Rural round-up

July 14, 2019

Quiz local govt candidates on costs, services — Feds – Sudesh Kissun:

Hold your local council candidates to account on costs and services: and if you think the voice of farmers is not being heard, consider standing for election yourself.

That’s the underlying message to rural people in the Federated Farmers 2019 local body elections guide, Platform: Feds on Local Government, released at the Feds’ AGM in Wellington this week.

“The quality of local government in rural communities can mean the difference between dodgy roads and safer ones, and many thousands of dollars in rates,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. . . 

Workshop helps tackle succession :

Taihape farmer Kerry Whale’s family hadn’t even talked about succession. 

“We had our heads in the sand really.”

“It’s a very complicated subject but now our family has a plan to build on and it’s opened communications among us about what the next 10 years will look like.”

What changed? . .

Huge effort for farmers recognised – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury cropping farmer Colin Hurst has been recognised for his immense contribution to the arable industry.

Hurst was crowned Arable Farmer of the Year at the Federated Farmers arable industry group 2019 awards in Wellington.

The South Canterbury Federated Farmers vice president has represented the federation at national, regional and branch level and contributed to the South Canterbury Rural Support Trust, the arable group’s herbage seed growers subsection, United Wheatgrowers and the Foundation for Arable Research. . .

Concentrating on black currants – Chris Tobin:

Pleasant Point vegetable and berryfruit grower Tony Howey is scaling back.

He and his wife Afsaneh Howey have sold and given up leases on 600ha of land on which they grew onions, carrots, potatoes, grain and seed, in order to concentrate on their blackcurrant business.

Mr Howey said he had hoped to find a young keen grower who might take over the operation but this did not happen.

”It was quite difficult; it’s hard to entice young ones now. There’s no-one around.” . . 

Forget about following the floundering fortunes of Fonterra – a2 Milk is the NZX’s fast-rising star – Point of Order:

New Zealand  eyes  have been so  focussed  this  week  on  an event  20,000kms distant   that they  might  not have  noticed here  at  home another  extraordinary  event, taking  place  on the  NZX.

The market capitalisation of a company  which listed   as recently  as  2012  on the local sharemarket soared  past the  $12bn  mark and is hard on the heels of  Meridian Energy,  which has the  highest   valuation  of  NZ-based companies on the NZX  at $12.3bn.

The  challenger is a2 Milk,  which sells a  specialised  type of  milk  with what  it claims are health benefits. . .

Fonterra declares war on waste :

Fonterra is planning a war on waste.

The co-op will stop sending solid waste to landfill by 2025 and will by then have 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging.

These are the right things to do and even more important as more consumers choose products that are environmentally friendly, says the co-op’s director of sustainability, Carolyn Mortland.  . . 

Being a girl won’t stop Courtney Hanns from becoming a livestock auctioneer – Olivia Calver:

YOU don’t see many women selling in yards but Courtney Hanns, 19, is one of a growing number taking up the gavel.

Courtney grew up in the Blue Mountains and from a young age set her sights on becoming a livestock agent.

“…since I was little girl, my Pop had a farm, and I always just wanted to be an agent because I loved what they do,” Courtney said.

However, first she had to convince some in the industry that she was up for the challenge. . .


Rural round-up

May 25, 2019

Plant patties may not be any healthier than beef burgers, expert says – Esther Taunton:

They’re touted as better for both people and the planet, but highly-processed plant-based “meats” may not be healthier than red meat, an expert says.

BurgerFuel this month became New Zealand’s first nationwide burger chain to add plant-based patties made by California-based company Beyond Meat to its menu.

Based on pea protein, the patties are free from gluten, soy, dairy and genetically modified organisms. . .

Science to fore in reducing stress – Toni Williams:

Our brain is working 10 times faster than ever predicted possible. We’ve lost control,” says resilience speaker and crisis negotiator Lance Burdett.

It has led to overthinking with increased negative thoughts, sleep problems and much worse.

And people needed to learn how to turn their brains off, he said.

Mr Burdett, the founder of WARN International, was in Ashburton May 9 to speak at an event hosted by the Rural Support Trust Mid Canterbury. It was part of a national tour. Around 130 people attended . . 

BrightSIDE offers career advice for farm workers

It’s not ”rocket science”, South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) committee member Amy Johnston says.

She and other committee members have put together BrightSIDE, an afternoon session during the dairy conference on June 25, which is specifically for farm workers, and focuses on career progression.

Mrs Johnston, who, along with husband Graeme, is a 50/50 sharemilker on two farms with 900 cows, wants to encourage dairy farm owners and employers to pay the $100 fee for their staff to attend. . . 

Farm replacing beef with koura :

A Maori farming partnership near Lake Taupo, which began to diversify 10 years to lower nitrogen impact, is experiencing wide-ranging benefits and opportunities.

Tuatahi Farming Partnership, which farms 6000 hectares of high country land in the catchment above Lake Taupo, was one of the first and largest landowners to strike a deal with the newly established Lake Taupo Protection Trust to protect the long-term future of the lake.

Tuatahi sold 28 tonnes of its nitrogen footprint to the trust for $10 million and sold carbon credits from tree planting to Mercury Energy. . .

Harvesting the benefits of diversity – Jenny Ling

A Northland couple run a diverse operation consisting of three business units. Jenny Ling reports.

Northland farmers Shane and Dot Dromgool already run a successful dairy and beef operation but recently branched out into the world of viticulture in a bold bid to diversify their business.

The couple run a robust operation, Longview Shorthorns, farming pedigree beef Shorthorn cattle on the outskirts of Kerikeri. It consists of a 300ha beef unit and a 200ha dairy operation. . .

Big Data has arrived for commercial sheep production. Can the effort required to harness it pay dividends? – Jamie Brown:

Big data is coming to a small production enterprise near you. Is it worth the time and money to embrace it?

Speakers at Saturday’s Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association conference in Armidale gave numerous examples of how computer assisted problem solving will directly benefit producers, and smooth speed bumps along the supply chain – with potential to bring premium prices. . .


Rural round-up

April 7, 2018

Consumers drive winner’s farming – Richard Rennie:

His work has earned him an award that will allow him to mix with Australasia’s agribusiness elite on an equal footing but Thomas Macdonald, now involved in the developing sheep milk sector, never forgets the consumers who make it all possible. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

This year’s Zanda McDonald award winner is no stranger to collecting scholarships and awards for his efforts to look longer and harder at the challenges and opportunities in the pastoral sector.

Thomas Macdonald, business manager for Spring Sheep Milk Company, has been awarded the prestigious Platinum Primary Producer (PPP) Zanda McDonald award valued at $50,000 in recognition of his work in the sector and his continuing contribution to the innovative sheep milk company. . . 

Scenic outlook part of Coop family farm on Mahia Peninsula – Kate Taylor:

A Mahia farming couple won three awards in the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Kate Taylor reports.

Okepuha Station has a bird’s eye view of the Rocket Lab launching pad on Mahia Peninsula and Richard and Hannah Coop love farming the windswept Hawke’s Bay coastline.

Richard and Hannah are the fourth generation Coops to farm at Mahia in more than a century. The family’s long association with the peninsula began back in 1905 when land was bought by Richard’s great grandfather.

The 940ha Okepuha Station was farmed by Richard’s parents, Will and Cathy, from the 1970s until recently when Richard and Hannah took over the farm business. . .

Otago University research revives dry-aging of meat – Rob Tipa:

Dry aging meat concentrates the flavour. Rob Tipa reports on a scientist who is working on an electrifying new aspect.

Meat researchers at the University of Otago are reviving an ancient technique to age and tenderise meat by exploring new technologies to make the process more efficient for commercial meat processors.

Tanyaradzwa Mungure, a PhD student in the Department of Food Science at Otago, won an award for his presentation of research into dry aging of meat at an international meat science conference recently in Ireland. . .

Farmers donate hay bales to other farmers in need –  Maja Burry:

Midhirst dairy farmers in Taranaki are donating any hay bales they can spare to farmers in coastal parts of the region who are facing a feed shortage.

The dry summer has had a significant impact on pasture and crops across the drought-hit region, with growth rates estimated to be down by at least 40 percent.

Taranaki Rural Support Trust chair Mike Green said coastal Taranaki had been particularly hard hit, with many farmers having to dry off their herds early and reduce stock numbers as they did not have enough feed. . . 

Book details history of Alexandra basin wine – Yvonne O’Hara:

It will be 30 years this year since the first modern-day wine made in the Alexandra basin was sold.

In his new book Latitude 45.15S – among the world’s southernmost vineyards journalist, Otago Daily Times columnist, bed and breakfast co-owner and author Ric Oram said 2400 bottles of Black Ridge gewurztraminer and riesling and 2000 bottles of assorted William Hill varieties were sold in 1988.

Bill Grant, of William Hill vineyard, and Verdun Burgess, of Black Ridge, sent their grapes to Rippon vineyard in Wanaka to be made into wine by Tony Bish. . . 

NZ carpet maker Cavalier on growth path after emerging from ‘tough’ restructuring – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corp is emerging from a “tough” period after an influx of cheaper synthetics forced it to restructure its business to compete. It has now streamlined its operations and with most of the pain now behind it, is stepping up investment in innovation and marketing as it eyes rising consumer demand for natural woollen products.

The carpet market has undergone rapid change over the past 20 years, with woollen carpets in New Zealand shrinking to about 15 percent of sales from 80 percent as cheaper synthetics made inroads. In response, Cavalier sold uncompetitive assets like its carpet tile business in Australia, began manufacturing its own synthetic range, and consolidated its woollen felting and yarn spinning operations. . . 


Rural round-up

February 16, 2018

Drought, disruption undermines farmers’ confidence:

A marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about the ability to recruit suitable staff are stand-out features of the Federated Farmers Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey.

For the first time in two years, farmer optimism has decreased, including negative perceptions of the economy, farm profitability, farm production and farm spending. Farm debt levels have also increased and fewer farms are now debt-free.

The Federated Farmers survey is conducted by Research First twice a year (January and July) and 1070 farmers responded to the questionnaire last month. . . 

Time to get real about forestry – Graham West:

Last year I commented on the high returns from current harvesting, however I don’t believe this is being translated into significant interest in new planting, certainly not at the rate of the governments aspirational target of 50,000ha per year. The Crown Forestry action is clearly around doing deals to secure land for leasing and other deal makers, like Toitu Te Waonui, and various forestry consultants, are doing the same, good on them.

But this doesn’t really raise the general awareness of the forestry business opportunity for land owners and investors. The challenge is how to create a pipe line of prospects who are considering land use change. The target group must be the approximately 25,000 drystock farmers in New Zealand, owning 9.5m hectares. The timeline is also important, seedlings for next winter are already booked, but the deadline for orders to secure plants for the following winter (2019) needs to be placed with nurseries by Oct-Nov 2018. . . 

Minister needs to step up as drought worsens in Coastal Taranaki:

The Minister for Primary Industries needs to step up and listen to the rural sector in the face of the worsening drought in Coastal Taranaki, National’s Rural Communities Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

Mrs Kuriger reached out to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week to discuss ideas put forward by the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, but the Minister has not accepted the invitation to meet.

“It would seem that the response by the Minister – since initially declaring the drought – has been to bury his head in the sand on the Coastal Taranaki issue. . . 

Govt passing the cap around primary industry:

The Government is going cap-in-hand to the primary sector seeking support to help eradicate the rapidly-spreading cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“It’s my understanding that the Ministry for Primary Industries is canvassing the dairy and red meat industry for contributions to fund the response and eradication of this disease.

“In Parliament yesterday the Minister Damien O’Connor couldn’t say how much money the Government is prepared to contribute to fully eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis.

“Knowing how tight the Government’s finances are because of its other big-spending commitments – and even with financial contributions from industry – Mr O’Connor has an uphill battle convincing his Cabinet colleagues how critical funding of over $100 million actually is,” Mr Guy says. . . 

National welcomes continuation of 1080 policy:

A reassurance from the Department of Conservation (DOC) that there has been no change in policy over the use of 1080 poison is welcome, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“At today’s annual review the Director General, Lou Sanson, reassured the Environment Select Committee that not only has there been no change in 1080 policy, but DOC expects to expand its use.

“This approach is critical to achieving National’s long term Predator-Free NZ by 2050 vision. Possums, rats and stoats kill 25 million birds a year, and if DOC was hamstrung from using 1080, we would see further unique species becoming extinct. . . 

Regulator asks how gene-edited food should be treated:

Planning for future GM foods coming down the line, the food safety regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for suggestions for how it should consider applications for foods that have been made using new genetic techniques that aren’t currently covered by their laws.

The current code only covers food produced by genetic techniques that add DNA into a genome and doesn’t cover newer gene editing techniques like CRISPR/Cas9 which knock out genes or proteins, or others that don’t change the DNA of the final food product.

FSANZ are asking for submissions on how these newer techniques should be assessed before they go to market. Options range from treating them like conventional breeding techniques – given a green light once a technique has been proved safe – or to be treated like current genetically modified organisms which would mean that each application requires a rigorous safety assessment. . . 

Golden Rice: Loved by humanitarians, reviled by environmentalists – Green Jihad *

Despite the Philippines and Bangladesh edging toward commercializing it, New Zealand’s food regulation agency (FSANZ) endorsed approving importing Golden Rice for sale in order to reduce trade disorder with Asian countries that allow it.

Unfortunately, an opposition group named GE-Free New Zealand has started an effort urging New Zealand’s food safety minister to review the FSANZ’s recommendation in hopes of eventually halting the importation of Golden Rice. The organization’s views are nearly in line with what environmentalist groups, like Greenpeace, have been claiming about GMO’s for years.

Golden Rice has been a vital source of nutrition for many people in developing countries who lack Vitamin A that humans need to help them survive. Sadly, environmentalist groups are undaunted in halting not only the dissemination of Golden Rice and all other GMO’s but their production too. This being done so that more humans die of starvation or illness resulting from malnutrition due to a reduction in the food supply. . . 

Sustainable ag series – farmers – Dirt to dinner:

The agriculture industry is often criticized for using too much water, using too many chemicals, and adding more carbon to the atmosphere.

However, farmers have their boots on the ground and occupy the front lines of sustainability initiatives within agriculture. No farms, no food!

While some farmers employ better approaches to farming sustainably, no farmer deliberately damages human or environmental health or wants to waste their inputs, such as water, pesticide, and labor. As stewards of the land, it is in a farmer’s best interest to preserve all of their resources for future generations of farming. . . 

* (Hat tip: Utopia):


Rural round-up

January 1, 2018

Former Federated Farmers president William Rolleston heads agricultural honours list – Gerard Hutching

Farming leaders who made a contribution touching many New Zealanders’ lives have been recognised in the New Year honours list.

Receiving an award was humbling on a personal level, said former Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston, but real recognition needed to go to the thousands of farmers who “continue to produce the food which feeds us three times a day and sustains our economy.”

Farming and science advocate Dr William Rolleston

Feds leader from 2014-17, Rolleston has been awarded with a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM). He said during his tenure farmers had “started on a journey which will be to the environment what the 1980s reforms were to the economy”. . . 

Sheep and beef farmers buoyed by strong prices and demand – Gerard Hutching:

Sheep and beef farmers are more upbeat about prospects than at any time since November 2014, the latest Beef+Lamb NZ confidence survey shows.

Confidence has risen to 59 per cent, up 16 per cent, since the last survey in August and has been attributed to strong product prices, growing demand for meat from an increasing population and belief in the quality of the product farmers are producing.

All regions showed a positive sentiment, with the strongest in the eastern North Island and central South Island. . . 

Govt gives to trusts to help drought-stricken farmers:

Little showers of rain over the last week have not been enough to end the drought that is getting its grip on coastal farmland, Brian Doughty says.

He’s a trustee of the Ruapehu/Wanganui Rural Support Trust, which will get a share of $160,000 announced by Government on December 23.

The money will go to trusts supporting farmers afflicted by drought along the lower North Island’s west coast. The dry spell has been called a “medium scale adverse event”. . .

Fonterra Revises Milk Collection Forecast:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised the forecast for its New Zealand milk collections for the current 2017/2018 season to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids (kgMS), down from its forecast in November 2017 of 1,525 million kgMS.

Fonterra’s revised forecast of 1,480 million kgMS is down around 4 per cent on the 2016/2017 season which itself was negatively impacted by weather conditions. . . 

Disagreement over stock truck effluent disposal site– Pam Jones:

The Central Otago District Council (CODC) and Otago Regional Council (ORC) are at odds over the siting of one of two proposed stock truck effluent disposal sites in Central Otago.CODC roading committee chairman Dr Barrie Wills told councillors at a committee meeting in Alexandra recently that the ORC was “bulldozing” the CODC into accepting its proposal.

The ORC proposed new sites on State Highway 6, near the Highlands Park corner, near Cromwell, and on SH85, near Brassknocker Rd, between Alexandra and Chatto Creek, Dr Wills said.

Councillors supported the SH85 site, but thought it was “entirely inappropriate” to have a site on SH6, just before the Kawarau Gorge. . .

Fighting in Italy for the freedom to farm – Giorgio Fidenato:

I may be the world’s most embattled farmer.

My goal is simple: I want to grow good crops on my small farm in the northeast corner of Italy. This includes a variety of GMO corn that European regulators approved for commercial use nearly 20 years ago.

Yet Italian government officials and political activists keep getting in the way, blocking me with new regulations and violent attacks on my land. . . 


Rural round-up

December 30, 2017

Earlier crop worrying for winemakers – Louise Scott:

Gibbston winemakers say they also could be faced with a shortage of seasonal workers after hot weather conditions mean they are ahead of schedule for grape picking.

Grant Taylor, of Gibbston’s Valli Vineyard, has never seen such an early harvest in more than 25 years in the industry.

While perfect conditions will ensure a bumper crop, he worries labour could be an issue.

“It is a real concern that because things are early there won’t be enough pickers in the region. Usually we pick in April but I wouldn’t be surprised if we were picking at the middle of March.” . .

Milk once a day to avoid burn out – Christine Allen:

The co-ordinator of Northland’s Rural Support Trust is urging the region’s dairy farmers to reduce to once-a-day milking and plan for time off over the summer holidays to prevent burnout and stress later on in the year.

Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said those working in agriculture could often resist taking time off as, unlike many other business models, they can’t just “close the door and leave”.

Ms Jonker said that while most farmers took their large break later in the year, once cows were dried off, they still needed to plan for days, or half days, away from the farm as many had been working hard since calving earlier in the year. . .

Golden fleeces flow from progeny testing and elite breeding – John Ellicott:

On the Monaro, the quest for the golden fleece is no legend, it’s a woolgrowing victory fashioned over the decades, making finer wool but increasing fleece weights. Access to top stud stock, improved pastures and adapting shearing times has created the legend.

Steve Blyton from TWG Cooma has seen average microns for the Monaro reduce from 21 microns to about 18 microns due to “breeding being so good in the area”. Some growers have seen a 3 micron improvement in their flock fleeces with fleece weight gains. . .

NZ genetics sought after says South American expert Luis Balfour  –

Whitestone Boers stud owners Owen and Annette Booth, of Milton, recently hosted Argentinian genetic importer/exporter Luis Balfour on their Milton property. Southern Rural Life talked to Mr Balfour about his interest in New Zealand stock.

Argentinian genetic importer/exporter Luis Balfour says New Zealand pedigree stock is attractive to his clients in South America as New Zealand breeders provided the ”best package” of desired traits.

Mr Balfour has been involved with importing and exporting cattle between Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Canada, the US, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand for more than 30 years. . . 

Genetically modified insects next for agriculture – Chris Bennett:

Want to crash an insect population? Slip in a self-limiting gene and topple the family tree in two to three generations. The promise of biotech mosquitoes to combat the pest that spreads Zika, dengue and yellow fever grabs the headlines, but just off center stage, the same technology utilizing genetically engineered (GE) insects is being tested on U.S. farmland.

With the flick of a genetic switch, agriculture could turn the sex drive of an insect against itself. The arrival of GE insects in farming could usher in a new wave of pest management, based on species-specific tools targeting pest insects, and result in a significant reduction in broad-spectrum insecticide applications. GE insects may provide growers with a major new pest weapon if all goes according to plan. . . 


Rural round-up

December 29, 2017

Thank you to the farmers who do a bloody hard job’ – ‘Latte-sipping’ Aucklander pens letter in support of farmers – Anna White:

An open letter written by a “latte-sipping” Aucklander has struck a chord with farmers.

Matt Shirtcliffe was compelled to show his support for the farming community after hearing the news six young farmers had lost their lives recently. . .

Farmers need compensation for stock losses caused by Mycoplasma bovis – MP – Andrew Marshall:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says farmers will need to be compensated for any stock losses accrued as a result of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

He said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor would need to provide “appropriate” compensation for cows culled to contain the disease.

Walker was in Winton visiting concerned farmers after three farms in the area were confirmed to have been infected, and said “cows are the income for farmers.” . . 

Unwelcome pests need firm response:

Just before Christmas, biosecurity investigators discovered an outbreak of a plant pest called Chilean needle grass on a North Canterbury farm. Steps were immediately taken to destroy the infestation which, if left unchecked, could reduce crop yields and cause animal welfare problems.

Its barbed seeds can work their way through animal hides into flesh and bone, leaving young animals in particular weak and vulnerable.

The discovery was the 17th known infestation of the plant invader and an unwelcome reminder that New Zealand’s primary-based economy is particularly vulnerable to pest incursions. . .

Santa fails to deliver drought-braking rain to lower North Island – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers on the west coast of the North Island have missed out on the Christmas present they most wanted – sufficient rain to break the drought gripping their regions.

In Taranaki alone there are up to 800 farms along the coast which have been harshly affected, the chairman of the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, Mike Green says.

A Ministry of Primary Industries spokeswoman said the medium-scale adverse event for the lower North Island declared by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week remained in force, despite the sprinkling of rain in the last few days. . .

These golden bananas could save the lives of many children in Uganda – Jonathan O’Callaghan:

Scientists have developed a new type of banana that could help the many children in Uganda who have a pro-vitamin A deficiency.

The so-called “golden bananas”, named for their appearance, were developed by a team from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, led by Professor James Dale. The findings have been published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

It’s hoped that by 2021, Ugandan farmers will be growing bananas rich in pro-vitamin A. About $10 million was supplied by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the research. . .

Select Harvest’s high hopes as new markets go nuts for almonds – Andrew Marshall:

The market prospects look, literally, very healthy but Australia’s biggest almond business has become more than a little gun-shy about over-anticipating its fortunes in the year ahead.

The nut harvest on about 4900 hectares of orchards in Victoria, South Australia and NSW is less than two months away, but after shock yield setbacks caused by unusually rainy, mild weather last summer and spring, nut grower, processor and marketer, Select Harvests, is not making rash promises. . . 

 


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