Rural round-up

18/04/2021

New report warns that we’re building over our food basket – Alex Braae:

The 2021 Our Land report has raised serious warnings about our most productive food-growing land being turned over to housing. Alex Braae explains.

What’s all this then?

The environment ministry and Stats NZ have produced a new report called Our Land, which outlines exactly what New Zealand’s land is being used for, or how it is being left alone. Over and above the stats, it also shows the connections between land use, the economy, environmental outcomes, and even human wellbeing. 

What’s the big takeaway from the report?

A major fear that gets outlined in detail is about the spread of cities and residential areas into highly productive land – the sort that is vital for the growing of food. One point the report opens with is that our cities were mostly founded near this sort of top quality land, because that allowed enough food to be grown to sustain them.  . . 

O’Connor opts for a ban on exports of live beasts (rather than tighter regulations) to demonstrate our high animal-welfare standards – Point of Order:

Commodities are leading the global economic recovery. International demand for grains, dairy and forestry products is extremely strong – driven primarily by increased demand from China, ANZ Bank  economists say in their latest NZ Agri Focus.

Dairy markets shot up in March, driven by strong buying from China, among challenging conditions to deliver product to market. Since then prices have stabilised near current levels, encouragingly, despite more product being added to the GlobalDairyTrade sales channel.

The recent strength in global markets, combined with a slight softening in the NZ dollar. has been supportive of farmgate milk prices. . . 

Heriot saleyards closure sad but inevitable– Shawn McAvinue:

The Heriot saleyards closing after being a community meeting point for more than a century is sad but the writing was on the wall, a West Otago farmer says.

Farmer Graham Walker owns a 394ha sheep and beef farm in Park Hill and was the second generation of his family to sell stock at the saleyards, about 50km west of Lawrence.

The saleyards were a social place, which brought the community together.

However, the closure was inevitable, as fewer sales were being held as years passed, and as health and safety regulations had tightened. . . 

From dairy giant to tiny player: Miraka CEO Grant Watson – Laurilee McMichael:

It’s eight weeks in and Miraka’s new chief executive Grant Watson says that so far, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Information overload,” he jokes. “Lots to learn, lots to soak up. It’s a big industry, that’s for sure, lots of moving parts.”

Happily though, dairy is not a new industry to Watson, who took up the Miraka role on February 3, replacing departing chief executive Richard Wyeth, who had been with the company for 11 years and who had taken it from being a plan with a greenfields building site to a respected player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Wyeth is now chief executive of Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products. . . 

Rural postie makes last run – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is the end of the road for a South Otago postie — but in a good way.

After 18 years, David Fenton (67) has parked his rural post truck. He delivered his last parcel before Easter, and the new owners, Jane and Richard Whitmore took over the run early in April.

In almost two decades, Mr Fenton has covered about 846,000km. And while somewhat miffed not to have hit the million km mark — he would have got close had he kept going for a few more years — he was pleased with the decision to call time.

“I’ve been getting super for two years, so I’ve been double-dipping. Colleen [his wife] is retiring soon, and we’ve got to get out there and see more of New Zealand. There’s a whole lot more we want to see and go back to see, while we have the health to do it. . . 

Blue Peter drops anti-meat message after farmer’s beef with BBC – Ben Webster:

The BBC has dropped an anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after it drew a furious response from farmers.

The children’s programme offered the green badges, similar to the traditional blue ones, for youngsters who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to “go meat-free”, switch off lights or stop using plastic bottles.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a father of three who runs a 2,000-acre farm in north Wales, last week condemned what he described as a “sweeping statement” that overlooked the lower environmental impact of grass-fed British beef and lamb. . . 


Rural round-up

05/04/2021

CCC submissions flood in – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets remain a contentious issue for the livestock sector, which is critical of Climate Change Commission recommendations for an even steeper reduction pathway than proposed in the Zero Carbon Act.

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are labelling the proposed new targets as unrealistic and not backed by robust science, economic or farm system analysis.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the revised target is a 13.2% reduction in biogenic methane emissions below 2017 levels by 2030.

“This represents a 32% increase in the level of ambition compared to the 2030 biogenic methane target contained in the Zero Carbon Act, which is to reduce methane emissions to 10% below 2017 levels by 2030,” McIvor said. . . 

Smith to push for more automation in the hort sector – Peter Burke:

More automation in orchards – that’s what Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says he’s going to push hard for in the coming 12 months.

He told Rural News that there is real growth in horticulture and the opportunity for more, but New Zealand as not solved the labour supply problem.

“Too much of the horticultural industry has been built off the back of immigrant labour and the risk of that is what we see now,” Smith says.

“If anything goes wrong with that supply chain of workers then you have massive problems. That is why there is a need for the investment in automation and we want to see this directed to what can be done in orchards.”

Milking shed ravaged by fire, community spirit gets farmers back up and running – Joanne Holden:

A South Canterbury farmer whose milking shed, built by his father, was ravaged by fire has got his dairy operation back on track, with a little help from his friends.

The 30-year-old Waitohi milking shed was “fully ablaze” when Hamish Pearse, and five of his staff, grabbed a fire hose each and attacked the flames, keeping them at bay until the fire brigade arrived with five appliances about 20 minutes later.

“The staff were pretty shaken up by the whole thing,” Pearse, of Waitohi, said.

“My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself . . . He came back to see his pride and joy burnt down.” . . 

Synlait ponders lack of profit – Hugh Stringleman:

Synlait may not make a profit this financial year because of sharply reduced orders from a2 Milk Company for packaged infant formula, rising dairy commodity prices and global shipping delays.

At the start of the season Synlait directors expected net profit in FY21 to be similar to last year’s $75 million, then in December they said net profit would be approximately half that of FY20.

They have now said the anticipated result for FY21 will be “broadly breakeven”, which includes the possibility of no profit overall and a small loss in the second half, which is already two months old.

When releasing its first-half results, Synlait said the December downgrade from major customer and minority shareholder a2MC was significant and sudden. . . 

Wyeth’s move west welcomed – Peter Burke:

A few weeks ago, Richard Wyeth took over as chief executive of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products and says his first impressions of the company and its people are positive.

It was only a few months ago he was head of the highly successful Maori-owned dairy company Miraka – a company he helped set up from scratch.

However, Wyeth says he’s really enjoying the new job at Westland and what’s really impressed him is the people in the business.

“There is a really strong desire to see the business do well and people are working really hard to do this,” he told Rural News. . . 

Scientists are testing vaccines for flystrike – Chris McLennan:

Scientists believe they are closing in on a commercial vaccine for flystrike.

Prototype vaccines have already been developed half way through a four-year $2.5 million research project between the wool industry and CSIRO.

A potential vaccine against flystrike has been the subject of decades of research work.

Blowfly infestation of sheep wool, skin and tissue results in an estimated $280 million losses to the wool industry. . . 


Rural round-up

24/02/2021

Lucky to be alive – Nigel Beckford:

Sheep and beef farmer Jack Cocks almost died from an aneurysm. Now he’s sharing with other farmers what his recovery taught him about resilience. 

Jack’s part of the team that runs Mt Nicholas, a high-country merino sheep and cattle station, on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu. “I grew up on a sheep and beef farm, went to uni, travelled overseas and came back and worked in an agribusiness consultancy. My wife Kate and I came here to work in 2009. There’s a team of four of us that run the farm. It’s probably more of a democracy than a lot of farms but it works well. It means we can use all our different skills.”

Jack says Mt Nicholas is a great place to work and raise a family (they have two kids). “Although we’re in an isolated situation, there is a team of us here so we might see more people during our working day than many sheep and beef farmers. I really love what farming offers – that mix of running your own business as well as working outside doing practical things. We enjoy a huge variety of work.”

All that was suddenly at risk when he suffered his aneurysm in 2013.  “I’m very lucky to be here,” he says, remembering the night it happened. . .

IrrigationNZ supports Infrastructure Commission assessment that ‘status quo’ for water management no longer tenable:

IrrigationNZ is heartened by the release of Te Waihanga’s (Infrastructure Commission) state-of-play report #3 on water released today and agrees with many insights .

“The report acknowledges that the status quo of water management is unlikely to be sustainable – and we 100% agree,” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

“We are pleased the report highlights the need for a holistic and long-term strategic view of water to ensure optimal, sustainable and inclusive outcomes. This is long overdue and something we have advocated for. . . 

Regenerative agriculture white paper sets out pressing research priorities :

There is a pressing need for scientific testing of the anecdotal claims being made about regenerative agriculture. A new white paper sets out 17 priority research topics identified by 200+ representatives of New Zealand’s agri-food system.

Regenerative agriculture has been proposed as a solution for some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most acute challenges. Advocates suggest it can improve the health of our waterways, reduce topsoil loss, offer resilience to drought, add value to our primary exports, and improve the pervasive well-being crisis among rural farming communities.

With a groundswell of farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture in New Zealand, there is an urgent need for clarity about what regenerative agriculture is in New Zealand and for scientific testing of its claimed benefits.

A new white paper, Regenerative Agriculture in Aotearoa New Zealand – Research Pathways to Build Science-Based Evidence and National Narratives, sets out 17 priority research topics and introduces 11 principles for regenerative farming in New Zealand. . . 

Young inventor on mission to transform wool sector – Annette Scott:

The strong wool industry can pin its hopes on a resurgence with $5 a kilogram return for coarse wool fibre in the sights of Kiwi inventor and entrepreneur Logan Williams.

Just 25 years of age and hailing from Timaru, Williams hit the headlines when he developed and successfully exited four revolutionary inventions, including polarised contact lenses to treat photosensitive epilepsy and a system to destroy methane gas produced on farms.

He received awards for his inventions, including a National Merit Award at the Eureka Science and Innovation Competition. . .

Roped in for life by rodeo – Sally Rae:

As the rodeo season continues around the country, Southland farmer and cowboy Greg Lamb has overcome a few hefty obstacles to get back in the saddle again. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Extraordinarily determined.

That sums up Greg Lamb, a Southland sheep and beef farmer and rodeo champion who has battled injury — and a brain tumour — while pursuing and succeeding in the sport he loves.

Mr Lamb (43), who farms near Waikaka, might be a bit banged up at the moment — he hit the ground with his shoulder “fairly hard” at Wairoa rodeo last month, fracturing his shoulder blade, four ribs and a vertebra — but he is focused on making a return this season. . . 

Westland’s new CEO takes reins :

Westland Dairy Company Limited’s new CEO Richard Wyeth is looking forward to bringing the strength of a global dairy giant to the opportunities that lie ahead for the West Coast dairy processor after taking up the leadership role this week.

Mr Wyeth’s arrival at Westland yesterday was welcomed by resident director of Westland Dairy Company Limited, Shiqing Jian, who stepped down as interim CEO. Mr Jian served as interim CEO following the resignation of former Westland CEO Toni Brendish in August last year.

“We hope Richard is as excited as we are about the opportunities that lie ahead for Westland as he takes stewardship of this iconic New Zealand company,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 


Rural round-up

08/05/2019

Chinese demand still strong – Hugh Stringleman:

China’s dairy demand is steady and the feedback from customers there is strong, Miraka chief executive Richard Wyeth says.

After talking to Chinese customers and Miraka’s sales representatives through Global Dairy Network, Wyeth doesn’t expect big commodity price increases for the season ahead but neither will there be big decreases.

“I think it will be steady as it goes, which is a nice situation to be in.”

All of Miraka’s UHT liquid milk output and about half of its milk powder volume go to China. . . 

Artist and actor riding high in a bull market – Sally Rae:

“You’re the chick who paints cows. You’re the bull painter.”

Amelia Guild gets used to hearing such comments from those familiar with her bold and bright paintings of animals, particularly cattle.

The Canterbury-based artist and actor is excited about her upcoming exhibition, “Mustering the Muscle”, which opens at The Artist’s Room Fine Art Gallery in Dunedin on May 11.

Life is busy – “on the cusp of getting chaotic” – for the mother of 4-year-old Willa and 16-month-old Rollo.

But she is also living the dream, being able to reside in her “happy place” on High Peak Station, the high country property she grew up on, inland from Windwhistle, near the Rakaia Gorge. . . 

Farmer-led group lobbying for changes to Waimakariri water plan – Emma Dangerfield:

A group of young North Canterbury farmers are challenging proposed environmental rules they say are “unachievable”.

The farmers had established the Waimakariri Next Generation Farmers Trust in response to planned changes and rules affecting farmers in the district.

They hope to collaborate with industry and local authorities to address environmental concerns, particularly relating to water quality and management issues. . . 

 

Breeders on tour – Sally Rae:

Bruce Robertson describes the fellowship of Dorset Down breeders as being like a family.

Breeders from throughout the country were in Canterbury and North Otago last week for an annual tour.

About 35 people visited studs in the Ashburton area, before heading to Aoraki-Mount Cook for a night, a visit to merino property Benmore Station, and then to Oamaru. It ended with a visit to studs in South Canterbury. . . 

IHC fundraising calf scheme is on again– Annette Scott:

The annual IHC calf and rural fundraising scheme fell short of its target last season with organisers reaching out to farmers to get on board this year.

IHC national fundraising manager Greg Millar said last year was terrible for many farmers and he hopes the scheme can bounce back this year. 

“Farmers still managed to raise $650,000 for people with intellectual disabilities and despite falling short of our $1m target it was great to see the rural community continue to support our cause,” Millar said.

The national advocacy organisation for people with intellectual disabilities has acknowledged the challenging times with the introduction of new processes as the industry grapples with Mycoplasma bovis. . . 

Helping hands needed for animal farm rescue centre in Glenhope – Carly Gooch:

Lisa Grennell did everything she could to save a piglet but when the little porker lost its battle, the decision was made – time to set up an animal farm rescue centre.

Plum Tree Farm in Glenhope, 80km south of Nelson is home to Lisa and her husband, Mal, but it’s also a sanctuary for farm animals including donkeys, alpaca, kunekune, calves, lambs and goats.

The animal farm “gradually happened”, Lisa said, after the couple moved to the 42 acres nearly four years ago.  . . 


Rural round-up

23/09/2015

Drought breaks in Cheviot North Canterbury – Jeff Hampton:

 Much-needed rain fell in parched parts of north Canterbury today, raising farmers’ hopes that the serious drought they’re battling may be about to end.

It’s vital for farmers in an area of north Canterbury near Cheviot to get decent rainfall if their spring grass is to grow.

Farmer Louisa McClintock is never happier when there’s a bit of rain, after her district has been in drought all year. . . 

[I think that headline is more than a little optimistic. The rain will have been very welcome but it takes more than an inch or so of rain to break a drought].

Farmers suffer in drought-stricken corner of North Canterbury – Michael Wright:

Dan Hodgen must think the weather gods are against him.

The Hawarden farmer received “about one millimetre” of rain on his drought-stricken north Canterbury property at the weekend, despite solid falls being predicted.

“I’ve given up on trusting the forecast,” he said. . . 

Hard working couple take on velvet challenge – Kate Taylor:

In just seven years, Josh and Penny Buckman have graduated university and built up enough capital to buy 82 hectares near Hastings and a deer velvet business, not to mention starting a family.

They are busy people who wouldn’t have it any other way and are proud of their achievements so far.

“Josh is always up at midnight… thinking, planning. He’s an ideas man. He’s always working through ideas and scenarios and things we can do,” Penny says.

She is in charge of the daily running of Gevir Premium Deer Velvet, which they bought from another Hawke’s Bay couple earlier this year. She is also in charge of three-year-old George, 3, and 11-month-old Anna-Louise. Josh works on contract for Marsh corporate and business insurance and oversees the farm and a nearby lease block. The couple also have shares in other businesses. . . 

Saying goodbye to dirty dairy farming –  Lachlan Forsyth:

How do you achieve the balance between keeping a farm economical, and keeping the environment healthy? Is it actually doable?

Dairy has had many decades of being very good on the economics and not so good on the environment, and now there is a huge amount of pressure to ensure that changes.

Story visited one award-winning Waikato farm to see what’s being done to clean up dairy’s act. . . 

Key defends AgResearch cuts:

Prime Minister John Key is defending the government’s attitude to research and development amid reports that AgResearch intends laying off science staff.

Waikato University agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth says she’s been told the cuts could involve 20 percent of the 500 or so research staff.

Prof Rowarth says she was originally told 82 staff were being laid off but the number had shifted to between 80 and 100.

Former AgResearch scientist Doug Edmeades says he’s been told by a staff member redundancies will be announced on Thursday, and the cuts are due to a drop in funding. . . .

New plant-based milk product under development:

The milk company, Miraka, is working with science and research organisations to create a new UHT milk product using plant-based protein.

Taupo-based Miraka is a predominately Māori-owned company that manufactures milk powder and UHT milk products for export to 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America.

It’s been awarded government funding to work with AgResearch and Plant and Food to develop dairy-based UHT milk products which contain plant or vegetable materials.

Chief executive Richard Wyeth said the scope is broad at this stage, but he wouldn’t be drawn on the ideas that are being thrown around. . . 

Farmers told to limit palm kernel feed:

Fonterra is encouraging farmers to limit the amount of palm kernel extract (PKE) they use as a supplementary feed for dairy cows.

The co-operative is recommending its suppliers feed a maximum of 3 kgs per cow per day.

Farm advisers spoken to by Radio New Zealand said some farmers were currently feeding out 6 to 9 kgs per cow per day, particularly during dry periods. . .

Delaval Backs NZ Dairy Awards:

Global dairy equipment market leader DeLaval has joined the family of national sponsors backing the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Preparations for the 2016 awards programme are being finalised this week, as organisers and sponsors meet in Rotorua to confirm final details.

DeLaval representatives will take their place at the table, alongside representatives from Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, and Primary ITO.

Chair Gavin Roden says the awards continue to attract strong support from the country’s leading dairy industry players. . . .

Reporoa feed company taking on the world:

After exporting its equine feed products into Asia for many years, Reporoa-based company Fiber Fresh has also now launched its calf feed products into the international marketplace.

Fiber Fresh is New Zealand’s largest animal nutrition export company, specialising in high nutritional equine and calf feed products. It celebrated 30 years in business earlier this year.

The company’s launch into the calf feed market in Japan also includes a research partnership with the school of veterinary medicine at Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaido.

Fiber Fresh founding director Michael Bell says launching into the Japanese calf market is a milestone for the company. . . 

Paula Nickel's photo.


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