Rural round-up

June 20, 2019

Resilient farmer moves on to new fields:

Doug Avery, author of The Resilient Farmer, has launched a new workshop to help farmers improve their mental health and their businesses.

Avery is changing direction in his life, hitting the third age with a new venture.

Over two decades, Avery took his family farm – Bonavaree, near Lake Grassmere in southern Marlborough – from a 206ha struggle to a 2600ha multi-million venture thanks to “God’s own plant” lucerne. . . 

Fully automated milking several decades away – Dairy NZ – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Industry body Dairy NZ sees fully automated milking as a major opportunity to lift on-farm productivity, but doesn’t expect it to be commonplace for several decades.

About 44 percent of the country’s dairy herd are milked in more efficient rotary dairy sheds, despite the style accounting for just over a quarter of the nation’s sheds. About 72 percent of the country’s dairy sheds are the less efficient herringbone style.

In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the impact of technology on the future of work, Dairy NZ said rotary dairy sheds have the highest uptake of automation, with 77 percent using automated technology. However, out of New Zealand’s 12,000 or so dairy farmers, there are just 25 fully robotic dairy sheds. . .

More sheep with facial eczema amid prolonged Autumn conditions:

Prolonged, mild weather in Autumn appears to have caused high rates of facial eczema in sheep in some parts of the North Island.

The disease is caused by toxin in a fungus that grows in grass. The toxin affects cattle, sheep, goats and deer and can result in liver and skin damage and weight loss, which can stop animals from falling pregnant and in some cases result in death.

It is estimated that production losses caused by the disease are around $200 million annually in New Zealand. . .

Awards call for biosecurity champions:

Entries are now open for the 2019 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards. These Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to protecting our country against pests and diseases.

The Awards acknowledge people and organisations across New Zealand who are contributing to biosecurity – in our communities, businesses, iwi and hapū, government, in the bush, our oceans and waterways, and in our backyards.

“Some New Zealander’s don’t understand that the work they’re doing is part of our biosecurity system – from trapping, to pest and disease management in our forests, rivers and oceans, these are all biosecurity actions,” Roger Smith, Head of Biosecurity New Zealand said. . .

Primary ITO gains fresh recognition:

Primary ITO has received the Minister of Education’s seal of approval to continue its work as an industry training organisation.

Under the Industry Training and Apprenticeships Act, ITOs apply for “recognition” every five years, undergoing a thorough check by central agencies and requiring them to seek indications of support from relevant sectors.

“It is great news that the Minister has approved Primary ITO’s ongoing coverage of our agriculture, horticulture, processing and services sectors,” says Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons. . . .

Pastoral sector poised to cope with gas limits:

As the government’s rules on managing green-house gases becomes clearer, New Zealand’s pastoral sector is well positioned to handle the changes that the rules will bring to it.

Announced in early May, the Zero Carbon Bill aims to differentiate between carbon dioxide release and methane losses from livestock, and has set separate targets for each.

Farmers are required to reduce methane losses from livestock by 10% by 2030 and 24-47% by 2050, while the economy’s entire carbon dioxide emissions have to drop to zero by 2050. . .

Land O’Lakes CEO: Farmers are in crisis—and America isn’t paying attention – Beth Ford:

Imagine, if you can, a computer virus that cut the productivity of AppleGoogle, and Facebook in half. Or try to imagine Wall Street’s investment bankers seeing a season’s worth of deals washed away. Such calamities would dominate our nation’s news and drive swift political action. Yet that is precisely what America’s farmers face right now. And, as a country, we aren’t paying nearly enough attention.

Farmers are generally too proud and humble to speak out, but the truth is we are living through an extremely difficult period of market turmoil and natural disasters. Due largely to sustained low commodity prices, average farm income in 2017 was $43,000, while the median farm income for 2018 was negative$1,500. In 2018, Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the farm states across the Midwest that are responsible for nearly half of all sales of U.S farm products rose to the highest level in a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

August 7, 2018

Wool gets revived as tide turns on synthetics’ pollution of the seas – Heather Chalmers:

A new wave of socially and environmentally-conscious consumers are turning to natural fibres for their clothing and homes, rejecting polluting synthetics and plastics.  

New Zealand wool companies are already tapping into this trend, promoting wool as a natural, biodegradable and renewable replacement.

But while momentum is growing, returns remain stubbornly low for the coarser end of New Zealand wool clip.   

While shoppers may think they have done their bit for the environment by ditching plastic bags, they are being advised to look at what they are wearing and how their house is carpeted, furnished and insulated.  . . 

 Wrightson shares jump 9.4% on plans to sell seeds unit for $439M; may distribute cash – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Shares in PGG Wrightson jumped as much as 9.4 percent after the country’s largest rural services business said it had agreed to sell its seed and grain business to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds for $421 million in cash and $18 of debt repayment, and signalled it may return up to $292 million to its shareholders.

The sale is above the $285 million book value of the seeds business and follows several expressions of interest received from international parties as part of a strategic review underway with Credit Suisse (Australia) and First NZ Capital. The Christchurch-based company expects to have a net cash balance of about $270 million following the sale and could distribute as much as $292 million to shareholders. . . 

A2 doubles stake in Synlait at 23% discount – Sophie Boot:

A2 Milk will buy another 8.2 percent of Synlait Milk, doubling its stake in the company.

The milk marketing firm will buy the shares at $10.90 apiece, down 2.3 percent from the NZX one month volume weighted average price of $11.16, for a total of $161.8 million. The shares will come from Tokyo-listed Mitsui & Co, a general trading company which invests across sectors and bought 8.4 percent of Synlait at the company’s initial public offering in 2013. . .

 

New Zealand red meat sector strongly opposes European Union and United Kingdom’s WTO quota proposal;

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association strongly oppose the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom’s (UK) proposal to ‘split’ the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tariff Rate Quotas between them.

The UK and EU have officially notified the WTO of their draft tariff schedules, which propose to split tariff rate quotas that allow access for New Zealand sheepmeat and beef exports. . .

Trade outlook still bright, but not without challenges – Allan Barber:

Vangelis Vitalis, Deputy Secretary for trade at MFAT and chief negotiator for the CPTPP due to take effect early next year, gave a very thorough and enthralling presentation on the trade landscape to the Red Meat Sector Conference in Napier on Monday.

Free trade and market access are a key area of interest to the New Zealand meat industry and the economy as a whole. Vitalis stated that three assumptions underpin New Zealand’s international trade negotiations: . . 

MPI sets the record straight with Forest & Bird:

Ministry For Primary Industries 2 August 2018 MPI is disappointed that Forest and Bird thinks it necessary to make inaccurate claims about combined efforts to prevent the spread of Kauri dieback.

Forest and Bird has advised MPI that it is closing off its reserves with wild kauri as a further measure to prevent the spread of kauri dieback, says Roger Smith, Head of Biosecurity New Zealand (a part of MPI). “We welcome all efforts to protect our kauri and have been working in partnership with a wide range of organisations to support their local efforts. . .

Tour leader found with fruit fly:

Fruit fly larvae carried by a tour party leader could have devastated New Zealand’s horticulture industry, says Biosecurity New Zealand.

Biosecurity officers intercepted the larvae last month in undeclared food with a holiday group from Malaysia at Auckland Airport, says Biosecurity New Zealand Passenger Manager, Craig Hughes.

The larvae was found in chillies following x-ray screening of the tour leader’s baggage. A caterpillar was also detected in some garlic bulbs carried with the undeclared food. . .

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q3 2018: Status Quo Under Pressure in US Route-to-Market

The US has emerged as the largest wine market in the world, and by most measures, the most profitable and attractive. While wineries – both foreign and domestic – recognise the profit potential of the market, it is also widely seen as an exceptionally-difficult market to penetrate (particularly for small wineries), according to the latest RaboResearch Wine Quarterly report.

Route to the US consumer

Major changes are occurring today in how wine reaches the US consumer. “Changes in technology, business models and market structure are disrupting the global wine market and creating new sets of winners and losers among wholesalers, retailers and suppliers,” according to Stephen Rannekleiv, RaboResearch Global Strategist – Beverages. “Responding quickly to these changes will determine who survives, who thrives, and who fades away.” . .

Boy, 10, raises $60,000 in ‘Fiver for a farmer’ campaign – Shelley Ferguson:

More than $60,000 has been raised for drought-stricken farmers through a campaign started by children at a Sydney school last week.

Jack Berne, a grade four student at St John the Baptist Catholic School in Freshwater, was the instigator of “a fiver for a farmer”, and was inspired to help after learning about the struggles of those on the land in class.

Last week, Jack wrote a letter to media outlets as he tried to generate support for the cause after telling his mum that their teacher always tells them, “we can use our small and mighty voices” ..  . 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2018

Clear-cut forestry might make a profit, but local communities pay the price – David Hall:

It’s one thing to plant a billion trees; it’s quite another do it well.

Recent floods in Tasman, and now the East Cape, signal what’s at stake. Witness the logs piled up against Mangatokerau Bridge in Tolaga Bay. Or the hillsides scoured with slips in Golden Bay, left vulnerable to erosion by clear-felled forest lands. With extreme weather events expected to increase due to climate change, it is critical that we don’t plant one billion of the wrong trees in the wrong place with the wrong management system.

Our future forests need to be financially viable, environmentally sustainable, and resilient. Crucially, we also need forests that people want to live with, to be nurtured and protected in future decades. . .

Source unclear but charges likely:

It is becoming increasingly evident pinpointing an exact path for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis into New Zealand might never happen though charges for Biosecurity Act breaches are pending.

The Primary Industries Ministry has not said how it thinks the organism entered the country.

While speculation is rife that European-sourced semen is the most likely suspect, Biosecurity NZ head Roger Smith said investigations do not support that.

The M bovis strain has been confirmed as of European descent but is also occasionally found in America. . . 

FROM THE RIDGE: Showing resolve and compassion– Steve Wyn-Harris:

As we all know, the Government has made the big call to have a go at eradicating Mycoplasma bovis from the country.

It is supported by our own industry bodies.

They were damned if they tried and damned if they didn’t but have shown faith in the scientists and experts and believe there is a reasonable chance of achieving the goal.

Leadership can be a difficult place at times like this and I respect the resolve, compassion and decision-making Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor have shown over this very difficult matter.

I’ve had several conversations with farmers from South Canterbury who have been dealing with the consequences of this disease. . . 

A smorgasbord of agricultural issues – Keith Woodford:

[For the last three years I have been writing fortnightly columns for NZFarmer, which is delivered free to all New Zealand farmers. However the agricultural press in New Zealand is undergoing major change. One part of that change is that Stuff (formerly Fairfax) is now moving towards a digital focus and will cease to publish the weekly NZFarmer. This was my farewell column  to NZFarmer.]

With the impending demise of NZ Farmer, this will be my last article published here. So, I had to give a lot of thought as to what I wanted to say.

Right now, we are surrounded by forces for change. There are so many topics that could be covered. So, I have decided to provide a smorgasbord of key issues.

Mycoplasma bovis
It would be impossible to walk away without saying something about Mycoplasma bovis.  This disease, and the way we have chosen to respond to it, will change many aspects of dairying going forward. My personal perspective is that we might struggle to eradicate the disease, but if we do fail, we will still succeed in managing the disease. There are many worse diseases. . . 

Significantly more Māori farms are grassland, stats show :

Four times as much Māori-owned farmland is grassland, compared to the rest of New Zealand farms, statistics show. 

By June last year, an average of 590 hectares of Māori farmland was grassland, compared to an average 147ha of other farms. 

The Statistics New Zealand figures showed more than eight times more Māori-owned land was covered in plantation crops. . . 

Sanford appoints Fonterra executive Katherine Turner as new CFO – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford has appointed Katherine Turner as the new chief financial officer of New Zealand’s largest listed seafood company.

Turner has worked for 25 years in various finance roles, almost 12 years of which were with the country’s largest company, Fonterra Cooperative Group, where she was most recently commercial director for Fonterra Brands, New Zealand’s biggest fast-moving consumer goods business responsible for brands such as Anchor, Mainland, Fresh’n Fruity and Tip Top. Prior to Fonterra, Turner had nine years in finance roles with French dairy company Danone in New Zealand and France. . . 

Fit for calving – Farmstrong:

Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson is on a mission to reduce the number of injuries to female calf rearers during the physically demanding calving season.

She’s created a six-week online conditioning and strengthening initiative for women to prepare their bodies for the physically gruelling calving season, which is currently under way in many parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of information out there about things like getting meals and the kids ready for calving season but not a lot about getting your body ready,” says Nicole, a mother of two young boys. . . 

New Zealand scientists are breeding sheep to fart and burp less – Jon Daly:

New Zealand researchers are curbing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions one sheep fart at a time.

Scientists at Invermay Agricultural Centre in Mosgiel, about 360km south-west of Christchurch, have bred climate-friendly sheep that produce 10 per cent less methane than their gassy counterparts.

Livestock emissions are the biggest contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and make up about 10 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions. . .

 


Rebuilding trust

May 29, 2018

The government’s decisions to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is an expensive one, but not eradicating it would be even more costly:

The Government says it has reached an agreement with farming sector leaders to attempt to eradicate the disease from New Zealand.

The cull, of around 126,000 in addition to the 26,000 already underway, will take place over one to two years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said to not act would cost even more than what would be spent on trying to eradicate it – $886 million.

$1.3b over 10 years was the estimated cost of not acting.

“Today’s decision to eradicate is driven by the Government’s desire to protect the national herd from the disease and to protect the base of economy – the farming sector,” Ardern said.

“This is a tough call – no one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd,” she said.

“I personally do not want to look back on this time … and say I wish we had tried harder.

“We have this one shot to eradicate, and we are taking it together.

“We want New Zealand to be free of it,” Ardern said.

The Government will meet 68% of the cost and Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand will meet 32%. . . 

Farmers have mixed views on the wisdom of this decision but it’s backed by DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb, Federated Farmers and the National Party.

Culling all the cattle will be devastating for farmers and sharemilkers but at least the government has committed to much faster action on compensation claims:

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said:

. . “I’ve also asked MPI to revisit the compensation process and they’ve developed a new streamlined approach for those whose animals are culled to enable a substantial payment within a matter of days.

“Farmer welfare is crucial and I’d like to thank the Rural Support Trusts for the work they’re doing. With this decision we know more help is needed and the Government and industry groups are committed to helping farmers through this stressful time. . . 

No-one thinks eradicating the disease will be easy and as David Williams writes, another  difficult task will be rebuilding trust in MPI:

. . When the dust settles, and the debate about eradication – or not – is over, MPI needs to start listening. Listening to farmers, to vets, to business people. Because I think MPI’s biggest job is not getting rid of M. bovis, it’s regaining trust. . . 

(MPI admits compensation payments have been too slow. Biosecurity response director Geoff Gwyn told Newshub: “I lose sleep over the fact there are people out there suffering as a result of the actions we’re putting on, and I know it’s cold comfort for them, but they are taking a hit for the national herd.”)

It doesn’t stop there, however. Criticism of MPI is also happening in the supermarket aisles, over the bar in rural pubs and over farm fences. Most importantly, it’s happening at the dining table, shaping the attitudes of the next generation of farmers. Many are probably saying the same things as the infected farmers – but some are undoubtedly going further.

In South Canterbury, there’s talk that there have been signs of disease in some herds for years. Given what’s happened, some are asking why authorities were told at all.

Trouble ahead

That’s the biggest problem. A few people tell me the way MPI has handled this outbreak means, they think, some farmers won’t be inclined to report problems in the future. They don’t think MPI has their back. This is not to defend such behaviour, but to give the authorities a heads-up. If that attitude spreads like M. bovis has, there’s trouble ahead.

As with TB, farmers must be confident that if they report a problem it will be taken seriously, they will be treated fairly and compensated quickly.

Without that confidence, some farmers will be tempted to quietly shoot and bury infected stock.

Of course, in Roger Smith’s perfect world, everyone would do the right thing. But human nature – as proved by the failure of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system – tells us that doesn’t always happen.

MPI can’t possibly put field officers in every farm, so it has to rely on farmers to report problems. But this mood of mistrust, born of M. bovis, creates a climate of fear and self-reliance rather than faith in the system. The country needs faith, however, and it’s up to MPI to restore it.

What we’ve seen in recent months, however, is farmers turning on farmers, as the secrecy over which farms are infected leads to suspicion and accusation, not just about who knew what but when they knew it. The slowness or non-existence of compensation payments is an added stress. Businesses are failing, people are struggling and MPI is coming across as detached and cold-hearted.

At a national level, Federated Farmers says its members have to lift their game, particularly when it comes to animal identification and tracing. (Northland’s branch is calling for a full, independent inquiry about MPI’s approach to biosecurity.) Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has instructed officials to take a tougher approach to compliance with the tracing system, NAIT. These conversations should have been had years ago.

Problems with NAIT – both the system itself and compliance – must be addressed and addressed quickly.

The tougher conversations are to be had face-to-face with farmers. Yes, there needs to be a better job of selling the benefits of NAIT – that’ll help uptake. But the crucial conversations will be farmers telling MPI what they need, how best to help them and how, when the next outbreak hits – because it will – the ministry can improve its response.

Of course, just because the farmers are talking, doesn’t mean that MPI will listen.

MPI has lost the confidence of farmers.

They didn’t appear to realise the human and financial cost to farmers whose businesses have been threatened and the importance of clear communication and speedy settling of compensation.

Eradicating M. bovis must be its primary focus but it must take seriously the criticisms aimed at it and ensure that its systems and staff training improve so it and they regain farmers’ trust and are ready and able to respond faster and better to the next biosecurity incursion.

MPI’s media release gives some hope that it has already learned from its mistakes.

We understand this will be painful for farmers who are affected, and we are committed to looking after those who have Mycoplasma bovis on their farms.

If you are a farmer and need support, help is available through your industry group representative, individual response case manager, or the Rural Support Trust.

• Rural Support Trust: 0800 78 72 54

• MPI: 0800 00 83 33

Industry representatives:

• Dairy NZ: 0800 43 24 79 69

• Beef + Lamb NZ: 0800 23 33 52

• Federated Farmers: 0800 32 76 46

We’re calling on rural communities to support each other, especially affected farmers and those that appear to be finding it hard. If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services.

Download the Looking after yourself fact sheet [PDF, 813 KB]

Compensation

Compensation is available for anyone who has verifiable losses as a result of directions they are given by MPI under the Biosecurity Act to manage Mycoplasma bovis.

Farmers that are directed to have animals culled or their farm operations restricted under movement controls will be eligible for compensation. In particular, farmers whose animals are being culled will receive an initial payment for the value of culled stock within 2 weeks of a completed claim being lodged.

Learn more about Biosecurity Act compensation

Mycoplasma bovis compensation claim form user guide [PDF, 446 KB]

MPI must now ensure its actions match its words, and to date, this from Keith Woodford, shows they haven’t:

There are going to be huge challenges for MPI. To date, they have not covered themselves in glory. All members of their response team will have been working hard within imposed limits, but the MPI system has let them down with too many layers of management and an inability to make timely operational decisions for each farm.

The most urgent issue right now relates to all of the NOD (suspect) farms in the South Island that have their cows and their feed in different locations. As just one example of many, there is a Mid Canterbury farmer I know of who is caught in the constipated bureaucracy and as of today still cannot get approval to shift his stock less than two kilometres to another farm he owns (and which he agrees will then also become a NOD farm).

These cows need to be moved and should have been progressively moved over recent weeks as they were dried-off, if they are to have feed to eat. This farm is not one of the infected properties, rather it is just one of the 300 NOD suspect properties.

We don’t know how many farms are in this situation of cows isolated from their winter feed, but almost certainly well over 100. This is not the ‘gypsy day’ situation but something quite different. And it is a big animal and human welfare issue.

There should be no hold-up over permission to move stock from one block to another owned by the same farmer who agrees to it becoming a NOD farm.

The Government appears to be underestimating the complexity of the compensation claims. The challenge is that claims have to be ‘verified’, but loss of income claims are always debatable. Claim settlements require agreements on what would have happened and by definition that is impossible to verify objectively.

An MPI source advises that any claim over $75,000 requires five separate signatures across various ministries from within the Wellington bureaucracy after the technical assessors have reached agreement. Given the future tsunami of claims, from both infected and suspect properties, and the reality that almost no claims have yet to be settled except in partial amounts, there will be a need for a separate and preferably independent Claims Assessment Commission. . . 

 

This map shows the extent of the known spread of the disease. It looks bad and it is.

But so far all cases can be traced back to a single source, all infections are the same strain and nothing has been traced back further than 2015. It is a lot of farms and a lot of cows and devastating personally and financially for those affected.

Eradication will require a huge effort by the farmers affected and MPI and big changes within the dairy industry and those who support and service it.

 


Rural round-up

May 16, 2018

Outbreak response criticised – Sally Rae:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has not been ”up to the job” when it comes to dealing with the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, Federated Farmers national board member Miles Anderson believes.

Speaking at Otago Federated Farmers’ annual meeting in Balclutha yesterday, Mr Anderson said he was a ”bit disappointed” in MPI’s response.

Once the outbreak was dealt with, industry needed to have a debriefing with MPI and work out how improvements could be made. ”It’s currently not acceptable the way it’s going,” he said.

There were people with neighbouring properties that were infected who had not been informed, while there were other farmers who had cattle of interest to MPI who were unaware of that.

Communication needed to be worked on initially, Mr Anderson said. . .

Mycoplasma bovis: the ground has shifted with a megathrust – Keith Woodford:

Events of recent days demonstrate that eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is no longer a realistic option. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is scrambling to get its messaging together. New strategies are now needed.

As I write this on 13 May, the MPI website still refers in its text material to 38 infected properties. But the latest version of the infection map from MPI tells a very different story (see below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is apparent from comments by BioSecurity NZ Chief Roger Smith to a Parliamentary Committee on 10 May, that the sudden growth in infected and suspected infected properties has come as a big surprise. That may well be so to the Wellington officials, but it will be much less of a surprise to those who have been working closer to the cows. . .

Guy Trafford says although MPI are slow to accept it, containment of MPB is the future with a long-term eradication plan as was used with TB. That will change dairying:

There is consensus from every-one, except perhaps MPI, is that the mycoplasma bovis has bolted and probably had some time ago.

This whole episode has been hampered by things not working as well as they should have. Somehow the disease got in when it shouldn’t have been able.

NAIT was shown to be very deficient from farmers using it through to MPI administrating it.

The testing processes despite earlier assurances still appears not to be able to provide the accuracy required to be able to make decision that affect whole families lives and livelihoods. . . 

Hunt on for rogue Northland wallaby – Andrew McRae:

High-tech surveillance equipment and two tracking dogs have been called in after a wallaby was spotted in South Hokianga.

Staff from Northland Regional Council and the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Te Roroa iwi members are scouring about 500 hectares of farmland and native bush.

Council biosecurity manager Kane McElrea said a person had seen a wallaby on at least two separate occasions at their Waimamaku property in recent months, but did not initially appreciate the potential significance of the sightings. . .

Browns win gold for sustainability:

Matamata farmers Edward (Wynn) and Tracy Brown are the inaugural winners of the Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award.

The award was presented at the NZ Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) in Invercargill last Saturday.

The Browns are considered leaders within the dairy industry, in all areas of sustainability, business and farm management, as well as in the way they give back to the industry and community. . . 

Duncans scoop Share Farmer of the Year title –  Sudesh Kissun:

Northland farmers Daniel and Gina Duncan are the 2018 Share Farmers of the Year. 

The former registered land valuers are 50:50 sharemilkers for the Pouto Topu A Trust. The 460ha property on the Pouto Peninsula,at the northern head of Kaipara Harbour, milks 1020 cows.

The Duncans finished top in three of the nine judging categories, winning the PrimaryITO Interview Award, Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award and Westpac Business Performance Award at the awards night in Invercargill. . .

Call for extra focus on tax treatments – Yvonne O’Hara:

Farming employers and employees are being urged to talk more about tax and benefit allowances, Federated Farmers manager general policy Nick Clark says.

Inland Revenue is consulting on the question of what the tax treatments should be for allowances paid and benefits provided to farm workers, and people have until Friday to make a submission.

Mr Clark said benefits allowances covered things such as boarding school fees, while reimbursement allowances were given for things such as wet weather gear and dogs. . . 


Rural round-up

March 14, 2014

Concern over dry conditions in Waikato, Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has visited the Waikato today to see first-hand the challenging dry conditions facing farmers.

“Most farmers are managing the dry conditions in Waikato and Northland, but it’s becoming difficult for some. The last few months have been very dry as pasture has browned off.

“Rain is forecast to hit the upper North Island this week as the remnants of Cyclone Lusi hits New Zealand. Any rain will be gratefully received by farmers.

“At this stage, the Government has not been asked to declare an ‘adverse event’ in any region. MPI have been providing me with regular updates and I’ll be watching these dry conditions around the North Island closely.

“Farmers are not interested in handouts, but they want to know the Government understands the challenges they are facing. That’s why I’m here today to see firsthand how they are coping with the conditions. . .

Irrigation share offer a test run – David Bruce:

An irrigation scheme designed to bring water to about 40,000ha in the Waimate area and create up to 1200 jobs has taken a big step forward with farmers being offered shares, which will help determine if it is feasible.

The Hunter Downs scheme, originally estimated in 2009 to cost about $200 million, was first mooted about eight years ago and Hunter Downs Irrigation Ltd has now issued a prospectus offering 40,000 shares to fund investigations to see if the scheme is viable.

The company needs to sell at least half of the shares, at $200 a share, for the share offer and scheme to proceed. . .

Dunne deal on doing things differently:

THE MINISTRY for Primary Industry (MPI) will look “quite different” as a result of an “alignment process” that started last week, says the new chief executive, Martyn Dunne.

Three months in his new role, he is ringing changes. For example, he has appointed deputy director-general Roger Smith to head MPI’s operation in China and is about to appoint two more staff there. He’s also adding staff to other key diplomatic posts in countries where market access is an issue.

Dunne told Rural News the “alignment process” is to meet the huge expectations and demands on his organisation. MPI and its previous incarnations have undergone almost constant restructuring for 25 years, but Dunne denies this is the case with the current moves.

“I don’t call it a restructuring and the staff don’t see it that way,” he says. “Normally restructuring is something driven by cost pressure and other demands and generally results in a downsizing. . .

Positive step in Fonterra accepting charges:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see Fonterra has accepted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) four charges over the whey protein concentrate recall last year.

“This scare has been invaluable learning curve for Fonterra and they are making positive changes already to make sure this never happens again,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Our reputation for food quality and safety is paramount to our success on the world stage. Whilst this product recall was a false alarm it has unearthed some flaws in Fonterra’s system. By whole heartedly accepting the charges laid by MPI yesterday, Fonterra has shown they are on the front foot of this issue. . .

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Raise Reputation:

The major winners in the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards, Duncan and Kim Fraser, have become role models in the industry after raising their profile from entering the awards.

The couple won the 2014 Manawatu Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title last night “One of the benefits of the awards is that it does raise your profile in the industry and so opportunities are now coming to us. People are also now coming to us to seek advice,” the Frasers say.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Awapuni Raceway were Sam Ebbett, the Manawatu Farm Manager of the Year, and Hayley Hoogendyk, the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Hot contest for dairy awards spurred on by record prize pool:

The region’s top dairy farmers will be revealed this Friday as they compete for a coveted spot in the national final and a share of the record $710,000 prize pool.

Several hundred people are expected at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Taranaki dinner at The Hub in Hawera where winners of three categories will be announced: Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The winners of each category will join entrants from 10 other regions around the country vying for the national titles to be announced in Auckland on May 9. . .

Extra feed equals extra dollars for dairy farmers:

With farmgate milk prices at an all-time high, maintaining production for the final months of the season is a priority for dairy farmers, and getting those extra kilos of milk solids means making some good calls around feed.

Low rainfall and drying winds in some parts of the country is slowing grass growth, while in other regions, there has been enough rain to maintain good pasture conditions. Ballance Agri-Nutrients General Manager Sales, Andrew Reid says farmers taking stock of mid-summer feed supplies can look to Ballance for the right advice on nutrient choices to keep herds producing.

“Because we take cover the complete farm nutrients spectrum, we’re in a good position to help farmers use forage and supplementary feed to keep up production. What to use, and when, will all depend on individual farm goals and weather conditions.” . . .

New rural masthead to showcase the best of our rural products to farmers:

Entrepreneurial agritech firm Bell-Booth has signed up to showcase their innovative probiotic products Queen of Calves™ and X-Factor™ through the new rural masthead product, Field Trials, being launched by “The rural sector is our nation’s backbone,” says Richard Stevens BrandWorld’s managing director.

“It’s also the single largest opportunity for many goods and services with around 68,000 holdings nationwide and an average per farm spend of $341,000 each year.

“With those sorts of budgets farmers are very astute businessmen so you have to find clever ways to reach them. Good suppliers like Bell-Booth know the trick is not to sell to those farmers but to give them the information they need, in a format they understand so they can make the best decisions they can.” . . .

Local Baby Formula Maker NuZtri reaches milestone with first shipment to China:

New Zealand owned Best Health Products Limited, producers of NuZtri Premium Formula and fortified Milk Powder today dispatched their first shipment of Fortified Milk Powder destined for the Chinese market.

“We have been waiting for some time for this day to arrive, finally NuZtri has dispatched our first shipment of Premium Forfeited Milk Powder to China” said Craig Calder General Manager of NuZtri.

“NuZtri has invested a considerable amount of money researching and developing a Premium Milk Powder product in New Zealand for the Chinese consumers. The demand for our product is high”. . .


Rural round-up

March 21, 2013

MPI investigates GM breach:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating how a genetically modified (GM) fungus came to be used outside approved containment facilities at Lincoln University’s campus.

All samples and plant materials known to contain the modified fungus have been secured. MPI is now checking if any other materials may have been inadvertently exposed to the fungus.

“Based on what we know at present, the potential biological risks from this discovery appear very low,” says Roger Smith, MPI Deputy Director General, Verification and Services. 

“At this stage, we believe it is unlikely any potentially genetically modified Beauveria bassiana fungus has spread further. The fungus in question was found indoors in glass houses and laboratories with restricted access,” says Mr Smith. . .

Grasmere water plan request declined – Tim Fulton:

Resource consent has been declined for a plan to irrigate a high-country station in central Canterbury, on the basis it would potentially have too much impact on landscape values and water quality.

The hearing commissioner said it was one of the most difficult, finely balanced decisions he had had to make.

P&E, run by Pete Morrison and Liz Nattrass, from Darfield, wanted permission from Environment Canterbury to divert, take and use water from Cass River to irrigate pasture for sheep and beef cattle. The 35-year consent would have required disturbance to the river-bed.

The land involved was on both sides of State Highway One, just east of Arthur’s Pass. P&E owns more than 550 hectares at Lake Grasmere. . .

Leadership skills programme an ‘eye-opener’ – Sally Rae:

When Amanda Hasselman returned home to Glenorchy after attending a leadership skills programme in Wellington, she admits her brain was ”fizzing”.

Mrs Hasselman, of Temple Peak Station, was among 16 rural women who attended the course run by Rural Women New Zealand.

During the three-day programme, the group heard presentations from leaders as diverse as Fish and Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson and former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast. . .

Tree lucerne planting should be widely encouraged – Alan Diak:

Present drought conditions are spreading and will remain with us for some time.

Short term, dairy production will suffer as will the welfare of cattle. Long term, sheep, beef and dairy production will be affected into next year.

There is little that can be done with this drought for animal welfare and production. However, let us look positively to the future.

I am of the opinion that the benefits of establishing tree lucerne as a fodder crop on farms to support livestock during stress periods because of feed shortages from whatever cause should be encouraged and supported by everyone. . .

A big call on imported pig meat:

With the Court of Appeal dismissing NZPork’s appeal over the Import Health Standard for imported pig meat, Federated Farmers believes this now leaves considerable uncertainty.

“We were not surprised at the outcome because the Court of Appeal case was limited to an examination of process and not science,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Food Production spokesperson.

“It seems inevitable raw pork will be imported from countries which have the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). . .

Waikato Times letter of the month – Quote Unquote:

The skinny: we’ve had a drought over the whole country because farmers use PKE as a stock-feed supplement, which causes climate change. And something about chocolate. I have passed this on to my wife’s colleagues at AgResearch in Ruakura as the connection probably hadn’t occurred to them.. .


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