Rural round-up

26/10/2020

GE bogged down by ambiguous rules – Richard Rennie:

Over a year after the Royal Society Te Aparangi report on genetic engineering called for an overhaul on regulations, New Zealand continues to lack a framework that can accommodate the rapidly advancing technology.

Dr David Penman, who was co-chair on the society’s investigating panel, told delegates at this year’s gene editing forum there was too much focus on the processes behind gene engineering (GE), rather than taking an outcome-based approach to what it could deliver.

“The regulation needs to be proportionate to the risk. For example, mutagenesis, using radiation to find gene mutations is not genetic engineering, but targeted gene editing is,” he said.

He says there also remained an enormous diversity of acts that scientists and researchers have to pick through when contemplating such technology.  . . 

Farmers must lead regen ag debate – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers risk having regenerative agriculture defined for them if they do not take ownership of the debate around its meaning.

Alpha Food Labs founder and co-chief executive Mike Lee says that could lead to an unfavourable definition forced on them and farmers losing control of the narrative.

Speaking at an NZX-Beef + Lamb NZ webinar on what regenerative agriculture meant for New Zealand, the US-based food strategist says the debate over what regenerative agriculture is must be a producer-led movement.

He says rather than thinking about the term, people should think about their mental framework around leaving the earth in a better way than when they got here. . . 

Tradie farmer living her dream – Cheyenne Nicholson:

A Waikato farmer is thriving on the challenge of a new dairying career alongside a successful lighting business. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.

OKOROIRE dairy farmer Laura Mitchell is all about tackling a challenge. And, growing a successful business during a pandemic is definitely that. Throw in a new career path in dairying and raising her three-year-old daughter Amber, and you could say Laura has her hands full.

The idea of being a farmer herself was never really on her radar despite always being drawn to the land and growing up on her parents dairy farm. At 16, she decided school wasn’t for her anymore and opted to leave and gain qualifications in a trade. . . 

Tales of the land girls shared at Maungati – Simon Edwards:

Among the crowd of more than 120 who travelled to Maungati, near Timaru, on Sunday to remember the World War II ‘land girls’ were two particularly special guests – Sadie Lietze (nee Stuart) and Daphne Attfield (nee Williams).

Now in their late 90s, the pair represented the last of the ranks of the New Zealand Women’s Land Service (WLS).  Like Joan Butland of Auckland, whose health didn’t permit her to make the trip south, they were among the more than 2,700 young women aged 17 to their early 20s – many of them from the cities – who in the 1940s kept farms and orchards going when men were called up to fight.  Their efforts were crucial in an era when New Zealand was still the offshore farm of Britain and locals as well as tens of thousands of American servicemen in the Pacific needed to be fed. . . 

Made with Care: Great cheese needs great milk:

With one and a half decades of experience in cheese making, Cathy Lang knows her stuff when it comes to cheese and is excited to be involved in NZ Trade and Enterprise’s international “Made with Care” campaign.

The campaign is designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand food and beverage products by demonstrating the care we take when we produce them.

Now more than ever, amid a global health pandemic, consumers are looking for safe, nutritious and premium quality food and beverage that is ethically produced and tastes good too. New Zealand’s combination of exceptional natural resources and experienced food producers, like Cathy, sets us apart and perfectly positions us to meet the needs of consumers. . . 

Can cattle grazing be good for the environment? – Eric Tegethoff:

 The ancient plains of Montana once hosted herds of animals that grazed the land. Now, cattle and other domesticated animals do that work.

According to former environmental lawyer and author Nicolette Hahn Niman, the planet actually is grazed far less than it used to be. Her book “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” explores the benefits of raising cattle and the positive effects it can have on the land – when it’s done correctly.

“Rather than so much attention being paid to the negative impacts of cattle when they’re poorly managed,” she said, “we should be focusing on the tremendous benefits of well-managed grazing.”

Cattle ranching has been criticized by some as contributing to climate change. However, Hahn Niman said, well-managed grazing can improve soil health and even help sequester carbon dioxide. She said it also can help keep water in the soil. . . 


Rural round-up

03/09/2020

A classic example of the disconnect from farming:

The new “National Environmental Standards for Freshwater” which were introduced by the current government in August are to be amended. The Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor announced Wednesday that cabinet had agreed the winter grazing regulations weren’t practical. This announcement comes before the new regulations have even taken effect; they actually come into force in September.

Federated Farmers aren’t convinced the changes to the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, announced Wednesday, will make much difference for Southland and Otago farmers.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt welcomed the amendments and Government’s acknowledgement that the policy was flawed, but said the changes still didn’t address the unique challenges farmers in the south faced, with its wetter than average winters. . .

Freshwater regs will stall progress add costs on Canterbury:

The new National Environment Standard (NES) for Freshwater could derail the progress already made on improving water quality in Canterbury, Federated Farmers presidents say.

“The new regulations coming in over the top of what Environment Canterbury already has in place will waste farmers’ time and ratepayers’ money,” says Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Cam Henderson, who was also speaking on behalf of David Clark (Mid Canterbury), Jason Grant (South Canterbury) and Jared Ross (North Otago).

The new NES rules include limits on land use intensification, set controls on intensive winter grazing, and limits the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. Federated Farmers has been consistently raising issues with the workability of the regulations. The organisation’s Southland province went as far as calling for a boycott on consents related to winter grazing. . . 

Land girls kept farms running – Sally Rae:

They were the women who kept the country running. Yet members of the New Zealand Women’s Land Service were largely the unsung heroes of World War 2 – until now.

Those women who worked on the land while men went to war will be honoured in rural South Canterbury, thanks to the efforts of former land girl Sadie Lietze (97), of Alexandra, and Fiona, Lady Elworthy, of Timaru.

A plaque and seat will be unveiled on October 18 in a park and walkway established by Lady Elworthy at Maungati in memory of her late husband, Sir Peter Elworthy.

Mrs Lietze, who was 19 when she was dispatched from Dunedin to help out at Tara Hills, near Omarama, said many people in modern times would not have heard of the organisation. . . 

Wagyu calves pricey but worth it – Annette Scott:

Wagyu cattle are treated like first-class citizens with the best of everything on Rockburn farm and they are appropriately rewarding their farmers Evan and Clare Chapman for their preferential treatment. Annette Scott reports.

Evan and Clare Chapman of Rockburn Farming in South Canterbury have produced one of the biggest Wagyu steers ever seen in New Zealand.

The Chapmans turned to Wagyu cattle just three years ago and have routinely produced 800 kg-plus cattle, but the massive 946kg steer processed this month has put the farm in the First Light record book.

In October last year, the Chapmans marked a century of farming on the rolling downs of Rockburn, near Geraldine. . . 

PWC, WONZ to merge – Annette Scott:

Two key wool grower organisations are planning a merge of operations to deliver better financial results for farmers.

Wools of New Zealand (WONZ) and Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) have committed to work together with formal discussions under way on how to combine operations in a way that will rejuvenate NZ’s languishing strong wool sector.

WONZ chair James Parsons said the wool industry must collaborate to get a better financial result for farmers.

He said bringing together two like-minded grower organisations will be an important first step in rejuvenating the current dire economic plight of wool. . . 

Pāmu performs solidly despite Covid overhang; declares strong operating profit and dividend:

Landcorp Farming Limited (Pāmu) has delivered a strong performance for the year ended 30 June 2020, achieving EBITDAR of $65 Million.

EBITDAR is Pāmu’s principal measure of performance, and this year’s result was 91% above the figure achieved in the previous year. The company’s revenue of $251 Million was a $10 Million improvement over 2019, driven by increased milk and livestock revenue.

Chairman Warren Parker and Chief Executive Steven Carden said the result was very pleasing given the unique circumstances posed by Covid-19 and the worst drought conditions in Northland in half a century. . . 

Are sheep getting too big for shearers? – Joely Mitchell:

There is a growing chorus coming from the Australian shearing industry that wool growers’ push to increase the size of their sheep is making them too big for shearers.

And it’s making the industry a less appealing option for those considering a career in it, which could cause problems down the track in regards to the future availability of shearers.

Phil Rourke has been a shearer for over 30 years and currently works for a contracting business in north-east Victoria. . . 


Land Girls

25/04/2018

Farming was a reserved occupation which exempted farmers from conscription during World War II.

Many country men enlisted anyway leaving a shortage of labour on farms which in those days had little mechanisation.

Young women were enlisted to fill jobs vacated by men in the services, some of them became Land Girls, one of those was Sadie Lietze (nee Stuart):

. . .  Lietze was interviewed and she chose the Womens Land Service. A week later tickets arrive in the post. She was being sent to Omarama to work at the high country station, Tara Hills.

“Omarama was a place I had never heard of, never been. I had to look in the map to know where Omarama was. It was quite an experience for me. I was just 19. I had never travelled much or been away from Dunedin.”

The 94-year-old recalls the trip to the high country station, where she would remain for two years, vividly:

“I left in the morning by the Mail Bus … My new boss met me in Omarama. As we travelled the three miles to Tara Hills Station in a jogger, a two wheeled cart pulled by a horse, similar to a trotting sulky. Little did I know I would stay two years as a cowman, a gardner, assistant rabbiter and horse breaker, a musterer, a wool classer and a general rouse about.

“I milked cows morning, night – every day of the year and never had a break. You would get Saturday afternoon off to do your washing. I just did everything that was asked. I did it. People say to me, ‘why did you do it?’ I say, “well, you did it because it was a war effort’.”

Growing up on a dairy farm, Lietze was using to milking cows. But the back-aching task of rabbiting was hard, she says.

Rabbits were real problem. Trapping rabbits was a fulltime job in winter. Rabbits were trapped, gutted and hung in twos on a fence at the road gate. These were picked up an hung on the rabbit truck and taken to Pukeuri Freezing Works near Oamaru to be later sent to England for food.

“After trapping we poisoned the rabbits. A furrow was scratched along the foothills, carrots were packed into saddle bags and I would walk along dropping sliced carrots into the furrows.

“Two days later I would do it again. I had to dig a huge hole big enough to bury a horse in.

“Then the next day I would drop carrots which had been laced with strychnine. The following day we would pick up hundreds of frozen rabbits, take them in the saddle bags to the big hole. Here we would skin them.

“It was a back-aching chore. In the evening we would stretch the skins on wires and hang them on a line to dry. When we had almost forgotten the pain we would start again on another block.”

The biggest hardships were the conditions and the cold, she says.

“There was no electricity. A Delco engine charged batteries for light and the wireless, which we listened to for the War News at nine o’clock. Then I would go to be and be up again at 6am. I just slept in an old hut. You take the sack off the floor and put it on you – it was freezing. Omarama is cold and you put the sack on top of your bedding to keep you warm. I wasn’t the only one.” . . . 

Some Land Girls had been brought up in the country and relished the opportunity to work on farms, often those of their families. But when the war was over and their fathers and brothers returned they weren’t given the choice of keeping their jobs.

Some women who farmed during the war were farmers’ wives who had no choice but to step into their husbands’ boots to keep the farms going.

It wasn’t easy work and it often wasn’t easy for either partner when the war was over.

One returned service man told me when he came home both he and his wife had changed and his children didn’t know who he was.

They called us the heroes, but it was the women who stayed behind who were the heroes.

My wife took over the farm and ran it while looking after the children and managed it all by herself.

She’d been doing it all for all those years then I came home, thinking I knew it all and took over.

These days, one of us would have walked out, but then you got on and made the best of it.

 


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