Rural round-up

November 14, 2019

Saving us from ourselves – John Jackson:

The Government’s policy to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand is working directly against the goals of the Paris Accord.

NZ’s pastoral farming is a low emissions process.

Studies published in the NZ Crown Research Institute (CRI) assessment of agricultural production systems the world over show NZ is “head and shoulders” above its competitors.

This goes well beyond our on farm production. With regard to NZ lamb sold in the UK, ocean shipping made up 5% of the final product’s carbon cost – voiding the belief that meat produced on this side of the world is environmentally unsustainable.  . .

Action groups motivate farmers – Richard Rennie:

Working together to gain access to high-level agriculture and business expertise is already leading to efficiency gains for a group of Hawke’s Bay farmers, rural consultant Sean Bennett says.

Bennett facilitates two Red Meat Profit Partnership action groups and is working with farmers to set up several more. 

The RMPP action network supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses working together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help make positive on-farm changes. Kick-start funding of $4000 a farm is pooled to fund facilitation and expertise. . .

Independent dairy companies offer farmers an attractive option – Gerard Hutching:

Ask a New Zealander to name a dairy company and the one they are certain to come up with is Fonterra.

But beyond that, many would be stumped for an answer. There are in fact at least a score of independents, processing 18 per cent of New Zealand milk, a share that has steadily increased over the 18 years Fonterra has been in existence.

Open Country Dairy (OCD) farmer supplier Chris Lewis speaks for many when he says farmers opt for an independent over Fonterra because it’s an easier way to get ahead. . . 

He’s just mad about saffron – Nigel Malthus:

“I always reckoned you could make a living off 10 acres,” says Canterbury saffron grower Geoff Slater.

“I think if you get the right products you definitely can.”

For Slater and his wife Jude, their 10-acre (4ha) slice of paradise at Eyrewell, north of the Waimakariri River, is where they are building a multi-faceted business trading under the Canterbury Saffron banner. . .

Council role review a priority – Neal Wallace:

New Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman James Barron promises a review of the council’s role will be completed by the co-operative’s next annual meeting.

The council’s priority will be a review of its role while contributing to discussion on the co-operative’s capital structure and new strategy.

Barron is a fourth-generation farmer milking 450 cows on the 140ha dairy farm he grew up on, on the banks of the Waihou River south of Matamata.

He replaces Duncan Coull who has retired after four and a half years. . . 

Artisan cheesemakers unite – Catherine Donnelly:

An excerpt from ‘Ending the War on Artisan Cheese,’ a new book that exposes government actions that limit food choice under the guise of food safety.

Over the past 35 years, the US Food and Drug Administration has pushed for a mandatory requirement for the use of pasteurized milk in cheesemaking, claiming a public health risk for raw milk cheese. This scenario is playing out abroad as well, where creameries are collapsing because they can’t comply with EU health ordinances. In her new book, Ending the War on Artisan Cheese (Chelsea Green Publishing, November 2019), Catherine Donnelly defends traditional cheesemaking and exposes overreaching government actions that limit food choice under the guise of food safety. The following excerpt explains how the loss of artisan cheese is tantamount to the loss of culture. 

American artisan cheese has become mainstream, providing big business for retailers such as Whole Foods, Costco, Wegmans, Murray’s Cheese (now owned by Kroger), and others. Despite the success enjoyed by US artisan cheesemakers and the meteoric rise of artisan cheese production, the American artisan cheese industry faces an existential threat: regulatory overreach. . . 


Rural round-up

May 14, 2019

Zero Carbon Bill is just the start for agriculture’s greenhouse gas adaptation – Keith Woodford:

The Zero Carbon Bill introduced to Parliament this week answers some questions but raises many others.  There are big challenges ahead for everyone, but particularly for farmers and their leaders.

As always, the devil will be in the details. These details have yet to be spelled out. More importantly, it is apparent that many of the details have yet to be determined.

If rural leaders wish to have some influence on these details, they will need to be much better skilled-up than in the past.  The next few months will be crucial as the Bill works its way through the committee stages for enactment. . . 

Brit chefs tell good lamb tales – Neal Wallace:

Kiwi lamb is once again featuring on British restaurant menus, earning its place because of its provenance and quality.

Six chefs from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore and four from New Zealand have spent the last week touring South Island farms as guests of Alliance.

The visitors said price had forced the lamb off some UK restaurant menus.

It is returning because of its provenance, consistent quality and portion size. . . 

Celebrating farming mothers – Trish Rankin:

Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother’s Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed ‘new to me’ dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink ‘borrowed’ shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women’s Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother’s Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed ‘new to me’ dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink ‘borrowed’ shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women’s Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

I did not think I had a chance of winning. The other women were outstanding and I probably suffered from ‘imposter’ syndrome – not believing I deserved the title. . . 

Saffron a growing business – Gus Patterson:

Often regarded as the world’s most expensive spice, saffron is now being grown in the Waitaki Valley.

Kurow Saffron is a venture run by sisters Sarah Hines and Joanna Towler, who planted their first bulbs in January 2017.

The bulbs multiply over time, and this year had been more than twice as productive as last year, Mrs Hines said.

Saffron comes from the threads of the flower of Crocus sativus

It is a labour-intensive process, as about 100 flowers are needed to produce 1g of the spice. . . 

Third Time Lucky for 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award Winners:

The 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are a smart, humble and practical couple who are doing very well at dairy farming on a challenging property in Northland.

In front of a capacity audience of 580 people at Wellington’s TSB Arena last night, Colin and Isabella Beazley from Northland were named the 2019 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Canterbury’s Matt Redmond became the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Nicola Blowey, also from Canterbury was announced the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $210,000.

Share Farmer head judge Kevin McKinley, from DairyNZ, says the Beazley’s impressed the judges with their resilience, team work and attention-to-detail. “They are such a great team and complement each other with their roles on farm.” . . 

New Zealand Olive Oils score in New York:

Results announced today show four New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oils were among the top winning oils in the world as judged at the 2019 New York International Olive Oil Competition

Loopline Picholene, which was Best in Show at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, won Gold.

Juno Picual, which was Best Boutique at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, won Silver. . . 

Why NZ ag needs many stories rather than just one – St John Craner:

Telling the same story over and over again gets boring. It becomes tiresome for the listener and then they stop listening. That’s the concern I have with all the talk I keep hearing about one NZ Ag Story when I attended this week’s fantastic ASB AgriFood Week (run by the very competent CEDA team).

Don’t get me wrong. A platform is great. Just look at the diversity of New Zealand wine brands who are prospering under the NZ banner. All the successful vineyard brands carve out a unique story that folds in the NZ narrative but they do it in a differentiated way, not a homogenous one. Stories can get stale with a limited shelf life just like our food.

This is why NZ wine are able to claim some of the highest price points around the world. The story they wrap around their product makes them brands that more people want to pay more for. . . 

Egg prices crack $4.43 a dozen:

The price of eggs reached a record high of $4.43 a dozen in April 2019, after rising for the past nine months, Stats NZ said today.

A national egg shortage may be one of the reasons for the rise in retail egg prices. Industry reports suggest that farmers are switching away from caged hens to more expensive free-range egg production, meaning that egg supply is down as hen flock sizes are reduced.

As a result, the weighted average price of both caged and  . . 


Rural round-up

October 25, 2016

Golden harvest from Fiordland farm – Sally Rae:

Growing saffron and Fiordland might sound an unlikely combination.

But Te Anau couple Steve and Jo Daley have big plans for their fledgling organic operation with an ambitious goal of becoming world-renowned for the costly spice.

“It’s just so damn exciting, the product, and people are so interested in what we’re doing,” Mr Daley said.

Mr and Mrs Daley have 1.5million crocus corms on their property and their intention is to  increase that  to 50million, which would make them the biggest saffron producers in New Zealand.

With a day job as a fencing contractor, Mr Daley, while stationed behind the post driver, got thinking about other ways to make a living.  . . 

Sand and milk: Dairy farming in the desert – Sally Rae:

For Clayton Buckley, the past 12 years working for Almarai — the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company — have been quite an experience.

Suffice to say, it was ‘‘not like farming here’’, he said during a recent visit home. 

Mr Buckley (35) was brought up in North Canterbury, where his father Russ was a ‘‘part-time’’ deer farmer.

He used to head south during school holidays to stay with his aunt and uncle Gail and Trevor Meikle and help on their farm, near Oamaru.

He enjoyed it so much that when he was about nine, he announced to his parents he was going to buy Mr and Mrs Meikle’s farm, he recalled. . . 

Quad bike deaths at record high – Catherine Hutton:

The number of deaths from quad bike accidents has reached a record annual high of 14, and an agriculture expert says the rate is predicted to rise.

A quad bike accident in Taupō on Saturday night left one person dead and another with moderate injuries, bringing the number of deaths from quad bikes this year to 14, a record for a single year.

The former director of Lincoln University’s Telford campus, Charley Lamb, said the deaths were occurring as a result of crush injuries, which research showed roll bars would prevent.

“Very few bikes have roll over protection, which of course they should do. Whether people want to debate that and argue that, they can. But they used to do the same about safety frames on tractors and they did the same about seatbelts in cars.” . . 

DIRA changes don’t go far enough – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra has criticised proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act as not going far enough because they continue to impose constraints on the co-operative that help its competitors.  

The proposed changes to DIRA announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy provided a mixed bag for Fonterra which its Farm Source chief operating officer Miles Hurrell labelled a “lost opportunity to address artificial constraints”.  

While an end was in sight for the requirement to sell milk to its largest competitors, Hurrell said Fonterra was still obligated to accept and process all milk produced which meant shareholders having to invest in stainless steel. . . 

Age ousts three directors – Sally Rae:

Three directors, including founder and chairman Graham Cooney, have stepped down from the board of Blue Sky Meats due to an age-related clause in the company’s constitution.

A letter sent to suppliers of the Southland-based meat company this week, signed by chairman Scott O’Donnell and directors Peter Carnahan and Andy Lowe, said Mr Cooney, Peter Houlker and Malcolm McMillan were unable to continue as the constitution precluded any individual from being a director once they reached 65. . . 

Don’t blame staff – Annette Scott:

Agri businesses are bad at attracting the right staff rather than being victims of a shortage of skilled and experienced people, Synlait Milk chief executive John Penno says.  

“Effectively, I’m saying our primary industry business models are not strong enough to compete for the right people.  

“We need leaders growing up in our businesses and we need businesses growing these leaders.”  Penno focused on the challenges of knowledge and skills for land-based industries towards 2030, in a presentation to an Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum.  

“This really made me think,” Penno said. . . 

A changing of the guard for DWN:

Dairy Women’s Network has a new skipper at the helm after today’s AGM, with incumbent chair Justine Kidd stepping down and Cathy Brown of Pahoia being warmly welcomed into the role.

A crowd of about 60 DWN members, staff and sponsors gathered at Wintec in Hamilton today to celebrate another successful year for the 9000-strong not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting and inspiring women to succeed in the business of dairying.

Brown has been involved with DWN since the late 90s, first hearing about the organisation when she worked at CRV Ambreed. She quickly became a member of what was at that point a largely internet based network and attended the organisation’s first conference in 2001. . . 


Cathy Brown (left) with Justine Kidd.

‘Good dog’ makes dog training easier – Anna Holland:

Two words I find invaluable when training dogs are “good dog”.

The secret to their effectiveness is understanding, timing and correct usage; overuse them and their power is lost.

Not only do you need to understand when and how to use “good dog”, but the dog needs to understand the meaning. I once commented to someone, “You never say ‘good dog’.” And the next thing he was like a stuck record with the words; the trouble is he may as well have been speaking a foreign language because the words had no meaning for his dogs. . . 


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