Rural round-up

December 7, 2018

Maize crops sick, seeds failing:

 A major seed supplier is urgently investigating reports from farmers that some of their maize crops aren’t growing properly.

Genetic Technologies Limited is the New Zealand producer and distributor of the Pioneer seeds brand and sells more than 20 hybrid maize varieties.

The crop is grown in New Zealand for the production of animal feed, either in the form of grain maize or as maize silage.

This season some farmers say up to 30 percent of their maize seeds from Pioneer have failed and other seeds that have struck are looking sick.

A tale of two milk companies – one of them is being suckled by taxpayers – Point of Order:

The contrasting fortunes of Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products were thrown into sharp relief last week. On the one hand Synlait won applause at its annual meeting from shareholders, impressed by its performance in virtually doubling profit ($74.6m against $39.4m) in its tenth year of operations. On the other hand Westland had the begging bowl out for a Provincial Growth Fund loan of $9.9m which will help the co-op in funding a $22m manufacturing plant aimed at converting milk to higher-value products.

The Westland dairy exporter, discussing a capital restructure in its 2018 annual report, said it had relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility. . . 

Sheep needed on hill country – Alan Williams:

Waikato farmer Alastair Reeves has taken umbrage at the Productivity Commission’s suggestion sheep should be cast aside to make way for trees. He reckons sheep have a great future if they are not threatened by people making decisions in isolation and ignoring the ramifications of being wrong. He’s even got a plan for wool involving the Duchess of Sussex, aka Meghan Markle.

Sheep should be at the forefront of sustainable farming on hill country rather than being tossed aside for massive tree-planting programmes, Waikato hill farmer Alastair Reeves says.

It is a disgrace for the Productivity Commission to suggest up to 2.8 million hectares of new forestry be planted as a means of achieving a low carbon-emissions economy.  . . 

Water storage essential for future resilience – as experts cite drought as a major risk to NZ:

IrrigationNZ says a recent expert discussion document on drought and climate change highlights that future national planning to improve water storage and look at a range of options to mitigate the effects of the more severe droughts forecast is urgently needed.

“More frequent droughts and more variable rainfall will affect both urban and rural communities and will mean that we will need to rethink how we manage water in the future.
For example with less rainfall forecast over summer in western areas of New Zealand, there will be more demand for water storage from both councils and farmers to provide a reliable water supply,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Elitism of another kind – Clive Bibby:

I grew up on a farm just outside the small Central Hawkes Bay town of Waipawa.

My forebears had owned sizeable tracts of farming land that had been hacked out of the bush and scrub under the Ruahine Ranges.

I am very proud to be a descendant of such pioneering folk who understood what it means to build a business from nothing and see it grow into something that makes a reasonable contribution to the local economy. They also built the first trading general store in CHB. The building still stands.

It is perhaps ironic that much of the farm land in question was in the near vicinity of the catchment area for the now defunct Ruataniwha Fresh Water Dam proposal. . . 

New tool helps farmers gauge carbon footprint:

Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ are proud to support a new carbon calculator that gives farmers a guide to the size of their carbon footprint

The tool has been developed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and Agrilink NZ, with financial assistance from Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ.

It is available at http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator. . . 

Horticulture growth retains momentum:

Horticulture growth retained momentum with a seven percent growth in export earnings since 2016, according to an updated report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 12 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust, and industry. . . 

International Boma NZ summit to help Aotearoa’s food:

A future-thinking agriculture summit will bring together global and local experts on future farming trends, exponential change, and new business models and product pathways. The summit, called Grow 2019, is designed to help Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and into the future.

Organiser Kaila Colbin says the two-day summit is an opportunity to learn about the future trends that are impacting the agriculture sector, and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. Grow 2019 will also connect groups of like-minded individuals and organisations so that together we can understand, adapt and grow in a future that looks nothing like today. . . 


Rural round-up

April 29, 2018

Dairy role model gets reward – Annette Scott:

Taupo dairy farmer Kylie Leonard believes she has a responsibility to be involved in her community but she never “in her wildest dreams” expected any special accolades for doing what she loves doing. She talked to Annette Scott.   

Kylie Leonard is passionate about her community roots that go back more than 60 years on the Central Plateau.

Her family has a long history of farming in the region where her grandparents walked from Te Aroha, in Waikato, to Reporoa to establish their dairy farm in the 1950s.

Initially pursuing a teaching career Leonard never gave up on her long-time dream to one day own a piece of land and be a dairy farmer herself. . . 

Legendary herb offers forest options – Richard Rennie:

With more than 2000 years of Chinese use as a tonic and medicine ginseng is a herb familiar to the world’s fastest-growing consumer market, one increasingly seeking traditional therapies and tonics for a growing list of modern ailments.

The fact it appears to grow exceptionally well in New Zealand under the canopy of pine tree forests only adds to the appeal this ancient herb offers as a marketer’s dream and a forester’s cashflow booster. Richard Rennie gained an insight to the herb’s potential at the country’s inaugural Ginseng Symposium.

The harvested root of ginseng has long held medicinal and healing properties valued by the Chinese and Koreans who see it as a cure for ailments including memory, fatigue, menopause symptoms and diabetes to name a few. Globally, the ginseng market for both the raw root and processed product is valued at more than US$2 billion. . .

Wairarapa pea growing ban extended:

Extending the ban on growing peas in the Wairarapa for at least a further 12 months offers the best chance of ensuring pea weevil has been eradicated in the district, Wairarapa Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

“After the 12 months we can then review whether a continued total ban, partial restrictions or other measures will be the best option going forward, based on what the trap crops show us.”. . .

Philippines-based Bounty Fresh mounts $437.8M takeover bid for Tegel –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Philippines-based poultry group Bounty Fresh Foods will mount a $437.8 million takeover bid for NZX-listed Tegel Group at a 50 percent premium to the share price, which has been beaten up after multiple earnings downgrades.

The Filippino company already has Tegel’s cornerstone shareholder Affinity Equity Partners on board, signing a lock-up agreement with the holding company Claris Investments for a 45 percent stake. The offer of $1.23 per share is a premium to the 82 cents the stock closed at on Tuesday, although it’s still a discount to the $1.55 price the shares sold at in the 2016 initial public offering. . . 

Council aims to sell dam research to recoup losses

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has lost most of the money it invested in the now defunct controversial Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, it says.

After spending $20 million on planning and resource consents, the council last year pulled its financial backing for the project after the Supreme Court ruled the council could not flood a large parcel of conservation land.

The council now wants to sell the intellectual property and research prepared for the dam.

Council chair Rex Graham believed they would be able to recover some of their investment. . . 

CropLogic’s managing director Jamie Cairns resigns, replaced by CFO James Cooper-Jones – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – CropLogic’s managing director has resigned with immediate effect, with the company’s chief financial officer appointed as acting chief executive.

The Christchurch-based agritech firm, which listed on the ASX last year, said today that Jamie Cairns had tendered his resignation and the board had accepted. James Cooper-Jones, CropLogic’s CFO and company secretary, has been appointed acting CEO. . . 

Clevedon Buffalo Co. named Supreme Champion Of Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2018:

Clevedon Buffalo Co has been named Supreme Championof the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2018, with a further eight food businesses receiving awards recognising the outstanding quality of their produce.

The food producers were assessed as the country’s finest after 186 food products from 100 producers were assessed by a panel of judges in March. The majority of judging marks were for aroma, taste, quality, with a further 20% for brand story, product and pack design and sustainability. Shortly after judging, 25 New Zealand food producers received Gold Medals and a further 57 received Silver. Champions were chosen from the highest scoring Gold Medal winners. . . 

The 25 Most Important Cheeses in America, According to Cheese Experts – Carey Polis:

The phrase American cheese used to mean only one thing: that floppy, pale orange plastic-wrapped slice of processed perfection. But when I use the phrase American cheese now, that’s not what I’m talking about (save for this great grilled cheese recipe and the occasional hamburger). Instead, I’m referring to the incredible range of cheeses handcrafted in America—from young, tangy goat cheeses in Indiana to aged, nutty cow’s-milk cheese in Wisconsin; dessert-like blue cheeses from Oregon and complex, caramel-y clothbound cheddars from Vermont.

We’re living in a dairy renaissance, people! The golden age of American cheese! What a time to be alive!

But the cheese counter can be an intimidating place; good cheese does not come cheap. So I asked seven of the country’s leading cheese experts (see their bios at the end) to share what they think are the most important (and most delicious) cheeses that define American dairy today. Beyond just how good these cheeses taste, many of them also serve as models for responsible dairy farming and helping local communities. . .


Rural round-up

August 29, 2017

A2 Milk outperforms once again – Keith Woodford:

The a2 Milk Company (ATM) took a big step forward with its 2016/17 results which were released on 23 August. Sales were up 56 percent from the previous year to $549 million, and post-tax profits tripled to $NZ90 million. The market was impressed.

Everyone knew that a strong result was in the offing, and so the shares had already risen 50 percent over the preceding three months, and almost trebled in value on a 12-month basis. The share price then rose another 15 percent over the following three days to close at $5.74 at week’s end.

The most important messages within the annual report were not about the present but the future. The picture drawn by CEO Geoff Babidge was of a fast-growing company with no debt and lots of free cash in the bank to fund ongoing developments. . . 

A School of Rural Medicine to be established:

The Government will establish a new School of Rural Medicine within the next three years to produce more doctors for our rural communities, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

“Every New Zealander deserves quality healthcare services, and we want to grow the number of doctors in rural and regional areas to make it easier for people in those areas to access other key health services,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The new School of Rural Medicine will be specifically geared toward meeting the challenges faced by high need and rural areas of the country, and will produce around 60 additional doctors per year. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led government firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to vote on ending Ruataniwha funding, writing-off $14M debt – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will vote this week on whether to stop any further investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme and write-off a $14 million debt owed by its investment company.

The vote on Wednesday comes as a result of a report into options following the Supreme Court decision to reject a Department of Conservation land swap need to create the storage scheme reservoir. 

The council’s investment arm, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co (HBRIC), owes $14 million to the council made up of $7 million of charges and $7 million of cash advances, according to the council report. For its part, HBRIC has an intangible asset of $19.5 million on its books related to the feasibility and development costs of RWSS. This was funded with the $14 million advance from the council and $5.5 million from external debt. . . 

Feds Wonder Why We Would Need A Tourist Tax?:

Labour’s suggestion of taxing international visitors to raise funds to pay for tourism infrastructure raises questions about why we can’t find the money already from existing tax.

Federated Farmers has been concerned about the pressure councils, particularly small rural councils, are under to maintain services for tourists, including public toilets and other facilities.

“We agree that tourism is placing increasing pressure on our nation’s infrastructure and these costs are being unfairly borne by regional economies.

“But surely it is possible to find the additional targeted funding for councils in need from within this already increasing area of tax take?” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Behind the hype of lab-grown meat -Ryan F. Mandelbaum:

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells. One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger. And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat. Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals. But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market. . .

Wine exports reach record high:

The export value of New Zealand wine has reached a record high according to the 2017 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers. Now valued at $1.66 billion, up 6% in June year end 2017, wine now stands as New Zealand’s fifth largest goods export.

Over the past two decades the wine industry has achieved average annual export growth of 17% a year states the Report. “With diversified markets and a strong upward trajectory, the industry is in good shape to achieve $2 billion of exports by 2020” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

More Kiwis than ever are enjoying speciality cheese:

As Kiwis prepare to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month, sales data shows we are enjoying more locally made cheese than ever before.

Nielsen data shows supermarket sales of New Zealand Specialty cheese have increased in value by 6% in the 12 months to August 2017 . What’s more, in the first quarter of 2017 Nielsen says 771, 383 Kiwi purchased specialty cheese, an increase of more than 20% compared with the same period in 2014 .

Every October the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) members host a variety of tastings, inviting cultured Kiwis to events across the country to meet cheese makers and taste their wares. . . 

Largest ever Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

2017 sees the largest National Final ever held for the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition. Taking place next Tuesday 29th August at Villa Maria in Marlborough, there will be a total of six national finalists representing six of our wine regions: Tim Adams – Auckland/Northern; Ben Richards – Hawke’s Bay; Ben McNab Jones – Wairarapa; Laurie Stradling – Nelson; Anthony Walsh – Marlborough and Annabel Bulk – Central Otago.

Bulk is the first woman in the competition since 2011, so it is great to see viticulture is very much a serious career option for both men and women. . .  


Rural round-up

July 23, 2017

Real progress can be made at catchment level – William Rolleston:

New Zealand, as we all know, is blessed with abundant water and we have it to ourselves.  

We have abundant water, but not always in the right place at the right time. For example, North Canterbury had been in drought for three years, affecting not only farmers who had to turn off their irrigators, but also rivers like Selwyn – the subject of intense media scrutiny over the early part of this year.  

In the final Selwyn River hurrah, before the rains came and ruined all the fun, The Press, in Christchurch, ran a front page article on the Irwell River where fishing had been destroyed.  . . 

The arguments for and against the Ruataniwha dam – Victoria White:

Over its lifespan, the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme has attracted its fair share of supporters and critics.

For some, the scheme promised a solution to drought problems which hampered the region’s economic development, and placed pressure on water supplies in the Tukituki catchment.

Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said without the dam, “severe water restrictions” would be placed on irrigators, which could impact their livelihood. . . 

Truffle enthusiasts converge on Waipara Valley

Truffle fanatics from around New Zealand have converged on the Waipara Valley in North Canterbury for the area’s third annual truffle festival.

The first of the fungus treasures were produced in the area only 20 years ago – but the region has quickly established itself as the country’s truffle capital.

Waipara Valley truffle grower, Gareth Renowden, said people had been travelling from as far afield as Auckland and Wellington for the festival events, which included hunts, cooking classes and truffle-themed lunches.

Mr Renowden said the truffle trade in the area had taken off and it was hoped in the future there would be a strong export industry. . . 

Wool volumes pick up, stockpiles linger :

A higher volume of wool was offered at New Zealand’s latest weekly auction as stockpiles from last season come to market.

Some 8873 bales were offered at yesterday’s North Island auction, 32% above the 6697 bales offered at the same time last year, AgriHQ said.

The auction achieved a strong clearance rate of 81%, ahead of the 74% average clearance rate in the previous season which ended June 30, AgriHQ said. . . 

Cropping farmers go to polls :

Cropping farmers go the polls in the next few weeks to determine the future of their levy-funded research organisation, Foundation for Arable Research.

Under the Commodity Levies Act growers have the opportunity to vote to renew levy orders every six years. A ‘yes’ vote will ensure FAR’s continued existence and on-going contribution to the cropping industry, while a ‘no’ vote would result in the organisation being wound up, and all research and extension programmes ceasing. . . 

Wish we’d thought of that – astounding agribusiness ideas – Ben Mack:

Agribusiness helps form the backbone of Aotearoa’s economy. Are you doing something stupendous that you think deserves to be recognised at the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards? Then enter it in the Innovation in Agribusiness & Environment category, sponsored by Bayer NZ.

The 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards are open for entries. If you’ve got an amazing product, service, process or venture – or you know someone who needs to be shoulder-tapped – now’s the time to get it out there. And to help encourage entries and showcase the categories, we’re showcasing the best innovations we come across. We focus next on Innovation in Agribusiness & Environment, sponsored by Bayer NZ.

Farmshed Labs

Anyone who has lived in Aotearoa for any length of time can attest to how important the dairy and cattle industries are to the New Zealand economy, especially out in the regions. Likewise, anyone who has worked with cows on a farm can explain the tricky art of knowing when to breed a cow to a bull, and how often such attempts are unsuccessful. But guess what? Breeding cows isn’t art – it’s science. And there’s some wearable tech that’s making that science easier than ever before. . .

Cream cheese innovation at the heart of significant new build:

Dairy lovers across Asia will soon get their first taste of an innovative new cream cheese, as Fonterra announces plans for two new cream cheese plants at its Darfield site in Canterbury.

The Co-operative today marked the start of the ambitious project, inviting Selwyn MP Hon. Amy Adams and Selwyn District Council Mayor Sam Broughton to join Fonterra management and staff in turning the first sod on the new build. . . 

Feds man honoured for contribution – Laurel Stowell:

Whanganui’s Tim Matthews calls himself an amateur policy analyst.

He won Federated Farmers’ 2017 Outstanding Contribution Award at the federation’s annual general meeting in Wellington on June 21.

A sheep and beef farmer with 1000ha of hill country near Mangamahu, Mr Matthews has been a member of Federated Farmers since 1983. He’s been the vice-president and meat and fibre chairman for the Wanganui province at various times since then. . . 


Rural round-up

May 10, 2017

Be ‘loud and proud’ Guy:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the dairy industry should be ‘loud and proud’ about their environmental credentials.
Speaking at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland on Saturday night, Guy acknowledged the great work down by farmers to protect the environment.

He noted that 26,000km of waterways have been voluntarily fenced off.

“We need to continue to tell this story not only to New Zealanders but to consumers all over the world,” he says. . .

Crunch time approaches for Ruataniwha water storage scheme – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A decision on the future of the controversial Ruataniwha water storage scheme in the Hawke’s Bay is looming, with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council set to consider a review on its risks at a special meeting tomorrow.

The council is to consider the findings of its review into the scheme and is likely to seek further advice before a formal decision is made on its future at a council meeting on May 31, it said in a statement. The review examines the legal, financial, economic, engineering and environmental elements of the scheme, and the implications of withdrawing from it. . .

Cream of dairy crop found:

New Zealand’s top dairy farmers were announced in front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre on Saturday.

Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was named the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $190,000. . .

Pasture is an excellent feed, unless you mismanage it – John Roche:

In reviewing old research for a history paper I am writing, I came across two quotes that I thought made for as interesting a discussion today as they did 70-80 years ago when they were first uttered.

The first, from the United States in 1936, states that “if a cow will eat enough immature grass to provide the required digestible nutrients and if this grass has a normal content of minerals, her ration is not likely to be deficient in any of the essential food constituents” – Woodward, 1936 . . .

Confusion cleared up :

Carrying a passenger on a quad bike is allowed only when there is no reasonable alternative, a clarification from WorkSafe states.

WorkSafe acknowledged farmers and others using quad bikes for work needed the policy clarified so they clearly understood what was acceptable in terms of carrying passengers.

It was acceptable only when there was no reasonable alternative, having considered factors such as availability of alternative vehicles, terrain and rider and passenger capability. . .

Book offers career options in farming – Peter Burke:

A new booklet aimed at inspiring young people to make a career in the dairy industry is newly published by DairyNZ.
The 32 page booklet looks at dairy farming, agriscience and agribusiness.

Opening with the value of dairying to New Zealand, it poses questions to help young people decide if the dairy sector is for them. The questions are on the themes of farming, science and business. . .

Footrot Flats made us laugh at ourselves – and talk about love, life, apartheid and more – Joyce Wyllie:

 Humour is a generous gift and I value the saying “a merry heart does good like a medicine”.

Looking at the Footrot Flats cartoon strips I recognise ourselves, our animals, our quirks and our mistakes and can laugh at them.

Murray Ball had a tremendous talent for drawing, an ingenious imagination, and above all an astute eye and ear for portraying real rural people and events. Sadly Murray died recently and I give tribute to him and his amazing gift.


Rural round-up

October 7, 2016

NZ meat industry pioneer honoured:

New Zealand meat industry pioneer Sir Graeme Harrison has won this year’s Rabobank Leadership Award in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the food, beverage and agribusiness sectors.

Harrison, the founder and chairman of one of NZ’s largest exporters, Anzco Foods, was presented with the trans-Tasman award at the annual Rabobank Leadership Dinner in Sydney, Australia, last night.

It is the second year in a row a New Zealander has taken the honour with former Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden the recipient of the award last year.

Presenting the award, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Peter Knoblanche said Sir Graeme was a “true champion of agribusiness” who had made an enormous contribution not only as a NZ business leader, but also in the international meat industry trade”. . .

Farmers say river plan will kill businesses – Glenys Christian:

Many of the more than 150 farmers who gathered in Pukekohe last Monday believe the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers Wai Ora plan will drive them out of business or severely limit what they can do on their properties.  

And Waikato University Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth told them if the plan came into force there would be a dearth of young people returning to the land.  

New Zealand enjoyed some of the best quality wild water in the world, backed up by a huge amount of environmental protection.  

She questioned comparisons made and said a lot of the research work used by the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora collaborative stakeholder group (CSG) was based on modelling without giving enough attention to the constraints and uncertainties involved, especially went it came to Overseer programme predictions. . . 

Farmers praise Northland plan – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland’s draft regional plan is pragmatic and headed in the right direction, Federated Farmers says.  

Federated Farmers Northland province found the overall thrust of Northland Regional Council policy-making was appropriate for dairy, sheep and beef cattle farmers.  

In particular, it responded to livestock exclusion rules, setback distance from waterways, farm wastewater storage, wetlands and catchment plans for improving water quality.  

It said Northland’s freshwater resources were in a reasonable state and over-allocation and nitrate loadings were not issues. . . 

A damn load of emotional effluent – Tim Gilbertson:

The Ruataniwha water storage scheme saga has gone far beyond soap opera territory: fantasy has long since replaced fact, the noisy quashing any sense.

Here are some examples. Serial anti-RWSS crusader Grenville Christie claims riparian planting stops only phosphate from entering the waterways (CHB Mail Sept 20). Incorrect. It stops virtually everything except nitrogen.

Filtering improves water quality, in some cases by up to 80% within a few months. Nitrogen enters the rivers via groundwater, so riparian planting is ineffective. But nitrogen will be severely limited by Plan Change 6, so Grenville can rest easy. . . 

Time to wake up and get safe! – Mark Daniel:

While quad fatalities keep fuelling a media frenzy, it’s time to look at the broader picture and try to understand what makes our farms such dangerous places.

Dangerous they are: statistics between 2013 and December 2015 show farmers suffered 63 deaths*; the next-highest sectors, transport and warehousing, had 17 and forestry 14 respectively during the same period.  

So the death rate on farms is around four times higher; why is that? If you’ve visited a quarry, warehouse or forest lately, you’ll know that before you get to the action you’ll be hit with rules, hazard identification, hi-vis vests, hard hats and steel-toe boots. Easy to do, you say, on a compact ring fenced site, but much harder to do in the backblocks of New Zealand. . . 

New challenge in milking goats –  Sudesh Kissun:

South Auckland farmer Hamish Noakes had no crystal ball four years ago when he pulled out of cow dairying and started milking goats.

The 40ha family-run farm at Karaka was “just too small and milking 160 cows just wasn’t working”.  

“I was always chasing my tail; I had a lot of leased blocks so I was always running around between leased blocks and running this farm,” Hamish told Rural News. . . 

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Rural round-up

July 11, 2016

Sharemilking remains a viable career path – new report:

Sharemilking as a career path is alive and well, according to a report recently released on progression in the dairy industry.

The DairyNZ and Federated Farmers-resourced Dairy Progression Pathways report, undertaken by AgFirst, explores the latest trends and statistics relating to sharemilking and examines the issues created by milk price volatility.

Federated Farmers sharemilker farm owners’ section chairperson Tony Wilding says the report shows opportunities for progression still exist but the career pathways have been changing and will continue to do so. . . 

Feds pleased Ruataniwha gets another green light:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Hawke’s Bay has another green light with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) confirming its intention to invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

HBRC today approved its $80million investment with a 7-2 vote, agreeing that all four of the conditions required for investment had been met.

The investment follows more than 190 Signed Water User Agreements in support of the scheme. . . 

Cost cutting blamed for lepto increase – Glenys Christian:

An increase in leptospirosis cases in Northland has been blamed on dairy farmers’ efforts to cut costs in a low-payout year.

While no cases were reported last year, the Medical Officer of Health has reported seven confirmed cases so far this year in the region with another under investigation.

Malcolm Fuller, Federated Farmers’ field officer for Northland, Auckland and Hauraki-Coromandel told the Auckland federation’s executive meeting he had heard of two northern farmers who were not vaccinating their herds this year.

“They can’t afford to get the vet in,” he said. . .

Support To Increase Voluntary Wool Contribution By 0.5c Gains Momentum:

Last month, one of New Zealand’s major wool growers and trustee for the Campaign for Wool (CFW), Renata Apatu of Ngamatea Station, front–footed an increase in contribution to the CFW’s activities by making an immediate commitment to up his contribution to 1c/kg, an increase of 0.5c, and challenging others to do the same.

Wright Wool Ltd, Kells Wool Ltd and Fred Tate Wools Ltd have accepted the challenge, increasing their contribution to 1c/kg also. They are now challenging others to join them, especially the bigger players who could really affect a positive increase.

“Having directly witnessed what the wool industry gets out of the activities of the CFW, an additional 0.5c/kg is one of the best returns on investment I have made,” says Mr Renata Apatu. . . 

Southland backs $250m Hollyford Highway:

The Southland District Council has unanimously backed the proposed Haast-Hollyford Highway going forward for government approval.

The controversial 130km toll road, planned by a private company, would pass through the Fiordland National Park. It is expected to cost $250 million.

The road has the support of all four West Coast councils and many local people, but needed Southland’s backing to proceed.

After a short discussion this afternoon, all councillors voted to support the project going into both the regional and national land transport programmes, to be investigated and assessed further. . . 

Shocks versus structural change is the big dairy question – Keith Woodford:

Right now, the focus of almost every New Zealand dairy farmer is on survival. It is a time when cash is king.

In the short run, it is all about turning cash inputs into milk. There can be no argument that this means using all available grass, but it also means not having hungry cows. Each farmer will find his or her way of achieving this. It may be through decreased stock numbers or it may be through appropriate supplementation to match feed deficits. In times like these, it is more important to travel the chosen path efficiently rather than to jump wildly from one path to the other.

Despite the focus on survival, it is also a good time to be thinking strategically. At the industry level, have we got it right?  In regard to what we are currently experiencing, how much of it is from one-off shocks and how much is due to structural change within global markets. . . 

The launch of The Snow Farmer ignites Cardrona’s spirit of fun – Beattie’s Book Blog:

John and Mary Lee (below right) have been at the heart of life in Cardrona for decades, establishing a world famous ski facility and saving the iconic Cardrona Hotel from dereliction. The importance of community has been integral to the Lees’ vision, their activities and adventures, significantly underpinning the local economy. Small wonder then, that the local community should gather in force to celebrate the launch of The Snow Farmer, penned by Otago Daily Times agribusiness reporter Sally Rae, at two very special events.

The first and official book launch was held at the Cardrona Alpine Resort, which the Lees hosted along with Paper Plus Wanaka. The infectious happiness of the Cardrona staff set the perfect scene, with Sally remarking that “it was like watching the characters in the book come to life.” The Lees neighbour Ed Taylor MC’d, skilfully recounting past incidents and keeping everything humming along nicely. Friend Shaun Gilbertson rather colourfully related past tales and Lyall Cocks spoke on behalf of the local council, praising John’s efforts and foresight. John responded with gratitude to Sally Rae and photographer Stephen Jaquiery for so expertly telling and illustrating his life story. John said that they were wonderful to work with and have put life into the story. He also thanks everyone who gave their time to tell their story and helped to enhance the book. . .

You can listen to Kim Hill’s interview with the Lees here. (Thanks Freddy for pointing me to this).

  Crossroads Wines to move winemaking to Marlborough:

The Crossroads Winery, in Hawke’s Bay, celebrates 25 years of quality winemaking in New Zealand. A large part of Crossroads’ success has come from its boutique, hand-crafted winemaking and small parcel sourcing within the Hawke’s Bay. In 2011, Yealands Family Wines acquired the winery and vineyards and continued to focus on the small lot, hand crafted winemaking strategy as they looked to grow the brand globally.

Yealands Family Wines was established in August of 2008 as the world’s first winery to be carboNZerocertTM since inception. Over the past 8 years, the Yealands Estate Winery has grown and developed into a state of the art winery and vineyard in Marlborough New Zealand, focused on high quality winemaking and site specific sourcing throughout the Seaview Estate Vineyard, and both the Awatere and Wairau Valleys in Marlborough. . . 

Changes to Milk NZ:

Milk New Zealand today announced that Andy Macleod, CEO of the Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group, has resigned with effect from 8 July 2016.

Milk New Zealand oversees the management of 16 farms located in the Central North Island and 13 in the Canterbury region.

Macleod joined Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group in 2013 and Terry Lee, Managing Director of Milk New Zealand, said the company valued and appreciated his contribution to the business and wished him well for the future. . . 


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