Rural round-up

June 19, 2019

Oh DIRA – Elbow Deep:

As a Fonterra supplying dairy farmer you have every right to be disappointed with the release of the Government’s changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra will still have to supply raw milk at cost to new, presumably foreign owned processors who can then export value-added product in direct competition with the co-op, all without having to establish their own supply chain.

Fonterra will still have to accept new milk under the open entry provision, albeit with a few tweaks around new conversions and environmental concerns, which is worrying enough, but wait until you delve deeper: the flawed reasoning behind keeping this provision is MPI’s  belief Fonterra can already control supply through the milk price. How this belief persists when legislation exists specifically to prevent milk price manipulation is beyond me, and this is where my disappointment turns to anger. . .

Dairy champion: a balancing act – Ross Nolly:

Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin is a primary school teacher, full-time farmer and a passionate environmentalist among other things. Ross Nolly reports.

When Trish Rankin heard her name announced as the winner of the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award she was completely taken by surprise. 

She has always followed her passions but never set out to strategically target an award.

Entering the 2013 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards and winning the 2016 Northland share farmer competition set the ball rolling for her. It brought about a realisation that people, many in the higher echelon of the dairy industry, are interested in what she has to say.  . .

Pets or steak? The inside story of a bovine brouhaha in the ‘burbs – Alice Neville:

An urban farm in Auckland has been raising cows for meat for years. This time, they decided to involve the community in the process – but the backlash was so intense, the plan was canned. Alice Neville talks to those involved about what went down, and what we can learn from the saga. 

Asprawling, hippy-esque bucolic paradise surrounded by multimillion-dollar white villas, Kelmarna Gardens is a bit of an anomaly at the epicentre of one of Auckland’s most bougie neighbourhoods.

Covering four and a half acres of council land on the Grey Lynn/Ponsonby/Herne Bay border, it’s a city farm and organic community garden headed by a trust and mainly run by volunteers. In recent years, local chefs have got behind the gardens: you’ll see Kelmarna produce name-checked on menus all over town. . . 

The foul-smelling bugs threatening NZ wine – Farrah Hancock:

Hold your pinot noir a little closer tonight. If brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves, New Zealand’s red wine could taste unpleasant. Italian stink bug expert Professor Claudio Ioriatti visited New Zealand and shared lessons from Italy’s smelly bug invasion with local growers and scientists.

Tasting notes for New Zealand’s red wines could look very different if brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves here.

New Zealand Winegrowers biosecurity and emergency response manager Ed Massey said stink bugs could cause a loss in production as well as a serious quality issue.

“They’re called stink bugs for a reason.” . . 

Organic product to tackle selenium deficiency in soils – Chris Balemi:

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation will be introduced into New Zealand this year, helping to solve NZ soil’s issue of low selenium.

Selenium is an essential trace element for ruminants and required for growth, fertility and the prevention of mastitis and calf scours. However, selenium deficiency is prevalent in soils NZ-wide. This presents an issue every farm manager would benefit from understanding better.

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation (called Excential Selenium 4000) will be introduced into NZ this year. It’s an important development because it will greatly improve on previous options for selenium supplementation on the farm.. . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate – Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 

Trump’s $16 billion farm bailout criticised at the WTO – Bryce Baschuk:

The European Union joined China and five other World Trade Organization members in criticizing the Trump administration’s $16 billion assistance program for U.S. farmers, indicating the bailout may violate international rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest farmer assistance program could exceed America’s WTO subsidy commitments and unduly influence U.S. planting decisions, according to a document published on the WTO website June 17. .  .

 


Rural round-up

February 5, 2019

They’re doing the impossible – Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki family has its eye set firmly on farm ownership. Ross Nolly reports.

When Glen and Trish Rankin entered the Dairy Industry Awards one of the things they looked forward to was the feedback from judges.

However, when it came, it was unexpected and set them aback, especially when they were told farm ownership might not be achievable.

“Feedback from the second time we entered was that we were pulling in different directions and that they couldn’t ever see us owning a farm. It felt blunt at the time but was spot on,” Trish says.

“They suggested we pool our skills and focus on driving our farm business. We’d just had baby number four, we were frantically busy but still not getting ahead. We decided to search for a 50-50 job.” . . 

Extra grazing slows start to meat season :

Good grass growth has dominated the season for central South Island meat processors.

Anzco Foods Canterbury processing general manager Darryl Tones said wet weather before Christmas caused a slower than usual start to the season but meant farmers had quite a lot of feed and the stock was in good condition.

The plant was running at ”full seasonal capacity for beef and lamb with day and night shifts operating for both”, Mr Tones said. . .

Planet-saving diet has pitfalls – Richard Rennie:

Richard Rennie examines a report that suggests the world eat far more grains, nuts and beans with less of everything else.

A report from medical journal The Lancet calls for significant shifts in the types of foods people eat.

It is a shift in diet that has the planet as much as human health firmly in mind but has been challenged on grounds New Zealand is already well down the path to providing the planet with a sustainable diet. . . 

 

Pania Te-Paiho Marsh teaches Kiwi women how to hunt – Kirsty Lawrence:

Every time Pania Te-Paiho Marsh takes a group of women out hunting she sees their confidence grow. 

What started as an innocent Facebook offer has grown into a list filled with more than 1000 women who want the experience of going bush. 

Te-Paiho Marsh started Wahine Toa Hunting in August and said the idea came about as she wanted people to live a better lifestyle. 

“I wanted to help women become more self-sufficient, to walk what I talk.”  . . 

Ozone in the vineyard – Tessa Nicholson:

The word ozone conjures up images of big holes in the atmosphere, stronger UV light, the risk of severe sunburn and CFC’s — at least in this part of the world.

However if you are a vineyard owner, then maybe you want to think again about this particular compound, as it could be a saving grace out there among the vines.

Ozone or O3, is an unstable bluish gas, that has long been recognised as a sterilising agent in wineries and dairy units. . . 

Drought and a creeping emptiness in NSW – Perry Duffin:

Smaller farming communities across NSW are shrinking in the face of economic and social headwinds but those who remain fear the current drought is accelerating the decline.

Between 2006 and 2011 the Riverina-Murray population increased by 18,000 people overall, according to the census.

But a closer look at migration data reveals smaller towns lost thousands to regional centres such as Wagga Wagga and Albury. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 5, 2018

Seed of interest planted at young age – Sally Rae:

In a year marking the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, South Pacific Seeds managing director Charlotte Connoley has become the first woman in the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association’s 100-year history to be elected to its executive. She talks to Sally Rae.

Charlotte Connoley likes nothing better than getting back to her rural roots.

As well as catching up with Kurow-based family, it was also an opportunity to share a taste of her own farming upbringing with her two preschool-aged sons.

Whether getting them in a woolshed or shifting sheep, it helped give them an understanding of where their food came from and how it was produced, Mrs Connoley (39) said. . . 

All about taking Southdown ‘to next level’ – Sally Rae:

Southdown sheep might be a breed steeped in history — it is the oldest of the terminal sire breeds in the UK — but a group of breeders in New Zealand is firmly focused on positioning it for the future, as  Sally Rae reports.

Lawrence farmer Don Murray quips he is a novice when it comes to breeding Southdown sheep.

There were stalwart breeders who had been there “forever” and from whom he had learned a lot since establishing his stud in 2006.

Mr Murray said he had always liked breeding sheep and was interested in recording. His father-in-law, who had bred Southdowns, further encouraged his interest to venture into stud breeding. . . 

Good health needs to be worked on – Mark Daniel:

Rural life, and agriculture is driven by changing seasons that dictate on-farm tasks and operations and busy times can mean pressure on owners or employees.

The pressure of a high workload over an extended period can create illness or fatigue, often in the form of the “silent killers” such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.

While you wouldn’t baulk at making informed decisions about stock, pastures or crops, it’s sometimes too easy to forget about making good decisions about the overall management of your staff and indeed your own time to keep things on an even keel. . . 

Vet’s life brings variety – Ross Nolly:

Many country kids who grow up on a dairy farm dream of becoming a vet and working with large animals. 

But even though they have probably come in contact with a vet numerous times they often don’t know the realities of the job. 

Cathy Thompson who only recently retired from the Taranaki Veterinary Centre was a large animal vet for well over 30 years. A large proportion of her workload was on the region’s many dairy farms.

When she began her career only 20% of vets were female and it was a novelty for a farmer to have a female vet attend a call-out. 

Now 80% of new vets are women. . . 

Fonterra likely to cut forecast payout to farmer shareholder:

Fonterra Cooperative Group is expected to cut its forecast payout to farmers when it publishes first-quarter results on Thursday.

Record production in New Zealand and weak global dairy prices are seen weighing on the cooperative, which currently predicts a payment of $6.25-to-$6.50 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019 season, down from a previous forecast of $6.75/kgMS and the $7/kgMS opening prediction in May. Fonterra paid $6.69/kgMS in the 2018 season. . .

Americans have planted so much corn that’s it’s changed the climate – Eric J. Wallace:

CORN FARMERS IN EASTERN NEBRASKA have long claimed weather patterns are changing, but in an unexpected way.

“It’s something I’ve talked about with my dad and grandad many times,” says fifth-generation corn farmer Brandon Giltner. Along with his father and brother, the 45-year-old lives in the 400-person village of Giltner and grows about 2,000 acres of corn each year. From above, the area looks like a blip of homes surrounded by an expansive grid of circular fields. Though Brandon’s grandfather is retired, he takes an active interest in the business. “Contrary to what you’d think should be happening, both him and my dad swear up and down [that] droughts used to come more often and be a lot worse,” says Hunnicutt. “Considering it’s been 30 years since we had a really bad one, I’ve started kind of taking them at their word.” . . 

 

More milk please – Saul Morris:

Dairy consumption is a much debated topic among nutritionists. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends reducing saturated fats to less than 10 percent of total energy intake and reducing trans-fats to less than 1 percent of total energy intake.

This recommendation is translated into “practical advice” to “replace” butter with oils rich in polyunsaturated fats and eat reduced-fat dairy foods, among other suggestions. But is this advice in line with the latest evidence, and is it appropriate for populations in Africa and Asia that currently have very low consumption of dairy products and may not find it easy to access to reduced-fat products?

A study published this month in the leading medical journal The Lancet casts doubt on the epidemiological evidence base for discouraging dairy consumption. The authors followed up, for an average of nine years, more than 136,000 individuals aged 35-70 years from 21 countries from five continents. They measured their diets using locally appropriate food frequency questionnaires and tracked their subsequent rates of serious heart disease and death from all causes. They found that dairy consumption was protective against both serious heart disease and death from all causes, and that this protective effect was particularly marked for whole-fat dairy. Milk and yoghurt both showed the same protective effect when analysed separately; cheese and butter did not show statistically significant effects. . .

 


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