Rural round-up

March 20, 2020

Government needs to help farmers – Heather du Plessis-Allan:

Here’s a challenge to this government: help farmers.

If this government is serious about doing everything to get us through this economic crisis in the best shape possible, it has to push pause on all the extra rules it is planning for farming.  Farmers are the ones who are going to get us through this

Look at Fonterra today. It’s holding its forecast farm-gate milk price of between $7 and $7.60. That is good economic news, and we’re getting precious little of that at the moment.

The world can and will stop buying thing – cruises, steel, logs, computers, any number of things – but it can’t stop eating. . .

Dairy industry profits are a bright spot in an economy heading for recession – Point of Order:

NZ’s  dairy  industry, under constant  fire from critics for its methane emissions,  pollution of  waterways  and  intensive farming practices in recent years, almost  overnight  is shaping up   to be one of the  country’s  saviours  as the economy dives into  recession.

While  other   key export sectors — tourism, forestry, education — are jack-knifed by the  coronavirus  pandemic,  the dairy industry’s earnings  more than ever before are proving it to be  what the  critics  have scorned:  “ the backbone of the economy”. . . 

Coronavirus: all shearing competitions cancelled :

The New Zealand Shearing Sports season is over with the cancellation of nine competitions which were scheduled for the next three weeks.

The cancellations include six A and P shows, with confirmation on Wednesday that the Oxford and Mackenzie shows in the South Island weren’t going ahead, following the earlier cancellations of the Methven, Flaxbourne, Warkworth and Auckland Royal Easter shows, the Waimarino and Waitomo shearing competitions, and the New Zealand Shears national shearing and woolhandling championships. . .

Bay company only Kiwi in Top 50 – Richard Rennie:

A Bay of Plenty robotics company is now ranked in the top 50 leading global agri-tech companies. 

Robotics Plus, the only Kiwi company on the list, has made the cut in an annual ranking of companies judged by global agri-tech innovation company Thrive, based in Silicon Valley. 

The Thrive platform is responsible for investing and accelerating start-up agri-tech companies globally. . .

Electronic forms are more efficient – Annette Scott:

Livestock movements will become more accurate and efficient with the introduction of electronic animal status declaration (eASD) forms.

The forms have been tested and farmers moving stock are now being encouraged to go electronic to record their animal movements.

Use of the forms is voluntarily now. . .

New Zealand grown stock feed available for drought-hit farmers:

Latest forecasts suggest New Zealand’s arable farmers have to date been less affected than other primary industry sectors by COVID-19 and the drought.

“It’s clear there are still locally-grown quality stock feed solutions available to farmers in regions hit by drought,” Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

MPI’s just-released Situation Outlook Primary Industries (SOPI) report forecasts that arable production and export for the year ended June 2020 should see revenue increase by 10 percent to $260 million. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

February 28, 2020

Farming needs policy certainty – SImon Bridges:

Our reputation as a producer of quality agricultural products is well known around the world and the sector contributes close to $48 billion in export revenue to our economy. The primary sector provides an economic shot in the arm to New Zealand, and we want to see it continue to grow.

If there’s one thing I’ve picked up from the many farmers I’ve spoken to over the past couple of years, it’s that they want certainty. Farmers and growers already have enough variables to deal with such as the weather, interest rates, disease and international markets. There needs to be a clearly sign-posted direction of travel from the Government that allows everyone to get on board without adverse effects. . .

Former National MP Shane Ardern builds New Zealand’s ‘fastest’ cow shed – Catherine

A former politician has built what could be New Zealand’s fastest dairy shed – able to milk 600 cows an hour.

Two 40-bail rotary platforms turn like giant clockwork dials side by side, and the cows choose the one they prefer to be milked on.

Shane Ardern, who farms at Te Kiri, South Taranaki, with his wife Cathy, is still remembered for driving a tractor named Myrtle up the steps of Parliament in 2003 to protest the Labour Government’s plans to impose a ‘fart tax’ on farmers.

Ardern returned to farming in 2014 after 16 years as National’s Taranaki King Country MP. . .

Southern peas please big producers  :

The Maw family, of Mid Canterbury, has been been farming at Barrhill for four generations, dating back to 1925.

They rotate a broad range of crops including cereals, grass and clovers for grazing and seed production, vegetable seed crops and peas, which are currently being harvested for produce giant, Wattie’s.

Colin Maw has been supplying Wattie’s for over 20 years.

Wattie’s farmers had vast experience in growing the very best peas with knowledge handed down and nurtured between generations, he said. . .

 

The importance of the humble blueberry – Dr David Chagné:

New Zealand is involved in a US$12.8 million USDA grant to improve the quality of blueberry and cranberry.

The four-year project, led by North Carolina State University, is part of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which funds multi-year, multi-institutional collaborative projects.

Genomics Aotearoa and Plant and Food Research Ltd have just become part of this project, and we’re very excited about what that offers – for blueberry producers here, for the New Zealand economy, the consumer and for other genomics researchers.

But what does this actually mean for us? . .

Robotics Plus a THRIVE Top 50 agtech company:

Robotics Plus, a world-leading robotics and automation company developing innovation to unlock new levels of productivity in agriculture, has been named in the THRIVE Top 50, an annual ranking of leading global AgTech companies exemplifying the best in agriculture innovation. Robotics Plus, the only New Zealand company to make the 2020 Top 50 ranking, was just one of five companies featured in the Robotics & Automation category.

Robotics Plus CEO Dr Matt Glenn says it’s a huge honour to receive a coveted spot on THRIVE’s Top 50 global list. “We’re thrilled to be showcased in such a prestigious list alongside exceptional AgTech companies from around the world who are pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation. . . 

Don’t mess with farmers – Peter Burke:

Policymakers in Ireland have learned the lesson about demonising farmers – just don’t do it.

That’s the word from a leading Irish scientist, Dr Karl Richards from Teagasc, that country’s semi-state organisation that is responsible for R&D, training and advisory services to farmers.

Richards told Rural News, at recent seminar at Massey University, that policy makers in Ireland have realised that farmers will react badly to being constantly demonised and are less likely to react positively to improving the environment. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 1, 2018

Waimea dam project may be refloated – Cherie Sivignon:

The Waimea dam project may be refloated with a revamped funding model that lowers the estimated cost for ratepayers.

Tasman district councillors look likely to be asked at an extraordinary full council meeting on Thursday to change the “no” vote they made on Tuesday and instead, agree to proceed with the dam project.

However, the issue is scheduled to be discussed behind closed doors although the high public interest is recognised with time allowed in the public forum section of the meeting for people to speak for or against the project. . .

Van Leeuwens face sell-up threat – Annette Scott:

The stress of battling Mycoplasma bovis and trying to keep a multi-million dollar farm business afloat has hit hard for South Canterbury dairy farmers Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen.

The couple blame the Ministry for Primary Industries for the impact on their business as they now face the threat of having to sell farms because of what they see as MPI’s bungling of compensation. . .

Lynda Coppersmith appointed first female chief executive of NZ Young Farmers

A tech-savvy business leader with a passion for the primary industries has been appointed to the top job at NZ Young Farmers.

Lynda Coppersmith, 48, was one of a strong line up of candidates vying for the sought-after chief executive’s position.

“I’m really excited that I’m going to be working in the primary industries again,” she said. . .

LIC introduces world leading measures to combat M. Bovis:

LIC, the largest supplier of artificial breeding services to New Zealand’s dairy farms, is introducing daily testing of bull semen to combat the threat of the Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease.

The daily testing regime is part of a raft of new measures that LIC has put in place to help protect against the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) outbreak and will give its 10,000 farmer customers additional reassurance this mating season. . .

Annabel Bulk announced as Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018:

Congratulations to Annabel Bulk who has become the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018. Ms Bulk was representing Central Otago and is Assistant Viticulturist at Felton Road.

She is thrilled to have won this prestigious title and delighted that all her hard work over the last few years has paid off. She is very passionate about viticulture and has proved she has the skills and knowledge to become one of the New Zealand wine industry’s future leaders. Ms Bulk is delighted she will be taking the trophy back to Central Otago. This is only the second time it has been won by someone in this region – Nick Paulin won the competition in 2011. . .

Robotics Plus appoints CEO as demand grows for agricultural automation:

Robotics Plus, a New Zealand agricultural robotics and automation company, today announced it has appointed Dr Matt Glenn as the company’s chief executive officer. The move comes after a period of accelerated growth for Robotics Plus fuelled by industry demand for its innovative horticulture automation technologies.

“The company is growing strongly and is well funded, so now is the right time to add a professional chief executive to lead our high calibre team. We are very pleased to have attracted someone of Matt’s calibre, he brings over 20 years of experience in business management and the commercialisation of science and technology,” says Steve Saunders, Co-Founder and Chairman of Robotics Plus, who had held the role of Acting CEO. Mr Saunders will remain an Executive Director to focus on the strategy and establishment of a US subsidiary. . .

Agriculture gearing up for “fourth industrial revolution”:

The agricultural industry is gearing up for the “fourth industrial revolution”, where machines will be replacing humans in “thinking” as well as “doing” roles.

This is according to Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, who spoke to BBC Radio 4 about the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

Although Mr Haldane has predicted that up to 50% of all jobs could be lost to new technologies, in the next four decades agri-tech will need considerable investment before it can address the labour shortage in agriculture. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 11, 2018

Urea plant upgrade hangs in the Ballance – Rebecca Howard:

The ban on new offshore gas exploration is another spanner in the works for a major upgrade of New Zealand’s only ammonia-urea production plant.

Fertiliser cooperative Ballance Agri-Nutrients has been planning a $1 billion rebuild of its urea plant at Kapuni for several years, but has been stymied by cost increases, low urea prices and the withdrawal of a cornerstone investment partner. Now it says the government’s decision to end new offshore exploration permits is another risk factor for the project.

Natural gas from the nearby Maui gas field is a feedstock for the Kapuni plant, which produces about a third of New Zealand’s total urea needs. Urea is the most widely used fertiliser for dairy farms and is also used to produce resins for wood manufacturing.  . . 

New dairy season to “hit a six” – with shaky start possible for but strong finish anticipated:

The 2018/19 dairy season is expected to “hit a six”, with a shaky start possible, but a strong finish anticipated, resulting in a third season with a “milk price starting with a six”, according to a new industry report.

In its recently-released dairy seasonal update A hit for six in 2018/19 – New Zealand dairy farmers face a triple treat, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says New Zealand dairy farmers have enjoyed a period of profitability with milk prices above breakeven – and the upcoming season will see this run continue. . . 

Hinds Young Farmer member in the running for national award:

The chair of Hinds Young Farmers is receiving national recognition for her hard work in the dairy industry.

Cheyenne Wilson is a finalist for the 2018 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award for Dairy.

The 25-year-old is an assistant manager for Nathan and Erin Christian on Lochan Mor farm near Ashburton. . .

Whanganui’s Mac Hole Drillers a one-woman operation for Renee Matthews-Cooper – Sue Dudman:

When Renee Matthews-Cooper turned up in her truck at one job, she was asked when her man would be arriving to do the work.

She’s frequently asked by male farmers if she’s okay and what they can do to help her. But Matthews-Cooper is in her element operating her hole drilling business by herself.

Matthews-Cooper and her father, Ted Matthews, bought a purpose-built mobile rig last year and set up Mac Hole Drillers, offering offal hole, soak hole and post hole digging services. It is a subsidiary of Matthews’ business Balgownie Truck & Cranes. . . 

Struggle Street stories don’t cut it for dairy farmer determined to stay afloat – Lyn Webster:

Maybe I am tired from the end of the season. Bar a short break at Christmas, I have milked every day since the payout dropped to $3.90 a kilogram of milk solids a couple of years ago, leaving me skint.

But you know what? I have actually enjoyed it.

Now thankfully the milk price is $6/kg, and there is hope of survival. I just have to keep on milking those cows and paying that lease.

I have little time for stories of people on Struggle Street – hard but true. . . 

Robotics Plus signs global deal for robotic apple packers:

Robotics Plus, a New Zealand agricultural robotics and automation company, today announced it has signed an agency and distribution agreement with GlobalPac Technologies which will see the company’s revolutionary robotic apple packers go global. The deal, which will initially target the US, Australian and New Zealand markets, is fuelling a period of accelerated growth for Robotics Plus as industry demand for its innovation grows.

GlobalPac Technologies is a joint venture between United States company Van Doren Sales and New Zealand-owned Jenkins Group. . . 

 

 


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