Rural round-up

13/10/2016

 – Allan Barber:

Just when we thought New Zealand was about to enjoy the benefits of several new agreements, not least TPP, the world appears to be growing more and more averse to signing up to trade deals. There is a distinct trend towards self-reliance and protectionism among countries that have up to now been champions of the benefits of free trade, most obviously sizable blocs of voters in the United States, EU and Great Britain exercising their democratic right to protest.

The problem with free trade for disaffected voters is the direct connection with the theories of liberal economics and the rise of capitalism which have dominated the global economy for the last quarter of a century. When the benefits of capitalism were shared, resulting in generally higher prosperity, free trade was seen as a force for good, but in the years since the GFC capitalism has got a bad name, deservedly so in many cases. Economic hardship has not been shared equally – banking directors and executives were responsible for billions of dollars of shareholder losses, but most of them have got away with it and many continue to receive bonuses in spite of the losses. . . 

Sicily a melting pot for food production – Allan Barber:

Sicily has been taken over by the Saracens, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans,  Swabia, Austro-Hungary and Spain, before Garibaldi led the rebellion that led to the unification of Italy under one monarch, Vittorio Emanuele I, in 1861. Each of the occupying powers has brought something different to the food and agricultural produce of this unique island.

The Greeks brought olives, the Romans began wheat growing, bread making and wine production, the Arabs brought spices and invented dried spaghetti, the Normans were responsible for salted cod and the Spanish introduced candied fruit and marzipan, while the Italians have refined bread and pastry baking and wine making. There is no evidence of Swabian or Austro-Hungarian influences, although their occupations were fairly brief. . . 

Wool to take its rightful price – Alan Emerson:

Generally, nothing is as divisive in rural New Zealand as the debate about wool and how to market and promote it.

The possible exception is Merino.  Over the years the debates I’ve reported on and the “new initiatives” I’ve commented on have been legendary.  

It would have been the most soul-destroying, internecine and negative saga of our sector and I can remember back to the great acquisition debate and the rise of the Sheep and Cattlemen’s Association.  

The mistakes farmers or their representatives have made over the years have also cost us dearly. . . 

New season brings a new challenge – Sonita Chandar:

A showjumping career came to an abrupt halt for a Manawatu farmer who has found passion in dairying.

But now, contract milker Renae Flett has the best of both worlds – her new job allows her to keep her horse Giant in the paddock by her house – and she has big plans for the farm and her future.

She is the Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year and now has her sights set on the Share Farmer title. . . 

Cellular ag – Robert Hickson:

A US meat company is now an investor in vegan burgers, and selling them alongside meat patties. That’s just one of the signals pointing to big changes in food production systems in affluent nations.

Lab-grown meat gets the headlines, but burgers made from plant proteins are well ahead of that, and likely to have a much lower yuck factor.

Red meat consumption is trending downward in many western countries, which is an important influencing factor. . . 

Buzzing Blagdon bees have been caught 300m away – Brittany Baker:

The case of the missing swarm has been solved, but the hobbyist beekeeper who lost them has missed out on her pot of gold.

On Monday “two balls of bees” buzzed off from Gina Hartley’s garden.

Hartley, who was wanting to expand her at-home hive collection, turned to Neighbourly and Facebook for help in returning them. . . 

Results of Fonterra Shareholder Voting at Special Meeting:

Fonterra shareholders have supported changes to the Co-operative’s governance and representation model, including a reduced Board and changes to the election process for Farmer Directors.

At today’s Special Meeting in Palmerston North 85.96 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the governance recommendation, sufficient to meet the 75 per cent support required under Fonterra’s Constitution.

The results of the resolutions are:
RESOLUTION RESULTS –
% in favour
Resolution 1: Governance related amendments to the Constitution and the Shareholders’ Council By-laws 85.96 . . 

Yealands Wine Group puts in largest solar panel installation in New Zealand – Oliver Lewis:

A Marlborough winery has so many solar panels it could power 86 houses.

The Seaview Vineyard winery, owned by the Yealands Wine Group, has a total of 1314 photovoltaic panels across its roof.

The company first had solar panels fitted at its Seddon winery over the course of 2012 and 2013, which at the time was the largest installation in the country before it was surpassed. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/03/2016

What’s all this crying over spilled milk? New Zealand’s dairy crisis explained – Richard Meadows:

The dairy industry is constantly in the headlines lately – for all the wrong reasons.

Milk prices are going down the gurgler, and farmers are really starting to feel the pain.

Dairy is such a huge part of the economy that townies can’t help but be swept up in this too.

If you haven’t been following the issue closely, here’s an overview of what’s going on. . . 

Dairy industry marshalling its resources:

Dairy industry leaders are marshalling their collective resources to ensure a united approach to supporting farmers in the wake of a record low Farmgate Milk Price.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the industry’s leaders including dairy company chairs and chief executives and Federated Farmers’ dairy section have met over the past month to discuss the serious situation and considered joint actions and options for support.

The DairyNZ board also meets this week and will discuss further options. “We’ll be talking through and reviewing our plan as an industry,” he says. . . 

NZ calf prices hit record high as demand soars amid supply shortage – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Prices for weaned calves at the start of the new sales season in New Zealand are hitting record highs amid increased demand and lower supply.

Sales of six-month-old weaner steers and heifers this month at Stortford Lodge in Hastings, an early benchmark ahead of the peak sales period in April, rose between 17 and 29 percent on 2015, which was itself at record levels, according to AgriHQ. Weaner sales generally finish early May.

Farmers who shed stock ahead of summer last year on concern about the impact of a dry El Nino weather pattern were now seeking to restock as rain in many areas through January stimulated pasture growth. Meanwhile, farmers who had previously provided grazing support to the dairy industry are now looking for other sources of income such as fattening weaners as dairy farmers look to rein on costs. . . 

Fonterra and foresight – Robert Hickson:

I can’t help thinking whether Fonterra, and NZ’s dairy industry, would be in a better position now if they’d devoted some (more) resources to strategic foresight. They may have, but it isn’t evident so far.

What is “strategic foresight”, and what, if anything, is it good for?

Strategic foresight, which is being used increasingly now in the private sector rather than simply “futures”, is about linking foresight activities (scanning for trends and weak signals, scenarios, visioning exercises, etc) with strategy formulation and execution.

Strategic foresight needs to ask and answer the “So what?” questions, and identify actions to address anticipated challenges and opportunities. The organisation then deliberatively chooses to undertake them, or not. . . 

Marlborough wine industry needs more workers to sustain rapid growth – Oliver Lewis:

More labour and accommodation is needed to service the Marlborough wine industry, which is predicted to grow by a quarter over the next five years, a new report shows.

The Marlborough Labour Market Survey, released on Monday, was organised by Wine Marlborough, in collaboration with New Zealand Winegrowers, the Marlborough District Council and Seasonal Solutions Co-operative Limited.

The purpose of the report, the first of its kind, is to get a comprehensive picture of the wine industry and its plans moving forward, to be able to plan for future labour requirements. . . 

Applications open for leading farm business management program:

Applications are open for the 2016 Rabobank Executive Development Program, tailored for progressive farmers to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Now in its 18th year, more than 500 New Zealand and Australian farmers have graduated from the intensive two-week program, which covers all aspects of business management including strategic goal setting, negotiation, risk management, leadership and technology.

Announcing the opening of applications, Rabobank general manager Country Banking New Zealand Hayley Moynihan said “interest in the program was perhaps stronger than ever, even taking into account the current downturn in the dairy industry”. . . .

NZ’s most tender and tasty lamb named at the Glammies:

The Gardyne family’s Perendale from Central Otago has been named the most tender and tasty lamb in New Zealand at the Glammies – the Beef + Lamb NZ Golden Lamb Awards – over the weekend.

The competition received a total of 173 entries which were subject to stringent scientific testing at Carne Technologies.

Following this process, the top 20 finalists were then tasted at the Grand Final judging at the Wanaka show. . . 

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers have a fun day to help keep blues away – Jill Galloway:

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers kept the blues away by attending a stress-free Rural Family After Five event.

About 200 people attended the evening event at the Te Kawau Memorial Recreation Centre this week at Rongota.

Parents talked and enjoyed a steak and sausage sandwich, while children slid on a water slide in an old fashioned get together with tug-of-war, touch rugby and a bouncy castle.

“When the kids are happy the parents can cope,” said a rural woman. . . 

 EPA Fines Wyoming Man $16 Million for Building a Pond on His Property – S. Noble:

Farmers and ranchers call the EPA’s new water rule the biggest land grab in the history of the world. It is a massive land grab, especially in a country that has been built on the right to own property. The administration is changing all that.

A new oppressive water rule gives the EPA jurisdiction over all public and private streams in the United States that are “intermittent, seasonal and rain-dependent.” It will regulate what are normal daily ranching and farming practices and take control of their land.

According to congressional budget testimony, waters of the United States would give the EPA authority over streams on private property even when the water beds have been dry, in some cases, for hundreds of years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/02/2013

Future foods – Robert Hickson:

Will farm livestock become endangered species? Social, economic and environmental drivers are converging to not only look at producing food more efficiently and sustainably, but are also stimulating new ways to produce meat or remove the need for it altogether. Such changes, if successful, could have substantial effects on New Zealand’s agricultural and economic landscapes.

Lab-grown meat has been worked on for a while, and convergence with other technologies is starting. Modern Meadow  is aiming to print meat. In vitro production of meat still has a long way to go, technically, economically and socially. There is scepticism that it will become economically viable and sufficiently scaleable. Or even appeal to consumers. But would it really be that different from currently available mechanically extracted meat products , insects or some of the delights whipped up by molecular gastronomists? . . .

St John says thanks to Federated Farmers:

A $54,000 grant to St John from Federated Farmers will help the organisation continue its important community work.

Federated Farmers made several grants from their Adverse Events Trust in September 2012, and St John was one of the recipients. The money came from individual farmers, meat company workers and meant and wool companies.

Federated Farmers’ representatives Katie Milne (National Board Member) and John Hartnell (Chairman of the Bee Industry Group) visited the St John Regional Operations Centre to see the work of the ambulance communications centre, as well as have a look at a new ambulance. . .

Fonterra Milk for Schools attracts interest from more than half of NZ’s Primary Schools:

Contacting Fonterra has been on the to-do list for many New Zealand primary schools since the 2013 school year kicked off – and more than half of the country’s eligible schools have now expressed interest in Fonterra Milk for Schools.
 
More than 1100 schools, representing about 191,000 kids, have registered their interest in the nationwide programme which will provide free milk to primary-aged children every school day. This is on top of the more than 110 schools already participating in Northland.
 
Fonterra Group General Manager Global Co-operative Social Responsibility Carly Robinson says the number of schools getting in contact has been growing by the day. . .

Dairy expo braodens view of the industry – Sally Rae:

Question – what’s black and white and red all over? Not necessarily a newspaper.

It could be a cow hide tanned by Southland man Adam Cowie, who established his own business about three years ago after working in a tannery for many years.

Mr Cowie, from Animal Skin Tanning Services Ltd, had skins for sale at the Southern Region Dairy Expo at Clydevale last week.

The event, organised by the Clutha Valley Lions Club, attracted a wide variety of exhibitors, selling everything from tractors and trailers to fertiliser and milking systems, pumps and stockfeed. . .

Cultivar information aids autumn pasture decisions:

DairyNZ is encouraging farmers to use the latest Forage Value Index lists to help make decisions on perennial ryegrass cultivars.

The DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) was launched last May as an initiative between DairyNZ and the New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association (NZPBRA). The region-specific FVIs utilise seasonal dry matter yields from NZPBRA’s National Forage Variety Trials.

DairyNZ’s Dr Jeremy Bryant says the latest set of FVI lists were released in December. . .

Kirsten Bryant re-elected to Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board:

Kirsten Bryant has been returned as the Western North Island Farmer Director on the Board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp has reported that Kirsten Bryant received 11,503 votes and John McCarthy received 6,149 votes. . .

First 2013 Dairy Awards Winners:

In less than a week the first regional winners in the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be announced, opening new opportunities and career prospects.

National convenor Chris Keeping says it is an exciting time when the winners of the 12 regional competitions become known and a new group of passionate and enthusiastic dairy farmers step forward.

“We had more than 550 entries this year, so our judges are working extremely hard to identify those sharemilkers, equity farmers, farm managers, contract milkers and trainees doing the best with the resources and farm they have available to them. The awards are not about being perfect, they are about making progress.” . . .

Dairy farmers have cost effective “friend in N”:

With high demand in dry areas edging up the price of supplementary feed, dairy farmers wanting to maintain production into late autumn have got an increasingly cost effective “friend in N”, says Ballance Science Extension Manager Aaron Stafford.

“As a feed source home grown pasture remains your best bang for buck and with supplementary feed prices now averaging $50 a tonne more, farms that are not battling the dry conditions will find N an even more competitive tool for extending autumn lactation and maintaining herd condition.”

Aaron says products like SustaiN Green, which reduces ammonia volatilisation, offer farmers more flexibility to apply nitrogen when it’s needed most or when it suits them better, even if the weather or soil conditions often experienced during autumn are not optimal. . .


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