Rural round-up

April 1, 2015

Big dump culmination of years of worry – David Bruce:

A frustrated North Otago farmer drove 120km on Monday to dump a load of excrement at the Otago Regional Council’s doorstep in Dunedin. David Bruce talks to him about why he did it.

Five Forks dairy farmer Robert Borst says he is at a loss about where to go from here.

He says he faces losing everything he has worked for in an industry he has wanted to be in since he was 15.

He left school and started at the bottom in dairying, shifted from Taranaki to the Waitaki Plains in 1992 then, from 1997, he and wife Sylvia started to build up what are now three dairy farms at Five Forks.

Changes in a water plan by the Otago Regional Council setting new limits on discharges from his farms has put everything in jeopardy, he believes. . .

Positive agriculture Omarama winner – Sally Rae:

Omarama farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil want to help highlight the positive side of agriculture.

Mr and Mrs Subtil were named the supreme winners in this year’s Canterbury Ballance farm environment awards.

The couple farm Omarama Station, a property of nearly 12,000ha, which has been in Mrs Subtil’s family since 1919. . .

Farmer confidence grows – Dene Mackenzie and Sally Rae:

There is a sense of relief as two surveys show regional economic confidence rose in the three months ended March.

Farmer confidence has taken a ”significant jump” in the first quarterly Rabobank rural confidence for the year. The survey, completed earlier this month, was released the same day as Fonterra dropped its dividend estimate range by 5c to between 20c and 30c to the disappointment of farmers.

The Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey showed rural regions and smaller centres generally showing the biggest gains. Confidence in the main centres was mixed. . .

Can science fix the dairy debate – Kevin Ikin:

The debate continues on whether there should be a moratorium on further dairy farm development.

The Green Party and the Fish and Game organisation are keen on the concept, which they say should be given serious consideration while the impact of intensive farming on the environment is properly assessed.

The issue also came up at a water management forum in Geraldine, South Canterbury, last week.

One of the speakers, Morgan Foundation economist Geoff Simmons said if the Government was serious about water quality then it had to consider a moratorium on further dairy farm conversions.

“Actually, if you are maintaining or improving the water quality, how can you do that when you are still doing conversions? . .

Fonterra’s disappointing performance – Allan Barber:

Fonterra’s interim result announcement contains confirmation of the farmgate milk price forecast of $4.70, but a reduction in the added value dividend.

The steady milk payout forecast was anticipated, although Global Dairy Trade auction results have so far failed to achieve the US$3,500 per tonne average which is estimated to be the minimum needed to underpin the payout. The higher volume being released for auction GDT and likely milk production by competitors such as American and European farmers may actually increase the risk of underachieving the forecast end of year payout. . .

Fonterra says it’s holding its own in Canterbury as farmer suppliers look to new processors – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, New Zealand’s largest dairy processor, says it’s holding its own in the dairy-intensive Canterbury region, despite reports some of its 10,600 farmers shareholders are lining up to supply milk to its competitors in the wake of its weak interim results last week.

Farmers were disappointed with the half-year results, which included a 16 per cent drop in profit to $183 million and a trimming of the forecast dividend payout for the year by 5 cents to a range of between 20 cents and 30 cents. Faced with a low forecast payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season compared to a record $8.40 kg/MS last season, farmers had been expecting a fatter rather than skinnier dividend from its value-added activities. . .

Search on for 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year:

A nationwide search begins this week for young men and women who exemplify the leadership qualities that have earned New Zealand’s primary products the trust of consumers all over the world.

Starting this April, young horticultural leaders from every corner of New Zealand will compete in six sector competitions to qualify as a finalist in the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’.

2014 overall winner, Northland orchardist and horticultural business owner, Patrick Malley, believes that despite the ups and downs the primary sector has faced in recent times, New Zealand’s value as a leading producer of primary products comes from the high levels of trust this country’s products enjoy overseas. . .


Rural round-up

March 31, 2015

Fonterra’s fed-up farmers risk – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra is facing a supplier crisis of confidence and risks haemorrhaging milk to private companies as fed-up farmer-shareholders react to its latest financial results.

The co-operative turned in disappointing half -year results, with profit and revenue down on last year, and rocked farmers and the sharemarket with its announcement of a deterioration in the forecast dividend.

The dividend tracks how the business is performing and was widely expected to be fattened or at least held steady, given the low milk price it is paying farmers this season. . .

Sheep and beef can match dairy grazing :

Wintering dairy cows may be a useful pasture development tool but once the bulk of the regrassing’s done, sheep and beef can at least match the returns, say award winning North Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith.

 They farm near Five Forks, inland of Oamaru, and if their name sounds familiar it’s probably because they won the Ballance Farm Environment Awards national title in 2012, though it may also be through the Newhaven Perendale stud flock.

Newhaven is the name of the home farm, 230ha of rolling country with 193ha effective, while up the road they have Blairgowrie, a 1072ha hill block running from 450m to 650m above sea-level. . .

Upset farmers dump excrement at ORC – Timothy Brown:

An ongoing dispute with a North Otago farmer who says he is at his wit’s end has landed the Otago Regional Council in the poo – literally.

Five Forks farmer Robert Borst says the ORC’s water plan change 6A has ”destroyed us as a family” and provided four years of ”sheer frustration and exhaustion” for him and his wife, Sylvia.

When told last night the ORC still hoped to resolve the dispute, he replied: ”Bull… – absolute bull…”. . . .

Water quality threatens fishing future – Blake Foden:

Poor water quality is threatening the future of one of Southland’s biggest industries, fishermen say.

Seafood exports from New Zealand were worth $1.375 billion in 2014, up 3 per cent on the previous year.

About $150 million could be attributed to the Southland coast, with crayfish accounting for two-thirds of that.

But Bill Chisholm, spokesman for eel and blue-cod fishermen, said the future of the industry was being jeopardised by poor water quality as a result of sediment flowing into the ocean and estuaries. . .

 

Toxins killed Southland cows, Ministry saysEvan Harding:

The death and illness of hundreds of dairy cows in Southland last year was due to the swedes they fed on having high concentrations of naturally occurring toxins, an initial assessment by the Ministry for Primary Industries has found.

A ministry spokesman said the industry-led investigation into factors contributing to the deaths of cattle in Southland was still ongoing.

But an initial assessment undertaken by the ministry supported the agriculture industry’s view that the cause of deaths were due to swedes having higher concentrations of glucosinolates, a toxin which naturally occurs in brassicas and is known to be toxic to cattle. . .

Fifth Grand Finalist Confirmed in ANZ Young Farmer Contest:

Pete Fitz-Herbert is the fifth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The twenty-nine year old stock manager took first place at the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final in Palmerston North on Saturday 28 March.

Mr Fitz-Herbert went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. He also won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge.

Pete has been competing in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest since 2007 but this will be his first attempt at Grand Final level. Pete stock manages on the family farm and also runs a Dorset Down sheep stud. Pete is an active member of the Marton Young Farmers Club, where he enjoys networking with like-minded people and participating in a range of events. . .

 


Digger rescue

April 19, 2014

Yesterday’s flooding in North Otago closed state highway 1 at Maheno and stranded scores of motorists, many of whom spent the night in school hostels.

The flood almost claimed the life of a woman who had to be rescued by digger.

A submerged fence appears to have been all that saved Roda Davidson from being swept away by the Kakanui River yesterday.

Mrs Davidson (61) spent two hours huddled on the roof of her car in the river before being rescued with the help of a 14-tonne digger.

The Fuchsia Creek woman was trying to get to work at the Oamaru KFC when she was caught in floodwater about 11am after the river burst its banks at the Five Forks bridge.

She misjudged the depth and speed of the water crossing the road north of the bridge. Her car was then dragged downstream by the swollen river before being caught in a fence. . .

Next, farmer Robert Borst tested the waters in his digger, before picking up Oamaru police Sergeant Peter Muldrew.

They carefully avoided power lines above the car which, although shut down, could not be guaranteed to be safe.

Mr Borst said the digger reached almost its maximum safe depth and he managed to get the bucket out to the car with the boom almost fully extended.

Sgt Muldrew said Mrs Davidson attempted to stand on the roof, but he told her to crawl over.

After sitting in heavy rain and a strong, cold wind for about two hours, she had difficulty getting into the bucket.

”I told her to lean over as far as possible and then I helped her to roll in,” he said.

Just as she got in the bucket, the helicopter arrived as back-up, but was not needed.

Mrs Davidson was helped to a St John ambulance, where she was treated for hypothermia.

If you click on the link to the ODT above you’ll see several  photos of the rescue, including this one.

Roda Davidson being  rescued on  top of her car after the flooded Kakanui River washed it downstream. Photos by Peter McIntosh and ORC Rescue Helicopter.

 


Pristine water, no people

August 19, 2012

The Otago Regional Council is proposing changes to its water quality plan which would mean some land in North Otago couldn’t be farmed.

One of those affected by the planned change is Robert Borst who farms 580 hectares in the Kakanui Valley.

. . . Mr Borst believed there was a lack of understanding of the implications for farming businesses as a result of what the council was trying to impose, and it was “hellbent on bulldozing along”.

“The harsh reality is, unless I get this overturned, all these people [his staff] and the whole farming business is finished. That’s what we’re fighting.” . . .

. . . “Here we’re talking about probably hundreds of jobs and family farming businesses put in jeopardy.”

The way it was heading, there would be pristine water in the Kakanui Valley but no-one living there, he said.

We drink this water and swim in it.

We want it to be clean and to stay clean.

But the proposed changes appear to be an extreme reaction which would prevent farming in the area.

 

 

 


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