Rural round-up

October 21, 2020

Urban New Zealand – you have been lied to – Jane Smith:

 Environmentalist and farmer Jane Smith says she wants to make urban New Zealand aware of the true long term costs of “headline-grabbing heroic environmental crusades”.

Urban New Zealand you have been lied to. You believed someone had your back, a master plan, a blue print for the future. In its place is a lonely black box. They say the devil is in the detail. There are no details – only hyperbole and headlines.

At record speed, New Zealand is blindsiding opportunities to embrace the unique advantage we have as a sustainable island nation.

As a humble food producer, environmentalist, taxpayer and common sense advocate I can’t help but analyse all aspects of policies, not just a one-sided narrow environmental view. . . 

Farmers want Labour to govern alone – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are anxiously waiting to see whether or not Labour will choose to govern alone or bring in the Green Party.

In one of the elections biggest surprises the strong National electorate of Rangitata swung with Labour candidate Jo Luxton winning the seat – becoming the first Labour MP to do so.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark said he has heard of farmers voting strategically.

“I think potentially plenty of farmers have voted Labour so they can govern alone rather than having a Labour-Greens government- there’s been a lot of chat around about that but each to their own, the people have spoken.” . . 

IrrigationNZ appoints Vanessa Winning as new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ is delighted to announce that Vanessa Winning has been appointed as the organisation’s new chief executive starting on Monday 19th October, based in its new Wellington HQ.

Vanessa is a strategic executive leader with over 20 years experience in the agriculture, banking and corporate sectors with excellent stakeholder management and engagement skills.

Vanessa was most recently General Manager Farm Performance at DairyNZ, where she led a large team across the country to help farmers improve their businesses and reduce environmental impacts. Prior to DairyNZ, Vanessa spent 18 years in banking; trade; product development; marketing and communications. Vanessa has a commerce degree in economics and management, and a postgraduate degree in marketing. . . 

The cavalry arrives — finally! – Sudesh Kissun:

The first batch of overseas drivers for local agricultural contracting work is expected in the country next week, says Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) chief executive Roger Parton.

He says 119 applications filed on behalf of members by RCNZ were approved by the Ministry of Primary Industries and passed onto Immigration NZ for final verification and issuance of visas.

After arriving in the country, the drivers will spend two weeks at a Government quarantine facility. The cost will be met by the sponsoring contractor. Visas are being issued for six months and this includes the two-week spent in quarantine.

Parton says contractors will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. . . 

Family farm and sport combine for simple balanced life – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Farmer, husband, father, multisporter: Hamish Mackay prides himself on keeping life simple.

He owns Spotts Creek Station, a 1300ha property in the Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka, that he runs himself, with a bit of help from his father and uncle.

“I don’t have health and safety, PAYE or employment contracts, because I don’t need to, and because it’s frustrating. Keeping things simple is my priority.”

The straight-talking eldest son of Don and Sally Mackay grew up on Motatapu Station, near Wanaka, one of four stations in the Wanaka-Queenstown high country leased from the Crown by Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain’s ex-husband, Robert Lange. . . 

New Tasmanian program to look at wool workforce needs – Caitlin Jarvis:

Tasmania’s shearer shortage will be put under the microscope as part of a new program run by Primary Employers Tasmania.

PET has secured funding from Skills Tasmania to run a program to examine the present and future workforce needs of wool.

Shearers and wool classers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the inability to move around the country.

Border restrictions and quarantine measures have left some shearers stranded in a state, other than the one where they normally live. . . 


Rural round-up

August 13, 2020

Workforce gap will hobble spring/summer production – Feds:

Tens of millions of dollars’ worth of farm production and the jobs of other workers are at risk if the government continues to dither on allowing a limited number of skilled agricultural machinery operators into New Zealand.

“Federated Farmers has been working with Rural Contractors NZ on this issue for several months,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.
“It has almost gone past critical now because we’re on the cusp of Spring activity and we need to get these seasonal workers on flights and into quarantine for two weeks.”

Exemptions have been allowed for workers laying synthetic tracks for horse racing, for the movie industry, and others. . . 

‘High $20/hour’ jobs available, but where are the workers? – Esther Taunton:

Southland’s Waipounamu Contracting is in dire need of people to drive its tractors and heavy machinery.

Human resources manager Emily Hawker said the company usually employed 15 to 20 workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland for the busy harvest period from November to March.

But with the borders closed to all but the most essential workers due to coronavirus, Waipounamu is scrambling to find Kiwis to fill the roles.

In a normal year, the business has room for two or three inexperienced employees but this year there could be up to 15 inexperienced operators, a “recipe for disaster”, Hawker said. . . 

Can strong wool find a new El Dorado? – Keith Woodford:

There are opportunities for strong wool based on quality and sustainability but it needs action plus applied R&D rather than more reports

There was a time when strong wool was used widely for garments. That included woollen underwear, woollen shirts, woollen jerseys and woollen jackets.  Apart from the fine wool produced by Merino sheep, those markets have largely been swept aside by synthetics.

There was also a time when carpets were predominantly of the woollen type. Then some lower cost but inferior synthetic carpets came along. And then some superior synthetic but still lower cost carpets came along. As with garments, the strong wool carpets have been largely swept aside. Strong wool carpets do still exist, but they are now a niche. . . 

Holding out for a better future – George Clark:

Timaru’s last large-scale wool merchant still holds hope for a strong future.

Terry Mulcahy, who died in 2013, started Mulcahy Wool and Skins in 1948.

His son, Barry, took over the business in 1985 and has remained in the wool industry ever since.

The company handles slightly more than 7500 bales a year, ranging from coarse crossbred to fine merino.

Mr Mulcahy has seen it all, from the height of the wool boom to this month’s market lows. . . 

From uncertainty to business owner – George Clark:

It is a yarn borne out of Covid-19.

With the tourism industry facing economic uncertainty, Canadian expat Kate Jones believed it was the right time for financial diversification.

At the beginning of June, Ms Jones was working a reduced and subsidised 20 hours a week for Mt Cook tourism company Alpine Guides while continuing plans for life on a Mackenzie lifestyle block.

Bought last year, the 4ha property just outside Twizel would become home to herself and Kiwi partner Chris Mackie. . . 

Another bumper year ahead?  – Sudesh Kissun:

Avocado growers are looking forward to another bumper year despite the global economic uncertainty.

NZ Avocado says the 2020-21 season crop is “looking very good on the trees”, with an expected 10-15% increase in volumes.

Last season, avocado growers received $154 million for their crop, a $10m increase over the previous season.

Exports rose 26% to 3.8m 5.5kg trays. Asian markets including Thailand, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan received 35% more volume, meeting the industry’s objective to grow volume to the region. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2020

Leading by example – Gerald Piddock:

Being responsible to their land, animals, people and their community has earned a Hawke’s Bay couple the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. Gerald Piddock reports.

Being a responsible dairy farmer means more than just being industry role models to Nick and Nicky Dawson.

It involves working beyond the farm bubble in the wider community and nurturing the health of people, the environment and their animals.

“It’s all interconnected,” Nicky says. 

“It’s like a three-legged stool. You can’t have one without the other.” . . 

Time running out for ag contractors as spring approaches – Gerald Piddock:

October is looming as a crunch-month for agricultural contractors and dairy farmers as the scramble continues to find staff to drive machinery to plant summer feed crops and cut grass cut for silage.

Waikato Federated Farmers vice-president Ben Moore said there was huge concern that contractors would not have enough staff on the ground to meet demand from dairy farmers as border restrictions continue to prevent overseas farm machinery operators from entering the country to work this spring and summer.

The region was still recovering from last summer’s drought with feed reserves on many farms already low. 

Moore feared there could be a potential disaster if farmers are unable to get their summer supplementary feed supply organised and there was another very dry summer. . . 

Ag contractor training gearing up – Mark Daniel:

Agricultural contractors are warning about a severe shortage of skilled machinery operators for the upcoming harvest season.

The shortage is due to New Zealand’s closed borders, shutting out staff from overseas. In response, a number of training organisations are offering displaced local workers and jobseekers a basic grounding in the sector.

In the South Island, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is promoting its ‘An Introduction to Agricultural Contracting’ course – based at its Telford Campus, near Balclutha. This initiative was the result of SIT’s discussions with Rural Contractors NZ Ltd (RCNZ) and some key players in the contracting sector in Otago and Southland – who all wanted to do something positive to address the need for trained contracting staff. . .

Lake Hawea to host world ploughing championships

The world’s best exponents of the art of ploughing are coming to Lake Hawea, but not for quite a while.

An Upper Clutha group of ploughing enthusiasts announced on Saturday they had secured the 2028 world championships.

That means 60 of the best “ploughmen” from farming communities around world will load up their tractors and ploughs, ship them to New Zealand and carve out furrows across the flat paddocks south of the lake.

Organising committee chairman John Osborne said his committee had spent two years preparing Lake Hawea’s case for the event, “basically trying to prove to the New Zealand executive we have facilities up here to have all these world guys here”. . . 

Industry hunters step up for annual event  – Jared Morgan:

Ask hunters where exactly in Central Otago they shot their haul in the annual Manuherikia Boar, Buck and Stag Hunt and they are unlikely to tell you.

They want to protect their turf and believe the results speak for themselves.

Yesterday marked weigh-in day in the annual three-day fundraiser for the Alexandra Scout Group.

It was heartland rural New Zealand at its best if the atmosphere at the weigh-in and prize-giving was anything to go by. . . 

Matching beef yields and consumer expectations :

ENHANCING the red meat value chain through a greater understanding of efficient use of farm resources, better use of grazing mosaics, and the production of cattle that reach and exceed domestic and export ready standards is the aim of a new four-year partnership for the west.

The University of Western Australia and Meat & Livestock through the MLA Donor Company have joined forces to coordinate and drive an integrated research and practice change program for the West Australian beef Industry.

The partnership, BeefLinks, will provide better knowledge and a range of technologies to support the sustainability credentials of products and interconnectivity between producers, processors and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2020

New farmer training programme being rolled out– Sally Rae:

Wanted — farmers to inspire the next generation of farmers to perform at their best.

That is what Growing Future Farmers (GFF), a training programme for young people interested in entering the sheep, beef and deer industry is looking for — providing a career pathway for farmers of the future.

A pilot programme has been held the Gisborne and Wairarapa regions and it will be rolled out to six regions next year, including two in the South Island.

The aim was to have 10 farmer trainers in each area.

Gisborne farmers Dan and Tam Jex-Blake spoke at information evenings in Winton and Kurow last week, outlining the programme to potential farmer trainers. . .

Ag contractors frustrated – David Anderson:

Agricultural contractors are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of skilled workers available.

The frustration comes amid growing concerns for the industry and farm production in the face of a critical shortage of skilled machinery operators.

Industry body Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) is calling on the Government to allow overseas-based operators back into New Zealand to help alleviate the growing problem.

The end of a golden career :

Russell Lowe has spent almost 50 years selecting, observing, propagating and tasting kiwifruit at Plant and Food Research in Te Puke. Earlier this year Russell was recognised for his role in developing Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.

Forty-eight years ago, research scientist Russell Lowe moved to Te Puke to work at the DSIR’s new research orchard.

There was not a crop in the ground and Russell’s first job was to bang in posts so kiwifruit could be planted.

Now there are more than 40 hectares of fruit planted for research, greenhouses, eight coolstores, purpose-built labs, a packhouse and an office block on site. . . 

Pork surplus crisis averted by measures- Sally Rae:

It could have been an unmitigated disaster for the pork industry.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 restrictions earlier this year meant independent butchers were not allowed to open fully for retail customers.

That meant a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue, the worst-case scenario being the euthanasing of pigs on-farm.

However, such a crisis was averted through various solutions, including an innovative food bank initiative. . . 

Feds applauds carpet maker’s wool focus:

Federated Farmers congratulates the leadership shown by New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corporation in announcing last week it will to return to its roots as a wool and natural fibres-only business.

Cavalier said in February that profit margins selling synthetic carpets were getting thinner but sales of its wool carpets were steadily rising.

“Choosing to concentrate on New Zealand-produced natural wool, with its superior durability, warmth, sound-dampening and fire-retardant qualities is a smart decision for any company,” Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson William Beetham says. . . 

Aroma NZ buys leading NZ flower supplier:

New Zealand’s biggest green-lipped mussel health food company has bought one of the country’s largest flower growing companies.

Aroma NZ has successfully purchased Moffatt’s Flowers, which has been growing roses and other flowers in their Christchurch glasshouses since 1949.

As one of the largest rose growers and flower wholesalers in New Zealand, Moffatt’s grows 35 varieties of roses in a network of more than 20,000 square metres of climate-controlled glasshouses. This results in an annual output of more than three million rose stems, along with other flowers.

Aroma NZ director Ben Winters says they have been looking to diversify into different industry sectors. .  .


Rural round-up

June 25, 2020

Imports still vital – ag contractors – David Anderson:

Despite eagerness from out-of-work Kiwis, the ag contracting industry will still need to continue importing experienced, overseas workers for some time yet.

“These locals need to be trained and won’t have the skills to drive the big, complex machinery for a while, so we’ll need to carry on importing our Irish and UK guys,” says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president David Kean.

His comments follow two expos, held this month, to promote the sector, which saw rural contractors ‘blown away’ by the turnout with a number starting to recruit locally to fill vacancies. He says the Queenstown and Te Anau expos saw more than 160 people through the doors.

However, Kean says ag contractors will still need to bring in some skilled machinery operators from overseas for the spring/summer season – as few new recruits will have developed sufficient skills to drive the more complex agricultural machines. . .

Hawke’s Bay not in the clear after drought despite brilliant rain :

Rainfall in drought-hit Hawke’s Bay was good news for farmers across the region but the impact of the long dry spell will be with them for the season.

Despite “brilliant rain” over the past week many farmers were still running short of stock feed, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway said.

“Most farmers are well down on the stock they would normally carry. They are very short of feed and every day they’re looking at what they have to do or what they can do to get through.” . . 

Making good use of a crisis – Sudesh Kissun:

One of New Zealand’s largest dairy farmers says the Covid-19 pandemic presents the country an opportunity to rethink its approach to on-farm sustainability.

Southern Pastures Ltd believes more legislation isn’t the answer to sustainability challenges facing the sector and farmers should be part of the solution to climate change rather than being labelled as villains.

Future generations will have to carry the huge economic burden of Covid-19 recovery.

Southern Pastures executive chairman Prem Maan says the last thing we want is to load them with additional climate and environmental costs as well. . . 

Fonterra to pay farmers more for sustainable, high value milk:

Fonterra farmers producing sustainable, high quality milk will be eligible for a new payment, as Fonterra announces important changes to the way it pays farmers for their milk.

From 1 June 2021, Fonterra is introducing a Co-operative Difference Payment of up to 10 cents per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) if the farm meets the Co-op’s on-farm sustainability and value targets. It’s part of the Co-op’s strategy to add value to New Zealand milk and responds to increasing demand from customers here and around the world for sustainably-produced dairy. The payment will be funded out of the Farmgate Milk Price.

“The total Farmgate Milk Price will remain the same across the Co-operative, but the amount that each individual farm is paid will vary depending on their contribution under The Co-operative Difference, in addition to the other variables, like fat and protein, which affect the amount that’s paid,” says Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell. . . 

Colin Hurst elected as Fed Farmers arable chairperson:

The new Chairperson of the Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group, Colin Hurst, brings wide experience and an acknowledged reputation for hard work, tenacity and leadership to the role.

Colin, the 2019 ‘Arable Farmer of the Year’, was elected at the group’s AGM on Monday [June 22] for a three-year term.  He replaces Karen Williams, who is Vice-President elect of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

As well as following his interest in science and innovation driving improved production and a lighter environmental footprint, Colin is also keen to lift the profile of the arable sector among consumers and fellow farmers.   Sales of arable production and spending generated by the industry contributed $863 million to GDP in 2018.

“Most people know we produce cereal grains used in bread and a host of other staples, and all the malting barley needed by our brewers, but we also grow the pasture seeds essential to our livestock farmers, not to mention brassicas and other feed crops, and seed production for domestic and international markets,” Colin says. . . 

Climate change: planting trees ‘can do more harm than good’ – Matt McGrath:

Rather than benefiting the environment, large-scale tree planting may do the opposite, two new studies have found.

One paper says that financial incentives to plant trees can backfire and reduce biodiversity with little impact on carbon emissions.

A separate project found that the amount of carbon that new forests can absorb may be overestimated.

The key message from both papers is that planting trees is not a simple climate solution. . . 


Rural round-up

July 5, 2019

User-pays emphasis in productivity report is spot on, Federated Farmers says:

The Productivity Commission’s report on local government funding is another step in a very long journey to genuine equity for farmer ratepayers, Federated Farmers says.

“To cover costs of council services, we value the emphasis in this draft report on the principle that who benefits should pay a fair amount, and that the legislative framework be changed to back this principle,” Federated Farmers local government spokesperson Andrew Maclean says.

“We agree this ‘benefit principle’ should be the primary basis for deciding cost allocations.

“Paying huge amounts of money for council services distant from farms is a key problem. Farmers need this resolved and we see potential in this report to achieve fairness,” Maclean said. . .

It’s not weak to speak – Luke Chivers:

Farmers are by nature independent, optimistic, proud, resilient and strong. But the perfect storm of terrible weather, prolonged market weakness, global trade wars and more is driving some farmers to breaking point. Luke Chivers spoke to a dairying couple whose change in perspective has transformed their farm, their family and their community. 

It was a warm, sunny afternoon in Takaka in Golden Bay. 

As daylight beamed through a window only to hit the back of a curtain Wayne Langford found himself bedridden in a cool, dark room. He had been flat on his back every afternoon for more than a week to escape his constant mental anguish. 

But this day was different.

“I had like an out-of-body experience.

“It was as though I was hovering above myself looking down and saying ‘what the hell are you doing in bed?” . . .

NZ questions US farm subsidies – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand is among a handful of World Trade Organisation members pushing the United States to come clean over billions of dollars paid to its farmers as compensation for the trade war with China.

In May US President Donald Trump announced a further US$16b in payments to follow US$12b in aid dispensed in July last year.

American farmers have borne the brunt of retaliatory tariffs on US exports to China. . .

Rural contractors worried about spreading Mycoplasma bovis – Tim Newman:

Rural contractors have expressed their fears about unwittingly spreading Mycoplasma bovis between farms. 

The issue came up during a panel discussion on M bovis and biosecurity at the Rural Contractors New Zealand national conference in Nelson on Thursday. 

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) admitted farmer privacy issues made the situation challenging for contractors but the chance of them spreading the disease further was low.   . .

Fonterra tries again in India, launches ‘Dreamery’ yoghurt and milks — Anuja Nadkarni:

Fonterra has launched a range of four products in India under the brand Dreamery through a joint venture with retail giant Future Group.

Fonterra first entered the Indian market in 2001 but the venture fell through.

The Dreamery range of products is the first brand under the joint venture Fonterra Future Dairy, which included two flavoured milk drinks, yoghurt and skim milk in tetra-packs. . .

Darfield partnership named top wheat growers

A Darfield father and son have claimed this year’s top wheat growers’ award.

Syd and Earl Worsfold were named 2019 supreme award winners in the United Wheat Growers wheat competition awards recently. The pair also won the feed wheat section.

Earl Worsfold farms in partnership with his parents Syd and Trish Worsfold on 400ha, including 260ha which Earl leased from a neighbour. . .

Why veganism is not the answer to reducing our environmental impact – Emma Gilsenan:

Reducing our environmental impact is more complex than simply removing animal products from the diet.

This week, on Wednesday, June 12, the National Dairy Council (NDC) – in association with Teagasc, Ornua and Lakeland Dairies – hosted its annual farm walk and seminar on the McKenna family farm in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan.

Speaking on the day, Dr. Marianne Walsh – a senior nutritionist with NDC – made some interesting points about veganism and the affect a complete plant-based diet would have on the environment and the population as a whole.

She said: “At the moment we have about 7.7 billion people and this is set to rise to about 9.7 billion by the year 2050. Which can exasperate some of the current problems that we are facing. . . 


Rural round-up

January 12, 2017

This farming mum’s in charge – Kate Taylor:

A Hawke’s Bay woman laughs when people ask to speak to her husband about every-day decisions on the farm. Kate Taylor interrupted her at work in the sheep yards to find out why.

One of the first things Hawke’s Bay farmer Caroline Smith does when she stops for a cup of tea after drafting cull ewes is to breastfeed baby Clara.

She juggles looking after a young family and farming 240 hectares and loves it, although one of her pet hates is having people phoning on farm business asking to speak to her husband.

“They assume it’s not me running the farm. I say they can speak to my husband if they like but he’s an electrician so might not be too helpful for the information they’re after.”

‘Ripper’ season for southern contractors – Rob Tipa:

Many South Island rural contractors have had what they are describing as “a season out of the box” with outstanding silage, hay and balage crops made so far this summer.

It is a different story in the North Island where generally harvests have been later and patchier.

New Zealand president Steve Levet, of Wellsford, told the NZ Farmer weather conditions during spring and early summer in the north had generally been colder, wetter and windier than usual. . . 

Meat co-op offers new app to farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Meat co-op Alliance Group has launched a new app to support its 5,000 farmer shareholders.

The Farm Alliance app, developed as part of the cooperative’s business strategy, provides a range of resources for farmers to help them manage the processing of their stock. Farmers can now see their own livestock processing results in real time, access their latest kill sheets, make booking requests, check statistics and schedule and receive industry updates.

Mark Blandford, chief information officer at Alliance Group says it is constantly looking for new ways to help farmer shareholders with their businesses. “Farmers can get their kill sheets delivered straight to their mobile phones as soon as their stock is processed and they will be automatically notified when new information is available. “The menu also includes all of a farmer’s kills for the previous six months and annual kill statistics.  . . 

China’s giant cow farms leave neighbours up milk creek – Tom Hancock:

Giant piles of black manure towering over cornfields, while rancid-smelling effluent from thousands of cows spills onto the land—this is the price of a glass of milk in China today.

Large-scale dairy farms have boomed in the Asian giant, as its near 1.4 billion consumers overcame centuries of cultural reluctance to embrace the white fluid.
An economic boom and government backing transformed dairy into a $40-billion-a-year industry, shifting production away from small-scale producers towards massive megafarms with up to 10,000 cattle—and a lot more waste. . .

One of Europe’s largest supermarkets will sell burgers and meatballs made from meal worms – Leanna Garfield:

Beef might taste delicious, but producing it exhausts our planet’s land and water. As a result, more chefs and retailers are searching for alternatives that taste like beef — including insects.

Starting May 2017, Coop, one of Switzerland’s largest wholesale retailers, will start selling “burgers” and “meatballs” — both primarily made from mealworm larvae — at select grocery locations. It will partner with Essento, a Swiss startup that makes food from insects, Switzerland’s the Local reports. . . 

New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club to Launch at Karaka Million:

In exciting news announced today, a group of private investors have established the New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club to cater for the high level of interest in racehorse ownership by the Chinese community, both here in New Zealand and internationally.

Headed by Mr Joshua Zong, a prominent Chinese business owner and property developer based in Auckland, the New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club will be officially launched on the eve of New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sales Series at a function to be held at the Karaka Million Twilight Meeting on Sunday 29 January at Ellerslie. . . 

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Happiness does have a smell.1


Rural round-up

November 24, 2016

SPCA the voice of reason in farm animal welfare debate – Jon Morgan:

To many North Island farmers it must seem like yesterday that they were watching their animals struggle to deal with facial eczema. But now the warnings are here again.

With NIWA’s seasonal weather outlook signalling warm, wet conditions across the island, farmers will be doubly cautious. So far, there’s been an increase in demand – and prices – for rams that have been bred to be FE tolerant.

No farmer likes to see their stock suffer and no farmer likes to lose money, which is what facial eczema means. . . 

Avocado crops thrive under different systems – Anne Boswell:

The phrase ‘chalk and cheese’ has been bandied about when referring to Katikati avocado orchardists Barry Mathis and Bruce Polley.

It is true that the neighbours have a fair amount of differences in both their personalities and the way they grow their fruit, but it must be said that there is also a number of similarities at play. . .

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . .

Great white butterfly eradication success:

The invasive pest great white butterfly has been eradicated from New Zealand in a world-first achievement, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.

“This is the first eradication of an unwanted butterfly population in the world and is another impressive example of New Zealand’s innovation and skill in removing pests,” Ms Barry says.

Great white butterflies posed a major threat to native plant species and primary sector economy.

“They were first seen in Nelson in 2010 and the DOC-led joint agency eradication effort ran for three and a half years. It’s now been two years since any have been seen, and we’re confident we can declare them eradicated,” Mr Guy says.

Biosecurity 2025 direction statement launched :

The newly launched Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement will shape the long-term future of biosecurity in New Zealand, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The long term plan was launched today at the 2016 Biosecurity Forum in Auckland and follows widespread public consultation earlier this year.

“Biosecurity 2025 will guide New Zealand’s biosecurity system over the next decade. It provides a shared direction to ensure we can cope with increased challenges such as increasing trade, more complex markets and supply chains, and rising tourist numbers. . . 

Masterclass had lessons for all sectors:

Despite being the only winegrower in the Rabobank Master Class this year, New Zealander Duncan McFarlane says there’s been plenty to learn from the other sectors.
McFarlane, of the Indevin Group in Marlborough, says one issue that everyone is focused on is sustainability.

“We are very fortunate in the wine industry in New Zealand that the economy of the industry is in a strong phase with good growth prospects,” McFarlane told Rural News at the Rabobank Farm2Fork summit at Cockatoo Island in Sydney yesterday. . . 

Showing the boys how it’s done:

Helen Slattery is the rural contracting sector’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

A Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) board member and partner in the Matamata firm Slattery Contracting, Slattery has penetrated the ‘glass ceiling’ to be the industry’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

The qualification covers core management skills including scheduling infrastructure works project resources, health safety and environment, monitoring project quality assurance and documenting infrastructure works projects. . . .

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

May 26, 2016

Record-breaking 2015/16 kiwifruit season: volumes, returns grow:

The 2015/16 kiwifruit season broke records for the industry and Zespri with the biggest-ever total return to growers, highest-ever Green return per hectare and record sales volumes for both Zespri Green and Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains total sales revenue for the season also grew to hit $1.9 billion, up 21 percent from the previous season. The total fruit and service payment to growers for New Zealand-grown fruit increased 22 percent on the previous year to $1.143 billion, with average return per hectare reaching a record $60,758. . . 

FMA concludes assessment of complaints against Silver Fern Farms:

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has concluded its assessment of complaints received about Silver Fern Farms Limited (SFF) and will be taking no further action.

The FMA received a small number of complaints in April 2016 relating to Silver Fern Farms Limited and documents released to its shareholders in September 2015. A complaint was also made about the resolution approving the transaction with Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co. Ltd (Shanghai Maling).

The FMA considered whether information sent to SSF’s shareholders could be substantiated and concluded that SFF’s Notice of Meeting and Shareholder Information Pack, dated September 2015, was not misleading or deceptive. . . 

International Campaign Set to Boost NZ Dairy Exports:

A new multi-million-dollar marketing campaign has begun to educate Australian, Chinese and ultimately U.S consumers on the health benefits of New Zealand’s grass fed dairy products.

The international campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the benefits of consuming milk products from grass fed cows over those raised organically. It’s all part of the introduction of new Munchkin Grass Fed™ milk-based formula and toddler drinks. Milk matters because it is the key ingredient in infant formula and toddler milk drinks, constituting up to 65% of the powder. . . 

Higher fruit exports offset dairy fall:

Goods exports rose 4.0 percent in April 2016, up $166 million to $4.3 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today. Fruit exports led the rise, up $59 million (16 percent), offsetting a similar fall in dairy values.

Gold kiwifruit rose $53 million (53 percent), but was partly offset by a fall in green kiwifruit, down $38 million (35 percent). Apples rose $39 million (29 percent), with apple exports to Taiwan up $16 million (91 percent). Taiwan was New Zealand’s top destination for apples in April 2016, beating out the United States and the United Kingdom.

Among other export commodities, untreated logs, foodstuffs such as dietary supplements and savoury fillings, and beef and lamb all rose in value this month. . . 

Comvita to beef up honey supply in new joint venture – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand manuka honey products maker Comvita is linking up with Blenheim-based apiary operator Putake Group to form a South Island-based honey business to meet global demand for manuka honey.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a 50:50 joint venture, named Putake Group Holdings, which would develop a wholesale honey business in the South Island, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Putake owns 1,200 hives and manages another 2,800 hives through separate joint venture arrangements. . . 

Advisory boards can offer guidance for farmers during a period of uncertainty:

As the agricultural sector grapples with high levels of dairy debt and increased volatility, Crowe Horwath’s Head of Agribusiness, Neil McAra, says farmers need to look at getting sound governance support.

McAra is a strong advocate for advisory boards which can assist farmers with the ability to make better decisions and can help improve business governance.

The value, scale and complexity of New Zealand farming operations have increased significantly over the last two decades. . . 

Rural Contractors annual conference coming up:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is encouraging all of its members – and any others interested in the agricultural contracting sector – to attend its annual conference being held in the Bay of Islands later next month.

Chief executive Roger Parton says this year’s RCNZ annual conference is being held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, in Paihia, from June 27-30.

“The conference is now only a month away and for those who have not registered yet; now is the time to do so,” he explains. “We will be unable to hold any accommodation past the end of this month, so if people want come they need to get their registrations in now.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 3, 2016

Rattling Fonterra’s governance is not enough – Keith Woodford:

Late last year, Fonterra’s farmers rattled the cage by voting for a change in governance rules. However, the voting majority was insufficient to change the rules. Fonterra’s Board has now responded with its own proposals for new governance structures.

To me, the new proposals look like a continuing meander towards corporatisation, without recognition of the special features of a huge co-operative conglomerate like Fonterra.

The proposal last year, led by former Fonterra directors Greg Gent and Colin Armer, was to reduce the number of directors. But would a smaller number of directors really make a difference? And what would it do in terms of further disconnecting the Board from the grassroots? . . 

Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly (NZ) – April 2016:

The Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key Highlights:

• Dairy – Global commodity prices continue to stumble along a market floor largely determined by the level of EU intervention support—and the ceiling for this support has just been approved higher. . . 

Time to plan ahead for droughts – Dan Satherley:

Improving water storage will be key to getting farmers through future droughts, according to one agribusiness expert.

Failing that, it might be time for beef, sheep and dairy to rethink their business model.

North Canterbury is into its second year of drought, with rainfall over the past few months only a third what it normally is. . . 

Kiwi-Owned Organic Rice Company Number One in South America:

Organic Latin America, an organic rice processing and distribution company in South America owned by kiwi company Ceres Organics and international partners, has risen to be the largest organic rice exporter out of South America in just five years.

Organic Latin America was founded five years ago by Ceres Organics and Thai, Danish, and Argentinian companies in order to provide South American organic rice growers with access to international markets.

Organic Latin America worked with growers in the Northern parts of Argentina and in Southern Brazil to help them improve processing systems and supply markets all over the world. . .

Fonterra says season-to-date milk collection down 3% in NZ, down 1% in Australia – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in both New Zealand and Australia in the first 10 months of the season, reflecting destocking in its home market in the face of low milk prices and unfavourable weather across the Tasman.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3 percent to 1.39 billion kilograms of milk solids in the 10 months ended March 31, with all of the decline coming in the North Island and no change in the south. . . 

New PGP Investment Advisory Panel Chair announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed John Parker as the new Chair of the Primary Growth Partnership’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

Mr Parker is a primary industry and governance specialist, and assumes his role as IAP Chair from 1 May 2016.  He replaces Joanna Perry whose tenure as Chair finishes on 30 April after nearly seven years on the IAP, including almost three as its Chair.

“IAP members use their expertise and judgement to advise on decisions about the investment of PGP funds, and to help ensure these investments achieve the aims of economic growth and sustainability,” says Mr Guy.

“Mr Parker has extensive experience in both governance and in the primary industries and he understands what is required to grow value in the sector. . . 

Northland Farmer gets top foodies on side:

A local specialist pork and beef producer has won a nationwide competition to have some of the country’s top experts help promote the business.

Amanda Hellier and her husband Wayne farm in Motutangi under the name Farm Gate Produce. They have been named as one of four winners of the Sustainable Business Network’s Good Food Boost competition. The family business produces Free Range pork cuts, sausages, salami and Chorizo and supplies it ‘from gate to plate’. . . 

Considering more days in milk?:

After a tough season many dairy farmers may be considering extending the milking period of their cows to create more cashflow.

For farmers in a position to do so, keeping cows in milk for an extended period can make strong commercial sense. A dry cow by contrast still incurs feed and grazing costs but without a corresponding milk income.

SealesWinslow Consultant Animal Nutrition Specialist, Paul Sharp, says that farmers weighing the costs and benefits of extending the milking period have several things to consider.  . . .

Waikato forum to unlock secrets to $3/kg MS farm systems:

Dairy farmer Gary Rowlands says running his farm at a cost of under $3/kg milksolids (MS) is thanks to a simple system.

Gary and wife Debra’s farm is among the 10-15 percent of New Zealand farmers who operate below $3/kg MS FWE (farm working expenses).

The Rowlands put their $2.21/kg MS FWE system down to simple farming – including an all-grass focus, basic machinery, doing their fertiliser application/silage/topping themselves and looking after their cows well.

“It’s a simple system. We just do the basics well and don’t spend if we don’t have to,” says Gary. “Every aspect comes into it.” . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes New Zealand Fire Services merger:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement today that funding of $303 million will be used over four years to combine rural and urban fire services.

Federated Farmers rural fire spokesperson Anders Crofoot says the creation of the new organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand – will mean a more efficient delivery and a better service provided by one organisation. It also recognises the services other than fire which rural fire has often provided for many years, even though it was unfunded and outside their mandate.

“The government is showing a strong commitment to transition and we welcome the additional money to build capabilities in rural fire and supporting our rural volunteers,” he said. . . 

Westpac NZ seeks more agriculture market share despite dairy downturn – By Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Westpac New Zealand says it wants to lift its market share of agricultural lending over time to 20 percent from the current 12.6 percent.

The Australian-owned bank today reported a steady performance in its New Zealand unit with cash earnings of $445 million for the six months ending Mar. 31, up 2 percent on a year ago.

Overall lending rose 8 percent with a 9 percent lift in business lending to $26.6 billion. Its agricultural portfolio totals $8.1 billion, up from $7.3 billion a year ago with dairy accounting for more than two-thirds of that. Its market share in agricultural lending rose from 12.3 percent in the previous half to 12.6 percent, which chief financial officer Jason Clifton said went mainly to existing rather than new dairy operations. . . 

Water Accord demonstrates the importance of using qualified advisers:

The release of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord this week highlights the important role of talented people in delivering improvements in the environmental performance of dairy farming.

The report notes that the training and certification of nutrient management advisers hit a major milestone in the 2014/15 year with a total of 100 rural professionals completing the requirements for and achieving certification in the Nutrient Management Adviser Certification Programme (NMACP). This was accomplished with the ongoing support and commitment of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and its member companies, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd and Ravensdown Ltd. One of the Accord targets was that 50% of Fertiliser Association member company advisers would be certified by 31 May 2014, which was comfortably achieved. . . 

Contractors must do their bit:

Agricultural contractors around the country must play their part in helping to prevent the spread of the invasive weed velvetleaf, says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet.

Mr Levet is reminding contractors about the importance of biosecurity and machinery hygiene practices on, and between farms, in controlling the spread velvetleaf and says rural contractors have an important role to play in this.

“Contractors need to be conscious of the potential of spreading velvetleaf when moving between properties, or between areas of the same property, and to take responsibility in managing these risks,” he says. . . 

Wool Industry Reacts to New Health and Safety Regulations:

The National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests Inc comprises associations and organisations involved in the domestic and international trading of greasy and scoured wool. The Council acts as the New Zealand member of the International Wool Textile Organisation, which represents the interests of the wool textile trade at the global level.

The National Council and its members are committed to providing a safe working environment throughout the wool industry. Increasing concerns relating to bales weighing over 200kg (which are estimated to cover approximately 6% of the national clip) have prompted the Council to address the issue. Bales weighing in excess of 200kg can contribute to workplace accidents and throughout the industry provide a significant problem during dumping and shipping. These bales have been assessed as hazards during transport and handling, with changes deemed necessary to comply with tougher Occupational Health and Safety laws being introduced in New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2016

Peninsula Farmers Win Supreme Title In 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Portobello sheep and beef farmers Brendon and Paula Cross have been named Supreme winners of the 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 15 (2016), the couple also collected the Otago Regional Council Quality Water Management Award, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 

Dairy Woman of the Year Finalists:

Three finalists for the prestigious Dairy Woman of the Year have been announced by the Dairy Women’s Network.

They are Westport based Landcorp business manager Rebecca Keoghan, Central West Coast dairy farmer Renee Rooney and Waihi based LIC farm solution manager Michelle Wilson.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers said judges had a hard time selecting the finalists for the fifth annual awards.

“Our nominees personify all that is good about the many and varied roles women play in the dairy sector up and down the country,” de Villiers said. . . .

A good yarn – Peter McDonald:

I had the opportunity to attend “A Good Yarn” – a workshop run by the Southland Rural Support Trust.

We delved into the topic of farmer’s mental health.

Financial pressures and on farm conditions both have been converging to ramp up the stress in our southern farming communities of late.

As I sat and listened, I started to realise that I ticked a few of these boxes.

For example stress can manifest itself in losing one’s temper at the most minor on farm “hiccups” .

I just thought that was normal. . . 

My genetically modified crops are everything an environmentalist should want – Bob Bartley:

I have been a farmer for more than 40 years and I have grown genetically enhanced (GE) crops since 1996. We grow corn, soybeans and canola, all of which are GE, as well as other crops that are not GE. I have seen many benefits to this technology through the years, but what is in it for the consumer? Safe, affordable food that’s better for the environment.

I really don’t consider the crops I grow to be ready-to-eat food, like apples, carrots or potatoes, but more like ingredients to make food products such as margarine, flour and feed for livestock. Government regulators and scientists wanted to be sure of the safety of GE crops right from the beginning. As a result, these crops have undergone testing far beyond that required for other new crop varieties. There have been about 2,000 published studies on GE crop safety. The results say that the GE crops grown today are as safe as any others. Some reports say they’re even safer. There have also been several studies that show how they reduce food prices, too — a direct result of higher farm yields. GE crops are one reason why North American consumers have the safest, highest quality and most affordable food in the world. . . 

English on the money – Rural Contractors:

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English in relation to the suitability and work ethic of some young New Zealanders is, unfortunately, correct.

Mr Levet was commenting on Mr English’s recent remarks to a Federated Farmers meeting, saying there’s a proportion of the work force that won’t work and are “pretty damn hopeless”.

“Bill English is right when he says that some younger New Zealanders, when offered the chance for work, won’t take it, can’t pass drug tests, or don’t have an appropriate drivers licence. . .

Otago’s merino wool could head to Norway – Brook Hobson:

Two companies with histories dating back more than 120 years could soon be partnering in an international merino wool deal.

Armidale Merino Stud, based in Otago, has been in the Paterson family since 1880 and Simon Paterson is the fifth generation to run the farm.

Devold of Norway, a company founded in 1853, is looking to partner with the stud to use its merino wool. . . 

Young farmer in to win national competition:

When Logan Wallace first joined Young Farmers, one of his goals was to reach the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest.

Eight years later, his dream has been realised following his recent victory in the Otago-Southland regional final in Wyndham.

A member of Clinton-South Otago Young Farmers Club, Mr Wallace (26) will now line up against the six other regional final winners in the grand final in Timaru in July. . . 

Awards night soon:

It’s nearly time for the New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards.

The function for the latest awards will be held in Lawrence next month, with 34 families being formally recognised for farming on their land for 100 or more years.

Chairman Symon Howard was delighted with this year’s result, saying it was great to see that, after 11 years, high numbers of new applications were still consistently being received. . . 

New forestry leader:

Peter Clark, the chief executive officer of PF Olsen Ltd, has been elected president of the Forest Owners Association (FOA).

He replaces retiring president Paul Nicholls. George Asher, chief executive officer of the Lake Taupo Forest Trust, has been elected vice-president.

The association’s members own the majority of New Zealand’s plantation forests. It works closely with the Farm Forestry Association and is administrator for the Forest Levy Trust Board, which represents the interests of all forest owners. . . 

Bennett supported by forest owners at New York signing:

Forest owners say the formal adoption of the Paris climate change agreement in New York Friday [22 April] will potentially have great benefits for both plantation and natural forests world-wide.

Climate change minister Paula Bennett will be in New York to sign the agreement along with representatives from 130 other countries.

Forest Owners Association president Peter Clark says getting signatures on the agreement is yet another step in a long journey. The agreement will come into force once it has been ratified by 55 countries – representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions. . . 

Ngāi Tahu Seafood opens new processing plant:

Ngāi Tahu Seafood officially opened a new purpose-built facility in Bluff today – 15 April.

This new facility represents a significant investment in the local community and wider Southland district and it is expected to provide new employment opportunities.

Ngai Tahu Seafood Ltd has operated in Bluff since 1992 in a number of used facilities (three in total). In 2013 the decision was made to build a new purpose-built facility which would be future proofed to enable for expansion for all species and formats such as live fish, crustaceans and shellfish and / or fresh chilled and frozen products. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 6, 2015

Farm skills for youth _ Sally Rae:

The prospect of getting out of bed at 5am to gain work experience on a dairy farm does not bother Caleb Unahi.

The 19-year-old is enjoying keeping busy as part of the Farmhand training programme, which aims to expose Dunedin’s disengaged youth to rural opportunities.

Before starting the 13-week course, Caleb was doing ”nothing much really”, he said.

A family friend encouraged him to apply for the course, which was first held last year.

”I enjoy it. It’s a good opportunity for me to get up off my …”

he said, while learning about fencing at Invermay recently. . . 

Merino industry stalwarts honoured –  Lynda van Kempen:

A couple described as vital cogs in the fine wool industry had their efforts recognised at the weekend.

Peter and Elsie Lyon, of Alexandra, received life membership to the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society. The award – a surprise to the couple – was made during the national merino shearing championships in Alexandra on Saturday night.

The couple run Peter Lyon Shearing, which had a turnover of more than $10 million last year. . . 

The story behind merino wool – Camilla Rutherford:

I am very lucky to live on a high country Merino sheep station here in Tarras, New Zealand. This farm belongs to my husbands family and they have farmed here for over 100 years, which is a long time in NZ! Every year in the first week of September a big muster happens and the sheep are brought down off the hill and into the woolshed to get their yearly hair cut in time for the hot Central Otago summer. This wool is very carefully removed by highly skilled shearers, who have the very tricky task of removing the precious fibres without harming the wrinkly sheep.

Walking into the woolshed can be a little intimidating, with drum and bass blasting over the sound of the clippers, and a multitude of men and women working tirelessly, each with their own roll making the operation of shearing a sheep like a well oiled machine. This precious wool is sent to Merino New Zealand which is spun and made into Icebreaker clothing, which we all know and love. Merino wool is an incredible fibre; sustainable, warm when wet, cooling when you are too hot and keeps the stink off you. What better fibre to wear against your skin? My wardrobe is nearly 100% merino, from underwear, thermals, summer singlets, technical ski wear and awesome hoodies! . .  [whether or not you want to read more, it’s worth clicking the link for the photos]

Ballance Farm Environment Awards application period extended for Canterbury farmers:

Canterbury farmers have been given another three weeks to enter this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The entry deadline has been extended to Friday October 30 to allow farmers more time to get their entries in before judging commences in November.

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards Judging Coordinator Sandra Taylor acknowledged that drought and a low dairy pay-out have made for a tough start to spring and for many farmers entering the Awards has been low on the priority list.

“Recent rain and warmer temperatures will hopefully take the pressure off and give farmers a chance to think about getting their entries in.”

She points out the judging process gives farmers the opportunity to benchmark their businesses and get feedback from a team of experienced and knowledgeable judges. . . 

Life-changing win for Young Auctioneer:

With entries now open for the 2015 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer of the Year Competition, the 2014 winner is urging other young auctioneers to enter the “life-changing competition.”

Cam Bray of PGG Wrightson won the 2014 Competition after entering all three years of the competition. The win enabled him to travel to the 2015 Sydney Royal Show to attend the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association (ALPA) Young Auctioneers National Final.

Mr Bray said that the trip to Australia resulted in some life-changing experiences.

“The trip to Australia was great – not only for the fact that I was representing New Zealand but to be able to rub shoulders with Australia’s best was an invaluable experience.” . . .

A big win for Rural Contractors NZ:

Agricultural contractors around New Zealand will soon be able to bring in overseas workers much easier than in the past – following a deal struck between its national body and Immigration NZ.

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says his organisation has been working with Immigration New Zealand for a long time in an effort to resolve the problems around contractors bringing in overseas workers for the harvest season.

“After many meetings and a lot of hard work by RCNZ – together with Immigration NZ – we believe have come up with a solution that will solve many of the problems that rural contractors currently experience every year and make it much easier to bring in overseas workers,” Mr Levet says. . .

Forest grower poll open:

Voting is now open for the person who will represent owners of smaller forests on the Forest Growers Levy Trust board.

The two candidates are Guy Farman, managing director of Farman Turkington Forestry and Steve Wilton, managing director of Forest Enterprises. Both have strong forestry credentials and are based in the Wairarapa.

Anyone who owns a ‘qualifying forest’ of between 4 and 1000 hectares, planted before 1 October 2003, may vote in the election that opened on Monday 5 October and closes on Friday 16 October. . . .

DataCol Group extends their reach into the rural market with acquisition of pioneering water measurement company Watermetrics:

Data collection and data integrator specialist business DataCol Group, today announced it had fully acquired Canterbury-based Watermetrics, a provider of integrated water flow monitoring, recording and analysis services.

“Watermetrics were pioneers in providing water measurement technology and services to the rural sector, have built a strong brand and significant customer base predominantly in the Canterbury region off the back of that,” says DataCol CEO Bruce Franks.

“Using data collection and measurement technology has become a critical tool for farmers in terms of enhancing productivity, reducing cost and complying with national regulations like water consents. . . 

Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours wins environmental tourism award:

A successful business driven by the ethos of ‘inspiration through adventure’ is how judges described Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours in announcing it as the winner of the Environmental Tourism Award at this year’s Tourism Industry Awards.

After almost six years in business – and a consistent winner of many sustainable practice awards over the years – Ziptrek received the award on Friday night, helping set a benchmark of excellence within the New Zealand tourism industry.

Judges were hugely impressed with the business, describing it as a “wonderful example” of a highly successful tourism business embracing and promoting sustainability in everything it does. . . 

Coronet Peak caps off ‘stellar’ season with visitor experience award:

Capping off a stellar season, Queenstown’s Coronet Peak fought off stiff competition to win the Visitor Experience Award at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards this weekend.

The ski area celebrated its final ‘hurrah’ on the snow this weekend with a Rugby World Cup-themed day in support of the AB’s on Saturday. On Sunday, all best efforts to host a Beach Party were somewhat thwarted by wet and wild weather, but a few brave souls managed the Pond Skim to cap off an amazing season.

The final weekend of 2015 winter started well, with Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland accepting the honour in Auckland on Friday night. . . 


Rural round-up

May 23, 2015

Modern farming has had its day – Annette Scott:

Modern agriculture, at about 70 years old, was the product of post WWII food shortages and while it had been effective in its primary aim of increasing yields it has to change, an industry expert says.

The 2020s would be the new 1960s as agriculture and social change entered a period as significant as the 1950s and 1960s, Dr Charles Merfield of the Biological Husbandry Unit’s Future Farming Centre said.

“Our times are once again changing,” he told farmers at a sustainable agriculture seminar run by the FFC and the Foundation for Arable Research in Ashburton. . .

Agricultural and Agri-Food Producers Call for an Ambitious, Fair, and Comprehensive Agreement through the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

As Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) nations meet this week in Guam to continue negotiations, agri-food producer and processor organisations from Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand remain united in their call for a modern trade agreement that includes meaningful and comprehensive market access opportunities for agriculture and agri-food.

The organisations advocating for an ambitious, fair and comprehensive TPP agreement are the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Australian National Farmers’ Federation, and the Federated Farmers of New Zealand. Together, they represent hundreds of thousands of farmers, producers, processors and exporters who, in turn, employ millions of workers across the TPP region.

“Our agricultural sectors and the jobs they provide depend on a thriving network of export markets,” said Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance. . .

Working to surplus the best news for farmers in the Budget:

Federated Farmers says it’s disappointed there is no Budget surplus this year, but the best news for farmers from the Government is that it is on track for a surplus next year.

Acting President Anders Crofoot says Federated Farmers welcomes a number of measures in the Budget, but the best thing to assist the rural economy is to control government spending enough to create an enduring surplus to enable debt repayment and to keep pressure off inflation, monetary policy and the exchange rate.

“The Government is clearly trying to balance the need to responsibly manage its finances with the pressing and growing demands to do something about housing and child hardship.” . .

Budget biosecurity announcements a good response to changing risks:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed the 2015 budget announcements in support of better biosecurity outcomes.

“Short of a major volcanic eruption in Auckland there is very little that trumps the impact that a biosecurity incursion could have on the New Zealand economy. A bad biosecurity incursion would shut down exports and derail much of our country’s productive capability.” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Unlike a volcanic eruption, there are things we can do as a country to lessen the risk of a biosecurity incursion. DCANZ thanks the Government for its commitment to responding to the changes which are altering New Zealand’s biosecurity risk profile.” . . .

NZ wool prices jump to multi-year high at auction, amid strong exporter demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool prices jumped to multi-year highs at auction even as the volume on offer rose 78 percent, amid strong demand from exporters.

The price for clean 35-micron wool, a benchmark for crossbred wool used for carpets and accounting for the majority of New Zealand’s production, rose to $6.20 per kilogram at yesterday’s South Island auction, from $5.80/kg in the North Island auction last week, and reaching its highest level since November 2013, according to AgriHQ. Lamb wool jumped to $6.90/kg, from $6.65/kg, marking its highest level since April 2011. . .

Blenheim the place to be in June for Ag contractors:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is encouraging all of its members – and any others interested in the agricultural contracting sector – to attend its annual conference being held in Blenheim later next month.

Chief executive Roger Parton says this year’s RCNZ annual conference is being held at the Marlborough Convention Centre, in Blenheim, from June 22-25.

“The conference is less than a month away and for those who have not registered yet; now is the time to do so,” he explains. “We will be unable to hold any accommodation past the end of this month, so if people want come they need to get their registrations in now.” . . .


Rural round-up

April 23, 2015

Show Me Sustainable Dairy Farming:

Pakotai dairy farmers, Rachel & Greig Alexander, winners of the 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award, are hosting a field day at their Award winning property at 3305 Mangakahia Road on Thursday 7th May 2015.

Their dairy farm will be open to all interested parties, commencing at 10.30am, with the day concluding with a light lunch at approximately 1.30pm.

The field day will provide the opportunity for visitors to learn how Rachel and Greig interpret ‘sustainability’ in their farming business. The Alexanders will explain how they incorporate sustainability into their day to day operation while still achieving bottom line profitability across the farming business, which also includes a beef operation and forestry. . .

Farming finalists a family success:

One of the three finalists for a major Maori farming award has opened its gates to visitors for a field day.

Mangaroa Station, about an hour inland from Wairoa, is a finalist in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori excellence in sheep and beef farming.

Owners Bart and Nukuhia Hadfield showed judges the farm and stock yesterday and are running the field day today.

Mr Hadfield said the history of how the couple came to own the station was a major part of their entry into the awards. . .

NZ cow’s milk product wows Mexican dermatologists:

Hamilton-based company, Quantec Ltd, has successfully launched its world-first anti-acne cream to hundreds of Mexican dermatologists in Mexico City this month.

Quantec’s product, a clinically-proven anti-acne cream derived from cow’s milk called Epiology, was first launched into New Zealand pharmacies in May 2014.

Quantec founder and managing director Dr Rod Claycomb said it was the product’s success nationally that spurred Quantec to swiftly take the product global. . .

The New Zealand Seafood Industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela:

The New Zealand seafood industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela.

“Philip Vela was an early pioneer in the development of the hoki, orange roughy, tuna and squid fisheries. He continued to be a major player and innovator in New Zealand fisheries – a business where only the strongest of the strong have survived over these past 40 years,” Deepwater Group chief executive George Clement said.

“As such, the New Zealand seafood industry owes Philip and his brother Peter a huge debt. . .

Battle For Our Birds a great success:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the success of the Battle For Our Birds programme is a welcome victory for endangered native species.

The Department of Conservation today released preliminary monitoring results for the eight-month long anti-predator campaign.

“There are thousands more native birds alive today than there would have been without the work done by DOC’s Battle For Our Birds last summer,” Ms Barry says.

“If we had done nothing and treated it as business as usual, the rat and stoat plague accompanying last year’s beech mast would have wiped out local populations of some of our rarest birds such as the kakariki, mohua/yellowhead or whio/blue duck.” . .

On the road again – RCNZ workshops being held in May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be on the road again this May updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of roadshows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says the roadshow presentation will cover off the proposed new Health & Safety legislation and regulations, the Safer Farms programme and Codes of Practice for using tractors and other self propelled agricultural vehicles and what these changes will mean for rural contractors. . .  

Farmers encouraged to check they are registered with Beef + Lamb New Zealand for referendum vote:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is encouraging farmers to check they are registered to vote in the sheep and beef levy referendum that will be held later this year.

All sheep, beef and dairy farmers will be able to vote on continuing to invest in programmes run by B+LNZ, which are designed to support a confident sector with improved farm productivity, profitability and performance.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion said it’s important that famers ensure they are on the roll and that their details are up to date. . .

OVERSEER 6.2’s new irrigation module now live through the new OVERSEER website:

OVERSEER 6.2 went live last night after a month-long OVERSEER road show that attracted hundreds of farmers and farm advisers willing to learn how to use the new irrigation module.

Full technical notes and the updated Data Input Standards have been released with OVERSEER 6.2 through a brand new website and OVERSEER’s General Manager Dr Caroline Read says users have everything they need to get up to speed.

“We’ve been working with IrrigationNZ since the start of the year to forewarn irrigators that OVERSEER 6.2 would be launched this month. Regional councils in popular irrigation areas have also been getting the message out. Farmers and growers can now work with their advisers to make sure their OVERSEER data is in line with what the new irrigation module requires,” says Dr Read. . .


Rural round-up

January 20, 2015

Review of cost of food safety and biosecurity services:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is looking for feedback on proposed updates to fee rates needed to maintain the safety of New Zealand’s food and protect New Zealand from biosecurity risks.

The proposals update the amount the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) charges industry to provide food safety and biosecurity services.

“Biosecurity and food safety are critical to the operation and viability of New Zealand’s primary industries. Without these systems, New Zealand’s $38.3 billion primary sector exports would never get past importing countries’ borders and New Zealand’s primary industries would be exposed to a much greater risk of potentially devastating pests and diseases,” says Dan Bolger, MPI’s Deputy Director-General, Office of the Director-General. . .

Wine industry strongly opposes MPI cost recovery proposal:

New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) is strongly opposing a proposal from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to recover $2.9 million per year from the wine industry to meet the costs of its wine regulatory programme.

“Wineries currently pay just over $200 million each year in excise to the government” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Payments have increased by $70 million, or more than 60%, in the past decade. From our perspective requiring the industry to pay an additional $2.9 million to MPI every year is manifestly unjustifiable”.

The MPI proposal for wine is part of a wider review of the fees MPI charges to primary industries for the services and activities it undertakes as part of New Zealand’s biosecurity and food safety systems. “Other major primary industries are subject to the MPI user-pays regime. However unlike the wine industry, none of those sectors also pay a product specific tax”, said Mr Green. . .

 Best dairy pastures picked

Winners of a competition to identify the Waikato and Bay of Plenty’s best new and renewed dairy pastures will host field days at their properties in late January.

Morrinsville farmer James Booker, and Robert Garshaw from Waiuku, are winners of the Pasture Renewal Persistence Competition run by the DairyNZ-led Pasture Renewal Leadership Group.

Robert Garshaw won best first year pasture, while James Booker won the best pasture of more than three years old. . . .

Full benefits only realised with farmer use:

Product innovation and technology breakthroughs coming out of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership programme are going to deliver some real results for farming, and for New Zealand. However, the full benefits will only be realised when farmers start using them.

Ballance Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says a key part of the co-operative’s $19.5 million programme, co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership, is on-farm support to help farmers understand what these innovations can do for them, and how to use them.

“With the first of our products, such as N-Guru, now becoming available for use on-farm, there’s a significant piece of work going on to make it easy for farmers to do just that. . .

Contractors available to help out:

Farmers facing financial stress and mounting pressure on-farm and exacerbated by the increasingly dry weather, should reach out for help as should agricultural contractors, advises Rural Contractors New Zealand.

RCNZ President, Steve Levet says with the on-going dry in many areas around the country – on top of the lower forecast milk price –could see some farmers feeling overwhelmed and under huge pressure.

“However, there are things on farm that have to be done – no matter what – such as supplementary feed and crop harvesting,” Mr Levet explains. “Contractors are professionals and are especially set up to help out when these jobs need to be done on-farm.” . . .

 

Inaugural Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration is set to shine:

The inaugural Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration is set to shine, this exciting event Wine Hawke’s Bay are planning to capitalise on the influx of trade and media coming through to attend the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration 2015. The Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration is being held on Monday, 26th January 2015 to capture the international and national wine trade and media’s attention prior to the Central Otago event on 29th January. . .

 

 

 


Rural contractors need migrant workers

September 25, 2014

Rural contractors want changes in immigration rules to allow them to employ migrants:

Rural Contractors New Zealand has congratulated Prime Minister John Key and the National Party for its success in this year’s general election.

RCNZ President Steve Levet says a clear-cut result is good for both the country and our economy, but the rural contracting sector would now like to see some action from the new government in a couple of key areas .

“There is no doubt the agriculture sector is an important and valuable part of New Zealand’s economy – and rural contracting is a vital and important component of that,” he explains.

“However, as RCNZ has been saying for some time, we really need some changes in the rules around migrant workers in the rural contracting sector – as there is a huge gap between rural contractors’ needs for trained, agricultural machinery operators and unemployed New Zealanders who can do this work.”

The imperative to employ local people before migrants is sensible but only if the locals have the skills and attitude required.

Mr Levet says the rules around employing temporary, skilled people from overseas prepared to work for 6-8 months each year must be simplified – as do the regulations restricting people who have previously worked here in past seasons coming back to New Zealand to work.

“Contracting is a seasonal business and one that uses sophisticated machinery that requires technical skill to operate productively,” he explains. “Part of this shortfall is met by bringing in skilled operators from overseas.”

Mr Levet is urging the new Government to seriously look at these regulations and how the process can be streamlined and simplified.

He adds that RCNZ is also keen to work with opposition political parties to help them better understand the needs and issues of the rural contracting sector.

“It is clear from some of the debate we heard during the election campaign that many parties are not aware of the dire shortage of suitable agricultural machinery operators,” Mr Levet explains. “It is apparent many politicians are completely ignorant about this problem and how rural contractors actually rely on employing skilled people from overseas on a temporary basis each season and have done so for many years.”

Mr Levet also points out that many of the applicants Work and Income NZ (WINZ) tries to fill these vacancies with; either do not have the right skill-set and/or attitude to be successful.

“We are talking about operating highly technical and very expensive pieces machinery. It is unrealistic, unsafe and impractical to expect unemployed people to walk off the street and successfully take up these positions.”

Mr Levet says his organisation will continue to work closely with the new Government, opposition political parties and officials too both ensure that locals have the best opportunity for employment in the sector – as well as continuing to lobby for changes to the rules around engaging overseas seasonal workers for the benefit of the rural contracting sector. . .

Rural contracting is largely seasonal with a high demand for staff when work needs to be done and periods where there is little to do.

This makes contracting unattractive to people who need full time permanent jobs and more suitable for people on working holidays or other migrants who are happy to work when and where there’s work available and then go somewhere else.


Rural round-up

September 15, 2014

Forestry workers dodge poachers’ bullets – Sonita Chandar:

Forestry workers are dodging bullets from poachers, says a forest manager.

They are being fired at by people hunting wild pigs illegally released in the private forests.

”Our staff shouldn’t have to worry about going to work and being shot, but this is the reality,” said Phil De La Mare, Otago regional manager for forestry plantation company, Ernslaw One.

”These unpermitted hunters forget it is a workplace and go shooting any time, even when there are people out working.

”Their actions are putting our staff and contractors in a risky situation and for us.

”Providing a safe workplace environment has become a challenge.” . .

 Putting Rustling back into the history books – Rick Powdrell:

Contrary to talk, the meat and fibre industries are not broken as the fundamentals to take both sectors forward to much greater heights remain. Still, it requires an entire industry shared vision going forward and that’s of course easier said than done.

 This undoubtedly involves strong leadership accompanied by a strong grassroots involvement.  It hardly entails re-inventing the wheel, but rather more awareness of the areas we need to improve and a path developed to redeem theses issues.

 The red meat sector strategy has already identified significant issues, with the Beef + Lamb: Red Meat Profit Partnership focusing on topics behind the farm gate with the aim of lifting on farm performance.

 This collaboration of Beef + Lamb NZ, meat companies, banks and government foreshadows a united industry approach. . .

NZ exports to EU may face stricter pesticide standards – Yvonne O’Hara:

New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable export trade to Europe could be affected by as much as $600 million if a proposed European Union (EU) reduction of some pesticide residue levels on imported food goes ahead, Agcarm chief executive Graeme Peters says.

The European Commission (EC) had been looking at regulating common crop protection products that had endocrine-disrupting properties. The EC believed reducing endocrine-disrupting pesticides would benefit the environment; be good for the health of growers, workers, rural communities and consumers; and boost the economy.

It will release criteria to identify those properties in the next few weeks. . .

Commission releases final report on 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year as part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act’s milk price monitoring regime. The review assesses whether Fonterra’s calculation approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently and provides for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk.

The most significant issue in this year’s review has been Fonterra’s decision to pay farmers an adjusted price for the 2013/14 season that is less than the milk price calculated under the company’s Milk Price Manual.

The Commission’s overall findings are that the way Fonterra is calculating and applying its proposed adjustment to the base milk price is not consistent with incentives for it to operate efficiently; however, the approach is consistent with contestability in the market under the Act. . .

Field day to give insight into rural work  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is to hold its second field day on September 17 at Brian Hughes’ yard at Waimatua, near Invercargill, from 10am to 3pm.

RCNZ vice-president and contractor David Kean, of Centre Bush, said the field day, held in association with Work and Income, encouraged people to find out what it was like working in the agricultural contracting sector.

”People can drift in and drift out again throughout the day,” Mr Kean said.

Those attending the field day would have the opportunity to drive large tractors and operate an assortment of machinery under supervision. . .

Farmers’ need for speed – Chris Lewis:

We are ready when you are, and we have been ready for some time. The key investors and the next government need to know farmers and rural households are sick of the inferior connectivity they are receiving. We are in the need for speed and reliable connectivity; it is not only imperative for rural productivity, but for empowering rural households.

The agricultural industry generates 73 percent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports, so you would think that the powers and investors that be, would recognise a gaping hole when they see it. What is not ok is that whilst rural businesses and households are paying for the same services as our urban counterparts, we are not getting the same results.

Market research proves rural New Zealand is being neglected. We are armed with the latest devices, on average 9 connectable devices per business and 5 to 6 of those connected at one time, but have limited infrastructure to use them. Chorus recently went to the rural market through Colmar Brunton to find out exactly what we have been dealing with, and it should come as no surprise that they found we have the same level of needs as urban businesses and households. . .

In Burundi, Viola Nsengiyumva turns two acres into a profitable business – Food Tank:

Viola looks out over the two acres of land she and her husband, Deo, inherited from her father. The fields are thick with bushy, yellow-green vines. The beans are ready to be harvested.

Two and a half years ago, Viola’s fields were nearly bare. Even though she and Deo had land, they could not afford the seed and fertilizer needed to plant on all of it. Harvests were low, with just enough to feed the family. There was no surplus to sell for income.

“Before One Acre Fund, we would just manage to have enough to eat. We couldn’t sell anything we grew,” Viola says. “I would go to purchase fertilizer, but I would not be able to buy enough.” . . .

Do You Have the Correct Licence for the Coming Season?:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is urging its members to ensure they have all the correct transport licences for the coming season.

RCNZ president Steve Levet says with the new season fast approaching it is timely for rural contractors and their staff to check to see they have the correct licence AND a ‘Wheels Endorsements’ if required.

“It is incumbent on rural contractors to ensure both they and their staff have all the correct licences when moving their tractors and machinery around the country,” he adds.

“There are no excuses for not having the correct licenses and/or wheels endorsement. If contractors are not sure they should find out – all the necessary information is under the members section of our website: www.ruralcontractors.org.nz .”

Mr Levet says the different types of licences rural contractors may require include: . . .


Rural round-up

June 30, 2014

Rustling needs to be a specific offence:

Federated Farmers is asking political parties to develop policies to tackle the scourge of stock theft better known as rustling.

“We know stock theft or rustling has been estimated to cost the farming community some $120 million each year,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“In recent weeks we’ve seen a lifestyler raided for breeding ewes in Waikato and over 200 sheep despicably shot in Otago.

“We’ve got to ask if the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching. Based on our experience to date they are not. . .

Behaviour is the root cause of meat industry’s problems – Allan Barber:

I am not completely sure why we spend so much time and effort complaining about the meat industry or which problems we are trying to solve. However in the interests of encouraging progress and stimulating debate, I will try to define the problem: this appears to be that the meat processing and export sector is not profitable enough, whether in absolute terms or in comparison to dairy. Both may be true.

It is worth stating the unique challenges of the red meat sector up front. First, there is a market at both ends of the chain, procurement and sale of the products; second, New Zealand exports a higher percentage of its production than any other country which must travel further to reach its markets, not all of them equally buoyant; third, sheep and beef must be disassembled into multiple cuts of meat as well as many co-products, all of which are sold into a wide range of markets for variable returns; fourth the climate dictates when the grass will grow and livestock will be ready for slaughter; and last, but not least, the producer can choose when and where to send the livestock for slaughter except in a drought. . .

The recipe for future success:

Blue Sky Meats and its suppliers will be relieved the company is back in black after two challenging years.

The return to profitability – a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March – came on the back of the only two losses in the Southland-based company’s 28-year history.

It has been a much better year for meat companies. Along with Blue Sky – and Lean Meats – the two big co-operatives, Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms, who both report late in the year, have signalled profitable years. . .

Dairy recovery anticipated – by Christmas – Sally Rae:

Dairy commodity prices are predicted to stay in a trough period for another three to six months.

Speaking at the recent South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill, Rabobank’s director of dairy research for New Zealand and Asia, Hayley Moynihan, said it could be Christmas before there was a more sustained recovery in commodity prices.

It would be a ”reasonably prolonged” trough, as inventories were worked through and an additional seven billion litres of milk available on the world market in the first half of 2014 took time to ”find a home”. . .

Focus on consumers behind Pasture to Plate success – Sally Rae:

King Country farmer William Oliver’s belief in the consumer stemmed from his time studying at the University of Otago.

Mr Oliver and his wife Karen were the overall winners of the Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate Award.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett said the couple impressed the judges with their focus on the consumer. . . .

Simpler pesticide rules on the way:

The Environmental Protection Authority is aiming to simplify the rules covering pesticides and other hazardous substances.

The authority is marking its third anniversary as the country’s environmental regulator after being created from three agencies – the Environmental Risk Management Authority, the Ministry for the Environment and the Economic Development Ministry.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said one of its big achievements has been a wide ranging review of organophosphate chemicals, which resulted in controls on some pesticides being tightened and others phased out. . .

Final countdown for Ultimate Rural Challenge:

The showcase event of the rural calendar is only three days away!

The 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final begins this Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm with the Official Opening at Lincoln University Library. Here, the top seven contestants will be introduced to the public and compete in their first head-to-head challenge.

The competition over the following two days is a testament to the sophistication of modern farming and level of skill and knowledge required to be successful in the field. The top seven young farmers have made it through to the Grand Final by competing in their local district competition and taking first place in their Regional Finals.  . .

Successful annual conference for Rural Contractors NZ:

More than 100 agricultural contractors from all over the country met in New Plymouth, last week, for Rural Contractors New Zealand’s (RCNZ) annual conference.

Rural Contractors New Zealand is the only national association for rural contractors in New Zealand.

Last week’s conference saw Wellsford-based Steve Levet re-elected as president of RCNZ, with Southland’s David Kean re-elected vice-president. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 23, 2014

Happy Earth Day! If you see a farmer, say thanks for being an environmental steward not just today, but every day!

LIC sets course to $1b horizon:

FARMER CO-OP Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is revamping its executive team and aiming to raise revenue 500% by 2025.

Directors and farmer shareholders have given chief executive Wayne McNee the go-ahead to trim executive numbers from 11 to 8. The post of chief operating officer is abolished and four new management positions are advertised. Several current executives may settle for non-executive roles or quit.

Staff learned this month of a strategy to earn $1 billion in revenues by 2025; the animal breeding and farm technology service provider earned $200m last year. . . .

Focus shift for Landcorp:

STATE-OWNED FARMER Landcorp is seeking to make subtle but significant changes to its strategic direction.

Outlining the changes to Rural News, chief executive Steven Carden said the SOE wants people to realise there is a direct correlation between a strong Landcorp and a strong New Zealand farming sector.

Directors and staff know about the proposed changes, due for further discussion during another strategy session at a board meeting in a few weeks.

Historically the organisation has been relatively inward looking, he says. Now he’d like to see Landcorp working more collaboratively with other partners and looking well beyond the farmgate and engaging with others. . . .

Why scientific method sorts weak from chaff – Doug Edmeades:

According to my dictionary an anecdote is “a short narrative of an incident of private life”. Anecdotes are frequently used to sell dubious products to unsuspecting farmers. Their use is rife among fertiliser products.

You will all have heard them. “The chap at the end of the road put on some of that stuff – my word his lambs looked good this year”. Or, “This guy sold me some humate, I chucked it on a bad paddock down the back – now there are earthworms everywhere”. And one that has always intrigued me comes from the south, “Joe put some of that seaweed liquid fertiliser on and now hundreds of seagulls follow his plough”.

The seductiveness of anecdotes is that they are derived from observation and only a fool would dare tell a farmer that his observations are BS .. .

Farm Manager Finalists Milking 5000 Cows:

The eleven 2014 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists are together managing 5200 cows producing more than two million kilograms of milksolids.

“These finalists represent a group of dairy farm employees that work extremely hard and put in long hours to harvest the country’s sought after fresh milk in the most cost effective, sustainable and efficient manner,” National Convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The finalists are also passionate about what they do and are keen to progress their dairy industry career.” . . .

Ten Farming Ambassadors Hailed In 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards have finished another successful year, with Supreme winners from 10 regions recognised for their outstanding contribution to agricultural sustainability.

David Natzke, General Manager of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, says the 2014 competition drew a “wonderful group of entrants” and the high standard made it a real challenge for judges to pick out the final Supreme winners.

“Attendance at all the regional award ceremonies was well up on previous years. This reflects a great recognition of the awards and how well they are managed and promoted in the regions.”

Taranaki was welcomed into the competition for 2014 and the announcement of the first Taranaki Supreme winner was another highlight, says Mr Natzke. . .

 

Rural Contractors NZ hits the road during May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of road shows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says rural contractors need to get to grips with proposed changes to health and safety regulations following the recent introduction of the Health & Safety in Employment Reform Bill into Parliament.

“There are some really major changes planned which will most definitely affect rural contractors,” he explains.

“The penalties for getting it wrong, should someone suffer a bad accident at their workplace, are very severe.” . . .

Great turnout for last Regional Final:

Crowds gathered at the Mackenzie Showgrounds in Fairlie Monday 21 April for the final stop of the AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg competition series.

The Aorangi Regional Final saw Hinds Agris, Ella Yeatman, William Ward and Hayden Jefferson from Hinds School take home the top honour for the AgriKidsNZ competition and High Country Hillbillies, Holly Malcolm and Ella Sanderson from St Kevin’s School were first in the TeenAg event.

The competitions test skills, strength and stamina while introducing youth to the fun side of agriculture. Primary and high school students from all walks of life are welcome to join in. . .

Get Your Entries In For NZ’s First Gaia Awards:

Over recent months, the debate on water quality has reached boiling point with reports and commentary from prominent figures such as Dr Jan Wright Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Sir David Skegg President of the Royal Society of New Zealand and Dame Anne Salmond calling for a shift in farming practices.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of producers bucking a trend of declining water quality and profitability through a focus on soil health. The Association of Biological Farmers (ABF) are hosting NZ’s first Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) this August in recognition of these timely innovations. Entries for the Awards are closing soon! ABF wants to congratulate and celebrate not only the farmers and growers but also consultants and bio-fertiliser companies that, at a mushrooming pace, are changing the face of food production in New Zealand. . . .


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