Do you hear the people . . .

June 21, 2014

Protests by the usual suspects on the left aren’t unusual.

It takes a lot more than the usual disgruntlements to get other people on to the streets in any number which makes yesterday’s Don’t Damn the Dam rally a serious sign of popular support.

RivettingKate Taylor recorded the rally in words and photos:

CHB people gathered in Waipukurau in their droves this morning to support the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme. The dam.

I was going to say hundreds of people lined the streets, but I really have no way of quantifying how many people were there. Watch the news tonight – they might tell you. Suffice to say, in Kate terms, there were lots and lots.

Farmers, bankers, fertiliser reps, spreader drivers and two former regional councillors Ewan McGregor and Kevin Rose, who are probably secretly glad the decision is not up to them anymore.

There were tractors, utes, motorbikes, stock trucks and a few huntaways. . .

After clogging up the state highway system for a wee while, the vehicle possession (bigger than the annual Christmas parade but no Santa!!) parked up and the “green space” on “post office corner” was filled with claps and cheers for Mr Streeter and Mr Heaton, HB Federated Farmers president Will Foley and local fifth-generation farmer (and CHBDC district councillor) Andrew Watts. We also heard from someone from Timaru who had seen the growth in South Canterbury from the Opuha dam and resulting irrigation systems. . . .

I think the someone from Timaru was Federated Farmers vice president William Rolleston.

Feds is firmly behind the project, but Hawkes Bay provincial president Will Foley is concerned about nutrient limits:

Last month, Massey’s Dr Mike Joy told a Canterbury audience, “The nitrate toxicity in some waterways is 10 times the safe level already. We have gone from safe levels of 1.9 millilitres a litre, to 3.8ml/l in Canterbury.”

With the Tukituki Board of Inquiry proposing a limit of 0.8 milligrams per litre for dissolved inorganic nitrogen, it would seem contradictory, but its draft decision is about a very different limit – what it believes is good for ecosystem health.  And on the nitrate toxicity score, the draft National Objectives Framework has set 6.9ml/l as the bottomline and the Tukituki is not even remotely close. 

So let’s park Dr Joy and focus on what we all want to achieve for the Tukituki. 

That means remembering why we started out in the first place.  It was to tackle an algae that’s been with us forever called Periphyton.  Everyone agrees it’s a problem so what’s the solution?

We get Periphyton because the Tukituki is a rocky river running warm during summer low flows.  Its growth is exacerbated by nitrogen and phosphorus so Hawke’s Bay Regional Council came up with a three-pronged approach hitting phosphorus, managing nitrogen and increasing water flows. 

In all the debate since, this environmental solution with strong economic benefits has been parked out of sight.

You can only increase water flow during summer by storing rainwater and that’s where Ruataniwha comes in.  This extra water helps to cool the Tukituki during summer while flushing it of Periphyton.  That’s been the experience of South Canterbury’s Opuha scheme on a similar river. 

We’ve had a similar improvement in the Waiareka Creek from the North Otago Irrigation Company scheme.

It used to be little more than a series of stagnant ponds. Now with guaranteed minimum flows from irrigation water it runs clean and wildlife has re-established.

Another experience is the economic boon Opuha has been to South Canterbury.

Yet during the Board of Inquiry, Dr Joy’s colleague Dr Death, helped to shift the focus off Periphyton and towards the stream life of rivers using a model developed for the Manawatu; a very different river to our Tukituki. Arguably, that’s how a limit of 0.8mg/l entered the minds of the Board of Inquiry, but how many invertebrates found in water doesn’t correlate to any one nutrient. 

Ironically, it was Fish and Game’s Corina Jordan who confirmed that while nitrogen and clearly phosphorus have impacts, so does river flow, sediment, light intensity and temperature.  The upshot being that there is no straight line relationship between a limit of 0.8mg/l and invertebrate health. 

Farmers like me are not in denial because Federated Farmers is okay with having a number, but that number must be an indicator and not chiselled into granite.  Especially since that number was derived from a model not validated for the Tukituki River and especially since Dr Death’s use of the Macroinvertebrate Community Index happens to be an indicator itself.

The Hawke’s Bay community needs a solution but the proposed limit of 0.8mg/l is so blunt, it makes Ruataniwha untenable. 

The Port of Napier is right to call Ruataniwha a game changer for the entire Hawke’s Bay region.  Before Ruataniwha’s viability was compromised we were talking about a quarter of a billion dollar boost each and every year.  If 0.8 remains as a hard limit, it not only kills the dam but means the region going forward will become $50 million poorer each year.  

Unless 0.8 becomes an indicator it will seriously compromise all the farming we currently have.  We’re not just talking sheep and beef but the guys who grow crops, the guys who run orchards, those who milk and even the guys who grow the grapes our region is famous for.

A hard limit of 0.8 means no Ruataniwha leaving us with Periphyton, a worsening economy and increasingly, rivers suffering from ever lower and warmer flows due to drought.  If farms convert to forestry we can possibly add sediment to that list.  Can anyone tell me what the environmental or community upside is? 

Dr Doug Edmeades wrote recently, “the best pieces of advice I was given as a young scientist: ‘Edmeades, I do not give a damn for your opinion what are the facts.”  Opinion seems the basis for 0.8mg/l but it is fact that it’s 14 times more stringent than the international standard for drinking water.  Don’t damn our dam.

Water storage and the irrigation it enables can improve both water quantity and quality.

It provides recreational opportunities and a significant economic boost. Farmers will make the biggest investment and take the biggest risk but as the people rallying yesterday obviously realise the benefits will flow right through the community in more jobs and more business opportunities with the economic and social boost that will bring.

The people of Hawkes Bay spoke through their support for the rally yesterday.

The Regional Council will show whether or not it heard them when it makes it decision on supporting the project, or not.


Rural round-up

June 16, 2013

Fieldays: Price rebound tempered – Terry Brosnahan:

Lamb prices will average $95/head for the season and milksolids will be about $6.80/kg ANZ economist Con Williams predicts.

Williams told a seminar audience at the National Fieldays the lamb crop is estimated to be 6-10% down because of fewer breeding ewes and a lower lambing percentage. This means less supply than in the 2011-12 season but globally it won’t mean the prices will be as high as back then. A 17.5kg lamb will be worth $5.40-6/kg or more depending on the size of the lamb crop and procurement behaviour. . .

Fieldays: Kiwi-German technology boosts NZ dairying – Richard Rennie:

The expansion of German giant GEA Farm Technologies in the dairy sector has brought a cross pollination of research and innovation aimed at boosting farm productivity.

This year’s Mystery Creek National Fieldays marked the giant corporation’s first with two New Zealand dairy businesses under its wings.

These were milking equipment company Milfos and hygiene-identification company FIL.

The acquisition of NZ-owned Milfos last year means GEA is represented now in all aspects of dairy operation, from dairy shed equipment to animal identification for mating. . .

Whey powder message is starting to sink in – Richard Rennie:

Telling a compelling case about how a high-grade whey powder can deliver healthier, heavier and ultimately more productive calves requires clearing a few hurdles.

It’s a tough ask, compared sometimes to selling coal to Newcastle, in a country where conventional fat-based milk powder dominates rearing practice.

However, with the industry seeking more productive livestock, it appears AgriVantage managing director Warren Tanner may be hitting the right notes with his whey powder range. . .

Avery NZ”s top ag communicator – RivettingKate Taylor:

Marlborough farmer Doug Avery is willing to talk to anyone about integrating lucerne into pastoral systems to achieve a leap in productivity and profitability.

His enthusiasm and ability in communicating how he has achieved this with spectacular results on his own property have won him the 2013 Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year. . . .

On your plates – KR Connect:

Food trucks, foam, farm-to-table – these are all trends that have influenced what and how we eat over the years, but while some are going strong, others are fading away. Fortunately, there will always be new innovations to keep us eating. Here are five that you may be soon seeing on your plates. . . .


Rural round-up

June 11, 2013

Winning farm proud but aims to be better still:

Tarawera Station, winner of the Maori excellence in sheep and beef farming title, says it’s proud to have received the title, but there’s still room for improvement.

The winner of the Ahuwhenua Trophy was announced on Friday night.

Te Awahohonu Forest Trust’s Tarawera Station, which is 60 kms northwest of Napier edged out two other finalists. . .

Te Kuiti shepherd wins inaugural Moari Young farmer Award:

Young Te Kuiti shepherd named as inaugural winner in Ahuwhenua Young Māori Sheep & Beef Farmer of the year competition

Jordan Smith, a young shepherd working on the Kearins Bros Limited farm in Te Kuiti has been announced as the inaugural winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Sheep & Beef Farmer of the Year award in the Hawke’s Bay tonight. . .

Distribution deal launches value-added dairy product into Japanese market:

New Zealand-based dairy biotechnology company, Quantec Ltd, announced today that it has signed a distribution and supply agreement with a major Japanese specialty ingredients company, Kanematsu Chemicals Corporation.

Kanematsu will distribute Quantec’s patented complex of bioactive milk proteins, called IDP®, throughout Japan.

In a deal that is expected to extend over a number of years, the distribution agreement gives Quantec an expansion opportunity into a key Asian market and provides Kanematsu with access to a unique New Zealand dairy-based bioactive protein ingredient for inclusion into Japanese functional foods and human health products. . .

Bulls in the rain – rivettingKate taylor:

Black bulls everywhere this afternoon – if you were in the same paddocks as me near Norsewood!

I was taking photos at the annual Mt Mable Angus bull sale at Pukerimu – home to Kevin and Megan Friel.

It was a tad wet at times when viewing the bulls before the sale…

Three successful years of Primary Growth Partnership marked:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have marked three years of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) at a function at Parliament tonight.

“The PGP invests in research and innovation to boost productivity in New Zealand’s farming, forestry and food sectors,” Mr Guy says. “This will mean more exports, jobs and better environmental outcomes as well.”

“The Government and industry have so far committed $658 million of multi-year funding for 13 projects.  The potential benefit to the wider economy from these projects is over $7 billion per year from 2025.

“Some examples of current projects include red meat sector collaboration, manuka honey trials, harvesting trees from steep land, improving the precision of seafood catches, and selective breeding of greenshell mussels. . .

Guaranteed Milk Price Set At $7:

Fonterra has confirmed that the Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) for the 2013/14 season pilot will be $7.00 per kgMS, following the announcement of its opening Milk Price forecast for the season.

Earlier this year the Co-operative announced a GMP pilot programme allowing farmers to lock in a milk price announced at the beginning of a season for up to 75 per cent of their milk supply. With strong interest shown from farmer shareholders, Fonterra is looking for around 200 farms to take part.

Fonterra’s Director of Commodity Risk and Trading, Bruce Turner, says ideally they are looking for a broad base of farmers who are at different stages of their farm’s operations, have varying herd sizes and are located across the country. . .

Discuss the state of NZ’s agricultural sectors at Fieldays:

The Ministry for Primary Industries will present a snapshot of the current position of New Zealand’s agricultural sectors at a free seminar at National Fieldays this week.

An MPI speaker will outline the main conclusions from the Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) including the significant and long-reaching affects of the recent drought, the upcoming reform in water management, and a view of the areas for largest potential growth within the agricultural sectors. . .

Lifting the performance of Maori agribuisness:

The Ministry for Primary Industries will host a free seminar on Friday 14 June at National Fieldays on its work to lift the performance of Māori agribusiness.

Māori agribusiness is a government priority, and MPI has work under way partnering with Māori to support them in maximising the sustainable use of their primary sector assets.

“There is a discernable shift happening in the ownership and management of Māori freehold land,” says MPI Director General Wayne McNee. “Māori landowners are taking a more active approach to fully capitalise on huge gains possible by increasing the productivity and profitability of assets, and by making the most of opportunities to develop the value of its primary produce. . . .


Rural round-up

April 12, 2013

New vehicle rules will reduce cost for rural sector:

New rules for agricultural vehicles will reduce compliance costs while maintaining safety standards, says Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse.

Mr Woodhouse has signed changes to Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999 and seven other Land Transport Rules that will offer agricultural vehicle owners improved compliance and greater operational flexibility from 1 June 2013.

“This Government recognises that the primary sector remains the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy and we want to remove unnecessary costs and red tape,” says Mr Woodhouse.

The Ministry of Transport estimates that changes will result in a net benefit of $51 million over 25 years. . .

Great white butterfly not pretty – RivettingKate Taylor:

Federated Farmers has put out a warning about a significant new pest threat – the great white butterfly.

What is it?

It is a significant pest of brassica vegetable crops. Its caterpillars feed voraciously on host plants reducing them to a skeleton. In New Zealand, it poses a major threat to commercial and animal forage brassica vegetable crops.  It could also have serious consequences for the survival of many of New Zealand’s 79 native cress species. . .

86% vote supports forest levy:

A referendum of forest growers has shown strong support for a levy on harvested forest products.

“We have been given the thumbs-up to introduce a funding system that will provide greater certainty, equity and commitment for activities that benefit all growers, such as research, promotion and forest health,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.

“At this stage, we expect the levy to be introduced on 1 January 2014.” . . .

Building innovation into Marlborough’s food and beverage sector:

The untapped potential of Marlborough’s primary sector, if cleverly exploited, could take this region out in front of the field as an export earner according to a report prepared for the Marlborough Research Centre (MRC).

The research, examining the prospects for innovation with existing primary products, suggests that these industries could be transformed, said MRC chief executive Gerald Hope.

“There’s enormous scope for products which are health and performance oriented. It’s about turning smart ideas and clever science into new products and processes which will meet the expectations of the future,” said Mr Hope. . .

After A Hot, Dry Summer Green Beans Up There With Tomatoes And Wine:

Wattie’s Canterbury green bean crop has, like its sister crop of tomatoes in Hastings, relished the benefits of the country’s hot, dry summer, which has also been experienced by the wine industry.

Harvesting and processing of the beans is scheduled to finish this week, and Wattie’s South Island Agricultural Manager Mark Daniels reports excellent yields and blemish-free quality.

“Our bean crop has thrived under the hot dry conditions and we are finishing slightly ahead of schedule compared with recent years. . .

GIMBLETT GRAVELS – the best of both worlds?:

Is it possible to make world class wines from Syrah and Bordeaux varietals grown in the same area?

In France, you would have to drive almost 500km between Bordeaux and the Northern Rhone. Yet in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, GIMBLETT GRAVELS wines from these grape varieties – growing, literally, side by side in an area less than 800 hectares (2000 acres) – continue to receive acclaim from leading international wine critics.

Each year, the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association (GGWA) releases to key wine influencers a limited number of their Annual Vintage Selection, comprising an independent selection of the members’ red wines that best represent the given vintage. The current 2010 vintage, selected by Andrew Caillard MW, comprises nine blended reds (from Bordeaux varieties) and three Syrah’s. . .


Rural round-up

March 29, 2013

Broaden Your Skills And See The Results – Farm Business Management Program Now Open:

Farmers looking to broaden their business knowledge to make their farm enterprise reach ‘the next level’ should apply for the Rabobank Executive Development Program, according to a recent program graduate, Guy Melville, of ‘Kairangaroa Pastoral’, Taihape in the North Island.

Applications have officially opened for the 2013 year intake of prestigious Rabobank Executive Development Program which gives leading Australian and New Zealand, farmers from a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Now in its fourteenth year, the program covers all aspects of rural enterprise management to help drive sustainable business growth, including strategic goal setting, negotiating and people management. . .

Brother and Sister claim top title in Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Outstanding management of their “high input, very sustainable farming system” has earned Kokopu siblings Shayne and Charmaine O’Shea the Supreme Award in the 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Shayne and Charmaine’s dairy farm, 12km west of Whangarei, was described by Ballance Farm Environment Award (BFEA) judges as an aesthetically-pleasing, well-presented property that achieves excellent production at minimal cost to the environment.

“All aspects of the business are sustainable and profitable and there is a clear balance between the financial performance of the operation, followed by the environment and socially sustainable aspects.” . . .

Possible meat industry solution proposed nearly 30 years ago – Allan Barber:

In 1985 the Meat Industry Council commissioned a report from consultancy firm, Pappas Carter Evans & Koop, entitled Cost Competitiveness in Export Meat Processing which proposed a solution to the problems of the industry. Unfortunately, in view of the history of the industry since then, the recommendations were never implemented.

There were two key recommendations, the main one being the introduction of a tradable killing rights scheme to encourage the stronger competitors to take volume from the weaker companies or plants which would then close; the second recommendation was to abolish averaging of transportation schemes and to reduce meat inspection costs through structural and policy changes. . .

Smedley field day – Awesome – RivettingKate Taylor:

We hosted the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards field day on Smedley Station and Cadet Training farm in Central HB yesterday.

It was a great day hosted by East Coast supreme winners Terry and Judy Walters, apart from the fact it wasn’t postponed due to rain (which obviously we would have been pleased about). . .

Global warming fat-cats exploiting drought-stricken NZ farmers’ misery – Lord Monckton:

Lord Christopher Monckton has hit out at those using the current drought situation in New Zealand and its serious economic effects on a number of farming families to further the cause of man-made global warming.

“It is repellent that shameless global-warming profiteers in government, the universities and some media are exploiting the misery and hardship of New Zealand’s farmers by fraudulently blaming the current severe drought on non-existent global warming”, he says.

“As the science and economics behind the climate scare continue to collapse, these whining fat-cats should be made to repay every penny they have extracted from taxpayers.” . . .

The evolution of freshwater management under the RMA – Nicola de Wit:

The enactment of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) combined around 70 pieces of legislation into one central environmental planning statute. The integration of a number of fragmented regimes was a significant step forward for environmental management in New Zealand. The RMA was also significant for its incorporation of the principle of sustainability; the purpose of the RMA is to promote the ‘sustainable management’ of natural and physical resources.

The RMA is consistently described as world-leading legislation – so why has freshwater quality been declining so rapidly in our lowland streams and rivers?

The Act contains two key protections for water. First, it allows people to take and use water for their reasonable domestic needs and to provide drinking water for animals, but it prevents people from using water for any other purpose, unless permitted by a regional plan or a resource consent. Secondly, it prevents any person from discharging a contaminant into water, or onto land where it is likely to enter water, unless allowed by a regional plan or resource consent. . .


Rural round-up

March 24, 2013

Biological control agents vary in results:

A review of the history of the biological control agents introduced to combat weeds in New Zealand has found some have produced incredible results.

Others, however, were next to useless.

Dr Max Suckling is science group leader of biosecurity at Plant and Food Research and his latest work has taken a look at the benefits of biological control introduction in the country.

He says while the success of the different biological controls introduced varies greatly – some have been game changers. . .

Willow and poplar feed stock during drought:

A North Island farm forester is urging drought-afflicted farmers who have run out of feed for their stock to take a leaf out of his book and feed them foliage from trees.

Manawatu Whanganui Regional Council has highlighted the benefits of willows and poplars in particular as a source of nutritious supplementary feed. . .

Seven-Time Entrants Win Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Awards:

Pahiatua farmers Shaun and Kate Mitchell can finally claim the 2013 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title after entering seven times and placing runners-up last year.

The couple won $16,400 in cash and prizes at the region’s Dairy Industry Awards dinner at Copthorne Solway, in Masterton, last night. The other big winners were Bart and Tineke Gysbertsen, the 2013 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Farm Managers of the Year, and Ken Ahradsen, the Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Mitchells say they have entered the awards multiple times due to the benefits of the feedback they have received. “It’s helped us to get a better understanding of our business and goals. The awards has also brought us out of our comfort zone and given us an opportunity to meet and interact with like-minded people.” . .

and now it’s the dairy industry awards – RivettingKate Taylor:

Guess where I have been tonight….. Masterton – watching the Hawke’s Bay Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards (and taking the photos). . .

Contest Makes Dairy Awards Winner Better Farmer:

Entering the 2013 Manawatu/Rangitikei/Horowhenua Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year contest has made its winner, Richard McIntyre, better at what he does.

Mr McIntyre, who won $13,500 in cash and prizes, says he entered the Dairy Industry Awards to have his farm business analysed, with weaknesses highlighted and solutions found. “Essentially, it makes us better at what we do.”

The other big winners were Michael and Raewyn Hills, the 2013 Manawatu/Rangitikei/Horowhenua Farm Managers of the Year and Nic Verhoek, the Dairy Trainee of the Year. All winners are farming at Feilding and were announced at the region’s awards dinner held at Awapuni Racecourse, near Palmerston North, last night . .

“Extreme Barbecue” A Recipe For Market Success:

Combine New Zealand lamb with 40 keen foodies, a celebrity chef, some heavy-duty barbecue equipment, spectacular alpine scenery… and a forecast for snow. What have you got? Winter Grillcamp – a Beef + Lamb New Zealand promotion in Germany.

The event last week launched the farmer organisation’s new season PR programme in Northern Europe. It targeted two key market groups: upwardly mobile young men and women with a keen interest in cooking healthy but delicious food.

“Hosting a barbecue in zero temperatures at the top of Germany’s highest mountain may seem extreme, but we wanted to do something out of the ordinary,” says Nick Beeby, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Market Manager, Emerging Markets. . .

More drought pics – RivettingKate Taylor:

These were taken before we had 57mm of rain on Monday and Tuesday.

Friends up at Te Pohue had only 11mm.

It may have rained but the fat lady has seriously left the stage. . .

2013 a dream vintage so far for Bay wine industry:

The superlatives are coming thick and fast as the Hawke’s Bay wine industry gets underway with the 2013 grape harvest, with many believing this could be the “vintage of the century”.

“It’s a dream vintage,” says Tony Bish, chief winemaker for Sacred Hill and chairman of Gimblett Gravels Winegrower Association. “It’s been an awesome season, one we don’t get often enough. The fruit is early, ripe and clean; everything we would want.”

For Peter Gough, senior winemaker and viticulturist with Ngatarawa the lack of stress has meant there is a buoyancy of spirit across the industry this year. “There is no disease pressure so we aren’t picking because we have to, it’s when we want, based on flavour. It’s a winemaker’s dream.” . . .


Rural round-up

March 14, 2013

Push for rural health alliance to tackle farmer depression:

A rural doctors representative wants a new health alliance to make a commitment to tackling rural depression.

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand, which was formed last year, will hold its first AGM on Wednesday afternoon in the run up to the annual Rural General Practice Network conference in Rotorua this week. . .

Urgent decisions due for Sharemilkers and Sharemilker Employers:

Federated Farmers is warning Sharemilkers and Sharemilker employers that with drought now widespread, they need to urgently sit down and jointly plan the close of the 2012/13 season.

“Forget about how you handled the last drought because this one is significantly different,” says Tony Wilding, Federated Farmers Sharemilker Employers’ Section Vice-Chairperson.

“These are not normal drought conditions as there is little feed in the whole of the North Island to fall back upon. There are very few places where farmers can send stock to which has enough grass even in the South Island.

“Federated Farmers urges all sharemilkers and those who engage sharemilkers to sit down and plan for the close of the season. Both sides of the business relationship need to figure out how they can best manage today’s situation to prevent further damage or compromise next season’s production. . .

Sheep and beef farmers support PGP collaboration programe:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers have agreed to co-fund the ‘Collaboration for Sustainable Growth Red Meat Primary Growth Partnership’, following a farmer vote held at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Annual Meeting in Wanaka last week.

Electionz.com, which managed the vote on behalf of B+LNZ, has advised that the resolution was passed with 77% support from 2746 participating votes. The weighted voting percentage represents 21.3% of the potential total weighted vote based on sheep (31.2m head), beef (3.74 m head), and dairy (6.46 m head) livestock numbers at 30 June 2012.

B+LNZ Chairman, Mike Petersen said that following the funding commitment from the Government and industry partners, the positive farmer vote paves the way for the programme to proceed. . .

Meat sector takes huge step forward in supporting PGP

The strong farmer support for Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s co-funding of the Collaboration for Sustainable Growth Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme shows the entire red meat industry is on track toward a brighter future, says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson.

“This PGP will provide a huge amount of investment in ways farmers can directly increase their productivity and returns through their own efforts, so it is very heartening that Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s co-funding resolution was supported,” Mrs Maxwell says.

“Federated Farmers saw the potential in this partnership and more than three quarters of the sheep and beef farmers who voted agreed.

“While the red meat sector is having a tough season with drought now adding to the stress of lower prices, I am confident this scheme could mean we do not face such dire seasons in the future. . .

Drought bites – RivettingKateTaylor:

It’s getting worse.

I have been holding off writing about the drought, but now I want to tempt the rain. It’s like watering the garden and then it rains. Only this time it’s not. And it’s not. And it’s not.

We are so lucky we are only on a lifestyle block. The pet sheep and calfie are not impressed by the dry, but they will survive, as will we with off-”farm” income. . .

Minister meets Brazilian counterpart – opportunities in the ‘giant of Latin America‘:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy was impressed by the size and scale of Brazilian agriculture when he met with Brazilian Agriculture Minister Mendes Ribeiro Filho in Brasilia today, at the end of a nine-day trade mission to Latin America led by Prime Minister John Key.

“In meeting with my counterpart I outlined the expertise, innovation, and efficiency which characterises New Zealand’s agricultural sector,” says Mr Guy.

“With New Zealand’s world-leading expertise, and Brazil’s land and location, there are plenty of opportunities for our countries to collaborate and work more closely together.

“During the meeting I stressed that New Zealand and Brazil should try to work in partnership as agricultural exporters to reduce trade barriers and ease trade restrictions.” . . .

Fonterra launches Mainland cheese in Malaysia:

Fonterra Brands Malaysia’s launch of Mainland Cheese in Malaysia signals the strengthening trade links between New Zealand and South-East Asia, Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce says.

Minister Joyce today launched the Mainland Cheese brand at a New Zealand Gala event in Kuala Lumpur.

“Over the last five years, Fonterra Brands Malaysia’s business in South East Asia has doubled, which shows the increasing demand for New Zealand dairy products, and the growing opportunities for New Zealand export companies in the region,” Mr Joyce says.

The launch coincides with New Zealand Week in Malaysia, a series of business and education events to lift the profile of New Zealand as an education destination, and to promote business and investment opportunities. . .


Rural round-up

March 13, 2013

The big dry – Groping Towards Bethlehem:

We’re in a drought. Pastures are drying out, stock are stressed, and Wellington now has water restrictions (very mild water restrictions, it must be said).

The costs are being toted up. The figures being tossed around are in the $1 to $2 billion range (0.5% to 1.0% of GDP, roughly), which compares to agriculture being ~10% of GDP. If it hits lambing or breeding stock, the impacts could go on past this season. Given the weak economic recovery, there are concerns about moving back into recession.

The drought is, of course, a lack of water. But really, it’s a lack of insurance. By insurance, I mean information and infrastructure that protect us from downside risk. There isn’t enough of that around water in New Zealand, and no wonder. We haven’t needed it. But this year we do, and climate change is expected to increase the variability of weather and make ‘insurance’ more important. . .

Water governance and the RMA – Steve Couper at Waiology:

Deteriorating water quality is consistently rated by many New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern. Their concern is well placed. Some of our lowland waterways are now so badly polluted that the ‘clean green’ brand we promote is being actively challenged.

The evidence for declining environmental health in these waterways is strong. Monitoring 77 sites along 35 rivers, the National River Water Quality Network (NRWQN) shows an overall decline in water quality since its inception in 1989. While the bulk of this deterioration has been caused by diffuse pollution from intensification of agricultural land use, the waterways running through our urban environments are the most degraded. Urban dwellers are in no position to point the finger at “dirty dairying.” . . .

Drought backdrop to disaster research seminars:

Farmers digging in for the reality of a long drought will also have to face the implications of such dry spells on their lifestyle off the land too.

Massey University clinical psychologist Dr Sarb Johal, from the Joint Centre for Disaster Research says the likely recurrence of drought conditions in future farming seasons would not only cause a transition in the management of land and water use but also in the way farmers mentally handled challenges set to affect everything from economic productivity to leisure time.

Dr Johal is among other emergency management specialists gathering at Massey Wellington campus this week for a series of seminars addressing issues around preparing for and responding to natural disaster. . .

Drought could push farm businesses close to the wall – James Houghton:

After meeting with Ministry for Primary Industries representatives on Friday, I am pretty confident that a medium-scale adverse-event drought will be declared for Waikato and much of the upper North Island soon. While any drought declaration would be a relief for farmers, the reality is we need rain, stat.

Some of us have been reluctant to call for an official declaration, because farmers do not want to be seen as bludgers. In fact, we do not get any more help than any other sector struck by a natural adverse event.

There is enough science supporting that this weather is out of the ordinary. However, with this being the third drought declaration since 2008, we could be seeing the start of a worrying trend. . .

NZ wins tri-nations:

The 2013 Pure South Butchery Tri Nations has been taken out by New Zealand’s Wedderburn Sharp Blacks.

The team beat last year’s champions, Australia, and newcomers, Britain, to take the winners spot.

Taking a side of beef and a whole lamb, each team had to use the product to create a butchery display within a two-hour timeframe.

“The pressure was definitely on. We’ve put a lot of work into this competition and it feels great to walk away with the result we were after,” Wedderburn Sharp Blacks Captain Corey Winder said.

“Being on our home turf created the perfect setting for an unforgettable experience.” . .

Young Farmer time again – RivettingKate Taylor:

Okay now I am starting to feel old.

There was a time when I knew everyone (technically, not EVERYone) in Young Farmers, not just in my region, but around the country. Now, as the press releases roll in with the 2013 finalists, they’re just too young! I spoke to a young farmers meeting the other day with another hat on and some of them probably weren’t alive when I joined!

Not just from national conference, but the Young Farmer Contest.. I remember (just to name drop a bit….) when a friend Warwick Catto won in Hastings in1995 (Thomas and I were on the organising committee as well and Warwick is now high on the management list at Ballance Agri-Nutrients), our farming friends Shaun Baxter from the mighty East Coast in 1997 and Callum Thomsen in 2007. Some of them I don’t remember as such but the names are familiar to many in agribusiness in NZ – Young Farmers CEO Richard Fitzgerald was third in 1995, Philip Reid of Southland radio fame won in 1996, Waikato Federated Farmers chairman James Houghton (I think) was second in 1998 (yes Steve Hines, I’ll mention you too cos you won that year!) Paul McGill was in two Grand Finals – he’s just finished a stint as Wairarapa Feds chairman. . .

And Hat Tip CoNZervative:

Image

Townie: “What are those filing cabinets in the field?

Rural hick: “We need to keep accurate records of every sheep.”


Wyn-Harris wins Ag communicator of year

June 15, 2012

Hawke’s Bay farmer Steve Wyn-Harris has won the 2012  Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year title.

I am not sure if this is the first time the award has gone to a practicing farmer but there’s no doubt his communication is built on first-hand experience in farming.

Wyn-Harris started his farming career in 1985 when he bought 180 hectares in Central Hawke’s Bay, adding several other blocks over the years, so he and his wife now have 350ha.  The properties carry high performance breeding ewes, including a coopworth sheep stud that uses latest technology such as sire referencing, AI and gene identification.  Bull beef makes up 40% of the stock carried and 15% of the property is planted in forestry, and areas of amenity and native plantings are scattered over all the farms.  He has won a number of farming awards over the years, most recently last year when the farm took out the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award.

However, it is because of his commentaries about farming, farming industries and agricultural sciences that he took out this year’s Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award.   He is a broadcaster with his own local radio show and is a regular on the national Farming Show.  He is a long-standing columnist, and has been contributing weekly columns for many years, well over 660 so far, and currently appears in The NZ Farmers Weekly.

Steve was selected by an independent panel of 10 judges ahead of several other very worthy recipients to receive this prestigeous award, which was announced at an Awards Dinner in Hamilton last night.

The Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award is administered by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, and recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues, events or information.

Regarded as the premier award for agricultural communicators, it is also the most valuable prize on offer. Landcorp provides a prize of $2,500, which is part of a funding package of $7,500 in sponsorship for the Guild. . . 

Guild President, Jon Morgan, said Steve is a worthy recipient of the award this year.  His columns, comments, presentations at conferences cover an extensive range of topics, but his style remains the same, relaxed, whimsical and often humourous.   “He is widely respected as an excellent farmer,  but has that rare gift of communications that crosses all areas of rual life.”

Morgan, who is the Dominion Posts’s farming editor was last year’s winner.

Hat tip: RivettingKateTaylor


Winner proof you don’t have to be one to be one

May 28, 2012

Young farmers used to have a recruitment slogan you don’t have to be one to be one.

It was aimed at attracting people who weren’t farmers but would enjoy and contribute to the organisation.

I don’t think they use the slogan any more but the winner of this year’s National Bank Young Farmer contest, Michael Lilley, is proof it still applies.

He’s a rural vet, though he grew up on a farm and hopes to combine his vet work with farming in the future.

He’s not only an example you don’t have to be a farmer to be in Young Farmers, but also that farming by itself isn’t the only road to farming.

Some people use dairying to save enough to invest in another business and some like Michael, use another career to help them into farming.

RivettingKate Taylor has more on the contest here.


Young Farmer Grand Final

May 26, 2012

The 44th National Bank Young Farmer Contest Grand Final opened in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Since then contestants have had their intellectual and physical skills tested and tonight they face their final test.

Among them is  Northern’s representative, Katherine Tucker, who is only the third woman to reach a final.

Other contestants are Otago/Southland’s Pete Gardyne, Sam Williams from the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Region, Tasman’s Michael Lilley and Andrew Scott from the Aorangi Region, who have all reached the final before. the other two finalists are Tony Dowman from the East Coast Region and Taranaki/Manawatu’s Brad Lewis.

RivettingKateTaylor is there and has photos.


Two-faced resource consents

March 20, 2012

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills says:

. . . Local government is also an area where inconsistency reigns supreme.  Do you realise some local councils have a two-faced resource consent when it comes to managing wastewater disposal?  One is for business as usual, but the other is an ‘emergency consent’ when the system can’t cope as a result of heavy rain or even equipment failure.  No other individual, business or farm enjoys such a ‘get out of jail free’ card.  Yet two-faced resource consents have allowed some councils to starve core services of cash, such as critical wastewater upgrades.  Instead, ‘nice to have’ projects mean when the day of reckoning finally arrives, crippling rates result.. .

Farmers have been prosecuted for effluent spills that could get in to water ways, but haven’t while Councils can get away with actual pollution.

Hat tip: rivettingKateTaylor.


Did you see the one about . . .

January 23, 2012

Go back at RivettingKate Taylor – bad word, clever cartoon.

Building a cheese press at The Road to Raelands – latest post on a new (to me) blog – other posts have recipes including yoghurt and quark and buttermilk pot cheese and  biscuits.

Red flags of quackery – Sci-ence.og’s guide to spotting quacks. Hat tip: Sciblogs

Mere desire vs burning ambition – Not PC has a clip explaining the difference.

Every presentation ever – Whaleoil has a clip of where we’ve all been.

Calligrams – Visual Poetry and The Power of Visual Poetry – Destiny –  Look Up at the Sky makes wonderful word pictures.


Rural round-up

August 7, 2011

Landcare genetic scientist names recipient of entrepreneurship award – Esther G0h:

A genetic scientist has won the inaugural Women in Science Entrepreneurship Award, receiving $50,000 of venture development advice and access to an international advisory board with experience in science commercialisation.

Dr Dianne Gleeson, a director of DNA diagnostic facility EcoGene, says the award will encourage more women at top levels of the industry, where they are underrepresented.

“There is growing commercial demand for scientific services and women can make a valuable contribution to the development of the industry in New Zealand and overseas,” she said . . .

Managing irrigation compliance – Sally Rae:

For the North Otago Irrigation Company, environmental management is a “fundamental part” of its business.

“We need to embrace our environmental requirements and push towards full compliance. There’s no other option,” the company’s environmental co-ordinator, Jodi Leckie, said . . .

Quick call sees woman go country for long haul – Sally Rae:

When Nicole Amery returns to the bright lights of Auckland, she feels like a “possum in the headlights”.

The city no longer has any appeal for the young woman, who was brought up in a non-rural family on Waiheke Island.

A split-second decision to head south to Telford to undertake an equine course, rather than study design, turned out to be life-changing . . .

Better lamb crop this year – Gerald Piddock:

Signs are looking good for a bumper lamb crop in Central Canterbury as the first of the new season’s arrivals hit the ground on coastal farms and lifestyle blocks.

South Canterbury scanner Brian Bell has been scanning ewes every day for the past month. He is just over halfway through his assignments and, with about another six weeks to go.

Results were 5-10 per cent up on last year and farmers were reasonably happy, he said . . .

Arable farming shows positive signs – MAF:

Cropping farmers expect strong global commodity prices and increasing demand for dairy support to underpin a significant increase in returns over the coming year.

Many arable farmers had a profitable season last year, but there is increasing interest in converting some of their land to dairy which is still performing more strongly. . .

Meat supplies ready for World Cup – Hugh Stringleman:

Concerns that hungry Rugby World Cup visitors and rabid All Blacks fans will run short of good New Zealand red meat have eased, according to local market operators.

An extraordinary autumn and winter of grass growth have brought forward finished cattle, lambs and deer, while the high NZ dollar has helped the local market compete with export returns.

Because of the pick-up in the flow of prime cattle, the local market price has “come off the peak” and now sits at $4.25/kg, said Fred Hellaby, principal of the largest Auckland meat processor, Wilson Hellabys.

It is unusual for that indicator to go down heading into the seasonal period of shortest prime beef supply, not including the added Rugby World Cup demand . . .

Merinos go multi-purpose – Hugh Stringleman:

Substantial increases in prices are being offered to farmers by New Zealand Merino in two and three-year contracts for fine wool, soon to be followed by Merino meat contracts at attractive prices. The higher contract terms flowed on from the extraordinary increases in market prices for wool and lamb during the past 12 months, said NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge.

For him, after 15 years of unrelenting effort to create premium markets for Merino products, the latest surge repositions the sheep as a multi-purpose animal.

It was also a wonderful springboard for the $36 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) with the government, which was the first of its kind, signed in May 2010 . . .

Climate debate pits farmers against science – Jon Morgan:

Despite the best efforts of the Government and its officials, the opposition among farmers to the emissions trading scheme refuses to fade away.

Many would like to see the debate ended with the acceptance that the legislation – and the belief behind it that climate change is man-made – is indisputable.

But in the farming media the debate rages on. There, it is one- sided, with only the rare brave person willing to stand against an overwhelming opposition.

And, on the surface, the farmers have a point. Their animals’ burps and farts are to be taxed. Put like that, it is laughable . . .

Caring pasture based dairy farmers encourage biodiversity – Pasture to Profit:

Biodiversity on pasture based dairy farms is seriously important. If dairyfarmers are seen by the public to be caring for the environment & making a special effort to protect the biodiversity, this too is a major PR with our consumers. There are very strong arguments for farmers to protect biodiversity as well as enjoying it for its own sake. The farms are both our homes & our work places.

Ben & Jerry the ice cream makers have established the “Caring Dairy” Program with Sustainable Indicators. Most pasture based dairyfarmers would embrace this program & agree fully with the targets . . .  

Fruit and wine growers under pressure – MAF:

Many orchardists and winegrowers are feeling the pressure of lack of profitability or threat of disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has released the kiwifruit, pipfruit and winegrowing analyses as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The reports provide models and an overview of the financial performance of typical orchards and vineyards, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders. . .

Tough times for pip fruit growers – Jon Morgan:

The pipfruit industry is in serious financial strife, according to a senior industry figure.

John McCliskie, a Nelson grower and exporter and former chairman of the Apple and Pear Board and past chairman of the World Apple and Pear Association, told the Pipfruit NZ conference that bankers and international customers were starting to question the industry’s viability.

He told the growers, who were meeting in Havelock North yesterday, that they must change the industry’s strategy and alter the way they marketed their fruit . . .

Let’s give farming another kick – RivettingKate taylor:

So now’s it’s dangerous for me to bring my kids up on a farm? FOR GOODNESS SAKE (picture half a dozen strong words combined with a slow shake of the head and a grim mouth to match).

This story was on the radio this morning and it has now caught my attention on stuff.co.nz. According to the story, children raised on livestock farms have a greater risk of developing blood cancers later in life . . .

Reacting to the same story: Breaking news: farmers’ children don’t live forever – Andrei:

 Children of livestock farmers ‘face cancer risk’
 
Is there anything of usable value in this, probably not . . . 

The true nature of nature – Bruce Wills:

Some 80 years ago, pioneers started experimenting with artificial insemination to improve our livestock.  A big challenge they faced was how to get this time sensitive ‘product’ out to farms before couriers were commonplace.  Someone suggested carrier pigeons, but there were some obvious flaws.  Not every pigeon makes it to the right place on time and to our native hawk or Kahu, a pigeon is ‘meals on wings’. 

While times have moved on, the end result of this breeding refinement is now appearing on the nation’s farms. It’s the first sign of spring and some 150 days after the rams were let out in April, I’m now counting down the final four weeks.  Since calving comes around 283 days after last December’s mating, September is shaping up to be a busy month at my Hawke’s Bay farm, Trelinnoe. . .  

LIC set to pay record dividend – Owen Hembry:

NZAX-listed animal and farm improvement company LIC will pay a record dividend in a result chairman Stuart Bay says reflects the vibrancy of the farming industry.

Revenue at the dairy farmer co-operative for the year to May was up 21.4 per cent on the previous year at $165.6 million, with record underlying net earnings of $17.1 million, up 87.9 per cent.

The result would give farmer shareholders a record net dividend of $13.6 million, the company said . .

Ballance shareholders receive bumper rebate – Owen Hembry:

Fertiliser company Ballance Agri-Nutrients will pay a record rebate to it shareholders.

Operating profit for the year ended May 31 was $85.9 million, compared to $20.7 million the previous year. A record total average payment to shareholders of $50.29 a tonne included a rebate of $46 a tonne on fertiliser purchased and an imputed dividend of 10 cents a share, resulting in a total distribution of $49 million, the company said. . .

Federated farmers Waikato provincial president James Houghton takes issue with that in playing fast and loose with co-operation:

The news that fertiliser cooperative Ballance Agri-Nutrients is planning to pay a record rebate back to its shareholder farmers such as myself, was met with a few expletives around my area last week.

In the corporate world an $85.9 million operating profit, especially when up from $20.7 million the previous year would be great news.

In a co-operative though, it looks plain greedy. . .


Rural round-up

July 5, 2011

Young Farmer contest #5 Will Grayling – RivettingKate Taylor:

Photos make the world go around…. here’s a selection of photos of Will in action at the 2011 National Bank Young Farmer Contest in Masterton over the past week – Wednesday’s welcome at the Masterton Town Hall where Will’s likeness to Prince Harry was first mentioned; Thursday’s technical day at the historic Brancepeth homestead and the speech back at the Solway Copthorne; Friday’s practical challenges, head to head (s) and agrisports at the Solway Showgrounds and finally the evening show at the new Wairarapa College auditorium. . .

Politicos turn to the land – Sally Rae:

Everyone, it seems, is the farmer’s friend – after all, it is election year.

Act New Zealand leader Don Brash probably summed it up best at Federated Farmers national conference in Rotorua when he said those attending would be “enduring a procession of politicians”. . .

Fonterra to pour $250m into Darfield – Tim Cronshaw:

Dairy giant Fonterra wants to pour another $250 million into trebling milk production at its Darfield site with a new dryer vying to be the largest in New Zealand.

The co-operative entered talks about stage two of the project with neighbours at a community meeting yesterday and is about to begin the consent process. The plan is to have the second dryer built by 2015 as the $200m site, still being constructed, is expected to be at full capacity by then.

 German investors pay $33m for farm – Collette Devlin:

A German investment management company is now possibly the largest player in rural land in Southland after it spent $33million to buy a dairy farm at Dipton.

Aquila AgrarINVEST Investitions Gmbh was granted approval under the Overseas Investment Act to secure the acquisition of rights or interests in up to 100 per cent of the units of Glencairn Ltd Partnership, which owns or controls a freehold interest in 1401ha of an existing dairy farm. . .

Following role models could double NZ food production:

Following role models could double NZ food production

New Zealand could produce enough food to feed around 40 million people if every farm performed at the same level as the most profitable, said Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman, David Graham.

He was speaking at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards annual showcase held in the Hawke’s Bay on 25 June.

“New Zealand currently produces enough food to feed approximately 20 million people. We know our most profitable farms achieve an economic farming surplus of $3,500 per hectare, yet the average farm achieves just over $2,000 and about half of all farms are operating below this.

“To double the amount of people we can feed we must lift our production by working on assisting the bottom half of this bell curve to lift its game.” . . .

My word, look – speculation works – Tim Worstall:

This followed a report on Thursday that showed US farmers had planted more corn than analysts had expected and that stocks of the grain were higher than forecast across the US.

Corn futures fell more than 6pc on Friday, bringing the fall since a US report was issued to about 10pc. . .

The Great corn con – Steven Rattner:

FEELING the need for an example of government policy run amok? Look no further than the box of cornflakes on your kitchen shelf. In its myriad corn-related interventions, Washington has managed simultaneously to help drive up food prices and add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit, while arguably increasing energy use and harming the environment.

Even in a crowd of rising food and commodity costs, corn stands out, its price having doubled in less than a year to a record $7.87 per bushel in early June. Booming global demand has overtaken stagnant supply. . .

Hat tip:  Anti-Dismal


Will Grayling Young Farmer of Year

July 3, 2011

Will Grayling is the 2011 Young Farmer of the Year.

Twenty five year old Will from the Pendarves Club was representing the Aorangi Region. He’s a manager on a 1600 cow dairy farm in Ashburton and is due to marry Kim in December this year. He has a Masters of Applied Science from Lincoln University and was a first time Contestant at Grand Final level.

It didn’t look like it was going to be Will’s night earlier on and even he was worried that the title could be out of his grasp after he made some mistakes in the early question buzzer rounds.

“I thought it was slipping away several times – I got off to a rough start.”

In the end though, his all-round performance secured him the win; he took out the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge after delivering a presentation on the supply of colostrum earlier in the week. He received an AGMARDT Scholarship towards a career development programme valued at $15,000. He also won the Lincoln University Agri-growth Challenge, taking away a Lincoln University conference package for an industry related conference – domestically or internationally to the value of $8,000. It was a tight race though; Will won the Challenge by only .2 of a mark over Tim van de Molen.

Will also won a $62,000 Grand Final prize package that includes 12 month’s complimentary use of an Isuzu D-Max valued at approximately $15,000, a Honda TRX420FPM power steer four-wheel drive manual ATV $ valued at 15,000, $10,000 cash from The National Bank, quality products and services from Ravensdown to the value of $7,000, a selection of quality outdoor power equipment from ECHO to the value of $7,000, a Lincoln University scholarship for study towards a Specialist Masters of Professional Studies or entry to the Kellogg Programme valued at $5,000, an AGMARDT Scholarship towards a career development programme valued at $2,000 and a range of Swanndri clothing to the value of $1,000.Isuzu Agri-Sports winner – 12 month’s complimentary use of a Isuzu D-Max valued at $15,000.

RivettingKateTaylor has update #3 on the contest and update #4 with photos of the winner..

When my farmer was runner up in the 10th contest he won a Honda 90 motorbike. The winner, Steve Ryan who very sadly died about 10 years later, got a tractor and a trip round the world.

In those days, when there were fewer alternative social and leadership opportunites for rural youth, Young Farmers had about 7,000 members.

Membership dropped to about 1,500 a few years ago but that was its nadir. It has turned around and is increasing again.


Hopkins hanging up mic after 21 years as voice of Young Farmer Contest

July 2, 2011

The grand final of the National Bank Young Farmer contest tonight will be the last one for Jim Hopkins who’s been the voice of the contest for 21 years.

If you only ever watch the show on television you would have only got a glimpse of or a few words from Jim who commentates the practical day. It’s quite a challenge, requiring good knowledge of the contestants and what they’re doing as well as a sense of humour and quick wit.

Jim’s had to show a more serious side compeering the regional finals and he’s needed all his skills to warm up the audience before the filming of the grand final and keep them warmed up during sometimes long pauses in filming.

Jim’s left big gumboots to fill and the man tasked with filling them is Craig Wiggins  who has been  attending Regional Finals.

“I’m really looking forward to stepping into the role; it’s going to be great watching the Contestants improve over the years and to see our youth being further educated in agriculture.”

Craig, a former mechanic by trade, brings a long history of announcing to the role; he’s the main announcer for New Zealand Rodeo and travels the country announcing around 35 rodeos a year. Craig has also been a jet sprints commentator and has acted as Master of Ceremonies at many different events during his announcing career. He has television and radio experience as a result of his career too.

Originally off a 300 hectare sheep and beef unit in Raetihi, Craig now lives near Ashburton in Mid Canterbury on a 28 hectare horse training and dairy grazing property. Craig’s background in agriculture meant he jumped at the chance to be a part of the iconic Contest.

“I’ve always been an avid follower of The National Bank Young Farmer Contest, my farming background means it’s something that has always appealed to me.”

Hopkins fans will still be able to tune into his regular Monday chats with Jamie Mackay on the Farming Show.

The grand final is being held in Masterton. RivettingKate Taylor has progress reports here,  here and here.


Rural round-up

May 8, 2011

 Go Mr McGill – rivettingKate Taylor writes:

Good news and another step up the politicial ladder for my friend Paul McGill.

 Current Nuffield Scholar, former Kellogg’s Scholar, convenor of this year’s Grand Final of The National Bank Young Farmer Contest in Masterton….. he’s now also president of Wairarapa Federated Farmers. . .

The price of milk – Claire Browning on food security:

The true price of milk is its cost, in distracting us from the bigger issue: what policy and regulation is needed, to secure quality food for ordinary — all — New Zealanders

Why assume milk guzzling is such a good thing? Why should it not cost, since it does? . .

Focus on farm jobs educators urged – Mark Hotton writes:

The public perception of agriculture and other primary industries must change to make them more attractive to Southland’s brightest young people, high school heads of department were told yesterday.

In a presentation designed to encourage teachers and career advisers to recommend careers in primary product industries to students, Lincoln University lecturer Dr Jon Hickford said Southland’s economy was heavily reliant on the rural sector so it was vital skilled people were being encouraged into the industry.

There was a real need to encourage young people into the sector because that was where the province’s wealth was being generated, he said.

Hat tip: Tony Chaston who wrote:

It is ironic this story broke on the same day the government announced a $55 million youth employment, and job training package aimed at building the skills of our young people for the future.

This site last year expressed concerns about lack of funding at Lincoln University to allow agricultural lecturers to properly cover the three areas of teaching, extension and research. Following  up on these issues it appears a significant turnaround has been achieved and new appointments should improve the quality of that service.Thats good news but how much of that $55million will be directed to agriculture I ask? . .

Red meat strategy shows a path to sustainable sector profitability – Beef+ Lamb NZ;

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) have today released the Red Meat Sector Strategy with the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key and the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon David Carter. The strategy reflects broad recognition of the underlying challenges to the sector’s sustainable profitability, but also clearly identifies the opportunities for the sector to realise its full potential and continue to be a principal driver of New Zealand’s economy.

“While the sector currently generates nearly $8b annually in export earnings and forms the basis of the visual and social landscape of New Zealand, over time its profitability has been inconsistent and often unsatisfactory, as is reflected by conversion of sheep and beef farm land to other uses such as dairy farming and forestry,” said Mike Petersen, B+LNZ Chairman.

In this context, MIA and B+LNZ initiated the development of this sector strategy – with unprecedented input from the sector and underpinned by extensive data and in-depth analysis by Deloitte – to identify ways of achieving sustainable profitability and promote re-investment in the industry. . .

Largest in the world – from Rural News:

 THE NEWLY-OPENED New Zealand Ruminant Methane Measurement Centre (NZRMMC) is the largest purpose-built facility of its kind in the world.

Opened last week by Agriculture Minister David Carter the Palmerston North-based facility provides New Zealand scientists with an opportunity to accurately measure methane emissions from more than 25 ruminant animals at the same time. . .

Locals can’t rival Crafar bid – Richard Rennin in NZ Farmers Weekly writes:

Despite increased confidence in the dairy industry it looks unlikely individual sales of Crafar farm properties would raise more than if they are sold as one.

` The prospect of another Chinese company bidding for the 8000ha Crafar portfolio has had local farmers like Raetihi’s Gerry Dekker asking why the farms could not be sold off individually.

Dekker’s concerns, expressed in a letter to The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, have been echoed by Federated Farmers dairy head Lachlan McKenzie. . .

Farming families honoured – Helena de Reus writes:

Families who have owned the same farm for more than a century will be honoured at the New Zealand Century Farm Awards in Lawrence next Saturday.

Twenty-two families from around the country will attend the official function at the Simpson Park complex, with four receiving sesquicentennial awards (150 years). . .

Passion for High Country and painting – Sally Rae writes:

 High country artist Norman Sinclair is looking forward to a trip to the Waitaki Valley next week.

Not only is he having an exhibition at the Kurow Museum – coinciding with the South Island sheep dog trial championships at nearby Hakataramea – but he will also fit in some duck-shooting in the Hakataramea Valley. . .


Rural round-up

April 3, 2011

Current season better than last – Allan Barber blogs:

After what all processors termed a challenging season last year, the mood this season is decidedly more buoyant after a solid first four months when dry weather throughout the country produced good stock flows. Regular rain since early February in the main farming regions has slowed things down a bit, but the onset of autumn and the dairy cow cull will ensure reasonably consistent livestock availability without any likelihood of a seasonal peak.

Showing ’em how – Martin van Beynen reckoned mustering was easy:

I am often asked for advice – as in “How would you like your face smashed in?” – so it was no surprise when Steve Palmer and Kara Lynn sought my help for the autumn muster on their high- country station, Tinline Downs, near Waiau in North Canterbury.

Steve and Kara had heard about my mustering expertise via an article in this newspaper about Lakes Station near Lake Sumner.

In the course of investigating a controversial gate on a paper road, a photographer and I found ourselves in the middle of a muster run by the legendary Ted Phipps, who owns the Lakes Station with Chief Justice Sian Elias.

One of Phipps’ farmhands, a raw young lad, took exception to the position of our vehicle, blaming it for the way some of the sheep were returning through a gate.

This was nonsense, of course, and I attempted to explain that the problem might, in fact, be a lack of dogs or men behind the sadly disjointed mob coming up the road. 

This advice came from the benefit of many years mustering our eight chooks and the flock of sheep – so vast that we knew the name of each individual – on my parents’ 10-acre block.

The advice was taken very much in the spirit in which it was intended, and some very rude language ensued.

Then Phipps arrived, and some more rude language followed, in which the word “townie” was used in a less than favourable way. . .  

The original story which prompted the invitation to muster is here.

NZ wool carpets and rugs launched in US:

New Zealand rugs and carpets using strong wool drawn from Wool Equities Ltd and New Zealand Romney suppliers will be unveiled in prestigious US stores on Friday.

The Just Shorn collection will be launched surrounded by in store displays including wool bales, woolshed doors and videos of New Zealand farmers telling their stories about working with sheep and wool. About 30 rug stores and 85 carpet stores in the luxury IDG chain (part of CCA Global) will feature the collection. . .

Steve and Jane win first East Coast environment award – rivettingKate Taylor posts on the Wyn-Harris’s win:

Congratulations to Steve and Jane Wyn-Harris – the inaugural winners of the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

You know, I’m actually looking forward to not typing that ECBFEA phrase for a while! . .

US milk production – shouting down the suply chain – Dr Jon Hauser at X-Cheque blog writes:

If you are into numbers, the trends in demand and supply are a fascinating topic and especially when you apply the concept to the dairy industry. The theory is simple – an increase in demand allows prices to rise, encouraging supply growth. As stocks and supply increase to the point of excess prices fall resulting in a contraction of supply and reset of the supply demand balance. The reality is a long way from simple and that has certainly proved to be the case in our research on the US dairy market. . .

Better communicaton = better in-calf rates – Pasture to Profit writes:

I’ve just seen a simple idea to improve communication between staff on a pasture based spring calving dairyfarm in Dorset, UK. This came to light at the “Realfarmer” discussion group…..a group for Herdsmen & Herd Managers/farm staff on pasture based dairy farms. “Tail Tape Id”…. yes that’s right “Tail Tape Id”! . . .

This is one for the X-files – Anti Dismal writes:

There have been some seriously weird things said about the price of milk recently but this comment in an article from stuff.co.nz has to be the strangest yet:

Dairy market heavyweight Fonterra is artificially inflating the price of milk in New Zealand in a deliberate campaign to lessen competition, says an official complaint to the Commerce Commission.

Now I can not for the life of me see how inflating the price of milk can lesson competition.

We wrote about the milk price investigation here, all very exciting.

However, a new article on the stuff site started with this:

Dairy market heavyweight Fonterra is artificially inflating the price of milk in New Zealand in a deliberate campaign to lessen competition

What?  This is beyond my understanding – I need someone to get in here and explain to me how increasing the wholesale price of milk will lead to a reduction in competitive pressures.

There have been some seriously weird things said about the price of milk recently but this comment in an article from stuff.co.nz has to be the strangest yet:

Dairy market heavyweight Fonterra is artificially inflating the price of milk in New Zealand in a deliberate campaign to lessen competition, says an official complaint to the Commerce Commission.

Now I can not for the life of me see how inflating the price of milk can lesson competition. . .

The Visible Hand in Economics has similar thoughts in a couple more points on milk:

We wrote about the milk price investigation here, all very exciting.

However, a new article on the stuff site started with this:

Dairy market heavyweight Fonterra is artificially inflating the price of milk in New Zealand in a deliberate campaign to lessen competition

What?  This is beyond my understanding – I need someone to get in here and explain to me how increasing the wholesale price of milk will lead to a reduction in competitive pressures. . .

GE – 10,000 years in the making – Jon Morgan writes:

Pamela Ronald is trying to talk around a mouthful of kiwifruit, yoghurt and muesli. She’s eating breakfast at the Intercontinental in Wellington and it’s the only spare time she has in a busy round of media interviews and public meetings before flying to Auckland for a conference.

Between bites she talks about food.

“I’ve just spend a few days with friends in the Bay of Islands. They fed me really well and everything I ate, except the fish, was genetically altered.”

No, it wasn’t a meal of secretly imported food from a country that allows genetic modification. It was food bought in the local supermarket.

“Everything we eat that is farmed is genetically altered,” she explains.

“It is just the result of a long line of 10,000 years of gene manipulation.”

She should know. She is professor of plant pathology at University of California’s Davis research campus. With husband Raoul Adamchak, she has written Tomorrow’s Table on the worlds-colliding idea of integrating genetic engineering with organic farming. . .

Shearing captial’s title takes a serious hit:

Te Kuiti’s quarter-century boast to being the shearing capital of the world took a hit when young Hawke’s Bay-based Far North gun Rowland Smith won the New Zealand Open final in the town’s Cultural Centre last night, without a single local hope in the final field.

For the first time since the event was revived in 1985, there were no Te Kuiti or other King Country shearers in the big final. It is thought also to have been the only time the field did not include Te Kuiti icon David Fagan, who was eliminated in the afternoon’s semi-finals.

Stirring anthem written for vegetables #997 at Will Type for Food:

We are the turnips my friend
We’ll keep on growin’ till the end . . .

(This could be a winner in Southland during Swede season).


Farmy army moving mountains

March 4, 2011

When the country is hit by snow and floods,  town people often mobilise to help with the clean up.

The Farmy Army is returning many past favours by taking people power, tools and machinery to Christchurch to help with the earthquake recovery effort.

The student Volunteer Army is doing an amazing job of recruiting and mobilising volunteers to help in the city but many of the recruits aren’t used to the physical demands of the work.

Farmers have diggers and tractors to move the mountains of dirt and silt and are accustomed to the  heavy physical work which must be done where machinery can’t be used.

(RivettingKate Taylor has a photo here).

CRT and Federated Farmers are taking bus loads up from North Otago to join the recovery effort tomorrow.

North Otago Young Farmers has another way farmers can help. They are asking for donations of stock to be sold at the Waiareka sale on Monday with all proceeds going to the earthquake appeal.

Sometimes the gulf between rural and urban New Zealand seems unbridgeable but when it really counts, we are all there for each other.

It’s not just New Zealanders, either. Steve Wyn-Harris who flew down from Hawkes Bay to help found an American who had got airpoints from friends to fly to San Francisco then took out  a loan to fly to Auckland and flew south to join the recovery effort. Steve introduced him to Jamie MacKay on the Farming Show today.


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