Rural round-up

15/09/2014

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

30/06/2014

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

23/04/2014

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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