begun a “global first” genetic program that would help to tackle climate change by breeding low methane-emitting sheep.

There are about six sheep for each person in New Zealand, and the livestock industry accounts for about one-third of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The livestock industry’s peak body, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, already uses a measure called “breeding value” to help breeders select rams with characteristics they want to bolster within their flocks. Within two years breeders will be able to select rams whose traits include lower methane emissions.

“Farmers are more interested than I anticipated,” said a stud breeder, Russell Proffit. His family has been producing rams for more than 40 years. . . 


Rural round-up

November 6, 2019

Hort strong but uneasy – survey – Pam Tipa:

Positive sentiment still prevails across horticulture, but Government policies are weighing on the minds of growers.

So says Hayden Higgins, Rabobank horticulture senior analyst. He was commenting on results of Rabobank’s early September confidence survey of 59 horticulturalists (see sidebar for details).

The results saw only minor shifts, some up and some down, in results pertaining to their own businesses. . . 

Farmers need empowerment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Reducing stock numbers and increasing legislation is not the way to empower farmers – or attract newcomers to the sector, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

People hearing the media coverage of farmers under stress can be forgiven for wondering why the farmers are so worried.

After all, they have been told repeatedly that they can reduce their environmental impact by reducing stock numbers, and that doing so will increase farm profitability as well. . . 

Directors Donna Smit, Andy Macfarlane returned to Fonterra board :

Fonterra directors Donna Smit and Andy Macfarlane have been returned to the co-op’s board after retiring by rotation.

Shareholders Scott Montgomerie and Ellen Bartlett were elected unopposed to the directors’ remuneration committee and Ian Brown was elected unopposed as the Fonterra farmer custodian trustee, Fonterra said.

All successful candidates will take office at the close of Fonterra’s annual meeting in Invercargill on Thursday. . . 

 

Meat processor still shut down –  Sally Brooker:

Oamaru Meats is still working through the problems that forced it to shut down in September.

The company, owned by China’s BX Foods, stopped all processing after access for its beef to China was suspended.

Director Richard Thorp said about 140 staff were stood down while managers worked with New Zealand and Chinese authorities to regain the lost access.

A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said the suspension was not related to food safety issues and applied “only to Oamaru Meats and not to exports from any other New Zealand meat establishments”. . . 

Naked and afraid: breeding for shedding sheep – Nicola Dennis:

I have written before about how much we love our shedding sheep. We love our Wiltshires from a distance because they never really need any hands-on work. Wiltshires don’t need shearing, dagging or tailing.

Our Wiltshires were “bred up” from minimally shepherded Perendales by the previous occupants of our land. They stag leap over fences at the very sight of us. Because of this, we have also discovered that we can forgo drenching and almost all other forms of handling. From my window, I can see the ewes roaming over the hills in the distance with troupes of energetic lambs bouncing behind them. That is about as close as I will get until it is time to draft the lambs for their big OE. . . 

Livestock farmers feel ‘under siege’ amid climate change and vegan debates – Chris Hill:

Livestock farmers feel “under siege” from a barrage of negativity over climate change, agricultural emissions, healthy diets and veganism – and they urged a more balanced discussion about more sustainable meat production.

In recent months, the under-fire industry has been highlighted as a key component of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, sparking discussions on the global impact of farm animals on the environment, and debates about whether meat-free diets could be part of the solution to global warming.

It added to the ethical arguments of a vocal vegan movement, endorsed by influential celebrities like Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who recently sparked controversy by saying adopting a vegan diet is the “only way to truly save our planet”. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 9, 2019

Extinction Rebellion should unglue their hands and reach out for the potential of gene editing technologies – Point of Order:

History was being made (we  were  told  by  mainstream media)  when  170,000  New Zealanders  took to  the streets to  demand  decisive  action  against  climate  change.  It capped a  week in which the  16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg dressed down a  summit in New York of world leaders:

“We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”.

That  apocalyptic   vision  was  clearly  shared  by  many young  New Zealanders: one Wellington student called on the government immediately to  cull the   country’s entire  dairy herd.

So   what   has   happened in the  fortnight  since? . .

Water rules’ outcome predetermined – Alan Emerson:

I joined more than 400 local farmers at the Ministry for the Environment consultation meeting in Carterton. 

In addition it was streamed to Federated Farmers members. It was an interesting experience.

The meeting started with MfE staff telling Wairarapa rivers are in good shape. 

They then went on to outline all the expenses to be foisted on us even though our rivers are, in their words, in good shape.

We were then told we need to manage our emotions and to be respectful of other attendees.

I’d suggest it’s not easy to manage your emotions when you are getting considerable costs foisted on you for no good reason. . . 

Kiwi clarity inspires import – Samantha Tennent:

Being a foreigner in a strange land is no barrier to progression in the dairy industry for one young woman from England. Samantha Tennent reports.

Nicola Blowey is the manager on 575-cow farm at Fairlie.

She was also the 2019 national winner of the Dairy Trainee of the Year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

She has found consistency and clarity across the NZ dairy sector compared to the diversity in Britain where farmers use grass in some way across their systems.

“Back home discussions don’t have the same clarity,” Blowey says. . .

Meat company still in limbo – Brent Melville:

About 160 seasonal workers at Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) are entering their fourth week off the job after the meat processor shut down the majority of its processing on September 13.

The unplanned closure followed the suspension of its access to China beef markets.

The North Otago company, owned by Chinese company BX Foods, said it had been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Chinese authorities to get more information.

OML director Richard Thorp, who had described the shut-down as a “temporary break in production”, said the plant had continued and about 20 staff had been retained for “non-China” processing. . .. 

Pioneer of Central Otago winemaking still in the business – Yvonne O’Hara:

Reverend Samuel Marsden did not know it, but when he planted the first grapevines in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, on September 25, 1819, he was indirectly introducing an industry that is now earning Central Otago millions of export dollars.

Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud introduced wine grapes into Central Otago in 1864 at Clyde, as did Alexandra businessman Thomas Oliver in the same decade.

They were also indirectly responsible for the modern vibrant wine industry in Central Otago.

There are now 135 wineries and 32 grape growers, producing wines that attract global accolades.

There is 1884ha planted in vineyards, of which 1502ha is planted in pinot noir, and last season the region produced 11,868 tonnes of wine grapes, New Zealand Wine Growers says. . . 

Minnesota farmers diversify into hemp production to stay viable – Lucy Kinbacher:

An American farming family are among a host of Minnesota growers taking up new hemp crops as prices for corn and soybeans tumble.

The Peterson family of Sever and Sharon, along with their son Aaron and his wife Nicola, operate about 445 hectares growing everything from corn, soybeans, pumpkins and apple trees, and are no strangers to business restructure.

Traditionally a truck garden vegetable farm in the early 20th century, they went on to dabble in wholesale production throughout the US and central Canada, roadside retail stores and even established Sever’s Corn Maze for added income. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 21, 2014

Chinese seek bigger stake in Oamaru meat plant – Sally Rae:

Overseas Investment Office approval is being sought to increase a Chinese-based shareholding in Lean Meats’ Oamaru plant.

NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, whose shares were owned by Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co Ltd, has already bought a 24.9% stake in the plant and wants to increase that to 50%.

Yesterday, Richard Thorp, who finishes this week as chief executive of Lean Meats and will join NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods as chief operating officer, said it was positive news for North Otago. . .

Other iwi benefiting from sweet success:

The Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation is sharing its business knowledge with neighbouring tribes to help generate money for their descendants by using land that’s unsuitable for beef and sheep farming.

Last year, the incorporation collaborated with the Ruapehu iwi Ngāti Rangi to survey the Whanganui River valley using traditional knowledge and modern science to identify the potential of harvesting mānuka honey.

The incorporation’s chairperson, Mavis Mullins, says it is now sharing that information with other tribes, which is paying off as they include different ways of making the whenua more productive. . .

Fashion queen weaves good yarn – Rob Stock:

Few people can claim to have developed a genuinely new fibre. Peri Drysdale has just unveiled her second.

Twenty years ago, Drysdale, founder of Christchurch’s Snowy Peak and Untouched World, blended possum fur, which had previously been considered too short for weaving, with merino wool to create “merinomink”, a much-mimicked yarn that launched an industry.

“It was the first new yarn in 200 years,” Drysdale said. “Now we’ve done it again.” 

Drysdale has now unveiled a textile she’s called Kapua in the Untouched World range, the Maori name for cloud, which she hopes will command prices even higher than merinomink. . .

The big kill – New Zealand’s crusade to rid itself of mammals – Elizabeth Kolbert:

In the days—perhaps weeks—it had spent in the trap, the stoat had lost most of its fur, so it looked as if it had been flayed. Its exposed skin was the deep, dull purple of a bruise, and it was coated in an oily sheen, like a sausage. Stoat traps are often baited with eggs, and this one contained an empty shell. Kevin Adshead, who had set the trap, poked at the stoat with a screwdriver. It writhed and squirmed, as if attempting to rise from the dead. Then it disgorged a column of maggots.

“Look at those teeth,” Adshead said, pointing with his screwdriver at the decomposing snout.

Adshead, who is sixty-four, lives about an hour north of Auckland. He and his wife, Gill, own a thirty-five-hundred-acre farm, where for many years they raised cows and sheep. About a decade ago, they decided they’d had enough of farming and left to do volunteer work in the Solomon Islands. When they returned, they began to look at the place differently. They noticed that many of the trees on the property, which should have been producing cascades of red flowers around Christmastime, instead were stripped bare. That was the work of brushtail possums. To save the trees, the Adsheads decided to eliminate the possums, a process that involved dosing them with cyanide. . .

RWNZ windfall to benefit rural communities – Yvonne OHara:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) sold its home care organisation, Access Homehealth Limited (Access), to Green Cross Health for $18 million last month and intends to use the money to further enhance its charitable and advocacy work in rural communities.

Access, which had its beginnings in a 1920’s bush nurse scheme, provides home health care services to more than 16,000 people throughout New Zealand, including in Otago and Southland, and is one of the largest home care providers in the country, with contracts with DHBs, the Ministry of Health and ACC. Access chief executive Graeme Titcombe said Green Cross Health would continue to provide specialised home-based care and support, as well as funding the organisation’s rural scholarships and awards and Access’s 4000 staff would retain their jobs. . .

Ram breeder a CT scanning fan  – Tim Cronshaw:

A Canterbury ram stud breeder has become a convert to CT scanning after selling a southdown ram for $14,000.

Brent Macaulay, from Maclaka stud, Lincoln, was one of two breeders to take the top price honours, with Chris Medlicott’s ram from his Clifton Downs Southdown stud sharing the same price, at the Canterbury A&P Association’s Elite Ram and Ewe Sale last month.

Both breeders sent their sires through a Lincoln University CT scanner as ram hoggets to examine their bone and muscle composition.

Macaulay was so impressed that he will be sending another five or six rams with sires from other southdown breeders for CT scanning in February or March. . .

 

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image Hat tip Utopia


Rural round-up

December 22, 2013

Meat industry looks interesting for 2014 – Allan Barber:

Next year will be an interesting one for the red meat sector with highlights predicted to include improved sheepmeat prices compared with last season, the probability of a procurement battle for fewer lambs and prime cattle, continuing work with research funding and the efforts of new MIE sympathetic directors on the boards of SFF and Alliance.

The big question will be whether the discussions about industry restructuring will actually achieve anything and how much impact the new cooperative boards can have on those efforts. So far we know SFF, Alliance and ANZCO have already talked to the government about introducing some form of tradable slaughter rights, but have been rejected.

There is support for a merger of the two cooperatives from a number of farmers, although retiring chairman, Eion Garden, stated at the AGM on 18th December that a merger wasn’t necessarily the right answer. He said there was no point in creating a bigger version of the same thing, but there was a need for an innovative structure to deliver a ‘great’ outcome. . .

Early Christmas present for sheep farmers:

Meat company Lean Meats has announced a bonus payment to its farmer supplier shareholders after a stronger company performance in 2013.

Lean Meats chief executive Richard Thorp today announced a return to its Atkins Ranch Producer Group (ARPG) providing shareholder farmer suppliers an average of 31 cents a kilogram or $5.74 a lamb.

This year’s payment is split with an average of $1.85 per head paid at six weeks after processing and the remaining $3.89 per head being paid in the last working week of December. . .

Beef in 2014: Demand bright, local supply tight:

New Zealand’s beef industry faces brighter prospects in 2014 with strong international demand, combined with tight local supply, according to a new report released by agribusiness banking specialist, Rabobank.

The report, Beef in 2014: Demand bright, local supply tight, says the decline in beef production, particularly in lean beef, in the United States – New Zealand’s largest beef export market – means New Zealand product will be in demand.

However, the Rabobank report cautions, in other less traditional markets – where cost is the primary determinant – growing competition from India should be expected, with increased local Indian supply available for export. . .

Proactive approach to land management – Anne Hardie:

One of the things Barbara Stuart loves most about her sustainable land management role is working with farming families who are trying hard to look after their environment.

As a regional co-ordinator for NZ Landcare Trust she works with community groups in the top of the South Island dealing with sustainability issues, including the award-winning Sherry River Catchment Group, which carried out research on cow crossings and water quality, leading to environmental plans for the landowners along the river.

Over the years she has also worked on projects to improve the water quality of Aorere River in Golden Bay, following concerns from mussel farmers beyond the river mouth, of Rai River, which leads to the Havelock estuary, and on erosion of Marlborough dryland farming with the Starborough Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Group. . .

Mr Weeds’ latest work has gained attention – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch weed scientist Trevor James’ latest literary efforts may not make the bestseller list but he and his colleagues are already receiving international praise.

Trevor has worked in a cross-sector team to compile a definitive guide to New Zealand weed seeds, the Illustrated Guide to Weed Seeds of New Zealand.

It includes high-resolution shots of every weed seed identified in the country. This includes unwelcome intruders that may not have germinated in this country but have been found as stowaways in biosecurity checks. . .

Small-scale agriculture holds big promise for Africa – Caspar van Vark:

Supporting smallholder irrigation through finance and technical assistance could significantly improve productivity and incomes.

The recent discovery of a large aquifer in Kenya is a reminder that far from being dry, Africa has abundant water resources. The problem for farmers is access: only around 6% of cultivated land is equipped for irrigation, leaving millions dependent on rain-fed agriculture. How might more of them be helped to access water that could raise their productivity?

Large-scale, government-funded irrigation systems have long attempted to address this, with varying degrees of success. Those systems have a place, but research by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has found that many smallholders are themselves taking the lead and investing in their own low-cost, small-scale irrigation systems. . . .

And from the Nutters Club NZ:
:) kindest, Boris


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