Rural roundup

February 17, 2019

Hungry cities eat land :

As well as being urged to produce more from less while satisfying environmental critics farmers are also being squeezed by pressure for more land for housing and forestry. This week Farmers Weekly journalists Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace begin taking an in-depth look at how much land has been lost and how much more could still be lost as a billion trees are planted to create a low-carbon economy while another 100,000 homes are built.

As the Government grapples with building another 100,000 homes just to meet shortages, planners and producers are nervously watching continued population growth, much which will be in the country’s key farm produce regions.

Until 2016 New Zealand was losing just over 100,000 hectares a year of growing land, whether to urban development or the proliferation of lifestyle blocks increasing by 5800 a year. . .

Take 5 with Rob Barry  – Tristan Burn:

After an epic adventure around the world, Rob Barry returned to the Central Hawkes Bay four years ago and settled his new family. He is currently working as a Managers Assistant on a 1220 cow dairy farm.

The farm is part of BEL Group, a Family Corporate farming business Rob’s parents built up over the last 30 years. They have nine Dairy farms milking 9500 cows in total and seven dairy support farms (three owned, four leased). Since calving Rob has been block managing Ellingham and 400 cows.

1. In 5-10 words what is your farming philosophy?

Leave it better than you found it – Scouts motto. . .

Seasonal labour shortage in Hawkes Bay declared :

The Ministry of Social Development has declared a seasonal labour shortage across Hawke’s Bay.

Declaring a seasonal labour shortage allows visitor visa holders to apply for a variation of conditions, which will enable them to work on orchards and vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay.

The shortage is for a six-week period between 25 February and 5 April 2019, in response to discussions with pipfruit leaders, industry experts, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . .

WorkSafe joins Young Farmer of the Year competition:

WorkSafe New Zealand has today announced a partnership with the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition.

WorkSafe Chief Executive Nicole Rosie says the partnership will connect New Zealand’s future farming leaders with health and safety in an engaging setting, build rapport with rural communities and help create generational change. . .

Pāmu announces increased profit for half year:

Landcorp Farming Limited (known as Pāmu) has declared a net profit after tax of $29 million for the half year ended 31 December 2018. This compares to $21 million for the half year ended 31 December 2017.

Chief Executive Steven Carden said that the increased half year profit was a pleasing result, reflecting good weather conditions and good trade terms for the company’s main products.

“On an EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations) basis, which we use as a key measure of performance, the half year represented a loss of $3 million compared to a loss of $6 million in the prior period. The loss is largely due to the seasonality of Pāmu’s operations since the bulk of livestock revenue is earned in the second half of the year.” . .

Federated Farmers and Gallagher forge new business relationship :

Long-standing contributor to New Zealand agriculture Gallagher Ltd and Federated Farmers are joining forces to form a new business partnership.

Feds recognises Gallagher as a leader in its field, having more than 80 years’ experience as a leading technology company in the animal management, security and fuel systems industries. . .

Tropical fruit options bring exciting opportunities :

Bananas, so often associated with warm tropical climates on the equator may prove to be another cropping opportunity for enterprising horticulturalists from Northland to Gisborne.

New Zealanders have an appetite for the yellow fruit, chomping through a whopping 18kg per capita a year, about $140 million worth that puts this country at top of the global list for banana consumption. . . .


Rural round-up

January 8, 2019

Concerns over farmers’ approach to financial wellbeing – Alan Wills:

Financial resilience of some businesses in our farming community is a real concern.

Alarm bells rang for me after a recent comment from a rural consultant was aired. He told me he was organising finance for some of his clients because Fonterra had re-adjusted the advance payment rate.

The payout prediction and the advanced payments are still based on $6-plus. . . 

Fears part of bumper apple crop could be lost :

New Zealand’s apple growers fear a bumper crop coupled with a shortage of workers could mean some of the summer harvest is lost.

The group New Zealand Apples and Pears, which represents the pip fruit industry, wants the government to step in and allow tourists to pick fruit without a working visa.

Group spokesperson Gary Jones said this could happen if the government declares a seasonal labour shortage in the country’s primary apple growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

This would allow overseas visitors in the country on tourist visas to work in the horticulture industry without obtaining the usual work permits. . . 

Will cheese become New Zealand’s next craft beer? – Kevin Jenkins:

I once read that before World War I, back before decades of blander mass production, New Zealand seed catalogues looked a lot more like they do in the 21st century, with much more variety. People were growing endive and cavolo nero, for example, and lots of interesting fruits.

But with one of the highest mortality rates among countries who participated in the war, followed by a deadly flu epidemic and then the Great Depression a decade later, it’s no wonder that from the 1920s New Zealand focused on survival … and therefore on potatoes, cabbages and the accursed mashed swede.

In parallel, better transport links and better refrigeration and mass production led to lots of our food industries consolidating. Local dairy factories progressively closed and companies combined until eventually Fonterra emerged as the behemoth it is today. Local breweries followed the same path until DB and Lion shared most of the market. Flour and bread, seafood, vegetables, canned fruit … all followed suit. . . 

Ideas coming thick and fast at RMPP Action Network :

Farmers are reported to have joined a Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group at Rangiwahia to upskill the people in their businesses and boost their profitability.

Eight farm businesses in northern Manawatu have joined the RMPP Action Network to learn from each other and various experts.

Murray Curtis, who hosted the action group’s third meeting, welcomes the opportunity to “be part of a group that gets you thinking and gives you ideas you can put into action on your farm”. . . 

Farmers urged not to forget TB:

Farmers, especially in the South Island, are being reminded that while Mycoplasma bovis has captured headlines, TB is a continuing problem in small pockets of the country.

Kevin Crews, head of disease management for OSPRI (manager of the TB-free programme) says outbreaks have spiked in the Strath-Taieri (Otago) area, with “niggles” in the last two to three years.

TB has been found in ferrets, pigs and possums in the area and work is underway to see whether it is related to the incidence in cattle herds. . . 

Pig rearing to return to rural school following vegan backlash

Keeping pigs on a rural Hampshire school farm to show children how food is produced is to return following vegan backlash which temporarily axed it.

The pigs are kept in Priestlands School grounds, in Lymington, and the practice of rearing them on-site seeks to educate the children where food comes from, and how it is made, from farm-to-fork.

But a petition spearheaded by a vegan campaign group in January sought to axe the scheme, and the school temporarily stopped rearing pigs for a short while to avoid vegan upset. . . 


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