Rural round-up

April 14, 2016

Water gives life to NZ’s economy – Anrew Curtis:

Much media debate has arisen recently on whether new irrigation schemes are necessary in the wake of the dairy downturn.  

What the dairy industry doesn’t need at the moment is to be kicked when it’s down; the debate has brought to light a need for IrrigationNZ to better foster relationships and promote understanding of modern irrigation across the board.  

Let’s start with the facts: in NZ water is plentiful. We average 145 million litres per person in NZ compared with 82 in Canada, 22 in Australia, nine in the US, two in China and two in the UK. We are water rich but are yet to make the most of this potential. . . 

Farmers agree kiwi farm labourers  ‘hopeless‘ – Alexa Cook:

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is “on the money” saying many young New Zealanders in farm work are “pretty damned hopeless”, a South Island farming leader says.

Mr English made the comments at a Federated Farmers meeting last week, saying many people seeking jobs through the Ministry of Social Development did not show up or stay with the job.  

Otago Young Farmers Club vice-chair Mike Marshall milks 500 cows, and said he was employing people from Scotland because New Zealanders were not good workers. . .  

Fonterra’s first governance review suggests cutting board members by two, single election process for directors – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group is proposing cutting its board numbers by two to 11 and having a single process for electing farmer appointed and independent directors as part of the first governance overhaul since it was established 15 years ago.

A booklet on the first draft proposal from the long-awaited review of the farmer-owned dairy cooperative is being sent out to farmers today and a final recommendation is to go to shareholder vote in late May or early June after feedback. . . 

National regulations proposed for pest control:

Regulations are being proposed under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to provide for a nationally consistent approach to pest control, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today in releasing a consultation paper standardising the regulatory regime for pest control at the New Zealand PIanning Institute conference.

“These proposed RMA regulations are a response to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report recommending that I instigate a more standardised approach to pest control. Rather than each regional council having different pest control rules, the standard controls set by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) would apply. . . 

Kiwifruit found to regulate blood sugar – Lucy Warhurst:

A new study has found there could be more health benefits to eating kiwifruit than we first thought.

It’s known for being high in fibre and vitamin C, but it’s also now been found to significantly slow and reduce the uptake of sugars into the bloodstream.

Zespri’s Innovation Leader for Health and Nutrition, Dr Juliet Ansell, says people who ate kiwifruit with their breakfast saw more regulated blood sugar levels.

“You actually really reduce that blood sugar peak in your blood stream. It’s a much slower, longer tail off, so much more regulated blood glucose control.” . . . 

Global megatrends expert says New Zealand on trend with food-for-health:

New Zealand should apply its tourism’s “100% Pure” campaign to the agricultural industry, utilise its “clean-green” image, extend it to “clean-green-healthy” and back it with science to add a premium to its exports, according to Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, an international expert in strategy and foresight.

Dr Hajkowicz, author of the recently published book “Global Megatrends – Seven Patterns of Change Shaping our Future” is in New Zealand to address the 2016 High-Value Nutrition Science Symposium -Foods of the Future, Transforming New Zealand into a Silicon Valley of Foods for Health-. . . 

Feedback sought on proposed animal welfare regulations:

The Government is seeking feedback on proposed regulations to further strengthen our animal welfare system.

“Last year the Government amended the Animal Welfare Act to improve the enforceability, clarity and transparency of the animal welfare system,” says Mr Guy.

“We are now seeking the public’s views on proposed regulations that have been developed in consultation with the independent National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC),” says Mr Guy.
These proposed regulations will set enforceable rules based on best practice and modern science.

“Our animal welfare system is considered one of the best in the world. The proposed regulations will further strengthen our reputation as a country that cares for animals,” says Mr Guy. . . .

IrrigationNZ confident Ruataniwha will proceed:

IrrigationNZ today said it was confident that Ruataniwha would go ahead and disputed claims aired on RadioNZ that costs for the project have risen by 50 percent.

“What isn’t clear in this reporting is there are two distinct parts to this project. One is the cost of building the dam and the infrastructure of piping water to the farm gate, the other is the cost of developing on-farm irrigation systems,” said IrrigationNZ chairwoman Nicky Hyslop.

“A year on yes, there is an increase to building the dam – $275 to $330 million, and the reality is, the more time that goes by the more it will cost. There will never be a cheaper time to build than today. . . 

Deputy PM to headline DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum event:

Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English and Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings are among a line-up of leading speakers presenting to dairy farmers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, May 17-18, in Hamilton.

The biennial event will give dairy farmers insight into how to adapt their businesses in the current challenging times and how the global environment will shape the future of New Zealand milk production.

“The Farmers’ Forum is about helping farmers understand what is driving the current financial climate and what they can do to help manage it,” says DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Rick Pridmore. . . .

Farmers Gather for First Field Day at Sea:

Farmers took to the water recently to learn about the entrepreneurial drive of Clearwater Mussels director John Young and how his principles can equally apply to land-based farming.

As aquaculture entrepreneurs, Clearwater Mussels was joint winner of the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year Competition (with Omarama Station), it was the first ever winner’s field day held at sea.

Three boatloads of field day attendees (approx. 200 people) left Havelock Marina and motored into the Kekeperu Sound to see greenshell mussel harvesters and seeders at work, and learn about what a marine farming business did to make it a competition winner. . . 

Final FMG Young Farmer of the Year to be found in Ashburton:

The last of the seven Grand Finalists will be determined this weekend in Ashburton at the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final.

“This contest season has been very successful and impressive to date, the calibre of contestants is high and each Regional Final has been fiercely competed for” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Timaru 7 – 9 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $285,000 in products, services and scholarships from FMG, Massey University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Meridian Energy, Honda, STHIL and Vodafone. . . 

NZ Farming's photo.

Farming is the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think you’re trying to kill them. – NZ Farming.


Rural round-up

April 19, 2014

Dairy NZ says won’t be water ‘whipping boy’ any more –   Lynn Grieveson:

Dairy NZ says the dairy industry is no longer willing to be the “whipping boy” for any decreasing water quality of New Zealand’s streams and rivers, while Fish and Game has called for a public inquiry into the water quality issue.

Both groups appeared before Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Select Committee on Thursday to discuss the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on water quality, which described the problem of nitrogen leaching into waterways.

Chairman of DairyNZ John Luxton, standing in for Rick Pridmore, Dairy NZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader for Sustainability, said some of our most polluted streams and rivers were in urban areas. . . .

 

China, food and NZInc – Ketih Woodford:

The latest statistics show that New Zealand exports to China continue to surge. In the 12 months to February 2014, milk powder and beef exports each more than doubled, sheep meat sales increased by 80%, and log sales increased by 65%. Overall, exports to China increased from $7.1 billion to 10.9 billion, comprising 22% of total exports.

This overall percentage figure is not in itself a record. Both before and during the 1960s we were much more dependent than this on Britain, and in 1989 our exports to Japan reached 18% of total exports, before declining to the current figure of less than 6%. Nevertheless, the sheer speed of the increase in exports to China is causing concern both to commentators and the industries themselves.

I see no point in worrying about increasing reliance on China as a market destination. It is a simple reality that trade with China is going to increase a lot further yet. As long as the Chinese continue to pay more than other markets, then that is where the products will go. . .

 Good turn-out of forestry conference – Joanna Grigg:

Gray skies did not dampen the enthusiasm of 280 foresters and tree enthusiasts at the recent New Zealand Farm Forestry Association conference in Marlborough.

Field trips were a big part of the four-day programme, organised by the Marlborough Tree Growers Association.

An eclectic group of farmers, corporate foresters, scientists, and plant people had the chance to see radiata pine forests in the Marlborough Sounds, eucalyptus for durable post-production, amenity plantings for farms, and machinery to harvest trees safely on steep land. . .

Lorneville rendering plant commissioned:

LEADING MEAT processor and exporter Alliance Group has completed commissioning the second stage of its $25 million new rendering plant at Lorneville near Invercargill.

The plant produces high quality meat meal sought by pet food manufacturers and for animal feeds, as well as tallow for use in a range of applications from cosmetics to biofuels. The products are exported to international markets such as China, North America, Europe and Asia.

It incorporates the latest technology including a Press Dewatering System, which uses less energy and produces high quality products. The process, is virtually “zero waste”, resulting in high product yields and low wastewater output. . .

Food safety professional development:

AN INCREASINGLY sophisticated food industry stemming from the globalised nature of food production also means more complex issues around food safety and security.

With New Zealand’s heavy reliance on exporting primary produce, this demands robust knowledge and constant up-skilling in the processes and requirements of food safety and security by industry professionals.

Lincoln University, through its Centre for Food Research and Innovation, is now running a series of ongoing professional development courses for those in the food industry. . .

New DairyNZ director appointed:

A new independent director has been appointed to the board of dairy farming industry body, DairyNZ.

DairyNZ board chairman John Luxton says Peter Schuyt has been appointed to replace independent director John Spencer who has stepped down after his term on the board. “I thank John for his excellent contribution to both DairyNZ and to the New Zealand dairy industry over many years.”

John says Peter will be a valuable addition to the board.

“We have three independent directors as well as five farmer-elected members. Peter will bring some broad experience to the table as he is an independent director for a broad range of New Zealand businesses,” he says. . .

Aquaculture New Zealand welcomes Supreme Court decision:

Aquaculture New Zealand has welcomed the long awaited Supreme Court decision clearing the way for three new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

“It has been a long, expensive and uncertain process to get to this point,” said Aquaculture New Zealand Chairman Bruce Hearn.

“Hopefully we are now at a point where New Zealand King Salmon can proceed with their growth plans and get on with what they do best – sustainably producing the world’s best salmon. . .


Winning over public vital

April 4, 2012

Farmers are hard-working, entrepreneurial risk taking business people.

That’s how most of us in the industry see them. But that this isn’t necessarily the general perception because the biggest enemy for farming is emotion:

Dairy farmers need to win the emotions of the public if they are to reach their potential, says a top manager at DairyNZ.

About 300 farmers, investors and researchers heard the latest on dairying at the NZ Dairy Business Conference in Palmerston North last week. The conference was organised by dairy farmers for farmers.

DairyNZ’s manager of sustainability Rick Pridmore said a major threat to dairying was poor perception, which could restrict future growth, and its reputation on the international market.

“How do we turn that into an opportunity – the biggest enemy is emotion,” he said.

“Public perception is largely based on emotion.”

The way to combat that was to remove poor performers and to deal with things such as animal welfare, nutrient run off and effluent management.

Just how strong those emotions are is illustrated by the editor’s note in this month’s Countrywide (not yet online).

Terry Brosnahan wrote about a conversation with a passenger on a plane which was civil until Terry said he edited a farming magazine:

At that point his demeanour changed and from him came a tirade of abuse towards farmers. to him farmers were greedy polluters who profiteered from the high price of milk and meat. They had little regard for struggling Kiwi families even though farmers had received millions in handouts from taxpayers for adverse climatic events. . .

This anti-farming rhetoric is nothing new (though never as intense). A growing number of city dwellers are expressing anti-farming sentiments as economic times get tougher and jealousy rears its ugly head. these are struggling middle-income earners.

They read about high farm product prices and think farmers are rolling  in drought. they know little of the sacrifices farmer s make and the capital they risk, that it takes good management skills to run a successful farming business . . .

That doesn’t matter because as Dr Pridmore said, emotion beats facts.

There are plenty of good news stories about farming but they’re generally on the rural pages of newspapers, and in specialist publications or programmes.

Country Calendar is the exception, a rural focussed television programme that airs in prime time and highlights good farmers and farming practices.

But too often the only farming stories which hit the headlines in general media are the negative ones which feed the stereotypes and fuel the anti-farming emotions.


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