Rural round-up

June 14, 2018

Fieldays 2018: NZ farming ‘boxes above its weight’

Nearly 25,000 people attended day one of the 50th New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation opened this year’s event on Wednesday speaking of the changes the agricultural industry has seen over the last 50 years and introduced this year’s theme of the future of farming.

“New Zealand and our agricultural industry is vastly different to what it was in 1969 largely driven by our hunger and desire to be leaders in our special industry,” he said. . .

Time for strugglers to sell?

Heavily indebted farmers may be under pressure from their banks to sell up on the rising farm market to get out of their debt.

“Reading between the lines, it might be a case of the banks suggesting to the perennial strugglers that it is time to sell up,” said Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard.

Banks may have been waiting “until things are looking rosy” on farm prices before encouraging customers to look at their options.

Hoggard was commenting on the May 2018 Federated Farmers’ Banking Survey, which showed that more farmers are feeling under financial pressure, and are less satisfied with their banks. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis threatens to put a dampener on children’s calf day – Gerard Hutching:

Girls at Hiwinui School in Manawatu have already started choosing names for the calves they are eagerly anticipating arriving in a few weeks’ time.

But this year the bogey of Mycoplasma bovis might be the party pooper that diminishes the fun for thousands of children who enjoy the traditional lamb and calf day at their local schools.

Each spring children attending rural schools bring in the animals they have raised since birth to show their classmates, and Hiwinui with a roll of 143 is no exception. . .

Farmers deserve answers – Steve Cranston:

Most farmers would be surprised to learn there is no evidence that New Zealand agriculture is warming the planet.

All that farmers have heard from scientists, the Government and at times their own companies is that agriculture is a major contributor to NZ’s emissions.

However, what everyone forgot to tell the farmers is that no direct correlation exists between methane emissions and global warming. The problem is that the accounting method used fails to acknowledge the fact methane is constantly degrading back to CO2, and it is only when emissions exceed degradation that warming will occur. . .

Bachelors and bachelorettes go head-to-head for Rural Catch of the Year – Ruby Nyika:

There’s no rose ceremony, but the love-catch competition might just be fiercer than ever. 

The Rural Bachelor – a 13-year-running Fieldays favourite – has been revamped to the Rural Catch of the Year. 

For the first time rural women join the men vying to be crowned the most eligible rural singleton.  . .

Waikato’s Te Poi farm changes hands after 103 years with Bell family – Kelly Tantau:

A farm in rural Waikato has history seeping into its soil.

For 103 years, one bloodline resided on the 56 hectare plot in Te Poi, living through two World Wars, economic changes, births and deaths.

The family was the Bells; pioneers of their trade and strong-willed labourers well-known in the small town 9km from Matamata.

Allan Bell, the grandson of the farm’s first owners John and Minnie Bell, said the family broke new ground. . .

 60 years of milk – Co-op farmer celebrates diamond supply anniversary:

When 88-year-old Raglan farmer Jim Bardsley first started supplying Fonterra, he remembers separating his own milk.

Always  the inventor, Jim’s flying fox was one of many memories shared by friends and family at his retirement lunch. Shareholders’ Councillor Ross Wallis and Raglan Area Manager Brendan Arnet were also on hand to congratulate Jim on six decades of supply. . . 


Rural round-up

May 18, 2018

Wild West meat market – Ruby Nyika:

Complaints about food being sold illegally on social media and Trade Me have almost doubled over the past three years.

Illegal online meat sales alone nearly tripled, the Ministry for Primary Industries says. 

It’s a way to offload excess home kill and for buyers to shave dollars off meat costs, Tauwhare Home Kills owner Trevor Brunton said. 

But selling unlicensed meat – raw or cooked – online is illegal, and home-kill meat is particularly risky. . . 

Changes may lead to unforeseen problems – Pam Tipa:

Imposing changes on farming without considering wider issues such as economic and community impacts could cause unforeseen problems out ahead, says Robyn Dynes, science impact leader, AgResearch.

He was referring to Minister for the Environment David Parker saying nutrient limits may be used to reduce cow numbers.

Dynes says requirements or targets for reducing nutrient losses on farms are nothing new in many regions; most farmers are already moving that way. . . 

Good surge in strong wool prices heartening – Alan WIlliams:

Wool prices made a major advance at Thursday’s Christchurch wool sale, on large volume.

Prices remain at a low ebb but the move was heartening following gradual recent improvement, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sale manager Dave Burridge said.

The wool pipeline was moving through international markets without any stockpiles building up and a weaker NZ dollar, just below US$0.70, helped underpin the solid demand from a full gallery of buyers. . .

Farmers are suffering – Peter Burke:

Farmers and farm staff are overworked and some are facing chronic exhaustion.

That’s the view of Joyce Brown who runs StayWell – volunteer nurses who attend farm events to offer health checks to farmers.

Brown says this problem stems partly from the average age of a dairy farmer being about 58 and a drystock farm about 68. 

But it’s not only older people who are affected, she says.  . . 

New marketing initiatives – getting social :

New Zealand Winegrowers’ marketing team have launched a number of new initiatives to help promote the story of New Zealand wine.

Global Marketing Director Chris Yorke tells Tessa Nicholson about them.

Utilising digital and social media 

For many this is a strange new world of marketing yet it is one of the most important tools in the box for New Zealand Winegrowers and wineries alike. Which is why, Chris Yorke says, they are undertaking tests across all the major NZW activities in an effort to help the industry. . .

The future of food – Shan Lynch:

Today’s technology is rushing into one of the last traditional industries: agriculture.

A field largely still unaffected by the technological revolution, farming is ripe for change as need couples with opportunity.

“We’ve seen a wave of technology impact our information industries,” says Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Haim Mendelson. “Now we see another big wave of technology reshaping our traditional industries, and certainly agriculture is one of the most basic ones.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2018

Seasonal labour a vital ingredient – Mike Chapman:

Research New Zealand recently conducted a survey reporting on the impacts of the RSE scheme, where it has directly enabled:

– The area under cultivation to expand consistently over the last three years.

– The employment of more permanent and seasonal New Zealand workers.

– A more stable workforce, with better and more productive workers.

RSE workers supplement other seasonal employees, and account for roughly one in five of all seasonal workers across the country. In areas where unemployed is very low, more RSE workers are employed, while in areas with higher unemployment, fewer RSE workers are employed. . .

Storm helped cure dry spell for Waikato farmers – Ruby Nyika:

The storm that battered the North Island last week left lasting damage for some.

But for farmers, the heavy dump of rain was magic.

The lengthy dry spell that preceded it had been stressful.

I think it’s been a bit of a relief for every farmer,” Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said. “Not for the poor townies having their holidays, but for farmers it’s been a relief to get some moisture back in the ground.” . .

MPI and dairy industry extend milk testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its dairy industry partners have decided to extend the current Mycoplasma bovis milk testing underway in Canterbury, Otago and Southland into a national milk surveillance programme.

While there is no indication that the disease is present beyond the areas currently identified, checking for other possible regional clusters is essential to building a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

The programme will involve testing 3 milk samples from every dairy farm. One sample will be taken from bulk milk as part of the regular sampling process at milk collection. Farmers will also be required to provide 2 samples from ‘discard milk’ (milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis). Mycoplasma bovis is more easily identified in milk taken from otherwise sick animals, which makes testing of the discard milk a valuable surveillance tool. . .

Concern about cattle disease in Hawes Bay – Jill Galloway:

Manawatū and Tararua dairy farmers are getting anxious about future outbreaks of Mycoplasma bovis after the disease was confirmed in Hawke’s Bay.

Farmers are looking more closely at the source of their feed supplies and where they graze their young stock.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Murray Holdaway said he hoped the Ministry for Primary Industries would be able to tell farmers more in the coming weeks.

“Not as many cows go to [Hawke’s Bay] as there used to be six to eight years ago, but it is always an alternative if things get really tight on the feed front, here.” . . 

Trans-Tasman war of words over ‘mānuka’ honey gets stickier :

Australia’s honey industry is calling for an armistice in the ongoing battle over use of the term “mānuka honey”, after Tasmanian producers claimed they produced it first.

The Australian Mānuka Honey Association says New Zealand apiarists should join forces with their Ocker cousins to peacefully assert Antipodean dominance over the global market.

Mānuka honey is produced by European bees feasting on the pollen of the plant Leptospermum scoparium – known here by its Māori name, mānuka. . . 

Celebrity farmer suggests badger caused death of sheep on viral social media post :

A celebrity farmer has caused a stir on social media after suggesting badgers killed his sheep.

Martin Irvine, who has appeared in BBC documentary This Farming Life, posted a photo on social media of his dead sheep with a gory wound.

Mr Irvine wrote on Facebook: “Badgers decided to have this ewe for Christmas dinner, she’s still alive for now. About time we were allowed to control this destructive vermin!” . .


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