Rural round-up


Waikato farmer reveals his farm first in the region to get Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease – Gerald Piddock:

Henk Smit has come forward as the Waikato dairy farmer whose herd has tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

Smit walked up to the stage and put his hand up during a meeting attended by close to 600 farmers at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre near Cambridge.

He outlined how the cattle disease arrived on his farm and his frustrations with dealing with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Smit has farming interests in three properties around Waikato including the dairy farm that tested positive for M bovis. . .

Good clearance at online sale – Alan Williams:

About 96% of the wool offered in the first Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) online auction was sold.

Indications are the sale was in line with the improving tone in wool prices at the latest open-cry auctions.

Six sellers provided lots for sale and a good cross-section of New Zealand’s major wool buyers were bidding online for the 1525 bales offered on May 22, Wools of NZ chief executive Rosstan Mazey said. . .

Performing as a co-op should – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra gets a pass mark from industry observers for its performance as a co-operatively-owned business.

But they warn it cannot rest on its laurels given challenges connecting with 10,500 owners and plans for further investment in added-value and consumer products.

Fonterra Shareholder’s Council chairman Duncan Coull said Fonterra has performed as a co-operative should. It is owned and democratically controlled by members, it serves its members, returns surpluses to members and strives to operate profitably. . .

Fonterra approach farmes to switch from WMP – Brendon McMahon:

Fonterra has again approached Westland Milk Products suppliers to switch loyalties with the promise of better returns.

The West Coast Federated Farmers annual general meeting in Greymouth this week heard that Westland suppliers from Inchbonnie and Rotomanu in the south and Springs Junction in the north, were being courted by the country’s largest dairy co-operative, which has a massive milk powder factory at Darfield.

Fonterra scouts were on the West Coast several years ago, but at that time few local farmers were tempted. . . 

STRESS removes headache for hill country farmers:

Taranaki farmer Roger Pearce is confident he’s hit a good formula allowing him to make a successful living in the eastern Taranaki hillcountry without bringing nature’s wrath on himself.

…or indeed a wrath on the communities and farms all the way down to the sea.

He’s tapped into the South Taranaki and Regional Erosion Support Scheme (STRESS) to allow him to reap more of the potential of his 2000ha Waitōtara Valley property – while ensuring its soil does not erode into waterways where it degrades water quality and heightens the risk of downstream flooding. . .

Australian milk production up 3.5%

Australian milk production to the end of April is up 3.5 per cent on the same time last year, according to the latest figures from Dairy Australia.

The figures reveal April production was up 4.5 per cent compared with last year, with increases in all states except Queensland.

Tasmania led the growth with production up 19.6 per cent for April, followed by South Australia, where production was up 8.6 per cent. . .

New beginning for strong wool?


Could this signal a brighter future for strong wool and the sheep industry?:

One of the world’s largest producers of synthetic fabrics is coming to the aid of the ailing strong-wool industry.

DuPont, the 216-year-old global agricultural and industrial chemical business, and Wools of New Zealand are collaborating to develop a new, eco-friendly, wool-blend home textile yarn.

Wool ticks a lot of the boxes environmentally concerned customers care about.

It’s a natural, renewable product and in New Zealand comes from free-range sheep.

Contrary to what radical anti-farming activists try to say, wool is shorn from live animals which are treated well in the process.

The new yarn is scheduled to be released later this year or early next, prompting a “cautiously optimistic” Wools of NZ chief executive Rosstan Mazey to predict the industry could be on the cusp of significant change.

DuPont’s involvement provided product development and marketing horsepower Mazey said has been missing from the wool industry.

Initial work is under way developing what he called a super fibre for high-end carpets, which means finding the optimum blend of wool and bio-synthetic fibres.

Other super fibre products for apparel and upholstery could follow.

DuPont also has links, distribution networks and access to retailers throughout the world on a scale not available to NZ wool exporters.

“The exciting thing for us and for our growers is that this is very much a starting point and who knows where it will end.”

Mazey said if successful, the super fibre could use significant volumes of strong crossbred wool.

“It could take on a significant portion of the strong wool clip. 

“It is too early to say how much but it is exciting that it could take meaningful volumes that would lift demand for the overall clip.”

DuPont’s global segment leader John Sagrati said it will allow the creation of a sustainable, eco-friendly yarn with enduring performance.

“Bringing together world-leading source traceability and patented technology from Wools of NZ with DuPont’s global leadership in bio-sustainable, high-performance materials inspired this collaboration of expertise and products scheduled for release in 2018.” . . 


Strong wool has struggled against synthetic competitors.

But it is kinder on the environment and its flame retardant properties make it safer for furnishing too.

The aim is to produce a fibre for high-end carpets where cost is less of a concern and that could signal a resurgence in fortunes for strong wool and the farmers who produce it.

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